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Indian Military Strategic Thinking and Doctrine

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By Shafei M Hali

“India has arrived”[1] is a statement that is bustling in the global arena.   India is fast developing into an economic juggernaut that has yet to achieve its maximum speed and looking at the way it is poised on the economic and global front, the predictions are that India will be challenging China as an economic power in the coming century.  The economy of India is being dubbed as a galloping economy riding on the wave of information technology and well educated manpower. Basking in the economic achievements and in parallel, the Indian armed forces are set to ensure that India will be the undisputed military power in the region.[2]

During the Cold War, India’s foreign policy and security policy challenges mostly centered on Pakistan and China. Concurrently India endeavored to manage the influence of Extra Regional Forces within the region. But despite maintaining a Non-Aligned status, dependence on the former Soviet Union particularly for military hardware remained a cornerstone of India’s foreign policy. Bulk of, Indian military procurements were and continue to be of Soviet origin.

Of late, sustainable economic developments have emerged as key challenges in New Delhi’s strategic calculus. The strategic priorities recently alluded to by the Indian PM[3] accordingly includes, economic growth, poverty alleviation, social empowerment, and security from internal and external threats.

In order to check the roots of the Indian strategic thinking one does not need to look beyond Kautilya and his six pronged policy which he used and developed for his king Chandragupta Maurya and has presented it meaningfully in his treatise of war Arthashastra[4]. The six facets of this policy are: Peace, War, Neutrality, Marching, Alliance and Double diplomacy. All these six facets are very obvious in the Military Doctrine of India.

The Indian Military Doctrine was issued in 2004 and is set to be reviewed after every five years and to be re-written after every ten years. The current document is very detailed and it is structured as a two-part document. The main part contains subjects for widespread dissemination in the Indian Army; the second part is the classified accessory for the first and is intended for very restricted circulation.

The first part that is not classified has a total of seven chapters with twenty one sections, which lay down the guidelines for the Indian military to prepare for war.  The Indian military doctrine document is affixed in appendix A for reference.

The six pronged policy of Kautilya’s first facet of Peace entails that “The only time a king will make peace is when he finds himself in relative decline compared to his enemy.” (Khattak 2011) Since India is not in a state of decline as compared to Pakistan thus it has no interest of making peace and it can be deduced from the current scenario that this is one of the reasons why no substantial inroads have been built in to the resolution of the Kashmir Issue.  In fact India used the pretext of Mumbai attacks in Oct 2008 to discontinue the Composite Dialogue for Peace, which had commenced in January 2004 and has been dragging its feet over resumption of peace talks.

The second facet of “War” in the six pronged policy explains “When a king is in a superior position compared to his enemy, he will attack and wage war.” (Khattak 2011) This is one of the prime reasons why the Indian military is always seen sharpening its blades and teasing to wage war. In 1987 and again in 2001 India and Pakistan came on the brink of war first during its military exercises “Brass tacks” and then due to the attacks in 2001 on the Indian Parliament.

The third facet is of “Neutrality”; “If a king feels that his enemy and he are equal and neither can harm the other nor ruin the other’s undertakings, then he shall choose to do nothing.” (Khattak 2011) Since on both the occasions of 1987 then in 2001 and recently after the Mumbai attacks. The public as well as the troops were all out for blood but India didn’t attack due to the fact that turning Pakistan over would not be an easy task and resorted to act upon the teachings of Kautilya and maintained neutrality.

The fourth element is of Marching: “When a king increases his own power and has special advantage over his enemy, he will take part in the fourth approach of Kautilyan foreign policy by making preparations for war” (Khattak 2011) We can see today that Pakistan is growing weak economically as well as politically due to the burden of its participation in the war on terror and India’s economy is booming, The Economist magazine calls it “The Other Asian Giant” (The Other Asian Giant 2011) this is the main reason why Indian government is spending heavily to refurbish its military might and acquiring various types of weapon systems and machinery, even in the Indian Military Doctrine (IMD) there is a separate section number ten which highlights the “Impact of Technology on Operations and the Revolution in Military Affairs”(Sec10 IMD).

The fifth component of the policy is Alliance “In contrast to preparing for war, a king may require the help of another to protect his own undertakings. This idea of building an alliance is Kautilya’s fifth method of foreign policy. A king seeking an alliance must ensure that he finds a king more powerful than the neighbouring enemy” (Khattak 2011).  Today India due to its economic growth is attracting the attention of the western powers and it is actively seeking alliances with the US, Russia, Israel and others. Traditionally Indian weapon systems comprised a vast majority of Russian descent now more and more deals are being signed with the US and other western states.

The sixth and last element of Kautilya’s stratagem is of Double Policy “making peace with one and waging war with another” (Khattak 2011) here history shows that India after 1962 still harbours bad blood against China but never exhibits it in public. “Pursuing aggressive designs against Pakistan, whether it is Water, Siachen, Sir Creek, or Kashmir issue, India is not ready to make peace with Pakistan. It is constantly building its defence capabilities to undermine Pakistan’s strategic interests.” (Khattak 2011)

The IMD using the teachings of Kautilya also highlights how the future wars will be fought under Section 2 (Environment and Threat):

Emerging at short notice, being of short duration and being fought at high tempo and intensity

Non-linear conduct of operations

Deeper and wider combat zones due to increased reach of integral firepower and surveillance resources, including space-based systems

Added emphasis on the all-arms concept and need for increased jointmanship between the land, naval and air forces

Enhanced reliance on a variety of surveillance systems and, resultantly, greater availability of information contributing to increased transparency of the battlefield

Improved accuracy, lethality and stand-off capability of weapons leading to greater destructive capability

Ascendancy of Network Centric Warfare (NCW), Information Warfare (IW) and conduct of operations under the glare of the media

Threat from enemy special forces, insurgents and terrorists to rear areas which will necessitate earmarking of troops to provide security to lines of communication

Source:  Indian Military Doctrine 2004 (Appendix-A)

Kautilya has touched upon various subjects related to the Art of war amongst them he has talked about three types of war: the Open war, Concealed war and the Silent war apart from these three types he has also talked about psychological warfare and propaganda After looking at these types highlighted by Kautilya we can clearly see that all three types have been clearly and carefully considered within section 2 of the IMD whose extracts are given above.

The various chapters of the IMD all point towards modernization, quick action, maintaining the element of surprise, preparing for war, conducting of operations, operations other than war, performing joint operations, enhancing logistic support and understanding war.(IMD Appendix-A)

The strategy that culminates from the IMD is commonly known as the “Cold Start strategy.” It aims at mobilizing the armed forces swiftly and demands joint cooperation of all three forces. After a careful study of the IMD, it is quite evident that the IMD 2004 is closely linked with the Cold Start strategy as the IMD continuously highlights the importance and need for joint operations, talks of improving logistic support and swift action. The IMD and the annual report of 2010- 2011 issued by the Ministry of Defence India clearly points towards Pakistan and Bangladesh as threats, since both countries are small relative to India thus swift action and mobilization will create the element of surprise and will enable India to be on the dictating terms. 

Indian Army conducted a massive 10-day field exercise in the Nakodar- Ludhiana-Nawanshahr-Moga area, in these exercises joint operations were conducted and 8 battle groups were used; battle groups comprised tank regiments, heavy artillery, missile regiments, the air force and the Navy. The Idea behind this strategy stems from the US led allied coalition attack against Iraq in Kuwait in 1991, or the air attacks against Kosovo in 1999, or the War against Afghanistan in 2001, as well as the invasion of Iraq in 2003 because almost the same strategy was used in these strikes.  The Kautilyas who designed the Cold Start strategy from the IMD have left one very important point out of the equation that is that; if it is used against Pakistan, then a lot of swift communication is required as a battle or two can be won but not the war as Pakistan also maintains formidable armed services and India’s armed services are not as powerful as that of the US and their allies combined.  2020 is a long way off and Pakistan, despite its meager resources will not be caught napping.

Recently the Indian strategists are contemplating on revising the IMD and the news sourcesfrom the Times of India reported that Army Training Command, headed by Lt-General A S Lamba, said the focus of the new Indian Military and War Doctrine is upon the following points: (Pandit, Army reworks war doctrine for Pakistan, China 2009)

o   Dealing with the eventuality of a "two-front" war.

o   Countering "both military and non-military facets of asymmetric and sub-conventional threats."

o   Enhancing "strategic reach and out-of-area capabilities" to protect India's interests from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Strait.

o   Attaining "operational synergy" between the three services.

o   Achieving a technological edge over adversaries.

Indian Army Expansion Plans

India is currently the world’s largest importer of weapons; it has crossed China in terms of defence spending between 2006 and 2010. (CSIS 2011) India plans to spend around $36.28 billion on military spending for the year 2011-12 (Sanjeev Miglani 2011) From 2010-2015 India is all set to spend around $ 80 billion in defence acquisitions. According to the confederation of India report on “Prospects of Global Defence Export Industry in the Indian Defence Market”; India is spending magnanimously on all three services. Each armed service has a hefty share. The Army is spending 42.4 Billion. The Army’s share in the annual budget is 50% which has been cut down by 5% and this 5% is now shared between the Air force and the Navy. Army acquisitions will be fragmented. “In its 11th Defense Plan, spanning 2007-2012, the Indian Army has designated around 600 modernization schemes, amounting to around $1.44 billion,” (Perrett 2010)

Table: 1.1

Source: Annual Report Ministry of Defence India 2010-2011

Within the MOD India’s 2010-2011 report there is separate chapter highlighting the “Arms/Services Modernization Initiatives” in this chapter very elaborate plans for the Army modernization have been laid out.

The Armoured Corps is undergoing rapid transformation. Night vision equipment is being purchased with the latest guns and simulators for training. The contract to equip the T-72 tanks with night vision has already been concluded, while the gunnery simulators for the T-72 and the T-90 tanks are still underway and will be concluded soon.

Mechanised Infantry is also being revolutionized. Contracts for the environmental control systems for the BMP -2/2k and Milan 2T missiles for Recce and Support battalions have been formalized and concluded. Third generation anti tank missiles integrated with the heat signature recognition sight have also been ordered and will soon be incorporated.

As far as the Artillery is concerned the Field Artillery Rationalization Plan (FARP) which was originally concocted in 1999 is now coming true with the introduction of two thousand one hundred and eighty four guns. It is an $8,000,000,000 worth plan, with a 100 guns being inducted annually. The focus for procurement of Artillery equipment has primarily been the surveillance capability, the procurement of the Telescopic Mast for Lorros and Heron UAV is at an advanced stage. Procurement of various other weapons and equipment like Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System, 155SP Gun (Wheeled) and 155mm Ultra Light Howitzer, 155mm Towed Gun, Smerch  Multi Launcher Rocket System and Vehicle Platform for GRAD BM 21 MBRL is also in progress.

Army Air Defence is also being developed into a modern support group. The Corps of Army Air Defence is taking massive leaps in the up gradation process of its guns and surface to air missiles. The Akash Missile System is being procured which is much improved from its predecessor. Three dimensional tactical control and low level eight Radars are also being incorporated in the near future thus augmenting the Army Air Defence by many folds. 

The Army Engineers Corps have not been left out and they have been enhanced as well. Many new contracts have been signed for the procurement of modern technologies with the likes of Reaction Team Boats for high altitude missions, Trawls for tank T-72 and Engineers to operate in a Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) environment has also been enhanced with the signing of contracts for Recce Vehicles, RPL Dosimeter MK II and Reader Personal Dosimeter.

The Signals Corps has undertaken a number of major steps in consolidating the various networks of the Indian Army. Up gradation of Army Static Switched Communication Network (ASCON) and Army Wide Area Network (AWAN) is in progress to incorporate the latest technological changes and further extend the reach of these Procurement of Defence Communication Network, a prestigious Tri-Service project, is at an advanced stage.

            The Infantry within the army is also being revamped and are being given a new look, the foot soldiers are going to be equipped with a wide variety of new weapons and the special forces are going to be allotted “Bullet Proof Jackets and Ballistic Helmets for counter insurgency operations; Hand Grenades and Ballistic Shields for Ghatak Platoons etc.” (India 2010) The Futuristic Infantry Soldier as a System (F-INSAS) is modernization plan set out by the Indian army to revolutionize all its 465 infantry and paramilitary battalions with the state of the art modern weapons and equipment. This plan is to be materialized between 2012 -2020 and deals have already started to be made.  F-INSAS is aimed at giving the Indian army a complete facelift. “The next generation of ATGW should be in service by 2015” (Padmanabhan 2011) which will enable the army infantry to become a modern and lethal force. The soldiers will also be equipped with night vision anti aircraft guided missiles and by 2020 the ground forces of India will become a force with all the up to date necessities.

The Army Aviation is also going to be modernized as the Indian armed forces are going to induct around a 1000 new helicopters of various types. All this modernization of the helicopter fleet is going to be a multibillion dollar program.  The program includes; attack, transport and utility helicopters. “The choppers to be inducted into the Army, Navy and Air Force include around 450 light utility, 12 VVIP, over 200 attack, 139 Mi-17 transport and 15 heavy-lift helicopters and over 50 multi-role helicopters for the Navy.” (Aerospace 19 2011)

Indian Air Force Expansion Plans:

Indian air force is being enhanced and modernized and their programs for modernization are on full throttle. The Indian air force within the next decade will become a formidable force with around 180 Su-30 aircraft, Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) which will replace the obsolete Mig-21 fleet. It is yet to be decided whether this new fleet will comprise of F-16s, F-18s, Raphael, Eurofighter, SAAB Gripen, or the Mig-35. The Tejas light combat aircraft are also planned to enter the fleet of the Indian Air Force some120 are expected to join the service. New jet trainers, a fleet of a 5th generation aircraft which is still a secret, Air borne Warning and Control Systems AWACS, and much more this up gradation is estimated to cost up $ 30.5 billion or more. (Samaddar, Mehra and Behera)

The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) comprising of Tejas a Mach I aircraft has been announced to be ready for production and induction by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) on January 10, 2011 in presence of Raksha Mantri and Chief of Air Staff (CAS) during a formal ceremony held on the occasion in Bangalore. 

During the celebration ceremony, Chief Executive (CE) of Centre of Military (CEMILAC) handed over the ‘Release to Service Document (RSD)’ for LCA (IOC-I) aircraft to the CAS. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will hand over IOC-II to IAF in August, 2011. Yet another contract has been drawn and has also been signed to procure 20 additional LCA in Final Operational Clearance (FOC) which is expected to be achieved by December, 2012. (India 2010)            Table 1.2

The budget allocation for the air force has been increased from 24% of the military budget to 28% that is why in the graph above taken from the Annual Report of the MOD India shows that a significant increase is shown in the years between 2008- 2012. Since the expenditure amount is given in Indian rupees the dollar amount for the 2011- 2012 after applying the current exchange rate stands at approximately $10.1 billion.

Indian Air Force (IAF) is contemplating between F-16s, F-18s, Raphael, Euro fighter, SAAB Gripen, or the MiG-35 as mentioned above, to replace its aging fleet of MiG-21s. In the bid to buy new aircraft for the replacement of the MiG-21s, the IAF has issued a tender for $10.4 billion and it is regarded as “the mother of all defence deals.” (Aerospace 19 2011) Recently report have come in that the same tender worth $10.4 billion will be revised to a $20 billion to acquire not 126 but a whopping 189 aircrafts in the near future and the Times of India stated that “The "mother" could well become the "granny" of all defence deals in the years ahead.” (Pandit, Biggest deal: IAF may buy 189 jets for $20bn 2011)

The IAF is not only revamping its aircraft fleet but is also modifying its Radar systems. 15 Low Level Light Weight Radars (LLLWR) are being purchased from Israel. Out of the total of 15, so far 09 have already been inducted and because of their induction all the leaks have been plugged in the tier-I of the Air Defence network. Apart from acquisition from abroad, Central Acquisition Radars (CAR) have been developed domestically by the Laser Research Development Establishment in cooperation with M/s Bharat Electronics Limited. (India 2010)                

Diagram 1.3

Indian Air Bases

Source: www.scramble.nl/mil/2/india/iaf-eac-orbat

As mentioned in the section of the Indian Army expansion plans, the Indian military is acquiring around 1000 new helicopters which are going to be divided amongst all the armed services. Among those 1000 helicopters to strengthen  the IAF’s fleet of Russian Mi-35 and Mi-25 combat helicopters, the IAF is planning to acquire 22 attack helicopters for which Boeing’s Apache 64-D and Russian Mi-28 are the contenders. "Trials for the tender have been completed and the report has been submitted with the Air Headquarters and the deal would be signed in the near future," the official said. (Aerospace 19 2011) The IAF on the verge of completing its trial runs for the procurement of “15 heavy-lift helicopters to replace the fleet of Russian-origin Mi-26. Russian Mi-26 and the Boeing twin-rotor Chinook 47D are in the race for the tender”. (Aerospace 19 2011)

Indian Naval Expansion Plans:

“A developed and strong India by 2020 or even earlier, is not a dream. It may not even be a mere inspiration in the minds of many Indians. It is a mission we can all take up and accomplish”.

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam

The Indian Navy (IN) is on the fast track to acquiring state of the art platforms weapons and sensors as it foresees a role much broader and wider in perspective. With India’s economic boom, the visibility and role of the IN as a diplomatic force multiplier across a wide spectrum of requirements is rising, furthering and defending Indian policies and alliances[5].  Given India’s central location the primary area of operations will be the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and IN must have the capability to reach out immediately to all areas within this region to sustain Indian forces, undertake the required operations and achieve Indian objective[6].

Short to Medium Term. In the short to medium term, IN would like to keep the area between Hormuz and Malacca under its strategic influence. Furthermore, IN would prefer U.S.N continued support in performing some of its tasks in the region besides extending operational support and training. Over the next decade, IN envisages operating some 160 plus platforms, around 70 percent of which will be ocean going capable of blue water deployment across the navy’s primary area of responsibility.  The remaining third of the IN’s fleet, comprising mine sweepers and off shore patrol vessels (OPVs) would be divided between brown water offensive/defensive forces and an auxiliary fleet to augment sustainability and reach[7].

Long Term.    In the long term, IN would like to extend its strategic gaze to cover South China Sea, Pacific, Red Sea and perhaps beyond and become the sole Regional policeman. At this stage, it would not like the presence of external powers including U.S.N in the Region and would expect all littorals to look towards New Delhi for any assistance rather than outside. This however would depend on how rapidly India is able to develop its domestic military industrial infrastructure that precludes dependence on external sources for hardware supplies.

Indian navy is endeavoring to project power through “Reach, Multiplied by sustainability “across its “Legitimate (AOI) areas of interests.”[8]          Modernization/Indigenization.         Building Indian sea power through a sustained program of naval expansion is a sine qua non for a global Indian role.[9]  The IN has realized that “great fleets needs to be built and not bought” to progress as a truly sea faring nation it must have the capabilities to match its maritime dreams and ambitions.   While a lot of assets and technologies are being acquired from countries abroad, there is sue emphasis on developing indigenous capability.   As many as 37 ships are under construction in Indian shipyards across the country.  

Mazagon Docks Limited and Garden Reach Shipbuilders are notable among these.    Construction of an ambitious Air Defence Ship is also in progress[10]. Additionally, the navy has requested proposals from European, Russian and US shipbuilders for seven project 17A guided missile frigates, the first of which will be built overseas jointly with Indian designers and the remaining six at home.   Admiral Mehta said the navy is strongly committed to indigenization and is upgrading shipyards[11].   IN is also exploring a variety of propulsion technologies for its surface and subsurface platforms which are progressing satisfactorily.

Indian Navy has consciously taken the difficult route of indigenization in consonance with the national endeavor towards self-reliance. The Navy embarked upon a program for indigenous construction of ships and development of major sub systems, sensors and weapon systems with the help of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Defence Public Sector Understandings (PSUs). The present rate of construction is struggling around 1-5 ship per year, to meet the target by 2020 the rate of ship building needs to accelerated to 4-5 ships per year. Self-reliance through indigenization has been the Navy’s guiding philosophy over the last half century[12]

The force augmentations of IN are some metaphors that are fast becoming realities and IN has realized the path that it has to follow. The Budget allocation for the Indian navy has been around 14% of the overall military budget which has now been increased to 15%

The approval for the induction of the Russian vessel Gorshkov has finally been given. The Russian Gorshkov has now been christened Indian Navy Ship (INS) Vikramaditya. Now plans are being made for the third carrier. With the arrival of the third carrier it would become much easier to carry out routine maintenance of the carriers and this enhances the life of the carriers. The first carrier was decommissioned only because there was no replacement for it and it was over used and less maintenance could be provided. The modernization plan for the Indian Navy dictates having three carriers, this plan is aim to materialize by 2020.  

Some of Indian Navy’s Major Procurement and Modernization Programs are as follows:                                          Table 1.5

Project

Brief Description

 

Carrier Programs 

The carrier program revolves around extensively modernizing the INS Viraat, acquiring the ex?Admiral Gorshkov from Russia, and perhaps more importantly, building Vikrant class 40,000 ton aircraft carrier, being built at Cochin Shipyard expected to enter service in 2012, while the INS Vishal, a 65,000 ton aircraft carrier is also being constructed at the Cochin Shipyard.

 

INS Viraat modification

Major modifications and upgrades of INS Viraat    to the hangar include new firewalls, higher speed aircraft lifts, refits to machinery etc. Installation of new EW systems, long?range surveillance radars, advanced computer packages for secure and enhanced communication systems

 

Admiral Gorchakov

Modification & refit of Admiral GorshKov. Which includes fitting a 14? degree ski jump in place of the existing missile systems on the bow, etc.

 

Air Defence Ship (ADS) 

 

Construction of two ADS at Cochin Shipyard  

 

Project 15 Delhi Class

Destroyer

Construction of three, large, general?purpose destroyers, with a hybrid mix of Russian, Western and Western?derived Indian technology in Mazagaon Dock

 

Project 17 Frigate 

 

Construction of three units of Frigate in Mazagaon Dock

Project 1135.6 Frigate  

Three destroyers being order from Russia to replace the dwindling force

of Leander Class frigates

P16A Brahmaputra FFG

Three modified variants of the 3850?ton Project 16 Godavari Class are in various stages of sea trials, fitting out and completion at the GRSE yards in Calcutta

Project 25A Kora Class corvettes

Repairing of three 25A Corvettes in Garden Reach Shipyard

 

Modified Tarantul (1241RE)

Class corvettes 

An order for two modified Tarantuls    ? one at Goa Shipyard and one at Mazagaon Dock

 

SDB Mk 3 FA

Construction of two Fast attack Craft (FAC) intended for patrolling coastal waters, policing, anti?smuggling and fisheries protection in the Indian EE

 

Amphibious Ships 

Construction of the third unit of the Magar class LST

 

Submarine

Construction of Kilos, modernizing of other eight Kilos, modernizing the 4 Type 1500 SSK, construction of locally designed Project 75 SSK, and nuclear SSN or the ATV

Source: Report Titled “Report on Indian Navy & Coast Guard” by Innovation Norway for the Norwegian Maritime Exporters Organization.

<http://www.maritimenorway.no/maritimenorway/vedlegg/20091214-Innovation-Norway-Indian-Navy-Report.pdf>

Pakistan Army Balance Vis-à-vis The Indian Army:

Pakistan Army is considered smaller in numbers as compared to the Indian army which is very obvious due to the size difference of the two countries. As of 2011, the Indian  army is said to be the “The largest standing volunteer Army in the world” (Indian Army 2011) comprising of more than a million active troops. In comparison, the Pakistan army’s active manpower of 550,000 personnel is highly trained and skilled in the art of war. The Pakistan’s army is proportionally higher in number when it comes to comparing both the armies in terms of soldier per persons with in the population.

Table 1.6

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

The Pakistan army is utilizes American and Chinese equipment weapons of the likes of  FIM 92 Stinger SAMs, BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles, T-82 tanks and other equipments in comparison the Indian army uses mostly indigenously produced weapons or weapons of soviet origin of the likes of  IR guided 9K35 Strela-10 SAMs, 3rd Gen IR guided Nag anti-tank missiles, UAVs and a large inventory of tanks and support vehicles. It terms of the quality of equipment the Pakistan army is evenly matched with the Indian army. If we look at the comparison of sheer numbers and the inventory of the both the armies given above, we will see that India wins the numbers game but overall both forces are quite evenly balanced.

According to the inventory comparison between Pakistan and India presented in table 1.6 the Pakistan Army’s Air Defence is weak because the countries air defence responsibility lies primarily with the Pakistan Air Force so for the purpose of comparing air defence systems we need to compare the Indian Army Air Defence with the Pakistan Air force Air Defence. India has 2395 air defence guns while Pakistan has 1900 guns. Air Defence Surface to air missiles maintained by India are 880 where as by Pakistan Air Force are 150. India needs more guns and missiles because of the fact that it has more military installations and its area according to the world fact book is 3,287,263 sq km and the area of Pakistan in comparison is 796095 sq Km; which is approximately one forth the size of India. Obviously India’s need to maintain a superior air defence specifically in terms of numbers to defend itself from an aerial assault.

The Indian army has a total of 26 aircraft while the Pakistan army holds 124 aircraft. India maintains 4117 Tanks while Pakistan has 2656 Tanks in order to offset this imbalance; Pakistan Army has 14400 Anti-Tank Weapons which is a very high number as compared to India’s 3000 Anti-Tank weapons.

In terms of Artillery India holds 10758 guns while Pakistan maintains 4521 guns, in order to better compare the numbers it is safe to say that India being a larger country with hostile neighbors on all four sides. Because in the annual report 2010-11 of the Indian MOD Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka are termed as medium level threats. (India 2010) and China is also considered as a threat. Thus India has to maintain Artillery division on all its borders where as Pakistan has to focus more on one front.

Helicopters fleet maintained by the Indian army comprises primarily of utility helicopters where as the Pakistan Army maintains helicopters of all categories ranging from attack, support, training to utility. The total number of helicopters with the Pakistan Army is 182 out of which attack helicopters are 25. Whereas the Indian army has 12 assault helicopters and 210 utility helicopters the bulk of the attack helicopters are with the Indian Air Force and the Indian Air Force maintains a fleet of 20 attack helicopters.

The Indian army has 2 landing crafts where as the Pakistan army has none. Personnel carriers with the Indian Army are 1786 and the Pakistan Army maintains 1266.

Table 1.7

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

The table above (table 1.7) shows a comparison of the total strength of the armies of both the countries. Overall if we look at both the armies, we can deduce that the Indian Army is much larger in number and also well equipped if compared to Pakistan Army, but the equipment maintained by the Pakistan Army is no less in quality, rather higher in quality when compared to the Indian army thus giving it the ability to match its rival. The equation can become imbalanced if the Indian army successfully carries out its modernization schemes mentioned in the Indian Army expansion plan.

Pakistan Navy Comparison with Indian Navy:

Pakistan Navy in comparison with the Indian Navy is extremely small which is understandable due to the smaller coastal area of Pakistan which the Pakistan Navy has to defend. Despite being a very small navy, the Pakistan Navy is not lacking in strategy, tactics, preparedness and the will to defend which makes it a force to be reckoned with. 

The Indian army has a massive air arm comprising of 92 aircrafts and as we saw in the expansion plans of the Indian military and their “mother of all defence deals” (Aerospace 19 2011) India plans to buy naval counterparts of the 4th and 5th generation aircrafts as well which will significantly enhance their naval air arm. In comparison to India Pakistan has two squadrons of its Air Force dedicated to protecting its coasts and another 12 aircrafts are maintained by the navy.

The Pakistan Navy being very small in size purchases strategically that is why it is maintaining 7 Anti-submarine aircrafts while India has 4. As far as maritime patrolling from the aerial route is concerned India has 19 aircrafts while Pakistan has 5 this difference is negligible because of the size of the coastal region India has to oversee is much larger in comparison to Pakistan’s coastal region. The coastline of India is 7000Kms (The World Fact Book 2011) where as Pakistan’s coastline is only 1,046 km (The World Fact Book 2011) which is less than one sixth of India’s coastline.

India currently has one aircraft carrier thus making its navy far superior than Pakistan’s but at the same time it makes the Indian navy’s task much harder because maintaining an aircraft carrier within the fleet calls for extra protection as an aircraft carrier is huge asset, an asset which also has to be defended and a lot more vessels and manpower is needed to protect it.

The Indian navy as can be seen in the table 1.8 below is far superior in terms of equipment and capabilities. They have 24 corvettes, 10 destroyers where as the Pakistan navy has only 1. The number of frigates is evenly matched as Pakistan navy relies heavily on its frigates and submarines for the defences of its shores. India has 10 mine warfare vessels where as Pakistan navy has 3.

(Table 1.8)

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

 

The Indian navy in comparison is much larger and far superior in-terms of inventory table 1.8 and table 1.9 highlight the difference. With the modernization plans set in motion and targeted to be achieved by 2020 the Indian navy will move one step closer to becoming a blue water navy and the Pakistan Navy will have a very tough task at its hand.

 

(Table 1.9)

 

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

Pakistan Air Force Comparison with Indian Air Force:

Pakistan Air Force historically has fared very well against the Indian Air Force in both the encounters of 1965 as well as 1971 though the Pakistan Air Force was faced with 4 to one odds. This was primarily so because of the far superior weapon systems that the Pakistan Air Force was utilizing at the time. The F-86 Sabre and the F-104 were extremely superior air craft’s as compared to the “hunters”, “Gnats” and MiG-21s maintained by the Indian Air Force at the time.

The story now is quite different. The Indian Air Force has acquired much sophisticated aircrafts now and in large quantities. Whereas the Pakistan Air Force is in a modernizing phase and currently its inventory of fighter jets only have F-16 which can match an Indian Assault.

Currently the fleet of fighter jets maintained by the Pakistan Air Force comprises of Mirage III, Mirage IV, F-16s A,B,C& D, F-7P, F-7 PG and the newly developed JF-17 thunder is yet to be weaponized. Until Pakistan completes the induction of all the ordered JF-17 thunder aircrafts and also finalizes the deal of J-10 Aircrafts with China it cannot match the Indian Air Force in an all out war.

Though the fighter pilots of the Pakistan Air Force are considered far superior in training as compared to the Indian Air Force, they currently lack the state of the art weapon systems to fly against the Indian Air Force.

Over all the Pakistan Air Force is also modernizing itself. If we look at the table below we will see that the aircrafts tankers are a new edition to the Pakistan Air Force. Pakistan Air Force has two while the Indian Air Force has six. Similarly three Aircraft Air Borne Early Warning Systems have been recently acquired. In the field of reconnaissance the Pakistan Air Force is endeavouring to develop a full-fledged squadron of Un Manned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

 

(Table 2.0)

Pakistan

Air Force Equipment

India

150

Air Defence

 

150

Air Defence Surface to Air Missiles

 

578

Aircraft

1041

3

Aircraft Air Borne Early Warning System

 

2

Aircraft Electronic Warfare

 

226

Aircraft Fighter Class

112

192

Aircraft Fighter Ground Attack

419

15

Aircraft Reconnaissance

3

2

Aircraft Tanker

6

112

Aircraft Training

282

26

Aircraft Transport

219

20

Helicopter

326

1

Helicopter Attack

20

4

Helicopter Support

178

15

Helicopter Utility

128

51

Radar

 

51

Radar land

 

Air Force and Air Force Reserve Manpower (1000s)

45

Active

127.2

 

Reserve

140

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

Source: (Cordesman, et al. 2011)

India maintains very high number of air force bases where in Pakistan there are only a few as seen in the diagram 2.2 below. Only nine with the Pakistan Air Force while the Indian Air Force maintains a lot many as can be seen in the diagram 1.3. This is primarily so, because of the large area of India and more threats to its air space from all directions.

(Diagram 2.2)

Implications of Indian Military Expansion on Pakistan’s National Security:

1.              Pakistan’s primary bone of contention with India is “Kashmir” which dates back to the origin of the two countries. With India’s growing military, economic and political influence in the world India will not move towards the resolution of the issue in favour of Pakistan.

2.              India’s growing influence in Afghanistan can be considered as a threat to Pakistan’s National security. The US is propping India as their economic, military as well as political ally in the region against China, as this budding relationship grows, India can be considered as a viable member of ISAF or given the responsibility to maintain security in Afghanistan. Already India has opened up 4 consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif and ten trade missions. (Embassy of India Kabul 2011) according to Christine Fair in her article “India in Afghanistan, part I: strategic interests, regional concerns” published in the Foreign Policy journal believes that “India is interested in retaining Afghanistan as a friendly state from which it has the capacity to monitor Pakistan and even, where possible, cultivate assets to influence activities in Pakistan.” (Fair 2010)

3.              According to a report titled “India and Afghanistan a Development Partnership” issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) India, highlights the influence India has created in Afghanistan. “India’s pledged assistance to Afghanistan stands at 1.2 billion US dollars” (Embassy of India Kabul 2011) according to this report India’s endeavours in Afghanistan range from humanitarian Assistance, Public Health, Road Construction, Power and Transmission, Support to Democracy, Transport and Communications, Small and Community-based Development Projects, Capacity Building, Industry and Commerce, to Cultural Exchanges. All this sounds like a fairy tale story that India is such a kind hearted country that despite having one third of the India’s population living below the poverty line (International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) 2009) India is indulging in aiding others. This obviously raises concerns for Pakistan as Pakistan considers Afghanistan its back door. This economic and political assistance can soon develop into a military relationship and it would not be farfetched to assume on Pakistan’s part that India would be contemplating opening up of military bases in Afghanistan like it had aspired to do so in Tajikistan. This would augment the already raging argument of India’s support of the Baloch insurgencies.  

4.              With its growing might, India is not only becoming major player in the global politics, but it is also actively seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council (UNSC) under the umbrella of the G4 UNSC reforms. The military modernization aspect of India is helping India to enhance its involvements in the UN peace keeping missions, which it is undertaking to further its international political clout. If India gains militarily as well as politically in the International arena then it can easily sweep Pakistan off all negotiating tables. Like that of the resolution of the water dispute, Sir Creek issue and would even hinder Pakistan in making bilateral trade deals; like India Challenged the European Union’s grant of special trade concessions for Pakistan due to the devastating floods of 2010.

5.              The Indian Navy’s continuous evolution and modernization can lead to making it the sole regional power dominating the Indian Ocean (IO). Indian Ocean is a “vital sea” for India, the northern part of which is of immense economic and strategic importance.  India’s primary area of interest ranges from the Persian Gulf in the north to Antarctica in the south and from the Cape of Good Hope and the East coast of Africa in the west to the Straits of Malacca and the archipelagos of Malaysia and Indonesia in the east.  With a huge coast line, a strong navy is a prerequisite for India’s security[13] . As such India’s advocacy of demilitarization of IO by ERF (especially China) is an essential element of her goals to establish its naval supremacy.[14] In any future conflict, Pakistan is unlikely to match the conventional strength of India. Pakistan has a choice to off balance this asymmetry and reorient its policy towards east exploiting Chinese links.

Conclusion:

Though India is expanding its military might rapidly and we have seen so far that due to its economic growth it even has the means of fulfilling a very expensive shopping list for its armed services worth almost $100 billion. According to the annual report 2010-2011 issued by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) India, in the chapter of “the regional security environment”, Pakistan “continues to raise apprehensions.” (India 2010) This military modernization and expansion is certainly putting all of India’s neighbours including Pakistan and China at their toes as it will definitely have an impact on their national security.

After formally taking a very close look at the inventories of both the militaries of both the countries we have seen that by and large they are both evenly matched when it comes to strategy and more so because of the nuclear deterrence factor. After this careful review we can deduce that there is large disconnect between the military spending of India and using its military as a policy tool to impact other nations. This is primarily so because the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy’s modernization scheme makes some sense that previously they suffered from the fact that they had aging equipment but the Indian Army had little need to expand, as a ground war with Pakistan is un-likely in the near future due to the nuclear factor.

                 Even if we look closely at the shopping list of the Indian Navy we see that; “the navy appears to want one of each  kind- a nuclear missile submarine, a modern aircraft carrier, a working cruise missile, … little attention is paid to the jointness or the linking of weapons to strategic priorities.” (Dasgupta and Cohen 2010) The armed services of India want all these new and expensive toys and will also be able to buy them through sustained economic growth but no real discussions are held to debate whether India can afford these things, does India need one of each kind of weapon system?

                 India’s shopping list gives the impression of a food deprived beast let loose to a table laden with goodies. The IMD as well as the Indian MOD’s annual report of 2010-2011 both talk about improving the military armed services with improved and modern technology. In reality “military modernization is not just new technology, but new thinking about strategy and security and the ability to implement good ideas.” (Cohen and Dasgupta 2010) Until and unless India sorts out its structural problems regarding strategy and modernization and linking all to utilize its modern military as a policy tool its expenditures would be all over the place and would give Pakistan and its neighbours a head start to bring their own house in order.

Bibliography

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Cohen, Stephen P., and Sunil Dasgupta. "Fighting Chance." In Arming without Aiming, 145. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2010.

Cordesman, Anthony H., Arliegh A.Burke, Robert Hammond, and Andrew Gagel. "CSIS." Center for Strategic and International Studies CSIS.org. May 16, 2011. http://csis.org/files/publication/110516_South_Asia-AsiaMilitaryBalance2011.pdf (accessed July 19, 2011).

CSIS. "Defence Industrial Initiatives Group." CSIS.org. March 29, 2011. http://csis.org/D3A97763-8141-4AC4-A2BD-8B9ACA048990/FinalDownload/DownloadId-AA86D171D03C8A5A94ACFBCF0C9A080F/D3A97763-8141-4AC4-A2BD-8B9ACA048990/files/publication/110329_DIIG_Current_Issues_24_Indian_Defense_Spending.pdf (accessed July 14, 2011).

Dasgupta, Suni, and Stephen P. Cohen. "Arming without Aiming." In Arming without Aiming, 143. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2010.

Defence, Ministry of India. "Indian Military Doctrine." 2004.

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Fair, Christine. India in Afghanistan, part I: strategic interests, regional concerns. Washington DC, October 26, 2010.

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"International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)." ifad.org. August 2009. http://www.ifad.org/3EFF3499-0B2C-4E27-991F-9E76EF1F838C/FinalDownload/DownloadId-1F7EEB6536E8DDE787A1B16217082E44/3EFF3499-0B2C-4E27-991F-9E76EF1F838C/operations/projects/regions/Pi/factsheets/in.pdf (accessed August 20, 2011).

Khattak, Masood-Ur-Rehman. "eurasiareview." eurasiareview.com. March 29, 2011. http://www.eurasiareview.com/indian-strategic-thinking-a-reflection-of-kautilyas-six-fold-policy-analysis-29032011/ (accessed June 11, 2011).

Padmanabhan, Gen. S. indiandefencereview. June 06, 2011. http://www.indiandefencereview.com/military-and-aerospace/Indian-Army-2020.html (accessed July 18, 2011).

Pandit, Rajat. Army reworks war doctrine for Pakistan, China. New Delhi, December 30, 2009.

Pandit, Rajat. Biggest deal: IAF may buy 189 jets for $20bn. New Delhi, 26 July, 2011.

Perrett, Bradley. "Aviation Week." June 21, 2010. http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=AviationWeek.com&id=news/awx/2010/06/21/awx_06_21_2010_p0-235427.xml&headline=India%20Projected%20To%20Spend%20$80B%20On%20Military%20Acquisitions%20Through%202015 (accessed July 18, 2011).

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[1] Gp Capt A K Sharma(Retd) “Indian Navy:  A Three Dimensional Technology Enabled, Networked Force” Indian Defecnce Review

 

 

 

[2] Ranjit Rai “The New Indian Maritime Doctrine” Asian Military Review, December 2005

 

 

 

[3]  ibid

 

 

 

4] Kautilya, Arthashastra, R. P. Kangle, tr. 3 vols. Laurier Books, Motilal, New Delhi (1997) ISBN 8120800427

 

 

 

[5] Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s Interview with Jane’s Defence Weekly dated 31 January 2007

 

 

 

[6] Admiral Arun Prakash, Top Brass Interview with Asian Defence Journal 10/2005 

 

 

 

[7]   Ibid Pg 1 Admiral Sureesh Mehta

 

 

 

[8] Asian Defence year book 2009. ADJ Asia’s naval requirement.

 

 

 

[9] Varun Sahni:  Indian Foreign Policy Vol 1 “India as a Global Power: Capacity, Opportunity and Strategy” Pg 25

 

 

 

[10]  Gp Capt A K Sharma(Retd) “Indian Navy:  A Three Dimensional Technology Enabled, Networked Force” Indian Defecnce Review OPcit Pg 1

 

 

 

[11] Admiral Sureesh Mehta Opcit Pg 1

 

 

 

[12] www.defenceindia.com/indiannavy

 

 

 

[13] Gp Capt A K Sharma(Retd) Opcit  Page 1

 

 

 

[14]  The IO and the super powers Vistar , publication New Dehli

 

 

 

 

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  1. I am very happy to see your article.thanks for sharing. dafdaf

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