Cold Start 2013

Last Updated: 02 May 2018
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The ambiguous status of its military doctrine may be no bad thing for India, if the end result is what Thomas Schelling described as ‘the threat that leaves something to chance’,76 but, as Delhi has discovered, issuing even embryonic threats can be counterproductive. Cohen and Dasgupta observe that ‘Cold Start has been a boon for the Pakistan establishment’, in that ‘its diplomats and generals can contend on the international stage that India is in fact an aggressive country’. 77 And far from leaving something to chance, the prevailing arrangements are widely accepted as aspirational at best.

Third, inter-service rivalry has crippled a number of modernisation efforts in the past, and doctrine appears to be no exception. India’s wars have historically been disjointed affairs. In the humiliating defeat by China in 1962, airpower was glaringly absent. 78 Three years later, the Indian Air Force (IAF) preferred strategic bombing to close air support. 79 Chari et al. , Four Crises and a Peace Process, 175. Ibid. , 177. 74 Khan et al. , ‘Pakistan’s motivations and calculations for the Kargil con? ict’. 75 Mukherjee, ‘The Absent Dialogue’. 76 Thomas C.

Schelling, The Strategy of Con? ict (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP 1960), 187. 77 Cohen and Dasgupta, Arming without Aiming, 66. 78 R. Sukumaran, ‘The 1962 India-China War and Kargil 1999: Restrictions on the Use of Air Power’, Strategic Analysis 27/3 (2003), 341. 79 The limited amount of close air support furnished by the IAF was disastrous. It was characterised by ‘dismal conduct’, including the in? iction of casualties on Indian 73 72 Downloaded by [Harvard College] at 13:28 22 July 2013 526 Shashank Joshi Downloaded by [Harvard College] at 13:28 22 July 2013

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And although it played important roles in subsequent con? icts, it resists being co-opted for the Army’s purposes. The Indian Navy (IN) has ssimilarly carved out an independent role for itself in recent years, following minimal involvement in India’s wars. 80 Its doctrine ‘presents war? ghting as one of four equally important roles, with the other three – diplomatic, constabulary, and soft power functions – being broader in geographic scope and less dependent on combat power’. 81 The IAF and IN have abiding fears of being marginalised and subordinated by an overweening Army.

This has ensured that Indian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) or Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) positions have never materialised, despite the coordination bene? ts of such an of? ce, whose existence was mooted as early as 1949 and the case for which has been made recurrently since. 82 India is not unique in this regard. Industrialised democracies often face inter-service wrangling. 83 In Britain, anticipated austerity has prompted each service chief to vigorously defend the relevance of his force structure, with an emphasis on costly platforms. 4 Such debates over force structure, such as the analogous questions over the utility of the F-22 in an age of irregular warfare, everywhere affect posture. 85 However, the Indian context is characterised by particularly rigid service identities and a de? ciency of overarching political orchestration. Cold Start threatens the organizational essence of the IAF. 86 This is unsurprising: as a doctrine for conventional limited war, it characterises airpower as ancillary to the movement of ground forces. Insofar as Cold Start is a strategic package rather than one operational manoeuvre personnel.

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