A PRELIMINARY LOOK AT THE LOW INTENSITY CONFLICT PLAGUE IN INDIA: 2008
India has come of age and It is now undeniable that we have done so in all dimensions, encompassing Space, Cybernetics, Cryogenics, Hi-tec Robotics, the High Seas and all ingredients that, directly or indirectly, comprise war-fighting credentials. We also have huge reserves of power. There is a tangible sense of disapproval from other Powers that be, but that is part of the polity of the developed nation in respect of the Haves, Have-nots and Wanna-haves. Nuclear Threat Analysis needs a dispassionate overview as an entity, per se and- most important- the effect of enforced compounding to see how it slots into the tangled skein of multi-faceted Potential Power. It is equally important to note that the Taliban had pushed Pakistan backward with little light at the end of the Stygian [Banihal?] tunnel. This country has tilted awkwardly towards forecast bankruptcy, dethroning of President Musharraf notwithstanding.
The first and foremost aspect that must govern any move or proposal from the host country is acceptance of the fact that Low-Intensity Conflict is a never-ending process of hacking away at the trunk of a country gradually and felling it from within. This insidious method is nothing new. Overcoming it is far from simple. India has suffered too much to remain passive. The use of force should not be restricted to a limited reply. India has crossed the nascent stage insofar as implementing hi-tec gadgetry is concerned. While welcome, it still needs skilful guidance in terms of coordination of a vast inventory of ingredients that go toward a well-combined core of part of its armoury.
The net result of constantly looking at the barrel of a gun creates mental pressure on the poor man at the Border where he is totally unaware of the whats and whys and knows that his life is worth much less than Medal Winners at Sports and Games. It may lead to psychological problems and there have been a few cases of mental imbalance, more so at the heights of Siachen. It is a paradox that awareness brings about many forced changes. The Brits used this gambit adeptly and crowned it by allowing the ‘Natives’ to educate themselves just prior to 1947 and sowed the seeds of discord that have germinated over the last sixty years. Ethno-centric unrest and killings in a country that is avowedly secular hardly support our professed viewpoints. All these events are internally generated by certain elements within our own populace to allow Pakistan and Bangla Desh to voice concern at the international levels, blacking out their own misdeeds against humanity. LIC won Round 1.
But then, each bout has a number of rounds and the remaining rounds will swing our way, inexorably so. Kargil was round two. This round ended with the Indians winning. The mini-war was an outcome of LIC that threatened to grow to alarming proportions. The insurgents had sought to clearly alter the political, social, secular and economic organization of the state, successfully at the outset but defeated by the holding of Elections just two months after Kargil. Despite the Elections, LIC is not over by far. We cannot say that we are in the driver’s seat yet. The extent to how much we as a nation can tolerate has become clearer now. The onus lies with our Political Leaders who have been quietly told not to wax eloquent about our strength and prowess, as such statements can be a catalyst for equalising the imbalance as is extant today. Instead, read out a litany of misdeeds. International sympathy is highly desirable. Plagiarised Machiavellian mendacity is the need of the hour.
No country can support a daily war irrespective of its fiscal status and power. India is by no means a ‘well-off’ country and cannot sustain any more bleeding of its economy. The cost of war is enormous and just cannot be hidden for long. The uncertainties involved in this type of exercise increase dramatically if the indirect costs of a war are computed. Tax the rich beneficiaries, not the proletariat and the clearly impecunious salaried staff.
We require a rapid, well-armed air assault capability, area weapons and sensor systems that can detect human movement in remote regions. There is also a requirement for a fully integrated, national-level intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination system. We have got this project going but are thwarted by some Babus in South Block as they sense that they will lose total control if this project fructifies. They want to limit their contribution to the Joint Secretary level as they do not want the head of another agency to be numero uno. This red-tapism is frankly getting on our nerves, particularly in the case of the Defence Forces.
We have to perforce keep all our vital logistics and communications routes open because a prime tactic of the insurgent is the progressive isolation of selected areas of the state. As can be seen, it is an expensive proposition. We have to augment our ground-based air defence system by making more outlays for airborne radar systems and other hi-tech / sophisticated equipment for silent eavesdropping, heat or movement sensors, et al. These are just the basics; much more is needed in all senses, particularly financial. Our reactive stance only compounds our difficulties. Ergo; change this attitude and stat.
The dynamics of LIC are peculiar as they are not governed by any set of rules or morals. Governments and/or social systems must accommodate innovation or the sudden impact of external social influences. They may not successfully incorporate these changes within their traditional cultural values. Addressing problems posed by change requires considerable time and a bagful of resources. The impatience of key groups and limits on resources make it difficult to respond fully to these problems. The current Indian policy has to change and quickly, at that, as insurgents and terrorists recognize the importance of the public affairs arena to their struggles. Financial support is easy to find for the rebel; he is least concerned about where it comes from. Drug deals proliferate widely and the host country can do precious little.
Does this imply that we live with LIC all our lives? Are we just accepting the never-ending loss of lives in a senseless cause? Is there nothing we can do? Far from it. We have to create a master plan and put it into use stat. What is this master plan then? I will propose suggestions at a later stage. Some are outlandish while others are iconoclastic, even heretic. When a national focus is required, there is little time for moralistic debate. Even though the paper is Air Power oriented, enough space has been left for inter-service interaction and the buzzword of Jointmanship. It is easy to predict that, given my proclivities and pronouncements, my paper will advocate the obliteration of one airfield, with nary a chance of rebuilding and the resultant easy takeover of the trouble spot.