At a press conference in New Delhi today, army chief Gen VK Singh, all but admitted the existence of the "Cold Start" doctrine
By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 13th Jan 12
Army chief, General VK Singh, strongly defended the Indian Army’s performance over this last year, brushing off questions about his date of birth. Asserting that the standoff with the defence ministry (MoD) “has not impacted my vision for the army,” the chief highlighted the army’s achievements, mentioning the 8 officers and 57 soldiers who died in counterinsurgency operations last year.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi in the run-up to Army Day on 15th Jan, Gen Singh declined comment on the ongoing civil-military crisis in Pakistan. He outlined, however, the continuing terror threat from that country, stating: “There are 42 terrorist camps, some in POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) and some in other areas,” which continue to pump in “well-armed, well-trained, foreign and other terrorists” into J&K.
In contrast, Gen Singh was notably diplomatic about China, referring to “friendly relations” that invariably adhered to the 1993 Agreement on Peace and Tranquillity between India and China. He glossed over a recent incident, in which a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) patrol entered Indian territory on 13th July 11 at Yangtse, near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, and damaged a 200-foot long wall that Indian soldiers had constructed. Referring to this incident, which Defence Minister AK Antony described in parliament on 21st December, the army chief said, “We consider it a childish act. It is just like scoring a point, like one child coming and taking away another child’s toy.”
Gen Singh came closer than any other government official has to describing the widely speculated Indian warfighting doctrine that is popularly referred to as “Cold Start”. This doctrine learns from Operation Parakram, when the military mobilised for war against Pakistan after the terror strike on the Parliament in New Delhi on 13th Dec 01. After taking weeks to reach its launch pads along the border, India’s military found Pakistan’s forces deployed and ready for battle. The new doctrine allegedly aims at launching attacks without prolonged mobilisation.
“There is nothing like Cold Start. But we have a “proactive strategy” which takes steps in a proactive manner so that we can achieve what our doctrines and strategies [demand],” admitted Gen Singh.
“A lot of changes have taken place since 2001; and in the next two years even more changes will take place. We have done studies and made a plan to speed up deployments. We will have some new cantonments, forward locations… and changes in the method of mobilisation. From Parakram, there are a lot of changes. What we did in 15 days, we now do in 7; and will do in 3 days in the future,” explained the chief.
Asked about India’s military relations with Myanmar, Gen Singh said he aimed at assuaging hurt feelings amongst small regional countries about Indian neglect. “Some small countries think that we don’t take them along [with us]. I wanted to reassure them that we respect them… no matter how small.”