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New doctrine for warfare

New Delhi, Jan. 13: The army is preparing for larger deployments in counter-insurgency operations.

The army headquarters has now adopted a theoretical doctrine in preparation of such deployments. The first operations after the adoption of the doctrine are currently on in Assam and the man in charge is the officer who has given the document its final shape — Lt Gen. K.S. Jamwal, currently the eastern army commander headquartered at Fort William in Calcutta.

The Doctrine for Sub- Conventional Operations — an outcome of an exercise initiated by army chief Gen. Joginder Jaswant Singh when he headed the Army Training Command in Shimla — lays down the do’s and don’ts in counter-insurgency operations and a tool to guide field commanders.

The exercise was completed and the doctrine promulgated by Gen. Jamwal who was the chief of Army Training Command before moving to Fort William.

“This document encapsulates our collective wisdom and philosophy that we have acquired over almost five decades in fighting such warfare,” Gen. Singh writes in the preface.

He said here yesterday that militaries of other countries were tapping into the Indian army’s experience in counter-insurgency operations. In the last four years, counter-insurgency units of the Indian army have been training jointly in exercises with US forces that are currently operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The doctrine is an unclassified document and was made public last evening. Gen. Singh writes that sub-conventional wars are fought “in the lower end of the ‘spectrum of conflict’ and entail application of combat power to enhance ‘civil control’ rather than cause ‘destruction’, which generally is the motive of conventional warfare.”

Applied to Assam, this would mean that the army’s objective is to wreck Ulfa’s damage potential to the point that its leadership is forced to the negotiating table. But political compulsions have in the past led the army to change course in the middle of an operation. Gen. Singh writes that the army’s policy in counter-insurgency is “iron fist with velvet glove”. Use of overwhelming force should be reserved for foreign terrorists operating in India.

“Sub-conventional operations are likely to remain a major responsibility for the army in the foreseeable future,” he added.

The doctrine asks for troops to give enough space for militants to surrender. One of the objectives of military operations should be to tire insurgents.

“The endeavour should be to bring about a realisation that fighting the government is a no-win situation and that their anti-government stance will delay restoration of peace and normalcy”.

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