The Mumbai carnage brought once again to sharp focus, the criticality of having a potent defence establishment in the country. Nobody for a moment has or is suggesting that the Indian Armed Forces are not up to the mark. Indeed we do have a first rate Army, an Air Force which is much more than a match for our western adversaries and last but not the least a Navy which is a force to reckon with in the sub continent. There are nevertheless indications to suggest that a lot more needs to be done to give ourselves the teeth to be able to act as a deterrent, not only to
For the armed forces of any country to be potent, they require competent personnel and state of the art military hardware. The Indian Armed Forces are unfortunately, challenged on both fronts. The intake of officers in the Armed Forces has been suffering for a long time, especially post the economic liberalization since the nineties. While on the one hand our military challenges are mounting, the number of personnel volunteering to stand up and defend the nation is dwindling. We have it here from the Army Chief himself.
"The armed forces have, after a study, come to the conclusion that the army is not too attractive as a career for a young man, who is looking for employment...for good productive life," Kapoor said in an interview.
-General Deepak Kapoor.
Well, it hardly required a study to be conducted to come to this conclusion. We have to accept that we are well past the day and age when we could expect, the cream of the country to join the defence forces. To make matters worse, more and more officers are queuing up to quit service due to dissatisfaction or better prospects outside. Maybe if the current recession continues for a reasonably long period, the better lot might be forced to choose this as an option. In order to attract able young men in numbers required, not only do we have to make the services more attractive monetarily but also improve service conditions considerably. Developments like veteran soldiers returning their medals to the President, or the government not paying timely heed to the services demand to address anomalies of pay commission, do not auger well for the morale of the forces.
The other area of grave concern is the modernization of the forces. Regular increase in budgetary allocation for defence notwithstanding, the Indian Armed Forces are far from being the lean and thin fighting machine that they ought to be. The forces in fact are plagued with an acute shortage of critical hardware. A case in point is the deficiency of Air Defence equipment. To quote the Directorate General of Air Defence.
The Navy and the Air Force are also plagued with similar criticalities. The
The extremely short tenures of senior military commanders is not helping matters either. The tenure of a service chief is seldom more than two years and that of senior field force commanders barely over a year. Implementation of the AVSC report, has further reduced tenures of senior commanders. Jack Welch, the erstwhile CEO of General Electric, was at the helm of affairs of his company for two decades. That is the kind of time that one requires to transform an organization and optimize efficiency. Conception to fruition cycle is a long and tedious one. How can an organization progress, if the very direction of progress changes course every alternate year?
It is obvious that we have not learnt our lessons from the 62 debacle or the Kargil conflict. The Kargil Committee Report has been left to gather dust and is yet to be acted upon even a decade hence. Lack of long term vision, tendency of the government to accord priority to populist measures required to retain Power at the centre rather than address the more important issues of national security have taken a toll on our defence preparedness.
These are dangerous times that we live in today. With the Taliban threatening to take over
Will the powers that be, come out of their somnolent inactivity, for some serious soul searching and act before it is too late.WE N