Following an analysis of the March 11 Bhejji encounter in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, in which 12 CRPF jawans were killed in a Maoist ambush, the force has circulated a note to all its units, asking them to focus on night ambushes to trap Maoists and put technology to “optimal use”.
It has also said troops must conduct slow road opening operations and that they should be wary of the Maoists’ diversionary tactics.
It was during a road opening exercise that over 100 men of CRPF’s 219 Battalion were ambushed by Maoists.
The note, dated December 13, has been sent to all units in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) areas and mentions that it is a list of lessons learnt from the Bhejji encounter and must be complied with by all units to “avoid such fatal incidents”.
Among the first points it makes are “24X7 Area Domination” and “Night Ambush to be Laid”.
For this, it has asked forces to have adequate unmanned aerial vehicles in the camps, ensure four thermal imagers with each company, apart from cameras with 360-degree view and night-vision capability.
“UAV, Thermal Imager Camera, Metal Detector as well as K-9 have to be put to optimal use,” the communication said.
CRPF sources said that some of these guidelines have always existed while some such as “night ambush” are being stressed upon now.
“Night ambush has its advantages. Maoists generally use the night to plant IEDs and make large-scale movements right before the first light of the morning.
If we can watch their movements and lay an ambush in the night, we can catch them by surprise in the morning and have successful encounters.
But for that, we need to use night-vision equipment more and more,” said a senior CRPF officer.
On “24X7 Area Domination”, the officer explained that it has to be around the camps and in the areas where an operation is likely.
“You can’t have area domination across the jungle. There is no point of it. It also makes the forces vulnerable,” he said.
The note has also asked units to develop “information networks through people-centric operations”.
The Indian Express had reported last week that the CRPF plans to enlist 240 women combatants in Bastar to achieve this.
These women soldiers, drawn from local tribal population, are expected to build bridges with the locals.
For duties such as road-opening, the CRPF has, in the note, asked units to move very slowly and use dogs to detect Maoist ambushes.
It says troops must have complete knowledge of the terrain before launching an operation and has asked units to put in place a crisis management plan and a reinforcement plan.
It has also emphasised that reinforcements following an ambush must rush only on bikes or mine-protected vehicles.
Past experience shows that reinforcements are often ambushed when they reach the spot. The note has stressed that troops must go through ‘Mad Minute Practice’ — an exercise to improve marksmanship during speed shooting.
The Mad Minute was a pre-World War 1 bolt-rifle speed shooting exercise practiced by British Army Riflemen using Lee Enfield rifles. The practice required riflemen to shoot 15 rounds at a target 300 yards away.
The note has also asked for all officers and the rank-and-file to regularly brainstorm and discuss “Naxal Movement And Modus Operandi”.
“We must avoid following a pattern and being predictable… BP (bullet-proof) jackets and helmets to be worn during ROPs (road opening) by 100% troops,” it has added.