Thursday, June 01, 2006

Cold Start. Blank Check. Hot Finish

I speculated that the new Indian doctrine of Cold Start was really more about settling short, limited conflicts in their favor:

Cold Start is not, I think, a doctrine for conquering Pakistan. It is a doctrine designed to cope with the constraints against achieving victory that we faced during the long Cold War. It is designed to allow India to quickly gain a military advantage in a limited conflict before pressure to end the war out of fear of nuclear escalation kicks in.

I should have written that such a doctrine should be for that purpose. It appears to be much worse than even Strategypage described it.

The doctrine may be about destroying Pakistani military capabilities in general, in a short war. Cold Start's purpose is, according to one think tank, to:

Focus on the destruction of the Pakistani Army and its military machine without much collateral damage to Pakistani civilians.

In addition to the military organization and doctrine aspects of the new doctrine, the linked think tank assumes the following:

On another plane that is at the politico-strategic or politico-military level this new war doctrine seems to be aiming at the following:

* Cutting out long drawn out military mobilization running into weeks.

* The above results in loss of surprise at the strategic and military level.

* The above also gives time to Pakistan’s external patrons like USA and China to start exerting coercive pressures and mobilizing world opinion against India as witnessed in Operation Prakaram.

* Long mobilization time also gives the political leadership in India time to waver under pressure, and in the process deny Indian Army its due military victories.

* The new war doctrine would compel the political leadership to give political approval ‘ab-initio’ and thereby free the Armed Forces to generate their full combat potential from the outset.

And there is this detail:

The entire success of ‘Cold Start” war doctrine would overwhelmingly rest on the application of long range devastating fire power and this would perforce have to include conventional SRBMs and cruise missiles.

This is seriously effed up thinking, if true. Might not the Pakistanis worry about this expansive objective? Of course:

India Cold Start Doctrine stems from Indian designs to capture Pakistan’s strategic assets before even the country reacts to any war alarms. ...

It is believed that with this new Doctrine emerging, Pakistan Army has to revamp its operational strategy.

Ya think?

Look, I'm all in favor of a stronger Indian-American alliance, so I'm not anti-Indian or anything.

But India's expansive aims for Cold Start are a recipe for nuclear war with Pakistan.

The Soviet Union aimed for a similar capability in the Cold War and as a result we were prepared to use nuclear weapons first to halt a Soviet armored phalanx trying to cut its way to the Rhine River.

Pakistan, which is not across an ocean from the battlefield, will see a broad offensive on land accompanied by nuclear-capable missiles flying their way. The Pakistanis will know that the superior Indian army could crush them and expose Pakistan's strategic terrain to capture. And how will the Indian government exercise control to prevent escalation if ‘ab-initio’ approval is in effect for the war, giving the military total control of the fight until the military gets "its due military victories?"

So what do you think Pakistan will do when the Indian army tries to cash this blank check they expect the Indian government to issue them? Die or use nukes?

And Pakistan won't have that intermediate step of using nukes on Indian armored forces in a tactical use of nukes. With few nuclear weapons, Pakistan will likely feel compelled to use them against Indian strategic targets immediately. In addition, since targetting the attacking Indian army units will likely involve nuking Pakistani territory, how eager will Pakistan be to in effect self-nuke? And as I noted, with nuclear-capable missiles flying at them, will the Pakistanis assume they have conventional warheads as the Indian doctrine seems to state? Use them or lose them will quickly be uppermost in Pakistan's thinking as they ponder the survivability of their nukes and their nation.

Nuclear weapons mean that Indian total victory is out of the question in any war with Pakistan. Don't the Indians realize this?

If Cold Start really is a total war concept rather than a means to achieve limited victories in limited conflicts, I think that we can pretty much count on a nuclear war on the subcontinent.

You can kiss our new counter-weight to China goodbye, if this happens. And a lot of civilians, too, lest you think I'm cold-hearted enough not to be horrified by that prospect alone.

This is seriously effed up strategic thinking by India. I hope our military-to-military contacts can disabuse the Indian government of this Cold Start notion before it becomes a real capability.