India's Role In Peace Keeping Operations : Lt Gen (Dr.) D. B. Shekatkar

UN Peacekeeping
Indian UN Peacekeeping

1. The basic role of any nation’s Armed Forces is to defend the Country against external aggression and protect it from internal threat when its National Security is jeopardized. The Indian Armed Forces have always lived up to its fine reputation and done the nation proud whenever the need arose. The bitter wars we have been forced to fight against our neighbors, the ongoing proxy war in J & K or the Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East are some of the fine examples. In addition, the Indian Armed Forces have been actively participating in United Nations Peace Keeping Operations (UNPKO) during the past five decades. This is more so since India was one of the founder members of the UN.
2. India is one of the largest contributors to UNPKOs. Since its first commitment in Korea in early 1950s, Indian troops have participated in some of the most difficult UN operations and won universal admiration for their professional excellence. We have taken part in 33 peace keeping missions out of the 50 undertaken by the UN and contributed over 55,000 troops all over the world. In support of UN Peace Keeping endeavors, the Indian Army has contributed some outstanding Force Commanders (FCs), elite military contingents, impartial observers and dedicated Staff Officers. Their devotion to duty and excellent performance has been widely acclaimed. 106 Indian officers, soldiers and other personnel have laid down their lives while serving in UNPKOs.
3. The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) did a commendable job in the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka in late 1980s and was largely responsible in bringing the situation under control.
4. The post 11 Sep 2001 scenario and more so the events in the aftermath of the dastardly attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 Dec 2001, have resulted in security imperatives to India both at the regional and global level.
5. Of late, there have been some questions arising regarding the continuation of our troops participating in Peace Keeping Operations.
6. To examine India’s Role in Peace Keeping Operations during  the past five decades and its utility in our present scenario.
7. The Research will cover the following aspects:-
(a)          Peace Keeping Operations: An Insight.
(b)          Training and Preparation for a Peace Keeping Mission.
(c)           India’s Participation in Peace Keeping Operations.
(d)          Utility of Participation in Future Peace Keeping Operations.
Genesis of UN
8. The challenge to prevent recurrence of another world conflict prompted 50 peace loving nations, including India, to attend the San Francisco Conference from 25 Apr to 26 Jun 1945. These nations collectively prepared the UN Charter to form an international organisation called the United Nations (UN). The UN Charter in Article: 1 lays down the primary role of the UN, ‘to maintain international peace and security’. As on 01 Jun 2002, the UN has 190 members, representing nearly all nation-states.
Who Are UN Peace Keepers
9. In May 1948, the UN Security Council decided to establish a field operation to supervise the fragile force in the first Arab-Israeli War and sent 36 unarmed military observers in the Middle East as the first UN Peace Keepers. In the 50 years since then, more than 7.5 lakh individuals, the vast majority of them soldiers, have served in 50 UNPKOs. Known widely as BLUE HELMETS or BLUE BERETS because of their district head gear,
Types of Peace Keeping Operations
10.  Peace Keeping Ops (PKOs) are either Military Observer Missions or Peace Keeping Force Missions, consisting of national contingents of troops and a few observers.
11. The larger multifaceted PKOs have a civilian component and are commanded by a Special Representative of the Secretary General(SRSG).
Technique of Peace Keeping
12. Peace Keeping is a technique, pioneered and developed by the UN which ranges from traditional methods of resolving disputes peacefully, such as mediation and fact finding, to more forceful actions, such as embargoes and military intervention.
13. Peace Keeping operations have traditionally involved the deployment of primarily military personnel from a number of countries, under UN command, to help control and resolve conflicts between hostile parties. From the first deployment of military observers in UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) in Jerusalem in 1948, UN Peace Keeping has evolved to meet the unique demands of different conflicts in a changing political landscape.
14. Recent years and more so after the Cold War period, there has been a proliferation of civil wars and other armed conflicts within states which threaten international peace and security and cause massive human suffering. Peace keeping, initially developed as a means of dealing with inter-state conflict, has been increasingly applied to intra-state conflicts and civil wars.
Methodology of Conduct of Operations
15. Whatever be the nature of conflict and type of UNPKOs, the military component has its main task of ensuring security support to the overall peace keeping effort. The methodology of conduct of operations is likely to be as follows.
(a) Establishment of check points and Observation Posts.
(b) Conduct of patrolling and other operational tasks.
(c) Supervision, monitoring, investigation and reporting of cease fire and Human Rights violations.
(d) Disarming and demobilization of warring factions.
(e) Aid to civil authorities and civic action.
(e) Assistance of Human Rights agencies and protection of Human Rights.
16. Changes in PKOs have increased the complexity of tasks that peace keepers have to undertake. To succeed in the assigned mission, they need to undergo necessary training and preparation. Though routine military training provides a good military background for carrying out most UN peace keeping tasks, yet serving on UNPKO is a special job and needs adequate preparation and orientation of training.
17. Formal training for UNPKO should be structured as under:-
(a) General Awareness Training: To impart introductory training on UN peace keeping to all ranks.
(b) Basic Training for UNPKO: Is oriented towards the preparation of the personnel/the contingent for their expected role in a UN peace keeping mission.
(c) Pre-Induction Briefing and Preparation: To complete required level of preparedness, all officers or as contingents assigned to a specified mission should undergo a mission related briefings, essential language training and carryout necessary preparations for the final dispatch.
(d) Post-Induction Training in Mission Area: Once in the mission area, post-induction training in the form of briefings, on job training and training to deal with some specific requirements of the mission depending upon tasks involved, will be organised.
18. The contingents simultaneously carry out all preparations for the mission depending upon the tasks envisaged during this period. This includes concentration and training of troops, collection of weapons, equipment and stores and preparation for induction into the mission area. A contingent is equipped on the basis of the mission mandate, likely tasks, UN request letter and equipment prescribed as per normal authorisation of a contingent. Experiences of previous UN missions and other Military Observers or Staff Officers prove useful towards the same.

“ Peace Keeping is not a job of soldiers, but only a soldier can best do it”.

-Dag Hammerskold

19. The Indian Armed Forces participation in UN efforts of maintenance of international peace and security dates back to the UN intervention in Korea in 1950. Lt Gen KS Thimayya led a brigade sized force with associated combat and support elements to establish a Neutral Nation’s Repatriation Commission (NNRC) in Korea. Since then our Armed Forces and primarily the Indian Army has been an active member of UN peace efforts around the world. As of date, India is among the top six countries in Number of troops it offers on UNPKOs.
20. Indian national policy of non-aligned status, (Army’s professionalism and its multi ethnical/multi religious composition Tiave been preferred by almost all countries where UNPKOs have been launched.
Participation in Cold War Era
21. Korean War: India sent a field ambulance to facilitate withdrawal of the sick and wounded in Korea. After the cease fire, India becomes the Chairman of the NNRC.
22. Arab-Israeli Conflict: India contributed to the peace in Middle East in 1950s and 60s. It provided an Infantry battalion group for the UN Emergency Force (UNEF), deployed in Gaza Strip, rotating 11 battalions in the process. Maj Gen Inderjit Rikhye was the Force Commander (FC) of UNEFI and later it was Lt Gen PS Gyani.
23. Congo: The UN operations in Congo(ONUC), was the largest peace keeping efforts by the UN during the Cold War era. India sent a Infantry brigade group. Maj Gen Dewan Prem Chand was the UN Regional Commander of Katanga area. The efforts of the brigade found praise in all UN reports and were one of the major reasons of final success of ONUC. Capt GS Salaria was posthumously awarded PVC for his acts of gallantry in Katanga operations.
24. Indian Participation in Other Missions: India participated in the UN missions in Cyprus, Yemen and Iran – Iraq, sending military observers and FCs in the first two.
Participation in Post Cold War Era
25. Namibia: The UN Operation in Namibia (UNTAG) is considered one of the success stories of the UN. Indian Military Observers in Namibia were responsible for the smooth withdrawal of foreign troops, holding elections and subsequent handing over the authority to the govt. We also provided, one FC .
26. Yugoslavia: Lt Gen Satish Nambiar as head of mission and FC of UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) saw its successful establishment.
27. Cambodia: India provided an infantry battalion, field ambulance and military observers for UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC).
28. Somalia: The UN operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) is considered one of the most difficult and challenging operation the UN has ever attempted. Due to unfortunate incidents of killing of UN personnel, the UNOSOM mandate changed to enforcement action; it later reverted to PKO role. India demonstrated its capacity to provide an integrated force comprising of land (brigade group), naval as well as air support.
29. Rwanda: India provided an infantry battalion group, military observers and staff officers for the UN mission (UNAMIR).
30. Angola: The Indian Army has been participating in successive phases of the UN mission in Angola (UNAVEM) since 1989 and the UN Observer Mission(MONUA) in 1997. .
31. Lebanon: India has been participating with an infantry battalion group in Lebanon (UNIFIL) since 1998.
32. Sierra Leone: One infantry battalion group, and an air complement of helicopters and armed helicopters were inducted as part of UN mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), after it was initially a military observer mission. The situation turned tense after the rebels of Revolutionary United Front (RUF) took some UN military observers and a UN helicopter air crew as hostages, and later surrounded two company locations of the Indian troops. The Indian forces consisting of ground and air launched a well planned and coordinated military operation to free the hostages and facilitate breakout of the company s. Op KHUKRI was a grand success which ensured safety of all UN troops and a great loss to the rebels. The operation was a great boost for the image of the Indians and the UN forces. Later on the 3000 Indian peacekeepers withdrew from Sierra Leone due to change in mandate and other reasons. India had also provided a Force Commander for the mission.
33. Ethiopia and Eritrea: An infantry battalion group has been participated with UNMEE since Mar 2001.
IPKF in Sri Lanka
34. India was drawn into the ethnic crisis between the Sinhalese majority and Sri Lankan Tamils as a result of the accord signed between Sri Lanka and India in July 1987.
35. The Indian forces initially supervised the surrender of arms by Tamil militant groups in the presence of the Sri Lankan authorities in Aug 87. The situation changed abruptly in Oct 87 when the LTTE and Sri Lankan forces exchanged fire. Later the LTTE fired its first shot on IPKF troops and further developments led to the transformation of the IPKF from ‘peace keeping’ to a “fighting force’. A massive induction of troops and equipment took place.
36. Op. PAWAN: The IPKF operated against the LTTE for the next few years. Though casualties suffered by the Indian troops were bit on the higher side, it was able to control the situation to a large extent. The IPKF had to operate against enormous odds such as no clear government policy/political aims, lack of intelligence and no popular support. It acquitted itself well and was responsible for bringing Colombo and Jaffna to the talking table. The Indian Armed Forces learnt many useful lessons from this operation.
India’s Policy
37. As one of the founding members of UN, our policy since the very beginning has been to help the UN and International community in restoring peace and security in troubled states. The Indian Govt has been willing to subscribe troops for UN mission, keeping in mind our strategic interests.
38. Advantages of Participating in UNPKOs
a)      Projection of image of India and Indian Armed Forces in international fora.
b)      (b)Gaining of goodwill from Third World countries where UNPKOs are launched.
c)       Enhancing our status within the portals of the UN.
d)      Making our case stronger for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
e)      UN exposure for our troops and offers and resultant advantages. An opportunity to interact with other Armies of the World and gain experience.
f)       Professional and financial gains accruing thereof.
Problems of PKOs
39. Though there are obvious advantages of participating in PKOs, there are also some problems involved, which have raised doubts regarding the purpose of sending our troops abroad. A classic example is of Sierra Leone, where the 3000 Indian Peace Keepers had to be later withdrawn from the mission. Some of the likely problem areas are:
a)      Failure of UN mission resulting in withdrawal of all peace keeping personnel, e.g. Somalia.
b)      Clash of interests at times, i.e. between UN, own or of host country.
c)       Inherent problems of command and control, when operating under commanders from different countries.
d)      UN personnel, especially military observers being unarmed, are vulnerable to rebels/hostiles during the mission.
e)      Charges of corruption or Human Rights violation against UN peace keepers of some countries e.g. in Somalia, Sierra Leone.
f)       Delay in payment of Peace Keeping dues by UN authorities. The UN owes India $40 million for peace keeping missions.
g)      Operational commitments of Indian Army in the Indian Sub – Continent.
UN Honours Indian Peace Keepers
40. The UN honoured India’s participation and its sacrifices for PKOs in a grand function in UN HQ on 14 Mar 2002. The ‘DAG HAMMERSKJOLD’ medals were presented in recognition of sacrifices made by our 106 nationals during various UNPKOs.
41. The benefits which accrue from India’s participation in PKOs are far more important to our national policy and national interests, notwithstanding the few problems which might arise in certain missions. It is advisable to provide troops for selected PKOs in future.
42. It is recommended that:
(a) India continues to participate in UNPKOs, keeping our strategic interests in mind.
(b) It should abstain from those UN missions, which are:
I.            Ill-conceived or likely to result in a failure e.g. Somalia or Sierra Leone.
II.            Mandate or terms are not clear.
III.            Likely to result in clash of interests.
IV.            Risky missions which may later entail severe fighting, thereby inviting avoidable casualties to own troops.
V.            Operational compulsions at home do not permit sparing Indian troops.
(c) The contingents should be well prepared; trained, equipped and briefed regarding its mandate, likely role and tasks in the mission area, so that they are able to discharge their duties effectively and maintain the high standards set by our earlier UN missions.
43. India appreciates its responsibilities towards the UN charter and has consistently contributed towards UN effort in maintenance of international peace and security.
44. The Indian Armed Forces are one of the largest contributors to UNPKOs. The UN has honoured the Indian peacekeepers in recognising its contribution and sacrifices to PKOs.
45. Indian Contingents (INDBAT), which have served in UNPKOs have won praise from the UN authorities, foreign media and the host country. The best compliment to an Indian Infantry battalion was by Gen Van Kappen, Security Advisor to the UN Secretary General when he said “I wish all six battalions in Angola could be from India”.
46. The price of peace keeping has at times been high. Notwithstanding the Armed Forces commitments at home, India should be prepared to shoulder its responsibilities under the BLUE FLAG, keeping our strategic interests in mind.

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