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A surgical strike versus a hammer

Sometimes, a surgeon’s knife is the only option. Soon after the Indian Army announced that it attacked terrorist camps across the Line of Control in Kashmir on September 28 last year, the term ‘surgical strike’ became a part of the common man’s lexicon.

Published: 28th September 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2017 02:36 AM   |  A+A-

Sometimes, a surgeon’s knife is the only option. Soon after the Indian Army announced that it attacked terrorist camps across the Line of Control in Kashmir on September 28 last year, the term ‘surgical strike’ became a part of the common man’s lexicon. In military terms, the phrase is used to define a sudden attack with very specific objectives and targets, and minimal collateral damage. A prime example would be the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden by US special forces in Abottabad on 2 May 2011. Apart from neutralising high-value targets, such precise operations, usually on enemy soil, are also aimed at preventing escalation into a full-scale war.

In India’s case, the objective was also to send out a clear message not just to Islamabad but also to the world that it could and would avenge terror attacks on its soil— thus raising the costs for Pakistan’s war of attrition against India using terrorist outfits like the JeM, LeT, and other lapdogs trained and armed by the ISI. The strike came days after a terror attack on an Indian Army camp at Uri in J&K, in which 19 soldiers were killed. While the political objectives of announcing the surgical strike on terror camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir were partially achieved, the strategic aspect is yet to bear fruit. Because instead of curtailing its terrorist antics, Pakistan appears to have stepped it up.

On Wednesday, the phrase made headlines again after the Indian Army declared that a special forces team had struck a camp of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang at dawn near the Indo-Myanmar border, inflicting considerable damage. The media went overboard, describing it as yet another ‘surgical strike’. But a statement by the Army’s Eastern Command made it clear it did not cross the international border, and the firefight was triggered after a military column was attacked by insurgents. “Our troops reacted swiftly and brought down heavy retaliatory fire on the insurgents.” Sometimes you need the surgeon. Sometimes you just need a hammer. This was clearly the latter.



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