May 20, 2020
Due to Kashmir and multiple other issues, the two rivals from birth, Pakistan and India can go to war. Despite facing oversized enemy, the Pakistani army is prepared to initiate quick-small local offensives, before the Indian army can occupy favorable terrain.
The Indian Army’s plan, therefore, failed to immediately take the offensive under a doctrine called “Cold Start.” The doctrine is intended to allow India’s conventional forces to perform holding attacks to prevent a nuclear retaliation from Pakistan in case of a conflict. An offensive from India could make the use of tactical nuclear weapons all the more likely.
As a result, Pakistan’s tactical nuclear strikes on the enemy’s armed forces will render India’s conventional army useless.
Analysts believe the animosity between India and Pakistan makes the Indian subcontinent one of the most dangerous places on Earth. The disparity in forces, war plans on both sides, and the presence of tactical nuclear weapons makes a regional nuclear war—even a limited one—a real possibility.
Pakistan and India are two of the largest armies on Earth. Not only are both armies larger in personnel than the U.S. Army, but they have stood at alert facing one another since the dissolution of the British Indian Army in 1947. The two forces have clashed four times since their birth.
Indian Army is the land force of the Armed Forces of India and has the prime responsibility of conducting land-based warfare. The Indian Army maintains the 3rd largest active force in the world. The army numbers 1.2 million active-duty personnel and 990,000 reservists, for a total force strength of 2.1 million. The army’s primary tasks are guarding the borders with Pakistan and China and domestic security particularly in Kashmir and the Northeast.
The army is structured into fourteen army corps, which are further made up of forty infantry, armored, mountain and RAPID (mechanized infantry) divisions. There is approximately one separate artillery brigade per corps, five separate armored brigades, seven infantry brigades and five brigade-sized air defense formations.
Infantry and mountain divisions are mostly assigned to the mountainous North and Northeast regions, where manpower intensive counterinsurgency and mountain warfare forces are important, while infantry, RAPID, and armored formations sit on the border opposite Pakistan
The army is equipped from a number of sources, primarily Russia and a growing domestic arms industry, with increasing amounts of Israeli and American weaponry.
More than 4,000 tanks equip the country’s ninety-seven armored regiments (the equivalent of American battalions), including 2,400 older T-72 tanks, 1,600 T-90 tanks, and approximately 360 Arjun Mk.1 and Mk.2 tanks.
In 2018, India allocated four trillion rupees ($58bn), or 2.1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), to support its 1.4 million active troops, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
With 127,200 personnel and 814 combat aircraft, India’s air force is substantially larger but there are concerns about its fighter jet fleet.
India’s navy consists of one aircraft carrier, 16 submarines, 14 destroyers, 13 frigates, 106 patrol and coastal combatant vessels, and 75 combat-capable aircraft.
It has 67,700 personnel, including marines and naval aviation staff.
Pakistan’s army is smaller, with 560,000 troops backed by 2,496 tanks, 1,605 armored personnel carriers, and 4,472 artillery guns, including 375 self-propelled howitzers.
Although Pakistan resides in what most would consider a rough neighborhood, it is on relatively good terms with neighbors China and Iran. As a result, the army’s primary missions are domestic security operations against the Pakistani Taliban and facing off against the Indian army. Like India, Pakistan is a major contributor of forces to United Nations peacekeeping missions.
The Pakistani army consists of twenty-six combat divisions falling under the control of nine army corps. Most divisions are infantry divisions, with only two armored and two mechanized infantry divisions. Each corps also controls an average of one armored, one infantry and one artillery brigade each.
Pakistan has 425 combat aircraft, including the Chinese-origin F-7PG and American F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.
Special operations forces are concentrated under the control of the Special Services Group, which controls eight commando battalions.
Cold Start envisions rapid mobilization followed by a major offensive into Pakistan before the country can respond with tactical nuclear weapons
The army’s equipment is mostly Pakistani and Chinese, with Turkish and American armaments in key areas. The country has fewer than seven hundred frontline tanks, including the Khalid and the T-80UD, with another one thousand modernized versions of the 1970s-era Chinese Type 59. Pakistan lacks a modern infantry fighting vehicle, relying on more than two thousand upgraded M113 tracked armored personnel carriers.
Pakistan has nearly two thousand artillery pieces, primarily Chinese and American, but they are older models with little in terms of acquisitions in sight.
Standouts among these are roughly 250 M109A5 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzers and two hundred A-100E 300-millimeter multiple launch rocket systems—similar to India’s Smerch. One standout category where Pakistani weapons outmatch Indian ones is the area of attack helicopters, where the country fields fifty-one older AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters with another fifteen AH-1Z Vipers on order.
Pakistan, which has a significantly smaller coastline, has 9 frigates, 8 submarines, 17 patrol and coastal vessels, and 8 combat-capable aircraft.