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Empowering India’s Military: Navigating the Complexities of Multi-Domain Warfare

Introduction:

In an era characterized by rapid technological advancements, the Indian Army is taking bold strides towards adapting and equipping itself for the challenges of multi-domain warfare on the modern battlefield. As the nature of conflicts evolves, incorporating not just traditional land operations but also air, sea, space, and cyberspace domains, the need for a versatile and technology-driven military becomes imperative. India’s military forces are diligently working to develop capabilities that will enable them to excel in these dynamic, technology-dominated battlefields of the future.

The Indian Army, the third-largest in the world by personnel count, is undergoing a significant transformation to meet the challenges of multi-domain warfare in the era of rapid technological evolution. However, despite its size, the Army acknowledges the need for a paradigm shift to enhance its capabilities for optimal performance in future battlefields dominated by technology and spanning diverse domains.

Recognizing the Need for Modernization:

The landscape of security threats faced by India is extensive, ranging from asymmetric warfare to conventional conflicts, cyber threats, electronic warfare, and beyond. The evolving nature of warfare demands that the Indian Army keeps pace with advancements in technology and prepares for a wide spectrum of scenarios. As the Defence Minister emphasizes, defence preparedness goes beyond the sheer numbers of personnel and platforms; it requires a holistic approach that encompasses critical infrastructure, research and development, industry collaboration, intelligence, and strategic planning.

Responding to PLA’s Advanced Capabilities:

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) poses a multifaceted threat, combining kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities. The PLA’s Strategic Support Force (SSF) showcases advanced non-kinetic capabilities, including space, cyber, and electronic warfare.

The PLA’s impressive non-kinetic capability is amalgamated under the new Strategic Support Force (SSF). The SSF, comprising space, cyber, electronic, psychological and other technical capabilities, has two tasks: to support joint operations, and to independently paralyse and sabotage enemy’s command, control, communication, computer and intelligence systems. The PLA’s kinetic capabilities include its army, air force and navy domains, reinforced by precision long-range cruise and hypersonic missiles, unmanned combat aerial vehicles and directed energy.

These  capabilities will be complemented with the second wave of technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), partially autonomous unmanned systems, robotics and human-machine interface, under China’s New Generation AI Development Plan. The AI will help the PLA increase the speed of conventional operations and overwhelm the enemy war-fighting loop – called the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) – to ensure the enemy remains defensive and unbalanced in war.

The Indian Army acknowledges the need to counter these capabilities through a combination of modern technologies, joint operations, and effective command and control.

Strategic Vision:

India’s commitment to military modernization is underlined by a strategic vision that recognizes the changing nature of warfare. The Armed Forces have embarked on a journey to enhance their operational capabilities across multiple domains, emphasizing the integration of cutting-edge technology, robust communication systems, and advanced weaponry. As Lieutenant General Philip Campose notes, modernization is not just a preference but a necessity for the Indian Army to effectively address the multidimensional security challenges that India faces.

India`s defence preparedness is the “best deterrent” and will guarantee peace in the region, said Indian Defence Minister. Defence preparedness is not simply the aggregation of military personnel, platforms, sensors and weapon systems. It is the readiness of the armed forces to undertake a wide variety of tasks involving individual and collective training, experience, skill to operate military platforms and equipments in different combat scenarios.

Land Warfare Doctrine-2018: A Blueprint for Transformation:

The Indian Army has unveiled its Land Warfare Doctrine-2018, outlining key strategies to address evolving security challenges. The doctrine emphasizes the creation of integrated battle groups (IBGs), combining infantry, armoured, artillery, air-defense, and support units for enhanced flexibility in conventional combat operations. Each IBG, led by a two-star officer, aims to optimize force application and bridge the gap between brigades and divisions in size.

In response to multifaceted threats, the Indian Army is focusing on cross-domain capabilities, bolstering jointness, and optimizing resources for robust military responses. The doctrine underscores the need to refine strategies for addressing border disputes with Pakistan and China, as well as combating state-sponsored terrorism. Specifically, the Indian Army commits to handling deliberate transgressions by China’s PLA across the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) firmly and in accordance with existing agreements.

The Land Warfare Doctrine-2018 reflects the Indian Army’s commitment to dealing with challenges arising from active border disputes and state-sponsored terrorism. It also highlights the army’s determination to counter deliberate transgressions and maintain a strong posture in the face of evolving security threats

Doctrine Focus: Information Warfare and Intelligence:

The Land Warfare Doctrine underscores the importance of information warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. Precise and decisive deployment of long-range vectors, strategic assets, and non-contact assets are deemed essential for maximum impact on the adversary. Emphasizing theaterization of critical assets and enhancing electronic warfare capabilities are integral components of the Indian Army’s strategy.

Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs): The future Indian Army will be structured around agile and mobile IBGs, each combining infantry, armor, artillery, engineers, and air defense units. This integrated approach allows for swift decision-making and coordinated action across domains.

Multi-Domain Operations:

The contemporary battlefield is no longer confined to traditional domains but extends to cyberspace, space, low-intensity conflicts, and information warfare. Adversaries employ advanced capabilities such as anti-satellite technology, cyber attacks, and autonomous AI-based weapons. To counter these threats, the Indian Army recognizes the need for integrated multidomain responses, robust command and control, and the incorporation of modern AI tools into military operations.

The Indian armed forces will have to operate in an environment that is rapidly reshaped by turn of geopolitical events and advancements in technologies that will require flexibility in organisational structures as well as in mindsets, chief of defence staff General Anil Chauhan said. “Our organisational structures must be capable of multidomain operations… They must be structured for integrated rapid response through a correct balance between contact, non-contact, kinetic, as well as nonkinetic options. They must be flexible and adaptive enough to absorb and harness niche, emerging, and destructive technology,” he said.

The concept of multi-domain operations acknowledges that future conflicts will transcend traditional boundaries. In this context, the Indian Army is redefining its operational doctrine to seamlessly integrate land, air, sea, space, and cyber capabilities. The focus is on achieving a synchronized and complementary approach, ensuring a holistic response to potential threats.

1. Enhanced Cyber Capabilities:

As cyber threats become increasingly prevalent, the Indian Army is investing in bolstering its cyber capabilities. Cyber warfare readiness involves not only defending against cyber attacks but also the ability to conduct offensive operations when necessary.

Recognizing the critical role of cyberspace in modern warfare, the Army is strengthening its cybersecurity defenses and offensive capabilities. This includes protecting its own networks, disrupting enemy operations, and potentially launching cyberattacks in response to threats. A robust cyber framework will serve as a force multiplier, securing critical military infrastructure and disrupting adversaries’ capabilities.

2. Space Dominance:

Recognizing the strategic importance of space, India is actively working to enhance its capabilities in this domain. From satellite-based communication and navigation to surveillance and reconnaissance, the Indian Army is leveraging space assets to gain a comprehensive situational awareness that is crucial for effective decision-making in multi-domain operations.

3. Integrated Air and Missile Defense:

To counter airborne threats, the Indian Army is developing an integrated air and missile defense system. This includes advanced radar systems, anti-aircraft missiles, and other technologies designed to neutralize incoming threats. A robust air defense system is vital for safeguarding both ground forces and critical infrastructure.

Towards Technological Superiority:

A technologically oriented army is the need of the hour, and the Indian Army is making strides toward achieving this goal. Collaboration with academia, proposals for specialized cadres like the Army Technology Leaders, and initiatives like the Army Design Bureau signify a commitment to bridging the technological expertise gap. The amendments in defence procurement processes, emphasizing speedy acquisition of cutting-edge technology, are indicative of the Indian Army’s focus on staying ahead in the technological race.

The Indian Army’s pursuit of modernization extends to embracing the latest technological advancements. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics are being integrated into military operations to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and decision-making capabilities. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and autonomous systems play a pivotal role in surveillance, reconnaissance, and even combat scenarios.

DRDO: The Pillar of Technological Advancements:

The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) plays a pivotal role in advancing India’s technological capabilities. With a focus on Network Centric Systems, Air Dominance, Autonomous Systems, Directed Energy Weapons, and more, DRDO contributes significantly to realizing the Defence Vision. Its dedication to research, development, and the production of world-class weapon systems aligns with the Indian Army’s pursuit of self-reliance in defence systems.

In June 2023, DRDO successfully test-fired the Agni-V Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, showcasing its capability to carry a nuclear warhead over a range exceeding 5,000 km. This achievement significantly strengthens India’s nuclear deterrence capabilities.

In January 2024, DRDO achieved another feat with the successful test-firing of the Akash-NG Air Defence System. An upgraded version of the Akash air defence system, it boasts improved range, accuracy, and altitude coverage. The system can engage multiple targets simultaneously, providing enhanced protection against aerial threats.

DRDO has also made substantial progress in the development of the Tejas MkII Light Combat Aircraft, an improved version of the Tejas LCA. Expected to enter service by 2029, the Tejas MkII offers enhanced range, payload capacity, and stealth capabilities, thereby contributing significantly to the Indian Air Force’s fighter jet capabilities.

In addition to these achievements, DRDO has actively contributed to the Indian Army’s preparedness by developing and delivering advanced medical kits. These include the NBC Medical Emergency Kit, Mobile Whole Body Counter (DivyaDrishti), and Particle Accelerator with Chemistry modules for the development of Imaging probes. These kits aim to protect soldiers from nuclear, biological, and chemical threats while providing essential medical care on the battlefield.

Furthermore, DRDO showcased its prowess in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology by successfully conducting the flight trial of the Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator in December 2023. This indigenously developed high-speed flying-wing UAV highlights India’s capabilities in cutting-edge UAV development.

These accomplishments collectively underscore DRDO’s commitment to advancing India’s defence capabilities across various domains, from missile technology and air defence systems to aircraft development and medical preparedness on the battlefield.

Indigenous Manufacturing and Innovation:

A key aspect of India’s military preparedness is reducing dependence on foreign sources and fostering indigenous manufacturing. The ‘Make in India’ initiative has gained traction in the defense sector, encouraging the development and production of cutting-edge defense technologies within the country. This not only boosts self-reliance but also positions India as a global player in defense innovation.

Training for the Future:

The transition to multi-domain operations necessitates a paradigm shift in training methodologies. The Indian Army is investing in training programs that simulate realistic multi-domain scenarios, ensuring that personnel are well-versed in operating across diverse environments. Specialized training in cyber warfare, space operations, and integrated command and control systems is becoming increasingly integral.

Conclusion:

As the Indian Army continues to evolve its capabilities to meet the challenges of multi-domain warfare, it stands at the forefront of a transformative journey. The strategic investments in technology, cyber capabilities, and integrated operations underscore a commitment to securing the nation against evolving threats.

With an emphasis on indigenous innovation and a forward-looking approach, India is poised to navigate the complex and dynamic landscapes of future battlefields, ensuring the safety and security of the nation in an era defined by technology and multi-domain operations.

Collaborative efforts with organizations like DRDO, initiatives for technology leaders, and amendments in procurement processes underscore a proactive approach to stay at the forefront of technological advancements. In this journey towards modernization, the Indian Army is not just preparing for the future but actively shaping it.

 

 

References and Resources also include:

https://defenceaviationpost.com/new-technology-leaders-cadre-mooted-indian-army/

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/indian-army-builds-defence-against-outdated-technology/articleshow/61568900.cms

http://www.news18.com/news/india/modernisation-of-indian-army-future-challenges-1342491.html

http://forceindia.net/armys-land-warfare-doctrine-2018-prioritises-force-modernisation/

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