Edior's Note: In an article published in The Times Of India on 2nd May, the publication's defence editor Rajat Pandit wrote on the urgent need for a new CDS. To support this claim, he provided reasons encompassing the need for an integrated warfighting machinery, dealing with budget constraints, and making progress in new warfare domains like space and cyberspace.
The article, which talks of matters of deep concern related to the military, has sparked a discourse amongst the veteran fraternity. The following response by Group Captain TP Srivastava offers a pointed rebuttal to Pandit's article.
“Which earth-shaking event has taken place since 8th December 2021, that has required the presence of CDS?”
I like write-ups on Defence matters by Sri Rajat Pandit. The content of his articles is like politicians’ speeches, who speak for 45 minutes but say nothing. Mr. Pandit does the same with exceptional clarity smeared in black tar.
Random issues raised by him are...
Ballooning Salary: Without quoting a single figure, Mr. Pandit has made a prophetic statement about expenditure on military personnel salaries as well as the number of soldiers. He is obviously unaware of investment on these two issues by our main adversaries China and Pakistan. Suffice to mention that China’s Military salary package for the current FY is nearly equal to the entire Indian Defence Budget. The author is oblivious to the fact that the China border, too, has become as active as LoC with Pakistan.
Permanent deployment in the highest cold desert region of the world will demand/is already demanding quick rotation of troops. Environmental conditions prevailing along nearly the entire LAC have severe health-related implications such as sickness/injuries to soldiers. The situation is unlikely to revert to the pre-Galwan era. China cannot be trusted, having thrown the Treaty of Peace and Tranquility into the dustbin. The Indian Army will need more troops to occupy LoC and LAC on a permanent basis. Using phrases viz ‘slashing non-operational flab’ etc. is a tacit acceptance of ignorance of military affairs. Mr. Pandit, national security is not counted /evaluated in terms of ‘cash’.
China’s Advanced Technology: Mr. Pandit has rightly brought out the progress made by China in the arena of space, cyber, satellite fabrication, developing launch capability and reliable platforms, etc. But he has deliberately not mentioned how China accomplished this. China accomplished astronomical growth in technology because it invested heavily in R&D. India failed miserably because none of these military strategists ever questioned/advised the successive governments.
Need for CDS: Subrahmanyam Committee constituted post-Kargil War had no IAF and IN representation. Hence conclusions arrived at and supported by three civilians and one military (in OGs) person cannot be deemed to have examined the issue in a professional manner. Indian military did not lose any war (including in 1962), post-independence, with existing organizational and command structure. The author has almost directly admonished Late Atal Ji’s and successive leaders’ governments for keeping the issue in cold storage. On the contrary successive governments must have examined the need for such an appointment and concluded that it was not needed.
Shortage of Weapons: The author has found it fit to mention the shortages but has failed to assign reasons for the same. Mr. Pandit is either unaware or is scared to call a spade a spade. The biggest problem faced by the Indian Military is the weapons acquisition process, where the role of a Service Chief is at best ornamental. All decisions are taken by the Defence Secretary heading the DPB. There is no accountability for delays and cost escalation. For example- two million dollars AJT was purchased for 24 million dollars after a delay of 22 years. The aircraft carrier deal with Russia was signed for USD 800 million, which ballooned to USD 2.8 billion. The Indian jawan does not have a reliable personal weapon yet.
Service HQs Blamed for Operating Independently: Mr. Pandit believes that the CDS will act as a referee. He needs to understand the role and task of the CDS, where they exist. He has, however, failed to give a single example of such perceived failures in cooperation, which led to an adverse situation. Mere statements are near-perfect examples of professional profligacy.
Structure of Foreign Militaries. Mr. Pandit has failed to understand India’s military role. India’s national policy is to protect our territorial integrity. The military is the chief instrument of ensuring that. Countries mentioned by Mr. Pandit have different national objectives. They have global ambitions and are part of a cohesive military alliance, NATO. Hence, the comparison is irrelevant.
Integrated Commands proposed by Gen Rawat: Did anyone, including Gen Bipin Rawat ever write a white paper on the need to alter the existing structure? Or was it copied from the notes of US War College précis? Let us be pragmatic and not emotional while discussing national security issues.
Appointment of CDS: Startling reality of the undesirability of CDS appointment is proved by the fact that there was no ‘Plan B’ if---------. This is what happened and has highlighted the unwarranted/undesirable haste to appoint an unwanted CDS. Granting CDS a Four-Star status equivalent to a Secretary was a deliberate demotion of Service Chiefs. But Bipin Rawat accepted it, having been CoAS himself. Incidentally, as per pay commission equivalence of basic pay, Service Chiefs are equivalent to Cabinet Secretary having equal Basic Pay of Rupees 2.5 lakh. We do not need a CDS. But if we must have one, then he should be a Five-Star officer. The author is obviously not aware of these facts.
Mr. Pandit, phraseology is a science that does not work for the military and national security issues.
About the Author
Gp Capt. Tej Prakash Srivastava has served in Iraq and is a graduate of both DSSC and AWC. He was Directing Staff at DSSC and Chief Instructor at College of Air Warfare. He Served at Air HQ, commanded a MiG-21 Sqn and headed the IAF establishment of Strike Corps during 'Operation Parakram'. He has authored a book titled 'Profligate Governance – Implications for National Security'. He has written extensively on international and strategic affairs and Defence Procurement Procedures. The IAF officer graduated from the NDA in June 1970 and trained at AFA with 107th Pilots Course. He can be reached at Email: [email protected]
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)