Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces, Veteran
Time has come for India to allocate more than 2% of GDP to defence. Capital Expenditure on on defence capability and infrastructure needs to be increased, while controlling the routine Revenue Expenditures. India must improve the teeth-to-tail ratio of its forces but in no way it means recklessly cutting down the tail. It means that the TAIl must be commensurate in size to the TEETH not for cosmetic purposes but for utility purposes. This needs to be worked out by the armed forces not on whims and fancies of some senior officers or armchair experts but through careful Staff analysis keeping both the present and future in mind.
Appointing a Chief of Defence Staff is the need of the hour. However there are now a plethora of Clever People to whom even the three separate services the Army, the Navy and the the IAF appears to be outdated and unsuited to modern warfare. Well we need to be wary of them. An integrated fighting force capable of deploying fast and attacking hard, whether from land, sea or air or even space, first requires a suitable command and control and administrative organisation, well worked out War/ Peace Establishments for each type of units,establishments and number of intermediate HQ along with required and suitable Equipment Tables. Next there will be the need to man the entire organisation with suitable selected and well trained manpower. Finally keeping in mind that the man behind the machine is more important, he needs to be well clothed, fed, housed and paid and also be well compensated for various intangibles and hazards of the Military Service.
Many of the Clever People also cannot help commenting on the buddy system of the Army which forms the bedrock of infantry fighting efficiency.To these self proclaimed pundits, who have never faced hardships together with a buddy, it will always appear as if the buddies are the most expensive dog walker, cook, shoe polisher, chaperone/driver to the officer’s wife/daughter/their friends. One has to wonder as to how such kind of people must be treating the women of their families because they cook, sweep, clean and wash.
The biggest disorder in India which we need to get rid of is the present Higher Organization for defence and its management. Right from revamping the CCS ( by including the CDS as non voting member ) and complete reorganisation and military integration of the Ministry of Defence, there is need for the Parliament to function akin to the USA Senate and Congress on matters defence. This should include the selection process of Service Chiefs, theatre Commanders, VCDS and CDS, once we have them, especially whenever the Seniority Principle is to be overlooked.
In India, every Tom and Dick in the Press will pass their comments on the military but will never suggest that all the Central Police Forces should be merged and we should just have National Guards( patterned on CivilArmed Police set up ) for internal duties and Borders Guards( patterned on military and officered by regular military officers) for peace time manning of the international borders. Those who advocate merger of three fighting Services have never advocated merger of all the Group A Services together with the so called All India Services, all into one single Civil Services. This Civil Service should have various Branches similar to military Arms and Services Corps. The higher bureaucracy comprising empanelled Joint Secretaries and upwards ( to Govt of India ) should be akin to General Staff cadre of the Military comprising selected Officers from all the branches.
For Bigger Bang for Every Buck spent by the Government, the entire government structure needs to be reformed. All those with dream of joining the Central Services at any level, State Government Services at any level or even Public Sector Undertakings must first serve in the Forces. This service period may vary from 7 years to 5 years. Even those aspiring fir any type of elected office also must put in minimum 3 years of military service. Military will thus remain a life long career only for a much smaller number of professionals. The entire pension burden, today which has crossed the salary burden for those in service, will reduce drastically. OROP burden will nearly vanish over a period of time.
However the mechanism for move from military service to civil service will have to be flawless and something akin to moving on a Movement Order from the last military unit to the new civil establishment. So young men joining the army at 18 and leaves at, say, 25 or joining at 21 and leaving at 28 will have acquired skills and discipline that would make him/her a valued member of the civil Service or the workforce.
Only with the above integration will the nation be able to afford to increase the GDP share of Defence from existing level to over 2%. India perforce has to balance out not only China but any other such force in Asia. It also means that presently if any vacuum is created by any American withdrawal in Our Area of Interest and influence then India has to step in.
However India must not step in physically and will not step in Afghanistan on the bidding of the Americans. All actions to support the people and the legally elected Government of Afghanistan will be taken by a India based on the requests of Afghanistan and our own interests. Pakistan will have to be warned to put a leash on its Taliban. USA government will have to be told in no uncertain terms to totally cease all military aids to Pakistan and even other aids if it does not behave.
In case Taliban continues with its activities, then India will have to increase military supplies and training assistance to Afghan Military. Increase civil supplies to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port in such a manner so as to bring down Afghan Pakistan trade to near stand still. Increase assistance to Baluch Freedom Fighters and also increase pressure on LOC in Kashmir to a level where it becomes unbearable for Pakistan.we will have to show our resolve by committing more on the reconstruction effort going on in Afghanistan.