Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A Handy Reference Book


http://www.thebookreviewindia.org/articles/archives-4458/2015/May/5/a-handy-reference-book.html

NUCLEAR SOUTH ASIA: KEYWORDS AND CONCEPTS 
By Rajesh Rajagopalan  and Atul Mishra 
Routledge, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 306, Rs. 850.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 5 May 2015

The book is a long awaited one on three counts. One is that it fills a gap in South Asian strategic affairs
litera­ture and on that score will be valued by stu­dents and initiates among the attentive pub­lic. The
second is that its explication of the well chosen entries is such that it settles some of the misconceptions
that have attended strategic terms. Third, there has been a re­current demand for a shared vocabulary
 and common understanding of it, for use both within the Indian strategic community and with interlocutors
across the border. In do­ing this, the book does not neglect ‘western’ definitions even as it adapts 
them to Indian and regional usage and conditions, a case in point being ‘massive retaliation’. The 
book, compiled under the tutelage of nuclear authority and realist theoretician, Professor Rajagopalan, 
is potentially a valu­able resource. It carries a short history of the nuclear trajectory of both South Asian
 states as its introduction. It begins with expand­ing the set of abbreviations in the nuclear field and 
goes on to a brief chronology. It wraps up its 229 pages of terms and their definitions with 17 pages 
of select bibliog­raphy. The reading list does not restrict it­self to the region, but includes classics 
such as Freedman’s Evolution of Nuclear Strategy. Neither does it ignore nuclear pacifists in its 
inclusion of Bidwai and Vanaik’s On a Short Fuse and N. Ram’s Riding the Nuclear Tiger. 
It’s over 400 entries cover personalities, nuclear installations, doctrines, equipment, legal regime and 
organizations. This way it puts between one set of covers a thought­fully compiled and competently 
written, comprehensive overview and detail of nuclear matters in the region. However, its effort 
could have been enhanced by an index for ease of consultation. Perhaps its next edition, suitably 
dis­tanced in time, say, five years on, could in­clude a section with terms having relevance outside 
the region. The US could be repre­sented for instance by reference to its Nuclear Posture Review 
and Strategic Defence Re­views. Those who tend to think that India weighs in with China and 
should not be bracketed with Pakistan may also want in­clusion of China specific terms such as 
Jin class and Chengdu Military Region. This of course risks offsetting the book’s current ...

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Doctrine in Civil-Military Relations
http://www.indiandefencereview.com/spotlights/doctrine-in-civil-military-relations/

16 May , 2015

Supervision of doctrine making is one way by which civilian control is exercised over the military. Military doctrine writing is largely done within the military. However, it is to be in close coordination with the Ministry and national security institutions. This is clear from the fact that, firstly, military doctrines are based on the government’s strategic doctrine; secondly, the civilian part of government has to have a sense of ownership of the doctrine by being part of the process; and, finally, military doctrines must receive ministerial imprimatur to signify that they are outcome of a shared process and responsibility.
As for the first, the fact that India does not have a strategic doctrine in the form of a white paper or an open-domain strategic defence review is well known. While the National Security Advisory Board does undertake defence review, it is not within the pail of government. As seen when it released the Draft Nuclear Doctrine in 1999, the government indicated that it is merely advisory. As for the second -civilian participation in doctrine making – it is not self-evidently the case in India. And, the last – governmental ownership – can be assumed from the press statements that accompany release of doctrine.
This article reflects on the second aspect: ministry participation in doctrine making.
It is not known as to the extent the Ministry of Defence is part of the process of doctrine formulation in India. Its website carries no mention of doctrine formulation. There is also no reference to conventional doctrines in the Annual Report of the Ministry. This suggests the Ministry is keeping at a distance from the doctrinal sphere, perhaps under the mistaken impression that the doctrine function is solely the military’s preserve.
If this inference is a fair approximation of reality, it is certainly yet another area of deficit in civil-military relations in India. It indicates that the ‘lesson’ of 1962, of civilians keeping out of military matters has possibly been over-learnt. Since there is considerable overlap with the civilian sphere, the doctrinal space is not one that can be left to the military alone. While the overlap is self-evident for subconventional doctrine involving as it does the defence and home ministries, it is equally so for conventional doctrine.
The region now into the second decade of the nuclear age, the nuclear and conventional doctrines are intertwined. Since the nuclear doctrine is a politico-strategic function, with apex level military input and participation, the nuclear doctrine making is understandably a civilian led process. Military conventional doctrines are to be sensitive to the demands of nuclear doctrine on the conventional space. For instance, conventional doctrine cannot envisage operations that are overly escalatory. Since conventional military doctrines have to be cognizant of the civilian led nuclear doctrine, they cannot be without reference to civilian expertise in the national security establishment. Such participation of civilians is at two levels: at the ministry and at the National Security Council institutions.
Military doctrines give out the manner the military wishes to fight future wars. Consequently, in peacetime they are critical to the type of military being formed in terms of strength, equipment, training and elan, and serve to inform military plans. In wartime, they inform military strategy. Since the Ministry has a role to play and an interest in all these aspects, such as for instance in platform acquisitions necessitated by doctrine, it needs to play its part in the doctrinal process. In case the Ministry’s engagement with the process is suboptimal then problems emerge down the line.
An illustration is the indication by the defence minister of a stepping back for financial reasons from the creation of the mountain strike corps. 17 Corps is reportedly to be pruned so as to make its additional manpower and necessary equipment acquisitions affordable. The corps has been under discussion for over half a decade. It is a result of the revision in army doctrine that was reported in the press in end 2009. The army doctrine of 2004 had thereafter been revised and released internally in 2010. The revision of doctrine was however not revealed in the public domain through a press release as is usually the case.
The revised doctrine, unlike its 2004 predecessor, being confidential, press reports on doctrinal change of the period suggest a ‘two front’ doctrine with a similar offensive turn on the China front being envisaged as had been adopted on the Pakistan front under the 2004 doctrine.The ‘two front’ doctrine envisages a counter offensive capability also be created for the China front, akin to the strike corps in the plains. The implications for size and equipment of the army are of such magnitude that a doctrinal shift cannot obviously be taken without governmental imprimature.
The previous UPA government authorized two mountain divisions late last decade and with reluctance gave approval for the mountain strike corps only in mid 2013 after much stalling by the finance ministry. It would appear that the present government’s reservations on the costs are a legacy of the period. It can therefore be concluded that had a ‘whole of government’ approach been part of doctrine formulation at the outset itself, this awkward stepping back on 17 Corps would not have been necessary.
A second illustration of disconnect between the ministry and the military concerns subconventional doctrine. It has recently emerged that in 2013 the army adopted a new edition of the Doctrine on Sub Conventional Operations of 2006. As with the 2010 revision of the conventional doctrine, Indian Army Doctrine 2004, the DSCO 2013 has been kept confidential. It is not known as to the extent the changes are merely cosmetic making the 2013 version merely a new edition or are substantial enough to reckon that it is indeed a revised doctrine. Since it is confidential, it cannot be known as to the levels of participation of the two ministries in internal security – defence and home – in its revision.
The DSCO 2013 was released internally without intimation in the open domain through a press release. Therefore, it cannot be known if the doctrine has ministerial imprimature. Clearly, subconventional operations overlap the civilian sphere almost wholly. Since the DSCO 2006 version was in the open domain and well received for its ‘iron fist in velvet glove’ thesis, that the 2013 version has instead been kept confidential is intriguing. Had the two ministries been hands-on participants in doctrine making then this situation would unlikely have arisen.
This underlines the point of ministries distancing themselves from the doctrine sphere. It can be argued that this owes to ignorance of matters military. This is probably quite right, but cannot on that account be allowed to stand unchallenged. The ministry cannot abdicate the doctrinal space owing to its deficiency. It has to be instead to be held accountable. It has to create the structures necessary to participate actively and exercise oversight effectively. This can be done, for instance, by empowering the affiliated think tanks of the ministry and the forces HQs. Just as the ministry of external affairs has ratcheted up its policy and planning division under the new foreign secretary, the defence ministry could likewise upgrade itself with an in-house think tank of academics, bureaucrats, veterans and practitioners.
Clearly, there is a case for governmental ownership of the doctrinal space even if the military is in the lead.It must begin with an NSCS strategic review followed by a ministry driven doctrine process with the product minimally being acknowledged in the open domain or, maximally, being democratically placed in it

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

indian military exercises 2015

What This Year’s Maneuver Season in India Tells Us

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/05/12/what-this-years-maneuver-season-in-india-tells-us/

From separate media reports on ‘massive’ exercises in India’s western deserts, we learn that India’s premier ‘strike’ corps, 2 Corps, and a ‘pivot’ corps, 10 Corps, are being exercised. Interestingly, media reports that carry mention of the 2 Corps exercise, ‘Exercise Brahmashira’ (Ultimate weapon), make no mention of the other exercise, Exercise Akraman(Attack) II of 10 Corps, and vice versa. It would seem that the two are not interconnected, especially since 2 Corps is affiliated with India’s Western Command and 10 Crops is under is South Western (SW) Command.
However, this is improbable since the exercises are taking place in the same geographic area, Suratgarh sector, and the two exercises finished together. Therefore, it can be plausibly be inferred that a pivot corps and a strike crops exercised together. What are the implications?
‘Pivot’ corps are erstwhile ‘holding’ corps in a defensive role. India’s doctrine, now a decade old, converted these into ‘pivot’ corps, equipping each with an offensive element, termed ‘integrated battle group’ (IBG). From the name of the pivot corps exercise, Akraman II, it is evident that the 10 Corps exercise was to practice its integrated battle groups (IBG). Since the pivot corps in the semi-desert terrain has two mechanized Reorganised Plains Infantry Divisions, it is capable of sending into attack two IBGs.
Each of India’s three ‘strike’ corps is orbatted to one of the three geographic commands facing Pakistan. 2 Corps under Western Command is understood to operate in the developed plains sector in Punjab which Western Command faces. However, strike corps, owing to their inherent mobility, are able to move between sectors and achieve surprise by launch across the entire front. In this case, it appears that 2 Corps was put through its paces in the semi-developed terrain opposite South Western Command. This implies two options.
In addition to the two IBGs of the pivot corps in action, in the first option, there is also the strike corps affiliated to SW Command, 1 Corps, available for launch across its front. However, in case 2 Corps is practicing launch across SW Command frontage, in this option 1 Corps is instead held back as a countervailing force in a defensive role.
In the second option, along with the two pivot corps IBGs, both 1 Corps and 2 Corps are launched into semi-desert terrain opposite SW Command. In this year’s exercise, 1 Corps did not figure since India usually practices only one strike corps a year in rotation and 1 Corps exercise, Exercise Sarvada Vijay (Always Victorious) was held last year. But that 2 Corps is practicing in the terrain of the neighboring geographical command, it can supplement 1 Corps. In other words, at a maximum, two strike corps comprising their integral six IBGs and two IBGs of the pivot corps can be launched into the semi-desert terrain into Pakistan. This gives India the ability to cut Pakistan in half between Lahore and Karachi.
How dangerous is this in a nuclear context?
In the doctrine, while the initial offensives are launched by division-sized IBGs of pivot corps and of strike corps formations located closer to the border, the remainder of the strike corps mobilizes in their wake. It can use the areas already captured by IBGs for jump off into battles deeper within enemy territory.
While Pakistan may be able to countenance shallow thrusts by IBGs along the front with equanimity, deeper thrusts that could potentially threaten its vital areas and communication networks may be pushing the nuclear threshold a bit.
In this case, in the semi-developed sector, there is arguably greater space for strike corps operations without flirting inordinately with the proverbial nuclear threshold as would be the case in developed terrain, say, opposite Lahore. Therefore, if in the current exercise the strike corps is advertised as rehearsing maneuvers that ‘will allow the Army formations to break through multiple obstacles within a restricted time frame’, then the army expects sufficient space for territorial gains and attrition of Pakistani reserves without the nuclear factor intervening.
Pakistan has in its testing of a tactical nuclear weapons and delivery systems hinted at a lower nuclear threshold precisely to stay such operations by India’s strike corps in their tracks. India, for its part, appears to be exhibiting nonchalance by going about such exercises to indicate that it is not deterred. The two states are playing the ‘game of chicken’ which they are racing towards each other hoping the other would swerve. Through its exercises, India is depicting that it is getting into the car and visibly throwing away the wheel.
Unlike India’s 2004 conventional doctrine called ‘Cold Start’, the revised version of its doctrine of 2010 is not in the open domain. Therefore, it is not known if the 2010 version took into account the criticism that had greeted the 2004 version that deep operations may inordinately push Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. From the exercises just held it is not certain that the criticism has registered, especially if the second option discussed was the exercise scenario.
Had the doctrinal space in India been more transparent, it would have been easier to discern if its military is adequately cognizant of the nuclear reality now well into its second decade. The employment of India’s strike corps on maneuvers reminiscent of the pre-nuclear halcyon days of conventional operations in the eighties, as seen this year, does not lend confidence that India and its military are sufficiently sensitive to the onset of the nuclear age.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Exercise Brahmashira

This Year’s Maneuver Season In India

http://www.eurasiareview.com/11052015-this-years-maneuver-season-in-india-oped/
From separate media reports on ‘massive’ exercises in India’s western deserts, we learn that India’s premier ‘strike’ corps, two Corps (Kharga Corps), and a ‘pivot’ corps, 10 Corps (Chetak Corps), are being exercised. Interestingly, media reports that carry mention of the two Corps exercise, ‘Exercise Brahmashira’, make no mention of the other exercise, Exercise Akraman II of 10 Corps, and vice versa.
It would seem that the two are not interconnected. However, this is improbable since the exercises are taking place in the same geographic area, Suratgarh sector. Therefore, it can be plausibly be inferred that a pivot corps and a strike crops are exercising together. What are the implications?
Pivot corps are erstwhile ‘holding’ corps in a defensive role. India’s doctrine, now a decade old, converted these into ‘pivot’ corps, equipping each with an offensive element, termed ‘integrated battle group’. From the name of the pivot corps exercise, Akraman (attack) II, it is likely that the Chetak corps exercise is to practice its integrated battle groups (IBG).
Each of India’s three strike corps is orbited to one of the three geographic commands facing Pakistan. Kharga Corps, under Western Command, is reasonably understood to operate in the developed plains sector in Punjab which Western Command faces. However, strike corps, owing to their inherent mobility, are able to achieve surprise. Therefore, they can be launched across the entire front at any point. In this case, it appears that the Kharga Corps is being put through its paces in the semi-developed terrain opposite South Western Command.
In the doctrine, while the initial offensives are launched by division-sized IBGs of pivot corps and of strike corps formations located closer to the border, the remainder of the strike corps mobilizes in their wake. It can use the areas already captured by IBGs for jump off for battles within enemy territory.
Clearly, in light of possible Pakistani nuclear thresholds, one salient exit point from conflict for both sides is therefore prior to launch of strike corps. Pakistan may be able to countenance shallow thrusts by IBGs along the front with greater equanimity than deeper thrusts that could potentially threaten its vital areas and communication networks in greater depth by strike corps in deep battle.
In this case in the semi-developed sector there is arguably greater space for strike corps operations without flirting inordinately with the proverbial nuclear threshold as would be the case in developed terrain, say, opposite Lahore.
Therefore, if in the current exercise the strike corps is advertised as rehearsing maneuvers that ‘will allow the Army formations to break through multiple obstacles within a restricted time frame’, then the army expects sufficient space for territorial gains and attrition of Pakistani reserves without the nuclear factor intervening. Presumably, this is so in the desert sector further south too, where another strike corps, 21 Corps, is slated to operate under Southern Command.
Pakistan has in its testing of a tactical nuclear weapon hinted at a lower nuclear threshold precisely to stay such operations by India’s strike corps in their tracks. India, for its part, is exhibiting nonchalance by going about an exercise that takes the strike corps across multiple obstacle systems to indicate that it is not self-deterred from using its conventional advantage.
The two states are playing a ‘game of chicken’.
The questionable part is in the doctrine being practiced envisages strike corps operations in depth areas. This does not lend confidence to whether India’s 2004 ‘Cold Start’ doctrine that was revised in 2010 is sufficiently cognizant of the criticism that had greeted its release in 2004. The critique primarily had two points: one is the short time window for crisis response since IBGs were to be launched in short order, and second, that deep operations could trigger nuclear thresholds.
Unlike the 2004 doctrine, the 2010 revised version is not in the open domain. Last heard, a leak at the turn of the decade in late 2009 had it that the 2004 doctrine was under revision in the form of the ‘two front’ doctrine. That it has been thereafter adopted has not been made known in a press release as is the form in India. Can it be that the confidentiality owes to the military neglecting the critique in its revision of doctrine?
If this is the case with revision of the conventional doctrine, it is possible that such doctrinal reticence can also attend India’s nuclear doctrine. Nuclear doctrine revision had found controversial mention last year in the run up to elections. India’s reaching out under Mr. Modi to Japan had resulted in the revision being shelved. However, given the manner the new edition of the conventional doctrine has been kept internal to the military, a shift from declaratory nuclear doctrine of 2003 cannot be ruled out.
Currently, India envisages ‘massive’ nuclear retaliation to any form of nuclear first use by Pakistan. However, if its army formations are practicing maneuvers that could trigger tactical nuclear first use by Pakistan, it is possible that India is prepared with the more appropriate nuclear retaliatory response: proportional retaliation. Deterrence may be tending towards nuclear war-fighting, something India’s nuclear trajectory of delivery vehicles and nuclear ordnance enables.
Had the doctrinal space been less opaque, it would have been easier to substantiate this argument and raise a timely warning. India would do well to revert to doctrinal transparency in order that it benefit from the doctrinal debate that follows. In the nuclear age, how the state intends to defend the nation is a legitimate public query. A reading of the exercises underway does not inspire confidence India is sufficiently mindful of the nuclear overhang.