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Friday, 19 April 2013

From Today's Papers - 19 Apr 2013
India, China talk Afghanistan post-US troop withdrawal
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, April 18
In what is bound to cause some disquiet in Islamabad, India and China today held their first-ever bilateral dialogue on Afghanistan at which the two countries discussed the situation likely to emerge in the land-locked nation after the withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014.

The Indian team was led by YK Sinha, Additional Secretary (Afghanistan) in the External Affairs Ministry while Luo Zhaohui, Director General of Asia Division in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, headed his country’s delegation at the meeting held in Beijing.

It is learnt that the two countries shared their respective perception of various developments in Afghanistan in recent months, particularly the attempts being made by the West for reconciliation with the Taliban. They agreed that the Afghan issue concerned regional security and stability and they, being the two big powers in the region, ought to remain engaged on it.

Both India and China have strong interest in the stability of Afghanistan after the drawdown of foreign troops. India has committed investments worth about two billion dollars in the war-ravaged nation while China has invested some three billion dollars, primarily in the mining sector.

So far, China was reluctant to hold any dialogue with India on Afghanistan, lest such a move annoys Pakistan, its ‘all-weather’ ally. Pakistan, which seeks to gain strategic depth in Afghanistan after the pullout by foreign troops, has been vehemently opposed to any Indian role in Afghanistan. But the worrisome situation in Afghanistan and the goodwill India has generated among the people of Afghanistan due to its humanitarian assistance programmes have made Beijing realise the role New Delhi might be called upon to play in the post drawdown phase. China is also apprehensive of Pakistan’s help to the terrorist infrastructure in the Af-Pak region because it will have huge security implications for its own Muslim-dominated autonomous region of Xinjiang, which borders Afghanistan.

Officials say the initiative for the bilateral India-China dialogue on Afghanistan also came from Beijing when National Security Adviser Shivshanker Menon visited Russia recently for the trilateral India-Russia-China meeting to discuss the situation in the embattled nation. India also holds a trilateral dialogue with the US and Afghanistan on the Afghan imbroglio.

The Afghan issue had also figured prominently during talks earlier this month on counter-terrorism between India and China. More such interactions are planned between the two countries before new Chinese Premier Li Kequiang’s visit to India in May.

Strong interest

The two countries discussed the situation likely to emerge in the land-locked nation after the withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014

The two sides agreed that the Afghan issue concerned regional security and stability and they, being the two big powers in the region, ought to remain engaged on it

Both India and China have strong interest in the stability of Afghanistan after the drawdown of foreign troops. India has committed investments worth about two billion dollars in the war-ravaged nation while China has invested some three billion dollars, primarily in the mining sector
Cabinet hikes dearness allowance by 8% for central government employees
New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a  proposal to hike the dearness allowance (DA) by 8 per cent to 80 per cent of the basic pay for all central government employees.

The move, will benefit about 50 lakh serving employees and 30 lakh pensioners.

The decision to raise the DA will impose an additional annual burden of Rs. 8,629.20 crore on the exchequer, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters after the meeting of the Union Cabinet.

Taking into account the additional outgo for the January- March period, the total burden during the current financial year would be Rs. 10,067 crore.

The government had raised the DA by 7 per cent in September last year to 72 per cent of the basic pay, effective July 1, 2012.

The government periodically hikes the DA which is linked to the consumer price index (CPI) for industrial workers.
'Want beautiful daughters, join Indian Army' ad gets recruitment centre into trouble
Army Headquarters today pulled up its recruitment centre in Shillong for placing a billboard carrying pictures of Bollywood actresses with defence background to attract youth to join the force.
Army Headquarters today pulled up its recruitment centre in Shillong for placing a billboard carrying pictures of Bollywood actresses with defence background to attract youth to join the force.

The advertisement, which had pictures of heroines Gul Panag, Priyanka Chopra, Sushmita Sen, Nupur Mehta and Celina Jaitley, said, "If you want to have beautiful and successful daughters, join Indian Army."

The officers in the recruiting centre had not taken permission for placing the billboard and were pulled up for this act, army sources said here.

The officers have been warned to be careful in future and have been told that any such repetition would invite serious action, they said.

The issue came to light after people in Shillong started putting the pictures of the advertisement on social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The parents of all the heroines on the billboard have been in one of the three Services.
Indian Army For New SR-UAVs
The latest in the Indian Army's slew of requirements is this one for an unspecified number of short range unmanned aerial vehicles (SR-UAV). The Army currently operates a small fleet of IAI Searcher Mk.2 tactical UAVs and has been looking to augment that capability for a while now. A first lot of indigenously developed Nishant UAVs, in a final trial run, are expected to enter service with the Army this year.

The requirements put down in the new RFI mirror what the Army's Searcher Mk.2 can do. The Army is also in the process of acquiring mini UAVs for its special units and a loitering weapon.
Manpower crunch: Indian Army short of 9,590 officers
The Indian Army is short of 9,590 officers. Sources told CNN-IBN on Wednesday that the current intake of officers at various academies will ensure that the deficit will be cut by two per cent every year.

Intake of officer cadets at the National Defence Academy rose from 1,800 to 2,100 since the last two years.

Meanwhile, a report on Wednesday claimed that the Army is looking to induct 200 more women officers with permanent commission (PC), but has ruled out any combat role for them.
No Combat Role for Women in the Indian Army Now : Army Study Report
Around 200 new vacancies for granting permanent commission to women officers will be created in army but they will have to wait for some more time before getting combat roles, an Army study has said.

The study, under South Western Army Commander Lt Gen Gyan Bhushan, was ordered by Army Headquarters to take a holistic review of the role of women officers and their aspirations.

The study, completed in March, was discussed at the Army Commanders’ Conference last week.

It has recommended opening up of 200 more avenues for permanent commission to women but recommended some more time for army to take a final decision on their role in combat, Army sources said.

The study had also compared the working conditions and roles of women officers in countries such as China, Russia, the UK and the US, which recently inducted females in combat duties.

The 200 vacancies for women officers are to be created in branches, including legal and ordnance corps branches, where they already get permanent commission.

Before finalising the study report, the team of Lt Gen Bhushan met around 350 women officers from all the commands of the force and assessed their ability to withstand toughness required for soldiering.

It also met 120 lady cadets at the Officer’s Training Academy at Chennai and held deliberations with the Director Generals of the various arms and services in the force along with the heads of CRPF and BSF.

The study has also given its views on the impact of increased recruitment of women officers can have on the non-combat postings of their male counterparts, they said.

At present, women officers are posted in peaceful stations only.
Posted on 01 February 2013
by admin

The aviation component of the Indian Army came into existence in 1986, after a great deal of procrastination and considerable opposition from the Indian Air Force (IAF). It continues to be a force that is unable to provide comprehensive aviation support to the army, as its current capabilities are severely limited.

The biggest reason for this is the opposition bordering on paranoia from the IAF.

Army aviation is a force multiplier, on account of its ability to quickly engage, disengage and regroup in the battle zone. Integral aviation assets enable field commanders to exploit fleeting opportunities. This is also true for sub-conventional operations.

Emerging challenges require major restructuring and redefining of the roles and the manner of functioning of this extremely important arm. This needs to be formalised in the context of the likely threats to the nation, keeping in view the changing nature of war and conflicts, and the impact of technology.

The Historical Context

Indian Army pilots had been flying both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters for air observation post duties since 1942. These were Air Force units manned and maintained by Air Force personnel except for pilots who were artillery officers.

The need to have its own aviation arm was apparent soon after the 1947-48 War in J & K, but in the 1950’s it was only flagged in-house within the army. Even though the IAF was not employed during the 1962 war with China, the need for an air arm for the army was acutely felt. Soon after the 1962 War, the proposal for an aviation corps for the army was mooted in 1963. However, it was only in 1986, after 23 years, that it saw the light of the day, after considerable opposition and great reluctance from the IAF. At that time, only light helicopters, already being flown by army pilots, were transferred to the army, while attack and utility helicopters remained with the IAF. Thereafter, the growth of army aviation has been slow and tardy.

Current Status

In the 27 years of its existence, army aviation is still stuck in a changeless groove. As presently structured, it has a number of limitations in aerial platforms, manpower and organisational structures. It continues to be a force that is unable to provide comprehensive aviation support to the army, as its capabilities are severely limited.

The army wants its aviation component to grow but it has not displayed adequate vigour in pushing for a decision on account of a self-imposed policy of ‘staying of its hands’, being the senior and the bigger service! This false sense of not ruffling the feathers of smaller services even when it costs an arm and a leg has served the army badly, not only in ensuring the legitimate growth of army aviation but also in other important spheres!

The IAF is the biggest stumbling block in the growth of army aviation. Its obduracy and opposition are a meaningless and repetitious litany of excuses. The last player the MoD, is unconcerned and is blasé about the army’s requirements! A great pity indeed!

Presently, army aviation flies predominantly light helicopters. It has only about a dozen squadrons and less than 50 Reconnaissance and Observation (R&O) flights, equipped with about 200 Chetak and Cheetah helicopters of 1960 and 1970 vintages, as well as a few utility flights, equipped with the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). The few armed light helicopters (Ranjit and Lancer) are now defunct, though plans exist to arm some ALH (Dhruv) with weapons. The irony is that the attack helicopters currently held have been paid from the army budget, but continue to be with the IAF, despite strong objections from the army. Army aviation does not have its own pilot’s cadre and the existing 460 officer pilots are all seconded from other arms/corps.

The Army Aviation Corps (AAC) needs to perform a variety of roles to be called a complete force, but the present structure of the AAC inhibits it from performing them. The roles it must perform are attack; combat fire support; electronic and visual surveillance; as well as aerial photography; tactical lift; logistical functions; communications; casualty evacuation; provision of airborne command posts; electronic warfare; and monitoring of the nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) environment. However, its present structure and aviation platforms inhibit it from performing all roles.

Unless army aviation starts growing rapidly, the army will not be able to exercise many operational options in future conflicts. The loser will be the nation, but the army will get the blame!

Stance of the IAF

The IAF still thinks that the growth of army aviation is a wasteful process, as the IAF is capable of providing all types of support to the ground forces. It also argues that all air components must be centrally controlled for optimum functioning, cost-effectiveness and best results. At one time they floated the absurd argument that any object that flies must be under the IAF, till it was pointed out that all projectiles of the army delivered from the lowly rifle to guns, rockets and missiles fly through the air! IAF also argues about the difficulties of air space management, forgetting that this is not a problem peculiar to only our air space; militaries of most important countries have found answers, which are efficient and fool-proof.

In actuality, these are mere excuses and the main reason for their inordinately rigid position is the misconception that the growth of army aviation will reduce the size of the IAF! Institutionally, this is anathema to them, as their aim has always been to grow bigger and bigger. It is of course a baseless fear; there is plenty of room for both to grow in their respective spheres.

The IAF had used the same approach earlier to stymie the establishment and later growth of naval aviation, but the navy stuck to its guns, like limpet mines on the hull of ships and did not accept any dilution in their visualisation of the size and shape of the naval air arm. The result is that it has a full-fledged air component, which has contributed immensely to the all round development of the Indian Navy.

While one can sympathise with the aspirations of the IAF to grow to a large and formidable force, it must not usurp the genuine operational requirements of army aviation. Diminishing the fighting potential of ground forces, on account of the grandiose turf considerations of the IAF is not only incorrect but is self-serving.

The army’s treatment of the IAF with kid gloves for maintaining inter-service harmony and not pushing hard enough was with the hope that better sense will prevail. In hind sight, although altruistic, it has been a wrong policy.

Aviation Corps of Selected Armies

All professional armies of the world have their own fully equipped aviation arm, because even the best air forces have severe limitations in carrying out many tasks which are intimately concerned with the land battle. While their organisations may differ, they all have a combination of reconnaissance; attack; utility; and medium lift helicopters, as well as a small proportion of fixed wing aircraft for meeting functional requirements of aerial command posts; communications; electronic warfare; casualty evacuation; and some logistics functions. They are thus immediately available to the land forces commanders for operational tasks of great importance that influence the outcome of battles.

Space does not permit a listing of the structures and organisations of the army aviation components of selected countries in detail. However, the following table not only lists the army aviation platforms of selected countries, but also juxtaposes them with the strength of their militaries and their holding of major equipment in terms of tanks, other armoured fighting vehicles (AFV’s) and aircraft: (Table 1)

INDIA             1,325,000      3,215         1,810            632              250 (-)
CHINA           2,285,000       7,550 (+)   5,150 (+)    2,554              522
PAKISTAN        619,000      2,640 (+)    I,266             376              550
USA               1,477,896       9,573       26,653         4,269           5,263
RUSSIA          I,200,000    23,000 (+)  27,190 (+)    2,080           1,700
UK                   2,24,500          420         4,347          1,300              350
FRANCE         3,62,485          406         8,468          1,330              424
GERMANY      1,48,496          408         1,794             780              568

It would be clear from the table that our army aviation is minuscule when compared to the size of our army and the long and geographically dispersed and varied borders we have to guard.

Rationale for Growth of Army Aviation

The question usually asked by persons who do not understand the intricacies of the land battle is why does the army, or for that matter the navy, need their own aviation arms, especially when we have a first class IAF. The answers are actually quite simple. First, there are certain operational and logistics tasks which are best performed by integral resources of the army or the navy, because of the intimate nature of support and the need for immediate application of aviation assets. It is not possible for air forces to carry out such tasks, however efficient they may be.

Secondly, it is only army pilots who can correctly read the ground and the actions taking place in real time on the ground by rival armies. Even the best air force pilots cannot do so, despite considerable practice. Consequently, the army aviation pilots must man the aerial platforms, which are going to support the operations taking place on the battlefield. Conflicts in various parts of the world have further reinforced this, as it is only integral aviation resources which would provide the field force commander real time battlefield flexibility and consequent enhancement in combat power.

The roles and tasks of army aviation in the coming decades need to be derived by looking at the battlefield milieu of the future. Proxy war, including terrorism by non-state actors are major challenges, which would increase in lethality and vigour. These are in addition to the ever present danger of fighting a conventional war, in the backdrop of a nuclear threat.

Army aviation gives additional tactical capabilities to the field commanders, as their areas of influence increases. It does so by a combination of reconnaissance, mobility and firepower, which enable commanders to exploit fleeting opportunities. Army aviation expands the ground commander’s battle space well beyond the effective range of ground manoeuvre forces at successive echelons of command and enables them to achieve the effects of mass without massing weapons systems.

Army aviation’s greatest contribution to battlefield success is the ability it gives the commander to apply decisive combat power at critical times, virtually anywhere on the battlefield. This may be direct fire from aviation maneouvre units or the insertion of major infantry forces or artillery fires, delivered into combat. This versatility is the very essence of army aviation.

Army aviation plays an important role in counter-insurgency operations too. Tasks include detection by sensors, raids by armed helicopters, quick positioning of infantry to seal escape routes, aerial assault where feasible, and movement of reinforcements speedily by utility and medium-lift helicopters.

Suggested Areas of Growth

Reconnaissance, attack, utility, and medium lift helicopters; medical evacuation platforms; and air traffic control units are all required to support the army. The Special Forces (SF) need dedicated aviation assets for the successful conduct of operations. Army aviation must also provide aerial platforms for command, control and communications, as well as for electronic warfare. In addition, intuitive and versatile leaders, staff officers and well-trained soldiers are also essential for future operations.

In the Indian Army, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) are presently grouped with the artillery. This needs to be changed. UAV’s are best grouped with aviation units, especially as UAV’s and manned attack helicopters have successfully conducted hunter-killer joint operations in the US and other armies. It is a logical and a cost-effective option, which is likely to give better pay-offs.

The operational diversities of the Indian Army, coupled with the variety of terrain; extensive deployment in mountainous and high altitude areas; need for over the crest line observation for reconnaissance by field commanders; direction of artillery fire; casualty evacuation from inaccessible areas; and speedy move of commanders to the forward posts which are difficult to access; make the need for a dedicated aviation unit for every infantry and mountain division and in some cases to independent brigade group levels too a necessity.

In plains and deserts, the integration of the third dimension with mechanised forces by way of attack and scout helicopters is essential. All armoured divisions need a dedicated attack helicopter squadron, in addition to a reconnaissance and observation squadron.

The following recommendations are made to enhance the combat potential of Army Aviation:

• AAC must have a mix of small fixed wing aircraft and a full complement helicopter fleet comprising attack, utility and light helicopters.

• Fixed wing aircraft are needed by AAC for communications duties, as airborne command posts, for reconnaissance and surveillance, for casualty evacuation and similar other tasks.

• The helicopter fleet should consist of attack helicopters; armed helicopters (gun ships); heavy, medium and light lift utility helicopters; observation helicopters; and helicopters for communications, electronic warfare and as aerial command posts.

• One or more composite squadrons specially dedicated for functioning with the Special Forces are essential.

• Headquarters Commands and Corps need to have aviation brigades and divisions should have aviation squadrons. Armoured divisions need to have attack helicopter squadrons in addition.

• UAV’s need to be integrated with the AAC for optimum results.

• All logistics functions need to be integrated within the AAC and the present system of control of logistics manpower by different corps needs to be dispensed with.

• Besides hardware, manpower upgrade, to include a separate aviation cadre, increased intake of aviators; recruitment and training of technical as well as non-technical manpower; revision of war and peace establishments; and introduction of new trades are needed.

• Other changes include modernisation of aviation bases, raising of aviation brigades and logistics units; restructuring of training establishments; enhancement of air field support services; dedicated communication systems; and the upgrade of the Army Aviation Directorate, which is now manned by an additional director general level officer.


The strength of army aviation is in its ability to deploy quickly, conduct reconnaissance and surveillance, manoeuvre rapidly, and apply tremendous combat power for the land forces commander.

Army aviation’s mobility and firepower make it a dominant force, as it gives the commander a force that can rapidly build devastating firepower at any point on the battlefield. Army aviation’s strength is its versatility to deploy quickly, see the battlefield, manoeuvre rapidly, and focus maximum combat power at decisive points.

Army aviation needs to develop organisations that enhance capabilities to support the concepts of operations of field commanders. The force structure should be tailored to meet evolving operational requirements. In addition, aviation organisations should include appropriate maintenance and logistical support elements required to sustain the force. Aviation leadership development should be expanded to prepare aviation leaders for the diverse challenges that this versatile force requires.

The writer, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi is a former Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS).

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