As far as “jointness” and synergy are concerned between the services, it is disappointing to note that in the 21st century, the Indian Army and indeed the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force are still planning for conflicts essentially service wise, the
LAND WARFARE HAS WITNESSED three watersheds in which the change has been qualitative. The first generation warfare reflected the tactics of the era of the smooth bore muskets and the linear battle of lines and columns. The second-generation warfare was a response to the rifled weapon, breechloaders, barbed wire, machine-gun and indirect fire. The tactics were based on fire and movement and they remained essentially linear.
The term “third generation warfare” was created by the US military in 1989 and refers to the tactics of warfare used consequent to the development of the blitzkrieg concept by the Germans. Essentially, this marked the end of the linear warfare on a tactical level, with units seeking to out-manoeuvre each other to gain advantage instead of a head on clash.
The third generation warfare was also a response to the increase in battlefield firepower. Horsed cavalry gave way to armour and mechanised infantry achieving greater speed. Tanks, mechanised infantry and selfpropelled artillery supported by close support aircraft imparted mobility to the battlefield and thus manoeuvre on the ground by mobile forces was used to defeat defensive design of the defender. As linear fighting came to an end, new ways of moving faster began to appear. Armoured and mechanised divisions replaced the infantry divisions where terrain permitted their use. The development of the helicopter added to the speed and momentum of an offensive force. The speed inherent in these methods necessitated a greater degree of independence for frontline units and formations. Greater trust needed to be placed in junior
officers commanding sub-units based on the belief that they could adequately achieve their objectives without micromanagement from higher commanders. Formations at the level of divisions were allowed greater decision flexibility to deal with changing situations on the ground, rather than having decisions made for them by commanders who were distant from the front. This led to the delegation of greater command authority to commanders in the front and the Germans excelled in this field. They termed it “directive style of command”.
This concept was developed by the Germans after the advent of aircraft and tanks. It brought a major shift at the operational level in the Second World War in which emphasis was placed on manoeuvre, speed and tempo to carry out wide outflanking movements avoiding enemy’s defences to strike at his rear areas in order to cause his psychological collapse. The Germans exploited their tactical excellence to cause unprecedented defeats in the first two years of war. Despite the German’s successes in the early years of the war, Hitler’s impractical strategic aspirations and underestimation of Soviet capabilities led to the ultimate defeat and destruction of Germany.
Manoeuvre Warfare and Doctrine of Airland Battle:
Americans picked up their ideas from the Germans and the Russians of simultaneous engagement of operational components of the enemy’s defensive system, to cause ‘operational shock’ by development of an operational momentum far exceeding the relative reaction capability of the opponent. Post Vietnam doctrinal reform in the US Army led to the adoption of “active defence” doctrine in the early 1970s. This was followed by a sharp revolution in doctrinal thinking, which led to the second stage of post-Vietnam doctrinal reform and the evolution of the doctrine of AirLand Battle. The tenets of depth, agility, initiative and synchronisation, became the heart of the AirLand Battle doctrine. The basic idea, applicable to both offence and defence, was to throw the enemy off balance with an offensive from an unexpected direction, to seize and retain the initiative and defeat the enemy. The AirLand Battle provided the conceptual basis for the US Army to adopt an initiative oriented readiness posture. The concept developed along with the principle of directing the main strike into the opponent’s principal operational weakness. The doctrinal reform was the symbol and basis of the 1970s and 1980s modernisation of the US Army.
Employing Force to Safeguard National Interests
After the Cold War, it is now seen that the classical logic, legitimacy and effectiveness of employing force to safeguard national interests is becoming more intricate and sophisticated due to a large number of pressures on both political and military leaders. Non-state actors do not seem to be deterred by the military sophistication of the western world. India despite having one of the largest Army in the world and a very strong and effective Air Force and Navy has not been able to deter insurgencies and terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and in the Northeast and has been at the receiving end of a proxy war advanced and encouraged by Pakistan since 1989. It is clear that classical deterrence is less reliable against asymmetric challenges such as insurgencies and terrorism, yet military doctrine and force structures have been slow in adjusting to these new security challenges. This environment has given rise to some revised as well as new concepts of land warfare briefly described in the following paragraphs.
Fourth Generation Warfare
William S. Lind and others of the US Army have deliberated and reflected and then written on the fourth generation warfare in which the target is the whole of the enemy’s society (ideology, culture, political structure, infrastructure and civil society). This generation of warfare is characterised by dispersion, increased importance of actions by small groups of combatants, decreasing dependence of centralised logistics, high tempo of operation and more emphasis on manoeuvre. Concentration of men, materiel or firepower may become a disadvantage, as it will be easy to target. Small, highly manoeuvrable agile forces will tend to dominate. The aim would be to cause the enemy to collapse internally rather than physically destroying him. There will be little distinction between war and peace. It will be nonlinear, possibly to the point of having no definable battlefields or fronts. Major military and civil facilities will be the targets. The success will depend heavily on joint operations. If we combine these general characteristics with new technology, we see one possible outline of the new generation of warfare. It therefore emerges that to defeat ideologically oriented but amorphous terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-eToiba (LeT) currently ensconced in Pakistan, will require the adoption of such concepts to defeat their designs.
Asymmetric threats are not new and have been known since ancient times. Forces which are weaker have always employed surprise, new weapon and technology together with innovative tactics to deal with stronger forces. Today the non-state actors are employing the same concepts in their terrorist activities against stronger opponents. The Al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and other targets in the US on September 11, 2001, were of this nature.
Wikipedia describes asymmetric war as a war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly. It goes on to state, “It is a conflict in which the resources of two belligerents differ in essence and in the struggle; interact and attempt to exploit each other’s characteristic weaknesses. Such struggles often involve strategies and tactics of unconventional warfare, the “weaker” combatants attempting to use strategy to offset deficiencies in quantity or quality.” The asymmetric means employed could also include nuclear biological and chemical (NBC) or radiological warfare; terrorist strikes against soft targets, information or cyber warfare.
Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui of the People’s Liberation Army of China in their highly publicised book, Unrestricted Warfare, champion the art of “asymmetrical warfare”. They advocate that the more traditional practice of urban terrorism (as witnessed in Chechnya, Somalia, Northern Ireland, Kashmir and in Islamic Jihad against the Western World) combined with current technology tools as a method of imposing a severe psychological shock on the adversary. The highly imaginative
Exercise Vijayee Bhava