India must give the armed forces the respect it deserves
Anomalies need to be resolved early followed by a comprehensive implementation of OROP and the 7th Pay Commission.
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From purely national security standpoint and as applicable to the armed forces, the year 2016 has been tumultuous to say the least. No doubt, many of the past years have been as or more stormy, but, the real lessons lie in our ability to deal with crises as they unfold.
The overall security scenario has not changed one bit when compared to previous years. But, one aspect that stood out in comparison was our preparedness to deal with a spectrum of security related occurrences. The year opened with the planned assault by Pakistani terrorists on Airforce Station, Pathankot followed by several other incursions notably in Pampore, Uri, Baramulla, Samba and Nagrota. While the authorities are continuing their investigations into these attacks; the Pakistani Army complicity in using anti-India terror groups, are well known to all.
The deficiencies in our physical security systems need to be understood. Military installations are guarded by human beings and they have limitations. Most of all there is the element of fatigue. Whether it is Camp Bastion or Pathankot, merely depending on guards is not the answer.
For a start, the public must know that most military establishments have a two or three–layered security system. We have a major chink in our first line of defense. This is where some of our military camps fall woefully short. It is a common sight to find barbed wire fences, low and weak perimeter walls, etc, in several of our military establishments.
To obviate the fatigue and pressures on human guards; their efficiency needs to be augmented with electronic and electro-optic systems. That is the standard today. I understand that the government has taken relevant steps in improving this aspect; however, the civil work services need to be carried out on a war-footing with periodic progress reviews by a high-level committee.We must acknowledge the courageous response of our officers and men to the recent attacks.
That said, we must acknowledge the courageous response of our officers and men to the recent attacks. Each time our men have proved to be "salt of the earth" and our officers have always "led from the front" to defeat radicalised terrorists pushed towards attacking our installations by a cowardly enemy. Terrorism, we will defeat. Our armed forces are far too professional to let the enemy have an upper hand.
Contribution of our Central Armed Police Forces in tackling security related events must also be acknowledged. The year gone by has been otherwise excellent when it comes to the positives. For a starter, the three services have held several bi-service, tri-services and multinational military exercises aimed at improving battle-readiness in a net-centric, nuclear environment or anti-terror and disaster management situations.
The Indian Army’s "Shatrujeet" and "Chakravyuh"; Navy’s "Malabar" and "Dakshin-Prahaar"; and Air force’s "Live-Wire" and "Iron- Fist" exercises should give comfort to the government on the capability of our armed forces to deal with any adversary in the dimensions of land, sea and air. The grueling battle rhythm demonstrated in these exercises through immaculate planning and thorough professional execution will make any adversary breathless!
In this context, the emphasis on joint exercises needs to be enhanced manyfold, particularly at the lower formation levels. Corps and division-level joint exercises need to be organised more frequently to refine joint standard operating procedures and give a better understanding of each other’s operational capabilities.
Wherever our armed forces’ contingents have operated in exercises with foreign forces, there has been appreciation on the professional conduct of our men and officers. I believe that the days of us being wary about sensitivities of “other countries” are passé. In the year gone by we have held exercises with American, Russian Chinese and other armed forces.
The step taken by the government in concluding the Logistics Agreement with USA is a desirable step forward. Such agreements must be signed with other friendly countries as well. Operationally speaking, the Indian armed forces are in fine fettle and training standards are high. Preparedness can be further enhanced by a thorough review of equipment. A large part of the inventory of all three services is facing obsolescence issues. Quality and quantities have both come down a notch or two in the past few years, due to delayed inductions.
The armed forces want critical shortages addressed and important inductions handled expeditiously. Decision makers must feel responsible towards acquisition and modernisation needs of the services. Service headquarters understand budgetary limitations and the need to prioritise equipment induction. However, an unjustified delay in the decision making process should be unacceptable. It exacerbates the situation negatively.
Several important decisions in defence acquisitions were also made during the year gone by. These related to Rafale multi-role fighter, additional Light Combat Aircraft, mountain warfare artillery guns, additional warships and advanced surface to air missile systems. Other notable achievements related to the progress in design and development of indigenous surface to air missile and the long range inter-continental ballistic missile (Agni 5).
Much has been written on aspects of OROP and implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission. On several other fronts, in the recent past, the government of the day has taken some bold steps and been justifiably proud of them. Then why not take a bold step on these two issues as well?
Anomalies need to be resolved early followed by a comprehensive implementation of the OROP and justified elements of the Seventh Pay Commission. The demands of the services must be seen in the light of the sacrifices they make and the continued hardships they face.
The war memorial needs to take shape early and veterans need to be shown their due respect through a national Armed Forces Veterans Day.
(Coutesy of Mail Today.)