‘Net-centricity will usher in profound changes in operational concepts and organisational changes’
Lt General (Retd) V.K. Kapoor, Editor, SP’s Land Forces, interviewed Lt General Sunit Kumar, Director General Information System (DGIS), Indian Army. The DGIS gave out details about the transformation initiatives of the Indian Army to adapt to network-cen
SP’s Land Forces (SP’s): What is the status of the Indian Army with regard to networkcentric warfare (NCW) capability? How soon would this capability be acquired? What are the problem areas we are facing in acquiring this capability?
Director General Information Systems (DGIS): NCW capability is an enabler to revolution in military affairs (RMA) and encompasses a seamless domain of computer networks, applications, process re- engineering and decision support tools aimed at attaining information and decision dominance in the battlefield. The Indian Army has clearly identified the focal areas for evolution of net-centricity and has come a long way in this journey during the last two decades. The projects initiated to be achieved are currently at various stages of development and fielding. Phase I (Test Beds) of various operational information system projects have already been successfully fielded.
Management information system (MIS) automation projects, with pan-India coverage, are also on track and are likely to be completed by December 2013. Important MIS projects, i.e, human resource management system (HRMS), automation of Record Offices, military information support operations (MISO) and integrated quartermaster package (IQMP) would be completely fielded and integrated with MISO application by 2013-14. MIS projects for the automation of work flow in the field
Army is also on the anvil. It is visualised that the Indian Army is well on track to transform into a network-centric force. The challenges impeding the desired evolution of automated scheme of Indian Army have been identified and are under resolution.
SP’s: How is the Indian Army visualising the transformation to this type of warfare? What is the type of framework (intra and inter-service) involved and what are the types of projects initiated in this regard? How is partnership with the private industry functioning in the field? DGIS: Advancements in the field of ICT during the past over a decade mandates transformation of Indian Army into a network-centric force. The overall concept of a net-centric Indian Army envisages conver-
gence of ‘shared situation awareness’ and ‘decision support tools’, aimed at shortening our observe, orient, decide and act (OODA) loop. The Army is currently in the process of enhancing net enablement, and the frameworks needed to integrate disparate projects have already been accomplished. In the Indian Army, besides automating the operational aspects, greater effort is now directed towards the training to enhance exploitation of the net-centricity in our peacetime functioning as well. The private industry is actively involved; directly (in MIS project) and indirectly through development agencies (OIS project) and greater association from industry is on the cards with the categorisation of certain important automation projects in ICT domain, as ‘Make’ projects.
In order to realise the full potential of netcentricity, the entire force from soldier and weapons upward needs to be networked. We are moving in that direction through operational information systems at different levels.
SP’s: What is the current status of Indian Army’s command, information and decision support system (CIDSS) which involves the development of the artillery command and control, and communication system (ACCCS); air defence control and reporting system; electronic warfare system; battlefield surveillance system (BSS); battlefield management system (BMS); and futuristic infantry soldier as a system (F-INSAS)?
DGIS: As brought out in Question No 1, automation of operational information system is currently at various stages of development and fielding. Automation of operational system is being concurrently pursued right from soldier level upwards to strategic level. Moreover, all these systems are being evolved in an integrated manner. As a result, fully integrated operational information system is expected to be fielded as per the priorities w.e.f. 2015.
SP’s: What are the various sub-systems of the BMS?
DGIS: The proposed BMS is being designed to automate operational functioning at the execution level in the tactical domain. The solution would call for a family of systems depending upon the type, role and hierarchy of the entity. The proposed BMS solution would essentially consist of communication sub-system, non-communication hardware in terms of computing devices, display units, navigation sub-system, software component, etc, to run the required functionalities and power management system.
SP’s: The military instrument of NCW will have to be forged on suitably integrated organisation, induction of new technology, joint operational concepts and doctrines, and joint training. How far have we progressed in this field?
DGIS: Net-centricity will usher in profound changes in operational concepts and organisational changes. The former would be a natural process as we imbibe netcentricity; the latter is already under way. The human resources to drive the NCW apparatus is being created by a training mechanism at cat ‘A’ and ‘B’ institution to build the IT capability across the spectrum of Indian Army. Apart from this, adequate exposure in IT and NCW is being imparted at unit and formation level by means of
Net-centricity will usher in profound changes in operational concepts and organisational changes. The former would be a natural process as we imbibe net-centricity; the latter is already under way.
various training capsules, cadres and integrated firing, employing integrated Tac C3I systems at a formation level rather than at individual unit level.
SP’s: Have we been able to digitise the border area maps including the territory beyond the border in the case of our likely adversaries? What is the progress in this regard?
DGIS: Accurate geospatial data forms the bedrock of operational automated system; the essence of tactics is the interplay of ground and weapons. The requirement is being met through a bank of geospatial data which is being gradually built up through inputs from various related agencies in the country.
SP’s: How is India’s advanced software capabilities being exploited by the Army?
DGIS: India has immense Information Technology (IT) skilled human resources (HR) which has propelled it globally as an IT superpower. Necessary handshake between the industry and the services has been an ongoing process. During the past five years, industry has been involved in the development of major MIS projects (with pan-Army footprints) and their results would be visible in the environment within next three to six months. As far as the capital projects are concerned, some of the recent mega projects have been categorised as ‘Make’, thereby creating an avenue for further enhanced participation by the industry in the development of information systems. We are sanguine that similar engagements will help us to harness the potential of Indian industry towards our goals.
SP’s: Is the Indian Army planning to network all weapon platforms for ‘situational awareness’ or is this going to be done selectively? Can you give us an idea of the costs involved?
DGIS: In order to realise the full potential of net-centricity, the entire force from soldier and weapons upward needs to be networked. We are moving in that direction through operational information systems at different levels. Networking legacy equipment is expected to be a challenging process. However, we are taking measures to ensure that all the equipment scheduled for induction/development in future, is also data-enabled, so that their integration does not pose any challenge later.
SP’s: How is the peacetime automated management of units being ensured through the Army Software Development Centre (ASDC)? How far have we progressed in this field?
DGIS: ASDC has worked out a comprehensive MIS automation framework for the Indian Army, based on a contemporary model. This pervasive framework penetrates all echelons of the Army from units, upwards to Directorates at Army Headquarters. This framework is the bedrock of unit peacetime MIS functioning; all other activities are oriented towards achieving this goal. ASDC is intimately involved in all stages of software development life cycle and ensures that holistic and compre- hensive packages are developed and fielded in the Indian Army. Based on the user feedback, it fixes bugs and develops upgrades which are disseminated to the users. The present efforts at ASDC are to develop a fully-integrated MIS for the Army, useable across all the units and through all hierarchies.