Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Defence Preparedness : Who Is Responsible?

If one has read the CAG’s report on the state of Ammunition that was reported in all dailies on 9 May 2015, the alarm bells would ring.  The report mentions that the Armed Forces have ammunition just for 20 days of intense war.  125 of the 170 types of ammunition is below the ‘minimum acceptable risk levels’  and 50% of the total types of ammunition; the holding was critical and  insufficient even for 10 days battle.  Which war the CAG has in his mind?
The country needs to equip for a two front war against China and Pakistan and the CAG needs to be more specific about his observations so that the Prime Minister has a correct picture on the state of our defence preparedness.
A two front war against both China and Pakistan; or a single front war against China or Pakistan? What about the trouble likely to be caused by foreign aided terrorists,  who will certainly fish in troubled waters? The country needs to equip for a two front war against China and Pakistan and the CAG needs to be more specific about his observations so that the Prime Minister has a correct picture on the state of our defence preparedness.
Such perpetual shortage has always been a bane on our war preparedness and no one seems to be much concerned about this serious security lapse?  Now let us look at the Constitution of India to pin point; who is responsible for this sordid state of affairs?
The Supreme Commander of Indian Armed Forces is the President of India.  However other than being the holder of this onerous position the constitution does not assign him any specific role. The President can always ask for accountability for the dismal state, should he perceive himself to be even symbolic head of the armed forces.  As the President does not feel obliged the mantle should then fall on the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) – the supreme security policy making body of the Government.  The CCS comprises of the PM, RM, Minster for External Affairs, Finance Minister and Home Minister.
Please note the three service chiefs are not members of CCS.  Thus the CCS is not privy to professional advice on Military matters institutionally.  Now let us delve further into our constitutional provisions to hold some one accountable for the security lapses
...the three service chiefs are not members of CCS.  Thus the CCS is not privy to professional advice on Military matters institutionally.
First Schedule of Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 (Clause 3 of Art 77 of Constitution of India) states that the Business of Government of India would be conducted by the Departments mentioned in the First Schedule.  Please note none of the Service Headquarters are Departments of The Ministry of Defence and all the Departments of the Ministry of Defence are headed by secretaries who are bureaucrats.  Hence the three service chiefs and the three service headquarters are not authorised to conduct the business of the Government of India.  It has to be done through the Departments i.e. Secretaries (Babus) who are responsible to the Raksha Mantri and head the Department of Defence, Department of Defence Production, Department of Defence Research and Development  and  Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare.
The Second Schedule states the distribution of subjects among the Departments. Now let us look at the Department of Defence. The Department of Defence that is directly under the Defence Secretary is responsible for “Defence of India and every part thereof including preparation for defence and all such acts as may be conducive in times of war to its prosecution and after its termination to effective demobilisation”.  Hence the Defence Secretary, is responsible for the Defence of the Country.  It means that he is responsible to keep manpower, equipment, ammunition, conduct of operations and prosecution of war including demobilisation after the war.
Pray please tell me: My Dear Prime Minister and Defence Minister, as to why are you not holding him accountable for the miserable state of ammunition and equipment state in the Armed Forces? What action the PM or RM have taken in the past 67 years of the country’s existence against the Defence Secretary?
The submarine fleet is on life support system and the IAF has the dubious distinction of having the same aircraft in the museum and on the runway.  Who is responsible for this? Whom has the PM or RM held accountable for this grave anti national act of omission or commission?
In 1962 after the humiliating defeat of the country our great civilisation was brought down to our knees by a hostile neighbour.  Now let us look what happened to whom all?  Let us start from the top : Prime Minister Nehru was so humiliated that he lost his stature and lost his will to live and died in next year and half.  The RM, the Army Chief and the Corps Commander resigned.  The Defence Secretary was Mr Pula Reddy who had been the defence secretary for the last four years and master minded the defeat to the nation and constitutionally responsible for the defence of the country went on a routine posting a month after RM resigned.
Gen VK Singh out of sheer disgust wrote a letter to the PM in Mar 2012 regarding cavernous  hollowness in the Indian Army.  The Air force was and is nearly 33% depleted and a riot of accidents in Indian Navy has shown to the world its poor state.  The submarine fleet is on life support system and the IAF has the dubious distinction of having the same aircraft in the museum and on the runway.  Who is responsible for this? Whom has the PM or RM held accountable for this grave anti national act of omission or commission?
Now let us look at the last three defence secretaries who are solely responsible for this disastrous state of our armed forces?  Mr Pradeep Kumar after retirement was appointed as the CVC for masterminding the hollowness in the Armed Forces.  Mr Shashi Kant Sharma ironically is the CAG who is finding fault on himself in his new avatar.   Look at the irony of  our system as to how we reward bureaucrats with higher constitutional appointments for carving out hollowness in the Armed Forces and aiding our adversaries; amounting to treachery? The present Defence Secretary has been in the MOD for ages at different levels is probably already looking forward for one of the higher appointments after his retirement.
The life goes on in the MOD, in the same nonchalance pace as they have the authority without accountability and the Service Chiefs who have the responsibility without authority as told to the press by Admiral DK Joshi, who took moral responsibility for the accidents in the Indian Navy and put up his papers.  The public should not fail to appreciate the MOD under Anthony and the Defence Secretary who worked at lightning speed to get his papers through and send him home.  The legal machinery that worked for Salman Khan’s bail application however quick,  can take a page or two from the MOD.

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