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Saturday, 7 December 2013

From Today's Papers - 07 Dec 2013

Vohra: Need to form national security doctrine
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra today stressed the need for a national security doctrine to ensure speedy production by defence public sector undertakings and cohesiveness in operations of three Services.
Vohra, who was Defence Secretary and Home Secretary during the PV Narismha Rao Government (1991 to 1996), was delivering the National Security Lecture-2013 on Civil-Military Relations: Opportunities and Challenges, organised by the United Service Institution of India, here today. Former Army Chief General Shankar Roychowdhury chaired the lecture.

Calling on all three Services to shed reservations and establish meaningful cohesiveness, Vohra said: "Any delay in the finalisation of the joint doctrine covering all aspects of integrated operations would come in the way of the Armed Forces preparing themselves for delivering an effective response when an emergency arises".

A separate national security doctrine, said Vohra, should form the basis of which integrated threat assessments could be made. The Defence Ministry must ensure that the ordinance factories, defence PSUs, DRDO establishments and others deliver on time. "Prolonged delays cause serious difficulties for the Armed Forces and large economic losses as the lack of certainty about supplies from indigenous sources compels expensive imports", he said while citing how during the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan, India resorted to imports.

He also touched upon the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), saying that the force is duty bound to ensure people’s civil rights are protected, it is equally necessary for the Centre and the affected states to collectively evolve an acceptable approach which ensures that the personnel of the military formations are provided the requisite legal protection.

Without naming former Army Chief General VK Singh, Vohra said needless controversies had marred the Army's glorious image.
 A 'feel-good' agreement with China
BDCA fails to address the root cause of face-offs on border
Gurmeet Kanwal

Among the nine agreements signed by India and China during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's trip to Beijing in October 2013, the most significant one was the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) because of the recent instances of Chinese military assertiveness along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The agreement commits the two sides to "periodic meetings" of military and civilian officers and to exchange information, including information about military exercises, aircraft movements, demolition operations and unmarked mines. It emphasises the avoidance of border patrols "tailing" each other and recommends that the two sides "may consider" establishing a hot-line between military headquarters in both countries.
A close examination of the BDCA reveals that it falls substantially short of removing the anomalies and impracticalities of the previous agreements that have not worked well, including the Agreement on Maintaining Peace and Tranquility Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas, September 7, 1993; the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas, November 29, 1996; the Agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question, April 11, 2005; the Protocol on Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in India-China Border Areas, April 11, 2005; and, the Agreement on Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, January 17, 2012.

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and Tibet is quite different from the disputed 4,056 km-long international boundary. The term LAC implies de facto military control over respective areas and came into use after the 1962 border war. However, the LAC is yet to be physically demarcated on the ground and delineated on military maps. The un-delineated LAC is a major destabilising factor as major incidents such as the Nathu La clash of 1967 and the Wang Dung stand-off of 1986 can recur. In fact, the two sides have failed to even exchange maps showing their perception of the LAC except in the least contentious central sector, the Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh borders with Tibet. Even though so many agreements had been signed in the past, it has not been possible for India to withdraw a single soldier from the LAC so far despite their lofty rhetoric. It clearly shows how intractable the challenge is.

Despite all the previous agreements, there are frequent incidents of Chinese transgression of the LAC both in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. Both sides habitually send patrols up to the point at whichthe LAC runs in their perception. These patrols leave "tell-tale" signs behind in the form of "burjis" (piles of stones), biscuit and cigarette packets and other similar markers in a sort of primitive ritual to lay stake to territory and assert their claim. While no violent incident has taken place in the recent past, there have been many occasions when Indian and Chinese patrols have met face-to-face. Such meetings have an element of tension built into them and, despite the best of military training, the possibility of an armed clash can never be ruled out. An armed clash that stretches over several days and in which there are heavy casualties can lead to a larger border incident that may not remain localised.

While the government invariably advises caution, it is extremely difficult for commanders of troops to advocate a soft line to their subordinates. There is an inherent contradiction in sending soldiers to patrol what they are told and believe are Indian areas and simultaneously telling them that they must not under any circumstances fire on "intruding" or "transgressing" Chinese soldiers. This is the reason why it is operationally critical to demarcate the LAC on the ground and map. Once that is done, the inadequacy of recognisable terrain features can be overcome by exploiting GPS technology to accurately navigate up to the agreed and well-defined LAC on the ground and even unintentional transgressions can be avoided.

Chinese intransigence in exchanging maps showing the alignment of the LAC in the western and eastern sectors, while talking of high-sounding guiding principles and parameters to resolve the territorial and boundary dispute, is neither understandable nor condonable. It can only be characterized as an attempt to put off resolution of the dispute "for future generations to resolve", as Deng Xiao Ping had famously told Rajiv Gandhi in 1988. China's obvious negotiating strategy is to resolve the territorial dispute with India when the Chinese are in a much stronger position in terms of comprehensive national strength so that they can dictate terms.

Instead of signing a new agreement, efforts should have been made to fine-tune the operationalisation of the Agreement on Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, signed on January 17, 2012. The agreed measures include regular consultations and flag meetings or telephonic and video conferences during emergencies along the LAC. The mechanism was expected to help prevent misunderstanding between the two countries arising from incursions into each other's territory. The joint mechanism was also expected to study ways to strengthen exchanges and cooperation between military personnel on the ground. None of this has obviously happened as serious Chinese incursions continue and tensions persist, as witnessed by the deep transgression by PLA troops at Depsang new Daulat Beg Oldie in May 2013.

The BDCA has failed to address the root cause of most transgressions and patrol face-offs, that is, the non-demarcation of the LAC, which leads to varying perceptions about where it runs. As such, it is an uninspiring agreement that has not brought the two sides any closer to a final settlement of the territorial dispute and has achieved virtually nothing substantive to further even the immediate necessity of improving border management. In short, it is merely yet another "feel good' agreement.
Indian army prepared for militant activities across LOC: Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh
Army on friday said militant activities at the launching pads across Line of Control (LoC) have not died down but the troops are ready to face the challenge.

"As per our intelligence inputs, there are activities (of militants) at the launch pad. We also got reports of a senior terrorist leader who has been visiting on and off out there.

And we expect infiltration and at the same time we are prepared for any challenge of that sort," said General Officer Commanding of Valley-based 15 Corps, Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh.

The terrorist infrastructure across the LoC was intact and coming months would be "tough" from the security point of view, Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a function.

"Coming months are tough from the security point of view.

We have the terrorist infrastructure intact across the LoC, on the LoC and in the hinterland.

"But I would like to assure you that the counter- infiltration grid is effective and you will see it for yourselves the way we have sorted the infiltration attempts and also in the hinterland a large number of operations which were carried out in which we were able to eliminate large portion of the terrorist leadership," he said.

He said although the first snowfall has occurred, the area of the LoC is not fully covered by the snow.

He added that there was excellent synergy among security forces and the intelligence agencies.

"You have seen that in last operations there were specific intelligence, operations were done with surgical procedure and the results were in front of you," he said.

He said Army is prepared to fulfil its task of maintaining security preparedness and create a conducive environment for the forthcoming elections.

"The security challenges are there, we have to be prepared and we are alert. We are prepared for any challenges in the hinterland also. Our task is to maintain security preparedness and create a conducive environment for the election and other processes," he said.
Indian army opposes troops’ withdrawal from Siachen
New Delhi, December 06 (KMS): The Indian Army has turned town Pakistan’s proposal for withdrawal of troops from the Siachen Glacier saying that it will not move out from the strategically important icy heights.The Indian army put across its stand on the issue after Advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, asked India to withdraw troops from there saying that they posed a serious threat to Pakistan’s environment.

“The Army would not like to move out from the Glacier as it is of strategic importance to us and in the last several years, we have taken several steps towards maintaining the environmental equilibrium there,” India media reported Army officials having said in New Delhi.

Last year, Indian Army Chief, Gen Bikram Singh, had said that the Indian military would not move out of Siachen Glacier.

Pakistan has been pushing for demilitarisation of Siachen but India has always rejected the proposal.
Host of challenges ‘welcome’ new army chief
ISLAMABAD - A plethora of serious challenges coming from the multiple fronts, both external and internal, awaits in storage for the new military chief to deal with.
The elevation of General Raheel Sharif as country’s 15th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) comes at a time when the force grapples with the toughest times it has ever confronted.
The volatile security situation at the western border, the largely compromised writ of the state in north-western tribal belt, the lately heated Line of Control (LoC) front drawing spars between Pak-Indian militaries cum aberrant Eastern border situation, the ongoing insurgency in Balochistan, the precarious living conditions ruffled with sectarian strife even in the main cities, the role of military-led spy agencies in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the particular context of missing persons saga and the administrative adjustments within the Army’s hierarchy are a few factors that bring along enough substance to reason that the throne of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment has a host of thorny areas to step onto.
Noticeably, the foremost challenge to the army chief involves the military establishment’s vague and questionable role in the missing persons episode. While the Supreme Court takes strong exception to the apparently exceeding highhandedness of the intelligence agencies in dealing with the terror suspects by means of keeping them under unauthorised and unlawful detentions for months and even for years, the military has so far acted in defiance instead of showing compliance with the SC orders to produce captives before the court. A retired general believes, the missing persons issue is a ‘litmus test’ for General Raheel Sharif. Whether he gets to ‘tame’ the intelligence agencies to make them work within their legal and constitutional domain, would shape the future course of his authority over the armed force, argues Lt-General (r) Talat Masood.
Although, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday gave a breather to the intelligence agencies by conveying his promise to the apex court about a ‘good news’ with regard to the missing persons by today (Friday), the SC unrelenting disposition is likely to prevail unless the security agencies offer full compliance. “The SC has taken a principled position and is not ready to budge. It’s the security apparatus that has to mend its ways,” Masood believes. The generally negative public opinion and political opposition against the Frontier Corps (FC) style of functioning in Balochistan is also directly linked to the missing persons issue.
Although, the militant violence in the province has been on a calm lately, the multiple terror attempts on military’s relief convoys in the earthquake belt of Awaran district plainly manifest that the situation can turn volatile anytime in the insurgency plagued province
On the security front, one of the major criticism on the new COAS is that he was not involved in the military’s operational business for more than a year ever since he was replaced as Corps Commander Gujranwala and appointed as Inspector General Training & Evaluation (IG T&E) in September last year. A pertinent argument offered in this context is that for someone who has never served at a senior position in FATA, PATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, learning the tricks of the trade would be a time consuming process, which, for the time being, could trigger massive security concerns in that region.
On the other hand, the insiders at General Headquarters (GHQ) who interact closely with the army’s top man believe the general had a significant role in dealing with the cross-border Pak-Afghan security issues in his capacity as IG T&E. They recall the arrival of a five-member delegation of the Afghan National Army (ANA) led by the Afghan Defence Minister General Bismillah Khan Muhammadi in January this year whereby Raheel Sharif had played a key role in finalising the proposed training of ANA personnel by the Pakistan Army.
The delegation had stayed in Pakistan for five days and had visited different training facilities. The Pakistan’s military, then, had handed a selection list to the Afghan authorities containing details of the training programmes being offered at its training institutes.
The Afghan delegation had left with a renewed commitment to “enhancing mutual defence cooperation and measures that Afghan National Army and Pakistan Army intend initiating for an enduring training relationship.” The agreed plan, however, has been kept in cold storage following looming hostility at the Pak-Afghan border that adversely affected the ties between the two armies. Now that Sharif is the army chief, how far would he succeed in mending the military ties between ANA and Pakistan Army remains to be seen.
On the eastern border and LoC fronts, the proposed meeting between the Pak-India director generals military operations (DG MOs) has been lately figured high on the political agenda but no word has come from the military on this behalf. Although, the two DG MOs contact with one another on weekly basis every Tuesday, a special meeting for initiating reconciliatory measures is yet to take place. The military insiders say, the new army chief is too busy these days getting preliminary briefings on internal security issues to deal with the external ones.
“The chief needs to settle down before looking into broader set of issues,” an insider says.
Reshuffling the top military personnel would make another difficult exercise for the general. So far, Sharif has made only one major appointment by elevating Lieutenant General Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmad at the Chief of General Staff (CGS) position. The transfers and postings of the corps commanders seem trickery considering that the commanders of some extremely important corps including, IV Corps (Lahore), V Corps (Karachi), X Corps (Rawalpindi) and XII Corps (Quetta) were appointed by the former COAS General (r) Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the recent past and replacing them immediately without the passage of due time would run in bad taste within the top military hierarchy.

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