General Jagbir Singh Cheema recently took over as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Information Systems and Training). In this capacity he coordinates capability building of the army in terms of training, communications and information systems. Earlier he had commanded XI Corps the pivot formation in Punjab where he had a long string of achievements including recasting operational plans and providing enhanced facilities to veterans. The general belongs to Jangpur, Ludhiana district.
This is one of the Quinsap villages around Jagraon from where the Bengal Sappers recruited in large numbers. His father retired from the group as an honorary captain. Cheema first came to notice as a captain leading the Sikh Regiment contingent in the 1985 Republic Day parade. The regiment, bruised by the traumatic events of the previous year was determined to showcase its professional excellence. Young Cheema did not let it down. In NDA and IMA he had excelled in sports. He earned blues in cross country in both the institutions and was declared best athlete in the latter institution.
Jagbir has commanded his battalion, 10 Sikh on the Line of Control (LoC), an infantry brigade again on the control line in a high altitude environment and a mountain division forming part of the army headquarters (AHQ) reserve with wideranging operational roles. Professional courses done by him include staff college, long defence management and National Defence College (NDC).
He has served on the general staff dealing with operations, planning, intelligence and training at all levels from brigade to AHQ. As chief of staff of an operationally committed corps, he set down ‘Turbulence to Stabilisation’ the history of proxy war in Kashmir. Operational experience includes command of a company on the Siachen Glacier and an Assam Rifles company in Kashmir. Cheema is a soldier whom the greatest Indian commanders like Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and Harbaksh would’ve paid the supreme accolade, ‘I would like to have him with me in war’.
NEW STRATEGY TO TACKLE J&K TROUBLEMAKERS
Napoleon once said, “In war morale is everything”. What he meant was that one seeks to motivate one’s own troops by uplifting their spirits at the same time using psychological operations to undermine the enemy.
Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s recent caution to stone-pelters and others who seek to obstruct counterinsurgency operations must be seen in this context. Though politicians have taken umbrage at his statement, in my view he has correctly warned overground workers of insurgents.
A new, proactive strategy to tackle troublemakers which draws on the experience of British troops in Northern Ireland takes this beyond the ambit of a mere morale-lifting exercise however.
To ensure the best coordination between the security forces, joint mobile control rooms will be set up at the scene of active operations. While the army, paramilitary forces and the police’s special operation group will tackle terrorists, the police will make sure crowds don’t gather.
If mobs do concentrate the police will disperse them with warnings, persuasion, guile and failing that with weapons best suited against unarmed people – teargas, batons. Civil administrators will become hands-on to prevent the assembly of terrorists’ collaborators by imposing prohibitory orders and other administrative measures. Such collaborators will be identified by the police who will take legal action against them.
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