Indian infantry needs to modernise itself

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by Kunal Biswas, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Modernisation of Infantry in India


    General

    The Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) organised a seminar on “Modernisation of Infantry in India” on May 25, 2009 at the CLAWS campus. The seminar was attended by a large gathering of serving officers from the army and select guests from the strategic community. Lt Gen GK Duggal (Retd) chaired the seminar. Lt Gen Jasbir Singh, AVSM, VSM, Director General Infantry, delivered the Keynote Address. Col HS Faujdar presented a paper while Maj Gen GD Bakshi (Retd) and Brig Rahul Bhonsle (Retd) were the discussants.
     
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  3. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Opening Remarks

    Brig Gurmeet Kanwal, Director CLAWS, opened the proceedings by welcoming the participants. He highlighted the crucial role that the infantry battalions of the Indian Army have played in keeping the nation together through four wars and numerous internal security challenges. Brig Kanwal spoke about the dilemma of modernising for conventional conflict which is not very probable and sub-conventional conflict which is ongoing. He emphasised the need to find a viable meeting-ground.

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    Chair’s Remarks

    Lt Gen GK Duggal (Retd) emphasised the need of modernisation of Infantry but pointed out the need to prioritise the requirement. The US is fighting militants in Afghanistan and Iraq and has realised the need of keeping the Infantry as light as possible. In today’s environment unless the Infantry is adequately and appropriately equipped, it cannot confront the challenges being faced. There are deficiencies in the organisation and equipment which must be addressed by all concerned. The endeavour of the army should be to make the Infantry as light as possible and give our soldiers the right opportunities to operate with freedom. Lt Gen Duggal stressed the lack of cooperation and coordination with the research and development organisation and industry that should develop adequate capabilities to compete with the rest. He also pointed out that there is a tendency to exaggerate the threat perception and this needs to be checked.
     
  4. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Lt Gen Jasbir Singh, AVSM, VSM

    Director General Infantry, Lt Gen Jasbir Singh, presented an outline on the progress being made towards modernisation of Infantry. He stated that adequate impetus has been given to modernise the Infantry soldier. He acknowledged the fact that at present, an Infantry soldier does not have the latest state-of-the-art weapons such as night vision devices, hand grenades, clothing and equipment. Lt Gen Singh stated that Hybrid wars have become a reality and cited the example of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel’s war with Hezbollah in which, well-trained militants used high technology and equipment against regular forces. Thus, he emphasised the need of equipping the Indian soldier at the earliest in order to take on any assigned task. To ensure appropriate and early procurement, a series of actions have been initiated by the Infantry Directorate such as new General Staff Qualitative Requirements—formulated to meet the requirements of the modern day soldier.

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    Col HS Faujdar

    Col HS Faujdar stated that India is faced with a security situation where it has to counter adversaries armed with nuclear weapons, combat a long-drawn proxy war, terrorism and issues relating to internal security. India is yet to develop a ‘two-front’ capability to face a simultaneously launched conventional threat from China and Pakistan. In addition, the growing proximity of Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar towards China does not bode well for India’s external and homeland security concerns. Besides, significant emerging flashpoints in the form of left wing extremism involving as many as 160 districts in 14 states are leading to critical concern.

    In future, the conventional conflicts would be of a shorter duration with greater intensity, causing large-scale destruction owing to the increased range and lethality of weapon systems and munitions. Upgraded surveillance systems will not only detect the targets but will successfully bring down effective fire through in-built or networked fire control systems. Sensor-shooter loop will thus be shortened to reduce time lag and exploit fleeting opportunities. Junior commanders will have to be prepared to shoulder greater responsibility with regards to decision-making and command of mission-oriented small teams. Operations shall continue to be infantry-centric, albeit with greater reliance on mission-oriented small teams. Challenges to an infantry soldier in the battlefield will likely arise from detection, engagement during day and night, mines, lasers and precision-guided munitions.

    Therefore, while the basic role of the infantry across the spectrum of conflict will continue to be to close in with the enemy and destroy him and hold ground against all forms of enemy attack, modernisation would be instrumental in improving the infantry’s lethality, survival, mobility, sustainability and communications.

    Col Faujdar said thrust areas of modernisation in infantry include lethality and effectiveness of its weapons, mobility, survival, sustainability and communications. Infantry has to adopt defensive measures to defeat the adversary’s weapon systems and ammunition. Secondly, it has to improve upon its own weapons arsenal so as to achieve a distinct edge in terms of range, precision and attrition. Mobility continues to be a sore point with infantry units and formations for which the issue of organic mobility, matching mobility with mechanised formations and exploitation of the third dimension needs to be seriously considered. It should also be pointed out that the survival of infantry is related to the ability to suppress enemy’s fire and surveillance means in the battlefield. In the nuclear, biological and chemical backdrop of future conflicts, there would be a requirement of providing protection to the personnel, equipment and materials by means of providing hardened and environmentally controlled shelters. For operations in a prolonged- duration set up, there should be a reliable system of re-supply and evacuation. In an intense and fluid battlefield, communications are bound to assume primacy. Modern day communication means the ability to transmit and receive voice, data, video and imagery in real or near real time. The equipment should be light, rugged, tropicalised and hardened against electro-magnetic pulse damage. The other features should include enhanced range, frequency-hopping, encryption and electronic counter-measures.
     
  5. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    While outlining the shortcomings in the present organisational set up, Col Faujdar highlighted the following key areas:


    • The present personal weapon is outdated in design and performance. A 5.56 mm INSAS Rifle and Light Machine Gun still has shortcomings.

    • The night-fighting capability is limited in sections/platoons/companies.

    • Present support weapons are very heavy and bulky.

    • The surveillance capability with the Infantry battalions is very limited.

    • The existing anti-tank resources are prone to jamming and errors.

    • The Infantry battalions lack tactical mobility.

    • Water crossing expedients are not made available to an Infantry soldier.
     
  6. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Spelling out recommendations for modernisation of infantry, Col Faujdar listed the following:


    • A road map for modernisation needs to be drawn up with an effective time line that must be adhered to.

    • An internal defense force should be raised to free infantry from the task of dealing with the non-conventional threats during peace time.

    • An infantry battalion or individual should preferably be rotated between two different or three near congruous terrain profiles only.

    • A project to reduce weight of the present medium machine gun, automatic grenade launcher, and anti-material rifle by at least 6-8 kgs should be undertaken.

    • Replacement of the existing Hand Grenade No 36 should be expedited with the introduction of a variety of grenades to meet all requirements.

    • 81 mm Mortars should be made lighter and possibly based on tracked carriers and their range should be not less than 7,000 metres.

    • A man-portable unmanned aerial vehicle troop (four-six aerial vehicles) should be authorised to the intelligence and surveillance platoon of infantry battalion. This would enhance the infantry battalion’s area of influence.

    • The ‘bayonet strength’ of a rifle section should be preserved. In a single section, there should at least be 6-7 persons available for launching an assault on the enemy.

    • Custom-built obstacle crossing expedients should be made available to infantry for negotiating water obstacles as well as mine fields.

    • Infantry company ‘F’ echelon should be based on two 1.5 ton capacity low silhouette vehicles.

    • Ghatak platoons should be trained for helicopter-borne operations and provided with light strike vehicles.
     
  7. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Maj Gen GD Bakshi, VSM (Retd)

    Maj Gen Bakshi emphasised the requirement of “thinking out of the box” beyond Model 4B. He pointed out the new concepts that were adopted by Pakistan’s army in various wars against India. The Cold Start Doctrine has been formulated but is yet to address many operational issues like Pakistan’s ground-holding differential. Infantry should be equipped with specialised strike vehicles so as to reach the objective in shortest possible time and capture it with little resistance by defeating the enemy both in time and space. Maj Gen Bakshi acknowledged the fact that the progress on modernisation is rather slow and the process to increase its pace must be reviewed. He recommended the need for authorising all soldiers to be equipped with night vision devices. However, he cautioned that India should resist its desire to provide Infantry with more weapons and equipment because it will make Infantry immobile and make it an equipment-intensive unit.

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    Brig Rahul Bhonsle (Retd)

    Brig Bhonsle stated there is a requirement of transforming Infantry from the older generation to the present generation. This is required keeping in view the advancement in technology and change in present day battlefield scenarios. He raised serious concerns about the lack of interoperability with paramilitary service. The role of Infantry in a nuclear, biological and chemical environment still remains unclear. Infantry in future may be required to operate in this environment and hence should be properly equipped and trained to counter all types of contingencies. Training is an important issue and units must be given adequate time to train its troops. There should be an emphasis on the skills of an Infantry soldier for operational efficiency. The regimental system in Infantry must be maintained for better cohesion, along with emphasis on HR issues, bureaucracy, computer training, terrain specific regiments and resource crunch.
     
  8. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Discussion

    The organisation of an Infantry must be based on the six company model as it would ensure proper training of the battalion. The Ministry of Home Affairs has a fast track procedure to procure operationally critical stores within a few months. This procedure should be adopted by the Defence Ministry to complete the existing deficiencies. Better ammunition for weapons to increase its lethality must be developed. Hand-held UAVs should be provided to Infantry battalions. Motivational aspects should be enhanced in the Infantry units.


    (Report prepared by Col HS Faujdar, Senior Fellow and Dr. Monika Chansoria, Research Fellow, CLAWS)

    The Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)
     
  9. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    [​IMG]

    “The ‘Best Soldier’ of the world cannot have second best weapon, equipment or clothing. The modernisation process is aimed to harness advanced technologies to enhance the operational capabilities of Infantry across the full spectrum of conflict. There has been development in technology, which has a profound influence in increasing the destructive power of weapons systems in lethality and accuracy, resulting in quick obsolescence of weapons system and calling for periodic upgrading and modernization,” stated Lt. Gen Vinod Bhatia, AVSM, SM, Director General Infantry, Indian Army in an exclusive interview to India Strategic.
     
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  10. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. China and Pakistan have changed tactics of border incursions which have increased the treat perception. Do you envisage a change in the presence, numbers and strategy of the Infantry for combating this?

    DG Infantry. We in the Indian Army and particularly in Infantry are alive to the shift in tactics of our adversaries. And have embarked on a programme for capability development all along our borders. Technology is being exploited to include new generation weapons, target acquisition and surveillance devices for integration of the soldier into the combat network and to enhance his effectiveness to combat such situations.
     
  11. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. By what percentage is Army planning to increase its Infantry strength? Are there some new battalions which will be raised in the near future?

    DG Infantry. Preparations for meeting the challenges along our borders are an ongoing process and being pursued as part of modernisation of Indian Army. We are shifting the focus from a ‘Threat Based’ to a ‘Capability Based’ force structure. Additional Infantry and new raisings are part of this ‘Capability Based’ force structure.
     
  12. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. What are the steps to be taken by the Indian Army to modernize the foot soldier with the state-of-the-art arms and equipment?

    DG Infantry. Project F-INSAS (Future Infantry Soldier as a System) is operational and we are trying to modernise the infantry soldier. The project has four sub systems namely Weapon, Body Armour and Individual Equipment, Target Acquisition and Computer and Communication. Various cases of procurement have been initiated for weapons and equipment; some important ones being Close Quarter Battle (CQB) Carbine, Assault Rifle, Ballistic Helmet, Bullet Proof Jackets (BPJ), Surveillance and Communication equipment.
     
  13. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. The Indian Army has been successful with its joint-exercises with friendly nation armies. What are the plans for the future additions of more countries to the list of countries for conducting such exercises?

    DG Infantry. As far as Infantry oriented joint training is concerned we have conducted joint exercises with nine friendly foreign countries in 2011-12. These exercises are based on reciprocity with the aim of enhancement of defence cooperation as well as to gain from each other experiences. Our vast combat experiences in counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations is acknowledged by the armies world over. Thus, over the last three years or so there has been manifold increase in the number of joint exercises. We have conducted joint exercises with USA, UK, Thailand, Bangladesh, Maldives, Mongolia and Russia. Maiden exercises have been carried out with France and Indonesia this year and Joint exercise are on the pipeline with countries like Vietnam and Phillipines. A request has also been received from the Malaysian Army for conduct of joint exercise this year.
     
  14. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. Please elaborate on the state of the rifles in use and what is the acquisition plan for the new guns? Is the 5.56 sufficient keeping in mind the army was virtually bulldozed to induct in into its Infantry?

    DG Infantry. The 5.56 mm INSAS Rifle is presently the personal weapon issued to infantry soldiers. The weapon needs upgradation and case for procurement of a modern state of the art assault rifle is in progress.
     
  15. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. Is the growing role of the Infantry in anti-naxal and CI operations a deterrent to its actual task of protecting the borders?

    DG Infantry. The primary role of Indian Army is to protect and maintain the sovereignty of our country at all cost. The task of controlling the internal security lies with the Police and CRPF.
     
  16. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. Is Infantry’s role in Rashtriya Rifles justified?

    DG Infantry. Rashtriya Rifles battalions are responsible for conducting Counter Terrorist Operations in the hinterland of J&K. Infantry though a predominant arm, more than half the strength of Rashtriya Rifles is drawn from other Arms & Services. The deployment of Rashtriya Rifles battalions in the valley has given a relief to Infantry battalions and has certainly eased the deployment of Infantry in operational areas.
     
  17. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. What is your vision on empowering Indian infantry with suitable Network centric operations capacities and what is the time-line you have set for it?

    DG Infantry. The introduction of F-INSAS Integrated Computer and Communication System (FICCS) will empower the soldiers with ability to handle complex voice and data solutions. This will include swift processing and advanced computing functions thereby achieving Network Centricity and reduce the Decision Time for the commanders at all levels.
     
  18. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. Have you been able to transform the process of the training and introduce the concept of scholar warrior to make the infantry at par with the best in the world?Q. Have you been able to transform the process of the training and introduce the concept of scholar warrior to make the infantry at par with the best in the world?

    DG Infantry. The training syllabi of recruits has been reviewed and refined recently and we have laid emphasis on their personality development besides IT awareness. Formations and training establishments are conducting courses/ new cadres on weapon systems and equipments which are introduced in Infantry to enable its optimum utilization. We have also taken up case to increase the vacancies at various courses of Instructions so that more men get opportunities to undergo a formal course of instruction. There has been a significant increase in number of joint training exercises with friendly foreign countries and their good practices are also being imbibed. It’s our constant endeavour to further upgrade the skills of our soldiers.
     
  19. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. Do the soldiers need to be motivated by their JCO’s and officers to study under the IGNOU scheme? Has this Gyandeep project attracted them?

    DG Infantry. Project Gyandeep is an innovative scheme which was introduced in the Indian Army to empower our jawans by enabling them to obtain higher education qualification. This was done to primarliy enable our jawans who retire comparatively at a young age to secure a better second career option. This scheme was introduced in the year 2010 and it did not find too many takers amongst the ranks. Soon we realised that it was primarily due to sheer ignorance about the knowledge of project Gyandeep that individuals were not forthcoming to register themselves. We then undertook a concerted drive to generate awareness which has resulted in an overwhelming response. No of registration for Infantry has now increased to 1,34,764 from 7,714 in Feb 2010.
     
  20. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. Isn’t there a need for the basic qualifications of the infantry soldier to be upgraded?

    DG Infantry.
    The basic qualities desired in an Infantry soldier are high level of physical fitness, mental robustness and motivation to withstand the challenges of life in Infantry. However, with the technological advancement of equipment profile in the Infantry there is a requirement to have minimum education qualification for recruit as Soldier General Duty (GD) to enable apt understanding and handling of the equipment. The education qualification for enrolment of Soldier (GD) was then revised and promulgated in April 2010.
     
  21. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    India Strategic. At what stage is the induction of tactical, strategic and information management systems and other electronic warfare equipment into the infantry?

    DG Infantry. Presently there is no capability in terms of tactical, strategic & information management system or electronic warfare equipment in the infantry. The F-INSAS Integrated Computer and Communication Sys (FICCS) will provide every infantry soldier with the ability to accept and present real time info provided by C4I tools in the near future.
     

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