Indian military’s sabre rattling

Indian Military command has displayed immaturity, lack of operational understanding, recklessness and even cowardice


Adeela Naureen/Waqar K Kauravi November 28, 2022
The writers are freelance journalists. They can be contacted at [email protected]

Recent sabre rattling by some of Indian Military commanders and even political leaders has raised some dust in South Asia; however the track record of past three years indicates that the Indian Military command has displayed immaturity, lack of operational understanding, recklessness and even cowardice.

And we don’t say it for the hack of it but through an incisive analysis. After the fake August 5, 2019 integration of IIOJ&K into the Indian union, the RSS head-honchos and bewildered top military brass thought they could hoodwink Indian public by a false-flag terror attack in occupied territory, blame it on Pakistan and follow it through an airstrike across the international border. This could establish a new precedent in South Asia where fake Indian hegemony was to be established, cheaply.

There was a stage-managed terror attack on an Indian military convoy at Pulwama on February 14, 2019, followed by media blitz encouraging a revenge on Pakistan. The Indian Air Force conducted a badly-planned airstrike on Balakot on February 26, 2019, killing a crow and damaging few trees. Without going into details of the IAF tree strike at Balakot and the fiasco in Ladakh, we will take help from our Express Tribune pieces published on October 19, 2019 and September 3, 2020.

The Indian media blitz after the failure of the Balakot strike in 2019 was focused on: building a façade of bravado and fakery to cover up the faux pas of the Balakot incident; projecting IAF’s technological and numerical superiority by advertising the latest procurements on an almost daily basis; conveying to the PAF that India has taken a lead over Pakistan in acquiring modern hardware; and lastly, showing political pooja paat as essential element of military power and use of nimboo narial and laddus (lemon, coconuts and sweets) to justify the Shastra Pooja. It also desired to maintain the bogey of limited conventional war under nuclear overhang.

However there have been sane and serious voices in India who have kept cautioning the politico-military leadership about absurdity in planning. Pravin Sawhney has been regularly commenting on why Pakistan is not a walkover and the fact that Chinese military has marched ahead of India in almost every field and that this illusion of machismo and false bravado was of no use.

Although the Balakot tree strike and the PAF counter-strike lasted for few hours, the PAF’s aggressive response sent some very strong strategic signals across the globe. Pakistan conveyed to the world that it can display a sure-footed response based on political intent and was ready to climb the escalation ladder in a nuclear overhang, when it comes to territorial integrity and honour of the nation. The PAF proved that Indian technological and numerical superiority was a myth and the PAF could dominate the skies over South Asia by displaying superiority over the IAF in technical, technological, training and operational domains. The PAF also displayed unwavering faith in Allah Almighty and the cause of Pakistan. Pakistan also re-established nuclear deterrence by a quick and bold conventional response. That Indian leadership did not venture across the LoC or the international border after February 27 proves that India chickened out in this brinkmanship.

The IAF has the worst air safety record in South Asia and they have lost more than three dozen aircraft in the past three years, including IAF helicopter which crashed, killing CDS General Bipin Rawat.

On the global scene, India and her military has poor standing and impression. A piece in The Diplomat on October 21, 2021 by Chet Lee highlighted that India was the weakest link in the Quad alliance comprising the US, Japan, Australia and India.

Indian Military’s next episode of shame came in summer of 2020. As the dust settled on the Depsang Plains in Ladakh, there were reports of Indo-China tensions. Godi media went berserk and started projecting as if the Indian Military had conquered Tibet autonomous region. A report published in The Hindu indicated that the Indian Military had lost 1,000 sq-km area in Ladakh.

Indian Military’s episode of shame was termed as ‘Galwan debacle’. The joint politico-military leadership failure was brushed under the carpet, no one was made accountable and mainstream media started a big cover-up. Indian analysts like Col Ajai Shukla and Pravin Sawhney kept criticising Indian leadership for the loss of face.

Analysis of the Ladakh failure in strategic, operational and tactical domains highlighted the fact that the Indian Military chain of command failed from the National and Army level down to the Brigade and Battalion level.

RAW was responsible for apprising the leadership of possible threat scenarios and intent of enemy. It was also supposed to give the warning time of at least two weeks to formation commanders so that they can mount a suitable operational response. The Commander Northern Command and the Commander 14 Corps should have had the ability to get a warning time of at least ten days in advance, while using their own effort. Chinese build-up across the LAC took considerable time, however Indian military commanders from the CDS to Brigade did not place any forces to remain within the TSR (Time Space relative Strength) matrix and failed to mount any major operations.

In a nutshell, the entire war machine of the third largest military in the world became paralysed. The Indian intelligence establishment and military leadership were thoroughly exposed for their poor foresight, bad planning, lack of decision-making and paralysis of the entire chain of command.

It is important to look at timing of the current sabre rattling by the Indian leadership. Pakistan’s political scene and mudslinging by political parties may have motivated the Indian politico-military leadership to fire some crackers. We would warn all AbhiNonDones in the Indian Military brass that Defence Forces of Pakistan are not only ready but also very eager to repeat the 27th February 2019 ‘Operation Swift Retort’ – this time the response could be more aggressive and at a larger scale.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2022.

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