Some significant and interesting information came from the Army Chief General V K Singh during his interaction with the media on the eve of Army Day 2011. He informed that during 2010, the Army lost 15 Officers, 13 JCO and 159 men in various operations. It provided immediate essential assistance in natural calamities like the Leh cloud burst, flood relief in Haryana, Punjab and UP and continued its environmental rejuvenation work in Mussoorie hills, Garhwal and Ladakh. Army had also provided all required assistance during the Commonwealth Games and its sportsmen won laurels both in CWG and Asian Games. To meet the future challenges the Army needs to be made an agile, lethal, networked organisation with enhanced operational capability, through reorganisation, restructuring, force development and relocation. The original study conducted laid down the scope for expert group studies on few issues and establishment of test beds to validate our concept before we implement the changes. “We are ensuring that our ministry and the Army are ‘in sync’ on these issues, so that the implementation is smooth,” he said. Essentially, it involved:
- Re-organising and ‘flattening’ HQs to include Army HQ, for better and faster decision making processes, reducing overlapping charters and bring in more responsiveness.
- Integration of logistics to make the logistical functions focused, responsive and structured to support high tempo of operations.
- Theatre concept of combat support to ensure synergy in provision of resources as part of theatre battle plan.
- Re-organisation and relocation to enhance and optimise our operational capabilities, both for plains and mountains.
- Bringing in more focused, operationally effective and practical training methodologies.
- Creation of network centricity. n Addressing tri service and inter agency synergy and joint-ness.
On modernisation Gen Singh said: “2010 will be the first year, in which we have endeavoured to meet all our financial budgetary targets. We have a long term integrated plan for phased modernization and capacity building. I must explain here that in any force there will be 30% state of the art cutting technology, 40% of equipment of current prevalent technologies and 30% needing change as the technology is not giving desired dividends. This does not imply that this 30% equipment is ancient, outdated or useless. It is still functional and war worthy”. Army’s thrust has been on:
- Surveillance and decision support systems.
- Acquisition of deep strike capabilities like Pinaka and Brahmos.
- Betterment of artillery.
- Bringing in equipment to make Army network enabled and then network centric.
- Betterment of our mechanised forces.
- Improving Army’s aviation capability. Responding to a query about United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), General Singh stated that the outfit is dormant and that its 28 battalion is in Myanmar.
He further stated that while the attempt at talks should be made to see the results, ULFA must lay down arms and the cadres should be amalgamated and rehabilitated. A number of ULFA’s senior leaders hiding in Bangladesh for almost two decades and handed over to India in recent moths have been released on bail by Assam government for talks. General Singh’s input was confirmed days later, when ULFA’s boss-man Paresh Barua sent a first ever video showing him and cadres including women members doing the Bihu dance with guns slung on their backs at an undisclosed location. Also shown were cadres lined up with their guns raised shouting pro-independence slogans and displaying weapons at their camp.
With reference to the Home Ministry’s announcement of 25% reduction in force levels in Jammu and Kashmir, there were by queries from the media addressed to the Army Chief General V K Singh during the interaction. This issue was later raised with the Raksha Mantri Mr A K Antony as well. The issue was whether the reduction was going to affect the Army’s forces deployed in the Valley. Both the Army Chief and Defence Minister clarified that the reduction referred to para – military forces only and not the Army.
—The author is an Associate Editor with Wordsword Features