Pre­par­ing Sol­diers for Fu­ture Wars

We must be pre­pared for short, in­tense, high-tech wars; in ad­di­tion to ex­pand­ing ter­ror­ism, asym­met­ric and fourth gen­er­a­tion wars where the sol­dier faces the brunt at the cut­ting edge. De­lay in mod­erni­sa­tion has a di­rect bear­ing on com­bat ef­fi­ciency in co

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch

We must be pre­pared for short, in­tense, high-tech wars; in ad­di­tion to ex­pand­ing ter­ror­ism, asym­met­ric and fourth gen­er­a­tion wars where the sol­dier faces the brunt at the cut­ting edge.

T HE IM­POR­TANCE OF THE man be­hind the ma­chine or weapon re­quires no de­bate. Con­flict sit­u­a­tions like ter­ror­ism, asym­met­ric and fourth gen­er­a­tion wars have height­ened their im­por­tance much more. At the same time, rapid ad­vances in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy are rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing meth­ods of fight­ing. Si­t­u­a­tional aware­ness, in­for­ma­tion dom­i­nance, joint­ness, net-cen­tric­ity and stand-off pre­ci­sion weapons are the buzz­words, re­quir­ing a trans­formed sol­dier ca­pa­ble of deal­ing with high-tech war that will be short and in­tense plus con­tend­ing with fleet­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clud­ing by ter­ror­ists/non-state ac­tors/state-spon­sored non-state ac­tors, who are get­ting more and more so­phis­ti­cated. To­day’s sol­dier must be a man-ma­chine-tech­nol­ogy mix, a weapon plat­form with ad­e­quate fire­power, self-pro­tec­tion, night-fight­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and mo­bil­ity. He should have the abil­ity to ‘see’ the en­emy much be­fore he him­self gets spot­ted and be net­worked to the re­quired level, en­abling him to ef­fec­tively re­spond to any sit­u­a­tion in real/near real time. Time mag­a­zine voiced con­cerns of the US Army’s slow sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion in the haze of big ticket de­fence ac­qui­si­tions, a few years into Iraq and Afghanistan. Same has been the case with sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion in In­dia. It is only in re­cent years that the fu­ture in­fantry sol­dier sys­tem (F-IN­SAS) has gath­ered pace al­beit the time­lines an­nounced ini­tially have not been met, as is the case of al­most all the De­fence Re­search and Devel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) projects. There is need to not only has­ten up this project but also holis­ti­cally re­view whether there is a need to go be­yond F-IN­SAS to meet the sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion needs of the In­dian Army per se and the se­cu­rity sec­tor.


The F-IN­SAS pro­gramme, which is to en­sure a dra­matic in­crease in lethal­ity, sur­viv­abil­ity and mo­bil­ity while mak­ing the in­fantry sol­dier “a self-con­tained fight­ing ma­chine”, is based on the land war­rior sys­tem of the US Army and fu­ture sol­dier pro­grammes of other na­tions. With the in­tent to re­tain its strate­gic au­ton­omy, self-re­liance and indi­geni­sa­tion of the pro­gramme is be­ing em­pha­sised. Most of the equip­ment is be­ing in­dige­nously devel­oped by DRDO in­de­pen­dently, as the prime de­vel­oper and the sys­tem in­te­gra­tor, as well as with pri­vate part­ner­ship. F-IN­SAS is be­ing devel­oped in three phases; Phase 1 (orig­i­nally sched­uled to be com­pleted by 2012) com­pris­ing weapons, body ar­mour, cloth­ing and in­di­vid­ual equip­ment, Phase 2 com­pris­ing the tar­get ac­qui­si­tion sys­tem and Phase 3 com­pris­ing the com­puter sub-sys­tem, ra­dio sub­sys­tem, soft­ware and soft­ware in­te­gra­tion. F-IN­SAS will pro­vide the in­fantry­man with lat­est weaponry, com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work and in­stant ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion on the bat­tle­field. It will in­clude a fully-net­worked all-ter­rain, all-weather per­sonal-equip­ment plat­form, en­hanced fire­power and mo­bil­ity for the dig­i­talised bat­tle­field of the fu­ture. The In­fantry­man will be equipped with mis­sion-ori­ented equip­ment in­te­grated with his buddy sol­dier team, the sub­unit, as also the over­all com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, com­put­ers, in­for­ma­tion and in­tel­li­gence (C4I2) sys­tem. Com­plete field­ing in all in­fantry and RR units (some 465 bat­tal­ions) is planned to be com­pleted by 2020 or so.

The core sys­tems of F-IN­SAS com­prise hel­met with vi­sor, cloth­ing, weapons and ac­ces­sories. The hel­met is an in­te­grated as­sem­bly equipped with hel­met-mounted flash light, ther­mal sen­sors and night vi­sion de­vice, dig­i­tal com­pass, video cam­eras, com­puter and nu­clear, chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal sen­sors, with au­dio head­sets. The vi­sor is in­tended to be in­te­grated and to act as a

Sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion of the in­fantry must be treated as an ‘emer­gent’ re­quire­ment in con­sid­er­a­tion of the emerg­ing threats within and sur­round­ing the coun­try, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the rate at which the ter­ror­ists are achiev­ing so­phis­ti­ca­tion

head-up dis­play mon­i­tor equiv­a­lent to two 17-inch com­puter mon­i­tors. The per­sonal cloth­ing of the in­fantry sol­dier of the fu­ture would be light­weight with a bul­let-proof jacket. The fu­tur­is­tic jacket would be wa­ter­proofed, yet breath­able. The new at­tire will en­able the troops to carry ex­tra load and re­sist the im­pact of nu­clear, chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal war­fare. The uni­form will also carry so­lar charg­ers for charg­ing palm­top and other at­tached elec­tronic equip­ment. It will con­tain ex­ter­nal oxy­gen sup­ply and res­pi­ra­tor pro­vid­ing pro­tec­tion against gas and smoke and will in­clude flame re­tar­dant car­bonised vis­cose un­der­gar­ments, fire proof knee and el­bow pads, bul­let-proof ar­moured waist­coat de­signed to stop a bul­let, ce­ramic ar­mour plates cov­er­ing the front, back and groin and an ar­moured hel­met ca­pa­ble of stop­ping a 9mm round at close range. The new uni­form will have vests with sen­sors to mon­i­tor the sol­dier’s health pa­ram­e­ters and pro­vide quick med­i­cal re­lief.

The weapons sub-sys­tem is be­ing built around a multi-cal­i­bre in­di­vid­ual weapon sys­tem with the fourth cal­i­bre at­tached to a grenade launcher. Th­ese in­clude a 5.56mm, a 7.62mm and a new 6.8mm weapon un­der devel­op­ment for the first time in In­dia. The un­der bar­rel grenade launcher (UBGL) will be ca­pa­ble of launch­ing air burst­ing grenade. The sub-sys­tem in­cludes a ther­mal weapon sight and laser range finder to pro­vide the sol­dier with range and di­rec­tion in­for­ma­tion. The global po­si­tion­ing sys­tem (GPS) lo­ca­tion in­for­ma­tion will al­low the sol­dier to call for in­di­rect fire ac­cu­rately. While there are two types of next gen­er­a­tion in­fantry ri­fles un­der devel­op­ment in­dige­nously, global ten­der for the ac­qui­si­tion of new as­sault ri­fles and car­bines for close quar­ters bat­tle (CQB) car­bines have been is­sued. As for ac­ces­sories, the sol­dier will be equipped with palm­top GPS de­vice for com­mu­ni­cat­ing with other sol­diers and lo­cate or gen­er­ate maps to find lo­ca­tion, and for si­t­u­a­tional aware­ness. The palm­top will in­form the sol­diers’ lo­ca­tion of friendly forces in re­la­tion to their own po­si­tions. It will also en­able them to trans­fer mes­sages. Ter­rain equip­ment gears for var­i­ous mis­sions will also be car­ried. Ther­mal imag­ing, sen­sors and night vi­sion equip­ment, cur­rently de­ployed in weapon sys­tems such as ar­tillery and main bat­tle tanks will be cus­tomised to make them por­ta­ble for sol­diers to carry in the bat­tle ground. De­fence ad­vanced GPS re­ceivers, in­frared sen­sors, ther­mal sen­sors, elec­tro­mag­netic sen­sors and ra­dio fre­quency sen­sors would also be car­ried.

The bat­tle­field man­age­ment sys­tem (BMS) and F-IN­SAS pro­grammes are be­ing devel­oped con­cur­rently; BMS un­der in­for­ma­tion sys­tems and F-IN­SAS un­der the In­fantry. BMS was con­ceived at bat­tal­ion/ reg­i­ment level pan-Army (in­clud­ing for the in­fantry) and com­prises of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, non-com­mu­ni­ca­tion hard­ware and soft­ware. The low­est level to which the sys­tem will be con­nected is the in­di­vid­ual sol­dier/ weapon plat­form and the high­est level with bat­tal­ion/reg­i­ment com­man­der. The sys­tem will be fur­ther in­te­grated with the tac­ti­cal com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­for­ma­tion (Tac C3I) sys­tem through the com­mand in­for­ma­tion de­ci­sion sup­port sys­tem (CIDSS). The Di­rec­torate Gen­eral of In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem (DGIS) is charged with fa­cil­i­tat­ing trans­for­ma­tion of the In­dian Army into a dy­namic net­work-cen­tric force, achiev­ing in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity through ef­fec­tive man­age­ment of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. Quite log­i­cally, Phase 3 of F-IN­SAS (com­puter sub-sys­tem, ra­dio sub-sys­tem, soft­ware and soft­ware in­te­gra­tion) should

be part of the BMS. How­ever, the In­fantry re­mains adamant that Phase 3 of F-IN­SAS should be devel­oped by In­fantry and not be part of the BMS. A sep­a­rate project of soft­ware and com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­te­gra­tion by In­fantry is ret­ro­grade and de­lay­ing over­all net-cen­tric­ity pan-Army, would in­cur ad­di­tional avoid­able costs and de­feat the very pur­pose that DGIS was cre­ated for, con­sid­er­able work in the fields of GIS and ap­pli­ca­tions hav­ing al­ready been done by the lat­ter in ad­di­tion to com­plet­ing Phase 1 of CIDSS and bat­tle­field sur­veil­lance sys­tem (BSS).

While the In­dian Army re­quired the BMS ‘yes­ter­day’, squab­bling on de­lim­i­ta­tion be­tween the BMS and F-IN­SAS led to de­lay of the Phase 1 of BMS by al­most a year. The in­fantry has been hag­gling that Phase 3 of F-IN­SAS be devel­oped by them in full or at least till com­pany/pla­toon level. Since F-IN­SAS is to in­cor­po­rate si­t­u­a­tional aware­ness and GIS, it amounts to not only ‘re-in­vent­ing the wheel’ but also re­quires yet an­other project to in­te­grate the F-IN­SAS with the BMS, im­ply­ing avoid­able ad­di­tional ex­pen­di­ture and time. We have not learnt from sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions in for­eign armies. In UK, the FIST pro­gramme for In­fantry was thought of 10 years af­ter the bow­man pro­gramme. In the lat­ter, the C2 sys­tem went down to half squad. The Pla­toon Com­man­der car­ries both the Bow­man and the FIST. In case the sec­tion has to func­tion in­de­pen­dently, the Sec­tion Com­man­der car­ries both the Bow­man and FIST. Sep­a­rate F-IN­SAS and BMS could lead us to sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions which should be un­ac­cept­able. FBCB2 was im­ple­mented in the US Army in 1998. Land war­rior was started late, pro­to­typed in 2005 and fore­closed in 2007, lead­ing to the fu­ture force war­rior (FFW) pro­gramme be­ing started. Land war­rior did not in­te­grate with FBCB2. As a re­sult, FBCB2 is be­ing re­placed by joint bat­tle com­mand sys­tem (JBCS) which goes down to the sol­dier. Sig­nif­i­cantly, FFW pro­gramme is look­ing only at the sol­dier en­sem­ble to in­clude weapon, pro­tec­tion and in­te­grated hel­met. The fu­ture sol­dier pro­gramme will not have a ra­dio of its own but JTRS Clus­ter 5 Ra­dio (sol­dier ra­dio), com­mon to all US sol­diers and a com­mon SA and com­puter from JBCS. The hel­met will have a hel­met-mounted dis­play and ear­phones as well as mi­cro­phone. Sys­tem of sys­tems are about in­te­grat­ing sys­tems and em­pow­er­ing the user. The sol­dier is only a part of the net­work; he is not re­spon­si­ble for the net­work. Sep­a­rate F-IN­SAS and BMS pro­grammes will lead to is­sues re­lated to in­ter­op­er­abil­ity and in­te­gra­tion of sys­tems as the sys­tems may be devel­oped by dif­fer­ent agen­cies us­ing dif­fer­ent plat­forms. Main­te­nance of dis­parate sys­tems would be re­quired and it would be dif­fi­cult to achieve test bed of an in­te­grated com­bat group or in­fantry bat­tal­ion group. It would be pru­dent for the In­fantry to only de­velop Phases 1 and 2 of the F-IN­SAS, leav­ing devel­op­ment of Phase 3 as part of the BMS, es­pe­cially since the lat­ter also caters for Mech­a­nised In­fantry both in mounted and dis­mounted roles.

Be­yond F-IN­SAS

Should we be look­ing be­yond F-IN­SAS? Pru­dence de­mands we should. The rea­sons for this are as fol­lows:

While In­fantry un­doubt­edly is the Queen of Bat­tle, sol­diers other than from In­fantry also con­trib­ute to the ‘cut­ting edge’ as front­line troops. The BMS is ca­ter­ing for the digi­tised bat­tle­field at reg­i­ment/bat­tal­ion level pan Army but the BMS does not cater to weapons, body ar­mour, cloth­ing and in­di­vid­ual equip­ment, which ac­tu­ally should be part of sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion pan-Army. In an en­vi­ron­ment of counter-ter­ror­ism and counter-in­sur­gency, in­vari­ably troops other than in­fantry also get in­volved in op­er­a­tions both in­ad­ver­tently and/or ad­ver­tently. We should there­fore be look­ing at across the board sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion con­cur­rent to the in­fantry sol­dier. A dis­pas­sion­ate anal­y­sis would in­di­cate that the costs in­volved are minis­cule com­pared to big ticket ac­qui­si­tions and a mi­nor cur­tail­ment of the lat­ter can eas­ily be ad­justed against full spec­trum sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion, es­pe­cially as the pay­offs in terms of op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency at the cut­ting edge would be ex­po­nen­tially en­hanced. Sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion should also cater to very ba­sic items (like masks, gloves, hoods) for NBC pro­tec­tion for emerg­ing threats in con­ven­tional and sub-con­ven­tional con­flict sit­u­a­tions. We are al­ready some years into asym­met­ric wars waged by Pak­istan and China and by all indi­ca­tions they are leav­ing no stone un­turned to up the ante. Asym­met­ric wars are waged on a na­tion and can­not be coun­tered by the mil­i­tary alone. The en­tire se­cu­rity sec­tor needs to be en­er­gised. The na­tional cut­ting edge in­cludes the Para­mil­i­tary Forces (PMF) and Cen­tral Armed Po­lice Forces (CAPF) be­sides oth­ers. There­fore, at least those PMF and CAPF units that are en­gaged or tasked for counter-ter­ror­ism and counter-in­sur­gency must be part of sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion.

We must re­mem­ber that in the 21st cen­tury con­flict sit­u­a­tions, not only will op­er­a­tions be in­creas­ingly in­ter­a­gency, in­volv­ing greater ap­pli­ca­tion of “all el­e­ments of na­tional power”, our ad­ver­saries will also en­deav­our to em­ploy high-tech ir­reg­u­lar forces against us. If we can achieve sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion within the se­cu­rity sec­tor and net­work this cut­ting edge at the na­tional level, we can be sure to win fu­ture con­flict sit­u­a­tions.

Act Fast

Sol­dier mod­erni­sa­tion of the in­fantry has not been given its due in the past decades. This must be treated as an ‘emer­gent’ re­quire­ment in con­sid­er­a­tion of the emerg­ing threats within and sur­round­ing the coun­try, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the rate at which the ter­ror­ists are achiev­ing so­phis­ti­ca­tion. We must be pre­pared for short, in­tense, high-tech wars; in ad­di­tion to ex­pand­ing ter­ror­ism, asym­met­ric and fourth gen­er­a­tion wars where the sol­dier faces the brunt at the cut­ting edge. De­lay in mod­erni­sa­tion has a di­rect bear­ing on com­bat ef­fi­ciency in cop­ing with threats to na­tional se­cu­rity and lives of the in­fantry­man. We need to act and act fast.


In­fantry­men dur­ing Ex­er­cise Su­dar­shan Shakti

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