War Cannot be Fought with Obsolete Hardware - The New Indian Express

War Cannot be Fought with Obsolete Hardware

Published: 01st March 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 01st March 2014 01:15 AM

The resignation of the Navy chief over the series of accidents culminating in the explosion in the submarine, INS Sindhuratna, should not lead to side-stepping of the real issues facing our armed forces. The latest accident underscores, among others, the Navy’s poor submarine rescue capabilities. It is the result of neglect of safety in its operations. At the root of the problem is the government’s failure to understand the needs of the forces and provide them the required support in terms of equipment and facilities for training. The Navy is not the only force suffering from prolonged neglect. For instance, the Indian Air Force has only 34 squadrons against the required 50 to fight a two-front war, a benchmark set by defence minister A K Antony himself.

What’s worse, six squadrons of ageing MiG-21s and two of MiG-27s are likely to be phased out in 2018. They need replacements which are, alas, not in sight. Similarly, the Army needs howitzers, anti-aircraft missiles, infantry combat vehicles and even assault weapons. The less said about the Army’s plans to increase the number of its armoured vehicles the better it would be. The indigenous Arjun as its main battle tank is yet to become a reality. The number of anti-tank missiles in the Army’s possession is only half of the required number.

The situation is the result of the defence ministry cancelling the purchase orders which had evoked corruption charges. It is also a pointer to the government’s inability to root out corruption. However, these explanations will not satisfy the three forces which need equipment to fight wars. That the spending on Chinese defence preparedness has been spiralling is not a figment of imagination. It is a reality from which India cannot run away. The security environment around India has not been all that confidence-inspiring. There is a saying that war cannot be fought on empty stomachs. Nor can it be fought without adequate equipment and supplies. It is time the government realised this as, else, conscientious officers will be forced to quit following avoidable accidents.

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