Between Mr Doval and the deep blue sea - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 4 January 2016

Between Mr Doval and the deep blue sea

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 5th Jan 16

This title, borrowed from a comment posted by @ajith27 on Twitter after the Pathankot attack, accurately sums up Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s current predicament. His bold opening to Pakistan last week, which shifted the moribund peace dialogue from the morgue to intensive care, depends upon peace --- both on the Indo-Pakistan border, and in the relative absence of terrorist strikes originating from Pakistan. But National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval’s inept handling has transformed what should have been a short, intelligence-driven, counter-terrorist operation into something that increasingly seems like a debacle. For the peace dialogue to continue, India cannot afford to gift an aura of success to the terrorist “spoilers” who will inevitably follow up with further strikes. If only for our own sake, India must competently defend itself.

Providentially, the jihadis who entered Pathankot Air Base and killed seven security men and injured another 20, have not achieved their main aim --- which was clearly to derail the peace dialogue even before a preliminary meeting between India’s and Pakistan’s foreign secretaries in mid-January. If talks remain on track, it is because both sides have demonstrated unusual restraint. Mr Modi blamed the incident on “enemies of humanity who can’t see India progress”. And Pakistan’s foreign office condemned the terrorist attack and proposed to “partner with India… to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting our region.”

Yet, it was a close run thing. Had the terrorists inflicted mass casualties in the family lines, or entered the technical area and blown up some fighter aircraft, India’s forbearance would have been seriously strained. By good luck, India’s intelligence agencies were forewarned on Friday, the day before the attack, by telephone calls the terrorists foolishly made to Pakistan. This intelligence, which went straight up to the NSA, provided precious hours to beef up security at potential terrorist targets --- a list headed by the Pathankot Air Base. The means for this were readily available from the nearby Pathankot cantonment, India’s biggest, which houses two infantry divisions and two armoured brigades (over 50,000 troops). Yet, when the NSA met the army chief on Friday, he asked for only two columns of soldiers (some 50 troops). Intent on directly controlling what he anticipated would be a walk in the park, and without anticipating that there might be more than one group of terrorists, Mr Doval led with his trump card --- he ordered 150-160 National Security Guard (NSG) troopers to be flown down immediately from New Delhi. The army was placed on the side-lines.

In effect, knowing that armed terrorists were prowling the vicinity, the NSA left the Pathankot Air Base in the hands of Defence Security Corps (DSC) jawans; a handful of air force Garud commandos, and the NSG contingent. The DSC, composed of retired military veterans well past their prime, can hardly repulse a well-equipped and motivated terrorist suicide squad. The NSG is not a first responder, and is neither trained nor equipped to protect sprawling air bases; it is meant for pinpoint operations like hostage rescue or flushing out terrorists holed up in a house. As for the Garuds, even the air force has not been able to adequately clarify what they are meant for. The army, which flushes militants out of large forests everyday in Jammu & Kashmir, was given a peripheral role. Only when things started going wrong was the army asked for more troops. Although six army columns (150 soldiers) were eventually deployed, it was never in command of the operations.

It is revealing that not a single Pathankot casualty is from the army. The hapless DSC jawans took most of the casualties. The NSG took unacceptable losses, including an officer killed from a booby-trapped terrorist body. The army knows this ploy well and approaches terrorist bodies in J&K with caution, knowing the jihadi’s dying act could have been to activate a grenade and lie on it.

But in New Delhi, the flawed initial allocation of resources set the stage for further bumbling. Eager to crown Mr Doval with credit, even before the operation was done, his cultivated troupe of journalist cheerleaders began tweeting his brilliance. A sample tweet: “Ajit Doval take a bow. Superb counter action, moved NSG on Fri(day) brilliant synergy…”. Another tweet: “Hats off to those in nat(ional) security/int(elligence) op(eration)s/military/Punjab pol(ice) who haven’t winked in past 24 hours to exterminate the vermin 4rm (from) across.”

Perhaps taken in by this drivel, which was being corroborated by credit-seeking air force commanders on the ground, top political leaders joined the premature victory chorus. Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted at 6.50 p.m. on Saturday: “The nation is proud of its brave security forces who have always rose (sic) to the occasion. I salute our forces on successful operation in P’kot (Pathankot)”. At 9 p.m. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar joined him in saluting the martyrs. At 10.05 p.m. on Saturday, the prime minster tweeted with finality: “In Pathankot today, our security forces once again demonstrated their valour. I salute their sacrifice.”

It took just a few bursts of terrorist fire in Pathankot on Sunday morning for these sonorous statesmen to be unmasked as national security amateurs. Stepping in to explain the continuing casualties that day, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi --- clearly a votary of the police tradition of throwing troopers into action without training or equipment --- declared the Pathankot attack was not a security lapse, because “when weapons are in use, [a] few security personnel are bound to be injured.”

This attack comes on the heels of dialogue resumption, exactly as predicted by analysts in both India and Pakistan. It underlines the fact that New Delhi’s penchant for calling off talks in response to a serious terrorist strike provides an attractive incentive to jihadi groups to launch such strikes. After all, terrorist groups stand to lose the most from improved Indo-Pakistan relations. New Delhi must state clearly that it will continue talks through even the most heinous terrorist attack --- and through the inevitable Indian response that will follow such an attack. Currently, the possibility of an Indian military response against terrorists does not deter them, since this capability is not evident. If Mr Doval wishes to provide real options to his boss, he must stop dabbling in day-to-day intelligence operations and, instead, coordinate the development of strike options that are a viable alternative to stalling the dialogue (yawn from Islamabad) yet again.


  1. Dis is a really gud article .But Do you think iaf commanders would have let army head search and cordon operation?and wat abt technology inferiority and breech of protocol(lack of protocol).Death of our brave soldiers should not make us proud but shame dat we can't protect our brave sons.Still Indian military think soldiers as cheaply available resource.

  2. Yes i think Col Shukla is the most Qualified NSA for this country. It is very easy to critique the actions of people on the firing line. but i guess writing is far more easier and safer job.
    A wide section of defense intellectuals/ experts believe that there is not a single person more qualified/experienced than Mr doval to serve as NSA.

    But our dear col shukla would have none of it. For him the sheer fact that the current government has given a more mature response to the attacks(as compared with 26/11) is INTOLERABLE.

  3. Its an eye opener because what was reported by the media was completely different

  4. Brilliant analysis, i was also listening to Mr. shukla on NDTV, it does make absolute sense whatever he said, this incompetency of so called supercop ( failed negotiator of kandhar crisis) made us laughing stock, 3rd largest army and it takes 3 days to counter 6 terrorists. This personal ambitions of these chaps will lead us no where.
    Thanks for this analysis.

  5. another piece of drivel by the gloried dynasty pimp..
    my only question the hell on earth do you know the sequence of events in delhi & what happened in pathankot ?
    did you ever serve in you got time from your cushy armour job ?

    almost every line in the article is baseless & devoid of any source ...reason or logic..
    hell when you say air force officers wanted credit, you only expose your mindset..thank god people like you don't go beyond commanding units..i wonder what you would have done in pathankot..

    get up & stop throwing muck around.
    dsc is this..nsg is that..police cant do that...what the hell have you done in service ?
    or, what are you doing now..asking for command vacancies for your arour cohort ?

  6. Some thing i pondered on after Pathankote fiasco.......what plagues my imagination wld label me a dumb ass, never the less i wish to use this opportunity to banter with you.................................. 1: The amount that our country has spent on counter terror methods n operation wld have been sufficient to have made a wall just like Israel has. 2: It is becoming more n more evident that stooges are spread right across political, civil as well as security classes. 3: How maniacally ironic that we have to use three to four different types of counter forces...NSG, Army, BSF, Police, Intelligence. just to flush n eliminate a handful sum of terrorists. If a country like Pakistan has been able to flirt wid our security time n time again and each time make us look like fools to make us count our martyrs. We still are not in a position of control the neighbour and it knows that damn well. 4: is India fast becoming immune to such intrusions ? Supposedly yes since such incidents only promotes TRPs, Political non sense, and candle lights and nothing gets done at a later date till another incident. 5: Should India not use the same method like our neighbours and weaken their cores ? I think it's high time and i am sure no one in the world will give a blink worth it since Pakistan takes morning walk in our back yard and not a single country has imposed any sanctions becoz of their using so called out of state mechanism. 6: is it time for India to seriously consider Martial Governance or at least the similar model like Pakistan where in no one but the Army decides security and intelligence operations and also produces, proliferates, trains non state actors. 6: Finally how long do we keep our diplomacy ? rants of "cut of ties wid Pakistan, stop talking to dem fly of media's table but each time the media chooses to invite Pakistan's "experts" to a discussion table......all is so ironical.

  7. Dear Ajay ji,

    You suggest the army should have been called from Pathankot cantonment because of their experience and Garuda air force commandos and the NSG commands are not good. It seems like an "army guy" talking instead of an analyst. Let me explain.

    NSG moto in their website states "tackle all facets of terrorism in the country". The NSG has an SAG group which is drawn from the army and are on deputation. This means that either military personnel joining the NSG are not good enough or the training imparted to them is not adequate. If it is either it needs to be fixed.

    Does this mean that the training or experience gained from the army operations have not been formally incorporated in all the commando units? This suggests that proper documentation and subsequent implementations of the suggestions are missing.

    As for the rest of the article, it is based on a unverifiable assumption and tweets. I expected better.


  8. i often wonder ,how can a bureaucrat or policeman be a NSA of the country?? An IPS officer is basically a policeman by training......he is not simply trained on security issues vis a vis his military counterparts.....because that is not his primary job!.After all, bulk of the strategic assets are held by the armed forces. Agreed ,national security has many dimensions....but the military dimension is a major part of the security it wars,Counter insurgency/counter terrorist ops, border management, nuclear issues, strategic reach, force projection,clandestine ops, how can a policeman or a bureaucrat foot the bill? they (babus/policemen) claim they know everything, but that's a different can a person who has never participated physically in a counter insurgency/terrorist operation become an expert on such matters? But this is india....anything goes!

  9. You have cut thru the jignostic smokescreen and laid bare the turf wars beneath all this chest thumping.
    Mr Doval has to realize that running intelligence networks/giving gyaan to the PM is not the same as micromanaging a gun battle on the ground.
    This should have been left to the guys best trained to do so -the Army which has at least 20 QRT teams in various regiments within an hour from the airbase were left as virtual bystanders whilst we waited 15 hours fore the NSG to arrive.
    But these turf wars was what the NSA exploited .The COAS should have stepped up to the plate but he didnt as he felt it was primarily the CAS's problem. The CAS didnt ask for the Army's support upfront because then otherwise how would he justify the existence of regiments of "crack" Garuds who all they seem to be doing is escort the Air Marshals in their Flag cars.The allegedly slothful Punjab Police after dithering for the first 12 hours, obviously got cold feet realizing this meant battle and casualties.
    So up stepped the NSA to the plate with visions of a Padma Bhushan on 26th Jan and launched his private army -the NSG.

    Whilst the Pakis must be laughing at our inability to bring closure to the attack even after 4 days, this incident must be investigated into , especially the Gurdaspur SP's story and the actions/inactions of the Punjab Police.

    To me, from a Defence point of view, it once again highlights the crying need for a CDS who could have coordinated the Service's response.

  10. Schedule talks - Terror strike - Talks postponed - 6 months/ 1 year - Schedule talks.....
    How many times have we seen cycle repeat and this will go on till we take some action to make the terrorists/Pakistan pay for this. We have become laughing stock for the world. It is high time we take some concrete step to make Pakistan feel the pain of continuing with its proxy war.


  11. so reassuring to see that not every commentator is swept away by jingoism and that there are sensible people who question why so many of our security personnel lost their lives instead of hailing their needless deaths as a "supreme" sacrifice as though it would not have infinitely more desirable if the terrorists had been apprehended or killed without there being any loss of Indian lives

  12. Excellent article Ajai. Makes total sense to ME and hope to others too. Hope it's true and lesson is learnt for future.

  13. At the outset, even to a layman like me with no military experience, the ongoing operation against the terrorists who attacked the Pathankot air base reeks of mismanagement, notwithstanding the sacrifices of the brave DSC, NSG and Garud personnel. For someone who is following the action unfolding on the TV set, there is almost a casual air about the proceedings, what with cars, military vehicles, sundry characters sauntering in and out of what we surmise to be the base entrance. The sight of so-called SWAT teams moving without basic protection of flak jackets and ballistic helmets, pot-bellied policemen posing for the camera peering behind trees, half expecting the terrorists to jump out anytime, it'd provide comic relief in a Bollywood film, if it were not for the serious situation at hand.
    My question to the authorities and I would like to pose it through your esteemed blog - when are you going to ditch the INSAS rifles and Sterling sub-machine guns? I'd definitely fancy my chances with someone who was armed with these antiquated weaponry if I were in the ultras' shoes and armed with the latest in AK series assault rifles with under barrel grenade launchers.
    The need of the hour is to arm the infantry and paramilitary with powerful assault rifles and side arms to take on these jihadists. So, also the need to equip them with bullet proof vests and ballistic helmets. At the risk of offending nationalist sentiments, I would not mind if the government buys first rate weapons and equipment from abroad if it will save the lives of our soldiers!
    Lastly, just imagine, if the intel about the jihadis' plan to attack was not received, who would have confronted them at the Pathankot air base - the poorly equipped and past their prime ex-soldiers, who form the DSC!!

  14. Such a elobrate operation was carried in a week's notice is it? Really?

  15. agreed, but what prevented the local Airforce Base Commander from seeking the help of the local army.?? they would have flushed out the terrorists in no time.

  16. Very well summed up. Nice Article.

  17. such a naive assumption about NSG from an expert
    The NSG took unacceptable losses, including an officer killed from a booby-trapped terrorist body. The army knows this ploy well and approaches terrorist bodies in J&K with caution, knowing the jihadi’s dying act could have been to activate a grenade and lie on it.

  18. Give the man some credit - his organizations did manage to get the intelligence in advance. Perhaps Doval did think through it.

    And just like you accuse others of premature congratulations, why not withhold negative judgment for a few more days?

  19. A Half Army man, dabbling with MNCs and earning commissions, anti establishment and paid Congi is challenging intellect and wisdom of Ajit Doval. You are sweet nothing to comment on NSA credentials.
    Have guts to publish my comments if you are even half of that Army guy which you claim.

  20. I see this as another case of chaotic inefficiency that pervades all government/public sector institutions in the country. Look at the CISF security personnel at airports; compare their casual dress and attitude to the disciplined look and behaviour in Thailand or Singapore. As we laud and pray for those who lost their lives defending our country, it is also time to pin down responsibility and ask ourselves how we can become a more disciplined nation.

  21. This article has explained very professionally what many of us could not understand.Looks the NSA has been given far too many roles, I mean internal and external security management.Time PM looks into this issue.

    Where is Defence Sect here.As per constitution of india, he is custodian of national security and finally Home Secty briefs the media.High time the govt took reorganisation of MoD seriously.

    RM packed off to Goa and had to return quite late to the next day meetings.

    Off all Cabinet Committee on Security affairs did not bother to meet only

  22. I don't care about the political shots that you are trying to take here.

    But, this is indeed a very stupid critic :

    "It is revealing that not a single Pathankot casualty is from the army. The hapless DSC jawans took most of the casualties. The NSG took unacceptable losses, including an officer killed from a booby-trapped terrorist body. The army knows this ploy well and approaches terrorist bodies in J&K with caution, knowing the jihadi’s dying act could have been to activate a grenade and lie on it."

    The NSG is aware of the traps as well, extrapolating the death of an officer (without having any privileged information about the details of how exactly it happened or the trap was set) to that of a bad policy decision is simply ridiculous.

    There are often so many factors in play, that there is absolutely no assurance that had the army taken a frontal role in managing the situation there would not have been any incidents.

    Also, most DCS personnel casualties occurred in a Mess/Canteen where people(cooks) were unarmed and not at alert.

  23. Is it a terrorist attack? Can this attack on a military asset considered as one?
    It is purely a military attack on a military installation. It needs to be treated as such and responded militarily.

  24. Mr Ajit Doval is brilliant anti terror strategist. His tenure has seen some very determined plots foiled. Although I agree that the execution of the anti terror ops in hindsight could have been detailed out much better but the main aim of destroying vital assets of the terrorists was thwarted successfully. Also, more importantly, the army units stationed at Pathankot are not the same as the well trained and coordinated counter terror grid guarding J&K terror zone.

  25. Hats-off to the 'professionalism'of our politicians and bureaucrats.

  26. Ajay: Your entire critique is presumed on some type of perfect intelligence available on number of terrorists, time and place of attack - which may not be that clear. Additionally do you have ANY proof that the base commander asked for these ops to be led by the SF and not the NSG?

    Also, BTW: The total number of NSG involved for 300, initial 150 flown in. Instead of being a pin prick, commend that fact that the NSA acted firmly, inter-departmental issues were minimized and NONE of the targets the terrorists came to achieve were averted.

  27. Mr Shukla agree u belongs to Army but it does not mean that you can presume and assume the war scenarios in office. You are undermining the capabilities of our NSG, Please if you don't know for what they had been trained why are you assuming that they are not trained for counter terrorist operations. They are trained for the same and Mr Duval has done a splendid job he doesn't need your certificate for the same we all Indians have eyes and we are watching this seriously. We don't need your such stupid opinions.

  28. Hello mr Lifafawala
    why not restrict yourselves to just simply summing up. leave about the troops and your theory which is not in good taste from any point of view. neither it sums up on theory of using the troops the other things which require a lot of practice for synergy in special force and military that will come when they learn from the mistakes
    and this type of incident will speed up the command set up which this govt is trying to do

  29. The question that riles is - why wasn't the army called in?

    They are the most experienced and capable responders when the s#%t hits the fan. They have well rehearsed drills in place - drills that have been perfected over the years fighting terrorists in the Northeast and in J&K. They have decades of experience fighting just this type of terror and they routinely neutralise terrorists in jungles and in urban scenarios in J&K in situations far more challenging and complicated than this. Why, pray , weren't they given the go ahead in the first place?

    What resulted is a half-baked effort with Punjab Police (who were mute bystanders - look at their pics on media , standing on the sidelines with hands in their pockets), IAF Garud what exactly is this force anyway, and WHAT do they do?) and NSG (specialised Counter Terrorists in a Hostage Rescue / Counter Hijack Scenario) all added to the hodge podge? The lack of clear directions and the obvious absence of coordination has led to such a high attrition- unnecessary loss of lives that needn't have been lost.

    Who had command of the situation - coordinating fire, locating the terrorists using drones, hitting them from the air , replenishing and stocking of arms & ammunition, night vision devices, batteries and all the impedimenta of war that is required in situations just like these?

    Who was monitoring the terrorists' phone/ wireless calls, gleaning intelligence if any, and providing it in real time to the person in charge so that action could be taken on them? Did anyone remember to record the phone/ VoIP calls that terrorists made to their handlers in Pak so that these could be presented to Pak (and the world at large) as irrefutable proof of the terrorist attack having been conceived, plotted and originated in Pakistan?

    Why did the news about Punjab Police SP's abduction by guys dressed in Army fatigues and speaking Urdu/ Punjabi (and using his cellphone to make a call to Pak) did not raise any red flags in the Punjab Administration? Is the Chief Minister asking any hard questions from his police chief? Whose failure was it?

    Are any heads rolling?

    Why did Punjab Police not inform the IB about the possibility of terrorists roaming in their backyard?? What did he do? Why is he still on his post? Why isn't the Chief Minister of the state which was once beset by the most virulent form of insurgency not posing some scathing questions to his police chief?

    Why did BSF not detect an intrusion from whichever Nallah that the terrorists sneaked into Punjab? Is the Home Minister asking any hard questions from his BSF chief ? Whose failure was it?

    Is the BSF Chief being sacked?

    Young (and not so young) Indians have all died fighting, bleeding to death over failures of the BSF, Punjab Police, Punjab State Administration and the Home Ministry (which was eager to tweet end of the operation when it had to retract it statement in a hurry)

    Will anyone be hauled over hot coals for their irresponsibility ?


    Because we're in the land of "Sab Chalta Hai" (It's business as usual)

    Chiefs of BSF, IB, Punjab Police will prosper and rise to become Ambassadors/Governors/Politicians while young men from the Armed Forces will keep bleeding to death, protecting the nation from an enemy that snuck in and managed to reach their intended target due to the glaring incompetence of these very gentlemen.

  30. All this while the Armed Forces will continue to fight with sub standard weapons, aircraft, eavesdropping equipment, and night vision devices (when even the terrorists have access to latest weaponry and sophisticated war paraphernalia) because the DRDO, Ordnanace Factories and the Defence PSUs , will keep the armed forces equipped with sub standard , 80's vintage equipment. However they will be expected to rout the enemy (and terrorists sometimes) with the same sub standard and vintage weapons and war equipment. Sweet !

    As George Orwell has observed somewhere ..."People Sleep Peacefully in Their Beds at Night Only Because Rough Men Stand Ready to Do Violence (and die)on Their Behalf"

    Sleep in peace - someone else is standing guard for you.

  31. Since the author of this blog is a Veteran of J and K Operations, I accept the well intended but rather blunt criticism.

    Things That were Spot on correct -
    1. While we all admire the NSA's enthusiasm and dedication in Counter Terror operations and his readiness to be involved. I think he should let the commander do their jobs and not try to himself become the De Facto command HQ.

    Recommendation : Form the National Counter Terrorism Center and within which the NSG or a component of it should become its sword arm. The Director of NCTC, must be from IB,Army,NSG,Navy and Airforce in rotation. Directors must have a rich counter terror related experience.

    NCTC itself should have regional commands which should form response forces consisting of Local police, state police, local IB units, Local Military units and NSG. They should have the ability to collect intel and conduct raids (IB and NSG) or in a pathankot like counter terror operation use all the assets in its command to form a mini Unified Command as done in JandK. They must conduct excersizes for these regularly, so every body knows their role and boss he is to take orders from.

    NCTC Director must be answerable only to a special Joint Body consisting of Home Minister, Defence Minister and the soon to be developed Chief of Defence Staff. No secretaries or IAS types to be included as a member.

    2. I hope the talks continue, and that the NSA and foreign Secy propose Joint Operations between State Police forces of both countries on both sides of the border. Example : Punjab Police(India) and Punjab Police(Pak). Starting Small like - Drug busts, Anti Human Trafficking raids to gradual low level terror suspects arrests, extortions etc.
    Any actions taken must be authorized by warrants from the local court of the land.

    I state police forces and not military or paramilitaries as the comfort level or chances of acceptance is much lower for militaries working together since they were born and bred to fight each other.

    Over time it will act as a force against illegal criminal mafias who peddle drugs,traffic children and commit violent crimes. At the same time it will become the greatest CBM. If there are successes both nations can celebrate together. If there is a loss both nations will grieve together.

    It will also ensure that action is taken as our cops will be witness. After 5-10 years, maybe we can graduate this to Joint anti terror operations if the first proposal is a success in normalizing relations.

    For all we know 15-20 years later, we may be in a state where India - Pak become like Russia and China in terms of relations and trade.

  32. NSR says ---

    Everyone is missing the important things that India does not have to deal with things like these well planned terrorism and tragedies...

    India urgently needs ---

    1. Joint Chiefs with full authority to deal with all services effectively and a sole source to deal with the elected government...Every service chief is like a king in India has very little interest in greater good...

    2. India and its states badly needs a American FBI like organization to coordinate and disseminate internal security situation...

    3. NSA should get out of the day to day operation and instead cede those powers to RAW,and Army, Air Force, and Navy intelligence group...

    4. Definitely wrong to not to use the BSF and Army to tackle cross-border terrorism and it shows in the death of Lt. Colnel....

    5. I think the story of that SP stinks to high heaven and too fishy...

    6. Pak Army and ISI is definitely involved in India and Afghanistan...

    Meet Pak FS and make terrorism as a condition for further dialogue...There are no other choices...Give PM Sharif a chance and let the world see what happens...

  33. I agree with the views of Colonel Ajay Shukla, who has given an impesonal analysis of action taken by NSA on the Pathankot terror alert. NSA happens to be Mr Ajit Doval, a good person and a great patriot, but not conversant with the battle drills which servicemen are used to. A serviceman, in his place would have acted differently and more effectively in this situation. I feel Mr Doval's duties should be immediately handed over to the seniormost service Chief, who should be the Combined Chief of Defence Staff. NSA should only talk to Def, Home or Prime Ministers. What should ideally have been done is being amply commented upon in social media. I am not sure what are the duties of AOC Pathankot Airforce? I know, the COO (Chief of Operations), the pilots and the ground crew should have been alert to strike an assigned targets...

  34. What stood out in the press briefings on the Pathankot terror attack is the manner in which the Home Secretary lorded over the conference and even more so, the sycophantic tone in which the Air Marshal who also spoke in the conference referred to the Secretary.What is it about the entire incident which the domain experts would not know better than the Home Secretary? Why does the HS speak at all ? Were civil servants not supposed to be faceless and silent? Is it not enough that the HM speaks, and spokespersons from the security agencies?/

  35. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr Shukla.A blatant case of mismanagement and incompetence.@rajendra easier for Mr Doval sitting in his lush Delhi office than Mr Shukla with his rough trench experience.You cannot fight a terrorist with a beaurcratic approach.You need a soldier.As long India will rely on these baboos of Delhi these unfortunate incidents will keep on happening and brave sons of motherland will be forced to make unnecessary and avoidable sacrifices.

  36. Oh dear the good Col throwing muck again and getting personal (under the veneer of "objective professional analysis). The rumour is Mr Doval has a file on you. Could this be the underlying motive behind this hack job.


  37. This article is a good one, author always brings in another angle in all the matter, I have a question. Who has direct command over NSG? Home ministry or NSA?, I think may be we should bring in another angle, like Home ministry just to take credit has rushed this ops?? just a thought.

  38. Following quote from Movie Ratatouille aptly fits this piece by Mr.Shukla
    " In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. "
    Most of your regular readers are aware of your political bias - and wont be misled easily by this smart attempt of yours.

    Only time will tell who has the last laugh.

  39. Hindsight is the best vision. Ajai Shukla ably demonstrates it. In hindsight, one can safely say that Shukla leaving the army was the biggest blunder on the IA's part in failure to retain him. Allah knows that had shukla remained in the army, Doval would not have taken the decision to bring the NSG into it and God knows Allah knows best.

    Pity the standards at Business Standard have not risen since the advent of Shukla. Obviously allah knew something we did not and allah knows best.

  40. There are certainly wide gaps; losing these many soldiers inspite of this level of prior information in unacceptable. At the same time you must acknowledge NSA'a efforts in strengthening the intelligence network, because of which we got this concrete intelligence.
    Yes army, trained in jungle warfare, is best when eliminating terrorists in jungle like terrain and using NSG in such situation is wrong. I believe NSA is intelligent enough to understand this and the decision to not call Army, instead of NSG, must be based on some factors.

    These terrorists happened to be trapped in marshy areas, where army does better, but if they were in a residential area or office, then NSG was more appropriate.

  41. NSG was called for minimizing the damage especially when there were several family quarters. Army is not equipment is sophisticate weapons that NSG has for hijack or captivity response. It is unfortunate that NSG lost a Senior Officer but then the reason could be shortcoming in training and inexperience. DSC is more for ID check... not necessarily for any combat operations. Not all army units are equipped as RR so calling in army is not an ideal solution. I am sure NSG would have discussed this with Army and Air Force chief. Who knows what the objectives were... one of the objectives of NSG could have been to catch at least one terrorist alive and that's why they took certain approach. The last couple of terrorist were found in family quarters which I believe only NSG has the right capability to handle. NSG has to do more than VIP security and this is the right kind of operation that falls in their mandate. It was good to see prompt deployment of NSG. This should be standard for any crisis like situation.

  42. economy... matters... most...

  43. Ajai,
    Beware, you have started sounding monotonous like Prof. Bharat Karnad and thats boring.
    I would suggest please hold your horses for the facts to come out and then post your blog.

    I hope you understand what I am trying to say.

  44. Mr Ajai Shukla -

    Can you please inform us where these NSG clowns come from? Are they some bumbling buffoons who get lost on the way to Post office and found themselves in the NSG camp where they were quickly given uniforms and a gun ? Surely they must be some lowly rabble and cannon fodder who barely know which end of the gun bullets come out of - forget about ever actually having met jehadis in battle or seen how anti-terror operations are done. Clearly, these clueless amateurs who should be cutting grass in the Pathankot cantonment and polishing the gate of the officers mess (of the "real" soldiers) there were needlessly given a silly title called NSG and abducted by our NSA from Delhi and released in Pathankot only to stumble drunkenly upon the terrorists only to run away screaming and wetting their pants. Perhaps that is why they were given "corpse duty" why the 50,000 Army soldiers in Pathankot where were chomping at the bit were held back by the NSA at gun point to prevent these "Warriors" from intervening in the pantomime that was the NSG's clumsy bumbling about in the Pathankot Airbase !

    Does this version sum up your narrative Mr Shukla ? OR was I being too generous to what you clearly believe to be a glorified weekend warrior club called the NSG ?

  45. This article is completely one sided. You need to express opinions not give judgements.

  46. We are in deep trouble. Pak is constantly succeeding, but stumbles on the goal line. We are waiting for the time when they don't. For a detailed analysis of India's Pak policy, read

  47. At least Mr. Dovsl is doing some pro active action
    Not like spineless predecessor.
    Hit or miss is part of the game.

  48. From the pathankot air base rumblings the following things very clearly emerges
    1. No formal organisation base seems to have existed in all these days of emergency at the air base. seems no briefing had been existed among the counteracting stake holders such as NSG,Air force and Army. also seems organisation defacto head ajit doval sir has exceeded his brief of advisory staff position, insted acted as fulltime action hero. this organisation failure allowed unarmed DSC guards as scapegoats neverthe less of their heroic deeds.

  49. I do not see what Col Shukla is getting so hot under the collar about. Looks like he has shot off his bolt before all the facts have emerged. It is now increasingly clear that intelligence input was received and acted on in a timely way with the deployment of the NSG. I can see that some sections of the Army are miffed at having been made to take instructions from the NSG, but with the risk of a hostage situation this was a correct decision - the Army Chief himself was sensible enough to let the NSG lead. It is also clear that the Air Force has much to answer for - the airbase had poor security, with ill-maintained fences and lights and - it now emerges - with air force men on the inside passing on information to the Pakistanis. I also do not see why we should worry so much about the operation having taken a few days to wipe out the terrorists - surely it was important to eliminate them rather than take on more unnecessary casualties.

  50. A good read article.thanks for another insight of the incident.

  51. What is Mr Shukla complaining about? The terrorists were killed, no aircraft were damaged and no civilians injured. So what if it took 3 days? The Indian intelligence agencies acted quickly on the information. Sure, some guys in the Army cannot stomach the fact that they had to take orders from the NSG (i.e. what they really mean is the IPS who head the NSG; actually the rank and file of the NSG come from the Army itself); and the Air Force looked silly with the gaps in the outer perimeter of the airbase. So lets fix what needs fixing rather than write silly biased articles before the facts are clear. What we hope to see in the weeks to come is the armed forces showing they have learnt from 26/11 and developed some capability of striking across the border at the guys who did this .....rather than look impotent in the face of the Pakistani nuclear deterrent.

  52. NSR says ---

    Col. Shukla

    Read the interview article presented in Business Standard and about the lack of CDS in India...and also for may points...that I have raised...

    Most of the security related issues have deep uncoordinated and too fractious at center and state levels...
    India badly needs a strong CIA and FBI like organizations to coordinate the collection of intelligence, surveillance, actions, etc

    Hope that you will take her ideas and turn them into good solutions for India...

  53. Unless one can positively prove that the NSA is dabbling into day to day intelligence operations, one mustn't make such uncharitable comments.

    Its actually spit and run tactics.


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