During his address to the Combined Commanders’ Conference on October 17, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stated, “Beyond the immediate, we are facing a future where security challenges will be less predictable; situations will evolve and change swiftly; and, technological changes will make responses more difficult to keep pace with. The threats may be known, but the enemy may be invisible. Dominance of cyberspace will become increasingly important. Control of space may become as critical as that of land, air and sea. Full-scale wars may become rare, but force will remain an instrument of deterrence and influencing behaviour; and the durations of conflict will be shorter.”
Equally importantly, he added, “We should remember that what matters is the capability of the force. When we speak of Digital India, we would also like to see a ‘Digital Armed Force’” also asking the defence forces to give serious thought to upgrade technological skills for effective power projection at all levels. By mentioning the invisible enemy, the Prime Minister was obviously referring to the growing threat of terrorism and insurgency that India is facing, which includes refocusing of Al Qaeda to South Asia, entry of ISIS in Af-Pak region-Maldives and the enhanced terror threat from our neighbourhood; Bangladeshi links to Burdwan blasts, Sri Lankan radicals undertaking surveillance spying in South India and the like. The Prime Minister’s emphasis on a Digital India and Digitised Armed Force was in context of the need to sharing of information.
In the above context, the joint FICCI-SP Guide Publications seminar on ‘Digitisation of the Battlefield’ held on October 27, 2014, at the FICCI House was a special one. Many such seminars have been held in the past but this time it was in the backdrop of the Prime Minister’s emphasis on optimising technology, his call for a Digital India and Digitised Armed Force, and above all his call from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15 for “Make in India, Sell Anywhere” which has resulted in the opening of up of the defence- industrial complex to the private sector including foreign firms and investors. A day prior to the seminar, media reported the welcome news that in August this year the Cabinet had also approved FDI in defence sector beyond 49 per cent for state-of-the art defence manufacturing. This would jettison bridging the technological voids. Government has also liberalised licensing besides measures like government bearing 80 per cent costs for developing prototypes for Army’s battlefield management system (BMS) will help digitisation of the military. In his address to the Combined Commander’ Conference the Prime Minister also called upon the defence establishment to reform procurement processes including corrective measures to avoid delays in domestic development and production of defence equipment. Streamlining the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) will be a vital step in leapfrogging technology through joint ventures and transfer of technology. The FICCI-SP Guide Publications seminar comprised three sessions; one each on ‘Battlefield Milieu at the Cutting Edge’, ‘Enabling Network Centric Technologies’ and ‘Information Assurance: Vulnerabilities and Solutions’. The culmination was a CEOs’ Panel Discussion prominently represented by senior executives/board members of Defence & Aerospace, L&T Heavy Engineering, FICCI Defence Committee and Sub-Committee on Indian Defence SME, Tata Power SED, Precision Electronics Ltd and Rhode & Schwarz India Pvt Ltd.
Session I had presentations on: Technical Constraints at the Cutting Edge; Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) – New Era Warfare; Converged Communications for BMS, and; Role of Private Industry in the TBA. Presentation by DRDO representative covered the challenges in developing SDRs, cognitive radios, satellite terminals and space-based sensors. The presentation on EMP covered threats, challenges and protective measures. The EMP threat is one of a few potentially catastrophic threats. Though measures are expensive, by taking action, the EMP threat can be reduced to manageable levels. A national strategy needs to be evolved to address the EMP threat and to balance prevention, preparation, protection, and recovery.
The hallmark of the presentation of the Converged Communications for BMS was the innovations required at the indigenous end for ‘Make India’, comprising: integrating the platform, both for the vehicle and the soldier; multi-blade, multi-component chassis hosting services; form factors PCI/PC104/others for the end points; mall form factor computers at the battalion and company HQs for the tactical compute, wide area application services, AAA/ISE, SRE to host indigenous security services; wearable computer as the platform to host software components (Router, IPICS, Jabber, Security/ VPN; adaptive (Tactical) protocols integration; ruggedisation; integration of OEM/foreign platforms with C3I application (open interfaces provided OEM/foreign vendor); security and hardening, and; Leveraging software to indigenise and control the network. Presentation on the role of Indian industry in the TBA covered characteristics of TBA including fifth-generation war, communications in the TBA as well as areas of engagement in the TBA. Issues elaborated were industry development of TCS, BMS, combat net radios, SDRs, mobile ad hoc network, cellular technology, Tetra, rugged network and computing, and GIS.
Session II had presentations on: Compressing the OODA Loop, Blue Force Tracking & Situational Awareness, BMS as edge of Counter Terrorism, Tactical Lightweight GIS, and Soldier Applications. The presentation on compressing the OODA loop was comprehensively made by the ADG IS of Indian Army. The presentation on blue force tracking (BFT) & situational awareness (SA) covered the requirements for BFT, SA functionality, data flow for both, sensor inputs, challenges in acquisition, fusion, communications and consumption, finally surmising that BFT and SA is an integrated solution looking into: sensor integration (pre-processing and networking); distributed, heterogeneous and energy efficient data fusion engine; communication solution which understands BFT & SA requirements; “Communication Middleware” solution to effectively handle SA data, and; Tactical GIS for real time and local algorithm execution. The highlight of the session was the presentation on use of BMS by an Israeli Defence Forces army veteran who also showed live video clips of conflict situations with Hamas terrorists during 2009 and 2014. This included identifying terrorists entering tunnels and accurately targeting the openings of these tunnels. The presentation of the light weight GIS brought out that the weight of the GIS was reduced by putting some functionalities in the cloud. Of course the security of data in the cloud has been under debate for many years. As part of soldier applications the representative from Honeywell gave a presentation on enhancing situational awareness. The interesting part was the Dead Reckoning Module that can be used in case the GPS goes out of range. The Osprey terminal, its viewpoint application, screenshot through the inmarsat satellite network was also explained.
Session III presentations comprised of: Critical Info Assurance Requirements in TBA: Cyber Warfare, and; Management of the Electromagnetic Battlespace. There was considerable interest with the importance and application cyber warfare having gone up in recent years. The taxonomy of cyber attacks based on the dimensions of the attack vector, attack target, vulnerabilities and exploits, and possibility of a payload or effect beyond itself were discussed along with steps required for critical infrastructure in India, and the imponderables like: is cyber warfare just a hype or is it a grave threat to the national security; can cyber warfare win a war on its own; what is the threshold after which an attack can be termed as a cyber war, and; what international treaties are available to protect India against cyber war. The presentation on electromagnetic battlespace operations covered dimensions and characteristics of the electromagnetic
battlespace, the problems and solutions, simulation and its constraints, concepts in vogue, and procedures and tools for managing the electromagnetic battlespace.
All in all, the seminar was an apt boost and well timed with the Make in India concept taking off, the panel discussion by the CEOs focusing on the nuances of it. For a digitised military, the issues that need to be accelerated are integrating the three services; development of common standard protocols, common security algorithm, common GIS etc whereas intra-army the BSS, CIDSS and BMS need to be given the push. We are also horribly behind in terms of mapping both by the Survey of India and Military Survey. The thrust towards developing comprehensive joint services ‘Systems of Systems’ approach must be specific. A dedicated defence band from the spectrum is needed considering the security requirements. The government should appoint a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) with full operational powers without further delay. The political hierarchy should make jointness a top priority.
While the Prime Minister has called for a digitised military, the threats that India faces requires a national response. To this end, the security sector per se, especially the fighting elements, need to be fully digitised and integrated. This would include all the PMF and CAPF forces involved in counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency and border security, in addition to the military. We need information dominance under these circumstances at all levels of conflict. We must have the ability to not only see the enemy well before he sees us but take him out earliest. In looking for optimising technology, we should be looking at building capacities like identifying infiltration through dense foliage by air and ability to take out that threat through armed drones. Similar ability is needed for counter-terrorism which also threatens the backyard of our border security. Success in com- bat depends greatly upon fused, tailored intelligence which is communicated securely and rapidly. Speed is a critical component. The critical elements of sensor grids and engagement grids are hosted by a high-quality information backplane. These are supported by valueadding command and control processes many of which need to be automated to achieve speed. This in essence personifies the essential characteristics of a command, control, communications, computers, information and intelligence (C4I2) system. Therefore, there is a need for a tremendously flexible and robust C4I2 architecture which functions as a process of organisations, doctrines and technologies. We need to progressively develop foolproof security at our borders and comprehensive security of all vulnerable points and vulnerable areas against threats of all types. The challenge is to harness the power of sensors, information processing and communication technologies to develop concepts of operation and command and control approaches that will ensure comprehensive all-round security in any given situation or circumstance.
Steps should be taken to establish network-centricity at the national as well as the military levels, taking a holistic view and adopting a top down approach. At the national level, we need to accelerate the establishment of the NATGRID. The new government had indicated that it would be taking a relook at the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC). Incidents like the Burdwan blasts underline the need for the NCTC with subsidiary State level Counter Terrorism Centres (SCTCs) established in ‘all’ States of India. All this is essential to integrate the security sector with an effective command, control, communications, computers, information and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4I2SR) system in place to ensure our national interests and security of the nation.
(From left to right) Jayant Baranwal, Editor-in-Chief, SP Guide Publications welcomes Lt General Philip Campose, Vice Chief of Army Staff; Inaugural address by Lt General Philip Campose, Vice Chief of Army Staff and Indian Industry Perspective by Dr Sundeep Oberoi,
Global Head for Niche Technology Delivery Group, Tata Consultancy Services;
(Top, left to right) Lt General Anil Chait (Retd), former CISC; Lt General J.S. Matharu, DGIS and U.K. Kalyana Ramudu, Vice President, Larsen & Toubro (Above, left to right) Major General R.P. Bhadran, ADGIS; Raghavan Muralidharan, CTO, Tata Power SED; and AVM Dev Ganesh (Retd),
Customer Business Manager (Space), Honeywell
(Top, left to right) Lt General P.C. Katoch (Retd), former DGIS; Brigadier S.C. Sharma (Retd), Director, AxisCades Aerospace and Technologies Ltd; and Colonel Sanjeev Relia, Senior Research Fellow, United Services Institution of India (Above, left to right) Ashok Kanodia, Managing Director, Precision Electronics Ltd; Rahul Chaudhry,
CEO, Tata Power SED and Jayant Patil, Executive Vice President Defence & Aerospace, Larsen & Toubro Ltd