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Cold Start Doctrine

Limited War with Impunity
India declassified its new military doctrine Cold Start Doctrine on April 28, 2004.9 This new doctrine marked a break from the fundamentally defensive orientation that the Indian military has employed since independence in 1947. It visualized a tri-service doctrine, which necessitates restructuring of the Indian Army and reorganizing the Indian Army’s offensive power away from the three large strike corps into eight smaller division-sized .integrated battle groups. (IBGs) that combine mechanized infantry, artillery, and armor.
The eight battle groups would be prepared to launch multiple strikes into Pakistan along different axes in advance to destroy its defensive and offensive corps. The ground operations of the IBGs require integration with close air support from the Indian Air Force and naval aviation assets to provide highly mobile fire support.13 In addition, the holding corps would be redesignated as .pivot corps. and would be bolstered by additional armor and artillery.
This would allow them to concurrently man defensive positions and undertake limited offensive operations as necessary.14 the major emphasis of Cold Start is on the speed of both deployment and operations to multiply its war fighting capability against Pakistan.
Zachary Davis opined: .Under Cold Start, India would conduct quick, punishing strikes into Pakistan, hopefully without crossing Pakistan’s fuzzy redlines for a nuclear response. The vague redlines include cutting off a major supply route, seizing key territory, defeating a major Pakistani military group, or blockading Karachi with Indian naval forces. Indian planners believe they can achieve a The review of Indian military field exercises since 2005 and organizational developments within India’s military manifests that Indian armed forces have been endeavoring to institutionalize the
Operational capability of the Cold Start Doctrine. For instance, in May 2006, Indian armed forces conducted the Sanghe Shakti (Joint Power) exercise, which brought together strike aircraft, tanks, and over 40,000 soldiers from the 2nd Strike Corps in a war game near the Pakistani border. General Daulat Shekhawat, Commander of the Corps, when explaining the purpose of the exercise, stated .to test our 2004 war doctrine to dismember a not so friendly nation effectively and at the shortest possible time.
He added that: .We firmly believe that there is room for a swift strike even in case of a nuclear attack and it is to validate this doctrine that we conducted this operation.. On December 29, 2009, General Deepak Kapoor, India’s Army Chief stated, .A major leap in our approach to conduct of operations (since then) has been the successful firming-up of the cold start strategy (to be able to go to war promptly)..18 The Cold Start Doctrine would give India an opportunity to keep military operation at the level of limited war.
The limited war can be evaluated by four parameters: time, geography, weaponry used, and objectives sought. P. R. Chari pointed out: The Cold Start strategy, which seeks to call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff with limited offensives, provides all corps with offensive capability and upgrades the role of Special Forces.
The tactical objectives may include a rapid shallow invasion, destroying terrorist infrastructure or Pakistani military assets, or hot pursuit of militants – all limited objectives. The strategic objective would be to get India out of its post-1998 strategic box’ of being deterred by Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal from acting against Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir.
19) Ironically, the Indian strategic community has been debating the advantages of Cold Start Doctrine, rather than the specific conditions that produce the destabilizing characteristics of Cold Start operational plan the need for prompt mobilization, the immediate attack on Pakistan, and the plan to knock Pakistani nuclear capable armed forces out of the war before international community mobilizes and intervenes in the crisis.
These destabilizing features not only unleash a deadly arms race, but intensify security dilemma between the nuclear capable belligerent neighbors.
Pakistan’s Strategic Anxiety
& Countermeasures
The Cold Start Doctrine necessitates the integrated groups’ deployment and mobilization into highly mobile formations’ on hair-trigger alert for launching limited war. The speed and efficiency of a military force’s Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) loop would disrupt Pakistan’s decision cycle, allowing the Indian Army to change the ground reality fast enough to leave Pakistan Army constantly reacting to an inadequate understanding of the situation.
The key is maintaining the initiative, continually disorienting the enemy through rapid and unpredictable change in tactics. The ultimate result should be strategic paralysis of the enemy, so that it is blind, disoriented, confused, and incapacitated, thereby offering a faster and more efficient way of fighting and winning a conventional war.
Arzan Tarapore, .The New Army Doctrine in Limited War,. Nuclear Articles, No. 1588, Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies, December 2004.
1. India’s .surprise factor in terms of when, where, and how a. Cold Start battle group would be launched. Indians believe that the element of surprise would be achieved.
2. Fighting the air battle in an environment where the IAF has significant superiority in terms of numbers and quality of numerical strength. The Pakistan Air Force would be knocked out.
3. Devising a credible anti-ballistic missile defense. Pakistan’s ballistic and cruise missile strikes would be defied.
4. Re-constitution of Pakistan’s .strike corps. and its three Army Reserve’formations, which were so far configured and located to take on India’s three .Strike Corps..
5. Having eight IBG (rather than three) units capable of offensive action significantly increases the challenge for Pakistani intelligence’s limited reconnaissance assets to monitor the status Of all the IBGs, improving the chance of achieving surprise.
The preceding assumptions raise a few questions about when and how Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent and its doctrine of .First Use. Come into play. How can Pakistan offset India’s overwhelming long range artillery fire support? How can it counter India’s force projection capabilities deep in Pakistan’s rear?
The aforementioned perceived and real threats necessitate that Pakistan revise its nuclear strategy Islamabad seems very sensitive to India’s Cold Start Doctrine, especially after General Kapoor’s expression of confidence in India’s new doctrine. On January 13, 2010, the National Command Authority (NCA) of Pakistan declared that it had taken .serious note of recent Indian statements about conducting conventional military strikes under a nuclear umbrella.. It added that .such irresponsible statements reflected a hegemonic mindset, oblivious of dangerous implications of adventurism in a nuclearized context …. General Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, stated on January 1, 2010: .Proponents of conventional application of military forces, in a nuclear Overhang, are chartering an adventurous and dangerous path, the consequences of which could be both unintended and uncontrollable
The Pakistani Army conducted substantial war-readiness exercises, codenamed .Azme-e-Nau III. (New Resolve), from April 10 – May 15, 2010. It involved more than 50,000 troops. It started in the Bahawalpur desert area of South Punjab and culminated in Northern Sindh. The exercise was held contextually in the backdrop of India’s Cold Start Doctrine.
The geographical extent of this exercise manifests that Pakistan is very much sensitive to the Indian Cold Start Doctrine and its armed forces are militarily capable of repealing India’s offensives emanating from latter’s Cold Start Doctrine. Second, newly-inducted F-16 C/D Block 52 aircraft stationed at upgraded the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Base Shahbaz at Jacobabad, Province Sind. These fighter jets provide PAF all-weather precision attack capability day and night in the Southern theater.
23) The preceding discussion underscores that Islamabad has been strategically vigilant and systematically responding to the Indian Cold Start Doctrine. The countermeasures do have limitations because of Pakistan’s economic situation. Its weapons purchasing power from the international market has drawbacks. It seems that the Azme-e-Nau military exercise was very significant for revising Pakistan’s nuclear posture.
It may have exposed Pakistan’s conventional and nuclear limitations against the gradual modernization of the Indian armed forces. For instance, hypothetically speaking, it seems that without the possession of tactical nuclear weapons, and without the option of a flexible, measured, and proportionate response, Pakistan was faced with the grim option of either calling for a massive and suicidal attack against Indian cities in response to India’s limited conventional aggression or surrendering. Indeed, these limitations necessitated the revision of nuclear posture and necessitated the introduction of a new generation of weapons in the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine speaks of minimum deterrence and a last resort. Would it be credible for Pakistan to stick with the last resort? Or should the doctrine prescribe a graded and proportional punitive retaliation option. Presently, however, a very important link is missing in Pakistan’s nuclear strategy, i.e. tactical nuclear weapons development and deployment.
Though it sounds jingoistic-alarming, it is a reality. Pakistan will come under increasing pressure to rely on its nuclear arsenal for self-defense due to India’s unrestrained military buildup. Moreover, Pakistan has not foreclosed its tactical weapons option due to following factors:
Pakistan retains a robust nuclear arsenal to provide deterrence against nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Its nuclear weapons also guard Pakistan’s national interest from the conventional superiority of the adversary. It could develop in the future low-yield-battle field nuclear weapons to solidify its defensive fence or to tackle the eventualities sprouting due to increasing conventional asymmetries between India and Pakistan.
The quantitative and qualitative gradual upgrading in both conventional and nuclear weapons remains the priority of the Pakistani armed forces. During the improvement of armed forces arsenals, policy-makers ought to remain vigilant about the repercussions of the defense industry on the country’s socio-economic development.
That is very important because Indians believe that they would win against Pakistan by using the arms-race’ as a weapon of war. This hidden component of the Indian Cold Start Doctrine, i.e. strategy of economic exhaustion/collapse, ought to be carefully considered. The perfect balance between both the sectors (economic and military) ensures the sustainable increment in the armed forces power.
Pakistan successfully conducted the first flight test of the newly developed, short range surface-to-surface multi-tube ballistic missile, Hatf IX (NASR) on April 19, 2011. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release revealed: .the NASR missile, with a range of 60 km, carries nuclear warheads of appropriate yield with high accuracy and shoot-&-scoot attributes
George lewis & Andrea Gabbitas, .What Should be Done About Tactical Nuclear Weapons? Occasional Paper (Washington D.C. The Atlantic Council of the United States, March 1999), pp. 2-3.
Director General of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), Lieutenant General (Retired) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, announced Pakistan’s test of NASR. He stated that: .the test was a very important milestone in consolidating Pakistan’s strategic deterrence capability at all levels of the threat spectrum..
He added: .that in the hierarchy of military operations, the NASR Weapon System now provides Pakistan with short range missile capability in addition to the already available medium and long range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles in its inventory..24 Indeed, General Kidwai declared NASR missile as a short range missile but refrained to call it a tactical nuclear weapon.
This raised a question whether we call NASR a TNW. It is because of the simple range and the nature of the payload that the missile cannot be used as a yardstick to make a distinction between tactical and strategic weapons. Despite all of the anonymities, can we consider NASR as a TNW due to its short range, nuclear warhead, and shoot-&-scoot attributes in the following discussion. This issue drives our attention towards the question how one can catalog or make a distinction between the weapons.
In the lexicon of weapons, nuclear weapons are cataloged into two categories: tactical Nuclear weapons’and strategic nuclear weapons.’25 Generally, it is said that the tactical nuclear weapons are those weapons which are designed for use against tactical targets on the battlefield or in a theater of war. 26 In peacetime, making this distinction is simple, but during war, the division is ranges well over a thousand kilometers and have characteristics similar to some types of strategic weapons.
The Russian stockpile also includes ship-attack SLCMs, air-launched anti-ship weapons, torpedoes, air defense weapons, artillery shells, short-range ballistic missiles, and possibly land mines. George lewis & Andrea Gabbitas, .What Should be Done About Tactical Nuclear Weapons? Occasional Paper (Washington D.C. The Atlantic Council of the United States, March 1999), p. 2.
Therefore, Pakistan needs weapons, to prevent both blackmailing and aggression. Tricky because the TNW could be delivered against a strategic target during the war. The possibility of the use of the TNW on the battlefield as well as against strategic targets brings into calculation the significance of the intentions of the employer of nuclear weapon. The intention is an intangible determinant; therefore, one needs to take into account the other characteristics of the weapon while cataloging the nuclear weapon.
Thus, in addition to the intentions of the employer, four factors range and payload capacity of delivery vehicle; yield of device; geographical location or deployment area of weapon; and the nature of the command serve as the basis for cataloging the nuclear weapon. For example, the general understanding is that the weapon intended for the battlefield always has shorter-range and lighter-payload carrying delivery vehicle.
The lighter-payload capacity of vehicle automatically limits the yield of the warhead. Moreover, the battlefield weapon is supposed to be deployed in the battlefield and it is in the command of the local commander during the crisis. In this case the National Command Authority delegates the power of the use to the local commander.27
Hypothetically speaking, the NASR missile would be used to deter or inflict punishment on mechanized forces such as the armored brigades and divisions envisaged in India’s Cold Start Doctrine. In addition, the successful test of the NASR missile indicates that Pakistan has succeeded scientifically in miniaturizing its nuclear weapon designs to the extent that these can be launched by tactical and cruise missiles. 28 It seems that there would be shells for artillery guns carrying atomic explosives deployed on the India-Pakistan border.
More precisely, Pakistani defensive formation would be capable of using nuclear strikes to annihilate the adversary’s advancing rapid cavalry/armored thrust in the Southern desert theatre or taking advantage of the short distance from the border to takeover Lahore.
TNW: Invulnerability vs. Vulnerability
The Grand Strategy constituted to encourage covert war or limited conventional conflicts is perilous for deterrence stability between the belligerent states. The tactical weapons surfacing in
South Asia may purge these tactics from the grand strategies of India and Pakistan. This optimistic conclusion about the constructive role of tactical nuclear weapons has been strongly questioned on the premise that battlefield weapons increase the possibility of use of small nuclear weapons. This undesirable trendproliferation of tactical nuclear weapons in South Asia necessitates that we think rationally in order to chalk out a strategy to avoid the nuclear land combat operations in the future.
The likely modernization of tactical weapons will blur the line between conventional and nuclear weapons by making the use of nuclear capability a feasible option. In addition, the introduction of TNW would increase chances of accidental, unauthorized, and inadvertent use of
Nuclear weapons. Conversely, the proponents of the TNW opine that the fallout of even a small nuclear weapon makes its use unwise and therefore, the nuclear weapon states ensure their safety
And security and also do their best to avoid the use of TNW. They are also convinced that battlefield nuclear capability could lead to the shunning of conventional limited war or operations and low intensity tactics from the grand strategies of both India and Pakistan. The endeavor to negotiate a comprehensive arms control agreement to prevent both nuclear and conventional arms races between India and Pakistan does not discount the utility of tactical nuclear weapons in the defensive arrangements of Pakistan in the prevalent military asymmetries
Between the belligerent neighbors. Brodie pointed out: .It is nonsense to hold that a force trained
and equipped to fight conventionallyeven though it has some essentially unusable nuclear weapons behind it makes a better deterrent than one of comparable size trained and equipped to fight from the beginning with nuclear weapons designed exclusively for tactical use.30
It is a realistic calculation that without tactical nuclear weapons, the strategic stability/instability paradox cannot be replaced with strategic stability/stability steadiness. Hence, the NASR missile adds to deterrence stability. It is because Pakistan’s conventional muscle has been gradually losing its defensive punch/guard that a force-multiplier response from the Pakistani defense planners is needed.
The weakening of the conventional fence encourages adversaries to initiate limited blackmailing or adventurous military operations which are prone to risk escalation. More precisely, the threat of tactical nuclear weapon use will deter limited war between India and Pakistan.
India’s doctrinal transformation and anti-missile development underscore that it is inclined to maximize its relative power to punish or blackmail Pakistan. Meanwhile Pakistan’s pursuit for a tactical nuclear weapon is very much to maximize its security by sustaining and enduring the Prevalent strategic equilibrium with its eastern neighbor.
Therefore, the argument that NASR missile development, test, deployment, and operationalization would destabilize the deterrence stability between India and Pakistan seems incorrect. The balancing dynamic of the NASR missile frustrates or makes futile the power-maximizing strategy of India.
Nevertheless, the constructive role of the NASR missile in the deterrence stability does not undercut the negativity of the deployment and operationalization of a NASR missile in the battlefield. Thus, it is imperative that India and Pakistan negotiate and implement a bilateral comprehensive arms control treaty. The comprehensive arms control treaty not only prevents the tactical weapons deployment in the subcontinent but also promises deterrence stability between India and Pakistan.
(1) Pakistani strategic enclave is determined to uphold balance of terror with India to deter its aggression or blackmailing tactics. The deterring capabilities can be acquired through internal build-up and/or via alliance formation. Pakistan’s alliances (SEATO & CENTO) and bandwagoning (United States & China) did not prevent its dismemberment in 1971 war with India.
Since 1971, therefore, it has been focusing on internal build up. That is why, despite the opposition, economic sanctions (1970s, 1980s, 1990s) and negative signalling over safety and security of its nuclear weapon program (since 9/11) by the United States and like-minded states, Islamabad has been upsurging its nuclear arsenal.
(2) The bait-and-bleed and bloodletting strategies mean to keep rival or strategic competitor into protracted internal or external conflicts to enable oneself to get relatively stronger on the sideline while the adversely is wasting its resources in fight.
(3) Since 9/11, Pakistani armed forces have been conducting military operations against the terrorist groups on its territory.
4) Many analysts argue that in the aftermath of the terrorists attack on Mumbai in November 2008, India refrained from conducting surgical strikes inside Pakistan despite having the Cold Start Doctrine. According to these analysts, India refrained from military adventurism due to Pakistan’s nuclear weapon capability. But one cannot ignore that India Army Chief, General Depik Kapoor, expressed his satisfaction with Cold Start Strategy on December 29, 2010.
(5) India has been economically rising and politically pursuing great power stature in the global politics. It feels insecure due to Pakistan’s potential to exacerbate intra-state conflicts within India by supporting the Indian radical groups. Simultaneously, it is strategically afraid of China despite having immense bilateral trade volume between India and China.
(6) The United States played a very constructive role in defusing tension in summer 1990, Kargil conflict 0f 1999, 2001-2002 military standoff between India and Pakistan.
(7) China would be a peer competitor of United States. Peter Toft, .John J. Mearsheimer: an offensive realist between geopolitics and power,. Journal of International Relations and Development, 8 (2005), pp. 381408: 397.
(8) India conducted the first test of its tactical ballistic missile Prahaar having 150 km range on July 21, 2011. It is capable to carry a 200 kg conventional warhead and can be fired in salvoes of six independently targeted missiles.
(9) Firdaus Ahmed, .The Day After ‘Cold Start’,. Military Articles, No. 2424, Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies, November 23, 2007.
(10) Walter C. Ladwig III, .A Cold Start for Hot Wars? The Indian Army’s New Limited War Doctrine,. International Security, Vol. 32, No. 3, Winter 2007/08, p. 158.
(11) Ibid., p. 164.
(12) It appears that the goal would be to have three to five IBGs entering Pakistani territory within seventy-two to ninety – six hours from the time the order to mobilize is issued. Ibid., p. 165
(13) Ibid., p. 164.
(14) Walter C. Ladwig III, .A Cold Start for Hot Wars? The Indian Army’s New Limited War Doctrine,. International Security, Vol. 32, No. 3, Winter 2007/08, p. 165. quick military victory and sue for peace without Pakistan resorting to nuclear weapons..15 New Delhi’s doctrinal shift alarmed the policy-makers in Pakistan, and thereby they were obliged to take conventional and nuclear countermeasures.
(15) Zachary Davis, .Stepping Back from the Brink: Avoiding a Nuclear March of Folly in South Asia,. Arms Control Today, January/February, 2009.
(16) This exercise took place near Pakistan border. A.H. Nayyar and Zia Mian, .The Limited Military Utility of Pakistan’s Battlefield Use of Nuclear Weapons in Response to Large Scale Indian Conventional Attack,. Pakistan Security Research Unit (PSRU), Brief No. 61, November 11, 2010, p. 3.
(17) Ibid.
(18) Rajat Pandit, .Army Reworks War Doctrine for Pakistan, China,. The Times of India, December 30, 2009.
(19) Prof PR Chari, .Limited War Under the Nuclear Shadow in South Asia,. in Arzan Tarapore, Report of the seminar presenting key findings of the USIP report held on January 19, 2005 at the IPCS conference room, Military Articles, No. 1623, Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies, January 29, 2005.
(20) If the Cold Start Doctrine operational plans are materialized in the future, it could pose the following strategic challenges to Pakistan:
(21) These statements manifest Pakistan’s resolution to respond to the Cold Start Doctrine militarily. Iftikhar A. Khan, .Tough Kayani warning to proponents of adventurism,. Dawn, January 2, 2010.
(22) .PAF to use F-16s as it wishes,. The News International, June 28, 2010.
(23) Importantly, the range and nuclear warhead characteristics of the NASR missile indicate that it may be a tactical nuclear weapon (TNW) that could be used in the battlefield. Though its exact yield, deployment location, and rank of the custodian in the battlefield were not announced, the perception persists that its warhead would be low-yield.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), =Press Release,’ 19 April 2011.
24) ISPR, =Press Release’, 19 April 2011. See also, Anita Joshua, Pakistan tests short-range ballistic missile’, The Hindu, April 19, 2011.
25) The strategic weapons are typically targeted on the enemy country’s homeland on targets varying from leadership centers to cities to nuclear missile silos. In addition, many tactical weapons were designed to be used against mobile targets while strategic weapons are almost exclusively intended to be delivered to predetermined geographic points.
26) There is sometimes a distinction made between theater and tactical nuclear weapons. Shorter-range weapons (those with ranges of a few tens of kilometers) have been referred to as tactical weapons while longer-range no strategic weapons were called theatre weapons. The United States and Russian Federation TNW inventories today include long-range land-attack sea-launched cruise (SLCMs) and air-deliverable bombs. Notably, the long-range nuclear SLCMs, have.
27) It can be a unit commander, i.e. in Pakistan Army Lt. Colonel.
28) Ahmed, Mansoor, .Why Pakistan needs tactical nuclear weapons,. The Weekly Pulse, May 6, 2011.
29) It is illogical to draw an analogy with NATO vs WARSAW pact deployments and use of nuclear weapons during the Cold War with India-Pakistan. The vulnerability of Americans was lesser because WARSAW deployments were not directly threatening United States heartland. Whereas, Lahore, the second biggest city of Pakistan is in the range of Indian Artillery.
30) Brodie, .The Development of Nuclear Strategy,. 65-83.



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