Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd.) is Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and former Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi. Click here for details profile [+}
There has been a palpable decline in the standards of morals, ethics and values as observed by officers in the armed forces and the bond between officers and men has weakened. This could be because officers with the requisite qualities are not adequately groomed to rise to the level of battalion commanders. The present appraisal system is largely to blame, it being based on a single Annual Confidential Report. A further drawback is that only superior officers report on a ratee. Inputs for appraisal need to be drawn from multiple sources geared towards a ‘360 degree evaluation’.
By abstaining from voting on the global arms trade treaty, India has exposed the treaty’s loopholes in not addressing concerns about illegal transfer of arms to terrorist organisations, insurgents groups and other non-state actors.
The security deficit can be filled to a large extent by Afghanistan’s neighbours if they can be persuaded to accept the responsibility, including by contributing troops to a UN-mandated peacekeeping force.
The terrorist strike on Minhas airbase in Kamra on August 16, in which one Pakistani soldier and nine terrorists were killed, is but the latest manifestation of the state’s inability to protect even its vital military installations.
India should seek a regional solution to the Afghan conflict, involving a regional force under a UN flag to provide a stable environment for governance and development till the Afghan National Army can take over.
Manpower costs are increasingly becoming unmanageable and are driving national security planners towards thinking creatively about what used to be called ‘affordable defence’. Despite leap-frogging from third to fourth generation weapons technologies in the short span of about two decades, modern armed forces are still far from being able to effect substantive reductions in manpower by substituting fighting personnel with innovative technologies while ensuring operational effectiveness.
Since the US and its allies have no additional troops to contribute for the fight against the radical extremist forces in Afghanistan, the net must be enlarged to include military contributions from Afghanistan’s regional neighbours, perhaps under a UN flag.