Border & Perimeter Security
During his address at the Combined Commanders’ Conference in New Delhi on October 17, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stated: “Beyond the immediate, we are facing a future where security challenges will be less predictable; situations will evolve a
Beyond the immediate, we are facing a future where security challenges will be less predictable; situations will evolve and change swiftly; and, technological changes will make responses more difficult to keep pace with. The threats may be known, but the enemy may be invisible.
BY MENTIONING THE INVISIBLE enemy in addition to conventional threats, the Prime Minister was obviously referring to the growing threat of terrorism and insurgency that India is facing, which includes refocusing of Al Qaeda to South Asia, entry of ISIS in Af-Pak region-Maldives and the enhanced terror threat from our neighbourhood; Bangladeshi links to Burdwan blasts, Sri Lankan radicals undertaking surveillance spying in South India and the like. Therefore, the passage of information becomes increasingly important. The relationship between information and conflict is well known and the challenge all along is how to maximise information. In today’s context information is increasingly of strategic value. We are in a state of perpetual conflict and the battlefield is borderless.
Our difficult and porous borders are repeatedly being subjected to infiltration, terror, cross border attacks and illegal democratic invasion. Then we have the Chinese surreptitiously nibbling at our territory in persistent fashion. Within the country, terrorist strikes cannot be ruled out in any state. Therefore, logically we cannot be caught unawares because wherein matters of security, there cannot be scope of any break in downtime. The first thing is to have the capability to ‘see’ the enemy or terrorist at the earliest but that is just a small part of the requirement. Perimeter defence is relatively easy because you can have a 24x7 warningcum-surveillance system through a network of a variety of sensors (surface, sub-surface and in the air), cameras, etc, that are digitally connected to give a live picture.
But here again the game is to get as much advance warning and have the capability to respond in adequate fashion. In the wake of speedy technological advancements, command, control, communications, computers, information and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4I2SR) systems provide sterling opportunities for the defence and security establishment acting as important force multiplier for commanders at all levels. This is what the Prime Minister meant when saying he would like to see digitized armed forces. Net-centric warfare helps sharing of common operational picture enabling sharing of high value information over well informed geographically dispersed forces resulting in information advantage. Technology provides numerous options to build automated C4I2 systems for effective response in modern conflict situations. All this is even more relevant to border security. We have a diverse terrain. Part of the line of control (LoC), not all has a border fence as also some of the border with Bangladesh is fenced. There is no fence along the line of actual control (LAC) with China.
What we actually need for security of our borders is two tiers, one tier beyond the border. In the prevailing environment of global conflict, the first tier of security must be beyond the border itself. This should not only consist of the eyes in the space and air (satellites, drones and stealth aircraft) but also through application of asymmetric approaches in the enemy’s backyard. Our first tier of security must include measures to negate the adversary’s moves in the asymmetric field through advanced sub-conventional capabilities. Here it is important to understand that basing a policy against sub-conventional threats on idealism as standalone factor only provides an inward looking policy which is more expensive in the long run and adversely affects our national security and development. This would be through intelligence and special operations. Why we have not been effective in this field is because unlike other countries including China and Pakistan, we have not gone for intelligence and special operations employing our Special Forces in synch with intelligence agencies. This is because intelligence agencies consider this as loss of turf and insist this is their exclusive domain. The failed experiment with the LTTE is just one example of following such policy.
The second tier of security required is at the border itself with full optimisation of technology through a robust C4I2SR setup. Obviously, we should not present a weak front anywhere along our borders. If China has round the clock satellite cover at the borders, we should have the same. We must have continuous transborder surveillance in place. This must be comprised of satellite cover, aerostats, UAVs, MAVs and unattended ground sensors (UGS). Comprehensive battlefield transparency must be in place integrating space, aerial and ground equipment (LOROS, BFSR, HHTIs, UGS, Surveillance cameras, NVDs etc).
Modern electronic surveillance involves detection of movement, and is largely based on seismic, acoustic, inductive sensors, and infrared sensors, all of which should be optimised. Considering the unsettled border, construction of a border fence everywhere is not feasible. However, it would be prudent to cater for laying of obstacles, mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on imminence of hostilities, even fire or aerially lay mines on axes of enemy advance, as and required. The forces deployed along the LAC (as also subsequent tiers and offensive reserves) need to be provisioned with the wherewithal for information dominance and information assurance, ability to paralyze enemy C4I2 infrastructure, stand-off weapons to pre-empt enemy attack, adequate mix of DEW, PGMs, ASATs etc, ability to disrupt enemy logistics / sustenance and mix of hard kill and soft kill options. Fielding of the battlefield surveillance system (BSS) and battlefield management system (BMS) must be expedited. Development of border infrastructure needs to be fine tuned to cater for all types of movement by day and night.
In the prevailing and future environment, threats to our national security will keep multiplying. We need information dominance under these circumstances at all levels of conflict. We must have the abil- ity to not only see the enemy well before he sees us but take him out earliest. In looking for optimising technology, we should be looking at building capacities like identifying infiltration through dense foliage by air and ability to take out that threat through armed drones. Similar ability is needed for counterterrorism which also threatens the backyard of our border security. Success in combat depends greatly upon fused, tailored intelligence which is communicated securely and rapidly. Speed is a critical component.
The critical elements of sensor grids and engagement grids are hosted by a highquality information backplane. These are supported by value-adding command and control processes many of which need to be automated to achieve speed. This in essence personifies the essential characteristics of a C4I2 system. Therefore, there is a need for a tremendously flexible and robust C4I2 architecture which functions as a process of organisations, doctrines and technologies. We need to progressively develop foolproof security at our borders and comprehensive security of all vulnerable points and vulnerable areas against threats of all types. The challenge is to harness the power of sensors, information processing and communication technologies to develop concepts of operation and command and control approaches that will ensure comprehensive all-round security in any given situation or circumstance.
MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial attack vehicle
Indian Army patroling on border
Telephonics’ Mobile Surveillance Capability (MSC)