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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

From Today's Papers - 05 Dec 2012
Military cooperation can warm up ties with China
Relations with China are improving and confidence-building measures are in place, but India cannot afford to be complacent or let its guard down. A careful look at the existing national security apparatus and defence management at the strategic level is needed
Gen J.J. Singh (retd)
THE 1962 war was an unmitigated disaster which laid bare the ineptness in evolving our strategy as also the inability of our leadership -- political, military, intelligence agencies and the civil services -- to read the Chinese designs and intentions, and the lack of preparedness of the military and the nation to face the challenge posed by China's aggression. In his book ‘Prepare or Perish’, Gen KV Krishna Rao, a distinguished former army chief and later Governor of Jammu and Kashmir has stated that, the Indian government “deluded itself into believing that the Chinese would not resort to a war to settle the border problem”.

Enough has been written about the background, causes and lessons learnt from that war, but these issues again factor in today's deliberations and meaningful deductions drawn thereupon. Given their geo-strategic location, size, population, resources and potential, the relations between India and China assume the highest importance for peace, prosperity and stability of the region and the world at large. The challenges that impact the relations between the two nations are:

    An unresolved boundary along the Himalayas
    Chinese perception of a US-India strategy to contain China.
    The possibility of diversion of waters of rivers emanating from Tibet.
    A latent potential for unrest in Tibet, which comes to the surface from time to time.
    The political and economic dimensions of two rising powers of Asia -- rivalry or competition -- for markets and resources.

On the other hand, there are positive factors that would usher convergence of interests and cooperation such as:

    Improved bilateral relations due to the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership Agreement of 2005.
    The new leadership in China will give great importance to relations with India, as stated by Wen Jiabao recently.
    Growing trade and commerce which could touch $100 billion by 2015, a phenomenal increase from $0.35 billion in 1992. Of necessity, the trade imbalance has to be set right, so that it is a win-win for both nations.
    A growing understanding amongst the leadership of the two nations that peace and stability is imperative to bring up the socio-economic conditions of millions of their people.
    Greater sense of responsibility coming in the wake of recognition of having acquired or in the process of acquiring the status of powerful nations in the region and globally.
    An understanding that there is "enough space for growth", as stated by the respective prime ministers of both countries.
    Enhancement of military power of both sides, albeit the Chinese having a definite edge at present, and the deterrence value of nuclear weapons.
    Challenge posed by the altitude and terrain in Tibet region that would inhibit the deployment of the full might of either side (an imperative to facilitate a decisive result in a conflict situation) and thereby, act as a restraining factor.

A comprehensive review of the boundary issue between India and China brings out, first, that India's northern boundary is essentially a product of environmental and historical factors operating over centuries, secondly, that although parts of the boundary had already become traditional even before the British rule, other sectors took their present shape under the impact of new threats from inner Asia in the 19th and early 20th century and the new concepts of security which the British brought with them, and thirdly, that the end product was by and large, the formulation of the principle of the highest crest line or watershed of the northern mountain system as the boundary for political purposes.

Reconciling differences

The Sino-Indian border issue needs to be addressed on a faster pace. For years both sides have been adopting fixed positions. The visit of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to China in 1988 was a landmark event, laying the foundation for a more vibrant bilateral relationship. It resulted in the signing of the Agreement on Maintaining Peace and Tranquility along the border in 1993, during the visit of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. The two sides agree that a border settlement must be fair and equitable. The question arises as to how to reconcile the known differences within a reasonable timeframe.

During Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China in 2003, both countries forged a commitment at the highest level to move ahead purposefully and resolve the boundary question peacefully. The two sides agreed to appoint a special representative to explore from the political perspective of the overall bilateral relationship, the framework of a boundary settlement. Meanwhile, peace and tranquility would be maintained in the border areas by strengthening mechanisms on the ground. To resolve a complex problem like this, no straight forward or universally applicable principle can be rigidly applied. Geography does not follow cardinal directions or make available an unbroken chain of a mountain system to create an undisputable boundary. Although the Great Himalaya is a formidable barrier going in an arc, there are important rivers cutting across from Tibet to the Indian plains with attendant problems of defining the boundary in certain areas. Hence, any mutually acceptable solution will have to be an exercise carried out objectively and pragmatically, based on the agreement on political parameters and guiding principles signed in 2005.

A new equation is emerging in the balance of power in the world, with the centre of gravity shifting towards Asia. The cooperation in the field of defence has also grown phenomenally consequent to the highly significant Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation that was signed during the visit of then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Beijing in 2006. Important aspects of this MoU were given concrete shape during my visit as the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee with a tri-service delegation to China in May 2007. We were able to take our military to military engagement to an unprecedented high and we agreed to hold the first-ever defence dialogue and also settled upon the modalities of joint training. For army officers of our generation and our predecessors who had been through the 1962 showdown, this was something incredible. The same may have been the case on the Chinese side.

There are regular exchanges of officers undergoing training in both countries, goodwill visits and engagement of defence experts in various seminars and conferences. Besides this, military observers have been permitted by both sides to attend military exercises and manoeuvres. As part of the confidence building exercise for ensuring peace and tranquility on the border, troops of both countries hold sports and cultural meets regularly, particularly during national day celebrations and flag meetings at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

In another dimension, we need to have a careful look at the existing structure of our national security apparatus and defence management at the strategic level. The institutionalisation of the military component of this apparatus in the decision-making loop is unexceptional. This would ensure that expert military advice is available to the national leadership and policy-makers, as is the case in other major democratic nations.

Military diplomacy

While formulating and conducting foreign policy, particularly in our fairly volatile neighbourhood and also in those countries where the military is all-powerful, military diplomacy and the views of the service chiefs would prove to be invaluable. Timely advice can help in the prevention of a security situation from snowballing out of control. In a few security related situations in the past, the armed forces were not quite aware of the big picture or were caught unprepared or without having the desired readiness levels when asked to execute a mission. Such instances are not in the best interests of the nation and hence, should be scrupulously avoided as far as possible. An integrated team with officials from the services and the ministries of defence, external affairs, finance and home makes good sense. Equally important is the need to have integrated teams within the army, navy and air force at the theatre commands and at the service HQs. Once this model has matured over a few years, we could have in place a Chief of Defence Staff by 2020, with the operational responsibility of the armed forces and the accountability that goes with it.

Well orchestrated military diplomacy can help in the achievement of our foreign policy goals and in addressing our national security concerns. I have been a great advocate of involving the armed forces during the evolution and formulation of our foreign policy with respect to our neighbouring countries. This will further our national interests, build mutual trust and confidence, and thereby engender peace and stability in the region. This is particularly true in the case of countries where the military has an over arching role in policy-making or governance.

Probability of a war

Hypothetically, in the eventuality of a localised border conflict that some experts articulate, would it be restricted to the border alone as was the case in 1962, or would it engulf the Tibetan theatre and beyond on both sides of the Himalayas and carry the risk of being blown into a larger conflagration between two nuclear powers? What would be the impact of employment of air power, missiles, space, psychological, cyber and electronic warfare? How would the issue of logistics, including stocking of weapons, ammunition, equipment, supplies and effects of high altitude and climate on the shelf life affect the conduct of operations? What measures are needed to ensure that we are not surprised again and our eyes and ears on land and in space are qualitatively state-of-the-art? These are some of the questions that deserve to be deliberated in greater detail.

Many theorists have been predicting a war between China and India. First it was supposed to have happened after the Beijing Olympics. Then it was forecast to for 2012 and now some talk of 2020. Many of these analysts haven't seen the Himalayan region on either side or merely undertaken whistle-stop tours in fair weather. To comprehend the true dimensions of fighting in this region, one has to see the conditions during winters when snow and blizzards make life impossible or in monsoons when it rains for days on end and small streams become raging torrents washing away bridges and parts of roads. These arm-chair strategists should understand that no modern war can be fought unless it is thought through in its entirety and more importantly only if the initiator is convinced that it can be won. Further, to start a nuclear war would be the height of folly.

However, we cannot afford to be complacent or let our guard down. In fact, we should continue to modernise and enhance the capabilities of our armed forces and improve border infrastructure, strengthen intelligence agencies and provide them state-of-the-art wherewithal for giving real-time intelligence and thereby enhance our capability to face the challenges of the future appropriately. We should not forget the truism that "strength begets respect".

Overall, barring the border war of 1962, relations between the two Asian giants have been generally friendly. At times there has been friction on the border issue, but mature and statesmanlike leadership on both sides has ensured that such problems are resolved peacefully through dialogue at the highest level. The landmark agreements of 1993, 1996, 2003 and signing of the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity during the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in April 2005, are aimed at maintaining peace and tranquility on the borders while addressing the boundary question and enhancing mutual trust and understanding. China has become our largest trading partner with trade worth US$ 61.7 billion taking place in 2010. There is tremendous scope for enhancing bilateral relations and reaching a consensus on other vital global issues like maritime security climate, control, financial order and sustainable development. The military to military cooperation could form a pivot in our relations with China for enabling a secure and stable environment for the good of both nations and the region.
Army assures support to Capt Saurabh Kalia's parents
Army chief General Bikram Singh on Thursday said the Army fully supports the parents of Kargil [ Images ] hero Capt Saurabh Kalia, who was captured by the Pakistan Army [ Images ] in 1999 and subjected to brutal torture, in pursuing their son's case at International Court of Justice at Hague.

"He was our brave officer who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty in the best traditions of the Indian Army [ Images ]. We have written to Ministry of Defence (MOD) and

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conveying our concerns in the matter. We fully support his parents," Gen Singh said.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Passing out Parade of the 123rd course of the National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla.

Capt Kalia's father N K Kalia recently moved the Supreme Court seeking its direction to the Government to raise his son's case at the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

He alleged that his son was captured as a prisoner of war but was killed in a gruesome manner in violation of the Geneva Convention.

Capt Kalia and five other soldiers of his patrolling team were captured alive on May 15, 1999 by Pakistani troops and kept in captivity where they were tortured and their bodies mutilated. Their bodies were handed over to the Indian side later.

Replying to a question regarding raising of a Mountain Strike Corps in the north east, the Army chief said it was not targeted at any specific country and was part of the nation's defence preparedness to safeguard border areas.

Earlier, Gen Singh reviewed an impressive parade at which 318 cadets passed out at NDA's 123rd course.

Addressing the cadets, he urged them to serve not only as warriors but also "apostles of peace" while discharging their duties in the noblest of professions.

Cadet Bhojapal Shakya was awarded the President's gold medal on the occasion.
The Afghan National Army in 2014
It took the British in India a full century of trial-and-error (1757 – 1857) to finally come up with the organisation of a native army with which India could be kept stabilised for their needs. The first instance of a serious shock actually caused the local army that they were most satisfied with, the East India Company’s Bengal Army[1], to completely dissolve in the Mutiny of 1857.

By contrast, the US believes that in the mere 10 to 11 years since its entry into (or invasion of) Afghanistan in October 2001, it has hit upon the best possible model for a new Afghan National Army (ANA) to turn the security of the country over to by the end of 2014[2]. Given the convoluted history of the region and of the modern political entity known as Afghanistan since the mid-1970’s, it is worth taking a closer look at this American-designed and built ANA (Version # 3)[3].

The new ANA, supported by a new internationally-created Afghan Police, is expected to take over and maintain security once the USA has withdrawn the bulk of its troops in 2014. It is a new-look army, combining elements of organization from the older Afghan Army pattern with some completely-new elements copied from the US Army. The big question is: Can such an army hold Afghanistan together once the inherent fissiparous tendencies of the multi-ethnic state begin to gain strength?

The known weaknesses of recent efforts at army-creating in Afghanistan are (1) lack of modern-style professionalism, greatly caused by illiteracy and lack of education, (2) high desertion rates/poor retention rate of soldiers, and (3) lack of equally-distributed proportional representation by all the major communities, with some of the predominantly Pathan (Pashtoon or Pakhtoon) areas such as Kandahar and Helmand contributing less than the Farsi (Dari) speaking Tajiks and Hazaras. The resultant of the above had been poor operational efficiency, and even low motivation for offensive action against motivated local Taliban fighters with an Islamist jehadi agenda.

The US has tried to address all these weaknesses, by (1) applying itself to the training of the new recruits and active mentoring of ANA units and sub-units in the field, (2) increasing the salaries of ANA soldiers and introducing a very generous pension scheme, reportedly the full salary even after retirement if a soldier serves his full term of engagement, which has been increased to 10 years[4]. In the earlier scheme of things when the US began its army-building effort, it was offering a mere three-year term of enlistment and a meagre salary, and the desertion rate before completion of their enlistment period was as high as 25 percent of enrolment. By early 2010 the salary of new ANA soldiers had been doubled to US $ 140 per month, comparable to what the Taliban were paying their anti-establishment forces, and recruitment picked up.

The ANA is now about 43 percent Pathan (Pashtun), 32 percent Tajik, 12 percent Hazara and 10 percent Uzbek, with the rest made up of smaller ethnic groups, which is approximately the percentages of these communities in the Afghan population. Any spirit of camaraderie among different ethnic groups of new recruits within the ANA is very new, as recent as early 2010, and cannot possibly become universal by end-2014. The American attempt to build unit motivation levels however, is suspect because the class composition of the ANA ‘s combat units, all presently ‘normal’ infantry and some commando-type, is an ethno-racial-linguistic mix of various ethnic communities, using the national language Dari[5] as the common medium of communication. This attempt at creating a ‘nationalistic spirit’ has two major flaws in the current Afghanistan political scenario: (1) The ANA could change its loyalty ‘en masse’ to an alternate contending political regime after the US and international forces are drawn down, and/or (2) The ANA’s operational effectiveness could be seriously compromised if some soldiers in every combat unit refuse to take part in operations, if required to do so against their ethnic/linguistic kin.

The British resolved the second issue by adapting the British Army’s regimental system to the Indian Army they created, by not having all ethnic groups of men mixed at random in their fighting arms, the infantry, the cavalry (later converted to a tank corps), the artillery, and the combat engineering units. Instead, each regiment and unit was composed of a ‘fixed class composition’, which had entire companies of a particular ethnic community, while the unit (a battalion of infantry, or a regiment of cavalry or of artillery) had what could be considered a ‘balanced’ mix of communities. Thus the different communities in a battalion could not only cooperate with each other, but also acted as a check against the disaffection, for whatever reason, of any of the other communities. At the same time, they were composed from somewhat similar communities of a broader general region, so that there were some commonalities of food habits and culture. Such units could be used against Indians of other regions without much hesitation among the troops, with a deliberately fostered regimental ‘esprit de corps’ overcoming any feelings of ‘Indian-ness’. The British also created some units on a ‘single class’ basis, which gave them the additional flexibility to use such a unit against Indians of other regions and culture without problems of hesitation. This system of military organization allowed the British to conquer whatever was left outside their domination in India after 1857, using a combination of Indian troops and much fewer British troops, and to hold it firmly thereafter. Though the system underwent a gradual evolution, the principles of human organization were as described and continued all the way till after the First World War, standing the test of time till feelings of Indian nationalism picked up in earnest after the Second World War.

Under the regimental system used for the Indian Army of the British, a battalion of the Punjab Regiment of infantry, for example, could have a rifle company of Hindu Rajputs, another of Jat Sikhs, and two companies of Jat Punjabi Muslims (PMs). A battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment of infantry would normally be composed of one company of Hindu Dogra Rajputs, a company of Jat Sikhs, a company of Jat PMs, and a company of Muslim Pathans. There were other ‘fixed class’ regiments with other combinations of ethnic groups. Among the few ‘single class’ regiments were, for example, those of Gorkhas and of Marathas. The key to the entire system, and of the choice of military manpower, was political reliability. Both the underlying logic and the method have relevant lessons for the Afghanistan of 2014, where ethnic loyalties and tensions are liable to come into play again.

Afghanistan is a political state whose boundaries were created by the conquests of a king, and which were then finalised by two European powers, Britain and Russia. In a country without a strong nationalistic feeling or tradition, ethnicity will continue to greatly influence events. Only a politically-reliable army can ensure security and stability. The ‘all-classes-mixed’ or ‘nationalist-pattern’ ANA, which might be quite suitable for a modern nation-state, does not yet inspire confidence in its ability to hold Afghanistan together from 2014 onwards. There are, however, some very positive innovations in the ANA Version 3, which have the potential of off-setting some of the perceived weakness in human organization. These are the Commando Units and the US Army-type Special Forces[6].

To fully appreciate these, however, it is necessary to look briefly at the overall organization and apparent tasking of the ANA. The overall strength of the ANA is 160,600 soldiers[7] and officers, and the intention is to increase it to 171,600 by October 2011. There is also some discussion on increasing the strength to between 195,000 and 208,000 by October 2012. The ANA  is presently divided into six Corps located around the country, each with two to four brigades (but with no intervening Divisional HQ), and an independent Division in the capital area, along with a Special Operations Command of Divisional HQ size, which commands the Commando battalions and the Special Forces. The deployment pattern (see map) indicates that the ANA, as organised by its primarily American organizers, is an infantry-predominant force deployed for counter-insurgency operations, if required, in their own respective ‘area of operations’ (AOR), with a reserve Division for the defence of Kabul, the capital, and a counter-terrorism (CT) capability being built up in the Commando battalions. The Special Forces, organised as ‘A’ Teams like the US Green Berets, is meant to help villages and groups of villages to organize their own local defensive militias. The nine Commando battalions will be grouped under two Commando Brigades, probably only for administrative purposes. The Special Forces will have four battalions under a Special Forces Brigade HQ, with each battalion having 18 ‘A’ Teams, making a total of 72 ‘A’ Teams for the whole country by 2014. As a tasking, organization, and deployment strategy this makes eminent sense.  The question is, can such an organization be actually made to work?

What the above does not indicate is whether the meagre quantum of fire support and tank support will be sufficient after the Americans scale down and eventually leave. Can the various operational Corps in their respective AOR, particularly those in eastern and southern Afghanistan, withstand air and armoured assault from any un-envisaged Taliban air force and Taliban armoured troops led by tanks? The Combat Support Battalions in each brigade under the deployed Corps currently have only a maximum of three D-30 122 mm howitzers each. The level of integral armour available to the 111st Division protecting Kabul is only one battalion of T-62 tanks and one mechanised infantry battalion with M-113 APCs and some BMP-1s. Will this be adequate? How much fire support from artillery assets will be available for Corps in particularly vulnerable AOR, and how much close air support (CAS) can be expected from US air assets in-country and afloat in the Persian Gulf?  The ANA Version.2 had an Air Force with MiG-21 fighter aircraft and some amount of CAS training – the new Afghan forces have no combat air element, neither fixed wing nor attack helicopters with anti-tank missiles.

Finally, and most worryingly, can an ANA of near-illiterates (the rank-&-file has 86 percent illiteracy), of various often antagonistic ethnic groups be turned into a cohesive modern army after a mere 15 weeks of recruit training? This is about one-half or less of the time the Pakistan Army takes to turn an educated young recruit, from the same or similar human communities, into a disciplined professional soldier in an army based on the ethnicity-based regimental system.

The other big question is: Will the new ANA be able to withstand any determined offensive from the east? The very-professional Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Government have a strong geo-political incentive for capturing and controlling Kabul – will the new ANA be able to physically prevent this?

The answers to both the two big questions depend entirely upon the organizational structure, the military ethos created, and the training imparted to the new American-created Afghan National Army.
Indian Army to seek combat helicopters from IAF
 NEW DELHI (PTI): Weeks after it was sanctioned combat air wing by the Government, the Indian Army is seeking transfer of attack helicopters from the Indian Air Force at the earliest.

"We are sending a proposal to the Defence Ministry for capability enhancement in our aviation wing for absorbing the attack helicopters in our fleet," Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh told PTI here.

He said the officials concerned have also been told to develop philosophies for using the attack choppers in different roles in the different parts of the country.

The Army Chief did not give details but sources said the proposal would include transfer of attack helicopters from the Air Force as also the soon-to-be-procured US-made Apache choppers.
Indian Army’s battle weapons
India has the third largest army in the world after China and the United States. It has battle weapons like the Heckler & Koch MP5 sub machine guns, AK-47, Glock 17 9 mm pistols, ballistic missiles and even nuclear warheads. The highest military designation is that of the Field Marshal. But this is a largely ceremonial designation that has so far only been held by the Late General KM Cariappa and the Late Gen Maneskshaw.

The central command of the Indian army lies in the hands of the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.
The light weapons of the Indian army include handguns like the FN Browning GP35 9mm x 19 mm; sub machine guns like the Heckler & Koch MP5A3 and MP5K 9mm x 19mm SMG, the Indian Sterling L2A1 SMG; assault rifles like the AK-7 which is a clone of the AK-47, AK-101 and 103.

AK-47, TAVOR TAR21, T91 assault rifles and the INSAS assault rifle which is the standard issue infantry weapon, etc The Indian army also uses multimode grenades called Shivalik and sniper rifles like the Mauser SP66 7.62mmx51 mm Sniper Rifle and the Dragunov SVD59 7.62mmx54 mm Sniper Rifle.  Among the machine guns used by the Indian army are the Indian made MAG58, MG2A1, MG5A and 6A 7.62mmx51 mm and INSAS 5.56mmx45 mm.

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