SP's LandForces - - EDITORIAL / LEAD STORY - Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd)

De­fence Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley, May this year, had de­clared that the gov­ern­ment would fo­cus on ex­pe­dit­ing the pace of de­fence ac­qui­si­tions for mod­erni­sa­tion of the armed forces. The UPA Gov­ern­ment had been pro­claim­ing for years that De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pol­icy (DPP) had been Ôsim­pli by the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD), even the in­dige­nous pri­vate sec­tor. Public sec­tor is favoured de­spite their poor gen­eral per­for state of our de­fence-in­dus­trial com­plex, the need of the hour is to make the In­dian de­fence sec­tor un­am­bigu­ously lucrative for in­vestors. But will this hap­pen with the 49 per cent hike an­nounced by the De­fence Min­is­ter? We have our doubts. So where does that leave our de­fence ca­pa­bil­ity and pre

In this con­text we should re­mem­ber that the let­ter writ­ten by Gen­eral V.K. Singh (Retd), the for­mer Chief of Army Staff (COAS), to the Prime Min­is­ter on March 12, 2012, high­lighted that the mis­sion re­li­a­bil­ity of mech­a­nised ve­hi­cles was poor, the ar­tillery was ob­so­lete and in­ad­e­quate, air de­fence was an­ti­quated, ar­mour was un­re­li­able due to reg­u­lar bar­rel ac­ci­dents caused by mis­match between in­dige­nous bar­rels and - corps he­li­copters needed ur­gent re­place­ments, and hold­ings of all types of mis­siles, anti-tank and spe­cialised am­mu­ni­tion was crit­i­cally low. Thus point­ing to the lack future wars. We have seen no in­duc­tion tak­ing place so far.

The voids in equip­ment and mod­ern war to­gether with the lack of mod­erni­sa­tion of the equip­ment in the Army has re­sulted in a ca­pa­bil­ity gap vis- -vis our likely ad­ver­saries and this is be­com­ing more pro­nounced day by day. Fol­low­ing this it seems that the De­fence Min­istry dur­ing the UPA rule had track ac­qui­si­tions and the list of essen­tials was pre­pared and sent. - proved but in fact has wors­ened in the past two years or so. On the one hand, noth­ing has come so far, while on the other hand, mis­siles and spe­cialised am­mu­ni­tion hold­ings which have a shelf life, have dipped fur­ther. And to top it all, a new rais­ing of a strike corps for the moun­tains has com­menced but the ques­tion be­ing asked is Ð where is the equip­ment?

The UPA Gov­ern­ment had in prin­ci­ple sanc­tioned the Twelfth Five Year De­fence Plan (2012-17) as a re­sult of the se­vere crit­i­cism for the Army it was a cos­metic pa­per ex­er­cise as even the Eleventh Plan pro­cure­ments had not ma­te­ri­alised. Thus con­sid­er­ing the Eleventh and Twelfth Plans need to be im­ple­mented. The de­fence bud­get for 2013-14 grew by 5 per cent over the pre­vi­ous year, with de­fence cap­i­tal ac­qui­si­tions grow av­er­ag­ing more than 5 per cent since Fe­bru­ary, and the ru­pee de­pre­ci­at­ing by 14 per cent against the dol­lar over the same pe­riod, that mod­est bud­get in­crease was ac­tu­ally a bud­get de­crease for de­fence. As far as the bud­get for FY 2014-15 is con­cerned the Fi­nance Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley on July 10, 2014, an­nounced an ad­di­tional ` 5,000 crore, tak­ing the amount al­lo­cated to the In­dian de­fence to ` 2,29,000 crore from ` 2,24,000 crore an­nounced in the in­terim bud­get pre­sented by the UPA-II Gov­ern­ment.

Anal­y­sis of the cur­rent bud­get shows that the ser­vices have re­ceived no in­crease in cap­i­tal bud in the in­terim bud­get. The en­tire amount has gone to the De­fence Re­search and Devel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) and the Ord­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) with ` 1,000 crore for devel­op­ment of rail net­work in bor­der ar­eas. The cap­i­tal out­lay an­nounced in the in­terim bud­get will mostly get con­sumed in the ex­ist­ing li­a­bil­i­ties. This means that this year there is no like­li­hood of in­duc­tion of any big-ticket items in any of the Ser­vices.

On July 19, 2014, the Min­istry of De­fence cleared pro­cure­ment pro­pos­als worth ` 21,000 crore for the IAF and the In­dian Navy but once again in­vis­i­ble! In light of the above sit­u­a­tion, the me­dia re­ports that the out­go­ing Army Chief Gen­eral Bikram Singh, in the cap­i­tal, is re­ported to have praised both the pre­vi­ous and the present gov­ern­ment for the full co­op­er­a­tion re­ceived by the Army was re­ceived with skep­ti­cism by the serv­ing as well as the re­tired com­mu­nity. While cour­te­sies by out­go­ing chiefs are cus­tom­ary, they must not amount to un­nec - served. The in­ac­tions and in­de­ci­sive­ness of the pre­vi­ous (UPA) Gov­ern­ment and lack of ur­gency in procur­ing ur­gently needed weapons and mu­ni­tions for the Army in the past 10 years of UPA rule is ev­i­dence enough of their ne­glect re­sult­ing in the shrink­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the In­dian Army.

We hope that the present NDA prom­ises of meet­ing the ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal se­cu­rity chal­lenges fac­ing the coun­try and mod­ernise its armed forces and its in­ter­nal se­cu­rity forces to meet th­ese chal­lenges. The cur­rent di­rec­tion and stance of the NDA Gov­ern­ment seems en­cour­ag­ing but now they need to walk the talk.

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