First-Order Counterinsurgency in India

There was a very interesting article in the Times over the weekend about India’s decision to step up efforts to combat a growing Maoist insurgency centered in the state of Chattisgarh, but now spreading to surrounding areas as well:

Or one piece of it. India’s Maoist rebels are now present in 20 states and have evolved into a potent and lethal insurgency. In the last four years, the Maoists have killed more than 900 Indian security officers, a figure almost as high as the more than 1,100 members of the coalition forces killed in Afghanistan during the same period.

If the Maoists were once dismissed as a ragtag band of outdated ideologues, Indian leaders are now preparing to deploy nearly 70,000 paramilitary officers for a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign to hunt down the guerrillas in some of the country’s most rugged, isolated terrain.

I don’t know much of anything about the subject other than what’s in the article. It did, however, serve as a reminder that there’s a difference between this kind of situation and the kind of thing that tends to go under the term “counterinsurgency” in the American context. What India has is an insurgency. So the insurgency is being fought by India, which is trying to counter the insurgency.


A lot of what makes the Afghanistan situation problematic is that we’re not there providing assistance to an Afghan government’s counterinsurgency strategy. Instead, we seem to be trying to coerce/cajole the Afghan government into adopting what we think of as a sound approach. That’s a tricky needle to thread.