Continued From Chapter I

Towards The Goal of Improving Our Conventional Strengths The Following Must Be Done At The Earliest

Build Mountain Strike Forces and Forward regiments: Build Strength of our forces in the mountains all along the Northern Border including against China and Nepal. We have traditionally been thinking of sending troops to forward positions only during the time of crises. This would usually involve long time for acclimatisation and movement in mountain terrain. What is appalling is that we have not learnt our lessons even after Kargil where we had to rush our initial set of troops without any acclimatisation. We should raise 5 full mountain strike corps and have full regiment strengths in Ladakh (Ladakh Scouts), Himachal Pradesh (Dogras and Garhwalis), UP, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Sikkim (Sikkim Scouts), Bhutan(we have a mandate for their security and Foreign Affairs) and Arunachal Pradesh (Arunachal Scouts). While there are 4 strike corps facing Pakistanis we should at least have five Strike Corps facing China, if not more. Hopefully, we have at least realised it now that the threat is real. India is the only country in the world that has two hostile nuclear armed neighbours constantly putting pressure on its borders and our response to they has been quite dismal to say the least. While most people might believe that 5 strike corps against China is an overkill, it is better to have our forces acclimatised and ready while we send out back-up from the plains. Moreover, mountains and tunnels made within them, will provide exceptional cover for the forward regiments from enemy strikes in the early stages of war to the men and their machines. 

We should also build a strong and potent Marine Corps under Navy for the safety and security of Peninsula with exceptional offensive capability which will act as a rear guard in case of an all-out war. Most of our forces focused in the North and West and quite rightly so but it is important to have a strong expeditionary force guarding the peninsula and ready to launch amphibious attacks or defend against them.

Integrating all border security forces: Integrating Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Sashastra Seema Bal into one composite force and substantially increase their size and capabilities. Their training should not be very different from that of the army and their force structure should be similarly designed. They should form our first line of defence against the enemy and it should be evolved into a self-sustaining force with extremely strong offensive and defensive capabilities including their own artillery, supply core, intelligence capability and drones, signal network, SAM’s, special forces, attack helicopters etc.

In case of any attack they should have the full capability to blunt the attack, no matter how aggressive or strong it might be, before the army does a counter offensive or punitive action against the enemy or reaches them for support.

Substantially Improving Firepower:

1. Infantry and Mechanised infantry weapons: Firepower at Infantry level should be critical in mountain warfare and also help the morale of our foot soldiers. Bullet proof jackets, world class assault rifles, squad automatic rifles, squad support machine guns, sniper rifles, MMG’s with .338 lapua, Heavy Machine guns (12.7mm, 14.5mm, 20mm) , Automated grenade launchers (40mm, 60mm, 80mm), Automated heavy cannons (25mm, 30mm, 40mm, 45mm). The weapons should be defined at a section level of 12 people and force structures should be standardized and substantially increased in terms of their fire power with a buddy pairs (two people) being given specific roles like squad machine gunners, squad support heavy barrel riles, snipers, grenadiers etc. This will strengthen each section doing the ground work rather than just focus on large high cost procurement which have use only in case of a full scale war while the infantry man who did the bulk of work struggles with basics. It is important to get our thinking right at least after over 70 years of independence.

2. Howitzers – Light-weight self-propelled automated 155mm howitzers (with sustained fire of 15 rounds per minute) of multiple calibres from 39 to 58 (not just 52), Self-propelled automated 130mm (with at least 20 rounds sustained fire) and self-propelled 105mm howitzers (with at least 30 rounds per minute of sustained fire per min). Yes, there are no howitzers in the world with such high firing capabilities and a lot of you might believe that making a light howitzer with such high firepower will be close to impossible. Well light weight is only a relative term and these are self-propelled and not slung under the helicopter. Further, very light howitzers are needed only when they have to be moved to the front in a hurry under enemy fire but if we form integrated battle groups with the regiments at forward positions we can take the equipment well before we need them in a hurry to punish the enemy even before the back-up forces reach there. We need self-propelled howitzers that could sneak in near the enemy through the mountains, shoot a devastating barrage and scoot. The howitzers should be extremely light weight only if they have to be sent from plains to the mountains at short notice in the cloud of war. We should ideally have these closer to the border aligned with the fighting regiments like Ladakh Scouts, Sikkim scouts or Arunachal scouts.

3. Mortars: Mountain warfare will see use of Mortars for a long time to come as they are light weight and easily manoeuvrable with high sustained fire power. However, it must be noted that there has not been much of an improvement around the world in mortars primarily due to the terrain that the countries have fought in. While fighting in the plains, it will be important to out-range and out-gun the enemy but the mountains provide a very different landscape and opportunity to fire at enemy hiding behind the mountain due to the trajectory at which the mortars fire. It is therefore, very important for India that it does rapid innovation in improving the mortars and build two member automated mortar firing teams to sneak in on the enemy and hit them with devastating fire power. Indian should standardise its mortars to three or four types of automated long range mortars of 120mm and 180mm and 240mm with GPS guided shells mounted on all-terrain vehicles which can be operated by just a two man teams from inside the comfort of their vehicles.

4. Light Tanks: India is not the largest country in the world but it sure has the most diverse terrain in the world from snow-capped mountains to valleys, swamps and lakes to plains, from deserts to dense forests. The borders that India will have to secure are extremely diverse but unfortunately we have not adapted our equipment to the diverse terrain. While standardising the equipment to the extent possible i.e. for instance standardise turret and gun and use it on heavy and light tanks. Ensure that the role of gunners and loaders is eliminated and we can build much more effective and lighter tanks. Except for assault rifles which have to be standardised in terms of bullet types only and not barrel lengths. All other equipment should be optimised for easier adaptability to the terrain, however it should be tested in all terrains for acceptance and operationalization. Indian light tank should be around 36 tons as against the 25 tons proposed and our heavy tanks should be around 56 tons to allow scope for further improvements in future.

5. Reduce the cost of fighting a conventional battle: While army chooses to any foreign made equipment the problem is that they usually buy the maintenance equipment and ammunition or weapons also from the vendors and this makes using the weapons extremely costly. We should ensure that we reduce the cost of our equipment by producing them locally and if we ever buy foreign equipment we will have to ensure that we are at least making the spares within the country. I mean a Bofors gun or a MiG-29 grounded as we don’t have spares is useless irrespective of how good the equipment is even assuming that they were world class when they were bought. If use of the equipment always has high cost attached to it we will struggle to bring in heavy firepower upon the enemy.

6. Support local equipment even if they are not world class yet: Most countries produce their own assault rifles even if they are not super powers. The nature of defence equipment is such that they take time to develop or improve. US made assault rifles in Vietnam War were thrown away by their soldiers due to their unreliability and they picked up enemy weapons and fight. Similarly, FN FAL was called the weapon of free world even such world-class weapon frequently jammed and did not perform well during Sri Lankan peace keeping missions. The fact is that every design has its limitations and every design has growth when the right changes are made. US rifles were known for their accuracy while Russian rifles were known for their reliability however, the facts are very different today due to their constant improvements. Using and providing feedback will be critical for indigenous equipment’s success. Recently we had seen Army buying around 1000 FN SCAR H rifles for its special forces while knowing fully well that there are at least 4 companies developing rifles in the same calibre in India.

7. Attack Helicopters for quick attack, Weapon loaded Quadcopters, self-destructing attack drones and surveillance drones operated by Infantry for final assault: Mountains, due to their difficult terrain, require us to cut down the response time while the ground forces secure themselves in positions to take on a marauding enemy. Moreover it will be very difficult to make precise bombings at the enemy targets in a fighter jet flying high at high speeds. Light combat helicopters need was identified immediately after Kargil, however, we are yet to place orders for them despite LCH getting operational clearance. Similarly, even light utility helicopter should be worked on as a weaponised platform and piloted by a one fighter pilot.

Infantry operated Quad copters with machine guns and automated grenade launchers will help the troops during their final assault on entrenched enemy on higher grounds. These technologies are available and could be fielded within a year or two at best.

To provide precise attack capability to the infantry beyond the artillery fire they have to be provided with self-destructing surveillance and attack drones of smaller size and also with high altitude surveillance drones. India currently has the building blocks of all these capabilities including smaller jet packs.

8. Deep Strike Fighter bombers and Strategic Bombers: India needs to build deep strike fighter bomber that can reach Beijing and beyond on their internal fuel alone and drop a high payload of bombs when required. We have to work on improving Sukhoi Su-30MKI engines substantially in terms of their thrust to weight ratio and their fuel efficiency with foreign collaboration if required and build a twin engine canard delta winged bomber with carbon fibre composites like the proposed ORCA fighter but much larger with at least shaped stealth capabilities for the air force to begin with. This aircraft should be a stealth killer to take down J-20 or any other heavy fighter put in its way. Similarly, Strategic Bombers are as much a show of intent as a machine for use in an all-out war and using 4 improved Sukhoi Su-30MKI engines we should attempt to build our first Strategic Bomber with a substantial payload and range. These could double up as force multipliers with an external fuel tank for refuelling other fighters in the air force fleet, carrying electronic warfare equipment and very long range radars functioning as AWACS replacement or Electronic intelligence aircrafts.

9. Border Road Infrastructure, cell towers, all weather outposts: India needs to continue to build strong border road infrastructure and all weather roads like in the past few years and build multiple access ways to guard our critical border points. Constant improvement of roads, communication infrastructure and all weather border outposts will help India take any external threats head on.

10.Competence in the Defence Ministry: Finally getting our conventional strength up is all about ensuring that our Defence ministers and bureaucrats in the defence ministry are from a defence background with adequate competence to understand urgency of matter and not some bungling political clown who doesn’t understand the difference between guerrillas and gorillas. These are specialised roles requiring specialised knowledge and jokers like Krishna Menon in such roles will only bring disgrace to the country. Defence minister should always be a retired general who understands strategy and importance of defence acquisitions.

Build Unconventional Warfare Capabilities

The problem with Indian thinking has been quite evident from the policies of the first PM and the first ruling party of India. Whether anyone cares to listen or not we love flaunting our peace loving nature and our aversion to war. While we believe that we are winning major accolades around the world for our non-combative nature the reality is that we are thought of as incompetent jokers. We are a nation that is struggling to provide decent assault rifles to our soldiers for them to have a fighting chance. Our politicians have an advanced stage of this peace loving disease. We love telling the world how we have never attacked anyone in the past 10,000 years and the world is thinking that we were busy fighting each other. Some of these politicians should be sent to the war museums in UK where they give vivid details how they defeated us in war as we were busy being naïve. Under this peace pretext we have destroyed the strategic thinking of this great nation that has taught the world to fight and lost a large part of our country to scheming enemies. When we speak of peace as a country that has lost a large part of its land to China and Pakistan we sound like silly jokers who can’t do better because of our lack of will and competence while the reality might be different. Do we really want to give that impression?

The second problem has been that we were always trying to be a moral state while fighting immoral enemies. Who in their right mind would have given back 93,000 POW’s to Pakistanis without taking back POK or declares Bangladesh as an independent country without sending back the millions of illegal immigrants or at least taking a large chunk of land near chicken’s neck area aka Siliguri corridor getting rid of our strategic choke-point? The worst thing is that we have called Indira Gandhi as a goddess, a person who lost a war across the table that the army had so competently won. Similarly, when a handful of terrorists who had come from Pakistan wreaked havoc in our Financial Capital we sent dossier after dossier instead of bombing Pakistan out of existence. This disease of peace has to be buried very deep before it buries our nation.

The whole obsession with Dharma Yudh has been the undoing of this great nation for many centuries now. I have sometimes wondered where this whole concept of peace or trying to fight the enemy morally had even come up. We find pleasure in telling the world that we fight terrorists with the same weapons that they use and how we don’t shoot stone pelters. While there have been many Vedic texts which have stated that morality in statecraft and morality for individuals in the society are not the same and should not be measured by the same yardstick, we don’t seem to get this simple fact. It is right for States to protect the sovereignty and the welfare of the people by any means necessary. The ends will always justify the means in statecraft. However, successive incompetent governments, left leaning parties, intelligentsia and their loyal media houses have time and again tried to undermine our strategic projects and hinder competent strategic thinking by untimely talk of peace and nuclear holocaust. This mind-set has done more harm to the nation than any other external enemy could have ever possibly done.

The Dharma Yudh misconception possibly comes from Mahabharata where Sri Krishna speaks of Dharma Yudh, however, it only meant that is was a war to uphold Dharma rather than fighting on Dharmic principles and if it was a war based only on Dharmic principles only, then it must be noted that Pandava’s would have never won the war. What else could explain Prithviraj Chauhan letting go Mohammed Gauri 17 times? However, the way he killed Ghauri to redeem himself was more the thinking that was needed from the very beginning.

Unfortunately, we as a nation have not understood Dharma Yudh properly much like most of our Indian culture. More Indians have read half-baked treatise on war strategy by Sun Tsu than our Vedic literature on war, formations, psy-ops and strategy. Dharma Yudh at it most bare definition only means that it is a war fought for upholding what is right for the nation and its people. The ends justify all means undertaken to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of our nation while fighting internal and/or external enemies.

To this effect India has much to be desired as its intelligence agencies have been more often than not short changed by our incompetent and short sighted politicians. Further, most basic intelligence capabilities are missing for country that desires to be a world power in a hurry. We have been sorely missing the below capabilities and seldom demonstrated even the desire to acquire them.

Cyberspace Warfare Capabilities: The war in virtual world is real and it is here to stay. It is a widely known fact that the future wars will be fought beyond just the land or physical boundaries and our preparedness in Cyberspace domain has much to be desired despite having a strong software industry. Cyberwarfare capabilities go beyond cyber security and they seek to hit the enemy where it hurts the most. Our innovation in this domain is also quite poor and to worsen our woes our electronics industry has been a major challenge.

We have to soon develop our offensive and defensive capabilities and work on world class hardware to augment our cyberspace warfare efforts. There have been multiple defence committees that have suggested creating a cyber warfare cell under navy but the progress has been painfully slow and the capabilities are not yet fully evolved.

Aerospace: Though we have made decent progress in this area in the past few years with our own satellite killer missiles and ballistic missile defence programs we have struggled to think BIG. For instance our IRNSS capability only goes 1500 kms beyond our border not even covering all of China. We have done a decent job on Astra and with Astra IR, Astra 2 and SFDR we will make a substantial progress in our air to air combat capabilities. However, despite being world-class in missile technology and having made substantial progress in radar technology we have struggled to initiate a project that will provide us a layered defence integrating PAD/AAD (I and II), XRSAM, ERSAM, LR/MRSAM, Aakash-II, QR SAM and laser defence systems. We should work towards our very own system like S400 and even if we have a few gaps with the first iteration, I am pretty confident that we will not fall too short, if at all. We also have willing nations to help us bridge the gaps, if any. I have no doubt in my mind that we have all the building blocks ready. We have to build such system in a short time and deploy them in large numbers.

Our work on offensive capabilities in Aerospace also has much to be desired on the pace of our progress with only one test performed. On suppression of Enemy air defence capabilities, we should ideally be working on longer range NGARM versions and have missiles like Brahmos and Shaurya with anti-radiation and anti-airfield capability at extended ranges.

Joint Special Forces Command: The joint special operations command has been formed but instead of moving all the Special Forces under one command it has been formed as a separate unit with recruits from all other units with focus on counter-terrorism role. Their equipment has only been getting better in the past few years and we are still far away from being a world class special forces units in terms of equipment. However, truth be said, our men are as good as any other in the world if not better and given quality equipment in terms of transport, force multipliers like fast attack vehicles/crafts, specialised communication equipment and survey equipment, drones, mobile artillery, world class indigenous rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles etc. they will be counted as some of the most potent forces in the world.

Economic Warfare division: Most wars throughout history have happened for economic purposes but in the modern world, economics is itself being used as a tool of war and if countries are not vigilant enough they could be bankrupt by the enemy countries. Something as simple as selling a country’s currency in the open market could destroy the country by devaluing the currency and making the imports ill affordable. China whose economy rests in the hands of a few powerful communist party members could decide and function as a coherent group in bringing down or hurting an economy when they please. Secondly, working to protect their intellectual property rights will be extremely difficult by a company if the state doesn’t support the industry. Therefore, forming an economic welfare/warfare division will be critical to the success of Indian economy and help India set a strategic division to take on hostile forces. This will also be critical in enforcing programs like Make in India, which will otherwise be trickled down to a mere marketing gimmick.

Information warfare and Propaganda cell: Indian ability to counter propaganda with ulterior motives has much to be desired and its ability to create a narrative is woefully poor. Diplomacy in the modern world is all about creating the right perception and perspective as ‘who is saying it’ will speak much louder than ‘what is being said’.

We will always find it difficult to create a right narrative if the foreign country if their public already have pre-conceived notion about us and it will be worse if they have strong misconceptions. In the modern world of Information Technology, independent media and alternative media we will fall woefully short of creating the right perception if the enemies are focused on dealing in lies and half-truths like our ones have been.

Addressing Internal Challenges.

As per ancient Vedic Statecraft, the country or the king has to first address internal security challenges/ dissent of which we have many. There are a lot of vested interests who have been insensitively working against the country trying to create anarchy. These people would sell their mothers and their motherlands for pennies if we allowed it to happen.

I have no doubt in my mind that Chinese and/or Pakistanis have had a lot of Indian political stooges on their payrolls including but not limited to communists of India who would help them understand India’s fault lines better. Many conspiracy theorists believe that it was definitely not surprising to see some of the political parties get funds for their foundations, there was a time when political parties would take money to buy inferior equipment, now they take money not to buy any equipment for our forces in the name of honesty and extra vigilance against corruption. What else will explain India not investing even a single penny in defence for 10 years of UPA rule despite constant news of Chinese transgressions? The biggest statement they could muster against these transgressions was demonstrating all the Indian martial arts as a show of strength in commonwealth games. Similarly, when the terrorists attacked our heartland in Mumbai this country’s incompetent and corrupt political class only made statements and provided dossiers.

In a field like defence in the modern age where technology changing every 2 or 3 years, not investing enough for 10 years has created a big gap in our conventional capabilities. The critical aspect of Raja dharma is that the head of the state should first address the internal issues and challenges (call them traitors if you will) and I have no doubt in my mind that we should take down these traitors sooner than later. These people are spread across the politics, universities, Bollywood and all forms of media. My complaint with Modi government is that they have not taken a stronger stance against these traitors and should have hanged a few by bringing in strict laws against subversion and freedom of expression with responsibility and accountability. The government should take down all these anti-national forces by guile or brute force without any mercy. An extremely strong and rigorous law should be brought in to deal with these people who do politics in the name of region, religion, caste, language or support anarchy or sedition. When a few of them are given death penalty most others will fall in line. Like I have said there is no morality in letting the traitors live. Most nationalist Indians, including your’s truly, are vexed with these anti-national rogues and would want the government to take strict action.

It will be naïve to think that only political class is corrupt and working against the interest of the country, the real corruption lies in the bureaucracy. I don’t for a moment suggest that all politicians or bureaucrats are corrupt but a drop of poison is sufficient to make the whole milk poisonous. As they say, the real success of Indian bureaucracy is to make the politicians believe that they are in control and they are calling the shots, while the reality is that they are being driven by the bureaucrats. The politicians in the eyes of some bureaucrats are useful fools. They will continue to be so as long as we don’t bring in specialists into the relevant roles. For instance Defence Minister should never be anyone but a retired General of our armed forces. It takes years of study and practice to understand strategy let alone practically implement it. A Khadi clad politician is only a joke in this role.

Improving Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare capabilities: Firstly, India should get rid of its no first use policy and constantly build its Nuclear capabilities. I am not sure why India has not yet worked upon next version of Agni which was supposed to be Agni VI with MIRV capability. There have been conflicting reports that we are working on it but don’t want to publicise it so that we could avoid International pressure. In my view we should constantly keep working on improvements of our strategic nuclear forces. We should improve our nuclear yield on weapons and work at miniaturising nuclear weapons for tactical purposes and should be capable of firing nuclear weapons from artillery.

Biological and Chemical warfare capabilities are critical for future wars and letting the enemies know that you have the capabilities and the intent to use them if you are threatened is very important. Conspiracy theorists have said that china has over 1500 COVID like viruses in their level 4 Wuhan bio research lab. There have been multiple diseases that have started in China in the past few years like bird flu, swine flu, SARS now COVID. Now there is news that that there is another version of swine flu doing the rounds in China, obviously there isn’t much information on this as well with the way China operates. It seems quite unreal that so many diseases with pandemic potential being discovered in China could just be a matter of coincidence. Whatever be the truth, it will be wise for us to work on our own Bio and Chemical weapons.

Taking Over Pakistan & POK, Integrating Bhutan & Nepal And A Large Part of Bangladesh Near Siliguri Corridor:

CPEC is a project that runs from disputed territory that belongs to India. While the road is supposed to go to Gwadar port, it turns towards Indian heartland at critical places. It is not difficult to guess why China is building a road towards India’s heartland. Taking over Pakistan is critical to ensure long term safety of India. Pakistan has had it too good from India for too long. While Pakistanis have been a big problem we have chosen to deal with them either in a docile manner or mildly aggressively. Ideally, we should be extremely aggressive with them as existence of Pakistan will always be a threat to India, as their only objective seems to be destroying India by bleeding it with a thousand cuts.

Any religious violence or issue in India, mafia activity, drug trafficking, fake currency rackets, hawala rackets, subversive activity, anti-India media propaganda or any espionage activity, you will see Pakistanis saying that a lot of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in India are on their payrolls taking hawala favours. Including the recent CAA protests you will find all civil unrest threads connecting with Pakistan. Therefore, to have an ever lasting peace and tranquillity in the region, Pakistan should cease to exist. Most strategic experts argue that they are a buffer zone between Iran and us but according to me they are a bigger nuisance than any middle-eastern country could ever be. Every time India starts to tighten the noose around Islamic fanatics they and their sponsored actors start a malicious campaign defeating the objective or watering it down. Therefore, taking over Pakistan and POK will be of extreme importance for India’s and South Asia’s regional security. It will take more than a few years to set right the rot but it will be important to do so at the earliest and with boots in Pakistan than remotely. The only way to stop religious fanaticism in the name of covet warfare is to seek and destroy every structure that supports such terrorist groups.

Bhutan will be a critical strategic region for India to secure Siliguri corridor and defending it from both sides in Sikkim and Bhutan will be critical for North-east. China has been an aggressive bully with Bhutan and has plans to take over Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh under its five finger strategy. The only way to secure the future of Bhutan is to integrate it with India like we had integrated Sikkim.

Nepal is being used by China against India by using their unscrupulous communist fools. Communists have never done any good to any country. Nepal creates a large blind spot across the Chinese border and as long as Nepal is under Chinese influence it will continue to pose a threat to India. Nepal is culturally very similar to India with Centuries long cultural and economic ties. India should turn Nepal in its favour and integrate Nepal into India so that its border with China can be secured. In any case when China attacks Nepal as it has already planned to do under the five finger strategy there will be no other choice for Nepal except to seek India’s help and/ or join Indian Union. It will be better for the economic development of Nepal as well to join India and also secure its culture, history and economy.

Having only one neighbour to the north will let India move across its border seamlessly, redeploy forces where required and will not have any blind spots in a war against China which is a certainty in future.

Returning Bangladeshis and Rohingyas occupying Siliguri corridor or taking a part of Bangladesh to fix the chicken’s neck strategic drawback is a critical strategic move. Bangladesh has been constantly sending refugees to India due to persecution or economic opportunities. The lack of foresight of so called great PM Indira Gandhi was quite appalling, she lost a war that the army had won across the table. Her four biggest mistakes in 1971 were to not return Bangladeshi’s who came into India, not keeping a part of Bangladesh to address the strategic weakness in Siliguri corridor having won them their independence, and returning 93,000 war criminals to Pakistan without asking back POK and Gilgit Baltistan. No matter whatever people believe these sins of hers cannot be atoned. We have to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated again.

In conclusion, we should start focusing on China as our enemy and prepare to fight Chinese so that Pakistan will only be a pushover at best in case of a war.

Sridhar Mahankali is an Investment Banker, Entrepreneur who tracks military and aerospace issues closely