IAF: Strategic Fire power Doctrine - A Response

Howsoever powerful one may be the battle can be won by fighting jointly. Each service has to make its plan unitedly and individually. Other than complete marine warfare, the command of the battle is retained by the land forces who have to ensure the victory.

IAF: Strategic Fire power Doctrine - A Response

Editor's Note:

Understanding  the Doctrine of the Indian Air Force - 2022. IAP 2000 -22, as it is called. It's a 95 page document that needs to be perused to comprehend what it means and its critical importance for the IAF. This response to it from 1971 Bangladesh war veteran Lt Col MK Gupta Ray is an infantry officer's understanding of the use of air power based on his rich 1971 war experience and his perception of war in present era of 21st century and its likely implications for Indian Armed Forces and India.

The Article:

We often loosely make use of the word Strategy. Before I progress further I would like to first clarify what is strategy and at what level it is conceived. When a country goes for a war it is the supreme political body which makes the strategic plan as to what does it want and the three streams of defence services make their respective strategic and tactical plan in order to attain that strategic aim.  Winning of each tactical battle helps to win strategic war. For example in 1971, the only full scale battle we planned and fought with the strategic plan, was The Bangladesh War. At that time our national strategic objective aim was to liberate East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), for that we undertook strategic offensive in East Pakistan to liberate it and strategic defense in the west Pakistan with limited offensive plan as per the resources available. While bulk of the land forces were deployed in the Eastern Sector, bulk of the Air Force and Navy was deployed in the Western Sector. Within that national strategic objective respective services made its plan. Army went in for Dhaka. Navy and Air force, to assist the army in achieving the ultimate objective and deny the adversary further preparation, went out for interdiction, blockage of enemy access for switching his troops and resources, destroying their respective strategic targets in the enemy country, destroying their communication centers and command and controls etc.  Though navy destroyed the Karachi harbor or air force sank many ships in the ocean but main idea was to give cover to army in attaining national objective of capturing Dhaka which was the seat of power. Since it is only the armed forces which has the capacity to wrest the he land from enemy and hold it in its possession, other services including air force, directly (in close air support) or indirectly assist army in fulfilling national objective.

India, China and Pakistan Tri-junction, Credits: Stratfor

Within the given national objective, the Air Force within itself creates three distinct tasks, viz., Strategic, tactical, and close support to ground attack. All the operations carried out by Air Force and its resources would ultimately be directed to facilitate the army to capture strategic objective irrespective of the magnitude of the battle be it Theater or Zonal. Air Force would carry out the necessary interdiction and strategic destruction to weaken the battle capacity of the enemy thereby softening the main objective directly or indirectly. Accordingly the air force needs to create its resources and allot for its various tasks. In spite of all its successes if ground forces cannot have simultaneous or required progress no air force can win the battle. There are many instances in the Second World War, which was the ultimate war of classical employment of all the three resources; where the battles were won by sheer grit and determination shown by the land forces. After all the army holds the ground.

The examples of Gulf and Kosovo war are really not applicable being unequal battles. Practically entire European world had ganged up under US leadership against Suddam Hussain of Iraq on false pretext and Kisivo war was also a local regional conflict not entitled to be called a war in classical sense.

The development, improvement and employment of various weapons are rapidly changing the mode of fighting. The war between Russia and Ukraine is a glaring example. A small country with limited resources holding up a massive country with its huge resources including large air force by its land army and its ground based weapons like long range artillery, missiles, tanks and drones etc. Russian air force has been pushed back. There are many hand-held, ground configured or air based weapons which are able to counter air superiority.

Afghanistan Joins a New Trilateral Relationship, Credits: Stratfor

One must understand very clearly that in todays’ warfare each one is interdependent in order to attain national objective. Howsoever powerful one may be the battle can be won by fighting jointly. Each service has to make its plan unitedly and individually. Other than complete marine warfare, the command of the battle is retained by the land forces who have to ensure the victory.
However, undoubtedly the future wars will call for larger employment of air force and navy as the battles fields, specially against China, will enlarge and will not remain within the bound of land war. Navy and air force will play a crucial role. Idea will be to destroy enemy from as far as possible.  In case two-front battle air force and navy will have to be built up accordingly. Besides air force, missiles of various categories will play a crucial role. Today China is way ahead in its holding of missiles.

However while assessing the mutual power one may also try to remember that China is almost three times bigger than India and so is its national boundary. China has twelve neighbours, and powerful ones, around it. Some of these are not very friendly. So it would be worth keeping in mind that much of its resources will remain deployed to guard its border in case of Sino India clash.

Lt Col. MK Guptaray is an author of two books; Sri Lanka Misadventure, coauthored with Col Gautam Das and Birth of a Nation on Bangladesh war of 1971. He is a seasoned veteran of the 1971 war; where he had the privilege to participate in the Naogan Sector under 104 Brigade, 19 Division. He participated in Op-Pawan in 1987 capturing over half the Jaffna Town within 5 days of landing at Palali airport with barely a strength of 220 to start with which reduced to 180 in no time. He has held various A, Q and G staff appointments from Brigade to command level.

(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)

For more defence related content, follow us on Twitter: @MVictoryIndia and Facebook: @MissionVictoryIndia

The “Glaciers Issue” & General Musharraf
Previous article

The “Glaciers Issue” & General Musharraf

"The Indian Army undertook actions in 1984 because Pakistan had resorted to cartographic aggression. The actions our forces undertook were quite unique; involved considerable loss of life in the initial actions, in repelling Pakistani assaults, and in the subsequent retention of positions."

Pervez Musharraf, The Commando That Wasn’t
Next article

Pervez Musharraf, The Commando That Wasn’t

Musharraf’s stint as the military ruler of Pakistan was quite nondescript. He tried to browbeat India at the Agra summit with no success. He refused to accept the term “cross-border terrorism” admitting thereby that Pakistan was indulging in it.


🎉 You've successfully subscribed to Mission Victory India!