“Rightsizing will strengthen the army’s ca­pac­i­ties, pre­pare it for fu­ture wars”

On a crisp New Delhi win­ter morn­ing, Gen­eral Bipin Rawat, sport­ing a sharp blue blazer and ma­roon army tie, jokes about how he is vir­tu­ally un­recog­nis­able when not in uni­form. The air at his of­fi­cial res­i­dence, Army House on 4 Ra­jaji Marg, though, is anyt

India Today - - COVERSTORY / ARMY -

QWhat are the ob­jec­tives of the re­form process you have ini­ti­ated? It has three ma­jor fo­cuses—to be pre­pared for fu­ture war­fare by strength­en­ing our ca­pa­bil­i­ties, be­come more ef­fi­cient, and bet­ter man­age our bud­getary al­lo­ca­tions.

How do you en­vis­age fu­ture wars that the In­dian Army might have to face?

In­dia has un­set­tled bor­ders on the north and par­tially un­set­tled bor­ders on the west with an ad­ver­sary we’ve not been able to come to terms with, Pak­istan. So, we’ll have to main­tain pres­ence on the bor­ders, we can­not lower our guard. We need troops that are our eyes and ears, who are not for­ever de­ployed on the bor­ders and yet have the ca­pa­bil­ity to build up should the sit­u­a­tion arise. So we are a man­power-in­ten­sive army. The other way of look­ing at it is to see the chang­ing na­ture of war. How will fu­ture wars be fought? Ear­lier, you had wars of at­tri­tion, and who­ever was left stand­ing was the win­ner. Wars are not go­ing to be fought in that man­ner any­more. Ad­ver­saries will carry out war­fare through dif­fer­ent means, through non-con­tact war­fare—cy­ber war­fare, psy ops and le­gal war­fare.

We have to take ad­van­tage of tech­nol­ogy—space based sys­tems and long-range sur­veil­lance sys­tems.

If you have counter-in­for­ma­tion and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare, then you have to have or­gan­i­sa­tions in your armed forces to deal with such is­sues. Some of the or­gan­i­sa­tions within the army have be­come ob­so­lete. This rightsizing is hap­pen­ing to strengthen the ca­pac­i­ties of the armed forces, make it more ef­fi­cient and pre­pare it for fu­ture wars. So while we have to be pre­pared for non-con­tact and con­tact war­fare, we have to im­bibe tech­nol­ogy. For­ma­tions and struc­tures have to be re­or­gan­ised with new cy­ber war­fare- and space-based el­e­ments.

Does this mean you are not go­ing to get any more money, over and above your present bud­getary al­lo­ca­tions, from the gov­ern­ment?

There are schemes that have been ap­proved by the gov­ern­ment and which have an as­sur­ance. The gov­ern­ment has to give us funds for those re­quire­ments. So, if to­mor­row the Rafales are go­ing to come, you have to pay for them. We are get­ting a large num­ber of how­itzers, the money has to be made avail­able for them.

By when do you think the army will be ready to face these new chal­lenges? Some changes like the re­struc­tur­ing of the army head­quar­ters will start im­me­di­ately. We need new ver­ti­cals for cy­ber war­fare- and space-based sys­tems. Also, par­al­lel struc­tures so that one agency is talk­ing to the other. We also have to look at how we in­te­grate our­selves with the other two ser­vices. The navy, army and air force are not in dif­fer­ent si­los on this. We con­tinue to op­er­ate on sim­i­lar sys­tems with the same end state. So if the end state is com­mon, what we are ask­ing is, why can’t we in­te­grate?

So, you’re go­ing to start the process of in­te­gra­tion with this?

Yes, this (re­or­gan­i­sa­tion) will also be­gin the process of in­te­gra­tion (with the other ser­vices). This is our way of

look­ing at it. This is also how we will in­te­grate and carry out jointmanship. That is also part of the re­struc­tur­ing.

Are the other ser­vices on board?

Yes, they are. We are mov­ing for­ward on cer­tain other pro­pos­als for joint staffing within var­i­ous head­quar­ters. Joint staffing means army, navy and air force will be staffed in each oth­ers’ head­quar­ters. That is the way for­ward. As of now, joint staffing is there in HQ, In­te­grated De­fence Staff (IDS), but can we not have joint staffing in com­mands and corps? That is what we are look­ing at. Head­quar­ters staffing will be done in the next four-to-five months.

The army is work­ing on the con­cept of in­te­grated bat­tle groups com­bin­ing el­e­ments of ar­mour, ar­tillery and in­fantry. How is this go­ing to work?

The In­te­grated Bat­tle Group (IBG) con­cept is some­thing we have to test-bed. We are telling the for­ma­tions to con­duct ex­er­cises to see how it will work. We have given them a frame­work and they will have to con­duct an ex­er­cise and come back to us with mod­i­fi­ca­tions on how it needs to change. We will have to look at ev­ery IBG de­pend­ing on its task­ing, ter­rain and op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Is Cold Start still an op­tion when it comes to warfight­ing?

Well, what is Cold Start? Cold Start is proac­tive, rapid move­ment. It has hap­pened and lots of things have moved for­ward if you look at where we were sit­ting ear­lier. It (the Cold Start doc­trine) says you can’t do a cold start un­less you move sys­tems closer to the bor­der… it’s an on­go­ing thing and it’s hap­pen­ing even now.

Is the gov­ern­ment on board with all the re­form you are push­ing through? Well, we are quite hope­ful. In fact, my rea­son for com­ing out so frankly about the re­struc­tur­ing is to keep ev­ery­body in­formed that some­thing is hap­pen­ing in the army. I am con­fi­dent ev­ery­body un­der­stands that it is for bet­ter util­i­sa­tion of our re­sources, bet­ter util­i­sa­tion of our bud­get, and for im­prov­ing ef­fi­ciency. If these are the three un­der­ly­ing prin­ci­ples, I don’t think there will be any re­sis­tance (from the gov­ern­ment).

Right now, rev­enue ex­pen­di­ture is very high and cap­i­tal out­lay is only 17 per cent of the de­fence bud­get. Do you have guar­an­tees from the gov­ern­ment that if you re­duce rev­enue ex­pen­di­ture, you’ll get more cap­i­tal?

Okay, let’s look at this the other way round. To­day, if I de­crease my man­power even by 10,000 peo­ple, it means 10,000 less salaries, 10,000 less pen­sions… au­to­mat­i­cally, cap­i­tal to rev­enue has changed. Guar­an­tee is a dif­fer­ent is­sue. Yes, I am con­fi­dent the gov­ern­ment will sup­port us. When we tell them ‘we are com­ing half­way, are you will­ing too?’, I’m sure they’ll un­der­stand.

What about your suc­ces­sors, will these pro­pos­als get sup­port from them? This is why I have not done it alone. I’ve taken the cur­rent army com­man­ders on board. Most of them are also go­ing to be with my suc­ces­sor. Even our fu­ture crop of army com­man­ders are in on this. I’ve also taken the vet­eran com­mu­nity on board and dis­cussed it with them. It is not some­thing be­ing done hush­hush. A lot of things have been done in the army that have per­co­lated down the rank and file after de­ci­sions have been taken at the AHQ. We are not do­ing it this way. To­day, ev­ery­body knows some­thing is hap­pen­ing. If the peo­ple feel this (the re­forms) is not a good thing, they should say so now. Is the Moun­tain Strike Corps still im­por­tant in the light of this re­struc­tur­ing? Yes, it’s a very im­por­tant as­set. It’s mov­ing. We are car­ry­ing out a re­struc­tur­ing of the Moun­tain Strike Corps also, to make it a leaner, meaner, more ca­pa­ble force. I feel in the moun­tains, you need more agility, more ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity within the force. So we are cut­ting out the heavy bulk in the re­struc­tur­ing, cut­ting away a lot of our lo­gis­tics el­e­ments. In 1962, the coun­try was not as well de­vel­oped, par­tic­u­larly in the bor­der ar­eas. To­day, the ve­hi­cles we buy—Maruti or Tata—have out­lets right on the bor­der… so we can deal with them di­rectly on the bor­der rather than cre­at­ing our own re­pair fa­cil­i­ties. We are look­ing at a lot of out­sourc­ing. Some of our struc­tures— ord­nance fac­to­ries, base work­shops etc.—we have to see whether we can in­cor­po­rate the civil­ian model into that.

How much man­power will be cut down, 100,000 or more?

The num­bers will fi­nally come in when we fin­ish with our test beds. The fig­ure you men­tion, that will de­pend on how many test beds fi­nally suc­ceed. So you know, the de­sired end state is that (over 100,000), but whether we’ll reach there, I don’t know. If all our test beds suc­ceed, then we are look­ing at this fig­ure (150,000). But there is also a re­quire­ment for new rais­ings. So while we are sav­ing, some of it will be pushed back into new rais­ings. Fi­nally, the fig­ure could be two-thirds of this.

What other changes are you look­ing at? We are look­ing at re­struc­tur­ing the of­fi­cer cadre and im­prov­ing pro­mo­tion prospects. We have a pyra­mi­dal struc­ture and it has led to a feel­ing that of­fi­cers are be­ing left be­hind. We want to im­prove this. We are also look­ing at ways to im­prove the terms and con­di­tions of ser­vice of our men. A jawan comes into ser­vice at 18-20 years and serves up to 15 years and then earns his pen­sion and goes home. We are look­ing at whether we can keep him be­yond 35-37 years. To­day, thanks to bet­ter health­care, the longevity of our pop­u­la­tion is in­creas­ing.

“My rea­son for com­ing out on re­struc­tur­ing is to keep ev­ery­body in­formed... I’m sure the Cen­tre will not re­sist the idea”


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