Land Bat­tle

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 War­fare

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.

Un­re­stricted 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

in progress

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