Strength­en­ing Camps of Se­cu­rity Forces

Alive - - Contents - Strate­gic thoughts. by M.P. Nathanael

The at­tack on the Sun­juwan mil­i­tary camp in the wee hours of 10 Fe­bru­ary 2018 re­sult­ing in the death of six of our gal­lant sol­diers and the civil­ian fa­ther of one of them, apart from the elim­i­na­tion of three ter­ror­ists. This has once again brought into sharp fo­cus the lack­adaisi­cal at­ti­tude of our com­man­ders in en­sur­ing a fool­proof im­pen­e­tra­ble de­fence of our camps.

Two days later, a con­sta­ble of the Cen­tral Re­serve Po­lice Force bat­tal­ion in Karan Na­gar dis­played a high sense of alert­ness and alacrity in fir­ing at two mil­i­tants who dared to ap­proach the camp to carry out a fi­day­een at­tack.

A study of some of the at­tacks on the camps of de­fence and para-mil­i­tary forces clearly points to the la­cuna that ex­isted at the time of at­tack which was fully ex­ploited by the mil­i­tant out­fits. One could well ar­gue that it is im­pos­si­ble to for­tify a sprawl­ing cam­pus of over seven square kilo­me­tres. But then, for the sake of sav­ing the lives of our per­son­nel and for the hon­our of the coun­try, steps have to be taken to for­tify our es­tab­lish­ments, what­ever the cost factor be.

When the can­ton­ments came up ini­tially, th­ese were de­lib­er­ately set up in a out­skirts of the towns to pre­vent mix­ing with the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion and thereby main­tain­ing its own iden­tity and se­crecy of in­for­ma­tion. The more the in­ter­ac­tion with the civil pop­u­lace, the more were the pos­si­bil­i­ties of in­for­ma­tion, much of which could be

se­cret in na­ture, get­ting passed on to them. Se­crecy of in­for­ma­tion has been of ut­most im­por­tance. With the pas­sage of time, the towns spread out to en­gulf the can­ton­ments and some of them came to be merged into the heart of the towns. With the pas­sage of time, th­ese can­ton­ments have be­come tar­gets of the ter­ror­ists and also es­pi­onage ac­tiv­i­ties.

Se­cu­rity mea­sures

As a se­cu­rity es­sen­tial­ity, the pe­riph­eries of th­ese sprawl­ing camps need to be kept free of any habi­ta­tion up to 100 me­tres from the bound­ary wall and no high­rise build­ing should be per­mit­ted within a dis­tance of about 200 me­tres. A clear view of the camp from any high-rise build­ing would give the ter­ror­ists the ad­van­tage of plan­ning their strat­egy and ob­serv­ing all move­ments of troops, which needs to be shielded.

The ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the past – in the very same Sun­juwan camp on 28 June 2003; in Air Force base at Pathankot on 1 Jan­uary 2016; in Uri in Septem­ber 2016 and in Na­grota on 29 Novem­ber 2016 — should have served as lessons not just for th­ese bases but also all other se­cu­rity forces in the re­gion in­clud­ing the lo­cal po­lice. Lessons drawn af­ter de­tailed en­quiries into th­ese and sev­eral other sim­i­lar in­ci­dents should be dis­sem­i­nated to all the forces to avoid such in­ci­dents in fu­ture.

The former Vice Chief of Army, Lt. Gen. Philip Cam­pose, had been tasked af­ter the Pathankot episode to head a com­mit­tee to carry out a study and give rec­om­men­da­tions to pre­vent re­peats of such in­ci­dents. Of the 3000 sen­si­tive mil­i­tary bases that were iden­ti­fied for up­grad­ing the se­cu­rity sys­tems, 600 were clas­si­fied as “highly sen­si­tive”. Stan­dard Op­er­at­ing Pro­ce­dures (SOPs) were re­vised and sent to all for­ma­tions for im­ple­men­ta­tion but lit­tle seems to have been done on this front re­sult­ing in fre­quent at­tacks. Among the rec­om­men­da­tions were in­stal­la­tion of sen­sor-fit­ted fenc­ing and alarm sys­tems

The ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the past – in the very same Sun­juwan camp on 28 June 2003; in Air Force base at

Pathankot on 1 Jan­uary 2016; in Uri in Septem­ber 2016 and in Na­grota on 29 Novem­ber 2016 — should have served as lessons not just for th­ese bases but also all other se­cu­rity forces.

round the cam­pus.

Now that Rs. 1,487 crore have been sanc­tioned by the gov­ern­ment to strengthen and for­tify all mil­i­tary bases, work should get started on war-foot­ing so that no more lives are lost, though, most Army of­fi­cers aver that it is im­pos­si­ble to meet the dead­line laid down by the de­fence min­is­ter of com­plet­ing the perime­ter walls within ten months.

Cover more

Closed cir­cuit TV around the base with a cen­tral mon­i­tor­ing cen­tre could go a long way in re­duc­ing the man­power to cover the en­tire area. Quick Re­ac­tion Teams could be de­ployed at van­tage points to rush to any spot in the short­est pos­si­ble time.

While the main en­trance gates are usu­ally well for­ti­fied, the other gates in the rear or else­where are not given due im­por­tance. The ne­glect of breaches in the walls or fenc­ing around the camp, of­fer the ter­ror­ists the op­por­tu­nity to break into the camp and cre­ate havoc. In Sun­juwan, a part of the pe­riph­ery had just a few CGI sheets to se­cure the area. The pos­si­bil­ity of the ter­ror­ists hav­ing sneaked through the gaps in the CGI sheets can­not be ruled out.

De­spite all tech­ni­cal back-ups to se­cure the base, there can be no deny­ing the fact that man­power on the ground to mon­i­tor and main­tain vigil around the cam­pus can­not be dis­pensed with. Mo­bile pa­trols to check any sus­pi­cious move­ment or breach in the fenc­ing or wall can be con­ducive in plug­ging any loop­holes in­stantly. De­tec­tion and timely plug­ging of loop­holes in the se­cu­rity net can help pre­vent such in­ci­dents.

There is usu­ally a ten­dency of ladies re­sid­ing in fam­ily sta­tions to go to nearby vil­lages to get fresh milk. For this, in­stead of go­ing a long cir­cuitous way through the main gate, they find it eas­ier to make their way through the rear or any side wall which can be breached to go out and re­turn. Th­ese are the spots that can be used by the ter­ror­ists to gain en­try. Any­body dar­ing to breach the wall or fenc­ing to go out should be strictly dealt with, as se­cu­rity of camps can in no way be com­pro­mised.

In­tel­li­gence sys­tem

Need­less to em­pha­sise, a strong in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing sys­tem will help in alert­ing the per­son­nel and ap­pre­hend­ing the ter­ror­ists be­fore they in­flict any dam­age on the se­cu­rity forces. On cer­tain days like the dates of killing of Burhan Wani and the hang­ing of Afzal Guru there are all pos­si­bil­i­ties of an at­tack by the mil­i­tants. It be­comes all the more es­sen­tial to be ex­tra cau­tious and de­ploy ad­di­tional man­power to main­tain vigil and carry out pa­trolling. In­tel­li­gence in­puts usu­ally alert the se­cu­rity forces about the prob­a­bil­ity of at­tacks but they are not taken se­ri­ously. As a re­sult they are caught with their guards down and

suf­fer ca­su­al­ties.

Gen­eral sur­veil­lance of the area or the habi­ta­tions around the camp is of ut­most im­por­tance to gather in­for­ma­tion. Exser­vice­men could be utilised to main­tain a vigil in the area and in­form the com­man­ders of the mil­i­tary bases of any sus­pi­cious move­ments so that the mil­i­tants are nabbed be­fore they ven­ture to launch their mis­sions. Such exser­vice­men who ren­der valu­able ser­vice by pro­vid­ing timely in­for­ma­tion about mil­i­tants should be hand­somely re­warded for their ef­forts.

Since per­son­nel re­sid­ing in fam­ily quar­ters do not carry their ser­vice weapons on their per­sons, when not on duty, the res­i­dents be­come more vul­ner­a­ble and help­less in the face of an at­tack by mil­i­tants. In the in­ci­dent at Sun­juwan Army camp, Sube­dar

Madan Lal Chaudhry had to fight the ter­ror­ists with bare hands to save his fam­ily mem­bers be­fore he was shot dead. But for his

Mock drills have to be con­ducted from time to time so that all per­son­nel are con­ver­sant with their role in the even­tu­al­ity of an at­tack. Noth­ing could be bet­ter than to task a team to en­ter the cam­pus af­ter they have been left over a kilo­me­tre away from the camp. When they make ef­forts to breach the se­cu­rity net, they would come across spots from where they can gain en­try into the camp. A de­tailed re­con­nais­sance car­ried out by the team would be able to ap­prise the com­man­ders.

der­ring-do, the ca­su­alty fig­ures could have risen. Round-the-clock pa­trolling by armed per­son­nel in res­i­den­tial quar­ters could prove an as­set to ward off any at­tack in quar­ters.

In­spec­tions

All se­cu­rity forces have the sys­tem of con­duct­ing quar­terly, bi-an­nual and an­nual in­spec­tions by var­i­ous se­nior of­fi­cers. If th­ese in­spec­tions are done in all se­ri­ous­ness by check­ing the de­fen­cive and of­fen­sive pre­pared­ness, the loop­holes in the all-round de­fence of the camp can be plugged so as to deny ac­cess to any in­trud­ers. The ob­jec­tive of all de­fence forces at all times is to be pre­pared to take on the en­e­mies across the bor­ders but if our own de­fences are eas­ily pen­e­tra­ble, what of­fen­sive op­er­a­tions can we launch against the en­e­mies? It is to­wards achiev­ing this ob­jec­tive, the men are put through in­ten­sive train­ing in peace time. Though the ob­jec­tives of the para­mil­i­tary forces and the po­lice may dif­fer, yet they have to per­force take care of the de­fence of their posts, com­pany and bat­tal­ion lo­ca­tions. There are no such peace-time lux­u­ries avail­able for them as they have to be con­stantly bat­tling the ter­ror­ists, be they in Jammu and

Kash­mir or the North East or in the Left Wing ex­trem­ists-af­fected states.

Mock drills have to be con­ducted from time to time so that all per­son­nel are con­ver­sant with their role in the even­tu­al­ity of an at­tack. Noth­ing could be bet­ter than to task a team to en­ter the cam­pus af­ter they have been left over a kilo­me­tre away from the camp. When they make ef­forts to breach the se­cu­rity net, they would come across spots from where they can gain en­try into the camp. A de­tailed re­con­nais­sance car­ried out by the team would be able to ap­prise the com­man­ders of the loop­holes in the se­cu­rity cor­don af­ter which ef­forts can be made to plug them.

With multi-pronged ef­forts made to ward of at­tacks on the camps of se­cu­rity forces, the days may not be far off when at­tacks on their camps will be­come things of past and mil­i­tants will not ever dare come any­where near the se­cu­rity forces bases.

An ar­mored ve­hi­cle moves near the In­dian Air Force base in Pathankot that was at­tacked in Jan­uary 2016.

Ter­ror­ists hid­ing in var­i­ous parts of Jammu and Kash­mir look­ing at car­ry­ing out an at­tack at

Sun­juwan Army Camp.

Uri Army Camp where the at­tack took place on 18 Septem­ber 2016.

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