Though precision-guided munitions are relatively more costly than standard high-explosive shells, these 'smart' munitions are more effective since only a direct hit from a 'dumb' artillery shell can destroy a bunker.
Two years after the Kargil conflict, it is time for stocktaking. Among the major lessons, it had clearly emerged that for too long the nation had been dependent on only the grit, determination and indomitable courage of infantrymen to keep the peace and the borders and restore adverse situations. While the battles will continue to be ultimately won by infantrymen launch-ing physical assault under withering enemy fire to capture tactically’ important features of terrain. state-of-the-art military technology can and must be employed to reduce the present dependence on the lives of hundreds of young men to safeguard territorial integrity. Also, the country’s Army’s heroic efforts to re-capture the high-altitude mountain ridges from Pakistan’s regular army forces in the Drass, Batalik. Kaksar and Mashkoh Valley areas of Kargil district had dramatically high-sighted the extent to which assaulting troops are dependent on overwhelming artillery firepower. The much-wanted ongoing revolution in military affairs ( RMA ) must be exploited to reduce army casualties on the battlefield Other inescapable requirements include sophisticated surveillance. early warning and target acquisition devices and precision strike munitions so that firepower and ma-‘en re can he optimally synergized to gain advantage in the battlefield. state-of-the-art satellite, aerial and ground surveillance systems are necessary to ensure that a constant vigil can be maintained on the nation’s frontiers. Military satellites with a resolution less than one – metre and multispectral (optical, infrared and radar photography) capability is necessary for effective surveillance by day and night. Satellite surveillance along can never be adequate. It needs to he beefed up and an acceptable degree of redundancy must be achieved through the use of remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs. also called unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs and ground surveillance means such as battlefield surveillance radars (BFSRs) and un-attended ground sensors (UGS) in remote areas. Regular air force and army aviation reconnaissance stories need to be flown to detect intrusions and offensive military activity across the borders which flying within own territory. Electronic surveillance also provides excellent means to gain information on plans and movement of regular enemy troops, irregulars and terrorists. The Indian Air Force (1AF) must provide independent inputs and supplement the army’s efforts through its own reconnaissance flights using long-look optical systems (LLOS). infrared line scan (IRLS) and synthetic aperture radar (SARI. The IAF should acquire additional surveillance assets, where necessary. and feed its inputs to a national – level intelligence collection. collation. compilation. analysis. synthesis and dissemination centre. Quite obviously, HUMINT (human intelligence) means cannot be neglected and need to appropriately strengthened. Only then will it be possible to develop a comprehensive border surveil-lance and intelligence acquisition plan to defeat a belligerent adversary’s nefarious designs. When a responsive. real-time intelligence dissemination system is instituted, the concerned field commanders can be informed well in time to enable them to thwart infiltration and intrusion plans.
Once a threat from across the borders has been discerned, or the adversary” manages to evade detection and is able to penetrate India’s frontiers and establish himself inside Indian territory, the intruding forces must he destroyed quickly so that the aggression can he vacated. The artillery, firing large – calibre high explosive shells and 155-mm precision strike ammunition. is suited for causing destruction, particularly in high-altitude mountainous terrain. To-day. laser-guided artillery shells can destroy hunkers, bridges and small buildings with a single – shot kill prob-ability as high as 80 per cent. Targets which can be seen by the troops in contact with the enemy can he ‘designated’ (illuminated by a Laser beam) by a ground-based artillery observer (spotter) carrying a laser target Designator and those which care behind crest lines and on reverse slopes, can be designated by an airborne observer in an army aviation helicopter or. in future. even by a U AV. Improved conventional munitions (ICMs) artillery shells carrying anti-personnel grenades and lethal ‘air-burst’ ammunition can he ‘dispensed’ over soft and rest areas. As these are not precision strike munitions. these have to be accurately directed using commando artillery observers or TV camera equipped liAk’s to achieve the desired effect. Though precision-guided munitions (PGMs) are relatively more costly than standard high explosive (HE) : shells, these ‘smart’ munitions are more effective since only a direct hit from a ‘dumb’ artillery shell can destroy a hunker. As and when PGMs are made available in large quantities. artillery can cause much greater destruction and indirectly reduce the number of casual-ties that the country has to suffer when the inevitable assault is finally launched. Long-range multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRLs) such as Smerch can carry the battle deep into enemy territory and his sensitive command centres and reserves can he hit with impunity, Other force multipliers include gun locating radars for effective counter-bombardment. UAVs equipped with TV cameras for target acquisition and engagement and damage assessment. powerful binoculars for target engagement by day and long-range night vision devices for the same purpose at night. Such equipment would increase the capability or artillery to add to its winning edge on the modern battlefield by several orders of magnitude. Today, when the nation is at peace. the Indian army continues to be engaged in fighting a war – even though it is only a proxy war and not a full-blown conventional war. In the vitiated security environment within the country and in the southern Asian region, it is certain that the army will continue to play a dominant part in ensuring that national security is never compromised. It is up to the present and future leaders of India to ensure that this tried and tested national institutions remains in fine fettle. Army men take pride in their calling and engage themselves whole-heartedly in the pursuit of professional excellence so that they can serve their country with honour. Passionately patriotic. with an apolitical and secular ethos and scrupulously apolitical. the Indian Army is, without doubt, a strong and unyielding bastion for national unity and integrity. This bastion must be made invincible by exploiting the revolutionary technological developments that are blowing across the strategic landscape.