It's simple. With two offensive neighbours, we need to be prepared integrated. The fault lies when we plan to fight but do not prepare. War is inevitable- in whatever form. But we react to a threat in being, rather than prepare capabilities that are adequate to cause retribution, perfect enough to take the battle into dimensions that should be scary and the main deterrent, "take the battle to the enemy". Hit at the jugular. With Pakistan, hit them in the seas. That’s their weakest point. You do not hit strength with strength, that is foolish. But our operational art fails us on this count. You don’t hit them on land where they are considerably well-prepared. Force them to battle where they least want it. In this case, it is the seas.
With China, we are all hitting at the wrong places. What is China scared of? The survivability of the PLA and its supreme commander, their president Xi Jinping. China is scared of the rising westernisation and the youth being apprehensive of the current dispensation. It is wary about international repercussions to its hegemonic ideas. Militarily, China is beyond India’s capability. A simple truth, hard to digest. With many Indian generals deployed in the field, a commonly used adage is "we will give them a bloody fight." I want to tell them: it is not your fight, it is not the isolated application of military power. What is the long term plan? What is your survivability? What is your endurance capability? Are you falling prey to China’s way of warfighting, or your appreciation of their likely conduct?
War with China in the contact domain will be an all-of-the-nation approach. It is not your war or my war. It is our war. But for god's sake, the acme of military leadership is to win without fighting. Therefore, the grey zone. Unattributable and unseen. We need to build capabilities beyond the military. Create a narrative. Push that narrative. Keep maturing the narrative as the key, aimed at the perception of the Chinese people.
Theaterisation is a welcome change but not the way it is being done. The element of selfish intent and missing logic on geographical dispensation is itself flawed. Here HR-related issues seem to take precedence over strategy.
What I recommend is simple. Let everyone be as they are. Doing the role in all commands in their respective services as assigned to them. What we need is the Brahmastra. A Sabre command.
The Sabre command will be the striking arm of the nation. Given a capability that is both aggressive and offensive, and prepared for any out of area contingency. Forces integrated, modern, equipped, and trained to manifest operations over all terrains. Adequate amount of technology being built in. A developing nation needs to concentrate on niche warfighting elements. With the current defence budget, do not pilfer it on all and sundry. Use it to equip a distinct formidable force. Build capability. Organise to hit at weaknesses and exploit opportunities.
What would the Sabre command look like?
Two Indian strike corps. Maybe 1 and 17, offensive components of the airforce in terms of dedicated squadrons and capable elements of the Indian navy that have the reach and the capacities. This would also be augmented with every element of SF, IW, cyber, strategic systems and space.
What would they do?
They would prosecute operations anywhere and everywhere, consolidated to ensure 100% success and deliver the impact of the nation's will. They would be "the threat in being." The main deterrent. The other elements of the military will still go on with business as usual. The Sabre command will be the arm of decision.
Where will they be located?
Centrally disposed to take on all fronts and dimensions. Given the adequate reach and maintaining the factor of surprise and deception.
Who would command it?
Any military officer who has served in an operational tri-services environment. Under the CDS. Someone who knows to use aggressive military power as a decision-making tool devoid of political interference.
We need to concentrate on building capabilities that are relevant and not isolated. Invest your money where you can get dividends. Be futuristic. Create a force that is formidable, imaginative, vague to the world and above all remains under the radar. We can’t use theatrics for theaterisation.
About the Author
The author is a military analyst and commentator on national security issues. Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial policy of Mission Victory India