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Security of the country is the responsibility of each & every citizen, not just the Armed Forces

By Priti Prakash | PUBLISHED: 02, Aug 2023, 19:39 pm IST | UPDATED: 22, Dec 2023, 21:30 pm IST

Security of the country is the responsibility of each & every citizen, not just the Armed Forces New Delhi: Former Army Chief Gen Naravane says that Security of the country is the responsibility of each & every citizen, not just the Armed Forces.

In a rare interaction talking on a host of issues to reporters the Gereral admitted that India does not have a fully articulated National Security Strategy in place and that as per our Foreign policy we are guided by two factors. No extra territorial ambitions ie we do not covet any one else’s territory. And secondly we don’t seek to impose our way of life or will on anybody else.

Q. In the context of the geo political situation specially with regards to China how does the Defence architecture fit in!

A. Any instability on any of our border countries whether Nepal, Myanmar or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, has an impact on our security.  Any disturbance on these borders results in rise in narco terrorism, transnational smuggling, drug trafficking etc. Having stable neighbors is actually an asset as far as our national security is concerned. And so any thing happening in the larger region of the world will affect us. Like Ukraine, or even Africa. And so when a National Security Strategy is formulated or when we look into the threat perception we look at the entire regional & global environment.

Wars are not fought by armed forces alone, wars are fought by nations. Higher Defence organization is needed to bring all ministeries on board in case of war. All ministries have to know about it & should be on board. So like railways has to be on board to mobilze the army, for fuel stocking that Ministry has to be on board & therefore the Higher Defence organization is needed. And ultimately the decision goes to the Cabinet Committee on Security and then the Parliament is the final authority to declare war on any country.  

Yes, China is a considerable adversary since long and will be in future. In the past we were reticent in calling out China, we would call them as our northern adversary. Only post Doklam & post Galwan that hestiency & shyness has gone. We have reoriented our forces from the western to the northern front. It is nothing new & was always under consideration. Dokhlam & Galwan were catalyst for the change. Now we are in a better position to tackle anything that China does.

Q.  How is Technology changing the way we are fighting wars!

A. Warfare is constantly evolving. we need to adapt to the changes of warfare as we keep using the traditional way of warfare in terms of weapons system. Aircrafts may change to adapt in its unmanned avtar. Tanks too may become unmanned. I read somewhere that Navy is launching its unmanned ship which will have no crew on board. This way of no human involvement will change the way we fight. Now is the time that we have to start thinking how these things can evolve to meet the future wars that we are likely to fight. Given the nature of warfare boots on ground will always be there. Only when boots are on ground can you claim that terriroty as yours. Russia Ukraine an example. Tech can aid & assist but that infantry man will always remain.

Q. There is talk in political circles that we want to take PoK back. How do you see it!

A. Taking back of PoK is nothing new. A 1994 resolution was passed that the entire PoK belongs to India. No harm in making such statements…it keeps your enemy off balance. If we send people to take PoK he will also deploy 50,000 men. He'll also spend money there. Keep ur enemy guessing.

Q. US is pressurizing Bangladesh to get control of St Martin’s island which Bangladesh has in its southern seas. What may be the ramifications.

A. As far as Indian Ocean is concerned we must try to keep the IO free of any foreign bases. We are quite capable of looking after our own security, we have good relations with all our neighbors including Bangladesh. Afterall where will Bangladesh go for its export,  they will come to us. Where will their labour go, their cheaper & finished goods go…India is closer. Although we will not like any foreign bases in our backyard these countries also are aware of what is good & right for them.

Q. Your take on Alternative diplomacy (Kissinger style)

A. India has always said that we must resolve our difference through dialogue. War & violence should always be the last resort & should be avoided at all cost. A single aircraft costs 300 million. 10 planes lost means your economy is in doldrums.This is the kind of material loss other than human lives.

Q. The scheme of Agnipath and have we stopped the Gorkha recruitment from Nepal!

A. The fact is that we need a young army. To take an assault at the altitude of Tiger Hill at 15,000-16,000 ft we need young soldiers. As far as  commitment is concerned our regimental ethos in our battalions & regiments will take care of that. Time will tell whether it is good or bad. But to say not to undertake any change at all is not correct. Change is the order of the day. We have to adapt, changes are being made. As the scheme rolls out & we come to know the pros & cons, mid course correction will be done. Our constitution too has been amended 101 times. Agnipath scheme may get amended many more times as we go along. It will keep getting fine tuned to make it a success.

For Gorkhas we are having a shortfall of Nepali domicile as it is & so we had already opened recruitment to Gorkha regiments from other tribes. They will like to join the Indian Army for all the benefits that they get. They are most willing to join under the same terms & conditions. Terms & conditions will remain the same, they can come and join if they want.

Q. Can a local commander of the PLA take a decision on his own to launch a strike at india without clearances from the top.  

A. I agree, the China skirmishes must not have happened at the local commander area level. However the autocratic setup as is existing in china, sometimes local skirmishes do go out of hand. The manner in which it was orchestrated definitely show that it had a little higher level of involvement but at what level.

Q. In case of a 2 front war Pakistan & China, will India be able to handle such a war.  

A. What we have is a 2 front threat. But we do not want to fight a 2 front war. In history no one fighting a 2 front war has ever won. That is why diplomacy plays a major role in ensuring that one of the fronts is kept silent. It is the entire nation that goes to war not just the armed forces. During 71 war with Pakistan, China did not mobilize. Because we had an agreement with Russia. Indira Gandhi had gone to Russia just for that reason. That is diplomacy’s role. In war there is always a primary front & a secondary front. The secondary front will have a deterrant capability to keep things quite less some localised action takes place. All our resources will be concentrated on our primary front.

Q. Do you think Manipur is a serious internal security crisis & will it have any impact on external security.

A. If there is internal insecurity not only in our neighbouring countries but even in our border states, it is bad for our internal security. Foreign agencies will surely be there in case of internal insecurity, specially there is Chinese aid to insurgency groups helping them for so many years.

Q. How do you see the problem of Narco terrorism from Myanmar

A. Its not new, was always there. Myanmar has always been in a state of disarray, military rule, even in the best of times the govt only had control over central Myanmar not on the peripheral bordering states with India or China. Year on year the amount of drugs recovered has only increased.There are agencies in the game who benefit from the violence who will not want situation of normalcy to return. They stand to benefit with this instability.

Q. What is the Integrated Command structure & does it involve changes in MoD too.

A. Integrated Command  is restricted to the Armed forces not MoD. With the creation of CDS & Department of Military Affairs (DMA) headed by CDS wearing a different hat as Secretary DMA a certain amount of restructuring in MoD has already happened. Within MoD there is still scope for restructuring. With the creation of CDS there are 2 verticles in the MoD. DMA & Dep of Defence (DoD) headed by Defence Secretary. While DMA has a mix of military, uniformed & non uniformed persons DoD is entirely of non uniformed persons from various cadres. For proper integration there should be a provision of cross postings of both uniformed & non uniformed persons for effective functioning of MoD. As of now we have 3 agencies…space, cyber & Armed Forces Special Operation Division. These were purposely created as agencies & not as commands. Going forward if need be we could also have either one of these agencies. Recently the US has created a separate cyber command. In fact overarching all these commands, cyber threat will not be restricted to the military domain, it will be a national level threat.

Q. QUAD is not a military construct so how is maritime domain awareness seen in the context of China.

A.  I don’t think because of QUAD we will be drawn into deploying military assets specially our naval assets into the Pacific. Even if such a situation arises where some operation is required by QUAD nations then our role will be quite well defined to take care of our own backyard. So I doubt we will deploy our naval assets per se.
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