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01 March 2011


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This is all interesting, but I suspect a large majority of the "JSOC" men are just very clueless USAID workers

Charles I

The kerfluffle seems commensurate with a really important reason, but an op to secure all these nukes seems kinda outlandish and extremely difficult to accomplish.

I have a hard time comprehending what the 400 Special Americans, or those not actually engaged in assistance and counter-terror intel, were doing in pursuit of these weapons, or a contingency plan to, er, secure them.

Driving around to meet agents in Lahore who know where they are, or who to suborn, or who will execute some scheme involving a hundred weapons presumably spread about the country, albeit in likely places? Surely securing 100 weapons in conditions indicating it was time to grab them before it was too late, (let alone deciding to do it and when) would be a fairly sizable military and political operation?

It doesn't sound possible, even plannable, not by 400 guys, or 4000 guys, not by all the troops next door and all the drones in country, unless the relevant military bits were well penetrated to an astounding degree. How else could it be achieved?

We can't even tell a fake Taliban peacemonger from a real one, how could we have the craft to pull that off?

I defer to you FB, but it just seems so implausible and so plausible its about less esoteric politics and intelligence, perhaps, as mooted somewhere in these threads, about Afghan political factions, corruption and intrigue, Karzai's desire to deal with the Taliban, all Pakistani interests.

William R. Cumming

Thanks for another helpful post General Ali! Like you I am only accessing open source material and have no classified access.
I can tell you flatly though that the US does NOT have 400 persons who are competent in nuclear safety and surety issues that it could deploy to Pakistan under any conditions. In fact that safety and surety of even the US nuclear weapons deployed overseas are a constant concern of mine. And of course of the Russians and Chinese and Israel and others that have their nuclear stockpiles necessarily located in a largely diverse population situation.
In other words these things need constand and vigorus tending and periodic problems even within the nuclear priesthood as I call it are evident.
And of course as I have posted comments before on this blog the utility of these weapons in and strategic or tactical sense when examined closely becomes largely fiction. I recent article described eight major gaps in nuclear strategy that I found convincing.
No the nukes are a problem for the US and Pakistan but not for the reasons ususally given. I still vote for drone targeting not the Pakistani nuclear stockpile. And the reason is the open threat leading all the way to the US President of eventual criminal trial of those in that chain under Internation Law as it currently exists [example the UN Convention Against Bombings] not in the mind of some future legal designer. Unfortuantely other types of WMD will probably have put NUKES to shame by the end of this century in their strategic application and utility. Hoping all know that Libya has documented stocks of chemical weaponary.

saeed ahmad63

Dear F.B. ALi..
1. Should be nice if your e mail address is also provided with your articles in future... for obvious advantage.
2. Your assessment is by and large correct....!

Retired (once-Serving)Patriot

Thanks FB Ali for the informative analysis. The responses of all parties to the situation over the coming weeks will bear out your conclusions.

And now the snow melts in the mountains and valleys. Spring fighting season approaches quickly.



All I have to say is that the trades craft we have been deploying to Pakistan and other countries, plainly ...sucks...

I groan for the come back of the old school.

FB Ali

Charles, WRC,

I quite agree that the idea of “grabbing” an odd 100 dispersed nukes is pretty far-fetched. (I made the mistake of using that (rather nice-sounding) term in my last post. That’s why I amended it to something ‘related’ to nukes in this one). My own guess would be that the US would try to somehow ‘neutralize’ them if and when the need arose.

Yet, how to explain the quite extreme reaction of all the parties involved in this affair? It has to be about something quite sensitive. What were several hundred JSOC types doing running around in the interior of the country? Not quite the right positioning for drone targetting. And, if it was just general intelligence work, why JSOC?

The Twisted Genius

This quote is from an article by Glen W. Goodman, Jr in Armed Forces Journal International. CP is counter proliferation. Gathering intelligence on the Pakistani nukes appears to be well within JSOC's mission area.

"Which particular SOF components would carry out the CP mission, especially if it entailed destroying stocks of WMD or production facilities located in a so-called rogue country? Shelton's statement about SOCOM's resident counterterrorist capabilities, while he couldn't confirm it due to classification restrictions, referred to the elite Special Mission Units of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) at Ft. Bragg, NC, including Army Delta Force and Navy SEAL Team Six commandos. Army Special Forces teams, which specialize in clandestine reconnaissance missions deep inside enemy territory (Dec AFJI), could potentially be used to obtain intelligence about NBC development facilities inside rogue countries such as Iraq. But it's clear that JSOC's units have taken on the lion's share of the CP mission."


General Ali,

I can tell you that "grabbing" 60 to 90 nuclear warheads, of which are controlled by both the Pak Air Force (F16 delivery) and Army (missile launched "Hatf-
III" and "Hatf-IV/V), is no easy task by any stretch of the imagination.

Furthermore, with India increasing its strategic capability. I would expect the Paks to do the same.

However, my belief is that we are more focused on Pakistan's newest military reactor (with help from China) at Khushab. Rather than taking out or grabbing any nukes.

Rather than focusing on grabbing nukes. I believe that one of our very first priorities needs to be getting the Indian/Pak Cold War over and done with.

While I believe (my own opinion) that the Pak Military would neutralize its own nuclear weapons systems if the threat of a take over by radicals of the government and the military was in fact going to occur. At least that is what I would hope the Pak NCA would do.

Otherwise I really fear the alternatives.

William R. Cumming

Before the Kennedy Adminstration gave the Soviets the PAL lock technology (Permissive Action Link) the Soviets stored their actual warheads up to 3-5- miles away from the delivery systems. Any open source info on Pakistani surety and safeguards and impact on deployment of both warheads and delivery systems?


Very interesting. Thanks for the links. The Davis affair in reality is better than any spy novel I have ever read. Still, I sense a missing puzzel piece, why davis acted as he did, did he expect the powers to be in Pakistan would ultimately "save" him? could he possibly believe this would not become international news? What is behind Davis's thinking?

Charles I

Re FB: "the US would try to somehow ‘neutralize’ them if and when the need arose."

Can anyone moot how this is done technically, in Pakistan, either militarily, electronically, politically/ or via Stuxnet or Facebook or some kind of intelligence op?. What is physically involved, in country, for such a scheme, aside, apparently, from Mr. Davis?

The Twisted Genius;

"clear that JSOC's units have taken on the lion's share of the CP mission."

And why not. The military has taken over most of diplomacy and the political share of counter proliferation is now reported as budget fodder, whereas DOD spending NEVER goes down.

William R. Cumming

US forces used to use containers for warhead painted blue for training and olive drab for war reserve. When De Gaulle kicked US out of FRANCE and left NATO he was shocked to find that the US had removed all war reserve weapons already. Guess which containers were used? Warheads do really require highly specialized care if they are to be usuable. These conditions are markable by INTEL fairly easily except when underground. That is why the GERMANS [the world's experts on underground facilities] have been so helpful to so many countries in burrowing underground facilities. Of course when underground and protected from attack Warheads can often have significant time intervals before deployment. I would argue that the N.Koreans are almost totally underground in their key facilities including perhaps many undiscovered tunnels leading into S.Korea.

Phil Giraldi

Unless things have really changed in Washington since my time, I cannot imagine that CIA would be running an operation for JSOC. Davis is clearly CIA and his activity and demeanor prior to the actual shooting are clearly those related to the context of meeting a unilateral agent in a hostile environment. It is quite possible, however, that the meeting could have had something to do with a source on the Pak nuclear program, hence the high level of interest by Washington, but I prefer to think that the real problem with Davis is that he knows a lot and might be willing to spill his guts to cut a deal on his sentencing. The prospect of that would make a lot of crowned heads in Washington very uneasy. I would imagine frantic damage control has already taken place and is continuing.

Byron Raum

A nuclear fission bomb is essentially two pieces of radioactive material. The bomb is activated when you slam the two pieces together, if you do it fast enough. The easiest way to deactivate 100 such nuclear devices is to just bomb them - if you know where they are. This is well within US capability. It also occurs to me this is information many would think is worth the killing of two men in cold blood.

There's a small chance that a conventional explosion itself pushes the radioactive components together to form a true nuclear explosion, but [a] if you do that, you have also made the device unusable (obviously) and also certainly any other devices nearby and [b] I am sure they are stored in a way to make this possibility as remote as possible.


Diplomatic immunity? To humiliate the nation to this extend?

Sidney O. Smith III

Thank you very much for your contributions, Brig. Ali. If only the American people would listen…

Patrick Lang

Byron Raum

"if you know where they are" We do not. pl


FB Ali, as usual a great article which highlights the complexity of operations in AfPak.

Thank you for another great article, Sir.

WRC - I can tell you flatly though that the US does NOT have 400 persons who are competent in nuclear safety and surety issues that it could deploy to Pakistan under any conditions.

The Army and Air Force do not have the component personnel, but the Navy does.


Davis and the “team” he belongs to we're probably mapping those locations or just keeping the map up to date for rainy day. Seems reasonable to farm that kind of work out to contractors.  Maybe Davis got spooked or just effed up. Human beings make mistakes under pressure even well trained ones. Most governments are not favorable to folks snooping around their “sensitive” sites.

Patrick Lang


"or just keeping the map up to date for rainy day" No. Just TRYING to keep the map up to date. These weapons are mobile. Get it? pl

William R. Cumming

Jose! Unfortunately, isn't Pakistan largely landlocked?


Questions for Mr. Ali or others on this thread:

1. Don't you think Davis just freaked and preempted what he thought was about to be a kidnapping or killing William F. Buckley style?

2. Is there a shred of evidence to link him to Pak nukes other than wild local speculation and paranoia? Whereas we know he was in N. Waziristan and that the ISI has arrested something like 45 of his contacts from his cell phones left in the car. Terrorists are in N. Waziristan and probably not too many nukes.

3. Don't you think ISI, Pak military and pols all want this problem to go away without riots in the streets? Wouldn't this explain their supposed offer to trade him for a terrorist we have in custody that would have street appeal in Pakistan but do no real harm to the US? Let's get this guy out of there before he gets shanked by a fellow prisoner, shot by a zealot guard or put on show trial Francis Gary Powers style.

The beaver

Anyone seen this or heard of this gentleman before:

I was young and foolish in those days of the Vietnam War, coveting my Top Secret security clearance, a big thing for an uneducated hillbilly from Appalachia. We saw ourselves much like James Bond characters, but now I am much wiser. These kinds of actions have immense and long reaching consequences and should be shut down.

I see from the Ray Davis fiasco in Pakistan that our government is still up to its old way of denying to the people of the world what everyone knows is true.

Col Asad Kayani (Retd)

Charles script shows Raymond Davis(if that IS his name)was as innocent as a baby. Leave alone 400 US Spec Ops guys, I wouldn't be surprised if there are much much more, doing things which are against diplomatic norms. Unfortunately, the good American public is ignorant about what their govt does.
Charles, in case you are interested, I cn send you a list of the US covert activities all over the globe since 1948.
Why all this pressure for an ordinary citizen, or do the US Govt do it it for everyone !!! Let legal course be followed.

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