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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pak wargames to blunt India's strategy

 TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Even as Indian Army refines its 'pro-active' war strategy to mobilise fast and strike hard across the border under the 'cold start' doctrine, Pakistan army is practising its own swift response to counter such multiple offensive thrusts into its territory.

While the massive Indian 'Yodha Shakti' and Pakistani 'Azm-e-Nau-III' (New Resolve) wargames are not exactly being conducted eyeball-to-eyeball across the border, both high-voltage exercises with around 50,000 troops each have entered their final phase this week.

Indian watchers tracking the Azm-e-Nau exercise say Pakistan is validating its "new war-fighting concept", which primarily seeks to "blunt and defeat" India's cold start strategy, as also test its new weaponry, reconnaissance and early-warning capabilities.

Though an "extremely professional" 5.2-lakh force, Pakistan army seems to be slightly rattled by the 11-lakh strong Indian Army's cold start concept. "They are trying different manoeuvres, first in the southern sector and now in the northern one, to counter the multiple thrusts India may launch in the event of a war," said a senior officer.

It's not that the two countries are going to war anytime soon but militaries perforce have to factor in worst-case scenarios, drafting doctrines to deal with them and then validating them through mock battles in realistic settings.

Indian Army's gameplan is to launch self-contained and highly-mobile 'battle-groups' — with Russian-origin T-90S tanks and upgraded T-72 M1 tanks at their core — for strikes across the border within 96 hours, as reported by TOI earlier.

"The aim is to hit fast and hit hard... and keep the enemy guessing," said the officer. This cold start doctrine took shape after it took almost 30 days to mobilise troops on a large scale for Operation Parakram following the December 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament.

The 'Yodha Shakti' wargames in the blistering heat of Thar Desert, with temperatures touching 50 degrees celsius, for instance, are centred around swift offensive manoeuvres by "mission-oriented battle-groups" with airborne forces and lethal firepower "to rapidly dominate the entire spectrum of battlespace".

Army chief General V K Singh will review the exercise on May 8, in which the Mathura-based 1 Corps, one of the three principal 'strike' formations, has come together with formations drawn from places like Babina, Patiala, Hissar and Allahabad.

Incidentally, the Army is now also revising its doctrine to effectively meet the challenges of a possible 'two-front war' with China and Pakistan, as also deal with asymmetric and fourth-generation warfare and enhance strategic reach and joint operations with IAF and Navy, as reported earlier.

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