Technology upgrade of NVDs is the need of the hour
Lt Gen Rameshwar Yadav (retd)
The world over armies have been trained to fight at night as visibility constraints after last light covers up what cannot be covered during daytime, an essential requirement for achieving surprise and deception, the most important factor of operational art, besides safety and security of the troops. Therefore, the darkness is known to be of immense virtue to the operational planners as well as the soldiers at the executive end. However, it imposes time constraint on the conduct of the requisite battlefield manoeuvres to attain higher combat ratios at the point of decision due to a short time window.
Moreover, there are problems in providing air cover, application of supporting fire, operational logistics and coordination of all combat activities in the tactical battlefield. In whatever format, the night fighting entails excessive expenditure of ammunition and concomitant collateral damage as most of the fire support is predictive in nature. The military operations, accordingly, are conceptualised to seek maximum advantage of the visibility as well as non-visibility spectrum in context of the objectives needed to be achieved by the opposing forces, wherein the timings assume importance.
Therefore, the success in night operations is contingent on the speed of operations to beat the time constraint, which is possible with intensive night-training of the troops and meticulous coordination of the operation by the commanders and the staff. Therefore, ‘operations at night’ is a ‘term of reference’ with inherent positive as well as negative connotations. The modern technology has potential to transform the opaqueness of the dark hours into an optimal visual spectrum for combat purposes.
In that, the technology-driven concept of battlefield transparency has been evolved transforming the design of fighting the battle at night both for external as well as internal security contingencies. Tactically, it is a combination of situational awareness and night enablement, besides the intimate knowledge of the operational plans to build in redundancy, should anything go wrong. While the situational awareness is a function of communication network centricity and its seamless integration with all echelons of the command structure, the night enablement empowers the soldiers in conduct of operations in a well-informed and transparent environment.
It provides a soldier confidence to fight aggressively without the ‘fear of unknown’, leading to morale ascendency, an intangible ingredient in psychological makeup in unpredictable and mercurial combat situations. The night enablement seeks to enhance the positive virtues of night fighting by reducing constraints of bad visibility.
The night enablement at soldiers’ end requires the capability to see the targets at night and fire their weapons accurately, similar to day firing mode. At a higher level, the night enablement of the forces seeks to bring about a paradigm shift in the design of tactical battle because it breaks the exclusivity of day and night as two different time entities with their inherent contrasts into one continuum sans any operational differential. It translates into a mantra of ‘night is an extension of the day’ and so would be the operational dynamics with minimal distinction in its conduct irrespective of time horizon.
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