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Abhijnan Rej @AbhijnanRej
, 21 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Following @NarangVipin’s excellent ‘discovery’ of a new article by former SFC commander BS Nagal, I got myself a copy. This is the clearest manifesto by far for a new Indian nuclear startegy by a senior fmr official. Following is a thread on the key pts along with a few comments.
1/ The article is in a new (2019) volume — “Military Strategy for India in the 21st Century” — published though the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (an MoD sponsored think-tank), ed. Lt. Gen. AK Singh And Nagal. All but two of the articles in that volume are by ex-mil people.
2/ (p. 197) Assertion: credible min deterrence (CMD) “does not relate, or amount to” MAD. Implication: Is CMD more compatible with flexible response?
3/ (p. 198 as well as p. 217) Asserts that ambiguity is “an important determinant of deterrence.” Recommends that IND does not state position on nuclear weapons use. This is eerily familiar. Fmr def min in the current gov also said this: financialexpress.com/india-news/man…
4/ (p. 201) India’s NFU posture is tied both to the size of the adversary’s arsenal as well as ability to absorb first use. Implication: posture will change as adversary (esp. PAK) arsenal size grows and/or perceived IND vulnerability to a nuke strike. First is already happening.
5/ (p. 202) First strike (no pun intended): NFU prevents counterforce first strike. MUCH more about this later.
6/ (p. 203) PRC is the main threat to India, and follows up with a long description of PRC capabilities. But the main argument (later) is that PAK will force a rethinking of IND nuke strat. Problem with having two distinct ‘effective’ doctrines (for PAK and PRC) not addresssed.
7/ (p. 205) Complete disbelief in PRC NFU. Which is just as well given the amount of caveats Beijing insists on sticking to it. BUT, sentiments reciprocal, I am told by knowledgable folks.
8/ (p. 207) PRC conventional precision strike capabilities against nuclear C2 and assets should be factored in Indian “countermeasures”. Again (by implication), anxiety about IND second-strike capabilities.
9/ (p. 211) PAK nuke behaviour “irresponsible” and “symptomatic of brinksmanship”. While agreeing with the first, don’t see much evidence of “brinksmanship” (in the classical sense) — even during Kargil. Words have meaning, folks!
10/ (p. 212) If PAK was to have an operational nuke-weapon capable sub, then its (sea-based, presumably) nukes cant remain demated. Q: What about IND and SSBN INS Arihant? Was the recent Arihant deterrence patrol with *mated* K15 missiles? indiatoday.in/india/story/in…
11/ (p. 216) NFU may contribute to stability in peacetime crisis but not in war. Implication: different doctrines? Reminds me (imprecisely!) of a reexamination of Snyder’s det/def argument. So, NFU in peace but all bets off when kinetic action starts? nationalinterest.org/feature/could-…
12/ (p. 217) An “ambiguity” posture includes NFU, preemption, LOW, LOL. I have argued that ambiguity is built into IND’s extant (NFU) doctrine — and is good: warontherocks.com/2017/03/india-… For pushback, see warontherocks.com/2017/04/the-de…
13/ (p. 217, contd.) Recommended IND first-use posture as a safeguard for IND strategic forces. Implication: Is Nagal worried about survivability of (retaliatory) IND nuke forces in event of adversary first-strike?
14/ (p. 217, contd., imp page!) Need to change CMD to *credible deterrence*. Funny story, that: dhqxnzzajv69c.cloudfront.net/wp-content/upl… (pp. 20-24). Thanks, @shashj for writing this with me and @nktpnd for pointing this out in the first place. And then they say Twitter is useless :)
15/ (p. 218) Piece-de-resistance (@NarangVipin’s tweet yesterday): NFU to CF posture dictated by an “unstable” and “unpredictable” enemy (also known as PAK). But, again, what about PRC and the dilemmas of *two* effective doctrines?
16/ (pp. 218–219) Recommends ‘extended’ triad following an (old) US Nuclear Posture Review — which includes infrastructure in sensors, C2, comms, data processors, etc. Hmm... reminds me of the following piece: thewire.in/security/nscs-…
17/ (p. 220) India should have MIRVs. This has broad resonance: see Basrur and Sankaran’s contribution to the 2016 Stimson report: stimson.org/sites/default/…
18/ (p. 221) IND nuke strategy should have hypersonics. So how far *are* we from that? Some bragging... economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/b…
19/ Thus ends Nagal’s paper. Main issue is: capabilities? While we wait for Vipin’s and @clary_co’s IS article, here is my fav pessimistic piece by @RRajagopalanJNU: orfonline.org/expert-speak/i…
20/ And thanks for reading this tweet storm... apologies for all the typos, including misspelling “strategy” as “startegy” in the very first tweet...which is just as well since the debate on IND nuke strategy is just starting <END>
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