SP's LandForces - - LEAD STORY -

Dur­ing the UPA regime (UPA I and II) the sit­u­a­tion with re­gards to mod­erni­sa­tion and re­place­ment of old equip­ment had de­te­ri­o­rated con­sid­er­ably and it was widely ac­claimed that the new Naren­dra Modi Govern­ment which took over the reins of the coun­try in May 2014 would rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion.

While the then tech­nol­ogy savy De­fence Min­is­ter, Manohar Par­rikar, who took over in Novem­ber 2014, did bring dy­namism into the bu­reau­cratic func­tion­ing of the De­fence Min­istry, but with his de­par­ture to Goa as Chief Min­is­ter in March 2017, it be­came busi­ness as usual. Arun Jait­ley who was dual- hat­ted, and brought back to de­fence min­istry once again, could not be ex­pected to han­dle two vi­tal min­istries both of which re­quired full­time at­ten­tion of its Min­is­ter.

Nir­mala Sithara­man, took over de­fence min­is­ter on Thurs­day, 7 Septem­ber 2017. Her dy­namism to get things done was seen as a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment by the Ser­vices she was seen ac­tively pur­su­ing her goals, how­ever nearly two decades of ne­glect will not be easy to over­come in a short pe­riod.

The army has been the great­est suf­ferer with re­gard to mod­erni­sa­tion be­cause it needs re­place­ment of nearly all its weapon sys­tems start­ing with the as­sault - ons, towed, mounted and self pro­pelled how­itzers for the moun­tains, plains and desert ter­rain re­spec­tively, re­con­nais­sance and ob­ser­va­tion he­li­copters which are in an atro­cious state, sur­veil­lance as­sets such as un­armed aerial ve­hi­cles (UAVs) and their com­bat vari­ant, and var­i­ous cat­e­gories of for our tanks and in­fantry weapons, and var­i­ous cat­e­gories of am­mu­ni­tion to build up the stocks a war of a given du­ra­tion in the fu­ture. This is the state at a time when we are pos­si­bly fac­ing a two front sce­nario with Pak­istan in the west and China in the north and east.

On Jan­uary 16, 2018, we were in­formed by the me­dia that the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil (DAC), chaired by Rak­sha Mantri Smt Nir­mala Sithara­man, met and cleared pro­cure­ment of 72,400 as fast track ba­sis for ₹

2018, the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil cleared ₹ worth of pro­pos­als including the one to pro­cure 7.40 lakh ÔBuy at a cost of ₹ 12,280 crore for the three ser­vices. This clear­ance also in­cluded light ma­chine guns

A ma­jor doubt arises is re­gard­ing the var­i­ous pro­pos­als. - ing to be merged or will two dif­fer­ent pro­cure­ments be made and if that be so then the army will have - placed by the im­proved ver­sion of the INSAS by the DRDO! Has any thought been given to the lo­gis­tic prob­lems of re­pair, main­te­nance and the am­mu­ni­tion? Will the am­mu­ni­tion be com­mon to all three?

The an­nounce­ment of Fe­bru - tack on the army fam­ily quar­ters at San­juwan, Jammu, on Fe­bru­ary 10, 2018, af­ter which it seems the poor state of weapons in the in­fantry has sud­denly dawned upon the hi­er­ar­chy where as if we go back in time, it is a clear case of ne­glect by the govern­ment.

A sim­i­lar case was re­gard­ing the can­cel­la­tion of the ne­go­ti­ated for the Spike Anti-Tank Guided Mis­sile (ATGM). As per re­ports, the deal was to be inked soon and in an­tic­i­pa­tion the Is­raeli com­pany, Rafael Ad­vanced De­fence Sys­tems, had even set up a mis­sile sub-sys­tems man­u­fac­tur­ing unit near Hy­der­abad in part­ner­ship with the Kalyani group. Af­ter PutinÕs visit the fate of this deal hangs in bal­ance.

Why are our gov­ern­ments, po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, bu­reau­crats and the se­nior mil­i­tary hi­er­ar­chy so in­de­ci­sive? We leave the judg­ment for our read­ers.

Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd)

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