The Army marches on its stomach, so said Napoleon Bonaparte. He knew what he was talking about. If the govt of the day ignores soldiers’physical fitness, mental alertness and spiritual wellness and does not arm, equip and train the battle formations in modern warfare, it is obviously courting defeat at the hands of the well prepared enemy. Is India, that is Bharat, prepared to meet enemy forces in a battlefield of its own choosing? It is an important issue that should not be brushed under the carpet or lost sight of in a procedural wrangle that the bureaucrats running the defence show are so fond of. The pen-pushing babus are so ignorant of ground realities and so adept in writing minutes on files producing a lot of heat but little light that the battle for modernisation is lost before it begins.
The officers and soldiers deployed in Siachin projected an operational requirement for snowmobile to move long distances on snow clad high altitude areas. The case duly recommended by the highest of the high in Army Headquarters was sent to Ministry of Defence for approval and procurement. The babus concerned asked unnecessary and irrelevant questions delaying the procurement of snowmobile. The Army brought it to the notice of the then Raksha Mantri who saw through the delaying tactics of the babus that had jeopardised defence of Siachin against a well equipped enemy, Pakistan. The Raksha Mantri ordered the errant babus to go to Siachin, study the need for snowmobiles on ground and then make constructive comments. The babus chickened, reported sick and did not have the guts to ay no to the army proposal. Snowmobiles were procured and indeed improved mobility of our troops giving them the cutting edge.
LACUNAE IN OUR WAR PREPARATIONS
The Siachen episode is being repeated day after day by the bureaucrats who have the sadist tendency of denying modern weapon systems the the Indian army needs so badly. The debacle of the 1962 took place because our army was ill armed, ill equipped and ill trained for mountain warfare. The numerous parleys between Nehru and Zhou had failed to produce any results on the demarcation of borders between India and China and a conflict was looming large. Krishna Menon, a communist card holder and the then Raksha Mantri derived pleasure in deriding army generals and always kept Nehru in the dark about preparedness of the Indian Army to engage the People’s Liberation Army of China in a serious military engagement. All demends of our army for modern weapons and equipment or developing infra-structure on the India-China borders were denied by the Minister concerned for shortage of cash.
“Throw the Chinese Out” was the Shahi firman issued by an impetuous Nehru while on way to Shri Lanka without even taking the Army Chief into confidence. The humiliating defeat that India suffered at the hands of China is a part of history Nehru and Krishna Menon were to blame. Krishna Menon was forced by the parliament to resign; Nehru suffered a stroke later and never recovered.
Has the present government of India learnt any lessons from the defeat of the 1962 war? None, indeed none. It is as lazy, lethargic and adopts Dhritrashta-like attitude because of blindness and myopic attitude of those who run the show in the defence department.
There is distrust between the Army Chief and the Raksha Mantri who sees and hears only that much as briefed by the top babu, Defence Secretary. The distrust between the two is growing in geometrical proportion. It is unbelievable but true that NO BIG GUN HAS BEEN BOUGHT FOR THE INDIAN ARTILLERY AFTER THE PURCHASE OF THE BOFORS. What a disgraceful show for the Govt of India whose corrupt ministers are ever busy in the loot of the country’s wealth putting Nadir Shah of Iran to shame.
ARMY CHIEF WRITES TO PM
General Vijay Kumar Singh, Chief of the Army Staff who leads the army both in war and peace would like the battle formations to be Fighting Fit. But they are not. The same situation is obtaining at present in 2012 as was in 1962. The numerous proposals made to the Ministry of Defence for buying modern weapons, equipment, night fighting devices, big guns, infantry weapons and air defence paraphernalia are gathering dust in the non-descript offices of lethargic babus who know little about War and do not wish to learn either.
The Army Chief wrote to the Raksha Mantri in January 2012 drawing his attention to serious lacunae in the defence preparedness of the Army but he got no response. Raksha Mantri showed no interest and did not care to have a word with the Army Chief on such an important and urgent issue as the National Defence. Perhaps Kerala, his home state, needed his urgent and undivided attention in party politics. What a lopsided view of national matters.
Naturally the Army Chief had no other way but to write to Prime Minister drawing his attention to serious situation in national defence. In the five-page top secret letter, General VK Singh listed the weapon systems, equipment, infra structure and what have you that the India Army needs to make itself Fighting Fit. The Army Chief deserves all praise for raising the level because what could be of more importance to the Nation than defending itself against powerful and well armed, well equipped armies of non-friendly countries like Pakistan and China.
It would be worthwhile recalling the public statements of the Navy Chief and the Air Force Chief that their outfits were less than FIFTY PERCENT prepared for war. After all, a country raises a Standing Army, Navy and Air Force to meet any and all eventualities that threaten the Security of the country. The did their duty and deserve appreciation for taking the nation into confidence Now the Army Chief has put down his frank assessment of the defence preparedness into black and white so that the forgetful govt does not consign the burning issue to cold storage.
The political Hungama staged by the unpatriotic men and women finding fault with the Army Chief for writing directly to the Prime Minister and holding him indirectly responsible for leaking a top secret letter to the Press.
Let us recall the 1971 war with Pakistan where the Indian Armed Forces gave a crushing defeat to the Pakistan Armed Forces and dismembered that country that had been inimical to Bharat all along. The response of the Indian Army had to be delayed because it suffered from the same chronic shortages as now. General, later Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, the then Army Chief had direct access to the then Prime minister, Indira Gandhi. It facilitated and quickened decision making tremendously. When the finance ministry loosened its purse strings and allowed purchase of new weapon system and arms and ammunition needed, India went to war and won.
Same decisive steps can be taken even now and meet the requirements of the Armed Forces. But CORRUPTION comes in the way. Many ministers are busy making illegal money by selling national assets and sharing the Loot with all those who matter from top to bottom and the finance ministry has, therefore, no money to give to the Defence people to be well armed and well trained. The corruption that has made inroads into the armed forces saw the officers and jawans deployed in Siachin being supplied rotten meat, inedible grain and thereby endangering their fitness for war. Of course, some army bigwigs are in jail having been convicted for corruption but what about the babus of the ministry who make money in defence deals that they approve?
Some critics of the Army Chief are missing the woods while counting trees. They want to pin him down for leaking the contents of his letter to PM. Let us remind ourselves that the all powerful press has access to every nook and corner of the govt establishment. Nothing is hidden from their prying eyes. Who leaked the letter to the Press is yet to be found out. Most of the leakages take place from the offices of babus who have their own vested interests. Let us not find fault with General VK Singh for writing directly to Prime Minister because he had no other option. The Raksha Mantri was just sitting on Army Chief’s letter on the same subject in January 2012 and it was imperative for the Chief to bring it to the notice of the next higher authority that is the Prime Minister. Some ignorant politicians made noises of high decibel on the issue and wasted their breath besides creating noise pollution. After all the Indian Army Chief wrote to the Indian Prime Minister and not to a high official of an enemy country, so what is this fuss about?
It will be in the fitness of things for the Government of India to make purchases of whatever the Armed Forces need and enable them to be Fit For War. Let us remember that the NATION IS ABOVE ALL.
By Brigadier(Retd) Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"