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Amphibious Operations

In 2008 India unveiled the joint doctrine for its amphibious operations. The doctrine is meant to serve as a guideline on how the armed forces intend to plan and conduct amphibious operations and achieve full synergistic effect of joint combat power.

Whether engaged in full conventional assault operations or peacekeeping / humanitarian support, amphibious forces provide an increasingly important role in today's uncertain strategic environment. Bearing in mind India's extensive coastline and many island territories, an effective amphibious capability is essential for safeguarding national interests and creating deterrence so as to ensure peace and stability in the Indian Ocean. Amphibious forces have the capability to project a sustainable presence in coastal and offshore areas. Amphibious tasks are essentially categorised as assault, demonstration, raid and withdrawal operations. These tasks could be undertaken in various scenarios including conventional war, defence of island territories, assistance to friendly littoral states in the region, peacekeeping under the United Nations Charter and any other special operations necessitating employment of an amphibious force.

An amphibious operation is not the mere landing of an Army unit tasked with an in stride autonomous land operation. On the contrary it is a complex joint operation, launched from offshore, committing naval, land and possibly air forces, carried out on an hostile coast that might be hold by enemy forces.

Light tanks are needed for India's amphibious forces, which protect island territories like the Andaman and the Lakshadweep archipelagvos and offshore assets like Bombay High. The Hyderabad-based 54 Infantry Division is earmarked for amphibious tasks. But it hasn't bought the light tanks that will be launched from these ships - an essential component of any amphibious force.

The Indian Army has been augmenting its amphibious capabilities for long. One of the most advanced amphibious warships of the Indian Navy, the INS Shardul, was affiliated to the 5 Armoured Regiment of the Indian Army in 2008. Loaded with state-of-the-art equipment, INS Shardul is an amphibious warship capable of transporting personnel and accomplishing all objectives of beaching operations. The 5 Armoured Regiment holds some of the most potent and advanced tanks in the world. Since 2002, the regiment has been at the cutting edge of the mechanised operations.

On the basis of the overall situation, content and objective of the operations the COSC will designate the Theatre Commander concerned who will be responsible for the overall campaign. He will function with an integrated staff from all component Services. The three Services will nominate their respective component force commanders, ie the Commander Amphibious Task Force (CATF), Land Force Commander (LFC) and Air Force Commander (AFC). Though the CATF will be the coordinator among the three Services during the planning phase, the CATF, LFC, and AFC will function with individual and independent access to the Overall Force Commander. However, during the embarkation, movement and assault phases, and until the ATF is dissolved, the CATF will exercise command authority over the ATF. Besides, the CATF will have command authority over all forces operating in the Amphibious Objective Area (AOA) including those that are not part of the ATF.

On receipt of the operational directive from the COSC, the Theatre Commander will issue an initiating directive to the CATF, LFC and AFC. This initiating directive is, in essence, an amplification of the operational directive and contains the information necessary to carry out the task. Thereafter the tri-Service planning staff will prepare detailed plans based on which a formal operational order is issued; this constitutes the basis on which the three Services components would make their detailed plans.

The assault phase encompasses the preparation of beaches for assault by naval guns, ship-to-shore movement of the landing force, link-up between surface and air-landed assault forces and landing of the remaining elements of the landing force for accomplishment of the mission. Detailed planning, preponderance of firepower, and coordination for speedy landing of tanks, guns, vehicles and infantry in correct sequence are vitally important for success of amphibious assault. Air defence and maintenance of logistic support throughout the assault also need to be ensured.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:41:36 ZULU