Pri­or­ity Ar­eas for Army Mod­erni­sa­tion — The Cur­rent Sce­nario

It is high time that a Per­ma­nent Chair­man Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee (COSC)/Chief of De­fence Staff (CDS) is es­tab­lished as first among equals to pro­vide sin­gle point mil­i­tary ad­vice to the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and to pri­ori­tise the en­tire ca­pa­bil­ity build-


IN­DIAN ARMY AS IT moves through the first quar­ter of the 21st cen­tury is likely to face four types of chal­lenges/threats in­clud­ing tra­di­tional threats from China and Pak­istan, con­tem­po­rary threats in the form of ter­ror­ism (in­clud­ing home grown, state spon­sored and in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism), in­ter­nal chal­lenges in­clud­ing home-grown in­sur­gen­cies and contin­gency threats which may de­mand mil­i­tary ac­tion in the wider neigh­bour­hood. In essence In­dia faces a far greater threat than any other coun­try in the world be­cause of a highly volatile strate­gic neigh­bour­hood. How­ever in view of nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of the re­gion, in the in­terim, we are most likely to be called upon to fight low in­ten­sity con­flict op­er­a­tions that in­clude in­sur­gency/coun­terin­sur­gency op­er­a­tions, ter­ror­ism, proxy wars and lim­ited border wars. Full scale con­ven­tional con­flicts seem un­likely at present. Yet it is ev­i­dent that In­dia, given its size and ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion and the type of chal­lenges and threats that it faces, its armed forces have to be organised, equipped, trained and pre­pared to fight any type of a con­flict cov­er­ing the en­tire spec­trum of war rang­ing from low-in­ten­sity con­flicts to full-scale con­ven­tional wars un­der the nu­clear shadow. More­over with In­dia’s vi­brant eco­nomic growth, it would nat­u­rally have to as­sume ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity as a sta­bil­is­ing force in the re­gion. It is en­cour­ag­ing to note that In­dia’s se­cu­rity con­cerns have, for the first time, con­verged with in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity con­cerns which makes global com­mu­nity un­der­stand the need for In­dia to de­velop and mod­ernise its mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Chair­man COSC/CDS for Pri­ori­tis­ing De­fence Ex­pen­di­ture

De­fence of a na­tion and de­vel­op­ment are com­ple­men­tary. If In­dia wishes to se­cure it­self against the dan­gers loom­ing on the hori­zon

and wishes global recog­ni­tion as a strong and re­spon­si­ble na­tion who is ca­pa­ble of look­ing af­ter its own na­tional in­ter­ests, it has to mod­ernise its mil­i­tary to be pre­pared to fight fu­ture wars on dig­i­tal bat­tle­fields and con­front fu­ture chal­lenges whose con­tours presently are vague and un­cer­tain. There­fore the de­fence bud­gets must be re­flec­tive of the trans­for­ma­tion and mod­erni­sa­tion re­quired by the Ser­vices. How­ever, not with­stand­ing this as­pect, con­sid­er­ing the in­ad­e­quacy of de­fence bud­gets cur­rently, the army has to pri­ori­tise its mod­erni­sa­tion to achieve time bound ca­pa­bil­i­ties as per per­ceived threats and chal­lenges. This pri­ori­ti­sa­tion must also take into ac­count ca­pa­bil­i­ties be­ing ac­quired by the other two Ser­vices namely the In­dian Air force and the In­dian Navy. In view of these con­sid­er­a­tions it is high time that a per­ma­nent Chair­man Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee (COSC)/Chief of De­fence Staff (CDS) is es­tab­lished as first among equals, to pro­vide sin­gle point mil­i­tary ad­vice to the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and to pri­ori­tise the en­tire ca­pa­bil­ity build-up plan for the three ser­vices by ruth­lessly cut­ting down on du­pli­cate and over­lap­ping ca­pa­bil­i­ties and weaponry in­clud­ing su­per­flu­ous man­power, both civil­ian and mil­i­tary, and to en­sure ju­di­cious and timely ex­pen­di­ture of al­lo­cated funds.

In­dia is al­ready a re­gional/global eco­nomic power, and has as­pi­ra­tions of sit­ting on the high ta­ble in the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. This it­self man­dates that its mil­i­tary power must re­flect its abil­ity to pro­tect its na­tional in­ter­ests both within and out­side the coun­try. In this con­text, the trans­for­ma­tion of the In­dian mil­i­tary for the fu­ture, through tech­no­log­i­cal im­prove­ments and mod­erni­sa­tion cou­pled with new doc­trines and in­no­va­tive op­er­a­tional art should aim to give In­dia a dis- tinct ad­van­tage over its po­ten­tial ad­ver­saries, which is vi­tal for pre­serv­ing In­dia’s sovereignty and fur­ther­ing its na­tional in­ter­ests.

Doc­tri­nal In­te­gra­tion

In the ab­sence of a per­ma­nent COSC or a CDS, the pub­li­ca­tion of a Joint Air Land Bat­tle Doc­trine in the June 2010, by Head­quar­ters of In­te­grated De­fence Staff at best rep­re­sents a min­i­mal con­sen­sus be­tween the two Ser­vices in in­te­grat­ing air power with land power. It is be­lieved that an­other doc­u­ment of joint air­naval op­er­a­tions also ex­ists, how­ever what is miss­ing is a prag­matic joint ap­proach to warfight­ing by the three Ser­vices, a vi­tal ne­ces­sity for the fu­ture. A joint doc­trine dat­ing back to 2006 ex­ists; but the tran­quil­lity that fol­lowed and lack of ad­e­quate de­bate and the fact that ad­di­tional/sup­ple­men­tary doc­trines have been ne­ces­si­tated re­flects on the lack of cred­i­bil­ity of the 2006 pub­li­ca­tion. The scope for doc­tri­nal in­te­gra­tion in un­de­ni­able and would be among the high pri­or­ity tasks of the Chair­man COSC/CDS as when he is nom­i­nated. From the joint war-fight­ing doc­trine of the three Ser­vices must flow the short- and long-term perspective plans to en­sure that pri­or­ity is given to build­ing up those ca­pa­bil­i­ties that are re­quired early based on the ex­ist­ing and es­ti­mated threats and chal­lenges.

There is a need for un­der­stand­ing the re­quire­ment of a Joint Mil­i­tary Doc­trine. In this re­spect we can study the ex­pe­ri­ence gained by the US armed forces who have os­ten­si­bly achieved a high de­gree of joint­ness in plan­ning and executing such op­er­a­tions.

Joint Mil­i­tary Doc­trine of US Armed Forces: Def­i­ni­tion and Pur­pose

US Mil­i­tary de­scribe the pur­pose of joint doc­trine as: Joint doc­trine serves as a com­mon perspective.

It is an au­thor­i­ta­tive guid­ance for US forces.

It pro­vides fo­cus for sys­tems ap­pli­ca­tion and tech­nol­ogy.

It fun­da­men­tally shapes the way US armed forces plan, think and train for mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions.

The new (joint) op­er­a­tional con­cepts pro­vide the foun­da­tion for evo­lu­tion.

It is a crit­i­cal in­gre­di­ent for suc­cess be­cause the or­gan­i­sa­tional syn­er­gies to be gained from joint en­deav­ours would be as im­por­tant as the tech­nol­ogy used for fu­ture op­er­a­tions.

The def­i­ni­tion of joint doc­trine as given out by the US DOD (De­part­ment of De­fense) dic­tio­nary for mil­i­tary and as­so­ci­ated terms is “fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples that guide the em­ploy­ment of forces of two or more ser­vices in co­or­di­nated ac­tion to­wards a com­mon ob­jec­tive. It will be pro­mul­gated by the Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (in US con­text), in co­or­di­na­tion with the Com­bat­ant Com­mands, Ser­vices, and Joint Staff.” In a larger sense, it is a reser­voir or a pool of dis­tilled wis­dom gained from his­tory of warfight­ing, lessons learnt and the fac­tors con­sid­ered which went into los­ing or win­ning of a war. It as­sists the mil­i­tary com­man­ders in “how best to em­ploy the na­tional power.”

In­dian Con­text

lt also help us in de­sign­ing our fu­ture ca­pa­bil­i­ties and our long-term perspective and pro­cure­ment plans thus en­sur­ing that ca­pa­bil­i­ties re­quired are built-up in a timely man­ner and also avoid­ing waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture in du­pli­ca­tion and over­lap in our weapons pro­cure­ment. Our past ex­pe­ri­ence has been that each of our Ser­vice plans on its own and then asks the other Ser­vice for as­sis­tance but with­out con­sult­ing the other ser­vice dur­ing the plan­ning stage. The com­mon perspective is miss­ing. This type of plan­ning is dan­ger­ous for fu­ture con­flicts be­cause it would mean de­layed de­ci­sion mak­ing and de­layed ex­e­cu­tion.

One ex­am­ple of sin­gle ser­vice plan­ning is the Cold Start doc­trine of the army which en­vis­ages early launch of lim­ited of­fen­sives which are within the ca­pa­bil­ity of the pivot/ hold­ing corps of the army. How­ever, would the air force be in a po­si­tion to en­sure air su­pe­ri­or­ity in the sec­tor of early launch? The air force on the other hand sees a strate­gic

In­dia is al­ready a re­gional/ global eco­nomic power, and has as­pi­ra­tions of sit­ting on the high ta­ble in the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. This it­self man­dates that its mil­i­tary power must re­flect its abil­ity to pro­tect its na­tional in­ter­ests both within and out­side the coun­try.

role for it­self by want­ing to achieve air dom­i­nance in the en­tire re­gion through at­tri­tion of op­po­nents, as­sets first which would take con­sid­er­able time thus rel­e­gat­ing the sup­port to the land forces to a lower pri­or­ity in the be­gin­ning. On the other hand, the army feels that if it does not achieve its laid down ob­jec­tives across the border at the ear­li­est it would im­peril the en­tire mis­sion. These is­sues can be re­solved am­i­ca­bly when there is a su­per­vi­sory au­thor­ity on top, direct­ing the doc­trine to­wards a com­mon perspective for achiev­ing na­tional aims and ob­jec­tives and not par­al­lel wars for achiev­ing in­di­vid­ual ser­vice perspective which would amount to sub­op­ti­mal use of mil­i­tary/na­tional power. More­over, wars are na­tional ef­forts in which many agen­cies/es­tab­lish­ments would as­sist in the war ef­fort. It would start with the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship spell­ing out the po­lit­i­cal aims of war and thus po­lit­i­cal aims would re­quire to be con­verted to mil­i­tary aims and ob­jec­tives of war. This would en­tail co­or­di­na­tion of diplo­macy, in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions, psy­cho­log­i­cal op­er­a­tions, in­for­ma­tion op­er­a­tions and de­cep­tion op­er­a­tions with the mil­i­tary ef­fort. So our doc­trine must be holis­tic and not con­strained by a sin­gle ser­vice perspective.

Pri­or­ity Ar­eas for Mod­erni­sa­tion & Trans­for­ma­tion in the Army

Some pri­or­ity ar­eas for mod­erni­sa­tion, for re­form and for in­duc­tion of new tech­nolo­gies are:

Doc­tri­nal Changes. in the method of war-fight­ing ne­ces­si­tat­ing a new Joint War Fight­ing Doc­trine tai­lored to the In­dian con­di­tions.

Long Range Pre­ci­sion Fire­power.

– 155mm how­itzers, com­pris­ing the towed, mounted and self-pro­pelled va­ri­ety are re­quired to re­place the medium guns held at present in the field for­ma­tions (di­vi­sions) which are more than three to four decades old. In­duc­tion of 155mm how­itzers is at var­i­ous stages of in­dige­nous de­vel­op­ment and pro­cure­ment. – Gov­ern­ment has placed an in­dent on Ord­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) for pro­cure­ment of Qty. 114 155mm Dhanush ar­tillery guns.

– 155mm, M777, ul­tra light how­itzers (145) for the moun­tains is be­ing pro­cured from the US in a di­rect gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment deal. The deal has been fi­nalised by both the gov­ern­ments and the first two guns are ex­pected to ar­rive in the early part of 2017 so that the army can gen­er­ate its own range ta­bles based on In­dia am­mu­ni­tion that it is go­ing to fire ul­ti­mately. The deal has an im­por­tant ‘Make in In­dia’ com­po­nent with Mahin­dra ex­pected to bag a share of the con­tract. Un­der the terms of the let­ter of of­fer and ac­cep­tance (LOA) signed with the US Gov­ern­ment for sup­ply of 145 ULH, 25 guns will be in­ducted in fully formed con­di­tion and the bal­ance 120 guns will be as­sem­bled in In­dia.

Fu­ture In­fantry Sol­dier as a Sys­tem (F-INSAS). This was ini­ti­ated to make the in­fantry­man a weapon plat­form with sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, in­creased lethal­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity in the digi­tised bat­tle­field. F-INSAS was to be ef­fected in three phases: Phase I in­cluded weapons, body ar­mour, cloth­ing and in­di­vid­ual equip­ment; Phase II com­prised the tar­get ac­qui­si­tion sys­tem and Phase III com­prised the com­puter sub­sys­tem, ra­dio sub­sys­tem, soft­ware and soft­ware in­te­gra­tion. None has been achieved so far. In fact the project has not even started and the in­fantry mod­erni­sa­tion is in a pa­thetic state and even the first phase has not been com­pleted. Spe­cial Forces (SF).

– They con­duct spe­cial op­er­a­tions as they are trained and im­parted spe­cial skills to con­duct such op­er­a­tions. Such op­er­a­tions are usu­ally small scale, covert or overt op­er­a­tions of the un­ortho­dox and fre­quently high-risk na­ture, un­der­taken to achieve sig­nif­i­cant po­lit­i­cal or mil­i­tary ob­jec­tives in sup­port of na­tional pol­icy.

– In the fu­ture they would be the most ap­pro­pri­ate in­stru­ment for wield­ing force se­lec­tively and dis­crim­i­nately to achieve op­er­a­tional and strate­gic (po­lit­i­cal) aims of a con­flict with least amount of col­lat­eral dam­age. – Or­gan­i­sa­tion of a Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand would in­crease In­dia’s strate­gic flex­i­bil­ity and op­tions for deal­ing with fu­ture set­tings. – Spe­cialised weaponry for the SF must

be pro­cured on pri­or­ity. Re­place­ment of cur­rent fleet of light ob­ser­va­tion and util­ity he­li­copters.

– A 6,800-crore project to man­u­fac­ture 200 Kamov Ka-226T he­li­copters has not picked up mo­men­tum and the project is yet to kick off while the pi­lots and pas­sen­gers of the old Chee­tah and Chetak are meet­ing with ac­ci­dents fre­quently due to the ob­so­les­cence of these ma­chines. This is well known to the gov­ern­ment which needs to be more dy­namic in this sphere of mod­erni­sa­tion.

– The army is also look­ing at in­duct­ing at­tack/armed he­li­copters. How­ever, a ma­jor short­com­ing with the Ru­dra, the cur­rent armed he­li­copter and the un­der de­vel­op­ment light com­bat he­li­copter (LCH), is that in their cur­rent con­fig­u­ra­tion they do not have a suit­able anti-tank guided mis­sile (ATGM), the main weapon sys­tem of an at­tack/armed he­li­copter. The air ver­sion of the indigenously de­vel­oped Nag ATGM, the Helina be­ing de­vel­oped by the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) is not likely to be ready in the near fu­ture leav­ing a crit­i­cal void in the op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity of these two he­li­copters. As an in­terim mea­sure the MoD had cleared the fit­ment of three ini­tial Ru­dra units with an ATGM ex im­port. Ac­cord­ingly tri­als were con­ducted and com­pleted about three years back but noth­ing seems to have come of it — in con­tention were the PARS 3 of MBDA France and Spike of Is­rael. This is­sue needs to be ad­dressed on pri­or­ity. Up­grad­ing of T-72 tanks. These tanks presently con­sti­tute the main­stay of In­dian ar­mour. They need to have new up­raded en­gines, bet­ter pro­tec­tion, in­te­grated fire con­trol sys­tems with night­fight­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Fu­ture In­fantry Com­bat Ve­hi­cles. A project to build 2,600 fu­ture in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cles (FICV) cost­ing ap­prox­i­mately ₹ 60,000 crore has been ap­proved by the gov­ern­ment. The 22/24-tonne FICV will be indigenously de­signed and man­u­fac­tured. Among oth­ers, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), the Mahin­dras and the Tatas have shown in­ter­est.

Air de­fence guns and mis­siles. The guns and mis­siles cur­rently held by the army are ob­so­les­cent. Kvadrat (medium-range) and OSA-AK (short­range) ground-to-air mis­siles are at the end of their life-cy­cle. They were to be re­placed by Akash and Tr­ishul sur­faceto-air (SAM) mis­siles. Tr­ishul has been fore­closed and Akash is be­ing in­ducted for static and semi-mo­bile roles. For air de­fence of mech­a­nised units, it has been planned to ac­quire medium-range SAM (MRSAM) and quick re­ac­tion SAM (QRSAM) sys­tems. How­ever, none of the projects has started.

Night-fight­ing Ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

– These are to­tally lack­ing on the in­fantry weapons held cur­rently. All fu­ture pro­cure­ments and those en­vis­aged through ‘Make in In­dia’ projects must look into the night-fight­ing ca­pa­bil­ity of in­fantry sol­diers and SF per­son­nel who will oth­er­wise be se­verely hand­i­capped for op­er­a­tions by night. The cur­rent sta­tus is op­er­a­tionally un­ac­cept­able.

– T-72 tanks, the main­stay of the ar­mour in the army have now started get­ting mod­i­fied with ther­mal imag­ing night sights in­te­grated with the new fire con­trol sys­tems pro­cured from El­bit of Is­rael. The process needs to be has­tened. T-90 are al­ready fit­ted with in­te­grated fire con­trol sys­tems with ther­mal sights. Ar­jun Mk II must be kit­ted sim­i­larly.

CIDSS. or Com­mand In­for­ma­tion and De­ci­sion Sup­port Sys­tem (CIDSS) is in ef­fect the hub of Tac­ti­cal C3I Sys­tems (tac­ti­cal com­mand, con­trol, com­put­ers and in­tel­li­gence sys­tem) and is the most im­por­tant com­po­nent lo­cated at the Head­quar­ters. This sys­tem will com­prise all sen­sor and shooter sys­tems at each level of hi­er­ar­chy which will be con­nected to it. The ma­jor sub­sys­tems which will get con­nected as and when they are com­pleted are:

– Ar­tillery Com­bat Com­mand and Con­trol Sys­tem (ACCCS). for au­to­ma­tion of all ar­tillery tasks in the field which in­cludes prepa­ra­tion and ex­e­cu­tion of fire plans, di­rec­tion, con­trol and cor­rec­tion of fire, and func­tions at the ar­tillery com­mand post and at the gun end. This sys­tem has been fielded and has been in­tro­duced in a large num­ber of for­ma­tions al­ready.

Tac­ti­cal Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Sys­tem

(TCS). is a vi­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion link which will con­nect the corps head­quar­ters for­ward to the bat­tal­ion head­quar­ters and will have the abil­ity to reach down to sub­units also. Thus the Tac­ti­cal C3I sys­tem will ride on the tac­ti­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem. TCS is a ‘Make in In­dia’ project that has been given to a con­sor­tium of L&T and Tata Power who have sub­mit­ted the draft project re­port which is cur­rently be­ing con­sid­ered. In the in­terim the TCS will rely on satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and up­graded AREN com­mu­ni­ca­tions which rely on ra­dio re­lay equip­ment and other modes of com­mu­ni­ca­tions which will al­low for static and mo­bile op­er­a­tions. Bat­tle Man­age­ment Sys­tem (BMS). The im­por­tant link for­ward of the TCS will be the BMS which is be­ing de­signed to op­er­ate at the unit level and be­low and will syn­the­sise the bat­tle pic­ture for the unit commander whether it be an in­fantry unit or an ar­moured reg­i­ment. Tanks and se­lected in­fantry­men will be­come sit­u­a­tional aware­ness plat­forms. This project has been al­lo­cated to two con­sor­tiums. L&T and Tata Power is one of them and Rolta and the Bharat Elec­tron­ics Lim­ited (BEL) is the sec­ond one. BMS is in a more ad­vanced stage of de­vel­op­ment and the gov­ern­ment is fund­ing the pro­duc­tion of the pro­to­type to the ex­tent of 80 per cent. This project is be­ing pushed at a faster rate as this con­sti­tutes the cut­ting-edge of the army’s CIDSS pro­gramme. F-INSAS, which is a part of this project, is be­ing pro­gressed by the In­fantry Direc­torate but will be a part of the over­all BMS.

BSS. Bat­tle­field Sur­veil­lance Sys­tem will in­te­grate all sur­veil­lance re­sources of the army, in­clud­ing, radars, UAVs, elec­tro-op­ti­cal sys­tems, pho­to­graphic and vis­ual sys­tems to pro­vide a co­her­ent pic­ture to the commander. This project is in the test bed stage cur­rently. AD C&R. Air De­fence Con­trol and Re­port­ing Sys­tem will au­to­mate the de­tec­tion, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, des­ig­na­tion and de­struc­tion tasks of the Army Air De­fence Ar­tillery. This project is called Akash Tir and is cur­rently un­der­way as a ‘Make in In­dia’ project by BEL. The project is in the test bed stage of de­vel­op­ment.

The work on the Army’s CIDSS and many of its projects had started few decades ago. How­ever, a fresh im­pe­tus needs to be in­jected into the above projects. We could seek the ex­pe­ri­ence of the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and the com­bined ef­fects of digi­ti­sa­tion of the bat­tle­field with the stand-off, multi-spec­tral sen­sors that give sit­u­a­tional aware­ness about en­emy and own troops. This will lend greater clar­ity to our ca­pa­bil­ity and equip­ment de­vel­op­ment in this field.


The over­all progress of mod­erni­sa­tion in the army is ex­tremely slow de­spite some dy­namism shown by the present De­fence Min­is­ter. Con­sid­er­ing the chal­lenges and threats posed to In­dia presently and more so in the fu­ture, the ne­ces­sity of has­ten­ing the process of mod­erni­sa­tion through in­creased bud­gets and dy­namic poli­cies is vi­tal. More­over the need for es­tab­lish­ing a seam­less digi­tised com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work within the army which is ca­pa­ble of pick­ing up in­for­ma­tion from the sen­sors de­ployed in the bat­tlespace and pass­ing it on a need-to­know ba­sis to all con­cerned com­man­ders in the field, is crit­i­cal to suc­cess­ful con­duct of net­work-cen­tric op­er­a­tions in the fu­ture.

T-72 tanks have now started get­ting mod­i­fied with ther­mal imag­ing night sights in­te­grated with the new fire con­trol sys­tems

Ka-226T light multi-role he­li­copter

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