Effective Integration of Command

Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif presiding over the Corp Commanders meeting in Rawalpindi. (Photo via ISPR)
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif presiding over the Corp Commanders meeting in Rawalpindi. (Photo via ISPR)

India’s hybrid war against Pakistan force-multiplies the reach of its smart power with a judicious mix of hard and soft power. To quote the FT, “The war of the future will not necessarily be declared but will oversee a sliding scale of aggression and violence.” Today’s strategy combines conventional warfare with irregular tactics and terrorist acts, subverting the  country’s ideology, and spreading calumny and falsehood a la “Kautilya Arthashastra” to muddy the country’s Armed Forces through their despicable and motivated proxies in our media.

Employing both modern technology and modern mobilization methods, the aggressor avoids attribution or retribution through information warfare, combining kinetic operations with subversive effort. India’s hybrid warfare well crafted gameplan includes staged urban violence, coercion and cyber warfare, using both state and non-state actors, or a combination thereof. This new form of warfare envisages isolating us in sports and culture to force-multiply the mass civic frustration. Faced with such threat our political leaders continue exercising bad governance, emulated by some ambitious khakis to perpetuate their military rule.

With Modi’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval (very much a state actor) in the driving seat, ‘false-flag terrorism’ creating “Polish Border-type” Incidents (Pathankot and the recent attack on the fuel dump (and not a Brigade HQ) at Uri in Kashmir guarded by Sikh troops of 8 Dogra Regt)  has gone into overdrive. The Zainab Market incident failed because the Rangers did not arrive in time to be blamed for the  RAW planned massacre meant to ignite world opinion. Frustrated by CPEC’s potential, India is attempting to whip up international anger about Pakistan “being a terrorist state”. Is this meant to justify possible adventurism for alleged “cross border” attack” as being assiduously “demanded” by the Indian Army and prescribed by Michael Kugelman (India exercising strategic restraint?)? A modified “Cold Start” (Gilgit/Skardu because of  CPEC?) becomes a distinct possibility listening to Modi’s and his Defense Minister Rajnath’s Singh blatant threats. (Kugelman is living in Cuckoo-land in presuming Pakistan will turn the other cheek).

Our military hierarchy has been dangerously complacent in not correcting the contradiction of the Army Chief defacto exercising authority as the Head of the Armed Forces, the actual Head, the Chairman JCSC, is quite comfortable being the Head figuratively. On enquiring what the Chairman JCSC did for a living, the than incumbent Gen Tariq Majeed, perhaps frustrated at not being made COAS (in Kayani’s place), blew his top.  Given the volatile and precarious environment the JCSC is militarily not an effective entity, this status quo needs correction. Without wielding operational and administrative power over the three (and possibly four) Services, this fantasy can be perpetuated during peacetime, the stress of war will expose the reality to our lasting detriment.

All forces for nuclear warfare should be grouped into a new service called “Strategic Forces”.  Functioning as a separate entity for nuclear and missile protection, and almost outnumbering the PAF and the Navy, the Special Plans Division (SPD) needs upgrading with a four star general commanding the “Strategic Forces”.  Standardization of weapons and equipment e.g. small arms, vehicles, clothing, battle gear, etc is a must except where specialized operations require specific arms and equipment by the Service concerned. Personnel from the other Services should be transferred on permanent basis and/or recruited directly.

Another fallacy is rotating the Chairman JCSC post among the three Services. Why is NATO’s C-in-C or Commanders US Central and Africa Commands Army or Marine Corps Generals and the Commander Pacific always a Naval Admiral? With our decisive battle to be fought on land, pragmatism and ground realities dictate that a soldier heads the overall command of the three (or four) Services, the dominant Service in a Theater of War providing the Theatre Commander.  A four star Deputy Chairman from the Air Force or the Navy in rotation can preside over the JCSC Secretariat.

Based solely on merit for all the right reasons, the choice to head a smooth transition to this UNIFIED COMMAND is extremely important, effective if the individual chosen can effect the changes necessary for creating JCSC an effective unified command. Only a mature and tested personality having not only the stature and moral authority but commanding universal respect will fit the bill. Based on ground reality, the time for vacillating in decision-making was yesterday.

Raheel Sharif very correctly does not want an “extension” as COAS, were Zia, Musharraf and Kayani indispensable? Given extensions all three became (1) problems and (2) rich, in Kayani’s case, quite fabulously. While on grounds being against extensions “on principle”, the govt is not so inclined, why is a “Field Marshal’s” baton being dangled before Raheel Sharif?  Both an “extension” and “Field Marshal’s” rank would invite “adverse” reaction both in the Army and in the public, for someone who has clearly caught the country’s respect and imagination by his dedicated professionalism, integrity and hard work, delivering well “above and beyond the call of duty”.

The Chairman JCSC must function from the (rightly named) GHQ, presiding over (1) the postings and promotions of Brigadiers rank (or Air Force and Naval equivalent) and above, and (2) the Corps Commanders (and equivalent) Conferences of all four services. Procedural changes within the Defense Ministry do not require any Constitutional Amendment. The four Lt Gens in contention for COAS are without exception outstanding individuals and extremely competent professional soldiers. With a much needed new Service (already existing in all but name) created, two of the deserving four aspirants will still become four star generals. One could head the Army and another the “Strategic Forces”.

On a larger world stage, once stable Middle East nations having strong well-equipped armies are now in a state of disintegration e.g. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, the “Domino” effect of turmoil and the subsequent rise of “Daesh” are causes of considerable concern.  With extraordinary circumstances coinciding to give us a confluence of political and military requirements, with India beating war drums that could lead to Armageddon, the existing practice needs a reality check.

Two primary requirements coincide here, viz (1) everyone except the Nawaz Sharif govt wants Gen Raheel Sharif to continue his services to the nation and (2) the professional need to make the JCSC effective. Instead of Mian Sahib chancing his luck a third time attempting to choose a safe compliant “favorite” for COAS, Murphy’s Law dictates he continues with someone tried and tested, Gen Raheel Sharif is the right man for the job. An effective Chairman JCSC is a win-win situation for Pakistan.

(Concluding the series on defense requirements by Ikram Sehgal, a defense and security analyst).

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