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Analysis Of Sansad TV Discussion : ”Logistics Challenges in Border Areas”

Analysis Of Sansad TV Discussion: ”Logistics Challenges in Border Areas”

Relevance

”GS 3: Various Security Forces & Agencies & Their Mandate”

Introduction

  • The military is going full steam ahead on hardware acquisitions, but when it comes to Revolution in Military Logistics (RML), we are not up to the mark.
  • It is well recognised that the Indian Armed Forces operate in some of the most adverse geographical terrains in the world.
  • Providing logistics for the geographically difficult terrains(border areas) in adverse situations is the biggest challenge.
  • Thus, we need to change in outlook on this very important area that is often taken for granted.

What is Raison D’etre?

The Raison D’etre for any military logistic system is to ensure that the correct item and service is provided to the end-user, at the right time, place, and in correct quantity and quality required for the situation.

Importance of Logistics Support

  • If additional troops have to be deployed and be in a higher state of readiness on borders, logistics support become very crucial – from procurement to getting the supplies to soldiers at the place where they are deployed.
  • During wartime, the timely logistics supply often decides the winning or losing side.
  • Proper logistics support before the passes close and the roads are cut off has a decisive role in wartime.
  • Most military campaign failures could be attributed to a mismatch between the operational plan and the logistic support capabilities.

Indian Defence Services Logistics System

  • The Armed Forces have grown in the framework inherited from the British system which was in vogue till Independence.
  • Indian Army (IA) has three services, namely Army Service Corps (ASC), Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), and Electronics & Mechanical Engineers (EME) for the provision of logistics support.
  • ASC also provides victual support to Indian Air Force (IAF) and to Indian Navy (IN) and to Para Military Forces (PMF) on as required basis.
  • For repair and maintenance of equipment, IAF and IN depend on their respective systems.
  • Military Engineer Services (MES) and Army Medical Corps (AMC) provide infrastructure support and medical support respectively.
  • Similarly for other logistic services, the three Services have their own systems and procedures.
  • The IA has three Services providing the logistic support with a system of certain coordination amongst them. On the contrary, the IN and the IAF have their respective combined logistic cadres.

What can we learn from global players?

  • Functionally, the US, French and British systems are similar to each other. All of them have created a dedicated logistics cadre.
  • The US and British armies have opted for inducting officers at the junior levels from the QM and MGO branches into the logistics branch.
  • But they have been allowed to retain their parent branch status and specialisation – to enable them continuity, promotional prospects, and also to retain their skills and emotional/regimental bonding with their original branch.
  • The French and the Germans have an Armament Branch separate from the Combat Arms. The point to note here is, that in all these countries, the promotion prospects in the Combat Arms and the Support Services are comparable.
  • From the outset, USSR and China have had a dedicated logistic branch to support the military.
  • The erstwhile Soviet military had a dedicated Marshal of Soviet Union as Deputy Minister of Defence, responsible for the logistics of the entire Armed Forces. He was also the coordinating authority at the national level.
  • The Indian military is perhaps the only modern armed forces in the world, which has the distinction of not believing in a joint logistics organisation.

What GOI is Doing?

  • Under DMA, the Logistics structure is being fully revamped to make it more efficient.
  • In this regard, three Joint Services Study Groups (JSSG) are developing common logistic policies for services that will enhance all supply chain functions such as planning, procurement, inventory maintenance, distribution, disposal and documentation.
  • A pilot project based on the establishment of Joint Logistic Nodes (JLN) each at Mumbai, Guwahati and Port Blair has already rolled off.
  • A concerted effort is being made to move forward from a Single Service approach to integrated planning and execution.
  • Towards this, three Joint Doctrines have been formulated in the last one year, while four new joint doctrines namely Capstone, Space, Cyber and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) are at an advantage stage.
  • In order to enhance Combat Capability and balance defence expenditure, more than 270 logistic installations of the Indian Army have been closed or scaled-down, resulting in substantial savings to the exchequer, besides increasing the “Teeth to Tail” ratio.

Way Forward

  • A common logistics philosophy at the level of the three Services and for the paramilitary forces (Assam Rifles and Coast Guard) needs to be enunciated and implemented.
  • Modern logistics, therefore, requires a networked system, supported by improved forecasting, efficient supply chain management based on a good and secure communication network (road, rail, air, maritime and cyber) and adequate warehousing.
  • As far as possible, Performance-Based Logistics (PBL) should be made the norm for all future contracts, whether for procurement or maintenance/logistics with private as well as public sector entities.
  • At the organisational level, Armed Forces should be integrated in true spirit with the MoD. Certain appointments like JS (Aerospace), JS (Electronic Systems) and JS (Naval Systems) should be made tenable by the service officers in rotation.
  • FICCI and CII should be associated with the DDP for better coordination between Industry and MoD.
  • Also, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in tandem with MES and the National Highway Authority of India need to improve infrastructure in the border areas by leveraging the revolutions in the domain of civil engineering.

Conclusion

The centrality of logistics in the current operational scenario especially in Network Centric operations should be accepted. An integrated logistics system with an IT-enabled inventory management system is the need of the hour. OFB, DPSUs and MES need to reinvent themselves in conjunction with DRDO and Academia to face the new technological challenges. Finally, the burgeoning market and ever-growing industry be associated to optimise the resources. As Amateurs discuss strategy, Professionals talk logistics.

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