Army can’t do without ‘sahayaks’
by Col Pritam Bhullar (retd) THE Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence asked the Army the other day to abolish the “colonial” practice of employing jawans as “sahayaks” of officers as it felt that this system was “demeaning and humiliating”. In reply to the committee’s suggestion, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has said that a sahayak is “a comrade- in-arms” to an officer. The Army has reacted to this suggestion by issuing instructions to its units to ensure that combatant soldiers are not employed on jobs that are not in conformity with the dignity and self-respect of a soldier. Employing “sahayaks” is not a “colonial” practice as all armies in the world have combatant soldiers as batmen integral to the organisations of their units. Sahayak is a Hindi version of batman. The MOD has rightly said that a sahayak (batman) is a comrade-in-arms to an officer. His duties are to ensure that an officer’s dresses are kept ready and laid out for all appropriate occasions, for instance, P.T. dress, uniform, mess dress, etc. In war, he carries the radio set of the officer/JCO he is employed with apart from being with him in the thick and thin of war. In other worlds, he is a buddy of the officer/JCO he is working with. This relationship is life-long and does not end with the retirement of the officer and his sahayak. During his visit to India in February 1968, Lieut-Gen Sir Reginald Savory recorded about his relationship with his old batman thus: “I joined the 14th Sikh 54 years ago in 1914 when I was just 20 years old. Only this morning (February 8) Lance Naik Bhola Singh of the 14th Sikh, who had been wounded in Gallipoli in 1915, took the trouble to come all the way from his home to call upon me; and after 52 years we saw each other again. Now he is ‘chitti dahri walla’ and I am old and bald; but although we both have grown so much older, yet our affection for each other and our mutual pride in our Regiment stays as young as ever. Long may this continue.” While asking the Army to shed the batman system, the Parliamentary Committee seems to have totally forgotten that the Army is meant to fight a war; therefore, all its establishments are designed to cater to war-like situations. Most of the time the units are in field areas where they cannot employ civilian manpower for security reasons. There is no doubt that some officers employ sahayaks on jobs which are below the dignity of a soldier. Rather than discarding the sahayak system for this reason, such officers should be taken to task to stop this unethical practice. There is no system or rule that is not being misused or abused in this country today. If we start discarding/abolishing systems or rules for this reason, then no system will remain intact. Incidentally, the sahayak system is not only prevalent in the Army but is also in vogue in the paramilitary and police forces. In most police forces its misuse is well-known to the public. A lot of manpower of the police is used even by retired officers in the name of security. In the days of yore, one could not even think of using a batman on a duty, which was below the dignity of a soldier, leave alone doing so. But then what one should not forget is that in those days, the officers, by and large, came from a different background. Why talk of this, see the number of corruption cases among the senior officers today. We never heard of a senior officer being involved in a disciplinary case in the olden days. But today when all other organisations in the country have deteriorated in standards, how could the Army having the same countrymen remain unaffected? There should be no question of abolishing the sahayak system as it is integral to the Army and its necessity remains beyond any doubt. The senior officers, however, must ensure that neither do they misuse sahayaks nor they allow their subordinates to do so. What all officers need to remember is that besides professional competence, the only other secret to command men with dignity and respect is to hold them in high esteem.
IAF chief heads Chief of Staffs Committee
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service New Delhi, March 30 Chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshall PV Naik today took over as Chairman, Chief of Staffs Committee (COSC) of the Indian armed forces. He took over from General Deepak Kapoor, who retires tomorrow ending his six-month tenure as COSC. Air Chief Marshall Naik will be the 11th COSC of the forces in less than 10 years since the system was started in October 2000. Lack continuity of the system was evident today when Naik made it clear while answering questions from the media “ ….it will take me a month to understand. Give me some time”. He will be in saddle till his retirement in July next. The COSC is appointed as per seniority among the three serving chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the IAF. Senior officers have often questioned the logic of posting officers for such short tenures as they would not be able to make any worthwhile impact on national policy making. The most striking case was of Gen NC Vig who was COSC only for a month in January 2005. Air Vice Marshall S. Krishnaswami had a tenure of five months starting August 2004 while General JJ Singh was the COSC for only six months starting April 2007. Not all service chiefs go on to become COSC. The last IAF chief Air Chief Marshall Fali Homi Major never got a chance and the new Army Chief General VK Singh is also not slated to be the COSC. In contrast, senior officials among the civil services like the Cabinet secretary, Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary have a fixed tenure of two years. In the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil conflict, the government took the step to appoint a COSC. Actually the Kargil Review Committee and the subsequent Group of Ministers report in 2001 on reforming the national security system had stressed the need for a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) - who will be senior to the chiefs -- to provide single-point military advice to the government and manage the country's nuclear arsenal. Naik today pointed out that there were several models of the CDS operating in different countries and said, "we don't know which model suits us the best. Once we decide that, I am sure the CDS will come in." Another former COSC, Admiral Sureesh Mehta had recommended during his tenure that all service chiefs should be brought into the nuclear command authority. At present, only the COSC is in the authority and with such short tenures, he barely gets time to understand the structure. The outgoing COSC General Deepak Kapoor today said “It was for the government to take a decision (on including all chiefs)”.
US has excellent military relationship with India: Pantagon
March 31, 2010 02:48 IST Tags: India, Commander US Pacific Command, Robert F Willard, Geoff Morrell, AOR Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment The United States has an excellent military to military relationship with India [ Images ], the Pentagon [ Images ] said on Tuesday. "We have very strong military-to-military relations with the Indian government, with the Indian military; have had them for some time," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said at a news briefing. Morrell said Defence Secretary Robert Gates recently visited India when he reaffirmed the Obama [ Images ] administration's commitment to have strong working relationship with the Indian military. "The secretary just visited India recently and reaffirmed our strong working relationship with Indian military, exploring new ways in which we can partner and exercise and do disaster-relief work, and sell weapons and other military hardware to the Indians," Morrell said. At a Congressional hearing recently, Admiral Robert F Willard, Commander US Pacific Command had argued that the US must continue to strengthen its relationship with India. "We must ensure the US-India relationship remains rooted in our extensive common interests of which the Afghanistan-Pakistan issue is only one," he said. "I think that the India-US relationship right now is stronger than I've ever enjoyed. As you know, because of our history, we've only been truly engaging with India mil-to-mil for about the last half a dozen years; and yet it's been pretty profound how far that's come," Willard said in response to a question at the Congressional hearing. He said America's relationship with India has grown significantly over the past five years as both countries work to overcome apprehensions formed during Cold War era, particularly with respect to defence cooperation. Noting that resolution of the long-standing End User Monitoring issue removed a major obstacle to a more robust and sophisticated defense sales programme, Willard said that to date India has purchased Lockheed Martin C-130Js and Boeing P-8I aircraft; expressed their interest to acquire C-17s; and conducted flight tests of F-16s and F/A-18s (under consideration in the medium multi-mission role combat aircraft competition). The recent increase in defense sales, which exceeded $ 2 billion in 2009, not only enhances US access to one of the largest defense markets in the world, but more importantly enables greater cooperation between our armed forces, he said. "As our relationship develops, US Pacific Command remains mindful of the significance of India-Pakistan tensions, particularly as they relate to the broader security discussion and the management of geo-political challenges that span Combatant Commands (Pakistan resides within Central Commands AOR and India resides in the Pacific AOR)." "We are keenly aware of the importance of a peaceful co-existence between these two nuclear-armed nations and stand ready to assist with this goal in conjunction with interagency partners," he said.
India's Light Combat copter makes first flight
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi March 31, 2010, 0:55 IST As the helicopter taxied slowly along the airstrip, a little knot of designers and executives from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) watched silently, the sweat beads on their foreheads from more than just the Bangalore heat. March 29 had been selected for a landmark attempt: The first flight of the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Already a year late, and facing criticism for having gone several hundred kilograms overweight, the LCH had much to prove. Attack helicopters involve the most complex aeronautical, stealth, sensor and weapons technologies. HAL’s state-of-the-art LCH aims to gatecrash an exclusive club of light attack helicopters that includes Eurocopter’s Tiger and China’s ultra-secret Zhisheng-10 (Z-10). In high-altitude performance, the LCH will be in a class by itself: Taking off from Himalayan altitudes of 10,000 feet, operating rockets and guns up to 16,300 feet, and launching missiles at UAVs flying at over 21,000 feet. At 3.30 pm, the twin Shakti engines roared to a crescendo and the LCH pilots, Group Captains Unni Pillai and Hari Nair, lifted off the ground. The futuristic helicopter, all angles and armoured sheets, flew for a distance just a few feet above the runway; then cheering and clapping broke out as it climbed to 50 feet. Over the next 15 minutes, Pillai and Nair put the LCH through its first flight test, doing a clockwise and then an anti-clockwise turn, hovering motionless and circling the airport four times. “It is a big day for all of us, especially those involved in the LCH’s design and fabrication,” Ashok Nayak, chairman and managing director of HAL, told Business Standard. “We were going to have the first LCH flight in December but, for one reason or another, it kept getting delayed.” A feared predator in the modern battlefield, the attack helicopter is a key weapon system against enemy tanks. Once an enemy tank column is detected, attack helicopters speed to confront them, flying just 20-30 feet high to avoid radar detection with enemy rifle and machine-gun bullets ricocheting off their armoured sides. Hiding behind trees or a ridgeline, they pop up when the tanks are about 4 kilometres away to fire missiles that smash through a tank’s armour. Excess weight has been the main reason for the delay in the LCH programme. The heavy armour needed for protection against enemy fire conflicts with the need for a light, highly mobile helicopter that can twist and dodge and hover stationary to allow pilots to aim and fire their missiles. The LCH was supposed to weight just 2.5 tonnes when empty; but the design team found that it actually weighed 580 kg more than that. At lower altitudes, this would not be a significant drawback. But, at the LCH’s flight ceiling of 6,000 metres (almost 20,000 feet), this would significantly reduce the LCH’s payload of weapons and ammunition. Last September, the chief of HAL’s Helicopter Complex, R Srinivasan, told Business Standard that the LCH’s weight would be progressively reduced over the first three Technology Demonstrators (TDs) of the LCH. “We will find ways of cutting down TD-1 by 180-200 kg; TD-2, will be another 100 kg lighter; and TD-3 will shave off another 65-75 kg. That would leave the LCH about 200 kg heavier than originally planned, but the IAF has accepted that.” HAL chief Ashok Nayak today confirmed to Business Standard that this schedule was on track. “The weight reduction that we had targeted for TD-1, which flew on Monday, has been met. The second prototype, TD-1, which will make its first flight by September, will be lighter still.” The Indian Air Force (IAF) has said that it needs 65 LCHs; the army wants another 114. If the development programme is not delayed further, the LCH will enter service by 2015-2016. To meet its needs till then, the Ministry of Defence floated a global tender for 22 attack helicopters. With only three companies responding, that tender was cancelled last year. But HAL remains confident since most of the key technologies in the LCH — e.g., the Shakti engine, the rotors and the main gearbox — have already been proven in the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter, 159 of which are being built for the army and the air force. Simultaneously, the LCH’s weapons and sensors are being tested on a weaponised version of the Dhruv. These include a Nexter 20 mm turret-mounted cannon, an MBDA air-to-air missile, and an EW suite from SAAB, South Africa. India’s Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) is developing an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) for the LCH. Based on the already developed Nag ATGM, the HELINA (or HELIicopter-mounted NAg) missile can destroy tanks from a distance of seven kilometres.
Modernisation is main challenge for new army chief
2010-03-30 18:00:00 Lieutenant General V.K. Singh, who assumes office Wednesday as the new Indian Army chief, has many strategic and operational challenges ahead, including the long-delayed artillery modernisation programme that has significantly handicapped the forces' firepower capabilities. With the ghost of the Bofors payoff scandal of the 1980s still looming over weapon purchases, the army is now left with just about half of the 410 Bofors guns it had purchased in 1986, with normal wear and tear and cannibalisation accounting for the remaining howitzers. After a decade-and-a-half, a $647 million deal is imminent for 145 M777 155mm ultralight-weight howitzers with Laser Inertial Artillery Pointing Systems (LINAPS) manufactured by BAE Systems but a decision has still to be taken on some 300 towed and self-propelled guns of the same calibre. And therein lies the rub. The defence ministry has given the go-ahead for field trials of the towed guns but with a caveat: Singapore Technologies Kinetics, the sole contender, has first to be cleared by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) of corruption charges. The company, however, stoutly denies it is charged with corruption and says it is more than willing to open its books to the CBI or anyone else to prove this. Then, the Indian Army has to take a call on just how many of the indigenous Arjun main battle tanks (MBTs) it wishes to purchase. As of now the army has ordered 124 and various officers have been quoted as saying it would stop at that. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that developed the Arjun has protested and wants the army to buy more to make its decades-old labours worthwhile. This apart, the army has to achieve closure on ongoing projects like arming the homegrown Dhruv advanced light helicopters, replacing its Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, purchasing intermediate-range helicopters and short- and medium-range air defense systems, as also improving the ability of soldiers to fight at night with night-vision sights and thermal imaging systems for tanks. Thus, Singh has his hands more than full. A third generation army officer, Singh was commissioned into the Rajput Regiment on June 14, 1970 and during his career spanning nearly 40 years has served in a variety of command, staff and instructional appointments. He participated in the 1971 war with Pakistan and in the operations of the Indian Peace-Keeping Force in Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s. An honours graduate of the US Army Infantry School at Georgia in the US, Singh is an alumnus the Wellington-based Defence Services Staff College, the Mhow-based Army War College and the US Army War College, Carlisle. He is a recipient of the Param Vishist Seva Medal, the Ati Vishist Seva Medal and Yudh Seva Medal. He is also one of the honorary ADCs of the president of India, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces. 'Apart from being an outstanding soldier and a stern disciplinarian, what singles him out is his mania for fitness. He has a penchant for workouts and is regularly seen in the gym,' an officer who has observed Singh, 59, closely during his just-concluded stint as head of the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command, said. 'He still takes part in a lot of outdoor games and used to regularly turn out for army-level football tournaments as the Eastern Command chief,' the officer added. However, there will be much more than fitness on Singh's mind as he takes over from General Deepak Kapoor Wednesday afternoon to begin his two-year stint as army chief in the rank of a four-star general.
Indian Air Force to Deploy New Cruise Missile
2010-03-30 12:07:11 Xinhua Web Editor: Qin Mei The Indian Air Force (IAF) will deploy the new BrahMos air-to-ground supersonic cruise missile in the coming years, local media reported on Tuesday. The Indian government has signed an acquisition contract with the cruise missile maker BrahMos Aerospace last week, and the air- to-ground cruise missile will be formally inducted into the IAF in the next few years, the Indian Express quoted a top defense source as saying. The most advanced fighter Su-30 of the IAF will have the long- distance land precise striking capacity as one squadron of the fighters will be equipped with the BrahMos missiles with a range of nearly 290 kilometers, said the source. In the BrahMos family, there are three members of land-based, ship-based and air-based missiles. Ship-launched version is in service with the Indian Navy, and land-launched version was inducted into the Army in June 2007, while air-launched BrahMos is being developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture by India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and a Russian company. An IAF official said they have several types of advanced air-to- air missiles and the Prithvi air-to-land attack missile, but lacking the sophisticated long-range land cruise missiles. This is the first time for the IAF to deploy the BrahMos cruise missile. The air-based version of BrahMos has a launching weight of 2.5 tons, including a 300 kg warhead, which could gain a speed of Mach 2.8 and attack the ground target as low as 10 meters in altitude to avoid the detection of the hostile radars, resulting in a surprise attack. However, hanging a cruise missile beside the fuselage will affect Su-30's maneuverability in air-to-air combat, escaping the hostile anti-aircraft missiles attack. In the next few years, all the three services will have their own versions of the BrahMos cruise missiles, which will become the important long-distance striking means of the Indian Armed Forces, according to the defense source.
Military aid to Pak a concern, India tells US
Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik on Tuesday flagged concerns over surging American arms sales to Pakistan. Shortly after taking over as Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, from outgoing army chief General Deepak Kapoor, Naik said, “The aid being given to Pakistan is definitely a matter of concern for us and we have made it known.” From fighter jets, howitzers, smart bombs to missiles, the flood of sophisticated military hardware pouring into Pakistan has sparked worries that Islamabad is shoring up conventional capabilities against India in the guise of fighting terrorism. Troubled by Pentagon’s stepped up military aid, Defence Minister A K Antony had earlier asked Washington to ensure that Pakistan was using military aid only to fight Al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists. Antony’s comments in early March followed Pentagon’s decision to transfer 18 F-16 fighter planes, a dozen US-made surveillance drones and laser-guided bomb kits capable of converting traditional munitions into smart bombs. The US has almost doubled its counterinsurgency assistance fund to Pakistan to $1.2 billion for 2011. Asked if Pentagon’s sales could derail the chances of US firms competing for the air force’s $10.2 billion (Rs 45,900 crore) tender for 126 fighter planes, he said, “The fighter deal will be a fair and square assessment. We’ll wrap up the trials by April-end. There’s no connection between the two...” Naik reignited the debate to appoint a chief of defence staff (CDS) a single-point military advisor to the government. “I believe there should be a CDS. As to what model we should adopt needs to be studied.”