Ajai Shukla: Pressing the reset button in MoD

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, May 27, 2014.

  1. AVERAGE INDIAN

    AVERAGE INDIAN EXORCIST Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,762
    Likes Received:
    2,718
    Location:
    Detroit MI
    Defence Secretary R K Mathur, like his counterparts in other key ministries, will soon make a presentation on the defence ministry to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his recommendations to the prime minister, Mr Mathur - a far-sighted bureaucrat who was badly hamstrung by the former defence minister's paralysing conservatism - will choose between incremental and radical change. He could submit to bureaucratic caution and recommend process improvements that are easy and acceptable: streamlining procurement, promoting indigenisation and so on. This safe approach might include a suggestion to raise the defence budget from its current 52-year low of 1.74 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Yet, timid measures would not yield the transformative change that the new prime minister seeks.

    Instead, Mr Mathur must be visionary. He should take to the prime minister just five simple measures that would create or catalyse dramatic improvements across the wider defence arena. It would be pointless recommending a larger defence budget; anyone can improve defence by throwing vast sums of money at it. Mr Mathur should focus on getting more bang for the buck. Given the almost criminal inefficiency of our defence processes, this can be achieved without fuss.

    India's fundamental defence problem is the Army's bloated manpower, the cost of which leaves little for modern equipment. The Army chief says defending the mountainous border needs large numbers. True, but China, with far longer unsettled borders, slashed the People's Liberation Army (PLA) by a million in 1985; another 500,000 in 1997, and 200,000 more in 2003, to a size not much larger than India's. In contrast, our army is expanding, adding 80,000 soldiers this decade, when half the army's current budget already goes on salaries. Adding bayonets is useless when that leaves no money for equipment like artillery. The defence secretary must recommend time-bound manpower reduction targets, rightsizing over this decade, from 1.2 million today to a 900,000-strong army.

    These smaller numbers can successfully defend our far-flung borders, provided they can move quickly between sectors. Currently, every sector must be heavily manned in case of a full-scale attack. A poor border road network precludes the quick reinforcement of a threatened sector. A time-bound road-building plan would allow many sectors to be lightly held, saving manpower costs that could buy heavier and more accurate firepower. To meet road-building targets, an expanded Border Roads Organisation (BRO) must be placed under the defence ministry (it is currently under the ministry of road transport and highways). The defence minister must chair the apex Border Roads Development Board, which was once chaired by Jawaharlal Nehru himself. Border states must be incentivised, through border area development funds, to play their role in land acquisition.

    The third suggestion, which would be enabled by a better-connected border, is to radically outsource the Army's administrative functions. Today, based on the dated assumption that wars are fought mainly in uninhabited areas, the Army's administrative functions are discharged by expensive combat soldiers. Military salaries and lifetime pensions are paid to legions of "combatant tradesmen" who wash, sweep, cook and cut hair. In an equipment-heavy armoured division, every sixth combatant is a mechanic, performing a role that civilians can discharge more cheaply and better. Other soldiers supply rations, clothing, spare parts and fuel, jobs that most armies have privatised almost entirely. Today, even a waiter in an officers' mess is a full-time soldier, entitled to pay and pension for life.

    Privatising these functions would improve the military's "tooth-to-tail ratio", cut salary and pension bills, and create economic opportunities for local populations in border areas who would be hired by private service contractors. It would also "civilianise" defence, creating a new genre of combat service contractors.

    Fourthly, Mr Mathur should place national interest over political and IAS apprehensions and recommend the appointment of a chief of defence staff. The CDS, a five-star rank officer, appointed for a three-year tenure, is badly needed to co-ordinate and oversee manpower and equipment planning of all three services. Today, with nobody to mandate joint-service aims, priorities or roles, the Army, Navy and Air Force jostle for money and turf, wasting scarce funds in duplicating capabilities. Furthermore, without an overall commander to prioritise between competing service demands, the tri-service 15-year equipment plan is a worthless wish list that, in pandering to all three services, goes far beyond the actual availability of funds. Finally, a CDS would provide the military with unified command in war, and the ministry with single-point advice in peace.

    Finally, to create a viable defence industry the defence ministry must consciously assume a "market maker" role. For almost a decade, A K Antony has shied away from any role in developing indigenous companies into serious defence players. Instead, he reduced defence procurement and production policy to a decision matrix, devoid of judgement and discretion. The MoD must overtly and unabashedly favour indigenous production, while remaining impartial between the public and private sectors.

    To maintain even-handedness, the MoD must unburden itself of the nine defence public sector undertakings, transferring them to the ministry of heavy industries. To promote high technology, the MoD should identify innovative Indian companies and focus on their development. Controls must be loosened on defence exports to help these companies become global players, benefiting from economies of scale. At least 100 to 150 "Make" category projects must be kicked off, providing these companies the framework to grow. Technology entrepreneurs should be additionally seeded through the DARPA model, in which the Pentagon's Defence Advance Research Projects Agency funds small projects that are directed towards futuristic war. The DARPA's successes include creating the Internet, but Indian technologists have no one to turn to.

    None of these proposals is difficult for the new government, given its mandate and vision for change. The lack of a full-time minister for the defence ministry, however, would throw any transformation into doubt.

    Ajai Shukla: Pressing the reset button in MoD | Business Standard
     
    TrueSpirit1, bose and pmaitra like this.
  2.  
  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    This is an armchair analysis; as vacuous a justification as the contention of making the Siachen a Zone of Peace by withdrawing from it.

    It is what we in the Army call, as ''Situating the Appreciation (the analysis of an issue)" instead of ''Appreciation (Analysis) of the Situation".

    It is as if he has an agenda and he will use all type of reasoning, unsustainable if you will, to grind his axe.

    The comparison with China is like chalk and cheese.

    Why can China downsize?

    The Chinese do not have terrorism within its border financed and supported by the neighbouring country.

    Neither does it have any eyeball to eyeball deployment along a long and tenuous border with the ever worrying threat of the neighbour nibbling away territory if the guard is down.

    Therefore, China can have a downsized force.

    On the other hand, what prevent India from downsizing?

    India, on the other hand, has to have troops along the whole border with Pakistan just to ensure that Pakistan does not nibble away territory and claim it as theirs. It must be remembered that as per the 1972 Simla Agreement, the international border in inviolate and any territory captured in a war has to be returned. It is not so for territories captured in Jammu & Kashmir. In Kashmir, it is a ‘winner takes all’ matrix. Therefore, it become paramount to hold physically practically every inch of the 740 km (if my figures are right) India Pak Line of Control.

    In addition, one has to also have troops for Rear Area Security where the terrorists who may infiltrate have to be apprehended or for reaction where they have struck or reported to be holing out. These troops also act as reserve for action or covering gaps or launching a counter attack or taking the war into Pakistan, in case of a full fledged attack by Pakistan.

    If one does not hold the LC in strength then one will come to grief as India did in Kargil, where it held the Line of Control very thin.

    And then there were no reserves for immediate reaction. It had to come from the Valley.

    Less troops deployed will only mean leaving large unguarded gaps and inviting another Kargil.

    Another issue is that troops cannot stay on the front limes forever. They have to be rotated after an interval. This also requires troops, who are not in contact. This rotation adds to the numbers.

    This rotation is also necessary for morale for one cannot expect people to join the Army and not have a family life. If that were the case, then celibate monks would only be fit to be soldiers.

    Add all the above up and one will realise why we have the strength (numbers) that we have.

    Thus, the comparison with China is fallacious and ill informed.

    Shukla being an ex Armoured Corps officer (tank man) has no experience in the mountains or on the LC and so he speaks from an armchair.


    There is no doubt flexibility is an essential part of the conduct of warfare. Roads assist in a major way.

    However, Shukla's contention is more of a 'paper exercise' rather than an analysis by a 'hands on' knowledgeable person.

    Troops are not deployed on the border just on the premise that there are troops available and they must be used.

    The deployment is based on Appreciation of the Situation. to include Threat Analysis and then boiling it down to the Options and the Best Course of Action.

    If they are what he calls "heavily manned", then there must be some good reasons to do so. The deployment is not for a lark. It has evolved dynamically as the threats evolved.

    One cannot just move deployed troops from place A to place B, as if one was playing a video game. Moving any troops leaves gaps and that gap is filled by the flanking troops and the result is that by this adjustment to fill the gap left by moving out troops to another sector, the holding of the defences become thin. And that means that the deployment visualised on the Threat, becomes vulnerable.

    Further, it will be rare that the enemy will attack at only one point. Such an action will give no results. One attacks on a broad front. There is a Main Attack, simultaneously a Subsidiary attack along with a diversionary attack all being executed over a broad front, and all appearing to be equal in strength and composition in the initial stages, so that the enemy is ‘fixed’ i.e. cannot switch forces and is kept guessing which one is the Main attack.

    The whole game in thwarting attacks is the superiority in combat ratio and changing it at the appropriate moment, having guessed which is the Main Attack and thus the area of interest. This changing of the combat ratio is done with what is known as ‘reserves’, applicable both for the defender as also the attacker. As an explanation of ‘changing the combat ratio’, if the defender being attacked (based on the universal principle of 3:1 i.e. three times more in strength and composition that the attacker must have) changes the ratio and makes it 3:2, then the chances of the attack failing is ripe. It is the same for the attacker. If the attacker increase the ratio in his favour, then the chance of the attack being successful increase.

    Therefore, the whole game is applying the reserve optimally at the appropriate time, when the enemy has shot its bolt.

    Hence, roads are not meant for deployed troops, but for reserve movement. Road enhances the flexibility of the force.

    The battle winning factor is to get the enemy to commit his reserves prematurely and at the wrong place, so that the enemy’s options are narrowed.

    At the same time, it would not be correct to surmise that deployed forces cannot be switched. It can, because the principle is that once a reserve has been employed, one has to ‘recreate’ reserves.

    The principle of ‘reserves’ is applicable from the Theatre level down to the unit level.

    In the Kargil War, since China was dormant, and it was sure that it would be a one front war, formations were moved from the East.

    Therefore, roads are important and it should be build for both lateral movement and forward movement, but it is not only for troops that ‘heavily man’ the LC or LAC. They are basically for the movement of reserves/ recreating reserves.





    Well said for a person who has not seen war but surely has not stood vigil on the frontier.

    His contention would have been ideal for the award of a PVSM, if nothing else!

    These combatant tradesmen are an asset to the IA. Which civilian will ‘wash, sweep, cook and cut hair’ when under fire?

    There was a General who got his PVSM on doing just what Shukla is doing. To cut the ‘teeth to tail ratio’, the Army AT (Animal Transport) and Pioneers (combatant who build ALGs or carry military loads under fire) were reduced, thereby saving costs on manpower, animals and maintaining the organisation. Commendable action by the General, for the Ministers and babus who are always looking for avenues to cut costs since the overlook efficiency.

    However, in the Kargil War, when the troops were in action, military loads had to ferried up to areas won by the combat troops. But then there were no AT companies (muleteers and mules) and no Pioneer (combat porters). So, how was it solved by the Army HQ where the General who ordered the cuts and got the PVSM? Privatise! Local donkeys and civilian porters from Jammu.

    Ideal, what? No sir. At the first shot, the donkeys and the porters bolted. But the task of ferrying the combat loads still was there. So, who did it? Combat soldiers, who were otherwise required for combat and the ‘tradesmen’, who are trained to be soldiers first and then tradesmen, who Shukla decry as a waste of money . In all units, they form the group known as ‘fighting porters’ and they also include the clerks. Clerks are also a ‘waste of money’ in these computerised days. Lets get rid of them too, right?

    By milking combat soldiers from combat, for ferrying combat loads, it only depleted the ‘combat ratio’.

    If ‘In an equipment-heavy armoured division, every sixth combatant is a mechanic, performing a role that civilians can discharge more cheaply and better’, can Shukla guarantee that such civilians will hold there nerve when the enemy artillery opens up and the tank columns are under air attacks, which is inevitable when the armour columns ‘debouch’ (to use their favourite word)?

    Administrative Areas or Maintenance Areas are the favourite target for enemy air strikes. Will civilians hold their nerves? Will the private agency guarantee the monetary benefits and assistance for their civilians killed that the Govt gives for a combatant who dies in action?

    What Shukla states is a theoretical stupor, far removed from realities.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2014
  4. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    14,140
    Likes Received:
    8,528
    Location:
    North Carolina, USA
    @Ray
    Sir, you should post your response at the Business Standard.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    I have stopped posting comments to newspapers since they do not publish and have their own agenda.

    In fact, I had a run in with one of those in the Editorial Board of a prominent Calcutta newspaper during a seminar and he was livid since I had punctured his self assumed importance as an expert on internal security and human rights.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  6. TrueSpirit1

    TrueSpirit1 The Nobody Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,575
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    India
    @Ray Sir.....Zabardast post. Everyone ought to read it & learn. Please do share it across other channels.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
    SajeevJino likes this.
  7. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Long walk Elite Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    5,654
    Likes Received:
    3,032
    Location:
    Inside a Cage
    .


    I already Linked it to Col.Ajay Shukla

    [tweet]471303064184299521[/tweet]

    [tweet]471486365826183169[/tweet]
     
    TrueSpirit1, AVERAGE INDIAN and Ray like this.
  8. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2011
    Messages:
    6,687
    Likes Received:
    2,357
    So what is jabbardast in that post where Ajay has posted his known prejudices....

    Give Borders where tanks can not go to Civilians....

    Have only Tanks in the IA ... rest all will fall in place...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  9. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    14,140
    Likes Received:
    8,528
    Location:
    North Carolina, USA
    Oh, I have the same problem. How the editors can ignore my eloquence and penetrating wit is just beyond me :yuno:

    I would have paid money to see that.
     
    TrueSpirit1 likes this.
  10. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2011
    Messages:
    6,687
    Likes Received:
    2,357
    Shukla's article should be sent to MEA mandarins so that they shit bricks realising that Chinese border will be unmanned and when Chinese march down Tawang, Shukla will then do blitzkrieg from Tezpur.... towards Delhi perhaps... !! Because it will take another twenty years for those kind of infrastructure to come up which he fantasises. Even then, what is sacrosanct of that infrastructure which gets blocked by landslides, heavy snow and blizzards.

    In fact in 1962, Chinese infiltrated behind defences and blocked roads and ill prepared IA panicked as they did not have sufficient stocks to remain.

    For mountains there is no substitute to holding. Those who hold enjoy the advantage.

    How would Shukla know it ... he has not seen a molehill ??
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2014
    TrueSpirit1 likes this.
  11. rock127

    rock127 Maulana Rockullah Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Messages:
    8,941
    Likes Received:
    10,298
    Location:
    India
    Why should we downsize our forces? It's strange this suggestion is coming from such a senior person ie. Ajay Shukla

    Depending on the serious threats by China and Pakistan, India is just keeping a minimal deterrent force. Did he even try to actually put the basic things in perspective since even a normal person can understand the threat perception India has?

    The teeth of forces is Air Force and we have serious shortage of planes and this guy is asking to reduce even the troops on ground. :dude:
     
    TrueSpirit1 likes this.
  12. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    43,118
    Likes Received:
    23,545
    Location:
    Somewhere
    This is what Field Marshall Wavell has said:

    “When it was the victory, the cavalier claimed it outright, the gunner boasted of his calibre but the infantryman stood silent with victory at his feet.”
     
    aerokan, rock127 and TrueSpirit1 like this.
  13. rock127

    rock127 Maulana Rockullah Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Messages:
    8,941
    Likes Received:
    10,298
    Location:
    India
    The "Business Standard" is lowering its Standard by hiring such people to write for them.

    These types of guys SHOULD be banned before talking on topics of national security and strategic issues.
     
    SajeevJino likes this.
  14. archie

    archie Regular Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2013
    Messages:
    453
    Likes Received:
    229
    Location:
    India

Share This Page