Cold Start, Sundarji Doctrine - Military Doctrines (Important)

⪻ Articles ⪼

Cold Start military doctrine was developed Indian Army for possible war with Pakistan. It aims to efficiently involve all sub-parts of Indian military for offensive operations. Cold Start doctrine allows conventional forces in order to prevent a nuclear retaliation from Pakistan.

Field Formations in Indo Pak Context
  • Developed to alleviate limitations of the Sundarji Doctrine which allowed attack on the Indian Parliament.
  • Allows battle Groups to move forward from existing garrisons- India՚s elite strike forces to not wait for the opportune moment.
  • Launch retaliatory conventional strike against Pakistan before international community could intercede
  • Allows offensive operations to begin within 48 hours after orders have been issued
  • Pakistan not to be provoked for nuclear attack.
  • Deviated from India՚s defense strategy since 1947 - “a non-aggressive, non-provocative defense policy,” with limited, rapid armoured thrusts, with infantry and necessary air support.
  • Official stance so far was to deny “Cold Start Doctrine” .
  • Post 2008 Mumbai attacks decision taken to not implement Cold Start Doctrine defeating the Pakistan stategy of redirecting Islamist millitant groups to India.


  • In May 2001, Operation Vijayee Bhava by the Indian army, involved 50,000 troops from various banches of the armed forces to reduce the mobilisation time to 48 hours leading to Cold Start Doctrine.
  • In 2011, Operation Sudarshan Shakti revalidated Cold Start Doctrine with focus on integration between ground and air.
  • In July 2011 Prahaar, a new solid-fuel tactical ballistic missile with a range of 150 km was tested to provide invading battle groups with lethal fire support.


Threat of the Indian Cold Start doctrine and increase in Indian Defence Budget from $ 24 Billion to $ 40 Billion between 2007 and 2009 prompted the Pakistan government increase defence budget to 32 % of increasing the strain on economy.

Sundarji Doctrine and Limitations (1981 - 2004)

  • Made up of seven defensive “holding corps” of the Indian Army deployed near the Pakistani border.
  • Limited offensive power- primary responsibility was to check a Pakistani advance.
  • Offensive “strike corps” made up of a mechanised infantry and extensive artillery support were based in central India
  • After the holding corps halted Pakistan, the strike corps were to counterattack and penetrate to destroy the Pakistan՚s strike corps through ‘deep sledgehammer blows’
  • Limitation exposed on 13 December 2001:
    • Attack on Indian Parliament prompting India to initiate Operation Parakram (largest activation of forces since the 1971 Bangladesh war) .
    • Indian strike corps took three weeks to get to the international border
    • Allowed Pakistan to counter-mobilize
    • Intervening powers (United States) got time to intermediate the conflict.
  • Thus Sundarji doctrine was flawed and inflexible to respond to terrorist attacks because:
    • The strike corps too big and too far away
    • Long duration to mobilize prevented strategic surprise
    • Holding corps՚ lack of offensive power along the international border prevent significant offensives

Examrace Team at