The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen Manoj Pande, said a massive “transformation” was underway in his force, which rested on five pillars. He said the first is force-restructuring and optimisation to improve combat capabilities and the teeth-to-tail ratio. The other pillars, he said, are – modernisation and the infusion of niche technologies into war-fighting systems; refining systems, processes and functions to increase efficiency; better human resource management through the “extremely progressive and transformative” initiatives like the Agnipath scheme; and jointness and integration among the three services.
“As part of force restructuring and optimisation, we have reviewed our organisational structures towards achieving better combat efficiencies and to achieve an optimal balance between the teeth and tail ratio,” he said while adding that clear deliverables have been identified in a focused manner on enhancing the Army’s efficiency.
Delivering a ‘special address’ at the 8th edition of India Defence Conclave 2023 on 10th October, Gen Pande informed the gathering that the Indian defence industry has invested significantly into research processes and modern production techniques and is today able to meet our requirements. “We have 340 indigenous defence industries working towards fructifying 230 contracts by 2025, which entails an outlay of Rs 2.5 lac crores,” he said.
Providing details of the Army’s bid to leverage and infuse new technologies and increase the technological threshold of soldiers, Gen Pande said, “apart from weapon systems and equipment, we are also pursuing 45 niche technologies which we have identified for military application. Indian Army Cells has been co-opted within lead academic institutes to foster and take forward research in niche domains. 120 indigenous projects are underway to develop and absorb these niche technologies. Centres of Excellence have been established in our Technical Institutions, including 5G test bed, Artificial Intelligence (Al) lab and Quantum lab”.
In the space domain, he said, “We are exploiting our indigenous space assets, and Indian Amy is one of the largest users of satellite communication-based networks. The project for the Indian Army’s own Satellite (GSAT-7B) is in progress.” He also said cyber operations and support units are taking concrete shape, and they will be fully functional within a year.
Addressing over 60 foreign defence attaches in the conclave, the Army Chief said “I would like to convey to the Foreign Defence Attaches present here that the Indian defence industry today produces cutting-edge military hardware with modern technologies. Their achievements have opened up new vistas for defence exports. Our friendly countries and partners can avail capability-building opportunities from our successful progression towards producing world-class ‘Made In India’ defence hardware, systems, processes and functions,” said.
Speaking on the lessons learnt from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Army Chief said that the security of the nation cannot be relied on outside assistance. He observed that the armed forces cannot rely on imports, and the Army is fully committed towards the ‘Atmanirbhar–Bharat (self-reliant India) initiative in defence.
He said the emergency procurement mandate was given to the Army in four tranches to address immediate operational requirements along the Northern borders, which has greatly facilitated our capability development.
“In the first three, we had a total of 68 contracts with an outlay of Rs 17,500 crore,” he said, adding that most of them have already fructified and deployed in the field formations.
“In the last tranche, we have done much better. We got into contracts for 73 different systems with an outlay of almost Rs 11,000 crore,” he said.
“These pan across a number of different new technologies that we are looking at, and we are hopeful that once we deploy them in our formations, based on the feedback that we get, I think that will form the basis of our other major capital procurement cases,” he said.
Gen Pande informed that the Army’s focus areas for technology infusion include – improving mobility and protection, enhancing night enablement, amplifying the effectiveness of communication equipment, deploying specific electronic warfare systems, intensifying the lethality of firepower, procuring new generation munitions, inducting drones and anti-drone systems, new family of engineering and plant equipment and improving logistic capacities and efficiencies induction of new weapon platforms for mechanised forces, artillery and aviation are also in the pipeline.