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Thursday, 8 April 2010

From Today's Papers - 08 Apr 2010

The Army’s new role in Kashmir Factor in threat dynamics, preserve gains by
Maj-Gen Ashok K. Mehta (retd)  Last week, Defence Minister A.K. Antony warned the Army to expect a hot summer in Jammu and Kashmir not due to climate change but Pakistan’s resolve to escalate violence. Recent calls for jihad in Kashmir by the United Jihad Council and the threat of water wars against India by Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed are part of the new game plan.  Of the 42 terrorist training camps, 32 are known to be operational with 2,500 militants, some equipped with GPS and sophisticated Thuraya sets ready to breach the fencing on the LoC to reinforce the dwindling strength of militants declined from a high of 3000 to 3500 in 2001-02 to just 600 today.  The calls for withdrawal of the Army are, therefore, insane and claims on deinduction of 35,000 troops not entirely correct. The two Divisions withdrawn are part of theatre reserves and were deployed during Operation Parakram. These were later relocated along the fencing and have been redeployed in their original locations on restoration of normalcy.  With militancy brought down in 2008-09 to the lowest levels in two decades, Jammu and Kashmir is ripe for a political solution which could lead to demilitarisation of forces.  The Army was rushed into Srinagar in October 1947 to save it from the onslaught of Pakistani raiders. It has not ceased battling infiltrators since that day but over time has created conditions for the political process which has lagged behind to take over. The strategy followed by New Delhi has been to keep insurgencies under control, the military employing minimal force in good faith. The government has shown neither any urgency for conflict resolution nor concern for civilian and combatant casualties which have exceeded the collective fatalities of all the wars. India has missed at least two opportunities in 1971 and 2007 to resolve the Kashmir dispute on its terms or ones favourable to it.  The Army is deployed in Jammu and Kashmir both in its war locations on LoC as well as in the counterinsurgency grid, the latter in aid to civil authority. This is unique: the Army performing its primary and secondary roles in one geographical entity. The intention has been to free the Army from its counter-militancy role, with Central and state police forces gradually taking charge. That began to happen in the late 1980s just before crossborder infiltration and militancy rocketed in August 1989.  Srinagar garrison duties were taken over from the Army’s fighting formation by the Sub Area headquarters which handed over to the BSF. While Srinagar is under the CRPF charge today, the idea is for state police forces to eventually take over CIS duties. The CRPF in Anantnag and the BSF in Sopore are just the preliminary steps towards demilitarisation.   In 2007, a committee under Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt had evolved a relocation plan for troops to vacate orchards, hotels, schools and other civilian premises affecting business and livelihood. Not only has the Army relocated but also paid a modest compensation.  Political initiatives were launched by the NDA government to defuse tension on the LoC and minimise violence in the state. NSA Brajesh Mishra and his Pakistani equivalent, Tariq Aziz working back channel produced the first ceasefire in November 2003. It has held with some violations but over all, provided immense relief to both sides and in financial terms, amounting to Rs 500 crore annually. The big lacuna of the case fire was that cross-border infiltration was excluded as the ceasefire was between the two armies.  The other ceasefire that materialised all too briefly during 2000-01 was internal between the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and the government. At least twice, UJC chief Salauddin offered conditional ceasefires but these never took off. Operationally, the internal ceasefire had limited utility as foreign militants who constitute 60 per cent of the armed militants were not part of it. Some conversations did take place between intelligence agencies and the Hizb.  The scaling down by the Army of the militant population from a high of 3000 fighters to the current 600 has taken over a decade of hard work.  The balance of advantage shifted in the Army’s favour only after it ensured that the attrition of militants outstripped their rate of reinforcement. Fencing along the LoC and a more proactive CIS strategy backed by high-tech equipment blunted militancy that in 2004 it was near-zero infiltration.  The Army’s elaborate Sadbhavna programmes and sensitivity to human rights helped to wean away the people from the militants, especially in the rural areas. The challenge for the Army and security forces is not just to “keep the cap on 600” but to reduce this figure further.  The call for troop withdrawal for reasons of political expediency does not factor in the threat dynamics and the imperative to preserve the hard-earned gains. What is politically correct is operationally fatal. The other demand for repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is intimately linked to providing legal safeguards for troops fighting militancy.  AFSPA was notified in 1989 by declaring three districts of Jammu and Kashmir as disturbed areas — the Kashmir Valley and Doda.  The ministries of Home and Defence are engaged in making AFSPA more people-friendly and humane but as long as cross-border activities continue, its repeal will undermine the operational effectiveness of troops.  Reducing the stress and strain on security forces is the moral responsibility of the military and political leadership. It is the failure of governance that leads to the political mess which the administration expects the Army to clean up. There is no Sri Lanka-type solution in Jammu and Kashmir and what had been achieved represents the best feasible for transition to the political process.  In 1971, the government frittered away the political and diplomatic gains of the historic military victory in East Pakistan. For more than two decades after that missed opportunity, the government took no substantive action towards a political solution. In 2006-07, back channel talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s envoy on Pakistan, Satinder Lambah and the Musharraf-confidant Tariq Aziz produced the four-point Kashmir formula. India could not have expected a better agreement.  Unfortunately, the front channel was unable to capitalise on it. Srinagar lies in the flight path of the Taliban suicide bomber who arrived in Muzaffarabad across the LoC earlier this year. The last and only human bomber to strike in India was LTTE’s Dhanu who took out Rajiv Gandhi.  Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed only fidayeen attacks which is kid stuff compared with multiple suicide bombings, now routine in Pakistan. The Army should be prepared to deter this challenge as the growing turbulence in Af-Pak is bound to rock Kashmir soon. Sixty-two years after it launched its first post-independence, expeditionary forces in Jammu and Kashmir the Army must be ready and willing to stick it out for at least a half century and more, with a fair likelihood of it getting sucked into the Maoist cauldron too.  That’s the price the country has to pay for political shortsightedness and preference for conflict management rather than its resolution.

Maoist Mayhem Day after, troops scared to enter forest 
Raipur, April 7 A day after 76 troopers were massacred in the worst ever Maoist attack on Tuesday, hundreds of paramilitary men and state police personnel assigned to track down the killers were scared to enter the jungles of Chhattisgarh, fearing a repeat of the ‘bloody’ incident.  The shell-shocked police authorities here have ordered the deployment of nearly 40,000 policemen in the restive Bastar region.  But officials posted in the interiors of the region say: "The Tuesday attack has rattled the entire police force engaged in the anti-Maoist operation and they are now reluctant to enter the landmine-infested jungle terrain".  "It's easy for everyone to dictate to us from New Delhi and Raipur sitting in air-conditioned chambers, but here the situation is completely hostile because Maoists rule the roost in jungles. The forces in Bastar now need urgent motivation,” a police officer based in Dantewada said on phone.  Police officers posted in the sprawling 40,000-sq km Bastar terrain -- made up of the five districts of Bijapur, Narayanpur, Bastar, Kanker and Dantewada -- say policemen are suffering high casualties because of an absolute lack of co-ordination between state forces and paramilitary men who are put in difficult terrains in Chhattisgarh.  “Despite all efforts at the police headquarters and at the state government level, the CRPF is not taking the local police and special police officers (SPOs) along while entering the Maoists' den and are thus getting killed without a fight," noted a senior official here. — IANS

If this is war, we will fight back, says PC
l No plan to use the Air Force for now l Cong wants Naxals ‘wiped out’
Tribune News Service & Agencies  New Delhi, April 7 A war has been thrust on the government, acknowledged Union Home Minister P Chidambaram at Jagdalpur on Wednesday and declared that if it becomes necessary, the government would re-visit the mandate on the use of Air Force in the offensive against the Naxalites. “ If this is war, we will fight back,” he declared.  The Prime Minister was more cautious and told the media at the Rashtrapati Bhavan that all options were reviewed from time to time but there was no proposal before the government to deploy either the Army or the Air Force at the moment. While Chidambaram placed emphasis on the need to “remain calm and hold nerves”, the Indian Air Force Chief spoke out against deployment of defence forces within the country.  The Army and the Air Force, said Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, are not equipped to carry out ‘limited’ lethal action, which is best left to the police and paramilitary forces.  Indications are, however, that after the initial shock over Tuesday’s bloodbath, the government is hardening its stand. Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan told newsmen in New Delhi that the party wanted the government to do everything to “wipe out the Naxalites”. Socio-economic issues of the people, she suggested, could be tackled later.  The Union Home Ministry also announced a compensation of Rs 38 lakh for each of the policemen killed in the deadliest ambush by Naxalites in the last 43 years. Besides the monetary compensation, which includes shares from the state government and the CRPF, the government also announced a job to a family member on compassionate grounds and ‘liberalised’ pension.  Security agencies, meanwhile, have reported to the government that a tactical blunder cost the men their lives. The CRPF company is accused of ‘operational one-upmanship’ in making the foray into the forest without taking the state police into confidence. While there were intelligence inputs that 200 to 300 Naxalites had assembled in the vicinity, the men made the mistake of spending the night in a village, barely four kilometres from their base camp, before getting into the forest at daybreak.  The Home Minister, however, ruled out any lack of coordination between the CRPF and the Chattisgarh Police and claimed that the men had ventured into the forest to “understand and familiarise themselves with the terrain” and were not lured by wrong intelligence. He was quick to add though that only an inquiry would establish what went wrong.  During the day, special Air Force transport planes were used to send bodybags to different states. They were received with military honours in New Delhi, Lucknow, Patna and Jaipur and sent by road to other places.  A cautious Chidambaram, who flew down to Jagdalpur to pay homage to the dead and held consultations with officials at Raipur before returning to New Delhi, however, called upon people not to expect ‘instant success’. The offensive against Maoists, he reiterated, would take three to four years to show results.

Use of air force can be revisited in Naxal operations: PC
ANI / Jagadalpur April 7, 2010, 16:18 IST  Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said that while at the present there was no mandate for the government to use the military or the air force in anti-Maoists operations, the option of using the air force could merit a revist.  Addressing a joint press conference along with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Chidambaram ruled out the use of the military in anti-Maoist operation, but said if situation arose, the government may revisit its previous mandate.  “There is no need to engage the air force or the army in the operation. This is our present mandate. But if time arises, and if required the Government may revisit its mandate,” he said.  In Gandhinagar, the Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik expressed his reservations over using the air force in ongoing anti-Maoist operations but said the IAF would involve itself if the state ordered.  “At this level, it is not required. If the state is willing, they can order us at any time, we are ready for that,” Air Chief Marshal Naik said.  Chidambaram also held a review meeting of joint forces with senior central and state police officials.  Chidambaram assured the nation that the Government would not allow the sacrifice of 76 Central Reserve Police Force personnel to go in vain and ruled out holding talks with the Naxals at the cost of their sacrifice.  “There is no talk of talks. The 76 brave soldiers made a supreme sacrifice to save the sovereignty and integrity of the nation. We will not hold any talks at the cost of this sacrifice,” Chidambaram said with emotion.  “The Maoists are very cruel, they have declared a war against the state, the state is capable enough to give a befitting reply,” he warned.  In the morning, Chidambaram along with State Governor Shekhar Dutt, Chief Minister Raman Singh, senior police and Home Ministry officials led the nation in paying homage to 76 dead CRPF personnel.  Chidambaram reiterated there is no operation called “Operation Green Hunt,” and clarified that it is an operation launched by the State Governments with the support of central security forces.  “There is no Operation Green Hunt. At some time, one officer used the word. In many times earlier I have denied of any such operation,” Chidambaram said.  “The operation is launched by the State Police and supported by the Central security agencies,” he added.  Chidambaram also denied reports of non-cooperation between the state and central police.  He said Tuesday’s operation was not launched on the basics of intelligence inputs, but was an area domination operation, decided and launched by the local police and CRPF officials.  “The decision to launch an operation was taken by the Jagadalpur Superintendent of Police Amarinder Mishra, DIG of the 62nd battalion Kalluri and other senior officials. The 81-member strong company left the base on April 4,”Chidambaram said.  The company came under heavy firing when they were returning to base after a two-night stay in forest to acclimatize themselves with the terrain.  Chidambaram informed that most the deaths were caused due to IED blasts, and crude bombs. However, a clear picture can emerge only after the debriefing of injured personnel, he said.

Officer killed during army exercise in Rajasthan
April 7th, 2010 SindhToday      Chandigarh, April 7 (IANS) A Chandigarh-based Indian Army officer was killed in a freak accident during an army exercise at the India-Pakistan border in Suratgarh in Rajasthan, officials said here Wednesday.  According to defence officials, 23-year-old Lieutenant Nishant Karol was the tank leader during the exercise when the accident happened late Tuesday night.  “Karol’s tank fell into a blind well resulting in the death of the officer. His father resides in Sector 27 in Chandigarh and he is manager in a nationalized bank,” a defence spokesperson told IANS.  Karol’s father J.K. Karol is working in the State Bank of India while his mother is a senior employee at Bank of Baroda.  After receiving the shocking news, relatives and family friends started pouring into Karol’s residence, where the atmosphere was tense and disturbed.  Kamal Sud, maternal uncle of the deceased said: “Nishant’s body will reach here tomorrow (Thursday) morning. We will wait for the arrival of his elder brother, who is presently in Singapore, before performing the last rites.”  “Nishant had joined the Indian Army in 2008 and he was always very enthusiastic about his job,” Sud said.

For Pakistan, India is real threat, Taliban just an irritant
By Sajjad Malik Apr 7, 2010, 11:45 GMT  Islamabad - Pakistan's security establishment, unmoved by the threat from homegrown Islamic insurgents, is to launch a training exercise this week focused on the scenario of a possible showdown with traditional rival India.  The country's powerful military is to launch exercise Azm-e-Nau (New Resolve) III to test the capacities of its men against a hypothetical Indian attack, and validate its security strategy.  The war game is the culmination of the new strategies discussed over a period of one and half years at various academic and operational levels, and will be the largest military exercise since 1989.  Director General Military Training (DGMT) Major General Muzzamil Hussain told reporters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi that the forthcoming exercise will 'focus on India.'  The exercise coincides with renewed efforts against Islamic militants, who last year moved to within 160 kilometres of the capital Islamabad.  They have been since pushed back to mountainous hideouts along the Afghan border, from where they continue to launch attacks against the national armed forces.  Pakistan's army, more than a half-million strong, has been reluctant to move against the rebels, who have previously been groomed by the forces to fight as their proxies, first in Afghanistan and later in India.  Since 2001, the Pakistani army has lost more than 2,000 soldiers in skirmishes against the Taliban in the inhospitable terrain along the border, where once Islamabad's security officials would guide the militants into Afghanistan to fight the Russian occupiers.  The bad blood between army and militants has given hope to local security analysts and US defence policy makers that Pakistan's army might re-write its security doctrine, replacing India with the Taliban as chief security threat.  The US needs Pakistan's commitment to fight a focussed war against the Taliban to succeed in Afghanistan and it has been trying to increase Pakistan's comfort level vis-a-vis India.  But the upcoming war games could put paid such hopes, as Pakistan puts its military strategy against India through its paces from April 10 to May 13 close to the Indian border.  'The exercise is a concept validation stage of the operational thought process manifested in the form of tactical, operational and organizational aspects which would be validated and refined through the lessons learnt,' military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said.  The two countries have a history of enmity and have fought three major wars since gaining independence from Britain in August 1947. Two of the clashes were over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is considered a flash point between the nuclear-armed neighbours.  General Muzzamil justified the manoeuvres, saying India had carried out at least 12 exercises in the recent past to test its cold start doctrine, and that another Indian exercise is scheduled to coincide with Pakistan's.  India's new strategy of launching quick strikes across the border will be at the heart of its month-long exercise, known as Yodha Shakti, which is to begin mid-April on the Indian side of the border.  The rival manoeuvres will put soldiers from the two armies - which number a combined total nearly 2 million troops - virtually within shouting distance of each other, in a move likely to give the United States something of a headache.  Washington has worked hard in recent years to soothe tensions between nuclear powers India and Pakistan, in the hope that Islamabad might then divert more of its attention and resources to fighting the Taliban militants.  But Pakistan's military high command does not appear to be convinced of India's proclaimed good intentions, and seems to be more concerned by Indian military capabilities and apparent posturing.  'We make our preparation to counter any move by India,' said Abbas. 'The intentions are immaterial as they can change over time, but not the potential which matters a lot for us.'  The Pakistani military's unwavering focus on India indicates that the defence establishment does not consider its operations against the Taliban to be anything more than a momentary diversion in the wider defence scenario.  Monday's coordinated attacks on a US consulate in Peshawar and a political party, which left 53 dead, were simply 'security problems', said Abbas, and did not warrant a wholesale rethinking of Pakistan's long-term security strategy.  'We are aware of double jeopardy including trouble on western and eastern fronts but the current exercise is to deal with dangers from east, we have separate plans to counter problems at the west,' Muzzamil added.  Like his boss, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who authorized it, Muzzamil believes that the field exercise, involving 20,000 to 40,000 troops, will help to draw up a Pakistani response plan for incidents on the eastern border with India.  Muzzamil also said that internal problems made any nation more vulnerable to external aggressions. 'We are training to counter any foreign move from the east at the time of our domestic security problems,' he said.

The army's fresh resolve
By S.m. Hali | Published: April 7, army's latest major field exercise codenamed Azm-e-Nau-3 (fresh resolve) is due to commence on April 10 and will conclude on May 13, 2010. This is the largest field exercise since the highly acclaimed Zarb-e-Momin of 1989, which field tested and validated the fresh concept of an "offensive defence" strategy. It had come as a sequel to Indian Army Chief General Sunderjee's highly ambitious "Operation Brasstacks". So a vital objective then was to send India a clear message: "Should it ever embark upon aggression against Pakistan, its army will hit back aggressively carrying the war into the enemy's territory." About 21 years down the line, having acquired state-of-the-art military hardware, developed a sound employment policy and taking cognisance of the paradigm shift in the strategic thinking of the enemy, Azm-e-Nau is the culmination of a long process of planning, deliberating, and evolving a concept of warfare that is mindful of the entire gamut of emerging threats. The exercise is being conducted in the backdrop of Pakistan's ongoing COIN (counter insurgency) operations, where the army is playing a major role and has won international acclaim for its efforts and success. The war that was thrust upon Pakistan, in the aftermath of 9/11, forced the army to evolve a new strategy in order to combat the faceless enemy. In 1988, while undergoing the joint services staff course, we had visited Germany for a study tour. The high point of the visit was to witness an exercise at the Hammelburg's School of Infantry, Bavarian district, by the German mechanised infantry in combating insurgency and conducting operations in an urban backdrop. The well planned and meticulously conducted exercise, executed with pinpoint precision won accolades from us and other international visitors. Little did I realise that 20 years later, our own armed forces would be involved in combating a mysterious enemy that targets mosques, schools and state institutions, besides maiming and killing women and children. The war against insurgency being fought by the Pakistan army through its blood, sweat and guts has no parallels in either modern or ancient warfare. However, Pakistan's COIN Ops are not against guerrilla operations or insurgency in its classic sense, nor is it fighting a war against resistance, but against an adversary that is armed, trained and abetted by Pakistan's traditional enemies, who are trying to destabilise it. It is noteworthy that Pakistan Army follows a biennial training system, where training objectives set forth are achieved over a span of two years. The training remains mission-oriented based on the prevailing security environment, which is methodical and progressive; culminating into Map Exercise, War Games or Field Exercises at various levels of command. Under General Kayani, who has declared the year 2009-10 as "the year of training", Azm-e-Nau would be a befitting finale to the comprehensive and also a realistic training package - conceptualised, formulated and validated during the "year of training".

Army, police to monitior security jointly 
Express News Service First Published : 07 Apr 2010 03:26:00 AM IST Last Updated :  CHENNAI: The State police and the Army would soon conduct joint audits to monitor and ensure security arrangements at the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in Nilgiris district.  An official release here said a high-level meeting was held on Tuesday to review the security and analyse the threat perception to the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) at Wellington in the wake of the reports of a recce done by David Headley on potential targets in India.  DGP Letika Saran, senior officials of the armed forces, including Major General Nitin Kohli, chief of staff, ATNKK, and Brigadier K N Nair, DSSC, Wellington, were among those present for the meeting.

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