US set to enhance drone strikes in Pak by over 75 percent despite local outrage

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Washington, Feb.3 (ANI): The United States is planning to increase the use of unmanned drones significantly in its war against terror, as the American defence budget for 2011 seeks more funds to enhance drone operations by 75 per cent.

Excited by the success rate of the missile strikes in the tribal region along the Pakistan, Afghanistan border, the Obama administration is mulling increasing the number of Predator and Reaper aircrafts from 37 to 65.

"With this funding, we will increase the unmanned Predator and Reaper orbits from 37 to 65, while enhancing our ability to process, exploit and disseminate information gathered by this game-changing technology," US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said.

"As we've seen firsthand through eight years of war, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets are absolutely critical enablers for the war-fighter," he added.

Mullen's statement came just hours before a series of drone strikes killed at least 16 Taliban operatives in terror hot bed North Waziristan.

The latest attack is believed to be the deadliest of such strikes in the region so far, as up to eight drones carried out the attacks simultaneously.

Talking to reporters about reports regarding the substantial increase in drone operations, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the new drones would be added to the American military's arsenal in a couple of years, and added that these would be the 'most advanced UAVs', The Dawn reports.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon sent a 708 billion dollar defence budget proposal to the Congress, reflecting a major shift in the US military strategy from conventional wars to counter-insurgency operations.

The three separate requests include 548.9 billion dollars for 2011 base budget, 159.3 billion dollars for 2011 overseas contingency operations proposal and 33 billion dollars as additional aid.

The additional aid covers costs of implementing President Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. (ANI)

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