The CDS Issue Is Important 

An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 12 December 2004

Donald Rumsfeld was here to appease Asian leaders with his doublespeak. He probably told the Indian leadership that USA was all set to lift all sanctions against Pakistan –– its ally in the area. This happened as per media on 11 December and comes as no surprise to us as we have explained USA's compulsions ad nauseum. We also feel there must be some conditions attached. It could be Benazir and Shariff’s return to Pakistani politics and Musharraf to stand against them in the next elections. As Farooq Abdllah said on TV, Musharraf is a changed man and wants peace but he is also wily and so India has to be on guard –– its economy is on a roll and needs to be protected.

The UPA Government has not cleared any major defence project including the CNS's plea for the Scorpene deal and one wonders what ails the decision making or is it the same need for the political party to be fully satisfied in all respects and the French Foreign Minister was here for that, followed by the Israeli Dy PM. Earlier Putin told India he would not give the source codes of equipment if India tried to arbitrarily marry western and Russian systems, implying the BMD that DRDO is planning with the Green Pine radar.

The need for cohesive thinking for the three services is a must. It needs a CDS as inter-service rivalry exists to stymie progress and different rules exist even for promotions and such –– as we have recently seen in the IAF and shortages of officers exist. The IDS has not been able to deliver on such issues. Admittedly it has issued reams of paper on various subjects.

Pakistan has just been given a boost of $1 billion worth of 8 PC3 Orions with Harpoon missiles and Phalanx Anti SAM guns for their not so big or potent Navy, no doubt to keep the Indian Navy at bay and TOW missiles to see that the Indian Army is kept busy and deterred. This is to keep the balance. 

The F16s are receiving spares and Pakistan has tried out the Ghauri HATF 111 and Ghaznavi HATF IV so they have shown their nuclear delivery has teeth. While we do not see a war scenario, it was Adam Smith who had said, ‘national security is the first priority of the Sovereign’. In India now we have two Sovereigns, the cabinet head PM Manmohan Singh with his Cabinet, who is de facto Commander in Chief as per the Constitution and Mrs Sonia Gandhi the Chairman of the Advisory Council. Hence very grave responsibility lies on the two of them that National Defence does not get neglected. 

In this vein penned below is an extract from a book by Gen (Paddy) Padmanabhan, former Chief of Army Staff, in which he has scripted a scenario when India and USA clash as India tries to overrun Pakistan. But the import of this analysis is that the time is nearing when the Government cannot avoid taking the decision to appoint a CDS and we predict this will have to happen in 20005. There will be several changes as the new Army Chief Gen JJ Singh takes over on 31st January and a new VCOAS rumoured that it will be Lt Gen Thakur from the Andaman Command. 


“Indian Prime Minister’s Office, South Block

New Delhi

7 p.m

“What the devil do you mean, 97 jawans dead and 45 wounded! This is outrageous! How did this happen?” Prime Minister Parashima Reddy’s voice rose as he glared at General Ram Khurana, Chief of Defense Staff and General Anil Chopra, Army Chief.

“How could the militants have moved in so close to the highway? Is this the way you protect your troops?”

General Chopra took a deep breath before he replied, “This group is part of the militant brigade that we’ve been hunting down, sir. It was dusk and they took advantage of the shadows to move close to the road.”

“Why weren’t the men protected?”

Chopra looked sharply at Air Chief Marshal Krishna Lal.

“The IAF helicopter escort showed up late, only to be destroyed, sir.”

Lal retorted, “We need more than a half-hour notice to protect a convoy. The aircraft has to be scheduled, fueled and armed.”

The Indian Prime Minister looked away. The nation is going to be in an uproar, he mused. Opposition leaders have already got wind of the human losses. The armed forces definitely need improved coordination. The excuses are getting ridiculous.

Turning to Marshal Lal, Prime Minister Reddy said, “I want a full enquiry on my desk by 8 a.m. You need to explain why the escort aircraft was delayed. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Krishna Lal saluted and walked away.

The Prime Minister turned to General Ram Khurana. “You are the Chief of Defense Staff and you need to coordinate with the three Chiefs. I want your recommendations to prevent incidents like this in the future. There’s got to be better air cover for our troops. Today’s incident is an absolute disgrace!”

General Khurana watched the Prime Minister carefully as he spoke, “Sir, the Indian Air Force has its own priorities, to obtain air superiority and destroy military targets. Ground support to the Army is often a secondary objective, almost a painful duty. The troops have to be protected. The Army suffered significant casualties in the 1965 and 1971 wars due to inadequate air protection. My point, sir, is that until the three services are under my direct operational command, the problem will continue.”

Prime Minister Reddy managed a smile as he dryly remarked, “You know as well as I do, General Khurana, that the democratic Indian government does not want to create a military supreme. We have four Chiefs, all four-star and they report to the Defense Minister. That’s the way its going to be for a while. "

"The Indian Army, by the way, has also missed opportunities. Three times, as a matter of fact, 1948, ’65 and ’71, the Indian Army failed to retake Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. So, let’s not be too hasty in pointing fingers here.”

As the Prime Minister walked away, he looked back, “General Khurana, give me an update in the morning.”

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