Military lessons yet to be learnt: Better Late than ever
There are no secrets to military success. This is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from past failures, no matter how small. To sin is human nature, to correct a mistake is glory, but to ignore it is a desire to die.
Cargill – In 1999, Indian territory was invaded and occupied by several hundred Pakistani soldiers disguised as Kashmiri fighters, necessitating the mobilization of almost a fifth of the Indian army. After weeks of bloody fighting and spending hundreds of lives and millions of dollars, the Indian military has abducted posts that were ours to begin with. While 527 Indian troops laid down their lives in the relocation of Pakistani invaders from Mushok to Chorbat La in the Batalik sector, the victory did not cost Islamabad much more than the loss of more or equivalent troops.
Military experts believe that despite efforts to prevent it, there could be war at any time. And a nation that ignores this fundamental reality becomes vulnerable to military surprises. We must be prepared for war or even low-intensity conflicts with our not-so-friendly neighbors. It is pertinent to understand that whenever there is a territorial dispute, a proxy war is very possible. And India today faces this situation from both Pakistan and China.
Status quo: We have not damaged Pakistan’s ability to wage war, nor have we gained any territorial advantages, nor reduced the adventurism of the Pakistani army, which continues to this day. After several months of international isolation, this has not changed much of Pakistan’s international policy, which is based on canaries and denials, as shown a decade later.
Nearly two decades later, when India is embroiled in a conflict with China over Doklam, although its relations with Pakistan remain fragile, concerns about India’s readiness to fight remain. In addition to strategically limiting the crossing, our forces were suppressed by a shortage of almost 50% of their arsenal, mainly artillery ammunition and laser-guided bombs for Mirages. If Israel and South Africa were not included, the war could drag on for several more weeks. In a limited war, such omissions are a recipe for defeat. There is an urgent need to improve our tactical capabilities for surveillance and intelligence, as well as to create an integrated battlefield management system.
Our forces are still waiting: –
The local software-defined radio (SDR) is yet to be introduced into the armed forces. This will allow ground troops carrying portable SDR versions of the Handheld Man to achieve integration with higher echelons to achieve the true capabilities of the C4I. Also, with SDR technology, the possibility of swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operating on the battlefield seems promising.
The much-needed local battlefield management system (BMS) was postponed by the Ministry of Defense (MO) in 2017. BMS integrated frontline troops from infantry battalions and armored corps to share effective and efficient combat information in real time to better tactical assessment and faster decision making. It will provide the ability to quickly close the sensor to a shooter by integrating all surveillance tools to facilitate deployment through an automated decision support and command and control system using technology to perform the mission in the Tactical Battle Area.
Extreme cold climate clothing (ECC), including boots, goggles, gloves, etc., is not yet in excess of the army. When the new military doctrines of our forces claim to prepare for a two-front war, which will require rapid mobilization of our troops, leading to non-acclimatization. Unclimatized troops, when rushing without proper equipment, especially during peak winters, would result in avoidable casualties.
The Indian Army depends solely on the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) ammunition and can therefore get away with substandard products. Rarely is ammunition production stopped due to a lack of material, process or quality, which indicates a lack of accountability in OFB. The mission of arms factories must be to compete with global leaders in the munitions industry, but that will not happen unless the government takes serious reform measures.
Accidents cause loss of precious lives and have serious consequences for the operation. Currently, almost 80% of the ammunition needs of the armed forces are supported by the OFB. Khadki Ammunition Factory, Ordnance Factory Ambajhari, Gun and Shell Factory Cossipore and others. They specialize in small, medium and large caliber ammunition and explosives. Although they continue to be the main supplier of ammunition, OFs do not have the capacity to meet the full requirements of the armed forces.
The most important lesson that India had to learn from the Cargill Empire was that the basic requirements of national security should not be compromised. Successive governments in Islamabad are working with varying degrees of intensity to destabilize India, destroy its unity and challenge its integrity, and this is unlikely to change. Similarly, in international politics, the policy of mutual friendship and cooperation with neighbors must be balanced with vigilance. The neighbor’s ability to harm security interests should never be underestimated, but ignored.
Two decades later, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi changed the paradigm with the Balokot air strike, as future Indian battles could now be fought in enemy territory. The company and the strong government of India have stated unequivocally that “If you want a battle … we will bring the battle to your door and beat you.” In 2017, India and China agreed to amicably resolve the conflict in Doklam, which lasted more than two months. No blood was shed and no shots were fired. Once again, Prime Minister Modi and his team were very careful not to upset China’s internal and geopolitical sensitivities.
This time, however, India decided to look at the dragon in the Galvan Valley and carried out a massive mobilization and reinforcement of troops, artillery and armored vehicles, in addition to gaining full air superiority and dominance from the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the region. The outbreak of the Cowid19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, has killed millions of innocent people around the world, its border problems with many neighboring countries, illegal claims in the South China Sea, the problems in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and so on. turned the world against China and its hegemonic global aspirations.
India must remain vigilant against such sinister operations undertaken in the future by Pakistan or China.
Modernization through indigenization
We need to have better technological weapons and equipment. ‘Make in India“Or being independent is one of the most important lessons a person has learned from the whole episode. It is necessary to encourage the participation of Pvt Industry and to ensure a level playing field for the private sector in the production of defense equipment. So, did we actually learn? If self-reliance or Atmanirbharta in the defense sector remains only on paper, then again it will have to send procurement teams to different countries to buy weapons and ammunition in emergencies and end up with dirt like last time.
The government has recently sanctioned some funds and delegated financial powers to the three services to acquire the necessary funds for combat readiness. However, if the remaining shortcomings in weapons, ammunition and equipment are not quickly remedied by indigenization / India, thoughts of a critical gap in defense readiness will continue to haunt India’s defense planners.
The ultimate test of a country’s resilience is its ability to turn the crisis into an opportunity for self-analysis and renewal. Thus, our victory at Cargill will not be complete if we do not learn some important lessons from it in the future. War is a very expensive way to learn lessons, and therefore the loss of learning opportunities from past operations is a criminal waiver of duty. The lessons are relevant to the conflicts or wars we are likely to fight in the future. Future wars will be short and high intensity.
(The author is a veteran of the Indian Navy. The opinions expressed are personal.)