Updated: Aug 9
The last nine years under the aegis of the government saw the issues of national security and India's sovereignty dealt with with an iron hand. And in the background of this, we saw a number of structural changes to the defense forces being undertaken that had been impending for decades.
Image Graphics by Team Geostrata
Starting with "Make in India' to Aatmanirbhar Bharat, followed by the theaterization of command structure, the creation of the Tri-Services Integrated Command (Andaman & Nicobar Command), the hastening of the completion of the Panagarh Mountain Strike Corps, that is, the 17 Corps, followed by the creation of the position of chief of defense staff (CDS) in 2020, a recommendation that was given way back in 2000 by the Kargil Review Committee, there have been reforms galore.
And these reforms were not just imperative but were needed to strengthen the shoulders of the Indian defense forces as we stress-tested our battle hardiness under the very famous ‘two-and-a-half’ front war doctrine.
And in the middle of all of this, Bharat enters its "Azadi ka Amrut Kaal," and 2023 is 'the year of the transformation for the Indian army. The emphasis herein is to analyse, redraw, and restructure itself mainly through the prism of research and development, technology, and innovation.
This is the most ideal step that could have been taken since the amendment was first made to the Defence Procurement Policy in 2013, followed by the creation of the Defence Planning Committee in 2018. A few experts on the subject believe that much ground that was lost because of the difficulties of the pandemic is now being regained at a much faster pace.
Here are the top 6 innovative and indigenous projects that will give a facelift beyond recognition to the Indian Army.
1. Project Avagat: This project has been inspired by the Gati Shakti master plan presented in the Budget of 2021–22. To break it down, this is a "Gati Shakti" project for the Indian army's infrastructure and troop movement. This project was put into motion after some glaring flaws were pointed out by strategic affairs experts and ex-servicemen during the Galwan crisis and the ensuing mirror deployment to counter the disproportionate aggression with which the "neighbour of the east’ has become quite habitual too.
According to many independent observers, it almost took more than 60 days and the movement of two infantry divisions to neutralise the nefarious designs of the enemy. This project is being hotly pursued in bureaucratic circles to reduce the time for troop movement and its accompanying logistics.
In addition to this, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has already proven that wars and battle manuals are here to stay, emphasising the need for a well-managed logistics supply chain. This project will include a multiplicity of ministries and organisations, starting with the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and even the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, to facelift strategic air strips and bases.
A small example of the same would be the reopening and upgrade work done to the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) air strip in the middle of the Galwan crisis. This project is focusing on the core areas of providing all-weather logistics support, ease of troop and equipment movement, and an infrastructure backbone to the Army.
2. Medium-Range: At the time of the writing of this article, there was much anticipation about this project, which is an app created in collaboration with the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF). The main task of this app is to provide higher-resolution weather forecasts with cartographic support along the northern borders, with an emphasis on eastern Ladakh and the surrounding High Altitude Areas (HAA) of Siachen and Karakoram Pass.
This will also equip the soldiers with 'real-time data of the weather' and the anticipated changes in the same to allow easy troop movement and minimise the loss of life caused by the weather. The most interesting part about this application, which is supposed to be launched on May 19, 2023, is that it took less than six months to develop. The completion of projects like these only showcases the reinforced commitment of all stakeholders to the Army's idea of transformation for the year 2023.
3. Project Sanjay: With the strides in technology that warfare has already taken, this project undertaken with Bharat Electronics has successfully been battle tested in all weather conditions. This project aims at initiating artificial intelligence in the electronic surveillance of battlefields. Under this project, over 60 surveillance centres will be ready by the deadline of December 2025 to integrate the most modern sensors with artificial intelligence to enhance surveillance pictures for positioned troops.
This is further being enhanced and integrated with the Artillery Combat Command Control and Communication System (ACCCCS) to have upgraded surveillance of targets and real-time enemy artillery movements. With the emphasis on communication, the army has started to focus both on hardware upgrades and best-in-class software for communication.
Project orders for the best battle operative radio sets have already been given, and the same are being indigenously tested with the well-developed satellite and communications network of the army to give the soldier an edge. Here as well, the Indian Army is plucking a leaf out of the book titled "Russia-Ukraine War," where it was seen that our communication and signal blockages of obsolete technology greatly hamper logistics movement and directly influence the casualties on the battlefield.
4. Project E-Sitrep: Sitrep in military lingo refers to a situation report that is the actual communication of the battlefield scenario. This project is the refurbished situational reporting platform, which has been created on the best-in-class enterprise-class geographical information system. This will completely rejuvenate and change the arena of communication and correspondence that takes place during operations and even army exercises.
This project will not only be helpful for dynamic operation planning on the battlefield but will also help in bringing commanders and other wings of the military operation into the fold to ensure a flaw-proof strategy. As of now, this module and its operational ability are being tested under the aegis of the Northern Command of the Army, where they are being further fine-tuned while being tested in almost all the diverse workings of the force.
5. Project SAMA: This is the Situational Awareness Module for the Army (SAMA), which is an indigenously developed critical project with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. This project is both unique and innovative as it integrates all the aforementioned projects in a 'chain reaction"-like model to provide a comprehensive and real-time battlefield picture to on-the-fly commanders for better offensive and counteroffensive planning, along with minimising the risk of injuries and casualties on the field.
As of now, this project has undergone a couple of preliminary tests, and its effectiveness is astounding. As it aims at integrating other modernization projects, it will, at the end of the day, ensure the success of theaterization done in the army along with a better preparedness level for the tri-service integrated command. Projects like these will further strengthen the case for more inter-armed forces exercises and command structures.
6. Indian Army Data Repository and Analytics (INDRA): In recent times, it has understood the need to formulate, manage, and, through this process, archive its personal files and other important data. As simple as this process might seem to the common eye and ear, it isn't. Through Project INDRA, the army wishes to develop and manage the database of its junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and other ranks (ORs) and electronically club and combine all available data spread across 47 Army record offices.
This project would not merely be a record collection but would also be an algorithm-driven collection and compilation to present data analysis. The Indian Army, which has the highest number of serving other ranks and junior commissioned officers, will have a state-of-the-art central data repository ready at the army headquarters.
As of this date, it is being supplemented with the help of ARPAN, which is a feeder application that revises, rechecks, and compiles high amounts of data being fed to the system on a daily basis. This state-of-the-art, innovative project will surely change the image of lackadaisical record management, archiving, and retrieval in traditional and conventional government office spaces.
7. Army Software for Agnipath Administration and Networking (ASAAN) this June will mark the first anniversary of the implementation of the Agneepath scheme, which was brought into force in 2022. The Army's intentions are now being backed by its flagship project, AASAN. This will be a data management scheme dedicated only to the Agneepath scheme for collecting all data pertaining to the Agniveers on a single platform.
Starting from recruitments to training records and other service files, there will be minimal human interference. The army has promised full transparency while providing Agniveers with complete access to their personal files. The best part about this project is that it is being developed in-house by the army itself and has been fast-tracked to be up and ready by June 2023.
The Indian Army was long awaiting this overhaul, and here it is now. This" year of transformation" will grant and guarantee success not only to the citizens who have had unfathomable trust and belief in its defence forces for the last 75 years. But it will also create the strongest base for further reforms as India gears itself towards achieving a form of dominance and glory. These reforms will be a flag bearer of both deterrence and battle readiness.
With a magnified view of the Indian Army and its attempt at realigning itself according to a dynamic world and nefarious neighborhood with a boost of fresh technology and the dynamic support of artificial intelligence, one can really not stop gushing over the projects that are being undertaken to script this story of transformation and modernization.
In the words of current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Manoj Pande, the sole intention behind undertaking these projects under a well-defined plan of action is to bring about a "quantum jump" in the forces capabilities with "reshaped and re-engineered" functional processes. The wait is finally over for seeing the Indian Army come back from its drawing board and transform itself into "a force to be reckoned with," quite like its true nature of an iron hand in a velvet glove.