Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Babus bog down Army modernization

Modernisation of the 1.13-million strong Army, grappling with critical capability gaps in areas like artillery, air defence, aviation, night-fighting and the like, is yet to gather steam despite the deteriorating security scenario in India's neighbourhood. There are close to 100 Army procurement projects currently meandering their way through different stages amid bureaucratic bottle-necks, cumbersome procedures and general apathy, say defence ministry sources. In fact, given the "prevailing worrisome state of affairs'', it's estimated the Army will take over 15 years to achieve its optimum level of operational readiness to defend borders as well as battle militancy in the hinterland. This when Pakistan is gleefully receiving massive arms packages from the US in the name of the global war against terrorism and China is expanding its trans-border military capabilities at a staggering rate.

Incidentally, the ongoing revision of Army's war doctrine factors in the possibility of India even being forced to tackle "a two-front war'' in a worst-case scenario. But to achieve the military capabilities required for such an eventuality will take a lot of doing. The much-smaller Navy and IAF, of course, are much better placed on their modernisation paths. While the two are more technology-intensive, the Army has many more ongoing procurement projects at any given time. The need is increasingly being felt to revamp MoD's land systems acquisitions wing to fast-track inductions, as also ensure "much greater synergy'' within the Army HQ between its different "line directorates'' and the weapons and equipment directorate. 


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