Air Strikes or Special Forces: How the Myanmar Operation was Meticulously Planned

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Air Strikes or Special Forces: How the Myanmar Operation was Meticulously Planned
New Delhi:  Action within 72 hours - that was what the political leadership had suggested to the Army to liquidate the militant camps across Myanmar. And one of the ways considered to achieve it was the use of Sukhoi and MIG 29 fighter jets, top sources told NDTV.

The first plan had to be dropped because of logistical problems. The second - due to the possibility of huge collateral damage, the sources said.

But action was imperative. Retaliatory strikes had to be taken against militants who ambushed an Army convoy last week killing 18 army men, the heaviest casualty the Army has seen in two decades.

Two militant camps were zeroed on, an officer said. The first one was in Onjha - a few km from Chashad on India-Myanmar border in Manipur - which housed a medley of militants. The more important one was in Ponyu in Myanmar - a few kilometres from the Nagaland border - which housed the militants of NSCN(K), that played a key role in the Manipur attack.

Cancelling a visit to Bangladesh with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval headed for Manipur. So did Army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag, who was to visit the UK.

The two men suggested a surgical attack by 21 Para (Special Forces), a top official in the security infrastructure told NDTV.

The 21 Para (Special Forces) which were selected to carry out the strike, are an elite corps. They train at night and are trained for combat firing, reflex shooting, underwater diving, handling of explosives, free falls, para jumping and deprivation exercises - which means doing all this without food and water for long stretches. Their main weapon -- Israeli-made Tavor Rifles.

The strike was planned for Monday but had to be postponed by a day to get clearance from the Prime Minister, sources said.

Meticulous planning several days; the operation lasted around 45 minutes.

A little after midnight on Tuesday, around 80 Special Forces troops were dropped a little ahead of the border by Dhruv helicopters, from where they stealthily made their way through the dense forests of Myanmar to the Ponyu and Ojia camps.

They smashed the camps - which were said to house nearly 150 militants. After the operation, they walked back to the pick-up point, from where they were evacuated by helicopters.


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