Recently, the new Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat dropped a bombshell of word by referring to army s Cold Start strategy. Many analysts had presumed that this war concept was abandoned by the army. It has never been formally accepted by the Indian government. In fact, in 2010 it was declared point-blank by the then Army Chief, Gen. V.K. Singh that Cold Start did not exist. Although he did note ambiguously that there were certain “holding” or “pivot” corps for launching limited and quick offensive operations until the main Strike Corps elements prepared and surged from the other parts of India over next several weeks.
Cold Start strategy is the attempt by army to work towards a useable, conventional retaliatory option to punish Pakistan for terrorist attacks against India without escalating the conflict to conventional or nuclear war. The idea was to create division-sized formations which can rapidly mobilize and use short-term, short-notice retaliatory options to quickly seize and hold Pakistani territory but denying Pakistan a justification to escalate the conflict and employing nuclear weapons or opening conventional war fronts. This so-called “threat” posed by Cold Start is used by Pakistan as pretext to build up its conventional and nuclear arsenal, forces and short range missiles to retaliate and deter the limited Indian military incursion.
The Cold Start, according to Pakistan is a proof of India s hostile intentions and vile designs. But does the Indian army really have the resources (human and military inventory), organization and capabilities to implement the more aggressive versions of Cold Start?