Link­ing Force Siz­ing De­ci­sions to Fu­ture Ca­pa­bil­ity Out­comes

The re­cent ini­tia­tive by the Army Chief to right size and re­struc­ture the In­dian Army is an ex­i­gent and laud­able ini­tia­tive, writes Lt Gen­eral A.B. Shivane (Retd)

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The present ex­er­cise pre­sum­ably aims to ad­dress the force lev­els, or­gan­i­sa­tion struc­tures, ca­pa­bil­i­ties and re­lated short­falls of the In­dian Army with a view to op­ti­mally trans­form it, over a de­fined pe­riod, into an a lean, ag­ile, ver­sa­tile and tech­nol­ogy en­abled com­bined arms mod­u­lar force, ca­pa­ble of meet­ing cur­rent and fu­ture op­er­a­tional chal­lenges.

IN­DIAN ARMY IS THE third largest Army in the world. From 1948 to the present, it has grown ap­prox­i­mately 3.5 times to a strength of over 1.2 mil­lion. While this man­power es­ca­la­tion is due to the di­men­sion of ter­ri­to­rial threats and piv­otal role of ‘boots on the ground’, the size has be­come dis­pro­por­tion­ate to its shape in terms of sus­te­nance and mod­erni­sa­tion needs in the present fis­cal en­vi­ron­ment. The re­sult is the snow­balling ad­verse im­bal­ance between the 3 M’s: Money, Man­power and Ma­te­rial, cre­at­ing a cas­cad­ing crit­i­cal­ity for to­day and ca­pa­bil­ity voids for the fu­ture. In such an en­vi­ron­ment, find­ing ‘novel ways’ with ‘limited means’ to achieve ‘larger ends’ re­mains a chal­lenge.

The re­cent ini­tia­tive by the Army Chief to right size and re­struc­ture the In­dian Army is an ex­i­gent and laud­able ini­tia­tive. The present ex­er­cise pre­sum­ably aims to ad­dress the force lev­els, or­gan­i­sa­tion struc­tures, ca­pa­bil­i­ties and re­lated short­falls of the In­dian Army with a view to op­ti­mally trans­form it, over a de­fined pe­riod, into an a lean, ag­ile, ver­sa­tile and tech­nol­ogy en­abled com­bined arms mod­u­lar force, ca­pa­ble of meet­ing cur­rent and fu­ture op­er­a­tional chal­lenges. The spirit be­ing that quan­ti­ta­tive re­duc­tion will re­sult in com­men­su­rate qual­i­ta­tive ca­pa­bil­ity en­hance­ment in de­fined time­lines. How­ever, it is nei­ther new nor a unique ex­er­cise, hav­ing been cred­ited in the past by sev­eral such stud­ies on the sub­ject, which have ei­ther gath­ered dust or failed to achieve de­sired re­sults. The lessons are well known; de­nial of bud­getary sav­ings in rev­enue man­i­fest­ing in com­men­su­rate cap­i­tal en­hance­ment for new schemes, lack of own­er­ship to link re­source de­ci­sions to de­fined mod­erni­sa­tion out­comes, and ab­sence of gov­ern­men­tal sup­port ag­gra­vated by bu­reau­cratic hur­dles. Thus, the suc­cess of the present ex­er­cise will de­pend on a ‘com­pre­hen­sive, com­ple­men­tary and time­bound’ in­sti­tu­tion­alised ap­proach with politico-mil­i­tary har­mony.

Force Siz­ing & Mil­i­tary Trans­for­ma­tion

Ex­pan­sion and con­trac­tion are defin­ing force siz­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics of any vi­brant mod­ern mil­i­tary, driven by its pe­cu­liar strate­gic se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment and na­tional in­ter­ests. Right­siz­ing in this con­text is a proac­tive ap­proach to re­struc­ture and re­align its hu­man re­sources with strate­gic se­cu­rity goals and de­sired ca­pa­bil­i­ties. In con­trast to the more re­ac­tive or cost-cut­ting mea­sure of down­siz­ing, right­siz­ing is in­tended as a long-term move to en­hance ef­fi­cien­cies and fu­ture ca­pa­bil­i­ties to min­imise risks and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, based on the fu­ture se­cu­rity sce­nar­ios. The ob­jec­tive is to de­velop and field a cred­i­ble force that is af­ford­able, sus­tain­able, ver­sa­tile, tech­nol­ogy en­abled to de­ter and de­feat po­ten­tial ad­ver­saries, across the en­tire spec­trum of con­flict. Although fi­nan­cial im­bal­ance may be the driver for right siz­ing of the force, the aug­mented shape of the force, its en­hanced ca­pa­bil­i­ties and readi­ness re­flect the out­come.

Force siz­ing is thus a one sub­set of the macro trans­for­ma­tion process. An ef­fec­tive trans­for­ma­tion strat­egy in our con­text must tackle the fol­low­ing six is­sues: the “big­ger the bet­ter” syn­drome, the ab­sence of a strate­gic cul­ture ex­em­pli­fied by void of a na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy, the sus­te­nance and ca­pa­bil­i­ties voids, the im­bal­ance and lack of re­forms in the de­fence bud­get, bu­reau­cratic de­ci­sion-mak­ing ap­a­thy and risk averse­ness, and the ab­sence of joint­ness. Thus, to be sus­tain­able it must ad­dress all three crit­i­cal com­po­nents; trans­formed mil­i­tary cul­ture, trans­formed de­fence plan­ning process and trans­formed joint ser­vice ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Op­er­a­tional Right­siz­ing Im­per­a­tives and Chal­lenges

In­dia’s multi spec­trum se­cu­rity chal­lenges to­day, are fast out­pac­ing ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing process im­ping­ing upon our na­tional se­cu­rity. The ca­pa­bil­ity cum tech­nol­ogy gap between our ad­ver­saries; in par­tic­u­lar the north­ern borders is widen­ing, di­lut­ing our cred­i­ble de­ter­rence in the north and puni­tive de­ter­rence in the west. Dokhlam type ac­tions in our North­ern borders, Kargil type limited con­flicts and proxy war in Jammu and Kash­mir (J&K) are a man­i­fes­ta­tion of such ris­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties which would con­tinue in the fu­ture. Fur­ther, re­al­i­ties of our tur­bu­lent dis­puted borders and di­verse in­hos­pitable ter­rain, re­quir­ing a man­power-cen­tric de­ploy­ment of troops for bor­der de­fence and counter in­fil­tra­tion grid can­not be as­suaged. Bal­anc­ing the risks between present force re­quire­ments and fu­ture force vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties fur­ther com­pli­cates the equa­tion. In or­der to bridge this ca­pa­bil­ity gap, in­duc­tion of high tech­nol­ogy mil­i­tary sys­tems, force mul­ti­pli­ers, creation of req­ui­site in­fra­struc­ture and joint force ca­pa­bil­i­ties are re­quired to com­ple­ment the present force right­siz­ing and re­shap­ing ef­fort. Fur­ther, suc­cess in coun­ter­ing fu­ture threats will re­quire skil­ful in­te­gra­tion of the core com­pe­ten­cies of the three Ser­vices and their trans­for­ma­tion into an in­te­grated force struc­ture driven top down by politico - mil­i­tary synergy.

The de­fence bud­get a key en­abler and an in­di­ca­tor of the demon­strated will of the gov­ern­ment to achieve the de­sired ends, in­evitably ends up as the prime vil­lain. Given the prag­matic but limited na­ture of the de­fence bud­get, re­duc­ing rev­enue ex­penses and in­creas­ing cap­i­tal avail­abil­ity poses the big­gest hur­dle. The chal­lenge lies in ei­ther an ‘Army sized to Bud­get’ or a ‘Bud­get sized to the Army’. Given the In­dian en­vi­ron­ment, a prag­matic ap­proach would be a mean of both. The im­per­a­tive is thus to trans­form to a right sized force, ca­pa­ble of be­ing op­ti­mally equipped with mod­ern equip­ment and fully sus­tain­able within a re­al­is­tic bud­getary fore­cast, with­out di­lut­ing the man­dated ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Ideat­ing Right Siz­ing Out­comes De­liv­er­ables of Right­siz­ing De­ci­sions.

Doc­tri­nal out­come of right­siz­ing re­sult­ing in ca­pa­bil­ity en­hance­ment must man­i­fest in the abil­ity to de­fend two fronts with ca­pa­bil­ity to achieve war ob­jec­tive on the pri­mary front while deny­ing the en­emy vic­tory on the sec­ondary front and en­su­ing pos­i­tive con­trol on the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity fronts, if re­quired. This must be the strate­gic guid­ance of our op­er­a­tional phi­los­o­phy and force de­vel­op­ment strat­egy based on threats en­vis­aged and ca­pa­bil­i­ties de­sired. Some of the de­liv­er­ables of right siz­ing de­sired are:

Size and Shape of the Force. Right­siz­ing should man­i­fest in the abil­ity to op­ti­mise 1,50,000 to 2,00,000 per­son­nel of the present strength over the next five years to bal­ance quan­tity with qual­ity. Force op­ti­mi­sa­tion must re­shape the Army with a quan­tum jump in teeth-to­tail ra­tio, mod­erni­sa­tion im­pe­tus and joint op­er­a­tions cul­ture. There is a need to ad­dress or­gan­i­sa­tion in­er­tia in right­siz­ing static head­quar­ters com­menc­ing

“It is not the Big Armies that Win Bat­tles… …It is the Good Ones” —Field Mar­shal Mau­rice Comte de Saxe (1782)

‘Right siz­ing with­out Ca­pa­bil­ity Out­comes’ would be hap­haz­ard and bereft of de­sired or­gan­i­sa­tional and com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity out­comes. The suc­cess of the present ex­er­cise will thus not be just the de­ci­sions taken, but by link­ing them to the fu­ture shape and mod­erni­sa­tion out­comes of the In­dian Army

with Army HQ, prun­ing/re­ori­ent­ing field army head­quar­ters by re­mov­ing peace­time re­dun­dan­cies, du­pli­ca­tion and flab, as also adding teeth to com­bat ech­e­lons to fight and win fu­ture wars. This should also in­clude si­mul­ta­ne­ous op­ti­mi­sa­tion of bur­geon­ing civil man­power of Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) and mono­lithic civil es­tab­lish­ments paid out of the de­fence bud­get. This flab is pro­tected and kept in­vis­i­ble. A 10 per cent cut in all static head­quar­ters and a 5 per cent cut in di­vi­sional and above head­quar­ters flab is highly pos­si­ble. Dis­band­ment of in­ter­me­di­ate head­quar­ters has its own dy­nam­ics and needs greater de­lib­er­a­tion. Si­mul­ta­ne­ous re­forms in HR poli­cies and train­ing needs, also merit com­ple­men­tary ef­fort. Force Re­pro­fil­ing and Force Restructuring. The Army should mod­ify its struc­tures to achieve a ‘lean and mean’ pro­file, with the thrust to con­vert some ex­ist­ing struc­tures into ‘smarter’ tech­nol­ogy en­abled ones. Re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of in­fantry units to re­pro­file the fourth com­pany to an SF com­pany with an in­te­gral sniper pla­toon, mix of medium and light mech­a­nised forces with in­te­grated at­tack he­li­copters, multi-tier in­te­grated air de­fence sys­tems, re­pro­fil­ing se­lected ar­tillery units with long range pre­ci­sion fires, restructuring ex­ist­ing in­tel­li­gence staff to ISR and IW struc­tures and re­ori­ent­ing ad­di­tional sig­nal units to elec­tronic war­fare as­sets are some of the plau­si­ble de­liv­er­ables. Anal­y­sis of the fu­ture se­cu­rity sce­nario has also thrown up the need for a rapid re­ac­tion joint force re­quire­ment with en­hanced ver­ti­cal lift and am­phibi­ous forces ca­pa­bil­ity, be­sides joint force struc­tures for spe­cial forces, cy­ber and space war­fare.

Joint Force Ca­pa­bil­i­ties. ‘Build­ing Joint Ca­pa­bil­i­ties’ will be the key en­ablers in se­cur­ing In­dia’s se­cu­rity in­ter­ests and would be fun­da­men­tal to any fu­ture con­flict. It ne­ces­si­tates that our struc­tures, op­er­a­tional con­cepts, doc­trines, train­ing and ac­qui­si­tion pro­cesses for in­duc­tion of strate­gic force mul­ti­pli­ers are syn­chro­nised to op­ti­mise the ca­pa­bil­ity de­vel­op­ment strat­egy within the re­al­is­tic bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion. Syn­er­gi­sa­tion of op­er­a­tions through in­ter­op­er­abil­ity and in­ter­de­pen­dence would be the way for­ward.

Lo­gis­tic Trans­for­ma­tion. The fu­sion of lo­gis­tics, in­for­ma­tion and trans­porta­tion tech­nol­ogy to de­liver lo­gis­tics based on “just in time” and “just what’s needed” is es­sen­tial. Presently there are too many in­de­pen­dent lo­gis­tic en­ti­ties wag­ging their tails. Thus, an in­te­grated the­atre lo­gis­tics based on a re­spon­sive and mul­ti­lay­ered con­cept with bet­ter man­age­ment tools and au­to­ma­tion must be im­ple­mented to en­hance ef­fi­ciency as also pre­vent du­pli­ca­tion and plug in­ef­fi­cien­cies.

Bud­getary Re­bal­anc­ing. To be sus­tain­able and mod­ernised with de­sired op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties, the present force lev­els need to be op­ti­mised ini­tially to gen­er­ate a rev­enue: cap­i­tal ra­tio of 70:30 and fi­nally lead­ing to an ideal 60:40 ra­tio. The ra­tios will only mat­ter and make a dif­fer­ence pro­vided match­ing bud­getary sup­port is as­sured. The de­fence bud­get must be in­creased from cur­rent lev­els of all-time dip of 1.49 per cent of GDP other than pen­sions (for FY 2018-19) to closer of the world av­er­age of 2.5 per cent of GDP over the next five years. De­fence bud­getary re­forms must also be pur­sued in right earnest, com­ple­ment­ing the mil­i­tary trans­for­ma­tion ef­fort.

Tech­nol­ogy Em­pow­er­ment. Tech­nol­ogy is a key force mul­ti­plier, which must oc­cupy the cen­ter stage of right­siz­ing out­come, sup­ported by more spe­cial­ists, as com­pared to gen­er­al­ists. The present state of low tech­nol­ogy pro­file of 8:24:68 (state of art: cur­rent: vin­tage), against the de­sired 30:40:30 needs im­me­di­ate re­dres­sal. The four core ca­pa­bil­i­ties of a net­work cen­tric force and C5ISR which must man­i­fest are shared sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, de­ci­sion dom­i­nance, joint force syn­chro­ni­sa­tion, ra­pid­ity of force ap­pli­ca­tion and pre­ci­sion fires for favourable force ex­change ra­tios through in­for­ma­tion and in­te­gra­tive tech­nolo­gies.

Link­ing Right­siz­ing to Cal­i­brated Mod­erni­sa­tion Strat­egy Mod­erni­sa­tion Out­look.

Mod­erni­sa­tion pre­serves the Army’s core ca­pa­bil­ity to de­feat and de­ter ad­ver­saries through com­bat over­match, for the present and fu­ture con­flicts. Ac­cord­ingly, ‘Army Equip­ment Mod­erni­sa­tion Strat­egy’ must ad­dress the strate­gic, tech­no­log­i­cal and fis­cal en­vi­ron­ments and build our equip­ping pri­or­i­ties based on value, vul­ner­a­bil­ity and risks in tem­po­ral terms. To build and main­tain the de­sired ca­pa­bil­i­ties, we must fo­cus on af­ford­able, sus­tain­able, pri­ori­tised and cost ef­fec­tive mod­erni­sa­tion de­ci­sions which in­te­grate ma­ture tech­nolo­gies and in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments, while in­vest­ing in emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies for the fu­ture in a spi­ral ap­proach. Cal­i­brat­ing Mod­erni­sa­tion Strat­egy:

Ends, Ways and Means. Re­source avail­abil­ity can­not dic­tate the ends re­quired for the Army, but its cal­i­bra­tion de­fines both the ways and means to achieve those ends. The ends are de­fined as the ca­pac­ity and readi­ness to ac­com­plish com­bat over­match. The ways are to bal­ance needs with limited re­sources to ad­vance the most im­por­tant mod­erni­sa­tion projects and op­ti­mise com­bat readi­ness of the Army. The means are through a tiered mod­erni­sa­tion duly pri­or­i­tized, ju­di­ciously scaled and bal­anced with sus­te­nance needs. Thus, the art of the cal­i­brated mod­erni­sa­tion will be to bal­ance ca­pa­bil­ity, sus­tain­abil­ity, and readi­ness within the al­lo­cated re­sources to achieve the de­sired ends. The con­tours of such a strat­egy must en­tail:

Tiered mod­erni­sa­tion to en­hance ca­pa­bil­i­ties while mit­i­gat­ing the risks of low fund­ing avail­abil­ity. This ap­proach pri­ori­tises Mod­erni­sa­tion Level 1 (state-of-theart) of a smaller force which is at high risk and high readi­ness pri­or­ity, while en­sur­ing Mod­erni­sa­tion Level 2 (cur­rent) of the ma­jor­ity of the bal­ance force to up­grade when funds be­come avail­able. The Army must place first pri­or­ity on for­ma­tions most vul­ner­a­ble, that is, those fac­ing the great­est risk when em­ployed. Bridge tech­nol­ogy gaps and shorten ac­qui­si­tion time­lines with ma­ture/in ser­vice tech­nolo­gies ear­li­est, by way of prod­uct im­prove­ments in the short-term for which tech­nolo­gies change rapidly. Fol­lowed by sub sys­tem/sys­tem up­grades in the mid- term for which tech­nol­ogy changes more slowly and equip­ment re­place­ments in the long-term for which tech­nol­ogy changes even slower.

Pri­ori­tised mod­erni­sa­tion based on ac­qui­si­tions adding max­i­mum value to com­bat ef­fec­tive­ness, mit­i­gat­ing crit­i­cal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and ac­cept­ing cer­tain risks. Risk must be as­sessed in tem­po­ral terms and ac­cepted in cer­tain ar­eas to en­sure that the more crit­i­cal ar­eas are ad­dressed prior. Mod­erni­sa­tion de­ci­sions must be both af­ford­able and cost ef­fec­tive within the over­all bud­get to in­clude life cy­cle costs. The op­por­tu­nity cost of “over-spend­ing” to close a spe­cific high cost gap is that we will not be able to af­ford clos­ing sev­eral other gaps; thus, we must make cost in­formed de­ci­sions to man­age ‘best bang for the buck’.

The fis­cal re­quire­ments for mod­erni­sa­tion must be care­fully bal­anced against the fis­cal re­quire­ments nec­es­sary for sus­tain­ing the force at hand in its life cy­cle. Mod­erni­sa­tion and sus­te­nance are two sides of the same coin. Thus, stan­dard­i­s­a­tion and com­mon­al­ity of a fam­ily of plat­forms and in­ter­op­er­a­ble tech­nolo­gies will re­duce sus­te­nance cost with bet­ter in­ven­tory man­age­ment. Mod­erni­sa­tion foun­da­tion must be based on indige­nous ca­pa­bil­i­ties even if marginally lower, and where in­suf­fi­cient then based on a joint col­lab­o­ra­tion with an In­dian firm with levers in our hand. For­ma­tion and unit spe­cific equip­ping with sec­tor spe­cific force mul­ti­pli­ers as sec­tor stores, will pro­duce greater ef­fects rather than di­lut­ing equip­ping and dis- trib­ut­ing limited as­sets across the board with­out ma­jor pay­offs.

In an era of ef­fect based joint op­er­a­tions, in­ter­op­er­a­ble and syn­er­gised mod­erni­sa­tion strat­egy for joint force ca­pa­bil­i­ties is not only fi­nan­cially wise but op­er­a­tionally pru­dent.

Man­ag­ing Change and Tran­si­tion

Right­siz­ing is to do with hu­man re­sources in war, which are as­sets rather than li­a­bil­i­ties and thus the ap­proach must be de­lib­er­ate, project pos­i­tive en­ergy and must be seen as an op­por­tu­nity for im­prove­ment rather than a re­ac­tion to a threat or cri­sis. Pro­gres­sive right siz­ing and re­sul­tant qual­i­ta­tive force upgra­da­tion must be clearly ar­tic­u­lated in terms of ob­jec­tives, strate­gies and tim­ings, dis­sem­i­nated to the en­vi­ron­ment, in­ter­linked, and bal­anced on the same scale. To be seen as a bal­anced and fair strat­egy, it must also pro­vide equal at­ten­tion to and sup­port those who need to be re­aligned. Last but not the least, it must be­gin with small near term, doables, which when achieved, cre­ate mo­men­tum to­ward de­sired mid term and long term ob­jec­tives, rather than at­tack­ing right­siz­ing as a large, com­plex, dra­co­nian task.

To con­clude, ‘Right siz­ing with­out Ca­pa­bil­ity Out­comes’ would be hap­haz­ard and bereft of de­sired or­gan­i­sa­tional and com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity out­comes. The suc­cess of the present ex­er­cise will thus not be just the de­ci­sions taken, but by link­ing them to the fu­ture shape and mod­erni­sa­tion out­comes of the In­dian Army. The au­thor re­cently re­tired as Direc­tor Gen­eral, Mech­a­nised Forces, In­dian Army.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: MoD, In­dia

IL­LUS­TRA­TION: Anoop Ka­math

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