It would be a slight understatement to say that concerns in the U.S. about Pakistan's commitment -- or lack thereof -- to fighting insurgents in the country have heightened. But Pakistani military officials have repeatedly shot back, pointing to their own losses to signal they are doing a lot.
That Pakistan is not standing idly by is a message also put out by , Air Chief Marshal Roa Qamar Suleiman, the country's air force chief, during an address at the Dubai Air Chiefs Conference. The battle against the insurgents in the federally administered tribal areas began in 2004, he says, but really accelerated in 2008.
During a 4-6-week period in late 2008 and early 2009, the air force flew 500 strike sorties against insurgent targets. In May to July 2009, the service flew 600 sorties to deal with insurgents in the Bajaur Agency area.
Since August 2008, Qamar says the air force has flown around 5,500 strike sorties, dropped 10,600 bombs, and hit 5,000 targets.
And it is not just kinetic effects that the air force has delivered. More than 500 missions with the DB-110 reconnaissance pod on F-16s have been flown, as well as 650 missions with a modified C-130 carrying the Star Safire III forward-looking infrared sensor.
Qamar says most of the counter-insurgency missions are flown by fighters because helicopters are too vulnerable to ground threats.