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Modernisation on the March: Blueprint for a Future-Ready Indian Army

Many changes in "Year of Transformation – 2023” saw the Indian Army’s evolution into a powerful, self-reliant force. During the year, the Army launched several projects to modernise and optimise its structure, infuse technology, and improve efficiency

By Neeraj Mahajan

Army Day Feature

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is looking to create a strong, secure, self-reliant, and inclusive India with record defence exports and all-time high defence production. All round efforts are being made to achieve ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence and Armed Forces modernisation with a strong emphasis on strengthening border infrastructure, Nari Shakti and ex-servicemen welfare.

The Indian Army is spearheading the drive towards Aatmanirbharta and forging ahead to create a vibrant defence ecosystem. The Indian Army designated 2023 as the ‘Year of Transformation’ and rolled out several projects to sharpen and reshape its functional capabilities. This process of transformation hinges on the five pillars- ‘Force Structuring and Optimisation’, ‘Modernisation and Technology Infusion’, ‘Systems, Processes & Functions’, ‘Human Resource Management’ and ‘Jointness and Integration’.

Force Restructuring & Optimisation

The Indian Army is looking to right size, rationalise and reorganise its organisational structure, while undertaking modernisation and incorporating niche technologies including 5G, AI, Quantum Technology, Internet of Military Things, Robotics, Adaptive Manufacturing and Space Assets for Satellite Communication.

Efforts are being made towards jointness and integration preceding theaterisation with renewed impetus.

  • Reorganisation of Early Warfare (EW) and Electronic Intelligence units under EW Brigades is formalised. Raising of additional EW Battalions is under progress.
  • Reorganisation of Surveillance and Target Acquisition (SATA) units is underway.
  • Outsourcing of Non-Core Services is underway to realign combat manpower for core tasks.

The Indian Army designated 2023 as the ‘Year of Transformation’ and rolled out several projects to sharpen and reshape its functional capabilities. This process of transformation hinges on the five pillars- ‘Force Structuring and Optimisation’, ‘Modernisation and Technology Infusion’, ‘Systems, Processes & Functions’, ‘Human Resource Management’ and ‘Jointness and Integration’

Modernisation & Technology Infusion

A roadmap has been put in place for upgrades, new acquisitions and infusion of niche technology. The right balance between ‘Conventional’ and ‘New’ capabilities is being maintained. A focused approach is being followed to ensure timely and pragmatic trials. This will boost the capability of the Indian Army in the domain of mobilisation, firepower, communication/non-communication, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and drone/counter-drone systems.

Indian Army has collaborated with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to develop advanced electronics and infrastructure, aligning with Digital India and Make in India initiatives. 5G laboratories have been established at various locations including the Military College of Telecommunication Engineering (MCTE). In addition, Military grade 5G and 6G laboratories are being established at various locations. MCTE has been developed as a key Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence.

Indian Army has also provided platforms to indigenous defence industries to showcase their capabilities to friendly foreign countries.

System, Processes & Functions

Digital initiatives have been undertaken in a major way to effect improved efficiencies in domains of Operational Enablement. The Indian Army has been an important partner in the Prime Minister Gati Shakti National Master Plan and formulation of NLP. Efforts have been made to align initiatives undertaken by the Indian Army to the national vision. 180 Officers have been trained on Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT) Karmayogi platform and additional training with BISAG-N is being planned. A Tri- Services Geographic Information System (GIS)-based Infrastructure portal akin to Prime Minister Gati Shakti is being created under the aegis of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff.

As part of digitisation and making the benefits more accessible, SPARSH has been adopted by the new pensioners as approximately 95% of legacy pensioners have migrated to SPARSH. SPARSH is an internet-based fully automated project outsourced by CGDA for sanction, computation, revision and disbursement of pension. The objective of the project is ‘Right Pension to Right Person at Right Time’ through a single source i.e. PCDA (P) by delinking banks, Defence Pension Disbursing Offices and other pension disbursing agencies.

Human Resource Management

The Indian Army is attempting to make the Short Service Commission (SSC) more attractive and has prepared a draft cabinet note to make SSC attractive.

Common Annual Confidential Report for Major General and above rank officers have been instituted.

Participation by JCOs/NCOs in Foreign Courses. As a new initiative, JCOs/ NCOs are now being sent to UK, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal & Philippines specialized courses in the Military Domain (Sniper, Jungle Warfare, Commando and Combat Training).

In the last five years, the Army Welfare Placement Organisation (AWPO) has successfully placed 1,439 officers, 15,332 JCOs & 74,982 Other Ranks in various education institutes, autonomous bodies and government/ semi-government organisations.

The Indian Army is attempting to make the Short Service Commission (SSC) more attractive and has prepared a draft cabinet note to make SSC attractive. Likewise a common Annual Confidential Report for Major General and above rank officers has been instituted

The Indian Army is committed towards gender neutrality. Some of the major achievements in this field during the year 2023 included:

  • Ongoing induction of Women Officers (WOs) in the Regiment of Artillery. 10 Women officers were commissioned in the Regiment of Artillery during 2023.
  • Induction of WOs in Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC). Four WOs were inducted into RVC in 2023.
  • 30 Army Girl Cadets are under training in the National Defence Academy.
  • Study on Induction of women as JCOs/ OR in Arms & Services is underway.
  • First Woman Officer was operationally deployed in Kumar Post, Siachen Glacier in January 2023.

Jointness & Integration: Jointness and integration in close coordination with the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. A Common Operational Planning Process has been initiated for synergised planning with operations. Some of the other such initiatives include:

  • Cross-postings on a reciprocal basis- In Operational vacancies, 40 officers have been posted to Indian Air Force and Indian Navy establishments. 21 officers have been posted to Indian Air Force and 19 officers to Indian Navy billets. In Staff vacancies, two Brigadiers and eight Colonels have been posted to Indian Air Force and Indian Navy billets. In Instructional vacancies, nine officers are to be posted in the Training Institute in the Indian Air Force (five) and Indian Navy (four).
  • Cross-attachment of officers for a limited period with Station Headquarters and Command Headquarters of other services is being planned to understand the modalities of functioning of sister services.
  • Indian Army has offered to share of seats for wards of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy in Indian Army Schools and Colleges.
  • Cross-utilisation of common station facilities is in progress. Process for common outsourcing is also being worked out in consultation with the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

Vision 2024 – Steps forward

One of the major changes to be seen in the near future may be the command of units by Women Officers. This has tremendous potential and all efforts are on to ensure that this opportunity is capitalised by adequate guidance and support.

–The writer is a seasoned media professional with over three decades of experience in print, electronic, and web media. He is presently Editor of Taazakhabar News. The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda