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Sunday, 15 January 2012

From Today's Papers - 15 Jan 2012
All the Chief's Men: Quotas rule promotions in a “Mandalised” army
These NDA cadets are all equal when they start. But not so when they become officers in various arms. Skewed promotion policies will give many of them an unfair edge over the others

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 14th Jan 12

A recent letter, boldly written by a serving lieutenant colonel to the army chief, General V K Singh says: “PROFESSIONAL DISCRIMINATION is upgrading (sic) into SOCIAL DISCRIMINATION. The formidable INDIAN ARMY is developing cracks. What the enemy would have loved to foster, is happening on its own.”

Says a senior officer of the mechanised forces who was recently promoted, but sees equally competent compatriots being overtaken by lesser officers: “The Indian army has been effectively Mandalised. The traditional meritocracy of senior rank has given way to a shoddy system of quotas that is placing unconfident and incompetent officers to command troops in battle.”

* * *

People sometimes wonder what drives soldiers in the face of death. The answer, surprisingly, is not patriotism, religion, discipline, bloodlust, or a quest for glory. Instead, most soldiers affirm that a shared brotherhood with their comrades is what drives them through mortal danger. The ones who die do so in the belief that death is better than besmirching the legacy of their unit or sub-unit.

“Soldiers live and die for the name of their unit alone,” says Brigadier Virendar Singh who led the assault on the 21,000-feet-high Bana Post above the Siachen Glacier in 1987, one of India’s most stirring military exploits.

Reflecting this philosophy, combat units are structured around the regimental system. Combat arms, which include the infantry (foot soldiers) and the armoured corps (tank men), are all organised into regiments or groups. These include legends like the Gurkha regiment, the Sikh Light Infantry and the Brigade of Guards. The armoured corps has a plethora of famous regiments like 4 Horse, Skinner’s Horse, and 3rd Cavalry.

Officers and jawans go straight from initial training into their unit, a tightly-bonded fraternity of 550 to 800 men. For the duration of their field service, they serve with that same unit, imbibing its ethos and character. Their uniform bears its distinctive symbols — cap badges, shoulder titles, belts, flashes and lanyards — which reaffirm their identity. They soak in, and revel in, their unit’s history, its battle honours and the personalities that it produced.

But the iron framework of the regimental system has now morphed into a monster that is ripping apart the fabric of the army as a whole. The legitimate aim of the regimental system — galvanising esprit de corps in combat units — has been short-sightedly extended into the competition for promotions and postings. Over the preceding decade, a string of army chiefs from two arms — the infantry and the artillery — have fiddled with promotion policies to boost the career prospects of officers from their arms. But every winner also creates a loser in the zero-sum contest to fill a very limited number of promotion vacancies. The losers in this divisive move are the armoured corps and the mechanised infantry, arms that have traditionally produced a high share of the army’s generals. Also on the losing side are combat support arms like the engineers and signals and the logistical services that sustain the combat soldiers.

The tool that has unfairly boosted the prospects of infantry and artillery officers is referred to within the army as “pro-rata” — a Mandal-Commission-style directive that guarantees each arm a fixed number of promotion vacancies, regardless of merit. Pro-rata began in 2002 under an artillery chief, General S Padmanabhan, and was consolidated by his successors: General N C Vij (infantry), General J J Singh (infantry) and General Deepak Kapoor (artillery). In 2009, when General Kapoor was the army chief, this institutionally-debilitating move was translated into formal policy.

Pro-rata rejects the widely accepted belief that senior rank must be awarded on merit, not on quota. Senior officers hold on to their regimental links, which get translated at senior rank into patrimonial ties.

Consider the appointments made by the current army chief, General Singh, from his Rajput Regiment. While Singh has been a relatively fair chief, he has posted officers from the regiment to practically every crucial appointment: the deputy chief of army staff, the director general of military operations, the adjutant general (responsible for discipline and manpower planning), the military secretary who posts and promotes officers, and the additional director general of administration & coordination. In addition, Rajput officers were placed at the head of key formations around Delhi: the Delhi Area which controls military installations around the capital, and the Meerut-based 22 Infantry Division.

* * *

Institutionalising the pro-rata system is letter number 08176/Est/POLICY/MP-2 issued by the adjutant general’s branch (Business Standard has a copy). It effectively allocates to each arm a fixed number of vacancies at the rank of colonel, which is the first selection-grade rank in the army when officers command their battalions/regiments, the basic combat unit with 550 to 800 soldiers. The colonel’s vacancies for each arm are calculated by simply adding up the number of units in that arm. For example, the army has about 350 infantry battalions and 60 armoured regiments.

That is where the Machiavellian fiddle starts. Added to the infantry kitty are some 110 units of Rashtriya Rifles (RR) and Assam Rifles (AR) located in counter-insurgency areas and manned by officers from every arm. Though an internal army study has found that non-infantry officers perform as gallantly as infantry officers in RR/AR, exclusionary conditions were fram-ed to make it almost impossible for armoured corps or mechanised infantry officers to command these units. With this one step, the infantry’s colonel vacancies went up from 350 to 460, a jump of almost 30 per cent.

But that was just the start; this advantage was then multiplied by differentiating command tenures for each arm. The shorter the command tenure, the more quickly the vacancies would arise, and the larger the number of colonels that would be needed from that arm. The infantry, unsurprisingly, got the shortest command tenure of just two-and-a-half years. A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that with 460 colonels needed every two-and-a-half years, the infantry must promote some 184 colonels every year.

The influence of two artillery chiefs boosted the number of artillery units. Small units called “light batteries” with less than 300 soldiers, that were always commanded by lieutenant colonels, were elevated to “light regiments” commanded by colonels. The artillery’s command tenure was shortened from three-and-a-half to three years, similarly boosting its colonel vacancies. And departing radically from established military tradition, in which there are just two combat arms — the armoured corps and the infantry — the artillery was effectively promoted from a “combat support arm” to a combat arm. “How can the artillery be designated as a combat arm? They lob shells from tens of kilometres away and rarely encounter the enemy. Of the combat support arms, the engineers have a much better case for being called a combat arm,” says a retired infantry general who prefers to remain unnamed.

The engineers and the signals, the other two combat support arms, were sharply pegged back with their command tenures fixed at four years — a 33 per cent disadvantage to the artillery. The logistics services were discriminated against even more radically, with command tenures fixed at five years. “We would not go to war as Arms/Supporting arms… but as Indian army. ‘The command based model’ expect us (sic) to be fragmented in peace and united in war,” says the lieutenant colonel’s letter to General Singh.

The quotas of colonel vacancies are merely the tip of the iceberg. Beyond this first level of “Mandalisation” are quotas for brigadier rank, which are proportional to the benchmark that was created with colonel vacancies. Another set of quotas has been created in key career courses like the higher command course (for colonels) and the year-long National Defence College course (for brigadiers), both of which are almost mandatory for promotion. An armoured corps or mechanised infantry brigadier, for example, would be lucky to become a major general without doing the NDC course. By restricting the armoured corps and mechanised infantry vacancies in each NDC course to just two each, an annual quota of promotion to major general is effectively applied.

An armoured corps major general explains how this works: “I was subjected four times to quotas. One, while being promoted to colonel; two, for nomination to the higher command course; three, when I was promoted to brigadier; and four, when I was nominated to the NDC.” Says a young infantry lieutenant colonel: “Promotion prospects are 50 per cent higher in the infantry; so why should anyone join the mechanised infantry?”

* * *

“It will all work out even in the long run,” says a senior infantry officer. “Less qualified officers from the infantry and artillery are benefiting today, but it could be the armoured corps that benefits tomorrow.” This glosses over the basic truth: quotas benefit only the incompetent, whether from one arm or another.

Pro-rata proponents admit that meritocracy is desirable but is, in fact, impossible. They suggest that armoured corps and mechanised infantry officers serve in their own environment where patronage networks operate and even average officers are graded outstanding, tilting the promotion playing field in their favour. This argument overlooks the fact that infantry officers, operating in their own environment, similarly have fellow infantrymen all the way up the reporting chains.

General Singh denies there’s any problem. “Pro-rata is a myth created by people who don’t understand the system. A bandwidth (of merit) has been laid down, and all those who are meritorious are taken care of (i.e. promoted). Show me a man who was meritorious, but was not promoted.”

But the defence ministry does not share his sanguinity. So concerned is it at the army’s promotion methodology that it has held up for months the promotion of a set of major generals, while the army answers questions about various anomalies. The result: there is currently no lieutenant general to command the frontline 9 Corps on the Pakistan border, and there’s nobody to relieve the commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt Gen Ata Hasnain, who has completed his tenure. In contrast to these promotion delays, navy and air force promotion boards, which adhere to fair and well-documented rules, are normally cleared by the ministry within 15 to 20 days.

General Singh blames the current delay on “letters, comments and private confabulations” between lobbyists and the ministry. “Our boards couldn’t have been fairer. There was transparency and absolute fairness.”

Old soldiers are surprised that the infantry and artillery chiefs could implement pro-rata without a consensus within the army. When the matter was discussed in an army commanders’ conference, the army’s highest forum, a respected mechanised infantry officer, Lt Gen H S Panag, thumped the table and asked whether the next step would be to appoint the army chief through quotas!

There is a growing belief across sections of the army, reflected in the lieutenant colonel’s recent letter, that the cohesiveness of the officer corps hangs in the balance. Mid-ranking officers suggest that realistic feedback be sought from the entire spectrum of officers through a direct medium like the army intranet. But the degree of resentment is perhaps not understood in the ivory towers from where the army is run.
Gilani softens, but Kayani wants further climb-down
l PM says armed forces are a ‘pillar of nation's resilience and strength’
l Army chief insists on withdrawal of statements critical of military

Islamabad, January 14
Embattled Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani tonight appeared to reach out to the army but the powerful Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is reported to have adopted a tough stance and wants withdrawal of his statements critical of the military.

With Kayani by his side, Gilani said today that all state institutions will be allowed to play their role, remarks seen as an attempt to resolve the tense stand-off between the civilian government and the military.

He described the armed forces as a "pillar of nation's resilience and strength" and lauded their services in the defence of the country.

"It has been my government's policy to allow and enable all state institutions to play their role in their respective domains for the common good of the people.

"It is this desire to set good and healthy democratic traditions that has enabled us to seek strength from Parliament, which is the hallmark of a democratic government," Gilani said at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee of Defence attended by his ministers and top army officials, including Kayani.

The Prime Minister's seemingly conciliatory remarks came on a day when Kayani met President Asif Ali Zardari at the Presidency, in the midst of a tense stand-off between the military and the government over a move purportedly on behalf of Zardari seeking US help to avert an army coup.

There was no official word on the hour-long meeting but media reports said that Kayani told Zardari that he had reservations over Gilani's criticism of him and the ISI chief over replies submitted to the Supreme Court regarding the memo scandal.

Kayanai reportedly requested the President to direct Gilani to "retract" his statements criticising the chiefs of army and the ISI chief. The situation was further aggravated by the summary sacking of Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, Defence Secretary, considered close to Kayani over an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court without consulting the government.

The apex court will on Monday hear the case relating to National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that was promulgated during former President Pervez Musharraf's tenure that gave amnesty to Zardari and many others in graft cases.

The National Assembly, lower house of Parliament, will also meet on Monday to vote on a resolution moved by a ruling coalition member seeking strengthening of democratic institutions.

Media reports said that during his meeting with Zardari, Kayani requested the President to tell Gilani to "retract" his statements criticising the chiefs of army and the ISI.

There was no official word on what transpired in the hour-long meeting.

In his speech today, Gilani said, "National unity is the need of the hour. Democracy provides avenues to forge national consensus.

"Each organ and state institution has to play its due role, within its respective domain, to bring forth the best in promoting Pakistan’s national interest." At the same time, he pointed out that civil institutions "have their due role to play for socio-economic development and for ensuring progress and prosperity".

He said: "Together in complete harmony with each other and other vital institutions, we can change the country's destiny and accord its rightful place in the comity of nations." — PTI
India, China to hold border talks on January 16-17
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, January 14
The Special Representatives (SRs) of India and China will meet here on January 16-17 to hold the 15th round of boundary talks, it was officially announced here today. An agreement on setting up a joint mechanism on border management is expected to be signed at the end of two day-talks between the two sides.

The mechanism will comprise senior officials of the foreign and defence ministries of the two countries as well as representatives of the armed forces.

The Indian side will be led by National Security Adviser (NSA) Shivshanker Menon while the Chinese team will be headed at the talks by state councillor Dai Bingguo.

"In addition to discussions on the India-China boundary question, the two sides will hold discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest," the External Affairs Ministry said.

Ahead of the talks, Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yan expressed optimism about the outcome of the meeting. “People-to-people contacts will be further expanded. I am confident that with joint efforts, we will take the strategic partnership to new heights,” he said at a function at the Chinese Embassy here.

The talks between the two SRs were to be held on November 28-29, 2011 but were postponed after the Chinese protested against the Dalai Lama's scheduled participation in a global Buddhist conclave.

The Chinese are first said to have asked for the Dalai Lama's address to the meet to be cancelled and when New Delhi refused to oblige, they demanded that the event itself be cancelled.

However, New Delhi unequivocally conveyed to Beijing that India was a democratic country and there was no restriction on freedom of speech here. Hence, China's demand could not be met.

The SR mechanism was established in 2003 when the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Beijing.
Experts rule out military takeover in Pakistan
Uncertainty could affect the dialogue process with India
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

Ashfaq Parvez Kayani New Delhi, January 14
Amid an open confrontation between the all-powerful Pakistan Army and the civilian government, India has chosen to remain quiet on the developments in the neighbouring country.

However, it is quite obvious to New Delhi that the growing uncertainty in Pakistan could also affect the bilateral dialogue process that was revived less than a year back after painstaking efforts by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The feud between the army and the government is taking place at a time when the economy is in tailspin and even Pakistan's key allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have refused to bail it out on the oil and gas front by extending the credit limit period. A wave of terrorism has engulfed the country even as the situation remains grim in the Af-Pak region.

These are reasons which may compel the army to remain in barracks and not indulge in any misadventure like taking over the reins of the administration. The army is also still smarting from the operation carried out by US forces to kill Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad in May last year. It still needs time to restore its image as the saviour of Pakistan among the people.

However, it is quite obvious to New Delhi that the growing uncertainty in Pakistan could also hit the bilateral dialogue process that was revived less than a year back after painstaking efforts by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani.

India's main worry is about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear assets. The fear of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal falling into wrong hands in the event of an escalation in the government-army conflict has come to haunt the Indian establishment again.

Strategic experts, meanwhile, rule out the possibility of an army takeover in Pakistan at this juncture.

Former National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra said it was good that India had not uttered a word on the developments in Pakistan. He said it was an internal matter of Pakistan and "my advice to all Indians is to remain quiet." He also noted that none of the major world powers, including the US, had made a categorical comment on the happenings in Pakistan apart from making general statements. He also doubted if the army would be interested in takeover in Pakistan at this stage.

Former Foreign Secretary Shashank said it would be very difficult for the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and its coalition partners in the ruling dispensation to remain united after the recent developments.

He said a military takeover was highly unlikely at this stage. He was of the view that the judiciary must not be emasculated in the ongoing feud between the civilian leadership and the army.

''What we are witnessing in Pakistan is the evolution of democracy though it is taking it's own time. Hopefully, it will survive,'' Shashank added.

Former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarthy said there was no need for the army to take over since it was confident that with the cooperation of Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry, it could oust the government and force an early election.
Debris of World War II US aircraft found

Agartala, January 14
Fragments of a US military aircraft, used during World War II, have been recovered in northern Tripura 66 years after it crashed, defence sources said here on Saturday.

"After more than 66 years of being considered unrecoverable by many, the remnants of an American aircraft, C-47B, which crashed during World War-II, were recovered by a team of 34th Battalion of the Assam Rifles last week in northern Tripura," an Army official told IANS.

The remains of the aircraft were found at the remote tribal village of Birmani Para in Dhalai district in northern Tripura, 125 km north of state capital Agartala.

The official said, "A series of search operations had been launched since September last year to find out the crash site in the thick and dense forests of all three hill ridges of northern Tripura — Baramura, Atharamura and Longtrai. Finally, our troopers achieved success last week."

The Army official said that during World War II (1939-1945), the Allied forces lost hundreds of aircraft in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theatre of operations. — IANS
Governments in Pakistan have been too diffident or too clumsy while dealing with the military
General (Retd) V P Malik

South Asia analyst Stephen Philip Cohen has always found Pakistan both ‘interesting and alarming’. In his book ‘The Idea of Pakistan’, he has titled the third chapter ‘The Army’s Pakistan’, and given it priority over the chapters on Political and Islamic Pakistan. The focus of his concern is self evident.

Yousuf Reza Gilani, when appointed Prime Minister, went to call on the Army Chief General Kayani, instead of asking him to visit his office.
Yousuf Reza Gilani, when appointed Prime Minister, went to call on the Army Chief General Kayani, instead of asking him to visit his office.

In any democratic nation, the constitutional role of the Army is to ensure nation’s external security and provide assistance to civil authority for internal security, without dominating its politics. But when that Army has an unstated, self appointed mission of guarding the domestic order, you can not blame an analyst or a historian in describing it the way Stephen Cohen has done: or calling it a ‘military dominated’ nation.

Pakistan Army remains in control of some key national policies such as nuclear weapons, Afghanistan, J & K, and its hardware procurement. Over the years, it has also developed huge corporate interests and organisational autonomy. It does not allow its democratically elected government to interfere with them. Whenever a civilian government has tried to assert and dilute the Army’s power and control, the former has been booted out through legal or illegal means. So far, no Pakistani political leader has been able to get rid of such a yoke.

Lessons from Kargil

After every election and taking over the Government, the political leaders and even the judiciary, scared of Pakistan Army brass, tend to suck up to them. Even when Pakistan Army commits military and non military blunders, they have tried to cover and shield its leaders and image, never making anyone accountable. But whenever they have tried to assert or encroach upon Pakistan Army’s interests, they act clumsily and hand over the initiative to the Army on a platter. This has been repeated several times in Pakistan’s recent history.

Nawaz Sharief, who claims that he was not aware of General Musharraf’s Kargil plan and action, accompanied Musharraf to Pakistan’s Northern Areas to pacify local Baltis whose family members had been killed in Kargil action and whose dead bodies, Pakistan Army refused to accept from us. He defended Musharraf in public and accompanied him to several military stations.

Later, he tried to get rid of Musharraf in the clumsiest way possible. When Musharraf was returning from an official visit to Sri Lanka, he would not allow his plane to land at Karachi Airport and appointed a new Army Chief who was quite junior and unpopular with the establishment. The result: nine years of Army rule under Musharraf and the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief going to jail and then to exile.

Musharraf’s initiative in Kargil without political approval became Pakistan’s Waterloo from a military-diplomatic viewpoint. Despite a strong demand in the civil society to institute a public inquiry, no political leader has dared to commission such an inquiry.

Army & Gilani

Yousuf Reza Gilani, when appointed Prime Minister, went to call on the Army Chief General Kayani, instead of asking him to visit his office. He tried to place the ISI under civilian control but within 24 hours, he gave in to Kayani’s refusal. He gave Kayani an unheard of three years extension in office and two years extension to the ISI Chief, General Shuja Pasha.

Gilani defended both of them forcefully for the Osamagate in May 2011, the Mumbai incident and ISI’s brutal assassination of Pakistan’s prominent journalist Saleem Shahzad, who tried to investigate links between Pakistan’s military and al Qaeda. And now, by trying to defend President Asif Ali Zardari (Mr Ten Percent!) and Ambassador Hussain Haqqani over the Memogate, and then sacking Kayani’s protégé, Lt Gen Lodhi-the Defense Secretary, who allowed Pakistan Generals to send an independent affidavit on the Memogate directly to the Supreme Court, he has handed over the initiative to the Pakistan Army brass. There is a history here also.


The ISI’s involvement in toppling civil governments, rigging elections, autonomous handling of foreign relations, vigilantism, picking up people and making them disappear is well known in Pakistan. Shuja Nawaz, in his book ‘Crossed Swords’, writes of a sworn affidavit filed by Pakistan’s Defence Secretary in a High Court stating that ‘his ministry had no operational control over the two rogue agencies-ISI and ISPR-and, therefore, was unable to enforce the court’s orders on either agency in matters relating to detentions’.

President Zardari, Pakistan’s Commander-in-Chief, despite his public statements like ‘he does not feel threatened by India’, ‘there will be no support to cross border terrorism’, and that ‘he will approve appointments of all senior military officers’, has never been able to influence Pakistan Army’s policies or appointments.

What is likely to be the endgame in the current face off between Pakistan’s civilian government, its judiciary and its army ?

Despite considerable sheen off its ‘image’, the military retains a fair degree of institutional power, effectiveness and credibility in the current dysfunctional state of Pakistan. It can not afford to lose the battle with Gilani and Company as that could lead to erosion of its autonomy, and exposure of many skeletons in its cupboard.

But it is unlikely to indulge in a direct coup due to legal hassles, strong opposition from the Supreme Court, political parties and the media. Instead, it will try to make the position of the civilian government, led by Pakistan Peoples’ Party, untenable through legal means, break up of its coalition structure, and prompt more adverse exposure over ‘Memogate’ and corruption cases against President Zardari.

‘There is no alternative for Pakistan but to move towards more democracy and less Army to prevent it from becoming a pariah state’ writes Ahmad Rashid in his book Descent into Chaos. That is a far cry at the moment.

( The writer is a former Chief of Army Staff)
Army, ISI must also account for the mess
It is known that the military calls the shots in Pakistan. They must also answer some inconvenient questions
Abbas Nasir
ISI Chief: unaccountable?

“Questions about the ISI`s role in Pakistan have intensified in recent months. The finger of responsibility in many otherwise inexplicable attacks has often pointed to a shadowy outfit of ISI dubbed `S-Wing`, which is said to be dedicated to promoting the dubious agenda of a narrow group of nationalists, who believe only they can protect Pakistan`s territorial integrity.

`ISI embodies the scourge of radicalism that has become a cornerstone of Pakistan`s foreign policy. The time has come for America to take the lead in shutting down the political and financial support that sustains an organ of the Pakistani state that undermines global anti -terrorism efforts at every turn.”

Had anyone read the quoted paragraphs in an influential western publication, wouldn`t he have expected the ISPR (Inter-Services Public Relations Directorate) to issue a strongly worded rebuttal that decried the writing as inspired to undermine a key national security institution ? Had the writer been in Pakistan, perhaps his fate may not have been very different to Saleem Shahzad`s: life squeezed out brutally.

We have all rightly slammed the government for its poor governance record, for presiding over a mess in each and every public-sector corporation, for the energy crisis, for inept handling of the economy And for all other faults.


My grouse with the government is on totally different grounds. It has pandered to the military so spinelessly that GHQ now appears to expect the Moon and doesn`t seem to be in the mood to settle for (anything) less.

The government defended the military leadership at every turn. It asked no questions at the ease with which the militants breached security at GHQ and Mehran base or how the US was able to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan.

The government placed only itself in the cross-hair of all critics of the US drone attacks on Pakistani soil. Few paused to reflect who was in charge, when this policy was initiated and who has quietly acquiesced to it. What is it, including extensions and funds, that`s been denied the Pakistan army?

The ISPR (Inter-Service Public Relations) can issue a statement on the Kerry-Lugar bill; it can contradict the Prime Minister on a phone conversation between the President and the Army Chief and it can warn the country`s chief executive that his statement (that) the (Army) chief may have acted illegally can have `serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences` for the country.

But why can`t it issue a statement explaining why the drone attacks are necessary or asking the government permission to intercept and shoot down the drones ? Neither will it issue a statement turning down extensions to its leaders by a `corrupt, treacherous and inept` government.

The army isn`t doing so probably because it is looking forward to the `constitutional and legal` removal of an elected government and moving towards fresh elections.

`We should look for the kind of people we have in the forces who have made the nuclear weapon … these people must be brought forward in the elections,` a very profound former air vice marshal told at a TV discussion.

Only free and fair elections at regular intervals ensure a process in which discredited or under-performing leaders/parties are sifted out of the system. Nothing else works.

But who`ll bell the cat? Tell those currently engaged in consigning the current `corrupt` lot to history, that long after they have done so, the world will still be asking the same questions as raised so eloquently by one Mansoor Ijaz in the three quoted paras ( at the beginning).
‘In terms of manpower, the Indian Army is ageing’
On the occasion of Army Day, former Army Chief Gen. V.P. Malik says that the current method of civilian control over the military leaves much to be desired. He also tells Sridhar Kumaraswami that grouping all strike corps under a strategic command is not a good idea.

Given the current threat perceptions, do you think we need more soldiers/officers in our 1.1-million strong Army? And which weapon systems do you think need to be inducted?

In any force, the quality of men, weapons and equipment is more important than quantity. Force levels are reviewed every five years, along with threats/challenges, strategies, weapons and equipment profiles, and the likely nature of combat.

In terms of manpower, the Indian Army is ageing and getting bloated. We must guard against that while restructuring it with greater attention to mountain warfare. Shortage of young officers must be made-up soon.
In the coming years, we need to build greater surveillance (satellite, aerial and ground- level), night fighting and rapid deployment capabilities, particularly for mountains. We need improved C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) surveillance equipment, more helicopters, ultra-light howitzers and lighter infantry weapons and equipment.

The Chinese Army gives signs of preparing to operate through PoK — do you see it as a synergy of potentially hostile neighbours, necessitating re-evaluation of our threat perceptions, even military
doctrine? Do you think that the Indian Army is capable of fighting a two-front war? And to what extent will raising a mountain corps and two independent brigades in the eastern sector deter China?

In the foreseeable future, I cannot see India becoming capable of fighting a two-front war. Such an eventuality must be avoided diplomatically. However, the scenario cannot be ruled out in Gilgit-Baltistan and we must prepare ourselves for it.
Considering the likely nature of any future conflict with China, and inadequate infrastructure for force deployment, I do not subscribe to the raising of a conventional mountain corps. Instead, we should go for division-size combat commands with rapid deployment capability which can be re-grouped when required.

Do you foresee India developing operating coalitions with any countries?

No. A nation of India’s size, stature and potential can and should play an independent role and cooperate or compete on issues with other nations depending on its national interests. India cannot afford to let go of its strategic
As Ashley Tellis put it once, “Given its size, history and ambitions, India will always march to the beat of its own drummer.”

The posture and doctrine of the Army in independent India has been one of defending the country’s sovereignty. In the foreseeable future should the Indian Army acquire a force- projection function?

Our strategic and operational planning, and doctrines, have become “reactive”. We have conveyed an impression of being a soft state with a very high level of tolerance/threshold. The reactive strategic culture has contributed to erosion of deterrence capability. In the current strategic environment, there is a need for the armed forces to possess “reactive” as well as “pro-active” and force- projection capability, which can be implemented at short notice.

While it is a given that in democratic India, the Army should be under civilian control, is there a case in your view for bridging the civilian-military divide by incorporating the military as an integral component of national strategic planning, including determining and refining doctrinal issues?

Despite recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee — which were accepted by the government — the Services headquarters are not integrated with the ministry of defence. Instead, in what can be considered bureaucratic sophistry, the nomenclature has been changed, without much change in the functioning and the rules of business.
India is the only democratic country where civilian control over the military in almost all defence matters is exercised by the political leadership through the civilian bureaucracy. Its adverse impact on defence planning, preparedness and military morale has increased. We see this discrepancy in its worst form today when respectable and time-honoured service institutions are belittled publicly. There is inadequate synergy in national security, defence planning and operational conduct.
Encouraging a timid military may be good for the civilian ego but does not make good strategic sense.
We need to ask: Do our civilian authorities demonstrate critical understanding of larger strategic issues, constraints, effects and implications of strategic and operational employment and its institutional conduct? Are they fully conversant with military purposes, capabilities, constraints and effects? Does our military demonstrate critical and creative understanding of the strategic purposes, contributions and consequences of military operational employment and institutional conduct? Does it demonstrate a willingness to speak up and, when necessary, speak out, especially in opposition to strategically flawed policies and initiatives? Are the civilian authorities who oversee the military adequately competent in matters of military strategy?
India’s national security framework, and its antiquated civil-military relationship, have not moved in step with the needs of new security challenges. It is essential that we change attitudes and look beyond narrow boundaries defined by turf and parochialism.

How do you see questions relating to “jointness” — building capacity for the Army, Navy, Air Force to operate in an integrated fashion to secure strategic objectives?

Defence policy and planning have to be based on the collective influence and potential of the defence forces and not that of any one Service. At the politico-military level, we have to cater for incremental as well as hammer-blow responses. We have to think in terms of integrated capabilities for optimum utilisation and effect of military power. Synergy can be ensured only when our war fighting goals, resources and techniques are harmonised by a joint-services doctrine. This requires maximum possible compatibility of equipment, particularly communications equipment. Jointmanship is not only the most efficient way to fight but will help overcome growing budget issues such as reducing overheads while preserving deployable combat-force structure.

The institution of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has been talked about for a decade. Do you think we have got along fine without the CDS, or do we,in the context of a rapidly changing security environment, need a single-point funnel for military advice to the government?

The appointment of a CDS is essential to provide single-point military advice to the government; to exercise administrative management of strategic forces; to ensure intra- and inter-service prioritisation of perspective and current defence plans; to facilitate improvement in jointness among the armed forces; to improve uniformity of training and reduce overlap and replication in the three services; and to synergise operational planning and its

How do you assess the transformation process that the Army is undergoing? What do you make of the proposal to group all strike corps under one strategic command?

“Force transformation” was coined, and the process commenced, by US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2003. The US military wanted to adopt the capabilities-based model of projection and re-orient its force structure to create a light and agile force for rapid deployment. Two essential requirements of force transformation are political guidance and support and jointness that allows effective integration of combat capabilities of the three services. A service chief in India has little interaction with the political leadership, and hardly any authority on procurement matters. Jointness amongst the services exists only in name.
Grouping all strike corps under a strategic command is not a good idea. Such a centralised control of assets that requires speedy deployment is not in line with modern military thinking.

In what ways can a career in the Army be made more attractive? Does this require more cash incentives or just better parity with the civilian services?

Three requirements, in order of priority, are, (a) improved promotion prospects with a golden handshake early-retirement policy; (b) improved civil-military services parity; and (c) greater respect for soldiers and ex-servicemen from the government and society. We need to revisit terms and conditions of service that were framed in a different socio-economic milieu many years ago.
Kin-less, eunuchs good for Army: Arunachal CM aide
An advisor to Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki has sought a separate regiment in the Army for eunuchs, writing to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defence and the Planning Commission that they can serve the country better.

Confirming that he had sent a proposal to the Centre, Tako Dabi said: “Since eunuchs do not have families or any other emotional baggage, they will prove better warriors... Given a chance they will be better than a sepoy in the Indian Army.”

A state government spokesperson holding a ministerial rank, Dabi sent the proposal six months ago, when he was the Arunachal home minister.

“This is a way of bringing eunuchs into the mainstream. They can check goondagardi also if brought into the police, can prove better traffic managers too. Because of their build and height, they can be on VVIP duty,” said Dabi.

With the Centre yet to act, Dabi is planning to meet Union Home Minister P Chidambaram soon.

Asked if he had ever worked with eunuchs, Dabi said: “I have observed them silently in railway compartments and at traffic signals.”

'Army able to launch faster response against Pakistan'
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi January 13, 2012, 0:53 IST

Army chief, General V K Singh, on Thursday strongly defended the Indian Army’s performance over last year, but chose to keep mum when it came to questions about his date of birth that has currently become a matter of raging controversy.

Addressing a press conference here, Gen Singh asserted that a standoff it had with the defence ministry has “not impacted my vision for the army”. He highlighted the army’s achievements, making a mention of the eight officers and 57 soldiers who died in counter-insurgency operations last year.
Talking to the media in the run-up to Army Day on January 15, Gen Singh declined comment on the ongoing civil-military crisis in Pakistan. However, he outlined the continuing terror threat from the neighbouring country. “There are 42 terrorist camps, some in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, some in other areas”, he noted. They “continue to pump in well-armed, well-trained, foreign and other terrorists” into Jammu and Kashmir.

In contrast, Gen Singh was notably diplomatic about Beijing, referring to “friendly relations” that invariably adhered to the 1993 Agreement on Peace and Tranquillity between India and China. He glossed over an incident incident in July last year, when a Chinese People’s Liberation Army patrol entered Indian territory at Yangtse near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, and damaged a 200-foot-long wall that Indian soldiers had constructed.

“We consider it a childish act. It is just like scoring a point, like one child coming and taking away another child’s toy,” he said, referring to this incident that Defence Minister A K Antony later described in Parliament — on December 21.

Gen Singh came closer than any other government official, while describing the widely speculated Indian warfighting doctrine popularly referred to as “Cold Start”. “There is nothing like Cold Start. But we have a ‘proactive strategy’ which takes steps in a proactive manner so that we can achieve what our doctrines and strategies (demand),” he said.

This doctrine learns from Operation Parakram, when the military mobilised for war against Pakistan after the terror strike on the Parliament in New Delhi on December 13, 2001.

After taking weeks to reach its launch pads along the border, India’s military found Pakistan’s forces deployed and ready for battle. The new doctrine allegedly aims at launching attacks without prolonged mobilisation.

Gen Singh noted that “a lot of changes” had taken place since 2001. “In the next two years, even more changes will take place. We have done studies and made a plan to speed up deployments. We will have some new cantonments, forward locations…and changes in the method of mobilisation. From Parakram, there are a lot of changes. What we did in 15 days, we now do in seven; and will do in three days in the future,” he explained.

About India’s military relations with Myanmar, Gen Singh said he aimed at assuaging hurt feelings amongst small regional countries about an Indian neglect.

He said, “Some small countries think we don’t take them along [with us]. I wanted to reassure them that we respect them…no matter how small.”

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