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Friday, 2 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 02 Aug 2013
Indigenous aircraft carrier to be launched at sea on August 12
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1
The Indian Navy today announced that the sea-borne indigenously built aircraft carrier, named Vikrant, will be launched at sea on August 12. The carrier will carry a complement of fighters and helicopters. It is targeted for commissioning into the Navy by end of 2018, including its flight trials.
Vice Chief of the Indian Navy, Vice-Admiral RK Dhowan, said: “About 75 per cent of the carrier has been erected on the dry dock at Kochi and that is correct readiness to launch at sea to complete the outfitting and carry on the trials”. In line with the Naval traditions that a woman launches a ship, Elizabeth Antony, the wife of the Defence Minister, will launch the warship at Kochi at a function.

India is the fifth country, after the US, UK, Russia and France, to attempt and build an aircraft carrier in the 40,000-tonne class. China has imported one from Ukraine, which is still undergoing tests.

It will be 40,000 tonnes and powered by four LM 2500 engines. A crew of 1,450 will be on board. The warship will be 260-metre-long and have breadth of 60 metres. The Russian origin MiG 29-K fighters and under-production Indian fighter, the Naval varient of the Light Combat Aircraft, will be based on its deck. It will also carry helicopters with anti-submarine capability and electronic warfare capability.

The fighter jets will have take-off runaway of 206 metres and with a ski-jump. The landing will be assisted by on-deck wires to stall the jets on landing. “The Indian Navy is looking to have three carrier battle groups (complete with smaller ships, submarines along the carrier),” Vice Admiral Dhowan said. One carrier each of the western and eastern seaboard and the third one is for the back-up.

The warship has an indigenous content of some 90 per cent in its body structure. The engine and its propulsion has some 60 per cent local content while weapons have only 30 percent localisation. The remaining parts have been sourced from Russia while the Italian company Fincantieri has helped in design of propulsion and its integration. The Steel Authority of India and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have produced the warship grade steel, which India earlier had to import. The gear-box has been produced in India and it has been the biggest learning experience.

Explaining why the warship is being launched at this stage, the Vice Admiral said: “The hull of the warship has a tonnage of 21,000 tonnes out of which 75 per cent is complete. The outfitting will be 11,000 tonnes and it will done now. The available draft near the dry dock also has to be factored in: “Even at present, pontoons are being set up under the warship to take it out of its location at the dry dock.

Vital stats

India is the fifth country, after the US, UK, Russia and France, to attempt and build an aircraft carrier in the 40,000-tonne class

China has imported one from Ukraine, which is still undergoing tests

It will be powered by four LM 2500 engines and a crew of 1,450 will be on board

The warship will be 260-metre-long and have a breadth of 60 metres

The Russian origin MiG 29-K fighters and under-production Indian fighter, the Naval varient of the LCA, will be based on its deck

It will also carry helicopters with anti-submarine capability and electronic warfare capability
Five Lashkar militants killed in Kupwara operation: Army
SRINAGAR: Five Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants have been killed in Kupwara district in north Kashmir in an operation launched there on Monday, an army official said.

"Five terrorists of LeT outfit have been killed till today (Thursday) in Hafruda forests of Kupwara district by Kilo Force (of counterinsurgency Rashtriya Rifles) during an operation that was launched on July 29," the city-based Chinar Corps' commander Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh told reporters.

"Five AK-47 rifles and other warlike stores have been recovered from the encounter site," he said.

"A few soldiers were also injured in the operation, but all of them are stable".

Lt Gen Singh said that the group of slain guerrillas had been part of a group of infiltrators group that had managed to reach the forest area in the hinterland.

He said that with the killings of five LeT guerrillas, the total number of guerrillas killed by the army since Monday in the Valley had risen to 10.

"Four infiltrating terrorists were killed in Machil sector Tuesday while another terrorist was killed in Keran sector on Monday," he said.
New approach as Army confronts rising suicide rate
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Gen. John F. Campbell's frustration with the Army's suicide rate is unmistakable when he raises his voice and drops his head as he speaks about it. Despite the programs offered to soldiers, the number taking their own lives keeps rising, including 14 possible suicides in June.
For Campbell, the Army's vice-chief of staff, it's a problem that seems at times almost impossible to solve.

"What's the definition of success?" Campbell asked Friday at Fort Campbell, a sprawling military post on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line. "You have only one suicide? That's still too many."

In an effort to cut the suicide rate as soldiers return from combat in Afghanistan, the Army is rolling out the Ready and Resilient Campaign — a mission to coordinate and integrate myriad Army programs and services.

Campbell said the effort will consolidate multiple programs already offered with the hope of getting to soldiers who are having issues before they rise to the crisis level. It includes an assessment of a soldier's fitness and exercises to strengthen the Army by increasing soldier resilience to bounce back from deployment and any issues related to duty.

As part of a national campaign, Campbell met with soldiers and families Thursday afternoon at the post where he commanded the 101st Airborne Division from 2009-2011. He visited Fort Drum earlier Thursday and will touch Fort Jackson in South Carolina on Friday. In a 30-minute briefing with reporters, Campbell said leaders must embrace the readiness program for it to work.

"They've got to know every single thing they can about their soldiers," Campbell said. "We're pulling out all the stops here."

The idea of reaching out to soldiers early is a good one but it's not something the Army has done well historically, said Kim Ruocco with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a group that helps families of military members who are killed in action or by suicide.

Ruocco, who spent Thursday at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., said the military must overcome a perception among soldiers that reporting mental or emotional distress and seeking help is a bad move.

"There's still a huge, huge fear of seeking help for fear it will end a military career," Ruocco said.

The military had 350 suicides overall in 2012, up from 301 the year before. The 2012 figure is the highest number of suicides for the armed services. The Army had 183 suicides during that same period, up from 167 in 2011.

The anti-suicide initiative has its roots in an anti-stress program introduced in 2009 at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. It starts in basic training and continues through all levels of Army education for officers and enlisted men and women. That program includes discussions by trainees about dealing with emotional issues, watching out for their fellow soldiers and the stress of maintaining a military bearing.

Campbell said the military must identify where and when the suicides are happening — down to the day of the week and the state and region — then figure out the why.

A soldier hospitalized for an injury has an 80 percent higher chance of trying to commit suicide than one who hasn't been hospitalized, Campbell said.

"We've got to learn from that," Campbell said. "We're going to put the resources toward it."

Ruocco said the new program is on target, as is the goal of reaching soldiers early. It marks a change from prior military efforts, which generally intervened with soldiers only after a crisis arose.

Finding soldiers with the simple problems — a recent family or financial issue or despair about finding a post-military job — is key, Ruocco said.

"It's something we're not good at yet," Ruocco said.

Campbell is hoping the military gets better at it and can help as many military members as possible before the last soldiers leave Afghanistan.

"We have a debt that doesn't stop in December 2014," Campbell said.
Army on standby as Bodos’ stir spreads
The Assam government on Thursday requested the Army to be on standby as it sought 15 additional companies of central paramilitary forces in view of a series of agitation programmes — a 12-hour rail blockade called by the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) to be followed by spells of bandh and blockades — to press for creation of a separate Bodoland, even as violence spread to more areas of Karbi Anglong hill district as the statehood movement intensified with mobs torching government offices and public properties in different places.

Principal Secretary Home Shailesh told journalists, after a security review meeting, that the Army has been kept on standby and measures taken to ensure smooth running the train services with adequate security. He said the government would take firm steps to maintain law and order. Top officials of N.F. Railway took part in the meeting called by Chief Secretary P.P. Varma and attended by Director General of Police and other top officials.

In Karbi Anglong miscreants damaged the railway track between Diphu and Doldoli, resulting in disruption of train services to and from upper Assam districts via the hill district. The services were later resumed after the track was repaired.

Statehood movement supporters felled trees on roads in different places of the district to obstruct movement of police, paramilitary forces and fire service personnel.

In curfew-bound Diphu town, moba attacked the radio station, set ablaze a vehicle parked on the campus and also torched a portion of the building and damaged equipment. Miscreants also set fire to and ransacked the office of the literary body, Assam Sahitya Sabha, in the town.

Karbi Anglong Deputy Commissioner P.K. Buragohain told The Hindu that mobs took advantage of topography of Diphu town to defy curfew and indulge in violence. He said Army columns had been engaged in area domination in the hill town since Wednesday, while two additional companies of the Assam police battalion reached there on Thursday.

Wednesday’s violence in Diphu left one dead and at least 20 injured, prompting the district administration to clamp an indefinite curfew on the hill town.

Meanwhile, Congress ministers and legislators representing the hill district, and senior MP Biren Singh Engti, who represents the Autonomous District (ST) constituency comprising the hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, met here in Dispur and decided that a 200-member delegation go to Delhi to meet central leaders to press for creation of an autonomous status within Assam under Article 244(a) of the Constitution.

While Congress leaders in Karbi Anglong and different Karbi bodies associated with the ruling party favour autonomous status within Assam, the opposition Hill State Democratic Party(HSDP) and like-minded bodies have been demanding creation of a separate State by carving the twin hill districts out of Assam.

Sporadic incidents were also reported from several lower Assam districts including Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, where normal life was affected during a 36-hour bandh called by the All Koch Rajbangshi Students’ Union (AKRSU) and several other bodies of the Koch-Rajbangshi community to press for creation of Kamatapur State.
The generals who deposed the Muslim Brotherhood are keener on power than they let on. Will Egypt return to military rule?
ONCE reluctant to appear in the media, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s top general (pictured), is now very much seeking the limelight, perhaps because he would like to run for president. A recent video of him addressing army officers appeared to be shot for public consumption and duly went viral. His spokesman has said that although the general was not yet standing for office there was nothing to prevent him from so doing if he retired from the army.

Egypt’s press has started comparing Mr Sisi to Gamal Abdul Nasser, the hero-general who eventually became president after deposing the country’s last monarch in 1952. Protesters who helped the army to end the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood last month have plastered the streets with posters of the army chief. Many see him as a font of the dignity and security which they feel Egypt has lacked since Nasser’s time. “It is very clear he is entertaining the idea of the presidency,” says Robert Springborg, an expert in the Egyptian armed forces at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
In his politics, the general appears to mix nationalism and Islam. He frequently inserts Koranic verses into conversation and is a more pious man than his predecessor, Hussein Tantawi, who was army chief from 1991 to 2012. During part of this time Mr Sisi was a military attaché in Saudi Arabia. He also studied at the US Army War College in Pennsylvania for a year. Sherifa Zuhur, who taught him, says that one of his daughters wore the niqab, the full face veil, and another wore the hijab, covering her hair, but not her face.

Mr Sisi’s image is tainted by the uproar he caused in 2012 when he was the military spy chief and publicly defended members of the army who had subjected female protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to virginity tests “to protect the girls from rape as well as to protect the soldiers and officers from rape accusations”.
At the war college in America, Mr Sisi expressed a belief that the army must be above politics. Ms Zuhur remembers having the impression that Mr Sisi agreed that Egypt should gradually become a more pluralist state. “But [he] was also cognisant of all the difficulties that entailed for a population which had not ever participated, at that time, in an open election,” she adds.

Until recently, observers saw this opinion as typical of younger and more enlightened officers. The army “displays little interest in governing, wishing instead to protect privileges,” says a 2012 report by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank. The generals’ experience of governing during the first year after the Arab spring seemed to bolster this preference. Being in charge brought untold difficulties and undermined popular support for the men in uniform.

Still, the generals acquired an appetite for power. They initially considered having Mr Tantawi elected as president—a non-starter. In the 2012 presidential election, won by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi, the army leant towards supporting Ahmed Shafik, a former air-force commander who was runner-up.

Following the election, the generals formed an alliance of sorts with the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr Sisi was appointed defence minister last August and purged the army of dozens of officers closely linked to his unpopular predecessor. He cautioned against interfering in politics, warning that interventions such as that which followed the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 could turn Egypt into Afghanistan or Somalia.

At the same time Mr Sisi shored up his support in the ranks. He handpicked the members of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. “Hady”, an ordinary soldier who declined to be named, says that unlike Mr Tantawi, Mr Sisi stressed decent treatment for conscripts. “The ministry of defence became more serious about any complaint from a soldier against an officer,” he says. “The ministry now seriously punishes any officer who is proved to be abusing soldiers.”

However, as the Muslim Brotherhood grabbed more power and simultaneously lost popularity, the generals’ ambitions as well as their interests led them to revise their pledge to stay out of politics. Following last month’s coup, Mr Sisi made himself first deputy prime minister in addition to his post as defence minister. He did also promise to hold elections quickly and appointed Adly Mansour, a judge, as president, but he has done little to suggest a return to the pluralism of the past two years. Scores of Brotherhood leaders have been detained and it looks as if they will be tried. More than 100 of their supporters have been shot by security forces during protests.

The generals’ long-term intentions are hard to make out. Perhaps even they themselves are unsure what they want. Observers see the top brass as surprisingly inept strategists. Yezid Sayigh, a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center, a think-tank in Beirut, says that the Egyptian army has asserted its right to intervene in the political process. That has set it on course for more intervention. But, unlike the Turkish army, it has no real concept of state-building. “They beat the nationalist drum,” says Mr Sayigh, “they talk about fighting terrorism, but none of this is an agenda, none of this is a policy for reform.”

Looking east

For inspiration the generals seem to look to Pakistan, where officers feed off a vast business empire and pay lip service to Islam and helping the poor—while in reality they line their own pockets and rule from behind a protective shield with the help of pliable civilian leaders. And if the civilians get uppity, the army simply resets the political clock.

But the Egyptian armed forces are not even as able as their chaotic Pakistani counterparts. They reached their peak military effectiveness in the 1980s when memories of their wars with Israel were still fresh. A 2008 cable from the American embassy in Cairo obtained by WikiLeaks cites analysts and former officers as saying that the armed forces were no longer capable of combat. For evidence, look to the army’s failure to quell an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai peninsula in the past two years.

According to Mr Springborg, the Sinai shows that the army is not equipped for counter-insurgency or peacekeeping—vital roles for a modern army—because neither Mr Mubarak nor General Tantawi wanted that. Instead they have thousands of tanks and 240 F-16 jets that are, he says, “basically useless. The pilots are lousy, too.” The army is the 14th-largest in the world and has a budget of $4.21 billion in 2012. It also has four museums.

The army often treats civilian institutions with disdain and at times thinks it knows better than ordinary Egyptians what is good for the country. When the armed forces build roads, they are referred to as “gifts to the people of Egypt”. In the Nasser era, propaganda murals showed soldiers marching into the future hand in hand with peasants, workers, teachers and intellectuals. Today similar posters show a soldier in combat gear cradling a baby that is meant to represent the people.

In the 1990s other security forces gained ground and seemed to compete with the army. The interior ministry gained more sway over domestic law and order. The army initially regarded the other security forces as a threat but over time inserted its men into their bureaucracies. Since the ousting of the old regime this development has come full circle. The army once again has the upper hand. The current interior minister is a general, Muhammad Ibrahim. He is resurrecting several notorious units dissolved following the Arab spring, including departments dedicated to monitoring “extremism”, religious groups and political parties. He said he would reinstate officials who had been dismissed since 2011. It was interior ministry forces that committed most of the recent deadly attacks against pro-Brotherhood protests. Mr Ibrahim and the army have denied that they used live ammunition, but that is contradicted by video footage.

As a whole, Egypt’s army is far more than a fighting force. Indeed, combat is perhaps its least developed facility. During the three-decade Mubarak era soldiers became involved in civil administration. Senior officers began to crop up everywhere in the state apparatus as well as in the economy. They wielded power not so much explicitly—unlike under Nasser the cabinet was mostly civilian—as by bureaucratic penetration. Officers sat in monitoring and administrative agencies as well as in local government. Since the 1990s, more than half of the regional governors have been drawn from the army. Meanwhile, buoyed by a privatisation programme, the officer corps captured large chunks of the economy. This provided post-retirement careers and financial security.

Today tax holdings amount to a business empire. It generates income that bypasses public scrutiny and ranges from defence manufacturing to consumer goods. Army-owned firms dominate the markets for water, olive oil, cement, construction, hotels and gasoline. Estimates as to their size vary from 8% to as much as 40% of GDP. Army families also inhabit a parallel universe. They mainly live in separate military cities and go to shops, buy fuel at petrol stations and socialise in clubs run by the army. How sure can they be of hanging on to such privileges?

The army relies on support from civilians who are willing to govern alongside it. Without them, the impression of outright military rule would be overwhelming. Following the ousting of the Brothers, political heavyweights such as Mohamed ElBaradei, the former presidential candidate, and Ziad Bahaa el-Din, a lawyer, lent their support. It is too early to tell if they are puppets or wield real influence. But some have already voiced unease. Mr Bahaa el-Din said the new government should not copy the “oppressive and exclusionary policies” of its foes.

Waxing and waning

For the moment, the army remains remarkably popular. A poll in May gave it a 94% approval rating—compared with around 30% for then-President Morsi and the opposition. But Egyptians have short memories. The army was extolled in the wake of the Mubarak uprising as the protector of the revolution, but later came to be seen as working against revolutionary aspirations. A video from December 2011 of soldiers dragging the “blue bra woman” through the streets of Cairo marked a turning point. Today, in the wake of what Egyptians regard as a second revolution, many once again cheer the army regardless of its past abuses. But for how long? Since Mr Mubarak’s fall the army has tried hard to rebrand itself as the people’s friend rather than a protector of the regime. It is more reliant on public support than ever.

Opinions may turn against the army once again if it cannot fix the broken economy. The Brothers, too, were popular when they came to power, only to find that the people expected them to provide jobs and services that never materialised. For the army to do better, it will have to bring about reforms that the Brotherhood and Mr Mubarak shied away from—or get civilians to do so. But that would threaten its own business empire. It is, after all, a beneficiary of Egypt’s restrictive and anti-competitive practices. Mr Sisi may want to sweep these away, but many of his fellow officers are unlikely to see it like that. He could argue that an unshackled and therefore booming economy would benefit all. But lazy rent-seekers will know better. At least that is what Mr Sisi’s predecessors found.
Playboy and Penthouse taken off the shelves at Army stores as sales plummet
Playboy, Penthouse and other sex-themed magazines will no longer be sold at Army and Air Force exchanges - a move described by the stores' operators as a business decision based on falling sales, and not a result of recent pressure from anti-pornography activists.

The 48 "adult sophisticate" magazines being dropped are among a total of 891 periodicals that will no longer be offered by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at its stores on U.S. military bases worldwide. Other titles getting the ax include English Garden, SpongeBob Comics, the New York Review of Books and the Saturday Evening Post.

Morality in Media, a Washington-based anti-pornography group, called the decision "a great victory" in its campaign against sexual exploitation in the military, and said it would continue to urge operators of Navy and Marine Corps exchanges to follow suit.
Chris Ward, a spokesman for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, said the cutbacks - which took effect Wednesday -would reduce the space allotted to magazines by 33 percent and free up room at the exchanges for more popular products.

He noted that newsstand sales of most consumer magazines were falling steadily as online alternatives proliferated. Sales of the "adult sophisticate" category of magazines at the exchanges had declined 86 percent since 1998, he said.

Hundreds of magazines will continue to be sold at the exchanges. The current top-sellers are People, Men's Health and Cosmopolitan.

Though many types of magazines are among the 891 being dropped, the adult magazines posed particular difficulties, Ward said. Under federal regulations, they required special handling and placement in order to ensure they were properly displayed out of reach of children.

In some respects, the exchange service's decision will have limited impact. Military personnel will still be able to bring explicit magazines onto their bases that they purchased elsewhere, and will have access to online pornography.

However, Morality in Media spokesman Iris Somberg said it nonetheless was a significant move.

"We had military families calling us after seeing porn on the shelves," Somberg said Thursday. "The exchanges are supposed to be a safe place for families to go do their shopping."
Somberg said the presence of sex magazines on military bases was a "contributing factor" to the broader problem of sexual exploitation and sexual assault that has become a high-profile challenge for the military leadership.

"The joint chiefs of staff said we need to change the culture," she said.

"One way to do that is to not have this material sold on base."
Coincidentally, the exchange service announcement that it would drop the adult magazines came shortly after the release of a Department of Defense letter stating that Penthouse, Playboy and certain other sex-themed magazines were allowed to be sold on bases because they were not considered "sexually explicit."

There is a federal law - the 1996 Military Honor and Decency Act - which prohibits the on-base display or sale of hard-core pornographic magazines. A military review determined that the "adult sophisticate" magazines sold at the exchanges did not meet this threshold.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service has annual revenue of $9.2 billion and a workforce of about 40,000 civilian and military personnel. It operates 1,155 retail stores worldwide, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with hundreds of fast-food outlets.
Stasis quo
July 26 marked one more Kargil Diwas and it was appropriate that defence minister A.K. Antony and the three service chiefs led the nation in paying homage to those who had lost life and limb in the Kargil war of 1999.

This symbolism is important for the Indian fauj — to note that the nation and its people have not forgotten the sacrifices made and the raw courage and heroism that enabled India to evict the so-called intruders who were part of Pakistan’s regular Army.
Kargil was Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s audacious plan to stun a relatively complacent Indian Army by seizing a strategic road link in the craggy Himalayan heights and, thereby, compel Delhi to make concessions over the long festering Kashmir issue. It merits recall that Nawaz Sharif was the Pakistani Prime Minister at the time and the received wisdom is that a gullible Prime Minister was kept in the dark by his reckless Army Chief.
Be that as it may, while it is true that the Indian Army was caught unawares — once the extent of the intrusion was realised, the Indian military pushed back and, despite some delays, the Air Force provided valuable air-support — the extraordinary professionalism displayed by young officers and jawans of the Indian Army gave India the military victory of July 26, 1999, now commemorated as Kargil Diwas.
However, Kargil also highlighted the structural inadequacies in the country’s higher defence management and, to its credit, the National Democratic Alliance government led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee set up a committee led by the late K. Subrahmanyam to identify the gaps. Again, in an unprecedented manner, the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) report was submitted to the government in record time and a sanitised version also placed in the public domain. This had never happened in independent India’s military trajectory.
As recommended by the KRC, the National Democratic Alliance government constituted four Task Forces (TF) to examine different aspects of the national security lattice and a group of ministers to examine the TF’s recommendations and make appropriate policy changes. Till that point it appeared as if the long overdue national security revamp of India would, indeed, take place.
One of the central observations of the KRC was that the Indian military was not part of the policy/decision making of the Government of India and that this needed to be redressed. Concurrently, the imperative of appointing a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), thus encouraging jointness — as opposed to single-service silos — and radically re-structuring India’s intelligence setup were also highlighted.
Regrettably, the initial political determination of the NDA flagged soon after the group of ministers completed their deliberations — the eminently desirable structural changes — were kept on hold. Cosmetic changes were effected to higher defence management but the substantial overhaul remained in stasis. The old order prevailed and the country paid a price — first in December 1999 (Kandahar hijacking), then in December 2001 (Parliament attack), and, finally, in the audacious attacks on Mumbai in November 2008.
It may be averred that just as the slide of the Indian rupee represents the poor state of India’s fiscal health, the steadily deteriorating security index of India is representative of the lack of a strategic and holistic military approach. On an exponential scale of 0 to 9, I would argue that from level 5, India’s overall military capability is sliding towards 4.
The more alarming aspect is that the political establishment appears oblivious to this dangerous drift.
The United Progressive Alliance is about to complete its second term, and when it demits office in 2014, it would have been in power for a decade — a reasonable period to fill the glaring gaps in the country’ higher defence structure. The continuity provided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr Antony was a golden opportunity, but it has been squandered.
Evidence of this is reflected in two recent decisions of the UPA-2 — one, to raise the long mooted Mountain Strike Corps; and the second is the reported rejection of the Naresh Chandra committee report.
For over a decade, the Indian Army has been seeking approval and funding for raising a Mountain Strike Corps to deal with the challenge from China and this has been finally approved by the government. Expected to cost about `70,000 crore, spread over seven years, this capability will have specific tactical value in just one sector — the land border with China. But the manner in which the decision was taken, without considering other options —
maritime, cyber or space to exploit China’s vulnerabilities — is reflective of the timidity and inflexible adherence to status quo choices inherent in Indian strategic thinking.
The central question of how best to deal with China’s holistic military profile to protect India’s interests and the best use of `70,000 crore was not raised, and if it was, the existing higher defence apparatus system would not allow for an objective and confident decision to be taken.
The single-service orientation remains deeply embedded in the military hierarchy — reflected in its rejection of a CDS — and the current dispensation of a relatively weak Prime Minister circumscribes the ability of the national security adviser to override an obdurate, ostrich-like defence ministry led by an extremely cautious minister. Adherence to precedent and procedure and the deification of probity at the cost of tangible capacity building has become the hallmark of Mr Antony’s tenure.
This tenacious rejection of any new ideas to revamp the higher defence organisation is also evidenced in the manner in which the Naresh Chandra Committee report seems to have been received by the defence ministry. A series of media reports suggest that the modest proposal of the Chandra report — to set up a permanent chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, as opposed to the current arrangement of a rotating chairman from the three service chiefs — has been summarily rejected.
If this is indeed true, then the stasis in Indian’s higher defence management is all set to become even more firmly entrenched.
A good 14 years after the Kargil War, the collective wisdom of the Indian political class has only served to illustrate an abiding Indian reality — there are no serious stake-holders for Indian national security and the subject does not even warrant a serious debate in Indian Parliament.
Mera Bharat Mahaan.

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