Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande on March 22, 2023, said that India not only needs to negate or mitigate grey zone warfare being conducted by China and Pakistan but also to keep them on the back foot.
He also underlined the criticality of strategic deterrence instruments to ward off full-blown wars.
The main rationale of Grey zone warfare is to exploit the operational space between peace and war to change the status quo or coerce an adversary. The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) has mastered this art over the years with salami slicing and other tactics.
According to General Pande, “Grey zone aggression is increasingly becoming a preferred strategy of conflict prosecution with its scope enhanced by technological advancements. Here I would like to emphasise that our adversary’s pursuits against us in the grey zone continue as we speak.”
“This entails all aspects under the gambit of security and is not just exclusive to the military domain. We need capabilities to not just negate but also keep the adversary in a reactive mode perpetually,” he added.
According to the Army Chief, “Our legacy challenges of unsettled borders continue to engage us. It is important to recognise that infirmities in border management can lead to wider conflict. Therefore, the first imperative that comes across is that-possession of strategic deterrence instruments is essential.”
Dwelling on the length of the lessons learnt from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War, the Army Chief has stated that the most ‘critical conclusion’ is that self-sufficiency is critical in defence technologies and R&D investments are inescapable strategic imperatives.
In other words, the nation’s security can neither be outsourced nor dependent on the largesse of others. The War has also reaffirmed the relevance of hard power and the notion of victory still being ‘land centric.” Similarly, India needs to be prepared for a full spectrum of long durations instead of just short swift wars.
“Information operations have assumed a new dimension being unfolded at multiple levels through numerous tools and different domains. Competencies and dedicated strategies need to be in place to win wars of narratives as well.” General Pande said.
The Army has put into motion a transformational road map for the infusion of technology into its warfighting systems, with focus areas identified for the infantry, mechanised forces, artillery air defence, engineers and logistics.
The Indian Defence Industry is rising to the challenge and the payoff is beginning to fructify. In the ‘Design and Develop’ category 14 projects worth over Rs 61000 are being pursued, General Pande said.
Under the ‘Make-II category’ projects, where prototype development is funded by the industry, 45 projects amounting to around Rs 28,000 crore are underway. The Army is also leveraging the vibrant ecosystem with 42 projects under iDEX (Innovations For Defence Excellence) category. Of them, nine projects worth Rs 300 are already under procurement.
Seventeen projects in turn are underway with premier institutions like IITs in robotics, sensors, smart munitions, high-powered lasers, lightweight armour, range extensions of artillery shells, UAV jamming and habitats for high-altitude areas.