Kathua Terror Attack: A Reminder to Activate Triple Hammer-Triple Lock Strategy

It is time for India to change its strategy to deal with the continuing terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir where Indian soldiers are sacrificing their lives for the nation. Enough is enough. There is a need to introspect force level, tactics, and intelligence network and adopt a proactive and aggressive approach not only to dominate but to hunt the terrorists down. The perpetrator of terror - Pakistan - must be dealt with the ‘Triple Hammer and Triple Lock’ strategy. The battle must be taken to the enemy territory

By Lt Gen Ashok Bhim Shivane

Opinion

 

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”  ― Elmer Davis

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Being a soldier seen many comrades fall and having a brother attained Veergati at 20, blood boils, heart bleeds and head questions. The question I keep asking myself is how long and how many more? I hate to see the life of a soldier taken lightly and celebrations/accolades for fancy events taking precedence. Each has its place but when a soldier sacrifices his/her life for the nation, does the nation care or mourn or give it the due respect? Does the media focus on sacrifice away from the sensational TRP coverage? The answers lie within each one of us – no judgment.

The terrorist attack on July 8 was a continuum in the Jammu sector escalation in recent times. I wrote a piece after the Reasi attack. The villains remained the same – reportedly Pakistani terrorists, soft target ambush, detailed recce, use of sophisticated weapons like M4 Carbine and grenades, and assistance of locals. It is time to introspect and change the strategy to ‘Strike by Hammer’ rather than ‘Bleed by Thousand Cuts’. Enough is enough. The battle must be taken to the enemy territory.

The Target

The terrorists are executers – some mercenaries, some blinded by satanic toxic ideology. The perpetrators of terror are Pakistan alias Terroristan and the epidemic ideology of Islamist fundamentalism, which has spread far and wide globally, including within India. Terroristan must be addressed by the ‘Triple Hammer and Triple Lock’ strategy. The ideology of terrorism must be equally addressed, which is not being touched on in this piece. Internally those who support or turn a blind eye are also terrorists. No compulsions or pressures justify their action, which has resulted in the loss of soldiers’ lives. Enough of winning hearts and minds with ‘Sadhbhawna’ like projects where such ground support exists.

The first hammer must be punitive cross-border strikes by precision weapons on anti-terror targets. Balakot 2.0. Be prepared for the response and levels of escalation with control in one’s hand. Risk has to be taken and it’s not danger. It’s an era of long-range precision warfare with adequate vectors available. Shallow targets like launch pads can be tackled by tactical proactive actions too. It’s called mowing the lawn periodically by Israel

Tactical Response – Hunt Them Down

The need is to introspect force level, tactics, and intelligence network and adopt a proactive and aggressive approach not only to dominate but to hunt the terrorists down. It must be professional without political musings or hyper-nationalism like in the past. This is no simple task or a quick fix having served in such an environment. A message of ‘being hunted’ is essential for the terrorists to put them on the back foot. Results will follow. Being proactive does not mean acting after an incident but pre-emptive aggression to foreclose any such evil plans and prevent space for evil to exist. Simultaneously, accountability must be established at all levels once lapses are found. The troops should be given a free hand for action and supported wholeheartedly even if they make two mistakes out of ten successes. This is counter-terrorism, not a black-and-white conventional war. The nation must support the troops and their action for the safety and security of the country.

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Operational Strategy – Triple Hammer

The triple hammer strategy is based on – “HIT THEM HARD, HIT THEM WHERE IT HURTS, AND HURT THEM WHERE IT LASTS”. This requires both covert and overt action. Let the globe say anything. Every self-respecting nation threatened by terrorism has done it.

The first hammer must be punitive cross-border strikes by precision weapons on anti-terror targets. Balakot 2.0. Be prepared for the response and levels of escalation with control in one’s hand. Risk has to be taken and it’s not danger. It’s an era of long-range precision warfare with adequate vectors available. Shallow targets like launch pads can be tackled by tactical proactive actions too. It’s called mowing the lawn periodically by Israel.

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Pakistan must be exposed and isolated at the global level as the fountainhead of terrorism. Geopolitics aside, a rogue nation with credentials of nuclear proliferation, toxic Islamist ideology and a history of coups cannot demand respect. Democracy is a falsehood there with the army and Islamist clergy calling the shots. The global powers must wake up and realise they could be the next target if not already facing it. Pakistan needs a global diplomatic closure

The second hammer must be Terroristan’s Western Front on fire by TTP and Taliban who are increasingly gaining ascendancy. The aim is not to overtly side with them but to keep that front active and flaming. Our Afghanistan policy of mutual respect, economic aid and tackling common threats must be fine-tuned. We need greater cohesion.

The third hammer is the internal dimension of Terroristan, which is already on the boil in the cauldron. It creates space to target those who plan, ferment and breed terrorists to taste their own medicine and be hunted till they cease to exist. We need not dirty our hands but support the cause of the suppressed and oppressed.

Strategic Level – The Triple Lock

At the strategic level, a whole-nation approach needs to be adopted to tackle this menace diplomatically, economically and militarily.

The first lock is the diplomatic lock. Pakistan must be exposed and isolated at the global level as the fountainhead of global terrorism. Geopolitics aside, a rogue nation with credentials of nuclear proliferation, toxic Islamist ideology and a history of coups cannot demand respect. Democracy is a falsehood there with the army and Islamist clergy calling the shots. The global powers need to wake up and realise they could be the next target if not already facing it. Pakistan needs a global diplomatic closure.

The second lock must be to economically choke it till its terror funding drains off and is exposed. The aim is not to make the people of Pakistan suffer but for them to realise and take action for true democracy and growth to take place without the terror shadow. Sanctions and preventing external funding by exposing their money laundering for terror must find focus. FATF needs to be reviewed and Pakistan brought under black list.

India must empower the military and intelligence agencies to upgrade capabilities and synergise efforts to militarily lock Pakistan. Defence budgeting, reforms and policies must be driven by operational need not political musings to empower the warfighters. The kinetic energy of the military must be matched with the socio-political potential energy of the government to bring peace and prosperity to the people

The third lock must be military. The nation must empower the military and intelligence agencies to not only upgrade capabilities but seamlessly synergise efforts to militarily lock Pakistan. Defence budgeting, reforms and policies must be driven by operational need not political musings to empower the warfighters. Yet while the military can bring down terrorists, terrorism requires a social-political solution and internal dynamics. The kinetic energy of the military must be matched with the socio-political potential energy of the government to bring peace and prosperity to the people.

To conclude, a nation when hit must hit back but a wise nation does not allow space to be hit. This requires a shift in tactical, operational and strategic level strategy. In the end, I salute our fallen Bravehearts and their Veer families; no words or actions can sufficiently describe their grief and lifetime loss.

Jai Hind!

-The author is a PVSM, AVSM, VSM has had an illustrious career spanning nearly four decades. A distinguished Armoured Corps officer, he has served in various prestigious staff and command appointments including Commander Independent Armoured Brigade, ADG PP, GOC Armoured Division and GOC Strike 1. The officer retired as DG Mechanised Forces in December 2017 during which he was the architect to initiate process for reintroduction of Light Tank and Chairman on the study on C5ISR for Indian Army. Subsequently he was Consultant MoD/OFB from 2018 to 2020. The Officer is a reputed defence analyst, a motivational speaker and prolific writer on matters of military, defence technology and national security.The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily carry the views of Raksha Anirveda