CDS – The Guessing Game

The grapevine is that the Government has decided not to disrupt the chain of succession in all probability announce the name of the CDS on 30th April or before of Gen MM Naravane as the second CDS. The choice is in line, as he would be senior to all the three service chiefs.

CDS – The Guessing Game

General Manoj Mukund Naravane, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, who is set to complete his tenure on 30th April 2022, the Government of India has kept their cards close to the chest and have yet to announce the name of the next CDS. The appointment has been kept vacant since the unfortunate demise of the erstwhile CDS, Gen Bipin Rawat.

The battle indicators of the present Chief retiring are missing as in the normal course of things he would have been visiting the various formations/units on his farewell visits.

The grapevine is that the Government has decided not to disrupt the chain of succession in all probability announce the name of the CDS on 30th April or before of Gen MM Naravane as the second CDS. The choice is in line, as he would be senior to all the three service chiefs.

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What would be the challenges that the CDS will face?

India is walking the tight rope in the international arena as the power struggle is being played out. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has decisively taken away the attention from the CCP/PLAs plans to increase its domination in the South China Sea, Sea of Japan and the Indian Ocean. Its signing of agreement with Solomon islands as a peace treaty is just a hog wash as it continues to increase its presence globally.

The battlefield in Ukraine is the modern test bed for all weapon systems to be tested and tried out and their performance parameters judged with the Russian Army providing all the targets.

Many arm chair strategists have started working on the lessons learnt from this war, which got upset by the statement of the British Prime Minister that Russia may eventually win the war in Ukraine.

The Information Warfare of US/NATO has helped build a perception globally against the Russians, only time will tell what which way the weighing scales measure victory/defeat.

The CDS has a major task at hand and would need to kick off his tenure at a blistering pace as the Indian Armed Forces need to be kitted up with both hardware and software.

The obsolescence of equipment as well as integration of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to reduce the dependency on human resources should be a major focus area.

The recent conflicts of Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as the Ukraine conflict are not perfect examples of a conventional conflict, but more of a skirmish of pitching in muscle power, without the conventional wisdom of having carried out a terrain analysis, the employment of troops as seen on videos on the news channels as well as social media are indicative of no battle procedures/drills being followed. The logistic support seems to have been missed out and piecemeal employment of land systems have exposed their vulnerabilities.

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In the Indian context for any offensive operations or restoration of an adverse situation in a defensive battle, the relevance of armour remains. The Tank being an offensive weapon will continue to be targeted by all platforms to knock out the offensive capability of the adversary.

The tanks employed this day, in their design parameters did not have  protection from precision top attack as well as below the hull protection. The frontal plane as well as the broad of the tank was protected by skirting plates as well as ERA panels. Active protection systems exist and have been lost out in the gun versus butter battle.

Tanks, ICVs, Artillery Guns, helicopters, aircraft, ships, submarines will all get hit as will the foot soldier, it does not mean that wars will not be fought and Nations will not impose their will on an adversary, is a food for thought. The aging strategists with too many blood thinners being consumed seem to give up too easily and quickly.

The Indian Air Force has huge challenges. A large chunk of the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter fleet, is likely to be phased out; firm replacement so far is the order for 83 planes of the Tejas Mark1A version. The other projects remain a work in progress.

The organisational changes, the depleting manpower in units and training centres, the challenges of unstable neighbours Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar; the increased defence budgets of the PLA will weigh heavy on the head of the CDS who is the man to conduct war on ground. Unfortunately all others will give their opinions and views, which doesn’t matter much on the battlefield, be it Kargil or Galwan.

Who ever is appointed as the next CDS, must have an agile mind and should be nimble on his feet and a spine of Kevlar to stand up to the bureaucracy and be candid enough with the political leadership of the day on the pros and cons of both the internal and external challenges that we face as a nation?

About The Author

Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd) is a veteran of the 65 Armored Regiment. He is an analyst who writes on defence & strategy, technologies to include aviation, land and naval systems & homeland security. He is an independent defence business consultant with an M.Sc.- Defense and Strategic Studies, Madras University. Post-Graduate Diploma in Executive Management, MDI Gurgaon, MDP in Human Resource Planning, CDM Secunderabad, MDP in Reinvestment in Human Resources, IIM Lucknow, MDP in Financial Management, NAAA, Shimla.

(Views expressed are the author's own & do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)

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