The Reality Of Modern Battlefield

With the Chinese Army, the recent clashes have been more primitive than ever. Clubs and Sticks are a far cry from Satellite Guided Weaponry

The Reality Of  Modern Battlefield

During the last couple of years, the talk amongst military strategists (especially the armchair variety) centred around short and swift wars where the focus would be on high-technology weapons being fired and controlled from locations far away from the battlefield. The days of long-drawn-out battles being fought by soldiers on muddy battlefields were over. Fed on an excessive dose of Hollywood movies and OTT serials on Netflix, these strategists talked glibly of the redundance of the infantry and armour, of battles being fought and won sitting in front of a computer console, of drones replacing the Air Forces of the world. Science fiction at its very best.

This picture painted by the strategists had an immediate, and highly detrimental, effect in India. Suddenly, the powers-that-be, with the aid of the judiciary, both far removed from the realities of the battlefield, came to the conclusion that women could be inducted into the Armed Forces on an equal or better footing than their male counterparts. After all, the modern battlefield with its short and remote-controlled battles would no longer require any physical prowess.  Anyone who could claim to be technologically savvy would be the one who would win wars, and of course this automatically ensured that women could enter the arena without any question. The earlier arguments against this, like pregnancy, child care or the possibility of being captured and tortured would no longer hold good. After all, a woman could continue to feed her baby while at the same time control a missile or a spy satellite from the warm comfort of a control room thousands of miles away from the battlefield.

The same also applied to the Agnipath scheme. No need for the camaraderie or brotherhood that were essential battle-winning factors in the days of yore. The battle would be won by those who, as young kids, were better at playing games on a computer or a mobile phone than those that required them to step outside their homes and play real games against equal adversaries in the playing field. The regular cadre of soldiers could be drastically cut down, leading to large savings to the exchequer. And after a fruitful tenure of four years in the Armed Forces, the majority of them would go back to a world where they could loll around at home and play video games all over again.

Now cut to the present. One superpower on one side faced by a well-armed adversary on the other. Ukraine may not be a superpower, but it has the backing of a large number of countries that constitute one of the most formidable power blocs in the world, countries that are rich and technologically highly advanced, with arsenals of the most modern genre. The ideal setting for the strategists’ dream scenario of a short, intense and decisive technological war.

But where does the truth lie? A war that was intended to be a quick walkover is now in its tenth month, with no end in sight. The armies of both sides are bogged down in a slogging match that is far removed from the technological war that was envisaged. Except for a few propaganda pictures of female soldiers, one does not notice their presence in the battlefield.

So, are we still stuck in the rut of old-time combat? Man against man? It does appear to be so. And this is so when the adversaries in Europe are both technologically far more advanced than the Indian or the Pakistani armies.  Even with the Chinese army, the recent clashes have been more primitive than ever. Clubs and sticks are a far cry from satellite guided weaponry. And that is the reality that the Indian Army faces, and will continue to face. Pushing, jostling, swinging clubs. Smashing skulls, breaking bones. Would our Agniveers with little training and even lesser experience be capable or willing to fight this crude battle? Would the Chinese use lighter clubs to tackle our female soldiers? Would they deploy their own female soldiers to provide a level playing field?

It's still not too late to introspect. Somebody needs to carry out an immediate study to assess the situation and its consequences both dispassionately as well as honestly. It must be done by professionals and not by yes-men who will simply toe the official line. And if the study so dictates, then those in power must have the moral courage to stand up and admit that they were wrong and that the clock should be set back, not withstanding the righteous protests from motivated groups. It is essential that we never forget the old adage “there are no runners-up in battle”.

Col. Ghosh is an ex-NDA, Infantry veteran & ex-NSG presently working in the field of aviation emergency response in India & the Middle East as Director, IndiGo Airlines

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

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