On Tuesday, March 12, Christopher Clary presented his and
Vipin Narang’s work on “Doctrine, Capabilities, and (In)stability in South
Asia,” as part of Stimson’s programming on deterrence stability in South Asia.
Vipin Narang is a Stanton Nuclear Security Junior
Faculty Fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.
Christopher Clary, a PhD Candidate in Political Science at MIT, previously
served as country director for South Asia in the Office of the Secretary of
Clary defined military doctrine as the statement of how
military means are employed to secure national ends, and contended that there
is a disjuncture between military capabilities and political ends in South
Asia. Rapid military modernization, doctrinal innovation, disagreements about
the nature of nuclear deterrence and escalation risks, and abnormal civil-military
relations in India and Pakistan have individually and collectively contributed
to an environment where military capabilities have outpaced military doctrine on
Three case studies demonstrated how military developments
have exacerbated this disconnect between military capabilities and national
goals in South Asia. Clary began with an assessment of the implications of
India’s decision to test in 1998, primarily: Pakistan’s rapid increase in
fissile material production and posture of nuclear first use. He next addressed
India’s “Cold Start” doctrine, arguing that it spurred Pakistan’s interest in
battlefield nuclear weapons. He also argued that “Cold Start” has
never existed in the way that Westerners thought, and suggested reframing the
lexicon away from Cold Start in favor of “proactive strategy options,” a term reflecting
both the terminology actually used within the Indian Army, and also the
somewhat limited nature of doctrinal innovation. The final case study
discussed the destabilizing effects of the continuing development of long
range, precision weapons, which have the potential to alter the nature of a
future India-Pakistan conflict.
In South Asia’s recent history, inattention to the
strategic implications of defense decisions has led to a more dangerous
situation for South Asia. In both India and Pakistan, military
capabilities have outpaced doctrinal development, and the nuclear age has made
this already problematic disconnect more hazardous.
Stimson’s programming on South Asia is
supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and by the
National Nuclear Security Administration.