In tech drive, Indian Army plans test bed brigades, adversarial force

With an eye on capability development, the Indian Army plans to introduce restructuring measures that include introducing Army Design Bureau (ADB) cells at the command level and establishing an adversarial force for “realistic wargaming”.

The ADB, an organisation whose mandate is to develop army equipment, will now ideate weapon requirements at the command level, apart from carrying out its functions from Delhi, according to a press statement from the Indian Army.

Currently, the ADB, created in August 2016, operates at the headquarters level.

The decision to form the ADB cells was taken at in-person deliberations during the Army Commanders’ Conference, held on 1 and 2 April. The conference commenced with a virtual session on 28 March.

The aim, according to the press statement, is to “upscale” the innovation potential of the Army Design Bureau, which will further have a separate ‘Fund Head’.

In addition, test-bed brigades and formations will be made in charge of ensuring “efficiency and continuity of trial reports”, the statement said.

A source in the defence and security establishment said that the process of forming the cells at the field formation levels will be completed this year.

This is being done in line with 2024 being the Indian Army’s “year of tech absorption”, as Army Chief Gen. Manoj Pande announced during his annual press conference in January this year, the source said.

While the in-principle approval has been given, the proposal, along with the modalities, is currently being looked at, the source added.

A second source, while explaining the need to take the ADB to the command level, said that technological solutions by the ADB will be better given if they are placed on the ground as opposed to being centrally located in the capital.

This will further enable the brainstorming of terrain and equipment-specific ideas regionally, this source added.

‘Jointness, integration, and technological absorption’

The ADB acts as an interface between the Army, industry, the DRDO, and academia to help the army avail of the best technological solutions depending on their needs.

This will, in turn, help the command headquarters, formations, and unit commanders to facilitate greater outreach to the industry and identification and trials of niche technology.

One of the sources cited above said that, along with decentralisation, the move would also help expedite the process.

To ensure lifetime support, future procurements will include aspects catering to sustenance during the contract finalisation stage, the press statement said. 

While it is imminent that ADB cells will come up at Southern Command, Eastern Command, Western Command, Central Command, Northern Command, and South Western Command, it is yet to be decided if it will come up at Army Training Command (ARTRAC).

In its statement, the army said “to ensure realistic wargame and training, feasibility of creating a tailor-made organisation to function as Adversarial Force will be explored”.

During the conference, the senior leadership of the Army discussed several security-related issues, including transformation initiatives, leveraging technology and innovation for capability development, enhancing operational preparedness, and emerging security issues.

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Anil Chauhan asked the senior military leadership to embrace “jointness, integration and technological absorption”.

Other measures discussed during the conference include greater collaboration with other ministries to “utilise resources and synergise efforts for enhanced capability building and infrastructure development in border areas”, the army said in the statement.

In addition, Human Resource Management policies will be revised and attuned to facilitate the absorption of niche technology with matching training infrastructure.

The revised policy is aimed at being “more innovative towards meeting the requirements of a tech-enabled future-ready Indian Army”, the statement said.