Business Standard article of Jul 16 ,2022 elaborately gives the gist of the views of Praveen Sawhney of his recent book titled ' The Last War : How AI Will Shape India’s Final Showdown With China ' (Aleph ). The article highlights words of Praveen Sawhney that "If India and China were to fight a war in the near future, China could take Arunachal and Ladakh with minimum loss of life".
This has drawn strong and angry responses against the same from numerous veterans.
The detailed, point wise response to the contents of the Business Standard article (of Jul 16,2022 ) received by MVI from Gp Capt TP Srivastava strongly counters the article and views of Praveen Sawhney on the subject . Readers should now read these and draw their own conclusions on the subject and related issues!
View: "India faces the prospect of losing the war within ten days" - Praveen Sawhney (PS)
Counterview: "Above is the assumption/conclusion/opinion of a self proclaimed military strategist." - Gp Capt TP Srivastava (TPS)
Srivastava' s Article is a 'Fitting Rejoinder' to the Business Standard article of Jul 16 ,2022 promoting Praveen Sawhney' s book : ' The Last War : How AI Will Shape India’s Final Showdown With China '
Original article with comments of Gp Capt TP Srivastava on each one of the unsubstantiated claims is given below
View (V/PS): If India and China were to fight a war in the near future, India faces the prospect of losing the war within ten days. China could take Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh with a minimum loss of life, and there is very little that India could do about it, says military expert and best-selling author Pravin Sawhney.
This is because the Indian military is preparing for the wrong war, says Sawhney in his eye-opening and disquieting book, ‘The Last War: How AI Will Shape India’s Final Showdown With China’ (Aleph), as he explains in great detail how this alarming scenario could play out.
Counterview (CV/TPS): I invariably try to assimilate the contents of such write ups, which make unsubstantiated claims and successfully sensationalise an issue. After about a dozen reading of this write up, I am convinced that it has little or no strategic value and is aimed at promoting sales of the latest title. Incidentally I read author’s earlier write up on Op Parakaram. Author’s views were and are devoid of reality and are based on fiction and presumptuous imagination. For instance author deliberately avoided to risk mentioning only and primary cause of Op Parakaram; The Security Lapse by Delhi Police/CRPF/Parliamentarians. After all “Rozi Roti Ka Sawal Hai”. I the present instance too author has merely placed his utterly flawed and imaginary proposition clearly highlighting his total lack of situational awareness. For instance his assertion that Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh will be annexed in ten days exemplifies his utter disdain for India’s military capability in the region. Advancing Chinese columns towards Arunachal will not only meet impregnable defences of our ground forces but also will be decimated by IAF strike elements. PLAAF’s ability to support Chinese Army columns is at best limited in that area.
However author might succeed in promoting sales of his latest book.
View (V/PS): China’s war with India will be reminiscent of the 1991 Gulf War during which the US military’s battle networks connecting sensors to shooters and guided munitions with support from space assets had induced shock and awe in militaries worldwide. Similarly, China’s war with India will stun the world with the use of artificial intelligence, emerging technologies, multi-domain operations, imaginative war concepts, and collaboration between humans and intelligent robots, Sawhney writes.
Counterview (CV/TPS): His comparison of ‘supposed’ next Indo-China conflict with 1991 gulf war is laughable with tears. He obviously has little knowledge of Gulf War of 1991. Usage of phraseology to mask any worthwhile contents viz “ US Military battle networks connecting sensors to shooters“ makes no military sense but scares the less informed reader about non existing severity of situation. He has deliberately avoided stating even one existing capability of Chinese Military comparable with MNF of 1991.
View (V/PS): China has been preparing for this since the 2017 Doklam crisis after which it permanently augmented its troops across the Line of Actual Control – leading to a stand-off that has continued for two years without any tangible signs of resolution.
Counterview (CV/TPS): What a revelation that China has been preparing since 2017! Prior to that China was sleeping? Such loaded statements without any justification has been copied from Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged. Author has little knowledge about politico-military deliberations conducted by Military. Govt of India’s stand that political/diplomatic talks will commence only after Military talks have succeeded is an outstanding example of tough stand taken by current government.
View (V/PS): The author argues that China’s superpower status will only grow and the ‘capabilities lag’ between the two countries will expand. And if there is outright war, the Indian military will be no match for China’s AI-backed war machines.
Counterview (CV/TPS): Indeed the author only argues and rarely discusses. Argument is exchange of ignorance-discussion/deliberation is exchange of intelligence. Merely granting unproven AI capabilities shows the level of ignorance.
View (V/PS): In such a war, traditional conventional forces will be at a huge disadvantage, nuclear weapons will have no role to play, and the valour of individual soldiers will be of no consequence.
Counterview (CV/TPS): Wow! With few words the author has eliminated the most powerful existing deterrence with proven delivery systems, which can reach Shanghai and Beijing, the nukes. It is ironic that author (himself being a former soldier) has discounted valour from warfare.
View (V/PS): India is honing its strengths to fight a war in the three physical domains of land, air, and the sea, whereas the PLA is working on becoming the overwhelmingly superior force in seven domains – air, land, sea (including deep-sea warfare), outer space, cyber space, the electromagnetic spectrum, and near space (aka the hypersonic domain).
Counterview (CV/TPS): Just irrelevant and unproven claims and nothing else.
View (V/PS): The PLA’s disruption technologies will overwhelm India within the first seventy-two hours of hostilities commencing, and will lead to the quick end of India’s resistance, the author writes, as the primary battleground will not be on land but in cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum.
Counterview (CV/TPS): ‘Disruption Technology’ of what and how? I ‘guess’ author is talking about communication disruption. For records; no country individually or with combined effort of friends can jam/disrupt communications ranging from VLF to UHF range. Fibre Optic connectivity can only be disrupted by physically severing the cable connecting two servers. Each Military component has clearly defined tasks/actions in the event of poor and/or disrupted connectivity. Indeed it will have effect on overall fighting efficiency. But Indian Military is also not sitting with ‘MEHNDI’ on both hands and black band around the eyes. Use of terms viz cyber space, electromagnetic spectrum etc sound very nice. An eminent scientist only recently commented that while cyberspace as a term is being talked about but no one has yet been able to identify the contents/capability of cyberspace. Talking about EM spectrum; it is nothing new. There are counter measures available. Hopefully author and his colleagues in China have not perfected the technology of controlling and capturing Solar Flares and Coronal Ejection from Sun.
View (V/PS): ‘The Last War’ explains why it’s critical that India works to prevent such a war ever taking place.
Counterview (CV/TPS): If the author had any clue about diplomacy, he would have concluded that it is China, which is trying to disentangle itself from the ill conceived DOKLAM fiasco and not India. India stands firm on finding an amicable solution suited to Indian needs on Border issue. China cannot risk a war with India because it will extinguish its dream of becoming numero uno super power. China has higher stakes in Taiwan.
View (V/PS): It should avoid focusing on joint combat with the US, whose power in the region is weakening. Instead, India should seek to make peace with China and Pakistan, its main adversaries at the moment, while simultaneously working to enhance its military and technological strengths in areas that it hasn’t focused its resources on. Only then will the country’s borders be firmly secure, and the region’s future peace and prosperity be assured, the author maintains.
Counterview (CV/TPS): I agree with author that we should keep USA at arms length but keep ‘milking’ them for technology and advanced weaponry. USA has demonstrated/confirmed its week kneed approach by failing to apply CAATSA provisions on India. On the issue of peace with China; It is more important for China to be at peace with India (read statement of Wang Yi made a few days ago).
Sawhney is editor of the FORCE news magazine on national security and defence since August 2003. The author of three books – “Dragon On Our Doorstep: Managing China Through Military Power” (co-authored with Ghazala Wahab), “The Defence Makeover: 10 Myths That Shape India’s Image”, and “Operation Parakram: The War Unfinished” – he has been visiting fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, United Kingdom and visiting scholar at the Cooperative Monitoring Centre, United States.
After thirteen years of commissioned service in the Indian Army, he worked with Times of India and Indian Express – and with the UK-based Jane’s International Defence Review.
Additional Comments of Gp Capt TP Srivastava
Views substantiated by facts are the only way I try to project my views and I expect the same from others. Past credentials have little or no value. Indeed intellectual wisdom has no connection with the rank and status one has achieved. Nevertheless when we embark on opining on national security, geo-political issues, one must have her/his facts right. Under no circumstances statements should be made not supported by facts.
Nearly 25 years ago during Higher Command Course at College of Combat (now Army War College), a brilliant Army officer made a presentation on LOGISTIC EFFORT required by Chinese to reach and annex ARUNACHAL. I cannot mention those details but his presentation was an excellent exposition of ‘NO WAR WITHOUT LOGISTICS’ even if there was to be no opposition. Suffice to state that China will have only one axis to move. Support from PLAAF will either be absent or ineffective. China’s existing radar cover in region is in penny pockets due to terrain masking. China does not have the luxury of AWACS cover. Even if it did, IAF fighters will shoot it down.And then we blame bureaucracy for what ails Indian Military. Intellectual Jaichands of Indian Military are more than sufficient to destroy the morale of a young Company Commander protecting the icy heights of Ladakh and inhospitable terrain along LAC, the HIGHEST COLD DESERT of the world. We could indeed do without such pseudo military strategists.
About the Author
Gp Capt. Tej Prakash Srivastava has served in Iraq and is a graduate of both DSSC and AWC. He was Directing Staff at DSSC and Chief Instructor at College of Air Warfare. He Served at Air HQ, commanded a MiG-21 Sqn and headed the IAF establishment of Strike Corps during 'Operation Parakram'. He has authored a book titled 'Profligate Governance – Implications for National Security'. He has written extensively on international and strategic affairs and Defence Procurement Procedures. The IAF officer graduated from the NDA in June 1970 and trained at AFA with 107th Pilots Course. He can be reached at Email: [email protected]
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)