Why rising defence spending is not equal to increased military capability?
Increasing outlays only for day-to-day running of the defence services and continuous surrender of modernisation funds have attracted little attention in the mainstream media. This is the time to question why such a state has been reached and to find some answers. Here are two voices that try to make sense of this vexed question.
Premvir Das in The Tribune:
With this kind of sharing between revenue and capital, the armed forces can never be modernised adequately because new additions will continuously be overwhelmed by deletions of platforms and equipment that have become obsolete.
Concurrently, the Air and Naval components need to be strengthened; they are the wings which will facilitate our involvement in the extended neighbourhood, the zone of our strategic interest. These two Services, between them, need to get half of the Defence allocation which means that the Army has to be “rightsized” to become lean and mean. The integration of the three wings under a common superior, call him Chairman, Joint Chiefs or whatever, is a pre-requisite for optimum development and configuration of the armed forces—living in a military mode that is seven decades old — is not going to help either the military itself or the country.
So, if our defence preparedness is in distress, it is not just because enough resources are not being made available. It is a combination of many elements and no time must be lost in getting the weaknesses put right.
N.S. Sisodia in the Indian Express:
However, higher outlay alone does not translate into greater security, unless it is based on sound planning and can be optimally utilised. Both are a problem. The chronic inability to spend capital outlays under successive governments has been hampering defence modernisation. The unspent share of capital budgets has ranged from a high of 30 per cent (Rs 6458 crore) in 2002-03 to an estimated 15 per cent (Rs 7007 crore) in the current year. This problem is systemic and not peculiar to any particular political dispensation, and calls for an urgent and complete overhaul of the acquisition organisation as well as procedures, not just piecemeal changes.
On the issue of civil-military relations in this country, Abhinav Kumar makes a strong case in the Hindustan Times, as to why pride in defences services does not mean belittling the police or civil administration.