Indian Army Says Its New Artillery Chief "Spearheaded Artillery Modernisation". Well, Now For His Real Test.

A press release today introducing the Army's new Director General Artillery, said the officer in question, Lt Gen Vinod Nayanar (Left in photo) "Spearheaded the modernization of Artillery and was instrumental in given impetus to several acquisition (sic) of new generation equipment." It's only too well known just how cursed and decrepit India's artillery modernisation plan has been since the late 1980s, with absolutely no induction of new field artillery and ad hoc upgrades of select existing gun batteries. Not entirely sure what fantastic modernisation the new Lt Gen has "spearheaded", but he sure has his task cut out. And in typically grandiose style, it's called Artillery Vision 2027, a 17-year rationalisation plan that was formulated under former Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, a gunner himself.

Lt Gen Nayanar has an unenviable task ahead of him, and it was summed up well by the man he replaces, Lt Gen KR Rao, in a speech in May: "The induction of 155mm/52 Cal guns, Ultra Light Howitzer, Wheeled and Tracked SP guns are not following the desired pace. But, are we not late vis-à-vis other modern Artilleries? Take example of Smerch that has been in service in Russia since 1990 and we are still inducting it in our Army. The so called modern weapons are, infact, already in the process of replacement in developed countries, whereas we, in some cases are still working on the road map. Such a state is disturbing and most unwarranted, and merits urgent rectification."

Lt Gen Nayanar faces an obtuse political system that will not listen to operational logic or reason. In many ways, he has the Army's worst job. What he does have is a straight-talking Chief, who has the guts to speak his mind and look directly at the interests of his men. Let's hope both men emerge stronger than all of their predecessors. Our gunners deserve that.

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