Leaked letter reveals India’s military woes
NEW DELHI - Agence France-PresseIndia’s tank fleet lacks ammunition, its air defenses are “97 percent obsolete” and its elite forces need essential weapons, the country’s army chief wrote in a letter leaked yesterday, plunging the army’s relations with the government to new lows.
The letter to the prime minister dated March 12 lists shortcomings of the armed forces in embarrassing detail in a serious blow to the government and the Asian giant’s military prestige. Its publication also ups the stakes in a public battle between army chief General V.K. Singh and the government which began with a dispute over Singh’s retirement earlier this year. “The state of the major (fighting) arms i.e. mechanized forces, artillery, air defense, infantry and special forces, as well as the engineers and signals, is indeed alarming,” Singh wrote in the letter, DNA newspaper reported.
The tank fleet of the world’s second-largest standing army is “devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks”, while the air defense system is “97% obsolete and it doesn’t give the deemed confidence to protect... from the air,” he wrote. The infantry is crippled with “deficiencies” and lacks night fighting equipment, while the elite special forces are “woefully short” of “essential weapons.” In the letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, General Singh reportedly blames the slow procurement process and lack of urgency among bureaucrats for the “hollowness” of the 1.13-million-strong military.