Notes and disclaimers:
What follows is a result of my overactive imagination, and is not based on anything but readily available information. Details of Indian formations, in particular, are drawn largely from an analysis of Op Parakram by a retired Pakistani general. All other details have no basis in reality, and are just my attempt to have some fun.
The serious part of this post is the timeline, which I wish to emphasise. If response is good, we can flesh this out for a BRM article.
At the Drop of a Grenade: A Fictional Account of the Indian Military’s New “Cold Start” Doctrine
(All times IST; IST-5:30=GMT, IST-10:30=EST)
December 13, 2005; 11:29 AM IST (T Hour), Parliament House, New Delhi
(approximately 5:00 AM GMT; 00 AM EST)
LET terrorists mount an RPG attack on Indian parliament complex and mange to destroy the outer ring before being killed by the NSG commandos in the second ring of defenses. Cars with two members of parliament trying to enter the parliament complex get destroyed in the initial grenade attack.
The Indian PM, Lal Kishen Bihari, is informed of the attack in his Race Course Road office. He gets on a secure conference call with his defense minister George Abraham, and his CDS, General Shantonu Oberoi. The PM gives his clearance to the pre-planned Operation Durvasa, and after that, proceeds to inform the Indian President and other members of CCS.
Gen Oberoi then proceeds to set Operation Durvasa in motion by raising his colleagues in the three services.
The Pakistani President, General Abdul Khan, is informed of the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. He requests a meeting with the American Ambassador, Christina Applegate, at T+1:30 and decides to hold a press conference condemning the attack at T+2:15. Pakistani armed forces continue to be at peace stations, to continue the illusion that Pakistan was not aware of or involved in the terrorist attack.
CIA sources report the terrorist attack to the night operations officer in CIA headquarters, and military officers in the operations command are also informed. Going by previous experience, the operations officer decides to put the item at the top of the National Intelligence Estimate to be submitted to President George Kerry, next morning.
A flight of four Su-30 MKIs of the IAF 20 Squadron take off from the Chandimandir Air Base near Chandigarh. These are followed by M2K flights from 1 Squadron out of Gwalior, other Su 30 MKI flights out of Jamnagar for AD, IL-78 refuellers out of Nagpur. The IAF AD network lights up like a Christmas tree, and emissions are picked up and noted by PAF C3 centers.
PAF ACM in Chaklala is informed, and orders PAF AD units to go on alert.
The first bombs land on HQ and other command formations of PA 33 Corps, Sialkot. Before PAF interceptors can be scrambled, the attacking Su 30 MKIs are on the landing approach at their recovery base at Halwara. The scrambled PAF interceptors are greeted by the follow-on wave of M2Ks and their BVR missiles.
Gen Abdul Khan is informed of the attacks. He responds by ordering all Pak military forces to go on alert, and by postponing his meeting with US Ambassador and his press conference till the immediate situation clears.
USUK and Chinese satellites, Pak and assorted intel agents are discovering all manner of hell breaking loose:
(1) From Taj Intercontinental near Gateway of India, John Smith and Rashid Mirza report to their respective bosses that a beehive has broken open at the Naval base. INS Mysore and INS Talwar are swarming with worker bees, look like they are getting ready to depart at short notice.
(2) Reports from Ambala, Bhatinda, and Bikaner indicate army formations, especially arty, engr and armd units, loading up into transporters and rail wagons.
(3)Intel agents posted near major IAF air bases report frequent, and noisy take offs by combat air craft loaded for bear.
US CENTCOM, PACOM HQ offices, CIA and NSA offices, and State Department HQs are getting flooded with reports of unexpected Indian military activity. However, the scale and suddenness of action prevent a clear picture from emerging. NSA is woken up and goes into a huddle to make sense of the developments.
Gen Khan is getting a similar deluge of information, and figures that a press conference is not going to cut it anymore. He issues orders for PAF to mount limited retaliatory attacks on IAF bases, and orders his strategic forces to go on alert. The American Ambassador is informed that the US supplied PALs will be under direct PA control, and that US advisors helping PA monitor PA strategic weapons will be asked to leave for reasons of operational security.
Meanwhile, the second wave of IAF attacks has just gone in over selected operational and logistics targets in the Lahore-Sialkot area.
The hastily mounted PAF retaliatory attack has been greeted by Su 30 MKs from Pune and MKIs from Chandigarh flying AD patrols.
Div arty brigades from IA 15 Corps to IA 12 Corps open up with the coordinated first salvo. PA units, still trying to recover from peacetime stations, are caught unawares. Several munitions dumps and bunkers are destroyed. PA starts retaliatory fire.
Gen Khan decides to put the entire Pak military on war alert, and orders ARN, ARC, and ARS units to start deploying. Since they were at peace stations till a couple of hours ago, they will require at least two days to have key personnel report back from duty, and for getting the forces assembled. The surprise IAF attacks on logistics nodes are not helping matters.
PAF CAS, in response to PAF losses, decides to put PAF on strategic defense. This implies defense of high priority targets; PA and PN will henceforth be left to defend for themselves.
Ms Shruti Prakash, spokesperson, GOI, goes on air to inform the world that a “limited punitive operation” has been launched by units of IAF and IA against terrorist bases in Pakistan. Stress is laid on the limited and retaliatory scope of the operations, and the Gen Khan is invited to bilateral talks to diffuse the situation. Meanwhile, the attacks go on.
The situation on LOC and IB continues to be confusing, with repeated coordinated arty salvos wrecking havoc on PA line defenses. There are now reports of MLRS strikes as well, particularly in the Sialkot area.
The nature of IAF strikes and IA arty attacks seems to indicate that the Sialkot - Gujranwala area seems to be bearing the brunt of the fire assaults. Border deployed units are reporting heavy losses due to the unexpected and sudden attacks, and reinforcements from 33 Corps formations report difficulties in concentrating and mobilizing due to repeated IAF and long range MLRS attacks.
Gen Khan decides enough is enough, and wants a PTV address from his secure bunker to declare war on India. The PTV address is scheduled for T+4, and ambassadors from various countries are contacted to inform them. Ambassadors scramble to get in touch with their countries to formulate a response.
NSA decides that President George Kerry may have to be woken up to speak with PM Bihari and Gen Khan.
Elements of Corps arty, and more ominously, elements from 40 Arty Div have now been thrown into the fire assaults. Some PA border units have now been under attack for two continuous hours, and are beginning to report serious losses.
An IN battle group led by INS Mysore sets sail in broad daylight from Mumbai docks. The event is duly reported from Spy Central on the Gatway, a.k.a. Taj Intercontinental.
Spy satellites don’t know where to look, since hectic activity is on at several IA, IAF, and IN bases. As a mark of concern, satellites over China are diverted to keep track. However, intel agencies are beginning to get disoriented by the rapid mobilization of several key IA formations from 15, 16, 11, 12, 10, 2, and 1 corps. The indep armd brigades are especially hard to pin down.
Elements of IA 2 Indep Armd Brigade (2 IAB) begin concentration in the Akhnur – Chaamb area, and ominous stirrings are also noted in the newly formed 10 RAPIDS division based out of Pathankot.
A sleepy George Kerry is informed of the rash and impulsive Indian attacks, and he demands more information on Indian intentions before approaching the Indian PM with a call for restraint. US national security staff goes into a huddle, and South Asian experts are summoned to make sense of the unexpected situation.
Air and arty attacks in the Sialkot-Gujranwala area reach a crescendo, with coordinated attacks by IAF, div and corps arty units from 16 corps, and newly deployed units of 40 Arty Division. Engr elements attached to 16 Corps and 2 IAD start demolishing bunds and fences on the Indian side of IB.
Electricity in the entire Pakistani province of Punjab goes out due to IAF attacks on power stations.
Gen Khan goes on air and assures the world that the irresponsible Indian aggressors are being given a sound thrashing, and threatens dire consequences unless Indians cease all attacks forthwith.
Ms Prakash responds within 15 minutes of the broadcast by pointing out that Indian acts could not be termed as an aggression since no Indian units were present on Pakistani soil; furthermore, that the attacks were directed against newly relocated terrorist cells operating out of Pakistani Punjab.
T+6:00 (5:30 PM IST; 12 PM GMT; 7 AM EST)
Key differences are beginning to emerge within the US administration, regarding response to the unexpected developments in South Asia. State Department officials want to issue stern warnings to India to act like a responsible nuclear power, while Defense officials are getting increasingly worried about the loss of PALs to elements in PA sympathetic to terrorists. The paralysis of analysis delays a US response to the rapidly evolving situation. Meanwhile, Gen Khan continues to bluster to Ambassador Applegate. Retired Pak Generals now swing into the fray and start talking about a Zarb-E-Momin type of reposte to the slow moving Indians.
The first posts on the crisis appear on BRF.
After 5 hours of continuous bombardment, elements of IA 2 IAB commence breaching operations against the first line of PA defenses.
The US president tries to call the Indian PM, who can not be contacted as he has relocated to a secure area. Indian NSA Arun Chandra assures his US counterpart that India’s actions are limited and punitive, and that no dismemberment or decapitation of Pakistan is intended.
US is not satisfied with the reassurances, and acts with unprecedented speed to get a UN Security Council meeting scheduled at 12:00 PM EST, a mere 11 hours after the drop of the grenade in New Delhi.
Units of 2 IAB break through the first line of defenses, and are racing towards the second line. They are now being reinforced by elements from 10 RAPIDS. PA is also reporting difficulties in tactical responses due to presence of IA SF units that seem to have started operating behind Pak lines of defense.
President George Kerry and Prime Minister Margaret Blair of UK issue a statement condemning the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament, and call for restraint from all sides. The Security Council commences deliberations on the unexpected developments in South Asia.
Meanwhile, after seven hours of hammering, Pakistani defenses in the Gujranwala area are in tatters. There are reports of Indian units using sheer speed to break through the second line of defenses.
After a mere two hours of discussion, the UN Security Council issues a call for a ceasefire, and threatens military action if Indian attacks continue.
The Indian PM L.K. Bihari finally goes on air and declares willingness to conform to UNSC calls for a ceasefire. He stresses that the limited Indian attacks were in response to terrorist acts perpetrated by Pakistan, and calls for bilateral discussions on all problems facing India and Pakistan. He also indicates that India will discuss the Kashmir issue in conjunction with other outstanding India-Pakistan issues, and asks Gen Khan to reciprocate.
Meanwhile, PAF has been shredded, PA 33 corps units are in tatters, and IA units are digging themselves in 6 km inside Pakistani territory. The term Akhnur Dagger has acquired a whole new meaning.
There have been severe and unfortunate civilian losses in Pakistani Punjab, and the Indian CDS is moved to admit that war is hell.
Posters in BRF are going ape $hit at India’s week knees in not finishing Pakistan off, and BR Admins have to threaten several postors will loss of privileges if they do not cease and desist.