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Friday, 14 December 2012

From Today's Papers - 14 Dec 2012

China begins air patrol of disputed islands
Japan objects, mobilises 8 fighter jets

Beijing/Tokyo, December 13
Flexing its muscles, China for the first time sent a marine surveillance plane to join its warships to monitor the disputed islands with Japan, forcing Tokyo to scramble eight F-15 fighter jets.

The jets were mobilised after a Chinese maritime aircraft ventured over the Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyus, just after 11 am (0200 GMT), Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters in Tokyo.It was a fixed-wing Y-12 aeroplane belonging to the Chinese State Oceanic Administration. We confirmed that this aeroplane flew in our country's airspace," he said.

China's move to send the plane came after it regularised patrols by its maritime and naval vessels, challenging Tokyo's hold over the unmanned islets.

The plane, B-3837 conducted joint patrols with a fleet of four surveillance ships, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted a statement by the State Oceanic Administration.

The fleet declared the Chinese government's stance and ordered the Japanese ships that had entered China's territorial waters to leave the area immediately, the statement said.

Japan mobilised eight F-15 jets and an E2C early-warning aircraft, the Asahi Shimbun reported, citing a defence ministry source. But the incident appeared to have passed off without any direct confrontation.

This is the first time China has deployed maritime planes after it began sending the patrol ships since September questioning Japan's move to buy the islands.

Before that China has not seriously challenged Japan's administrative hold on the islands, though it all along claimed sovereignty over them.

China termed Japan's move provocative and said it would continue to make its presence felt around the islands.

Analysts say the two countries could make an attempt to break the impasse after the current elections in Japan.

In Beijing, China's foreign ministry said the flight had been routine.

"China's maritime surveillance plane flying over the Diaoyu islands is completely normal," said spokesman Hong Lei. — PTI
Sena lends own spin to Vijay Divas rehearsal
MUMBAI: Ignoring the BMC deadline to remove the makeshift memorial to late Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park, the Shiv Sena instead claimed on Wednesday that the 'samadhi' had, in a way, been endorsed by the Indian Army. However, the Army rubbished the claim, adding it was not bothered with political issues and was only concerned with its Vijay Divas preparations at the park.

The Army has started preparations at Shivaji Park for its two-day annual Vijay Divas celebrations on December 15 and 16, to commemorate India's victory in the Bangladesh war in 1971. However, reporting the event, the Sena mouthpiece Saamna on Wednesday stated that the Army had decided to safeguard the small portion of the park where the temporary structure, set up for Thackeray's funeral on November 18, is located, which the Sena has since refused to dismantle.

"The Army has decided to keep the portion free taking into account the 'sanctity' of Balasaheb's memorial,'' said the Saamna. "The Army has saluted Balasaheb", the paper added, indicating that the memorial had the Indian Army's stamp of approval.

But defence officials completely rubbished the Sena paper's claims that the force reached Shivaji Park to guard the makeshift memorial set up by Sainiks. "We didn't bother about their presence. The political party's workers interpreted it wrongly after they spotted defence officials and jawans in a march-past and giving the salute. It was a rehearsal for Vijay Divas. A Sainik probably took pictures of the rehearsal and printed it to show as if defence officials were saluting the memorial, which was totally wrong. We are merely preparing for the event," said the official.

Moreover, the Sena has, in a move to make matters more complicated for the government, been quick to name the temporary structure as 'shakti-sthal', reminiscient of the memorials in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, there are indications that party CEO Uddhav Thackeray may intervene to end the stalemate at Shivaji Park. "It is very likely that Uddhav will step in to resolve the issue,'' said a party functionary. Given the volatile situation in and around the park, the Sena may now be keen on wriggling out of the impasse. Also, a sizeable section in the party wants the memorial row to be settled amicably, he added.

The Sena has already started talks with the government to resolve the crisis. Sena leader Subhash Desai, Mumbai mayor Sunil Prabhu and Uddhav's close confidante Milind Narvekar, have been assigned the task of talking to the state government on the memorial issue.
Now, Army to get own mini air force soon
NEW DELHI: Having recently won a hard-fought turf war with the IAF to get heavy-duty "attack" helicopters of its own, the Army is now pressing the throttle to get its "mini" air force up and flying as soon as possible.

Army chief General Bikram Singh has approved the creation of a permanent cadre for the Army Aviation Corps (AAC) by the end of this month, which will operate light observation and attack helicopters in the short-term and medium-lift choppers and even fixed-wing aircraft in the long-term, sources said.

The US, China and Pakistan are among countries that have a dedicated aviation wing within their armies.

Moreover, raising of "aviation brigades" for each of the 1.13-million strong Army's three "strike" and 10 "pivot" corps (each has around 75,000 soldiers) has already commenced, with one already in place at the 14 Corps deployed in Ladakh.

At present, the AAC operates around 250 light helicopters like Druv, Cheetah and Chetak, while attack and medium-lift choppers were always the IAF's preserve. The Army now wants one attack helicopter squadron (10-12 choppers) for its three "strike" formations - 1 Corps (Mathura), 2 Corps (Ambala) and 21 Corps ( Bhopal) -- in keeping with their primary offensive role. Moreover, it has plans to induct another 114 'Rudra' light combat helicopters for the 10 'pivot' corps.

The force's long-term plans include a squadron each of attack/armed, reconnaissance/observation and tactical battle-support helicopters for all the 13 corps. In addition, the force wants each of its six regional or operational commands to get "a flight" of five fixed-wing aircraft for tactical airlift of troops and equipment.

At present, the AAC has a temporary cadre of around 10,000 personnel, half of them being technicians. The other 5,000 come on deputation of two to three years from the infantry, artillery, air defence, mechanized infantry and the like. "These 5,000 will now be given the option to opt permanently for AAC," said a source.

Direct recruitment of junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and other ranks for the AAC, in turn, will begin from April 2015. As for officers, Gen Singh has directed the military secretary to "substantially increase" the officers being commissioned into AAC from the Indian Military Academy (Dehradun) and the Officers Training Academies (Chennai and Gaya).

"The overall plan is to enhance the complete capability of AAC, from manpower and training to equipment and infrastructure," said the source.

All this comes within two months of defence minister AK Antony ruling that "future" procurements and inductions of attack helicopters -- armed with guided missiles, cannons and rockets to target enemy infantry and tanks on the ground -- will be for the Army.

IAF is worried that it will lead to sheer duplication of efforts and waste of scarce resources. The Army, however, is all gung-ho about getting its own "tactical" mini air force, implying IAF can continue with its "strategic" air role.
Army gets attack helicopters as India eyes China threat
The ability of the Indian Armed forces, especially of the Indian Army, to take on China and Pakistan in the icy Himalayan heights will get a new boost soon.

By March 2013, the Indian Army’s plan to have an inbuilt air component for each of its 13 Corps (a Corps has approximately 60,000 soldiers) will begin to take shape.

According to a plan drawn up by the Army Aviation Corps, each Corps will have three squadrons (30 helicopters) of various types. The three squadrons will have three distinct roles–reconnaissance and surveillance, attack and utility.

While the existing fleet of Cheetahs and Chetaks will continue to have the reconnaissance and surveillance roles, the indigenously built light combat helicopter (LCH), christened Rudra, will combine other two tasks.

Currently, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is tasked with manufacturing 60 LCH Rudras. The first 20 helicopters are expected to be inducted into the Army Aviation Corps starting March 2013 after the choppers are put through the mandatory Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) at the Bangalore-based Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC).

HAL which has developed the armed helicopters will be responsible for carrying out the certification process.

The Rudra will come armed with a M6-21, 20 MM turret gun, 70 mm rockets, besides anti-tank guided missile as well as air to air missiles.

The first two squadrons of the Rudra will be armed with imported missiles. The subsequent batches of helicopters will be armed with indigenously made missiles.

The Rudra is powered by a new Shakti engine which has been jointly developed by the HAL and French engine manufacturer Turbomeca. The new engine will allow the Rudra to fly at altitudes above 20,000 ft.

The Himalayas along the India-China border and in areas along the Pakistan border at places rise to as much as 20,000 feet and beyond. The newly developed Shakti engines will enable the choppers to fly to these heights with a full weapon pay-load.

The importance of the new machines joining the Indian Armed Forces cannot be over emphasised. The current attack helicopters – Russian made MI-25 and MI-35 helicopters cannot fly beyond 12000 feet.

The Rudra is the armed version of the Advanced light helicopter (ALH) that is already in service. The helicopter has integrated sensors, weapons and Electronic Warfare (WEW) suite. The sensors include Infra- Red Imaging, day and night cameras and a laser ranging and designation device.

The helicopter also has advanced missile, radar and laser tracking warning system.

Besides this, to reduce the load on the pilots it has countermeasures like chaff and fare which are dispensed automatically.

Sources told NDTV that the first 60 helicopters will be inducted into the three Strike Corps of the Indian Army, based respectively in Bhopal, Ambala and Mathura and then in formations deployed along the India-China border both in the North-east and Ladakh.

The final plan of the Indian Army is to have a separate brigade of Aviation Corps with each of the 13 Corps of the Indian Army. Each of these Aviation Brigades are expected to have a squadron dedicated to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance, a separate squadron of armed helicopters and third squadron of Light Utility Helicopters for ferrying people and other duties.
Indian Army running short of soldiers
New Delhi: The Defence Minister AK Antony, on Monday, told Parliament that the Indian Army is running short of 10,100 officers and 32,431 men below officer ranks.

Antony, in a written statement, briefed the Lok Sabha about the shortfall. Here they are:

Navy running short of 1,996 officers and 14,310 sailors, as per data collected on September 30

Air Force was short of 7,962 personnel including 962 officers and 7,000 airmen, according to the data collected on December 1.

The reasons for the shortfall described by Antony are:

    Difficult service conditions
    Perceived high risks
    Stringent selection criteria
    Lucrative alternative career avenues

Antony also said the number of military personnel who took premature retirement slipped from 8,563 in 2009 to 8,492 in 2010 and again rose to 11,760 in 2011. The number for 2012 was 10,822.

However, government is initiating necessary steps to encourage youth to join the Indian Army.

He said the government had also taken steps to make military jobs more attractive.
Artillery Divisions in Indian Army - An Analysis-Part 1

The Indian Army saw advent of its first Artillery Division in the form of 40th Artillery Division, which, if I remember correctly, was raised in late 90s. Since then, Indian Army has raised two more such formations with fourth artillery division having been cleared by Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to be raised under Eastern Command.

Not much literature is available (at least I have not come across any) in public domain on the philosophy behind raising dedicated artillery divisions or their composition. Information in form of article(s) may well be buried in issues of magazines dealing with professional military matters in libraries of various think tanks and army training colleges – but out of reach of mango people like me.

As is generally the case with military matters in India’s case, one needs to read material available for other countries and see how much of it makes sense in India’s case. This extrapolation without doubt has errors but then, one works with what one has.

In this blog post, I've tried to answer (to myself and other with enough time to waste on these matters) two questions:

1. Philosophy behind raising dedicated artillery divisions.
2. Indicative equipment profile of artillery divisions

I will try and assess the composition of an artillery division in separate post.

While (a) is based on reading material available for other armies, (b) is based on open source analysis of information (which I will quote). If anyone reading this post has additional information which can be shared on public forum, please do. If there are mistakes, please feel free to point them out.

Artillery Division – Why?

The central question surrounding the formation of an artillery division is – Is it simply an amalgamation of artillery brigades under a higher command HQ or is it a maneuver formation in its own right? Which further leads one to ask is whether the constituent brigades be parceled out as per the requirement or will the formation be used a single cohesive entity to work in tandem with mechanized formations?

[Please see a lively discussion on the topic dated 2002 in Bharat-Rakshak Forum (BRF) archives -]

Now, each Corps HQ in Indian Army has an Independent Artillery Brigade under its command. Cannot one or two more such (I) Arty Bdes be simply added under the command of senior most artillery officer in the Corps HQ? What is the requirement behind raising a dedicated formation?

Concept and Need of an Artillery Division

Well, based on my search on internet and referencing some books on the topic, I am summarizing below what I have been able to understand.

(a)  Maneuver by fire –

The Russians have been the biggest proponent of artillery divisions. The phrase ‘God of War’ used to describe the role of artillery as a battle winning arm in modern battlefield originated in former Soviet Union (‘Bog Voyny’ in Russian). By the end of WWII, Soviet Army had placed 65% of its artillery in artillery divisions which numbered around 90 divisions. This concentration only increased as the Cold War increased in intensity over the years.

The Soviet Artillery doctrine considered use of artillery as a ‘fighting arm’ rather than as a ‘support arm’. They spoke in terms of Artillery Offensive or Fire Strike, where a large concentration of artillery firepower in terms of weight, volume and rate of fire is used to hit at not only the forward areas but those in depth as well - leading to considerable destruction.

Now, the objective of having a maneuver force of mechanized troops (or Cavalry in earlier times) is to place a ‘Force’ in an advantageous position – Force here refers to mobile and protected firepower inherent in this maneuver group. The ability to concentrate humungous amount of firepower leads to a situation where the ‘Force’ is concentrated without committing troops/maneuver formations on the ground. This concentration of firepower to place a ‘force’ in an advantageous position itself represents a “Maneuver by fire”.

This maneuver by fire adds another dimension to the war fighting of current times – the maneuver formations do not necessarily advance under cover of artillery support, they advance to ‘Support’ the Artillery Offensive. The Artillery Offensive or Fire Strike creates the space for the maneuver of mechanized columns. There is interchangeability in mode of expression of ‘Force’ – from combat troops/mechanized columns to long range guns and back to combat troops.

The above is the central premise in favor of having artillery division.

In our context, each of the Strike Corps has one artillery division. When coupled with armored division and Integrated Battle Groups, the artillery division can apply tremendous amount of firepower over the required front. This firepower can be employed for both, degrading (and destroying) the war-fighting capability of the enemy and for creating openings through which the mechanized columns can pour through.

(b)  Command and Control  –

In the Soviet Army of WWII, the control (if not Command) of ‘ALL’ the artillery assets of a given theater of action rested with the senior most artillery commander. Local artillery commanders were known to control even the organic mortar elements of the infantry battalions and machine gun detachments. This allowed the artillery commander to plan and coordinate each element of his fire plan and concentrate the maximum amount of fire-power at the required location.

The above signifies one of the basic tenets of artillery employment – maximum feasible centralized control. An artillery division achieves this admirably where the division commander commands and controls all the assets – he has a dedicated staff which looks into all the aspects of artillery usage – from logistics to communication to fire plans to actual deployment details to coordinating with senior HQ etc. All this would not have been possible by simply adding one or two extra brigades under Corps HQ. The artillery commander in Corps HQ would have lacked the resources to effectively manage so many assets under his control.

There is another aspect to this point – the artillery division commander being the senior most artillery commander, can (if required) effectively control ‘ALL’ the assets in the area of operations. The resources at the disposal of an arty div HQ can be used to plan and coordinate fire assaults of all the guns in the theater. He becomes the single point of input to the Corps Commander on all matters pertaining to employment of artillery assets – from tube artillery to rocket regiment and missile regiments.

As it is, with projects like Shakti (ACCCS – Artillery Combat Command and Control), IA is talking in terms of utilizing all the available guns in a given area rather using only those which are either organic to a formation or seconded to it.

(c) Logistics –

An artillery division of today is likely to consist of tube and rocket artillery along with tactical battlefield missiles. This myriad set of complex equipment brings with it the challenge of upkeep and maintenance – both in peace and war. Apart from this, there is going to be challenge of replenishing stock of ammunition as well as POL and spare parts during combat.

This calls for dedicated support elements under a single umbrella where such activities can be coordinated at a central level.

(d) Administration –

A typical artillery division is likely to consist of 10,000 – 15,000 troops spread across artillery regiments and support battalions and workshops. A senior HQ is required to control and manage this human resource comprising of both offers and soldiers. A division HQ with support elements like Field Ambulance, Dental Section, Military Police and other elements can look after the welfare of soldiers under its command. 

This concludes my understanding of the reasons behind having an artillery division.

The Mystery Formation Sign

Almost a year back, during a discussion on BRF, one of the forumites pointed to a Republic Day contingent of Pinaka MBRL with a previously unseen (at least on BRF) formation sign. This led to frantic internet research and after many hours of hard labor with Google, I finally managed to pin the formation sign to that of 42 Artillery Division. Till then, the general perception was that IA had 2 x Artillery Divisions with third being sanctioned by CCS for Eastern Command.

I’ve used the same formation sign reasoning to reach some conclusions about the composition of Artillery Divisions. Therefore, a short primer on formation sign is in order. Here goes:

The easiest way to recognize the parent headquarter of any military unit is to examine the ‘formation sign’ on vehicles. Each formation – Infantry/Artillery/Armor Division and (I) Armored/Mechanized Bde has unique formation sign.  Not only that, the formation sign of each of the above formations also has a distinct design.  So, while formations signs of Armored Divisions and (I) Armored Bdes have a yellow background, those of infantry have black and those of artillery have blue background.
China blames India for 1962 war
China was "forced into a counterattack" in the 1962 war with India, said a state-run Chinese daily, blaming New Delhi for initiating "a forward policy of sending troops and border patrols into disputed areas". An opinion piece Thursday in the Global Times titled "India still conserves
frontier mentality over 1962 border war with China" said that in recent months, India has taken a high-octane stance in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the China-India Border War.

"In disputes and conflicts between two countries, we shouldn't purely place the blame on one side. Even if one side does bear the main responsibility, we should make an overall reflection," wrote Liu Zongyi, a research fellow of the Center for South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.

The article said that divergences on the McMahon line between China and India were the fundamental reason for the border war.

"The McMahon Line was forcibly imposed on China and India by the British Empire, since China's former Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and India's old Mughal Dynasty (1526-1707) had their frontiers defined by a traditional line instead of a `boundary' in the modern sense. US former secretary of state Henry Kissinger pointed out it is in essence `the interpretation of colonial history'."

The article said that India supported the Dalai Lama's uprising.

"After India provided shelter for the Dalai Lama in exile in 1959, China had to handle the boundary issue with India from a strategic perspective. But the Chinese government has always been in favour of solving the issue through negotiations.

"China's then premier Zhou Enlai flew to New Delhi in April 1960 to negotiate the border issue with then Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, but he refused negotiations. The attitude of Nehru was surely influenced by India's domestic politics: Nehru and his ruling party were attacked on the border issue by opposition parties," it said.

The daily went on to say that that China was "forced into a counterattack in the 1962 war was not only believed by regional specialists but also by strategists like Kissinger".

"After the first military clash between China and India in the border area in 1959, the Chinese military was ordered to retreat 20 km to avoid an escalation of the conflict. This came while India initiated a forward policy of sending troops and border patrols into disputed areas," it said.

The article stressed that since China's policy to stop India's "further encroachment failed, a lightning strike to force India to the negotiating table was the last resort".

Describing it as a "passive counterattack", it said that it was aimed at ending the harassments from Indian troops and bilateral confrontation.

"The war was detrimental to both India and China. Even though China did make India negotiate, India since then has taken China as its biggest threat and taken a militaristic stance. China not only failed to get back its lost territory but created a new rival. This was unexpected," the daily admitted.

The Chinese leadership has repeatedly emphasized that China and India will never be at war again. "If the border problem cannot be solved, it could be temporarily put aside."

Calling for the two countries to view the issue objectively, it said that India's high-profile memorial for the 50th anniversary of the border war seems its military leaders and strategists are not doing so.

"Their reflection is allegedly confined to their country's military weaknesses, such as outdated equipment, misconduct, and poor logistics. If they continue deliberately ignoring the fundamental reason that caused the war, the China-India border problem will never be solved," it added.

"...Hopefully, India's leaders can focus on improving people's livelihoods instead of eyeing bigger defense budgets."

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