Indian Armed Forces

Defence India: Why Our Armed Forces Cannot…..?

(By and large all Indians incl the author of this article, are proud of our Armed Forces and appreciate the extremes of the vagaries under which they keep a vigil on our borders. This article questions the mindset of the planners both at our Service HQs as well as at the Ministry of Defence, as to why can't they be proactive in their thought process towards various issues raised in this article).

Indian Armed Forces has been a substantial force in the last several decades that our enemies and adversaries know it very well. There had been a thaw in the modernisation plan of all 3 wings of the Armed Forces in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The Army lacked effective fire powers, the Navy lacked combat vessels and the Air Force its Air Dominance capabilities. All three services suffered from the lack of replenishments besides largely operated in silos with an obsolete way of coordination…the burning example of which was evident in the Kargil War.

It was beyond imagination that the Army lacked personal Bullet Proof Jackets, NVGs and even credible assault rifles in all categories. The artillery system was age-old with handful of the Bofors Guns remaining operational. The indigenous tank T-90 Mk-I had several shortcomings and the Army Aviation lacked any semblance of firepower. The Army HQs had sought a Mountain Strike Force (MSF) with commensurate lightweight military hardware on which the previous govt had been dragging their feet. The Navy had run short on Ships, Submarines, destroyers, fast boats; in both numbers and qualities. The Aircraft Carrier acquisition from Russia had hit the time and cost barrier, unable to maintain credible presence in the three see surrounding Indian coast. The Indian Air Force too had run short of several squadrons of fighter aircraft after the 120 Rafale deal had all but crashed. The worst was its transport fleet with Avro already retired of operation and AN-32 on the verge of getting obsolete.

Thanks to Modi Govt who realised the desperations that our Armed Forces were faced with and started with modernisation plan albeit at a gradual pace. There came “The Galwan Clash” and Indo-Chinese border escalation across the LAC when Govt of India had no option but to go for global shopping of Arms & ammunition on emergency mode. Thanks to the several timely military acquisitions plan incl Rafale deal, Tejas induction and the raising of the MSF that the Chinese couldn’t escalate any further. The modernisation plan had to catch-up and it did to large extent owing to the process initiated in 2014-15 itself. As on now, all three services of our Armed Forces are reasonably comfortable with the new acquisition and inductions as well as defence preparedness as shown below. These are likely to get better in the coming months and years with India's ambitious "Atm-Nirbhar Bharat" plan as well as some sweeping changes in the operations that include the "War Theater" concept and making the troops much younger. These are all very welcome steps to make India initially a formidable regional power, having the potential to become a major global power too.

However, larger questions that arise, are whether the above acquisitions have translated in the force projection of our Armed Forces? The numerous terrorist “Launch Pads” proliferating across the LoC shows that our enemy on west is unperturbed. They are clandestinely operating numerous Drones for surveillance, Drug trafficking and terrorism on an almost daily basis. On the other hand, the ineffective vigil on the LAC has kept us in dark on the continuing Chinese encroachments in Doklam, Arunachal and Ladakh/Himachal sectors. Why is our military mostly reacting to the various Chinese designs rather than being proactive in intercepting/countering them? Despite Chinese 2013 threats in Depsang, why have we not consolidated our position to strength in these sectors? Why is the gap in vigilance continuing like those of Kargil in the past or the ingress of PLA in Depsang plains including Daulat Beg Oldi in 2013 or Pangong area in 2018-19 up to finger-4? Why it is that we invariably come to know of enemy incursions after they have occupied part of our territories or gone back after camping for several days. Why is that a handful of PLA troops intrude in our territories threatening and/or abducting the civilians and we come to know of them only after they have retreated? There are instances of infiltrations through our eastern border too whether they are illegal migrants or terrorists. Several questions keep arising every now and then that pertain to the efficacies of our Armed Forces or paramilitary forces as to why they Cannot…?

We have highly effective ground attack aircrafts (both fixed wing and rotary) that can destroy the numerous terrorist launch pads without crossing the LoC. We also have guided munitions and highly precise artilleries that can be used for this purpose…BUT…we are not being pro-active. We keep waiting for the terrorists to dig holes under the border fencing, come to our territories to cause havoc. We know where from the Pak Drones are operating. Why can’t we launch artillery attacks to destroy them while they intend launching them rather than waiting for them to cross over and some getting through the defences too?

Why have we been so wanting on monitoring the enemy incursions across LAC? Why can’t we provide the cheap and effective surveillance Drones to the Civil Defence Committees all along the villages adjoining LAC for operating on a daily basis or so and capturing the drone intelligence at the regional monitoring bases having Rapid Action Forces which could be dispatches at the earliest hint of intrusion? What prevents us from using our Cartosat or other Earth Observation / military satellites in picking the PLA movements? Why it was so that 3 villages in Doklam area were constructed by the Chinese before we came to know? Why can’t the Army seek raising another MSF that can provide them the freedom all along the LAC? There are similar questions on the loopholes in our territorial waters and EEZ too.

It is a universal truth and habitual fact that the military might of a nation invariably transforms into the power projection of its Armed Forces…something that we are unable to see clearly. Time has come when the Armed Forces of New India must change its strategies from largely passive defence to active/offensive proactive defence. It is true that India doesn’t believe in occupying others’ territories but that doesn’t mean that we should not create enough fear and apprehensions in the mind and souls of our enemies to refrain from such indulgence. JAI HIND!!!

Read More Articles ›

View Other Issues ›