In any future environment, the Army will likely operate multiple locations across land, air, sea and cyber landscapes.
It will do so on relatively short notice to achieve a specific objective. A highly encrypted cloud system of the Indian Army, similar to that of Google, which will store personnel as well operational data, has been launched in New Delhi in line with the force’s plan to be a “digital army”.
In the US, the army stores it’s database with the private players, mostly Google servers. The information is only privy to the US Defense Department and the US Army is the most digitalised across all the militaries in the world. The next is followed by Russia and China, while India stands at position no.4 which is a great news for all us Indians!
The ‘Army Cloud’ includes a central date centre, a near line data centre, both in Delhi and a disaster recovery site for a replication of its critical data along with virtualised servers and storage in an environmentally controlled complex. This is similar to ‘Meghraj’, the cloud system of National Informatics Centre, and will provide all IT infrastructure, including servers for computing, storage, network security equipment centrally for automation of Indian Army.
The latest technology in the field has been incorporated in the implementation of the first-ever software defined
data centre, wherein all the resources could be provisioned to different applications on the cloud with the click of a button. It has already started providing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) to the pan-Army users as the first cloud service and will soon provide software-as-a-service (SaaS).
Another ‘Digital Army Initiative’ is ‘Digi-Locker’, which provides a secure and exclusive data storage space to all the units and formation headquarters of the army over its dedicated data network. The defence minister Manohar Parrikar while inaugurating the Central Data Centre, Army Cloud and Digi-Locker for the Indian Army, complimented the Army for initiating such steps as a part of the Digital Army programme. He said this can be of great use for faster documentation, information and speedy delivery of services. The minister emphasised the need to educate and sensitise every person in the force on the advantages of such services and technology upgradation.
The Digi-Locker will provide a secure and exclusive data storage space to all the units and formation headquarters of the Army over its dedicated data network. It is similar to e-Locker of Digital India programme and has all the advanced features like digital signatures and watermarking.
This is an important step towards implementation of cyber security as it precludes carriage of soft copies of data on CDs/DVDs and removable media. Users can store, share and access the data from anywhere any time on the Army Data Network.
The Indian Army has launched a programme for Digital Army with nine pillars for digitisation. Three of the nine pillars of this umbrella programme, namely broadband highways, universal access to telephones and Army Data Network stress upon IT infrastructure development. Another three namely e-governance, electronic delivery of services and online information for all, focus on delivery of services to all units and formation headquarters. For any modern army, the network centric operations are essential for meeting enhanced challenges of asymmetry, lethality, fluidity and non-linearity in the present day battlefield. The Indian Army is addressing this key area comprehensively.
Recently, in a bid to digitise service records of over 12 lakh Army soldiers, the Army has launched new automation software ARPAN 3.0—Army Record Office Process Automation 3.0. The software would also provide easy access to pay, leave, transfer and posting details of the personnel and could be accessed both by the units as well as individuals.
Apart from these, the Army is also working on a data-radio set that can transmit video from a border post in line of actual control to the headquarters in New Delhi live. Presently, all Army battalion headquarters are connected through the wide area network (WAN) which provides secure communications between units.
Another key project of the Army is mobile cellular communication system (MCCS) which was introduced in 2007 on a trial basis in Jammu, under the 16 Corps headquarters. It is currently being spread across the Kashmir sector under 15 Corps and 70% of the work has been completed. MCCS is a CDMA-based system and offers more secrecy, besides better protection against hacking. “MCCS uses a captive army network and is limited to Army usages. It will prove very effective in tactical and operational scenarios,” according to Indian Army officials.