Originality has never been the forte of Indian strategic thinking fraternity. Padded with western jargon and semantics, they dish out theories which are out of sync with the regional and national realities. Most often they fail to carry out any real assessment on the myriad of security threats which India faces.
This is what has been happening to shifting emphasis on India’s need for modernisation. The General Service Qualitative Requirements (GSQR) of weapons systems keep changing. Indian planners pick them up from foreign magazines. They do not work out as per demands of India’s security needs. Fashionable new terms fascinate these planners.
The problem is of no forward planning, say 40-50 years hence. But qualitative requirements are laid down of ‘today’ which become obsolete by the time equipment/weapon systems join the armed forces. This is why the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has not been able to do justice to its existence because GSQR changes frequently.
New strategic policies and structural changes being envisaged in the armed forces, really expose these strategic thinkers. Take the cases of Theatre Commands and Integrated Battle Groups (IBG) concepts. They are not only borrowed from United States military concepts but are being thoughtlessly applied to Indian needs. Change for the sake of change is more harmful than no change.
Specialisation of forces curtails the larger manoeuvrability of forces. Indian forces have to operate in varied terrain against China and Pakistan. Besides, the scenario changes totally, when they are required to be employed in internal security. Theatre specialisation would impact their multi-role functioning.
Also, unless real amalgamation of three wings of the armed forces is carried out by standardised rank structures and uniforms, theatre commands would remain a mixture of disconcerted elements, which would affect its optimum potential. Theatre needs to be compounded with identities of all wings submerged as one big whole.
Even the proposed IBG doctrine is a direct copy from the US manuals. But Indian armed forces do not have a role akin to the US armed forces. They have to operate on a larger canvas of the world. Furthermore, the USA has a wherewithal to execute such doctrines. A massive financial expenditure is envisaged by India to implement such doctrines. India can Ill-afford such huge expenses at the current state of Indian economy.
"Unless real amalgamation of three wings of the armed forces is carried out by standardised rank structures and uniforms, theatre commands would remain a mixture of disconcerted elements, which would affect its optimum potential."
The IBG concept is primarily a conglomeration of mechanised components. In Indian context IBG doctrine can only be employed against Pakistan. But the multiple obstacle system and fractured terrain on both sides of the border minimise the utilisation of such mobile groups.
Even the vast desert opposite Rajasthan sector, does not lend itself for such large scale employment of IBG groups. Mountainous terrain opposite China equally denies their full scale employability.
Most of the Indian strategic experts act as scare mongers. They paint unrealistic scenarios. They give too many capabilities to India’s adversaries. China and Pakistan are made to look as invincible monsters who would eat up India within the twinkling of the eye lashes. Neighbours like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and even Bangladesh are seen as eternally working against India, if these countries pursue their own national interests.
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Instead of blaming these neighbours, these strategic thinkers should question India’s negligence and inability to work in harmony with the individual national interests. One must understand that these neighbours have their own aspirations for growth and development. They can not remain bonded to you, if you do not help their cause.
What is surprising is the manner in which India’s issue of national security has been segregated in two tight compartments of Internal and external security. It lacks a cohesive approach. And on top of that Indian strategic thinkers keep shouting about preparing for a Three front War. They forget that to fight a Three Front War, India needs total integration of not only all security forces but also all the available resources.
Compartmentalisation is a major threat to effective functioning of the security apparatus. As a result of this, every wing of security forces is playing its own flute. There is no integrated approach. And the problem is further complicated when a false narrative of an emerging form of war is given importance.
Indian strategic thinkers do not seem to grasp the concept of Brain Force Wars of the 21st Century replacing the hitherto known Brute Force Wars of earlier centuries. Designer Wars of today employ Non Contact doctrine through Beyond Visual Range (BVR) weapon systems. Sponsored wars in the form of insurgency by using internal weaknesses of adversaries are more in fashion than monkey dancing of forces across the borders.
It is utmost urgent that an integrated security doctrine be evolved keeping in mind the Brain Force War” and Sponsored War. Indian environments have to be taken into account rather than copying concepts of foreign armies.
At the same time, though it is advisable not to underestimate India’s adversaries, yet to accord them capabilities more than they deserve is to demoralise your security forces. Self belief is the key to defeat an adversary. The Enemy is as apprehensive of India’s capabilities as India is of its adversaries.
Face off with China in Eastern Ladakh in 2020-21 and earlier at Doka La in July 2017 in Sikkim, should give a clear indication that China was also apprehensive of Indian military capabilities. It no more thinks that it can get a la-1962 walkover. This is the lesson India must learn from the Galwan clashes in June 2020.
The occupation of Kailash range on 29 August 2020 further rattled China. It would be desirous of Indian strategic experts to stop exaggerating neighbours military capabilities, whether it was China or Pakistan. This is also applicable to other neighbours, such as Myanmar, Nepal or even Srilanka and Bangladesh.
Let India not get hallucinations by saying that Myanmar was getting nuclear weapons. Such wild imaginations set a wrong narrative for national security. And it would lead to wrong prioritisation of resources. The military coup in Myanmar is already under international threat to be derailed. The Military Junta would not be able to sustain itself for long.
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India needs to keep a watch on Myanmar, more particularly because of its Kaladan project, which links Kolkata with Mizoram through Bay of Bengal. It is an alternative route to Siliguri Corridor to link North East with rest of India. It is such issues which should bother Indian strategic thinkers more than anything else.
Myanmar or Bangladesh are China’s bets to make a land entry to the Bay of Bengal. This is what was more threatening to India’s strategic assets on the Eastern coast than nuclear ambitions of Myanmar’s military Generals. Threat is from China and not Myanmar or any other neighbour, such as Srilanka or Nepal.
They could be facilitators of Chinese threat ,which India’s comprehensive security doctrine should counter. This is the job of Indian security experts to properly assess the developing environments rather than wishy washy statements.
About the Author
Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War and has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a defence and national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected])
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')
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