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Friday, 3 February 2012

From Today's Papers - 03 Feb 2012
Army fails to carry out MoD’s order
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
A day before the Supreme Court hears the Army Chief’s petition on the age row, sources confirmed that the Adjutant General’s branch — the official record keeper of the Army — has not yet acted on the advice of the Ministry of Defence to reconcile the date of birth (DoB) of General VK Singh.

The ministry on January 23 asked the AG branch to maintain the General’s DoB as May 10, 1950 and not May 10, 1951, as claimed by the Army Chief.

Sources said today the AG Branch has expressed its inability to correct the DoB and asked the MoD how a correction could be made. There is no precedent to correct the DoB when the matter has been pending before the highest court of the land, sources added.

The Army Chief tonight met Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the chief troubleshooter of the UPA. The Army Chief arrived in civilian clothes and used a private car to travel. The meeting lasted more than an hour at Mukherjee’s office.

With the Army Chief’s petition being listed before the Supreme Court tomorrow, there is hardly any time for the MoD to reply to the AG branch. In case the MoD sees the AG’s move as defiance, the ministry has the authority to haul up officials, who have not carried out its orders.

The latest development may snowball as the MoD in its directive of January 23 asked the AG branch to “strictly” comply with the order dated July 21, 2011, and also sought a compliance report at the earliest.

The letter said, “Now that the statutory complaint stands disposed and the redressal sought by General VK Singh has not been granted…. Gen VK Singh’s officially recognised date of birth will continue to remain May 10, 1950, and there are no grounds for interfering with the impugned order dated July 21, 2011.”

On July 21, 2011, the defence ministry had decided the issue and fixed May 10, 1950, as the Army Chief’s date of birth.
Army chief meets Pranab Mukherjee ahead of Supreme Court date

Read more at:
New Delhi:  Army chief General VK Singh met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday evening, provoking murmurs that a compromise was in the offing between the General and the government. Sources told NDTV that while both sides were keen to find a solution to the impasse, no breakthrough was made.

Interestingly, General Singh did not drive up in his official Army vehicle.

The Supreme Court will today hear General Singh's petition against the government. The Army chief wants the court to decide on his age. He says he was born in 1951, the Army says that the records it must follow list his age as 1950.

He has become the first serving Army chief to take the government to court. A truce would save both the military and the government more public embarrassment. A solution, sources say, may emerge with the government accepting on record that the General has not misrepresented his age. In exchange, he may withdraw his case.

The problem lies in the fact that documents with the army list both 1950 and1 951 as his date of birth.  Earlier this week, the Ministry of Defence ordered the army's record-keeper, the Adjutant General, to amend all records to uniformly show 1950 for the General's birth date.  The Ministry of Defence says that several big promotions for General Singh, including his elevation to Army Chief, used 1950 in the calculations to establish his seniority.

The General says he has tried on different occasions to have his records corrected.  He has said in his petition that his tenure can only be decided by the government.  Though he does not explicitly refer to his term, if 1951 were accepted as his year of birth, he would be eligible for another year in office.

Read more at:
Army defies age revision order
- General meets Pranab before SC date
VK Singh (top), Pranab Mukherjee

New Delhi, Feb. 2: The army has practically refused to implement last week’s order from the defence ministry to change the date of birth of its chief, General V.K. Singh, in its official personnel records.

The unprecedented case, army chief versus the Union of India, is scheduled to come up before a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court tomorrow.

Late this evening, the army chief met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. Singh, who was not in uniform, drove to the minister’s North Block office in a private car.

In reply to a question later, Mukherjee refused to comment on the meeting. “The matter is in the court,” he said.

There are efforts to control the damage that the unparalleled case might cause to the institutional framework of civil-military relations.

The adjutant general’s branch of army headquarters is understood to have replied to the defence ministry on Wednesday asking how it could change the date of birth of the army chief from May 10, 1951, to May 10, 1950, in its records, something it has never done by executive fiat.

Last week, six days after Gen. Singh sued the government over his date of birth, the ministry had ordered the change.

The Telegraph had reported that the army is set to defy the order.

In its order forwarded to the adjutant general’s branch, the military secretariat and the controller general of defence accounts, the ministry asked all to reflect in their records that Gen. Singh was born on May 10, 1950, and not on May 10, 1951, implying that the chief’s tenure ends on May 31 this year.

The ministry’s memo, titled “Propriety — Change of Service Record”, emphasised the urgency of its order. It asked the adjutant general to refer to its note of July 21, 2011, “for guidance and strict compliance without any further loss of time and a compliance report be sent to this ministry (defence) at the earliest”.

The adjutant general’s branch has always reflected May 10, 1951, as the chief’s date of birth based on his school-leaving certificate since the time he was commissioned as an officer in 1970. The defence ministry has gone by the records in the military secretariat, which is responsible for promotions and postings, that insists Singh’s birth year is 1950.

A source in the army said the adjutant general’s branch has pointed out that all documents and records of the chief had been submitted to the ministry.

Depending on the attitude the government takes, the ministry could construe this to be “insubordination” or “defiance” by the adjutant general.

Earlier this week, defence minister A.K. Antony had said that now that the case was with the Supreme Court, he would rely on the decision of the judiciary.

The army chief’s case is scheduled to be heard in the apex court tomorrow by a bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and H.L. Gokhale. Singh is likely to be represented by a legal team comprising Ram Jethmalani, Uday U. Lalit and Puneet Bali.

The army chief has sought a stay on the government’s rejection of his statutory complaint and “consequential reliefs”.

Singh will be entitled to a 10-month extension of service, should the court accept his plea. He is due to retire on May 31, this year, according to the government.

His tenure will decide who the chief's baton will pass to next — eastern army commander Lt Gen. Bikram Singh, northern army commander Lt Gen. K.T. Parnaik or to some other army commander.
Small enterprises can collaborate in defence sector: Ex-army chief
Kolkata: Stating that India lacked the industrial capability to manufacture high-end and high-tech equipment for defence requirements, a former army chief on Thursday called for enhanced collaboration among smaller enterprises in the defence sector.

"We do not possess the capability to produce high-end and high tech defence equipment which has affected our indigenous competency and we largely depend upon imports," General (retd.) Shankar Roychowdhury said.

Roychowdhury who was speaking at a programme on prospects of medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) in doing business with the defence sector, said the smaller units must come together and collaborate to increase their manufacturing capabilities.
Small enterprises can collaborate in defence sector: Ex-army chief

"There is a need to consolidate our approach. The MSMEs must collaborate to reap the benefits of joint efforts. The need is a mass base industry of suitable quality and quantity," said Roychowdhury.

West Bengal Small Industries Development Corporation chairman Sabyasachi Bagchi urged the MSMEs to go for collaboration with the corporation.

"We are here for extending support and promotion of small scale industries in the state. We urge the MSMEs to forge collaboration so that we can work jointly towards a greater future," said Bagchi.
India and its Hybrid War
Going by the definition of Hybrid Warfare, what we witnessed in 1971 was the preparation, provocation and successful execution of a first rate Hybrid War.

The 40th anniversary of the Bangladesh Liberation War passed by in the middle of December. As ever it was an occasion to reminisce independent India’s greatest military success. Most of the writing and recollecting, therefore, remained confined to the positive aspects of the campaign.

What we heard was the purely conventional story as has been repeatedly told — from Mrs Indira Gandhi’s directive to General Sam  Maneckshaw and his legendary refusal to initiate hostilities prematurely, to how the Pakistani Army persisted with digging itself into a hole that it found surrounded by the Indian Army on December 16, 1971. Various individual acts of brilliance and bravery were also recounted. Since times are changing, the sailing of the US  Navy’s Seventh Fleet into the Bay of Bengal found lesser space than in previous years. But that is par for the course.

Some of the more discerning comments were about how India managed a superb manoeuvre campaign. Instead of attacking conventionally, which it did initially, the Army bypassed dug-in Pakistani troops to get to the centre of gravity, Dhaka. Army-Air Force synergy came into play at this stage, and some suitably praised it, for it was exemplary. The mobility of the Indian military mind stood out in stark contrast to the Pakistani Army’s reactive and confused state of thinking.

But that was only to be expected since the perpetrator of atrocities and the harbinger of freedom carry with them contrasting manuals of perceptions. The preconceived assessment of India’s actions had already been made by the sheer scale of the Pakistani Army’s brutality. It was a cake walk in the battle of global opinion polls. In the euphoria of analysis it is not surprising that two aspects of the Bangladesh Liberation War get short shrift.

It was, for starters, a just war in the global perception stakes. Not since World War II was it possible to define good and bad in terms as clearly as it was in the weeks and months running up to December 1971. The villain and the vanquisher had been determined long before the first shot was fired. This was as much on account of Pakistan’s villainy as it was on India playing the perception management game.

Which then leads on to the second aspect of the war that has gotten short shrift thus far. It still remains an unanswered query, but which begs asking. Did India do everything in its abilities to ensure hostilities happened? Was Indian policy designed to trigger a war, or was it really a sleeping neighbour roused to goodness by the scale of cruelty heaped on East Pakistan? Did Pakistan simply walk into a mate prepared by the brilliance of India’s manoeuvres on the global chess board?

Asking questions in this direction does not take away from Pakistan’s perfidy toward its own people, and it doesn’t take away the goodness from India’s actions. India as the initiator of conflict does not become the villain. What it does is to lead us to the crux of the second aspect of the war that has gotten short shrift. Did India in 1971 predate the 21st century global fixation with Hybrid Warfare? Going simply by the prevailing definitions of Hybrid Warfare, it is possible to credit India with the preparation, provocation and successful execution of a first rate Hybrid War.

Military analysts around the democratic world have been poring over writing, training, conflicts, skirmishes, and evolving ideologies to arrive at a greater understanding of the nature of Hybrid Warfare. It is regarded as the greatest threat to the global order of things. The genesis of this fascination lies in a Beijing pamphlet credited to two officers of the People’s Liberation Army and mischievously titled ‘Unrestricted Warfare’. It created a storm when published in the late-1990s.

The concept of Hybrid Warfare was thus born, and in the last decade it has moved from concept papers in high brow military journals, to seminar rooms, to possible field training manuals. India recently conducted its first brain storming session on Hybrid Warfare in a closed-door seminar at the prestigious Army War College in Mhow. The attendees included serving and retired officers, military and civilian. Organised and hosted by the Army War College, the seminar represents India’s first attempt at understanding this phenomenon. Little wonder that the initiative was taken by the Army War College, doyen of military thought and teaching in India.

The widely accepted definition of Hybrid Warfare is credited to its most avid analyst, retired United States Marine Corps officer Frank Hoffman. Writing in Conflict in the 21st century: The Rise of Hybrid Wars, published by the Potomac Institute of Policy Studies, Hoffman states, “Hybrid threats incorporate a full range of different modes of warfare, including conventional capabilities, irregular tactics and formations, terrorist acts, including indiscriminate violence and coercion, and criminal disorder.

Hybrid Wars can be conducted by both state and a variety of non-state actors. These multi-modal activities can be conducted by separate units, or even by the same unit, but are generally operationally and tactically directed and coordinated within the main battlespace to achieve synergistic effects in the physical and psychological dimensions of conflict. The effects can be gained at all levels of war.”

The global benchmark of a hybrid campaign is currently regarded to be that of the Lebanese Hizbullah in 2006 when it succeeded in halting and overturning Israel’s incursion into south Lebanon. Panelists and participants at the Army War College seminar did allude to a Hizbullah scenario in the future, but there was mention too of India in 1971. In fact one of the participants brought out points from Kautilya that could easily be taken as preparations for a Hybrid War.

Going by the myriad of actions and activities that constitute Hybrid Warfare, there is no doubt aspects of it did exist in the mind and thinking of Kautilya. Just as there is no doubt that what India conducted in 1971 was not merely a war in the conventional sense of the word, but a hybrid campaign that covered almost all aspects as highlighted by Hoffman. India prepared for the campaign physically as well.

But lessons from the conduct of the Pakistani Army are equally important. They serve to highlight the mind as the centre of gravity, in every aspect of warfare. As the Commandant of Army War College, Lt Gen Anil Chait, said, “The Army that rejects seminal thinkers, deprives itself of innovative ideas and intellectual self renewal. It will ultimately become a defeated Army, vanquished in the wake of foes who adapt more wisely and quickly, to the ever-evolving art and science of war.”
Old weapons, new threats fuel India's military build-up

By Giles Hewitt (AFP)
NEW DELHI — India's planned purchase of 126 fighters from France's Dassault marks the latest stage in a huge military procurement cycle that has turned the world's largest democracy into its biggest arms importer.

The final Dassault contract is expected to be worth $12 billion and India is preparing further big ticket purchases over the coming years, including of helicopters and artillery.

In a report to be published next week, Jane's Defence Weekly forecasts that India's aggregate defence procurement spending between 2011 and 2015 will top $100 billion.

What is less clear -- and the subject of some heated debate -- is why New Delhi is so hungry for costly modern weaponry and where the country's strategic priorities lie.

Some argue that India is simply playing catch-up and using its growing economic wealth to effect a pragmatic, and long overdue, overhaul of a military arsenal still loaded with near-obsolete, Soviet-era hardware.

But others sense a more combative impulse, driven by the military modernisation efforts of its rivals and neighbours Pakistan and China, as well as the need to secure energy resources and supply lines outside its borders.

In testimony Tuesday to a Senate Select Committee, the director of US national intelligence, James Clapper, said India was increasingly concerned about China's posture on their disputed border and the wider South Asia region.

"The Indian military is strengthening its forces in preparation to fight a limited conflict along the disputed border, and is working to balance Chinese power projection in the Indian Ocean," Clapper said.

In order to secure the modern weaponry it needs to buttress its defence imperatives, India has little choice but to spend big in the global arms market.

Its long-stated ambition of sourcing 70 percent of defence equipment from the home market has been hampered by weak domestic production -- the result of the stifling impact of excessive bureaucracy.

Consequently, statistics from the Ministry of Defence show that India still imports 70 percent of its defence hardware.

"Where India has had some success is in joint ventures, and building foreign equipment under license," said James Hardy, Asia Pacific analyst at Jane's -- a respected industry publication.

"The licensed production route seems to be working and at this point in India's development is a good way of overcoming the bureaucratic challenges of indigenous production."

The proposed contract with Dassault envisages the purchase of 18 Rafale aircraft, with the remaining 108 to be built in India.

India's need for a multi-combat fighter is, in part, based on its geographical size which spans several operational theatres with wildly varying topographies.

"The aircraft they have just get worn out," said Hardy. "They want aircraft that can fly, land and take off anywhere from the Himalayas to the deserts of Rajasthan."

While the Indian Army has traditionally taken the lion's share of the national procurement budget, the focus has begun to shift in recent years toward the air force and navy.

In December, Russia handed over a nuclear-powered attack submarine to India on a 10-year lease -- a deal greeted with alarm and anger by Pakistan.

The Akula II class craft is the first nuclear-powered submarine to be operated by India since it decommissioned its last Soviet-built vessel in 1991.

India is currently completing the development of its own Arihant-class nuclear-powered submarine and the Russian delivery is expected to help crews train for the domestic vessel's introduction into service next year.

India is particularly keen to strengthen its maritime capabilities, given China's pursuit of a powerful "blue water" navy which Delhi sees as a threat to key shipping routes in the Indian Ocean and Indian energy assets in the South China Sea.

But many Indian observers reject suggestions that India is even thinking of getting into an arms race with China.

"The Chinese have a huge, huge lead. They are in a different league," said strategic analyst Uday Bhaskar.

"The gap in conventional terms and WMD (weapons of mass destruction) is so wide in China's favour, that it's just not valid to say India is trying to catch up or seek any kind of equivalence.

"India is simply seeking what it sees as a level of self-sufficiency, and is being constrained by its modest outlay and a decision-making process that drives everyone up the wall. That's why we top of the list of arms-importing nations," Bhaskar said.

China, meanwhile, seems content to gently mock what the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, in December described as the "persecution mania" driving India's military modernisation.

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