The Indian Army has officially designated 2024 as the “Year of Technology Absorption”, symbolising a dedicated commitment to embracing and harnessing technological advancements. In a prelude to Army Day on January 15, Army Chief General Manoj Pande, during the annual press conference held in New Delhi on Friday, enlisted about the Army’s unwavering commitment towards development, innovation, and the integration of cutting-edge technologies. The primary goal is to propel the Indian Army into a modern and agile force with a strong emphasis on self-reliance.
General Pande highlighted the crucial role of technology as a catalyst for transformative change, stating, “This theme underscores our commitment to leverage technology as a catalyst for transformative change, as well as to utilise in-house expertise to innovate solutions to our operational and logistic requirements and give shape to these projects in collaboration with the domestic defence industry.”
The latest initiative by the Army aligns with its earlier declaration of designating 2023 as the “Year of Transformation.” It led to significant actions, including the reorientation of several arms, such as artillery, recruiting new personnel through Agniveers, downsizing certain verticals, and infusing technology.
General Manoj Pande highlighted the significance of disruptive technologies as the latest frontier in strategic competition. Emphasising the importance of national interests and the established relevance of hard power, he stated, “Niche and emerging disruptive technologies have become the new arena of strategic competition.”
General Manoj Pande also said that the Army has inducted better vehicles, drones and counter-drone systems. “As part of emergency provisions, we have been able to induct some new technologies and address domains of warfare. We have inducted better vehicles, drones and counter-drone systems. We have terrain-specific electronic warfare systems,” stated Gen Pande.
A new operational approach has been introduced for the management of drones and counter-drone systems at the infantry, artillery, and armoured battalion levels, as stated by General Pande. However, he dismissed the idea of forming a dedicated force specifically for technology handling.
Simultaneously, Command Cyber Operations Support Wings (CCOSWs) are being established as special sub-units to enhance cyber capabilities, General Pande noted. He explained, “CCOSWs are being organised into four verticals: Computer Emergency Response Team for immediate response to emergencies, Cyber Security Section for auditing Computers & Networks, Security Operations Control for monitoring and analysis of Networks, and Test & Evaluation Section for testing new applications/software.”
An integral facet of the Indian Army’s technological pursuits involves its exploration of capabilities in the realm of cyberspace. General Pande disclosed, “Indian Army personnel are undergoing training to adeptly utilise technology and effectively engage in the cyber domain through institutionalised, procedural, and technological measures.” Taking a prominent role in this endeavour is Project SAMBHAV, which introduces a secure end-to-end mobile ecosystem powered by advanced 5G technology. Positioned as a significant advancement, this project aims to bolster the Army’s capabilities significantly.
Providing details on acquisitions, the Army Chief informed about approvals for 37 projects amounting to Rs 74,000 crore. Additionally, 86 contracts, valued at Rs 12,000 crores, have been signed with private Indian companies. A key focus for the Army is the forthcoming induction of 350 light tanks, a necessity identified during the Galwan face-off with China in May 2020. The Army Chief mentioned that the RFP (Request for Proposal) for this project would be issued soon.
“Overall, we have planned to optimise our strength by 2027. As per the plan, the force will see the downsizing of nearly one lakh personnel,” disclosed Army Chief.