Muhammad Ali Baig
SIR Julian Corbett, a British maritime strategist said during World War-I that “doctrine is the soul of warfare”. By the virtue of this definition one can judge the importance and relevance of doctrine with that of war. Strategists have always strived hard to devise a better strategy flanked by superior tactics. In the heat of the battle, the Clausewitzian “Fog of War” and “Friction” clouds the judgment of leaders which may often lead to military disasters. In the book “Military Misfortunes – The Anatomy of Failure of War” (1990), Cohen and Gooch argue that one of the many lessons that one can learn from the defeat of France at the hands of Germans in 1940, during the Second World War, is the superior doctrine and training of the Wehrmacht.
The Blitzkrieg or lightning war was though not the official doctrine of the German Armed Forces during the Second World War but it significantly guided the forces in shaping their actions and decisions and to concentrate their momentum in single direction to achieve operational level objectives that ultimately translated in strategic victories. Blitzkrieg doctrine ensured Germans of such victories with unprecedented speed and agility that paralyzed and psyched-out the enemies of the Third Reich. Some analysts believe that the doctrinal superiority of the German Forces was the decisive edge that yielded its impact on WW-II.
Similarly, Shock and Awe – Rapid Dominance is the most advanced and the current doctrine of the U.S. Military. It was conceived in 1996 by Dr. Harlan Ullman at National Defence University, Washington D.C. This cutting-edge technology oriented doctrine enabled U.S. Military to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan (2001) and Saddam’s regime in Iraq (2003). The U.S. achieved almost all the military objectives in both of these countries in a dramatically less period of time due to the advanced and sophisticated doctrine. Shock and Awe was preceded by AirLand Battle doctrine. United States Marine Corps “Warfighting” manual is another example of the doctrine in explaining the philosophy and function of the fighting force. Perhaps this is the reason that U.S. Military is among the best fighting forces on this planet. In Pakistan’s case, it may keep the nuclear doctrine vague in order to keep India confused about Islamabad’s use of nuclear weapons. But the conventional forces require a viable, flexible, mobile and manoeuvrable doctrine to fight terrorism and to respond to the Indian Cold Start Doctrine (CSD). CSD was preceded by Sundarji Doctrine. For conventional war there must be a published doctrine which may also employ the use of tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) just like the US-led NATO’s doctrine of AirLand Battle during the Cold War.
CSD apart from its structural and organizational faults is still a danger and it needs to be responded with a similar but more intense and aggressive military doctrine that may take the conventional continental and air war to the seas and beyond. The current Pak Armed Forces and their numerical numbers and equipment though is not sufficient to meet the requisite level of defence needs but a doctrine can enable them to move and operate in such a manner that they can overwhelm the Indian Cold Start Doctrine. This doctrine will also enable the different branches of the armed forces to achieve synergy among themselves in offensive and defensive operations. The doctrine may refine the role of Pakistan Air Force as Close-Air Support provider and Strategic Bombing of enemy’s infrastructure and large population areas. It will also bring navy in a more active manner to manage war situation.
Pakistan may ignore and avoid war, but Leon Trotsky asserted that “while you may not be interested in war, but the war is interested in you”. Since the World War-II majority of wars have been fought on the operational level and were completely limited in their scope. This growing limited nature of the war needs superior warfare tactics. A doctrine must be in accordance with the terrain and weather conditions of the region of potential military operations. In one’s opinion and research, Pak Armed Forces apart from their unmatched professionalism and determination, need a military doctrine to use and exhibit their skills, abilities and capabilities in a much refined manner.
The TNWs and cruise missiles give a considerable advantage to be used in a doctrine for conventional deterrence. It puts heavy pressure on National Defence University, Islamabad, to devise, plan and present a highly flexible, manoeuvrable and mobile doctrine for the military just like what American National Defence University, Washington D.C. and Indian Training and Command Doctrine, did.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.