India's Doctrine Puzzle: Limiting War in South Asia 9781138019706, 9781315733968

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Table of contents :
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
1. Puzzling Over Doctrine
2. The Limited War Concept
3. Doctrinal Change
4. The Structural Factor
5. The Political Factor
6. The Organisational Factor
7. The Puzzle Resolved?
About the Author
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Ali Ahmed has analysed the drivers and consequences of the operational concepts which have evolved — and are still evolving — after the experience of the Kargil conflict. He makes a bold attempt to look into the operational future . . . Ahmed’s fascinating study will form a useful input for military, strategic and political elites in coming to decisions in future. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) V. R. Raghavan, President, Centre for Security Analysis, Chennai and Advisor, Delhi Policy Group, New Delhi





Routledge Taylor & Francis Group



First published 2014 in India by Routledge 912 Tolstoy House, 15–17 Tolstoy Marg, Connaught Place, New Delhi 110 001

Simultaneously published in the UK by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

© 2014 Ali Ahmed

Typeset by Solution Graphics A–14, Indira Puri, Loni Road Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh 201 102

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-138-01970-6


For Farah and Faiz



Contents Abbreviations Foreword by Lt. Gen. (Retd.) V. R. Raghavan Preface Acknowledgements 1. Puzzling Over Doctrine

ix xiii xv xix 1

2. The Limited War Concept


3. Doctrinal Change


4. The Structural Factor


5. The Political Factor


6. The Organisational Factor


7. The Puzzle Resolved?


Bibliography About the Author Index

210 232 233




Afghanistan–Pakistan Armed Forces Special Powers Act Actual Ground Position Line Andaman and Nicobar Command Army Reserve North Army Reserve South Army Training Command Army War College Bharatiya Janata Party Chief of Air Staff Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs Cabinet Committee on Security College of Defence Management Chief of Defence Staff Ceasefire Line Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee Chief of Naval Staff Chief of Army Staff Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Ditch cum Bundh Defence Intelligence Agency Doctrines, Operations and Training Branch Defence Planning Staff Defence Research and Development Organisation Defence Services Staff College Field Manual Gross Domestic Product Government of India Group of Ministers Global War on Terror Higher Command Wing Headquarters Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff Indian Air Force



International Border Integrated Battle Groups Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses Integrated Headquarters International Institute of Strategic Studies Indian Ocean Region Indian Peace Keeping Force Inter Services Intelligence India Today Bureau Jammu and Kashmir Kargil Review Committee Line of Control Light Combat Aircraft Low Intensity Conflict Lieutenant General Mutual Assured Destruction Major General Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft Ministry of Defence North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Nuclear Command Authority National Democratic Alliance National Defence College North Eastern Frontier Agency No First Use National Security Advisor National Security Advisory Board Operational Maneuver Groups Press Information Bureau Pakistan Occupied Kashmir Press Trust of India Research and Development Research and Development Corporation Reorganised Plains Infantry Division Revolution in Military Affairs Reorganised Objective Army Division Rashtriya Rifles South Asia Terrorism Portal Special Forces



Strategic Forces Command Training and Doctrine Command United Nations UN Security Council United Progressive Alliance United States of America United Services Institution of India Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Vice Chief of Army Staff




Foreword N

uclear weapons generate a voluminous output of books, research papers and estimates of their impact on national, regional and international security. The nuclearisation of India and Pakistan have had a similar impact with strategic analysts the world over trying to assess the future use, misuse or abuse of these strategic assets by the two countries. India published its Nuclear Doctrine not long after acquiring nuclear weapons. While the doctrine was not specifically directed against Pakistan, it also left no one in doubt about the immediacy of Indian planners’ strategic concerns of a future with nuclear weapons. Since China had committed itself to a No First Use (NFU) policy, India’s nuclear doctrine was a clear enough statement on how it would respond to a nuclear weapons exchange on the Indian Sub Continent. While nuclear weapons are unambiguously viewed by India as strategic assets, their operational use as war fighting instruments have been ruled out. Their use is predicated on another country using nuclear weapons against India. The longstanding India–Pakistan confrontation turned into military conflicts after Pakistan linked terrorist attacks in India. The intrusion into Kargil and the attack on Indian Parliament created the possibility of a conventional large scale military conflict, which ran the serious risk of turning into a nuclear standoff. Indian military planners adapted to this experience to evolved responses in the operational domain, to offset conditions created by the presence of nuclear weapons, albeit as strategic assets. India and Pakistan have been in a state of confrontation since 1947. On occasions when the confrontation turned into a military conflict, the purpose of operations was more to force a change of outlook amongst Pakistan’s leadership than the destruction of that state. Military operations were thus limited both in the objectives to be attained and the scope and intensity of force to be applied. Nuclear weapons changed the old premise into one of placing further limits on operational thresholds which can and cannot be crossed. Ali Ahmed has analysed the drivers and consequences of the operational concepts which have evolved — and are still evolving —


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

after the experience of the Kargil conflict. He makes a bold attempt to look into the operational future with his experience of the past and the perspective of the present. The issue of operational choices had not been so specifically addressed earlier. Most western writings have laboured on the risks of India and Pakistan inadvertently getting into a nuclear exchange and of ways to prevent that happening. The book shows up the operational dilemmas which emerge in the wake of nuclear weapons. Ahmed’s fascinating study will form a useful input for military, strategic and political elites in coming to decisions in future. The book offers a window into the threat perceptions, the organisational culture and politico-military processes, by which conceptual concepts are evolved in the Indian context. The book is also proof of the lively discourse that is part of the Indian strategic scene. February 2013

Lt. Gen. (Retd.) V. R. Raghavan Chennai


Preface T

he genesis of this book was atop a canal obstacle somewhere in the western sector in 2006. I was then commanding an infantry battalion that was deployed as exercise enemy, or the Nark force, in a corps exercise meant to put to a strike corps through its paces. The exercise ‘enemy’, Swarg’s strike corps, chose that stretch of the canal as site of its break-in battle. It was fore-ordained that they were to break out by first light, for if they were still in their bridgeheads then they would be ideal targets for an enemy air attack or worse, anuclear strike. According to the exercise umpire’s timetable, my unit was to be cut to pieces in a heavy breakthrough within three hours. I did not have much to do thereafter since I was presumed exercise dead or prisoner. I was able to witness the proceedings over the remainder of the exercise as a bystander. The exercise timings were truncated to depict the first week to ten days of the mock war. The strike corps ended up in its ‘projection areas’ across multiple obstacles true to plan. The final touch was capture of an airfield deep in enemy territory by paratroops. Presumably, the strike corps would be provisioned via an air bridge for subsequent operations further in enemy interiors. I wondered as to what a nuclear armed enemy would make of all this. This prompted a question in my mind: Why has India gone in for an offensive conventional doctrine despite nuclearisation? Ideally, the investment in nuclearisation should have made India ‘feel’ secure, if not ‘secure’ itself. The ‘bomb’ had been much advertised by its votaries as a ‘weapon of peace’. Their argument was that it would enable India to sit down and talk with its adversaries. Instead, Pakistan launched Operation Badr in Kargil within a year of both states, India and Pakistan, going nuclear. Soon thereafter was the Kandahar hijack. Later, the proverbial Indian ‘threshold of tolerance’ was sorely tested with a dastardly terror attack on the Srinagar legislative assembly and soon thereafter on Parliament in 2001. The popular narrative has it that a defensive and reactive India was caught flat footed. Consequently, in the wake of Operation Parakram it was forced to move towards a military doctrine



reportedly more ‘proactive’, colloquially dubbed ‘Cold Start’. The exercise that I participated in was intended to practice and perfect the doctrine. A counter-factual can be hazarded. Had terror attacks continued even as India forged a responsive doctrine, it is well nigh possible that the two states would have been at war sooner than later. It is therefore propitious that 9/11 had intervened at the precise moment that provocative terror attacks culminated. With the superpower, the United States of America (US), in the region, the trajectory towards war subsided. However, the Mumbai attacks of 26/11 demonstrated that the potential for war remains. Since nuclear weapons are around, so is the potential for a nuclear war. In effect, security remains imperilled, despite, and to some extent because of nuclear weapons. Why is this so? How much do military doctrines have to do with security and creating conditions of insecurity? To me the offensive military doctrine embarked on by India was contributing to its insecurity, while indeed the opposite should have been the case. My research focused on what impels doctrines. Are these in response to threat perceptions? Do these originate in the body politic of the state? Or are these due to organisational compulsions? But, first I needed to demonstrate that there has indeed been a change in India’s military doctrine to an offensive one. Second, I was to try and locate where the impetus to this lay — in strategic compulsions, or in strategic culture or in institutional interest? I set about trying to answer such questions in my doctoral dissertation after retiring prematurely from the army. I was able to listen in to the debates within the Delhi-based strategic community. This book is resonant with thoughts heard and read, expressed by many well-intentioned and knowledgeable experts. Yet, my doubts persist which led me to write this book. My answer has been laid out in the book as follows. In the first chapter, I trace the movement in India’s strategic posture and in its military doctrine since the 1971 War. I believe that while earlier India settled for defensive deterrence, it has lately moved towards offensive deterrence. I venture further to suggest that this borders on compellence. Military doctrine has broadly kept pace, moving from being a defensive one to one advertised as proactive and offensive. The chapter also carries a description of the Limited War doctrine and discusses the conventional–nuclear interface. Thereafter, the book attempts to answer the questions that



I posed earlier, with successive chapters trying to locate the drivers of conventional doctrine at the three levels of analysis — structural, unit (state) and organisational. That leave one last level — the individual level — which while being consequential, I have left out since the Cold Start doctrine appears to have many claimants for ownership. Since military records are subject to a stringent information regime, the study is largely based on information available in the open domain. Fortunately for me, a veritable intellectual cottage industry grew around Cold Start, not only due to increased interest in but also due to increased strategic foreboding over the last decade. So, was the doctrine a deliberate reaction to the strategic circumstance faced by India over the turn of the century? The well-known ‘realist theory’ provided the theoretical backdrop to examine the doctrine impulse at the structural level. According to realist theory, the anarchical international system prompts self-help on part of the stateswho attempt to create and leverage power against threats in the environment through internal and external balancing. Since military capability is a significant element of national power, it is harnessed by formulating a doctrine. Therefore, doctrine formulation is a form of internal balancing by the states. Since doctrine lends coherence to military power, it is a way to enhance power in general. However, realism looks at the system, noting the threats at the structural level and the responses. But responses are from within the state, making it necessary to look at the ‘unit’ level or at the state. At the unit level, cultural theory is available as a theoretical lens. While there is imbalance of power between states in a system, how states view this imbalance, threat or otherwise, is dependent on their strategic culture. The interpretation of this imbalance is as significant as the imbalance itself. Domestic politics matters to how a state views its external domain. How states make sense of the world, how the other state’s actions are interpreted and what states wish to do with the military instrument, depends on the events in its domestic sphere. This is at variance with realists who believe that states essentially react likewise to similar circumstance. Cultural theory has it that such response is a product of culture at three levels — political, strategic and organisational; the first being agenda setting. In turn, the impact of strategic or political–military culture on doctrine is mediated by organisational culture.



A look at organisational culture necessitates ‘looking into the box’ at the next lower level — that of organisations that make up states which in this case is the military. There are three theoretical models dealing with organisational behaviour. The first is the rational actor model involving reasoned responses to external stimuli. The other two are organisational process and the bureaucratic politics models. The organisational process model posits that doctrine, being a mandate of the military, is an output of the military as part of discharging its social obligation of providing security for the state and people. Since the military has this social obligation, it acquires institutional interests to help fulfil these. As often as not, institutional interests acquire a life of their own, ending up as pathologies. The third — the bureaucratic politics model — helps us to understand how organisations behave in relation to each other. Since the military is not a monolith, the doctrinal sphere becomes a battle space for bureaucratic competition while doctrine becomes a service weapon against the institutional interests of other services in the bureaucratic game. My finding is that the nuclear conundrum has not been coped with adequately. The more insecure nuclear weapons make us, the more secure we apparently are. This understanding is dangerous in the extreme. If there is to be peace, then there has to be a mutually agreed stowing away of nuclear weapons. The book concludes by suggesting a strategic dialogue towards this end. This can result in appreciating that the subcontinent is really a single strategic space crying out for a shared security approach. Deterrence being a false god, this is the only way to preserve us all from its inevitable breakdown.


Acknowledgements India’s Doctrine Puzzle: Limiting War in South Asia is based on my doctoral dissertation entitled ‘India’s Limited War Doctrine: Structural, Political and Organisational Factors’. I take this opportunity to thank the Center for International Politics, Organisation and Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, for permission to publish the book. I thank the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, for permission to undertake the doctorate alongside my work at the Institute and to draw on material in my earlier monographs at the Institute for this book. The book has drawn on the work of members of the strategic community. I thank all those who took the trouble to read through some parts of the work, some of whom being in uniform cannot be named. Foremost, I must acknowledge the deft stewardship of my supervisor, Professor Rajesh Rajagopalan. The strengths of the book owe to him. I must add that the responsibility for the shortcomings in the book is entirely mine. I thank the staff of the libraries at the IDSA and the United Services Institution of India, New Delhi. Thanks to Radha Joshi for making the text readable and the editorial team at Routledge India for their perseverance with the manuscript. Foremost, I must pay homage to former President, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma; my National Defence Academy teacher, P. R. Patra; and to late Major General S. C. Sinha. I am grateful to Major General D. Banerjee and Professor Kanti Bajpai for the encouragement of my academic pursuits. I thank my former military colleagues, especially my first company commander, then Major C. P. Muthanna, and former commanding officers for developing my interest in the ‘opening narrative’ of the ‘whites’. I am grateful to Lt. Gen. V. R. Raghavan for his Foreword. There are several members of the uniformed fraternity and the strategic and academic communities to whom I owe more than an intellectual debt. It is at the home of my parents, particularly in Kashmir and in retirement that my fascination for matters at the intersection of politics and the military spheres developed. My family has tolerated my preoccupation, hoping perhaps that some good may come out of it. I hope the book proves a blow for the sake of peace.



1 Puzzling Over Doctrine

Much Ado Over Doctrine There has been a rich doctrinal harvest in India over the past two decades. In 1995, the air doctrine began the trend, no doubt energised by the air campaign by the West during Gulf War I. The doctrines of the largest service, the Army, and of the silent service, the Navy, were published back-to-back just about a decade later in 2004. The Navy’s doctrine, into its second edition, encompasses the ‘maritime’ spectrum, as against restricting itself to merely the naval dimension of the seas. The Navy has additionally spelt out a Vision and a Strategy document. The Army’s first attempt at preparation of a doctrine concluded in the publication of the document in 1998. However, its 2004 doctrine document has attracted much attention and also some controversy. Even as conventional warfare domain witnessed this intellectual effervescence (Oberoi 2006), the nuclear domain was not far behind. The Draft Nuclear Doctrine of 1999 was followed by its adoption with a few changes in the 2003. This book concerns itself with this doctrinal tumult but primarily concentrates on the army’s doctrine, Indian Army Doctrine (ARTRAC 2004), popularly referred to as ‘Cold Start’. In the wake of the Kargil War, India developed a conventional doctrine. The doctrine sets out to inform thinking and conduct of conventional war. However, embedded are tenets of Limited War and therefore it can be taken as a Limited War doctrine. The understanding is that whether a war is ‘Limited’ or ‘Total’ would depend on political aims set at the outset of the conflict and their strategic and operational translation. Since political aims can reasonably only be limited in the nuclear age, the doctrine can be taken as a Limited War doctrine. The doctrine has evolved from preceding military developments going back over four decades. India’s earlier doctrine in the


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

post-1971 War period was based on a counter-offensive capability. While unpublished and unselfconscious as a ‘doctrine’, it is widely taken as having been a defensive one. Organisational and doctrinal innovations in the eighties served to enhance the offensive content of this doctrine. Initially, changes were prompted by the necessity to pursue conventional operations under conditions of perceived nuclear asymmetry. This took the form of mechanisation, deemed as more suited to a nuclear battlefield. The doctrine was one of conventional deterrence comprising a dissuasive capability (deterrence by denial) along with a counter-offensive capability (deterrence by punishment). In the light of Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear capability by the late 1980s, the counter-offensive capability embodied by strike corps operations became problematic. Pakistan capitalised on this to enhance its sub-conventional provocations. This is referred to in the literature as the ‘stability/instability paradox’, implying that the nuclear dangers that attended conventional war enabled the practice of subconventional war by proxy. Consequently, India was forced, among other reasons, to adapt its offensive capability to bring its conventional edge back into the reckoning. The process was energised by the nuclear break-out by India and Pakistan in 1998. This has resulted in an offensive conventional posture, with the so-called Cold Start doctrine envisaging Limited War in a nuclear backdrop (Kapoor 2010: 3). The idea is to reinforce conventional deterrence, and, in case that is found wanting, then to be in a position to execute coercion or compellence as required. While deterrence is to prevent Pakistan from indulging in and heightening proxy war, coercion would be to force it to stop. Compellence on the other hand would go a step further to push Pakistan into dismantling terror infrastructure, failing which India would proceed to do so by force. Doctrinal development has also been driven by the military experiences since the mid-1980s. The period witnessed the crises of ‘Brasstacks’ crisis of 1987 and the ‘crisis that was not a crisis’ in 1990 and the peace enforcement operation in Sri Lanka. Internal conflict in Kashmir reached a climax with the Kargil War of 1999. Pakistan’s proxy war culminated in the Parliament attack of 2001 that prompted Indian coercive diplomacy in the form of Operation Parakram in 2001–02. Moreover, conflicts in the Gulf in 1991 and 2003 and the post-9/11 Operation Enduring Freedom, which showcased the revolutionary changes in the character of conventional war,

Puzzling Over Doctrine


influenced strategic thinking within India. Organisational changes and equipment acquisitions prompted by the specific Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) have accelerated in this period. Cumulatively, these have led to considerable doctrinal evolution. However, it was overt nuclearisation in the subcontinent that has had the most profound effect and made conflict limitation an overriding imperative which found expression in the Cold Start doctrine. The Cold Start doctrine, in a nutshell, countenances a quick mobilisation followed by multiple offensives across a wide front. What remains a puzzle is that this change towards the offensive has occurred despite overt nuclearisation in South Asia dating to May 1998. In the light of the new nuclear reality, the expectation is that there should have been an emphasis on war avoidance. This is challenged by the enhanced offensive content in military doctrine. The logic is presumably that a greater readiness to go on the offensive will deter war. Admittedly, the doctrine caters for the changed nuclear reality by envisaging that military advances would be limited. This study examines the nuclear dangers that attend such limitations. Escalatory possibilities give rise to the questioning of the doctrine and consequently the reasoning and process of its arrival.

The Doctrine ‘Puzzle’ In the nuclear age, the popular understanding is that the principal purpose of the military is no longer to win wars but to avert them (Brodie 1946: 76). Kenneth Waltz had stated the implications of the nuclear age as: ‘In the age of hydrogen bombs, no single issue may be worth the risk of full-scale war. Settlement, even on bad grounds, is preferable to self-destruction. The use of reason would seem to require the adoption of a doctrine of ‘non-recourse to force’ (Waltz 1959: 234). That the change in conventional doctrine in India is neglectful of this is contrary to the logical expectation. Secondly, India is a status quoist and the stronger power in the regional India– Pakistan dyad. This should have logically led to a defensive doctrine since India only has a defensive aim, rather than an expansionist one to be delivered by an offensive doctrine. Thus, the offensive posture, as evidenced by Cold Start, appears contrary to the general understanding and on that account could bear investigation. Explanation in terms of rationale for the change and possible impact on security is called for. The book attempts this by a study of the development


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

of military doctrine in India since the 1971 War in general and over the last decade in particular. An offensive and proactive capability that underscores the new war doctrine suggests a readiness to go to war, and, further, possibly more dangerously, to take the war to the enemy. The conventional doctrine and the nuclear doctrine combined go beyond deterrence, to potentially bordering on compellence. The nuclear doctrine posits ‘massive’ punitive retaliation in its 2003 formulation by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). This expansive formulation, it would appear, is designed for heightening the deterrent effect and influencing Pakistani nuclear thresholds upwards. This would then enable application of India’s conventional advantages in case of sub-conventional provocations that have increased since overt nuclearisation. This is a departure from the understanding that nuclearisation would help in building greater regional and national security. Pakistan’s offensive posture at the sub-conventional level and India’s consequent offensive orientation at the conventional level, leads to a heightening of nuclear dangers. The nuclear backdrop serves as a reminder that escalation could occur, either by accident or by design. The logic for going nuclear was that it would be possible to resolve outstanding disputes from a position of strength and parity. This promise has apparently been belied in the events since the back-to-back Pokhran and Chagai nuclear tests of May 1998. Instead, relations with Pakistan have witnessed the Kargil War; one ‘near war’ situation in 2001–02; and a crisis, the Mumbai 26/11 terror attack in late 2008. Under these conditions, to have a war doctrine predicated on quick, proactive offensive operations appears dangerous. This offensive bias therefore needs to be explained. The book attempts to examine the impetus for doctrinal change in conventional doctrine. Though the official doctrine does not overtly discuss Limited War, limitation has been brought about by the need to avoid triggering the envisaged nuclear thresholds of Pakistan. These thresholds are generally taken along four dimensions — military attrition, territorial losses, economic viability, and internal stability. Concerted offensive action by the Indian military would simultaneously nudge all four thresholds, directly and indirectly. The cumulative physical and psychological impact could unhinge and lower the nuclear retaliation threshold. To obviate a deterrence breakdown, India’s

Puzzling Over Doctrine


nuclear deterrence is based on Assured Retaliation, with the proviso that such reactions could well be of higher order or at ‘massive’ levels. It would appear that the promise of ‘unacceptable damage’ is to heighten the adversary’s nuclear threshold in order to provide space for the offensive posture. This amounts to India adapting the nuclear deterrence concept to its strategic purpose and regional circumstance. India believes nuclear weapons ‘deter nuclear weapons and not war’. Thus, there appears scope for war, albeit a Limited War. Nevertheless, learning and reflection have contributed to a move away from Limited War towards the end of the last decade. This recent scepticism towards Cold Start indicates that there has finally been an intellectual adaptation to the imperatives of the nuclear age.

Answering the Puzzle The chief purpose of military establishments in the nuclear era is to avert wars. Given this as ‘common sense’ and India being a status quo power with a relative power advantage, the expectation from India after nuclearisation would have been for continuation of its conventional doctrine of defensive deterrence. The movement has however been towards potentially offensive strategic posture and doctrine. This book tries to answer the key question — What accounts for the change to an offensive conventional doctrine? The answer can be discerned at three separate ‘levels of analysis’ — systemic level, ‘unit’ or state level and that of the individual decisionmaker (Jackson and Sorensen 2010: 230–40) with the last one substituted in this book by the organisational level. Adopting this approach to strategic analysis, the book attempts to find the impulse for doctrinal change in India at the three levels. The study follows the inductive approach, seeking illumination from pre-existing theories at each of these levels of analysis and their application on the case study of doctrine generation in India. Kenneth Waltz had identified the three levels, terming them ‘images’, as: One may seek in political philosophy answers to the question: Where are the major causes of war to be found? The answers are bewildering in their variety and in their contradictory qualities. To make this variety manageable, the answers can be ordered under the following three headings: within man, within the structure of the separate states, within the state system . . . These estimates of cause will subsequently


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

be referred to as images of international relations, numbered in order given, with each image defined according to where one locates the nexus of important causes (Waltz 1959: 12).

At the structural level, the regional security situation has im-pacted India’s strategic posture. At this level, the threat was posed by a revisionist Pakistan. Due to its revisionist aims and its weak power status as compared to India, Pakistan went nuclear covertly by the mid-1980s which accounted for its venturing into prose-cuting proxy war, dating to the early eighties, beginning with its involvement in Punjab. India has responded, in the words of Lt. Gen. V. R. Raghavan, with both ‘resolve and restraint’. The instances of India’s reaction to both the Kargil intrusion and the Parliament attack in the form of Operation Parakram illustrate this. However, in partial emulation of Pakistan, which saw space for sub-conventional operations in a nuclearised environment, India has also reworked its doctrine to exploit the space between sub-conventional level and the nuclear threshold, for conduct of conventional operations. This is in accordance with the tenets of Limited War. The expectation is that an offensive posture would reinforce deterrence. The second level of analysis is the unit level or that of the state. At the state level, there has been a change towards an assertive strategic culture in India. Political developments, particularly the advent of ‘cultural nationalism’, have been responsible for this change. Concurrent developments in terms of growing power capabilities through economic liberalisation, acquisition of nuclear capability and positioning of India as an Asian power and potential global player, have led to evolution in strategic culture. The link between political developments at the national level and changes in doctrine is provided by the intervening organisational culture. The culture permeating the military organisation is a professional one that values ‘military ethic’, privileges conventional war fighting and preparedness. Together, the changes within national strategic culture and a pre-existing offensive organisational culture in the military account for the proactive offensive doctrine. At the organisational level, nuclearisation rendered conventional operations problematic due to prospects of escalation. The general understanding is that conventional force is threatened by obsolescence in a nuclear age. Yet, Limited War thinking has helped keep

Puzzling Over Doctrine


the armed forces relevant into the nuclear age. It has enabled all three Services to seek a fresh mandate in light of the nuclearised backdrop. This has benefits for ‘institutional interest’, such as maintaining a respectable self-image, retaining salience in the nuclearised context and ensuring autonomy from intrusive civilian control. This perspective looks inside the box, at the interaction between Service culture, inter-Service rivalry and organisational processes to give rise to the new doctrine. Therefore there exists an impetus to doctrine at each of the three levels of analysis. At the structural level, pitched at the ‘regional security complex’ in South Asia, it can be hypothesised that change in India’s military doctrine has been due to continuing external security threats. At the state level, change in India’s military doctrine can be attributed to evolution of India’s strategic culture and at the organisational level, change in India’s military doctrine has been to preserve the military’s institutional interest.

What to Expect The conceptual layout is reflected in the chapterisation of the book. This introductory chapter dwells on the manner in which the book tackles the puzzle in question as to why India had an offensive turn to its conventional posture in the wake of nuclearisation. In Chapter 2, the first section undertakes a definitional exercise for the Limited War concept. The subsequent sections deal with Limited War theory beginning with Clausewitz’s understanding of war and the necessary nuclear related caveats added by Bernard Brodie followed by a review of the historical development of the Limited War concept in the US and in India. Chapter 3 deals with the doctrines in general and ‘Cold Start’ in particular. It traces doctrinal change and evolution of Indian conventional and nuclear doctrine over the past four decades. It seeks to establish the reasons for a shift from a defensive strategic doctrine to a proactive one. It also discusses processes of doctrine formulation and change in the Services. It reflects on the conventional–nuclear interface that is at the heart of Limited War doctrine, setting the stage for a subsequent explanatory chapters discussing the shift described in this chapter. Chapter 4 deals with India’s regional strategic predicament in order to bring out how land warfare doctrine in particular has adapted to its regional strategic circumstance. The change in threat


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

perceptions over time, brought on largely due to Pakistan’s proxy war, is also discussed. The effect of nuclearisation in emboldening Pakistan and its impact on Indian doctrine is studied at two levels — strategic and military. It emerges that given the need to undercut Pakistan’s proclivities at the sub-conventional and nuclear level, India has had to fall back on its conventional advantages. This has been done by refurbishing its earlier doctrine of large-scale counter-offensives, in the backdrop of lower nuclear thresholds. The chapter, therefore, argues that the structural factor, interpreted in terms of changes to the threat environment prompted doctrinal change. Chapter 5 discusses the ‘political factor’ in terms of strategic culture at the state level. It draws on cultural theory to argue that strategic culture has evolved under the influence of the regional security environment and internal political developments. The chapter identifies three cultural sub-levels — political culture, strategic culture and organisational culture. The argument it makes is that the rise of realist thinking in India dating to the Indira-era has impacted the Nehruvian inflection in Indian strategic thinking. Further, subsequent political mainstreaming of cultural nationalism in politics has enabled a more assertive strategic culture. This change has taken place at a time of India’s rise as a power, signified by economic changes, deepening association with the leading superpower, the US, and nuclearisation. Since it is difficult to trace the impact of strategic culture on doctrine directly, it is necessary to take a closer look at the intervening variable of organisational culture. An organisational culture that privileges an offensive military ethic lends itself towards strategic assertion, which is further supported by changes in political culture. This is reflected in the more offensive doctrines the military has formulated over the past decade. Chapter 6 explores how organisational culture, organisational processes and bureaucratic politics account for change in doctrine. According to organisation theory, organisations have general interests and specificities that influence their output. Institutional interests include a desire for salience, budgets, expansion in role and resources, autonomy, etc. Given that nuclearisation may have dampened the prospects of use of conventional military means, the military at the institutional or organisational level is seeking to retain its relevance in the nuclear age. This explains why the military may have resorted to ‘enabling’ doctrine to make conventional capabilities

Puzzling Over Doctrine


usable, despite nuclearisation. Doctrine has also been impacted by inter-Service rivalries and intense bureaucratic politics with the respective doctrines of the Services being used as a weapon in the armoury during these ‘fights’. The chapter discusses these issues and brings out the relevance of the organisational level — organisational — on doctrine making, which is otherwise prone to neglect in strategic studies. The concluding chapter assesses the relative validity of the three drivers of doctrinal change at the respective levels of analysis — structural, state and organisational. The chapter seeks to ascertain the primary impetus behind doctrinal change in India. In doing so, it attempts to bring out issues of policy and theoretical relevance in affect, striking a blow for peace. While war is prosecuted at the three levels of tactical, operational and strategic (ARTRAC 2004: 26–28), the spectrum of conflict for use of military force could involve sub-conventional, conventional or nuclear warfare. The interaction between the three spectrums in the conflict dyad in South Asia — between India and Pakistan — lends a certain complexity to the regional security environment. Specifically, Pakistan’s offensive posture at the sub-conventional level has prompted the adoption of an offensive posture by India at the conventional level. Both states have gone in for an offensive posture at the nuclear level. This is discerned from Pakistan’s refraining from subscribing to ‘no first use’ and India’s nuclear doctrine positing ‘massive’ nuclear retaliation. India has doctrines for guiding its force creation, sustenance and application at all three levels. There is the Doctrine for Sub Conventional Operations (ARTRAC 2006), the Indian Army Doctrine (ARTRAC 2004) for the conventional level, along with similar doctrines for the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force, and the nuclear doctrine (CCS 2003). The doctrines at the two levels — nuclear and conventional — when viewed together suggest an offensive strategic posture. While the nuclear doctrine of massive retaliation seeks to heighten scope for leveraging India’s conventional advantage, the conventional doctrine is geared to enable force application proactively. This shift, from defensive deterrence of an earlier era to offensive deterrence, places India’s doctrine mid-way between a deterrent and a compellent doctrine. The scope of the book is firstly that it is restricted to the India– Pakistan equation. The Cold Start doctrine is not applicable to


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China, though the Limited War concept has equal applicability on that front. It is inconceivable that either India or China would engage in a wider conflict since wider war would derail their promising economic trajectories. Second, brief discussions on airpower doctrine, naval doctrine and sub-conventional doctrine are included since land warfare doctrine is not in isolation. The Army doctrine, Cold Start, serves to anchor the discussion. Finally, the time period for the study covers the period from the 1971 War, so as to bring out the doctrinal changes from a defensive doctrine of the seventies to a deterrent doctrine in the eighties. The quasi-compellent doctrine developed over the last decade, is thus placed in the context of this evolution. A significant constraint of this study has been access to the individual level. It is for this reason that the individual level — the lowest level of analysis — has not been touched in this book. Doctrines are the work of key individuals, who not only conceptualise these but take it upon themselves to ‘sell’ the idea to their peers and across organisational boundaries. Access to this vital level was possible through interviews but confidentiality precluded this route for data gathering. It is possible only when memoirs are published. There are many former practitioners ready to discuss their contribution to doctrine-making. This is in part due to internet-related glasnost, expansion and greater volubility of the strategic community, the service of advertising the Service position that such public advocacy enables and, often, the ideological commitment of some in the retired fraternity in favour of a more ‘resolute’ India. Additionally, no individual has been as closely associated with Service doctrines developed over the last decade to the extent that General Sundarji has come to be identified with the mechanised doctrine that preceded it. This makes the organisational level more pertinent than the individual level. Even though doctrine formulation has historically been shrouded in secrecy, there has been a doctrinal spate lately. This owes to the growing transparency in a democratic society, expansion of the media, the public’s post-Kargil interest in military affairs and, the need to communicate India’s changed strategic posture to the adversary, if only to help deter its provocations. In nuclear matters there is the additional requirement of communication for credibility of the doctrine. There has also been a proliferation of think tanks and

Puzzling Over Doctrine


publications and expansion of the retired fraternity, which has further contributed to the discourse on India’s military doctrine.

On Others’ Shoulders In South Asia, the doctrines at the two levels, nuclear and conventional, are usually reflected on separately. This owes to the nuclear aspect being seen so far as largely in the civilian — political, scientific and bureaucratic — domain. There are very few works on the military utility of nuclear weapons, given their status as ‘political’ weapons. Conventional doctrine, on the other hand, is seen as the professional concern of the military (ARTRAC 1998; 2004). Therefore, there is a dearth of thinking on military doctrine, taking into account the nuclear and conventional dimensions jointly (Kanwal 2008). There has been considerably more written on nuclear doctrine (Karnad 2002; Perkovich 1999; Tellis 2001). The main focus though has continuously shifted. At the forefront earlier was the status of the ‘nuclear option’ (Mattoo and Cortright 1996). In the mid-nineties, the impact of the international non-proliferation agenda on India’s ‘open’ nuclear option was the concern. After Pokhran II, the focus shifted to the type of nuclear deterrence for India, such as Ashley Tellis’ ‘force-in-being’ concept (2001). There was a plethora of writing on the manner in which India went nuclear, particularly its historical narrative (Chengappa 2000) and the strategic compulsions that led to it (Perkovich 1999). The doctrinal development in wake of the tests, in particular, the draft nuclear doctrine was discussed critically (Chari 2000) including anti-nuclear authors (Vanaik and Bidwai 1999). The nature of the deterrent has been reflected on in great detail by Bharat Karnad (2002) and Tellis (2001). Karnad in his book, Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security (2002), advocates that India move beyond to a tous azimuths capability to include a strategic triad, thermonuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Tellis in India’s Emerging Nuclear Posture (2001) examines India’s strategic choices in the future in Asia and places India’s nuclear arsenal somewhere between ‘recessed deterrent’ of the nineties and a ‘ready arsenal’ through a process of ‘creeping weaponisation’. Limited War thinking was developed to offset Pakistan’s strategy of taking advantage of nuclear deterrence prevailing at the nuclear level to prosecute ‘asymmetric war’. The book does not touch upon


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

the various crises in the nuclear period since 1984. These have been covered elsewhere in detail and most recently in Ganguly and Kapur (2010). The limited war thinking was envisaged to break out the No War–No Peace cycle. The repeated crises culminating in the Parliament attack in 2001 revealed a strategic problem that overt nuclearisation had not quite vacated (Singh 2000). India’s Cold Start doctrine can be taken as the operationalisation of the Limited War concept (Ladwig 2008b; Tarapore 2005). This helped shift the focus from the sub-conventional and nuclear levels that dominated the nineties, to the conventional level over the last decade. The relative lack of writings on the impact on conventional operations of nuclearisation can be attributed to the military being out of the nuclear policy loop for most part, as also secrecy surrounding military matters. This is the gap in literature that the contents of this book hope to fill. Conventional doctrine has been an understudied area in India. While nuclear doctrine and counter insurgency doctrine, that have an understandable aura of urgency have had due attention, conventional doctrine has remained elusive. The study has military history relevance in its tracing of the formulation and eclipse of India’s Cold Start doctrine over the century’s first decade. The most prominent contribution to nuclear thinking was of General Sundarji. As Commandant, College of Combat, he had organised a postal seminar on the question of impact of nuclear asymmetry on conventional deterrence (College of Combat 1981). His major contribution is, however, in advocating a flexible response nuclear doctrine envisaging a quid pro quo and quid pro quo plus option for India (Sundarji 1992a; 1992b). The writings on Limited War doctrine that emerged in wake of the Kargil War addressed issues such as the availability of a ‘window’ or ‘space’ between war outbreak and the nuclear threshold which could be exploited for conventional operations (Malik 2004). These writings built a rationale to undercut the otherwise persuasive position that nuclearisation should lead to greater caution, if not a ‘peace dividend’, an argument that proved stillborn, with the Lahore peace process being aborted by the Kargil conflict. Pakistan, a weaker power, believed that nuclearisation had given it greater room to work its revisionist aims. To ‘call Pakistan’s bluff’, Limited War theorising was initiated by the then Union Minister of Defence

Puzzling Over Doctrine


George Fernandes (PIB 2000) under the logic that nuclear weapons deter nuclear weapons and not war itself. This shift in focus was recognised by Sanjay Badri-Maharaj (2000). He was among the first to identify a shift in India’s conventional doctrine away from the Sundarji era’s conventional doctrine of bisecting Pakistan at its midriff through the famed ‘Rahim Yar Khan’ conventional option. Operation Parakram generated the next round of thinking (Kalyanaraman 2002). The major lessons learnt from Parakram were that, first, the strike corps mobilised slowly, and, second, it could breach the nuclear threshold of Pakistan if employed. This was best brought out in a book by Lieutenant General V. K. Sood and Pravin Swahney on Operation Parakram, The War Unfinished (2003). They describe a situation when, after the Kalu Chak terror strike, India’s three strike corps were poised for offensive in the desert. Unleashing military might of such an order could have brought the Pakistani nuclear card into play. The drawbacks of the conventional option led to the formulation of the Cold Start doctrine that was then tested in military exercises (Ladwig 2008). Recent writings on conventional options, such as a paper by a serving officer (Singh 2010) have reinforced the centrality of Cold Start in India’s land warfare doctrine. G. D. Bakshi, a retired general, recommends articulation of a Limited War doctrine by India in his book, Limited Wars in South Asia (2010: 159, 163). He holds that, ‘Cold Start is essentially a subset of the “Limited War Doctrine”’ (Bakshi 2010: 44). A comprehensive analysis of the extent of operationalisation of these tenets has been done by Walter C. Ladwig III in his landmark article, ‘A Cold Start for Hot Wars? The Indian Army’s new Limited War Doctrine’, in International Security (2008b). He takes the promulgation of the new doctrine as a ‘marked break from the fundamentally defensive orientation that the Indian military has employed since independence in 1947’ (Ladwig 2008: 158). His thesis is that, ‘Limited War on the subcontinent poses a serious risk of escalation based on a number of factors that are not necessarily under the control of the policy makers or military leaders who would initiate the conflict’ (ibid.). His critique is based on his understanding of the role of ‘misperception, poor intelligence and India’s awkward national security decision making system’ (ibid.). Ladwig’s signal contribution is in tracing the military progress made in imbibing


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

the doctrines through training. He does this by assessing the media reports from India’s large scale joint military exercises such as Divya Astra, Vajra Shakti, Sanghe Shakti Ashwamedh and Desert Strike (Ladwig 2008a: 178–81). It is evident that India, to get out of the strategic cul de sac of subconventional proxy war, has attempted to leverage its conventional strength (Bakshi 2010: 44). In doing this it has to contend with an uncertain Pakistani nuclear threshold (Cotta-Ramusino and Martellini 2002). Even if high, the response to the same has to be worked through in advance. Nuclear doctrine cannot be taken in isolation but has to be clubbed with conventional doctrine. Karnad (2005) has discussed the implications of a proactive conventional doctrine in his ‘Sialkot grab’ scenario. He advocates placing Pakistan, through successful proactive conventional operations in such a position that any resort to nuclear ‘first use’ would only be on its own people or against Indian counter value targets. This would be an impossible choice that could check Pakistan’s ‘first use’ option. Karnad, who had the advantage that his book was released after the crisis in 2002, unlike Tellis, has influenced subsequent thinking in favour of ‘proactive’ conventional operations and a ‘flexible’ nuclear doctrine in respect of Pakistan. The nuclear dangers that arise in the India–Pakistan context have been dealt with by many authors on both sides of the border (Mazari 2002, 2004; Raghavan 2001). India’s nuclear power is seen in geostrategic terms of the balance of power with China. With respect to Pakistan, writers such as Kanwal (2008) and Rajagopalan (2005) believe that the nuclear threshold being high, resort to nuclear weapons is less likely. India’s nuclear weapons are to be used in a retaliatory strike promising unacceptable damage on break down of deterrence. Kanwal, in his Indian Army Vision 2020 (2008), advocates a massive nuclear response even if Pakistan goes in for nuclear first use in a defensive mode in its own territory. In his Nuclear Defence: Shaping the Arsenal (2001), he has attributed this to the pressure of Indian public opinion which he sees as unwilling to be placated with anything but dismemberment of Pakistan in case of any form of nuclear ‘first use’ by it. India’s nuclear doctrine has been authenticated by the press release from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on 4 January 2003. The brief press release contained a ‘summary’ of the nuclear doctrine adopted and confirmed its ‘operationalisation’ (CCS 2003).

Puzzling Over Doctrine


This doctrine has a more offensive content than the Draft Nuclear Doctrine that had been prepared by the first National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) (NSAB 1999). In particular, it has diluted the no first use (NFU) clause by countenancing nuclear first use against a ‘major attack’ using the other two weapons of mass destruction — chemical and biological weapons. Second, punitive retaliation has been promised to be ‘massive’. This is a change from the Draft Nuclear Doctrine in which the term ‘massive’ was not mentioned, but the term ‘sufficient’ was used. There is even an impetus to a move away from NFU in the strategic debate. Scott Sagan (2009) and Rajesh Basrur (2008) observe the offensive bias in the nuclear doctrine. The offensive bias in the nuclear doctrine complements the offensive intent in the conventional doctrine. Taken together, both doctrines could be taken as countenancing compellence, even though they may have been designed to bolster deterrence. Nuclearisation and its doctrinal effects are also intimately linked to changes in the Indian strategic culture. Landmark works in this cultural genre are of George Tanham (1992), Stephen Cohen (2001) and Stephen Rosen (1996). Tanham’s work kick-started the debate with his essay figuring subsequently in a book, Securing India: Strategic Thought and Practice (Mattoo and Bajpai 1996), alongside counterpoints by others. The collection of Subrahmanyam and Monteiro’s writings, Shedding Shibboleths (2005), also begins with a discussion of the Tanham thesis. Pratap Bhanu Mehta feels that George Tanham’s book, Indian Strategic Thought (1992), best reflects the ‘striking consensus in the literature on strategic thinking in India’ (Mehta 2009: 210). The genre has been taken forward by Shekhar Gupta (1995), Tellis (1997, 2000), Mattoo et al. (1996), Jaswant Singh (1999), and Karnad (2002). The mainstream view that emerges is captured by Jaswant Singh, who devotes a chapter in his book Defending India (1999) to dilating on India’s postIndependence strategic culture (Singh 1999: 1–60). Among the attributes of strategic culture of yore, he lists pacifism as co-existing with valour (ibid.: 14); absence of a sense of military history; a belief that the civilisation would outlast conquerors; absence of a sense of territoriality and, consequently, absence of a need to defend the land (ibid.: 16); and, lastly, preoccupation with internal order leading to neglect of defence against invasions (ibid.: 17). Among the foremost internal political developments since the mid-1980s has been the rise of right wing politics, in the form of


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

the conservative Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). This change in political arena has impacted strategic culture, especially since the BJP headed the coalition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for six years (1998–2004) at the turn of the century. This, along with, growing Indian economic power and consequent reinvigoration of military strength has led to an increasingly confident India, seeking a power position going beyond regional player status to becoming an Asian power. The trend has been set by the nuclear tests, followed eventually by the break-through Indo-US nuclear deal. This journey of a regional power enroute to ‘great power’ status can be traced in works by Sunil Khilnani (1997), Stephen Cohen (2001), C. Raja Mohan (2003), and Sumit Ganguly (2003). There is some discussion in the book on the bureaucratic politics within each Service and between the Services, indicating the lack of development of military sociology as a discipline in India. The Army–Air Force standoff on the issue of integrated commands and Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is an example of the internal dynamics impacting doctrine in the military. This has been covered as an embedded case study in the last chapter of the book. The logic is that the difficulty over the appointment of a CDS is not so much a ‘turf’ issue but one of serious doctrinal divergence. Evidence of competition between the Services on this count is easily gleaned from the fact that their respective doctrines have been released autonomously by each Service (Kapoor 2010: 3). A logical way would have been to begin jointly and then arrive at individual Service doctrines as an outflow of the joint doctrine. Instead the reverse has occurred. This proves that there is scope for a gainful study of the institutional element in doctrine generation. In other words, a ‘gap’ exists that the last chapter on the organisational level can attempt to ‘fill’.

What’s ‘Doctrine’? At the outset, arriving at definitional clarity is necessary. Terms such as policy, strategy and doctrine often used interchangeably are liable to be mistaken as synonyms. Policy is the overarching set of aims and parameters, for example, whether and when India should exercise the nuclear option. Doctrine is a set of guidelines for action such as ‘retaliation only’ and ‘assured retaliation’, as articulated in the nuclear doctrine. Strategy is an ends–means choice within the terms of reference of policy, in consonance with and not necessarily

Puzzling Over Doctrine


confined by doctrine. Strategy could cover issues such as the optimum targeting sets for nuclear retaliation — i.e., counter-force, countervalue or a mix — in case of a break-down of deterrence. The distinction between the conventional and nuclear doctrine is easy to make, since the first deals with conventional force employment and the other with nuclear forces. This does not imply that they can be considered in isolation of each other. Indeed, there is a significant interaction between the two. The Indian nuclear policy position, that nuclear weapons are political weapons and meant for deterrence alone, is questionable. The problem with such an argument is that it makes the two levels, conventional and nuclear, seem distinct. However, since Pakistan does not subscribe to NFU, there is no guarantee that nuclear weapons would not be used during conflict. In effect, India’s nuclear weapons may come into the equation due to its conventional actions. Therefore, the interaction between the two needs to be well understood. Doctrine is not a term that lends itself to easy definition. It closely abuts ‘strategy’, ‘policy’ and ‘concept’ in its meaning and is, therefore, liable to be misinterpreted (ARTRAC 2004: 10–12). The Army’s capstone publication, Indian Army Doctrine (2004), defines doctrine as, ‘a framework for a better understanding of the approach to warfare and provides the foundation for its practical application.’ In simple words, military doctrine is a particular policy taught or advocated; a set of principles by which military forces guide their actions in support of national objectives. Military doctrine can be defined as ‘a formal expression of military knowledge and thought, that an army accepts as being relevant at a given time, which covers the nature of current and future conflicts, the preparation of the army for such conflicts and the methods of engaging in them to achieve success’ (ibid.: 5, 10). Air Commodore Jasjit Singh defines doctrine as ‘principles and precepts that would guide the way military power would be employed, the critical foundation for capacity building and operational actions in war’. To him, ‘it is obvious that defence doctrines must flow from national political goals and objectives’ (Singh 2004: 7). The difference between offensive and defensive doctrines lies in intent and content. Defensive would imply awaiting and absorbing enemy action prior to retaliating. Offensive doctrine implies seizing the initiative by acting first. Defensive doctrines can also have an offensive component, while offensive doctrines are also concerned


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

with ‘the shield as much as the sword’ (ARTRAC 2004: 47–56). In the Indian case, allowing Pakistan to strike prior to responding with counter-offensives, as was the case earlier, amounts to a deterrent doctrine with a defensive bias. Instead, the Cold Start formulation relies on an early start, taking the offensive proactively to the enemy. This is, therefore, an offensive doctrine. It has been taken as a deterrent doctrine with an offensive bias, but as will be seen in Chapter 3, it also facilitates compellence. This book argues that there has been a movement from the defensive to the offensive and attempts to explain why this has been so. Examples of doctrine in history are Blitzkrieg, ‘Maginot line’ doctrine, the offensive doctrines of the First World War that were adopted by both France and Germany, AirLand Battle, etc. In the nuclear field, inter alia, are the doctrines of ‘massive retaliation’ and ‘flexible response’. Doctrines are also necessary for armies to grapple with the operations at various levels of war such as sub-conventional, conventional and nuclear. Special doctrines are formulated for joint operations, amphibious operations, ‘out of area’ operations, peacekeeping and stabilisation operations, Special Forces and terrainspecific operations such as desert and mountain warfare. This is done to distil military thinking on a particular type of operation and place the organisation on the same grid. It also facilitates communication, establishes a shared culture and approach to operations, and serves as basis for training curriculum (US Army Field Manual [FM] 100–5 1994: 1–1). Doctrines are based on history, technology, threats, inter-Service relations and political decisions relating to allocation of resources, missions and roles (ibid.). Tactics, techniques, procedures, organisations, equipment and training are all derived from doctrine (ibid. 1991: 6). It is important to understand that while doctrine is generic, strategy is more specific in nature. The Indian Navy’s maritime strategy document brings this out and states that ‘Doctrine is evolved from government’s policies. Strategy is derived from doctrine’ (IHQ of MoD [Navy] 2007: 3). Identifying its origin in national policies, the document defines doctrine as, ‘a body of thought, and a knowledgebase which underpins the development of strategy’ (ibid.: 4). It is meant to assist strategists in making decisions by providing a point of reference. The output of strategists is strategy or ‘the overall plan to move from the present situation to a desired goal in a given scenario (ibid.: 4). In the naval heuristic (ibid.: 2) national interests determine

Puzzling Over Doctrine


national security objectives. These are affected by the domestic and the global environment. The result is a national security policy as a first step. This can be likened to the strategic doctrine of the state. Following from this is the series of steps of grand strategy, joint military strategy, and the Service strategies for land, air and maritime dimensions. For instance, maritime strategy is defined as, ‘the overall approach of a nation to the oceans around it, with the aim of synergizing all aspects related to maritime activities, to maximize national gains’ (IHQ of MoD [Navy] 2007: 2). The critical point, iterated several times elsewhere in military publications, is that doctrine is anchored in the wider socio-political context as defined by the government. It is the strategic doctrine of the state (dwelt on in Chapter 3) that is the foundation of military doctrine. Thereafter is the military doctrine, which includes maritime doctrine for the Navy, airpower doctrine for the Air Force and land warfare doctrine for the Army. Nuclear doctrine ensures deterrence. At the nuclear level, however, operational doctrine could well be different. Nuclear employment strategy would be informed by but not necessarily limited to the declaratory nuclear doctrine. Further, while the Indian Army has a doctrine for mountain warfare, its strategy with respect to mountain warfare in different areas ranging from the Line of Control (LoC), Siachen and the different theatres with respect to the China sector, would be different. Doctrine informs strategy by providing strategic thinking with the conceptual framework to approach military problems. It encompasses the essence of the military’s experience and outlines the fundamental principles and guidelines. It facilitates a shared understanding of the application of the military’s resources in conflict. It is, therefore, not meant to substitute strategy or war plans. It is not meant to be binding, but facilitative of informed judgement. The American definition makes this distinction clear, stating, ‘[a]s an authoritative statement, doctrine must be definitive enough to guide specific operations, yet remain adaptable enough to address diverse and varied situations’ (FM 100–5 1994: 1). Strategy on the other hand is meant to be context specific and situation dependent. It establishes goals, assigns forces and imposes conditions on theatres of operation. It broadly draws on doctrine without being bound down by it. The Indian Army defines strategy as, ‘the art and science of developing and using elements of national power including political, economic, psychological, technological


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

capabilities and military forces, as necessary, during peace and war to achieve national objectives. Military strategy is derived from the overall national or “grand” strategy’ (ARTRAC 2004: 4). It follows Liddell Hart in its definition, ‘Military strategy has been defined as the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfil ends of national policy’ (ARTRAC 2004: 27). In drawing on the American doctrine, it admits that ‘a more modern definition could be ‘the art and science of employing the armed forces of a nation to secure policy objectives by the application of force or threat of use of force’ (FM 100–5 1991: 9). Doctrine is influenced by political, social and cultural factors. Its origin is in the overall national aim, which is self-evidently a determinant of the political plane. The factors affecting military doctrine are internal and external relations, geography, interests of neighbours and affordability (Nayyar and Suri 2005: 10). Consideration of these factors at the political level helps formulate military doctrine. Jasjit Singh, reflecting on the Indian case, states that the aim of durable peace and war avoidance must inform strategic doctrine, with conventional and nuclear deterrence being the corresponding defence doctrine. Offensive use of military power would be in circumstances when deterrence has failed or in response to proxy war. He highlights that the ‘single factor that has the most profound impact on our defence policy and hence the employment of our military power is the existence of nuclear weapons . . . This imposes significant limitations on the conduct of war’ (Singh 2004: 7). Following from this, he recommends a strategy that, ‘should be able to apply punitive (conventional military) force without inviting an excessive response like a credible nuclear threat or use’ (ibid.). Given this, the options India has, ‘would be either apply military power spaced out in time and concentrated in space, or stretched out in space and concentrated in time . . . Thus, short swift small operations would have to be kept limited in time and space’ (ibid.). Jasjit Singh succeeds in tracing the doctrinal process beginning with its origin in politically determined national aims and through formulation of a deterrence doctrine and finally strategy, i.e., the two options he presents. This indicates the problems when Service doctrines are written in a conceptual vacuum due to lack of strategic doctrine. The consequence is that the military ends up interpreting national aims and objectives arbitrarily and, likewise, its role in achieving these is self-determined.

Puzzling Over Doctrine


Looking for Answers This introductory chapter has dwelt on the layout of the argument and of the book. The hypotheses are the possible causal factors at the three levels of analysis — security threats at the structural level; strategic culture as the political factor at the unit (state) level; and institutional interest at the organisational level. The chapter also covers methodological issues and identifies gaps in literature that the book outlines and hopes to fill, in particular, the absence of work on the nuclear–conventional interface and the lesser attention given to the two lower levels of analysis — state and organisational. The final section on doctrine and strategy situates the study in the relevant background for analysis of the concept of Limited War, discussed in the next chapter. In a nutshell, the argument is that impetus to doctrine exists at various levels of analysis. However, each is by itself insufficient to effect a change in doctrine. There has to be confluence of the factors at the three levels to bring about doctrinal change. The case study of the Indian military doctrine is of the move from a doctrine that contemplated wider conventional war in the World War tradition to one informed by the Limited War concept. The study locates the factors impelling this change at the three levels by employing three significant theories in international relations and strategic studies — realism at the structural level; cultural theory at the unit level; and organisational theory at the sub-unit level. The three drivers of the doctrine were hypothesised as being: threat from Pakistan at the structural level; shift in India’s strategic culture to a more assertive one at the state level; and, at the organisational level, the institutional interest of the Services to maintain their relevance in face of obsolescence brought on by the nuclear age. It is apparent that India’s doctrinal change has been multi-causal, making the case study one of ‘equi-finality’.

2 The Limited War Concept

Limited War: An Oxymoron?


he Limited War concept is neither new to history nor to practice. Indeed, it can be said that Total War is the exception. Wars of annihilation are not the usual and preferred form of waging war. Therefore, a chapter clarifying the term Limited War appears a curious exercise. However, this is necessary for two reasons. First, Total War as witnessed in the wars of annihilation of the last century has coloured the conception of war as a social practice. Second, in the nuclear age the term ‘limited’ acquires an added connotation. This chapter, in dwelling on this, first resorts to Clausewitz’s theorising so as to situate the Limited War concept in strategic studies theory. Thereafter, it looks at the development of Limited War thinking in the Cold War context. Thereafter, it draws a brief introductory sketch of Limited War thinking in India.

Prelude in Strategic Theory In the nuclear age, the traditional aim of overthrowing an enemy as a political aim is neither rational nor workable. The danger is in the prospect of ‘mutually assured destruction’ (MAD). This may appear to be the case in the India–Pakistan context given that both states have overtly gone nuclear and developed an arsenal in the range of three digits (Nori and Kristensen 2010). Under such circumstances, any utility attributed to the use of force should be suspected prudently. Clausewitz’s pioneering work in strategic studies, On War, explains the concept of war. He is instructive on this score, writing, ‘War can be of two kinds, in the sense that either the objective is to overthrow the enemy . . .; or merely to occupy some of his frontierdistricts so that we can annex them or use them for bargaining at

The Limited War Concept


the peace negotiations’ (Clausewitz 2008: 7). In a nuclear environment, the first kind of war, of annihilation, is no longer thinkable. It follows that only the second kind, that is, Limited War, is possible. National suicide not being a policy option, only limited aims can be sought through limited means. This is anticipated in Clausewitz’s famous stipulation, war is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means (ibid.: 34). Traditionally, the enemy is placed in a military position more unpleasant than the sacrifice he is required to make (ibid.: 15) or put in such a condition that they can no longer carry on the fight (ibid.: 32). This requires matching effort against the enemy’s power of resistance stemming from his resources and will (ibid.: 16). In a nuclear environment the enemy’s resources for inflicting harm are limitless. Imposing on his ‘will’ beyond a point is a matter of inordinate risk. Consequently, limitation comes to fore as an overriding imperative. This is in keeping with the view that the value of the object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it, both in terms of magnitude and duration (ibid.: 34). Since the ‘sacrifices’ now amount to risking nuclear damage, limits are inescapable on what is demanded of the adversary. The nuclear threshold becomes the determining yardstick in a war between the two nuclear powers. Crossing it would amount to exceeding any rational purpose of war. This observation has defining importance in that a Limited War would not only imply a war in which there is no resort to nuclear weapons, but also one in which there is little reason for such recourse. Clausewitz makes two instructive points on the political aims that can be set in the light of limitation. The first step is in determining the nature of war being embarked on. He writes: [t]he first, the supreme, the most far reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish by that test the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive (ibid.: 30).

From the first step follow the means necessary towards achieving the ends: ‘The political object, as the original motive of the war, should be the standard for determining both the aim of military force, and also the amount of efforts to be made’ (ibid.: 81). The second point he makes is to have a realistic expectation from the military. Nuclear weapons cannot realistically deliver on any rational political


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

ends. Conventional military prowess should not be used to defeat an enemy, since the enemy could resort to nuclear weapons. This dialectic of force has been identified by Clausewitz as: If one side uses force without compunction, undeterred by the bloodshed it involves, while the other side refrains, the first will gain the upper hand. That side will force the other to follow suit; each will drive its opponent toward extremes, and the only limiting factors are the counterpoises inherent in war . . . War is an act of force and there is no logical limit to the application of that force. Each side therefore compels its opponent to follow suit; a reciprocal action is started which must lead in theory to extremes (2008: 14).

Therefore, military power is less than useful for expansive political ends. It can at best be used for limited ends. This logically entails the Limited War concept. Along with limited political aims (Clausewitz 2008: 20), there are other conditions reinforcing limitations in terms of weapons used, geographic spread, etc. One is friction (Clark 1988: 58, 59; Clausewitz 2008: 65), a concept elaborated by Clausewitz. Emphasising the political frame, he says, ‘[w]ar is not an act of senseless passion but is controlled by its political object’ (2008: 34). The limiting factors include social forces that give rise to war and moderate it (ibid.: 14), imperfect knowledge of the situation (ibid.: 25), and the element of chance (ibid.: 26). The nuclear environment further makes limitation an intrinsic part of the doctrine. The object of war is politically determined. A doctrine requires to be broad enough to accommodate possible political purposes that may be set in a war in the future. Since doctrine making is an exercise in the ‘here and now’ but is intended to cover a foreseeable period into the future, the challenge of doctrine making is magnified. Clausewitz provides an answer. However, as a first step, a correct interpretation of an oft misinterpreted statement by him is necessary. Clausewitz’s statement, ‘[o]f all possible aims in war, the destruction of the enemy’s armed forces always appears as the highest’ (2008: 43), has been misread by the German military during the von Moltke-era in Bismarckian Germany (Heuser 2007: 147). It is clear that thinking such as, ‘there is no substitute for victory’, that cost Douglas MacArthur his job, needs to be reckoned with.

The Limited War Concept


What Clausewitz implied was more nuanced or qualified. Even to him: The aim of disarming the enemy (the object of war in the abstract, the ultimate means of accomplishing the war’s political purpose, which should incorporate the rest) is in fact not always encountered in reality and need not be fully achieved as a condition of peace. On no account should theory raise it to the level of a law (Clausewitz 2008: 33).

Clausewitz reasons that the object of war that emerges in theory (of disarming the enemy as the means to extracting political concessions) is, ‘sometimes inappropriate to actual conflict in that war can be of two very different kinds’, averring to the second kind of war, the Limited War (ibid.: 33). To him, war is simply the continuation of policy by other means and an act of policy. It is unthinkable to allow it to usurp the place of policy. The prime cause of its existence — the political purpose — remains the supreme consideration in its conduct (ibid.: 28). He resolves the dilemma of war’s subordination to the political purpose, writing: The more powerful and inspiring the motives for war, the more they affect the belligerent nations and the fiercer the tensions that precede the outbreak, the closer will war approach its abstract concept, the more important will be the destruction of the enemy, the more closely will military aims and the political objects of war coincide, and the more military and less political will war appear to be. On the other hand, the less intense the motives, the less will the military element’s natural tendency to violence will coincide with political directives. As a result, war will be driven further from its natural course, the political object will be more and more at variance with the aim of ideal war and the conflict will seem increasingly political in character (ibid.: 2).

In the nuclear scenario, Bernard Brodie adapts Clausewitz and writes: Clausewitz’s classical definition must be modified, at least for any opponent who has a substantial nuclear capability behind him. Against such an opponent, one’s terms must be modest enough to permit him to accept them, without his being pushed by desperation into rejecting both those terms and the limitations in war fighting’ (Brodie 1959: 313).

This implies Limited War, with limited aims implicit, is the sole form of war feasible. In his words, ‘We are differentiating modern


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

limited war from anything that has happened in the past. We are talking about something quite new. If wars were limited in ages past, the reasons why they were so have little relevance for us today’ (Brodie 1957: 114). Earlier, ‘wars were kept limited by the small margin of national economic resources available for mobilization and by the small capability for destruction that could be purchased with that narrow margin. Today, on the contrary, we speak of deliberate hobbling of a tremendous power that is already mobilized’ (Brodie 1959: 311). This brings the discussion to the Limited War concept developed in the wake of nuclearisation in mid-twentieth century.

Limited War Theory Theoretical Evolution Robert Osgood is associated with developing the concept in the conditions of the Cold War. His definition of Limited War reads: ‘A Limited War is one in which the belligerents restrict the purposes for which they fight to concrete, well-defined objectives that do not demand the utmost in military effort of which the belligerents are capable and that can be accommodated in a negotiated settlement’ (Osgood 1957: 1–2). This implies application of restraint along various dimensions such as choice of theatre of operations, geographical spread, weapons used, tactics employed, targets addressed, troops committed, respect for humanitarian norms, etc. Osgood’s definition formulated in wake of the Korean War remains relevant, though he revised the concept in wake of the Vietnam War. His reformulated definition is: Limited wars were to be fought for ends far short of the complete subordination of one state’s will to another’s, using means that involve far less than the total military resources of the belligerents and leave the civilian life and the armed forces of the belligerents largely intact (Osgood 1979: 3).

Sophistication developed in Limited War thinking with theoreticians such as Thomas Schelling linking the concept with bargaining. He wrote: [i]t is in wars that we have come to call ‘limited wars’ that the bargaining appears most vividly and is conducted most consciously. The critical targets in such a war are the mind of the enemy . . . the threat of violence in reserve is more important than the commitment of force in the field . . . And, like any bargaining situation, a restrained war involves some degree of collaboration between adversaries (Schelling 1967: 142–43).

The Limited War Concept


As is well-known, the concept of bargaining was applied in Vietnam with little effect. Limitation has various implications. It is, first, when political aims and military objectives are achieved with less than total application of available resources. Second, Limited War is distinguished from wars that stay limited due to lack of resources by a deliberate limitation in ‘means’. Swaran Singh, echoes Bernard Brodie, in deeming Limited War to be a ‘massive and deliberate’ hobbling of their infinite power by nuclear weapons powers’ (1995: xii). Since means used are the primary manner of communicating limitation as intent to the enemy, limitation in targets and weapons assumes salience. In the nuclear scenario, the conventional–nuclear firebreak and the determinants of tactical and strategic role of nuclear weapons, such as, type of target, its relation to the combat zone and population centres, are vital to non-escalation. Last, limitation is in the scope of war in terms of level of intensity, geographical spread, alliance partners, etc. (ibid.: 76). Limited War as a conceptual categorisation of warfare is of recent vintage. The closest parallels in history were the Continental Wars in the time of Lord Marlborough (ibid.: 39). As Kissinger wrote, Limited Wars are ‘acts of policy, not necessity’ (1957: 139). Napoleonic wars were the original ‘revolution in military affairs’, which by adding a third dimension, of popular involvement, made Clausewitz’s Trinity of government, the military and the nation, whole. Ever since, wars have had an escalatory tendency towards the conceptual Absolute War and the Total Wars of the twentieth century. In the nuclear age, such a propensity brings General War within the realm of possibility. Limited War doctrine has been conceptualised to avert this possibility, as even conventional weapon attacks are lethal and costly (Singh 2000: 1206). Limitation makes for economic sense since keeping war aims limited enables limits on investment in achieving them as also limits the damage to itself that a country is willing to sustain in pursuing these aims. Limited War thinking began with the Korean War (Rajain 2005: 82–90). As part of the containment strategy of the US, it was designed to ‘deter and fight wars effectively at a tolerable cost and risk in the nuclear age by providing the US with a flexible and controlled response to a variety of military threats’ (Osgood 1979: iii). Limited Wars, however, have been more prevalent in history than Total Wars


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

in the tradition of the World Wars (Singh 1995: ix). Annihilation of the enemy and unconditional surrender are seldom the aims of a limited war. Instead, these aims are amenable to settlement without the fullest exertion of the participants. A Limited War is fought for limited aims and objectives. Limited War theorising made its appearance in the nuclear age to highlight the fact that keeping wars limited was a conscious political choice and military act. It is concerned with the deliberate limitation of mobility and applied capabilities of the armed forces in a war in the light of the nuclear overhang. At the beginning of the Cold War, the US thinking was that the communist enemy would need to be completely defeated with maximum force in case of war in Europe. This thought process was tested during the Korean War during which the US deliberately restricted the scope and nature of its intervention to avoid a direct armed encounter with the Soviet Union or a protracted war in Asia. The war, thus, prompted considerable thinking on the strategic concept of Limited War. These concepts include, credible deterrence based on the threat of local war expanding to general nuclear war; maximum limitation along with escalation control; effective conventional denial strategies but with economy in defence expenditures; geographical restriction and minimising of damage inflicted; restriction in manpower committed; and limitation in the type of armaments used. The theory gained wide acceptance as it was based on Clausewitz’s principle of primacy of the political over the military spheres. War was to be restricted to serve particular national objectives and with means appropriate to the political stakes involved. The military instrument was one among other instruments available to the state to bring about the desired effect on the enemy’s will (Osgood 1957: 10). ‘Massive retaliation’ was the initial US doctrine in the era of its nuclear monopoly and asymmetry. With the onset of nuclear parity, persistence with this doctrine could prove suicidal. Therefore, the concept of Limited War was advanced in the US to offset the relative paucity in conventional forces. Total War, the dominant form of war in the Age of Nationalism (1789–1945), was rendered unthinkable in the Nuclear Age in the light of mutual vulnerability between nuclear armed opponents. Therefore, initial Limited War theorising by proponents as Osgood (1957) and Halperin (1963) was used to condition American opinion. The assumption was that the introverted, isolationist and moralistic Americans were historically inclined towards the waging a Total War. Given their perception of malevolence of communism, by now nuclear armed, a war could

The Limited War Concept


prove inevitable and suicidal. Limited War theory was the result and its conclusions were employed by the US military in Korea and Vietnam. Nuclear weapons were avoided in Korea on account of fear of Soviet retaliation, lack of targets, allied reluctance and the interpretation that Korea was a communist ‘feint’ (Halperin 1963: 47–48). In fact, military strategy in the Cold War had limitation as its principal focus and source even in the central European theatre. The ‘flexible response’ doctrine involving reliance on conventional military response buttressed in extremis by tactical nuclear weapons was akin to limiting nuclear war (ibid.: 96–97). Nevertheless, the Limited War doctrine did not find easy acceptance. Halperin informs that a Republican minority report stated: ‘It is too much to expect that our people will accept Limited War. Our Strategy must be devised to bring about decisive victory’ (ibid.: 46). Decisive victory means pursuit by unlimited means. Unlimited nature of the means in the nuclear age necessitates that ends be limited (Singh 1995: 37–39). In Clausewitzian terms, this implied subjecting military power to exacting political discipline to ensure the prevention of spiral into what Clausewitz conceptualised as Absolute War (Walzer 1977: 23–24). Thus, the Limited War formulation ensured the continued instrumentality of war as an adjunct to politics. The means–ends balance is the cornerstone, not only of strategy, but also of Just War doctrine that has among its principles that desired ends must be proporationate to means available (Clark 1982: 12–14). Nuclear weapons had not made ‘war’ unthinkable. Ian Clark (ibid.: 1–2) describes limitation as a middle ground between war in zero-sum terms of realists and the utopian position of harmony of interests in his book Limited Nuclear War (1982). He formulates five political conditions that make Limited War necessary in the Nuclear Age. These conditions are: the doctrine is to be viewed as an instrument of deterrence; it is the only sensible mechanism to keep destruction limited and for bringing about termination of war in the most favourable circumstance; it is a substitute for nuclear war-fighting; it helps fight and win, and at worst, helps avoids losing nuclear conflicts; and lastly, that a counter-force doctrine keeps Limited Nuclear War in consonance with Just War conceptions (ibid.: 205–6). Historically, to an extent, war has been limited by the principles of necessity, discrimination, proportionality, religious scruples, morality, legality, prevalent military ethics, and humanity. However, the ‘limited’ in Limited War implies a self-imposed restraint in objectives, forces, weapons, targets, and areas of operations (Halperin


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

1963: 36–38; Rajain 2005: 90; Singh 2000: 1207–11). The concept was expanded by Henry Kissinger to include the nuclear ingredient. He advocated the use of tactical nuclear weapons to redress the conventional forces imbalance in Europe (Kissinger 1957). Later, Herman Kahn’s discussion of the ‘escalation ladder’ and its various fire-breaks dwelt on the possibilities of keeping even nuclear war limited. Kahn acknowledged the necessity of limited war capabilities for meeting limited provocations (Rajain 2005: 87).

Limited War Thinking in India The subcontinental protagonists, India and Pakistan, having demonstrated and declared their status as nuclear powers in 1998, have irrevocably since entered the era of Limited Wars. The portents of the nuclear era were visible through the eighties. K. Subrahmanyam, writing in the period, reflects on implications of nuclearisation thus, ‘[t]he only realistic way of capping India’s defence costs in the nineties and beyond is for India to develop a nuclear deterrent, reduce the size of the army, make it more mobile, give it more firepower and develop the integrated doctrine of air land battle in which air power will be used not as an addition to ground based firepower but as an indivisible part of total firepower of an integrated command combining both land and air elements’ (Subrahmanyam 1986: 282). The positive aspect is that modernisation in doctrine and equipment can be done, but at the cost of downsizing under cover of nuclearisation. This has connotations for institutional interest, particularly what passes for ‘empire building’. Nevertheless, both downsizing and modernisation would have inter-Service and intra-Service implications. The ‘threat’ to the military and its components can be predicted to yield innovative doctrine, in keeping with organisational theory. Subrahmanyam further estimates: [i]f both India and Pakistan were to have nuclear weapons, a situation of stable deterrence is likely to result in all probability . . . This is a perfect though an extremely unpleasant setting for mutual deterrence. Once that sets in, the Kashmir Line of Control (LoC) will become an international border (ibid.: 287).

This has even greater potential for impacting military interest in terms of budgets and relative salience in the security complex. While Subrahmanyam was deploying all arguments in his advocacy, he

The Limited War Concept


was not distracted by the predictable opposition that these would give rise to in light of the organisation theory. In a scenario described in his book, Vision 2100: A Strategy for the Twenty-First Century, General Sundarji outlines the change required. He writes, ‘If conventional hostilities become inevitable, Indian conventional counter offensives against Pakistan should be modulated in scope and depth of penetration into Pakistan territory, so that ingress can stop before Pakistan resorts to the use of nuclear weapons’ (Sundarji 2003: 147). His reference was to counter offensives, since he was writing in the period prior to the changes towards the offensive in India’s strategic and military doctrines. This stands true for the offensives under this doctrine as well. This is in keeping with the Limited War doctrine. According to Jasjit Singh, ‘[t]he significant point to note is that in the past, the wars of the subcontinent were limited (in time, scope, goals, etc.) by choice. But nuclearisation has made wars limited as an imperative’ (Singh 1998: 311). Such a war will be limited in time and scope. Positional warfare will not be able to deliver results in the limited time available. To him, ‘[m]anoeuvre warfare is more likely to bring on a nuclear threat’ (ibid.: 312). A war of attrition as well, was unlikely to be an option due to limitations in capital stocks, resupply, etc. A standoff or stalemate would enable the smaller country to derive an image of victory. In the India–Pakistan context, this could be seen as not being in Indian interest. These are the main problems of conventional doctrine and strategy faced by the Indian doctrine and and military staff officers engaged with defence planning. India’s leading strategists Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam, General Sundarji and Major General D. Banerjee have observed that even a remote possibility of nuclear war outbreak implies threat of Total War. According to Subrahmanyam, ‘[w]hile Pakistan in a nuclear strike can inflict very great damage on India, the latter will be able to destroy Pakistan totally as a viable nation’ (1986: 287). His understanding of nuclear war-fighting was that it is not subject to limitation, believing that: [t]hose who still argue that war-fighting with nuclear weapons is feasible, with each side directing its weapons strictly on the adversary’s military targets, appear to envisage an ability to impose such a rule on the adversary . . . Such an expectation does not appear to be wholly realistic (ibid.: 287).


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

As the head of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) that drafted the ‘Draft Nuclear Doctrine’ released in August 1999 (NSAB 1999), Subrahmanyam posited that inflicting ‘unacceptable damage’ was a necessary condition for deterrence. In a scenario in his book, Vision 2100, Sundarji concurs, writing, ‘[w]hen the dust settles, the damage to India may be grave, but Pakistan as we know it will cease to exist’ (Sundarji 2003: 191). However, he appears to differ with Subrahmanyam, in his stipulation for nuclear doctrine that, ‘efforts will continue after nuclear use to terminate hostilities after the lowest possible level of nuclear use’ (ibid.: 148). Major General D. Banerjee also envisages the possibility of senseless escalation writing, ‘dismemberment or destruction achieves no particular goal’ (1996: 47). He suggests, ‘the best course might be to attempt only an unacceptable level of damage’ (ibid.: 47). Limitation is required to be built into both conventional and nuclear doctrines to avoid the possibility of a Total War. Conventional limitation would prevent escalation into the nuclear domain, while nuclear escalation could be limited by restricting exchanges to ‘unacceptable damage’ or ‘lowest possible level’, rather than annihilation. Is this at all possible in a conflict setting in South Asia? It would be imprudent to venture into a war without an explicit Limited War doctrine as guide. While, a conventional doctrine exists, it also covers wider conventional war. Given the propensity of conventional escalation in the absence of an explicit Limited War doctrine, the nuclear angle may come to the fore unexpectedly. Sumit Ganguly and Paul Kapur highlight this, stating, ‘Indian doctrinal changes increase the likelihood that Indo-Pakistani crisis will escalate rapidly, both within the conventional sphere and from the conventional to the nuclear level . . . In the nuclear realm, India’s Cold Start strategy would likely force Pakistan to rely more heavily on its strategic deterrent’ (2010: 77). Since the Indian nuclear doctrine is in favour of higher order of nuclear punishment in case of nuclear first use against India, the likelihood of nuclear escalation is virtually built into the doctrine. Prakash Menon, cognisant of nuclear dangers, recommends, ‘India must move away from the strategy of massive retaliation. Limited war objectives are inherently incompatible with maximal penalties. To risk all for modest objectives appears nonsensical’ (Menon 2005: 160). This implies that there is scope for

The Limited War Concept


further evolution in the direction of limitation in both conventional and nuclear doctrines.

India’s Limited War Doctrine Given the need for war avoidance as a first step and limitation in case of its outbreak, both at the conventional and nuclear levels, this section examines the main tenets of India’s war doctrine. India has gone in for a doctrine positing limitation in conventional operations. This means that India cognisant of Pakistan’s nuclear threshold will ‘pull its punches’ in order avoid triggering them. The Indian Army’s doctrine has been evolved taking on board its operational experience and the nuclear context. It enables reacting to Pakistani terror provocations as also permits responsiveness to internal political compulsions resulting from urges in public opinion for ‘decisive’ action. The in-Service opinion largely does not foresee an ‘all out war’. The assumption is that the Indian political leadership, taken as weakkneed, will be deterred by likely Pakistani employment of nuclear weapons. India’s restraint in Operation Parakram is taken as evidence of its pusillanimity. The new doctrine provides a way out for the military to exercise its muscle. The military is to ensure that the nuclear threshold is not approached, even inadvertently. As the colloquial term ‘Cold Start’ suggests, the strategy is about operations from a ‘standing start’. This is to be achieved, as per the official Indian Army doctrine, through operational ‘readiness’. This is the closest reference to the term ‘Cold Start’ in the doctrine, with readiness described as: Readiness of the Indian Armed Forces to meet national emergencies is a facet of national level endeavour. It calls for a synergised effort by all instruments of the Government to ensure that these forces are moved to their areas of operations, fully-equipped and within an acceptable timeframe . . . On the part of the Armed Forces, they are responsible for ensuring that they are operationally ready, troops are in a high state of morale and units are appropriately trained to execute the missions assigned to them (ARTRAC 2004: 44).

Cold Start is expected to seek three goals — ‘inflict significant attrition on enemy forces; retain Pakistani territory for use as a postcolonial bargaining chip; and, by limiting the depth of Indian incursions, avoid triggering a Pakistani nuclear response’ (Ganguly and Kapur 2010: 76–77). The doctrine has been under preparation


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

since the Kargil War (Ganguly and Kapur 2010: 28). The idea is to ‘launch a large-scale offensive against Pakistan, within seventy-two to ninety-six hours of a mobilisation order’ (ibid.: 76). This is to be done by augmenting the offensive capabilities of India’s holding formations and shifting strike corps to bases closer to Pakistan (ibid.: 76). The logic is that ‘small and few’ and ‘flexible conventional response strategies’ are better than ‘large and many’ and ‘massive conventional response strategies’ in conflict with a nuclear backdrop (Kapoor 2010: 4). The belief underscoring the doctrine is that Pakistan has a high nuclear threshold. This owes to the working of Indian deterrence based on the promise that Pakistan would ‘cease to exist’ as a consequence to the Indian retaliation to first use. This presupposes that war would be a short duration one, limited at best to two–three weeks. Therefore, the aim is to deliver a military blow in the shortest possible time frame. This logic has not gone uncontested. Prakash Menon has expressed his reservations on conventional responses to problems at the sub-conventional level. In his unpublished doctoral thesis at Madras University (2005), he writes, ‘[w]ar is therefore increasingly replaced by threats and brinkmanship . . . which emerges as a substitute to war waging . . . Brinkmanship however tends to treat escalation as a strategy and bestows undue faith in deterrence’ (Menon 2005: 153–54). To him such brinkmanship is based on a ‘misplaced’ faith in deterrence and, therefore, it is important to prepare for the consequences of failure (ibid.: 155). The fundamental problem is the clash between two paradigms of military security — to fight and win the war (conventional paradigm) and the other in which war avoidance is the goal of military preparations (nuclear paradigm) (ibid.: 155). There arises disconnect between military force application and political objectives. In his words, the problem is: [t]he nature and scope of political objectives determine the expanse of conventional space required by the military. The moot question has been whether the perceived conventional space is sufficient to meet the military’s need to ensure achievement of given political objectives . . . There is thus considerably difficulty in achieving substantial political objectives through war . . . conventional space is restricted by the lack of political space (Menon 2005: 157).

In a situation where both India and Pakistan are armed with nuclear weapons, conflict avoidance must be a political objective

The Limited War Concept


(ibid.: 160). The military implications are in ‘punitive strikes and geographically confined skirmishes emerge as the political pre-ferences albeit with questionable ability to produce substantial and enduring strategic effect’ (ibid.). This possibility of conflict other than war has been mentioned in the Army doctrine thus, ‘[t]here may also be other methods of preparation for war even without ordering general mobilization’ (ARTRAC 2004: 44). Menon opines that since restricted conventional space is available, military preparations must focus on the ‘feasible’ forms of war. This to him comprises punitive strikes without posturing of strategic reserves (Menon 2005: 160). It is for this reason he deems, ‘Limited War in the Indo-Pak context may not have been born as yet and it is doubtful that whether it will survive its birth’ (Menon 2005: 160). This insight brings the narrative to the juncture at which even Limited War is seen as having its limits in providing for India’s strategic predicament in the nuclear age.

Limiting War: A Necessity The final section briefly spelt out the nature of the Limited War doctrine and the debate that has revolved around in India. As there is no explicitly written document for the Limited War doctrine, it has been traced through the doctrinal tenets that testify to a Limited War paradigm in the Service documents and through the informed commentaries (Ahmed 2012a). These commentaries are the products of the information age in India and bespeak of a vibrant strategic culture ‘under construction’. The intent has been to set the stage for the remainder of the book. The chapter has traced the origin of Limited War thinking in strategic theory and its evolution abroad through the period of the Cold War. It has then briefly touched on India’s own tryst with the concept. It is clear that the Limited War concept has a distinguished pedigree and has had illustrious proponents and practitioners. It has provided answers for the problems posed by the expansion of war into approximating Clausewitz’s Absolute War with the advent of nationalism and the industrial age. The culmination in the trend of Total War has been the arrival of the atomic weapon. Limited War conceptualising has thereafter acquired a momentum, given the urgency to preclude Total War in an era of nuclear plenty.


3 Doctrinal Change

Shifting Doctrinal Gears


he 1971 War is a benchmark in the India–Pakistan strategic relationship. With Pakistan divided, India gained a pre-eminent position as a regional power. Henceforth, India became the status quoist and stronger power, while Pakistan remained the weaker, revisionist one. Sisir Gupta had identified Pakistan’s revisionist aims as: ‘to bring about a revision of the political map of the region, in terms of the distribution of both territory and power as between the two countries of the subcontinent’ (1970: 423). Over the years, the significance of 1971 as a watershed became evident, with Pakistan attempting to redress the power asymmetry. To overcome its weakness, Pakistan, resolved soon after to acquire nuclear weapons (Cohen 1984: 152–59). It acquired a nuclear delivery capability with the intention to offset the power asymmetry, which its military perceived to be in India’s favour (Narang 2009: 156). The Pakistan army was determined to pay back India for the humiliation of 1971. A proxy war was launched by Pakistan’s military once it took over the political centre stage after removing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto from the country’s premiership. This changed India’s strategic orientation and led to further doctrinal developments within the military. Besides this structural factor there were other considerations too. The 1970s witnessed the passing of the Nehruvian paradigm of interstate politics and advent of a more realist bias called the ‘Indira doctrine’. Its ingredients were bilateralism and reciprocity with neighbours and scepticism of great power’s role and interest in India’s neighbourhood, including its maritime area of influence (Raja Mohan 2001). Internally, the country passed through the Emergency, the rise of the underprivileged class and their democratic

Doctrinal Change


representation and ascendance of conservatism in internal politics. These political changes along with changing power indices since the globalisation-induced liberalisation of early 1990s have made India increasingly sensitive to the view that as a global player of consequence, it would need to bear its share of responsibility for the global order. It is more sensitive to power and the utility of its instruments, including the military. Ayesha Siddiqua, a noted Pakistani military sociologist, observes this linkage in India’s case, writing: ‘Much of this change is linked with India’s growing desire to establish itself as a global power. The upcoming and affluent middle class and the Indian diaspora have a relatively aggressive stance so far as national power is concerned, which adds to the military’s relative influence’ (2011: 180). This shift in strategic culture is reflected in the movement from a defensive to an assertive strategic orientation. The military implication has been proactive, as against a defensive, military doctrine. The other impluse shaping Indian military doctrine has been organisational. This has brought about changes in the military’s self-image and resulted in an offensive orientation of military doctrines. There has been an overflow of conventional threats and settings from the traditional preoccupations of the military. Therefore, instead of becoming a ‘war deterring’ military in the nuclear age, the military has remained largely a ‘war waging’ one. The military sociologist, Charles Moskos, brings out the distinction between the two, modelling the latter on the mode of traditional militaries in the Second World War and the former on the militaries that witnessed the Cold War. The parameters of divergence between the two are in terms of absorption of technology, size, intake, retention and training standards, compensation, institutional versus occupational ethos, etc. (Moskos 1994: 136). By this yardstick, the Indian military is only evolving towards the war deterring end of the continuum. However, its readiness levels, the military’s Cold Start doctrine and attendant sister Service’s doctrines are ‘war waging’ ones. They help perpetuate the military’s institutional interest into the nuclear age. The military doctrine is both a product and an evidence of the change and has culminated in a Limited War doctrine that borders on compellence, which is counter to the expectation that in light of the risks (Chari et al. 2008: 198) in a nuclear backdrop, there would


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be a less aggressiveness (Kapur 2005: 9). While analysing the reason why this expectation has not been met, it emerges that Limited War doctrine has enabled the military to exploit the gap between the sub-conventional and nuclear levels. The military perceives a space between the two in which it can reasonably exercise its conventional advantage. Therefore, even as nuclearisation has made major war unthinkable, the option of Limited War remains an alternative. This chapter reviews the developments in doctrines, strategic and military, in India since the 1971 war. It seeks to show the movement of the Indian war doctrine from a defensive and reactive strategic doctrine towards one which is more proactive and offensive with respect to Pakistan. The chapter is divided into three parts. Part I reviews developments in strategic doctrine and its influence on the military and nuclear domains in India. It does so by taking a decadal look at the interplay of strategic doctrines of India and Pakistan. This background is important to understand the antecedents of the ‘Cold Start’ doctrine, which is studied more closely in Part II. On the other hand, Part III, brings in the nuclear dimension in the form of India’s nuclear doctrine of 2003 so as to elaborate on the inter-relationship between India’s conventional doctrine and nuclear doctrine. It highlights the disjuncture between the two doctrines and suggests directions of reconciliation.

PART I Changes in Strategic Orientation Over the last three decades, India’s strategic doctrine has shifted from defensive to deterrence that virtually borders on compellence (Basrur 2006: 80–101). The change can be studied in three phases. The first phase was the shift from ‘strategic defensive’ of the seventies to ‘strategic offensive’ of the eighties; the second phase was of India being on the strategic defensive till the turn of the century. The third phase is the present one in which India has moved to the strategic offensive. The various military doctrines in the three phases of India’s doctrinal history have been examined in subsequent sections, respectively. The defensive nature of India’s earlier strategic doctrine can be discerned from the manner in which India met three separate

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onslaughts of the Chinese. This has been described in the Ministry of Defence Annual Report after the 1962 debacle: Our frontier in NEFA . . . was subjected to a fresh aggression by the Chinese on 8th September of 1962, when they intruded into our territory in the Tsedong area in the Kameng Frontier Division. Subsequently, on the morning of 20th October the Chinese launched a sudden and massive attack with overwhelming superiority . . . and forced our troops to withdraw from the Tsedong area to Lumpu, from there to Tawang, and further to the rear . . . After a lull of a few days, the Chinese after regrouping and further preparations mounted another offensive in November 1962. Our troops had to give up positions in Jang, Se La, and Bomdi La under considerable pressure . . . . At midnight on 21/22 November, the Chinese announced ceasefire and withdrawal proposals. While we were not party to these proposals, we did not do anything to disturb the ceasefire (MoD 1962–63: 1).

By the time of the 1965 War India had learnt its lessons in terms of understanding military power. Not only did India contest the Rann of Kutch aggression, but it also took over the Haji Pir Pass in late August 1965 and opened up the Punjab front to offset Pakistani Operation Grand Slam in Akhnur Sector in early September. This was under the leadership of Lal Bahadur Shastri. Nevertheless, India agreed to a ceasefire before any substantial gains could be made and, later, returned the Haji Pir Pass to Pakistan. The offensive approach adopted culminated in the 1971 War. In this war India launched a pre-meditated, multi-dimensional strategic plan involving a multi-pronged offensive military operation for the liberation of East Pakistan. Thereafter, as the victor in 1971 War, India was a satisfied regional power. During an introspective decade after the 1971 War, Pakistan sought to undercut the power asymmetry. Its military, after assuming political power, also tried to avenge itself. In the later part of the first phase, Pakistan adopted a posture of strategic offensive to the extent of launching a revisionist proxy war in Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir (Koithara 2004: 22). This was in keeping with its practice since Independence of using irregular forces against India and was evident in its employment of tribal lashkars in 1947 (Marwah 2009: 30). The 1965 Operation Gibraltar (Cloughley 1999: 68), a prelude to the conventional Operation Grand Slam (ibid.: 72), once again


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witnessed infiltration of irregular forces into Kashmir (Joshi 1999: 212). Later, the offensive on the sub-conventional plane was enabled by the strategic opportunity provided to it by India’s mismanagement of its internal security, initially in Punjab (Koithara 2004: 41) and later in Kashmir (ibid.: 43). Taking advantage of India’s internal problems, Pakistan has attempted to tie India down in manpowerintensive counter-insurgency operations (ibid.: 86) and in holding terrain of marginal strategic importance in Siachen (Cloughley 1999: 291) and later in Kargil (Chari et al. 2008: 126). With India’s regional power ambitions peaking in the mid-eighties, Pakistan’s attempts to undercut India also rose correspondingly. The second phase, beginning in the early nineties, witnessed a defensive India. Beset with coalition-era politics and managing a difficult transition to liberalisation of its economy, an eclipse of the strategic profile occurred after the high point of late eighties. A precipitate drop in the defence budgets was brought on by liberalisation and an introspective polity (Joshi 1992: 79; Singh 1999: 219–20). Defence allocation plummeted from a record high of 3.86 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1986–87 to an abysmal 2.38 per cent of the GDP in 1995–96 (Mehta 2004a: 6). The drop in budgets was to an extent because of diversion of resources for the nuclear deterrent. This was later revealed by Narasimha Rao to the Kargil Review Committee (Verghese 2010: 428). Though Pakistan was in adverse economic and political circumstances, resulting from withdrawal of US support at the end of the Cold War and, later, because of sanctions imposed on it in the wake of the Chagai tests, apparent decline in the efficacy of Indian conventional deterrence further emboldened it (Haqqani 2005: 247). The climax of this was witnessed in the Kargil War on the conventional plane in 1999 and in the Parliament attack on the sub-conventional plane in December 2001. The cumulative impact of these two attacks on India (Kapur 2009: 202), in the backdrop of rising Indian power, expanding defence budgets and growing conservatism in Indian polity, led to a proactive and offensive Indian strategic doctrine. Coercive diplomacy was attempted in Operation Parakram (Raja Mohan 2003: 196–203). The resulting hardened strategic posture has been likened by analysts to compellence (Chari et al. 2008: 154–55; Kampani 2002) and found expression in military doctrines predicated on proactive offensives,

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but cognisant of the nuclear reality. The incorporation of the term ‘massive’ in India’s declaratory nuclear doctrine is evidence of the hardening strategic posture. However, the offensive doctrine was not employed to deal with the November 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai. This indicates yet another shift in India’s strategic doctrine within a decade. The offensive strategic posture of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was replaced by a strategy of restraint adopted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Changes in Military Doctrine The Seventies The seventies saw both states, India and Pakistan, in a defensive mode. K. Subrahmanyam, the then Director, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, outlined the national security policy requiring, ‘India to develop and keep at readiness adequate forces to deter China and Pakistan from launching an attack either jointly or individually and in case deterrence fails to repel the aggression effectively’ (Subrahmanyam 1972: 48). In the Indo-Pak front this involved taking defence behind newly-created canal defences and ‘ditch cum bundhs (embankments) (DCB)’ (Sood and Sawhney 2003: 150). This was made possible due to the World Bank sponsored Indus Water Treaty and the loans made available to the states to develop their respective water systems. Both states had started construction of these canals and anti-flood measures in the sixties. These acquired a pronounced defensive orientation. In the 1965 War the existence of the Icchogil Canal saved Pakistan from more consequential losses in the Punjab sector. The defensive military doctrine shaped itself along artificial geographical features across the Indo-Gangetic watershed (Thomas and Mansingh 1994: 360–64, 435). The defences are reminiscent of the pre-World War II Maginot Line along the Franco-German border and the more contemporary Bar Lev Line along the east at the back of the Suez Canal. This involved, in the main, holding territory based on the obstacle system with infantry and armour spaced out in penny packets to provide immediate counter-attack reserves. At the strategic level, two armoured divisions were available for counter offensives and, if necessary, offensives. This was one of two doctrinal lessons of the 1965 War, highlighted by then Brigadier S. K. Sinha,


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writing in the centenary issue of the Journal of the United Services Institution: It is only through military preparedness that a nation can defend its frontiers against any external threat. And defence does not merely mean waiting to be attacked at the enemy’s point of own choosing. It requires the defender to retaliate so that through counter-offensive the aggressor may be frustrated and defeated (Sinha 1970: 401).

The seventies witnessed the impact of the loss of Vietnam War on the US military in particular, and, militaries of the world in general. The doctrinal effervescence in the US, alongside the Operational Manoeuvre Group concept of the Soviet Union, had an impact on shaping the thinking of the militaries. The Arab–Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973 had an impact on both offensive and defensive doctrinal thought. Emulation of such thought by India and Pakistan was made possible through access to writings on these subjects and through cross fertilisation of these ideas in courses attended by Indian and Pakistani officers. For instance, the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) set up in the US in 1973 (Chapman 2009: 17) led to the setting up of the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) by India. The organisational innovations in the US Army, such as the Reorganised Objective Army Division (ROAD) to operate as the earlier Pentomic division in a nuclear battlefield (ibid.: 17) stimulated similar thinking in India. General Sundarji’s brainchild, the Reorganised Plains Infantry Division (RAPID) was the outcome of such emulation. He had done a course in the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in the late 1960s in the US. Doctrinally, the TRADOC’s Field Manual (FM) 100–5, the outcome of the work of Dupuy, the first commander of TRADOC (ibid.: 18), and the work of his successor, Don Starry, on Air-Land battle, published in August 1982 (ibid.: 19), were observed with considerable professional interest in India. As a result, manoeuvre warfare became the ‘buzzword’. K. K. Hazari, later member of the Kargil Review Committee, in his dissertation while at the National Defence College (NDC) in 1973, reflected on the ‘Reorganisation of the Army’. He advocated mechanisation, a view that was gaining currency then in light of the famous victory of 1971. ‘The forces assigned against her (Pakistan) must, therefore, not only have the capability to effectively defend the

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entire border . . . but they must also possess the necessary potential to undertake one or more offensives inside enemy territory. The Army must also be geared to take to the field at short notice and must be suitably organised to achieve decisive results in a short confrontation’ (Hazari 1973: 5). His thoughts presaged the mechanisation that followed and his insistence on forces on ‘short notice’ has a hint of ‘Cold Start’ in it. He went on to outline the nature of the offensive capability required: Ideally the Army must have the potential to launch two simultaneous major offensives in the plains — one each in the Punjab and Rajasthan sectors . . . In the past, the Army’s main offensive has been launched in the Punjab sector . . . However, now that an extensive network of fortifications and obstacles has come into being in the Punjab and this has severely restricted the scope of mobile operations, it would be necessary to consider shifting the centre of gravity of Army’s future operations from this sector to the Rajasthan sector . . . Whatever the choice of the sector for the main offensives, the offensive component of the Army for the plains sector should consist of three Army corps — two for the main offensive and one for the subsidiary offensive (ibid.: 8).

The seeds of mechanisation are easily traced to India’s spectacular advance into East Pakistan. Ravi Rikhye, reflecting on the contours of the new armoured force, writes, ‘[a] new armoured force for India is the only way we can decisively defeat Pakistan instead of continually being forced to accept virtual stalemate’ (Rikhye 1973: 144). The idea was to create a breach in enemy defences with the mechanised infantry and send in the armour through the gap created into enemy depth areas for creating a paralysis in the mind of the enemy commander, besides disrupting, destroying and defeating the enemy in detail (Rikhye 1990: 323). After the 1971 war, India converted its II Corps that had been raised in the run up to the war and had played a role in liberating Bangladesh, into a strike corps by raising an armoured division. The 1975 study group under Lt. Gen. Krishna Rao, that also included K. Sundarji, took forward the process in organisational and material terms (Gupta 1997: 49). Sundarji has since been linked to mechanisation, having taken keen interest in the raising of the Mechanised Infantry in the early eighties and, thereafter, practicing the new concepts in the controversial Exercise Brasstacks (Roy 2010: 165).


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

The Eighties During the Cold War, in the superpower rivalry, General Zia transformed Pakistan into a ‘frontline’ state following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This led to military and economic aid from Reagan’s US, which he had earlier rejected during the Carter regime, terming the aid as ‘peanuts’ (Cloughley 1999: 278–87; Cohen 1984: 151). The military aid from the US was used to strengthen its military posture against India (Cloughley 1999: 288), even as a measure of irregular warfare resources and know-how from the mujahideen war were diverted towards forging and sustaining the proxy war, first in Punjab and later in Kashmir. Owing to rising security concerns, inter alia, India embarked on a major programme of modernisation and mechanisation of its defences. The strategic doctrine, though continuing as defensive and reactive as unexceptionable in a status quoist and stronger power, was based on a counter-offensive capability of two strike corps. This suggests a strategic doctrine of deterrence based on a conventionally administered ‘deterrence by punishment’. Nevertheless, the aggressive Exercise Brasstacks under General Sundarji as Chief in 1986–87 bordered on compellence, intended to make Pakistan desist from aiding Khalistani terrorists (Koithara 2004: 42). The change towards what is known as Plan 2000 (Tellis 1997: 27), for an army geared for the turn of the millennium, was brought about by Exercise Digvijay in 1983 under General Krishna Rao, with Lt Gen K. Sundarji as the commanding general. The better known effort, however, was Exercise Brasstacks (Chari et al. 2008: 44). The Plan was ambitious and envisaged four strike corps, comprising four armoured divisions, eight mechanised divisions and seven RAPIDs (Rikhye 1990: 319). An air assault division was also on the cards. Conceptual innovations under the tutelage of Sundarji led to the organisational movement. With two combat divisions on the ‘order of battle’ of Southern Command, the Desert (XII) Corps was raised at Jodhpur during the volatile days of Operation Trident, a crisis brought on by Exercise Brasstacks (Indian Army website n.d.). The desert sector was once considered a useful pressure point against Pakistan, in the mid-fifties by General Shrinagesh, but was rejected owing to lack of resources to sustain operations. Shrinagesh had observed, ‘[t]here will always be temptation to disrupt Pakistan’s lines of communication between the two complexes of the north

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and the south, by moving across the desert. This, however, would be a very hazardous operation’ (Issar 2009: 284). Prudence proved right in the bogging down of the Pakistani armoured attack at Laungewala in 1971. However, with mechanisation, mobility was no longer a problem. Desert defences were prepared based on the ‘nodal point’ concept, with important communication centres being held as ‘nodes’. These were to be denied to the enemy depriving him of sustenance and movement, critical in desert terrain. All along the front, counter-attack reserves based on armour at tactical and operational levels were held. At the strategic level the reserves were based on the strike corps for counter offensives (Sood and Sawhney 2003: 150). The response could be in the form of a riposte, close on the heels of the enemy offensive to force him to recoil. Alternatively, it could be a counter offensive at a self-chosen time and place. Such formations could be dual-tasked to carry out offensives as well. An offensive could be a limited offensive or a full-fledged one. A favoured scenario of the latter kind was in bifurcation of Pakistan at the midriff through offensives in the desert sector or striking at politically important centres (Tellis 1997: 27). The thinking along these lines was already extant. This culminated in the doctrinal thinking encapsulated by its progenitor, Sundarji, in the following words: The strategy of conventional defence consists of two parts. The first is a dissuasive part; a strong defensive position, which can extract a heavy toll from the attacker . . . The second part of the strategy is the almost axiomatic counter offensive, at a time and place of the defender’s choice . . . The threat of counter offensive, and the certainty of heavy damage to the original attacker, is the deterrent part of the equation (Sundarji 1996: 44).

The Nineties Pakistan’s response was along the two planes, nuclear and sub-conventional whereas India’s response was in the conventional domain. The result was the ‘stability/instability paradox’ in operation. Stability at the nuclear level after covert nuclearisation was popularly seen as giving rise to instability at the sub-conventional level. The concept was articulated in the Cold War by Glenn Snyder (1965).


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

He was discussing the situation of stability at the nuclear level, brought about by the mutual assured destruction (MAD) capability of the two sides, leading to instability in peripheral areas across the globe during the Cold War. Michael Krepon describes its working in the Cold War context as, ‘The United States and Soviet Union managed to avoid nuclear and conventional warfare during the cold war, while jockeying for advantage in myriad of ways, including proxy wars and a succession of crises that became surrogates for direct conflict’ (Krepon 2003: 1). According to the concept, ‘lowering the probability that a conventional war will escalate to a nuclear war, along pre-emptive and other lines, reduces the danger of starting a conventional war; thus, this low likelihood of escalation, referred to here as ‘stability’, makes conventional war less dangerous, and possibly, as a result, more likely’ (Chari et al. 2008: 148, 199). However, as mentioned, in the South Asian case, stability at the higher levels — nuclear and conventional — led to instability at the sub-conventional level (Bajpai 2009a: 171). Rajesh Rajagopalan observes this dichotomy between the Cold War case and the South Asian one, writing that, ‘the stability/instability paradox was a proposition about the relationship between the nuclear and conventional military balances, not between nuclear and sub-conventional conflicts as is mistakenly assumed in much of the literature about the proposition in South Asia’ (Rajagopalan 2006b: 5). He contests the applicability of the paradox to the India–Pakistan setting, noting that, first, the instability obtains at the sub-conventional level as against the conventional level as posited in the concept; and, second, that the insurgency in Kashmir does not have a direct link with nuclearisation. The latter is a result of Pakistani propensity to interfere in India’s internal problems in any case (ibid.: 4, 11). Paul Kapur makes the argument in his book Dangerous Deterrent (2007) that the situation is not one of ‘stability/instability’ paradox, but instead one of ‘instability/instability’ paradox. His view is that both states have exhibited militarised behaviour since nuclearisation, implying there is instability at the higher nuclear level as well (ibid.: 10). He contests the popularly held understanding of ‘stability/instability’ paradox and articulates that Pakistan has attempted to build in instability at the nuclear level to escape Indian conventional punishment. Instead of stability at the nuclear level leading to lower level instability, the potential for a conflict to

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go nuclear that enables Pakistani provocation at lower levels (Kapur 2009: 185). While Pakistan sought to use the nuclear cover to launch a risky sub-conventional proxy war, India attempted to use the threat of conventional war and thereby the risk of nuclear war to deter proxy war. Thus, both states were offensive at different levels: India at the conventional and Pakistan at the sub-conventional. This made for instability at all the three levels. The impact of nuclearisation has led to deepening of this situation, instead of an optimistic prognostication that nuclearisation could result in both states resolving their differences since the military option was no longer feasible. Saira Khan makes the argument in her book, Nuclear Proliferation and the Transformation of Conflict (2009), that nuclearisation has led to protraction of conflict. Both states prefer to engage on non-controversial issues while the significant ‘root’ causes remain unaddressed. Thus, sub-conventional level instability is prolonged, with no incentives to bring about its termination. This provides the theoretical backdrop the adoption of a more offensive posture by India during the early years like millennium. For India, the effects of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) sojourn and liberalisation-related cuts in defence budgets led to the military coming under considerable strain (Babbage and Gordon 1992: 14). Fortunately, the draw down in the Cold War led to an exit of the US from the region, leaving Pakistan without a strategic lifeline. India created a third strike corps to refurbish its conventional deterrent. In keeping with the reorganisation of the Indian Army as per Army Plan 2000, a Strike Corps had to be raised in the southern theatre. The HQ IPKF was re-designated as HQ 21 Corps in April 1990 (Indian Army website, n.d.). This became the offensive corps of Southern Command stationed at Bhopal in July 1990. At the same time, Plan 2000, the brainchild of Sundarji, appears to have been revised (Badri-Maharaj 2000: 40–41) by late nineties; perhaps on account of the nuclear developments in Pakistan. By the end of the decade, India went in for nuclear tests for the credibility for its ‘credible minimum deterrent’. Simultaneously, it attempted to engage Pakistan as a mature nuclear power through the Lahore process. It is apparent that the strategic thinking behind this move had not taken cognisance of the Pakistan Army’s defining position on Pakistan’s national strategy. The Pakistan’s army mounted a military challenge in Kargil as part of its attempt to internationalise


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the Kashmir issue, among other reasons (Chari et al. 2008: 124–28). Unsurprisingly, the decade ended in the Kandahar hijack, setting the surcharged context for the turn of the millennium that culminated in the dastardly terror attack on the Parliament of India on 13 December 2001.

The New Millennium (2000s) For over a decade India has been tied down in the proxy war in a ‘bleeding war that cost the Army one Kargil every 16 months’ (Mehta 2004a: 6). The firing across the Line of Control (LoC) has resulted in the expenditure of `1000 crore. These pressures have resulted in a ‘reduced conventional advantage over Pakistan from 1:1.7 at 1971 to 1:1.2 at the time of Op (Operation) Parakram’ (ibid.: 6). In response to the proxy war, India prefers ‘coercive diplomacy’ by mobilising its forces so as not to be deflected from its economic trajectory. More importantly, India’s military was unable to bring its conventional power to bear in a viable timeframe. The Indian doctrine of employment of strike corps has not sufficiently evolved to cater to the present-day nuclear environment. The outcome of the ‘twin peaks’ crisis of 2002–03 was along two lines, political and military. The political outcome has been underappreciated. To Ashok Mehta, the ‘CBMs (confidence building measures) and peace process were a direct outcome of Parakram’. He is of the view that ‘Operation Parakram (2004a: 6) demonstrated that if pushed beyond a point, India is prepared to deter Pakistan from its policy of jehad despite the nuclear risk’ (ibid.). This is seconded by a military compatriot, Vinay Shankar, who writes: ‘Parakrama (sic) has to be viewed as a continuum. Musharraf has just done what we wanted him to do — commit to preventing terrorist activity from Pakistani soil — without us having gone to war . . . the politicomilitary strategy as it has been played out inclusive of Parakrama (sic) has worked well’ (2004: 12). At the strategic level, Ashok Mehta notes that: [t]wo strategic lessons emerged from Parakram. First, India no longer enjoys strategic autonomy to go to war at a time and place of its choosing. Second, it has lost the strategic space even for limited war against Pakistan. If the window for limited war under nuclear shadow has all but closed for good, the government and the military must do some creative

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thinking in rebuilding deterrence and crafting usable strategies that will impose costs and restraints on Pakistan (2004b: 6).

Ashok Mehta’s ruing of the lost opportunity owed largely to the fact that military doctrine had not evolved apace with nuclear developments. The first lesson learnt is brought out by Vinay Shankar: In our case just movement from cantonments to likely deployment areas under ideal conditions takes 10 to 12 days. Then there are the problems of recalling soldiers from leave and other commitment, besides addressing the problems of equipment deficiencies and serviceability. For an offensive of this nature the desirable level of personnel and equipment availability is above 90 percent. Our normal peace time status is at 60 to 70 percent. To maintain readiness levels for protracted periods above this can be expensive and stressful. Equally national level offensives are never launched in anger, these must be deliberate operations executed at a time and place of our choosing (2004: 16).

The second lesson is that the intended employment of strike corps has not changed despite nuclearisation. A third lesson is in restructuring of the holding corps for additional offensive punch (Sawhney 2004: 7) so as to conduct its defensive task offensively. India’s doctrinal thinking on Limited War in nuclear conditions, initiated after Kargil War, gained traction from the lessons learnt. The doctrine of 2004 was the outcome of Limited War thinking (Ladwig 2008b: 159–60).

PART II Background It is widely held that India’s wars have been limited wars (Roy 2010: 144; Singh 2000: 2183). Military historian, Kaushik Roy (2010: 163), quotes General K. Sundarji on this aspect as stating, ‘[d]uring the last three wars fought by the two of them against each other (India and Pakistan), they have displayed enormous restraint and refrained from wilfully targeting civilians, industry or economic infrastructure which more than many in the West have done’ (2003: 74). George Fernandes as Defence Minister said that there has been no war initiated by India; that wars have been kept limited; that no civilian targets have been attacked; and the wars are terminated at


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the earliest opportunity (PIB 2000). In case of India, ‘gentlemanly’ nature of the wars on the subcontinent, is taken as evidence of their ‘limited’ nature in terms of aims, means, extent, duration and intensity. The subsequent negotiated settlements at Tashkent and Simla (later Shimla) are seen as clinching the argument. According to Ashley Tellis, India’s wars have been limited on account of limited aims. He defines limited aims as aims designed to secure objectives short of destroying the opposing state (Tellis 2000a: 18). Bharat Karnad also believes that none of India’s wars have been Total Wars. He attributes their remaining limited due to cultural, religious and historical affinities (Karnad 2005a: 243). Indo-Pak wars were once famously characterised by ‘Monty’ Palit as ‘communal riots with tanks’!

Doctrinal Antecedents The Indian Army’s first attempt at reducing doctrine to paper was in 1998. It was published in the form of a book titled Fundamentals, Doctrine Concepts — Indian Army (1998). This was a case of momentary glasnost, for the book was later placed in the ‘Restricted’ category. A copy of the book kept in the Colonel Pyaralal Library at the USI is no longer available. The 1998 ARTRAC document sought capabilities ‘across the entire spectrum from high intensity conventional war to LIC’ (ARTRAC 1998: 10) with the idea being, ‘to fight the war in enemy territory’. The method is to deliver ‘a sledge hammer blow to achieve decisive victory’ (ibid.: 11; Sawhney 2004: 7; Sawhney and Sood 2003: 151). The doctrine also suggests ‘Minimum Nuclear Deterrence’ (ARTRAC 1998: 65) in the nuclear field based on a triad of delivery systems. The document favours a force with both dissuasive and reprisal capabilities (ibid.: 11). With the document treating only ‘foreign and defence policies together . . . as National Security Policy’, there is an absence of discussion on the economics of the acquisition of a triad nuclear capability and an ‘across the spectrum’ conventional military capability (ibid.: 6). This is suggestive of a narrowly military approach to nuclear weapons, taking their military utility in isolation. In the nineties India was passing through a period of straitened economic circumstances and the country’s economics needed to be factored. However, military doctrine has to be integrated with the wider strategic doctrine of the state and cannot be in opposition to or conceived

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in isolation from it. Even if the military was out of the nuclear loop (Prakash 2009), it cannot be taken as being unaware of the onset of recessed deterrence. It also needs noting that the doctrine mentions only ‘minimum’ deterrence, testifying to existential deterrence underwriting India’s nuclear deterrence thinking earlier. The quest for ‘decisive victory’ is recommended despite this being both illusive and elusive and downright dangerous in the nuclear age. Though the document quotes Clausewitz’s ‘war is continuation of politics by other means’ (ARTRAC 1998: 16), it is oblivious of the corollary that an end state may preclude ‘decisive victory’. The document disapproves of a flexible nuclear response, stating, ‘in the context of the sub-continent, the nuclear doctrine of flexible response does not have any validity’ (ibid.: 50). It fails to see its applicability in respect of Pakistan and the correspondence between the India–Pakistan and USSR–NATO equation of the Cold War making Pakistani nuclear first use likely. For India to have a doctrine of nuclear retaliation to cause damage to an ‘unacceptable’ degree in response to Pakistani nuclear use in terms of ‘graduated deterrence’ reminiscent of the NATO (Lodhi 1999), would amount to expanding the war to Total War. In face of the Army’s ‘belief in fighting in enemy territory’ (ARTRAC 1998: 11), the nuclear threshold gets lowered, compelling nuclear first use by Pakistan. Military action in pursuit of ‘decisive victory’ (ibid.: 12), would render Pakistani nuclear use automatically as the ‘last defensive resort’ (ibid.: 62) and its consequent crossing of the threshold both ‘credible and morally acceptable’ (ibid.: 45). Clearly, the 1998 document was not in favour of Limited War. The reason for this could be that it was written immediately before the Pokhran and Chagai tests. Nevertheless, it appears oblivious to ‘recessed deterrence’ that prevailed then. The new circumstance of covert nuclearisation had once prompted General Sundarji to observe in the early nineties that the last conventional opportunity India had to discipline Pakistan was lost during Exercise Brasstacks (Chari et al. 2008: 67). The conventional military power built up in the eighties was rendered unusable with the advent of the Nuclear Age. The doctrine was, therefore, a vestige of conventional military thinking of the pre-nuclear era. That it lasted more than a decade since the dawn of the era in the mid-eighties, testifies of the great difficulty that attends getting an old idea out of the ‘military mind’!


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

Advent of Limited War Thinking Prior to the Kargil War, the logic was that nuclear weapons had made war recede as a policy option. The logic served to propel the Lahore peace initiative in February 1999. That the Indian military allowed itself to be caught off guard at Kargil indicates influence of the understanding (Chari et al. 2008: 142). The Pakistani military, on the other hand, discerned self-servingly that there existed a window of conventional opportunity between sub-conventional operations and the nuclear threshold. This explains their intrusion at Kargil (ibid.: 200). The Kargil War forced India to borrow a leaf out of Pakistani thinking (Chandran 2005: 39). The main idea was to restrict the space available to Pakistan at the subconventional level for conducting its proxy war (Chari et al. 2008: 147). Pakistan was seemingly emboldened to undertake the intrusion, thinking that its nuclear capability had neutralised India’s conventional capability. To undercut this logic, Limited War thinking was initiated to bring conventional war back into the reckoning (Sethi 2009: 307). The first discussion on Limited War was conducted on 5–6 January 2000 by a leading think tank, the Institute for Defence Services and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, at a national seminar on ‘The Challenge of Limited War: Parameters and Options’. At the seminar, the then Defence Minister, George Fernandes, observed: ‘India has understood the dynamics of limited war after it declared its nuclear weapons status. Nuclear weapons do not make war obsolete but simply imposed another dimension on the way warfare could be conducted’ (quoted in Singh 2000: 2180). He initiated the change to the offensive, noting: India has traditionally pursued a non-aggressive, non-provocative defence policy based on the philosophy of defensive defence. This represents the political doctrine of employing military power. But military efficiency will continue to demand the pursuit of the principle that “offence is the best manner of defence” (PIB: 2000).

Analysts have picked this up as ‘the first signal of India’s longawaited shift from its original “defensive defence” and “war prevention” military doctrines to a more positive post nuclear war-fighting doctrine’ (Singh 2000: 2180). This presages one of the principles of

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war stated in the doctrine as: ‘Offensive action is the chief means of achieving victory. It results from offensive spirit and helps in the seizure and maintenance of initiative’ (ARTRAC 2004: 30). Swaran Singh perceives this as amounting to ‘movement from “deterrence-through-denial” to “deterrence-through-punishment”’ with Limited War as the manner of inflicting punishment for proxy war transgressions (Singh 2000: 2180). During the Sundarji era, the ‘Deep Strike’ (Sood and Sawhney 2003: 154) doctrine, akin to ‘deterrence by punishment’, was rendered unusable with nuclearisation. Thus, a shift to Limited War under the nuclear shadow was inescapable. While the intention is to deter Pakistani proxy war, the proactive and offensive dimension of the doctrine equally enables compellence. The debate is taken forward by General V. P. Malik (2002), who argues, ‘in the changed Indo-Pak strategic environment, there is a likelihood of limited wars than an all out war’. He propagates the view that space for conventional operations exist between the sub-conventional and nuclear levels of war and that the ‘escalatory ladder can be climbed in a carefully controlled ascent wherein politico-diplomatic factors would play an important part’ (ibid.). He gives out his role in the genesis as under: In January 2000, when I spoke about the concept of limited conventional wars under the nuclear threshold at an international seminar in New Delhi, there was considerable uproar in the media and the strategic community, particularly in Pakistan. My articulation was pronounced as highly provocative . . . The limited conventional wars concept was prepared after going through the full conflict spectrum scenarios to find an answer to the Pakistani challenge below the nuclear threshold, other than launching a covert or a proxy war. I am happy to see that this concept and its realisation have been progressed and continuously refined since then (Malik 2010a).

The Army’s Conventional Doctrine The Army released its revised doctrine, the Indian Army Doctrine in 2004 (ARTRAC 2004), superseding the document of 1998. It is interesting to note that this doctrine carries no discussion of Limited War. It mentions Limited War just once in its diagram on the ‘Spectrum of Conflict’ (ibid.: 19). Yet, a judgement emerging from


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the Army War College (AWC) has it that the doctrine ‘defined an approach to limited wars in a nuclear environment’ (Kapoor 2010: 3). Limited War is subsumed in this understanding of Conventional War in the following way: It may be total or limited in terms of duration, the range of weapon systems employed, scope, objectives and its ultimate outcome. Given the prohibitive costs in terms of human lives and material, as well as the rising lethality of modern weapons, conventional war may be of short duration (ARTRAC 2004: 22).

The doctrine was released in two parts. The second part of the doctrine is classified. But the open source of the first part of the document is in two parts as well. The first part consisting of three chapters carries the Army’s position on aspects of the theory of war. The second part is equally consequential since it deals with conduct of operations. At the release of the doctrine, certain facets were mentioned by ‘sources’ in the military hierarchy to journalists that had lent the doctrine its name, ‘Cold Start’. News reports attributed to these sources that the doctrine is about eight rapidly-deployable ‘integrated battle groups’, with support drawn from the Navy and the Indian Air Force. These groups will be trained to make swift inroads into the enemy territory. The source is credited with saying, ‘[t]he idea is that the international community should not get the opportunity to intervene. Hence, the need for swift action starting from a “cold start”, instead of slow mobilisation’ (Pandit 2004a). This is the origin of the term ‘Cold Start’ to describe the Army’s new war doctrine in keeping with the Limited War concept. Sawhney attributes the term to the Army spokesman, Major General D. Summanwar (2004: 7). General Padmanabhan refers to the term first in a post-retirement interview: ‘You could certainly question why we are so dependent on our strike formations . . . and why my holding Corps doesn’t have the capability to do the same tasks from a cold start. This is something I have worked on while in office. Perhaps, in time, it will be our military doctrine’ (Swami 2004). The strategy is to change from the existing one of slow amassing of India’s three strike formations, headquartered in Mathura (I Corps), Ambala (II Corps) and Bhopal (XXI Corps), into preparation for war with these integrated battle groups (IBGs). There was an

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apparent delay in mobilisation in Operation Parakram (Pant 2007: 248). It had taken the Army almost a month to deploy its three strike corps in ‘launch pads’ along the Indo-Pakistan border. The strikes should be ‘limited’ and ‘calibrated’, to ensure nuclear weapons do not come into play. Some of its tenets on limitation are discussed ahead: 

Conflict (2004: 20) Today international mechanisms, including, the influence exercised by major powers, are in place to resolve or limit conflicts because of their potential to lead to undesired war. The State of War (ARTRAC 2004: 20) Disengagement from war is difficult because it develops its own dynamics and pace, which in themselves are unpredictable and could spin out of control. Strategic Perspective (ibid. : 34) Understanding the restrictions placed on military operations based on national policy. Exit Policy (2004: 37). Victory may not always be an appropriate term to describe the desired outcome of an operation; it may have to be defined in other terms such as reconciliation, stabilisation (acceptance of the status quo) or acceptance of an agreed peace plan. Attacking the Enemy’s Will (ibid.: 30). Conflict is subject to political, economic, ethical and moral constraints. These limit the freedom of military action.

The open source Part II of the Indian Army Doctrine has two significant chapters. Chapter 4 is on ‘Conduct of Operations’, with a section each on ‘Offensive and Defensive Operations’ and ‘Joint Operations’. The closest the doctrine gets to a tangential reference to the standing start of ‘Cold Start’ is in its stating that, ‘largescale mobilisation of forces would normally follow a firm decision at the highest level to adopt the military option with minimum loss of time’ (ARTRAC 2004: 47). Further it states, ‘[a]ll planning should aim to mobilise forces in the minimum possible time in order to take advantage of the many benefits that such a step offers’ (ibid.: 50). At another place is mention of mobilisation in the ‘shortest possible time’ (ibid.: 54). These lend credence to the term ‘Cold Start’.


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Once launched, forces conduct offensive operations as ‘a decisive form of winning a war. Their purpose is to attain the desired end state and achieve decisive victory’. Decisive operations are defined as those that ‘force the enemy to submit to one’s will . . . Enemy vulnerabilities should be targeted to achieve a clear-cut victory. Such operations will invariably be joint operations’ (ARTRAC 2004: 51). Such victories at tactical level are easy to concede, but gaining such victories at the operational level is to neglect the nuclear factor. Laconically, the doctrine makes a three line mention of the nuclear factor, ‘[f]uture operations will be conducted against a nuclear backdrop; all planning should take this important factor into account’ (ibid.: 52). Since the doctrine mentions that nuclear escalation can occur if a state attempts to avoid defeat (ibid.: 17), pursuing ‘decisive operations’ for ‘decisive’ or ‘clear-cut victory’ is to be out of sync with the strategic context. There is also a tendency away from limitation in the stipulations for the pivot corps and strike corps, restated ahead (ibid.: 55–56): 

Employment of Forces — Pivot or holding corps should be prepared to undertake offensive operations . . . and create ‘windows of opportunity’ for development of further operations. Strike Corps — Strike corps should be capable of being inserted into operational level battle, either as battle groups or as a whole, to capture or threaten strategic and operational objective(s) with a view to cause destruction of the enemy’s reserves and capture sizeable portions of territory.

The term ‘battle group’ mentioned earlier finds mention in strategic commentary as IBG. The strike corps remains a potent force that can be employed as a whole. This is antithetical in the nuclear context. This brings to fore the feature of duality in the doctrine in which there are elements in favour of limitation, even as a wider conventional war is not ruled out. Whether a conventional war is feasible in a nuclear backdrop is questionable. The doctrine is oblivious to this, with its spectrum of conflict heuristic including ‘Total’ and even ‘Global’ War in the category of conventional wars below the category Nuclear War (ibid.: 19).

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The Logic of Cold Start The Army’s 2004 document stresses manoeuvre warfare, jointness, information warfare, net-centric warfare and an ability to operate in nuclear conditions (Chapman 2009: 91). The aim is to undercut the impunity Pakistan enjoys at the sub-conventional level by catering for Limited War at the conventional level (Chari et al. 2008: 174–75). This injects instability at the nuclear-conventional level, thereby, in the expectation of the planners, bringing about stability, through a refurbished conventional deterrence, at the sub-conventional level. The doctrine is responsive to the ‘stability/instability’ paradox. The nascent ‘two front’ concept relies on a quick ‘Cold Start’ offensive to knock out Pakistan early so that the main effort can then be transferred to the more portentous developments on the eastern front against China (Ahmed 2010a). ‘Cold Start’, as the term suggests, is for early application of force in conflict. Cohen and Dasgupta believe that it is reminiscent of the European situation in the Cold War in which both armies were poised for speedy offensives, so as to enhance deterrence (2010: 59). The term deals with increasing speed of mobilisation and launch. The equivalent term in tactics is ‘attack from the line of march’ (Bakshi 2010: 46). This term is applicable on the Pakistan front alone. Therefore, it is more of strategy than a ‘doctrine’ as such. ‘Cold Start doctrine’ by this yardstick is a misnomer. ‘Cold Start’ is a colloquial way of terming the Army’s wider doctrine that attempts to move it from a lumbering giant, as revealed in 1999 and 2001–2 to a nimble, surefooted one (Cohen and Dasgupta 2010: 61). The early mobilisation is essentially to prevent Pakistani exploitation of the diplomatic card. This strategy will have operational dividend in terms of Indian attackers finding Pakistani defences under-prepared, given the little time available to defenders to reach and prepare defences and element of surprise (Malik 2010a). This will enable easier penetration of defences, thereby paralysing Pakistani response. This can lead up to the desired political dividend. It will also facilitate strategic surprise as dwelt on in the Doctrine: ‘Strategic surprise can herald both the beginning and the end of a war’ (ARTRAC 2004: 45). Mobilisation time differentials are seen as in Pakistan’s favour because of proximity of cantonments to the border (Kapur 2008: 88). Mobilisation is seen as a problematic exercise in the Indian democratic context as against the same effort


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in military-directed Pakistan. The Doctrine describes the mobilisation problem as: Military mobilisation in the Indian context involves considerable effort because of the wide geographical spread of the peacetime locations of our units and formations, the considerable extent of our borders and the multiplicity of agencies that need to coordinate their actions in order to make it effective (2004: 44).

Gurmeet Kanwal describes the strategy option in the following manner: The doctrine was premised on two major elements. Certain readjustments were carried out to enhance the offensive operations capability of “Pivot” corps (defensive or ground holding corps), so as to make it possible to launch offensive operations virtually from a “cold start” to deny Pakistan the advantage of early mobilisation . . . It is believed that the second element of the Cold Start doctrine conceptualises a number of “integrated battle groups” (IBGs; divisional-size forces) launching limited offensive operations to a shallow depth, to capture a long swathe of territory almost all along the international boundary. The success achieved by the IBGs would be exploited by one or more Strike Corps, where possible, but without crossing Pakistan’s nuclear red lines (Kanwal 2010).

Walter Ladwig writes that, ‘the goal of military operations would be to make shallow territorial gains, 50–80 kilometres deep, that could be used in post conflict negotiations to extract concessions from Islamabad’ (2008b: 165). According to a news report, ‘The plan now is to launch self-contained and highly-mobile “battle groups”, with Russian-origin T-90S tanks and upgraded T-72 M1 tanks at their core, adequately backed by air cover and artillery fire assaults, for rapid thrusts into enemy territory within 96 hours’ (Pandit 2009a: 1). The perceived advantages are that the alert and agile IBGs would be off-the-blocks faster. They would not pack much punch and, therefore, would keep below the nuclear threshold. They would, blitzkrieg-style, mentally paralyse the operational level leadership of the enemy. Lastly, they would present a smaller target for nuclear attack (Ladwig 2008b: 166–67). How the doctrine serves limitation is dependent on the strategy for the conflict. This in turn is subject to political aims and parameters of limitation. Insofar as the depth to which Indian troops would be

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launched would be dependent on aims set by the government and their translation into strategic ends by the military. This aspect is probably dealt with in the classified Part II of the Doctrine, since dealing with the nuclear backdrop has not been covered in Part I. It has been assessed that the political aims if necessary will be limited to avoid provocation, thereby indicating the influence of Limited War thinking in terms of constraints on political aims and military objectives (Subrahmanyam 2002). The problem of nuclear thresholds will remain, since war aims are difficult to achieve. The difficulty is evident in Kanwal’s discussion of possible aims, juggling between territorial aims and attrition, thus: The captured territory would act as a bargaining chip to force Pakistan to wind down its institutional support to extremists. The overall aim would also be to destroy the Pakistan Army’s war waging potential through the application of asymmetric firepower (Kanwal 2010). Bharat Karnad’s ‘Sialkot grab’ scenario (2002: 677–78; 2005a: 244) provides some clues on how India might resolve this problem. He visualises India cutting off a thirty mile deep swathe of territory, thereby threatening Pakistan’s ‘centre of gravity’ located in the urban centres in Punjab. To him, this will not entail a nuclear war as it will not threaten Pakistan’s survival. Limited War theorising in India has a utility for deterrence. It constricts Pakistan’s strategic space by making war ‘thinkable’. The publicity attending the release of the doctrine and the later theorising of the doctrine had three benefits. First, to prepare public opinion; second, to build pressure on Pakistan’s security apparatus by indicating a build-up of Indian resolve; and last, directed at the international community, to increase pressure on Pakistan. A provocatively named exercise, Exercise Poorna Vijay (Total Victory) under Lieutenant General J. J. Singh, later Chief of the Army Staff, was deliberately well-publicised to send the message of validation of the new doctrine for the new nuclear backdrop (Shrutikant 2001). Such posturing can be interpreted in terms of ‘rationality of irrationality’, contributing thereby to deterrence. In India’s case this requires an effort in the light of India’s studied posture, described by Ashley Tellis as ‘passivity and restraint’ (2000b: 71). The doctrine is also useful for dealing with the ‘two-front’ threat from China and Pakistan that has acquired currency of late. In a major doctrinal conference in late 2009, the Army Chief had reportedly mentioned at a closed door conference (Pandit 2009a: 1)


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that, ‘even as the armed forces prepare for their primary task of conventional wars they must also factor in the eventuality of “a two-front war” breaking out’. Such thinking has credible pedigree. Writing in wake of the 1971 victory on security in the coming decade, K. Subrahmanyam had stated: India will have to develop and keep at readiness adequate forces to deter China and Pakistan from launching an attack either jointly or individually and in case deterrence fails to repel aggression effectively . . . faced with the possibility of two adversaries, our aim must be to hold one and reach a quick military decision with the other. It is obvious that the latter can only be Pakistan. Consequently, our force requirements must be planned to achieve this aim (Subrahmanyam 1972: 53).

Presumably, in such a contingency, taking care of Pakistan through a quicker decision would help India concentrate on China.

Part III India’s Nuclear Doctrine Doctrinal change described in the preceding section has as its backdrop the advent of the nuclear era in the subcontinent. The changed nuclear reality by the late eighties also added a nuclear dimension to doctrinal thinking. While in the nineties the doctrine remained unarticulated, a ‘recessed deterrent’ based on existential deterrence was assumed (Basrur 2001b: 195). This implied that the nuclear capability was not ‘weaponised’, but was capable of being fielded in a short time frame. Nuclear weapons were taken as ‘political weapons’ meant for the deterrence of enemy nuclear use alone (Sethi 2009: 205). India stood by NFU and for existential deterrence. The weapons were to be used in a counter-value mode in case of enemy nuclear first use. The aim was to avoid stockpile build-ups that occurred among nuclear weapon powers in the Cold War. This is the connotation of ‘minimum’ in India’s nuclear doctrine. The advantages of this posture are that a nuclear arms race is prevented; India’s conventional superiority can continue to count; the non-proliferation agenda can be kept at bay; and lastly, the missile delivery capability can continue to be built. The situation changed dramatically with the nuclear tests, codenamed Shakti, at Pokhran on 13 May 1998. The tests involved a fission device with a yield of 12 kilotons; a thermonuclear device

Doctrinal Change


with a yield of 43 kilotons; and a third tactical device of less than a kiloton. The two tests on 13 May used devices with yields between 0.2 and 0.6 kilotons (Joint Statement 1998). In a letter (1998) from the then Prime Minister to the US President that was later leaked, India explained the tests as compelled by the presence of nuclear armed neighbours with whom it had strained relations and collusion in the nuclear and delivery fields between the two. India, simultaneously, attempted to defuse concerns by laying out the broad principles of its doctrine in a suo moto statement to the Parliament by the Prime Minister on 27 May 1998 (Suo moto Statement 1998). The expectation was of peace having ‘broken out’, given the risks associated with going to war in a nuclear environment. The first National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) of the National Security Council (NSC) system was set up in 1998 and charged with preparing a nuclear doctrine. It came out with a Draft Nuclear Doctrine (hereafter the Draft) for the government’s approval in August 1999 (NSAB 1999; Pant 2007: 244–46). The Draft was a unique document in that it was a departure from the Indian tradition of not articulating its strategic thinking. It nevertheless generated considerable controversy. Its credibility was affected when Jaswant Singh, the then Minister for External Affairs, said, ‘[i]t is thus not a policy document of the Government of India’ (Raja Mohan 1999). The great contribution of the Draft was in the debate that followed and its contribution to strategic culture thereby. Eventually, the government approved many of the provisions of the Draft while approving a nuclear doctrine in January 2003 (Sethi 2009: 125). The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) met on 4 January 2003 to review the progress in operationalising of India’s nuclear doctrine (CCS 2003). The key features of the declaratory nuclear doctrine are as enumerated ahead:  

Building and maintaining a credible minimum deterrent; A posture of ‘No First Use’: nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere; Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage. Nuclear retaliatory attacks can only be authorised by the civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority.


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

Non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states; However, in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons;

Further, it approved the setting up of a Strategic Forces Command to handle nuclear assets under the control of the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA). The latter comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council (Sethi 2009: 160). The Political Council is chaired by the prime minister. It is the sole body which can authorise the use of nuclear weapons. The Executive Council is headed by the National Security Advisor (NSA). It provides inputs for decision making by the Nuclear Command Authority and executes directives given to it by the Political Council. The doctrine is taken as one of ‘Assured Retaliation’ with the proviso that this would be ‘massive’. In Indian thinking ‘first strike’ is equated with ‘first use’ or the introduction of nuclear weapons into a conflict (Ahmed 2008). Thus, any form of introduction of nuclear weapons into a conflict would result in ‘massive’ punitive retaliation. Kanwal articulates the logic thus: ‘However there can be no doubt that for India’s No First Use to be credible, India’s strategy should be to target high value population and industrial centres in adversary countries with a high level of assurance after absorbing the full weight of what in all probability be a disarming first strike. Only then would the adversary be sufficiently deterred to avoid launching a nuclear strike against India’ (Kanwal 2000a:1071). Earlier, Kanwal had arrived at a figure of targeting 8–10 cities to constitute what may be termed as ‘unacceptable damage’ (Kanwal 2000b: 1062). For the sake of analysis, Manpreet Sethi assumes ‘that unacceptable damage for Pakistan would constitute no more than four or five 20 Kt weapons each on 5–6 major cities’ (Sethi 2009: 251).

Analysis of Nuclear Doctrine It emerges that ‘massive’ punitive retaliation would be a pronounced escalation of the conflict, unless Pakistan has provoked it by attempting a ‘first strike’, defined as an attempt to disarm and decapitate. This is distinct from the term ‘first use’ or the introduction of nuclear

Doctrinal Change


weapons into the conflict for the first time. Such introduction can be in various ways not amounting to first strike, to include demonstration strike(s), nuclear signalling by targeting intruding forces, and more potent strike in case of value objectives being threatened with capture (Gupta 2010: 37). In lower order cases, a ‘massive’ response would be disproportionate and abandonment of Limited War in one step. India’s new conventional doctrine envisages a ‘proactive’ India, implying that it will take the initiative at the start of the conflict. In accordance with the tenets of its doctrine, the aim will be limited. Conventional forces, thus, will not be unnecessarily provocative. However, nuclear first use cannot be ruled out as Pakistani nuclear threshold is not known. Since the Pakistani military will determine nuclear strategy in war, a military approach as against a political dominant approach may be expected. Thus, thresholds would be under cumulative pressure from tri-service and joint military action of India. Bernard Brodie has put the pressures for nuclear use in the following words: Nevertheless, once hostilities broke out, the pressures to use the bomb might swiftly reach unbearable proportions. One side or the other would feel that its relative position respecting ability to use the bomb might deteriorate as the war progressed, and if it failed to use the bomb while it had the chance it might not have the chance later on. The side which is decidedly weaker . . . would be inclined to use it in order to equalize the situation on a lower common level of capacity (1959: 209).

Presently, Pakistan has admitted to four thresholds: territorial; attrition in military and strategic assets; economic strangulation; and, lastly, externally induced internal instability (Cotta-Ramusino and Martellini 2002). Even if the Indian military is fighting within politically laid down Limited War parameters, the risk of nudging Pakistani thresholds, individually for each service or collectively, remains. For instance, the first draft of the new Air Force doctrine formulated in 2007 revolves ‘around the primacy of airpower in “shaping” or “customizing” the battlefield in such a way that the Army, as also the Navy, can carry out their designated tasks’ (Pandit 2007a). From the experience of the Kargil conflict and Operation Parakram, the Indian Navy can be assumed to address Karachi port, the Pakistani navy and enemy shipping. Alongside, intelligence


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operations, that Pakistan is considerably sensitive to in light of its ethnic vulnerabilities, will be enhanced. Diplomacy to isolate Pakistan from the US and China will be in full swing. These offensive actions cumulatively can prompt nuclear use by Pakistan brought on by political and psychological reasons rather than strategic rationality. This may happen even if the threshold was ‘high’ to begin with. Since Pakistani military is in control of its arsenal and has been known to privilege military over political considerations, for example in Kargil, therefore nuclear use is possible. Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine, though not in public domain, could be along the lines given by Sardar Lodhi. He writes that, ‘Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine would therefore essentially revolve around the first-strike option’. He quotes Stephen Cohen’s term for Pakistan’s undeclared nuclear doctrine, ‘option-enhancing policy’. To him this would entail a ‘stage-by-stage approach in which the nuclear threat is increased at each step to deter India from attack’ (Lodhi 1999). Graduated deterrence through escalatory steps, is described by Lodhi thus: The first step could be a public or private warning, the second a demonstration explosion of a small nuclear weapon on its own soil, the third step would be the use of a few nuclear weapons on its own soil against Indian attacking forces. The fourth stage would be used against critical but purely military targets in India across the border from Pakistan. Probably in thinly populated areas in the desert or semi-desert, causing least collateral damage (sic). This may prevent Indian retaliation against cities in Pakistan. Some weapon systems would be in reserve for the counter-value role (1999).

This means that India’s nuclear doctrine of ‘massive’ punitive retaliation and of inflicting unacceptable damage is credible for the upper rungs of Pakistani nuclear first use. They may not be prudent and proportionate for lower order strikes. Limitation therefore has scope even at the nuclear level, an aspect that India’s concentration on deterrence value of nuclear weapons for political purposes fights shy of conceding. A Limited War is ideally a non-nuclear war. However, expanding the definition to include a limited nuclear war may be warranted, since a limited nuclear war, implies, counter intuitively, an avoidance of Total War of MAD proportions. In an India–Pakistan conflict, nuclear weapons may not be introduced into a conflict by Pakistan

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at levels of massive destruction. It may have a lower order of use of nuclear weapons such as in targeting tactical forces of India. This is a more likely form of first use as against pre-emptive attempt at first strike by Pakistan. For India to go ‘massive’ in response to this lower order of first use would be a departure from the Limited War concept. This type of war can no longer be defined as a Limited War for it is a nuclear one. However, to abandon limitation may not be prudent. In case Pakistan has a proportion of its retaliatory capability intact in such a circumstance, then continuing escalation could result. This could have an immediate negative result for India and create an economic setback for the country over a longer period of time. This may not be a price worth paying. Thus, there emerges a disjuncture between India’s conventional war doctrine and nuclear war doctrine. This can be resolved by a movement in either of the two doctrines. In case of the conventional doctrine being changed to revert to a defensive mode, then the question of provoking a nuclear reaction would not arise. Pakistan is suitably deterred at the conventional level from attacking India. A defensive doctrine would therefore remain untested, which implies that there would be no question of crossing the nuclear threshold. In such a case, having an expansive or ‘massive’ doctrine of nuclear retaliation or inflicting unacceptable damage is of little consequence, since ‘push’ would never come to ‘shove’. This was the case in the early period of covert and recessed nuclearisation. Nuclear deterrence was based on a city busting notion of unacceptable damage. The possibility of this transpiring was remote in the light of India’s defensive posture of awaiting a Pakistani attack and then launching strike corps in counter-offensive. However, India now wishes to keep its conventional might honed. India wants to deter Pakistan at the sub-conventional level through proactive infliction of punishment for crossing the Indian threshold of tolerance. The coincidence in Pakistan’s acquiring of a nuclear capability and indulging in proxy war leads India to believe that Pakistan has utilised its nuclear card to prosecute proxy war. Overt nuclearisation had made the Kargil intrusion possible for Pakistan. This venturesome attitude of Pakistan requires countering, for which India is keeping its conventional card handy. A change at the conventional level may not be readily forthcoming. Therefore, change can be in the nuclear doctrine for a more flexible and retaliatory outlook.


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

The issue has not been lost on the military. Lt. Gen. Prakash Menon, later the head of the NDC, brings out the military link between the conventional and nuclear levels, stating, ‘it was never clear how the Indian military planned to conduct a limited war with more than a reasonable degree of assurance that war will not escalate into the nuclear realm. Though conventional space exists, the extent of usable conventional space remains untested. But the space is certainly hemmed in and restricted by a host of uncertainties that makes a decision for war look like a desperate gamble’ (Menon 2005: 116). He consequently argues against ‘massive’ nuclear retaliation, stating, ‘India wants Pakistan’s choices in the event of war to be limited to conventional defeat or nuclear obliteration’ (ibid.: 107). India envisages that a conflict fought in the conventional domain should be controlled. On the other hand, it maintains that any limitation will be abandoned if the nuclear threshold is crossed. A dichotomy arises. This criticism now finds reflection in strategic writings critical of the formulation ‘massive’. Manpreet Sethi states: while the draft nuclear doctrine mentioned “punitive retaliation”, the 2003 official version changed it to “massive retaliation”. But this has not necessarily enhanced credibility of deterrence because it actually restricts the available response to an adversary’s first strike to an all-out nuclear attack. This may appear too drastic for use except in extreme circumstances . . . In fact, “punitive retaliation” is credible enough since it provides alternatives relative to the nature of strike and level of provocation (2010: 126).

In case there is to be reconciliation between the two doctrines in keeping with Limited War tenets, then moving away from ‘massive’ punitive response towards ‘flexible’ punitive response is required. Assured Retaliation will remain, even if Assured Destruction will no longer be the default option. This can be done easily enough by interpreting the term ‘first strike’ in accordance with its meaning in the nuclear glossary in the formulation: ‘Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage’. The distinction is made in Lawrence Freedman’s Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (1989: 139). He indicates that ‘first strike’ is the opening volley directed against largely counter-force targets with the intent of crippling the adversary’s means of nuclear retaliation. This would amount to nuclear first use of a higher order demanding massive

Doctrinal Change


punitive retaliation. A massive response would be rational, politically acceptable and legitimate in such a case. However, retaliating to nuclear first use with lower opprobrium quotient with inflicting ‘unacceptable damage’ can result in a tit for tat response. This would exact a price that India may loath to pay. Therefore, a revision of nuclear doctrine in terms of limitation makes sense, making it compatible with Limited War concept, even if doing so stretches the definition of Limited War.

Towards Flexible Retaliation The possibility of flexibility was thoughtfully worked into the Nuclear Draft of August 1999 in Para 2.4: ‘India’s peace time posture aims at convincing any potential aggressor that: (a) any threat of use of nuclear weapons against India shall invoke measures to counter the threat; and (b) any nuclear attack on India and its forces shall result in punitive retaliation with nuclear weapons to inflict damage unacceptable to the aggressor’. Interestingly, the term ‘massive’ has not been used in the Draft (1999), but finds mention in the press release of 4 January 2003 by the Cabinet Secretariat, that services the CCS (CCS 2003). That it has not been used in the Draft indicates that retaliation need not have ‘massive’ connotations, so long as its quantum would make it ‘unacceptable’ to the aggressor. ‘Punitive retaliation’ to inflict ‘unacceptable’ damage does not necessarily require ‘massive’ nuclear retaliation. Therefore, the quantum of retaliation was left as a matter of political choice to be dictated by the circumstance. The decision maker is not constrained in the options available for nuclear retaliation, which could be massive, while not necessarily so. This is evident from the fact that the Draft does not mention the nature of the retaliation during war time, restricted as it is to the projection of the posture in peace time. The in-conflict deterrence posture is different from a peace time posture. This is understood and catered for in the Draft. The nature of the deterrent posture in war time not having been reflected on indicates that other options have not been ruled out. The Draft, in not overly restricting the government’s nuclear options, has potentially ruled in ‘flexible nuclear response’. Since the Draft has been a precursor for the officially adopted doctrine and there is an element of continuity between the two (Sagan 2009: 246), a questioning of the doctrine along these lines is possible. Besides, as the Doctrine informs, ‘Military doctrine


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is neither dogma nor does it replace or take away the authority and obligation of the commander on the spot to determine a proper course of action under the circumstances prevailing at the time of decision’ (Doctrine 2004: 3). Departures in practice are acceptable in theory. Flexible options, while not ruling out ‘massive’ response, could include a quid pro quo, quid pro quo plus or a spasmic strike, as posited by General Sundarji (2003: 146–53). India’s response is to be dictated by the guiding philosophy given in the Draft as: ‘India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail’. Action, informed by such intent, while ruling out quid pro quo, could still countenance a quid pro quo plus response. In re-interpreting ‘first strike’, India would have a nuclear deterrent posture that potentially rules in ‘flexible’ punitive retaliation. It is possible that having fewer warheads earlier, counter value targeting was the only option, if ‘massive’ was to be interpreted in terms of ‘unacceptable damage’ to population centres. But over a decade since Pokhran II, India is going in for a second strike capability based on a triad since it privileges ‘credibility’ over ‘minimum’. Scott Sagan sees such movement towards flexible nuclear use doctrines in South Asia, writing, ‘both governments can be seen to be developing more complex and flexible nuclear-use doctrines that could lead to nuclear weapons use in response to less than imminent threats to national existence’ (Sagan 2009: 220). Therefore, envisaging the possibility of nuclear limitation would bring the nuclear doctrine in consonance with the Limited War doctrine.

The Conventional–Nuclear Interface In the period of ‘recessed deterrence’ (Jasjit Singh) that is through the nineties (Ganguly 2001), deterrence was initially based on ‘existential minimum deterrence’ as befits small nuclear powers (Sundarji 2003: 82), in which the very presence of nuclear weapons was deemed enough to deter. However, of late there has been reliance on second strike capability for credibility of deterrence. From nuclear developments in accretion in warhead numbers; impending induction of the ‘triad’; missile developments in terms of Agni III and Agni V missiles and in anti-ballistic missiles (Liebl 2009: 157–59; Pant 2008: 377–78), India appears to be moving to a more robust

Doctrinal Change


deterrent posture. The distinction is made by Raghavan (1995: 25) between ‘hard’ and ‘soft deterrent’ schools. The former has it that India cannot obtain a viable defence apparatus at manageable costs, without a demonstrable increase in nuclear and missile capabilities. The ‘soft deterrent’ school is likened to an ‘uncertain’ deterrent, leading to confusion and capitulation in the face of a nuclear threat. India’s rationale is escalation dominance (Narang 2009: 181), to be able to deter by demonstrating an ability to prevail. Doctrinal divergence with Pakistan is over NFU. While India adheres to NFU, Pakistan relies on nuclear weapons to deter not only nuclear attack, but also conventional attack by India. Thus, the assessment of Pakistani nuclear threshold is an important influence on India’s conventional military calculus. India’s Limited War doctrine posits a window below the nuclear threshold and above sub-conventional operations, in which India’s conventional military might be brought to bear on Pakistan. In case of a misreading of the threshold, Pakistani nuclear use may result. In light of India’s Cold Start doctrine, Pakistani analyses have it that this would tend to lower Pakistan nuclear threshold (Almeida 2010: 1). India’s nuclear doctrine posits ‘massive’ punitive retaliation in case of nuclear first use by Pakistan (CCS 2003). As seen in the previous section, this amounts to abandoning the Limited War concept in a war that has gone nuclear. In case of deterrence breakdown, unless Pakistani nuclear capability is not adequately down-graded and decapitation successful by a ‘massive’ Indian strike, Pakistani response could be in a similar vein. This is an avoidable proposition for India at best since it would surely set India back economically, with unforeseen consequences socio-politically. It is therefore imperative for India to envisage a lower order response that lends itself to limitation, if ‘flexible’ punitive retaliation is brought into the reckoning. A Limited Nuclear War would result if escalation control is made possible by prior doctrinal and structural arrangements. Even though outside the definition of Limited War — that by confining itself to conventional wars places nuclear wars outside the pail — this can be taken as the nuclear domain equivalent of limitation. The gap between conventional and nuclear doctrines is so wide that the Indian Army Doctrine (2004) continues to use the formulation of negative security guarantee proposed in the 1999 Draft nuclear doctrine as against incorporating the change made to the


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

negative security guarantee by the 2003 official nuclear doctrine. The Army Doctrine notes, ‘India’s nuclear policy clearly states that she will not use or use the threat of use of nuclear weapons against those states which do not possess nuclear weapons or are not aligned with nuclear weapon powers’ (ARTRAC 2004: 18). This is in keeping with the 1999 formulation, ‘India will not resort to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against States which do not possess nuclear weapons, or are not aligned with nuclear weapon powers’ (NSAB 1999). Incidentally, this formulation is taken as being ‘uncaveated’ in the Draft. It is no wonder that this attracted its share of controversy (Sagan 2009: 248), leading the 2003 doctrine to rectify it as: ‘Non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states’ (CCS 2003). Such conceptual gaps are symptomatic and reflective of the civil-military gap in the higher national security structure in India. Critics believe that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan cannot be kept limited. Chari (2002) highlights three problems. In his words, these are: First, Pakistan may not keep the conflict limited and non-nuclear if it finds itself in danger of losing its significant assets. Second, what could be India’s strategic goals in a limited conflict? Keeping them too modest would yield no political dividends. Pitching them too high could lead to the conflict spinning out of control. Third, history informs that Pakistan’s military leadership has been irrational and irresponsible in the past.

However, not to plan for limitation is to rule out limitation altogether. Escalation may yet result, but it would be inevitable in case limitation is not considered at all. India’s present nuclear doctrine could lead to inevitable and undesirable escalation. Assessment of Pakistani nuclear threshold is consequential for determining limits dictated by Limited War doctrine. It is not clear if India’s nuclear deterrence doctrine has been influenced by changes at the conventional level in favour of Limited War. Limitation of nuclear war is not unknown in theory. Kissinger begins his discussion in his chapter, ‘The Problems of Limited Nuclear War’, in his book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy by admitting, ‘The arguments against limited nuclear war are persuasive’ (1957: 145). He nevertheless argues for limitation. His argument that introduction of nuclear weapons into a conflict may be done by

Doctrinal Change


the other side and, therefore, a response requires thinking through has resonance in the Indo-Pak context. Such thinking through in the midst of a war would be done under the worst circumstance (ibid.: 148). He asserts that, ‘it is possible to conceive of a pattern of limited nuclear war with its own appropriate tactics and with limitations as to targets, areas, and the size of weapons used’ (ibid.: 154). Halperin, in his Limited War in the Nuclear Age, also questions the assumption that there would be no restraint in a nuclear war (ibid.: 97). He instead identifies three distinct kinds of limitation: limited retaliation involving quantitative and qualitative restraint; ‘Counter City’, in which only cities are threatened with attack bringing about mutual deterrence; and, ‘No Cities’, in which cities are held hostage. He identifies a major incentive for limitation as ‘to try and induce reciprocal limitation from the other side’ (ibid.: 102). Reciprocal limitation is essential in India’s case as its growth makes it more vulnerable. Since India has more to lose, it is subject to self-deterrence. Since limitation is not necessarily to argue for war-fighting, there is little reason for India to be averse to thinking through this change. That limitation has not been thought through in India’s case owes to the nuclear doctrine having preceded the conventional doctrine. Nevertheless, it can always be upgraded. Subsequent doctrine can be formulated taking the nuclear doctrine among the parameters. So far only tangential and inferential references to Limited War have been made in the conventional doctrine as against an explicit mention of limitation. If Limited War is one possibility, and if strategic circumstance would determine the levels of ingress into Pakistan, then the ‘massive’ punitive retaliation formulation of the nuclear doctrine requires rethinking. This convergence between the two doctrines is being arrived slowly in the shift away from Limited War, brought out in the concluding section ahead.

Whither Cold Start? This chapter has set the stage for discussing the drivers behind doctrine formulation by attempting to highlight the developments in doctrine. The current state of the conventional doctrine has reportedly been articulated by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) thus, ‘[a] major leap in our approach to conduct of operations (since then) has been the successful firming-up of the cold start strategy (to be


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

able to go to war promptly)’ (Pandit 2009a: 1). The latest and possibly final movement, in the Limited War doctrine is the remark of General V. K. Singh down playing Cold Start. The former Army Chief stated: [t]here is nothing called “Cold Start”. As part of our overall strategy we have a number of contingencies and options, depending on what the aggressor does. In the recent years, we have been improving our systems with respect to mobilisation, but our basic military posture is defensive (Pubby 2010).

This movement away from Cold Start, seen narrowly as an army enterprise, indicates that the criticism it has come under has been registered by the Army. A writer involved with the doctrinal process at the AWC writes that, ‘a manoeuvre doctrine and a limited-war concept face practical questions about how they relate to India’s broader national security concerns’ (Kapoor 2010: 5). It is already disputed whether the Army had taken the necessary measures to undertake implementation it in letter and spirit such as remodelling the strike corps, staging forward strike units closer to the border etc. (Bakshi 2010: 46). Its command and control methods have not appreciably shifted towards Auftragstaktik (mission tactics) based on delegation and ‘recon pull’ (reconnaissance pull). G. D. Bakshi, calling Cold Start a ‘land power centric doctrine’, rates it ‘poorly on the vital aspects of escalation dominance and escalation control’ (ibid.: 166). He, therefore, feels there is a ‘primary need’ to ‘urgently articulate’ an Indian doctrine for Limited War, ‘driven primarily by air and naval power-centric responses’ (ibid.: 167). It would therefore appear that though much has been done to operationalise the doctrine, what remains undone is equally consequential in assessing it. Organisational restructuring has been done along the Pakistan border in the creation of nine corps and the South Western Command (Ladwig 2008b: 184–85). The affiliation of the strike corps with each command along border suggests an enhancement of the operational-level punch available. This must be seen in conjunction with the offensive resources created from within the pivot corps by re-configuring the defences. Yet, the doctrine continues as a ‘work in progress’ (Kanwal 2010). Ladwig’s conclusion is that, ‘Cold Start remains more of a concept than a reality’ (2008b: 190).

Doctrinal Change


The shift away from the doctrine is to enable an appropriate response to the Pakistani challenge of expansion of proxy war from J&K into the rest of India, such as through the Mumbai 26/11 terror attack. Jasjit Singh avers to lack of response in the Parliament case and at Mumbai and recommends the direction of possible strategy. His view is that: ‘response strategy should be based on discrete conventional punitive strikes against selected politico-economic targets (preferably in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir — POK . . . The aim of these strikes would be to generate effect-based outcome. These no doubt would generate military effects, but their real goal should be to create political-economic effects with the aim of influencing change in the policy and strategy pursued by Rawalpindi’ (Singh 2010a: 16). The aim to change Pakistan’s strategic posture would require greater subtlety in the means.

The inference drawn from the life-cycle of the Cold Start is that the earlier high profile of Cold Start was in the period when the doctrine was being firmed up. The pieces having fallen into place, it is possible to under-play the doctrine now. The higher profile earlier enabled deterrence, in terms of instilling fear in Pakistan on the possibilities of Indian reaction. Its present state of operationalisation gives the military enough confidence to find discussion on it expendable from the point of view of deterrence. The current movement as mentioned by General V. K. Singh is for ‘operations’ depending on the ‘contingency’. This is suggestive of moving a step away from Limited War itself, finding that the escalatory potential of Limited War makes it a less appealing option for the political decision-maker to take when confronted with situations, such as the Mumbai 26/11 attack. This indicates a greater appreciation that the window that appeared to exist between the sub-conventional and nuclear planes is not as wide as to permit conventional operations as first thought. This re-evaluation may result in short, sharp military engagements not amounting to war.

4 The Structural Factor

Pakistan as ‘Threat’

India is usually referred to as the status quoist power in the India– Pakistan dyad. This owes to its relative power advantage over Pakistan and the fact that it is territorially satiated. Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is eight times and defence budget is five times that of Pakistan. Its demography, strategic depth, size and industrial base dwarfs Pakistan’s (Kapur 2009: 211). And it possesses the ‘bone of contention’: Kashmir. Consequently, continuation of the earlier deterrent doctrine with a defensive bias could have been a reasonable expectation after nuclearisation, given grim prospects of escalation. The movement has, however, been towards an offensive doctrine, potentially moving India’s strategic doctrine from deterrence to compellence. The critical question therefore is: What accounts for the change to an offensive conventional doctrine? In general, it is assumed that the chief purpose of military establishments in the nuclear era is to avert wars (Orme 1997/98: 139). Offensive doctrines can only be countenanced in case they reinforce deterrence. But, since such doctrines simultaneously project ability for compellence, this makes them incompatible with the understanding of the role of military force in the nuclear age. K. Subrahmanyam brings out the change between the pre-nuclear and nuclearised periods, writing: Up to the end of World War II, it was axiomatic that the armed forces took over when the diplomats could not save peace and proceeded to win the war or frustrate the enemy’s efforts. However, after the dawn of the nuclear era that understanding needed to be revised. The role of the armed force in the nuclear age became essential on how to prevent war from breaking out. For that purpose, the forces have to be constantly ready exercising deterrence or dissuasion all the time. This is achieved through a

The Structural Factor


combination of appropriate weapon capabilities; force level; deployment patterns in one’s own territory; development of infrastructure; exercises and defence diplomacy (Subrahmanyam 2010: 20).

Explanations for the departure from expectations lie at the structural (regional), the ‘unit’ (national) and the organisational (institutional) levels. There is the systemic level at the international — global level involving systemic forces such as great power rivalry, trans-national forces such as globalisation, etc. However, those are not being considered here. This chapter takes a look at the regional level for the driver of change. As Scott Sagan points out, this level is foremost among the four valid places to look ‘in search of theory’: Realist theory in political science conceives of military doctrine as the rational product of civilians and military officers determining together how best to protect the national security interests of the state against foreign threats. A nation’s geographical position, the military resources at its disposal, the capabilities of its potential enemies, the strategic objectives of the government in power, and its alliance relations are the primary determinants of whether the government will adopt an offensive or defensive posture and whether it will stress limited or decisive uses of military force (Sagan 2009: 222).

The chapter attempts to discern the impact of the structure in terms of developments in regional security; changes in India’s strategic doctrine; and, in turn, the evolution of military doctrine. At the structural level, continuing security threats emanating from a military-dominated Pakistan negate the possibility of exclusion of a military response option. There is a continuing perceived utility of military force into the nuclear age. Conceptually, this was arrived at in the post-Kargil period. Operationalisation of the Limited War concept awaited formulation of the ‘Cold Start’ doctrine after Operation Parakram. The resulting offensive posture is expected to reinforce deterrence and also serve compellence, if deterrence falls short. The understanding at this level therefore is that change in India’s military doctrine owes to continuing external security threats. The perception of impunity in Pakistan with respect to its proxy war at the sub-conventional level of the spectrum of conflict is usually taken as testimony of a degrading of India’s conventional advantage. Pakistan has, additionally, acquired the nuclear capability


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to checkmate any superiority India may have enjoyed at the conventional level. India has been unable to deter proxy war by exercising its conventional capability in the nuclear era and so, has sought to bring the conventional capability back into the equation by doctrinal evolution in the form of a Limited War doctrine, dubbed ‘Cold Start’. This change of policy regarding Pakistan ensures that it (Pakistan) keeps provocation below India’s ‘tolerance threshold’. Thus, the driver of change in doctrine lies at the structural level. A proactive and offensive conventional doctrine is therefore an understandable response to the threat posed by Pakistan’s continuing proxy war under nuclear cover. This chapter is divided in three parts. Part I examines the ‘balance of power’ theory as a source of military doctrineby forging a connection between international relations theory and strategic theory, a link that is salient in the realist paradigm. Thereafter, Part II examines India’s changing doctrine after the strategic watershed of the 1971 War. The year 1971 is taken as a strategic watershed. In the backdrop of changing threat perceptions of Pakistan since the War, it reviews the evolution of its military doctrine. In Part III it analyses implications of military doctrine at the conventional and nuclear levels and brings out the contention in strategic doctrine between deterrence and compellence. Military doctrine changes as per the strategic doctrine of the state, which is in turn conditioned by the threat perception arising in the security situation of the state. The argument is that while in the seventies, a status quoist India was content with defensive doctrine, an upward trend in Pakistan’s power position in the early eighties under United States of America (US) largesse, was partly responsible for India’s shift towards a deterrent strategic doctrine based on counter-offensive capability. With covert nuclearisation by the late eighties, Pakistan was emboldened to increase the proxy war and, eventually, after overt nuclearisation in 1998, launched the Kargil intrusion a year later. India, finding a deficit in the deterrent posture went in for a potentially offensive doctrine, reflected in the offensive content built into the military doctrine of 2004. Since the doctrine is cognisant of the nuclear threshold, it is taken as being informed by the Limited War concept. A Limited War is defined as one that does not provoke or witness the introduction of nuclear weapons into the conflict.

The Structural Factor


PART I Doctrines: Strategic and Military Structural-realist theory maintains that states exist in an anarchic system (Glaser 1994/95: 54). There is no overarching authority, global government or power that holds states to account. They are constrained in their use of force only by different degrees of satiation, self-restraint, fear and cost–benefit analysis (Michalak 2001: 2, 40). Self-regarding states in a self-help mode, seek to increase, if not maximise power for self-defence (Mearsheimer 1990: 5; Sheehan 1996: 7). They may even seek power for its own sake or for the pursuit of other ends. The structural realist assumption has it that ‘if a state is to succeed, it has little choice but to make the acquisition of power, its central, immediate aim’ (Taylor 1978: 122). Neorealist Kenneth Waltz has interpreted the influence of anarchy on state behaviour as under: With many sovereign states, with no system of law enforceable among them, with each state judging its grievances and ambitions according to the dictates of its own reason or desire — conflict, sometimes leading to war, is bound to occur. To achieve a favourable outcome from such a conflict a state has to rely on its own devices, the relative efficiency of which must be its constant concern (1959: 158).

Power is the capacity to achieve objectives. It is useful to states also for purposes of ‘positionality’, or their position in the system based on power and status relative to others (Michalak 2001: 30). The growth of power of a state constitutes a challenge, if not a ‘threat’, to its neighbour. This constitutes the ‘security dilemma’ (Booth and Wheeler 2007). Measures, even defensive, taken to enhance a state’s security are taken as ‘threats’ by states in the vicinity, particularly if adversarial relations exist as present in the case of India and Pakistan. Consequently, actions and reactions of neighbours constitute ‘threats’ to security; in turn prompting further effort for security. Such security behaviour results in heightening of neighbour’s threat-constituting behaviour; leading to a self-reinforcing cycle. Paradoxically, threats emerge as a result of security imparting actions taken by states, with the intention to preserve themselves from such threats. The term


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

was first introduced by John Herz, who described the concept as follows: Wherever . . . anarchic society has existed . . . there has arisen what may be called the ‘security dilemma’ of men, or groups, or their leaders. Groups or individuals living in such a constellation must be, and usually are, concerned about their security from being attacked, subjected, dominated, or annihilated by other groups and individuals. Striving to attain security from such attack, they are driven to acquire more and more power in order to escape the impact of the power of others. This, in turn, renders the others more insecure and compels them to prepare for the worst. Since none can ever feel entirely secure in such a world of competing units, power competition ensues, and the vicious circle of security and power accumulation is on (1950:157).

The neighbour has three alternatives in the face of accumulation of power by one side: to acquiesce, resort to diplomatic negotiations and bargaining, or likewise rely on military force (Michalak 2001: 20–21). Kautilya’s menu of strategic options included sama (conciliation), bheda (sowing dissension), dana (gift or aid) and danda (punishment) (Karnad 2002: 6). States prefer diplomacy first, in case values and aims are compatible. They also practice a combination of ‘carrot and stick’. Since all seek security in strength; power adjustments of one are taken as ‘threat’ by the other. As each state responds to this dilemma by matching efforts of its rivals, a ‘balance’ of power emerges which sustains a stable system (Sheehan 1996: 11). Kenneth Waltz in his Theory of International Politics describes this behaviour as having origin in self-help, with functionally alike units compelled to operate similarly. Successful strategic behaviour of some compels other units to ‘emulate them, or fall by the wayside’ (Waltz 1979: 118). States cope with the ‘security dilemma’ through balancing. Power balancing is a critical organising principle for relations between states. It follows that states ‘are driven, almost by a law of their own nature, to seek their security by some form of power balancing’ (Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff 1971: 31). In case a security challenge develops to the state, it resorts to internal and external balancing. States rely on diplomacy supported by military power (Sheehan 1996: 11). Power is created through internal resources and is supplemented by external sources. Internal balancing is the harnessing of its power assets from within its territory, society and polity; while external balancing is

The Structural Factor


in reaching an understanding, to the extent of forming an alliance, with other like-minded states. Hans Morgenthau in his influential text, Politics Among Nations, contends that states ‘think and act in terms of interest defined in terms of power’ (1967: 5). Power is the means for survival and security; but its acquisition is also an end in itself. Power has several military and non-military dimensions — political, diplomatic, economic, technological, social, cultural and military (Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff 1971: 65). Each constitutes an ‘instrument’ for the state to acquire, deepen and employ, in conjunction with the others, in its pursuit of its national interests in international politics. At a minimum, national interest is state survival. In addition, it includes protection of physical, political and cultural identity. National interest encompasses ‘the integrity of the nation’s territory, of its political institutions and of its culture’ (ibid.: 76). To Kenneth Waltz, the logic of anarchy lends force and military power utility. He writes that, ‘[e]ach state pursues its own interests, however defined, in ways it judges best. Force is a means of achieving the external ends of states because there exists no other consistent, reliable process of reconciling the conflicts of interest that inevitably arise among similar units in a condition of anarchy’ (1959: 238). Grand strategy orchestrates these instruments for ends determined by national interest. It is the means for the state to ensure state survival and security and to advance other political and economic interests. It has been defined as, ‘the highest type of strategy . . . which so integrates policies and armaments of the nation that the resort to war is either rendered unnecessary or is undertaken with the maximum chance of victory’ (Earle 1971: viii). A grand strategy identifies threats, establishes priorities and devises means to address these from among an array of instruments available to a state such as economic, diplomatic, political and military (Posen 1984: 13). Strategic doctrine defines the strategic posture of a state. In the words of Henry Kissinger, ‘[i]t is the task of strategic doctrine to translate power into policy. Whether the goals of a state are offensive or defensive, whether it seeks to achieve or to prevent a transformation, its strategic doctrine must define what objectives are worth contending for and determine the degree of force appropriate for achieving them’ (1969: 4). In a similar vein Jasjit Singh states, ‘[t]he central driving force for planning for defence, whether articulated in specific documentation or not, remains the strategic doctrine for defence that the country adopts . . . The twin goals of credible and


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

affordable defence capability really grow out of the national strategic doctrine’ (Singh 2000a: 1212–13). Military power is a consequential component of grand strategy as it is the ‘ultimate’ arbiter. The military articulates strategic doctrine of the state in its military doctrine. The effectiveness of the military instrument is not only a function of military budgets, leadership, etc., but also of appropriate doctrine since this begets sound strategy. Adjusting military doctrine to meet the threat is one manner of internal balancing by helping with optimisation of military power. Military doctrine reflects grand strategy. Military doctrine as a ‘sub-component of Grand Strategy’, deals with the ‘What?’ (military means) and ‘How?’ (manner of employment) (Posen 1984: 13). Thus, military doctrine facilitates execution of grand strategy by aligning the military instrument to its (grand strategy’s) purposes.

‘Balance of Power’ Barry Posen in his book, The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain and Germany between the World Wars (1984) examined the balance of power theory by contrasting it with organisational theory. He writes, ‘balance of power theory examines the nature of the international political system as a whole, and stresses the influence of the system on behaviour of states’ (Posen 1984: 60). Compulsions originating in the external security environment require states to adjust security strategies accordingly. This brings the ‘security dilemma’ into the interstate equation, since the adjustments of one are taken as threats by the other, compelling counter-veiling adjustment. Balancing is not only through acquisition of arms and acquiring allies, but also through leveraging military doctrine for maximising effectiveness of the military instrument and aligning it with the ends of policy. Posen (1984: 61) terms this as ‘mustering of power’. This is done so as to display both capability and resolve for war in order that all disputes do not necessarily end in war. Posen deems this the ‘most important’ task imposed on states by anarchical environment in the international system. States do not necessarily endeavour to increase their power without limits or single-mindedly. Self-imposition of restraint in pursuit of power, ‘defensive structural realism’, is also in evidence in state practice. In this understanding, states seek security. Threats are viewed in relation to relative power, proximity, intentions,

The Structural Factor


and the defence–offence balance. As increments in capabilities can be easily countered, ‘defensive structural realism’ suggests that a state’s attempts to make it more secure by increasing its power are ultimately futile in the face of responses which these generate among neighbouring states. Therefore, states seek an ‘appropriate’ amount of power. ‘Offensive structural realism’, on the other hand, argues that since states face an uncertain environment, capabilities are of utmost importance and security requires enhancing these to the extent feasible (Mearsheimer 2001: 37). To Posen, balance of power theory propels certain tendencies. Of the first, Posen writes, ‘[b]alance of power theory suggests that states respond to potentially dangerous increases in the power of their putative adversaries’ (1984: 40). The options for such a response are along the offence-defence-deterrence continuum. Second, balance of power theory ‘predicts that heterogeneity along the dimension of offence-defence-deterrence, depending on the political objective of a state’s grand strategy and the geographical, technological, and political constraints and opportunities it faces’ (ibid.). Strategic doctrines could be defensive, offensive, deterrent or compellent depending on aims and constraints. In Posen’s words: ‘Offensive doctrines aim to disarm an adversary — to destroy his armed forces. Defensive doctrines aim to deny an adversary the objective he seeks. Deterrent doctrines aim to punish an aggressor — to raise his costs without reference to reducing ones own’ (ibid.: 14). This determines the compulsions on the military instrument. The requirement is enabled by appropriate military doctrine. Thus, a status quoist power usually has a deterrent or defensive strategic doctrine, while an expansive revisionist power is likely to have an offensive one. A status quoist power is defined as a power reconciled to existing territorial boundaries, while a revisionist one seeks to alter them (Kapur 2005: 135). The former seeks to preserve, the latter to change. Military doctrine would be biased accordingly. Posen states that the build-up in military power is not only quantitative but also qualitative. According to him, states not only forge alliance relationships, but also, ‘audit their military doctrines’ (Posen 1984: 40). He writes that, ‘as a function of competition among states, it (balance of power theory) predicts a tendency towards innovation in military doctrine’ (ibid.).’


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

The Strategic Doctrine — Military Doctrine Link Strategic theory is embedded in international relations by military strategy understood as ‘management and control of military force in international politics’ (Moskos 1972: 24). The power that states require for ensuring their survival needs to be acquired, marshalled and employed. This is the domain of strategic theory. At the apex of the levels of strategy is policy, itself anchored in national aims and values. It dwells on the national interest and the national effort this entails for preservation or furtherance. Grand strategy follows from this and encompasses the instruments of power available to the state to include economic, diplomatic, societal, political, technological, cultural and military power. Clausewitz refers to the aim of strategy in his view on strategy that reads: ‘The theory of warfare (that) tries to discover how we may gain a preponderance of physical forces and material advantages at the decisive point’ (1976: 1). Grand strategy, or co-ordinated application of complementary strategies in respect of each instrument of national power, lends strategic orientation to the state and comprises its strategic doctrine. This, as seen, can be offensive, defensive, deterrent or compellent. A widened concept of strategy was arrived at the contests for power over the last century. A broader definition was formulated in the run up to World War II in Edward Meade Earle’s Makers of Modern Strategy (1943). In his words, ‘[s]trategy of necessity required increasing consideration to non military factors . . . is not merely a concept of wartime, but is inherent in statecraft at all times . . . Strategy is the art of controlling and utilising the resources of a nation including its armed forces, to the end that its vital interests shall be effectively promoted and secured against enemies, actual, potential or merely presumed’ (Earle 1971: vii). Later, taking the Cold War experience into account, Henry Kissinger postulated that this broader context precludes compromising the two incommensurables, ‘purely military’ or ‘purely political’, in favour of a combination of military, political and economic factors (quoted in Baylis 1987: 6). Clausewitz’s principal contribution has been his oft-repeated observation that, ‘[w]ar is an act of violence pushed to its utmost bounds’ (1812: 6). He notes that war does not reach the ideal of Absolute War due to its tempering by the fact that it remains ‘a mere continuation of policy by other means’ (1976: 89). Policy is implemented in the military domain to ‘compel the enemy to do our will’

The Structural Factor


(ibid.: 75). The manner of imposition of the ‘will’ in terms of the relationship between ends, ways and means is in the realm of military strategy. In Clausewitz’s view, strategy is, ‘[t]he art of the employment of battles as a means to gain the object of war. In other words strategy forms the plan of the war, maps out the proposed course of the different campaigns which compose the war, and regulates the battles to be fought in each’ (ibid.: 177). Policy determines ends, means and limitations. The role of grand strategy is to win the peace by co-ordinating and directing all resources towards the political objective of war. It determines, develops and combines the instruments of national power towards the ends determined by policy. In turn, the role of strategy is to win the war by determining ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘with what’, ‘how’ and ‘who’, but within parameters set by policy and grand strategy (Riper 2006: 5). Military strategy can be defined as the art and science of matching political ends to military means. A popular definition of strategy is that of Liddel Hart: ‘The art of distributing and applying military means to fulfil the ends of policy’ (1967: 335). Andre Beaufre defines strategy as: ‘War is dialectic of opposing wills using force to resolve their dispute . . . strategy is the art of this dialectic’ (1965: 22). The archetype military definition provided by Marshal Moltke reads as, ‘[t]he practical adaptation of the means placed at a general’s disposal to the attainment of the object in view’ (Baylis 1987: 4). The US Army’s influential definition, carried in their pamphlet on AirLand Battle, notes that, ‘[m]ilitary strategy is the art and science of employing the armed forces of a nation or alliance to secure policy objectives by the application or threat of force’ (Department of the Army 1991: 9). Military strategy would encompass the bias that strategic doctrine reflecting grand strategy, dictates: offensive or defensive. To Henry Kissinger strategic doctrine identifies whether ‘the goals of a state are offensive or defensive, whether it seeks to achieve or to prevent a transformation’ (1969: 7). Accordingly, strategic doctrine ‘must define what objectives are worth contending for and determine the degree of force appropriate for achieving them’ (ibid.: 4). In this manner strategic doctrine translates ‘power into policy’ (ibid.). The choices strategic doctrine makes available to a state are defence, offence, deterrence and compellence. Military strategy, taking cue from the strategic choice, is configured accordingly.


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

Formulation and implementation of military strategy is informed by military doctrine. Military strategy is formulated in the context of what eminent military sociologist, Morris Janowitz, termed as its ‘operational code’ or ‘logic’ of their professional behaviour (1960: 257). This is the realm of military doctrine. Scott Sagan defines military doctrine as, ‘the underlying principles and specific guidance provided to military officers who produce the operational plans for the use of military forces’ (2009: 222). Doctrine enables leveraging of military power for ends of policy. Doctrine serves the following function: Theory cannot equip the mind with formulas for solving problems, nor can it mark the narrow path on which the sole solution is supposed to lie by planting a hedge of principles on either side. But it can give the mind insight into the great mass of phenomena and of their relationships, then leave it free to rise into the higher realms of action. There the mind can use its innate talents to seize on what is right and true (Clausewitz 1976: 577).

Both offence and defence deal with the same factors, such as resources available, intelligence, security, air support, fire support, logistics and communication. While offence is related to the capture or destruction of the enemy’s centre of gravity; defence is about denying the enemy success in respect of one’s own centre of gravity. War-making is a combination of both offence and defence. For instance, even in an offensive, there may be a requirement to hold captured territory. Likewise, in defence, counter-attacks and counteroffensives involve offensive action. The Navy’s doctrine publication, Indian Maritime Doctrine (2009), gives out this dual responsibility in respect of the maritime dimensions in the following words: ‘The Navy’s military role is characterised by the threat or use of force at and from the sea. This includes application of maritime power in both offensive operations against enemy forces, territory and trade, and defensive operations to protect own forces, territory and trade’ (IHQ of MoD 2009: 91). In a nutshell, strategic doctrine is the propensity of a state with respect to the use of force. Military being the primary instrument of force has to enable strategic doctrine. It does so through military doctrine which has to therefore adapt to the demands placed on the military by strategic doctrine and has to be responsive to constraints

The Structural Factor


set by it. However, military compulsions and limitations have a say in determining strategic doctrine. In effect, a prior dialogue is useful, else tyranny of strategic doctrine may result or bucking of strategic doctrine by military doctrine.

PART II India’s Strategic Doctrine The Seventies Through the sixties, the Indian Army concentrated on building up its strengths, learning from its 1962 experience. Shankar Roychowdhury, a former Army Chief, writing of the period, notes, ‘[p]ost 1965, the Army re-shaped itself into a dual-front operational structure which incorporated a light, infantry-intensive post 1962 component for the mountains, and now, a heavier mechanised-intensive post 1965 one for plains and deserts’ (2002: 151). This set the stage for the seventies. India, having acquired regional pre-eminence through the vivisection of Pakistan in the 1971 War, was ready to realistically pursue its interests, without attempting to emulate great powers in strategic competition. It would maintain a capability enough to deter its putative adversaries. In wake of the 1971 War, K. Subrahmanyam, then Director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, wrote a monograph (1972) that encapsulates Indian national security policy in the seventies. He outlines the national aim as, ‘India has to be strong enough to deter interventionism and aggression by other nations but at the same time should not adopt a posture which will induce fears in the minds of other nations’ (Subrahmanyam 1972: 48). The defensive strategic orientation for India he advocates is evident from his view that ‘India does not want to become a big power in the pejorative sense and to throw its weight about in international arena. Our aim is limited to ensuring our own security and that of our immediate neighbourhood when it affects our security adversely’ (ibid.: 48). He writes: ‘India had no ideology to export and no big-power interests to defend’ (ibid.). He argues that neither the approach of those with a conventional and conservative value system, who may want that India behave in the same manner of big powers, nor that of others who are afraid that a militarily powerful India will adopt the behaviour pattern of big powers and its power will be misused, was appropriate for India. Instead, he demands that India keep at


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‘readiness adequate forces to deter China and Pakistan from launching an attack either jointly or individually and in case deterrence fails to repel aggression effectively’ (Subrahmanyam 1972: 48). With respect to Pakistan, Subrahmanyam argues that ‘with a clear margin of superiority both in numbers and firepower, it should be possible to deter Pakistan from contemplating any more aggression against this country or invoking external political or military support to pursue a policy of confrontation against this country’ (ibid.: 53). With two adversaries namely, China and Pakistan, to cater for, he outlines the aim as being to hold one and to reach a quick military decision with the other. To him, it is ‘obvious’ that the latter could only be Pakistan. While not making a detailed threat assessment, he is sanguine that India’s ten mountain divisions are adequate against the one hundred thousand Chinese military men in Tibet. The fifteen divisions left for the Pakistan front did not give adequate safety margin (ibid.: 52). Therefore, he advocates force requirements to include more manpower, additional firepower, mobility and water crossing equipment, vertical envelopment capability and ability to operate in the desert (ibid.: 53). However, given that strategic doctrine is a matter of political choice, there are alternatives in the discourse. Ravi Rikhye advocates a more offensive strategic orientation for the twin front problem: ‘We must follow a forward strategy and recognise the outposts for India’s national security . . . Our strategy in the next decade against the twin Pak-China threat has to be based on the DelbruckClausewitz theory i.e. strategy of annihilation against Pakistan and one of exhaustion against China’ (ibid.: 365). Realising that India would not be able to raise sufficient conventional forces to implement such a strategy inspired by offensive realism, he suggests going in for alignments or external balancing (ibid.: 364). Politically, India had little incentive for an offensive strategic doctrine. Soon after the 1971 victory, it was beset with internal problems that acquisition of the nuclear capability in 1974 did little to dispel. These culminated in the Emergency (Verghese 2010: 185–210). The impact on security was minimal for Pakistan itself was beset with problems relating to internal security in Baluchistan and civil–military relations. According to the ‘secret’ part of the Simla Agreement of 1972, Pakistan’s President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was to proceed to undertake steps to integrate Pakistan occupied part of J&K in such

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a manner as to permit both states to agree to convert the Line of Control (LoC) into an International Border (Dhar 1995). The LoC, dating to the Ceasefire Line (CFL) of the Karachi Agreement of July 1949, had been demarcated on the ground, with a few changes that occurred in 1971 operations endorsed by both sides (Armed Forces website n.d.). Mired in internal political problems, Bhutto fell to a military coup and was hanged. Since both states were internally preoccupied and were not averse to the status quo, there was little inter-state security tumult. Given the scale and manner of victory in the 1971 War, innovation was scarce. The war had represented a quantum leap in Indian employment of the military instrument, from defensive and restrained military operations to taking the war into the enemy’s territory. However, the victory has had its critics. It is seen by many as having been fortuitous, dependent as it was crucially on the adversary’s poor handling of his forces. A military writer, Satish Sardeshpande, notes such operational capability was not characteristic to the Army in questioning, ‘in the West, why wasn’t more punch put in the desert to sever communications between West Punjab and Sind at Rahim Yar Khan which could have hurt Pakistan more . . . than the “over subscribed” Indian attempt in Shakargarh’ (1980: 30). He concludes that, ‘[i]n 1971, due to the existing strategic advantages . . . the Indian Army had no choice but to win’ (Sardeshpande 1980: 31). Understandably, easier-to-pursue organisational innovation in military operations then progressed. The 1965 and 1971 Wars had demonstrated that the area under Western Command was too vast for effective command. Accordingly, in 1971, duplicate headquarters with duplicated staff had been set up at Shimla and Bhatinda. After the 1971 War, Headquarters (HQs) Northern Command was established at Udhampur, taking over responsibility for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Shimla was considered unsuitable for Headquarters Western Command since it was located in the hills, somewhat detached from its area of responsibility in the plains. The HQs moved to Chandigarh with Punjab and Northern Rajasthan under its jurisdiction. After its successful showing in East Pakistan, II Corps, raised in the run up to that war, was absorbed into the ‘orbat’ (order of battle) of the Western Command. This added another strike corps to the pre-existing I Corps that had participated in operations of questionable success in the Shakargarh sector of the western theatre. Thus, there were two strike corps arraigned against


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Pakistan. For its part, Pakistan had only one strike corps (I Corps); the second (II Corps) then had a ground-holding role (GlobalSecurity. org, n.d.). Doctrinally, refinements to the Ditch cum Bundh (DCB) obstacle system concept were undertaken. A DCB, as the name suggests, comprised a formidable obstacle designed to separate the armour from the infantry. The concept had been inspired in part by the experience of the Army at the Icchhogil Canal in the 1965 War (Kapila 1987: 7) and was in keeping with military thinking elsewhere, such as the Bar Lev line along the Suez Canal. However, doctrinal thinking that eventuated in the Sundarji innovations of the next decade was for a more offensive orientation. Speed in operations was taken as necessary to undercut international pressures for ceasefire. Therefore, an offensive capability was required in a short time-frame to bring about gains that would be useful on the negotiating table. Carrying the war to the enemy territory required avoiding a frontal assault on his prepared defences. This meant having manoeuvrable forces in order to hit him in depth on his lines of communication, rather than merely inflict casualties (Choudhary 1976: 209). The refrain in service writings during the period was that in the event of a future war with Pakistan, ‘the deciding factor will be the superior employment of mechanised forces, with emphasis on armour’ (Dutt 1977: 50). These ideas figured in the famous Rao–Sundarji report of midseventies, implemented when the two rose to become Army chiefs subsequently (Roychowdhury 2002: 153).

The Eighties The present-day on-going strategic debate can be traced to the eighties. The hiatus of the seventies in Indo-Pak strategic equations was broken by the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union at the turn of the decade. In the event, Pakistan profited from its ‘frontline’ status, with knock-on implications for Indo-Pak security relationship. Of the US$ 3.2 billion sanctioned in 1981 by the US Senate (MoD 1982–83), US$ 1.7 billion worth of credit was earmarked for arms sales. The resulting arms transfers have been described as the ‘third modernisation cycle in Asia’ (Awasty 1984: 208, 210–11). Pakistan’s perception was that as the ‘guardian of the Khyber Pass’, it required a powerful military capability. Indian strategists who ‘vehemently disagreed’ with this proposition write: ‘They (Indian strategists) saw a strong Pakistan as disruptive; their image of regional

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stability envisioned a Pakistan as an Afghanistan: a weak, not a strong buffer’ (Cohen 1983: 82). Taking this view seriously, Pakistan, in the period, retained India at the centre of its strategic cross-hairs. This has antecedents in its leaving East Pakistan virtually defenceless in both 1965 and, compared to the threat, also in 1971. Even during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, it did not transfer any forces for the defence of its frontier along the Durand Line (ibid.: 85). Its threat perception is based on geography. It has its major port, subject to interdiction or blockade close to the border. Its population centres in Punjab are also within striking distance of armoured columns. The bulk of the armed might of the two states are maintained in terrain that lends itself to mechanised warfare in the plains along the border (ibid.: 83). Given its size, location and terrain, it ‘evolved a strategic style which may be called a strategic doctrine’ of ‘offensive defence’ (ibid.: 85; Palsokar 1986: 143). In Cohen’s description, the doctrine envisages that in time of heightening crisis, Pakistan would not hesitate to be the first to employ a heavy use of force to gain an initial advantage. It was thought that a short, sharp, war would achieve Pakistan’s military as well as political objectives (Cohen 1983: 85). Its lack of strategic depth virtually dictates an offensive mindset. It sees war as an opportunity to bring international opinion to focus, though this involves a political risk. The doctrine hopes to achieve deterrence through raising the risk of Indian resort to war and assumes a higher technical threshold and leadership across the hierarchy. In the early eighties, to respond to its two-front problem due to Soviet presence towards its north, Pakistan alighted on a twopronged answer (ibid.: 86–87). First was the nuclear checkmating of India, and, second was fostering of a people’s guerrilla war. Pakistan was rapidly gaining experience in guerrilla warfare with the Central Intelligence Agency’s activities with the mujahedeen. The nuclear capability of Pakistan would help neutralise an assumed Indian nuclear capability. The assumptions were that India had several nuclear weapons; that these were Pakistan-centric; and that these could be used politically to paralyse Pakistani reaction by holding its population centres hostage in case of Indian action in Kashmir (ibid.: 84–85). Nuclear weapons capability could also provide cover under which the Kashmir issue could be re-opened by checking a conventional Indian counter. It could be used to cover


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a bold conventional offensive in Kashmir in case the Indian leadership proved to be ‘weak and indecisive’ (Cohen 1983: 86). In the Indian understanding, this was dictated by the concept of terror, reportedly influential in Pakistan Army after release of the book, The Quranic Concept of War. The oft-repeated quote reproduced ahead indicated to observers that the ‘concept of terror is central to the Islamic conduct of war’. In neglecting the meaning of ‘terror’ as psychological paralysis, which is a legitimate, trans-historical and cross-cultural aim in war and combat, the interpretation below appears a motivated one: Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means; it is an end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent’s heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved. It is the point where the means and the end meet and merge. Terror is not a means of imposing a decision upon the enemy; it is ‘the decision’ we wish to impose on him (Kanwal and Ghosh 2009; Palsokar 1986: 144).

The second prong, guerrilla war, had been resorted to earlier in 1965 with unsuccessful results. The idea of training and arming friendly populations in the neighbour’s territory would help tie the enemy ‘down in a hundred places’ or act as a strategy of ‘a thousand cuts’. However, Cohen assesses that resort to this would be unlikely since Pakistanis did not prefer ‘Cambodiazation’ that could result, as the situation in Afghanistan then clearly presaged (1983: 87). It is interesting that merely half-a-decade on, coinciding with the departure of the Soviets from Afghanistan, Pakistan was enabled to undertake this risky strategic choice by Indian mishandling in Kashmir. Indian strategic orientation is discernible along the two prongs: diplomatic and military. This can be mistaken for duality, in that its efforts on the diplomatic front of reaching out to the neighbour can be perceived as being contradicted by its military exertions alongside. The government clarified the dichotomy: ‘It must be emphasised however that the genuinely peaceful orientation of our domestic and foreign policy stands shall not hinder us from concurrently pursuing the consolidation of a credible defence structure, to the extent that is necessitated by the fluid security environment’ (MoD 1991–92: 8). The many peace initiatives included efforts to bring about better understanding through discussion on drafts of No War Pact proposal by Pakistan and a Treaty of Peace and Friendship proposed

The Structural Factor


by India and setting up of an Indo-Pak Joint Commission (MoD 1982–83: 1). Agreements were reached on Advance Notification of military exercises and prevention of Airspace Violations by military aircraft (MoD 1992–93: 2). A bilateral agreement on non-attack on nuclear installations proposed by India in December 1985 was signed in December 1988 and finally came into force with the exchange of lists of locations on 01 January 1992 (MoD 1991–92: 3). Notwithstanding persisting hurdles, Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) with Pakistan continued (MoD 1992–93: 4). On the military front was a movement away from the defensive posture of the seventies to an offensive posture in the eighties, one premised on a counter offensive capability. Therefore, the resulting ‘carrot and stick’ approach can be characterised as a strategic doctrine of deterrence, one inducing self-restraint on the other side. This doctrinal context was captured in a talk at the College of Combat, as the AWC was then named, by the military theorist, Major General D. K. Palit. He predicted that ‘those who are destined to rise to the top levels of command and staff within this decade will find when you get there that much of your planning and execution before or during operations will be inhibited by exercise of restraint in many forms, including on the use of force’ (Palit 1980: 18). These developments gave rise to a fusion between diplomatic policy making and the military conduct of war. This is a departure from the earlier compartmentalisation of the two, in which the military pursued war with a ‘win the war’ aim, deciding on matters such as scale and intensity, as required. Palit discerned that ‘the actual conduct of war, the actual methods by which armed forces leaders employ their troops or commit their forces, is now to a great extent controlled by their civilian governments — and the main aim is to induce restraint in the method by which war is conducted (ibid.: 17). Limitations were in setting of the aim, geographical spread and in use of weaponry, resulting in a de-emphasis on decisive battle and concept of maximum force (ibid.: 15). Palit’s thesis of restraint was promptly challenged in the very next issue of the Combat Journal. Reflecting an offensive spirit, the youth author, Shamsher Mehta, who later went on to participate in the doctrine making exercise of 2004 in his capacity as Western Army Commander, wrote: ‘The strategy of restraint has little meaning when two neighbouring countries with a record of short wars, engage in combat . . . However, not being drawn easily into war will


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remain an option of National Strategy and not an option of Military Strategy’ (Mehta 1980: 2). Despite this tendency towards limitation, presciently pointed out by Palit, the eighties witnessed a pronounced move towards the offensive. In part this was the result of the pursuit of mechanisation, first under Army Chief, General Rao, and then with greater vigour under General Sundarji. The advent of the Air–Land Battle concept in the US had an influence on such thinking in India. According to G. D. Bakshi, the main lesson of the Air–Land Battle concept was on the need to ‘outgrow the defensive rut’ (Bakshi 1986: 277). The political constraint of not losing any territory had forced the military to resort to fixed linear defences, breeding a ‘Maginot mentality’. The manoeuvre and ‘win oriented’ Air–Land concept could consciously fight and uproot fixity of mindsets (ibid.: 277). In the context of the DCB defences and non-linear desert warfare, striking deep would disrupt attacks and help preserve territory. Instead of a defensive concept of ‘spoiling attack’ — disruption of an enemy attack at its forming up stage — and counter attacking enemy bridgeheads, taking to the tactical offensive in divisional level counter attacks into enemy build up and logistics areas was recommended. In the eighties offensive operations were further cast in a more aggressive mode. The usual progress of operations involving breaking the crust of defences, establishing a bridgehead and breakout were taken as operationally unacceptable. Instead, deeper attacks involving seizure of enemy’s nuclear weapon and stowage sites, area centres of gravity and terrain choke points were considered of equal import. Such operations required air- and heli-borne capability for attacks on multiple tiers in depth simultaneously with multiple thrust lines along a wide front. The Head of the College of Combat, Tuli, in his Commandant’s Note in the Combat Journal set out the agenda for mechanisation witnessed through the decade. He required creation of a ‘viable strike force capable of being speedily launched into enemy territory for the capture of objectives in considerable depth . . . air mobility . . . mechanisation of these formations . . . and the armour content of the division increased and greater flexibility provided by the introduction of at least one more battle group headquarters . . . to do justice to the requirement to move fast and strike deep’ (Tuli 1981: iv). On defensive operations, the Commandant required even holding

The Structural Factor


formations to ‘introduce and practice with realism the capture of enemy positions across the border on the outbreak of hostilities; such actions would go a long way in . . . furthering our offensive aims’. He maintained that ‘unless this is practiced . . . it will be too much to expect our troops that are secure in pill boxes to get out to tackle the enemy defences . . . if we were to achieve any positive change in our present defensive approach we must reorient our thinking and training on a completely offensive basis’ (Tuli 1981: iv). Since the College of Combat performs the function of disseminating doctrine through training and changing mindsets, the Commandant’s words clarified the direction which the Army was headed towards. A better alternative to counter-attack on the enemy bridgeheads in the linear defensive system, whether based on canal or DCB, was in launching a ‘mini counter offensive’ on the enemy’s side through which his offensive forces were transiting into the bridgehead. The idea was ‘as long as our aim is to evict the enemy — by force, stratagem or manoeuvre, we should choose manoeuvre in preference to force’ (Mayne 1980: 275). The preoccupation with ‘loss of territory’ was to be done away with. The temporary loss of ground was not seen as a disaster as long as the aim was to launch a riposte. Thus, the force was being suffused with an offensive, manoeuvre warfare, orientation; with defensive operations seen only as a ‘temporary phase’. The thinking along these lines culminated in Exercise Brasstacks, a brainchild of General Sundarji to test his mechanisation initiatives. The military aim of Exercise Brasstacks was to test the new formations and to ascertain viability of the new deterrence doctrine. The political aim of the exercise was to coerce Pakistan to desist from aiding Khalistani insurgents. The genesis lay in the military support that Pakistan had obtained from the US by lending itself as a ‘frontline state’ (Ganguly 2002: 85). This aid had emboldened Pakistan into supporting the Khalistani insurgency in Punjab. Ravi Rikhye writes that the military aspect was to learn to handle multiple strike corps together, while the ‘covert’, coercive, part was to remind Pakistan that India could sever Sind in case of its continued support to Khalistanis. Rikhye’s take on the exercise, though controversial, was that the idea was to crash through into Sind with thirteen divisions (Rikhye 1990: 21–22). While it is alleged that Exercise Brasstacks also envisaged operations in Sind and southern Punjab to vivisect Pakistan (Hoon 2000), the possibility of a strike on Punjab was


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not ruled out. Pakistani moves were an anticipatory extension of its Army Exercises Flying Horse and Saf-e-Shikan and conduct of the Air Force’s ‘High Mark’. Combined with these, counter moves of moving the Army Reserve South (ARS) northwards to threaten Punjab resulted in the Indian mobilisation, Operation Trident. The militarised crisis was eventually defused (Sahni 2008: 27). The second aspect introduced in security calculus, in the latter half of the decade, was the nuclear one. It made its first appearance in the open domain in the famous A. Q. Khan interview with Kuldip Nayar (Ganguly 2002: 86). Despite this, a willingness to use force can be seen in the conduct of Exercise Brasstacks, Indian preemption of Pakistani takeover of Siachen through deployment on the Saltoro ridgeline in 1984, and the military intervention in Sri Lanka in the form of peacekeeping. By the end of decade, India’s security objectives had expanded considerably. Its ambitions extended into the Indian Ocean; rudiments of a nuclear capability were in place; and its neighbours — Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan — had witnessed India’s tougher side.

The Nineties Three factors were significant in the nineties for the Indian military. The first was the heightening of proxy war by Pakistan, with Kashmir erupting even as Punjab continued on the boil. The second was pressure of declining defence budgets brought on by liberalisation (Roychowdhury 2002: 128). The third was the effect of nuclearisation, initially covert, but requiring the military to take cognisance of the emerging security situation. These cumulatively had a retarding effect on the turn to the offensive seen in the previous decade. Thus, even as the threat heightened in terms of a more aggressive Pakistan, India could not leverage its power. Pakistani acquisition of the nuclear capability rendered India’s conventional superiority questionable. Therefore, the Sundarji era doctrine of ‘deep strike’ could not be employed. This detracted from credibility of India’s conventional deterrent. Resulting Pakistani adventurism culminated in the Kargil intrusion in end decade, barely a year after both states had gone nuclear in May 1998. Released from a ‘two front’ scenario by the withdrawal and later demise of the Soviet Union, Pakistan was single-minded in addressing the perceived Indian threat (Bakshi 2009b: 78). It had

The Structural Factor


practised a doctrine of ‘offensive defence’ in Exercise Zarb-e-Momin under General Mirza Aslam Beg. Pre-emptive launch of two strike corps pincers had been envisioned (ibid.: 79). The exercise attempted to incorporate lessons of the Air–Land Battle concept (Banerjee 1990: 66) and could be seen as an answer to India’s preceding Exercise Brasstacks. Irrespective of the Indian ‘threat’, there were other reasons prompting its proxy war, such as to pay back India for the 1971 break-up of their country and its pre-existing irredentist claims on Kashmir. The Cold War had ended and the contours of the new world order to replace it were unclear. An influential scenario building exercise, called ‘Op Topac’, carried by an Indian Defence Review team in mid-1989, had it that Pakistan could repeat its 1965 Operation Gibraltar, only more successfully (IDR Research Team 1989). Infiltration and fuelling a Kashmiri uprising was to be followed up by a conventional attack in Phase II. The manner in which events unfolded on the ground in Kashmir lent credence to this scenario. It was often mistaken to be the blueprint of Pakistani plans (Jagmohan 1992: 140). The conventional response option was not in the foreground, though its existence did ensure that Pakistan kept provocation below Indian ‘tolerance threshold’. Despite constrained circumstance, India’s conventional capability ensured that Pakistan was deterred from escalating its military support to levels where India would feel compelled to use its superior military capability. Pakistan persisted with its ‘low cost, low risk’ operation (Banerjee 1990: 66), with the diplomatic advantage of ‘plausible deniability’. India’s response was restricted largely to counter insurgency operations, both in Punjab and Kashmir. The conventional reticence owed in part to declining defence budgets through the period. This was compelled by India embarking of liberalisation in 1991 forced by a financial crisis, brought on in part due to military profligacy of the eighties. However, this was a period in which Pakistan also faced constraints, primarily withdrawal of US assistance in October 1990 when President George Bush was not able to give the necessary certification that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device required under the Pressler Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act (Lodhi 1998). Pakistan’s declining financial position reinforced its proxy war policy, since being less able to cope increased the seeming need to keep Indian forces tied down.


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The implications of the timing of heightening of proxy war were dire for the Army, especially since it was simultaneously faced with a resource crunch due to liberalisation. According to a former army vice chief, the lack of funds for modernisation automatically led to a delay in the restructuring plans of the services. The Army’s mechanisation had been held up and the overall effect of the little modernisation undertaken was loss of the technological edge (Singh 1996: 21). This diluted conventional deterrence and emboldened proxy war. The strategic option during the decade was restricted to defence, owing to the resource crunch. Of its two variants — dissuasion and deterrence — an analysis had it that declining defence budgets would affect deterrence capability adversely. Even dissuasive capability was difficult to maintain. A balanced military prefers a mix of both; the proportion of each depends on war objectives sought and operational situation. It was assessed that India had a ‘deterrent’ capability with respect to Pakistan and a ‘dissuasive’ one against China. India’s deterrence was limited to the conventional level. Since Pakistan was not interested in a conventional tryst, it was instead emboldened at the sub-conventional level. No further reduction was thought possible lest it turn out as an invitation to hostile action by Pakistan (Banerjee 1996: 46–47). Kaushik Roy records that the conventional balance fell from 1.99:1 in 1993 to 1.4:1 in 1997 (2010: 167). The government attempted to dispel criticism stating: ‘The structural adjustment policies being implemented for the last three years in all the sectors of government expenditure require much greater emphasis on finding the most cost-effective means of ensuring high level of operational preparedness. Therefore, our efforts to emphasise modernisation are based on a critical scrutiny of all areas of expenditure, which would result in bringing about cost efficiency in the Army’s consumption of ammunition and energy, pattern of training and human resources’ (MoD 1994–95: 8). Additionally, ‘[i]n view of increased need to focus on economies, various measures were undertaken to bring about savings — restructuring of manpower through redeployment and retraining . . . this has resulted in improving our Army’s teeth-to-tail ratio to 70:30; rationalisation of the magnitude, scale and duration of training exercises; authorised scales of equipment have been revised; modernisation of depots with computerisation of inventories and rationalisation of war and peace equipment tables; fuel consumption being reduced

The Structural Factor


by 25 percent’ (MoD 1993–94: 9). In respect of the Air Force, the government informed that, ‘[r]esource constraints in the recent past have compelled the IAF to evolve plans which are more resourcedriven, instead of being programme oriented’ (MoD 1994–95: 18). Economy measures included life extension of aircraft; prioritisation of projects and schemes; quality audit of aircraft; and special studies on maintenance problems (MoD 1997–98). The third aspect — nuclearisation — necessitates resort to Bernard Brodie’s caveat to Clausewitz’s classical definition in light of the nuclear age: ‘Clausewitz’s classical definition must be modified, at least for any opponent who has a substantial nuclear capability behind him. Against such an opponent one’s terms must be modest enough to permit him to accept them, without his being pushed by desperation into rejecting both those terms and the limitations in war fighting’ (Brodie 1959: 313). At the nuclear level, as early as mid-eighties, India had noted: ‘One of the recent developments of grave concern is the likely nuclearisation of the sub-continent . . . Pakistan’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons capability with the assistance and connivance of certain countries has added a new dimension to our security environment’ (MoD 1984–85: 1). The impetus to doctrinal thinking was in the emerging threat from the nexus between China and Pakistan in both nuclear and missile spheres (Perkovich 2002: 410). This was referred to by the then Prime Minister Vajpayee in his letter to the then US President justifying Indian tests of 1998, largely focusing on this nexus (ibid.: 417). Through the nineties, the perceived threat grew more pronounced with Pakistan continuing to pursue its weapons-oriented nuclear programme. Ballistic missile proliferation was another major area of concern, especially since the technology was acquired through clandestine acquisition or transfer of technology from external sources (MoD 1990–91: 2). Pakistan had reportedly acquired M11 missiles from China with a range of more than 300 kms and believed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Consequently, on 11 May and 13 May 1998, respectively, India successfully completed a planned series of nuclear tests, called Shakti tests (Perkovich 2002: 416). As a responsible nuclear weapons state, for assuaging concerns elsewhere, it declared that ‘India does not intend to use its nuclear weapons for aggression or for mounting threats against any country. Neither does it intend to engage in an arms race with anyone’


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(MoD 1997–98: 6). The aim was for ‘[h]aving a secure and effective deterrent against the use or threat of use of weapons of mass destruction against India’ (MoD 1997–98: 2). The nuclear doctrine was termed ‘recessed deterrence’ (Singh 1998: 318; Tellis 2001: 211). The decade ended with doctrinal innovation on both conventional and nuclear planes. The National Security Advisory Board’s Draft Nuclear Doctrine was presented to the government in August 1999 (NSAB 1999). As mentioned earlier, the IDSA initiated a move towards Limited War thinking at a conference on 6 January 2000.

The New Millennium (2000s) In keeping with Clausewitz’s emphasis on destruction of the enemy’s military capability as a means towards dominating its ‘will’, the Indian Army Doctrine (ARTRAC 2004) states that, ‘military force contributes by the defeat of an opposing force’ (ibid.: 29). It defines ‘defeat’ as ‘diminishing the effectiveness of the enemy to the extent that he is either unable to participate in combat or, at least, not able to fulfil his intention’ (ibid.). It follows that war strategy is the joint plan employing the three Services to bring about a condition in which the enemy is disabled and own intent is fulfilled through combat. The intention is psychological paralysis of the enemy leadership by application of combat power for the purposes of pre-emption, destruction, dislocation and disruption. Causing such attrition to the enemy to induce it to quit the conflict is understandable in a non-nuclear scenario. There appears movement in conventional war doctrine, due to the nuclear backdrop. The logic is perhaps that nuclear deterrence, predicated on infliction of ‘unacceptable damage’, would hold (Banerjee 1996: 47). However, with nuclearisation, there has to be a more circumspect attitude to the use of force. The strategic doctrine that was implicit in the promise of the refurbished national security system has not been forthcoming. The expectation that the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) would undertake India’s maiden Strategic Defence Review (SDR) as a preview to formulating the national security doctrine (Bedi 2000: 27) has been belied (Mukherjee 2011). While each NSAB constituted does submit a strategic review to the government, none has been released officially. Consequently, the military propensity towards maximising employment of force needs self-regulation. That an explicit doctrine

The Structural Factor


on Limited War has not been articulated by the Indian military suggests otherwise. While the air and naval components of military power lend themselves to easier insertion, moderation and retraction in a conflict situation, the land component lacks the inherent flexibility. There is an advocacy towards building in flexibility in India’s strike corps through the concept of IBGs in the tradition of Soviet Operational Manoeuvre Groups (Kanwal 2008: 309). It awaits the next iteration of the Indian Army Doctrine or a separate publication covering Limited War as a specialised form of war (Ahmed 2009a). Since wars have a dynamic of their own and if uncontrolled have a tendency towards escalation, there has to be a ‘deliberate hobbling’ (Brodie 1959: 311) of the effort in the nuclear age. This implies a move away from viewing war as a means to impose one’s ‘will’. Rather, war is bargaining through graduated military responses towards the attainment of a negotiated settlement (Cannon 1992: 85). The difference that nuclear weapons bring about is that only one of the two types of wars countenanced by Clausewitz can be launched. Total defeat of a nuclear-armed enemy is not impossible. However, this may prove too dangerous and hurtful to attempt. Thus a war intended to bring the enemy to the negotiating table appears as the only option (Echevarria 2007: 99). The decade began with heightened terrorism in Kashmir, a result of inability to control infiltration due to momentary diversion of attention from counter-insurgency during the Kargil episode. Thereafter, terrorism also spread to the rest of India, spurred by Pakistan and due to local roots in a worsening communal situation. Overt nuclearisation further cramped India’s conventional might, particularly during Operation Parakram. India’s predicament has been summarised by Gaurav Kampani (2002), thus: New Delhi has concluded that it cannot resolve the Kashmir problem politically short of terminating the insurgency in Kashmir. Since the insurgency cannot be defeated by fighting the civilian combatants in a reactive campaign in Indian-controlled Kashmir alone, India must take the battle into Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. This can be achieved in two ways. First, India can either politically coerce Pakistan by threatening war to end support to the insurgents in Kashmir. Or alternatively, India can change the terms of the insurgency in Kashmir by initiating a limited conventional war to raise the costs of the sub-conventional war for Pakistan to a point where they become unsustainable.


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

Jasjit Singh brings out two aspects of the nuclear overhang. The first is, ‘the next conventional war that India may be involved in would have to be a limited war. It can be stated with certainty that all wars that have been fought have been limited, especially in terms of political aims and employment of military power. And the limitations essentially were imposed by India . . . But what is clear is that the presence of nuclear weapons with both our potential neighbours would certainly be a constraining factor in war where our own interest would require that as far as possible nuclear weapons should not be allowed to come into play’ (Singh 2010a: 14). The second, is ‘that nuclear weapons must not be allowed to eliminate the choice of conventional war . . . a close study would indicate that there would be adequate strategic space below the nuclear level that can be exploited for the successful conduct of a war with conventional military capabilities’ (ibid.). He considers that, ‘the credibility of our national deterrent capabilities against sub-conventional war being waged across the borders have been eroded, if not failed’ (Singh 2010a: 15). This required resuscitation, inter alia through contemplation of a Limited War doctrine. This apprehension of denuding of the power base has contributed to an offensive stance as compensation. This perception of symmetry with Pakistan is offset by suitable leveraging of the military capability available and is in keeping with Barry Posen’s view that, ‘States with a favourable power position that is suffering erosion will prefer offensive doctrines. Offensive doctrines are a vehicle for preventive war’ (Posen 1984: n.d.). This can be seen to recur in the India–Pakistan strategic equation. In the eighties, with Pakistan being armed as a ‘frontline’ state against the Soviet Union, India’s post-1971 War position of conventional advantage was in danger of being whittled. Thus, India for its part not only invested in rearming with the assistance of the Soviet Union but also in adopting a conventional doctrine of ‘strike deep’. This posed a security dilemma for Pakistan and made it resort to ‘proxy war’, first in Punjab and then in Kashmir. Pakistan also went in for nuclearisation to permit it nuclear immunity from a conventional retaliation by India. Apparent erosion of India’s conventional power over the nineties was best evident from Pakistan’s upping of the ante in launching the Kargil War. India, therefore, had to innovate in its military doctrine to bring conventional power back into the reckoning of balance of power

The Structural Factor


between the two states. The resulting doctrines, formulated in the nuclear era, have had to engage with the implications of nuclearisation. The chief implication being limitation, the Services’ doctrines need to be imbued with Limited War thinking. The moot question is: Are they following the Limited War doctrine? The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US and the militarised counter added to the seeming utility of military power to escaping a strategic circumstance brought about by continuing terrorism. The presence of the US in the vicinity in the form of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) was significant for Pakistan. Taking advantage of this turn of events, Pakistan again became a ‘frontline’ state. The US removed its sanctions against Pakistan as the latter had changed its policy with respect to the Taliban regime. By end of the decade, the situation was relatively stable in Kashmir. The multiple terror attacks in Mumbai 26/11 indicated India’s continuing vulnerability to terror and continuing limitations of the military instrument as the preferred instrument of choice in the circumstance. In wake of the terror attack, there were military response options. These included at the lower end of response, surgical strikes, covert action, activation of the Line of Control, raids by Special Forces and heliborne troops and border clashes. At the upper end was the possible launch of Cold Start. This could be restricted to the Line of Control or be expanded to the plains and desert sectors. Reservations in exercise of choice along these lines, indicates that Limited War — preparedness notwithstanding — has its limitations as a policy option (Times News Network 2008). Terrorism continued to be seen as India’s primary security threat through the decade (MoD 2003–04: 7). There was no conventional threat in the light of Pakistan’s pre-occupation in the GWOT (Global War on Terror) waging towards its north since October 2001. However, Pakistani sense of adventurism, most visible in their Kargil foray, could not be discounted. The events in Mumbai in late November 2008 only served to confirm this. Following from this perception, the key elements fundamental to India’s security planning have been identified by the Ministry of Defence to include: preparation for full spectrum operations; non-membership of any military alliance or strategic grouping; requirement of an independent deterrent capability; involvement in the internal security function, corresponding force structures and orientation; and a maritime interest requiring a blue water naval capability (MoD 2003–04: 13–14).


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

A strategic doctrine is to serve the state in its strategic circumstance. The Limited War thinking in the early part of the decade led to acknowledgment of the fact that ‘the importance of strategic (politico-military) doctrine is much higher for limited war than those that are full scale, leave alone total wars (Singh 2000a: 1212). Jasjit Singh laments that in India’s case, there has not been a clearly articulated strategic doctrine. The consequence is that, ‘[i]n the absence of a well-established doctrine, there is a strong tendency to simply keep building on existing force levels and structures in what can only be described as an add-on strategy. Inevitably such an approach tends to be highly reactive . . . An overall defensive philosophy only tends to reinforce this reactive characteristic. This would be a serious handicap in limited war’ (ibid.: 1213). Jasjit Singh has attempted a prescriptive strategic doctrine. He takes India’s national aim to be building of a sustainable peace for ensuring socio-economic growth. The pillars of his framework include prevention of war, removal of the threat and risk of war and reduction of the threat perception of potential adversaries. He acknowledges a ‘fundamental need to move from the classical paradigm of competitive security to cooperative model of inter state security’ (ibid.). He requires ‘necessary precautions’, amounting to deterrence, to remain in place, but also requires that efforts towards détente and strategic stability are advanced alongside. Broadly, two alternatives emerge: first defence through either a strategic defensive or strategic offensive strategy; and second, prevention of war through credible deterrence, at a minimum. He tends to prefer the second alternative — prevention of war through deterrence. This would entail quantitative and qualitative superiority, but one tempered by affordability (Singh 2000b: 1214–15). He favours air power as an instrument that furnishes both deterrence by denial and deterrence by punishment, as against land power that can only deliver the former (ibid.: 1219). The doctrine that emerges, as recounted in the previous chapter, is considerably more offensive . The diplomatic strand of grand strategy currently takes advantage of military self-confidence emerging from an improved counterinsurgency situation, as also the predicament of Pakistan hemmed in by the war on terror. On the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) issue, success was more forthcoming in the multi-pronged strategy adopted by the

The Structural Factor


security forces that were able to create near ‘normal conditions’ for the state government to function. This optimistic perspective translated into India being ready to look at options, short of re-drawing the boundaries, to find a pragmatic solution. It was prepared to work out co-operative, consultative mechanisms so as to maximise the gains of co-operation in solving problems of social and economic development of the region (MoD 2006–07: 4). This built on the November 2003 ceasefire along the LoC and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), and the Islamabad Joint Statement of January 2004 in which commitment was given by President Musharraf not to permit any territory under Pakistan’s control to be used to support terrorism in any manner (Joint Statement 2004). A number of initiatives were taken to ease tensions, normalise and improve relations. At the level of the government, the Composite Dialogue was initiated with the resumption of Foreign Secretary level talks in June 2004. At the level of armed forces, a number of CBMs were envisaged. Upgrading the link between Directors General Military Operations, new communication links at division/ corps level, annual meetings of Vice Chiefs of Army Staff (VCOAS) and exchanges between the Armed Forces-related academic institutions were some measures envisaged (MoD 2004–05: 9, 21). Not all have progressed as desired; but the pace and direction of progress is itself a pressure point in the overall dual-pronged effort to both incentivise and pressurise Pakistan into realigning its strategy of proxy war. Expectedly, Pakistan was reluctant to keep up its end of the bargain. While India reached out to Pakistan even while exercising quasicompellence, Pakistan’s response has been a prevaricating one. A draw-down the support to terrorists in Kashmir has not resulted in rolling back of the supporting infrastructure. This enabled launch of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. Thus, the problem of formulating a strategic doctrine, linking it to military doctrine and communicating the same to the adversary remains. The logic of punishment is about ending Pakistani impunity by punishing its military, at the bottom of India’s strategic predicament (Gurung 2011: 39). The idea is that once the Pakistani military is hurt directly and there are prospects of its losing power, then it would be more amenable to India’s friendly overtures. Another advantage is imposing costs of war on the enemy as derived from one of Posen’s corollaries from the ‘balance of power’


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

thesis, according to which, ‘[s]tates will prefer offensive doctrines when war appears to involve very high collateral damage, because offence allows the state to take war elsewhere’ (Posen 1984: 78). Increasing lethality being true of modern war, Indian military doctrine as early as the 1998 Army doctrine, declared an intention of conducting war in enemy territory.

PART III Implications for Military Doctrines Conventional Doctrine The Indian Army Doctrine (2004) reflects India’s strategic doctrine. As noted in the previous chapter, the term ‘Limited War’ occurs once in the Army Doctrine on a graphic on Spectrum of Conflict (2004: 12). This is problematic since the graphic in question seamlessly melds Limited War with the next stage of Total War. Further, it makes a distinction between Total War and the next higher stage of Nuclear War, indicating that wider conventional war is possible in a nuclear environment. Instead, the nuclear overhang virtually negates the conception of Total War. Even Limited War has escalatory possibilities (Kumar 2009). For instance is the example of employment of India’s Special Forces (SF), it is reported (Dutta 2006: 1) that ‘eight new battalions will be in the airborne mode and trained to take out enemy’s N-capabilities. The air borne would enable the Special Forces to carry out a variety of sensitive and surgical strikes . . . the Special Forces would now have the capabilities to inflict heavy damage on strategic targets in an enemy country including nuclear installations’. Such a position has two implications: one, that in the nuclear era keeping war from becoming Total War is imperative; and two, that Nuclear War could yet erupt even during prosecution of what is originally intended as a Limited War. A corollary is that nuclear war is not necessarily a Total War. Limited War requires deliberateness in thinking that only a separately articulated doctrine can ensure. Thinking through military dimensions of Limited War needs to be done in keeping the nuclear doctrine in mind. Movement in one may entail a corresponding movement in the other. Therefore, the doctrinal exercise cannot be restricted to being one internal to the military. It could be ‘militaryled’, with input and enabling cross-fertilisation from a wider field under aegis of the NSC system (Ahmed 2009a).

The Structural Factor


Characteristically, it was General Sundarji who had by the early nineties discerned that Limited War was the direction of the future, writing, ‘Indian conventional operations should be modulated in scope and depth of penetration into Pakistani territory so that ingress can stop before Pakistan resorts to the use of nuclear weapons’ (1992c: 77). Manpreet Sethi, writing in the same vein, states, ‘[m]ilitary strikes would need to be restricted in depth into enemy territory and spread in geographical expanse, or limited in scope to carry out deeper, narrow thrusts into adversary territory in order to remain well away from the expressed “red lines” of the nuclear threshold’ (2009: 308). Bharat Karnad’s view in his ‘Sialkot Grab’ scenario is: ‘Converging rapidly on major towns . . . for shallow but decisive ingress into Pakistani territory is that it is doable . . . and in each case confronts the GHQ with the dilemma of major proportions of how to stanch the flow . . . restricting advance to populated environs . . . capturing a string of major towns’ (2005: 8). Since Limited War would unfold under the nuclear backdrop, the implications for nuclear doctrine have to be accounted for as well. Over the last decade, the Indian military has been preoccupied with the Limited War concept. This is a departure from the earlier situation. Disconnect between the conventional and nuclear dimension has been a characteristic during the period of development of nuclear weapons. Describing the situation in the nineties, General Shankar Roychowdhury writes of the vacuum of information in which the doctrine for nuclear warfare developed: ‘Denied any interaction with the national leadership, and in the absence of any guidelines or directions from the government, each Service tried to develop individual doctrines for nuclear warfare. However, as always, personal mindsets and egos at the highest level in each Service obstructed the evolution of an inter-Service approach to the subject. As a result there was little or no movement towards a common, synergised nuclear doctrine’ (Roychowdhury 2002: 276). He informs that the ARTRAC was given the mandate to prepare an updated manual on nuclear warfare. In absence of any official parameters, it proceeded with the basic assumption of an adverse nuclear balance. The only options were restricted to protective and defensive measures (ibid.: 274). On the conventional front, the ARTRAC ‘was already working extensively on development of concepts’ (ibid.: 160). Their ‘intellectual basis was essentially the doctrinal theories of Air–Land


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Battle and Deep Attack, re-structured to cater to the sub-continent. The emphasis was on mobility, long range firepower, deep surveillance, electronic warfare, secure communications and air defence in the tactical battle area’ (Roychowdhury 2002: 160). The current situation is greatly improved, not only with the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) no longer a nascent organisation, but the NSCS also having a a core group of military men, among others including scientists and technologists, involved in assisting the NSA in his task as head of the Executive Council of the NCA as part of the Strategy Programme Staff.

Nuclear Doctrine Movement in nuclear doctrine is in favour of ‘credible’ over ‘minimum’. The offensive direction of the doctrine is evident from the caveat to No First Use (NFU) over the use of chemical and biological weapons and the use of the term ‘massive’. Developments in ballistic missile defences and acquisition of launch capability of multiple satellites in space technology indicate that India can move to a first use posture in the future. It would have the submarine deterrent in place with at least two nuclear submarines operational by mid-decade. The submarine launched ballistic missile K-15 is undergoing tests as is the Agni V for ability to cover the Chinese east coast from peninsular India. Scott Sagan (2009) and Rajesh Basrur (2006) believe these developments are enabled by an expansive reading of ‘credible’. Sagan writes that, ‘India’s nuclear doctrine in 2003 moved, subtly but clearly, away from the pure form of no first use that was previously espoused toward a more flexible and potentially “offensive” nuclear doctrine’ (Sagan 2006: 221). While the movement is prompted by taking China as a threat over the long term, the implications on the Pakistan front are in terms of escalation dominance. The desired effect is, principally, in forcing upwards the nuclear threshold by promising nuclear retribution to any form of nuclear first use, even against intruding tactical spearheads. Implications for the conventional level are reflected in a view held in the Services as brought out by Prakash Menon: ‘Since India and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons, both countries will never use them and Pakistan’s nuclear bluff must be called . . . To them the notion of limited war is anathema and an unnecessary and self-imposed restraint’ (2005: 114). Menon has discerned that this view exists after ‘interviews with some senior serving officers

The Structural Factor


of the Indian Armed Forces who did not want to be quoted’ (ibid.). He has arrived at this view ‘based on interviews with some senior serving officers of the Indian Armed Forces who did not want to be quoted’ (ibid.). This was regarding the alternative to shallow front offensives on the conventional plane articulated by Gurmeet Kanwal thus: ‘“Broad Front — Shallow Objective” offensive planning is unlikely to dissuade Pakistan . . . The only sensible option for India would be to call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff and plan to launch Strike Corps offensive operations to “Strike Hard- Strike Deep”’ (2008: 81). Alternatives for nuclear retaliation for enemy nuclear first use also exist. For Manpreet Sethi, it would be logical to use the weapons on cities to cause ‘unacceptable’ damage (2009: 145). She is not persuaded by India’s current doctrinal understanding that unacceptable damage requires ‘massive’ punitive retaliation. Bharat Karnad has been a strong votary of ‘[g]raduated deterrence or discriminate deterrence . . . A nuclear version of “flexible response”, but one that is furthered by a variegated nuclear force structure’ (2005: 5). Unlike Karnad, Sundarji does not believe in variegated nuclear forces (Sundarji 1992), but in ‘minimum deterrence’ (Sundarji 1992a: n.d). The emphasis on ‘credible’ is missing from Sundarji’s articulation of a nuclear doctrine for India. His formulation is more in line with limitation in war, including one that has for some reason gone nuclear. He writes: ‘Terminate nuclear exchange at lowest possible level with a view to negotiating the best peace that is politically acceptable’ (Sundarji 1992c: 77). This is in line with Bernard Brodie’s view, ‘[t]he main war goal upon the beginning of a strategic nuclear exchange should be surely to terminate it as quickly as possible and with the least amount of damage possible — on both sides’ (1983: 79). This does not require an emphasis on ‘credibility’ at the expense of ‘minimum’ and is in keeping with a war-deterring posture as against a war-fighting posture. In the case of nuclear doctrine, if ‘massive’ nuclear retaliation is the manner of Assured Retaliation then this is but a one-step escalation to Total War. In the early part of the decade, Gurmeet Kanwal, had advocated ‘massive punitive retaliation with the full force of India’s nuclear capability . . . a massive Indian nuclear counter value and counter force response will mean the end of Pakistan as a viable nation-state’ (2001: 100). At the end of the decade, the refrain is


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

the same: ‘There is only one viable response to a Pakistani nuclear strike, whether on Indian cities or military forces, whether inside Pakistan or not, and that is massive punitive retaliation with the full force of India’s nuclear capability’ (Kanwal 2008: 82). Alongside, advocacy continues to exist of ‘upgradation of “limited offensives”’ to deep strikes coordinated by a full fledged Strike Crops HQ . . . initial thrusts should be followed up by additional ones after evaluating the success achieved and analysing the enemy’s reaction. Only such simultaneity will ensure a comprehensive defeat’ (ibid.: 209). Obliviousness to the possibility of the war going nuclear is due to the extant trust in the efficacy of Indian deterrence (Parthasarathy 2009). The problems of arriving at a strategic doctrine and a commensurate military doctrine are evident. India does not have an explicit Limited War doctrine, and its current military doctrine could result in a wider conventional war, which should be avoided in a nuclear environment. Further, its Limited War thinking in the offensive mode is evidence of a willingness to move to compellence, rather than its declaratory strategic doctrine of deterrence. In theory, ‘Status quo states will generally prefer defensive doctrines simply because they know they are not likely to strike first’ (Posen 1984: 78). This was the case with India earlier. But, the increasing boldness, spread and frequency of terror attacks by Pakistani ‘strategic assets’, there has arisen a seeming need to make Pakistan pay a price and dispel its notion of impunity. The status quo has been too expensive in human and political terms. This explains the move to an offensive doctrine that potentially countenances compellence. When seen in conjunction with an offensive conventional warfare doctrine, the two together tend towards compellence rather than deterrence.

Contention Over Strategic Doctrine Compellence India’s acquisition programme indicates that the proactive doctrine has downstream effects. While this programme has been criticised as ‘arming without aiming’ (Cohen and Dasgupta 2010), it instead indicates India is building the muscle to prosecute Limited War. Yearly imports of defence have escalated over 50 per cent for the last 3–4 years. These deals include the $1.5 billion Admiral Gorshkov, the $1.1 billion Phalcon early warning radar and communication

The Structural Factor


system, the $1.7 billion Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) project with Britain and the $2 billion Scorpene deal with France (Pandit 2004: 5). India expects to spend $100 billion on arms, not only to refurbish its obsolete systems, but also to go in for state-of-the-art systems such as remotely piloted vehicles, net centricity, fifth generation fighter, nuclear submarines, etc. Its defence budget has gone up from $11.8 billion in 2000 to over $36.03 billion in 2011. India has emerged as the second largest arms importer, second only to China. India’s increasing defence expenditure can be analysed strategically as an effort in increasing the power asymmetry with Pakistan. This is at variance with Cohen and Dasgupta’s understanding that, ‘strategic restraint also contributes to the astounding lack of political direction in Indian efforts at military modernisation’ (2010: xii). The contrary view is that the enhanced arming has been done to enable prosecution of Limited War and for escalation control through escalation dominance. The assumption behind this could be to bolster conventional deterrence and extend it to credibly cover subconventional war. But that it has overtures of compellence in light of the proactive doctrine cannot be ignored. The strategy is also reminiscent of the Cold War in the eighties in which the US exhausted the USSR through increasing military competition. Even if this interpretation is erroneous, it is the one that Pakistan will inevitably alight on. The dimension of security dilemma is discounted and likewise linked Pakistani actions instigating India’s security dilemma. Intervention to break this ‘chicken-egg’ conundrum requires a re-visit to strategic doctrine.

Strategy of Restraint The offensive posture, as long as it conveys the threat of deterrence by punishment for sub-conventional transgressions, it is in keeping with India’s ‘strategy of restraint’. However, the strategy of restraint is subject to change due to internal political compulsions and interplay of strategic partnerships. The compellence option is not ruled out in such a scenario. Theory has it that, ‘[e]xpansionist powers will prefer offensive doctrines’ (Posen 1984: 78). While India is not an expansive power, it is provoked by Pakistani truculence into an offensive doctrine so as to gain the capability to bring about change in Pakistani attitude and behaviour as necessary. Offensive posture is to end the Pakistani sense of impunity. Thus, deterrence appears to


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

rely on the capability for compellence. The moot question is whether this is at all feasible, and wise, in a nuclear context. Budget constraints also define the strategy of restraint. In India with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) set to grow at the rate of 9 per cent, even if the military budget is pegged at 2 per cent as at present, money will not be a constraint. The China factor, in terms of its expenditure being thrice that of India, will remain as a rationale. In such a scenario, the implication on the Pakistan front can be in a move away from the strategy of restraint, since resources will no longer be a constraint. With a Limited War doctrine amenable to operationalisation through capability development, compellence will figure among the possible directions of the future. This expectation is in keeping with Posen’s theoretical insight that, ‘States may opt for deterrence doctrines because their capabilities are insufficient to support any other kind’ (1984: 78). This has been the case in India’s earlier defensive and conventional deterrence doctrine. Since Indian military budgets and capabilities have expanded in keeping with its growing economy, India has sufficiency of resources to countenance offensive doctrines. The strategy of restraint, taken as a strategic doctrine, also implies a hard-nosed, cost–benefits-based strategic choice for India. Cohen and Dasgupta (2010: xii) believe, that, ‘[t]he political preference of restraint has wisely sought to escape the security dilemma rather than embrace it’. India wishes a period of peace and stability in order to consolidate on its economic gains. This is analogous to the Chinese doctrine of keeping a low profile so as to protect their development in the early period since reforms beginning 1978 (Raja Mohan 2003: 153). Even if India can afford a military diversion with Pakistan in terms of sustaining physical and financial losses, it would be set back in relation to its larger challenge, that of China. Indeed, such a setback to India can be taken as part of Chinese strategy of using Pakistan to tie India down. Therefore, the Indian preference for war avoidance is understandable. It was sustained despite energetic arguments for a military response to 26/11 (Roemer 2010). However, it will come under considerable strain in case of another provocative terror attack. This may have had some effect on Pakistani calculations of sub-conventional restraint, among other factors, such as radicalisation in that state and the unfolding situation in ‘AfPak’ (Afghanistan–Pakistan).

The Structural Factor


The Indian initiative to resume the peace process, that has been in the pipeline since the Sharm es Sheikh meeting of the two Prime Ministers of 2009 (Press Information Bureau 2009), is to create the space for the strategy of restraint to continue. The hope is to create the conditions of trust that would defuse Pakistani resort to the sub-conventional card. This would then keep the strategy of restraint untested, and India’s economic trajectory on course. The improved state of the economy, among its many advantages, also helps enhance military power. Thus, India would be able to employ the military option, not necessarily for compellence but for punishment, in case required in future. Compellence is difficult to achieve, however, retribution is easier to administer. The consequences of such a reaction are not necessarily benign and may result in the need to periodically resorting to such military action. These are the strategic considerations that would inform any departure from the current strategy of restraint.

Moving Away from Limited War? Wikileaks revealed an email from the US embassy in New Delhi to the US State Department expressing scepticism (Roemer 2010). The scathing assessment has it that, ‘The Indian Army’s “Cold Start Doctrine” is a mixture of myth and reality. It has never been and may never be put to use on a battlefield because of substantial and serious resource constraints’. To Roemer, ‘(the) GOI intent to ever actually implement Cold Start is very much an open question’. He believes that hesitations owe to the fact that, ‘Indian leaders no doubt realize that, although Cold Start is designed to punish Pakistan in a limited manner without triggering a nuclear response, they cannot be sure whether Pakistani leaders will in fact refrain from such a response’. Reacting to the leaked cable, the then Army Chief said that Cold Start did not exist, elaborating, ‘[w]e know what has to be done . . . things (are) in place . . . We practice our contingency depending on situations. We are confident that we will be able to exercise the contingency when the time comes’ (PTI 2010b). This implies that Cold Start is not a default option, but one of many. In other words, it is a Pakistan-centric, situation-dependent strategy. The ‘contingencies’ that the Army Chief mentions is the Army’s answer to the posers regarding dangers of Cold Start. Cold Start is, therefore, not an option that India would employ proactively, but could choose


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

to do so depending on Pakistani counter moves to India’s launch of ‘operations’ under grave terror provocations. This way military doctrine is being responsive to the strategic doctrine of restraint. This is a fair indicator of strategic doctrine being a primary driver for military doctrine. Nevertheless, that Cold Start exists menacingly to complicate crisis management must be acknowledged. General V. K. Singh in an Army Day interview made the current levels of readiness very clear, stating, ‘A lot has changed since the days of Operation Parakram. If we did something in 15 days then, we can do it in seven days now. After two years, we may be able to do it in three days’ (Pandit 2012). Lawrence Freedman points out, ‘[a]ccording to Schelling, whereas deterrence was about “inducing inaction”, obliging the opponent against his will not to do something that he wanted to do, compellence required “making someone perform”, that is doing — or undoing — something against his will . . . While deterrence upholds a status quo, compellence is more radical, requiring a movement to a “destination”, and the destination can be unclear in intent as well as in momentum and “braking power”’(Freedman 2004: 110). The distinction between deterrence and compellence can be situated in the Indian context. The Indian objective has apparently shifted to forcing Pakistan ‘to do something’ (compellence), i.e., dismantle its infrastructure of terror. Its earlier position was persuading Pakistan ‘not to do something’ (deterrence), i.e., conducting proxy war. No sharp distinction is being made here in the Indian position between deterrence and compellence. The capacity for compellence not only bolsters deterrence but facilitates a switch to compellence, if deemed necessary. The problem is that compellence lacks the limits of deterrence and is more difficult to achieve and manage. Lieutenant General Menon observes: The nature and scope of political objectives determine the expanse of conventional space required by the military. The moot question has been whether the perceived conventional space is sufficient to meet the military’s need to ensure achievement of given political objectives. The objectives itself could change during the course of crisis/war. The larger the conventional space required, greater the risks of advertent or inadvertent escalation into the nuclear realm. There is thus considerable difficulty in achieving substantial political objectives through war . . . conventional space is restricted by the lack of political space (2005: 157).

The Structural Factor


The major problem is on how to remain below nuclear thresholds. Strike corps are in evidence despite advent of the IBG concept. More dangerously, there are reports of consolidating strike corps into a field army, ‘Strike Command’ (Joseph 2011). This indicates an internal hold-up on taking the Limited War concept to the logical conclusion. General Padmanabhan had put the dilemma thus: ‘the kinds of limited strikes some were pushing for would have been “totally futile”’. According to him, ‘[i]f you really want to punish someone for something very terrible he has done, you smash him. You destroy his weapons and capture his territory’ (Swami 2004). This articulation was six years into the nuclear age. Such obliviousness, neglectful as it is of the means–ends imperative at the core of strategy, therefore cannot be uncritically taken as a strategic one. This implies that there are factors at other levels that have a consequential influence on doctrine. The second complementary factor is that the movement in strategic culture that provided the context to the offensive and proactive doctrine has shifted back in favour of strategy of restraint. While the earlier shift can be attributed to a conservative hue to government, the liberal-centrist dispensation in the latter half of the decade sees less of a role for military force in light of its economic prioritisation. The attitude of the two to military doctrine can be expected to be different. This explains the mentioned subtle shift away from Limited War in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) dispensation. Cold Start is now no longer the preferred or default option. There is a fire-lane in the form of ‘contingency’ operations, such as surgical strikes and border skirmishes. This has been envisaged in the Doctrine for Sub Conventional Operations (2006): ‘Sub conventional operations arena comprises armed conflicts that are above the level of peaceful coexistence among states and below the threshold of war . . . Border skirmishes also fall within this category’ (ARTRAC 2006: 2). Strengthening fire-lanes awaits explicit articulation of the Limited War doctrine moving beyond the current position of the concept as a mere subtext.

‘Threat’ as Driver: Not Enough The Indian strategic doctrine for the seventies was defensive defence, seen as suitable for a status quo power. Due to developments in Afghanistan and proxy war beginning in Punjab, there was a need to deter Pakistan from trying to militarily profit from Indian internal


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

security discomfiture. This was done through the Sundarji conventional doctrine of corps level counter offensives at the military level. The idea was that the threat of punishment was later taken forward to deter sub-conventional war also. This built up the proactive and offensive constituency. However, military doctrinal movement did not really take-off till the crossing of the ‘nuclear rubicon’ in May 1998. Even so it was Pakistan that was first off the mark in launching the Kargil operations. This energised thinking on Limited War, beginning in January 2000 (Kapur 2009: 202). The process culminated in the wake of the subsequent Operation Parakram in the form of the Cold Start doctrine. The finding in this chapter is that the explanation for this shift relying on the structural factor is consequential but is not adequate by itself. It would appear that while threat perceptions do influence military doctrinal formulation, there are other drivers too. After all, a threat can prompt different responses, not excluding appeasement. Since ‘appeasement’ has a negative ring to it, it is seldom seriously considered making it fall by the wayside as a serious strategic choice. This implies that there are other determinants of strategic choice, such as those anchored in culture. For instance, the opprobrium that attends appeasement is anchored in culture. Therefore, for the choice to be instead ‘proactive’ and ‘offensive’ implies that there are other influences that need examining. This has been insufficiently registered in strategic circles in India. The fixation has been on how to deal with the innovative threats posed by Pakistan. While Limited War thinking has been an equally innovative response, it has certainly not been solely a rational and linear exercise. The next chapter moves from the regional — structural — level to look at the national level for drivers of doctrine using the tool of cultural theory to look at political and strategic culture.


5 The Political Factor

Towards a Muscular India


enneth Waltz posits the ‘levels of analysis’ in his doctoral thesis on the causes of war, which came out as the book, Man, the State and War (1959). He delineates three ‘images’: systemic or structural level, dealing with the distribution of power among states; the nation-state or unit level; and lastly, that of the individual or decision-maker. An additional organisational level can be added between the unit and individual levels. Fareed Zakaria (1998: 9) reasons that state power is the sub-component of national power extracted by the state. In case a government is to use its national power, it needs to create and extract it from the power resources of the nation-state. The proportion and net amount of power that a state can command and mobilise is the difference between a weak and strong state (Jackson and Sorensen 2010: 230). The outcome has been put by Thucidydes as, ‘while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must’. The social dimension of power is in the linkage between political culture, strategic culture and the organisational culture of security institutions. Strategic culture, itself a product of factors such as history and geography, influences the manner states, and in turn, its military, deals with power. Power is translated into military utility by doctrine. Therefore, a study of doctrine cannot restrict itself to the realist conception of power, but needs to also look at cultural antecedents. Therefore, it is necessary to examine the explanatory power of strategic culture in doctrinal development. This chapter traces the explanation for doctrine puzzle at the state level. It explores the possibility that change in India’s military doctrine owes to evolution of Indian strategic culture. Military doctrine has proven responsive to the shift towards an assertive strategic culture. Changes in doctrine — conventional and nuclear — both


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

reflect and express movement in strategic culture. This chapter traces the changes in Indian strategic culture over the last two decades. The expectation is that a change towards an assertive strategic culture has led to an increase in the offensive content of military doctrine. This chapter is divided into three parts. Part I discusses the concept of strategic culture in theory, looking chiefly at the work of Elizabeth Kier (1997) and Alastair Iain Johnston (1995a). Part II of this chapter discusses strategic culture in the Indian setting. It first examines the seminal discourse of George Tanham and then relies on the work of Kanti Bajpai and Rajesh Basrur to ascertain the connection sought between strategic culture and military doctrine. It then sketches out issues in Indian strategic culture to conclude whether India has a strategic culture or not, the sub-cultures and the change brought about in political culture by advent of cultural nationalism. Part III of this chapter discusses the organisational culture, which is the intervening variable. The influence and impact of national-level strategic culture on military doctrine is mediated through organisational culture at the military. In this manner, process tracing is undertaken to highlight doctrine is a product of the change in strategic culture in its interaction with a receptive organisational culture.

PART I Cultural Theory Elizabeth Kier, in her work Imagining War: French and Military Doctrine between the Wars (1997), attempts to understand why a state chooses to adopt either an offensive or defensive doctrine (1997: 3). She inquires whether, ‘doctrinal developments are best understood in the cultural perspective’ (ibid.: 3). Her thesis is, first, ‘Making sense of how structures matter or what incentive it provides often requires understanding the meanings that actors attach to their material world’. Second, ‘the intervention of civilian policy-makers is rarely a carefully calculated response to the external environment. Instead, civilian choices between different military policies often reflect their concerns about the domestic balance of power’. To her, this is because, ‘state actors seek to ensure that the military’s potential strength corresponds to the desired division of power in the state and society’. This is especially so, ‘in states that have not reached a consensus about the role of armed services

The Political Factor


in the domestic arena’ (Kier 1997: 3–4). Realist expectations are borne out in states wherein a civilian consensus exists on the role of the military in the domestic arena. To her, ‘the greater the civilian consensus about the position of the military in the state, the more likely it is that international threats and opportunities will shape their decisions’ (ibid.: 141). Contrary to realist thinking, it is not the pursuit of power at the international level that determines civilian choices, but in ‘designing military policy, civilians address their concerns about domestic threats and stability’ (ibid.: 143). Her argument is that realism inspired structural explanations are not enough to understand security approaches of states, and that culture has independent causal power. Kier argues that military doctrine is best understood from a cultural perspective. The cultural approach applies to military organisations as well since decisions of organisations are framed by perceptions of the world. This is due to organisational culture. It constitutes the intervening variable, mediating between national strategic culture and the artefact of strategic culture, military doctrine, the both embodies strategic culture and expresses it. Militaries are not rational actors alone; instead organisational culture constrains the formation of military policy (ibid.). On the origin of choices of military doctrines, she writes, ‘[r]equired to work as a cohesive group and perform selfless tasks, military organisations develop strong collective understandings about the nature of their work and the conduct of their mission, and their organisational cultures influence their choices between offensive and defensive doctrines’. To her, ‘organisational culture alone does not explain doctrinal change; the military’s culture intervenes between civilian decisions and military doctrine. In short, the interaction between constraints set in the domestic political arena and a military’s organisational culture determines choices between offensive and defensive doctrines’ (ibid.: 5). Kier believes that realism and the functional view of military organisations do not contribute adequately to the understanding of doctrine (ibid.: 10). To her, ‘civilians’ cultural understanding of the role of military force in the domestic arena governs their participation in developing doctrine’ (ibid.: 21). Civilian decisions rarely determine doctrine but only set the constraints with the military’s organisational culture intervening between civilian choices


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

and military doctrine (Kier 1997: 27). The functional explanation of the military’s preference for offensive doctrines is related to prestige, resources, certainty and autonomy (as discussed in Chapter 6). Yet, there is little evidence to suggest that militaries exercise the option in favour of offensive doctrines for functional reasons (ibid.: 16). Her counter arguments are that while militaries have been known to choose defensive doctrines; defensive doctrines bolster certainty and also garner greater resources. Sometimes militaries forfeit functional goals (ibid.: 18–19). According to Kier, ‘[m]ilitary organisations do not inherently prefer offensive doctrines; their preferences vary and are a function of their organisational cultures’ (ibid.: 20). Kier finds the logic that civilians promote national interests and militaries parochial interests as inadequate and seeks to establish that: [w]hile civilians interpret military policy according to how it influences power politics at the domestic level, the military reacts to civilian decisions through the means available in its culture; . . . understanding the interests that civilians and the military bring to doctrinal decisions requires taking into account the cultural dimension of domestic politics and organisational life (ibid.: 20).

The cultural explanation is also favoured by Jeffrey Legro. His finding is that, ‘organisational culture leads to dynamics in use and restraint that are not predicted by the randomness of friction, the security dilemma, or traditional organisation theory’. He emphasises on domestic determinants of the use of force. According to him, the domestic determinants have been neglected by security studies literature in favour of international determinants of the use of force (Legro 1994: 110). While, organisation theory suggests that militaries foster escalation, his finding, drawing on organisational culture, is that militaries can reinforce, restraint or instigate escalation (ibid.:111). Legro defines organisational culture as, ‘[t]he patterns of assumptions, ideas, and beliefs that prescribe how a group should adapt to external environment and manage its internal structure’ (ibid.: 115). Culture is a collectively held phenomenon (Kier 1997: 152; Legro 1994: 116). It is a set of unselfconscious assumptions so as to seem a natural, transparent, undeniable and rarely debated part of the structure of the world (Kier 1997: 26). Military culture comprises

The Political Factor


‘beliefs and norms about the optimal means to fight wars’ (Legro 1994: 109). Legro regards organisational culture as ‘the pattern of assumptions, ideas, and beliefs that prescribe how a military bureaucracy should conduct battle’ (ibid.: 117). He sees these as ‘paradigms’ or ‘maps’ for action on specific means of warfare. This has an autonomous influence on military preferences and is subsumed in doctrine. Therefore, organisational culture influences doctrine and is expressed by it. Strategic choice reflects cultural influences. In short, culture matters. Kier’s work is pitched at the national and organisational level, while that of Legro at the next lower, bureaucratic level. There is an interaction between the two levels, unit and organisational. Legro discerns this stating, ‘[h]ow a military bureaucracy should conduct battle will influence state preferences and action on the use of that means’ (ibid.: 117). However, the reverse may not be equally true. Kier’s scepticism of the reverse is evident in her refutation of organisational theorists’ argument that, ‘the values and attitudes of larger society are an important source of an organisation’s culture’ (Kier 1997: 149). Instead to her, ‘the culture of a total institution like the military can override societal influences or early socialisation patterns’ (ibid.: 151). Military organisational culture exists independently of political culture or strategic culture. Kier’s position is that civilians set the constraints; the military in turn interprets these through the prism of military culture (1995: 68). They are thus interrelated and, therefore, can be discussed together. Yitzhak Klein defines strategic culture as, ‘the habits of thought and action . . . of particular national military establishments or sets of attitudes and beliefs held within a military establishment concerning the political objective of war and the most effective strategy and operational method of achieving it’ (Klein 1991: 5). As will be seen in the next section, this understanding pitches strategic culture too narrowly, making it akin to military doctrine. The intervening variable — organisational culture — is not alluded to by Klein. The term ‘political culture’ is pitched at the level of national politics. Strategic culture is the political–military sub-culture (strategic culture), i.e., policy-makers’ beliefs (Kier 1995: 69) while organisational culture is rooted in the organisation. In Kier’s words, ‘organisational culture alone does not explain doctrine. There must be some change in the external environment of the organisation —


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

primarily as a result of domestic politics — to which the organisational culture reacts’ (Kier 1995: 71). This implies that a three-step process is required for tracing the origins of doctrine in this theoretical perspective: political culture, strategic culture and organisational culture. Strategic culture and organisational culture are taken here as independent and intervening variables, respectively. In this study, the first step — political culture — is briefly covered in terms of changes in domestic politics, particularly the rise of cultural nationalism. The second (strategic culture) and third (organisational culture) steps that are directly consequential for military doctrine are dwelt on in greater length. Probing of organisational culture is to set the stage for the next chapter, that is, a look ‘within’, at the organisational level.

Strategic Culture in Theory Johnston’s Conceptualisation ‘Strategic culture’ is a term attributed to Jack Snyder (1977), who defines it as ‘sum total of ideals, conditional emotional responses, and patterns of habitual behaviour that members of the national strategic community have acquired through instruction or imitation and share with each other with regard to national strategy’ (Johnston 1995a: 36; Kerttunen 2009: 27). According to Alastair Iain Johnston, culture or political culture ‘consists of shared assumptions and decision rules that impose a degree of order on individual and group conceptions of their relationship to their social, organisational or political environment’ (Johnston 1995a: 45). Culture effects behaviour by limiting options (Johnston 1995b: 34). This it does by imposing a rough order on conceptions of the political environment in light of shared political codes, rules, recipes, and assumptions. The shared assumptions are regarding orderliness, causality, goals, and attitudes to risk, in-group and out group, etc. It amounts to a ‘mind set’, limiting attention from the full range of problems and solutions to a narrow, specific, band (Johnston 1995a: 45). While there is a dominant culture in favour of status quo, multiple cultures exist alongside (Johnston 1995a: 45; Johnston 1995b: 10, 35; Kier 1997: 27). Strategic culture ‘is an ideational milieu which limits behavioural choices’ (Johnston 1995a: 46). Strategic culture ‘provides the milieu

The Political Factor


in which strategy is debated’ (Lantis and Howlett 2007: 86). Johnston defines it as ‘an integrated system of symbols (e.g., argumentation structures, languages, analogies, metaphors) which acts to establish pervasive and long lasting strategic preferences by formulating concepts of the role and efficacy of military force in interstate political affairs, and by clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the strategic preferences seem uniquely realistic and efficacious’ (Johnston 1995a: 46). In effect, strategic culture consists of basic assumptions about the strategic environment and the role of war, about the nature of and threat posed by the adversary, and about the efficacy of the use of force (ibid.). The secondary part of strategic culture is of assumptions at the operational level, such as, what strategic options are most efficacious in dealing with the threat. This is analogous to Kier’s concept of political–military and organisational culture, respectively. Therefore, looking at culture at these two levels for its explanatory power for doctrinal change appears warranted. Also, changes in political–military or strategic culture is a product of changing domestic political contexts (Johnston 1995b: 20). Johnston argues that there was evidence of two strategic cultures, ‘one a symbolic or idealised set of assumptions and ranked preferences, and one an operational set that had a non-trivial effect on strategic choice’ (ibid.: x). His thesis is that, ‘strategic culture consists of two basic elements — (a) a central paradigm that supplies answers to three basic, related questions about the nature of conflict in human affairs, the nature of the enemy, and efficacy of violence; and (b) a ranked set of strategic preferences logically derived from these central assumptions’ (ibid.: ix–x). The former ‘symbolic set’ is to justify behaviour in culturally acceptable terms. The latter, ‘operational set’ — termed parabellum or hard realpolitik strategic culture — is a preference for ‘eliminating’ security threats. His finding is that states are pre-disposed to the use of force not because of prevalent anarchical structures, but the underlying parabellum strategic culture (ibid.: 2). Thus, even as he finds ‘Chinese’ strategic culture to exist, parabellum strategic culture is cross cultural and learned, making realpolitik behaviour a product of a ‘cultural realist’ norm — an ideational source of state behaviour’ (ibid.: 31). This, to Johnston, implies that strategic culture is not self-evidently unique to China or different from


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

certain strains in Western realpolitik thought and practice. He writes: The symbolic set, for most part, is disconnected from the programmatic decision rules governing strategy, and appears mostly in an habitual discourse designed, in part, to justify behavior in culturally acceptable terms. The operational set reflects what I call parabellum or hardpolitik strategic culture that, in essence, argues that the best way of dealing with security threats is to eliminate them through the use of force. This preference is tempered by one’s own capacity to do this. In other words, the operational strategic culture predisposes those socialized in it to act more coercively against an enemy as relative capabilities become more favourable (Johnston 1995a: x)

Elaborating the Concept Distinguishing between political, strategic and organisational cultures is necessary (Kerttunen 2009: 30). These three are ideally interconnected, mutually constituting and reinforcing. Political culture is the wider ‘ideational code’ or ‘a short hand expression’ of ‘mind set’ that is ‘property of the collectivity’ (Rosen 1995: 12). It influences strategic culture. Yitzhak Klein in his Theory of Strategic Culture retains the first two levels, but uses the term ‘operational’ instead for the third, that is, organisational (Klein 1991: 9). Strategic culture spatially covers the higher echelons of political–military decisionmaking structures and the security community (Kerttunen 2009: 81); ideationally includes, the rules and resources; and, finally, it is constituted by practices and actions. Rules and regulations are a product of constitutional limits, administrative arrangements and practices, historical experience, and the sociological and political framework (ibid.: 30–31). Strategic culture can be taken as the subset of ‘political culture’ relating to attitudes and behaviour relevant to peace and security. Stephen Rosen, who examined India’s military culture, ascribes the term to the subset of political-military decision makers, to capture beliefs and assumptions that frame their choices about international military behaviour, particularly those concerning decisions to go to war, preferences for offensive, expansionist or defensive modes of warfare, and levels of wartime casualties that would be acceptable (1995: 12).

The Political Factor


Strategic culture has its sources in physical, political and sociocultural factors. Among the physical factors that impact strategic culture are geography, climate, material, and human resources and technology. The political factor subsumes historical experience, political system, elite beliefs and civil–military interface. The sociocultural factors include myths, symbols and defining texts (Lantis and Howlett 2007: 88). The ‘keepers’ of strategic culture are the strategic elites. This includes the ‘strategic community’, the ‘attentive’ public (Malik 2009: 267) and the security establishment comprising of the military, internal security, intelligence, technologist, and foreign policy bureaucracies. The latter comprise organisations charged with formulation and execution of security policies. Their collective institutional pre-dispositions help constitute strategic culture (Lantis and Howlett 2007: 92). While Klein restricts strategic culture to the military establishment, here the term is taken as extending to those with an organisational stake and institutional interest in security issues, including the growing military–industrial complex. Strategic sub-cultures co-exist with dominant strategic cultures and there is consequently coalition and consensus building efforts by players including lobbying with political parties. The possibility of strategic cultural dissonance exists in which there is a contest between traditional strategic orientations and re-orientations. While continuity is intrinsic to strategic culture, strategic culture is not static either. Kerttunen writes that, ‘it is correct to claim that cultures, even strategic cultures, evolve . . . change is a constant factor, though the speed of change is rarely even’ (2009: 303–31). Learning, generational change, technology, internal political shifts, and external shocks provide the impetus to change, such as ideological change in internal politics. Security policy is an expression of strategic culture. Security policy informs doctrinal thinking through the prism of the military’s organisational culture. This is how strategic culture and organisational culture affect doctrine.

PART II Indian Strategic Culture? The Tanham thesis With the winding down of the Cold War, both India and the United States of America (US) started to re-cast respective approaches to


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

the world and to each other. The US Department of Defence commissioned the RAND Corporation to do a project on ‘India’s Future Strategic Role and Power Potential’ to understand better India’s place in the post-Cold War world. The team leader was George K. Tanham (Subrahmanyam and Monteiro 2005: 3). His influential findings are elaborated upon in Indian Strategic Thought: An Interpretive Essay (Tanham 1992). A summary of Tanham’s observations is a useful starting point in a discussion of India’s strategic culture. His main point is that India lacked a strategic culture (Subrahmanyam 2005: 3). K. Subrahmanyam concurs, writing, ‘a strategic thinking deficit exists in India’ (ibid.: i). He scathingly observes that, ‘[o]ur government, however, has had no strategic culture, and has never thought and planned ahead and never offensively’ (ibid.: 16). His reflection on this theme (ibid.: 15) remained consistent even before the onset of strategic culture theorising. As early as mid-eighties, he had argued, ‘[u]sually politicians, diplomats and academics indulge in the normative approach in the absence of their thinking through what India’s national interests are, what the current international strategic environment is, what the realities of power are, and how India would secure its interests and values in the current global strategic environment’ (Subrahmanyam 1986: 258). As an example, he cites the Pokhran decision of 1974 as ‘an ad hoc decision of one person . . . (and) in equally ad hoc fashion the scientists were asked not to conduct any more tests’ (ibid.: 259). Presently, the situation has not changed much in terms of lack of institutionalisation of decision-making. General S. Padmanabhan, the then Army Chief, was given no indication of the aim of Operation Parakram (Noorani 2005: 8). The General’s irritation has been reproduced by Noorani: On operational matters there is a need to meticulously record the proceedings of various meetings, councils of war and like, so that the rationale for any action taken at a critical period of our history does not become a matter for speculation but can be read easily from the records. It is even more important that the government’s directives to the chairman, chiefs of staff committee and the service chiefs invariably be in writing (ibid.: 8).

According to Bajpai, the view that India lacks a strategic culture is ‘not altogether incorrect’ (2002: 246), since the only exception to

The Political Factor


India’s absence of central canonical texts has been the ancient classic, Kautilya’s Arthasastra (ibid.: 250; Cohen 2001: 11; Kerttunen 2009: 60). Consequently, he notes the difficulty in tracing India’s strategic culture with any academic rigor. This makes a ‘collagelike’ approach necessary. To him, ‘ever since the end of the Cold War, at least three different streams of thinking are vying for dominance’ (Bajpai 2002: 245), namely Nehruvianism, neo-liberalism and hyperrealism (ibid.: 251). He argues that Indian strategic culture has an identifiable set of basic assumptions about the nature of international relations, some of which are shared between the three ‘schools’ or ‘sub-cultures’. The shared features include, first, that at the heart of international relations is the notion of the sovereign state that recognises no higher authority; second, that interests, power, and violence are the staples of international relations; and, last, conflict and war are a constant shadow over inter-state relations (ibid.). Rajesh Basrur’s understanding (2006) of change in strategic culture is of consequence here. The change in strategic culture towards greater power assertion is taken as influencing the doctrine for greater offensive content. Basrur does not delve ‘deep’ into history, since India’s nuclear posture of ‘nuclear minimalism’ that he examines is of recent vintage. His defining of strategic culture as crystallisation over time of integrated sets of choices into a pattern of thought and action helps in understanding strategic behaviour and in anticipating alteration in response to environmental changes. His position is that ‘while state-level decisions about strategy in the context of systemic anarchy are made by conscious choice, strategic culture itself shapes policy in the long run . . . strategic culture acts as an intermediate structure which moulds the responses of the state to external and internal stimuli’ (ibid.: 55). Two aspects of interest in Basrur’s interpretation are change and the ‘operation set’ of strategic culture. On change, he writes, ‘[b]ecause it (strategic behaviour) is not static, it does tend to change in response to shifting threat perceptions and motivations’ (ibid.: 49). To him, strategic culture is dynamic and open to change (ibid.: 50). Strategic culture, being socially constructed, is constantly subjected to change (Basrur 2001: 184). Basrur discerns this in relation to nuclear doctrine, noting that the ‘once predominantly political understanding of nuclear weapons has slowly given way to a more


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

operational conception of those weapons’ (Basrur 2001a: 195). He writes: [w]ithout being static, strategic culture narrows the range of choices when there is pressure for change. In the normal course, strategic culture changes slowly, but accumulated change over time may make a substantial difference. Because it is dynamic, it needs monitoring and appropriate social action to reinforce or change it as desired (Basrur 2006: 55).

Basrur’s interpretation of Johnston’s ‘operational set’ involves operationalisation of responses in terms of the quality and quantity of military forces considered necessary for attaining national objectives (ibid.: 54). Given the similarity with the definition of doctrine, this can be likened to doctrine. Basrur’s ‘basic assumptions and beliefs’ are equivalent to Johnston’s higher order ‘symbolic set’, comprising fundamental understandings on the nature of security environment, role of force, threat perception and response. These set the context of the lower order ‘operational level’ or doctrine (ibid.: 58).

Strategic Sub-cultures Clearly, as can be expected from a continental-sized country of India’s complexity, its strategic culture is not monolithic (Jones 2006: 1). Rahul Sagar (2009), following Bajpai, notes four competing visions on India’s place in the international system of moralists, Hindu nationalists, strategists and liberals. There is competition within the sub-cultures. This can be expected to be accentuated by democracy and India’s continent-like size and its internal diversity. The political dominance of one over the other brings about slow and incremental change in strategic culture. Since they have similar positions on various security issues, the change is seldom drastic. Discontinuities nevertheless occur, for instance, in the nuclear tests. While there was a consensus in keeping the option open, exercising it was a decision taken by those wanting a shift in strategic culture towards a more assertive India as part of their vision. Mehta differentiates foreign policy along two strands — an idealist ‘Asokan’ one; and a realist ‘Kautilayan’ one. India’s foreign policy is usually taken as a combination of these two modes of thinking (Cohen 2001: 64; Mehta 2009: 210). To a sceptic, the

The Political Factor


idealist strand is merely a cover for weakness to carve out some space for itself (Mehta 2009: 211). Cohen uses the terms Gandhian and Machiavellian (2001: 63). Likewise, Subrahmanyam divides the strategic community into two types: ‘the relatively small but very vociferous “boy scouts” who are more comfortable to see India as one of many developing countries that need to overcome poverty, etc.; and the majority that would like to see India as a civilisationally and culturally befitting major power’ (Subrahmanyam 1986: 260–61). From the foregoing it is evident that India has strategic sub-cultures and their votaries are in constant tussle for the political high ground. The passing of power from one group to the other in terms of defining the strategic doctrine enables their control of the state’s strategic orientation.

India’s ‘Symbolic Set’ India’s ‘symbolic set’ or higher order strategic culture is in India’s aims of territorial integrity, quest for being recognised as a power of consequence, and creating optimal conditions for its internal development (Mehta 2009: 227). Yet like Tanham, Sundarji and Subrahmanyam (Subrahmanyam 2005: 7), Mehta’s view of the major ingredient is that, ‘Almost all of India’s security policy, whether nuclear or conventional had been driven by a deeply defensive idea’ (Mehta 2009: 223) formulated in the context of defending territory (ibid.: 216). To Mehta, ‘[t]he only incontrovertible conclusion one can come to is that India is, to put it mildly, skittish, about using force as an instrument for foreign policy objectives’ (ibid.: 230). He describes the practice of foreign policy as ‘cautious prudence’ (ibid.: 230). This owes to India not having a tradition of thought that thinks of ‘power as an objective’ of foreign policy (ibid.: 219). India’s realist framework is constrained more as a consequence of its military, social and political ‘incapacity’ (ibid.: 212), since foreign policy has to be ‘conducted with the consciousness that the use of force is not readily available as an instrumentality of projecting power’ (ibid.: 230). His observations point inevitably to the influence of higher order strategic culture, which foreign policy can only reflect. Given this influence of strategic culture on foreign policy, it can be inferred that strategic culture has a similar constraining influence on military action. In the 1947–48 War, India did not proceed with the complete integration of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

It took the case to the United Nations instead. In 1962, India accepted the ceasefire of the Chinese, instead of carrying on with the war after re-arming itself with foreign help on offer then. It agreed to a ceasefire in the 1965 War and returned the captured territory at the Tashkent Conference in early January 1966. It did not take the 1971 War into West Pakistan (Cohen and Dasgupta 2010: 9). Even in internal security operations, its doctrine has been one of considerable restraint in the use of force even though the military has expansive powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). It has not employed higher calibre weapons and the air force, other than briefly in Mizoram in 1966. In the Kargil conflict its forces and air power did not cross the Line of Control, though at a considerable cost of lives. It did not use the terror attack on Parliament in December 2001 as a casus belli to launch a war against Pakistan. It maintained its ‘strategy of restraint’ despite the enormous terrorist provocation in the form of the Mumbai 26/11 attack (ibid.: 13). Even though it has gone nuclear, it has an NFU doctrine, a unilateral moratorium against testing in place, pursues minimum deterrence, abjures nuclear arms racing and is a major voice favouring disarmament through a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

India’s ‘Operational Set’ In contrast to the ‘symbolic set’ is India’s ‘operational set’. The Nehruvian security doctrine was the dominant doctrine in the early years. The ingredients of this doctrine were anti-colonialism, Asian solidarity, non-alignment, countervailing external involvement in the region; taking the Himalayan crest as India’s security perimeter, and lastly, self-reliance in both the conventional and nuclear fields (Bajpai 1983: 66–67). Additionally, subsequent to Nehru, was the increasing importance of the nuclear and maritime dimensions. Nehru had judiciously kept open the possibility of the former in his stewardship along with Homi Bhabha of the civilian nuclear programme. The choice was exercised by his successor, Lal Bahadur Shastri in permitting the Subterranean Nuclear Explosion Project (SNEP) (Raja Mohan 2003: 10) The ‘Indira doctrine’ in the seventies and eighties was less averse to use of force for furthering Indian interests (Sengupta 1983; Vanaik 1995: 35–36). This owed to the prevalent view similar to the ‘Monroe doctrine’, that ‘the sub-continent was its (India’s) exclusive sphere of influence

The Political Factor


and the sense that bilateralism must remain the dominant method of resolving regional disputes’ (Raja Mohan 2003: 253). It involved being more sensitive to external power rivalry being played out in the region and the Indian Ocean. India’s maritime ambitions date to the eighties. The practical manifestation of this was in the 1971 War and later in the involvement leading up to intervention in Sri Lanka under Rajiv Gandhi. Insight on India’s parabellum culture or the ‘operational set’ can be had from its record of resort to use of force and threat of force. The very first instance was within a few months from Independence. This included military action taken for integrating princely states of Junagadh and J&K. Thereafter, police action was taken against the Nizam’s State of Hyderabad in 1948. India, proactively, evicted the Portuguese from the peninsula in 1961. A ‘forward policy’ was followed in respect of tackling the Chinese threat across the Himalayas since 1959, which culminated in Jawaharlal Nehru ordering eviction of the Chinese in 1962, prior to his visit to Sri Lanka. India expanded the scope of the 1965 conflict that was initially in Jammu & Kashmir to the plains in Punjab. It intervened in the internal conflict in East Pakistan in 1971 and executed a meticulously planned and prepared military operation in November–December the same year. It, similarly, carried out the occupation of Saltoro heights in Siachen in 1984 and has maintained its occupation since. In internal security, it deployed the Army in the north-east in the fifties and sixties and later, in Punjab in the eighties. Its peacekeeping operation in north and east Sri Lanka turned into an enforcement action in 1987. It has used military exercises for signalling its resolve in the eighties to both Pakistan and China in the form of the Exercise Brasstacks and Exercise Chequerboard, respectively. The former turned into the crisis of 1987 (Cohen and Dasgupta 2010: 11) and the latter was the Sumdorong Chu crisis on the eastern front later the same year. Through the nineties, the Army was deployed in J&K under laws permissive of the use of force such as the AFSPA. The military determinedly evicted Pakistani intruders from Kargil in 1999 and implemented coercive diplomacy in 2001–02. India has, since the start of its military-oriented nuclear programme in the mid-sixties, evolved into a nuclear power with second strike capability. It is aiming for bolstering its second strike capability through acquisition of nuclear ballistic missile submarines over


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the decade. It has consistently numbered among the foremost arms importers (Pandit 2011a) and is opening up its defence sector to private companies and foreign investment (MoD website n.d.). It has moved to a proactive military doctrine, countenancing offensive operations over the past decade. The military has consistently adopted a position against demilitarisation of Siachen (Noorani 2010). It has been protective of the AFSPA in its deployment in countering insurgency. From the foregoing, it would appear that a parabellum strategic culture (noted by Johnston in Chinese context) is present in India as well. This validates Johnston’s expectation that this characteristic is shared by states in general and is not unique to China. India, therefore is no exception. Highlighting this aspect is important in face of commentary that India is excessively defensive in the resort to force. The argument that follows usually is that the reticent posture needs changing to a more pro-active one. The point made here is to the contrary, that India has not shied away from the use of force. Such resort has been discreet and conditioned by strategic considerations. It has displayed both resolve and restraint. The sobering corollary is that there is no need for Indian policy-makers to be apologetic and over-compensate in order to escape realisminspired criticism.

Change in Strategic Culture Change is visible in India’s strategic culture with the Nehruvian paradigm having made way for the ‘Indira doctrine’, setting the stage for a more realist orientation. While Nehruvianism dominated earlier, a new breed of neo-liberals and hyperrealists comprising ‘insurgent’ alternatives has grown in influence (Bajpai 2006: 76). He informs us that, ‘Indian thinking has evolved in a more hyperrealist direction since September 11 and particularly after December 13. The biggest changes are in respect to the utility of force’ (Bajpai 2002: 291). Among the primary reasons for change in India’s strategic culture would reckon the increasing power indices of India, positioning it as a potential great power. These reflect and bring about a greater inclination for India to play a larger role. While this was true of Nehruvian India, that managed to ‘punch above its weight’, in the Indira–Rajiv era, India was assertive in the region as also attempted to retain its earlier international stature. The policy did not work

The Political Factor


too well as exemplified by the peacekeeping failure in Sri Lanka and the economic crisis coinciding with the outbreak of insurgency in Kashmir. After a decade of being on the strategic defensive, India has attempted to break out beginning with the nuclear blasts of 1998. The change over the last decade is towards a more proactive India; the difference this time round from the earlier two periods of relative pre-eminence is that India has the requisite power credentials. Alongside there is an additional ingredient of cultural nationalism. This has been an understudied feature in strategic studies since the discipline, in the main, has an outward orientation. Engelmeier accounts for the change in developments in Indian political culture brought about by advent of cultural nationalism (Engelmeier 2009: 71), arguing: That is not to say however that there is no Indian strategic culture. There is one — but it is not defined by ancient tradition. It is defined, rather by the modern imagining of the Indian nation, by what nationalists have interpreted and institutionalized as Indian political culture. From a diverse cultural legacy, a certain view of Indian strategic culture was constructed by way of emphasis, selection, and interpretation. Strategic culture is the product of the dynamics created by nationalism. Nationalism in turn references aspects of traditional culture (ibid.: 57).

Stephen Cohen seconds the observation of influence of politics on strategic thinking. He writes that the Nehruvian perspective has been credibly challenged by ‘a renascent conservative-realist perspective and second a more ideologically-driven Hindutva (or revitalist Hindu) viewpoint’ (Cohen 2001: 43). According to him, revitalists subscribe to a culture-driven view of the world. They are inclined to stress the active nature of conflict between civilisations. They think India, being non-aggressive, has been mistakenly taken to be weak and submissive (ibid.: 45). Much of the inspiration for the strategic vision of revitalists has origin in domestic politics (ibid.: 47). Cohen concludes that the interaction between foreign policy and domestic pressures will always be a factor shaping policy (ibid.: 63). Cultural nationalists, noticing the internal diversity and taking it to be a weakness, use a ‘harmonising’ ideology to strengthen internal unity. The use of the ‘Other’ in making of the Self is a useful and well known tactic towards such an end. Nationalists for their part


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want a muscular India, in keeping with its size, potential and past stature. The middle classes that are politically better placed in a liberalising India want to feel good about themselves and their place in the world. Since India’s developmental indices do not help much with this, India’s remarkable record in niche sectors as information technology, space and the nuclear sector help buoy self-belief and image. It is no wonder that developments such as the inter-continental missile, multiple warhead and sea-borne nuclear capabilities projected with fanfare by the nuclear scientific establishment seek to compensate for India’s record in reaching development with equity to its people. The change in political culture has influenced India’s strategic culture towards a greater degree of power assertion. This implies that the structural level explanation is only partial and requires supplementing, if not supplanting, with a corresponding cultural one.

The Nuclear Domain In theory, there are three impetuses to states going nuclear: realism or state security, domestic politics model involving coalitions seeking institutional power, and the norms model in which weapons are seen as symbols of modernity and identity (Sagan 1996–97). Correspondingly, in the Indian case too, the drivers for nuclearisation include the nuclear relationship between China and Pakistan, the decreasing scope for tests with Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) constraints coming into place, bureaucratic thrust of the nuclear strategic enclave, etc. However, neo-cultural theory would have it that the cultural factor in terms of national pride, prestige, power quest, and display of modernity, etc., has also been consequential. Culture gives meaning to the external world. This implies that perception of actions of other states as ‘threats’, owes to how these are interpreted through the cultural lens. The constructivist school has it that ‘anarchy is what states make of it’. While anarchy is a structural characteristic, this does not necessarily imply self-help. The ‘culture of anarchy’ prevalent — Hobbesian (conflictual), Lockean (tolerant), Kantian (cooperative) — would inform state response (Jackson and Sorensen 2010: 168). While states possess military power, this is not by default seen as potentially threatening by other states. How other states view a state’s power is shaped by

The Political Factor


ideas. Cultures of anarchy other than the Hobbesian one of war by all against all, can possibly be envisaged and shaped. In India’s case the contest for identity has affected its view on its self interests. Interests are inherently contested and the political sphere is where the contest is played out. Nuclearisation and strategic culture are intimately linked with the change in the latter enabling the former and the former ensuring further change in the latter. Kanti Bajpai brings out the domestic roots of strategy arguing that the need for affirmation of deeper well springs of identity — nationalism, sovereignty, modernity, etc. — helps build public support for policies. This can be used for political purposes in the ‘cut and thrust’ of domestic politics. The option to test had not been exercised earlier despite its existence (Bajpai 2009b: 61). The change in strategic culture was occasioned by prior internal political change that had been occurring in India at least since the early eighties with the ascendance of the conservative right in national politics. The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) National Executive resolution of July 1985 had made its stand clear by stating: ‘Reports from Pakistan indicate that the threat of a Pakistani Nuclear Bomb is real and an immediate response to this is necessary. The BJP, therefore, calls upon the government to take immediate steps to develop our own nuclear bomb’ (Hymans 2006: 199). Deepa Olappally finds the rise to power of the conservative led formation, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), as a ‘critical variable’ (2001: 933). The leading party’s ideology facilitated the decision to test, but it was helped to a great degree by an increasingly permissive domestic environment made possible by the nationalist discourse (ibid.: 934). Priyanjali Malik sees the tests as: [a] show of defiance, a celebration that India could decide for itself what its security interests should be . . . India’s nuclear arsenal was and continues to be co-opted into a political imagining of the country, as attentive India seeks to define a global, regional and domestic role for the country for its next 50 years of independent existence . . . It will be somewhat different from the earlier idea of India that privileged the legacies of Gandhi and Nehru (2009: 272–73).

C. Raja Mohan opines that, ‘fundamentally, the nuclear tests and post-Pokhran diplomacy changed the way Indian elite began to think about external relations and diplomacy’ (2003: 27). The strategic


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high point, that he terms as ‘crossing the rubicon’ (Raja Mohan 2003: xiii) and has used in the title of his book, changed ‘the philosophical premises of India’s engagement with the external world’. This can obviously be expected to have had equal influence on security policy. The major impact has been the offensive turn to strategic culture as reflected in the nuclear doctrine. The original Indian quest for the bomb was prompted by a belief in ‘minimum deterrence’. In abandoning recessed deterrence with the tests, the Draft Nuclear Doctrine led to a firming in of the formulation: ‘credible minimum deterrence’, thus making certain that credibility supersedes minimum thereafter. Further, Scott Sagan observes this, writing ‘India’s nuclear doctrine in 2003 moved, subtly but clearly, away from the pure form of no first use that was previously espoused toward a more flexible and potentially “offensive” nuclear doctrine’ (ibid.: 221). The offensive tendency is visible (ibid.: 245–51) from, first, the use of term ‘massive’ to indicate the nature of nuclear retaliation. Since this is not required to inflict ‘unacceptable damage’, Rajesh Rajagopalan takes it as an adhoc modification. Interestingly, while Rajagopalan takes the term as being introduced into the discussion for the first time in the doctrine (Rajagopalan 2008a: 196), it was in fact earlier mentioned by Jasjit Singh twice in his discussion on command and control (Singh 2001: 148). Second was the expansion of the deterrent to cover a major attack by chemical and biological weapons (Rajagopalan 2008a: 196; Sagan 2009: 248). Lately, a case has been made by nuclear maximalists for resumption of testing, the argument being made that the thermonuclear test of 1998 was a ‘fizzle’ (Parashar 2009). It is debatable if a thermonuclear weapon is essential to ‘credible’ deterrence and if on inclusion in the arsenal, would the arsenal remain minimal. There are also periodic reports on prompting concerns over the status of the NFU tenet (Sagan 2009: 249; Narang 2011). Sagan attributes these changes to two reasons: ‘These doctrinal changes in India were produced in part by Indian civilian leaders’ reactions to the 1999 Kargil War and the 2001–2002 military crisis with Pakistan . . . in making these changes, the Indian military leadership and nuclear strategists have been strongly influenced by cultural norms, especially through copying perceived innovations in U.S. nuclear weapons doctrine’ (Sagan 2009: 221). Imitation of the Bush administration’s security activism indicated influence

The Political Factor


of ‘global political culture’ (ibid.: 225). This was evident in the tenet having nuclear weapons also as counter for other weapons of mass destruction, as was the case in the US National Strategic Review of 2002 (NPR 2002). Admittedly, restraint is visible alongside in the inclusion of NFU, in the moratorium on nuclear tests and intent to participate in arms control and disarmament regimes. The mini case study on nuclearisation brings out the political milieu at the turn of the century. The changed political context has provided the backdrop for the military to assimilate the strategic change, forced by nuclearisation, into a conventional doctrine. Since the political factor has impacted strategic culture in a positive way, making it tend towards strategic assertion, the military has proved responsive. The receptivity of the military to the change now requires ascertaining. This is done in the next part by looking at organisational culture, since it is through this prism of organisational culture that the military has viewed the contextual changes taking place in the domain of domestic politics.

PART III Organisational Culture in Theory In this part an attempt has been made to trace the linkage between national strategic culture and the military’s organisational culture. The latter is what determines doctrine more directly, as against the former that is at best an indirect influence. Since nuclear weapons are at the political–military interface, attention to nuclear doctrine has been considerably more in literature. Discussions on antecedents of conventional doctrine have suffered in contrast. Limited War, taken as lying within the military domain, has commanded less interest and attention. However, sparse discussion on the concept of Limited War does not mean that the changed elements of strategic culture are without effect. A link can be drawn between the two. Cohen and Dasgupta express a widely held perception thus: ‘One of the most remarkable attributes of India as an independent nation has been its longstanding restraint in military strategy. Reticence in the use of force as an instrument of state policy has been the dominant political condition for Indian thinking on military, including military modernisation’ (Cohen and Dasgupta 2010: 1). Closer scrutiny of this widely held perspective suggests that it has been under considerable pressure from change in strategic culture over at least three decades.


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An expression of change has been military doctrine. The influence of strategic culture is mediated by organisational culture. Tracing organisational culture is an inherently subjective exercise, amounting as it does to selecting elements from a mosaic. Moreover, it is difficult to speak of a military as a monolith, knowing that it is internally variegated. Essentially, the military’s organisational culture has had a offensive bias. An earlier defensive bias, prevalent arguably till the 1965 War, is no longer apposite (Ahmed 2009b). The pre-existing offensive tendency in the military’s organisational culture, coupled with a change towards an assertive strategic culture, led to adoption of a proactive, offensive military doctrine. The change in strategic culture provided an enabling environment — intellectually and culturally — in sync with the organisation’s own predispositions. Elizabeth Kier’s work on French military doctrine indicates how domestic political factors combine with organisational culture to produce military doctrine (Sagan 2000: 32). While politicians of the Left who came to power, decided to cut short the conscription period to one year, the French military decided that this period was too short to produce troops trained for offensive tasks. So, though the generals preferred the offensive, they chose a defensive doctrine. However, the Germans similarly constrained, decided that even short-term conscripts could undergo offensive training and could be so employed. Kier attributes this difference to differing organisational culture. Another example of organisational culture is on how armies react, based on differing organisational cultures. The Pakistani and Indian armies approached nuclearisation differently. While Pakistan observed a window-of-opportunity for launching the long-planned Kargil operations (Sidhu 2000: 145), India believed that the door to conventional operations had been shut. It was only after the Kargil War, that the Indian Army began thinking along lines of Limited War. Rajesh Rajagopalan has contrasted hypothesis drawing on neo-realist theory with those reliant on organisational culture. His hypothesis in his book, Fighting Like a Guerrilla: The Indian Army and Counterinsurgency (2008b) drawing on organisational theory was that the army’s culture, that specified traditional high intensity war, led up to a conventional war bias in the army’s counterinsurgency doctrine. Elements in the culture resisted development of the appropriate counter insurgency doctrine (ibid.: 178–83).

The Political Factor


Counter-insurgency doctrinal principles included minimum force, isolating the insurgent, dominating the area and maintaining force superiority (Rajagopalan 2008b: 156). Other than the first principle, the remaining three reflected the conventional war bias. This indicates that organisational culture is pervaded by a conventional war orientation and, there is a bias towards high intensity conventional operations. This finding could serve to explain the limited extent to which the Limited War thinking has been taken up in its conventional doctrine.

Military Culture? The organisational culture specific to military organisations, and which distinguishes them from other organisations in general, owes to their professional obligation of fighting the nation’s wars (Huntington 1957: 59–79). That the military is a profession with expertise, corporateness and social responsibility is well recognised (ibid.: 7–18). This ensures the military’s distinctiveness, along with the concept of ‘unlimited liability’ of its members. Their obligation is not only to fight, but also to ensure a win, even at the peril of their lives. This professional obligation informs the military’s unique culture. However, in the nuclear age, the accent on winning wars is watered down and not necessary to achieve the political objective. There are two problems with achieving the political objective. The first is the kind of medium war in terms of interplay of uncertainty and chance, and the second is that the enemy has an adversarial agency. Additionally, each military has its own unique cultural characteristics emerging from the context framed by society, civil– military relations and history. The strategic culture specific to the military, or its organisational culture, has been defined by Yitzak Klein as, ‘[t]he set of attitudes and beliefs held within the military establishment concerning the political objectives of war and the most effective strategy and operational method of achieving it’ (1991: 11). Klein admits that while militaries trade in ‘facts’, strategic culture operates to sift certain ‘facts’ from the plethora of information and helps to order them into a coherent whole. Five cultural ingredients can be identified, albeit subjectively, for the purposes here: sensitivity to viability of deterrence; preference for an all-dimensional capability including, nuclear; aversion to internal security; wanting a ‘say’ in policy; and appreciation for integration, ‘jointness’.


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

Encapsulation of organisational culture must necessarily begin with major ingredients of the military’s world view. The military sees its role as deterrence, fulfilled by preparedness to win the nation’s wars. Towards this end, maintaining a large and expensive military is necessary (Chaudhuri 1973: 13), in part because politically loss of territory was potentially costly (ibid.: 10). The military’s commitment to this role explains its preference for high technology; indigenous, if not then acquired from outside the country. An enduring engagement with its primary role is understandable. The role has been defined in its doctrine, Indian Army Doctrine, as, ‘[p]reserve national interests and safeguard sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of India against any external threats by deterrence or by waging war’ (2004: 9). The nuclear corollary is in nuclearisation, not restricted to being a nuclear weapon power but having the panoply of nuclear power. Chaudhuri, even prior to the 1971 War, argued that, ‘[a] position might well arise where in the not too distant future, our failure to go atomic soon, could place India politically and militarily in an inferior position by her inability to keep up with an inevitable development in weaponry’ (1973: 19). Another cherished element is in an aversion to internal security deployment. The military would like to concern itself with its primary task and not be involved in ‘messy’ internal security situations. It is reflected in Chaudhuri’s statement, ‘[w]hile one of the tasks given to the military by the government is to aid civil power in the restoration and maintenance of law and order, overuse of the armed forces in this role cannot only be non-productive, but can actually be harmful’ (ibid.: 30). The aversion for internal security duties however does not cover externally sponsored terror, which incidentally is how internal security situations get to be defined increasingly. For responding to such proxy war, the military would prefer application of its coercive power, leveraging its conventional advantages for a favourable closure. It prefers to inflict ‘costs’ on the sponsoring state, Pakistan, in order to influence its cost-benefit calculus, rather than being a passive recipient to Pakistani proxy war. This accounts for the activation of the Line of Control in the nineties in terms of fire assaults, minor raids and intelligence operations across it,to punish Pakistan at a sub-conventional level (Sawhney 2002: 166). Pravin Sawhney writes that formation commanders at the local level were determined to inflict local military defeats

The Political Factor


resulting in body bags that would influence the Pakistani Army’s calculations on proxy war (ibid.: 168). Advocacy for aggressive response has been underlined by the Army Chief in his backing of aggressive commanders on the Line of Control after the controversy over the beheadings in early 2013 (Kanwal 2000c: 2165). A related element is the desire to directly input political decisionmaking (Kapoor 2010: 4). Chaudhuri tactfully puts it in these words, ‘[i]n today’s context, where involvement and not detachment is desirable, it could be advantageous to associate both the armed forces and bureaucracy to a somewhat greater extent with political decision making’ (1973: 35). General V. N. Sharma is much more direct, writing that the Union Ministry of Defence is ‘bureaucratically controlled and unresponsive’ (1994: 14). That little has changed despite the Group of Ministers’ (GoM) look at ‘Reforming the National Security System’ is brought out by the remark of a former naval chief, Admiral Arun Prakash, ‘[t]he professional heads of the three Services have been denied participation in the policy-making processes relating to defence and security matters’ (2009b). The Cold Start doctrine can be seen as a measure to influence the political level indirectly. As General Vijay Oberoi put it, ‘[Cold Start] makes political will more likely to be there, since now we can mobilize before world opinion comes down on political leaders and prevents them from acting’ (quoted in Kapur 2008: 90). Finally, ‘jointness’ has increasingly figured in the military’s concerns. This is not new in that Air Chief Marshal P. C. Lal had engaged with this in his dilating on the 1971 victory (1977: 43). It is more central since Limited War can only be prosecuted by a joint approach. The Army’s Cold Start doctrine relies on air support for success. However, the military’s internal differentiation comes to fore in the doctrine itself being seen as a way for the Army to remain central and to set the doctrinal agenda. This motivation can be attributable to its self-image as lead or dominant Service stemming from its organisational culture. Friction results with other Services on this score as discussed in the next chapter.

Sub-cultures The sociology of the military informs us that ‘tribalism’ is a characteristic, essential as a tool in order to combat effectiveness. War is the realm of uncertainty and friction. These cohesive groups


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functioning as a team are better to overcome war. The organisation is hierarchical and has a layered structure in orderto enable the materialisation of the contents of mind of the commander. Militaries see themselves as institutions performing a service for society. There is an increasing evidence of occupational and management ethic due to technological changes (Moskos 1977). The trends elsewhere in modern militaries are manifest in the Indian military as part of mimesis, isomorphism or what Scott Sagan characterises as ‘global strategic culture’ (Sagan 2009: 225). However, the dominant thrust is to retain the ‘institutional’ ethic, which deals better with the problems of narrow parochialism. Though organisational loyalty is useful, it has the drawback of distancing an organisation from its counterparts. Doctrine performs the function of knitting myriad sub-sections of the military, vertically and horizontally, by provisioning the aims and providing guidance on the manner of achieving these aims. Doctrine is itself subject to influence of prevailing sub-cultures. It is the site of pulls and pressures of the sub-groups, unwittingly in competition for control of organisational purpose and resources (examined in the next chapter). The military organisation can be deceptively calm on the surface projecting order and discipline while, like the ocean, it may have under-currents within it. Increasing muscularity in India’s political culture, as pointed out in the preceding part, can be expected to have an influence on the military. This aspect is understudied in India. In the context of ascendance of conservatism, there appears a functional convergence between realists and nationalists in the political spectrum. This cannot be seen as penetration of political ideology into the military, but a convergence in thinking on security between the conservative-realist military and the conservative side of the political spectrum. The theoretical possibility has been pointed to by Huntington in his understanding of the military mind as informed by ‘conservative realism’ (Huntington 1957: 80–97). He discerns the linkage between conservative forces and the military by characterising the former as a ‘promilitary’ ideology and its antithesis, liberalism, as an ‘anti-military’ ideology. This is easier formed due to a conservative political party speaking in a ‘straightforward’ language, similar to the language of the military, according to Manvendra Singh, a conservative politician and Territorial Army member (Datta et al. 2008). Vijay Oberoi notes the affinity, stating, ‘[t]he language of those on the right of centre has

The Political Factor


always had greater appeal for men in uniform in most democracies. I have done a course in the United States and I saw 90 per cent of the officers were Republican’ (ibid.). The affinity is brought out because the Indian conservative party’s ethos has an explicit commitment to a nationalistic ideology, which to Huntington is in keeping with a characteristic of the ‘military mind’. The military man sees the military as a profession charged with national security. Therefore, the military mind privileges the collective and reifies the national (Huntington 1957: 63). This observation on the organisation is not evidence of a shared world view. At best, it indicates that the military is not an island, but is part of society, even if isolated to an extent by its geographical location in cantonments and on borders; by tradition; and extant civil–military relations that keep the military out of the ‘policy loop’. The levels of conservative ideology prevalent in the social strata having majority representation in the officer class, determine scope for higher levels of a conservative milieu. This tendency in organisational culture and its implications for organisation output such as of doctrine requires investigation once military sociology acquires depth as a discipline in India and once society and the military as an institution acquire the maturity for dispassionate self-analysis. The conservative view has fallout in scepticism of the political class. Among reasons for deficiency in India’s will-to-power is seen as political prudence amounting to over caution. The tendency is to push against this in providing offensive options. For instance, the rapidity required for Cold Start to unfold successfully, deprives the political head of freedom of choice. The military would prefer that the political head compensate with will and resolve for any perceived shortfalls in strategic rationality of resort to Cold Start. The military places a premium on political resolve and will. This is to transfer Clausewitz’s emphasis on this quality in military commanders to the political level at the expense of rationality. This is an absurdity in the nuclear age. In other words, there is a push for a pro-active tackling of ‘threats’. The military is not agreeable to the diplomatic argument that the Charter-era world order has placed restrictions on a nation’s sovereign right to wage war. It believes that India has the right of self-defence that it can exercise aggressively and in any case, the diplomatic game needs to be played. Given that the military once


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characterised Pakistan as ‘bandicoot’ (Gen. S. Rodrigues) and recently as ‘irritant’ (Gen. V. K. Singh), they prefer a power tryst. Since India has been more circumspect than adventurous, the military knows its limitations as ‘solution’. Therefore, it uses the doctrinal domain for impressing Pakistan of its vulnerability to Indian military action. Arjun Subramaniam, writing in respect of air power, brings out a representative opinion within the Services noting that: [p]rosecution of strategic air campaigns requires strong political will, clarity of intent, ability to gather domestic public support/approval, and ability to absorb international criticism. The only way to gather public support in a democracy like India is to encourage widespread debates to make our strategic interests widely known and accepted so that when these interests are threatened, we can easily make the decision to use force. This is a weak area in our country that we need to address at the earliest . . . India has very few politicians with military backgrounds. For this reason, airpower proponents must educate the political leadership on airpower’s strategic capabilities (Subramaniam 2008).

The ‘Aerospace Warrior’ Ethos The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) self-image is of a service that can bring about strategic decisions. It can be employed in all scenarios ranging from selective strikes to delivering nuclear weapons. A particular impress on Service ethos has been the employment of US air power in recent wars. Several air power votaries such as Jasjit Singh, Kapil Kak, Vinod Patney, and Arjun Subramaniam, have contributed to expressing, and in the process framing, the force’s operational ethos. Several veteran ‘air warriors’ as part of the strategic community defend the Service case independently and vigorously. The bureaucratic politics around this is covered in the next chapter. Of consequence here is the resolve of the Service to remain outside the shadow of its larger sister Service, the Army. This involves building and articulating an organisational culture unique to the Air Force. The major element of this lies in the concentration on the strategic role of the Service. This is in keeping with the trends earlier manifested in the US and United Kingdom (UK). In case of the Air Force, technological ramifications of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) are a major consideration. Arjun Subramaniam reflects that, ‘[t]he advent of sensors that provide

The Political Factor


accurate target intelligence, coupled with precision-guided munitions (PGM), has led to ‘effects-based operations’ gaining predominance in speedy conflict resolution, with minimum attrition and collateral damage’. This he says has led to, ‘[t]he Indian Air Force (IAF) is in the midst of a radical change in mind-set and re-orientation of its force structure that will enable it to conduct parallel warfare and simultaneously influence operations at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels’ (Subramaniam 2008). The theories of air power theorists, John Boyd and John Warden, have been influential in identifying the centre of gravity and the utility of air power in directly and indirectly addressing it. This is to be administered by a strategic air campaign to first blind and then destroy the enemy by use of technology, targeting his communications, infrastructure and military assets. To Subramaniam: [t]hat does not mean that air power and strategic air campaigns alone can win wars, but by applying the principles of asymmetry and paralysis, we can hasten the capitulation of an enemy by incapacitating him and reducing his military potential, as mentioned earlier, rather than destroying him. Air power can do all this — and simultaneously support the surface campaign by conducting parallel warfare at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. Building such an ability calls for a change in mind-set (ibid.).

This change implies moving from a predominantly tactical air force one with a limited deterrent capability to one that needs to ‘think big’ and ‘think far’. This requires looking at power projection, strategic intervention over limited distances and duration, proactive strikes, humanitarian intervention, peacekeeping/enforcement missions, protection of energy and economic resources and island territories, anti-terrorist and anti-hijacking operations, protection and evacuation of human resources, and enforcement of no-fly zones (ibid.). Another area of emulation of the US is to wrap the air campaign around the land and maritime campaigns in real time, giving synergy and joint operations its due.

Maritime Ethos India has a continental mindset, though its southern kingdoms have been known to have had sea-faring traditions. The zenith of India’s maritime engagement was in the spread of Indian culture to southeast Asia. Its nadir has been the advent of colonialism from the sea. It is for this reason that the Navy, known as the ‘silent service’, has


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

formally engaged in articulating its organisational ethos. This owes to its perception that there is a greater effort needed since the maritime dimension is lost on India, given its heritage as a continental power. The Navy’s doctrinal writings have included two editions of doctrine (IHQ of MoD 2004, 2009), the ‘Vision’ and the ‘Strategy’ (2007) documents and are partially geared towards an educative end. The Navy has drawn inspiration from the Prime Minister’s address at the Commander’s Conference in which he stated, ‘India’s growing international stature give it strategic relevance in the area ranging from the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Malacca’ (IHQ of MoD (Navy) 2007: iii). The Navy has drawn inspiration from the worldview that India’s growing interntional stature gives it strategic relevance in the area ranging from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Straits: [w]ithin this overall national and defence framework, our primary maritime military interest is to ensure national security, provide insulation from external interference, so that vital tasks of fostering economic growth and undertaking developmental activities, can take place in a secure environment. Consequently, India’s maritime military strategy is underpinned on ‘freedom to use the seas for our national purposes, under all circumstances’ (ibid.).

The Navy sees its role as also going beyond the strictly military domain. It sees itself as furthering economic power as well in protecting trade routes and transit, infrastructure and coastal security. This wider aspiration is articulated thus, ‘[t]he Indian Navy, by virtue of its capability, strategic positioning and robust presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) can be the catalyst for peace, tranquillity and stability in the IOR’. Consequently, its aims are, ‘[d]eterrence, including strategic deterrence, conduct armed conflict if need be . . . project power; catalyse partnerships; build trust and create interoperability; and when required use convincing power to achieve national aims’ (ibid.). In nutshell, it deems, ‘[e]nsuring good order at sea is therefore a legitimate duty of the Indian Navy’ (ibid.) is an example of the Navy’s fulfilling of its duty.

Implications for Doctrine Dealing with the military dimension of nuclear weapons has been a long-standing professional preoccupation since the tenure of

The Political Factor


General Sundarji as Commandant, College of Combat, in the early eighties (Sidhu 2000: 150). It has created the necessary military formations and doctrines. Earlier it was for a scenario of nuclear asymmetry in the eighties when Pakistan supposedly had the nuclear weapons while India did not; then for recessed or non-weaponised deterrence in the nineties when both had weapons in the ‘basement’; and, lately, since May 1998 for a nuclearised battlefield (ibid.: 129). Earlier nuclear doctrines were seen as ‘adjuncts’ to conventional doctrines based on an ability to rapidly concentrate and disperse. This necessitated a shift to manoeuvre warfare concepts with matching mobility. The Air Force, for its part, had a two-pronged nuclear related doctrine: conventional military operations against nuclear sites and a role in delivering nuclear ordnance in its bid to gain a Strategic Air Command (ibid.: 151–52). The Navy too spoke of a sea denial role in the conventional plane and a central role in India’s nuclear second strike capability (ibid.: 153). Additionally, Sidhu and Chris Smith believe, ‘[t]he Indira and Rajiv doctrine led to the creation of an inherent force projection capability . . . A blue water navy, a strategic airlift capability and highly mobile self contained army units were crucial elements of this doctrine’ (Sidhu and Smith 2000: 34). Organisational culture has also been considerably influenced by the Kargil War and the near-war situation of 2001–02. Just as the 1962 War prompted much internal tumult, the initial surprise (V. P. Malik) in Kargil and later, the inability to deal Pakistan a return blow in 2002 despite the Parliament attack and later the Kalu Chak incident, referred to in subsequent literature as the ‘twin peaks crisis’, has prompted much introspection. The military’s image and self-image was considerably dented. ‘Face’ has well-known cultural connotations. Thus it had to come up with an answer to the continuing problem posed by Pakistan. The outcome was Limited War thinking (Kapoor 2010: 3). A change in organisational culture perceptibly towards the offensive was the result. Only a change from defensive mindset to offensive, from attrition orientation to manoeuverist thinking could operationalise the doctrine (ibid.: 4). The internal measures taken to foster an offensive mindset are not dealt in detail here. The defensive mindset has been partially ingrained by the foremost role of the military involving defence of national territory.


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

Interpreted earlier as a need to defend ‘every inch’ has been overshadowed instead by an inclination to undertake the same role differently by taking the offensive. Forces for this in pivot formations have been created by thinning out on the defences and accepting the risk of loss of territory that this entails. Earlier, loss was not possible to envisage as in a short duration war it was felt that losses in territory would serve as bargaining chips in adverse hands and would be politically costly. However, by taking to the offensive through building the capability and an enabling doctrine, the bargaining advantage would be with the side on the offensive. Therefore, by taking the offensive, this risk stands minimised. General V. P. Malik recalls that he had mooted the idea of Limited War prior to the Kargil War but not been taken seriously (Basrur 2009: 328; Malik 2010). The Army, having been at the receiving end of the Pakistani intrusion at Kargil, was determined to exploit the gap below the nuclear threshold for a limited conventional operation. The assumption was that Pakistan would be ‘finished’ in case of a nuclear exchange; therefore space existed for conventional operations (Basrur 2009: 328). This would have enabled it to deal decisively with the sub-conventional proxy war. Its earlier doctrine involved not only deterring an enemy attack by being ready for it (‘deterrence by denial’) but also launching counter offensives in line with ‘deterrence by punishment’. The accent is now no longer on ‘deterrence by denial’. In fact, the troops for the new offensive tasks of pivot corps have been taken off defensive roles. The aim is to take the initiative and fight the war on enemy territory. The war intended as a short one, would not require defending one’s own territory to the extent once done. Therefore, thinning out is possible in the ground-holding role of forces in defence. This does not imply dilution of ability to defend, but a substitution of manpower by technology and firepower. The earlier ‘deterrence by punishment’ was deterrence of conventional action by the enemy on the offensive. Now ‘deterrence by punishment’ implies punishment for sub-conventional infringements. A shift has taken place in doctrine towards the offensive in the form of proactive operations. This is in keeping with organisational culture that favoured the offensive in any case, as evident from its earlier intent for prosecution of ‘deterrence by denial’ through counter offensives. Even ‘deterrence by denial’ had graduated from static defences on linear defences to mobile, offensively

The Political Factor


conducted defence based on flexible counter penetration and counter attack techniques. A serving officer on sabbatical at the Center for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) writes that Indian deterrence having failed, there is a need to refurbish it by gaining superiority over Pakistan and the enunciation of a proactive war fighting doctrine (Gurung 2011: 21). To him, India’s approach is a ‘halfhearted response that can be termed “reactive” . . . India is pursuing “deterrence by denial” instead of ‘punitive deterrence’ (2011: 19). He prefers a move to a ‘proactive approach’ or ‘confrontation by design’ (2011: 39). Conventional war doctrine shifted from ‘defensive defence’ to ‘offensive defence’ implying a ‘preemptive strategy’ (Sidhu 2000: 129). From the restraint during Kargil War, it may be inferred that the counter offensive option based on attacks by strike corps was considered escalatory. The problem as V.R. Raghavan apprehends is that, ‘[t]he choice of keeping the war limited cannot be entirely in Indian hands’ (Malik 2009: 282). This was borne out in Operation Parakram in which not only were the strike corps late to mobilise (Kapur 2008: 88), but also could not be used for fear of crossing Pakistan’s ‘redlines’. Therefore, lower order conventional action was necessary to visualise first. With experience of Operation Parakram, India adopted a policy of compellence, based on limited conventional war (Basrur 1998: 330–31; Kapur 2005: 148). This led to the crystallising of the ‘Cold Start’ doctrine articulated in 2004. The doctrine envisaged gaining a broad swathe of territory as a bargaining chip through operations by Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) to avoid triggering a strategic nuclear response by Pakistan (Kapur 2008: 89). The apparent neglect of the nuclear context points to the working of organisational culture. That a blind-spot exists where dangers should otherwise be starkly visible, suggests the operation of culture. According to Rajesh Rajagopalan, the development of the doctrine is, ‘another indication of the Indian effort to overcome the limits imposed by nuclearisation and the limitations of that effort’ (2008: 205). He thinks that success would increase Pakistani propensity for nuclear first use. He notes that, ‘[w]hether it is possible to think in terms of military victory in a nuclearised environment is left unaddressed in this doctrine’ (Rajagopalan 2008: 206). The military wishes to fulfill its obligation through doctrinal innovation in the direction of what S. Paul Kapur calls, ‘[a]ggressive


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

conventional posture’ (Kapur 2008: 88), the dilemma of Pakistani nuclear response notwithstanding. Rajesh Basrur asserts that, ‘[t]he “lesson” of Kargil — that force projection would work better than diplomacy — was a case of “incorrect learning”. In practice, the whole argument for limited war came to naught in 2002’ (2009: 330). Yet, Kapur notes, ‘[m]ilitary thinking has not changed’. General Malik continues to hold that “limited war was, and still is, a strategic possibility so long as proxy war continues in the subcontinent”’ (Malik 2009: 330). To Basrur, ‘[t]his represents a military professional’s thinking, and does not reflect the perspective of political decision makers, who have been reluctant to return to the limited war logic that preceded the 2001–2002 crisis. The politicians, at least, seem to have learned the combined lesson of the two crises: that limited war is not a viable option in the nuclear context’ (Basrur 1998: 331). This ‘learning’ has led to persistence of the ‘strategy of restraint’, despite the provocation of Mumbai attacks of 26/11. It is this that perhaps accounts for a distancing by the military away from Cold Start in favour for what it terms proactive ‘contingency’ operations. In terms of cultural theory, this can be explained as persistence of India’s symbolic strategic culture. Despite having an offensive option as an artifact of parabellum or operational strategic culture, that it remains unexercised, indicates the scope of symbolic strategic culture of restraint.

At the Conventional–Nuclear Interface Nuclearisation having been generally welcomed, thinking on how to cope has been centre-stage. Lieutenant General Prakash Menon in examining the impact of the 2001–02 crisis indicates India’s concern with the nuclear threshold, writing: The root cause for restriction of options and war avoidance seems nuclear weapons . . . More importantly, it appears that the Indian political leadership was not fully convinced that the application of military force would be able to achieve political objective of Pakistan relinquishing support to cross border terrorism. Nuclear deterrence can be seen to have worked in Pakistan’s favour. India’s concept of limited war stood repudiated. Conventional space was inadequate and therefore unusable for achievement of India’s political objectives (Menon 2005: 158–59).

This indicates that the nuclear threshold does loom large on military thinking. Take, for instance, a view on effects on defensive

The Political Factor


operations, arrived at in the year of the nuclear tests by a student officer at the NDC: Being conservative by nature, our general ship by and large is more comfortable with holding ground and remaining static. In the nuclear scenario this is fatal. What are required are agile units and formations, dispersed, with the capability to respond to changing situations . . . Our schools of instructions teach mobile defence but nowhere is it practiced. Until we move away from our mindset we will be condemned to repeat our mistakes of the past including timidity in the offensive conduct of battle (Singh 1998).

While the ‘answer’ earlier discussed is right, the logic is not easily transferable to offensive operations. This divergence can be attributable to the culture. A representative view within the armed forces is that the ‘soft state syndrome’ that India is supposedly afflicted with, needs to be tackled with the Indian leadership building up its own and national resolve. This is required since taking a decision on and following through with nuclear targeting requires resolve in the decision maker. The argument in such circles is that ‘political will’ needs to be there to call Pakistan’s bluff. In case of nuclear first use by Pakistan, India needs to have the will and resolve to follow through with massive nuclear retaliation which will automatically deter Pakistan and create the space for offensive military action under the Limited War doctrine. This is how compellence is sought to be achieved. Such advocacy is informed less by strategic rationality than culture, in this case, an organisational culture slow to evolve in face of a radically changed war-fighting context.

Culture Holds Water Evolution in strategic culture in step with India’s growing power indices provided the permissive backdrop to the military’s formulation of the Limited War doctrine. The cultural factor has played out in India’s seeking of prestige and power for identity-related reasons. Military power is a visible and readily accessible form of power. Change in strategic culture from a Nehruvian to an assertive one has occurred over the decades. Over the past two decades, in particular, this change has been marked under the influence of major conservative political party, the BJP, on Indian political culture. While it presented itself as strong on defence issues, this political posture ensured that the other parties were wary of being


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

castigated as ‘soft’ on defence in comparison. This made them also equally amenable, making for a seeming consensus on the issue of India reclaiming its ‘place in the sun’, with power acquisition as the defining ‘rite of arrival’. The rise of the ‘great Indian middle class’ (Verma 1998) or Priyanjali Malik’s ‘attentive public’ — more engaged with defence issues and fed by an expanded media — led to relative prominence of the defence sector. It was during its period at helm of the NDA regime that the military worked on the Limited War doctrine that made military power usable and thereby visibly relevant to the nuclear age. The military was predisposed towards an offensive orientation by its organisational culture. Persistence of involvement of the military with the tactical and technical strands of Limited War can be attributed to organisational culture. The Limited War doctrine provides the military a means to sustain its role and rationale into the nuclear future, in the light of increasing scepticism on the utility of force. The changed attitude of the UPA government towards use of force, in the context of neo-liberalism, is evident in its restraint in the face of the Mumbai attacks of 26/11. The UPA imprint on the doctrine has been in moving it further away from default resort to Limited War. This difference between the NDA and UPA periods suggests the salience of the political factor. C. Raja Mohan notes, ‘[t]he “new” foreign policy of India is indeed work in progress. Yet it is not difficult to see that the direction of Indian diplomacy has changed substantially since the end of the cold war amidst internal and external impulses’ (2006: 3). This owed in part to internal political changes involving the rise of the conservative formations in domestic politics, a heightening in power credentials, evolution in the higher national security apparatus and increased credence externally of India as a credible power. The ‘operational set’ in India’s strategic culture was never as pacifist as suggested by India’s popular self-image. This along with the organisational bias of the military has conspired to steadily shift doctrine towards the offensive end of the ‘offensive defence’ spectrum. This has lately moved further towards ‘proactive offensive’. The combination of change towards a more permissive strategic culture and organisational culture has resulted in an offensive military doctrine.


6 The Organisational Factor

Inside the Box


he traditional understanding is that utility of conventional force has declined in the nuclear age. Where deterrence is the norm, warfighting is passé. However, the only cognisance military doctrine takes of the nuclear dimension is the proviso that military objectives would be trimmed to political aims to be achieved. This ignores a salient feature of war, that the enemy has agency. Limiting war is therefore not easy. A perceived need to persevere in case of reverses; to press home an advantage; or the very pursuit of ‘victory’, leads up to a non-trivial possibility of breach of the nuclear threshold. Behind such impulses is institutional interest, making scrutiny of the impact of the organisational level on doctrine necessary. To its credit, the problem has not escaped the military: The fundamental problem of prosecuting a limited war is rooted in the clash between two definable paradigms of military security: one in which the organizing construct rests on preparing to fight and win the war (conventional paradigm), another in which war avoidance is the underlying goal of military preparations (nuclear paradigm) . . . Military planners are therefore confounded as most military plans tend to carry within them the seeds of mutual suicide. These challenges manifest itself in the form of disconnect between military force application and political objectives (Menon 2005: 153).

Organisational theory lens has proven resilient to such purpose. For instance, Rajesh Rajagopalan (2007) in his study of Indian Army’s counter insurgency doctrine has used it suitably. Itty Abraham’s study of the ‘strategic enclave’ (1992) has also used this approach. It can be expected to help understand changes in its conventional war doctrine too. The chapter fills the gap by looking ‘into the box’. Organisation theory has it that the military seeks autonomy,


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

reduction of uncertainty and innovates when confronted with failure. The ‘Cold Start’ doctrine, taken as a Limited War doctrine, substantiates theory, in that it is an attempt to impose order on a crisis by seizing the initiative. First, it favours autonomy for the military by enabling the offensive as a preferred choice presented to the political head for decision; and, second, it innovates to redress perceived shortcomings, such as occurred during coping with the earlier two crises, the Kargil War and Operation Parakram. It is also an assertion of autonomy from civilian control in an area in which the military considers it can exercise a professional prerogative. This chapter assesses the wellspring of doctrine at the organisational level. The suggestion here is that change in India’s military doctrine has been to preserve the military’s institutional interest. The chapter draws on organisational process and bureaucratic politics models. The organisational level is the one at which bureaucracies charged with generating the doctrine function are located. Three models are available for use — Rational Actor Model, Organisational Process and Bureaucratic Politics. The first has been dealt with in Chapter 4 on the structural factor in its examination of doctrinal change as the rational response to the security dilemma while this chapter deals with the latter two. It attempts to discern the influence of organisational processes and bureaucratic politics on formulation of doctrine. There are two aspects to the Indian experience. The first is the civil–military relations, involving the ministry at the union level and the military, respectively. The second is that of inter-Service rivalry. The former is uniquely Indian in that the ‘disintegration’ (Posen 1984) between the civilian and the military is seldom so stark. The distance between the bureaucrat-dominated ministry and the military, best evidenced by absence of a strategic doctrine, has resulted in the military carving out a professional space for itself in the realm of military doctrine. The latter is universal. The impetus to doctrine making has also come from the competition between the three Services for resources, budgets, political attention and professional pride. The former can be explained in terms of organisation process model while the latter is the domain of bureaucratic politics. The relevance of organisation theory is covered in Part I of this chapter. The doctrinal responsibility of the military is discharged by it as yet another organisation/bureaucracy and therefore insights of

The Organisational Factor


organisational theory in terms of bureaucratic politics, institutional interests, etc., are applicable. This is to establish validity of this direction of investigation. Part II begins with a look at the organisational structures. Thereafter, the organisational process and the bureaucratic politics models are examined in its subsequent sections. The ‘pulls and shoves’ with regard to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) issue and jointness are elaborated on, since these are critical to doctrine and the ‘pulls’ themselves are consequence of doctrinal divergence within the Services. The absence of both makes doctrine a Service-specific function. The ministry is not in a position to act as adjudicator, due to absence of expertise. The situation is not one that Services find averse, despite its implications for synergy and effectiveness, since it gives them autonomy of spheres of combat space — land, air and maritime — that they have respectively arrogated to themselves. In Part III, inter-Service ‘fights’ and doctrinal friction, driven by ‘tribalism’ — the sociological hallmark of cohesive organisations — is taken as evidence of bureaucratic politics.

PART I The ‘Lower’ Order Levels In theory, levels of analysis have been taken as ‘holistic/systemic’, paying attention to structure, and ‘reductionist/unit’, focusing on the state (Buzan 1995: 202). In accessing the explanation for doctrinal development and movement thus far, a look has been taken at both these levels — regional/sub-systemic in terms of ‘balance of power’; and at the state/unit level in its focus on strategic culture and organisational culture. However, since doctrines are a functional output of the military, there is a need to seek explanation at a lower level. This is at the lower two levels — bureaucratic and individual (ibid.: 212). The latter, individual level is consequential in doctrine making since doctrine is the product of the intellect. In a hierarchical organisation such as the military, the branch authorised to produce doctrine has its product arrived at after due process of consultation and testing, endorsed by the apex military leadership. The doctrine is then promulgated. Those tenanting appointments in the doctrine branch are usually those who having demonstrated a flair for doctrinal thinking and an ability to articulate it are then trained appropriately for their tenures in doctrine branch.


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

Military history is replete with figures of importance in doctrinal development. Some examples are Alfred Schlieffen, who is famous for the plan executed at the start of World War I that bears his name; Percy Hobart, J. F. C. Fuller, Basil Liddell Hart and Heinz Guderian connected with the development of tank warfare; General William de Puy and General Don Starry of the United States (US) associated with the Air–Land battle concept; General K. Sundarji who has contributed to two Indian doctrines dealing with mechanised warfare and nuclear doctrine; and General David Petraeus famous for rethinking the American approach to counter insurgency. Likewise India’s nuclear doctrine has had the input of K. Sundarji, K. Subrahmanyam, Jasjit Singh, Raja Menon, and Bharat Karnad, among others. The Draft Nuclear Doctrine of 1999 was the collective work of members of the National Security Advisory Board headed by K. Subrahmanyam (Pant 2007: 246). Organisations rely on identifying and posting those with an aptitude for doctrinal thinking to jobs in the specialised doctrine formulating bureaucracies. Alongside, those with such talent and interest bid for consideration for such jobs. Their individual stamp would be possible to discern only in retrospect when their memoirs are available. For instance, the role of General V. P. Malik, in his own words, reproduced ahead, indicates that individuals are consequential for the development and dissemination of doctrine: In a meeting of the National Security Advisory Board with the Prime Minister on the day Op Prakaram was called off, I had recommended ‘strategic relocation’ of ground forces and the need to prepare joint contingency plans which can be implemented at a short notice or during the course of mobilisation . . . We need not wait for mobilisation of the entire theatre or border to be completed. This important aspect and its military application on the ground have led to what is now euphemistically called the ‘cold start’ doctrine (Malik 2010).

Unlike decisions, for which a look at the mind and psychological profile of a decision maker is necessary, doctrine development is largely a bureaucratic exercise. Individuals may make choices between alternatives and may champion certain aspects of the whole. The consequential influence of General K. Sundarji in the development of manoeuvre warfare doctrine is an example. Since his memoir, Of Some Consequence — A Soldier Remembers (Sundarji 2000) cover only his years as a junior and the second

The Organisational Factor


volume on his years in higher office is not complete, it is not possible to trace his well-known intellectual influence definitively. Yet, doctrine is not a product of one mind, but an outcome of the bureaucratic procedures and processes within the Ministry of Defence, the national security apparatus and the military. Individuals participate as ‘cogs’ in bureaucratic ‘wheels’. The making of a doctrine is the work of organisations and specific bureaucracies within them. The military is further internally differentiated into the three Services. Even the Services are not monolithic, but comprise ‘lobbies’. The doctrinal movement is partially a product of the internal motivations and thrusts of the Services and involves intellectual ‘push and shove’ and bureaucratic ‘thrust and parry’. On this account, a look within for locating the drivers and explanation of doctrine formulation, development and change is warranted. Nevertheless, no explicit line needs to be drawn between the levels. Instead the concept of ‘dyad’ (Buzan 1995: 204) is useful in that system–unit dyads can be system–state, state–bureaucracy and bureaucracy–individual. In each pair of this scheme, the first comprises the system and the second serves as the unit. The explanation therefore can be top-down or bottom-up. By looking at the bureaucratic level, the plausibility of a bottom-up explanation to doctrinal movement in a state–bureaucracy dyad can be ascertained. As seen earlier in the study of organisational culture in the previous chapter, an overlap of the bureaucratic level with the unit level exists.

The Three Models Doctrine development is an exercise in bureaucratic rationality, in that bureaucracies are involved and attempt to arrive at a doctrine rationally. The three models, brought out by Graham Allison (1971) are the Rational Actor model, the Organisational Process model and the Bureaucratic Politics model (Jackson and Sorensen 2010: 229). His argument is that analysts think in terms of largely implicit conceptual models that in turn influence the content of their thought. The rational actor model (Model I) attempts to explicate government action as a rational output of a unitary and rational state actor. The alternatives are Model II (Organisational Process) and Model III (Bureaucratic Politics) models. The latter two models supplement, if not supplant, Model I. This owes to the seemingly monolithic state actor being, first, a conglomeration of highly differentiated decision-making structures and, second, state action is


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

aconsequence of innumerable smaller interactions of individuals reacting to different stimuli (Allison 1969: 63). Bureaucracies, in the Weberian understanding, are to increase efficiencies and effectiveness by assigning responsibilities and defining rules and procedures (Kegley and Wittkopf 1997: 55). These organisations and agencies exist to execute the state’s security and foreign policies. It is assumed that ‘rationality’ is central to policy and decision-making (Sagan 1994: 71). Rationality is the conscious balancing of ends and means and engagement in value maximising behaviour. The state is taken as a unitary actor that formulates the ‘vital, essential, and desirable’; conceives alternative courses of action; evaluates courses for consequences; exercises the power of choice; caters for contingencies; apportions resources, and, thereafter, directs and controls its instruments. The process involves an extensive search for relevant information; a thorough canvassing of a wide spectrum of views; conscious inclusion of expert opinion to the contrary of the conventional viewpoint; re-examination of assumptions for their validity; and detailed provisions for execution of chosen course to enable judgement of practicability (Janis 1972: 142). This is the traditional manner of explaining state behaviour subsumed under the conceptual model Rational Actor/Rational Policy Model. The Organisational Process model has it that the state, far from being unitary, completely informed, rational and centrally controlled, is actually a conglomerate of loosely allied organisations with substantial autonomy. Thus, governmental action is less an exercise of deliberate choice and more as ‘outputs’ of agencies, enacting routines and standard patterns of behaviour. The specific proposition of this model is that organisational actions conform to a set of programmes dealing with standard situations. Consequently, particularity of situations is inadequately addressed, flexibility is constrained and innovation is resisted. To Scott Sagan, ‘large organisations function within a severely “bounded” form of rationality: they have inherent limits on calculation and coordination and use simplifying mechanisms to understand and respond to uncertainty in the external environment’ (1994: 71). Organisations develop routines to simplify reality; are often myopic; suffer from ‘goal displacement’ by being fixated on operational details and missing the larger picture; and are limited by their repertoire of concepts and vocabulary (ibid.: 72). Their output reflects the interests of

The Organisational Factor


some self-interested subunits looking for ‘relatively rational ways to maximise its interests — protecting its power, size, autonomy or organisational essence’. This is not necessarily in accord with the interest of the military as a whole, leave alone that of the nation (ibid.: 73). The Bureaucratic Politics model has two characteristics: ‘organisational process’ reflecting the routine and constraints of the organisation; and ‘bureaucratic politics’, involving the pressures and counter pressures of the decision process (Kegley and Wittkopf 1997: 55). The former relates to operating procedures to cope with policy problems. The latter involves policy choices of bureaucracies reflecting preferences, dependent on organisational roles, interests and affiliations. This explains the aphorism: Where you stand depends on where you sit. Since each organisation has a mandate and an obligation to further its position professionally and rationally arrived at, it is ‘obliged to fight for what they are convinced is right’ (ibid.). This accounts for the ‘pushing and hauling’ that characterises policy-making and making the exercise intensely political (Sagan 1994: 72). The state is thus only seemingly a unitary actor, comprising as it does actors and players in games involving coalitions, compromises and bargains. Decisions, positions taken and exercise of choice is effected by organisations having parochial interests. They seek to promote their power, influence, prestige and purposes and are protective of their ‘turf’. Organisational needs can sometimes obscure state needs or national interest, particularly if an organisation develops a narcissistic self-perception. This could be illusory or a self-serving rationale. It usually has some basis in the power arrangements in polity. For instance, the Pakistani Army’s self-image is that it stands between the state and state failure. Such perceptions intensify competition since interests are relative to those of other competing organisations equally relevant to the national purpose. To protect respective interests, organisations prefer autonomy. Interference, inter-penetration and exercise of accountability by political masters are usually acceded to reluctantly. Another characteristic of organisations is ‘group think’ or tendency of predominant beliefs prevailing in the organisation to determine outlook and behaviour. This tendency reduces dissent, creativity and independent mindedness and increases reliance on procedures and precedent (Kegley and Wittkopf 1997: 58–59).


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

At the organisational level, the civil–military relations theory provides for military provisioning of decision and policy options for the political leadership (Huntington 1957: 72). Since the onset of nuclearisation has rendered ‘Total War’ unthinkable, ‘Limited War’ must of necessity be central to the military input into decision making (Sethi 2009: 293–94). There could be three factors impelling the military. The first is professional, in that doctrine-making is to cope with the changed nuclear reality. The second is parochial, dealing with protecting its institutional interest through increasing its relevance into the nuclear age. Arguments extant have it that conventional capability contributes to security by thrusting the nuclear threshold upwards. The second argument is that deterrence implies that nuclear weapons possession deters nuclear weapons use by the other side, but not war itself. Conventional capability is therefore relevant. The third is that the need to restrict the sub-conventional space requires holding out the promise of Limited War as conventional retribution. Doctrine is also subject to bureaucratic politics. Thus, both the organisational process and the bureaucratic politics model are pertinent in examining doctrinal drivers at this level. While doctrine generation would lend itself in the organisational process model, the selling of the doctrine externally through interaction between the three Services and the Ministry of Defence can be best explained in the bureaucratic politics model. It is logical to expect that these characteristics manifest themselves in the doctrine relevant organisations in India.

The Military Organisation Military doctrine comprises guidelines on approaches to military force — offensive or defensive, decisive or limited, attrition or manoeuvre (Sagan 2000: 17). These choices are the prerogative of military bureaucracies, and the doctrine-making exercise can be expected to reflect processes and politics as theorised. Sagan believes that, ‘[m]ilitary organisations, like all other organisations, have parochial interests. Their leaders and members are not only concerned with the security of the state they are employed to protect but also with protecting their own organisational strength, autonomy and prestige. These parochial interests do not always conflict with the state’s national security interests, but there is no reason to believe the two are always consistent’ (2000: 18). This contests the rational actor model, indicating that dressing up of

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parochial interests can take place through rationalising action in terms of the national interest. Militaries prefer offensive doctrines. These are necessary to reduce uncertainty as they enable seizing of the initiative and thereby imposing one’s own plan and will on the enemy. Offensive biases serve other interests also such as larger forces, which in turn affect budgets and organisational structures (Sagan 2000: 18). He identifies three pathways through which the military brings its parochial interests to bear on state policy. First is that it directly determines doctrine in case of weak civilian oversight. Second is that even where civilian oversight is forthcoming, the complexity and technical nature of the subject prevents intimate acquaintance of civilians with the subject; and, third, military officers are not above exerting subtle pressures to maintain their doctrinal preferences (ibid.: 22). Consequently, the influence can be quite significant, for instance in Sagan’s view, ‘[i]n order for us to understand the evolution of nuclear doctrines in South Asia, it is necessary to focus on the organisational interests and biases common among professional military officers’ (2009: 220). Jeffrey Legro adds the additional dimension of organisational culture linking the two levels in a dyad of unit/organisation. He writes, ‘[m]ilitary cultures — beliefs and norms about the optimal means to fight wars — are important because they have a pervasive impact on the preferences and actions of both armies and states’ (Legro 1994: 109). Defining organisational culture as, ‘[t]he pattern of assumptions, ideas, and beliefs that prescribe how a group should adapt to its external environment and manage its internal structure (ibid.: 115), his finding is that, ‘[a]t the pattern of assumptions, ideas and beliefs that prescribe how a military bureaucracy should conduct battle will influence state preferences and actions on the use of that means’ (ibid.: 117). This is a bottom-up view of the organisation/unit dyad. The inter se manner in which organisations place themselves to influence policy in favour of their positions comprises bureaucratic politics. Organisational culture flows out of the military ethic in combination with particularities of the national strategic culture. As William Kaufman wrote, ‘attitudes toward war are . . . heavily mortgaged to tradition’ (Cannon 1992: 71). Elizabeth Kier says that the choice between offensive and defensive doctrines is a product of the interaction between constraints in the domestic political arena and the


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military’s organisational culture (Keir 1997: 5). She deems the view that doctrine is responsive to the security environment and instead favours a cultural approach as inaccurate. Organisational culture in the military reflects chiefly the military ethic. Samuel Huntington described the military ethic in his doctoral thesis, later published as the influential book The Soldier and the State (1957). To him, the military ethic emphasises: permanence, irrationality, weakness and evil in human nature . . . It accepts the nation state as the highest form of political organisation and recognizes the continuing likelihood of wars among nation states. It emphasizes the importance of power in international relations and warns of the dangers to state security. It holds that the security of the state depends upon the creation and maintenance of strong military forces . . . It holds that war is an instrument of politics . . . The military ethic is thus pessimistic, nationalistic, militaristic, pacifist, and instrumentalist in its view of the military profession. It is, in brief, realistic and conservative (ibid.: 79).

In short, doctrine is additionally impacted by elements that are universal to military organisations owing to their inherent characteristics, in particular the ‘military ethic’. Organisational culture, specific to a military and differentiating it from other militaries in general, is yet another factor that has a considerable bottom-up influence. The former universal ingredient of military organisational cultures needs noting. The overlap owes to operation of the dyad, unit/organisation.

The Military’s Doctrinal Responsibility The military, headed by a modern officer corps, is a ‘professional body’ (ibid.: 7). It has expertise in terms of specialised knowledge and skills, acquired through professional endeavour and education. The military is expert in ‘management of violence’, a phrase of Harold Lasswell (ibid.: 11, 15) and working in a social context, implies that the military provides a ‘service’. The service is of security to the client, state and its constituent society. It has a social responsibility. Another distinguishing characteristic of a profession, of interest in this thesis, is ‘corporateness’. The military has a ‘sense of organic unity and consciousness of a group apart’ (Huntington 1957: 10). On this count, Huntington categorises the military as a bureaucratic profession, one that tends ‘to develop a more general sense of

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collective responsibility and proper role of the profession in society’ (ibid.). To Huntington, the duties of a military officer include: ‘(1) the organising, equipping, and training of this force; (2) the planning of its activities; and (3) the direction of its operation in and out of combat’ (ibid.: 11). The latter two are directly related to doctrine; and the former is determined by doctrine. This places the doctrinal function at the core of military professionalism. The responsibility towards the State in monopoly control of the military is of an ‘expert adviser’ (ibid.: 16). Since doctrine is taken as being in the military domain, the influence of the military’s advisory role is higher. Nevertheless, given that nuclear weapons have unquestionably bridged the conventional and political domains, there can be no solely military domain any more. In effect, a military doctrine even in the conventional sphere would require benefit of checks and balances afforded by civilian scrutiny and imprimatur. In the Huntington formulation, the military is concerned with only one segment of the activities of the government — military security — to the exclusion of all others. Therefore, it cannot impose decisions on the client that have implications beyond the military’s field of special competence. It can only explain to the client the military’s needs in an area, advise on how these may be met and once a decision is taken, implement it. Doctrine formulation, and its marketing with the client, the government, is how this responsibility is met. The corporate character of the military as a bureaucratised profession and insights from organisational behaviour, indicate that the rational ‘ideal’ that Huntington lays out can only be aspired to and approximated. In practice, militaries may exert an influence beyond the ‘ideal’ of tendering advice to the extent of virtual exercise of veto, especially in case of inadequate civilian control. Huntington’s seminal theorising was intended for democratic liberal states, in general and the US military, in particular. The Services derived the importance of doctrine from their self-perception as merely instruments of higher national policy. This accounts for their need for a ‘formal, self-conscious and explicit’ and written doctrine. Huntington associates doctrine with ‘bureau philosophy’ or ‘ideology’ (Huntington 1961: 468). To him, inter-Service conflict resembles inter-political party differences over fundamentals of national policy or between ‘English regiments on a grand scale’


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(Huntington 1961: 474–75). A significant aspect liable to be missed, in seeing organisations as monolithic, is prevalence of intra-Service rivalry alongside inter-Service rivalry. In the American case, intraService rivalries were less significant than inter-Service rivalries. According to Huntington, ‘Services are like nation-states: loyalties to them tended to override sectional or class affiliations and also to be stronger than transnational loyalties’ (ibid.: 473). By analogy, the case cannot be very different in India.

PART II Organisation Process Model This section looks at the structures responsible for conventional doctrinal thinking and the output. These serve as sites for organisational processes and are actors participating in bureaucratic politics, but are not the sole or the most significant players. They comprise only a part of the silos constituted by respective Service. They only originate the doctrinal output. The chief feature of doctrine generation is captured as follows: [e]ach service principally develops its own doctrines without coordination or relation to the other two. Therefore, the Army articulates a doctrine that puts the Air Force in a subordinate role providing close air support to ground troops, while the Air Force’s own doctrine and acquisition pattern emphasises strategic bombing and air-to-air combat. Meanwhile, both services largely ignored the Navy, which is pushing to develop a broader reach (Kapoor 2010: 7).

The second feature is that, while all the three Services now have written doctrines, there is a tendency to keep these under wrap. In a democracy the manner in which the military intends discharging its role should be in the open domain. Only, strategies, due to the distinction discussed in a preceding section and for reasons of secrecy, need to be classified. It is interesting to note that the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (HQ IDS website) provides links to over 50 doctrines of the US, France and the United Kingdom (UK) on the same webpage on which it provides links to only two Army doctrines, Indian Army Doctrine (2004) and the Doctrine for Subconventional Operations (2006). This is unnecessary reticence but is in keeping with the overall restricted information regime that pervades the military and security sector

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in India (Mukherjee 2009). Given that doctrine promulgation has implications for placing all on the same page, including, civilian agencies responsible for acquisitions, budgets and technology, there is a push within the Services for doctrines being open source documents (Kapoor 2010: 5).

The Indian Army The Army Training Command (ARTRAC) came into being at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, on 1 October 1991. It was tasked with doctrinal development and dissemination through training. It shifted to Shimla on 31 March 1993 (Oberoi 2000: 329). Its role is formulation and dissemination of concepts and doctrines of warfare in the fields of strategy, operational art, tactics, logistics, training, and human resource development. Its charter of duties include, to act as the nodal agency for all institutional training in the Army; to evolve joint doctrines in conjunction with other Services; develop and disseminate standardised doctrines for war at the strategic, operational and tactical levels; develop supplementary concepts for operational functioning of all Arms and Services, with particular reference to the fields of intelligence, psychological operations, electronic warfare, motivation, and training; and specified aspects of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare (ARTRAC website n.d.). The doctrinal aspects of the role of the ARTRAC include evaluation of concepts and doctrines; evaluation of organisations, tactical and technical developments; organisation of macro level training exercises and seminars; doctrinal aspects of NBC warfare; and planning and conduct of joint and combined operations (Oberoi 2000: 332). The aims envisaged for Army training include creation of a well-trained, of a well-trained, professional, highly disciplined and motivated force for conventional operations, to deter war and when deterrence fails, to conduct swift conventional operations for a decisive victory. The Service is to be trained to fight a conventional war against the backdrop of a nuclear threat (ARTRAC website n.d.). The HQ ARTRAC carries out doctrinal work in conjunction with the Faculty of Studies (FOS) at the Army War College (AWC), the Military Operations (MO) and the Perspective Planning (PP) Directorates at the Integrated HQ of MoD (Army) (IHQ of MoD). The Category ‘A’ training establishments under the command of ARTRAC function as sounding boards in its concept development


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function, act as a testing ground and provide feedback (Oberoi 2000: 331). Doctrine development earlier involved preparation of a draft, soliciting comments, and then circulating the final product once again before final approval. The formal procedure can be fast tracked by holding seminars and brainstorming sessions. Ultimately the product is in written form and is distributed to training institutions and the field force. The product is a supplement to General Staff pamphlets in the form of Army Training Notes, ARTRAC Papers, Concept and Approach Papers, Liaison letters, etc. The ‘capstone’ document in the public realm for generating a discussion earlier was the document, Fundamentals, Doctrine and Concepts (ibid.: 333). It has now been replaced by the Indian Army Doctrine (2004). The doctrine’s origin owes to the deep thought given to the lessons from the extended deployment during Operation Parakram. The extensive process involved a discussion of the draft at the army commanders’ conference in July 2004 followed by the circulation of the draft document for comments. The feedback helped fine tune the document at Shimla. Comments were also obtained from former army chiefs who for the first time met in a conclave prior to the army commanders’ conference at New Delhi in autumn that year at which the final product was endorsed and released (Dutt 2004: 2).

The Indian Air Force The Air Force first to set out its doctrine in 1995 (Sawhney 2004: 7). It had a Directorate of Concept Studies in the Operations Branch, later re-christened as AWSC Air War Strategy Cell (AWSC) and placed under the ACAS Ops (Space) at the Integrated HQ (IHQ) of the MoD (Air) that undertakes doctrinal studies. It has recently upgraded the position of the Deputy Chief of Air Staff dealing with operations and space to Director General (Operations Space) (IAF 2009). The doctrine put out, and later revised in 2007, is in two parts. The first, generic in nature, deals with air power, and, the second is on how the Indian Air Force (IAF) intends fulfilling its roles. Though a classified document, Bashyam Kasturi (2008) indicates that the Air Force prioritises gaining of air superiority. No specific concern of the Air Force with Limited War is mentioned. The chief characteristic of an Air Force being flexibility, it is possible to regulate air operations with greater precision and ease (Sethi 2009: 310). This eases the possibility of limitation to the extent

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desired. However, explicit acknowledgement of the requirement and manner of operationalisation would make for greater compatibility with the nuclear dimension for the doctrine. Air Force doctrinal thinking was advantaged by the position of an air power theorist and former practitioner, Jasjit Singh, as Head of Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi in the nineties. His writings, among other factors such as the manner of entry of air power into the Kargil conflict, have helped the force acquire a strong corporate position on issues that affect it, the doctrinal one being the most salient. Among other votaries of air power are Kapil Kak, who served as Jasjit Singh’s deputy at IDSA for a period, and Air Marshal Patney, who was the much-decorated air commander overseeing the Kargil theatre.

The Indian Navy The Navy first published its doctrine in October 2004, the same year as the Army. The Indian Navy has a Directorate of Strategic Concepts and Transformation under the Vice Chief of Naval Staff (VCNS) that is responsible, with the assistance of the Maritime Doctrine Development and Concepts Centre (MDDCC) in Mumbai under the Flag Officer Doctrines and Concepts, and the Directorate of Naval Plans at the IHQ of MoD (Navy), for doctrinal thinking. There is a Director Naval Plans to look after infrastructure development, force levels, perspective planning and naval budget. The VCNS oversees the directorate through the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy and Plans). The Navy has a Vision document that has informed its maritime doctrine and is in the public domain. Its intent is to develop a capability for full spectrum operations to include conventional operations and the naval role in nuclear operations. The latter is essentially to do with acquisition of a ‘triad’-based second strike capability. The nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, to assure this capability, was launched in July 2009 (Menon 2009). The Navy published the revised doctrine in 2009, naming it expansively, Indian Maritime Doctrine. It defines maritime power as the ‘ability of a nation to use the seas to safeguard and progress its national interests’ (IHQ of MoD (Navy) 2009: 10). According to the document, ‘Maritime doctrine, therefore, focuses on that dimension of maritime power, which enables use of the seas by all stake holders’ (ibid.: 10). It deals with concepts and principles of employment of


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India’s Naval Power (IHQ of MoD: 11). By addressing the militarystrategic level and covering the operational level, it is intended to serve as a capstone doctrinal publication and guiding light for the Service in all its endeavours (ibid.: 11).

Joint Structures A joint warfare doctrine has been arrived at by the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (HQ IDS). Doctrinal output continues with specific doctrines covering other facets of warfare being generated, such as sub-conventional warfare, Special Forces and Information Warfare, being generated (HQ IDS website n.d.). Two joint doctrines, the Joint Air–Land Doctrine and Joint Psychological Operations Doctrine (PTI 2010) were released on 16 June 2010. The organisation dealing with this was originally the multi-disciplinary inter-Service organisation, the Defence Planning Staff (DPS). This body was part of the Cabinet Secretariat and provided input to the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) had approved the functions for the body to include threat analysis, force level planning, jointness, perspective planning, interaction with Research and Development (R&D) and, production. To fulfil these it was divided into the division of International Security, Policy Planning, Military Plans, and Weapons and Equipment (Ministry of Defence 1998–99: 98–99). Presently, the Training and Doctrine (TRADOC) Division of the Doctrines, Operations and Training (DOT) Branch is responsible for joint doctrine formulation. The name echoes the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) of the US, the model of ARTRAC. It has the assistance of joint institutions such as the College of Defence Management (CDM) and the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), controlled by the HQ IDS, along with the expertise and experience of the two joint commands, the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) and the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) (HQ IDS website n.d.). Work on preparation of joint doctrine for all the three Services involved interaction with the IDSA, the United Services Institution of India (USI), HQ ARTRAC and the three Service HQs. A draft joint doctrine was prepared and circulated to various Category ‘A’ training establishments and the Service HQs to elicit their views. Only thereafter was it presented to the COSC. The joint doctrine was approved and promulgated at a Combined Commanders Conference in May 2006.

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Organisation Process in Operation The Civil–Military Interface There is little political and bureaucratic engagement with military doctrine due to policy incapacity (Ladwig 2008: 11). He writes, ‘[t]he impact of this disconnect between politicians and the military is apparent when evaluating Operation Parakram, which lacked clear objectives and terminated with inconclusive results. This raises questions about the ability of India’s civilian leaders to set the kind of concrete objectives and associated military tasks that would be necessary to successfully engage in limited warfare between two nuclear powers’ (ibid.: 12). This lack of direction is evident from absence of a strategic doctrine that logically should precede military doctrine. Strategic doctrine remains amorphous, under-developed and little articulated. If this is the case with strategic doctrine that is essentially a civilian responsibility, inadequacies can only spill over to civilian engagement with military doctrine. The apex defence structure contributes to the firewall between the civilian and military spheres. The Union Ministry of Defence does not have either the ‘hardware’ or ‘software’ to think through linkages between the strategic and military doctrines since it is not the site for nuclear doctrinal thinking. That is the preserve of the National Security Council (NSC) system. The NSC system while charged with nuclear dimension may prove less cognisant of the conventional sphere, leaving it to the military. The military for its part is kept out of the nuclear loop, even if lately organisational evolution has led to formation of a multi-disciplinary Strategy Programs Staff at the NSCS. The lack of integration has structural reasons, the military being under the MoD, while nuclear assets are not under the MoD. This is of a piece with the long-standing military reservation on the higher policy and decision-making system. A former Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Arun Prakash, opines, ‘[i]t is common knowledge that despite their being on par with the cabinet secretary, the service chiefs are kept well outside the inner circle’ (2007: 10). Arun Singh identifies the interest of the bureaucratic level in perpetuating its power over the Services through ‘a growing tendency for checks to overwhelm the balances’ (Singh 1989: 267). Among the reasons for greater autonomy of the military sphere is ignorance on part of generalist civil servants on what the doctrinal process


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requires and of the demands an interactive doctrinal process makes on civil servants. The deficiencies in the system extend downwards into the relationship with the Services. The Group of Ministers (GoM) Report (2001) acknowledges as much stating, ‘[t]here is a marked difference in the perception of civil and military officials regarding their respective roles and functions. There has also been, on occasions, a visible lack of synchronisation among and between the three departments in the MoD, including the relevant elements of Defence Finance’ (Lok Sabha 2007: 12). The situation has one advantage for the Services in permitting them autonomy in doctrinal formulation. Doctrines are to be horizontally and vertically integrated. Horizontal integration implies an overlap between land, air and naval doctrine as necessary. The nuclear backdrop makes vertical integration between the conventional and nuclear levels also a necessity. This is to be reflected in both conventional and nuclear doctrines.

The Political Level In the nuclear era, Limited War is the only kind of ‘war of choice’ that India can possibly embark on. However, the preceding discussion indicates that there has to be political direction to the military on this score. The military can then reflect on doctrine accordingly. This first step not having been taken, the military has proceeded doctrinally without explicitly engaging with the requirement of Limited War. While the Defence Minister’s Directive sets out the military’s tasks, it has left the doctrinal space to the military itself. It is also not known if the doctrine the Services formulate receives political imprimatur since the MoD’s annual reports do not carry a mention of doctrine. This deficit can be attributed to organisational deficiencies in the national security system. To Clausewitz, there were three principal institutions involved in war — the government, military and people, known as the ‘Trinity’ (Clausewitz 2008: 30). They ‘make up war and determine its main tendencies’ (Echevarria 2007: 97). The political responsibility is explicit in Clausewitz’s writings: First, therefore, it is clear that war should never be thought of as something autonomous but always as an instrument of policy . . . Second, this way of looking at it will show us how wars must vary with the nature of their motives and of the situations that give rise to them. The first, the

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supreme, the most far reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish by that test the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive (Clausewitz 2008: 30).

This political function can benefit with additional attention. Antulio Echevarria writes that ‘in democracies civilian authorities have the right to be wrong: they should get the wars they ask for, even if they are not the ones that they really want; in other words, military practitioners should not take creative liberties with the guidance they receive from their civilian heads’ (2007: 103). This presupposes political involvement and guidance, suggesting civilian control of the military. This deficit is noted, in Chapter 5, ‘Management of Defence’, in the Group of Ministers (GoM) Report on National Security, as, ‘[t]here is a marked difference in perception of civil and military officials regarding their respective roles and functions’. National and political interest lies in avoidance of war. Knowledge of potential escalation leading to ‘overturning the boat’ is expected to induce caution in states that rock it. The process of rocking the ‘boat’ is however open-ended. Rocking is also a strategy, under the concept of leaving ‘something to chance’. In this, Limited War is taken as a ‘psychological bargaining process between belligerents’ dependent on the escalatory prospects of the degree of violence being held in reserve (Cannon 1992: 84; Clark 1988: 61). The fear is that the ‘boat’ could well capsize (Clark 1988: 140). This is accentuated in case of rising prosperity of a state as it raises the stakes in preserving the gains. Therefore, strategic prudence is in not entering dangerous terrain. This explains the bias towards deterrence as strategic doctrine. This is how the needs of conflict avoidance are met, since there is a mutual interest in the ‘boat’ staying afloat. Only a Limited War can ensure minimum regression from prosperity. Limited War thinking permits the matching of military means to political ends (ibid.: 61). This aim at the political level needs to be articulated through an appropriate strategic doctrine for the military’s translation into a workable Limited War doctrine. Currently, India’s strategic doctrine is in a half-way house between compellence and deterrence. With military-led Pakistan self-servingly


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only seeing compellence at work, even India’s deterrence-related measures are liable to be wilfully misread. It would be difficult even for a ‘normal’ neighbouring state to take India’s conventional doctrine of proactive offence under a nuclear cover of expansive retaliation differently. Jasjit Singh’s advice can be taken: ‘the importance of the strategic (politico-military) doctrine is much higher in the case of limited wars than those of full scale, leave alone total wars’ (Singh 2000a: 1212).

The Strategic Level Logically, the doctrinal result has to be worked on by both, the civilians and the military, to earn political acceptability. The GoM Report acknowledges as much stating, ‘[i]deally the Government’s national security objectives should lead to a formulation of defence objectives, which in turn, define defence policy and directives of the Defence Minister. This is not the case at present. The preparation and subsequent implementation of defence objectives and missions should result from an interactive process, in which, the desired military capability, required technologies and industrial skills and capacities, and fiscal resources, are identified’ (GoM Report 2001: 98). The Report goes on to note that, ‘[t]he defence planning process is greatly handicapped by the absence of a national security doctrine’ (ibid.: 98). The Ministry of Defence website indicates the current status as a ‘work in progress’, stating, ‘[a]s a first step, Draft National Security Strategy has been prepared and forwarded to National Security Adviser’ (MoD website n.d.). Though written prior to creation of the NSC, this situation continues into the second decade of the NSCS’ existence, even though it is well-known that successive National Security Advisory Board (NSABs) have been tasked and provided the relevant input. The military retains its doctrinal autonomy, even though doctrine is one area that civilian masters must use for exercising democratic political control. That this is not done suggests a relationship in which the military is seemingly permitted autonomy, even as they are kept out of policy and decision making. This inattention or lack of integration and cohesion at the strategic level in the political– bureaucratic–military security complex could result in unfathomed nuclear dangers. The Indian Army Doctrine has no discussion of Limited War. It is not known how the Air Force doctrine, being classified, addresses

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the issue. While air power permits flexibility, not having Limited War concept inform doctrine would result in greater scope for expansive targeting in the tradition of application of air power set by the US-led West. Insights gained of targeting of infrastructure, command and control assets, military objectives, counter force targets, etc., need to be adapted to conditions that obtain in the subcontinent that obtain here. Flexibility that is inherent in air power enables this to an extent, but it needs to be buttressed by intellectual argumentation restricting air power. A picture may emerge with the latest five-yearly review of the doctrine being released into the public domain for the first time in 2012. The Navy doctrine is also ambiguous. It takes General or Total War as ‘involving nearly all resources of the nation, with few, if any, restriction on the use of force, short of nuclear strike/retaliation’ (IHQ of MoD [Navy] 2009: 19).This formulation appears to suggest that Total War aiming for ‘annihilation or total subjugation of the opponent’ can still occur below the nuclear threshold. Also, there is no category in the ‘Spectrum of Conflict’ in the doctrine which accommodates nuclear use, since the definition of Total War recounted here seems to place nuclear war outside into a separate category. The overall impression is that the military is undecided to weigh in on the side of Limited War unambiguously. This is surprising given that it needs to do so to raise the nuclear threshold for conventional force application. If it does not reassure the enemy of a limited war being waged, then the enemy may be stampeded into premature nuclear use which would undercut the military’s own initial intent. It is perhaps possible but unclear that this lack of discussion on Limited War precepts is part of an information war strategy of coercing Pakistan. The organisational process model has some answers. In the case of the US, Michael Cannon writes, ‘[t]he question of what military end states were required to secure political objectives rarely saw light in print. The services demonstrated a myopic concern with means (tools available) over ways (manner of employment) and ends’ (Cannon 1992: 94). His understanding is that military is concerned with war-fighting. For clarity, the military conceptualises a ‘spectrum of conflict’ — ‘a continuum defined primarily by the magnitude of the declared objectives’ — and plans to be capable of victory across the spectrum. ‘Escalation dominance’ defined as ‘the idea that superiority at the highest level of force in use along


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the scale is the most important aspect of the conflict’, becomes consequential. Capabilities and plans attempt to gain asymmetry at best, and, symmetry or parity, at a minimum (Cannon 1992: 94–95). Enemy capabilities become the defining yardstick rather than intentions or, indeed, even the aims of own government in case of deficiencies in political control. The military would come up with a war-fighting doctrine in accord with its interests postulated by organisational process model as against a war-deterring one required by political masters. Arun Singh’s warning is apt: ‘There is plenty of evidence from both within and outside to suggest that individual Service interests sometimes take priority over the ‘common good’ in Operational Planning’ (1989: 265).

Implications for Military Doctrine Land Warfare Doctrine At the political level, Cold Start permitted only a limited time window for crisis management and war avoidance efforts (Cohen and Dasgupta 2010: 63). This revealed that it was not entirely aligned to the national interest, given the extant ‘strategy of restraint’ protective of the national economic trajectory. The national interest is in conflict avoidance, meaning time for crisis management to explore if war, and its effects on the economy, can be avoided. There may have been an element of artfulness in this denial of the window diplomats need to get their act together in a crisis. Any decision to attack Pakistan would be dependent on a certain amount of political will being available to face the consequences, that could well include nuclear catastrophe. The Army felt it necessary to undercut the time available for this decision lest second thoughts prevail and erode the ‘will’. Assuming ‘pusillanimity’ among politicians, the idea is to make them strike when the iron is hot, particularly in case of grave provocation. Political will would be forthcoming earlier in the crisis since public support would be there for energetic response. In the words of a former Vice Chief, ‘[n]ow we can mobilise before world opinion comes down on political leaders and prevents them from acting’ (Kapur 2008: 90). Such thinking owes to the military’s scepticism of the strategic sense and resolve of the political and bureaucratic class. The understanding is that India being a ‘soft state’ requires greater ‘push’ to work up the ‘will to power’.

The Organisational Factor


The military does not want a replay of Operation Parakram in which it rushed to the border but was checked. It is unable to reconcile with the reaction of coercive diplomacy, seeing it not as strategy but as absence of strategy. The government, for its part, wished to manipulate the threat of war for gaining Pakistani concessions. For this the military was to demonstrate a capacity for war. In the event, the military felt it was cheated out of an opportunity to punish Pakistan. ‘Cold Start’ makes the politician commit himself prior to launch of the military instrument. This makes sense to the extent that resort to the military instrument must be after due contemplation. However, the readiness to escalate may be without the benefit of prior contemplation. War must be launched with due deliberateness. This is negated by the doctrine of proactive operations at a short notice. Even if operations are not from a ‘Cold Start’, there is little articulation of how limited operations will be employed for political effect. Cohen and Dasgupta see strategic commentary as driven by the military through its surrogates in the retired officer community and hawkish civilians (2010: 63). The differences are brought out by them as, ‘[a] strategy of compellence seems so high risk that the political leadership is unlikely to embrace it. There is little reason to expect the Indian government to abandon strategic restraint for a more assertive policy, but the army’s plans continue regardless’ (ibid.: 61). At the horizontal level, the doctrine drew considerable criticism from the Air Force (Ladwig 2008: 11). It did not give the Air Force the time window it required for execution of air dominance operations. Threatened with relegation to a supportive role and with the Army setting the doctrinal agenda, the Air Force counter attack was swift and sharp including with its own set of partisans, with one critic articulating, ‘[i]t is essential therefore, that air power is seen as an instrument of national power and not merely an adjunct to the army’ (Phadke 2001: 1801). Within the Army, the implication of the proactive offensive doctrine is in terms of size of the force. First, not only are the offensive capabilities of the three strike corps required to be overhauled, but also additional offensive content is required in the pivot corps to execute the limited offensives from a standing or ‘cold’ start. Second, the internal advantage is in favour of the Armoured Corps–Infantry balance within the Service. This was threatened by a tilt towards the


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

latter with the massive counter insurgency involvement and expansion through the nineties in favour of the Infantry. The innovation of integrated battle groups has helped breathe life back into the mechanised lobby (discussed in a subsequent section in the chapter). Strike corps are threatened with obsolescence. The Sundarji doctrine of expansive employment of strike corps would drive military contest across the nuclear threshold, besides furnishing nuclear targets for the enemy. With the Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) being smaller, mobile and less provocative in their reach, this disadvantage stands overcome. Lastly, there are relative proportions of the capital budget at stake, of which the Army, being less capital-intensive, has to exert overtime to retain its share. With a self-image as the leading and senior Service, it has to demonstrate its centrality to deterrence and war making. Its doctrinal agenda and output are an attempt at retaining its primacy.

Air War Doctrine As noted earlier, the Air Force was first off the block with a doctrine in 1995 (Cohen and Dasgupta 2010: 88), brought on by witnessing the era, transcending air campaign in First Iraq War of 1991. Also, straitened budgetary circumstances in the nineties required each Service to lobby for its budget slice. A doctrine is a useful instrument in budgetary fights. It serves the purpose of the case for ‘more’ in face of compelling arguments of other Services. This facet makes it difficult to make out the extent strategic reasoning is an after-the-fact rationalisation and the extent to which institutional interests drive organisations. A former Air Marshal writes: as reflected in its performance in internal budget battles and the wider political debate, it does not seem to have developed an air doctrine that articulates the importance of air power to the defence of India . . . nor has the IAF developed and publicised a concept for greater employment of air power in the defence of India, which would seem to be a prerequisite to gaining a larger voice in the allocation of resources (Jayal 2000: 18).

An airpower theorist and practitioner, Arjun Subramaniam, informs on the influence of global strategic culture (Scott Sagan) on airpower thinking, ‘[t]he application of air power to further a nation’s strategic objectives has gained momentum over the last few years, ever since it was used with telling effect in Operations

The Organisational Factor


Desert Storm, Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom’ (Subramaniam 2008). In carving for itself a strategic role as the ‘arm of decision’, the IAF believes that it has advantages in possessing a capability for deterrence by denial and by punishment over the other two Services (Singh 2000a: 1219). Subramaniam (2008) articulates the Services’ intent: ‘The IAF’s mind-set is also shifting from that of a tactically oriented and proficient force to one that has the confidence to influence strategy and doctrinal changes’. The consequence is in the Service operating along multiple thrust lines. The IAF’s emphasis of its advantages in punishing the enemy across the conflict spectrum, from surgical strikes to nuclear strikes, enabled the initial thrust to gain a ‘Strategic Air Command’ (Jayal 2000: 21). Arjun Subramaniam (2008) advocates, ‘[i]t is time to embrace a doctrinal shift towards building up a Strategic Forces Command’. The advocacy is for parallel warfare or the unfolding of both the strategic and tactical air campaigns simultaneously with gaining air dominance. The thrust is also for becoming an ‘aerospace power’. The idea is that, ‘Aerospace power capability is likely to become the arbiter of national military power and has to be given due emphasis and funding’ (Patney 2009: 182). The thrust for role expansion is also evident in the move towards acquiring counterinsurgency relevance. Subramaniam’s insight (2008) indicates an interest along this direction: ‘The emergence of invisible enemies, such as terrorists, and unconventional targets involving material and human resources will increase the difficulty of classifying the roles performed by strategic air assets over the next few decades’. The case for ‘air-centric doctrines’ of Limited War is now a salient one (Bakshi 2010: 53–61). The implications of Limited War have not been taken into account. The belief is that by identifying and targeting the centre of gravity of the enemy with a strategic air campaign would enable deterrence by punishment and coercion (Kak 2001: 2119). The counter that this would have implications for conflict escalation is dismissed by recourse to the Kargil example. Subramaniam believes, ‘In fact, the introduction of airpower proved decisive in de-escalation and conflict resolution (at Kargil). With that as a template, nothing prevents the formulation of a cohesive interdiction campaign, even in sub-conventional scenarios, provided that surface forces realise the tremendous payoffs of a well-planned strategic-interdiction campaign’ (Subramaniam 2008). Operations for air dominance, the strategic air campaign and the thrust to


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

target Pakistan’s premier nuclear delivery system, the F 16 (Sidhu and Smith 2000: 56), between them, make the environment of future conflict markedly different from Kargil. The escalatory potential of air doctrine needs to be factored in. The argument that air power can do the work of attrition is right, but neglects the likelihood that such application of punishment would provoke the Pakistani Army into expansion and escalation along the land war dimension. Thus, the more successful the air component of military power, the less secure the nation may get since the other side may tend to escalate. The refrain that escalation dominance in terms of being stronger at all levels will deter escalation is persuasive, but may wilt as an argument against the emotionally charged nature of war. This is particularly so if the nuclear assets of the enemy also figure on air targeting lists. Whether they do or not is not known, but lack of knowledge does not imply that in fact they do not. The advantage of explicitly and overtly weighing-in, in favour of the Limited War concept is obvious. In terms of air power such limitations would include avoidance of targeting essential infrastructure, infrastructure that release dangerous forces such as dams and nuclear installations, etc. This is not to be left to the targeting function during war. It needs to be placed on the target list, requiring prior political approval in the planning stage itself. An overt doctrine would leave no apprehensions on this score. Currently in the absence of the doctrine in open sources keeps the enemy guessing and does not incentivise like restraint on its part.

Naval War Doctrine The Navy’s strategy document (2007) draws on recent strategic play in the maritime dimension to assert its role and make its case for expansion and continuing relevance. It builds on the earlier strategy titled A Maritime Military Strategy for India 1989–2014 (IHQ of MoD (Navy) 2007: 101; Cohen and Dasgupta 2010: 94). This document was prepared in the heydays of ‘blue water’ Navy thinking in the eighties. The expanding defence budgets of late and India’s increasing influence as a rising power make its current strategy document more credible. The Navy’s logic is as follows: Both Operation Vijay and Operation Parakram were undertaken with a nuclear backdrop. The Indian Navy short listed three goals: namely,

The Organisational Factor


to ensure safety and security of our maritime interests against a surprise attack, to deter Pakistan from escalating the conflict into a full-scale war and to win the war convincingly at sea . . . The lesson that emerges for Indian Navy is on two counts. Firstly, there will be space and scope to conduct conventional maritime operations below the nuclear threshold. Secondly, a window of opportunity would exist to influence the land battle (IHQ of MoD (Navy) 2007: 22–23).

As is the refrain within the military, the Navy believes that political direction may not be forthcoming. It would require operating its own rudder. The document makes this point stating: [i]t was clear that, as in all previous wars and operations, no End States had been visualized. While there is merit in pressing for political directives or End States to conflicts, the reality is that they may not be forthcoming. Hence, the End State definition may be hazy and strategies must be prepared for that contingency (ibid.: 16).

The Navy is better positioned since it has the characteristic to be responsive to political demands. In its thinking, ‘[t]he flexibility available in employing naval forces provides escalation control in any crisis’ (ibid.: 74). What emerges is a professed strategy clearly premised on deterrence with offensive undertones (2007: 131). The joint amphibious doctrine, involving sea borne landings by land forces enabled by the three Services acting jointly keeps the Navy relevant in a land warfare context as well Exercise Tropex 2009 involving all three services that was conducted at the Madhavpur coast of Gujarat tested the amphibious task force. The amphibious task force including the new acquisition, INS Jalashwa, sailed from Karwar along with 91 Infantry Brigade of Sudarshan Chakra corps. The exercise witnessed para-drop and air operations by MIG29s (Mishra 2009). Clearly, the Navy is determined not to ‘sit out’ in the next war. The former Naval Chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma, has said as much, stating that ‘Maintenance of a war-fighting ability’ remains the ‘top most priority’ and that ‘we need to maintain an organisational ability to deploy warships, submarines and aircraft at immediate notice’ (Pandit 2011b). A Pakistani observer’s assessment has it that the Navy’s contribution to Limited War when so deployed would likely be along the lines of: The Indian Navy’s stated role in Cold Start seemingly remains limited; ostensibly, the navy will provide aviation assets to IBGs in the southern


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

sector only. But to complement the effort on land, and posing a multidimensional problem for Pakistani military planners, the Indian Navy will inevitably take a forward posture, possibly impose a distant blockade of Pakistani ports, and/or move into sea lines emanating from the Red Sea or Far East. The Indian Navy could deploy submarines — which soon will be armed with land-attack supersonic BrahMos cruise missiles — close to the Makran coast to clog Pakistan’s sea traffic (Khan 2011).

At the nuclear level, the Navy holds the trump card, given its indispensability to an invulnerable second strike capability. In its view, ‘the most “credible” of all arsenals in a second strike is the nuclear-armed missile submarine. On both counts (crisis stability and arms control stability) therefore, the nuclear submarine option is the preferred arsenal for small nuclear forces’ (IHQ of MoD [Navy] 2007: 76). Nuclear doctrine needs factoring in the problem of communications and the implications for nuclear warhead numbers. This means timely fleshing out of both the maritime and nuclear doctrines in step with India’s growing capability, which by the end of the decade would see the deployment of ballistic missile armed and nuclear powered submarines.

PART III Bureaucratic Politics Model Limitations of the HQ IDS suggest that organisational interest in role and budget expansion will continue. Since no Service argues that a changed doctrine is for increasing resources coming its way, the motive is difficult to prove. To argue that absence of proof implies proof of absence is to miss a major institutional dimension of organisational life — institutional interest. Institutional interest informs organisational output and organisations pursue it through strategies designed for the bureaucratic contest over competing interests. The rapid release of doctrines, even if welcome, points to an element of doctrinal competition. The joint doctrine that logically should have preceded Service doctrines was the last to be articulated in 2006. General Deepak Kapoor has acknowledged as much stating, ‘The necessity for a tri-service approach in such operations has been well established and must be duly ensured’ (2012). While land and air co-ordination has been done in the

The Organisational Factor


latest doctrinal release of mid-2010, similar co-ordination between air and maritime power is in the pipeline. This doctrinal contestation is illustrative of bureaucratic politics surrounding doctrine. Each Service understandably wishes to justify its continuing relevance in the changed security setting brought on by nuclearisation. Doctrines serve to explain internally and to justify externally the legitimacy, immediacy and inevitability of Service requirements. This helps each Service in the battle for budgets, gaining bureaucratic and political attention, fighting off critiques and influencing public opinion. This is therefore a logical area for seeking the motivation for doctrinal development. At the core of bureaucratic politics is the personality of the organisational head in terms of ability to stand the heat in the kitchen. Solutions do not emerge from a detached review of problems (argument-reflection-choice), but by the ‘push and shove’ of agencies, represented by their leaderships, partially selected for expertise in manipulating the environment to deliver institutional ends. Parochial agendas, pre-existing action-channels, bargaining games, and power play as the mechanism of choice characterise this model. Decisionmakers can thus be viewed as following rather than leading in an environment of constraints. Incidence of bureaucratic politics is an endemic characteristic of the Indian scene. The institutional interest is central to the organisational process model. Also, competitive matching of institutional interest constitutes the bureaucratic politics in defining the national interest.

Doctrinal Contest Over CDS That the CDS is needed is widely acknowledged (Lok Sabha Secretariat 1996: 25; Kanwal 2004). That it does not yet exist is popularly attributed to ‘turf wars’. Here the understanding advanced is that it owes to a seemingly insuperable and sometimes invective laden, doctrinal contest, primarily between the Army and Air Force. Despite the level of necessity and acceptability of the office of CDS being widely acknowledged, there has been little progress. The Standing Committee on Defence expressed its frustration, stating, ‘[t]he committee fails to understand the lack of political consensus on such an important issue concerning the nation’s security. Merely writing letters, even from the level of the defence minister is not sufficient’ (Pandit 2009c). A report, quotes a ‘top official’ commenting


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

on lack of political will as ‘[s]ome politicians even feel, albeit wrongly, that a CDS could become all powerful. Bureaucrats, of course, do not want a uniformed person to rival the stature of cabinet secretary’ (Pandit 2006: 9). Nevertheless, on at least one occasion, the government was close to implementing this long standing recommendation of the GOM (Mustafa 2004: 1), but did not follow through. Jasjit Singh notes the doctrinal stand-off at the heart of the hold-up, writing, [i]t is apparent that the basis on which the Group of Ministers took their decision (in February 2001) to create a CDS was doctrinally flawed . . . The central point is whether we should manage our higher military organisation on the principle of corporate/collegiate decision making or on the basis of a unitary hierarchical system . . . every large modern organisation has to be managed on the collegiate principle (Singh 2004: 8).

He prefers to first arrive at conceptual clarity. To him: [h]igher defence organisation has two distinct functions: one is creation of capabilities for the future and second of fighting a war or employment of military power. The former involves perspective planning, procurement of weapons and equipment, recruitment training, and employment policies of military manpower. The latter involves operations within existing resources . . . India has not been able to separate the two distinct functions . . . So the first issue is would the CDS be the commander in chief or chief of staff (Singh 2004: 8).

The implication of the appointment for doctrine is stark. A professional body is required to undertake the adjudication between the competing Services. The MoD does not have the software for this. Therefore it requires the office of the CDS. The absence of a CDS is also a cause of such inter-Service face-off. However, the more important aspect has been missed out in literature. It is that the appointment of the CDS is critical to limitation. Limited War, by definition is one that is non-nuclear and one not liable to go nuclear. This involves keeping it below the perceived nuclear thresholds which requires monitoring at a level higher than that of the three Services. It requires the office to have a macro

The Organisational Factor


view of the war, taking in both the strategic and the grand strategic perspectives. The strategic view is that of the Services and the grand strategic view is at the higher level of the government. While the Service Chiefs can function adequately on the former, it is the latter that suffers in case of a ‘double-hatted’ Chairman COSC as India has at present. Since each Service would be playing out its war-time role under a wider inter-Service plan, such a plan requires ownership and monitoring. It cannot emerge out of the trade-offs that constitute consensus among equals. Also, in case of Limited War, there is a great premium on reining in, restraining force application. This would require an oversight mechanism to monitor the military pressures that the Services are individually applying. Since collectively their impact could result in breach of thresholds, it is for limitation that the CDS is required. Since the Nuclear Command Post (NCP) will have to manage the conventional conflict, orchestrate deterrence and oversee the transition to nuclear conflict, the agenda requires full-time monitoring by an empowered military authority in the form of a CDS. This doctrinal angle to the controversy makes the ‘turf’ aspect of the CDS debate recede in significance. The IAF is unwilling to be subordinated to the Army since in its self-perception it has a strategic role. Even the theatre commands concept cannot be worked through due to this reservation as it would entail allocation of air resources that the IAF prefers are centrally controlled, albeit for decentralised application. The Army for its part would wish to privilege force objectives that are terrain and attrition related. There is a debate on the type of CDS model as well. As seen earlier, there is the ‘staff model’ in which the appointment is akin to a Joint Chiefs of Staff system and charged with the creation and delivery of the forces. The other is the ‘command model’, for an empowered authority to oversee the limitation required in Limited War. Also the CDS would be in charge of nuclear retaliation. The clinching decision would require to be based on which of the two are better for national security in the nuclear context; a debate outside of the scope of our discussion here.

Jointness The levels of jointness in the Services are preliminary as assessed from experience and from the structure. The former relies on the


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

reminiscences. The controversy over the recall of the Kargil War by the former Air Chief, A. Y. Tipnis, is an illustration. Tipnis, critical of the Army, stated: I observed the ground situation was grave. The army needed IAF help to evict the intruders. But it was not amenable to the air headquarters position to seek government approval for use of air power offensively as the army was reluctant to reveal the gravity of the situation to the MoD (Singh 2006a).

In the event, Tipnis reports V. P. Malik storming out of a meeting between the three chiefs saying ‘[i]f that is the way you want it, I will go it alone’ (Singh 2006a). Controversies such as the one on the Laungewala battle in 1971 appear to have the instrumental purpose also of keeping jointness at bay. The second piece of evidence on levels of jointness is from the point of view of structure. On jointness efforts, considerable progress has been made such as Integrated Defence Staff, tri-Service bodies like the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Strategic Forces Command and the Andaman & Nicobar Theatre Command. However, while structures exist, their performance needs to be gauged against expectations. Premvir Das (2007) writes: [t]he HQ IDS is a massive bureaucratic monolith, under a Vice Chief level officer but including another four lieutenant generals, ten major generals and about 45 officers of the rank of Brigadier/Colonel. It is not surprising that instead of becoming a facilitator, this new entity has become yet another hurdle to be crossed in a course full of obstacles.

In part, the structural problems owe to the lack of jointness in thinking — a function of doctrine. Admiral Mehta underlines one perspective on jointness, defining it as: ‘At the staff and planning levels, jointness is sought to be achieved through joint capability development, joint planning, joint targeting, joint training, joint logistics and other functions that lend themselves to jointness’. During a Unified Commanders’ Conference at New Delhi in 2009, the then Air Chief Marshal P. V. Naik opined that ‘[j]ointness does not necessarily imply equal partnership’ and that there was a need to ‘adopt correct combinations, whilst respecting the core expertise of individual Services’ (Mehta 2009).

The Organisational Factor


The Army–Air Force face-off on the more relevant instrument of force is at the root of shortcomings in jointness. The doctrinal disconnect is in the Army believing in a unified command, while the Air Force, on the other hand, believes that the different Services should coordinate their plans but fight the war separately in order to achieve integrated political and military objectives (Kasturi 2008: 12). Sawhney notes that the ‘Air Force feels its maximum effort should be to destroy enemy’s strategic and air force assets and not so much the support of the land battle’ (Sawhney 2004: 7). To reconcile the divergence, there was a joint conference under the aegis of the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) on the issue in 2008. The follow-up has been in release of a joint air–land doctrine by HQ IDS in May 2010. It is the cornerstone document to synergise air power, technology, procedures, and organisations in an Air–Land battle (PTI 2010a). The joint doctrine reconciles the positions of the two Services; but it is uncertain as to the level of integration of war-fighting concepts, doctrines, systems, and procedures. An illustration of this uncertainty in the level of integration is on the problem posed by fire power. The Army prefers a higher quantum of fire power support. This is a lesson from the Kargil War, in which the Bofors gun earned its spurs. In a speedy attack as envisaged in the new doctrine, the centrality of fire power increases. This requires Army resources being supplemented by Air Force resources. The logic is explicated by Kanwal (2010), thus: The logic behind the generation of massive asymmetries of fire power is simple: since it would be difficult to bring to battle and destroy Pakistan’s strategic reserves, Army Reserve North (ARN) and Army Reserve South (ARS), through deep manoeuvre in a short, limited war, their combat potential can be substantially degraded only through the sustained application of ground-based and aerially delivered firepower.

The Air Force is amenable only to the extent that it can release fire power from what it sees as its initial primary role of gaining air dominance. This requires concentrating on the air war. A doctrinal adjudication on this is required and has the potential to help other elements fall into place. The Army’s concept for war needs to be contrasted with that of the Air Force. The Air Force prefers being identified as the Service of ‘decision’ and with a ‘strategic’ role. This is so because air-enabled strategic strikes are possible simultaneously on key elements of the


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

military, political and economic power-base through ‘parallel war’ (Subramaniam 2008), even while the air force attempts ‘air dominance’ (Singh 2010: 23). The joint doctrine would require to contend with the sequencing raised by air strategist, Kapil Kak, who argues in his survey, A Century of Air Power, that the ‘counter air campaign would need to precede a major offensive operation on land or at sea and not run concurrently. This is the lesson of history’ (Kak 2001: 2126). Jasjit Singh appears to concur, writing that ‘[u]ltimate success may require control of the land, but is not necessarily the first order of business’ (Singh 2000b: 1666). The strong stand of the Air Force on the doctrinal question is revealed best by a leading votary of air power, V. Patney, who was the Air Force commander in-theatre (also known as commander-in-chief) in the Kargil War. He opines that doctrine is a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ proposition believing that ‘[a] doctrine for the Service is not a government formulated or approved set of precepts. The doctrine is produced by the Service itself and for itself’ (Patney 2009: 184). This inter-Service ‘tension’ (Singh 2010: 24) has had one positive outcome: that of development of a joint doctrine. Since its contours are not known, it is not impossible that it is a mere pastiche of Service doctrines, reflecting continuing disagreement rather than reconciliation. The foremost reason an efficacious joint doctrine needs to exist is that it would unify the action at the conventional level. Doing so is a necessary prelude to knitting together the conventional– nuclear interface. While nuclearisation has brought about an altered situation in South Asia, persistence of modes and mores indicates a lack of appreciation of the changes necessary.

Friction ‘Within’ The vertical stove-piping of the Services is replicated within the Army. Each arm has a stake in the doctrinal direction, since its fate and relative salience would depend on the resources made available. For instance, despite the advent of the tank in World War I, the cavalry maintained a visible presence on the battlefield till its last action in Germany’s invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II. Doctrine guides the expenditure, size and importance of the armed forces. Therefore, there is an internal tussle within the Services to influence it. The ‘Cold Start’ concept set off the debate on the continuing utility of strike corps in the context of nuclearisation.

The Organisational Factor


The concept had advantages for the Army in that it enabled it to expand its size in terms of re-organising to operationalise it effectively. The South Western Command was raised and adjustment was made in the boundaries of Western and Northern Commands. The Northern Command’s Nagrota based 16 Corps was split and nine Corps was raised as part of Western Command (Thapar 2004: 15). This was to rationalise the frontages, since according to the new doctrine, the pivot corps would also have an offensive role. They would be expected to provide launch pads for strike corps. Thus, each command was geographically affiliated with one of the three strike corps that used to be earlier taken as strategic reserves held with the Army HQ. Thus while the Kargil War enabled the Army to enlarge its size by creating 14 Corps for Kargil and Ladaakh, the fallout of Operation Parakram was larger, in the creation of a command and a corps. The role and employment of strike corps however, have come in for closer scrutiny. General V. P. Malik writes: In the new military conflicts environment, I believe that some of our large size combat organisations can be reduced in size and made more versatile and agile . . . Having several large, unwieldy and expensive Strike Corps for conventional deterrence that tend to sit out of the war when it actually happens is not a cost-effective military strategy (2010: 144).

Such thinking faces a spirited fight back from the ‘cavalier lobby’ that stands to lose. P. J. S. Sandhu makes a case for retention of strike corps in light of the multiple roles they fulfil (2004: 9). He traces the origin of the idea of IBGs to the Germans during the concluding stages of World War II on the Russian front and in Europe (ibid.). At the outset, the Germans had organised their war machine into Panzer Armies, corps and divisions. However, after 1943, these German formations were untenable in light of attrition suffered, and therefore ‘battle groups’ substituted for formations. The actions of battle groups resulted in a quicker reaction time required to organise a new line of resistance and also gave a psychological boost to the Germans. Sandhu deems advantages of the strike corps to include: These impose a decision dilemma on the enemy, especially for the position of the reserves. It is the commitment of reserves that decides the outcome of a battle. These strike corps have not only the capability of penetrating


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

the defences but more importantly to bring to battle the enemy’s theatre/ strategic reserves and then degrade them in a mobile battle (Sandhu 2004).

Since strike corps have an independent armoured brigade integral to them, it can with an infantry division operate by itself or in concert with the corps. This provides unlimited operational and strategic flexibility in planning and execution of offensive operations (ibid.). In comparison, battle groups proposed are no substitute. These can at best ‘dent’ enemy defences and cannot achieve a breakthrough in the developed terrain. In desert terrain they cannot carry out a ‘turning movement’. This is essentially a movement that imbalances enemy forces by gaining an advantageous position on an unexpected flank or the rear. The psychological advantage such power has over the enemy is squandered. Sandhu also proposes that in case the enemy is to retain his strike corps, India will be disadvantaged. To him, battle group commanders would only think at tactical level up to 10–15 km from the border. As a result, strategic vision in planning would be lacking. These are telling arguments, but it is interesting that Sandhu does not touch the nuclear issue. Such silences are equally revealing. General Sundarji perceived the changes nuclearisation entailed way back in 1986, stating: We in the armed forces are gearing our organisation, training and equipment in such a manner that in the unlikely event of use of nuclear weapons by the adversary in the combat zone, we will limit the damage, both psychological and physical. This is an important change in Indian military thinking, although there still is no discernible conceptual development of an official nuclear doctrine (Sidhu and Smith 2000: 32).

Yet, there is little conceptual understanding of the era transcending nature of nuclear weapons acquisition. S. Paul Kapur believes that ‘[t]he Indians reportedly anticipate such an outcome at the tactical level and are prepared to fight through Pakistani battlefield nuclear strikes. Indian strategists dismiss the possibility of a Pakistani nuclear response against India proper, however’ (Kapur 2008: 90). He concludes that ‘organisational and other pathologies will result in suboptimal policy formulation’ with a ‘significant risk of catastrophic escalation’ (ibid.: 93). Such risks compel renewed effort at doctrinal integration.

The Organisational Factor


Military Tribalism as Answer Two lenses — organisational process and bureaucratic politics — have been used. The doctrinal tussle between the Services has provided grist. The Services have used doctrine generation and dissemination to influence the environment — internal and external — towards ends of expanding roles and missions, increasing size, staking claim for a larger proportion of the budget, seeking primacy in terms of roles, maintaining autonomy from rival claims and, warding off the overarching bureaucratic–political level. This is in keeping with the predictions of theory that has it that ‘[m]ost organisational leaders value autonomy and “turf” as much as, if not more than, having extra resources at their disposal’ (Sagan 1994: 37). Autonomy is an important factor at the organisational level. It enables a Service to determine its agenda, priorities and trade-offs. As seen, in light of the existing fault-line between the Services and the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), autonomy has been available by default. Lack of expertise in the ministry and that it is overburdened, enables this autonomy. There are no political directives and a strategic doctrine that could serve the Services in determining their own doctrinal thrust. The downside is that there is no adjudication on Service positions in their inter-Service dimension. Doctrine being the foundational document for downstream aspects such as force structure, size, salience, etc., each Service uses the document for explaining, legitimising, advocating and, influencing. Therefore, doctrine is not generated solely as routine organisational output, but has a significant utility in bureaucratic politics. The joint doctrine, a useful document meant to further jointness, can be expected to come into its own only in subsequent iterations. A former Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, General V. K. Singh has admitted as much stating, ‘Conceptualisation and promulgation of joint doctrines, including the visualisation of Limited War against a Nuclear Backdrop, forms an important facet of our integrated approach’ (Bakshi 2011). Doctrine, so far a key battlefield in the inter-Service and in the ‘bureaucrat vs. brass’ competition, can thereafter cease to be such.


The Doctrine Puzzle

7 The Puzzle Resolved?

Weighing the Drivers


rior to nuclearisation it was believed that deterrence in light of the nuclear backdrop would make conventional contest obsolescent. Strategic stability would result in conflict resolution and restoration of peace. India’s formidable power indices in the region and its status as a power without any extra-territorial ambitions could have combined for a defensive deterrent strategic doctrine. Instead, there was a turn to a more offensive conventional doctrine by India, redolent with compellence. This prompted the question: What accounts for the change to an offensive conventional doctrine? Answering this enables an understanding of the impetus behind development of India’s Limited War doctrine. The answer was sought through the ‘levels of analysis’ approach. The understanding is that phenomena in social sciences are multicausal. At the structural level it was posited that change in India’s military doctrine has been due to continuing external security threats. At the statelevel, the changeowes to evolution of Indian strategic culture. At the organisational level, the military doctrine preserves the military’s institutional interestinto the nuclear age. The chronological narrative has it that inception of the doctrine took place at a conference at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in the wake of the Kargil War. The Kargil War brought home to the Indian military that there was space between the sub-conventional and nuclear threshold for military exploitation. Even as conceptualisation of the change was underway, the ‘twin peaks’ crisis intervened. The limitations of India’s ‘all or nothing’ approach that had hitherto been dependent on strike corps being launched after mobilisation was found wanting. The 2004 document, Indian Army Doctrine, was an outcome of the ‘lessons learnt’.

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It would appear from such a reading that structural level factors, principally threat perception, were responsible for the change. However, there is a need to investigate further because the period of the doctrine’s development witnessed certain changes in India’s strategic culture and observed the advent of cultural nationalism. The nationalist impulse favoured an assertive India in the creation of power resources and felicitated the exercise of force. The impact has been in an offensive turn to doctrine when mediated by a military organisation predisposed to the offensive. There is also the need to look ‘into the box’. The military is part of the wider national security establishment. Overt nuclearisation of 1998 had transformed the verities of this complex. The doctrinal output in the subcontinent in the nuclear age can, therefore, be explicated first, as a result of organisational impulse at self-preservation and second, as extension in terms of role expansion. Given the coincidence of three possible explanations, the book has adopted a ‘multi-level and multi-dimensional approach’ to understand the factors behind the change (Jackson and Sorensen 2010: 229). This concluding chapter is laid out in two parts. Part I carries a brief recapitulation of Limited War in its concept and applicability in India. Part II reiterates the arguments made in the three chapters of the book operationalising the variables at the structural, political and organisational level. Part II also highlights the implications, findings and conclusions for theory and policy.

PART I Limited War Theory Revisited The Indian Army’s definition of doctrine is: ‘A framework for a better understanding of the approach to warfare and provides the foundation for its practical application . . . a set of principles by which military forces guide their actions in support of national objectives’ (ARTRAC 2004: 3). This makes it distinct from strategy with which the term is sometimes confused. The latter has been famously defined by Liddell Hart as ‘[t]he art of distributing and applying military means to fulfil ends of national policy’. The military is but one instrument of national policy. It is orchestrated to fulfil the ends of national policy along with other instruments of national power through the medium of grand strategy.


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

The overarching strategic orientation that is thereby imparted to the state is termed strategic doctrine. This varies along a continuum accommodating defensive, deterrent, offensive, coercive and compellent strategic doctrines. Doctrine is cognisant of the present strategic circumstances of the state. It also heeds the likely direction of future conflict. A collation of knowledge and understanding from previous wars, doctrine, therefore, is an intellectual bridge between the past and future, without neglecting the present. Doctrine places the vast and internally variegated military organisation on the same page. In doing so it helps overcome the fog and friction intrinsic to war and makes the military sensitive to other factors that characterise war, the foremost being the subordination of the military dimension to the political. The downstream benefits are in enabling consensus on organisation and force structures, equipment, infrastructure and training, deployment and employment. The critical change in the conflict environment has been nuclearisation. Doctrine has to contend with its effects. Towards this end, the Limited War concept, initiated and developed during the Cold War under the conditions of nuclear parity, is handy. Robert Osgood was the foremost theorist of the concept in the Cold War period. His initial definition was, ‘[a] limited war is one in which the belligerents restrict the purposes for which they fight to concrete, well-defined objectives that do not demand the utmost in military effort of which the belligerents are capable and that can be accommodated in a negotiated settlement’ (Osgood 1957). By the time of revision of his work, in light of the Vietnam War experience, where the concept was employed and it failed to deliver, his fresh thinking was that ‘[l]imited wars were to be fought for ends far short of the complete subordination of one state’s will to another’s, using means that involve far less than the total military resources of the belligerents and leave the civilian life and the armed forces of the belligerents largely intact’ (Osgood 1979). Limited Wars are neither new to history nor a product of the nuclear revolution. Most wars have been limited, prompting the leading theorist of war, Clausewitz, to observe that ‘[w]ar can be of two kinds, in the sense that either the objective is to over throw the enemy . . .; or merely to occupy some of his frontier-districts so that we can annex them or use them for bargaining at the peace negotiations’ (Clausewitz 2008: 7). It is the nuclear context that

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made Limited War a special category since it called for, in the words of Bernard Brodie, ‘deliberate hobbling of a tremendous power that is already mobilized’ (Brodie 1959: 311). Categories of potential limitation as visualised by Osgood were along the lines of geographical area, weapons, targets, manpower, number of belligerents, duration and, intensity. Thinking on limitation was not restricted to the conventional level. Kissinger, among others as Herman Kahn, evolved the concept to Limited Nuclear War that later informed the flexible response strategy. Thomas Schelling, an economist by training, built in the concept of bargaining into the understanding of Limited War with his input that the threat of violence in reserve is more important than the commitment of force in the field.

India’s Adaptation With such a body of work preceding India’s conscious tryst with the concept, it is remarkable that reference to Limited War was absent from Indian strategic thinking. The assumption was that India, in any case, had only fought Limited Wars. All its five wars since Independence were limited in nature in all the parameters. The Kargil War was an epitome of Limited War and understandably so since both states had gone nuclear a year earlier. The concept of Limited War as an intellectual construct arrived in India in the wake of the Kargil War. The Limited War concept was preceded by a doctrinal movement away from the defensive mentality. This provided the fertile intellectual space required for its development. India, in the eighties, had moved away from the practice of deterrence by denial or ‘defensive defence’ to the practice of deterrence based on counter-offensive capability with the ability to inflict punishment. The military mindset, therefore, was receptive to the turn of the doctrine towards being ‘proactive’ and offensive. The strategic predicament posed by Pakistan at the structural level, the churning in strategic culture by infusion of political culture with cultural nationalism at the state level, and the need for the military to adapt to the nuclearised conflict circumstance were the compelling drivers for change in the doctrine. The aims that Limited War helped furnish in the India–Pakistan context were to help deter Pakistan, to coerce it if necessary to reverse provocation to ensure that provocation remains below India’s level


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of tolerance and if it fails to prosecute war to compel it to reverse its policy of provocations. Such a war was envisaged as comprising proactive joint offensive operations across a broad front and involving multiple offensives. These were to advance to shallow depths so as not to trigger the adversary’s nuclear reaction threshold. Speed of mobilisation and manoeuvre warfare-inspired operations were to ensure speedy end to the conflict in terms of time. The assumption was that the political go-ahead at the outset would set off the chain of events. This was necessary to overcome the mobilisation differential in Pakistan’s favour due to its cantonments being closer to the border and its operation on interior lines of communication. Speed in mobilising ensured that assaulting troops would find defences under-prepared due to the defender having less time to organise himself in defence. This did not, therefore, require complete mobilisation of defence potential of the country. The gains made were to be traded off for future good behaviour and to punish the Pakistan Army, in particular, through attrition with the aid of air power and fire power. Strike corps were to ‘posture’ in the background, either for exploiting success or to keep the adversary’s reaction non-escalatory, depending on whether the war aim was self-effacing or expansive, respectively. Naval operations, intelligence and covert operations, diplomatic and political action would form the additional prongs operating to suitably influence the mind of the Pakistani decision-maker, in effect its military apex. The full implications of the nuclear context to the conflict have come into the reckoning only in response to the criticism the doctrine has received. For instance, the Indian Army Doctrine states: ‘Offensive operations are a decisive form of winning a war. Their purpose is to attain the desired end state and achieve decisive victory’ (ARTRAC 2004: 7). The term decisive victory should not ideally figure at all, given that just a page later the doctrine has it that ‘[f]uture operations will be conducted against a nuclear backdrop; all planning should take this important factor into account’ (ibid.: 8). The term ‘decisive victory’ had figured in the 1998 document, written in a period of recessed deterrence. It is testimony of the cultural factor, studied at the ‘unit’ level. The fact that the military continues to maintain the strike corps implies that factors at the structural level, such as the critical one of nuclearisation, are important but not the sole ingredients of doctrine formulation.

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The military envisages employment of strike corps thus: Strike corps should be capable of being inserted into operational level battle, either as battle groups or as a whole, to capture or threaten strategic and operational objective(s) with a view to cause destruction of the enemy’s reserves and capture sizeable portions of territory (ARTRAC 2004: 9).

This blind spot indicates that doctrine formulation has to contend with lobbies, in this case the cavalier lobby that cannot concede the dismantlement of armoured might. This is suggestive that doctrine is not only an output in the face of strategic circumstance, but there are organisational compulsions that determine the way it turns out. The fact that the Army doctrine has been contested by the Air Force and lacks political imprimatur, further weighs in on the side of the organisational factor. Examination of the three factors in respective chapters is reflected in brief in the subsequent section.

PART II The Structural Factor In realist theory, the world order is taken as anarchic and power balancing is used by states to ensure their survival and security. This is in the form of internal balancing, in which the internal potential of the state is leveraged, and external balancing, in which alignments amounting at times to alliances are forged to offset threats. Military power is consequential in such balancing. Strategic doctrine lends the power orientation to a state by determining its external posture. This places the state along a defensive–compellence continuum. The location of the state on this shapes the creation, deployment and employment of military power. The function of military doctrine is to lend coherence to the military instrument of power. In effect, strategic doctrine of a state determines its military doctrine, with the former being the political level approach to power and its instrumentality. The threat posed by Pakistan was manifested at the subconventional level over the last three decades. In the eighties, there was also the apprehension that Pakistan could follow up its subconventional proxy war with a more conventional one. In response, India’s strategic doctrine moved from defensive in the seventies to deterrence in the eighties with mechanisation. India’s military doctrine was increasingly in favour of the offensive to the extent that


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the first edition of the written doctrine in 1998 discoursed on an intention to fight the war on enemy territory. By the end of the eighties, recessed deterrence or non-weaponised deterrence, was in place. This made India’s mechanised advantage recede, though military doctrine did not move correspondingly. This lack of movement in military doctrine owed to the military being out of the nuclear loop; the assumption that nuclear deterrence based on counter value targeting would hold; and an internal fixation with counter insurgency over the nineties. It was only with over nuclearisation and the Kargil War that the military was forced to contend with an obsolescent military doctrine. This was impelled by a movement in strategic posture from deterrence to coercion and quasi-compellence as demonstrated by Operation Parakram. It was only in wake of the massive military mobililsationthat the military formulated the Limited War doctrine, discerning a window below the nuclear threshold to bring conventional advantages to bear. The current strategic doctrine goes by the term strategy of deterrence. This implies a reversion to deterrence, but one refurbished by heightening defence budgets over the decade. The direction of the future is a movement away from Limited War doctrine, since this is seen as potentially disruptive of the national economic trajectory. The military is therefore contemplating contingency operations, with Limited War as a possibility brought on by Pakistani reaction. The brief recount of movement in the strategic and military doctrines, respectively, since 1971, indicates a link between the two. The Indira–Rajiv period was one of operation of the ‘Indira doctrine’ with India wishing to be a regional power. India, therefore, acquired a higher military profile in the eighties. In the second part of the period, characterised by liberalisation, the straitened economic circumstance led to an introspective India. Military doctrine remained stagnant in the period which led to atrophy in the conventional deterrent, with Pakistan upping the ante in its proxy war, taking advantage of the stability/instability paradox. The threat culminated in the Kargil War and the terror attack on Parliament. The strategic doctrine in response was to coerce Pakistan to revise its anti-India posture. Military doctrine furnished this by making the military instrument relevant to the new strategic circumstance of nuclearisation. However, there is an anomaly in the period of Indira doctrine. While the counter-offensive reliant doctrine that accompanied

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mechanisation was in sync with strategic doctrine of deterrence, the Indira doctrine itself was not a response to a threat as such, since India had acquired regional pre-eminence after the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. India could have continued with a defensive strategic doctrine. Instead, India moved to deterrence based on a promise of conventional punishment, eventually acquiring three strike corps. This means that the explanation at the structural level is important but insufficient. The strategic doctrine of quasi-compellence in the early part of the 2000s was reflected in the proactive military doctrine. Likewise in the later part of the decade, there has been a correspondence between the strategic doctrine of restraint and the one step back from Cold Start in military doctrine. This proves the link between strategic and military doctrine. It does not prove adequately that the strategic doctrine itself is a response to threat at the structural level. The nuclear threat brought about by nuclearisation and Pakistan’s abjuring of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) amounted to greater threat. This partially led to a changed strategic doctrine to one of restraint. This means that the earlier doctrine of quasi-compellence has more to it than it being taken merely as a response to threat at the structural level. This renders the link backward from military doctrine to threat as problematic. Strategic doctrine, in other words, has more impelling it than threat perception. The structural level explanation can therefore only be a partial one. It can be concluded that there is a degree of correspondence at the structural level between military doctrine and strategic doctrine. The link between strategic doctrine and threats emanating at the structural level are less easy to draw. The hypothesis is therefore validated only partially, since threat does inform doctrine but not to the extent generally believed.

The Political Factor Cultural theory posits three ‘cultures’ — political, strategic and organisational. Political culture is a site of ideological and intellectual competition between strategic elites. It determines control over the levers of the state. The concept of political culture has not been discussed in any detail here. Instead, the focus has been on strategic culture with organisational culture seen as mediating between culture and doctrine.


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

Jack Snyder, the originator of the term strategic culture, defined it as ‘[s]um total of ideals, conditional emotional responses, and patterns of habitual behaviour that members of the national strategic community have acquired through instruction or imitation and share with each other with regard to national strategy’ (quoted in Johnston 1995a: 36). Organisational culture can be defined as a collective understanding about the nature of work and conduct of the mission, shared across an organisation. It is plugged into strategic culture, but can also be distinct, depending on the cohesion of the organisation and levels of integration with the polity. Strategic culture is rooted in physical, political and socio-cultural factors. It has ‘keepers’ in the form of strategic elites, security bureaucracies, strategic community, and the attentive public. While continuity is usually taken as its hallmark, change is ongoing. Multiple strategic sub-cultures can exist alongside a dominant strategic culture and their relative salience depends on the ideological tryst within political culture. Strategic culture has symbolic and operational sets where in the former provides a rationale, while the latter accounts for the extent of reliance on force. Organisational culture of the military is of two types. The first is universal to militaries depending on their role of provision of security for the state. This has been typified by the military sociologist, Samuel Huntington, as ‘[t]he military ethic is thus pessimistic, nationalistic, militaristic, pacifist, and instrumentalist in its view of the military profession. It is, in brief, realistic and conservative’ (Huntington 1957: 79). The second culture is specific to the particular military, being a product of its unique historical evolution, strategic circumstance and sociological milieu. The George Tanham thesis (1992) states that India lacked a strategic culture and to the extent it did have one, it was defensive. Kanti Bajpai (2002) characterises Indian strategic culture as collage-like in subsuming multiple strategic sub-cultures — Nehruvian, neo-liberal and hyper-nationalist. India’s early postIndependence period was of ascendance of the Nehruvian paradigm that relied on internationalism and diplomacy rather than selfinterest, narrowly defined and military power. It was followed by a turn to a more assertive and pragmatic strategic culture in the form of the Indira doctrine. The strategic culture privileged self-interest defined in terms of power. Changes in India’s political culture can be traced to the early eighties, with the political ascendance of the

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conservative–nationalist forces. Their tenure in power enabled India’s overt nuclearisation. A cultural theoretical interpretation would state that this has less to do with strategic appreciation and more to do with a sense of identity, concept of the national self and prestige. Even as political culture has witnessed the shift in centre of gravity of politics from the left to the right in the transition from the socialist to the liberalisation era, the strategic culture too has undergone change. There has been a movement to greater assertion of power. This was clearly visible in the eighties and accounted for India’s seeming overreach. In the nineties, the assertiveness of strategic culture was less externally directed and more internally directed in India’s military-predominant tackling of internal problems. Nuclearisationwasin part a result of an assertive strategic culture, unwilling to subordinate itself to imposition of a global non-proliferation regime. An offensive turn to strategic culture was an outcome of Pakistan’s continuing challenge to strategic self-assertion by India. This explains the strategic doctrine of quasi-compellence to cope with the Pakistan challenge over the turn of the century. Organisational culture in the Indian case has all along been receptive to an assertive strategic culture. This can be seen in the civil–military tensions surrounding the Nehruvian doctrine even as it unfolded prior to the 1962 War. The loss in the war only deepened organisational cultural proclivities in favour of use of force purposefully and forcefully. The 1971 War was the climax and the validation of the theory. An offensive bias has therefore been a cultural trait of the military, even in face of the static, defensive mindset brought on by the notion that no loss of territory was politically acceptable. The very fact that this understanding of an absent political directive has been continually challenged is itself evidence of the offensive bias. Mechanisation can be seen as a break-out of this political strait-jacket since it necessarily implies a manoeuvre war approach. There is also a cultural explanation for the offensive approach to the strategic predicament. It is sensitive to the power asymmetry between India and Pakistan. The reference to power asymmetry brings up structural level explanations. This is not necessarily so when asymmetry is viewed from the perspective of the stronger power, in this case, India. The sub-conventional challenge posed by Pakistan was taken as amounting to an affront, requiring military exertion


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

on India’s part in the military. A proportion of the angst has gone in innovatively coping with the Pakistani challenge on site in Kashmir. However, making the conventional option usable in the light of nuclearisation helps end the impunity enjoyed by Pakistan’s recourse to the stability/instability paradox which resulted in the Limited War doctrine countenancing proactive offensives. Therefore, change in strategic culture towards a more assertive one over the past three decades, mediated by an amenable organisational culture, has led to the offensive doctrine. Elizabeth Kier’s understanding of political elites’ consciousness of the military factor in internal politics implies that the conservative National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime used military muscle flexing to depict its stronger stand on national defence. The Limited War doctrine formulation during its tenure is an instance among others. Likewise, the centre-right successor, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, while cognisant of the political value of being strong on defence or rather the political cost of appearing neglectful of defence, nevertheless have had prudence dictate military considerations. This explains in part the lack of military response to 26/11. Johnston’s theory of cultural realism seems to suggest an answer on such effects of political culture. He writes that: construction of group identities involves creation of in-group-out-group tensions . . . Thus, as in-group identification intensifies, it should be easier to denigrate out-groups and identify them as potential threats . . . the greater the intensity and exclusiveness of state identity, the closer a state will be to the high extreme . . . States sharing these levels of in-group identification will tend to share strategic cultures which exhibit hard realpolitik characteristics. Conversely, states with weak in-group identification, or states which perceive other states as sharing values characteristic of the in-group, are more likely to be influenced by idealpolitik strategic cultures (Johnston 1995b: 60).

By this yardstick, the Hindutva philosophy, for bringing about a unifying, harmonising identity for the denominational majority, has had strategic cultural effects. Bharat Karnad refers to the ‘brutish quality’ of the environment dating to the Vedic age that produced India’s texts on ‘pragmatic realism’ (2002: 3–4). The compilation of the wisdom of the ages gone by was done in Kautilya’s

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Arthashastra (ibid.: 10). Hemaintains that ‘ancient Hindu outlook was bleak and the remedies were stark. Intrusive policing within the realm was considered de rigueur’ (ibid.). He alludes to the Brahmin — ‘the highest of the four castes’ (ibid.) — as performing an integrating function between the secular and temporal. They ‘herded the growingly diverse peoples under one socio-cultural roof’ (ibid.: 11). By the time of the Arthashastra, internecine warfare had led to ‘fatigue and attrition all round’. Karnad believes that this led to a felt need ‘to close ranks, maintain ethnic solidarity and to forge a united front against extra-regional and extra-ethnic foe’ (ibid.). The fear was of ‘adversaries exploiting disunity’ (ibid.). Karnad opines ‘[t]o achieve the twin objectives of tranquillity at home and hegemony abroad, Kautilya, not unlike the old Vedic masters, scrupled at nothing’ (ibid.). This concern with internal unity explains psychological projection and displacement, resulting in external power projection. An echo across centuries is in Nitin Pai’s talk at the Army War College (2011). To him, [u]niting and keeping the country united has been the grand strategy of India’s rulers . . . The pursuit of the same grand strategy by different types of governments over two millennia suggests that the roots of India’s strategic culture are far deeper than we realise. India’s strategic culture . . . concerns itself with maintaining national unity (Pai 2011: 7).

His conclusion is: ‘The upshot is that India must project power abroad to stay united at home’ (ibid.). This is an intellectual justification of power projection, going beyond mere offensive deterrence. Consequently, not only does India have a record in keeping with Johnston’s cross cultural expectation that states have an operational set strategic culture amenable to use of force, but this has been accentuated by the need for in-group identity formation. Military doctrine has been one of the arenas of the process. The structural level threat posed by Pakistan is, in part, a creation of India’s power shadow over Pakistan. This shadow has internal drivers, as against being responsive solely to the Pakistan threat, as the structural explanation would have it. The long-standing critique of Indian reticence and infelicity in the use of force is largely inaccurate, and that


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count is in effect a deliberate, and at times motivated, exaggeration. This tempering of the dominant understanding that India lacks a strategic culture or is overly defensive is necessary to cope with the nuclearised strategic environment. Acknowledging this has the advantage of preventing the state from overcompensation in favour of the use of force.

The Organisational Factor At the organisational level, three models are operational: Rational Actor, Organisational Process and Bureaucratic Politics. The rational actor model posits a rational, unitary state responding with appropriate actions and due deliberateness. This has been covered earlier in the discussion on the structural factor and India’s reasoned response. The latter two models were therefore tackled in the previous chapter. In the organisational process model, doctrines are the ‘output’ of organisations enacting routines and standard operating procedures. Since doctrine formulation is what bureaucracies assigned the role ‘do’, these are undertaken by the military responsive to its internal differentiation and resulting diverse sensitivities within. Professionalism, defined by Huntington as a sense of responsibility for security, fulfilment of the associated advisory function and corporate cohesion, should determine doctrine. However, organisational theory has it that militaries seek autonomy, uncertainty reduction and institutional interest. Innovation is usually the result of failure in light of the need to move beyond the setback. These impact in making doctrinal output incline towards the offensive. The bureaucratic politics model has it that inter-Service and intra-Service ‘fights’ over salience, prestige, budgets, roles, etc., are consequential in buffeting doctrinal output in a certain self-serving direction. Organisational process is geared to facilitate organisational ‘needs’ for the organisation. The processes and the internal disharmony have been reflected on in detail to draw up a more accurate picture of the internal reality of the military. This has been a necessary filling of the gap in literature, since writings on the Services in general are inclined to treat the Services with a less critical eye. The fact that the military has professional autonomy in the doctrinal function is evident from the deficiencies in higher defence organisations as also in the Ministry of Defence’s traditional hands-off policy. This means that the organisation sets its own terms. In such a case, organisational

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interests end up having wider play, even as the rationale given out as fulfilment of a national obligation. Bureaucratic disagreements that result from organisational pursuit of institutional interests with other organisations is explained by bureaucratic politics. This is amply brought out in India’s case in terms of turf war between the military and the civilian bureaucracy and the intra-military, between the Army and the Air Force. This has been attributed here to essentially being a face-off over doctrine. The civil–military divide, absence of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and lack of articulation of strategic doctrine make the defence of self-conceived doctrine compelling. This results in bureaucratic fights since each organisation is not necessarily pursuing ‘parochial’ interests. Rather, each organisation is engaged in persuading the environment of the efficacy of its doctrinal position and its follow-on implications such as for higher defence organisation, war strategy, etc. Sundarji’s 1981 postal seminar at the College of Combat is evidence of the military’s thinking on the impact of nuclearisation. Mechanisation then underway was to anticipate the soon-to-be nuclear reality. Exercise Brasstacks was possibly designed to bring about a favourable strategic reality prior to the nuclear reality firming in. Despite onset of recessed deterrence India went in for the third strike corps. This pursuit of ‘combat superiority’ is a long standing tendency (Singh 2010: 14). The logic that votaries argued for nuclearisation was that the deterrence logic would work to help resolve outstanding issues between the two states. This has not been borne out. This can be partially attributed to Pakistan’s proxy war proclivities, which are a result of their perception of power asymmetry. The structural argument is that this requires a refurbished conventional deterrent. Not entirely unwittingly or incidentally, the very creation of this asymmetry owes to organisational initiatives towards expansion. The ‘security dilemma’ at the bottom of proxy war is therefore attributable in some measure to organisational level factors of institutional expansion. Pakistan has tried to pin down India’s military might in insurgency operations. India has created a separate force, the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) to undertake counter-insurgency operations to hone its conventional deterrence, whose effectiveness is apparently declining with incidences of proxy war. The opportunity detected in nuclearisation by Pakistan was borrowed and the military likewise


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saw the window for launch of conventional counter. This kept its institutional interest alive into the nuclear age, as incidentally it did for the Pakistani military to greater effect in terms of extending the tenure of that military atop the state apparatus. A study by a serving officer argues for numerical expansion along with qualitative upgrades, even as he argues that large scale offensive action at defeating the enemy is scaled down (Singh 2010: 12). This implies that nuclearisation is just another factor; bureaucratic wheels roll on inexorably. The bureaucratic politics surrounding this lends the process a sense of urgency since, as mentioned earlier, the rationale is the unexceptional fulfilment of a social obligation. The finding here is that the explanation at this level has greater salience than is generally attributed to it in strategic literature. In effect the neglect of this factor and level of analysis is unjustified. Greater focus on this can be achieved once the discipline of military sociology acquires momentum, under tutelage of the National Defence University, over a period of time.

PART III Prioritisation of Drivers The foregoing section brings out that there is reasonable and sufficient evidence for respective factors at the three levels to be considered as drivers of doctrine. Given the incidence of realist perspective in security literature, it is refreshing to discover that the bias is in favour of the other two factors, namely political and organisational, over the structural factor. The findings of this case study are that at the structural level, doctrine has been a response to India’s ‘Pakistan predicament’. At the state level, the political factor, involving a shift in strategic culture, accounts for the Limited War doctrine. Lastly, at the organisational level, institutional implications of degrading of conventional deterrence capabilities, evidenced by the Kargil War and Operation Parakram episodes, led to doctrinal evolution. This was further prompted by existing interService doctrinal competition to determine India’s military doctrine in the nuclear age. Overall, it can be said that the primary impetus from among the three is difficult to discern. Instead, all three are complementary factors responsible for doctrine. Yet, it remains to determine, if possible, whether there any one driver is more prominent and dominant.

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Judging Drivers The growth of doctrine since the 1971 War has been traced in this monograph. For the purpose of study, this time period can be further sub-divided into its constituent periods — the period of operation of the Indira doctrine that can be dated to end of eighties to include the regimes of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi; the succeeding period of introspection resulting from onset of liberalisation in the nineties; the culmination of cultural nationalism in the reign of the conservative political party at the centre in the NDA period; and the subsequent UPA period. The periods can be contrasted in respect of innovation/ stagnation of doctrinal thinking in the conventional sphere. The Indira period was characterised as one of doctrinal innovation with mechanisation. The subsequent period witnessed India being bogged down in counter insurgency operations. The NDA period was one of innovation leading up to the Limited War doctrine. The UPA period has seen partial innovation in recourse to the strategic doctrine of restraint and the corresponding draw down from Limited War doctrine as a default military response option. In the periods of doctrinal innovation, it is seen that the three factors — structural, political and organisational — are in operation. During the Indira–Rajiv period, the structural level ‘threat’ from Pakistan at the nuclear and sub-conventional level, led to India leveraging its conventional advantage through doctrinal innovation. The Indira doctrine, dating to the 1971 War, was responsible for change in strategic culture from Nehruvianism of the preceding era. Organisational impetus in the form of dynamism of Sundarji and the turn to manoeuvre warfare was taking place. Likewise, in the NDA period of innovation, all three drivers were at work. The threat from Pakistan peaked during the Kargil War and and grave terrorist provocation under nuclear conditions in the attacks on the legislative assembly in Srinagar and the attack on the Parliament at New Delhi in 2001. Strategic culture was more assertive under the changes in political culture brought on in part by mainstreaming of cultural nationalism. The organisational factor was much in evidence in terms of coping with the new nuclear reality and the stepped up inter-Service competition over the changes in the character of war brought on by the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) and demonstrated elsewhere in the post-Cold War era. Conversely, relative stagnation in the other two periods (the coalition era of the nineties and the UPA period) can be attributed


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to least one factor not being available to the required degree. In the nineties, strategic culture and the organisational factor were static, accounting for lack of movement in doctrine. The era of coalition governments in the nineties led to forceful articulation of the critique of India’s lack of strategic culture, although such a critique was unmindful of the preceding overstretch in the eighties and the developments in the seventies following the great political–military– intelligence–diplomatic triumph of 1971. In fact, this stasis enabled the political–cultural changes in the backdrop that later accounted for an inflection in strategic culture towards a more offensive orientation. At the organisational level, India’s leading Service, the Army, was caught up in counter-insurgency duty and its naval force was facing a budgetary crunch after the premature high in maritime advocacy of the eighties. Only the Air Force was doctrinally active in light of the eye opening air campaign of the preceding First Gulf War. Considering the same for the UPA period of relative stagnation, it can be seen that the structural factor has been dormant. This owes to the limitations of the military option in face of the unfolding war on terror in ‘AfPak’, the period of ‘back channel’ engagement during the Musharraf years and the privileging of neo-liberal economic reforms. Even though Mumbai 26/11 transpired during this period, it did not lead to a forceful military-led reaction. This is an indication of a nuanced return to a strategic culture of restraint. At the organisational level, Cold Start was being firmed in. The movement away from the Cold Start doctrine can be explained as a recognition finally of the transition to the nuclear age. It appears that a revision in the previous assumptions that under-grid use of conventional forces is underway. This survey suggests that in case any one or more of the three drivers is deficient, it results in stagnation in the military’s doctrinal function. Since the three were in evidence during the period of formulation of the Limited War doctrine, the conjunction can be attributed the development of doctrine. Objectively, it is difficult to determine, which of the three drivers was most prominent. However, it can be said that crediting the structural factor, as is the wont, is not sustainable. This can be refuted by reference to both the formulation of the Indira doctrine in the earlier period and to the cultural nationalism-induced change in the later period. The Indira doctrine was enunciated in a period when India was a pre-eminent power in the region and faced no existential threat. In

The Puzzle Resolved?


the later period, the threat at the structural level was in part a function of security dilemma induced in Pakistan by change in India’s strategic culture. Therefore, the explanation in cultural theory is consequential. In fact, as the threat at the structural level heightened in the period prior to the conceptualisation and formulation of the Limited War doctrine, it owed to a more assertive strategic culture. In effect, India’s changed strategic culture stimulated Pakistani actions that were in turn seen as ‘threats’ and thereby served to justify the change in strategic culture. This reasoning negates the argument that strategic culture changed in response to threats. In fact, threats at the structural level helped accelerate change in strategic culture. Insofar as external environment has figured in both, it is for justification and rationalisation. In relation to the organisational level, the cultural explanation appears to dominate since the changed strategic culture enabled the military to preserve its institutional interests. The military could not have done so without the enabling environment of an assertive turn to strategic culture, given the military’s subordination to the civilian domain in India. This analysis, therefore, suggests that the cultural factor can arguably be privileged as the ‘principal’ driver behind India’s Limited War doctrine.

Policy Relevance The foremost policy relevant conclusion is that India needs to arrive at an explicit Limited War doctrine. This must be cognisant of the nuclear–conventional interface. As a pre-requisite, it needs to first make the structural changes necessary, in particular the creation of the CDS, by whatever designation and scope of duties. Even so, it must be mindful that Limited War has its limitations and the nascent impulse distancing the military from a default resort to Limited War, as the term ‘Cold Start’ suggests, should be taken to its logical conclusion by military professionals in the light of nuclear dangers. The dangers are an offshoot of the conventional–nuclear interface, that has been rendered awry by India’s declaratory nuclear doctrine introduction of the term ‘massive’ to indicate the levels of nuclear retaliation on receipt of any kind of enemy first use. At a minimum, the term ‘massive’ needs excision. The term ‘massive’ in the doctrine needs excision at a minimum. Instead, building in limitation into nuclear doctrine is warranted since the onus of moving to the nuclear


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

level is on Pakistan, over which India has only indirect influence. Therefore, instead of a counter-city strategy, a graduated countermilitary and counter-force would help avoid spasmic nuclear release. The damage that Pakistan can do in countering India’s ‘wiping it off the map’ is considerable in light of its arsenal reaching triple digits. The expectation that a broken-backed scattered retaliation can be catered for by the emplacement of missile defences over two of India’s most significant assets, presumably Delhi along with the nuclear command post and Mumbai, India’s financial capital, is delusional. Even if the technologist claim is conceded, the problem of nuclear attack on the rest of the country can result in a Partition-like internal blood-letting in the short term and a balkanised India over the long haul. The former cannot be risked due to the internal–external linkage that has been sought by right wing forces to be established between India’s largest minority and Pakistan. Self-deterrence therefore has its overriding virtues over the compulsions of deterrence theology (Ahmed 2012b). A ‘flexible retaliation doctrine’ (as against ‘flexible response’) could be considered for escalation control. Since the ‘assured destruction’ threat carries suicidal and genocidal proportions, with a ‘MAD’ (Mutual Assured Destruction) circumstance lately beginning to obtain in South Asia, the periodic review of doctrine, due at least every decade if not more frequently, needs to be carried out. The 10th anniversary of the official doctrine’s unveiling can be productively used to review the doctrine. War avoidance is much more important, as Bernard Brodie (1946) reminded right at the beginning of the nuclear age. This implies taking the promise in nuclear weapons acquisition seriously, that of the weapons providing a cover under which to resolve outstanding disputes. This means a meaningful working towards, first, a detente in the near term and, subsequently, an entente is imperative. To tide over the interim an ‘Nuclear Risk Reduction Centre’ plus (NRRC) serving as an ‘enhanced nuclear risk reduction measure’ (NRRM) needs to be in place, with its tasks appropriately framed for covering peace, crisis and conflict. India needs to reset its strategic doctrine. Currently, fear of a realist backlash precludes the articulation of a strategic doctrine. As a result, the cardinals of military doctrine are not clearly articulated or at best remain nebulous. It is felt that the strategic doctrine

The Puzzle Resolved?


apposite to India’s internal political and strategic circumstance is best informed by defensive realism. This would involve a shift from the current tendency towards a strategic doctrine of offensive realism, visible from the direction of India’s defence budgets, acquisitions programme and geopolitical posturing. One of the implications of a doctrine of defensive realism will be a return to a policy of deterrence with a defensive bias on the Pakistan front. This would alleviate Pakistan’s security dilemma making a meaningful reaching out to Pakistan possible. Currently, the numerous dialogue initiatives go unreciprocated since they appear incongruous with India’s strategic posture, as interpreted by the Pakistan Army which is in charge across the border. Given that a ‘carrot and stick’ policy is unfolding, the stick end overshadows the benign one, not only in what India proffers but in what a military-dominant Pakistan wishes to see. Strategic doctrine needs reworking the balance between the two in accordance with the revised national endeavour. As the study brings out, instruments of power have institutional interests that need factoring. Compellence furnishes these more comprehensively and therefore the institutional bias would require to be overridden by exercise of political control. Since strategic doctrine is a political function and grand strategy orchestration a political prerogative, exercise of political control is desirable to this end. A replacement strategic doctrine could ideally be one informed by defensive realism and tend towards defensive deterrence. The consequences of this for military doctrine are stark, with, for instance, proactive offensives on a short fuse in the Cold Start mould being reconsidered. The right starting point is current direction of moving a step away from Cold Start. However, as seen, the ‘Cold Start’ doctrine has also served as an information war battlefield of smoke and mirrors. This has been through exaggerating India’s capability to follow through with its doctrine despite its deficit in equipment, training and cultural reorientation. This has led to Indian reticence in articulating a Limited War doctrine. The fear is that doing so would lessen conventional deterrence by emboldening the Pakistani military into believing that retribution will not be as swift and complete as a full scale conventional war would wraught. To make this case more convincing, the military has chosen to relocate some formations closer to the border to make them quicker off the blocks. Cumulatively


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

this will have an escalatory impact that would be less amenable to political control when and if tested by crisis or conflict. While the military may not be averse to this, for the tail to wag a nuclear dog is not the wisest defence policy. Therefore, intermeshing the doctrinal sphere into the dialogue process with Pakistan is necessary. For India’s Pakistan strategy to succeed, the latter is required to reconcile with a status quo that is in India’s interests. Compellence as a strategic doctrine has limitations on this score. Instead, incentivising Pakistan may be the route. The term appeasement is much dreaded and derided by strategic thinkers, particularly post-Munich. However, it cannot be neglected as a strategic choice. In other words, the security challenge is to arrive at mutual and balanced security, a win-win situation that would require taking Pakistani and Indian concerns on board together. Institutionalisation of a strategic dialogue will help move from mere confidence to security-building measures. While doctrinal interplay could figure in the talks at the start, mutual and balanced forces reduction may be broached, eventually (Ahmed 2010c). This extensive agenda is seemingly far-fetched. Having counter-intuitively seen in the study how power play unduly risks national security, the inference is along constructivist lines: that a changed strategic doctrine can beget a more secure future. Military doctrine would move further into making military power less counter-productive. This would be in keeping with the principal dictate of the nuclear age.

All Three and Together The wider lesson is that India’s military exertions have not led to expected levels of security. In short, security is not necessarily a result of realism inspired understanding of power or felicity in the application of power. The problem is accentuated in India’s case since not only are challenges in external security not mitigated but also get interlinked with its vulnerability in internal security. The experience over the past three decades has led to the impulse that India needs to ‘do more’ in respect of security. The route it is taking is ‘more of the same’ in terms of bolstering the military instrument and its nuclear dimension. The understanding is that India has acquired a strategic culture, resolved organisational shortcomings substantially and has sustainable finances towards this end. The incentive is there in terms of joining the ‘great power’ club. Its strategic doctrine is one

The Puzzle Resolved?


of escalation dominance, geared to overawing a ‘failing’ Pakistan, thereby attaining Tsun Tsu’s pinnacle of strategy — winning without fighting. This direction, having proved wanting over the past, remains questionable for the future. The political factor drives India’s exertions for status equivalent to its potential power and size. This is suggestive of an external focus dominating strategic considerations. This is not very useful for a state that remains a nation-in-the-making. India needs to re-orient its yardstick of prestige, critical to strategic cultural change, away from power to indices in the social sphere such as gender equality, social equity, education, poverty removal, and development. A clarification of national values and recalibration of aims needs to be done. The strategic doctrine that emerges will then take India down a path which more in keeping with its true contours as a ‘subcontinent state’ in terms of size and ‘civilisation state’ in terms of nationhood.


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About the Author Ali Ahmed is Political Affairs Officer with the United Nations. He has been associated with the Indian Army, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, and the faculty of the Nelson Mandela Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. His areas of interest include strategic studies and peace studies.


Index Absolute War, 29 Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), 103 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) project, 109 Age of Nationalism (1789–1945), 28 ‘air-centric doctrines’ of Limited War, 175 Air Force doctrine, 63, 174–76 AirLand Battle, 83 AirLand Battle concept, 18, 92, 95, 106, 154 Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 128 Army–Air Force face-off, 183–84 Army Plan 2000, 47 Army Training Command (ARTRAC), 42, 105–06, 163, 183 document, 50 Auftragstaktik (mission tactics), 72 Badri-Maharaj, Sanjay, 13 Bajpai, Kanti, 124, 133 Bakshi, G. D., 13, 72, 92 balance of power theory, 80–81 ballistic missile proliferation, 97 Banerjee, Major General D., 31–32 Bar Lev Line, 41 Basrur, Rajesh, 15, 125–26, 148 Beaufre, Andre, 83 Beg, General Mirza Aslam, 95 Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) National Executive resolution of July 1985, 133 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 16 Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali, 36, 86–87 Boyd, John, 143

‘Brasstacks’ crisis of 1987, 2 brinkmanship, 34 Brodie, Bernard, 25, 63, 107, 192 bureaucratic politics model, 155, 157–58, 178–87 Bush, President George, 95 Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), 4, 14, 61 Cambodiazation, 90 Cannon, Michael, 171 Ceasefire Line (CFL) of the Karachi Agreement, 87 Chagai tests, 40, 51 Chaudhuri, 138–39 China, 10, 14, 19, 41, 57, 59–60, 64, 86, 96–97, 106, 109–10, 121, 129–30, 132 Clark, Ian, 29 Clausewitz, Carl von, 51, 99, 141, 168–69, 191 aim of military force, 23–24 ideal of Absolute War, 27, 29, 35, 82 place of policy, 25 political aims, 23 strategy of annihilation, 86 view of strategy, 82–83 On War, 22–26 Cohen, Stephen, 15, 57, 64, 89–90, 109–10, 131, 135, 173 Cold Start doctrine, 1–2, 7–73, 111– 13, 139, 147, 152, 173, 208 current status of, 71–73 logic of, 57–60 Composite Dialogue, 103 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), 132 concept of terror, 90


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) with Pakistan, 91 conservative realism, 140 conventional war doctrine, 98, 104–06 counter insurgency doctrinal principles, 137 cultural nationalism, 6 cultures of anarchy, 132–33 Dangerous Deterrent, 46 Das, Premvir, 182 Dasgupta, Sunil, 57, 109–10, 135, 173 declaratory nuclear doctrine, 61–62 deep attack, 92, 94, 100, 106 Defending India, 15 defensive doctrine, 3, 17–18, 147 defensive doctrines, 17–18, 81 defensive strategic doctrine, 7 defensive structural realism, 80–81 deterrence by denial, 146 deterrence by punishment, 146 deterrent doctrines, 81 ditch cum bundh (DCB) obstacle system concept, 88 doctrinal changes military doctrine, 41–49 strategic doctrine, 38–41 doctrinal contest over CDS, 179– 87 doctrine conventional vs nuclear, 17 of defensive deterrence, 3, 5 definition of, 16–21, 190 development of, 2–4 dissuasive capability and counteroffensive capability, 2 drivers for, 203–09 examples, 18 implications for, 144–49 influencing factors, 20 link between political developments and, 6

maritime, 19 military experiences and, 2–4 for mountain warfare, 19 of ‘non-recourse to force,’ 3 nuclear, 19 offensive vs defensive, 17–18, 147 post-1971 War period, 2 special, 18 structural factor, 77–80, 194– 96 doctrine formulation and change in the Services, processes of, 7 Doctrine for Sub Conventional Warfare, 9, 113, 162 doctrine generation in India, three levels, 5–7 organisational level, 6–7 state level, 6 structural level, 6 Draft Nuclear Doctrine, 61, 98, 154 Draft Nuclear Doctrine of 1999, 1, 15, 32 Durand Line, 89 dyad concept, 155 Earle, Edward Meade, 82 Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, 66 Exercise Brasstacks, 43–44, 93, 129 Exercise Chequerboard, 129 Exercise Digvijay, 44 Exercise Poorna Vijay, 59 Exercise Tropex 2009, 177 Exercise Zarb-e-Momin, 95 existential deterrence, 68 Fernandes, George, 12, 49, 52 Fighting Like a Guerrilla: The Indian Army and Counterinsurgency, 136 First Iraq War of 1991, 174 flexible nuclear response, 67–68

Index ‘flexible response’ doctrine, 29, 207 ‘force-in-being’ concept, 11 Foreign Assistance Act, 95 Freedman, Lawrence, 66, 112 French military doctrine, 136 frontline state, 93 Fuller, J. F. C., 154 Fundamentals, Concepts, Doctrine — Indian Army, 50 Ganguly, Sumit, 12, 32 Global War on Terror (GWOT), 101 Gorshkov, Admiral, 109 grand strategy, 79–80, 82–83, 103 Group of Ministers (GOM) Report on National Security, 169 Guderian, Heinz, 154 guerrilla war, 90 Gulf War, 1991 and 2003, 2 Gupta, Shekhar, 15 Gupta, Sisir, 36 Haji Pir Pass, 39 Hart, Liddel, 83, 154, 190 Hazari, K. K., 42 Herz, John, 77 Hindutva, 131 Hobart, Percy, 154 HQ 21 Corps, 47 Huntington, Samuel, 140–41, 160– 62, 197, 201 Imagining War: French and Military Doctrine between the Wars, 116 Indian Army Doctrine, 9, 17, 53–60, 138, 170. see also Cold Start doctrine battle groups, 56, 58 decisive operations, 56 employment of forces, 56 Limited War tenets, 55, 66 mobilisation, 57–58


nuclear policy, 69–70 parameters of limitation, 58–60 ‘stability/instability’ paradox, 57 strike corps, 56 warfare, types of, 57 Indian Army Vision 2020, 14 Indian Maritime Doctrine, 84, 165–66 Indian military doctrine bilateralism and reciprocity with neighbours, 36–37 changes in, 41–49 doctrinal antecedents, 50–51 eighties, 44–45 nineties, 45–48 organisational nature of, 37 2000s, 48–49 seventies, 41–43 Indian Navy’s maritime strategy document, 18 Indian nuclear policy, 17 Indian Ocean Region (IOR), 144 Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), 47 Indian strategic orientation, 90 Indian Strategic Thought: An Interpretive Essay, 15, 124 India’s Emerging Nuclear Posture, 11 India’s nuclear deterrence, 5 India’s nuclear doctrine, 4–5, 9, 11–12, 14–17, 19, 32, 38, 41, 60–68 analysis, 62–67 and conventional-nuclear interface, 68–71 declaratory nuclear doctrine, 61–62 first strike, 62 ‘massive’ nuclear retaliation, 107, 207 ‘massive’ punitive retaliation, doctrine of, 64, 67, 69, 71, 108 nuclear tests, 60–61


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

nuclear weapons, purpose of, 60 offensive nuclear doctrine, 106– 07, 134 possibility of flexibility, 67–68 post-Pokhran diplomacy, 133– 34 term ‘massive’ 41 unacceptable damage, 62 India’s ‘open’ nuclear option, 11 India’s Pakistan strategy, 208–09 India’s regional strategic predicament, 7–8 India’s Special Forces (SF), 104 India’s strategic doctrine, 74 defensive nature, 38–39 proactive and offensive nature, 40–41, 52–53 1970s, 85–88 1980s, 88–94 1990s, 94–98 2000s, 98–104 Indira doctrine, 36, 128, 130 Indo-Pak conflict, 39–40, 64, 71 impact of nuclearisation, 47, 94 Indo-Pak war, 1971, 36, 85 ‘stability/instability paradox’ in, 46 Indo–Pak Joint Commission, 91 Indo–Pak security relationship, 88 inducing inaction, 112 infiltration, 95 Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs), 174 inter-Service ‘tension,’ 183–84 Johnston, Alaistair Iain, 120 jointness, 57, 137, 139, 153, 166, 181–84, 187 joint warfare doctrine, 166 Just War doctrine, 29 Kahn, Herman, 192 Kak, Kapil, 142, 184 Kalu Chak incident, 13, 145

Kampani, Gaurav, 99 Kanwal, Gurmeet, 58–59, 62, 107, 183 Kapoor, General Deepak, 178 Kapur, S. Paul, 12, 32, 147–48, 186 Kargil conflict, 4, 12, 52, 63, 99, 134, 136, 145, 189 Kargil Review Committee, 40 Karnad, Bharat, 11, 14, 50, 59, 105, 154 Kashmir, 39–40, 44, 46, 48, 74, 87, 89–90, 94–95, 99–101, 103, 127, 129, 131, 199 internal conflict, 2 Line of Control (LOC), 30 Kaufman, William, 159 Kautilya’s Arthasastra, 125 Khan, A. Q., 94 Khyber Pass, 88 Kier, Elizabeth, 116–18, 136, 159 Kissinger, Henry, 30, 70, 79, 82 Klein, Yitzak, 122–23, 137 Korean War, 27–28 Krepon, Michael, 46 Ladwig III, Walter C., 13, 58 Lahore peace process, 12 Lal, Air Chief Marshal P. C., 139 land warfare doctrine, 172–74 Legro, Jeffrey, 159 Limited Nuclear War, 29, 69 Limited War concept, 1, 5–7, 11–12, 21, 37–38, 53–54, 64–65, 145, 152, 169, 190–94 Clausewitz’s work On War, 22–26 as containment strategy, 27–28 implications, 26–27 in India, 30–35, 49, 52–53, 192–94 Korean War and, 27–28 limited political aims and, 24 purpose, 27

Index tenets, 55 in terms of nuclear scenario, 27 theoretical evolution, 26–30 Limited War in the Nuclear Age, 71 Limited Wars in South Asia, 13 linear defensive system, 93 Line of Control (LoC), 19, 30, 48, 87, 101, 103, 138–39 Lodhi, Sardar, 64 MacArthur, Douglas, 24 ‘Maginot line’ doctrine, 18 Makers of Modern Strategy, 82 Malik, General V. P., 53, 146, 154, 182, 185 Malik, Priyanjali, 133 Man, the State and War, 115 manoeuvre warfare, 31 maritime doctrine, 19, 84, 165– 66 A Maritime Military Strategy for India 1989–2014, 176 maritime strategy, defined, 19 Marlborough, Lord, 27 massive retaliation, 28 mechanisation, 2, 42–45, 92–93, 96, 195–96, 198, 202, 204 Mehta, Ashok, 48–49, 127 Mehta, Shamsher, 91 Menon, Lieutenant General Prakash, 32, 34–35, 66, 106, 112 Menon, Raja, 154 military doctrine, 11, 80. see also Indian military doctrine implications for, 104–08 Kautilya’s strategic options, 78 Kier’s views, 117–18 military ethic, 7 military exercises Desert Strike, 14 Divya Astra, 14 Sanghe Shakti Ashwamedh, 14 Vajra Shakti, 14


military organisations, 158–60 organisational culture, 118–19 military power, 80–81 military’s doctrinal responsibility, 160–62 military strategy, 20, 82–84 military tribalism, 187–88 counter offensive, 93 Monroe doctrine, 128 Morgenthau, Hans, 79 Moskos, Charles, 37 mountain warfare, doctrine for, 19 mujahedeen war, 44, 89 Mumbai 26/11 attack, 73, 101, 103, 148 mustering of power, 80 mutual assured destruction (MAD), 22, 45, 207 Naik, Air Chief Marshal P. V., 182 National Democratic Alliance (NDA), 16, 41, 133 National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), 31, 61, 98 Navy War doctrine, 1, 176–78 Nayar, Kuldip, 94 ‘nodal point’ concept, 45 no-first-use (NFU) clause, 15 No War–No Peace cycle, 12 No War Pact, 90 Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare, 163 Nuclear Draft of 1999, 67 nuclear employment strategy, 19 nuclearisation, 47, 94, 97, 135, 138, 189 nuclear power status, 30 Nuclear Proliferation and the Transformation of Conflict, 47 ‘Nuclear Risk Reduction Centre’ (NRRC), 207 nuclear war, India-Pakistan context, 14


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, 70 Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security, 11 Oberoi, General Vijay, 139–41 offensive doctrines, 17–18, 81, 100, 147, 159 offensive strategic doctrine, 86 offensive structural realism, 81 Of Some Consequence — A Soldier Remembers, 154 Olappally, Deepa, 133 Operational Manoeuvre Group, 42 Operation Enduring Freedom, post9/11, 2 Operation Gibraltar, 39, 95 Operation Grand Slam, 39 Operation Parakram 2001–02, 2, 6, 13, 33, 40, 48, 55, 63, 124, 167, 173 Operations Desert Storm, 174–75 option-enhancing policy, 64 Op Topac, 95 organisational culture, 8, 118–19 ‘Aerospace Warrior’ ethos, 142– 43 at conventional-nuclear interface, 148–49 encapsulation of, 138 maritime ethos, 143–44 military, 137–39 sub-cultures, 139–42 in theory, 135–44 organisational process model, 155– 57, 162–66 organisation theory, 201–03 bureaucratic politics model, 155, 157–58, 178–87 at civil-military interface, 167– 68 implications for military doctrine, 172–78 Indian Air Force, 164–65

Indian army, 163–64 Indian Navy, 165–66 joint structures, 166 lower order levels, 153–60 organisational process model, 155–57, 162–66 at political level, 168–70 rational actor model, 155–56 at strategic level, 170–72 Osgood, Robert, 26, 191 Padmanabhan, General, 54 Pakistan as threat, 74–76 Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), 73 Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine, 64 Palit, Major General D. K., 91 parabellum strategic culture, 121, 129–30 Parliament attack of 2001, 2, 6, 12, 40, 48, 73, 128, 145, 195, 204 Patney, Vinod, 142 Petraeus, General David, 154 Plan 2000, 44, 47 Pokhran decision of 1974, 124 political culture, 121–22, 196– 201 Politics Among Nations, 79 Posen, Barry, 80, 100 Prakash, Admiral Arun, 139, 167 precision-guided munitions (PGM), 143 prescriptive strategic doctrine, 102 pre-World War II Maginot Line, 41 primacy, principle of, 28 proactive doctrine, 18, 37–38, 40, 53, 63, 65, 76, 108 proxy war, 36, 44, 48, 94, 96, 114 punishment, logic of, 103–04 punitive retaliation, doctrine of, 15, 64, 67, 69, 71 Puy, General William de, 154

Index The Quranic Concept of War, 90 Raghavan, Lt. Gen. V. R., 6, 147 Rajagopalan, Rajesh, 46, 134, 136, 151 Raja Mohan, C., 133 RAND Corporation, 124 Rao, General Krishna, 43–44 recessed deterrence, 68 reciprocal limitation, 71 ‘recon pull’ (reconnaissance pull), 72 Reorganisation of the Army, 42 Reorganised Objective Army Division (ROAD), 42 Reorganised Plains Infantry Division (RAPID), 42, 44 Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), 3, 142, 205 Rikhye, Ravi, 43, 86, 93 Rodrigues, General S., 142 Rosen, Stephen, 122 Roy, Kaushik, 49, 96 Roychowdhury, Shankar, 85, 105 Sagan, Scott, 15, 68, 134, 140, 159 Sandhu, P. J. S., 185–86 Sardeshpande, Satish, 87 Sawhney, Pravin, 138 Schelling, Thomas, 26 Schlieffen, Alfred, 154 Securing India: Strategic Thought and Practice, 15 security dilemma, 77, 80 Sethi, Manpreet, 62, 66, 105 Shankar, Vinay, 48–49 Shaping the Arsenal, 14 Sharma, General V. N., 139 Sharm es Sheikh meeting, 111 Shastri, Lal Bahadur, 39 Shedding Shibboleths, 15 Shrinagesh, General, 44 ‘Sialkot grab’ scenario, 14, 105


Siddiqua, Ayesha, 37 Simla Agreement of 1972, 86 Singh, Arun, 167, 172 Singh, General V. K., 72–73, 112, 142, 187 Singh, Jasjit, 17, 20, 31, 73, 100, 142, 154, 170 Singh, Jaswant, 15 Singh, General J. J., 59 Singh, Manvendra, 140 Singh, Swaran, 27, 53 Sinha, Brigadier S. K., 42 Smith, Chris, 145 Snyder, Glenn, 45 Snyder, Jack, 120 The Soldier and the State, 160 The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain and Germany between the World Wars, 80 Soviet Operational Manoeuvre Groups, 99 special doctrines, 18 ‘stability/instability paradox,’ 2, 45–46, 57 Starry, General Don, 154 status quoist power, 81 strategic community, 10, 53, 120, 123, 127, 142, 197 strategic culture, 8 change in, 130–32 India’s ‘operational set,’ 128– 30 India’s ‘symbolic set,’ 127–28 Johnston’s conceptualisation, 120–22 keepers of, 123 Kier’s views, 116–19 Klein’s views, 119 Legro’s views, 118–19 Nehruvian inflection in Indian strategic thinking, 8 parabellum, 121, 129–30, 148 political–military sub-culture, 119


India’s Doctrine Puzzle

‘power as an objective’ of foreign policy, 127 sub-cultures, 123, 126–30 Tanham thesis, 123–26 in theory, 116–23 Strategic Defence Review (SDR), 98 strategic doctrine, 79, 86, 89, 91, 98, 102, 167 balance of power theory, 81 compellence, 108–11 contention over, 108–13 Kissinger’s view, 83 strategy of restraint, 109–11 strategic doctrine—military doctrine link, 82–85 Strategic Forces Command (SFC), 106 strategy, defined, 16–17 by Indian Army, 19–20 maritime, 19 military, 20 strategy of restraint, 109–11 Strike Command, 113 ‘strike deep,’ conventional doctrine of, 100 structural factor of doctrine, 77–80, 194–96 sub-conventional operations, 6 subconventional proxy war, 14 Subrahmaniam, Arjun, 142 Subrahmanyam, K., 30, 59–60, 74, 85–86, 124, 154 Subramaniam, Arjun, 142, 174 Subterranean Nuclear Explosion Project (SNEP), 128 Summanwar, Major General D., 54

Sundarji, General, 31, 43–45, 49, 68, 88, 92, 105, 145, 154, 186 superpower rivalry, 44 Swahney, Pravin, 13 Tanham, George K., 15, 124 Tellis, Ashley, 59 terror attacks, 108 9/11 terrorist attacks, 101 Theory of International Politics, 78 Theory of Strategic Culture, 122 threat as driver, 114 Tipnis, A. Y., 182 Total War, 28, 31 Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), 42 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, 91 ‘twin peaks’ crisis of 2002–03, 48 United Progressive Alliance (UPA), 41, 113 Vajpayee, Prime Minister, 97 Verma, Admiral Nirmal, 177 Vision 2100: A Strategy for the Twenty-First Century, 31–32 Waltz, Kenneth, 3, 5, 78, 115 war tactical, operational and strategic levels, 9 Warden, John, 143 wars of annihilation, 22 The War Unfinished, 13 Zakaria, Fareed, 115