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Vipin asked: What steps/policies need to be put in place for a better civil-military synergy in a low intensity conflict environment in India?

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  • Vivek Chadha replies: The civil-military relations are a challenge in most countries even during routine peace time activity. Given the peculiarities of low intensity conflict operations, it tends to get more tenuous. This happens due to certain distinct conditions under which such operations are conducted. In the Indian context, in most cases central armed forces are deployed for bringing violence under control. This has been witnessed in almost all the states of Northeast India where insurgency has threatened the region and in J&K. It is the failure of state governments, which results in the calling out of central forces, both Central Armed Police Organisations (CAPOs) and the army. However, despite this reality, local resentment, both real and artificially galvanized by insurgent groups, builds against this deployment over a period of time. This has been witnessed in J&K, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland amongst other regions. Given the need to appeal to this popular sentiment for political reasons, state level political parties oppose deployment of forces, question their method of operations and exploit rare cases of violations and mistakes.

    Another dimension is the command and control aspect of this force. The fundamental requirement for success in any insurgency is to ensure cohesiveness and seamless coordination of security forces. However, at times this is adversely impacted by competing interests of local police, which operates under the state and the central forces deployed in the region. Orders and decisions, which should ideally be taken as a cohesive group, tend to get influenced by local politics. This has been witnessed in relation to the AFSPA debate in J&K, where the local political views and the recommendations of the army are contradictory leading to strained relations.

    These differences can only be resolved through a united political will to fight the common adversary that the country faces, which is the insurgents and external inimical powers. Also, a strong and unbiased unified command structure is needed where decisions are based on objective assessment of threats rather than political expediency. Lastly, police and central forces need to rise above service and force specific interests. This can be achieved through mature and high calibre leadership in areas affected by low intensity conflicts