Friday, June 21, 2024

India’s shrinking military capabilities


Share post:


By Lt. Gen. (Retd) Daulat Singh

Indian military capabilities shrink rapidly while the threats multiply. Instead of removing poverty, the politician turned poverty into business of vote-bank-politics. Result: Sixty-four years later Maoists control forty percent of the Indian Territory and the insurgents in the border states have influence in another 10 per cent, both with explicit support of external actors.

While the Army is battling insurgents for decades in Kashmir and in the Northeast, in all likelihood, it will be drawn into conflict with the Maoists to reclaim territories under their control. This is a direct consequence to the demonstrated incompetence of the inept and crumbling civil administration. Resources of the Army, Air force and the Navy are already at an all time low and are over stretched, undermining the capability of the Indian military machine to fulfill its primary role of coping with the challenges of external threat.

MoD’s legendary inefficiency extends battle-winning advantages to the enemy. Beijing and Islamabad are delighted with New Delhi’s clumsy response. Couple the internal threat with burgeoning external threat. Beijing boasts of capability to create three-pronged mischief on the Indian Borders. First, China has built elaborate infrastructure and potent military capability in Tibet. Second, it not only synergized anti-India activities with Pakistan but has also positioned elements of the PLA inside PoK. Third, China quietly propelled their proxy Maoists (Nepal) to the centre-stage in Kathmandu. Not to mention the advantage China gained in Sri Lanka while India lost some. Beijing now influences almost 7500 kms of land opposite Indian borders.

The Indian Navy grappling with increasing incidents of piracy, securing the EEZ, the 7500 km of coastline and Sea Lines of Communications, now faces the prospect of confronting the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean. The competitive interests of the two rapidly growing economies for energy and transit can transform the Indian Ocean in to an area of bitter conflict in the near future.

MoD floats tenders and cancels them with an unbelievable regularity. Apart from its wits, the Indian Navy will require a large and modern arsenal. New Delhi’s indecisiveness, inconsistent and callous approach to modernization of the Armed Forces, ignorance, and enormous bureaucratic red tape keeps the Army, Navy and the Air Force under equipped and devoid of adequate material and human resources to meet the growing threats.

In addition, the ill equipped military requires power projection capabilities to safeguard India’s strategic interests. Even as New Delhi’s weakness allowed India built Zaranj Delaram Highway to slip under Taliban control in Afghanistan, the Chinese lead the great game near Kabul by successfully mining copper. The irony is that while Indian taxpayer’s money helps rebuild war torn Afghanistan, Beijing walks away with the riches.

The Indian Army, the Navy and the Air Force are unequal to the task the nation expects them to execute incase push comes to shove. To cope with a two-front war, the IAF requires 60 air-worthy combat squadrons. The professional assessment to tackle the challenge of a single front war and holding action on the other front requires 45 squadrons. New Delhi sanctioned 39.5 squadrons, but has indicated intent to raise the squadron strength to 42 by the end of the current decade.

Of the sanctioned strength of combat squadrons, for the IAF only 28.5 remain air worthy today. Discounting the obsolescent fleet of the MiG 21 as also other ageing aircrafts, the IAF is left with around 22 combat worthy squadrons.

On the other hand, DRDO and the indigenous aerospace industry continue to devour precious resources that the nation can ill afford but have proved totally incapable of making the nation self reliant in respect of contemporary military hardware. Global tenders for even desperately needed military equipment remain bogged down in the complex bureaucratic labyrinth of the Defence Procurement Procedure. Ineptitude and apathy of the government is usually cloaked in fiery rhetoric that routinely emanates from the top echelons of national leadership and genuine modernization programmes continue to remain a distant dream.

The Navy will be left with nine operational submarines by 2012 against the stated requirement of thirty. Keeping in view the precarious position, I wonder what stopped New Delhi from ordering in a single stroke twelve submarines from the French and simultaneously opening a second submarine manufacturing line with another vendor. The laborious and complicated process of vetting tenders and negotiations provided adequate data to replenish the dwindling submarine resources at one go. Once again, we start this time-consuming tedious process to appoint a second vendor.

The shambles in which the Army, Navy and the Air Force find themselves today tantamount to dereliction of duty by the state, which in turn poses threat to the unity and integrity of the Union.

MoD’s legendary inefficiency extends battle-winning advantages to the enemy.

Meanwhile, without pausing for the mental lethargy of New Delhi, warfare technology has rapidly moved to pilotless or remote controlled vehicles and weapon systems on sea, land and in the air. One can practically look inside the enemy’s house sitting in New Delhi and neutralize the emerging threat by firing a missile with the help of a remote controlled pilotless drone. We are nowhere near use of such magnificent technologies in spite of the favourable opportunities that exist in the new geopolitical environment.

China and Pakistan’s support to insurgents, Maoists, and dissident groups within India is well documented. Therefore, internal and the external threats are interlinked and require seamless integration between the civil and the military. Induction of trained manpower from the military and merger of the military skills with the civil administration can be the game-changer effecting increased efficiency.

Induction of personnel equipped with military skills will not only boost the ability to reclaim territory lost but also help to hold the ground subsequently, lest Maoists or insurgents attempt to stage a comeback. Simultaneously, it will dramatically lower the ageing profile of Army, Navy and the Air Force, which is an operational necessity.

This arrangement is a win-win for civil and the military. The shambles in which the Army, Navy and the Air Force find themselves today tantamount to dereliction of duty by the State, which in turn poses threat to the unity and integrity of the Union.

Surrounded by authoritarian regimes, and located within the arch of Islamic terrorism, India is possibly the largest social experiment in diversity in the 21st century. To keep the Union intact, therefore, it not only requires reversing the swiftly shrinking military capabilities but a degree of militarization of the pacifist Indian mind as well. INAV


Related articles

5 La Liga players to watch during Copa America 2024

A look at the five La Liga players who fans should keep an eye on during the 2024...

Indian archers miss World Cup medals, but eye Olympic team quotas

ANTALYA,(Turkey) June 20: Indian recurve archery outfits produced a sloppy show and failed to win a medal in...

Former India pacer David Johnson no more

BENGALURU, June 20: Former India pacer David Johnson has died after falling from the balcony of his fourth-floor...

Hockey India names 27 core probables for pre-Olympic camp

BENGALURU, June 20: Hockey India on Thursday decided to keep faith in its proven performers while announcing a...