The military is always chary of getting involved in law and order operations since these involve operating against its own people. The recent Operation Shanti Bahal launched by Western Command to restore order in Haryana is a case in point. Coordinated by the Ambala-headquartered II Corps some facets of these operations need explanation. Rohtak, the epicentre of violence lies actually in the area of responsibility of South-Western Command.
However the formation’s nearest units from the Hissar-based 33 Armoured Division could not be deployed in the affected areas because of a large roadblock at Meham. Attempting to remove it would’ve caused bloodshed that the army always balks at. Therefore the task fell on troops of Western Command’s 22 Division moving from Delhi. Impeded by road blockades they were ultimately moved to Rohtak by helicopter. Without their integral transport these troops found themselves being offered buses by the administration for area domination. Unwilling to carry out flag marches in civil buses they preferred to do so on foot. Troops from artillery and air defence units of II Corps ex-Ambala were also inducted.
Placards proclaiming the presence of the army were carried by troops undertaking flag marches in order to differentiate them from similarly attired paramilitary and police forces. This is a fallout of a long-standing demand of the armed forces that camouflage uniforms resembling theirs should not be allowed to be worn by other security forces.
Social media had it that contrary to rules, some units fired in the air to disperse rioters. Actually, a Garhwal Rifles jawan being set upon by stone-throwers fired a warning shot when his verbal caution was ignored. Contrary though it is to the service manual that dictates that firing must be for effect and not by using blanks or firing in the air, the young jawan’s action had the desired effect.
Gyan Chakra, the western command think tank
Western Command’s think tank, Gyan Chakra will be inaugurated on May 21. Currently, each service and the defence ministry has its own policy and a research institute located at Delhi. Setting up another one at Chandimandir aims to decentralise the formulation of military thought down to regional level with regard to the specific requirements of the theatre. Gyan Chakra should ideally make use of ample talent available in the tricity among veterans like Generals Oberoi, Panag, Harwant Singh, Rajendra Nath, Raj Mehta, JS Liddar, Brig Grewal and many others waiting to emerge as military thinkers.
Defence theorists feel that civilian experts in various disciplines of strategic affairs should be associated with the institution to achieve a balanced approach. A Red Team for study and analysis of existing and potential belligerents should form an integral part. Others have raised questions of continuity that can be resolved though institutionalising the think tank and putting it on a firm footing.
There’s also the matter of credibility and acceptance of recommendations among serving officers. A feeling prevails that existing think tanks have been reduced to debating clubs with no recognition of advice rendered. I take this opportunity to wish Gyan Chakra a meaningful existence.
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