General M.M. Naravane, Chief of the Army Staff, in an interview with Jayant Baranwal, Editor-in-Chief, talks about how the Indian Army continues to face challenges across the spectrum of conflict and is developing its capability and operational readiness in light of these threats
SP’s: As we celebrate 50 years of 1971 victory, what are your views on the same? And the way our Army plans for the future?
COAS: The 1971 victory cemented India’s position in the global as a responsible and moral power in the comity of nations. By ending the genocide of countless Bangladeshis and assisting them in their right to self-determination, India’s humanitarian intervention has been seen as an exemplar for a future template. The swift operations against Pakistani forces, both in the East and the West underscore our forces’ professional capabilities and resolve to be morally upright. The 1971 war also showcased excellent inter-services integration and professional civil-military relations, both of which are required for defeating one’s adversary soundly.
The Indian Army continuously and consistently trains itself for war. We are all aware of the changing character of war and are preparing for it. By leveraging modern capabilities and emerging technologies, we will emerge victorious.
SP’s: Would you like to talk about the Army’s role during Covid-19?
COAS: The Indian Army acknowledges the stellar contributions of all Corona Warriors in the country who have fought and defeated this virus steadfastly. The Army has played an important role during Covid-19. We have contributed doctors, nurses and medical staff to a number of civil-run hospitals. Our formations and units in different parts of the country have assisted the local administration in setting up quarantine centres and distributing medical aid and supplies. Our forces have carried out information campaigns and setup medical camps to assist the populace in remote areas. We remain prepared to assist the administration in all respects.
“The 1971 war also showcased excellent inter-services integration and professional civil-military relations, both of which are required for defeating one’s adversary soundly”
SP’s: Modernisation process of the Army?
COAS: Capability Development of the Indian Army is based on a well thought out Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), which concentrates on modernisation of weapons and equipment. A total of 55 schemes valued at approximately 44,000 Crores have been contracted as part of the modernisation since the commencement of the 13th Plan in April 2017. Latest equipment like:
are few weapon systems and equipment which have fructified as part of the modernisation drive. Upgradation and overhaul schemes are also being given due impetus for keeping the equipment battle worthy and to maintain currency. During the FY 2020-21, a balanced approach to capability building was undertaken, which included significant procurements like BMP-2/2K, Six Pinaka Regiments, Engineer Mine Plough and Mine Plough for Tank T-90. Many important schemes have been contracted and several capability enhancing schemes are ongoing and are at advanced stages of procurement. In addition to acquisitions specific to various arms, projects for Electronic Warfare and communication systems are also being undertaken. Once implemented, these schemes would ensure a robust Army capable to take on any challenge in the envisaged battlefield milieu.
SP’s: Has technology per se taken back seat in the context of modernisation?
COAS: Not really. By and by we are trying to go for certain programmes in order to keep up with important advancements. For example, the induction of combat UAVs is progressing as per schedule.
SP’s: Is the Indian Army going ahead with the FRCV and FICV programmes?
COAS: Yes, the Indian Army is going ahead with the programmes. At present, we have our thinking caps on for the features and capabilities that we require and there will be some changes in the technical requirements, given the requirements of the future. We are looking at fifteen years hence and it will have to be radical, looking at the Azerbaijani example, the level and shape will change, we just can’t add a few kilos to the Tank, it has to be done in a different way keeping the futuristic warfare situation in view.
SP’s: What all has been done to protect the men and machines on the border with China during the winters?
COAS: All logistics are taken care of and there is no cause for concern. Special clothes with three layers and heated tents have been purchased for the soldiers, which will be comfortable for temperatures below zero to minus 40 degrees. I was there earlier this month and we could sit in the tent with regular clothing in minus 20-degree temperature. Ration, healthcare, and operational preparedness are intact. The new facilities for troops have Barrel Type shelters, modular shelters, and Vehicle sheds.
“Capability Development of the Indian Army is based on a well thought out Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), which concentrates on modernisation of weapons and equipment”
SP’s: As the Chief of the land based forces, what will be your view if asked who will dominate future wars? Will it be the Army, Navy or Air Force? Who will play conclusive and decisive role?
COAS: It would be fallacious to assume that a single service will dominate future warfare. We have transitioned to an era where war-waging itself has become complex. The era of single services operations has faded and a systems approach, that is, joint integrated operations across multiple domains is the way ahead.
SP’s: As COAS, what will be your key message to the soldiers on the front? Your fellow officers in the Army and fellow citizens of the country?
COAS: I convey my best wishes to all citizens of the country and assure them that the Indian Army is capable of addressing all future challenges and that we will spare no efforts to defend our territorial sovereignty. I have full faith in the capabilities of my officers and troops that they will carry out their tasks with the utmost professionalism. They do not have to worry about equipment and logistics which will be taken care of.
SP’s: What is your wish list for the Army and likely key challenges?
COAS: Indian Army faces, and will continue to face operational challenges in the entire spectrum of conflict, whether it be in the conventional or unconventional domains. A thorough analysis of capability voids, in light of the threats posed by our adversaries, guide our capability development & operational preparedness plans.
Our operational preparedness needs to primarily focus on India’s desire to ensure stability & dominance along our contested & hostile borders and to effectively counter Proxy War. To retain operational readiness & combat edge, we constantly monitor and review the emerging & future threats to our national security. Our operational requirements continue to guide our procurement of emerging technologies, which act as force multipliers, providing us much needed combat edge over the adversaries. Acquisition of unmanned aerial systems, in consonance with our operational requirements, are part of our Capability Development Plans.
SP’s: What are the Army’s initiatives to attract the talent and young blood in its stream? And also towards the welfare of army fraternity?
COAS: Efforts are being made to mitigate shortage of officers in Indian Army. However, keeping in view the pyramidal structure of officers cadre of IA, this shortage is to be mitigated by enhanced induction of SSCOs. Accordingly, a proposal to make SSC Entry more attractive is under active consideration. It is envisaged that the existing deficiency of officers would reduce once this proposal is approved by the GoI and implemented.
Following steps have been taken to make Army as an attractive option:
To alleviate the problems of Next of Kin (NoKs), the Army runs various welfare schemes. DIAV has launched an extensive outreach and awareness programmes to contact the NoKs throughout the Nation during the Year of the Next of Kin. The NoKs are unable to get their due grants and entitlements due of incorrect documentation. Towards this end, all the formations have established contact with the NoKs at grass root level and the documentary requirements were fulfilled to assist them in availing the grants and benefits provided by the Government and Army.
Reproduced from SP’s Land Forces Issue 6, 2020, Indian Army Day Special Issue