The Two and a Half Front War
Know your enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant of both, you are sure to be defeated in every battle.
Sun Tzu in ‘The Art of War’ talked about the importance of identifying threat, which is vital in devising an offensive / defensive strategy, maneuvering the forces, in their deployment, to fight the “battled and unbattled fears” because a confused army leads to another’s victory.
A threat from Pakistan has existed since 1947, but with recent reports related to Chinese buildup near Pangong Tso lake, even after the disengagement process, seems to only have solidified the military threat from China that they are in this conflict for the long run. This makes it imperative to consider the opening up of a Chinese front in the advent of war with Pakistan.
Chinese Buildup near Finger 8 and Sirjap Complex
Credits: Twitter, @Jack Detsch, Maxar Technologies
The enemy outside and within
In modern warfare, there are battles that are fought not only with States, but also with the enemy inside our own territory. The enemy outside and within creates a ‘Two and a half front war’.
Late General Bipin Rawat’s statement that India is prepared for a ‘Two and a half front war’ was based on threats from Pakistan, China and internal threats like insurgency, cross-border, naxalism, etc. which means that if India goes to war with Pakistan along the Western front, then it could lead to opening up of the Eastern front with China, where both the nations could force India to fight multiple battles at the same time. The ‘half front’ refers to insurgency, cross-border terrorism, naxalism and communal riots. This half front would be a proxy war and an added pressure on the forces to fight ‘the enemy outside and within’.
The probability of a Two-front war has always been considered whenever the country has been in a state of conflict either with Pakistan or with China. During the Indo-Sino conflict in 1962, the then Indian Prime Minister reached out to US-Britain to ensure that Pakistan does not intervene and open a front with India to settle the issue of Kashmir. Just after the unilateral ceasefire imposed by China in 1962, there were high level talks between India and Pakistan on Kashmir also known as Swaran Singh-Bhutto talks in 1962-1963, or during the 1971 war, the probability of Chinese interference was quite certain and therefore India did not intervene in early 1971 and prepared its forces for a winter war to eliminate Chinese intervention.
The advent of contemporary warfare has blurred the lines between war and peace- with this, an internal bellicosity poses a significant threat to the nation’s security. Simultaneous battles being fought on different fronts, with different enemies, increases the cost of war the country has to bear. Biological warfare is one of the threats that pose a great challenge; CDS Gen Bipin Rawat in his last address talked about how biological warfare is turning into a new kind of warfare therefore it’s important for countries to prepare themselves for disasters like the COVID pandemic.
While Military Theaterisation of Indian Armed Forces coupled with diplomatic resolutions, even if cursory, have been, so far, effective in maintaining hostile situations under control across all fronts, there is a need, now more than ever, to realign our resources to suit the transforming landscape of the modern-day battlefield. It is not news that China, and to some extent Pakistan, have been engaging in unrestricted and asymmetric warfare tactics to gain military advantage. With this backdrop, it becomes essential for India to develop multi-domain operational (MDO) capabilities.
The emergence of MDO aims to bridge the demand for dynamic operations that implement military capabilities across emerging operational domains.
Multi-domain operations integrate contemporary structures with innovative technology to make up for weaknesses & susceptibility in particular domains while leveraging strengths in others.
Although it will take considerable deliberations & planning, it is necessary to be able to employ and deploy all aspects of comprehensive national power for India to defeat its external as well as internal adversaries in future battlespaces.
The cost of war for any nation would be high whether financially or in the form of human lives but the fact is that the enemy exists and the threat is ever-evolving, putting a blindfold would make way for misery and therefore knowledge of the enemy cannot be static otherwise. Not knowing the enemy and not knowing yourself would cost us 100 battles.
Chinese Western Theatre Command
Credits: Li Chao
Honoring those who lost their lives in the chopper crash on Dec. 8
Amar Jawan Jyoti
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Mrs Madhulika Rawat
Brigadier LS Lidder
Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh
Group Captain Varun Singh
Wing Commander PS Chauhan
Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh
Junior Warrant Officer Pradeep A
Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das
Naik Gursewak Singh
Naik Jitendra Kumar
Lance Naik Vivek Kumar
Lance Naik B Sai Teja
Satellite images show consolidation of Chinese buildup near Pangong Tso