New navy chief backs joint command structure, theatre commands - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 3 December 2021

New navy chief backs joint command structure, theatre commands

Presents detailed explanation of inter-service prioritization and acquisition process


By Ajai Shukla 

Business Standard, 4th Dec 21 


New chief of naval staff (CNS), Admiral R Hari Kumar, made clear his full support of government initiatives when he told journalists on Friday that creating the institution of chief of defence staff (CDS) and a defence management agency (DMA) was “The most important higher defence organisational reform that has happened in our country since independence.”


Explaining the benefits of a CDS, Kumar said: “It facilitates orientation, participation and contribution to nation building. There is clear dissemination of the national policy objectives to the military. There is greater awareness of the national challenges. There is direct responsibility and accountability to political objectives.”


The last two CNSs were publicly critical of the navy’s declining budget, and the reduction in planned warships from 200 vessels in 2027 to just 170. After the CDS, General Bipin Rawat, placed a public question mark over plans for a second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2), Admiral Karambir Singh, Kumar’s predecessor as CNS, spoke out strongly about the need for the carrier.


Kumar, on Friday, presented a detailed explanation of the new acquisition process, called the Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP), which would be used to arrive at what equipment was essential for which service.


“It is a scientific process based on environment scan, net assessment, national military objective, the subordinate military objective – all these provide the input, based on which the military strategy is worked out. Based on the strategy you work out what are the missions and what are the capabilities that you are to derive. From this, you work out the capability gaps. From these you develop the requirements,” said Kumar.


“You do a financial mapping and prioritisation, both intra-service and also inter-service. And from this you arrive at the deliverables. So what are the deliverables in this? The 10-year ICDP it is called; the five-year acquisition plan; and a two-year, roll-on annual acquisition plan,” explained Kumar.


These plans are sent for approval to the apex leadership, where the budget is matched with the plans and, in case there are still any capability gaps, then mitigating strategies are worked out -- diplomatic, economic and political – involving an all-of-government approach.


Kumar said that this was the rough process, which has been underway since last year. Once completed by end-2022, it will govern the equipment and capabilities that each service gets.


So far, the navy continues to be allocated the smallest capital budget of the three services, despite the growing challenge in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) from the People’s Liberation Army (Navy), or PLA(N), which Kumar says he is aware of.


“We are aware of the developments in the PLA(N). They have built over 138 ships in the last 10 years, which roughly translates into 13-14 combat platforms every year… It is not all about (warship) numbers. It is also about how you exploit the weapons that you have, your strategies, operational plans, all the effort that we can bring to bear at a point,” said Kumar.


Kumar, however, p;resented an assurance that the Indian Navy remained a well-balanced force that was confident of defending India’s maritime interests.


4thof December each year is celebrated as the Navy Day, to commemorate Indian Navy’s daring attack on Karachi. This year sees the completion of 50 years of this landmark.


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