Possible Operational Employment of Pak Army Mechanised Formations

Sub Title : Inventory of Pakistan’s mechanised elements and their possible employment against India

Issues Details : Vol 17 Issue 2 May – Jun 2023

Author : Col JK Achuthan

Page No. : 44

Category : Military Affairs

: May 29, 2023

The Pak threat always looms large in India. The Pakistan Army had surprised the Indian Army in the 1965 War when their ‘second’ (6) Armoured Division appeared out of nowhere in the Sialkot Sector. The article gives details of the inventory of Pakistan’s mechanised elements and their possible employment against India


Famous Pak TV Anchor Hamid Mir who ran fowl of the ISI during the tenure of Pak Army Chief Gen Qamar JavedBajwa, recently made a startling disclosure on TV that in an ‘off-the-record’ discussion with a group of prominent opinion-makers, Gen Bajwa had in Oct 2022 admitted that Pak Army’s impressive tank fleet was in a woeful condition, due to lack of money for carrying out the necessary engine overhauls on time. Therefore, the General advocated that there was the pressing need to scale down the existing hostile relations with India, the Pak media’s rhetoric and oversensitivity to developments in Indian held Kashmir. This admission created a storm in Pakistan, and also further improved Hamid Mir’s reputation as the first news anchor to come out with “Breaking News” having a tinge of criticism about the Pak Army – that iconic Institution in Pakistan. Sure enough, within a few days the DG of Pak Army’s ISPR Maj Gen Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry issued a strong refutation of the view  that Pakistan’s Army was not prepared for a war with India. He reiterated that Pak Army had the capability to carry the war deep into ‘Bharat’, should such a contingency arise. He warned India not to underestimate the Pak Army’s wartime capabilities and commit the mistake of ill planned ‘adventurism’.

What could be the Truth?

It is most likely that what Gen Bajwa had casually stated to a select lot of journalists, was an off the cuff remark. He, in any case  had no compulsions to tell them the truth about operational matters. Seasoned General that he was, and that too in his second term as the Army Chief, he knew very well what could be disclosed  and what should not be spoken about. In fact, the Pak HIT Taxila has quadrupled its capabilities in the last 15 years.  They have developed the ‘Al Zarrar’ tank which has got respectable ratings by international reviewers during the Dubai International Arms Expo. The upgunning programme of the 600 lot of T-59 tanks to ‘Al Zarrar’ standard is getting completed by 2023. Their M 113 derivative, ‘Talha’ tracked APC is also serving its intended purpose. In fact, improving the state of mechanised forces has been the KRA of the last five Pak Army Chiefs.

Frontier Corps

Pakistan’s Western Borders are manned by the Frontier Corps(FC). They have the strength of the equivalent of 5 x Infantry Divisions. The FC have been allotted 400 x T69 (Chinese) tanks & 336 x T55 tanks (100 mm guns)- acquired from Serbia. In a possible war scenario with India, both Afghanistan & Iran are unlikely to pose an armed threat to Pakistan. It would therefore be feasible to move up to  2 x reinforced infantry divisions  from the Western Front to Pakistan’s Eastern border.

Maintaining the Tempo of Mobile Operations

History has proven time and again that the side which attacks first and employs tanks en-masse always wins, if they can sustain the effort and not give a break to allow the larger opponent to reorganise and establish a new defensive front. That is exactly what the Pak Think Tank “Institute of Strategic Studies” at Islamabad has been advocating. Pakistan Army had not got its act ‘right’ earlier, regarding the efficient and correct employment of mechanised forces in a high tempo war. Great introspection has since taken place, after there had been a barrage of criticism by Pakistani ex armour hands in the social media.

Pak Army: Armour Holdings

Pakistan Army surprised the Indian Army in the 1965 War when their ‘second’ (6) Armoured Division appeared out of nowhere in the Sialkot Sector! An analysis of the Pak Army’s armour holdings today gives a fair picture about the possible employment of armour during a war. Tables below spell out the options.