Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande laid out the comprehensive roadmap for the Indian Army’s ongoing transformation process, emphasizing the pivotal role of modernization and technology infusion in advancing its capabilities and initiatives.
During a curtain-raiser event for the forthcoming Army’s inaugural Chanakya Defence Dialogue 2023, scheduled for November 3 and 4 in the capital, General Pande highlighted the Army’s commitment to harnessing cutting-edge and disruptive technologies to enhance battlefield effectiveness. He revealed that the Army has identified 45 niche technologies, with approximately 120 indigenous projects related to niche technology at various stages of implementation.
General Pande provided key insights into specific focus areas to underscore the seriousness of adopting emerging technologies. He disclosed that the Army has made significant progress in establishing a 5G testbed, which is currently 75% complete, and a dedicated Center for Artificial Intelligence at the Military College of Technology, Mhow.
General Pande explained the philosophical approach taken for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), focusing on surveillance, image interpretation, vehicle tracking systems, and facial recognition within the AI domain.
Moreover, the Indian Army is directing its attention to the field of Robotics, with a particular emphasis on man-unmanned team solutions, unarmed combat solutions, and robotic mules. In addition, the Army has already incorporated a range of remotely piloted aircraft systems for robotic process automation (RPA) and counter-RPA solutions. These systems encompass Nano and micro drones, boasting a 120km range, and logistics drones with a carrying capacity ranging from 10kg to 40kg, capable of reaching altitudes of approximately 3000 meters. Furthermore, the Army is actively exploring advanced drone technologies capable of flying at altitudes of up to 4000 meters.
These initiatives reflect the Indian Army’s unwavering commitment to enhancing its technological capabilities and readiness to meet modern warfare challenges, as General Manoj Pande outlined. The ongoing transformation aims to reinforce the Army’s position as a forward-looking and technology-savvy force on the global stage.
“In light of the evolving nature of warfare, India must explore the ways it can harness these technologies,” he emphasized, highlighting the emerging domains of conflict witnessed in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which include cyber warfare, space-based operations, information warfare, and the crucial “battle of narratives.”
He underscored the importance of this assessment, emphasizing the imperative for enhanced preparedness and future readiness from the Army’s perspective to address the evolving security challenges effectively.
Indian Defence Industry Stepping Up: Key to Atmanirbharta
Chief of the Army Staff, General Manoj Pande, emphasized that recent global conflicts serve as a stark reminder that the nation’s security cannot be entrusted to external sources or reliant on the generosity of others. He underscored the paramount importance of self-reliance in the defence manufacturing sector.
General Pande outlined the government’s initiatives to bolster self-reliance, stating that the Indian defence industry is stepping up efforts to achieve this objective. Furthermore, he disclosed that the Army collaborates closely with 340 domestic defence companies, engaged in 230 contracts set to materialize by 2025 worth Rs 2.5 lakh crore.
Unprecedented changes in geostrategic landscape
The Army Chief emphasized the presence of unprecedented trends shaping the current geo-strategic landscape, underscoring that India’s growing prominence carries with it not only recognition but also additional responsibilities and opportunities. He stressed that, amid the ongoing changes, the primacy of national interests remains unwavering, with national security’s significance continually rising globally.
“What we are also seeing is the centrality of national interest in this global flux. What we are seeing is, in the entire international system, national security’s salience is increasingly growing,” he said.
Chief of Army Staff, pointed out that one of the crucial lessons from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict is the enduring relevance of land as a critical domain of warfare, especially in countries like India with disputed or contested borders. He emphasized that the benchmarks of victory must be established in the land domain and rooted in the same.
Reflecting on the past year, General Pande described it as both challenging and fulfilling for the Army, as he discussed the force’s progress. He remarked that the border situation has remained stable, and the Army has effectively addressed internal security challenges in line with expectations.
The Chanakya Defence Dialogue 2023, a collaborative effort between the Army and the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), was highlighted by General Pande as an essential forum. He mentioned that this event will complement the Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship geopolitics and geostrategy conference organized by the Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with the think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF).