Thursday, 18 December 2014

Fund Security Reform with Oil Price Windfall

Terrorist Attacks on Afghanistan are facing a microscope as Pakistan Army complicity in harbouring Afghan Taliban gets highlighted, by the barbaric Peshawar attack. Fazlullah or Haqquani are in the same abomination business.

The extension of American presence in Afghanistan, will stymie the use of Afghan Taliban against India. The main arbitrage seeker of Political Islam remains Pakistan Army.

Peshawar changed nothing besides some mealy mouthed public posturing.

For India, overt and covert wall is the short term solution. Long-term interests will include Afghanistan and United States. India under extrovert Modi will learn to swing in the big league between Obama, Putin and Xi.

For India it will be a tense winter as Security Establishment battens down the hatches against the Punjabi Taliban and Hafiz Saeed's. Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh and Manohar Parrikar will have to merge babu kingdoms of PMO, MHA, MoD and MEA to deal with covert plausible denial attacks by Pakistan in Kashmir, and beyond in Indian Cities.

Strategic environment remains adverse, and India must make the best of the Oil price windfall to fund tactical security reform, tactics, training and equipment, internal and external.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sydney and Peshawar Siege: Reminder to Manohar Parrikar on Missing Special Forces Command


The Tactical Assault Group (TAG) East of 4 RAR aka 2 Commando of Australian Army Special Forces just broke the 16 hour Sydney seige. The payload of Terrorism played out live on Television, as Australia experienced first hand, what is a common sight in India.


Pakistan Army, Special Forces in Zaraar Company of Elite SSG were choppered in from Tarbela to battle, TTP Fidayeen. The Peshawar school attack, barbaric even by Pakistan, at last count including 132 kids and others,148 were are dead. A bloody carnage, thankfully the media was kept away at an outer perimeter during the tactical assault and clearing operation handled professionally. ISPR steered the narrative and limited infowar payload to TTP.

Special Forces in Indian Army

On Vijay Diwas, India marked its victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan. A massive military triumph that resulted in the formation of Bangladesh, from East Pakistan.

India employed Special Forces very successfully during the 1971 war. It has since employed Special Forces (SF) in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Kargil, 26/11 Bombay Attacks, and ongoing counter terrorism operations in Insurgency theatres, J&K, to Punjab to the States of the North East.

The need for Special Forces beyond traditional military ORBAT, Police and Paramilitary both State and Federal, has been felt repeatedly since the days of  1965 Meghdoot Force.

Turf War and Private Armies

Outside the Army there have existed a multitude of private armies run by differing bureaucracies like SSB, SFF, Establishment 22, and recently in the NSG, staffed by all Army personnel on deputation in the SAG.

It is a symptom of India's Civil and Military disconnect that while the business end of all tactical offensive and assault is executed by Military Special Forces, myriad formations exist, using up taxpayer money for duplicate, redundant operations.

Similar distrust between the Army, Navy and Air Force and lack of joint operations and command, have given birth to MarCos and Garud, respectively.

Special Forces Command

As India struggles to stem the bleeding from the thousand cuts inflicted by Pakistan Army sponsored, Islamist insurgency, and other assorted sub-national identity based separatist movements, the need for a Special Forces Command, has never been more urgent.

Many States and other Federal authorities, CAPFs have tried unsuccessfully to set up Special Forces Commando units. These don't have the knowledge base, experience and specialist equipment or Intelligence capability to have a cogent Special Forces capability. The lines between domestic and external operations are being increasingly blurred by urban and irregular warfare. In this scenario, add cross border raids, and Terror Training Camps across the border in Pakistan. Any interdiction, insertion, evacuation requires a fungible mass of operators, logistics and elite technology.

All this requires an investment in a Special Forces Command, equal to other Army Commands, and able to dovetail with Internal and external Intelligence operatives. It further requires an investment in Engineering, Surveillance and Transport facilities across Land, Air and Sea.

The BJP led by Narendra Modi came to power over promises of better security management of India. The appointment of Manohar Parrikar as the new Defence Minister has rekindled hope of a renaissance in Defence management. After the Uri cross border raid, the new Minister has promised action, against Pakistan in 6 months. Action that promises to mitigate attacks under ominous shadow of Nuclear blackmail.

Special Forces and Coldstart: Strategic Response

The Parliament Attack laid the foundation the of Cold Start doctrine. A doctrine to negate plausible denial of Covert Ability of Pakistan played out under the Nuclear umbrella. The foundation of Cold Start does not lie so much in large formations or Strike Corps and Armour but in surgical strike capabilities. It is here that India needs Special Forces Command, so options across the covert and overt spectrum exist for the political establishment to employ as necessary,in support of homeland security and foreign policy objectives.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Opaque MoD of Modi Sarkaar: Army's Social Media Paradox

In the aftermath of the Arnia and Uri cross border raids by Pakistan Army Fidayeen, Social Media has been on fire with reports of disaffection and discontent in the junior officers of the Indian Army. The Indian Army has sought to gag its Officers and Men on Social Media. Its internal communication has failed to retain credibility in the face of competing narratives on Social Media, finding resonance with its rank and file. The absence of MoD on Social Media given that it controls the Indian Armed Forces, is a shocking contrast to the rest of Narendra Modi led Government, PMO, down to Ministers and Ministries, easily in the category of oversharers on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google+, and assorted Blogs and Websites.
The genesis of the provocation lies in the timing of Machhil and Budgam incidents where the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Defence Minister, Arun Jaitley, and the Indian Army top brass, including Army Chief, Suhag, and Generals Hooda and Saha were seen as throwing the above two enquiries, to appease Kashmiri Muslim voters in Jammu and Kashmir Elections. The gist of anger centres around the perception that, Rules of Engagement by anti insurgency troops were sought to be watered down, to the disadvantage of the Army, resulting in increased casualty numbers, wounded and dead. The issue has found resonance with many on Social Media, including serving and retired, Officers and Men.

To add to the boiling pot were no holes barred Television debates, that included self opinionated Veterans who have served in the area, including Core Commanders, GoCs and points down the rank. While Indian Army Social Media handles put out the usual fluff beginning with the ubiquitous COAS and All Ranks, the real debate and conversation had shifted elsewhere. The wildfire integration of conventional and social media, lost as it may be, to the MoD and the Army, is consumed daily by all Indians, including its Armed Forces. With average response times down to 15 minutes for a holding statement, the Army Internal Communication or those of its Social Media handles clearly failed miserably, just like the QRTs up in Arnia and Uri.

Information Vacuum breeds disinformation. The assertion by the Army top brass that this was an enemy exploit insults both the intelligence and common sense. Even if one were to hypothetically retain that as a possibility, the loud resonance with the said perception, in both active and retired troops must sound an alarm not just in the Offices of the PMO, but also in that of the Raksha Mantri, and MoD, Core, Division and Brigade, down to Battalion. The Social Media policy of the Indian Armed Forces is a prehistoric tome with insults to personal responsibility, lazy abbreviation, open ended vagaries, and bears no comparison to similar policies of contemporary militaries. Unrealistic and not based in media consumption patterns, it smells of Colonial brown sahib MoD, mustiness.

The issue of silly statements to the pet MoD media has been found out, as has the spin by Arun Jaitley and Narendra Modi. Manohar Parrikar is tasting a soufflé cooked by his inglorious predecessors, and troop disaffection does not need to be an addition to his many worries in Procurement, Border Infrastructure and that contortionist wet dream called, MakeinIndia, a dangerous construct crafted by the rhetoric magicians in BJP, and their self appointed ideological grandfathers in the Sangh, punch drunk with all authority and no responsibility.

This is a Command crisis where the Army leadership and its communication is incongruent to the pulse of the Officers and the Men, it leads. The Election populism of the BJP Government in Kashmir has perhaps for the first time in the history of the Indian Army brought things to such a sorry pass. The reputation of the Army has been tarred, and honest mistakes made in the heat and fog of war, made to look like premeditated criminality. Nobody except the dead soldiers or their orphaned families seem to think there is a war going on!

Immediate steps to restore credibility to the Communication abyss that the Indian Army finds itself staring into must include unambiguous Rules of Engagement in Insurgency and Counter Terrorism Operations of the Indian Army. It should further clarify the position of the Government of India and Military on the status of AFSPA. The perception that Machhil and Budgam judgements were a frame-up need to be urgently reversed, and amends made to wronged officers and men, punished TSD Officers, War Widows, and Handicapped Veterans or others, facing harassing litigation by MoD. The OROP pension saga festers as a sore despite promises by Narendra Modi that have yet to be put to bed!

The Army brass and the Security, and Political leadership, of the BJP led NDA Government, can of course do what precedent dictates, and bury their heads in sand, and do nothing. Till the next cross border raid hits and resultant anger, of real or apparent betrayal, sparks a mutiny. Sad as it sounds for a Government that came to power on promises of Change, Governance and Transparency. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Beware of the Believer!

Monday, 1 December 2014


Gone on today
Away from hysteria
A moment of clarity
Sudden boredom with derision

Yes, who could've said
This could happen one day
A rare day of self esteem
When self deprecating forgiveness couldn't stay

Months and years have passed
Tasting the moment
Now that it's done
Why doesn't it feel so bad?

Cryptic circumstances, death, renewal
Emotions, bonds and violent lust
Like spilled drinks and broken glasses
No lessons in leaving.

Intellect compromised for benefit
A structural instability of smell
Incompatibilities of faith, creed and grain
Cracks papered away, come undone.

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