These three links (I think somebody posted them on another thread before) contain a wealth of information on nuclear warfare that would be immensely useful to keep in mind when evaluating the nature of Pakistan's Boom-or-Bluff.http://www.warrenmyers.com/war/Nuclear_Warfare_101.pdfhttp://www.warrenmyers.com/war/Nuclear_Warfare_102.pdfhttp://www.warrenmyers.com/war/Nuclear_Warfare_103.pdf
I will try to discuss some of that information here, with relevance to the Pakistani context.
1) First of all, the author explains at some length in the beginning of the 101 article, that
A New Nuclear Power makes a fundamental realization that will influence every move it makes from [the point it acquires nuclear weapons] onwards. If it does nothing, its effectively invincible. If, however, it does something, there is a serious risk that it will initiate a chain of events that will eventually lead to a nuclear holocaust. The result of that terrifying realization is strategic paralysis.
With that appreciation of strategic paralysis comes an even worse problem. A non-nuclear country has a wide range of options for its forces. Although its actions may incur a risk of being beaten they do not court destruction. Thus, a non-nuclear nation can afford to take risks of a calculated nature. However,a nuclear-equipped nation has to consider the risk that actions by its conventional forces will lead to a situation where it may have to use its nuclear forces with the resulting holocaust. Therefore, not only are its strategic nuclear options restricted by its possession of nuclear weapons, so are its tactical and operational options. So we add tactical and operational paralysis to the strategic variety. This is why we see such a tremendous emphasis on the mechanics of decision making in nuclear powers. Every decision has to be thought through, not for one step or the step after but for six, seven or eight steps down the line.
So, the direct effects of nuclear weapons in a nation's hands is to make that nation extremely cautious. They spend much time studying situations, working out the implications of such situations, what the likely results of certain policy options are.
So: according to the author, a new nuclear power finds itself in a situation of strategic, operational and tactical paralysis because of the added weight of nuclear devastation as a possible consequence of its actions.
Does that sound like Pakistan to you?
If Pakistan had nuclear weapons, and the capacity to use them, would it bluster and bluff and lower its imaginary "redlines" at every opportunity? Remember, this is the assessment of an expert in nuclear warfare that new nuclear powers are *restricted* in their options by the fact of possessing nukes. He is neither pro-India nor pro-Pakistan, so we have no reason to suspect any bias in his observation.
It follows that a nation which repeatedly ups the ante with terrorist attacks, and casually blackmails its enemy with "redlines" of nuclear devastation at every stage of the game, very probably has no capacity whatsoever to inflict nuclear devastation. Not only this, but it must be very sure that the government against which it is using such blackmail ALSO knows that it has no capacity to inflict such devastation (or it might end up getting nuked).
Therefore: there must exist, for other reasons, a compact between the Govt of India and the Govt of Pakistan to pretend that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and the capacity to use them... thereby giving the Govt. of India an excuse for its own strategic, operational and tactical inaction.
If this is true, then a fraud is being perpetrated on the Indian people by the Govt. of Pakistan AND the Govt.of India... probably with the collusion of other governments (like Unkil's) as well. The Indian people are being defrauded into accepting Pakistani terrorism as a fact of life that cannot be retaliated against because doing so will invariably lead to an escalation that causes a nuclear exchange. They are being systematically frightened into swallowing the myth of the Pakistani nation as a "fanatical Muslim nuclear-armed suicide bomber "which should not be messed with, even when its terrorists come in to their streets and markets and railway stations and kill their husbands and wives and children. And all the while, Pakistan is behaving like anything BUT a genuinely nuclear-armed nation.
This immediately suggests that Pakistan has no nukes to threaten India with; and that the GOI knows this, and is treasonously colluding with Pakistan and the "international community" to avoid mounting a military response that would invariably upset Unkil's agenda in Afghanistan.
We are being fooled into believing that Pakistan has WMD, just as the American people were fooled into believing that Saddam had WMD... though the GOI is using this pretense as an excuse for inaction while the Bush regime used it as a pretext for invasion.
But, chalo. Let's assume, just for timepass' sake, that Pakistan DOES have nukes. Let's assume that, as the FAS says, it has some 90 warheads (the more generous estimate). Let's take that as a given and game out what happens.
2) Ok, the first principle to remember in gaming things out is:
if [a nuclear state] ever uses its nuclear weapons, once they are gone, its invulnerability vanishes with them.
Let's really think this through.
When we think of the Pakistani willingness to use nukes, we think of the Paki jernail with a picture of a mushroom cloud in his office, declaring that even if Pakistan is destroyed it will be worth it to rid the subcontinent of Kufr Hindus. We imagine that a Pakistani nuclear strike on India will be the equivalent of a suicide bombing on a national scale. It is as if the Indians will retailate... there will be a flash of heavenly light in the corridors of power in Slumbad... and all the Jernails and their loved ones will be instantly transported to Zannat, consuming raisins in the laps of houris.
However, that is not the case.
India does not have a maximum deterrent such as the US or Russia did during the Cold War. We cannot completely destroy Pakistan in physical
terms. What our nukes can do-- and will do-- is make Pakistan ungovernable and indefensible for the foreseeable future.
Once Pakistan uses its nukes... and the damage done by its 90-warhead arsenal, as we will see later, will be a very very long way from "destroying" India indeed... Pakistan itself will lose its invulnerability. India will massively compound the consequent vulnerability with a counter-strike... but it should be noted that even without an Indian counter strike, Pakistan would be pretty well f*cked at that stage. No spares, military supplies or fuel reserves beyond five days. No soldiers motivated enough to re-establish control over NWFP or Swat, let alone fight a full-scale war against an organized aggressor. No cash, because everybody would instantly sanction Pakistan for using nukes.
At that stage, Pakistan would be vulnerable not only to a US or Indian invasion... but to Taliban, Afghan or even Iranian invasion. Our counter-force strike against the TSPA would soften the path for the Talibs ploughing into Lahore, Karachi and Slumbad by destroying the TSPA's capacity to resist. Out-and-out civil war will result, between the TTP and the Sarkari Tanzeems, the TTP and the TSPA, and every combination of factions... and thanks to the effects of our counter-strike, the decimated TSPA will have no hope of being able to control the situation.
Ultimately there will be no instantaneous, Zannat-bringing flash of light for the Jernails... except for a lucky few. Ultimately, there will be a day-by-day hell of street warfare, of plunder and looting that will converge on the white walled Clifton-style neighbourhoods where the Jernails and the RAPE live. The Jernails will see their own wives, daughters and sons dragged off their manicured lawns and hauled away to Taliban rape rooms. They will be able to do exactly nothing about it. Such a situation will not last weeks or months, but years or decades. THAT is what they have to look forward to... not a deliverance of all Pakistan to jihadi heaven, but the excruciatingly painful death of their TSPA as an institution before their very eyes.
And for us? Once we've absorbed the damage of the TSPA nuclear strike... what will we have to worry about? The "Islamists" getting their hands on nukes? Don't make me laugh... that's already the case today.
3) The second principle is to determine how much damage the TSP nuke arsenal is actually likely to do to India.
Here there are several things to keep in mind.
a) The size of TSP's arsenal. We're being very generous to assume that they have 90 warheads ready to deploy. Of these, lets be even more generous and say that HALF are the high-yield ones they can stick onto missiles. Since they have no thermonuclear or boosted-fission bombs, a "high-yield" Paki device is probably around 25 kT... at the MOST, 40 kT (given their Chagai test claims). The low yield ones are sub-kiloton devices they will put on their F-16s.
b) What can TSP do with such an arsenal? What are their best options, to use what they have most destructively?
Remember, a limited-size and limited-capacity arsenal means that Pakistan is very restricted in its options (compared to a nuclear state like Unkil or Russia, with hundreds or thousands of much more powerful warheads). It has to prioritize targeting very carefully to try and achieve the most damage.
If you read the Nuclear Warfare articles I've linked above, it becomes obvious that they really can't do very much with what they have. "Not very much", of course, in relative terms... there will be unprecedented damage to India. In the big picture, though, it will be nothing we can't recover from. Let's see what this entails.
c) A key point from the Nuclear Warfare articles is to recognize that there are many different types of nuclear strikes that a nuclear power can choose to engage in... but Pakistan really doesn't have the capacity to carry out many of them very effectively.
Essentially, there are two major classes of options: counter-value and counter-force strikes.
Counter-force strikes are aimed at neutralizing or destroying the enemy's warfighting capability... their nuclear and conventional force assets, directly. They are difficult to conduct for the following reasons:
i) Stationary military targets are hardened, and small in size. To destroy them requires a ground burst of a nuclear weapon that physically scours them off the earth and leaves a cavity in their place.
ii) The warhead size required to accomplish this is large. Paki warheads, as we've seen, are at the most 40kT... not likely to be able to do enough damage to reliably take out an Indian military (conventional or nuclear) installation.
iii) A great degree of accuracy is required. According to the Nuclear Warfare 102 article, a 100 kT weapon has a Radius of Total Destruction of 800m... for a 25 kT weapon, assuming an inverse square relationship that becomes 400m. Given what we know about the Chinese and North Korean ballistic missiles that the Pakis possess (largely untested)... they probably do not have a sufficiently reliable degree of accuracy to accomplish a counterforce strike. Their only missile with a small enough CEP to attempt a counter-force strike would be a Babur Chinese cruise missile (maybe)-- and that will not carry a large enough warhead to destroy a fortified installation.
iv) Most hardened counterforce targets in India are not in the "A-Country" of the cities. They are in what is called the "B-Country"... the rural hinterlands with diffuse population density, which produce the resources that support the cities. Pakistani warheads targeted against B-Country military sites necessarily forego many targets of opportunity that they could also take out if targeted against cities or softer "counter-value" targets. There is usually nothing out there in the B-Country, besides the one target installation, for the warhead to kill.
v) Groundburst attacks in the B-Country will cause far more fallout than airburst attacks against cities. That's because groundbursts throw up a lot of dirt and rubble (the stuff that was in the craters)... which are sucked into the vacuum produced by the expanding fireball, irradiated with lethal isotopes and then shot up in the air to descend on a wide land area later on. Airbursts create relatively little radioactive material and pose much less of a fallout risk.
What are the likely conclusions of these observations, regarding likelihood of a counter-force strike by Pakistan?
i) Most likely, the only type of counter-force strikes Pakistan could hope to conduct successfully, would be against Indian formations in the field... using low-yield tactical warheads mounted on F-16 fighter bombers, most likely, though some may be on short-range ballistic missiles or cruise missiles. Pakistan does not have the capacity to produce nuclear artillery shells... so F-16s are the most obvious platform for low-yield counterforce strikes against military targets in the open.
It may be remembered that several military excercises by the IA following Kargil, involved heavy rehearsals with NBC gear, and were designed to simulate continuing military ops against Pakistan in the aftermath of such a tactical nuclear strike on our forces. So, we have been preparing for this eventuality for some time.
ii) Beyond this, given the small size of Paki warheads and the inaccuracy of their missiles, it is highly improbable that the Pakistanis will waste any of their nuclear assets on trying out pre-emptive counterforce strikes against our hardened military installations or strategic arsenal. They might try their luck with F-16s and low-yield warheads, hoping for a direct hit, but the chances of success are negligible even if the aircraft get past our air defenses.
iii) Finally, chances of counter-force groundbursts by Pakistan against hardened Indian assets resulting in fallout are great. This may not bother Pakistani conscience, but if the B-Country installations being targeted are near the border... particularly the upper-riparian regions of Punjab and J&K from where Pakis get their river water... they may decide against it.
So, we can conclude that most likely, Pakis will not waste many of their nuclear assets or missile delivery systems on counterforce strikes... since the cost/benefit ratio is too high. If at all, low-yield weapons on fighter-bombers may be used against Indian military forces in the open and targets of opportunity. There is a good chance that between the IAF and our air-defense, none of these will get through at all. Obtaining a system like the Phalcon will minimize the possibility even further.
d) OK, so let's think about Pakistani counter-value strikes. Counter-value means against anything which isn't directly a component of our warfighting capability... population, economy, communications, industry etc.
i) Some of these assets are in tour B-country, but a lot more are concentrated in the A-country of our cities.
ii) Pakistan does not have the nuclear capacity to destroy our communications infrastructure (in terms of number or types of warheads). Many counter-communication targets, like railway yards, are hardened and small-sized just as military targets are. So it is unlikely that the Pakis will target them, for the same reasons as it is unlikely they will attempt counterforce strikes.
iii) The same applies for industrial targets which are also hardened, requiring a direct groundburst to take out, and difficult to hit because of small size.
iv) Population and economy can be attacked by attacking the cities with nuclear airbursts. Indian cities are thus the most likely target for the Pakis to consider. Doing so gives the Pakis more "bang for the buck"... but only in relative terms, as we shall go on to see.
So what can we conclude?
i) Communications will not be targeted by Paki nuclear assets in any major way. The Pakis couldn't significantly knock out our comm capacity even if they used all their warheads against it, so why try? Same for our industrial capacity as well.
ii) Industry will only be targeted to the extent that it occurs as a "target of opportunity" near the A-country. Nuclear plants or chemical factories close to population centres may be targeted by F-16s carrying low-yield warheads. It is unlikely that they will be targeted by missiles unless the population center nearby is also a major city marked for full-scale destruction.
iii) From the Paki point of view, therefore, the best use of their high-yield, missile-based warheads is to airburst them over Indian cities... targeting their population, infrastructure and economies.
e) So far we can guess two things:
i) Pakis will use their low-yield warheads, probably mounted on fighter-bombers, to achieve two types of goals: attacking Indian military formations in the field, and making attacks of opportunity, primarily against Indian industrial sites located close to urban centers.
These will be the "disposable" component of the Paki nuclear arsenal..." either we use them or we lose them, so why not try our luck." They are also vulnerable to Indian air defense and IAF interception.
Chances are that such warheads comprise about 75% of the Paki nuclear arsenal. But for this estimate, we're being generous, so let's say 50% (or 45 warheads) are of this type.
ii) The second thing we can guess is that the remaining 45 warheads, of between 25 to 40 kT and mounted on missiles, will be used against Indian cities in counter-population/counter-economy strikes.
Does this mean that 45 Indian cities have had it?
Not at all.
I present to you a few things to consider, from the Nuclear Warfare 102 article:
Now we don't just explode a bomb in the center of the city and say bye-bye. Believe it or not that won't do any real good. Initiate a 1 megaton device over the center of London and 95 percent of the cities assets and 80 percent of the population will survive (this means that, proportionally speaking, Londoners will be better off after a nuclear attack than they were before it took place. This was the basis of at least one Get Rich Quick scheme proposed in The Business).
(Remember the Pakis don't have anything like a 1 MT device... the biggest they have is 40kT).
Missiles are not terribly reliable and a lot can go wrong. A Rectal Extraction figure suggests that only about 60 percent of them will work when the blue touchpaper is ignited. So we have to add extra warheads to allow for the duds.
(It seems only 60% of the 45 missiles we have very generously assigned Pakistan can be assumed to work at all, in the procedure followed by nuclear warfare analysts. That's 27 high-yield warheads we have to worry about. So what can the Pakis do with 27 warheads?).
To give a feel for the sort of numbers that we're talking about, the British calculated that they needed 32 warheads to give Moscow a terminal dose of instant sunrise. In other words, the British nuclear deterrent took down Moscow and that was it.
( Assuming we're talking about the highest-yield WE 76 warheads carried on British Trident missiles, that's 32 warheads of 100 kT each to take out ONE SINGLE CITY completely. Anything less than that would presumably cause a lot of damage to the target, but not destroy it beyond recovery. Again, the Pakis do not have even a single 100 kT warhead. )
Key point here on the efficiency of defenses. In the 1950s, the UK V-bomber fleet was assigned to hit over 200 targets in the Western USSR. As the 50's turned into the 60's the ability of the V-bombers to penetrate Soviet airspace came under increasing doubt. The UK shifted to Polaris - one submarine at sea, 16 missiles, three warheads per. Total of 48 targets assigned. But the USSR started to install an anti-missile system that was reasonably capable against the early Polaris-type missiles. So the UK modified Polaris in a thing called Chevaline. this took one warhead from each missile and replaced the load with decoys - then targeted all 16 missiles onto Moscow. ONE target. In effect, the Soviet defenses had reduced the UK attack plan from 200 targets to one. In other words, it was 99.5 percent effective without firing a single shot (bad news for Moscow but great news for the other 199 cities with targets in them)
That's why so many devices are needed - the inventory evaporates very fast. Thats also why defenses like ABM are so important (and the urgency behind deploying the new US Missile Defense System). The defenses don't have to be very effective to work (although the new US system is looking good), its the complexity they throw into the planning process. As long as we can assume that if we get a warhead on its way to its target, that target is going to be hit, then planning is relatively easy and the results predictable. If, however, we can't make that guarantee; if we have to factor in a possibility - perhaps a good one - that the outbound warhead will be shot down, then planning becomes very uncertain. Now put yourself in the position of somebody planning a strike - do you wish to gamble your nation's change of survival on something that MIGHT work. Of course not. So Strategic Paralysis strikes again. A defense system doesn't have to work against an attack to be effective because it works on the minds of the people who make the decisions.
( The geometric progression in effectiveness of anti-nuclear defenses is absolutely fascinating. It explains why the F-16 based component of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is essentially disposable, and will face overwhelming odds against achieving any strategic goals. It also reveals why, according to this article http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1292/1
, India's developing proficiency with PAD and AAD is of such great consequence. If Soviet ABMs were 99.5% effective against the British nuclear arsenal... our emerging missile defense program will make complete nonsense of Pakistan's far smaller arsenal. It will also totally bankrupt the Pakis if they try to keep up with our defenses by building more warheads. Initiating and outspending the Pakis on a nuclear arms race is by far one of the best means available to us for the destruction of TSP... but I digress).
4) Ok, so considering all of the above, if you were the Paki jernail in charge of coming up with nuclear war doctrine against India: what would you do?
First of all, I wouldn't start one. No matter what. Let Slumbad threaten and bluster as much as they want, lower the "redlines" wherever they like. I know what's coming if I start a nuclear war with India, just as the Fizzle Ya did when they refused to fly in support of the TSPA during Kargil.
But if it came to that, how could I use my very limited assets to best effect?
Firstly, my low-yield weapons would be a roll of the dice. Load them on to F-16s and hope for the best (I would have no time or excess warheads to mess around with Babur-Shabur and all that $hit). Use them against IA troop formations as necessary to prevent our own troops from being overwhelmed. It is unlikely that I will use them against military targets where a conventional airstrike or missile strike would serve the purpose just as well.
Other F-16s with low-yields would be sent against Tarapur, Nangal, Kota, Narora, Baroda to attempt to hit Indian nuclear installations near populated areas. If any remained, use them against urban economic centres near the border: Gurgaon, Ankleshwar, Noida, Chandigarh, other sites in Gujarat and Punjab.
Now the crown jewels. 27 missile-mounted warheads of between 25-40 kT. Given the British estimates of how many warheads are required to take out Moscow, and the relative ineffectiveness of a 1 MT warhead against London... it makes the most sense to use ALL these crown jewels against ONE Indian city. Maybe two, but I personally think just one.
Not much to guess about which city that will be. My heart is heavy to say this, because I was born and brought up there and still have close relatives living there... but I'm pretty sure that it will be Mumbai.
Mumbai affords the maximum capacity for counter-population damage (density, and lack of escape routes); counter-economic damage (it is the financial capital) and also has the Turbhe plant, BARC and TIFR. It is closer to the border than Hyderabad or Mangalore.
I suppose it's possible the Pakis might decide on Delhi instead, maybe even target three or four of their missiles towards Delhi and the rest against Mumbai. However, I think Delhi is less likely for psychological reasons. The Pakis at some level, still dream about the Dilli Bills surrendering to them and hoisting the Paki flag on the Red Fort... both of which will be impossible if they nuke the city. Mumbai, however, is not ingrained with the red-sandstone and marble of an Islamic past... it was a Hindu township and then a Western colonial capital.
5) Bottom line: (with the disclaimer that I'm anything but an expert on the subject, and only know what I've read in the public domain).
-We will probably lose Mumbai. A big hit to take, but it won't cripple a nation of one billion in the long term. Mumbai can, and will be rebuilt... and with it, much of India will be rebuilt as well. We will still have the B-country largely intact, as well as the other cities, to support and expedite reconstruction.
- We will lose between 5 and 10 lakh Mumbaikars in the initial strike, and depending on the emergency response, up to 20 lakh more in the aftermath. The latter figure can be minimized if evacuation plans and infrastructure are put into place right now; ferry boat wharfs at multiple points along the island's coast, a multiply redundant emergency response system, and regular public drills.
- Our economy will take a hit as a result of losing Mumbai... but it's more of a corporate center than an industrial center, so our industrial production capacity ( the things that directly impact our capacity to wage war or rebuild ) will not suffer as greatly as intangibles like investor confidence, the service sector or the entertainment industry.
The stock market will certainly crash, and FDI will pull out, but that would probably happen long before it came to an actual nuclear exchange. We will lose a lot financially: Mumbai contributes 10% of all factory employment, 60% of customs duty collections, 40% of income tax collections, 40% of foreign trade and 20% of central excise tax collections of India. Moreover, it produces a huge amount, of Rupees 40 billion (US$ 9 billion), in corporate taxes. After the loss of life, this will be our biggest loss in the event of a nuclear war with Pakistan.
- Depending on how lucky the F-16s get with their targets of opportunity, or whether a small number of missiles are targeted successfully at a few other urban centers (unlikely)... we may lose another 5 lakh civilians, totally, outside of Mumbai.
-It is unlikely that our military, and its warfighting ability will be significantly eroded even despite the huge losses that formations directly struck by Pakistani tactical nukes will take. We will still have the capacity, both conventional and nuclear, to deter Chinese aggression in the aftermath. The Chinese will probably not be so stupid as to attack a wounded elephant, either... we would be more ready to use our nukes against them than ever.
- Our counter-strike will not "destroy Pakistan" in the sense of turning it into a glass parking lot. I believe it will end the viable existence Pakistan as a nation state by completely destroying the warfighting capacity of the TSPA... but this post is getting a bit long, so I'll leave it to other members of the forum to wargame that part of it!