INDIAN ARMY’S NEW ‘COLD START’ WAR DOCTRINE STRATEGICALLY REVIEWED-PART II (ADDITIONAL IMPERATIVES)
by Dr. Subhash Kapila
Indian Army’s above named war doctrine stood reviewed in the earlier paper of this author( SAAG Paper No991. dated 04,05,2004 entitled: India’s New "Cold Start" War Doctrine Strategically Reviewed)
Some additional imperatives, which have a significant bearing on the operationalisation of the new war doctrine, are listed below.
It has already been noted in the earlier Paper that this new ‘Cold Start’ war doctrine is Pakistan specific. Hence the imperatives discussed below need to be viewed in that context.
Re-location of Armoured Divisions, Armoured Brigades and Strike Formations Headquarters:
Since the most significant aim of the new war doctrine is to strike offensively without giving away battle indicators of mobilization, it is imperative that all strike formations headquarters, Armoured Divisions and Armoured Brigades are re-located from their existing locations in Central India and in depth in Punjab to forward locations.
All such formations should be moved forward to the general line of Barmer-Jaisalmer-Bikaner-Suratgarh from their present locations in the interior.
It can be envisaged that armoured formations would be loathe to move forward from their cushy cantonments on the plea that an adequate infrastructure should first come up. If infantry formations have existed in field area conditions for decades, there is no reason why armoured formations cannot similarly exist.
In this connection, the author would like to observe based on his exposures to NATO armies and United States forward deployments in Okinawa and Korea that no Army wastes so much money on building huge garages etc for their tanks. Field coverings of tanks etc should suffice.
Since conflicts in South Asia can erupt without long drawn out battle indicators, it is necessary that armoured formations are moved to the general line suggested above, and infrastructure creation can follow.
Higher Commanders Mental Robustness and Military Audacity:
Military operations of the type envisaged in Indian Army’s new war doctrine incorporates swift, fluid and relentless offensive operations, without the luxury of pauses and time duration spans of defensive operations to which Indian Army’s higher echelons are so conditioned to today.
Such swift and mobile fast-paced operations present the challenges of rapidly changing tactical situations and fleeting opportunities. The exploitation of these demands a high order of mental resilience and an eagle eye for reading such rapidly changing battle situations.
Military audacity does not come overnight. It has to be cultivated over a long period of time. If the German Panzer generals like Rommel and Guderian had been brought up in defensive mindsets of the Indian Army and the Indian political leadership, the blitzkreig’ lightening operations with which they covered themselves with glory would not have come their way.
Military orthodoxy in the Indian Army must give way to military audacity and offensive spirit, and the Indian Army higher commanders should ensure that it becomes the hallmark of junior leaders too..
C4I-(Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Networks) Need Upgradation and Fine Tuning:
Mechanized offensive operations by joint Army and Air Force cooperation require a highly upgraded and fine tuned C4I network. Since line communications become redundant in such a war doctrine, so envisaged, the command and control of such mechanized operations where fresh orders have to be passed every other minute, there will be a generation of high density traffic on C4I networks.
The Indian Army would have to create an extensive C4I network which can handle high density traffic on the move, which is secure, having scrambling and unscrambling features including digital voice fax and telex encryption capabilities.
Alternative and duplicate means will also have to be provided due to disruptions and destruction by enemy action.
Indian Air Force (IAF) Planning and Concept of Operations:
The Indian Air Force may have a marked superiority over the Pakistan Air Force in terms of sophisticated combat aircraft and advanced training,but this is not enough by itself.
The entire Indian Air Force planning will have to undergo a significant re-orientation in terms of concept of operations.
The following points need to be noted:
* New war doctrine of the Indian Army would call for more massed air operations as against compartmentalized sorties and small scale air operations in vogue so far.
* IAF should be able to generate very high sortie rates round the clock with effective maintenance support.
* Advanced C4I systems and use of AWACS system is a must. Indian Defence Ministry needs to speed up AWACS acquisition. In the interim explore for a lease; it may not be a problem.
* PGMs (Precision guided munitions) would be used extensively in such operations. Extensive stocks should be built up from now.
* Systems to paralyse and jam enemy radar and air defence networks would be a high priority.
The aim of the IAF in support of the Indian Army’s new war doctrine should be to combine mass with technology and PGMs and advanced munitions to paralyse the enemy’s reaction and destroy his war waging materiel and potential.
Air Defence Networks and Systems:
A sizeable expansion of India’s air-defence network would be required with multi-layered air defence in terms of surveillance, range capabilities and engagement ranges. This would need to be backed by an effective C4I system integral to the air defence system.
Mobile air defence weapon systems for the strike formations, combat area air defence networks, rear areas air defence networks for VAs and VPs and of all air bases calls for significant investments.
It must be remembered that an effective air defence system for IAF bases would enable release of that many combat aircraft on air defence duties to support combat operations. India’s air defence planning should now also incorporate ballistic missile defense systems as the enemy has a vast array of ballistic missiles. Here one is not talking of the NMD or TMD level of ballistic missile defences but of the US PATRIOT or the Russian S-300 systems.
The fourth generation of S-300 that is S-300PMU-1 system entered in service in 1995. In the Russian arsenal, a battery of this system includes 48 48N6 missiles mounted on 12-transport-erector-launchers. The missiles have a range of 5-150km and a maximum altitude of 27km.All of this supported by a highly sophisticated C4I battle management system including engagement radars. It is named as ALMUZ 83 M6
India was considering acquisition of these mobile systems but the “considering” has now to be translated into 'fast track' acquisition.
Integration with Nuclear Warfare Plans Both Defensive and Offensive:
Pakistan’s nuclear threshold is very low and its nuclear doctrine does not believe in “No First Use.” Secondly, Pakistan’s nuclear triggers are in the hands of Pakistan Army known for its jingoism and military adventurism. India’s new war doctrine has to take into account that in the execution of its “Cold Start” War Doctrine and if lightening success comes their way, Pakistan could use its nuclear weapons or even the tactical nuclear weapons it claims to have. Reports suggest a few in original have been passed by China to Pakistan and these could come into play.
India’s execution of its new war doctrine must be integrated with nuclear warfare plans both defensive and offensive. And by defensive it is meant that Pakistani goes in for in first strike and by offensive it is meant the scenario in which India resorts to “second strike” in response. In both cases strike formations of Indian Army will have to operate on a nuclear battlefield.
NBC Proofing of Tanks/APCs, Provision of NBC Combat Suits for Personnel and Systems Within Strike Formations:
As a corollary of the above it follows that on first priority , Indian Army’s strike formations to be used in the new war doctrine are well equipped for battlefield combat under NBC conditions. It means that all tanks and APCs, command and control tanks, and allied vehicles, all have NBC sealing kits and that strike formations are equipped with de-contamination vehicles and kits and that all personnel are equipped with NBC suits to under take battle operations in NBC scenario. .
Sadly, it has to be noted that even today every Indian Army soldier combating Pakistan’s proxy war has not been equipped with bulletproof vests. What a poor contrast to the politicians sporting bullet proof vests and moving in bullet proof cars in New Delhi, while soldiers facing enemy bullets have not been so equipped due to bureaucratic lethargy.
Hopefully the Ministry of Defense bureaucracy and the Defense Minister would recognize the imperatives of equipping India’s strike formation with NBC combat suits.
Imperatives of Digitalised Real Time Information and Satellite Coverage:
India’s intelligence penetration of the Pakistan Army even in terms of human intelligence is not satisfactory. This limitation has to be off-set by technical means encompassing high attitude surveillance aircraft and satellite imagery with high resolution.
More importantly, such technical means should be geared to provide real time digitalized information to strike force commanders, with special reference to movements of enemy’s reserve formations. The Indian Army has to devise and acquire systems for such capabilities.
Indian Army’s Electronic Welfare (EW) Capabilities Enhancement:
Fortunately, the Indian Army has been focusing on this aspect from the 1980s, but the demands of the new war doctrine call for an effective enhancement of existing EW capabilities.
India’s EW capabilities must cater for jamming and neutralizing of Pakistan’s nuclear command and control systems, air-defense and surveillance system jamming and a complete paralysis of Pakistani C4I system in the battlefield area of India’s strike formations.
India’s technological capability in electronics and allied systems and Information Technology should enable it to use cyber-warfare as a force multiplier.
India’s ICBM and SLBM Development: India’s new doctrine would be unable to to generate its full potential without an ICBM and SLBM back-up. Both in the Congress regimes and in the BJP regime, external pressures have impeded their development. A national will is now required for a “Fast track ’’materialisation of these missiles in India’s missile arsenal.
The Indian Army needs to make an exhaustive study of United States military operations in Gulf War I and Gulf War II. The Chinese have painstakingly gone through every detail of US military operations to draw the relevant lessons.
It would be wrong to surmise that the US military has been ineffective in Iraq because of the present problems that have now surfaced. These problems are post-war and are political in nature and do not detract from the US military’s use of high-technology war-fighting to subdue the enemy by demoralization of the Iraqi military machine in the war fighting phase.
India’s new war doctrine in terms of operationalising the concepts militarily, should aim at the destruction of the Pakistani military machine and the demoralization of the Pak Army. That would be the acid test for any political leadership of the day and the Indian military hierarchy.
This is not pontificating but an accurate appraisal of the achievable in relation to strategic means available. The only caveat being this that it calls for national political will to use military power ruthlessly and the military hierarchy of India to be militarily audacious and relentless in offensive operations.
(The author is an International Relations and Strategic Affairs analyst. He is the Consultant, Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. Email drsubhashkapila @yahoo.com)