Army Chief dispels notion that India has defence capability gap with China
[ By Staff Correspondent ]
The Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh has emphatically stated that India is in the process of building its defence capability, without being border-specific, and it was in accordance with national security. Responding to a question by Jayant Baranwal, Editorin-Chief of SP Guide Publications, whether 1962 (when India-China went into a war) would be repeated, the Army Chief affirmed at the annual press conference that “there would not be a situation like 1962.” He said “No, it shall not happen again. It is a professional army and efforts have been taken to enhance its combat power. By no means I am speaking of any border... but of capabilities that will safeguard our national interests and which will enable the Indian Army to fulfil its constitutional obligation.” Jayant Baranwal (SP Guide Publications): How do you see the capability gap, if it is widening or not, of the Chinese and our army in terms of quality, if not in terms of numbers? Are we ensuring that we are not complacent on this front? General Bikram Singh (General): Let me answer your last part of the question first on being complacent. Let me state we are not complacent. We are moving ahead as per our road map. We are looking at all areas and we are creating capabilities and it is not border-specific. While creating this capability, there are gestation periods of two to three years, it cannot be done overnight. It takes minimum two to three years time. When you raise formations, it requires training of personnel. The capabilities we are creating, as far as our neighbours or borders are concerned... we are proceeding in a systematic manner... there is no complacency. The approval which has come for the Mountain Strike Corps is an indication of the kind of stance the government has taken in enhancing our combat power. There are delays and cost overruns and these are being addressed. The excerpts of the press conference are: In his opening statement, the Army Chief said that he had identified a vision, keeping in mind the ground realities and where the Army needs to go over the next five years. The vision was to enhance the operational effectiveness of the army, to ensure it remains a potent, accountable, disciplined and ready instrument of national power. Keeping this in mind, certain focus areas were identified as to ensure that the vision is accomplished.
First of course being operational readiness. The endeavour was
to ensure that we acquire capability, hone and augment our capability to be able to fulfil our constitutional obligations, both in the internal and external security dimensions. As far as the external security is concerned, we are in the process of augmentation of our combat power and we have got sanctions for the Mountain Strike Force, additional division that is being raised. We are in the process of converting our combat power into quick reaction force capability, the attack helicopters are with us. We have taken up a large-scale modernisation of our forces and we have systems or acquisitions to revitalise/revamp the same and within timelines. All stakeholders operate under the Vice Chief wherein various schemes are taken to the logical conclusion as per the stipulated timelines.
In the current financial year 17 contracts have been signed amounting to about 11,777 crore. We have another 23 contracts in the pipeline valued at about 12,000 crore and we are hoping that it would be signed this current financial year, taking the total contracts to 40, totalling about 24,000 crore. The endeavour is to enhance our capability of our acquisitions mechanism to 60 to 70 a year, from the present 40-50. Since our items are not big-ticket deals like the Air Force, the cash outflows would be 3,000-3,500 crore a year...it is an upward trend, marked by transparency, accountability.
Our focus is on force modernisation and augmentation of combat potential. We have a road map which has been sanctioned by the Defence Minister. The road map is pragmatic which is going to cost the exchequer 19,252 crore. This will be realised over a period of time. By 2015, we would have 50 per cent war wastage reserve (WWR) training and by 2018-19, making the entire 100 per cent WWR. There is a focused effort to enhancing the combat power in a pragmatic and systematic manner as per laid down timelines.
As regards human capital development the focus has been to address the aspirations of all ranks of officers, specifically women officers. We are looking at enhancing their opportunities, the avenues in the Army. We are strengthening our work culture, strengthening our secular fabric. They are the core values in terms of integrity, loyalty, duty, responsibility, selfless service, courage, etc.
We are enhancing security consciousness in our forces, ensuring cyber security aspects are looked into and is put into place. We are focusing on jointness of the armed forces. It is to optimise our com- bat power on the battlefield and is being looked into a focused manner. And also the welfare of exservicemen, valuable resource of ours.
Q. After signing of the agreement with China, has there been a decrease of Chinese incursions? General:
Somehow the incidents got hyped. Our soldiers are carrying out patrols to our perception of LaC... so also they have been patrolling according to their perception of LaC. Since October 2013, there is improvement in the situation. The agreement of 2013 hinges on the 1993 and 1996 agreements and the 2005 protocol. The Initiative is to engage at regional level. Engagement is very important and with this positive engagement, we create a better climate.
Q: There have been continuous ceasefire violations by Pakistan and the people in general feel that Indian Army has not taken adequate measures. What measures have been taken to counter the Pakistani aggression? General:
This assertion is not correct. We reserve the right to retaliate. We have given powers to the commanders to take action on the ground as they deem appropriate. It is a localised situation at the LoC and your soldiers, commanders have done well. The endeavour is not to escalate tensions, but to give appropriate response. If rules are broken, then obviously we cannot stick to rules. Action has been taken. We need to give the soldiers their due, they are in a difficult terrain and any ceasefire violation, it is a mini war, and the soldiers and commanders have responded well. If you can see the media reports in Pakistan wherein it mentions killing of nine of their soldiers, this is a credit to our soldiers. Soldiers are doing a stupendous job... suffice to tell you that the soldiers have reacted well.
Q: The beheading of our soldier has been making the rounds. Has the matter being raised with Pakistan? General:
We are authenticating the video. My humble request to the media is to keep in mind the sensitiveness of the family. A jawan gives his life in the cause of the nation. A soldier makes a non-negotiable commitment to the nation. Therefore gives his life for a cause. Let them perceive him as a hero... we show inhumane manner it has been done and this affects the family. The act is no doubt a barbaric, despicable act....
Q: The Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhusan has asked for a referendum in Kashmir Valley and Hafiz Sayid is asking for the Indian Army to leave Kashmir, what do you have to say? General:
As a matter of principle, I don’t comment on political statements. From a military perspective, we need to be there till the situation improves. Considering the ground situation, we will have to be present in the valley. It is a part of our national strategy. Jammu and Kashmir is our State and there is no doubt whatsoever. We are implementing national strategy. The army is doing the task accordingly.
Q: Is there enough capital for the Mountain Strike Force? Has the government provided assurance of financial support? General:
100 per cent. The proposal was taken up by the Cabinet Committee on Security. The Defence Minister has assured all budgetary support. I am hopeful that money will come. Ours is a long border, porous and high and difficult terrain. The Defence Minister has been monitoring regularly the expenditure... I have been promised every time money will be made available. It has not impacted capital acquisitions. For the complete report, log on to: www.spsmai.com
The Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral D.K. Joshi and the Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha laid wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti on the occasion of the Army Day 2014 in New Delhi
The President Pranab Mukherjee, the Vice President Mohd. Hamid Ansari, the Chairperson of National Advisory Council Sonia Gandhi and the Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh at the Army Day reception