Thursday, 31 May 2012

IDSA COMMENT

The Indian Army: What the stars foretell for 2012

Bookmark and Share
December 7, 2011
The Indian Army can be relied upon to ensure that the Mayan prophesy for 2012 being the doom’s day for the world will not apply to India. However, living up to such a reputation is hard work. So even as it understandably congratulates itself on a lap well run in 2011, there is no time for any over-indulgence. As is evident in hindsight, even as resounding a victory as obtained four decades ago did not prove an antidote for insecurity for very long. This article attempts a cautionary crystal-ball gazing exercise to possibly pre-empt the contents of the last Army Day parade speech of the Chief.
The foremost consideration in any such exercise has to be the Army’s preparedness for its primary task: the defence of territorial integrity and political sovereignty. Over the last year, there appeared to be crystallisation of the ‘two front’ perspective. This is not a new ‘threat’; it was foreseen by K. Subrahmanyam 40 years back in his post 1971 survey of India’s strategic predicament, ‘Our National Security’ (Economic and Scientific Research Foundation, 1972), where he wrote: ‘India must be in a position to face successfully simultaneous conventional threats from China and Pakistan’ (p. xxii).
On the Pakistan front, instability is set to continue with Pakistan having denied itself an opportunity for reprieve by staying away from Bonn II. At the subconventional level, this implies the prevailing levels of peace in Jammu & Kashmir could prove momentary. This apprehension perhaps reinforces the military’s abundant caution in respect of the AFSPA controversy in that state. At the conventional level, the possibility of a strained regional environment implies that the move away from Cold Start rhetoric has been a wise one. That the ‘option’ remains on the table does not need amplification; understated exercises as the ongoing Ex Sudarshan Shakti does that in any case. The exercise conducted by the Pune-based Southern Command is being led by the Bhopal-based 21 Corps, Sudarshan Chakra Corps. Participation of troops of the 31 Armoured Division and aircraft such as SU-30 MKI, Jaguars, Mig-27, MIG-21, AWACS and helicopters suggest little else. Pakistan’s nuclear posturing must however be taken seriously. The implications of Nasr need studying in that light. A possible outcome could be reliance on stand-off firepower led punch rather than a physical one, in the form of Cold Start, in case of grave provocation.
For the China front, the late K. Subrahmanyam’s words need heeding: ‘When Chinese troop strength goes beyond 150000 it will be necessary for India to consider stepping up the forces deployed along the northern border’ (p. xxii). With infrastructure in Tibet reportedly upgraded to sustain three times that number and China having practiced rapid reaction reserves for long distance deployment, India’s approval of an expansion by 86,000 troops appears inevitable. The mountain strike corps set to be raised is billed as the Indian Army’s largest expansion since mechanization in the eighties. One point from the eighties however remains relevant; expansion then in all three dimensions was part of the profligacy that led up to the economic crisis. In the event, the force proved unusable in the security context of the nineties, signified by the stability/instability paradox. The implication for the China front of this experience is that India should quietly go about its upgrades and engage China without indulging in premature, ego-massaging, muscle flexing. The expansion and ongoing infrastructure building itself suggests that India is playing catch up. At the nuclear level, the penultimate piece would fall into place next year with the expected test launch of the Agni V. The final piece, assured second strike capability in the form of a nuclear armed and nuclear powered submarine still lies in the distant future.
At the subconventional level the several SoOs (Suspension of Operations) agreements need to be converted into comprehensive peace agreements to remove vulnerability. The recent exposé (‘Arms and the Rogues’, The Week, 3 December 2011) on the Chittagong arms haul of 2004 should spur the special interlocutors on.
While the military can be expected to rise professionally to the strategic challenge, it would understandably need assistance in grasping the military sociology agenda; given the very human tendency to miss the warts in any mirror image.
Acknowledging that expansion necessarily implies dilution in quality should help the army focus on training. The earlier significance of socialization into military mores through observation and mentoring has suffered an immeasurable setback with the raisings of the Rashtriya Rifles and the two divisions. This cannot now be redeemed. Focusing on the training regimen implies a deepening of professionalisation. This can inject primary group cohesion under threat from personnel turbulence and organizational hyperactivity. Secondly, the earlier paternalistic leadership ethic needs abandoning without remorse. The corresponding concern for ‘welfare’ can be reviewed, with training being taken as the best welfare. Thirdly, the AV Singh committee brought on expansion of the officer cadre is set to be replicated at the Other Ranks and JCO levels. Even as the expansion and the sixth pay commission largesse are useful from the morale and status points of view, the system cannot sustain the privileges and authorizations that go with rank. These would require review, obviously beginning with the officers. This would reduce top heaviness and prevent the Indian Army going ‘Mughal’. While there is no need to preserve the ‘British’ attributes, modernization of social mores and professional relationships will help preserve the Army from wholesale indigenisation. Lastly, on ‘internal health’, the KRA of the chief and courts martial of two lieutenant generals suggest a refocus on leadership. Mundane aspects such as the balance between ‘flexibility’ and ‘integrity’ in the desired personality type need input from best practices in the human resources field.
The last point on leadership brings one to the last issue in this inevitably subjective wish list. At the organizational level, 2012 could well bring in a major change, long desired by the Army. The Naresh Chandra task force will likely tender its report. It may set a timeline for organizational evolution of the national security structure. A point on this may be greater uniformed representation in the ministry of defence. Two implications arise: one is reconfiguring the professional military education system to produce officers who can tenant these appointments; and, secondly, a reevaluation of the command culture to shift from a ‘jhanda and danda’ bias towards a collegiate manner of decision making and a democratic leadership style.
In fact, the latter is perhaps behind the impression left by the Army in its tackling of two issues in the fading year: expansion in the job profile of lady officers and AFSPA. How the military tackles these two issues set to ‘dog’ it into the future will reveal if it has indeed transformed (with a capital ‘T’) into a 21st century force. Academically, the locus of professionalism is the officer corps. The onus rests with it. At the 40th anniversary of the Army’s most famous victory it would be churlish to point out that 2012 holds a significant 50th anniversary.

TNW in Nuclear First Use: The Legal Counter

Bookmark and Share
October 2011
Volume: 
 5
Issue: 
 4
Commentaries
AttachmentSize
Download Comment [PDF]171.33 KB
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS

Children of Abraham at War: Clash of Messianic Militarisms, by Talmiz Ahmad Delhi, Aakar Books, 2010, 475 pp., Rs 1250, ISBN 978-93-5002-080-7

Bookmark and Share
Volume: 
 35
Issue: 
 5
Book Review
September 2011
POLICY BRIEF

Elevate Human Rights as the Core Organising Principle in Counter Insurgency

Bookmark and Share
November 14, 2011
The Indian Army’s Doctrine for Sub Conventional Operations does an admirable job in balancing human rights protection with operational demands. However, there is a degree of dissonance in the approach to human rights brought about by the perspective that protecting human rights is a means to an end. This dissonance can be removed by viewing human rights as ends in themselves or as a ‘categorical imperative and elevating the principle of protecting human rights as the core organizing principle in counter insurgency.

Download Policy Brief

ISSUE BRIEF

A Consideration of Sino-Indian Conflict

Bookmark and Share
October 24, 2011
There is considerable interest in a possible conflict with China. However, little discussion exists in the open domain on conflict possibilities. This Brief attempts to fill this gap by dilating upon conflict scenarios along the spectrum of conflict. It brings out the need for limitation to conflict and the necessity for a grand strategic approach towards China as against a military driven one.

Download Issue Brief

IDSA COMMENT

Tit for Tat: A Nuclear Retaliation Alternative

Bookmark and Share
October 3, 2011
Since the infliction of unacceptable damage may not deter Pakistan from breaking the nuclear taboo, a ‘tit for tat’ strategy in case of lower order nuclear use is worth considering.
India’s deterrent posture is based on an assurance of inflicting ‘unacceptable damage’ as punitive retaliation in case of a Pakistani nuclear first use of any sort – either on Indian territory or on Indian forces ‘anywhere’. The declaratory nuclear doctrine of 2003 has it that such a retaliation would be ‘massive’. That the term carries some significance can be discerned from the use of the word ‘very heavy’ by the former Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee to describe India’s likely nuclear reaction. It echoes General Padmanabhan’s warning during Operation Parakram that: ‘The perpetrator of that particular outrage shall be punished, shall be punished so severely that the continuation of any form of fray will be doubtful.’
The option of ‘unacceptable damage’ commands a consensus in India for understandable reasons. India’s nuclear doctrine is for deterrence and not warfighting. However, there is one contingency that the doctrine does not address adequately well, namely, Pakistan’s defensive use of a nuclear weapon on its own territory. Such an eventuality of lower order nuclear first use does trigger the Indian doctrine since it covers Indian forces ‘anywhere’. The meting out of unacceptable damage for such a transgression or breaking of the nuclear taboo may seem disproportionate by Pakistan. In light of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the lower triple digits, an Indian response along the expounded lines may trigger a counter strike that inflicts ‘unacceptable damage’ on India. This may in turn lead to a further Indian response and ensuing escalation. Such a dénouement may not be in Indian interests, even if in the event Pakistan is ‘finished’.
Therefore, there is a case for revisiting the nuclear doctrine to address this contingency. Currently, there are two prominent nuclear retaliation options. One is as per the official doctrine of ‘massive’ punitive retaliation; and the second is inflicting ‘unacceptable damage’ which does not necessarily involve a ‘massive’ counter strike. There is also a possible third option – non-retaliation. Since India’s doctrine is one of ‘assured retaliation’, the last is not discussed any further. This commentary, however, brings out a fourth alternative: ‘tit for tat’ nuclear retaliation.
India’s nuclear doctrine is certainly credible in case the Pakistani first use is of first strike proportions or a counter value, counter command and control, counter force or decapitation strike. In such cases, India would be politically, legally and morally empowered to return the strike with interest. Given the high credibility of such deterrence, this manner of nuclear first use may be less likely. Lower order nuclear first use as in the contingency discussed is not impossible to visualize since Pakistan would be banking on the low level ‘opprobrium quotient’ for such a strike. It would be counting on the strike to help focus war termination efforts particularly of the international community. It may wish to run the risk of a disproportionate counter by India as per its doctrine for the purpose. The moot question then is: ‘How credible is such intent of nuclear retaliation against first use not of such levels?’
Analysts who privilege deterrence rightly note that in such cases India ought to show resolve by inflicting unacceptable damage irrespective of the type of first use. To them, this would ensure deterrence of even lower order nuclear first use. Assured of India’s punitive retaliation which would exact an unacceptable price, Pakistan would rationally choose against first use – rationality being in an easily made costs-gains calculation. However, deterrence based on the threat of ‘unacceptable damage’ may not credibly cover this lower level of nuclear first use since India would be open to a like counter strike. In case this is to be degraded, then a ‘massive’ punitive strike is called for. This is as per India’s nuclear doctrine that analysts themselves argue against. Leaving Pakistan the means to strike back would imply opening India to a similar strike. In case India destroys 5-10 Pakistani cities or value targets, Pakistan would for proportionate vengeance attempt to take out more than 10 Indian targets. Unwillingness to sustain such a strike may self-deter India. That is not to say there should be no retaliation, but that the non-punitive option suggests itself in such a case, i.e. the tit for tat option. The operational translation of this option is of a quid pro quo or a quid pro quo plus response.
The advantage in terms of deterrence of this option is in its higher credibility for the contingency. It counters Pakistani attempts at projection of a low nuclear threshold by innovative measures such as the demonstration of the ‘Nasr’ tactical missile recently. Pakistan ends up being struck twice over by its resort to nuclear first use, one being its own weapon on its territory and the second the retaliatory one by India. It does away with the issue of disproportionate response. It enables the cornering of Pakistani decision makers in the court of international opinion, thus staying their nuclear hand further. It conveys India’s resolve adequately.
At the political level, it helps capture the moral high ground. It caters for the understandable operation of self-deterrence in political level nuclear decision making. The decision maker has an additional option as an alternative to escalation. It does not discount the other two options on the table – ‘massive’ and ‘assured retaliation’. The ‘threat that leaves something to chance’ continues. Pakistani targets remain as hostages for further attacks, thus heightening in-conflict deterrence. In sparing Pakistan, India would itself be spared ‘unacceptable damage’. Discontinuing the exchange(s) would be easier at the lower level, conflict termination easier and the environment more amenable for post conflict peace than in the case of higher order nuclear exchanges.
First use would unmistakably change the war into a nuclear one. Since a conflict that has gone nuclear has the potential to turn into a Total War, with undesirable consequences also for India, strategic prudence dictates attempts to restrict the cost. This can be done through two ways. One is damage limitation strikes or a massive punitive retaliation to degrade Pakistan’s retaliatory capability, which will considerably disarm Pakistan though at great environmental cost. Pakistan is reported to have about 100 weapons located at over 10 sites. Camouflage, deception and other passive and active protection measures would cumulatively deny India a first strike capability. In effect, Pakistan would have a second strike capability which would be enough to inflict ‘unacceptable damage’, even if not of ‘assured destruction’ levels. In the light of India’s declaratory doctrine Pakistan would have taken measures for pre-delegation to meet such a contingency, including a ‘dead hand’ discharge of weapons in a ‘use them-lose them’ mode.
The second way lies in incentivising limitation even in a nuclear war. This can be done by following a ‘tit for tat’ strategy at lower levels of nuclear use. It would involve imitative strikes that would leave the onus to escalate on Pakistan, as also denying it any intended gains. India’s variegated capability, increasing numbers of nuclear weapons over time and second strike capability would ensure escalation dominance thus deterring Pakistan from upping-the-ante.
In effect, India’s doctrine would be assured but flexible retaliation. It would amount to deterrence by denial at lower levels of nuclear first use and to deterrence by punishment for higher order nuclear use.
IDSA COMMENT

What Does Pakistan Hope to Achieve with Nasr?

Bookmark and Share
August 17, 2011
A partisan debate has understandably followed the unveiling of Nasr in April 2011. While analysts in Pakistan have taken pains to underline its utility, those in India have expressed an informed scepticism. This debate notwithstanding, the assumption informing this commentary is that Nasr exists as a potent weapon system with capabilities as advertised.
An answer for the question posed in the title can be hazarded along four levels: grand strategic, strategic, operational and tactical. There appears to be a contradiction in the implications of Nasr at these different levels. How Pakistan resolves these contradictions will determine how it will eventually employ the weapon system.
At the grand strategic level, the idea seems to be to focus international attention on South Asia as a ‘nuclear flashpoint’. The possibility of use of nuclear weapons increases with the ‘use them lose them’ connotations of tactical nuclear weapons (TNW). It is expected that this would energise the international community towards crisis de-escalation and conflict termination. The aim would be to have the pressure work on Indian decision makers, depriving them of autonomy of decision making.
At the strategic level, it has been rightly pointed out by Indian nuclear analysts that Nasr is an attempt at lowering, or rather projecting, a low nuclear threshold. The idea is to restrict the scope for India’s conventional operations. In the limited war logic, India does not intend to flirt with Pakistan’s nuclear thresholds. In any event, keeping these low would help Pakistan preserve its territory and military forces to the extent possible.
At the operational level, the impact of Nasr is more psychological. The aim would be to slow down Indian offensive pincers by making them ‘button down’ for a battlefield that could potentially suddenly ‘go nuclear’. The precautions, logistics load and time cycle of standard operations procedures would slow down and complicate operations. This would translate into increased combat friction, resulting in an increased leadership burden. There will be higher levels of vulnerability of bottlenecks such as bridgeheads. Pakistan would be able to counter thrust lines that it cannot address due to the relative imbalance of forces or if it is surprised. Indian forces will not be able to exploit opportunities with a sense of impunity, even those of pursuit. In fact, the more successful they get, the more the nuclear shadow of Nasr will loom large. The element of fear, surprise and its disconcerting effect will be exploited fully by Pakistan. India may need additional forces to cater for various contingencies. This will have a corresponding affect on logistics, the pace of progress of operations, coordination, presenting potential targets, etc.
At the tactical level, the physical and psychological pressures of operating in a potential nuclear battlefield will add to the strain of combat. In hot weather there would be increased physical attrition to troops, requiring earlier relief and time consuming rotation in subunit/unit roles. Wider dispersion that nuclear tactics necessitate will increase command and control problems and the fog of war. Wide frontages increase the vulnerability to counter attack, since the freedom to concentrate would be with the counter attacker.
It would appear that the seeming advantages stated above are behind Pakistan’s development of Nasr. However, it is surely not an unmixed blessing. What are the cons?
At the grand strategic level, attracting international attention to the region as a crisis point works both ways. As the Kargil conflict showed, India can profit from the situation and the onus on backing off could well be on Pakistan. Any propensity for first use may prompt the feared crackdown on its nuclear assets by the US-led international community, which would be to India’s advantage. This may convulse the Pakistan military into an internal battle over its assets, which would be especially untimely when faced with an Indian ‘threat’. Pakistan will finally end up a nuclear pariah with a dysfunctional military, a state it has managed to avoid so far.
At the strategic level, by displaying its new found capability, Pakistan has partially attempted to go down the NATO route during the Cold War. The NATO planned to employ TNW to counter the overwhelming mechanised attacks which were expected to be carried out by the Warsaw Pact forces. Using TNW would destroy the very land being defended. The difference in Pakistan’s case would be in the limited numbers of such weapon systems and, secondly, on India’s self-restraint in pulling its conventional punches. Therefore, the employment of Nasr will not be so much as to effect the military situation as to signal the crossing of the nuclear threshold. Since this would trigger the Indian nuclear doctrine of assured retaliation, in uncertain ways, it is not self-evident what Pakistan could achieve by this. It could, however, attempt to escape paying the price by choosing a ‘green-field’ option of a demonstration strike on its own territory, for instance, in the Cholistan desert.
The operational level fallout of the use of Nasr will be equally on Pakistani forces. Once nuclear weapons have had battlefield incidence, they will prove to be an equaliser. The advantages that Pakistan seeks as a defender would be nullified in a violent, possibly nuclear, Indian response. (The former Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee Air Chief Marshal P. V. Naik let on as much in his meeting with the press prior to demitting office.) The psychological, physical and logistics load will be exponentially increased by the panic among civilian populations. This will be relatively greater in Pakistan since the theatre of operations, defined by proactive Indian offensives, will be inside Pakistan.
At the tactical level, there are no empirical studies on the sociological impact of a nuclear battlefield. If combat cohesion breaks down, it will be as likely among Pakistani troops as Indian. The depth in terms of numbers available with India may help it compensate. This luxury is not available to Pakistan. The effect on the force multiplier that Pakistan intends using - irregulars – can only be expected to be negative. Since Pakistani civilians will be more affected, the ties of Pakistani soldiers to kith and kin may prove distracting. There is no evidence of either side having thought through the leadership, bonding and discipline issues on a nuclear battlefield. The emphasis has only been on personal protection at best, and that too is largely lip service for want of training equipment.
As can be seen, there are some operational level dividends that would accrue to Pakistan by using Nasr though it will come at some strategic cost. Two possibilities emerge. The first is that the Pakistani military - true to its wont in being more sensitive to military as against political and strategic concerns - has perhaps focused overly on the operational gains as against strategic costs. Alternatively, given the inescapably obvious costs that it will incur, the military is sensitive to the contradictions. It is only milking Nasr as an information war opportunity.
The judgment here is in favour of the latter. Nasr can at best likely increase India’s natural restraint and operational caution. There is no particular harm in this for there is little case for nuclear haste and any additional operational caution can only energise prior preparation. In its employment, the Nasr is unlikely to halt India in its tracks. Instead, it will likely be employed in nuclear signalling, the most likely manner of which could be in a demonstration strike.
India can arrive at prudent answers, both at the conventional and nuclear levels, to deal with this issue. What might such an answer be? The suggestion here is that the employment of Nasr, even in a ‘green-field’ mode, must release India from NFU constraint. This does not imply default retaliation. Instead, it is for debate whether manipulating the threat of nuclear attack(s) will beget India more political and military dividends than indulging in the
IDSA COMMENT

Afghanistan: An idea anticipating peace

Bookmark and Share
June 6, 2011
The recent elimination of Osama bin Laden has created positive prospects for counter insurgency in Afghanistan. The possibility of a draw down of the US-NATO presence in Afghanistan beginning July 2011 has heightened. The US would initially prefer to end its combat tasks so that, as in Iraq, it is able to eventually exit with dignity. The NATO Europeans are exhausted. Islamabad would like to see a negotiated end to the conflict in order that instability does not spread in Pakistan. India has expressed its support for an Afghan-led and- owned peace process. The Afghans themselves - including the Taliban - would like to see peace return.
Currently there is a military deadlock between the Taliban and the ISAF on the one hand, and a political one between the Karzai regime and the Taliban. All indicators are that the ISAF will continue operations and mentoring of the fledgling ANA, till the situation improves. Having launched its summer campaign, the Taliban are prepared to ‘wait out’ the ISAF. The result is a continuing Afghan problem with the prospects of it engulfing Pakistan. Therefore a special effort on the peace front is called for.
This is reportedly underway. The US envoy, Marc Grossman, is reportedly scouting for Taliban interlocutors. The Karzai government upgraded its National Independent Peace and Reconciliation Commission to a High Peace Council following last year’s ‘peace jirga’. A two-tier Afghanistan-Pakistan joint commission was set up during the visit of Prime Minister Gilani to Kabul. The US has redefined the earlier preconditions for talks - that the Taliban lay down arms, reject al Qaeda, and embrace the Afghan constitution – and has stated that these are outcomes to be sought through talks. This is facilitative and the impending announcement of the beginning of the US draw down will go part of the way towards meeting the Taliban’s condition that foreign troops should first leave. These initiatives scale up the peace feelers sent to the Taliban.
The idea behind the ‘surge’ over the past three years has been to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. In case the Taliban are responsive, at the very least they would insist on the cessation of operations while talks are on. This means that there will also be a decline in the combat missions of the ISAF even as a few troops symbolically depart. Progress in the talks over time would imply a transition from peace enforcement to peace keeping. Progress means - whether the Taliban are amenable to verifiable moderation and the extent to which their demands can be accommodated in the changed constitutional and power setup.
Thinking ahead requires preparing not only for the worst case i.e. the war continuing in Afghanistan and extending into a failing Pakistan; but also for a change towards the better. Understandably there would be reservations about the Taliban’s amenability to moderation. The promise that the Taliban need to make through the talks is a softening of their stance on gender equality, burying of war time feuds and a commitment to the Afghan constitution and multi-ethnic solidarity. This can only be ascertained when links are forged. They may yet prove to be rational strategic and political players.
The way to capitalise on any positive change would be the ‘out-of-the-box’ idea to transform the NATO enforcement mission into a joint UNAMA-SAARC peacekeeping one, predicated on progress in the peace talks. Since the UN is a neutral organisation, it may be able to unlock the standoff as a credible mediator. SAARC as a regional organisation packs considerable peacekeeping muscle, and can facilitate the transition to peacekeeping. A partnership between the UN and the SAARC has the potential to end the logjam. This partnership would have the advantage of leveraging the peacekeeping experience of regional states. A precedent for such a partnership is the UNAMID - the UN-AU hybrid mission in Darfur.
The UNAMA in Afghanistan, is currently involved in activities that involve aiding governance, drug control, humanitarian and developmental work, human rights and fighting corruption. However, the political aspect of its mandate has not seen much progress. This is not for want of trying. Reports of former UNAMA head, Kai Eide’s dealings with the Taliban surfaced on the arrest of his interlocutor Mullah Baradar, by the ISI. This time round the peace initiative can be undertaken transparently and in a high profile manner. This does not require empowerment since the current mandate caters for pursuing a political strategy. Contingency planning for ‘blue berets’ needs to look no further than the region itself.
Specifics of the idea can be gone into once it gains momentum. Only a bare bones outline can be drawn here. A SAARC foreign ministers meet can approve the modalities worked out by the secretariat. A foreign minister can be nominated in rotation for the purpose by the SAARC who can interface with the UN as coordinator. Later perhaps the SRSG can be an eminent person belonging to the region. The secretariat can get additional working hands and create a new section for the purpose. A joint military core staff can be created and a liaison cell located at the ISAF HQs. A force commander would need to be nominated, if necessary to sell the idea in Pakistan - he could be from Pakistan. The appointment can later rotate between contributing states.
The presence of both Pakistan and India, which has proved useful in UN missions elsewhere, may be reassuring for both states. Involved in seeing a regional endeavour through to success, their respective interests would be protected and rivalry mitigated. Scepticism may be voiced that the supposed ‘proxy war’ between the two states may derail the mission and this apprehension makes the idea a non-starter. The counter to this is that the common objective of seeing peace return, ensuring that instability does not spread and the extraordinary scope for cooperation elsewhere are incentives enough to chance the option. The professionalism of their militaries and of foreign policy bureaucracies is known to be of an order that can cope with the demands.
Envisaging problems helps craft prior solutions, thereby helping sell the idea. For instance, the Taliban have apparently expressed a preference for peacekeepers from Muslim states earlier. At least initially Bangladeshi and Pakistani troops can perhaps be predominantly deployed in Pukhtun inhabited areas. In addition, if necessary, the hybrid mission could have contingents from countries such as Turkey and Malaysia, for instance. With time, the professionalism, peacekeeping prowess of troops and the return of a semblance of peace will make this redundant.
Clearly, if an ‘out of the box’ idea is to gain headway, it should not be too far out either. How will India and Pakistan set aside suspicions to enable SAARC to take off? India can play a lead role since it is in the UNSC and is an important member of the SAARC. Any initiative along these lines will be viewed with scepticism by Pakistan. These issues can be sorted out in the impending talks between the two foreign secretaries and ministers. Mutual apprehensions can be voiced and worked around as the idea gains shape. For instance, Pakistanis could be appointed to the positions of SAARC pointsmen and force commander to allay fears.
The potential of SAARC is well recognised. It is yet to develop the game changing habits of thinking and practice that can give traction to this potential. The common aim of seeking peace for a SAARC member state and its people provides an opportunity and a starting point. The idea can further the intent of the prime ministers of both India and Pakistan expressed in their separate trips to Kabul recently. The time for the idea has come. As to whether the time of its implementation is nigh, developments over this summer shall tell. The stalemate is too costly in lives to keep innovative thinking tied up within the traditional balance of power rut.


Reconciling AFSPA with the Legal Spheres

JOURNAL OF DEFENCE STUDIES
Bookmark and Share
April 2011
Volume: 
 5
Issue: 
 2
Focus
The present paper analyses and examines the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in respect of legal aspects. It first discusses it in terms of domestic law, international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law. Given India’s obligations under international human rights instruments going beyond domestic law is necessary in any such discussion. Ensuring complementarity between the Act in its application in armed conflicts and IHL, would contribute towards making the Act more ‘humane’. The second part discusses the Act from security perspectives. In doing so, it reaffirms that respect for human rights and humanitarian law in countering insurgency is of strategic import. In conclusion,it makes some recommendations for the military which will enable it ensure that AFSPA and the IHL complement each other.
AttachmentSize
Download Article [PDF]213.38 KB
IDSA COMMENT

Pakistan’s ‘First Use’ in Perspective

Bookmark and Share
May 12, 2011
Before and after Osama’s killing, the spotlight fell momentarily on Pakistan’s nuclear intentions. Prior to his death, the headlines dwelt on Pakistani tests of Hatf VIII and Hatf IX. Demonstrating plausible first use capability, these were intended to deter a conventional attack by India. After Osama’s death, in a verbal salvo, Pakistan’s foreign secretary warned of ‘catastrophic’ consequences in case any state (read India) chose to emulate the US. His reference was perhaps to escalation, with Pakistani nuclear first use as a grim possibility. What exactly are the chances of this?
That ‘first use’ is inherent in Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine is less indicative of what the doctrine contains and more the general consensus with regard to its nature. Pakistan has not declared its nuclear doctrine as India has done. The fact that it does not subscribe to NFU does not by default imply a first use doctrine. Therefore, it cannot categorically be said that Pakistan’s operational nuclear doctrine is one of nuclear first use.
Having acknowledged this, it has to be said that all indicators point to Pakistani ‘first use’. Firstly, Pakistan wishes not only to deter a nuclear attack but also a conventional attack by compensating for its conventional disadvantages through nuclear means. Second, it has not subscribed to NFU and as per Wikileaks revelations, General Kayani was not in sync with his president’s inclination towards NFU. Third, there are several statements from important personages on the Pakistani intention to escalate in case of conventional conflict. Fourth, since it is the military that has control over the nuclear button, the nuclear arsenal may be more attuned to developments in conventional warfare than would otherwise be the case. Lastly, Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent is operated under military control through service specific strategic commands. This indicates a greater readiness to follow through.
Pakistan is also ambiguous about the nature of its first use. One option is along the time dimension. For some, first use could be a Samson option - as a ‘last resort’. This may command greater legality in terms of extreme resort in self-defence. Alternatively, as the development of the ‘Nasr’ suggests, it may be taken early on when the conflict in a ‘low threshold mode’.
The second ambiguity is over the type of nuclear strike. The first type is a ‘higher order’ strike, attempting to disarm and degrade India’s strike back capability. This is more likely a last resort. The targets could be a mix of counter military, counter force and counter city. The second type is more likely a ‘middle order’ use option in which multiple nuclear strikes are used to blunt India’s conventional offensive capabilities, such as when India’s strike corps are delivering a grievous blow. These could be on counter military targets, and include targets within India - such as supporting air fields. The third is ‘lower order’ first use, as part of nuclear signalling such as demonstration strikes or low opprobrium quotient strike(s). These could include a strike or two -in the oft-discussed scenario of a strike on an advancing Indian armoured column - in Pakistani territory in a defensive mode. In graduated first use scenarios, this is how nuclear weapons may be introduced into the conflict.
Pakistan has demonstrated its tactical nuclear capability through the miniaturisation, low yield, short range and shoot and scoot capability of ‘Nasr’. This helps project a low threshold in the early use mode. This means it can attempt either demonstration strikes or employ these in greater numbers to derail India’s strike formations. This is not so much by physically stopping the pincers, as much as by slowing them down by the strategic, operational and logistics effects of transiting to the nuclear realm.
These weapons have not been delegated to operational formations. Instead, they are controlled by service specific strategic commands, indicating centralisation. This means that any of the options discussed above is available to Pakistan for execution, and it is not necessarily restricted to a default war fighting first use option.
Pakistan can be expected to reinforce its deterrent through an information campaign, surrounding a low threshold projection. This compensates for any weakness or lack of credibility relating to its deterrent, since the deterrent also covers the conventional level. Its projection of irrationality is in keeping with the ‘rationality of irrationality’ thesis - a part of nuclear deterrence theory. The idea is to keep India guessing and hopefully deterred.
To attribute a first use doctrine to Pakistan is to admit that India’s nuclear weapons do not deter adequately. This may not be true since Pakistan too is subject to the psychological effects of deterrence. Deterrence is heightened since first use implies a break in the nuclear taboo. There would also be no guarantee of success and the only certainty would be of costs - known and known unknowns as well as unimagined and unimaginable.
‘First use’ would be dependent on appreciation of gains and costs. Gains from projection of a first use are self-evident. Firstly, the existence of a ‘threshold’ forecloses any expansive options that India’s conventional might may enable. Secondly, it refines the stability/instability paradox in injecting instability at the nuclear level. It indicates a rejection of India’s deterrence as it is currently defined, as a one-step escalatory ladder. This will force India to reconsider its nuclear response strategy, if not its declaratory doctrine. It stabilises the conventional level in reinforcing Indian prudence, thereby opening up the sub-conventional level for proxy war. The paradox can therefore be extended to read instability/stability/instability.
The gain from executing first use is in attempting to escape paying a price that India may set out to exact by catalysing the international community’s intervention. It would also bring home to India grave dangers that it may have discounted in going in for a military showdown. But the costs are much starker.
India’s promise of assured retaliation cannot be ignored, in the light of India’s growing second strike capability. Even if India’s declared intent of visiting ‘massive’ retribution is seemingly lacking in credibility, assured retaliation may yet inflict ‘unacceptable damage’. Secondly, there are risks in a first use intent inviting a pre-emptive strike. India is going down the BMD route. It has a multiple satellite launch capability, which over time can translate into an MIRV capability.
The upshot of this discussion is: firstly that first use is useful only for projection. Secondly, strategic sense favours an operational nuclear doctrine that tends towards NFU. Equally, strategic sense, from Pakistan’s point of view, is in keeping this secret. It can therefore be inferred, that the greater the projection the less likely the intention.
Projection of first use is safe for Pakistan since it rightly counts on India’s strategic maturity. India has no intention of being deflected from its economic trajectory. Pakistan’s nuclear nonchalance therefore owes much to its largely accurate appreciation of its nuclear posturing going untested.
This is one assumption India will not challenge by departing from military prudence. Its recent distancing from Cold Start is not so much on account of the efficacy of Pakistani deterrence, but its own grand strategic economic imperative. Sensibly, even as India wishes to match step with Pakistan, it has no intention of accompanying Pakistan on its way downhill.
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS

Human Rights and Armed Forces in Low Intensity Conflict by K.S. Sheoran

Bookmark and Share
Volume: 
 35
Issue: 
 3
Book Review
May 2011
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS

Towards a Proactive Military Strategy: 'Cold Start and Stop'

Bookmark and Share
Volume: 
 35
Issue: 
 3
Articles
May 2011
The article reviews the Cold Start doctrine in light of the limited war doctrine. It argues that the launch of strike corps entails a risk prone war expansion. War termination should therefore be short of the launch of strike corps offensives. It suggests a 'Cold Start and Stop' strategy with limited offensives by integrated battle groups being used to coerce Pakistan. Pakistani amenability to Indian war aims would be dependent on India offering incentives diplomatically alongside. India's limited war doctrine, currently not articulated, must be informed by such a war waging strategy. Making force usable in the nuclear age requires certain doctrinal and organisational changes suggested in the article.
IDSA COMMENT

Making Sense of ‘Nasr’

Bookmark and Share
April 24, 2011
News reports have it that Pakistan has successfully conducted a test of a surface-to-surface short range Hatf IX (Nasr), described as a multi-tube ballistic missile with a ‘shoot and scoot’ capability. The statement of the Director-General of the Strategic Plans Division, Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, that the flight consolidated Pakistan's strategic deterrence capability at all levels of the threat spectrum indicates that Nasr is nuclear capable.
To Pakistani analyst, Dr. Shireen Mazari, ‘It (Nasr) will act as a deterrent against use of mechanised conventional land forces. This was essential in the wake of India's adventurist war-fighting doctrine formulations, which envisaged the use of rapid deployment of armed brigades and divisions in surprise and rapid attacks.’ She believes, ‘Indian dreams of a limited war against Pakistan through its Cold Start strategy have been laid to rest. This will allow for a reassertion of a stable nuclear deterrence in the region.’ This article analyses if Dr. Mazari is right.
Pakistan is the weaker side in the India-Pakistan dyad. Recognising this structural factor, its military, which also runs the state, has been constantly innovative in addressing what it perceives as an asymmetry. It has resorted to external balancing in renting out its strategic location for geopolitical use by external powers. It has forged a close relationship with China to balance India and help China in its strategic purposes in relation to India. For over quarter of a century, it has tried to gain ‘depth’, forward of its defences, by rendering rear area security problematic for Indian forces through its proxy war. It has attempted internal balancing by reportedly training five lakh irregulars for making India’s stabilisation operations untenable, even at the risk and cost of the backlash it is currently enduring. This explains the utilisation of the development of Nasr for purposes beyond merely doctrinal.
Further, Pakistan employs information operations interestingly and to some effect. For instance, it claims to have equalised India’s number of nuclear tests at Chagai and insists that these give a variegated capability. It periodically claims success of missile tests from the point of view of deterrence signalling. The Nasr test, for instance, coincided with the launch of corps level Indian military manoeuvres, Exercise Vijayi Bhav, in the Rajasthan deserts. Pakistan’s nuclear related rhetoric is also designed to increase the salience of the nuclear overhang and addresses multiple audiences, in particular the US. Its prosecution of operations against the Taliban in FATA and Khyber Pakhtoonwa province has been marked by much sound and fury, particularly with respect to the displacement of people. Its deployment of nationalist strategic analysts to inform, rationalise, legitimise and influence has been proactive. All these resulted in a former US president once famously mistaking South Asia to be the most ‘dangerous’ place in the world!
This creditable record of information warfare requires to appropriately condition analyses of developments like that of the Nasr. Nasr’s flight test had both Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai and Dr. Shireen Mazari giving their opinions. This clearly indicates that even if Nasr is a forbidding reality by itself, the same needs underlining and highlighting for effect. Multiple aims are thus achieved. The purported aim is deterrence, which explains the timing to coincide with the Indian exercise. It could also be to get the US focus back on the eastern front in terms of making the admittedly delicate balance seem untenably unstable, in light of US keenness to get the Pakistani Army take on the Taliban in North Waziristan.
That said, taking Nasr seriously at face-value helps arrive at its actual significance. The development of Nasr indicates that Pakistan views India’s Cold Start doctrine with concern. The Nasr is meant to deter India’s launch of Cold Start. Since Nasr is reportedly nuclear capable, short range and light weight, it could imply the use of tactical nuclear weapons were such a conflict to occur. Fearing a lower nuclear threshold, implied by availability of tactical nuclear weapons, India may be deterred from embarking on Cold Start. This would enable Pakistan to recreate the space it once had for continuing its prosecution of proxy war - a space that has been constricted by India’s formulation of a Cold Start doctrine, even though all the components of the doctrine such as weapons acquisitions, relocation of formations and change to a manoeuvre war culture are not yet entirely in place.
It has been assessed that Pakistani reliance on its nuclear cover would increase with India’s increasing felicity with Limited War doctrine. Pakistan is reportedly ahead of India in numbers of nuclear warheads and in a more variegated missile delivery capability. This, to one analyst, spells a strategy of ‘asymmetric escalation’. In the Pakistani logic, nuclear deterrence is also to operate at the conventional level. Nasr, to Dr. Mazari, makes for deterrence stability since it helps strengthen this dimension of nuclear stability. Dr. Mazari is right on deterrence stability, but gets her reason wrong - the reference to Cold Start being anachronistic.
India’s Army Chief has indicated that no such doctrine exists. It appears that the Indian military is looking to respond to subconventional provocations at the same level. This may be in the form of surgical strikes, Special Forces operations, border skirmishes, activation of the Line of Control, select punitive operations, etc. The Indian intent will be to convey a message of resolve as well as to punish and cause selective attrition. And the aim would be to address Pakistani cost-benefit calculations in such a manner as to coerce Pakistan into limiting its provocation below India’s ‘level of tolerance’. Such a course of action by India has internal political utility in letting off steam in terms of ‘something’ being done. It is also decidedly less expensive, preserving India’s grand strategy of economic rise from being unnecessarily buffeted.
The Indian move away from a default resort to Limited War places the onus of escalation on Pakistan. India’s conventional capability is to ensure that Pakistani reaction to such subconventional retribution is non-escalatory. Should Pakistan try to respond with conventional action, that would provoke a ‘Cold Start’ by India. Pakistan would thus be placed a second time round in a position of decision to escalate, this time by using Nasr. The prospects of Pakistan’s self-deterrence under such circumstances are higher. In the event, Pakistan will be forced to react defensively to India’s ‘contingency’ operations.
In case push comes to shove and Pakistan does resort to the use of Nasr, then this would more likely be on its own territory, rather than provocatively on Indian launch pads close to the border. India’s promised retaliation may not then necessarily be along the lines of its nuclear doctrine of ‘massive’ punitive retaliation (strategy having the privilege of departing from doctrine). The net result would be further nuclear impact(s) on Pakistani territory.
In other words, stability reigns not due to India being deterred, but Pakistan being self-deterred. Accountability for initiating both the conflict and a possible nuclear conflict would rest with the Pakistani military. The aftermath would surely find it decisively pushed off its commanding perch in Pakistan by an angered people.
In rethinking Cold Start as a default option and working towards proactive ‘contingency’ options, India is a step ahead in doctrinal shadow boxing. It appears to be playing by Schelling’s concept of Limited War as a ‘bargaining’ process:
‘It is in wars that we have come to call ‘limited wars’ that the bargaining appears most vividly and is conducted most consciously. The critical targets in such a war are the mind of the enemy…the threat of violence in reserve is more important than the commitment of force in the field… And, like any bargaining situation, a restrained war involves some degree of collaboration between adversaries.’ (Schelling, Arms and Influence (1966).
The challenge in South Asia is to ensure that the contest remains at the doctrinal level. Keeping it so entails getting into a doctrinal dialogue with Pakistan so that the ‘collaboration’, mentioned by Schelling, can be from a mutually intelligible script.
POLICY BRIEF

Revision of the DSCO: Human Rights to the Fore

Bookmark and Share
March 22, 2011
The Doctrine for Sub Conventional Operations (DSCO) is due for review this year. This Brief suggests directions in which the Doctrine can better address the Human Rights factor. It brings out that certain doctrinal formulations lend themselves to a permissive understanding of the use of force. This impinges on the HR factor, rightly taken in the doctrine as central to counter insurgency. The Brief recommends measures to reconcile use of force and the HR factor, which is imperative in light of the idea of India that the nation is working towards.

Download Policy Brief



India-Pakistan Relations: Military Diplomacy vs Strategic Engagement

JOURNAL OF DEFENCE STUDIES
Bookmark and Share
January 2011
Volume: 
 5
Issue: 
 1
Commentaries
Military diplomacy has not figured significantly in India-Pakistan relations with ample reasons. Military to military engagement between the two states is confined to CBMs of varying significance. Even as both militaries have several regional and extra-regional engagements falling under the rubric of military diplomacy, the ones between the two are restricted to the routine exchanges of military advisors in respective missions in national capitals. However, there is a case for expansion in military diplomacy between the two. The main argument is that there are asymmetric benefits for India from engaging Pakistan. Therefore, the several dimensions of India’s engagement with Pakistan need supplementing with engaging its military directly. It states that initiation of a strategic dialogue, independent of the peace process, as a ‘solution’.
AttachmentSize
Download Article [PDF]193.09 KB