Fortnightly Review & Analysis: Defence, National Security and Terrorism (Vol 2 Issue VIII)

April 16 - 30, 2017


Joint Doctrine Indian Armed Forces-2017

Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and Chief of the Naval Staff, released India’s revised version of Joint Doctrine Indian Armed Forces – 2017 on April 25, 2017. Chief of Air Staff, Chief of the Army Staff and Officiating Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff were present on the occasion.

The Doctrine listed several security threats including transnational threats. The integrated doctrine highlights India’s proactive and pragmatic approach to counter various conflict situations emerging in the country. It can be sensed through a proposed provision of joint training of personnel, unified command and control structures in the doctrine besides pushing for a tri-service approach for modernization of the three forces. The Joint Doctrine will serve as a cornerstone document for application of Military Power in a synergized manner, leading to enhanced efficiency, optimum utilization of resources and financial savings. It will also establish a broad framework of concepts and principles to understand India’s approach to joint planning and conduct of operations across all the domains of conflict i.e. land, air, sea, space and cyber-space, In addition, the Doctrine will also serve as a reference document for the three Services to plan integrated operations.

Indian Navy Successfully Test-fires BrahMos Supersonic Missile

Indian Navy successfully test-fired the land attack version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on April 21, 2017. This variant of Long Range BrahMos Missile was fired from INS Teg, a guided missile frigate, on a target on land. The BrahMos has been jointly developed by India and Russia, and its anti-ship variant has already been inducted into the Indian Navy with a majority of the frontline ships like the Kolkata, Ranvir and Teg classes of ships, capable of firing this missile. During the test, long-range variant of the BrahMos was fired in the Bay of Bengal, off the eastern coast of India. Till now, Indian Navy had fired only anti-ship version of BrahMos. The Indian Navy moved a step closer towards acquiring a pin-point ability to attack targets on land with its first test of the land-attack variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. The missile has a range of 400km. The Land Attack variant of BrahMos Missile provides the Indian Navy with a capability to precisely neutralise selected targets deep inland, far away from coast, from stand-off ranges at sea. Consequently, this increases the options for a commander in the theatre during war. The successive successful launches of the supersonic missile took place at sea off the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The Indian Navy has already inducted anti-ship versions of the BrahMos on its warships including the Rajput and is integrating them into two other ships of the class. This is the first time a land-attack variant of the missile was fired from a warship and also the first sea-to-land missile test in the country. Therefore, the success of these stories has put India into an exclusive global club. Majority of frontline naval ships of Indian Navy like Kolkata, Ranvir and Teg classes are capable of firing this missile. The missiles will also equip the three 7000-ton Kolkata class destroyers currently under construction at the Mazagon Docks Ltd, Mumbai. The land-attack version of BrahMos has already been operationalised in the Indian Army since 2007. The BrahMos missile, with a range of 290 km and a Mach 2.8 speed, is capable of launch from land, sea and sub-sea pads against both land and sea targets. On March 11, 2017 India successfully test-fired the BrahMos with an extended range of 450 km, with officials calling it a "textbook launch". The Defence Research and Development Organisation is developing a second version of the missile with a range of 800 km. Its air version too is under development.

India is one of the select few countries to have this capability which is not readily available as such technology is guarded very carefully by those that have it. It is also a short in the arm for indigenization effort as the defence establishment is keenly promoting the Make in India initiative of the Prime Minister. Availability of such weapons will reduce the dependency on foreign suppliers thereby increasing not only self-reliance but also promoting indigenous defence industry.

Indian Army to Re-orient HR Policies

Battling rising complaints relating to service matters from its personnel, the army has decided to reorient its human resource policy considering "rapid" societal changes. At a six-day annual commanders' conference, the top brass of the army deliberated on a broad range of issues relating to salary, promotions, etc and it was decided to address them while taking a more pragmatic approach. "The core values of the army though haven't changed; rapid societal changes and discernible impact of socio- economic aspirations on the army have been a focus area of the conference," the army said in a statement, giving a gist of deliberations at the conference which concluded on 22 Apr 17.

The Army has, in the recent past, been beset by a host of personnel issues which have tended to take the focus away from operational matters. While operational matters of the Army should take place of pride, the old adage of the man behind the gun cannot be forgotten. The Army is a microcosm of the society that supports it and hence societal changes have a direct impact on it. The Indian army has not been involved in a direct war for more than four decades but it has had to contend with an indirect war waged by Pakistan as also a series of insurgencies and internal disturbances which it has been called in to handle because of the inadequacies of various other organs of state. This has severely stretched the warfighting and support capabilities of this vital instrument of state leading to some avoidable incidents amongst its personnel. However, these are issues that most armies have to contend with through their personnel policies which are suitably and periodically changed to deal with ever changing requirements of society. The importance that the Indian Army accords to this issue is the recognition of the dictum of the man behind the machine being the most important constituent of the Army.

International Terrorism

Situation in Iraq

The anti-Daesh coalition campaign in Iraq, particularly in the context of liberation of Mosul, slowed down during the second half of April. This was partially due to the strategy adopted by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and its coalition partners to regroup, prepare for the coming days, but more importantly, to avoid civilian casualties. Despite the noticeable slowdown, the Iraqi forces were able to recapture western Mosul’s largest neighborhoods, Tenek, in late April. This city used to be one of Daesh’s strongholds in the region and, during the liberation campaign, more than dozen militants were killed and over20 car bombs were destroyed. As the security forces intensified their operation since early this year, Daesh has lost its manpower significantly, with only few hundreds estimated to be remaining in western Mosul.

Amidst this, in a worrisome development, there are increasing reports of potential regrouping of Daesh militias in the oil-rich provinces such as Kirkuk. For some time now, efforts of the militias to surface elsewhere in Iraq have been in the news even when the outfit is not completely ousted from Mosul. There is no real clarity in the government to prevent such rise. Daesh, simultaneously, continues to trigger blasts in and around Mosul, including the explosionin its northern neighborhoodon 29 April which resulted in the death of a US soldier. Prior to this on 23 April, Daesh claimed responsibility for a twin suicide attack which killed 25 Iraqi troops in the Nineveh governorate. These indicate that the outfit still possess the wherewithal to stage attacks although they are becoming irregular and of lesser magnitude. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Vice-President Ayad Allawi, in an interview, mentioned about a “possible alliance” between Daesh and its parent organization, al Qaeda, and this is mainly pertaining to Iraq where the former is losing ground rapidly in recent times. According to him, “discussions and dialogue” between messengers from both terror groups have started. That said,it is yet to be seen whether these two rivals are heading to a merger in the near future. For the moment, military-security situation is unlikely to improve significantly, and the Iraqi central government faces challenges on multiple fronts, military, political and economic.

Terror Activities in Europe

In what could be considered as a direct or indirect impact of Daesh’s setback in Syria and Iraq, the terror outfits activities continue to be on the rise in a few European countries. This is not a new phenomenon as the continent has already faced several brazen attacks since late 2015. During the last fortnight of April, France again witnessed an act of terror which was claimed by Daeshwhile another terror plot was foiled in the United Kingdom. On 21 April, a French policeman and two other were wounded when a gunman opened fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle in Paris’s Champs Elysees area. Without any delay, Daesh, through its media agency Amaq, praised the attacker as one of its “fighters”. The assailant, identified as Karim Cheurfi, was also known as “Abu Sayef, the Belgian”, according to the statement released by the outfit. He was a known figure to the police as he was reportedly arrested in February 2005 for crimes. This attack happened just ahead of the French presidential elections wherein issues such as immigration policy and security, remained two of the most important agendas for the contenders. A couple of days earlier, two men were arrested in Marseille with weapons, explosives and Daesh flag as they allegedly prepared to disrupt election campaigns of one of the candidates. Similar threats loom large in London despite beefing up security arrangements in the wake of the attack in Westminster vicinity on 22 March. In the evening of 27 April, a terror plot was foiled with the arrest of a man carrying knives. Subsequent counter-terrorism operation led to further arrests of people on the “suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of terrorist acts”.

These incidents highlighted looming threats from motivated individuals inspired by terror outfits such as Daesh operating in Europe. They have become a major challenge for the security establishments which are performing their tasks under difficult circumstances, particularly due to the low-lying nature of these individuals. This fits well to the growing instances of nexus between criminals and terrorists in Europe where the former are, once again, becoming an effective conduit for illegal arms, finance and terror-related logistical supports. Given these, it seems that Daesh, its returnees and radicalized sympathizers/supporters still retain capacity for inflicting damages in the Western countries.

Internal Security

NIA Secures First Conviction in ISIS Related Case

The NIA Special Court, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi on 21.04.2017 convicted two accused persons namely 1) Sheikh Azhar-ul-Islam age 24 years and 2) Mohammed Farhan Shaikh age 25 years, on charges of criminal conspiracy of terrorist acts, membership of terrorist gang / organization, supporting their activities and raising funds for the terrorist organization in the ISIS related case. The Court awarded punishment of 7 years of RI and fine to both the accused persons. In this case NIA had registered an FIR on January 1, 2016 and arrested three accused on January 29, 2016 on their arrival from Abu Dhabi the previous day. Charge sheet was filled on July 26, 2016. The accused pleaded guilty of criminal conspiracy, acting as a frontier group of ISIS for inciting, inviting and facilitating people of different nationalities to leave their respective countries and travel to Syria to support furtherance of the activities of ISIS.

The NIA, during the investigation, had established that the accused persons, in connivance with others known and unknown associates in 2014-15 had hatched a criminal conspiracy to propagate ideology, recruit persons, raise funds and facilitate the travel of such recruited persons to Syria to join the ISIS and further its activities. They were actively involved in perpetuating, promoting and propagating ideologies and terrorist activities of the ISIS, promoting unlawful activities and terrorists activities of the ISIS by exhorting, inciting, luring and influencing others to become members of this organization by disseminating incriminating contents including sharing comments, pages, videos, images, literature and openly endorsing, justifying and glorifying the terrorist acts of the ISIS. They had also raised, collected and received funds in the UAE and transferred it to their associates in India, Philippines and Tunisia to facilitate their travel to Syria to join ISIS. The third chargesheeted accused Adnan Hassan, resident of, Bhatkal, age 36 years, will face trial which is scheduled to commence from June 06, 2017.

10 Suspected ISIS Activists Held in Well-Coordinated Operation

In a well-coordinated joint operation conducted by the Police ATS teams of Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, four suspected terrorists belonging to the ‘Khorasan’ module of ISIS were arrested on April 20, 2017. Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad and the Delhi Police Special Cell on April 20, 2017 arrested three suspected terrorists from Jalandhar, Mumbai and Bijnor. Those arrested are suspected to be part of an ISIS module that was looking for potential recruits in Bihar, UP and Maharashtra. During interrogation it was revealed that the accused were planning a major terror attack in India. Important incriminating documents were seized from then relating to ISIS activities.

India Requests US for Extradition of David Headley

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has made a fresh request to the United States on April 21, 2017 for the extradition of David Coleman Headley and Tasawwur Rana for their involvement in the planning and execution of the terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008. This issue was raised by the NIA during their interaction with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on April 04, 2017. The NIA pointed out that a US court had found Rana guilty of providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which had organized the attack in 2008 but till now Rana has not been tried for his offences registered in India for forgery and criminal breach of trust. It was the highest level FBI official visit to India since former director Robert Mueller’s visit to India in 2011.

Maoists Ambush CRPF Patrol in Sukma

CRPF personnel of the 74th Battalion, deployed in the dense forests were ambushed by a group of about 300-400 Maoist cadres on April 24, at Kalapattar near Burkapal area of Sukma district, Chattisgarh. In the ambush, one of the worst in recent times, 25 CRPF men were killed and 6 injured. The ambush happen when the CRPF team was deployed to secure an under-construction road project in the southern part of Sukma district. It may be recalled that in a similar attack in March this year, 13 CRPF men were killed while on road-opening mission on the Injeram-Bhejji stretch, located around 60KM from the spot where the ambush happened on April 24, 2017. In 2010, 76 CRPF were killed in Sukma in a Maoist attack.Over the last three years, road-building activity in this area has seen 11 exchanges of fire, 18 IED blasts, three civilian deaths in explosions, and the recovery of 16 IEDs.

Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi held security reviews with the senior officials of CRPF and conveyed unhappiness over the ground situation and that “no lessons were learnt” after the March 11 attack in Bhejji. The Union Home Ministry has also called for an urgent review of Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) since road opening parties had been targeted in the past as well. One point highlighted in the recent naxal attacks in Chhattisgarh was minimal support coming from the state police.