Despite what happened in Jammu's Nagrota, the question is not just about lapse of security. Nothing is secure against a human bomb or a man whose mental brainwashing is so intense he is ready to die with his enemy and seek honour in it. Every time this sort of assault occurs, we fall about in trembling little heaps moaning about the breaches and how is it that the military camps cannot see these attacks coming?
That is like saying the revelers in Nice, France should have figured out that the truck driver, who went berserk, was going to mow them down and have a blast doing it.
The only minor defence uplift can be in creating a cordon sanitaire, around a camp, in that the 200-metres around the base is sterile and devoid of any cover or natural growth. Several major installations are just made a bit safer by being turned into islands so that any approach by an adversary allows for time to for reaction. Even then it is not perfect because a vehicle could navigate that distance in mere seconds.
Indian military security is touted as one of the largest in the world and the ability to actually stop the killers and bring them down rather than allow them to ‘shoot and scoot’ is in itself indicative of a major capability. Let’s back up a bit. The surgical strikes, conducted by the Indian Army in September after the Uri attack, were in isolation and we were so busy congratulating ourselves and making political capital out of this one day destruction of launch pads that we took the foot off the accelerator and eased the pressure on the terrorists. They were able to regroup and move on. And get back into business.
We should have, and probably do have, the intel to indicate more camps and training bases and arsenals and launch pads and we should have identified these locations and continued striking. There cannot just have been seven launch pads. Since India was not targeting Pakistani armed forces but the common enemy of mankind it would have made it very difficult for Islamabad to read these initiatives as acts of war.
After all, Pakistan officially wishes to wage battle against terror groups that target it. So India is only offering a helping hand. They would have made squealing noises but not raised the ante to an all out confrontation.
The complicity between Pakistan forces and terror groups and what we see as an glaring overlap is technically valid but since again Pakistan denies this support, the Indian strategy should be to use Pakistan’s selective stance over terrorism to advantage.
Elect to circle those suspected sites and continue to hit them. Activate your eye in the sky. Avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage but use the right to defend your own territory band your own people by eliminating the threat at the gate.
Whether we wish to ignore the fact or critique those who bring it up those seven strikes were misinterpreted as a major blow to the enemy which they were not. Set to music we danced away the opportunity to see the first seven as the start of an ongoing operation.
Nagrota has given us another opportunity to recognise the existence of more launch pads leading to larger training camps and bases and even extremist headquarters.
No lying back on laurels and making assumptions of intimidating the enemy that are dangerously naïve.
Nagorta, Uri, Poonch, Pampore, there will be more.
Unless we wake up to the reality that penetration has to be deeper and more decisive without the bunting and the backslapping.