The Indian Army Friday said it was going through a transformation to emerge as a 'lethal, agile and networked' force capable of meeting challenges on both the western and eastern fronts with Pakistan and China.
Army Chief General V.K. Singh said it was planning new acquisitions and reforms in its command and control structure that would ensure it 'plugs the gaps' in its operational capability and at the same time be able to take 'quicker, effective decisions' to be responsive to situations.
For that purpose, the army was now thinking aloud on integrating its 'strategic force elements' into a single command, under which its offensive Strike Corps are placed, apart from restructuring its formation headquarters, including the army headquarters.
'The aim of the transformation is to become a more agile, lethal and networked force capable of meeting future challenges. The shift in focus is from being a threat-based force to a capability-based force with effective operational preparedness,' Singh said.
'The capability to fight in both plains and mountains is not country-specific. We are capable of facing any threats on our borders. How we do it is our problem. We will ensure - wherever the threat is, be it on one or two fronts - we will be able to meet the threats,' he said.
On the plans to create a separate strategic command, Singh said the army was trying out a lot of ideas, particularly to bring its strategic capability and assets under one command, but a decision on its headquarters and timing would be decided after a debate.
He clarified that this plan was army specific and had nothing to do with the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) or taking away its assets. SFC, a tri-service command, was set up early this century to handle India's strategic assets including its nuclear arsenal.
Under the transformation plans, Singh said the army was looking at reorganisation and restructuring of its headquarters to 'flatten' the organisation to ensure there was synergy in all of its future theatre battle plans, to enhance optimum operational capability to meet threats, practical training, achieving network centricity, and addressing tri-service jointness.'
That apart, the army would like to ensure all its finances for technological advancements and procurements are used up within the time lines every year and adequately.
For the purpose of effecting this transformation, the army was setting up 'test beds' this year.
Singh said the army intended to induct new artillery guns - four types of artillery guns are being looked at - within this year. The army has already placed orders for about 145 M777 ultralight howitzers from the US last year.
The army also intended to strengthen its air defence through procurements and to ensure its tanks are not night blind by installing devices. It also plans further procurement of deep strike capability weapons such as Pinaka rockets and BrahMos cruise missiles.
To augment its air wing, the army will procure more rotary wing assets, both transport and attack helicopters, and upgrade the existing fleet of Chetaks and Cheetahs.
On the issue of weapons and equipment being obsolete, Singh said at any point of time, any force globally, had 30 per cent modern systems, 40 percent current technology and 30 percent in some stage of obsolescence.
On the possibility of renewing military exchanges with China, Singh said since it was a diplomacy issue, he would leave it to External Affairs Ministry to take a decision.