As India the Indian PM shook hands with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharief, Pakistani army along with its sponsored and trained terrorists numbering between 30-40 with supporting fire from across the LC infiltrated into the Keran sector.
It took fifteen days for the Indian Army to clear the area and restore the sanctity of the LC in an area which has thick forests, nallahs at considerable heights.
The Army Chief Bikram Singh has clearly said that this infiltration will certainly not be the last and in fact will only increase. He also said this cannot happen without Pakistan’s support.
While reasons for how the infiltration happened will be found, how to prevent and fight such infiltration along with the necessary mandate to local commanders will have to formulated.
The infiltration happened in what is being termed as a ghost town. Its not possible for Indian Army to cover every inch of the LC. India has over the years employed electronic surveillance on the LC imported from Israel. It doesn’t seem enough. India will need more hands on approach and that is employing armed drones or UCAVs. The US has used it to a telling effect in taking out terrorists in Pakistan but in India’s case, it will have to be in a 24/7 surveillance cum attack mode. Use them to look for any infiltration or attempted infiltration and use the missiles on board to take out the infiltrators, even if it means firing across the LC. Large number of these UCAVs will be required. The cost involved in deploying them will be quite small considering the men and material required in combing operations and the potential loss of territory because the terrain in most areas are treacherous. Pakistan still holds some peaks in Kargil after the war that Indian Army didn’t consider strategically important enough to lose men over its capture. So its important that India deploys armed drones or UCAVs along with other electronic surveillance and the men that we deploy to guard the LC.
But then the LC still may not be completely un-impregnable. Indian Army has years of counter insurgency experience. But lacks critical equipment to fight the terrorists. Its only on the sheer courage and bravery of its soldiers that it wins the battles. During the operations in Keran, six soldiers were injured. One of them was hit in the abdomen. Now this area of the body should be protected by a bullet proof jacket. If he was wearing one,the quality of the BPJ comes into question, if he wasn’t wearing one,why is the question. India Army for years has battled to get equipment for itself to equip its soldiers with life saving bullet proof jackets but is still short. It does not even have a good standard issue of helmet to protect the head. These are basic safety equipments.
An equipment which is a must is a night vision devise (NVD). Another solider injured in the Keran sector said they were firing in the dark. Why should that be the case. Having NVDs will be a huge force multiplier especially because the terrain is so bad where night time would be a good time to go after the terrorists looking to hide till day time. Every soldier in a Keran type op should have an NVD.
Employment of thermal imaging cameras will be a clincher. We have already seen some footage on media where Indian Army has employed such cameras and used it to telling effect in killing terrorists trying to infiltrate. But these will be even more handy in a Keran type operation to hunt and kill infiltrators.
A weapon system that will be very handy in these type operations is the Javelin missile. Originally an anti tank weapon, it has been used to good effect by the US troops against Taliban in Afghanistan. It can be used to take out temporary bunkers, small houses where terrorists hide and also used in urban environment where terrorists are holed up in houses which can be taken out without much collateral. It can be used to take out enemy posts providing supporting fire to infiltrators from across the LC. India has been dithering on the co-development and co-production option for these missiles with the US. We could buy some off the shelf for immediate deployment.
The above mentioned is not something the Indian Army doesn’t know about. My submission here is that if there is a constraint to provide each and every soldier with such equipment, the Indian Army may have to ready a crack team of anti infiltration commandos equipped with all such devices who can be air dropped into the infiltrated zone while the outer perimeter is secured by other soldiers in Keran type infiltration which could be a repeated offence by Pakistan along different areas of the LC.
We are going to face tough times over the next year and beyond as terrorists free from Afghan war make their way towards India. We will have to come up with new assessments and new doctrines on how secure our country from Keran like infiltration and to make sure those terrorists who do make it across to our side of the LC, don’t go back alive or make it out from our cordon and do this with minimum to no loss of lives of our own troops. Which means greater emphasis on using technology and making sure every soldier going into harms way has a great chance of making it alive.