There is a need to explore more unmanned counter IED technologies
 
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India’s IED Problem

There is a need to explore more unmanned counter IED technologies

Aditya Kakkar
 

In 2016, India had the maximum number of bomb blasts in the world, even more than Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC), in 2016, India witnessed 406 blasts out of which 337 were Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) blasts. These blasts primarily happened in areas affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE).

In its annual report (2016-17), ministry of home affairs (MHA), mentions that the number of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel who laid down their lives in action during April 2016 to December 2016 was 30. The greatest threat that the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) face in LWE areas is from IEDs. Primarily, IEDs have been used in areas affected by LWE but recently, Indian security forces detected and diffused an IED in the Kashmir Valley as well.

It is frightening to note that the Kashmir insurgency, which has been going on for decades, has also taken to the use of IEDs to attack CAPFs, similar to the Maoist insurgents. In December 2016, the CRPF had to send a team of its counter-IED experts to train and sensitise its troops, along with the troops of the Border Security Force (BSF), Jammu and Kashmir Police and others against such blasts. “This is for the first time. There have been IED attacks against security forces and their convoys in the past but using the command-wire technique was unheard and unseen here. This technique till now has been used by Naxals to target security forces in the LWE affected areas,” said the then CRPF Director General K Durga Prasad.

India, clearly, has an IED problem.

India has understood the IED conundrum and tried to break out of it by establishing the Institute of IED Management in Pune, Maharashtra. It is a counter IED training institute of the CRPF, created to train the CAPFs and to pass on knowledge related to detection and diffusion of IEDs so as to contain personnel and property damage. It is imperative that India seeks to protect its interests in a rapidly changing geo-political world. Our economic ascendency would have no meaning without substantial security underpinnings.

Both mines and IEDs have become a matter of concern for the CAPFs as they aid the insurgents in asymmetric and guerilla warfare. A whole range of sensory equipment is needed to counter this menace. They must be countered through the twin means of technology and training. The initial technique used by the CRPF was to use Mine Protected Vehicles (MPVs) but the Maoist insurgents found a way to get around it. They would use TNT ranging from 40-100 kg and try to topple the vehicles. This toppling of vehicles leads to casualties as it leads to severe injuries. Lessons can be drawn from the new generation Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles which have been used by both the US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. An MRAP vehicle has suspended seats with adequate safeguards to protect troops from shockwaves. Such vehicles are designed to have V shaped underbellies to deflect blasts outwards.

It is also disheartening to note that our forces still use extremely dated tools to detect and diffuse both surface and embedded mines. The need of the hour is to acquire high-end deep search metal detectors and explosive vapour detectors. The former senses the presence of metal beneath the ground while the latter detects the vapour emanating from explosives used in IEDs. It is imperative that the CAPFs, especially the CRPF, improve their technological prowess to effectively do their road opening duties.

Indias IED Problem

 
 
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