Minimising the threat from IEDs

Source– The post is based on the article “Minimising the threat from IEDs” published in the “The Hindu” on 10th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Security

Relevance– Issues related to Maoism

News–  On April 26, an IED killed 10 security personnel of the District Reserve Guard in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada area. The jawans were out on an anti-Maoist mission when they were ambushed.

What is the way forward to overcome the threats of use of IEDs by Maoists?

Avoid travel by vehicle– The safest mode of travel is on foot in a region where left-wing extremism is active. Studies show that over 60% of casualties in Maoist territories are because of vehicles ambushed in landmines/IEDs.

Routine operations like area domination, cordon-and-search, long range patrolling, ambush-cum-patrolling should only be undertaken on foot. Vehicle travel should be undertaken rarely. It should be only for urgent operational reasons.

If vehicle travel is absolutely essential, the onward and return journeys should never be by the same route.

To avoid the risk of civilian casualties, Maoists do not trigger IEDs during night time. Hence, night travel by vehicles is relatively safe for security forces.

Use of armoured vehicles and protective gear– In certain war zones, vehicular deployment is inevitable. Security forces working in such areas should be equipped with appropriate protective gear, such as blast-resistant clothing, helmets, and eye protection.

Their vehicles should also be equipped with V-shaped and armour-plated hull, blast-resistant technology and proper sandbagging to minimise damage in the event of an explosion.

Machine guns and other weapons should be mounted on top of the vehicles with outward facing rotatory seats, from where the men can have a 360-degree observation outside.

Security forces should always travel in a convoy of minimum two to three vehicles. They should  maintain a distance of at least 40 to 50 metres between them.

Safe travelling– There is a need for rigorous and regular implementation of various detection methods. It includes metal detectors, ground-penetrating radar, and trained sniffer dogs, to locate and clear IEDs.

Areas known or suspected to contain landmines or IEDs can be mapped and contingency plans prepared for them. This includes establishing safe routes, setting up checkpoints, and creating evacuation plans as part of both preventive and mitigation measures.

Intelligence– It is important to gather actionable intelligence. But, due to risks of reprisals by terrorists, locals usually do not provide information for money alone.

Relationships have to be cultivated and goodwill generated among the local population on a long-term basis. It should be beyond transactional levels. This requires patience, commitment, empathy and integrity on the part of security forces.

Investigation– There is simply no substitute for good routine investigation of IED ambushes. An IED ambush is not an insular, standalone event. There is a whole ecosystem behind it. It includes financiers, suppliers, transporters, builders and triggermen.

Diligent and scientific investigation, establishment of linkages through collection of evidence, framing of chargesheets, followed by speedy trials and conviction, serve as a strong deterrent to terrorism.

Other measures– These include collaboration with international organisations, NGOs, and other countries to share information, resources, and best practices for landmine and IED prevention, detection, and clearance.

There is a need for implementation and enforcement of national and international laws, policies, and regulations aimed at preventing the use, production, and trade of landmines and IEDs.

Legislative measures are required for mandatory addition of chemicals and biosensors to explosives used in industry and mining for their easy detection during transport.

Legislative measures are required for stricter controls on manufacture, supply and sale of explosives and detonators. Other countries have taken several counter-IED measures. The U.S has set up the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organisation to prevent, identify and defeat IEDs.

There is a need to create an overarching agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs to coordinate the efforts of both the Government of India and the State governments. It can provide legislative, technological and procedural support to law enforcement agencies.

Print Friendly and PDF