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10 lessons we can learn from the Pathankot attack

Counter-terror ops to protect India’s largest operational airbase near Pakistan spilled over three days and raised several questions about how prepared we really are in such instances.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2016 08:43 IST
HT Correspondent
Pathankot

Counter-terror ops to protect India’s largest operational airbase near Pakistan spilled over three days and raised several questions about how prepared we really are in such instances (AFP)

Counter-terror ops to protect India’s largest operational airbase near Pakistan spilled over three days and raised several questions about how prepared we really are in such instances.

Since the pre-dawn attack on Saturday, National Security Commandos (NSG) commandos, police and the army attempted to corner and flush out the militants, two of who seemingly held the last line of offence for over 36 hours. Hindustan Times spoke to security experts to find out the key learning from the incident.

More men on the border

In Jammu and Kashmir, a BSF company (about 100 men) guards an average frontage of 2.75km. In Punjab it covers 5.6km, underlining an urgent need of more men and equipment on international border.

Strengthen intelligence

Garner more real-time actionable inputs, especially from human sources. Also need better-trained officers to glean such intelligence more effectively.

Bust the narcotics route

Thriving cross-border drug smuggling network is suspected to be providing an extensive logistics support to terror outfits based in Pakistan.

High-value systems

As militants in the region are increasingly targeting defence bases, special plans and sophisticated force are required to ensure fool-proof security.

Better training

Terrorists are known to improvise. Every counter-terror operation is a new learning curve. Training designs need to be constantly upgraded.

Correct information

Declaring the operation’s success even before it got over was a public embarrassment. A unified command centre for media briefing is needed.

A clear structure

For operations involving multiple security agencies like the NSG, army and police, a clear command and control structure can check any gaps in coordination at an operation level.

Bridging the gap

Experts pointed out huge gaps in vigilance, planning, coordination and counter-terrorism force application during the operations.

Bolster air surveillance

Air surveillance on Punjab and Jammu borders is currently done more on a special basis. A routine arrangement can act as a better scanner and plug the loopholes.

Security audit

A thorough security audit, in a time-bound manner, at all vulnerable military installations would work to address lacunae in the existing security architecture.

(HT spoke to former army chief General Ved Prakash Malik, strategic affairs experts Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retd), former NSG chief Jayanto Narayan Choudhury, Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd) and some serving Punjab Police officers)