Updated: March 5, 2021 8:34:18 am
Indian armed forces will need transformative changes to meet challenges arising out of threats from China and Pakistan, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat said on Thursday.
“Threats for which a military must be organised come from China and Pakistan. In the future, China will continue to assert itself seeking to establish dominance in states surrounding India and the Indian Ocean region…. We also stood up to our belligerent neighbour on our northern borders and thwarted their nefarious designs. Now, more than any time else, military transformation is vital to our survival,” Rawat said while delivering the keynote address during a national webinar on “Transformation: Imperatives for Indian Armed Forces” organised by the College of Defence Management (CDM).
The CDS pushed for infusion of more technology, development of indigenous capabilities and integration of defence assets and operations through theatre commands.
“India is facing a challenging and complex security environment. Some important steps that we need to take include defining the national security strategy and higher defence strategic guidance, structural reforms, synergising military and civilian administrative structures, integrating joint operations among the armed forces and strengthening India’s asymmetric capabilities. We cannot afford to delay operationalisation of joint structures like the theatre commands,” Rawat said.
The CDS lamented that each of the three services were viewing their strategic goals in isolation and there was a marked lack of synergy in operations. “There is duplicacy in demanding, warehousing and transporting. Inter-service coordination is only possible at service headquarter level. Such narrow working perspectives adversely impact force application in a dynamic environment,” he said.
Rawat said the 20th century has seen profound changes in the character and nature of warfare. “The intrusion of excessive information and rapid technological development has brought changes in the character of warfare. New tools, techniques and tactics have emerged that can be employed to undermine social cohesion and the means to connect rapidly to an audience as never before. Information is indeed more democratised today,” he said.
“Military power as an instrument of state policy needs to transform at various levels including ground strategic i.e. political-military, strategic operation and tactical level. Main dimensions of transformation are doctrine, post structure, technology, sustenance and readiness,” he added.
“The organisational structure for conventional wars or limited conflicts under nuclear overrank already exists, but they need to be re-modelled, re-equipped and re-oriented to conduct joint battles in digitised battlespace to have necessary flexibility for other types of operations which lie at the lower end of the spectrum of conflict,” he said.
Rawat emphasised that warfare was a competition between hiding and finding. “This can only be accomplished at every level by a digital backbone into which all sensors, effectors and decision makers will have to be plugged. Such interlinked and integrated structures from operational and tactical levels will deliver a secure cloud of accessible data that will enable artificial intelligence and robotics to synthesise decision-making at the speed of relevance,” he said.
He said the Indian military faces greater challenges than any other military in the world and hence needs to study the transformation concepts adopted in other countries carefully. Since independence, the Indian military has grown from a small force with limited warfare capabilities into a large and modern fighting machine, he said.
“The Indian armed forces will increasingly need to achieve more with less. This stringent demand necessitates a relook at our current force structures, doctrines, concepts and technologies,” he said.
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