Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ya Hala!

I am rolling with an amazing crew. Too bad they happen to be invading my country.

Aside from the kids who represent Indonesia, most of the men in Team Sherpa are veterans of a 2003 Indian operation called 'Sarp Vinash', meaning 'Destroy Serpent'. Operation Sarp Vinash , the men love repeating, was a huge deal, being a division-size operation, which involved seven battalions and two brigade headquarters. In addition to the 9 Para Special Forces, six other units of the 163 Infantry Brigade spearheaded it, and 12 units of an outfit called the RR took part. These were 2/4 Gorkha Rifles, 15 Garhwal Rifles, 4 Garhwal Rifles, 16 and 20 Rashtriya Rifles.

The names of the outfits don't mean a lot to me either, but my point is that hundreds, perhaps thousands of men were coordinated in the execution of this operation, which I'm told concluded in the successful take down of a hundred or so terrorists hiding out in and around the Himalayan mountains.

Certainly, it says something of my own previous –and honestly– myopic world view. I've always pictured soldiers from developing nations as bozos with bazookas, and maybe you have too. As it turns out, the Indian Army personnel are extraordinarily competent. I am quite impressed with what I have seen, not that I possess any credentials to make judgments one way or the other.

But consider this: the men on this mission have seen action in remote, harsh regions of Kashmir; they are experts of Himalayan terrain, and therefore experienced in mountain and cold weather warfare. It seems to me that tracking down Oliver Lowell and flushing crusader terrorists out of the mountains is the job they were trained to do.

That said, Team Sherpa is not a division sized operation. They are here on a much, much smaller scale. The idea in this situation is not to precipitate a militia, but rather to execute the extraction of one principle leader, and possibly his officers, if readily available.

It is a 'GIGO' or 'Get In Get Out' operation –as the soldiers call it.

Make no mistake, there is still enormous unrest and debate back in Southeast Asia over the question of tactics. Many would have simply closed their borders to Globalization and called it a day, –and those who fervently believe that the equatorial and sub equatorial nations must actively carry out actions like the present one in order to bring the perpetrators of the July 27 crimes to justice, and stop future attacks. I think that tension is explicitly recognized in the precise organization of this response.

Of course everything could change in an instant.