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#2424, 23 November 2007
The Day After 'Cold Start' Firdaus AhmedFreelancer e-mail: firdyahmed@yahoo.com
India's 'Cold Start' doctrine was released by the then Army Chief, Gen NC Vij, during the Army Commanders Conference on 28 April 2004. Subsequent media discussion suggests that it visualized early launch of Indian forces in multiple 'integrated battle groups', including an air component, in a Limited War to destroy enemy forces.
In the latest air exercise, Ex Abhyas, Western Air Command is believed to have practiced 'hitting the political will' of the adversary to ensure 'clear cut advantages' at the termination of the conflict. This would presumably be on the lines of the two Gulf Wars in rendering the enemy defenseless by first knocking out its air force and then destroying its forces, infrastructure and 'value' targets piecemeal. From this it appears that two wars would be simultaneously fought - the land war dictated by 'Cold Start,' and the air power's deep battle. Against this backdrop it is worth examining whether the day after 'Cold Start' would, indeed, unfold as intended.
On how Pakistan might counter India's 'pro-active' storm, three aspects need highlighting.
One is the sociology of the Pakistani state; its foremost characteristic has been unveiled as 'Milbus' by Ayesha Siddiqa Agha (Military Inc. - Inside Pakistan's Military Economy). The term 'Milbus,' by fusing military-business, describes the predatory nature of the praetorian Pakistani state in which the military extracts state resources by penetrating the economy through commercial activities in the guise of 'welfare,' and thereby perpetuates its domination of the state. This fact influences the decision whether and how the Pakistani military responds to the call of battle. The primary consideration would be retaining power post-hostilities over its own society.
The second factor -nuclear capability - would permit Pakistan to utilize deterrence, since it is suspicious of India's doctrine of limited penetration. In the event, Indian forces would advance into a vacuum. Besides, in light of Limited War theory, status quoist India would have limited aims, confined to punitive action when provoked past its 'tolerance threshold', rather than to acquire territory or seek regime change.
The last factor is an asymmetric response in occupied areas. President Musharraf is on record saying that unconventional warfare would be used against Indian troops. Collateral damage is unlikely to lessen the magnitude of this threat. On India's departure, Pakistan could claim victory with its relatively well preserved military reinforced in power, while India would have the satisfaction of having drawn blood.
This tame visualization of the 'day after' is not complicated by the effect of the second war India would simultaneously be fighting by its deeper strategic application of air power. Driving the Pakistani air force out of the reckoning would enable an open season for India's air power. Thereafter, with the Gulf Wars as the precedent, 'hitting political will' would involve targeting decision makers, infrastructure destruction and forcing the Pakistani Army into giving battle.
The likely effect on national morale and political resolve can best be assessed by recourse to the effect of the air campaigns in World War II. In the short term this would register a rise; but lack of time would preclude everything else. Indian satisfaction would come from administering a deep wound in return for the 'thousand cuts' received. Staying on for a more telling air campaign may have an Iraq style backlash on the land front, besides only making the rubble bounce to no strategic purpose.
The complication lies in the violence unleashed through air power. Press reports from Ex Abhayas indicate that the intention is to 'mobilize fast and strike hard' (Times Of India, 15 September 2007). The psychological effect on the battle space encompassing all of Pakistani territory, in conjunction with the entire length of land borders coming alive at the very outbreak of hostilities, would be disconcerting. Air and missile strikes on strategic targets, particularly those degrading Pakistani nuclear deterrent, would be seen as most threatening. In the bargain, the 'use it or lose it' dilemma would appear, and Pakistan would be driven to nuclear use early in the conflict. In this surcharged atmosphere it may be forced to do so, if India forces its hands by lack of moderation in using air power. This would unintentionally drive both states into terrain neither wishes to traverse.
It is not known to what extent the joint doctrine released by the Defense Minister at the Unified Commanders Conference of 17 May 2006 has integrated air power with such intended use of land power. The joint doctrine needs to evolve in this direction. The Army's 'Cold Start' doctrine is sensitive to the compulsions of Limited War, hence the strategic employment of India's air and missile capabilities must also be tempered.

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