Effectiveness And Limitations Of Army In Combating Terrorism : Lt Gen. Shekatkar

At the ground level, terrorism is essentially a criminal activity; sought to be justified in pursuance of a political agenda. It should, therefore, lie primarily in domain of police organizations, Para military forces (such as Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Assam Rifles, and so on), and political organizations and institutions (since many time they are seen instrumental for emergence of terrorist and violent activities as well as tendencies) to deal with. Is there is a need for a military response? Assuming that military power is employed against terrorist as a last resort by any government, how do we judge the effectiveness of military response in combating terrorism? There are several limitations of Army operations especially when they operate in their own country, among their own people. What are these limitations and how they affect counter terrorist operations?
In conventional war, military’s role is well defined. However for various reasons this type of conflict is becoming rare especially where the opposing forces possess equal or matching combat power. Proxy war using terrorism as the vanguard has become favoured method of achieving political objective by nations, sub national groups assisted by other sympathetic nations/groups. Terrorist organizations are now capable of global networking; and with sea-pirates as well as crime-syndicate, mafia groups, underworld operatives, hawala operators, drugs and weapon smugglers also active in the fray; terrorism is assuming dangerous proportions and part of fourth generation or asymmetric warfare; and with this development the very nature of warfare appears to be getting metamorphosed!! The existence of chemical, biological and nuclear technology which can easily reach in the hands of non state actors, rogue regimes, loose/un-effective control over weapons of mass destruction (may be in just one or two countries who do not adhere to international norms of security regulations); the capability in area destruction, collateral damage of improvised bombs, improvised explosive devices (based on mechanical transport) use of civil air craft, merchant ships as weapons of destruction has emerged in the form of a prohibitively risky proposition. The threat from terrorism is increasing manifold with every passing day and hence need involvement of all sections of national – international governing system. It cannot be left to Military alone. Though armed forces, in any nation are the last resort to be used, but this stage comes only when the threat has developed to a dangerous level and in alarming proportion. Army all over the world will have limitations and will find it difficult to bring the situation under control in short time which is expected by public and also the government, specially the ill informed and un-informed so called politicians and so called NGOs.
India has been subjected to terrorist violence for almost three decades now. Terrorism as the world understands today has been part of all conventional conflicts across the world. Today terrorism has emerged as “philosophy of war”. One may call it low intensity conflict, unconventional conflict, fourth generation warfare, proxy war, asymmetric warfare or by any other name. The fact is that today threat from terrorism is more frightening than the possibility of conventional war. There are not many people in the world today who have experienced or witnessed the horror of World War II, but there are billions of people across the world of all ages from newly born to even 100 year old, of all genders, communities, economic and social status who are witnessing impact and horror of terrorism every day. Since 2001 there has not been a single day when terrorist violence or the counter violence in response to terrorism, has not been witnessed in one part of the world or other!! There is no country in the world today no matter how powerful militarily, which can say with confidence and with certainty that “We have no threat from terrorism, extremism, or fundamentalism”. No nation can claim that there will not be a terrorist attack/violence in future in that country.
India faced and combated insurgency in North East for over four decades. Initially it was a tribal insurgency, where in insurgents used old, vintage, means and mechanism to kill people, security forces, state police personnel with a view to terrorise people and government administration. With the passage of time, advent of new technology the insurgents of North East became techno-terrorists, posing a challenge of different kind. Insurgency in North East was arrested in its second phase only due to effective (not arrogant) and judicious use of force or military power which included the valuable contribution by Para military forces, state armed police, state police, intelligence agencies and most importantly due to active involvement and support of these very people among whom the insurgents were bom, brought up and sustained. End of insurgency in Mizoram is a success story; Nagaland is comparatively peaceful; people of Manipur have realized the value of peace for development, and futility of insurgency terrorism and related violence. When the insurgency corrupted and became dangerous threat, government of India was left with no other option but to deploy Army and other security forces to combat insurgency and violence. Indian army with the help of state and central government and with the help of people; has been able to contain insurgency and has brought down the violence to a level where other mechanism, initiatives, and process to establish lasting peace can commence.
Same has been the case with Punjab, where terrorism has been successfully combated with the help of people and state police. Situation in J&K is gradually coming back to normalcy. It may not be out of the place to state that terrorism in J&K has been contained. There is a need to understand the difference between “containing terrorism” and eliminating terrorism. Terrorism can be contained by Army and other security forces by using force, and power, however terrorism can be eliminated only with the help of people and by using several other means in addition to the army power. “Elimination of terrorism” requires removal of the “cause” of terrorism which has to be addressed through social, economic, political and psychological means and mechanism. What has been happening the world over for almost a decade now, the terrorists are killed and will continue to be killed; but “we are not addressing elimination of terrorism”!! Terrorism is a state of mind and psychology; terrorist acts are the manifestation of the violence in minds “on ground” and among people.
Terrorist violence is bom from a hurt, a wounded spirit burned and blistered by the fire of arrogance, anger, and the desire to take revenge; a spirit splintered and frayed by the frustration of powerlessness, helplessness, a spirit parched with the thirst for a meaningful life, a spirit shriveled and shrunk by a feeling of inferiority. The rage that results from injured self-respect, and humiliation, erupts like a volcano! (9/11; 26/11, attack on Parliament and so on). A culture of violence which gives sadistic pleasure, which frightened people, which delights in hurting; beating, crushing and killing, is spreading all over the world endangering the peaceful, and meaningful existence of humankind!
Global terrorism, international terrorism, political terrorism, religious terrorism, cross border terrorism, or any other type of terrorism and terrorist violence represents the emerging low cost, high pay-off alternative to other known forms of trans-national violence. It is increasingly being used by radicals all over the world as a means to project their reach and influence beyond the boundaries of national states in an attempt to pressurize the target state or target society into submission through a combination of physical violence and fear psychosis. Terrorism in its present form and future possibilities is a distinctive disorder of the modem world. It originated as a term in our life time and not only it has come into the spotlight of global conflict; but is also posing the biggest challenge to the peaceful existence of our human society. The present form of terrorism with frightening reach and lethality is not only endangering the present world but is also sowing seeds for the destruction of coming generations. The state has now arrived when we are terrified by the very idea of being terrified!
Terrorism has been in focus from time to time in different part of the world. Some terrorist actions were confined to a nation state or group of states within a region and sometimes also translational. A detailed study and analysis of the terrorist violence resulting in attack Israel’s sports team in May 1972 had revealed that “a terrorist operation could be planned in Germany by Palestine Arabs, executed in Israel by terrorist recruited in Japan, trained in France, with weapons acquired in Italy (but manufactured elsewhere) supplied by Arab diplomats, with money provided by yet another Islamic country!!! This was 1972!! We are now in 21st Century!!!
A complex web of interaction and relationship between terrorist organizations in different parts of the world is surfacing gradually but surely. Co-operation and connectivity between terrorist organizations sustained and indoctrinated on religious lines, their supporters, sympathizers and sustainers has also increased many fold. With the developments and advancements in various fields of science and technology, communication, information exchange, the reach of TV and other modes of communication has now been further refined. 9/11 is a glaring example of thorough, detailed and meticulous planning and execution of “techno-terrorism”. It also shows that terrorists also belong to well to do families; they are well educated, thoroughly indoctrinated with “misguided religious philosophy” as their base. The September 11,2001 attack at the World Trade Centre and Pentagon in United States highlighted a paradigm shift in the security paradigm at the international theatre. These events underscored the vulnerability of the institution called “nation state” from a new form of a security threat from non-state actors Terrorist” and the new form of asymmetrical warfare called terrorism. The attacks on the train in Madrid, attack on London Metro, attack on Indian Parliament, attack on Mumbai local trains, and again attack at Mumbai on 26th September,2008, signify very clearly that no deterrence mechanism, combat power, Army power can prevent terrorist attacks. The financial/fiscal network supporting terrorism is very complex and sophisticated, and very difficult to detect financial sustenance coupled and connected with smuggling of weapons and drugs and the ability of the syndicates operating the mechanism to eliminate those who come in their way has resulted in “Narco Terrorism”. Terrorist organizations across the world and their supporters are sending a clear message “we can hit you, we can kill your people wherever we want, whenever we want and with whatever mechanism, methods, means and weapons but you do not have an effective response mechanism”.
In the Indian context, it is almost impossible to bring the culprits of illegal financial transactions to book, because of loopholes in the transaction system and legal system. It is only recently that some checks and safeguards have been instituted by the Central Government.
Technology has changed the world. The use of computers and mobile phones has increased many fold in last 20 years. Internet has become a ubiquitous tool of communication and information. Increased computing power and internet have become essential underpinning of global terrorism. It is likely that in just few years to come there will be increased connectivity, interoperability and coordination among terrorist organizations, non-state actors, supporters and sustainers of terrorism, underworld operatives and sea pirates. It is also likely that clandestine transfer of nuclear technology and knowhow will spread through communication technology. It is not very difficult to prepare and explode a chemical device. It is also possible to engineer a chemical leak in densely populated areas. No military power will be able to control this alone. We will need a totally different mechanism to deal with the increased threat. Terrorism is a common challenge. Failure is not an option in our fight against terrorism, naxalites and insurgency. We will not be able to build hope to win with military might alone. We can build it through good governance, jointmanship, coordinated efforts and development.
In combating terrorism, and insurgency success cannot be quantified in numbers. Statistics could be dangerous. Management techniques based on quantification models can be disastrous as we saw during Vietnam War and Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Success cannot be measured in terms of territorial gains (as we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan), terrorist killed, schools built and clinics opened. Terrorist will destroy them (as we saw initially in Kashmir Valley) as soon as you build them. We must involve people to protect them. The success will come; if we can create a situation where the villagers want to work, build the roads, schools, run clinics and terrorists are the only one stopping the villagers; that will be the real success, (we achieved this in Kashmir and Assam). To win a war against terrorism, insurgency we need patience. There is no possibility of quick results. No time frame can be given with certainty (as is done in conventional war). Anyone who want to claim success with in a short period must be prepared to face reverses, failure and pay heavy price initially (as we experienced during IPKF operations in Sri Lanka and during Kargil conflict).
In combating terrorism military forces must lead by example. If the people are justifiably frustrated with the incompetency, inefficiency and corruption in government; military can do very little to bolster (bolster) faith in the government. Indian Army’s motto has always been to win the hearts and minds of people and generate hope, confidence, and faith in governing mechanism. I came across a statement of a US advisor posted at Afghanistan that “We (NATO and the American forces) are not here to win hearts and minds. What we need is to engender hope and faith in Afghan Government?” While technically the statement may appear to be correct; but to create an environment to combat terrorism, unless we win the hearts and minds of local population, one should not hope to engender hope and faith in government. This is the basic principle of Psychological Operations in support of military operation to combat terrorism and insurgency.
It has to be remembered that in any given area of operations or in a society only a small fraction of youth consists of hardened terrorists who are willing to fight to death. Majority of people specially the youth (the rank and file of terrorists) are ordinary people with no jobs, means of sustenance, they get lured towards terrorism as profession to earn money. If they are given an alternative or better option they can be won over and kept away from indulging in act of terrorism or violence.
Another aspect of counter terrorist operation is the availability of safe sanctuary and training ground for terrorists. Success in counter terror operations means nothing or very little if terrorist can find safe hideouts, sanctuary, or camps in areas where forces conducting counter terrorists operations cannot operate effectively, due to political, diplomatic and international regulations/compulsions. Indian Army and other security forces combating terrorism and insurgency found themselves constrained due to the fact that insurgents operating in North East India could establish camps, and also get safe sanctuary in neighbouring countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh. Mr. Laldenga conducted his insurgency campaign in Mizoram for almost two decades from Bangladesh (earlier known as East Pakistan). International rules, regulations, sensitivity of neighbouring countries prevent Indian Army in conducting cross border operations. Even during Kargil war the Indian Army and Air Force was not permitted to cross line of control in Kargil to hit the logistic base and supply routes of intruders whom Pakistan had branded as Mujahids and terrorist!! The situation in Kashmir is even more difficult. Terrorist operating in Kashmir not only find safe sanctuaries, safe heavens in neighbouring Pakistan occupied Kashmir, but also elsewhere in Pakistan. They also get training, weapons, equipment, financial help, indoctrination, motivation from ISI and Pakistan Army, Terrorism in India is an extension of Pakistan’s foreign policy and defence philosophy and mechanism. The philosophy of bleeding India by thousand cuts is an example. Despite public demand and support in India, for conducting trans-border counter terrorist operations in POK, the Government of India finds itself constrained in permitting limited and controlled counter terrorist operations. Terrorist and their supporters take full advantage of this weakness/limitation. Therefore Indian Army’s entire focus, and concentration remains on guarding the line of control, plugging the routes of infiltration and exfiltration. Increasing incidents of clashes between Indian Army and terrorists on the line of control during the process of infiltration are an example.
Situation in Afghanistan is no different. While NATO forces and US Army can carry out effective counter terrorist operations against Taliban and AL Qaida, they cannot operate in border areas of Pakistan. It is for this reason that a large number of terrorists and their leaders crossed over to Pakistan and established their camps and strong holds in areas like Swat and Waziristan. For various reasons the NATO forces and Afghan Army (which is more suited to conduct counter terrorist operations for various reasons which need not be discussed here) cannot conduct operations in these areas. Pakistan Army will not be effective in counter terrorist operations for various reasons. First. There is tribal linkages and tribal affinity between people staying both sides of border, having age old relations, understanding and concept of mutual existence. Second. The terrain is difficult and terrorist exploit it. Pakistan Army’s troops who mostly belong to Punjab and Sindh Provinces may not find it easy to operate in these areas. Pakistan Army is finding it difficult to even conduct covert operations against terrorists. It is questionable if leadership in Pak Army will deploy large number of troops who belong to Baluchistan and NWFP and who are more suited; to conduct counter terrorist operations in these areas for obvious reasons. (The discussion on these is beyond the scope of this paper) Third. Pakistan Army, ISI and the government have developed expertise and mechanism to create, export and sustain terrorism and insurgency in neighbouring countries and even in nations which are far away from Pakistan. They have not developed philosophy, strategy or mechanism to combat terrorism and insurgency on their own land. Pakistan’s military does not have the skills and resources to conduct an effective counter insurgency campaign. It is a fact that when any nation, society, permits the Armed Forces, of uncontrolled ambition, capacity, mechanism to influence the events and environment across national borders, it is at the cost of internal security mechanism and internal defence. Was there a concept of Home Land Security in USA (as we see today) before 9/11?! This issue needs a serious in-depth study and debate. Fourth there must be a sizeable element within Pakistan Army which must be keen on continuation of terrorism in Afghanistan and even in India and China. It helps in diverting the focus of people. Creation of Mujahideen and Taliban in Afghanistan to combat Soviet forces in Afghanistan; spreading and sustaining of insurgency in North East India earlier through East Pakistan, and now Bangladesh, spreading and sustaining terrorism in Punjab, supporting and sustaining terrorism in J&K are examples. It is possible that on one hand Pakistan Army pretends to fight terrorists in Pakistan, but on the other hand some elements within Pakistan Army as well as some other organs of the Government are sustaining terrorism in Afghanistan and some parts of Pakistan’s area adjoining Afghanistan! One cannot rule out the possibility of extremists and terrorists operating in China’s Xingkiang province may have been trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan and may still be having some links. (The author had mentioned about linkages between the unrest in Xingkiang and Pakistan; in a chapter on “terrorism” in the book National Security an Overview, edited by noted defence and security analyst Shri Milind Gadgil, published by Vishwa Samvad Kendra, Mumbai in the year 2004).
Fifth. American Predator drones have been used to target Al-Qaida, specially the leadership in the border areas of Pakistan, but it is at the cost of igniting and inflaming the Pushtun-led insurgency in the border areas of Pakistan, especially in Baluchistan. Baluchistan is likely to slip out of the effective control of Pakistan gradually. This development will have its own implications which are out of the scope of this paper. Since Pakistan Government, Pakistan Army neither have the experience, nor the resources as well as strong will to combat Taliban and AL Qaida (to retain strategic option); it is likely that Islamist elements, extremists, terrorist will find it comparatively easy to increase their influence and hold in Pakistan. They may not be able to takeover governance of Pakistan in Political and diplomatic terms, (as we saw in Afghanistan), but increase in their influence and hold in Pakistan will certainly increase stakes in Military Terms. This may include nuclear technology and nuclear facilities (not necessarily nuclear bombs, nuclear missiles, and delivery mechanism presently under the control of Pakistan’s Armed Forces); which may radically change the strategic and security environment in Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, India and even in China. What will be the effectiveness of military power (military power of Pakistan and that of NATO and even USA) in such a dangerous situation?! We cannot and we should not ignore the fact that AQ Khan syndicate’s network runs deep and is still terrorist operations. Terrorist and their supporters take full advantage of this weakness/limitation. Therefore Indian Army’s entire focus, and concentration remains on guarding the line of control, plugging the routes of infiltration and exfiltration. Increasing incidents of clashes between Indian Army and terrorists on the line of control during the process of infiltration are an example.
Situation in Afghanistan is no different. While NATO forces and US Army can carry out effective counter terrorist operations against Taliban and AL Qaida, they cannot operate in border areas of Pakistan. It is for this reason that a large number of terrorists and their leaders crossed over to Pakistan and established their camps and strong holds in areas like Swat and Waziristan. For various reasons the NATO forces and Afghan Army (which is more suited to conduct counter terrorist operations for various reasons which need not be discussed here) cannot conduct operations in these areas. Pakistan Army will not be effective in counter terrorist operations for various reasons. First. There is tribal linkages and tribal affinity between people staying both sides of border, having age old relations, understanding and concept of mutual existence. Second. The terrain is difficult and terrorist exploit it. Pakistan Army’s troops who mostly belong to Punjab and Sindh Provinces may not find it easy to operate in these areas. Pakistan Army is finding it difficult to even conduct covert operations against terrorists. It is questionable if leadership in Pak Army will deploy large number of troops who belong to Baluchistan and NWFP and who are more suited; to conduct counter terrorist operations in these areas for obvious reasons. (The discussion on these is beyond the scope of this paper) Third. Pakistan Army, ISI and the government have developed expertise and mechanism to create, export and sustain terrorism and insurgency in neighbouring countries and even in nations which are far away from Pakistan. They have not developed philosophy, strategy or mechanism to combat terrorism and insurgency on their own land. Pakistan’s military does not have the skills and resources to conduct an effective counter insurgency campaign. It is a fact that when any nation, society, permits the Armed Forces, of uncontrolled ambition, capacity, mechanism to influence the events and environment across national borders, it is at the cost of internal security mechanism and internal defence. Was there a concept of Home Land Security in USA (as we see today) before 9/11?! This issue needs a serious in-depth study and debate. Fourth there must be a sizeable element within Pakistan Army which must be keen on continuation of terrorism in Afghanistan and even in India and China. It helps in diverting the focus of people. Creation of Mujahideen and Taliban in Afghanistan to combat Soviet forces in Afghanistan; spreading and sustaining of insurgency in North East India earlier through East Pakistan, and now Bangladesh, spreading and sustaining terrorism in Punjab, supporting and sustaining terrorism in J&K are examples. It is possible that on one hand Pakistan Army pretends to fight terrorists in Pakistan, but on the other hand some elements within Pakistan Army as well as some other organs of the Government are sustaining terrorism in Afghanistan and some parts of Pakistan’s area adjoining Afghanistan! One can not rule out the possibility of extremists and terrorists operating in China’s Xingkiang province may have been trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan and may still be having some links. (The author had mentioned about linkages between the unrest in Xingkiang and Pakistan; in a chapter on “terrorism” in the book National Security an Overview, edited by noted defence and security analyst Shri Milind Gadgil, published by Vishwa Samvad Kendra, Mumbai in the year 2004).
Fifth American Predator drons have been used to target AL Quida, specially the leadership in the border areas of Pakistan, but it is at the cost of igniting and inflaming the Pushtun-led insurgency in the border areas of Pakistan, especially in Baluchistan. Baluchistan is likely to slip out of the effective control of Pakistan gradually. This development will have its own implications which are out of the scope of this paper. Since Pakistan Government, Pakistan Army neither have the experience, nor the resources as well as strong will to combat Taliban and AL Qaida (to retain strategic option); it is likely that Islamist elements, extremists, terrorist will find it comparatively easy to increase their influence and hold in Pakistan. They may not be able to takeover governance of Pakistan in Political and diplomatic terms, (as we saw in Afghanistan), but increase in their influence and hold in Pakistan will certainly increase stakes in Military Terms. This may include nuclear technology and nuclear facilities (not necessarily nuclear bombs, nuclear missiles, and delivery mechanism presently under the control of Pakistan’s Armed Forces); which may radically change the strategic and security environment in Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, India and even in China. What will be the effectiveness of military power (military power of Pakistan and that of NATO and even USA) in such a dangerous situation?! We cannot and we should not ignore the fact that AQ Khan syndicate’s network runs deep and is still intact. The latest exposures and reports that the drug smugglers in Mexico have developed a submarine like capability (may be in limited terms) and Sri Lanka’s navy has discovered a submarine, must not be taken lightly. It reflects on “capability”. LTTE had acquired even limited air strike capability! All these put together can result in development of delivery mechanism. Aircraft used for artificial rain by use of chemicals can also be used for chemical attack!! What technological mechanism is used by terrorist suicide bombers? Sixth. It has been my experience of four decades in Army service and combating insurgency, terrorism, extremism, that after certain length of time insurgency and terrorism becomes money generating, money making enterprise. This is true all over the world, without an exception. Terrorism and insurgency have become cottage industry both in J&K and North East. Examine the funds allocated in these states during last 20 years. Every state demand more funds from the Central Government to combat violence. At times violence is deliberately engineered to destroy proof. There is a well organized system and mechanism to make money. Same is true of funds allocated to combat naxalites in different states of India. Based on my experience I can state with a reasonable degree of confidence that not even 20% of funds allocated to combat terrorism, insurgency, naxalites is being used properly. These funds are diverted and misused. Continuation of insurgency, terrorism and violence suites every organ of governing mechanism, the exception to the extent being Army and security forces.
The case of Afghanistan and Pakistan is no different. Just compute the financial allocations (both through official and unofficial channels) to ISI, Pakistan Army Channels to combat Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The funds weapons, equipment were channeled through Pakistan. What was the percentage which actually reached the so called Majahideen who were fighting against Soviet Army?
It we compute the funds allocated by USA, and Western countries to combat terrorism and insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11, the figures will be amazing. Pakistan’s governing mechanism, Army and ISI have developed expertise and sophistication to use America and other Western countries as “Milking Cow”!! All the rulers in Pakistan since 1980 without an exception have always been asking for more funds to combat the same terrorists who have been created by Pakistan. Terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan is being used to make money, and has developed into a well organized cottage industry. Assuming terrorism is brought to an end in Afghanistan and Pakistan; will the allocation of funds by USA and others will remain the same? Will it not be reduced or stopped? America will be fully justified in seeking the justification for liberal grants, loans and other methods of getting funds. When the economy of a state, a nation, of influential and powerful section of society start surviving on the funds generated on the pretext of combating terrorism and insurgency; what can be the effectiveness of military power alone?
Despite all the limitations and handicaps in use of military power in combating terrorism, “failure in successfully combating terrorism” is not and cannot be an option in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China or anywhere in the world. Failure in combating terrorism will have more dangerous implications to the entire world, than impact of dropping of nuclear bomb during World War II. If the nations all over the world do not cooperate with USA in eliminating terrorism which is totally different than killing terrorists; and if America, is forced to leave Iraq and Afghanistan out of frustration or recurring heavy cost in all respect, the terrorist and their supporters all over the world will be encouraged. We may have to witness more 9/11, and 26/11. Terrorist will target the so called powerful, developed, economically strong nations. The underdeveloped and poor countries may witness more internal violence by local terrorist syndicates. The terrorist will target entire Western World, USA, Israel, India and China. If one studies and critically analyse the geography from Indonesia to Israel (Pacific Ocean to Mediterranean Sea, and Indian Ocean Rim); it will be very clear as to what, where, when, why and how terrorists can do what they would like to do! No military power will be able to stop them from doing so purely based on military power alone.
No one can rule out the possibility of emergence of new political identity out of Pakistan. The philosophy and process has already commenced in some parts of Pakistan, due to the spread and influence of terrorist organizations. Only military power cannot stop it. There are limitations of usefulness and effectiveness of military power in combating terrorism, low intensity conflict and unconventional War!
The terrorists of today and of the future will be educated, sharp, technologically expert (just examine the case of ISI agent named Nadeem who has been caught by Police recently; his mission was to recruit engineers and IT experts for terrorist organizations) they are ingenious, they are and they will be creative, thoroughly indoctrinated, trained and supported. They will find infiltration routes and avenues in Europe and USA. They will use local youth who may be frustrated, dissatisfied or disgruntled. The terrorists will be geared up to launch chemical, biological and even nuclear attack, (not necessarily using conventional nuclear weapons and means). We must remember that if there is a wrong way to do something then someone will do the wrong way!! There are reports of AL Qaida and other militant organizations using online tools for any sinister activities. Today global fight against terrorism has to be carried to cyberspace. Availability of pictures, information on cyber network has its own implications.
23. Based on my personal interaction with captured and surrendered terrorist, during the command of a division in Kashmir Valley in 1995-96,1 was able to get some inputs, about the possibility of use of commercial aircraft as bomb against USA. The inputs were shared during interaction with US delegation at New Delhi in 1997, however these were not taken seriously, since they came from Indian Army Officer. Things changed after 9/11. A detailed account of the philosophy and possible line of action by terrorists against USA has been given in the Chapter on Terrorism, authored by me. This reference has been given earlier in this paper. The need is to understand the reality that terrorist carry out detailed and long term planning for their major terrorist attack/strike.
Unlike conventional war, counter terrorist and counter insurgency operations, quickly turn unpopular among the local population and also among political leadership (for obvious reasons) and governing mechanism, since they want quick results and are always eager to hear “good news” only. In unconventional war “good news” is not always possible. Many time counter terrorist operations do go “badly”. When the armed forces specially the army and police are asked questions which are not warranted, subjected to false and coloured propaganda, accusation of violation of human right and so on, the rank and file who face bullets and threats every day and their leadership feel hurt, humiliated, insulted and cheated. This is more so in Indian context. Troops feel that they are doing a ‘’thankless job”. This poses serious challenge to the leadership at different levels in army, para military forces, and even state police, as to how to keep the troops focused and maintain desired level of motivation which is so crucial for success in prolonged unconventional war of peculiar nature. When the bullets fly, troops have no option but to respond and in doing so things do go wrong at time. Only seasoned commanders who have served in dangerous environment and have combated terrorism and insurgency can appreciate the problems and difficulties. Those who are confined to air-conditioned environment, far far away from ground realities, who borrow wisdom from internet and printed articles can never appreciate and understand the compulsions of ground forces combating terrorism/insurgency.
While it may be easy to calculate the cost of counter terrorist operations in terms of funds spent, casualties to the soldiers, civil population and so on, it is very difficult to calculate cost of defeat if the counter terrorist/insurgency operations are terminated midway without attaining the overall strategic objective for which the operations were launched. The cost of leaving will always be larger. Return of terrorists, insurgents, or their supporters and sustainers to power; possibility of civil unrest which may be similar to civil war like situation, destabilization of adjoining states, nations where terrorist can operate at will. Let us learn from Afghanistan episode. The biggest danger is when every terrorist, jehadi, extremist, fundamentalist in every part of the world feels emboldened due to success of some terrorist in some part of the world.
In India we conduct the counter terrorist operations on our land and on our national soil. Every soldier combating terrorism feels that he is fighting for a just cause of protecting our nation and people as well as ensuring territorial integrity. Therefore commitment to “cause to fight for” and motivational levels are different. But when Troops Irom a country are deployed to combat terrorism thousands of miles away on foreign soil, among people whom they do not know, with whom they never interacted before, different language, different religion, different culture and way of life; for the cause of protection and furtherance of “national interests”, the motivational levels are totally different and may be at time questionable. One of the basic pre requisite for success in war of any type; is “justified cause to fight for”. If the cause of prolonged conflict is not justified, the support of the local population in “combat zone” and also the support of the population of the country to which the troops belong to, will decline after a certain length of time depending on success and outcome of the conflict. The other countries who may have joined to fight initially for various reasons, tend to be eager to pull out their forces from conflict zone. This in turn may result in loosing “friends and allies”!! Why have some nations pulled out of Iraq and why are some eager to pull out from Afghanistan? How to keep the forces of different nation united and focused in combat zone is the biggest challenge to any theater commander. No political leader, diplomat, bureaucrat and even senior armed forces commander, the so called experts, who have never faced the ground realties, will agree with my views, but this has always been, and will always remain a bitter truth, a harsh reality.
Finally we must always remember the age old reality that “insurgents and terrorist do not win a war, but their opponents often lose it”!! As I explained earlier there is no scope for any nation all over the world to lose war against terrorism. Defeat is not the military option. We must also remember that “the weak but determined have one weapon, the error of those who think they are strong”.
There is a need to send clear-cut message across the world:

“Do not believe in the alliance of money and machinegun, because your Children will inherit not the money, but the machinegun which will not only destroy the children but everyone else”.

If we can send the clear message through several means and mechanism, we can hope to establish peace. Because no child is born as a terrorist; terrorists are created and sustained. Military power alone has its limitation in winning war against terrorism.

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