Both Political And Military Initiatives For Higher Defence Management Reforms

Both Political And Military Initiatives For Higher Defence Management Reforms

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Indian Army
Indian Army

Both Political And Military Initiatives For Higher Defence Management Reforms
By Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran Special Forces
India presently has 7 Army Commands, 7 Air Commands , 3 Naval Commands and 2 Tri Services Unified Commands along with a truncated HQ IDS. Even 18 years after the Kargil War , the Indian Chief Of Defence Staff is still “ Missing In Action”. Hopefully for the sake of India , he is not “ Killed In Action”. All this is due to total lack of long-term strategic planning both at the Political level and at the Military level . The Political elected leadership’s inability to understand matters defence and push through genuine defence reforms for Higher Management of Defence have led to the present highly-truncated HQ IDS . On the other hand, another major cause of the present scenario is the inability shown by the Chiefs of Staff Committee to interact directly and forcefully with the elected political leadership on matters military and matters impinging on National Security .Foremost reasons for this is the “Aloofness “ deliberately cultivated during the British Raj in the military officer cadre and carried forward even after 1947 and also the never ending inter services and even intra services turf war . Being apolitical does not mean no interaction with the elected political leadership on official matters military. Yet another cause of the present situation is the Civil Bureaucracy – Military divide at the functional level of the three Services on one side and the MoD, MoF and External Affairs on the other side. This divide if not attended to but allowed to expand may one day just Blow Up to engulf the political set up too , there by even destroying our system of governance.

Apart from the CDS, three more unified Commands essential for the current and futuristic warfare domains of Special Operations, Space and Cyberspace are still languishing. Americans , Russians and even the Chinese are incidentally developing potent military space and cyberspace capabilities, ranging from advanced ASAT (anti-satellite) and directed-energy laser weapons to cyber-weapons capable of crippling an adversary’s information networks. The original proposal for full-fledged Unified commands to handle both friendly cooperation and an adversary’s challenges in space and cyberspace in a synergised manner has been in the absence of a CDS brought down to setting up a much smaller tri-Service organisations under most probably 3 star officers ( Corps Commander level) as the current Directorate in Air HQ is headed by an Air Vice Marshal . The new Defence Space Agency to be created and headed by an Air Marshal will be essentially made by amalgamation of the existing Defence Imagery Processing and Analysis Centre at Delhi , the Defence Satellite Control Centre at Bhopal and the present directorate in the Air HQ under one separate HQ with additional personnel.. It will be reporting to Chairman Chief of Staff Committee through HQ IDS. It will be a technology-intensive Organisation that will work closely not only with HQ IDS , the three Services HQ , HQ Coast Guard but also with ISRO. Slowly additional assets should come under it progressively including control of all defence satellites and exclusive defence satellite launch pads
. Similarly the existing Defence Information Assurance and Research Agency is likely to be turned into the Defence Cyber Agency. It will be headed by a Vice Admiral ( again Corps Commander level ) . It will have both defensive and offensive capabilities . Interestingly here the turf battle is with certain intelligence agencies under the control of the National Security Adviser. A major red Herring in this regard was the issue of sorting out how the cyber agency will work within the country’s information technology acts and legal provisions. Well being a purely military organisation it will work under the Army/ Navy and Air Force Act enacted by our Parliament as envisaged in the Constitution of India. Has any legal issue ever come up regarding Units holding weapons without Arms licence from the District Magistrate ? Or has any legal issue come up for defence vehicles not getting registered with the District RTO. Do military Field hospitals / Medical units work as per Medical Council of India procedures? All such things are covered under the Act for the Defences Forces and these Acts are as legal as any other. So this agency if required should be able to hire as many experts as pure civilians but working under the Official Secret Act or they can be recruited / given commission under the Territorial Army Act.
Finally we come to the Special Forces Command . Now instead we are likely to have just a tri service Special Operations Directorate General reporting to the Chairman Chief Of Staff Committee through HQ IDS. There was some news that proposal has been referred back to the IDS because clarity is needed on its command and control structure as well as the assets to be placed under it. It is quite amusing to read about this lack of clarity . My mind goes back to 31 March 1993 when HQ Special Forces was ordered to be raised along with the Special Forces Training School under its direct Command. Suddenly I found myself , a lowly Major, responsible for the raising of both the establishments with no sight of the Brigadier to come as the Commander Special Forces and also no sight of the Colonel who would come as the Commandant of the training school. Neither the Experimental War Establishment of the HQ Special Forces nor that of the School catered for any Deputy Commander or a Deputy Commandant. Still the raisings began in earnest. A few weeks down the line , suddenly HQ Special Forces ( yes every one started to treat us as if we were already functional ) was asked by the SF Cell in the Military Operations Directorate General to forward a draft Command and Control recommendation . After scratching my head , I did forward one based on the musings of the FIRST Commander of ADHOC HQ SPECIAL FORCES , General R K Nanavatty ( who had in 1987 just been approved for Brigadier). This HQ had been raised in Sri Lanka in November1987 under the express orders of General Sunderji. I ,then a Captain, had the privilege to be one of the staff officers initially and later “chief of Staff “ ( as my Commander introduced me to General Sardeshpande , GOC 54 Infantry Division) as the sole staff officer to that legendry commander . The Commander though from the Gurkhas , in my opinion ( and in the opinion of every one from 9 PARA SF at least , if not others ) was the biggest catalyst to transform the parachute commandos to Special Forces.
A week later , after forwarding of the Command & Control letter in Apr 1993, suddenly I got a call to present myself before the Chief of Staff, HQ Western Command under whose jurisdiction the raising was to be completed. On reporting , I found him scrutinizing a copy of my letter with all the drawings in red and blue. I explained in detail the concept as envisaged by General Nanavatty ( who by now was Major General). Basically it was the Artillery Command & Control structure. Each Army command would have an affiliated SF battalion in direct support but Command & Control Vested in Commander SF .
Five months later came Colonel RS Jamwal as Commandant, , SF Training School after his successful command of 10 PARA SF. I at once “ appointed “ him also the “Officiating Commander “, as you do require someone to look up to and also for bailing you out of trouble whenever required . It was only after another four months when Brigadier SS Mann , VSM joined as the SF Commander after completing his National Defence College Course. During OP PAWAN in Sri Lanka he also had been the second commander of AD HOC HQ SF with myself as his Staff Officer . Earlier he had been the first Director of newly created Commando Cell within Military Operations. At that time too in May 1987, I had been thrust upon him by my Commanding Officer ,on attachment as staff officer. There too I had preceded him by nearly a month. Now in December 1993 when Sukhi Mann took over the Command , 95% raising of both the establishments had already been completed.
The basic concept was then further expanded and refined in all respect—– Operations, Training covering basic / advance/ group SF skills including quantification of standards, Intelligence, Command & Control, Selection / recruitment, Logistics, Communications and also Regimentation to ensure measures to prevent any growth whatsoever of “deputation mentality”. All these were accepted in principle and were to be implemented when the HQ SF would be reorganized on a Standard War Establishment with a Major General as the Force GOC.
It was also envisaged that there would be a SF battalion for each command in direct support with Commander SF as IO and COS , HQ Command as Reviewing Officer. There would be units for Army HQ strategic tasks and Army HQ reserves , a unit in direct support to Cabinet Secretariat and units in direct support to Home Ministry. Linkages to Navy and Air Force were to be there for close cooperation and to cater for the still futuristic Joint Special Forces Command. Lots of other things were also catered for and had we got it going then by no,w things would have been completely different not only in J&K but in our entire area of influence and area of interest. . Commander SF would be the SF advisor not only to the Chief/ Vice Chief / DGMO but also to each Army Commander or even the Corps Commander if need arose. In case two or more SF units had to operate in any Command then a TAC HQ SF would be established in that Command under Commander SF or his deputy to take over direct command of the SF operations under the Army Commander.
The entire Draft Standard War Establishment was made to the fullest and the minutest detail with even the charter of duties of each and every appointment worked out . It was vetted by Commander SF and shown to higher ups . Alas it will not be available any where ,as it got destroyed accidently in the aftermath of the upheaval caused in HQ SF due to moving out of Brig Mann in the most unpleasant circumstances . A few years later HQ SF itself got bifurcated and merged with Military Operations and Infantry Directorate General respectively. I can only say with full confidence that whatever proposals have been made now was there available 24 years ago and much better. With Joint Command now SF Commander should also become SF advisor to both the Naval and Air Chief and also to each of their Commands. Finally he will be the SF CEO to the five Star Chief of Defence Staff ( and to theatre Commanders , if Theatre or Front HQ are ever created) . For a start , if nothing else , make him the SF advisor to a four star permanent Chairman of Chief of Staff Committee. In fact a highly competent , experienced and dedicated SF Lt General is available to become the First GOC of the Joint Forces SF HQ. The journey commenced by Lt Col Megh Singh , Vr C with his Meghdoot Force in 1965 will reach its destination only with creation of the Joint Special Forces Command under an Army Commander from the Special Forces.
The Cabinet Committee on Security led by Shri Modi must seize the initiative and take decision to create the three Joint establishments through a Government Order and the post of a 5 star Chief of Defence Staff through an Act of Parliament . For any advice on matters SF , PMO may approach a host of Combat experienced SF veterans starting Major General OP Sabharwal, Brigadier Arvinder Singh, Brigadier Subhash Khullar, Lt General RK Nanavatty, Col KD Pathak, Major General KC Padha , Col G S Sanan, Major General Hoshiar Singh , Lt General T S Pathak , Col Arjun Katoch , Lt Gen H S Lidder , Major General Dalvir Singh , Lt General P C Katoch, Brig A K Verma , Brig Shashi Khanna, Col A S Bist , Lt Gen PC Bhardwaj , Col Roshan Lal , Major General Ashok Taskar , Col Ranjit Singh , Lt Col H Shekhawat, Brig R S Jamwal , Col Shakhtawat , Col R K S Mann , Col D H Verma , Major General Sheonan Singh , Lt Col Rajiv Nair , Brig J L Cruz, Major Ashok Sengar, Lt Col Jassani , Lt Col Marwah , Col Raman Nair, Col RS Bhaduria , Col J D Britto, Col G P Kale , Col I J Crasto , Brig Balbir Sambyal , Col Anil Nayer , Major General B K Jain , Brig MS Sandhu, Lt Col OM Kuriakose , Col K Mohan , Brig S K Thapa ,Col S S Sangwan, Col S S Deora , Col I Extross , Col Joydeep Sengupta and Major S V Jagdish ,