Uri: The what and how’s of the Indian Army surgical strike against Pakistan

Today (29 September 2018), is second anniversary of India’s much acclaimed surgical strike against militants in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). There are many controversies doing rounds in the internet and social circles on the strike India carried out outside the its territories. However, a majority of the public remain unaware of what a surgical strike was, and how a multitude of events led to the strikes.

The Uri movie official poster from IMDb.


Ever since the NDA government came to power in 2014, India has maintained a very tough posture towards external and internal threats, whether it be against cross border firing from Pakistan or against the various terrorist organisations targeting civilians or armed forces of the country.

A major shift in the Indian defence posture has happened with a cross border raid against the NSCN-K, which ambushed an Indian army convoy in Manipur which led to the death of 18 Indian army jawans. The raid on 9 June 2015, carried out by a combined team from the Indian Air Force and 21 Para (Special Forces) unit of the Indian Army, is said to have caused a casualty as high as 158.

Ever since the raid was announced, Pakistan maintained that it would not tolerate "any such misadventure by the Indian Army" in its soils. The fear of an offensive from the Indian side elevated when four militants, allegedly belonging to Jaish-e-Muhammad based in Pakistan, entered a military compound in Uri on 18 September 2016 and carried out an attack which led to the death of 19 Indian soldiers.

The deed day

Following the terrorist attack, Indian Army iterated that it is maintaining maximum restraint, but is also considering to avenge the supreme sacrifice of it soldiers at a “time and place of our own choosing”. The statement indeed alerted the Pakistan military establishments and a high alert was issued along the border.

On 29th of September 2016, the Indian Army DGMO (Director General of Military Operations) Lt. General Ranbir Singh, announced in a press conference that India has conducted a surgical strike outside its territory to avenge the Uri Attack, inflicting heavy casualty on terrorists preparing for infilteration into the Indian terrirory. The army reported that the strikes were based on very credible and specific intelligence on the terrorist teams, which were preparing to infiltrate into India and conduct massive terrorist strikes in various Indian cities.

Further details during the following days revealed the mode of operation adopted by the special forces during the strike. A reconnaissance operation is said to have preceeded the actual strike, wherein the data required an effective operation were collected. Based upon the reconnaissance data, the operation was planned in detail and the exact time and location for the strikes was finalised.

During the early hours of 29 September, three to four teams of special forces commandos from the 4th and 9th Para SF regiments crossed the border under the cover of artilery fire, according to certain Indian security sources. The teams are said to have penetrated 1-3 km into the enemy territory and awaited the pre-decided time for the attack. At around 2 AM, the teams are said to have begun the attack and destroyed several terrorist bases. During the course, the Indian Army is said to have attacked “those who were trying to support the militants” as well, indicating that certain Pakistani troops were also neutralised. The teams are said to have returned to the Indian territory by early morning with no casualty reported, except for a soldier wounded after tripping on a land mine.

What is a surgical strike?

A surgical strike is a limited and precisely planned targeted attack, with no (or minimal) collateral damage. As opposed to the popular belief, a surgical strike may not always maintain a surprise element, which was present in the Indian strike. Typically surgical strikes are conducted with air power, and would happen deep inside the enemy territory.

The Para (Special Forces) Unit

Para SF is a special forces unit of the Indian Army, attached to the parachute regiment. The unit is tasked with unconventional warfare, hostage rescue, special reconnaissance and operations, counter insurgency operations etc. The unit is acclaimed for its operations in 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, Operation Blue Star, Operation Pawan (in Sri Lanka), Operation Cactus (in Maldives) and various operations in Kashmir.

The "Balidaan" Badge of the Para SF
(By Ambekar.s, from Wikimedia Commons)


The strike was warmly welcomed by the Indian public and various friendly nations. Many countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Europian Union, Germany expressed support for the Indian action. The surgical strike was later deemed as a symbol of a firm international posture the NDA government. History channel later released an episode on the surgical strike detailing the operation.

On the second anniversary of the strike, RSVP Movies announced an upcoming triller “URI” featuring the surgical strike. The movie is expected to be released in theatres on 11 January 2019.