Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Politico-military interface in India Does it meet the challenges of future armed conflicts?

by Gen V P Malik (retd)

ONE of the cornerstones of a democracy is a healthy politico-military relationship. But what has been witnessed in the recent past is an unhealthy row over the age of the last Army Chief, the attempted bribe to purchase Tatra vehicles from BEML, a public sector undertaking, deliberate leakage of a classified letter to the Prime Minister on defence preparedness, and the deep suspicion over the movement of Army units on training near Delhi.

There is also deep discontent among the armed forces veterans and widows who retain an umbilical connection with serving soldiers and maintain traditional camaraderie and kinship. They feel cheated over pension disparities and anomalies by the civilian bureaucracy and an unsympathetic political leadership. As a result, they have been organising rallies, fast unto death agitations, and surrender of war and gallantry medals to the President to draw public and political attention. The general impression is that the political leadership takes little or no interest in the armed forces’ advice to protect their hierarchal status in the government and society. The relationship is far from healthy.

A major cause for the fragility of politico-military relationship is that instead of maintaining ‘political control’, India practices a unique system of ‘bureaucratic control’ over the military. There is hardly any discourse between the political and military leaders on geo-political and security-related environment, strategies and defence planning for conflict contingencies. My aim here is to draw attention to these strategic aspects.

Over the last few decades, with greater focus on peace and economic development, the approach to security has become more liberal. There is greater consciousness of the comprehensive nature of security. That includes the traditional defence-related threats as well as societal, economic and environmental challenges. Globalisation and regional cooperation are the buzz words in international relations.

Prevention of collateral damage in conflicts and violation of human rights have become matters of serious global concern. A war as an instrument of foreign policy has become increasingly unviable due to international pressures, very high costs and casualties. Sub-conventional conflicts and armed violence have become more prevalent.

Although there is a greater likelihood of limited conventional wars than all-out wars, the armed forces cannot afford to take any chance. They have to be prepared for an elongated spectrum of conflicts, ranging from aid to civil authority, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism to conventional and nuclear wars. They require careful prioritising of roles and missions. Forces require greater versatility and flexibility. These strategic and technology-driven considerations impact the decision-making apparatus and conduct of warfare.

For example, separation between the tactical, operational and strategic levels of warfare is blurring. Enhanced mobility, long reaches in targeting, improved communications and more intrusive command and control have obscured tactical and strategic boundaries. It is a situation where a junior military officer is expected to understand political considerations and the political leader to know the tactical and operational considerations.

We need more integrated command and control systems for quick decision-making at all levels of command. The cycle of collection, collation, synthesis and dissemination of information needs to be speeded up, as also the subsequent actions and feedback.

War fighting has to be conducted in a more integrated manner. Integration has two aspects: greater and faster politico-military interaction and coordination, and integration of the three armed forces verticals at the top for the purpose of defence planning and force structuring, operational planning, integrated advice for budgetary economy and common personnel and logistics-related policies.

In any future conflict, there would have to be complete understanding between the political and military leaderships on the political and military objectives and the time available to the armed forces to execute their missions. That would be crucial for planning and conduct of operations. We can also expect fairly rigid political terms of reference as were given during the Kargil war.

There are some other challenges likely to be encountered. The military would be required to react quickly to an evolving crisis which may erupt with surprise. It would be expected to arrest deterioration of the situation on the ground and regain the initiative without any loss of time.

Domestic and international political support for a military operation will depend upon its ability to operate in a manner that conforms to political legitimacy —- avoidance of civilian casualties, minimisation of collateral damage. This will require careful and calibrated orchestration of military operations, diplomacy and the political environment. Continuous control of the escalatory ladder will require close political-military interaction.

Militarily, the greatest challenge could be in the political reluctance to commit a pro-active engagement and its insistence to retain the authority for approving not just key military moves but also many operational decisions.

There would be heavy reliance on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance by political and military leaderships before committing optimal resources. Drones and surgical strikes would be a common option. Employment of ground forces across the borders could be discouraged or delayed due to fear of casualties and difficulty in disengagement.

Information operation is already important. The requirement to achieve and retain the moral high ground and deny that to the adversary would need a comprehensive and sophisticated media, public affairs and information campaign.

As the size and complexity of nuclear arsenal in the region increases, different kinds of complications would emerge. The armed forces would have to remain in the decision-making loop.

Such a strategic scenario demands (a) keeping the military leadership in the security and strategic decision-making loop, and (b) closer direct politico-military interface in war and peace (when we must prepare for war contingencies), and not the ‘bureaucratic control’ kind that exists today. This leads me to ask certain questions.

Does our political leadership have critical understanding of security-related strategic issues and implications of military employment and institutional conduct? Are they adequately conversant with military purposes, capabilities, constraints and effects? If not, should they depend more on military or the generalist bureaucratic advice?

Why do our armed forces continue to suffer serious shortage of weapons and equipment year after year? Why does India after 65 years of Independence and fighting so many wars have to import over 70 per cent of its defence equipment from abroad?

War as Clausewitz noted is continuation of politics by other means. Recent conflicts have involved a much greater level of integration of politics, diplomacy and military planning and execution than in the past. Even when a decision to employ the military is made, the political leadership has to monitor its escalatory ladder. In practice, there is continuing erosion of the dividing lines between war and politics.

Unlike other democracies of the world, the political leadership in India has managed to sideline the military leadership except when faced with an imminent conflict or a crisis situation. There is no politico-military interface; interaction is mostly through civilian bureaucracy. The national security framework is not in sync with the needs of new security challenges or healthy civil-military relations. There is an urgent need, therefore, to re-engineer our national security paradigm and defence management structure. The writer is a former Chief of Army Staff.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Views of Brig Paranjape insight into ECHS problems..

On Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 11:48 AM, Diwakar Paranjape wrote:
Brig D A Paranjape,VrC Retired] J-22,Salunke Vihar, Phone - [020]26853531 Pune. 411022. Email : 25 Jun 2012.
To, ECHS- Over Sight Committee. Sir, E C H S – FUNCTIONING :OVER VIEW.

At the out- set, let me congratulate all the members of the committee for having been nominated on this committee. You have an enormous task ahead of you and only sky will be the limiting factor for your services to the august body of veterans.

I wish to present two events before you. Please draw your own inferences for the betterment of the medical services being provided to veterans.

Event -1.

It was the year of 1980–81. I was posted as DS [Lt Col] at Senior Command Wing of College of Combat, Mhow. My wife was losing weight. [15kg in three months.] We went MH, Mhow where only services of Med Specialists were available. His medicines brought us not much of a relief. So with some civilian doctor friends, we went to Indore to learn that the investigation & treatment would cost us approx R. 40 to 50 thousands. I showed those papers to the Med Specialists at MH, Mhow. He said at best, he could refer us to Army Hospital, Delhi or Comd Hospital, Pune. We opted for Pune as we are from Pune where, support of relatives and friends is available.

At Comd Hospital, Pune we came across Lt Col Shetty [Endowcrinologist, who later retired as Maj Gen] who advised for a blood test [T-3 / T-4/ TSH]. This facility was not available at Comd Hospital, Pune. He gave a chit and suggested that we go to KEM Hospital, Pune. When we went KEM Hospital, Pune, the concerned Doctor said that it is a great honour to receive a request from an Army Doctor. I told him that the patient is also an Army Offr’s wife. That Doctor stated that normally, they take blood samples once a week, and give the report in the following week. Since it is request from an Army Doctor, for Army Offr’s wife, the blood sample will be collected immediately and the report was handed over on the following day. All of us appreciated the respect shown by a civilian Doctor to a note from Army Doctor and the concern shown to the family of an Army Offr.

Later, this facility of blood test [T -3/ T -4 /TSH] has also been made available at Comd Hospital, Pune.


I retired from Army service in 1994. As at present my wife is under treatment at CTC, Pune. The other day, the Doctor [Cardiologist] suggested blood test [T3/T4/TSH] to confirm his opinion / observations . With his chit, we went to a Mini Lab co-located with Endocrinology Dept, MH Pune. We were directed to go to OPD for Civilians where blood samples are collected.[ Incidently,on numerous earlier occasions, we have also been going to this Mini Lab, co-located with Endocrinology Dept, as and when the Doctors asked for this [T3 /T4 /TSH] blood test.] When we went to OPD for giving blood sample, we were told that veterans cannot be entertained there, and we should go to ECHS. So we went to ECHS, showed the chit given by the Cardiologist at CTC, Pune. We were then refered to Medinova Diagnostics Centre, Pune. The necessary blood tests were done, report obtained and shown to the concerned Doctor for further treatment.


You may please appreciate the concern and the respect shown by a Civilian Doctor for a Chit of an Army Doctor and the family of an Army Offr , in Event-1. Compare this with the treatment meted to a Veterans’ family by an Army Doctors, in Event – 2. You may be knowing that by virtue of co-location of AFMC with Comd Hospital, Pune, draws huge civilian crowd seeking medical attention but the same is denied to veterans.

By the Grace of God Almighty, I am still hale and hearty, so I could drive my wife from CTC, Pune -to Endocrinology Dept of MH Pune, - to Civil OPD Dept & their Blood sample collection Centre, -to ECHS, and to Medinova Diagnostics Centre. Then Collect the report on a specified day and go back to CTC Hospital, Pune. What will be the plight of a family of an OR / widows/ handicapped person ?

I was happy as blood- tests for my family were done, not withstanding that it was ECHS that has paid for these tests. I am not aware of the Fund Position of ECHS, but Iam aware that there are lot many pending bills at your end, perhaps, for the want of funds. Under these circumstances, it is imperative to use these meager funds judiciously. We should use facilities available with Army Hospitals.


In a place like Pune, all the specialist facilities are available in Command Hospital. Pune. Pune is also a fairly big station. [I think it is- a class-II station]. There is a large no of veteran population in and around Pune. So one of the pattern that I would like to suggest is to have three to four polyclinics in the suburbs who could dispense standard medicines for routine ailments. You will agree with me that with age, BP / sugar/ Arthritis etc are comman ailments and routine check-up with routine medicines would suffice. Various Specialists can visit the polyclinics on fixed days. In emergency and complicated cases will have to go to Command Hospital, Pune.

This type of a model was introduced By Lieut Gen Harwant Singh, when he was GOC, 16 Corps, as there was far too much of a load on MH Jammu. So he established Poly-Clinics at four suburbs of Jammu where there is a large population of veterans. Since I was a Station Commander and a Brigade Commander, I am aware that this system worked extremely well. While creating ECHS, this model was later attempted to be copied by Lt Gen S Mehta [Retired as GOC-in C, Western Comd] when he was with AG’s Branch, Army Hq. I am certain, that now that a Special Committee has been set-up, we can improve on this model.


These are some of the thoughts that came to my mind. I am certain with this newly formed committee will deliberate and bring forward a model to the satisfaction of all veterans. Our best wishes will always be there with you in all your endeavours.


Sincerely Yours , Brigadier D A Paranjape,VrC [Retired]

ECHS..Mumbai problems...

trilok kamlesh wrote:

Dear Col Chaturvedi,

I am forwarding copy of the mail received from Daljeet Anand. Although I do not know Daljeet personally but I wish to second his concern for veterans like us residing in Thane(Maharashtra). The nearest Poly Clinic is in Kanjur Marg, a distance od approx 15 kms( time taken approx one to one and a half hours depending upon transport/traffic) and Asvini Hospital approx 40 kms (time approx two and a half to three hours or maybe more). Hence there is a need to have a Poly Clinic in Thane and empanelled Hospital like Jupiter Hospital in Thane or Fortis Hospital in Mulund.

I hope you will take up this matter with the concerned authorities. Regards

Col Trilok Rawal

Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2012 02:59:08 +0800 From: Subject: [IESM-1669] Fwd: Impalnt Hospital for Mumbai/Thane & Navi mumbai To:

Reminder...........General Kadiya Sir..........Please listen to Mumbaikar Veterans

Subject: Re: [indianveterans] Fwd: Referred from To:,,,


Dear Pathak / General Sir,

We in Mumbai do not have any implant Hospital from where ECHS card holders can get emergency treatment in the event of emergency. The Aswini hospital is 40 to 60 kms away from Nevi Mumbai/Thane & Virar.

The Fortis Hospital & Heernandani hospitals were in list of implant hospital for ECHS card holders till March end 1012.

The marketing staff from Fortis Hospital has informed that the ECHS service is withdrawn the treatment for the ECHS Card holder from April 2012 as Rs. 50 lacks is to be paid to Fortis from MOD for the services rendered to ECHS Card holder for the year 2010 & 11.The deposit of 10L is yet to receive by the said hospital.

Hope the situation here in Mumbai to reach Ashwini hospital from suburbs in case of emergency is known to every one.

I request IESM to take up this matter urgently with MOD & resolve. The average Ex. from Forces in Mumbai are settled and are within the age of 60+ to 75+ . These nos. are in thousands.

If we Mumbaikar need to approach any forum , please advice.

Waiting for your reply with action from IESM end. Regards,

Daljeet Anand 9323942820 .

ECHS Oversight Commitee visits Lodhi Road on 28 /29 Jun 2012

The ECHS Oversight Committee (OSC) will visit Polyclinics in Delhi as per following program. Polyclinic Lodhi Road. 28 & 29 June. Polyclinic BH. 2 and 3 July. During the visit Committee members would be interacting with ECHS users. It is suggested that if any points are to be brought to the notice of the OSC, these may please be written down on a piece of paper, giving the issue in point form, including essential details like dates etc, along with Name, E Mail id and mobile number of the person giving the point, and handed over to Officer interacting with users/ me. This may Kindly be brought to the notice of all Officers, JCOs and OR, particularly to those not having access to E mails. Thanks, and looking forward to working together to improve Veteran Healthcare. With Warm Regards, Col RP Chaturvedi, IESM ECHS Rep A-35, Sector 36, Noida 201303. Mob: +919891279035 E Mail ID: