Counterterrorism Through Air Power

(RAF Photo)

(RAF Photo)

Interesting early precedent for the recent drone campaign waged by US forces in South Asia from the Royal Air Force’s history:

March – May 1925Outrages by Mahsud tribesmen in Waziristan, India, see the RAF involved in its first independent air action. Aircraft from Nos. 5, 27 and 60 Squadrons, commanded by Wing Commander RCM Pink, bomb and strafe mountain strongholds in a successful attempt to crush the rebellion. On 1 May, the rebel leaders seek an honourable peace, and the short campaign known as “Pink’s War” came to a close. A campaign in 1919 had proved inconclusive after causing 1,329 casualties; this latest action results in the loss of just 2 men.

We generally call them “Mehsud” tribesmen now, and notwithstanding the ‘success’ the RAF had in putting down the rebellion it continues to be the case that the central governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan have little effective authrority over them. These days, though, the Pakistani military is working with one Mehsud faction (the Abdullah Mehsud group) against the faction led first by the late Baitullah Mehsud and now by Hakimullah Mehsud.