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Thread: #India rejigs plans for conflict with #Pakistan, #China - Greater mobility and firepower are key to India’s war fighting capabilities against its traditional rivals 👍 Excellent analysis 👍  asiatimes.com/2019/06/articl…
India is undertaking major military reforms to enhance its capability to fight possible wars with Pakistan & China as PM Modi settles into his 2nd term. The reforms are redrawing military concepts & junking plans that prevailed for over 80 years in slow to reform institutions.
They are also moving forces up much closer to the front lines for quicker mobilization. Previously, this used to happen only when war was imminent.
Over the last 4 years, key army units that are part of India’s 3 Strike Corps – I Corps, II Corps & XXI Corps – have moved closer to Pakistani & Chinese borders. Meanwhile, the effects of these changes on the current rank structure & morale are being examined.
India inherited its military structures from the colonial British, policies initially created to keep the natives in check. But the two world wars changed how the British Empire looked at its colonies.
Indian military planners knew their age-old plans & formations for war had been rendered useless & it was time to make new plans. In 2004, the Indian Army came up with a new war plan called the “Cold Start Doctrine.” However, the same colonial structures remained untouched.
“We found that mobilizing our Strike Corps was taking inordinately long. The Indian Army’s fighting strategy depended on two key formations, the Strike Corps and the Pivot Corps. While it had three Strike Corps targeting Pakistan, it was building one for China.
The aim of Strike Corps was to use all mechanized forces for a rapid thrust into Pakistan vulnerable areas & exploit its lack of depth. The Pivot Corps were defensive formations that can turn around & launch offensive operations once the strike formations established dominance.
However, this became obsolete as Pakistanis & Chinese also changed. “Cold Start was a vague term. We knew any military operation was unlikely to last long due to international pressure,” said General KJ Singh, an armored corps officer who rose to head India’s Western Army Command
“Therefore, we had to fall back on the concept of SNIPE – Short Notice Intense Proactive Escalatory operations. The fighting elements of our Strike Corps were too far behind the front lines, and they were too large to mobilize without being noticed. This needed to change.”
India is now moving towards Integrated Battle Groups, much smaller than the Corps but carry nearly as much firepower. Its taking key elements of offensive operations from its Strike Corps, while also dipping into the Pivot Corps.
This meant freeing up a lot of “captive” offensive capabilities to combine them for optimum use. “We realized that Pivot Corps had significant reserves of armor & infantry. So we can have 8-10 independent battle groups in a situation where we only had one Strike Corp” Hooda said.
In part, the strategy is drawn from a similar experiment carried out by the US military in the war with Iraq in 2001. It created the Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which was a combination of highly mobile infantry & armor to carry out a range of operations across different theaters
They could mobilize and deploy quickly, but also carry enough firepower to punch above their weight. “All over the world armies are changing. The Americans, the Russians and even the Chinese have done it,” Hooda explained.
Importantly, Pakistan began to shore up its doctrines to counter a “Cold Start” Indian offensive. It began to convert its Mujahid battalions to regular troops last year, while also introduced the Nasr missile, with a nuclear warhead that could be used against mobile formations.
Regarding China, the traditional strategy in India for decades was that size would be the main factor. By 2012, India was all set to raise a Strike Corps for offensives against China. “The idea was that we need a ratio of 9:1 superiority to tackle any adversary in the mountains.
But the costs & challenges of maintaining such a massive force with a chronic resource crunch made that impossible. At that time when cabinet sanctions came for 17 Corps, framed as a Strike Corps against China, we planned for three army divisions (about 12,000 personnel).
But the funds never came so we started the new formations with existing war reserves. But as the Northern Army commander I couldn’t spare any, because all my troops were engaged in active operations in Kashmir and on the borders,” Hooda said.
These practical problems & lack of funds forced the army to drop 2 of the planned 3 divisions. Today, 17 Corps has 1 division that is being converted into independent battle groups. Unlike in the past, all major strike formations have been moved forward to their operational areas
This has greatly reduced the time needed to mobilize existing formations from a month to days. However, the size and orientation of the formations were unchanged until the latest exercise began. Many generals also raised doubts about a Corps commander managing too many.......
...... independent battle groups at a time. “This needs to be addressed from a command & control perspective,” another serving senior general said. “But we still need to work on strategies that will be decisive and will prove to be a deterrent.”
Finally, while China has the whole India border under 1 military command, India has 4 army commands & a separate airforce command dealing with the Chinese border. “This is chaotic & frankly, leads to massive issues. In fact, we are not even sitting with the Indian Air Force......
..... in the same location. At best, India’s 2 army commands, Northern & Eastern, should cover the Chinese border, instead of the current 4. The Air Force should move its Eastern Command & co-locate it with the army’s Eastern Command. Right now they are in different states.”
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