‘Technology will be a key driver of future wars, Indian Army is on track’: Army Chief Naravane – Exclusive Q&A ahead of DefExpo 2020

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February 04, 2020 2:02 PM

Army Chief Gen M M Naravane speaks to FE Online in an exclusive interview, says 'Quality and not the quantity is the mantra' for the Indian Army.

army chief mm naravane interviewArmy chief Manoj Mukund Naravane during the Army Day Parade at Cariappa Ground, in New Delhi. IE File Photo

Future wars are going to be not only network-centric but also complex. And, the Indian Army is prepared for it. It has a long -term perspective plan which is based on the analysis of likely threats and with the changing threats the perspective plan changes accordingly. According to the Army Chief Gen M M Naravane, “For the Indian Army whether it recruitment or acquisition of the defence equipment — Quality and not the quantity is the mantra.” On the eve of the 11th edition of Defence Expo 2020 in Lucknow, Gen Naravane in an interaction with Huma Siddiqui says that the modernisation of the Indian Army is on track.

Following are excerpts:

What is the progress of modernisation in Indian Army? And the current statuses of projects like the Future Infantry Combat Vehicles (FICV), Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV), Close Quarter Battle (CQB) Carbines, and Rifles to be made in India.

Rifles: A case for procurement of 6,71,427 Assault Rifles for Indian Army is being progressed on an Inter-Government Agreement (IGA), wherein a Joint Venture, Indo Russia Rifles Private Ltd (IRRPL) has been formed between OFB & Kalashnikov. RFP for this case has been issued & is being progressed as per laid down procedures.

CQB Carbine: Scheme for CQB Carbine for immediate requirement of 93,895 carbines under Fast Track Procurement is at an advanced stage. For balance requirement, the case is in progress separately.

FRCV: The Request for Information was uploaded in November 2017 with the date of submission as June 30, 2018. We have received responses of four OEMs for the complete platforms. The process for ratification of Qualitative requirements for the FRCV is currently under progress. The FRCV project is progressing as per the guidelines of the Strategic Partnership Model.

FICV: Interactions are presently taking place to progress the case expeditiously. Various options are being considered. A fresh RFI for Project FICV has been prepared and will be shared with the industry in some time. Keeping with the pace of phasing out of existing platforms, and efforts are on to achieve its induction by 2026-27.

How is the Army getting ready for future warfare?

Future conflicts are likely to be more violent and unpredictable and battle spaces severely contested, seamlessly connected, and constrained by indeterminable factors. Technology will become the key driver of future wars. The spectrum of conflict having broadened has brought almost all the organs of the state within the ambit of conflict. The response, therefore, will have to be planned and integrated at the apex level.

Cyberspace is likely to be fiercely contested in future with threats of Cyber-attacks to critical national infrastructure. Non-kinetic, non-contact means are likely to see more engagements. Battle of narratives, climate change leading to mass migrations and competition for natural resources, ideologically driven radicalised ‘Proxies’ are likely to enhance the operating space. The Armed Forces would need to be conscious about the dynamic and rapid technological advancements in space, its militarisation and increasing integration of space capabilities with future warfighting.

There is a need to protect the country’s security interests which will increase and hence geo-strategic imperatives dictate possession of commensurate capabilities.

How well is the Army prepared?

We are closely monitoring the security situation, assessing manifestations of future threats & analysing the changing character of conflict, updating our doctrines and response options in the process. We have a well-established system of capability building through Long Term Perspective Plans which is being pursued vigorously within the given budgetary envelope. Numerous measures in terms of procurement through emergency powers, Fast Track Procurement, Inter-Governmental Agreements and Foreign Military Sales are being optimally exploited to bridge capability gaps.

Nature of future military and non-military security, therefore, implies the imperative need for the Army to be prepared for multi-spectrum challenges. It needs to remain prepared and trained to fight a conventional war, while continuing to deploy large numbers to guard our multi-front borders, countering proxy war and fighting insurgencies, and also provide troops to UN and out of the area contingency (OOAC) missions, all at the same time.

What are the Army’s expectations from Defence Expo 2020?

The DefExpo is one of the largest gathering of defence professionals globally (35 international delegations). It showcases the Indian Defence Ecosystem as an emerging hub to meet the defence needs of the region and the globe and allow DPSUs/ Indian Pvt Industry/ MSMEs/ Start-Ups/ Garage Innovators to showcase their expertise/ Products to Armed Forces of the region / World.

The army expects substantial contribution from the private sector, foreign and domestic, in exploiting emerging technologies to enable long term and holistic solutions to the country’s security needs to include — Resource Generation; Boost Defence Exports, ‘Make in India’ in the Defence sector.

Most importantly, it will give a fillip to defence minister Rajnath Singh’s desire to build a defence manufacturing hub of US $ 26 billion 2025.

The expo also provides a platform for users/ Field Commanders to interact/ familiarize with emerging technologies (non-contact and disruptive) so as to enable the Indian Army to fight future wars.

It will also strengthen defence and manufacturing partnerships (bi-lateral and multilateral).

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