Tuesday, 7 January 2014

End this planning vacuum. India must appoint a tri-service chief now.


As the senior most service chief, General Bikram Singh is now Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee. Can he run the army and also tri-service planning? The answer is "No"

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 7th Jan 13

That the defence of India is ill-considered, inefficient and fiscally wasteful is hardly a secret. Even so, the raising of a Rs 64,000 crore mountain strike corps to deter Chinese adventurism on the 4,057-kilometre Line of Actual Control (LAC) is almost as imprudent as the proposed purchase of 126 Rafale fighters from France for an estimated Rs 1,08,000 crore (see the detailed financial analysis in the post below this one).

Adding 80,000 troops to an already bloated army will suck away money from equipment modernisation. It will underline our 19th century outlook where bayonets count for more than firepower. With existing army formations on the LAC desperately short of modern artillery, aircraft-borne fire support, surveillance equipment, helicopters and all-weather roads for quick redeployment to counter battlefield threats, the army brass has --- incredibly --- chosen to raise yet another under-equipped strike formation that has no roads to strike along.

The army will argue that it needs boots on the ground quickly, while equipment and roads will follow in due course. But where will the money for that come from, when more than 70 per cent of the army’s revenue budget goes on salaries, leaving so little for capital expenditure that 96 per cent of the capital budget goes on instalments for equipment bought during preceding years.

Why has the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government okayed a Rs 64,000 crore mountain strike corps? Either Finance Minister P Chidambaram is confident enough of meeting his fiscal responsibility goals to commit to raising the defence budget by Rs 40-50,000 crore next year, the minimum figure required for paying the accumulating bills. Alternatively, he and his colleague, Defence Minister AK Antony, might have calculated that raising a strike corps would make the UPA look strong on national defence; the next government could handle the fiscal repercussions.

And how has the military condoned such a fiscally unviable measure? Given the traditional turf battles between armies, navies and air forces the world over, a zero-sum game in which each seeks to expand its demesne and funding, the generals could be expected to argue for another corps. With it would come one more three-star post, three two-star posts, and numerous one-star vacancies. Amongst the world’s major armies, only India’s short-sighted army is expanding; and within the country, it is the only organisation that is steadily growing top-heavier, especially in general officers. During the last decade, the army created a command headquarters (South Western Command, in Jaipur) and a corps headquarters (9 Corps, in Yol), allocating them troops from existing formations for “more effective command”.

Earlier, as the army hunkered down in J&K, it raised a star-studded command structure for its 65-odd Rashtriya Rifles battalions. These included five division-sized formations, each headed by two-star major generals (called Romeo, Delta, Victor, Kilo and Uniform Force), with more than a dozen brigade-sized formations under them. The same thing happened in the northeast with the Assam Rifles. For good measure, two new regular army divisions were raised in 2008-2010, with some 40,000 soldiers for the defence of Arunachal Pradesh.

All this has provided martial careers to India’s youth and more general-rank vacancies to army officers. Yet this also ensures that the army falls steadily behind the navy and air force in equipment modernisation. The figures tell the tale --- the capital allocations to the three services this year are --- army: Rs 17,883 crore; navy: Rs 24,149 crore; air force: Rs 39,208 crore. In percentage terms, the army spends just 18 per cent of its budget on new equipment; the navy spends 66.5 per cent; while the air force spends 68.5 per cent.

Such disparities are inevitable without tri-service coordination, and with the army, navy and air force locked in a fratricidal battle for resources and turf. The proposal for a mountain strike corps should have been vetted by a tri-service headquarters, headed by a chief of defence staff (CDS) as proposed by a Group of Ministers in 2001; or by a permanent chairman, chiefs of staff committee (COSC), as proposed by the Naresh Chandra Task Force last year. The CDS/COSC would have evaluated the financial implications for all three services of raising a strike corps; and war-gamed whether better deterrence could be achieved through other means, like pooling tri-service firepower, or synergising intelligence resources like satellite and signals intelligence. Would better results be achieved by a comparable funding of India’s programme to build a network of 73 strategic border roads, which would permit currently isolated units to switch locations quickly to confront a building threat. Finally, a CDS/COSC would have considered whether a mature nuclear deterrent eliminates the need for a mountain strike corps. Given that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal emboldened it to occupy Indian territory in Kargil, it should have been asked why India’s nuclear triad fails to reassure us even within our own territory.

In November, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reminded top military commanders to “cut our coat according to our cloth”, hinting that annual 15 per cent defence procurement budget hikes are no longer assured. The days are over when army, navy and air force could plan in isolation, duplicating capabilities within their respective silos instead of planning jointly to optimise resources. India’s political leadership has listened too long to those who warn in whispers against creating an empowered general who can influence all three services. Putting off the appointment of a CDS or a Chairman COSC simply costs too much. 

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

how... tyagi... kapoor... ex-nanda... bigger... bigger bribe... bettering... excellence... execution... each scam... got spine... feel the chill down...

Anonymous said...

Ajai-baba, India main logon ko topi lagaane ki paramparaa ek hi political party ko hai! Ab dusri party bhi aam-aadmi ko topi lagaane ki puree tayaari main hai! Dekhtein hain ye Indians (aam-aadmi) kitni topiyaan bardaasht kar paateh hain! The only good thing in India is that the people are changing their outlook and tired of wearing "topis" as that has gone out of fashion, unfortunately its still fashionable in villages, where most of India still lives, for them defence is all about number of soldiers "cannon-fodder", since they produce kids to work as laborers, if one kid becomes "cannon fodder", it is matter of great pride and financial upliftment.

R K said...

Dear Mr Shukla,

I downloaded a copy of the image you have uploaded for my personal record. Hope you won't mind.

Wanted to have a copy of the picture of "worst trinity" of military leaders in India.Future generations and my students will learn a lot from the picture.

Best

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is fair to compare the capital expenditure of Army with the capital expenditure of the Air force or the Navy. Naval platform are extremely technical and are incredibly costly, same is the caes with the Air Force that needs to buy new fighter aircraft every 20 years to keep up with the technological changes.
the Army on the other hand has very low end requirements like NVGs, BPJs, artillery etc which are cheap compared to the cost of a frigate or a fighter jet.

Anonymous said...

We spend too less on defence already. Not a good that our government cuts this to ensure the favourite schemes of meats get through.

Anonymous said...

Finally someone could rise above the ordinary and say the truth which is inconvenient to many. Raise more formations so that there are more Generals. And, its a shame that we can count the number of Generals who has contibuted to the art of war fighting on our fingertips. And please, the term Generals also include Air Marshals and Admirals too. We are still stuck in the 20th century and all our preparation is to counter the enemy's move in the last war.

It has become important for this country to lay down a limit as to how much of the defence budget should go towards R&D, procurement of new weapon systems, maintainence of the existing equipment and lastly expenditure incurred just to let our defence forces exist. Only when there is something like this laid down will our so-called 'Higher Defence Organisation' to include the politicians and bureaucrats pay heed to the modernisation of the armed forces especially the Army.

Anonymous said...

from seven commands the army must grow to 10 commands from 15 corps to 20 corps from one msc to three msc from 1.3 million to over 2 million. FROM 450 INFANTRY TO 800 BATTLIONS OVER 100 TANK REGIMENTS AND 200 ARTILLARY REGIMENTS WITH OVER 4500 155MM GUNS TOWED , LIGHT AND MOUNTED .
from lt gens in three grades new ranks of col gen and three serving field marshals
one for eastern theatre of forces and one for western and a chief of army staff also a field marshal next in line with the defence minister . As indias economy grows from 2 trillion to 10 trillion dollars by 2025 the def budget from 40 billion to 200 billion dollars the army will have sufficient funds in the next 10 years to be a fast formidable equipment oriented army with vast reources and manpower for not only china and pakistan but in other areas of interst . only the economy must grow 9 percent with occasionaly over 10 to 12 percent for all these to materialise .The army must be open to change , TOTAL INTEG OF IT , LOGISTICS , TECHINICAL AND OTHER RESOURCES . THE LOCAL INDUSTRY AND DRDO MUST BE MESHED FOR RESULTS . THE BEST CHANGE WOULD BE TOTAL IMPLEMENTATION OF NARESH CHANDRA COMMITEE REFORMS AND RECOMENDATIONS .

Mathew Dallas said...

Splendid!

Hari Sud (M.S., B. Sc., P Eng.) said...

Do not believe in everything this lead paper says. The Strike Corp is badly needed to stop the Chinese from capturing Tawang in near or long future. Chinese have expressed their desire to grab Tawang one way or the other.

Col Shukla should know that there is a four thousand miles of Himalayas to be defended. Because the peaks and valleys rise from 7,000 feet to 21,000 feet, these can only be defended mainly by boots on the ground, not by fire power or by surveillance equipment. The latter two augment the effectiveness of the boots on the ground.

I will have tough time trying to justify what Col Shukla has written. When push comes to shove, and as the Chinese in their many forays on the Indian side in 2013 had made it plain that they sooner or later would make a permanent home in the Indian territory. Surveillance will detect them but will not evict them. It is the boots with a rifle in hand will go ahead and take the Chinese on.

Yes, mountain artillery has been ordered; Col Shukla knows about it. Within a year, it will be in Indian hands. A few bureaucrats and interested arms dealers have been making presentations against M777, delaying the whole process. Bribery shy Defence Ministry is taking every step with care. Otherwise these artillery pieces would have been in Indian hands a year back.

Your percentage of monies on modernization of Army, Navy and Air Force are a suspect. Nor that the figures are incorrect, but truth of the matter is that Army has been equipped and trained for the Western front. It is more than a match for Pakistan (that is what the Prime minister said recently), hence lesser hardware is needed by them (a few items like night fighting hardware, special forces hardware etc. besides). Air Force and Navy have been deficient for ages. These shortages are being redressed now.

This lead paper has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Broadsword said...

@ Hari Sud

I think you are at the stage where you should read, absorb facts, learn how war is fought... and only then start purveying your wisdom on my blog.

Firstly, you are plain and simply wrong when you write that the Chinese have "expressed their desire to grab Tawang one way or the other." The Chinese have never, ever expressed such an intent. Rather, they have repeatedly said that the border dispute should be resolved through dialogue and that peace must be maintained until that happens.

Starting from such a fallacious position, you then go on to display your ignorance about war fighting. The higher the altitude, the more difficult the terrain, the more important it is to have firepower delivered externally, since the soldier has severe limitations on what he can carry.

Your pompous pronouncement like "Col Shukla should know that there is 4000 miles of Himalaya to be defended" is wrong. Go and check your figures again and educate yourself.

Don't try and preach to me about what and how much needs to be defended. Unlike you, I spent 26 years actually wearing the uniform and defending the country!

Mountain artillery has NOT been ordered. By now, I suppose, I should no longer be surprised by the way you distort facts.

Stop posting. Just read and learn.

Anonymous said...

Col Shukla,

Sir,

That reply of yours to @Hari Sud was rather uncharacteristically sharp! :(

Anonymous said...

How can a Swiss sales agent become our Air Force Chief? Disgusting, shameful and pathetic.

Anonymous said...

In a fair an ideal world Gen VK Singh would be triservices chief and Browne would be booted.

Hari Sud (M.S., B. Sc., P Eng.) said...

Publish this reply...


Col Shukla; You are stung by my criticism. I am glad with that. Being a blogger; you should expect criticism or as an alternative stick with “Business Standard” and save yourself from the criticism.

Do not try to teach me; We are not talking military tactics which you learnt in your 26 years of glorious service in the army. In your blogs, where you act as a journalist, we are not talking about military tactics (...are we?) we are talking about layman view of Himalaya’s defence. My point, which you chose to ignore in your blurb, was that – are boots on the ground more important or firepower/Surveillance in the Himalayan heights. We can differ and you can pull a rank on me by being an ex Lt. Colonel in the army. I can pull a rank on you of myself being a strategic analyst and think tank member in North America for forty four years. Strategy is one word which is not synonymous to military only, it is a methodology which leads to achieving goals including military and business.

Would you like me to read to you B. Raman’s papers and many other writers who had reported since the Chinese ambassador to India said in 2009 that Tawang is Chinese goal in Southern Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh). How much more would you like to hear about their intent.

Again you read it wrong, I did not say M777 has arrived or have been ordered. I said that decision shy Defence Minister and his bureaucracy is taking too long.

My mistake that I incorrectly said 4,000 miles. We are used to miles in North America. I should have said kilometers. But you tried to make fun of me for this error.

If you are not aware; after my retirement from business, I used to write for UPI Asia, Diplomat, The Pioneer newspaper etc.. I have four hundred papers to my credit. These have been translated in 11 different languages. My papers are standard reading at London School of Economics, US Naval School. Some of these have been collected and published in a voluminous book – “Essays on Political & Diplomatic Realism”. It is available on internet book stores.

I am not apologising for whatever I said. I have a different point of view. As a blogger you should accept it or get out of blogging completely. Take criticism gracefully.

Anonymous said...

A very good article with excellent analysis. If we are the only nation whose armed forces keep expanding, there must be something wrong in our planning/ visualisation of future warfare. Yet we as a nation need to allocate adequate funds to improve our performance in basic HR indices. So a manpower intensive army may not be ideal, but it could be necessary to provide jobs and some security. However, in future, we must cut down on the size and built up on the technology; cyber warfare, space warfare, information warfare capabilities would be the essential aspects of power.
Could you cover the Indian Armed forces roadmap/ vision on these issues in one of your articles, just a request.

Broadsword said...

@ Hari Sud

As a blogger, I absolutely do expect alternative views and, as you can see on almost every thread, I do not hesitate to publish even the most critical. What you need to understand is that, as someone with a fondness for posting on blogs, you had better be prepared for some criticism yourself. Or do you believe that the blogger has no right of response?

Secondly, if you go back and read my article again, you will discover that it is not about tactics, but about defence economics. It is you who is reducing it to tactics (about which you know nothing either) with your ridiculous statement that boots on the ground matter more than firepower. That is the case only in football matches.

In war, firepower kills the enemy, not boots. Deployment a long line of under-equipped soldiers on the border is suitable for stopping smuggling. To stop the PLA, you need strong, dispersed posts covering the lines of ingress, and heavy firepower to support them. Chew on that.

I'm sure you're a great analyst. So is my barber. I don't care how many languages your "papers" have been translated into, your views on the subject under discussion are in the universal language of nonsense.

Finally, I an not an ex-lieutenant colonel. I am an ex-colonel. Yet another fact that you have gotten wrong!


Anonymous said...

The Famed... M777... hasn't matched... Indian/Russian H/W... Mountain Warfare... Specs... what use... fire... shell falls... mothers door step...

Capt. S.R. Bhate said...

Dear Sir,
What you are saying is absolutely true. Politicians are lost in this subject so, Babus and military leaders take the nation for a ride. Trimming the 'fat', improving the tooth to tail ratio and modernizing is the only way to go. China realised this long time ago when they suffered heavy losses in Korean war and then again is a short encounter with Vietnam later. When will we learn?

Anonymous said...

Broadsword, your recent replies are kind of reminding me of another popular blogger who I will not name here, LOL. As a fence sitter on this one, I actually thought you and hari both made valid points. Could the truth be somewhere in between?

bp singh said...

Ajay Sir i think that the China is showing prowess by entering into our territory twice and stayed for couple of days and withdrawn on its own with some riders which needs to be replied in a befitting manner. As regards corruption in our country if it is curtailed then there will be no problem in the financing the raising of strike corps.Therefore it should be taken in good gesture.
I appreciate your blogging and i must have read many of them if not all of them.I would further say you should be more focused in your blogging.India is the great country and it should be ever prepared for any challenge from external aggression effectively

.

Anonymous said...

Yahoooooo Yipee the cavalry cad is at it again...his secret fear ..which he does not state is that the entire expansion is in infantry dominated formations so in the era of 'Mandalisation' the brahmin cavalry will sit on their rusting tanks between Patiala and Pokhraran marginalised by the Godsent prorata....bhai kahani hamesha prorata ka hai ? And why now these articles...so that a certain cavalryman can step in and change everythin...
Luv n kisses MUDBLOOD

Anonymous said...

WITH A GROWING INDIAN ECONOMY AND ASPIRATIONS FOR A UN SECURITY COUNCIL SEAT, BOOTS ON THE GROUND FOR PAK CHINA AND UN MISSIONS PLUS FOR INSURGENCIES REQUIRE INCREASE OF MANPOWER . THE COLS , MAJS CAPTS , JCOS , NCOS CANNOT BE PURCHASED IN THE ARMS BAZAAR.THEY REQUIRE YEARS OF TRAINING NURTURING ,EXPIERANCE AND TOURS OF DUTY IN MOUNTAINS , GLACIERS , JUNGLES AND DESERTS OF INDIA . NO DOUBT THE ARMY IS HOPELESSLY EQUIPPED WITH OUTDATED PERSONNEL CLOTHING EQUIPMENT , WEAPONS GUNS , ARTILLARY , COMBAT VEHICLES , TANKS AND ENG EQUIP. THE MSC NOT ONE BUT THREE ARE REQUIRED. A DEDICATED OVERHAUL OF THE BABU LED MOD IS REQUIRED AND AM SURE WITHIN 7 TO 10 YRS THE ARMY CAN EASILY BE EQUIPPED TO WORLD CLASS STANDARDS . ONLY THE
OLDFASHIONED GENERALS AND OFFICER CADRE HAS TO CHANGE ITS THINKING. ONCE THE CAPITAL BUDGET OF ARMY IS RAISED FROM 18 TO 25 TO 30% THE ARMY WILL HAVE SUFFCIENT FUNDS FOR MODERNISATION . LIKE THE AIRFORCE AND NAVY THE ARMY OFFICERS HAVE TO IMPROVE AND CHANGE THE SELECTION AND TESTING PROCEDURES WHICH ARE OUTDATED , LABORIOUSAND TIME CONSUMING .

raw13 said...

What % of IA is currently being used for CI/CT, guarding the borders, etc...? What with rotations, training and a large tail, could it be that IA is running short of actual fighting manpower?