Article by Eyes Wide Open
A new epoch has arrived when extra dimensions have been added to war, defence forces being armed to teeth won’t suffice as conventional war is not the only war being fought. Fighting information war is Indian government’s latest predicament. Alacrity of Indian diplomatic missions abroad can facilitate Indian government in fighting 5th generation war of non-contact, says a veteran in his letter to Dr S Jaishankar, Minister of External affairs.
Shri S Jaishankar
Hon’ble Videsh Mantri
Government of India
Subject : Eyewitness account of assault on Indian High Commission on 15th Aug, Recommendations to counter Pak 5th Generation Warfare
Jai Hind sir,
1. I am writing to apprise you on certain important aspects of the attack on the Indian High Commission in London on the 15th August that may not have been brought to your notice yet.
2. This attack and the one on 03 Sept are part of 5th generation warfare with a very clear set of strategic and tactical objectives. I was a front line eyewitness to the 15th August attack and gained a very good understanding of the adversary’s objectives, tactics, training, leadership and operational execution. My article on the same has been published in Swarajya magazine on the 25th of August. I also noticed several serious deficiencies in our command & control, defences and overall response to Information Warfare (IW) by the Indian High Command (IHC),and have certain recommendations to address these.
3. I have no other interest except the safety and security of my motherland. Please do take time to read my letter in full.
Attack on 15th August
4. It was planned in Rawalpindi, funded by Islamabad, prepared in mosques across the UK and executed well on ground. Objectives were to disrupt 15th August celebrations, attack IHC, and intimidate Indians by violence, threats of rape and Ghazwa-e-Hind. They had scouts early on, excellent logistics, and moved tactically to outflank, encircle and pushed us into a killing zone effectively. Women and children were especially targeted. Their command & control, tactical leadership and execution was of a high standard. Police were ineffective and inadequate. This was a well-planned operation with military professional training and support.
Security Gaps at the IHC, UK, on 15th August
5. When I arrived at the IHC at 11 AM, I counted 04 Pakistani scouts but not a single Indian of IHC staff. There were no look-outs on the roof of the IHC building, no perimeter security, no guards at any of the sensitive locations – entrances, choke points. The Khalistani protest was already on at the main gate.
6. Everyone knew that following Imran Khan’s call, the Pakistani government had organised a massive and violent protest, and thousands of Jihadis were expected. We knew that training and tactics for violent attacks were being given. But the IHC had not anticipated this and left India’s sovereign territory completely unprotected. High Commissioner RuchiGhanshyam ji was not at the IHC. She was 100 miles away in Milton Keynes in the morning for flag hoisting at the consulate there. She should have deputed someone else and herself been at the IHC to provide leadership, command and control. It was only after urging of members of the community that she returned to IHC.
7. Since there were no look-outs on the roof, the IHC could not see and assess the developing situation, and respond as the day progressed. I also do not think they had any communication, command and control in place. This was evident in the slow and inadequate police response throughout the day. Coordination with both Indian community on the ground and the police was tardy. Police presence and coordination should have been tied up days in advance, commanders designated, escalation protocols agreed and hotlines set up.
8. None of this was done
Energising our diplomatic missions
9. The UK government failed in their Vienna Convention Article 22 obligations of protecting the IHC. High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanshyam ji had to waste hours emailing and calling the Home Office to get riot police to the site. We must turn this to our advantage by leveraging it fully in our counter offensive against UK’s stand and biased news coverage. But is our team at India House up to this challenge?
10. While Pakistan Government representatives were going from mosque to mosque building up anti-India narratives, our High Commission did not engage with the myriad Indian diaspora groups to ensure that thousands of Indians turn out as well. They did not arrange any of the media houses from India — Republic TV, Times Now etc to cover the news. A lot more could be done.
11. This is a war of doctored videos, weaponised citizens, false narratives and bought media. And our diplomatic missions are an important front. They must be invigorated to fight with firmness of resolve and clarity of purpose.
12. But far from that, efforts of citizens are being undermined. Let me give an example – a leading western Sadhvi Swami Ambikanandaji who is fighting for Hindu causes in UK parliament, was told by the previous Indian High Commissioner ‘Hinduism is not a religion’. On the other hand, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK has publicly stated that– Hinduism is a great religion and like Judaism and it does not believe in conversion. We can learn a lot from our Israeli friends.
13. We should train our diplomats in history, civilisationperspectives, public speaking, media management, so that they can speak incongruence to GoI’s strategic policies. They should be at the forefront of the counter-narratives and should organisetheir local diasporas with josh and gusto like the Pakistani’s do.
Recommendations for Improvement
1. Media Management :
We are being seriously outplayed in the Information War. We do not understand our adversary and it’s capabilities in IW. I recommend a comprehensive strategy below but at the IHC and US Embassy in Washington level we should immediately hire high quality media management and lobbying firms that will push our narrative aggressively. Other strategies like buying and incentivising journalists is done by our adversary. We should utilise our media firms to do the same. Our best people should be running this effort. If we lack expertise to select such firms then we should ask our friends like Russia and Israel for assistance.
2. Task Force Truth :
Pakistan has splurged enormous amount of resources to build ISPR as their strike arm in Information Warfare. We have to counter this hydra-headed monster. Let’s set up a dedicated handpicked team of media specialists, ethical hackers, PR, intelligence officers under PMO – ‘Task Force Truth’. Its head should be equivalent to Secy Government of India but should not be a bureaucrat. In fact, there should be no bureaucrats in the team.
The team should comprise of the best domain expertise and imaginative thinking that India has to offer in each field. They should have direct link to journalists and social media influencers. They should collate the truth on topics ranging from– ‘Lynching’, Rape, ‘Intolerance’, Ladakhi oppression, Kashmiri Pandit Oppression, rapes and abduction of Hindu/Sikh women in Pakistan, etc. The plight of the Balochis and Sindhisshould also be highlighted too. A consistent narrative should be built and disseminated in Indian and Western Media. Ample media budgets for dissemination of these narratives should be allocated. We should invest in foreign journalists and news channels, if necessary. The power of Indian ethical hackers must also be harnessed.
3. Social Media:
Our social media strategy should be part of our IW. There are thousands of patriotic Indians willing to help in this and many have expertise in the field. But they need to be harnessed and organised effectively. We must hire social media experts,domestic or foreign, who can do this. One looming threat is ‘Deep Fakes’ – a new technology of videos which create highly credible fake videos. We have to get ahead of these challenges.
The BBC has been circulating fake videos on Kashmir to incite violence. Social media influencers and Indian media have busted several such videos. This is hard evidence. The Government of India through the IHC should file a police case of incitement of violence using fake videos against the BBC. This should be done in London and broadcast to the world. Our campaign should be pursued by the best lawyers in the world and should be done against all media outlets who circulate fake news.
5. Perimeter Security :
This is a basic requirement and must include roof top look outs. A buffer zone must be created around the perimeter of the IHC, manned by trained and battle hardened security personal. All our missions in sensitive countries must be protected. Attacks on our embassies are an attack on India, and not protecting them signals weakness, which is being actively exploited by the adversary. We should also consider installing adequate crowd dispersal technology like sonic weapons, water cannon and tear gas. 03 Sept attacks should have been stopped by using such means. But unfortunately our diplomatic mission in UK failed to do so.
India Government’s biggest advantage is the gargantuan India “human resource” available to it across the globe, who trust Modi government, and are ready to cooperate and contribute to government’s functioning. Hope Indian government will utilize it to counter the propaganda purveyed against India.
Thank you for your time sir.
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