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Friday, 5 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 05 Mar 2010






Abolish sahayak system: House panel to Army
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 4
A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence today asked the Indian Army to abolish the “colonial” practice of employing jawans as sahayaks of officers. It also expressed "strong displeasure" over the Defence Ministry's procedure to assess the exact level of indigenisation achieved by its production agencies to manufacture equipment.

On sahayaks, the committee asked the Army to abolish the "demeaning and humiliating" system. In an action taken report tabled in both the Houses of the Parliament, the committee said it was unable to comprehend why it was necessary to continue with the sahayak system that "lowers the self-esteem of a jawan" when the Navy and Air force have abandoned it.

Several jawans were engaged at the residence of senior officers for domestic work and to serve the family members of officers. In reply, to the committee's suggestion, the Defence Ministry had said a sahayak was "a comrade-in-arms" to officers.

The Army has issued instructions to its units to ensure that combatant soldiers were under no circumstances be employed on a job not in conformity with the dignity and self-respect of a soldier.






Major Generals to draw more pension
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
In a significant decision that will affect scores of retired Major Generals, the Armed Forces Tribunal today directed the Ministry of Defence to resolve anomalies in their pension fixation. The Generals were drawing emoluments lower than subordinate rank officers.

Taking up the matter filed by 57 affected Major Generals, the Tribunal’s Chandigarh Bench - comprising Justice Ghanshyam Prashad and Lt Gen NS Brar (retd) - directed the MoD to comply with its orders within three months.

Consequent to implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission (SPC) and several subsequent notifications, Major Generals who retired prior to 2006 were drawing lesser pension than brigadiers and colonels who retired during or after 2006. Besides, the pension differential between a pre-2006 and post-2006 Major General, at Rs 10,000-12,000 a month, also increased.

The petitioners contended that according to the notification issued in respect of pre-2006 retirees on November 11, 2008, Lieutenant Generals and Major Generals were awarded a pension of Rs 26,150. The same amount was also given to a Brigadier, while a Colonel was drawing Rs 26,050 and a Lieutenant Colonel Rs 14,600.

Thereafter, a notification was issued on December 11, 2008, amending the above pension. A Major General was to draw Rs 23,700, a Brigadier Rs 26,150 and a Colonel Rs 26,050, thereby creating a situation where senior rank officers were getting lesser pension than juniors! The anomaly was later partly corrected by the January 20, 2009 notification, when the pension of a pre-2006 Major General and Lieutenant General was raised to Rs 26,700 and 27,700 respectively. Later on May 20, 2009, pension for a pre-2006 Lieutenant Colonel was revised to Rs 25,700 from Rs 14,600.

A notification issued on January 20, 2010, raised the pension of a pre-2006 Lieutenant General to Rs 36,500 but no increase was made in case of a pre-2006 Major General despite representations, the petitioners claimed.






Capt killed in Pulwama encounter
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 4
An Army Captain and four Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militants were killed in a 30-hour-long encounter in Dadsar in the Tral area of Pulwama district today.

While one militant was shot dead yesterday, three others were killed this morning. This is the second encounter in which an Army officer lost his life in the past eight days. Capt Devinder Singh Jass was killed in an encounter in Sopore on February 24.

Defence spokesman Lt-Col J.S.Brar said the slain Army officer Capt Deepak Sharma belonged to Rohtak. The killed HM militants were Mohammad Amin Mir, alias Mitha, Shabir Ahmad Mir and Ghulam Mohammad Mir, alias Janwar, all belonging to the Tral area. Five UBGLs were recovered from the scene of the encounter, he said.







First woman court martialled in India

Vikram Chowdhary, Thursday March 4, 2010, Chandigarh


Dimple Singla was among the first  batch of women to be inducted in the Army in 1993.  Now, she is the first woman from the Army to have been court-martialled and sent to jail. (Read: What is court martial?)


Retired Major Singla was once a presiding court-martial judge herself. She has been found guilty of selling her verdict for Rs 10,000 in a case involving a jawan in 2004. She's been sentenced to a year in prison.


Singla can contest the judgement by moving the Amed Forces Tribunal. "This is a very rare case where there is no evidence of obtaining money, asking for money, or any payment or recovery of money. The Supreme Court has very strict guidelines in such cases. But in this case, instead of giving her the benefit of doubt, she has been convicted,'' says her lawyer, Colonel (Retd) S K Aggarwal.


Since she has been found guilty, she stands to lose all Army benefits which ex-servicemen are entitled to.






Hyderabad plane crash: Searching for explanations

Uma Sudhir, Thursday March 4, 2010, Hyderabad


When an Indian navy airplane tumbled through the sky on Wednesday, it crashed into a three-storey residential building near the Begumpet Airport in the heart of Hyderabad city. (Read: Plane crash at Hyderabad air show, both pilots dead)


A cell phone tower and a 35,000 litre water tank were hit by the plane. Their remains sit precariously on the roof, which was ravaged by flames in the crash.


Engineers are worried about whether the building will collapse. So, people in the neighbourhood have been asked to vacate the area.


Investigators will rely heavily on the cockpit voice recorder to unravel what went wrong causing the plane to freefall during an aviation show.


Meanwhile, Hyderabad has its own inquiry to work through. Many point out that buildings near the accident site openly violate the law.


Of the building that was hit by the plane, Anil Kumar, an expert on building bylaws in the city, says, "On the third floor was a penthouse and on it was a cell tower, which definitely beats height restrictions imposed by the airports authority and cantonment byelaws which restricts building height to 12 metres."


The owner of the building, Ramesh Kumar Goud, says "There are many buildings here with ground floor plus two and also a penthouse. Mine is also like that only."


Officials say that before the air show, the pilots had familiarised themselves with the topography, as is the norm. (Read: Debate over precautions for air show)


"The pilots had two practice flights and everything was fine. They had flown in from Goa and had two rehearsals," says Vivek Kodikal, a spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Summit 2010, whose inaugural event witnessed the plane crashing.


It will take at least another two days for the wreckage to be cleared, and for the evacuated residents in the neighbourhood to return home. (Read: Hyderabad crash: Ground Zero, 24 hours later)







Crash in Hyderabad
Need to review permission for aerobatics

The crash of a Kiran MK-2 aircraft of the Indian Navy’s Sagar Pawan aerobatics fleet while performing at the India Aviation 2010 air show in Hyderabad on Wednesday is a big blow to the showcase event. Considering that this was the second mishap involving an aerobatics display team of the Indian armed forces in three days, there is cause for serious re-thinking on whether such aerobatic displays are advisable at all in high-profile air shows. On February 27, an ALH Dhruv of IAF's Sarang helicopter display team had crash-landed in Jaisalmer due to loss of power while rehearsing for the Vayu Shakti air show there. Significantly, Sagar Pawan is one of only two naval aerobatic teams along with ‘Blue Angels’ of the US Navy. Other countries evidently consider it not worth the risk to use naval aircraft in such shows of public display. With dignitaries like the Union Civil Aviation Minister and the US ambassador to India in attendance, besides top brass of the navy, it was not unnatural for the pilots go out of their way to display their skills of manouvre.

Only a proper inquiry will establish what really went wrong and why the two pilots failed to eject to save their lives as they crashed into a residential building, Navy officials have been quoted in the media as saying that the Kiran aircraft has sequential ejection system so when the canopy opens, the left seat fires out first and then the right seat. If that is so, while co-pilot Rahul Nair at least had a chance to eject even though he did not have the ‘minimum safe ejection altitude’ Commander Suresh Maurya did not even have that chance. This issue of pilot safety in Kiran aircraft must be studied threadbare and changes made to the technical design if needed to meet the due requirements.

The fact that the air show was held in the vicinity of a residential area in Hyderabad should itself be an issue for investigation. Such shows must be organized well away from habitats. It is indeed time we ensure that air shows in future are made safer for the pilots as well as the public. If that requires a complete stoppage of aerobatics display, so be it.







Defence needs modernisation
Delay in decision making is the bane
by Inder Malhotra

THERE is not much to be said for the Rs 1,47,000-crore defence allocation in Mr Pranab Mukherjee's budget. Except that his claim of having increased the defence outlay by 4 per cent is meaningless in the face of the 8 per cent rate of inflation. To make matters worse, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) habitually returns considerable sums to the national exchequer every year. The amount surrendered in 2009 was close to Rs 7,000 crore. The figure for the preceding eight years was no less than Rs 32,000 crore. Sadly, the unspent money is from the capital budget of the MoD meant for fresh acquisitions, not from the revenue budget meant for pay, rations and maintenance of the existing systems.

Against this backdrop to draw any comfort from President Pratibha Patil's declaration in her address to the joint sitting of Parliament to the effect that her government was “committed to modernisation of Indian defence” would be a classic case of triumph of hope over experience. Modernisation may be the mantra, but between the government's words and deeds falls the proverbial shadow. Chronic delay in decision-making, indeed utter indecision, sadly aggravated since Mr A.K. Antony became Defence Minister, is the bane. But nobody seems interested in doing anything about it.

No wonder, therefore, that, despite the lip service to the imperative of coping with the threats from Pakistan and China, especially from the power that the Chinese can bring to bear on our land borders, the state of our armed forces remains far from satisfactory. All because the MoD takes an unconscionable time to decide on the procurement of weapons systems and the Cabinet Committee on Security adds to the tardiness. The unending hiatus between the MoD's civilian bureaucracy and the leadership of the armed forces, to say nothing of the defence services' penchant to go on changing their requirements, complicate the problem further. But the ultimate responsibility for the mess is that of the political leadership.

Is it any surprise, therefore, that this country hasn't acquired any artillery since the mid-eighties of the last century though a small number of old artillery guns have been upgraded for us by Israel? The nation's armour is partially, if not largely, night blind. For various reasons the military's communications are also deficient. All this, combined with the alarming and sustained shortage of officers, especially in the Army, adds up to a dangerous situation.

Another telling instance of mishandling the modernisation process may also be cited. Some years ago, this country belatedly woke up to the shocking fact that compared with the state-of-the-art Chinese infrastructure along the Himalayan border, that of India was appalling. The Defence Ministry announced a number of projects to build border roads, improve airstrips and send Sukhoi-30 fighters to the area. But the other day it transpired that several projects were held up because the proposed border roads would pass through forests and the MoD had not been able to secure the requisite concurrence of the Ministry of Environment and Forests! It would take India at least 15 years to catch up with the current state of Chinese infrastructure. What China would have built up by then should not be hard to imagine.

The obvious way to counterbalance any advantage that the Chinese are likely to have along the land border is to use this country's enviable geographical position in the Indian Ocean through which pass the bulk of China's oil supplies and other vital imports. But is there any guarantee that the Navy will get the submarines and surface ships it needs and when it needs them?

It should be obvious to even the meanest intelligence that the plight of the Indian Air Force is worse than that of the other two Services. Shortly after the disastrous border war with China in 1962, we had settled for an air force of 45 squadrons of which 39 were combat squadrons. Today there are only 30 combat squadrons left and their number will be down to 28 in another two years. Since at least 10 of these squadrons would have to be deployed in the east, there will be a “window of vulnerability” on the western front. For, a decision on the acquisition of 126 multi-role combat aircraft — for which two US, three European and one Russian models are competing — has been delayed long enough. When it might be taken is anybody's guess.

There are two reasons for this extremely costly delay. First, the decision makers seem wary of displeasing either the US or Russia, the two leading sources of sophisticated armaments, though Russia has so far been and remains the largest source of this country. Indeed, India is a partner of Russia in designing and developing the fifth generation aircraft. At a discussion on this subject presided over by Mr Antony, prominent security analyst K. Subrahmanyam argued that choosing the most advanced aircraft was not a matter of “nitpicking” about costs, etc, but of wider geo-strategic considerations.

The second reason for the virtual paralysis of decision-making on defence procurement is rather dialectical. On the one hand, complaints of corruption within the armed forces have been growing. Retired and serving military leaders resent this. But they ought to know that not only civilians but also officers of the three Services at various levels share this view. On the other hand, this has driven the Defence Minister to putting any decision on equipment acquisition on hold at the slightest suspicion of wrongdoing or lack of transparency. The latest to meet this fate was the decision to purchase from Europe the transport helicopters for which the Army has been crying hoarse for long.

The issue of much-needed modernisation of Indian defence is a vast and complex one, and cannot, therefore, be addressed in a single article. Several other ramifications of the problem will, therefore, have to be discussed some other time. However, two points have to be made tersely. First, modernisation does not mean merely upgrading the equipment, relying more on imports than on domestic development and production. There also has to be modernisation of the mind so that there is a wider strategic approach that covers the military's control and command structure. Secondly, Mr Antony has been good enough to describe as “shameful and dangerous” the fact that India imports 70 per cent of the military hardware it needs. Is he doing anything about this shame?








Budget denies defence its due
by Col (retd) P.K. Vasudeva

After the huge 34 per cent jump in the allocation in 2009-2010 to plug operational gaps in the wake of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai as well as implementation of 6th Pay Commission packages, the defence outlay got a measly 3.98 per cent this fiscal 2010-2011, higher than the previous year but the lowest in seven years.

While the operating expenditure of the forces has been rising, capital expenditure declined last year. This does not bode well for defence modernisation.

It becomes a slightly healthier 8.13 per cent hike if the revised estimates of last year are taken into account.

For the record, the 2010-2011-defence outlay stands at Rs. 1,44,344 crore compared to last year’s allocation of Rs. 1,41,703 crore.

The threat perception from both China and Pakistan is looming. India has to evolve an Israeli model if it desires to obviate threat perception from our adversaries for which the defence outlay needs to be trebled.

The capital outlay, largely meant for acquiring new weapon systems and platforms, is pegged at Rs 60,000 crore this fiscal, which represents a 9.4 per cent jump over last year’s allocation of Rs 54,824 crore.

It becomes a robust 25.4 per cent if compared to revised estimates at Rs 47,824 crore of 2009-10. Out of Rs 60,000 crore of capital outlay, the Indian Air Force has got the biggest chunk of Rs 24,954 crore. The Army got Rs 16,969 crore, the Navy Rs 2,972 crore, Naval Fleet Rs 6,950 crore and Naval Dockyard Rs 417 crore.

Officials said the IAF is set to purchase some 126 multi-role fighters, it has floated a tender for attack helicopters and also transport helicopters, besides new training aircraft for its fighter pilots. It is also set to purchase critical equipment for air defence.

Besides major equipment that could come up for the purchase includes the sea-borne aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and large lending ships.

The Army will be buying heavy vehicles worth Rs 1,074 crore while Rs 4,722 crore has been allocated for the Army’s construction activity.

The Defence Ministry has failed to spend Rs 7,000 crore from the 2009-2010 capital outlay. That is a sign that the armed forces, worrying more on operating costs than long-term investments, are not being pushed to improve their teeth-to-tail ratios.

Of the three services, the Indian Navy is the only service acting against this trend. In the absence of any strategic guidance, modernisation plans will continue to lag behind.

The entire planning process, of course, needs a complete overhaul. From the lack of adequate number of submarines, obsolete radars and outdated air defence weapons to the failure to induct new 155 mm artillery howitzers since the Bofors case of mid-1990s, the forces have several gaps in operational capabilities despite India spending over $50 billion on arms acquisitions since the 1990 Kargil conflict.

There is a need for India to strengthen its diplomatic and military capabilities in consonance with its rise as an economic power.

Contrary to what those who argue in favour of spending on development instead of defence say, the “guns-versus-butter” debate is spurious: Unless adequate provisions are made for defence, no state will be able to pursue its development agenda.

This is even truer in India, which faces a unique security environment with two of its “adversaries” straddling it on two sides of its borders and problems on all sides of its periphery.

Compared with China’s 7% and Pakistan’s 5% of GDP defence expenditure, India’s defence budget continues to be very low.

The Defence Minister has indicated that the government is examining all pros and cons before it sets a time frame for defence production policy in which the provisions would be incorporated to seek indulgence of the private sector for defence exports with minimum government approvals.

In the absence of the policy, exports of defence articles, equipment, component and finished products are cumbersome but something would have to be done on this front for it.

Defence experts feel that a clear-cut road map for corporatisation of ordnance factories should be seriously considered. Without it Indian defence production will remain import-oriented and the factories would not be competitive enough.

Keeping in view the threat perception there is a dire need for building roads, railway lines and airports for the jet fighters operations right up to the borders as has been done by China.

Pakistan is trying to settle its ex-servicemen near the borders and arming them for better security alerts. India must be strong enough like Israel to counter any attack of offensive from our adversaries.






Why Pakistan Armed Forces are Indo-centric?

Sultan M Hali


India has never accepted Pakistan’s existence and always considered the division of Bharat a cardinal sin. The members of the Indian Congress had initially agreed to the partition with the understanding that the fledgling nation would barely survive a few weeks. Enough impediments had been placed in its path to ensure its destruction. The mass exodus of Muslims from India headed towards Pakistan and freedom but was set upon by marauding hordes of extremist Hindus and Sikhs, who looted raped and massacred the refugees. Pakistan’s share of the assets both in terms of finances, machinery and weapons was not handed over to the new state.


To tighten the screw on Pakistan, Kashmir, Hyderabad, Junagadh and other Muslim states were annexed through forceful occupation. In all this turmoil, one institution remained a thorn in India’s side and that was the Pakistan Army. Bedraggled and under-equipped, the Pakistan Army mostly comprised stragglers, who had themselves barely escaped from the mad frenzy of the communal rioters. It goes to the credit of Pakistan’s founding fathers, Quaid-e-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan, who thwarted the machination of the Indian Congress, which wanted the Indian armed forces to remain undivided under one on Commander-in-Chief after the departure of the British. The duo of Quaid and Liaquat saw through the macabre Congress stratagem since it would have left Pakistan undefended and at the mercy of the Indian malevolence.


Congress did not want Pakistan to have separate defence because it wanted Pakistan to crumble and beg to be taken back into the fold of united India or failing which, India would gobble up the fledgling Pakistan. After Independence, our founding fathers organized the Armed Forces and deputed them to protect the incoming refugee caravans. The first test for the army and air transport elements of the air force came when India occupied Kashmir. It was baptism under fire but Pakistani Armed Forces despite being outnumbered and ill equipped and devoid of directions from their British Commanders, did well to liberate a sizable portion of Kashmir from the clutches of Indian occupation and would have unshackled the rest of the Valley if India did not approach UN for a ceasefire and agreed to the UN Resolution calling for a plebiscite to settle the Kashmir issue. Pakistan Armed Forces went to war twice more in 1965 and 1971 and nearly in 1999 at Kargil but the Kashmir issue remains unresolved.


Pakistan Army may have committed the folly of upsetting the applecart of democracy by usurping power four times, for which they are answerable to the people of Pakistan and the current dispensation in the Army is trying to make amends. As far as India is concerned, it partly realized its dream of dismembering Pakistan, when it stage-managed the turmoil in 1971 and ultimately severed our eastern wing from us. It has tried similar tactics in the western wing too. Operation Meghdoot (1984) to capture Siachen; Operation Brasstacks (November 1986-March 1987) in which General Sunderji had grand designs of dismembering Pakistan at its narrowest belt opposite Rajasthan; Operation Parakram (December 13, 2001 - June 10, 2002) when belligerent India amassed its troops on its borders with Pakistan; following 26/11 Mumbai attacks, India contemplated surgical strikes. These Indian adventurisms were thwarted by the vigilant Pakistani Armed Forces, backed by a credible nuclear arsenal. Ultimately, in December 2009, Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor croaked that India has developed, modified and tested the Cold Start Strategy to take on Pakistan with conventional weapons before the nuclear weapons can be deployed or launched.


If anyone still has doubts why Pakistan’s Armed Forces are Indo-Centric, they should listen to Indian Army’s musings. Its 19th Chief of Army Staff, General Ved Parakash Malik, who in his Observer Research Foundation discourse of January 2010k titled ‘India’s Strategic Culture and Security Challenges’ spills the beans: “We must realize that our enemy is not Pakistan or its civil society. It is the Pakistan Army.” He qualifies his conclusion by claiming that “Our major security problem with Pakistan currently is terrorism. Experts in India and abroad have no doubt that the 26/11 Mumbai incident originated in Pakistan, and like most such incidents in the past, it was encouraged and supported by the ISI, which works under the Pakistan Army. Even Dr Manmohan Singh said, there is enough evidence to show that, given the sophistication and military precision of the attack, it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan.” Dr. Manmohan Singh would be better advised to look for the sophistication and military precision provided by agencies closer to home.


The ill informed V. P. Malik rambles on: “The Pakistan Army, for long, has maintained its unholy alliance with terror organizations through the ISI. Recently, General Musharraf called the ISI as its strategic arm and its first line of defense. He has also confirmed that the ISI maintains representation in all jehadi outfits to promote the Pakistan Army’s strategic interests. Last year, the Pakistan Army refused to place the ISI under civilian political leadership.”


Now examine the events in the past few years. Pakistan’s Armed Forces have been the prime targets of terror attacks as well as a maligning and smear campaign in international media, at times quoted in the local media. Reports of Indian involvement in terror activities in Swat, Balochistan and FATA indicate a concerted effort to ensnare the Army in combating terror. It goes to its credit that the Army has achieved success against the perpetrators of terror attacks but it has had to pay a heavy price in human lives. While the nation suffers the agonizing terror attacks, losing innocent lives in the dastardly attacks, it is comforting that its Armed Forces act as a bulwark to frustrate Indian nefarious designs. Attempting to make Pakistan redeploy its forces from its eastern borders to the northwest, India tried to use the shoulders of USA but Pakistan is cognizant of the clear and present danger from India. Now VP Malik has confirmed that “Pakistan Army is India’s enemy”; no wonder our Armed Forces remain India-centric.







4 militants, Indian army capitan killed in gunfight in Kashmir

05:21, March 05, 2010      


Five people including an Indian army captain and four militants were killed in a two-day fierce gunfight in Indian-controlled Kashmir, defense officials said Thursday.


The gunfight broke out early Wednesday morning in Dadsara Tral town, 37 km south of Srinagar city, the summer capital of India- controlled Kashmir, after Indian army, paramilitary troopers and police cordoned a locality on the specific information about presence of militants there. "Four militants were eliminated in the gunfight, however we also lost an officer of the rank of capitan in the standoff," said General-Officer-Commanding (GoC) of counter insurgency Victor Force at the encounter site.


Police officials said Wednesday two militants were killed in the gunbattle. "The operation was suspended for the night, however today two more militants were killed. The area is still under cordon and search would be carried out tomorrow underneath the debris," said a police officer.


Two houses are reported to have got damaged during the heavy exchange of fire and mortars. "The operation has concluded and it was believed that five to six militants were holed up in the area," the police official informed.


The slain militants have been identified as Hizbul Mujahideen ( HM) cadres.


HM is the the frontline indigenous militant outfit of Kashmir. On Feb. 23, four Indian army troopers including a capitan and two militants were killed at Chinkipora in Sopore, 50 km northwest of Srinagar city.





China Slows Increase in Defense Spending

Rural Development and Social Spending Compete for Funds; 'It Will Be Harder to Argue About the Chinese Threat'





SHANGHAI—China said it will raise its official defense budget 7.5% this year—the smallest increase in two decades—as the government shifts resources toward other priorities, in a move that could also help defuse perceptions of the nation as a military threat.


Li Zhaoxing, a spokesman for China's legislature, the National People's Congress, said the country would spend nearly $78 billion on its armed forces in 2010, up from $72.5 billion last year. That is a sharply lower growth rate than the nearly 19% average budget rise for the People's Liberation Army every year since 2006.



Since 2000, China's declared annual defense outlay has grown more than fourfold. It now exceeds the military spending of the U.K., France and Russia. But it remains a fraction of the more than $690 billion spent on defense last year by the U.S., whose troops are fighting in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


China's official military budget is widely believed to significantly understate its actual defense spending. In 2008, for instance, the Pentagon estimated that actual Chinese military spending was between $105 billion and $150 billion. The official Chinese government figure was $60 billion.

Journal Community


The rapid rise in China's military spending and its development and acquisition of more sophisticated weaponry in recent years has sparked concern in Washington and among China's neighbors, who question Beijing's intentions. China's growing military is already forcing the U.S. and others to reassess their approaches to security in Asia.


This year's military spending increase was significantly smaller than that expected by outside analysts of the Chinese military, many of whom had forecast a rise of roughly 15%. It is unclear whether the slower growth rate will be enough to assuage the worries of Beijing's critics.


"It's a surprise," said David Shambaugh, a professor at George Washington University who studies Chinese military affairs. "There are competing expenditure priorities" for Chinese leaders struggling to develop rural areas, which are falling further behind the nation's booming cities, and to repair a tattered social safety net. "It will be harder to argue about the Chinese threat," if Beijing continues to temper its defense spending increases, Mr. Shambaugh added.


Ni Lexiong, a fellow at the Shanghai National Defense Institute and an outspoken advocate of Chinese sea power, said that the lower defense-spending rise reflects an "easing of the security situation," with improved relations between the mainland and Taiwan, which China views as part of its territory. Mr. Ni also said the government may be trying to "build mutual trust and eliminate the China-threat theory" with more gradual budget increases. He said that Vietnam, India and others had responded to China's stronger military by buying more weapons themselves, and that China doesn't want to spark an arms race in Asia.


"China is committed to peaceful development and a military posture that is defensive in nature," said Mr. Li, the National People's Congress spokesman, in a nationally broadcast news conference Thursday ahead of this year's session of the congress, China's largely ceremonial legislature. He said this year's increase would improve China's ability to "meet various threats."


China's 2.3 million-strong armed forces are far more capable than they were a decade ago. Big improvements have been made in the navy, especially its submarine forces, as well as in ballistic missiles and cyber and electronic warfare, military analysts say. But the country still lacks the ability to deploy any substantial force beyond its periphery, the Pentagon and military analysts say.


For the most part, Beijing has sought to play down the significance of growth in military spending, saying it has been directed primarily at helping the PLA, with its roots in the peasant army that brought the Communist Party to power in 1949, catch up with more technologically sophisticated militaries in Japan and the West.


But increasingly, Chinese leaders also have sought to draw attention to the country's military strength as a source of national pride. On Oct. 1, the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the People's Republic of China, a massive military parade through the heart of Beijing showed off the country's new hardware.


Much of China's modernization effort has been directed at raising the potential cost of U.S. intervention in any conflict between China and Taiwan. But the military's aspirations are broader. The Chinese navy has been pushing farther offshore. Chinese ships have joined antipiracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden. And navy officers talk of one day building an aircraft carrier, which would be China's first.


In 2007, China used a missile to shoot down an orbiting satellite. This year, the PLA said it successfully tested an antiballistic-missile interceptor. The Defense Department believes China is also developing a ballistic missile that it can use to target U.S. aircraft carriers.

A new generation of military boosters is becoming more outspoken. In a new book called "The China Dream," a PLA officer, Senior Col. Liu Mingfu, calls on China to "become world No. 1, the top power" in the 21st century. Senior Col. Liu teaches at China's National Defense University.


Despite their swelling ambitions, however, China's armed forces still have a long way to go as they strive to become a leaner, more agile force using more sophisticated, high-tech weapons, analysts say. That could be one reason for the slowed increase in military spending. The PLA is still learning to effectively use the hardware it has been buying, to train ranks of new, better educated recruits and to build a more professional officer corps.


"Chinese defense spending has reached a very high level," said Chu Shulong, director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at Beijing's Tsinghua University. "Now, the slowing down of growth is more caused by fiscal pressure," he added. "China's government needs to improve people's livelihoods and welfare and spend more on education."

—Gao Sen contributed to this article.


Write to Gordon Fairclough at







Changing Contours of the Japan-India Defense Relations


Pranmita Baruah - 3/4/2010


The history of India-Japan cooperation is relatively short. The defence cooperation between the two states was basically initiated by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori. During his August 2000 visit to India, Mori and counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee signed a bilateral agreement entitled ‘Global partnership between Japan and India in the 21st Century’. Japan hoped to build a multifaceted cooperative relationship with India in a wide range of fields. At that time, both sides talked about institutionalizing a dialogue between the ministries of defence and foreign affairs for coordinated actions on security and foreign policy related issues, such as the security of sea-lanes, joint naval exercises to combat piracy and disaster management. This outlined the level of Indo-Japanese security engagement. In 2000 itself, the Indian Navy sent warships, tankers and submarines to Japan, along with South Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam for bilateral exercises and as gestures of goodwill.


India’s Defence Minister George Fernandes’s January 2001 Tokyo visit helped in strengthening the bilateral cooperation further, as it was the first time for both sides to hold formal talks at the defence ministerial level. In July 2001, the first meetings of the Japan-India Security Dialogue and the Japan-India Military-Military Consultation were held. In the following December, Prime Ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Vajpayee signed the India-Japan Joint Declaration, in which both sides pledged to cooperate in supporting the war on terror, countering the proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery, ensuring the safety and security of maritime traffic, and reaffirmed their intention to foster defence exchange. In April 2005, a subsequent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Koizumi produced the joint statement “Japan-India Partnership in a New Asian Era: Strategic Orientation of Japan-India Global Partnership”, as well as an Action Plan called the “Eight-fold Initiative for Strengthening Japan-India Global Partnership”. The action plan gave particular emphasis on the enhancement of bilateral security dialogue and cooperation by a) further developing dialogues and exchanges, including through full utilization of existing consultation forums; b) strengthening service-to-service exchanges between defence establishments of the two countries; c) working to ensure the safety and security of maritime traffic through joint exercises against piracy and the annual Japan Coast Guard-Indian Coast Guard talks; and d) building up cooperation between the Maritime Self Defence Force (MSDF) and the Indian Navy in recognition of the importance of maritime security.


The prospect of bilateral security cooperation was enhanced further in May 2006 with the announcement of a joint statement by Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Japanese Minister of State for Defence Fukushiro Nukaga. The new statement once again underlined the necessity of bilateral defence cooperation, even in areas like disaster relief, international terrorism, technical cooperation, and peace keeping operations. The ‘Joint Statement Towards Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership’ issued following December 2006 meeting between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Shinzo Abe, reiterated the two states’ firm commitment to strengthen defence cooperation as part of their overall endeavours towards political, defence and security cooperation.


During the meeting of both the Prime Ministers in August 2007, the Joint Statement on the Roadmap for New Dimensions to the Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan was adopted. This agreement confirmed that both sides shared ‘common interests in such fields as maintaining the safety and security of sea lanes in the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions and fighting against transnational crimes, terrorism, piracy and proliferation of the WMD,” and stated that they would study the future course of their security cooperation and seek to deepen and broaden strategic dialogue through various channels, including at the foreign ministerial level of the strategic dialogue. The statement further indicated that both the states would steadily and qualitatively improve their security cooperation, including through vice ministerial level defence policy dialogue and the sharing of experience in international peace cooperation activities and counterterrorism, and promote cooperation between their Coast Guards.


Thus, India and Japan built up security cooperation efforts at the political level, forming the groundwork for dramatic advances in cooperative activities in the defence sector. Japan’s security cooperation with India made considerable headway in 2007, with the inaugural Japan-India Defence Policy Dialogue at the vice-ministerial level (April 11), the first Japan-India-US maritime exercise off the Boso Peninsula of Japan (April 16), a meeting between Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony and his Japanese counterpart Yuriko Koike. Then during September 4 to 9, 2007, for the first time, the Japanese MSDF participated in the multilateral maritime exercise ‘Malabar 07-2’, conducted in the Bay of Bengal.


In October 2008, while bringing bilateral relationship to a new height, India and Japan inked a unique declaration on security cooperation that involves joint defence exercises, policing of the Indian Ocean and military-to-military exchanges on counter-terrorism. This agreement came close in the heels of the civilian nuclear deal that India and the US signed sparking talks of a new security order in the region with Australia joining in to complete quadrilateral framework.


In the Joint Statement issued on November 10, 2009, following Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s Tokyo visit, both the states reiterated their commitment towards strengthening their joint anti-piracy cooperation in the Gulf of Aden. They decided to extend cooperation in the fields of maritime security as well as in combating terrorism. The idea of negotiating on a Defence Action Plan (DAP) was also conceived during that time.


During Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s November 2009 visit to Tokyo, both the states agreed to strengthen the relationship in areas like joint military exercises, bilateral and regional cooperation in peacekeeping, disaster relief and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Both Antony and his Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa reviewed the existing bilateral defence interactions and explored ways to enhance them further. Antony also emphasized on the necessity of conducting joint exercises between the two armed forces and exchange of students in their respective defence training institutions. During the meeting, issues like bilateral Defence Policy Dialogue, comprehensive security dialogue (CSD), military-to-military talks too were discussed. All these measures supposedly gave a ‘facelift to the existing bilateral defence cooperation’. Recently, the visits of Indian Chief of Naval staff and the Chief of Army staff visits to Japan (in August 2008 and August 2009 respectively), conducting of joint ‘Malabar 09’ exercises in the eastern side of Okinawa (April 2009), the inauguration of the India-Japan Maritime Security Dialogue (October 2009), the holding of the Second Navy-to-Navy Staff talks (October 2009) have clearly demonstrated the mutual commitment between India and Japan in strengthening their cooperation in the defence field.


Amidst a lot of apprehensions over Indo-Japan relations under the newly elected government led by opposition Democratic Party Japan (DPJ), Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama visited India from December 27-29, 2009. During his visit, both the states unveiled a joint action plan on advanced security cooperation. The goal of this plan is to advance security cooperation, based on a declaration signed in October 2008. It includes a newly established ‘2 plus 2’ dialogue framework at the senior official level of external affairs and defence ministries; an annual strategic dialogue at the foreign minister level; regular consultations among security advisers; etc. Overall, this visit seemed to be aimed at providing a political reaffirmation to the Indo-Japan strategic partnership.


Some analysts argue that Hatoyama’s eagerness to mend fence with China and downplaying bilateral security alliance with the US might adversely affect Japan’s relationship with India. There are other hawkish elements in either country who perceive this policy stance as a hedging strategy to contain China’s rise. Strong ties between Japan and China, India and Japan and India and China will be in tune with Hatoyama’s Asia oriented foreign policy and in the interest of establishing a peaceful Asian order. The East Asian Community (EAC) initiative floated by Hatoyama may be seen from this perspective. His proposal for the establishment of an EAC and his desire to work with China can actually provide both India and Japan an opportunity to strengthen their bilateral relationship on much firmer grounds rather than on the mere pretext of ‘balance of power’ equation. If Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuta Okada’s envision of opening up of the EAC membership to India along with China, South Korea, ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand and Japan itself becomes a reality, it will provide further impetus to India-Japan relations as well. In the years ahead, it will be imperative for both the states to continue pursuing cooperation regarding their common strategic interests-counterterrorism, maritime security, disaster relief, etc., in a manner that is to their mutual benefit, while taking into account India’s need to follow its own national strategies.

Pranmita Baruah is Research Assistant in the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.








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