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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.

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