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Security Brief: PACOM Week of June 28, 2021

Week of Monday, June 28, 2021 | Issue 20

Lindsay Hendershott, PACOM Team


2015 Dron DJI Phantom 3 Advanced[1]


Date: June 27, 2021

Location: Indian Air Force Station, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Parties involved: Security forces from Jammu and Kashmir, India; local terrorists; Pakistani militants

The event: On June 27, 2021, two drones deployed by an unknown aggressor dropped high-grade explosives, possibly RDX or TNT, on Jammu’s Indian Air Force Station. The drones caused two explosions that resulted in minor damage to buildings and injuries to two security officers.[2] Police director general, Dilbagh Singh, speculates that the attack was most likely perpetrated by local independent armed groups working with Pakistani nationals.[3] These actors are highly likely to perpetuate terrorism to annex Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan or to create an independent state in the Muslim-majority region. The National Investigation Agency has spearheaded an investigation into the incident. [4]

The implications:

  • This event occurred 14 kilometers from the de facto Pakistani border, indicating the likelihood of drones being smuggled into Jammu from across the border. This is the first terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir carried out via drones.[5] Although this situation resulted in no fatalities and only minor damage to facilities, drones will likely become more commonplace in the region as militants have very likely witnessed their usefulness when employed by other militant groups elsewhere. This will highly likely incentivize terrorist groups to perfect utilizing drones to carry out attacks, meaning that groups could perform actions that require little personal risk for members. In addition to acts of violence, it is very likely that in the future, drones could be used tactically to gather information through surveillance or to transport goods and weapons. Drones could very likely be used to record events for propaganda purposes, and footage shot by the general public using drones could also likely be exploited by terrorist groups.

  • The Indian Air Force Station in Jammu is utilized as a civilian airport.[6] The presence of civilians at this location showcases that although this attack seems to have targeted state facilities and personnel, it could have easily targeted civilians as well. Officials in Jammu and Kashmir must be aware that it is highly likely that civilian populations, especially communities close to the Pakistani border, may become targets for this new method of terror.

  • This shift to utilizing new militant tactics may be directly connected to Indian officials' violent crackdown on possible terrorist activity in Jammu and Kashmir. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act allows security officials to assess whether a person is considered a terrorist, meaning law enforcement has the power to act according to their judgment without a formal court system’s decision.[7] The power dynamic created by this law has very likely allowed law enforcement to abuse its power in Jammu and Kashmir. This abuse of power has very likely created a negative relationship between Indian officials and civilians in many communities in the region.


Date: June 28, 2021

Location: Kaluchak Military Station, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Parties involved: Security forces from Jammu and Kashmir, India; local terrorists; Pakistani militants

The event: On June 28, 2021, two drones were spotted over the Kaluchak Military Station in Jammu city, coming from opposite directions. High alerts were disseminated across the station, and the Quick Reaction Team located at the facility began firing at the drones. Officials fired rounds at the incoming threat, resulting in their dispersion. At this time, it is unknown who or what organization perpetrated the offense. The drones did not cause any damage, injury, or death.[8]

The implications:

  • The close nature of this event to the attack on the Indian Air Force Station in Jammu likely shows that militants are attempting to test the proficiency of the reaction of Indian officials to this new method of terrorism. As militants become more comfortable with drone usage, these encounters with drones will likely become more deadly.

  • The frequency of the use of drones exemplifies terrorist groups’ comfort with acclimating to new technology. This is concerning as terrorists groups’ adaptability will likely enhance their capacity to enact new tactics, as they will be more comfortable with the novel attributes of drone usage.

  • The location of this event is essential as it targeted a military facility, like the previous one. Indian officials should be cautious about possible future attacks on military bases. These drone attacks are likely to be attempting to cause harm and obtain critical information of military stations.

  • The indiscriminate nature of the shots fired at the Kaluchak Military Station showcases a lack of planning and preparation at the station. Although drone attacks are new in Jammu and Kashmir, militant groups in other regions have utilized drones in their tactics.[9] Since this information is public knowledge, preemptive procedures prepared for possible drone encounters should have been implemented before these events. This event should encourage policymakers to stay ahead of the curb regarding technology in terrorism in the future.


Date: June 30, 2021

Location: Rajouri District, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Parties involved: Rajouri District administration

The event: Since the event on June 27, the Rajouri District’s administration in Jammu and Kashmir decided to ban five different drone types. This ban includes the use, sale, and possession of drones. Local civilians have been instructed to surrender their drones to local police officials to implement the new policy. Those who do not comply with the requests of the authorities may be subjected to legal repercussions.[10]

The implications:

  • This new policy implementation demonstrates the region's ability to adapt to new threats. This suggests that although terrorist organizations attempt to modernize their tactics, officials in Jammu and Kashmir attempt to repulse this movement with quick policy implementation. Although this law will likely not prevent terrorist activity, it will likely allow officials to determine that all airborne drones could be a threat. Implementation is very likely to be problematic if locals do not comply with the confiscation of drones.

  • Although policy implementation recognizing the dangers of modern technology is necessary, officials in Jammu and Kashmir should focus their law-making on future threats. The Rajouri District’s ban on drones is likely to be helpful, but additional policy, especially on the de facto border, ought to be implemented to ensure the safety of civilians and military personnel. Officials need to be trained in proper protocol when assessing a situation involving drones. Indiscriminately firing can be extremely dangerous, and finding more accurate ways to ward off drone attacks is necessary. Ensuring public safety should be prioritized when developing policies for security officials regarding this new threat. It would be wise for the government to invest in counter-drone technology such as drone detection, alerting, classification, and mitigation. Policymakers should look past current threats and attempt to prevent and be aware of new technologies that are very likely to aid the endeavors of terrorist organizations.

[1]2015 Dron DJI Phantom 3 Advanced” by Jacek Halicki licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Indian air force base in Kashmir hit by explosions, June 2021, Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/6/27/india-probes-suspected-use-of-drones-in-blast-at-jammu-air-base

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Cheap Tech, Pakistan’s Role: Why First-ever Drone Attack is Pivotal Point in Kashmir Terror, June 2021, News 18, https://www.news18.com/news/india/cheap-tech-pakistans-role-why-first-ever-drone-attack-is-pivotal-point-in-kashmir-terror-3899462.html

[6] Indian air force base in Kashmir hit by explosions, June 2021, Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/6/27/india-probes-suspected-use-of-drones-in-blast-at-jammu-air-base

[7] The Continued Threat of India’s Unlawful Activities Prevention Act to Free Speech, June 2020, Jurist, https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2020/06/bhandari-pokhriyal-uapa-free-speech/

[8] Indian military: 2 drones intercepted over base in Kashmir, June 2021, The Independent, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/indian-military-2-drones-intercepted-over-base-in-kashmir-indian-jammu-pakistan-new-delhi-imran-khan-b1873927.html

[9] The Role of Drones in Future Terrorist Attacks, February 2021, Association of the United States Army, https://www.ausa.org/publications/role-drones-future-terrorist-attacks

[10] Drones, flying toys banned in J&K’s Rajouri district after attacks, June 2021, The Hindu, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/drones-flying-objects-banned-in-jks-rajouri-district/article35053488.ece

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