The action by Indian special forces across the Line of Control (LoC) on the intervening night of September 28 and 29 definitely meets the standard definition of surgical strikes.
Commando teams entered the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), bypassing the enemy minefields, patrols, listening posts and forward defended localities (FDLs). They went straight to the jihadi staging posts, causing casualties and destroying infrastructure without any counter-casualty.
After getting training, jihadis are brought to these camps located nearly 30 km from the LoC and get operational briefing about targets and carry out rehearsals, only to wait for an opportune time to infiltrate across the LoC.
These camps have been identified and kept under watch by Indian human and technical intelligence.
It must be emphasised that the Indian Army’s special forces, infantry battalions and an army-manned special unit functioning under the external intelligence agency had been conducting raids, strikes and ambushes in Pakistani-held territory since the late 1990s.
ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) handlers and locals who guided the terrorists across the LoC as well as potential infiltrators had been targeted, causing disruption in infiltration programmes. After a number of civilians had been killed by the Lashkar-e-Taiba in remote areas of Doda in 2006, a retaliatory strike was carried out in the POK. Pakistani handlers forbade such massacres henceforth. These strikes were launched by two special forces units — 4 Para attacking from the area of responsibility of 15 Corps and 9 Para operating in the territory opposite 16 Corps. The operations were timed to take advantage of the dark and the fact that the terrorists in the launching pads were likely to infiltrate across on the moonless night of the September 30. A political consideration was to isolate Pakistan in the UNGA.
These operations, owned up by the government as they are, are likely to bring about a paradigm shift in how we conduct counter-insurgency operations in the future. While operations in the hinterland and anti-infiltration measures have brought about a sea change in the environment, publicising cross-LoC strikes will have their effect on Pakistani support for the insurgency.
Chandimandir Riding School an example
Even after the abolition of horsed cavalry and pack artillery, the Army continues to promote equitation. This is because being a risk exercise, horse riding promotes character-building. Besides, that is from the recreational aspect involving polo and equestrian sports. The Western Command HQ has been doing a fine job of running a well-developed riding school at Chandimandir for over a decade. Based on animals from 876 Animal Transport Company which provides logistic support to troops on the Himachal-Tibet border, the school now has six horses and 26 ponies.
Excellent facilities have been created, including a riding school, dressage arena, jumping lane with an international standard, show jumping set and a cross country track. Instruction is given by qualified instructors from the Army Service Corps (ASC).
Provisions also exist for practicing polo and tent-pegging. The membership isn’t confined to officers alone as junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and jawans are members too. In fact, 32 children of JCOs and jawans ride regularly along with around 40 wards of officers. Major Deepti, the efficient in-charge of the Triveni Riding School as it’s called, told me that riders from the club have won over a hundred medals in national and local competitions. Being able to ride for very nominal fee is part of the pleasures of service life.
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