This is IDF’s 13th Analysis as the world is  battling the deadly Pandemic-Covid-19 in ‘Locked Downs’, and the weak and old in deaths. Future strategic equations with an unstable Pakistan active in Kashmir, Nepal and China pinpricking India and USA & China locked in a Cold War of blame, are unpredictable in this chaos. Most economies except China and USA stand battered. It is India’s crisis to face. China’s CPP leadership is under fire for the handling of COVID.

PM Modi has been steering India with RSS’ nationalism policies. 40 Ministers out of 54 are reportedly RSS. PM has opted an  IFS EAM Jay Shankar to take his load of Foreign Affairs and needs expert inputs, especially to revive economy to meet India’s potential. .

  India’s Security Establishment needs to turn this crisis into an opportunity like the Chinese are attempting under great pressure, with 140 nations wanting to tame and investigate China’s role. A crisis can be as an opportunity.

The First step in this predicament, if not done by Defence Planning Committee(DPC) under NSA when he chaired the Chiefs for a National Security Strategy(NSS) is to script a POST COVID FULL SPECTRUM STRATEGIC THREAT APRRECIATION.

CDS Gen Bipin Rawat has stated DPC is finalizing a NSS for him, and IDF presumes it has a threat assessment for Chiefs to be able to jointly select the best weapons, strategy and tactics for the threats. Earlier each Chief did this exercise independently. Two years ago NSA Chiefs were put under NSA for that purpose which responsibility has shifted to the CDS.

 India’s economy has dipped and may only look up next year. India has a huge improvised displaced population called migrant workers who will need sustenance to rejuvenate India’s manufacturing and to get back to work. That will not come easy or cheap, and will needs pragmatism, not MREGAs alone. Current operations by Military for COVID relief must have also taken up a lot of their revenue budget. Unlikely, it will be refunded till the Supplementary. A method called “Operating Costs” of ships was  followed by the Navy when oil prices zoomed to $ 120 a barrel may help,  with more simulators and realistic tactical training etc. Pilots love to clock hours and costs money.

Ufa: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with NSA Ajit Doval before a meeting in Ufa, Russia on Friday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist (PTI7_10_2015_000033B)

Allocation to Defence is revised with 15 % initial cuts and is an opportunity to cut individual service bloated coats with the cloth available, an apt cliché. It can be done with innovation and joint co-operation of Chiefs and some agencies like Home Ministry, ISRO support and Intelligence under the Chief of Defence Staff(CDS), who comes to the post as the former Army Chief, and has made  seminal BYTES articulating  plans. CDS may need to co-opt NSA into the Chair as he is a Cabinet Minister and CDS is a mere Secretary in MOD. Status matters in India !

“We are not expeditionary forces that have to deploy around the globe. We have to guard and fight only along our borders and, of course, dominate the Indian Ocean Region. I think the Navy needs more submarines rather than aircraft carriers, which themselves require their own individual armadas for protection.” – 

“Theatre commands (Land) will mainly be between the Army and the IAF. While it is the northern border there should also be a small Navy element,” Gen. Rawat told a small group of journalists during the week. Referring to the Navy’s fghter jets, he said, “Can we not bring some of the naval assets to the land borders?” General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

Vadm Madanjit Singh comments: “Theatre commands work best when you have dedicated assets that IDF is suggesting and adds the Andaman and Nicobar Command did not take off precisely because nobody allocated resources”. While Air Chief RKS Bhaduria has scripted IAF’S future plans and IAF works that way. IAF was always averse to a CDS ! Truth must be confronted.

CDS admits the 1.3 lac Army will be the most challenging to reform. Army has many top ranked posts, is manpower revenue intense and is battling terror from Pakistan and instability in North East sapping its energy, and pin pricks from China who claim Sikkim China border and tri-junction is not settled,  is separate from LAC which sees perceptions. FM Manekshaw’s 1974 DSSC lecture and Gen KV Krishnarao’s Army reform to reduce numbers may help.

The Home Ministry needs to convert to a Home Land Force, co-opting Army lead in operations when they cannot tackle terror with proper Command and Control as CAPFs, Police and Army go into action together. Media reports on Tactics in built up areas especially when one reads a Colonel leads a terror operation from the front with Police and Para around is worrisome! CAPFs are also manpower intense and media reported senior retired has serving staff in the 21st Century.

India looks to CDS Gen Bipin Rawat to bell Home Ministry and IPS Police led and Police controlled top jobs in Intelligence to execute reforms, as Intelligence world over, has become a  profession for the technologically adept operators. It needs reform with the Official Secrets Act(OSA) 1923. An Intelligence ranker cannot also be a DGP and back in to Intelligence any more or to a Para force. Some rankling there  affects the Army as Para badges with stars out shine the Army. A quote below is making waves.

“Officers of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), which includes the CRPF, have had a Officers of the CAPF, have had a long standing tussle with IPS officers who come on deputation to these forces, who manage to keep the plum postings and relegate cadre officers to inferior positions in their own forces with IPS officers who come on deputation to these forces, ………. to keep the plum postings and relegate cadre officers to inferior positions in their own forces. BSF IG SK Sood Retired.

CDS uniquely wears two hats. One as a Secretary in the MOD with bureaucratic functions with MOD staff and the other as the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) with IDS staff. He will need unanimity of decisions of Chiefs and NSC for implementation for defence of the nation. Yet in the Rules of Business still leaves the Defence Secretary responsible for the Security of India, and the same Def Sec is junior in status to the CDS and Chiefs, but controls the purse strings with the Financial Adviser who also reports to the Finance Ministry.

 CDS has not been burdened with any operational role, but is the single point adviser to the Minister of Defence along with the Chiefs. He would be involved in major operations. IDF had suggested a Joint Tactical Training War Gaming Centre and War cum Operations Room as CDS’s first priority in Indian Navy Year Book 2020 while felicitating him, as all data has become  digital. Only civil works are needed to make three services fight simulated battles with their weapons, abilities and Intelligence inputs, and invite the political leadership to come to take strategic and nuclear decisions, like all large nations do. A small cue is how Navy plans large Malabar Exercises with US and Japanese Staff in Maritime Centre at Visakhapatnam, where their weapon and CENTRIX systems are practiced to write the Exercise orders. Shan No Varuna.

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