The Indian Army has adopted a new doctrine that foresees short, intense wars against the backdrop of terrorism and nuclear threats.
It was adopted during the Army Commanders Conference, held here Oct. 25-29, the first such meeting since the United Progressive Alliance government came to power in May.
Spelled out in a 121-page document, “Indian Army Doctrine” predicts that India’s next wars will emerge on short notice, will be of short duration, and will be fought at high tempo and intensity. Combat zones may be deeper and wider, thanks to better arms and land- and space-based sensors, the document says. Defense News obtained a copy.
It says conventional conflict may escalate to nuclear war if a belligerent is determined to avoid defeat — a reference to Pakistan, an Army planning official said.
Battle plans already are being drawn up to suit the doctrine, a Defence Ministry official said, but he would not elaborate at this preliminary stage of the process.
An Army artillery official said the doctrine called for a big increase in the use of firepower, including a larger role for artillery and smarter ammunition;, better night-fighting capabilities, and ;more unmanned aerial vehicles, guided missiles and other high-tech equipment. The swiftness of future war requires more special forces to operate behind enemy lines.
The Army official said the doctrine underscored India’s need for nuclear weapon delivery systems on land, at sea and in the air.
Mahendra Singh, retired Army major general and defense analyst, said the new doctrine would mean spending billions of dollars on modernizing and digitizing India’s largely Russian-built hardware.
The doctrine calls for the Army to be ready to fight amid biological and chemical weapons. “Both active and passive defensive measures are being instituted to cater to this requirement,” it said.
Nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection should be installed on more than 1,500 T-72 tanks and much of India’s artillery. The Army’s incoming T-90 tanks and 400 155mm howitzers will have NBC gear when they arrive.
Only 10 percent of troops have personal NBC gear; the new doctrine will mean large purchases, the official said.
The Army intends to change its more than 1,400 howitzers — including the 122mm Grad, 105 Indian Field Gun and 100mm Anti-Tank Gun — into 155mm guns in 10 to 15 years, the official said.
The doctrine also echoes existing Army proposals to shift from platform-centric to network-centric warfare. “Future wars will be characterized by the ascent of network-centric warfare, information warfare and the conduct of operations under the glare of the media,” the doctrine states.
It identified seven forms of information warfare on which India will focus:
• Command and control.
• Economic information.
• Network-centric warfare.
The doctrine emphasizes combined operations by air, land, and sea forces: “Joint operations produce maximum application of the overall combat power at the decisive point towards attainment of common objectives.”
Singh said the Indian defense forces will consolidate their joint command in the Andaman Nicobar Islands and add weapons to the joint arsenal there.
The doctrine notes that India is emerging as a global power, and calls on the military to support this new stance, said another Indian defense official. The armed forces must work harder to protect India’s Arabian Gulf sea trade and other economic interests.
“The Indian Ocean region ... assumes strategic significance due to the high volume of Indian international trade transiting through,” the doctrine says. “By virtue of her size and strategic location in the Indian Ocean region, India is expected to play her rightful role to ensure peace and stability in it.”
The official also said that India’s first foreign military base, at Farkhor outside Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, is likely to be operational by the end of 2004. It will be equipped with Indian Air Force aircraft and troops.
Singh said the base is likely to give the military a longer reach.