Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

How to minimise the threat from IEDs?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: IED (Improvised Explosive Device)

Mains level: Explosives control

Central Idea: The article discusses various measures that need to be taken to minimise errors in anti-terrorist operations. This has been particularly discussed after recent incidents of IED (improvised explosive device) explosions.

What are IED (Improvised Explosive Device)?

  • IEDs are homemade explosive device made from commonly available materials such as fertilizer, diesel fuel, and metal scraps.
  • They are typically used as a form of guerrilla warfare by non-state actors such as terrorists, insurgents, and other militant groups.

Why discuss IEDs?

  • IEDs are a popular choice for such groups as they are relatively easy to construct, difficult to detect, and can be triggered by a range of mechanisms including pressure plates, remote control, and tripwires.
  • IEDs are often responsible for a large number of casualties and fatalities in conflict zones.

Disadvantage faced by Indian armed forces

  • The security forces are dealing with an enemy who is faceless, unidentifiable, and hidden among the people.
  • Security personnel can open fire only in self-defence, not on apprehension, giving militants the ‘first mover advantage’.
  • The reaction or the response time available for “Immediate Action (IA) or Counter Ambush drill” is a few seconds.
  • All standard operating systems and procedures, technological measures, etc., are directed towards the identification and detection of IEDs/landmines and to avoid being caught in them.

Preventing IED Fatalities

(1) Minimizing Errors

  • Avoid vehicle travel: To avoid casualties/fatalities in Maoist territories, vehicle travel should be avoided.
  • Foot patrolling: Routine operations like area domination, cordon-and-search, long-range patrolling, ambush-cum-patrolling should only be undertaken on foot.
  • Route security: If vehicle travel is essential, the onward and return journeys should never be by the same route, nor undertaken during the daytime.
  • Smaller convoys: Security forces should travel in a convoy of a minimum of two to three vehicles, maintaining a distance of at least 40 to 50 meters between them.

(2) Camouflage and Protective Gear

  • In certain war zones, vehicular deployment is inevitable.
  • Security forces should be equipped with appropriate protective gear and their vehicles should be equipped with V-shaped and armour-plated hull, blast-resistant technology, and proper sandbagging to minimize damage in the event of an explosion.

(3) Making a Region Safe for Travel

  • Detection: Rigorous and regular implementation of various detection methods, such as metal detectors, ground-penetrating radar, and trained sniffer dogs, to locate and clear landmines and IEDs, is essential.
  • Multi strata surveillance: This carried out through drones and road opening parties equipped with UGVs (Unmanned Ground Vehicles) can detect the presence of terrorists and pick tell-tale signs of a likely ambush.
  • Mapping of such areas: Areas known or suspected to contain landmines or IEDs can be mapped, and contingency plans prepared for them.

(4) Intelligence Inputs and Investigation

  • Confidence building: Winning of hearts and minds is essential to gather actionable intelligence.
  • Diligent and scientific investigation: Establishment of linkages through meticulous collection and marshalling of evidence, framing of chargesheets, followed by speedy trials and conviction, serve as a strong deterrent to terrorism.

Policy measures required

  • Regulating explosives: Legislative measures are required for the mandatory addition of odoriferous chemicals and/or biosensors to explosives used in industry and mining for their easy detection during transport.
  • Collaboration with international organizations: Other countries have taken several counter-IED measures, such as the U.S. setting up the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization and spending about $20 billion on counter-IED measures since 2005.
  • Overarching agency: It is needed under the Ministry of Home Affairs to coordinate the efforts of both the GoI and the states, and to provide legislative, technological, and procedural support to law enforcement agencies.


  • It is crucial for governments to take necessary measures to protect their security personnel and prevent casualties caused by IEDs.
  • Again it is essential to raise awareness about the challenges and dangers faced by security personnel in conflict zones and to find effective solutions to mitigate the risks.


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