First things, first.
It's slightly late in the day, but from one type of Special Forces to another:
And since we're on the topic of things we learned, one of the most striking is how closely footballer and hat-tipper extraordinaire Mesut Özil resembles yesteryear actor/director/producer/writer Buster Keaton.
See the resemblance?
Good. Now that that's out of the way — because that's neither here not there — let's reflect on the week gone by. This week — as indeed the tail-end of the last one — has been all about the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army's Special Forces across the LoC in the early hours of 29 September.
According to some, such a strike had never been conducted before. According to others, this sort of thing has been happening for years now. Here, at FP Special Forces, we simply don't know who's right and who's wrong — if such a binary can, in fact, be used in this context.
What we do know, however, is that within a week the role of the media changed drastically. A former high-ranking officer of the FP Special Forces had once said that the role of the news media would only ever be to inform, interpret and elaborate, but not to educate. How wrong he was. This week, all of that changed and the media cleared the cobwebs from our understanding and truly educated us. Let's go through some of these teachings imparted through the tireless efforts of numerous news anchors, graphic designers and talking heads:
With a show of hands, how many of you even knew what 'surgical strikes' were, before DGMO Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh, flanked by the strong and silent Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup (for moral support, we imagine), used the phrase at that fairly famous press conference? Or did you think it was what happened when a bunch of surgeons, protesting low-pay, poor work conditions or violence perpetrated by the relatives of patients, decided to down tools, pick up placards and go on strike? Be honest!
On the off-chance that you did know what they were, your definition was probably closer to the traditional one — the one that refers to a swift and focussed attack on a specific target that causes minimal collateral damage. Right?
To quote Donald Trump, "WRONG!"
As we learned this week, a surgical strike can be anything you want it to be. For example, one interpretation refers to an incredibly daring Rambo-esque operation — in which political leaders transform into eminent personalities from Indian mythology — that leaves the victors setting off fireworks and the losers crying in shame. Or something like that. Another interpretation alludes to standing at one's post and firing away across the border in the hopes of hitting someone, preferably an enemy combatant.
A third interpretation is the one that sees the 'striker' do something that appears as though it never happened. And what's so surgical about that? Well, we're glad you asked. Think of the way a good surgeon conducts a surgery. She makes the incision, does what is required and she's out leaving the patient unscarred. Almost like there's no evidence of said surgery having ever taken place. "Look ma! No scars," like the Pakistan Army told foreign journalists when they were taken on a tour of the LoC.
Let's move on.
Nearly every TV news channel explodes with angry red, blue or white (any resemblance to the US flag or the Dutch, Australian, British, Russian, French ones or any of the seemingly hundreds of others that use this colour combination is purely coincidental) tickers.
What ceasefire? According to some reports, there've been 20 ceasefire violations in the past week. And we're not even going to try to calculate the total number of such violations this year. Is there even a reason to continue considering there to be a ceasefire in place if it's going to be violated all the time? Apparently there is. And that's what we learned.
All things covert
We also learned a new definition for the word 'covert'. Put away your flights of fancy about 'plausible deniability' and 'clandestine' stuff. No, covert in today's world — as we've been taught this week — apparently means something to brag about and something for which video evidence can be demanded. We're sure the Indian Army's Special Forces did a collective facepalm just as we, at FP Special Forces did, when we received this learning.
Nothing to add, suffice for this: