Officials Stand Behind U.S. Report on Pakistan Incident

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2012 — U.S. offi­cials stand by their asser­tion that the Nov. 26 attack that result­ed in the deaths of 24 Pak­istani sol­diers was in self-defense, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kir­by said here today.

The Pak­istani mil­i­tary issued a news release on the find­ings of its own inves­ti­ga­tion of the inci­dent, and the Pak­istani state­ment “that it was an unpro­voked attack by Amer­i­can forces is sim­ply false,” Kir­by said.

The Pak­istani asser­tion direct­ly con­tra­dicts the con­clu­sions that U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Stephen A. Clark released Dec. 22 in his inves­ti­ga­tion report.

Clark said U.S. forces act­ed in self-defense and respond­ed with appro­pri­ate force after being fired upon. “We stand 100-per­cent behind the find­ings of the inves­ti­ga­tion that Gen­er­al Clark did,” Kir­by said.

Clark said the inci­dent was a result of inad­e­quate coor­di­na­tion between U.S. and Pak­istani mil­i­tary offi­cers oper­at­ing through the bor­der coor­di­na­tion cen­ter. This includes rely­ing on incor­rect map­ping infor­ma­tion shared with the Pak­istani liai­son offi­cer, which result­ed in a mis­un­der­stand­ing about the true loca­tion of Pak­istani mil­i­tary units. Clark’s inves­ti­ga­tion also con­clud­ed that there were oth­er gaps in infor­ma­tion about the loca­tions and activ­i­ties of units on both sides of the bor­der.

U.S. offi­cials invit­ed the Pak­istani mil­i­tary to be part of the Clark inves­ti­ga­tion, but they refused, Kir­by not­ed.

“We said then, and we say again today, that we desired Pak­istani par­tic­i­pa­tion in the inves­ti­ga­tion,” Kir­by said. “We believed it cer­tain­ly would have been more thor­ough if they had par­tic­i­pat­ed, but they decid­ed not to.”

The lack of Pak­istani offi­cials in the Clark inves­ti­ga­tion does not change the U.S. belief in the valid­i­ty of the find­ings of the inves­ti­ga­tion, the cap­tain said.

The Unit­ed States wants to get past the inci­dent and build a good coop­er­a­tive rela­tion­ship with the Pak­istani mil­i­tary, Kir­by said. “We still believe that coor­di­na­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Pak­istani mil­i­tary — par­tic­u­lar­ly across that bor­der — remains vital to our suc­cess in Afghanistan,” he added.

Pak­istan has closed sup­ply lines into Afghanistan that run through the coun­try. “We would like to see the gates reopened. It makes sup­ply­ing our troops and coali­tion part­ners eas­i­er,” Kir­by said. “But this is a deci­sion that only Pak­istani offi­cials can make, and we respect that.”

The rela­tion­ship between the Unit­ed States and Pak­istan “is in a tough place” right now, Kir­by acknowl­edged, adding that the two nations must work togeth­er to move beyond the cur­rent dif­fi­cul­ties.

U.S. offi­cials have expressed “deep­est regrets” to the fam­i­lies of those killed in the inci­dent.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)