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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

From Today's Papers - 03 Aug 2010

  Fighting a ‘limited war’ It is a flawed concept
by Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (retd)  IT is not clear as to when the idea or the concept of a “limited war” was first evolved and articulated. Maybe it was the fallout from the procrastination, dithering and timidity in our response and an alibi for the missed opportunity of a suitable riposte to a major mischief by Pakistan at Kargil. Such response would have put an end to the slow-bleeding of India by Pakistan. Or was it the result of the fiasco of “Operation Parakaram” (mobilisation of Indian defence forces consequent to the attack on Indian Parliament) where we thought we could go in for a limited war and then backtracked on conjuring up the prospects of a larger conflagration?  It takes a minimum of two contestants to make war. Therefore, both must subscribe to the idea of a limited war. It cannot work when one of the contestants does and the other does not fall for it. Then there is the issue of both scale and duration of the conflict. Here again there is the problem of the two adopting the same concept and course of action. There is also the hazardous undertaking of forecasting and then chartering the future course of a war and preparing for just that one contingency.  It is easy to start a war but difficult to conclude it on own terms. The German army, after nearly two decades of study, planning and preparation and detailed knowledge of every inch of the ground over which operations were to be conducted, prepared the Schlieffen Plan and catered for no other contingency. With over 350 army divisions, it undertook to over-run France in 40 days during World War I. The war lasted four years with disastrous consequences for Germany. The American war in Afghanistan is a case in point.  The second issue relates to a conflict between two nuclear-armed contestants. The parameters and compulsions for either side to transcend from a conventional war to a nuclear war are not that simple or easy to overcome. A whole range of considerations and possible consequences come into play, especially if the opponent has the wherewithal, the will and the capacity to completely devastate and lay waste the whole country. Consequently, in such a setting, the conflict will remain within the bounds of conventional warfare. Then there is the inevitable issue of reaching a stage (also sometimes called “threshold”) where the very survival, nay the existence, of the nation comes into play when a fatal decision to go in for the nuclear option can be considered. Sooner than later, world pressure is likely to prevail in ending the conflict.  Coming to the specifics of the Indo-Pak setting, neither side is willing to concede territory. This has led to extensive obstacles being created by both sides close to the border and these are effectively held. Consequently, major battles will be conducted within a few kilometres on either side of the border. Such was the case in 1965 and 1971 on the western sector. That has been and will remain the dominant reality of a conflict between these two neighbours. It is here along the plains of J and K and Punjab where the centre of gravity of the two countries lie, more so of Pakistan, and it is here that decisive battles, if and when they occur, will be fought.  The second and more important issue relates to meshing together the military and political aims of a war. These two cannot work in isolation or exclusion of one from the other. Clausewitz records that “war is continuation of policy”, but there has to be a “policy” to carry forward to war. Sometimes there can be a conflict or variance between the policy and the war aim. In such situations, it is the bounden duty of the military commander to lay bare before those who formulate national policy the full implications of pursuing a war which is at variance with military aim.  If in the opinion of the military commander, he is compelled to adopt a course other than what is in the national interest and the interest of his army, he should quietly make way for someone else. Had the then Army Chief in 1962 told some home-truths about the state of his Army and military infrastructure and offered to quit, the political leadership would have seen the reality and India could have been spared that humiliation and the Army the ignominy of a rout.  There are indeed innumerable instances where military commanders were able to carry their point and they proved eminently correct. The Russian army was required to defend Moscow against Napoleon’s advance. The Czar and his entourage insisted that the city must be defended. But, purely from the strategic military angle, Marshal Kutozov thought otherwise. Withstanding enormous pressure from the Czar and others, Kutozov did not defend Moscow and in the process saved Russia, its army and eventually brought about complete destruction of Napoleon’s army. During the invasion of Europe in World War II (Operation Overlord), as a political decision, the governments of the United States and Britain decided to keep “Strategic Air Command” outside the command of Eisenhower; the Supreme Commander of Operation Overlord. Eisenhower told them that in which case he would have to find someone else for command purposes.  As at Kargil, Pakistan had a distinct tactical advantage in its offensive at Chamb during 1965. Consequently, the Army Chief impressed upon the then Prime Minister the imperatives of wresting the initiative and opening another front against Pakistan across the international border and obtained his clearance for the same, though politically no one wanted a full-scale war. This was at a time when Pakistan enjoyed marked superiority in armour (qualitatively and quantitatively), and our edge in infantry and artillery was only marginal. In a span of just two weeks India was able to bring about the destruction of Pakistan’s armour and much else.  In 197,1 the political compulsions and the policy demand was to march into East Pakistan in May-June to relieve the unbearable pressure of influx of millions of refugees. The strategic military compulsions were quite different. The Army Chief had become the subject of a malicious whispering campaign. When the then Prime Minister told him that she was under great pressure from her Cabinet to march the Army into East Pakistan, Manekshaw told her that he could resign if that would help her. She had to then orchestrate diplomatic moves to gain international support, etc.  Weigh this against the meeting on May 18, 1999, where the Service Chiefs meekly accepted the orders from the PS to the Prime Minister (not the Prime Minister) without a whimper, detailing the defence forces not to use air power and permitting “hot-pursuit” of the enemy, only in the area of the ingress! Thus driving troops into suicidal frontal attacks up those impossible heights and slopes over a terrain where fire support was so much less effective.  It was left to a Pakistani brigadier to spell out through a newspaper article the course the Indian Army should have adopted rather than bash its head against the Kargil heights and suffer avoidable heavy casualties, thus discrediting generalship. In times of war the top military leader bears an enormous responsibility both to the nation and his army. He must fearlessly and forcefully advice the government on strategic military compulsions, and where he fails to carry his point he must act according to his own light and conscience.

Women to get permanent commission in Army: Govt
 New Delhi, August 2 Serving women army officers won their first round of legal battle with the government today assuring the Supreme Court that it would consider giving them permanent commission in legal and educational branches.  However, the officers demanding permanent commission in combat, infantry and other wings of the Army will have to wait for a longer period to get this recognition.  Seven years after the protracted legal battle, the government, which was at the receiving end in the apex court, gave an undertaking that women serving officers of Short Service Commission will be considered for permanent commission in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) and educational branches of the Army.  The undertaking in this regard, which stated that the exercise would be completed within two months, was submitted by Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium before a Bench comprising Justices JM Panchal and Gyan Sudha Mishra.  The Bench recorded the undertaking that said, “The Solicitor General on instruction states that women short service commission officers in service shall be considered for permanent commission in the JAG and educational branch of the Army.” The court also recorded the undertaking that the case of Major Lina Gurung, a short service commission officer, who is retiring in August, will be considered on priority, subject to requirement.  After the SG gave the undertaking, the Bench stayed contempt proceedings against the Army till further orders for not complying with the Delhi High Court directions to grant permanent commission to women serving in the armed forces.  “In view of the statements made at Bar by the Solicitor General, the contempt proceeding is stayed till further order,” the Bench said.  In all, there are 2,200 women officers including 1,200 in the Army, 750 in the Air Force and 250 in the Navy, according to Defence Ministry figures.  The Bench asked the government to file an additional affidavit, elaborating the nature of duties assigned to the officers getting permanent commission.  The court said after receiving the details from the Army, it would further examine the issue of permanent commission to women Army officers.  Earlier, as soon as the proceedings began, the Bench said, “If you can’t give permanent commission, why at all give the short service commission to the women in the Army.” The Bench said, “Why do you give short service commission at all, if you don’t find them eligible for permanent commission. Why then in the Air Force, the permanent commission is given?” Subramanium replied that permanent commission was given in the Air Force as the women officers were not asked to be in a combat position.  The Bench wanted to know if no women officer had ever been sent to the battlefield so far. — PTI

Forces short of 14,000 officers, says Antony
 Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 2 It was almost like a customary proceeding in Parliament, as the question on the shortage of officers in the armed forces popped up yet again.  Defence Minister AK Antony, in reply to a query in Lok Sabha today, said: “There is a shortage of about 11,500 officers in the Army, 1,507 in the Navy and 1,237 in the Air Force (a shortage of 14,244 officers in all).”  The figures, however, have witnessed a slight change for the better, as Antony, in reply to a similar query during Parliament session in March, showed a shortage of 14,448 officers — 11,500 in the Army, 1,606 in the Navy and 1,342 in the IAF.  The figures indicate that the armed forces are still not considered a viable career option despite the handsome salaries offered by the Sixth Pay Commission. On its own, the Army, which is the worst affected, has worked out a plan to increase the intake at the military academies. The National Defence Academy, Pune, has increased the intake and taken it to 2,000 cadets spread across various batches at any given time, up from 1,800 earlier.  As cadets from the NDA branch out to respective academies of the Army at Dehradun, the Naval Academy and the IAF academy at Hyderabad, the intake will automatically go up.  An internal study of the Army done last year had suggested that low intake at military academies and a high rate of premature retirements meant it would take 20 years of efforts to fill up the vacancies. For this, the training capacities in the academies need to be increased and the exit rate of officers wanting to retire prematurely has to be kept low. For the second part, the Army now offers reemployment to Brigadier-level to retain people on staff jobs.  The matter of officer shortage has been discussed at the Army Commanders conference as well. The 1.2-million strong Army has a sanctioned strength of over 46,000 officers. The current annual average number of officers commissioned in the Army from its academies stood at 1,700, around 300 less than the required average number of nearly 2,000 recruits.  Meanwhile, Antony, in his reply in the Lok Sabha, said the Coast Guard was short of 679 officers and over 2,500 personnel below officer rank. The shortage of officers in the armed forces was “partly attributable to accretions from time to time, tough selection procedures, difficult service conditions coupled with perceived high degree of risk involved in recruitment and training,” the Defence Minister said.  An increase in promotional avenues has been carried out, said Antony.

By Dec 2011, listening posts to make borders securer
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 2 In a two-pronged attempt to further secure the country, India will set up listening posts along its borders to intercept enemy communication and install low-level radars to detect movement.  Announcing the project here today, a spokesperson of the premier research establishment Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said that the border communication intelligence gathering system would be ready and inducted to cover all border areas by December 2011. Developed by Hyderabad-based Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL), the project envisaged fitting up of 10 static and 25 mobile stations for intercepting enemy communication.  DLRL Director G Boopathy said that the system would help the armed forces and the paramilitary in intercepting communication of terror groups across the border.  The DRDO is also working on several electronics and computer science (ECS) related projects for the armed forces and the paramilitary, like communication jammers and integrating them on platforms. Other important developments are low-level light radars (LLLRs) for mountainous areas. Two versions of the radar -- ‘Bharani’ for Army and ‘Aslesha’ for the air force -- were recently successfully tested. The Western Air Command (WAC) plans to put in place several kinds of radars along the 667-km LAC with China to boost the air defence capability of IAF; one of these being mountain-top radars. These will detect movement like the one made by a Chinese chopper in Ladakh last year. India did not have an “electronic eye” to pick it up.  The Electronics and Radar Development Establishment's (LRDE) is working on an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for use in future Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) ‘Tejas’ for both IAF and Navy apart from a Maritime Patrol Airborne Radar (MPAR) that could track even sea-skimming missiles.  Also in the pipeline is a laser-based ordnance disposal system (LORDS) that can destroy rockets, bombs and explosives that have completed their shelf-life without having to go close to them. The process of integrating the LORDS on armoured vehicles is on.  Low intensity conflict systems of the future include handheld dazzlers that immobilise human targets for some minutes providing forces the much-needed advantage apart from crowd control dazzlers mounted on vehicles and air defence dazzlers that work against enemy crafts or choppers.

DRDO's border intelligence system may inducted by 2011-end
Press Trust of India / New Delhi August 2, 2010, 18:30 IST  A border communication intelligence gathering system that would be of help to the armed forces and paramilitary in intercepting communication of terror groups across the border is likely to be inducted into the services by the end of next year.  Developed by Hyderabad-based Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL), the project envisages fitting up of 10 static and 25 mobile stations for intercepting enemy communication in the border areas.  This project is part of several electronics and computer science (ECS) related projects for the armed forces and the paramilitary being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). A laser-based ordnance disposal system is among the new projects.  Details of the new projects were given by Dr Sreehari Rao, DRDO's Chief Controller of R&D for ECS Cluster of seven labs and his colleagues at a news conference here today.  DLRL Director G Boopati, in his presentation, said the communication intelligence system would be of help to both the armed forces and the paramilitary in intercepting communication of terror groups across the border.  Boopati said his lab was also working on other electronic warfare requirements of the security forces such as communication and electronic intelligence systems including jammers and integrating them on platforms.  Regarding the laser-based ordnance disposal system (LORDS), Laser System and Technology Centre (LASTEC) Director Anil Kumar Maini said the system provided the scope for destroying rockets, bombs and explosive that have completed their shelf-life without having to get closer.  The lab, he said, was in the process of integrating the LORDS on armoured vehicles so that the unwanted ordnance could be disposed of without getting any closer to it.  He said LASTEC was also working on other laser-based systems such as direct energy warfare application, low intensity conflict (LIC) applications, battlefield optoelectronic systems and advanced science and technology for future systems.  Among the LIC systems were hand held dazzlers that immobilise human targets for a few minutes, providing the much needed advantage to the security forces, apart from crowd control dazzlers mounted on vehicles and air defence dazzlers that work against enemy aircraft or helicopters.  Electronics and Radar Development Establishment's (LRDE) R Kuller said his lab was currently working on low level light radars (LLLRs) that could be deployed in mountainous areas.  He said the lab had recently tested a set of LLLRs in mountain terrains successfully. Among the LLLRs were the 'Bharani' radars for Army and 'Aslesha' radars for IAF.  Kuller said LRDE was also working on an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for use in future Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) 'Tejas' for both IAF and Navy, apart from a Maritime Patrol Airborne Radar (MPAR) that could track even sea-skimming missiles.  Kuller said the AESA would be ready by 2013 when its integration with LCA would be considered.  To assist the armed forces and the paramilitary in low-intensity conflict situation such as the anti-Naxal operations, the LRDE is developing ground penetrating radars for mine detection, wall penetrating and foliage penetrating radars.

Indian Army T-72 tanks now have night vision
By Frontier India | August 3rd, 2010 | Category: General Indian Armed Forces News | No Comments »  The Indian Defence Minister yestrday stated in the parliament that the T-72 tank fleet is being optimally used and is the mainstay of the present tank fleet. The entire fleet of this tank is fully battle worthy with high mission and operational reliability. A part of the T-72 fleet is already equipped with high end technology night vision device which has been fully integrated and exploited. Further, the process of upgrading the night fighting capabilities with the state-of-the-art thermal imaging is an ongoing process.  On kaveri engine development he said that GTRE has successfully completed one major milestone i.e. altitude testing, simulating Kaveri engine performance at different altitude and Mach No.One of Kaveri prototype (K9) is being integrated with IL-76 aircraft at Gromov Flight Research Institute (GFRI), Russia for ground and flight tests, of Flying Test Bed (FTB) trials, this will be the second major milestone to be achieved. These two milestones would make ‘Kaveri engine flightworthy.

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