Lt General S.H. Kulkarni
DGMF, Indian Army
SP’s Land Forces (SP’s): What is the charter of duties of the DGMF in respect of Armoured Corps and Mechanised Infantry and Armoured Corps Centre and School?
Lt General S.H. Kulkarni (DGMF): DGMF forms part of General Staff Branch of the IHQ of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) (Army) and functions under DCOAS (P&S). Earlier the Armoured Corps and Mechanised Infantry issues were being dealt separately. However, since February 2005, the Directorate has evolved to a fully integrated model and is responsible for all issues concerning the Armoured Corps, Mechanised Infantry and the Brigade of the GUARDS.
The Directorate is responsible for driving the policies, procedures and practices relevant to the Mechanised Forces.
HQ ARTRAC is responsible to oversee the functioning of the Armoured Corps Centre and School. DGMF monitors the training of recruits and coordinates issues which are common to the Mechanised Infantry Regiment Centre and GUARDS Regimental Centre. The aspects of man management encompass various aspects of recruitment, improvement of service conditions and their discharge based on our present and future requirements. The Directorate is responsible for ensuring that the professional and personal aspirations of our personnel are effectively met. The Colonels of the respective Regiments play an important role in guiding the Commandants of their respective centres.
SP’s: In the context of the future threats and challenges, have any new roles been defined for the Armoured Corps and the Mechanised Infantry?
DGMF: The Mechanised Forces are expected to operate through the full spectrum of operations. As the threats undergo a change we adapt our capabilities to deal with them. The
DGMT exercises technical control over them. SP’s: What are the basic parameters which you consider essential and vital for designing the future MBT of the Indian Army? How is the Army and the Armoured Corps keeping a tab on the work being done by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in this field? What are the formal arrangements in place to ensure user inputs at all stages of development? DGMF: The FMBT is to be developed as a state-of-the-art tank, incorporating the latest technologies prevalent at the time of freezing its design. Extensive interaction is underway with all stakeholders, including DRDO. A collegiate meets at regular intervals to consider inputs and responses from various agencies. SP’s: What is the status of the Arjun Mk II tank presently? What will be the main difference in the Arjun Mk II tank from the earlier version? DGMF: Arjun Mark II is currently undergoing trials. The main difference will be the addition of missile firing capability. A large number of major and minor upgrades are being evaluated. SP’s: The main fleet comprises the T-72 M1 tank, indigenously built under licence. The maintainability of this tank now is being questioned. What maintenance and spares problems is the Army facing currently and what are we doing about it? What is the status of medium repair, and base overhaul of these tanks? DGMF: The T-72 tank forms the bulk of our tank population. As the T-72 tank is likely to remain in service for the foreseeable future, a three-pronged approach is necessary. This includes a higher inventory of spares, enhanced capacities for overhaul and an upgrade programme. The MGO is addressing these issues. SP’s: It seems that the T-90 is planned to be the current Main Battle Tank of the Army. Is the Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi geared to handle this responsibility in addition to the manufacture of the Arjun tank and the T-72 M1 tank? DGMF: The ordnance factory has been informed of the impending production and overhaul requirements through MGO.
SP’s: Are the mechanised forces planning to induct mini and micro UAVs for their units?
DGMF: UAVs provide surveillance that is useful to all arms. As and when these are inducted, the requirements of the mechanised forces will also be considered. SP’s: Has any new equipment been planned for the reconnaissance troops and platoons of armoured regiments and mechanised infantry battalions respectively to make them more effective? DGMF: There is an inescapable need for a customised vehicle for the mechanised troops and platoons. The case to procure these vehicles is under consideration.
SP’s: How far have we reached in the T-72 upgrade and modernisation programme?
DGMF: The T-72 tank constitutes bulk of our tank fleet. Enhancing the combat potential of these tanks through a range of upgrades is a necessity. The process of implementing these improvements has begun. SP’s: With the introduction of the radio sets CNR-900 (Tadiran) in armoured regiments, which are frequency hopping, how is compatibility being ensured with mechanised infantry, artillery, air defence, assault engineers and others in the armoured divisions and strike corps? DGMF: CNR 900 (Tadiran) was procured to equip the Mechanised Forces, supporting arms and services with secure commu- nication facility. These sets have since been installed and are in use. The problem of compatibility between the mechanised forces and other arms is being addressed on priority.
SP’s: What is the state of progress of the futuristic infantry combat vehicle (FICV) of the Indian Army?
DGMF: The FICVs is a test case for the first ever ‘Make’ category scheme sanctioned by the Government of India. The requirement of developing a FICV as a de-novo project was derived from the operational requirement of the Mech Forces, in order to replace the BMP-II ICVs, in a phased manner. The collaborative-cum-consortia approach has been adopted for its development. SP’s: There is a feeling among the middle cadre officers that with arm-wise vacancy based selections for higher ranks vitiates the concept of “General Cadre” and adversely affects the career prospects of bright officers? How far has this thinking influenced the functional efficiency of the officer cadre in the mechanised forces? DGMF: The DGMF is primarily responsible for HR policies impacting our armoured regiments and mechanised infantry battalions. Selection for command assignment at this level has always been within the same arm.
SP’s: In the recent past we have had some cases of indiscipline in the armoured units. This is very surprising because the AC officers always took pride in their excellent rapport with the other ranks. May we have your views in this regard?
DGMF: The recent incidents that you refer to have made us introspect not only on the causes and remedial actions but equally on anticipating and pre-empting such cases in future. The close bond between an armoured corps officer and his soldiers needs to be fostered through this process of introspection.