The onset of the New Year witnessed the attack on the Pathankot airbase of the Indian Air Force, which has an area of about 800 hectares and a 24-km-long perimeter wall. The general laxity in protecting this forward airbase was evident. So was the perceived lack of command, control and coordination among different security agencies during the conduct of the operation. It is distressing to note that despite 25 years of facing proxy war launched by Pakistan on our western borders, our responses, organisational drills and procedures at national level and our combat equipment are still far from satisfactory.
Seven weeks later another operation was carried by three well armed terrorists from Pakistan in Pampore on the outskirts of Srinagar. While the Para Commandos of the Army killed the three and a commando jawan in the process. Both operations showed technology, surveillance devices, modern weapon systems and soldiers for want of better equipment and for this we must blame our senior military hierarchy who seem to have lost their will to stand up to their political leaders.
The latest talking point of military and strategic analysts is the defence budget 2016-17. The most intriguing part is the obviously deliberate omission of any mention of the defence budget in the Finance MinisterÕs 90 minutes presentation of the union budget in the Parliament. Whatever may be the reasons, what needs to be understood by all is that while old adversarial threats due to unresolved borders remain, new challenges like insurgencies and terrorism have emerged. If the armed forces have to prepare for the full spectrum of threat then the nation will have to set aside three to four per cent of GDP for defence services minus the defence pensions which do not contribute to capability development of the armed forces. We cannot expect a 40-division Army, a 42-squadron Air Force and 150-platform Navy, to be maintained and modernised by an allocation less than two per cent of the GDP.
Currently the Indian Army is - ventional wars of the 20th century, which are unlikely to occur. They also have the capability and the wars but with outdated technologies, methodologies and weapon systems which is taking a heavy toll of its soldiery. Thus we recommend: India should immediately institute a Strategic Defence and Security Review, comprising a wide ranging mandate given to this body of experts. They should indicate the type of operations that the armed forces should be prepared to respond to on the borders, in out of area operations, and internally and the type of overall capability that should be acquired by the armed forces. India should evolve and enact a National Security Strategy which should broadly indicate our interests and responses within the country, in the regional as well as in the global context. This will give broad indications to the military for their planning purposes. This issue of SP’s Land Forccarries articles on defence modernisation, and separate articles on artillery and air defence modernisation among others.
Lt General V.K. Kapoor (Retd)