RETHINKING MILITARY CAPABILITY AND FORCE STRUCTURING - The Daily Guardian
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RETHINKING MILITARY CAPABILITY AND FORCE STRUCTURING

We need to redefine our doctrine of conventional war fighting with leaner, meaner and agile forces that are dynamic and capable of preempting an enemy action, supported by real-time and actionable intelligence and backed by effect-based operations.

Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd.)

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India is probably the only country which faces multiple threats along our land borders which has been a consistent historical trend since ancient times. While threat from the western border has been in perpetuity, manifestation along the northern border has been a recent phenomenon. Further, if we consider the Chinese effort to isolate India along its maritime boundary, threat to India appears not only dangerous but ominous.

Chinese activities in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean Region such as development of a $1.5 billion gas and oil pipeline from Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal to Yunnan in China, development of CMEC (China Myanmar Economic Corridor), establishment of a Naval Base in Bangladesh, purchase of two submarines from China by Bangladesh, seizing control of Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka, presence in Gwadar and development of CPEC in Pakistan and establishment of military bases in Djibouti, Maldives and Seychelles have not only enlarged the presence of China globally but also added the maritime dimension of maritime threat to India. Maritime threat to India has further magnified due to Chinese effort to gain access to Iranian Chabahar and Jask ports in the Persian Gulf. Chinese effort while aiming to overcome the Malacca Dilemma also enables it to encircle India. China has also been testing waters against the US, Japan, Australia and ASEAN countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam by gradually pushing for its interests in the South and East China seas.

TABLE 2: LAND FORCES
TABLE 3 : NAVAL FORCES
TABLE 4 : AIR FORCES
TABLE 1: COMPARATIVE COMBAT POWER AND DEFENCE CAPABILITIES

MULTIPLE EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL THREATS

Security situation of India is assuming greater seriousness due to the China-Pakistan nexus disregarding existing bilateral and international treaties and laws. In this process the smaller neighbours of India are also under constant influence of China to adopt an unfriendly approach towards India. Although some of the blame for such a situation lies at the doorstep of India, the need today is to find a way to deal with the collusive threat of China and Pakistan. In addition, India also needs to take the rest of the neighbours on board before they are completely poached by China.

Internally too, the three prime trouble spots remain active i.e., Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), North East (NE) and Left Wing Extremism (LWE). This diverts considerable economic and human resources away from productive sectors of our economy. Disturbed internal security besides affecting the growth of our economy also adversely impacts on our conventional military capability development. Given the budgetary constraints due to pressing need of investments in other sectors of National Security such as economic, food, health, water and social security, we need to develop military capability that is able to respond to current and emerging challenges smartly and intelligently without depriving in any way our ability to effectively deal with the external and internal security threats. The way possibly lies not in playing the catch-up game with China in conventional capabilities but improvise our doctrine, strategy and force structuring in a manner to negate the conventional advantage enjoyed by China against India. The capability gap between our adversaries may be appreciated from the tables 1 to 4 given below.

INTER SE CAPABILITY

Comparative Data of Military Strengths: To get a comprehensive picture, capabilities of the leading defence force has also been listed in the Tables. The comparative data has been taken from Global Firepower (GFP) Website. The GFP ranking of 138 countries is based on values related to manpower, equipment, natural resources, finances, and geography represented by 50+ individual factors. The tables below list the comparative capabilities on salient parameters of India (ranked 3rd), China (2nd), Pakistan (15th) and USA (1st).

Analysis of Relative Potential: Salient deductions that can be drawn from the above data are: a) Combat firepower of our primary adversary China (0.0691) is very high vis-à-vis India (0.091) and in fact it is fast catching up with the US (0.0606). Implying an urgent need for India to bridge the gap with China in order to deter China in the conventional domain. b) Economically both in GDP and PPP terms we are lagging behind China and in PPP terms China has already surpassed the US in 2016 and is rapidly increasing the gap. In comparison India is way behind and even if it wants to catch up it cannot do so in the near future. Economic constraint directly affects military capability building. Therefore, there is a need to find smart solutions to deal with the dual security threat. Answer lies in developing smart military security strategies and accordingly appropriate capabilities to deter our adversaries. c) As far as land forces are concerned gap in mechanisation should not unduly worry us as the theatre of operations along the Northern land borders comprises rugged, uncongenial mountainous, high altitude and super high altitude areas in which foot infantry, precision fire power backed by state of the art aero-space technologies will call the shots. Quantitatively the gap being large, Indian Land forces must become leaner, agile and capable of pre-empting the adversary’s salami slicing operations such as its actions in Chumar, Depsang, Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector, Sumdrong Cho, Galwan, Hotspring, and Pangong Tso. d) Despite reforms post Kargil war India has been consistently surprised. Even the Galwan incident is attributable to intelligence failure despite a number of indicators at the strategic level. There is a need to create a reliable intelligence gathering and information operations capability so as to become proactive rather than reactive in dealing with threats emanating from adversaries. d) In the Aerospace domain too the quantitative gap is significant even if we compare the sectoral forces likely to be available to China and India along the Northern borders. Qualitatively too the Chinese enjoy a marked edge. Numerical superiority of China has to be dealt with by doctrinal changes based on new and emerging technologies ex import in short term and indigenous production in the medium to long term. India would also need to make up the gap by ramping up production of alternate firepower delivery systems such as missiles and rockets in which it possesses decent indigenous capability. e) Amongst the three services it is the Navy which can prove decisive in the future as Indian Navy enjoys tremendous indigenous development capability in Naval Systems such as Submarines, Aircraft Carriers and electronics. Further given the shared threat from China to other leading nations in the Indo-Pacific provides a scope for alliances and partnerships for example Malabar and Milan Joint Exercise Platforms. Mutual threats and interest also give an opportunity for strategic cooperation and partnerships such as Quad. f) Inadequate integration/jointness results in lack of optimisation of effects in warfighting. The institution of CDS has just been created with the task of raising Integrated Theatre Commands. However, the institution of CDS needs to be further empowered and the formation of joint structures need to be hastened and strengthened. g) Ability to deal with grey zone threats remains grey. Capability of Indian Defence Forces to deal with the grey zone and hybrid threat needs to be further refined and developed especially in the information operations, cyber space, special forces and psychological warfare.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Given the economic and technological differential between India and China innovative solutions will have to be found for our security problems. Salient capability recommendations to manage likely future security challenges are as follows:

1. India must focus on developing smart military security strategies and appropriate capabilities to implement the revised strategies to deter our adversaries. Defence alliances are not only desirable but essential to ensure military security against China. Defence alliance under an expanded Quad with armed forces of US, Japan, UK, France and Australia standing at first, fifth, sixth, seventh and 9th spot respectively may offset our force differential. For this India needs to develop its maritime capability rapidly to have a say in the proposed alliance. A logical step in this capability development would be formation of a Maritime Theatre Command. In conjunction with the proposed expanded Quad members, the alliance would provide the necessary military impact to deter China. Also it will force China to look towards the Indo-Pacific to secure its maritime interests in the Indo-Pacific and IOR. India with a central position in the Indo-Pacific can provide the necessary pivot to dominate the region. However, while orchestrating such a strategy Russia will need to be managed carefully. It will have to be convinced that the expanded Quad is a benign alliance as far as Russian interests are concerned. The other stumbling block could be Iran. India must use its influence with the US and Iran to smoothen out the differences between the US and Iran and ensure its neutrality if not support the expanded Quad.

2. As far as land forces are concerned, the answer lies in refocusing development of combat capabilities to deal with hybrid and grey zone warfare threats, while at the same time creating conventional capabilities capable of dissuading China from undertaking all out conventional operations against India. Given the financial constraints and changing threat dynamics there is a need to create agile and lean Integrated Battle Groups rather than monolithic unwieldy Strike Corps. These forces must be backed by lethal, precision fire platforms from land and air under an integrated Theatre Command. Emphasis has to be given to enlargement of Special Forces capable of responding to threats of piecemeal territorial expansionism being practised by China. Further, the outdated concept of all-out war or no war as an option to salami slicing type of threats has to give way to dealing with such threats through special operations, non-contact warfare and war by other means.

3. In the Aerospace domain the Swarm Drone Attack concepts, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, Armed Drones, utilizing Artificial Intelligence to target the enemy must become the norm. These systems need to be procured in the short term but developed in house in the medium to long term following the prototype development concept being followed by the UK and other leading armies.

4. As far as the Naval Forces are concerned they will prove decisive in any future confrontation as our Second Strike Capability will become more robust with commissioning of INS Arihant and induction of four more advanced SSBNs (S2 & S4) and six SSN of INS Chakra class into the Navy. A militarized expanded QUAD along with a robust second strike capability will provide the much needed maritime stretch to India in deterring a full blown conventional war with China. It must also quickly get its indigenous aircraft carrier commissioned to extend its influence in the IOR and in combination with Quad countries send a strategic message of caution and force it to operate in the maritime domain based on respect for international laws, bilateral treaties and not abrogate it unilaterally as it has done with India, Hong Kong, Japan and countries in South China Sea.

The institution of CDS has to be strengthened with powers to orchestrate conventional war fighting at the Strategic Level through the Theatre Commanders. He should also be able to deal with hybrid and grey zone threats by utilising special forces, technological, informational, legal and aerospace assets and resources. India must have a well-developed Strategic Support Command. It must have an Information Operations Agency (IOS), Cyber Warfare Agency (CWA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), and Special Operations Division (SOD) comprising Special Forces from Army, AF and Navy with both offensive and defensive capabilities. HQ IDS could then be scaled down to provide Secretarial HQ of the CDS. Training command of the three Services too in the medium term should get integrated into a Joint Training Command till that happens TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Wing) of the IDS should manage joint and integrated training matters. The entire gamut of psychological warfare, media management, legal warfare and information campaign must fall under the purview of the Information Operations Agency. The staffing of the Information, Cyber Operations and Intelligence agencies must also comprise professionals from the civil with passion to undertake such activities. They must be the backbone of such organisations.

CONCLUSION

The article by no stretch of imagination is suggesting that the era of all out conventional wars are over and we should only focus in the grey zone. However, the luxury of undertaking such wars more often than not will force countries to resort to a system of war-fighting that is just below the threshold of traditional wars of the past. It is also true that a military must prepare for the worst but in doing so we should also not land up in a situation where we are left with only an option of either no military action or full scale war in response to situations that are being faced by India along its northern and western borders. Moreover, economic constraints are also restricting our conventional capability development. The answer therefore lies in redefining our doctrine of conventional war fighting with leaner, meaner and agile forces that are dynamic and capable of preempting an enemy action supported by real-time and actionable intelligence and backed by effect-based operations. At the same time the country must focus on harnessing new technologies to counter hybrid and grey zone threats. Unless we innovate and become creative in our military war-fighting doctrine we will end up developing capabilities that may not bear the desired results in a future confrontation with our adversary in any format of conflict.

Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd) has served in varied terrains and theatre of operations, in India and in the UN as Military Observer. He has commanded an Infantry Battalion, Brigade and a Division in Jammu and Kashmir. He is currently Professor Emeritus Defence Studies at GujaratRaksha Shakti University. Twitter handle: @dushy40098.

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Defence

‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’

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The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

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Defence

SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI

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The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

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IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT

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An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

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ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR

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JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

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BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit

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The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

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IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US

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In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

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