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India’s cold start doctrine

Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

GENERAL Bipin Rawat reconfirmation about the existence and validity of the’ Cold Start Doctrine’ verifies Pakistan’s serious concerns about India’s armed forces modernization. Simultaneously, the admittance by General Bipin falsify pro-India American intellectuals claim that India was not working for the institutionalisation of the Cold Start Doctrine. Indeed, the continuation of the Cold Start Doctrine justifies Pakistan’s development of battlefield nuclear weapons or tactical nuclear weapons.General Bipin Rawat, India’s new Chief of Army Staff, in an interview to India Today acknowledges India’s military doctrine, ie “Cold Start Doctrine.” He stated: “Cold Start doctrine exists for conventional military operations.”( SandeepUnnithan, “We will cross again,” India Today, January 4, 2017). The admittance about the existence of Cold Start Doctrine would not be having any impact on the making of Pakistan’s defence strategy. It is because; Pakistan’s maker of modern defence strategy has not ignored the Indian armed forces modernization since the beginning of the twenty-first century. Moreover, they have not taken seriously the American experts on South Asia propaganda about the non-existence of Cold Start Doctrine. Nevertheless, the General Bipin announcement about the Cold Start Doctrine reality would be having political and diplomatic consequences.Since the failure of Operation Parakram in 2002, the New Delhi has been modernizing its ham-fisted armed forces to establish its hegemony in South Asia. On April 28, 2004, the then Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Nirmal Chander Vij unveiled Cold Start doctrine during the Army Commanders Conference. The Cold Start Doctrine marked a break from the fundamentally defensive orientation that the Indian military had employed since independence in 1947. According to the published sources, Cold start doctrine 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 of 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 redesigned 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. The primary objective of the Cold Start Doctrine is to enhance the speed of both deployment and operations to multiply Indian Army’s war fighting capability against Pakistan. Precisely, the Cold Start Doctrine prepare Indian armed forces to ‘conduct quick, punishing strikes into Pakistan, hopefully without crossing Pakistan’s fuzzy redlines for a nuclear response. The vague redlines include cutting off a major supply route, seizing key territory, defeating a major Pakistani military group, or blockading Karachi with Indian naval forces. Indian planners believe they can achieve a quick military victory and sue for peace without Pakistan resorting to nuclear weapons.’ Perhaps, it is a very ambitious and devastating offensive doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces to defeat a nuclear-armed adversary.Since the last year, the Indian ruling elite has been giving an impression that New Delhi would use limited war (because of its conventional weapons advantage) option to punish Pakistan. For instance, for the sake of domestic consumption and generating psychological threat for Pakistanis, the Indian both political and military leadership had claimed for conducting surgical strikes against Pakistan in September 2016. Instead of tit for tat reaction, Pakistani leadership acted rationally. Islamabad simply rejected the claim of surgical strikes and also asked New Delhi to share with it undefeatable evidences of surgical strikes. The responsible response of Pakistan and India’s failure to qualify its surgical strike claim prevented the escalation of the conflict between the two nuclear-armed belligerent neighbours. Interestingly, General Bipin highlighted the advantageous of Cold Start Doctrine, but had failed to concede the alarming puzzle. Though India may launch a military operation against Pakistan, yet it is incapable to check the inadvertent escalation of the conflict. In simple words with its Cold Start Doctrine accomplishment, India may initiate conventional limited war to punish Pakistan with no intention of turning it into a nuclear war. In reality, it would not be having a complete control to prevent the inadvertent escalation of limited war into total war having nuclear dimension. Thus, both Indian Prime Minister and his chosen Army Chief ought to realize the strategic puzzle i.e. they could start conventional limited war but they are incapable to prevent the inadvertent escalation of limited war at the nuclear level. Thus, the reemphasize on Cold Start Doctrine by the Indian Army Chief could lead to unthinkable—a nuclear clash between India and Pakistan. The Cold Start Doctrine brought a shift in India’s defensive-defence strategy and also in configuration of both striking and defensive Corps deployed on India-Pakistan border. The modernization of India’s armed forces obliges Pakistan to revamp its defensive strategy. Consequently, it conducted a short-range ballistic missile (NASR) test in April 2011. The NASR missile test added a new dimension in the regional strategic environment. To conclude, the Indian strategic pundits, military industrial complex’s profiteers, and above all Indian military establishment have been endeavouring to use the current tension between India and Pakistan for increasing the 2017-18 India’s Defence budget. Certainly, the main beneficiaries of the increase in the Indian Defence Budget would be its armed forces. Hence, the timing of the announcement about the existence of Cold Start Doctrine is momentous to get more funds for the Indian Army.

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