In­ter­view with Chief of the Army Staff Gen­eral Dal­bir Singh

In an in­ter­view with SP’s M.A.I., Gen­eral Dal­bir Singh, Chief of the Army Staff, out­lines some of the ma­jor mod­erni­sa­tion plans be­ing un­der­taken by the In­dian Army.

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SP’s M.A.I. (SP’s): The Twelfth Five Year Plan has been ap­proved ‘in prin­ci­ple’ by the gov­ern­ment while the ac­qui­si­tions of the Eleventh Plan are still un­der­way. Your com­ments. COAS: To ad­dress en­vis­aged cur­rent and fu­tur­is­tic se­cu­rity needs, In­dian Army en­gages in ca­pa­bil­ity de­vel­op­ment in a pri­ori­tised man­ner based on Long-Term Per­spec­tive Plan spread over a pe­riod of 15 years. Fur­ther pri­ori­ti­sa­tion is based on five-year de­fence plan ap­proved by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil and An­nual Ac­qui­si­tion Plan spread over a two-year pe­riod. The five-year de­fence plans are made to iden­tify ar­eas which need at­ten­tion, bridge the gaps be­tween ex­ist­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and what is re­quired is to ar­rive at a re­al­is­tic and im­ple­mentable al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources.

The Eleventh Plan (2007-12) was fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties to at­tain mil­i­tary ob­jec­tives across the en­tire spec­trum of con­flicts against a nu­clear back­drop. The plan suc­ceeded in mak­ing a be­gin­ning to­wards ad­dress­ing our pri­or­ity ar­eas.

The Twelfth Plan (2012-17) in­cludes in­duc­tion of high tech­nol­ogy weapons, ac­qui­si­tion of force mul­ti­pli­ers and fo­cus­ing on cre­ation of a lethal, ag­ile and net­worked force pre­pared to meet the com­plex se­cu­rity chal­lenges. The over­all equip­ment pro­file is a mix of mod­ern, cur­rent and equip­ment ap­proach­ing ob­so­les­cence.

The army’s mod­erni­sa­tion is an on­go­ing process based on longterm plan­ning and has been largely pro­gress­ing as planned. De­lays are pri­mar­ily at­trib­ut­able to pro­ce­dural is­sues. Nu­mer­ous mea­sures have been ini­ti­ated at the macro as well as mi­cro level to stream­line cap­i­tal pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dures to en­sure that the ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing of the army is pro­gressed as per laid down pri­or­i­ties and time­lines. While do­ing so, guide­lines given in the De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure (DPP) 2013 are be­ing scrupu­lously fol­lowed and in­tegrity of pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dure main­tained.

SP’s: Com­ing to the in­fantry, the largest arm in the army, what mod­ern sys­tems, from the ri­fle to oth­ers, are needed and what is the progress on var­i­ous fronts in­clud­ing F-INSAS? COAS: Mod­erni­sa­tion of the in­fantry sol­dier is be­ing given pri­or­ity and nec­es­sary im­pe­tus. It is de­signed to en­hance an in­di­vid­ual sol­dier’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties in terms of in­creas­ing his weapon lethal­ity and at the same time pro­vid­ing him nec­es­sary pro­tec­tion for sur­viv­abil­ity in the lethal en­vi­ron­ment. His mo­bil­ity and con­nec­tiv­ity to ex­ploit a net­work-cen­tric sys­tem are also planned. We have moved ahead from con­cept stage to ex­e­cu­tion. In this ini­tial phase pri­or­ity is be­ing ac­corded to weapon sys­tems and en­hanc­ing night vi­sion and bat­tle­field mo­bil­ity ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Lethal­ity. The pro­cure­ment of weapons is simultaneously ad­dress­ing both the mod­erni­sa­tion and hol­low­ness fac­tors. The re­quire­ment to ad­dress the ex­ist­ing crit­i­cal voids in the en­vi­ron­ment is be­ing ac­corded max­i­mum im­pe­tus. The pro­cure­ment process of close quar­ter bat­tle car­bine, as­sault ri­fle and light ma­chine gun are in ad­vanced stage. Tar­get Ac­qui­si­tion and Sit­u­a­tional Aware­ness. Com­man­ders and de­tach­ment num­bers at var­i­ous lev­els in the In­dian Army need to be ef­fec­tively night en­abled. Due im­por­tance is there­fore given to equip the weapons with mix of im­age in­ten­si­fier and ther­mal imag­ing based night sights. The RFP for pro­cure­ment of im­age in­ten­si­fier sight for car­bine has been is­sued on Novem­ber 7, 2014. Body Ar­mour. The pro­cure­ment of bal­lis­tic hel­met and bul­let proof jacket is at an ad­vanced stage wherein both items are at trial stage.

SP’s: Con­sid­er­able cur­rent hold­ings of the In­dian Army’s equip­ment are ob­so­lete and needs ur­gent at­ten­tion. What is the army do­ing about it? COAS: It is a part of the mod­erni­sa­tion of the armed forces, which is a con­tin­u­ous process based on threat per­cep­tion, op­er­a­tional chal­lenges, tech­no­log­i­cal changes and avail­able re­sources. The out­dated equip­ment is be­ing up­graded ac­cord­ingly.

Presently, a pro­posal is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion of procur­ing 100 wheeled APCs for our UN con­tin­gents. Th­ese wheeled APCs are likely to re­place the BMPs. The same will im­prove de­ploy­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties of our con­tin­gents. Tan­gi­ble steps have been taken to fast-track pro­cess­ing of key EW (elec­tronic war­fare) and com­mu­ni­ca­tion projects. A project for pro­cure­ment of tac­ti­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem (TCS) for the TBA based on a grid com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work is un­der way.

One of the ma­jor mod­erni­sa­tion de­ci­sions taken is of cre­at­ing a Dig­i­tal Army. Three key ar­eas and nine pil­lars for Dig­i­tal Army are be­ing worked upon based on Dig­i­tal In­dia plan. Some con­crete ac­tions have been taken in that di­rec­tion and some are in the pipe­line. ‘In­te­gra­tion’ and ‘in­ter-op­er­abil­ity’ have been made key is­sues in all SW ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment. Sys­tems and pro­ce­dures are also be­ing mod­i­fied as part of ‘business process re­view’ as ap­pli­ca­ble.

A close in­ter­ac­tion with in­dus­try is be­ing en­cour­aged wherein re­quire­ment of ser­vices have been high­lighted to the in­dus­try. Ca­pa­bil­ity of in­dus­try in dif­fer­ent do­main has also been re­quested to op­ti­mise our in­ter­face. Fast-track­ing pro­ce­dures in DPP and De­fence Pro­cure­ment Man­ual are also be­ing planned for bet­ter re­sponse.

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