At a time when border tensions with Pakistan has ignited to new level, post failing of NSA level talks, here comes a ‘smart’ suggestion from the Indian Army Chief – attack instantly without warning. Only catch here is that he made this announcement public, lending time to the army on other side to consolidate their defence!
Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag slammed Pakistan for devising new strategies to create unrest in Jammu and Kashmir as well as spread the “arc of violence” to other areas. Morever, he went on to add that Indian Army was ready for short wars which could be swiftly unleashed without much warning.
Suhag’s assertion hints at the changing war scenario in which the American style surgical strikes can be more result-oriented in terms of Indian army.
“In that context, we are acutely aware that the swift, short nature of future wars is likely to offer limited warning time. This calls for maintaining very high levels of operational preparedness at all times. This is something that has now become inherent in our operational strategy,” he added, speaking at the tri-Service seminar organised as part of the 1965 war’s golden jubilee celebrations.
The veiled acknowledgement of the risk of having to face a blitzkrieg comes in the backdrop of the Army conducting a series of major combat exercises over the last several years — including the recent ‘Brahmashira’ exercise by the 2 ‘Kharga’ Strike Corps in Rajasthan — to practice “swift multiple offensives deep into enemy territory” under its “Pro-Active Conventional War Strategy”. This mobilise-fast and hit-hard doctrine, informally called ‘Cold Start’, emerged from the lessons learnt from Operation Parakram in 2002, launched in response to the terrorist attack on Parliament, which exposed the Indian Army’s operational gaps as well as inability to launch swift punishing strikes across the border.
India’s slow troop mobilisation also gave the international community, especially the US, enough time to intervene. Since then, the Army has also progressively rejigged its formations along the western front to ensure rapid mobilization of self-contained “battle groups” built around the T-90S main-battle tanks.
“If it took a month for the Army strike formations to mobilize during Operation Parakram, it will now take just four-five days for the battle groups to get going. Fine-tuning the strategy is a constant endeavour,” said an officer.
Pakistan, of course, has for long been perturbed by India’s pro-active war strategy, even complaining to the US about it in the past. Moreover, while India may believe that nuclear weapons are not war-fighting weapons, Pakistan has no such compulsions. It frequently flaunts its tactical ‘Nasr’ nuclear missile as a battlefield weapon to effectively deter any Indian conventional armoured thrust into its territory.
Speakers at the seminar on Tuesday, ranging from Vice-President Hamid Ansari and defence minister Manohar Parrikar to the three Service chiefs, acknowledged that threats and challenges had become much more complex since India thwarted Pakistan’s designs of wresting Kashmir by force in the 1965 war.
“A cursory analysis of the 1965 war highlights the fact that a nation’s entire military establishment must constantly refine its capabilities and processes in order to ensure territorial integrity and counter any hostile actions,” Parrikar said.