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Wednesday, 3 February 2010

From Today's Papers - 03 Feb 10






Will thwart attack on Arunachal: Antony
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 2
Defence Minister AK Antony today said the armed forces were ready to repulse any attack on Arunachal Pradesh from across the border.

The northeastern state, which saw a full-blown war between India and China in 1962, continues to remain at the centre of border dispute between the two nuclear-powered neighbours. Beijing has time and again not hesitated to stake a claim over the territory despite an overwhelming majority of Arunachalis strongly supporting its union with India.

Addressing a press conference at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) airfield here, the Defence Minister said the military preparedness was being strengthened across the country, including Arunachal Pradesh. “We want friendly relations with our neighbours. But in case of any eventuality, the armed forces were ready to act as an effective deterrent,” Antony said.

The minister was there to witness a flying display by Tejas — an indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment. Two aircraft — one a single-seater and the other a training variant with tandem seating arrangement — took to the skies, showcasing their prowess. While the trainer (prototype vehicle 5 or PV-5) confined itself to routine flying, the single-seater (limited series production 2 or LSP-2) performed some breathtaking aerobatics, including reverse flying. Antony said he was expecting the LCA to get initial operational clearance by the end of the year and final operational clearance by 2012.

The IAF had already placed orders for 20 Tejas LCAs, he said, adding that the Defence Acquisition Council had cleared a proposal for acquiring of 20 more LCAs.






Akash boost for IAF

The IAF will get an additional 750 medium range surface-to-air missiles, Akash, from the state-run defence behemoth Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) for its six squadrons. “A decision to place this fresh order with BEL was taken after the air force expressed satisfaction with the performance of the Akash missiles that are deployed in two squadrons,” Defence Minister A K Antony said on Tuesday. “Each squadron will get 125 missiles after BEL delivers the order,” said Antony after inaugurating the Digital Flight Control (DFC) computer facility at BEL in Bangalore.





Top US military general backs lifting of ban on open gays

Press Trust of India, Tuesday February 2, 2010, Washington

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates will take the first real steps toward lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the military, announcing a yearlong review aimed at answering practical and emotional questions about the effect of lifting the ban, and imposing looser standards for enforcing the ban in the meantime.


According to US officials, the senior-level study will be co-chaired by a top-ranked civilian and a senior uniformed officer.


It would recommend the best way to go about lifting the ban, starting from the premise that it will take time to accomplish that goal but that it can be done without harming the capabilities or cohesion of the military force, officials said.


The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the emerging Pentagon plan ahead of Gates' announcement.


While the review is likely to take a year to complete, and even more time to implement, its initiation will advance President Barack Obama's goal of repealing the ban and bring a divisive issue for the military and Congress back to the fore.






IAF to display firepower in dark
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
The Indian Air Force will conduct one of the biggest firepower displays in the deserts of Rajasthan at the end of this month. It will not be a “routine” exercise, sources said, while adding it was aimed at showcasing the attack power of the IAF in hitting specified targets on the ground during night time.

To have a global impact of India’s prowess, the Ministry of Defence is arranging to provide for a feed for a TV audience. Using high-end cameras that can capture elements in the dead of the night, the visual feed will be made available to TV Channels. The exercise “Vayu Shakti” will be conducted in the night for the first time.

More than 90 aircraft will participate, including all variants of fighters in the IAF and the armed choppers. The latest arsenal that fighters carry in their under belly will be used in the exercise that is being conducted after six years. President Pratibha Patil will be one of those who will witness the display. Defence minister AK Antony, a few diplomats of countries, among other invitees will form audience.

The fighters will include the Sukhoi-30, the MiG 29, the Mirage and the Jaguar. These will fly in from their home bases across the country. The Mi 35 choppers will be used for strafing a target. Since the pilots will have no visibility, the use of onboard computers on the fighters will come in play. The bombs and arsenal will hit the target as they would be guided by computer -fed coordinates of the location, explained an official.

A senior official said: “The display would be comparable to what is done by any global power or an aspiring power”. It would be more like a real life “Hollywood war movie” played out in Rajasthan’s firing range located some 150 km from the Indo-Pak border, said another official. Only in this the bombs, the missiles and the firing would be for real.







LCA to get initial operational clearance by year-end: Antony

Press Trust of India / Bangalore February 02, 2010, 15:05 IST


Strongly backing the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) programme, Defence Minister A K Antony today said the LCA would obtain Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) by this year-end.


Antony said that when he took over as Defence Minister, there was "all round scepticism" about the project, with critics — apparently referring to "inordinate delay" and technological challenges — questioning its continuation and dubbing it a "total failure".


"All the doubting Thomases have proved to be wrong", he said after witnessing the flight display of the twin-seater trainer version prototype (PV5) and another belonging to the limited series production-2 of the LCA programme.


"Today I can assure you with confidence....I can declare at last LCA is going to be a reality", Antony said, adding the IOC of Tejas would take place by December this year and final clearance by the end of 2012.


He said the LCA has completed all its trials as well as at the sea-level. IAF has already placed orders for delivery of 20 LCAs. Orders for another 20 has been cleared (by the ministry), for which the Cabinet nod would be sought.


Antony said the Cabinet Committee on Security had sanctioned nearly Rs 8,000 crore for further development of the LCA programme in terms of air and naval versions and new engine.






Navy to formally induct MiG-29K naval fighter jets

Press Trust of India / New Delhi February 02, 2010, 11:00 IST


The Navy will formally induct the Russian-made MiG-29K naval fighter jets for deployment on Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier on February 19 in Goa.


The first four of the 16 MiG-29Ks that India had bought from Russia in 2004 along with Gorshkov were delivered at the INS Hansa naval base in Goa on December 4 last.


"The formal induction ceremony has been fixed for February 19 at INS Hansa. The squadron has been named Black Panthers," a Navy spokesperson said here today.


The fighter jets that arrived in Goa in a knocked-down condition in a transport plane were re-assembled at INS Hansa, which also has a maintenance and training facility for the aircraft and its pilots.


"At present the Russian technicians and pilots are based in Goa to do the reassembling and training our technicians and pilots to take over maintenance and operations soon," he said.


After induction, the fighter jets would be operated temporarily from the shore-based facility at INS Hansa till the actual delivery of Gorshkov, rechristened as INS Vikramaditya, slated for 2012.


Under the $1.5 billion deal signed in March 2004 for the 45,000-tonne Kiev class Gorshkov and the MiG-29Ks, $974 million went towards the warship and $526 million for the fighter jets.


Of the 16 jets, 12 are MiG-29K single-seater fighters and the rest four are MiG-29KUB twin-seater trainers.


India is all set to ink another deal with Russia for 29 more MiG-29Ks for $1.2 billion in a bid to strengthen its naval aviation wing.


The MiG-29Ks flight operations on Gorshkov will be in the Short Take Off But Arrested Landing (STOBAR) configuration for which the ship is being re-modified at Sevmash yard in Russia.


To train Indian pilots for STOBAR operations, India has already set up the world's third shore-based training facility at INS Hansa.


The pilots were also sent to the US for deck landing training and on board a French aircraft carrier for operations training, apart from Russia for Qualified Flying Instructors' conversion training.


The aircraft has arrester gear on its tail to help hooking onto the arrestor wires on board the landing deck of the carrier.It also has stronger landing gear to withstand the arrested landing on board the carriers, folding wings and rust-proofing to prevent corrosion.


Fitted with a fully digitised glass cockpit, improved engine protection against ingestion of foreign particles like birds, a multi-mode radar and increased range, the MiG-29Ks will also provide aerial cover to the carrier's battle group, acquire air superiority and destroy sea-borne and ground-based targets with guided high-precision weapons in all weather, day-and-night conditions.


India currently operates the Sea Harrier jump jets on board its solitary Centaur Class aircraft carrier, which celebrated its 50 years of naval service both in the Royal Navy as HMS Hermes and in the Indian Navy as INS Viraat.


Of the 30-odd Sea Harriers the Navy bought from Britain along with Viraat in late 1980s, only a dozen of them are left in service.






Improving India-US ties
Defence cooperation can be the next big thing
by Rajendra Abhyankar

A year after Defence Minister Anthony noted that “the security scenario is undergoing unprecedented change, and the defence industry has come to occupy the centre-stage like never before - not only in our country, but the world over”, US Defence Secretary Gates’ three-day visit to New Delhi bolstered Indian role in promoting security in Afghanistan and stability in the entire region. It also gave a boost to bilateral defence cooperation and trade. According to knowledgeable sources, his visit will prepare the way for a potential visit by President Barack Obama to India this summer. Following on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Washington visit last November it tries to set at rest a major conundrum on the future of US-India relations: do we take a “strategic pause” to get over the slow negative creep in the relationship and consolidate the gains, or do we look for the “next big idea” which will keep up the momentum much as the civil nuclear agreement did?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit established that both sides were still looking at strengthening their strategic partnership although its nature is still to be spelt out. The range of discussions during Mr Gates’ visit could be seen as evidence that the US regards India as its “global” strategic partner: protection of global common interests, maritime security and counter-terrorism. Mr Gates’ statement that another 26/11 type incident would fray New Delhi’s patience, exhorting Pakistan to deliver on the perpetrators of that attack was a welcome US intervention on the issue even though he received a customarily self-serving response from Prime Minister Gilani in Islamabad.

More importantly, in a clear push for closer bilateral military cooperation in the face of the “greatest common challenge of terrorism”, the visiting US Defence Secretary during talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought increased defence cooperation and trade. The visit exuded optimism on both sides. It highlighted the potential of this sector to be the likely driver of the relationship during the next few years. There has indeed been considerable progress in the defence relationship since the bilateral cooperation agreement of 2005. India is a unique case where, contrary to generally accepted norms, defence cooperation has preceded defence trade largely because of ingrained blocs against acquisitions of the US equipment that both sides need to work through: lagging concerns about the US as a reliable supplier, US posture on the release of technology and guarantee against the transferability of specifications to third end-users. Yet the signature on the End-User Monitoring Agreement was a landmark.

Mr Anthony conveyed to Dr Gates Indian concerns regarding denial of export licences for various defence-related requirements of the armed forces and the continuing inclusion of some Indian defence PSUs and DRDO labs in the “Entity List” of the US government expressing the view that such restrictions were anomalous in the context of the steady improvement of the bilateral defence relations. It would appear that President Obama has initiated a comprehensive reform of US export control regulations and Secretary Gates assured that this would involve facilitation in the supply of defence technology and equipment to India.

It makes eminent sense for India to consider defence cooperation and trade with the US as the next major building bloc of the relationship. While defence acquisition remains a complex matter and India will choose to keep its options open, increasing requirements for India’s power projection would tend to suggest the US as a major partner for the future, given greater reliance on the Air Force and the Navy. It can be expected that future weaponry will increasingly rely on unmanned vehicles and use more of laser technology. In both areas the US is the world leader even though there is a high degree of innovative capacity with China. As things stand, a recent CII report states that 50 per cent of the Indian military equipment is ‘obsolete’, corroborating the Indian Army’s recent statement in Parliament that it had just over fifty per cent of the required capability. Only 15 per cent equipment is “state-of-the-art”, 35 per cent “mature” and 50 per cent “obsolete”.

A scenario of having to contend with two adversaries at the same time has already been painted by the Army Chief. A significant increase in the four-fold difference between the Chinese and Indian military prowess can be expected in the next few years coupled with an intensification of its nuclear and missile nexus with Pakistan. Chinese base facilities at Sittwe, Hambantota and Gwadar will be completed soon enough and the resulting expansion of the Chinese military capability will affect the military balance on the seas and in space. India will have to cope with this dangerously evolving scenario. The case for increased US-India defence cooperation and trade becomes self-evident.

However, as minister Anthony reiterated, the bilateral defence trade relations have to move from a purely buyer-seller relationship to a more comprehensive relationship covering the transfer of technology and co-production. It is in this context that he emphasised the need to convince India of the benefits from entering into the agreements which could not be done during the Gates’ visit: the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) which will enable cashless supplies to each others’ armed forces, the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) which will enhance the “interoperability” of the Indian and American forces, as also ensure secrecy of the US’s C4ISR (command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems and the Geo-Spatial Agreement which will facilitate aircraft navigation.

The fact that Secretary Gates agreed to provide India the necessary information speaks volumes for the steadily maturing relationship. While the finalisation of the CISMOA will eventually take place, the LSA still remains a politically contentious pact, harking back to the controversial refuelling facility to US aircraft provided by India during Gulf War I.

India currently procures approximately 70 per cent of its equipment needs from abroad, but aims to reverse this balance and manufacture 70 per cent or more of its defence equipment in India. India is poised to spend well over $30 billion over the next four-five years to import military hardware and software, which will only serve to reinforce its position as the developing world’s 10th biggest arms buyer. This provides us a significant opportunity to leap-frog technology inflow in the defence industry and change the direction and technology content of our armed forces. Russia still provides 80 per cent of India’s military hardware, but the US is beginning to make its presence felt. Over the last two years, India has purchased over $3 billion in military equipment from the US, including eight maritime reconnaissance aircraft and six C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft.

There is a major opportunity to build an industrial infrastructure which, in keeping with our status as a global economic power, will be able to quantitatively, technologically and qualitatively support the requirements of our armed forces in terms of weapons, systems, platforms, upgradation and overhaul. For this the share of our private sector has to go up from its present level of 14 per cent ( with foreign sources taking 70 per cent and the rest going to DPSU’s and the ordnance factories) which in 2001 was permitted 100 per cent entry in the sector subject to an FDI cap of 26 per cent.

While ensuring the security of over one billion Indians remains the government’s supreme national responsibility, would the procurement of US weapons and equipment necessarily mean a move to strategic alliance? There is a gap in knowledge between what India and the US respectively understand by strategic partnership. There are many ways to cut the “strategic cake”: by time, by space, by criteria and by issues. There is, therefore, need for both sides to define the content and parameters of their strategic partnership.

Meanwhile, our experience with Israel gives a pointer: even though it is the second largest supplier of defence equipment, it has not meant a change in India’s traditional position on the Arab-Israeli issue.

The writer, a former diplomat, is Chairman, Kunzru Centre for Defence Studies and Research, Pune.







Sukhna land scam: Gen to fight court martial proceedings

Anubha Bhonsle


COUR MARTIALED: Army General A Prakash and P K Rath are facing court martial proceedings in the Sukhna land scam.


New Delhi: The two army generals facing court martial proceedings in the Sukhna land deal aren’t going without a fight.


A document available with CNN-IBN is Lt Gen PK Rath’s, one of the accused in the land scam, statement before the court of Inquiry that recommended his dismissal which is also the basis for his future defence.


The General also stresses that the MoU was cancelled the moment his superior objected.


General Rath has blown the argument of a Sukhna school being a security threat.


Rath said, ”While proximity to military installation has been shown as a security threat...a state highway passes right through the cantonment which is a public thoroughfare. There is a tea garden inside the military station and encroachments with small habitations within the cantonment.”


At the centre of this controversy is the 71 acres of land that doesn’t belong to the Army and is on lease to a private party. Since the Generals actions overturned an earlier order, which prohibited the development of a tea estate, why not keep his higher command informed?


Gen Rath took on that criticism when he said: ”I am competent enough to take appropriate decision on a local issue that falls entirely within my Corps Zone. It’s not befitting the status of a GoC to keep looking for instructions from his superiors even on a local issue of a minor nature. As the final authority at the 33 corps level without any specific instruction existing to the contrary, I have taken the decision which I clearly felt to be in best interest of the formation I lead...But as soon as it was turned down by my higher authority I took all steps without delay to communicate it.”


General Rath and General Prakash now face court martial proceedings with these arguments.


Allegations of turf battles and favouritism have surrounded this case and the Army would well do itself great service if justice was swift and fair.






Akash, LCA get fresh lease of life

Johnson TA Posted online: Wednesday, Feb 03, 2010 at 0050 hrs

Bangalore : In a boost to indigenous projects, Defence Minister A K Antony on Tuesday announced a Rs 4,000-crore push for Akash missiles for the Army and a Rs 8,000-crore push for the Light Combat Aircraft programme’s naval and air versions. The weapons at trial stages have not satisfied user agencies in recent days. The minister was on a tour of defence facilities here.


Antony said the Defence Acquisition Council had on Monday cleared the path for the procurement of six more squadrons of Akash missiles to add to existing two. Each squadron comprises 125 missiles and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) had been chosen to build systems for them, Antony said during the unveiling of a digital flight control computer manufacturing facility for the LCA at BEL. “Initially, the Army wanted to exit the Akash missiles programme. What were doubts are now becoming reality. Now they are very happy with the system,” Antony said.


According to the minister, similar doubts over the LCA and MBT battle tank were also disappearing. “The Cabinet Committee on Security has cleared a Rs 8,000-crore investment in the LCA development programme for further development of the naval and air versions, also for the development of new engines for naval model,” Antony said.


The LCA project recently ran into rough weather with the Navy expressing doubts over the development of a naval version of the indigenous aircraft.


Antony said the LCA would be ready for use by the Indian Air Force by the end of 2012. The IAF has ordered for 20 LCAs or Tejas as they are known. The purchase of another 20 had been cleared and was awaiting Cabinet clearance, he said.






Army to spend billions on outdated T-72 tanks

Ajai Shukla / New Delhi February 3, 2010, 2:48 IST


Foreign upgrade for T-72 chosen over indigenous Arjun tank.


The Indian Army chief’s concern that India’s tank fleet was largely incapable of fighting at night highlighted only a part of the problem with the Russian T-72, the army’s main tank. In fact, the T-72 is in far worse shape than General Deepak Kapoor let on last month.


Another signal of the T-72’s obsolescence was its recent withdrawal, by the army’s Directorate General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF), from next month’s comparative trials with the indigenous Arjun tank. An embarrassed DGMF has realised that, without major refurbishing, the T-72 was not in the Arjun’s class.


But in the army’s long-term planning, the T-72 — which the more advanced T-90 will replace only gradually — will continue to equip almost half of the army’s 59 tank regiments as far in the future as 2022.


Business Standard has accessed a sheaf of technical reports and funding requests that actually quantify the state of the T-72. Exactly 32 years have passed since the first T-72s arrived in India; army guidelines stipulate 32 years as the service life of a tank. The earliest tanks from the army’s 2,418-strong T-72 inventory should have already been retired, making way for a more modern tank, such as the T-90 or the Arjun.


Instead, the DGMF — longstanding advocates of Russian equipment — plans to spend Rs 5 crore per T-72, hoping to add another 15-20 years to that tank’s service life by replacing crucial systems, such as its fire control system, main engine and night vision devices.


The military’s Annual Acquisition Plan for 2008-2010 (AAP 2008-10) lists out the cost of modernising the T-72 fleet as follows: 




# New 1000-horsepower engines (identical to the T-90 tank) to replace the T-72’s old 780-horsepower engines. The cost of each engine: Rs 3 crore.


# Thermal Imaging Fire Control Systems (TIFCS) that will allow the T-72 gunners to observe and fight at night. Each TIFCS will cost Rs 1.4 crore.


# Thermal Imaging (TI) sights to provide T-72 tank commanders with night vision. Each TI sight costs Rs 0.4 crore.


# An auxillary power unit (APU) to generate power for the tank’s electrical systems. Each APU will cost Rs 0.16 crore. 


The Rs 5-crore cost of upgrading each T-72 knocks out the argument that the T-72 — at Rs 9 crore apiece — is value-for-money. Retrofitting upgraded systems will escalate the cost of the T-72 to Rs 14 crore. In contrast, a new Arjun, with a 1,500 horsepower engine, state-of-the-art integrated electronics, and the indigenous, widely praised Kanchan armour, can be had for a marginally more expensive Rs 16.8 crore.


“It is folly to stick with Russian tanks despite having developed the Arjun, and the design capability to continuously improve it?” says Lt Gen Ajai Singh, who headed the army’s Directorate of Combat Vehicles before becoming Governor of Assam. “India can tailor the Arjun to our specific requirements and continuously upgrade the tank to keep it state-of-the-art. Why upgrade old T-72s? It is time to bring in the Arjun.”


The T-72’s galloping obsolescence is magnified by the MoD’s failure to overhaul tanks on schedule: Some 800 T-72s are years overdue for overhaul. Originally, each T-72 was to be overhauled twice during its service life of 32 years. But as the overhaul agencies — the Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi; and 505 Army Base Workshop, Delhi — failed to meet their overhaul targets of 70 and 50 tanks, respectively, the army decided that one overhaul was good enough. And, with even that schedule not implemented, a desperate MoD has approached Indian industry to play a role in overhauling the T-72 fleet.


The total expenditure on the T-72 tank, budgeted for AAP 2008-10, is over Rs 5000 crore. The cost of overhaul has not been accurately determined.






The Generals and their labyrinth

The image of the Indian Army has been badly dented with a section of its top brass implicated in what has come to be known as the Sukhna land scam. The damage could have been mitigated had there been a clear signal from the Army that it was prepared to deal seriously with the alleged misconduct. Regrettably, the controversy was allowed to malinger and was exacerbated by perceptions that the Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, was reluctant to act firmly against his aide and Military Secretary, Lt. General Avadhesh Prakash. Despite an Army Court of Inquiry (CoI) reportedly citing prima facie evidence to the effect that Lt. General Prakash was the key figure in the Sukhna land case, General Kapoor was in favour of milder administrative action rather than a court martial. The change of heart, which came a couple of days before Lt-General Prakash’s retirement on January 31, owes wholly to the very proper intervention of Defence Minister A.K. Antony, a politician respected across the political spectrum for his probity in public life. It was Mr. Antony’s ‘advice’ that the case should be dealt with sternly that persuaded the Army Chief to court martial Lt. General Prakash. Earlier, as recommended by the CoI, General Kapoor approved a court martial for Lt. General P.K. Rath and administrative action against two others; the sticking point was over his aide and Military Secretary.


The four generals are entitled to a fair process, which only a military court can provide under the procedure established by law. But it is important to send a signal that any scent of corruption in the armed forces will be dealt with firmly and without prevarication, even when it involves the top brass. The case itself relates to the issue of a no-objection certificate (NOC) to a realtor, who falsely claimed to be an affiliate of Mayo College, for setting up a school on private land adjacent to the Sukhna military station in Darjeeling district. Among the issues that need to be determined are whether rules and procedures were bent in granting the NOC and if there were security implications in doing so, given the area’s proximity to the border. The Indian Army, which was regarded as an incorruptible institution in the first few decades following Independence, has been affected by a string of corruption scandals in recent times. The only way to check the downslide is to have a policy of zero tolerance of corruption, something that Mr. Antony has stressed more than once. Apart from the moral and economic implications, corruption in the armed forces has a quite obvious bearing on security. It is a risk India can ill afford to take.






Give military autonomy


Ashok K Mehta


Hijacked by the media, considerable high drama has surrounded the Sukna land case involving senior Generals of the Indian Army. The turnaround by Chief of Army Staff Gen Deepak Kapoor in ordering disciplinary proceedings against his Military Secretary, Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash, who had originally been served a show cause notice under the rubric of administrative action, has also attracted some attention. The last minute switch in Gen Kapoor’s decision was prompted by an advisory issued by Defence Minister AK Antony. Both these events reflect strains in civil-military relations and the progressive diminution of the office of the COAS.


Further illustrating the malaise are three recent professional comments by Gen Kapoor on limited war under nuclear overhang; two-front war doctrine; and integration of armies in Nepal. These valid observations were curiously not supported by the Government. Mr Antony should have been more forthright in defending his and the country’s COAS and not let the flak fly at him from abroad. After all, the first two comments relate to accepted Government policy and should have been upheld.


In 2001, after the terrorist attack on Parliament House, at the traditional Army Day Press briefing the then COAS, Gen Padmanabhan, in response to a question about a nuclear first strike by Pakistan, replied that India’s response will be such that Pakistan will cease to exist. The furore created in Pakistan forced National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra to ask Defence Minister George Fernandes to issue a clarification. But before his did so, he had the grace to consult Gen Padmanabhan. Generals will speak like Generals and not diplomats, thank god. And the advisory from some strategic experts that Service Chiefs preface their remarks with ‘these are my personal views’ is simply baloney. Armed Forces Chiefs voice the feelings of their service, the military and Government policy. They do not speak in their personal capacity.


Returning to the widely-trodden Sukna land, Gen Kapoor, guided by his legal department, opted to follow the administrative action route which gives him many options, including termination of services. The Sukna case has raised a media storm for three months now. Gen Kapoor issued a show cause notice to Lt Gen Prakash three weeks ago. So why on earth did Mr Antony — whose Ministry has been shadowing the case — wait till after the show cause had been given and the reply received? To issue an advisory suddenly shows how out of sync he is with what he ought to be doing to protect the image of the Army and the high office of the COAS. Through his unwise interference in the case, he has diminished the COAS.


Now Lt Gen Prakash has been placed under the Army Act’s Section 123 which subjects him to this law for three years even after he retired last Sunday. There will be a hearing of charges followed by a summary of evidence. Depending on the findings and outcome, disciplinary action could follow. Lt Gen Prakash could appeal to the newly-constituted Army Tribunal and so the Sukna saga will now be long, protracted and hopfully leak-proof.


In 2000, the Ministry of Defence ordered the posting of Vice-Admiral Harinder Singh as Vice-Chief of Naval Staff. Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, citing the Naval Act which authorises the Chief of Naval Staff to select his own staff, wrote back to the Ministry stating that the orders given were in contravention of the Navy Act and were, therefore, ‘unimplementable’. He held his ground and became the first Service Chief in the history of the armed forces to be dismissed by the President by invoking the ‘pleasure principle’. With 60 days left for retirement, Gen Kapoor followed the ‘discretion is the better part of valour’ dictum.


There is no instance of legitimate military dissent in India. The fault has to be shared by Government’s failure in exercising political control, including higher political direction, and the military hierarchy for cowing down, even when compliance was out of order. The only COAS to have put in his papers because of political interference by Defence Minister V Krishna Menon in the professional domain was Gen KS Thimayya. Unfortunately, he withdrew his resignation; otherwise, the history of civil -military relations would have been different.


In 1992, COAS Gen SF Rodrigues let down his office by first giving a controversial interview to this newspaper in which he said “governance is very much the business of the Army” and called two foreign countries “bandicoots”. He later accepted a dressing down in Parliament by Defence Minister Sharad Pawar. Instead of resigning, Gen Rodrigues continued as a lame duck Chief and, surprisingly, the Government which had served the admonition, 15 years later appointed him Governor of Punjab.


Lt Gen SK Sinha, who had served in Army Headquarters in every rank, authored the Fourth Pay Commission and knew every bureaucratic trick of the trade, was superseded as COAS as the Government thought he would be a difficult customer. Gen Sinha resigned. The Government notification for part of the Fifth Pay Commission award was signed by Defence Secretary Ajit Kumar even as COAS Gen Ved Malik had put his objections in writing. The same drama was witnessed last year when the three Service Chiefs collectively refused to accept the piecemeal award of the Sixth Pay Commission, insisting the anomalies be addressed first. One newspaper editor called it “unprecedented military dissent” but conveniently omitted the word ‘legitimate’.


Britain's Chief of General Staff, Gen Richard Dannat went public about poor pay and acute shortages of helicopters for his soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, a deficiency endorsed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He was so outspoken that the Government denied him the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff and instead gave the incumbent CDS an unprecedented second term. Service Chiefs must speak out and speak up without hankering for post-retirement jobs such as Governor of Goa or Ambassador to Burkina Faso.


The media revolution, nuclear weaponisation in the sub-continent and think-tank proliferation call for political control that ensures a robust working relationship btween the civil and the military for effective use of military power. The services must regain their professional autonomy and certainly respect by the Government, altering the internal civil-military power balance through genuine integration and without fear that a CDS — when appointed — will spring a coup. Addressing the problem of corruption in the armed forces calls for a ‘trialogue’ between Government, civil society and the military. Aberrations are fraught with the risk of becoming a habit.






On the western front

Ashok Mehta


Chief of army staff, general Deepak Kapoor’s comments some time back —right now he is in the limelight for other reasons — on the possibility of a limited war under a nuclear overhang; and the need for India to be prepared for a two-front war have created a stir in Pakistan and they have raised eyebrows in several quarters in the country.


These routine statements contained twin messages: one for the Indian government that it fast-track modernisation of the Army; and the more obvious, for the adversaries.


The Pakistani media has gone to town saying “Indian General Threatens Pakistan with Nuclear War’. While Pakistan army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani threatened India with nuclear retaliation, Joint chief of staff, general Tariq Majeed, called the concept a ‘strategic mistake’.


Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Quereshi referred to it as an absurd statement from a responsible person and the irrepressible PML-Q Secretary general Mushahid Hussain demanded that the Indian government sack general Kapoor and clarify his ‘irresponsible war-mongering’ was not the official position.


Another Pakistani, senator Shehzad Choudhary compared general Kapoor to a Pakistani general, reasoning that most army chiefs in India are traditionally quiet.


How right. The offensive Defence Doctrine underlining that the next war would be fought on Indian soil was enunciated by former Pakistan army chief, general Aslam Beg in 1990.


Historically, Pakistani politicians and generals have vowed to destroy India, bleeding it through a thousand cuts. Only recently, president Zardari revisited his father in law’s threat of waging a thousand-year war on Kashmir, unaccompanied by the Bhutto boast that one Pakistani equaled a thousand Indians. Pakistani threats are in multiples of one thousand.


The concept of limited war under a nuclear overhang was unveiled soon after generalMusharraf invaded Kargil. The limited in space, time and objectives doctrine was designed towards deterring Cross Border Terrorism (CBT) — preventing Kargil-type salami slicing.


It is another matter the doctrine was bereft of appropriate skills and capabilities, most importantly the political will to call Pakistan’s bluff of lowering the nuclear threshold. It was Pakistan which called India’s bluff through the terrorist attack on Parliament in December 2001 which led to the full-scale deployment of the armed forces in Operation Parakram.


Even a second terrorist strike in May 2002 at Jammu which made a punitive response obligatory was given a go-by. Yet by doing nothing, India extolled the virtue of strategic restraint. This convinced the Pakistan military establishment that India’s tolerance level was exploitable.


Seven years later, the Mumbai carnage with irrefutable evidence of state sponsorship went unchallenged. The Limited War doctrine refined with Cold Start is a non-starter. Instead the Pakistanis have attached impunity to their doctrine of CBT undernuclear overhang.


The two-front doctrine is as old as the history of India-Pakistan wars. In the 1960s, young officers initiated to strategy and doctrine, were informed that while Pakistan was the immediate threat, China was the long term challenge.


That they would collude in the event of war was demonstrated in 1965 and 1971. The aim of Sino-Pakistan nexus is to diminish India. The military assets in the east are called dual-use forces with inherent capability switching from Eastern to Western Front.


Defence minister AK Antony clarified that general Kapoor’s comments were not aimed at antagonising neighbouring countries and that India had no extraterritorial ambitions.


The reason for the supercharged reaction from Pakistan on the two doctrines is to sharpen the focus on the existential Indian threat which gives the Pakistan army the perfect excuse not to expand and intensify the war in the west.


The Americans have been goading them to go for the Taliban, including the Afghan Taliban whom the ISI sees as a valuable asset to gain strategic depth in Afghanistan.


Ironically, it is the Taliban which has secured strategic depth in Pakistan, opening last month a new front of suicide attacks in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. US senator Evan Bayh believes that Pakistan is close to paranoid about India and lacks the willingness to back terror.


General Kapoor is monitoring the march of the Taliban eastwards. It has reached Lahore and Muzaffarbad. There is no question of political or professional impropriety on the part of Kapoor who is merely doing his job.


Otherwise, he would be negligent in updating doctrines for all vulnerable fronts, especially against the Western neighbour which many are calling ‘Paranoidstan’.


The writer, a former major-general, is a commenator onmilitary affairs







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