Infantry for the future battlefield : Lt General Vinod Bhatia

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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    Infantry for the future battlefield

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    In an interview with SP’s Land Forces, Lt General Vinod Bhatia, DG, Infantry, Indian Army, said that constant endeavour is being made to absorb new technology and upgrade the equipment profile of units.
     
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  3. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    SP’s Land Forces (SP’s): What is your vision for the infantry in the context of future wars? Would there be change in the roles and tasks of the infantry?

    DG Infantry (DG): The prevailing geopolitical scenario clubbed with the advancement in technology necessitates that the Infantry has to be prepared to fight in all types of terrain in the entire spectrum of conflict from sub-conventional war to an all-out nuclear war. The vision is to equip and train the Infantry for the future battlefield. This has also been articulated in the Infantry Vision 2020 which is ‘Be optimally configured to conduct operations at short notice across the entire spectrum of conflict prevention, conflict and post- conflict activities both within and outside the region’. The Infantry will continue to perform the role and tasks as hitherto fore. However, the battlefield milieu would change. Hence, it is imperative that the infantryman is suitably equipped and trained to effectively execute assigned battle missions.
     
  4. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    SP’s: What is the broad framework of modernisation of Infantry at unit and sub-unit level with particular reference to lethality, survivability, mobility and situational awareness?

    DG: As the armies across the world are shifting their focus to rapid modernisation based on advanced technologies, it is prudent for us to ensure that Indian Infantry is also modernised rapidly. I envisage that the modernisation programme of Infantry at unit and sub-unit level will be undertaken in a phased manner with laid down priorities. The priorities are:
     
  5. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Lethality: This entails that an Infantryman should be able to employ his weapon system accurately and effectively to destroy the enemy by day or night and in all-weather conditions. The procurement process has been initiated with replacements and upgrades of weapon systems in progress. Some weapon systems, which are being inducted on priority basis for rapid capability development are:

    Third generation ATGMs and launchers which will replace existing missile systems along with simulators.

    The advanced and upgraded versions of assault rifles will replace the existing INSAS rifles.

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    Survivability: We are addressing survivability under individual and collective protection.

    State-of-the-art modular bullet proof jacket (BPJs) and ballistic helmets are being procured for troops deployed on counter-insurgency (CI) and line of control (LC) duties as part of individual protection. The procurement is in an advanced stage and should fructify soon.

    Multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) developed by Ordnance Factory (OF) Medak are being procured for troops deployed in counter-insurgency/counter-terrorist (CT) operations under collective protection. Delivery of these vehicles has commenced. Light bullet proof vehicles (LBPVs) authorised to Infantry battalions deployed in CI/CT duties are at present undergoing pre-induction evaluation.

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    Mobility: I visualise that the Infantry will be assigned the task and should be capable of rapid inter/intra theatre deployment. Adequate mobilisation resources are catered for with bulk carriers for Infantry formations forming part of strike corps and for brigades earmarked for offensive roles in Pivot Corps. With this capability, Infantry will be able to strike the enemy in depth, reposition its reserve rapidly, secure lines of communication and conduct other conventional and sub-conventional operations in all types of terrain. We are working towards intrinsic tactical mobility with adequate protection. Infantry mobility vehicles, obstacle crossing expedients, high mobility vehicles are being inducted in Infantry.

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    Situational Awareness: Restricted surveillance ranges and lack of over the hill capability are being made up for Infantry. Mini UAVs and medium-range surveillance devices are planned for a deeper look into enemy territory. The present shortcomings of quantity and quality of night vision devices have been addressed and we are increasing the scaling and procuring of better quality of night sights.
     
  6. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    SP’s: What are the changes in the nature of warfare which directly impact upon the Infantry soldier? It is seen that the project for F-INSAS is being vigorously progressed by your Directorate. Can you give us a broad idea regarding the project—its goals and thrust areas and its current status?

    DG: With rapid advancements made in the field of science and technology, the nature of warfare is also changing. Future wars are likely to be swift, violent and technology intensive. Fourth generation warfare imperatives would make the battles to be Infantry predominant involving close combat and fighting in built-up areas. The Infantry would be required to perform its role in varied terrain across the entire spectrum of conflict. Punitive precision strikes would be feasible, and the concept of sub-unit operations would gain primacy.

    As I see F-INSAS concept identifies the need to provide infantry soldier with enhanced capabilities. F-INSAS perceives a multi-mission, multi-role war fighter who is part of the system that contains numerous modular integrated sub-systems.

    The project F-INSAS is a soldier modernisation programme designed to enhance the capability of an infantry soldier. Being a ‘system of systems’, it has the following sub-systems:
     
  7. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    1. Weapon sub-system which includes assault rifle, close quarter battle carbine and light machine gun.

    2. Body armour and individual equipment (BAIE) sub-system which includes bullet proof jacket, ballistic helmet, individual load-carrying and survival equipment.

    3.Target acquisition sub-system which includes surveillance devices and weapon night sights.

    4. Computer and communication sub-system.



    The project F-INSAS is progressing well since its inception in the year 2005 and we are leaving no stone unturned to see the fructification of this prestigious project. The induction of various weapons and equipment of F-INSAS are being done in a phased manner with priority to personal weapon and protection systems. Procurement cases of few items of equipment are in very advanced stages. The soldier will have modern personal weapon in terms of carbine, assault rifle and light machine gun. The Infantry has also embarked on night enablement with procurement of state-of-the-art night vision devices and sights which would be a mix of TI and II technology.
     
  8. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    SP’s: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is planning to become a technology-intensive force instead of being manpower-intensive. The Indian Infantry today is a manpower intensive force. Is there any thinking in the direction of making the Infantry a technology and firepower-intensive force? What changes would you recommended achieving this?

    DG: Worldwide all armies are changing their force structure from manpower-intensive to technology-intensive. PLA is therefore no exception to the rule. We in the Indian Army and particularly in the Infantry are alive to this shift and have embarked on a programme for capability enhancement of the Infantry soldier and integration of the soldier into the combat network. Technology is being exploited to increase the lethality and battlefield transparency for the Infantry soldier. Some of the technology-intensive systems being inducted are new generation weapons, target acquisition devices, computers and communication systems.
     
  9. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    SP’s: The Infantry has been the bedrock of Indian Army’s participation in the UN peacekeeping operations. What are the reasons for our good performance in such operations and how can we further improve upon our performance in the future?

    DG: India is one of the largest contingent contributors of peacekeeping forces under the UN mandate. Infantry Battalions deployed in UN peacekeeping missions primarily in Central Africa and Mediterranean countries have acquitted themselves in the best traditions of our armed forces. The Infantry battalions have carved a niche for themselves and have won international accolade for their performance in UN peacekeeping missions. The main contributing factor towards the success is the high motivation level amongst all ranks. The Infantry battalions earmarked for UN peacekeeping missions are selected through a stringent process where the past performances of the unit is the guiding factor. Hence the units selected for UN peacekeeping missions consider it a matter of great pride and honour for having been given an opportunity for overseas duty and to earn name and fame for the country. Besides, the battle hardiness and vast combat experience in varied terrain gained by Infantry for such a prolonged duration has stood the test of time, trials and tribulations. It is for this reason that the Infantry has displayed professionalism with a great sense of devotion towards its duty in UN peacekeeping operations.
     
  10. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    SP’s: Sometime back, the media had reported that the Infantry because of the tough life involved, is not a popular arm with cadets at the Indian Military Academy and hence they do not opt for the Infantry in their choice of arms. Is it true? How is the Army coping with this phenomenon? What policies has the Army evolved in this regard to make Infantry more attractive for young officers?

    DG: There is no doubt that the life in the Infantry is very challenging and demands the best of an individual. It is also partially true that Infantry is not the first choice amongst the cadets at pre-commissioning training establishments. If one has to go by the statistics compiled for over last 10 years, the difference in the number of candidates opting for Infantry vis-à-vis the Infantry vacancies is diminishing. Nevertheless, the shortfall in Infantry officer cadre is being met by sending service officers on Infantry attachment on initial commissioning for two to three years. Besides, the intake level is also being enhanced and the situation is likely to improve in the coming years. Moreover, the cadets are also being motivated to come forward to join the Infantry by posting decorated Infantry officers to training institutions to act as a role model. Motivational lectures by war veterans and visits to Infantry battalion deployed in forward areas are also being conducted during the pre-commissioning training period. I am sure there will be a reversal of trend in the coming years.
     
  11. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    SP’s: What are the challenges faced by your Directorate in the modernisation of the Infantry and how are you tackling them? Have sufficient funds been allotted for modernisation of the Infantry?

    DG: The modernisation process of Infantry is aimed at harnessing 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 on the destructive power of weapons systems in lethality and accuracy, resulting in quick obsolescence of weapons system and calling for periodic upgrading and modernisation. This is the most important challenge faced by us.

    The Infantry Directorate is fully aware of the requirements of a modern Infantry and has taken a holistic view of the situation. We are constantly working towards the goal of keeping our Infantry in tune with the changing nature of the battlefield across the entire conflict spectrum.

    Funds are not a constraint as regards the modernisation of Infantry. The modernisation process is well under way and we will see an advanced and well-equipped Infantry battalion in the near future.
     
  12. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    SP’s: What steps have been taken to improve the terms and conditions of service of other ranks in the Infantry?

    DG: The combat edge of the Infantry is dependent on the well-being of the infantryman. Therefore, there is a requirement to have a well-trained and motivated soldier to meet the challenges. The scheme of “Assured Career Progression” has been implemented to give automatic financial upgradation after eight years of service. To address the aspiration of other ranks, “Third Cadre Review” recommendations have been made in the Infantry. This would cater to increased vacancies in junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) rank. In effect the promotion prospects would also increase considerably.

    The Infantry personnel retire young and more often than not they have to take up a second career. In the recent years, there has been a concerted drive to improve in-service education to enable them to work out a successful second career. Under the projects of “Gyandeep and Kshamta”, a jawan can earn an associate degree.

    Human Resource Development Com-missions (HRDCs) at formation level are conducting personality development programmes for the jawans to enable them to get commissioned as officers through Army Cadet College (ACC) or Short Service Commission (SCO) entry. In the Infantry, there is an emphasis on providing in-service growth opportunities to all ranks without any bias.
     
  13. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    SP’s: In future wars, smaller, lighter and more mobile forces will dominate the battlefield. This will demand a very high standard of junior leadership. How is Infantry going to achieve this?

    DG: Smaller, lighter, more mobile and well dispersed forces will demand high quality and quick decision-making ability of junior leaders. The training of junior leaders to meet the above challenges thus assume importance. Infantry is constantly endeavouring to keep pace with these developments. Some of the measures being undertaken are:
     
  14. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    1.Constant endeavour is being made to absorb new technology and upgrade the equipment profile of units.

    2.Alongside induction of equipment in units, the equipment being procured is being scaled to training establishments to enable formalised training of junior leaders on technical and tactical aspects.

    3.The curriculum at various Category A & B establishments is constantly being upgraded to enable systematic absorption of this technological advancements by junior leaders.

    4.The training capacity of training establishments is being enhanced to enable structured training for more number of junior leaders. E-learning and distant learning packages have been introduced to enable better assimilation.

    5.The equipment is being fielded in unit and formation level exercise to further fine-tune the tactical employment and its understanding by junior leaders.

    6.The PE/Org of Infantry Battalion is constantly being reviewed to ensure availability of dedicated manpower to optimally exploit the equipment.

    7.There has been a significant increase in the number of joint training with foreign armies and our contribution in the UN missions. Junior leaders are getting more opportunities to interact with their counterparts from other armies of the world, thus widening their horizon.
     
  15. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    SP’s: How can the Infantry unit be made lighter in manpower and yet capable of generating greater firepower and lethality to cater to the requirements of network-centric environment?

    DG: Even in the future battlefield scenario, the role of Infantry is likely to remain unchanged though the nature of war is likely to be significantly different. More accurate and lethal weapons are likely to be used in battle and therefore there is the need to equip Infantry soldiers accordingly.

    In summary, the combat ensemble of the future soldier would be lightweight, low bulk, multifunctional with grades of body armour protection as per different operational requirements. The technological innovations in the upgrades of ammunition along with state-of-the-art personal weapon having an enhanced sighting system will further increase the much needed effectiveness and lethality of the soldiers.
     
  16. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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  17. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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