Dr Muhammad Khan
GENERAL Bipin Rawat, the incumbent Indian Army Chief has given a new concept of ‘Fighting Two-and-a-Half Front War’. Just a few days back, General Rawat while visiting the military formations, deployed in IOK said in a statement that, “The Indian Army is fully ready for a two-and-a-half front (China, Pakistan and internal security requirements simultaneously) war.” This statement remained in the headlines of almost all Indian media channels and a point of debate among the intellectual class of India.
Earlier in 2009, a former Indian Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor conceived the idea of fighting a ‘two front war’ against Pakistan and China simultaneously. At that time, the two front war idea was debated in depth by serving and former senior military officers and strategists and later put into quiescent for years, until General Bipin Rawat retrieved it from the archives, placed it into a new file cover and once again made it a point of public debate, as an ‘old wine in new bottle’ on January 4, 2017, four days after taking over the command of Indian Army.
Former Military commanders and Indian think tanks even questioned General Deepak Kapoor’s bravado of fighting a two front war in the South Asian region. This intent in fact sordidly astounded the world regarding the future Indian intents at that time. What propelled the General for the posturing offensively at a point of time once there was a perceptible calm along the borders of the unveiled Indian adversaries; Pakistan and People’s Republic of China? Even today, there is a peace along the Sino-India borders, the LAC and it is India that has initiated aggression all along the LoC and Working Boundary.
In his first interaction with Indian media, General Rawat said, “The Two Front War is a real scenario. Much has changed from before, in terms of our capabilities — The Army, Navy and IAF are now jointly very much prepared for such an eventuality.” Two months later, on March 5, 2017, General Rawat went into calculation of the level of forces and threat perception which also included an overall scenario in and around South Asian region. General Rawat became little sceptical and said in another statement that, “India is perfectly capable of winning a two-front war against China and Pakistan. But consider this: the Chinese military has two million active personnel; Pakistan has 600,000, while India has 1.3 million. The math does not seem to favour India.” The General boasted well to deceive the masses and men in uniform that, he will win this two front war, but got into a self-contradiction of threat perception vis-à-vis potential of Indian Army.
The complexity arose after calculation of the level of forces, Indian Army may confront in such a scenario further tangled General Rawat in a mental clash. He perhaps reached a conclusion that, his boasting of fighting a two front war does not fit into the strategic calculus of real war scenario. Like an irresolute general, Bipin Rawat started issuing political statements and ill-conceived strategies to counter peaceful struggle of Kashmiris against Indian occupation in IOK.
Awarding COAS Commendation card to a Major, involved in gross human rights violation in IOK, made him a very controversial Army Chief in the history of Indian Army. His unceasing political statements and reprimanding strategies in IOK compelled the people like, Sandeep Dikshit, a former Congress MP to say, “Army chief General Bipin Rawat was making public statements like a ‘sadak ka gunda’. These remarks initiated a new debate about the credibility and professionalism of General Rawat. In less than six months of his command of Indian Army, the General seems to be issuing messy and controversial statements and conceiving vague strategies, may prove disastrous for the region and India itself, if put into practice. It is worth mentioning that, Indian Air Force (IAF) lacks the capability of supporting the Indian Army operations, if it opts to go for a two front war, what to talk of two-and –a half front war. According to Air Marshal BS Dhanoa, Vice Chief of Air Staff, IAF numbers were not adequate to fully execute an air campaign involving a two-front war. He said, “Our numbers are not adequate to fully execute an air campaign in a two-front scenario. Probability of a two-front scenario is an appreciation which you need to do. But, are the numbers adequate? No. The squadrons are winding down,”
An ambitious General Rawat is also adding a new strike corps, 17 Strike Corps, for operating in the mountain region/ warfare. He said, “It is being raised from scratch. The recruitments are on. As it is, to prepare an Army soldier it takes about three years from recruitment process to training and then orienting and finally their deployment.”
Appreciating the nuclear dimension of any future warfare in this part of the world (with India, Pakistan and China as nuclear powers) neither General Deepak Kapoor’s two front war nor General Rawat’s two and a half front war seems realistic. It is beyond perception that, why Indian military commanders like Deepak Kapoor and Bipin Rawat conceive such unformulated strategies, which are impracticable even to start with. In practical terms, Indian Army has not been able to control the peaceful demonstrators (stone-palters and freedom fighters in IOK, where its 700,000 troops are involved in massive human rights violations ever since 1990.
Instead of being rational and realistic, General Rawat is trying to raise the moral of highly demoralized troops in IOK through awards and rewards to officers like Major Leetul Gogoi, which has now attracted the global condemnation of Amnesty International and human rights organizations. In the process of self-deceiving the Indian masses, an over ambitious military commander like Rawat and highly imprudent political leadership like Narendra Modi may push the region into turmoil, where India would be the first country to crumble.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.