SP's LandForces - - LEAD STORY -

The recent reve­la­tions of the Stand­ing Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee on de­fence re­gard­ing the short­ages/voids and ob­so­les­cent equip­ment in the army has caused con­ster­na­tion among the public. While this was well known among the po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, se­nior gov­ern­ment func­tionar­ies (bu­reau­cracy) as well as the me­dia, how­ever we are con­strained to say that none of them had con­sid­ered the is­sue se­ri­ously in the past and nor was there an in­formed debate on the TV chan­nels.

While we can blame the pre­vi­ous UPA I and II Gov­ern­ments for the ne­glect by A.K. Antony, the two term De­fence Min­is­ter from, how­ever the present gov­ern­ment too has not shown alac of them. The armed forces have al­ways con­sid­ered the BJP gov­ern­ments to have greater na­tion­al­is­tic fer­vour and there­fore the lack of un­der­stand­ing shown by them has caused dis­may in the mil­i­tary cir­cles. The lack of mod­erni­sa­tion es­pe­cially in the army is alarm­ing. From the sol­diers ba­sic weapons com­pris to more so­phis­ti­cated weaponry like the anti tank guided mis­siles, light ob­ser­va­tion and surveil - lery, nearly ev­ery weapon held by the army has be­come ob­so­lete and needs re­place­ment. Con­sid­er­ing the strength of our army the po­lit­i­cal lead­ers must un­der­stand that if the mod­erni­sa­tion is ne­glected year af­ter year the stage will come where even if it want sto pro­cure new weapons from abroad or man­u­fac­ture them in­dige­nously it will not take less than a decade. For­mer De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar to his credit, did try to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion which had de­te­ri­o­rated con- sider­ably. How­ever for po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions he was moved to Goa. The cur­rent de­fence min­is­ter is mak­ing all ef­forts to ame - tion but as we have stated ear­lier it will take many years be­fore we see changes at ground level.

I must point out that the Army as a ser­vice must ac­cept its share of blame for mak­ing un­re­al­is­tic qual­i­ta­tive re­quire­ments such as the one made for the of two types of bar­rels, 5.56 mm and 7.62mm to cater for dif­fer­ent op­er­a­tional sce­nar­ios which has in­or­di­nately de­layed the in­duc In this re­gard our ad­vice is that from equip­ment ori­ented arms such as the ar­moured corps, mech­a­nised in­fantry and ar­tillery should be con­sid­ered for the appointment of Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Pol­icy and Sys­tems) who deals on equip­ment mat­ters with all line di­rec­torates and the Weapons and Equip­ment di­rec are not suited for this as­sign­ment down in their as­sign­ments in the short time avail­able be­fore their su­per­an­nu­a­tion.

We are aware that the present Chief of Army Staff is try­ing his best to mod­er­ate the in­duc­tion of new arms and equip­ment in a man­ner that re­sults in mani on the ground in the short­est pos­si­ble time frame, es­pe­cially in op­er­a­tional sec­tors on the line of con­trol and the line of ac­tual con­trol (LoC and LAC) op­po­site Pak­istan and China re­spec­tively and we wish him and the gov­ern­ment all the best in achiev­ing this vi­tal aim as soon as pos­si­ble.

There is an oft re­peated phrase being seen in the print me­dia th­ese days in which it is - cial pow­ers have been del­e­gated to the Vice Chiefs to pro­cure ur­gently needed am­mu­ni­tion, equip­ment and stores. More­over he has now also been del­e­gated pow­ers to spend 14,097 crore for strength­en­ing ‘perime­ter se­cu­rity’ of army es­tab­lish­ments across the coun­try. Lt Gen­eral Sarath Chand told the Stand­ing Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee on de­fence that there is no sep­a­rate al­lo­ca­tion for this. “So, this money is also to be found from the same Bud­get leav­ing us with no choice but to re-pri­ori­tise, ei­ther to re­duce our re­quire­ment as far as the se­cu­rity of mil­i­tary sta­tions are con­cerned or to go slow on some other ac­qui­si­tion,” he told the Com­mit­tee. So how is perime­ter se­cu­rity of army/ de­fence in­stal­la­tions, some of which have been at­tacked in the recent past, go­ing to be achieved with­out ad­di­tional funds? This sorry state of af­fairs of re­gard­ing ad­e­quate al­lo­ca­tion of funds, mod­erni­sa­tion and stores/equip be ad­dressed at the high­est lev - di­tious man­ner.

Happy read­ing and meet you all at Hall 6 Stall 6.2.10. Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd)

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