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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

From Today's Papers - 05 Jun 2013
India and Singapore ink new military training pact
NEW DELHI: India and Singapore on Monday night inked a fresh agreement to extend the use of training and exercise facilities in India by the Singapore Army for a further period of five years from August this year.

The pact was signed by Indian defence secretary Radha Krishna Mathur and Singapore permanent secretary of defence Chiang Chie Foo in the presence of the defence ministers of the two countries, A K Antony and Dr Ng Eng Hen, said officials.

Bilateral agreements for utilization of facilities in India by the Singapore Air Force and Army were first signed in October 2007 and August 2008 respectively. The agreement for training and exercises of Singapore Air Force in India was extended up to October 2017 during the visit of Singapore's permanent secretary of defence to India in July last year. Singapore, a city state which has space constraints to train its armed forces, is the only country to which India has offered such facilities.

Antony, who is now on a three-nation visit, arrived in Singapore on Monday evening. "The two sides held wide ranging talks on defence cooperation. They also exchanged views on global and regional security issues including Asia-Pacific Security," said the official. Antony is now headed to Australia in what will be his first visit to that country.
India, Singapore sign fresh pact on Army training
India and Singapore have signed a fresh agreement to extend the use of training and exercise facilities in India by the Singapore Army for a further period of five years from August this year.

The agreement was signed by the Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur and the Singaporean Permanent Secretary of Defence Chiang Chie Foo in the presence of the two Defence Ministers of both the countries, AK Antony and Dr Ng Eng Hen, according to reports received from Singapore.

It may be recalled that a bilateral agreement for utilization of facilities in India by the Singapore Air Force and Army was signed in October 2007 and August 2008 respectively. The agreement for training and exercises of Singapore Air Force in India was extended up to October 2017 during the visit of Singapore’s Permanent Secretary of Defence to India in July last year. Singapore is the only country to which India is offering such facilities.

Mr. Antony, who is on a three-nation visit, arrived in Singapore on Monday. The two sides held wide ranging talks on defence co-operation. They also exchanged views on global and regional security issues including Asia-Pacific Security.

As part of his foreign tour, Mr. Antony will also visit Australia, and Thailand till June 6. In Singapore, Mr. Antony also held discussions with his counterpart on various bilateral co-operation issues as well as issues concerning the regional global security situations.

Mr. Antony’s visit to Australia will be the first ever by an Indian Defence Minister. He will be halting at Perth enroute to Canberra, where he will be received by Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith. Both Ministers will attend a few ceremonial events before proceeding to Canberra. In Canberra, Mr. Antony will be holding detailed bilateral discussions with Mr. Smith and is also expected to call on Prime Minister, Ms. Julia Gillard. Both sides would be discussing measures to enhance exchanges between the defence establishments and armed forces of the two nations.

Mr. Antony’s visit to Thailand is in response to an invitation from the Thai Defence Minister who had visited India in December 2012. During his visit, Mr. Antony will be meeting his counterpart, Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol Suwanatat and is also expected to call on Prime Minister, Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra. Both sides are expected to review on-going exchanges between the armed forces including possible enhancement of on-going Army and Navy exercises and joint patrols along the common maritime boundary between both countries.

The Defence Minister will return home on Thursday.
Antony to visit China later this month
NEW DELHI: Even as India strengthens strategic and military ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, defence minister A K Antony will also be visiting China later this month to discuss de-escalatory mechanisms along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to prevent military face-offs.

Defence ministry officials on Tuesday said Antony, currently on a whirlwind tour of Singapore, Australia and Thailand, will be visiting China in the last week of June to ensure the fledgling bilateral military ties are stepped up with joint military exercises, defence exchanges and confidence-building measures along the unresolved LAC.

The joint ``Hand-in-Hand'' counter-terrorism exercises between the Indian and Chinese armies are all set to be resumed later this year after they got derailed with just the first two editions being held at Kunming (China) in 2007 and Belgaum in 2008.

Antony's visit to Beijing comes in the backdrop of the recent 21-day military standoff in the Depsang Bulge area of Ladakh, which reinforced concerns here about China's ``increasingly assertive behaviour'' all along the LAC.

India, however, remains steadfast about not joining any multi-lateral security construct in Asia-Pacific which can be construed as a strategy to ``contain'' China. ``India will build military ties with countries in the region on a strict one-to-one basis,'' said an official.

Towards this end, India and Singapore on Monday night inked a fresh agreement to extend the use of Indian training and exercise facilities to the Singapore Army for another five years from August this year.

The pact was signed by Indian defence secretary Radha Krishna Mathur and Singapore permanent secretary of defence Chiang Chie Foo, in the presence of Antony and his counterpart Ng Eng Hen.

Singapore Air Force already has such a pact in place till October 2017. With land and airspace being a scarce commodity in the city-state, Singapore is increasingly utilizing Indian military facilities to train its own small but high-tech armed forces under special agreements.

India, for instance, provides facilities to Singapore for exercises of mechanised forces at Babina and artillery at Deolali ranges as well as for fighters at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal. Singapore, of course, pays for access to the training facilities and has even stationed some of its military equipment and small personnel detachments in India on a permanent basis.

On Tuesday, Antony and his entourage reached Perth in the first-ever visit of an Indian defence minister to Australia. With India and Australia slowly cranking up their strategic partnership, the visit will see the two discuss steps to bolster bilateral ties in maritime security, counter-terrorism, military exchanges and joint exercises.

As reported by TOI earlier, Antony's visit comes at a time when the two nations have kicked off discussions on a safeguards agreement to facilitate supply of Australian uranium to Indian civil nuclear plants.

Antony and his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith in Canberra will also discuss the plan to institutionalize a regular bilateral naval combat exercise to build ``interoperability'' between the two forces.

With the Indian Ocean region (IOR) being of critical concern for both, maritime security is a major thrust area. While both are wary of China's increasing naval forays into the IOR, they also want to ``constructively engage'' with Beijing and ``do not want to be seen as ganging up against it''.

Australia, in its recently-released ``Defence White Paper'', has underlined the importance of its partnership with India, describing it as an emerging ``global player'' in the ``Indo-Pacific strategic arc''.

``As India's economy grows and its trade interests expand, it is likely to develop and modernize its power projection capabilities. Over time, India will become a very important partner in building security in IOR and the broader Indo-Pacific region,'' it says. This outreach is in marked departure from Australia's earlier stance of being suspicious about India's growing military prowess.
Russia’s military undergoes combat readiness test
At the end of May, the Russian military was subjected to the biggest exercise in the last two decades to assess its capability to fend off and launch assaults in the sky.
On May 27, several thousand Russian soldiers were woken up at 5:00 in the morning by a surprise alarm. The Russian Ministry of Defence staged the biggest drills in more than twenty years to test the country’s Aerospace Defence Forces, Long-Range and Military Transport Aviation, the Missile Defence Division in charge of defending the Central Industrial Region and Moscow, as well as the Western Military District’s 1st Air Army.
In February this year, the country’s Airborne Forces and Central Military District troops underwent the same test. In March, President Putin ordered that drills be carried out with the participation of the Southern Military District troops, the Black Sea Fleet, as well as Air, Missile Defence and Airborne Forces corps and units stationed in the Krasnodar and Rostov Regions. This time, the exercises were extended to include the Aerospace Forces, which were set up just over a year ago by joining the Space, Air and Missile Defence Forces, as well as Early Warning Radar, Space Tracking and Electronic Warfare units.

The tasks at hand were rather challenging: for example, several Western Military District’s Air Force regiments equipped with S-300PMU2 Favorit surface-to-air missile systems were relocated from the Leningrad Region to the Ashuluk military station in the Astrakhan area. There, the troops marched several dozen kilometres before deploying in pre-combat formations to repel a massive air offensive by the opposing forces.
The role of the aggressor was assumed by several attack aviation squadrons, which took off from the Baltimor airfield near the city of Voronezh to attack the targets at Ashuluk. They launched an offensive at all altitudes, coming at the ground compounds from all directions and using jamming systems to impede target engagement by anti-aircraft radars.

Even so, according to the observers, all cruise missile strikes aimed at the anti-aircraft units were intercepted and aircraft and were destroyed by the S-300s.

The MiG-31 interceptors stationed for round-the-clock combat duty in Russia’s northern territories have trained in detecting and destroying enemy aircraft, the military confirmed. An A-50 radar picket aircraft ensured timely engagement of the approaching targets by the interceptors.
The manoeuvre enemy’s air grouping initiating a large-scale missile and air strike launched several cruise missiles at the ground targets from the outer radar detection limit beyond the MiG-31 interception range. The A-50’s radar system was able to detect the launches and the MiG-31 interceptors shot the cruise missiles down.

During the drills, the Western Military District’s bombers were redeployed to defend the outlying airfields against Su-24 and Su-34 attack aircraft bombing and carrying out missile strikes on ground targets, as well as to launch an offensive against the enemy aircraft and cruise missiles in the sky. In the meantime, the Aerospace Defence Forces were warding off hostile sea-borne assaults.

The Russian Aerospace, Air and Anti-Missile forces have not participated in any drills of such a scale for more than twenty years. Given the absence of any public media reports on previous military exercises involving Moscow’s missile defence troops, which are now part of the Aerospace Forces, the Russian government seems to attach great importance to keeping these units ready to counter an unexpected nuclear strike.

The Russian military did not disclose who the potential enemy dealt with during the drills was but there are reasons to believe we may already know the answer.

Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over plans to create a European missile shield. This issue was highlighted in a recent communication exchange between Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, as well as at an international conference on European security held in Moscow the day before the drills. After the event, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu paid a visit to the Voronezh-DM early warning radar station in service in the Kaliningrad Region.
In this light, the question of which state or organisation is capable of challenging Russia’s missile defence today has quite an obvious answer: the United States and NATO, respectively. Apparently, they were the “potential enemies” during the drills.

No foreign military observers were invited to monitor the manoeuvres – not only because the decision to carry out the drills came at such short notice but also because the Vienna Document only requires experts from abroad to be present at military exercises in which more than 9,000 people participate. This time, the drills were 300 people short.

At a Russian Defence Ministry general meeting held on May 30, it was confirmed that surprise tests assessing the combat readiness of various military districts, services and branches of the country’s armed forces will continue in the future.
Standing Parliamentary Committee of Defence reviews NE security
SHILLONG: The Standing Parliamentary Committee on Defence today reviewed security preparedness of the army and the air force guarding North East India's international border with China.

The 15-member committee reviewed the preparedness of the army and the Eastern Air Command of the Indian Air Force whose mandate is to guard the skies in the region.

Declining to divulge details and the recommendation that the committee would give to the Centre on inputs from the army and the airforce, Committee member Prakash Javadekar told PTI here that the force's preparedness vis-a-vis the China border was discussed.

"We have been to Bagdogra and Gangtok and we were supposed to go to Tawang, but inclement weather conditions prevented us," Javadekar said.

The Committee's review is significant in view of the recent incursion of the Chinese in the Ladakh region.
China changes maritime strategy, might lead to direct confrontation with US
China's People's Liberation Army is ramping up the maritime strategy by holding naval operations within the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around the United States in an apparent bid to challenge America's Asia-Pivot push.

Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of US forces in the Pacific, told the Shangri-La Dialogue, a high-level defence forum in Singapore, that PLA navy had started "reciprocating" US navy's tactics of sending ships and aircraft into the 200-nautical-mile zone off China's coast.

China's experts on the international law of the sea said the move suggested a significant change in China's maritime strategy and development policy, while others apprehend that it could lead to direct confrontation.

It is assumed that the PLA Navy is getting active near the Pacific island of Guam, an important outpost for the US military in the Western Pacific, as the waters around Hawaii and along the West Coast of the United States are still too distant for operations by the PLA Navy, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post reported.

Zhao Yadan, a maritime expert with Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said that it was a significant development in China's maritime policy and suggested that "Beijing is moving towards international norms".

"That says that Beijing is accepting the international norms, which emphasise the right of free navigation on the high seas," the Post quoted him as saying.

Ni Lexiong, director of the university's Institute of Maritime Strategy and National Defence Policy, said it reflected Chinese leaders' "changing concept of maritime

affairs following the rapid development of China's maritime industry and rising strength of its naval force in the past decade".

China and the US have struggled to agree on rules for operating on high seas amid rising tensions across the region as China's military strength grows. In the past month, Japan has detected three foreign submarines near the Okinawa Islands.
Militants hurl grenade at Army vehicles in J&K, 5 injured
SRINAGAR: A police head constable was among five people who were injured on Tuesday when militants hurled a grenade at army vehicles near Deputy Commissioner's office in Anantnag district of south Kashmir, police said.

Militants lobbed the grenade at two stationary army vehicles near Khanabal Chowk in Anantnag town this afternoon, the police said.

The grenade exploded after hitting one of the army vehicle, injuring four civilians and the police head constable, they said.

The army vehicle was damaged in the blast, the police said.

Security forces have cordoned off the area which houses several government offices, including Deputy Commissioner's office.

No militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
Bridging the soldier-scholar divide
Last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation for the nation’s first defence university at Binola in Gurgaon which is expected to be fully operational by 2018. Dr. Singh expressed his hope that when completed, the Indian National Defence University (INDU) “will become [a] world class institution of higher defence studies in which we will be able to take justifiable pride.” Given the dismal state of other institutions of higher learning in India, this might be a tall order but at least a first step has been taken towards establishing INDU, a project that has been part of the national discourse for decades now. Though various committees had recommended the setting up of a national defence university, the government had been dragging its feet on the project. Things are finally moving now but it will be quite some time before INDU is up and running.
Outside templates

The nature of the challenges facing defence in the 21st century emphasises the vital requirement of education in a military officer’s career. While a key strength of the military organisation is its cohesiveness, underpinned by doctrine and systems, it is also true that the challenges posed by the use of military force in the world today require officers who can think and act independently of templates or formulaic guidelines. These challenges flow from changes in the strategic environment driven by social, economic and political factors which in turn affect the character of warfare and, by extension, security as a whole. As a consequence, there is a need to focus on enhancing the level of Professional Military Education (PME) in India.
More art than science

The aims of modern PME should be to: develop the military officers’ knowledge and understanding of defence in the modern world; demand critical engagement with current research and advanced scholarship on defence and its relationship with the fields of international relations, security studies, military history, war studies and operational experience; encourage a systematic and reflective understanding of contemporary conflicts and the issues surrounding them; promote initiative, originality, creativity and independence of thought in identifying, researching, judging and solving fundamental intellectual problems in this area of study, and develop relevant, transferable skills, especially communication, use of information technology and organisation and management of the learning process. Indian PME lacks every single one of these dimensions.

A key point to note about the development and application of knowledge in the military context is that it is generally considered an “art” rather than a “science” because warfare is essentially a human and social activity. There seems to be a virtual consensus that there is no single optimal solution to a particular military problem. Moreover, the inherent complexity of warfare makes it impossible to derive universal laws of war and, even if they could be derived, the way they would be applied and acted on would depend on the human interpretation of individual leaders.

Notwithstanding some debate on the issue, the overwhelming consensus is that the analytical tools and assumptions for theory-building in the military setting should be derived from the social rather than the natural sciences. As a military professional, the quality of abstract and theoretical analysis will increasingly underpin the utility and value of the armed forces to its clients (government and society). And it is here that PME in India continues to lag behind most spectacularly. This needs to be rectified with some urgency if India wants to produce military officers who are capable of operating in a highly complex security environment.
Knowledge terrain

It is the task of not only the soldier but the state and the society at large as well to study war, to think about it, to consider it in all its multiple guises, assessing its different constituents, its causes and consequences. After all, if we want peace, we need to be prepared for war. And in order to be best prepared for it, we first need to understand it well. This will be especially true of the emerging strategic environment where understanding the knowledge terrain will be as important for future soldiers as knowing the geography or topology of the battlefield was in the past.

The Indian military needs to evolve a culture of independent strategic thinking on an urgent basis, one that allows its soldiers to comprehend national security in all its various dimensions. The setting up of INDU is a long-awaited step that can help it in achieving this goal if it is led and structured professionally.

Otherwise, there is a danger that excessive political interference, bureaucratic inertia and inter-services rivalry might end up making it another substandard institution of higher learning that dot the national landscape. And that would be a real tragedy because as [Greek historian and Athenian general] Thucydides once suggested, “the nation that makes great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.”

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