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Friday, 22 November 2013

From Today's Papers - 22 Nov 2013

PMO leaked sensitive info, says VK Singh

New Delhi, November 21
Former Army Chief Gen VK Singh has written to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde alleging “conspiracy” by officials in the PMO and the Defence Ministry behind leak of sensitive information and demanded inquiry to bring out the truth.

In his letter, the former chief has talked about leak of sensitive information about the Technical Security Division — a controversial intelligence unit set up by him — and his letter to the Prime Minister about shortage of arms and ammunition in the Army. The former chief has also named a few journalists for leaking sensitive information. — PTI
 India, China to sign visa pact
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 21
India and China propose to sign a liberalised visa agreement soon, sources said today. The accord was to be inked during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing last month but India put the proposal on hold to register its protest over the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi issuing stapled visas to two Arunachal Pradesh athletes who were to go to China for a sporting event.

Sources said the two countries were also trying to find a ‘practical’ solution to the problem being faced from time to time by the people of Arunachal Pradesh in getting proper visa to travel to China since Beijing lays claim over a large part of the territory in the Northeastern state.

Asked if China had raised any objection to India’s proposal to raise a Mountain Strike Corps to counter Beijing, sources replied in the negative. “It’s our internal matter…why should they (China) have any objection?”

Meanwhile, speaking at a seminar, Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the External Affairs Ministry, said the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) pact signed between India and China last month after the recent tensions may not be a "magic wand" to resolve disputes, but it was a signal by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that it was reaching out to India. He noted that the border pact inked during the Indian PM’s visit to China was an initiative taken by the PLA and it was necessary to reciprocate the gesture.

"The BDCA is a signal by the PLA reaching out to India. It was they who thought that the agreement would be good. It was they who negotiated the agreement with us and not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China," said Bambawale, who was leading the negotiations on the Indian side.
Indian Army Gears up to Deploy 50,000 Troops on China Border
To counter any opportunistic Chinese intrusion into Indian territories, the Indian Army is set to deploy 50,000 specially trained troops along the China border at the cost of rupees 65,000 crore (approx. $10433 million).

The corps will be the first of its kind, fully equipped with striking elements, to be deployed on Line of Actual Control. The project of raising this special mountain strike corps was given a final nod by the Indian Defense Ministry recently, though the proposal was approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July.

Incidentally, the defense ministry’s decision came near the eve marking the 51st anniversary of Indo-China war that ended on November 19, 1962.

According to a report by Press Trust of India (PTI), the 17th corps is the latest and 14th such formation of the Indian army. The defense ministry has given the government sanction letter (GSL) to the army with complete details of the new formation to be raised and the funds sanctioned for the purpose.

As per media reports, the new corps’ headquarters will be raised at Panagarh in West Bengal along with two divisions in Bihar and Assam, and other units from Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh.

The Indian Air Force has also planned to deploy C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft and midair refueling tankers at Panagarh. The raising of the special corps will be accomplished in next seven to eight years as the task needs to recruit soldiers, develop infrastructure, and procure war weapons.

On November 22, the Combined Commanders’ Conference to be addressed by the Prime Minister is scheduled to review this project.
Nod for runway extension at NDA
PUNE: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the project to extend the runway length from the existing 3,000 ft to 4,500 ft at the National Defence Academy's (NDA) Air Force Training Team (AFTT) facility at Khadakwasla.

"Work on the project will start soon after the tendering process," NDA commandant Air Marshal Kulwant Singh Gill said. He added the runway extension will enable the NDA to land small and medium-sized transport aircraft for training purpose.

The AFTT head Wing Commander S K Singh said, "Five new Austrian-make Super Dimona aircraft will soon join the existing fleet of five similar engine-powered two-seater aircraft, also known as powered gliders, which will strengthen the team's training activity. The aircraft have arrived by sea at the Mumbai port and are expected to be serviceable in a week's time at AFTT," he said.

The NDA, a unique tri-services defence training academy, demonstrated the various training activities for the army, navy and air force cadets during the visit by a team of media persons on Thursday.

Currently, the NDA has five Super Dimona aircraft that are used for various flying exercises carried out under the instruction of cadets. "The addition of another five aircraft fulfills our total requirement for such training aircraft," Singh said. "The academy had also taken up with the MoD the proposal for extension of runway so that the requirement of training on transport aircraft can be taken care of," he pointed out.

Commandant Gill said, "The academy has started thinking about giving a strategic approach to the cadets. We want them to learn more languages, especially Chinese. Our efforts are on in this direction."

Given the advancement in technology, Commandant Gill said, "We want our cadets to be more aware about what's happening around the world. Modern day warfare is more complex and future wars are going to be net centric. It is this realisation that also reflects in all our plans to secure better infrastructure like smart rooms etc. The Army Training Team (ATT) will soon get new equipment and weapons so that the cadets are fully aware of what's happening in the Indian army."

Earlier, at the ATT facility, the cadets of NDA sixth semester demonstrated the various skills they have acquired during their training so far under the supervision of army training chief Colonel Narendra Singh, officer-in-charge Major Ramesh Prasad and weapons training officer Major Raghavendra Singh.

"The focus here is basic soldierly skills and section level tactics, to enable them to inspire and lead an infantry section (one section comprises of 10 personnel) as part of a combat," said Singh. "This includes subjects like tactics, weapon training, map reading, radio telephony and field engineering, which form the bedrock of their service careers, churning them into future military commanders," he added.

At the AFTT, Wg Cdr Singh said that each cadet flies 10 sorties, involving total seven-and-a-half flying hours, which introduces them to the nuances of flying along with important aspects like cockpit mannerisms, aviation terminologies and situational awareness.

Plans ahead

* Academy to add 5th battalion that will take its total cadet strength to 2,400

* Modernisation of academy's Vyas library with 85,000 e-books and electronic issuance system

* A multi-purpose training shed that will involve all facets of indoor games and modern gymnasium

* New football grounds

* Construction of 57 new houses for officers, 76 for junior comissioned officers

* An independent solid waste management plant to be set up with help from Pune Municipal Corporation

* New boundary wall around the 19 km periphery of the academy campus
PMO, Army officials leaked sensitive info: VK Singh to Shinde
 Former Army Chief Gen VK Singh has written to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde alleging "conspiracy" by officials in the PMO and the Defence Ministry behind leak of sensitive information and demanded inquiry to bring out the truth.

In his letter, the former chief has talked about leak of sensitive information about the Technical Security Division-- a controversial intelligence unit set up by him -- and his letter to the Prime Minister about shortage of arms and ammunition in the Army.

"The above serious offences have been committed due to abetment and conspiracy indulged in by civil and military officials (past and present) in the Prime Minister's Office, Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Defence, Army Headquarters and many others.

"They are all guilty of abetment and criminal conspiracy to commit all the above offences. A thorough investigation would bring out the truth about who these persons are and what is their motive for indulging in activities aimed at destabilising India and harming its citizens," he said in the letter.

The former chief has also named a few journalists for leaking sensitive information in his letter to the Home Minister.

The former chief has told the Minister that, "inaction and complicity in the above offences has encouraged criminals and severely compromised security of the nation and safety of its citizens."

He requested him that "immediate action be taken to direct the concerned authorities to register appropriate FIRs, commence investigation and resort to preventive detention of offenders where necessary."
BDCA a signal by Chinese PLA 'reaching out' to India
New Delhi: The border pact signed by India and China last month after the recent tensions may not be a "magic wand" to resolve disputes, but it was a signal by the Chinese PLA that it was reaching out to India.

Speaking at a seminar, Gautam Bambawale, the joint secretary (East-Asia) in the External Affairs Ministry, noted that the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) inked during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to China was an initiative taken by the Chinese People's Liberation Army and it was necessary to reciprocate the gesture.

"The BDCA is a signal by the PLA reaching out to India. It was they who thought that the agreement would be good. It was they who negotiated the agreement with us and not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China," said Bambawale, who was leading the negotiations on the Indian side.

He said the BDCA is "yet another major milestone" in ensuring that peace and tranquillity is maintained between India and China.

"No agreement has a magic wand and it is not that everything will be taken care of by one agreement. We will see how it works and operates in practise as time goes by," he said.

"And we have the agreements of 1993 and 1996 and the protocol of 2005. It is another agreement, which adds to everything that went ahead and also new dimensions to the fact that there are new situations on the ground."
The official said "it is an important signal that the PLA is reaching out to counterparts here”.

"This was one of the important reasons for India to reciprocate the feelers and try to reach to conclusion on border defence cooperation."

He added that contrary to media reports, there are no restrictions on troops or improving border infrastructure on both sides.

India and China had reached the comprehensive agreement BDCA to avoid border tensions and army face-offs along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by deciding that neither side will use military capability to attack the other side nor tail patrols along the border.

The deal came against the backdrop of strain in ties following a series of Chinese intrusions including the prolonged one by People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the Depsang valley in Ladakh in April this year.

Bambawale added that under the BDCA, both the countries will try to build a hotline on the lines of Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) hotline between India and Pakistan.

"The DGMO between India and Pakistan has worked reasonably well for many years. We could perhaps replicate that between India and China," he said.

The official noted that there are few "structural difficulties" in addressing the issues and both sides were working to sort them out.

"There is a structural difference between the two sides. Their problem is they don't have any official called Director General of Military Operations. We will, however, continue to work on it and set up a hotline of senior officials between India and China," he added.

Bambawale stressed on improving trade relations between the two countries and said that in order to remove the trade imbalance, India was encouraging more FDI from China by setting up Chinese industrial areas.

India and China have a long-standing border dispute. In a stand-off between the PLA and the Indian Army in Depsang in Ladakh this year, Chinese troops had pitched tents on land claimed by both sides. In retaliation, India also put up tents in a forward position that was barely 200 metres from the Chinese forward tent.

In response to a question on China's intensive involvement in Central Asia and visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Bambawale said, "We have our relationship with these (Central Asian) countries.”

"The Chinese have their relationship with a set of countries. We are anyway not in the game of catching up with anyone including China."
Assuming responsibility without direction
In his latest book India’s Military Conflicts and Diplomacy: An Inside View of Decision Making, former Army Chief General Ved Prakash Malik has shed fresh light on the internal workings of the government on matters relating to defence while recounting major incidents in India’s recent military history
The Indian armed forces, notably the Army, are among the world’s busiest and most experienced. From nation consolidation starting from the day the country was partitioned and accorded Independence by the British colonialists to post-Independence nation sustenance operations that have continued for the last 66 years, the Indian armed forces have participated in a wide range of military engagements, both internal and external.

The Army’s nation consolidation operations that lasted for the first 14 years after India attained Independence started with handling communal violence of horrific proportions the moment the country was partitioned on 14th August 1947. Three months later, a truncated post-Independence Indian Army was pushed into fighting a tribal invasion backed by the Pakistani Army in Jammu and Kashmir (1947-48). Alongwith, the Army was entrusted with force posturing against the Nawab of Junagadh (1947) and a ‘police action’ against the Nawab of Hyderabad (1948) after both the nawabs refused to join the dominion of India. The nation consolidation phase ended in 1961 with the armed forces evicting Portuguese colonisers from Goa following a brief military action.

But then, nation sustenance operations too had started with the Army being pushed into internal security operations in tribal Nagaland during the mid-1950s. Since then, the Army has fought rebels, insurgents and separatists in most of the north eastern states that have included Manipur, Mizoram and Assam in addition to Nagaland, and terrorism in Punjab. For almost two-and-a-half decades now, the Army continues to fight Pakistan’s insidious low cost proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian armed forces have fought wars with China and Pakistan; been wrongfully pushed into fighting another country’s war in Sri Lanka; been deployed in 46 UN peace support operations; and been ordered to conduct controversial operations with grave consequences such as Operation Blue Star that involved storming the Golden Temple to evict an armed militia headed by a man who once enjoyed the patronage of some key members of the ruling political party (Congress) at the Centre .
In almost all cases, India’s internal wars have been the result of, to put it mildly, political and administrative mismanagement for which both politicians and civil administrators have unfairly gone unaccounted. And yet it is the armed forces which have had to pay a price each time. For, hundreds of Army soldiers have lost their lives and limbs in numerous internal and external military engagements over the last 66 years. Such is the irony in the land of the Buddha and ahimsa that more soldiers have died in internal wars and insurgencies than in fighting foreign armies.

In addition to these internal wars, the Army has been engaged in numerous other internal security duties and aid to civil power duties – all consequences of substandard governance – that have ranged from quelling communal riots to maintaining essential services such as water supply, telephone communications and civil air traffic control in the wake of strikes by government staff.

Civil military disconnect

But where do the armed forces stand in their own country? Recounting several recent events in the country’s contemporary military history starting with the Indian armed forces’controversial military engagement (Operation Pawan) in Sri Lanka from July 1987 to March 1990, General Malik has drawn from his first hand experiences to provide an inside view of some key military events and the lessons that are to be drawn from it. He has then gone on to most importantly analyse key issues afflicting India’s decision making mechanism all of which would be of interest to policy makers, defence analysts, political scientists, students of defence and security studies and the public at large.

Sadly, but not surprisingly to any keen observer of Indian defence matters, the issues remain the same notwithstanding India’s long and intense post-Independence history of military engagements. The fundamental issue remains the same – a serious disconnect and dysfunction in civil-military relations, i.e. between the political executive and the armed forces and between the civilian bureaucracy and the armed forces. Referring to Jawaharlal Nehru’s well known disdain and distrust of the military and neglect of defence planning, General Malik points to how India has managed to develop a ‘unique system’ of bureaucratic control over the military through civilian bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) resulting in the steady erosion of involvement of the armed forces leadership in higher defence management and policy planning.

General Malik refers to India’s foremost defence analyst (incidentally a former IAS officer), the late Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam, who once summed up India’s civil-military structure as one where ‘politicians enjoy power without responsibility, bureaucrats wield power without any accountability, and the military assumes responsibility without any direction’.

Flawed strategic culture

Along with this is the issue of India’s strategic culture. General Malik points to strategic blunders that have had long standing consequences for the country’s defence – India approached the United Nations during the 1947-48 Kashmir war and agreed to a ceasefire without first evicting all Pakistanis from the state; misjudged the security threat from China’s military takeover of Tibet and then went on to lose the war with China because the assertive political positions were not backed by credible military strength,; returned the strategically important Haji Pir Pass to Pakistan after the 1965 war; returned 93,000 prisoners to Pakistan without an adequate quid pro quo; sent the armed forces into Sri Lanka and put them into harms way without sufficient deliberation, thought and objective only to make them fight against the very people who India had trained; dithered for 24 years before conducting nuclear tests in 1998, and launched a ten month long Operation Parakram in 2001 without a clear objective in the wake of attacks on the Indian Parliament by Pakistani trained terrorists.

General Malik brings out how the armed forces were kept in the dark about two strategic issues – the May 1998 nuclear tests until just two days prior even though the armed forces are meant to be the user in the event of a nuclear war. Then again, the armed forces were unaware that India had manufactured chemical weapons until the MoD issued a press release announcing that it had destroyed its stock following the signing of the Chemical Weapons Convention. India’s questionable military industrial complex and lack of self reliance is all too evident with the defence research and development organisation (DRDO) remaining high on promise and low on delivery.

He has subtly also pointed to problems within the armed forces, notably the Army, and occasions when military advice has not been sound. He recounts the ignorance in which he functioned while posted in the military operations directorate prior to the signing of the accord with Sri Lanka when General Krishnaswamy Sundarji was the Army chief. He quotes Jyotindra Nath Dixit, a former National Security Advisor and also foreign secretary, who in his book Assignment Colombo has revealed how General Sundarji overconfidently stated to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi that the LTTE would be dealt with in a matter of a few weeks in case the latter reneged from the accord with Sri Lanka. Incidentally, General Sundarji’s perceived overconfidence has been discussed in a book by General Vijay Kumar Singh, a recently retired Army Chief who has courted much controversy over his age row and his propensity to make controversial public statements.

Systemic defects

Yet, notwithstanding the flaws, General Malik also points to events where even the existing system has worked. One was Operation Cactus in 1988 wherein the armed forces were tasked at very short notice to fly into Maldives to quell a coup attempt. The operation was a resounding success. The second was during the Kargil war when near complete synergy was evident between the politicians, the bureaucrats and the services. Yet, two very important lessons that come out from these two operations is (a) the need for credible intelligence and (b) that capability cannot be bought with money or built overnight. The Kargil war exposed the lack of preparedness compelling General Malik, who was Army chief at that time, to ‘famously’ say that ‘if a war is thrust upon us we will fight with whatever we have’. The situation was not qualitatively better two-and-a-half years later when the Army was mobilised against Pakistan in December 2001 following the attack on parliament.

Like most defence analysts and military officers, General Malik makes a serious case for the need to reform the higher defence management system. Reports prepared by successive committees headed by Arun Singh, K. Subrahmanyam, the Group of Ministers and Naresh Chandra have all pointed to serious flaws in defence management. Yet, these reports remain consigned to the shelf with few recommendations being implemented. Jaswant Singh, a former defence and external affairs minister, explains the problem somewhat bluntly in his book Defending India when he candidly states that the MoD has become the principal destroyer of the military’s morale; the sword arm of the state is being blunted by the state itself; and that all attempts to reform the system have floundered against ‘a rock of ossified thought’ due to deep mutual suspicions, inertia and antipathy. General Malik is replete with suggestions for reform and cites interesting examples from case studies ranging from the armed forces’ operations in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, the May 1998 nuclear tests, the 1999 Kargil war, UN operations in Sierra Leone and several instances of military diplomacy, which again is not being optimised or sufficiently understood by policy makers. The fact is that the Indian armed forces are full of heroics which compare the same if not superior to advanced militaries. Yet, their sacrifices and tales remain understated.

How about a Bharat Ratna for the Indian soldier who spends his life paying for the mistakes of the very politicians and administrators who are entrusted with good governance and yet fade away anonymous, unsung and taken for granted.


Incredibly, the responsibility for India’s defence, including preparation for defence by the three services, has been vested in the defence secretary, a civilian bureaucrat from the Indian Administrative Service who is posted usually close to retirement and who may never have previously served in the defence ministry. During the Kargil War, the then defence secretary was ignorance personified when he asked General Malik how the Army could be complaining of weapon shortage when he had seen stacks of rifles during a recent visit to an ordnance factory in Jabalpur. His question reflected the pathetic lack of understanding of how wars are fought.

In 1998, the pettiness of the bureaucracy came to fore when they refused to treat military officers posted on an assignment of strategic importance to Tajikistan as a foreign posting. The matter was resolved after it was raised with the external affairs minister, who incidentally was a former defence officer.

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