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Army on Mission WHAM

New Delhi, Nov. 24: Army troops engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast are on missions to WHAM the people. WHAM is not an onomatopoeic word implying violence of any kind but an acronym in the just-released army doctrine that stands for 'Winning the Hearts and Minds' of people.

WHAM, despite the opinions of large sections of an aggrieved population in such places as Manipur and the Valley, is also what the army is seeking to win popular approval for counter-insurgency operations, the doctrine says.

The doctrine is a document circulated by the army headquarters that, army chief General N.C. Vij writes in the foreword, 'provides the focus for constructive debate within well-informed and professional circles and acts as a guide to the younger generation'. The first part of the doctrine is a public document and the classified adjunct to it is confidential. The doctrine has been drafted by the Army Training Command, Shimla.

The public document covers the spectrum of conflict that the army should be prepared to be engaged in. In particular, it dwells at length on low intensity conflict operations (Lico) that include counter-insurgency and small-armed confrontations on the borders.

WHAM should be an essential part of strategy in Lico, the doctrine says. It also calls upon military commanders at the field in Kashmir and the Northeast to develop capability to operate without clear-cut instructions. 'As distinct from conventional war, clear-cut directions in a Lico scenario may not always be available. Military commanders must, therefore, possess a high degree of tolerance for operating effectively in an environment of ambiguity.'

The doctrine envisages the possible use of special forces in 'seek-and-destroy, including trans-border, operations' during counter-insurgency moves. The political objective of Lico, the army assesses, will be 'conflict management' rather than 'conflict resolution' and, therefore, the army will carry out 'low-profile' and 'people-friendly' operations.

In a graphic detailing the spectrum of peace, conflict and war, it says there can be 15 types of situations: nuclear war, conventional war, global war, total war, regional war, limited war, operations other than war, sub-conventional war, civil/revolutionary war, Lico/proxy war, insurgency, no-war-no-peace and non-combat operations.

Keeping the spectrum of conflict in mind, the army doctrine has been formulated because a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) has 'necessitated a transformation in strategic thinking along with a paradigm shift in organisation and conduct of operations', General Vij writes. 'As a consequence, military doctrines, weapon systems and force structures need to undergo a review.'

At the core of the RMA, says the doctrine, is network-centric command, control, intelligence and surveillance that has shortened the duration of wars while increasing their intensity. It is important for the Indian military to acquire such capabilities that will make conduct of information warfare, special operations and joint operations possible.

Such capability will determine outcomes of future wars. The doctrine says the army, navy and the air force need to develop greater communication and command. 'Joint operations are the most essential requirement of future wars and have to focus on the seamless application of available resources to shock, dislocate and overwhelm the enemy. This necessitates an intimate understanding of the capabilities and limitations of each service by the other two,' the doctrine says.

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