IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 29th Dec
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EDITORIAL HUNT #288 :“Dealing with India’s two-front challenge | UPSC ”
Lt. Gen. Deependra Singh Hooda (retd.)
Dealing with India’s two-front challenge | UPSC
Lt. Gen. Deependra Singh Hooda (retd.), A former northern army commander
Dealing with India’s two-front challenge
A politically-guided doctrine and comprehensive military capability are needed to deal with the China-Pakistan threat
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : IR
Even though Pakistan and China may only be pursuing a hybrid war, should the Indian military remain entirely defensive? Comment-(GS 2 )
- Intrusions Change Things
- China-Pakistan Military Links
- Dilemma’s for India
- Way Forward
- ENHANCING CAPABILITIES : India’s military was firmly of the view that a collusive China-Pakistan military threat was a real possibility, and we must develop capabilities to counter this challenge.
- ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES : The political class in general and the mainstay of the country’s strategic community felt that a two-front threat was being over-hyped by the military to press for additional resources and funds.
- CHINESE APPROACH : China has never intervened militarily in any India-Pakistan conflict and that the economic, diplomatic, and political ties between India and China rule out any armed conflict between the two countries.
INTRUSIONS CHANGE THINGS
- A CHANCE OF CONFLICT : In the Indian military’s thinking, while China was the more powerful foe, the chance of a conventional conflict breaking out was low.
- THE CHINESE INTRUSIONS : The violence that resulted from clashes and the deadlock in negotiations have now made the Chinese military threat more apparent and real.
- MILITARY ARRANGEMENTS : Even if the current India-China crisis on the border is resolved peacefully, China’s military challenge will occupy greater attention of Indian military planners in the years to come.
- SITUATION AT LOC : This comes at a time when the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan has been steadily deteriorating.
- CEASEFIRE VIOLATIONS : Between 2017 and 2019, there has been a four-fold increase in ceasefire violations.
CHINA-PAKISTAN MILITARY LINKS
- THE TWO FRONT CHALLENGE : The Sino-Pakistan relationship is nothing new, but it has far serious implications today than perhaps ever before.
- INDIAN OCEAN REGION (IOR) : China has always looked at Pakistan as a counter to India’s influence in South Asia.
- STRATEGIC CORNERS : Over the years, the ties between the two countries have strengthened and there is a great deal of alignment in their strategic thinking.
- MILITARY COOPERATION : Military cooperation is growing, with China accounting for 73% of the total arms imports of Pakistan between 2015-2019 .
- THE JOINT EXERCISE : The Shaheen IX Pakistan-China joint exercise between the Pakistan Air Force and People’s Liberation Army Air Force will improve combat capacity of both air forces substantially and also enhance interoperability between them with greater strength and harmony.
- ENSURING SUPPLY : In preparing for this, the Indian military needs to realistically analyse how this threat could manifest itself and the type of capabilities that should be built up to counter it.
- CRITICAL ZONE : In a two-front scenario, the larger challenge for India’s military would come if the hostilities break out along the northern border with China.
- PAKISTANS TACTICS : Pakistan would attempt to take advantage of India’s military preoccupation by limited military actions in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and attempt to raise the level of militancy in Kashmir.
- CHANCES OF LARGE SCALE CONFLICT : It is unlikely that Pakistan would initiate a large-scale conflict to capture significant chunks of territory as that would lead to a full-blown war between three nuclear armed states.
- CONSEQUENCES OF ANY EMERGENCY : In any such contingency, the damage to Pakistan’s economy and military far outweighs the advantages of capturing some pieces of ground.
DILEMMAS FOR INDIA
- A TWO FRONT WAR : Obviously, it is neither practical nor feasible to build a level of capability that enables independent war fighting on both fronts.
- QUANTUM OF RESOURCES : A major decision will be the quantum of resources to be allocated for the primary front.
- ENEMY ADVANTAGE : Adopting a more offensive strategy against foes could draw limited resources into a wider conflict.
- DEVELOPING A DOCTRINE : What is certain is that the threat cannot be ignored and therefore we need to develop both the doctrine and the capability to deal with this contingency.
- Developing a doctrine will require close interaction with the political leadership.
- LEADERSHIP AND EXECUTION : Any doctrine that is prepared without a political aim and guidance will not stand the test when it is actually to be executed.
- DEFENCE BUDGET : Capability building also requires a serious debate, particularly in view of the fact that the country’s economic situation will not permit any significant increase in the defence Budget for the foreseeable future.
- NEXT GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES : There is too much focus on major platforms such as aircraft, ships, and tanks, and not enough on future technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber, electronic warfare, etc.
- EQUILIBRIUM AND ASSESSMENT : The right balance will have to be struck based on a detailed assessment of China and Pakistan’s war-fighting strategies.
DIPLOMACY IS CRUCIAL
- TACTICS : Diplomacy has a crucial role to play in meeting the two-front challenge.
- REACHING OUT : New Delhi would do well to improve relations with its neighbours so as not to be caught in an unfriendly neighbourhood given how Beijing and Islamabad will attempt to contain and constrain India in the region.
- STRATEGIC ALLIANCES : The current engagement of the key powers in West Asia, including Iran, should be further strengthened in order to ensure energy security, increase maritime cooperation and enhance goodwill in the extended neighbourhood.
- EXPLORING OPPORTUNITIES : New Delhi must also ensure that its relationship with Moscow is not sacrificed in favour of India-United States relations given that Russia could play a key role in defusing the severity of a regional gang up against India.
OUTREACH TO KASHMIR
- WAKE UP CALL : Politically, the stark military reality of a two-front challenge, one that is likely to grow stronger over the years, must serve as a wake-up call for the political leadership in New Delhi.
- Easing pressure on the western front requires political will more than anything else.
- POLITICAL OUTREACH : From a long-view perspective, therefore, a well-choreographed political outreach to Kashmir aimed at pacifying the aggrieved citizens there would go a long way towards that end.
- TERROR INFILTRATION : This could also lead to a potential rapprochement with Pakistan provided, of course, Rawalpindi can be persuaded to put an end to terrorist infiltration into Kashmir.
- CONTAINMENT STRATEGY : New Delhi would, therefore, do well to do what it can politically to reduce the effect of a collusive Sino-Pakistan containment strategy aimed at India.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Dealing with India’s two-front challenge | UPSC