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Procurement has not kept pace with requirements; Lowest bidder concept must end: Indian Army Chief

"Procedures of the Industrial Age cannot hamstring needs of Information Era warfare. More than ever before, wars today require a whole of nation effort," Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane said.

Indian Army Chief Procurement has not kept pace with requirements-VPN
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New Delhi, First Published Aug 4, 2021, 8:58 AM IST
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Calling for revolution in bureaucratic affairs to bring real transformation, Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane said that the overbearing nature of our rules and regulations had resulted in several procedural lacunae creeping into the acquisition process, leading to a 'Zero Error Syndrome'.

Speaking during a webinar organised by the United Services Institution on 'Transformation imperatives for the Indian Army in the coming decades', Gen Naravane called that the need of the hour is to get rid of the concept of the L1 vendor altogether.

L1 is also known as the lowest bidder. The lowest bidder gets the contract.

"We have brought about major structural changes in our organisation by aligning both the capital and revenue routes of procurement under the Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Capability Development and Sustenance). This is not enough. Our procurement process, unfortunately, has not kept pace with requirements of time," the Indian Army chief said. 

"Procedures of the Industrial Age cannot hamstring needs of Information Era warfare. More than ever before, wars today require a whole of nation effort. The transformation of the armed forces needs to be resource informed," he added.

Niche Technologies 

Talking about technologies-enabled systems, the Army chief said there is a need to concurrently develop multi-domain competencies that are currently present for effective integration. 

"These new skills are required to handle modern technologies and systems in Cross-Domain Operations."

"We cannot hope to fight and win the next war with legacy structures evolved from the past. Our force structures must be agile, modular, flexible and networked. They should reflect the challenges and realities of the contemporary battlefield," Gen Naravane said.

During the webinar, he also talked about the Operation Guardian of the Walls -- the 11-day offensive by Israel against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He said it was driven majorly by capacities in niche technologies, including Artificial Intelligence.

"A directive style of leadership with greater freedom of action at each level and decentralised control is the only way to develop the capability in commanders at all levels to act in consonance with the larger objective, in the absence of orders," he added.

"Commanders will have to be comfortable using AI-enabled systems while taking decisions. They would need to understand the limitations of these machines and the mistakes that they may commit," the chief said.

Modernisation 

The Army chief said that for a developing nation like India, the dual requirement of fast-tracking modernisation and simultaneously promoting self-reliance are challenging objectives. 

"Considering the quick pace at which our adversaries are undertaking defence modernisation, we cannot afford to be lagging behind. We have tried to reduce dependence on exports by boosting indigenisation and focusing on dual-purpose, high-end technology. This way, we will not only ensure self-reliance but will also hold good during times of emergency," Gen Naravane said.

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