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Saturday, 23 November 2013

From Today's Papers - 23 Nov 2013

India Debates Establishing Cyber Command

NEW DELHI — Top India military commanders meeting here have discussed establishing an independent Cyber Command. Addressing the Combined Commanders Nov. 22, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh highlighted the need for developing capacities to counter what he described as “global surveillance operation.”

“While globalization has induced growing and complex inter-dependencies among states and multinationals on the economic and trade front, it has also nurtured intense competition and rivalries in the security domain. Managing this contradictory tenor, which has been highlighted by the global surveillance operation mounted by the US National Security Agency, is also a policy imperative for us.

“Naturally, our objective must be to acquire tangible national capacity, or what the lexicon now refers to as comprehensive national power. This is the amalgam of economic, technological and industrial prowess, buttressed by the appropriate military sinews,” said Singh.

According to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA had allegedly collected information and intercepted communications in India.

Support is unanimous for establishing an independent Cyber Command to protect the nation’s cyber security, said a Defence Ministry source. While the commanders want a separate command for the armed forces, MoD sources said, it is still not decided who would be in charge.

Last year, hackers from China broke into sensitive computer systems at Vishakhapatnam, the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command where the indigenous nuclear submarine Arihant is undergoing sea trials.

“Cyber warfare is the new battlefield and India is not prepared for this battle,” said Mahindra Singh, retired Indian Army major general and defense analyst.
India’s Defense Procurement Bungles

Bureaucratic mismanagement is depriving Indian soldiers of much-needed weapons.

In February I wrote a piece for The Diplomat noting that India was, to use that old bromide, “at a crossroads” on its road to armed forces modernization.

I argued that, despite mind-numbing bureaucracy and a misfiring indigenous defense industry, India was buying its way towards establishing a well-supplied fighting force at land, air and sea.

Events since then have conspired to challenge that rosy assessment of military procurement on the subcontinent. A combination of corruption allegations and Ministry of Defence mismanagement are conspiring to foul up what should be relatively straightforward deals.

First up in this list of shame is the MoD’s failure to sign off on a deal to buy 145 M777 lightweight howitzers from BAE Systems. The contract, which was routed through Washington’s government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, should have been signed off years ago. Instead, the Indian MoD missed a October 15 deadline that BAE had imposed because the company could not afford to keep the gun’s U.K. production line open while it waited for Delhi to sign on the dotted line.

The delays means that if the Indian Army wants the M777 – which by all accounts it does – then it’ll have to pay at least an extra $50 million to reopen the line.

Next up is the omnishambles over the 12 AgustaWestland AW101 VVIP helicopters that India was supposed to be getting this year. Three had been delivered when a corruption scandal exploded around the contract, with two company executives arrested in Italy and a former Indian air chief marshal accused of taking bribes by Indian investigators. While all involved deny any wrongdoing, the MoD suspended payments with nine helicopters still to be delivered.

The case developed further this month when AgustaWestland filed for arbitration in an attempt to force the MoD to unblock its payments and get the contract back on track. This may have backfired, however, with MoD officials apparently incandescent at the company for filing the arbitration claim when the defense minister was in hospital and only days after the ministry’s top air procurement official had died.

The fallout from the AgustaWestland case can also be seen in the services’ procurement plans. In April the MoD delayed the army’s plans to spend 150 billion rupee ($2.3 billion) on Rafael Spike non-line-of-sight anti-tank missiles because of sensitivities at sole-sourcing such a big contract.

It is also impeding recent attempts by the U.S. to kick start the military-industrial relationship with Delhi. The Pentagon – in the form of outgoing Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter – has promised to co-develop at least two systems with India: a successor to the Javelin anti-tank guided missile and the next-generation EMALS catapult for launching aircraft off carriers.

The chances of either of these joint developments getting off the ground are severely compromised by India’s inability to sort out its basic procurement relationships with foreign vendors, as the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) noted in a September letter to the Pentagon that was provided to IHS Jane’s.

The USIBC letter complained that India was imposing "unfeasible delays" on signing defense contracts and that foreign defense companies had little post-delivery liability protection. It pointed to the M777 deal as a key example of the problems being faced.

Meanwhile, the Indian MoD’s largest ever foreign procurement – the MMRCA deal to buy 126 Dassault Rafale fighters – has been kicked into the long grass by alleged disagreements over the responsibility for quality control on license-built aircraft and the ongoing depreciation of the rupee, which has pushed the price up just as India’s economy has slowed.

This chain of events may not elicit the most sympathetic response from the neutral observer. It’s hard to get too upset at the sight of a U.S. business lobby complaining at foreign defense regulations, while the consequences of India’s economic slowdown and currency issues are not just being felt by the defense industry.

But on a strategic level, India’s almost masochistic ability to snarl up foreign defense procurement – alongside the institutional hurdles to successful indigenous production – could have more serious side effects than just obvious reputational damage.

The Indian Army’s ambitious Field Artillery Rationalisation was established in 1999 and envisaged the $5-7 billion procurement of 3,000-3,200 assorted caliber howitzers by 2027. None of these acquisitions have been completed.

Major General Sheru Thapliyal (rtd), a former artillery officer, warned IHS Jane’s in June that the army could face a situation where it has no effective long-range howitzers – unlike its neighbors. And even where it does have guns in service, such as the 105 mm Indian Field Gun and its derivatives, their 17 km range is well below the contact envelope of China and Pakistan’s more modern guns.

“At several points along the Pakistani and Chinese frontiers the range achieved by these guns barely crosses India's borders, rendering them ineffectual,” a three-star artillery officer told IHS Jane's.

In this light the significance of the M777 deal is thrown into sharp focus. The M777, which can be slung beneath the CH-47 Chinooks that India is also buying from the U.S., is supposed to equip two mountain divisions that are being stood up to counter China’s strategic moves on the Line of Actual Control. With no artillery, these divisions are little more than paper units.

It isn’t all doom and gloom for India’s armed forces, and the army in particular. South African prime contractor Denel is set to be removed from a blacklist after an investigation into alleged bribery was closed without resolution, and a number of local private firms have established joint ventures with international companies to build some of the gun types that India desperately needs.

But given what’s happened in the past, the ongoing possibility of corruption – and the ongoing possibility of anti-corruption investigations – will probably stop arms sales from being finalized. India’s soldiers are still not getting the weapons they need. Without fundamental reform to the Indian MoD and how it buys arms, that is unlikely to change soon.
Pakistan violates LoC ceasefire again

After a fortnight's lull, Pakistani troops Friday violated the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir yet again, opening fire on Indian positions in Mendhar sector of the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district, defence officials said.

Defence sources told IANS that Pakistani troops fired at Indian positions in Balakote area of Mendhar sector in the evening.

"Pakistan Army fired at our positions without any provocation and the fire has been retaliated by us. The Pakistani troops are using automatics and small weapons, and our troops have responded with same calibre weapons. Firing exchanges are still continuing in the area," the source said.

Friday's violation of bilateral ceasefire by Pakistan has come after a fortnight-long lull.

Since the beginning of this year, Pakistan troops have over 260 times violated the ceasefire agreement signed by the two South Asian nuclear-powered neighbours in November 2003.
PM for upgrading capabilities of armed forces
ew Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday pressed the urgent need for putting in place "the right structures" for higher defence management and the appropriate civil-military balance in decision-making to meet "complex security" challenges facing the nation.

Addressing top commanders of Army, Air Force and Navy here, he cited the situation in the immediate neighbourhood and uncertainty due to the shift of eco-military balance to this region as the challenges posed to the country.

Also Read: Prime Minister addresses Combined Commanders' Conference: Full speech

In his address, he underlined the need for upgrading the capabilities of the armed forces for which he favoured involvement of the private sector.

The Prime Minister also appeared to be on an exercise to control damage caused by the tussle between the then Army Chief Gen V K Singh and the government last year as he asserted "clearly and unequivocally" that the political leadership of India has the highest faith in its military and its institutional rectitude within the democratic framework.

"In the weeks and months ahead, our security challenges will remain complex but our resolve too must remain steadfast. I am confident that our armed forces will discharge their collective responsibility towards flag and country with the zeal and passion that has become their byword," he said.

The Prime Minister said there is "urgent and tangible progress in establishing the right structures for higher defence management and the appropriate civil-military balance in decision making that our complex security demands.

"I encourage you to give this the highest professional consideration, harmonise existing differences among the individual services and evolve a blue-print for the future. I can assure you of the most careful consideration of your recommendations by the political leadership," he said.

Referring to the global environment, Singh said shifting of economic pendulum inexorably from west to east was being exemplified by the increasing contestation in the seas to our east and the related "pivot" or "rebalancing" by the US in the area.

"This, to my mind, is a development fraught with uncertainty. We don't yet know whether these economic and strategic transitions will be peaceful, but that is the challenge this audience must grapple with institutionally," the Prime Minister said.

Singh said globalisation has "nurtured intense competition and rivalries in the security domain and managing this contradictory tenor, which has been highlighted by the global surveillance operation mounted by the US National Security Agency, is also a policy imperative for us."

He said "our objective must be to acquire tangible national capacity, or what the lexicon now refers to as comprehensive national power. This is the amalgam of economic, technological and industrial prowess, buttressed by the appropriate military sinews."

On the situation in the neighbourhood, Singh said, "There is no doubt that we will continue to confront formidable challenges."

"Further afield, the continuing turmoil in West Asia could not only imperil our energy security and the livelihood and safety of seven million Indians, but also become a crucible for radicalism, terrorism, arms proliferation and sectarian conflict that could touch our shores too," he said.

He said the Asia Pacific region is critical for the country "because it is becoming the arena for shaping the behavior of major powers."

Urging the top defence brass to monitor these specific developments, the Prime Minister said, "Our strategic horizons should also include the need to protect our global seaborne trade in goods, energy and minerals, the well-being of Indian expatriate communities worldwide and the growing global footprint of Indian capital."

"As our capabilities grow, we will increasingly be called upon to help in natural disasters or zones of conflict and instability," he said.
1962 martyrs to be honoured during Sarhad ko Swaranjali programme
Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam (North Lakhimpur, Tezpur and Guwahati) have confirmed their participation in Sarhad ko Swaranjali programme, according to organizing committee chairman Kipa Babu.

Special focus would however be on Leela Devi (96), mother of martyr Jaswant Sing Rawat, his relatives, and Lt. Gen. (Rtd) V M Patil, a captain posted in Tawang sector then.

Moreover, the families of Tagam Taki from Beging village in East Siang District, who served as SSB constable and died on March 30, 2002 during an attack on Raghunath Mandir Temple in Jammu, Kirti Chakra awardee Lance Naik Tape Yajo from Aalo and Jawan Pate Tasuk from Kurung Kumey (both died in action along the J-K border) would be honoured on the occasion.

This would not only turn a new page in Indian history, but project the patriotic people of Arunachal Pradesh, who serve as sentinels of the eastern most frontier of India, in the right perspective, said Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, who cancelled his prior engagements to be part of the event along with Governor Nirbhay Sharma.

If records are any indication, India fought three wars - in 1962 with China (that claimed 3, 079 men - 1,383 killed and 1,696 missing), in 1971 with Pakistan (2000 martyrs) and in 1999 with Pakistan at Kargil (530 martyrs). The India Army might have felicitated the martyrs and survivors, but never before has such a platform been created involving civil society (entire NE region) to pay respect to the martyrs of 1962 war that suffered the highest loss of army personnel.

Though the 1962 war took place 51 years ago, regrettably the Indian government officially recognised the martyrs and survivors after 50 years on October 20, 2012 when Defence Minister A K Antony, who along with Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju, Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh and three service chiefs paid homage to the 1962 war heroes and laid wreaths at Amar Jawan Jyoti at New Delhi.

Asked why it took 50 years for New Delhi to honour the soldiers and martyrs of 1962 war, Antony said: "Nothing changed. This is the 50th year and we thought this is the time the whole nation must pay our homage to the officers and jawans who had lost lives to protect our border."

Asked about criticism that the military leadership was not involved in 1962 and the lessons learnt from it, Antony had said, "The major lesson is that we have to strengthen our armed forces to protect our borders. That we are doing and now we are in a position to involve armed forces, intelligence agencies and all those involved in the protection of national security. That process is much stronger."

But, even after a year after Antony's tall claim, hardly anything has improved along the Sino-India border as was witnessed while proceeding to Bumla pass in Tawang district on October 20 last.

The vehicles were finding it difficult to move even at zero km speed at few patches without any sign of road while it was learnt at Bumla that the Chinese soldiers travel in Land Cruisers at 60 km per hour speed on the other side.

What an irony! Is it the cost of democracy the defence personnel have been paying while guarding the frontier which records 10 to 15 feet snowfall during the winter and temperature goes below upto -23oC?

That is the conclusive reason that tomorrow's event would be a land mark one for the country where civilians would salute the martyrs while boosting the morals of the jawans protecting the border.

'Ay mere vatan ke logon, the monumental song of Lata Mangeshkar and 'Kata juwanor mrutyu hol' (grieving over the death of soldiers in 1962) by Bhupen Hazarika would rend the air while Mukesh Khanna of Shaktiman fame through his stereophonic voice would try to create the feeling of what could possibly have been the last words of martyr Jaswant.

Meanwhile, councillors of Itanagar Municipal Council (IMC) led by chief councillor Aruni Higio have declared Leela Devi as IMC guest. By Pradeep Kumar (ANI)
Air chief to attend parade on Nov 30
PUNE: A total of 296 cadets, including five from Tazikistan and one from Kazakhastan, will pass out from the 125th course at the passing out parade (PoP) for the autumn term at the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla on November 30.

Commandant of NDA Air Marshal K S Gill said, "A majority of these cadets (197) will join the Indian army after completing their additional one-year training at the officers' academy while another 39 and 54 cadets will join the navy and the air force on completion of their year-long training at the respective officers' academy."

He said, "Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne will be the reviewing officer at the PoP."

On November 28, the cadets of the 125th course will be awarded their academic degrees at the convocation ceremony where deputy chairman of planning commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia will be the chief guest. The degrees in science, computer science and arts are awarded by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Gill said, "The upcoming PoP, for the first time, will witness the fly past of the Indian Air Force's latest induction Pilatus or PC-7 MkII, which is a turbo prop basic trainer aircraft." In fact, the cadets who will join the Air Force Academy at Dundigal in Hyderabad will now fly this trainer aircraft as part of their training activity.

Apart from the Pilatus, the Sukhoi 30s MKII, the Super Dimonas and the Sarang helicopter team will also participate in the fly past, he said.

The JNU has ratified the new defence application course as part of the academic studies at the NDA.

Gill said, "The level of academic performance by the cadets has been on the rise especially when it comes to scoring higher cummulative grade points average (CGPA) that eventually determine their place in the order of merit. For the first time this year, we have had 105 cadets who reached a level of 7.75 and above CGPA."

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) too has completed the recruitment of 34 new teachers who have now joined the academy, which has made a big difference to the academic activities at the NDA, he said.

"We have also initiated several measures to see that the injury level has gone down by 38% from what it was last year and we now have fitter cadets," he added.
Shutting his ears to change

In July 2011, the government of India set up a task force to examine the processes and procedures related to national security in India and come up with recommendations to fix the problems and plug any gaps that emerged. Chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra, the task force's aim was to deepen the reforms in the national security system begun by the group of ministers (GOM) in 2001.

In May 2012, the committee submitted its report to prime minister Manmohan Singh who turned it over to the National Security Council Secretariat for processing its recommendations and presenting them to the Cabinet Committee on Security. This writer was a member of the task force, but has had little or no official information on its status since then. But the bureaucratic grapevine suggests that the report is on its way to meet the fate of other similar endeavours: get shelved.


The reason for this is plain: The Ministry of Defence thinks there is no need for change, leave alone, horror of horrors, an overhaul. At first sight this may appear to be counter-intuitive, after all the sorry state of our defence modernisation is an open secret. Last year, the serving Chief of Army Staff wrote a letter to the Prime Minister pointing to shortages of vital equipment. The Air Force chief regularly bemoans the declining numbers of his combat force and the delays in the Navy's submarine and shipbuilding programmes are no secret.

The goal of the civilian part of the ministry appears to be singularly focused on how to retain its power and privileges. For this reason, the only public information of the Chandra Committee recommendations came through a leak of a portion of the report by the MoD itself. Their grouse, according to the media leaks, was apparent - they did not want changes in the way the system is run. Inefficient, incompetent, and wasteful, yes, but the command ought to rest firmly in the inexpert hands of the IAS fraternity. The Chandra Committee, on the other hand, was suggesting reforms - first of the manner in which the armed forces were run, and secondly, of how the ministry itself was functioning. In the case of the armed forces, following the GOM report of 2001, the committee suggested a chief of defence staff (CDS) like figure, a permanent chairman to the chiefs of staff committee, to promote integrated planning and organisations in the armed forces, as well as an expert defence bureaucracy to staff the MoD by cross-posting military officers to key bureaucratic positions.

These were minimalist suggestions, but vital. Most armed forces in the world operate on an integrated principle where planning an execution of combat operations is done through joint planning and command. That is why the GOM of 2001 recommended the beginnings of tri-service organisations and a CDS to head them.

The need for joint planning is crucial given the exponential rise in the cost of weapons systems. Currently, each service puts up its own demands and the Ministry of Defence has little or no expertise to prioritise them. The Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) or five year defence plans have little integrity.

Take for example the case of the Mountain Strike Corps which has been approved by the government recently. It will require capital expenditure of Rs.90,000 crore (plus another Rs.30,000 crore for ancillary units), yet it does not figure in the 2012-2027 LTIPP which was approved with great fanfare last year. To get a perspective on this, consider that in the period 2009-10 to 2013-14, which includes the period of high economic growth the country spent something like Rs.300,000 crore in capital acquisitions.


The Army, of course, is not the only claimant here. The really capital intensive services are the Air Force and the Navy whose need for modernisation is dire. India needs new combat jets, submarines, ships, transport aircraft, artillery guns, helicopters and a host of other equipment in the next ten years. But what should be the priority? At present, there is simply no machinery to do this since each service feels its needs are the most important and the MoD lacks any expertise to pronounce on the issue.

But the MoD does not want another senior military figure because they think that the Defence Secretary and his IAS colleagues will be somehow diminished. Well, considering the current state of India's defence setup, they ought to have already been indicted for gross incompetence.


In view of this, the National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon had pushed for the setting up of the Naresh Chandra Committee. Another group headed by Ravindra Gupta, was simultaneously asked to to look at the issue of defence manufacturing and indigenisation. But after the committees, comprised mostly of former government and military officials, had done their work they find that there are no takers within the government for their advice.

But that should not surprise. Bureaucratic resistance to reform is a given whenever there is talk of reform. What does surprise, however, is the spinelessness of the UPA II ministers who tamely allowed their bureaucrats to manipulate them into a paralysis. As long as P Chidambaram was there, the Home Ministry was supportive of reform, but with Sushilkumar Shinde at the helm, the donothing school prevails.

As for the Defence Ministry, the less said the better. AK Antony is happiest when he does not have to take any decisions whatsoever. This clearly suits his bureaucrats who have so far successfully blocked the passage of the Naresh Chandra Committee report to the Cabinet Committee on Security. Whether the CCS itself has the political gumption to tell the babus where to get off or not, remains to be seen if and when the report reaches them. But going by the record of the UPA II, there is not much hope. As for the PM, he has now given up on his political colleagues and is totally dependent on bureaucratic advice. It is not too difficult to guess what that advice is: Do nothing, there's nothing broke and there is nothing that needs fixing.

The problem is that not that the national security system is not broke, but that it is rapidly hollowing out from within.

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