Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wanted – Chief of Defense Staff for India

Neelam Mathews
April 1, 2015

No it is not an April Fools Day joke. India needs a CDS and fast.

Alongwith the change in the new government that has promised a lot and not as yet delivered fully, let’s face facts. Cash isn’t exactly flowing from the tap. We need efficiencies in our system that come from commonality.

Why not take a leaf out of Spain’s experience that has a CDS for four decades whose duties have evolved with changing times. Today, after drawing out a plan that includes threat perceptions for the next decade, a plan is charted out by the services that discuss equipment procurement, and commonality. Procurement is given to one supplier getting the country the best deal from economies of scale. Maintenance, whether it be weapons, too is shared. This gets me wondering about our petty issues that reminds one of two boys squabbling on who will fly the Apache. “Me!!! says the IAF…No Me, says the Army.” In retrospect, how insular can we be. Is this really in the interest of the country, one wonders. Security is the nation’s prerogative, not that of a service nor individuals that may have ego issues.

Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar is clear a CDS needs to be in place. “Give me time,” he said. Unfortunately, Mr Parrikar, we’re running out of it given our defense procurement process isn’t exactly sprinting. Everything in India as we know, moves at its own pace. To  get our military modernized and fast, by the looks of it, this is the way to go. Commonality is the answer. It might not suit some OEMs and suit others, but India’s interests are supreme. Even if this requires reengineering of our thinking. 
An official in MoD told AerospaceDiary the Spanish CDS was seeking a meeting with his counterpart in India. Maybe he should start with meeting the defense minister and sharing his thoughts with him. Ofcourse, every country has its own requirements, but it’s a start.

It is time for a change in mentality of bureaucrats and military heads. The change has to come from within…..Or is that asking for too much? 

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