Home Contact Us
Search :

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3036, 4 January 2010
Future Conflict Scenarios
Gurmeet Kanwal
Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi
e-mail: gurmeetkanwal@gmail.com

Though the year 2009 witnessed marginal improvement in India’s external security environment, internal security continued to deteriorate in view of the heightened activities of the Maoist-Naxalite terrorists. The unstable regional security environment, unresolved territorial and boundary disputes with China and Pakistan and continuing internal security challenges pose serious national security threats to India.

China: Contours of a Conflict over Territory

Future conventional conflicts on the Indian Sub-continent will flow out of unresolved territorial and boundary disputes in Jammu and Kashmir and along the unsettled border with China. While the probability of a conflict with China is low, patrol face-offs in no man’s land are common and these could result in armed clashes leading to another border conflict. Such a conflict is likely to be limited in area and the application of force levels. Though the conflict is likely to be predominantly a land battle, air power will need to be employed extensively, including attack helicopters and armed helicopters.

Extensive use will be made of artillery firepower from 155mm howitzers and long range rocket launchers. The Chinese may resort to the employment of conventionally-armed short range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) against Indian forces, communications centres, logistics installations and choke points. Though a conflict at sea is highly unlikely in the 2020-25 time frame, the PLA Navy may be expected to begin operating in the northern Indian Ocean region by about 2015, ostensibly to safeguard China’s sea lanes for oil, gas and trade. Consequently, Indian Navy ships are likely to be shadowed by PLA submarines and occasionally even by surface ships particularly during naval exercises.

Pakistan: Another War over Kashmir?

It is now emerging clearly that the Pakistan army is unlikely to allow the new civilian dispensation to govern unfettered. Hence, hostility towards India will remain a key objective of Pakistan’s security policies. The present cease-fire along the LoC will hold only as long as it suits the Pakistan army’s interests. The Pakistan army and ISI will continue to encourage, aid and abet infiltration across the LoC. The most likely conflict scenario is that of another Kargil-type misadventure. This time it may be executed with help from LeT, JeM and Hizbul Mujahideen sleeper cells by occupying terrain features in remote areas like Hill Kaka and the Shamsabari range north of Bandipur. They may declare these as liberated zones. However, large-scale conflict is unlikely as India will once again exercise restraint. Ground and air delivered firepower will be extensively employed. India may choose to strike across the LoC at carefully selected targets with its air force.

Fighting on the LoC is likely to be limited in scope. Rear area security will be a major issue and will require large numbers of para-military personnel as terrorists will disrupt the move of army convoys and supplies. The probability of the conflict spilling over to the plains sector is extremely limited. In the maritime domain, the Pakistan navy will adopt a defensive posture. However, the Pakistan navy will lose no opportunity to encourage and even abet terrorist strikes on Indian assets such as oil and gas rigs and shipping. The Pakistan navy is likely to operate with a greater degree of confidence once Chinese PLA navy ships begin to use the Gwadar port as a naval base.

Internal Security Challenges

A low-grade insurgency will continue to fester in J&K despite serious government efforts at reconciliation. However, the situation in the north-eastern states will gradually improve due to socio-economic growth political maturity. The worst internal security challenge will come from the rising tide of Left Wing Extremism or Maoist/Naxalite terrorism as the state and central governments continue to waver in their approach. The Maoists will challenge the state by bringing small towns in the tribal belt under their political and security control. At this stage, the army will be called in to stem the rot even though it neither has the numbers nor the wherewithal to intervene effectively over thousands of square kilometers of jungle-covered terrain. Countries inimical to India will exploit the situation by providing arms, ammunition, equipment and financial support to the Maoists.

Urban Terrorism: The New Scourge

Home-grown Indian Jihadis are increasingly joining the pan-Islamic ‘movement’. Groups like the Indian Mujahideen will become more sophisticated in their attacks. They will more difficult to apprehend as they will form cellular structures in which no terrorist will know more than two other people. Terrorists with software expertise may launch cyber attacks on computer-controlled communications, transportation, power and commercial networks to cripple the Indian economy. Maritime and chemical and biological terrorism will increase considerably. While the probability of nuclear terrorism is low, radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) may be used to spread panic and create hysteria. India will also need to enhance its vigil over its island territories as South-east Asian terrorist organizations will use these as secure bases.

All of these emerging threats will require far greater intelligence effort than has been the case so far and comprehensive inter-ministerial, inter-departmental, inter-agency and inter-security forces coordination to defeat successfully.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Ruhee Neog,
"‘Nuclear Weapons, Costs and Myths’: In Response," 16 September 2013
Rana Divyank Chaudhary,
"Dialogue as Foreign Policy," 24 June 2013
Jayadeva Ranade,
"China, Tibet & Beijing's New Thinking," 24 June 2013
Rana Divyank Chaudhary,
"IPCS Discussion: China and its Internal Periphery," 8 March 2013
J Jeganaathan,
"Pakistan's Trespass at LOC: Is 'Kargil Plan 2.0' Underway?," 28 February 2013
N Manoharan,
"Hyderabad Terror Attacks: Road-blocks in the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC)," 27 February 2013
Shanta Maree Surendran,
"China, Gwadar and Sea Lanes of Communication: ‘Economic Offence’ or ‘Active Defence’?," 25 February 2013
Ali Ahmed,
"India-Pakistan: Winds of Change?," 23 April 2012
Ali Ahmed,
"NCBMs: Scaremongering, But with a Purpose," 15 February 2012
Gunjan Singh,
"China’s Leadership Dilemma: Development or Environment?," 15 February 2012

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Air Power and Future Battlefields: India's Needs

India’s Nuclear Doctrine: Reviewing NFU and Massive Retaliation

Indian Army & Operational Preparedness: Agenda for the New Chief

India-US: Nuclear Ayatollahs and the Politics of Non-proliferation

India-Pakistan and Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Implications of Hatf-9

RIP: Jasjit Singh (1934-2013)

China’s Defence Policy: Major Projections and Missing Links

Urban Terrorism: India Must Get its Act Together

Emulate Operation Abbottabad?: Yes India Can

Humanitarian Intervention in Libya

Nuclear India's Weapons of Peace: Ten Years after Pokhran-II

Indo-US Defence Co-operation: Full Steam Ahead

Indo-US Nuclear Deal and Non-proliferation: Some Views from the US

Indo-US Nuclear Deal: In Need of Resuscitation

Is Musharraf Losing Control?

Joint Operations in the Mountains

India: Need for an Air Assault Brigade and Rapid Reaction Force

How many Nuclear Warheads does India Need?

Siachen Conflict and the Indo-Pak Rapprochement

Indo-Pak CBMs: Slow March to Peace

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2015
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November
 2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007
 2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999
 1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1900, Tel: 91-11-4100-1901, Tel/Fax: 91-11-4100-1902

© Copyright 2015, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com