This is an IDF Analysis as there is no ownership of Defence per se in India. Foreign Defence Attaches in Delhi report to Multiple heads and Indian Defence Attaches abroad in Embassies are independent with no Defence Attache. This embarrasses the Heads of Missions; ask them ? India has no Armed Forces Day and Jointness has been talked of with Theatre Commands, Maritime Security Apparatus (MSA) in BJP’s manifesto and a CDS but another strong Government is now in Lame Duck Circuit to fight elections. It is “Jaisa The”, but the Armed Forces have gone from strength to strength no doubt under BJP in a 36 Rafale syndrome manner.
The Army has been hard pressed to fight wars, insurgencies, terror and even help Governments in political unrests, which as Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said, “An army has to do what the Government orders”, citing the joint success of the 1971 war implying and hoping the Government will not misuse India’s Army ! He forgets Field Marshal Manekshaw’s stance. If CBI is seeing turmoil the Army of 1.2 million is a bigger kettle of fish like a bucking horse.
India’s Command and Control is diffused between MOD, Home Ministry, PMO and NSA as the attack on Pathankot showed and a powerful Finance Minister who helped BJP rise in Promod Mahajan times with India Shining is tight fisted. This is worrisome, with a huge para military, police led force being given more leeway, assets and less accountability The security responsibility seems to lie on no shoulders and each Service Chief minds his turf like a Satrap to the best of his ability. The Chief works in a set up that has ability, but no accountability and no one has ownership though the PM is the De-facto Cabinet head and CDS as the President is the Supreme Commander in name! CCS is a rubber stamp for a powerful and able PM as 36 Rafale decision showed and Parliament takes little interest. Nuclear issues are with NSA and the laws of each service are different.
Reams have therefore been written by committees headed by Arun Singh, K Subrahmanyam and Satish Chandra in Kargil report and Naresh Chandra committee which was an exercise in compromise, and Lt Gen D B Shekatkar to reduce Army manpower. The reports collect dust. Yet, Cadre Reviews of officers got pushed through thanks to bureaucrats delight, as service rankings fell by their own making. Military is now struggling for NFU to Catch Up. Colonels will become Generals for pay and the nomenclature of Brigadiers in all Headquarters has already changed, not Directors like the cosmetic letterhead Integrated Defence Staff HQ!. Part files continue. Procurement and Make in India are stumped and Home Ministry does its own thing under a powerful Home Minister.
COAS Gen Bipin Rawat who like Gen K Sundarji for Sri Lanka in Op Pawan has taken on to solve the Kashmir challenge laden with lethal politics and unrest by Pakistan’s unconventional war along the Line of Control in Kashmir in Op Allout. Post Doklam he seems to have felt the need to restructure the Army he commands and set in motion changes and promised to complete them in his third year. He will take over Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee in four months unless a CDS or Permanent Chairman COS Committee is appointed. He can do much !
Gen Bipin Rawat unveiled his plans for restructuring of the Army as India Today reports, ‘the defence budget last February had left his Army with one of its lowest budgets with just 13 per cent or Rs 26,826 crore of Capital to buy new equipment because balance 87 per cent of the Army budget got earmarked for Revenue’— which includes salaries, training, travel and for fuel and ammunition. Foreign exercises and showmanship and pandering to direct orders from PMO have increased and they cost money. FM Arun Jaitley who lost an election to become the powerful Defence Minister twice and Finance Minister invariably clubs pensions in his so called spending on defence. Going into elections and his sudden trip to USA for treatment may not see a large Revised Estimate by possibly CA Piyush Goyal, unless PMO intervenes. Navy needs ships and helicopters, IAF needs fighters and Army needs assault rifles and a satellite. These take time to induct though snippier rifles are due on 20th Feb for Northern Command.
COAS appointed four Lt Gens to report to reshape the field army into an agile, effective force capable of quick handling conventional and hybrid warfare, and restructure the AHQ with experience, and a younger profile and revise the terms of engagement of the soldiers, and how to prune the Army by 100,000. The aim is to re-make attack Corps and Divisions with Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs). War games are being executed to give shape to IBGs with artillery, armour, signals and a call to make Services as fit and efficient as the arms. Air element has not been mentioned hoping Rudras join. Though Gen Rawat a down to earth soldier is caring for his sacrificing men he did say there is more understanding between Army and IAF.
IDF saw the Navy living through a period in the late 1960s when its was not easy for the Navy come to an understanding with IAF on Maritime Reconnaissance (MR). In those days and even today there is no CDS and MOD bureaucrats love status quo, unless Uppar Se Aya. IAF feels threatened and refused to let Navy Navigators or Observers fly with them, so Navy fought to take over MR and today its 12 P8is are to be front line guardians. Ten more will come as there are fewer ships on the horizon to meet and deter China .
The IBG is on lines of the Russian and Chinese Brigades which equal an Indian Army Corps, but no mention of the most essential integral Air Support (close and advanced) or keeping Navy in the loop, though a NSA headed Committee over the three Chiefs is to send its report to the RM as the Defence Secretary is responsible for the Defence of India, who will have to process the report. There in lies a big Catch and hope NSA realizes need for Jointness and not just equipment with gives more bang for the buck, equal to weapons!
India Defence Forum makes a bold statement—–If India’s three Armed Forces are synergized called ‘Make Purple’ for training and operations to have Tri Service Commands (TBGs) with unified Command and Control and Organization and Structure for it among the three services and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) becomes an active partner in the mission, India will easily rank high with readiness for war. It will rank only after USA, Russia, European militaries, Korea and Japan and around on par with China which is racing ahead to leave India behind after President Xi Jinping’s re-organisation of its Military in to five heads under the Central Military Commission (CMC) directly under him after rooting out corrupt senior officers. China is leaning more and more on Cyber, Space, Robots, Drones and is mapping the Internet undersea cables in the East that count for 80% internet traffic to disrupt. China has a firewall for internet, unlike India. Strategically China has made Pakistan a partner which will helps its ambitions in the Indian Ocean’s Western Region to keep India occupied, and Sri Lanka in the South and the Chinese base in Djibouti towards Africa.
Indian Army has Regimental loyalty and fire power and numbers to fight. The Air Force is a lethal Air Force and Navy is superior but small. Yet the way the three services are structured they run their own way less combining with the others, but come war they will react after initial hiccups because MOD which looks to PMO and Finance Ministry almost scared of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in peace become less relevant as the 73 day Doklam experience showed. NSA and PMO ran the show with MEA and needs study. Op Pawan too can show weaknesses as 1400 souls died and Op Parakaram has been proved to be ineffective and Army lost few hundreds in mine clearing without going into action. A Lt Gen was shunted out as his Corps moved forward and USA took umbrage. None of these have been studied as they should be by MOD with service officers in a frank manner. These are post Army Day thoughts to salute what BBC called India’s Amamzing Army. Shan Na Varuna.