On 2nd July 2021 CDS General Bipin Rawat raised a storm after declaring on national television in an interview that Air-Force is a support arm of Army just like how Engineers and Artillery are for Infantry units of Army.
This statement not only is outdated and wrong but the timing of this statement when India is going for joint Theatre commands has exposed the turf war which came to affect our National interest for the first time in 1999 Kargil War. The lack of jointmanship during decision making when Army's demand for AirStrikes on enemy position was not entirely agreed upon by Air-Force.Thereby resulting in not only we losing above 500 soldiers but also it resulted suggestion of post of CDS in the subsequent Kargil review commitee.
Today CDS has said Air-Force is a support arm, Tomorrow he may even include Navy in that list.
Lets not forget in the same Kargil war Pakistan didn't opened up another front because it was left with only six days of oil left as Indian Navy had blocked of all oil supplies to our western nemesis.
Let's not forget after Pulwama Suicide Bombing it was Indian Air-Force which extracted revenge by bombing JEM complex at Balakot. In the subsequent next day Operation Swift Retort launched by PAF it was again IAF which defended us and saved Oil depot which was one of the target.
Let's not forget it was IAF hunter fighter jets which saved brave men of Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri at Longewala in 1971 who had bravely held guard against enemy ten times its size.
Lets not forget in the distant past we had sent a patrol of Jaguar jets to Jaffna during the start of IPKF deployment in Sri Lanka as a warning. Nothing intimidates like Air-Force strength in the heart of enemies.
Around same time when Maldives was facing coup it was IAF which sent its Mirage Jets as a warning to rebels that India is intervening the crisis.
The recent Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region where Azerbaijan used Turkey manufactured Bayraktar TB2 UAV wreaked havoc on a superior Armenian Forces.It shouwed the world that in today's warfare its the Air-Power which will decide the course of war.
Lets not forget how Israel destroyed Iraq's under construction Nuclear plant using its fighter jets. Not many people know in those days Israel had requested India the use of Indian Air-force Western Base as a launchpad to strike Pakistan Nuclear Sites.According to the Dawn Newspaper, the operation was subsequently called off due to fears of a retaliatory attack on Indian nuclear facilities. It is also believed that the CIA had tipped off Pakistan President Zia Ul Haq of these plans and the State Department warned India of stern action (Dawn, 29 October 2007).
The timing of this suspected operation suggests that the US was concerned about Pakistan losing its focus on the Afghan Jihad against the Soviet Union. Indeed, at that time, Pakistan was an indispensable ally for the fight against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan, in the same way today Pakistan is again an indispensable ally today for America's interest in Afghanistan. The difference now is that the US strongly encourages and remains an active party to the growing Indo-Israel relationship, and is an important factor in this growing relationship.
Today when Afghanistan is again in doldrums as US just removed all its forces from Bagram Airfield and with Taliban again making steady inroads Pakistan has become an important launchpad again for Americans.
On one end we have Chinese who have annexed our land in Ladakh forcing us to move 4 divisions from the Pakistan border to the Ladakh border with China.
Prior to the India-China stand-off in Ladakh India had 12 divisions facing China on the Ladakh front and 25 facing Pakistan on the west. This ratio has now changed. Today there are 16 divisions positioned on the Ladakh front compared to 21 on the western front.
The recent India - Pakistan signing ceasefire declaration and signalling intentions of making peace inroads is nothing but all directed by China.
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan open support for Pakistan cause all these years was not a cause of concern for us as it hardly mattered but the role of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 UAV role in Ajerbaijan's victory over Armenia has potential to change the war outcome in sub-continent if it occurs .In all probability we can safely assume that Pakistan already has Turkish Bayraktar TB2 UAV.
Now that two-front threat that strategists have long regarded as the worst-case military scenario for India is a reality and with Army stretched to its reserves our only deterrence will be a Fully equipped modernised IAF. And with our dependence of oil on Gulf Navy also plays an equally important role.
With Pakistan importance rising again in American strategic intrest as they pull out of Afganistan -America's Second Vietnam we no longer can expect the formation of an alliance like NATO with ASEAN, JAPAN, AUSTRALIA as It was USA which could have added punch to such an alliance.
In the end its us who will be butchered if we dont pull up socks and equip our Air-Force with the required strength. Operation Swift Retort has shown us how a inferior Enemy can escalate and de-escalate war as per its needs using its Air-Force.We were lucky in Operation Swift Retort that we had a friend in Oval Office that time.President Trump though not a politician till he became President had an understanding of world's Geo-politics way better than other American Presidents in the past.He was truly India's friend.
Had he got 2nd term the alliance on the lines of NATO against China which is ur only way to tame the dragon would have become reality.Lets's not forget Henry Kissinger once had openly declared America doesn't have any foreign policy they only have American Policy .With Pakistan again in focus in America's interest over Afghanistan and with China breathing fire on us our only hope to stalemate and defend ourselves will hugely depend on our Air-Force and Navy.
So for CDS to say Air-Force is a support arm of Army is wrong and reflects lack of strategic understanding.
In today's warfare Its the AIr-Force which plays the most decisive part.
Lets not forget in 1965 and 1971 both wars Pakistan had got fighter jets from countries like Jordon and Indonesia where as we had recieved none as such .If today war breaks out Pakistan needs only Turkish Bayraktar TB2 UAV to wreak havoc.In all probability with our current state of affiars of Air-Force the result of any war will be similar to one we had in 1965 which ended in stalemate.
And if such a stalemate occurs its a victory for an inferior and smaller force.
The recent attack on Jammu IAF base by drones has shown our vulnerability.
Its high time we equip our Air-force with enough teeth. Already the tenure of A K Anthony has pushed our Armed forces back by 25 years if we dont catch up we may lose more land in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.
The place to discuss (and resolve) differences among the army, air force and navy is in the Chief of Defence Staff's room in South Block. Not TV studios!
About the Author
Sanjay Naik is a software developer currently working in Mumbai. He is a prolific writer on military affairs and geo-politcicsc who regularly publishes his blogs on: https://sanjaynaikblog.blogspot.com. He can reched on Twitter: @Sanjay_navy
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Mission Victory India)