OTR Interviews

White House Walks Tightrope in Deadly NATO Strikes on Pakistani Forces

White House walks tightrope in investigating deadly strikes on Pakistani forces involving NATO


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: We have a big problem with Pakistan and it just got bigger. A deadly NATO airstrike on a Pakistani military post killed 25 Pakistani soldiers. Now, it's the deadliest case of friendly fire since the Afghanistan war started. Major General Bob Scales joins us. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: First of all, what happened?

SCALES: Saturday morning about midnight, a Pakistani outpost saw movement, fired a flare, and opened up with machine gun and mortar fire. It happened it was a U.S.-Afghan patrol. The U.S. side came under fire, called the Pakistani clearance channel to make sure there were no Pakistanis on that position. The Pakistanis said it was clear.

And one of the things I asked my source is how come so many Pakistanis died? The answer is that the firepower source that responded was an AC 130 gun ship, and as you know from your time there, that's the most lethal form of fire support we have in Afghanistan. Beginning at about 2:00 in the morning to half-hour the gun ship raked those two positions --

VAN SUSTEREN: Do they need to do it that long for two hours?

SCALES: The two hours was one side maneuvering against the other trying to find out who they were. The actual firepower attack went much more quickly. It's very sad.

VAN SUSTEREN: We didn't need this. The Pakistani military already doesn't like us. We have the problem from bin Laden raid, when we went in, and the Pakistani people aren't wild about us and they have the nuclear weapon and we need their help in Afghanistan and it's a supply route. What do we do now?

SCALES: Well, this couldn't be any worse. What makes it frustrating, the U.S. command, all the generals in charge of making amends with the Pakistani military has been at it since the Usama bin Laden killing and has done great work to get things back on track and then this happens.

VAN SUSTEREN: What can we do? It is not just a minor blip.

SCALES: No, it's huge.

VAN SUSTEREN: This is serious. What should the United States to? Should the president be involved in this, the secretary of state?

SCALES: The first thing you have to let it blow over as much as you can.

VAN SUSTEREN: They hate us. I have been there.

SCALES: I have been there, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: They are hostile to us. As civilians they don't like us.

SCALES: You have to let it blow over and focus on the Pakistani military. They are the most respected institution in Pakistan.

VAN SUSTEREN: And they guard the nuclear weapons and they don't like us. And they don't trust us.

SCALES: It is a very complicated situation. There are some in the Pakistani military who are very favorable toward us but they don't want to advertise it. The ISI and intelligence arm is very much against American presence in Afghanistan. But we have no choice. This is a nuclear armed country. If we don't make it right with the Pakistanis, then the deal is American soldiers will day. That's what I worry about most.

VAN SUSTEREN: We're already giving them billions of dollars in an effort to make it go right. We traveled "On the Record" with Secretary State Hillary Clinton when she made an announcement of $7 billion in aid to the Pakistani and they were livid because we wanted to know how they were going to spend the money. This is not a happy relationship. Can we afford for them to be patient not to get mad at us?

SCALES: Sadly we have no choice. They guard the entrance into Afghanistan. They are a nuclear armed power. There are elements within Pakistan we can work with, but you have to ask the question, if this goes south and cut off all relationships, what is the alternative? The alternative is much, much worse.

VAN SUSTEREN: So take me through this. We just sort of sit it out for how long?

SCALES: A few weeks and re-establish mil-to-mil contacts, do the investigation.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let's say the military people, let's say we square things up with them. We still have the Pakistani people and they have an enormous amount of influence and the government is unstable. Even if we make friends again with the military, we still have to contend with the fact the huge population is not happy.

SCALES: Absolutely. I think we are hated by many members of the Pakistani population, particularly in the northeast. We will never make that right. This has to be a military to military, government-to- government patchwork in order to get things back on track again. We have to open those logistics points, get supplies flowing again and we have to re-establish connection between the border area with the U.S. and Pakistanis and we have to get this thing back on level.

VAN SUSTEREN: And the Pakistanis just pulled their ambassador to the United States just resigned over more controversy over the weekend. Any, general, thank you.

SCALES: Thank you, Greta.