Building a Stronger Shield, Restructuring the Indian Armed Forces in an Integrated and Efficient Approach

India's security scenario is becoming more complex and diverse, making it all the more urgent for the government to reorganise its military.

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Lt Col RS Bhown
Lt Col RS Bhown
Lt Col RS Bhown (retd), an Infantry Officer, JAT Regiment, Alumnus of NDA, Graduated DSSC, Wellington and a student of Military History. * Views are personal.


A robust and efficient force structuring is vital for executing a successful military strategy. A well-organised and integrated force with a unity of command is the key to achieving victory in any conflict. In translating a national defence strategy into a force structure, the Strategic Choices Model identifies three crucial aspects: modernisation, readiness, and force structure. These form the vertices of a triangle representing the allocation of defence resources. A coherent and well-thought-out national defence strategy is essential to ensure all these areas work harmoniously. Rather than making superficial changes to address British colonial legacies in the Indian military, it is imperative for the Indian government, particularly the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), to focus on tailoring the Armed Forces into an efficient and effective force structure that aligns with India’s security concerns and threat perceptions. This article proposes a restructuring plan for the Indian Armed Forces to optimise their capabilities and address the evolving security challenges.

Understanding Force Structuring

The term “force structure” refers to organising and distributing resources among the many components of the armed forces to achieve strategic goals most efficiently. It entails adjusting the capabilities, workforce, and equipment of the armed forces to align with the needs of the nation’s defence. A comprehensive force structure seeks to balance the resources being put into modernisation, the readiness to respond to urgent threats, and the overall size and makeup of the armed forces.

The Three Verticals of the Indian Security Environment

To construct an effective force structure, it is essential to assess the security situation in India and customise the troops accordingly. The threat landscape in India may be roughly broken down into three distinct verticals, and each of these verticals requires a specific kind of force structuring:

Decisive Strategic Forces

These troops make up the core of the armed forces and are in charge of bringing about decisive victories in battles where they are deployed. They must be outfitted with state-of-the-art technological devices, provided with first-rate instruction and always kept in a state of high readiness. This particular vertical should be streamlined and laser-focused, with no room for redundancy or inefficiency.

Border Management Defensive Forces

Given India’s complex and sensitive border situations with countries like China and Pakistan, a specialised Border Defense Management Force (BDMF) must be established. This force will consolidate the existing Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), and other relevant units. With a clear mandate to secure the borders and respond to tactical threats effectively, the BDMF must receive adequate training, modern equipment, and leadership from experienced military personnel.

National Integration Forces

As internal security is equally vital for the country’s stability, a new force under a separate ministry – the Ministry of National Integration (MoNI) – should be established. This force will merge the existing units like the Rashtriya Rifles, Assam Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). The MoNI will focus on maintaining law and order, handling internal conflicts, and promoting national integration. To achieve this goal, the force needs to consist of a combination of officers from the Internal Security Service (IPS), veteran military officers, civil service officers, and permanent cadre officers, and it needs to have an extensive training programme.

Supervision and Leadership

Effective management and direction are essential to the accomplishment of any strategy that involves the organisation of a force. Both the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the newly planned Ministry of National Integration (MoNI) should be carefully supervised by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the National Security Council, which should be led exclusively by the Prime Minister. In addition, the National Security Council should be accountable to the Prime Minister. This guarantees that the nation’s strategies for defence and internal security are properly aligned with the broader policy direction of the nation.


Every nation’s security and defence preparedness needs armed forces that are effectively organised and cohesive with one another. Restructuring India’s armed forces is even more important now that the country faces an increasingly diversified and intricate threat landscape. India can develop a comprehensive and efficient defence apparatus by focusing on Decisive Strategic Forces, Border Management Defensive Forces, and National Integration Forces. The proposal to establish a Border Defense Management Force (BDMF) and a Ministry of National Integration (MoNI) would streamline efforts and resources, leading to a more effective response to both external and internal threats. A successful force restructuring will require strong political will, efficient execution, and a commitment to the nation’s security.


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