Punching Hard-January 2008
Learning from Operation Parakram, the army sharpens its pro-active strategy.
By Pravin Sawhney
The Indian Army’s new war-fighting doctrine that owes itself to the lessons learnt from Operation Parakram has been termed as the Cold Start strategy by the media. While it sounds good, the implication is that the moment the balloon goes up, the army will immediately launch its offensive forces into enemy territory, which is not correct. The army instead calls its new doctrine as the ‘pro-active strategy’ which is deliberate, offensive and echeloned involving operationally essential preparatory work. To appreciate how the ‘pro-active strategy’ evolved, it will be relevant to run through the landmark events of Operation Parakram. After the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001, the government ordered the army to mobilise on December 18. The mobilisation for war (as the armed forces understood) was termed Operation Parakram and was total. It was unlike the earlier Operation Vijay (the 1999 Kargil war) when a few defensive and strike formations were mobilised to discourage Pakistan from leading an offensive inside Indian territory. Up to three mountains divisions (dual-use formations) and a controlling corps tactical headquarters were moved from the Chinese front to Jammu and Kashmir against Pakistan.

It was assessed that as these dual-use formations could take up to eight weeks of re-orientation training for conversion to viable infantry divisions, they would best be used in the mountains and semi-plains in J&K. Moreover, war-wastage reserves were taken out of depots and moved to forward locations to replace damaged equipment and quick cannibalisation and improvisations were made to ensure that maximum equipment was war-worthy. By the first week of January 2002, the additional forces from the eastern front to J&K were in place, the offensive strike formations were in varying stages of operational preparedness, and the pivot corps (holding formations) had mobilised completely. The military strategy was to make multiple ingresses into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to straighten all disadvantageous tactical bulges on the LC as well as to go for the army’s Northern Command objectives like Lipa Valley, Bugina bulge and Haji Pir pass while keeping an eye on the battlefield between Chhamb and Sialkot where Pakistan was expected to launch its Army Reserve North (1 corps centred around its 6 armoured division at Kharian). The Indian Air Force was to provide the needed deterrence on the border until the army’s strike corps (1, 2 and 21) were in place in respective concentration areas for break-out. At this moment, Pakistan was at its military weakest. Its troops of 11 and 12 corps that have an operational role on the eastern front against India were committed in the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
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