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First Edition : October 2004

Published By : Headquarters Army Training Command

Copyright Reserved : Headquarters Army Training Command

Shimla – 171003




        1. The Indian Army Doctrine is structured as a two-part document. The main part contains subjects for widespread dissemination in the Army, the second part is the classified adjunct to it and is intended for very restricted circulation.

        2. Having been approved by Army Headquarters, the main part of the Indian Army Doctrine is hereby promulgated for information, guidance and implementation by all concerned.

        1. Part I will be reviewed every five years and updated, as necessary. The Doctrine will be re-issued every ten years.

Shimla (K Nagaraj)

Lt Gen

October 2004 GOC-in-C ARTRAC

I am a Warrior; defending my Nation is my dharma.

I will train my mind, body and spirit to fight,

Excel in all devices and weapons of war –

present and future,

Always protect the weak,

Be truthful and forthright,

Be humane, cultured and compassionate,

Fight and embrace the consequences willingly.

God, give me strength that I ask nothing of you”
The Bhagawad Gita

General NC Vij


How can man die better, than facing fearful odds,

for the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his Gods.”

Like all other modern armed forces, the Indian Army has been considerably influenced by the Revolution in Military Affairs and the great strides being made in technology development. This has necessitated a transformation in strategic thinking along with a paradigm shift in organization and conduct of operations. As a consequence, military doctrines, weapon systems and force structures need to undergo a review. Our vision for the twenty-first century is to have a well equipped and optimally structured army, enabling it to respond effectively to varied situations and demands whilst it continually adapts itself to meet future challenges.

Such a vision places emphasis on the ability to augment existing strengths, develop new skills, think imaginatively and attempt innovative approaches to cope with the emerging environment. The challenges that we will be confronted with require us to visualize what our Army of the future should look like and accordingly develop suitable approaches to structures, equipping and training to emerge with flying colours in future conflict situations. The impetus for change must come from within and flow through the entire Army.

The Indian Army has to maintain a high level of readiness for war in varied terrain conditions and should have the capability to operate in the complete spectrum of conflict. The Indian Army Doctrine (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Doctrine’) outlines a framework for a better understanding of the approach to warfare and provides the foundation for its practical application.

Funds scarcity or shortfall is a challenge faced by all armies of the world and hence there is a need for improved operating cultures and optimization of resources. The winning armies of the future will not necessarily be the ones that have greater combat power but ones that can visualize and comprehend battles more clearly. There will invariably be technological gaps between the systems that we possess and those developed up to that point in time. Notwithstanding this gap we have to continuously utilize all available resources imaginatively and effectively.
The emergence of Information Warfare as a major force multiplier points clearly towards the imperatives of network-centric warfare. Additionally, present trends indicate a marked shift towards the manoeuvre style of warfare and directive style of command. Concurrently, the requirement for joint operations and the need for greater integration and inter-dependence amongst the three Services are viewed as being essential for success.
This Doctrine emphasizes that the profession of arms is a calling. The hallmark of a good soldier entails having a sense of responsibility, professional expertise and loyalty to the Nation and the Army. The ethos and moral code set forth principles and ideals; these exhort every man in uniform to abide by his duty without regard to personal safety. This ethos forms the bedrock of the Army’s preparedness in peace and is the key to its effectiveness in war.
Indian Army officers would do well to develop a broad-based, all-inclusive understanding of warfare and not become overly reliant on rigid adherence to prescriptive rules. The nature of this Doctrine is enduring and yet dynamic; it drives development of both, the art and science of war. In the Army it provides the focus for constructive debate within well-informed and professional circles and acts as a guide to the younger generation. Training in the Army should focus on management of change and operational adaptation to change. Towards this end, providing the kind of ambience that encourages and facilitates intellectual development should be an unceasing endeavour.


(NC Vij)

October 2004 General

Not by action Not by progeny

Not by wealth But by sacrifice alone

Can Immortal Goal be achieved.”

The Bhagawad Gita

And speak not of those who are

slain in Allah’s way as dead,

Nay, (they are) alive but ye perceive not”.

  • Sureh Bacarah, Ayat 154,

The Holy Quran


Chapter 1- Geo-Strategic Environment and
The Indian Army 2

Section 1 : Doctrine, Concept and Strategy 3

Section 2 : Environment and Threat 5

Section 3 : The Indian Army 9

Chapter 2 - Understanding War 11

Section 4 : Peace, Conflict and War 12

Section 5 : Types of Wars 15

Section 6 : Principles of War 23

Chapter 3 - Operational Perspectives 25

Section 7 : Elements for Operational Success 26

Section 8 : Operational Readiness and Effectiveness 34

Section 9 : Surprise and Deception 38

Section 10 : Impact of Technology on Operations and 40

the Revolution in Military Affairs

Chapter 4 - Conduct of Operations 46

Section 11 : Offensive and Defensive Operations 47

Section 12 : Special Forces Operations 57

Section 13 : Joint Operations 60

Chapter 5 - Operations Other Than War 67

Section 14 : Low Intensity Conflict Operations and 68

Counter-Insurgency Operations

Section 15 : Non-Combat Operations 77

Section 16 : United Nations Peacekeeping Missions 81

Chapter 6 - Logistics 84

Section 17 : Function, Principles and Logistic 85

Support Systems

Section 18 : Future Trends in Logistics 89

Chapter 7 - Preparing For War 92

Section 19 : Force Structuring 93

Section 20 : Training 97

Section 21 : Professionalism and Military Ethos 103







Doctrine is indispensable to an army. Doctrine provides a military organisation with a common philosophy, a common language, a common purpose, and a unity of effort”.
General George H. Decker, 1960.


  1. Military doctrines have provided the basic approach to all important aspects related to war for armies of most nations over the past few centuries. Prevailing strategic realities, threats, challenges, visualised opportunities and national aspirations are the major factors which have a strong influence on the formulation of military doctrines. A doctrine is generally a written document; it could also be a widely accepted understanding without being specifically enunciated. In the Indian context the need for formulating and enunciating a comprehensive military doctrine has gained momentum with advancements in military technologies and the changing nature of war in our times. Military doctrine is neither dogma nor does it replace or take away the authority and obligation of the commander on the spot to determine a proper course of action under the circumstances prevailing at the time of decision.

  2. In simple words, military doctrine is a particular policy taught or advocated; a set of principles by which military forces guide their actions in support of national objectives. Military doctrine can be defined as ‘a formal expression of military knowledge and thought that an army accepts as being relevant at a given time, which covers the nature of current and future conflicts, the preparation of the army for such conflicts and the methods of engaging in them to achieve success’. It is authoritative but requires judgement in application. The illustration below depicts the inputs that traditionally contribute to the formulation of a military doctrine and outputs that flow from its enunciation.


  1. A concept is defined as a general notion or statement of an idea, expressing how something might be done or accomplished, that may lead to an accepted procedure’. In the nascent stage a concept may be nebulous; however, it crystallises as it develops. In the Indian military context a concept is generally enunciated at the strategic and operational levels. It articulates, in very broad terms, a visualisation of the manner in which operations are to be conducted, and focuses on the principal elements which will drive them.

  1. Strategy is the art and science of developing and using elements of national power including political, economic, psychological, technological capabilities and military forces, as necessary, during peace and war to achieve national objectives. Military strategy is derived from the overall national or ‘grand’ strategy.

Winning Strategists are certain of triumph

Before seeking a challenge.

Loosing Strategists are certain to challenge

Before seeking a triumph”.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War.


There can be four dangers to a state;

That which is of external origin and of internal abetment;

That which is of internal origin and of external abetment;

That which is of external origin and of external abetment;

and that which is of internal origin and of internal abetment”.



  1. India is a country of continental size with land borders shared with a large number of countries, 1197 islands and a coastline of 7516 kilometres with a vast Exclusive Economic Zone. Despite her historically developed racial, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, India is a nation with an innately all-embracing, secular polity that has welcomed and assimilated various cultures into her existing milieu. Her modern values are rooted in democratic governance and profound respect for human life. We remain peaceful without being pacifists and have a vision for the future with a measure of confidence in ourselves as we strive for economic progress and integration in the global environment. Defending India calls for defending her physical, economic and cultural identity in the prevalent geo-political milieu.

The Geo-political Environment

  1. The geo-political scenario is fast changing and is likely to continue to do so in the coming decades. Although the USA remains the only super power today, the world is witnessing the emergence of various centres of power, with India emerging as one of the leading global players. Each centre of power is attempting to achieve a ‘balance of interest’ as opposed to the erstwhile ‘balance of power’. Greater reliance is being placed on democracy as a factor contributing to conflict prevention and increasing emphasis on bilateral or multi-lateral groupings as a means to deter aggression against weak nations. There is also a growing concern about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the spread of terrorism. Energy security and control of scarce resources are assuming trans-national proportions.

  2. As part of the Southern Asian Region, India has considerable interests in the areas stretching from West Asia through Central Asia and South Asia to South East Asia. The Indian Ocean region is of great importance to India and it assumes strategic significance due to the high volume of Indian and international trade transiting through the Indian Ocean. Existing and emerging regional groupings give rise to competitiveness with the attendant possibility of increasing instability due to inter and intra-regional conflicts. The region also includes a number of nuclear weapon or nuclear-capable states. In addition, this region is witnessing an unprecedented proliferation in small arms and narcotics trafficking which, in turn, threaten the stability of states and societies. Trans-border migration on economic grounds also raises serious security concerns.

  3. India is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Association for South East Asian Nations Regional Forum (ARF) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). By virtue of her size and strategic location in the Indian Ocean region, India is expected to play her rightful role to ensure peace and stability in it.

The Economic Environment

  1. With market forces playing an important role, economic strength is likely to become the currency of power. National economies are undergoing liberalisation to cater to globalisation. The dominance of the developed world over the global economy is, nonetheless, likely to continue. Even so, China and India have been acknowledged as emerging economic powers. Economic linkages and inter-dependence amongst countries are likely to result in mutual security becoming an important issue. Water, energy sources (mainly oil) and even environmental issues may emerge as causes of future conflict between states.

The Security Environment

  1. The security challenges facing India are varied and complex. India has two unsettled borders. The country has experienced four major conventional border wars besides an undeclared war fought in Kargil in 1999. She is engaged in an externally abetted proxy war for the last several years in Jammu and Kashmir and has been combating terrorism perpetuated by militant and terrorist groups sponsored by a foreign State. At the same time, a number of insurgencies, spurred by tribal and ethnic aspirations in addition to left wing ideologies are being tackled in various parts of the country. A number of nuclear weapon states are in India’s neighbourhood; hostile, radical or fundamentalist elements gaining access to and posing a threat with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is also a possibility. It is in such an environment that the Indian Army is required to fulfil its roles in varied operating conditions across the entire spectrum of conflict.

Nature of Future Warfare

  1. Like terrorism today, the likelihood of ‘asymmetric wars’ becoming the form of warfare of tomorrow is being discussed quite widely. Nonetheless, the fact that all countries continue to lay emphasis on preparedness for conventional war, underscores the predominant view that asymmetric wars cannot replace conventional wars, even though they can very much become an adjunct of and influence conventional wars themselves.

  2. Future wars are likely to be characterised by: -

    • Emerging at short notice, being of short duration and being fought at high tempo and intensity.

    • Non-linear conduct of operations.

    • Deeper and wider combat zones due to increased reach of integral firepower and surveillance resources, including space-based systems.

    • Added emphasis on the all-arms concept and need for increased jointmanship between the land, naval and air forces.

    • Enhanced reliance on a variety of surveillance systems and, resultantly, greater availability of information contributing to increased transparency of the battlefield.

    • Improved accuracy, lethality and stand-off capability of weapons leading to greater destructive capability.

    • Ascendancy of Network Centric Warfare (NCW), Information Warfare (IW) and conduct of operations under the glare of the media.

    • Threat from enemy special forces, insurgents and terrorists to rear areas which will necessitate earmarking of troops to provide security to lines of communication.

Let him who desires peace, prepare for war”.

Vegetius, De Re Militari,iii,378.


My Indian Divisions after 1943 were among the best in the world. They go anywhere, do anything, go on doing it, and do it on very little”.
Field Marshal Sir William Slim, Defeat Into Victory, 1956.

  1. Role of the Indian Army. The Indian Army is the land component of the Indian Armed Forces which exist to uphold the ideals of the Constitution of India. As a major component of national power, along with the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force, the roles of the Indian Army are as follows :-

    • Primary Role. Preserve national interests and safeguard sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of India against any external threats by deterrence or by waging war.

    • Secondary Role. Assist Government agencies to cope with ‘proxy war’ and other internal threats and provide aid to civil authority when requisitioned for the purpose.

  2. Command and Control of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. As in all democracies, the Indian Armed Forces are controlled by the elected political leadership of the nation (Government of India). Executive control is exercised sequentially through the Union Cabinet, the Defence Minister, the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and the Chiefs of Army, Naval and Air Staff of their respective Services. The Ministry of Defence handles matters related to personnel, financial and resource management.

  3. Tasks of the Indian Army. The Indian Army serves as the ultimate instrument for maintaining the unity and the integrity of the nation in the face of external threats and internal unrest and disturbances. The major tasks of the Indian Army are as follows: -

    • Effectively project deterrence and dissuasion through the medium of strong, well-structured combat capability.

    • Be prepared to engage in and conduct all types of military operations, singly or jointly, in the entire spectrum of conflict.

    • Provide the requisite land forces component of the Strategic Forces Command.

    • Provide aid to civil authority when called upon to do so for maintenance of law and order, humanitarian aid and assistance during disasters and calamities or any other circumstances including maintenance of essential services.

    • Participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations in consonance with India’s commitment to the United Nations Charter.

    • Be prepared to render military assistance to friendly countries when required to do so.

It is not big armies that win battles; it is the good ones”.
Maurice de Saxe, Mes Reveries, 1732.






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