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India's Military Threat Management Politically Flawed

August 20, 2010

Dr Subhash Kapila
Eurasia Review
August 17, 2010

India today exists in a seriously embattled
security environment, far more than ever in the
last sixty three years, with external military
threats having acquired menacing and dangerously
devious contours, by virtue of having intruded
into India’s internal security domains. India’s
Armed Forces have determinedly and innovatively
strategized to meet the expanded military threats
to India with the resources given to them and the
political constraints imposed on them by the
Government of the day in the last sixty three
years. Regrettably, India’s military threats
management stands politically flawed by the
strategic naivety, lack of strategic vision and
vulnerability to external pressures of its
political leaders and its policy establishment.
India’s political leadership has yet to display
its ‘will to use power and exercise power’ in the
service of India’s security interests.

The Indian Republic is a parliamentary democracy
and the Prime Minister exercises control and
direction of India’s Armed Forces and India’s
strategic responses to the hovering military
threats. If that be so then the Indian Prime
Minister is charged with effective political
management of the multiple military threats that
India faces today.  The buck stops with the Prime
Minister and he is accountable for India’s security.

India’s two pronounced and major military threats
are Pakistan and China, singly and in joint
political, military and strategic collusion.
India’s’ political leadership and the policy
establishment needs to factor this harsh reality
into their political, diplomatic and strategic
policy formulations. India’s political leadership
cannot resort to political and strategic
ambiguities on this count and de-emphasize or
devalue threats as that not only confuses and
confounds those battling these threats on a daily
basis but also tends to dull the sensitivities of
the Republic’s citizens to the dangers lurking around them.

This subject can be a complete thesis by itself
but then that is not the aim of this Paper. The
aim of this Paper is to shed light on the flawed
political management of the military threats to
India by India’s political leadership in the
present decade of the 21st Century when
considerable lessons should have been learnt as a
result of the external and internal conflicts that India has faced.

This Paper is intended for easy comprehension by
India’s average readers so that they get
sensitized to the looming threats that threaten
the Indian Republic and is not crafted to prove
one’s strategic mastery of issues.

Briefly therefore, this Paper would like to dwell on the following issues:

* The Pakistan Military Threat Must Not be Politically De-Emphasized

* The China Military Threat Management Needs Accelerated Approach

* Indian Armed Forces War Preparedness: A
Vulnerability Perceived by its Military Adversaries.

* India’s Foreign Policy Formulations: Deficit of
Strategic Component and Loss of Strategic Autonomy

The Pakistan Military Threat Must Not be Politically De-Emphasized

Pakistan has in the last sixty three years
displayed a propensity to wage wars against India
in 1947-48, in 1965, in 1971 and in 1999without
any provocation from India. Strewn in the
intervening period and alongside these wars has
been the unleashing of proxy wars,
state-sponsored terrorism and suicide bombings in heartland India.

Strategically, Pakistan Army which represents the
Pakistan nation-state has exploited Islam as a
religious force for holding Pakistan together, as
a motivation for conflict for its Armed Forces
and Islamic Jihad as a policy instrument of state
by embracing and financing Islamic Fundamentalist
terrorist organizations against India.

India’s political management of the Pakistan
military threat has to be viewed at multiple
political and military levels. The Indian
political leadership is charged with the
“intentions reading” of the Pakistani
nation-state and the Indian Armed Forces with the
assessment of the Pakistani threat in terms of
capabilities and maintaining themselves in a high state of readiness.

The Indian political leadership and the policy
establishment approaches to Pakistan are
seriously flawed and stand in a state of “severe
disconnect” with Pakistan’s demonstrated military
intentions towards India and also with the mood
of the vast majority of India’s citizens.

Pakistan’s "trust deficit with India is
irreconcilable" and which stands examined in
detail in my last Paper. Pakistan’s trust deficit
with India arises from Pakistan Army being an
implacable foe of India, recently re-asserted by
Pakistan Army Chief, General Kayani.

Hence there is no scope for any reconciliatory
approaches for peace with Pakistan as long as
peace with India emerges on the Pakistan Army
agenda. While war is not advocated, India’s
political leadership would be well advised to
ignore Pakistan until such time the Pakistani
masses arise and overthrow the yoke of the Pakistan Army.

In terms of the Indian Armed Forces meeting the
Pakistani military threat in all its
manifestations, it is imperative for the
political leadership to ensure that the Pakistan
Army is not able to reduce the Indian military
superiority differential by in-flow of United
States advance military equipment and military hardware from China.

In passing and which does have bearing on India’s
political leadership management of the Pakistani
military threat is the imperative of political
stability and security of Indian States bordering
Pakistan. Jammu& Kashmir is in violent turbulence
and Punjab is likely to witness fresh turbulence
being generated from Pakistan. Rajasthan maybe
deceptively quiet but its long desert borders are
porous and open for exploitation by Pakistan.
Gujarat is unnecessarily being provoked on
political grounds and being made vulnerable.

Politically, India cannot b e seen where the
Defence Minister is being publicly questioned on
Pakistan related issues by the Home Minister. Why
should the Prime Minister and the Home Minister
question the Armed Forces Special Powers Act when
the ground situation in Kashmir Valley is further
diabolically stirred up in yet another shift in
strategy by the Pakistan Amy to offset the gains
made by the Indian Army and frittered away by politician?

The China Military Threat Management Needs Accelerated Approach

The China military threat continues to be real
and continues to persist though for a year or two
it seemed that China may have shifted from her
adversarial mode against India. That optimism was
short-lived. In the last two three years China
escalated tensions along India’s borders with
Tibet in terms of border inclusions and
transgressions. Uncannily this was happening in a
strange coincidence with Pakistan Army breaking
the four year old ceasefire in Kashmir with
General Kayani taking over as Pak Army Chief.

China continues with supply of military hardware
to Pakistan over and above what Pakistan gets
from USA. The end game of China being to offset
India’s military superiority against Pakistan.
Media reports also indicate that China continues
to assist Pakistan in the nuclear weapons and
missiles field. China’s present focus is to build
up the military capabilities of the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy.

China continues with it dilatory stance on the
border settlement issue as it provides China with
a pressure point against India. China has vastly
upgraded its military infrastructure in Tibet and
in close proximity to India’s borders to improve its war-waging capabilities.

Reverting to the political management of the
China military threat by India’s’ political
leaders, once again it needs to be viewed in the
context of China’s “intentions reading” and the
impact of China’s military buildup on India’s borders with Tibet.

India went seriously wrong on China’s "intentions
reading" under Nehru. It cannot afford to go
wrong a second time. India figures high in
China’s threat perceptions when India both in
terms of intentions and capabilities has not set
any record as such. Chinese strategic analysts
have gone to the extent of asserting in their
writings that India needs to be taught a lesson
again like 1962 and Chinese strategies need to
focus on the fragmentation of India.

India’s political leaders have followed flawed
approaches once again in not drawing the
‘redlines’ for China and whose transgression
would be read as unfriendly to India and reflective of China’s real intentions.

In terms of the Indian Government’s response to
Chinese up- gradation of military infrastructure
in Tibet and on the Indian border with Tibet,
some plans have been put underway but they are
mired in inter-ministerial bureaucratic wrangles.
It is reported that the new strategic roads
sanctioned in the last few years are behind
schedule as clearances by the Ministry of
Environment are holding up progress. Is national
security less important than environmental protection?

Apex level political leadership has to provide
impetus in India’s upgradation of its military
capabilities if the Indian Armed Forces are
expected to provide a credible defensive deterrent against China.

Indian Armed Forces War Preparedness: A
Vulnerability Perceived by its Military Adversaries

Even after six years of being in continuous power
the present Indian Government, like its previous
political counterpart has been oblivious to some
major glaring deficiencies in the war
preparedness of the Indian Armed Forces. These
are the deficiency of 126 multi-role combat
fighter planes for the Indian Air Force and
air-defence radars. The Indian Air Force
transport fleet of both transport aircraft and
utility helicopters is woefully outdated.

The Indian Army’s requirement of thousands of its
artillery guns has been held up for nearly a
decade because of bureaucratic red-tapism in the
contractual system. Surveillance radars for the
thousands of kilometers of the Indo-Tibet border are scarce.

These are some of the major deficiencies that
stand pointed out in the media and even in the
Comptroller and Auditor General’s report. No
access is available to details of major
deficiencies in spare parts inventories of weapon
systems, communication equipment, and more
significantly in the strategic reserves of logistics and fuel supplies.

For India’s political leadership war-
preparedness of the Indian Armed Forces may just
be reduced to a matter of statistics but for
India’s military adversaries it becomes a vital
factor in their military strategies and military planning against India.

No wonder within a couple of days of Mumbai 28/11
one had seen reports in the Pakistan media that
India was incapable of retaliatory military
strikes against Pakistan because of shortages in
its war preparedness. Nothing could be a more
damning indictment on the political management of India’s military threats.

India’s Foreign Policy Formulations: Deficit of
Strategic Component and Loss of Strategic Autonomy

India logically should not have come to such a
pass where it stands completely embattled by its
military adversaries, had India’s political
management of India’s military threats had not
been flawed. The two major flaws have been the
lack of strategic component in its foreign policy
formulations and India’s loss of strategic autonomy.

Both these factors are interlinked as with loss
of strategic autonomy, India’s foreign policy
also lost sight of the strategic component that
should have been factored in every foreign policy formulation.

This can best be illustrated by India’ strategic
shift at the turn of the millennium in its
foreign policy orientation from moving away from
Russia to evolve the US-India Strategic
Partnership. India painfully has started
realizing now that in terms of countervailing
power against China and Pakistan that it expected
from USA,  has not been forthcoming.

In going overboard on the US-India Strategic
Partnership, especially under the present Indian
Government, India’s policy approaches towards its
most immediate military threat, namely Pakistan
became increasingly being dictated by the
Washington strategic template on South Asia
focused strongly on Pakistan.  India’s own
Pakistan policy formulations stood superseded by American pressures.

Similarly on China, India has now come to realize
that United States policy formulations on China
did not factor-in India’s strategic imperatives beyond rhetoric.

As things stand today in the international arena,
India is being perceived as a satellite of the
United States without any corresponding gains for
India’s national security. India itself is to
blame for its distorted foreign policy
formulations where in the last couple of years it
stands reduced to the status of a “strategic
co-equal” of Pakistan. Forget any recognition of
its being a potential counterweight to China in Asian security.

Concluding Observations

If Indian military history since 1947 is any
guide in terms of India’s military threats
political management, it inexorably points that
on every occasion when India stood embattled by
its military adversaries, India’s political
management of its military threats was seriously
flawed in the preceding period. So also was the
political neglect of the war preparedness of Indian Armed Forces.

India can longer expect strategically that it can
successfully overcome armed inflicts by last
minute crisis-management and reliance on the
traditional valor of the Indian Armed Forces.

In a security environment when China as India’s
long range military threat has upgraded it
war-waging capabilities against India and
Pakistan Army as India’s implacable foe has in an
adept manner positioned itself strategically
where both the United States and China feel
obliged to bestow military hardware on Pakistan
for ‘Balance of Power’ purposes, India’s
political leadership has to awaken from its
slumber and effectively provide the political
management of India’s military threats and so
also India’s war preparedness in a manner that
India’s Armed Forces are not militarily
handicapped or disadvantaged in any future
conflict imposed by India’s military adversaries.

(The author is an International Relations and
Strategic Affairs analyst.  He is the Consultant,
Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis
Group.  Email: drsubhashkapila.007@gmail.com)
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