Achieving Synergies in Defence

Vinod Anand, Senior Fellow, IDSA


In the last two decades of the twentieth century there have been profound changes which have altered our preception of the nature of future war and conflicts and the framework and mechanisms for its resolution. The industrial age wars are giving way to a new kind of war demonstrated during the Gulf War of 1991. Future wars will be dominated by information technologies and joint and integrated campaigns. The US Armed Forces have envisaged a joint vision for them entitled 'Joint Vision 2010' which contains such esoteric elements as Cyber Warfare and digitised battlefield. By 2010, Pentagon hopes to have developed "information superiority" to win battles and war by knowing enemy positions precisely, attacking them more quickly, and fighting more decisively. The new military doctrine emphasises on manoeuvre warfare as against attrition warfare of past. The stress would be on the paralysis of the enemy's command and control means and his warfighting machine rather than total destruction of the enemy. This would demand greater emphasis on combined and joint operations. Therefore, as our armed forces prepare to enter the next century we need to reflect on the past and search for portents for the future. Though the nature of war has undergone changes it still has constant determinants; fundamentals of war, principles of war and root causes of war and conflict have not changed. Rapid advances in technology have given birth to a revolution in military affairs. Thus, a changing international security environment along with other diverse factors have accentuated our security concerns and compel us to re-examine how the defence of realm should be conducted.

Rand Corporation Report of 1997 entitled "Stability in South Asia" has made a number of observations on the capability and functioning of our armed forces (these could be biased but the observations are quite revealing). There has been a lack of strategic thought and no serious military innovation or reforms. Excessive civilian control over military has encouraged reluctance on part of military to develop innovative operational solutions to strategic problems. Weak higher political-military decision making systems and institutions, paucity of authoritative civilian guidance and lack of opportunity for military leaders to communicate their requirements and concerns are some of the other impediments hindering development of armed forces as a modern machine. Indian Army lacks experience in theatre level joint operations and its organisational structure is not geared for large scale offensive. Indian Air Force makes strategic contribution by focussing predominantly on attaining air superiority and has not been able to translate strategic advantage to operational consequences. It does little to advance Army's battlefield objectives and has made only minimum investments in technologies and organisational structures required to make close air support operationally effective and useful. Indian Navy is incapable of the kind of land attack and power projection operations that could tie down significant portions of Pakistani military along the coast.1 Thus, in the wisdom of the Rand Report, Indian Navy is largely irrelevant strategically to an Indo-Pak conflict.

Notwithstanding the observations of the Rand Report there is no doubt that we need to carry out a comprehensive introspection and review of the organisational structures of the armed forces, military strategies and doctrines, our planning and management processes, force structures, training, equipping and logistical aspects. Two main components of national security are economic wherewithal and military potential. In the era of dwindling budgets it is mandatory to achieve 'value for money' invested in the armed forces. In the modern economies today, to achieve synergies in operations, the multi-national (MNC) and even domestic companies are resorting to mergers, acquisitions and integration to obtain best value for money invested. A live example is the MNC, Hindustan Lever which with its acquisitions and mergers has gained tremendous value for its investors. How do we achieve synergies in defence? Which are the areas which when addressed to can give us value for money invested? A number of defence analysts have made recommendations on revamp of our higher defence organisation and setting up of an effective National Security Council (NSC) free of bureaucratic meddling. The government has approved setting up of NSC on November 19, 1998. It is hoped that it carries out the much awaited strategic defence review at the earliest and gives direction to various organs of our security machine. In this article, emphasis would be confined to the areas of jointness and integration which the armed forces need to address to achieve synergised application of military power.

If we examine the principles of war, inter-service cooperation stands out as a time-tested principle. Unity of effort contributes towards an efficient end product which brings us closer to achieving our aim of value for money. The revolution in military affairs characterised by the Gulf war has highlighted the need for jointness in operations. The future battlefield with hi-tech weapons and support systems would lend itself to be best exploited by joint and integrated operations. Do we possess the required jointness and integration between the three Services at strategic, operational and tactical levels. Is it adequate to achieve synergies in operations?

Historical Perspective: Joint Planning And Operations

There is a broad understanding in the Services that no single service by itself can win a war. Army and Air Force have their own single service doctrines and Navy also has a doctrine in some form or the other. However, due to different perspectives and differing service legacies, they reflect the respective services' prejudices on strategy and tactics. These, at times, hinder the application of total force in a synergised manner. Concept of joint operations basically implies enunciation of ways and means to conduct a joint and integrated battle. This concept envisages the conduct of air land, air maritime and tri-service operations to achieve military and national security objectives. Even in US Armed Forces, historically, there had been strong impediments to effective joint military action. Prior to 1947, the separation of the three services was embodied in a cabinet structure with separate War and Navy departments. Some of the worst interservice wrangling in the US Armed Forces was witnessed after 1945 which was mainly due to pressure of declining budgets and a temporarily vanished threat.2 Some of the superb victories in World War II were shaped by joint operational artists like Dwight D. Eisenhower. The legacies of such Commanders enabled the US Armed Forces to retain the concept of Unified Commands. The establishment of Joint Chiefs of Staff further reinforced the integration and jointness in the US Armed Forces. The impact of these changes was evident in the Gulf War of 1991 which is seen as a fully articulated US joint campaign ever mounted since 1945.3

What has been the experiences of our armed forces in joint and integrated planning and operations since independence? There have been four wars since independence. A study of these wars indicates that though our strategic and geographical imperatives suggest a mutual and joint action of our services in any conflict, our experiences have been rather a mixed one. The first conflict with Pakistan in 1947-48 did not offer a scope for large scale joint operations. It was a limited war and the role of Air Force was restricted to transportation of troops and materials into Kashmir valley. The maintenance and transport support provided by Air Force was crucial, timely and efficient. IAF was instrumental in providing effective air defence over Srinagar, Leh and Poonch.

During Sino-Indian war of 1962, the Air Force was not used (except in supply and transport duties) when it would have been very profitable to use ground attack missions against the Chinese troops which lacked air cover. The reason for not calling the IAF has not been substantively elaborated upon in any of the official or unofficial versions of the war. However, this could have been an indication of lack of jointness in planning and conduct of war among the services. Indo-Pak war of 1965 was the first operation where all the three services took part. We were yet to learn to plan and conduct integrated land-air operations. A substantial part of air support was directed towards strategic and air defence tasks. There was a general belief in the Army that adequate effort for close support was not provided.

The Bangladesh campaign did exhibit certain amount of jointness and integration among the three services. Lt Gen. JFR Jacob writes in his book Surrender at Dacca that there is no suitable machinery for direction of war at the highest level. There is no effective Chiefs of Staff Organization, nor a Chief of Defence Staff.4 Air Chief Marshal PC Lal in his book My Years with IAF writes "As defined by the Chiefs of Staff and by each respective Service Chief, the objectives of 1971 war were to gain as much ground as possible in the East to neutralize Pakistani forces there to the extent we could and to establish a base as it were for a possible state in Bangladesh...It was feared that a delay of even two or three weeks would inevitably bring the UN Security Council and compel two sides to come to some sort of ceasefire such as Kashmir. With that basic understanding between the three Services, the Army, Navy and the Air Force, they were then left to plan their activities as they thought best." These remarks are indicative of lack of an agreed strategy or coordinated control of operations by the Chiefs of Staff. 1971 operations did teach us, especially in the Eastern theatre, the rewards of close cooperation between the Army, Navy and Air Force. Capture of Sylhet was facilitated by heliborne operations. Another heliborne operation across River Meghna, in the Rajpura-Narsingdi area, with the aim of causing disorganisation and panic in the enemy ranks, resulted in early capture of Dacca. It has to be emphasised that attainment of air-supremacy by the IAF contributed greatly to the conduct of heliborne operations which would have been almost impossible without it. Army, Naval and Air Force Commands in the East did execute their tasks competently but this should also be viewed in the context of the fact that the air and naval power available with East Pakistan was not worth much and reinforcements from the West were impossible due to the distances involved. Our defence forces have also operated together in peace support and peace keeping operations like Somalia and Sri Lanka, however, the opportunities for practicing jointness have not been exploited and their tasks have been confined to their respective services' classical roles.

National Security Objectives

Intention of the present government to set up a National Security Council would go a long way in defining our national security objectives and concerns. From our national aims and objectives our military aims and objectives would be derived. Broadly, our national aim would be to establish a unified, strong, economically vibrant and democratic India capable of meeting internal and external threats, occupying a prominent status in South Asia and performing an honoured and meaningful role in the world. Even though war is no longer the best option, the role of armed forces would be to deter waging of war by our adversaries against us. Other military aims would be to preserve territorial integrity, promote a secure internal environment and effectively contribute towards regional and international peace and stability. Our armed forces have to function as an interdependent team of land, sea and air forces requiring application of closely integrated efforts to accomplish national military objectives. The areas of integration in the armed forces could be in the realm of doctrines, intelligence, planning process and operations, training, and logistics. At the time of allocation of defence budget each service strives to get the maximum slice of the budgetary cake for itself. Even after fifty years of independence, have the Services jointly carried out an indepth examination of whether a regiment of tanks or a flight of aircraft for the Air Force or a particular type of ship for the Navy or a certain type of weapon system would help us achieve our national military objectives better? The answer to this can easily be perceived to be in the negative.

Arun Singh Committee

In 1990, a committee was set up under the chairmanship of Mr. Arun Singh, the then Rajya Raksha Mantri (RRM). The Committee had members from all the three Services and the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It submitted its report in December 1990 which dealt with organisation and structures for decision making, planning, management and financial control, acquisition and purchase for defence services, management of equipment, logistics and support and finally defence manpower and related issues. Some of the important recommendations were on structures of defence decision making i.e. reactivation of Defence Ministers Committee (which the present Defence Minister has reactivated), creation of an organisation of Joint Chiefs of Staff, (JCS) integration of Service HQS with MOD and revenue budget management be the responsibility of respective Services Chiefs of Staff (A new fiscal management strategy has been introduced in September 1998, which has some features and elements based on recommendations of Arun Singh Committee).5 The conclusive recommendations were a result of personal rapport between the three Chiefs at that time.

Of Mergers And Integration

While addressing a combined Armed Forces Commanders' Conference on October 26, 1998, Defence Minister George Fernandes stressed on the need for systemic changes rather than tinkering with the existing system. He also called for a strategic defence review and reforms in the armed forces. He highlighted the need for "transcending single-service boundaries" and said that "the fighting capabilities of the future will involve use of assets of the three Services under integrated direction and commands."6 These aspects refer to proposals of integration of Service HQS and MOD, creation of a permanent Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and integrated "theatre" commands. While proposal of integration of Service HQ with MOD has broad acceptance among defence analysts and strategic community, the prime resistance to it is from civilian bureaucracy. It is well known that, so far, our political establishment has shown indifference to the decision making structures which is compounded by a lack of understanding of defence and security matters by the civil services. India is an exception among democracies in that defence services HQ is not treated as an integral part of the government, and Service Chiefs are not the primary professional advisers to the Defence Minister. Merger of Service HQ and MOD would streamline the decision making processes and cut down unnecessary duplication.

One Bad General In Command Is Better Than Three Good Ones

According to former Army Chief, General VN Sharma, there has to be a permanent JCS, in addition to the existing Chiefs.7 Air Marshal BD Jayal in his book Of Mandarins and Martyrs, while highlighting that Service Chiefs generally operate on individualistic lines rather than jointly, with each having his own perception, has recommended a Chief of Defence Staff.8 Former Air Chief, Air Chief Marshal NC Suri, on the contrary argues "I am all for the three Services to be mutually supportive. But I am not for integration as the present system has been a successful one."9 A Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) or a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is needed to provide a single point advice on defence matters concerning military threat perceptions, strategies, force levels, equipment and manpower policies. He would also issue joint military operational, training and logistics directives and policies. In case a theatre command system is evolved, he would exercise command and control over them. The Chiefs of respective Services would continue to provide advice to CDS/JCS in respect of their service.

Joint Military Commands

The concept of integrated theatre command is basically a western concept based on the pattern prevailing in the United States. Its implementation needs detailed and critical examination. The US is a global power with power projection capabilities and its security concerns and contingencies lie outside its immediate land or sea boundaries. This concept has also been recommended by some defence analysts (which includes a number of air force officers),10 yet this should be viewed in the context of our requirements. General VN Sharma, former Army Chief, while being critical of idea of integrated theatre command says "I also see operational problems. I do not understand what role the Navy will play if there is an integrated theatre command in Kashmir."11 This concept, perhaps, is best suited for isolated and out of area contingencies and when the resources available (especially, in terms of air force and naval assets) are more than adequate. In our case, the limited air assets available and the flexibility of air force's long range power can be best exploited by using them centrally rather than frittering away air resources and dividing them between theatre commands. Centralisation would result in economy of effort and decentralisation would militate against this principle. The synergies in operation can be best achieved by imparting impetus to the present joint structures at Army and Air Force Command levels and below. The co-location of Army and Air Force Command Headquarters would promote closer interaction,joint planning and conduct of operations. The joint theatre command concept, perhaps, can be practiced at a time when our economy takes off, say by 2020 (as projected in a World Bank Report of 1997) and becomes the fourth largest economy and thus is able to sustain a larger force structure.

However, the concept of integrated command can at present be applied in a number of areas. Andaman and Nicobar islands are isolated from mainland and our security concerns are largely well understood in the three Services. Fortress Andaman & Nicobar (FORTAN) is a tri-service organisation headed by a naval Commander with components of Navy, Army and Air Force. Command over the air component is exercised through the respective Air Force Command headquarters. Defence Minister has spoken of upgrading this to an equivalent of a Command. If this is done then it would be a first step towards promotion of the concept of a joint theatre command. The other areas where this concept can be exploited at present is in the creation of a Strategic Command for command and control of nuclear weapons. To start with, the delivery means for nuclear weapons are likely to be aircraft and surface to surface missiles, which may later on include submarine launched nuclear capable missiles. The warheads or components of warheads may themselves be kept under different agencies, perhaps civilian, to be assembled when authorised to do so by the supreme political authority. All this would require elaborate command, control communication and surveillance network. A joint organisation in the shape of a Joint Strategic Command with components from all services and involved civilian agencies would positively achieve synergies of operation.12

Indian Navy's 'Strategic Defense Review' points to centrality of communication satellites and a modern command and control system. Satellites surmount line of sight limitations and extend the range of voice and data transmissions crucial to a fast and responsive command and control system. Surveillance satellites provide vital inputs to be acted upon by a number of agencies including surface and aerial weapon platforms. Army has also expressed the need for development of military satellites for communications surveillance and navigation. On October 8, 1998, the Chief of Air Staff mentioned the development of an aerospace force. This again points towards the development and use of space based assets. We have the wherewithal in satellite technology and need to expedite the development of military satellites, which will have a tremendous force multiplier effect for our armed forces. The moot point is whether space based sensors, which will be exploited by all the three services and perhaps a number of civil agencies, need to be organised under a joint structure. Dramatic developments taking place in fields of technology, the ongoing revolution in military affairs and onset of information age, knowledge based warfare dictate to us the need for establishing a joint organisation to exploit likely scarce space based assets to achieve economy and unity of effort and to facilitate synergies in operations.

In Defence of Joint Planning

Mr. Arun Singh could also be credited with getting the three Chiefs together over formulation of Defence Planning Staff (DPS). Till 1986, the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) did not have a dedicated staff to carry out strategic perspective planning and futuristic joint planning to meet security challenges. DPS consisted of officers drawn from three services, Ministry of External Affairs, MOD and Defence Finance DRDO and other departments of government. DPS was to carry out threat analysis, evolve military aims, conceive and recommend balanced force levels, coordinate perspective planning for 15 to 20 years and interact closely with research and development, defence production, industry and finance. It was also to carry out joint training and joint logistics management. In fact, it was an ideal organisation, which a protagonist of jointmanship in the armed forces could have asked for. It was only the then Chiefs and Arun Singh who were dedicated to its evolution; others, especially the bureaucrats, viewed it with suspicion. There was also a wrangling between MOD and COSC over its control. Some members of DPS could not disown their single service identities. After the retirement of the three Chiefs and resignation of Mr. Arun Singh, its importance started declining due to inter-service rivalry and misgivings. However, it did contribute significantly by producing a joint defence perspective plan 1985-2000 and it was also the first time that both Army and Air Force agreed to reduce their share of budget in order to raise the naval and R&D budget.13 The role of DPS continued to diminish in post-Arun Singh period. Every Service has now its own perspective planning and financial planning cells. DPS's original role has become restricted to compiling of service plans and preparing routine papers. If synergies in defence are to be achieved the revival of DPS with a meaningful role is of paramount importance. Integration, tri-service cooperation and concepts of joint planning process can be better achieved through organisations like DPS and JCS. We have to look beyond single service priorities and enhance the value of money and effort for achieving joint military and national objectives.

Joint Doctrine: Army-Air Force Interface

Both Air Force and Army doctrines recognise that synergies are to be gained by joint application of air and land power. However, airmen and soldiers have distinctively different perspectives on how to conduct war. Although, each service accepts the need for joint and complementary operations, each tends to see his medium as being of primary importance. Air doctrine tends to emphasise the strategic role of Air Force: importance of counter air operations (CAO) over offensive air support (OAS) and greater desirability of battle air-interdiction as compared to close air support (CAS). Even in the US Armed Forces, their air doctrine tends to emphasise the wide-ranging flexibility of power deliverable from aircraft as the key ingredient in war, while land warfare doctrine usually assumes the ultimate need to exert some degree of control over the ground and tends to see air power as a useful, and at times even necessary, supporting force in the performance of this ultimate mission.14 In the Indian sub-continental context all wars would need to be joint land-air operations and in certain theatres it will include the Navy also. Though the Gulf War of 1991 did encourage the concept of pre-dominance of the air power but applying the same template in the Indo-Pak context may need a critical examination in view of lack of any significant technological advantages and the presence of nuclear weapons with our potential adversaries. It would rather be a joint inter-services endeavour where the air and surface forces would be co-equals and interdependent.

Counter air operations contribute greatly to control of air and they have to be undertaken in a selective and coordinated manner with overall strategic objectives in mind. CAO and major offensive operations on land must be coordinated both at service headquarter levels and at the levels of command headquarters. Offensive air support operations are an important ingredient of air-land battle. The distribution of air effort between CAO and OAS would need to be jointly planned based on visualised operational scenarios and situations. Battlefield air interdiction and surface operations have to be planned and executed in a manner that they complement and reinforce each other. Interdiction is an extremely effective means of immobilising or destroying of the enemy forces and greatly contributes to furtherance of operations of surface forces. Although close air support is considered the least efficient application of air power, at times it may be the most critical in ensuring the success of survival of surface forces (Indian Air Force support for Battle of Longewala in 1971 will reinforce this point.) Close air support should be used to create opportunities since it can be most effective at decisive points of the battlefield. Close air support has to be planned and controlled to reduce the risks of friendly casualties. Acquisition of precision guided munitions and stand off capabilities would help reduce casualties to own aircrafts. Therefore, evolution of a joint doctrine is predicated in order to gain synergies of operations between air and surface forces.

Intelligent Moves

The present intelligence system in the defence services with each Service having its own intelligence directorate inhibits the exploitation of all available resources optimally. It suffers from the absence of coordinated tasking of intelligence resources. At times, there is a duplication of effort with each Service doing its own country and area studies and analysis. There is an impediment to flow of information and analysed data between the defence and civil agencies due to attitudinal barriers, information hoarding, insufficient knowledge of the functioning of other intelligence organisations, procedural delays and obsolescent methods of exchanging information. In the absence of a National Security Strategy each Service has its own perception of threats and opportunities. This results in lack of centralised prioritisation and rationalisation of intelligence thrust areas and action plans. There is a perception, however, that some amount of integration has already been achieved in the form of obtaining joint signal intelligence and satellite imagery. There are also regular interactions between the three Services where information is exchanged. It is also propounded that a computer-based data sharing system, without physically co-locating the elements of three Services, would perhaps be adequate. There is also a lurking suspicion that in a joint organisation the needs of a specific Service may get a lower priority.

The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) is the only central forum where all components of national intelligence organisations interact. The JIC functions directly under the Cabinet Secretary and prepares, based on external and internal intelligence inputs, status papers and strategic appreciations. These appreciations are important inputs for outlining the national defence policy by the COSC for the purpose of joint intelligence planning. However, translation of national defence policy into joint military strategy and operational plans demands availability of strategic and tactical intelligence of a detailed nature. This need calls for a joint services intelligence effort in collection, correlation and processing of strategic and tactical intelligence for the purpose of planning joint operations.

Recently, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee evolved an elaborate defensive strategy, including the revival of proposal for an omnibus Defence Intelligence Agency to guard against pre-emptive enemy strikes.15 This agency was originally envisioned to overcome the near total absence of 'actionable-intelligence', the problem was highlighted by the US missile strikes against Afghanistan. Moving towards formation of a Defence Intelligence Agency and evolving a joint strategy to meet envisaged threats are welcome steps towards achieving unity of purpose and jointness in defence effort.

Communication Gaps

The future war will seek to exploit information technology and an integrated reconnaissance, surveillance and C4 I2 (Command, Control, communications, computers,intelligence and interoperability) system would be a key battle-winning factor. The air-land battle environment would increase the tempo of operations and the non-linear nature of battlefield with extended depths and simultaneity would lend itself to be best exploited by acquiring long range surveillance and target acquisition capabilities and real time information. There is a need for survivable, secure and alternate means of communications, smooth flow of data and information, effective networking and inter-service integration, automation and interoperability. Different Services have multifarious systems with lack of commonality. There is a need to interface our communication systems and make these joint. An integrated systems approach to the total electronic spectrum utilisation as well as optimal utilisation of a common electronic communication infrastructure would promote synergy in operations. It is well known that China has developed a Defence Communication Network, based on the philosophy of 'Information Super Highway' on optic fibre cable and satellite communications. The Pakistan Defence Communication System is a fully secured digital system which enables integrated communications between Pakistan Army, Air Force and Navy.16

In our Services we not only have digital and analog systems in use over a variety of media and communication networks but a majority of them are not interoperable. The present system is not best suited for establishing a common Command Information and Decision Support System (CIDSS). Tropo-scatter Communications have become obsolescent. Plan AREN (Army Radio Engineering Network) and ASCON (Army Static Communication Network) are at divergence with Air Defence Ground Environment System (ADGES) of the Air Force. There is a multiple non-centralised control leading to low cost benefits. In the nuclear environment, it is the optical fibre which would provide secure survivable communications. The DOT (Department of Telecommunications) is planning to cover maximum locations in the country with optical fibre network. A tri-service organisation is necessary to plan integrated defence communication requirements in a coordinated manner to achieve value for money. A central Defence Electronics and Communication Agency would not only evolve an action plan for integrated working, but also act as a prime contractual agency for development of defence communication systems and some of the strategic C4I2 systems.17 A number of existing committees on communication matters would need to be either abolished or reconstituted and their charter redefined in a task oriented manner.

Logistics Infrastructure Bonding

All future operations are likely to be joint operations rather than a single service operation. Logistics support for a future war would not only require a joint services effort but it would also require the effort of entire nation in terms of industrial back up, research and development, material support,infrastructure and manpower. The Joint Administrative Planning Committee (JAPC) under COSC is tasked with preparation of a joint administrative plan to supplement the operational plan produced by the JPC, for any future operation involving two or more Services. The secretarial support is provided by Military Wing of MOD, which is inadequate. In the present context, however, each Service is planning for their respective Service requirement in isolation without concerted action of a joint approach. Some of the logistical functions, which are static in nature and do not really affect combat efficiency, have already been integrated. The medical services, postal services, MES works, Embarkation headquarters, Defence Lands and Cantonments Organization and Canteen Stores Department are providing support to all the three Services. The Navy and the Air Force are also dependent on the Army for common use items such as armaments, ammunition, vehicles, general stores and clothing. These arrangements have resulted in economy of effort and unity of purpose. Yet, there are a number of areas in the present logistic support system, which are open to integration and jointness to achieve synergies in operations.

All new acquisitions of weapon systems and equipment need to be processed jointly by the services by evolving joint qualitative requirements. Such a process will lead to optimisation in terms of budgetary support as well as R&D effort which would influence 'make or buy' decisions. It would also ensure inter-operability and commonality of systems and lead to easy integration. In the case of development of ALH (Advanced Light Helicopter), evolving of a joint services qualitative requirement would have helped the R&D and avoided debilitating delays. This concept can also be applied to development of radar systems, missile systems and electronic warfare systems. The Services are using a large variety of equipment being sourced from multiple agencies,both domestic and foreign. A system approach to logistic support design would help in controlling inventories through standardisation and codification, especially of items of common use in the three Services. Jointness in equipment management will result in cost benefits. The introduction of different versions of the same air defence guided missile system with little change in technical specifications dictates to us that the design, development, production and in-service management should be undertaken jointly to avoid duplication of effort. Prithvi missiles can also be included in this category of common weapon systems. Exploiting the power of IT jointly for logistics management concepts, techniques and procedures would also assist us in vastly improving our capabilities essential for successful conduct of joint operations.

Arun Singh Committee is believed to have recommended setting up a Defence Logistics Support Agency. An agency like this at the highest level would formulate a logistics doctrine, oversee activities of various committees and coordinate mobilisation of national defence and industrial resources. At the level of Chiefs of Staff or COSC (at present) a joint logistics staff (instead of the JPAC at present) with specific logistic functions needs to be organised. A joint defence systems organisation based on restructured and integrated operational logistic directorates of the three services could be the ideal agency to coordinate and carry out functions to achieve commonality and standardisation in the equipment of the armed forces. After considering requirements of each Service it could evolve a joint services qualitative requirement and could also look after project formation, management and monitoring, trials and R&D guidance. There is also a need to examine achievement of jointness on theatre area basis. In certain geographical areas there would be requirement of a tri-service effort whereas in most of the theatres it would be a two-service effort. Joint logistics infrastructure on an area basis duly integrated would be a force multiplier. Tailor made logistic organisation for executing jointly planned operation would cut down flab and promote efficiency. Our armed forces have been taking part in UN peacekeeping activities. Our contingent in Somalia did involve a tri-service logistic effort. However, we have no organisation for provision and coordination of such support to our future UN contingents. Therefore, a revamp of our logistic organisations at various levels is needed to meet the requirements of a future war and to achieve economy.

Training of Minds

Joint Training Committee (JTC) looks after the aspects of joint training in the three services. However, its functions and tasks are usually biased towards existing inter-service training institutions and courses. Each service has its own training year and no joint directive for training is issued. The operational level jointness in training is achieved during training exercises held by respective services commands. At times, attitudinal issues prevent the participation of troops from one service in the exercise of other. Indian Air Force recently conducted a major annual exercise comparable in size to the entire effort of the 1971 war. Code-named "Trishul" it was mainly launched to test war plans. While air defence and strike roles were practiced intensively, the manoeuvres could not pay equal attention to the IAF's air support role to ground troops. "Since the Army was not involved, close support for moving tanks and mechanised columns could not be carried out as a thrust area."18 Nevertheless, MI-35 tank busting helicopters participated in the exercise and attacked targets in the Tactical Battle Area with assets rigged up from the resources available within the IAF. This only reveals that a priceless opportunity was lost for practicing joint training, perhaps, due to lack of coordination between the two services. On the other hand, a tri-service exercise "Tri Amph-98" and a joint Army-Air force exercise was carried out in October-November last year which indicates understanding in the services that joint training is an important ingredient for winning a war in the future battlefield milieu.


Whether integration of MOD and Services Headquarters comes into being or not, yet there is an adequate scope for development of joint integrated structures and a common ethos under the aegis of COSC. Though creation of a JCS or CDS would institutionalise the integration of three Services under a common head, as being done in Western democracies such as USA, UK and France, yet the present structure of COSC should not inhibit development of jointness and integration at Service Headquarters level and below. The revolution in military affairs and nature of war impinges upon us the need to fight as an integrated whole. The ultimate objective of the three Services is same; that is, defence of the nation, and joint warfare is indispensable to that defence. The three Services, reinforce and complement each other and it is upto the services to capitalise on this synergistic value and evolve a war winning machine to achieve the desired objectives. The evolution of joint doctrine, military strategy and plans would contribute towards unity of purpose. A common defence intelligence agency would remedy a number of maladies of our present intelligence systems. Success in war would also depend upon a joint approach towards integration of our reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, electronic warfare and C4I2 systems. Streamlining our defence logistics and evolution of joint structures would help us economise and achieve efficiencies in operation. The incidence of attitudinal divergence among the services to a considerable extent, can be reduced by frequent dialogue and joint training of officers and other personnel. It would be apt to conclude with a quote of Victor Hugo "There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come."


1. Ashley Tellis, "Stability in South Asia," Rand Corporation Report 1997.

2. Colonel Peter F. Herrly, US Army, "Joint Warfare", Military Review, February 1992.

3. Ibid. p. 12.

4. Lt Gen JFR Jacob, Surrender at Dacca, (New Delhi, Manohar Publishers) pp. 160-161.

5. Hindustan Times, September 14, 1998.

6. Times of India, October 26, 1998.

7. Times of India, October 27, 1998.

8. For a detailed discussion on the concept of Chief of Defence Staff, see Air Marshal B.D. Jayal's article "Higher Defence Organisation in India: Need For A Change." Indian Defence Review, Vol. 13(1), Jan-March 1998, pp. 26-27.

9. n.7.

10. n. 8, Air Marshal Jayal argues in favour of creating joint operational bi-service and tri-service commands. He recommends creation of Northern, Central, Eastern and Western Commands as joint Army-Air Force Commands and South-Western and Southern Commands as joint Army-Navy-Air Force Commands. Air Commodore Raghu Rajan in "Command And Staff Challenges To The Indian Air Force in the 21st Century" Trishul, Vol. IX, no. 2, Spring 1998, p. 89, also stresses the need for joint theatre commands.

11. n. 7.

12. Kapil Kak, "Command And Control of Small Nuclear Arsenals" in Jasjit Singh ed., Nuclear India, (New Delhi: Knowledge World, July 1998) has recommended a Strategic Nuclear Command purely based on existing Air Force Command infrastructure while Air Marshal Jayal in "Higher Defence Organisation in India: Strategic Dimension," Indian Defence Review, April-June 1998, Vol. 13 (2) pp 37-38 argues in favour of a joint command with Air Force and Naval assets along with a sprinkling of army and civilian elements.

13. Major General Ashok Mehta, AVSM (Retd), "An Emasculated Defence Planning Staff," Indian Defence Review, Jan-March, 1996, pp. 36-37.

14. Lt Col Price T. Bingham, "Air Force Doctrine," Military Review, November 1992, pp. 18-19. Also see Harold R. Winten on the same subject in the same issue, pp. 28-31.

15. Hindustan Times, September 8, 1998.

16. College of Defence Management, Secunderabad, 1996 Study on "Integration of the Three Services to Achieve Synergy In Operations," pp. 80-86.

17. Ibid. Similar views have been expressed in the CDM Study.

18. Hindu, April 7, 1998.