India’s military grand strategy
October 05, 2012
The Indian military planners have tried to maintain a very delicate balance between the offensive and defensive military constituents in their Military-Grand Strategy. In reality, however, the current India’s Military-Grand Strategy is more inclined towards the offensive posture.
During the last decade New Delhi has gradually transformed from defensive-defense to offensive-defense. The doctrinal shift, certainly, has serious repercussions for the regional strategic environment. Moreover, it could exacerbate the military vulnerability of Pakistan in near future. Therefore, the initiation of countermeasures seems inevitable.
Admittedly, India’s Nuclear Doctrine explicates a defensive arrangement and generates an impression that India is not willing to use its nuclear weapons for offensive purposes. Whereas, nuclear capable delivery systems stockpile or amassment and it’s conventional military muscle buildup is very much to pursue the political and diplomatic objectives in the region through the use of threat or actual use of conventional limited war-fighting tactics.
India’s Cold Start Doctrine, declassified on April 28, 2004, was envisaged to subdue Pakistan in a limited conventional war. It marked a break from the fundamentally defensive orientation that the Indian military has employed since independence in 1947. It visualized a tri-service doctrine, which necessitates restructuring of the Indian Army and reorganizing the Indian Army‘s offensive power away from the three large strike corps into eight smaller division-sized integrated battle groups (IBGs) that combine mechanized infantry, artillery and armor.
The eight battle groups would be prepared to launch multiple strikes into Pakistan along different axes in advance to destroy its defensive and offensive corps. The ground operations of the IBGs require integration with close air support from the Indian Air Force and naval aviation assets to provide highly mobile fire support. In addition, the holding corps would be redesignated as pivot corps and would be bolstered by additional armor and artillery. This would allow them to concurrently man defensive positions and undertake limited offensive operations as necessary.
India’s drive to develop a nuclear triad proceeds rapidly. Presently, it has been purchasing and developing several weapon systems to realize its goal of achieving offensive nuclear forces on land, at sea, and in the air. The $15 billion contract in January 2012 to purchase 126 Rafale fighter-bombers from France (France uses Rafale jets in a nuclear strike role); build submarines and new indigenous missile inventory underscores that India requires more weapon grade fissile material to arm these fighter aircraft, submarines launched and missiles with nuclear warheads.
New Delhi has seriously been engaged in increasing its fissile material i.e. weapon grade plutonium stockpiles for new delivery systems’ warheads. For instance, India plans to construct a second reactor near Visakhapatnam (first was Dhruva plutonium production reactor near Mumbai), on the east coast. In addition, New Delhi is building an unsafeguarded prototype fast-breeder reactor at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research near Kalpakkam, which will drastically increase India’s plutonium production capacity once it becomes operational.
The competing postures, and gap between theory and practice within the Indian Military-Grand Strategy, certainly, necessitate critical examination of India’s military buildup and its likely impact on Pakistan. The significance of this analysis becomes more imperative when one tries to hypothesis the likely outcome of the India’s Grand Strategy or National Strategy, whilst it is hypothetically analyzed keeping in mind the probability of limited war escalation into total war entailing nuclear strike exchanges between the nuclear capable strategic competitors.
India’s nuclear strike strategy is spelled out in India’s Nuclear Doctrine as ‘No-First-Use of nuclear weapons’ and ‘Massive Retaliation’ in response to a nuclear strike by an adversary. This ensures a space for the conventionally strong Indian military to carry out military adventurism against Pakistan to pursue its political and diplomatic objectives in the regional politics. In simple terms, it signaled that if Pakistan uses battlefield nuclear weapons to augment its conventional defensive capability during a limited war; it automatically invites India’s massive nuclear strikes.
Presently, it is not worthwhile for the Indian military planners to use their military advantage due to the conventional asymmetry between India and Pakistan to subdue Islamabad. In fact, they lack confidence in their existing conventional offensive military capabilities. Therefore, the New Delhi has been colossally investing in military hardware purchases from the international defense contractors. In addition, it has been endeavoring to acquire sophisticated space technology from both United States and Israel to develop Ballistic Missile Defense Shield.
The Ballistic Missile Defense systems presence in the Indian arsenal would be perilous for the prevalent deterrence stability between India and Pakistan entailing strategic stability in the region. The current South Asian strategic environment is a product of strategic equilibrium between India and Pakistan. The Ballistic Missile Defense systems disturb the prevalent balance of terror between India and Pakistan.
Although, the geographical contiguity between India and Pakistan limits or at least minimizes the operational capability of the missile defensive shield, yet this contiguous factor is insufficient to prevent the strategic miscalculation during the crisis. In simple words the missile defense system encourages crisis instability during the crisis by generating a destabilizing perception in the holders mind that the cost of crisis escalation would be bearable.
Theoretically, the deterrence stability eroded, when one party realizes that it is invulnerable to the retaliatory strikes of the adversary. The rational of the Indians ballistic missile program is very much to maximize India’s invulnerability to Pakistan’s ballistic missile strikes.
India‘s Grand Strategy entailing military buildup necessitates that Islamabad should be remained strategically vigilant and revamp its counter-strategy to sustain its defensive fence’s protection credible— albeit at a reasonable cost.