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Indian Army: Evolving to Adapt Military Change in CI Operations

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  • May 09, 2014
    Fellows' Seminar

    Chair: Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal (Retd.)
    External Discussants: Lt Gen D S Hooda and Maj Gen Umong Sethi (Retd)
    Internal Discussants: Gp. Capt. Naval Jgota and Col. Vijai Singh Rana

    While presenting the paper the author at the outset made it clear that this paper is part of a project that seeks to explain how the Indian army adapts to change in different arenas. The focus of this paper is to understand military change in the context of Counterinsurgency (CI) operations. The paper argues that military change in conventional wars is brought about when armies adopt an approach which is often revolutionary, driven by cutting edge technology. Its implementation is directed from the highest level, making it essentially top-down. In contrast, in CI operations, this process is evolutionary, with limited influence of technology. More often than not this is based on bottom-up adaptation, even if in some cases it manifests in top-down implementation.

    The paper argues that change is resisted in every organization, particularly bureaucratic organizations. Moreover, the nature of resistance is almost similar. It stands true for the military set up also. However, the Indian army is faced with a paradoxical situation of resistance to change and the utmost need thereof. In this struggle of the opposites, the later seems to be guiding the army at present and counterinsurgency (CI) operations are a clear manifestation of army’s willingness to change.

    Major Points of Discussion and Suggestions to the Author:

    • It was pointed out by many discussants that LC fence was part of the wider goal of border management and checking counterinsurgency (CI) was just one part of it.
    • India’s counterinsurgency (CI) Ops model is its own derived out of its unique circumstances.
    • It was shared by many discussants that stress management is quite good in the counterinsurgency (CI) Ops areas. Given the size of armed forces personnel presence in the troubled areas, no. of untoward incidents like fratricidal killings and suicides etc. are not very alarming.
    • It was argued that there is no tactical level in the counterinsurgency (CI) operations. Every act has got strategic implications. For example, even one civilian casualty could turn out to be a huge embarrassment for the govt. at the highest level and may bring the army’s action under serious scrutiny.
    • It was pointed out that the North East template was applied in the case of CI operations in J&K. However, it was realized later that the modus operandi of the insurgent outfits was different in J&K from North East. The army had to adjust its counterinsurgency strategy accordingly.
    • The Indian Military Academy devotes the entire third year to CI and therefore the army has good no. of trained officers at lower level to deal with counterinsurgency operations.
    • It was argued that since insurgency is rebellion against the state and its policies; a counter to it cannot be a wholly militaristic approach. It must be a holistic approach.
    • CI is manpower intensive job and hence human resource management should be the focus along with technological innovation.
    • The author was suggested to analyze the role of failures in military operations as one of the important drivers for change; since lessons learnt could also be important drivers for change as is evident in the new US CI doctrine which is based on its experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    • The author was advised to explore the role of Special Forces in CI Ops. The role of US.S Special Forces in similar operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has demonstrated the effectiveness of such forces.
    • The paper discusses change primarily in military context, whereas CI operates in politico-military environment.
    • The role of intelligence is very important in CI Ops and hence the paper must come out with recommendations to improve our intelligence mechanism.
    • Cultural factor is an important element of CI Ops. A thorough understanding of the local populace is important for the conduct of a successful operation.
    • The role of neighboring countries in CI must be explored. Though, soliciting their support should be primarily a diplomatic endeavor, the scope for military to military cooperation can also be explored simultaneously and the paper should suggest ways and means to do this.

    Report prepared by Amit Kumar, Research Assistant, IDSA