‘My vi­sion is to en­sure ca­pa­bil­ity en­hance­ment and op­er­a­tional ef­fec­tive­ness of the Army’

On Jan­uary 2, 2014, a team of SP’s Land Forces com­pris­ing Jayant Baranwal, Ed­i­tor-in-Chief, and Ed­i­tor Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd) in­ter­viewed the Chief of the Army Staff Gen­eral Dal­bir Singh PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC who can­didly spoke about the achie

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SP’s Land Forces (SP’s): It has been more than six months that you took com­mand of the In­dian Army. Our army has been per­form­ing ex­ceed­ingly well in all fields— be it man­ag­ing the counter-in­sur­gency en­vi­ron­ment in Jammu & Kashmir and North East, pro­vid­ing suc­cour to cit­i­zens in times of nat­u­ral calami­ties or ex­celling in sports and games for the coun­try. While it re­flects the or­gan­i­sa­tional strength and fo­cused train­ing of the army, it also showcases the vi­sion and higher di­rec­tions

be­ing dis­sem­i­nated down to lower lev­els. May we know, sir, what is your vi­sion for the army?

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS): Yes, it has been almost six months now since I took over. Firstly, I must tell you that I am com­mit­ted to en­sure that the In­dian Army is syn­ony­mous with pro­fes­sion­al­ism. We lay tremen­dous fo­cus on in­di­vid­ual and or­gan­i­sa­tional com­mit­ment, which def­i­nitely is the bedrock of our or­gan­i­sa­tion. My vi­sion is to en­sure ca­pa­bil­ity en­hance­ment and oper- ational ef­fec­tive­ness of the army to meet all con­tem­po­rary and emerg­ing chal­lenges.

SP’s: There is a per­cep­ti­ble shift in the se­cu­rity dy­nam­ics in the global and sub­con­ti­nen­tal con­text. How do you as­sess the changes? How is In­dian Army pre­pared to cater for the op­er­a­tional and lo­gis­tic im­per­a­tives? COAS: The In­dian Army is man­dated to safe­guard na­tional in­ter­ests from ex­ter­nal ag­gres­sion to in­ter­nal sub­ver­sion. Our

bor­ders have be­come in­creas­ingly ac­tive over the years. Th­ese vast bor­ders pass­ing through some of the most rugged ter­rains in the world, with large ar­eas be­ing dis­puted, pose com­plex ex­ter­nal se­cu­rity chal­lenges. Re­gional in­sta­bil­ity as be­ing wit­nessed in the Af-Pak re­gion has di­rect bear­ing on our se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion. On our north­ern front the ca­pa­bil­ity gap re­mains a cause for con­cern. Our in­ter­nal se­cu­rity chal­lenges are also in­tri­cately linked to our ex­ter­nal threats. In ad­di­tion, ter­ror­ism and the in­volve­ment of non-state ac­tors with state spon­sor­ship has brought about a fun- da­men­tal shift in the con­duct of warfight­ing. They re­main one of the big­gest threats to an emerg­ing In­dia.

The In­dian Army is fully aware of the emerg­ing se­cu­rity sce­nario. Our ca­pa­bil­ity en­hance­ment ef­forts are fo­cused to­wards pre­par­ing the In­dian Army to ef­fec­tively meet the con­tem­po­rary and fu­ture chal­lenges. With changed dy­nam­ics and en­hanced fo­cus along the north­ern bor­ders, and in view limited de­vel­op­ment, the lo­gis­tics re­sources are op­ti­mised by dual task­ing and reg­u­lar prac­tice dur­ing var­i­ous ex­er­cises, thereby ad­dress­ing both con­tin­gen­cies con­cur­rently. Fur­ther­more, ‘Mo­bil­i­sa­tion Plan Units’ are planned to be raised in the event of gen­eral mo­bil­i­sa­tion to fa­cil­i­tate in­duc­tion and sub­se­quently support for­ma­tions dur­ing their con­duct of op­er­a­tions.

About ` 9,243.64 crore was sanc­tioned for in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment in East­ern The­atre in year 2010. Sim­i­lar case for in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment along north­ern bor­ders is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion with the gov­ern­ment. In or­der to over­come the op­er­a­tional lo­gis­tic chal­lenges of stor­age of am­mu­ni­tion in bor­der ar­eas, a pro­posal for con­struc­tion of ‘UG/Tun­nelled Stor­age of Am­mu­ni­tion’ is un­der progress. More­over, to en­hance FOL stor­age in high-al­ti­tude area re­gions de­void of nat­u­ral cover, projects for cre­at­ing of un­der­ground tank­ages at nom­i­nated lo­ca­tions is be­ing pro­gressed which would en­hance lo­gis­tic sus­te­nance man­i­fold.

SP’s: China’s eco­nomic rise and its stead­fast mil­i­tary mod­erni­sa­tion has some co­gent lessons for In­dia. What are the ar­eas of thrust for in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ments in the east to pre­pare our­selves for the fu­ture? How far have we pro­gressed in this sphere?

COAS:

In­dian Army is pre­pared to take on any chal­lenges to na­tional se­cu­rity. To­wards this end, in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment along the line of ac­tual con­trol (LAC) is be­ing pro­gressed in a com­pre­hen­sive and holis­tic man­ner. Based on de­vel­op­ment and lo­gis­tic re­quire­ment, roads and rail­way lines are be­ing de­vel­oped along the bor­ders to im­prove con­nec­tiv­ity to for­ward ar­eas by way of a sys­tem­at­i­cally evolved plan.

The in­fra­struc­ture be­ing cre­ated in ad­di­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of road and strate­gic rail­way net­works also in­cludes per­ma­nent de­fences, habi­tat, de­vel­op­ment of lo­gis­tic in­fra­struc­ture, mil­i­tary avi­a­tion bases and other in­fra­struc­ture in per­ma­nent lo­ca­tions. The same is be­ing com­pre­hen­sively mon­i­tored to en­sure time bound com­ple­tion.

SP’s: In­dian Army is un­der­go­ing or­gan­i­sa­tional and doc­tri­nal changes. Its em­ploy­a­bil­ity has also in­creased man­i­fold with con­tin­gents op­er­at­ing in UN. A con­sid­er­able part in the cur­rent hold­ings of equip­ment are ob­so­lete and needs ur­gent at­ten­tion. What are we do­ing about it? COAS:

There is a well es­tab­lished pro­ce­dure to re­place out­dated mil­i­tary equip­ment. It is a part of the mod­erni­sa­tion of the armed forces, which is a con­tin­u­ous process based on threat per­cep­tion, op­er­a­tional chal­lenges, tech­no­log­i­cal changes and avail­able re­sources. The out­dated equip­ment is be­ing up­graded ac­cord­ingly.

Presently, a pro­posal is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion of procur­ing 100 wheeled APCs for our UN con­tin­gents. Th­ese wheeled APCs are likely to re­place the BMPs. The same will im­prove de­ploy­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties of our con­tin­gents.

Tan­gi­ble steps have been taken to fast track pro­cess­ing of key EW (elec­tronic war­fare) and com­mu­ni­ca­tion projects. A project for pro­cure­ment of tac­ti­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem (TCS) for the TBA based on a grid com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work is un­der way.

One of the ma­jor mod­erni­sa­tion de­ci­sions taken is of cre­at­ing a Dig­i­tal Army. Three key ar­eas and nine pil­lars for Dig­i­tal Army are be­ing worked upon based on Dig­i­tal In­dia plan. Some con­crete ac­tions have been taken in that di­rec­tion and some are in the pipe­line. ‘In­te­gra­tion’ and ‘in­ter- op­er­abil­ity’ have been made key is­sues in all SW ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment. Sys­tem and pro­ce­dures are also be­ing mod­i­fied as part of ‘business process re­view’ as ap­pli­ca­ble.

A close in­ter­ac­tion with in­dus­try is be­ing en­cour­aged wherein re­quire­ment of ser­vices have been high­lighted to the in­dus­try. Ca­pa­bil­ity of in­dus­try in dif­fer­ent do­main has also been re­quested to op­ti­mise our in­ter­face. Fast track­ing pro­ce­dures in DPP & DPM are also be­ing planned for bet­ter re­sponse.

SP’s: We have heard about a Strike Corps be­ing raised for the moun­tains in the East­ern The­atre. Are the moun­tain di­vi­sions, part of the Strike Corps, go­ing to be man­power heavy for­ma­tions of the type that are in ex­is­tence or are we in­tro­duc­ing mod­ern ro­tary-wing ca­pa­bil­ity, mod­ern means of surveil­lance and heav­ier fire­power? What is the army’s vi­sion in this re­gard? COAS:

The Moun­tain Strike Corps will be an in­valu­able in­stru­ment for es­ca­la­tory con­trol as also for en­larg­ing our politi­comil­i­tary op­tions.

It will be com­posed of all arms teams to in­clude in­fantry, ar­mour, ar­tillery, com­bat en­gi­neers, avi­a­tion, as also other en­ablers like long-range vec­tors, com­mu­ni­ca­tion as­sets, space and surveil­lance in­stru­ments, etc. The ca­pac­i­ties that we seek to cre­ate are com­pos­ite and not pred­i­cated on man­power alone.

SP’s: Has our in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing ca­pa­bil­ity im­proved in re­cent times? How are we us­ing mod­ern tech­nol­ogy to gather mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence? Does the In­dian Army have ac­cess to any ex­clu­sive satel­lite like the navy?

COAS:

Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in elec­tron­ics are be­ing used in col­lec­tion of elec­tronic in­tel­li­gence, sig­nal in­tel­li­gence and im­age in­tel­li­gence. Mod­ern tech­nol­ogy is be­ing utilised to col­lect, col­late and in­ter­pret in­tel­li­gence. Ad­vance­ments in re­mote sens­ing and im­age anal­y­sis have man­i­fested in greater ca­pa­bil­ity to an­a­lyse avail­able in­puts.

There are plans to up­grade equip­ment for ex­ploita­tion of fu­ture ad­vance­ments in space-based as­sets. In­dian Army has pri­or­ity ac­cess to CARTOSAT 2A, CARTOSAT 2B and RISAT 2 satel­lites. Due to the above, the ca­pa­bil­ity for real-time in­tel­li­gence gather- ing, col­la­tion, anal­y­sis and dis­sem­i­na­tion has re­ceived a tremen­dous fil­lip.

SP’s: In view of the nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of our re­gion, ma­jor state-to-state wars are not likely. If in­deed we are go­ing to fight bor­der wars, near or close to the bor­der, de­fence and se­cu­rity will merge. How should the na­tion use its com­pre­hen­sive na­tional power to tackle such sit­u­a­tions which have ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal di­men­sions? COAS:

Wars to­day have be­come a ‘whole of na­tion ef­fort’. Our se­cu­rity threats are more com­plex, mul­ti­di­men­sional and hy­brid in character. Tra­di­tional re­sponse mech­a­nisms need to be re­viewed and adapted to re­main rel­e­vant. Any na­tion needs to use the right mix of its var­i­ous in­stru­ments of power to suit the sit­u­a­tion and the de­sired end state.

In our con­text, joint­man­ship be­tween the three ser­vices and in­ter-agency co­or­di­na­tion will be crit­i­cal to achieve suc­cess both against ex­ter­nal threats as well as in­ter­nal se­cu­rity chal­lenges. The In­dian Army will then be used in con­cert with other in­stru­ments of na­tional power to achieve na­tional ob­jec­tives.

SP’s: Fu­ture con­flicts will re­quire to be joint and in­te­grated among the three ser­vices. How far have we reached as far as ‘joint­ness’ or in­te­gra­tion among the three ser­vices is con­cerned? COAS:

Fu­ture mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions will be com­plex, in­tense and fast paced, and to achieve suc­cess cost ef­fec­tively, it would re­quire a very high de­gree of syn­ergy be­tween the ser­vices. Mod­ern war­fare de­mands much higher de­gree of co­or­di­na­tion in op­er­a­tions by all the three ser­vices than ever be­fore. The set­ting up of Head­quar­ters In­te­grated De­fence Staff has also im­proved the syn­ergy and in­te­gra­tion be­tween the three ser­vices.

Joint struc­tures like the An­daman and Ni­co­bar Com­mand and Strate­gic Forces Com­mand have re­sulted in greater in­te­gra­tion in com­mand and con­trol set up and op­ti­mal ex­ploita­tion of re­sources. In­te­gra­tion of cy­ber, space and spe­cial forces do­mains is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. We also reg­u­larly con­duct joint ex­er­cises for greater un­der­stand­ing.

SP’s: Tack­ling global threats such as in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism de­mands de­fence co­op­er­a­tion and a cer­tain level of in­ter­op­er­abil­ity with other na­tions. In the re­cent vis­its of the Prime Min­is­ter to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, ma­jor un­der­stand­ings on de­fence co­op­er­a­tion has been achieved. Please elab­o­rate on the same. COAS:

De­fence co­op­er­a­tion ac­tiv­i­ties con­sti­tute an im­por­tant tool for fur­ther­ance of our na­tional in­ter­ests. In keep­ing with In­dia’s ris­ing global stature, re­cent years have seen a con­sid­er­able in­crease in de­fence co­op­er­a­tion ac­tiv­i­ties un­der­taken by the In­dian Army. Ac­cord­ingly, an in­creas­ing num­ber of friendly for­eign coun­tries (FFCs) have been re­quest­ing to en­gage with the In­dian Army, which is viewed as one of the most pro­fes­sional and dis­ci­plined force, with ex­em­plary train­ing stan­dards and vast de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence.

The pre­vail­ing dy­nam­ics in the re­gion are com­plex. Threats are be­ing faced from multi-na­tional ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions and non-state ac­tors. In­dian Army’s en­deav­our is of mu­tual bene­fac­tion in ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing and em­pow­er­ing armed forces of FFCs to counter threats from ter­ror­ism. Con­certed ef­forts are also be­ing made to en­sure co­or­di­na­tion at the func­tional level to be able to pro­vide timely hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance and dis­as­ter re­lief in times of cri­sis. Th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties are aligned to the na­tional en­deav­our to es­tab­lish In­dia’s cred­i­bil­ity as a re­spon­si­ble na­tion of the re­gion, com­mit­ted to re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity.

SP’s: With the in­creas­ing foot­prints of ISIS in Pak­istan and some mil­i­tant groups openly ad­mit­ting their support/al­le­giance to them and the pull­out of US and NATO troops by the end of 2014 from Afghanistan, what chal­lenges will th­ese de­vel­op­ments pose for In­dia and In­dian Army? How are we pre­par­ing for th­ese chal­lenges? COAS:

As a pro­fes­sional or­gan­i­sa­tion we con­tinue to ob­serve and an­a­lyse geopo­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments that can im­pact our se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment. This in­cludes the growth of ISIS and its im­pact in In­dia. The In­dian Army is pre­pared to meet all threats to our in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal se­cu­rity.

US draw­down may be seen by a num­ber of rad­i­calised je­hadi out­fits as their vic­tory over ‘oc­cu­pa­tional’ forces. This in turn may spell trou­ble as far as the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Pak­istan and the proxy war sit­u­a­tion in J&K is con­cerned. It may fur­ther re­sult in a spill over of ter­ror net­work in J&K re­sult­ing in as spurt in in­fil­tra­tion at­tempts by bat­tle har­dened ter­ror­ists. This may also cause fur­ther in­sta­bil­ity in In­dia’s neigh­bour­ing coun­tries and thus re­quire a close watch on the fall­outs of same af­fect­ing In­dia. In­dia con­tin­ues to main­tain a com­bat edge dom­i­nat­ing its western bor­ders and will en­sure it neu­tralises any re­sult of the in­sta­bil­ity caused.

In ad­di­tion, the In­dian Army has de­ployed a dy­namic multi-tiered Counter In­fil­tra­tion Grid along the line of con­trol which is an ap­pro­pri­ate mix of troops de­ployed, surveil­lance de­vices, line of con­trol fence and aerial plat­forms. The trends of in­fil­tra­tion are mon­i­tored con­tin­u­ously and nec­es­sary changes in own de­ploy­ment and tac­tics are car­ried out when re­quired to com­bat any in­creased threat.

SP’s: Se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in J&K is at a crit­i­cal junc­ture. What is your as­sess­ment of the preva­lent se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in J&K? COAS:

Re­lent­less op­er­a­tions by the army on the line of con­trol and in the hin­ter­land along with other se­cu­rity forces have thwarted the de­signs of the Pak-ISI-sep­a­ratists-ter­ror­ists nexus to give fil­lip to the proxy war be­ing waged against In­dia. There is a need to con­sol­i­date gains to fur­ther sta­bilise the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion for which all en­ablers are de­vel­op­ment im­per­a­tive.

The army has as­sid­u­ously com­bated ter­ror­ism in the state through peo­ple-friendly op­er­a­tions and zero tol­er­ance for hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions. The In­dian Army has main­tained moral as­cen­dancy over the nexus both on the line of con­trol and in the hin­ter­land.

SP’s: In­dian Army’s ethos and val­ues have been a hall­mark for oth­ers, how­ever, re­cently there has been cer­tain in­ci­dents which have caused con­cerns. How are you ad­dress­ing this is­sue? COAS:

I be­lieve that as an in­sti­tu­tion, the In­dian Army has dis­tinct ethos and val­ues that place the Ser­vice be­fore Self. Our Na­tion First, Al­ways and Ev­ery Time has been our guid­ing prin­ci­ple and is re­flected in all our ac­tions. Our glo­ri­ous his­tory of val­our and courage re­mains a source of in­spi­ra­tion for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. The spirit of self­less sacrifice is in­grained in ev­ery sol­dier and he is will­ing to make the supreme sacrifice for ‘Naam, Na­mak aur Nishaan.’ Our sec­u­lar cul­ture, in­tegrity and ca­ma­raderie, team­work and a never say die at­ti­tude have helped us win the trust and faith of an en­tire na­tion.

Within the army work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, I have ar­tic­u­lated my thrust ar­eas which in­clude the strength­en­ing of our work cul­ture that hinges on pro­fes­sional ethos and up­holds our cher­ished core val­ues of in­tegrity, loy­alty, duty, re­spect, self­less ser­vice and hon­our. The morale of the army con­tin­ues to be high and the army con­tin­ues to main­tain its high state of preparedness. I am san­guine that the ethos and val­ues of all sol­diers of the army will im­prove fur­ther and the army will con­tinue to main­tain its im­mac­u­late state of dis­ci­pline.

SP’s: In­dian Army is un­der­go­ing ma­jor mod­erni­sa­tion drive. Com­ing to the in­fantry, the largest arm in the army, what mod­ern sys­tems, from the ri­fle to oth­ers, are needed, and what is the progress on var­i­ous fronts in­clud­ing F-INSAS? COAS:

Mod­erni­sa­tion of the in­fantry sol­dier is be­ing given pri­or­ity and nec­es­sary im­pe­tus. It is de­signed to en­hance an in­di­vid­ual sol­dier’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties in terms of in­creas­ing his weapon lethal­ity and at the same time pro­vid­ing him nec­es­sary pro­tec­tion for sur­viv­abil­ity in the lethal en­vi­ron­ment. His mo­bil­ity and con­nec­tiv­ity to ex­ploit a net­work-cen­tric sys­tem are also planned.

We have moved ahead from con­cept stage to ex­e­cu­tion. In this ini­tial phase pri­or­ity is be­ing ac­corded to weapon sys­tems and en­hanc­ing night vi­sion and bat­tle­field mo­bil­ity ca­pa­bil­i­ties. In light of the same, ad­e­quate im­pe­tus is be­ing im­parted to the ma­jor mod­erni­sa­tion do­mains which are as fol­lows:

Lethal­ity. The pro­cure­ment of weapons is simultaneously ad­dress­ing both the mod­erni­sa­tion and hol­low­ness fac­tors. The re­quire­ment to ad­dress the ex­ist­ing crit­i­cal voids in the en­vi­ron­ment is be­ing ac­corded max­i­mum im­pe­tus. The pro­cure­ment process of close quar­ter bat­tle car­bine, as­sault ri­fle and light ma­chine gun are in ad­vanced stage. Tar­get ac­qui­si­tion and sit­u­a­tional

aware­ness. Com­man­ders and de­tach­ment num­bers at var­i­ous lev­els in the In­dian Army need to be ef­fec­tively night en­abled. Due im­por­tance is there­fore given to equip the weapons with mix of im­age in­ten­si­fier and ther­mal imag­ing based night sights. The re­quest for pro­posal (RFP) for pro­cure­ment of im­age in­ten­si­fier sight for car­bine has been is­sued on Novem­ber 7, 2014.

Body ar­mour. The pro­cure­ment of bal­lis­tic hel­met and bul­let proof jacket is at an ad­vanced stage wherein both items are at trial stage. Thus it can be seen that all facets of mod­erni­sa­tion of the in­fantry sol­dier is be­ing given the high­est pri­or­ity and the nec­es­sary im­pe­tus.

SP

PHO­TO­GRAPH: IN­DIAN ARMY

Chief of the Army Staff Gen­eral Dal­bir Singh in con­ver­sa­tion with SP’s Land Forces Ed­i­tor-in-Chief Jayant Baranwal and Ed­i­tor Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd)

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