New Delhi, 29
The recent shoot out at the Tanda EME camp in J & K on 24 Jul where
Brig V K Govil and 7 jawans were killed and three Generals including
the GOC in- C, Lt Gen Hari Prasad and 7 jawans received grenade
shrapnel and other injuries, should make the Government wake up on
Command and Control in that area. The Army needs to be assisted
with brain power and equipment advice, from the other two Services
and lives need to be protected. Today the Army is fighting terrorism
and insurgency in the old fashioned way and there is little use of new
technology or issue of ID cards, vigilance by technology and
such in populated areas.
These the Army helplessly claims
are Home Ministry tasks and no one dare cross Dy PM L K Advani, not
even George Fernandes. The Para Military forces are a power unto
themselves with unlimited funds now like the MOD, except they spend
it and do not return it.
In the past we had reported how NRI
Americans dealing with US Defence, had displayed robotic systems at
the Pravasi Bharati meet at Pragati Maidan, to assist Indian Armed
Forces to deal with infiltrators at low costs. Not easy but cheap,
But technology is not in the blood
stream of India's Infantry by training, and we do not
blame them. They are fine fighting soldiers and on Kargil Day 29th
July we salute the Indian Army for what they achieved on those
heights. It was amazing. They fought for the honour of their
Regiment and we honestly hope pray that this spirit never dies.
The Indian Army is a huge, fine
monolithic professional service of the Second World War vintage, and
so the situation in J & K is being tackled in an ancient Army
fashion and Lt Gen V R Raghavan in HT on Sunday 27th Jul has
Recently Gen Sinha, Governor of J
& K, a fine Gurkha
officer whose fighting days are past, quoted Gen Gerald Templar who
was one of the few to eradicate terrorism from Malaya in the
1950–60 era. The subject is studied in detail in Staff Colleges in
UK in connection with terrorism in Ireland. Templar made the
Army/Police and Intelligence responsible for every 5000 persons in
an area and starved terrorists of food and money.
Today we have
some 600,000 security forces in J and K, to do likewise. But
for that we need Unified Command in New Delhi, not the CIDS and three
separate but equal Chiefs who have to naturally protect their turf. In
the Sri Lanka war the Navy Chief had informally called it "Sundar's
war" and we presume J and K is "Vij's war". The
nation needs a CDS, and HT reports that Lt Gen B S Thakur of 2 Corps
is tipped to be the new CIDS when Lt Gen P S Joshi retires on 30th
Sept so we presume the appointment of CDS is in cold storage at
least till the next elections.
The categorical recommendations of
the Kargil Committee and GOM report on management of Defence were
both duly approved by the Government over three years ago. However,
India’s longest serving Defence Minister George Fernandes has
stifled discussion and pussy footed on the appointment of a CDS. The
subject has been duly politicised. Prime Minister Vajpayee has left
most security issues to be handled by his trusted and very able
National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra. who has his plate full
with International security concerns including the China border
problem which is a full time study in itself.
In a way this has weakened the
coordination amongst the Armed Forces and fuelled internecine
battles. Few recall that Admiral Sushil Kumar almost became the CDS
in 2001 and a residence was readied and Guard and Band rehearsed. To
add to national security woes, the extended Tehelka inquiry has
taken its own toll on procurement of essentially required items, and
only the Army Officers have been taken to task. Even the Parliament
is helpless. The MOD has also returned $1.5 billion from its budget
to the exchequer, and nobody has been taken to task. The defence
budget is the voice of the Armed Forces in a democracy. The reasons
for this imbroglio are not far to see.
There is resentment in the
bureaucracy to the appointment of a CDS, and as explained in an
article in the latest USI journal the Air Force has opposed the
appointment. The bureaucrats have reasons plus. They have ruled the
roost by making the Service HQs subservient departments of the MOD
with separate files and notings. The pen is mightier than the sword,
and they fear that the divide and rule tactics they have adopted so
far would be questioned by a powerful and capable CDS. The more
recent lesson of Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat has not been forgotten. Then
there are the internecine turf battles of egos and seniority between
the Armed Forces as to who should be made the CDS, and other
contentious policy issues.
No body likes to lose turf. The
prime among these issues which have been aired in public are who
should control the attack helicopters now integral to any Army for
offensive and defensive operations? The Indian Air Force flies the
MI-25 Army attack helicopters at present, though they are budgeted
from the Army and the Army’s need for more such has been stymied.
Some years ago a compromise solution was arrived at and it was
agreed a junior Army pilot would be accommodated.
Another contentious issue is
whether attack and surveillance at seas hould also be the IAF’s
charter now that they have the SU 30 MKIs, and will get the air
borne early warning Phalcon AWACS on an IL–76 platform. Air
Defence is itself a tricky inter-services issue. The IAF have
also questioned why the Navy should get the Admiral Gorshkov with
Mig 29Ks and hence keep getting a larger chunk of the budget, which
is inevitable (See Navy Comes of Age). This year the Navy received a
three percent increase its budget at the expense of the IAF and
Army. There is heartburn even if it cannot be spent.
Vice Admiral Arun Prakash a Naval
pilot who won his Vr C flying IAF Hunters in the 1971 war and is an
admired officer for his professionalism, writing in the USI Journal,
explained how in the USA and UK, the CDS type of structure was
forced upon the services by their political masters for the benefits
that have accrued. The Falklands war, the Gulf war and now Op Iraqi
Freedom amply prove the concept that tri-service command is
inescapable, but India has been bucking the trend.
The Government has been very adept
in appeasing the Armed Forces by sanctioning funds and forming an
interim CIDS. In the past the Rajiv Gandhi government had done the
same, and appeased the services by forming the DG DPS, which became
a talking shop, has since been merged in to the CIDS. The present
Government has appeased the Armed Forces by providing billets and
promotions to over 100 appointments of one star and above level in
the interim CIDS. Appointing a Strategic Force Commander to operate
from Vayu Bhavan appeased the IAF. A status quo has emerged and
there is political lethargy on the appointment of CDS, which is
The absence of a CDS is a malady
India suffered in Op Pawan and more recently in
the period of 6 May to 22 May 1999 during the Kargil incursion
when single service decisions led to fiascos.
has become a Principle of War
and Gen Tommy Franks etched it in modern warfare.
Rightly, in the national interest there are rumblings in the Air
Force, which looked after India's limited strategic interests thus
far, and claims it is well equipped
to do so indefinitely.
Field Marshal S F Manekshaw
who acted like a defacto CDS in the 1971 war because he had the
confidence of PM Indira Gandhi was to be appointed CDS in 1972 and
CNS Admiral Nanda supported the move, but
late ACM P C Lal bucked the matter on personal grounds.
thirty-two years later a
similar situation prevails. It
needs remedy, especially as we are a Nuclear Ready Force and Dr
Michael Quinlan who built UK's nuclear forces came to India twice
and politely explained Command, Control and Costs.