The armed forces have formulated a new “joint doctrine” to ensure the Army, Navy and IAF plan and work together to effectively tackle the entire spectrum of conflict, ranging from full blown conventional wars to irregular and hybrid warfare, in the years ahead.
Defence ministry sources say the around 80-page doctrine, which will formally be released next week, underlines the need for “application of military power” in an integrated manner to enhance operational efficiency as well as optimise utilisation of resources for a greater military punch from limited budgetary funds.
Not only does the doctrine chart out a broad framework of principles for joint planning and the need to build an integrated land-air-sea-cyberspace war-fighting machinery, but also “signals” the intent of the Indian armed forces to the world at large, say the sources.
But the doctrine comes at a time when India is still dragging its feet to create unified military structures from a desperately-needed tri-Service chief or chief of defence staff (CDS), which has been hanging fire since the 1999 Kargil conflict, to integrated theatre commands in the long-term.
All this, incidentally, was discussed at the combined commanders’ conference held at Dehradun in January, attended by PM Narendra Modi, as was first reported by TOI.
Similarly, the long-awaited tri-Service organisations to handle the critical areas of space, cyberspace and special operations are still stuck due to politico-bureaucratic apathy.
This despite the fact that the original proposal for full-fledged commands was whittled down to creation of just a Cyber Defence Agency, Defence Space Agency and Special Operations Directorate.
In sharp contrast, China has an expansive military space programme and specialised cyber-warfare units, while last year it also re-organised its 2.3-million People’s Liberation Army into five theatre commands for better command-and-control and greater offensive capabilities.
The “Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces – 2017” is nevertheless a positive step to address the lack of military synergy in the country, with the Army, Navy and IAF often pulling in different directions on doctrinal, training, planning, procurement and operational matters.
The integrated defence staff has prepared the doctrine, pitched at the “military strategic level”, after extensive consultations with the three Service headquarters.
Apart from the national security perspective and the use of military as an instrument of national power, the doctrine also dwells upon “external and internal threats”, “traditional and non-traditional threats”, “state and non-state actors”, said the sources. “The first joint doctrine was released in 2006.
Since then, a lot has changed in terms of geopolitics, threat perceptions, new dimensions in conflict, technology, policies and the like. This second doctrine looks at all that,” said a source.
A military doctrine is basically a set of ideas and beliefs, which sets a country’s approach to national security challenges and how it plans to fight a war. The new joint doctrine will achieve its purpose if India rapidly moves towards integrated military structures and undertakes long-term strategic planning to systematically build military capabilities in tune with its geopolitical aspirations.
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