The restructuring of both the MOD and the Service HQs, with the relevant changes in the AOB/TOB Rules and the creation of the CDS/PCSOC is the need of the hour, if India is to be an effective Major Power amongst the comity of nations. An integrated MoD will eliminate existing infirmities and result in higher levels of synergy, efficiency and decision making ability.
As India rises in the comity of nations as a major power in the 21st century, the mere use of ‘soft power’ may not be adequate…
As India rises in the comity of nations as a major power in the 21st century, the mere use of ‘soft power’ may not be adequate. Judicious use of ‘smart power’ would be the key. However, it is stymied by the structure of the Higher Defence Organisation (HDO) that is reminiscent of the mid-twentieth century.
Post Kargil War, based on the various committee reports, in spite of adopting the euphemistic term, Integrated HQ of Ministry of Defence (MOD) the MOD website belies the lexicon. The three Services do not form part of its organisational chart (Fig. 1) and continue to be attached HQs based on the Allocation of Business (AOB)/Transaction of Business (TOB) Rules 1961 as amended from time to time.
The MOD consists of four Departments – the Department of Defence, the Department of Defence Production, the Department of Defence Research and Development and the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare. The Defence Secretary functions as the head of the Department of Defence, and is additionally responsible for coordinating the activities of the four Departments in the Ministry.
Such a situation does not augur well for a country aspiring to be a major power in the region. In a democracy, civilian control over the military is essential. However, this implies political control and not bureaucratic control, especially over operational issues. To achieve this, it is essential for the services to be a department of the MOD and be part of the policy making body. A strong triad of the political, military and bureaucracy is the sine qua non for achieving synergy to enable a focussed and holistic approach towards strategic military planning, future force structures and deployments as well as force modernisation programmes.
Each Service on its part seeks to protect its turf and expand its own scope and relevance, at the expense of others…
Despite having outstanding and dedicated officers in the bureaucracy, the MOD is inhibited by its lack of comprehension of matters military due to lack of exposure during their service, in this highly specialised field. The expertise gained in other departments where they would have served, would be more on budgetary and accounting matters as relevant to MOD, rather than military strategy and the geo-political construct dealing with the emerging and future threats to security. This leads to decision making based more on budgetary considerations rather than a synergetic approach to counter these threats.
Each Service on its part seeks to protect its turf and expand its own scope and relevance, at the expense of others. There is compartmentalised planning against external and internal threats with some ‘jointness’ envisaged at the highest levels. This leads to a disjointed and fragmented execution at the operational and lower levels, leading to a lack of synergy within the battle space.
Hence there is an urgent need to restructure the HDO in India to empower the proposed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)/ Permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (PCOSC) that the Defence Minister has been speaking about.
There is an urgent need to restructure the HDO in India to empower the proposed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)/ Permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (PCOSC)…
India’s HDO: the Way Ahead
On September 24, 1947, Lord Ismay, the Chief of Staff to Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India, had recommended a three-tier HDO to Prime Minister Nehru, at his request. This was based on his experience as the Military Secretary to Sir Winston Churchill during World War II. Based on his recommendations, the three committees formed were:
- The Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) chaired by the PM.
- The Defence Minister’s Committee (DMC)
- The Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) as part of the Military wing of the Cabinet Secretariat.
This arrangement functioned adequately till the mid – 1950s despite the C-in-C being only an invitee to the DCC and not a member. The post of the C-in-C, who chaired the COSC, was abolished in 1955, and subsequent to the appointment of Krishna Menon as the Defence Minister in 1957, the DCC began to lose relevance as he had direct access to the PM. There does not appear to have been any holistic brainstorming at the DCC during this period leading up to the 1962 debacle.
Subsequent to the ‘Thimayya Resignation Issue’ in 1959, and the disastrous war against China in 1962, the DCC got subsumed in the Emergency Cabinet Committee and was never resurrected thereafter. The 1961 AOB/TOB Rules were promulgated and the three services ceased to be a part of the MOD and became attached offices. Thereafter, the Military Wing was moved out of the Cabinet Secretariat thereby creating a vacuum between the political and the military hierarchy as the supposed interface, the Defence Planning Staff, never got established till 1986.
While India somehow managed to overcome the hurdles of the wars in 1965 and 1971, it was more to the credit of the then PMs, who gave direct access to the Service Chiefs and abided by their advice. The Political Affairs Cabinet Committee subsumed the DCC and ECC in the 1970s, and later was split to establish the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Since then, the lack of holistic approach has been more glaring, be it in the conventional and/or asymmetric security threat domains.
Over the last year, the Defence Minister has often been heard stating about the creation of a CDS/PCOSC. Without a restructuring of the HDO, the creation of this appointment would be an exercise in futility. The need is for a new structure that is inclusive of the military, thereby ensuring a holistic and focussed approach towards strategic decision making. (see Fig. 2 ).
Restructured MOD: Possible Solution towards an HDO
The AOB/TOB Rules relevant to the MOD need a review to enable and strengthen it thereby making it capable of facing emerging and future challenges.
The CDS/PCOSC should be a permanent member of the CCS chaired by the PM, the Defence Minister’s Committee, and the Strategy Policy Group…
The following aspects need attention:
- The Services form part of the MOD and cease to be ‘attached offices’.
- The CDS/PCOSC should be responsible for all operations and for the defence of India.
- Creation of Integrated Front HQs, to cater for the threats across Northern, Western and Maritime frontiers, directly under the CDS/PCOSC.
- Re-creation of the Military Wing in the Cabinet Secretariat by locating the COSC HQ there.
The CDS/PCOSC should be a permanent member of the CCS chaired by the PM, the Defence Minister’s Committee, and the Strategy Policy Group. Posting of Service Officers within the Ministry and equating the Services with Central Services Group A, as mentioned in various committee reports bears mention again. Mere creation of a CDS/PCOSC without a concomitant restructuring of the HDO, with relevant changes in the AOB/TOB Rules, would serve no purpose. The fractured and fragmented planning would continue as hithertofore. The CDS would be seen as another hurdle by the Services to overcome in their quest for expanded relevance and procurement priorities.
However, a wholesome restructuring of the HDO suitably backed by the creation of the CDS/PCOSC and amendment to the relevant AOB/TOB Rules would lead to a better Comprehensive National Power (CNP), and support India’s quest for a greater say in the regional and world order with effective use of ‘smart power’ and CNP.
This can be achieved if concurrently there is a restructuring of the Services towards achieving an ‘Integrated Approach’ towards war fighting – a Tri-Service transformation.
The main threat to India would be across its Northern and Western borders with a complimentary or supplementary threat across the high seas to its SLOCs…
Integrated Operations: Tri-service Transformation
Jointness, Inter-operability, Joint Operations, Integrated Theatre Battles have been a common refrain in the military lexicon during the first decade of the 21st century, while referring to Joint Tri-Service Operations. The major lessons that have emerged during the closing stages of the twentieth century and the first two decades of the 21st century, has been that the success in the future battle space milieu would be directly proportional to the level of integration achieved. Such ‘integrated operations’ enables orchestration of an effective synergy to achieve a force multiplier impact over the battle space, thereby facilitating early achievement of military and political aims of war.
To enable the above, the need is to move beyond the realms of plain lexicon and look at tri-service integration at the Force and Functional levels. Such an integration would not only enable jointness of plans but would also ensure a better utilisation of the defence budget by ensuring standardisation of weapons, equipment and warlike stores, with seamless logistics and maintenance back up.
An integrated assessment of the likely future battle space milieu would enable a cohesive perspective plan on force transformation and a co-ordinated acquisition plan. This coupled with joint training and staffing of officers at middle and senior levels (within the MOD and the tri-services HQ) would enable a better understanding of integrated operations and a cohesive co-ordinated application of respective strengths to achieve a force multiplier effect. This integration needs to be done at both the Force and Functional level, and within the MOD.
A full spectrum high intensity war covering land, sea, air, space, information and cyber domain, of limited duration, is likely to be the future battle space milieu…
A full spectrum high intensity war covering land, sea, air, space, information and cyber domain, of limited duration is likely to be the future battle space milieu over the coming decades. Unrestricted Warfare or Full Spectrum Dominance with its hybrid/compound wars would add to these complexities, wherein both the Western and Northern neighbours would utilise non-state actors in conjunction with their conventional forces covering military, trans-military and non military spheres. To achieve victory in this milieu, integrated theatre operations would be imperative.
The main threat to India would be from across its Northern and Western borders with a complimentary or supplementary threat across the high seas to its SLOCs, island territories and its Eastern and/or Western seaboard. The air, space, information and cyber domains essentially encompass the ‘Force Multiplier’ and ‘Combat Support’ domains and cannot guarantee any victory, without effective land and maritime forces to counter the main threats across the land and maritime frontiers. In this construct, the Indian Army and the Indian Navy encompass strategic, operational and tactical spheres of their battle spaces, while the Indian Air Force essentially covers the strategic sphere in its domain and provides combat support to the other two services within their respective areas of operations.
In this future battle field milieu, the effect of destruction or degradation at the strategic value targets, one of the primary roles of the Indian Air Force, would have limited impact on the progress of Land and Maritime operations. However, for the success of their operations, air, space, information and cyber domains need to provide effective, dedicated and integrated combat support operations. Thus, at the apex level it can be enunciated that Army and Navy are Combat Arms and the Air Force is a Combat Support Arm. This aspect, coupled with the domain knowledge and expertise has been factored in the proposed recommendations.
The extant inter-service rivalry in the existing system is highly counter-productive. Peacetime activities such as LTIPP, procurement and employment doctrine are tailored in isolation for each service. In a similar manner, wartime activities of each service are planned and evaluated independently. These practices have resulted in division of effort and inability to profit from economies of scale. More importantly, it has inhibited the development of a modern integrated warfare doctrine. The proposed recommendation envisages an Integrated Armed Forces HQ under a CDS/PCOSC, with four Integrated Force HQ, an Integrated Force Command, and two Integrated Functional Commands (Fig. 3). Each of the Force HQ would be responsible for conduct of operations in respective theatres, while the Functional Commands for providing integrated combat and logistics support to the armed forces.
The extant inter-service rivalry in the existing system is highly counter-productive…
The proposed organisation structure is as shown in Fig 3. The restructuring affords co-ordination of effort, integrated planning, shared procurement and a reduction or elimination of inter-service rivalry. It will also provide unity of command, conforming to modern military thought. Individual Services would change from relatively autonomous war fighting entities into organisational and training hubs, responsible for acquisition, modernisation, force structuring and deployment and operational readiness as a component of the Integrated Armed Forces HQ and as per the Joint Directives and Doctrines issued by the CDS/PCOSC. The Service Chiefs would not have any operational role and thus would not exercise any operational control over the field formations.
The restructuring of both the MOD and the Service HQs, with the relevant changes in the AOB/TOB Rules and the creation of the CDS/PCSOC is the need of the hour, if India is to be an effective Major Power in the comity of nations. An integrated MOD will eliminate existing infirmities and result in higher levels of synergy, efficiency and decision making ability.