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“World Seeing A Return To Conflict For Political Objectives”: Army Chief

General Manoj Pande speaks at the NDTV Defence Summit

New Delhi:

The geopolitical landscape is facing unprecedented changes and today nations have shown the willingness to use hard power, the Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Pande, said at the maiden NDTV Defence Summit today.

The Army chief said the “Centrality of national interest and the growing salience of national security in the international system are distinctly visible. Today nations have shown willingness to resort to the use of heart power to secure their interest and there is a situation of return to conflict to achieve political and military objectives,” adding, “While conventional warfare has changed, emerging technologies today are not central only to rich nations and disruptive technology is transforming warfare.” 

Asymmetry In Warfare

“Access to modern technologies is not limited to superpowers but non-state actors can access such technology. The asymmetry in conflict has increased the risk of a fallout with an increased propensity of risk-taking behaviour to initiate a low-threshold armed conflict,” the army chief said.

General Pande said, “Our legacy challenges of unsettled borders continue and newer threats in the spectrum of conflict have added complexity and the grey zone actions and aggressions from adversaries are manifesting across domains – Land, sea, and air.”

Army’s Vision For Future

General Pande stressed the fact that we need to secure our national interest and the focus should be on possessing capabilities that require continuous progression. Highlighting the vision of the Army, the General said, the Indian Army, a land-based force, has to transform into an agile, future-ready force that can operate in a multi-domain environment and have synergy with other forces. These elements are important for the force to be future-ready.

The Army Chief said, “Swadeshikaran (indigenisation) se sashaktikaran (empowerment)” is a work in progress. All sectors have a crucial role to play. It is essential to develop core competencies.

Aatmanirbharta or self-reliance in defence manufacturing and procurement has been a vision as well as a goal of governments. The Indigenous defence industry is critical for war-fighting capability. 

The Army Chief said the disruption in the supply chain in the Russia-Ukraine conflict has highlighted how wars can disrupt the supply of technology and weapons. It also entails the risk that nations may not transfer critical technology. To pursue our aspirations, self-reliance is important and sustenance of the existing ones is necessary too. 

The transformational nature of war hybridization of threats and the emergence of cyber war has brought the focus on the development of safeguarding platforms with technology.

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cyber biotechnology, and space – It is essential to harness these technologies and use them in defence, the Army Chief said, adding that our technological prowess has been a driver for global tech. 

The government has taken initiatives to promote an effective ecosystem in the country that enables simplification of industry in licensing, foreign investment, and Research and Development projects. The establishment of defence corridors and others are such steps, he said.

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