Responding to a question of Jayant Baranwal, Editor-in-Chief, SP’s Land Forces, during the annual press conference, Chief of the Army Staff General Bipin Rawat explained in detail how the army is technologically empowering and motivating its soldiers to tackle emerging threats
SP’s: How will you empower a soldier so that he remains constantly motivated?
COAS: We have always believed that it is the man behind the weapon that matters and therefore empowerment of the soldier is most important... When we talk of empowering a soldier, it is giving him the kind of systems that are required by him to ensure that he is able to imbibe technology and then ensure the surveillance ...the sensor shooter system get integrated not just at the highest level but even at the soldier’s level and then imparting training to ensure that he can utilize the equipment. We have always believed that it is the man behind the weapon that matters and therefore empowerment of the soldier is most important... When we talk of empowering a soldier, it is giving him the kind of systems that are required by him to ensure that he is able to imbibe technology and then ensure the surveillance ...the sensor shooter system get integrated not just at the highest level but even at the soldier’s level and then imparting training to ensure that he can utilize the equipment.
We have to look at terrain and the conditions under which we operate. We operate under different conditions... Each of the terrain requires different kind of weapon system, different kind of technology for reconnaissance and surveillance. Basic issue is to give him those.
Now what we are trying to do for a soldier as of now? we are ensuring that he must have capability to operate both by day and night. He is being given devices which will help him to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance both by day and night, so, that he can see the terrain in front of him at all times. And then you have to give him the weapon system which can engage what he sees for that as far as the soldier on the ground is concerned we are identifying an assault rifle.
Assault Rifle Programme
The assault rifle which is the primary weapons for an infantry soldier deployed on the frontline has got delayed because we have changed the GSQR. There was a time when we were looking at changeable barrel rifle, which on second thought we felt was not the best system we had opted for so, we changed track. Now we are looking for an assault rifle with range of 500 metres with night fighting capability.
The entire army cannot be equipped with the same assault rifle because this a is very high technology rifle. So, what we have decided that is the infantry soldier deployed on the border who has got to engage the adversary first, at the line of control or anywhere else will be given the assault rifle.
We said that high tech assault rifle will come in for the infantry deployed in the front. Now within the infantry battalion also not everybody requires this assault rifle. In an infantry battalion there are 750 jawans and we have come to a conclusion that only 400-450 are frontline soldiers, that is the companies that are deployed in the front. There are some people who are holding the heavier weapons, somebody has got mortar or ATGM, these people may not require these weapons. This is to make sure we utilize the resources and funds that are allotted to us in a judicious manner.
So, we are getting a good assault rifle which is now moving on a fast track procedure. We have identified the rifles which have to come in, the trials are on and very soon we will be getting this preferably through G-to-G (Government-to-Government), so that we get it faster.
Indigenous Assault Rifle
For the other arms and services who need not be equipped with this kind of assault rifle we are looking at the indigenus solution. This rifle will be manufactured by OFB and partly by Industry.
Our numbers are huge (nine to ten lakhs) they can’t be manufactured over night. But if you want to get them in earlier time frame... in two/three years. Then you got to look at sophisticated weapons for infantry which we need and we don’t have the capability to make in our country... we import it.
For others we go to the ordinance factory who will manufacture it for us and part load will be off loaded to the industry. Why we are doing this between the ordinance factory and industry, it is to create competition for the ordinance factory. Today, if the ordinance factory does not come out with the good weapon and you find out that your own indigenous industry comes out with better weapons then you cancel those order and you go that way. So, this is to ensure that they also become accountable and they also start improving the standards.