This manoeuvre is carried out in own territory to blunt and limit the offensive of the attacker by directly attacking and confronting his forces from the front and flanks. This manoeuvre, unlike the counterstrike, does not strive to go behind the enemy lines to attack his firm base but conducts the same operation from own side of the border. This is likely to be costly in terms of own casualties as it attempts to hit the enemy where he is likely to be strong. However, at times, the defender may be forced to undertake such an operation. In recent times, Kargil operations by India is an appropriate example of counter-attacks in our own territory as the government had laid the restriction of not crossing the line of control (LoC) into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).
An offensive could also be employed to launch offensives into opponents territory before he launches his attacks. This means that India must have the “situational aware- ness” regarding the opponents movements at strategic, operational and tactical levels. India’s intelligence and surveillance means must be in place to be able to fight future conflicts. We cannot afford to be surprised in the future. However, with limited offensive forces and difficulties of logistic support across the border in the mountains, the most lucrative option would be to pre-empt the opponents launch off areas, which would perforce have to be close to the border. This would be equivalent to a cold start doctrine for the mountains. This implies proactive operations into the opponent’s territory.
Employment of the Mountain Strike Corps
A strike corps being an operational level formation (as opposed to the tactical level units and formations) derives its aims and missions from the political objectives of war. The political objectives are translated into military objectives at the level of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and these are then passed on through COSC directives to the three service chiefs and the concerned operational commands of the three services. A corps being the highest level of field formation in the Army, is expected through its operational conduct, to achieve the laid down military objectives which would in the ultimate analysis achieve the political objectives of war. At the national strategic levels, the political objectives of the three services will be the same but when translated into military strategic objectives, differences will naturally arise based on the capabilities of each service.
It is generally not appreciated that a strike corps with all its complements can hardly be employed from a single axis or a single launch pad (firm base) in the mountains due to the vast areas required for its concentration, moving forward and launching across the borders. Mountainous areas lack adequate number of roads and tracks and do not provide sufficient avenues for launching largescale offensives. Thus in the mountains, lower tactical groupings and formations like bri- gade groups and divisions may be employed through different sectors using firm bases provided by the holding corps. Firm bases/ launch pads are locations from where offensive operations can be launched and will depend upon the availability of suitable objectives across the border, generally opposite the firm bases. Objectives should be such which will provide a military advantage to pursue the offensive further and help in achieving the political aims of war. A sector which provides multiple objectives is preferred over other areas as it gives a military commander greater number of options and hence imparts greater flexibility to operational plans. If a number of offensives are planned to be launched simultaneously through different sectors, they may either converge on to the same objective or may aim at approaching different intermediate objectives from where the Corps offensive can be progressed deeper into the opponent’s territory.
(To be continued)