India`s `Cold Start` doctrine a mixture of myth and reality: US
Washington: India may never put to use its
"Cold Start" doctrine on a battlefield because of substantial
and serious resource constraints, US Ambassador to India
Timothy Roemer says, calling it a "mixture of myth and
reality", according to a leaked US cable by WikiLeaks.
The implementation of Indian Army`s "Cold Start"
doctrine, which lacks consensus in India and has not been
fully embraced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s Government, is likely to yield "mixed results" if put to use under present circumstances, Roemer says.
Roemer also noted that India did not implement Cold
Start doctrine even after the audacious 26/11 Pakistan-linked
terror attack in Mumbai.
"The GOI failed to implement Cold Start in the wake of
the audacious November 2008 Pakistan-linked terror attack in
Mumbai, which calls into question the willingness of the GOI
to implement Cold Start in any form and thus roll the nuclear
dice. At the same time, the existence of the plan reassures
the Indian public and may provide some limited deterrent
effect on Pakistan," the cable said.
"The Indian Army`s Cold Start doctrine is a mixture of
myth and reality. It has never been and may never be put to
use on a battlefield because of substantial and serious
resource constraints, but it is a developed operational attack
plan announced in 2004 and intended to be taken off the shelf
and implemented within a 72-hour period during a crisis. Cold
Start is not a plan for a comprehensive invasion and
occupation of Pakistan," says a Wikileaks-released US cable,
which is dated February 16 and signed off by Roemer.
"Instead, it calls for a rapid, time-and distance-
limited penetration into Pakistani territory with the goal of
quickly punishing Pakistan, possibly in response to a
Pakistan-linked terrorist attack in India, without threatening
the survival of the Pakistani state or provoking a nuclear
response," the cable says.
"It was announced by the BJP-led government in 2004,
but the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has not publicly embraced Cold Start and GOI (Government of India) uncertainty over Pakistani nuclear restraint may inhibit
future implementation by any government," it said, adding that if the India were to implement Cold Start given its present
military capabilities, it is the collective judgment of the US
Mission that India would encounter mixed results.
"We think that the November 2008 Pakistan-linked
terror attack in Mumbai and its immediate aftermath provide
insight into Indian and Pakistani thinking on Cold Start.
First, the GOI refrained from implementing Cold Start even
after an attack as audacious and bloody as the Mumbai attack,
which calls into serious question the GOI`s willingness to
actually adopt the Cold Start option," the cable said.
Second, the Pakistanis have known about Cold Start
since 2004, but this knowledge does not seem to have prompted them to prevent terror attacks against India to extent such
attacks could be controlled. This fact calls into question
Cold Start`s ability to deter Pakistani mischief inside
India," the cable said.
"Even more so, it calls into question the degree of
sincerity of fear over Cold Start as expressed by Pakistani
military leaders to USG officials. Cold Start is not India`s
only or preferred option after a terrorist attack. Depending
on the nature, location, lethality, public response, and
timing of a terrorist attack, India might not respond at all
or could pursue one of several other possible options," it
"Finally, several very high level GOI officials have
firmly stated, when asked directly about their support for
Cold Start, that they have never endorsed, supported, or
advocated for this doctrine. One of these officials is former
National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, who has recently been replaced. While the army may remain committed to the goals of
the doctrine, political support is less clear," it said.
It said Indian leaders realise that, although Cold
Start is designed to punish Pakistan in a limited manner
without triggering a nuclear response, they can`t be sure
whether Pakistani leaders will in fact refrain from such a
"Even in the absence of a Pakistani nuclear response,
GOI leaders are aware also that even a limited Indian
incursion into Pakistan will likely lead to international
condemnation of Indian action and a resulting loss of the
moral high ground that GOI leaders believe India enjoys in its
contentious relationship with Pakistan," it said.
According to the cable, the Indian Government`s intent
to ever actually implement Cold Start is very much an open
question. "The Cold Start doctrine was announced in April 2004 by the BJP-led government that was replaced shortly thereafter by the Manmohan Singh government, which has not since publicly embraced Cold Start," it said.
"A political green-light to implement Cold Start,
fraught as it is with potential nuclear consequences, would
involve a highly opaque decision-making process and would
likely necessitate broad political consensus, a factor that
could prolong the time between a precipitating event such as a
Pakistan-linked terror attack and Cold Start deployment
(which in turn could reduce the element of surprise)," it
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