Antony said while aviation wing of the Army could go ahead with its own acquisition plans purchasing new helicopters, there should be “perfect synergy” between the Army and Indian Air Force because of the crying need for “synergy and pooling in of efforts and resources.”
“There are questions from some quarters on the need to have a separate aviation wing for the Army rather than relying on the IAF for air support. Services will have to act in reconciliation amongst themselves so that India can have better and strong armed forces,” the defence minister said addressing a seminar on Army Aviation Corps here. Antony also offered his service as a mediator to end the rivalry.
The underlying message from the defence minister was obvious. Even though a mechanism for jointness in the armed forces exists through the Chief of Staff Committee, tales of inter-service rivalry are galore in the armed forces affecting operations on the ground.
During the Kargil conflict, then Army Chief VP Malik and IAF chief A Y Tipnis fought bitterly on key operational issues such as deployment of reconnaissance planes, fighters and helicopters with the purpose of evicting troops from dominating heights.
Though Malik in his 2006 book on the Kargil episode denied any rivalry with IAF counterpart, the former Army chief said, “The conflict highlighted the operational urgency for handing over armed forces and attack helicopter assets to the Army.”
The Comptroller and Auditor General and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on defence have highlighted “lack of coordination” between the Navy and Indian Coast Guard making the Indian coast vulnerable.
Till 26/11 happened, the Navy had a “big brother” attitude towards Coast Guard denying it many vital information, while ICG cast aside Navy suggestion of annual planning for ship deployment. Both refused maritime data and ship movement information to each other creating several holes in the coastal security network that are now being plugged.