Preparing and Equipping for War
The Indian Army’s current challenge is to find the appropriate balance between the old methods of conducting war and the new ways. There is no option but to restructure our organisations, our force levels, introduce new technologies and doctrines, and mor
RECENT MEDIA REPORTS HAVE indicated that the Indian Army is seriously short of weapons and ordnance. The reports also have highlights that delays in decisions on key military matters and procurements have blunted the operational edge of the armed forces. This has been highlighted in a letter written by the Army Chief General V.K. Singh to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. Unfortunately, this letter was leaked to the media and thus the focus got shifted from the alarming deficiencies in various types of munitions, and lack of certain capabilities and obsolescence of weapons to the aspect of leakage of classified communications and the need to investigate this serious issue.
The Army Chief ’s letter ostensibly highlights delay in setting up the national counter-insurgency school, shortfall of quality ammunition and ordnance, lack of potent cyber warfare units, failure to modernise T-72 battle tanks, delay in upgradation of Arjun main battle tanks, lack of modernisation in artillery and air defence capabilities and delay in procurement of infantry weapons and reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters.
The latest media reports indicate that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has criticised the government for allowing the situation to reach such ‘criticality’. It has admitted the serious shortage of ammunition and has also pointed out the gaps in existing force levels as well as the tardy procurement process. The committee has recommended an institutional dialogue and meetings between its members and all the three service chiefs for a comprehensive review of India’s defence preparedness.
Threats and Challenges
The armed forces of any nation in the world must have stocks of ammunition and weapons to fight a war of certain duration based on the type of threats and challenges assessed by its armed forces and the intelligence agencies. It is in this backdrop that the deficiencies or lack of capabilities have to be measured. From the media reports it seems that the government has asked the armed forces to be prepared to fight on two fronts simultaneously. While this may not involve all out State to State wars due to “nuclearisation” of the region, even limited conventional conflicts will demand an overall capability of being able to sustain a war of high/medium intensity for a few weeks