CLOSING ADDRESS BY GEN VP MALIK, COAS AND CHAIRMAN CHIEFS OF STAFF COMMITTEE
AT A NATIONAL SEMINAR ON
THE CHALLENGE OF LIMITED WAR:
PARAMETERS AND OPTIONS
Ladies and gentleman, Gen VP Malik, COAS and chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee was to have delivered this closing address. He could not, however, be present due to some unavoidable previous engagements, for which he sends his apologies. He was, nevertheless very keen to share his views with the distinguished audience here. I have, therefore, been asked by him to read out his closing remarks.
2. "At the outset, I wish to thank Air Commodore Jasjit Singh and the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis for asking me to attend the Seminar and to deliver the closing address. I also wish to complement the IDSA for holding this Seminar which is, I believe, timely, very topical, and of interest to all those who have concern for our Nation’s security; certainly the Services.
- We are now living in a changed strategic environment, which needs to be analysed and responded to early. Our defence policy politico military strategy, military aim, force structures, even organisations are affected. At the turn of the century, all of us need clarity of thought, and purposefulness, on these issues, as never before, with time at a premium.
- I believe by now we are all agreed that, there is greater likelihood of limited wars in the future than that of all out or general wars. The rationale for limited wars is economic considerations, risk of high casualties, international pressure and the nuclear factor. Also limited wars could take place with little warning. It is axiomatic, therefore, that we would have to be better prepared and at higher state of readiness than hither-to-fore. I feel, therefore, that security should rightfully be given due consideration in the formulation of our policies, particularly, foreign policy.
- Limited war is characterised by limitations, which tend to control its conduct and space. It could be limited in time, geographical area, or force level. In the Indian perspective, when we talk of a limited war, it could range from the kind we have been engaged in on the icy heights of Saltore Ridge in Siachen since the Eighties, the Kargil war in the recent past, to future wars, which could be fought by us in confined sector(s) along our long frontiers. It is not possible to outline the exact contours of any future war with great deal of certainty but what I am sure of is that planning for all future contingencies should be joint, involving all the three Services. Even if one or more Service is not involved at the outset, contingency planning must include all services.
- There is also a linkage between deterrence and escalation. We were able to keep Kargil war limited primarily due to nuclear as well as conventional deterrence. Deterrence has many ingredients where in the capability to wage a successful conventional war is the most important. In fact war may well remain limited because of credible deterrence.
- The whole scope and conduct of limited war would be governed by the `end state’ desired by the side that precipitated it. It will, thereafter, follow the well-knows `ends-ways-means’ loop. The escalation ladder would be carefully climbed in a carefully controlled ascent by both protagonists. In exercising such control, politico-diplomatic factors would play an important part. Military operations, diplomacy and domestic environment would have to be orchestrated with fine judgement for a successful decisive outcome. Here we see once again the close relationship between security policy and foreign policy with the need for the former to lead the latter.
8. All that I have stated thus far was evident in the way the Kargil war was brought to a successful culminating point. Though Pakistan escalated it from the proxy war level, we tackled it at the level of limited war. Politico-military-diplomatic aspects were carefully and continuously monitored; contingency plans evolved by all the three Services. There was complete synergy and consensus between the various organs of the Government; political control, military actions- from higher direction to execution in the field- and pro-active diplomacy. The media too played an important and responsible role. That is how it should always be. Just like the all out war, limited war also demands such a harmonious blending; may be a bit more because time and space for manoeuvre are `limited’.
- Let us also remember that politico-military strategy for every limited war would be different. Strategy adopted for Kargil, including the Line of Control constraints, may not be applicable to the next war. In all limited wars, the only commonality would invariably by the national aim and objectives.
- Surprise and unpredictability are basic elements of any war. Therefore, notwithstanding the trend towards limited wars. It would be prudent for the nation to remain operationally prepared for the entire spectrum of war, from proxy war to an all out war, viewing it all the while against an NBC backdrop. This is where a close and specialized monitoring becomes so essential. Expert control over the escalation ladder to anticipate contingencies as they emerge is a job for the specialists. Just as in any other field, the days of `generalists only’ are over; more and more of the generalists have to be replaced by experts in various fields who, working together, assess, order and then re-assess the evolving situations.
- Limited war is the trend since all out war seems unlikely. A synergised politico-military-diplomatic approach is essential from the very beginning, not only for preparation of all types of plans including contingency plans but also for correct and continuous assessment. Synergised approach is also vital since future wars would inevitably have a backdrop of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. We should be willing to change our structures where necessary and integrate experts in our decision-making processes at all levels. Kargil has shown many lessons on the need of integration of security setup and the conduct of war. Yet we like to persist with a status quo attitude. There is need to put in place a more efficient, time-responsive and effective apparatus. I think the value of this Seminar is in its intellectual contribution in making such an apparatus a reality.
- I avail this opportunity to complement and thank the Director and all members of the IDSA as well as all participants once again for holding the Seminar and for its successful conduct.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen.