Army weighs retaliation for beheading of two soldiers - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 2 May 2017

Army weighs retaliation for beheading of two soldiers

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 3rd May 17

Top generals say the army has begun weighing its options for retaliating against Pakistani forces on the Line of Control (LoC), after Pakistani troops, employing jihadi extremists, killed and beheaded two Indian soldiers near Poonch on Monday.

Business Standard learns the incident took place when an Indian patrol of 8-10 soldiers was checking the border fence, a perilous task that involves physically moving along the fence, very close to the LoC, to check that it has not been cut or its electronic sensors damaged.

As per the modus operandi of Pakistani troops on forward LoC posts, the exposed patrol first came under intense fire from automatic weapons, which Pakistani soldiers had stealthily deployed in temporary positions, just across the LoC.

With two Indian jawans injured in the firing, a “border action team” (BAT), consisting of jihadi fighters, darted across the LoC to the border fence. Covered by Pakistan Army firing, the jihadis killed the two jawans, beheaded them, and returned to their side of the LoC, bearing the heads as trophies.

The employment of BATs is a well-rehearsed Pakistani tactic that creates deniability by using jihadis to cross into the Indian side. If any jihadis are killed or captured, the Pakistan Army disowns it as an infiltration attempt. Regular soldiers remain on their side of the LoC, firing on Indian posts and patrols to cover the BAT’s move.

A range of retaliatory measures are being weighed by India’s generals, including attacks by ground forces on Pakistani posts, or strikes by aircraft, missiles or massed artillery guns.

In Delhi on Tuesday, the army vice chief, Lieutenant General Sarath Chand, told the media: “Hamko kya karna hai voh ham yahaan bataana nahin chahte hain. Apni karyavahi ham apne aap karenge, at a time and place of our choosing” (I don’t want to give out here what we intend to do. We will take action at a time and place of our choosing).

On Monday, the army’s director general of military operations (DGMO) warned of retaliation in a phone call to his Pakistani counterpart. A defence ministry release stated: “DGMO Indian Army conveyed that such a dastardly and inhuman act is beyond any norms of civility and merits unequivocal condemnation and response”.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley also sounded a warning on Monday, stating: “The whole country has full confidence and faith in our armed forces, which will react appropriately to this inhuman act. The sacrifice of these soldiers will not go in vain.”

However, army sources emphatically rejected Indian media claims --- by India Today TV and Dainik Jagran newspaper --- that the Indian Army had already visited retribution; killing ten Pakistani soldiers in an attack.

Last September, the Indian Army had retaliated to a jihadi strike on an army post near Uri with multiple cross-LoC “surgical strikes” that are believed to have killed several jihadi fighters and a handful of Pakistani soldiers.

After another attack in November, the Indian Army secretly moved 155 millimetre Bofors guns into forward firing positions, destroying two Pakistani posts in a massed “fire assault”.

Even so, senior generals admit there are limitations on how much, and how often, Pakistani posts on the LoC can be punished, even in retaliating to an inhuman violation that involved mutilating Indian soldiers. Inadequate punishment fails to deter Pakistani violations, while an excess of punishment could set off a cycle of escalation that could spiral out of control.

Nor has the Indian military a tri-service plan for immediate retaliation to such incidents. This would involve pre-selecting Pakistan Army or jihadi targets, earmarking the aircraft, missiles, guns or Special Forces to hit them, and devising defensive measures for the inevitable Pakistani retaliation.

In what might be an unlinked development, the army on Tuesday test-fired a Brahmos land-to-land missile, demonstrating what an official release described as “the weapon’s unmatched lethality of hitting the centre of a designated target with ‘bulls eye’ precision.” The Brahmos would be an important component of any concerted Indian cross-LoC strike capability.


  1. Sneak up a battery of Pinaka and do the needful.

  2. The crux lies in this part 'Top generals say the army has begun weighing its options for retaliating against Pakistani forces on the Line of Control (LoC)'. If we start 'weighing our options' NOW, we're no good. Now, any action by India will become just another of the series of actions, by both sides, on LC. The time to call it as 'revenge' action is already over some 48 hours back. We'll do it at a time of our choosing is sheer nonsense. Place of choosing is fine.

  3. One day you write world is watching.
    Next day you write on retaliation.

    I think the NATO (and Russians before ) know the duplicity of Pakistan.
    Now China is using thus country to keep India bogged down (like N korea).
    It is incredible how a country cannot design a bicycle makes own nukes.

    We retaliate hard and continuosly . We should make it daily habit to pound a few posts , destroy them. Then pound them extra whenever dignitaries are visiting india or their generals/politicians are on a visit to PoK.
    Just don't give a damn. This once in a while attack won't help.

  4. WIth part time Defense minister nothing better can be expected. Their commitment can be seen from the fact that more that one year have passed Indian Army has not got their revised pay which all babus and mantries have got.

    No strategy No seriousness what so ever.

  5. Look at the difference, when IA raids and kill PA in a SUR-JI-KAL strike. Its all great. When they send over their BATS, its ohh what happened? why did they do this? what happened to all that brave talk of jaw for a tooth? Indians like talking brave. Pakistanis actually are brave. Just look at the reputation of the two people all over the world. Pakistanis are aggressive and like fighting. Indians on the otherhand generally keep quite and take the hits when they come their way. You see a version of this on LoC.

    As long as IA keeps killing Kashmiris, Pakistanis will always have a reason to take revenge for the Kashmiris. Think about it, when you are constantly being bullied, someone takes the bully down, how would that make you feel, seeing the bully hurting. Solve J&K and Pakistan will no longer have the reason to hold india's nose to the ground. What is also on their side is that the younger generation of Kashmiris are more like them.

    Many years ago I met a retired PA officer, he said if they could only get the Kashmiris to be more like the Pakistanis in temperament, after that they would no longer worry about IoK kashmir, because sooner or later they will leave india embrace.

    Maybe we can get our "gau bhakts" to be like their Jehadi's and use them on the LoC ratherthan killing innocent indians.


    1. Kunaal Gaikwad5 May 2017 at 01:02

      It is always easier to deal with real names rather than aliases, "Balwinder"! You are purportedly Indian but the tone and tenor of your message suggests otherwise!

  6. Alok Asthana is right. Options are derivatives of capabilities. Capabilities are build over a period of time. We never find ourselves prepared with multiple options in hand. We neither think and plan to generally keep Paki's head down; meaning we on the offensive and maintaining deterrence and moral ascendency. We could have achieved it in 70 years but for the civil-mil discord and constant fall of Armed Forces in national canvas.

  7. kunaal gaikwad4 May 2017 at 07:04

    The Pakistan Army should shed any pretensions of being a modern and professional force. It is a common knowledge that the Pakistani Army derives inspiration from medieval tyrants like Timur, Babur, Mahmud of Ghazni et al.They and their jihadi cohorts derive perverse pleasure in beheading dead Indian soldiers and carrying the severed heads as 'trophies'. This is a hark back to the Dark Ages when Timurid armies would behead dead/captive soldiers and pile the heads as a macabre monument of their victories. So, one does not have the answers really to tackle this regressive mentality of the Pakistani Army. No amount of fire assaults, surgical strikes can change this. What the need of the hour is to instil the fear of God in the Pakistani military jihadi establishment!

  8. I remember that Ajai you mentioned of a change in Pakistan's attitude on appointment of a new General. Saw now? You have egg on your face and blood on your hands. People read your opinions and are influenced. You make them believe that Pakistan sudhar raha hai. Pakistan cannot be shown any mercy. You show mercy to a duplicitous people, you get killed. Shame on you Ajai.

    RIP our brave soldiers.


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