Top brass takes stock of defence readiness
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 20
With tension mounting in India-Pakistan relations in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this evening held a meeting with senior ministers and service chiefs, and is believed to have discussed the security scenario and the defence preparedness.
According to sources, the Prime Minister held talks with defence minister A.K. Antony, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P. Chidambaram and national security adviser M.K. Narayanan. The service chiefs and intelligence chiefs were also summoned for the meeting later.
The meeting assumes importance in view of Pakistan's refusal to cooperate with India in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks. The meeting at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) capped a series of high-level interactions held earlier in the day at different levels to beef up security across the country, especially in border areas.
Earlier in the day, the defence minister presided over a meeting with Coast Guard and his ministry officials to review the security of Indian coastline at which he cleared the acquisition proposals for the sea-guarding agency.
Meeting of Indian envoys to expose Pak duplicity convened
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 20
Convinced that the terrorist infrastructure as well as logistical support to anti-India elements by 'para-state apparatus' remain unchallenged in Pakistan, the government is mounting a major diplomatic offensive to expose Islamabad over its duplicity in dealing with terrorism.
As part of the initiative, the government has convened a two-day meeting of about 150 Indian heads of missions here on Monday.
According to official sources, the meeting is expected to be addressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The government is likely to give a detailed power presentation to the Indian envoys on the complicity of elements in Pakistan in the Mumbai terror attack and how Islamabad was trying to hoodwink the world community by taking cosmetic measures against the terrorists operating on its soil.
The Indian ambassadors will be told by the country's leadership to convince their host countries that Pakistan would continue to harbour terrorists, posing a danger not only to India but to the world at large. Applying intense pressure on Islamabad was the need of the hour if the world was to get rid of terrorism as Pakistan had become the epicentre of the menace. The diplomats will also interact with top officials of the external affairs ministry as well as security and intelligence agencies.
The Prime Minister is understood to have today discussed with his senior ministerial colleagues the situation arising from Pakistan's defiant attitude in the face of mounting evidence about the involvement of elements in the neighbouring country in the Mumbai attack.
It is becoming quite clear to New Delhi that Pakistan is in a denial mode and would refuse to see reason in New Delhi's demand that it stop the misuse of its territory for terrorist activities, given the fact that there were multiple centres of power in the neighbouring country,with each pulling in a different direction.
In fact at a conference here today, Mukherjee hinted at the Pakistani establishment's backing to terrorists who struck in Mumbai and said such strikes could be carried out with impunity only when the safety of the handlers of attackers had been assured.
Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist who was caught alive during the terror attack in Mumbai, had given to investigators a chilling account of his handlers. "The impunity with which these attacks are carried out is possible only because of the safety the handlers have been assured,'' he said.
Mukherjee had also done some tought talking yesterday in his address to a convention on South Asia. He said "the Mumbai attack is the latest instance of how sub-regionalism, regionalism and multilateralism are directly threatened by non-state actors with the aid of para-state apparatus. In the face of the gravest of provocations perhaps, the time has come now to fine-tune India's priorities.''
A tough-talking Mukherjee said the repeated appeals by India to Pakistan over the years to ensure that it did not provide any support to terrorist activities and dismantled the terrorist infrastructure had been ignored, despite Islamabad's assurances. "If a country cannot keep the assurances that it has given, then it obliges us to consider the entire range of options that exist, to protect our interests and our people from this menace.''
Noting that the internal security situation in Pakistan was deteriorating, he said power had fragmented landing in many hands, leading to the emergence of multiple centres of power. This had been reflected in attempts at cross-border infiltration as also in the increase in ceasefire violations, climaxed by the Mumbai terror attack. "It is also true that the issue of terrorism within Pakistan is deeply embroiled in the internal politics of that country.''
Pakistan Becoming Failed State: Nawaz Sharif
Nawaz Sharif, chief of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), has said the entire system of the country seems to be collapsing and slammed the government for presenting a picture of a "failed state" in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
The former prime minister strongly criticized the government led by President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for the flip-flops in its statements following the Mumbai attacks and challenged Zardari's assertion that there was no proof that the Mumbai attackers belonged to Pakistan.
Sharif, who belongs to Pakistan's Punjab province, said the village of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested in Mumbai, was cordoned off and his parents were not allowed to meet anyone.
"I have checked myself. His (Ajmal Kasab) house and village has been cordoned off by the security agencies. His parents are not allowed to meet anybody. I don't understand why it has been done," Sharif said in an exclusive interview to Geo TV Thursday night.
He called for allowing people and media to meet Imran's parents so that the truth will come out. "We need some kind of introspection," he added.
The former prime minister said the entire system of the country had failed, that it was becoming a failed state, and called for adopting a fresh road map with renewed commitment in order to save it.
"I don't want to create problems for the government …. the country could destabilize if a movement is carried out on streets," Sharif said.
Stressing that he was not after the post of president, Sharif said: "We still want this government to complete its five-year term… I don't want the position of President Asif Ali Zardari".
The PML-N chief also called on the people to come forward and play their role towards saving this country, which is heading towards nowhere.
Expressing his anger with Zardari for breaching his promises on reinstating judges sacked by Musharraf, Sharif said: "To Asif Ali Zardari promises are meant to be broken but to us promises are always meant to be fulfilled".
He called on the PPP to recognise the will of its former leader Benazir Bhutto regarding the Charter of Democracy and demanded the government keep its promises regarding the 17th amendment of the constitution, allowing the judiciary to function independently.
Army reinstates 26,700 soldiers sacked on health grounds
20 Dec 2008, 0600 hrs IST, Ajay Sura, TNN
CHANDIGARH: A month after orders from the Delhi high court, the Indian Army on Friday issued instructions reinstating 26.707 soldiers it had sacked on grounds of health, and asked them to report to their respective regimental centre or record office by December 31.
In its orders, passed on November 20, the high court had directed Army authorities to reinstate all 26,707 soldiers discharged on April 12, 2007, on medical grounds like hypertension. The ruling had come after hearing of a petition filed by Naib Subedar Vijay Kumar and others.
The petitioner had alleged that the Army discharged him and others in violation of certain rules and regulations as soldiers can be discharged on health grounds only after detailed examination from a medical board.
Moreover, soldiers with 50% disability have to be posted in peace areas. But in the present case, the Army had immediately discharged the soldiers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, in clear contravention of established rules.
The HC, while maintaining the soldiers should be reinstated with all benefits, had also criticized the Army chief for not referring to the Army constitution and forming a board to review the lay-offs. All the affected soldiers are junior commissioned officers (JCO).
There is a small rider, though. Those who fail to report to their respective record office or unit by December 31 will be considered "discharged from service". Giving details about the latest instructions, a Defence spokesperson told TOI that soldiers who have not approached any court will be issued an option letter to rejoin by Jan 20, 2009. "Failure to rejoin will be considered as acceptance by the individual regarding his discharge from service," he added.
26/11 designed to provoke Indo-Pak relations: Cohen
Sunday, December 21, 2008 8:33 AM (Chennai)
More voices continue to speak out against Pakistan's inability to control terror being sponsored from its territory.
Well-known US strategic analyst Stephen P Cohen in an exclusive interview to NDTV has said that what happened in Mumbai is the second major international crisis after 9/11 in terms of people from 22 different countries being killed.
Excerpts from the interview:
NDTV: What should Pakistan do?
Stephen P Cohen, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute, Washington DC: The problem with Pakistan for a number of years has been that it does not control its own state. There are elements in Pakistan who in the past wanted to provoke India. Or exercise influence outside of Pakistan.
The Americans worked with them in defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan. There's nothing new. There are elements in India who do the same thing with regard to other countries. East Pakistan for example. What's new is that the two countries cannot use force to deal with each other. It's the same as the US and Soviets. There's a limit to how much you can provoke the other.
What both countries are doing is that they are allowing groups to go and provoke the other side. Sometimes it's state sponsored and sometimes it's amateur. In this case I don't think the Pakistan leadership was involved at all. On the other hand the Pakistan leadership can't control its own country.
NDTV: There has not been any attack in the US after 9/11 or 7/7 in the UK. But India has seen a lot of terror attacks. Is it a case of India being taken for granted?
Stephen P Cohen: India is a bigger country. It's softer in some ways. It's also closer to where a lot of these people hang out. Afghanistan and Pakistan. But even India has allowed its territory to be used by elements which have destabilised its neighbours. It's not purely a Pakistan issue. I have just returned from Sri Lanka where there s a lot of talk of Indian Tamils being engaged in Sri Lanka supporting the Tigers. So no country is blameless.
States do have a responsibility to control their own territory. Right now Pakistan is unable of doing it. There may be elements of Pakistan state that are complicit also. We are not sure completely how far up in the ISI or the military this goes. But there is not military solution to this. Using military might feel good. It might hurt the other side. You can't stop these things.
The attack was designed among other things to provoke India-Pakistan bad relations. I thought it was designed to hurt the Zardari government. That was true of the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. Their target simply wasn't India but to show the world that Zardari had no control over what happened. Perhaps, over his own government.
So, you have to exercise deep restraint if you know that you are being provoked. You have to resist that provocation. On the other hand in India public opinion is outraged. And this was the second major international crisis after 9/11 in terms of people from 22 different countries being killed.
NDTV: India has come up with a tougher anti-terror law and a federal investigating agency like an FBI. Is that one positive step forward?
Stephen P Cohen: That's for the Indian government to decide. There's a danger in all these circumstances. Including what happened in the US. After 9/11 we began to lose some of our liberties. You do have to lose some of them to protect against terrorists. We take off our shoes, belts in airports. The terrorists have forced us to do that. We try to maintain our social and political freedom.
So, the Indians will have to be careful to balance freedom and liberties with the requirements of security. But clearly as we saw on television you did require much expertise. Indians were not prepared for this at all. The top three people went in and got killed right away. There was no coherent anti-terrorist operation when operating that way. So, clearly a lot of restructuring and reorganising has to take place.
US closely monitoring Indo-Pak relations after Mumbai attacks
Press Trust of India
Saturday, December 20, 2008 11:37 AM (Washington)
Lauding India for its "measured response" in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror strikes, a top Pentagon official has said various US agencies are keeping a close watch on the developments taking place in both New Delhi and Islamabad.
"We're working closely with Central Command and with Department of State, Office of the Secretary of Defence and the intelligence agencies to make sure we are as fully apprised, as fully aware of developments in that particular part of the world as we can be," Admiral Timothy Keating, Commander of the US Pacific Command has said.
"I have been in contact with our ambassador in India, with Indian military leaders, and I am grateful for the very measured response that India has demonstrated. We have not done anything significantly different from the Pacific Command in terms of military presence or posture in the wake of the terrorist attacks," the top Pentagon official said.
Stating that US is willing to share its experiences with India through an initial part of a package on the painful lessons learnt by Americans in the aftermath of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, he said he had expressed Washington's desire to New Delhi in his conversations with Indian leaders.
"We are working through an initial parts of a package that we would offer to India to help them understand some of the painful lessons learnt in the wake of September 11 attacks through information sharing, collaboration and cooperation.
And I have expressed our willingness to provide that to New Delhi in my conversations with Indian leaders," Admiral Keaton said.
At a briefing at The Foreign Press Center in Washington, Admiral Keating, when asked for his assessment of relations between India and Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks and whether the two nations have successfully avoided the military confrontation, he said Washington is satisfied the way both the countries have handled the dangerous situation.
"I think the most important part is the very horrific nature of the attacks, the very calm measured response demonstrated by India thus far and our hopes that all throughout our region in particular and all throughout the world, folks will understand that the struggle against violent extremes -- violent extremists continues to this day," Keating replied.
"I would meet with General Dave Petraeus soon. One of the main topics of our conversation will be the Pacific Command and Central Command position on a mil-to-mil basis, vis-a-vis the response. The position of India and Pakistan following the horrific attacks on Mumbai on Thanksgiving."
"Mumbai is just the latest place where the victims number -- innocent victims number in the hundreds. And it remains our foremost objective in the Asia-Pacific Region to deter and prevent those kinds.
Top-level meet reviews security scenario
PTI | December 20, 2008 | 22:53 IST
A high-level assessment of the security scenario in the light of Indo-Pak tensions was undertaken at a marathon meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Defence Ministry in New Delhi on Saturday night.
Three seniormost ministers, Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony and P Chidambaram, besides National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, three services chiefs and intelligence chiefs participated in the meeting which lasted around four hours.
There was no media briefing on it.
Meanwhile, the army is understood to have cancelled leave to its personnel till April.
Singh drove from his residence to the South Block housing the defence ministry and held the crucial parleys.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of a new low in ties with Pakistan, which is not not seen as actively cooperating with India in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks trained from their soil.
Mukherjee had yesterday said that India was obliged to consider the entire range of options that exist in the face of failing to keep its assurances.
Earlier in the day, the Defence Minister presided a separate meeting with Coast Guard and Defence Ministry officials to review the security of Indian coastline where he cleared the acquisition proposals for the sea-guarding agency.
At a previous meeting with the three Services chiefs on December 18, Antony had reviewed the armed force's preparedness to tackle the terror threat facing the country.
No one to show me where son died: Slain NSG's father
REMEMBERING BRAVEHEARTS: Eighteen people had lost their lives in the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai.
New Delhi: For a grieving family looking for closure, the politics over the death of Anti-Terrorism Squad Chief, Hemant Karkare has indeed been disturning. Hemant Karkare's widow, Kavita Karkare on Saturday spoke for the first time at a public rally.
Eighteen people who lost their lives in the 26/11 terror attack were remembered at a public function in Mumbai's Sivaji Park where Kavita Karkare made her first public speech after the death of her husband.
"Hemant was a hero and he died a hero. So children, you should become like him," she said.
The father of slain NSG commando, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was also present at the gathering.
"I have lost my son, but I have thousands of sons all over India to die for the country," he said in an emotional speech. He also lamented that there was no one to show him where his son had been gunned down.
"I wanted to see where my son died, where his body was lying but nobody would show me the place. The only policemen standing there were chewing paan masala (tobacco)," he stated.
However, what was heartening for those who had lost loved ones in the war against terror was that 50,000 college students from three universities took a pledge promising to fight terror and preserve India's sovereignty and unity. The families of those who died saving Mumbai would at least go back assured that Mumbai remembers its bravehearts.
US builds pressure on Pak; India mulls military strike
ON GUARD: Indian Air Force pilots walk towards their fighter aircraft at an airbase in Western Sector.
New Delhi: India and the United States of America are keeping the pressure up on Pakistan but US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Islamabad is just not doing enough to curbs the activities of terror groups.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee slammed the Pakistani government's attitude on cracking down on terror organisations following the Mumbai terror attacks.
"One of the terrorist who has been captured alive has given us a chilling account of his handlers. A few months earlier the Indian Embassy in Kabul was the target of a terrorist attack. The impunity with which these attacks are carried out is possible only because of the safety the handlers have been assured," said Mukherjee.
India also shared with Interpol details of the nine terrorists who were killed in 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Interpol will seek more information about them from Pakistan.
But India is demanding answers to a more fundamental question as well as to just who is in charge in Islamabad.
Is it Pakistan President Asif Ali Zaradri or is it Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani?
"The pretence of democracy is not equivalent to democratisation. We do not believe that it is for us to advocate how other countries should be governed but we most certainly like to know whom we should deal with viz-a-viz another government. In other words who runs the show?" asked an angry Mukherjee.
Pranab's point was that the Zardari government is obligated to punish those who carried out the Mumbai attacks and it is a view echoed in Washington as well.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said, "We have seen some positive steps, though they are not nearly enough at this point. It's a new civilian government just finding its footing in Pakistan."
But what if Pakistan is unwilling or unable to act in the days ahead?
Mukherjee has already said that all options are open giving credence to the claim made by influential geopolitical think tank Stratfor, which believes India is ready to attack Pakistan.
According to Stratfor precision strikes in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and special operations in Pakistan are merely awaiting a political go ahead leaving Islamabad to remember its powerful friends.
"When friends like China are with us how can we be isolated," claimed Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.
India is aware that military strikes will not root out terrorism from Pakistan but it is also aware at the same time that such strikes have symbolic value ahead of elections.
UN pats Pak, says it's acting against terror groups
A DIFFERENT EDUCATION: A school run by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa in Pakistan. The group has been banned.
New Delhi: Pakistan has satisfactorily complied with the UN's sanctions on terrorist gtoups, a top UN official has said.
Richard Barrett is the Coordinator of the Security Council established al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Committee, which has the task of monitoring sanctions imposed by the Security Council on individuals and organisations declared as terrorist.
Barrett told CNN-IBN in New York that it was difficult to implement the sanctions completely, but the UN has found all Pakistani agencies were cooperative.
"I found in all my dealings with officials in Pakistan, whether it's the government, elected officials, ministries or the intelligence services or the Army, and we deal with all of those bodies – I found very good atmosphere of cooperation between them as well as with us," Barrett told CNN-IBN
"It is very difficult for a state to implement that (sanctions) completely, but yes in a way Pakistani government is working to ensure fruitful compliance," he said.
Barrett indicated that the cooperation was across the board, covering civil and military agencies and ministries. Barrett is expected to visit Islamabad soon to make an assessment of Pakistan's actions so far and what more needed to be done.
Barrett had earlier said the Security Council has the power to take action against nations if they are found to be not taking action against individuals and organizations branded as terrorists.
The Associated Press reports the Pakistan Government—acting after the United Nations declared the Jamaat a terrorist group and a front for Lashkar-e-Toiba—has shuttered all of its offices, arrested scores of activists and put its entire leadership under house arrest.
India blames the Lashkar for the terrorist attacks on Mumbai last month that killed more than 200 people.
'Pakistan not afraid of India's war preparations'
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: Pakistan is not afraid of India's preparations for war, a private TV channel quoted Defence Ministry officials as saying on Saturday.
They were responding to an intelligence report saying India had prepared for a war with Pakistan in the wake of terrorist attacks in Mumbai last month that it blames on elements in Pakistan.
According to the channel, the officials said that the Pakistani political and military leadership was fully aware of the situation on the Indian border, deployment of Indian Army troops along the Line of Control in Kashmir and the activities of the Indian paramilitary Border Security Force, and added that the Pakistan Army was on high alert.
National security institutions had been meeting on a daily basis to review the day-to-day security situation and send reports to the prime minister, the president and the defence minister, they said.
Citing sources that it did not identify, the channel said the Pakistan Army had been making its own preparations for a possible war.
A Tribune Special
Backbone of the combat aircraft
IAF needs the cutting-edge capability, say Gulshan Luthra and Air Marshal Ashok Goel (retd)
AIR power is about reach. Reach of the fighter aircraft, but supported and sustained by a complex system of transport aircraft, helicopters, midair refuelers, AWACs, communication assets, ultramodern airbases, and certain other factors. Timely supplies of equipment and weapons, and logistics, constitute the backbone of combat jet operations.
Transport aircraft play a defining role as the mobility needed in the combat operations depends on them. At the same time, helicopters also have an independent and highly significant role of their own; they reach where fixed aircraft cannot go.
To airlift troops, equipment, weapons, or to evacuate pilots from a combat zone, injured soldiers or stricken civilians, or to act as a gunship in combat or urban environment, the helicopter is the ideal flying machine.
Like its combat jets, the Indian Air Force (IAF) needs to augment its strength both in transport aircraft and helicopters. Of course, steps are being taken now, and according to Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major, an RfP for 12 heavy lift helicopters to replace the old Mi 26 is round the corner, while another RfP for timely replacement of the IL 76 fleet with what he called Very Heavy Transport Aircraft (VHTAC) is being finalised.
One only hopes that there are no interests this time who oppose the modernisation of the Indian Air Force as well as the Army and Navy. We need not be reminded of poor systems only when situations like the Kargil War, or as this time, the terror attack on Mumbai happen.
Replacement of worn out systems, and their augmentation in line with growing requirements is a periodic exercise, and the process must not be tempered with. There are aberrations indeed some times in the acquisition process, but as and when they happen, cases should be isolated and quarantined for investigation.
As for the existing fleet, we need to consider this: IAF inducted the AN 32 medium lift aircraft beginning 1984, and the heavy lift IL 76 aircraft beginning 1985 from the erstwhile Soviet Union. As per the manufacturers' or suppliers' specifications, both these aircraft have outlived their calendar lives in terms of the number of flying hours as well as the number of landing.
Right now, some extension is being given to both these aircraft with newer engines and avionics to make them useful for another 15 years beyond what is technically called the "Total Technical Life or TTL."
It may be noted that while western manufacturers indicate the life of their aircraft by the number of flying hours, the Soviets/ Russians follow the number of landings to measure the life of an aircraft. But the way IAF has innovatively used transporter aircraft, on high altitudes, or even for bombing missions has surprised even the Russians.
Necessity is the mother of invention. With limited availability of systems and steadily rising demands in war and peace, Indians have played with sophisticated systems as no one else.
For instance, during the Chinese aggression, IAF modified the propeller-driven Fairchild Packet aircraft by adding a third engine on the top of its fuselage for its operations in the thin Himalayan air of North and North-eastern India. It used the Orpheus jet engine of its Gnat fighter aircraft.
The experiment was not very successful as the engine was heavy and virtually neutralised the advantage it generated. But the Americans, who had supplied the aircraft to India, caught on, improved upon the idea and installed better jet packs on their own and Indian aircraft.
During the Bangladesh crisis leading to the 1971 War, the Indian Army expected a major attack from Pakistan in the western sector. Sure enough, when the Pakistani Army deployed some 30,000 troops in an attempt to cut off Kashmir from the rest of India, IAF used its AN 12 aircraft to carpet-bomb their concentrations, and flattened the attack formations.
Aircraft of the 44 Squadron flew night missions in waves of six, unescorted, rolling out nine tonnes of fire from each aircraft. Night fighting capability was zero with both the countries in those days, and the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) was unable to intercept even a single AN 12.
Wg-Cdr B.V. Vashisth inspired and led the waves virtually in every mission, setting an unprecedented record. He was awarded India's second highest gallantry award, the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) while the squadron won three Vir Chakras (VrCs).
The Soviets expressed amazement at the war fighting capability of their own aircraft. The magnificent machine, inducted in 1961, was phased out in 1993.
IAF has a record though of operating various machines well beyond their limitations, and in the most difficult and inhospitable terrains, whether it is combat or transport aircraft, or helicopters. Routine ferries to Siachen are an example. To do innovations, however, the armed forces must at least have contemporary systems. Strap-on booster shots cannot make up for numbers and the accelerating pace of technology. Some so-called experts say that once the IAF inducts modern machines, the number of aircraft, both combat and transporters, can come down. That's a strange argument. They forget that others are also going in for newer systems, and rather than simply matching developments around us, it is time to go in for capability-based acquisitions rather than threat-based systems.
As pointed out, we purchased our Mirage 2000 and Mig 29 aircraft in response to Pakistan's acquisition of F16 aircraft, Harpoon anti-shipping missiles, C³I computers and other systems from the US in 1982. It takes our system long — around seven years to acquire an aircraft —and if every time we were to buy something in response, we would be nowhere.
India is a large country, with hostile neighbours and hostile elements in neighbouring countries. India also has a large coastline that requires constant patrolling and offensive measures against infiltration. The armed forces can fight, but the political system has to have the will to make sure that the Navy has the best ship, the Army the best gun, and the Air Force the best aircraft. And well in time.
Armed forces play a decisive role in peacetime also. Besides deterrence emanating from their strength, they are the best and most organised means to alleviate suffering in any major natural disaster. But for the IAF, many Indians would die every year. This role need never be under-estimated.
It is worthwhile here to quote Deputy National Security Adviser Shekhar Dutt, who is also a former Defence Secretary. He told the National Seminar on Aerospace Technologies (N-SAT) held in September by the India Strategic defence magazine that India needs a "high-end capability air force" be it in combat jets, transport aircraft and helicopters, or advanced systems.
"The sheer expanse of our geography, which includes land borders with five countries and a 7,500+ km coastline along with our Exclusive Economic Zones, makes monitoring and protecting our sovereign territory a significant challenge. It makes control of the airspace above our territory and maritime approaches especially crucial."
Warning that "we are living in a volatile region" – and he mentioned this in September, well before the Pakistani terrorists attacked Mumbai – he observed: " Our defence preparedness and, I daresay expeditionary capability, for undertaking operations to protect our strategic interests has to evolve accordingly. This aspect becomes important as water, energy and maritime resources will increasingly become issues of future conflicts.
" India needs an air force with a high-end capability that will ensure the confidence of victory. India also needs a strike capability that will allow India more scope to determine the pace and parameters of hostilities, impose major costs on an adversary contemplating hostile action against us, along with providing requisite support to Indian forces deployed anywhere." One only hopes that Mr Dutt's observations are followed.
As for the aircraft, the IL 76 has served India well. It added a new dimension to air power in the Indian subcontinent and boosted the reach of the IAF. IAF deployed the aircraft within three to six months of their induction, and landed it at a short runway of 5,500 feet in northern airfields while the manufacturers asked for a minimum runway length of 7,500 feet.
During Operation Brasstacks in 1986-87, one IAF pilot conducted a record 28 missions in seven days on IL 76 to land BMPs for the army in tough mountainous terrain.
The first testing ground for India's new strategic reach due to the transport aircraft was evident in Sri Lanka and Maldives operations. AN 32s provided unhindered support for the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), and later, on November 3, 1988, the IL 76 and AN 32 aircraft were pressed into service to ferry troops to Maldives within hours of a request from President Moumoon Abdul Gayoom to tackle a coup attempt.
India had consulted world powers, and there was support from Washington, Moscow, London and even Bahrain in the Gulf for the Indian mission. Five IL 76 and 30 AN 32 transporters were used in the Malidives operation.
It is time to get these aircraft replaced. If we make the choice now, the induction of the new machines could begin by 2015, by which time the security scenario would predictably be more complicated. In a realistic sense, we are already behind schedule in this regard.
Going by the Chief of Air Staff, India could be inducting bigger and better aircraft than the IL 76, in the 70+ tonne category. On offer in this regard is the US-built C 17 Globemaster, which, according to its manufacturer Boeing, is being brought to the Aero India 2009 in February for display and flight demonstrations. The aircraft has a record of landing on a small 3,000-foot runway, although it generally needs more than 7,500 feet to take off with full load. It has, however, demonstrated that it can take off with a 40-tonne load in just around 1,500 feet. The IL 76 has a load factor of less than 50 tonnes, or just about the capacity of ferrying one tank.
The IAF has already signed with the US Lockheed Martin to buy six Hercules C 130J special operations aircraft, which can land and take off fully loaded from grassy football ground size patches. There is an option for six more, and IAF is also coordinating acquisition of one additional C 130J, albeit with less capable avionics, for the Border Security Force (BSF).
The BSF is also looking for two smaller C 27J Spartan aircraft from Italy's Finmeccanica. Similar aircraft are also needed by the Aviation Research Centre (ARC), the aviation wing of India's external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing. Notably, it were the ARC aircraft which were used to ferry NSG commandos from New Delhi to Mumbai when the terrorists attacked there on November 26, 2008.
While aircraft could be acquired with funds from different organisations like the BSF, their operations should be concentrated with the IAF or the ARC. Experience shows that it is difficult for the BSF, which comes under the Union Home Ministry, to employ pilots at commercial rates in accordance with the civil aviation rules from the civil market. IAF trains its pilots and it is mandatory for them to serve in accordance with rules.
Also, IAF needs transport aircraft in numbers. For a country of India's size, a dozen aircraft like the C 130J are not enough. And transfer of technology is worth under offsets rules if the orders are sizeable. Maintenance is easier then.
IAF is also buying 45 Indo-Russian Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA) through HAL, but the plans for the development of this medium-capacity aircraft are yet to be finalised. However, IAF has signed an agreement with Russia to buy 80 more Mi 17 helicopters in a follow-on order. These are time-tested machines. But again, its plans to buy lighter helicopters to replace the old Chetak and Cheetahs are delayed along with those of the Indian Army. The acquisition is now time-critical.
India cannot afford another surprise like Kargil or Mumbai. If the government can order the armed forces to fight, the leadership must also ensure that our officers and men have the cutting-edge capability. Transporters, carrying men, fuel or electronic warfare systems, are the backbone of the combat pilot. n
The writers are defence analysts. This article is in continuation of their article, "IAF: A peep into the future" (Perspective, December 14, 2008)
Pakistan's Overbearing Army
Civilian Institutions are in Danger--Are There Solutions?
From Global Education, Vol. 30 (3) - Fall 2008
Fifty years ago this October 24, Pakistan's first Army Commander in Chief overthrew the prime minister, imposed martial law, and abrogated the constitution. That jarring rotation from civilian rule to martial law spawned five decades of overhauled constitutions, three protracted periods of martial law, and the overthrow of four civilian governments. In Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within, renowned Pakistan expert and former New York Times journalist Shuja Nawaz examines the tumultuous history of Pakistan's overbearing army. Nawaz gives an insider's analysis of Pakistan's civil-military relationship, explaining how the country's most powerful and well-organized institution shapes, reflects, and suffocates this nuclear-armed, Muslim-majority nation.
Crossed Swords begins with a detailed narration of the subcontinent's pre-modern history, proceeding to its modern history, where the military has ruled Pakistan for 38 of its 61 years. Historically, most Pakistani army officers believed that coups were needed to rescue Pakistan from its incompetent civilian political class. Nawaz notes that prior to the 1958 coup, its leader, "'[General Ayub Khan] stated that the Pakistan Army will not allow the politicians to get out of hand, and the same is true regarding the people of Pakistan.' Ayub's view was that it was 'the army's duty to protect the country."
Over time, Nawaz argues, the army "has penetrated the civilian sector and now controls large segments of civil administration," exhibiting the ability to act autonomously in foreign affairs, control domestic political activity, and operate independently of elected civilian leaders.
Nawaz writes that the military's unfettered access to state resources has let it overpower private sector industries. The military's intrusion into the government has allowed it to allocate more government revenue for its own institutional expansion, including the purchase of sophisticated military equipment, facilities, and training schools. The author argues that over the decades, this bloated bureaucracy diminished government spending on health, education, and basic infrastructure—sectors of civil society essential for internal development.
Crossed Swords candidly appraises the failures of the army leadership. According to Nawaz, despite the professionalism of its lower ranks, the army's upper echelons are prone to blunder. He cites the genesis of the military's ineptitude as Ayub Khan's coup half a century ago and his "role in institutionalizing the appointment of sycophantic and sometimes incompetent officers to the highest ranks who would not buck the trend or question any of his actions." Nawaz adds that the army's emphasis on careerism, centralization, and lack of proper delegation of authority has bled into the daily operations of civilian and political institutions.
He shows that during the 1947 First Kashmir War with India, Pakistan's aim was to internationalize the Kashmir dispute. Pakistani leaders thought that invading Kashmir would precipitate a UN-mandated ceasefire and bring about a plebiscite in Pakistan's favor. But as Nawaz notes, "In retrospect, Pakistan's higher planning and leadership failed to clearly see the advantage of intervening in Kashmir and to gauge the Indian reactions in a manner that they could counter effectively. A guerilla operation was launched without trained manpower to direct and control the tribals, and certainly without laying the ground for local support in the valley of Kashmir."
Army leadership again proved unprepared during Pakistan's 1965 war with India. Following the clashes and a formal ceasefire, Ayub Khan proceeded to implement Operation Gibraltar, another gamble to seize Kashmir. Like the 1947-48 war, Gibraltar was based on the idea of infiltrating trained guerrillas into Indian-held Kashmir to foment local unrest. But once again, the reaction of the local people was not adequately considered. Though the operation was supposed to be executed in coordination with the army high command, Nawaz argues, "Even senior officers at the army headquarters were kept in the dark, as were the formation commanders. No prior ground work had been done with Kashmiri leaders in Indian-held Kashmir."
Although Pakistan killed a great number of Indian troops and displayed a valiant defense of Punjab, military planners left their country's entire frontier of East Pakistan exposed and "yet again, there appeared to be no attempt to draw their air force or the navy into the strategic planning for the impending war."
Nawaz also offers a variety of insights about contemporary Pakistani politics. For instance, while policymakers in Washington have recently been accusing the largest Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of acting independently of Islamabad, Nawaz argues that this is a result of misdirection. Pakistan's leadership blames its illegal or unpopular policies on "independent" agents of the ISI, he says.
He also notes that beginning this autumn, a conservative element within the army, known as "Zia Bharti," or "Zia's Recruits," is due to take over many senior leadership positions as promotions occur. Encouraged by jihadist General Mohammad Zia ul Haq during the 1980s, many young Islamists are today reaching the pinnacle of their careers. This group may be disinclined to aid Americans: its members were deprived of advanced overseas military training at elite US institutions after Washington instituted sanctions following the discovery of Pakistan's covert nuclear program.
Crossed Swords also offers recommendations on ways to scale-back the army's creeping "Bonapartism." One way presented is forcing military and ISI officials to testify before parliament. Nawaz also recommends that Pakistan's regional commanders all be four-star generals and appointed by the same authority that currently appoints the Chief of Army Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This would distribute power among regional commanders and reduce the power of Chief of Army Staff. In addition, Nawaz insists that the army reexamine its expansive benefits such as its lifelong system of healthcare, especially in a country that "does not reward its civil servants well nor its educationists." He also recommends that ISI personnel begin respecting legal norms and begin reprimanding cases of misconduct, such as random cases of vigilantism and incidents of autonomous handling of foreign relations.
While his recommendations are unique and tightly-focused, it remains to be seen why the military—taken strictly as a bureaucratic entity—would forfeit its institutional power to civilian leaders for which they have "an underlying disdain." For instance, Pakistan scholar Ahmed Rashid accounts that ISI's investigative arm, the National Accountability Bureau, allegedly compiled dossiers on the finances of the country's politicians to pressure them into supporting technocrats sponsored by military-backed parties. Given the military and ISI's pervasive grip, it remains unclear why they would willfully diminish their institutional power or whether Pakistan's civilian rulers could force them to do so.
Nawaz sees the army's next challenge in dealing with the low-intensity guerilla insurgency in its western tribal region, which the army is presently ill-equipped and untrained to fight. The author insists that in order to combat internal insurgencies and to deter conventional threats from India, Afghanistan, and Iran, the army must re-orient its force structure. "[T]o be truly effective, the army needs to be radically transformed into a leaner and highly mobile force, not the lumbering giant that it is today."
His concern is well-placed. As often happens with conventional militaries, Pakistan's army has suffered severe losses at the hands of elusive and adaptive militants. Since joining the so-called "war on terror," their army has lost nearly 1,400 soldiers in clashes with insurgents. One soldier told the BBC, "This is a country where soldiers are slaughtered…Their bodies may be found, but not their heads." In August 2007, Baitullah Mehsud, commander of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and the alleged mastermind behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, captured over 200 Pakistani troops who offered little to no resistance. Some officers admit morale has not been this low since the army failed to stop East Pakistan's secession in 1971.
Reshaping the Pakistani army's cumbersome conventional force structure for more adaptive military campaigns may be a step in the right direction. But there exists concern that nimbler forces might be inadequate for conventional warfighting. A similar a debate is brewing over the US Army's organizing principle: whether to focus future operations toward Iraq-style counterinsurgencies or on force-on-force conventional warfare maneuver. Military analysts caution that the US Army's present infatuation with stability operations and nation building will erode its capacity for conventional warfighting. For Pakistan, a greater emphasis on a lighter force could leave it vulnerable to invasions by India, large-scale internal subversions, or political destabilization caused by economic problems.
In the end, Nawaz argues that Pakistan's best defense against political and military implosion "lies in creating a powerful, pluralistic polity residing in a strong economy, built on a society that values education and the welfare of its population." According to Nawaz, that requires a restoration of the balance between the army and civilians.
Defence meet keeps option of Pak strike open
21 Dec 2008, 0222 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Keeping the military option alive and kicking in face of Pakistan doublespeak on the crackdown on terror, a top-level meeting was held on Saturday evening to review the security situation in the region and the state of defence preparedness of the armed forces.
It was a clear signal to Pakistan that it could not look away from its commitment to take concrete action against terror emanating from its soil soon after India, under persuasion from the West, indicated it would not prefer to use force. Interestingly, the meeting also came a day after foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee declared that India was keeping all its options open since Pakistan has not kept the assurances it has given.
Though there was no official word on Saturday's meeting, attended by Mukherjee, defence minister A K Antony, the three Service chiefs - General Deepak Kapoor, Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Air Chief Marshal F H Major -, among others, sources confirmed that all options were discussed, with an audit of pros and cons of each possible scenario.
"The option of cross-border surgical strikes has not been abandoned. The armed forces, on their part, are maintaining a high level of alertness to meet any eventuality, as they have been directed,'' said a source.
Saturday's meeting came in the backdrop of Pakistan trying to deflect the focus from terrorism, with its frequent flip-flops on action against Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, or even the lone surviving terrorist behind the 26/11 strikes, Ajmal Ameer Kasab.
Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari, for instance, told journalists on Thursday there was no "real evidence'' that the Mumbai attackers came from his country. Apart from other evidence, this claim has now even been contested by former Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif, who held that he had personally checked that Kasab belonged to Faridkot village in Pakistan's Punjab.
Interestingly, global intelligence service provider Stratfor also declared in its latest report that "Indian military operations against targets in Pakistan have, in fact, been prepared and await the signal to go forward''. As reported earlier by TOI, the armed forces are keeping their powder dry "to carry out strikes'' if the political leadership "so desires at any point in time''. "The deep sense of anger in India has even been conveyed to US, Russia and other countries,'' said a source.
IAF sources reiterated to TOI that it would not take more than three to four hours for IAF fighter jets to carry out strikes against terror camps and other targets in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir with laser-guided 'smart' bombs. The Army also does not have to mobilise on a large, visible manner as was done during Operation Parakram after the December 2001 terror attack on Parliament, practicing as it has its "cold start'' strategy for rapid and multiple thrusts into enemy territory at short notice.
With the growing feeling in the Indian security establishment that Pakistan is reverting to its old ways, after initial signs of addressing some of Indian concerns, the military option for India has come right back to the table.
Chief of the Defence Staff a felt-need
The neta-babu combine straddling the ministry of Defence with no knowledge of matters military is now again faced with a recalcitrant Pakistan thumbing its nose against us. It is time we also become professional in our higher defence management..
CJ: Brigadier Arun.. , 15 hours ago Views:443 Comments:1
ON MAY 8, 1999, realising for the first time the extent of Pakistani intrusion on Kargil heights and understanding the seriousness of the situation, a surprised Indian Army when asked the help of Indian Air Force (IAF), the IAF told Army to get the sanction of the government first. By the time the said sanction was obtained and the air force did arrive on the scene, fifteen days had gone by with that many additional lives of the Indian soldiers on the ground lost and Pakistanis having fully consolidated their ground defences.This one incident alone illustrates the type of cooperation and joint planning or the lack of it, that exists between the three services, in India, even 60 yeas after independence.
In the modern day warfare with devastating fire power available to both sides, the key mantra for success in operations is joint thinking, planning and execution by the three services. This principle has been adopted by most of the major and minor powers in the world. Each of these countries has restructured its higher defense management organisation by adopting the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) system in one form or the other. Not so in India that boasts of second largest army, fourth largest air force and fifth largest navy in the world and has ambition of becoming a global power.
What goes for ad hoc CDS in India is the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, where each service chief becomes the chairman in rotation but without any powers over others. The functioning of this committee has come under severe criticism by the GOM constituted by the previous NDA Government to restructure the higher defense organisation in India, post Kargil. This GOM had recommended introducing CDS system in India that was accepted by then government in power. It still stands accepted however is not being implemented because the politicians have chickened out under the misguided bureaucratic fears that CDS will become all powerful.
So in the present era of combined warfare, in India each service still thinks individually and feels that only that service can win the war for the country. This feeling and individuality is nurtured by all powerful bureaucrats staffing ministry of defense who de facto play the role of CDS themselves without any knowledge of matters military. Crafty that these babus are, lack of military knowledge gets made up by getting the relevant advice from the respective service headquarter only and then passing it on as their own. What damage this system can cause to the country is highlighted by the incident which took place at the height of 1962 Indo-China war.
At the time, when Indian Army was getting battered on the Himalayan heights some bureaucrats masquerading as pseudo generals advised then prime minister Nehru not to use air force lest the conflict gets enlarged. Nobody gave a thought that in absence of a suitable airbase in Tibet, China could not have used its air force against us. Indian Air Force, with top of line Vampire and Toofani fighters in its inventory then would have beaten Chinese Army black and blue on those heights. The course of the history would have changed.
Unlike the American, French, and British or for that matter Pakistan, the Indian model of CDS, as approved for implementation, does not place him above the three services chiefs. Thus when implemented he will be one among the equals. The CDS will head the strategic Nuclear forces and will command joint Andaman-Nicobar Command. He will be single point military adviser to the government.
The CDS will also be responsible for the reconciliation of budgetary and equipment demands of the three services before sending them to cabinet or Finance ministry for clearance. Most important he will resolve the inter service doctrinal, planning, policy and operational issues.
All these issues are of extreme importance. No longer can they be allowed to be dealt with in the current ad hoc manner. Whether it is China or Pakistan, lack of timely single window military advice is the main reason why most of the time Indian government is always caught in a reactive mode.
Similarly, the current Indian Air Force strength would not have plummeted to 32 squadrons from a sanctioned strength of 39 and ½ squadrons for the lack of aircrafts or for that matter of navy below the sanctioned strength of 142 war ships, if proper perspective planning was done. This is making a mockery of national security.
It is true that our desi model of CDS is not without inherent flaws.
By keeping him one among equals what happens if one of the service chief does not agree to the advice rendered by him to the government? Or for that matter the equipment, resources and manpower of the strategic nuclear forces that the CDS will command will still be coming under the control of respective services chiefs, so who will be accountable if things go wrong? Chip chopping of various services budgetary and equipment demands by the CDS will definitely cause heart burn among the services and bureaucrats will again play favorites.
Nevertheless, all said and done, the proposed CDS system, despite its flaws is the best thing that has happened to the higher defense management set up in India and its implementation brooks no delay specially so when Pakistan after masterminding the recent Mumbai terror attack again appears to be getting out of it without paying the cost. The government must implement it irrespective of what any service feels about it. The teething troubles can always be sorted out as the system matures.
Indian Army to buy new artillery gun
12/20/2008 7:15:52 AM
Twenty years after Bofors scandal, the Indian Army is looking to buy a new artillery gun. This was amongst the decisions taken at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council attended by Defence Minister AK Antony and the three service chiefs on Friday (December 19).
To fill the gaps in India's defences, the government has decided to develop a short range surface to air missile and this will give protection to airfields and warships. This is being developed with French collaboration.
The Army will also get a light howitzer, one that can be transported by helicopter to mountainous terrain like in Kashmir, and this will be bought from the United States of America (USA). The development of a tactical communication system has been sanctioned. This will allow the Army to be in touch with forward units during battle. Private players are being roped in for this project.
The name Bofors is strongly associated with a 40 mm anti-aircraft gun based on a Bofors design which was produced and used by both sides during World War II, and often called simply the Bofors gun. The gun saw service on land and sea, and became so widely known that anti-aircraft guns in general were often referred to as Bofors guns.