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