India has always claimed that the Indian army is “China Centric” and its military transformation is not against Pakistan. But ground reality is quite different from the Indian military’s claims. This article will focus on three main issues, first the Indian military’s formation and deployment against Pakistan, secondly the Indian military’s Pakistan focused arms acquisition and thirdly the Indian military’s aggressive doctrines and strategies against Pakistan.
The Indian Army is divided into six operational commands. 1. Northern Command- Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir. 2- Southern Command- Pune, Maharashtra, 3- Eastern Command Kolkata-West Bengal, 4- Western Command- Chandimandir, 5- Southwestern Command- Jaipur, Rajasthan, 6- Central Command- Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
Out of these six commands, three are Pakistan centric. Firstly, the Northern Command, which is headquartered at Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir. It possess three Corps under its command, which are XIV Corps, headquartered at Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, XV Corps, headquartered at Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir and XVI Corps, headquartered at Nagrota, Jammu and Kashmir.
The Second command, which is focused on Pakistan is the “Southern Command”, is Headquartered at Pune, Maharashtra and responsible for border areas of Rajasthan. It possesses XII Corps, which is headquartered at Jodhpur, Rajasthan close to the border with Pakistan. It is equipped with Armour brigade and Mechanised brigade along with two infantry divisions for swift and quick thrusts into Pakistan.
The third command which is focused on Pakistan is the Western Command, headquartered at Chandimandir, Indian Punjab. This is the most important Indian command as far as Pakistan is concerned. This command holds extensive strike power. There are four Corps under this command and includes, the II-Corps, X Corps, IX Corps, and XI Corps.
II-Corps is the most important of the Indian Army’s three strike formations. Initially it was tasked to cut across the Cholistan desert towards Jacobabad cutting Pakistan in two. But after the induction of nuclear weapons in south Asia, its role has been transformed; now it will support Indian army’s proactive military operations to carry out swift and quick limited assaults against Pakistan.
This Corps (II-Corps) holds almost 50 per cent of the Indian army’s strike capabilities. It is responsible for guarding the borders till Ganganagar. II-Corps is a strike force that includes an armoured division, which is capable of intruding deep into enemy territory. Its Armoured Division is located at Patiala; it has also placed Reorganised Army’s Plains Infantry Division (RAPID) located at Dehradun.
The Indian Army has four RAPID (Reorganized Army Plains Infantry Division) formations each consisting of two infantry brigades, one mechanised brigade with brigade-sized mechanised assets, one artillery brigade, one recon & support battalion, one engineer regiment, one signals regiment and vastly improved surveillance with target acquisition equipment and dedicated aviation units. RAPID formations are attached to the Holding Corps in Punjab and Rajasthan and provide these essentially defensive formations with an extremely flexible unit that dramatically enhances their ability to withstand offensive operations against Pakistan. All these capabilities shows that most of the Indian strike formations are focused on Pakistan – not China.
X Corps which is headquartered at Bhatinda, Punjab also comes under the Western Command; this Corps also possesses adequate strike power including an Infantry Division two RAPID, an Independent Armoured brigade, an Independent, an Air defence brigade and an Engineering Brigade. Due to its proximity with Pakistani Punjab, this Corps is also considered to be Pakistan focused.
IX Corps, headquartered at Yol, Himachal Pradesh also comes under Western Command. This Corps also posses plenty of strike forces including two Infantry Divisions, and three Independent Armoured brigades, giving enough fire power to launch quick assault against Pakistan within short span of time.
XI Corps, headquartered at Jalandhar, Punjab is also part of Western Command. This Corps is also Pakistan centric, because of the propinquity with Pakistan. This Corps possesses enough fire power to launch a quick, swift and sudden attack giving no response time to Pakistan army. This Corps is armed with three infantry divisions, one armoured brigade and Mechanised brigade for rapid intrusion inside Pakistani territory.
In 2005 Vajra Shakti Exercise, India brought flexibility in its Holding corps. These holding Corps were designated as Pivot Corps. Pivot Corps can initiate offensive if required in the battlefield. According to the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen J J Singh, ‘‘They (Pivot Corps) have assigned roles, which are offensive as well as defensive and the doctrine does not spell them out in detail. The decision making has been left to theatre commanders, depending upon their assessment and evaluation of the situation. Purpose of these Corps was to give an offensive punch to its Defensive Corps for any rapid assault against Pakistan.
After the brief assessment of the Indian army’s deployment patterns, we can assess that most of the Indian Army is deployed against Pakistan. Such a deployment has compelled Pakistan to adopt counter measures and devote most of its resources at Eastern border to avoid any coercion by the Indian Army. The next paragraphs of the article will assess the Indian military’s Pakistan focused arms acquisition and its impact on Pakistan.
In last five years the Indian military has brought dramatic transformation in its weapon and equipment. In 2004 Indian army introduced LORROS- Long Range Reconnaissance and Observation System. This is a high quality, remotely controlled; observation system designed for medium and long range surveillance. India has already utilised this system in Indian Held Kashmir-(IHK) against Mujahideen, and it has also used this system against the Pakistan Army to keep a constant check on the deployment and movement Pak-Army at the LoC. Its main aim is to provide border surveillance, Intelligence gathering, Reconnaissance, Artillery spotting & target acquisition.
The Indian Army has also introduced Weapon Locating Radar (WLR). WLR is mobile artillery locating Phased array radar developed by India. This counter-battery radar is designed to detect and track incoming artillery and rocket fire to determine the point of origin for Counter-battery fire. India practiced this radar in the 2009 military exercises. In the same year the Indian army introduced Battle Field Surveillance Radar- Short Range (BFSR-SR). This is a man portable 2D short range Battle Field and Perimeter Surveillance Radar developed by the Indian Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). Both these Radars are Pakistan specific and were practiced in 2009 military exercises, closed to the border with Pakistan – which shows Indian military’s Pakistan centric approach. India has also extensively practiced Network Centric and electronic warfare capabilities in the last few years.
It is necessary for the Indian Military to acquire latest fighter jets along with fast mobility latest Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), because any rapid assault (against Pakistan), would require mechanized armour and latest fighter jets to carry out swift, quick, day and night operations with lightening speed. India in last five years has added 82 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters and 300 T-90 tanks from Russia, and A-50/Phalcon Airborne Early Warning (AEW) system from Israel and Russia. By 2015, India would be able to have 272 SU-30 fighter Jets in its air force and approximately 1000 T-90 tanks by 2020. Such a huge air force and Mechanised force is mainly for Pakistan, because of the geographical compulsions. India cannot use its tanks and other Mechanized forces against China because of the rugged mountainous terrain. So as far Indian arms acquisition is concerned it is mainly to coerce Pakistan and establish its regional hegemony in the subcontinent. The next part of the article would briefly assess the Indian military’s aggressive doctrine and its impact on Pakistan.
Initially Indian Military’s doctrine (Sunder Ji Doctrine) was aimed to dissect Pakistan in two parts but after the nuclearisation of the region and threat of nuclear retaliation by Pakistan, India brought change in its military doctrine and introduced Cold Start Doctrine in 2004. This doctrine is aimed against Pakistan and urges Indian military to carry out quick and swift operations against Pakistan within 72-96 hours and give no response time to Pakistan Military. To operationalise this doctrine Indian military would require Network Centric Warfare (NCW) and Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities in its Army and air force with robust command and control at its core. Synergy and integration between the Indian forces would be essential elements of this Doctrine. To operationalise this doctrine the Indian military has carried out almost 10 major exercises in last six years close to the border with Pakistan. it has practiced all those elements which are required for Cold Start based operations. Because of this doctrine deterrence in South Asia is in danger because of the rapid militarization and operationalisation of Cold Start Doctrine. It has the potential not only to operationalise Indian military doctrine on the basis of pre-emption but can also trigger a nuclear conflict.
Most of the Indian army is deployed against Pakistan, which shows that Indian army is Pakistan centric. India is improving its ties with China and it is a possibility that their mutual trade may cross 100 billion dollars mark in next few years. Recently India and China have also carried out joint military exercises which show, they are improving their bilateral relationship at a rapid pace and it would be unwise to expect any clash between China and India in the foreseeable future. But with Pakistan, India is in a constant clash over many issues starting from Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Water distribution and terrorism. It is a possibility that India may launch a limited war (under the nuclear umbrella) against Pakistan to intimidate Pakistan economically and militarily. In such a scenario it would be difficult to assess Pakistan’s response. Any provocation against Pakistan, may lead to nuclear exchange. It is imperative for the Indian strategic thinkers to think wisely and forget the approach of “immediate neighbour as an enemy” and work for the peace and development of the region. Pakistan centric military build up will not benefit either party. The Indian Military must take concrete steps to build confidence with its small neighbours, only then we can expect long term peace and stability in South Asia.