As India is rising in a flurry of economic activity, Digital India, Make in India, bullet trains and Smart Cities, what appears to have lost focus is the need for the ‘Smart Warrior’ in the cutting edge of the Security Sector (Armed Forces, Para Military Forces (PMF), Central Armed Forces (CAPF) and the Police) even as their roles and tasks differ and the requirement of equipping, organization and training will need separate avatars of smart warriors. We seem to be undergoing the same phase as the US Army post the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, wherein an in-house army study revealed that while enormous investments were being made on big ticket weapon systems, the foot soldier was largely neglected.
It is ironic that while infiltrating Pakistani terrorists are equipped with GPS devices, in our case even Special Forces units are deficient of GPS.
Today, we talk of aircraft carriers, advanced fighters, nuclear capable supersonic missiles, ATVs, space and cyber, but the foot soldier are woefully neglected. The Army faces a shortage of over 3,50,000 bullet proof jackets, lacks modern small arms including state-of-the-art assault rifles, surveillance equipment by day and night. Army’s Future Infantry Soldier As A System (F-INSAS) conceived in April 2005 as part of Infantry Vision 2020 appears at least a decade away. Same goes for the Battlefield Management System and the Tactical Communications System.
Defence Budget 2016-2017 leaves only Rs 12,000 croes for modernization from the Rs 78,587 crores capital expenditure, rest being for committed liabilities. So, what comes to the foot soldier will likely be pittance, if anything at all. The Special Forces are slightly better off but certainly equipped the way they should be, besides ladled with large deficiencies in weapons, ammunition and equipment. Modernization of the CAPF and police forces has really not taken off even as they have imported small number of small arms, their effect diluted anyway with emphasis on raising more and more units.
Focus on the smart warrior is essential because of the enlarging threats that India is facing and is likely to face in an era of hybrid conflicts raging in the digitized battlefield. An essential basic for equipping the foot soldier is to take into account levels of sophistication terrorists and insurgents have achieved and likely to achieve in future.
It is ironic that while infiltrating Pakistani terrorists are equipped with GPS devices, in our case even Special Forces units are deficient of GPS. This is just one example. We are flying UAVs over the Maoist infested areas but what is the use if the CAPF battling below cannot get real time information? Lackadaisical approach to equipping the foot soldier has direct bearing on overall combat efficiency and results in avoidable loss of lives. Our foot soldiers must be equipped to cope with expanding terrorism, asymmetric and fourth generation wars simultaneous to short, intense, hi-tech wars.
Lackadaisical approach to equipping the foot soldier has direct bearing on overall combat efficiency and results in avoidable loss of lives.
A cliché in the Army three decades back was that if six tanks could be imported less, the foot soldier could be armed to the teeth for modern conflict. This still holds good. Ironically, products of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) too are poor quality and equipping the foot soldier is last priority. Maps provided by the Survey of India of Indian Territory have not been updated past decades.
In 2012, after weeks of planning off the Google map when the CRPF raided what they thought was a Maoist stronghold 29 kms from the town and police station of Behramgarh, they discovered the village Bodiguda (in Chhattisgarh State) with 15-20 thatched huts inhabited by Muria tribals who had never heard of India and thought Maoists were the government.
What the smart warrior needs is:
• one, the ability to see the enemy / terrorist (by day, night, in inclement weather) before the enemy / terrorist sees him – battlefield transparency to give him adequate advance warning;
• two, adequate fire power to last the mission and to effectively eliminate the enemy / terrorist in the fleeting moment the target appears – at longest possible range once identified;
…capacity building for night enabled operations and ability to operate seamlessly in a net-centric operational scenario is a distant reality.
• three, state-of-the art communications with adequate power packs to last the mission – battery packs could be light weight wearable and even rechargeable using sun / ambient light;
• four, protection from small arms, splinters and blasts;
• five, survivability in all types of terrain and weather – to include camouflage and concealment;
• six, light weight dress and wearable and equipment;
• seven, emergency rations for the mission;
• eight, mobility through air, water and sub-surface, and;
• nine, navigation equipment including the GPS, GIS, and the like.
The smart warrior should be able to operate in the digitized battlefield and handle and exploit the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Information and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4I2SR) systems as and when these are introduced to create positive asymmetrical capabilities and comprehensive competitive edge over adversaries. The added requirement will be to have the ability to function in the NBC environment as well as CBRN terrorism.
Army’s F-INSAS was conceived in April 2005 as part of Infantry Vision 2020, perceiving a multi-mission, multi-role war fighter who is part of the system that contains numerous modular integrated sub-systems. It is to be effected in three phases; Phase 1 includes Weapons, Body Armour, Clothing and Individual Equipment; Phase 2 is the Target Acquisition System and Phase 3 comprises the Computer Sub System, Radio Sub System, Software and Software Integration.
Lack of technical understanding at the hierarchical level permitted the infantry to go separately for Phase 3, creating a situation where the Infantry was to reinvent the wheel.
The Infantry Directorate handling F-INSAS is likely to largely go for DRDO products. Weapons Sub-System, Body Armour and Individual Equipment Sub-System are somewhat progressing. The basic weapons and BPJs, Ballistic Helmets along with other accessories at a conservative estimate are likely to start getting fielded in infantry battalions in next 3-6. But capacity building for night enabled operations and ability to operate seamlessly in a net-centric operational scenario is a distant reality.
The Infantry Directorate insisted they would handle Phase 3 comprising the Computer Sub System, Radio Sub System, Software and Software Integration by themselves, even while the Directorate General of Information Systems (DGIS) was already developing the Battlefield Management System (BMS) for the Army at the battalion / regiment level. The plea taken by the Infantry Directorate was that the BMS under development by DGIS was for integrating platform-based entities, which was incorrect because the BMS also covers Mechanized Infantry in “dismounted” role same as infantry.
Lack of technical understanding at the hierarchical level permitted the infantry to go separately for Phase 3, creating a situation where the Infantry was to reinvent the wheel. That is why a former Brigadier in-charge of F-INSAS stated “ability to operate seamlessly in a net-centric operational scenario is a distant reality”. Fortunately better sense prevailed in recent times with Infantry Directorate aligning with the BMS albeit after losing many precious years.
Weapon sub-systems include CQB Carbine, Assault Rifle, LMG and UBGL. Body Armour and Individual Equipment Includes BPJs, Modular Individual Load Carrying Equipment (MILE) and Survival Kit. Target Acquisition Sub-System includes Night Vision Devices, Weapon Sights and Hand-Held Target Acquisition Devices. Computer and Communications Sub-System comprise wearable light weight, rugged computer with a display and software defined / IP based radio.
Increasing use of drones will see advent of laser weapon to down them. Such technology is already in use in some branches of US Military.
With the advancements in technology, the smart warrior will see increased use of following:-
Drones. Proliferation of drones for surveillance, monitoring, attack and undertaking terrorist missions. The Army is on the verge of introducing mini-air vehicles (MAV) while CAPF and police are already using cam-copters for surveillance and monitoring. Security forces are also using them in J&K. The smart warrior should be able to use them as well as neutralize them. Increasing use of drones will see advent of laser weapon to down them. Such technology is already in use in some branches of US Military.
US Military Technology Secretary Mary J Miller recently said US Army aims to have such weapons deployed by 2023; to shoot down missiles, drones, even artillery shells. While Indian Army plans to induct Mini Air Vehicles (MAVs) in all infantry battalions, India should use its strategic cooperation arrangements with friendly countries including the US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) to develop such futuristic weapons through JVs.
US law enforcement agencies have gone in for the DroneDefender Rifle that uses radio pulses to disable a hostile drone within a 400-meter radius. The DroneDefender also can prevent detonation and other remote functions. This tactical cyber rifle further provides a glimpse of the future of high-tech warfare.
Significantly, the Chinese military envisions its drone swarms scouting battlefields, guiding missile strikes and overwhelming the enemy defences through sheer numbers.
Robots. Japan is hosting a ‘Robot Olympic in Japan during 2020. But as for defence applications, remotely piloted US aircraft have already supplied troops with overhead surveillance as well as the ability to launch precision-guided bombs. Ground robots have also proved their worth, especially in the fight against improvised explosive devices.
In the US, an unmanned Humvee has been driven around at a speed of 56 kmph without deviating from its planned route.
In 2006, it was announced that India will be pursuing technologies for developing a robotic army, the impetus being the realization that transnational actors and unconventional forces pose a growing threat when compared to the risk of a traditional inter-state conflict plus robotic plans announced by other nations.
In 2012, a report in UK’s Mail Online quoted Anatoly Serdlukov, Russian Defence Minister, revealing that Russian arms procurement program 2011-2020 would encompass introduction of super weaponry including weapon development based on new physics principles; directed energy weapons (DEWs), geophysical weapons, wave-energy weapons, genetic weapons, psychotropic/psychophysical weapons and the like. Militaries will continue developing robots for their own purposes, an example being the Killbots Army planned by the Republic of Korea.
In the US, an unmanned Humvee has been driven around at a speed of 56 kmph without deviating from its planned route. Such capability would have multiple applications, saving human costs and lives. Obviously such future platforms would be fitted with cameras and weapons as well. Such smaller robots of the size of a golf cart (Gladiator – carrying a machine gun, rockets and nonlethal weapons) have already been developed that can be controlled by PlayStation video game controller or software plug-ins, allowing semi-automatic and fully autonomous modes. Then is the medial robot’Bloodhound’ (improved version of the ‘packbot’) which can locate wounded soldiers, checking vital functions and administer morphine.
The China-Pakistan anti-India construct together with some 39 organizations by MHA in India may see many more J&K like situation of stone pelters versus the Pellet Guns controversy.
US has already produced a working automated sentry gun and is currently developing it further for commercial and military use. The US Army has also been developing an Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System consisting of a remotely operated sniper rifle attached to an unmanned autonomous helicopter intended for use in urban combat or other missions requiring deployment of snipers. In all probability this system is already deployed.
Similarly to ground robots, USVs and UAVs are also being researched further incorporating weapons and surveillance devices. The next challenge being addressed is to develop fully autonomous systems that can interoperate with humans. India needs to focus on such technologies leveraging its strategic cooperative relationships and the ‘Major Defence Partner’ status that has opened access to almost 90% advanced US technologies. Robots will continue to play significant role in terrorist related situations.
Non Lethal Weapons. The China-Pakistan anti-India construct together with some 39 organizations by MHA in India may see many more J&K like situation of stone pelters versus the Pellet Guns controversy. NLWs range from pellet guns, rubber bullets, wooden bullets, water cannons, tear gas, stun and pepper grenades and sprays to 12-gauge beanbag rounds firing entangling nets, to lasers.
“India being continuously subjected to terror actually suits many… India is a sponge that absorbs global terror”, stated Ashley Tellis of Carnegie Endowment.
The US Army is fielding the M-98 grenade, which causes a flash and loud bang upon hitting the ground. Since 2008, Israelis have been using ‘Skunk’ for crowd control – spray from a water cannon, which leaves the odor of rotten sewages wherever it falls. A veteran suggests we use water cannon with indelible ink that would mark the terrorists and the mob supporting their attack.
Improved Surveillance Devices. America’s BAE Systems has unveiled a product that would allow pilots to see through dust, fog and smoke. Special binoculars with such capabilities are already available.
“India being continuously subjected to terror actually suits many… India is a sponge that absorbs global terror”, stated Ashley Tellis of Carnegie Endowment. We need to fight through the spectrum of conflict on our own, any outside help being bonus. The modern day soldier and cop must be transformed into smart warriors (man-machine-technology mix) suiting their respective roles to combat 21st Century threats.