Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Army vice chief criticises “insufficient” budget before Parliament committee



By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 14th March 18

Expressing grave concern at the “insufficient” allocation of funds for new weaponry, a top army general has told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence (hereafter “the Committee”) that the budget announced on February 1 “has dashed our hopes”.

A draft report by the Committee on Defence that Business Standard has reviewed notes that the army has been allocated just Rs 26,816 crore ($4.14 billion) for equipment modernisation against the Rs 44,573 crore ($6.88 billion) it had projected. That is barely 60 per cent of its request.

The navy’s and air force’s capital budget requests were slashed even more drastically. Against Rs 35,695 crore ($5.5 billion) the navy projected, it has been allocated Rs 20,004 crore ($3.1 billion), just 56 per cent of its requirement. The worst hit is the air force, which was allocated Rs 35,770 crore ($5.52 billion) against its projection of Rs 77,695 crore ($12 billion), barely 45 per cent of its needs.

Services capital budget: requests versus demands

(Rupees crore)
Head
2016-17
2017-18
2018-19

Projected
Allocated
Projected
Allocated
Projected
Allocated
Army
37,960
17,206
42,486
25,246
44,573
26,816
Navy
30,223
12,614
27,546
18,604
35,695
20,004
IAF
41,266
23,770
62,049
33,570
77,695
35,770
(Source: Draft report of Parliament Standing Committee on Defence)

The defence committee is chaired by Major General BC Khanduri (Retired) and includes 21 Lok Sabha and eight Rajya Sabha members. These include heavyweights like former prime minister HD Devegowda, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalraj Mishra, Ambika Soni and Subramanian Swamy.

Deposing before them, the army’s vice chief, Lieutenant General Sarath Chand, said “the marginal increase in BE (budgetary estimates) barely accounts for inflation and does not even cater for the taxes.” Chand was apparently referring to the new Goods and Services Tax (GST), which has placed an added load on the defence budget.

Typically, the three services submit their projections in the third quarter of each year, for which they add up “committed liabilities” (annual instalments due on purchases previously made) and “new schemes”, for which the calculate the first instalment on new acquisitions likely in the coming year.

But Chand deposed before the Committee that the army’s capital allocation this year “is insufficient even to cater for committed payment of Rs 29,033 crore ($4.48 billion) for 125 on-going schemes, emergency procurements, 10(I) (or the urgent procurement of ammunition for 10 days of intense war) and other DGOF (director general ordnance factory) requirements.”

Further, Chand stated: “Committed liabilities of 2017 which will also get passed on to 2018 will further accentuate the situation… [and] will hardly leave any funds for new schemes in 2018-19.”

This is of serious concern, he said, given the state of army equipment. “Typically, any modern Armed Force (sic) should have one-third of forces, one-third of its equipment in the vintage category, one-third in the current category and one-third in the state of the art category. As far as we are concerned, the state today is 68 per cent of our equipment is in the vintage category, with just about 24 per cent in the current, and eight per cent in the state of the art category”, Chand told the Committee.

The army’s vice chief stated that, leave alone fresh capital acquisition, the prime minister’s vision of “Make in India”, which focused on greater indigenisation, would be badly affected. “We in the army have identified as many as 25 projects for Make in India. However, there is not adequate Budget to support this. As a result of which, many of these may end up foreclosed”, said Chand.

High value and prestigious projects to indigenously develop a Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) and a Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) were also likely to be scuppered by a lack of funds. Chand said “with the kind of Budget that has been allocated, this may get delayed by a few years. I am not sure what is going to be their future.”

The pared down capital allocations this year are not a one-off case. A summary of previous years’ projections and actual allocations illustrates that this has been the pattern of the past as well.

As in previous years, the Committee has called on the government to remedy the situation. The draft report notes: “The Committee opine that keeping in view the likely cost escalation due to inflation, [the increase over last year’s budget] is quite minimal to meet requirements of Capital acquisition and other works planned for 2018-19. Therefore, the Committee would like the Ministry of Defence to strongly put its case before the Ministry of Finance for adequate allocation of funds, commensurate with the requirement of Modernisation and acquisition plans for 2018-19 (sic).”


14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree India needs to modernise or face defeat.
I have argued elsewhere Army numbers need to be reduced to about 150,000 high tech troops supported by the most advanced equipment money can buy. Our Air Force and missile system is going to be the key to modern warfare.
Our state police and Central forces can be the reserve and take up the slack. (Para military forces outside the defence budget). In our present state our army is no more than a poorly armed glorified militia. Broadsword is right the army pension budget will always be an albatross around the army’s neck with such large unnecessary numbers.
China had a similar problem the PLA had become huge, ineffective not in sync with the 21st Century.
Xi Jinping has been reorganising the PLA into a considerably smaller and a more technological advanced army.
Cutting numbers was met by resistance (as it will in India if it ever happens).
Xi Jinping sacked COAS Gen Fang along with The Dir of the political department, Zhang Yang.
Dissent to Xi Jinping changes have been ruthlessly crushed, criminal curruption charges were brought against influential generals and dozens of PLA top brass were forcible retired, huge numbers of cuts to personnel in the PLA are underway.
The purge/reorganisation of the PLA, the clearing of deadwood is well understood and supported by the new PLA management, large number of young Officers who are technologically savvy, have been promoted and empowered with authority to make PLA wide changes.
New Officer Cadets with a technological education are being recruited from the Chinese top universities and trained in leadership and warfare. These officers are being placed in fast track streams for accelerated promotion.
The PLA reorganisation and modernisation will gave equal priority to its Western Theatre Command and Xi has sought PLA integration with Pakistan’s defence plans. Last September the PAF and PLAAF conducted joint exercises in the Chinese mainland, which included joint logistics and maintenance of aircraft, just one example to illustrate their collaboration, which extends to a number of other spheres.
In all probability China within the next decade will help Pakistan build a Iron Dome as a deterrent against India’s nuclear weapons ( China has started work on its own Dome) if successful then the region will be back to the old style of conventional war which General Sunderji nearly ignited and which General Panag recently discusses in his writings.
All foreign invasions of India throughout its history have come from the West, except for, of course the Europeans who came by sea as humble traders.
As China and Pakistan get closer, Heavily indebted Pakistan is becoming it seems, a vassal state of China. The Himalayan mountain wall will no longer protect India.
The future Chinese invasion will come from the West. Why should the enemy attack through the mountain wall when it can simply transport troops and armour via Highway, from Tibet into its ally Pakistan’s territory ?
China will land invasion armies by sea and by road on to the Pakistani plains, before declaring war.
With total air superiority the technological advanced Chinese Air and land forces will fight a high tech war unlike any other.
Chinese tanks invading from Pakistan, will sweep into the Indian flatlands like a knife goes through butter. Missiles will destroy Indian armour from the air. (Think Saddam’s army retreat from Kuwait). The bravery of Indian officers and Jawans of our million strong army will be of no use, nor will it be of any relevance.
The Pakistani Military Force will be the occupying force and they will disarm the remnants of India’s million strong WW2 equipped Army along with other para military forces.
Eventually peace will be forced upon India by China, on her own terms.
One of India’s previous retired chiefs were seen pictured in RSS uniform
This image says it all, no doubt when war eventually comes we will also see the present Army Chief posing in his own Khaki pants, boasting India is ready to fight a war in two and a half fronts.

Anonymous said...

First the picture if of Pakistan army.
Our govt process to buy and maintain equipment is stupid. Known.
But all the brilliant UPSC pass officers and Politicians are not interested in solving it. Sad state of affairs.

Anonymous said...

It is known that the arms procurement process is broken. There was also a report by ministry of defence.
But all the brilliant UPSC babus and vocal MPs and ministers do not seem to be interested in solving it.
Sad state of affairs.

Puneet said...

Once upon a time Indian Navy use to have short of fund and was last in priority in fund allocation but Indian Navy evolved themself and now is in the forefront of indigenisation.
Free hand to the Army to buy best hardwares available in international market is the biggest hurdle in indigenisation. Sqeeze them a little and definetly they will repeat Navy's success story.

Alok Asthana said...

The nation has been warned. But, then, it has been warned in the past too. Who cares. They'll care only when 1962 repeats itself. And defeat doesn't necessarily mean Pak/Chinese tanks in Delhi. Already many more are dying than should. People are being sent to do a task with inadequate training and equipment, in all combat forces. Yesterday, CRPF lost 9 soldiers when a mine-protected vehicle blew up on an IED, on a road which had been sanitised just an hour back.
Who killed these 9 bravehearts? Naxals or the Govt of India? Hope some family member of the martyrs sues the government.

anonymous said...

Really thoughtful. But our WW2 equipped fauj will still do it for us. Govts. Have always been and always will continue to under fund the armed forces. The US armed forces also feel the same way.

Battle of Britain and longewalla were won by sheer grit and not technology.

Anonymous said...

Dear Colonel

thats a picture from a Pakistani Op.
i.e you are looking at a Pakistani Soldier and a Pakistani Mil17 operated by the Pakistan Army.

See tail and serial Number.

Jean Luc Picard said...

The picture in the article is of the Pakistan Army.

1. IAF does not paint its Mi17 helicopters with desert camoflague patterns.

2. India Army soldiers wear a more darker green variety of camoflague. This deserty camoflague 'was used' by the pakistan army up until OP Rah e Nijjat . Now they have shifted to a digital pattern a bit greener than the USMC Desert camoflague pattern.

3. The soldier is wearing desert colored combat boots which only Indian Para SF units have been seen wearing and that too only in one yudh abhyas excersize which happened in mahajan field ranges.

Lets avoid such amatuer mistakes being made.

I understand the article is about the shortfall of funds in the Indian Army.

Is somebody else editing your articles ? If yes then they need to be educated.

Jean Luc Picard said...

One more point....

4. The helicopter's tail says ARMY. There are no Mi Series helicopters with the Indian Army. Certainly no Mi8 or Mi17s.

Please lets not have this mistake again. Thanks.

Jean Luc Picard said...

Im beginning to doubt BJPs dedication towards building a strong military. Some points :

1. No single person appointed as defence minister. So far 3 defence ministers in 4 years.

2. Defence minister runs away to GoA. Moral : GOA is more important that defence of India.

3. No review of nuclear policy.

4. First indicator of the PM'S lack of seriousness towards defence was not Appointing General VK Singh as defence minister. Gen VK singh would have been a technocrat, he did and still enjoys popular majority in his constituency. He has done excellent work in External Affairs. Three times his name has not come up for defence minister.

4. Chief of Defence staff is still sitting on the CCS's desk. No decision has been taken.

5. Defence budget has not been raised despite funds being available. And new tax payers added to the system.

What is BJP thinking ? Do they not want votes from the military community ?

Anonymous said...

I think we need to,change recruitment policy for government workers , state and central. All will be recruited only from army afte 15-20 years of service minimum . They need to discharged honourably. There is no harm in hiring 35-40 year old for office job. This will solve pension problem and discipline issue.

Jean Luc Picard said...

What PLA This, PLA That ?

Have you seen the PLA Defence budget ? ... in 2016 it was 215 Billion USD. And we were at 55 Bn.USD.

The PLA Ground Force still has 1.6 Million men , while india has 1.2 mill. Men.

In any battle they will have superiority of manpower and firepower.

And your amatuer 150000 high tech soldiers and missile systems will be chewed and spat out. The only thing that keeps the chinese in check is our numbers. Or we would become another taiwan.

And lets not forget pakistan army which is another capable foe. If high tech won wars then afghanistan would not be under the control of the Taliban. No amount of stealth and high tech etc can replace trained spirited determined armed men.

And dont try and tell the army how to cost cut. Given the pocket change they are being paid they are doing an extremely good job.

Instead of asking them to cut costs, raise your voice to increase their defence budget.

For gods sake, its already the most cost effective force on the planet. Its got one foot on Pakistan Army neck and kicked it in the face 4 times, its hands have pushed PLAs face away from Dokhlam all by itself. Even the americans dont fight PLA alone.

Its the best fighting force on the planet. It may look old but its the best.

For its size, its two other contemporaries spend 4 to 11 times to what we pay. We have already stopped rations for them and their families, what more do you want to cut ??

All they are asking is just 3% of GDP. Which is not bad for a developping economy like us.

We are not china whose GDP is so high that 1.9 % means 215 billion.

Even saudi arabia and russia spend 10% and 5% of their GDP on defence.

And the RSS pic you are talking abouts was a morphed fake pic. Whixh is why it never made the news headlines.

Anonymous said...

Well written article Ajai, but what is missing is what exactly are the committed liabilities that the army is talking about? and how much of the revenue funds are being used for the so called emergency route? the vice chief is himself empowered to make purchases and they are using it to the hilt which in a way is cutting through the red tape. the ammunition consumption would have spiked as the borders are hot so replenishing is not easy. higher defence budget is difficult as we cannot increase at a rate higher than our growth rate. even the americans will ask for higher budget so that for me is not the main issue. we need the report to be tabled and published for a better analysis.

speciallov said...

Is that a PAKISTANI ARMY soldier on the heading of this article ? You are known to be very clever with pictures, but perhaps this is a bit too much. I am sorry if I am wrong.