News Analysis |
Responding to a question about the usage of drones against the Kashmiri separatists, Indian Army Chief said that they could be used in Jammu and Kashmir and even across the LoC on the Pakistani side, but the utility of drones comes with the cost of non-combatant causalities.
He was talking to a symposium at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in Delhi under the theme of “Hybrid Warfare”. A question was thrown at him about the U.S drone strategy and could India also employ the same in the insurgency-ridden Jammu and Kashmir state.
Intercepting and taking down a UAV is very easy for Pakistan Air Force, as repeatedly been said by several Air Force chiefs. The reason U.S drones are not intercepted has to do more with the political constraints which are not the case with India.
He replied that the primary objective of the armed UAV procurement is not the militant uprising in Jammu and Kashmir, but sure they can be used against the Kashmiri fighters if the nation is willing to accept “collateral damage”.
Is it a Successful Strategy for the U.S?
Before shredding the Indian Army Chief’s statement to analyze if it really is an option in Jammu and Kashmir, a broader view about the U.S drone strategy would help to understand its merit for adoption. The United States of America has had a number of successful hits as far as the drone strikes are concerned.
Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor and TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud were taken out via the predator strike. But instead of curbing and putting an end to the insurgency, the Afghan Taliban are strongest than they have ever been.
Read more: Will India resort to war with Pakistan?
This is the case for the world’s strongest military who has best available UAVs, state of the art technology and comparatively no one to answer to in case of the civilian causalities which the Indian Army Chief is fearing here. Apart from the momentary victories for assassinating some influential figures in the Taliban leadership ladder, in retrospect, the drone strikes have contributed little to nothing for the long-term U.S interests.
If the strategy did not work out for the United States, and some experts even argue proved as the funneling mechanism of more fighter influx in the war, the situation is even more convoluted for India, which General Bipin Rawat should understand and try to elaborate for public understanding.
Collateral Damage – What’s New to it?
The reason Indian General presented as the constraint for using drones in Jammu and Kashmir is what the Kashmiri people are already suffering. The common stone-pelters are dealt with pellet guns and it leaves them blinded for life. The sufferers are not just men who are protesting against the Indian oppression, but woman and children as young as 20 months old.
In the case of Kashmir, it is known that the separatist fighters resort of mountains, with dense forest cover for camouflage and protection against the aerial surveillance, making the drones obsolete yet again.
Other than that, reports emerge every day of civilians being targeted by the Indian security forces where many of them even lose their life. Hence, collateral damage is already taken on part of Kashmiri people and apparently, the nation has accepted that long ago.
The Strategic Constraint for using Drones
General Bipin Rawat has said that the Indian army is capable of taking out the targets even across the Line of Control on the Pakistani side of the Kashmir. It is a mere extension of the narrative Indian Army came up in the name of “Surgical Strike”.
Intercepting and taking down a UAV is very easy for Pakistan Air Force, as repeatedly been said by several Air Force chiefs. The reason U.S drones are not intercepted has to do more with the political constraints which are not the case with India. Therefore, while it may be the soothing thing to say in front of the Indian audience, the reality stands in contrast.
Apart from that, drones are most effective in open terrain where the visibility and radio connectivity for the coordination of attack between the flying drone and ground station is uninterrupted. In the case of Kashmir, it is known that the separatist fighters resort of mountains, with dense forest cover for camouflage and protection against the aerial surveillance, making the drones obsolete yet again.
As the India Army Chief himself said that the primary purpose India is purchasing the drones is different. It has more to do with the surveillance across working boundary with Pakistan and China.