India — Defence Transformation: A Case For Mind Over Matter

Op mis­sion of the Armed Forces: There is a need to remem­ber the oper­a­tional mis­sion of the Armed Forces while car­ry­ing out plan­ning, train­ing and pro­cure­ment for them i.e.

“The Armed Forces should be able to oper­ate both dur­ing day and night, in all types of cli­mat­ic con­di­tions, over all types of ter­rain and be effec­tive in all types of oper­at­ing envi­ron­ments obtain­ing at the time of appli­ca­tion.”

MoD’s role

The min­istry of defence has tra­di­tion­al­ly per­ceived con­trol of the Armed Forces to pre­serve the pri­ma­cy of civ­il con­trol as also pre­vent pos­si­ble coups which were endem­ic in the 50s and 60s. For this rea­son, all major func­tions gov­ern­ing man­pow­er, organ­i­sa­tion, finance, exter­nal con­tacts, pro­cure­ment etc. were made the pre­serve of the min­istry, leav­ing day-to-day func­tion­ing to the ser­vices. This result­ed in major diver­sion of ener­gy of both the min­istry and the ser­vices in estab­lish­ing a work­ing rela­tion­ship over the “them ver­sus us” divide. More­over, the knowl­edge of the mil­i­tary domain rests nat­u­ral­ly with the ser­vices, leav­ing the min­istry offi­cials the choice of learn­ing on the job with par­tial inputs from self-serv­ing offi­cers. The lack of a for­mal edu­ca­tion per­tain­ing to the com­plex sub­ject of defence and mat­ters mil­i­tary, pri­or to tak­ing up their jobs in the min­istry, has had a telling effect on the effi­cien­cy of the min­istry offi­cials and they have con­tin­ued to exist, sans the respect from ser­vices, due to over­rid­ing pow­er vest­ed in them by the min­istry. All this, has result­ed not only in deep fis­sures between MoD and Ser­vice Head­quar­ters but also in the MoD becom­ing a mar­gin­al play­er in the secu­ri­ty cal­cu­lus of the coun­try. Pas­sage of time and peri­ods of polit­i­cal tur­moil in the coun­try have proved that the Indi­an Armed Forces har­bour no polit­i­cal ambi­tions — in fact abhor a polit­i­cal role. In this back­drop, par­tic­u­lar­ly when we are under pres­sure from Chi­na and seek for our­selves a role of pri­ma­cy in South Asia and a place on the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, there is an urgent need to relook at our self-debil­i­tat­ing intro­vert­ed and com­part­men­talised func­tion­ing in MoD. An inte­grat­ed func­tion­ing with­in MoD will trans­form MoD func­tion­ing from “Them vs Us” to “Us”, an atti­tude, we urgent­ly need to fos­ter in order to migrate to an inter-agency / inter-depart­ment / inter-min­is­te­r­i­al func­tion­ing which the emerg­ing secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment is demand­ing. We must move towards a “whole of the gov­ern­ment approach.”

For any coun­try strate­gic guid­ance flows from its Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Strat­e­gy, Defence Pol­i­cy guide­lines which lay down the Defence Strat­e­gy and its Joint Mil­i­tary Strat­e­gy. In our case the RM’s Op Direc­tive stands-in for all three. There is a need for the ser­vices to draw up a “Joint Mil­i­tary Strat­e­gy” which cov­ers impor­tant aspects like oper­a­tions, intel­li­gence, logis­tics and train­ing which will guide their actions. For this pur­pose, ser­vices can make suit­able assump­tions relat­ed to the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Strat­e­gy as well as MoD’s Defence Strat­e­gy

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Sep­a­ra­tion of mat­ters defence and mil­i­tary

There is a dis­tinct dif­fer­ence in the activ­i­ties that gov­ern these two ter­mi­nolo­gies. “Defence” of which the Defence poli­cies and Defence Strat­e­gy are the epit­o­me, con­sti­tutes the con­cerns of the Defence Min­istry and its thrust areas. The Defence Min­is­ter is assist­ed by the Defence Sec­re­tary who hus­bands this aspect. The term “mil­i­tary” epit­o­mis­es issue of how the ser­vices are organ­ised to fight. Joint Mil­i­tary Direc­tives, Joint Mil­i­tary Strat­e­gy, are the instru­ments from which the Oper­a­tional Direc­tives and Strate­gies flow to the three ser­vices. These issues being pro­fes­sion­al in nature can­not be under­stood by any­one out­side the uni­formed fra­ter­ni­ty.

Asym­me­try in fight­ing capa­bil­i­ties

There is a seri­ous asym­me­try in South Asia as far as the con­flict con­tin­u­um is con­cerned. While the three coun­tries USA, Chi­na and Pak­istan which hold prime inter­ests in South Asia field a full spec­trum capa­bil­i­ty i.e. Nuclear, Con­ven­tion­al and Sub-con­ven­tion­al, India responds with only two seg­ments i.e. Nuclear and Con­ven­tion­al. India there­fore needs to acti­vate the offen­sive sub­con­ven­tion­al com­part­ment if it is not to place itself at a dis­ad­van­ta­geous oper­a­tional posi­tion. Spe­cial Forces along with intel­li­gence agen­cies are the favoured instru­ments for the acti­va­tion of the sub-con­ven­tion­al com­part­ment.

Expand­ed bat­tle­field

With the USA con­sol­i­dat­ing a huge mil­i­tary advan­tage over like­ly region­al chal­lengers and with their dis­play of this asym­met­ric advan­tage dur­ing the two gulf wars and in Afghanistan, the world has com­menced redefin­ing of the tra­di­tion­al bat­tle space. Chi­nese are the lead­ers of this con­cep­tu­al rede­f­i­n­i­tion, which they spelt out in their work called “Unre­strict­ed War­fare”. A pletho­ra of avenues deal­ing with the eco­nom­ic, social, polit­i­cal, legal, diplo­mat­ic are­nas have been brought into focus in what has become a form of total con­tention. War­fare thus has raised the bat­tle are­na from the MoD’s domain to a “whole of gov­ern­ment” domain. Respons­es have to now encom­pass a num­ber of min­istries /agencies /departments. A new response mech­a­nism there­fore has to be devised by India to meet these new forms of chal­lenges which would be applied along with mil­i­tary force.

Proac­tivism vs reac­tivism There is much virtue in mak­ing countries/people respond to our actions rather than react­ing to exter­nal stim­uli all the time. How­ev­er, there are those who argue that when we react we have ful­ly com­pre­hend­ed the chal­lenge and there­fore are respond­ing to know­ables with doables and are there­fore bal­anced at all times. This under­stand­ing can be eas­i­ly defeat­ed by a State which applies the “accel­er­at­ed time fac­tor” in inter- State inter­ac­tions. This accel­er­at­ed time fac­tor calls for unleash­ing upon the oppo­nent a series of actions which dis­ori­ent the reac­tive mech­a­nism and grind it to inac­tiv­i­ty for want of clar­i­ty of the oper­at­ing space / activ­i­ties.

Joint mil­i­tary strat­e­gy

At present we do not have a CDS who has to pro­vide the glue required by the three ser­vices in order to make them fight syn­er­gis­ti­cal­ly and not in com­part­ments as they do at present. This glue at the apex lev­el would be in the form of Joint Direc­tives, which would even­tu­al­ly result in the for­mu­la­tion of a “Joint Mil­i­tary Strat­e­gy”. The COSC in the mean­time — till a CDS is appoint­ed — has to over­see the above for­mu­la­tions.

Fronts vs seg­ment­ed the­atres

There is a need to look at our adver­saries in a holis­tic man­ner than the seg­ment­ed way we do at present. We need to view chal­lenges posed by Pak­istan across the whole west­ern front in order to achieve bet­ter results in a cost effec­tive man­ner. Our abil­i­ty to do so calls for a change in the way we are organ­ised in the Army Head­quar­ters. Pak­istan vir­tu­al­ly orches­trates the entire bor­der, since their GHQ direct­ly con­trols all the Corps. The same applies to our north­ern front oppo­site Chi­na.

India is increas­ing­ly being drawn into a like­ly “two front” sce­nario in a future mil­i­tary con­flict. Indi­an sur­vival and vic­to­ry depends upon the “swing” fac­tor of its deploy­able forces. The SWING has to be rehearsed ade­quate­ly in order to make it effi­cient. There is also a need to ensure that we devel­op our mil­i­tary organ­i­sa­tions in a man­ner that they are equal­ly effec­tive in plains as well as in moun­tains

Migrat­ing from attri­tion to manoeu­vre war­fare

Manoeu­vre war­fare is aimed at the mind of the oppo­nent where­in he is brought to sit­u­a­tion of help­less­ness due to the obtain­ing oper­a­tional sit­u­a­tion rather than by the destruc­tion caused to his Armed Forces. Our war against erst­while East Pak­istan was a clas­sic war of Manoeu­vre and not one of Attri­tion. This method there­fore needs to be seri­ous­ly exam­ined for adop­tion, so that we do not seek solu­tions in num­bers alone.

Two front war

With the deep­en­ing of Sino-Pak rela­tions, India is increas­ing­ly being drawn into a like­ly “two front“ sce­nario in a future mil­i­tary con­flict. Indi­an sur­vival and vic­to­ry depends upon the “swing” fac­tor of its deploy­able forces. The SWING has to be rehearsed ade­quate­ly in order to make it effi­cient. There is also a need to ensure that we devel­op our mil­i­tary organ­i­sa­tions in a man­ner that they are equal­ly effec­tive in plains as well as in moun­tains. Forces have to be re-posi­tioned in a man­ner that our capa­bil­i­ty against both fronts is opti­mised. There is a need to rework this aspect.

It is com­mon mil­i­tary knowl­edge that moun­tains eat troops. Also our “north­ern front” would be the front of deci­sion. Our war against Chi­na should be con­vert­ed to a war of logis­tics, since Chi­na has a longer logis­tic chain than us. This will give us a deci­sive edge over them in any future con­flict. This con­ver­sion can eas­i­ly be done by negat­ing China’s advan­tage in num­bers.

This can eas­i­ly be achieved by doing the fol­low­ing:

  • Rais­ing reserve for­ma­tions in the face of a con­flict.
  • Con­vert­ing TA from third line func­tions to sec­ond line func­tions, so that they can take up the defen­sive and relieve reg­u­lar for­ma­tions for offen­sive actions.
  • Con­vert the Assam Rifle units to five fight­ing for­ma­tions so that they can cov­er depth areas more effec­tive­ly and retrieve reg­u­lar troops for offen­sive pur­pos­es.
  • Trans­fer 105 mm and 130 mm artillery guns being replaced by 155 mm guns to sup­port Assam Rifle for­ma­tions. The man­pow­er for this could be pro­vid­ed by Home and Hearth TA units.
Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

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