Make In India Seminar : Armed Forces Needs Must Be Realistic
By Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces
(an old article published in Jagruk Bharat in 2016)
A front page article in ECONOMIC TIMES had the heading ” Armed Forces Needs Must Be Realistic : Secretary “. This was the Secretary Defence Production, MoD, Shri A K Gupta, pontificating on the subject of shaping of General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR) of various military hardware required by the Indian Armed Forces in the foreseeable future. Though he is entrusted to provide the best to the Forces, amazingly he was advising the Services to tone down the Qualitative Requirements, as ‘ ambitious qualitative requirements ‘ were inhibiting Private Sector participation in many projects. Where as he should have been exhorting the Private Sector to increase their expenditure in R& D, come forward to support the Prime Minister’s MAKE IN INDIA’ initiative and try their best in meeting the QRs as laid down.
GSQRs are made by professionals (there should be no doubts about it) after following a very exhaustive process and is always futuristic……to fight a future war and not the last one. I am sure the Secretary is aware that before finalising the GSQR, various stake holders are consulted and vetting is done from all possible angles by multiple agencies. A major equipment system may take 10 to 20 years from GSQR stage to that of becoming a part of a UNIT armoury. Hence perforce one has to look at the futuristic development of the battlefield, likely adversaries and their capabilities, development in science and technology and various other factors. Of course our own manufacturing capability will come into the picture, but only later on, not at the time of formulation of the GSQR. Once the GSQR is made and approved, then it is the next stage decision of Making it on our own or taking some help from others…. For which we will need to pay. It may be beyond our immediate capability but nothing stops us from making the equipment with the essentials of the GSQR and carry out incremental add on. However the System will have to have very strict accountability so as to ensure that….Forces are not left in a lurch midway……..as has happened in many a Project.
Here my memory goes back to November 1993, when I a Major only, had the opportunity to enter the office of the COAS, accompanying the Commander Designate Special Forces, Brigadier S S Mann. We were there for just about 15 minutes but still remember the words of General B C Joshi, a visionary General, looking straight at me said ” young man, while projecting your requirements do not hesitate in asking for even the moon. My endeavour will be to provide the Special Forces with the best we can”. In contrast with the above, today the Forces are being advised to tone down their GSQR by Secretary in the Mod ! YES it can be done, provided we or the UNSC is able to enforce a law that NO COUNTRY is authorised to attack India using weapons and equipment with superior GSQR than what Indians have !!!!!!!!!
What is required to be changed is the bureaucratic (both civil & military) ineptitude and sloth, coupled the tardiest dysfunctional existing procedure for acquisition of equipment for the Forces. Mere clerical procedures cannot be above the National Security. The MoD must be staffed with professionals from top to bottom with a mix from both CIVIL and the MILITARY. The Civil Services too must under go the requisite training and courses at various levels in both civil & military institutions, specialize in a given field and serve in the MoD from Deputy Secy level upwards for laid down tenures.
Apart from TIMES of INDIA, even the BUSINESS STANDARD Editorials has commented on this remark of the Secretary, Defence Production. However, they have naturally backed the Private Sector, who are simply not ready to spend their own money on R&D but want to grab as much as they can get in the name of MAKE I INDIA. At the first opportunity blame is placed on the AMBITIOUS military GSQR, knowing fully well that the military CANNOT and WILL NOT join debate with the KNOW ALL Press.
CAG audit reports are basically from the financial angle (there is certainly no expertise to carry out audit from military angle) but are quoted extensively by vested interests to question the GSQR, the Forces and the Govt. As per the editorial, based on the GSQRs certain items were unavailable any where in the world and therefore straight away the verdict was…….FAULTY GSQR. Where as, a more logical conclusion should have been…. Item not available off the shelf commercially. Probably the need was peculiar to our Army only or for others the need was so small that those Armed Forces obtained it thru their IN HOUSE effort.
All Ranks nowadays are well educated and well trained on their respective WEAPONS and EQUIPMENT and no one should make the mistake of trying to equate them with Unskilled or Semi Skilled workers, certainly not the PRESS. Forces are also fully aware of the fact that the Weapons & Equipment provided to them has been procured from the LOWEST BIDDER !!!!!. However our soldiers are still ready to place their lives on the line, as they have full faith in their training with those weapons and more so have full faith in the leadership of their Officers who lead them into the battle.
Thus it seems quite strange that instead of refining the Procurement Decision Making and ensuring that the Procurement System is fully accountable, there is clamour for the dilution of the Forces GSQRs. No dilution can be made or should be made based on demands of the Media, PSUs, Private Companies or even the CAG. After vetting by the Procurement System, the final Decision Maker should either go with the GSQR or issue directions for incremental additions to be made over a fixed time frame to the basic product as per the GSQR. One should never forget the fact for Financial Accountants, COST is the ultimate……..Aim To Be Achieved By The Cheapest Means. Where as for the Military…..Aim Must Be Achieved, Cost is Not Material. It is for the elected Political Leadership of the day to ensure the balance.