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 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.sps­

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

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