Defence Ministry’s year-end review: Looking ahead to 2022

News: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released its traditional year-end review. The review focuses almost exclusively on the military’s successes and achievements during the year gone by, while playing down its shortcomings.

What are some of the key achievements mentioned in the report?

Defence management reform:

Appointment of a tri-service chief of defence staff (CDS) and the creation of a department of military affairs – Report calls it the most significant and transformative defence reform undertaken by any government since independence.

A comprehensive agenda for the “optimum utilisation of scarce national resources, enhancing synergy and jointness between the three services.” This was set forth by the first CDS, General Bipin Rawat.

Towards revamping the logistics structure, three Joint Services Study Groups are developing common logistics policies.

A pilot project has kicked off, based on establishing Joint Logistics Nodes at Mumbai, Guwahati and Port Blair.

Three “joint doctrines” were formulated in 2021, while four new joint doctrines — namely capstone, space, cyber and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance— are at an advanced stage.

Closing or scaling down of logistic installation of the Indian Army to enhance combat capability and balance defence expenditure. This has resulted in substantial savings to the exchequer, besides increasing the “teeth to tail” ratio.

Atmanirbhar Bharat: Under this slogan, the report talks about boosting indigenous equipment development.

induction of the Tejas light combat aircraft into the Indian Air Force (IAF)

Strengthening border infrastructure: Since the Chinese intrusions into Ladakh in April-May 2020, the MoD has focused on developing border roads and transport infrastructure. This boosts defence preparedness while also supporting local economic development in the border regions. For instance: Inauguration of a road over Umling La Pass in Eastern Ladakh, which, at 19,024 feet above sea level, is now the world’s highest motorable road.

Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has been converted into seven new Defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). This has been done to provide autonomy and enhance efficiency.

The new Defence PSUs will become operational from 1st Oct, 2021.

Theatre commands: A “Tri–services Joint working Group” has been established to work out the details of integrating communications networks between the services. Besides, a review is being carried out to right size/reshape army units.

Indian Air Force: During the face-off with the Chinese in Eastern Ladakh, the IAF moved its sensors, aerial platforms and associate equipment to the region to deal with any contingency.

The Tejas fighter, Arudhra and Aslesha radars, Astra air-to-air missiles, Akash surface-to-air missile system, Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter and Light Combat Helicopter were added to IAF’s inventory.

Indian Navy:

The first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, successfully accomplished its maiden sea voyage in August 2021.

The first destroyer of Project 15B, INS Visakhapatnam, was commissioned in 2021.

Two Scorpene submarines, INS Karanj and INS Vela, were commissioned, with over 75 per cent indigenous content.

Meanwhile, five naval vessels were decommissioned, including the destroyer INS Rajput, a survey vessel, INS Sandhayak, and a missile corvette, INS Khukri.

What are some issues mentioned in the report?

– Army’s resistance to indigenous Arjun tanks: The Army operates about 4,000 tanks. After accounting for the recently placed orders for Arjun Mark 1A tanks by the MoD, Army’s Modern Battle Tank fleet will have just 6% Arjun Tanks. This is despite the fact that the tank proved itself a match to the Russian T-90 in a comparative trial conducted in the Rajasthan desert in March 2010.

An ingrained prejudice against indigenous tanks has been cited as a reason for this.

But it was officially stated that the Arjun tank was too heavy for roads and bridges along the Pakistan border, and too wide to be transported by train.

Source: This post is based on the article “Looking ahead to 2022” published in Business Standard on 6th Jan 2022.

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