March 18, 2015

India's Cold Start Doctrine gives Pakistan sleepless nights

India's provocative Cold Start Doctrine is a military doctrine developed by the Indian Armed Forces for use in a possible war with Pakistan. It is the hottest buzz word in military circles and institutions across Asia.

In the event of a war with Pakistan, a Cold Start attack will involve various branches of India's military conducting large-scale offensive operations as part of a united battle group. According to Cold Start Doctrine strategy, India will invade and defeat Pakistan in just under 72 hours by utilizing quickly Mobilized Armored Units (MAUs) and unmatched air and sea power to formulate the Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs), which India believes would be enough to tear Pakistan into two, without starting a nuclear war.

What does India's Cold Start Doctrine mean for the lay man ?

South Asia and in particular the Indian sub-continent is perhaps the last hold-out spot for the conventional battlefield scenario, the kind recorded in literary documentation down the ages. India has two or rather three blocks with their armored divisions in columns, one formation along the Indus valley and the other on either sides of the Himalayas.

India's military might stretches to meet threats from two simultaneous fronts. On the western side from Pakistan and on the eastern front from China. For a big and huge working democracy like India, securing its territorial borders since its inception in 1947 has been the number one priority.

The thermo-nuclear tests of 1998 at Pokhran was a turning point in India's military capability and may have altered the level for all the right reasons. The Pokhran tests marked a sea change in thinking and mind sets for the national political leadership as well as for the military commanders in the fleet. Once and for all it became clear that India henceforth need not worry about any breach in its territorial boundaries. No advancing army could afford to make a mistake, in traditional military sense, an enemy marching into the Indian territory.

India was now ready to set it eyes beyond it immediate shores to safeguard its interest and asset across the world. India felt bolder and safer after acquiring thermo-nuclear capability.

India's bitter lesson of terrorist attacks from Pak ::
But as it turned out, that was not the case in the coming years especially in the months following the Parliament attack in New Delhi in December 2001 and again in November 2008 when Pakistani terrorist attacked Mumbai. In both cases, Pak backed terrorists had stepped up their assault against India, on Indian soil and in the absence of a working model of a tri-forces military doctrine under an elected leadership, India's image took a beating.

In the year 2004 the Indian Army announced the new limited war doctrine and it became to be known as the 'Cold Start War Doctrine'.

This doctrine was characterized as an exclusively offensive doctrine of blitzkrieg drawing its strength from the Israeli and the Soviet Union concept to launch a retaliatory punitive conventional strike against Pakistan that would inflict significant damage on the Pakistani forces before the international community could put pressure on India to withdraw.

Under this concept, neutralizing Pakistan inside the first 72 hours of the offensive was the primary objective. The 'Cold Start Doctrine' is based on SPEED, FAST MOBILIZATION of armored strike divisions & retaining the element of SURPRISE. All this appears to be a story from a fairy tale but this is now a stark reality for Pakistan.

India now has an acknowledged military doctrine. The 'Cold Start Doctrine' was not an overnight concept. It came about with a bitter lesson the authorities had learnt in the aftermath of the Parliament attack in 2001. The Armed forces since 2004, with many military drills being conducted have now perfected the mobilization of half a million troops in less than 48 to 72 hours.

With the onslaught of the co-ordination between the Army and the Air Force under the 'Cold Start Doctrine', the Indian Navy is highly capable of enforcing a total naval blockade of Pakistan within 48 hours of the first attack. This will leave the country without the most important commodity that is needed to fight a war, and i.e. OIL.

Foreign and Indian Military analyst point out that it is an apt time for India to assert its Naval power to claim the entire Indian Ocean area as it inches closer towards a 'Blue Water Navy'.

Setbacks during the Parliament Attack and Troop Mobilization ::
Orders were given to mobilize half a million troops during operation 'Parakram' in 2001. Indian forces were dispatched, some up to the linear positions along the western border with Pakistan. Not many of us know that soon after the parliament attack, all three Chiefs of Staff had called upon the then Prime Minister Mr. Vajpayee and sought his permission to attack Pakistan. The plan was to slice Pakistan into two separate units from its middle and Mr. Vajpayee had turned down the plan.

Operation 'Parakram' brought to light some bitter truths. As against a given timeline of 48 to 72 hours for mobilization of troops, India took full three weeks (21 days) to move Army columns from various locations across the country. By the time India's strike force took position along the Indo-Pak border, the element of 'SURPRISE' had evaporated. Pakistan had got all the time to bring its forces closer to the Indian border.

Operation 'Parakram' had failed.

Failure of Operation 'Parakram' made Pakistan bolder and inspired it to carry on more attack on Indian soil and that's what it exactly did in 2008 when Pakistani terrorist attacked India's financial capital Mumbai.

Making the 'Cold Start Doctrine' a deadly reality for Pakistan ::
There is an URGENT need for a unified command integrating the Army, Navy and the Air Force. For a successful and a decisive military doctrine, a unified command of all the three forces is a must.

Apart from the visible disconnect between politicians and military leaders, there has also been an inter-services rivalry which has crippled a series of modernization projects in the past. The story in the country's Military Doctrine is no different. The Indian Air Force believes that it is a much superior force and plays a decisive role in the outcome of a war. The Navy which does not operate within India's territorial boundaries but is deployed away from the countries shores always has a different line on the terms of engagement.

India does not have a Tri-Services Military Doctrine.

A Military Doctrine for China ::
A new strike force comprising of about 90,000 troops is being raised only to counter the Chinese forces. This strike force will be deployed predominantly in Arunachal Pradesh which China claims in its entirety.

India has learnt many of it military lessons the hard way, particularly those that came in the aftermath of the 1962 war with China, a military engagement that went horribly wrong in all possible ways.

Defence experts say that apart from the traditional theatres of war which are Land, Sea and Air, two more dimensions have been added, SPACE and CYBER war. Wars of the future it is said will take place in another less visible but more lethal realm. Expect the first salvo to be fired by an advancing army in the Cyber World followed closely by the Space dimension.

India's Military Transformation ::
In order for India to acquire an Asian Super Power Military status, it needs the most important task to be completed at an early date for a viable military doctrine. At the centre of all this is the need to establish a Tri-Services Military Command Structure to effectively use Military Force against an adversary like Pakistan or China.

The deadly 'Cold Start Doctrine' which is in existence with the Indian Military has the capability to cut Pakistan into half within the first 72 hours and make it surrender unconditionally. Now can you imagine what would a TRI-SERVICES Cold Start Doctrine' do to a country like Pakistan.


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