WEB DESK: Nations wanting to retain their sovereignty and independence have to spend substantial sums for their defence needs, even when defence shields are provided by protective allies.
With most third world countries already over-burdened by crushing external debt, earmarking of large outlays for defence material and manpower is for the most part unaffordable economically. With such an implacable and unrelenting foe as India on our eastern borders and on our western an ungrateful Afghanistan fast becoming one, our financial circumstances must take secondary consideration to making pro-rata commensurate defence expenditures.
While matching gun for gun may not be either feasible or possible, maintaining a proportionate ratio will ensure that numerical superiority does not overwhelm us on our eastern borders where we lack geographical depth. A non-conventional strategy, specially because of India’s “Cold Start”, means making our tactical nuclear weapons virtually our first line of defence to augment our forward defended localities (FDLs) as successfully done in 1965 and in 1971 (at least in West Pakistan).
Our available resources indicate a defence posture based on interior lines of communications with mobility an inherent capability in concentrating troops on short notice for strategic and/or tactical purposes. Our next war with India will be started by Afghanistan, a two-front approach must have provision for containing internal strife.
The areas of operations for the Army include the high mountains, the plains and the desert. Applying the interior lines for defence theory into practice much more assiduously, a well-balanced PAF desperately needs more induction of advanced equipment for judicious deployment.
We will be hard put to stabilise our air posture over the battlefield despite our quality edge in manpower. Economic targets are important only if vital to the enemy’s immediate war effort. The maritime warfare mission statement for our Navy is two-fold (1) to deter off enemy forays onto our shores and (2) to ensure logistics continuity from the sea. We must augment both our submarine fleet and fast missile boat numbers.
Lack of geographical depth necessitates defending critical areas to the last man last round. Troops designated to each sector must have effective command and control. Both 1965 and 1971 should have educated us that forces of HQ 10 Corps defending Azad Kashmir (AK), should be grouped into four Division including the FCNA. For Lahore and Sialkot (one Corps each), Bahawalpur (one Corps) Rahimyar Khan-Pano Aqil belt (one Corps) and Chor-Umerkot-Nabisar-Badin (one Corps) with one division earmarked for Karachi and surrounding area, Peshawar, Quetta, Gujaranwala and Bahawalpur Corps should be grouped into Brigade-sized Task Forces with capability of one Div Task force HQ each. Each Corps should have committed air support provided from earmarked airbases.
A Northern Command (at Pindi), a Central Command (at Gujranwala) and the existing Southern Command at Quetta, with Corps apportioned to reach Command according to the operational requirements. Both Central and Southern Commands should each have Brigade-sized Long Range Groups (LRGs) to carry the fight to the enemy and force him to allocate troops for defence. In the case of Southern Command they should be desert-mobile supported by camel-mounted paramilitary troops.
With war possibly being fought on multiple fronts, the numbers required for our top heavy HQs and logistics needs realistic allocations. Top-heavy structures pose administrative problems during peace, during wartime they can prove to be operationally fatal. All over the world the tendency is to have logistical services over-manned with very few men actually in the field of battle. Making the defence services lean and tough, we must drastically reduce (1) the number of HQs (2) staff in each HQ and (3) the attached ancillary troops.
Better use of our manpower is possible with a better ratio between the men actually doing the fighting and those supporting them. The administrative functions as regards manpower management of the Divisional HQs should be drastically cut down and taken over by the Corps HQ, the support and supply functions are already handled by the Logistics Areas. Battalion, Brigade and Divisional HQs should basically be at Tactical HQs strength. For the Air Force, which supports a single pilot (mainly) in a combat aircraft greater manpower support is necessary but for the Army and Navy certainly not.
Mobility must be focused around concentrated armour formations. The World War II concept of an integral tank regiment in an Infantry Division must cease, the available tank resources being grouped into 8 to 9 heavy Armoured Brigades from the existing inventory.
These would be the core of the LRGs. Modern weaponry allows the anti-tank capability of the Divisional Recce and Support Battalion as well as that weapons integral to each of the nine infantry battalions to be upgraded. Similarly infantry battalions must be made smaller (except in mountainous defences such as AK), three rifle companies instead of four for the same. Each Brigade will thus have one additional Battalion and each Division one additional Brigade.
Our well organized strategic forces should be grouped separately as they are all over the world, becoming a separate Service, headed by a four star general. A “Homeland Security Directorate” reporting to the Army Chief must comprise all paramilitary forces Rangers, Frontier Corps, ASP, DSG etc with the Coast Guards chartered to the Navy. This dedicated and effective single command and control mechanism is a must for protection of strategic assets and countering terrorism.
The command must have a senior three star general, preferably someone having actual combat and internal security experience. Rangers and FC must separate their internal security and border security contingents with modern arms and equipment augmenting their present potential. During wartime there should be a swift transition of Rangers and FC to Brigade Groups. Making NACTA effective, a “Counterterrorism Force” (CTF) can be developed from within this Directorate.
To ensure peace and stability against adventuresome in the 21st century a mean and lean fighting machine must be re-organised to fight the many wars we must contend with in this day and age to survive as an independent entity and not be Indian-ised like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Male. A soldier (a sailor and an airman) is expected to give up his life for his country when required to do so.
In sacrificing their lives our soldiers will save that of countless others and/or save them from a living death under foreign tutelage. For this we need to enable our soldiers to be able to fight 21st century wars.
(This article is Part-I of a two-part series on our defence requirements by this writer)
Source: Business Recorder