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An effect on the Force Planning Process needs a special mention, as it is severely affected by the failure of the Indian Armed forces to integrate. It needs to be recognised that the need for optimum utilisation of our defence budget will only grow with time. Progressive improvements in service conditions will invariably result in higher revenue spending, thereby, putting pressure on the capital outlay. A realistic assessment indicates that a substantial hike in defence spending is unlikely. With budgets shrinking in real terms, there is a need for prioritising the equipment procurement projected by SHQ, so that funds can be channelised in the right direction at the right time. This prioritisation has to be based on an objective evaluation of the requirement, that a particular weapon system is essential in the prevailing threat scenario, against fund availability for that year. Currently, a modality for such an exercise does not exist as no Service Chief will accept any curtailment of his requirement list by the HQ IDS (which compiles annual and five-year plans). The force planning process, therefore, consists of merely adding up the ‘wish lists’ of the three Services and forwarding them to the MoD. It is here that the pruning and prioritisation are undertaken, often arbitrarily. Whether it is a self-propelled artillery system, an aircraft carrier or a combat aircraft, there is rarely a meaningful debate amongst the informed professionals (the Armed Forces). The appointment of an integrated head who makes the decision for the forces is the only solution to this problem.

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