Intelligence and Terrorism Features
Indian military must have strategic reach: air force chief
By Vishnu Makhijani Jun 16, 2006, 5:43 GMT
New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) India's armed forces must acquire 'strategic reach' that would include creation of an Aerospace Command and employment of net-centric warfare to protect the country's economic and energy security interests in a fast changing world, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief says.
The Aerospace Command was needed to integrate the operations of the three services, with the army being the biggest user of the system but the IAF providing the 'maximum impact', Air Chief Marshal S.P Tyagi maintained.
'I see that India as it grows economically will have to worry about trade security, economic security, food security, energy security. That is the new role of the armed forces. In addition to the traditional defence role, (they) will also have to perform the security role,' Tyagi told IANS in an interview.
This meant the armed forces would have to operate in an expanded area.
'You cannot be confined to geographical boundaries. If you have to provide energy security, you have to go out; if you have to provide space security, you have to go out of the geographical boundaries of India,' he contended, adding that 'we tend to get locked inside' even as borders were 'losing meaning' in the new world.
'If you agree with that line of argument, then we are saying that we'll have to be prepared to launch operations - not fighting necessarily - to protect our interests at larger distances,' Tyagi maintained.
How would this be achieved?
'I need firstly a long reach to get there. How can I have any impact unless I get there? So the first thing the Indian Air Force talks of is a strategic reach.
'Now, if I am there, someone has to provide me radar cover, so I need an AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) aircraft. I need flight refuelling aircraft, I need combat aircraft, I need transport aircraft for the infantry,' the air chief pointed out.
This would entail the employment of net-centric warfare to fit the various pieces together.
'That's were aerospace comes in. To control all this, you need an Aerospace Command,' Tyagi pointed out.
'I have articulated, therefore, that if India is to look for tomorrow, tomorrow's India as I see it - this is the picture: a strategic reach, new strategic boundaries, and a new net-centric environment which will exploit the media of space,' he added.
Pointing out that aerospace was 'everybody's business', Tyagi maintained that within the armed forces, the biggest user of aerospace would be the army.
'You have a million soldiers, each one with a radio set and with a GPS (Global Positioning System). In terms of numbers, the largest numbers will be the army but in terms of effect, the largest will be the air force' because it will, through its aircraft and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), provide pictures of the operational area to the command post in real time.
Reiterating that the job of the military is not only to take care of geographical boundaries, he noted: 'If that were the job, the United States will not need too big an armed force. There is no military threat to the continental United States and yet we know they have a fairly large military force.'
According to him, the size and shape of the armed force of a country depended on not only the perceived threats but also the protection of national security.
'The armed forces' role is to provide national security. National defence is part of national security. The armed forces only tend to look at the defence part but actually the armed forces play a much more role than defence,' Tyagi contended.
© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service