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.
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.