Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

Rethinking the defence doctrine


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3-Rethinking the defence doctrine

Indian Army’s prevailing doctrine

  • The Army’s prevailing doctrine is designed to deter and defend against major conventional invasions.
  • This determines how the Army is organised, what equipment it operates, and where it is deployed.
  • The Army expects to win wars by launching its own punitive offensives after an enemy attack, to either destroy enemy forces or seize enemy land.
  • The Army expected that any Chinese bid to capture Indian territory would come as a major conventional invasion.

Miscalculation about Chinese intentions

  • Chinese army crossed the LAC in several places nearly simultaneously, and in larger numbers than usual.
  • Still, the Indian Army probably expected the stand-off would repeat the pattern of years past: China would make its point with a temporary transgression and retreat after talks.
  • But China has no interest in launching a major conventional invasion, but this is not just a typical probe either.
  • China’s quick land grab looks increasingly permanent, like an attempt to change the border without triggering war.

How to address such security threat

  • Addressing this type of security threat requires preventing, not reversing, such fait accompli land grabs.
  • This requires a fundamental shift in the Army’s doctrinal thinking.
  • This fundamental shift involves strategies revolving around punishing the adversary, to strategies that prevent its adventurism in the first place.

Way forward

  • Surveillance: Doctrinal change involves a greater investment in persistent wide-area surveillance to detect and track adversary moves, devolved command authority to respond to enemy aggression.
  • Rehearsed procedures: It would also involve rehearsed procedures for an immediate local response without higher commanders’ approval.
  • Detection: The military must be able to detect adversary action and react quickly, even pre-emptively, to stop attempted aggression from becoming a fait accompli.
  • Delegation of power: In peacetime, local commanders must have the authority and to take anticipatory action.
  • The late-August incident at Chushul demonstrates how this can and should work.


The challenge for India is to learn the right lessons and be alert to similar tactics in other regions, like the Indian Ocean. It must not rely on doctrines forged in wars half a century ago.

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