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India can supply its troops with only 10 days of ammunition: New York Times

India can supply its troops with only 10 days of ammunition: New York Times
March 4, 2019
NEW DELHI — It was an inauspicious moment for a military the United States is banking on to help keep an expanding China in check. An Indian Air Force pilot found himself in a dogfight last week with a warplane from the Pakistani Air Force, and ended up a prisoner behind enemy lines for a brief time. The aerial clash, the first by the South Asian rivals in nearly five decades, was a rare test for the Indian military — and it left observers a bit dumbfounded. While the challenges faced by the India’s armed forces are no secret, its loss of a plane last week to a country whose military is about half the size and receives a quarter of the funding was still telling. India’s armed forces are in alarming shape. If intense warfare broke out tomorrow, India could supply its troops with only 10 days of ammunition, according to government estimates. And 68 percent of the army’s equipment is so old, it is officially considered “vintage.” “Our troops lack modern equipment, but they have to conduct 21st-century military operations,” said Gaurav Gogoi, a lawmaker and member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense. American officials tasked with strengthening the alliance talk about their mission with frustration: a swollen bureaucracy makes arms sales and joint training exercises cumbersome; Indian forces are vastly underfunded; and the country’s navy, army and air force tend to compete rather than work together. In just a decade, United States arms sales to India have gone from nearly zero to $15 billion. But Pakistan can still draw on a powerful American-supplied arsenal. However troubled its military, India holds an obvious strategic appeal to the United States by virtue of both its location and its size. For India’s military, funding remains the biggest challenge. In 2018, India announced a military budget of some $45 billion. Last month, Delhi announced another $45 billion budget. The majority of the money goes to salaries for its 1.2 million active duty troops, as well as pensions. Only $14 billion will be used to buy new hardware. –New York Times