India — Jointness For The Armed Forces — Indian Perspective

Gen Chakra­vorty talks of Syn­er­gy and Joint­ness in the Indi­an con­text. He cites exten­sive­ly, exam­ples from recent glob­al his­to­ry. We must look at the Amer­i­can and the UK expe­ri­ence of inte­grat­ing their armed forces. The first step is the issue of Defence Pol­i­cy Guide­line. The US Sec­re­tary of Defence issues a Defence Pol­i­cy Guide­line which includes nation­al secu­ri­ty objec­tives. The Con­gress passed the Gold­wa­ter Nichols Act in 1986. The act reor­gan­ised the US Depart­ment of Defence (DoD), plac­ing more author­i­ty with the Sec­re­tary of Defence, the Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the the­atre com­man­ders. The aim was to bring all forces under the the­atre com­man­ders to ensure uni­fied appli­ca­tion of the full range of mil­i­tary pow­er to meet nation­al objec­tives and poli­cies, the pri­or­i­ties of mil­i­tary mis­sions and the avail­abil­i­ty of resources.

This arti­cle is pub­lished with the kind per­mis­sion of “Defence and Secu­ri­ty Alert (DSA) Mag­a­zine” New Del­hi-India

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Napoleon was prob­a­bly the first mil­i­tary com­man­der who under­stood the need for a com­bined arms bat­tle. He syn­er­gised the employ­ment of cav­al­ry, infantry and artillery while con­duct­ing oper­a­tions which result­ed in vic­to­ry for the French in many bat­tles. The First World War wit­nessed the intro­duc­tion of the tank and air pow­er. Pos­si­bly the war was the har­bin­ger of joint­ness between the ser­vices. The Sec­ond World War was the occa­sion for joint oper­a­tions. Oper­a­tion ‘Over Lord’ was pos­si­bly the biggest joint oper­a­tion launched in the his­to­ry of war­fare. The oper­a­tion com­menced on 6 June 1944 with the land­ings at the beach­es of Nor­mandy by Allied Forces oper­at­ing under Gen­er­al Dwight Eisen­how­er. The amphibi­ous assault was pre­ced­ed by an air assault by 12,000 air­craft, the flotil­la com­prised of 7,000 ships and the land­ings involved 1,60,000 troops. The coun­tries which par­tic­i­pat­ed in the oper­a­tions were Cana­da, UK, USA, Bel­gium, Greece, Nether­lands and Nor­way. The beach heads were secured and the break out result­ed in the cap­ture of Paris on 25 August 1944 and the Ger­man retreat across the Seine Riv­er. Post World War II peace last­ed for about a decade and a half. The year 1950 saw the North Kore­ans attack­ing South Korea. Dur­ing this cam­paign, Gen­er­al Dou­glas McArthur launched the famous Inchon land­ings which was again a joint oper­a­tion exe­cut­ed with mil­i­tary pre­ci­sion lead­ing to the vic­to­ry of US forces in Sep­tem­ber 1950. The Viet­nam War her­ald­ed the era of Air Land bat­tles. The strik­ing com­par­i­son between the Bat­tle of Dien Bien Phu and the bat­tle of Khe Sanh brings out how joint­ness can make a deter­mined force vic­to­ri­ous in oper­a­tions. The bat­tle of Dien Bien Phu was fought between the French and the North Viet­namese from 13 March to 07 May 1954. The French were defeat­ed as they made lim­it­ed use of their joint fire­pow­er resources. On the con­trary in the bat­tle of Khe Sanh (21 Jan­u­ary to 08 April 1968), the Marines held on to the posi­tion due to the joint use of fire pow­er from the air and ground. Apart from the artillery US forces had 377 sor­ties per day being under­tak­en by 2,000 air­planes as also attacks by 3,300 heli­copters (UH-1, Hueys). This dev­as­tat­ing fire­pow­er result­ed in extreme­ly heavy casu­al­ties which com­pelled the North Viet­namese to call off the offen­sive on Khe Sanh.

Despite the need for oper­a­tional joint­ness each ser­vice in the US to guard their turf pre­ferred to remain as indi­vid­ual enti­ties. Being a nation where strate­gic think tanks are respect­ed for their dis­pas­sion­ate views, the Con­gress passed the Gold­wa­ter Nichols Act in 1986. The act reor­gan­ised the US Depart­ment of Defence (DoD), plac­ing more author­i­ty with the Sec­re­tary of Defence, the Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the the­atre com­man­ders. The aim was to bring all forces under the the­atre com­man­ders to ensure uni­fied appli­ca­tion of the full range of mil­i­tary pow­er to meet nation­al objec­tives. Gen­er­al Col­in Pow­ell, Chair­man Joint Chiefs of Staff of USA stat­ed through a mes­sage on 11 Novem­ber 1991 that, ‘Joint War­fare is team war­fare. When a team takes to the field, indi­vid­ual spe­cial­ists come togeth­er to achieve a team win. So it is when the Armed Forces of the Unit­ed States go to war. We must win every time. Every sol­dier must take the bat­tle­field believ­ing his or her unit is best in the world. Every pilot must take off believ­ing there is no one bet­ter in the sky. Every sailor stand­ing watch must believe there is no bet­ter ship at sea. Every marine must hit the beach believ­ing that there are no bet­ter infantry men in the world. But they all must also believe that they are part of a team, a joint team, that fights togeth­er to win. This is our his­to­ry, this is our tra­di­tion, this is our future.’

Need for joint­ness

The need for joint­ness has arisen due to the cur­rent dynam­ics while under­tak­ing oper­a­tions. Tech­nol­o­gy has rev­o­lu­tionised war­fare by pro­vid­ing us real time Bat­tle­field Trans­paren­cy as also enhanc­ing range and pre­ci­sion of weapon sys­tems. The cur­rent bat­tle space is filled with advanced sur­veil­lance and tar­get acqui­si­tion devices like Long Range Recon­nais­sance and Obser­va­tion Sys­tem (LORROS), Bat­tle Field Sur­veil­lance Radars (BFSRs), Weapon Locat­ing Radars (WLRs), Sound Rang­ing Sys­tems, Unmanned Aer­i­al Vehi­cles (UAVs), Unmanned Com­bat Aer­i­al Vehi­cles (UCAVs), Recon­nais­sance, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Nav­i­ga­tion Satel­lites which pro­vide an increased degree of trans­paren­cy to the bat­tle­field. These devices could be pro­vid­ing inputs to all three ser­vices and there­by need to be inte­grat­ed. This has been fur­ther accen­tu­at­ed by long range and pre­cise Fire­pow­er. The Tom­a­hawk cruise mis­siles were fired against Al Qae­da camps in Afghanistan as also against tar­gets in Libya and Sudan. These sur­gi­cal strikes were car­ried out from naval plat­forms, passed through the medi­um of air, were guid­ed by space based assets and struck tar­gets on land. These mis­siles were pro­cured by the Navy, guid­ed by the assets of US Air Force and con­tributed to land war­fare against uncon­ven­tion­al adver­sary. Fur­ther cur­rent­ly we are oper­at­ing in a net­work cen­tric envi­ron­ment where there is inte­gra­tion between the sen­sor, the com­mand ele­ments and the shoot­er. This entails coor­di­na­tion of all ele­ments of the three ser­vices to degrade / destroy tar­gets. By joint­ness we are able to suc­cess­ful­ly fight Air-Land bat­tles, Sea-Air bat­tles, Sea-Air and Land bat­tles dig­i­tal­ly there­by attain­ing seam­less appli­ca­tion of land, sea and air pow­er.

Indi­an per­spec­tive

The need for joint­ness was felt in all oper­a­tions under­tak­en by our Armed Forces. In the First War with Pak­istan after Inde­pen­dence, Dako­ta air­craft were utilised to land our first bat­tal­ion into Sri­na­gar. Fur­ther tanks were air dropped at Zozi­la pass. In the 1962 war against the Chi­nese, we did not use our Air Force despite our supe­ri­or fly­ing skills and air­craft. The 1965 war was fought with the Army and Air Force fight­ing in a coor­di­nat­ed man­ner. How­ev­er, 1971 con­flict with Pak­istan saw the joint­ness being opti­mised, there­by result­ing in the lib­er­a­tion of Bangladesh. The cred­it must go to the Indi­an Air Force for achiev­ing air supe­ri­or­i­ty over East Pak­istan in 48 hours, there­by pro­vid­ing the Indi­an Army the free­dom to under­take offen­sive oper­a­tions relent­less­ly. Air­craft from our air­craft car­ri­er INS Vikrant flew effec­tive mis­sions destroy­ing Pak­istani patrol boats mak­ing their flotil­la inef­fec­tive. Fur­ther the Navy under­took a raid with mis­sile boats on Karachi caus­ing dam­ages to the port and oil instal­la­tions. The Air Force in con­junc­tion with the Army under­took heli­borne oper­a­tions at Syl­het and across the Megh­na riv­er as also paradropped a bat­tal­ion at Tan­gail which has­tened the lib­er­a­tion process. The sur­ren­der of Pak­istani forces in Dac­ca in 14 days can be attrib­uted to joint oper­a­tions.

1971 con­flict with Pak­istan saw the joint­ness being opti­mised, there­by result­ing in the lib­er­a­tion of Bangladesh. The cred­it must go to the Indi­an Air Force for achiev­ing air supe­ri­or­i­ty over East Pak­istan in 48 hours, there­by pro­vid­ing the Indi­an Army the free­dom to under­take offen­sive oper­a­tions relent­less­ly

How­ev­er post 1971 there have been prob­lems in exe­cut­ing joint oper­a­tions. This was felt par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing Op Vijay (Kargil con­flict) in 1999. Though these were pro­fes­sion­al­ly resolved, there was a require­ment of mod­i­fy­ing our organ­i­sa­tions to improve joint­ness in con­duct and exe­cu­tion of oper­a­tions. Accord­ing­ly a com­mit­tee under K Sub­rah­manyam was set up which sub­mit­ted its report and the same was reviewed by a Group of Min­is­ters in 2000. To improve joint­ness, there was need for a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and inte­gra­tion of the three ser­vices. In the 11 years that have elapsed we have estab­lished a tri-ser­vice Head­quar­ters of Inte­grat­ed Defence Staff (IDS), a tri-ser­vice com­mand, Andaman and Nico­bar the­atre com­mand and a Strate­gic Forces Com­mand. There is no joint­ness of com­mand and con­trol and the three ser­vices are oper­a­tional­ly inde­pen­dent with lim­it­ed coor­di­na­tion being under­tak­en by the Min­istry of Defence. To find an answer to the cur­rent impasse, the gov­ern­ment has appoint­ed a 14 mem­ber task force head­ed by Shri Naresh Chan­dra a for­mer bureau­crat on 14 July 2011 to review the unfin­ished tasks of the Kargil Review Com­mit­tee and sug­gest a plan of imple­men­ta­tion. The pan­el has been giv­en six months to com­plete the task.

It may be per­ti­nent to note that we must look at the Amer­i­can and the UK expe­ri­ence of inte­grat­ing their armed forces. The first step is the issue of Defence Pol­i­cy Guide­line. The US Sec­re­tary of Defence issues a Defence Pol­i­cy Guide­line which includes nation­al secu­ri­ty objec­tives and poli­cies, the pri­or­i­ties of mil­i­tary mis­sions and the avail­abil­i­ty of resources. This doc­u­ment is pre­pared with the advice from the Chair­man Joint Chief of Staff. In our case the Nation­al Strate­gic Pol­i­cy is not issued. At best a gener­ic chap­ter on Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Envi­ron­ment is includ­ed. Today there is no sin­gle point mil­i­tary guid­ance on strate­gic mat­ters to the Defence Min­is­ter and Prime Min­is­ter. On most of the occa­sions it is the Defence Sec­re­tary who is coor­di­nat­ing mil­i­tary issues. This is cer­tain­ly incor­rect for a coun­try fight­ing insur­gency and deal­ing with sen­si­tive bor­ders. Present­ly there is no uni­fied action and a lot depends on indi­vid­ual per­cep­tion of a sit­u­a­tion which often leads to lack of opti­mi­sa­tion of resources in deal­ing with crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions.

Struc­ture required in the present envi­ron­ment

The present organ­i­sa­tion­al struc­ture is not suit­able from the secu­ri­ty point of view. Our nation is fight­ing insur­gents and in a worst case sce­nario should be pre­pared for a con­flict on two fronts. With each ser­vice view­ing from its own per­spec­tive, the nation will not be able to take a uni­fied pro-active stand with panache and pre­ci­sion. To respond effec­tive­ly to any sit­u­a­tion there is a need for a uni­fied Com­mand Head­quar­ters under a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). All of us should look at nation­al objec­tives, rather than guard our turf and pro­cras­ti­nate on this crit­i­cal sub­ject. While the task force will be sub­mit­ting its rec­om­men­da­tions, it is incum­bent on the gov­ern­ment to take this step to pro­vide strate­gic equi­lib­ri­um to our nation at this crit­i­cal junc­ture. The organ­i­sa­tion­al struc­ture should have the CDS with the joint com­mands respon­si­ble for the oper­a­tions and the Ser­vice Head­quar­ters would be respon­si­ble for acqui­si­tion of equip­ment and train­ing.

The role and mis­sion of the CDS would be the prin­ci­pal mil­i­tary advi­sor to the Gov­ern­ment of India. He would have direct access to the Rak­sha Mantri and the Prime Min­is­ter. The three Ser­vice Chiefs would func­tion under him. There would be broad­ly two types of the­atre com­mands. North­ern, West­ern and South West­ern Com­mands would com­prise of Army and Air Force units where­as East­ern, South­ern, Andaman and Nico­bar, Strate­gic Forces and Train­ing Com­mands would be tri-ser­vice in com­po­si­tion. This will enable us to under­take net­work cen­tric war­fare with speed and pre­ci­sion. The inter ser­vice struc­ture would improve our logis­tics and improve our acqui­si­tion of equip­ment which would enable us to mod­ernise and there­by enhance our capa­bil­i­ty devel­op­ment. This process has to be under­tak­en by Par­lia­ment as the ser­vices would try and guard their turf.

Con­clu­sion

Oper­a­tions against state or non-state actors need to be metic­u­lous­ly planned and exe­cut­ed in most cas­es by more than one ser­vice. Our coun­try today has one of the biggest armed forces in the world. In a net­work cen­tric envi­ron­ment, there is a need for speedy response from the com­mand ele­ments to inputs received from sen­sors. This would be pos­si­ble in an inte­grat­ed ser­vices envi­ron­ment. Fur­ther in a full spec­trum war with a nuclear back­drop deci­sions would be need­ed at the high­est lev­el with regard to use of crit­i­cal weapons. On such occa­sion there would be need of a sin­gle point mil­i­tary advice to the Defence Min­is­ter and the Prime Min­is­ter.

While the CDS and three Ser­vice Chiefs would syn­er­gise the oper­a­tions, acqui­si­tions and train­ing the Defence Sec­re­tary would be con­cerned with pol­i­cy, bud­get, per­son­nel, infra­struc­ture, civil­ian man­age­ment and admin­is­tra­tion. He would con­tin­ue to be respon­si­ble for coor­di­nat­ing the func­tions of the depart­ment of defence, depart­ment of defence pro­duc­tion and the DRDO. He would be the inter­face of all depart­ments of the Min­istry of Defence and Par­lia­ment. As a mat­ter of fact the CDS, Ser­vice Chiefs, Defence Sec­re­tary, Sec­re­tary of Defence Pro­duc­tion, the Sci­en­tif­ic Advi­sor to the Defence Min­is­ter have respon­si­bil­i­ties to evolve a com­mon defence per­spec­tive.

This will pave the way for strate­gic equi­lib­ri­um in our force struc­ture. We are con­fi­dent that Shri Naresh Chan­dra with his team will suit­ably rec­om­mend mea­sures on issues crit­i­cal to our nation­al secu­ri­ty. We are con­fi­dent that the long pend­ing issues would be decid­ed expe­di­tious­ly.

About the Author
Maj Gen P K Chakra­vorty VSM (retd) - The writer is an alum­nus of Nation­al Defence Acad­e­my who was com­mis­sioned into the Reg­i­ment of Artillery on 31 March 1972. A Sil­ver Gun­ner who has under­gone the Long Gun­nery Staff Course, Staff Col­lege and is a grad­u­ate of the Nation­al Defence Col­lege. He has com­mand­ed a Medi­um Reg­i­ment and a Com­pos­ite Artillery Brigade. He was Major Gen­er­al Artillery of an oper­a­tional Com­mand, Com­man­dant of Selec­tion Cen­tre South in Ban­ga­lore and Addi­tion­al Direc­tor Gen­er­al Artillery at Army Head­quar­ters. He has also served as the Defence Attaché to Viet­nam and is a pro­lif­ic writer on strate­gic sub­jects.

Note by the Author:
The US Con­gress passed the Gold­wa­ter Nichols Act in 1986. The act reor­gan­ised the US Depart­ment of Defence (DoD), plac­ing more author­i­ty with the Sec­re­tary of Defence, the Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the the­atre com­man­ders. The aim was to bring all forces under the the­atre com­man­ders to ensure uni­fied appli­ca­tion of the full range of mil­i­tary pow­er to meet nation­al objec­tives. Gen­er­al Col­in Pow­ell, Chair­man Joint Chiefs of Staff of USA stat­ed through a mes­sage on 11 Novem­ber 1991 that, ‘Joint War­fare is team war­fare. When a team takes to the field, indi­vid­ual spe­cial­ists come togeth­er to achieve a team win

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