Military & Aerospace

Defence Preparedness Back on Track
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
Issue Net Edition | Date : 22 May , 2015

A successful foreign policy is predicated to a large measure on a country’s defence posturing. A robust defence posturing in turn is not possible without motivated men complemented by requisite arms and equipment. In the last decade or so, India’s defence preparedness suffered not only on account of lack of material wherewithal but subversion of the military leadership from external and internal vested interests.

Deliberately the three services were made to starve of most critical equipment imperative in conduct of operations during war.

In all the three dimensions, i.e. land, air and sea, India was made to suffer because of sabotage of defence preparedness. Deliberately the three services were made to starve of most critical equipment imperative in conduct of operations during war. The army cannot fight without artillery support, but it was constantly denied 155mm guns. The navy’s submarine fleet dwindled to pathetic levels of 40 percent of the minimum requirement. The fighter squadrons of the air force were allowed to be depleted to nearly 60 percent of the mandatory need.

Internal and external sabotage was the main reason for India’s arms deficiencies. This became very clear with the disclosure with regard to routine acquisition of Tatra vehicles. A well-oiled corruption chain had evolved in procurement of these vehicles. In the first place, these vehicles were procured by the BEML, ironically a PSU of Defence Ministry, and sold to the Indian Army at four times the international market price. Cleverly, the perpetrators of this fraud on the army ensured that no suspicion was aroused, in that these routine procurements were made out of revenue budget and not capital budget. The perpetrators included senior officers in the army, including some army chiefs; officials of the PSU; bureaucrats; politicians and at least one national security advisor. This former NSA was literally pulled out from his tottering life by a journalist, to declare the then army chief as the ‘worst’ India had seen. The cardinal mistake that this particular army chief, now a minister in Modi’s cabinet, committed was that he put an end to this ‘Tatra loot’.

The same army chief had revealed as to how the Indian Army was deliberately denied 155mm gun, even as the blueprint of the Bofors Gun, for which India had paid in the 80s, was gathering dust in an ordinance factory of Jabalpur. The officials in the factory lamented that all these years they had been waiting for manufacture orders by the government. All this while, some officials in the army and the MoD purposely did never mention about the availability of technology transfer of Bofors Gun, all because money could be made only in buying from foreign companies.

In Antony’s tenure as defence minister, procurement of all critical equipment that had reached fruition stage after years of painstaking trials and negotiations were torpedoed through manipulations of arms dealers.

In Mr Antony’s tenure as defence minister, procurement of all critical equipment that had reached fruition stage after years of painstaking trials and negotiations were torpedoed through manipulations of arms dealers. Mr Antony’s tenure exposed the symbiosis between foreign arms manufacturers, politicians and top military leadership. Officers considered unpliable in following corrupt diktats in arms procurement were hounded out on one pretext or the other. Gen VK Singh was inflicted with the age issue because he raked up several misdeeds in procurement like Tatra and 155mm guns. An ex-air force chief was made the scapegoat for VVIP helicopter scam. This air chief, if selective disclosures were to go by, was accused of siphoning a miniscule part of the kick-backs, the identity of the main beneficiaries are very well known to Mr Antony. Then in the Indian Navy, there were a series of 13 accidents. Lot of hue and cry was made about age related problems of these equipment. The then navy chief was harassed into resigning. Another naval officer was superseded. No sooner, as contrived, the desired naval chief took over, all age related problems of naval arms and equipment disappeared overnight. It was a clear case of sabotage for manipulation of naval hierarchy by internal and external forces, of which Mr Antony is more than aware.

The very edifice of India’s defence was therefore under attack by vested interests. Leadership was being manipulated, procurements were being sabotaged and the degree of defence preparedness was being dictated by external quarters. Bypassing the Army Chief, officials of the NSA office were passing orders directly to the army commander in J&K to go lenient on Pakistan’s misadventures on the Line of Control.

It is under these circumstances that the Modi government took over. To a degree, it has addressed the fundamental rot in the defence apparatus. While the armed forces leadership is a fate accompli inherited from the last regime, it has been ensured that the new policy and procurement procedures obviate the possibilities of wrong doing by this very leadership, which was put in place for internal and external manipulation.

During Mr Antony’s tenure, not even 25 percent of the strategic roads (19 out of 73) on our eastern frontiers were constructed as called for. As per the MoD, 16 of these border roads will be completed this year and by the year 2018, all the 73 will be in place.

The policy of the new dispensation has ensured that the clout and influence of the middlemen is neutralized. It has ensured that arms procurements are not sabotaged at the slightest behest. It has ensured that nothing comes in the way of defence preparedness. The decision to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft from France in government to government deal is giving many sleepless nights to the lobbyists. The other decisions with regard to procurement of absolutely critical items are: replacement of 56 Avro aircraft by Airbus C295 (40 to be made in India), procurement of 197 Kamov helicopters from Russia (to be made in India), procurement of 145 x M777 guns from US, an arming of six Navy War ships with BraMos missile. Thus, the government has ensure that the critical requirements of fighter aircraft, air transport capabilities of the air force, fire power and aerial capabilities of the army, and the requisite muscle of the navy are addressed.

During Mr Antony’s tenure, not even 25 percent of the strategic roads (19 out of 73) on our eastern frontiers were constructed as called for. As per the MoD, 16 of these border roads will be completed this year and by the year 2018, all the 73 will be in place.

The Modi government has therefore addressed the procurement concerns of critical items of the armed forces in a very innovative and imaginative manner. It has put a stop to the phenomenon of loot and subversion in the procurement process by way of vigilance and procedures. A message has gone down to the leadership of the armed forces that manipulators will no longer be tolerated. It has been pursuing creation of defence infrastructure with the sense of urgency, and by announcing ‘one rank one pension’, an age old demand by the veterans, it has demonstrated its commitment to the welfare of the soldier community.

A very impressive achievement in one year.

Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

RSN Singh

is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW and author of books Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and The Military Factor in Pakistan. His latest book is The Unmaking of Nepal.

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left

10 thoughts on “Defence Preparedness Back on Track

  1. Very candid and clear article. In addition to the psychological inspiration, one should also back up with building actual capabilities to produce war-fighting equipment like small and large arms, ships, submarines and tanks, fighters and missiles, SAMs as well as supporting electronic systems (radars, AEW, RWR, SONAR, Fire-control radars, Avionics, precision machining, secure communication and spying equipment, night goggles, thermal wear and winter scooters for army). China took license production of Russian fighters, helos & subs and gradually started building their own and today, their equipment is the lowest cost yet competes with Russian and European (if not US) equipment in performance. They built not only advanced jets like copies of Sukhoi-27, helicopters, Apache attack copter, Hercules transport plane but also AEW planes, refueling crafts, Tu-14 maritime planes as well as carrier-based marine fighters. Its remarkable and India should adopt similar route with latest designs and equipment of Russia, France and Germany which it can procure co-production licenses from. India is actually lagging 20 years behind China and the sole culprit in this is HAL-DRDO entity. It is frightening that in event of China-Pakistan joint attack, India has only 10 days of arms to last and what after that? Colonization by China or give away Arunachal & Himachal, Northern UP to them? Its a real shame that India says we are producing lakhs of engineers per year but whats the real capability built for any precision equipment – radars, Electronics, Computer chips, Smart phones, Water & waste Management technologies, Ships/Submarines, jets – Zero. Everyone wants to earn money and get a cushy job, thats all. India is far, far behind and will need 20 years to catch up.

  2. WITH A DYSFUNCTIONAL HIGHER DEFENCE ORGANISATION TOTALLY CONTROOLED BY UNACCOUNTABLE OR NON RESPONSIBLE BABUS WITH NO VOTE CATCHING POWER FOR THE POLITCIANS, INDIAN ARMED FORCES STILL FUNCTION ON FEUDAL LINES WITH 2ND AND 3RD GENERATION STRATEGIC SKILLS CAPABLE OF FIGHTING ONLY BRIG OR DIV LEVEL OPS . THE COMBINED ARMS THEATRE COMMANDS , CDS OR INTEGRATED COMMANDS OR SPACE , SPECIAL FORCES OR INFO WARFARE TECHNIQUES ARE NEITHER INTEGRATED . WASTEFUL LOGISTICS AND POOR ORDNANCE SAP THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS POURED FROM TAXPAYERS TO KEEP AN OUTDATED INCAPABLE FIGHTING MACHINE WHOSE READINESS AND SPEED ARE SUSPECT . THE SOLDER SAILOR AIRMEN STARVED OF WARM COMBAT CLOTHING SMALL ARMS AMMUNITION WHICH RATHER INJURE MAIM OR KILL THEM AND THIRD WORLD DEFENCE DPSUS , ORDNANCE FACTORIES ARE THE HALLMARK OF THE 65 YEARS OF THE CROOKED CONGRESS GANDHI RAJ . THE ARMED FORCES AS A INSTITUTION HAS BEEN SYSTEMATICALLY HAMMERED DOWNGRADED ALL IN THE NAME OF THE INVISIBLE HORSEMEN AND TAKING OVER THE GOVT . THE SENIOR FLAG RANKS HAVE LOST THE SHEEN SO VITAL FOR FIGHTING AND FIELD COMMANDERS . TODAY SELF SEEKERS RENT SEEKERS , CONNIVERS HAVE JOINED HANDS WITH BABUS , RETD SERVICEMEN AGENTS AND DALALS TO LOOT THE VERY SYSTEM THEY WERE SWORN TO SERVE AND PROTECT . WITH GRANDIOSE SCHEMMES OF MODERNISATION OF RS 5LAKHS 50THOUSAND FOR ARMY , OVER 8LAKH CRORES FOR AIRFORCE AND 7LAKH 50 THOUSAND CRORES FOR THE NAVY WITH A CAPITAL BUDGET OF OVER 950000CRORES ONLY FOOLS CAN DREAM OF A MEANINGFUL MODERNISATION UNLESS CDS IS FORMED COMBINED STAFFS AND INTEGRATED HQS AT DIV CORP AND ARMY LEVEL , THE OLD COLONIAL SETUP OF CEREMONIALS , SENTRIES AND GUARDS DONE AWAY WITH THE ASC, ORDNANCE REFORMED THE ARMED FORCES HAVE A BLEAK FUTURE UNLESS STRUCTURAL REFORMS ARE DONE

    • Thats the worst comment I read on this forum. Keep the Indian forces out of such meaningless politics – they are the only honest and sincere institution left in India. I have 2 relatives in the Army at senior positions and come to know how professional IA is. Shut up please.

  3. You are a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW and author of many books But do you think that all the three service chiefs have followed the right kind of war strategy. Why do we require so many warships, submarines and three air craft carriers.?.Air craft Carriers are the costliest defense equipment, which are required only if we fight a war far away from our country, where fighter planes cannot travel such a long distance. More over Aircraft carriers are not allowed to move alone. It is like a king. It should be protected from all sides by other warships and frigates. We are following a policy of “Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu” . Do you know in 1971 guided missiles boats performed far better than Air craft carrier and war ships. which “even Russian designers could not have dreamed of”-Vice Admiral G.M. Hiranandani writes in “Transition to Triumph”Open the link and read more.

    http://in.rbth.com/articles/2013/01/07/striking_at_sea_how_the_styx_strategy_paid_off_21465.html

    In 1971 war Pakistan was able to sink INS Khukri because the array Sonar used by India had less range than the array sonar supplied by USA to Pakistan. All our ships have been working with outdated array Sonar! But None of the latest array sonar will be effective against supercavitation torpedo developed by the Soviet Union. They are capable of speeds in excess of 200 knots (370 km/h). There is report that even Iran developed the supercavitation torpedo. What is the surety that Iran will not give a few torpedoes to Pakistan. China has also developed the same torpedoes with the help of Russia? I think India has also purchased a few numbers from Russia. China also may give torpedoes to Pakistan in case of a war with India.
    Please open the link and read

    http://www.tldm.org/News22/RussiasShkvalRocketTorpedoIs3To4TimesFasterThanAnythingElse.htm

  4. The construction of roads could not be completed due to one more reason- the border roads organization’s engineers are loggerheads. The civilian engineers could not comply with army personnel and started to complain and disputes lead to delay in projects.

More Comments Loader Loading Comments