Joint Doctrine Indian Armed Forces – 2017

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What is Military doctrine?:-

  • Doctrines are generic and basic documents without going too much into specifics.
  • Military doctrine is a guide to action, rather than hard and fast rules. It is Fundamental principles by which the military forces guide their actions in support of objectives.
  • A Joint Armed Forces Doctrine coalesce, synthesise and harmonize the tenets, beliefs and principles of the different Services into one common, officially enunciated and accepted guideline for carrying out Joint Operations.
  • Doctrines is derived from various sources such as history, nature of threats, political decisions, technology, inter-service relationships, as well as strategy.

Concerns raised in the Doctrine:-

  • The fragile security environment in the Af-Pak region and neighbouring support to proxy war in Jammu & Kashmir, lends a possibility of it being a conduit for eastward spread of fundamentalist and radical ideologies.
  • India remains concerned about the presence and role of external powers in the Indian Ocean Region, adding security challenges are exacerbated by several countries vying to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction.
  • India’s threats primarily emanate from the disputed land borders with certain neighbours and that the need to address consequences of instability and volatility in parts of India’s extended and immediate neighbourhood remains a priority.

Some salient features of Doctrine:-

  • The doctrine explicitly acknowledges that so-called “surgical strikes” will, going forward, be a formal part of India’s retaliatory toolkit against “terror provocations.”
  • India claimed to demonstrate this in September 2016, after the deadly Uri attack.
  • The joint doctrine proposes joint training of personnel, unified command and control structure besides pushing for a tri-service approach for modernisation of the three forces.
  • On operational issues, it said, in case of war the land, air and naval commanders will have to jointly formulate, orchestrate and implement war plans to ensure a well-oiled fighting machinery.
  • The doctrine will facilitate establishment of a broad framework of concepts and principles for joint planning and conduct of operations across all the domains such as land, air, sea, space and cyber-space.
  • The doctrine also talked about the steps initiated for establishment of the ‘Defence Cyber Agency’, ‘Defence Space Agency’ and ‘Special Operations Division’.
  • Higher Defence Organisation will foster further inter-Service coordination in planning, execution of operations and force planning.
  • Coordination with relevant agencies like RAW, Intelligence Bureau and Intelligence organisations of the para-military forces as part of the Joint Intelligence Committee under the National Security Adviser is an imperative to the intelligence structure.
  • Given recent debates on potential shifts in Indian nuclear strategy, the presentation of India’s nuclear strategy in the document is revealing. First, this may be the first authoritative document released by the Indian government to drop the phraseology of “credible minimum deterrence” (CMD) for “credible deterrence” (CD) instead.
  • CMD has been a mainstay in India’s nuclear strategy since the release of its draft nuclear doctrine in 1999 and so its omission in the 2017 joint doctrine stands out.

Indigenization of Procurement:-

  • Another important pronouncement under the “National Military Objectives” is: “Enable required degree of self-sufficiency in defence equipment and technology through indigenization to achieve desired degree of technological independence by 2035.” This probably presents the biggest challenge of all given the fledgling state of the domestic defence-industrial complex.

Critical analysis:-

  • The doctrine fails to mention anything about the jointness within the Indian military. Doctrine stated this issue as “Jointness implies or denotes possessing an optimised capability to engage in Joint War-Fighting and is not limited to just Joint-War Fighting (Joint Operations)” with limited clarity.
  • It creates an unnecessary controversy about India’s nuclear doctrine by describing it as “credible deterrence” instead of “credible minimum deterrence”.
  • This distinction is crucial as India’s draft nuclear doctrine specifically mentions the latter.
  • The doctrine also reiterates the basic tenets of the Indian nuclear doctrine, nofirst use (NFU) and credible deterrence, contrary to recent calls to revise the NFU and speculation in the West that India would resort to a first strike.
  • It adds that conflict will be determined or prevented through a process of credible deterrence, coercive diplomacy and conclusively by punitive destruction, disruption and constraint in a nuclear environment across the Spectrum of Conflict.
  • Further Special Forces units will be “tasked to develop area specialisation in their intended operational theatres” to achieve an optimum effect.