January 24, 2008

COIN in India

Charlie had an opportunity today to take part in a good conversation on counter-insurgency operations in India (a subject on which Charlie nearly wrote her dissertation). It's surprising how little is written in American circles* on these operations, which are amazingly diverse. There are the communist Naxalites, separatists in the Northeast, better known campaigns in Punjab and Kashmir, and a wrenching peacekeeping mission in Sri Lanka. And there are a variety of institutional responses with the police taking the lead in Punjab, new units in Kashmir, and an admission of conventional army defeat in Sri Lanka.

These cases are fascinating in their own terms and well deserving of more detailed study and analysis (though the Indian government isn't exactly forthcoming about a lot of these campaigns). They're also illustrative of much of what the US is dealing with today. It's easy to see parallels between Anbar province and Punjab, where victory partially arrived when local Punjabis turned against the Khalistani militants operating out of Pakistan. And the multi-layered complexity of Kashmir mirrors much of the broader war on terror, with its local insurgency, foreign jihadis, and Great Game nuclear intrigue.

So if you're bored with Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention Malaya and Algeria), there's plenty of food for thought in India and the sub-continent.

*Christine Fair is a notable exception.