Whereas our current CI doctrine is a melange of various agencies and the operations are divided among the Armed Forces (AFs), the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) and the states police with the disadvantages of incongruent coordination in planning, training and the conduct of operations. While the detailed modalities such as the overall control, grouping of combat, CAPF, intelligence and the administrative resources can be worked out subsequently, foremost, we need a nodal agency say, an ‘Internal Security Command’ (IS Comd)
by Col Ramesh Davesar (Retd)
The recent political and national developments such as the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A, introduction of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), decision to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) followed by the politico- communally motivated and widespread incidents have further threatened the already fragile internal security (IS) environment. These developments are not isolated or stand-alone events, but the continuum of urban extremism (aka Urban Naxalism) initiated a couple of years ago along with the attempts of reviving Khalistani militants and the ISIS stragglers.
Coupled with these, a new concept of deploying Overground Workers (OGWs) or the ‘sleeper cells’ have been adopted by various Anti National Elements (ANEs) particularly the communal outfits to covertly pursue and expand their influence among the Urbans to further debilitate the national IS scenario. The cumulative manifestation of these developments have added new dimensions to the current situation in the country. Linking these with the already ongoing terrorism in J&K, the sporadic troubles in North East (NE) and the concomitant Maoists’ insurgency across the Red Corridor spanning nine states and of late the peninsular region becoming increasingly vulnerable to maritime terrorism, the time has come to initiate cogent actions to safe guard our national interests and solidarity.
Looking beyond our borders, nuclear terrorism is fast becoming a reality. While the Pakistan sponsored terrorists are reported to have not only stockpiled huge arsenal of poisonous chemicals but also striving to acquire nuclear ‘know how’. They are reported to have also established bases in Maldives. Similarly, the Pakistani terrorists outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were involved in the 2019 Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka. Further, the conjoint incidents of smuggling nuclear knowhow to North Korea and the rogue terrorists, all willy-nilly impact the regional and our internal security.
To formulate a holistic security policy, we first of all need to review the overall threat perception. Keeping the past experiences in mind, since 1971 we had no conventional war with our adversaries. The Kargil operation and the 73 day Doklam stand-off and our recent response across the Line of Control (LOC) amply indicate that the full-fledged conventional confrontations are less likely. Moreover, the regional nuclearisation would also go against the full scale misadventures. Presently, we are faced with the ‘Grey Zone Warfare’ – a ‘no war no peace’ state where the adversary reap political and territorial gains without actually crossing the threshold of open war.
Pakistan is fully exploiting this theory, and the result is, we are confronted with the state sponsored proxy war from across the border in support of their terrorist activities inside our country. Further, in the sub-continent context, an all-out conventional threat is politically a remote viability, even the ‘La Kargil’ appears unlikely, albeit the ongoing border local/isolated armed conflicts or the cross/trans-border/LOC clinical strikes such as our surgical strike in 2016 and later the air strike at Balakot leading to annihilation of the Jaish hideout are not ruled out. Similarly, the Army’s new Land Warfare Doctrine-2018, among others, has rightly appreciated that our adversaries are resorting to shrink the space for conventional wars through prosecution of unconventional operations, create civil unrest with the increased hijacking of political and the social agendas as seen during the recent disturbances and concomitantly intensify the current insurgency and terrorists operations. Therefore, it leads us to the most glaring deduction that the Internal Security centric operations, militarily is the more viable and cost effective option.
Another conclusion! Unlike heretofore, going by the modus operandi and the arsenal potential of the ANEs and our responses, the present day Counter Insurgency (CI)/Counter Terrorism (CT) operations to address the land and the maritime challenges have become more militarised and need to be conducted accordingly. Whereas our current CI doctrine is a melange of various agencies and the operations are divided among the Armed Forces (AFs), the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) and the states police with the disadvantages of incongruent coordination in planning, training and the conduct of operations. Foremost, the ‘stand-alone-ism’ must be done away with. Taking cue from the recent proposal by the just appointed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of creating an Air Defence Command to formulate a centralised “command and response set up”, the IS too qualifies to be integrated at pan-India level.
Having accepted the logic that the CI Operations are military specific, we therefore need to plan these in accordance with the operational cardinals like; the centralised command and control, uniform training, planning, tasking and conduct as per the appreciated threat. While the detailed modalities such as the overall control, grouping of combat, CAPF, intelligence and the administrative resources can be worked out subsequently, foremost, we need a nodal agency say, an ‘Internal Security Command’ (IS Comd) on the lines of Field Commands of the Army and commanded by a Three Star General with Sector-based formations.
Next, as regards the combat component, and going by the North East and the J&K Models, the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) are best suited. We must therefore raise additional RR Units. Similarly, in order to streamline the training as also to do away with the surrogate ad-hoc arrangements, we need a nodal training establishment. The Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS)-an institute with vast experience in training the AFs, the CAPF and the troops from the foreign Armies in the CI operations is best suited to coordinate, plan and conduct the training.
Finally, in order to buttress the coastal security, we need additional Units of Marine Commandos (MARCOS), the Coast Guard and expedite raising of overly delayed Marine Wing of NSG and the coastal police units by the peninsular states.
Col Ramesh Davesar is a veteran Infantry Officer (Mahar Regt), commissioned in Jan 1969, with vast operational experience of the 1971 war, counter insurgency in North East, IPKF operations and the command of a unit in the Valley during insurgency in 91-92. He has also served as Col (GS) of an Inf Div, Army Standing Establishment Committee at Army HQ, Col GS at CIJWS and Col Q of Sub Area. He can be reached on Email: firstname.lastname@example.org