VIF Digest: Defence, National Security and Terrorism (Vol 1 Issue I)

Oct 16-31, 2017


INS Kiltan ASW Stealth Corvette

INS Kiltan (P30), third Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) stealth corvette (Kamorta Class) was commissioned into the Indian Navy by Hon’ble Raksha Mantri at Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam on 16 October 2017. Regarded as a very prestigious acquisition, INS Kiltan is one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in India. With the changing power dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region, INS Kiltan will augment the Indian Navy’s Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilities in the region.

Bangladesh Navy Ship Somudra Avijan Visits Vishakhapatnam

Bangladesh Naval Ship (BNS) Somudra Avijan arrived at Vishakhapatnam on a four-day goodwill visit to the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) on 16 October 2017. Prior to the arrival, the ship carried out Passage Exercise which included naval manoeuvres in the Bay of Bengal. The Bangladesh Navy ship was accorded a warm reception by officials from the ENC and the Eastern Fleet. BNS Somudra Avijan, is a part of Cadet Training Squadron with 60 cadets embarked on-board for sea training. During the stay in Vizag, a variety of activities including professional, cross deck visit, sports fixture and social interactions were conducted for the crew.

Indian Navy Ships Visit Jakarta, Indonesia

INS Tir, Sujata, Shardul, and Indian Coast Guard Ship Sarathi visited Jakarta, Indonesia from 18 to 22 Oct 2017. The visit was aimed to expose the trainees to the conduct of Indian Navy warships in foreign waters, port familiarisation and to foster bridges of friendship between the two countries. The ships belonged to the First Training Squadron of the Indian Navy. The visit of the ships coincided with the visit of Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C), Southern Naval Command, which is the Training Command of the Indian Navy. On 18 Oct, the FOC-in-C called on the Vice Chief of Staff, Indonesian Navy and discussed matters of mutual interest to both the countries.

Exercise INDRA - 2017: Indo-Russia Joint Exercise

Giving the Indo-Russian defence cooperation a major boost, Exercise INDRA-2017, the first ever Tri Services Joint Exercise between Indian and Russian Armed Forces was conducted in the Eastern Military District of Russia from 19 to 29 Oct 2017. The year 2017 marks a major milestone as this Exercise has been upgraded to involve all the three Services of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force), which further accentuates the importance of joint services in the present world environment. Exercise INDRA-2017 was conducted at the 249th Combined Army Range Sergeevisky and in the Sea of Japan near Vladivostok. The Exercise provided an opportunity to the armed forces of both countries to train in counter terrorism operations in a multinational scenario in a joint tri service environment.

Bi-Annual Naval Commanders’ Conference

A four day Naval Commanders’ Conference was conducted at New Delhi from 24-27 Oct 2017. During the conference, the senior leadership of Navy reviewed major operations, training and administrative activities undertaken in the last six months and deliberated the way-ahead on important activities and initiatives. Chairing the conference, Admiral Sunil Lanba, the Chief of Naval Staff, addressed the Naval Commanders. During the Conference, the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri, Chiefs of the Indian Army and Air Force and CEO, NITI Aayog addressed and interacted with the Naval Commanders. In his closing address, the CNS urged the Commanders to put in concerted efforts to realise the ‘way ahead’ arrived at during the deliberations on various agenda points and exhorted the Commanders to keep an unwavering focus on combat readiness at all times.

IAF Landing Operations on Agra-Lucknow Expressway

Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out major landing operations on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway, about 60 km west of Lucknow on 24 October 2017. A total of sixteen aircraft participated in the operation which comprised IAF’s frontline Air Superiority Fighters including the Sukhoi-30, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fighter aircraft. In addition, the IAF carried out drills in which Garud Commandos were inserted and extricated for ground operations, by the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft. This operation has boosted IAF’s capability to undertake unhindered operations even during non-availability of standard runways. It has demonstrated the expert flying skills of its fighter and transport aircrew and the capability of its ground crew in activating such expressway airstrips on short notice. Such activations of highway stretches all across India are planned to be practiced regularly by the IAF in future. These operations increase the flexibility in the use of Air Power. In addition, use of transport aircraft for quick insertion of forces for human assistance and disaster relief into civil area and Special Forces in case of contingencies has been validated.

India and France to Strengthen Bilateral Defence Cooperation

Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman received the French Minister for the Armed Forces, Ms Florence Parly, in South Block on 27 October 17. The two Ministers reviewed ongoing initiatives to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation as a key pillar of the strategic partnership between India and France. They also discussed regional and international developments of mutual interest.

Raksha Mantri Interacts with Industry Representatives on ‘Make in India’ in Defence Sector

Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman on 28 October, interacted with CII representatives consisting of Indian companies and foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) at a round table on energising ‘Make in India’ in the defence sector. Discussions focused on a wide range of issues relating to private participation in defence manufacturing, including matters relating to licensing, taxes and duties, speeding up of procurement processes, streamlining of the offsets regime and creation of a tiered defence industrial ecosystem with full integration and skilling of manpower in the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector. The Minister issued directions to the team of officers headed by the Defence Secretary for time bound action on key issues raised at the round table, including the resolution of licensing with the Ministry of Home Affairs, tax related matters with the Ministry of Finance, commercialization of technologies developed by DRDO and timely conclusion of procurement proposals.

Fourth Indo-US Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation

The 4th Indo-US Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (JWGACTC) comprising fourteen US delegates, led by Rear Admiral Brian Antonio, Program Executive Officer, Aircraft Carriers and seven Indian officials visited Goa from 29 to 31 October 2017. As part of JWGACTC, periodic meetings are held between the two countries for information exchange in the field of aircraft carrier technology under the ambit of Indo-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative. A visit to INS Hansa to witness aviation facilities including a demonstration of MiG 29K fighter aircraft and a 'Day at Sea' on-board INS Vikramaditya were organised for the JWGACTC.

Visit of Chief of the Air Staff to Vietnam

Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, Chief of the Air Staff, was on an official visit to Vietnam from 30 Oct 17 to 03 Nov 17. During his visit, he held bilateral meeting with top brass of the Vietnam People’s Air Force and Air Defence (VPAF) on security challenges in the current geopolitical scenario and to explore ways to deepen the defence cooperation further. The main focus of the visit was on improving bilateral relations, promoting defence ties and evolving steps to further strengthen defence cooperation between the two Air Forces.

Indian Air Force Contingent to Participate in ‘Ex Blue Flag-17’

A 45-member contingent of the Indian Air Force left for Israel on 31 October 2017 to participate in exercise ‘Blue Flag-17’. Blue Flag is a bi-annual multilateral exercise which aims to strengthen military cooperation amongst participating nations. This is the first time the Indian Air Force is operating with Israeli Air Force in a multilateral exercise setting. Exercise Blue Flag gives opportunity to the IAF to share and learn best practices with some of the best professionals from other Air Forces.

Internal Security

Jammu and Kashmir

Terror Module busted in Valley, Three Arrested

In an intelligence-based operation, security forces in coordination with J&K Police, busted a terrorist module in Kulgam district on October 16, 2017, arresting three extremists. In an official statement, the J&K Police said that out of the three, two belonged to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and one was from Hizbul Mujahideen. Preliminary investigation suggests that these three were over ground workers providing logistics support to these terrorist organisations. The LeT network is widely spread across the valley and J&K Police have confirmed on October 28 that their constable Isfaq Ahmad Dar has also joined the ranks of LeT. His joining the ranks of militants is third of its kind of switch from security personnel to militants.
Uttar Pradesh

300 Pakistani Nationals Missing in Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh Police (October 30, 2017), confirmed that about 300 Pakistani nationals were ‘missing’ in the state, apprehending that they might have come to visit their relatives and then vanished. Preliminary investigation suggests these missing people might be working as ‘sleeping modules’ for Pak based terrorist organisations, indulging in anti-national activities. Giving details of some of the missing persons, the statement clarified that 29 people reportedly went missing from Kanpur, 25 from Bareily, 22 from Meerut and 16 from Moradabad districts of UP.

Left Wing Extremism (LWE)

LWE Cadres arrested in Odisha and Chhattisgarh

During the combing operation, Odisha Police arrested Communist Party of India-Maoists (CPI-Maoist) cadre at Elkanur forest area of Malkangiri district on October 15. Similarly, Chhattisgarh Police arrested CPI-Maoist cadres during the combing operation at Kanker District on the night of October 15, 2017. The CPI-M cadres were wanted in various naxalism related cases. During this operation, Chhattisgarh Police recovered three muzzle-loading guns, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) weighing two kilograms along with splinters, electric wire and extremist literature were recovered from their possession.

International Terrorism

Anti-Daesh Operations


The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recaptured the city of Raqqa on October 17, 2017. The SDF campaign which started on June 6, 2017, took 130 days to push the Islamic State (IS) fighters out of the city of Raqqa, though some reports suggest the possibility of a small number of militants still hiding in Al-Malab. Nearly 150-200 Daesh militants reportedly surrendered to SDF in the city of Deir Ezzor. Loss of Raqqa soon after being driven out of Mosul, is another major setback for Daesh which had long used the city as the de facto capital of its self-declared caliphate. It now holds only a fraction of the territory it once controlled. The Syrian Army has now intensified its campaign to recapture the city of Deir Ezzor located in eastern Syria, after successfully taking control of neighbouring cities of Arfy and Omal located close to Deir Ezzor.

The military campaign at Raqqa came at a heavy cost in terms of lives lost. Nearly 1000 civilians lost their lives in the US-led airstrikes. About 2, 70,000 residents were displaced during the campaign and thousands of homes were destroyed as a collateral damage.

With the military operation in Syria and Iraq entering its final phase, one should not rush to the conclusion that this should mark the end of Daesh or its ideology. The Daesh inspired attacks in Europe and the US strongly hint at a tactical transition of Daesh of going back to underground insurgency from where they had started. One of the major challenges likely to emerge, mainly in Europe and West Asia, would be to cope with the return of the foreign militants to their home countries or trying to relocate to new sanctuaries elsewhere. These returning militants may plan attacks in their respective locations.


With the recapture of the cities of Mosul, Tal Afar and Hawija, the Iraqi Government has officially claimed to be well poised to drive out Daesh completely. Millions of people who left their homes in different towns, have started returning. In certain areas, under secure environment, schools have started opening and nurses and doctors have resumed their clinics. People have vowed to rebuild the fallen main cities of Iraq. In an official statement, the Iraqi government stated that about 1,500 to 2,500 militants remain in western Iraq near the Syrian border and an additional 2,500 to 5,500 in the Euphrates River valley in eastern Syria. The coalition claimed that the territory controlled by the IS in both the countries had dropped from a peak of more than 40,000 square miles in 2014 to about 2,700 square miles today, split between Iraq and Syria. Troop redeployments in parts of Kirkuk and other areas of northern Iraq signifes the determined approach of the Iraqi government to established federal control over this region. The government has clarified from the beginning that it has not deployed army, counter-terrorism police and rapid deployment units to attack Kurdish citizens but to restore federal authority in this area that was under government control till 2014.

Worldwide, analysts are raising concerns that though the physical structure of the caliphate has fallen, the virtual caliphate still continues to exist. Post-Kurdish referendum, the conflict between Kurdish fighters and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) has shifted Iraq’s focus away from anti-Daesh operation. A Kurdish vote for independence last month prompted an Iraqi military campaign that has driven Kurdish forces out of almost all the contested areas they had held since 2014, including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk. With help from the United States( US), Iraq has continued mobilizing its troops in western parts for a planned assault.


Terror Strikes New York

The City of New York witnessed a major a terror attack (October 31, 2017) on the famous bike path along the Hudson Riverside on the West Street, Manhattan. A Daesh inspired driver plowed a pickup truck on the crowded bike lane. The rampage ended when the driver slammed into a school bus and jumped out of his van and ran up down the highway waving a palette gun and paintball gun when he was shot at by a Policeman and captured. In the incident, eight persons were killed and 11 injured. Based on a handwritten note recovered from the van, Federal agencies are prosecuting the attack as a Daesh inspired incident. The attacker has been identified as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, a 29-year-old immigrant from Uzbekistan, possibly connected with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The charge sheet of the trial was submitted in the US court on November 01, 2017.

Following the incident, US President Trump ordered stepped up vetting policy on immigrants through stringent investigative measures to identify extremists posing national security risk to the US. The recent trend analysis of the van rampage across Europe, UK and US suggests that after the fall of Mosul and Raqqa, Daesh militants and sympathisers might resort to guerrilla tactics and lone-wolf operations. It means the Daesh militants are going back to the point from where they started as a guerrilla insurgents.


Nigeria-Boko Haram Attack in Yobe

The military base in Sasawa town in Northeast Nigeria came under fierce attack (October 24, 2017). In this attack, one civilian was killed and several were injured. The spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Colonel Kayode Ogunsanya, confirming the attack said that casualty was recorded on both sides. Sasawa is a rural community located in the northern part of Damaturu and has been vandalised by the insurgents for last over five years; the attack on October 24, 2017, being the fourth this year. Battle damage assessment done by Nigerian forces had indeed revealed that the aerial attack set off a fire, causing damage to the Boko Haram structures within the settlement and neutralised most of the terrorists with a few of them fleeing the location.

Mozambique-First Islamist attack

Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), a new armed Islamist group carried out an attack (October 21, 2017), at a village Maluku, located 30KM from Mocimboa da Praia. This is believed to the first Islamist attack in Mozambique, though they suspect that the same group had launched a similar attack on October 22, 2017, at a village called Columbe, known as the petroleum hub of Mozambique. The local citizens said that the attackers were from the Al-Shabab but analysts believe that it is a group of local Muslims who refused to accept state health and education, refused to pay taxes and established a rebel group. Mozambique has a significant Muslim population along the northern coast, ranging from somewhere between the official figure of 17.8 percent to 30 percent. The local al-Shabaab – like Boko Haram in northern Nigeria – evidently objects to Western-style education and is aligned with the Wahhabi ideology.


Twin Terror Attacks in Kabul

Kabul was rocked a deadly twin attacks in which a total of 72 persons were killed on October 20, 2017. The first attack took place at Shi’ite Zaman Mosque of Kabul located in City’s western Dasht-e-Barchi district. The interior ministry of Afghanistan stated that nearly 39 people lost their lives in this deadly suicide attack. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on a Shiite mosque in Kabul. In a statement, the terrorist group claimed it targeted “polytheists”, a derogatory term that it uses to refer to Shia Muslims.

The second attack took place at a Sunni Mosque in central Ghor Province where a suicide bomber killed 33 people. In the statement, the Provincial Governor of Balkh confirmed that the attack was targeted at a local leader from Jamiat Political Party. Though no group has claimed the responsibility for this attack, it also appeared to be Daesh inspired.


Karachi Grenade Blasts
The port city of Karachi in Pakistan faced two grenade blasts in which at least 38 people were killed. These twin grenade attacks took place within minutes in the Mastung and Gwadar districts. No group have claimed the responsibility for this terror attack.

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