Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 3

In the first part of his column, Colonel Anil A Athale (retd) said India's indifference to strategic

and defence requirements can cost it dear.

In the final part, he explains why India must move from minimum deterrence to a policy of
flexible response.

The concept of deterrence or prevention of conflict as opposed to defence that implies actual conflict,
was born in 1950s and 1960s when the world woke up to the fact of radiation damage caused by
nuclear weapons and the super powers weapon stockpiles reached the level where there was 500
tonnes of TNT explosive for every living human being. The Mumbai carnage of 1993 and 2006 needed
a less than 200 kg.

Deterrence as a concept is not new to warfare. Countries created and maintained armed forces of
sufficient strength so that a would-be adversary should think twice before aggressing.

In the nuclear era it became a central concept as failure of deterrence meant nuclear war, a war that
all agreed would be catastrophic. Deterrence is a combination of 'capability' and 'credibility'.

Capability depends on the size and effectiveness of arsenal while credibility is dependent on the kind of
delivery systems, missiles/aircraft/submarines et al, their range, accuracy and reliability. But in addition
credibility is also a 'political' factor and a matter of perception.

A nation's past behaviour, its societal cohesion, efficiency of its government and the 'will' of the nation
to strike back!

When the sum total of capability and credibility of two nations more or less equals and cancels out
each other, the deterrence becomes mutual and is a factor of stability and leads to peace. This is what
happened during most of the Cold War era.

But deterrence or nuclear deterrence is not omnipotent. Even during the Cold War era, when it worked,
proxy conflicts between the two superpowers continued -- be it in Korea, Vietnam or in Afghanistan.
Thus nuclear deterrence is issue specific -- it prevents a direct nuclear war between adversaries and
possibly a direct conventional conflict at best.

But it is also country specific -- what may deter say Sri Lanka may not deter Bangladesh.

Second strike capability and minimum deterrence

The concept of second strike capability was a 'situation' that was born out of the technological progress
in making nuclear delivery vehicles, missiles, immune to a surprise first strike. The land-based missiles
were placed in concrete silos, put on an aircraft and on nuclear submarines. This was also contributed
by the inter-services rivalry.

The fact that a country was capable of absorbing a first strike and still able to inflict retaliatory damage
is sufficient to deter the attack in the first place, made the nuclear 'balance' stable and led to armed
peace between the two superpowers during the Cold War.

Out of the nuclear powers only France propagated the concept of exclusively 'second strike' based
strategy and 'minimum deterrence'. The French Force de Frappe was structured in such a way that it
could inflict limited damage on the likely adversary -- the erstwhile Soviet Union. President Charles de
Gaulle often described his 'independent' nuclear force as force of 'dissuasion', to dissuade the enemy;
not deter him.

This then got the misleading nomenclature of 'minimum deterrence', a contradiction in terms.
Deterrence and especially nuclear deterrence, is an 'absolute' concept and there is nothing like partial
or minimum deterrence (as there is no partial pregnancy or partial rape!).

There is only one kind of deterrence -- adequate deterrence that succeeds.

Given the close strategic relations between France and the US, there is every reason to speculate that
the creation of 'independent' French force was an American ploy to enhance credibility of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation doctrine of 'use' of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

Throughout the Cold War, the US was worried that its own threat was not credible since the Soviet's
felt that the US would not risk itself for the sake of defence of Europe.

In addition, the French 'minimum' deterrence seemed attractive and successful since it was thought to
be a 'tipping' force in balance of terror.

Neither of these conditions exist today in case of India and aping the French concept and relying on no
first use and second strike capability to deter is a recipe for disaster in waiting.

Pakistan that is an economic basket case with rudimentary industry, a crumbling society and torn by
internal strife ought not to have been a threat to a nation of one billion plus with the world's second
fastest growing economy, sound industrial base and functioning democracy.

The Pakistani threat is essentially a proxy Chinese threat and consequence of insensitive American

Dealing with Pakistan without dealing with the 'source' of this threat is like applying band-aid to counter
AIDS. Today China is successfully using Pakistan and North Korea as proxies against India and Japan

From defunct minimum deterrence to 'flexible response'

India has to fashion a policy to stop the Americans from bolstering Pakistani capabilities as a pay-off
for help in Afghanistan. India will need to use its diplomacy and economic clout as well as its position
as the only counterweight to China to make sure that the Americans do not repeat their folly of the first
Afghan war when it turned blind eye to Pakistan's nuclearisation and also helped build conventional

Pakistan is not 'core' US interest and the influential Indian lobby in the US ought to bring in moderation
in American military help. Currently, the US is oblivious to Indian concerns as it feels that India is in a
'Tina' (There is no alternative) situation.

Our diplomacy ought to create alternative alliance possibilities to counter this.

In addition a more assertive, not aggressive, posture vis-a-vis China would help the US listen to us as
only that would convince it that India would indeed be a strategic asset in future when the US has to
battle Chinese hegemony. Much greater co-ordination with Japan, which faces a similar threat is the
need of the hour.

Dealing with China is more problematic. The present Chinese posture of using the Pakistani proxy
against India is a no risk-high pay-off strategy. Without specifically targeting China in the Cold War
era mode, India must develop 'force de dissuasion '. The logic used by France is appropriate in this

India has already taken the first step towards this by launching its nuclear submarine. Let there be no
mistake, the nuclear submarine-based weapons are of no relevance for Pakistan. The only conceivable
target for these would be the Chinese Pacific coast -- the heart of the Chinese industrial area.

Side by side with this India must create a force of close to at least 10 IRBMs (Intermediate Range
Ballistic Missiles) capable of reaching major Chinese cities. Giving them rail/road mobility would
enhance their 'second strike' credibility.
The current Indian nuclear posture vis-a-vis Pakistan is 'passive, rigid and all or nothing' strategy. To
wean away Pakistan from playing the cat's paw to outside powers, India has to create a force that
would threaten total assured destruction of the Pakistani heartland.

Once it sinks into the Pakistani heads the cost of that playing the game of others is its own survival, we
may see a change in their mindset.

Indian strategic thinking has been reduced to chanting of the mantra of 'no first use' and second strike
capability. But we have an enemy that has not given a 'no first use' pledge and relies on calculated
irrationality (the mad mullah image) as a strategy. We have to factor in these asymmetries in our
approach to nuclear strategy.

It ought to be made clear to Pakistan that India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, but also not
be second!

Let me explain. Let us imagine a scenario of a repeat of 26/11 like attack. Our satellites detect Pakistan
moving its F-16s to forward bases and begin arming of its missiles! Are we then to wait for the first
nuclear bomb to fall on Delhi before we retaliate?

This strike in response to Pakistani provocations should be based on Force A -- Prithvi missiles and
Bofors 155 mm guns. These should have tactical nuclear weapons or ERWs (Enhanced Radiation
Weapons or so-called Neutron Bombs).

Force B -- The air force component and Agni/Brahmos missiles should target the likely locations of the
Pakistani nuclear forces. These could have boosted fission devices in the range of 40 kilotons or more.

The primary target for Force A would be the 150 km narrow strip along our border that is the Pakistani
heartland in terms of population. Force B should target distant cities, airfields and missile sites as well
as nuclear establishments.

To sum up, India should shift to a 'flexible response' from the current no first use and minimum
deterrence posture. Against China it would be a strategy of dissuasion based on a survivable second
strike force that could threaten Chinese high value targets.

In the case of Pakistan, the flexible response strategy would be based on ambiguous no first or second
use and a 1,000 point targeting with the aim of annihilation of that entity.

It is obvious that in the case of Pakistan at least we have to have a nuclear war fighting and winning
capability -- it may sound bizarre and completely heartless to think of it for we must expect that a few
Pakistani nuclear weapons will survive and reach our cities.

But given the state of that country and its self image as well as our own folly of passivity, reality is far
worse and being unprepared is a sin that future generations will not forgive us.

Colonel Anil A Athale (retd) is the Chhattrapati Shivaji Fellow at the United Services Institution
and coordinator of the Pune-based think-tank Inpad.

Colonel Anil A Athale (retd)