What is surgical strike and how effective is it?

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi chairing the CCS meeting on the situation on LoC, in New Delhi on September 29, 2016.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing the CCS meeting on the situation on LoC, in New Delhi on September 29, 2016.

On Wednesday night, the Indian Army struck on Pakistani terrorists locations across the Line of Control.

In a joint press briefing with the external affairs ministry on Thursday, director general of military operations lieutenant general Ranbir Singh said that a special operation group of the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes on terror pads across the LoC killing terrorists causing huge damage to those installations.

Pakistan was however quick to reject India’s claims of surgical strike but alleged Indian soldiers killed two Pakistani soldiers in cross-border firing.

The term ‘surgical strike’ is often used in military parlance. But what exactly is it?

A surgical strike is a swift military attack meant to destroy specific enemy military targets with no or minimum collateral damage like civilian casualties, destruction of public utility services or infrastructure.

The surgical strikes can be carried out on specific enemy targets by several ways – through field operation by infantry, air raids, sneaking into enemy territory with a small band of highly trained military personnel.

The military personnel are often stealthily air dropped to carry out their operations and in some cases precision bombing from air is done to destroy the targets.

The basic ground rule of surgical strike is that the operations have to be fast and quick inflicting maximum damage and the personnel must return to their base within a stipulated time after destroying enemy installations.

The Indian Army and Navy have several highly trained commando units specially meant for such operations.

Reliable and waterproof intelligence input is the most vital requirement to make a surgical strike a success. Years of preparations and intelligence gathering are done by various intelligence agencies to first pinpoint and then attack an enemy installation.

In India, agencies like Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing and Military Intelligence are engaged in gathering internal and external intelligence.

On the other hand, intelligence failure or any leak about an operation can make the striking force vulnerable to counter attack. So such operations have to be planned meticulously with utmost secrecy.

As a term, ‘surgical strike’ became popular after Israel started launching swift military strikes against specific targets successfully like the commando operation at Entebbe in Uganda to free Israelis from a hijacked plane. Another successful Israeli surgical strike was at Osirak nuclear installation of Iraq that ended the latter’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

But that does not mean that Israel is an expert of surgical strikes. In 2007, Israeli commandos sneaked into Lebanon to destroy Hazbollah but failed miserably and retreated disgracefully.

There were demands for surgical strikes in India after the Pak trained terrorists attacked Mumbai in 2008. The clamour for surgical strikes grew with further repeated attacks on Indian soil by Pak based terrorists.

Though Indian military is far superior to that of Pakistan, a full scale war has several adverse consequences, especially breakdown of the economy. So many experts have favoured surgical strikes on Pakistan to eliminate terrorists and prevent it from poking its nose in Kashmir.

Only military experts and intelligence agencies can say how many surgical strikes India has carried out in the past considering that the nature of such operations are supposed to be covert and so not for public consumption.

However, after NDA government came to power, the common people have got to know about two supposed surgical strikes – first on NSCN (Khaplang) militant camps in Myanmar last year and now the strike on Wednesday on terror pads in Pakistan.


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