Fall of the Indian Cold Start Doctrine

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On occasion of national defense day, the Pakistani nation pays homage to their heroes and saviors by remembering the valor and sacrifice of those brave souls who shielded the country against all the odds of aggression. Denying any form of conclusive superiority a five times larger enemy was certainly a military miracle. It was attained by sheer will and proficiency of the young officer’s cadre of Pakistan armed forces; the majority of the high command and political leadership, however, could not live up to the expectation. That is a debate for another day.

Situation in domestic politics of India is quite intriguing. Right wing extremist BJP’s hawkish stance over Pakistan is no secret and it’s now getting even worse. Especially In light of recent so-called ghostly “surgical strikes”, the drum-beaters across the border have yet again started maniacally dancing on the war tunes. Every Indian national news outlet has a dedicated hour of Pakistan bashing almost every day, there one can find rotting Indian military experts and chest thumping anchors contemplating an open invasion of Pakistan, mainly quoting experiences of 1971 or referring American actions of going in Afghanistan. Well, here is a news flash for those morons; this is not 1971, India is not America and Pakistan is not Afghanistan.

In such anti-Pakistan war conferences; mostly the complete quintessence of Indian narrative is based on numerical and to an extent, technological superiority of Indian armed forces over their Pakistani counter parts. In addition, considering these one to one comparison they tend to slide on the slippery slope of their own deception. Indians warmongers should widen their gaze; it feels that they seriously underestimate the gravity of impending events if India ever dare to cross Chanab this time around. If it ever occur, it will change the fate of the region. One has to partly agree with the all the available data, numbers, figures and rationale presented in daily news room by Indian journos and Generals offering war theories and dreaming about invading Pakistan but still beneath their masks of logic, there is an evident sense of fragility, that even worries them. Mere numerical or technological comparison between two potential belligerents to achieve a logical conclusion is just scratching the surface.

By the look of it, it seems that odds are overwhelmingly against Pakistan, giving that awkward feeling of David vs Goliath (remember what happened with Goliath). Pakistan’s military doctrine is offensive defense and solely India specific, it primarily revolves around single, clear, core strategic objective i.e. deny India any decisive dominance in any conventional standoff while banking on maintaining minimum credible nuclear deterrence to keep MAD (mutually assured destruction) hypothesis relevant (considering the possibility that if Pakistan’s conventional threshold gets breached). Just like, it used to be in old times of cold war.

Let us run the scenario, hypothetically, in outset of a false flag terrorist attack in India will trigger the military confrontation, considering the scenario, it will be India who would initiate an open war. Current military dogma Indians are perpetrating to tackle their Pakistani problem is the cold start which according to definition supposed to be a short, quick and punitive strike on Pakistan using integrated battle groups. More specifically, this military doctrine initially calls for up to eight independent armored brigades to penetrate up to 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) into Pakistan without crossing Pakistan’s nuclear thresholds. It is interesting to recall the origin of this doctrine. Cold Start is the direct outcome of the failure of India’s protracted mobilization and deployment along the border in the 2001–2002 crisis and the loss of strategic surprise in both the 2001–2002 and the 2008 crises.

On papers, cold Start is intended to allow India’s conventional forces to perform holding attacks from Pakistan’s eastern borders, using IAF’s close air support as cover emphasizing to conduct a swift strike in order to prevent a nuclear retaliation from Pakistan while attempt to draw a victory march from east to west dividing the Pakistan north to south (see the map) I wager, the moment first Indian soldier ventures across plains of Chanab or Deserts of Thar, 22 forward Indian air bases will get blown to hell by Pakistani cruise missiles and soon IAF will be operating from Assam. In addition, considering PAF’s exercises and acquisitions these days, they do not seem to be in mood to do too much of the bombing runs this time around, as they did back in 65 and 71. PAF is training to deny IAF air superiority over battlefield and perhaps will conduct a sneak attack or two into India just to make a point for the history books. IAF’s forward bases are in clear line of sight of Pakistani missiles so there will be minimal attack missions by PAF as Ababeels will bring the rain.

What about marching Indian IBGs? Pakistan’s prime counter measure to neutralize cold start is the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons which are to be carried by BRBM Vengeance IX aka Nasar. A low yield tactical device to mimic a hellfire inferno for the so-called marching integrated battle groups. All of what remain will be posted to Delhi. Now in middle of a war, initiated by India when cold start has been served cold what is the residual viable options left for India? A 50 kilo-ton nuclear strike on Pakistan? Who will take this decision in Delhi knowing that Pakistan has second and third strike capability?

It seem much awaiting Cold start doctrine has been proven to be too little too late. Prognosis: Cold Start has fallen.  Beside, Indians jingoes are missing the point, there is no throne waiting for them, there is no victory, there is no Akhand Bharat, there is absolutely no version of this where they come out on top. Maybe their armies come and maybe they are too much for us but in the end, it is all on them. Because if we cannot protect what is worth then they can be damn well sure we will avenge it. So Mr. Arnab Goswami if you still want to play this game than you should better batten down the hatches and start anticipating the response you are going to get because when it will hit; that will be the last sane thought in your heads.

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Ahsan Malik is an IT professional with a passionate & candid version of his own on national and international issues relating to Pakistan, he tweets @MohdAhsanMalik and can be reached at [email protected]

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