In the five wars that India has fought since independence, the country’s political leadership has mostly undone all the gains that were made by the Armed Forces. Whether it’s the UN mandated ceasefire in 1949 or going back to status quo on the western front after the 1971 war.
Naturally, the enemy never learnt the lesson and changed tactics to state sponsored terrorism. With no clear responses devised; political, economical or military, the enemy has been able to follow the ‘bleed through a thousand cuts’ practice with impunity. Not for long though.
Cold crank ::
Although the government won’t say whether it exists or not, reports say the Indian Army has a new war doctrine called the ‘Cold Start’. Think of it as a quick fire response to any enemy action. Why is it needed? The answer to that is that the Indian Army is so huge that it takes days for it to mobilise.
After the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, the Army launched Op Parakram, which was a buildup of forces on the border in order to bleed Pakistan economically. Unfortunately, the mobilisation was so slow, that by the time the troops reached the forward deployment, a diplomatic initiative was already underway. The result: Mumbai attacks in 2008.
To prevent any future misdemeanor by Pakistan, the Indian Army’s new doctrine, ‘Cold Start’ envisages a response so swift, that neither the Pakistani Army nor the Indian political leadership, which has a legacy of being weak-willed, will have the time to react. For this, the doctrine contemplates moving up to eight independent battle groups with their own armoured and mechanised brigades near the forward positions instead of depending on strike corps that are based deep in the heart of the nation. A smaller battle group will move quicker and push into Pakistani territory within hours, preventing the enemy from launching a counter attack.
Think of this as a quick punishment, without threatening the integrity of Pakistan as a nation. With multiple, independently operating battle groups, it will pretty much incapacitate the Pakistani leadership from making quick decisions. To validate the doctrine, the India Army has conducted exercises like Operation Vijayee Bhava and Sudarshan Shakti where Division sized groups proved their quick mobilization times. India has also developed a tactical ballistic missile called Prahaar which has a range of 150 km and is solid fuelled for quick reaction times unlike the liquid fuelled Prithvi.
Pakistani Response ::
So alarmed are the Pakistanis with the Cold Start, that they have changed tactics to counter the doctrine by reducing their nuclear threshold. Pakistan is believed to be working on tactical nukes that are designed for use in the battlefield. Whether Pakistan has the ability to miniaturize the size of nukes is debatable, but what is known for sure is that this is meant to counter India’s conventional military superiority.
The problem with tactical nukes is that they have to be kept ready for quick deployment and kept closer to the battlefield. The control too won’t be with the political leadership, but the local commander. That these nukes can be fired at the discretion of a ‘rogue’ General, or be stolen by the ever-present terrorist outfits are just some of the possibilities. And the other problem is that any nuclear conflict, even if it starts in a tactical battlefield scenario, is most likely to escalate to a strategic level. What that means is that if Pakistan tries to stop the forward movement of the Indian Army using nuclear weapons, India’s No First Use of nuclear weapons, which is designed for a decisive second strike, will be devastating to say the least.
All for Peace ::
So if Pakistan were to make the mistake of launching a Mumbai-like attack again, and the Indian Army was to react with a swift ingress into its territory, can we expect a full blown nuclear conflict to ensue? The answer to that is most likely a ‘no’. Because if successive leaders of USSR and USA didn’t have the stomach for it even during the ‘Cold War’, expecting an economically weak Pakistan to do so is pretty much out of the question.
The West, on whose donation Pakistan is surviving, won’t allow this to happen. In fact Western nations are keeping a close watch on the location and security of the Pakistani arsenal.
But if a nuclear exchange ever did take place, India’s strategic depth allows it to shrug off and walk away, while Pakistan will be wiped off the face of the map. And Pakistan knows this all too well.
Let’s hope the peace prevails.