SP's LandForces - - LEAD STORY - Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd)

On hear­ing the news on April 18, 2018, that the govern­ment had an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of a De­fence Plan­ning Com­mit­tee (DPC) un­der the chair­man­ship of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser (NSA), as a per­ma­nent body, which was in­tended to “fa­cil­i­tate a com­pre­hen­sive and in­te­grated plan­ning for de­fence mat­ters”— the old English proverb came to my mind “The tri­umph of hope over ex­pe­ri­ence”. At long last our po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship was wak­ing up to the com­plex­i­ties and re­al­i­ties of de­fence plan­ning. Was it recog­ni­tion of re­al­ity or an elec­tion expedient?

The com­mit­tee’s mem­bers are drawn from the high­est ech­e­lons of mil­i­tary and civil bu­reau­cra­cies in­clud­ing the three ser­vice chiefs (one of whom is the Chair­man Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee) the De­fence Sec­re­tary, For­eign Sec­re­tary, and Sec­re­tary (Ex­pen­di­ture) from the Min­istry of Fi­nance, with the Chief of Head­quar­ters In­te­grated De­fence Staff (HQ IDS) per­form­ing the task of mem­ber sec­re­tary.

In­te­grated and com­pre­hen­sive plan­ning are vi­tal as­pects that have eluded the In­dian de­fence plan­ning sys­tem which is used to plan­ning even for - talised man­ner with lit­tle or no in­puts from the govern­ment or any of its agen­cies. Within the three Ser­vices also, de­spite claims to the con­trary, this vi­tal as­pect is ab­sent even in strate­gic plan­ning oth­er­wise how can you ex­plain the non use of the In­dian Air Force (IAF) in 1962 War which could have turned the tide, and hes­i­tancy on part of the IAF in us­ing air power in sup­port of the ground troops in the ini­tial stages of the Kargil War in 1999, wherein the mat­ter had to be re­solved by the then Prime Min­is­ter Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee.

The chiefs of the armed forces are re­spon­si­ble for pre­pared­ness of their re­spec­tive Ser­vices for war in all re­spects but lack the equip them­selves for the min­i­mum pe­riod of time laid down for fu­ture - is­ter’s Op­er­a­tional Di­rec­tive to the Ser­vice Chiefs. This mis­match be­tween what we should have and what we ac­tu­ally have along with the gen­eral ne­glect of mat­ters mil­i­tary by the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship es­pe­cially over the past two decades or so along with an un­car­ing bu­reau­cracy who bear no ac­count­abil­ity has cre­ated such a sit­u­a­tion to­day that the terms of mu­ni­tions and equip­ment runs in thou­sands and thou­sands of crores which is not pos­si­ble to make up in a short pe­riod of time even if the re­sources were to be pro­vided to­day.

The ex­ist­ing gaps in the de­fence plan­ning mech­a­nism, which, for long had been ar­gued that th­ese would be over­come by cre­ation of a Chief of the De­fence of all re­quire­ments of the armed - ces­sive po­lit­i­cal dis­pen­sa­tions. More­over the ex­ist­ing sys­tem of HQ IDS-led plan­ning has not helped in pre­vent­ing the parochial in­ter­ests of var­i­ous stake­hold­ers has had an ad­verse im­pact of not only on how se­cu­rity threats were viewed but also on how scarce re­sources are dis­trib­uted among the Ser­vices. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, the ‘Make in In­dia’ pro­gramme has also not pro­gressed sat­is­fac­to­rily. In light of the above the es­tab­lish­ment of a De­fence Plan­ning Com­mit­tee is a pos­i­tive step in in­te­gra­tion of de­fence plan­ning and as­so­ci­ated mat­ters at the na­tional level. How­ever, there are var­i­ous short com­ings in its com­po­si­tion and the wide char­ter given to it which will emerge with the pas­sage of time as the DPC seems to have been pushed through in a hurry with­out ad­e­quate thought and de­lib­er­a­tion.

Main crit­i­cism of the DPC has been that it is yet another layer of bu­reau­cracy, which will do very lit­tle ex­cept pro­duce writ­ten pa­pers and briefs. The com­po­si­tion is such that the mem­bers who are very busy per­son­al­i­ties in their own de­part­ments, will have very lit­tle time for mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion and thus it will be left to the sub com­mit­tees to ex­am­ine and put up pro­pos­als/ briefs. More­over, the DPC will put up their rec­om­men­da­tions/ pro­pos­als to the De­fence Min­is­ter, thus prov­ing the view that it is another layer of bu­reau­cracy in the MoD.

This is­sue car­ries ar­ti­cles on De­fence Plan­ning Com­mit­tee, US Pulls out of the Nu­clear Deal, An anal­y­sis of Lowy In­sti­tute’s in­au­gu­ral ‘Asia Power In­dex’; among other.

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