Army reworks war doctrine for Pakistan, China

NEW
DELHI: The Army is now revising its five-year-old doctrine to effectively meet
the challenges of a possible `two-front war’ with China and Pakistan, deal with
asymmetric and fourth-generation warfare, enhance strategic reach and joint
operations with IAF and Navy.

Work on the new war doctrine — to
reflect the reconfiguration of threat perceptions and security challenges — is
already underway under the aegis of Shimla-based Army Training Command, headed
by Lt-General A S Lamba, said sources.

It comes in the backdrop of
the 1.13-million strong Army having practised — through several wargames over
the last five years — its `pro-active’ war strategy to mobilise fast and strike
hard to pulverise the enemy.

This `cold start strategy’, under a NBC
(nuclear-chemical-biological) overhang, emerged from the `harsh lessons’ learnt
during Operation Parakram, where it took Army’s strike formations almost a month
to mobilise at the `border launch pads’ after the December 2001 terrorist attack
on Parliament.

This gave ample opportunity to Pakistan to shore up
its defences as well as adequate time to the international community, primarily
the US, to intervene. The lack of clear directives from the then NDA government
only made matters worse.

“A major leap in our approach to conduct of
operations (since then) has been the successful firming-up of the cold start
strategy (to be able to go to war promptly),” said Army chief General Deepak
Kapoor, at a closed-door seminar on Tuesday.

The plan now is to
launch self-contained and highly-mobile `battle groups’, with Russian-origin
T-90S tanks and upgraded T-72 M1 tanks at their core, adequately backed by air
cover and artillery fire assaults, for rapid thrusts into enemy territory within
96 hours.

Gen Kapoor identified five thrust areas that will drive the
new doctrine. One, even as the armed forces prepare for their primary task of
conventional wars, they must also factor in the eventuality of `a two-front war’
breaking out.

In tune with this, after acquiring a greater offensive
punch along the entire western front with Pakistan by the creation of a new
South-Western Army Command in 2005, India is now taking steps — albeit
belatedly — to strategically counter the stark military asymmetry with China in
the eastern sector. There is now “a proportionate focus towards the western and
north-eastern fronts”, said Gen Kapoor.

Two, the Army needs to
`optimise’ its capability to effectively counter `both military and non-military
facets’ of asymmetric and sub-conventional threats like WMD terrorism, cyber
warfare, electronic warfare and information warfare.

Three, the armed
forces have to substantially enhance their strategic reach and out-of-area
capabilities to protect India’s geo-political interests stretching from Persian
Gulf to Malacca Strait.

“This would enable us to protect our island
territories; as also give assistance to the littoral states in the Indian Ocean
Region,” said Gen Kapoor.

Four, interdependence and operational
synergy among Army, Navy and IAF must become the essence of strategic planning
and execution in future wars. “For this, joint operations, strategic and
space-based capability, ballistic missile defence and amphibious, air-borne and
air-land operations must be addressed comprehensively,” he said.

And
five, India must strive to achieve a technological edge over its adversaries.
“Harnessing and exploitation of technology also includes integration of network
centricity, decision-support systems, information warfare and electronic warfare
into our operational plans,” he added.

Apart from analysing the
evolving military strategy and doctrines of China and Pakistan, the Army is also
studying the lessons learnt from the US-launched Operation Enduring Freedom in
Afghanistan in 2001 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and their relevance to
India.