Indian conduct on military doctrine

The Indian Army has been in Botswana for almost four decades and they were here for good reasons. Their objective was to train Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and provide technical assistance. Frankly speaking, the BDF has grown to what we know it to be through the guidance of the Indian military.

Indian soldiers are good in all aspects and it certainly was not a bad idea to engage them in this critical area of technical support. They were not only in Botswana but were spread around Africa and were or are still found in countries such as Lesotho.  I personally think that the relationship between BDF and the Indian military should have ended in the days of Lt Gen Khama as commander.

However, it is now history that the Indians were here. But it is this history that has shaped the way our military conducts operation. The influence that has occurred in the past long term relationship will have an immense influence in the way our military doctrine is shaped.

But what is it that I am looking for in this topic of doctrine? I cannot overemphasise that for our military to operate in the absence of a sound doctrine, we are heading into the dark abyss.


Last week The Business Weekly and Review carried a story on how BDF was born and that seems to help my argument for a sound doctrine. Following on the story, it comes to light that our military outfit was established based on personal wants rather than national interests. From what we read and what we see on the ground, the one family has continued to benefit from procurement contracts. Military procurement contracts are always laced with corrupt practices and this is one area where the nation needs to tread with trepidation and much more care.

Taking into account what the state of the Indian military is at the moment, we find their philosophy to the conduct of military operations very much interesting. The Indians have a single enemy in a true sense. Their concerns are always on neighbouring Pakistan.

India has reviewed its military doctrine as far back as 2004 and last year they had a further review. This makes theirs the most current of the few I have come across.

The Indian military doctrine is distinctly defined as a tool that has to be understood and be put into use by “laymen, politicians and military commanders.” It outlines the manner in which the Unified Command functions. By the way, the Indian military comprises of the Army, Navy and the Air Force. Botswana only has the Army even though I hold a very strong opinion that by now we should be having a Unified Command of the Army and the Air Force. BDF’s Air Arm is a fully- fledged Air Force when taking into account the amount of equipment in their inventory and the level of their facilities.

When a country develops a military doctrine, it takes into account the existing threat and that which may be envisaged. In the case of India, they have a dual threat from China in the east and Pakistan in the west. But what matters most is the fact that a high level of attention is given to the western frontier and very little is given to the border with China.

China and India went to war in 1962 and it seems at the current moment the two countries have buried the hatchet. However, Pakistan it seems, bears the label of “eternal enemy.” Anything done by the Indian military is done with the focus of the western neighbour in mind.

In a huge and working democracy like that of India, the military remains an asset of the people and not the other way round. Every Indian citizen knows and understands the reason why they have a standing military establishment. This is not the case with Botswana. If one morning an announcement can be made that the military is being abolished, there will be chaos because the level of civil disobedience will be at epic proportions. The people love and cherish their military.

The new Indian military doctrine is dominated by what is referred to as the Cold Start Doctrine. This is focused on how the country’s military can retaliate against aggression from neighbouring Pakistan. The review of their doctrine was aimed at retaliating with what is referred to as Blitzkrieg. Blitzkrieg is mainly defined by speed and a destructive mass of force. That is how the Germans won battles in the Second World War.

Because Pakistan has defined herself as an official sponsor of terrorism, retaliatory measures need to be as stern as they can get. The Indian military doctrine here puts more emphases on immense firepower. In fact Cold Start came in as a result of the attacks on parliament in the recent past. This was further reinforced by the attacks on a Mumbai hotel.

It is clearly unquestionable that Pakistan needs strong punishment. The military doctrine outlines that this punishment should come with an element of surprise. This is made possible by strategic and contingency planning by the Indian military which is allowed by their doctrine. So, India’s defence posture is to be offensive in their defence.

The last time India fought outside of its borders was in Burma way back in World War Two. So they pay little attention to external security issues and instead they give great attention to their immediate border in the west. One would not be totally wrong to mention that the India doctrinal concept is just based on Pakistan.

Their doctrine helps define their military capabilities. It (the doctrine) has helped them to be prepared to fight low intensity conflicts such as those perpetuated in Kashmere and even the high intensity ones where high calibre weapons are used. And so, what has the BDF learnt from this elaborate military doctrine?

Editor's Comment
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