Agenda for the new Army Chief
When the top of the tree has been rotting for years, what is the point of watering the roots, and more importantly which Service Chief is supposed to raise these issues with a powerless HQ IDS and the the COSC a Committee, the naked truth being that a com
It is customary for articles to come up coinciding with change of command or new appointments, be they the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister or the Army Chief. But what really do you tell the new Army Chief who though still young at 59 years of age, has decades of army service under his belt in all type of situations; operations, field, no war no peace, peace, in command and all types of operational staff? What is it that he does not know or would not have planned for, knowing full he would eventually be the Chief? Would he not have his vision, agenda, objectives, focus areas and modalities worked out?
He has already warned adversaries that a befitting and immediate response will be given to any mischief. So, it would be perfunctory and futile to talk about modernisation of the army, making up critical deficiencies, improving officer-men relationship, stamping out corruption and sycophancy, bringing up image of the Army, pay and allowances, OROP, etc. Of course he must push hard to streamline the service bureaucracy that outweighs even that of Ministry of Defence (MoD); something not being addressed at all.
But now the Army Chief (as all Service Chiefs) has a unique opportunity in meeting the Prime Minister every month – in accordance with Prime Minister Modi’s directive. Whether, the Defence Minister and Defence Secretary are also present during such meetings is not material. The Chiefs therefore can convey issues directly to the PM, like: important one’s being: the need to integrate military in all decision making on matters military including strategy formulation – mere directive to MoD of seeking Services views not being enough; urgent need to review border control management and placing all sensitive areas (like Depsang and Chumar) directly under command the Army; the pitfalls of defining an LTIPP without a National Security Strategy and Comprehensive Defence Review; urgent need for an RMA under the PM/designated political authority (draft Act of Parliament to be worked out jointly by the three Services and introduced in winter session of Parliament), urgent need to induct serving military officers at all levels into MoD and in restructuring DRDO, DPSUs and OF; merging HQ IDS completely with MoD; lack of synergy within the three Services including, need to accelerate capacity building for NCW, with recommendations and a specified timeframe; establishment of Integrated Theatre Commands and Integrated Functional Commands without increasing manpower, as possible; immediate withdrawal of MoD/DESW appeals against pay and allowances of war widows, war wounded and disabled soldiers; establishment of credible deterrence against proxy war including pro-active covert employment of Special Forces, etc.
Undoubtedly, critics would cry blue murder – that many of these issues are not relevant to army alone. But, when the top of the tree has been rotting for years, what is the point of watering the roots, and more importantly which Service Chief is supposed to raise these issues with a powerless HQ IDS and the the COSC a committee (like all committees – this one a ploy of the bureaucrats), the naked truth being that a committee cannot manage defence of a country, and band aid cannot substitute surgery. Issues as above, need to be pressed home by ‘all’ Service Chiefs including the new Army Chief. The alternative approach available is three bags full; keep pushing cases to MoD and wait till the cows come home.
General Dalbir Singh took over as the Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army on July 31, 2014