Monday, April 12, 2010

Aerial route blocked? Maoists are trained to blunt air strikes

Nikhil S Dixit / DNAMonday, April 12, 2010 1:03 IST

Mumbai: Air strikes against Maoists — one of the options being seriously debated in the security establishment after the massacre of 75 CRPF personnel at Dantewada — may not work. The Left insurgents are prepared to blunt any such assault, according to an intelligence bureau (IB) report, a copy of which is with DNA.

The Maoists have already anticipated the move and have been training in anti-aircraft combat and launching attacks on aircraft for more than a year, says the report, which has been circulated among all security agencies.

“They have mastered the art of passive air defence such as camouflaging and radio silence and active air defence to engage aircraft and choppers of security forces,”
a senior central intelligence officer said on the condition of anonymity.

That the rebels have been expecting air strikes and preparing for it was evident last year when the security forces recovered a book titled Guerrilla Air Defense: Anti-Aircraft Weapons And Techniques For Guerrilla Forces from the Maoists in September 2009. The book is published by Palladin Press, Colorado, USA, and is considered to be a great guide in anti-aircraft combat techniques.

Because the rebels do not have easy access to sophisticated arms, they have mastered the art of using the weapons available to them and converting them indigenously into anti-aircraft combat weapons.

“The Maoists have been imparted special training to engage ‘enemy’ helicopters with small weapons, when they are hovering or moving slowly. In fact, such is the thoroughness in preparation that the guerrillas have been advised to target the hub of the rotor blade of a hovering chopper so that the bullets drop on the engine after hitting the chopper and incapacitate it,” the officer added.

The IB report warns of how the Maoists have converted the light machine gun (LMG) into an effective anti-aircraft weapon. “Their central committee has advised the cadres to plant claymore mines and launch grenades at helipads and aircraft landing sites and adopt ‘improvised air attack’ techniques using tripod-mounted machine guns on tree stumps to neutralise attacks launched through helicopters, the report says.

The officer confirmed that “interrogation of arrested Maoists has revealed that they have already been trained to counter air-strikes and also to launch lethal attacks on aircraft”.

Following this revelation, the IB had sent out serious alerts to all Maoist-affected states and areas. “It is essential that necessary precautions are taken during aerial visits of VIPs to terrorist and Maoist-affected areas, including elaborate sanitisation of the funnel areas at helipads/airports, especially during take-off and landing, to prevent possible attacks on helicopters/aircraft,” the officer said.

In state of war
A document adopted by the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) of the CPI (Maoist), which was recovered by security forces, describes in detail the new counter-insurgency tactics of the Indian security forces and also lists out measures to defeat them

Measures include attacks on the ‘Greyhounds’ of the Andhra Pradesh police, consolidating combat forces and strengthening intelligence gathering and courier network

The document further mentions inter-alia about large-scale procurement of explosives, extensive laying of improvised explosive devices/booby traps, intensified attacks on road opening parties, laying of ambushes and launching attacks on newly established vulnerable camps by using mortars and flame-tipped arrows to set the tents ablaze

It also dwells on ways to destroy the intelligence network of the ‘enemy’ (Indian security forces) by identifying the moles from among those who have returned from the Salwa Judum camps

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