New Delhi, Apr 6: With the Army ‘spook’ story and the Army Chief General VK Singh’s various ballistic admissions causing more and more trouble to the already beleaguered UPA government, the various agencies and the public seem to have shifted focus on the real issue, which is the reality of the Indian Army’s present situation and how equipped they are to protect the nation.
The fears were only precipitated when a television channel came out with a damaging report that the Indian Army is facing a serious crisis, in terms of its ammunition level and that the same can only last for 10 days in the event of a war.
The Army Chief had earlier highlighted the same in a letter to the PM expressing doubts over the Army’s defence preparedness in the event of war. The fact that the same letter was leaked to the media had sparked serious controversies.
The television report cites that the Army chief had time and again apprised the political class on the dangerously low war reserves the Army has and that the forces does not have the adequate reserves for certain ammunition in the event of any eventuality.
The report revealed a list of critical imported ammunition that the armed forces will see depleted in the event of war like the mainstay 125 mm tank ammunition called the Fin Stabilized Armoured Piercing. As per the report, the reserves for the same in 2009 were enough for only 5.85 days. The Army is yet to acquire 16,000 additional rounds for it, from Russia.
On the same lines is the 122 mm high energy reduce charge used by the artillery that can stand for only 1.27 days in the event of a full-blown war. The procurement of the same has once again been re-tendered.
If the imported equipment is facing a shortage, the situation of domestically procured defence related items manufactured by the indigenous Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is also at critical levels.
According to a June 2008 presentation made by the Army, the 120 mm Mortar Bomb was available for just 7.43 days of war. The government is facing the stark reality and deciding on how to deal with this deficiency. The 155 mm SMK, smoke ammunition, on the other hand, will last for just 6.29 days.
The other damning claim that the large amount of ammunition provided by the Ordnance Factory Boards found to be faulty is not helping the already messed up situation. The 2008 presentation also claimed that more than 86,000 rounds of 125 mm ammunition were found to be faulty. Another 137 lakh rounds of ammunition for the basic INSAS rifle has also been reported to be faulty.
The government has, meanwhile, been reiterating that their war reserves will last for 30 days in the event of conflict. The stark truth being that the ammunition are at critically low levels. The reason for this shortage being the government’s move to blacklist companies involved in manufacturing defence-related items in lieu of the recent scams of this nature.