Build Capacity, Strengthen Interoperability
While the Indian Army is continuously working on bettering its C4I2SR capabilities, there is need for more focus and acceleration of capacity building in this context. Equally important is achieving interoperability amongst the three services since future
INDIAN ARMY’S CAPACITY BUILDING in C4I2SR comes up for discussion time and again while focus on similar capability of the Indian Military remains peripheral. The reason for the latter is essentially HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) having come up as a separate HQ instead of being integrated into the Ministry of Defence (MoD) sans any worthwhile clout in the absence of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) having been appointed. The tactical command, control, communications and information system (Tac C3I) which essentially is the mainstay of the Army’s C4I2SR is plodding along with customary hiccups courtesy in-house red-tapism, a Defence Procurement Policy not matching with fast paced technological changes, lack of overall focus and understanding of technology. Urgency of time factor appears lost, indicating that the importance of information as a strategic asset appears unclear.
Indian Army’s Tac C3I comprises the artillery command, control and communications system (ACCCS), air defence control and reporting system (ADC&RS), battlefield surveillance system (BSS), battlefield management system (BMS), all of which have been/are being developed directly under the Directorate General of Information Systems (DGIS) and will be integrated through the Command Information Decision Support System (CIDSS), also being developed by the DGIS. The Tac C3I will also integrate the Indian Army’s electronic warfare system (EWS) and electronic intelligence system (ELINT) operating under Military Operations and Military Intelligence respectively. The Tac C3I is to provide state-of-the-art C4I2 connectivity within the Indian Army at Corps HQ and below levels. Upward connectivity from Corps HQ to Army HQ level is to be provided through the Army Strategic Operational Information Dissemination System (ASTROIDS), also being developed under the aegis of the DGIS. The current status of these various systems is as under:
This is the first operational information system (OIS) that has been fielded in the Indian Army that provides complete automation of artillery tasks from the command post to the gun end. The final phase (Phase 3) in the field is nearing completion.
Required to integrate with IAF’s air defence system, the test bed appears delayed by another four to five months and may commence by September-October this year.
In development of the BSS that is to integrate Indian Army’s total surveillance resources, the Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) appears to be having the same problems as it had in developing the ACCCS—bulk imported hardware and technology but limited indigenous capacity in applications, design and software customisation. Hopefully, the test bed will begin in the near future.
Project BMS, designed pan-Army,
for providing real time updated operational picture at battalion and regiment level, underwent an almost three years delay within Army HQ because of the lack of delimitation between the BMS and the future infantry soldier system (F-INSAS) being developed by the Directorate General of Infantry (DG Inf). BMS was approved last year by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) as a ‘Make India’ project, following which the DG Acquisition ordered an Integrated Project Management Study (IPMT), which is currently ongoing and should be completed by the end of the year.
Being developed by BEL, the status and delays are the same as mentioned in the case of the BSS above.
The concept of integration through the CIDSS was accepted in principle sometime back and implementation action is likely to begin in Phase 2 of these systems, once CIDSS is developed.
Currently, anomalies in the system developed by the Institute for System Study and Analysis (ISSA) that functions under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are being addressed by the ASROID Induction Cell (AIC) of the DGIS.
EWS & ELINT:
No new radars and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been inducted by the Indian Army. The move to identify and induct MAVs that have already emerged as veritable force multipliers in other armies, has not progressed much predominantly since the Infantry has been focused more on the FINSAS. This is despite the DRDO designing a range of MAVs (Black Kite, Golden Hawk and Pushpak already developed) but availability of other indigenous products in the market like the ‘Netra’ by Idea Forge, a spider like MAV suited for all types of operations including counterterrorism and counter-insurgency or the MAV with an infra red sensor developed by Aurora Integrated Systems. development of various OIS, running on hard scale authorisation of officers since long, were managing their respective charges with difficulty. Though PMO is a globally accepted concept, PMOs in DGIS were scrapped some months back and replaced with cells that have even lesser authorisation of officers than what were posted on hard scale in the PMOs. The adverse effects in terms of meeting timelines are evident.
Defence Procurement Policy (DPP):
The yearly review of the DPP is a cosmetic exercise grossly unsuited to procurement of information systems considering the fast pace of technological changes. Review within MoD has little meaning. The yearly review should actually be outsourced to think tanks incorporating both the DRDO and the private industry.
Implications of the National Remote Data Policy worked out by the Group of Ministers (GoM) during 2011 are that OIS henceforth will only have one metre resolution. This is a retrograde step as half metre resolution is already available on Google to the terrorists and insurgents and our adversaries would be looking for something even better.
Remote Data Policy:
The above indicates that somewhere we are losing sight of considering information as a strategic asset. Even the planned reorganisation of Pakistan’s General Headquarters envisages Signals being placed under Information Systems. In our case, there is a move to elevate the DGMO to a Principal Staff Officer (PSO) and place DGIS under him. However, the DGMO not only has no staff from Information Systems, as is the case with the DCOAS (IS&T), but officers in sections of Signals under DGMO have been responsible for stonewalling /delaying OIS of the DGIS; example being the unwarranted delays posed in case of CIDSS. The BMS-FINSAS delimitation impasse too was because of the DGMO. If merger of Signals with DGIS is not acceptable, it would be more prudent to elevate the DGIS to a PSO and place him directly under the Vice Chief.
Capitalisation of information in warfare requires no emphasis. Superiority of C4I2SR will be a major winning factor that would facilitate battlefield transparency, real time/ near real time exchange of information vertically and horizontally, assist decision-making by commanders at all levels by accelerating the decision-action cycle, telescope the sensor to shooter gap, enable engagement with best weaponry in requisite quantum and monitor post-engagement effects.
While the Indian Army is continuously working on bettering its C4I2SR capabilities, there is need for more focus and acceleration of capacity building in this context. Equally important is achieving interoperability amongst the three services since future operations would necessarily be joint; and without interoperability, combat capability of our military in combat cannot be optimised.
Electronic Warfare Jammer