Force Magazine

Calculated Move

The army will now focus on stopping infiltrators at the LC itself

A FORCE Report

There has been an operational shift of the army in the Kashmir valley – from the hinterland to the Line of Control (LC). According to GOC 15 corps, Lt Gen. Subrata Saha, the army’s focus will now be on the LC than the hinterland. This is in consonance with the changed thinking that terrorists coming across the LC should be eliminated at the military line itself than allowed to venture deep inside where possibility of their merger with the population becomes more. What Gen. Saha did not say is that this change has perhaps been influenced by the political requirement of fewer army boots in the hinterland to support (the myth of) return of peace in the Valley.

GOC 15 Corps Lt Gen. Subrata Saha
GOC 15 Corps Lt Gen. Subrata Saha

While strengthening counter-infiltration operations, the army will do fewer counter-insurgency (CI) operations based on real-time information. However, intelligence grids which assist in CI ops would remain intact, since, according to Gen. Saha “the hinterland remains the centre of gravity of CI ops. A terrorist attack in the hinterland has a major psychological impact”, he added.

Meeting with the FORCE team in his office in middle July on having completed one year in office, the corps commander explained that the army had move a big portion of its Rashtriya Rifle (RR) forces from the hinterland to the LC and the fence (Anti-Infiltration Obstacle System), which has been a decade in existence, is being strengthened. “We have decided to upgrade the fence after 10 years. The obstacle and the surveillance elements of the fence which were separate would now be co-located. The surveillance equipment is also being upgraded to make it capable of day and night operations as well as rain and fog resistant,” said the corps commander.

Thus, there are three elements of the altered strategy — the fence, more troops on the LC, and real-time information — which need explaining. The fence, which according to the army has been a game-changer, had a few shortcomings observed over years. During winter months, at the higher reaches where snow during winters is 25 to 30 feet, the fence got buried, broken and even washed away. Having studied the effect of various terrains, the army is putting in material changes to ensure fence longevity. For instance, Gen. Saha said, “we found that thinner wires have more tenacity to withstand snow onslaught.” Moreover, wooden spikes (called Punji in jungle warfare) serve well as an added obstacle ahead of fence.

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