New Delhi – The Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag told me the other day that the existing Indian ‘Army Doctrine’ is a 2010 publication that needs a fresh look. According to him, the review process is underway and views are being taken from all key stakeholders. It may be noted here that the Indian Army doctrine is structured as a two-part document – the main part contains subjects for widespread dissemination in the Army and outside, but the second part is the classified adjunct to it and is intended for very restricted circulation. This main part or “part one” is reviewed every five years and updated, as necessary. The doctrine is supposed to be re-issued every ten years.
Given the fact that the doctrine as available today in open domains is dated October 22, 2004, what General Suhag implies is that the 2010 doctrine was strictly a review, articulated well by the then Army Chief Deepak Kapoor in end-December 2009. In that sense, the new Army doctrine was supposed to have come out in 2014. In other words, the doctrine is already overdue. Let us hope that it comes out sooner rather than later.
Ideally, a doctrine is a vision that identifies challenges and accordingly suggests how to face them by augmenting existing strengths, developing new skills, and attempting innovative approaches in structures, arms and training to cope with the emerging environment. So, what has changed in the last six years, since the review as articulated by General Kapoor in 2009? It may be noted here that five major features in General Kapoor’s review were particularly noteworthy:
- India has to deal with the eventuality of a two-front war simultaneously in future. The two fronts, it is obvious, are Pakistan on the western border and China on the northern border.
- India has to counter military and non-military facets of asymmetric and sub-conventional threats. The emphasis was all the more here because of the growing realisation that both Pakistan and China can be expected to use these instruments as force multipliers; these threats can also slow down India’s intense fast-paced operations both in forward and rear areas.
- India must enhance its ‘strategic reach’ and out of area contingencies (OOAC) readiness to protect its interests from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Strait. The point here is the enhancement of India’s capabilities, both as a regional power and a global power.
- There needs to be better operational synergy among the three Services of the country. This is extremely important as the future military operations are going to be short and swift, and that too against adversaries that are nuclear powers. In other words, the Indian military operations to neutralise the Chinese and Pakistani threats has to be fast paced, facilitated by a high degree of synergy between the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.
- The country must achieve a technological edge over adversaries. This encompasses the entire spectrum of “Network-Centric warfare, Information Warfare and Cyber Warfare”. The idea here is to integrate them all to facilitate speedy decision- making and explore tactical opportunities against the adversaries.
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