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Saturday, 2 November 2013

From Today's Papers - 02 Nov 2013

 Equipping today's military
No facility has been set up to produce hi-tech weapons
by Lt-Gen GD Singh (retd)

In a belated response to the killing of five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control (LoC) near Poonch, Defence Minister AK Antony says he has given the Army a free hand to counter Pakistani adventurism. It is important to consider what options the Army has to retaliate with. There are few options other than so-called "fire assaults," in which heavy artillery barrages are directed at enemy posts. This measure dates back about a century to World War I, and uses guns from that era, albeit with better accuracy.

The outcome would be little, other than the deaths of civilians along the LoC, and perhaps the odd Pakistani soldier who had no direct role in the Poonch incident. Is this what modern India would term a "befitting reply"?

Since we know the implications of physically crossing the LoC, what is required is a contemporary menu of hi-tech weapons that can strike with pinpoint precision at targets from distances, allowing Indian posts to retaliate at a local level against local Pakistani forces at the site of an incident, without collateral damage to civilians. Armies that never fire a shot in anger have these modern hi-tech weapons, but the Indian Army — deployed eyeball-to-eyeball with Pakistan on the LoC — makes do with vintage equipment.

Astonishingly, not one out of a plethora of elected leaders and long-serving bureaucrats and generals is held accountable for this hollowness in capability. While hollow promises and chest-thumping fills the public space, nobody — not the Defence Minister, the National Security Adviser, the Defence Secretary nor the Army Chief — have ever had to explain why an incident has taken place and why the Indian Army has come off second best.

Nor has anyone had to explain why the systematic process of capability creation has failed to create the military instruments needed to deal with the security challenges that are so evident every day. Instead, there is a blame game. The military, diminished by excessive political and civilian bureaucratic domination since Independence, has been systematically deprived of the decision-making and financial powers needed for replenishing its capabilities. The generals, admirals and air marshals, unsurprisingly, blame the politicians and babus for the mess they are in, specifically the tardy progress of modernisation proposals. Across the military spectrum, the belief is that crucial projects are delayed by infructuous observations by unaccountable bureaucrats, with the military's operational preparedness being the loser.

Indigenisation of defence equipment has been a long-standing national objective.While we understandably wish to reduce our vulnerability to interruption in the supply of equipment, defence indigenisation has simply not taken off. The longest-serving Defence Minister since Independence, Mr AK Antony, has talked consistently in Parliament, defence functions and in defence seminars (which is a growth industry in India) about the need to reverse India's equipment ratio of 70 per cent imported and 30 per cent indigenous. He is never forced to answer why not a single factory has been established to produce high-technology weapons and equipment; or why nothing is in the pipeline. Instead, he gets away with statements of grandiose intent.

India, with its major requirement of expenditure on social sectors, needs to spend smart. During the next five years, some $80-100 billion will be spent on capital acquisitions. A coherent strategy is needed to achieve our vision of indigenisation. Our Defence Minister, whose party clout occupies him with organisational matters, must spend more time within the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Firstly, Mr Antony must abandon his endless refinement of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), which has already been taken through six editions without any semblance of a big idea behind it. With procedure more important than outcome, piecemeal changes of procurement rules have solved no problems; instead they have rendered even more impassable a bureaucratic thicket of rules. What the stakeholders — the military, foreign vendors and Indian industry — want is a clear over-arching procurement strategy, not an unhealthy focus on procedures that are merely tactical. The MoD seems to have forgotten: "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."

Along with an overarching aim and procedures, we need a procurement road map that specifies clear timelines. Delays must be investigated and accountability fixed for all delays, whether in overseas procurement or in indigenous development. It is revealing that not a single bureaucrat, military officer, scientist, technologist, industrialist or political leader has ever been held accountable for delays in acquiring defence equipment. On the other hand, Mr Antony's MoD views with suspicion any official who pursues a procurement with any degree of urgency. The question that time-conscious bureaucrats immediately face is: "Do you have a personal interest in rushing this through?"

We also need to be more pragmatic about our desire to quickly indigenise the defence industry. Shortcomings that are severely damaging our operational capabilities need to be made up through purchases from the international market. This must be treated as a necessary evil, since the development cycle of an indigenous platform is normally eight to 10 years. It has been seen that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) route alone cannot be relied upon; we need to systematically develop indigenous design and manufacturing capability in the private sector as well.

The private sector can be extremely useful in bringing foreign investment and technology into the defence sector. The MoD must facilitate, not frustrate, private Indian companies that wish to enter foreign partnerships in order to bring in proven, state-of-the-art technologies. The technology competence of Indian defence industry is at least 25 years, if not more, behind advanced defence industries. Since the defence business requires huge investments in state-of-the-art equipment, technologies and human skills, with gestation periods of up to a decade before profits start accruing, foreign manufacturers need to be incentivised with larger stakes in the joint ventures that are set up. The FDI cap in defence needs to be raised immediately to at least 49 per cent, with 74 per cent likely to provide quicker technology returns.

All of this will only work if private industry is clearly and specifically informed about on the military's requirements of state-of-the-art technologies that India requires in the short, medium and long terms. This would enable private corporations to deploy resources in military research and development with the confidence that these investments are directed towards a specific goal. The MoD's recently released "Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap", or TPCR, fulfils this requirement only in name. It must spell out the military's technology and equipment requirements in far greater detail. And the MoD must be prepared to fund at least 80 per cent of the cost that private corporations will incur; this is not a change of direction, since it funds 100 per cent of the cost that the DRDO incurs in developing military equipment.

The MoD must think seriously about other essential reforms. Among these are the need for a roll-over policy that allows unspent modernisation funds from one year to be rolled over to the next; and the need to do away with no-cost, no-commitment trials, which places an unfair onus on the vendors that is duly passed on to the MoD. Finally, the military must abandon its long-standing practice of raising unrealistic and technically flawed requirements for procuring new equipment. This has become one of the biggest causes of delay, with tenders having been cancelled since no vendor builds or sells equipment that the Indian military considers essential.
Pak Taliban chief Mehsud killed in US drone strike
Peshawar/Islamabad, Nov 1
Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud was among six militants killed in a US drone strike in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region today.

Besides Mehsud, his uncle, bodyguard Tariq Mehsud and driver Abdullah Mehsud were killed when the CIA-operated spy plane targeted a compound in the Danday Darpakhel area of North Waziristan, Pakistani media reported.

Taliban sources confirmed Mehsud had been killed and the funeral would be held in Miranshah tomorrow at 3 pm.

Earlier, intelligence sources were quoted by Dawn as saying that the attack left Mehsud dead. Geo News, too, quoted security sources as confirming the Taliban chief's death.

The compound was "completely destroyed" when two missiles hit it while an important meeting of the Taliban was being held there, the sources said.

There was no official word on Mehsud's killing. This would be the latest in a string of setbacks for the top leadership of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, who have been repeatedly targeted by US drones in the tribal belt. — PTI
 targeted in North Waziristan
CIA-operated spy plane targeted a compound in North Waziristan, killing Hakimullah Mehsud (pic) and five other militants on Friday, Pakistani media reported
An important meeting of the Pakistani Taliban was reportedly being held on the compound when two missiles hit it
Taliban sources confirmed Mehsud had been killed and his funeral would be held in Miranshah at 3 pm on Saturday
Army feels the communal hatred pinch on social media
Ajay Banerjee/TNS
New Delhi, November 1
Sometime in the first week of October this year, a post on social networking site Facebook startled the cyber watch group of the Army in New Delhi.

A Facebook account user under the name of “Indian Army” posted a communally sensitive “doctored” picture, giving the impression as if the Army had posted that picture.

The picture depicted the scene of a bomb blast that occurred inside a mosque in Pakistan a few months ago. The person posting the picture on Facebook had claimed that it was the scene inside a temple in Pakistan and said: “This was the manner in which Hindus are massacred in Pakistan”.

The person went on to question the logic behind holding peace talks with Pakistan. In a few days, the picture has had a few thousand people sharing it on their Facebook accounts, thus furthering the lie that it was posted by the “Indian Army”.

The Army initiated a three-pronged action. First of all, it informed Facebook about the fake account and asked it to block it.

Secondly, the Army informed the Ministry of Information Technology through the Ministry of Defence seeking action against all those masquerading as “Armed forces” or the “Indian Army”. Then, the Army got its own Facebook and Twitter accounts verified.

Army officials said people had been warned against wrongly using the name of “Indian Army” to peddle their personal agenda on Facebook. The next step would be to lodge FIRs against such persons.

Officials said the Army does not post any picture naming any community or question the government policy on any neighbour and has asked Facebook users of being alert and not to “re-post” or “share” any such communally sensitive material posted by fake users.

The issue of misuse of social networking sites also cropped up at the meeting of the National Integration Council on September 23 this year. All chief ministers attending the meeting had asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to initiate action. The Information Technology Act allows the police to book individuals spreading falsehood, but getting such content deleted is a bigger task. The servers of most websites are in Europe or in the US, thus allowing India no control over these.

“These nations interpret issues as per their conditions and explaining the matter to them takes time. Days are lost before the objectionable content is deleted,” a functionary said. The recent Muzaffarnagar riots in UP allegedly owe their origin to the murder of a youth over eve-teasing. A morphed video on the Internet, however, showed how “Hindus” were being “ill-treated” by Muslims and became one of the trigger points for the riots. A BJP MLA has been booked for uploading the video.

In August 2012, a fake video (with origin in Myanmar) was circulated showing Muslims being ill-treated by Bodos in Assam. It led to a clash in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan.

Soon after, another fake video egged one community to attack people from the North-East, leading to a mass exodus of north-easterners from Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai.
 doctored pictures posted
A Facebook account user under the name of ‘Indian Army’ posted a communally sensitive ‘doctored’ picture recently
The picture, depicting the scene of a bomb blast in a mosque in Pakistan, was posted on Facebook claiming that it was the inside of a temple
“This was the manner in which Hindus are killed in Pakistan”, it said
There have been several other such posts on Facebook
India steps up military aid to Myanmar to offset China’s might
NEW DELHI: From rocket launchers to Islander maritime patrol aircraft, wargaming software to counter-insurgency training, India is steadily stepping up military aid to Myanmar to counterbalance the deep strategic inroads made by China into that country.

During his ongoing visit to Myanmar, Army chief General Bikram Singh has held talks with President U Thein Sein, foreign minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, commander-in-chief of the defence services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, among others, to discuss measures to further bolster bilateral defence cooperation.

"Myanmar is very keen to expand its defence ties with India in terms of supply of military equipment and spares, training and border cooperation. The country has agreed to base an Indian Army Training Team on its soil, on the lines of what we have with Bhutan, Botswana and others, in the near future," said an official.

India is providing rocket launchers, mortars, rifles, radars, night-vision devices, Gypsies, bailey bridges, communication and Inmarsat sets as well as road construction equipment like dozers, tippers and soil compacters to the Myanmarese armed forces.

A unique gesture during Gen Singh's visit was the handing over of two wargaming software packages called "Combat decision resolution" and "Infantry company commanders tactical trainer" customized for training of the Myanmarese Army as well as five hand-gliders for the Defence Services Academy at Pwin Oo Lwin.

"India has also offered the Myanmarese armed forces special training packages in the Indian Army's counter-insurgency and jungle warfare school at Vairengte in Mizoram. The Army alone already provides them over 100 vacancies every year in its different training establishments. The Navy and IAF, too, are chipping in with training," said the official.

"They are very keen on courses in mechanised forces like tanks and infantry combat vehicles, information technology, intelligence and English language, among other areas. The Myanmar Army chief will be visiting India from December 11 to 14," he added.

After disregarding China's expanding footprint in Myanmar — the only Asean country with which India shares a 1,643-km land as well as a maritime border — New Delhi has been trying to play catch-up over the last few years. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Naypyitaw in May 2012, the first such visit in 25 years, established the foundation for enhanced diplomatic, economic and military cooperation with Myanmar.

Since then, defence minister A K Antony and IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, also the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, have also visited Myanmar to cement the military ties. Even the western countries are now trying to engage with the Myanmarese military junta, with Barack Obama becoming the first US President to visit Naypyitaw last November.
Indian allegations on Pakistan Army were baseless: Bashir
NEW DELHI: Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir said that the Indian defence minister leveled baseless allegations against the Pakistan Army, Geo News reported Friday.

Salam Bashir arrived In India on Saturday on a two-day visit. While talking to the reporters, he said that India should avoid leveling such undue allegations against Pakistan. He continued saying that Pakistan Army displayed patience and maturity over the line of control (LoC) conflict.

The High Commissioner told that the Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Prime Minister's Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz will have a meeting in New Delhi this month.
India should use lines of communication instead of accusations: Pak

New Delhi: Pakistan High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir on Thursday Bashir rejected Defence Minister AK Antony's statement the that Pakistan Army was aiding infiltration along the LOC. "I think the narrative should be how to work this out, rebuild trust, and not play out such things in the public domain," said Bashir in an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN. "Instead of making statements accusatory to Pakistan, India should use lines of communication. I don't think it helps to level allegations as it restricts our space to engage. It isn't a good thing," he said.

"The Pakistan military has shown great responsibility and restraint," he added. He also confirmed that External Minister Salman Khurshid and Pakistan Foreign Commissioner Sartaj Aziz will meet in Delhi in November. Antony has said that the Pakistan Army has upped levels of firing and had helped terrorists not just at the LoC but at the International border too. Pakistan has come under sharp criticism after the number of ceasefire violations on the LoC has gone up tremendously.
To correct an institutional mismatch
 The editorial page lead article in The Hindu, “The general and his stink bombs” (September 30, 2013) flagged the “dysfunctional relationship between our democracy and the military.” This serious issue, directly impacting on a citizen’s security and country’s sovereignty, needs to be addressed in its proper perspective.

To do so, we need to draw on the centuries-old wisdom of Kautilya, reiterated in modern times by the General-turned-President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower: “When diplomats fail to maintain peace, the soldier is called upon to restore peace. When civil administration fails to maintain order, the soldier is called to restore order. As the nation’s final safeguard, the army cannot afford a failure in either circumstance. Failure of army can lead to national catastrophe, endangering the survival of the nation.”

This sums up the role performed by our military and the criticality of an abiding and democratic civil-military relationship, lest the nation should face a catastrophe. It should be realised that in war or conflicts, military men do not offer the “supreme sacrifice” just for money or rank. There is something far more precious called “patriotism and honour”, and this is embedded in the Indian Military Academy credo which none of the civil servants or politicians has gone through but most military leaders have. The civil-military relationship should be moored on such an anchor.

Not a democratic equation

This is not so in India’s current “democratic dispensation” wherein the politico-civil elite continues to suffer from the feudal-aristocratic mindset of Lord Alfred Tennyson (“Charge of the Light Brigade” – 1854): “Theirs not to reason why,/Theirs but to do and die.” This was reflected in the observations made by the Union Minister of State for Defence while delivering the Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa Memorial Lecture in mid-2012: “The military forces have remained loyal to the elected government and have been its obedient servant.” Such an equation is not democratic.

Ironically, it is the military leaders who have attempted to define a democratic civil-military relationship. In his treatise “The Soldier and the State” (1998), the former Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, lays it down with a fair amount of clarity: “The modern military profession exists as part of the government insofar as the term ‘government’ includes the executive departments of the nation-state... Modern democracies therefore pay great attention to the supremacy of the political class over the military in governance, normally referred to as ‘civilian control of the military.’ This is clearly how it should be, since all ultimate power and decision making should be wielded by the elected representatives of the people.”

On the eve of demitting office in 2012, General V.K. Singh fully endorsed this view with a compelling caveat: “I am a firm believer in civilian supremacy over the military in a democracy. I subscribe to the views of Admiral Bhagwat. However, civilian supremacy must always be rooted in the fundamental principles of justice, merit and fairness. Violation of this in any form must be resisted if we are to protect the Institutional Integrity of our Armed Forces.”

The combined views of the former chiefs of the Navy and the Army set forth certain non-negotiable imperatives for the civil-military relationship: democracy as a vibrant and functioning entity with the “elected representatives of the people” running the government as per established democratic norms; the military profession existing as part of such government; civilian supremacy to be exercised by the “elected representatives of the people”; such supremacy to be rooted in the principles of justice, merit and fairness; a violation of this can be resisted to protect the institutional integrity of the armed forces.

Whether governments in India are being run as per established democratic norms is a burning question. Even so, India’s professional military is meant to protect, safeguard and sustain our democratic republic wherein live one-sixth of the human race. Therefore, it is imperative that a democratic civil-military relationship framework existed, was practised and sustained. But unfortunately this has not even been attempted; the civil-military relationship is not mandated in the governance system.

Matters drifted, intrigues prevailed and things have happened in recent years and months that strike at the very roots of the Army as an institution.


The fallout of the sordid happenings on the Indian Army was best summed up by defence analyst Maroof Raza: “The system has closed around the chief and this will only embolden the bureaucracy. The fallout will be that at least for two generations, no military commander will raise his head. And the message for military commanders is that it isn’t merit or accuracy of documents that will get them promotions, but pandering to the politico-bureaucratic elite. The last bastion of professional meritocracy in India has crumbled. The damage will be lasting.”

Despite such a damning indictment, nothing has been done to undo the damage. What is worse, the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister chose to ignore the letter written by Admiral L. Ramdas, the former Navy Chief, in July 2012 raising serious military and national security issues and seeking a high-level inquiry and remedial action.

This epitomises the near-total collapse of the institutional framework and the atmosphere of suspicion and alienation between the civil and military hierarchies. This is evident from the recent high-octane controversy following the ‘leaking’ of the top-secret report on TSD, a covert unit of the Army, the activities of which are directly related to the safety of the soldiers on the borders, retribution on the enemy and the security of citizens. This episode, which has created a lot of bad blood between mainland India and Jammu & Kashmir, appears to be a ploy to justify the scrapping of this unit by the Army Chief. This has led to consternation among senior Army officers, who confide that this action is the single major cause for the recent spurt in cross-border intrusions and ceasefire violations that have led to several deaths on the Pakistan border.

It is better to light a candle rather than continue to curse darkness. Civil and military establishments are all a part of governance that comprises the complex mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, mediate their differences and exercise their legal rights and obligations. The military should be an intrinsic part of such a governance mechanism.

Democratic governance is participatory, transparent and accountable and promotes justice and the rule of law. Governance includes the government, which is its dominant part, but transcends it by taking in the private sector and civil society. All three are critical to sustain human development and national security. Because each has weaknesses and strengths, democratic governance is brought about through constructive interaction among all three — which role civil society would play.

Parliamentary oversight

Once we broad-base the “defence” or the “military” and move towards “national security,” civil society participation becomes imperative. Governance then could really become a catalyst for civil-military relationships, and bureaucracies cannot play spoilsport.

This, coupled with parliamentary oversight, is the best form of “civilian control of the military” in a democracy, and that is what military leaders have defined. A set of rules governing such a relationship between civilian authorities and the military, and balancing the financial needs of defence and security, are the needs of the hour.

With this concept at the core, steps could be taken to build and sustain a democratic and functional civil-military relationship by implementing recommendations by expert committees and groups lying buried in the vaults of the Defence Ministry.

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