SP's LandForces - - MESSAGE / COVER STORY -

The se­cu­rity threats and chal­lenges fac­ing In­dia have in­creased enor­mously since the end of the Cold War in 1989 and break up of the erst­while Soviet Union two - ic rise of China, which the Chi­nese like to term as Peace­ful Rise of China. While the old ad­ver­sar­ial threats due to un­re­solved bor­ders re­main and have got ac­cen­tu­ated in re­cent times, new threats and chal­lenges like in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism, proxy war in Jammu and Kash­mir and home-grown in­sur­gen­cies have been added to the old in­ven­tory. Thus the In­dian mil­i­tary con­tin­ues to stress the need to pre­pare it­self for the full spec­trum of war­fare.

Un­for­tu­nately the past decade or so has eroded our pre­pared­ness and ca­pa­bil­i­ties due to the com­plete ne­glect of the mil­i­tary by an un­car­ing po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and a self-serv­ing bu­reau­cracy. Even mil­i­tary lead­er­ship has ac­qui­esced by not protest­ing strongly enough for po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to act. This has led to a sit­u­a­tion where the Army is re­quired to face the fu­ture chal­lenges and threats with grow­ing ob­so­les­cence in vir­tu­ally all arms of the Army, in­clud­ing ar­mour, ar­tillery, in­fantry, army air de­fence and army avi­a­tion. In­stead of ac­quir­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties for the fu­ture we are hard put to main­tain the cur­rent force lev­els. A dis­pas­sion­ate anal­y­sis would in­di­cate that the voids in equip­ment and mu­ni­tions in the Army and lack of mod­erni-sa­tion preludes the abil­ity to fight mod­ern wars against well pre­pared ad­ver­saries.

Un­for­tu­nately the In­dian mil­i­tary, at a time when the bud­gets are tight, also con­tin­ues to be be­sieged by a mind­set re­gard­ing the viability of con­ven­tional wars in the fu­ture de­spite the Kargil ex­pe­ri­ence in mid-1999 wherein they did not even cross the line of con­trol in Jammu and Kash­mir Later on, con­se­quent to the De­cem­ber 13, 2001, attack on the In­dian Par­lia­ment, Op­er­a­tion Parakram was launched wherein the en­tire In­dian mil­i­tary got de­ployed and pos­tured for a pos against Pak­istan.

How­ever, af­ter re­main­ing at the bor­ders for 10 months the forces pulled back. Se­nior mili opin­ion that state to state, all out wars are a phe­nom­e­non of the past and are least likely to oc­cur, are still stuck in the quag­mire of con­ceiv­ing and war-gam­ing sce­nar­ios of con­ven­tional wars as was done in the past. The only dif­fer­ence is that we now call such Wars.But the re­al­ity is that all the wars that In­dia has fought till date since in­de­pen­dence were Limited Wars and there­fore our think­ing and our con­cepts have not re­ally changed. This is also a re­sult of the lack of a na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy from which the na­tional mil­i­tary strat­egy would flow thus giv­ing us the guide­lines for equip­ping our­selves and for build­ing fu­ture ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Op­er­a­tionally the mil­i­tary in In­dia func­tions in a vac­uum with no worth­while in­puts from the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship.

The na­tion has re­cently an­nounced the rais­ing of a Moun­tain Strike Corps for the Eastern Theatre. How­ever, with­out ad­e­quate equip­ment and force mul­ti­pli­ers to en­sure its mo­bil­ity and fire­power in moun­tain­ous ter­rain in the fu­ture such an ex­er­cise is fu­tile. With large voids ex­ist­ing in the in­ven­tory of the Army how would rais­ing an­other large for­ma­tion help?

Our plan­ners need to se­ri­ously re-ex­am­ine and re­view the en­tire is­sue in light of the de­lays which keep oc­cur­ring with tire­some reg­u­lar­ity in our de­ci­sion mak­ing and pro­cure­ment sys­tem. More­over, the de­lays in pro­cure­ments will keep in­creas­ing the back­log and will force re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of our force lev­els and there­fore it would be pru­dent to carry out a holis­tic re­view of our re­quire­ments based on the avail­abil­ity of money for de­fence and if need be lower our aims and as­pi­ra­tions and ac­cept the ex­is­ten­tial re­al­ity.

This is­sue of SP’s Land Forces is fo­cused on mod­erni­sa­tion of the In­dian Army, and in­cludes ar­ti­cles on mil­i­tary he­li­copters, mod­erni­sa­tion of army air de­fence, Chi­naÕs devel­op­ment of high-altitude west­ern fron­tier, and the Is­lamic State Ð Self-styled Caliphate.

Lt Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Kapoor

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