OPINION

Armed Forces war gaming

Contributing Editor Air Marshal (Retd) AYAZ AHMED KHAN looks at the military responses in the South Asian Sub-continent.

There is a distinct method and process whereby military  strategy is developed and perfected to meet the perceived threat. War games  is a part of that. Threat analysis based on accurate intelligence is the key  to the formulation of war plans and conduct of  war games. With Pakistan  deeply  engaged in curbing internal terrorism and fully allied with the US-led Coalition in the war against international terrorism, Indian deployment  of all its armed forces on the border and the LoC created a grave threat for  Pakistan’s security. The December 13, 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian  Parliament was the pretext for the forward offensive deployment of forces.  But the real Indian motive was to cash on the opportunity provided by the  9/11 terrorism to crush the freedom struggle in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,  and intimidate and tarnish Pakistan as sponsor of infiltration and terrorism  in Kashmir and in India. For New Delhi it was the opportunity of the century  to corner and humiliate Pakistan by vile propaganda, and shackle the people  on Kashmir in eternal bondage. To use the horrific terrorist bombing of the  twin towers of the World Trade Centre  which had shocked America and the  world, as an opportunity to seize Azad Kashmir, and carry out surgical  strikes across the international boundary, fully reflects the demonic nature  of BJP rulers.

Prime Minister Vajpayee and his government launched a two pronged strategy  for achieving their nefarious motives. Coercive diplomacy through intensive  propaganda to bring Pakistan under global pressure and force it to toe the  Indian line on Kashmir. At the same time impose intense military pressure on  Islamabad, with threats and ultimatums  of war to do what it was told to do. The situation was favourable for India. The US-led Coalition, especially the US and UK fully engaged in Afghanistan and in the war against terrorism  were gullible to Indian lies about “infiltration” across the LoC. They  believed Indian propaganda about infiltration and “camps”, and both  Washington and London  kept parroting that they “want an end to infiltration —they want to see results”. Under intense internal and external pressure President Musharraf took tough decisions to stop internal terrorism and  block “infiltration”. He is succeeding, but it is difficult to satisfy new  Delhi. 

The assembly of Indian armed forces and the daily threats of invasion  and  “surgical strikes” forced Pakistan to respond to the Indian military  challenge and to New Delhi’s “coercive diplomacy”, with all available means.  In spite of serious limitations of numerical imbalance and military  deployment in the west in support of the Coalition, Pakistan’s military  leadership fully backed by the nation stood like a rock against Indian  threat and blackmail. The war has been averted for the time being by General  Musharraf’s resolute leadership. Pakistan’s military capabilities and planned  response and the international pressure on New Delhi has forced it to  desist from military  mischief and war. But the capabilities for war remain  intact, and the threatening situation continues to be fuelled and stoked by  bloody terrorist acts like the May 14 massacre of 34 civilians and  militarymen near Samba, and the horrific slaughter of 30 poor Hindus in a  slum colony near Jammu. The unchecked internal terrorism within Pakistan is  a menace, and the continuing terrorist killings of innocent civilians both  by the Indian Army and vengeful terrorists in Occupied Kashmir has  aggravated the situation. It should have evoked the realization in New Delhi  to stop state terrrorism in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and cooperate with  Pakistan to find a solution to the cycle of terrorist violence in both the  countries. That both the countries need to work together for ending the  bloody cycle of terrorism in South Asia, should have been realized by now.  But India continues to follow the dangerous path of military confrontation  and non-cooperation, thereby endangering peace in the region. 

War games are carried to test out war plans and strategic and  tactical concepts.  Indian deployment of almost entire Army, Navy and Air  Force along the Pakistan border was as per Indian war plans, has fully  revealed the capabilities and vulnerabilities of the Indian armed forces.  The  war game “Sabaat Kadam” conducted at the National Defence College  (NDC), in operation rooms  and in the field will validate the operational  plans. War games are being carried to study closely Indian military  deployment, disposition, capabilities and intentions in the light of  intelligence reports, and  test out war plans and strategic and tactical  concepts, and evolve new concepts and methodology to face Indian military  and diplomatic threat. During the last eight months of deployment of Indian  forces, war games were carried out by GHQ India at different levels. Indian  strike Corps deployed in the Rajasthan theatre, especially the key elements  ie infantry divisions, rapid divisions and armoured brigades were exercised  more than twice after theoretical war games. Indian Army formations and IAF  strike and air superiority squadrons in Indian Punjab ie Ravi-Beas and Beas-  Sutlej corridors were also exercised in close coordination with the Indian  Army.  Indian armoured division and infantry divisions along with artillery  divisions and missile regiments were also exercised for attacks into the Ravi —Chenab corridor from Occupied Jammu province of Kashmir state. By war  gaming and repeated exercises the command and control and operational  capability of the Indian armed forces deployed in the field have been  updated. The receding morale and the fatigue factor was overcome to some  degree. Leave has been sanctioned for 25% of the troops to enable them to  recover from heat and bunker exhaustion. Inaction is the worst element for  the morale  of  the troops deployed on red alert. Troops must be exercised  and continuously trained for recharging their energies and resolve. India  has done it and Pakistan is doing it now. 

The Pakistani armed forces also needed to be put through their paces in  the light of the intelligence information about Indian military capabilities  and vulnerabilities. The ten day war games of  Pakistan’s armed forces  started on Tuesday July 16, 2002. Pakistan’s defence plans are tailored to  hold and defeat Indian offensives and to go on the offensive as soon as  possible in selected corridors. The offensive-defence strategy visualizes  that  despite numerical imbalance, Pakistani armed forces are capable of  “holding action”, followed by offensive action. All the three services have  their own operational strategies, fully integrated into effective joint  military strategy. The PAF has plans to defeat Indian air offensive, destroy  the Indian Air Force in the air and on the ground, and help Pakistan Army  and Pakistan Navy to win land and sea battles. But such plans must be  validated by war games, underway at the moment.  General Pervez Musharraf  has repeatedly assured that the Army is fully capable of defending the  country, and that the war would be fought on the Indian soil. Air Chief  Marshal Mushaaf Ali Mir, the Chief of the Air Staff has also reiterated that  Pakistan Air Force is capable of defending Pakistan’s air space and turning  the tables on the Indian Air Force. Admiral Mirza the Chief of Naval Staff  has boldly stated that Pakistan Navy will hold its own against the Indian  Navy. President Musharraf has urged the need for intensive peace time  training to maintain the qualitative edge over the adversary. He has  promised to strike a telling blow if the enemy challenged the territorial  integrity of  the country. Hard lessons need to be derived from “Sabaat  Kaadam” war game, to find if this is possible.    

The Indian Army is twice as large. It is well equipped, trained and  led. The imbalance in Indian Army’s offensive capability and ours needs to  be corrected on priority basis. Own teeth to tail ratio must be enhanced.  Seventy thousand troops have been deployed on the western border in aid of  the Coalition. This has seriously depleted troop strength facing the real  enemy. US be asked to fund, equip and help in the training of troops, that  are at the disposal of the US led Coalition.

India has placed its para-military forces under command of Indian Army’s  Northern Command at Udhampur. The implications of this be studied and  selected units of own para-military forces i.e Pakistan Rangers be put under  command of Pakistan Army to enhance country’s war potential.      The Indian Air Force -IAF is twice as large as the PAF. Though its  Mig-21 (220 aircraft) and Mig-27 (137 aircraft) are labelled as “widow  makers”, its state of the art aircraft and weapons inventory is four times  as large as that of the PAF. Urgent action be taken to correct this air  power imbalance on priority basis. “Sabaat Kadam” war game hopefully will  reveal the air power imbalance and ways to overcome it. Deficiencies of the  Pakistan Navy be identified and corrective action taken.

General Pervez Musharraf, the President and Commander-in Chief has  rightly  stressed intensive and sustained training. How this can be done in  eye ball to eye ball situation merits attention. The prolonged deployment  and in view of continued Indian hostility, permanent bunkers and command and  control   centres  to be built along the LoC and the working boundary. Indian  Army has done so on its side of the LoC. It is hoped that long-term lessons  are derived from “Sabaat Kadam”, and implemented to augment own defensive  stamina.

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