BJP asks Centre to summon Pak envoy
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 28
The BJP has asked the Central government to summon immediately Pakistan ambassador to India to the external affairs ministry and launch a formal and strong protest against yesterday’s “Fidayeen” attack in Jammu, in which three Indian security personnel were killed even as they successfully annihilated the three terrorists.
BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad complimented here today the Indian Armed Forces for successfully liquidating the terrorists, while managing to ensure the safety of women and children taken hostage by the terrorists in Jammu.
He said, “In last 10-12 months over 200 such incidents have taken place where the Fidayeen have managed to infiltrate into India under cover of firing from the Pakistani Rangers and other security forces on the Indo-Pak border.
The BJP spokesman has blamed Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) for this and said even though it had been banned in Pakistan, it is operating in PoK under different names and Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik had met LeT leader Hafiz Saeed after which he had met the Prime Minister.
Prasad demanded an explanation from the Centre on this. While he did not disclose what transpired in the negotiations between the Centre and the Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti (SASS), he urged the government to immediately publicise it to defeat the designs of the separatists.
Time to take guard
Repeated attempts to push in mercenaries now appear to be part of a bigger plan to create mayhem in Jammu and destabilise India, for which common masses are being used as cannon fodder to suit the vested interests..
CJ: Lalit Ambardar , 10 hours ago Views:139 Comments:3
KASHMIR CEASES to be an issue in the absence of guns, mercenaries and the pan Islamic fervour.
The compulsive and media savvy double speak Kashmiri pan Islamists and their known sympathisers may have wanted the world to believe otherwise, but the fact remains that the on going strife in Kashmir that saw ethnic cleansing of Hindu Pandits from the Valley 18 years ago, is an extension of the pan Islamic agenda to annex Muslim majority Kashmir valley from secular India and the common masses are being used as cannon fodder to suit the vested interests.
Coming soon after the brazen exhibition of intolerance over Amarnath land transfer that was followed by amassing of Islamists in the streets of Srinagar, repeated attempts to push in mercenaries now appear to be part of a bigger plan to create mayhem in Jammu and destabilise India. On the one hand ordinary Kashmiris are being instigated in the name of religion and on the other pressure is being built up along the LOC. India needs to be on guard.
Pakistan's 'Silence on Kashmir': Separatists Surprised
Worried over the "well-being" of its leaders arrested earlier this week, separatist Hurriyat Conference Thursday said it was "surprised at the silence of Pakistan over Kashmir".
"We are seriously concerned about the well-being of our leaders arrested by the authorities here," said the joint coordination committee of the moderate and hardline factions of the Hurriyat conference in a statement issued here.
Senior separatist leaders, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik were arrested Sunday to prevent their participation in proposed march to city centre Lal Chowk Monday in this summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
Spokesperson of the coordination committee Masarat Alam blamed India for using force against what he called "internationally accepted peaceful protests in Kashmir".
The co-ordination committee asked the people to hold peaceful demonstrations after midday prayers across the valley Friday.
Alam, a right hand man of Geelani, who advocates Jammu and Kashmir's merger with Pakistan, said the separatist conglomerate was surprised at the "silence of Pakistan over the developments in Kashmir".
Meanwhike, curfew in the valley was relaxed in a phased manner again Thursday, which passed off peacefully except for a protest in the uptown Maisuma locality - the neighbourhood of Yasin Malik, chairman of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.
"Protesters pelted stones and raised slogans in Maisuma during the curfew relaxation period here. They also burnt tyres," police said.
In all other places in Srinagar city and elsewhere in the Valley, people busied themselves buying food and other essential items of life during the relaxation period.
Two protesters were killed and 10 others, including three security personnel, were injured during the curfew relaxation in the valley Wednesday.
The curfew was imposed in the valley in the wee hours Sunday to foil separatist march to city centre Lal Chowk Monday. The curfew has been relaxed but in phased manner Wednesday and Thursday across the valley.
Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing widespread violent demonstrations for more than two and a half months now. The protests were triggered following a dispute over 40 hectares of forest land "diverted" to the Hindu Amarnath shrine board. The diversion order was later cancelled July 1 following a backlash in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley. When the order was reversed, Hindus staged demonstrations, blocking the movement of goods to the valley from the Hindu-majority Jammu region. people have died, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, in the turmoil, which has been stoked by both separatist leaders in the Valley and Hindu extremists in Jammu.
Also Thursday, the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service Thursday began its fortnightly run across the Line of Control (LoC) - the de-facto border between India and Pakistan. Authorities had made announcements here that the tickets for the bus would be treated as curfew passes so that passengers could reach the bus stand.
Indian Navy Wins Friends, Expands Influence in Indian Ocean Region
By Ritu Sharma
Parallel to India's rise as a global economic power, its navy is expanding its influence among the over 30 Indian Ocean countries with efficient delivery of aid during natural disasters.
The effort, explained a senior officer, was also aimed at countering the growing influence of the Chinese Navy in what is known as the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) that straddles from Africa to Australia.
The third largest body of water in the world and with 33 littoral states, the IOR is strategically important, with a large percentage of global trading ships passing through it.
Eighty percent of China's and 65 percent of India's oil is shipped through this region.
"Our aid diplomacy is aimed at gaining more influence in the IOR. And coupled with our 'Look East' policy, it is expected to help India gain (in the region)," the officer told IANS.
"We are helping African countries and countries like Mauritius in capacity building and capability enhancing. We would like to play a benevolent role in this area," the officer added.
In May this year, as Cyclone Nargis battered neighbouring Myanmar leaving thousands dead, the Indian Navy was the first to send relief supplies.
Under "Operation Sahayata", INS Rana and INS Kirpan offloaded sea-borne aid supplies at Yangon port. It was the latest demonstration of the ability of the Indian Navy to rush aid in times of distress.
When tsunami struck in December 2004, although India suffered over 15,000 deaths and vast destruction, the Indian Navy was quick to rush aid to the Maldives as well as the worst-hit Sri Lanka and Indonesia. About 1,000 Indian relief personnel and five naval ships were sent to Trincomalee, Galle and Colombo ports in Sri Lanka, with medical teams and immediate relief material.
"The fact that India could deploy its navy within 24 hours of the tsunami created ripples in the world, including in Washington," pointed out analyst C. Uday Bhaskar of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).
The Indian Air Force and navy helicopters ferried packed food, medicines and drinking water and undertook rescue operations in Sri Lanka. Two field hospitals were established in Galle and Colombo before any other aid could reach the island country.
"Post-tsunami we have learnt more lessons in relief operations. Each of our ships carries one logistic brick (a pre-packed container of emergency supplies), which is sufficient to cater to 200 people for 30 days. The brick includes a community kitchen and packaged food to provide immediate relief and succour," an Indian Navy officer told IANS.
The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard also undertook relief work in the Maldives post-tsunami. Apart from conducting aerial surveys to search for survivors, India provided relief material.
In Indonesia, Indian ships offloaded emergency rations, medicines, tents and first-aid kits worth $1 million and established two field hospitals in the worst hit area, Aceh.
Said Bhaskar: "Traditionally aid is a potent tool of diplomacy. With a number of natural disasters hitting the Indian Ocean Region, the Indian Navy has acquired a great edge.
"Moreover, engaging in capacity building and capability enhancing is the direct way of enhancing influence," he added.
In February, the chiefs of a record number of 27 navies from the IOR took part in an Indian Ocean Naval Symposium in New Delhi in February this year.
"India's move should be seen in the light of China's interest in the region and the aid it has been showering on the nations to avoid a choking of its energy supplies," the officer added.
China has financed the construction of Pakistan's Gwadar port and the coastal highway linking the port to Karachi. The cost benefits to China of using Gwadar for western China's imports and exports are evident.
China has helped refurbish the Chittagong port in Bangladesh. Beijing also gives billions of dollars in military aid to Myanmar.
Said the Indian officer: "Aid diplomacy as a tool furthered India's foreign policy objectives after tsunami."
New J&K infiltration strategy worries Army
Nitin Gokhale, Zafar Iqbal
Friday, August 29, 2008, (LoC, Jammu)
A day after the terror attack in Jammu, there are fresh concerns.
Security forces say this incident indicates a change in strategy of militants and the Pakistani Army. The militants infiltrated from Pakistan by cutting the fence on the international border.
The Indian Army's extra vigil all along the Line of Control (LoC) this summer has prevented many terrorists from infiltrating into Kashmir.
So, the Pakistani Army is now encouraging infiltration through the International Border by providing cover fire to terrorists.
S Virk, DIG of Border Security Force, says: "It is clear that militants from the Pakistani side or may be the forces of Pakistan or their agencies who are doing all this, these people want to disturb the atmosphere in India and they want to resort to violent means to weaken the state."
There have been 33 ceasefire violations and over 200 infiltration attempts both along the IB and the LoC so far this year.
Many believe Pakistan's internal problems are at the heart of the trouble: instability within the government and a tussle for power with the ISI.
And with the ruling coalition in Pakistan still very shaky, New Delhi isn't sure who and what its dealing with.
With the LoC becoming almost difficult to cross this year, terrorists based in mainland Pakistan are now attempting to breach the IB closer to Jammu clearly to create further trouble in the already disturbed area.
COBRA force to combat Maoist menace
New Delhi, Thu, 28 Aug 2008 ANI
New Delhi, Aug 28 (ANI): The Union Government has given the green signal to raise a 10,000-strong special anti-Naxal force COBRA to combat the growing Left-wing extremism in the country.
The Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by the Prime Minister gave the nod to the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA), under the command and control of the CRPF.
K Durga Prasad, a 1981 batch IPS officer from Andhra Pradesh and an expert in handling the anti-naxal operations, is likely to take charge of the COBRA.
The new force will be set up at a cost of Rs 1,389.47 crore out of which Rs 898.12 crore will be spent on land and infrastructure while Rs 491.35 crore will be used for manpower training over a period of three years.
The CRPF, in the meantime, will provide its personnel till the recruitment and the training process of the fresh 10 battalions is completed.
The Prime Minister, during his address to the top police brass in October last year, had called for setting up a special force to tackle Left-wing extremism.
The COBRA personnel would be imparted special training in terrain and topography of their area of operation.
The COBRA will be headquartered in the national capital and will have battalion headquarters in every Naxal-affected state.
Naxalites have carried out several attacks this year which includes gunning down of more than two dozen personnel of Andhra Pradesh's elite force "Greyhounds" last month, killing of Orissa police personnel, political leaders and their kin. (ANI)
General Kapoor to visit UK to strengthen defence ties
Thu, 28 Aug 2008:
New Delhi, Aug 28 (ANI): Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor will be on four day official visit to the United Kingdom from September 1-4 to strengthen existing defence ties.
The visit by the Army Chief will add the necessary impetus to the existing defence relationship and broad-base it into a mutually benicial partnership.
During his visit, the Army Chief will interact with the senior military and civilian officials and will also discuss various defence related issues to strengthen existing defence ties with UK.
General Kapoor will be visiting Royal School of Artillery at Larkhill, Defence Academy at Shrivenham, Land Warfare Centre in Salisbury plains, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland and National Army Museum.
During his visit to Land Warfare Centre, General Kapoor will witness the training and preparation of Indian Mechanised Company which will be participating in a first ever joint training cum exercise on mechanized operations overseas with UK Land Warfare Centre Battle Gp (LWC BG) from August 27 to September 26.
This exercise is a reciprocal engagement to an earlier exercise carried out in high altitude areas of India in 2007 between Indian paratroopers and British Royal Marines.
A strong bilateral relationship is of priority for both countries for economic, commercial, historical and foreign policy reasons and presence of large Indian diaspora in UK.
India shares good bilateral and strategic relations with UK that are multifaceted and have been strengthened over the years with regular exchange of visits at political, diplomatic and military levels.
India's relations in the field of defence with UK have graduated from military cooperation to comprehensive defence comprehensive defence cooperation, to include courses, training for UN Peacekeeping Operations, joint training cum exercises in the fields of counter terrorism including employment of Special Forces, Mechanised Forces operations and exchange of observers on each others' Army exercises etc. (ANI)
Antony to lay foundation stone of Sainik School
Thu, 28 Aug 2008:
New Delhi, Aug 28 (ANI): Defence Minister AK Antony will lay the foundation stone of a Sainik School in Rewari district of Haryana on Friday.
Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh and Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju will also be present on the occasion.
Raonderjit Singh, who has worked painstakingly towards realizing this goal, said the Sainik School being set up at Tappa Gothra Khori village would be the second Sainik School in the state.
The Government of Haryana had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Defence in this regard.
"the Gram Panchayat played a vital role by donating about 50 acres of land for the Sainik School. Till the time the school building is constructed, temporary accommodation for the functioning of the school would be made available in the Primary School Building, Community Hall and Youth Hostel in Rewari town," he added.
He further said that the setting up of the Sainik School in Rewari district would fulfill a long pending demand of the inhabitants of this region. It would also enable the youth of the region to avail of the excellent educational facilities and discipline inculcated in Sainik Schools.
The first Sainik School in Haryana was set up at Kunjpura in Karnal district in 1961. The present state Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the Chief of the Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor are its most distinguished alumni. (ANI)
28 August, 2008 04:48:14
By Sridhar Kumaraswami
Aug. 28: Two employees of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) could be part of the second "high-altitude trek" to the Siachen glacier organised by the Indian Army this year which will take place in October.
The high-altitude trek is open to civilians and about 40 people in all could participate in the trek this year. South Block sources said that such a move would enable DRDO staff to have a first-hand experience of the hostile climatic conditions that Indian soldiers stationed in the Siachen glacier experience every year where temperatures drop to minus 40º Celsius during the peak of winter. The three-week trek is planned in October this year when temperatures are expected to be sub-zero at about -8º Celsius.
The DRDO officials told this newspaper that the organisation conducts a range of activities directed for the benefit of soldiers stationed at Siachen that include designing high-altitude winter clothing, growing food crops through trench farming in Leh (Ladakh region of J&K) as well as making packaged food that is consumed by the soldiers stationed in the region. The Indian Army had opened up the Siachen Glacier to civilians for the first time ever in 2007 and the Army’s Adventure Wing had organised the "high-altitude trek" to the Siachen glacier last year. The announcement by the Indian Army in September last year had also led to protests from Pakistan. Indian Army sources had said then that this was being done with the aim of promoting tourism now that there is peace in the Siachen Glacier region. Those who participated in the trek in 2007 included representatives from various mountaineering clubs, cadets from the NCC, Rashtriya Indian Military College and Indian Military Academy as well as those Armymen who were "trained glacial craft experts".
The ministry of defence has also been focusing on providing Indian soldiers stationed in Siachen with special shoes for the severe winter and also new equipment that would protect them from the threat of avalanches.
India and Pakistan have held talks on the Siachen issue that included various aspects including demilitarisation.
The Indian Army is keen on full demarcation of the ground position of troops in the region beyond the NJ 9842 (map co-ordinate) position on the glacier. The Indian Army also wants extension of any mutually agreed upon border demarcation straight up north from the NJ 9842 position along the ridgelines.
Jammu hostage drama: ill-equipped Army's tricky gambit
The battle-hardened Indian Army took 20 hours to resolve the hostage crisis in Jammu. Did the lack of appropriate weapons slow it down and endanger the hostages? CNN-IBN goes to the arms bazaar to look for smart weapons, which could sharpen India's counter-terrorist capability.
New Delhi: The biggest challenge for the Indian Army during Wednesday's hostage crisis in Jammu was breaching the house in which the terrorists were holed up.
The problem was the lack of specialised weapons, which could have helped the troops force their way in and confront the terrorists without harming the hostages. Instead, the Army was equipped with weapons that could have brought the house down but killed everyone in the bargain.
The Army’s only option was to outlast the terrorists in order to exhaust their ammunition reserve — a tricky gambit when time was at a premium.
What it desperately needed, but did not have, were the new generation of intelligent weapons for counter-terrorism.
Perhaps, what it needed was a door-breaching rifle-mounted grenade — nicknamed Simon — which can break down doors without endangering the hostages or soldiers who may otherwise have to risk being shot while physically forcing open the door.
Another good choice would have been the Matador shoulder-fired launch system, which can blow a hole in a wall without causing harm to those trapped. The idea is to deny the cover of walls to the enemy.
These are the first set of intelligent weapons designed to counter urban terrorism and to cause collateral damage.
It was, indeed, the pain of losing innocents in hostage situations led to the development of these weapons.
"The concept that inspired Simon was an incident that took place about 10 years ago in which one of the Israeli soldiers was kidnapped. The IDR forces knew that the soldier was there but they had no way no way of getting to him safely," a representative of Rafael Defence Systems, Maria, explains.
While India is arming itself to the teeth for conventional wars, which may never be fought, it has surprisingly chosen to fight protracted low-intensity proxy wars with low technology.
The resultant casualties have failed to move the decision makers sufficiently so far.
Jammu: Options that the Army was weighing
Surya Gangadharan & Vishal Thapar
New Delhi: The Chinor situation was the latest in a series of hostage crisis in Jammu and Kashmir. So what were the options that the Army was considering?
The Army was faced with tough choices in dealing with the hostage crisis in Jammu.
A senior Army officer outlined a three-fold scenario:
Option One: The Army identifies all points of entry into the house - in which civillians are being held hostage - in pitch darkness. A small team breaks in using small arms and throws stun and smoke grenades hoping to rescue the hostages unharmed.
Option Two: A maulvi is brought in to persuade the militants to surrender. If they are Kashmiris, this option could work. If they belong to the Lashkar-e-Toiba or the Jaish-e-Mohammad, this option will fail.
Option Three: There is a possibility the militants might attempt an escape, using the hostages as shields. The Army has developed tactics to separate the hostages from their captors and use sharpshooters to settle the issue. However, this third option may well allow the militants to escape, if that would save the hostages.
Major General Afsir Karim says, "This is the best opportunity (for the militants). They can mix with the crowds and disappear."
But the bigger worry is that more militants may be waiting to strike in Jammu, taking advantage of the communal tensions stoked by the Amarnath land controversy.
While in Kashmir, the insurgent strategy seems to be focussed on provoking security forces to fire on unarmed mobs, Jammu, on the other hand, could witness more direct attacks on innocents with an intent to deepen the communal divide.
What's clear out of all this is that Jammu is now firmly on the terror hitlist.
Pentagon brass meet secretly with Pakistanis
By PAULINE JELINEK – 7 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — With violence worsening in Afghanistan and Pakistan, top U.S. military officers conducted a secret strategy session with commanders from Islamabad on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that he came away from the meeting encouraged that Pakistanis are focused on the problem of militants using the country as a safe haven. But he indicated he's not satisfied that Islamabad and Washington are doing the best job they can against the growing threat.
He also said he had no new details on the investigation into an operation that Afghan officials say killed between 76 and 90 Afghan civilians last Friday. The U.S. has said it killed 25 militants and five civilians during the raid and resulting air strikes on a compound in the Shindand district of Herat province.
"We work exceptionally hard to minimize any collateral damage — zero collateral damage is the goal," Mullen said, adding that the U.S. regrets it when it occurs.
The meeting on the aircraft carrier Tuesday came after several weeks of Pakistani offensives against militants in Pakistan's volatile northwest — an effort American officials welcome but say has come nowhere near to stemming growing problems near the Afghan border.
The meeting aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln was the latest of several between Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and General Ashfaq Kayani, chief of staff of the Pakistani army.
Mullen told a Pentagon press conference that this time he also brought Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, who will soon leave to become the senior commander in the Middle East and Adm. Eric T. Olson, head of the Special Operations Command, and Lt. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, acting commander of American forces in the Middle East.
Also present was Gen. David McKiernan, NATO's commander in Afghanistan and Rear Adm. Michael LeFever, American military liaison in Pakistan.
Mullen declined to give details about discussions with Kayani, but said he has been moving in the right direction.
"Clearly, he's got a challenge," he said. "I'm encouraged that he's taken action and I also think it's going to take some time."
A U.S. official familiar with the discussion at Tuesday's meeting was "more collaborative," compared to a similar meeting a month ago when Mullen took a "more firm tone" in warning Kayani that Islamabad was not doing enough to counter militants waging cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.
Pakistan's military said in a statement that it was a "prescheduled meeting aimed at discussing security matters at strategic level. The discussion was held in an open and cordial manner."
Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the commanders analyzed the security situation in the region and that no new agreements were struck.
U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity about the meeting ahead of Mullen's press conference said it was not prompted by any recent political or military events, but rather planning for it began during Mullen's previous meeting with Kayani — a month ago in Pakistan.
Political turmoil has worsened in Pakistan — and violence in both Pakistan and Afghanistan — have increased since the last meeting.
Suspected militants bombed a bus carrying police and government officials in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing eight people, as fighting between security forces and extremists flared across the country's tribal belt.
The fresh violence comes days after ex-president Pervez Musharraf, a longtime U.S. ally, resigned as president, triggering a scramble for power that caused the country's ruling coalition to collapse.
Pakistan's five-month-old government initially sought to calm militant violence by holding peace talks. But U.S. officials have been pressing for tougher action against insurgents. Pakistan's army is now fighting insurgents in at least three areas of the northwest and claims to have killed several hundred militants in the recent offensives.
"They are doing more and becoming more effective," one U.S. defense official said privately of the effort. "But there is still a long way to go" in the tribal areas.
The second U.S. official said Pakistanis need to launch a "more concentrated effort."
Modernisation Plans of the Indian Army
By: Gurmeet Kanwal
Despite the army leadership’s best efforts, the ongoing Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) had, till recently, almost completely bypassed the Indian Army. For well over a decade the army’s efforts to modernise had been thwarted due to political neglect and lack of adequate budgetary support. The funds made available for modernisation are extremely limited and a large portion of these funds is surrendered year after year. For Financial Year 2006-07, a sum of Rs 3,000 crore was surrendered as unspent. The fact that 155 mm ammunition for the Bofors howitzer had to be imported from South Africa during the Kargil conflict in 1999 tells its own tale of persistent shortages. Had the conflict not been confined to the 150 km frontage of the Kargil sector, T-72 and 130 mm medium gun ammunition too would have run short and it would have been politically embarrassing for the government as well as the army. In the plains the army would have had to fight with obsolete Vijayant tanks and several other vintage equipment that were unsuitable for combat. However, sustained efforts by Army HQ have now borne fruit and the army’s modernisation drive is once again well underway.
In the prevailing era of strategic uncertainty, while terrorism has become the primary threat, the external and internal threats and challenges faced by India are such that a large army is still required to be maintained. Also, a high degree of preparation and operational readiness is still necessary as conventional war, though improbable, cannot be categorically ruled out. At the same time, heavy capital investments in modern defence equipment are undoubtedly a drain on a developing economy that is ill-equipped to handle the burgeoning defence expenditure. Several eminent analysts have recommended that qualitative upgradation should be accompanied by quantitative downsizing of personnel strength of the army. However, given its responsibilities for border management and the manpower-intensive low intensity conflict that the army is involved in, this is easier said than done.
Future conventional conflict on the Indian s ub-continent will in all probability result from the ongoing low-intensity limited war on the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan or the unresolved territorial and boundary dispute with China and will be predominantly a land conflict. The Indian Army seriously lacks a potent firepower punch, especially in the mountain sector. Precision-guided munitions (PGMs) have still to enter service in numbers large enough to make a real difference. The reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) assets necessary for the optimum exploitation of even the existing firepower assets are grossly inadequate. Automated command and control and decision support systems have been on the drawing boards for several decades but are yet to mature.
In a future conventional war that will be fought under the nuclear shadow, manoeuvre will be extremely limited. This restriction will lead to much greater emphasis being placed on firepower to achieve the laid down military aim. Hence, it is imperative that artillery modernisation is undertaken with alacrity so as to generate firepower asymmetries on the future battlefield. After a long spell of keeping the powder dry, action on modernisation of the Indian artillery is livening up once again. Since January 2008, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued three global tenders for 155mm guns and howitzers for the mountains, the plains and self-propelled guns for the deserts. Summer and winter trials are expected to be held over the next one year and, red tape permitting, contracts may be awarded as early as in the first half of 2010.
Artillery firepower had paved the way for victory during the Kargil conflict. Despite the lessons learnt in Kargil, modernisation of the artillery had continued to lag behind. The last major acquisition of towed gun-howitzers was that of about 400 pieces of 39-calibre 155mm FH-77B howitzers form Bofors of Sweden in the mid-1980s. This gun had proved its mettle in the Kargil conflict. Just when a contract for 120 tracked and 180 wheeled self-propelled (SP) 155mm guns was about to be concluded after years of protracted trials, South African arms manufacturer Denel, a leading contender for the contract, was alleged to have been involved in a corruption scam in an earlier deal for anti-material rifles (AMRs). The other two howitzers in contention, from Soltam of Israel and BAE (Bofors) of Sweden did not meet the laid down criteria according to the COAS and Army HQ recommended fresh trials, setting the programme back at least three to four years. Another key issue was that the howitzers that had been offered were technology demonstration models and not guns that were in actual service with the home country armies.
The probability of the next conventional war breaking out in the mountains is far higher than that of a war in the plains. With this in view, the artillery recently conceptualised a requirement for a light-weight towed howitzer of 155mm calibre for employment in the mountains. Neither the present Bofors howitzer nor its replacement will be capable of operations in the mountains. A light-weight 45-calibre 155mm howitzer weighing less than 5,000 kg, with a light but adequately powered prime mover, is ideal for the mountains. The gun-train should be capable of negotiating sharp road bends without the need to unhook the gun from the prime mover. The two British 45-calibre 155mm howitzers that competed for the US contract for a similar howitzer some years ago – the UFH (Ultra-lightweight Field Howitzer) and the LTH (Light-weight Towed Howitzer) – could be considered for licensed production with transfer of technology.
In January 2008, the MoD floated a Request for Proposal (RfP) for 140 pieces of ultra-light 39 calibre 155mm towed howitzers for use by the Indian Army’s mountain formations and, presumably, by its rapid reaction divisions – as and when these are raised as it will be easy to transport by air. 140 howitzers will be adequate to equip seven medium artillery regiments and will cost approximately Rs 3,000 crore. The RfP has been reportedly issued to UK’s BAE Systems (which now owns Bofors), for the M777 howitzer claimed to be the lightest in the world at under 4,220 kg, and to Singapore Technologies for the Pegasus SLWH.
India has floated a global tender for the purchase of 400 155mm towed artillery guns for the Army, to be followed by indigenous manufacture of another 1,100 howitzers, in a project worth a whopping Rs 8,000 crore. The RFP was issued to eight prospective bidders including BAE, General Dynamics, Nexter (France), Rhinemetall (Germany) and Samsung (South Korea). An RfP has also been issued for 180 wheeled self-propelled guns for around Rs 4,700 crore for employment by mechanised forces in the plains and semi-desert sectors.
Since the Bofors 155mm Howitzer was introduced into service, the indigenously designed and manufactured 105 mm Indian Field Gun (IFG) and its (not so) light version, the Light Field Gun (LFG), have joined the 75/24 Indian Mountain Gun, the 100mm Russian field gun and the 122mm Russian howitzer on the obsolescence list. Approximately 180 pieces of 130mm M46 Russian medium guns have been successfully “up-gunned” to 155mm calibre with ordnance supplied by Soltam of Israel. The new barrel length of 45 calibres has enhanced the range of the gun to about 40 km with extended range ammunition.
A contract for the acquisition of two regiments of the 12-tube, 300mm Smerch multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) system with 90 km range was reported to have been signed with Russia’s Rosoboronexport in early-2006. This will be a major boost for the long-range firepower capabilities of the army. If this weapon system had been available during the Kargil conflict, Pakistan’s brigade HQ and forward airfield at Skardu and other targets deep inside POK could have been hit with impunity. Extended range (ER) rockets are being introduced for the 122 mm Grad MBRL that has been in service for over three decades. The ER rockets will enhance the weapon system’s range from 22 to about 40 km. A Rs 5,000 crore contract has also been signed for the serial production of the Pinaka MBRL weapon system, another DRDO project plagued by time delays and completed with help from Larsen and Toubro and the Tatas.
The modernisation plan of tube artillery alone is likely to cost Rs 13,000 crore. The major acquisitions will be of initial lots of 400 towed howitzers of 155mm calibre, with a barrel length of 52 calibres, costing about Rs 4,000 crore, 140 ultra-light weight 155mm towed howitzers, with a barrel length of 45 calibres, costing Rs 3,000 crore and 180 SP 155mm howitzers costing Rs 5,000 crore. The “Shakti” project for a command and control systems for the artillery, called Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS), has reached the stage of maturity and is now being fielded up to the regimental level.
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile (Mach 2.8 to 3.0), with a precision strike capability, very high kill energy and range of 290 km, was inducted into the army in July 2007. It is a versatile missile that can be launched from TATRA mobile launchers and silos on land, aircraft and ships and, perhaps in future, also from submarines. Fifty BrahMos missiles are expected to be produced every year. Efforts are underway to further increase its strike range. BrahMos Aerospace has orders worth Rs 3,500 crore from the army and the navy, which has opted for the anti-ship as well as the land attack cruise missile (LACM) versions. These terrain hugging missiles are virtually immune to counter measures due to their high speed and very low radar cross section and are far superior to sub-sonic cruise missiles like Pakistan’s Babur. Chile, Kuwait, Malaysia and South Africa have shown interest in acquiring this missile.
The Indian army is extensively engaged in ongoing internal security (IS) and counter-insurgency operations (CI) and simultaneously needs to prepare itself for a future border conflict that may spill over to a larger conventional war in the plains. In keeping with these twin requirements, Army HQ have apparently decided to upgrade the IS and CI capabilities of infantry battalions as well as enhance their Infantry firepower-mobility-EW (electronic warfare) punch for a possible war in the plains against Pakistan or in the mountains against China. The Army Chief’s modernisation vision is to “adapt to high-end technology, improve night-fighting capability… (and) information technology, information warfare and network centric warfare.”
Despite its large-scale employment on border management and extensive commitments in Internal Security and Counter Insurgency operations, infantry modernisation had been languishing for several decades when the Ministry of Defence (MoD) finally cleared a visionary plan to modernise the army’s infantry battalions by according “in principle” approval in the form of Modification 4B to the war establishment (WE) of a standard infantry battalion in 1998. However, no funds were specially sanctioned for this purpose till the BJP-led NDA government approved the expenditure of Rs 3,500 crore in September 2003. Thereafter, approval had to be sought on file for each new weapon system or piece of equipment on a “case-by-case” basis as has become the norm. It is by now well-known how each such case chronicles the saga of an uphill struggle to get approval first from the MoD, then MoD (Finance) and, finally, the Ministry of Finance (MoF). All this is only possible after the DRDO has first certified that the weapon system or equipment in question cannot be developed and manufactured indigenously and such a certificate is hard to come by.
While 250 Kornet-E anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) with thermal imaging sights have substantially increased the anti-tank capability of infantry battalions, most efforts to modernise the equipment held by infantry and Rashtriya Rifles (RR) units are aimed at enhancing their capability for surveillance and target acquisition at night and boosting their firepower for precise retaliation against infiltrating columns and terrorists holed up in built-up areas. About 200 hand-held BFSRs with practical ranges up to seven to eight km where clear line of sight is available, 2,000 hand-held thermal imaging devices (HHTIs) with ranges up to 2,000 metres for observation at night and stand-alone infra-red, seismic and acoustic sensors with varying capabilities have enabled infantrymen to dominate the Line of Control so completely that infiltration has come down to almost a trickle.
The newly acquired weapons, which complement these surveillance and observation devices, include: 1,500x84 mm rocket launchers, including some disposable ones; 1,000 AMRs (anti-material rifles); 8,000 UBGLs (under-barrel grenade launchers); 4,000 new generation carbines; 300 bullet proof vehicles; and, several hundred accurate sniper rifles. However, the numbers acquired and the ammunition stocks are still inadequate and need to be made up more rapidly. While the INSAS 5.56 mm assault rifles have now been in service for almost 10 years and proved to be effective, the light machine gun (LNG) version is still facing teething problems and the carbine version for close quarter battle has not found favour with the army. New 5.56 mm assault rifles of bull-pup design with an integrated laser range finder and grenade launcher are under development. Efforts are also being made to provide infantry platoons and sections with integrated GPS-based navigation system, secure light-weight walkie-talkie radio sets and better protective gear with a helmet that incorporates a built-in head-up display.
The mechanised infantry is now equipped with the BMP-2 ICV Sarath of which over 1,000 have been built since 1987. A new variant is the 81 mm Carrier Mortar Tracked Vehicle (CMTV) that is based on the chassis of the Sarath ICV and has been indigenously developed to enhance the integral firepower available to mechanised infantry battalions. Other variants include a command post, an ambulance, armoured dozer and engineer and reconnaissance vehicles. Mechanised reconnaissance and support battalions need better surveillance radars, fire-and-forget ATGMs and effective night fighting capability. However, their capabilities can be upgraded on a lower priority compared with infantry battalions that are engaged in border management and IS/CI operations.
The army’s infantry battalions also need their own mini or micro UAVs like Elbit’s Skylark or Rafael’s Skylite, among others, to partly reduce the extent of patrolling necessary in internal security environment and to improve their surveillance capability in conventional conflict. These UAVs should have a range of about 10 to 15 km, should be light-weight (less than 10 kg), hand-launched, carry a single payload, e.g. a daylight video camera or infra-red camera for night operations, and should be inexpensive enough to be dispensable. A mini ground control station should be authorized at battalion HQ for planning and control. Ideally, these should be indigenously designed and developed and locally manufactured.
A new DRDO project, that is reported to be ongoing, aims to equip future soldiers with lightweight force multipliers. Soldiers of the future will have miniaturised communication and GPS systems, small power packs, weapon platforms and smart vests with fibre-optic sensors. The soldiers will also have better and lighter combat fatigues, boots, belts, ammunition pouches, rucksacks and rations in the form of meals-ready-to-eat. Though somewhat akin to the US Army’s Land Warrior programme, the Indian Army programme for modernisation of infantry battalions will result in only incremental changes. However, these would be significant enough to make a difference on the battlefields of the Indian sub-continent. The infantryman’s average combat load is approximately 27 kg, including the 3.06 kg 5.56 mm INSAS assault rifle and its “on weapon” ammunition. If this can be reduced by even a few kg, it will enable the soldier to improve his agility in battle and counter-insurgency operations. Ultimately an infantryman has to be prepared to engage in hand-to-hand combat and agility can make a difference between life and death.
For over 350 infantry battalions, plus about 150 Rashtriya Rifles, Assam Rifles and Territorial Army battalions, these major changes will be extremely costly to implement and will spill over at least 10 to 12 years – that is, if the funds can be found. What is certain is that there is no alternative to making the financial commitment that is necessary to enhance the operational capabilities of the army’s infantry battalions. Without modernising this cutting edge of its sword, the army will soon begin to resemble the armies of India’s lesser neighbours.
The indigenously designed Arjun main battle tank (MBT) has been in the pipeline for over two decades. Though the tank has many good features, it has consistently failed to meet the army’s GSQR for an MBT and orders have been placed for only 124 tanks to be manufactured. The lack of progress on the Arjun MBT had slowed down the pace of armour modernisation. India then signed a deal with Russia to acquire 310 T-90S tanks in the year 2000. Subsequently, India began to assemble these tanks at Avadi. It has recently been reported that in addition to these, India has decided to acquire another 347 T-90S tanks and assemble them within the country.
The first Indian assembled T-90S (Bhishma) rolled off the production line on January 8, 2004. While T-90S Russian tanks have provided new teeth to India’s strike formations in the plains and corrected the imbalance that had resulted from Pakistan’s acquisition of T-80 UD from Ukraine and the Al Khalid tanks jointly designed with China, a large number of T-72 (Ajeya) tanks are still awaiting modernisation. The lack of a suitable fire control system and night fighting capability are major handicaps. As soon as the obsolescent Vijayanta tanks are phased out of service, it will be time to also discard the old T-55s as well as they can no longer be either upgraded or modernised. Armour modernisation is now proceeding apace and can be classified as a success story.
The air defence (AD) of mechanised forces is another area that is crying for attention. The Kvadrat missile system that has been the backbone of AD for strike formations since the early 1970s are now ageing and need urgent replacement. With the DRDO’s indigenous Akash medium-range and Trishul short-range missile projects not making major headway, it is time to start looking at import substitutes. In fact, the assets of Army Air Defence corps of the army are grossly inadequate to provide effective protection against enemy aircraft during war. This young corps requires substantial capital infusion to really come into its own.
Another DRDO project that is way behind schedule is the Nag anti-tank missile system. The antiquated Jonga-mounted SS-11 B1 anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system has been replaced in missile battalions by MILAN shoulder-fired ATGMs. However, a vehicle-mounted missile system like the Nag is definitely necessary for reconnaissance and attrition tasks. The experimental Plan AREN tactical communications system for strike formations needs early replacement. The ability to carry broadband data needs to be enhanced in particular. Even the more recent static communications network called ASCON lacks ISDN capability for the real-time transmission of maps and streaming video.
While some Stentor long-range BFSRs have been in service for over a decade, medium-range radars are still to be acquired. At least about 30 to 40 weapon locating radars (WLRs) are required for effective counter-bombardment, especially in the plains, and only a few have been procured so far. Israeli Searcher-I unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been introduced into service but these are few in number and it will be a long time before these will really make a difference by providing a real-time surveillance capability so that ground forces can initiate action even as a fresh input is received. Only a small number of Searcher – II UAVs, with an upper ceiling that makes them suitable for the mountains, have been acquired.
An automated command and control and decision support system for use by the General Staff is still a far cry and so are supporting systems like the battlefield surveillance system and air space management system. The urgent requirement of real-time satellite reconnaissance systems has still not been accepted despite the nuclear overhang under which the armed forces now operate. Even though the cameras on India’s remote sensing and cartographic satellites now have sharply enhanced resolutions, less than one metre, military-grade photographs of still better resolution are needed to be purchased from the open market. These sources may dry up quickly during war.
A “system of systems” approach must be followed so that scarce RSTA and communications resources can be synergistically configured and optimally exploited. The war in Iraq fought in March-April 2003 was based on the concept of “network-centric warfare” in which surveillance sensors, targeting systems and “shooters” are fused together in a seamless “system of systems” that reduced response time between the acquisition of a target and its destruction to 15 to 20 minutes. While such a system may take over a decade to establish, a beginning must be made right away.
PGMs are increasingly gaining currency as weapons of choice in conflict on land, both to accurately destroy critical hard targets quickly as well as to avoid or at least minimise collateral damage. During the Gulf War I in 1991, despite all the CNN-generated hype of smart bombs flying unerringly through ventilators, PGMs formed less than 10 percent of the total high explosive dropped over Iraq and were rather inaccurate. The “collateral” destruction of an air raid shelter harbouring women and children has been too well documented to bear recounting. The coalition forces did not destroy a single Iraqi Scud missile launcher. In Kosovo, PGMs accounted for about 30 per cent of the ordnance dropped and accuracies had improved considerably by 1999. In the post-September 11, 2001 retribution inflicted on the Taliban militia and its al Qaeda supporters in Afghanistan, the share of PGMs had risen to nearly 60 percent. In Gulf War II in Iraq, the ratio of PGMs went up to nearly 70 per cent. The Indian artillery does not have any PGMs worth the name. Only limited quantities of the Russian Krasnopol PGM have been imported for the Bofors 155 mm howitzer. Among others, the Bofors Bonus PGM is a suitable candidate, subject to successful trials in the deserts and the mountains.
Finally, the approach to army modernisation must be more focused; the priorities must be clearly established and then adhered to. The government must give a firm commitment in terms of funds and the Ministry of Defence must streamline its procedures and processes for speedy procurement of high priority weapons and equipment. It is time to institute a rolling, non-lapsable defence modernisation fund of Rs. 25,000 crores as a viable method of ensuring that defence procurement is not subjected to the vagaries of annual budgets. The present situation is disturbing and, if allowed to go on indefinitely, will seriously compromise the army’s preparedness to fight the next border war that inimical neighbours like Pakistan can be expected to thrust on India.—(ADNI)
(The writer is Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi.)
A strategic wishlist
This one is obviously from the US military, specifically the US Army War College. It is this year’s Key Strategic Issues List (pdf) which, is a call for academic research on key strategic questions. It is a sneak peak into the problems the US Army is looking to solve now. This is 171 pages long… only of research topics, 171 pages! Phew!
Some topics culled from that voluminous list are:
- Balancing U.S. security interests between India and Pakistan
- Role of India in world events and U.S.-Indian military-strategic relations
- Assessing the gap between civilian and military cultures
- Women in combat: laws and norms
- What proportion of U.S. land power should be focused on counterinsurgency operations and how should it be organized, trained, equipped, and deployed?
- Integrating military and nonmilitary tools to achieve strategic objectives and avoid or resolve potential conflict
- Strategic implications of Chinese activity in Africa
Forget an equal volume of in-depth research on such topics in India. Has anyone even prepared such a list of topics that ought to interest the Indian defence services?
Real pathbreaking research should ideally tell us what no one knows but is true nonetheless. Whereas, the commonly produced research on matters of national defence at quasi-government research bodies was rightly labelled by a very dear friend as “repetitive, simplistic, and insulting” and “produced on the cheap”.
Knowledge is power. Always has been, always will be. Has anyone ever written a pithy aphorism about the advantages of wilful ignorance? None of us have ever found one, and we all know why…
When will the services acknowledge this simple truism?
Government Urges Private Sector to Invest in Defense Research, Development
Indian industry will have to step up investments in R&D in order to meet the requirements of the country's armed forces, defence minister AK Antony said here. These investments, the minister said, are necessary for companies to enhance their technological capabilities.
''Indian industry has to improve its technological capability so as to become suppliers of complete systems rather than just being suppliers of raw materials and components,'' he said at the INDAIR 2008 seminar. The two-day seminar, ''A strategic partnering of Indian Air Force and industry on modernisation and indigenisation,'' was held in New Delhi, and was jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The failure of defence production units to adhere to time schedules, Antony said, was affecting the government's initiatives towards indigenisation and up-gradation of the defence forces. He also said that the recently announced Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) was an opportunity for the Indian industry to become an active partner in the modernization of the defence forces. In his address, the minister of state for defence production, Rao Inderjit Singh, conceded that the IAF inventory was decades-old and had to be speedily upgraded.
''While earlier, one could say that the modernisation process was hindered by the lack of funds, this was not the case today. It is for the industry to step forward and take up the challenge,'' he noted and expressed optimism that Indian industry could become an active systems integrator for the defence forces. He said industry should actively join hands with defence public sector undertakings. Earlier, delivering the keynote address, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal FH Major said the force was on the threshold of a major transformation. Ruing the fact that 70 per cent of the IAF's equipment needs were still met by foreign companies, he said it was important that this be reversed, ''if we are to meet our goal of strategic self-reliance''.
''The emerging service requirements, the economic environment and government policies have created a great opportunity for the industry.'' the air chief said, adding: ''If we succeed in establishing a firm foundation today, our aerospace capability would jump a generation ahead.'' Accepting that it was difficult for industry to achieve core competencies in all spheres, Major urged Indian companies to identify emerging technologies and concentrate on developing them.
In his welcome address, Atul C Kirloskar, chairman of the CII national committee on defence and chairman and managing director, Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd, said while the new DPP was a favourable move for Indian industry to partner in the production and maintenance of defence weapon systems, the delay in the notification of the'''Raksha Udyog Ratnas'' was an ''opportunity lost''.
Air Marshal Gautam Nayyar, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, maintenance command, told the participants that industry must keep in mind the IAF's stringent quality requirements and assured it of full support in evolving such standards. He suggested collaboration between private industry and the defence research laboratories in this regard, and expressed confidence that opportunities for Indian industry would grow as the defence forces became more transparent about their projects.
The two-day seminar addressed issues like perspectives and procedures of indigenisation and modernisation; indigenisation process for airborne spares; modernisation of industrial facilities and production infrastructure; and material handling, transportation and warehousing, among others.