IN DEPTH: What the defence forces of India seek from Modi govt


Marking the first such apex level contact between the armed forces and the new dispensation, on Wednesday afternoon, India’s senior-most serving commander, General Bikram Singh, Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On Thursday, he was followed by the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral RK Dhowan.

On Tuesday, after taking over the reins of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the incoming Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, held a series of meetings with officials from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as well as a 30-minute ‘call on’ with the three service chiefs. However, courtesies aside, for the forces charged with the defence of India, the change has brought about anticipation coupled with anxiety.

SERVICE CHIEFS AND DEFENCE SECRETARY MEETING THE NEW DEFENCE MIN

Notwithstanding a decade of relative peace, the three services are in a tight spot even on basic equipment and are hoping that those who criticized the Congress-led UPA will not end up bringing them back into a similar state.

Inside the service headquarters as well as its bureaucratic capital, work is on towards arriving at a date when the three chiefs and the defence secretary can apprise the new Defence Minister and the Prime Minister about the situation they find themselves in.

Following is what the forces are likely to inform the new dispensation about:

Army

The Adjutant General’s branch and the Military Operations directorate have dealt with the issue.

Beginning would be made with the shortage of equipment in almost all departments. Topping the list would in all likelihood be the much-delayed procurements of artillery guns, assault rifle, light utility helicopters to replace the Chetaks and Cheetahs as well as maintaining War Wastage Reserves (WWR), which is running low. Army, it is likely would also highlight the 20 per cent deficiency of officers it is facing.

Also important for the army will be to highlight the lack of progress as far as the infrastructural build up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is concerned. Of the 73 critical roads the army has highlighted, only 16 have been constructed. On the aspect of the strategic railway lines, no work has moved since the funding for the same has still not been decided upon.

Since General Bikram Singh is also Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), the army will address issues of tri-service nature where it is looking at personnel issues, defence reforms like better integration, appointment of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as well as reviewing of the various committees formed for defence reforms. The army will also talk about heartburn caused over the delayed implementation of One Rank One Pension and Rank Pay as well as non-representation of the armed forces in the VIIth Pay Commission.

Navy

Topping the navy’s list of woes is its dwindling submarine strength, especially at a time when Pakistan and China are both speedily acquiring and building upon their strength in the same stream.

Another aspect worrying the maritime force is the inertia over acquisition of 16 naval multirole helicopters, followed by the same over eight Mine Countermeasure Vessels (MCMVs) which were to come to the force.

“There are many things that we would like to have. But these are things that we simply don’t have and actually can’t do without,” said an officer, explaining the urgency.

The Indian Navy, which lost its diesel-powered submarine Sindhurakshak last August is rapidly heading towards a depleted underwater fleet. So much so that its much-awaited Scorpene submarine program, the first boat under which is likely to be delivered not before the end of 2016, will also end up simply compensating the loss of submarines instead of adding to the fleet.

Air Force

“On IAF’s list, maintaining the number of fighter squadrons is the top-most priority. This is followed by the concern over its dwindling air defence capability,” said a MoD insider.

The ‘mother of all defence deals’ for 126 fighters under the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) is awaiting conclusion. The IAF had declared in early 2012 its choice of the twin-engine French fighter aircraft, Rafale. Interestingly, even though the IAF has been going public with its hope of concluding cost negotiations and signing the dotted line for a while now, the MoD has remained unmoved.

With regards to the Air Defence (AD), IAF is unnerved not just by the rapidly ageing OSA-AK and Pechora systems of Russian-origin but also by the lack of adequate supply of the indigenously-developed AKASH Surface to Air Missile (SAM).

Expert Speak

Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Manmohan Bahadur, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)

“We are now down to 34 squadrons as per the Parliament’s own report and with the Mig21s being phased out, we are reducing even further. A decision on MMRCA must come and must come quick. On Air Defence, our SAMs, Pechora came in the late 60s and 70s and OSA – AK came in mostly in the 80s, they are getting life-expired. It is a void should not be allowed to go beyond a level. These two deficiencies are staring at us in the face.”

Major General (Retd), Dhruv Katoch, Director, Centre for Land and Warfare Studies (CLAWS)

“As on today, decision-making is a sphere where the armed forces are not involved. This must change. Also an appointment as important as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) needs to be no longer ignored. These are some structural changes that the forces need to press this government towards implementation.”

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2 thoughts on “IN DEPTH: What the defence forces of India seek from Modi govt”

  1. Dear jugal, A wish list as seen by most well wishers. A generic one made solely by me but could be made more specific. Should you need to use it please do. A confirmation and comments on the wish list will be greatly appreciated.Best WishesCol Anil Kaul, VrC Tasks at Hand (Immediate)(b) Ensure sanction of OROP as accepted without any further delay and without any more recourse to courts and committees.(c) Initiate immediate steps to appoint a CDS.(d) Remove all bottle necks to ensure all services are brought up to required levels of equipment and stores.(e) Initiate steps for the inclusion of the Services in the MoD and remove the tag of Attached HQ. (f) Initiate steps to include Defense Service Officers as “A” grade services.(g) Appoint a member from the Veteran fraternity on the 7th Pay Commission.(h) Revamp DESW by bringing in veterans and serving officers as required. As a corollary the DGR be brought under the ambit of service HQ.(i) Raise a Disability Cell in AG’s branch to be manned by personnel with disability Only.(j) Abolish Income tax for serving soldiers and veterans. If Freedom Fighters pensions are exempt from IT why not ours? (k) Initiate steps to establish a National War Memorial on Raj path in six months.Tasks at Hand (Short Term)(a) Initiate steps to abolish the JCO rank and upgrade all present JCO’s to Officer Rank till the shortage is made up through NDA/IMA & OTA Equivalent.(b) Improve entry level emoluments, perks and privileges to attract the young.(c) Initiate Steps towards re-designation of the Armed Forces into All Arms & Services theatre Commands. As a corollary consider implementing the concept of two year compulsory military service and TA-ization of the Armed Forces.(d) Initiate steps for indigenization of the arms industry in totality.(e) Initiate steps to reverse ballooning higher ranks by paying higher salaries to lower ranks rather than the present system.(f) Hand over AFT’s to the Ministry of Law for all purposes.(g) Initiate process for cross service training of all ranks and trades.(h) Increase intake of Women in the regular cadre and in combat arms.(i) Initiate steps for compulsory lateral movement of all ranks into PSU’s, CPO’s & CAPF’s(j) Set up an ESM commission on lines of other minority commissions with a veteran heading it.(k)Consider setting up a Armed Forces Board in line with the Railway Board with CDS as the chairman. (l) Push for more seats in the Lok Sabha arising out of bye-elections as also nomination of worthwhile veterans to the Rajya Sabha in line with other nominated categories.Tasks at Hand (Long Term)(a) Make up all officer shortages in 3 years. (b)Make up all equipment deficiencies in 3 years.(c) Make all service units NBC capable in 3 years, not on paper only. (d) Fully integrate MoD with CDS as direct head of theatre commands and abolishment of Service HQ totally in 4 years.(e) Initiate steps to include veterans as replacements in case of need, over and above the reserve liability.(f) Improve Health Care of Veterans ad remove unnecessary curbs on CSD.

    Date: Sat, 31 May 2014 10:52:05 +0000 To: vrcanilkaul@hotmail.com

  2. COMMENT ON MAIL:

    It will take a few years to sort out the mess left by the PhD MMS.

    Hopefully lesser qualified will be able to come to a more pragmatic way of dealing with this.

    Let us hope that the new government takes a hard look at the DRDO and other defence manufacturing industries and realize how much money has been wasted till date.

    I have already sent the OSD to PM the CAG report on DRDO and i hope he would also get the list of duplicated Labs that DRDO runs since same work is also been done by other Labs.Understand there are about 50 such Labs being run by DRDO.

    The ship building and repairs are in a mess.We have a sub under repairs in the Naval dockyard for 8 years now.What a shame.

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