Saturday, June 5, 2010

Finding the Naxals’ Achilles heel

Well-executed strategic principles can nullify tactical and logistical advantages that the extremists have achieved argues Raghu Raman in "Finding the Naxals’ Achilles heel" (Mint, June 3, 2010).

Excerpts from the article:
The dice seems to have been loaded in favour of the guerrillas. Since they can choose any target, the guerrillas can leverage economy of effort, surprise and shock action. The small size and mobility of their cadres allow greater flexibility and ability to concentrate and then disperse hundreds of fighters to overwhelm security forces. And since the attacks are hit-and-run in style, the guerrillas can sustain operations with lower resource drain and retain the initiative by striking at different locations according to their own timetable.
The nation needs to realize that there is no quick-fix remedy, and maintaining relentless momentum across both the military thrust and dialogue channel is the only way forward. By its very nature, the former is highly visible, while the latter is and should remain discreet until some concrete rapprochement is achieved. 
Every soldier who has been in combat will testify to the “fog of war” where judgements are in error and mistakes are made. And those mistakes come in body bags. Becoming hysterical at each setback doesn’t help the morale of forces which have to go back and confront the guerrillas. It also shakes their confidence in the nation’s support to them. Endless critique of poor training and equipment only builds the guerrilla into a larger-than-life figure. This is where maintenance of morale comes in. The security forces have a tough job on their hands. The last thing they need is ambivalence of purpose or a “patrol by patrol” dissection by armchair experts.
Will our media & politicians do the right thing?

Even as there is a debate going on about which strategy to pursue - development or aggressive security operation, there comes news which says that "Naxal-hit districts perform well in rural job scheme" (Mint, June 2, 2010). 

While this is happy news, there are some who question the credibility of the numbers.  Mint reports that S.L. Rao, former director general of the National Council of Applied Economic Research has questioned that if there is a problem in implementation in safe areas, then it’s difficult to believe the implementation is as good in troubled, tribal areas.

The security forces need to pursue the terrorists and their sympathisers relentlessly.  The government's administrative machinery should pursue their development agenda relentlessly.  The faster both are done, it is better.  Otherwise, we are in for serious trouble.  With threat from terrorists across the border (both Pak & Bangladesh), continuous infiltration from Bangladesh resulting in changing demographics in border areas, menacing China breathing down the neck on Arunachal, the naxal threat in more than 90 districts across various States... we are in for serious trouble.  If the response of India, Indian politicians and Indian media in the past is any indication, then our future appears bleak.