The Defence Minister has recently announced the formation of an 11-member committee led by Lt General D.B. Shekatkar (Retd). This includes several well as civilian experts, who have been given three months to chalk out an action plan. The overall aim is to ensure IndiaÕs combat capabilities and potential are enhanced, with a better teeth-to-tail combat ratio, within budgetary constraints. It is reported that the committee will - fence Minister Manohar Parrikar once he returns from his May 2023 trip to Oman and UAE.
It is hoped that this would enable a certain amount of reduction in the overall number of personnel which in turn would allow savings of funds and manpower. This would facilitate new raisings such as the Mountain Strike Corps (MSC) whose necessity stands established but whose raising has been delayed. The MSC will impart offensive capability to the ground forces in the Eastern theatre across the line of actual control (LAC) against China which is not only considered vital for an offensive / counter-offensive capability in the East but it will also give the armed forces additional and intra theatre.
With the increasing revenue budget, due to increased strengths, and revised salaries and allowances from time to time, the availability of funds for modernisation of the armed forces especially the Army is declining every year. The burgeoning revenue, pension and salary bill is affecting the modernisation of the Services. A case in point is the pension bill which is a staggering ` 82,332 crore, about ` 12,000 year. The salary and pension and the revenue expenditure put together is more than the money available to buy new weapon systems this year. The Army with the maximum manpower is the worst sufferer and the rising trend in revenue expenditure is only likely to increase in the coming years.
No new weapon system has been inducted in the Army in the past three decades or so notwithstanding the introduction of some indigenous missile systems which are only usable in full-scale con - tion has become critical because of the past neglect. Today the Army requires replacement of virtually all types of weapons ranging from the infantry man Õ s assault ri air defence guns and missiles and Army aviation helicopters. We are at the Ô bottom of the pit Õ as far as is concerned.
While the Indian Navy is vital for the protection of our sea lines of communications and protection of our offshore and coastal assets and indeed for a host of other equally vital reasons, and the IAF for air defence of India and for providing the necessary deterrence to belligerent neighbours, it is the ground forces which have to invariably bear the brunt of any aggression small or big of our opponents across our land borders and even in the proxy war waged in our border regions. With disput line of control (LoC) with Pakistan in the West and LAC with China in the North and Northeast, the ground forces have to be ever vigilant and unfortunately it is the Army that is the most neglected service today as far as modernisation is concerned.
This year the defence budget is only 1.47 per cent of the GDP an ever decreasing percentage despite the Ô hollowness Õ in the three Services. We would not be exaggerating if we state that the status of the armed forces equip it was in 1962 vis-ˆ-vis our likely adversaries.
In view of the above the lead article in our current issue of SP’s
Land Forces is authored by a former Chief of Army Staff, General V.P. Malik and the subject is Ò Are Our Politicians Losing Interest in India Õs Defence? Ó Additionally we have also included the following articles in this issue: Night Vision Devices and Sighting Systems in Small Arms.
Lt General V.K. Kapoor (Retd)