India’s Land Warfare Doctrine 2018: Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst
The Indian Army (IA) first came up with its declassified official doctrine in 1998, and then again with a revised version in 2004. Subsequently, the IA came up with a sub-conventional warfare doctrine in 2006. The latest iteration of the IA doctrine has been christened the Land Warfare Doctrine (LWD)-2018, and is a follow up to the first-ever Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) released in 2017.
The doctrine for the first time discusses emerging technologies in the context of future warfare. It also aims to institute deterrence though punitive strikes at the tactical level, although this is more of a palliative cure. Despite some internal incoherence and ambiguous signalling on limited conventional warfare to the adversary, the value of the LWD lies in the clarity with which it identifies the threat spectrum. The LWD’s official acknowledgment of the combined threat from China and Pakistan strongly indicates that future force posture of the IA will be planned on the assumption of the worst-case scenario and marks a clear shift from single-front centric threat planning that has dominated military strategy in India towards a dual-front threat perception.
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