Several significant insights into India’s strategic insights and thinking were revealed in the revised Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces 2017, which was released by the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba, on April 18. In his introduction, Admiral Lanba explains that the doctrine, which “freshly looks at new directions/domains in the spectrum of conflict …,” is “… meant to guide all members of the Indian Armed Forces on the necessary concepts, principles and ideals under which to achieve the higher goals set upon by the political leadership as deemed in the Indian constitution.”
Most analysts pounced upon the section which hints that surgical strikes—like the one across the Line of Control with Pakistan on 29 September following the Uri attack—were likely to continue when needed. But this 86-page document, which begins with the “Code of Warrior” from the Bhagavad Gita, is much more than just that.
It strongly stresses the need for an integrated air-land-sea-space and cyberspace capability for both conventional, irregular and hybrid wars. It stresses the vital need for integration of cyber and space to plan special operations and says initial steps for building a triad through a Defence Cyber Agency, Defence Space Agency and Special Operations Division are now underway.
Though increasingly irrelevant across the world, the “war-for-territory paradigm” still applies to India due to the disputed borders with Pakistan and China. The doctrine warns that the fragile environment in the “Af-Pak region and the neighbouring support to proxy war in J&K” might lead to the spread of radical ideologies. “Radicalisation of youth ... by social media platforms is also a contemporary challenge to security. The management of digital environment merits high priority.” All this gives us an insight into what the military really wants. But achieving them is another thing altogether.