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Indian military to focus on new doctrine, Siachen
India's top military commanders will gather here Monday for an annual brainstorming session that will see them focussing on a new war doctrine and a proposal to cut troop deployment on the Siachen glacier.

The combined services commanders' conference will also provide the first opportunity for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to interact with the military top brass since assuming office.

The conference will coincide with separate meetings of the commanders of the Indian Army and the Indian Navy to be held this week in New Delhi.

The army commanders will discuss a move to create a new force to guard the international border with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir and fine tune a draft war doctrine, meant to cope with a changed battlefield with a nuclear overhang and the need for rapidly deployable forces.

They will also discuss a proposal to cut troop levels on the Siachen glacier, the world's coldest and highest battlefield, as part of the peace process with Pakistan. Indian and Pakistani forces have been engaged in a face-off on the glacier for the past 20 years.

The army has proposed the creation of a southwestern command to guard the border in Kashmir. The move envisages the transfer of strike formations from the Central Command, which would be made a logistics formation.

The proposal has received the backing of eight former army chiefs, including Field Marshal S.H.F.J. Manekshaw, who attended a special conclave organised here Friday-Saturday by Indian Army chief, N.C. Vij.

The draft war doctrine envisages a "cold start" strategy using smaller strike groups comprising army and air force elements armed with higher firepower. This is a marked departure from India's standard procedure of massing huge forces at the border before hostilities.

The doctrine, which was scrutinised at the conclave of the former chiefs, also includes new methods to fight low intensity conflicts in areas like Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast. Increasing the army's night fighting capabilities and mass use of artillery formations to soften enemy targets also form part of the doctrine.

The prime minister will address the military commanders' conference Tuesday while Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee will speak at its concluding session Friday.

Defence Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh and principal staff officers from the headquarters of the three services will also attend the combined commanders conference.

External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Home Minister Shivraj Patil will also address the confernce.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:46 AM


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