Service Headquarters need to reflect upon their new operational realities. Unfortunately growth in Service Headquarters so far, has been incremental and not as part of any functional reform. For example, the MO Directorate of our Army is still organised to fight conventional operations only. They have not re-organised themselves to reflect a full spectrum operational reality. They have also not created a Joint Operational Planning group to reflect their desire to create a joint war fighting paradigm. Additionally, there is a requirement to create a “whole of government” real time response mechanism based on networks and data bases rather than the outdated method of holding time wasting series of conferences. Our organisations reflect our war fighting methods and are indicative of our resolve to respond efficiently and effectively. All this is a natural part of our deterrence.
“Government Response” should be internally applied as well in order to create” Whole of Service” and ”Joint Services” response. Equipment and procurement Forecasting: All agencies dealing with procurement, require time to carry out their functions. At the present juncture, agencies are informed the day a service registers its desire for procuring an item with HQ IDS. The process thereafter takes about 3–4 years till the contract is signed. In order to cut short this time, the Revenue and Capital Acquisition aspects need to be dovetailed. Only then can one derive which system is due for deinduction at least 5–7 years and more, prior to the request being formally registered. This would help to make the R and D and procurement cycle more efficient.
Blacklisting: After the infamous Bofors case, we have become hyper sensitive to aspects of defence commissions and have begun to blacklist companies wherever we have come to know of some aspects of these payments. In hindsight, we can see, that in a number of cases we have had major deals with foreign companies in which we had a “Buy” and a “Make” component the scandal erupted once the “Buy” component had been executed and before the transfer of technology was to be made. Blacklisting the company at this stage denied us the technology we were seeking. It is therefore for consideration whether we ban the company from future contracts, but go through the execution in full of the contract which we have signed. After all obtaining the contracted technology for the country is central and not our clean images. Blacklisting from future contracts meets all our clean image needs and yet gets us our technology.
Matching capacities to requirements: There is a need to tailor our outputs with the requirement. Extraneous issues related to employment and long term justification of organisational structures’ existence should not be the overriding factors. For example, it is a known fact that there has been an exponential growth in encryption demand. SAG is incapable of meeting the demand for algorithms. No expansion has been affected to increase capacity. Our inability to meet the requirement of services compromises security, since it forces the user to communicate in plain or resort to low grade public keys.
Listing the PSUs on the stock exchange with a 51 per cent government and 49 per cent public holding. This will help in keeping government hold over the unit, but will bring agility due to public participation. Capital so generated can be used for modernisation of the PSU or setting up additional capacity
Equipment profile: Usually services have on their itinerary a mixture of equipment. Broadly equipment follows a 30:40:30 rule. 30 per cent of new equipment being inducted, 40 per cent of contemporary equipment and 30 per cent of obsolete equipment awaiting de-induction. Procurement efforts need to be focused to ensure that this ratio is not upset because it will have a detrimental effect on our war fighting abilities.
Continuous tech-development cycle: There is a need to understand that technology moves incrementally because knowledge is doubling every five years. The logjam between the shifting goalpost made by DRDO and users dissatisfaction registered by the users, needs to be broken. This can be done if we adopt the “continuous technology development cycle” and produce a chain of subsequent models which account for 20 per cent growth in technology. The users will most certainly go along with this approach.
Transfer of technology: There is a need to be circumspect in this area. When we seek technology, we need to remember that the recipient has to pay exponentially for it. When we see the pace of change and compare it with the fact that technologies which are usually on sale are ones that are available off the shelf it means that they are already 10–15 years old. Once we follow the CKD / SKD route we take another 10–15 years before reaching the technology transfer stage. We would therefore be paying for technology which is 25–30 years old.
We therefore require to shorten the technology absorption route. This is possible by adopting the following means:
- Seek technology transfer as an exceptional case.
- Technology transferred should have an elaborate R and D plan for its absorption as well as to make it grow into subsequent systems.
- Adopt concurrent manufacturing practice in place of CKD / SKD route.
- Foreign purchase.
- Establishment of factory in India immediately after signing the contract in order to commence concurrent manufacture.
- Corporatise manufacturing of all major war fighting weapon systems. Technology transfer should be made to these corporatised entities which are charged with
- Technology absorption.
- Mid-life upgradation.
- Spare parts manufacture.
- Subsequent models.
This method calls for
Leveraging the private sector: There is a need to create a “whole of defence capability” based on PSUs, OFBs and private sector industries. Since our private sector industry is yet in the nascent stage and our PSUs / OFBs have been overtly protected we have a problem. The problem calls for energising our PSUs / OFBs for competitiveness and for nurturing the nascent capabilities in the private sector. This can be done by the following means:
Listing the PSUs on the stock exchange with a 51 per cent government and 49 per cent public holding. This will help in keeping government hold over the unit, but will bring agility due to public participation. Capital so generated can be used for modernisation of the PSU or setting up additional capacity. Group and corporatise the OFBs on lines of PSUs described above.
Abandon the RUR route and encourage the private sector to form consortia for land systems, maritime systems, aerospace systems, IT systems, R and D and space systems. These consortia can draw-in the small scale industries as sub-contractors on as required basis. MoD should deal only with these consortia. The consortia route cuts short the evolution cycle of defence industry considerably. Globally the world has gone from single company manufacturing to consortia manufacturing, since no single company in the West had the technology or financial clout to manufacture the present day’s sophisticated machines. By encouraging our industry to form consortia we will help them to evolve quickly.
Competition between various sectors needs to be engineered / encouraged for obtaining better efficiency. Even a communist country like China has split their single corporations in order to generate competition. A concerted effort needs to be launched to ensure a level playing fields and curb unhealthy monopolistic tendencies in the defence industrial base.
There is an ever present need for effecting change in any organisation in order to remain contemporary. Change begins in the mind and then gets translated into action, therefore it can be safely called a “mind over matter” issue. Traditionally we have been very weak at conceptualising and doctrinal aspects. These must lead and guide our actions so that these conform to a well thought out plan and design and our actions are not simply knee-jerk and reactive.
About the Author
Lt Gen Hardev Singh Lidder PVSM, UYSM, YSM, VSM (retd)
The writer was commissioned in Indian Army in December 1967 in the elite Parachute Regiment. A Special Forces officer, he has extensive experience of Sub-conventional Warfare. He is a graduate of Defence Services Staff College and National Defence College. He has experience of multifarious instructional, staff and command assignments. He has been Military Liaison Officer in Indian Embassy at Colombo and was Defence Military Adviser in Embassy of India at Washington DC when momentous changes in Indo-US relations began to take shape. He hung his uniform as the CISC, IDS.
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