3 June 2013

India’s Quiet, Big Naval Splash

June 02, 2013
By James Hardy 

India is acquiring new platforms and capabilities that are turning it into a major naval power. Why doesn’t anyone seem to care?

India’s drive to develop maritime forces that can protect its coast and project power into its surrounding waters is one of the biggest defense stories of recent years, but one that doesn't grab the headlines like its ongoing fast jet acquisitions. But the numbers don't lie: in 1988 the navy’s annual spend was INR10 billion ($181 million) – in 2012 it was INR373.14 billion ($6.78 billion). 

New Delhi’s smart combination of procurement and geopolitical alliances was on display this week when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flew into Tokyo. That India and Japan share a wary attitude to China is well known – and this is giving Japan a chance to test the waters of international arms exports in the form of the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft. 

The US-2, which is in JMSDF service and odds on to be selected by the Indian Navy for its search-and-rescue amphibian requirement, is the perfect platform for Japan to export: it’s an unarmed, humanitarian-first platform that is also probably the best of its type in the world. 

For Delhi, it is the latest example of a massive growth in spending – and naval ambition – that has slid under the radar. 

There are a number of possible reasons for the lack of interest. First, India is also in the market for fast jets. As any visitor to a defense show will tell you, fast jets grab the limelight more than even the hottest offshore patrol trimaran. 

There’s also the fact that India’s not the only Asia-Pacific nation to get into the blue-water navy game. But while the PLA Navy’s every move is analyzed and used to prove China’s embrace of – or departure from – the “peaceful rise” narrative, the Indian Navy has received a free pass over its acquisitions, whether it is its own Russian aircraft carrier or its manufacture of another flattop in Cochin. 

There are a number of possible reasons why New Delhi’s naval maneuvers are not raising alarm bells: 

1) The US has decided India is a friend

The United States has decided that India is a country it wants to partner with in the Pacific, with then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta describing Delhi in 2012 as an “anchor” around which a stable Indian Ocean Region could be constructed. The U.S. doesn’t like everything that India does – its nuclear program and refusal to sign various intelligence agreements are just two flies in the ointment – but it likes it enough. 

It also likes selling materiel to Delhi: U.S. defense sales to India since 2001 are worth about USD13 billion and rising. For the Indian Navy, these include an amphibious landing ship and at least eight P-8I Neptunes – a long-range anti-submarine and patrol aircraft that is only just beginning to enter U.S. service. 

When an assertive China outsmarts a clumsy India

By G Parthasarathy
02nd June 2013 

Unlike India, whose leaders and strategists are guided by Western diplomatic and strategic thinking, China is guided primarily by the strategies enunciated in the 6th century BC, in the words of one of its generals, Sun Tzu. Drawing on the sayings of Sun Tzu, China has outmanoeuvred a clumsy India, held in awe of Chinese economic and military power and its impressive infrastructure on its borders in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. 

Sun Tzu proclaimed: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting,” adding, “All warfare is based on deception.” Under siege on its coastal frontiers over maritime territorial disputes with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia, China’s rulers have evidently decided that it is necessary for them to keep their western frontiers with India quiet. But, for this it was necessary to force India into a position of immobilisation on its borders, which would preclude it from building its defences or infrastructure along the Ladakh-Tibet border. By moving merely 50 soldiers into Depsang in Ladakh in April, China rattled India into a virtual surrender. In Chinese/Tibetan maps between the 17th century and 1919, Depsang has been clearly depicted as being on the Ladakh side of the Ladakh-Tibet border. What China achieved by its intrusion was a pullback of Indian forces and a removal of defence structures on India’s side of the boundary and a virtual veto on India’s forward infrastructure and defence build-up on its borders. Sun Tzu would have been proud of his teachings of victory without war. 

Proceeding to Pakistan while escorted in Pakistan air space by JF-17 fighters designed by Russia but supplied by China, Prime Minister Li Keqiang further rubbed India’s nose in the dust. Much of his time was spent in Islamabad on improving road connectivity through Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This, after he secured India’s silence by getting India to agree that “the two sides are committed taking a positive view and support each other’s friendship with other countries”. In effect, he had secured an Indian commitment not to raise inconvenient questions about Sino-Pakistan nuclear, missile and military collaboration. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are of Chinese design, its Plutonium facilities and ballistic missiles are of Chinese origin. China has emerged as Pakistan’s largest weapons supplier, with weaponry ranging from fighter jets, to frigates and tanks. 

China’s official mouthpiece Global Times gloated over what had transpired. It first ridiculed India’s concerns about Sino-Pakistan nuclear cooperation. Then for good measure it added: “India must accept and adapt to the enviable friendship between China and Pakistan. China cannot scale down this friendship merely because of Indian feelings.” New Delhi appears to have been so overawed by China’s leadership that it did not take up the significant shift that has taken place in China’s nuclear doctrine. In its recently published defence white paper, China has for the first time omitted all mention of its long-term policy of “no first use” of nuclear weapons. This implies that in the event of tensions escalating with Pakistan over a 26/11-style terrorist attack, India could conceivably face the threat of nuclear blackmail from China. While we have endorsed China’s role in the Gulf of Aden, why did we not secure a similar Chinese endorsement of an Indian role in the South China Sea? On issues of water security, we have secured no guarantee from China on prior consultations on upstream projects across the Brahmaputra. All that the Chinese have agreed to is the provision of “flood-season hydrological data”. 

Having proclaimed that “the greatest victory is that which requires no battle”, Sun Tzu must be grinning in the high heavens over what China has achieved in India in a matter of a few weeks. It is perhaps time for our mandarins to do some serious reading of Kautilya’s Arthashastra and to heed Defence Minister A K Antony’s words that there can be no “miracles” in India-China relations.

India in Abepolitik

By Nitin Pai 

Thanks to Beijing's mis-steps, there is greater enthusiasm today for alliances and initiatives that balance China

At 34 paragraphs and over 3,600 words, the joint statement on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Japan earlier this week is perhaps as rare as the Japanese emperor's lunch invitation to the Indian prime minister. We do not know what was on the imperial kitchen's menu, but thanks to the joint statement, we do know a lot about the flavour of India-Japan relations.

The first substantive issue it mentions is the foreign minister's strategic dialogue, immediately followed by the ministerial level economic dialogue. Note how the strategic precedes the economic. Note how the next seven areas mentioned in that paragraph - concerning the two foreign and defence ministries, trilateral dialogue with the United States and issues such as cyber strategy and counter-terrorism - all cover geopolitical issues. A single mention of the word "economic" and then it's back to maritime affairs dialogue again.

The prominence accorded to strategic issues in the joint statement, including reference to the 2008 Manmohan Singh-Taro Aso declaration on security cooperation, is a reasonably good indicator of what is driving the bilateral relationship. To be sure, the bulk of the statement - 11 big paragraphs - concerns economics, development and trade. Yet, these paragraphs are sandwiched between those concerning geopolitical issues, for the statement goes into East Asian security architecture, UNCLOS and the freedom of navigation, Afghanistan, North Korean missiles, CTBT, UN reform and climate change before concluding.

There is a refreshing boldness in the substance and style of the new Japanese government under Shinzo Abe, as much to his foreign policy as to his economics. Abepolitik conceives of Japan as the key player in preserving "the peace, stability and freedom of navigation" in the Indo-Pacific region, which must stand up to a rising China's attempt to dominate and even appropriate parts of it. Mr Abe sees the United States, India and Australia as his country's key partners with the capability of, and shared interests in, balancing growing Chinese power.

The enterprise of bringing the four parties together - first under an "Asian Quadrilateral" and now under an "Asian Democratic Security Diamond" - might well be packaged under the label of liberal democracy, but is grounded on the principles of good old realism. It is the shared interests and capabilities in balancing Chinese power that underpins this geometry, not their domestic political orders. If, say, Communist Party-run Vietnam were to seek to join the project, Mr Abe is quite likely to upgrade the initiative to a pentagon.

What matters is whether and to what extent are the points of the diamond willing to confront China. Five years ago, the Asian Quadrilateral died because they were not. Kevin Rudd, Australia's former prime minister, might get most of the blame for it, but none of the other countries then had the appetite to engage in an initiative against China's objections. Also, there were a lot of people in New Delhi, Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and other places who believed in - and wished for - China's "peaceful rise".

With parts of the Indo-Pacific close to outright military conflict today on the back of Beijing's extravagant territorial claims, there is greater enthusiasm for architectures, alliances and initiatives that balance China. If it appears as if China is being 'encircled' or 'contained' by its neighbours in concert with the United States, then most of the blame should be directed at Beijing. There is a popular tendency to praise China's leaders for being astute strategists who think long-term, in comparison to the myopic politicians in democracies who don't get strategy. Well, you are not much of a strategist if you provoke all your major neighbours into weighing how to contain you, while the only allies you have are bankrupt delinquents exhibiting terrorists, nuclear weapons and missiles. One measure of China's new leadership's performance must be how well they can reverse the acute insecurities their predecessors created across the Indo-Pacific region.

Singh and friends

Jun 03 2013 

What the PM must get right with Nawaz Sharif and Sheikh Hasina 

During his visit to Japan last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underscored two golden rules of diplomacy. One is to seize the moment when there is an opportunity to advance. The other is to stand by friends through thick and thin. In the coming weeks, Singh will have to demonstrate a vigorous commitment to these principles in India's engagement with two of its most important neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

The swearing in of Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister this week opens the door for a fresh start with Pakistan. As the current tenure of Sheikh Hasina comes to an end (elections are due any time from October 2013) in Bangladesh, the window for a historic consolidation of bilateral relations between Delhi and Dhaka might soon close. 

Overruling fears in Delhi about annoying Beijing, Singh outlined an ambitious agenda for a strategic partnership with Japan. Delhi would have had little diplomatic credibility, least of all with Beijing, if Singh had chosen to abandon the special relationship with Japan's premier, Shinzo Abe, in the elusive search for an accommodation with China's new leaders. He must now show equal resolve in reaching out to Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and keeping his word to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh. Some of the PM's boldest diplomatic moves during the last nine years of his premiership have been towards Pakistan and Bangladesh. He must now pick up the threads of the peace process with Islamabad, and finish what he started with Dhaka. 

In the UPA's first term, Singh built on his predecessor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's bold agenda towards Pakistan. He came close to clinching agreements on such difficult issues as Siachen and Sir Creek, and exploring a framework of settlement on Jammu & Kashmir. 

Two factors, however, undermined Singh's effort at normalising bilateral relations with Pakistan. One was internal: the PM's timid colleagues in the Congress party had no stomach for bold moves towards Pakistan (or towards any other country, for that matter). The other was external: while cross-border terrorism cast a shadow over the peace process with Pakistan, the outrageous attack on Mumbai at the end of November 2008 took away the political oxygen by the end of the UPA's first term. In his second tenure as PM, Singh sought to renew the peace process; but it never acquired the necessary momentum despite support from Pakistan's civilian leadership led by Asif Ali Zardari. 

If advance on the Pakistan front remained difficult, Bangladesh presented a historic opportunity in the UPA's second term after Sheikh Hasina's return to power on a sweeping mandate at the end of 2009. Singh and Hasina outlined an ambitious bilateral agenda and ordered their senior officials to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues. 

In the case of Pakistan, state support to terrorism prevented the possibilities for big advances on the rest of the relationship. In contrast, Hasina's crackdown on the sources of anti-India terrorism enabled advances on many fronts. Dhaka's unilateral actions on terrorism saw Delhi respond with expansive market access to goods from Bangladesh. Singh and Hasina negotiated agreements to address long-standing mutual concerns — Dhaka's on sharing the waters of the Teesta river and Delhi's on an overland transit to the Northeast. The two sides also negotiated a land boundary agreement that sorted out a range of vexing of issues that rose out of Bengal's partition in 1947. 

When the stage was set in September 2011 for a transformation of India-Bangladesh relations, the chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, opposed the signing of the Teesta waters agreement and refused to join Singh in Dhaka at the very last moment. Instead of ignoring Banerjee's tantrums, Manmohan Singh held himself back. With Teesta off the table, so was the agreement on transit that would have brought immense benefit to the land-locked northeastern states of India. To make matters worse, the UPA is yet to table the land boundary agreement in Parliament. 

Senior leadership and ‘any peg in any hole’ syndrome

29 May , 2013 

The news of the posting of General David Petraeus as Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan must have been received with a certain degree of disbelief by the status-conscious Indian military brass. As head of the US Central Command, his area of responsibility extended across 27 countries including oversight over operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although moving to Afghanistan was a step down for General Petraeus, he assumed the job enthusiastically, his personal status notwithstanding. 

In order to achieve optimum results, every dynamic organisation seeks to select the best man for the best job. Personal interests of the individuals are accorded secondary importance. 

Compare the above with the prevailing trend in the Indian armed forces. It is unthinkable that an army commander would ever acquiesce to command a lesser force in operations, even in national interest. He would consider it to be an act of sacrilege. For that matter, even the move of an army commander from an operational command to the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) would be highly resented. We had the spectacle of an army commander vehemently protesting to the Government when he was moved from Northern Command to Central Command. He viewed it as relegation. There are numerous such examples. 

Whereas organisational interests should be the overriding consideration while assigning duties to senior commanders, the Indian army accords primacy to personal ambitions of the officers involved. Every single move is individual centric. Two aspects – continuity and suitability – have been discussed here to highlight the malaise. 

Policy on Continuity 

Need for continuity in higher appointments is indisputable. However, the policy cannot be applied selectively. On one hand, a bright officer with less than two years residual service is denied opportunity to be an army commander on the plea that he will not be able to do justice in a short tenure, implying thereby that requirement for continuity is absolutely inescapable. On the other hand, many army commanders are rotated after one year of service to satisfy their aspirations. 

The case of ARTRAC is illustrative of this detrimental practice. The role of ARTRAC is by far the most important during peacetime – to formulate and disseminate concepts and doctrines of warfare; and evolve joint doctrines in conjunction with the other two services. However, as it lacks the glamour of having troops under command, the day an army commander takes over ARTRAC, he starts plotting his move to another command. Resultantly, ARTRAC has been reduced to the status of a glorified parking slot and a transitory halt – it has seen 14 heads in 19 years, average tenure being a little over a year. 

…most appointments are made to satisfy aspirations of individuals. Over-indulgence of ambitious and manipulating leaders has made the army lose sight of larger issues of suitability of leadership, thereby sacrificing organisational needs. 

Neglect of continuity is not limited to ARTRAC alone. As most top appointments have been graded, both formally and informally, every senior officer eyes the so-called higher slot. While eyeing the next appointment, he loses focus on his current assignment and the principle of continuity gets reduced to a charade. 

At another level, the case of the Corps of Engineers is equally instructive. There are three appointments at the top – Engineer-in-Chief (E-in-C), Director General Border Roads (DGBR) and Commandant of the College of Military Engineering (Comdt CME). As every Lieutenant General aspires to occupy the chair of E-in-C, an annual rotational system (euphemistically called ‘musical chairs’) has got well-established. When incumbent E-in-C retires DGBR side-steps as E-in-C and Comdt CME moves in as DGBR. The net result is that no incumbent stays in an appointment for more than a year and thus contributes little. During the period 2004 to 2010, the Corps had six E-in-C from, with an average tenure of barely 12 months. Organisational and institutional interests were nonchalantly sacrificed to satisfy individual aspirations. 

Suitability is no Consideration 

Every appointment requires different qualities of leadership. Similarly, no two officers possess similar traits and talents. In order to achieve optimum results, every dynamic organisation seeks to select the best man for the best job. Personal interests of the individuals are accorded secondary importance. 

India’s ungoverned spaces

Out of the trees
A murderous attack highlights neglect in India’s “outland”

Jun 1st 2013 

POLITICAL posters for the Congress party lie strewn about the forest floor. Jeeps are riddled with bullets. Flies shimmer where a politician and his son were executed. Such is the scene, on a twisting hillside road, three days after Maoist insurgents ambushed a convoy of 17 cars carrying Indian politicians on May 25th. Most of the victims died during a 20-minute shoot-out. The attackers then dragged away a few prominent survivors and summarily executed them. In all, 28 were killed. 

The Congress politicians were returning from a rally in Bastar, a remote, forested area of Chhattisgarh state rich in minerals, where tribal Adivasis, the aboriginal population of India, predominate. The visit was risky. Maoists deem the area to be a “liberated zone” and warn away politicians and others. Yet security protection for the convoy was paltry against what one army ranger estimates to have been at least 100 members of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army. 

A former chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Ajit Jogi, calls the disaster a “gross, blatant neglect on the part of the state”. He blames the Bharatiya Janata Party, which runs the state government, saying it makes use of heavy police protection for itself but denies it to others. 

Other attacks by the Maoist rebels, who are also called Naxalites, have been bloodier. In 2010 a forest battle in nearby Dantewada killed 76 paramilitary police. But this latest attack is the first deliberate strike on a group of civilian leaders. The dead included the state opposition leader, his son, and another prominent state politician, Mahendra Karma. An 83-year-old former cabinet minister somehow survived, despite being hit by three bullets. 

On May 28th the Maoists blamed their victims. “Reactionary” and “fascist” leaders deserved to die for once supporting a hated vigilante force, the Salwa Judum, now disbanded. They especially trumpeted killing Mr Karma, a high-profile backer of that group. Armed by the state, from 2005 to 2008 Salwa Judum led a brutal campaign in Bastar. Over 60,000 tribal villagers were herded into miserable camps or chased over state borders. 

A grim pattern has set in. The Adivasis, two-thirds of Bastar’s population, see little development, other than in a limited number of towns. They are harassed from both sides. Maoist fighters demand villagers’ help or accuse them of collaborating with state officials. In turn, police and vigilantes threaten or attack the unfortunate villagers for backing Maoists. 

When active, the Salwa Judum detained, raped and killed tribal villagers. Deaths in faked “encounters”, when villagers’ bodies were displayed as supposed Maoist fighters, spread particular fury. The force disbanded on orders of the Supreme Court. By then its thuggishness had clearly increased sympathy for the Maoists. Yet cruelties persist. On May 17th eight people were killed in a Bastar village. Police say they mistook festival-goers for Maoists. 

Romanticising the killer Maoists

02 June 2013   

Union Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chandra Deo told a television channel that calling the Maoists ‘terrorists', did not really matter. What was important was that the authorities must effectively tackle the menace.

He said this when the television anchor asked him pointedly whether he agreed with his ministerial colleague Jairam Ramesh's remark, which came in the wake of the killing of senior Congress leaders of Chhattisgarh by the Red ultras, that the Maoists were indeed terrorists.

Mr Deo is wrong. The label is important because it determines the Government's (both at the Centre and in the States) course of action. The authorities will not deal with a pick-pocket in the same manner that they would with a dacoit. A drunkard with a record of creating nuisance in his colony will be handled differently from that of a rapist. A terrorist has to be tackled differently from that of an individual who in a fit of rage picks the gun and shoots his tormenter. If there has to be a national policy on combating the Maoists — and there should be one at the earliest — it will have to take into account what sort of criminals these ultras are.

But Mr Deo's reluctance to call a spade a spade is not surprising, because it derives its basis from the romanticised notion that the Maoist killers are a response to the repression of the tribals by the state over decades and that, if they are terrorists, so are the state agencies which have ‘terrorised' and exploited the marginalised sections of society. While it is true that Government agencies have been far from responsive to the needs of the tribal population, and that on occasions the police and the security agencies have indulged in indefensible excesses, the solution cannot be the subversion of democracy through the gun. In any case, the Maoists have travelled far from their earlier lofty ideals of waging a war against wrongdoing, which began with the Naxalbari movement in West Bengal in the late 60s. They are now at war with the country; in the process they have been targeting innocent citizens, security personnel, politicians and just about every institution that represents democratic India.

The romanticised version of Maoist violence has been a devious creation of the apologists of these brutal killers, and it has sought to be embedded in the conscience of the unsuspecting populace through the media and seminar circuits frequented by so-called human rights activists. These apologists have received booster shots off and on from mainstream politicians as well, many of whom reside within the Congress. But after the Maoists killed senior leaders of the party, these apologists have either gone silent or have abandoned their soft speech. Jairam Ramesh is an example of the latter and Digvijaya Singh represents the former category. There have been exceptions, though, with senior Cabinet Minister

P Chidambaram having long maintained that the Maoists are terrorists and the single biggest threat to the nation's internal security. But each time strident voices such as his emerged on the need to use the iron fist against the Maoists, the party's resident doves rushed to dilute the impact by striking a counter note. As a result of these contradictions, the Maoists thrive.

Combating Left-Wing Extremism

By Lt Gen Kamal Davar
01 Jun , 2013
Among the security perils that afflict India internally, the gravest and most alarmingly burgeoning is left-wing extremism (LWE), commonly dubbed as the Naxal-Maoist threat. Alluded to as being the most serious internal security challenge by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on more than one occasion, the LWE threat currently spans nearly 170 districts spread over 16 states, with a wide swathe running in the centre of the Indian hinterland from the Nepal-Bihar border to the Karnataka and Kerala borders in a south-west orientation referred to as “The Red Corridor.” This vast region traverses a geographical expanse also referred to by some as “from Pashupatinath in Nepal to Tirupatinath in Andhra Pradesh”! That these extremists have unambiguously and frequently pronounced their objective to seize power in India by a protracted war against the Indian state must never be underplayed. That some areas within the “Red Corridor” are already totally bereft of any governmental presence and control, referred to as “liberated zones” by these militants should be a cause of serious concern to the governments both at national and state levels. That this serious challenge to India’s security has well-established and deliberately planned cross-border linkages compounds the already serious ramifications of LWE in India.

It is evident that LWE operations will be well planned and executed as part of a coordinated strategy by the LWE leadership.

The term “Naxalism” refers to the LWE movement, which traces its origins to the May 1967 peasant uprising at Naxalbari, in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. This movement was initially spearheaded by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) leaders Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal to primarily address the local problems of landless, marginal farmers and farm labour from rapacious feudal landlords. In April 1969, a split occurred in the party and a more radical platform was adopted by the new formation, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI-ML), which drew its inspiration and ideology from the thoughts of Mao-Tse-Tung, with Charu Mazumdar proclaiming its mission as the “physical annihilation of class enemies.” Though initially it spread to a large number of districts of West Bengal and some tribal belts in other states, especially the Telengana region in Andhra Pradesh, strong police action and the death of Charu Mazumdar in 1972 led to the movement losing its initial momentum.

However, the Naxal movement in India entered a decisive phase of transformation with the merger in September 2004 of the two leading leftist extremist organisations, namely the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI), metamorphosing into the Communist Party of India (Maoist) (CPI-Maoist). Today, these militant groups are together taking on the Indian state in the pursuit of their secessionist and violent agendas in the garb of fighting for the rights of the tribals and other deprived sections of society. In June 2009, the Government of India banned CPI-Maoist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as a terrorist organisation. The group was charged with running an extortion economy in the guise of a popular revolution and extorting money from mining companies and various businesspersons apart from blowing up schools, police posts and scantily guarded railway stations and targeting governmental functionaries and local police personnel to scare them away from their areas of responsibilities.

Over the years, after embracing Naxal, Maoist, CPI-ML and PWG cadres, LWE has now grown into a widely dispersed yet interlinked, vehemently anti-democratic and gruesomely violent movement that aims to overthrow democratically elected governments and all state institutions all across the country. The Central Committee (CC) of the party formulated its plans for reorganising its structure at the 9th Unity Congress held in January–February 2011.1 According to some estimates, CPI-Maoist has surreptitiously established four regional bureaus for the country’s landmass and these regions are further subdivided into state, special zonal and special area committee jurisdictions – a well-established network to dispense immediate justice to the common folk through its janathans sarkars (people’s courts), collect/extort money and plan and implement its violent agendas against the state. In “the military realm, on the analogy of Regional Bureaus, the CC also has established two Regional Commands(RCs) to undertake and coordinate large scale operations over and above the State Level Military Commissions.”2 Thus, it is evident that LWE operations will be well planned and executed as part of a coordinated strategy by the LWE leadership.

By conservative estimates, this movement has nearly 50,000 highly motivated armed cadres, many well-trained in the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and landmines and equipped with sophisticated smuggled small arms automatic weaponry from China (across the Indo-Myanmar border); from Bangladesh; and, importantly, from across the Indo-Nepal border, from ISI-sponsored agents. In addition, media reports quoting both Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Military Intelligence (MI) sources confirm the linkages of Naxal-Maoists with insurgents from Manipur, militants residing in Myanmar with Chinese links and ULFA militants in Bangladesh and, above all, extremely close all- embracing linkages with Nepalese Maoists.3

Fight Maoist strategy and not the forces...

02 Jun , 2013 

The ‘Gandhians with Guns’ as they may be referred by the people like Arundhiti Roy, however the fact is that they are armed rebels working against the interestsof the union of India and its democratic fundamentals. There may be a many flaws in our system and various policies of the successive governments at the centre and the states can be the reason for overall discontentment amongst the tribal population in India’s heartland, nevertheless an armed rebellion cannot be tolerated as an answer. 

Since the year 2009, going by the media reports, more than 834 policemen have been killed by these Maoists apart from 703 civilian casualties. The recent attack on the Congress Party’s parivartan yatra in Darbha valley of Chittisgarh stands as a grim reminder and underlines the challenge to the State in wresting its control over the red corridor. The counter Naxal operations, unleashed after the deadliest attack on 06 April 2010, by the Maoists on CRPF patrol near Chintainar village in Dantewada district of Chittisgarh that left 75 jawans killed and 55 wounded, is yet to manifest in any worthwhile victories. 

The Maoist insurgents have their area of influence spread across eight states, plaguing over 60 districts covering approximately 33 percent of the total geographical area of India. 

Without getting into miscellaneous aspects of Maoist insurgency its causes or the much articulated counter measures, which appear to be mere semantics, I would rather focus upon military action being carried out by the Central Para Military forces in this region. The Maoist insurgents have their area of influence spread across eight states, plaguing over 60 districts covering approximately 33 percent of the total geographical area of India. These insurgents are very well organised, highly motivated and indoctrinated. To their advantage is the terrain with thick forest cover and virtually non-existent infrastructure, supported by an aggrieved tribal population a resultant of corrupt and week civil administration. 

The disadvantages of poor equipment and obsolete weaponry are dwarfed by other advantages accrued in their favour. On the contrary our Para military forces are far superior in weapons, equipment and training, however they suffer from low morale, poor leadership, week organisation, non-existent centralised operational command and ineffective civil administration, further aggravated by detrimental and divisive local politics. The pseudo human right activists, intellectuals and professionals bearing Maoist leanings, further contribute towards an ever expanding sphere of the Red sympathisers through a well drafted and meticulously executed propaganda. This has resulted in constantly weaning away the poor and the innocent tribal population from the national main stream ideology, thus presenting a larger challenge. The Para Military Forces and largely the CRPF is playing a major role in this fight against the Naxalites and the sacrifices made by their officers and men need to be lauded in all the aspects. 

The Indian experience in counter insurgency is almost as old as our independence, starting from the Naga insurgency that surfaced in late fifties to the militancy in Punjab of the eighties and the on-going proxy war in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The expertise acquired by the Indian security apparatus in combating insurgency has encouraged our friendly foreign countries to get their armed forces personnel trained in Indian counter insurgency training schools. Our army has participated in a number of exercises and training schedules along with the Americans, French, British and the Maldives armed forces personnel. India over the years has established its credentials internationally in combating terrorism and insurgency. If this is true, then where is the effort lacking and why we have not been able to contain the Maoist menace in the red corridor? It is also true that no military action alone can eradicate insurgency, but it can certainly bring down the level of violence as it has been demonstrated in the North and the North East, enabling democratic institutions and the civil administration to firm in. The government machinery can there after carry out developmental activities which are essential to bring the misguided youth back into our main stream, denying the insurgents much needed support base. 

I as an Infantry battalion commander got a first-hand experience in not only training a CRPF battalion before its deployment in Naxal effected region but also got an insight into their psychological makeup and functioning, both operational and administrative. 

The Chintainar ambush on the CRPF patrolling party not only highlighted the severity of the situation, but worked as a catalyst in our fight against these Maoists. Amidst growing rhetoric in media and mounting pressure on the government to deploy army in Red Corridor, the political masters listened to the military leadership and decided against deploying the army, which would have been counterproductive towards overall defence preparedness of the nation. Instead it was decided to deploy additional CRPF battalions in countering the Red menace, over a period of time. The Army was however entrusted upon training the paramilitary personnel before being sent in harm’s way. 

The continuing tragedy of the adivasis

By Ramachandra Guha 

The killings of Mahendra Karma and his colleagues call not for retributive violence but for a deeper reflection on the discontent among the tribals of central India and their dispossession 

In the summer of 2006, I had a long conversation with Mahendra Karma, the Chhattisgarh Congress leader who was killed in a terror attack by the Naxalites last week. I was not alone — with me were five other members of a citizens’ group studying the tragic fallout of the civil war in the State’s Dantewada district. This war pitted the Naxalites on the one side against a vigilante army promoted by Mr. Karma on the other. In a strange, not to say bizarre, example of bipartisan co-operation, the vigilantes (who went by the name of Salwa Judum) were supported by both Mr. Karma (then Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly) and the BJP Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh. 

‘Liberated zone’ 

From the 1980s, Naxalites had been active in the region, asking for higher wages for tribals, harassing traders and forest contractors, and attacking policemen. In the first decade of this century their presence dramatically increased. Dantewada was now identified by Maoist ideologues as the most likely part of India where they could create a ‘liberated zone.’ Dozens of Telugu-speaking Naxalites crossed into Chhattisgarh, working assiduously to accomplish this aim. 

The Naxalites are wedded to the cult of the gun. Their worship of violence is extreme. They are a grave threat to democracy and democratic values. How should the democratically elected State government of Chhattisgarh have tackled their challenge? It should have done so through a two-pronged strategy: (i) smart police work, identifying the areas where the Naxalites were active and isolating their leaders; (ii) sincerely implementing the constitutional provisions guaranteeing the land and tribal forest rights of the adivasis, and improving the delivery of health and education services to them. 

The Chhattisgarh government did neither. On the one side, it granted a slew of leases to industrialists, over-riding the protests of gram panchayats and handing over large tracts of tribal land to mining companies. On the other side, it promoted a vigilante army, distributing guns to young men owing allegiance to Mahendra Karma or his associates. These goons then roamed the countryside, in search of Naxalites real or fictitious. In a series of shocking incidents, they burnt homes (sometimes entire villages), raped women, and looted granaries of those adivasis who refused to join them. 

In response, the Naxalites escalated their activities. They killed Salwa Judum leaders, murdered real or alleged informers, and mounted a series of daring attacks on police and paramilitary units. The combined depredations of the Naxalites and Salwa Judum created a regime of terror and despair across the district. An estimated 150,000 adivasis fled their native villages. A large number sought refuge along the roads of the Dantewada district. Here they lived, in ramshackle tents, away from their lands, their cattle, their homes and their shrines. An equally large number fled into the neighbouring State of Andhra Pradesh, living likewise destitute and tragic lives. 

It was to study this situation at first hand that our team visited Chhattisgarh in 2006. We travelled across the Dantewada district, speaking to vigilantes, Naxalites and, most of all, ordinary tribals. We met adivasis who had been persecuted by the Naxalites, and other adivasis who had been tormented by the Salwa Judum vigilantes. The situation of the community was poignantly captured by one tribal, who said: “Ek taraf Naxaliyon, doosri taraf Salwa Judum, aur hum beech mein, pis gayé” (placed between the Maoists and the vigilantes, we adivasis are being squeezed from both sides). 

We also visited the State capital, Raipur, speaking to senior officials of the State government. They privately told us that Salwa Judum was a horrible mistake, but added that no politician was willing to admit this. Then we spent an hour in the company of the movement’s originator, Mahendra Karma. He told us that he was fighting a dharma yudh, a holy war. We asked whether the outcome of this war was worth it. We told him of what we had seen, of the homes burnt and the women abused by the men acting in his name and claiming that he was their leader. He answered that in a great movement small mistakes are sometimes made. (The exact words he used were: “Badé andolanon mein kabhi kabhi aisé choté apradh hoté hain.”) 

I was immediately reminded of a politician in another country, George W. Bush. In his holy war, too, there was no thought to the collateral damage that innocent civilians would suffer. Admittedly, the jihadis that Bush was fighting were as bloodthirsty and amoral as the Naxalites. But did a democratic government have to reproduce this amorality and this bloodthirstiness? Should it not fight extremism by saner methods? The tortures, the renditions, the displacement of thousands upon thousands of civilians — in all these respects, Dantewada seemed to me to be a micro version of Iraq or Afghanistan. 

Red Hot Rage

The war continues. And the Maoists retain the upper hand for now. 

It is now almost routine. Every summer, after the biting cold of winter has receded and the monsoon is yet to make the thick jungles of Chhattisgarh even more inhospitable, Maoists launch their most audacious strikes of the season at the Indian State. If it was the massacre of 76 CRPF jawans in Dantewada in April 2010, last week saw the brutal attack on the top Chhattisgarh leadership of the Congress—momentarily dislodging the attention of urban Indians from such flighty matters as the IPL controversy to a real war, one where people die. The government may have showcased a lower death toll in Maoist-held areas this season, but the May 25 attack on a Congress convoy returning from a political rally left no doubt that the Maoists retain the power to strike hard. The Bastar massacre left 29 dead, with special violence being visited on Salwa Judum founder and party leader Mahendra Karma, as well as state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh. 

So where does this ‘retributive’ attack leave the fight against Maoism? What path should the state take from this point? Can a ‘security’ approach ever offer a permanent solution to the Maoist riddle? Questions arose one after the other as the government and the party tried to come to terms with the news. Yet, no doubt, the brazen attack will beget a hard and matching res­p­onse from the state. Security experts have been suggesting on television that no war is ‘clean’. It is inevitably ‘dirty business’, implying a price needs to be paid, if required with the deaths not just of combatants, but also of innocents. 

“I identified Patel but pleaded with them to spare him. They threatened me and shouted at me to go away.”Kavasi Lakhma, Konta Congress MLA who survived 

Former Chh­attisgarh DGP Vishwaranjan is an exemplar of this approach. While refusing to use the term “all-out war”, he says the state must pile on “constant pressure” on the Maoists and “batter them into submission”. “Keep them on the run till they get tired, till they have a rethink on their core ideology that seeks to overthrow the Indian State through violent means,” he adds. “Yes, we have to try and reach equilibrium as far as socio-economic problems are concerned, but through democratic means, not with arms. Development is something that can be carried out in a scenario of peace, not war.” 

Here, what came to be spoken about were the rites of war, an enactment of surplus violence: the Maoists, including women cadres, reportedly did a ‘victory dance’ around Karma and stabbed him 78 times, and killed Nand Kumar Patel’s son in front of him. The convoy of over 40 cars carrying these leaders and other wor­kers was crossing Darbha Ghat that Saturday afternoon. They were on their way to Jagdalpur from Sukma, where they had just concluded a parivartan rally. An ied explosion blew up the first vehicle, bringing the others to a halt. This was when a reported band of over 150 Maoists, including over 30 women, started firing indiscriminately on the cars. Once the security forces accompanying the leaders ran out of ammunition, the Maoists descended, reportedly pinching people to ensure they were dead. They then asked for Karma and the two Patels to be identified, after which they took them to a nearby ditch and killed them. Senior leader V.C. Shukla was luckier as he had left Sukma later than the others and was at the end of the convoy. His Telugu-speaking driver pretended he was a businessman. 

Prime targets A bloodied V.C. Shukla on his way to a Raipur hospital 

The Maoists need not have spelt out why they chose these particular leaders as their targets—especially Karma—but a Communist Party of India (Maoist) press release, issued two days after the attack, did so anyway even as it claimed responsibility. For Karma, they invoked the anti-Naxal mil­itia of Salwa Judum, which had itself become a byword for terror for adivasis; Patel because he had deployed paramilitary forces in the jungles of Bastar as state home minister; and Shukla because he was “an enemy of the common man”. 

Dealing With The Maoists

The Maoists want a military conflict as it brings more adivasis into their fold. The Indian state's best bet is in ensuring that it wins over the aam adivasis to its side. 

May 25th’s condemnable attack by the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army, which ended up killing and injuring over 50 people from Congress politicians to migrant adivasi labourers, cannot be understood without recognising the Maoist party’s explicit political aims. These aims include zero tolerance for any competing political force in the party’s area of armed influence. Also, as stated often by male members of the party’s non-adivasi leadership, the polarising hardships created by military conflict are desirable since they hold the opportunity of swelling the party’s ranks. 

But to make deeper sense of the attack, Indians must also acknowledge the routine stymieing of democracy and governance in adivasi India— the context that nurtures the current avatar of India’s four-decade-old Naxalite rebellion. 

If the Indian establishment wishes to effectively end such attacks in the long run, it cannot sidestep a hard look at why it stands so discredited in the aam adivasi’s eyes across central and eastern India. If “democratic values” are what are at stake, as leading politicians argued in the wake of the attack, their parties must also act to uphold and defend such values in numerous adivasi blocks where the Maoists neither challenge the writ of the state nor hold out the threat of political assassinations. 

Here are some specifics dos and don'ts: 

1. Implement land rights safeguards: From the adivasi bonded labour agitations in neglected western Orissa to the struggles against losing land and livelihoods for mining and industrialization across the bauxite, coal and iron ore-rich tracts of central and eastern India, land is at the heart of much of the ongoing violence adivasis suffer. This despite clear safeguards in the Constitution, dedicated land alienation laws and the atrocities act, all of which are meant to prevent and redress adivasi displacement and dispossession. Existing constitutional and legal provisions have to be seriously implemented to address this growing crisis. 

2. Fast-track the Forest Rights Act: From the adivasi perspective, the 2006 Forest Rights Act (FRA) was arguably the most meaningful legislation of independent India. It overturned colonial notions of the state as owner of the forest, and recognised adivasis and other forest-inhabitants as rightful cultivators of forest produce and key actors in forest conservation. But states have been reluctant to cede control— as per the government’s latest status report (April 2013), under 50% of land title claims filed by villagers in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Orissa have resulted in titles. On the ground, this translates into deliberate neglect. In a mid-May interview with one of the columnists, residents of a Gond village in Orissa’s forested coal belt said they had filed FRA claims in 2010 but there was no administrative action to process them. Instead, forest officials had been making rounds of the village with officials of a private mining company. The other important aspect of the law—giving adivasi communities the right to market their forest produce—has been implemented in only a handful of villages across India. 

3. Stop criminalising legitimate spaces of expression and protest: A wide spectrum of non-violent adivasi movements today exist on the ground, agitating on multiple issues including forced displacement, the loss of access to natural resources, the absence of meaningful economic and social rehabilitation, below-minimum wages, government liquor shops and indebtedness. Many of these struggles get little public or media attention. The state’s common reaction is to throttle and intimidate such agitations, often through outright physical assaults or by filing criminal charges against protestors, including those of Naxalism. In Chhattisgarh, such non-violent movements have had to coalesce under a single banner hoping for strength in numbers, given the perennial fear of imprisonment under the state’s harsh Public Security Act. 

The Bloodstained Karmic Cycle

To end the Maoist conflict, look to Peru and Guatemala 

Any keen observer of Chhattisgarh could have foreseen Saturday’s deadly Maoist attack at Jeeram Ghat in Bastar, though not perhaps its magnitude. Mahendra Karma’s death was long expected, though politicians like him who flirt with the dark side usually have enough security to keep them safe. With a string of killings of Maoist leaders under its belt, the security establishment thought the Maoists could be written off. However, like insurgents elsewhere, the Maoists scaled back only to strike hard. 

Calls for more concerted military action ignore what has actually been happening. In fact, in recent months, the security forces have ratcheted up operations, densely carpeting Maoist strongholds with CRPF camps. On the 46 km stretch between Dornapal and Chintalnar, there are now seven camps, with the latest two, Burkapal and Minpa, having come up in the last fortnight. Overnight, large stretches of forest were cleared in Burkapal, for a helipad on one side and a CRPF camp on the other, and the question of forest clearances for this, or any other security installation, is never even seen as an issue. The biodiverse forests of Bastar—which are national treasures—have been one of the biggest casualties of this war, which rages across trees, roads, transformers, schools and the bodies of men, women and little children. 

Sceptical villagers argue that rather than reducing hostilities, the presence of the camps will mean constant skirmishes between the forces and the Maoists, following which the forces will take it out on them. They report that security forces steal chickens from their homes when they are out in the fields; and indeed, with camps close by, even going out to defecate, cultivate or collect fuel wood becomes a hazard, especially for women. In Chintagufa, where several buses are parked to ferry security personnel back and forth, the forces have taken over the primary healthcare centre and the school. The Supreme Court’s orders on keeping off schools mean nothing to them. 

We are on a slippery path if we dismiss any citizen, whether a Congress leader or a Gond child, as expendable. The very raison d’etre of a democracy is lost if it thinks that way. 

Simplistic morality plays may be good for the trps, but will not address the real issues. The Maoist ambush came bar­ely a week after an equally terrible attack by the security forces, again during an area domination exercise, on the villagers of Edesmetta in Bijapur, who were celebrating Beeja Pandum, the seed sowing festival. Eight villagers, including four children, were killed, while severely injured villagers were given medical aid only a day later after local media coverage. The Beeja Pandum is one of the most important festivals of the adivasi calendar. The only glimpse that non-adivasis get is when they are stopped at roadside blocks placed by women and children, and they assume it is just for some easy money. But the ritual significance is that anyone crossing the village during Beeja Pandum must be fined for taking the seed away with them. The equivalent of what happened there would be the police opening fire on a garba dance during Navratri in Ahmedabad, saying the presence of so many people at one place was suspicious. Yet, there has been little national outrage around Edesmetta. For once, the government has promised compensation, but as one CRPF jawan said about the 2010 killing of 76 CRPF personnel, “Nothing can recompense the loss of a loved one.” The adivasis have loved ones too. Unlike the CRPF, they did not even sign up to fight. If what happened in Edesmetta can be dismissed as “collateral damage”, then why not apply the same logic to Saturday’s ambush, where Mahendra Karma was the main target? This is, after all, a war. But once we dismiss any citizen, whether a Congress pradesh president or a Gond child, as expendable, we are on a slippery path. In particular, a democracy that holds this stand loses its raison d’etre. 

As in Tadmetla March 2011 (where security forces burnt 300 homes, raped and killed), Sarkeguda June 2012 (where they shot dead 17 villagers during their Beeja Pandum last year) and Edesmetta 2013, the Chhattisgarh government has ordered a judicial inquiry into the Jeeram Ghat ambush. But since the Congress knows well what this means, they have preferred to enlist the NIA. Given a list of 537 killings by Salwa Judum and security forces, the state government has ordered magisterial inquiries into eight cases since 2008, of which seven are still pending! 

Afghanistan: Lessons Learned from an ISAF Perspective

May 30, 2013 

Author's Note: This article is a part of thesis presented in partial completion of the requirements of The Certificate-of-Training in United Nations Peace Support Operations. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of Ministry of Defence of BiH or PSOTC.

This article examines some of the major “lessons learned” by ISAF while conducting Counterinsurgency (COIN) and Stability Operations in Afghanistan. Focus is on the following key operational areas: Establishing and maintaining the “legitimacy” of the mission and the operations of ISAF; Comprehensive Approach; Use of Force; Protection of Civilians; Intelligence; Cultural Awareness; Information (Influence) Operations and the use of Female Engagement Teams (FET).


ISAF was created in concert with the Bonn Conference in December 2001. The idea was to deploy UN-mandated international force to assist the newly established Afghan Transitional Authority in creating a secure environment and support the reconstruction of Afghanistan. In 2003, NATO launched International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to support a wide ranging peace process in Afghanistan that was based on five (nation-building) pillars: Military Reform, Police Reform, Government Reform, Economic Reform and Drug Growth Eradication. Over the course of NATO’s lengthy intervention the mission in Afghanistan has proven difficult and operations have been adapted to the changing conditions on the ground. It may be instructive to look back to see what lessons have been learned by ISAF that could possibly be used to inform and instruct both current and future missions that may have to operate in a similar environment.

The issues presented in this article are addressed as “lessons learned”; the term itself implies process of learning even though, after almost 12 years of the ISAF mission, NATO still struggles operationally and a number of what have been identified as “lessons learned” remain “lessons to be learned”! 

Background to NATO Operations in Afghanistan: The “International Security Assistance Force” (ISAF)

ISAF is a UN-mandated, NATO-led international military force operating in Afghanistan. Following the successful ousting of the Taliban government of Afghanistan in October-November 2001 by Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. led invasion, ISAF received authorization by UN Security Council Resolution 1386 on December 2001. Broadly stated, its initial mission was to assist in creating a secure environment and to provide security assistance for the performance of other tasks in support of the Bonn Agreement. When ISAF was initially deployed, it covered only a small area around the Afghan capital Kabul. But in the time, the mission area expanded over the whole of Afghanistan. Since August 2003, NATO has been responsible for the command, coordination and planning of the force, including the provision of a force commander and headquarters on the ground in Afghanistan.[1]

ISAF is NATO’s first major out of area deployment (IFOR in Bosnia was in NATO’s “backyard”) and the first time the Alliance has invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty which states that an attack against one member country is to be considered an attack on all. It has also been viewed by some to be a key test for the relevance of the Alliance in the post-Cold War world. ISAF tests not only NATO’s capabilities but also its relevance in a new geopolitical context.[2] In operating over more than a decade, ISAF grew not only in numbers but also witnessed a number of specific improvements in terms of NATO doctrine development for stability and counterinsurgency operations. “Operations during the first half of the decade were often marked by numerous missteps and challenges as the U.S. government and military applied a strategy and force suited for a different threat and environment. Operations in the second half of the decade often featured successful adaptation to overcome these challenges”.[3]


Latest ISAF’s mission statement reads: In support of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, ISAF conducts operations in Afghanistan to reduce the capability and will of the insurgency, support the growth in capacity and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and facilitate improvements in governance and socio-economic development in order to provide a secure environment for sustainable stability that is observable to the population.[4]

On behalf of the international community’s overall effort, ISAF is working to create the conditions whereby the Afghan government is able to exercise its authority throughout the country. To achieve this goal, ISAF conducts security operations to protect the Afghan people, neutralize insurgent’s networks and deny sanctuary in Afghanistan to extremists. ISAF also trains, advises and assists the Afghan National Security Forces, so that they can take over security responsibilities. Currently, NATO’s primary objective in Afghanistan is to enable the Afghan authorities to provide effective security across the country and ensure that the country can never again be a safe haven for terrorists. The transition to Afghan full security responsibility is due to be completed at the end of 2014, when ISAF’s mission should end. As of January 2013, fifty nations are contributing troops to the mission, including 22 non-NATO partner nations from around the globe, and 28 NATO Allies.[5] NATO is now deeply into civil–military stabilization and counterinsurgency tasks, far greater than anyone anticipated when the mission began.

Toward a Successful Outcome in Afghanistan

Type of Publication: Report
Date: 05/31/2013

Former ISAF commander, General John Allen, USMC (Ret.), former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O'Hanlon challenge the perception that Afghanistan is a lost cause and urge Washington to "adequately resource" its current policy toward the country in Toward a Successful Outcome in Afghanistan. Based on their recent experiences and observations in Afghanistan, the authors say they were buoyed by "the impressive progress” of the Afghan security forces and the “significant strides” made in many other areas. They caution the Obama Administration and its international partners against accelerating disengagement prior to 2014 and under-resourcing their commitment to Afghanistan after 2014.