Fierce contest for aircraft deal
Tribune News Service New Delhi, November 4 The Defence Ministry today opened the commercial bids of the two fighter aircraft companies that are in the race to supply 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) to the Indian Air Force. Sources said the two bidders — European Consortium’s Eurofighter Typoon and French firm Dasssault’s Rafale — are running neck and neck in the race for the multi-billion dollar deal. The cost difference between the two companies is ‘marginal’ when seen in the context of the overall cost of the tender that is more than Rs 42,000 crore. Also, on broad parameters like per unit cost, engine costs, maintenance costs and operating costs, there isn’t much difference between the two. “The Contract Negotiations Committee (CNC) of the Defence Ministry opened the commercial bids and read out the offers made by the Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale in the presence of their representatives. Now, the ministry will evaluate and examine their proposals and it will take another 6-8 weeks to finalise the name of the lowest bidder,” said Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar. As per the Defence Procurement procedure (DPP), the bidder charging lowest price and meeting all the requirements specified in the tender has to be offered the contract. The ministry will now start calculating the Life Cycle Cost (LCC) of the two aircraft, which is to be operated for 40 years or 6,000 hours, said the spokesperson. Final commercial negotiations with the L-1 vendor (lowest bidder) will begin before the contract is ready for signing before the end of this fiscal. The government had earmarked Rs 42,000 crore for the deal in 2007 but after the negotiations, if it is required, the funds can be increased significantly. Decks were cleared for opening the commercial bids after the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister AK Antony, approved the offsets evaluation reports of the Eurofighter Typhoon (backed by UK, Germany, Spain and Italy) and the French Rafale jets on October 7.
The Mythology of Cold Start
A small group of lawmakers gathered last month in Pakistan’s army headquarters, where the country’s head of military operations, Maj. Gen. Ashfaq Nadeem, stiffened their resolve about the threat from India. He warned of one Indian capability in particular: India’s Cold Start army doctrine. Cold Start is Rawalpindi’s favorite bogeyman. But what is it? In the words of a cable released by Wikileaks, it is “a mixture of myth and reality.” As I argue in a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Strategic Studies, it tells us a little about the aspirations of Indian officers, but a lot about the fears — real, imagined and contrived — of their Pakistani counterparts. To understand Cold Start, It’s worth thinking about how India’s military thinking has evolved in the nuclear age. India has won nearly every war it has fought against Pakistan. Perhaps that’s why nuclear weapons have always gnawed at the Indian army, long before either country got the bomb. Senior officers thought long and hard about how Pakistan’s nuclear program would blunt India’s superiority in numbers. Pakistan already had its ways of needling India. Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, poured fuel onto the flames of the Kashmir insurgency which began at the end of the 1980s. India’s generals could only fume. Then came Kargil, a brazen but limited strike across the line of control, in 1999. If Pakistan could launch such an offensive, asked the top brass, couldn’t India do the same? After exploding five nuclear bombs in 1998, didn’t Delhi have its own shield from behind which it could parry the many blows of Islamabad’s covert war? That logic was tested in 2002. The militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba precipitated an international crisis by assaulting India’s Parliament. New Delhi rushed to respond. A million men were mobilized by both sides and India spent $2 billion. Eight hundred soldiers died in accidents and skirmishes — making the exercise deadlier than Kargil, an actual war. A year later, India slunk back, having extracted some desultory and quickly reversed promises by then-President Pervez Musharraf to curb terrorism. The army, whose lower ranks were apoplectic at being held back, made a simple diagnosis. India had taken too long to move its ponderous strike corps from the country’s heartland to the front line. As the weeks passed, the international community built up a crescendo of calls for restraint, and the element of surprise was lost. Moreover, this was still the army that had cut Pakistan in half in 1971. It was trained to thrust toward the Indus and throw the enemy off balance. But in the nuclear age, that sort of total victory was so reckless as to become impossible. Maj. Gen. D.K. Palit, one of the few soldier-scholars in the history of the Indian Army, once noted that wars between India and Pakistan resembled “communal riots with armor.” The challenge in the nuclear age was to keep them like that. So the army had to become suppler, quicker to rise (hence “Cold Start”), nimbler on its feet, less of a hatchet and more of a scalpel. It was reorganized into eight so-called “battle groups,” modeled on old Israeli and Soviet formations. Each would punch into Pakistan at unpredictable points, but to a much shallower depth and therefore below the imagined nuclear threshold. Only if war could be limited, went this argument, could it be credibly threatened. In Pakistan, these efforts were taken as evidence of Indian perfidy. But the irony is that India would struggle to carry out anything as clinical and swift as Cold Start. Its army faces basic problems of nuclear strategy, politics and basic readiness. What would India do, for example, if Pakistan used nuclear weapons to attack advancing Indian forces? India, despite its avowed promise to retaliate to any nuclear strike, is unlikely to incinerate Islamabad in return for an attack on its tanks. But the deeper issue has nothing to do with Pakistan and everything to do with India’s political DNA. Unlike in Pakistan, where the military casts a long shadow over civilian leaders, Indian civilians don’t trust their military to handle nukes as war-fighting instruments. And even without this nuclear shadow, civilians are unwilling to green-light an army doctrine that could spiral beyond their control in a crisis. They are frightened of what AJP Taylor said of war in 1914: “imposed on the statesmen of Europe by railway timetables.” As a Pakistani naval officer hinted last week, Pakistan’s generals have fallen into the simplest of cognitive traps — mirror-imaging — by assuming that the Indian Army’s plans are automatically national policy. Indeed, in India the army is kept on a leash tighter than that of nearly any democratic country. Is this ambiguity a good thing for India, if it leaves Pakistan guessing? Cold Start has been a public relations disaster for India, allowing Pakistani officials to paint India as a jingoistic bully. Yet even if the taciturn Manmohan Singh was in a jingoistic mood, not everything would go smoothly. The Indian Army developed Cold Start on its own, so it’s no surprise that the Air Force — which would prefer strategic bombing to close air support, but whose role is essential to the battle group concept — considers the whole thing “a concept dead at inception.” There’s more. When the cabinet mulled over retaliatory options after the Mumbai attacks of November 2008, the “poor state of the armory” was a serious constraint. For example, the army only acquired a third of necessary tanks between 2002 and 2007. Ammunition holdings are way below necessary levels, and there’s a shortage of more than 10,0000 officers. This mess can’t be laid at the generals’ feet, since these failures are mostly rooted in essentially political pathologies — such as civilian apathy toward strategic affairs and a dysfunctional procurement system. None of this means that a military offensive is necessarily the ideal response to a terrorist act, or that India lacks options altogether. No Indian government could survive another serious attack traced to Pakistan unless it responded robustly. But the mythologies of Cold Start — the embellishment of India’s efforts to keep fighting communal riots with armor — is the product of a strange interplay between an Indian Army still striving for relevance in the nuclear milieu, and a Pakistani military establishment that sees the ghosts of 1971 lurking over the plains and mountains of Sindh, Punjab and Kashmir.
Lt Colonel who laid down the law for the entire army...
NAGPUR: Lt Colonel Fredrick Da Gama Rose (90), a resident of Clarke Town, was laid to rest in a quiet funeral on Tuesday with a couple of men in uniform among those laying a wreath on the grave. The Lt Col was a little known person in the city, but the army knew him as no less than a General. His work remains inscribed as the codes of military law of the country. Starting off as a young officer in the Royal Navy during World War II, Rose decoded encrypted signals of the Germans. Later, he drafted the military law for wartime after independence. When India conquered some parts of Pakistan in the western sector during the 1971 war, it was Rose who drafted the code for administering the territories under occupation and trying the prisoners of war (POW). Known as one of stalwarts of the army's judge advocate general (JAG) branch - the department which conducts court martials, his solutions to the most difficult of problems are often quoted as a reference today, say those in military law circles. As a tribute to Rose, Colonel Inder Sen Singh, Commandant of Institute of Military Law was also present at the funeral. IML, located at Kamptee, is the only institute of its kind in Asia, and trains JAG officers. Rose was a contemporary of the oldest surviving Judge Advocate Generals, Brigadier DM Sen and Major General AB Gorthy. He joined the Royal Navy during 1942 as a wartime entry and was posted at Mumbai. "His job was to decode encrypted radio messages of the enemy," remembers his son Colonel Carl D Gama Rose. His other two sons are in the army too. Fredrick D Gama and Gerd D Gama are army officers of the rank of Brigadier and Colonel respectively. The wartime units were disbanded in 1948, and after a brief gap Rose joined the JAG branch of Indian Army in the 1950s. He retired in 1965 and settled in Nagpur, but rejoined the army in 1971, said Carl D Gama. Rose, who had qualified for the Indian Revenue Service joined the department resisting the lure of high civil services, records the book on the history of the JAG. The 1971 war was also an important event as it led to the compilation of provisions of Geneva Convention in a book form. It contained the procedure to be followed by military courts while disposing of various offences committed by Pakistani military personnel in Indian prisoners of war (POW) camps. Rose's contribution was stupendous in this effort, says the record. "The Indian army had also taken some parts of Pakistan in the western sector. Such areas are administered under the martial law. It was Rose who drafted many ordinances for administering those territories during that time," remembered Gorthy. Rose had left the service in between, but joined under the re-employment scheme in 1971 and remained for a year or two. Had he not left earlier, he would have become a JAG, reaching the rank of Major General, Gorthy said. His family members also remember Rose for handling the famous Kawas Nanavati case of 1959, in which a Naval officer had shot dead his wife's paramour. However, officials in the JAG could not confirm this, since they said the case was heard in the civil courts.
All 3 Service chiefs ask for more say in security decisions, MoD
Pitching strongly for a greater say for the armed forces in national security decisions, the three service chiefs have separately told the high-level task force on national security that they would like military officers with domain knowledge to be posted as joint secretaries and directors in the defence ministry. The chiefs have also demanded the creation of separate departments of army, navy and air force in the ministry for greater clarity in the rules of business, it is learnt. As of now, the four departments under the ministry are defence, defence production, defence research and ex-servicemen welfare. Also, under the current rules, the defence secretary’s office is responsible for the defence of India — not the armed forces. The chiefs, who made separate presentations before the task force headed by former cabinet secretary Naresh Chandra, asked for the rules to be changed. They also said that the government should move forward on creating the office of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) only after its specific role has been decided.
The renewed pitch for “genuine integration” before the task force flows from a letter that Air Chief Marshal P V Naik had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before his retirement in July. Writing in his capacity as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Air Chief Marshal Naik had told the PM that the armed forces did not feel part of the decision-making process. He had pointed out that the three services had been reduced to merely sending proposals to the defence ministry, where a fresh file would be created after discussions among bureaucrats. The file would rarely return to the armed forces for comments or inputs.
MFN status to India: Army not part of India trade equation: Gilani
LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: The prime minister’s message to those looking towards the army regarding the move to grant India a symbolic trading status is simple: it’s none of the military’s business. Speaking to reporters at his residence in Lahore on Friday, Yousaf Raza Gilani said the most favoured nation (MFN) issue does not involve the army, and stressed that only the business communities and stock exchanges of Pakistan and India are legitimate stakeholders – and both are on board, as are the political parties of the ruling coalition. He said that the cabinet has, in principle, given the go-ahead to the ministry of commerce to negotiate with their Indian counterparts. However, notwithstanding the PM’s firm stance, senior civil and military officials held meetings at the foreign ministry to discuss the implications of granting MFN status to India. The meetings were chaired by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and attended by military and intelligence officials. The foreign ministry did not divulge details regarding the participants. “As part of regular consultations, the foreign minister today consulted all stakeholders on foreign policy issues including the resumed dialogue process with India, at the foreign ministry,” said a ministry statement. In Lahore, Gilani concentrated on the commerce ministry’s role as Pakistan and India begin the nitty-gritty of negotiations. The PM said the ministry would need to take important decisions independently when it comes to bargaining with India over trade policy, hence it had sought the cabinet’s go-ahead. Pakistan has already bestowed MFN status on more than 100 countries. The somewhat misleading designation ‘most favoured nation’ should not detract from the main concern which lies ahead for the two countries: working out mutually beneficial and lasting agreements. While the MFN status will remove discriminatory higher pricing and duty tariffs that stand as barriers to export between the neighbours, non-tariff barriers continue to stand in the way of increased trade, say analysts. Nevertheless, the meetings in Islamabad prove that Pakistan’s military cannot be totally ignored. Indeed, the consultations took place against the backdrop of murmurs that Pakistan might review its decision to fully normalise trade ties with India. In a clear departure from a decades-old policy, the federal cabinet on Wednesday unanimously decided to grant India MFN status. Since then, mixed signals emerged from different government quarters about the issue. A Reuters report, which quoted an unnamed Indian official accusing Pakistan of backtracking, added to the confusion. Pakistan moved swiftly to dismiss the claim. “Pakistan is not backtracking,” Foreign Office spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua told Reuters. “Pakistan clearly stated that our cabinet gave approval to move forward on MFN status in principle.” Commerce Secretary Zafar Mehmood was also adamant that the deal was still on. “The cabinet has given approval for the complete normalisation of the trade relationship, and MFN is fully included in it and it is part of it,” Zafar said in comments broadcast on state television. “We are extremely hopeful that there will be a major breakthrough in the next round of commerce secretaries’ meetings on November 14, 15 in Delhi,” Mehmood added. “We will finalise all the details in that meeting.” Gilani was in an equally positive mood. Asked whether all stakeholders are on board, the PM said that the coalition government is united on the issue. The PM was quick to reassure those threatened by granting India the trade status, saying that the interests of local and domestic industry would be protected. Gilani also affirmed the cabinet’s executive powers. “We can brief Parliament over the cabinet’s decision of going ahead with MFN, but according to my point of view it is not necessary. Only cabinet approval is necessary to negotiate with other countries,” he said. Giving an example of countries which had set aside political difference for bilateral foreign trade, Gilani pointed to China and India. Friday’s intrigues came ahead of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Maldives next week. Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh are likely to meet on the sidelines of the conference.
Jawan charred to death
WARANGAL: In a bizarre incident at Chinnapendyal railway station in Warangal district on Thursday, an Indian army jawan was charred to death, while another jawan suffered 60 per cent burns following an electric shock. Mohd Hafeez, 32, who was standing in a jeep which was being carried in a wagon of a goods train, came in contact with high-tension electric wires and was charred as high voltage current passed through him. The incident happened when the train made a halt at Chinnapendyal station in Dharmasagar mandal late in the afternoon. The deceased jawan hailed from Jammu and Kashmir.He was part of an Army team, which was travelling towards Barmer in Rajasthan. Sources said the train was forced to halt after a red signal. According to A Ravikumar, Government Railway Police CI, Kazipet, Irshad Ahmed, 30, received 60 per cent burn injuries in the incident. Ahmed, also from Kashmir, was immediately shifted to MGM Hospital in Warangal.