Large areas, highly-wooded terrain, and an invisible enemy in the North East is prompting the Indian Army and Air Force (IAF) to start using helicopters to curb insurgency in Assam sparked mainly by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).
The ULFA, a largely extortionist group without any clear ideology or political aspirations, is suspected to have blown up an oil pipeline in Upper Assam and attacking infrastructural targets in civilian locations. Unable to use a higher level of force in civilian areas, the Home Ministry has now granted permission to the security forces to take the battle into the bases and forward locations of terrorist forces inside jungles.
Officials of the 4 Corps located at Tezpur in Assam says that helicopters will give them a distinct advantage to circumvent forward defenses, cutting off retreat, and reach enemy positions deep inside the jungles with relative ease. Further, they can easily launch rescue operations or supply relief and counter fire against heavily attacked forces. They cite a recent incidence where a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) unit coming under intense attack and an IAF copter equipped with nigh-vision capabilities launched a daring counter attack and rescue operation of ambushed personnel. However, the Army says that the objective will be to use copters to launch offensive operations to air-drop paratroopers to liquidate militant targets