India’s Digital Army Programme and Israeli Experience

Digital Technology is one of the key components of the modern military infrastructures. The concept of Digital Army is not limited to the use of Digital technologies; it is also about having a seamless coordination mechanism which provides actionable and real-time information. Defense agencies across the globe are building the capabilities which help them to take timely decisions based on the right inputs at the right time. The Joint Information Environment of the U.S., UK government’s Defense as a Platform (DaaP) infrastructure, and Australian Defence Force’s Single Information Environment are some of the recent notable initiatives around the world. Israel has taken the Digital Army initiatives much earlier than others. In the year 2004, Elbit Systems had signed an agreement with the Israel Ministry of Defense for the Digital Army Programme (DAP). In 2014, IDF has concluded the deployment of the Tzayad (Digital Land Army) system in all of its field formations and now they are working to build the next generation of the Israeli Army’s digital C4I network.

The nature of warfare is changing fast. To match the pace of this changing environment, the corps of signals (an arm of the Indian Army) is working actively. The theme of DEFCOM INDIA 2017 (an event organized by Corps of Signals and CII) was “Digital Army Infrastructure and Skilled Human Resources.” For the success of Digital Army programme, the participation/collaboration of both public and private sectors is needed. To speed up the Digital Army, force modernization and Make in India initiatives, last year Indian Army has launched the Army Design Bureau (ADB), an interface between the Army, Industry, DRDO, and Academia.

In parallel to Digital India, the Indian government is focusing on developing a digital arm force too. Integration of Indian armed forces and building advanced digital infrastructures for the army is a top priority of the current Indian government. In the year 2015, the former Defense Minister of India, Mr. Manohar Parrikar has launched the ‘Digital Army’ programme. Mr. Parrikar has unveiled a series of product to promote digitalization of Indian Army, such as IAF-HAL ePortal- an inter-organization information sharing system (IOIS) between the Indian Air Force and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (an Indian state-owned defense company) to facilitate better coordination, transparency and faster decision-making, Army Cloud which includes a Central Data Centre, a Near Line Data Centre and a Disaster Recovery site for replication of its critical data along with virtualized servers and storage, Digi-Locker (a secure and exclusive data storage space to all the units and formation headquarters of the Army over its dedicated data network) and ARPAN 3.0 (Army Record Office Process Automation) etc. India has developed its first integrated defense communication network too. DCN is a strategic, highly secure and scalable system. It has a pan-India reach – from Ladakh to the North East to island territories. These steps are crucial in the process of transforming Indian Army from a platform-centric to network-centric force.

India’s Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, in his address at a conference on military communication, has said that the army has to keep pace with the “digitized world” and ensure that most of its systems are digitized as early as possible. Filling the communication gaps in the decision making and the integration of Armed forces are some of the key priorities of the Indian Army’s Digitalization initiatives.

Some of the key technology requirements as mentioned in the “Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap (April 2013)” (released by India’s Ministry of Defense) are: Battlefield Transparency, Command and Control Architecture, integrated platforms to support Communication, supporting architecture and infrastructure towards achieving network centricity, Smart Radios, Strong encryption mechanisms and access to real-time information etc. The Digital Army initiatives of India are aiming to fulfill these requirements.

Trust is an integral requirement of India’s Digital Army initiatives. India’s most reliable Defense partner Israel, with which India has a long and successful track record of defense cooperation, can share the knowledge and experiences of implementing the DAP with India.

Israel’s Digital Army Programme – Tzayad

In the year 2004, Elbit Systems had launched Israel’s Digital Army Programme (DAP) for the period of ten years (2004-2014). Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd. and Tadiran Systems Ltd partnered with Elbit Systems for DAP. The goal of the DAP was to establishing the systems which facilitate the transmission of integrated, real-time situation pictures to and from all battlefield and command echelons and to enable force coordination at all levels. The access to updated situational pictures has improved overall operational capabilities, including survivability and accuracy, and enabled efficient utilization of personnel and other resources for the Israeli Army. In 2014, IDF concluded the deployment of the Tzayad (Digital Land Army) system in all of its field formations.

In 2015, Israel’s Defense Ministry has awarded Elbit Systems the contract to develop the next generation of the Israeli Army’s digital C4I network. The Elbit systems team was also honored by the President of Israel, Mr. Reuven Rivlin for the successful implementation of Digital Ground Army System.

Some of the key features of the Israel’s Digital Army Programme are: improved coordination between forces at different command levels, enhanced situational awareness, efficient utilization of manpower and resources, interoperability of all air, land and sea services, and maximization of combat force efficiency.

The standardization of ICT infrastructure for seamless coordination and integration of Tri-Services, tactical spectrum management and application of analytics, IoT, and cloud technologies in defense architectures are some of the immediate requirements of India’s Digital Army programme.

Israeli experience in building and running a robust DAP can give a right push to India’s Digital Army initiatives.

About the Author
Devsena Mishra promotes advanced technologies, startup ecosystems and Indian government’s business and technology related initiatives like Digital India, Make in India and Startup India etc. through her portals, articles, videos, and books.
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