Preamble

India as a Nation has gone through a very traumatic experience way back in 1962. Have we learnt No lessons since then ? It is well known that in 1962 our Faith in the impregnability of the Himalayas, the Infallibility of our Foreign Policy and the Invincibility of our Armed Forces , was totally shattered.

The main causes for our debacle in the Himalayas against the Chinese Army was a total loss of élan amongst the Serving Armed Forces as also an irrational Higher Defence Organization in which the three Services were increasingly isolated from the process of Decision Making in Defence matters which unfortunately continues to this day. Do we want to make it even worse?

Vital issues of War and Peace, concerning the Nation even today are being dealt with in a lackadaisical manner. We must take our minds back when in Sep 1962 our then Prime Minister issued a statement that he had ordered the Army to evict the Chinese from our territory. It was sad that a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Defence passed these orders to the Chief’s. We can today gaze back and see the emerging sequence of events which were to follow and it was clear that the Armed Forces had been marginalized from the process of Decision Making. This created a serious situation and led to the humility that India had to suffer. Unfortunately even today it would appear that no Joint Action for Planning Military Operations is in place. The Present Government has been in power for now 15 years and today a preposterous plan for a major change in the structure of the Top Military Hierarchy in the Country is being considered. It is learnt that the MoD has already forwarded a proposal to the National Security Council (NSC) for taking a final call. The NSC is to decide the nitty-gritty of rules, seniority and other aspects. It would appear to me that the present NSC must be comprising of top Army, Navy and Air Force Senior Personnel who know what they have to do because of their vast experience of fighting the Wars and planning Strategic Operational Plans!!!

What is the Composition of NSC – Can we have the names with their qualifications. The main points which need consideration are:

• The Present system makes the tenures of various Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairmans so short that they can hardly be expected to make any impact.
• Suggested that a permanent Chairman be nominated who will be a Four Star General at par with the three Service Chief’s and would be the First among equals.
• He would be in-charge of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) which is at present headed by a Lt General ,backed by an Administrative structure which would be in place.
• The Government feels that a permanent Chairman will have ample time to focus on tri service issues.
• The IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Browne is at present the Chairman of COSC. He retires this month and Army Chief Bikram Singh will take over and he would retire in July 2014 and then Admiral Joshi will succeed him.

How come that this Re Organization has suddenly struck the Government ? It would appear that surely there is a STING in this new proposal being mooted which is at the very end of the tenure of a Government which has already finished 15 years . Is it that the Government has not been able to function effectively for the past 15 years and thereby has just woken up from its slumber? Lowering once again the élan of the Armed Forces?

I would however recommend that we revert back to the post of Director Military Affairs to the Cabinet (Brigadier Rank ). Which is an Appointment which I held during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s time and operated from South Block ground floor below the Foreign Ministers Office. I was required to report directly to the CABINET SECRETARY. My tasks were :

• Servicing all the Raksha Mantri’s Committee’s.
• Secretary to the Chief’s of Staff Committee.
• Co-ordinating plans through the Cabinet Secretary and disseminating same to the Cabinet Committee on Defence.
• Being present in the Military Ops Room during all Briefings to the Cabinet Committee on Defence – including during talks with China over the Boundary issue as also discussion to strategize Plans which would be implemented for Pakistan and all our Neighbors.

I believe that this appointment is still there, but is not linked in any way to the various Cabinet Committees of the yester years.

Need for Extensive Reforms

The 1962 Disaster also did not throw up the need for ensuring proper co-ordination and planning between the Services in battle . Today this is more so because of the emergence of the Air Force and Navy which have become major Partners in battles whether on Sea, Land or Air. It will not be out of place to mention that India was perhaps the only Country in the World which had a single Commander –in – Chief for all the three Services in 1947 which was discontinued and in 1955 the nomenclature of the three Chief’s was also abruptly changed from Commanders-in – Chief to Chief’s of Staff which designation is meaningless and misleading to this day. In our present setup the Chief’s of Staff do NOT form a part of the Ministry and are not even authorized to take any decisions on behalf of the Government nor issue any Government orders. These functions are being performed today by the Babu’s in the Ministry of Defence . The Service Chief’s continue to function as Chief ’s of their respective Services but with the misnomer to call them Service Chiefs as “CHIEF’S OF STAFF” !!! Have we not failed to concretize the Armed Forces to rationalize our Higher Defence Organization even after 15 years of rule by the present Government?

Position Today

It was after the Kargil War that a Task Force under Arun Singh was also setup to examine India’s Higher Defence Organization. The recommendations of the Task Force were accepted but its implementation was never carried out,is it not pathetic ? We have today an Integrated Services Head Quarters with personnel from the MoD (Ministry of Defence), and we call it the INTERGRATED HEADQUATERS FOR THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (ARMY,NAVY,AIR FORCE ).This designation is as ridiculous as the designation of the Chief’s of Staff which hardly means anything .Authority for the Integrated HQ’s in regard to decisions is of little consequence as all issues are dealt by Civil Officials belonging to the MoD.To sum up, the old arrangement of the Civilian Bureaucracy exercising authority without expertise or responsibility continues to this day. It has also been suggested in the past that MoD Officers should preferably be from the IFS cadres since they have a wider knowledge of subjects due to their exposures abroad. This too has also not been ever debated leave alone its implementation. We must realize that Defence and Foreign Policy go hand in glove and it is illogical to have IFS Officers serving in the Ministry of Home ,as also it is illogical to have IAS Officers to hold the post of Defence Secretary !!!

Chief of Defence Staff

In so far as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is concerned attempts have been made to derail the recommendations of the Task Force, which were accepted by the Group of Ministers and approved by the Cabinet. Instead a large Headless Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) has been provided which serves no purpose because the required professional Co-Ordination and Unified approach is still lacking.

It is worthwhile to examine the arguments used by many, for not having a Chief of Defence Staff in India. Before doing so, it is necessary to take note of the considerations that have been militating against the introduction of this appointment. First, is the Political Leaderships fear and apprehension that the Defence Services may become too powerful which could subvert Civilian Control over the Military . The main opposition is that the Civilian Bureaucracy will loose their dominance and strangle hold over the Higher Defence Setup.

The fear that a CDS will erode the supremacy of the Civil over the Military is unfounded.The CDS will not be a Supreme Commander . He will only be an Inter- Service professional coordinator and planner with individual Service Chief’s who would be Presiding over as the Chief’s of Staff Committee . He will have the right of direct access to the Head of the Government. It is said that as of now adequate coordination is being carried out by the existing Chief of Staff Committee (COSC) and this has successfully met our Defence requirements for the last sixty years.The commitments however of the Chief’s Of Staff Committee are heavy and certainly the rotational appointment of the Chairman is not recommended – but how has the Government suddenly woken up to revise it? This must be discussed in Parliament and implemented only by a Vote.I recommend IT SHOULD BE LEFT TO THE NEW GOVERNMENT TO DECIDE SUCH AN IMPORTANT ISSUE AND NOT CARRY OUT HALF BAKED MEASURES WHICH WILL CERTAINLY UPSET THE APPLE CART.

Conclusion

The Armed Forces are totally responsible for ensuring the territorial integrity of the Nation.The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Country.The Chief’s of Staff provide the input in context for the Defence of the Country.

However as of today the Ministry of Defence becomes Supreme to change policy frameworks and allocate resources to the Armed Forces as they think fit. Unfortunately they are not professionals but have the task in the MoD to obtain policy directions of the Government as required by the Services HQ’s. The Ministry of Defence works under the Direction of the Government but should be responsible only for the Production Establishments and Research and Development Organizations.

As of today the Indian Armed Forces (including Indian Army, Indian Air Force,Indian Navy) are under the Supervision of the Defence Ministry . It is recommended that the New Government emerging in 2014 which will be chosen under the Democratic process must revise the functioning of our Defence Structure and follow the CDS system or alternately post Highly qualified and Battled christened Officers to man the Ministry of Defence System effectively.The Internal and External Security of the Country must be meshed and webbed into the system whereby comprehensive Plans for the Nation are formulated and also ensure a strong Foreign Affairs input to be part of the planning system.The CDS must over see matters, Communicate and ensure their implementation in the Services Headquarters, Inter Services Organizations,Production Establishments and Research and Development Organizations.

TINKERING OF THE SYSTEM BEFORE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

WILL BE 

DISASTEROUS.