Letter from the Editor | March 2019

For years to come, February 2019 would be remembered as the bloodiest month in the Indian sub-continent in recent years; a month of several firsts, it changed the political and military dynamics in our region.

It started with the suicide attack by a Kashmir man on the Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) convoy, moving its way up from Jammu to Srinagar. The car full of IED hit one of the buses in the convoy obliterating it completely, along with 40-odd CRPF men. While Kashmir had seen sporadic fidayeen attacks in the late Nineties and the early years of this century, those were mainly fight-to-finish kind of attacks in which the terrorist engaged the forces till he died. A suicide car bomb attack is a first in the Valley and portends a new, dangerous low in the nearly three-decade-old insurgency.

Another first was government of India’s response. Buoyed by the ‘political’ success of the 2016 ‘surgical strikes’ that followed the attack on the army unit in Uri, the government of India was tempted to do something even more dramatic. Having exhausted the drama value of the army, this time it turned to the Indian Air Force. On February 26, the IAF fighters struck deep inside Pakistan, hitting Jaish-e-Mohammed’s seminary and terrorist training camp in Balakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. Pakistan Air Force struck back the following morning in broad daylight. While both sides claimed to have succeeded in delivering their messages to each other, on Indian side, the use of air force has not only taken the surprise out of air power, it has to some extent exposed its limitations too. Moreover, violence in the Valley continues unabated, more security personnel, both of the CRPF and the army, have died since the February 14 attack. Clearly, neither Pakistan has got the message India was trying to send nor militancy in the Valley has been subdued.

The FORCE cover story looks at the larger picture following the Indian air strike and how it will cause us more grief in the months to come.

The other major section is devoted to the show report on Aero India, which was also marked by a few firsts — a tragic air accident before the show that claimed the life of one fighter pilot and the blazing fire on the second last day of the show. Tragedy aside, the low-key show saw several memorandums of understanding being signed and the kicking-off of the IAF fighter procurement programme. The Aero India report brings both the news and the sidelights of the show.

Here’s hoping for good sense and good times ahead.


Call us