Counter Insurgency needs a Population centric approach – staying power – “clear and hold” beats “search and destroy” – Provide security to locals to live their lives – fire power is no substitute for patience and ‘boots on ground’. Counter Terrorism, especially when sponsored from outside is war and needs effective military action.
Quotations for consideration:
“Courage takes two forms in War. Courage in the face of personal danger, whose effects are felt in the tactical sphere, and Courage to take responsibility, a requirement for strategic success” – Hew Strachan.
Such courage to understand the situation and take responsibility is what we should demand of our leaders in government. Calls for ‘knee-jerk’ responses to acts arising from long festering dissatisfaction are not the answer. Be prepared to deal with the circumstances comprehensively and understand that this may take more time and call for greater commitment than as it would seem at first sight.
Dealing with Domestic Insurgency:
The government must understand the worst case scenario of not acting appropriately and recognize that we need to have a proper and comprehensive military, political / social and economic
strategy to defeat insurgency. Then the government must decide what it is going to do – is it willing and going to do what it takes, or is it going to just react to incidents and get out. It should be clear on what it is that it is trying to accomplish and what resources it needs to commit to do it?
It is clearly the responsibility of the Police and the State/local law and order administration, coming under the Home Ministry, to deal with any domestic insurgency. The Military should only be called in to take command and act when it is deemed beyond the capability of the police and local administration to do so. It is thus in response to such a final call – when failure is not an option, and what needs to be done must be done as expeditiously as possible, that the Military steps in.
You need to have a good feel and understanding of the operational patterns of the insurgents. As Professor Eliot Cohen puts it – “Generals disagree, sometimes profoundly. Civilian leaders need to discover these disagreements, force them to the surface and probe them.” We need not only good Generals but the right ones, who are actually effective in counter insurgency.