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.