MOD needs Political Will
June 28, 2019 IAS/Allied Services control of National Defence makes India very weak
A. Critical situation:
National security policy and control of armed forces is rightly vested in the elected government by the constitution. However this control is not exercised by the elected and accountable government – RM and PM, but by unelected, unaccountable and unsuitable bureaucrats.
This has four consequences:
severe equipment gaps in critical areas
day-to-day functioning of armed forces is compromised
Armed forces morale is low and officer recruitment is difficult leading to officer shortages because armed forces officers are treated like second-class citizens by bureaucracy
trust in government is eroded and good work/good intentions of PM and RM is undone
RM and PM are unaware of these issues because they get advice only from the bureaucrats who are the source of the problem. Serving armed forces officers cannot articulate these issues for fear of military discipline, so this note is an attempt to bring the issues to the attention of political leadership and also suggest solutions.B. Heart of the problem:
Unlike any other country in the world, the Raksha Mantralaya and many parts of military service delivery and administration is run by IAS, IDS and IDAS officers who have no interest, passion or expertise for national security issues. Sadly they also have no empathy and concern for the nation’s soldiers.
This leads to them applying completely unsuitable frameworks borrowed from their experience as revenue collectors, license givers and civil administrators to a highly dynamic domain defined by high technology, complex multi-dimensional threats, life and death decisions and highly complex equipment, logistics and procurement issues. Some examples of the problem:5 Year Defence plans are not funded
– Armed forces make perspective plans which are then translated into 5-year equipping plans and approved by govt i.e. CCS. But these are just paper exercises as budgetary support comes from the annual budget. So these 5 year plans are meaningless unless they are funded at formulation i.e. once CCS approves. CCS approval carries no weight because all funding decisions will be decided by exigencies of annual budget.Procurement process
– There is an 11-step procurement process from AON (Acceptance of Necessity) to signing of contract. This process is simply not functioning and the issues are well known so I will not elaborate here. Key issue is that a non-domain expert and non-caring bureaucrat needs to approve every level. And our enemies can sabotage at any level by asking a question or raising an objection. The system is designed to stop procurement, not support it.Higher Defence Managemen
t – There are 5 Secy level officers in Raksha Mantralaya. They are technically equal to COAS and are from IAS/IDS + 1 from DRDO. They run the ministry, control information flow to RM and are the main advisers. Shri Parrikar and Shri Fernandez tried to break their stranglehold and instil some empathy for armed forces. For example, Shri Parrikar discovered $ 3 billion lying in a forgotten account, he also ordered Raksha Mantralaya to stop fighting court cases against veterans where lower courts had already decided in their favour – there were 1000s of cases where the entire might of the government was being used against veterans. He found cases where Indian firms exported shoes to western armies but were not allowed to supply to Indian army. Shri Fernandez famously asked bureaucrats to go to Siachen when they refused to sanction heating stoves for the army in Siachen. It is absurd and sad that bureaucrats can decide on simple things like heating stoves for the army.
Armed Forces are losing faith in Modi govt due to bureaucracy – Despite great efforts by Modi government, IAS/IDS/IDAS lobby has destroyed all the good work. MES (IDES) civil officer status has been made higher than the army officers they report to and so they refuse to attend station commander's conferences. Recently TA/DA of officers proceeding on official duty was cancelled because of shortage of funds. This created a lot of pain and bad blood. NFU is another issue https://theprint.in/opinion/bjp-is-usin ... ey/208732/
C. Solution - Civil service raj has to go:
The above examples are a very small sample of the problems created by overarching civil service raj in defence. This is hurting not only national defence but destroying trust. If the government wants India to have a credible defence then the following is needed :1. Restore status of armed forces
: COAS/CAS/CNS should be equal to Minister of Sate Independent Charge. Army Commanders should be equivalent to Minister of State/Governor of States. Lt Gens below Army Commanders should be equal to Secy Govt of India, Maj Gens to Additional Secy and so on and so forth.2. Domain experts should run Raksha Mantralaya
: Of the 5 Secy Level officers in MoD, all except Secy Defence Production and Secy R&D should be from defence forces. Secy Defence Production should be a senior professional from Industry (not PSUs). No IAS/IDS/IDAS officer should be at any Additional Secy level and at Jt Secy level 50% officers should be from armed forces and 25 % from industry. Balance can be from civil services but they should have served at least 5 years in the armed forces.3. Abolish the 11 Class A services in defence: There are 11 Class A services in defence including the IAS
. Some prominent ones are – IDS (Indian Defence Service), IDAS (Indian Defence Accounts Service), IDSE (Indian Defence Service of Engineers), IOFBS (Indian Ordnance Factory Board Service). This creates a massive bureaucratic stranglehold not only on higher defence management, but also in day-to-day functioning at cantonments and fighting formations. Some examples were given in Section B para 4. About 30% of entire defence salaries budget goes in these. Accommodation, perks etc are same as IAS and take a big toll on cantonment resources where army officers who have come from harsh border environments do not get houses but these civil officers do. About 60% of these jobs are redundant.
The rest should be done by armed forces officers on deputations to these roles. This will reduce waste, bring much better management and also solve the massive career progression issues in armed forces. This will ensure that armed forces become a more lucrative career option and shortages of officers will reduce.
Detailed proposals can be given if there is genuine interest in resolving the issue. The intention of this note is to give a high-level picture of the critical issue with national defence to the political leadership. The author hopes that a study group of civil services officers will not be constituted to look at these proposals. That will defeat the purpose of this analysis.
These issues can only be resolved by political will.
RAMAKANT TIWARI6 July 2019 at 08:44
PM and RM act on advice / recommendations of three Service Chiefs. So they should speak out first.
Vidur12 July 2019 at 00:11
Please see my comment below
Vidur12 July 2019 at 00:11
I am a IAS officer currently posted in the Rakhsha Mantralaya. I endorse the article and would like to point out to the commenter above that Service Chiefs are constrained by need to maintain morale and so cannot speak out publicly. It will shatter morale which is already severely stressed. They do make their views known to the government but cannot be as comprehensive and candid as the issue demands for obvious reasons. Also it would be very pertinent to remember the case of Lt Gen Sinha, Lt Gen Bhagat, Admiral DK Joshi and Gen VK Singh. The first two were outspoken and were superseded for army chief. The third was forced out and the last was hounded.