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Harvir Singh asked: What is the difference between ‘standoff’ and ‘faceoff’?

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  • Deepak Kumar replies: In military parlance, the term ‘standoff’ refers to the measure of separation in ‘time’ and ‘space’ between opposing military forces who are unable to reach an agreement. The opposing forces are ‘fixed’ in time and space and cannot move or are unwilling to move. The aim of standoff could be to build up military and political pressure on an enemy or keep it in fear of war. In a defensive strategy, the aim could be to counter enemy threat or intentions. In a standoff, two nations are at war or close to war without firing a shot. All actions of war except officially going to war are undertaken. All or some of the military preparations, such as mobilisation, war drills, increase in recruitments, increase in stocking and production of military hardware, reconnaissance of commanders, etc., may take place during a standoff. Operation Parakram and in recent times Doklam are examples of military standoffs.

    An aggressive confrontation or argument between opposing forces without physically getting involved in violence is referred to as a ‘faceoff’. If not controlled timely, a faceoff can lead to physical confrontation but may still not involve the breaking of hostilities or even exchange of shots.

    Posted on January 14, 2021

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.