readying army

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Feb 2018 11:55:28

THE long-stretched crisis in Doka La that almost dragged the Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China in a military confrontation last year over road construction by the Chinese army served as a big eye-opener for the Indian establishment on quickly ushering in reforms for the armed forces. After implementing ambitious reforms in the Indian army the defence establishment is now rightly working on keeping a larger talent pool ready for important tasks. There was a pressing need to enhance the combat capabilities of the Indian military especially in the wake of rising security threats on borders with China and Pakistan.

Deep structuring and modern reforms in the armed forces is of immense importance in the present situation where India is constantly facing newer security challenges from Pakistan-bred militants in Kashmir and also from China. The government did well by waking up to the importance of restructuring the army and implement reforms suggested by the committee headed by Lt Gen (retd) DB Shekatkar in last August. Reforms is a continuous process not just in procuring modern weapons but also in raising overall capabilities including motivated personnel.
The defence establishment’s idea of bringing changes to the promotion policy and assigning bigger roles to young officers will be definitely a big motivating element for the young officers. The move is rightly aimed at ensuring a broader pool to choose from for crucial tasks. It will also help the army prepare ready units of personnel trained for specific tasks. The next obvious step should be use of this talent pool in forming a high-tech mobile force that can be easily summoned to counter local as well as challenges on the borders.

Upgradation of technology is a constant need for armed forces. India has been found wanting in this aspect as compared to forces in China and the United States. The Chinese military had embarked on restructuring and reforms back in 2013. By next four years, the PLA will complete the first phase of reorganisation of its technologically-rich forces. With acquisition of cutting edge military equipment the Chinese will soon boast of a dominant battlefield management. In fact, China’s use of advanced technology in its military operations is next only to the United States giving them a massive edge. India’s efforts in this direction started long back but the urgency dawned only last year after the Doka La stand-off.
By all means China is the immediate threat for India rather than Pakistan. Indian military has done well in the past decade to strengthen its postures against China. But it will have to do more to counter the Chinese challenge that is bound to grow in the coming decade. The way China is pressing on the ‘string of pearls’ encirclement by getting unmitigated access to major ports around India, a military flashpoint is definitely in the offing. That will be a stern test for the might of Indian military.

The reforms process put in action by the government addresses these concerns to a large extent. But lot is needed to be done on the technological front. Digital battlefield is moving at a rapid pace. China jumped on the bandwagon quite early while India has been making a steady progress in this field. Reducing this gap is of paramount importance for India. Equipping the forces with latest technology is a challenge for the DRDO and R&D wings. It also needs a flatter decision-making by the government.

The latest part in the reforms to ensure right person for the right job brings into focus the role of the army schools. The army schools will have to develop a mechanism that goes in tune with the present needs and policies. Young officers with latest technological know-how must form the base of this talent pool.