New Doctrine for Indian Air Force (IAF)

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    The Indian Air Force (IAF) needs a revised guiding document to help it navigate ahead smoothly.

     

    Key Points

    • Need for Doctrinal Guidance: 
      • Presently it is debatable whether some breakthrough or efforts for indigenisation are being guided by some long-term institutionalised thinking and planning.
      • Because for longer and permanent effects, doctrinal guidance is required.
    • Guidance must include:
      • Ideas influenced by past experience, 
      • Present capability and 
      • Capacity of technological research and 
      • Development and manufacturing, 
      • Human resource availability and 
      • An organisational environment that encourages free thinking and 
      • A deliberation of fresh ideas. 
    • Need to change IAF’s Old doctrine: 
      • India’s intent to dominate conflict escalation is reflected in its 2012 airpower doctrine. 
      • It goes beyond outlining merely what airpower is, in terms of its roles, and explains to a far greater extent what airpower is for.
      • In contrast to the previous IAF doctrine, and, indeed, most Western airpower doctrine, the 2012 version makes a much clearer connection between airpower and national security
      • The IAF doctrine does not go as far as some previous British airpower doctrine, which suggests that control of the air is an end in itself.
      • It is time that the doctrine of the Indian Air Force (IAF) — it is of 2012 vintage — is reviewed and made public to guide the future development and application of India’s air power. 
    • Incorporate: 
      • Technology has progressed exponentially. 
      • Artificial intelligence and machine learning are being refined to mimic human cognitive abilities and intuition. 
    • Roles and Functions in aspect of Space:
      • The roles and missions of the IAF would have to be re-assessed since space will be a major, if not a central, player in future conflicts. 
      • The weaponization of space must be accepted, the Outer Space Treaty notwithstanding. 

     

    Learning from the USA

    • America’s nuclear asymmetry, post the Second World War was lost when the USSR was on a par. 
    • To counter this, the U.S. brought in the Revolution in Military Affairs, seen so vividly in the 1990-91 Gulf War. 
    • This turnaround took dedicated research teams under programmes that had continuity from 1965, and political backing under different Presidential administrations. 

     

    Way Ahead for IAF

    • An inter-ministerial endeavour is needed, but this has to be institutionalised through a published doctrine.
    • With depleting fighter strength, Indian Air Force looks to speed up Su-30 fleet modernisation
    • New Doctrine should cater to:
      • The loss of air superiority has, and will, spell doom for a nation that chooses to neglect it; the IAF’s doctrine must expound on this aspect as an imperative despite the high financial commitment required.
      • For acceleration of fresh thought, personnel have to feel secure — they have to have the psychological high ground in order to be vocal with their ideas. The IAF’s new doctrine must accept this, even as it acknowledges that new technology would result in an information overload which actually accentuates stress in human resources.
      • A doctrinal alignment for expeditionary movements of raw materials must find a place in the document.
      • The IAF doctrine must underscore that ‘national defence’ is a national endeavour and should not be filtered through a prism of the political dispensation at the helm.
    • A call on how air power, with its niche strike, Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and precision attack capabilities would be merged in the drive towards jointness would be an imperative. 
    • Working on Theatrisation should not be slowed or stopped due to this.
    • With India trying to cement its place as a regional power of reckoning, these combat support assets are also vital for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief that are important cogs in military diplomacy and foreign policy. 
      • Neglecting them would be to India’s disadvantage, more so because they are critical too in sustaining kinetic power. 

    Source: TH