Addressing his annual Army Day press conference,
Chief of Army Staff Gen VK Singh said that somehow
all efforts to acquire various guns over the past
several years had failed. It was like a Snakes
and Ladders game with no ladders.
“The procurement game is a version of snakes
and ladders where there is no ladder but only
snakes, and if the snakes bite you somewhere,
the whole thing comes back to zero,” he said adding
that he was hopeful of some guns to be cleared
for acquisition shortly.
It was 25 years ago that the Indian Army had
acquired Bofors guns from Sweden. There were allegations
of payback of around Rs 64 crores. The gun had
come with designs for production in India, with
the much-needed Transfer of Technology, but its
production was never undertaken by the designated
public sector body, the Ordnance Factory Board.
Nonetheless, the Indian Army used the guns exceedingly
well in the 1999 Kargil War to demolish fortified
Pakistani army positions.
Bofors has since been sold several times to US
and British companies.
There has also been a proposal to acquire 145
ultra light howitzers M777 from the BAE Systems’s
US arm. But it is also stuck somewhere.
Army has plans to buy four types of modern guns.
Besides the US, French, British and Singapore
companies have been in the race.
Said Gen Singh: “We have put in place a very
comprehensive and a very well thought out plan
by which both indigenous development, certain
amount of acquisition and certain amount of joint
ventures have been meshed together. So that in
years to come we get out of this type of the problem.”
The Army Chief said that procurements worth about
Rs 5000 crores (US$ one billion-plus) were on
the anvil, and that gaps in equipment were being
He observed that appropriate steps towards transformation
of the 1.1 million strong Army, to make it more
responsive and lethal, were underway. Networking
was one important area in that direction. Threats
in both the western and northern fronts were on
Gen Singh pointed out that transformation is
not conceptual. “We are looking at structural
changes in the strike corps. We have a proactive
strategy in place.”
The overall focus is to develop our military
capabilities, that can take care of the envisaged
threats and challenges, which may manifest in
the foreseeable future. The process entails optimisation
of our operational preparedness and functional
capabilities, through upgradation of our concepts
and technologies as also reorganization and restructuring
of our formations. The process will be suitably
complemented by fielding, theatrised combat as
well as logistic support systems,” he said, adding:
“Our government has taken adequate steps, for
large scale infrastructure development in our
border areas, to meet the security requirements,
as also improving the connectivity, to facilitate
overall development of the border areas”
About jointness, the Army Chief said that “post
the establishment of HQ IDS, the Indian Armed
Forces, have embarked on the path to achieve it.
Conceptualisation and promulgation of joint doctrines,
including the visualisation of’Limited War against
a Nuclear Backdrop, forms an important facet of
our integrated approach.”
a query about the breach in fencing along the
Line of Control and International Border, the
Army Chief said the fence had come up very recently
but the troops have been protecting the boundaries
and preventing infiltration for much longer time.
On being asked about confidence building measures
with Myanmar he said,”Meetings between the two
sides’ troops was happening at three levels. A
regional committee has been proposed to be set
up at border which will be headed by a three-star
officer and will have members from the paramilitary,
border guarding forces and the Ministry of Home
Gen Singh said that the Army would like to avoid
being sucked into anti-naxal operations. He said
the involvement of the Indian Army in anti-naxal
operations would make its adversaries happy. The
Army Chief said in the various counter terrorist
and counter insurgency operations undertaken by
the Army in 2011, 11 officers, 8 JCOs and 46 men
had lost their lives.
Enumerating the Army's achievements, Gen Singh
said that it had contributed to 44 peacekeeping
missions out of the 69 launched by UN. “We have
deployed 7239 personnel in seven UN missions worldwide.