World

A Cold Start to Nuclear War in South Asia

Written by Aaron Kliegman

The number of foreign-policy challenges facing President Trump is daunting—from a nuclear-armed North Korea to a revanchist Russia, from an imperialist Iran to an increasingly belligerent China. These global threats garner numerous headlines each day, and deservedly so. Amid this chaos, however, one conflict receives too little attention in Western media.

South Asia is home to the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan, the international dispute most likely to produce, in the near term, a war between two large, powerful countries in which the belligerents use nuclear weapons. Indeed, the neighboring countries, each with well over 100 nuclear warheads, have gone to war four times since 1947, in addition to several other standoffs, skirmishes, and crises that nearly escalated into war. A primary reason this bilateral tension is so concerning today is that both India and Pakistan have adopted military doctrines that make another war—a large-scale one with nuclear weapons involved—all too foreseeable. A new development from India just last week provides the latest reminder of this reality.

Gen. Bipin Rawat, chief of the Indian army, announced last Thursday that the military is launching war games next month to test “structures geared towards sudden and swift offensives into enemy territory by ‘integrated battle groups,’ or IBGs, reported Ajai Shukla, an Indian journalist and former army colonel. These new structures will be “validated” in military exercises on the ground in May.

Rawat’s comments are sure to raise eyebrows in Pakistan, because the proposed IBGs are central to India’s offensive military doctrine known as “Cold Start,” an attack plan that involves a quick, limited penetration into Pakistan, rather than a more ambitious invasion and occupation. The operation would be implemented in a crisis, likely in response to a large-scale terrorist attack that India believes is tied to Pakistan. According to a research paper by the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank based in India, the Cold Start doctrine envisions

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About the author

Aaron Kliegman

Aaron Kliegman is the news editor of the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, Aaron worked as a research associate at the Center for Security Policy, a national security think tank, and as the deputy field director on Micah Edmond's campaign for U.S. Congress. In December 2016, he received his master's degree from Johns Hopkins University’s Global Security Studies Program in Washington, D.C., with a concentration in strategic studies. He graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2014 and lives in Leesburg, Virginia. His Twitter handle is @Aaron_Kliegman. He can be reached at kliegman@freebeacon.com.