Homeland Security

I am Invisible & You are Not: The Challenges of Operational Int
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 07 Mar , 2018

Voids in our system?

The LOC. Being the first line which has to be under constant surveillance needs to be supported adequately with technology. Day/Night surveillance with not mere air surveillance but ground sensors, IR systems, monitoring of Radio and Satellite Communications , Monitoring Cell Phones, Acoustics ,Analytics integrated with a warning and weapons system. These systems need to be so configured that they not only provide relief to the ground soldier but also result in accurate operational Intelligence as against the current procedure of generating a wide and broad based “Warning/Alert” throughout the state or country.

Intelligence must be built on the triad of radio signals/communications/internet, media, humint and have a strong system for following suspect indications, generalisation cannot work and is rather detrimental to successful operations. Very often the adversary deliberately feeds misinformation to throw forces off balance and this is something that needs to be guarded against through close cross checks.

Bunkers, pill boxes and even local housing needs to incorporate bomb proof sheets as being done in Israel along the border, this protects in habitants from splinter effects and can withstand even direct hits from anti- tank weapons/shells.

Guarding against infiltration must include surveillance from the air, IR systems, seismic systems to detect tunnels and humint integrated to support weapon systems . A suitable method is that of deploying UAVs with voice recognition and face recognition and target designation systems along with this, one can consider various mounts like hot air balloons, Jeeps. APCs or manpack to ensure flexibility and full coverage.

Deep Analytics, a system for monitoring Social media, E mails etc is a time tested method and has been in use in Israel .A suite of Social media Analysis ( SMA) tools specifically designed for intelligence professionals to provide answers to three mission-critical questions:

  • What is your area of Interest? (e.g. violence, protests, cyber-attacks)
  • Where in the web are your sources? (e.g. specific Social Networks, Blogs, Forums)
  • Who are the key people & connections and what kind of profile do they have?
  • With just one click it allows you to even track your suspect. Such a system is a must have for sensitive areas like J&K, Manipur , Nagaland and Assam as well as Central India.

Cantonments must be revisited to further harden them and include Video Analytics all around with a standoff distance factored in to ensure timely interception of suspects. The requirement of gates being manned by sentries may be reconsidered/replaced with auto systems which have Face recognition and number plate reading. The entire security system for military stations needs a close review bringing under it each vendor and service provider apart from the routine movement of soldiers as well as veterans.

Last and most important is a National and Political will to deal with Anti National Acts, inflammatory speeches and incitement with a firm hand. The message must be clear “ National security” is non negotiable.


Lessons for the security forces:-

•  You are visible, they are not. Do not get into a predictable routine.

•  You are being watched day and night, you stand out exposed because you are in Camps, in Uniform and he is invisible.

•  Those who want you to trust them are also those you should not trust. Those who keep away from you, may just be persons who are being watched by your enemy.

•  Ensure your battle drills and responses are well rehearsed.

•  Checks and Drills which have not been well thought out but put into practice merely to show that you have some procedures will cost you lives, shame and loss of moral.

•  Establish a good communication system and procedure between all security forces operating in the area and within your own unit.

•  Where? With what? How many? Leading to which place? Who has pinned them down? Made contact? From where? These are things which must be made known to all Security Forces in the sector on contact being made?

•  Duties in Insurgent areas and terror prone areas are tough; men must be rotated to give them proper rest/relief. Yet ensuring that they are fully trained and at all times ready to respond in quick time.

•  Integrate technology as far as possible to relieve the pressure from your men. There is much available off the shelf. Train your men in the use of such technology. Mere Technology is not enough, it must be useful and used.

•  Vigil in observing the smallest of things, a vehicle parked where no vehicle has ever been parked, a new tea stall in the vicinity of your sentry post or a vegetable shop etc. An over friendly milk man or water porter. Vigil and Sixth sense pay; while on a patrol the patrol leader noticed the absence of children playing or greeting them, this led to suspicion and he called for more troops to cordon and search the area. His sharp observation not only saved lives but also resulted in successful operations in eliminating two terrorists including a local leader.

•  A civilian who has been very friendly suddenly disappearing or showing a change in attitude is a cause for concern, beware.

Terrorists do not follow predicable patterns. They will strike when they feel the timing is right and the target lax. We on the other hand cannot be equally vigilant each day of our duty and thus run the risk of being hit. In the words of Mrs Margaret Thatcher “ we need to be successful each and every time”.

Counter terrorism is not all about positioning a Sentry or a QRT but about out thinking the terrorist. Did we focus too much on the LOC alone at the cost of lives in cantonments? Have we been complacent and ignored the local military stations? Has the cacophony of politics, courts and stone pelting detracted us from the main purpose?

The narrative of Indo- Pak relations and counter terrorism needs a holistic revisit and the Nation as such must stand united in our resolve for ushering in better days, economic progress and development commensurate with our collective strength.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Brig Pradeep Sharma

a regularly contributes defence related columns to news dailies.

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One thought on “I am Invisible & You are Not: The Challenges of Operational Int

  1. Dear Sir
    If we can upgrade the HUMINT capabilities, we can thwart almost all terror strikes. “Duvdevan are noted for undercover operations in urban areas, during which they often wear Arab civilian clothes as a disguise. They are also known to be trained in human and mechanical counter-surveillance. Unlike other special forces units, they can operate independently in more than one place at a time. The unit performs many high-risk and complicated operations, including targeted killing, kidnappings, and a range of other undercover operations in Arab areas, many of which are classified.

    Along with Sayeret Matkal, soldiers in Duvdevan are the only soldiers in the IDF authorized to wear their uniforms without identifying shoulder tabs.” This should be the modus operandi of our forces involved in IS duties in the Valley

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