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Monday, 31 October 2011

From Today's Papers - 31 Oct 2011





India lags far behind Chinese preparedness Despite surface calm, Delhi can’t afford to lower its guard

Ajay Banerjee writes from Demchok in Ladakh  A soldier operates an equipment to look across the LAC A soldier operates an equipment to look across the LAC. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal  The bluish-green waters of the Indus flow sluggishly as it cuts a wide swath over the plateau of Ladakh. The river divides India and China. Unlike the volatile Indo-Pak border, the tension between the two countries is not visible here. There are no barbed wire fences or gun-toting soldiers patrolling with a finger on the trigger.  Amidst craggy mountains, the two edgy neighbours keep a hawk eye on each other. The entire operation from the Indian side is largely invisible with the emphasis more on keeping an eye. Faced with an aggressive China across the Himalayas, India has been steadily ramping up its defences along the eastern fringes of the Ladakh plateau that forms the contentious Line of Actual Control (LAC) with its neighbour.  Recent efforts by India include creation of roads and airfields besides setting up top-of-the-line surveillance equipment like radars, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and long-range observation and reconnaissance systems (LORROS). There are hundreds of trained Army personnel - serving and retired - deployed to watch any suspicious movement. One of the concerns is transgression by the Chinese into Ladakh on account of “differing perceptions” of the LAC.  New Delhi’s efforts are, however, languid when compared with Beijing’s blistering pace. China started setting up its military posts along this segment of the LAC in 2008 and has marched ahead. It has built metalled roads right till the LAC on its side, created six new airfields in Xinjiang and western Tibet coupled with massive accommodations for its Army’s comfort. From Demchok, the Chinese fortifications, including a glass and concrete watchtower, are an impressive sight.  On the other hand, India struggles with road clearances typical of a democracy. Important approaches to LAC on the Indian-side are dirt tracks. One of its new airfields at Nyoma is just coming up while another at Kargil will be expanded. There are only two full-fledged airbases at Leh and Thoise. Accommodation for its forces has only started changing in small pockets. General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Leh-based 14 crops Lt-Gen Ravi Dastane says, “We are watching their capability as it develops.” Intentions can change very fast, he added in a subdued tone that conveyed extreme caution.  Of late, though, India has been making an effort to counter any possible Chinese threat or adventure. Indian manpower is backed by latest sophisticated gadgetry. Placed on mountain tops on the Indian side of the LAC is equipment that relays real-time data and pictures to commanders at three separate places. Vital posts atop mountains overlooking China operate the LORROS. This is an electronic visual aid that provides pictures and videos of approaching threats and movement up to 15 km across the LAC. At one of such posts located at 16,000 feet, movement of Chinese vehicles in the valley down below is clearly visible on the computer screen of the machine. This has been fitted with a hand-held thermal imager that allows capturing of data and images at night.  The Army also has specialised Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs) that look behind each and every nook and cranny in this tree-less expanse. On its side, India has also set up radars on possible ingress routes. These capture any intrusions made by the Chinese through the air, however, the standard procedure remains “no shooting” even at UAVs.  The last of the efforts is thousands of human eyes. Besides the Army and the ITBP, a large part of the information network comprises retired soldiers of the Ladakh scouts. Hony Capt Cherring Stobdan, a gallantry awardee of 1999, says, “All former soldiers keep in regular touch with local Army units and inform them of any unusual activity across the border.” Indian soldiers from crack divisions like the para-commandos regularly practise in the area to get a feel of the terrain and to keep themselves acclimatised for these altitudes. Yet it is apparent that India needs to do much more if it needs to feel secure against China on this sensitive border.


Omar Abdullah denies undermining Indian army

Srinagar: Chief of State denies Indian-administered Kashmir has moved to reassure the Indian army will pull hard laws shield security forces are fighting rebels. Omar Abdullah denies undermining Indian army  Omar Abdullah, announced last week that the emergency laws imposed in 1990 the troops, to act with impunity must be partially removed to improve security in the region.  They laughed Armed Forces Special Powers Act (isolate) was introduced to the army and paramilitary forces – who number 500,000 in India-administered Kashmir today – broad powers to detain people who use deadly force and destroy property.  Army and paramilitary officials are opposed to the withdrawal of the action, saying it is an important part of efforts to resolve 20 years of rebellion against the government in New Delhi in Muslim-majority region.  “Removing AFSPA is in no way weaken the role of the military effort, which basically has an important role in anti-militancy operations mode,” Abdullah said in a statement released late Wednesday.  “The process of removal of AFSPA in some sectors of the state is carried out in close consultation with the military,” said the Prime Minister.  Most of the commercial districts, schools and offices in the Kashmir valley was closed on Thursday, the annual protest against the presence of Indian soldiers in the area.  Indian soldiers in Kashmir came on October 27, 1947, after the rule of the Indian Himalayan region sought help to repel an invasion of Pakistan with the support of the tribes.  Maharaja Hari Singh, said the independence of Kashmir in the past when Britain withdrew from the Indian subcontinent in August 1947.  Since the announcement AFSPA Abdullah on Friday, a series of grenade attacks directed at security checkpoints.  Five civilians and policemen were injured.  Militant violence has fallen sharply in Kashmir since India and Pakistan, both of which are regional, in part but claim in full, the peace process started in 2004.


Indian Army, DRDO to Conduct User Trials for Agni-II Ballistic Missile

009-05-11 Defence scientists are preparing for a user's trial of surface-to-surface Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM), Agni-II, from the defence base off the Orissa coast this week. The indigenously developed missile will be fired from the launching complex-IV at the Wheeler's Island near Dhamra.  "Preparations are on in full swing. If everything goes as planned, the missile will be testfired between May 12 and May 14," said a source at the integrated test range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-Sea. It also said the test may be deferred by four-five days if there are problems reported during the preparations. Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) scientists are excited because this user trial will pave the way for the maiden test of Agni-IV that is now under development.  "The successful tests of Astra missile from the ITR have encouraged the scientists for user trial of Agni-II. They are doing everything to ensure it's a success story," a source said. This missile is part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP), while the other missiles include Prithvi, Trishul, Akash and Nag. Agni II has appropriate on-board thrusters fitted on the second stage of the missile. Both stages of Agni-II have a solid propulsion system which allows the missile to be mobile and flexible.  The Agni-II missile, which is 20 metres long, has a diameter of one meter and weighs 16 tonne, can neutralize a target at over 2,000 km range. It can carry a payload of around 1,000 kg and its range can also be increased to 3,000 km depending upon the payload. The missile will be used by 555 Missile Group of the Army.  "Agni-II can be fired from a rail-mobile launcher and is also available in road-mobile configuration. This lends flexibility and reduces vulnerability to first strike. It is in fact a ready-to-fire missile with a launch time of about 15 minutes," said a defence scientist, who added that Agni-II, along with Agni-I and Agni-III form the triad of the country's minimum, credible, nuclear deterrence.


The changing face of Pakistan’s army

PAKISTAN, October 29, 2011— The Army of Pakistan is a professional force whose ideology and philosophy reflects the personality of its leader.  The political ideology of the institution has varied from that of a strict practicing Muslim to a liberal democratic general changing the ideologue of the Pakistan Army with him.  The military leadership promotes those who think like he does and forces out those who are different.  The officers following the majority grow in the ranks and the officers differing from the majority are degenerated and eliminated from the competition.   After the partition of the Indian continent into two separate countries, India and Pakistan, in August 1947, Army personnel could choose which country to join leading  to the creation of the Pakistan Army and to a series of coups in order to determine power rankings in the Army and Pakistani government.   Many muslim military officers opted for the Pakiston Army, while Hindu officers joined the Indian Army. Secular officers from the united Indian army divided between the India and Pakistan armies.  The officers who joined the Pakistan army trained the junior officers in a secular lifestyle emphasizing loyalty to country rather than loyalty to religion.   Pakistan army’s first commander-in-chief was General Sir Douglas Gracey  (1894-1964). Gracey is recogonized for refusing to send Pakistan Army troops to Kashmir, India, retiring from his post in 1951 and removing the role of the Englishman as the titular head of the Pakistan Army.  From 1951 to 1958 General Aybu Khan was in power creating the Conventional Muslim League that elected Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto.  In 1969, General Yahya Khan assumed power which led to the deaths of many as civilian unrest in East Pakistan led to the execution of West Pakistanis and the Biharis and Bengalis that supported them.   General Yaha Khan was found responsible for the 1971 Bangladesh Atrocities during which more than three-million people were killed by the Pakistani Army under Khan. Zulifikar Ali Bhutto returned to Pakistani after Khan was overthrown in 1971.  Pakistan's turmoil continued when in 1977 Army General Zia ul-Hag overthrew the government, leading to the conviction and hanging of Z.A. Bhutto allowing ul-Hag to assume power as a military dictator until his accidental death in 1988.  The Kargil Conflict led to a military action between Pakistan and India, resulting in Pakistan withdrawing from Kargil and the Pakistan Army, once again, overthrowing the elected government and putting General Pervez Musharraf into power however his rule was declared unconstitutional and Musharraf and he was replaced in July 2009 by Brigadiar Muzaffar Usmani.    General Ayub Khan imposed martial law in October 1958 on Pakistan and became the first military dictator of Pakistan.  Although he was a dictator, he was liberal in his thoughts.  He did not try to change the lifestyle of the officers of Pakistan army or to impose any religious ideals on the military.  Ayub Khan subsequently transferred his power to General Yahya Khan, who had a vision to democratize Pakistan. Under his leadership, Pakistan held its first parliamentary elections in 1970.  During Yahya Khan’s rule, secular liberals joined the military, mimicking Yahva Khan’s ideology.  Strict and extremis religious people felt no attraction in joining a secular institution. During this time, Pervez Musharraf, a secular liberal, entered the junior ranks of army.   The secular face of Pakistan army continued till General Zia-ul-Haq became the Chief of army staff. General Zia was a practicing Muslim and he imposed martial law on Pakistan in July 1977.  While he was in power, Pakistan fought the proxy war of US against communist USSR. To fight the war against USSR, General Zia encouraged a particular brand of Islam in Pakistan generally and in the army specifically. As a result, secular officers faced difficulties in the military.  They were forced to observe General Zia’s Islam or to retire.  General Zia died in an air crash in August 1988, and with his death, ended the era of an extreme, fundamentalist, radical, Islamic army.   After demise of General Zia, started an eleven year democratic period during which two major political parties governed Pakistan. The army leadership took a backseat and indirectly used its influence to formulate the policies of Pakistan. During this eleven year period, five generals took the position of chief of army staff one after the other and each had a different personality. So this transitional period helped to lessen the radical influence of General Zia on the army.  A radical general named Zaheer-ul-Islam Abbassi even tried to undertake a coup without any bloodshed but was unsuccessful and he and his associates were removed from service. At the beginning of this transitional period, Pakistan army consisted of officers which were mostly religious minded or adopted a religious lifestyle due to influence of General Zia but at the end of this transitional period, Pakistan army had straightened, smoothened, changed, evolved and started to shape into a third type and the radicals had mostly removed or retired from service.  As a result of the two extremes; Yahya Khan and Zia-ul-Haq, the Pakistan army saw the growth of a third type of officer which was a synthesis of the two extremes.  This third type of officer flourished under General Pervez Musharraf, the third military dictator who ruled from 1999 to 2008. Pervez Musharraf, himself entered army as a secular individual, but was forced by the Zia-ul-Haq regime to observe strict Islamic way of life.  He survived that regime and converted into the third type of officer.  Today Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is continuing the secular, professional Army.   The present Pakistan army consists mostly of people of the third type who have a mixture of religious and secular beliefs.  These officers on the one hand, know fully well how to exploit and manipulate religious laws to their benefit and on the other hand they know how to deal with the secular civil society of Pakistan and they have no strict allegiance with any of the party.


Nandal to be new GOC 16 Corps Indian Army

JAMMU, (SANA) Indian Army Lieutenant General A S Nandal is all set to take over as new General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the White Knight Corps from November 1, 2011. Defence sources said that Lt Gen Nadal will take over the charge of GOC 16 Corps from Lt Gen J P Nehra, who is being shifted to Army Headquarters, on November 1. Lt Gen Nandal is presently posted as Additional Director General at the Chief of Army Staff Secretariat, Army Headquarters Delhi.


Our defence forces need an Indian 'kavach'

On October 23, air power completed a unique milestone. It has been a hundred years since Captain Carlo Piazza carried out the first aerial reconnaissance flight in the Italian Turkish war in Libya. Eight days later, on November 1, 1911, the first combat sortie was executed when his compatriot, Lt Giuilio Gavotti hand-dropped four grenades on Turkish troops from a duffel bag he had carried aloft. Such humble beginnings could not have foretold the dizzying speed with which man exploited the vertical dimension in war. It is perhaps a bit eerie that after exactly a century, airpower is again seeing action in, of all places, Libya.  The pre dominance of sea power -' He who controls the sea, controls the world' -gave way to the relative superiority of air power, bringing in a dimension of quick dominance from the third medium. The development of the military industrial complex, especially the aviation industry, became the driving agent of Western economies after WW II. Thus, vast conglomerates brought with them money power, through which the best minds in academia and R&D institutes got together to produce fancy and dangerous weapons. Today, the armament trade figure stands at $1.6 trillion, which is 2.6% of the world's GDP. Why is this important? In the next two decades , as per one estimate, India's contribution to the global armament trade would be more than $100 billion. Anything to crow about this impressive order? Yes, but only if this was coming from the indigenous industry.  Lytton, in 1839, had said that the pen is mightier than the sword while Mao brought in a different view averring that 'power flows through the barrel of a gun' . The former cry is getting shriller by the day, as human security proponents question the centrality of the State as the fundamental entity in ensuring security for the individual . While this has merit, a developing nation such as ours, needs to be wary of this trap at the juncture we are in our economic development. India's medieval history is an example of how a flourishing nation, with the second highest trade figures in the world, became a playground of foreign powers and rulers due the absence of a strong military. No nation has developed economically without a surety of the security of the State. After WW II, Japan and Germany had the US umbrella while Taiwan and South Korea also prospered with the American guarantee; closer home, a city state too has had foreign benefactors behind it. With our policy of non-alignment, it's only right that our defence posture inspires confidence, one important ingredient of which is self sufficiency through indigenous armament production.  Our armament industry mirrors an event of the times of the epic Mahabharata. The presence of Lord Krishna with the Pandavas tilted the balance of power in the battlefield of Kurukshetra in their favour, despite Krishna's full army having gone to the Kauravas. Krishna's army was no match to the 'know how and know why' that Krishna provided as a kavach or shield to the Pandavas. All the transfer of technology and license manufactures of the past five decades have not got the Indian nation anywhere close to the power that comes from a genuine home-grown armament supply chain that has, to borrow an IT phrase, all the 'source codes' - this impacts the credibility to call the shots in times of crises.  India missed the industrial revolution and its economic gains. Now, as we take steps to claim our rightful place in the comity of nations, our march towards economic self reliance should be supported by the leverage we have with our buying power in the arms sector. If we do not jump start our armament industry now, using this leverage, when else will we? The aircraft industry, with the IAF's super high value contracts like the MMRCA, Medium Transport Aircraft and the Fifth Generation fighter programme, could be the catalysts in this in he centennial year of offensive employment of airpower.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

From Today's Papers - 30 Oct 2011




Post-Parliament attack, India deployed N-capable missiles on border’

Washington, October 29 India had deployed nuclear-capable missiles on its western border and refused to budge under US pressure to hold any talks with Pakistan after the 2001 attack on its Parliament by terrorists from across the border, says former top American diplomat Condoleezza Rice.  And what added to the tension in the White House's Situation Room in December 2001 was the sharp differences between the Pentagon and CIA about the ground realities in South Asia, she writes in her memoir 'No Higher Honor' that is set to hit the stands next week.  While CIA was informing White House that India was on its way to war, Pentagon was concluding it wasn’t the case, Rice, who then was National Security Adviser to President Bush, said.  In fact, Rice writes that CIA was speaking the language of Pakistan, which wanted the entire world to believe, in particular the US, that India was ready to attack them.  "The CIA believed that armed conflict was unavoidable because India had already decided to 'punish' Pakistan. That is likely the view that Islamabad held and wanted us to hold too.  "The fact is that after years of isolation from India, a country that had viewed the United States with suspicion for decades, the CIA was heavily reliant on Pakistani sources in 2001," Rice says in her book. During the eight years of the Bush administration, Rice served as both the National Security Adviser and Secretary of State.  "Looking at the same events unfolding on the ground, the Pentagon and CIA gave very different assessments of the likelihood of war," she said.  "The Defence Department, relying largely on reporting and analysis from Defence Intelligence Agency, viewed preparations as steps similar to those that any military (including our own) would take given the circumstances. In Pentagon's view, a build-up was not necessarily evidence of a formal decision to launch an attack," Rice writes. Rice said the President and National Security Council Principals were frustrated with ups and downs of the assessment over next three days. "Defence Department and CIA remained very far apart," she said.  As there was no let-up in the tension between the two neighbours, Rice said the US and Britain joined hands and organised a series of high-profile visits to the two countries with the view that there would be no war as long as some important dignitary was in the region. — PTI


Don’t revoke AFSPA in Kashmir: Advani

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 29 Opposing the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir, BJP leader L K Advani today said nothing should be done that weakens the armed forces' position.  He, however, said there is a case for withdrawal of the Act in Manipur which could be examined.  "I don't think there is a need to withdraw the AFSPA so far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned. Nothing should be done that weakens the armed forces position," he told reporters here.  Attacking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Advani took strong objection to the position that coalition dharma often came in the way of acting strongly against corruption.  "Coalition dharma matters only in the matters of policy and not in the matters of integrity," he said.  Recalling how the BJP conducted the NDA alliance when it was in power, Advani said they had formed new states without any problems, but had deferred a decision on Telangana as it required a policy consensus among all the partners.  "My party was in favour of Telengana in the NDA, when in power. But our allies were not in favour," he said.  Advani also lamented that number of farmer suicides in the last eight years have been remarkably high.  The BJP leader also lashed out at the government for its failure to check inflation which has made even basic existence difficult.  He said suicides by farmers anywhere is unfortunate and urged the polity to ensure that they are not driven to take this extreme step.  Meanwhile in New Delhi, when asked to comment on Advani's statement that there is a case for withdrawal of AFSPA in Manipur which could be examined, BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, "Possibly on the basis of merit and ground realities, that can be accessed."  "We are not making an outright demand that it should be removed (from Manipur), but assessed," he said. — PTI


India’s naval assertions

In 1962, as tension began to mount, with an increase in Chinese Army intrusions on the Indo-China border, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, before embarking on a flight abroad reportedly told the media that he had 'ordered the (ill-equipped and ill-prepared) Indian Army to throw the Chinese out'.  These famous last words led to independent India’s first and only disastrous military defeat. History now appears to be repeating itself.  In July 2011, a Chinese warship confronted an Indian navy ship Airavat shortly after it left a Vietnamese port in the South China Sea.  The unidentified Chinese warship demanded that INS Airavat, an amphibious assault ship, identify itself and explain its presence in what it said were Chinese waters, shortly after it completed a scheduled port call in Vietnam.  This incident indicates that Indo-China rivalry is now moving to the oceans, much earlier than anticipated.  India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) has acted with unusual alacrity in two important areas — agreeing to train the Afghan Army, while also going ahead with the ONGC’s plan for oil exploration in the Vietnamese Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea, which China claims as its own waters.  The MEA and the ministry of defence (MoD) should have been advised by the Indian Navy on the inadequate force levels available to deal with the emerging scenarios in the Indian Ocean region and the Asia Pacific region.  The MEA and the MoD must be aware of the dozens of Chinese incursions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).  India has given repeated explanations that frequent Chinese air and land incursions are due to 'perceptional differences' over the contested LAC. This has further emboldened China, which respects only a combination of military, diplomatic and economic power.  In pure strategic terms there is nothing wrong with India “training the Afghan military” and also exploring for oil and minerals there. But it should first ensure that the Indian Army gets the money to buy critically needed artillery guns, improve border roads and induct additional troops needed to man the Indo-China LAC.  Similarly, on the maritime front, there is nothing wrong with the ONGC Videsh Ltd, exploring for oil in the South China Sea, or 'mandating' the Indian Navy to provide security to the island nations of the Indian Ocean region provided the Indian Navy gets the additional forces.  Even the powerful US Navy has been treading with caution in the Asia Pacific region, given China’s huge deployable air and sea power.  What will India do if the ONGC exploratory rig is 'blown up' by an unexplained explosion in the South China Sea in a repeat of the 2010 'Cheonan' incident, where a North Korean submarine sank a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea, but nothing could be done despite 'available proof'?  To put things in perspective, the Indian Navy currently has sufficient forces to tackle piracy, counter maritime terror and meet its coastal security needs.  To provide a sustained 'credible' presence by a single aircraft carrier battle group in the Asia Pacific Region, the Indian Navy will need to create a dedicated “APR Maritime Task Force” and a “logistics base” in Vietnam.  Raising and equipping an 'APR Maritime Task Force' will need time and billions of dollars. The Indian Navy will need more capability in the Indian Ocean region to counter the inevitable sustained Chinese Navy presence by 2030. In simple terms, to meet its 'emerging tasks' the Indian Navy will need to double its size and quadruple its existing annual budget.  While aircraft carriers are definitely needed in some scenarios, some other interim, 'cost effective' options need to be put on the table, or else India will go bankrupt in trying to meet its new strategic challenges.  These measures include exporting MTCR compliant Brahmos (290-km range) anti-ship cruise missiles and Prithvi-2 (250-km range) ballastic land attack missiles to Vietnam, South Korea and possibly Taiwan.  The Navy’s aging and depleting conventional submarine force, under prolonged 'benign neglect' needs to be bolstered by ordering a second conventional submarine indigenous production line under the much-delayed Project 75(I).  Also, an additional four conventional submarines and four nuclear attack submarines need to be imported, so that at least one of them is on patrol in the Asia Pacific region and Indian Ocean region at any given time, to provide 'invisible' presence-cum-deterrence, without the need for a logistics base for warships and aircraft, given the long endurance of submarines.  This “invisible” submarine presence would avoid incidents at the South China Sea. These same submarines could also be used in wartime to interdict Chinese shipping using the Indian Ocean region choke points and complement the Indian aircraft-carrier battle groups.  Boosting India’s sea power is essential to meet the emerging challenges in the Indian Ocean region and Asia Pacific region.  Another innovative option would be to use some of our numerous island territories as 'unsinkable aircraft carriers' with the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force aircraft, coastal radars and coastal Brahmos anti-ship missile batteries.  Indian land and air power, too, needs a boost to deter any misadventures by our adversaries on our land borders.  Diplomatically, India is making the right moves with Vietnam, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Iran and other island nations. It must, however, avoid a strategic overreach, keeping in mind the prevailing military balance.  India needs to remember what Prussian king Fredrick the Great meant when he said: 'Diplomacy without military power is like music without instruments'.  Our policymakers could make a start by reading Kautilya’s 2000-year-old Arthashastra and investing wisely, and quietly, in strategic national defence, which will be an insurance against war.  The writer retired as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam


The Express Tribune      Home     Pakistan     Business     World     Sports     Life & Style     Multimedia     Opinion     Magazine     Blogs     Jobs     Classifieds      Editorial     Letters  Alerts CULPRITS WILL BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE: INTERIOR MINISTER REHMAN MALIK 02:47 PST < > What the Pakistan Army should do

A recent All Parties Conference (APC) has formally handed over foreign-cum-Taliban policy to the army. What the political parties are after is one another’s scalp: their default position is plotting the downfall of elected governments. The Pakistan Army is now in a precarious position of either taking the country out of the terrorist mess or repeating past blunders. If it doesn’t want to fight the terrorists, then there can be two reasons why: it likes what the terrorists are doing; or it is certain it will lose fighting against them.  The APC wants Pakistan to talk to the terrorists from a position of weakness. The army is deceived by an apparent retreat in the stance of the Americans to think it can persuade the terrorists to become non-terrorists. This is not going to work. Other options are equally vague. Will it play the Chinese card? One analyst says: “China has crucial interests in the South China Sea; and building a navy to counter the US fleet is a full-time job. China will not want a confrontation with the US in a place where it has no natural advantage over the latter”. News is that China actually wants military bases inside Pakistan to counter terrorism seeping into its Xinjiang province.  What will the neighbours think of doing? “Iran will actually prefer a US presence that is predictable to the armed hordes controlled and paid for by its Sunni adversaries in the Middle East. India’s capacity to influence events in Afghanistan is very limited”. No one will accept a repeat of what Pakistan did in Afghanistan in tandem with the Mullah Omar government in the 1990s. Pakistan is the wrong state to consult if you want a peaceful Afghanistan unless, of course, the Pakistan Army has changed its thinking. There is no evidence of that change.  If it doesn’t want a ‘two-front’ situation it must find other non-military ways of defusing it. In all kinds of scenarios, the Pakistan Army is in need of international assistance against a highly penetrative terrorist ideology. The last thing it should do is fall for the populist trap of heroic isolation.  The Pakistan Army should let foreign policy go. One says it because all armies attach foreign policy to geopolitics and, therefore, disqualify themselves as arbiters. They tie a most changeable category to the most unchanging physical aspect of the country where they imagine they see permanent advantage. Geopolitically, India is a permanent enemy. Geopolitically, Pakistan’s median ‘transit territory’ status gives it permanent advantage. Nothing could be more wrong.  The military view of Pakistan’s geopolitical importance has been proved wrong by the failure of the theory of ‘strategic depth’ as a kind of corollary to our self-image as a geopolitical obstacle. As some textbooks recognise, the geopolitical view of international affairs is favoured by all armies because it is linked to geography and, therefore, is of fixed value. And it obviates the periodical rewriting of textbooks army officers read during training. The only geography that works, however, is the one based on the civilian view: Finland could exploit its ‘median’ location between the West and the Soviet Union during the Cold War while Pakistan uses it today to block India.  The civilian geopolitical advantage is a part of the war equation in South Asia. The military imagination is fixed on it as ‘one-time advantage’: it is wrong in thinking that once a trade route is given to India, Pakistan will lose its upper hand. The fact is that the advantage will start materialising only after the trade route becomes functional and billions of international dollars become committed to it.  Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2011.


Pak India Forum launches drive to trace kith and kin of unsung WW 1 Indian heroes

AMRITSAR: The Pak India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy has initiated a drive to trace the grandchildren or the relatives of valiant soldiers who fought and died unsung in World War I in and around the town of Ipers in Belgium. The idea is to get their details and keep them in the museum.  This was declared at the memorial to Indian soldiers erected at In Flanders Field Museum, Ipers, "What can be a better tribute than establishing the identity of World War I heroes who had fought for the British Army in unknown lands, but their names have been lost in oblivion, " said state convener of Pak India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy AS Mahal while talking to TOI on Saturday after his return from Belgium.  About 700 Indian soldiers under the command of British Army had fought at Ipers between from 1914, of which only about 440 could return home, said Mahal. The memorial to the Indian soldiers didn't have the names of all those who had given supreme sacrifice during World War I, he said.  Mahal said: " Director of museum Dendoven Domnick has shown keen interest in receiving the details of Indian soldiers so that same could be established in the museum". At Ipers , many Indian soldiers died due to chemical weapon attack by Germany who released tons of gas against British troops, killing hundreds of soldiers, informed Mahal.  The forum , through its network in both India and Pakistan has appealed to the grandchildren, relatives, friends and NGOs to come up with the details of brave soldiers. "We will compile the list of these soldiers with details including place of birth, photographs etc and send it to the museum so that their details should also appear in the memorial to Indian soldiers," he said.


Army foils infiltration bid along LoC in Rajouri

Army troops today foiled an infiltration bid along Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir.  Troops guarding the borderline observed movement of three suspected militants who were trying to enter the Indian side in Chamba gap forward defence location in Laam belt around 0200 hours, a senior Army officer said.  Army immediately deployed its ambush parties which opened fire on the infiltrators, he said, adding that they were forced back to Pakistan side


Infantry Day celebrated at Mhow

INDORE: Infantry School at Mhow celebrated Infantry Day on Friday. The day is celebrated to commemorate the landing of the first regiment of the Indian Army in Srinagar 64years ago to defend Kashmir.  Speaking on the occasion Lt Gen KJS Oberoi, commandant of Infantry School stressed on the tradition of Infantry soldiers to get associated with humanitarian relief in natural calamities and shouldering additional responsibilities in peace keeping mission to bring global peace on behalf of the United Nations.  Infantry operates in all types of terrain be it air, land, water, mountains, glaciated super high altitude area, desert, riverine etc. It is this trait which has earned it the coveted of 'Queen of the Battle', he said.


India Toying With Dangerous Cold Start War Doctrine – Analysis

By BrigGen (ret) Dr. Muhammad Aslam Khan Niazi  Indian Military ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ (CSD) surfaces occasionally in Indian and Pakistani media as an unexplored paradigm. The opinion makers enjoy Voltaire’s philosophy support across the board, that in the third millennium globalized world politics, has become synonymous to the ‘Controversy Theory’ which allows the scholars perceptional as well as approach variations while evaluating any concept, doctrine or theory.  CSD is very high-sounding concept with its corollary ambiguity and those not possessing deep insight to the operational methodology tend to bolster its psychological fall out on the Pakistani readership, which is the only significant gain so far for India. Wittingly or unwittingly, its interpretation through plethora of contemporary theories projects it like an intricate myth if not monster. At times, it virtually appears that the war would flash like a bolt that would mince Pakistan’s military retaliatory capability to the dust unless some big ‘ifs’ were not resolved by Pak Army. It is therefore pertinent to put the threat in real perspective that could otherwise haunt world peace. India  India  The roots of CSD like doctrine were nourished more by the unbridled euphoria of a maverick Indian Army Chief than by operational necessity. General Krishnaswamy Sundarrajan, besides being an architect of several brilliant episodes as well as reverses, was perceived by Indians to have carried a feather in his cap called Operation Brasstacks. Commencing in July 1986 as a war game, it developed into an ever-biggest exercise in Asia when air, artillery, armor and mechanized formations’ ‘blitzkrieg-like’ integrated deep offensive strategy was tested. The much-trumpeted exercise reached its crescendo in December 1986, employing three strike corps (I Corps-Mathura, II Corps-Ambala and XXI Corps-Bhopal) along Indo-Pak southeastern borders but to the misfortune of Indian Chief, Pakistan had shrewder military strategist, General Zia-ul-Haq who lie in wait to let Indian Chief put all his eggs in one basket, Rajasthan. Before he went with broad smile to launch cricket diplomacy in India, he ordered his Army reserves in the North to sally unobtrusively from army garrisons by the time Sundarji (Indian Chief’s short name) had achieved optimum assembly of forces comprising nine divisions excluding the holding corps, in Rajasthan. It was fantastic move by Pak Army and a masterpiece work of our ISI and military intelligence outfits. Soon in GHQ, heap of signal interception reports (sinrep) indicated that scramble back from Rajasthan to their original battle locations was ordered to all the Brasstacks forces immediately. When a formation complained of lack of transport, a sinrep indicated, it received prompt advice to use all mobility means, even obsolete like bull carts. Thus some of our young officers, referred to ‘Operation Brasstacks’ in light vein as ‘Operation Bull Carts’. Sundarji’s dream of his flashing saber like masterstroke to cut Pakistan into two halves simply crashed in the sand dunes that he had nurtured all along to eliminate status quo-like operational equation between India and Pakistan prevailing since 1947. Thanks to Rajiv Gandhi, Indian Prime Minister who rescued Sundarji by agreeing with Gen Zia-ul-Haq to de-escalate the conflict in February 1987. Later Sundarji candidly admitted his failure, saying, he had over reached with Brasstacks. Not many people know the severity of dilemma Indian Army intended to create in the region and the reverses it faced in the process.  Briefly, one would put here the heightened concern for lack of strategic equivalence between the forces system of the two countries to rest by maintaining that it cannot be achieved in number game, as Pak Army is in comfortable position without it in the face of our weak economy. Jonathan Marcus, a BBC defense correspondent had also observed in 2003, “In straight numerical terms of population, economic might, military manpower and equipment it is almost meaningless to speak about an India-Pakistan balance”. Nevertheless, through persistent sharp scrutiny of Indian Army doctrines that are ‘war-gamed’ by Pakistan without laxity ever and her expansion as well as modernization, Pak Army has taken some potent measures by regrouping, modernizing and at times resorting to modest new raising of forces level to keep adversary’s hostile designs in effective check. Strategic imbalance, for several reasons, would remain Pak Army’s perennial friend and we have to coexist with it. Pak Army has some spare arrows in the bow to act as force multipliers in the power game like our ever readiness to wage a war as a cherished duty, conventional or nuclear if it is thrust upon us and exploiting geo-strategic advantage that geography renders us. We are in position to deploy and employ our holding corps as well as reserves in a manner that achieves effective counter level, yet with remarkable economy of effort. Pak Army has overwhelming edge in time and space factor and hence expeditious assembly of forces and convenient readjustment of the forces posture is possible if a hypothesis unfolds, other than the one on which defensive/offensive maneuver is mounted. Thus, our strategic orientation remains superior, allowing us to operate on interior lines, an advantage that Indian army cannot even wish.  Instead, India has to maintain Eastern Command far away for Chinese and Bangladesh borders as well as Northern Command for Chinese border and Pakistan Northern Areas/Line of Control. Western, Southern and South Western Commands remain poised against international borders with Pakistan while Central Command is in the depth at Lucknow because it has to meet certain contingencies in different directions. On achieving credible nuclear deterrence, Pakistan stands compensated for Indian preponderance in the conventional forces ratio while the nuclear claw of our adversary has also been defanged that she would have been rattling on us every now and then. In fact, Sundarji’s venture of 1986-87, in all probability was driven by such hypothesis that Pakistan would resort to ‘diplomacy’ means only to de-escalate once haunted by the specter of Indian nuclear force projections and not confront India by mobilizing its holding or punch formations for war. Their hypothesis was way off the mark.  Despite such reverses, however, the flare for Concept of Simultaneity (targeting more than one objective at a time) and lightening strikes against deep objectives in a theatre and destruction of Pakistan Army lingered on among Sundarji’s subordinates. On the contrary, three years of evaluation of Sundarji’s finesse enabled Pak Army to further fine tune its offensive as well as defensive plans. Not content with it, General Mirza Aslam Beg, our Army Chief, kicked off yet another mega exercise, ‘Zarb-e-Momin’ (Stroke of a Believer) in 1989 in Central Punjab that the world rated as the beginning of Pakistan Army ‘glasnost’ ensuring that posture-balance was maintained to preempt any mischief from the adversary.  Foxland and Blueland wrestled for several weeks at the final stages of exercise with troops. Chief Control HQ at Sargodha, assisted by Blueland and Foxland Senior Controls, orchestrated the entire conduct, monitoring and evaluation. Three corps, two armoured brigades, two artillery divisions, an air defence division and the Pakistan Air Force participated….Fourteen new concepts were tested; many vital lessons were learnt.The events were covered by national and international media. Several international delegates, Asian as well as Western, visited and were briefed including the leaders of our, what Zbigniew Brzezinski also called them, the holy warriors. Gulbadin Hikmatyar, Prof Burhanudin Rabbani, Sibghatullah Mujadadi, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf and Mulvi Younis Khalis were prominent. Some observations, they made, were point black and dictated by their grip on war making strategy. Over all the visiting delegates appreciated, the conduct that was meticulous and agreed that Blueland maneuvers could blunt Foxland offensives. That was precisely the message Gen Beg had intended to convey across the border.  Indian Military hierarchy’s frustration with what Sundarji had left for them as a model doctrine, employing three strike corps in ‘blitzkrieg’ style, grew worse in the wake of ‘Operation Parakaram’ that trailed December 13, 2001 attack on Indian Parliament. Mobilization of Indian army was ordered on 18 December 2001 to maul Pakistan severely for its alleged involvement that India detected ‘marvelously’ in just about three days time. Other than a few leading powers, world was oblivious of the Indian ‘responsibility’ to spark off an inferno in the Subcontinent. However, assembly of Indian forces was sluggish and stretched over three weeks. In the mean time, President Musharraf played his cards by ordering formations to occupy battle locations. He also gave a ‘turn about’ address to the nation, renouncing ‘Jihadis’ to woo Western sympathies, particularly of US that could not afford to see Pakistan switch its forces from Western to its Eastern borders. Conflict was averted through international actors’ intervention. Thus, masked operational lacunas in Indian Army planning, surviving comfortably hitherto fore, came under sharp scrutiny. Walter Ladwig III of Oxford University clearly saw the flaws in Indian’s war making ambitions like loss of strategic surprise, large size of strike forces that forced a long gap between political decision and military action and finally denuding of holding corps of any offensive punch. Hence, it was imperative to evolve a doctrine that should over-ride such weaknesses of one of the largest standing armies in the word that had clung to defensive-defence strategy since partition. In other words, a dangerous conflict averted in 2001 led to pursuits that are more lethal in the realm of deceptive war making in all forms.  Indian Army Chief, General Padmanabhan unveiled CSD in April 2004. Could it be summed up as a novel and brilliant idea? Certainly not because it carried conspicuous Sundarji’s stamp with mix of Indian Army Chief’s astuteness who managed now to substitute Sundarji’s lightening ‘blitzkrieg-like’ deep offensives doctrine with sharp and crisp shallow multiple strikes called CSD, also claiming to knock out their own holding and offensive corps’ capability gaps. In other words, now Indian defensive corps could contribute as effectively as strike corps, at least hypothetically and the latter were to become known as Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs). Media leaks suggested that initially Indian army would constitute eight IBGs and each would be a concentrate of firepower and mobility under lavish air umbrella, built upon division size armor or mechanized formation with ability to operate as groups or sub-groups executing independent operations within the Group’s area of operation. The destruction of Pakistan Army has been retained as most lucrative objective, employing tremendous firepower and state-of-art means of ground as well as aerial mobility that would interdict and destroy its reserves, comprising mechanized formations.  General Padmanabhan’s brand of CSD sounded fantastic, as did Sundarji’s blitzkrieg and concept of simultaneity during peacetime about a decade earlier. Once the military logisticians, assembly of forces experts and their Ordnance Corps would have sat together to formulate the inventories to equip the Army with Padmanabhan’s long indent for latest machines, weapons and munitions, finance organ of Indian Government would have shuddered. Commenting on CSD within a month of its unveiling in his May 2004, what he called, strategic paper, Dr. Subhash Kapila, almost had the rub with the vision that CSD could not be harnessed militarily as per the perceived scales and if proceeded with, it would amount to asking for moon. He wrote as an indirect admission, “The unveiling of a new war doctrine throws up a host of factors for discussion in terms of why a new war doctrine is required, what are the attendant factors in putting it into operation, the limiting factors that may come into play…”. Commenting three and half years later in December 2007, Dr. Subhash Kapila’s apprehensions further blossomed. He even argued to defer CSD until 2010 because, “India’s COLD START WAR DOCTRINE woven around the operational concept of offensive operations at the very outset of hostilities cannot proceed towards success on Indian Army undertaking military operations with incomplete military inventories…”. Hence, it says all to conclude that CSD is a concept on paper and may be nothing more than at experimental stage with old clattering machines. Conversely, maintaining vigilance about our adversary is the hallmark that our Army must observe. For our consumption, we have to underscore the need for meeting our adversary in the battlefield as if they are equipped right now to the needle details. Indian endeavor to fling strategic surprise on Pakistan as a pre-emption strategy must be checkmated by covert peacetime measures so that our forces instinctively remain out of their bite through ruses, well conceived by our military leadership even when the war balloon has not gone up yet.  One would not question Indian Army’s prerogative to equip its forces to any limit but a pertinent question comes up here. Why did General Padmanabhan switch to intense multiple shallow maneuvers concept? Obviously, the answer is that in the presence of nuclear strike capability with Pakistan Army, there has to be a limited war on the cards. In other words, the change of heart did not emanate from his vision but driven by a compulsion, forced on Indian army under the obtaining politico-military environments. Therefore, CSD has another inhibiting factor that Indian battle sweeps have to remain short of reaching nuclear retaliation threshold. Answer becomes a question again if one asks the proponents of CSD that when India initiates conflict under the label of limited war, how friendly India would remain with Pakistan to keep the war under ‘limited’ tag. Do the adversaries prescribe the counter measure levels to each other? What India marks as limited objectives, in Pakistan Army reckoning they might not be ‘limited’ category? Military will and intentions on two sides have to differ because they work against each other. Though Pakistan would never ever be nuclear button-happy-power but when destruction of our Army is envisaged by CSD, that is the center of gravity of our survival, how would Indian wizards ensure that Pakistan would desist from using nukes, particularly once Pakistan Army concept of operations hinges on offensive-defence strategy? About the nukes, Shireen Mazari says, “Pakistan’s nuclear escalation ladder has only ‘one rung’.” Thus, she seals the argument.  The proposition would remain dangerous when India intends resorting to such measures like CSD under the assumption that by subjecting Pakistan to retribution, it would desist from proxy war in Kashmir that Pakistan denies. Instead, Pakistan maintains that Indian state terrorism has pushed Kashmiris to the brink. The scholars, world over have labeled CSD as dangerous to execute on prefixed speculations based on tunnel vision. CSD also creates space of legitimacy for Pakistan to demand from India to rub off its intrusive footprints in Baluchistan, FATA, Pak-Afghan border areas and thus leverage for escalation of crisis is afforded to Pakistan to recover its internal stability. Indian military collaboration with Israel is also a cause of change in Indian overtone when she talks of military ventures or handles Kashmiri demonstrations in mode and severity parallel to Israeli handling of the Palestinians’ demonstrations. With Israel colluding with Indian military extensively, resentment against Israel has grown manifold in Pakistan though, it did not enjoy a favorable score since inception of state of Israel.  India has to realize that its stakes in regional peace are far greater than Pakistan and hence its unimpeded economic spiral would be a factor to force India to reach for reconciliation with Pakistan in an earnest manner. Seeking ‘peace’ through dialogues and negotiations fervently by both the powers is the ultimate option they would have to embrace but an early embrace would augur well for the regional as well as for the world peace. Powers that have the clout with India and Pakistan must facilitate the adversaries to reach at workable solution. International community is also encumbered with the responsibility to caution India to desist from such momentary madness of 18 December 2001 that could have far-reaching repercussions beyond remedy.  You have to see this analysis in the context of almost perennial hostile relations prevailing between India and Pakistan since independence from colonial rule in 1947. Britain gave up this rich colony to avert the replay of events that occurred to some other European powers while leaving their African colonies in blood of the natives and considerably bruised themselves. Britain left in haste, leaving many thorny territorial division issues between India and Pakistan unresolved, ‘Kashmir’ the major one. The state had predominantly Muslim population but a Hindu chieftain ruled it. There have been military conflicts of varying intensity between India and Pakistan in 1948, 1965 and 1971, the last being more devastating for Pakistan when Indian military also helped public revolt against Pakistan by launching full-fledged offensives and its eastern wing, erstwhile ‘East Pakistan’ was clipped that emerged as Bangladesh. Thus, the hostility simmers, forcing both the countries to maintain large standing armies as of operational necessity. India and Pakistan now possess nuclear weapons, which means looming war scenario, has an added dangerous dimension to it. Some major powers and the beneficiaries are happy with threatening status quo in Kashmir. The simmering hostility nourishes their national interests perhaps better than the resolved conflict would do. Hence, no effective arbitration has been attempted by any power or organization except UN in early years of their inception by adopting Resolutions 38(1948) and 47(1948), which recognized Kashmiris right to choose between India and Pakistan through a plebiscite. India concurred initially but later backtracked. Tragedy of the time is that the Subcontinent remains prone to a horrific nuclear conflagration, possibly at the cost of world peace.



Saturday, 29 October 2011

From Today's Papers - 29 Oct 2011





AFSPA decision put on hold Opposition mounts; CRPF also says it ‘can’t operate without immunity’

Tribune News Service  New Delhi/Srinagar, Oct 28 A decision on revoking the Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been deferred. This became clear following a tweet by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who indicated that the issue would be discussed by the state Cabinet after the Darbar moves to Jammu by November 7.  Neither Abdullah’s Cabinet, which met in Srinagar on Friday, nor the Cabinet Committee on Security, which met in New Delhi last evening, apparently discussed the issue even as a debate rages after the CM’s public announcement last week that the controversial laws were about to be revoked from some parts of the state.  Even the core group meeting of the security forces in Srinagar today, chaired by General SA Hasnain, did not have AFSPA on its agenda although it reviewed the situation after five grenade attacks by militants this week.  Home Ministry sources conceded that the Cabinet Committee on Security had favoured gradual withdrawal of AFSPA, which was invoked in J &K in two phases, first in 1990 and thereafter extended in 2001. The Act provided immunity to armed forces (Army, CRPF, BSF, ITBP included) from prosecution for any action taken by them in order to maintain public order. The actions specified in the Act included search, detention, arrest and elimination of suspected terrorists.  While Army Chief General VK Singh refused to comment on the issue, CRPF Director General K Vijay Kumar today categorically asserted that 70 of its battalions deployed in J&K would require some kind of ‘legal cover’ and would not be able to operate without such protection.  His force, the DG clarified, was not concerned with the presence or absence of AFSPA, as long as the protection is there. While he did not spell it out, he apparently was indicating to certain provisions in the CrPC, which, however, is not followed in Jammu & Kashmir. That, or any other law, it seems, would be acceptable to the armed forces as long as it provides them immunity.  Sources, however, maintained that invoking a provision of the CrPC in J&K would be very tough as the same CrPC also allows overriding powers to SHOs.  Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, meanwhile, urged the government to desist from revoking AFSPA. He had visited the ‘disturbed’ state last year as a member of an all-party delegation and had been informed that over 2,500 applications seeking sanction to prosecute members of the armed forces were pending with the Centre.  Withdrawing AFSPA would not only act as a disincentive to the armed forces, called in to assist the civil administration, but would also ‘incentivise’ seperatists and militants.  Panun Kashmir, the organisation of Kashmiri Pandits, also joined the chorus of protest. Its spokesperson pointed out in Jammu that 15 encounters had taken place between militants and the armed forces on the LoC last month. With as many as 42 terror camps operating across the border, it would be wrong to describe the situation in Kashmir as normal, he added.


India, China to hold boundary talks in Nov

Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, October 28 The Special Representatives (SRs) of India and China on the boundary dispute are expected to hold the 15th round of their talks here on November 28-29, informed sources said today.  National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon will lead the Indian delegation at the talks while the Chinese team will be headed by State Councillor Dai Bingguo.  The talks are being considered important against the backdrop of recent developments in Sino-India ties, especially Beijing’s vehement opposition to the agreement between India and Vietnam for oil exploration in the South China Sea and the increasing Chinese activity in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). China claims full sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.  However, what has been appreciated in New Delhi is the fact that China has discontinued the practice of issuing stapled visas to Indian nationals from Jammu and Kashmir.  The two sides had for quite sometime been discussing the dates for the meeting between the Special Representatives. The proposal was to hold the meeting in October end but later it was decided to schedule it after a possible meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia summit in Bali on November 18-19.  The two sides have so far held 14 rounds of talks but made little progress in resolving the lingering dispute.


The tale of an infantry spouse

I started my life as an infantry spouse way back in 1984. I was a young girl with stars in my eyes and a spring in my walk. Life seemed beautiful, to say the least. I looked forward to happy matrimony and togetherness. But destiny had some other plans. Within a fortnight of our marriage, my husband got posted to Ladakh. I was working in Kolkata [ Images ], which also happened to be my in-laws city, so I stayed put there, pacified by a promise of frequent communication.

Those were the days when the postman had the power to make or break our day; and the shrewd fellow knew it. His comings and goings were carefully monitored by all, but especially by the 'separated' families.  There were wonderful days when the postman brought 3-4 letters at one go, but these bountiful days were preceded and followed by many 'dry' days. To be fair to the infantryman, the fault didn't lie with him as he was sincerely writing a letter a day, (which was something that my in-laws just couldn't believe) …the real culprit was the weather and the terrain.  His high altitude post was dependent upon air support for day to day maintenance, which had its own limitations. Our communication was dependent upon factors beyond our control, and even when it did happen, we always received stale news, which was at least a week old. Now when I think of those days, I can still feel the excitement and the disappointment each day brought.  Finally, 'peace' dawned in the form of a posting to Kanpur, and I was ecstatic. Life in the 'paltan' was full of fun because we had a wonderful crowd. Setting up a home in our two-room quarter boosted my spirits, until one fine winter evening, my husband announced that he was leaving for some firing or something the very next day. I recall the tears that wouldn't stop flowing. Poor hubby didn't know how to handle them. Help came in the form of a senior officer's wife, who understood that my tears were not only for the impending separation but also for the lack of another quilt to keep me warm at night. An offer for quilts and moving into the neighbour's spare bedroom was made but I chose to go home to my mother instead.  My 'maika' remained a great support even during our next posting. I was seven months pregnant with our first child when we reached Udhampur one fine afternoon, only to be told that the officer was slated to go for some firing for about two weeks the very next morning. I realised the ubiquitous connection between my husband's firing expeditions and my parents' welcoming arms; and off I went to my 'maika' once again. In those days traveling was not as easy as it is now, but that is another story…  The third posting to Dehradun coincided with our younger son's birth. Within two weeks of our arrival at the Indian Military Academy (IMA), the junior decided to pop out, even though it was the P.O.P (passing out parade :- the famous commissioning parade) time. Poor chap didn't know how busy his dad was going to be at that time. Four days after his birth, when we were discharged from the hospital, I boarded the IMA bus with the baby in one hand and the suitcase in another. The hubby dear was surprised to see us, as he was just taking off in an ambulance to bring us home. I have a feeling that he was secretly relieved and proud of his independent wife!  By now, I was a mother of two, who had understood that God helps those who help themselves; and that was the beginning of a new empowered me. I handled everything from children's immunisations to their college education; from household budget to stock market investments; and everything in between.  Today, after 26 years of married life, when I look back, I see the distance I have travelled. The best thing that ever happened to me was marrying an infantry officer. Frequent separations (and I didn't run off to the 'maika' anymore), challenges of single-handedly parenting two growing up boys, and the modern pace of life saw me blossoming from a simple small town girl to an efficient army wife.  Over the years, I have grown exponentially and a lot of credit goes to our infantry way of life. Now, the separations have become few and far between. Children have flown the nest. I have more time to develop my hitherto dormant skills, and life feels wonderful.  When I look at the young brides of today, and hear their cribs about the husbands not being there when they need them, I think of my own self at that age. Little do these young girls know that these are the times that will strengthen them for life. I have tried saying it in that many words but have realized the futility of imparting wisdom before its time. In my heart of hearts I know that these very girls will one day share their stories of triumphant and empowerment, courtesy the infantry way of life.  Moving from place to place, adjusting in all kinds of accommodations, queuing up for children's school admissions, not being able to reach the near and dear ones when required etc build a character that is made of steel and yet carries a rare compassion for others in similar situations.  Things have changed a lot during these 26 years; both in the army and in the general way of life. Cell phones have not only lessened our dependence on the postman, but also made a mockery of the distance; hence, separation is not that unbearable as it used to be in our days. Infantry battalions have more light vehicles and all officers own four wheelers, so new born babies don't arrive home in a bus or a three ton.  But all said and done, there is no challenge greater and more fulfilling than being an infantry wife. The camaraderie of an infantry paltan, the feeling of being in a home away from home, the strong bonds between friends, and of course, the growth that comes from a life lived to the fullest, can't be described in words.  The field-peace-field tenures make us infantry wives stronger in all respects, and that is our triumph, our glory, and our victory. And, how can I forget the children? They are the biggest beneficiaries of this nomadic life. Moving from place to place, they learn the important skill of being able to adjust under all circumstances. Going to ten schools in twelve years makes them learn how to prove themselves time and again, not only to their teachers but also to themselves. They also learn how to make friends easily and yet not get too attached to them. Of course, communication and soft skills come easily to all 'fauji' kids, and infantry kids are no exception! In our case, the satisfaction of parenting two successful boys has made life all the better!  Today I am 52 but haven't lost the stars in my eyes and the spring in my walk…Thank you, Infantry.


Dhoni to don ranks of Lieutenant Colonel on Tuesday

New Delhi: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra will don the olive green uniform and be conferred the rank of honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army on Tuesday.  The Defence Ministry had decided to confer the rank of honorary Lt Col on the duo for their contribution in the field of cricket and shooting respectively, and their commitment to the Army on various occasions.  "On November 1, the two officers are scheduled to be granted the rank of honorary Lt Col in the Territorial Army," Army officials told PTI here.  Dhoni led India to World Cup victory earlier this year and was instrumental in taking the team to the No. 1 spot in Test rankings for the first time ever.  Bindra had won the only individual Olympic gold medal for India at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.  Both these sportspersons have joined the ranks of senior cricketers - Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar - who have been conferred with honorary ranks in the armed forces.  Kapil Dev is a honorary Lt Col in the Territorial Army, while Tendulkar is an honorary Group Captain in the Indian Air Force.  The Defence Ministry has also cleared a proposal to fly Dhoni and Tendulkar in IAF's frontline Su-30MKI fighter aircraft at the Lohegaon airbase.


China and India at War: Study Contemplates Conflict Between Asian Giants  Read more:

There are plenty of reasons why China and India won't go to war. The two Asian giants hope to reach $100 billion in annual bilateral trade by 2015. Peace and stability are watchwords for both nations' rise on the world stage. Yet tensions between the neighbors seem inescapable: they face each other across a heavily militarized nearly 4,000km-long border and are increasingly competing against each other in a scramble for natural resources around the world. Indian fears over Chinese projects along the Indian Ocean rim were matched recently by Beijing's ire over growing Indian interests in the South China Sea, a body of water China controversially claims as its exclusive territorial sphere of influence. Despite the sense of optimism and ambition that drives these two states, which comprise between them nearly a third of humanity, the legacy of the brief 1962 Sino-Indian war (a humiliating blow for India) still smolders nearly five decades later.  And it's alive on the pages of a new policy report issued by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, an independent think tank that is affiliated with India's Ministry of Defense. "A Consideration of Sino-Indian Conflict" is hardly a hawkish tract — it advocates "war avoidance" — but, by spelling out a few concrete scenarios of how conflict may look between the two countries, it reveals the palpable lack of trust on the part of strategists both in New Delhi and Beijing. The report applauds long-term Indian efforts underway to beef up defenses along the Chinese border, but warns that Beijing may still take action:      In future, India could be subject to China's hegemonic attention. Since India would be better prepared by then, China may instead wish to set India back now by a preventive war. This means current day preparedness is as essential as preparation for the future. A [defeat] now will have as severe political costs, internally and externally, as it had back in 1962; for, as then, India is yet again contemplating a global role.  While a lot of recent media attention has focused on the likelihood of Sino-Indian clashes at sea, the IDSA report keeps its scope trained along the traditional, glacial Himalayan land boundary, referred to in wonkish parlance as the LAC, the Line of Actual Control. Since the 1962 war, China and India have yet to formally resolve longstanding disputes over vast stretches of territory along this line. Those disputes have resurfaced noticeably in recent years, with China making unprecedented noises, much to the alarm of New Delhi, over its historical claims to the entirety of the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh — what the Chinese deem "Southern Tibet." The Chinese even rebuked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for having the audacity of visiting the Indian state during local elections in 2009.  Not surprisingly, it's in this remote corner of the world that many suspect a war could kick off, particularly around the historic Tibetan monastery town of Tawang. India has reinforced its position in Arunachal with more boots on the ground, new missile defenses and some of the Indian air force's best strike craft, new Russian-made Su-30 fighters. After decades of focusing its army west against perennial threat Pakistan, India is tacitly realigning its military east to face the long-term challenge of China.  The report speculates that China could make a targeted territorial grab, "for example, a bid to take Tawang." Further west along the LAC, another flashpoint lies in Kashmir. China controls a piece of largely uninhabited territory known as Aksai Chin that it captured during the 1962 war. Indian press frequently publish alarmist stories about Chinese incursions from Aksai Chin and elsewhere, playing up the scale of Chinese investment in strategic infrastructure on its side of the border in stark contrast to the seeming lethargy of Indian planners. Part of what fuels the anxiety in New Delhi, as the report notes, is the threat of coordinated action between China and Pakistan — an alliance built largely out of years of mutual antipathy toward India. In one mooted scenario, Pakistan, either with its own forces or terrorist, insurgent proxies, would "make diversionary moves" across the blood-stained Siachen glacier or Kargil, site of the last Indo-Pakistani war in 1999, while a Chinese offensive strikes further east along the border.  Of course, such table-top board game maneuvers have little purchase in present geo-politics. Direct, provocative action suits no player in the region, particularly when there's the specter of American power — a curious absence in the IDSA report — hovering on the sidelines. Intriguingly, the report seems to dismiss the notion that China and India would clash in what others would consider obvious hotspots for rivalry; it says the landlocked Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan would likely be treated as a neutral "Switzerland", while Nepal, a country of 40 million that entertains both Beijing and New Delhi's patronage, is more or less assured that neither of its big neighbors would risk violating its sovereignty in the event of war.  Moreover, the IDSA seems to rule out either side encouraging or deploying proxies in more clandestine struggles against the other. The restive border regions on both sides of the LAC are home to resentful minority populations and more than a few insurgent factions. India and China — unlike Pakistan — have little precedent in abetting militant groups and strategists on both sides would be wary of fanning flames of rebellion that no one can put out.  Yet what seems to stoke Sino-Indian military tensions — and grim prophecies of conflict — are precisely these feelings of vulnerability. The uncertainties posed by both countries' astonishing economic growth, the lack of clear communication and trust between Beijing and New Delhi and the strong nationalism underlying both Indian and Chinese public opinion could unsettle the uneasy status quo that now exists. Managing all this is a task for wooly-heads in New Delhi and Beijing. But don't be surprised if more reports like this one come out, drawing lines on the battlefield.  Read more:


Infantry Day celebrated by Pather Infantry Division

AMRITSAR : Panther Infantry Division celebrated the 64th 'Infantry Day' on October 27th 2011. On this occasion a solemn wreath-laying ceremony was organized at the Dograi War Memorial located at Khasa Military Station. Wreaths were laid at the war memorial by Officiating General Officer Commanding, Panther Division, Commander Dograi Brigade and other senior officers, as also two minute silence was observed in reverence of all those valiant Infantrymen, who sacrificed their live for the nation.  It was on this day in 1947, that the first Indian Army unit, 1 SIKH, was airlifted to the besieged Kashmir valley, just in time to save the Srinagar airfield from falling into enemy hands. Being the first day of the first post-independence operation launched by the Infantry, the day is observed as 'Infantry Day' as reminder to all Infantrymen of their unparalleled saga of grit and valour. An army spokesperson informed that Infantry, the prime arm of the Indian Army is replete with the glorious history of warfare over centuries. It has brought laurels to the nation, in all the four wars that India has fought post-independence in 1962, 1965, 1971, OP Vijay (Kargil) in 1999 and Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka.  He further informed that with their dedication and professionalism , Infantry had earned that respect and admiration of their counterparts, the world over. Besides guarding the nation's frontiers over sixty three years of its turbulent history, Indian Infantry battalions had performed creditably in internal security, counter-insurgency and UN peace keeping operations added he




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