Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 01 January 2019
Today is a very historic day for India’s national security as General Bipin Rawat took over the office of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff. Being the first CDS, he is expected to fill in the gaps of India’s security needs.
The purpose of creation of CDS post is to win military wars. Keeping in mind Modi Government took this historic decision for National Security. General Rawat as Army Chief has been talking of two and half front war challenge faced by India. These challenges are Pakistan, China and insurgency. While India has won all wars against Pakistan, it lost war with China in 1962. It will be imperative on CDS to prepare all three armed forces with their commands to fight the enemy together with full synergy in an integrated fashion to win all wars.
While India is always prepared to fight and win war against Pakistan, it is China that poses challenge. While India and China are entangled in border dispute, China has reportedly constructed heavy civil and military infrastructure in Tibet particularly areas across border adjoining Ladakh. According to sources, post Doklam, China is rapidly building roads along India’s border many in disputed territories. Being all weather friends and Chinese interests and infrastructure development in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Gilgit- Baltistan, it is construed that China would open a war theatre along northern border if war breaks out with Pakistan. To meet this unique challenge posed by both nuclear powered nations warranted the long pending decision of creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff.
Besides making many structural and operational changes in Indian Army, General Rawat has already introduced the concept of integrated battle groups and recent exercises including exercise Sindu Sudarshan has seen integration of air elements with army. But this seems to be just tip of the iceburg as India currently has 19 commands and out of these only two Andaman and Nicobar command and Strategic Forces commands are tri-service commands. In a period of 3 years tenure General Rawat is tasked to bring all commands under one umbrella and he is to make sure that these commands should not lack teeth.
As big world powers including China developing 7th and 8th generation warfare equipment, India has long way to go in terms of developing indigenous technologies. Chinese military general and strategist Tsun Tzu in his book, ‘Art of War’ wrote, ‘If you can convince your enemy that his military efforts will be in vain, then you can win without fighting. It is this thing keeping in mind General Rawat seems to have been focusing on non-contact warfare. General Rawat is a big proponent of hybrid warfare and all including Chinese fear his military mind capabilities. India’s military capabilities apart from indigenous technology development are top secrets and adversaries have genuine reasons to fear. General Rawat often cites Kautilya’s Arthshastra, which is none but modern day hybrid warfare.
War is fought with weapons and ammunition. Till now for capital procurement, individual service headquarters would generally plan and project their Service Requirements or SQRs and follow trials. All three services would look and pursue their procurements in individualistic manner even after AON was granted. General Rawat is now tasked to look these requirements in an integrated fashion based on threat perception. As per the latest information available, the big budget capital procurement will continue to be taken care of by Defence Secretary. But it is for sure that CDS can now expedite the process of procurement much faster while the ambit of financial powers for clearing projects should be much wider for CDS under the guidance of NSA led Defence Planning Committee now.
Besides there are legacy equipment which can be used by all three forces so requirement of having these equipment separately will be done away with. General Rawat is known for winning hearts by being rationale and judicious will no doubt strike right cord with all three forces. It will be interesting to see how he translates India’s overall defence requirements into a holistic capability development plan amid limited budget, with fast moving technological advancements and Government’s agenda for Make In India at a time when politico-diplomatic relations are in flux.
Sometimes as an oversight it looks China is a big world economic and military power difficult to deal with. But if we look at the way that China is to face twenty and half front challenge against India’s two and front challenge, India is far better placed and with General Bipin Rawat as first CDS, India will have military edge over all its adversaries. Always remember India is a well known world soft power whereas China is striving to become a soft power. General Bipin Rawat is a proven military leader who changed the scenario in Jammu and Kashmir using his acumen of using soft power to win the hearts of Kashmiri people to combat militancy in the state. Today’s tri-service guard of honour is just a beginning, while Indians feel more secure with him being CDS, enemies would not dare to harm India’s sovereignty and integrity.