India needs to prepare for short and long-term standoffs: IAF chief

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The current geo-political situation necessitates India, which has ongoing border disputes with both China and Pakistan, to prepare its armed forces for both short- and long-term stand offs, Indian Air Force chief V.R. Chaudhari said on Thursday.

Addressing a seminar here, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari, quoting the famed Chinese strategic thinker, said that “Sun Tzu aptly said: ‘The line between disorder and order lies in logistics’. Understanding what logistics means varies across the military and civil domain, however, both domains believe that logistics comprises of having material or services in the right quantity, in the required condition, in the right place and at the right time. Only a commander who understands logistics can push the military machine to the limits without risking a total breakdown.”

He said that the IAF’s recent experiences as well as the evolving geo-political scenario mandates the force to be operationally and logistically responsive at all times.

“The current geo-political situation necessitates the Indian Air Force to prepare for intense and small duration operations at a short notice. This new paradigm of high intensity operations, coupled with minimal build-up time, would require major changes in terms of operational logistics. Logistics support in such a scenario would be extremely challenging considering the fact that we have a fairly vast and diversified inventory.”

To address issues like availability of spares, the IAF chief said that India need to re-evaluate demand forecasting methods and stocking philosophies.

“The way forward will be to have a serviceability linked inventory management system.

“Flexible stocking policies with modern forecasting techniques would help in demand sensing and prepositioning of items at bases.

“We must also review our procurement strategies in order to reduce lead time for supplies and preempt problems of supply chain obsolescence,” he said.

Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said in the force, space, and time continuum, “there would be a need for us to prepare for short swift wars as well as be ready for a long drawn standoff akin to what we are seeing in eastern Ladakh”.

There will be a need to cater for resources bridging and transportation for both these contingencies, he said.

“While movement of squadron load to operational locations would be supported to an extent by dedicated air effort, timely replenishment of ATF, armament, aviation spares, aviation lubes and FOL, would be a challenging proposition as, during contingencies, the roads and rail heads would be choked due to simultaneous movement of Indian Army along the same axes,” he stated.

“Towards this, we need to formalise an integrated road and rail management plan and explore the feasibility of increased containerisation and use of civilian wide-bodied aircraft.”

He also dwelt on the need for a focused action plan to be developed for indigenisation of all critical components in order to achieve the mandate of ‘atma-nirbharata’.

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