http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Should-India-rethink-its-defence-budget/articleshow/4390252.cms Should India rethink its defence spending plans? 12 Apr 2009, 0033 hrs IST, Rajat Pandit, TNN Call it asymmetrical, irregular, low-intensity, proxy, dirty or even fourth-generation warfare, it remains a clear and present threat. This threat can only grow, forcing military strategists to jettison the traditional strategy of readiness for only conventional or “linear” warfare. That’s probably why US defence secretary Robert Gates announced a fundamental shift in the Pentagon’s spending priorities just a few days ago. He said the US would be moving away from the billion-dollar Cold War-era weapon systems and platforms to technologies geared for asymmetrical warfare. The US will now put more money into improving ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) capabilities, bolstering special forces, stepping up production of armed drones such as Predators and Reapers and inducting armoured vehicles and smaller warships for coastal combat operations and the like. Programmes like the futuristic F-35 joint strike fighters will certainly continue but the US clearly wants to be ready to battle non-state actors rather than big nation-states. Should India be taking note? Yes, says former Army chief General V P Malik. “The threat is getting more and more asymmetrical and the whole nature of warfare is changing...We must take cognizance of it.” Former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash points out that India has been fighting an asymmetric war “for a long time”. He says that even though the Indian Army has shown “great flexibility” in fighting this irregular war in J&K and elsewhere, “our armed forces have not really adapted to asymmetrical warfare, in terms of equipment, doctrine or strategy. We need to act and fast.” Of course, India faces very different challenges from the US, which is getting bogged down by the asymmetrical war it’s fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, far away from home territory. A serving Indian major-general says the new American push to deal with asymmetrical war is badly needed because “US armed forces need restructuring and re-equipping in a big way to handle it”. The problem for India is that it is fighting an irregular war within its own territory. Though success is important, India’s biggest challenge still remains conventional military threats because of its border problems with Pakistan and China. This is why, says defence analyst Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal, “we need to prepare for the entire spectrum of conflict, from sub-conventional to conventional, and even nuclear. We need light, lethal and wired armed forces to deal with the wars of the future.” For starters, India desperately needs to formulate long-term strategic plans to dovetail military capabilities with geopolitical objectives. Apart from political apathy and bureaucratic roadblocks, this has not happened mainly because India does not have a chief of defence staff (CDS) to bring about much-needed synergy in the armed forces. The result is much jostling among the Army, Navy, IAF and Coast Guard for a piece of the limited budgetary pie. The first casualty of this short-sighted approach is systematic planning in building military “capabilities”. For instance, the draft ‘national security strategy’ prepared by the fledgling integrated defence staff, was forwarded to the national security adviser and the Prime Minister’s Office in January 2007. It’s been gathering dust since then. Similarly, India's 11th Defence Plan, which covers the 2007 to 2012 period, and the much-touted Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan 2007-2022 (LTIPP) are both yet to be finalized. This is partly because of finance and defence ministry wrangling over allocations and priorities. In effect, though India spends a lot to import weapons systems, over $28-billion worth of procurement since the 1999 Kargil conflict, it’s done in a haphazard fashion. This is why the armed forces, for instance, have to make do with largely obsolete air defence radars, missile and gun systems, all of which are crucial if Indian airspace is to be kept safe from linear or asymmetrical threats.To take another example, the special forces, tasked with conducting “clandestine” or “irregular” warfare deep behind enemy lines, continue to suffer under poor command and control structures and inadequate specialized equipment. These are not isolated cases. It needed the horrific 26/11 attacks on Mumbai to get the government moving on the need to revamp the coastal security system. “Fast-attack crafts and interceptor boats are now an important part of the Rs 6,805-crore coastal security plan approved by the government. Big warships, after all, are not much use in countering asymmetrical threats,” comments a senior officer. The challenge is to stay abreast of warfare trends and bolster deterrence by improving strategic defenses.