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Tuesday, 6 April 2010

From Today's Papers - 06 Apr 2010

China’s pressure tactics India needs to be vigilant
by Air Marshal (retd) R.S. Bedi  CHINA is likely to emerge as world’s second largest economy by the end of this year. Its military might is also growing simultaneously at the same pace. Deng Xiaoping outlined his vision in 1979 when he said: “The world would have no option but to listen to you if you have a robust economy and powerful military”.  China has settled its disputes with almost all its neighbours except India. With India, it seems to prefer to keep the pot boiling so far as the Sino-Indian border dispute is concerned.  Shrewd as the Chinese are, they managed to sign a treaty of 'Peace and Tranquility' with India in 1993 during Prime Minister, Narasimaha Rao's visit to their country, thus ensuring peaceful borders by putting the resolution of currently intractable border issue in cold storage indefinitely.  Last month, Chinese soldiers stopped the work on 8 km long road being constructed under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) at Demchok. India just caved in and instead blamed the state government of Jammu and Kahsmir for taking the initiative.  In June, 2009, the Chinese helicopters violated the air space in Ladakh and left behind tell tale signs of their intrusion including air dropping of food cans near Chumar.  Precisely a month later the Chinese soldiers came along in Chumar area once again and painted rocks with the word ‘China’ in Cantonese. In 2008, they intruded in Sikkim’s’Finger Area’ and we dismissed it by calling it a minor issue. In 2007, the Chinese in fact intruded nearly 20 km inside the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh. The UPA government just denied it and of course so did the Chinese.  The Chinese have not hesitated resorting to such antics even when Indian dignitaries are on their visits to China. In 2003, when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was on a visit to China, the PLA soldiers cut across the LAC and apprehended an Indian patrol. In all these cases, India just down played these incidents. China’s aim is to keep India off balance by devious tricks, otherwise how does one explain its objections to Indian dignitaries visiting Arunachal Pradesh and issuing stapled visas to Indian nationals from J&K.  India’s response on China’s attempt at diverting Brahumputra River before it enters India near the ‘great bend’ is another example of its helplessness. India already seemed to have resigned to a fait accompli, if one is to go by recent statements of Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, our Minister for Water Resources. There are also reports of China planning to divert Indus river water to the arid plains of western Tibet, a matter of extreme concern for India. India must rise and face these challenges in best possible manner.  Both the NDA and the UPA governments have failed to see through the Chinese strategy. Frequent and deep violations of the LAC are to give credibility to their claims. China has been nibbling large tracts of land and advancing gradually across the LAC. Their permanent settlements have come much closer than they were ever before in the past. They have been constructing roads, permanent structures and devious settlements adjacent to the Indian side of the LAC. They have also been claiming the traditional grazing fields of our Ladakhi people by scaring them away.  Instead of standing up to the Chinese as they do to our similar construction work, the Indian governments more often than not back out tamely. The Chinese dismiss India’s objections invariably with a firm denial whilst we down play their actions under the cover of differing perceptions of LAC. We always want to avoid precipitating the issue.  Apparently, 1962 syndrome continues to haunt our thinking. China’s multi-dimensional threat to India’s National Security has become a cause for serious concern.  Strategic divergence, competitive economic growth, territorial disputes, India’s growing ties with the US and their civilian nuclear cooperation despite not having signed the NPT, long Joint Defence Framework and last but not the least Dalai Lama and his one lakh Tibetans’ presence in India are some of the major factors that are viewed by China with mistrust.  China is apprehensive that India may at some critical juncture exploit Tibetan nationalism and encourage clash between them and the Hans in Tibet.  Besides, China also sees India’s benign rise as an impediment and a long term threat, particularly in Asian context. China will keep debilitating pressure on India through diplomatic offensive as also through strategic incursions and offensive posturing for time to come. But it will not let the situation go out of hand and turn into a major war like conflict.  Conflicts will remain localised, for large scale war is not in China’s interest presently. India will have to change its mind set and cope with the changing situation with requisite confidence, lest its credibility as a rising power is sullied.  The writer is former Director General, Defence Planning Staff

Tribunal for overhaul of court martial procedure Acquits Major 22 years after dismissal
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, April 5 While setting aside the trial by the general court martial of an Army Major over 22 years after he was convicted, the Armed Forces Tribunal has termed the military judicial system as cumbersome and called for a serious consideration for overhauling the procedure and appointment of legally trained presiding officers and prosecutors for the conduct of trials.  Observing that elementary mistakes were committed in the conduct of criminal trials under court martial proceedings, the tribunal’s Principal Bench, comprising Justice AK Mathur and Lt Gen ML Naidu, in its order on April 1, said the court martial relating to civil offences like murder or other penal code offences or offences under other Acts are not properly conducted like regular criminal trials and, as a result, these result in acquittals.  The tribunal acquitted Maj SS Chillar, who had been charged with possession of an explosive substance under suspicious circumstances. Ruling that the charge could not be brought home, the tribunal observed elementary mistakes were committed in the conduct of criminal prosecution due to lack of training of court officials. The court martial was conducted in November, 1987.  Pointing that the four-tier process from the stage of a preliminary inquiry through hearing of charge and summary of evidence before the trial started, was cumbersome, time consuming and totally unwarranted, the Bench said the exercise be shortened like a criminal trial, so that court martial proceedings could be expedited. The Bench observed that now a proper appeal against court martial proceedings lies before this tribunal, the tribunal has to examine all the procedure as well as substance of the criminal trial like in a court of appeal, including appreciation of the evidence.  Therefore, when court martial proceedings are amenable to regular appeal, the authorities have to undertake overall review of conducting court martial trials pertaining to offences under the IPC or civil offences by a competent prosecutor having experience of trials.  The court martial’s presiding officer should also be a trained person. Such presiding officers as well as prosecutors and judge-advocates in courts martial should be sent for training in criminal courts, where trials are conducted, the Bench said.

US military has ‘more to learn’ from India than China
Chinese top brass has no combat experience, says a defence study Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, April 5 As the complexities of irregular warfare and low-intensity conflict overshadow conventional military operations, a study commissioned by the Office of the US Secretary of Defense suggests that the Indian armed forces are better trained and oriented for such tasks than the militaries of other countries, including China, and Indian procedures can lend some crucial capability to the US military.  The study, focused on what the US can learn from others about how better to prepare for full-spectrum operations and deployments in future, reveals that it has more to learn from India than from China. While insights into training processes in vogue at India’s numerous battle schools are considered by the study as valuable for the US, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has, on the other hand, closely copied American procedures and hence has little to offer in terms of unique training perspective.  Tittled, “Preparing and Training for the Full Spectrum of Military Challenges: Insights from the experiences of China, France, United Kingdom, India and Israel”, the study was undertaken by the Rand National Defense Research Institute, a respected US think-tank and is now being circulated in the Indian military establishment.  Emphasising that the PLA has not been involved in even low-intensity combat operations for over 20 years and hence is today fundamentally different from that of the 1980s, the study remarks, “Thus, current PLA leadership has no recent combat experience, much less any experience in conducting combat operations while leading a modern military.”  Deliberately casting aside its earlier doctrine and training models, the Chinese are looking at Western countries for examples and guidance. Since the strategic objectives and perceived deployments are different for western countries and China, the study opines that not all training methods that are effective for the US are applicable to others.  On China’s training methodology, the study cautions that it has moved from benign conditions to that occurring on unfamiliar terrain, bad weather, under intense electronic-warfare and cyber-war conditions and frequently involving joint operations of relatively large-scale with emphasis on logistics, support functions and integration of information warfare.  At the tactical level, the Indian approach appears to be adequate and Indian forces have been fairly successful in conducting several long-running counter-insurgency campaigns across the country, including the Kargil conflict. In the light of Kargil operations, the mobilisation during Operation Parakram in 2002, the study notes that though there is some inefficiency at every level, the Indian armed forces have consistently demonstrated a high level of effectiveness and at the level of the force, a high level of adaptability.  The insight drawn by the Americans from the Indian experience is that a small group of subject-matter experts, in this case mountain warfare experts, can rapidly infuse capability into units by enabling forces trained for one environment or contingency to improve their performance in a different set of circumstances. “In the USA, this approach could be a way to improve training for specific deployments or to improve performance of units that are deployed for contingencies that were not the focus of pre-deployment preparations,” the study recommended.

Indo-Pak ties and the US: Obama issues secret directive
Press Trust of India, Monday April 5, 2010, Washington  In a secret directive, US President Barack Obama has asked his administration to intensify efforts to make India resolve its tensions with Pakistan, a priority for progress of the "US goals in the region".  He has also asked his officials to intensify American diplomacy aimed at easing tensions between India and Pakistan, asserting that without detente between the two rivals, the administration's efforts to win Pakistani cooperation in Afghanistan would suffer, the Wall Street Journal reported.  The directive, issued in December, concluded that "India must make resolving its tensions with Pakistan a priority for progress to be made on US goals in the region," the US daily said quoting people familiar with its contents.  According to officials, the Pentagon, in particular, has sought more pressure on New Delhi, it said.  The only specific US request to New Delhi has been to "discourage India from getting more involved in training the Afghan military, to ease Pakistani concerns about getting squeezed by India on two borders", the journal said quoting US and Indian officials.  The move comes amid continued requests by Pakistan for an intercession by the US in Indo-Pak disputes, despite a longstanding resistance from India to any mediation by a foreign country.  Pakistan has long regarded Afghanistan as providing "strategic depth" or a buffer zone in a potential conflict with India, and does not want India to have a larger influence in the country.  "Current and former US officials said the discussion in Washington over how to approach India has intensified as Pakistan ratchets up requests that the US intercede in a series of continuing disputes," it said, adding the White House declined to comment on Obama's directive or on the debate within the administration over India policy.

Govt mulls FDI hike in defence production: Sharma
Press Trust of India / New Delhi April 5, 2010, 19:18 IST  The government today said it is weighing pros and cons of raising the FDI limit in defence production with a long-term objective of making India a major player in the sector.  Confirming that "there are discussions" in this regard, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma at an Assocham function said here that the government is looking at the "long-term interest in ensuring that India has technologies and becomes a major manufacturing place(for Defence).  He said before a decision is taken the "sensitivities" of the defence establishment would be taken on board.  Different ministries, including the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Finance, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion as also the Planning Commission are debating the issue.  India permits 26 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defence manufacturing, an area of growing interest for the domestic private sector, which is demanding 100 per cent FDI.  Major industrial houses like Larsen and Toubro, the Tatas, the Mahindras and Punj Lloyds are already engaged into different defence-related businesses.  Of the total defence allocations of Rs 1,47,344 crore for 2010-11, a large chunk of Rs 60,000 crore has been earmarked for capital expenditure.  While the country has large domestic defence manufacturing base, mainly in the government sector, the government sources equipment worth Rs 30,000-35,000 crore for the world's second largest 1.5 million strong force.

India, Pak to launch major wargames at same time
Rajat Pandit, TNN, Apr 6, 2010, 12.52am IST NEW DELHI: In a coincidence that has the potential of raising tension levels, the Indian and Pakistani militaries would be conducting major wargames later this month virtually within shouting distance from each other.  Both exercises, involving thousands of troops, aim to test offensive strategies in the event of an armed conflict with the other side and will have active participation of their respective air forces.  The Indian Army will launch its month-long wargames in mid-April in the Thar desert. Called 'Yodha Shakti', the games will involve one of its three principal 'strike' formations, the Mathura-based 1 Corps.  It will practice a 'pro-active' war strategy revolving around the objective of mobilizing fast under 'the cold start' doctrine and striking hard across the border to pulverize the enemy.  Around the same time - from April 10 to May 13 - Pakistan will conduct its 'Azm-e-Nau-III' (new resolve) exercise, described as its biggest wargames in two decades, to train for a conventional war with India.  The manoeuvres will be held near the border in the country's Punjab and Sindh provinces - close to Rajasthan's Thar desert.  Pakistan's exercise will be massive. "It's aimed at validating and refining newly evolved doctrines," the head of Pakistan army's military training directorate, Muzammil Hussain, said in Rawalpindi. Azm-e-Nau-III will mobilize 20,000 troops in the beginning, rising to 40,000 to 50,000 towards the end, he said.  The Indian Army, learning lessons from the slow mobilization during Operation Parakram - the 10-month forward troop mobilization after the December 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament - will practice launching self-contained and highly-mobile 'battle groups,' with Russian-origin T-90S tanks and upgraded T-72 M1 tanks at their core, within 96 hours.  "The exercise will be a two-sided, day-and-night affair, with rapid and deep offensives being undertaken by the battle groups to assault and capture 'enemy' territory. It will also validate our logistics infrastructure as well as new acquisitions," said a senior officer.  The wargames will also have a big IAF component in the drive to achieve greater synergy. Both the western and southwestern IAF commands have stepped up coordination with the different Army commands in the western theatre to synergize efforts to build "an integrated and organic" air-land war-fighting machinery.  Though the Indian armed forces may be now raising two new infantry divisions and an artillery brigade as well as deploying Sukhoi-30MKI fighters in the eastern sector to counter China, they are not diluting their traditional focus on the western front with Pakistan.  The forces, in fact, are reinforcing their offensive punch along the entire western front. For one, IAF will operationalize a forward airbase at Phalodi in Rajasthan on Tuesday. Jaguars will be the first fighters to land at the new airbase on Tuesday to mark its inauguration by IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik.  The Phalodi airbase, strategically located since it falls in the middle of the 'triangle' constituted by Jaisalmer, Nal (Bikaner) and Jodhpur airbases, aims to plug operational and air defence gaps in the western front.  "The 24x7 airbase, equipped to handle potent fighters like the Sukhoi-30MKIs and heavy-lift aircraft, will provide us with requisite flexibility," said a senior officer.  This comes even as the newish South-Western Army Command (SWAC) at Jaipur, established as the sixth operational command of the 1.13-million strong Army in 2005, is fully up and running now.  With the Mathura-based 1 'Strike' Corps and Bhatinda-based 10 'Pivot' Corps under it, SWAC is responsible for offensive operations on the western front in conjunction with the Chandimandir-based Western Army Command (WAC), which controls the Ambala-based 2 'Strike' Corps.  Northern and Southern (which has the Bhopal-based 21 'Strike' Corps) Army Commands, at Udhampur and Pune respectively, will of course play crucial roles in the event of a war but it will be SWAC and WAC which will assume the pivotal roles.

Ajai Shukla: Soldier, heal thyself
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi April 06, 2010, 0:30 IST  Figuring out the state of an army’s morale is easy. All it takes is a couple of drinks with two groups of people: the officers and the enlisted men. If the chatter is mainly about sports and professional competitions, ongoing training and about how much tougher and smarter they are than their rival units, morale is high. If talk centres on pay and allowances, promotions and postings and on the world outside the army, you can bet money that morale is low. Applying this yardstick to the Indian Army I believe the morale of officers is low, while that of the jawans is high.  In this gloomy assessment I have illustrious company. The new Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh, on assuming office on the 1st of April, has wisely identified the army’s “internal health” as his key focus. Pointing out that an internally vibrant army would easily swat aside external threats, the army chief has promised to revitalize traditions, core values and the army’s ethos.  Earlier chiefs, some as well-intentioned as General VK Singh, have embarked on similar paths. General K Sundarji, on taking over as chief in 1986, wrote to army officers individually, urging them to follow their professional convictions and promising to tolerate dissent. But that led nowhere as actions failed to follow words. Today, as the new chief implicitly accepts, the army has become a personality cult where officers either conform to the inclinations of the boss or get weeded out. Originality and eccentricity, those priceless attributes of a successful military leader, have been rendered extinct by a dull, humourless routine that is set by what the boss thinks his boss wants.  Keeping the officers in line is a terrible God called the Annual Confidential Report before which even the brightest and most capable officer must kneel or be scythed down. While annual reports are an evaluation tool in many professions, the army has accorded the ACR absolute control of an officer’s career. Considering that this primacy is born of the army’s laudable quest for an impartial, empirical evaluation system, it is ironic that the ACR has turned into a monster of subjectivity. If the boss is unhappy with an officer — for any reason whatsoever — a single lukewarm ACR can sink a brilliant career.  Dismantling this tyranny, and unlocking the potential of his officer corps, is the task ahead for General Singh. This is easier said than done. Blocking any radical change is the tribal ethos of the Indian Army. An officer belongs first to his regiment or battalion; only after that is he an Indian Army officer. An army chief’s first duty is towards the regiment and battalion that nurtured him; reforming the army conflicts with the role of regimental patriarch.  When General JJ Singh, an infantry officer from the Maratha Light Infantry, took over as chief, the honour guard that welcomed him to South Block was from the Marathas. So was his aide-de-camp and most of his personal staff. The tenure of his artillery successor, General Deepak Kapoor, saw the Corps of Artillery quickly muscling out the infantry as the flavour of the month. Upwardly mobile artillery officers were quickly posted into friendly environments, under “friendly” superiors, to ease their paths towards higher ranks.  These are only the most recent examples of the army’s longstanding patriarchal tradition that General VK Singh can now embrace or dismantle. A key step would be the creation of a clearly enunciated promotion policy, printed as a manual and sanctioned by the government, to ensure that each successive chief cannot tinker with the policy to suit his constituency. Today, 63 years after independence, the military has no promotion manual; policy exists only in a constantly revised torrent of letters from the Military Secretary’s branch.  The other major change that General VK Singh could implement is the reversing of promotion quotas to higher rank: the “Mandalisation” of the army as it is evocatively referred to. From the institution of the Prussian General Staff in the early 18th century, professional militaries have employed the criterion of merit alone to select their senior command. For over half a century, so did the Indian Army; but recently, in a burst of patrimonial fervour, quotas were instituted to ensure that each combat arm got its share of the senior ranks. Initiated by artillery and infantry chiefs to safeguard the interests of their officers, the quotas are now favouring less talented officers of other arms.  Few chiefs would voluntarily divest themselves of power but, paradoxically, the institution of the COAS would be greatly strengthened by transparency and the absence of discretion in promotions and postings. It would also free army chiefs from accusations of prejudice; a lever that Ministry of Defence officials — and in one well-known case, a defence minister — have successfully employed to demand favours for their own candidates.

Pak plans biggest ever wargame to counter Indian threat
Islamabad: The Pakistan Army will launch its biggest ever wargame next week to train for the threat of a conventional war with India, top military officials said on Monday.  "These exercises will be focused only on conventional war on (Pakistan's) eastern border," Maj Gen Muzammil Hussain, the Director General of Military Training, told a news briefing in Rawalpindi.  The exercise, codenamed Azm-e-Nau (New Resolve) 3, will involve close to 50,000 troops and aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force.  The wargame, to begin on April 10 and continue till May 13, will be the largest manoeuvres conducted by the army since the Zarb-e-Momin exercise in 1989.  The wargame will be conducted in Punjab and Sindh provinces, which border India, officials said.  The upcoming exercise is of a conventional nature and "aimed at ensuring peace in the region by encountering threats through a strategic approach", said chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas.  Related Stories Army war game in Rajasthan along Pak border this month He added that India had been informed about the manoeuvres.  The Pakistan Army has traditionally perceived India as its main threat though security experts, including those from the US, have said the force now needs to focus on tackling the Taliban and other militant groups active along the western border with Afghanistan.  Hussain said the army is aware of internal security issues but could not "be oblivious to what could happen on the eastern border" with India.  The six-week field exercise will involve troops from all arms and services and aircraft and equipment of the Pakistan Air Force, he said.  "The exercise is the culmination of a long and deliberate process of wargames, discussions and logical evolution of the concept of warfare that is fully responsive to a wide range of emerging threats," Hussain said.  The exercise is also aimed at validating and refining tactics and operations, he said.  It will validate concepts formulated during the year of training initiated by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, he added.  A special feature of the exercise will be the use of technological achievements and advancement in intelligence- gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance and communication.  These measures will reduce the reaction time of troops, Hussain said.
Indian Army to conduct desert exercise this month New Delhi, April 5  Barely a month after the Indian Air Force displayed its awesome combat capabilities, the Indian Army is gearing up for its month-long "Yudh Shakti" exercise in Rajasthan from mid-April involving 5,000 troops from the the mechanised forces, the armoured corps and the artillery.  The war games will be conducted by the Mathura-based 1 Corps, one of the army's key "strike" formations. The mobilisation of troops for the exercise has already begun.  "Around 5,000 troops are participating in the exercise, which will begin in mid-April. It is a month-long exercise and its key element will be the mechanised forces," army sources told IANS.  "The exercise is aimed at validating the acquisitions of modern equipment, enhancing night vision capabilities and achieving battlefield dominance," the sources added.  Apart from the mechanised forces, T-90 and T-72 main battle tanks and an array of artillery guns, as also infantry battalions, will feature in the exercise.  "The air force element could be involved in the last part of the exercise," said an official.  The exercise is in accordance with the Indian Army's "Cold Start" doctrine that involves rapid mobilisation in case hostilites seem imminent.  The Pakistan Army is also conducting a field exercise, Azm-e-Nau-3, on its side of the border April 10-May 13. The exercise involves troops belonging to all arms and services and will also be participated in by the Pakistan Air Force.

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