Indian Special Operation in Myanmar: Perfect Plan Executed Well

Indian Army’s special op on the Myanmar border was well executed but India should be careful with its western border.

Published
India
3 min read
Army officers pay tribute in Jammu on Sunday to the soldiers killed in Thursday’s ambush in Manipur. (Photo: PTI)

As special operations go, it was a perfect plan executed well. When two columns of the Indian Army’s 21 Para (Special Forces) battalion started their march into the thick jungles that dot the India-Myanmar border around midnight on Monday, they knew exactly where the camps of the Indian insurgent groups were located.

Both Humint (human intelligence) and TechInt (technical intelligence) had confirmed the presence of a substantial number of insurgents in these camps. The troops also had a fair idea about the firepower that the occupants of the camp possessed.

At dawn, the special forces had walked about six km inside Myanmar, the camps in their cross hairs. Soon, the assault was on.

A firefight between an assortment of insurgents (those belonging to the NSCN-Khaplang group, Paresh Baruah’s ULFA boys, members of UNLF, KYKL and PREPAK) and the army troops ensued.

Additional Director General, Military Operations, Maj Gen. Ranbir Singh talking about the Military Operation along the Indo-Myanmar border. (Photo: PTI)
Additional Director General, Military Operations, Maj Gen. Ranbir Singh talking about the Military Operation along the Indo-Myanmar border. (Photo: PTI)

At least 15 militants were gunned down, 11 others were injured and the camps were burnt down after a longish firefight at both the locations. The death toll is expected to go up as more details emerge.

As the remaining insurgents fled, the special forces started their return march. Incredibly, the Army’s Special Forces had suffered no casualties. Months of hard training had paid off.

As the news of the commando raid started trickling in, several factors of this unprecedented development stood out.

One, the Army was given a clear political directive to hit the camps although it was well understood that they were located in Myanmar.

Two, the Myanmar government was kept in the loop but there was no joint operation with the Myanmarese Army and three, all relevant arms of the government--the PMO, the MoD, the MEA and Intelligence Agencies--undertook a well-coordinated operation.

J & K Dy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh paying tribute, in Jammu on Sunday, to the soldier Sat Pal Bhasin, who was killed in an ambush in Manipur (Photo: PTI)
J & K Dy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh paying tribute, in Jammu on Sunday, to the soldier Sat Pal Bhasin, who was killed in an ambush in Manipur (Photo: PTI)

The underlying message in the counter-offensive was clear: India’s adversaries will have to pay a heavy price if Indian interests are threatened.

Good as the special operation was, no one, least of all the government, should be tempted to apply the same template to any similar situation on the Western border.

A Pakistani soldier near the Indo-Pak border in Sialkot, Pakistan. (Photo: Reuters)
A Pakistani soldier near the Indo-Pak border in Sialkot, Pakistan. (Photo: Reuters)

Unlike the un-policed Myanmar border, the Pakistan border is heavily fortified; in contrast to negligible presence of the Myanmarese troops, the Pak-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) area has a huge Army deployment.

But more importantly, Pakistan is an adversary unlike Myanmar which has cooperated - sometimes willingly, other times under coercion - with the Indian Army. So, any such raid will be fraught with unseen consequences in case something goes wrong.

Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, India. (Photo: <a href="https://twitter.com/IndianExpress/status/607183349271044096">Twitter.com/@IndianExpress</a>)
Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, India. (Photo: Twitter.com/@IndianExpress)

In any case, covert action is to be discussed as little as possible so even if the government has any plans for such an operation anywhere else, it is unlikely to come out in the public domain.

At the moment though, compliments are due to the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister and the National Security Adviser apart from the troops for taking swift, decisive action against insurgents bent upon disturbing the peace in India’s north-east.

(The writer is an analyst on national security and a media trainer.)

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