Talk of command failure in army Pakistan intrusion raises questions A soldier stands guard on Wednesday close to the LoC in Poonch where the Indian soldiers were ambushed. (Reuters) New Delhi, Aug. 7: The killing of five soldiers in an area they were supposedly dominating has raised questions of a command failure within the Indian Army. Violence is now the norm â€” not the exception â€” on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. Only heavy artillery has not been reported to be used. Hours after the LoC killings on the night of August 5-6, on Tuesday (yesterday) afternoon, two more ceasefire violations were reported from Uri and Tangdhar â€” north of the Pir Panjal range but on the same frontage of about 120km on the western edge of the LoC â€” that has been lit up since early this year. Pakistanâ€™s director of military operations telephoned and talked of the ceasefire violation with the Indian DGMO this morning. In the seven months since January, heads have been slit, the boundary has been crossed by shadowy armed figures as well as by soldiers, and small arms and even mortar fire is reported almost every third day. Such are the incidents that today characterise what is called a â€œceasefireâ€ that was agreed in November 2003. It was against this background that the Northern Army Command was instructed by the chief, General Bikram Singh, after the beheading of an Indian soldier and the killing of another on January 8, to be aggressive on the undefined boundary. Commanders were also authorised to take localised retaliatory action and adopt more intensive procedures to safeguard their own as well as to dominate their areas of responsibility. While it is impossible to physically deploy a chain of soldiers along the 790-kilometre-long Line of Control, commanders were asked to step-up surveillance using night-vision equipment and also keep mobile reinforcements ready to back up small patrols â€” such as the six-man team that was attacked. As the army chief, General Bikram Singh, reviewed what happened on the night of August 5-6 in the Poonch sector where, according to the army, Pakistani soldiers and militants raided territory inside the LoC that is supposedly dominated by the 21 Bihar battalion based at the Sarla Post, questions on operational lacunae are now being delved into. Bikram Singh was initially slated to visit the 93 Brigade headquarters in Poonch but weather and the urgency in New Delhi to report to a defence minister who continued to be pilloried inside and outside Parliament for the second day running, forced him to return after being debriefed at Akhnoor. The army chief was given a report of the incident â€” based on the account of Sepoy Sambhaji Kute, the lone survivor of the ambush, â€” and the commanders of the 21 Bihar, 93 brigade, 25 division, the 16 corps and the northern army commander â€” the entire chain of command. There is little doubt within the army that the attackers were militants accompanied by Pakistan army regulars. But what is being investigated now is how could such a potent force come nearly half-a-kilometre inside Indian territory unseen and unheard and ambush the patrol between the Indian Armyâ€™s Cheetah and Begum Posts, almost half-a-kilometre before the LoC but outside the Anti Infiltration Obstacle System, or the â€œfenceâ€. The Indian Army patrol was clearly closely observed and their movements were mapped, maybe over several days. It was a professional hit-job inside, what is for the Pakistan Army, enemy territory. Since January, there have been, by the defence ministerâ€™s admission, 57 ceasefire violations â€” more than two every week â€” and 17 infiltration attempts by alleged militants. Also, the spot in Poonch where the five soldiers were killed is less than 40kms north of Mendhar, where the January 8 incident took place. For the Indian Army to be still taken by shock in a place at such close proximity to where two of their own were killed so gruesomely, means that the commands issued in January were wrong, or, if they were right, they were either not communicated, not understood, not implemented, or that the soldiers were not trained for the task they were asked to perform, or a combination of all of these factors. One former northern army commander who did not want to be named wonders why, if the army on the LoC is authorised to take punitive action, is kept second-guessing about the political fallout of deterrent military action. General Bikram Singh, who returned to Delhi this evening, was preparing a report for the defence minister. A.K. Antony is at the centre of a row on whether the attackers were Pakistani soldiers or killers in Pakistani army uniforms. He is likely to give his version â€” and clarify how his statement and the armyâ€™s â€”came to be different in Parliament tomorrow afternoon. Talk of command failure in army ****************************** I would not call it command failure. It is basically a failure of training. There are a plethora of courses these days that train the soldier and officers on all aspects of the army but what is actually lacking is the basic - field craft. The problem is that everyone from the bottom to the top are so ambition charged, mostly misplaced, they are hell bent of becoming Guderians even before they get their feet firmly on the ground. If one had seen the TV clip showing troops at the LC crawling up through the forest and then shooting, one would have seen that the crawling was done most haphazardly, totally lacking the knowledge how to use the ground and not taking cover or what is called 'ar pakr'. When one is to use his weapon, he should do so taking advantage of the ground and the trees to protect himself before firing so that he himself does not get shot in the retaliatory fire. In the TV clips, though there were trees, the man were firing in between the trees in the open and not taking cover of the tree and keeping just his head and the rifle out to shoot! It is very essential that the troops ar trained in battlefield situational awareness and and eye for the use of ground. IN the old pamphlet, 'Section Leading, Platoon Tactics', each type of section formation was explained and the task of each man of the section was detailed to include the arc (area) of his watch as he move forward. In the modern pamphlet, all this was missing! It is time to go back to the Basic and make training worthwhile and effective so that lives are saved. It is not for me to comment why these chaps got killed and the circumstances since it would not be fair as one was not on the spot, but the manner in which things are being informed in the open forum, there does appear that something is amiss as far as the basic training is concerned. Take a look at this: Is it an emplacement? What is its tactical import? I could not make it out. Hopefully someone can and let us know so that I am educated. If it is to protect the soldier standing behind, does the sandbag wall protect his body? So, what is it all about?