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Modi 3.0 takes aim: Blueprint to make the Indian armed forces future ready

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India’s defence establishment views an increasingly assertive China, in collaboration with Pakistan, as a major security challenge. Experts emphasize the need for India to enhance both its nuclear and conventional military capabilities, all while adhering to budgetary constraints.The new government should bite the bullet on several fronts to ensure India’s nuclear deterrence capabilities as well as conventional war-fighting machinery can meet this challenge with an integrated future-ready military within budgetary constraints in the years ahead, several experts and officials told TOI.

Strategic and Military Reforms Needed
To effectively counter these threats, India must accelerate the implementation of tri-Service theatre commands and develop a comprehensive national security strategy. Key steps include investing more in R&D, overhauling the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and fostering greater collaboration with the private sector.

Strengthening Nuclear Deterrence
India requires a stronger nuclear triad, which includes the ability to launch nuclear weapons from land, air, and sea. Increasing the number of ballistic missiles like the Agni-5 and enhancing the submarine fleet with nuclear-powered vessels armed with long-range nuclear missiles are crucial.

Concurrently, the government should also kick off the long-pending projects to build six nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) and a third aircraft carrier since they will take over a decade to roll out. “It cannot be an either-or debate,” a top officer said in a TOI report.The political leadership must also “own and push” the three proposed theatre commands, two for the land borders with China and Pakistan, and a maritime one for the Indian Ocean region. “Genuine integration among the Army, Navy and IAF, instead of piecemeal steps, is indispensable,” said an official.Also Read: China ready to improve bilateral ties with India and work on border dispute

Advanced Military Capabilities Development

Projects to build six nuclear-powered attack submarines and a third aircraft carrier must begin promptly. A senior official stated, “It cannot be an either-or debate.” Additionally, the government must support the proposed theatre commands for the land borders with China and Pakistan, as well as a maritime command for the Indian Ocean region.

Modernizing Military Technology
Building capabilities in space, cyberspace, and other advanced technologies is essential. The proposed Integrated Rocket Force should be a priority to improve long-range precision-strike capabilities, as demonstrated by the operational utility seen in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Boosting Indigenous Defence Production
Despite the strides made under the ‘Make in India’ policy, India still needs to manufacture advanced military equipment independently. A new defence production policy is required to develop advanced weapon systems and reduce reliance on foreign imports.

“The ‘strategic partnership (SP)’ policy, for one, needs to be scrapped,” a senior official said in the TOI report. Not a single project has till now taken off under the floundering SP policy, which was promulgated in May 2017 to boost indigenous production through tie-ups with foreign armament majors.

Connected to all this is also the major structural revamp of DRDO proposed by the Prof K VijayRaghavan-led expert committee. “DRDO should only concentrate on fundamental and applied R&D, leaving systems integration and product management to other agencies and the private sector,” he added.

DRDO Reforms and Private Sector Involvement
A major structural revamp of DRDO is necessary. The Prof. K VijayRaghavan-led expert committee suggests that “DRDO should only concentrate on fundamental and applied R&D, leaving systems integration and product management to other agencies and the private sector.”

Adjusting Military Recruitment Policies
Modifications to the Agnipath scheme are also needed, particularly increasing the retention of Agniveers to around 50% after their four-year service period, up from the current 25%.

Defence Export Promotion and Key Deals
The Defence Ministry plans to establish a new export promotion body and a fund to assist friendly countries in purchasing Indian arms. Under the Make in India initiative, important defence deals, such as acquiring additional K9 Vajra artillery guns and engines for fighter jets, are advancing. Final negotiations for acquiring Rafale M fighter jets for the Navy will occur soon.

New Criminal Laws and Internal Security
The Ministry of Home Affairs aims to implement new criminal laws starting July 1. Additionally, conducting assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir by the Supreme Court’s deadline of September 30 and resolving the ethnic conflict in Manipur are high on the agenda.

Key Military Appointments
The Centre has appointed Lt. General Upendra Dwivedi as the next Chief of the Army Staff with effect from the afternoon of June 30. Dwivedi is presently serving as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff.

The present Chief of the Army Staff, General Manoj C Pande, demits office on June 30.

Prime Minister’s Global Engagements
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in several major summits, including the G7, SCO, and BRICS. Efforts to expedite trade agreements with the EU, UK, and South American countries, as well as a concluded trade pact with Oman, are underway to bolster strategic autonomy.

New Diplomatic Appointments
India will appoint new envoys to the US, France, and the UN. A new Foreign Secretary is expected by October, with several other ambassadorial postings also planned.

Decisions on Cabinet and Bureau Leadership
The government will decide on the continuance of key officials, including Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla. The term of Intelligence Bureau Chief Tapan Deka ends on June 30, necessitating a decision on his future role.

The new government, of course, is expected to fast-track the $3.9 billion acquisition of 31 armed MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones from the US and the $6 billion one for 26 Rafale-M fighters from France, as also the projects to manufacture three additional French Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Docks and the American GE-414 jet engines by Hindustan Aeronautics.

(With inputs from TOI)

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