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Putting India’s Land Warfare Doctrine in the Dock

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The Indian Army’s second iteration of its doctrine, “Land Warfare Doctrine—2018,” was released in mid-December in the form of a link placed on the news pages of its website (Indian Army 2018). The army has also not shared hard copies of the 13-page document. Such a low-profile release does not do justice to the content of the land warfare doctrine (LWD) document, which deals with significant matters of national interest (Ahmed 2019). Indeed, the soft copy of the document placed on the army’s website in a rather non-descript manner gives no publication details, indicating a rather purposeful approach to keep the document from public scrutiny.

Perhaps, the army has learnt the wrong lessons from its release of the earlier version of its doctrine, “Indian Army Doctrine” (ARTRAC 2004), which not only attracted considerable attention but also substantial criticism. However, the advantage of the transparency that attended the release of the 2004 doctrine, dubbed Cold Start doctrine (CSD), was in the vigorous discussion it generated on the issues of linkage between the subconventional, conventional, and nuclear levels of war (Ladwig 2008). The low-profile release of the second iteration of its doctrine may help the army avoid criticism, but this is at the cost of keeping the significant matters it raises from the benefit of an informed discussion. As it happened in the wake of the CSD release, discussion of the doctrine is useful in terms of enabling feedback for the army on its doctrine and enhancing doctrinal thinking and strategic culture in general (Ladwig and Narang 2017).

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Updated On : 22nd Feb, 2019

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