Military & Aerospace

Take the war to the enemy
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Issue Vol 24.1 Jan-Mar2009 | Date : 30 May , 2015

New Delhi continues to fumble while India burns.

Pakistan’s superior psychological warfare machinery further tied down the already overstretched Indian security forces in knots. Airports and railway stations are the new fortresses that are heavily guarded. Next will be Metro stations or shopping malls. The list is endless. This is what the enemy wants — tire and dull the edges of the security forces of India by making them run hither and thither.

Imagine, if ten trained terrorists from Karachi can hold the financial capital of India to ransom for days, what will happen if 500 pour in from different points into the country? They can literally bring the entire nation to its knees.

This remains the single important reason why intelligence and police machinery of the Union and the states have collapsed. Perpetual red alerts, 24×7 for the past three decades, have reduced them to dysfunctional entities with no declared objectives to achieve. The ease with which Parliament or Mumbai were attacked stands witness to the fact. Worse, our leadership’s response to the threat posed was too shameful to comment upon.

New Delhi is walking into the trap by superficially trying to guard every inch. Neither feasible nor a method recommended. The Indian leadership that inducted the security forces in a marshy land of insurgency and terrorism for more than two decades without any clarity in political or military objectives is adding to the confusion. The recent failure in Poonch speaks volumes about the utter ‘lack of direction’ that the response of the state has acquired over a period of time.

Forces that are inducted into battles always need clarity of purpose, military objectives unambiguously spelt out, and swiftness in conduct of operations to avoid demoralization. Otherwise, battles cannot be won and there is likelihood of the forces landing in disarray. It appears to be now happening to the Indian security apparatus on the ground.

Imagine, if ten trained terrorists from Karachi can hold the financial capital of India to ransom for days, what will happen if 500 pour in from different points into the country? They can literally bring the entire nation to its knees. After Mumbai, ISI brought Guwahti to a halt in the northeast, and in Poonch, a few terrorists forced deployment of 1500 army personnel for an eight day running gun-battle in the dense forest. Merely thirty terrorists between themselves held up vast swathe of territory and a huge chunk of the security apparatus from Mumbai in the west to the northeast and Kashmir! The cost to the state in its ever-expanding security apparatus is huge. Worse, the demoralization setting in the forces for want of clarity of purpose will in the ultimate analysis add to the threat to the territorial integrity of the Union.

To say that the threat from radical Islam was not known despite the collapse of the intelligence machinery is not true. The very fact that the Prime Minister and his colleagues are compelled since many years to move under heavy security blanket in their own capital city with policemen lined-up all along the roads is a shameful admission of the existing threat to the Union. Couple this fact with the increasing frequency of attacks by the Islamic terrorists in recent times and the entire threat perception becomes crystal clear.

The very fact that the Prime Minister and his colleagues are compelled since many years to move under heavy security blanket in their own capital city with policemen lined-up all along the roads is a shameful admission of the existing threat to the Union.

To tie up security forces in knots internally to deal with the externally sponsored, trained, and petro-dollar financed terrorism exported by the Pakistan army and the Inter Services Intelligence is bound to deaden their morale and will to fight. While there is definitely an internal dimension to security, to put the forces within on a self-destructive directionless path is exactly what the enemy wants!

Either the political set up in New Delhi has not understood this raw truth in war fighting or is too scared to take the war back to enemy territory. This war must be fought decisively in Pakistan before it engulfs the Union of India in its entirety.

Pakistan is in cahoots with other dictatorial regimes on our borders. China wants to tie down India to retain its top-dog status in Asia. Maoist Nepal favors China. Bangladesh, another laboratory of radical Islam, is in connivance with these dictatorial regimes. The subtle alliance of China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal Maoists pose a combined threat to the territorial integrity of India. Of course, overtly these regimes pretend to work in isolation of each other so as not to alarm New Delhi.

To avoid destruction of our forces by deployment in unending internal circuses, and before war fatigue sets in, we need to take the war imposed by radical Islam to the enemy territory. Unless the source of supply is disabled, this war cannot be won. The core group orchestrating this drama is the Pakistan army and the ISI. These external links are required to be put in disarray. This can only happen if the war is re-exported to Pakistan.

If the poisonous flow from the external channels is not stopped, Indian Muslims too will be radicalized, which is the primary aim of Pakistan. Similarly, a backlash from the majority that is responsible for the liberal philosophy of India can wreck the democratic set-up. Non-governance is no longer an option available to the prime minister. Mumbai and other attacks mounted by terrorists on other Indian cities, could not have taken place without local support. For the police or intelligence agencies to profess otherwise is untruthful.

Another falsehood perpetuated by the eternally helpless breed of Indians is that a stable Pakistan is in India’s interest. It is not, stable or otherwise. Pakistan is a failed State. It is on the brink of disintegration. It simply needs to be helped to remove itself and the map redrawn. Otherwise, the cost to India will keep increasing disproportionately.

To take this war to the enemy, New Delhi needs a deliberate, graduated and escalating response with a clear political and military objective to help Islamabad unravel:

To avoid destruction of our forces by deployment in unending internal circuses, and before war fatigue sets in, we need to take the war imposed by radical Islam to the enemy territory.

  • Snap diplomatic relations immediately.
  • Declare Pakistan a Terrorist State.
  • Discontinue all trains and bus services as well as trade and business transactions.
  • Announce renegotiation of the Indus Water Treaty as the terms unduly favor Pakistan.
  • Begin a process to regulate the water supplies and build new mechanisms to activate water flow controls.
  • Cancel permissions for over-flights.
  • Seal the Nepal and Bangladesh borders on top priority.
  • Ruthlessly deport millions of illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
  • Direct intelligence agencies to eliminate rebel sanctuaries in Bangladesh.
  • To leverage support against authoritarian regimes on our border including Pakistan, build a grand alliance of democracies by increasing their stakes in the burgeoning economic pie of India.
  • Immediately increase FDI in the defence sector from 26 percent to 49 percent. This will help India to emerge as the most ‘modern technology driven’ defence industry hub in Asia while making it profitable for Western companies to invest.

Instead of being at cross-purposes with the Indian media, Asia’s largest, harness its resources to conduct unprecedented psychological warfare. In times of war, the media is a weapon, a platform to be used intelligently to secure the national interests without attempting to hinder its freedom.

Equip the intelligence agencies with clear directives and resources to conduct deniable acts in enemy land similar to Islamabad’s terrorist acts, thus raising the cost to the enemy and making it prohibitive for Pakistan. This will hasten the disintegration of this tottering state. Two can play at this game with equal finesse.

Let Indian pressures build up from the east and west on Pakistan so that our embassy and other establishments are not targeted in the future.

The Indian Administrative Service has for too long  pretended to be the superior service without any skills. This service should actually be the national repository of highly skilled personnel. It is not. Hence, essentially, it neet to undergo a total revamp. Only fifty percent of the recruitment should be done direct at a young age. After three years of service in the district, these young civil servants must graduate in a one-year executive MBA course from top IIMs in India to hone their management skills. The balance of the fifty percent of the recruitment should be derived by lateral induction from the military, the police, revenue and financial services, intelligence agencies and any other field that will add to the knowledge base and in offering quality governance. This will not only enrich the IAS but also end the segmentation and compartmentalization where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Just as we need a re-integrated population base in the Valley and the northeast for consolidation of  multi-cultural India, in the IAS as well, we require intermingling of specialist skills from various professions!

To defend the taxpayers’ millions of dollars invested in Afghanistan’s reconstruction program, move two integrated divisions with substantial air element in the area, in consultation with Kabul. Let Indian pressures build up from the east and west on Pakistan so that our embassy and other establishments are not targeted in the future.

The Bush administration’s flawed strategy that Western forces without India’s support will win in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is misguided and counter-productive. They cannot win without New Delhi’s direct involvement. The Obama administration urgently needs to change this policy in Washington’s interest as they are in the midst of Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations. It is radical Islam versus the Rest. Choices are limited — either you swim across or sink!

Similarly, New Delhi should learn to fight its own war instead of expecting others do its dirty work. Therefore, simultaneously equip and marshal the military forces on a war-footing, removing all deficiencies including the human resources, as war at an appropriate time of our choosing remains an open option. Limited war is a misnomer. Hone the military machine for an all out war, if and when necessary.

We should stop tying up our forces internally in an endless no-win game. This will lead to rendering our security apparatus blunt and ineffective…

Pakistan is aflame with internal contradictions. The stage is getting set for disintegration. Balochistan wants independence from Islamabad. So do Sindh, FATA and NWFP. The recruitment for both, the army of Jihad and the Pakistan army is primarily sourced from Pakistan’s Punjab. In many cases while one brother joins the army, the other joins the Jihad factory. Thus, a deep connectivity that cannot be rooted out exists between the Pakistan army and the forces of Jihad. Similarly, the deep mistrust between Punjabi-mussalman dominated Pakistan and others is irreparable with the result that all Pak nukes perforce have to be kept within the province of Punjab. Besides, the Americans clearly appear to have joint control over the nuclear arsenal. Therefore, India and other threatened states essentially require neutralizing a geographically small territory of Pakistan, i.e., Punjab to stabilize the region.

We should stop tying up our forces internally in an endless no-win game. This will lead to rendering our security apparatus blunt and ineffective, and may well result in their disintegration. The helplessness of the under-trained and under-equipped police was on display during the attack in Mumbai. Therefore, instead of permitting our forces to disintegrate in the long term, it is sensible to take this war to Pakistan and make them pay the price.

It is time India woke from its slumber.

This article was first published in IDR Vol. 24 (1) Jan-Mar 2009.

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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

Bharat Verma

A former Cavalry Officer and former Editor, Indian Defence Review (IDR), and author of the books, India Under Fire: Essays on National Security, Fault Lines and Indian Armed Forces.

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15 thoughts on “Take the war to the enemy

  1. Thank you Sri Bharat Verma to write such straight forward article along with concrete steps Govt of India should take. The current govt. policies are marginally different then previous ones. Why Pakistan is not declared a terrorist state we do not need and depend on Pakistan for any thing. No overflights allowed ,embassy closed. The pakistani doctrine of bleeding India is working its way through and our NSA and political decision making is same as congress/ NDA I mould. The last opportunity for India. Indians voted this NDA govt to do things as suggested in your article. Its not hard line talk its survival.

    Rakesh Bhandari

  2. None of the suggestions you’ve enlisted alleviate the concerns of the security forces you specified at the beginning of the post (although, most of the suggestions are fairly practical and doable). Anyways, a couple more comments:

    1. I do believe that we are already engaged in Balochistan, we just need to keep the momentum going. However, a full blown out support should not be provided since it might affect the equations in Balochi dominated areas of Afghanistan & Iran. We don’t want to alienate the Iranians.

    2. Specifically in Afghanistan, we should not deploy ground troops than what is essential since it would un-necessarily embroil us in their war. It’s best that the Afghan nationals are provided much needed support/training to fight their own battle.

    • You are showing your frustration. You lost East Pakistan ( Present Bangladesh). Still you have not learnt a lesson. Time is not far you will loose Baluchistan . India is a democratic country and it is not ruled by Army at any point of time.

  3. It is easy to give suggestions but it is very difficult to implement. Defense forces are also equally responsible particularly Navy. After the death of Smt .Indira Gandhi the maximum amount spent on Navy without any planing . India is a poor country. In this process Army was neglected and the Indian Navy is one of the largest in the world, and as of 2014 possesses two aircraft carriers, one amphibious transport dock, 9 Landing ship tanks, 9 destroyers, 15 frigates, one nuclear-powered attack submarine, 14 conventionally-powered attack submarines, 25 corvettes, 7 mine counter-measure vessels, 10 large offshore patrol vessels, 4 fleet tankers and various auxiliary vessels and small patrol boats.” Despite this, the Navy failed to prevent the 2008. Why do we require Air craft carrier? Super powers are decommissioning Air craft carriers as the maintenance cost is very high and it is very difficult to protect any Naval vessels from missiles and modern high speed torpedo. We should have manufactured thousand of high speed missile boats to protect the coast lines from terrorist attack. and better communication facility. Why is army asking for M-777 gun. It cannot be moved easily like Bofors gun to escape from Weapon locating radar of the enemy. Why is army reluctant to use ‘Prahaar’ missile’. This is the age of missiles and Avionics.

  4. Lots of Points & views made by the author are worth implementing.But the Indian Establishment does not even know that to have a good Intelligence machinery,you first need the help of the local police station-We dont want to /cannot even implement the basic police reforms,We cannot implement a proper lokpal bill, We dont want to implement Reforms in Defence Production,Defence Aquisitions & in Min. of Defence etc etc.We don’t give respect & parity to the Armed Forces vis a vis the Civil bureaucracy..Ever Since Lord Parshuram destroyed the KSHATRIYAS over & over again,there has been a shortage of good military warriors & military planners in India.Even today the Indian Establishment treats the Kshatriyas [Armed Forces & Martial races ] shabbily & looks upon them with suspicion.It takes a true Kshatriya to plan,Anticipate problems,Execute & win wars with finesse. eg is late FM Sam Maneckshaw !!! The same goes for internal security & some aspects of foreign policy..All the three-Defence,Internal security & Foreign affairs should be cleaned of the Corrupt,manipulative & mercantile minded forces that have taken a total control..Lastly,the Indian politicians & bureaucracy should become more mature & accountable- Yes,they want power without Responsibility & Accountability .They should also stop being CONTROL FREAKS !!

  5. Wishful Thinking………………………………….alas our political masters had even iota of compassion towards its citizens ……….the are only passionate about filling their coffers.

  6. It sounds so easy when reading your article. Did you thought how Bangaladesh, China, Nepal, Butan will react to your suggested steps? Why you completely forgot Srilanka and its association with China? How the world at large, especially the Muslim countries/oil suppliers react? What steps would India take to protect an Oil embargo? Will India be ready to receive its deported citizens from Middle East? Be aware Muslims will go to any length, any low to take revenge Kafirs… Don’t tell me Indian diplomats will handle middle eastern Muslim countries. Please be aware, generally speaking, Quron says “It is okay to lie to kafirs, okay to kill kafirs”. All Muslim follow only Quron and Sharia and refuse to accept/obey/follow man made rules. Now tell me will the rest of the world – the so called Kafir world – will ever believe a Muslim?

  7. Excellent Mr. Verma. Agree with most things you’ve written about. But what I wonder about Mr. Verma is the water treaty aspect. Considering that a lot of the Indian rivers emanate from China, what kind of a precedent will this set? What if the chineese turn around and do the same to us? can you imagine an india with the brahmaputra under attack? would love to have your views on the same. thank you.

    • Thanks. Most of the rivers originate in Tibet which is facing unrest!. Enough options exist. Always remember that if others can play mischief, India can also. What comes in the way is THE HELPLESS INDIAN SYNDROME! BV

  8. Agree with the author’s premise. Taking the war to the enemy is the only viable strategy for India to stop current hemmoragging and deterioration of the security environment. It, however, requires intense preparation, preparation and preparation. The recent success stories relating to Bin Laden’s killing, and IsraeI’s operation in Entebbe are text book examples of how it can be executed. There are many other examples. In each case it starts with information about the enemy in real time. Targets selected with care and thoughfulness. Delivery and execution is lightening fast with readiness to inflict overwhelming punishment on the enemy should they chose to expand response. One of the least discussed aspect of the Bin Laden’s operation was that the US army, navy and airforce were fully engaged with orders to silence any Pakistani attempt to obstruct. Their radars were incapacitated and US F16 from the carrier groups in Arabian sea were in the airspace to retaliate at any attempts from the Pakistani armed forces to push back.

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