‘We can­not re­main de­pen­dent on im­port of weapons, equip­ment and am­mu­ni­tion. Ac­cord­ingly, we are max­imis­ing our ef­fort at in­di­geni­sa­tion through the ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive.’

On Jan­uary 10, 2017, a team of SP’s Land Forces com­pris­ing Jayant Baran­wal, Edi­tor-in-Chief, SP’s Land Forces, and Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd), in­ter­viewed Gen­eral Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Army Staff who can­didly spoke about the army’s re­sponses to the

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SP Guide Pub­li­ca­tions (SP’s): China’s eco­nomic rise, its stead­fast mil­i­tary mod­erni­sa­tion, its ag­gres­sive ac­tions in the dis­puted bor­der ar­eas and their nexus with Pak­istan has some co­gent lessons for In­dia. Mod­erni­sa­tion of the In­dian Armed Forces and ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing can­not be ig­nored any longer. As the COAS you have in many fo­rums clar­i­fied the type of threats and chal­lenges we are fac­ing, yet our mod­erni­sa­tion does not seem to be pick­ing up pace. What are your thrust ar­eas and how far have we pro­gressed in the Army? What is hold­ing us back? Chief of the Army Staff (COAS): We, as yet do not have a well de­fined bor­der in our North­ern Sec­tor, in Jammu & Kash­mir and in the Sir Creek area. Our ef­fort has re­mained fo­cussed along the Western Front, whilst the North­ern Sec­tor did not get the at­ten­tion it de­served. Our mod­erni­sa­tion ef­fort is now di­rected at en­sur­ing im­prove­ment of our sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­ity, ca­pac­ity build­ing and em­pow­er­ment of forces in the

North which is in­fantry cen­tric, with scope for em­ploy­ment of mech­a­nised forces in se­lected sec­tors. Devel­op­ment of in­fras­truc­ture to en­able ap­pli­ca­tion of forces in pri­or­ity ar­eas are be­ing given due im­pe­tus. Ca­pa­bil­ity and ca­pac­ity en­hance­ment in Rann of Kutch is be­ing ad­dressed si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

With this as the back drop, we have pri­ori­tised our fu­ture re­quire­ments, look­ing at newer gen­er­a­tion of weapons and sys­tems and car­ry­ing out up­grades in some of the ex­ist­ing ones, so as to en­sure ju­di­cious util­i­sa­tion of funds at our dis­posal. We can­not re­main de­pen­dent on im­port of weapons, equip­ment and am­mu­ni­tion. Ac­cord­ingly, we are max­imis­ing our ef­fort at in­di­geni­sa­tion through the ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive. We are will­ing to sup­port the in­dus­try through a process of ‘hand shak­ing’ and where nec­es­sary, re­visit GSQRs. In­dige­nous man­u­fac­ture of im­por­tant am­mu­ni­tion has also been ap­proved by MoD and we look for­ward to the in­dus­try grab­bing such emerg­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties at in­di­geni­sa­tion.

DPP-2016 has fur­ther con­trib­uted to­wards stream­lin­ing the pro­cure­ment process and is a good en­abler. Hic­cups if any in DPP-2016 are be­ing re­viewed, so as to re­duce time­lines and pro­ce­dures for pro­cure­ment. In ad­di­tion, the Govern­ment has del­e­gated en­hanced pow­ers to VCOAS for pro­cure­ment of crit­i­cal am­mu­ni­tion & spares. In the cur­rent 13th Plan, since April this year, we have con­cluded con­tracts rang­ing from Self Pro­pelled Guns, Ar­tillery of higher cal­i­bre, MRSAM, ALH with its am­mu­ni­tion, Digi­cora, Mines and Mine De­tec­tors, Elec­tronic Fuzes & TI sights which are aligned to the key thrust ar­eas. As­sault ri­fles for In­fantry and im­prove­ment in sur­veil­lance re­sources are be­ing pro­gressed on higher pri­or­ity. Im­prove­ment in our tech­no­log­i­cal thresh­old by co­or­di­na­tion of ef­fort with IITs and in­dus­try have been given im­pe­tus. Es­tab­lish­ment of Army De­sign Bu­reau (ADB) is also a step in this di­rec­tion. Cy­ber is one field where we have not kept pace with the emerg­ing chal­lenges. Whilst de­fen­sive mea­sures and fire walls are find­ing their way, other ca­pa­bil­i­ties need to be given the de­sired im­pe­tus. We have to bal­ance our force mod­erni­sa­tion re­quire­ments with the avail­abil­ity of funds. Fi­nan­cial pro­bity with aus­ter­ity in some peace­time ac­tiv­i­ties are be­ing en­sured to fa­cil­i­tate pro­cure­ment through the rev­enue route. Govern­ment is also be­ing ap­proached to make ad­di­tional funds avail­able for mod­erni­sa­tion.

SP’s: With the new De­fence Min­is­ter hav­ing taken over what are the pri­or­ity is­sues that the Army would like to bring to the no­tice of the Honourable Min­is­ter for early im­ple­men­ta­tion?

COAS:

The De­fence Min­is­ter fully un­der­stands our re­quire­ments and pri­or­i­ties and in­ter­acts with us on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Our main is­sues of con­cern in­clude pro­cure­ment of new weapon sys­tems and am­mu­ni­tion, ca­pa­bil­ity and in­fras­truc­ture devel­op­ment along our bor­ders, con­tin­ued fi­nan­cial sup­port for mod­erni­sa­tion and greater in­te­gra­tion and re­form in the Higher De­fence Or­gan­i­sa­tion. The is­sue of equiv­a­lence and sta­tus and some of the im­por­tant anom­alies in the 7th CPC have been pro­jected by the Chair­man COSC and the De­fence Min­is­ter has as­sured full sup­port for the is­sues raised.

SP’s: Mod­erni­sa­tion of small arms in the army is a long felt need. Have we made any progress in re­plac­ing the INSAS ri­fle, in­duc­tion of new car­bines, in­duc­tion of fourth-gen­er­a­tion ATGMs and equip­ping the in­fantry weapons with night sights? COAS:

We are seized of the is­sue of mod­erni­sa­tion of small arms in the Army es­pe­cially for In­fantry. We are work­ing to­wards en­hanc­ing the fire power and night en­able­ment of the In­fantry. The cases for re­place­ment of in-ser­vice INSAS ri­fles, in­duc­tion of new Car­bine and LMG are un­der process and are ad­vanc­ing in a fast tracked man­ner. Part of the de­lays in pro­cure­ment of mod­ern weapons for the in­fantry have been on qual­ity con­trol is­sues with our Ord­nance fac­to­ries, which have com­pelled us to con­sider im­port of these weapons. Govern­ment has ac­corded nec­es­sary ap­proval for im­port, whilst other small arms for Arms and Ser­vices other than In­fantry, we will con­tinue to rely on in-house ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

A fire and for­get ATGM with top at­tack day and night ca­pa­bil­ity is also in ad­vanced stages of pro­cure­ment to en­hance the an­ti­tank po­ten­tial of in­fantry.

To en­hance the night fight­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, a road map for night en­able­ment of In­dian Army is pro­gress­ing as per Em­pow­ered Com­mit­tee Di­rec­tions of Oc­to­ber 2013. Presently, case for pro­cure­ment of night sights for all types of in­fantry weapon sys­tems is un­der fi­nal­i­sa­tion.

SP’s: What is the sta­tus of long-post­poned 1999 Field Ar­tillery Ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion Plan (FARP), un­der which the Army had aimed to im­port, lo­cally de­velop, and li­cence-pro­duce around 3,000 x 155mm how­itzers of var­i­ous cat­e­gories. Could we have a broad up­date on this is­sue which has been se­lec­tively given by the me­dia from time to time. COAS:

155mm cal­i­bre guns have been made the stan­dard gun sys­tem for In­dian Ar­tillery. Ac­cord­ingly, ‘Ar­tillery Pro­file’ was con­ceived and pro­mul­gated with em­pha­sis on Medi­u­mi­sa­tion of Ar­tillery. Based on our op­er­a­tional ne­ces­sity, con­certed ef­fort has re­sulted in suc­cess­fully con­tract­ing ul­tra-light how­itzers from US Govern­ment and tracked (self pro­pelled) ar­tillery guns with L & T.

To give im­pe­tus to in­di­geni­sa­tion, ma­jor projects such as Dhanush gun sys­tem, de­signed and de­vel­oped by OFB and Ad­vance Towed Ar­tillery Gun Sys­tem (ATAGS) de­signed by DRDO in part­ner­ship with pri­vate in­dus­try are be­ing pur­sued with a sense of ur­gency. It will be fair to men­tion that FARP is mov­ing on track and we will in the next two to three years, have pro­gressed with the pro­pos­als, in a sat­is­fac­tory man­ner.

SP’s: With the Line of Con­trol (LC) con­tin­u­ing to be a live and ex­plo­sive bor­der, have we in­tro­duced any new sur­veil­lance and other de­vices which can de­tect move­ment of ter­ror­ists and serve as an ad­vance warn­ing for the army units de­ployed along the LC? What is our ap­proach to pre­vent the in­fil­tra­tion of ter­ror­ists across the LC? COAS:

The con­struc­tion of Anti In­fil­tra­tion Ob­sta­cle Sys­tem (AIOS) was a land­mark achievement in en­hanc­ing the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of un­der­tak­ing counter in­fil­tra­tion ops in J&K. The sys­tem over the years has ma­tured and un­der­gone mod­i­fi­ca­tion and upgra­da­tion. Con­comi­tant is the ap­pli­ca­tion of sur­veil­lance equip­ment in­clud­ing UAVs and quad/hexa copters which have been suit­ably net­worked and are in­stru­men­tal in en­hanc­ing and strength­en­ing real time re­sponse of units in con­duct of CI/CT opera-

tions. Wear­ing off and dam­age to AIOS due to ef­fects of in­clement weather and heavy snow is a re­cur­rent is­sue, which we deal with pe­ri­odic re­sus­ci­ta­tion.

Counter in­fil­tra­tion op­er­a­tions hinges on dy­namic troop de­ploy­ment with over­lap­ping en­velopes of sur­veil­lance and ad­e­quate re­serves to cater for con­tin­gen­cies. The tiered sys­tem pro­vides ac­tive fil­ters which is en­mesh­ing in­te­grated sur­veil­lance. The in­tent at ev­ery fil­ter is to elim­i­nate the in­fil­trat­ing ter­ror­ists, else act as an in­put for sub­se­quent fil­ters.

SP’s: The threat in the East­ern the­atre from China is in­creas­ing. When com­bined with the in­sur­gency in the the­atre the chal­lenges be­come more crit­i­cal. What is our ap­proach to ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing to counter this phe­nom­e­non in the East­ern the­atre? Has the ex­pan­sion of As­sam Ri­fles kept pace with the in­ter­nal threat?

COAS:

Our anal­y­sis of force lev­els of PLA are un­der con­tin­u­ous re­view. Any con­flict and ap­pli­ca­tion of mil­i­tary power will be con­tin­gent on many fac­tors im­por­tantly the geo-po­lit­i­cal and geo-eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment, di­plo­matic out­reach and fi­nally the politico-mil­i­tary aims.

Counter-in­sur­gency (CI) and coun­tert­er­ror­ism (CT) sit­u­a­tion in North East re­gion has al­ways been a fac­tor in our op­er­a­tional plan­ning. The dy­nam­ics of in­sur­gency is be­ing con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tored. Re­cent re­ports in­di­cate pres­ence of many out­fits who have ex­ter­nal sup­port. A host of mea­sures are al­ready in place which in­volves mul­ti­ple agen­cies to ad­dress mul­ti­far­i­ous is­sues of the restive re­gion. It is high­lighted that in­tense, in­tel­li­gence based counter in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions cou­pled with holis­tic ap­proach to chal­lenges in North East, has con­sid­er­ably sta­bi­lized the sit­u­a­tion. The in­sur­gency which ear­lier was seen as be­ing ide­o­log­i­cally driven has been su­per­seded by ex­tra­ne­ous con­sid­er­a­tions. The peo­ple at large want peace and are grad­u­ally dis­tanc­ing them­selves from in­sur­gent groups. The devel­op­ment with fo­cus on Govern­ment’s ‘Act East’ pol­icy is be­ing viewed by most as an av­enue for re­sources gen­er­a­tion and em­ploy­ment. In­ter­locu­tors are in­volved in en­gag­ing var­i­ous dis­si­dent groups to en­able them to join the main­stream. Di­plo­matic and mil­i­tary par­lays with Myan­mar have in­creased to deal with and deny sup­port to In­dian In­sur­gent Groups (IIGs).

As­sam Ri­fles are man­dated as a Bor­der Guard­ing (BG) Force; they con­tinue to work as fa­cil­i­ta­tors by pro­vid­ing in­ci­den­tal se­cu­rity for in­fras­truc­ture devel­op­ment, min­eral ex­plo­ration and devel­op­ment of com­mu­ni­ca­tion ar­ter­ies. Over the years, ad­di­tional Army and As­sam Ri­fles bat­tal­ions have been de­ployed along the In­dia-Myan­mar bor­der plug­ging gaps and bet­ter man­age­ment of CI/CT grid.

SP’s: Our abil­ity to fight at the unit level in a net cen­tric en­vi­ron­ment will de­pend on the Bat­tle Man­age­ment Sys­tem be­ing de­vel­oped un­der the aegis of the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral In­for­ma­tion Sys­tems. What is the progress in this field?

COAS:

Project Bat­tle Field Man­age­ment Sys­tem was con­ceived in or­der to bring Net­work Cen­tric War­fare ca­pa­bil­ity down to unit/ sub units. The project en­vis­ages en­hanc­ing sit­u­a­tional aware­ness for com­man­ders from sec­tion and equiv­a­lent lev­els upto unit com­man­ders by cre­at­ing a com­mon tac­ti­cal pic­ture that can be shared within the unit, higher HQ and with neigh­bour­ing units/ sub units through a se­cure, re­spon­sive and mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion me­dia.

Con­sor­tium of BEL with ROLTA and con­sor­tium of TATA Power SED with L&T, have been se­lected by MoD for devel­op­ment of pro­to­types un­der ‘Make’ cat­e­gory. The re­vised de­tailed project re­ports have been sub­mit­ted by devel­op­ment agen­cies and are un­der eval­u­a­tion. Direc­torate Gen­eral of In­for­ma­tion Sys­tems is go­ing through defin­ing mo­ments, to re­alise a field foot­print of au­to­ma­tion based on an in­cre­men­tal ap­proach. The in­ten­tion is to re­alise the net cen­tric­ity vi­sion through syn­er­gised im­ple­men­ta­tion of all in­for­ma­tion sys­tem projects.

SP’s: The sig­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the pla­toon and com­pany level in an in­fantry bat­tal­ion con­tinue to be un­sat­is­fac­tory. What is planned in this re­spect and when can we ex­pect the sit­u­a­tion to be rec­ti­fied? COAS:

For in­fantry bat­tal­ions de­ployed in CI/ CT in J&K, the sig­nif­i­cant aug­men­ta­tion of op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity has been achieved with the field­ing of Mo­bile Cellular Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Sys­tem (MCCS). The in­creased use of light weight, dig­i­tal ra­dio sets in VHF and HF band also pro­vides ma­jor ca­pa­bil­ity en­hance­ment.

Also we need to un­der­stand that sig­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions at pla­toon and com­pany level in an in­fantry bat­tal­ion dur­ing op­er­a­tions will be pri­mar­ily on ra­dio with line as the sec­ondary means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Lat­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy is be­ing lever­aged to up­grade com­mu­ni­ca­tion in com­bat zone. The im­prove­ment in con­nec­tiv­ity in ma­jor­ity of for­ward lo­cal­i­ties has been car­ried out with ex­ten­sion of Op­ti­cal Fi­bre Ca­ble (OFC)/Jelly Filled Ca­ble (JFC) suit­ably backed up by SATCOM ter­mi­nals, es­pe­cially for re­mote and in­hos­pitable ter­rain.

The case for equip­ping in­fantry sol­dier with state of the art Soft­ware De­fined Ra­dios (SDR) ca­pa­ble of op­er­at­ing at longer ranges and trans­mit data files is in progress. The aim is to sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion at unit level and be­low. It re­quires sub­stan­tial in­dige­nous devel­op­ment, es­pe­cially on se­cu­rity re­lated as­pects of wave­form and hard­ware devel­op­ment. The re­quest for in­for­ma­tion for SDR has re­cently been floated.

‘Our mod­erni­sa­tion ef­fort is now di­rected at en­sur­ing im­prove­ment of our sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­ity, ca­pac­ity build­ing and em­pow­er­ment of forces in the North which is in­fantry cen­tric, with scope for em­ploy­ment of mech­a­nised forces in se­lected sec­tors’

The full in­ter­view will be pub­lished in the SP’s Mil­i­tary Year­book 2018.

To watch the video, log on to: http://www. sp­s­land­forces.com/ex­perts-speak/?id=337 ‘Sen­ti­ments from a Gen­eral on the oc­ca­sion of In­dian Army Day’

PHO­TO­GRAPH: In­dian Army

Chief of the Army Staff Gen­eral Bipin Rawat

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