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Rajesh Kumar Sharma asked: What is the role of the infantry in capability enhancement of the armed forces?

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  • Vivek Chadha replies: Capability enhancement of the armed forces in today’s battlefield milieu is representative of a synergised and cohesive approach to the process. Therefore, the armed forces as an entity are not merely the sum of the capability of its constituents, but the integrated culmination of their ability to function in unison. This implies that every constituent of the forces, which very much includes the infantry, would be an integral part of the process of capability enhancement.

    In India’s context, the role of infantry is further highlighted by virtue of infantry centric responsibilities in a number of spheres of operations like counter insurgency and counter terrorism. The specific aim of enhancing this capability has been initiated through a number of initiatives. A highly trained, equipped and networked soldier as visualised in the “Futuristic Infantry Soldier as a System (FINSAS)” programme currently underway for the army is one amongst the many initiatives in this context. The initiative visualises a highly networked soldier, with better weaponry and communication facilities. It also aims to make him more agile, mobile and lethal. The enhancement of educational levels for intake, emphasis on further improving this capability while in service and providing opportunities to imbibe technology in an increasingly automated environment are some other initiatives in this regard.

    The recent experiences of the US forces, both in Iraq and Afghanistan have also proved that shock and awe may be important, however, an army finally needs “boots on ground” to achieve desired objectives. It was also demonstrated in Libya that the ability to force victory is finally achieved through the infantry, which needs to capture and occupy ground to force a favourable decision. Therefore, the role of Infantry in any form of capability enhancement will remain critical. However, as mentioned earlier this will be in concert with other constituents of the force.