July 2, 2013: Pakistan recently responded to the Indian “cold start” military doctrine by announcing reforms that get reserve units into action faster and moves active duty units to the border fast enough to counter the rapidly approaching “cold start” Indian battle groups. This new Pakistani doctrine comes after four years of preparation, training, and studies.
A major problem with this new Pakistani doctrine is that India has never really implemented their cold start doctrine. Although first proposed in 2004, and occasionally discussed since then, the Indian military was never reorganized (into smaller battle groups) to ensure that units closest to the border were ready to join others nearby and rapidly move into Pakistan. The basic idea was to advance 50-75 kilometers into Pakistan and thus establish a better bargaining position when international pressure forced both countries to cease hostilities and talk things over. This new doctrine took advantage of the known slowness of the Pakistani Army in mobilizing for war and moving troops to the border. The new Pakistani reforms are supposed to deal with that. But, like the Indian non-implementation of cold start, the Pakistani response is likely to be just as illusionary.
Meanwhile, Pakistan announced an unexpected and more realistic change in military doctrine last year. The generals officially recognized that internal Islamic terrorist groups are the main threat, not an Indian invasion. This change caused many Islamic conservatives in Pakistan to call for “true Moslems” in the military to rise up and oppose this disturbing policy change. For over thirty years the Pakistani military leadership has supported Islamic radicalism and many Pakistanis are not willing to let go.
Pakistani army units on the Kashmir frontier have, for years, made attacks on Indian troops. These attacks were denied by the Pakistani government but tolerated by the Pakistani military high command because they were part of a two decade old terrorism campaign in Indian Kashmir. The Pakistani army still tolerates this kind of terrorism from Pakistan based terrorists but officially opposes Islamic terrorists who attack Pakistani targets. Allowing more attacks on Indian troops in Kashmir is one way to placate the many pro-terrorism officers and troops in the army.
Both countries still devote a large portion of their military budgets preparing for a land war that neither is interested in fighting. India gains little from invading Pakistan, which is a chaotic failed state that would cost more than India would like to spend to occupy and rehabilitate. Moreover, for the past decade both nations have had the ability to use nuclear weapons on each other. That has forced military leadership to frame every doctrine with the caveat, “as long as there is no nuclear escalation.” Any invasion, no matter how limited, would risk use of nukes by the losing side. Once the nukes fly, both sides lose, big time.