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Army Year of Transformation: Sustaining Commitment to Network Centricity

Networks Representational Picture

The Indian Army is observing 2023 as the Year of Transformation. Apart from changes which are not available in the public domain, several projects have been launched for networking platforms and grouping networks to improve battlefield visibility, sensor shooter interface, real time information availability across the hierarchical chain and enhancing efficiency in logistics and personnel management through exploitation of software.

While some of the projects were underway, refurbishment with contemporary technologies is expected to give a fillip for network enability and create systems within the system.

The projects that are under various stages of implementation as per multiple media sources are Project Sanjay – integration of surveillance systems and completing the sensor shooter interface with ACCCS (Artillery Combat Command and Control and Communication System).

The ACCCS itself is being integrated under Project Shakti with latest geo applications as per the Hindustan Times quoting an official.

Project E-Sitrep automates situational reporting thereby providing multi level real time information inputs for speedier decision making.

Project Anumann will provide accurate weather forecasts particularly in high altitude areas.

Project SAMA will integrate the above-mentioned systems to provide a systems view.

Project Avagat will integrate multi-domain spatial awareness on a single GIS (geographic information system) platform, from “the operational domain, logistics inputs, satellite imagery data, and topographic and meteorological inputs” on a common platform as per the Hindustan Times.

'Project INDRA (Indian Army Data Repository and Analytics)' manages a database of junior commissioned officers and other personnel spread across 47 Record Offices as per a report by the PTI.

A software for Agnipath Administration and Networking (ASAAN) has also been put in place after the scheme for inducting 75 % soldiers for a period of 4 years under what may be seen as, “a hire and fire scheme,” has commenced despite outrage by military veterans as well as the population of potential recruits alike.

Long Term Commitment to Network Centricity Essential

While these initiatives in the year of transformation are welcome. What about long term commitment.

The necessity for network centricity was outlined in the Armed Forces Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap [TPCR] in 2013. The Armed Forces need supporting architecture and infrastructure towards achieving network centricity said the TPCR.

On situational awareness and battlefield transparency the TPCR states, “Exploiting battlefield transparency requires real-time, robust, reliable and networked command, control, communications, computers and intelligence 6 processing systems in order to reduce the decision making time. The development and fielding of automated sensors for various levels of operations and their integration with requisite fool proof communications will provide the much needed force multiplier effect”.

Lt Gen P C Katoch Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army outlined some of the projects mentioned above in an article in the Indian Defence Review in 2017 entitled “Army’s BSS - fielding initially planned by 2017 could take another decade”.

Meanwhile after initially approving “Battlefield Management System” (BMS) in 2014, the Ministry of Defence later scrapped the project as per columnist Ajai Shukla.

Shukla writes on 8 December 2017, “Senior Indian Army generals, who grew up before smartphones became a part of our daily lives, are blundering in scrapping as “too costly” the Rs 5,000-crore project to indigenously design and develop a Battlefield Management System (BMS)”.

Given this experience the Indian Army must commit to netcentricity on a sustained basis and not just as a part of the year of transformation in 2023.

The Directorate General of Information System must take the lead and be a catalyst as its role, “is to realize the Net Centricity vision of the Indian Army through synergized implementation of all Information System Projects”.

Indian armed forces which should be graduating to multi domain operations are still stuck at network centricity, the pace now must pick up.

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