December Issue 2009

By | Opinion | Speaker's Corner | Published 10 years ago

The horrendous gun battle that ensued at the General Headquarters (GHQ) shows that we are facing unconventional combat and asymmetric warfare and so we have to accept certain ground realities and react to them within that perspective. It is difficult to comprehend how conventional training tactics could be applied to an unconventional attack.

Analysts suggest that exercises for security personnel should provide training for unconventional warfare and attacks, just like army exercises take place for conventional purposes. Security personnel should be made aware of the possibility that terrorists could come in a disguise as one of their own.

A special trained anti-terrorist force could be developed at the entry points of sensitive areas. It has reportedly been mentioned that a sharp-shooters force is in the offing. A back-up force and the time factor is vital. The perpetrators have the advantage of choosing a target which the other side is not aware of, regardless of the fact that they may be well prepared.

Better arrangements are in order by way of establishing tighter security checks for the GHQ. Technology should replace staff at the first checkpoint in order to establish a visitor’s identification with precision.

I would like to quote from a write-up by a retired brigadier, who pointed out that despite two months of intelligence warnings which clearly stated that the military headquarters was one of the prime target sites of the terrorists, we failed to prevent this attack. He has expressed surprise on the reported ease with which the first checkpost was penetrated. He says, “It appears they were merely controlling traffic. In a red alert situation, certain adjustments in the positioning of checkposts is mandatory.” He further adds, “Most of the times, the terrorists launch an attack after careful and detailed observation of a target. Regular change in the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) of checkposts or the protective patrols, deny them the advantage of surprise. On the contrary, the attackers themselves could be surprised by the degree and variation of the preparations of the security forces.”

Furthermore, the headquarters have very tight security at their gates. Residents of the city can see smartly-dressed army personnel in a ready-to-act manner at all times. But since the hundred-year-old garrison was built in the British era, it does not have much area surrounding it that can serve as a buffer zone. Thus, everything is visible: the gates, the checkposts and even some parts of the building. Therefore, for better security in these difficult times, it would not be a bad idea if the surrounding areas are made a part of the GHQ compound to hamper visibility and provide an impediment. We could also do away with the sentiment of having a nice cricket ground next to the headquarters. The Canteen Store Department, too, has been there since pre-Partition. It is also worth considering whether the tennis courts need to be there.

These, and other such decisions, need to be taken to ensure the GHQ has fool-proof security.

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