In the classic "Fire and manoeuvre' tactics practised during operations on 20th century battlefields, Artillery traditionally provided the firepower punch, with some help from the Air Force, while infantry and mechanised forces units manoeuvred to gain tactical advantage. Artillery engagements were generally limited to the contact battle and"covering fire' and "Defensive fire" was provided in a supporting role. The switchover to the concept of the seamless employment of artillery firepower will require a change in the present concept of "My artillery'. Formation commanders will have no lien on the guns. They will be provided guaranteed Artillery firepower m consonance with their rapidly changing requirements."Command" over the guns, as the term is traditionally understood, will be exercised by Artillery commanders.
• Till a few years ago, Artillery was a “supporting” arm. In the classic “fire and manoeuvre’ tactics practised during operations on 20th century battlefields, Artillery traditionally provided the firepower punch, with some help from the Air Force, while infantry and mechanised forces units (the supported arms) manoeuvred to gain tactical advantage. Artillery engagements were generally limited to the contact battle and “covering fire’ and “defensive fire” was provided in a supporting role. Artillery guns, mortars and rocket launchers were considered area weapons and the neutralisation of large areas of ground with inherent dispersion of fire, rather than destruction, was the established primary task. In fact, in a 1970s edition of the General Service Publication “The Tactical Handling of Artillery’, the words “tn support of other arms” appeared quite distinctly where the “Tactical function of Artillery” had been described. (Incidentally, these words were quietly dropped by Major SBL Kapoor (later Major General) when he got an opportunity to revise the pamphlet).
• All that has now changed. The Artillery has moved a long way from its erstwhile supporting role. In the post-Kargil scenario on the Indian Sub-continent. Artillery is clearly seen to be a decisive arm in its own right, indeed even a battle-winning one. It was clear to all perceptive observers who followed the Kargil conflict closely that, though hundreds of valiant infantrymen took back the mountains of Kargil foot-by-bloody-foot from the Pakistanis, it was the Artillery that had paved the way for victory with the overwhelming sureriority of its concentrated firepower. The Artillery has now become a purveyor of destruction and devastation on the battlefield and this new role will gain primacy in the decades ahead.
Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA)
• The ongoing revolution in revolution affairs (RMA) comprises a synergistic combination of advances in computer-based command, control, communications, information and intelligence (C412) system; enhanced reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition capabilities (RSTA); and, spectacular developments in point-kill precision guidance technologies. Of the three major components of RMA, two are in the area of responsibility of the Artillery Sophisticated surveillance and target acquisition devices (PGMs) enable the optimum employment of precision guided munitions (PGMs) and make it possible to ensure that every artillery round can be made to count and utilised to gain advantage on the modern battlefield. In the years to come, the emerging RMA technologies will be exploited further to deliver a devastating firepower punch to decimate enemy defences and attacking forces and reduce own forces’ casualties.
• Once a threat from across the borders has been discerned, or the adversary manages to evade detection and is able to penetrate India’s frontiers and establish himself inside our territory, the artillery, firing 155 millimetre precision stnke ammunition can be employed to destroy the intruding forces quickly so that the aggression can be vacated and sanctity of the international boundary restored. Today, Laser-guided artillery shells can destroy bunkers, bridges and small buildings with a single-shot kill probability (SSKP) as high as 80 percent. Targets that can be seen by the troops in contact with the enemy can be “designated” (illuminated by a laser beam) by a ground-based artillery observer (spotter) carrying a Laser Target Designator. Those targets that are behind crest lines and on reverse slopes can be designated in an airborne artillery observer in an army aviation helicopter or even by a Unarmed Aerial Vehicle(UAV).
• Improved conventional munitions (ICMs) shells carrying anti-personnel grenades and lethal “‘air-burst’’ ammunition can be “dispensed” over soft targets such as administrative bases, rations and fuel storage dumps, headquarters and rest areas. As these are not precision strike munitions, these have to be accurately directed using commando artillery observers or television camera equipped Remotely Piloted Vehicles/UAVs to achieve the desired effected. Though precision strike munitions are relatively more costly than standard high explosive (HE) shells, these “smart” munitions are more effective since only a direct hit from a “dumb” artillery shell can | destroy a bunker. When these are available in large quantities, Artillery will be able to cause much greater destruction and indirectly reduce the number of casualties that the infantry has to suffer when the inevitable assault is finally launched.
• Long-range Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers( MBRL) such as Smerch can carry the battle deep into enemy territory and the enemy’ s sensitive command centres can be hit with impunity. Had Smerch MBRLs been available during the Kargil conflict, the Pakistani HQ and administrative base at Skardu and other targets deep inside POK could have been hit with impunity. Other force multipliers include gun locating radars for effective counter-bombardment, Remotely Piloted Vehicles/UAVs equipped with television cameras and suitable for high altitude operations for target acquisition and engagement and damage assessment, powerful binoculars for target engagement by day and long-range night vision devices for the same purpose at night. These equipment, being gradually introduced into service, would increase the capability of artillery to add to its winning edge on the modern battlefield by several orders of magnitude.
Vision for the Future
• Blessed by a glorious past and based on solid foundations, the Regiment of Artillery can look forward to the future with hope and a sense of confidence. From a supporting arm with the limited role of neutralising large areas of the ground with its inherent dispersion of fire, Artillery has graduated to an arm of decision on the modem battlefield. This 1s not a position that has been bestowed by someone. This is something the Indian Artillery has earned by virtue of its performance during Operation Vijay in the Kargil conflict in 1999. It now has a new role –that of destruction in defensive as well as offensive operations.
• The Indian Artillery will increasingly play a leading role m the successful execution of integrated land-air operations on the modem battlefield. The emerging philosophy of employment of artillery firepower visualises the synergetic orchestration of all firepower resources across the length and breadth of the battlefield to cause destruction, systematically degrade the enemy’s fighting potential and suppress specific combat echelons of the enemy from operating effectively for limited duration. The latter function will include the suppression of the enemy’s air defence (SEAD) assets to enable own attack helicopters to operate freely or to even enable ground attack aircraft to launch a strike.
• In offensive operations, the Artillery will launch fire assaults or “ attack by firepower” in conjunction with other combat echelons to shape the battlefield and, ultimately, create suitable conditions for the decisive defeat of the enemy. In defensive operations, Artillery firepower will be the primary means of breaking up the enemy’s assault before tt can be effectively delivered against a defended locality. In fact, with the long reach of its missiles, rockets and medium guns, Artillery firepower will systematically degrade the enemy’s preparations for the attack from the concentration area onwards. The concentrated application of massed Artillery fire will disrupt the enemy’s cohesion and ultimately break his will to fight.
• Future operations, particularly in the plains, will be mobile and fluid and will demand simultaneity of engagements. With enhanced surveillance and target acquisition (SATA )and attack damage assessment capabilities, the Artillery will be capable of simultaneously influencing the contact as well as the depth battle. The automation of Artillery command and control, including technical and tactical fire control, will enable future Fire Direction Centres to rapidly switch the fire of a large number of guns from one target to another and deliver the required number of fire assaults. Each engagement will be sharp and short so that the available guns and ammunition can be optimally utilised. The employment of Precision Guided Munition (PGM) and Improved Conventional Munition (ICM) will qualitatively enhance the operational value of each engagement.
• The allotment of Artillery firepower to formations and units will also undergo evolutionary change. Instead of being frittered away in penny packets to each brigade, regiments equipped with long-range medium guns must be employed “seamlessly” to influence the battle at the critical location at any pot of time. The switchover to the concept of the seamless employment of artillery firepower will require a change in the present concept of “my artillery’. Formation commanders will have no lien on the guns. They will be provided guaranteed Artillery firepower m consonance with their rapidly changing requirements. “Command” over the guns, as the term is traditionally understood, will be exercised by Artillery commanders. However, Gunner officers and their technical teams, including Commanding Officers, Battery Commanders and Forward Observation Officers. will continue to be “affiliated” with brigades, infantry battalions and mechanised forces as at present to control Artillery fire and provide observation. liaison and communications.
• With its ever-increasing range and lethality, the Artillery is now capable of simultaneously fighting the contact, intermediate and deep battles. Its nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles will guarantee India’s nuclear deterrence. Its conventionally armed ballistic missiles and long-range rockets will influence the final outcome of a battle along the length and depth of the battlefield. In short, the integrated and synergetic application of Artillery firepower at the point of decision will ensure victory and reduce the Army’s casualties. It can be truly said that the Artillery is NOW a co-equal partner with the manoeuvre arms in the successful execution of firepower and manoeuvre.
• Today, at the threshold of the 21st century. the Regiment of Artillery stands poised to emerge as a battle-winning arm in its own right. As an arm that will eventually man India’s nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. it is destined to achieve a pre-eminent status that could not have been imagined even a decade ago. The Regiment will be a battle-winning arm that reigns supreme on the conventional battlefield and is the sword edge of India’s nuclear deterrence. Till now, the Indian Artillery has accepted Saint Barbara as its Patron Saint a legacy of its traditional links with the Royal Artillery from which it descended. It is time for an additional benefactor. Among the Indian pantheon, Shiva the Destroyer would be the ideal Patron Saint and:should be installed as such since it his ‘tandava nritya’ that the Artillery now orchestrates on the battlefield.