The Indian Approach to COIN

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IRG member Chris Butler writes:

“An interesting monograph on COIN from an alternative perspective – the Indian one, lest we focus too much on Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Indian Approach to Counterinsurgency Operations
by Colonel Behram A Sahukar, The Parachute Regiment, Indian Army (retired)

The document comes to the following conclusions:

1. Indian approach to COIN has been a mix of political accommodation, economic development and the use of force.

2. Demands for secession or independence from the Union are put down firmly and not accepted. India is willing to wear down the insurgents until this demand is dropped or modified.

3. India is willing to talk to separatist groups and its neighbors even though they support cross border terrorism and insurgency.

4. While India is willing to create new states within the Union to accommodate ethno-nationalist aspirations and tribal boundaries, it is not willing to create additional states based solely on any one religion.

5. India has been very particular not to use indiscriminate force, aerial bombardment and heavy firepower in COIN despite its conventional and nuclear superiority in the region.

6. COIN operations in Kashmir have been very particular to minimize the impact on India’s 140 million moderate Muslims.

7. Despite proof of external support, India has always conducted its COIN within its own borders.

8. India COIN approach follows the strategy of ‘an iron fist in a velvet glove,’ adopting an aggressive military approach towards hard-core insurgents and a humane face towards the local population.

9. India’s COIN approach has been aimed at using the security forces to create conditions for a political solution to restore normalcy in the insurgency affected area.

10. Human rights and weaning the population away from supporting the insurgents is the major plank of India’s COIN operations. To achieve this a multi-dimension approach to include, people-centric civic action programs, economic development, perception management programs, cultivating a responsible media, training of troops for COIN operations, force modernization, good governance, the rule of law, accountability and transparency, diplomatic and international cooperation and support, and a functioning corruption free democracy form parts of the comprehensive Indian approach to COIN operations.

11. India has the capability to stay the course and fight an insurgency in a protracted low intensity conflict to wear down the insurgencies and its supporters however, it prefers to resolve the legitimate grievances and welcome its citizens into the democratic process as quickly as possible.

12. In Kashmir, the Indian approach has been based on three major thrust lines to wean away Kashmiri support to the insurgency and restore normalcy; first, cut off the insurgents from their support base in Pakistan and destroy them within India to provide security to the state, improve the socio-economic structure of the state by increasing development projects, ensuring good governance, and improving the daily life of the people ravaged by decades of insurgency and terrorism, psychological initiatives to win the hearts and minds of the people and initiate a genuine dialogue with all parties to the conflict restore India’s credibility within Kashmir and arrive at a just resolution within the Union.

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