CT & COIN Operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Carl_T » 21 Apr 2010 01:57

Combat controllers, with fighter jets above carrying laser guided bombs. Reduces collateral damage as there are people on the ground pinpointing strikes.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Prem Kumar » 21 Apr 2010 03:26

Or even helicopter gunships. Even if there are non-combatants nearby, they are already getting out of the cross-fire anyway.

My view (as stated in the Red Menace thread) is that air-power can be very effective if used like a scalpel. We cannot have visceral "collateral damage" reactions whenever the word air-power is mentioned.

There are an estimated 15000 - 20000 armed Maoists. How in the world are we going to eliminate them - at the current rate of 200 a year (with more than 200+ security force losses yearly). Granted we dont have to kill all 15000 - but even eliminating the top tier and some of the middle tier implies we are talking about several hundreds.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Viv S » 21 Apr 2010 07:42

Open up the skies

Increasing fire power alone, however, is not a fool-proof arrangement when the enemy is well-entrenched, is more in number and has a better control of the ground, and reinforcements are an impossibility. The US Marines or the British Royal Marines, consisting some of the best-trained and best-equipped combat troops in the world, depend on air support to break out of ambushes and attacks. There is no alternative to quick air-support. It is perfectly within the scope of the existing Indian laws for the police officers on the ground to request support from the air force when they are overwhelmed by armed enemies. This is not an issue of law, but of executive policy. Any collateral damage will be minimal and should be acceptable. Once a decision is made, the necessary standard operative procedures (SOPs) will have to be prepared to expedite processing the request for aid.


The Indian Air Force has the capability to support ground troops and to neutralise armed enemies. Necessary resources, logistics and SOPs have to be put in place so that the air force can engage the enemy within 15 minutes of commencement of fire. Our ground troops should carry better weapons and satellite phones and global positioning systems to request air support. This is, of course, not to say that troops should not take the usual precautions not to walk into an ambush.


In April 2009, the Maoists attacked a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) post on Damanjodi Hill in Koraput district,
Orissa. The brave soldiers fought for eight hours without support and did not allow the post to be overrun. Thirty minutes after the firing started, I led a team of commandos to try and reach the post that was 21 kilometres away to support the jawans. The cross-country climb took six hours. By the time support reached nine lives had been lost. Can India dreaming of becoming a world power in the 21st century not have found the resources to provide air support, at least with some light and sound to confuse the enemy? I can never forget the sense of helplessness, agony and frustration that I felt that night while leading the men on the battleground. And still, at least one news portal blamed us, alleging that “the local police had allowed the men to die”.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Prabu » 21 Apr 2010 14:18

[quote="Viv S"]Open up the skies

[quote]

Very well written article. What we need is the Ariel survelaance (UAV's , Bullet proof Helicopter Gunships what ever it takes) and deployment of Rapid Air support, and improve fire power of our CRPF teams, with drastic improvement of cordination and communication. At the outset, the retaliation should be over whelming and create the fear among the Naxal groups, indulging in attacks and ambushes. Next stage is Plana and Ambush the Naxals instead of simply countering the Ambushes and firing in return. We need a Pro active approach. Remember the initial failures of Sri lankan Army(SLA) against LTTE and sudden shift of SLA after getting trained on strategies with our Air force senior commanders ? Then there was no looking back for General Sarath Fonsega and his men! The rest was a history ! ( Earlier they were loosing to LTTE, due to the defencive approcah which made them to fail miserably ! When they started chasing the LTTE and started attacking them, it was a Game changer !)
We need tio strengthen CRPF with some selective Army and Air force men/cammanders. If required do it silently, with CRPF/other uniforms etc ! :wink:

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby ASPuar » 21 Apr 2010 15:10

I am at a loss to understand, then, how operations against militants in Punjab, J&K, NorthEast, ULFA etc were and are conducted without the use of air power.

Air power is not the panacea for all things CI related (though it may sound like a quick fix, especially in the light of recent failures). Perhaps if the police would make use of better CIJW tactics, they would save precious lives, and materiel, which is something they owe to their men anyway.

Indeed, this article, while emotionally appealing, displays only a rudimentary knowledge of airpower and even CT operations.

He starts off correctly, stating the obvious:

Escaping a well-laid and well-executed ambush is difficult for troops in any combat situation irrespective of their level of training. All tactical commanders, therefore, take the usual precautions that are provided in any standard training manual to avoid getting into an ambush


But completely ignores the fact that well trained troops would not utilise a main metalled road in a naxal infested area, would not go to sleep without posting guard, and would not do a dozen other things that the CRPF did in Dantewada, prior to the ambush.

He then quickly spirals into the absurd:

and these are known to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and other paramilitary personnel and combat troops at all levels of the command structure. However, if for some reason precautions are not taken, breaking out is difficult, if not impossible. One has to be simply lucky to survive the attack. The view that the CRPF soldiers were killed because of deficiencies in training is, therefore, simplistic.


I dont see how the view is simplistic. It is simply correct. What is the "some reason" for which "precautions were not taken"? The training is supposed to ensure that these very precautions ARE taken. So the view that the CRPF professionals lacked training is not 'simplistic', it is just the 'simple' answer to a 'simple' question.

Alas, the rest of Mr Sarangi's article is also full of bizarre statements.

Sample, if you will, the following passage. He describes the reactions of an ill-trained force, to an ambush situation.

But if commandos or medium teams of other combat troops enter into an ambush during an intelligence-led operation or a routine area patrolling, the fire power required to give the troops a fighting chance needs to be very high. Firing from small arms like AK-47s and Insas rifles at an invisible enemy will only mean losing ammunition, contributing to more panic and finally getting completely overwhelmed.


If the CPO personnel have managed to get themselves into a situation where they are already trapped in an ambush, having an aircraft unload a lot of firepower is not the cure! Who will direct the firepower, if the jawans are already in such a situation where they dont know who and what is shooting at them, and where from? The answer is to train them, so that they dont fall into such traps in the first place!

Mr Sarangi also downplays (but note, is not unaware of) the possibility of collateral damage.

There is no alternative to quick air-support. It is perfectly within the scope of the existing Indian laws for the police officers on the ground to request support from the air force when they are overwhelmed by armed enemies. This is not an issue of law, but of executive policy. Any collateral damage will be minimal and should be acceptable. Once a decision is made, the necessary standard operative procedures (SOPs) will have to be prepared to expedite processing the request for aid.


How does he make the assumption that collateral damage will be 'minimal and acceptable'? Does he guarantee this? Can he? The Air Force (who are after all the professionals in this matter) assure us that there is no way to guarantee it, because Air weapons are of an area effect type, and will cause destruction on a large scale. But Mr Sarangi tells us that such damage is 'acceptable' (entirely his opinion, and, not, one which is likely to be shared by an innocent person who may lose his family in an air attack).

Thankfully, in a democracy, it is not Mr Sarangi's call, but that of the elected representatives of the people. And Mr Sarangi should not be publishing articles of this sort, which can slant and affect the debate, by resorting to emotional appeals in the media.

As to the rest of the article, he consistently compares apples to oranges. He speaks about the US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, forgetting that they are not operating on home soil, and air attacks have caused MASSIVE civilian casualties in those countries. He speaks of IPKF ops in Jaffna, forgetting that again, that was not home soil, and that those air support ops were also curtailed because of reports of civvie casualties.

In sum, I would regard this article as little more as a lobbying piece, intended to coerce the opinions of those who dont know much about air ops, into believing that with air power, the troops will always be safe from ambushes, always be able to win the day, etc etc. And ignoring the fact that it is better CI training that will ensure the safety of the men.

There are no quick fix and "get rich quick" schemes in life that ever pan out. The establishment should understand this, and invest in life saving training for our troops on the ground, who are, at present, completely unequipped to deal with what they are fighting!
Last edited by ASPuar on 21 Apr 2010 15:43, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Prabu » 21 Apr 2010 15:28

ASPuar wrote:I am at a loss to understand, then, how operations against militants in Punjab, J&K, NorthEast, ULFA etc were and are conducted without the use of air power.

Air power is not the panacea for all things CI related (though it may sound like a quick fix, especially in the light of recent failures). Perhaps if the police would make use of better CIJW tactics, they would save precious lives, and materiel, which is something they owe to their men anyway.



Aspuar, No offensive meant, though !

Agreed but all said and done, our CRPF men are dying and living in a world of fear & low morale ! Its a hrad fact , whther GOI or any one willing to accept or not. Leave aside Sarangi and his article, Please tell what should we doing to move forward swiftly and dominate the naxals , if we are adamant not to deploy air power, to counter the well Armed, well trained Naxal group?

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby ASPuar » 21 Apr 2010 15:48

Prabu, I completely understand your point of view. Please see my observations on the article. Do they not make sense?

Other forces have fought the naxals with a certain degree of success. It is because of the training which they received. The COAS had mentioned that the SSB, the BSF and the ITBP all put their inducted bns through army CIJW training, and have been putting that training to use. The CRPF inexplicably refused the training for its men. It is criminal! Why send the jawans into a combat situation without first equipping them with the necessary knowledge?

For a start at least, let the men be trained to deal with this type of fighting, so that they do not fall victim to such attacks again. Knee jerk reactions of this sort will not gain us any ground!

"Bring in airpower" is an exercise in missing the point. You can keep bringing in air power, but it will not stop the jawans from falling into traps, if theyre not trained. Already, drones, etc are being deployed. This is good. Aerial surveillance is required, to provide greater intel and I think it will help. But "death from the air" is not a solution to anything.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby atreya » 21 Apr 2010 17:59

When I read the article headline and the sub-headline, my first thought was "not again...". Then, I went to the end of the article to see the credentials of the author.

Sudhanshu Sarangi was the head of counter-insurgency operations and intelligence in Orissa till June 2009


That changed my thoughts. This is was from someone experienced. Keeping that in mind, I read the whole article. But, sadly, it failed to make an impression. The author goes down the well-travelled, rutted pathway of using air power WITHOUT thinking of the potential kickbacks. True, even I think air support is needed. But, as ASPuar points out, some statements are simply bizzare. The comparisons with US Marines is not valid, as they are fighting a war on foregin soil, while we are trying to weed out a huge group of insurgents from areas populated by our own citizens.

It is, however, the last paragraph, which strikes a chord. Sarangi ji, rightly points out to how the media makes judgments and cooks up stories on its own to suit its own needs. It is understable how frustrated and agonised the man must have felt when he tried his level best to save the CISF personnel and still is blamed for letting them die. The media should really rein in its activities and try to report objectively, instead of disrespecting honest men doing their job.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby pmund » 21 Apr 2010 18:06

What good will airpower do in a jungle war??? Have we all forgotten Vietnam?? The USAF's OP Rolling thunder ended in a whimper. American planes dropped 864,000 tonnes of bombs on North Vietnam, day and night-- 300,000 tonnes more than they dropped during the entire Second World War (503,000 tonnes). They could neither cut off Vietcong supply lines, nor wipe out their command centres. A Senate Committee in 1968 called the operation a failure. And here is what an SF officer told the NY Times in Vietnam: "This is a political war and it calls for selective killing. The best weapon... would be a bayonet ... The worst is an airplane."
The saturation bombing of Vietnam jungles did not achieve any strategic objectives. It was effective in a few battles, La Drang, for instance, but the Vietnamese had to pay a very heavy cost in terms of collateral damage and the US in terms of world opinion. They are still branded child killers (remember the napalm girl?). The US were killing Vietnamese. Remember, we will be killing our OWN people -- simple tribal villagers who cannot distinguish friend from foe. When using airpower, you cannot be discreet. Let's not kid ourselves on that. The idea of laser-guided bombs and commandos painting targets is, frankly, ridiculous. What is the target in a jungle? A bamboo shack? How can we distinguish between a group of villagers and tribals? I have seen Maoists. They look no different from any other villager. Can you imagine the aftershock if a 500 pounder lands in a village?
There is no alternative to better trained ground troops in a jungle war. Air force can, at best, be used for surveillance.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Surya » 21 Apr 2010 19:04


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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby ASPuar » 21 Apr 2010 19:20

^^^

:roll: These are the kind of H&D comments which quickly go down the drain once the shooting starts. Speaking of shooting, Maharashtra Police officers of late seem to have developed a habit of shooting off their mouths!

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Carl_T » 21 Apr 2010 20:24

pmund wrote:What good will airpower do in a jungle war??? Have we all forgotten Vietnam?? The USAF's OP Rolling thunder ended in a whimper. American planes dropped 864,000 tonnes of bombs on North Vietnam, day and night-- 300,000 tonnes more than they dropped during the entire Second World War (503,000 tonnes). They could neither cut off Vietcong supply lines, nor wipe out their command centres. A Senate Committee in 1968 called the operation a failure. And here is what an SF officer told the NY Times in Vietnam: "This is a political war and it calls for selective killing. The best weapon... would be a bayonet ... The worst is an airplane."
The saturation bombing of Vietnam jungles did not achieve any strategic objectives. It was effective in a few battles, La Drang, for instance, but the Vietnamese had to pay a very heavy cost in terms of collateral damage and the US in terms of world opinion. They are still branded child killers (remember the napalm girl?). The US were killing Vietnamese. Remember, we will be killing our OWN people -- simple tribal villagers who cannot distinguish friend from foe. When using airpower, you cannot be discreet. Let's not kid ourselves on that. The idea of laser-guided bombs and commandos painting targets is, frankly, ridiculous. What is the target in a jungle? A bamboo shack? How can we distinguish between a group of villagers and tribals? I have seen Maoists. They look no different from any other villager. Can you imagine the aftershock if a 500 pounder lands in a village?
There is no alternative to better trained ground troops in a jungle war. Air force can, at best, be used for surveillance.

I agree. I think we need to create a joint operation using assets from all services, use air power for protecting troops. We should have special forces teams to target Maoist leaders, Light infantry to target larger groups of Maoists, combat controllers to guide laser guided bombs, crpf to patrol areas after we win control, UAVs for surveillance and targeting leaders, engineers to build infrastructure as we move inwards, etc. etc. We shouldn't think of this as solely as the domain of one service or another. Just IMO.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby atreya » 21 Apr 2010 21:15

Surya wrote:Meanwhile

http://news.rediff.com/report/2010/apr/ ... an-nsg.htm


more idiotic comments


:shock:
What next? The beat pandu is police equivalent of Para Commandos? Seriously, there is absolutely NO need for such comments. Media and public will be satisfied if they are just told that there is a "force of crack commandos, well trained in urban warfare, always ready to tackle any threat". Th general public doesn't give a dime to who is being called commando. The media has this habit of labeling every other force as "elite" and every other policemen as "commando". Add to that, such stupid comments!

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Prasad » 21 Apr 2010 21:45

Use of air support in uninhabited areas might be looked into. A strict regulation of area of operation can lead to a lot of help for the ground forces, be it in the form of evac or active fire support. I'd like to see medivac first though, they lack even that! I don't see why using it in uninhabited areas is a problem. We know where villages and settlements are in the jungles to a great extent. This can help us decide on usage and rules of engagement while employing fire support. I know things aren't quite hard and fast on the ground when under fire but surely we can employ them for some help instead of having another team trek miles together in the jungle to provide reinforcements. Or even use helis like an airborne brigade and use them for transport for quick movement !

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby pmund » 21 Apr 2010 22:15

There are no 'uninhabited areas' in forests in Jharkhand, Bengal, Chhatisgarh and Orissa.This is not the Amazon jungle. There is so much population pressure that forests are dwindling. Medevac does happen in anti-Maoist operations (usually BSF choppers are used), but don't get carried away by hollywood scenes of guys screaming for medevac and being lifted from the middle of a firefight. That's not going to happen. The paramilitary does not have rescue specialists and neither can choppers land just about anywhere. The governments are now in the process of making makeshift helipads in Maoist-hit areas but injured jawans still have to be stretchered there from the encounter zone.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Viv S » 21 Apr 2010 22:20

ASPuar wrote:I am at a loss to understand, then, how operations against militants in Punjab, J&K, NorthEast, ULFA etc were and are conducted without the use of air power.


I don't think those scenarios can be directly compared. NE and J&K are the army's responsibility and the army's advantages in terms of training, morale, equipment, manpower and operational freedom(AFSPA) are very stark. Punjab was more of an urban area... well not urban, but you probably get what I mean.

Air power is not the panacea for all things CI related (though it may sound like a quick fix, especially in the light of recent failures). Perhaps if the police would make use of better CIJW tactics, they would save precious lives, and materiel, which is something they owe to their men anyway.


I have mixed feelings about it. One one hand, you have Maoists attacking in massive numbers and very often outnumber the security forces in encounters. The sheer audacity of it, makes me think they're begging for the state to commit helicopter gunships. Then on the other hand, there is fact that AP state police's Greyhounds could hammer the Maoists without gunships or other heavy weapons proves that the Maoists aren't as quite as menacing as one might be led to believe.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Prasad » 21 Apr 2010 22:20

Of course. You can't land right in the middle of the jungle during a firefight and evacuate injured soldiers. That is of course hollywood style. But reinforcements can be rushed isn't it? Medical teams can be rushed or injured soldiers can be rushed to the hospitals in the nearest big town from wherever possible and cut down on time to hospital. We know of IA soldiers bleeding to death due to too much time taken to get them to hospital. The whole blood clot initiative that was taken at brf was partly due to that. We can use them as much as possible to make things easier, is what i'm getting at.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby vasu_ray » 21 Apr 2010 22:31

if you have seen M*A*S*H they show medevac with 'glass' covered stretchers attached to the landing gear on a cheetah class of helicopter

today instead of landing at an emergency site, the helis could hover at a reasonable height dropping the stretchers to the ground and when evacuees are put on them, the stretchers can be winched back to the landing gear level, it takes minimal engineering

the stretchers can have attached oxygen supply and other first aid kits

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Prem Kumar » 21 Apr 2010 23:30

pmund wrote:There are no 'uninhabited areas' in forests in Jharkhand, Bengal, Chhatisgarh and Orissa.This is not the Amazon jungle. There is so much population pressure that forests are dwindling. Medevac does happen in anti-Maoist operations (usually BSF choppers are used), but don't get carried away by hollywood scenes of guys screaming for medevac and being lifted from the middle of a firefight. That's not going to happen. The paramilitary does not have rescue specialists and neither can choppers land just about anywhere. The governments are now in the process of making makeshift helipads in Maoist-hit areas but injured jawans still have to be stretchered there from the encounter zone.


pmund: I'd disagree with you on this. In the recent Dantewada incident, we lost 76 CRPF men. The Maoists lost 8. # of civilian casualties reported was 0. *If* we had an advance UAV scout (or even a human scout for that matter), which detected the ambush preparations, we could have called for air power in the form of a helicopter gunship to counter ambush. I doubt if there would have been any collateral casualties because the killing fields did seem uninhabited. So, why would we *not* use air-power here?

I dont know how much air-power would have helped after the ambush began, given the chaos that would have prevailed & the inexperience of CRPF in co-ordinating a simultaneous air & ground counter-attack. But given that the firefight lasted for 3 hours, I feel that even here, we could have minimized casualties and killed or scared away the Maoists with air-support. More lives saved & no arms looted. Needless to say, this will involve a lot of co-ordination and joint drills.

pmund wrote:Remember, we will be killing our OWN people -- simple tribal villagers who cannot distinguish friend from foe. When using airpower, you cannot be discreet. Let's not kid ourselves on that. The idea of laser-guided bombs and commandos painting targets is, frankly, ridiculous. What is the target in a jungle? A bamboo shack? How can we distinguish between a group of villagers and tribals? I have seen Maoists. They look no different from any other villager. Can you imagine the aftershock if a 500 pounder lands in a village?
There is no alternative to better trained ground troops in a jungle war. Air force can, at best, be used for surveillance.


No one is talking about indiscriminate bombing a la U.S style. That's why I used the term "scalpel" - in how we selectively use air-power. This "500 pounder in a village" is the exact visceral reaction that we should avoid. No one is inhuman enough to suggest that. But let me give you another example: suppose we get intelligence about a Maoist training camp in the jungle, we can determine the feasibility of destroying it via air-power. If it is remote enough to not cause civilian deaths, then I am all for dropping an LGB on it.

I am not saying that it will always be feasible - maybe the foliage is so thick that we cannot use LGBs. But lets make that determination on a case-by-case basis - rather than blanket statements like "we cannot use air-power against our own people".

Air-power is a whole range of options - not "500 pounder or nothing"

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Prem Kumar » 21 Apr 2010 23:52

ASPuar wrote:
"Bring in airpower" is an exercise in missing the point. You can keep bringing in air power, but it will not stop the jawans from falling into traps, if theyre not trained. Already, drones, etc are being deployed. This is good. Aerial surveillance is required, to provide greater intel and I think it will help. But "death from the air" is not a solution to anything.


ASPuar - completely agreed that the CRPF training needs to improve significantly. And the people who suggest air-power (I for one) are not trying to mask this deficiency. But that doesnt mean that the only way for the CRPF to learn is by spilling more blood. If air-power will lessen the amount of blood spilled (of even untrained jawans), then so be it.

The 2 (CIJW training & air-power usage) need to happen in parallel. In fact, I would add one more dimension. We need CIJW to be an "infantry+air power" training rather than a purely infantry-alone training.

ASPuar wrote:I am at a loss to understand, then, how operations against militants in Punjab, J&K, NorthEast, ULFA etc were and are conducted without the use of air power.


While it is true that we have contained the J&K insurgency to a large extent, it has come at a high cost. 50000+ civilian casualties; 1000s of jawans killed; a tourist economy devastated for decades. Another example is Sri Lanka - the state can claim victory over the LTTE - but at a horrendous cost.

My fear is that, given the # of Maoists & the geographical spread of the problem, the Red Menace threatens to do an LTTE on us. Unless we nip it in the bud. If judicious use of air-power can hasten the end of Maoists, then I dont see why not.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby pmund » 21 Apr 2010 23:54

1. First of all, foliage does not matter a thing to LGBs. But smart bombs CANNOT be used for blowing up a bamboo shack. They are far too expensive, bottomline. Even in the Kargil war, the government hemmed and hawwed before reluctantly agreeing to deploy LGBs. Besdies, have you thought of the PR coup the Maoists would have -- "rich govt using expensive, hi-tech bombs against 'poor' ragtag rebels".

2.The Dantewada ambush happened because the CRPF guys walked into it and did not follow basic procedures. Can the govt send scouting choppers before every patrol party? It's not feasible.

3. Choppers wouldn't have helped much during the firefight either. The kinds used in anti-Maoist operations don't carry weapons. Even if you rig an LMG, how will the poor gunner distinguish between which specks are Maoists and which specks are jawans, if he can see anything at all in the foliage. Besides, the fight was at very close quarters, negating any kind of indirect fire or aerial support.

4. The Dantewada encounter site was NOT uninhabited. It was remote, but there were villages nearby. Which is why all the more talk about intelligence failure.

5. I know the entire range of airpower options. None of them can be used in anti-Maoist ops except for surveillance and intelligence. The air power option is exercised with extreme restraint. How long did it take during the Kargil war to sanction air ops???

6. UAVs are a viable option, but only if they have thermal imaging. Some of the jungles are so dense that you cannot see an elephant from the air. In Lalgarh's Jhitka jungle, for instance, you can hide 500 guys unseen.

7. Yes, I agree with you that there should be more drills and coordination between ground forces and those conducting aerial ops.

8. And I repeat, we cannot use airpower against our own people. Has it ever been done in the North-East or even Kashmir????

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Nihat » 22 Apr 2010 00:08

Well, it has been used in the north - east , Aizwal to be specific but yes I agree in principle that high end Air power against Naxal terrorists is a big NO NO.

I don't know squat about COIN ops. and wont pretend to know either but from what I gather from little snippets of news and other ongoing discussion at BR among senior members its quite obvious that the most crucial role is played by Intelligence , pinpoint and accurate intelligence with the help of local assets , intercepts, ariel survellience etc.

Intelligence is everything when it comes to putting terrorists under constant preassure, not allowing any safe breeding ground or regrouping time and I don't know what kind of Intelligence network we currently have in the jungles but surely over the next few years a vast network of efficiant info gathering and dispersing must be developed to reduce terrorist influence.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Prem Kumar » 22 Apr 2010 00:48

pmund wrote:1. First of all, foliage does not matter a thing to LGBs. But smart bombs CANNOT be used for blowing up a bamboo shack. They are far too expensive, bottomline. Even in the Kargil war, the government hemmed and hawwed before reluctantly agreeing to deploy LGBs. Besdies, have you thought of the PR coup the Maoists would have -- "rich govt using expensive, hi-tech bombs against 'poor' ragtag rebels".

2.The Dantewada ambush happened because the CRPF guys walked into it and did not follow basic procedures. Can the govt send scouting choppers before every patrol party? It's not feasible.

3. Choppers wouldn't have helped much during the firefight either. The kinds used in anti-Maoist operations don't carry weapons. Even if you rig an LMG, how will the poor gunner distinguish between which specks are Maoists and which specks are jawans, if he can see anything at all in the foliage. Besides, the fight was at very close quarters, negating any kind of indirect fire or aerial support.

4. The Dantewada encounter site was NOT uninhabited. It was remote, but there were villages nearby. Which is why all the more talk about intelligence failure.

5. I know the entire range of airpower options. None of them can be used in anti-Maoist ops except for surveillance and intelligence. The air power option is exercised with extreme restraint. How long did it take during the Kargil war to sanction air ops???

6. UAVs are a viable option, but only if they have thermal imaging. Some of the jungles are so dense that you cannot see an elephant from the air. In Lalgarh's Jhitka jungle, for instance, you can hide 500 guys unseen.

7. Yes, I agree with you that there should be more drills and coordination between ground forces and those conducting aerial ops.

8. And I repeat, we cannot use airpower against our own people. Has it ever been done in the North-East or even Kashmir????


1. Frankly the PR coup of the Maoists is not nearly as important as the lives of our jawans. Foliage does matter for LGBs because it relies on optical tracking. Agreed it doesnt make sense to bomb a bamboo shack - but it does make sense to drop a $500000 bomb on a training ground with 200 Maoists in it

2. Not choppers but UAVs & human scouts

3. That's the point - we need to use Dhruv WSI and not unarmed choppers. Agree with you that *after* the Dantewada ambush began, air-power might not have made a huge difference (I said so in my post). We also have the friend vs. foe problem. But it would have definitely made *some* difference. More lives would have been saved & no weapons would have been looted. The Maoists *would not* have completed their ambush and annihilated the entire battalion, if they saw a gunship providing covering fire. They would have most likely run away. I could extend this point further. From what I could gather, they escaped into the jungles and not back to their villages. So, having gunships would have even made hot-pursuit a possibility

4. Yes - I know there were villages nearby. But the killing site itself was uninhabited. That's why there was no civilian casualties. So, its quite logical to state that the usage of a gunship wouldnt have caused civilian casualties either

5. Its your opinion versus mine. We will have to agree to disagree. Yes, there was a delay in employing air power in Kargil. And pretty much everyone has panned the delay. There are accusations & counter-accusations on who was responsible for it. Not one person is claiming that the delay was a good thing.

6. Agreed. We need more sophisticated systems - another one being foliage-penetrating radars. But not all areas are so thick. Lets use air-surveillance and air-power where we can. In areas where we cannot (or should not), we use boots on the ground exclusively.

8. Another area where we have to disagree because of what seems to be underlying philosophical reasons. I dont care whether a Maoist dies due to gunshot wounds or shrapnel. I also believe that air-power, if used judiciously can bring a quick end to this war. And that there have been sufficient technological advances that makes this sort of judicious use possible. As regards J&K, I have argued elsewhere that air-power is justified even there. Example: counter-infiltration at LOC in uninhabited areas. However, in the Maoist case, the use of air-power makes even more sense because of the sheer numbers involved. The most effective way to bust a 300 Maoist ambush & inflict severe casualties is air-power.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby ASPuar » 22 Apr 2010 11:41

Prem Kumar wrote:
1. Frankly the PR coup of the Maoists is not nearly as important as the lives of our jawans. Foliage does matter for LGBs because it relies on optical tracking. Agreed it doesnt make sense to bomb a bamboo shack - but it does make sense to drop a $500000 bomb on a training ground with 200 Maoists in it

2. Not choppers but UAVs & human scouts

3. That's the point - we need to use Dhruv WSI and not unarmed choppers. Agree with you that *after* the Dantewada ambush began, air-power might not have made a huge difference (I said so in my post). We also have the friend vs. foe problem. But it would have definitely made *some* difference. More lives would have been saved & no weapons would have been looted. The Maoists *would not* have completed their ambush and annihilated the entire battalion, if they saw a gunship providing covering fire. They would have most likely run away. I could extend this point further. From what I could gather, they escaped into the jungles and not back to their villages. So, having gunships would have even made hot-pursuit a possibility

4. Yes - I know there were villages nearby. But the killing site itself was uninhabited. That's why there was no civilian casualties. So, its quite logical to state that the usage of a gunship wouldnt have caused civilian casualties either

6. Agreed. We need more sophisticated systems - another one being foliage-penetrating radars. But not all areas are so thick. Lets use air-surveillance and air-power where we can. In areas where we cannot (or should not), we use boots on the ground exclusively.

8. Another area where we have to disagree because of what seems to be underlying philosophical reasons. I dont care whether a Maoist dies due to gunshot wounds or shrapnel. I also believe that air-power, if used judiciously can bring a quick end to this war. And that there have been sufficient technological advances that makes this sort of judicious use possible. As regards J&K, I have argued elsewhere that air-power is justified even there. Example: counter-infiltration at LOC in uninhabited areas. However, in the Maoist case, the use of air-power makes even more sense because of the sheer numbers involved. The most effective way to bust a 300 Maoist ambush & inflict severe casualties is air-power.


Air power cannot be used simply because it will make *some* difference. You concede that there could be IFF issues, yet you say that it doesnt matter.

You say Dantewada firefight zone was not occupied, yet you agree there were villages nearby. You know, Im sure, that from firefight zone to villages is a matter of a couple of seconds flight. Identification issues are crucial.

During an ambush, who will direct firepower? The Dantewada jawans were caught in the open, in a trap where contact explosives had been deployed in all covered areas. They were dying in their dozens within minutes. Is the more prudent investment not to make sure that they are trained NEVER to get into such a situation in the first place?

Counterinfiltration Air-Power in the J&K border is of course out of the question, because of almost certain attacks by PAK air defence, and the specter of escalation.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby K Mehta » 22 Apr 2010 11:45

I think air power should be used and a role definition be done for it!
It should be used for heli-borne operations, as well as SAR, CSAR if needed, recce and surveilence!
We dont have to do CAS missions or air strike, but others are not only feasible but in my opinion required!

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby sugriva » 22 Apr 2010 17:12

And I repeat, we cannot use airpower against our own people.

Why is a sentiment like the above repeated as if it were a truism? Down from the COAS to the friendly neighbourhood forum poster everybody repeats something like the above almost ad-nauseum. Weren't the CRPF jawans, who died, our own people? Shouldn't we attempt to protect our own people from wanton massacre? If that requires air-power then so be it.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby merlin » 22 Apr 2010 17:24

sugriva wrote:
And I repeat, we cannot use airpower against our own people.

Why is a sentiment like the above repeated as if it were a truism? Down from the COAS to the friendly neighbourhood forum poster everybody repeats something like the above almost ad-nauseum. Weren't the CRPF jawans, who died, our own people? Shouldn't we attempt to protect our own people from wanton massacre? If that requires air-power then so be it.


But that does not require air strikes which is a blunt weapon where chances of collateral damage are very high in the conditions where it is proposed to be used.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby pmund » 22 Apr 2010 17:42

Sugriva, you say this because you perhaps do not know the awesome devastation of airpower. The COAS and ACM know what they are talking about. They have seen the business end of airpower, not Top Gun. The CRPF jawans were very much our own people. But if airpower had been used in Dantewada, you'd have been firing rockets at them too. If using gunships was so simple, dont u think they would have been used already??? Do you think anyone wants jawans to be butchered like that?????????? What's needed is better training and UAV surveillance. Not jets and choppers raining hell in populated areas.

Prem Kumar Pray, where will you find 200 Maoists bunched up and offering themselves to an LGB???

1. Maoists move in groups of 4-5 or max 10-20. During all attacks, big or small, they do not gather at the ambush site in droves. They gather a few km away from the point of ambush and then start walking in sections. By the time they are all grouped together it is too late to call an air strike. The bulk of the PLGA members who attacked Nayagarh (Orissa) in 2008 walked two nights all the way from Dantewada.

2. As ASPuar sir said, we cannot use airpower because it will have 'some' effect.

3. Your point 3 is hilarious. If the Maoists had seen a gunship, they WOULD NOT have run away. Don't take them for fools. They are very very well trained. They would have moved closer towards the jawans knowing that the chopper would not fire for fear of hitting our own men. Every footsoldier knows there is no escape from a helicopter gunship. They fear it more than tanks. There is nowhere to run if a chopper is after you. So, 'scattering' is no use.

The rest of the points, I have nothing to add after ASPuar sir.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby pmund » 22 Apr 2010 17:54

Nihat Ji, I agree with you. Choppers were used in the North-East. Twice, AFAIK. In Aizwal in 1966 and on the Nagaland-Myanmar border in 1974. In Aizwal, five Mi-4 (transports) were deployed after Mizo Nationalist Front rebels laid siege to the Assam Rifles HQ and the treasury. The choppers were not in an offensive role but they were shot at and riddled with bullets. Five days later, two gunships were used to break the siege. Two rockets were fired. In '74, gunships were used to stop a group of Naga militants from crossing over after training in Myanmar.
As you said, there is no alternative to better intelligence and tougher training. The war against Maoists will be won on intelligence. it WILL be won. Later rather than sooner. But not by strafing villages or jungles.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby sugriva » 22 Apr 2010 18:45

pmund wrote:The COAS and ACM know what they are talking about.

Indeed they do, but the reasons they proffer for not using air-power are, to put it mildly, way off base. It would have made sense if they had said that air-power should not be used because there is a chance of collateral damage. Such a line of argument would have made sense, but to say that they should not be used because the "naxalites are our own people" just does not make sense. If the naxalites are so much our own people then they shouldn't even be shot at using AK-47's.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby VijayV » 22 Apr 2010 19:06

My 2 cents.

We can use choppers. But not as gunship or bombers, instead we can use them to transport QRT or Hit teams(with more ammo, less ration). Who will land around 1 KM from site and try to punch a hole in siege while ambush is going on. This will help in 2 way - 1) divert the enemy's fire power to new moving-in team/s (which is mentally prepared for counter the ambush as it know the ambush is on, so no surprise). 2) Will give moral support to pinned down troop.

A chopper can not be in air all the time. In any case it has to be called in. To avoid manpad or small arm fire it can drop the team/s around 1 km in low flight (near ambush area). And a big circle flight of chopper after the drop will also give a recon of the ambush area + confusion in ambushing enemy will also a good addition.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby sugriva » 22 Apr 2010 19:11

merlin wrote:But that does not require air strikes which is a blunt weapon where chances of collateral damage are very high in the conditions where it is proposed to be used.


This again is another truism that needn't be correct. The US bombing of Vietnam during the 70's, widely considered as ineffective, is what is offered as proof for reaching a conclusion like the above. For one, in 40 years technology has progressed to the point that we have now have PGM's and laser designators for dumb bombs that was not available during that time. It it were available, precision air strikes could have been directed against the VC then and in hindsight the use of airpower would not have been considered as disastrous as what it is made out to be.

I also see that people on this forum advocate the use of UAV and UCAV's against Naxalites. If that's not precision guided ammunition then please tell me what is? I consider that as proof that precision air power against designated targets is an effective anti naxalite weapon. It doesn't matter if the platform used to deliver this ordnance is a helicopter, an aircraft or an UCAV.

In addition there is also the proof of US use of AC-130 gunships, helicopters and UCAVs (predator drones) against the Taliban, in densely populated areas, in Afghanistan that have not attracted any adverse criticism. We should use this data point to bolster the argument for use of air power against Naxalites.
Last edited by sugriva on 22 Apr 2010 19:32, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby merlin » 22 Apr 2010 19:22

sugriva wrote:
merlin wrote:But that does not require air strikes which is a blunt weapon where chances of collateral damage are very high in the conditions where it is proposed to be used.


This again is another truism that needn't be correct. The US bombing of Vietnam during the 70's, widely considered as ineffective, is what is offered as proof for reaching a conclusion like the above. For one, in 40 years technology has progressed to the point that we have now have PGM's and laser designators for dumb bombs that was not available during that time. It it were available, precision air strikes could have been directed against the VC then and in hindsight the use of airpower would not have been considered as disastrous as what it is made out to be.


You are assuming that from the air, the fast movers can see the people below through dense foliage. What about blast effects knocking your own people down when the naxals close in?

sugriva wrote:I also see that people on this forum advocate the use of UAV and UCAV's against Naxalites. If that's not precision guided ammunition then please tell me what is? I consider that as proof that precision air power against designated targets is an effective anti naxalite weapon. It does matter if the platform used to deliver this ordinance is a helicopter, an aircraft or an UCAV.


I don't agree. IMHOhe only precision weapons against naxalites are small arms.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Tejas.P » 22 Apr 2010 20:22

I wonder if the Govt has thought about using airpower as a form of psychological warfare. For example, besides surveillance, helicopters can be used for dropping leaflets, using loudspeakers etc. Since the govt is so keen on peace talks, instead of demanding that Maoists surrender all the way from Delhi, these same exact demands can be brought onto the frontlines. For example, I recall reading an article on US PSYOPs in Iraq that went as far as to blare extremely loud music over the suspected enemy positions 24 hours a day putting the enemy at unease and lowering the morale.

http://in.news.yahoo.com/48/20100411/80 ... axals.html

An article on local police who are inducted in Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare School. The entry on how the local police, many of whom come from Naxal infested villages, are trained in psychological warfare is intriguing.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Siddhartha » 23 Apr 2010 04:52

VijayV wrote:My 2 cents.

We can use choppers. But not as gunship or bombers, instead we can use them to transport QRT or Hit teams(with more ammo, less ration). Who will land around 1 KM from site and try to punch a hole in siege while ambush is going on. This will help in 2 way - 1) divert the enemy's fire power to new moving-in team/s (which is mentally prepared for counter the ambush as it know the ambush is on, so no surprise). 2) Will give moral support to pinned down troop.

A chopper can not be in air all the time. In any case it has to be called in. To avoid manpad or small arm fire it can drop the team/s around 1 km in low flight (near ambush area). And a big circle flight of chopper after the drop will also give a recon of the ambush area + confusion in ambushing enemy will also a good addition.


This is the only perfect and most effective use of air power against any internal threat like naxalism.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Prabu » 23 Apr 2010 16:26

And I repeat, we cannot use airpower against our own people.

Why is a sentiment like the above repeated as if it were a truism? Down from the COAS to the friendly neighbourhood forum poster everybody repeats something like the above almost ad-nauseum. Weren't the CRPF jawans, who died, our own people? Shouldn't we attempt to protect our own people from wanton massacre? If that requires air-power then so be it.[/quote]

But that does not require air strikes which is a blunt weapon where chances of collateral damage are very high in the conditions where it is proposed to be used.[/quote]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To whom who vehimently oppose usage of choppers/air power and even think shy, about using choppers in CT & CI operations, why do you assume usage of AIR POWER means only firing with HEAVY guns ??? It can simply means usage of choppers for rushing in additional CRPF reinforcements, ariel inteligence/ survey, Evacuation and perhaps can include where required, and where appropriate, startegic shooting or bombing merely to scare away the group trying to attack our camps / convoys etc !! For god sake, let us NOT write off usage of air power. The person who has lead from the front is aking for Air support and I sincerly feel (irrespective of his other flaws in his report)It MUST be given a consideration. IT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE ! IT WILL NOT ONLY GIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT to our men, but also CREATE THE PSYCHOLOGICAL FEAR among the Naxal group that they will be over powered ! Indian teh wanna be SUPER POWER can not afford to use its resourses when their own para military people are dying and an armed group is threatening to take over the Govt by 2050 ! Break the nexus between politicians , commies and Naxals.Move decisively !

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Prabu » 23 Apr 2010 16:58

Tejas.P wrote:I wonder if the Govt has thought about using airpower as a form of psychological warfare. For example, besides surveillance, helicopters can be used for dropping leaflets, using loudspeakers etc. Since the govt is so keen on peace talks, instead of demanding that Maoists surrender all the way from Delhi, these same exact demands can be brought onto the frontlines. For example, I recall reading an article on US PSYOPs in Iraq that went as far as to blare extremely loud music over the suspected enemy positions 24 hours a day putting the enemy at unease and lowering the morale.

http://in.news.yahoo.com/48/20100411/80 ... axals.html

An article on local police who are inducted in Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare School. The entry on how the local police, many of whom come from Naxal infested villages, are trained in psychological warfare is intriguing.


Tejas.P, welcome to BR, You come in with a bang !
Sorry, i did miss your post, before my above post. The focus should be on psychological war fare with Naxals and you seem to be thinking the same. Its great to note that HM, PC has annonced 20 such anti naxal schools ! We seem to be moving in right direction, but at the same time POLICE MODERNISATION should be expedited swiftly at all states ( start from elimination of 0.303's, fill up all police vacancies and increase the Rigor, More focus on Naxal affected states ) It should be followed up with development ofg villages. Today I saw a TV report that Tamilnadu is the least affected by Naxals , and one reason is Tamilnadu villages are better developed than the soem others. If villagers have soem job to do they have no reason to be angry at our Govt's and indulge in anti state/Govt. activities. We should Focus on village developments.


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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby VijayV » 23 Apr 2010 18:00

Dear Prabu,

I also felt same. But remembered few things which I read long back.
Using chopper is a simple option in direct assault. But afterward the out come will be shocking.

If naxalites can have body armors, Assault rifles why cant man-pad or any other anti air weapons. And if they fail to use against securities force chopper, then they will be going to use it against civilian/VIP aircrafts

Many decades back in Chambal, it was suggested to use chopper (most probably lancer) against Dacoits and that time only authorities realised these points and avoided.

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Re: CT and COIN operations in India: News, Images and Discussion

Postby Tejas.P » 23 Apr 2010 22:45

Thank you Prabu, I have been a long time guest/lurker on this forum and could not resist the chance of putting my 2 cents in this discussion.

As for the police modernization scheme, you are absolutely right in that police forces in Naxal infested states need to be given the proper training, funding and weaponry to combat this increasing problem.For example, In Andhra Pradesh, raising the Grey Hound and like forces have also seem to have been effective in inhibiting the rise of Naxalism. However, Chattisgarh has simply not yet been given the proper funding for stopping this menace. For example, During the period 2002-03 to 2006-07, the total Central assistance given to Naxal-affected States for modernization of the Police was Rs.2,140.70
Crores. In 2007-08, a provision of Rs 437.53 Crores was made. The slow implementation of this process seems to have severely affected the States' capabilities in dealing with this problem. Also, interestingly, Chattisgarh was 5th on the list for funding by the Centre. This is as late as 2009 when the Naxalite problem in Chattisgarh seemed to have reach its height. I may add that in some areas in the State, funding for nonsense vigilante SPO's such as the Salwa Judum, was more than what the local police got.

This is an evaluation report by Delhi-based think tank Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
http://www.idsa.in/system/files/Occasio ... _Naxal.pdf
Tackling Naxalism:Post-Dantewada
http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/Tacklin ... xit_080410


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