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Roundtable Discussion on Building a Viable Defense viz. China: An Analysis of India’s Integrated The

Image Courtesy: Swarajya

The Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S) and National Maritime Foundation – Tamil Nadu (NMF – TN) organized a Roundtable Discussion led by Mr. Tanvir Jaikishen, Consultant and Entrepreneur; Member, C3S, on ‘Building a Viable Defense viz. China: An analysis of the Integrated Theatre Command’. The event was held at C3S on September 25 2019 and was moderated by Col. R. Hariharan VSM (Retd.); Retired Officer of Intelligence Corps, Government of India; Member, C3S.

The lecture was based on a C3S Issue Map written by Mr. Tanvir Jaikishen, which attempted to understand the structure of military command in India, while comparing the People’s Liberation Army, PRC, and the Indian Armed Forces. It signified the importance of Independent Theatre Commands in an Indian Context viz. China.

The speaker viewed that a major gap existed between political realities and the military sphere in India. The Indian military has been grappling with shortages of equipment supply. Since about 60 years, the government has been underperforming in the military equipment realm. Emphasizing on China, the speaker queried on why certain countries perform well in the short term with regard to military hardware development.

Recently, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India had announced the creation of a Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) position. Mr. Tanvir, while commending the move, stated that every major country follows the line of creating of an Integrated Theatre Command.

The speaker shed light on the current Indian Armed Forces Command Structure. Several hypothetical analyses were posited, which may occur during a war with China. He explained how India would face major challenges in such a scenario. The primary challenge would be to ensure coordination between the leadership of the three army commands and two air force commands. A second challenge is observed whereby the Northern Command holds a dual responsibility. As it is located in Jammu & Kashmir, it is responsible for managing any conflict with Pakistan as well. Another challenge is the distance between the Northern and Eastern commands- around 2600 km. The speaker emphasized that present-day war scenarios would be more dynamic in nature as compared to the past. In this light, India having three different Army Commands, each with full coordination, will be equipped to counter an adversary in war.

According to the speaker, Indian Armed Forces must now not be a human-centric force but a network centric one. An instance was given of the Chinese Theatre Commands, wherein each asset is used in China’s border-area. Regarding the physical structure of the Indian ITCs, a one-parent command should be in place, especially from the land perspective.

The technology of China and India in their respective armed forces was compared. The technology of China in ITCs is well upgraded to the core, unlike India. However, adding, creating or copying ITCs from western patterns can have negative consequences for India.

Col. Hariharan VSM (Retd.), Retired Officer of Intelligence Corps, Government of India, Member, C3S, stated that the way in which warfare is taking place in the Middle East region, has created a monolithic situation. The concept of warfare has become dynamic in nature.

Mr. Rajaram Muthukrishnan, Investor and Director, Voice Snap Services Pvt. Ltd, Chennai; Member, C3S, spoke about the PLA modernisation (1978-1983). The Samudra Law was initiated during the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi, during which China was unprepared. Mr. Rajaram viewed that the Indian Armed Forces do have a hybrid formula but not the technologies. In fact, China has learnt to replicate technologies from major powers. War in China will be less of defensive than an offensive nature. The concept of Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) was highlighted.

Mr. Rajaram stressed on four points for enhancing India’s capabilities:  Ability to provide network centric warfare capability  Force multiplier effect, network centric warfare data links  Preparation of response to hybrid warfare scenario  Ability of a limited scale war from the sea or air

Mr. Tanvir concluded that India needs to take pragmatic look at the current defence situations in order to avoid future conflict. Certain steps can be taken to prevent another war with China. The frequency of dialogue between political and defence forces should be increased as as well as working on the goals of offensive and defensive capabilities.

(The views of the discussants are their own.)

(Compiled by Situ Kumari, Research Officer, C3S.)

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