Defence establishment calls for major revamp
By The New Indian Express
27th July 2012 12:39 AM
As India celebrates the 13th anniversary of Kargil War, won at a great cost of men and material after fierce battles in the world’s highest theatre in 1999, it is time to pause and take stock. The report of the Kargil Review Committee (KRC), submitted to the government on January 7, 2000, found that the armed forces were not only taken by surprise but were ill-prepared and ill-equipped. After recording ‘many grave deficiencies’ in India’s security management system, the KRC strongly felt that ‘the Kargil experience, the continuing proxy war and the prevailing nuclearised security environment justify a thorough review of the national security system in its entirety’ and recommended a slew of measures for immediate action. In its recent report, the task force headed by Naresh Chandra to review post-Kargil reforms, has found that many key recommendations of the KRC are still on paper.
The task force has, expectedly, commented on delays in procurement of essential arms and equipment — an issue that was recently raised by former Army Chief V K Singh in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. However, its harshest criticism refers to not giving men in arms their due in policy making. ‘The professional heads of the three services, charged with the command of the armed forces and responsible for national defence as well as conduct of war, have neither been accorded a status nor granted any powers in the edifice of the government”.
The trust deficit between military officers and bureaucrats that came to fore during recent controversies is not only detrimental to the morale of the armed forces but also to the security of the nation. The Indian security establishment needs an urgent and thorough revamp to ensure that professional soldiers and defence experts get their due role and respect. Meaningful reforms can come not from conservative bureaucrats but from exceptional political leadership. The impression that politicians are manipulated by bureaucrats and take little interest in the welfare of the armed forces must be dispelled.
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