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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 18 Sep 2012
Unhelpful attitude against military
Apex court comes to the aid of defence personnel
by Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (retd)

ON September 4 the Supreme Court gave a landmark judgment, which goes against the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The 4th Central Pay Commission (CPC) gave defence services’ officers up to the rank of brigadier rank pay in addition to the basic pay. The MoD, working in consultation with the CDA (O) and in a most arbitrary manner and without any authority, deducted the rank pay from the emoluments of thousands of the effected officers. That was in the year 1986. From then onwards all efforts to get the MoD to undo this gross injustice have been opposed by it. In this machination and subsequent cussedness have been involved the top bureaucrats in the MoD and successive Defence Ministers. From 1986 till now, a large number of defence services’ officers have died, some during the Kargil war, without getting their rightful dues.

A gutsy Major from the South fought it out in the Kerala High Court. Not willing to relent on its mischief, the MoD went in for a review petition, which too was rejected by the Supreme Court. It took the officer over a decade to get this injustice undone. This was followed by innumerable appeals in most high courts of the country by the officers who had been denied their rank pay. The Supreme Court in its wisdom ordered that all these be clubbed and brought before it. A spirited group called the Retired Defence Officers Association (RODA) obtained a favourable order from the Supreme Court on March 8, 2010. Thereafter, the MoD sought recall of the Supreme Court order. Then on subsequent 10 occasions the Solicitor-General of India sought adjournments, stretching the case to September 2012.

The Solicitor-General told the highest court of the land that the defence services headquarters too were opposed to giving back the rank pay to these officers. However, the defence headquarters gave in writing to the Attorney-General that they did not oppose the grant of rank pay and, on the other hand, fully supported the case of these officers. This letter from the defence headquarters falsified the position of the Solicitor-General and, in fact, he stands exposed for an act of perjury. Consequently, the MoD, throwing all norms of fair play to the winds and in a brazen manner, tried to “arm-twist” the defence services headquarters in asking it to withdraw this letter to the Solicitor-General, which the defence services headquaters declined to do.

The Solicitor-General, as a last ditch attempt, pleaded that the restoration of rank pay be ordered to only those officers whose cases are before the court. Ignoring this mischievous plea, the Supreme Court, on September 4, 2012, ordered that all the effected officers (their number is in thousands) should be paid their dues starting from 1986 to now and taking a lenient view of the MoD’s plea of financial constraints made by the Solicitor-General, reduced the period of interest, which starts from 2006 instead of 1986, and at 6 per cent interest.

The Fifth CPC took away the “running pay band,” which, on the hints of resignation by the three service chiefs, was granted by the Fourth CPC and was introduced to somewhat compensate for extremely limited promotions. In the case of the Sixth CPC, there are 39 anomalies that are still to be resolved. The grant of bounty of Non-Functional Advancement to all Central services officers by the Sixth CPC and denying the same to the defence services officers is not only scandalous but also blatant display of bias against them.

Instead of extending a supporting hand to the defence services, the MoD has in almost every case related to pay and allowances and the status of defence personnel been taking an adversial stance. In the case of the Second Central Pay Commission, (CPC), the MoD fielded the case of pay and allowances of defence personnel “as given”. In the case of the Third CPC, the defence services were not permitted to present their case before the Pay Commission on the specious grounds that the same will adversely effect their discipline! While the absurdity of this stance by the MoD is detestable, the fact that this arrangement was accepted by the services chiefs is equally distressing. In the subsequent CPCs, the defence services could get no support from the MoD and on the other hand its despicable act of illegally depriving the officers of their rank pay in the case of the fourth CPC needs no further elaboration.

The MoD’s stance has always been unhelpful to the military. Such a sustained attitude of the MoD has created deep fissures in its relationship with the military. There is palpable mistrust of the ministry among the armed forces. The adverse fallout of this relationship, at one level, relates to national security, and at another it impacts on the military’s commitment and motivation. The Ministry of Home Affairs fights tooth and nail to promote the interests of, say, the Central Police Organizations ( CPOs-inappropriately called para-military). As opposed to this, the MoD operates in a motivated manner against those of the military. This adversial stance of the MoD has become so visible in that the CPOs, in pay and allowances, are far better placed than the military. These policemen, unlike soldiers who retire at 35 years of age, retire at the age of 60 and further end up getting much higher pension, etc.

This attitude of the MoD towards the defence services has created a climate of mistrust, animosity and disharmony between these two major components of the government. This hiatus has had adverse effect on the pace of modernisation of the military as well.

The Supreme Court judgment of September 4, ordering the government to pay up the amount due to the affected officers starting with 1986, needs to be taken to its logical end by bringing to account all those officers who were responsible for this mischief, including those who have since retired, and ones who have continued to follow the same line. It is time some accountability was jacked into the government functioning, and those who function in an arbitrary and irresponsible manner are hauled over the coals.
Indian Army planning to deploy artillery, tank brigades along borders

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of Chinese military build-up along its boundary with India, the Army is planning to deploy artillery and tank brigades along the borders in northern and northeastern regions.

In recent times, the force has also proposed to increase its strength by one lakh soldiers along with the raising of a Mountain Strike Corps.

To upgrade the fighting capabilities in the region, the plan is to set up armoured brigades with Russian-origin tanks and Infantry Combat Vehicles in the Ladakh and northeastern region, Army sources said.
The Army is also planning to deploy two independent armoured brigades in Uttarakhand and Ladakh. As part of the plans to upgrade military strength, an additional 10,000 troops are planned to be deployed in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where the Army currently has an amphibious brigade.

The modernisation and expansion plan also includes setting up of new airstrips and helipads in remote locations around the Chinese boundary.

After a major military infrastructure buildup by China in its territory, India has been taking a large number of steps to develop its own capabilities.

It has been building strategic roads along the border with China and has deployed its supersonic BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles in Arunachal Pradesh and the Su-30MKIs at bases in Assam.

It has also started revamping its old air strips in Ladakh and the northeast for operations of both transport and fighter aircraft from there.
Indian Army against granting permanent commission to women in combat roles

The Army has stressed that women cannot be granted permanent commission in the force because the bulk of the army's Junior Commissioned Officers(JCOs) and other ranks hail from rural India who are not yet ready to accept a woman as their leader in combat situations.

"The interface between the leader and the led must be without any reserve or preconceived notions especially in battle conditions where jawans repose full faith in decisions/orders of the leader who is their role model and are prepared to make the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty," the Army Headquarters said in an affidavit dated September 12 before the Supreme Court.

"The combat role of woman officers must be excluded not only for the present but as a matter of policy for all times," the affidavit said.

Ruling out any change in its policy of not granting permanent commission to women at present or in the future, the JCO, who filed the affidavit on behalf of the army, went a step further to stress that the experience with Short Service Commission(SSC) woman officers so far has not been encouraging.

The affidavit said the response of woman officers when detailed on various courses which are crucial for career progression "is far from encouraging".

"In most cases, woman officers have declined to go on courses of instructions due to various reasons ranging from family commitment to personal problems," it added.

The army said the prolonged absence of woman officers from a unit due to inherent family-related issues was also highly detrimental "to the overall efficiency of the unit" as a cohesive fighting force. The army also seemed to be unhappy with woman officers requesting for choice/spouse postings.

"There is an ever growing demand for spouse/choice postings which is adversely impacting the management of officers to the detriment of male officers," the affidavit pointed out.

The affidavit pointed out that the armed forces are maintained as an instrument of national policy and has to be organised and equipped for combat and war-fighting.

"War has no runners-up, hence the need for an efficient war machine that will ensure victory," it said. Restrictions on manpower in the army necessitated multitasking, it said, adding that "every individual counts and has to measure up to combat challenges as and when time comes".

The basic role of the army is to fight the enemy and guard the territorial integrity of the nation, the affidavit said.

Woman officers cannot be employed in combat in the foreseeable future because of the attendant hazard and trauma including the possibility of being made a prisoner of war, it added.

At present, women are inducted as SSC officers in various combat support wings but the government and the army has been unwilling to grant permanent commission. Maj Gen (retd) G.D. Bakshi backed the army's stand.

"In theory, women in the army may sound good but in practical terms the arrangement has not worked well in the Indian Army and as a concept also our society is not prepared to accept women in combat role and this is the reason for women being taken only in combat support role.

It will take some more time before they become acceptable, especially for our jawans who come from rural backgrounds. These are the practical problems in the army unlike air force and navy, where the working environment is totally different," he said.

Delhi Commission of Women chairperson Barkha Singh rubbished the idea. "Women should be encouraged to apply and join the armed forces. It is nature's rule that only women have the privilege to become mothers and deliver babies.

If they get pregnant, they will obviously take maternity leave. It is ridiculous to consider women unfit for the army," she said.

The army has told the court that the combat role of woman officers must be excluded 'not only for the present but as a matter of policy for all times'.
Can China repeat its 1962 military humiliation of India?
Can the history of  India’s humiliation at the hands of China in 1962 repeat itself? As we approach the 50th anniversary of the humiliation next month, we have to analyse this question in depth in our governmental national security community as well as outside. It is important for the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) to organise a series of brainstorming on this subject with the participation of experts on China from the government and outside.

The starting point of such a brainstorming has to be a presumption that the present efforts to solve our border dispute with China through talks may not succeed and that we may be confronted with a fresh military confrontation in the future. Should such a confrontation arise, are we better prepared to face it today than we were in 1962? If not, what are the deficiencies, and how do we remove them?
It is important for us to objectively identify the factors that led to the 1962 humiliation and examine to what extent they have been addressed. It is also important to foresee what kind of new factors that were not seen in 1962 could arise and what implications they could have for our capabilities.

It is my view that our ability to prevent another humiliation in the future would depend upon our trans-Himalayan military strategy and capability as it did in 1962. The roles of the Army and the Air Force in such a strategy will be pre-eminent. The role of the Navy will be marginal. It will be our trans-Himalayan strategic mindset and tactical thinking that will determine the future course of any new military confrontation with China as it did in 1962.

I would identify the following as the basic causes of our humiliation of 1962:

(a) Though our civilian and military intelligence agencies had a satisfactory capability to collect infrastructure intelligence from Tibet, their capability to collect war indicators from Tibet was very poor. They detected in time the clandestine Chinese construction of roads such as the Aksai Chin road in the Western sector, but they missed the Chinese preparations for a military foray into our territory. The Chinese attack on our positions must have been preceded by weeks, if not months, of preparations on the ground in Tibet. The war indicators caused by such preparations were missed by our intelligence agencies.

(b) Our capability to analyse and assess China-related intelligence was inadequate. Even the limited intelligence flowing from Tibet from human and technical sources was not subjected to vigorous analysis and assessment. Our knowledge and assessment of the Chinese military thinking and mindset were poor. We hardly knew anything about the India expertise in the PLA and the Chinese intelligence. As a result, we seriously underestimated the Chinese political and military will to assert their ground interests across the Himalayas and over-assessed and over-projected our capability to anticipate and neutralise any Chinese assertion of their will.

(c) Inadequate professionalism in our armed forces and their inability to foresee different scenarios that could arise and identify the available options. This lack of professionalism was seen right across the board—from the failure to procure the military stores that would be required for a trans-Himalayan war to re-adapting the training of our officers. The Army went into war with very little training and experience in mountain warfare and with very few equipment for such a warfare.

(d) The inexperience of our political leadership in military-related decision-making and in enforcing the implementation of the decisions taken.

My assessment of the present position regarding these factors is as follows:

(a) Our intelligence collection capability in Tibet has improved. Our intelligence agencies are unlikely to miss war indicators in Tibet as badly as they did in 1962.

(b) Our analysis and assessment capability has improved over what it was in 1962, but continues to be inadequate. The Chinese language capability of our national security community is worse than what it was in 1962 and in the years immediately thereafter. Our ability to understand and analyse the Chinese military mindset and thinking continues to be poor. Whatever capability we have built up in this regard has been largely influenced by Western thinking and analysis without an independent application of our mind. Our analysis and assessment infrastructure in respect of China-related intelligence lags behind our analysis and assessment infrastructure in respect of Pakistan-related intelligence. We can anticipate, analyse and counter Pakistan better than we can China. There are wild swings in our assessments on China—from alarmism on the one side to total complacency on the other.

(c) The professionalism of our armed forces has improved. They are better equipped, better trained and better led for a trans-Himalayan warfare today. But there is a lack of convergence of thinking between the Army and the Air Force on the one side and the Navy on the other as to what China implies for our national security and armed forces. There is inadequate integrated joint staff thinking in the armed forces as a whole on China. There is a newly-acquired fascination for naval power and an inadequate appreciation of the continuing importance of military (Army related) and air power.

(d) The understanding of our political class in matters relating to strategic decision-making on China is inadequate though it is better than what it was in 1962 and the years before. There is a clear understanding in our political class of China as a political and economic competitor, but inadequate comprehension of China as a military factor.

Two new factors that have made their appearance since 1962 have not received adequate attention in our national security community:

(a)  The Chinese search for alternative means of taking India by surprise. In 1962, they took us by surprise because our intelligence agencies had little capability for collecting war indictors from the ground in Tibet. The Chinese no longer enjoy this advantage. The increasing Chinese emphasis on the role of the helicopter-borne operations of their Army has to be seen in the context of their search for new means of taking India by surprise—particularly in Arunachal Pradesh. The equipping and training of the copter wing of their Army is receiving increasing attention with some major exercises already noticed.

(b) The Chinese testing and fine-tuning of integrated techniques of an Army-Air Force role in defending Tibet from external threats and in asserting their will trans-Himalayas. There has been an increase in the number of Air Force exercises in Tibet. There is inadequate knowledge of Chinese Air Force exercises in Yunnan, but my surmise is that in any future military confrontation with India, the Chinese will use their Air Force defensively from Tibet and offensively from Yunnan.

In 1962, the entire North Myanmar was a political, administrative and military vacuum. The Myanmar government presence has since improved in the Rakhine (old Arakan) and Chin areas bordering Bangladesh, but remains the same in the Kachin State bordering Yunnan. The Kachin State and Yunnan are very important in any trans-Himalayan military strategy. We continue to neglect these two important regions from the point of view of our intelligence coverage as we were doing before 1962. Kachin State is important for defending our North-East in any new confrontation with China. Rakhine State is important for our Indian Ocean objectives and our energy security.

I do not consider it necessary to touch upon the nuclear aspect in this analysis. It has to be discussed in camera.
South Indian youth prefer Army
More and more youth from South India prefer a job in the armed forces over a corporate career, according to Lt Gen S S Jog, commandant of Officer Training Academy (OTA).

Speaking after a glittering passing out parade on Saturday, Lt Gen Jog said that the growing popularity of armed forces among the youth in the South was confirmed by the sizeable strength of corporate professionals who changed tracks to be part of the Indian Army.

Interestingly, this could be summed up by the fact that this year 379 cadets (288 men and 71 ladies), earned their stripes after the passing out parade, marking the largest batch in the history of the academy.

And among these, a total of 40 cadets are from the South, including 10 from Tamil Nadu. (Four of them belong to Chennai.)

“There is a long and gruelling training which precedes this festivity, encompassing physical training, educational competencies, weapon training, drill and social etiquette in addition to experiential conditioning in the skills and the attitudes needed for military success — all this in a short span of 49 weeks” said Lt Gen Jog.

The batch also included 20 cadets from Afghanistan who are slated to join the Afghan National Army.

Lt Gen Jog said that military academies instill the confidence, character and competence needed to transcend the fear of life, through a dynamic process.

OTA is universally revered as a military institution which infuses key leadership elements in young men and women aged 21 - 26, coming from diverse regional and academic backgrounds.

The parade was reviewed by Lt Gen AK Singh, general-officer-commanding-in-chief of the army’s Southern Command.

Speaking on the occasion, the general complimented the young officers for adopting a military career. An alumnus of the Indian Military Academy, Lt Gen Singh exhorted the young officers to live up to the words of Lord Philip Chetwode, “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last.”
Pakistan tests nuclear-capable missile
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's military says it has successfully test-fired a cruise missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

An army statement says the Hatf-VII or Babur missile, which has a range of 700 kilometers (435 miles), was test-fired from a specially equipped vehicle in an undisclosed location Monday. The statement says the missile has stealth features and can fly very close to the ground.

Pakistan has tested the missile in the past. Senior army officials and scientists attended Monday's test launch.

Pakistan and its nuclear-armed rival neighboring India routinely test different versions of their missiles. The two countries have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.

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