From the sketchy info available that the media has put out, what is known about the Northeast insurgent movements, and about the safe havens in northern Mayanmar the NSCN factions use with impunity, secure in the belief they’d not be hunted down to these remote sites — several things can be deduced about the Special Forces (SF) operation to wipe out members of the Khaplang group who killed 18 personnel of the 6 Dogra Regiment in an ambush.
1) It was not one of the small tactical actions involving small SF teams that are mounted from time to time by army theatre commands across live borders to take out a culvert here, blow up an amo depot there.
2) It was a bigger unit operation that was meant to signal to internal and external adversaries that a resolute India is determined to prosecute telling retaliatory kill missions, whenever merited.
3) If it was a deep penetration mission, it would perforce be a joint operation with IAF helos providing quick means of infiltration to targeted locations well inside Myanmar and for exfiltration.
4) Indian military has long had the target coordinates for use in such strike ops.
5) The Khaplangi killers, supported by PLA, would have been prompted by their Chinese intelligence minders to cross the border and hit the patrolling 6 Dogra detachment.
6) It is unlikely Yangbon was given prior notice of this action, but may have been told of it immediately after the successful completion of the mission. This because Delhi is aware that certain members of the Myanmarese ruling junta are partial to China, and the Chinese would have been alerted who, in turn, would have warned the targeted Nagas about the impending Indian action.
So much for the operation itself. The surprising thing is the reaction of an ex-COAS — did I hear Shankar Roy-Choudhary right? — who wagged an admonishing finger, labeling such actions “adventurist” and “dangerous”. Adventurist?? Hitting back hard, is adventurist? That such thinking prevails at all within the military shows just how inactive-passive the military leadership has, in fact, become. And just why any proactive or harsh retaliation by SF is so little used by India as a policy instrument. One of the pet themes I have flogged for over 30 years now is that neither the Indian govt nor the Indian armed forces really perceive SF as tools of strategic purpose and impact.
Incidentally, the Myanmar SF op, falls not in the realm of the strategic, but in the category of the extended tactical and is of the same ilk as the one launched in Bhutan some years ago against Assamese rebels, except that was conducted with the full knowledge and assistance of Thimpu).