BY Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces Veteran
(Published earlier in sachikhabar.co.in)
In India Khichdi is a quite a popular dish and relatively easy to prepare. In general it is a mixture of two staple food items, rice and lentil, with a variety of items added to it, ranging from fresh green vegetables, onion, garlic and various Indian masalas. However if the ratio of the staples and the add on are not in correct proportion, then things go for a six, both taste wise and look wise.
Similar is the task of restructuring our Defence Forces. All the elements of Fighting Arms, Supporting Arms and the Services must be in correct proportion along with all the fighting formations, supporting formations, supporting establishments and other essentials.
There should be no attempt to create a Chinese version of Swiss Knife like structure……..beautiful looking and seemingly with capability to do everything. End result will invariably be a structure with ability to do nothing.
As per recent news, the Army Chief has ordered a Study Group to be formed for recommending a Complete review of the current Force Structure and also a full cadre review of all ranks.
India is presently faced with the twin challenges of both strengthening the forces and modernising the fire power at the same time, with the available fiscal resources. The need of the hour is to first have a Force level which is not a spoilt tasteless KHICHDI but more than adequate for fighting a two front war and at the same time be able to manage any internal sabotage.
This two front war means, achieving capability of stopping both Pakistani and Chinese offensive simultaneously and then taking the battle inside into at least one of them. For this obviously we require more manpower. Therefore we need not fall into the Western “ Concept “ of modernization.
They have no manpower and therefore they naturally have to think in other ways. We have plenty of young capable human resource and we must utilize it to the fullest. Further, in our case, the very terrain along the border, the political scenario on the border and the disputed nature of the border dictates a requirement of large quantity of human resources.
Therefore, our Army’s Force restructuring requires raising of two new HQ Commands….North Eastern Command (present 3 and 4 Corps) and Northern Command (present 14 Corps and 15 Corps). Existing Northern Command to be named as North Western Command and augmented with a new Corps HQ (16 Corps and 18 Corps). To fight the two front war we also require raising of an Airborne Division and three mountain strike Divisions (these in addition to existing 17 Corps), which in combination with IAF Transport Command will act as our manoeuvre force or “ fire fighting “ force, as per the capabilities of our Theatre Commanders.
Now comes the resources. Firstly every one has to be clear of the fact that from Government’s Accounting Angle, any aim has to achieved by least expenditure. Whereas military principle dictates that Aim must be achieved, cost is secondary ( includes human cost in blood ). Where the twain shall meet is the decision of the Constitutionally appointed Political Authority……and this Authority alone. However it is his legal and moral responsibility to ensure that adequate resources are allocated to Forces to meet the task as spelt out by the Political Authority……in our case this Authority in general is the Parliament along with the Cabinet and in particular it is the Cabinet Committee Security along with the Prime Minister.
Now to garner resources, we need to curtail wasteful expenditure in all the Ministries at both Central and State level. Thereafter there is need to seamlessly integrate the manpower resources of the Central Govt, the State Govt and the Public Sector Undertakings. Invoking the provisions of Article 51A (d ) of the Constitution, any one wishing employment with Central / State Govt or the PSUs must first render minimum 5to7 years colour service with the Armed Forces. Thereafter the lateral move to be in a seamless manner, all worked out to the minutest detail……akin to move in the Army on Movement Orders.
In one stroke, the pension bill of the Armed Forces now more than the salary bill, and ever expanding due to increasing strength of Ex Servicemen and the OROP will reduce by over 70%. Also will vanish the reservation demands in Govt jobs of various pressure groups. Next, with fully military trained manpower available with the Central and State Police Forces and other departments, the Territorialisation of the Army can be thought of ie 60 % strength with regulars and 40% with TA. It is worth remembering that Regular British Army during the onset of WW2 had “ drowned in Dunkirk” and later the British Army which landed at Normandy along with the Americans were certainly not Regulars but TA.
Along with the planning, approval and commencement of building the required Force structure is the need to plan, approve and commence modernising the weapons and equipment. In this another major saving will be, when we stop importing our weapons and instead not only start designing and making them in India but also start exporting them.
For this to happen, our Higher Defence Management needs a thorough over haul with Chief of Defence Staff as a permanent non voting member of the CCS. A Committee comprising key cabinet ministers, CDS, the Defence Chiefs, NSA, Cabinet Secretary to advice and monitor policy implementations and a coordination committee comprising the VCDS, the vice Chiefs with CISC and the key Secretaries to coordinate timely project implementations. Reorganisation of Higher Defence Management will invariably lead to total overall of Defence Research and Defence production too.
Our GDP is rising at an rate which is the envy of the entire world rate and so should rise our defence expenditure in equal terms. Done in an planned and incremental manner, there will be ample resources available without need for scrounging around.
Therefore the COAS and his Principal Staff Officers should not get into the trap of trying to stem the rising wage bill of the Army. This is not the responsibility of the Army. The National Defence requirements including expenditure on it is not going to be met by reducing the size of the Army or by Wage cutting. Why not ask every civilian employee including the Minister of every ministry to try and stem the rising expenditure of the ministry on similar lines as suggested by so called experts with respect to the Army.
Another aspect which the Armed Forces must undertake is the review of the Cadre structure of the Officer Cadre, the JCO cadre and the Rank and File. While doing this, the annoying Civil- Military equivalence should either be resolved or put to rest.
This full cadre review is going to take place after nearly 35 years. Posts have to be created keeping the fighting efficiency in mind and not for any other purpose. It needs to be ensured that Rank -Post – Salary are not equated but operational requirement and length of service should be the over riding parameter. Allowances are based on hazard being faced and degree of difficulty in daily living conditions including psychological, emotional, social and family deprivations.
The JCO cadre too needs to be revamped. Their cadre structure needs to be worked out and matched with enhanced educational requirement, together with institutionalised training in such a manner that they are empowered to function as proper officers up to Junior Administrative grade. Then together with enhanced strength of Short Service Commissioned Officers ( in fairly large number due to invoking of Article 51 A (d ) of the constitution ) the number of Permanent Commissioned Officers will get reduced. The upward mobility in rank of Permanent cadre will improve automatically.
While carrying out Cadre review, in case any one suggests that the Civil services have around six designations and therefore Armed Forces also must equate their ranks accordingly, then Armed Forces should also demand total parity. That is every thing as per civil structure and civil pay,including the same retiring age, nothing extra. However then Army Act and Air Force Act and the Navy Act too will need to be thrown out into the Indian Ocean. Lets have total equivalence and parity.
Let it be known that military ranks have no equivalence with Civil designations. A negative example is likely to bring this out more effectively. An act of omission or commission by say a Joint Secretary level officer or an Inspector General of Police will cause maximum, a monetary loss of few hundred crores, which when identified may be recoverable. A colonel or Brigadier having similar length of service with his act of omission may deprive the country of a huge tract of real estate along with hundreds of casualties…..a entire sector of over 100 sq km or more may be permanently. With a similar act of Commission, the loss may be even bigger and recovery cost even if feasible may be horrendous both in money and blood.