India’s Military Strike Capability

By Pramod Buravalli


New Delhi, 15 November 2006  

When we talk about Indian Military's Strike or Offensive Capabilities, there are 4 things a defense analyst or strategist would ask as precursors to answering the above:

1. What are the threat perceptions that prevail today?

2. Are we really looking at a short War/ long drawn War or Nuclear confrontation?

3. How long can India hold out on the offense/defense and

4. Do we have an Administrative Plan or Strategy for post war territories?

I will try to answer these today to the best of my ability.

Answer 1

Threat perceptions faced by the Indian Government are Pakistan and Bangladesh Centric. China is more like a long lost cousin with whom the Indians share common culture and family values but have bickered over irrelevant matters. Though it is bound to be a big competitor in almost all the fields with common interests in worldwide natural resources, the China–India rivalry is more competitive than confrontational.

However, Pakistan is faced with an identity crisis of sorts now more than ever. On one hand, they have to comply with all US demands on capturing Al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and on the other hand, they have to keep a good number of jihadis alive and well fed to fuel the jihad in Kashmir. This situation that the Pakistanis are faced with will lead to a more desperate group of home grown haters of all things Non Islamic.

Similarly Bangladesh has an almost unarguable feeling of being land locked and surrounded by a powerful non Islamic country.

Both these countries either independently or (like many who suspect) jointly will always project India as the eternal enemy responsible for all their woes. They will try to wean away their public’s eye from pressing domestic and economic problems and point their ire towards India .

If there are any other external threat perceptions that need to be mentioned, they either get shadowed by the 2 mentioned above or are not ones that require immediate attention as far as Offensive and Defensive Planning is concerned.

Answer 2

We are looking at an all-out War with Pakistan within the next 10–15 years. This could include nuclear confrontation. I base my analysis on what I term as,  ”How Long Will Anyone Tolerate" rationale. What I mean is that successive Indian Governments have always talked about making Peace and solving matters through talks and negotiations but none have ever bothered talking about “What Will Ultimately Lead To The Collapse Of Patience“?

Well, let me take that back. Maybe AB Vajpayee lost his patience in 2002 with the Parliament bombing but nothing happened afterwards. Indians kind of get used to losing people and memories including recently the Bombay train bombings. But, what happens one day when an Indian leader stands up and says "Stop".

Answer 3

India can hold onto offense and defense as long as its "Will" lasts. Though the brightest military planners would jump in and say “xyz days" based on our supplies, reserves etc, I would humbly intervene and ask them “do we really need to determine the number of days we can make war unless the enemy's capabilities are completely destroyed."

I mean, what is the point spending so much every year on the military and equipment if the objective of ensuring a safe future for the Nation is not achieved. This "Will" needs to be inculcated in the thought process when the Policy Makers determine “Patience" and its "Limits".

Answer 4

I certainly think that successive Governments in India have pondered about administering a Post War Territory. In one of my previous articles, I did mention an American think tank's case study that talks about something similar. (

My take is that in a situation where India would have to take over a new territory from an Administrative standpoint, India will constitute a Federation or Confederation of Several Provinces with their own independent constitution and something similar (but not the same) to the former Soviet Union. However, my analysis on this is entirely speculative and I am sure Indian Policy lacks the experience of the "divide and rule" kind.


So, what am I really saying? Does India have an offensive capability? Do all the governments and military planners only plan in a limited manner?

With the equipment that the Indian Military currently possesses and is procuring over the next 5 years, the Indian offensive capability is more like “HIT ME AND YOU WILL SEE I CAN HIT YOU MORE”.

The answers lie in answering the 4 questions above and when the Indian policy becomes a robust mechanism in which the country’s Patience is well defined, long term foreign relation Objectives clearly devised and all scenarios including the most outrageous ones planned and tested for. After the policy is well defined, it’s easier to devise an offensive or defensive force strategy.

In the next article, I will talk about “What Offensive Strategy means and what does India need to do to look “lean and mean”?

Pramod Buravalli is Associate Vice President (Asia Pacific), TechRP Inc, Nashville , USA . He may be contacted at

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