Lt Gen­eral S.H. Kulka­rni

DGMF, In­dian Army

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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.

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