Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Procurement Strategy – And Modernisation of Defence Forces

Procurement Strategy – And Modernisation of Defence Forces


The aim of defence procurements – like all procurements – is to obtain the right quality, in the right time, and at the right price. These aims become absolutely imperative in the specific case of defence procurements, which consist of weapon systems and defence equipment for the Armed Forces. The right quality of equipment, which should be evidently superior or at least comparable to those with our adversaries, is necessary to respond effectively in war against our potential foes, to combat internal threats and to deter war. ‘Right time’ implies ‘timeliness’ of the weapon system at the frontline, as the procurement process – whether through direct purchase or indigenous production – takes a fair amount of time for identification, acquisition, induction, training and the logistics support before deployment in the field. The paramount importance of timely procurement cannot be stressed enough. If this is ignored, we shall again be faced with a Kargil-like situation where our tactical options were restricted due to lack of critical equipment. The ‘Right price’ obviously must be factored in, as high quality systems have high costs, and the defence budget has many takers. Procurements primarily based on lowest bid criteria (L1) are not workable since due importance needs to be given to quality, performance reliability, life-cycle and spares management.
The necessity of an appropriate procurement system as part of an integral defence strategy has never been as vital as it is today. There is little doubt that we need a streamlined procurement system, and an efficient production base supported by frontline Research and Development (R&D) capability, if we have to be militarily strong to deter threats to the security of the country. The paper examines the essentials of such a procurement system, primarily viewed through the experience of my long and active service in the Indian Army, and my specific expertise on the larger issues relating to planning a defence strategy that I dealt with as part of my responsibilities when I was the VCOAS. Later, during my active association with the USI for the research leading up to the publication of my book Arming the Defence Forces – Procurement and Production Policies, I was able to investigate aspects of this subject in even more detail. This paper draws on all of the above to review the status on ground and the major reforms carried out, analyse the efforts towards self-reliance and technology induction, discuss the budgetary support, and finally suggest a few recommendations for a future strategy.

Review of Current Procurement Strategy: Status on Ground[i]
The fact that India’s defence needs are largely met by imports and only thirty per cent of our total defence requirements are provided by indigenous industry suggests that our defence procurement strategy needs a re-look. Whereas countries like China, South Korea, Brazil and Israel have become arms exporters, we remain one of the biggest arms importers, despite a similar take-off time. Although we have developed a large defence infrastructure through the establishment of forty Ordnance Factories, nine Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs), and fifty-one Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Laboratories, there has been an obvious imbalance in the expectations and actual performance. The DRDO and DPSUs do have to their credit a few world-class weapon systems, for instance the Integrated Missiles Systems, EW systems and the recent Brahmos cruise missiles. However, there have been serious cost and time over-runs in the case of Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun, Weapon Locating Radar (WLR), Nag, Advance Jet Trainer (AJT) and Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL), to name a few.
The main cause for this has been our over-reliance on direct purchases, setting-up licence production facilities and the lack of investment in technology development, besides faulty procurement policies pursued by officials who are not trained or equipped to manage the contracts. Instead of acquiring technology for the future, we generally purchase weapon systems with the current technology, which become obsolete by the time it reaches us and have to be phased out too soon. Neither have we been able to adapt the technologies by reverse engineering, or adopt the joint-production route being followed by countries such as China, Israel, South Africa, and Brazil. These countries maintain linkages with the leading arms producing countries for assured investments and technology transfer, so that arms exporters have a long-term stake and an incentive for successful transfer of technology and production facility. For instance, the Chinese were able to develop upgrades from the old Soviet designs for their F-7 aircrafts and T-60 tanks.
We need to examine the reasons for this gap between the expectations and the performance in our procurement strategy. The first handicap in our procurement apparatus is a lack of continuity. Handling of high-tech contracts is left to ad-hoc assembled teams, who are not experts in contract management. Contrary to such a system or such a lack of system, the U.K. for example, has a dedicated Procurement Executive with the Defence Minister, consisting of Integrated Project teams with experts from various disciplines, for each procurement project. They are entrusted the tasks of development, production, induction into the Service, and maintenance and upgradation of the equipment till it is phased-out. Do we have – or do we even plan to have - such an integrated policy planning staff, consisting of professional experts in our system like the one in the UK or France? The answer is a big NO. We seem to be happy with the status-quo and obtain whatever is on offer, often saddled with items which are redundant and accept liberal scales of spares of little use.
 Therefore, in our system there is diffused responsibility, a lack of accountability, and a resultant lack of trust on the officials, besides over-centralisation with the Ministry. They lack an integrated approach and are not focussed on speedy procurement. Procurement process, approvals, trials and the contract finalisation are at present cumbersome and slow, causing long delays. The role of arms agents, intermediaries and the media in the arms deals, is inevitable in such a scenario. To prevent or at least limit such a situation, we have to follow a multi-pronged strategy. First, remove the need for intermediaries by clearly defining roles, responsibilities and qualifications of the officials entrusted with procurement. Second, whenever malpractices of corrupt officials/media-persons/ arms-dealers/intermediaries, are revealed, take strict action against the guilty. Merely scuttling the deal by blacklisting of the firms and delaying the entire procurement process indefinitely, as has happened in the import of 155 mm Medium Artillery Guns and aviation helicopters, without taking any action against the faulty people and the faulty process, will not help at all. Third, while drawing the contracts, other considerations of joint ventures, technology transfers, and long term partnerships, including exports of surplus production capacity should necessarily be built-in. I recall the case of the Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP factory at Medak in 1999, where the installed capacity was not being utilised as the indigenous demands were inadequate, but the BMPs could not be exported as the export clause was not built into the contract deal. We need to, therefore, re-examine our new procurement structure and the entire procurement process which was adopted in 2001 after the Kargil Committee Report and further updated in 2005, and revised more recently in 2011.

Essential Attributes of Planning Parameters of an Appropriate Procurement Strategy:
The procurement strategy flows out from the National Security Strategy and is the function of the higher defence management organisation. It is a collaborative effort between the Raksha Mantri (RM), the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Armed Forces, the DRDO, Defence Production Agencies, Defence Secretary and the Defence Finance. Success lies in the professional management and synergy between all the stake holders. The essential parameters and the ground realities must be factored in while formulating a realistic procurement strategy, as explained below.  

1.                  The security environment today, is constantly changing and a wider range of tasks have to be performed warranting acquisition and deployment of new technology more quickly than before.
2.                  Sources of assured military supplies have dwindled. Thus, alternate sources for technology induction have to be identified by strategic partnership or through indigenous capability, and modernisation and systems upgradation have to be undertaken periodically to maintain operational readiness.
3.                  Technology denial regimes have become operative, necessitating transfer of technology (ToT) by direct purchase or joint-ventures and development of indigenous technology. R&D effort and investments in critical technology need greater focus. Self-reliance effort needs to be enhanced significantly by private sector participation and modernisation of the DPSUs.
4.                  Over optimistic claims by the DRDO, often lead to inordinate delays. To give one example, American Weapon Locating Radar (WLR) selected in 1990-91 was finally bought in 2005-6 after a failed enterprise of the DRDO. This affected the operational capability during the Kargil conflict in 1999 adversely. The DRDO needs to work more closely with the Defence Forces and DPSUs to develop or obtain relevant technology.
5.                  Financial powers remain highly centralised with the Ministry. Some liberalisation and delegation has taken place in the case of revenue expenditure; however capital purchases are stringently controlled by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). There is insufficient delegation to the users i.e. the Armed Forces, DRDO, DPSUs, DRDO, and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), to develop, innovate or procure even the low technology products. It is in the purchase of capital equipment (aircraft, ships, tanks, guns and weapon systems) that the real problem arises and needs detailed examination.
6.                  Capital purchases up to 100 crores should thus be delegated to the users leaving only the big projects with the Ministry. This will enable the Services to procure urgent items and avoid situations where critical shortages, such as tank ammunition or night vision devices do not persist, as was revealed recently and debated in the media and in the Parliament. While handling equipment purchases the cardinal principles of financial management of equity, integrity, economy and efficiency, apply equally.
7.                  In our present procurement structure, we have an ad-hoc team entrusted with the responsibility of managing high-tech contracts without any permanency, continuity, accountability, and post-contract monitoring. Most high-tech contracts are high value items like aircrafts, ships, tanks and have to meet stringent specifications and performance guarantees, besides providing long-term life cycle spares backup. It is therefore extremely important that contracts are drawn out with care, stating performance parameters, installation details, Transfer of Technology (ToT) incentives for the seller, utilisation of excess capacity and the maintenance support. All this requires expertise, technical, financial and managerial competence, evaluation and monitoring, by a team of professionals.
8.                  While the money allocation for the Services has always been substantially less than their legitimate needs, there is a paradox of huge surrender of funds due to slow decision making. All sub-systems need not be produced exclusively for the defence sector; where possible they should be for dual-use, and purchased commercially off the shelf (COTS). It is cheaper to outsource spares and ancillaries to the private sector rather than manufacture the entire range of products in the Ordnance Factories. The DRDO should concentrate on the critical technologies rather than spread its wings too wide and fritter away its resources in low-tech activities. We therefore need optimum utilisation of funds and resources.
9.                  A family concept of weapons and equipment should be evolved rather than importing from diverse sources. The problem in doing so can be illustrated by the fact that Milan, Concourse, Malutka anti-tank missiles of the same generation were imported from different countries and had to be phased out together without any possibility of upgrades. Similarly, wasteful deals were concluded in purchase of drones i.e. pilot-less aircraft, of the same design at different prices by the three Services due to lack of coordination at the Ministry.

Major Policy Reforms
The new industrial policy of 1991 enabled the Indian private industry to grow and participate in defence production to some extent. After the Kargil Committee Report on 26 February 2001 highlighted the requirement of reforms in higher defence management, the Government also implemented a few institutional changes. In May 2001, the private sector was permitted to fully participate in the defence industry with 26 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).[ii] Integrated defence staff (IDS) was created for direct interaction between the MoD and the Defence Forces. However, the envisaged integration of the Service HQs with the MoD, and the essential appointment of the CDS as the coordinator for resolving inter-service priorities, have not been implemented so far.
A new acquisition set-up was created in October 2001, to make the procurements more efficient, timely and transparent. A revised Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP-2002) was introduced from 30 December 2002. This was updated again in June 2003 and July 2005, to make procurements more expeditious and competitive. DPP has again been revised twice, but the effective implementation of the policies formulated, has been lacking by the officials in the MoD and other functionaries.

New Procurement Structure  
A new high level council was constituted with the following members: Defence Acquisition Cell (DAC) with Defence Minister as its chairman, the three Service Chiefs, Defence Secretary, Secretary (DP&S), Secretary (DR&D) and Secretary Defence Finance. The planning process for defence procurements are under the overall guidance of this cell. HQ IDS, in consultation with the Service HQ formulates the 15 years Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan and 5 years Services Capital Acquisition Plan, for approval of the DAC. However, the absence of the CDS in this structure, limits integration to mere compilation of the Services plans, as HQ IDS do not have the authority to alter the priority laid by the Service HQ. Implementation of the DACs decisions on procurement are undertaken by the Defence Procurement Board (DPB), Defence Production Board and Defence R&D Board respectively. The DAC is not able to meet regularly and depends on the IDS and the DPB for their inputs rather than giving them strategic directions and long term perspective.
The DAC met recently twice within a month when faced with criticism, but what about the follow-up action, thereafter, in the absence of a dedicated body? The acquisition wing lacks the resources or the authority to monitor the induction of equipment’s. The DPB handles all the ‘buy’ and ‘buy & make’ decisions, as also monitors all activities related to capital acquisitions of the three services based on the five years acquisition plans approved by DAC. The procedure for identification and approvals of the weapon systems to be inducted being slow, results in creating a bottleneck in the processing exercise. There is a case to make separate procurement boards for each service for speedier processing of the procurements.
A Special Secretary has been appointed for all matters concerning capital acquisitions. It has four Divisions namely: Land, Maritime, Air Force, and Systems.  Each Division has an acquisition manager, a joint secretary level officer, and technical manager, a service officer of two-star rank. The Finance Adviser (acquisition) advises the Special Secretary on all finance matters. 
Highlights of the DPP-2005 [iii]
As per the DPP-2005, the following are the key features.
Up to 30 per cent direct offsets purchase, for procurement values of over 300 crores from the Indian defence industry, has been made mandatory for the overseas defence firms making the sale. Joint Services Qualitative Requirements (JSQR) are to be formulated for the equipment common to the three Services to avoid duplication. The QRs by the Services are to be made more realistic and broad based to facilitate indigenous development and avoid single vendor situations. Open tendering has been allowed for items bought through COTS. An integrity pact clause for capital acquisitions costing more than 100 crores has been introduced to ensure fair play and for refraining to engage a broker or an arms agent (which apparently has made little difference). Importantly, CCS is authorised to override lowest bid criteria on strategic considerations to meet operational needs. However, this needs to be backed up by more realistic checks, since it is impractical to refer such cases to the CCS easily.  
Kelkar Committee on Self- Reliance in Defence Preparedness[iv]
In 2004, the Kelkar Committee was set-up to recommend changes in the acquisition process and for enabling a greater participation by the private-sector in defence production towards self-reliance in defence preparedness. The first part of the report submitted in April 2005, focuses on the review of defence procurement procedure and on integration of the users, MoD, and the industry for enhancing indigenous production; pursuing offsets policy to bring in technology and investment; exploring synergies between the private and public sectors; and promoting exports.  The majority of recommendations have been accepted by the Ministry for implementation.                  
The second part of the Report was submitted to the Ministry in November 2005, where the Committee recommended that there should be greater freedom to the PSUs and the Ordnance Factories (OFs) to form joint ventures and consortiums. This has not happened fully as an environment of faith and mutual trust has to be created by all the players, and a greater devolution of authority made to the production agencies, with focus on performance and accountability. DGOF and the DPSUs should also be permitted to export surplus capacity.

Recommendations for Technology Induction
An impetus needs to be given to the DRDO and the industry to develop futuristic and core technologies by a collaborative approach with infusion of funds, incentives, and on risk sharing basis, followed up with joint production. The academic institutions and the private industry engaged in defence-oriented technology should be provided incentives and financial support. An approach on the lines of Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the USA is recommended to be followed.
Technology Development Groups (TDG) consisting of best brains from the DRDO, academic institutions, Defence Services, and the private industry should be formed to develop identified high-tech systems till its induction in the concerned service. Each TDG should be made to concentrate on one discipline and the concerned wing of the Defence Forces should fully identify with the TDG and encourage induction of the indigenous product by according preference to it over an imported system.
The integrated approach adopted by the Indian Navy in the design, fabrication, trials, construction of naval warships and their subsequent up-gradations, is a fine example of synergy and partnership between the Navy, the dockyards and the DRDO. Restructuring and joint partnership model has made HAL a leading aircraft facility in the country for MIG, JAGUAR, the Cheetah and the ALH, but the locations of ancillary factories at Korapet, Amethi and at Lucknow on political considerations makes little sense. We need to create hubs for ancillaries close to the main factory rather than distribute them all over to satisfy political demands.
Budgetary Support
The future direction and pace of defence modernisation would largely be dictated by the availability of funds.[v] Presently the budget is at very modest level of 2.1 per cent of the GDP. This has to be seen in view of increased defence budgets of China and Pakistan (4.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively). Our defence budget is planned at 1.9 per cent of the projected GDP( $39 billion) for 2012-13, as against over $100 billion being spent by China. The revenue budget for housekeeping needs, takes away nearly 60 per cent or more of this allocated amount; the remainder amount for capital procurements has to be shared between fixed repayment liabilities of already contracted weapon systems and the modernisation demands of new acquisitions.
The cost of the recently concluded 126 Multi Role Combat Aircraft for the IAF is likely to be over $20 billion, and the 145 Howitzer Guns for the Army $ 650 million. Even this allocation is not fully spent due to slow decision making process or lack of accountability in decision making thus eroding our combat preparedness. During the current year a sum of Rs 3065 crores, being the unspent amount from the capital funds, was surrendered by the MoD. Enhanced funds have to be provided regularly as the weapon systems are highly expensive and procurements cannot be made in quick time, once the hostilities commence. To deter both China and Pakistan, and to maintain readiness to meet contingencies all the time, over a wide spectrum and a large physical area of operations on the land, sea and air space, the defence budget needs to be increased to 3 per cent of the GDP.

The Way Ahead
The first criterion is improving the procurement process and capability. Modern wars are fought on the technological superiority of the Armed Forces. The capability to defend the borders and provide safety and security to the country depends to a large extent on the provisioning of arms and equipment to the Armed Forces. The serious deficiencies in surveillance equipment and other weapon systems were evident during Kargil War and later in 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. The objective of a good procurement strategy should thus be to deliver quality equipment faster, better and cheaper. Some of the steps for creating a dynamic procurement system are summarised in the succeeding paragraphs.
1.      Procedural changes and restructuring by themselves will not achieve the results, unless the decision making time is speeded and there is greater coordination between the Service HQ, the MoD, DRDO and the procurement agencies.
2.      The MoD remains the key player in the procurement process and tends to shirk accountability, as the responsibility is shared by too many agencies.  Contrastingly, the PE in the UK has officers from the three Services, the technocrats, and civilian officers to work in close coordination to plan and execute the entire procurement process.
3.      We need to create an integrated procurement agency, consisting of, Defence Forces, Scientists, management experts and the administrators to plan defence policy, budget and weapon projects, and authorise a CDS, reporting directly to the RM. The existing IDS neither have the requisite authority, expertise nor the structure to plan long term perspective. What matters finally is the will to reform and change. The new procurement structure still operates in old environment.
4.      In any set-up, the enforcing authority is the political leadership; otherwise the inter-service representatives and the civilian administrators would project only their respective viewpoints. The political leadership needs to display the will to enforce with firmness the provisions of DPP 2005 and the other recommendations of the various studies. Restructuring of DRDO, DGOF and DPSUs to integrate technology development and product manufacturing under one management is long overdue, besides modernising their functions. These institutions lack professional management and must become efficient, accountable and competitive.
5.      Technology is the basic requirement for development of high tech weapon systems. This requires joint collaboration with strategic partners to induct state of the art technology and need for encouraging exports for sustaining investments, besides larger allocation of funds for the indigenous R&D.
6.      Development of long term partnership with defence industry is essential for self-reliance. Partnership is a two way activity built on ‘trust’ and the users have to accommodate the aspirations of the industry for profits, just as the industry has to meet the stringent QRs of the Defence Forces in the manufacture of weapon systems. However, partnership must be viewed much beyond procurements and profits in a larger perspective, as a shared vision and a goal to create a self-reliant defence industrial base for the country. Defence procurement involves maintaining a judicious balance, in selecting the best equipment, at the lowest quoted prices, while promoting indigenous product and ensuring modernisation of the armed forces to combat the threats to national security.
Lieutenant General Chandra Shekhar, PVSM, AVSM (Retd) was commissioned into the 2/4 GR of the Indian Army in December 1959. He retired as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff in September 2000. He held the Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa Chair in 2003-04 at the USI and researched on procurement and production policies for the defence forces.                                          

[i] Arming the Defence Forces, Lt. General Chandra Shekhar, Manas Publications, New Delhi, 2004, pp.123.
[ii] The Group of Ministers Report 2001
[iii] Defence Procurement Procedure 2005
[iv] Kelkar Committee Report on Self-Reliance in Defence Preparedness
[v] Times of India 17 March 2012

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

KARGIL WAR – AN OVERVIEW by Lt Gen Chandra Shekhar (PVSM AVSM)

The Kargil ingress by Pakistan occurred in the first week of May 1999, shortly after the February 1999 Lahore-Agreement between Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif. This happened at a time when the tensions between the two neighbours were believed to have de-escalated and mutual relations were on the upswing. Imagine the surprise and sense of dismay in India, when the intrusions were detected during the second week of May 1999. The overall political environment, the nuclear capability demonstrated in 1998 and the improved military situation in Jammu & Kashmir did not justify the development. There is no doubt that the nation was taken by total surprise and the Army and civilian intelligence agencies did not anticipate it.

Much has been written on the Kargil War by experts on both sides– its political and strategic objectives, the conduct of military operations, the nuclear angle, the excessive number of casualties, and the diplomatic and media efforts. However the difficulties in handling the conflict, the ground realities and the higher direction of war, have not been sufficiently examined. Without going into the specific ground operations, which have already been covered in a number of books published on the subject, I believe it is necessary to explain the actual situation as it was in the area of Kargil at that time, and the larger context of the regional environment. Having been closely associated in the entire operational planning of the Kargil conflict, as the then Vice-Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) of the Army, I believe it is also useful to share my knowledge and perception of the follow-up measures undertaken during and after the Kargil War, and our response to restore the situation.

Most of the public coverage during that time focused on the government’s alleged complacency, the criticism of the Lahore venture in hindsight, and a limited understanding of the Kargil intrusion purely as a huge intelligence failure. I believe that the widespread acceptance of such a one-sided perception led to not just national embarrassment, but also contributed to the continuance of avoidable conflict and to our ultimate loss of 527 killed and 1363 soldiers wounded in the battle.

The True Scenario
It is correct to an extent, that the Army had in a certain measure failed to read the events correctly. The absence of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on a foreign visit in the initial period also added to the perception that the Army and Government were taking matters lightly. I can state unequivocally that this was not so. As the VCOAS during this period, I was well aware that it was the overall geo-political environment and lack of intelligence that took everyone by surprise - rather than any lack of effort or planning. We in the Army HQ, once the initial assessment of the situation was made, were totally involved day and night in planning the operations to evict the infiltrators.

The criticism that the Army was slow to react was also unreasonable, and very far from the truth. I have corrected this perception repeatedly in public fora, as in the HT Report attached at the end of this paper. There were even absurd allegations made in some quarters that the Army had kept the Ministry in the dark. The fact that such allegations came forth - despite the regular personal interactions with the MoD at the senior level and despite the Army reporting the situation on a daily basis, as is the practice, and also declaring in-the-situation reports that some of its soldiers were wounded in the patrol clash in the sector - was not just surprising to us but also very disheartening. It must be understood that the Army has to depend on the other Intelligence Agencies for information other than tactical information, and it does not have any resources or authority to deploy the other Intelligence Agencies. In the initial days of the incursions, in the absence of any information from any of the agencies who have the responsibility and the duty to provide such intelligence, the Army itself had no clear picture of the situation. It therefore assessed such information as it did obtain through its own observation, as a case of routine infiltration. It was not, either at that time or later, appreciated by most of our nation that the Armed Forces, particularly the Army was responding as best as they could in a situation that was not a planned military operation but a reactive response to the ingress in the unoccupied gaps of our territory.

As soon as we became aware of the nature of the infiltration, we at Army HQ, along with HQ Northern Command, were simultaneously engaged in doing the best possible to obtain detailed information about the enemy, and in speedily building up additional resources from other sectors. This was notwithstanding the handicaps that the Army faced due to the surprise-factor achieved by the enemy, and the fact that logistics in the mountains are complex and take considerable time and effort. The issues were many, ranging from a total lack of intelligence about the enemy, to the slow progress in launching operations due to poor infrastructure and the difficult terrain, problems in mobilization of forces, and the disinformation due to the Pakistani war propaganda.

The reasons that the Army could not itself detect the specific extent of the infiltration initially, was primarily due to the extremely inhospitable terrain along the LoC (at an average height of 12000 feet) and the extreme weather conditions. The enemy had planned its move well, and made good use of adverse weather conditions and the winter months for the intrusion. The area is large with very wide gaps in the Mashko-Dras and the Batalik–Kargil sectors, many of which have been traditionally un-held. The effective patrolling of such a terrain was, and is, difficult. Patrolling was therefore, selectively carried-out and limited during the sub-zero temperatures in winter. Since the gaps were large, there was inadequate ground observation or contact. The monthly Army Aviation helicopter sorties flew only when the weather was clear and followed predictable routes, operating more as communication flights, and did not locate any unusual activities.

The air-photographs of the ingress could be obtained only by 14 May 1999 through the Aviation Research Centre (ARC) as the IAF aircraft earmarked for such missions had developed some technical problems. The satellite imagery provided did not have the requisite resolution to pick up any details of enemy positions. The Army thus lacked support of technical intelligence, such as satellite-imagery, night–vision devices or even air photographs taken periodically to detect any deployment or additional infrastructure development. Some would question the Army’s wisdom in keeping such large gaps as blind spots without any means for their surveillance and creating any military capability for any intervention or reactive response in this area in all the years since 1948.

I will only say that the Armed Forces of India perform the best that they can with the means that they have at hand; there are certain decisions that the civilian leadership takes on behalf of, and sometimes despite the advice of the Armed Forces. That the Armed Forces continue to discharge their duties within these constraints should be seen as even greater proof of their ability and restraint rather than otherwise. The Kargil conflict, notwithstanding the initial surprise, demonstrated the traditional Indian national resolve to hold onto and fight for what is rightfully ours, whatever the cost. This was also demonstrated in the earlier Indo-Pak wars. It seems to me that as a nation we still do not sufficiently appreciate the conditions under which the Armed Forces operate, or the fact that they are human beings operating for the most part under extremely adverse conditions, or that we should be aiding their efforts through timely and prompt access to such technology as can help them in such adverse conditions.

I have a fairly intimate understanding of the terrain and deployments, and first-hand knowledge of the challenges that deployment in such a terrain entails. I spent a number of years in this sector, at different stages of my long service in the Indian Army. My very first posting after being commissioned as a young officer was with my battalion (2/4 GR) in the Kargil sector, and then as a sub-unit commander in an adjoining sector in Ladakh. From my experience in dealing with the manifold issues in surveying and defending the LoC in J &K as a Brigade Commander in 1984-5, and later as the Chief of Staff of the HQ 15 Corps in 1991-93, I was more than aware of the larger constraints of the defence of this region. I had also been in the area during the actual conflict in May 1999 and discussed the situation on the ground with the concerned formation commanders, Major Generals V. S. Budhwar and Mohinder Puri.

The Impact of Political Decisions 
The Indian political leadership has of course always displayed total confidence in its Armed Forces and institutions. Even when the international opinion was not favourable during the initial stages of the Kargil War, it gave directions to the Armed Forces to evict the intruders without enlarging the conflict elsewhere. This policy of restraint to keep the conflict localized may have been appreciated by international powers, but has been a major disadvantage in the actual conduct of operations. India has adopted a similar policy of restraint even in the earlier wars, and during the recent Mumbai attacks. In fact, the restriction of not crossing the LoC has no military logic, when the adversary has already violated the borders.

What is also little appreciated is that we had no troops to react with in the area of intrusion, or any reserves with the local Brigade, the reason being that all its Units were already deployed on other parts of the LoC. The only troops available in J&K were already committed in the ongoing Counter Insurgency (CI) operations down below in the Valley, across the Zojila pass. The pass is snowbound and closed from October to May for any movement. All the available troops in J&K had to be dis-engaged, moved over a distance of 150 kilometers, and had to undergo a minimum acclimatization period of seven days, before being launched for the operations in the high-altitude sector. The Artillery units had to move from the plains sector along with ammunition. The logistics support needed, had to be built-up.

It must be conceded that the Army also failed to read the few isolated indicators that did come. There were unconfirmed reports from some sources of fresh-road construction across the LoC on the Gultari–Shakma axis, opposite the Kargil Sector. This information was interpreted as routine improvement works. There were reports of induction of long-range artillery guns, apart from the ongoing medium artillery shelling of the Kargil-Dras road. The artillery fire was seen by us as reactive retaliatory fire to our interdiction of the road in the Neelam valley which we had undertaken to disrupt the winter stocking convoys in the POK.

However, these reports came in piecemeal, as isolated events, and at different times. As the VCOAS, I would have been apprised by the DGMI, of any unusual activity and of any important developments or reports, if these had been noticed. Infiltration in J&K has been occurring for a long time. After the initial ingress was detected, the ground commanders read the infiltration as routine, having seen it regularly for the past decade. The Army formations thus, at first considered this too as a case of the periodic infiltration regularly encountered over the past ten years and hence not a matter that could not be handled in the normal course. The IB and the RAW inputs also failed to project the likely Pakistan designs or ingress, notwithstanding some reports of improvement of tracks and defence-works.

One of the other reasons for the lack of an independent analysis in the Army and its dependence on a conditioned response may perhaps have been due to its total focus and long-term engagement on the insurgency in the Kashmir Valley. The Kargil sector on the other hand was considered comparatively a low threat area due to the majority of friendly Shia Muslims, who did not support the separatists. The extremely difficult terrain and friendly population were considered as a sufficient safeguard and the entire focus remained in the Valley and on the Siachin-Glacier. In fact even the reserve formations had been de-inducted earlier on for employment in the Valley. This lack of deployment, the fact that the Indian Army was stretched thin on internal CI responsibilities, and the large gaps traditionally un-held by us, were well exploited by the adversary to infiltrate forces in small groups throughout the winter to achieve total surprise. As a nation, we had also under-estimated Pakistan’s obsession with and its deep resentment against the success of the Indian Armed Forces in previous Wars. General Musharraf publicly accepted in his book In the Line of Fire that the Kargil operations were planned to take revenge for the 1971 War and the 1984 Indian action in the Siachin Glacier.

The Strategy Adopted
After the initial apparently slow response, the nation forcefully went about exposing Pakistan’s complicity in the Kargil ingress, and the involvement of its regular troops in the garb of irregulars. The correctness of the Indian stand was thereafter understood, nearly one month after the ingress. Armed forces were instructed to make all the necessary preparations for various contingencies but were to restrict operations within the Kargil sector. The IAF was directed to mount operations without crossing the Indian airspace. In fact, even the general mobilization for war was not ordered and severe tactical restrictions were placed on the Armed Forces by not crossing the border or developing operations elsewhere due to strategic considerations. The operations were not enlarged to the other sectors and limited to the area of ingress as per the Government’s directions, notwithstanding the severe tactical disadvantages and tremendous costs in men and material. I have outlined these clearly on earlier occasions, both in the print media as well as in discussions and seminars at various levels, as in the article I wrote in 2011 on the need for inter-service understanding and a higher defence management: 

It is with sadness and regret that I recollect the energy and time spent by the political leadership in debates for and against enlarging the conflict, the discussion on defense purchase scandals and scams in the procurement of military equipment, and the questions asked on the Government’s inability to combat insurgency in J&K and on Pakistan’s ability to internationalize the Kashmir issue - all at a time when so many of our soldiers were battling not just the enemy and adverse conditions but also a lack of adequate equipment, stores and battle gear. The emphasis on the part of the media and our political leaders should have been on ensuring that the urgent and desperate needs of our soldiers in conditions of War were met, by speeding up bureaucratic hurdles. Unfortunately this was not the case.

To make up the shortages, procurement of defence equipment was on paper put on fast track, but the fact that defence equipment takes time to procure was not realized by the successive governments. There were large-scale shortages of weapons and equipment with the units, as also in the artillery ammunition, night fighting capabilities and communications systems. Our procurement system failed to make up the shortages despite concluding 129 procurement contracts for stores worth Rupees 2175 crore, on emergent basis. It needs to be understood that defence equipment is not available off the-counter, from a grocery store or a market. It needs time for assembly, testing and training by troops. Defense preparedness has to be done over a period of time as a regular process and has to be given adequate funding. The Indian defence budget at 2.5% is not only low but remains under-utilized due to procedural delays. The Mumbai attacks have again highlighted the institutional and intelligence weaknesses that continue to exist in our system.

Long Term Implications
Such recurrent reluctance in important matters of national security bring into question our political resolve and our lack of decisive capability. The Kargil Committee Report, after the operations were concluded became an issue of ‘mud-slinging’ and politics, rather than correcting the inadequacies in the planning and direction of war. Although a number of recommendations were implemented, a few key important ones, such as the creation of the CDS, integration of the Armed Forces HQ with the MoD and greater delegation of the defence budget to the users have still been held back, more than a decade after Kargil. Even today, the modernization programme continues to suffer due to lack of political resolve and institutional weaknesses. The funds earmarked remain unutilized due to lack of decision making and are surrendered, thus adversely affecting our military capability. We still do not have an institution to render single point advice and military assessment to the Government.

Military strategy cannot be planned in a political vacuum. A clear directive regarding political intentions and objectives must be given by the national leadership. In our system the Service HQs formulate their individual operational plans; these are factored for joint-ness by the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), discussed with the Raksha-Mantri (RM) and thereafter presented to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for approval. We do not have a Chief of Defence Staff [CDS] to render full-time military advice to the National Security Agency or to the CCS. The COSC is an ex-officio Committee, which operates when required in addition to their other primary tasks and cannot devote exclusive attention to the higher defence management, or to coordinate and monitor military operations on a regular basis. The three Service Chiefs meet in the COSC as equal partners and attempt consensus for agreement, which many times may not happen. The chairmanship goes to one of the Chiefs on protocol seniority, without any authority to decide on contentious issues or override dissent.

In the Kargil Conflict, as we know, the initial assessment was not correctly made due to lack of intelligence inputs since we did not – and still do not - have an integrated intelligence agency. We lost valuable time since a reasonable tactical picture emerged only after the Air photographs/ radio intercepts of the sector were made available to the Army. These were obtained by 14 May, whereas the patrol–clashes had occurred on the 5th May. The ingress had reportedly commenced in small groups, as early as January 1999, as revealed from the captured diary of a Pakistani officer after the war. There was no information of the enemy or the ground situation, to any of the intelligence agencies – military or civil. It is to the credit of the field formations, who were inducted hurriedly from all over the country, that once the gravity of the situation was discerned, they threw themselves in preparations to evict the enemy, with great effort and courage against great odds. Had there been timely information through technical sources or an independent intelligence coordination agency with an objective analysis at the highest level by the NSA/ CDS, we would not have had to react with such little preparation time, and we would not have had to lose so many fine Indian soldiers.

At the time of the Kargil War, the COSC did meet, and handled most of the issues with understanding and total cooperation and maturity but it functioned more as a briefing and information sharing meeting. The requests of the Army for employment of attack helicopters for quick retaliation on the enemy infiltrators in the initial detection were not agreed to by the IAF due to differing perceptions on their employment and the threat of shoulder-fired missiles of the intruders. The basic fact that we need quick reaction capability and information advantage over our adversary to respond appropriately was indeed realized - but was not exercised due to considerations of safety of the helicopters. Had we obtained the latest satellite-imagery, deployed unattended electronic sensors and night-vision devices in the area, we would have been forewarned and perhaps avoided the pain of loss of many gallant lives at Kargil.

The eviction of the intruders often entailed mounting frontal attacks through narrow ridges dominated by the enemy. In such a landscape, the neutralization of the enemy defence-works by our artillery achieved limited results due to the nature of the ground in the mountains. The employment of the IAF aircrafts with laser-guided munitions for ground–attacks, and the Bofors medium-caliber artillery contributed significantly in weakening the enemy’s resolve, and assisted the valiant attacks of the ground forces on these formidable heights. Although mountainous terrain does not lend to effective neutralization, nonetheless, as regularly reported in the media, there were a number of gallant attacks by our infantry units led by highly motivated young officers while evicting the enemy from their dominating position. There were many acts of heroism against great odds by the infantry units which are not being described here. The importance of physical fitness and the need for younger profile of the commanding officers in the infantry was felt for combat in battle. As always all the Indian Army units deployed for battle irrespective of their Arm or Service delivered their might fully and displayed acts of highest gallantry while re-taking or supporting the attacks on these formidable heights.

The Larger Picture 
The Kargil war was significant for the impact and influence of international opinion to both sides. Kargil news–stories and war-footage were often telecast live on Indian TV and many web-sites provided in depth analysis of the conflict. It was important to project the correctness of the Indian point of view, due to Pakistani attempts of denying involvement of its forces and linking the ingress to the Kashmiri freedom-fighters and even disputing the very alignment of the LoC. This was successfully done by releasing the original maps, officially delineated at the Shimla-Agreement, the details of the signal-intercepts implicating Pakistani senior commanders, exposing the captured Pakistani soldiers and the weaponry used by the so-called irregulars. This was achieved by the dynamic diplomatic efforts of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and by our efforts to highlight Indian restraint of limiting the conflict to the international community so effectively that even China, the all-weather ally of Pakistan, did not support or intervene in this conflict. Regular briefings of foreign diplomats in India jointly by the spoke-persons of the Army, IAF and MEA as also of the Media, which acted as a force-multiplier, contributed in clearly communicating the Indian stand.

Finally, the Indian position was accepted by major international powers, the G-8 nations, the European Union and the ASEAN, but the success came at a great cost and after initial frustrations of lack of credible evidence, the slow progress of ground operations, substantiated only later by the capture of enemy held heights and the Pakistani soldiers. Two months into the conflict, the Indian troops had slowly retaken most of the ridges, but it was the American pressure on Pakistan which hastened the pull-out from the remaining locations. At the end of the war Pakistan, looked isolated and the Indian stand stood vindicated. The media both the electronic and the print-media played a very positive role to shape the international opinion in our favour.

Since both countries were nuclear armed, many in the international community were concerned that if the conflict intensified, it could lead to a nuclear war. Pakistan reportedly threatened on May 31 that any escalation of conflict could lead to use of all arsenal at her disposal. Pakistan also accused India of using Chemical Warfare against the Kashmiri fighters. The nuclear factor was considered in-depth by the COSC and the CCS. The USA, it is understood, persuaded Pakistan to desist from deploying nuclear weapons and assured them that India had not deployed any nuclear weapons although, both sides, reportedly took some preparatory steps. The American diplomacy played an important role in the nuclear restraint by the two sides. India successfully campaigned against Pakistani nuclear brinkmanship and showcased a cache of gas masks to indicate Pakistan’s preparations of a NBC war. This was a major restraining factor in not enlarging the area of engagement beyond Kargil. Notwithstanding such public posturing, the lack of a nuclear war fighting capability was obvious on both sides. The nuclear doctrine of India itself perhaps needs a relook.

Follow-up Measures
The Kargil War has a number of lessons both for the military and for various civil institutions. In the immediate aftermath of the war, the government took a number of steps to rectify the shortcomings in the defence preparedness, following widespread media reportage about military procurement irregularities and criticism of intelligence agencies like RAW, which failed to predict the intrusions or the identity of the infiltrators. The Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) have now closed the cases of procurement irregularities due to lack of credible evidence, but the nation has lost valuable time and resources to modernize the Armed Forces. On the diplomatic front, it is interesting that relations with the USA, Russia, South Africa, Israel and France, which discreetly aided India with defence procurements, improved.

The recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee Report were on the whole addressed in a professional manner to enhance defence capability. Our political leadership then, did show considerable maturity and wisdom in carrying out institutional reforms. The needs of the Armed Forces were re-examined with particular requirement of improving their pay and allowance, looking after the battle casualties, medical and housing facilities. Some of the steps initiated to enhance defence capability are indicated below:-
(1)    The MoD and the other players involved have commenced work on evolving a nuclear strategy and on integrated command and control structure. The Defence Forces have streamlined their mobilization & deployment plans. Some of the areas/sectors which were thinly held have been reinforced by raising additional forces and formations. The road network and logistics structure in the border region is being enhanced.
(2)   An integrated joint staff under a new HQ has been established for greater joint-ness; however it does not enjoy any independent authority in the absence of CDS. A separate Defence Intelligence Agency for the three services and a joint procurement planning wing has been created under the integrated defence staff (IDS).
(3)   A Defence Acquisition Cell and a separate defence procurement board have been created to streamline defence modernization and fast-track induction of weapon systems. However on the ground there are delays due to indecisions and fixed mind sets.
(4)   Strategic forces command and amphibious forces Headquarters have been created and placed under the HQ IDS. Border surveillance and the communications systems are being upgraded. The counter-terrorism mechanism and the Intelligence Services are being re-vitalized to improve our response to security threats.

However, a few anomalies still continue in the pay and allowance and the pension entitlements of the defence forces. These, needless to say, must be settled speedily. And while, on the one hand, defence procurement procedures have been streamlined and financial powers of services enhanced, the actual defence procurements and modernization programmes have got stuck in corrupt practices and political controversies. Thus, though the Kargil conflict has made the nation aware of many shortcomings and given an impetus to security preparedness, our institutional weaknesses and political indecisions have not allowed the Armed-Forces the desired levels of modernization. The political leaders have not been able to overcome the institutional delays and implement much needed reforms.

This paper is primarily based on my personal recollections of the Kargil War as the VCOAS, and supplemented by information from A Soldier's diary: Kargil, the Inside Story, by Harinder Baweja, 2000,  Books Today; and Kargil War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, accessed on 6 May 2009


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Command of 50 I Para Brigade

On 15 September 1985, I was visiting 18 Punjab, one of the forward battalions in the 120 Infantry Brigade, on the Line of Control in the Rajouri Sector in J&K. While on this inspection visit, I received my transfer orders to take over as Commander 50 (I) Para Brigade. The transfer orders came as a big surprise to me as I was not a paratrooper. Also, I had already been in command of the Infantry Brigade for about 18 months. In the normal course, I should have gone for some staff job or an instructor’s appointment following the Brigade Command. I therefore, spoke to my GOC, 25 Infantry Division, Major General R. Sharma (‘Kaku’) to get the orders checked for correctness with the Army Head-Quarters (HQ). 
I was informed that the transfer orders were in order and had been issued due to some special circumstances. I had been personally selected by the then COAS, General K.Sundarji. I was instructed by the Corps Commander, Lieutenant General K.K. Hazari, a senior paratrooper himself, to visit his HQ for briefing, as he was aware of the background. He told me in confidence that some of my predecessors in the Para Brigade were allegedly suspected to have been involved in the mismanagement of funds, and there was a need for a new commander who, while having an impeccable personal record, should ideally also not be part of the fraternity to avoid any preconceived biases or prejudices. And so I embarked upon a new experience and yet another challenge, as I received the great honour of leading the only Airborne Brigade of the Indian Army.   

There were some friends who advised me against accepting the appointment as they believed it might be difficult for me to do the Para jumps at my age. I, of course, dismissed such suggestions as un-soldierly and un-officer like. With my fitness levels and my focus, I was quite confident that I would be able to convert to a combat Paratrooper, although technically, at 45 years, I was overage to do my basic Para jumps. Indeed I had always been fascinated by the Paratroopers, and had wanted to train to be one earlier in my service. In 1961, while with my battalion, I had considered opting for a change to the Parachute Regiment. However, my then CO (Lt. Colonel S. S. Malhotra) had advised me against this, as he felt that transferring from such a fine unit of the 4 GR was not the right thing to do; besides the officer state in the Unit at the time did not allow this option. I had deferred to his advice then, keeping the interest of the Battalion at heart. Now that I could fulfil my long-standing wish while taking on the larger task set to me, there was no question in my mind that I could back down from this rare opportunity, however difficult it might seem to be. 
My interest in becoming a paratrooper actually developed due to my close association with some fine officers of the 2 PARA, who were with me at the Snow Warfare School, Gulmarg, now, known as High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS). Amongst these were the two very accomplished mountaineers and my very good friends, Captains B. P. Singh and A. S. Cheema. Interestingly, 2 PARA was one of the battalions with the 50 Para Brigade, along with 3 PARA and 7 PARA, when I assumed the command of the formation in 1985. Having had to move at very short notice from my previous post, I handed over the command of the 120 Infantry Brigade to my Deputy, Col M. S. Malik, and left for Agra after a quick round of farewell trips to 18 PUNJAB, 10 GUARDS, 4 BIHAR and I JAK LI, and the 168 Field Regiment. 
The initial reaction to my arrival at 50 Para Brigade was obviously one of surprise, with a wary coldness, as the Parachute Regiment is an intimate and close-knit formation, and I was an outsider to them. Some of them thought I may not last long in the elite formation and that I might even decline to do the Para jumps. However my predecessor was a very good friend and an excellent Commander, and he tried to dispel any such fears.  I addressed all the officers of the formation and speedily put such apprehensions at rest. I made my personal priorities very clear to everyone. These were twofold. The first was to earn my Para Wings by doing the mandatory five jumps in the earliest possible duration. I was told that the training period laid down for this was three weeks, followed by aptitude tests. I conveyed to all concerned that the luxury of so much time was not available to me. The Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) team from the U.K was scheduled to visit the Brigade on the 1st of October – exactly 10 days after I took over the command on 21st September 1985. Since I did not believe it would be correct to represent the Para Brigade as the Commander without technically qualifying as a paratrooper, the only option available to me according to my own standards, was to finish my mandatory jumps before the visit, and I was determined that I would do so. 
The deviation of rules beyond the authorised age for the new Para-inductees also needed special sanction. This entailed, to begin with, rendering a certificate to the Indian Air Force (IAF), that I was willingly undertaking Para Jumps, at my own risk. I completed my five jumps within a week after I took over the command, and on 27th September qualified as a combat paratrooper. This was very well received in the Para Brigade. They appreciated my commitment and my willingness to assume the responsibilities and duties of a paratrooper as well as my ability to do so. And so I became part of the proud ShatruJeet[1] family, and an equal among the fraternity of the paratroopers. I had an excellent team with Col J. S. Mahalwar as the Deputy, Gundu Rao as the Brigade Major (BM), and Maj Sheo Nan Singh as the Deputy Quarter Master (DQ). Major Jacob as the GSO2 (Air) and Captain De Cruz as GSO3,organised all the air aspects admirably. 
My First Jump 1985

Here, I would like to relate a small incident on the lighter side. As I prepared to leave for my first night-jump, I asked my sahayak, (soldier aide) who was a Gorkha from 3 Para, what it was like to Para jump at night? He told me with a smile and perfect sincerity, “Sir, it is most comfortable. During the day-jumps I have to close my eyes. But at night, I do not - since in any case I cannot see anything!” Though I knew it was not something that I could ever emulate, this brand of practical philosophy managed to amuse and comfort me even in the midst of my preoccupation with the procedure of the night-jump. 
In fact, it is this cheerful ability to overcome ordinary human fears with an extraordinary trust in the orders of his superiors, in higher forces, and in fate that make a Gorkha soldier so special and such a formidable fighting-man. I was suddenly reminded of an apocryphal story about the toughness of a Gorkha Johnnie, by Colonel John Masters of 2/4 G.R. In his book Bugles And the Tiger, he writes of a Gorkha soldier of the 4th Prince of Wales Own Regiment who, while accompanying a mule column, was hit on his head when the mule got restive and kicked out. The result of this contact was that the mule fractured his leg. As for the Gorkha soldier, apparently all that he suffered was a spasm of momentary annoyance at the mule’s indiscretion. Rebuking the mule for his impatience, he merely adjusted the helmet on his head - and carried on! 
The second important priority for me as the new Commander was to restore the image of the Para Brigade, which had taken a bit of a beating due to the financial mismanagement by some of my predecessors, for which a court of enquiry had already been completed. I addressed all the officers and asked them to remain vigilant. I also decided to start on a clean slate; and that I would sort out the irregularities without any blame games in a systematic manner and with no finger-pointing. I directed them to get on with all the planned events and the training schedule in earnestness. I asked my staff - Colonel Mahalwar (Deputy Commander), Major ‘Gundu’ Rao (BM), Major Sheonan Singh (DQ) and Major Jacob (GSO 2 Air) – to monitor the training schedule, and highlighted my priorities while implementing the training instruction of the Command HQ. This was commenced with full enthusiasm by all the units of the formation. To my great satisfaction, the units responded exceedingly well and the Brigade undertook exercises at brigade and battalion level with full complement including heavy drops of loads, at Gwalior, Ex TRI- SHAKTI at Goa and the Brigade Demonstration drop at the Tilpat ranges. 
Preparing to Jump from an AN 32

The formation also undertook trials of new equipment and other Para specific stores as ordered by the Army HQ. During the early part of my tenure, the new parachute (D5) and the new transport fleet of IL 76 (GAJRAJ) including heavy platform drops had been inducted, which entailed converting the entire Brigade from AN 32 Aircrafts and PTR (M) Parachutes to the newer fleet. This would obviously take time and we decided to train one sub-unit per major unit and platoon strength per minor unit of the Brigade. To begin with, I had to undertake the jumps along with my Unit Commanders, which is done as a customary demonstration jump. However, there were two fatalities in quick succession when a sub unit of 3 PARA was converting to the new parachutes. Initially, we could not understand the reason for this. On detailed examination, we discovered that this was because the D-5 parachute is a two-stage chute, where the smaller chute after the jump initiates the deployment of the main chute. Since the barrel of the 7.62 mm Rifle we were using was longer than the AK-47 (which the Russians use) the chord of the smaller chute of the D5 parachute at times would get entangled with the barrel of  the rifles, so that the main chute would fail to open. This led to the ‘Roman Candle Jump’, as the paratrooper failed to react and deploy the reserve parachute. We only realised this after the second such accident occurred, and after repeated checks of all the equipment, consultations with Russian experts, and simulations of the action of the jump on ground. This led to our decision to thereafter jump only with 9 mm carbines till the Brigade was equipped with the AK series rifles ex import. 
Here, I must mention a very fine tradition that the Para Brigade follows. Whenever there is a fatal accident while jumping, in order to restore the confidence and morale of the Brigade, there is a Command Jump led by the Commander and the Commanding Officers - just as the Indian Air Force does in the case of an aircraft crash. The value of retaining such traditions that the Armed Forces still follow, cannot be emphasised enough. It is the spirit that powers these traditions, and the complete camaraderie that is inculcated and honed through them, which make the Indian Armed Forces one of the finest in the world even today.

[1] The symbol and mascot of the formation is the Shatrujeet