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Defence forces: Way ahead towards development
Defence needs huge amount of investment for ongoing modernization whereas the finance minster will never have that sort of money, more so for a nation crying for basic amenities. There is a way out for converting the man-machine heavy army based on second world war fighting concepts to a smart power modern force capable of striking with maximum force and minimal collateral damage.

The future wars will not involve huge numbers of men or machines but rely on minimal force with maximum impact. This implies real time intelligence and capability to destroy the impact with minimal collateral damage along with shaping the perception of opinion makers. It may have number of small skirmishes culminating into decisive strike.

Large manoeuvres are second world war type of war, the modern warfare is already shifting to drones and other smarter weapon systems. For insurgency type of warfare the nation needs feet on the ground to saturate the area, show presence, gain human intelligence and win battle of hearts and minds.

With Modi government taking over and everyone is expecting wonders to happen is a sign of optimism and the damage done by the previous government. Defence modernisation has been one big causality.

Modi government has taken over empty coffers and huge backlog and mega crying needs- from toilets to space. Finance Minister must be having sleepless nights and rightly so.

There are hardly any original strategic thinkers in India within or outside the uniformed services. Most of the so called thinkers have borrowed ideas from the west and parrot them with minor modifications. That is the impression one gets on reading the papers and TV debates.

The nation has created huge white elephants like organisations commencing from DRDO to think tanks with very limited quality input. One of the major drawback in addition to quality thinkers is everyone is working in his small little well, without trying to connect and expanding wisdom/experience.

The wisdom/knowledge lies all over. Defence forces are the initiators and end users of needs. Their wish list is generally based on what is available in the world market and what the adversary has/likely to procure.

The DRDO/IITs/Private Sector and PSU with their in-house capabilities have some wisdom but not good enough to produce to match the best in the world market. The defence forces have enough wisdom among officers of technical arms who are as well qualified as scientist in the civil market.

Large number of them have done their Master degree from IITs and renowned foreign universities. Scattered but non focused wisdom is available within the country in abundance. To add to the misery the Ministry of Defence or the Defence Minster has little knowledge of professional matters.

Huge problem, but energised approach with Modi government talking of change may just be the right opportunity to make a beginning.

As one makes out US/China and other military powers are looking at intelligence, alliances, control of critical resources, R&D, joint manship, space, robotics, artificial intelligence, perception management, economic development; populace happiness as some of the things of critical importance for staying ahead in the future.

What needs to be done

To expect automatic happening of empire crashing by organisation used to mega budgets with no accountability is a challenging assignment.

The US has a Blue Ribbon Commission concept. This compromises of wise people but not stake holders. They interact with all the stake holders as well as the best brains within the country and study the best practices followed by other advanced nations.

The second methodology is to undertake a study by one/two professionals who interact with all leaders of society in their designated fields impacting the future. This gives a view of shape of things to unfold as perceived by all the thinkers. Messing them together gives an idea for planners to peep and plan where and how the defence forces role/fighting fits into that future.

Any of the above approach will enable a clear vision and then comes up the way ahead. There would be a need to build total smart power rather than trying to attempt every thing but poor quality outcomes.

Form a committee akin to Blue Ribbon Commission with the task of way ahead for force development and fusing/importing technology.

Since India is one of the biggest importer of weapon, systems insist on hundred percent technology transfer within five year or less of import of major system.

Accountability of DRDO/PSU- perform or perish. Incorporate IITs/private sector at R&D stage. Defence forces more so the army being manpower intensive needs major review in its approach. Move from man-machine mix to smart/remote systems of intelligence gathering and its destruction with minimal force and maximal impact. Emphasize on special forces with strategic mobility and cut down on number of men in uniform.

Harmonies functioning of army with PMF/CPO. Reinforce police forces for counter insurgency operations and be prepared to absorb them for rear area duties during war.

Have regular army down to 40% and complement by 60% of territorial army. This means professional/others contributing to nation building during normal times; do military training for about a month every year and join during war. Alternatively army must release 60% of its strength of peace stations for eight months a year for nation building projects.

With no major war since 71 and none in the offing and internal security being taken over by CPOs in Kashmir and Central India and border management by ITBP and others after Subramanian Kargil review committee's report.

These measures will release huge manpower/financial resources for modernization and nation building simultaneously.

Who Bells the Cat

Too many vested interests will fight for status quo. With limited professional competence at top level who can force the above measures? Answer lies in Blue Ribbon commission equivalent to transform the defence force into a modern smart war fighting. Focusing on smart power being applied through deterrence cum quick minimal force maximal result and simultaneously contributing towards nation building.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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