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Juliee Sharma asked: What is India's policy and strategy to tackle the threat posed by Improvised Explosive Devices?

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  • Ali Ahmed replies: Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) pose a threat of two kinds: first is from terrorism targeting population, and second is IEDs aimed at causing casualties among soldiers. The two forms of IED employment by terrorists/insurgents require distinct and overlapping measures. India’s policy to tackle the threat posed by IEDs aims, firstly, at prevention. This at the political level involves mitigation of persisting conflict situations. This has both internal political and diplomatic dimensions. At the strategic level, it implies intelligence and public information. Next, since IEDs are employed in proxy war, increase in their use would imply escalation in the level of confrontation. This can be deterred through diplomatic and conventional means. At the tactical level, it means taking due precaution such as surveillance through electronic means and keeping tabs on explosive material from falling into wrong hands.

    The second element of policy is defensive. These include proper sanitisation of areas under threat through, for instance, road opening drills in counter insurgency areas, and appropriate reaction by quick reaction teams. An example at this level is the periodic IED information bulletin document in Northern Command for speedy dissemination of ‘lessons learnt.’ Third are mitigation measures to reduce casualties by timely evacuation, collecting evidence for follow up and prosecution, etc. Lastly, offensive actions to trace and destroy IED making factories, busting terror cells, etc., may be employed. These could be both military and intelligence operations.

    As far as the strategy against IEDs goes, it is situation specific and guided by the overall policy and counter terror/insurgency doctrine. Since conflict theatres in which IEDs are employed have their unique context and intricacies, strategy is dynamically individuated. There is cross learning from experiences elsewhere, including from abroad. The manner the latter is done is through appropriate doctrine, sensitisation and training.