Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces
A few self styled Defence Analysts are highly upset with the army’s capability development doctrine, a sub part of the Land Warfare Doctrine of the Indian Army, released recently. The doctrine states that “development of capacities will be a pragmatic mix of both capability and threat-based approach to enable a greater span of responses to plausible scenarios for force developers to work on.”
The above is simply not acceptable to some because as perceived by them, Indian Military is not a global force and hence its doctrine for Force Development should be only threat based and not a mix of capability and threat based and certainly never as per Capability Based concepts. Not withstanding the demonstrated power projection in Sri Lanka in 1987-90, earlier prevention of 1986 Coup in Seychelles, Maldives in 1988, Evacuation from Kuwait in 1990, Evacuation from Yemen in 2015 of Indians and people from 26 other countries as requested, Response post Tsunami disaster in 2004 covering area from Maldives to Sumatra, Doklam crisis, and turning back of Chinese flotilla at Sunda strait itself during Maldive crisis in 2018. Though entry of just a few Chinese Naval Ships in IOR makes the Chinese a global power in the eyes of these same gentlemen. As per them IA ‘s capability development plan is very fuzzy, whereas Xi Jingpin has himself given them the Chinese Capability Development plan. So these people forget that even if IA doctrine just emphasises on the two direct threats – Pakistan with the 7th largest Forces and China with the largest and developing so many capabilities, that perforce IA will also have to go full steam ahead to develop these very capabilities. And what about futuristic differences of opinions if any with powerful countries like say Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia and Malaysia. Don’t we need to develop capabilities to deal with such situations ?
The only worrying part is that to back the doctrine, the Nation has to now increase the present Defence Expenditure and bring it up to at least 2% of the GDP. The limited annual defence budget of $49 billion is not adequate. Also both the Defence Research and Industrial Research base needs a solid boost.
Now the Indian Army has this new Land Warfare Doctrine in support of the Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces released in 2017 by HQ IDS. Army also has Counter Insurgency Operation or COIN OPS Doctrine, necessitated because of such operations flaring up since 1948 itself ( Leftists insurgency in Andhra area). Though there are people who think that Army is unnecessarily insisting on operating across the entire spectrum from non-conventional to conventional operations. For such people this kind of activity is neither feasible nor possible. For them Non-conventional and conventional operations are as different as chalk and cheese. They stick to this view even when it has been realised on ground that to become a first rate Non Conventional fighter, you need to possess all the operational traits of a first rate infantry man.
The above Pundits are also in the habit of accusing the army for not relinquishing or reducing its involvement in COINOPS and other peacetime activities. They insist that COINOPS should be tackled by Central Police Forces only. One such Pundit even writes “ By insisting on COINOPS as its primary task, its role in conventional war – forget overall deterrence – is shrinking fast. The greater worry is that its primary role may be reduced to mere border management.” This he writes in spite of the demonstrated performance of the CRPF which is as large as the Infantry Corps of the Indian Army and is equipped with nearly the same weapon and same kind of training.It means the only thing missing is the LEADERSHIP. So for the CRPF to take over the COINOPS, firstly its higher leadership needs to be on deputation from the Army and not the IPS. Secondly the regular officers of the CRPF should do a five year tenure in the Infantry as Short Service Commissioned Officers. However the Army will still require the Rashtriya Rifles to tackle situations in COINOPS when the insurgents get totally or partially replaced / supplemented by terrorists militarily trained and equipped by the hostile neighbours like Pakistan. So there is no alternative for the nation but to spend required amounts on the Rashtriya Rifles as an insurance premium.
It is good that our Land Warfare Doctrine has not been influenced by the Chinese and their military reforms of 2015. Though the Chief of Defence Staff along with North Western, SouthWestern, East Central and Southern Theatres Commanders are urgently required. Also the tendency of the political leadership to rely on National Security Advisor for any military advice must stop forthwith.
China is not going to face any military threat from India, it has not done so in last 7 thousand years of our recorded history. Though it will face deterrence in the form of our growing Nuclear Triad. Though the biggest deterrence for China will still remain the Indian army with boots on ground, which shall always be the primary instrument of the overall deterrence capability of the nation. In case of any Chinese misadventure on ground this time,they will suffer losses worse than Rezang La or Nathu La battles.
With consolidation of its strategic and operational jointness, at the strategic level, PLA sent a wrong political signal to the highest level and it led to confusion over the spread of spectrum between deterrence and military coercion.So what may have succeeded against the Americans got totally blunted at Dokalam. This has been observed by all the Japanese, Koreans, Taiwanese, ASEAN, the ever confused Australians, the Africans, the Arabs, the French, the Germans, the Israelis, the Russians and even the Americans.
Further demonstrating a very strong political will of his own, PM Modi instead of showing any signs of hostility at the Wuhan informal summit in April 2018, talked only about Peace and Cooperation with President Xi Jinping, as if Doklam crisis had not even taken place. Various actions of China thereafter clearly indicates that now they too have started taking India as seriously.
India too has commenced building its rail, road, air and other infrastructures to rectify the 65 years of neglect of the Himalayan Belt and North East. Along with this our own built up of our three forces should give us no worry regarding the capabilities of an untested PLA. The last time it faced bullets fired in anger was on the Sino Vietnam Borders, where it had gone to teach a lesson but got taught itself. However we do need to enlarge our Scale of effort with the Space, Cyber and Special Forces Commands, as mere directorates or divisions will not be sufficient. The PLA’s new Strategic Support Force comprising space, cyber, electronic, psychological and other technical capabilities, very impressive on paper needs to be taken seriously on ground also. So our CDS will need to have Specialised functional Commands to support his joint operations, and to paralyse and sabotage enemy’s command, control, communication, computer and intelligence systems.
When I had taken the first Special Forces Team for deployment to Kashmir Valley in 1992, I was made to attend Weekly Meeting at the HQ Sub Area. The Commander was on a much deserved Annual leave. The meeting in the absence of the Commander used to discuss only “ Strategic Matters of the UN level “ to resolve the Kashmir crisis at hand. In the similar manner a few Analysts try and display profound military knowledge of the Strategical level. Though in reality it gives the impression that the person must have attended Army’s Junior Command Course at Army College of Warfare and must have been an expert at introducing the Sand Models and thereafter sleeping it out in all the discussions.
So these Analysts have also taken umbrage at the term Hybrid Warfare used in the Doctrine. As per them it has been outright lifted from the US Doctrine where hybrid warfare encompasses conventional, unconventional, political, economic, cyber and so on – with emphasis on unconventional and psychological or propaganda warfare. Then in Spite of the threeStrike Corps of the Indian Army these Analysts have the temerity to state that “ the Indian army does not have credible counter-offensive capabilities; three decades of COINOPS has blunted the army’s operational edge, making it unfit for conventional war. This is why Pakistan continues undeterred with its proxy war, killing Indian security forces unabashedly. And the Indian Army, with twice the strength, can do no more than spill its own blood”. These same chaps were earlier so happy with the Dhoti Shivering attitude of New Delhi under the Congress/ UPA, and ga ga over the Aman Ki Aasha attitude and deadly critics of Surgical Strike. To ensure accountability from Pakistan, we have always had the capability only the Political Will was missing so far.
What is really laughable and takes the cake is when one of the Analysts stated that “ IAF has to become the lead land-war service in order to create a favourable air situation. This, however, is unacceptable to the army and therefore regurgitating lessons of previous wars, believes the IAF’s primary role should be to support land battles. Since the IAF doesn’t accept this archaic thinking (and rightly so), the army has decided to have its own air defence cover – thus the sought induction of US Apache armed helicopters.”