By Lt Gen Sanjay Kulkarni PVSM, AVSM, SC, SM, VSM (Retd.)
New Delhi. 26 Octobr 2020. The Galwan incident has been the turning point in our relations with China and it has shown to the world, the capability of the Indian Armed Forces and the resolve of the political leadership. The use of Matchets, nail studded baseball bats, iron rods and later firing in the air reveals the mindset of the Chinese and that the Chinese want the water of Pangong Tso warm in winters is quite evident. This has frozen the relations between the two neighbours and much that we don’t want differences to become disputes, unfortunately UNRESTRICTED WARFARE with CHINA and its stooge PAKISTAN is a Life Long threat. ’Keep the water warm but not boiling’, will be the Chinese strategy with India. China has thrown all agreements of Peace and Tranquillity and Confidence Building Measures into the dustbin. The ongoing talks are primarily to gain time to consolidate their strength to look for an opportune time to “teach India a Lesson’’.
The relations with China and Pakistan hereinafter will be different. We have to measure up to them and beat them come what may. We must not lose focus on our economic rise, since our military strength is directly proportional to our economic strength, the economic strength and military strength give diplomacy the teeth and enhances the political resolve to stand up to a Bully. We have to enhance our Comprehensive National Power to be counted as a Nation to be associated with, for its Character and economic and military strength. The Wolf Warrior must be exposed.
On the occasion of the INFANTRY DAY, the above scenario dictates the kind of Infantry we need. India is the second largest importer of arms in the world but it is ranked fourth in terms of Military Power behind USA, Russia and China. India has the second largest standing Army in the world and it spends over 80% of its annual budget on revenue, most of it is appropriated towards salaries, pensions and maintenance of exiting equipment thus leaving very little for modernisation. The challenge is how to equip the Infantry Man who has to face the two adversaries daily without blinking an eyelid and without raising the tempers but be a deterrence in being.
The Make in India initiative continues to make tardy progress despite all incentives. The least that we can do is to be ATMANIRBHAR in matters Infantry, not by shoddily equipping but by providing State of the Art Clothing, Weapons and Equipment and train them hard by providing them ranges and simulators, to Stand Firm and Strike Hard should the need arise. Preparation for war will prevent war. In a democracy, Capacity building takes time but a national will to show the adversaries their place is adequate to deter the adversaries from changing their intentions. This is possible only if we modernise our armed forces taking the Make in India route by achieving Self Reliance in Defence, without compromising on accuracy, lethality, safety, maintainability, state of the art and modern R & D. An anti-tank missile when manufactured in India without diluting its GSQR can cost one fourth the price and assured supply in times of need and provide lakhs of people the employment. The government’s intent must be appreciated and translated into reality by better interaction between the User, manufacturer and R&D and the Government must ensure, hand holding of the manufacturer for minimum five years without they compromising on GSQR.
What is it that the Infantry man wants? Firstly, a good assault rifle which is reliable, lethal, accurate and easily maintainable and light weight, they have now procured through the Fast Track route and now the INFANTRY MAN should work towards EK GOLI EK DUSHMAN. The Carbine is next which hopefully they will soon have as they have shortlisted a few, LMG is I understand under evaluation and hopefully they will soon have one. It is not that they don’t have these weapons, they have plenty, but they are looking to keep pace with modernisation which will see them through for the next twenty-five years.
The ARDE is working hard towards designing the new version of small arms and I sincerely hope with the impetus that the Government policy on Indigenisation is giving, they grab it with both hands and bring it for trials for the Infantry this year, No Excuses of Covid are acceptable. The need for good Surveillance devices both for day and night are a must. A new Multi-Mode Grenade is likely to replace the existing Hand Grenade which is lighter and lethal. The Anti-tank capability of an Infantry Battalion has been enhanced with better launchers. The need for Target acquisition and Situational awareness along with mini UAV and anti-drone capabilities is a must. The long felt need of Bullet Proof Jackets and ballistic helmets have just been met and all this with good and comfortable clothing for all terrains and altitudes with tough shoes and kneepads and elbow guards would go a long way in meeting the aspirations of troops on ground.
Thus, it can be seen that Modernisation of Infantry is on track. Good day and night training with state of art weapons, equipment and communication devices accompanied by battlefield management system would enable the Infantry soldier to be effective on LAC, LOC, IB, Internal security and in Insurgency prone areas. The morale of the soldier would be sky high if all that he needs is Made In India and at par with international standards. Infantry the Queen of the Battle is synonymous of Professionalism.
(Lt Gen Sanjay Kulkarni PVSM, AVSM, SC, SM, VSM (Retd) was commissioned in 4 KUMAON in 1977. For leading his platoon to unfurl the National Flag on Bilafondla he was decorated with Shaurya Chakra. He served later as Chief of Staff 14 Corps and retired as DG Infantry. He is presently Consultant to OFB.The views are his personal He can be contacted at email@example.com)