Here’s one of the basic problems in tackling Maoists – not just lack of training, but refusal of training. This says a lot about the apathy that has led to the current situation. This is from the man who runs the jungle warfare training college at Kanker in Chhattisgarh where last week’s attack happened:
In his analysis of the carnage, the troopers were “totally under-prepared” to be sent into conflict zones. “It is evident they cannot site, much less recognise, an enemy harbour, they have no notion of who can take positions where, they were sleeping in a trap, that is what it was. But then, they have not been imparted such knowledge, not their fault.
“…the problem is the senior people. The men who must actually lead these boys in operations do not want to train. Some senior officers who came last year left because they were meant to stay their tenure in tents. Ridiculous! You cannot train for jungle guerrilla warfare if you want to stay in air-conditioning, my institution is about real terrain training, for jungle war you better get used to living in the jungle.”
It’s worth noting that even better training would not solve the resource problem. As someone explained to me over the weekend, in Chhattisgarh you have about 23 battalions of central forces (alongside 8-10 local battalions) covering around 39,000 km2 in Bastar region alone, 60% of it dense forest. When you account for rotations – troops on administrative functions or leave, etc – that leaves you less than 1,000 federal boots actually on the ground at any one time. As my source said: “When you have those kind of resources, ‘clear hold and build’ is not a strategy – it’s a slogan.”