[section_title title=Doctrine for the Air Force]
Doctrine for the Air Force
Air power of a country will be the major player in future hi-tech wars. The key roles of air power are given in Fig 11. Theatre
Control is considered the prime activity of the air force. Theatre control implies not only the ability to secure freedom to conduct air operations while denying the enemy that capability, but also to control land and sea as well. The key steps in theatre control are as given in Fig 10. Strategic Strikes, i.e., the ability to attack enemy’s instruments of power (the so called “parallel operations”) such as C2 centers, oil, electricity, dams, economic targets, military targets deep inside enemy territory etc, is the major role of air power in total war situations against an enemy. Besides these, air power will be used for battlefield interdiction, close air support, etc, which are grouped together under Force Application. Air power gives true force multipliers to a force in air to air refueling, superior C2 systems (such as AWACS), multi-role aircraft, Electronic Support Measures (ESMs) etc.
Force Support is the key element of any force. It is possible that an air force may not have some of the above force capabilities, but no air force can do without force support capabilities. Since these are reflected in logistics, training and R&D which are absolutely essential for proper functioning of an air force. Given these five roles of the air force, the doctrine should strive to enhance those capabilities that are relevant to the country keeping in view the specific known threats. However, to take care of unanticipated, ambiguous threats a balanced air force should be developed.
Air power in the years to come will be increasingly used in all areas of military affairs. There are four capabilities which have come about due to major technological changes, which are changing the deployment of air power. These are strategic mobility, maneuver implications of air power, capability to produce a common battlefield picture available to all, and precision attack capability.
Ability to quickly switch forces from one theatre to another or from peace stations to combat zones, is the ability that most nations would strive to achieve. Our forces should be trained to envelope the enemy at strategic, operational and tactical level. This ability to achieve a dominant presence at a short notice anywhere around our country is needed. Therefore, the first and foremost doctrinal goal should be to achieve a capability for such mobility. With the extra ordinary situation awareness capability being developed, air power should be considered as a high speed maneuver warfare capability. Dominant battlefield knowledge will lead to application of air power as a critical operational and tactical force with long range precision firepower.
Keeping the above in view, the doctrine for our air force is summarized in Fig 10. The air force doctrine should be in synchronization with land forces. However, it is with navy that the air force doctrine should reflect greater unification, as air surveillance of the vast ocean areas can be carried out by air borne platforms in a much better way than surface ships.
The Salient Points of Air Force Doctrine
- * Flexibility in switching forces from one theatre to another
* Achieve Air Supremacy
* If Air Supremacy is not possible try achieving Local Air Superiority
* Acquire PGMs and Sensors rather than hi-tech platforms
* Deep strike missions should be taken only if the probability of success is high. Otherwise, delay deep missions till this probability is increased by the judicious use of SEAD, Long range precision missiles and information warfare.
Doctrine for naval forces
For a country which is surrounded from three sides with ocean, a maritime doctrine is of utmost importance. Of the three dimensions of the naval forces – air, surface and sub-surface platforms, it is quite clear that the sub-surface platforms combine the most important requirement of future warfare, i.e., stealth, with the present ingredients of warfare i.e., firepower and mobility.
Therefore, a naval doctrine based on a sub-surface force is the requirement of the future. The evidence in support of this is the proliferation of two technologies that are giving the large surface ships nightmares. These are the extensive use of ocean surveillance satellites and ballistic missiles with terminal guidance. Hence the submarine based doctrine should be encouraged. There is a need for attack and surveillance submarines.
In surface warfare, significantly different platforms will start proliferating the active force e.g., the arsenal ships and Mobile Offshore Bases (MOBs). The MOB is being designed in US as a large semi-submersible structure capable of supporting the operations of about 100 tactical aircraft and storing an army armored division equivalent worth of pre-positioned equipment. For a country like ours, such large MOBs may not be needed. However, a series of small interconnected MOBs can provide a good screen force against any enemy. Also these can be used as a potent strike component.
The arsenal ship is a relatively simple platform which will carry large number (about 500) missiles of various varieties. This ship can provide sufficient firepower to any naval force. For a country like ours with a proven capability to develop missiles, we should plan a surface force based on the concept of arsenal ship, which is a simple design but with considerable firepower.
In summary, the naval forces should have sufficiently large number of arsenal ships backed up by attack submarines. The defence platforms will be MOBs with pre-positioned strike, air defense and reconnaissance aircraft. Besides these, land based Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft and surveillance/patrol submarines will continuously be used for intelligence collection and surveillance.
The trends in various systems influencing the world structure indicates a shift from large monolithic organizations to small, highly interconnected, autonomous units operating together in a unified manner. These structures are based on Knowledge. Be it the geo-political system, economic system or social system. This same trend can be seen in warfare of future. Due to the remarkable advances being made in the technology, the future military forces will be composed of highly interconnected units with greater autonomy and firepower. The future battlefields will have increased tempo, lethality and uncertainty. Therefore, a doctrine based on interconnecting technologies to take care of unanticipated, unknown and multiple threats is needed. This paper is an attempt to describe such a doctrine. The main purpose of this paper is to start a well-informed debate on these issues. The paper should be considered as a starting point for the formulation of a military doctrine to take care of uncertain, unstable and unknown future world.
Navneet Bhushan (Navneet) is a founder director of CRAFITTI CONSULTING (www.crafitti.com) – an Innovation and Intellectual Property Consulting firm focused on co-crafting Innovation in global enterprises. He is the winner of Indira India Innovation award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Leadership for 2012. He is the principal author of Strategic Decision Making- Applying the Analytic Hierarchy Process published by Springer-Verlag, UK, as part of the Decision Engineering Series. Read Navneet Bhushan Profile. Read Navneet Bhushan Columns.