The Covert Option

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Vinod2070, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Messages:
    2,553
    Likes Received:
    96
    The Covert Option

    India should build up its psychological and cyber warfare to thwart terrorism

    VIKRAM SOOD
    02 Jan 2009​

    [​IMG] This time, in Mumbai, the enormity of the ongoing tragedy really hit ‘us’. The debate about the how and why and what to do next has been on for a month now, unlike in the past when bomb blasts and killings were about ‘them’ and handled by the ‘others’. Shaken from the secure comfort of our opulence and tearful of the loss of fancy places to eat, few of us realise that in the year that has gone by, 1,007 civilians and 368 security forces personnel were killed in terrorist-related violence all over the country. There are a few important lessons from this and one can only hope that the extreme anger of November will translate into cold determination for the future.

    One has also to be realistic about countering terrorism. Like crime, it will never disappear completely, no matter what laws and agencies we have. It can only be deterred and contained. The Mumbai massacres are undoubtedly a lesson about our vulnerabilities, our huge security gaps, our disjointed reaction, our media hype and our weak response to Pakistan. As a result, we are today seeing the unfortunate spectacle of Pakistan, the obvious suspect in this case and many others that have preceded this, stealing the ground from under us and screaming that Islam and Pakistan are under threat from India. The suspect has changed the rules of the debate and smuggled in Kashmir into the equation.


    Mumbai happened even though there was a semblance of some intelligence, but no one connected the dots. We may not be lucky next time, and there will be a next time unless we do several things in the short term and others in the long term. Every terrorist attack is a learning experience for the terrorist and he comes back stronger and deadlier. Unfortunately, the State learns less.


    We must also admit that quite a few of the things that happen or do not happen do so because of the way we are. The contempt the citizen has for the law in India is visible on our streets all over the country, and the state shows its indifference when it fails to correct this. It is a sad reflection on our polity that promises bijli, sadak and paani (electricity, roads and water) as an election slogan 60 years after Independence. Obviously, the State has receded when we find that those who have the means no longer depend upon it. They get themselves a generator when the State does not supply electricity, dig tube wells when there is no water, and hire private guards when there is no security.

    Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata’s comment — “We will protect ourselves and we will try to deter such activities again and we will seek external expertise for the same’’ — has a significance that may have escaped many. What he is saying in effect is that India will have to move up from the present system of merely gated communities with unarmed guards to a system where the corporate sector must learn to anticipate and protect itself against lethal attacks. In a sense it means that the State will not or cannot protect or provide security to all its national assets. Possibly this means entering into the sphere of corporate warriors where each big corporate house has its own security apparatus more in the style of Blackwater, Dyncorp or Vinnel of the US.
    It was Dyncorp personnel who provided security to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in the initial days. Considerable security work has been outsourced in Iraq and Saudi Arabia to private warriors. Maybe that is the need of the hour because the first thing that we need to do in the short term is to protect ourselves and to make our vulnerable national assets invulnerable.

    [​IMG] EXTERNAL THREAT: With a 7,500-km sea frontier and porous land borders India will always
    be vulnerable to terrorists (Reuters)
    This would leave the State free to handle those responsible for spreading terror. This means taking on Pakistan differently from the way we have in recent years. Talking peace with Pakistan may be necessary, but we should not delude ourselves into assuming that Pakistan’s attitude will change. With a 7,500-km sea frontier and porous land borders, we will always be vulnerable to terrorist attacks launched by an implacable foe. They cannot be guarded by good intentions and fond hopes. Pakistan has been fighting a proxy war especially after 1971 at places and times of its choosing. It is a total war against India and we must treat it so. Other than adopting defensive postures, we have done precious little to teach the perpetrator a lesson. Getting ready for Pakistan and its terrorists extends beyond modernising the armed forces with the latest aircraft, tanks or submarines. It means above all ensuring a highly professional and sharp intelligence capability. It means equipping our specialised forces with the most lethal and suitable equipment, and keeping them agile, trained and mobile for all times. It means empowering the local state units adequately in every sense of the word to be the first respondents in a crisis. It means developing a covert option.

    [​IMG] This probably sounds sinister, but a country’s national interests are protected by hard-nosed realism and not by soft options. A State is respected by others only if it is able to protect its interests and project its power. If India is seen to be soft and weak by our neighbours, we will lose respect even here. The covert option is something many States have and they use it, too. The Americans are quite free and easy in announcing that they have set aside funds to destabilise an unfriendly regime. The same rules do not apply to us but the principles of trade craft are usable. Covert action can be of various kinds. One is the paramilitary option, which is what the Pakistanis have been using against us. It is meant to hurt, destabilise or retaliate.

    The second is the psychological war option, which is a very potent and unseen force. It is an all weather option and constitutes essentially changing perceptions of friends and foes alike. The media is a favourite instrument, provided it is not left to the bureaucrats because then we will end up with some clumsy and implausible propaganda effort. More than the electronic and print media, it is now the internet and YouTube that can be the next-generation weapons of psychological war. Terrorists use these liberally and so should those required to counter terrorism.


    The third weapon in the covert option is the use of cyber techniques. This is an ability to intercept cyber networks and communications, cripple systems and carry out counter attacks on the enemy’s systems. In a country that boasts its brain power, it should not be difficult to find such expertise.


    Despite the latest drama on our borders, future wars are unlikely to engage massive armies locked in prolonged battle for real estate. Attacks could be of the Mumbai kind or come by stealth, master-minded by some computer whiz kid and the targets are our ways of life. Unless the State learns to be flexible and agile, and unless there is full international cooperation, it will always be an uphill struggle with the peak never really visible. The covert option is more than just blowing bridges and killing innocents. At all times, it should form part of a State’s armoury. It takes years to build this capability and just a few weeks to destroy this.
     
  2.  
  3. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Messages:
    2,553
    Likes Received:
    96
    Link to the article.
     
  4. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Messages:
    2,553
    Likes Received:
    96
    Influential people have been talking of building the covert capability for years. I think it was IK Gujaral who surrendered our covert capability in Pakistan and several people who had been loyal to India died a horrible death in Pakistan for his foolishness.

    I hope some of these capabilities have been developed and deployed now. Enough to make the enemies pay through their nose and understand that they will be paying a disproportionate price for any adventure.

    That is the only way to achieve peace, not those candles at the Wagah.
     
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Messages:
    12,038
    Likes Received:
    715
    long before Gujral doctrine put full stop to RAW covert operations,it was i think PM morarji desai who gave up zia ul haq indian/israeli plan to blow up the pak nuclear installations(citation needed).which was resurrected when indira gandhi came to power again.but then till then USSR attacked afghanistan and CIA got wind of indian plans passed on the info to pakistan.
     
  6. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Messages:
    2,553
    Likes Received:
    96
    Yes, a tragedy if this is true.
     
  7. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    Messages:
    3,474
    Likes Received:
    466
    Well said, Vinod. Those master-minds who plan and fund must feel pinch, then we will have peace. Otherwise no use. Infact, I am astonished that Dawood, Hafeez...and his ilk still live in such gay abandon without any fear of retribution from India. This would not have been the case if any other country was in our place.

    As for Candles, its become a dark joke, a dark satire. Everytime, there is a blast and some Indians' life is horribly cut short, then some guys march from some Xplace to Yplace with thick candles. Whats the use of this march? Instead, people need to question the Govt. The recent pune attacks brings the focus on CM Chavan. The home minister says there was no Intelligence failure, then that should mean that they knew, pune was on radar of terrorists. Then why was Maharashtra police diverted from anti-terror activites to guarding theatres for the release of a super-star's movie?

    Headley had recced several places and it included Osho ashram. Why were these places not under monitor? If they were under monitor, how come this attack happened?

    The media should ask some tough questions to those who are ruling both at central and state level. Instead, media focuses on absolutely inconsequential things. The same is the case with day to day issues. Instead of media focussing on issues that are relevant to people like price-rice, the media focuses on sensational news stories like movies, IPL and threats from political parties..etc. Political parties themselves are involved in upmanship. In all this the common man is always the loser.
     
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Messages:
    12,038
    Likes Received:
    715
    0ne thing india urgently learn from israeli mossad is how to conduct assassinations/covert ops in foreign countries.Latest being the successfully executed hamas leader's assassination in dubai.Right from the assassination of all PLO terrorist involved in killing israeli players during munich Olympics, all over europe,south america,beruit.But beforee that india need a leader with balls to like that of goldie mier or indira.




    Video footage: Dubai to issue warrants for 11 in Hamas man's killing

    [video]http://video.gulfnews.com/services/player/bcpid4267205001?bctid=66672644001[/video]
     
  9. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Messages:
    2,553
    Likes Received:
    96
    Agree. These rats should have been squashed long back. Their being alive is a mockery on India.

    It is so easy to get these rats sprayed out of existence. There are enough traitors in Pakistan who will do it for money. Or just outsource this to the Rajan gang.

    Media in India is immature and so are our people, for the most part. Politicians are mostly weaklings only worried about their kursi and bureaucrats are deeply mired in corruption.

    Yes, the common Indian is the loser amidst this mediocrity and apathy.
     
  10. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    Messages:
    3,474
    Likes Received:
    466

    Exactly. Pakistan is one place where one would find enough people willing to do that job for few crumbs, then why is India not doing anything? I just cant find the answer.


    Partly true. But sometimes vested interests and self-interests are involved and that makes the game so much more murkier.

    Sad truth of life...
     
  11. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2009
    Messages:
    11,613
    Likes Received:
    5,669
  12. Indianrabbit

    Indianrabbit Regular Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    475
    Likes Received:
    13
    If there are people available in Pakistan that can kill these terrorist leader for money we should use them. I seriously think that there are 2 types of people, one common man for them law should take its own course, but for serial offenders and terrorist all means should be used. Is RAW can kill Hafeez Saeed they should be given go ahead.
     
  13. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Messages:
    4,434
    Likes Received:
    1,719
    Location:
    Land of the GODS - "Dev Bhomi".
    A good article by Mr Vikram Sood, which gives an insight into the thinking that prevails in today’s RAW, the way they intend to fight this war and the way RAW is being continuously undermined if people are able to read between the lines especially where he says “The media is a favourite instrument, provided it is not left to the bureaucrats because then we will end up with some clumsy and implausible propaganda effort”, sad state of affairs if I may add, and today India has a NSA who happens to be a career diplomat.

    Psyops through media is one of the best but when it comes to bleeding a nation nothing sounds as damning and demoralizing for the country under attack than direct hits, but all such acts have to take place right in their nerve center, from where the impact is massive.

    There have to be three target areas. Military installations/high ranking military personnel, key economic centers/top business heads and up-market public centers, these are the targets which have the most psychological impact and media goes to great lengths in giving coverage to such attacks which can in some cases continue for day together which helps in creation of disillusionment and erosion of faith in the political system and military establishment, but before we go hanky panky with these measures we better make sure we as a nation are well secured or else this kind of a war can come biting back and then the same sense of haplessness and helplessness can prevail in our country.

    The advantage we have is that Pakistanis are not the smartest judge of an evolving situation thanks to the regularly fed state sponsored propaganda, which has made them over the years think more from their hearts than heads which hints at emotions taking control over sense, and that is our moment, something that was on show case more recently where right after a bomb blast in Karachi a crowd went on rampage by burning down well over 3,000 shops.

    There is also the gun culture in Pakistan which can be and should be given an altogether new dimension and meaning, where these gun wielding goons need to be handed stuff which is more high-end, more sophisticated and more explosive than just the AKs, imagine all these things being made available in university campuses, political out fits, local associations and in such cases even the RAW does not need to do much.
     
  14. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Messages:
    2,553
    Likes Received:
    96
    I think at this point RAW is doing a good job. It will never come in the public domain of course but the game has changed in the last few years if you just look at the ground situation.
     
  15. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Messages:
    4,434
    Likes Received:
    1,719
    Location:
    Land of the GODS - "Dev Bhomi".
    Vinod,

    Yes, RAW has in fact done a good job off late especially since that idiot chaturvedi retired who bloody hell tried his level best to get an extension, a good riddance one must say.

    I am a great fan of playing an underdog, with the world under estimating all the capabilities one has and then it is a sight when the carpet on which people stand is pulled off by the same perceived incapable people, and this is precisely how an intelligence agency should function.

    This is one reason why I am against the vice president Mr Hamid Ansari’s proposal on RAW, their acts even in the past need not be brought in the public domain or it is revealing just too much something one would never like its enemy to get wind about.
     
  16. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Messages:
    2,553
    Likes Received:
    96
    I think playing an underdog is a problem in today's world. India should speak softly but carry a big stick and more importantly, the enemies should feel the weight of that stick and know that the stick will come into picture every time they try to harm India.

    As long as the perception of weakness is not changed, we will continue to be targeted. The handlers like Hafij should be targeted after every strike in India. Right now they get to marry the young widows of the killed terrorists!

    For them its a double bonus.
     
  17. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    20,305
    Likes Received:
    8,267
    Location:
    011
    At this point in time, India doesn't need too many of its own assets in Pakistan. There are enough suicide bombers on hire in Pak. We have to exploit this, pseudo civil war situation before the deals are signed and peace secured. Even if these idiots are caught, the trail will not lead to us.

    Even the Israelis use Palestinians without the Pallis even knowing whom they are working for. At the end of the day it doesn't matter if Pak founds out who did it, or whether if RAW did it or not; our job should be done, our goals should be accomplished. Looking at Pak in 2009, we got what we wanted post 26/11. Whether RAW is involved or not, doesn't matter ;)

    As B Raman said, we should make the cost of terrorism high enough to dissuade Pak. If they chose to persist, means they are really desperate and have a death wish.

    Another point,
    US is taking an active interest in Pak, they captured another bunny in Faisalabad. (Thakur Sahab I was suffering to this incident as well as the Karachi one when talking about "plural" Bunnies Link of the Faisalabad op -> http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/decl...ther-taliban-leader-captured-in-pakistan.aspx ) This augurs well for us.
     
  18. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Messages:
    2,553
    Likes Received:
    96
    Till now, they do give that impression. I think the so called water war by India is also a way to increase the cost on Pakistan.

    It is just too hard for them to give up terror. It has become a part of them and they have become used to it without being hit back. It will take time and a lot more cost for them to see the things as they are. That they can be made to pay much more than what they can inflict on others.
     
  19. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    20,305
    Likes Received:
    8,267
    Location:
    011
    India is not indulging in any water "war". Pakistanis are diverting attention from the real issue. Seraikistan, Sindh is being parched because of Pro-Punjab policies(building of damns to irrigate the North) and because of natural causes. India has not violated the IWT.

    Regarding Terrorism and our response, its an ongoing event. It will take a few decades to really find out if we are upto something in Pak or not. For eg we bled Pak pretty bad during Khalistan, enough to force them to stop for the most part.

    And another point, fault lies with us too for making a distinction between pak sponsored terrorism in Kashmir and pak sponsored terrorism in rest of India. Nobody gives a hoot if a dozen people are killed in J&K.
     
  20. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Messages:
    4,434
    Likes Received:
    1,719
    Location:
    Land of the GODS - "Dev Bhomi".
    that is a different ball game as per me Vinod. the "open heat" has to come from diplomatic channels with pressure built through international community through various measures.

    as far as the intelligence services are concerned they should operate without being seen or any noise heard and should be out without any trail left until and unless they want to leave such a trail intentionally with a message to be passed on. the advantage of doing it quitely is that no one suspects you, and heat can never be turned back on you which helps in fighting for another day. take the case of ISI, it is seen as rouge and is condemned world wide and has been forced to be reigned in, why? they were not so long back "seen every where and were too loud". it never helps until the agency is cia and mossad.

    thanks for the link paaji. it seems pakistan is being checkmated in their own ball game, but then pakistan has been known in the past to do the same especially when mush was around each time the us demanded their pound of flesh but if this helps in tarnishing the image of PA and ISI nothink like it but to get maximum out of this news people in the pakistan media especially the urdu media needs to give coverage to this issue, if this coverage can be done which has so far being denied by ISI, then it has a potential of creating a wide wedge between afgan taliban and PA/ISI.
     
  21. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Messages:
    2,553
    Likes Received:
    96
    We should use the water weapon if we are not doing that. Do it in a way that doesn't raise too many eyebrows.

    And yes, we need to build and deploy the capability to make Pakistan pay through it's nose. So much so that it loses the capability to use terror against anyone. It it means that Pakistan needs to be broken again, let it be so.
     

Share This Page