An IDC Analysis 


New Delhi, 18 June 2003  

The Indian Constitution has little to say on Defence of India and the President is the Commander in Chief in name while Cabinet Control (PM) is the actual Commander. This needs amendment and a Committee is studying amendments.

The American Constitution even lays down how the Chiefs of the Services will be chosen and the Administration has the right to go right down the seniority list to somewhere near the 30th to select the incumbent. Pakistan has also enacted similar rules. The Defence Secretary and the President interview the potential candidates and a background check takes place. Hence no one who is superseded can object in USA or as it happens in India, where the aggrieved goes to court. However the counterbalance in USA is that every senior appointment has to be voted and cleared by the Senate/Congress who may call in the incumbent and at most times grill him. Media moves in and does its own grilling and this applies to all top appointments, Secretaries, Judges and Ambassadors. The chances are that no terribly wrong person is likely to be foisted on a service or branch of Government. Donald Rumsfeld chose a retired Army Commando General Shoomaker to be the Chief of The Army, in a path breaking move and IDC posts an article from New York Times which explains how the Vice Chief and Gen Tommy Franks refused the post due to family reasons. There are lessons in this for India.

As opposed to this in India the system has not yet settled down and the three Chiefs are invariably nominated by seniority (barring two exceptions Admiral Ramdas because of Bhagwat and Gen S K Sinha because of politics and Bofors). In the musical chairs the senior most in office becomes the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, even if for brief durations. The IB does send a check report to say nothing adverse has been found on the selectee because selection has already been done, and Indian Intelligence is very heavily dictated to by vested interests in political cases as it is overseen by the PM’s office and now by NSA and NSC. 

There is no Intelligence Committee. It can therefore happen that the better deserving and qualified Lt General, Air Marshal or Vice Admiral may get retired, because seniority is also decided at the initial stage and even by alphabetical order and merited officers move up the ladder in that order. This happened in cases of Gen Roy Choudhary and Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat and seniority was the leading criteria for selection. The less said the better. 

Indian PMs and RMs do not like to rock the boat. It is a sad fact of life in India that Indian politicians and bureaucrats have never been comfortable with military realities of security. The BJP Government has displayed fighting spirit and even took India nuclear, but have displayed no knowledge of fighting. Their fear of a strong Military is greater than even their memory of Kargil. 

As a result even the watered down post of CDS in India has been lying vacant for two years as the issue of seniority and politics is overriding what should be a National Need. Nobody wants to rock the boat and BJP blames Congress for the delay and vice versa. Even defence procurement has not changed. Indian Military needs a strong CDS and opportunity for a decision may come in September when the seniority problem may be removed and Lt Gen Joshi CIDS retires and the other eligible Chiefs have only one and quarter years to serve to 62. 

We therefore posts this NYT article for thinking people as food for thought, to correct the Indian system and the Chiefs can themselves contribute by analysing why we do not have a CDS, and what ails the system. The retirement ages of Service Chiefs had been increased to 62 and those of three stars to 60, making the Indian Armed Forces aged. Naval Admirals are well ahead of the other Services in promotion. It is well recognised that fighting forces have to be young in this day and age. The Iraq war showed it. The Colonels from USA and UK were in their early 30s and the four star General was 56. 
This top-level aging in India has a cascading effect on the Battalion, Wing and Captain Commanders in the field, and their fighting spirit. The Armed Forces should never become welfare organisations. Service Commanders in Europe, UK, USA and even in Japan and South East Asia are in their mid fifties. Food for thought? 

(The article below is reproduced courtesy the New York Times)

Retired Commando Chief Is Chosen to Lead the Army


WASHINGTON, June 10 — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broke with precedent today by reaching out to a retired Special Operations commander as his choice for Army chief of staff, sending an unmistakable signal of his desire to reshape the oldest and largest armed service.

Mr. Rumsfeld recommended to President Bush that the former commander, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, be nominated for the top uniformed post in the Army, to replace Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, who retires on Wednesday as chief of staff after a four-year term that included a tense relationship with the defense secretary.

In other recommendations for senior military positions sent today to the White House, Mr. Rumsfeld sought to maintain a sense of continuity for a military that has fought and won two wars in two years.

Mr. Rumsfeld recommended that Gen. Richard B. Myers of the Air Force, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Peter Pace of the Marines, the vice chairman, be nominated for second terms, Pentagon officials said.

"The secretary feels this team has been terrific," a senior Defense Department official said, citing the work by Generals Myers and Pace and the senior civilian leadership in redrafting military strategy, reshaping the forces and redrawing regional commands.

In another highly anticipated selection, Mr. Rumsfeld recommended that Lt. Gen. John P. Abizaid of the Army, a Lebanese-American who speaks Arabic, be nominated to replace Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who is to retire in the summer as head of the United States Central Command.

General Abizaid, who has a master's in Mideast studies from Harvard, is a deputy at the Central Command, which oversees operations in the strategic crescent from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. He served at the Pentagon in the influential post of director of the Joint Staff in the buildup to the conflict in Iraq.

Mr. Rumsfeld also recommended that Mr. Bush nominate new officers to top posts at the Special Operations Command, which has had an increasingly significant role in the campaign against terror, Pentagon officials said.

Lt. Gen. Bryan D. Brown of the Army, deputy at the command, was Mr. Rumsfeld's choice for promotion to commander, and Rear Adm. Eric T. Olson, who has commanded Naval Special Warfare teams, the Seals, was his selection for deputy.

All nominations have to go to the Senate for approval.

A senior Pentagon official said Mr. Rumsfeld, who spends considerable time interviewing senior officers before making recommendations to the president, sought to balance efforts to "sustain the momentum" in areas where the military had proven successful, as well as to "get fresh insights where it is helpful."

Mr. Rumsfeld has said he wants the entire military, and especially the Army, to be lighter, more agile and more lethal, the hallmarks of Special Operations. It was General Schoomaker's credentials in the elite world of the shadow warriors, in particular his time as commander of the Special Operations Command from 1997 to 2000, that brought him to Mr. Rumsfeld's attention.

Since retiring from the Army in 2000, General Schoomaker has remained active, participating in almost 12 training exercises, experiments or war games sponsored by the Joint Forces Command, officials said.

He also helped draft an analysis for Mr. Rumsfeld on how the Special Operations Command could add responsibilities in planning and executing missions.

General Schoomaker also has experience with conventional forces, serving in infantry and armored cavalry units before moving to Special Operations.

"He has been involved in the global war on terror before anybody even labeled it that," said Gen. Gordon Sullivan, a retired Army chief of staff. "He has fought the present enemy and the emerging enemy."

As a company commander, General Schoomaker participated in the failed mission to rescue hostages in Iran, and he was on the team that investigated the terror bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut.

Although no retired officer has ever been appointed Army chief of staff since the post was created in 1903, famous commanders have for decades been called back to service for other major positions. The men include Gens. Andrew J. Goodpaster, Lyman L. Lemnitzer and Maxwell Taylor.

General Sullivan did not dispute that selecting a retired officer over a serving three- and four-star general might create "some frustration" among the officer corps, and criticism could be heard late today in Pentagon hallways.

"But I don't think the lasting impact will be very significant," said General Sullivan, the head of the Association of the United States Army, an advocacy group. "Those who know Pete Schoomaker know that he is a good leader."

The current Army vice chief of staff, Gen. John M. Keane, was a leading candidate for the post, but turned it down, citing family reasons.

In choosing a retired general, Mr. Rumsfeld "was mindful of the fact that while this is not unprecedented, it is not done every day," a senior Pentagon official said today.

But General Schoomaker "came out as the best qualified officer available for the job," the official said.

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