Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Quick Analysis of Issues Facing the Indian Armed Forces with respect to the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD):

1.    Shortage of officers - With the most recent manpower demand, by the Indian Army in keeping with cold start and quick mobilization, both on Pakistani as well as Chinese theaters.

2.    Equipment Deficiency: From basic infantry rifle to ammunition, to ordnance, to battlefield vehicles, armored vehicles, light tanks, artillery, mountain howitzers, to helicopters & troop-equipment and heavy lift aircraft currently available not with the Army but with only the Air Force. The purchase of 155MM Gun has been pending for more than a decade!

3.    DRDO & The Dept. of Defense Production & Supplies have largely failed in providing equipment, arms, ammunition, clothing and general stores, along with the Swadeshi brigade. While on the one hand they have as a rule failed to deliver any innovation, on the other hand delaying acquisition, by a faulty make or buy process, directly affecting preparedness.

4.    Service Rivalry is actively encourage by the MoD - this has at its basis the insecurity of the politico-bureaucracy, this lack of jointness, means redundancy in resources, private armies and Special Forces of each service. It also delays decisive, quick and resolute action backed by all possible resource needs in a conflict situation-examples from 1965, to Kargil to 26/11-where NSG commando, did not have aircraft or their own helicopters or even transport, delaying and damaging prospects for quick surgical strike. The sacking of Admiral Bhagwat in MoD intrigue, as well as the scuttle of CDS-agreed to by the Army (Gen Malik) but objected to by IAF (Air Marshal Tipnis) are among many such nasty incidents.

5.    The amalgamation of the MoD with the Service Headquarters has not been implemented, despite the Arjun Singh report post Kargil fiasco. This in effect means a disconnect between the civilian bureaucracy and the Service HQ staff. This results in apathy by civilian MoD officials and disharmony with Uniformed Service HQ staff like Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) and Chief of Staff Secretariat (COSC). The non- inclusion of professional service officers in uniform means redundancy in process, duplication of files, delays, as well as a lack of direct access for the Service HQs to the Political leadership and decision-making.

6.    The Financial Adviser in integrated into the MoD, acts arbitrarily despite clear recommendations from Service Headquarters on matters relating to expenditure on acquisition, welfare, salaries, pensions as well as promotions. This affects both Capital Outlay as well as revenue expenditure.

7.    In 2004, the Dept. of Ex-Servicemen Welfare was created to deal with all resettlement, welfare and pension matters of ex-servicemen, Widows and next of kin. This has been a huge failure with embarrassing protests on One Rank & One Pension and several veterans returning medals etc.

8.    The Order of Precedence - this has been often violated by the MoD bureaucracy while dealing with Service HQ staff in uniform - starting as early as the 1962 Chinese invasion order by an Joint Secretary in MoD, to routine such provocations, including the unceremonious sacking of Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, in an order from a Additional secretary of the MoD, as opposed to Cabinet Secretariat or other Political Authority. The same is a problem at airports, at public events where the Service Chiefs and other senior officers in uniformed are made to feel inferior in comparison to MoD and other Government functionaries in Defense Production, DRDO. Defense Accounts etc. “The issue is not about money....it is about status and equivalence that existed [before the pay commission], and the command and

control relationship [between the armed forces officers and their civilian counterparts]. Admiral Sureesh Mehta

9.    Resistance to reform, delay, non-accountability, financial irresponsibility, and rampant nepotism in Ordnance factories-The Defense Procurement Procedure – 2011 (DPP-2011) while its covers all Capital Acquisitions, (except medical equipment) undertaken by the Ministry of Defence, Defence Services and Indian Coast Guard both from indigenous sources and ex-import, curiously the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) will, however, continue to follow their own procedures for procurement. This shows a lack of political willpower as well as protection of the MoD bureaucracy from similar scrutiny as the uniformed Service HQ staff.

10.    Financial degradation, and degradation of Financial Compensation of Armed Forces: The non-inclusion of a Defense adviser created a huge controversy over the recommendations made by the sixth pay commission in 2008-09. Which caused widespread dissatisfaction within the armed forces and triggered, arguably, one of the biggest crises in civil-military relations after the 1962 India-China war.

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