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

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) P.C. KA­TOCH The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

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

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