- 1The present logistics systems of the three Services remain separate and there is considerable scope to improve the delivery of logistic support through better inter-Service arrangements. A number of steps have already been undertaken to effect inter-Service cooperation in the field of logistics and to rationalise single-Service logistic areas.
- The Joint Administration Planning Committee (JAPC), having representatives from the Services, is placed under the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). The JAPC is tasked with preparation of a joint administrative plan to supplement and support the overall mobilisation and operation plan evolved by the Joint Planning Committee (JPC), for any future operation or contingency plans involving two or more Services. The secretarial support is provided by the Military Wing of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), which, to say the least, is totally inadequate. Even though all future operations are going to be joint in nature, presently, each Service is planning for its requirements in isolation, without the concerted action of a joint approach. Some of the logistical functions, which are static in nature and may not really affect combat efficiency, have already been integrated. The medical services, postal services, MES (Military Engineering Service) works, Embarkation Headquarters, Defence Lands and Cantonment Organisation and the Canteen Stores Department are providing support to all the three Services. The navy and air force are also dependent on the army for common user items such as armaments, ammunition, vehicles, general stores and clothing. These arrangements have resulted in economy of effort and unity of purpose. Yet, there are a number of areas in the present logistics support system, which are open to integration and jointness to achieve synergies in operations.
- At the MOD level, the two important entities in the field of logistics are the defence minister’s Production and Supply Committee and Defence Research and Development Council. The role of the Production and Supply Committee is most important as it covers the entire gamut of planning force levels and equipment planning related to availability of resources. The COSC advises the defence minister on all military matters including logistics matters. As mentioned earlier, the JAPC under the direction of COSC is expected to coordinate the logistics effort of the three Services.
- Air Force.
- At present, there is a considerable amount of divergence in procurement, stocking, maintenance and support functions. This lends to lack of standardisation, overstocking and increases costs of inventory. There is duplication in certain areas of logistics where common items and weapon systems are in use in more than one Service. Though some of the duplication may be unavoidable yet a rationalisation of logistics in the common areas would prove fruitful. Besides the organisational weaknesses, there are weaknesses in the policy and logistics infrastructure. There is a lack of overall national perspective for logistics. The decision-making structures at the national level are either inappropriate or unresponsive. The Siachen episode of 1998, where the defence minister had to send some bureaucrats to Siachen to understand the need for snow-scooters by the troops, indicates the level of awareness of the logistical needs of the Services at the top policy-making echelons. Further, in the second half of 1995, an extract from a note sent to the army chief from the Valley observed, “Public moneys are being poured down the drain by people with increasing frequency. There are apparently no qualms felt in condoning such actions where crores are padded at will with no accountability, while troops in the Valley have actually offered to give up a certain percentage of their ration if funds were insufficient for bullet proof jackets.” And to further compound the problems, the bullet-proof jackets being procured from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) were very heavy and cumbersome restricting the mobility and agility of troops in the counter-insurgency operations.
- Some of the major weaknesses in the present logistics system can be summarised as under:
MoD Level </h3
In the Army Headquarters, the agencies responsible for providing logistics are organised under four different PSOs (principal staff officers) that is, the Adjutant General (AG), Quarter Master General (QMG), Master General of Ordnance (MGO) and the Engineer-in-Chief. This could also be taken to mean that the management and control of the logistics services are not under a unified single management or control. This gives rise to a number of intra-service logistical problems in the army. The QMG branch is responsible for a large portion of planning for logistics. It utilises almost two-fifths of the army budget. In the air force, the Logistics Branch handles all the equipment, materials management and distribution functions.
At the Air Headquarters, air officer-in-charge administration and the air officer-in-charge maintenance (AOM) perform functions similar to those of the AG and the QMG in the army and partly similar to those of the MGO in the army. The AOM, therefore, to a large extent, provides single point management and control of these activities. Constituting the “Initial Provisioning Committee” and “Maintenance Planning Teams” provides logistics support for the newly introduced aircraft and weapon systems. Apparently, these arrangements militate against the integrated logistics support since such activity conveys an “after-the-fact” approach. The air force spends almost 60 per cent of its budget on stores.
In the navy, the Chief of Materials is responsible for maintenance and logistic support, armament supply, naval projects, engineering, electrical and weapon systems and procurement of naval stores. The chief of personnel looks after the responsibilities connected with medical services, recruitment, service conditions, clothing and welfare and utilises over half of the naval budget. Even in the navy, logistics support to newly introduced equipment, is planned and organised after selection and ordering of the new equipment by user directorates and, therefore, this procedure lends itself to be termed as an “after-the-fact discipline”.
Shortcomings of Existing System </h3
- Foresight and Planning.
- National and Defence Forces Disconnect.
- Lack of Common Logistics.
- Multiple Logistic Agencies.
- Multiple Procurement Agencies.
- There is a lack of standardisation and codification. This leads to duplication and high inventories. There are multiple stocking echelons, which lead to a high level of stocking. And this is further compounded by the lack of an integrated system approach to determine stock levels.
The Service chiefs are responsible for operational and logistic preparedness, but exercise little or no control over budget and provisioning of war-like material. General V.P. Malik’s statement during the Kargil War that “we will fight with whatever we have” is testimony to the lack of long-term logistical planning and an overall national perspective. Even though a new fiscal management policy was introduced sometime in September 1998, which entailed devolution of financial powers to the Service chiefs, vice-chiefs and army commanders and their equivalents in the other two Services, these measures have not gone far enough. The Arun Singh Committee on Defence Expenditure (CDE) of 1990 had made wide ranging recommendations and proposals to promote quick response and accountability. All revenue expenditure, except in certain areas, was recommended to be within the purview of the chiefs of staff. Off late, after DPP 2016, certain financial powers are given to the Vice Chief under the head of emergency procurement.
There is a lack of inter-linkages between the development plans of the nation and defence requirements. There is no organisation at the national level to oversee, coordinate and integrate defence needs with national development. There is little evidence to indicate that national level logistical planning is done keeping in view the defence requirements.
The three Services have not evolved a common logistics doctrine and philosophy of logistics support. There is limited interaction and intercommunication amongst the three Services on matters of logistics. At times, parochial considerations dominate decision- making which militates against the requirements of organisational economy.
There is a multiplicity in logistic agencies with no single authority responsible for logistics preparedness. Lack of centralised logistics support encourages duplication and wasteful expenditure.
Multiple procurement agencies of the Services, with lack of interaction, work against the principle of economy and lead to increased costs. At times, bureaucratic delays result in cost escalations and even inappropriate and inadequate procurement. Long lead times result in functional inefficiencies and losses, especially when changes are made after the orders have been placed on the supplying agencies.
All the three Services have undertaken automation in logistics field separately. For example, inventory automation by the army, air force and navy has been undertaken separately in spite of commonality of procedures. A common system would have been more economical.
At the national level, there is a need to establish an NLC on the same lines as the National Development Council. It could have the defence minister as the chairman. Alternatively, the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission can head this council. All the three Services could be represented on it or the CDL could be the representative. The council should have representation from the Finance Ministry, Industrial Development Board, Department of Science and Technology, representatives of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). The list is not exhaustive; there could be some more members directly concerned with logistics infrastructure. The NLC should evolve five-year logistics plans in consonance with the national five-year plans. It should also evolve long-term 10 to 15-year perspective plans. These short-term and long-term perspective plans have to be dovetailed with Defence Service Perspective Plans, should include proposals for such dual-purpose schemes, which help development of the economy as well. This would be possible in areas like construction of roads, railways, airfields, canals, communications networks (like the Sankhya Vahini Project) and waterworks that meet vital defence needs as well as civil infrastructure development needs. It is evident that defence logistics and infrastructure development should be considered as a part of national development and commitment. The broad mission of the NLC would be to ensure optimum utilisation of national resources; industrial mobilisation and achieving cost-effectiveness. The other objectives of the NLC could be:
- Work toward achieving civil, military and industrial integration on the lines discussed in this paper.
- Determine the broad framework of the country’s development of logistics infrastructure to meet national objectives and contingencies.
- Focus on areas like national disaster relief, national and industrial mobilisation of transport and communication structure during wartime. Cater for stocking of strategic materials like petroleum products and so on.
- Projection of equipment and material requirements to enable industry to retool and redeploy for water.
Organisation at MOD/Inter-Services Level
One of the mandates given to the new Task Force is to examine, “Methods to bring about improvements in the procurement process and to ensure more cost-effective management of defence.” A Defence Logistics Agency at the MOD level would be a suitable organisation to achieve cost-effective management of defence logistics. An agency like this at the MOD level would formulate a logistics doctrine, oversee activities of various committees, liaise with the NLC and coordinate mobilisation of national defence and industrial resources. The DLA could be placed under the MOD or the COSC. Ideally, when integration of the Services Headquarters and the MOD takes place, the DLA (with its chief who could be designated as chief of Defence Logistics) should be placed under the CDS (chief of Defence Staff). The functions of the DLA and consequently the CDL could be similar to the ones prescribed for the UK’s CDL, as discussed in this paper earlier. The broad purpose and missions of the DLA are outlined below:
- Promote standardisation, codification, equipment management and integrated systems approach to logistics.
- Evolve joint procurement and contracting procedure with the best commercial practices. Integrated defence procurement with representatives from three Services to achieve cost-effectiveness.
- Integrate maintenance and repair systems, military depots and transportation between the three services.
- Liaise with civil sector for integration of civil resources.
- Exploit the tools of IT for integrated logistics management with emphasis on interoperability and compatibility among the three Services.