A military modernisation manifesto

What needs to be done to promote India’s interests

Excerpts from my article in the 60th issue of Pragati:

A decade after the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) submitted its recommendations not much has changed. The report had argued that India’s defence structures are woefully outdated and need to be modernised in a purposeful, determined manner. Yet, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, the way India organises, equips, manages, employs and rewards its armed forces has remains largely the same as Lord Mountbatten’s staff officer had recommended in the 1940s. Big-ticket arms purchases, development of indigenous weapon systems, new procurement policies and a token change in the form of a integrated defence headquarters might provide political, bureaucratic and military leaders with talking points on military modernisation, but they fall short even by the standards of the 2002 KRC report.

India’s strategic environment has changed not merely in the geopolitical sense. Its nature itself has changed. India’s national interests have an increasing global footprint, making geoeconomics far more important in our strategic calculus. As K Subrahmanyam noted in an interview with this magazine in May 2008, knowledge is the currency of power in the twenty-first century.

Each one of these by itself is a profound development requiring a substantial review of how it affects the way India manages its armed forces. In reality, these developments are all simultaneously under way, calling for urgent attention to military reforms. The UPA government instituted a high-level task force headed by Naresh Chandra last year to review and update the Kargil Committee Report. It is unclear if the UPA government intends to move forward on a major defence reform agenda. [Pragati]

A military modernisation manifesto calls for a doctrine on the use of force, develop defence economics, institute joint theatre commands, invest in new capacities and master the information environment. Read on Read on to see what must change.

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