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)