Change Conduct In J&K, Army Told

8 December 2014
Times of India

New Delhi: The Army's topmost general in strife-torn J&K has directed all his officers and jawans to adopt 'a more nuanced approach' in the conduct of counter-insurgency operations (CI Ops), which 'balances local aspirations with controlling terrorist violence'. Northern Army Command chief Lt-General D S Hooda's directive, hailed by many as 'farsighted' in tune with changing ground realties, seeks to effectively bury the earlier practice when performance of battalions was primarily decided on the number of 'militant kills' they could achieve. 'With immense courage and sacrifice, our officers and men have brought the proxy war in J&K under control. However, this peace remains fragile. The situation today is more demanding than the past when terrorist kills were the most important indicator in gauging our achievements,' said Lt-Gen Hooda, in his demi-official letter to all formation commanders. 'A more nuanced approach, which balances local aspirations with controlling terrorist violence, is to be adopted ... Conduct of operations needs to change in sync with the environment prevailing. Unfortunately, our metrics for determining success in CI Ops have not kept pace with the changing environment, and this too has contributed to some confusion in our minds,' he said. 'The Army is deployed in J&K to do a job and we will do it to the best of our ability. Mistakes will happen. Let me assure you that I have a clear understanding of the difficulties under which we operate and that nobody will be unfairly harmed. This clear message must go to all units,' he said. This directive comes soon after Lt-Gen Hooda publicly apologised for the accidental killing of two youngsters by soldiers manning mobile vehicle check-posts in Budgam district on November 3, which in conjunction with the Army inquiry finding nine soldiers prima facie guilty for the episode served to douse inflamed passions. This was followed by the Army sentencing two officers and three soldiers to life imprisonment for gunning down three unemployed Kashmiri youths and then trying to pass them off as 'Pakistani militants' in a stage-managed encounter in Machil sector along the Line of Control in April 2010. The Army has dismissed 'baseless canards' being spread in the social media by 'disgruntled elements' that the terrorists were able to target the Mahora military camps, which led to eight soldiers being killed last week, because 'restraints have been placed on opening of fire' by soldiers.