‘Achieving joint-ness and integration is a continuous process and it is work in progress. A lot has been done, is being done and is yet to be done’
HQ IDS and the office of the CISC were created in September 2001. What has been accomplished since then?
After the Kargil operations of 1999, the Group of Ministers led by Lal Krishna Advani visualised a need for greater joint-ness and synergy among the Services. It was also felt that the Services HQ must be integrated with the ministry of defence. HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) was raised to meet these needs. From then till now, HQ IDS has taken significant strides towards achieving these objectives. It has become a pivotal link between the three Services as well as between the Services and the ministry of defence on all tri-services issues.
HQ IDS and the office of the CISC have facilitated, over the years, significant improvements in the fields of Tri-Services procurements, force structuring and capability development, sharing of intelligence, joint training, strategy and doctrine formulation, conduct of joint exercises in India and abroad and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, establishment of Defence Space and Cyber Agencies and Special Operations Division, etc.
Today, there is greater interaction between the ministry and Services and between the Services; there’s better response to each other. HQ IDS can claim some part of the credit for this positive development.
What all has been achieved by the IDS in developing and strengthening joint-ness amongst the Services?
Promoting joint-ness, synergy and integration is the mantra for the IDS. There has been significant progress in this direction since the raising of IDS.
HQ IDS is now a key catalyst in synergising the modernisation and force structuring efforts of the three Services. It has a vital role to play in prioritisation and actualisation of defence procurement at the policy as well as execution levels.
HQ IDS has ushered in greater joint-ness in the fields of intelligence, training, logistics, communications, military aspects of space and cyber domains, maintenance, testing and repair of common equipment, etc. We have coordinated conduct of tri-Services exercises in India and abroad. Recent conduct of Ex-Indra 2017, which was the first tri-Services exercise to be held abroad, is an apt example. We have also been conducting joint HADR exercises with participation by all three Services and civilian stakeholders periodically in various locations in the country.
Achieving joint-ness and integration is a continuous process and it is work in progress. A lot has been done, is being done and is yet to be done. In recent past, this issue has received more impetus after the Prime Minister’s directions during the Combined Commanders’ Conference this year.
What would you prefer and why, formation of CDS or Permanent Chairman COSC?
The raising of HQ IDS in September 2001 was the beginning of an evolutionary process of integration of the three Services. It was the essential first step in the process. While CDS will be most effective in creating Tri-Services integration, we have to ensure that we are not off-balance at any stage as we have active borders. It may be, therefore, prudent to appoint a Permanent Chairman COSC first, who would take under command the existing Tri-Services structures and evolve more such structures to foster enhanced synergy. This would set the stage for greater integration, eventually leading to the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
Broadly, what is the concept of Integrated Theatre Commands? Has this been discussed by the COSC?
The concept of Integrated Theatre Commands entails integration of all components of the three Services in a specific region under one Commander. This region can be defined by a common threat, geographical continuity, mission commonality or any such factor that necessitates unification of efforts to meet the threat. A Theatre Commander would enjoy relatively greater autonomy in planning and prosecuting operations in his theatre. He would also be accountable to the leadership.
At present, in our country, all three Services have their respective individual Services Commands organised on a regional basis. In many countries, there has been a movement towards integration of the regional Commands of the three Services into Theatre Commands. This is happening in even countries with much smaller armed forces than us. The reasons for doing so range from optimisation of resources to synergised application of combat potential.
The pros and cons of this issue in our context are under deliberation by the COSC and the MoD. We need to put in place an arrangement that best suits our operational requirements rather than simply follow other major countries.
What is the update on Indian Defence University? How will it be different from the existing tri-Services institutes?
In 2001, the group of ministers (GoM) had recommended setting up of an Indian Defence University (IDU). It will be established as an institution of national importance through an Act of Parliament. All necessary preparatory actions have been completed. The Bill is expected to be tabled in the Parliament shortly. The land for IDU had already been acquired near Manesar. Very soon, IDU will be a reality on ground.
IDU will aim to promote a strategic culture and thinking in the country through higher education and research in national security studies, defence management, defence technology and associated areas. People from various fields contributing to national security including the academic community would be trained at the IDU.
IDU will differ from the existing tri-Services institutions in that its trainees would hail from all walks of life which contribute to national security and not just the Service personnel or government officials. IDU will address both strategic and operational level issues in all dimensions of national security. It will enjoy considerable autonomy to facilitate ‘out of the box’ and ‘unbridled’ thinking of all issues of relevance.
Which are these existing tri-Services institutions that are under HQ IDS?
All tri-services institutions in the country come under HQ IDS. In the training domain, there are currently five tri-services institutions. These include Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, Military Institute of Technology in Pune, National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla, College of Defence Management in Secunderabad and the School of Foreign Languages in Delhi which has recently been brought under HQ IDS. Progressively, all these institutions are focusing on tri-services participation as well as training content in their training programmes and courses. There are other tri-services establishments in the intelligence domain that are under HQ IDS as well as tri-Services Commands such as Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC) and Strategic Forces Command (SFC).
What is CISC’s role (operational and administrative) in relation to the ANC and the Strategic Forces Command?
Both ANC and SFC have their own C-in-Cs who report to the Chairman COSC. HQ IDS and CISC form a vital interface between these Commands and the COSC as well as the ministry of defence (MoD) and address a large number of concerns and requirements of both these Commands. HQ IDS is their Service HQ, albeit with some differences arising from the unique roles of these tri-Services Commands.
The Joint Doctrine 2017 of the Indian armed forces released earlier this year received widespread publicity. How would you sum up the scope and limitations of this document?
The fact that such a document has been placed in the ‘open domain’ for the first time and has ‘stirred a debate’ is a positive development. A doctrine is always a ‘work-in-progress’ and informed inputs from the environment are necessary for its evolution. The critique that the document generated has been viewed from this perspective and will be appropriately acted upon.
HQ IDS has recently published a Joint Doctrine on Training. What are the highlights of this document?
This document highlights a ‘joint training philosophy’ for the armed forces from which joint training directives will flow on specific subjects. It emphasises a progressive shift from ‘Individual Service Approach’ to a ‘Collective Tri-Services Approach’ in training for war. We will continuously evolve this Doctrine based on feedback and experience gained.
What is the relationship between the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and intelligence directorates of individual services? How can this be improved and in which areas?
The intelligence directorates of the three services focus on areas of interest of respective Services. DIA retains a tri-services and strategic perspective on intelligence. They all have their clearly defined mandates. Appropriate interfaces have been developed over the years and the DIA and Services Intelligence Directorates work synergistically.
What is the update on Cyber and Space Agencies and Special Operations Division?
The proposal for the raising of the defence cyber and space agencies and the armed forces special operations division are at an advanced stage of consideration by the services and the ministry of defence. We should soon be able to raise these unique institutions in a manner that suits our interest best.
Is the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government progressing in the right direction as far as the defence sector is concerned? What are the major steps undertaken to give it a boost?
The ‘Make in India’ initiative in defence sector has been given an impetus recently with some significant initiatives. The promulgation of Defence Procurement Policy-16, wherein Buy-IDDM has been accorded the highest priority, is a significant facilitator for ‘Make in India’. The CCS cleared the Strategic Partnership (SP) model in May 2017. This gives a boost to the participation of the private sector in defence industry, particularly in high tech and complex areas. All these will progressively reduce dependence on imports and also create an eco-system of Indian vendors/ manufacturers. The three services which earlier had only four ‘Make’ Projects under DPP-16 have 44 projects today in various stages of progress and a host of others are also being proposed.
Could you throw more light on the ‘Strategic Partnership’ model?
The Strategic Partnership (SP) model has been put in place to boost private sector partnerships in defence industry, particularly at the high-tech levels. The aim is to progressively build indigenous technological capabilities to design, develop and manufacture complex defence platforms and systems. Four platforms namely fighter aircraft, submarines, helicopters and armoured fighting vehicles/main battle tanks have been initially identified. Under this model, in order to meet the requirement of the Services for any of these complex platforms, an Indian company in partnership with a foreign manufacturing firm with relevant expertise would be selected. Indian firms will progressively be able to develop the requisite technological expertise and capability to manufacture these platforms.
What is the formal relationship of HQ IDS with DRDO, if any?
DRDO is involved in all procurement cases of Services from their conceptualisation to completion. HQ IDS holds regular interactions with DRDO and to ascertain areas of current & future research and development. Long Term Integrated Perspective Plans of the services are discussed with DRDO to identify technologies required to be developed indigenously to meet the requirements of the services. The resources/ capabilities of not only public entities but also private industry and academia dealing in high technology research are tapped to build these capabilities. A number of these new/ niche technology projects are funded through the Technology Development Fund and ‘Make in India’ (government-funded) methods.
How has the raising of HQ IDS helped in the Defence Procurement Process?
The raising of HQ IDS has brought in significant joint-ness, simplification of procedures, sharing of best practices amongst the Services and efficiency in the defence procurement process.
Inputs from all three Services are analysed and fused in HQ IDS by respective Service experts working together to avoid duplication and achieve synergy. Long-term plans are made in a prioritised manner to match force development with desired capability matrix. Through simplification of procedures and delegation of financial powers, delays in the procurement process have been minimised.
HQ IDS has also provided a single point contact for the MoD on all procurement related issues, thereby enabling early resolution of queries/ issues. In fact, HQ IDS has become a single point contact for MoD for all tri-Services issues.