SP's LandForces - - LEAD STORY -

De­fence an­a­lysts are busy de­mys­ti­fy­ing the de­fence bud­get pre­sented by the Fi­nance Min­is­ter in his bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion to the Par­lia­ment on Fe­bru­ary 1, 2017. We are us­ing the term Òde­mys­ti­fy­ingÓthe bud­get be­cause the gov­ern­ment func­tionar­ies take a vi­car­i­ous plea­sure to so po­si­tion the - one who wishes to an­a­lyse the de­fence bud­get has to go through de­rive any mean­ing­ful de­duc­tion. Per­haps this is the rea­son that our par­lia­men­tar­i­ans are un­able to dis­cuss the de­fence bud­get and the ex­pen­di­ture of ₹ 2,74,114 crore (ap­prox­i­mately $42 bil­lion) of the tax­pay­ers money. The to­tal de­fence bud­get of ₹ 2,74,114 crore is 1.63 per cent of the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) and 12.77 per cent of the Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture (CGE) with­out count­ing the de­fence pen­sion.

Not­with­stand­ing the above facts, this yearÕs de­fence bud­get is once again woe­fully in­ad­e­quate for the type of re­place­ments of weapons/mod­erni­sa­tion re­quired by the three Ser­vices. Cur­rently in this edi­to­rial we are con­cern­ing our­selves mainly with the ArmyÕs re­quire­ments. These range from the low­est cat­e­gory of weapons (per­sonal weapons) in the hi­er­ar­chy of weapons which is the as bat­tle car­bine to the crew served weapons such as the anti-tank guided mis­siles, ar­tillery how­itzers (towed, truck mounted and self-pro­pelled) air de­fence weap - siles and sur­face-to-air mis­siles).

Ob­so­les­cence of the weapons held by the army and the ex­ist­ing voids in in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cles and bat­tle tanks and the poor upgra­da­tion sta­tus is an on­go­ing story which is re­peated ev­ery year. Last but not the least is the ex­tremely poor state of which needs com­plete re­place­ment of nearly 200 ob­so­lete Cheeta and Chetak he­li­copters. The grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion can be gauged by the fact that even - ing these ma­chines had met the De­fence Min­is­ter to ex­press their fears and ap­pre­hen­sions re­gard­ing the safety of their hus­bands.

From time to time our Chiefs and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers re­mind us that they take pains to put the na­tion at ease by stat­ing that we are ready for all even­tu­al­i­ties. Should the peo­ple not be told the truth about our po­ten­tial to un­der­take de­fen­sive and of­fen­sive mil­i­tary opera- tions, with the ex­ist­ing high de­gree of ob­so­les­cence in our weaponry?

Many among us seem to feel that the re­gion be­ing nu­cle­arised we do not need to worry about con­ven­tional mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions. If that be so why are we still keep­ing such large armed forces which we can ill af­ford to main­tain. In fact a 40 di­vi­sion army, a 44 squadron air force and a 150 ship navy can­not be main­tained on 1.63 per cent of the GDP and thus main­te­nance and mod­erni­sa­tion of such a large force with this al­lo­ca­tion is not pos­si­ble.

On the other hand, there are other equally com­pe­tent mil­i­tary an­a­lysts who say that in view of un­re­solved bor­ders we not only need to look af­ter our western, north­ern and east­ern fron­tiers but we also need a sep­a­rate force to cater for in­sur­gen­cies, ter­ror­ism and proxy wars which would present a si­mul­ta­ne­ous chal­lenge and this im­plies not just two-front but two-and-a-half-front ca­pa­bil- ity. The lat­ter ca­pa­bil­ity (half-front) is for the asym­met­ric wars men­tioned above which would have to be fought si­mul­ta­ne­ously. So if the lat­ter are to be be­lieved then where do we stand to­day?

Our anal­y­sis is that as pres two-front war against our po­ten­tial ad­ver­saries. This should be of se­ri­ous con­cern for the gov­ern­ment. It is high time that the gov­ern­ment took a com­plete re­view of our de­fence ca­pa­bil­i­ties and cur­rent se­cu­rity doc­trines and take ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to pro­tect na­tional in­ter­ests.

Please visit SP Guide Publi­ca­tions at Hall AB (AB3.46) dur­ing Aero In­dia at Bengaluru from Fe­bru­ary 14-18, 2017.

Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd)

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