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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 26 Jul 2011






Kargil War: Need to learn strategic lessons

eneral (Retd) V P Malik  Victorious Indian soldiers pose atop the formidable Tiger Hill during the Kargil War. Victorious Indian soldiers pose atop the formidable Tiger Hill during the Kargil War.  On the 12th Anniversary of the Kargil war, it would be appropriate to reflect on the key strategic lessons of the war and the geo-political changes that have come about in the Kargil-Siachen-Ladakh Sector since then.  Historically, Kargil war was the second limited conventional war between two nuclear weapons armed nations over territorial dispute, the first being the Sino-Soviet border conflict on the Ussuri River in 1969. In the Kargil war, the Pakistan Army tried to make use of the nuclear threshold to grab Indian territory in the garb of militants. The experience shows that as long as there are territory-related disputes, despite nuclear weapons deterrence rationality, the adversaries can indulge in limited border wars. In fact such wars have now become a more likely norm in the strategic environment where large scale capture of territories, forced regime change and extensive military damage on the adversary are ruled out. India’s defence planners have to bear this in mind as two of its largest neighbours, China and Pakistan, possess nuclear weapons and have longstanding territorial disputes with India.  In the Kargil war, Pakistan attempted to make use of its proxy war with India to escalate it to a regular conventional war. That was a repeat of Pakistani war initiatives in J&K in 1947 and 1965. India’s intelligence agencies and armed forces must cater for such a contingency, particularly while defending J&K territory.  A major military challenge in India is the political reluctance to a pro-active grand strategy or engagement. This disadvantage is enhanced because no loss of territory is acceptable. This is a strategic handicap and a risk in any war setting, which increases in a limited war scenario. It implies greater attention to surveillance, committing large force levels along the borders/ LoC and thus depletion of combat reserves.  A pro-active grand strategy and capability to wage a successful conventional and nuclear war is a necessary deterrent. A war may remain limited because of credible deterrence or Escalation Dominance, when one side has overwhelming military superiority at every level. The other side will then be deterred from waging a war. (Over the years, we have managed to erode such a deterrence capability.) That also gives more room for manoeuvre in diplomacy and in conflict.  Changing environment  The new strategic environment calls for speedier, more versatile and flexible combat organisations in mountainous as well as non- mountainous terrain. The successful outcome of a border war depends upon the capacity to react rapidly to an evolving crisis.  The new strategic environment in wars requires close political oversight and politico-civil-military interaction. It is essential to keep the military leadership within the security and strategic decision- making loop.  Information operations are important due to the growing transparency of the battlefield. The political requirement of a military operation and to retain the moral high ground, (and deny that to the adversary) needs a comprehensive media and information campaign.  When Kargil war broke out, our holdings and reserves of weapons, ammunition and equipment were in a depleted state due to continuous lack of budgetary support, tedious procurement system, and raising of units without sanctions for weapons and equipment. To the media, I had to say “We will fight with whatever we have”. The war highlighted gross inadequacies in the nation’s surveillance capability. To some extent, this has now been made up with indigenous satellites, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, thermal imagers, surveillance radars and ground sensors. That apart, the modernization of armed forces continues to lag behind due to the absence of holistic and long-term defence planning, complex acquisition procedures, fear of scams and inadequate self reliance. Despite a large net work of Defense Research and Development Organisation laboratories, Ordnance factories and defense public sector undertakings, we continue to import over 70 per cent of our weapons and equipment. So far, the Defense Procurement Organisation has failed to speed up the process. What we require is an integrated acquisition structure with relevant expertise under one roof and under one controlling authority to oversee the entire process of acquisition, right from the planning process to the final disposal of the weapon/platform.  Optimise defence planning  There is no point talking about revolution in military affairs, information systems and net centric warfare if we cannot even induct relevant weapons and equipment in time.  The armed forces have followed up on most of these lessons. For example, action has been taken to improve all weather surveillance and closer defence of border and lines of control. Individual service and joint services doctrines have been revised. Some Special Forces units have been added to the strength of each service. At the politico-military strategic level, however, there has been little progress. After the war, the government had carried out a National Security Review in 2001-02. Many reforms were recommended to improve the higher defense control organisation, its systems and processes. Changes made so far have only been cosmetic. The willingness and spirit to change has been lacking.  The National Security Review had recommended the appointment of a CDS to provide single point military advice to the government and to resolve substantive inter-service doctrinal, planning, policy and operational issues. This is necessary because in India, turf wars, inter service rivalries, bureaucratic delays and political vacillation in decision making become major hurdles in defence planning and its implementation. In the new strategic environment of unpredictability and enhanced interactivity, it is essential to create synergy and optimise defence and operational planning. A face to face dialogue and military advice is critical to success in politico-military-strategic and operational issues. The creation of the post of CDS is still pending and interaction between the political authority and service chiefs continues to suffer due to inter service rivalries and the dominant position retained by the civil bureaucracy. In this context, the recent appointment of a committee under Mr. Naresh Chandra to review defense reforms in India is a welcome step.  Sino-Pak nexus  Twelve years after the Kargil war, the security situation in Kargil-Siachen-Ladakh has deteriorated further due to the Sino Pakistan nexus and deployment of PLA troops in the Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.  Two years ago, a Ministry of Defence report had stated that ‘the possibility of China and Pakistan joining forces in India’s farthest frontiers, illegally occupied by the two neighbors, would have direct military implications for India’. That possibility has become a reality now in the light of several credible reports of the presence of Chinese troops in the Gilgit-Baltistan area. The Chinese military presence in the area, purportedly to repair, upgrade and re-commission the Karakoram Highway and to improve infrastructure, became visible last year. This has a direct bearing on our defenses in the Kargil-Siachen-Ladakh sector. The Chinese would not be pointing guns towards our posts but the fact that they are co-located and working alongside Pakistani troops reflects joint strategic interest and enhancement of operational preparedness.  It should be noted that the Chinese have been willing to negotiate and settle the boundary issue of J&K (West of Karakoram Pass) with Pakistan but have refused to discuss that boundary with India on the ground of it being ‘disputed’. The Chinese have been stapling visas for Indian citizens belonging to J&K.  With China becoming a new, assertive factor, the dispute over accession of J&K to India is no longer a bilateral issue but a tri-lateral issue between India, Pakistan and China. In the security scenario and defence planning for the North Western sector, Indian armed forces have no alternative but to factor in joint, two front Pakistan-China threats.  The Kargil war was not the first time when Pakistan initiated a war. In the present circumstances, when the ISI continues to wage proxy war through its jehadi organisations, we cannot assume that it would be the last time. Every good military would like to be pro-active. But it has also to develop the will and capability to react. The essence of military leadership lies in the manner in which we react to restore a situation, however, adverse the circumstances of the battle.  An enduring lesson of the war is that for national securit. Sound defence enables sound foreign policies.

No trust deficit with India: Pak

Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir (fourth from left) crosses over to India at the Attari checkpost on Monday. Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir (fourth from left) crosses over to India at the Attari checkpost on Monday. Photo: Vishal Kumar  New Delhi, July 25 Ahead of the talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries, Pakistan tonight said it desired to give a political push to the dialogue process with India. “There is no trust deficit between the top political leaderships of the two countries…things are moving in the right direction,” Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said on his arrival here for talks with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao tomorrow.  He said the two sides had covered a lot of ground during the dialogue process that was resumed in February and hoped to make some announcements after the talks between the foreign ministers on Wednesday.  The two top diplomats are expected to firm up the details of cross-Line of Control (LoC) confidence building measures (CBMs) to be announced after talks between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar on Wednesday.  Khar, Pakistan’s first woman Foreign Minister and the youngest to occupy the post, arrives in New Delhi tomorrow.  Rao and Bashir, who will be meeting a month after their talks in Islamabad, are expected to review the entire gamut of bilateral issues and firm up deliverables that will be unveiled by the foreign ministers.  Increasing the frequency of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot bus services and the number of trading days across the LoC and opening more trading points are expected to be unveiled after the talks between the foreign ministers.  Sources said the two ministers would also discuss measures to liberalise the visa regime though there may not be any immediate announcement in this regard.  Ahead of the talks, India made it clear that there was no dilution in its stand that the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks must be speedily brought to justice by Pakistan.  TNS adds from Amritsar: Kashmir would be part of talks between India and Pakistan scheduled to take place in New Delhi on Wednesday, said Pak Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir after crossing over to India via the Wagah-Attari land route on Monday. On the 13/7 Mumbai blasts, he said: “We understand the pain and suffering of the blast victims. Every country today is facing the scourge of terrorism and the only way forward is to cooperate with one another. We have been extending help in the fight against terror across the world and will provide assistance to India in probing Mumbai blasts.”

Indian Army beefs up night vigil to curb militants’ infiltration in Kashmir

Tangdhar (Jammu and Kashmir), July 23 (ANI): With an aim to counter militancy in the restive region, the Indian Army personnel have stepped up night patrolling in the forests and mountains along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan administered Kashmir.  Strengthening their vigil in the Tangdhar range of Kashmir valley, scores of army personnel have been combing the area for hiding militants and miscreants at night to prevent any infiltration.  Security personnel have also been specially armed with sophisticated weapons and technology, such as automatic machine guns, night-vision cameras and under barrel grenade launchers, to effectively combat the extremists.  Colonel Vikas Slathia of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles told mediapersons that patrolling was the only way to militarily ‘dominate’ an area.  "We have to manage a very large area of responsibility and the only way you can monitor the entire area and dominate the entire area is by patrolling. They have to do patrolling by day, and by night," said Col. Slathia.  Despite the exhilarating scenic beauty in Kashmir, the region has been the focal point of militancy in the last two decades.  According to senior commanders of the Indian Army, several militant camps are actively operating in the Kashmir valley, while more than 700 militants in Pakistan administered Kashmir are ready to cross towards the Indian side of the valley.  There are also fears of militants attempting to infiltrate again in the next few months, to avenge the deaths of their top commanders at the hands of the Army and other paramilitary forces.  On this score, Col. Slathia said that night patrolling was crucial since there were greater chances of extremists of crossing the borders after dark.  "Most of the activities of the terrorists, if they want to infiltrate into our country, they will prefer hours of darkness. So we need to dominate the area by patrolling, because at many places, you must have seen, there is a lot of forest, there is a lot of foliage, which provide enough cover to the terrorists which cannot be seen by our devices which are visual in nature, for which patrolling is absolutely necessary," he added. (ANI)

Sherpa for Indian Army, Light Armoured Vehicle, Launched

An indigenous light armoured vehicle designed keeping in mind the operational requirements of the police and paramilitary forces was launched at the ongoing homeland security exhibition last week. Based on the Ford Endeavour SUV, the Sherpa has been developed by Shri Lakshmi Defence Solutions Ltd (SLDS) in a joint programme with Ford India.  'The 2+6 seater vehicle with maximum speed of 160 kmph is an ideal force multiplier in the war against Naxals (Maoists) and terrorists, even in an urban scenario, especially for command vehicle operations,' an SLDS statement said.  'The Ford Endeavour's chassis, with one of the highest ground clearance and largest wheelbase in it's class, was a clear winner for modification as a light armoured vehicle. With its unique safety features and rigidity of frame, the vehicle can tackle any terrain and prove useful as a force multiplier for homeland security,' the statement added.  According to SLDS director Anil Kumar Verma, the Sherpa has been designed 'to aid the security forces in counter-insurgency and anti-Maoist operations and to enhance their combat efficiency'.  Speaking at the launch, Nigel Wark, executive director (Marketing, Sales and Service) of Ford India, said: ‘The Endeavour, with its superior build quality, durability and powerful transmission, can prove to be a reliable vehicle in all types of terrain and will match gruelling operational requirements.'  SLDS already produces a range of security-related vehicles including the Viper fast-moving attack vehicle, the Dhruv armoured troop carrier and the Drona blast and mine protection vehicle.  The company's parent, Shri Lakshmi Cotsyn Ltd, has been supplying safety textiles such as bio-chemical, high altitude fabric, bullet-proof jackets and bullet-proof helmets, camouflage fabrics, uniform fabric, IR fabric and carbon fabric to Indian defence establishments.



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