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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

From Today's Papers - 21 Feb 2012
Securing Arunachal a priority, says Antony
Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS

Guwahati, February 20
Defence Minister AK Antony said today that the Centre has accorded ‘topmost priority’ to make the stretch of international border in Arunachal Pradesh secure and non-porous.

Addressing the official celebrations of the 26th Statehood Day of Arunachal Pradesh in Itanagar, Antony underlined the need for speeding up various infrastructure development projects in the frontier state.

Arunachal shares over 1,680 km of international boundary with three countries, of which 1,080 km is with China.

“The importance of a secure, non-porous international border must continue to be the topmost priority. It is our collective duty to ensure that our border areas are as developed as any other part of the country. Proposals by the state government to provide connectivity and other infrastructure facilities to the border areas will be definitely given a serious consideration (by the Centre),” Antony said.

He laid stress on accelerated implementation of the on-going road construction projects in the strategically important state, including the Trans-Arunachal Highway, particularly the Tezpur (in Assam)- Tawang (close to China border) sector where the Border Roads Organisation alone had executed work worth Rs 2,900 crore.

Antony also said the eight Advanced Landing Grounds in the state should be made operational as early as possible and would be made open for use by civil aircrafts too.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, in a memorandum to the Defence Minister, today demanded clearing a slew of projects, including connectivity to 22 hitherto unconnected administrative centres, and construction of foot-suspension bridges, log bridges and porter tracks in those areas.
MoD appeal against AFT contrary to Chief’s decision
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, February 20
The appeal filed by the Ministry of Defence in the Supreme Court against the orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal enhancing the war injury pension of former Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi appears to be contrary to the legal advice rendered on the issue by Army Headquarters and directions thereon of the Army Chief as well as the directives issued by the Ministry of Law.

Besides Lt Gen Oberoi, the issue of pension rationalisation affects an estimated 2,000 cases that have been decided in favour of disabled soldiers by the High Courts and the Armed Forces, sources said. Information obtained under the Right to Information Act reveals that in Lt Gen Oberoi’s case the decision not to file an appeal was taken by the Army Chief on August 20, 2011. The same decision was also taken in similar cases.

The Department of Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare in the MoD fled the appeal despite the fact that the point of law in the matter has already been settled by the Apex Court in two cases in 2011, KJS Buttar Vs UOI and UOI Vs Paramjit Singh. Further, the law ministry had last year, in an effort to reduce the litigation burden, issued directives that appeals are not to be filed in cases where the legal position has been settled by earlier judgements, lawyers dealing with service matters said.

To off-set medical subjectivity, rigidity and mistakes of medical boards, the Fifth Pay Commission had introduced the concept of “broad-banding” disability percentages for calculation of disability pension wherein it was provided that disabilities up to 50 per cent would be considered as 50 per cent for purposes of computation, those between 50-75 per cent would be treated as 75 per cent and above this would be taken as 100 per cent. This was considered imperative since different medical boards were granting varied percentages for similar disabilities leading to errors.

However, while implementing, the MoD extended the policy only to those prematurely invalided from service and not to those who had been granted disability pension on completion of terms or superannuation though the latter were also affected by similar medical subjectivity.

This action of MoD was also considered against rules since defence pensionary provisions provide that all personnel released in low medical category were to be deemed as ‘invalided’ for purposes of disability pension.

The AFT’s Chandigarh Bench had ruled in August 2010 that discrimination between invalided and other low medical category personnel was not justified. This was followed by similar judgements by the Supreme Court in 2011, consequent to which Army HQs and the Chief of the Army Staff had directed that no further appeals were to be filed in the SC on similar matters.
Eurocopter writes to Army Chief over delays in copter deal

New Delhi, February 20
Expressing "concern" over delays in finalising the deal for procuring 197 light helicopters for the defence forces, European defence major Eurocopter has written a letter to Army Chief Gen VK Singh in that regard.

The European Eurocopter AS 350 Fennec is competing with Russian Kamov 226 'Sergei' for supplying these choppers to the Indian Army and Air Force in a project expected to be worth over $ 1.5 billion.

The choppers will be used by the Army and the IAF to replace their aging fleet of vintage Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which are critical for providing supplies to troops deployed in Siachen Glacier and other high-altitude areas.

"We take this opportunity to express our concern regarding the time frame for the very important programme, for which the RFP was issued in July 2008.

"The technical evaluation process has now taken over 38 months and has not yet been concluded due to reasons which are unknown to us," Eurocopter told the Army Chief in the letter, a copy of which is with PTI.

The previous attempt of the armed forces to find a replacement of these choppers could not be successful in 2007 after the Defence Ministry withdrew the tender which Eurocopter had won.

"We hope that this program after so many years will soon be successfully concluded and we would be proud to contribute to the self-reliance of Indian armed forces," it added.

The trials of two helicopters in the race were completed in December 2010 and the Army Aviation Corps (AAC) submitted the trial reports to the Defence Ministry after that.

The report was accepted by the ministry in October last year and was approved by the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) for the project only last month.

Pointing out that it has been supporting Army's Cheetah and Chetak fleet for over 40 years, the European firm said that its helicopter "has undergone extensive trials including the high altitude evaluation at Leh, which were successfully completed in December 2010.

"You may recall that this is the second time that Fennec AS 550 C3 has successfully met all the technical parameters of the RFP having already been shortlisted in 2007," it said. In the letter, Eurocopter claimed that its Fennec chopper is "fully compliant" with requirements of the Army and the IAF.

"It is a military certified and combat proven helicopter and the most powerful version in the Fennec family holding the world record of having landed on Mount Everest in May 2005," it said.

Eurocopter said it produces one helicopter a day in its manufacturing facilities and would be able to meet Indian requirements to supply 197 helicopters in five years if it is awarded the deal.

"As an important point, we wish to highlight that the direct operating cost and direct maintenance cost of Fennec AS 550 is the lowest in its class and would offer a life cycle cost saving of at least 30 per cent over its competitor," it added. — PTI

Replacements for Cheetah, Chetak

l India plans to procure 197 light helicopters for the defence forces. The choppers will be used by the Army and the IAF to replace their aging fleet of vintage Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which are critical for providing supplies to troops deployed in Siachen Glacier and other high-altitude areas

l The European Eurocopter AS 350 Fennec is competing with Russian Kamov 226 'Sergei' for supplying these choppers to the Indian Army and Air Force in a project expected to be worth over $ 1.5 billion

l Eurocpter officials claim that the technical evaluation process has now taken over 38 months and not yet been concluded
Army developing wargame to assist commanders
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, February 20
With counter-terrorism and combat in built-up areas becoming an increasingly significant factor in the security environment, the Army is developing a computer-based wargame to assist commanders in operational planning and training for such operations.

The wargame is envisioned to aid commanders at battalion, company and platoon levels to carry out terrain, task and intelligence analysis, undertake situational assessment and thereafter plan and execute operations.

The project is being undertaken by the Shimla-based Army Training Command (ARTRAC), which is responsible for evolving operational doctrines, training methodologies and developing training aids, including simulators and wargames.

While the ARTRAC as well as the Defence Research and Development Organisation have, over the years, developed a series of computer wargames for convectional warfare, this is stated to be the Army’s first shot at developing a model for counter-terrorist operations. Training in counter-terrorist operations is now no longer confined only to the special forces, but forms an integral part of the curriculum for regular infantry troops.

The new wargame will be based upon maps of the actual area of operations integrated with satellite imagery, aerial photographs and terrain data. Other data to be embedded in the wargame would pertain to intelligence reports and enemy dispositions, weapons and equipment, troop strength, climate, topography and other operational parameters. Inputs from surveillance equipment like battlefield radars, radio interceptors and thermal imagers would also be factored in during analysis of a situation. It will also have the capability for dynamic simulation of friendly forces and terrorists, thereby providing a realistic training environment.

According to Army officers, computer simulation and wargaming is emerging as a powerful and effective tool for evolving plans and contingencies to deal with multi-facet situations while rationalising troop deployment, time and logistic support, and reducing the risk of casualties. Wargames also orient and prepare commanders and field leaders before hand for a host of eventualities that may crop up during combat.

All major armies now use wargames and computer simulations in a big way for operational planning and training. These range from tactical operations to simulating thermo-nuclear attacks on cities.
Defence Diary : Lecture series at Army Institute

The Army Institute of Technology (AIT) has organised a lecture series as part of ‘Techno-Horizon 2012’ in which themes such as Energy Management, Go Green, Entrepreneurship, Global Careers are chosen. In this function, Young Entrepreneurs Award was conferred on Kailash Katkar, founder, Quick Heal Technologies and Anup Tapadia, founder, Touchmagix. Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on S P Ranade, founder director, IT Power India and MITCON by Brig (retd) S K Lahiri on February 17.

In the same series on Tuesday Ganesh Natarajan, vice chairman and CEO, Zensar Technologies and Suhas Baxi, MD and CEO of Demag Cranes will guide students under the programme - A Word from Visionaries. In this program, Lifetime Achievement Award will be conferred to SV Joshi, ex chairman, Nichrome India Ltd at the hands of Natarajan.

NDA cadet shines in shooting competition

Cadet Anshul Bansal a fourth term cadet of the National Defence Academy (NDA) won silver medal in 10 meter Air Pistol junior men’s category at the ongoing XII Kumar Surendra Singh Memorial National Shooting Championship 2012 held in at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, New Delhi from February 11 to 17.

A total of 900 participants took part in this competition. This competition is for those shooters who have shot maximum scoring qualification in the previous National Shooting Championship.

In this category the qualification score for Indian shooting team squad was 565/600. Cadet Anshul shot 570/600 thereby brightening his chances of making it to the Indian National squad.
He had earlier won silver in the Rifle category at the 55th Nationals held at Pune in November said a press release issued by the NDA.

Corps of Signals’ Raising Day

The Corps of Signals, the communications, information technology and the Electronic Warfare arm of the Indian Army, celebrated its 101st Raising Day on February 15.

Since inception on February 15, 1911, the Information Warriors have been in the forefront to meet the fast evolving communications and information technology needs of the Army. From the era of smoke signals and flag signaling to radio and line communications to the satellite and cellular mobile communications era, the Corps has kept pace with the fast changing technological landscape.

The motto of the Corps being “Teevra Chaukas”, Swift and Secure, the Signallers are amongst the first to reach and establish communications, be it wars and Counter Insurgency operations or natural calamities and disaster relief operations, said a press release.

To celebrate the occasion, a function was organised at Rajendra Sinhji Institute.
Battalion bonus on Arunachal birthday
- Series of steps to beef up border state’s infrastructure
Defence minister AK Antony and Arunachal governor JJ Singh at the state’s 25th anniversary celebrations in Itanagar on Monday

New Delhi, Feb. 20: The Centre has decided to raise a second battalion of the Arunachal Scouts, an auxiliary outfit of the army, and increase the spending on forward helipads and landing strips, defence minister A.K. Antony announced today.

The defence minister inaugurated a five-day celebration of 25 years of statehood of Arunachal Pradesh in Itanagar. The raising of the second battalion of the Arunachal Scouts is part of a series of measures to beef up infrastructure in the border state, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Among these are roads to connect 22 administrative centres, foot suspension bridges, porter tracks and supply of potable water in the border areas. These were among the proposals given by the state to the PMO and the Planning Commission, Antony said.

Antony also announced that a National Institute of Mountaineering and Adventure Sports would be set up in Dirang. “This institute would definitely motivate the local youth to take up adventure sports in large numbers,” the official release quoted him as saying.

The defence minister said that because Arunachal was strategically located his ministry would also fund land acquisition to locate the companies of the first battalion of the Arunachal Scouts. Antony said that advanced landing grounds — the forward helipads and landing strips — should be completed early.

He also asked the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), a military outfit, to increase the pace of work on roads in the Tezpur-Tawang sector. The BRO’s work in the last six years in Arunachal had cost nearly Rs 3000 crore, he said.

“But clearly a lot more needs to be done. We have to also keep in mind sentiments of the local people and ensure that their grievances are taken into account and addressed to the extent possible,” he said.
Ajai Shukla: MoD's farewell to welfare
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi Feb 21, 2012, 00:26 IST

In the 1965 conflict with Pakistan, Vijay Oberoi, a young army captain from the Maratha Light Infantry, was shot through the thigh in a gunfight with Pakistani raiders in Kashmir. Bleeding profusely from a severed artery, Oberoi was brought to hospital; his life was saved but his leg amputated. In 2001, Lieutenant General Vijay Oberoi retired as vice-chief of army staff, having soldiered on for 36 years with an artificial leg. He did not receive a paisa extra in ser vice, and the ministry of defence (MoD) challenged his disability pension in the Supreme Court last Friday.

When General Oberoi was released from service, a medical board categorised him as 70 per cent war-disabled, entitling him to a modest pension benefit. But when the Fifth Pay Commission enhanced this to 75 per cent, that is, an increase of five per cent, the MoD flatly refused to pay. The officer approached the Armed Forces Tribunal (the AFT is the apex departmental court for military cases), which in 2010 directed the MoD to pay the enhanced rate. No way, muttered the MoD! Let’s drag on the case.
Ironically, this appeal was filed by the MoD’s Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (or DESW, headed by secretary, ESW). Far from safeguarding the welfare of retired soldiers, sailors and airmen, many of them disabled from battle injuries or the bleak conditions of service, the DESW views its mandate as stonewalling, effectively holding off payment until an ex-serviceman claimant is either dead or broke. Examination reveals the payment of lakhs of taxpayer rupees to pricey lawyers, including the solicitor general, to stonewall the payment of tiny sums to genuinely entitled ex-servicemen. This strategy often brings the DESW uncontested “victory”, since most retired veterans cannot afford the cost of litigation in the Supreme Court.

It has also brought the DESW the moniker of Department of Eternal StoneWalling.

It is not difficult to see why the Supreme Court has backed General Oberoi on the first hearing, rejecting the DESW’s plea for a stay. The Fifth Pay Commission, in order to curtail medical subjectivity in computing disability percentages and to simplify and rationalise disability pensions, introduced the concept of “broad-banding”. All soldiers with up to 50 per cent disability would be paid 50 per cent disability pension; those between 50 and 75 per cent would be paid 75 per cent; and soldiers with 76 per cent or more disability would be regarded as 100 per cent disabled. Instead of welcoming the simplified arrangement, the MoD perversely restricted “broad-banding” only to soldiers who were prematurely invalided out of service, while withholding benefits from those who completed their service. The AFT swiftly rejected this discrimination, as did the Supreme Court in two rulings last year: K J S Buttar versus Union Of India and Union of India versus Paramjit Singh. But the DESW chose to waste the Supreme Court’s time anyway.

With generals treated thus, there is far less welfare for lower ranks. Take the case of “havildars” (sergeants, or three-stripers, the backbone of the army) who are sometimes rewarded with the honorary rank of “naib subedar” on retirement. The Sixth Pay Commission ruled that honorary naib subedars should get the pension for that rank, rather than havildars’ pension, which was the earlier practice. The DESW, however, only implemented it for post-2006 retirees. The AFT, however, extended this benefit to pre-2006 honorary naib subedars, a judgment that the Supreme Court concurred with. Against army advice, the DESW appealed to the Supreme Court. Appearing in the case, the solicitor general, briefed by the DESW, told the court (and this was included in the judgment) that the benefit was only for havildars who obtained honorary rank prior to retirement. In fact, as the DESW knows well, honorary naib subedar rank is only awarded after retirement. The Army headquarter’s plea that this be rectified has been ignored. To this day, honorary naib subedars remain tricked out of their pension by the DESW. What has been achieved except a further erosion of the MoD’s relationship with the military?

Such skullduggery naturally generates litigation; and the DESW is overwhelmed by the work that it creates for itself. Ninety per cent of all court/tribunal judgments that require implementation (and that is only because the DESW has exhausted every conceivable legal recourse) remain pending until the aggrieved ex-serviceman files a contempt or execution petition. This adds to the already groaning table of litigation.

The military has tried fruitlessly to reduce litigation by simplifying policy and by avoiding automatic appeals against adverse judgments. But the DESW has hardly helped. Replies to Right to Information petitions highlight multiple issues that the DESW has not resolved even after the secretary, ESW, has approved the military’s recommendations. Rudderless and besieged, the department tells lies even to Parliament.

The DESW flatly lied to the Rajya Sabha’s Committee on Petitions last December (see its 142nd report) on the issue of enhanced pensions, falsely stating that it was difficult to process the case for One Rank, One Pension (OROP) since defence pensioners’ documents are destroyed after 25 years. This is untrue; para 595 of the Regulations for the Army mandates the destruction of records after 25 years for non-pensioners only. But no action has been taken against the DESW officer who is responsible for lying to a parliamentary committee.

The DESW also lied to the parliamentary standing committee of the 15th Lok Sabha, understating the number of court/tribunal judgments that had not been implemented. It put the figure at 303, blaming the military. In fact, more than 2,500 judgments await implementation.

With MoD-military relations bruised by the conflict over the army chief’s age, Defence Minister Antony would put some balm on the wounds by examining the workings of the DESW.
Maj Gen Rathore appointed Army's Judge Advocate General
The Defence Ministry has cleared the appointment of Maj Gen Prabhu Singh Rathore, a veteran military law expert, as the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Indian Army. The JAG is the top law officer of the service and the chief legal adviser of the Army chief in matters pertaining to the
force's laws.

The appointment of the JAG was cleared on Friday and the officer will take over in the next few days, Defence Ministry sources told PTI here.

The top legal post in the Army has been lying vacant after the retirement of previous incumbent Maj Gen B V Nair, who superannuated on January 31.

The appointment was delayed as a Lieutenant Colonel had approached the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) alleging that Rathore had attempted to adversely impact his career.

After admitting the case, the Kolkata Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal had stayed Rathore's promotion but vacated it last month. The case is still on in Kolkata.

Rathore was earlier serving as the Deputy Judge Advocate General (D-JAG) in the Jaipur-based South Western Army Command before proceeding to Army Headquarters here after promotion recently.

With his appointment as JAG, Rathore will have to look after several important ongoing cases in the Army courts including the final outcome in the Sukna land scam where Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash has been recommended for dismissal.
Rum, Bum and Mouthorgan and other Indian Army stories

    Op Vijay and the Feathered Battle Casualty

    ‘Operation Vijay’ had just started.

    8 Mountain Division had been inducted in the Dras - Mushko sector. Part of the Division was still in the Valley.

    The war in Kargil was crystallising and the logistic support was in its infancy. Everything was more of a rough and ready solution to universal problems. The scene was like the World War II movies; lots of beehive like activity with teeth-on-the-edge confusion. Unlike the movies, the pretty women resistance fighters were missing. The other difference was that Op Vijay soldiers shaved, had their baths and they did not eat out of mess tins with broken forks. They also did not sport faces hewn from the Rocky Mountain.

    My General, the GOC 8 Mountain Division looked young [honest and no buttering!] and was as sophisticated as any Delhite could be. Providentially, he was not the nouveau riche variety that is found under every stone of Delhi, talking of their ‘M’rutis’ [Maruti – a popular small car] and ‘Assteams’ [Esteem – a bigger car] but the DPS {Delhi Public School} nose-in-the-air ones, talking of Frankfurt and Disneyland. Of course, the General did not have time to perk his nose in the air as also he was wise enough to know that was not good for his delicate nose as the air was cold, it being High Altitude and winter. He could have had got a red nose or chilblain [‘chillybilly’ as per the jawans]! He was determined to fight the war and not get a Wound Medal via a ‘wounded’ nose.

    It had been a harrowing day [not only for me but for the General]. I had arrived from our Base where I was in charge of ‘pushing’ the non-existent supplies and equipment up to the front. I arrived when it was lunchtime.

    The General was, at this critical moment, huddled in the pathetically pitched tent, masquerading as the Mess with his ‘jungi’ [warlike] lot, looking solemn and sombre, as any war would demand. Interestingly, their war weary looks belied the fact that till then none had the foggiest and all were probing in the dark! They looked as limp as any self respecting aspen leaf. In contrast, I was as buoyant as one could be, after half a day’s helicopter ‘ride’ trying to organise the administrative ‘tail’.

    I was brought up on the bottle. A General or no General in attendance, high altitude or no high altitude, I required my high octane quota of two to three small gins. I was an old Kargil hand [something like the old India hand of the British Raj days]. I had served earlier under combat conditions in the same area where the General and his ‘jungi’ lot were making their abode and planning the war. So, I was more seasoned to the ‘ill effects’ that high altitude and Kargil can offer. The only ill effect I can remember from those days was that High Altitude bestows something that Kushwant Singh [a popular writer having no qualms about writing on intimate encounters] badly needs – a toned down libido. However, Kushwant’s claim of nursing a hyperactive libido maybe residual effects of High Altitude hallucinations, but then I could be wrong! Therefore, two gins were no big deal and Kushwant ‘Pecker’ Singh would salute to it with no ill effect to his fantasising.

    Lunch was served and the Jungi lot attacked their plates [they had no options]. The fare may have appeared on my plate too, but then my palate at the sight of the gruel could not be placated.

    I stood away from the table and ordered and knocked another gin down to develop the courage that was necessary to even politely nibble at the Mess [any Officers’ Mess] food. The unfortunate part was that I, as the Chairman of the Mess Committee, was technically responsible for the tripe passing off as food.

    The chicken came. The General bowed his head and murmured something like the Grace said at school before a meal. I stood aloof. I was savouring the unique singularity of the Indian synthetic gin – absolutely free from such noxious and obnoxious substances like the juniper berry from which gin is supposed to be distilled.

    The General dug his fork and the chicken somersaulted like an East European champion gymnast in the Olympics. A beauty 10 so to speak! It was as if all the guns from Tiger Hill and Tololing had exploded. At least that is what occurred in my heart. Quailing in my combat dress, I adopted the best defence in these types of crisis – the sheepish, asinine, dopey smile. It worked! The General melted but not as much as butter on a hot frying pan. But just about.

    Dutch courage vitalised me to enquire like a steward of a second rate restaurant, ‘A tough cock, sir?’

    The General did not answer. He bowed his head like a pious shaven devout at Tirupati [an important temple all Indian VIPs visit regularly] and went through the murmuring ritual through clenched teeth as if he was the modern Osho [a Godman specialising in liberating the soul do what it wants including free sex]. I never knew the General to be sexy though.

    ‘No, not really, Roy. It is as soft as a rhino’s hide’ said the General, all 32 showing with immense control as if I were a dentist inspecting his molar.

    Curiosity got the cat. I could not but venture to query his sudden religious affliction, since he was no religious man; and, anyway I am wary of these religious blokes. I stood my ground and ventured with the maximum of déjà vu that I could muster.

    ‘Sir, why did you say the Grace before your meal? Has the uncertainty of the War made you a trifle more dependent on God than before or have you turned a devout Christian?’

    ‘No, not all old cove’, replied the General. ‘It is just that I have been taught as a child to respect those elder than me. That’s why’, he hissed like a lost adder in the deserts of Arizona or wherever these lost adders hiss.

    Since I was older than he was, I was flattered. ‘Thank you, sir, but there was no requirement; after all I am your junior in rank’. I beamed. Good old orthodox Indian upbringing. You could not fault the General for manners, both Indian and English. The bloke was sterling silver and better quality than the gold in Fort Knox. I was impressed that modernity or Delhi had not ruined the good old Indian ethos of the General, even though he was a Baywatch [he called it Body Watch] fan!

    That got the General’s goat.

    ‘Who the Dickens [remember, he was from DPS and so he spoke with all these British ‘uupah’ class style of talk] was giving respect to you. I was only respecting the chicken. It is older than Mohanjodaro and Harrappa [ancient excavated undivided Indian towns] rolled in one, damn you!’

    The silence was ominous.

    I beat a hasty retreat, murmuring something about the heavy turbulence for the helicopter at this hour and safety requirements demanding that I left. The speed, with which I left, I am told, proved beyond doubt the veracity of what is known as the Venturi Effect. The silence and the vacuum were loud! There was no option. The General’s mood was as hot as that of a Bofors Gun on heat!

    The next day, the Mess got younger chicken and a new pressure cooker!
Parameters for Indian Army 2020
By Lt Gen Vinay Shankar
Recently under the aegis of the Army a seminar was conducted to discuss the shape, size and structure of our Army in 2020. The scope of the seminar also included an assessment of emerging challenges and doctrinal issues. The deliberations during this event received some media coverage and comment.

If we are to go by the reports that doctrinal and organizational changes are in the offing based on the conclusions drawn during the Seminar clearly this event has been of considerable significance and extremely successful. The Army Headquarters, the organizers and the participants deserve to be congratulated. Equally it can be expected that the benefits of this event would encourage the defense establishment to engage in such debates more frequently.

The three service chiefs spoke during the inaugural session. A close scrutiny of what they said and the proceedings that followed would indicate that the deliberations were perhaps being conducted in a vacuum. Ideally, such a subject should have as its frame of reference a vision document of national strategy and security for 2020. Without such a conceptual framework the solutions arrived at are unlikely to be optimal and may even be flawed. We now have a National Security Council and a National Security Advisory Board comprising of some of our recognized and well-known members of the strategic community. Therefore it would be fair to expect a much greater degree of cohesion between national and defense planning.

    • what is our strategy in the next decade to settle the ‘line of control’ issue with Pakistan? • what is our politico – diplomatic- military strategy for dealing with China on regional issues and the border problem? • What about the ‘war against terror’ or the fallout of the actions in Iraq?

For example what is our strategy in the next decade to settle the ‘line of control’ issue with Pakistan? Surely we should not have to forever live with this problem. Concurrently what is our action plan to win over the disaffected population of Kashmir so that militancy from the region is eradicated? Where does the military fit into this game plan? Again, what is our politico – diplomatic- military strategy for dealing with China on regional issues and the border problem? What about the ‘war against terror’ or the fallout of the actions in Iraq? What is our policy on sharing of responsibilities between the defense forces and the Central Police Forces till the problems in Kashmir and the North-east continue to fester? What diplomatic and military measures are contemplated to ensure that we retain the freedom of action to pursue our national interests without fear of arm twisting or intimidation and sanctions by other regional and global players?

Only if we have answers to these and a host of other issues can we begin to formulate a plan for the Army, Navy and Air Force of 2020. Otherwise we shall continue to witness the disjunction between military capabilities and the Country’s requirements as in 1947/48, 1962, 1965, Kargil, “Operation Parakrama’ or in our ability to impose a military deterrent on Pakistan so as to dissuade that Country from engaging us- with a fair degree of impunity- in the covert war that we have been in, for the last decade and a half. Admittedly affordability will always be a major consideration but implications must be well digested before decisions are taken.

The discussion on Pakistan’s nuclear capability and its ‘ absurdly low threshold’ reaffirmed the tremendous triumph of Pakistan’s nuclear strategy. Whether inadvertently or otherwise the US has rendered vital support in making the strategy succeed. The persistent projection of South Asia as a nuclear flashpoint since the eighties and the barrage of inputs that has flowed from the US since then has been effective in convincing us that Pakistan is capable of the utmost irresponsibility as a Nuclear weapon state. Consequently in our minds we have permitted our conventional military capability to get neutralized. The neutralization then finds expression in ‘limited war’, no deep operations, shallow objectives and other similar postulations.

    Nuclear weapons for nuclear deterrence and a powerful conventional force for dissuasive deterrence must remain the pillars of our military strategy. Therefore notwithstanding Pakistan’s nuclear threshold we should maintain our focus on strengthening both pillars.

The doctrine and capability definition that flow from such thinking can have an immeasurably debilitating effect on our entire military posture with the potential for disastrous consequences. Firstly it pushes us back into the old jacket of being totally defensive in our posture (it took us many years to get out of that mindset). Because whatever offensive capability we retain would be rendered virtually ineffective due to the fear of crossing Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. And look at the enormous military advantage we transfer to Pakistan because of such thinking.

Firstly it can continue to needle us by supporting terrorism and militancy without fear of any reprisal. Parakrama may well have reinforced this belief. Secondly in the event of war knowing that our offensives will be restricted to a few kilometers Pakistan can hold the front lightly with Para- military forces or with minimum regulars and then have the flexibility and freedom to concentrate forces to hit and hurt us at places of its choosing. Our nuclear doctrine of “no first use’ adding to the comfort level of Pakistan’s military planners.

There are similar problems with the notion of ‘ limited war’. In some sense or the other all wars are- limited. At a ridiculous level it can be argued that even the World Wars were limited. The catch is in defining limited wars and the conclusions we draw from such definition. Broadly, limited wars imply limitation of time, space and the use of force ( essentially weapon systems) In 1962 we did not employ our air force; neither did the Chinese. During the recent Kargil war the conflict was kept confined to the Kargil Sector and we also refrained from crossing the Line of Control.

In 1971 we limited the war to the capture of Dacca. Even way back in 47/48 we chose to limit the duration of operations.(many today believe that had we carried on, the history of the subcontinent would have been different ).

So what is new now? Yet especially after the Kargil War we have many from our strategic thinkers community emphasizing that since future wars are likely to be ‘limited’ either by choice or due to the pressure of the UN/US our force structure ought to be suitably tailored. Implicit in such thinking is the belief that we can reduce force levels. This is a slippery route. And perhaps dangerous. As a matter of fact instead of considering scaling down because of restrictions that may be imposed we should seriously consider scaling up so that we acquire the capacity to impose limited fighting (strikes) like Israel or the US. Such a capability acquisition should be possible- at least- against some of our likely adversaries.

    The shadow that Pakistan casts over our military minds continues to be disproportionately large. This must change. Areas to the North, North East and the Indian Ocean require much greater attention. The shift in focus must begin now.

Throughout the close to fifty years of the ‘cold war’, assessments of thresholds had little or no effect on the conventional force levels and operational plans of the Warsaw Pact countries or the NATO. Nuclear contingencies and employment of nuclear weapons admittedly were considered as options and possibilities on the escalatory ladder. China has nuclear adversaries including India but it continues to give greater teeth to its conventional forces. As a matter of fact in the history of nuclear weapons states it would be difficult to find any country that is as constrained by the threshold of an adversary as we are. The subject requires greater reflection.

Nuclear weapons for nuclear deterrence and a powerful conventional force for dissuasive deterrence must remain the pillars of our military strategy. Therefore notwithstanding Pakistan’s nuclear threshold we should maintain our focus on strengthening both pillars. Pakistan has convinced us of its low nuclear threshold. We have to now convince Pakistan that it does not matter. We are resolved to retaliate and punish if that Country transgresses our limit of tolerance.

In making a case for not compromising on conventional capability and the necessity to maintain the momentum of offensive operations, it would be incorrect, if it has been conveyed that nuclear threshold is altogether unimportant. In the planning and execution of operations it would remain a key consideration.

Over the last two decades our strategic horizon has undergone changes. But the shadow that Pakistan casts over our military minds continues to be disproportionately large. This must change. Areas to the North, North East and the Indian Ocean require much greater attention. The shift in focus must begin now. Then only can we expect to be well poised as we approach 2020.

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