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June 30, 2020

India sharpening the tusk: arming without aiming plus

Islamabad

June 30, 2020

Force posture is the actual output of ones’ own resource input and organisational process, and as such, is not always what one anticipates. Force posture is predominantly a comparative term. Its two main dimensions are structural capabilities and policy intent; given the relative difficulty of accessing the intentions, there is generally more inclination towards analysis of capabilities. Likewise, there are two major components of force posture: Force structuring and Force Development. Force posturing is an evolving process essentially dealing with the size, type and structure of the armed forces and constantly shifts from the contemporary to the future requirements. Whereas Force development runs parallel to the modernization, an imperative component in the quest to acquire state of art technologies and weapon systems as well as meet the life cycle requirements of existing inventories.

In a bid to pursuit its hegemonic designs, project itself as a great power and to proclaim its regional military superiority, India continues to upgrade its conventional arms buildup especially suitable against Pakistan. However, on the contrary India has always maintained that its main threat emanates from China. Moreover, the large conventional asymmetry between India and Pakistan is due to former’s highest rate of military growth. Historically there are three stages of the Indian military modernization and conventional force posture development. The first attempt was made in the 1960s when India launched a significant military expansion program, doubled the size of army and raised a fighting air force after its defeat from China in 1962, well without having a sufficient power and economic base. The second attempt was made in 1980s with defence and military reforms and introduction of the concept of simultaneity, a Soviet concept of multi-tiered offensive to engage front line defensive forces, though the efficacy of policy was always questionable due to imbalances in organizational makeup of the armed forces. The same era was also prompted by the Sundarji doctrine, aimed at employment of large scale mechanized forces, supported by massive air support and thus India toyed with the concept of preventive war. This culminated with the Brass-tacks exercise intended to launch preemptive attack on Pakistani nuclear facilities consequently undermining its conventional military capability and territorial integrity. The last attempt can be translated into India’s concept of Limited war. In view of the legacy of Kargil Conflict and its frustration over the stalemate of Operation Parakaram, India tried to explore strategic space for limited war/military operations against Pakistan guised under the Cold Start Doctrine. The former Indian Defence Minister, George Fernandes once declared that Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons doesn’t rule out the possibility of a limited conventional war.

Presently India is vociferously seeking to strengthen its strategic triad. India is and has already spent billions procuring conventional arm buildup. However, in the milieu of aforementioned brief historical background of Indian military modernization, one cannot require a crystal ball to extrapolate that India lacks a strategic thinking in pursuit of its designs pertaining the region and IOR. India has projected itself for the past couple of years as a net security provider and Asia-Pacific regional power, but, what India lacks is clarity of thought and a strong economic base to further those aspirations. Given the recent statements by the newly created post of the Chief of Defence Staff that Indian Military is not an expeditionary force and should not be deploying forces around the globe clearly shows the void in India’s evolving strategic thought and their organizational structure. Moreover, the economic impact and the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be significant. The percent increase in Indian defense budget allocation over the last two years has been the lowest since the early 1960s, but the COVID-19 impact is likely to lead to further slashing the defense budget. This in turn will affect major defense procurements, particularly for the Navy and Air Force. The Indian Navy was certain to acquire a third aircraft carrier citing it as an operational necessity but CDS comments out rightly dismissed the plan by terming it misinterpretation of operational necessities. While suggesting proper prioritization of operational requirements, CDS directed Indian Navy to decide whether it should push for a third aircraft carrier at this stage. “Anything on the surface can be picked up by satellites and knocked off by missiles”.Indian defence analysts while rightfully terming it a continental mindset questioned the Indian Navy “Maritime Capability Perspective Plan” goal of fielding a 200-warship Navy by 2027. Moreover, the continued cycle of civil war in the east, the present indigenous uprising in the IOK and the defiance exhibited by the brave unarmed Kashmiris even in the face of brutalities being perpetrated by Indian security forces has brought India down to desperate measures. The international community is not even ready to countenance the grave violations of human rights and resultantly has shown less understanding of Indian position.

In a nutshell, though India aspires to be the regional hegemon and regional if not a global player to the power politics but the ground realities speak otherwise. Modi led BJP’s heavy reliance on sub conventional warfare or Doval doctrine, conventional buildup, stated Cold Start Doctrine and advancement in non-conventional weaponry has led India towards mass starvation and increased economic crisis. Thus it can be said that India is arming but certainly without aiming.

The writer is Masters in Defence and strategic studies. He is an independent researcher and regularly contributes for national dailies. His area of interest includes, Terrorism in regional perspective, nuclear deterrence and Non-proliferation and the Pak-US relationship with special reference to Afghanistan. He can be reached at [email protected]