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US can't seal Af-Pak border: Pentagon

world Updated: Dec 29, 2010 11:23 IST

Acknowledging that terrorist have a safe haven inside the tribal areas of Pakistan from where they operate and cross over to Afghanistan, a top Pentagon official on Wednesday said that it would be a tough job to seal the Af-Pak border.

"As far as the border itself, I think it's naive to say that we can stop, you know, forces coming through the border," said Col Viet Luong Commander, Task Force Rakkasan and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

"In order to secure the border, as well -- as you know, it takes a lot. It takes effort on the other side, by the Pakistanis," said Luong, who is responsible for eastern Afghanistan which includes the volatile Khost province and 261 km of Af-Pak border.

In a special video conferencing with Pentagon reporters from Kabul, he said, "as our footprint is expanded along the security line of effort, it's harder and harder for these guys to come and bed down in these villages."

"To secure the border in the traditional sense, if you're talking about, you know, like what we would do along our own border with Mexico down in the southwestern United States, that's not what we're doing. It takes an inordinate amount of resources and force to be able to do that," he said in response to a question.

"You can look at this as a defence in depth, whereby you have your front line defenders, which are -- which really starts on the Pakistani side of the house, by the way. They have hundreds of border checkpoints across backed up by dozens of checkpoints on our side that's manned by Afghan border police, and then we back those guys up with US and ANA forces, really to hand over the border piece to the Afghan border police," he observed.

"You can get more effects by defending in depth than you are in line. So we pick and choose where -- the best places that we can defend the border, and then be able to target those guys where they feel safe in. I think that's been the key to our success," he said.