Insaf for the Armed Forces
May 24th, 2012
Author: Meinhaj Hussain
Nature of the document: Proposal
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“The key aspect in removing this brown sahib mentality is to carefully consider the institutional aspects by which the disease replicates itself and then making policies to judiciously correct those elements.”
1. The Problems of the Pakistan Armed Forces
-1.1 Under-Equipped & Out-dated Equipment
-1.2 Secular-Servile Mentality
-1.3 Incompetence in the basic art of war
-1.4 Joint Forces Coordination Problem
-1.5 Organizational Restructure
-1.6 Close Air Support
-1.7 Air Defence Artillery
-1.8 Air Force
-2. Building Real Military Strength
-3. People’s Army
-3.1 A Three-tiered Army
-4. The Future Ahead
-4.1 Air Defence and the Future
Insaf for the Armed Forces
Despite the doom and gloom of the present crisis in the Western Front, the Pakistan defence establishment remains one of the few institutions in the Muslim world that have the ability to execute successful long-term strategic defence policies. Some of the highlights of this success include the pursuit of nuclear weapons, the establishment of such weapons manufacturing facilities as Wah, Kahuta, Kamra and Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) as well as various defence laboratories and facilities that produce everything from tanks, combat aircraft, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and a wide variety of other devices. We shall later look more closely at the vital importance of such a nascent military-industrial complex. To achieve this feat, Pakistan has had approximately 50,000 engineers, scientists and other skilled workers, and an additional 10,000-15,000 foreign qualified engineers and scientists.
I will not bore the reader with the basic data of the armed forces of Pakistan in general and other well-known information, instead this paper is going to focus on some key and lesser known aspects in the most concise manner possible. This paper will begin by looking at some of the weaknesses of the Pakistan armed forces and how they can be addressed. It will then look at the problem of building a viable military-industrial complex. Afterwards I shall move on to considering a solution to the endemic problem of military coups and finally end by considering the future of warfare. I am broadly considering a 5-10 year time-frame in this paper.
As a final word before we begin, criticism of the Pakistan armed forces is sometimes taken as unpatriotic and anti-state. The following section is written with all good intent and a desire to fix some of the issues for a better and stronger Pakistan.
1. The Problems of the Pakistan Armed Forces
We begin here by looking at the problems and issues faced by the Pakistan Armed Forces, starting with the perennial problem of equipment.
1.1 Under-Equipped & Out-dated Equipment
For all the vaunted propaganda about how great and strong the military is, and showcasing missiles and tanks, the basic units of the Pakistan Army (PA) are under-equipped and a big portion of their equipment is outdated. This is a problem related to the size of the Army, which has to keep reasonable comparability with India. What happens is that when equipment is to be retired, it is delayed and new equipment is used to raise new units. With the last ten years of low intensity war, the state of which drastically increases the wear and tear of military gear, the problem has only gotten worse. A shiny tank often hides big problems with other, less glamorous but highly critical equipment. Internally the Army is facing acute shortages such as general military vehicles, obsolete anti-aircraft guns, recoilless rifles and even the basic infantry platoon equipment are aging and old.
The basic backpack of the soldier is both outdated and needs to be rethought. The question has to be asked and thoroughly experimented with – what should be the load factor of the infantry soldier? Should he still carry for instance, a shaving kit to battle? We cannot expect the Pakistani soldier to carry the same loads as the Western soldier, simply because the Pakistani infantryman does not have the privileged transportation options that his Western counterpart does, nor is the climate conducive to this. Clearly there is a need for rethinking here.
General Kayani recently noted that 75% of the budget is going to paying salaries and similar operational expenses. This leaves very little money to replace and buy new equipment. Pakistan is not the US and is unable to sustain a long low-intensity attrition war. A solution to this problem will be presented later in this paper within the context of the military-industrial complex.
1.2 Secular-Servile Mentality
The Pakistan armed forces emerged from the British Indian armed forces that previously were serving the very colonial power that the people of the Subcontinent fought to be liberated from. They are from the same stock that were used to put down countless rebellions against the colonizers who looted the Subcontinent and caused famines that killed tens of millions, turning many prosperous and proud nations into an impoverished and helpless lot. This mentality cultivated over hundreds of years, did not change simply by changing name-plates, it remains deeply ingrained in the psyche, particularly of the Pakistan armed forces which within a decade snatched political power from the elected representatives and Ayub Khan ably demonstrated in numerous occasions who his real masters were. I speak tongue-in-cheek here given that my grandfather served as a Minister of Parliament under Ayub Khan.
This brown sahib mentality has continued apace and the reader is in all probability fully aware of examples of its frequent manifestations. The important point is to look at the bright side – Ibn Khaldun notes that it takes a minimum of 40 years to cure the slave mentality of the conquered. Pakistan is thus at a ripe stage to finally retire this harmful aspect of our colonial past.
The key aspect in removing this brown sahib mentality is to carefully consider the institutional aspects by which the disease replicates itself and then making policies to judiciously correct those elements, some of which are listed here:
- Recruitment policy (English-language based testing, should be Urdu)
- Norms, etiquettes and mannerisms (replace Western mannerisms with local / Islamic)
- Leisure activities and civic amenities
- Foreign (Western) training
- Unofficial policy of discrimination against religious types and official policy of secularism
Pakistan armed forces policy of recruitment emphasizes the English language. This is a key element where the nation’s populace is discriminated on the basis of an alien language. The armed forces also continue many mannerisms, etiquettes and norms from British India days. The prevalence of “butlers” and other personal peons is one case in point. Leisure activities of senior officers include massive golf courses, paid for and kept by the Armed forces.
The policy of having officers sent on training to foreign (Western) countries needs to be stopped as it is yet another aspect of transferring servitude often in very direct conspiracies. In many cases, officers returning from training from such destinations are given privilege and preference over locals, creating a perpetual vicious circle of brown sahib mentalities. The armed forces have very direct policies of secularism and unofficial yet active policies of discrimination of religiously inclined individuals. This later element became near-official policy during Musharraf’s dictatorship. Copying the clothing of the dominant nations by servile nations has a long and curious history, well documented by Ibn Khaldun. Today, while the armed forces are suffering from massive budget problems, the Pakistan Army is busy shifting its dress code to a US-style uniform. In this connection, Ibn Khaldun writes a pithy insight:
“The vanquished always want to imitate the victor in his distinctive characteristics, his dress, his occupation, and all his other conditions and customs.
“The reason for this is that the soul always sees perfection in the person who is superior to it and to whom it is subservient. It considers him perfect, either because it is impressed by the respect it has for him, or because it erroneously assumes that its own subservience to him is not due to the nature of defeat but to the perfection of the victor. If that erroneous assumption fixes itself in the soul, it becomes a firm belief. The soul, then, adopts all the manners of the victor and assimilates itself to him. This, then, is imitation.
“Or, the soul may possibly think that the superiority of the victor is not the result of his group feeling or great fortitude, but of his customs and manners. This also would be an erroneous concept of superiority, and (the consequences) would be the same as in the former case.
“Therefore, the vanquished can always be observed to assimilate themselves to the victor in the use and style of dress, mounts, and weapons; indeed, in everything.”
“This goes so far that a nation dominated by another, neighbouring nation will show a great deal of assimilation and imitation. At this time, this is the case in Spain. The Spaniards are found to assimilate themselves to the Galician nations in their dress, their emblems, and most of their customs and conditions. This goes so far that they even draw pictures on the walls and have them in buildings and houses. The intelligent observer will draw from this the conclusion that it is a sign of being dominated by others.”
He also warns the true danger of this disease noting that “A nation that has been defeated and has come under the rule of another nation will quickly perish.”
The young crop of Pakistani army officers ranging up to the rank of Major is cognizant of these issues and are far more indigenous and religious than the upper echelons. However, the top management has been keeping this massive demographic under check through biased and discriminatory promotion policies. This needs to be corrected.
Insh’Allah we hope that the PTI will be able to address all these issues in an effective manner; in some cases merely making an issue public and keeping it constantly on the face of the armed forces and thereby creating political pressure is perhaps enough to force them to change.
1.3 Incompetence in the basic art of war
While the Pakistan Army has often claimed they are forced to take political authority because of the gross incompetence of the rulers, it is also unfortunate that the armed forces have severe shortcomings in their mastery of the art of war. Their basic deployment strategy, largely based on the railway system dates back to the 1870 Franco-Prussian war. Their fighting tactics are closer to WWI tactics than the fluid dynamics of WWII and beyond. For instance, on both sides of the border, the Pakistani and Indian armies have dug up a water/ditch obstacle the length of much of the country. The PA is unable to utilize in combat division size armoured manoeuvres. Their defences remain static in nature.
The Army also does not research and practice military strategy and tactics. While all the requisite textbooks are taught, the nature of the teaching is highly rote-learned and ineffective. The average military officer is not well-versed or able to fully appreciate or understand military strategy and tactics. Guderian and Rommel are names known but their ideas are not ideas that live and breathe in the hearts of Pakistani army officers. Memorization before examination is the central strategy of passing the “required examinations”. Military exercises, while looking impressive in terms of numbers and equipment utilized, have merely become mobilization and logistics exercises.
The results are for all to see – incompetence at virtually every war from 1965 to Kargil. Blunder after blunder, and both the PA and the Indian Army run around like headless chicken. This is the result of the inability of either army to produce thinking strategists, something the British were not keen on teaching Subcontinentals.
Unable to think and proactively discuss military strategy, the PA has become imitation and doctrine prone. This mentality will do nothing to survive the technology and information wave, which we shall see later, will create a Schumpeterian moment for military conflicts in the future. We need leaders and innovators, not mindless brown sahibs who follow the latest trend taken up by the West. The present state is such that it may actually be better to bring back the British to run the Army rather than continue as we are going.
A final problem I wish to address is the problem of exceedingly poor professional standards. Here is a list of the basic requirements of becoming a soldier:
15 repetitions in 2 minutes
15 repetitions in 2 minutes
3 repetitions in 2 minutes
1.6 km in 7.5 minutes
7 feet four inches
Such a requirement would bring ridicule if widely known. Such shameful standards do not make a “professional” army. Even worse – soldiers have very poor technology skills; tank crews are of very poor quality and are unable to utilize the technology in tanks effectively. In a previous war, tank crews did not use the thermal sights simply because they were unfamiliar with technology.
Tank crews and other technology operators are a significant problem for the army. The problem is structural; the British tended to recruit villagers because of their physical sturdiness and docility to their authority. This has continued on the basis of tradition and practice. The way to correct this recruitment-structure problem is to create a specific category (or categories) of NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) that are specifically recruited from urban and technology-savvy populations. Such “Technology NCOs” can be recruited on a separate basis on carefully considered criteria. Tanks are not the only technology issue – in the present Salalah crisis it has been learned that a simple manpad (shoulder fired Surface-to-Air Missile) requires specially trained troops to operate them, from air defence units. This boggles the mind because even the Taliban are more than capable of picking up a manpad and using it with minimal training. As is often the case, incompetence appears to be hiding behind doctrine. And how will such men meet the challenges of 21st Century warfare?
1.4 Joint Forces Coordination Problem
There is a major problem of the three services of the Pakistan Armed Forces not coordinating or operating jointly as one integrated whole. In fact, in many cases they are not cooperating even during critical aspects of an on-going war. An example from the past is when a pilot informed the PAF that he had spotted Indian missile boats headed towards Karachi. The PAF did not inform the PN and the subsequent highly damaging attacks on Karachi harbour are well-known. In war, each service essentially fights its own battle; there is no real or effective joint cooperation.
A more recent example of this conflict and mutual distrust relates to the Kargil operation, when the PAF was kept in the dark for most of the planning phase. The PAF was unable to provide what was perceived by the Army as adequate support during the conflict, which was countered by the PAF by a ubiquitous “not having enough spares” to sustain sorties. Yet at the same time it was the Army who noted that PAF would have no role in the conflict as they had “Stingers on every peak”. The bottom line of all of this is that PAF considers the Army to be a bunch of bungling buffoons who have no appreciation of PAF’s service, political realities or even sane operational planning. Former Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail, in an article titled ‘Himalayan Showdown’ explains the case in the following words:
“The flaws in the Kargil Plan that led to these failures were almost palpable and, could not have escaped even a layman’s attention during a cursory examination. The question arises as to why all the planners got blinded to the obvious? Could it be that some of the sub-ordinates had the sight but not the nerve in the face of a powerful superior? In hierarchical organisations, there is precious little room for dissent, but in autocratic ones like the military, it takes more than a spine to disagree, for there are very few commanders who are large enough to allow such liberties. It is out of fear of annoying the superior – which also carries with it manifold penalties and loss of promotion and perks – that the majority decide to go along with the wind.
“In a country where democratic traditions have never been deep-rooted, it is no big exposé to point out that the military is steeped in an authoritarian, rather than a consensual approach. To my mind, there is an urgent need to inculcate a more liberal culture that accommodates different points of view – a more lateral approach, so to speak. Disagreement during planning should be systemically tolerated and, not taken as a personal affront. Unfortunately, many in higher ranks seem to think that rank alone confers wisdom and, anyone displaying signs of intelligence at an earlier stage is, somehow, an alien in their ‘star-spangled’ universe.
“Kargil, I suspect, like the ‘65 and ‘71 Wars, was a case of not having enough dissenters (‘devil’s advocates’, if you will) during planning, because everyone wanted to agree with the boss. That single reason, I think, was the root cause of most of the failures that were apparent right from the beginning. If this point is understood well, remedial measures towards tolerance and liberalism can follow as a matter of course. Such an organisational milieu, based on honest appraisal and fearless appeal, would be conducive to sound and sensible planning. It would also go a long way in precluding Kargil-like disasters.”
That damning assessment surely has merit, but there is yet another issue that comes up; such an assessment gives insight into the level of acrimony between these two important institutions. Matters have reached a boiling point now post-Salalah attack: The Army has issued an RoE (Rules of Engagement) paper regarding the Western border. It supposedly passed on this document to the Air Force for comment and it appears that the Air Force did not respond. In the absence of validated information, the author will proceed here with speculating the exact issue at hand.
PAF appears to be disregarding the Army because it understands the consequences of directly confronting NATO and US airpower. Like Kargil, the PAF does not have a high opinion of the Army’s understanding of the geo-political realities or the capabilities of various forces. The PAF wants to wait for orders from the political administration, which in effect means it wants to wash its hands of any such responsibility. While they understand that public opinion (and PA’s opinion) of the vaunted excellence of the PAF is at an all-time low, the PAF is all too aware of the huge gap in capabilities between the PAF and the USAF. The USAF is at least 30 years ahead of everybody else and is fielding technology that the world at large is not even aware of.
However, if the PAF is unable to defend Pakistani skies, then they are failing their primary mission, and it is obvious to everyone that the issue of getting a political nod is an attempt to shirk its responsibilities.
What is even more damning is that the PAF is continuing to receive F-16s from the US and sending its pilots for training there, in addition to maintaining and growing its ties. The F-16s and other PAF equipment that it has received from the US, including a large number of their radar assets are near useless against US/NATO forces. Is the PAF showing insightfulness or are they mindlessly infatuated with the F-16?
I think that, all said and done, we cannot micromanage PAF and the institution should be trusted with its judgment of the air defence scenario, and their professionalism and good-intent given the benefit of the doubt. However, the inter-services conflict must be effectively resolved by rationalizing the roles and responsibilities and restructuring the organizational architecture of the armed forces. Indeed, unity of command and unity of effort are among the basic and most fundamental military concepts. “Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure.” (61:4)
The problem was brought up after the 1971 war and it was decided to create an Office of Joint Chief of Staff (OJCOS), however, this was not effectively put into place. Today the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee is a toothless enterprise that serves as a ceremonial and symbolic head and does not provide that important link between the services. Another exercise was started of exchanging officers between the services; however, this has also not resulted in any meaningful friendliness between the forces.
The solution has to be comprehensive and should delineate clearly the roles and responsibilities, which themselves need to be carefully reconsidered and rationalized. The example to follow is perhaps the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) which shows a unitary structure under which all services are subordinated. This may be a hard pill to swallow for the PAF and the PA but it must be implemented. The solutions are given here under the heading of Organizational Restructure, Close Air Support and Air Defence Artillery.
1.5 Organizational Restructure
As noted earlier, to solve the problem of conflicts, rivalries and confusion of roles, the solution is to go back to the basics of unity of command and unity of effort. This can be done by creating a viable Office of Joint Chief of Staff (OJCOS). To ensure that this is not a lame duck organization, the OJCOS office will be entrusted with appointing the top officers of all the armed forces. The OJCOS will have direct line authority over the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and other chiefs of staff and liaise with their direct subordinates including Corps commanders and Air Marshals. The OJCOS must have a sizeable staff and would be mandated to focus on issues of joint forces command as well as being the highest military decision making body. The OJCOS will be headed alternatively by the Army and the Air Force, and once the Navy has been brought up-to-scratch, perhaps they may get a turn (more on the Navy later).
1.6 Close Air Support
There is also a fundamental problem of organizational division based on equipment utilized rather than based on area of activity. Thus for instance, in the former case, combat aircraft will be operated by the Air Force and tanks and APCs by the Army. The latter case though would be a better way to organize. Activity-based division would allow superior coordination in achieving the objectives of that activity. This will also drastically reduce the friction and animosity between the services.
An example of this friction is the problem of Close Air Support. Let me note a few of these problems in a cursory and simple manner for the ordinary reader. Typically in a war where both sides are relatively well-matched, the air force will focus on winning the air war first and foremost because this is of critical importance to them. They will thus tend to neglect Close Air Support (CAS) for the army. However, the army is in dire need of CAS and does not understand the air force. Most modern armed forces have this rift between the two arms. The fundamental problem is an organizational theory case study. The services are separated on the basis of equipment being operated. Thus, combat aircraft will be operated by the Air Force and tanks and APCs by the Army.
If we focus on an activity-based division, destroying enemy tanks, artillery, troops, and more on the battlefield is a task that is conducted by CAS aircraft, tanks, artillery, anti-tank troops, etc. This is a different activity than fighting enemy fighter aircraft for defending the national air space or striking strategic targets deep inside enemy territory. Since before, combat aircraft were multirole and each aircraft could do a wide range of tasks, this division was not clear. However, today, combat aircraft have evolved in a way that it does not make sense to use highly sophisticated, multi-million dollar aircraft to drop bombs on the battlefield. CAS is far more suited to a cheap, rugged aircraft operated by the Army.
Close integration of this component is vital as CAS aircraft operate very close to own troops, and could easily bomb them otherwise. Another important factor regarding close integration is that CAS aircraft can also play an important role as a pair of eyes over the battlefield area for the ground commander. If the CAS pilot lives and works with the army officers, he or she will have a better understanding of what to look out for, how the game is being played and what in those given circumstances his or her role should be.
The conflict of interest created by different primary objectives is another factor. The air force is tasked with the safeguard of the skies. The army is tasked with the safeguard of the earthen territory. The air force as such is wont to utilize all its assets for its primary objective while neglecting CAS which is a secondary objective. Yet in modern warfare CAS is critical to army operations.
In short, CAS should be removed from the role of the PAF and handed to the PA. Modern air combat is enough of a burden and it is widely noted that Western air arms that focus on CAS tend to degrade their skills in air combat. Let the PAF focus on the task of defending the air space and conducting deep strikes, and allow the Army to deal with the business of destroying enemy tanks, artillery, etc. on the battlefield. Each can focus on its task at hand without stepping on the other’s shoe, so to speak.
1.7 Air Defence Artillery
In the late 1990s, a study was commissioned by the Army to research the pros and cons of having a separate anti-aircraft service. A Pakistani Army officer spent three years researching and when he was to present the findings, General Musharraf walked in, told him that whatever his research was that anti-aircraft artillery would not be separated from the army but he would be happy to hear his presentation. Such Machiavellian attitudes unfortunately do nothing to benefit the nation when the interest of an institution is put over and above those of the country. The report needs to be dusted off and perhaps made available to decision makers.
My personal views are that strategic, long and medium range SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) systems need to be organized under a separate service that falls under the PAF, similar to the relationship of US Marines to the US Navy. This implies a high degree of independence and a separate budget allocated not by the PAF but by the proposed OJCOS. Modern strategic air defence requires very close coordination and integration with all strategic assets including the national radar net and air force fighters and other airborne assets. At the same time, air forces have a tendency to idealize air combat and pay less attention to less glamorous but effective anti-aircraft assets. These two reasons and similar reasons dictate that the organization of Strategic Air Defence Artillery should be as has been proposed here.
Tactical anti-aircraft assets however should reside with the Army, as these are best employed organically with army formations, which is what is their primary concern of defence. This makes both pragmatic sense and because employment of tactical versus strategic anti-aircraft assets are theoretically diametrically opposite to each other. Let us now move on to consider some specific issues of import to the secondary armed services.
1.8 Air Force
The Pakistan Air Force has been a great asset and a symbol of excellence that all Pakistanis have been proud of. PAF has shown again and again that it is able to not only meet world standards, but despite the dismal lack of funds and resources, is able to carry the torch as one of the world’s most professional air arms. However, it is with some distress that PAF appears to be losing its touch in terms of professionalism.
For instance, at the Dubai Air Show 2011, PAF officials brought their families along showing a clear lack of professionalism in having come there for a specific purpose. The problem is perhaps not primarily PAF’s fault, standards may have been falling since General Musharraf and subsequent rulers picked the least qualified officer, of the given pool of talent, to run the enterprise. This has been done by subsequent governments to attempt to tame PAF and get them to do the bidding of the political masters. While in the case of CAS (Chief of Air Staff) Mushaf, the damage was not fortunately done, as CAS Mushaf stood his ground and provided visionary leadership to build locally manufactured JF-17s, in partnership with China.
However, this same tactic by political governments, repeated over and over again may just be negatively impacting PAF. The solution to this problem is by allowing PAF to choose its own CAS internally and the political administration only having the ability to dismiss a given chief in case he is proved to have failed his duty or engaged in some activity that warrants his dismissal. A PAF pedigree officer staffed committee in OJCOS can thus be the body that decides on a CAS for the PAF, along with input from the then present leadership.
The Pakistan Navy has been suffering from endemic corruption at the top. This was manifested during the hugely damaging Agusta-B submarine debacle where “compromise” meant the guilty chief was allowed to return some money in exchange of a pardon. This is not the way Insaf is created in the land. It encourages future corruption and that is exactly what has happened. I would note that my own sources suggest that the PN is still suffering from corruption at the top and this is supported by a personal account given by a senior Navy officer. The Pakistan Navy quite recently acquired a fleet of brand new S-Class Mercedes for the CNS, along with new luxury SUVs for his security escort. In the present economic and naval circumstances, this by itself cannot be a good sign.
I strongly believe the PTI should fully investigate and thoroughly clean-up the PN. No easy exits for those found to have compromised their integrity. There is a saying in the United States defence circles in the Beltway that the Army is dumb, the Air Force is deceptive and the Navy is dishonest. It appears this may fit Pakistan as much as the United States.
The PN is also suffering from an inability to think outside the box. Pakistan does not have the resources to compete with the Indian Navy symmetrically; the solution has to be asymmetric. However, the PN is more focused on getting conventional assets, and even at the detriment of the vitally important air defence aspect. Without proper air defence, the PN is likely to find itself in the bottom of the ocean in any future conflict given the IN’s use of air assets combined with systems such as the BrahMos ALCM (Air Launched Cruise Missile). It is either that or she will have to shelter in the ports of Karachi and Gwadar, in a repeat performance of 1971. Not having proper air defence is tantamount to criminal negligence at this point in time, it cannot be tolerated. Whether this is provided by fighter aircraft under naval command or by air defence frigates is a different matter.
The PN has to let go of prestige and empire-building. It is surely helpful to the ego to have a large number of officers and commanding large warships but at the end of the day, the focus should be defending Pakistan not self-serving delusions of grandeur. Corruption and empire-building has eroded the competence and professionalism of the force and the recent Mehran base attack is a clear symptom of the state of affairs.
One last issue is that the Naval Headquarters need to be sent back to the shoreline rather than in land-locked Islamabad. The naval command needs to be closer to her men rather than the political and diplomatic vagaries of the capital. Surely, the PN should have thought of that before moving to Islamabad in the first place?
2. Building Real Military Strength
Buying / begging foreign military gear, suiting and booting up in the dress-code of NATO forces and making tall claims about military capabilities are good to scare and impress the local populace, but does not help much in any real conflict that will last more than 2 months. That is approximately how long both India and Pakistan would be able to sustain themselves in any future conflict. Real military strength instead is built on local industrial capability, local technology, and strategy and tactics built around those elements.
The central importance here is to build real and local military-industrial capability. This has to be built in conjunction with the overall national industrial capability. For this we need productive and efficient defence industries backed by solid research and development. The problem is that Pakistan’s research and development institutions and programs, barring a few successes, are highly inefficient and ineffective, over and above being burdened by perennial lack of funds.
There are many horror stories but one that serves to illustrate the point is the story of Integrated Dynamics founder Raja Sabri Khan, whose TEDx Karachi talk highlighted his frustration with the defence research establishment and how he finally began to work on his own. To this day the PA is unable to acquire capable and competent UAVs for its operations and remains dependent on US Predator drones and other assets. Their own internally researched UAVs are incompetently built, neither stable enough to give the quality of image necessary, nor with gear good enough for taking those pictures. Meanwhile, the PA ignores Integrated Dynamics which otherwise enjoys contracts from a wide range of international clients including the US border security!
The defence research establishments of countries tend to spearhead R&D for most major economies, so it is critical for Pakistan to get this right. The problem of running a proper R&D effort is a universal one, and there are far more cases of incompetence and blunders than ones that get it right. One of the most widely known success stories has been Lockheed Martin’s “Skunk Works”, legendary R&D organization that has created a large number of constant successes. Skunk Works is perhaps America’s greatest weapon; they have won wars long before those wars started; for instance the F-117s stealth planes over Iraq at the early dawn of Gulf War I. Ben Rich, one of the key men who ran Skunk Works after the legendary Kelly Johnson, describe the difference of Skunk Works from other R&D programs. On receiving an offer from a rival company that Rich revealed to his then boss Johnson, this was the reaction he got:
Hell, in the main plant they give raises on the basis of the more people being supervised; I give raises to the guy who supervises least. That means he’s doing more and taking more responsibility. But most executives don’t think like that at all. Northrop’s senior guys are no different from all of the rest in this business: they’re all empire builders, because that’s how they’ve been trained and conditioned. Those guys are all experts at covering their asses by taking votes on what to do next. They will never sit still for a secret operation that cuts them out entirely. Control is the name of the game, and if a Skunk Works really operates right, control is exactly what they won’t get. (Ben Rich, Skunk Works)
The bottom line is that a very radically different organization structure and modus operandi exists in Skunk Works that is worth carefully studying and replicating. On the basis of Kelly Johnson’s 14 Rules of Skunk Works, Pakistan needs to replicate Skunk Works-like programs that are characterized by lack of vertical control, minimum bureaucracy and accountants and auditors, close cooperation with the customer, clear autonomous funding and budget control, and decision making by engineers and those engaged in R&D rather than non-technical bureaucrats. Space does not allow us to go further here, but it must be reiterated that effective R&D is key and that the present system is stupendously inefficient. The reader may look up Kelly Johnson’s 14 Rules of Skunk Works and Ben Rich’s book Skunk Works, or perhaps the plethora of books, articles, papers on this form of R&D program management. I am available to provide this additional material to decision makers if necessary.
However, there is also much to learn and document in our indigenous development projects. Prime success stories have been the JF-17, the nuclear program, C41 developments and the missile development program. Despite the cloak of secrecy, it is possible to discern that at least in some of these programs we have not only met the West in competence but trumped them on an occasion or two.
One such occasion is the JF-17 program, a fighter development program that defies belief. The JF-17 is on its way to bring a revolution in the fighter market and provides a highly effective and lethal platform at an unbeatable price. The developing world has not seen a weapons program like the JF-17 and it would be a big let-down if lessons and best practices are not learnt from this experience.
Lastly, it must be noted that funding will flow when there is productivity; good R&D efforts generate considerable cash flows. It is only incompetence, nepotism, empire-building, red-tape and other such evils that cause a no-funding situation in the first place.
3. People’s Army
The Pakistan Army is in the habit of taking over the government whenever it finds the political climate unfavourable. This is an endemic problem and one that has had huge costs and consequences for the country, repeatedly. To ensure that there is no future coup de etat, and at the same time to beef up Pakistan’s defences, a conscript people’s army should be formed. This would be perhaps a considerably smaller army, perhaps 20,000-30,000 strong, selected randomly from matriculating students. Such an army’s main task will be to defend the capital from coups, significantly increasing the stakes for any future coup attempt. Necessary steps to reaching this goal are to banish the army from entering the federally administered territory of Islamabad.
This is in actual fact a great strategic problem as Rawalpindi, is so close and the location is of such strategic importance to the Pakistan Army. The situation may still be workable but perhaps in the long-term Pakistan should look to move to a new capital. Such a project would be discussed in a separate paper#.
For any defence policy maker, an important aspect is to understand what lies in the future in terms of defence affairs. This is particularly true given the nature and speed of developments that threatens to overwhelm those that are unable adapt.
3.1 A Three-tiered Army
The issue of modernizing the army on the one hand, and the budget reality on the other dictates that the army should be tiered similar to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). A portion should be modernized to a greater extent while a larger portion should have “good enough” equipment to fight with. This is ideal given the nature of threats being faced: insurgency on the one hand, and possibilities of limited skirmishes on the other. In addition, a people’s army as outlined above would provide the third element. This seems more realistic than attempting to modernize the entire armed forces. This general three-tiered layout also fulfils at the macro level the idea of an assault force, a holding force and a reserve force, this doctrine being perennially favoured in military history.
4. The Future Ahead
Malek Bennabi notes that if we seek to follow in the footsteps of Europe, we will always lag behind the West as we have to go through the same steps that the West has already long passed. He notes that we cannot make history by following beaten tracks; it is only possible to do so by opening new paths. Bennabi explains that making history will only be possible for us if we return to our genuine principles from Islam and derive from them efficient solutions for today.
In his seminal work The Third Wave, Alvin Toffler suggests that the world is moving to a new era. He describes the First Wave as settled agricultural society, the Second Wave as industrial society. In his words:
The Second Wave Society is industrial and based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation, mass entertainment, and weapons of mass destruction. You combine those things with standardization, centralization, concentration, and synchronization, and you wind up with a style of organization we call bureaucracy.
He considers a Third Wave to have started in the 1950s and that countries are in the process of transitioning to this new wave, which is based on information technology and can be construed as an Information Age.
If this is true and keeping in mind the drastic changes that took place with the industrial revolution, the world seems ripe for another major perhaps cataclysmic event. What this implies for warfare: just as war drastically changed from the agricultural to the industrial age, and those who were unable to progress to the new wave (including the Muslim world) were defeated, humiliated and consigned to subservience, a new Third Wave will again drastically change the social, political, economic and military structure of the world.
Those countries that are unable to adapt, to progress, to the new circumstances will suffer just as the Red Indians, Muslims, Indians, Chinese and much of the non-Western world suffered from the Second Wave.
4.1 Air Defence and the Future
In the contemporary world around us, air defence is of vital importance and wars lost in the air translate to wars lost on the ground. This is an obvious statement and anyone can look at the turning points of WWII battles and virtually every major military operation that has taken place since. At the same time, Muslim armies have been most negligent in this key aspect of warfare and have lacked the technologies, the training and the sustained investments needed.
The most effective way to counter an enemy in the air is by air combat. Although a layered and integrated air defence with SAMs is potent, historically this has been, and this is likely to continue to be the case.
With the development of a first competent Muslim combat aircraft in the JF-17, PAF has brought a new era of Muslim capability. The Iranians also have an F-5 based fighter which is still a capability even if it is not competitive against modern combat aircraft. The Turks are hoping to create a globally competitive fighter in the future, but this remains a long-term project. Yet, these capabilities only bring the Muslim world to the standard of what the West had achieved 20-30 years ago; an industrial age standard. If we forever mark our destination as the point the West is at, by the time we reach it, we will continue to be obsolete.
In a seminal book titled The Future of War: Power, Technology, and American World Dominance in the 21st Century, the authors George and Meredith Friedman argued that each category of strategic weapon systems have a life-cycle and noted that stealth manned aircraft, the pinnacle today of combat aircraft, represented a point of decline and senility for combat aircraft. The Friedmans argue that strategic weapons systems can be considered on the basis of a list of eight points. These eight points determine what stage a weapon system is in its lifecycle between strategically significant and “senile” or obsolete systems. They define a strategically significant weapon as “one that brings force to bear in such a way that it decisively erodes the war-making capability of the enemy,” while a senile weapon is defined as “the primary strategic function of the weapon has been obscured by the need to construct expensive defences against threats to the weapons platform.” They conclusively show through the historical record that strategic weapons systems have this lifecycle. They conclude that stealth manned aircraft along with aircraft carriers have reached a point of senility.
Augustine’s Law Number 16 also suggests that there must be a peak and then eventually a break in aircraft acquisition costs. Norman Augustine is one of the most respected thinkers in the US defence industry. He came up with a list of tongue-in-cheek laws based on his life-long experience in the US defence industry in some of the top positions. In Law 16 he suggests that the cost of combat aircraft increase exponentially while the budget for them increases linearly. He expresses in a humorous manner:
In the year 2054, the entire defence budget will purchase just one aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3½ days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day."
He also notes in Law Number 12 that “It costs a lot to build bad products.”
“It is very expensive to achieve high unreliability. It is not uncommon to increase the cost of an item by a factor of ten for each factor of ten degradation accomplished.” (#18)
The sum total of what he is suggesting is that the contemporary combat aircraft evolutionary path is not sustainable. This supports the thesis earlier by the Friedmans that stealth combat aircraft are reaching obsolescence and a new technology and strategic paradigm is ripe to take advantage.
What that future will look like has been glimpsed and illustrated by a small number of highly influential authors; perhaps prime among them is Peter Singer in Wired for War. In this seminal work – I realize I have been using the term seminal all too frequently in this section, but the reason for this is that the information coming out in this new territory of knowledge is as critical to the field as Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations to economics. We are at the threshold of a revolution and the names you read now with amused curiosity will someday be written in gold in the pages of history, in fact they already are in those that are involved in this field. Continuing – in his seminal work, Singer shows that what we believe to be science fiction and a distant future is already here and in fact, some of this equipment is already manufactured and being used by the US military. Others are waiting to be operationalized. Yet others are hiding in secret black projects that are poised to reveal themselves to the world. He describes this new world of breakaway military technology as built on information technology and particularly a world of automated robotics. Such robotics are already in use by the US and Israeli militaries and are silently revolutionizing warfare.
Coming back to air defence, the impending revolution in air combat is ripe to take advantage of this Third Wave. Drones are getting bigger, faster, and more capable in every way. They are taking on a vast array of roles and have / will take on the role of air defence and strike.
Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs) are an emerging technology that has the potential to revolutionize air warfare. They can be drastically superior to manned counterparts and can impact warfare in the same way that the invention of guns affected war centuries ago. What is being suggested by experts in this field, and I myself have some expertise in this field, is that UCAVs and other Information Age weapons that are emerging in a new wave sweeping human history can make or break the destiny of nations.
Among those leading the curve of this new technology, particularly applied to the military, is the United States and Israel. By some accounts Israel has a lead in some areas even over the United States. This is yet another alarm bell for the Muslims to wake up.
With that I end this paper, with the hope that insh’Allah it provided some insight to future decision makers of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, and help them solve the difficult and complex problems facing the Pakistan Armed Forces.