As warfare gets more and more swift and information intensive, the military is focusing its attention on tightening the sensor-to-shooter loop (military jargon for time taken to detect and destroy a target) to triumph in future wars.
Even as Pakistan remains in the grip of political instability and faces danger from the rise of Islamic extremist groups, the army is mobilising over 37,000 troops, part of a strike corps, and fielding its cutting edge weapon systems in the deserts of Rajasthan to address the dynamic changes sweeping today's battlespace.
The army and air force will unleash largescale military maneouvres, codenamed Dakshin Shakti, from March 3-14 to test their battle-worthiness. The forces will aim to leverage “information advantage” to increase combat power through the application of network centric warfare.
Dakshin Shakti is a collective effort of the army’s Southern Command and air force’s South-Western Air Command.
Lt Gen. Noble Thamburaj, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command said: “We are going the whole hog to test our offensive capabilities. The ground forces will be fully backed by air power for successful operations. It is an exercise in self-synchronisation in a simulated war scenario.”
Dakshin Shakti, to be carried out by Bhopal-based 21 Corps, will encompass the entire spectrum of armament and military equipment currently in service with the army and air force.
It will feature modern combat aircraft like Su-30 MKI and MiG-29, unmanned aerial vehicles, T-90 tanks, new command and control systems, the newly-inducted Smerch and Pinaka multiple rocket launch systems, long range reconnaissance and observation systems and many new communications and surveillance systems.
India has been spending an average of $3 billion on importing military equipment for the past eight to 10 years.
Lt Gen. Thamburaj said the results of the war games would be showcased in a compressed exercise called Brazen Chariots before foreign military observers at the Pokhran field firing ranges on March 19.
Elaborating on the objectives of the war games, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor told HT: “We are testing the capability of our troops to operate in the desert. A lot of new equipment will get validated in the process. Another priority will be testing our night-fighting capabilities to gain an advantage on the battlefield.”
The war games coincide with political turmoil in Pakistan, with a question mark on President Musharraf’s plans. So what message is India sending across the border? Defence Minister A.K. Antony said, “Military exercises are a trend round the world. Pakistan has been intimated of the exercise. A stable Pakistan is in India’s interest.”