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  Future Indian Army Soldier
will be Tech-smart
By Gulshan Luthra and Lt Gen Vinayak Patankar Published : October 2007

New Delhi. The Indian Army is steadily implementing a major plan to make its units “light, rapidly deployable and more lethal at extended ranges, particularly in darkness”

Outgoing Chief of Army Staff Gen J J Singh told India Strategic in an interview before laying down the office that the Army is already implementing a long-term Perspective Plan till 2017 to equip its soldiers with new, 21st century weapons and net-centricity to give them instant connectivity to one another and take on an enemy “there and then.”

There are “specific milestones to induct cutting-edge technologies” to give the best to the war fighter to defend the country. Space-based Information, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities (ISR) are being introduced as well as UAVs, helicopters and particularly night-fighting capabilities.

Gen J J Singh, who also headed the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), said that future warfare would envisage integrated deployment from all the three services, and that this was “the main theme in the Joint Doctrine published in 2006.”

Night-fighting capability was needed by all the three services, particularly the air force. Warfighting has changing so fast that there was no option but to have the best of the sensors and target acquisition and destruction capability day and night, 24 x 7, and always, irrespective of the terrain.

He disclosed that night-fighting devices were extensively being put on all the Indian Army’s Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) like tanks and BMPs while the soldiers were being given night vision goggles, handheld image intensifiers and thermal imagers, GPS position locaters and computer connectivity to give still and streaming video pictures of one’s own and enemy locations.

Lighter weapons, some with laser capabilities, were also being acquired.

Even the older tanks like T 55, which were still with the army, were being refurbished with newer weapons and night sensors.

Gen Singh said that UAVs were a very potent source of information as they provided excellent images day and night, and the armed forces were already trying out night fighting capabilities in periodic exercises with aerial support components like UAVs, helicopters and aircraft. The Indian Air Force (IAF) was involved in these exercises as coordination between the Army and IAF was particularly required.

Information and intelligence about an adversary was important, and equally so was its absorption and dissemination at the command and operational levels, including to the man on the front. Satellites and UAVs for instance, he pointed out, gave excellent imagery, and this input could be tremendous force multiplier to direct precision and destructive fire power.

Terrain knowledge helps in execution of war plans.

Operational readiness 24 x 7, night fighting capability and highly motivated officers and men had been his key result Areas (KRAs), the outgoing Chief said.

The ongoing Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) meant that technology played “a decisive role” in conflicts and that “as future battlefields are likely to be fluid and fast-paced, requiring quicker responses, we are revamping our communication systems to achieve true networking.”

“Based on the Joint Doctrine, the Army has already published its doctrine, as have the other two services. All other doctrines, like the one on Sub-Conventional Operations released recently, take into account the imperatives of jointness. The Army is increasingly focusing on the need for increased cooperation while operating in conjunction with the Navy and Air Force.”

The Army chief pointed out that conduct of joint operations was “an aspect being given due importance by us and that towards this end, efforts at evolving inter-operable systems, doctrines and concepts are already underway.”

As for tomorrow’s soldier, Gen J J Singh added, he will look like a “hi-tech man-machine system.”

“New technologies from sensors to lighter but precision weapons would greatly improve the current capabilities of the soldiers, regardless of their technology and there is no choice but to keep up with them. “Our soldier should be able to hit an enemy to effectively neutralize him without losing his own life is that’s what we want.”

Gen Singh said that the army had to be prepared and equipped with technology and better weapons even to ensure deterrence. “India wants peace, and one of the best ways to ensure this is to be prepared to neutralise an enemy if he attacks.”

“Besides the induction of technology, our Infantry, Mechanised Forces, Artillery and Air Defence components are being modernised to retain conventional deterrence against our adversaries,” he observed pointing out that “we are laying special focus on revamping our surveillance and intelligence gathering systems with a view to integrate the same into our decision making process.”

Newer technologies have to be absorbed and fast at all levels.

“A project, ‘Futuristic Infantry Soldier As a System’ (FINSAS) has been launched which will provide the infantryman with sensors for night vision, smart electronic displays, lightweight energy absorbing protection with smart surfaces, advanced automated lightweight role, so as to be able to function more efficiently and effectively. The fully integrated ‘Infantryman’ of tomorrow will be equipped with
mission-oriented equipment integrated with his buddy soldier team, the sub-unit, as also the overall C4I2 (Command, Control, Communications Computers, Information and Intelligence) system.”

Gen J J Singh said that “modernisation of our Army is an ongoing process, periodically reviewed, to keep in step with operational imperatives that flow from our national security aspirations.

” The important thing now is that there are rapid advances in weapons, protection against biochemical threats and state-of-the-art light weight communication equipment. It is a major step in our endeavour to make the infantry soldier contemporary, in accordance with the requirements of the modern-day battle environment.”

As for threats to the security of India, the outgoing chief said that “changed security environment, defined by forces of globalisation, terrorism, Revolution in Military Affairs – to name a few – have had a profound effect on the way we perceive threats. Post KARGIL and Operation PARAKRAM, the emerging status of India in regional and global affairs, had accentuated the need for revisiting the doctrinal and operational concepts for the Army.

Gen J J Singh said that for an emerging modern military power to retain its strategic autonomy, self reliance and indigenisation were also a must. Therefore, considerable emphasis was being laid on encouraging indigenous development of equipment by our Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) independently as well as in partnership with private industry.

Gen J J Singh said that the Army’s vision was “to be an optimally equipped and weaponised force, with the capability to operate effectively in a joint services environment in the entire spectrum of conflict, in a regional context.”

He pointed out though that “irrespective of the advances in technology the man behind the machine will always retain primacy… Our junior leaders and soldiers will have to be trained to handle ambiguity in order to exploit situations in a fluid, fast paced battle.

“Senior commanders will have to develop the ability to sift speedily through information. These are some of the areas receiving our attention.”

  India Strategic  
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