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Sunday, 2 October 2016
MAKE IT UNSUSTAINABLE FOR PAKISTAN
Make it unsustainable for Pak
By By Maj Gen (retd) Prof GG Dwivedi
After repeated unsuccessful attempts to take on India in conventional conflicts, Pakistan shifted to waging a ...
After repeated unsuccessful attempts to take on India in conventional conflicts, Pakistan shifted to waging a 'proxy war'. The mainstay of its doctrine has been to employ irregulars, non-state actors (NSAs) to bleed India in a 'low intensity war'. Pakistan mastered this art in Afghanistan where it supported the Mujahedeen to defeat the Soviets at the behest of the US.
Since 1989, Pakistan has been actively involved in fuelling militancy in Kashmir. Ironically, Indian retaliation to terrorist actions has been incidence-specific, and has lacked a holistic approach. September 29, 2016, marked the first time when Indian military response became a part of a well thought-out national strategy in the form of surgical strikes across the LoC.
Surgical strikes are well-planned, bold military actions against specific target(s), executed with precision, by specialised forces, to inflict maximum destruction, with minimal collateral damage. Such tactical actions have strategic ramifications; may be executed from ground, air or sea. These military responses require careful selection of objectives aligned with overall strategy, accurate real-time intelligence, seamless coordination amongst various agencies and fine timing. Surprise is most crucial element, a vital prerequisite for success.
The destruction of Iraqi Osirak reactor by Israeli air raid in 1981, employment of Tomahawk cruise missiles in the Gulf wars, the use of armed drones and elimination of Osama Bin Laden in 2011 by the US Navy Seals in Abbottabad are classic examples of surgical strikes.
The recent operations undertaken by the Army should be viewed as the military component of calibrated national response; which includes politico-diplomatic- economic dimensions. Some salient aspects with regards above surgical strike are:
•The selected targets were known terrorist launch pads in POK. Located in the close proximity of the Pak Army posts astride the LoC, these act as staging areas where terrorists in small groups wait for a short period before crossing over. Launch pads are makeshift shelters and can relocate at a short notice. These were kept under close surveillance both from ground and air, to facilitate accurate target analysis.
•The planning for such operations is done simultaneously at both strategic and operational levels. While it is a political decision to assign the task, the prerogative is of the field commanders to work out the plans and execute the mission. This was the format followed by the government in the run-up to the recent operation.
•The troops selected for execution of the task were from the Special Forces who are attached to the Northern Theatre. They are highly trained, well-rehearsed and equipped with state-of the-art weapons, with capability to operate in all-weather conditions at a short notice. They operate in teams, with strength varying according to a task. For the above operations, a team was tasked for each target, with strength around of 30.
•Execution of the surgical strike by the ground forces has three phases; insertion of force, conduct of strike and exfiltration. In this case, the strike force was heli- lifted to the forward bases during the day. Insertion was on foot in the hours of darkness. All the objectives were engaged simultaneously, well past midnight. The exfiltration had to be speedy, during the hours of darkness to avoid immediate enemy reactions.
•Detailed coordination with units and formations deployed on the LoC is critical, especially during the insertion and exfiltration phases.
Surgical strike by Indian Army across LoC is a manifestation of well calibrated national response to Pakistan with a clear message; there is a penalty to be paid if Islamabad does not mend its ways. India should be well prepared to blunt Pak retaliation, which could be by way of upping the ante astride the LoC and scaling up the terrorist activities in the hinterland. It is also time to expose its hollow nuclear bogey.
Delhi has taken the call, projecting itself as a responsible and resilient nation, capable of not only safeguarding its own security but a stabilizing factor in the region at large. Diverse options including calibrated military responses are the only way to make Pakistan misadventures unsustainable and cost-prohibitive