Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

From Today's Papers - 07 Jan 2014

China on mind, India and Japan agree to ramp up military ties
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
Just three weeks after Japan announced its new National Security Strategy -— talking about the need to have very good ties with India and apprehending trouble from China —Defence Ministers of India and Japan today agreed to ramp up military interaction between the two Asian countries.

In the recent past, Beijing has been openly critical and suspicious of India-Japan ties. Indian Defence Minister AK Antony and his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera today met in New Delhi and announced a long list of events for 2014. This includes new-set of counter-terrorism exercises between the Indian Army and Japan land forces, continued cooperation in anti-piracy, maritime security, continuation of naval exercises and defence-secretary level talks besides a visit by the Indian Defence Minister to Japan.

On December 17, Japan had set out a new strategy and it talked explicitly about Tokyo’s increased interest in New Delhi. It said: “Japan will strengthen its relationship with India in a broad range of fields, including maritime security through joint training and exercises as well as joint implementation of international peace cooperation activities”.

The Japanese document had specifically mentioned fears it had from Beijing: “China has been rapidly advancing its military capabilities. It is also rapidly expanding and intensifying its activities in waters and airspace, showing its attempts to change the status quo by coercion”.

Both, India and Japan have long pending territorial disputes with China and are uneasy over several issues like China’s domination in the South China Sea through which large number of cargo laden merchant vessels pass.

“Japanese Defence Minister briefed ( ntony) on Japan's National Security Strategy and Antony appreciated the detailed briefing,” Indian Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.

The two ministers agreed on the necessity to conduct high-level and working-level regular consultations and exchanges, deepening exchanges between forces besides adding to education and academic research exchanges.

“It was decided to strengthen India-Japan defence consultation and cooperation to strengthen the strategic partnership,” a statement of the ministry said.

Japan PM to be chief guest on R-Day

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be the chief guest at the Republic Day function in the national capital. Besides the economic ties between the two countries, Abe is keen to forge defence and strategic ties with India.
Jointness is no substitute for the CDS system
Centralised operational control and conduct of war by the Chief of Defence Staff is projected as an impingement on political control. Operations are invariably conducted within the framework of political direction and policy. Fears of relegation of political authority if the CDS system is adopted are ill founded and mischievously raised to scare the ignorant
Lt Gen Harwant Singh (Retd)
Consequent to the Kargil conflict in 1999, Arun Singh and K Subhramanyam committees were constituted. The latter was required to essentially look into the Kargil conflict in its varied aspects. This committee at one point in its lengthy report, made a preposterous observation that the Prime Minister and the Raksha Mantri did not have the benefit of getting the advice of army commanders and their equivalent in the navy and air force, meaning thereby that they must seek advise from them. The number of such commanders in the three services is more than a dozen. Obviously our expert on national security was oblivious of the imperatives of the chain of command in the military!

Arun Singh had asked this writer to give his committee a presentation on the future shape of the army, etc. Besides recommending the raising of a mountain corps for operations along the border with Tibet, the inescapable requirement of adoption of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) system was projected. To start with, two theater commands were suggested by the committee -- one for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the other for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). To alley misgivings of the air force, the first commander of the proposed J&K theater command (the most active command) could be an air force officer.

Disjointed Command

Creation of the post of CDS was recommended by the Kargil Review Committee in 2000
A cabinet committee on national security under LK Advani approved the recommendation. However this was later pushed under the carpet
The Naresh Chandra Committee moots a permanent Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee as a single point of advice to the government, but is no better than the present arrangement as the operational control of each service still rests with the respective service chief
More recently the Integrated Defence Staff was created as an adjunct to the MoD. Such cosmetic dressing up of the defence operational systems is of little avail
The possibility of a two front war haunts military planners. While there have been efforts to work out systems and organisations to attend to larger issues of national security, the conduct of operations is being glossed over

Under the CDS system there is a single point of military advice to the government and the overall operational command rests with the CDS as well. Operational command of various theaters rest with theater commanders whose forces may be from two or all three services, depending on the geographical details of their theater. The theater commander could be from any service. The CDS would exercise overall operational command over various theater commands, as well as over intelligence directorates of the three services through the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). In this system the staff functions would rest with the service chiefs in regard to their respective service.

Later a cabinet committee on national security under former Home Minister LK Advani approved the recommendations of the Arun Singh committee with special emphasis on adopting the CDS system. However these recommendations were pushed under the carpet and later the Naresh Chandra committee was constituted. One of the recommendations of Naresh Chandra Committee is that the post of Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee should be permanent and function as a single point of advice to the Prime Minister and the Raksha Mantri. This proposal is neither here nor there and is no better than the present arrangement because the operational control of each service still rests with the respective service chief and this permanent chairman will be stumped when confronted with conflicting views from the other service chiefs.

The main opposition to the CDS system has been from the air force over the imaginary fear of being overwhelmed by its larger sister service, the army. The bureaucracy too has been against adopting this system on the ill founded fears that the CDS will become too powerful and the present position, where the defence secretary is designated as the person responsible for the defence of India, will be eroded. At some point of time even army chiefs have not favoured this system on fear of losing operational control over the army. It all boils down to narrow parochial interests and of turf tending.

Antiquated defence apparatus

No major democracy in the world has as antiquated and obsolete operational defence apparatus as that of India. The present system was bequeathed to us at the time of Independence by Lord Hastings Ismay, a British general who was Winston Churchill's chief military assistant during the Second World War and later Lord Mountbatten’s Chief of Staff in India, and has remained more or less unchanged. Subsequently defence services headquarters were designated as departments of the Ministry of Defence (MoD rather than part of it. A dysfunctional Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) was created with the senior most amongst the the three service chiefs being its chairman. The difference between “jointness” and unity of operational command has never been fully grasped or may have be purposefully ignored. More recently, the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) was created as an adjunct to the MoD. Such cosmetic dressing up of the defence operational systems is of little avail. While there have been efforts to work out systems and organisations to attend to larger issues of national security, the conduct of operations as such is being glossed over.

The dysfunctional character of Indian defence apparatus first surfaced during the 1962 war against China, where due to lack of any central control in the conduct of operations, the air force stayed out when it could have played a decisive role in that conflict. In the 1965 war against Pakistan, the IAF aircraft came in to halt the enemy advance in the Chhamb Sector of J&K and instead destroyed our own vehicles carrying artillery ammunition and supplies. During the Kargil conflict, the air force’s procrastination in joining the battle is all too well known, as also its lack of training in high altitude warfare. Even so advocacy of “jointness” rather than unity of command continues to this day!

Unity of command

A battle is so much like an orchestra, where a hundred instruments of varying tone and tenor may strike their own notes and yet have to play the same tune. To coordinate and mesh the sound of varied musical instruments there is only one conductor. So also, in battle there has to be only one overall commander who must work out and coordinate the application of various instruments of fighting in all their varied forms, scale and timing to achieve the right outcome. Unity of command is an important principle of war and as such all successful battles have had only one commander who employed and controlled various components of his force. In modern times some more instruments of war have been added such as aircraft, missiles, etc.

In the military, unity of command has been an important principle of war and a historical determinant. It is with the advent of the air force that this concept of unified command saw a discordant note, more so in India. Often two and sometimes all the three services may be grouped to achieve a common goal of defeating the enemy in a particular theatre. Command of such a grouping has to devolve on a single commander, who may be from any of the three services. At higher levels advisers are available from the other service(s) to provide inputs to the overall theatre commander on technical and tactical aspects of employment of the components of their respective service.

To have large defence forces at enormous expense and not be able to optimise the potential of their combined capabilities is inexplicable and inexcusable. Modern warfare demands not only unified command but an organisation fully responsible for operational control, which should determine the range of equipping of the forces, the type of weaponry, be these of navy, army or air force and the same being in consonance with the nature of threats, type and scale of operations envisaged, tactics to be employed and future developments in weapons and equipment etc. The full potential of a unified command and collective application of forces otherwise cannot achieve the desired results.

Blame for Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) failure to deliver squarely rests with the MoD under whose control it operates, with no interaction with the army at the stage of developing equipment. This isolation from the army at this stage also leads to absence of essential inputs from the user. If the navy has done better, it is because it exercises control over that component of DRDO which works for the development of weapons and equipment for that service. Of the three DRDO laboratories dedicated to the navy, one to two of them are invariably headed by senior naval officers. In the case of the army, DRDO brings in the user only at the final stage of trials. Similarly Defence Public Sector Undertakings and the Ordinance Factories are controlled by the MoD. They regularly overcharge for the items supplied to the forces (BEML’s TATRA vehicles being one such recent example) and deliver shoddy equipment.

The possibility of a two front war haunts military planners. Such a situation will require a well thought out strategy and careful and judicious distribution of resources for each front. It is near impossible to adequately meet such a national security challenge with the existing arrangement of the Chiefs of Staff Committee system, even with “jointness” and a permanent chairman of this Committee. Centralised operational control and conduct of war by the CDS is projected as an impingement on political control and policy. Operations are invariably conducted within the framework of political direction and policy. Fears of relegation of political authority if the CDS system is adopted are ill founded and mischievously raised to scare the ignorant. “Jointness” does not work under periods of great stress and war does produce some very stressful moments. Finally “jointness” is an India innovation and one may rightly term it as a “Jugard.”
CBI charges Indian Army officer in LUH bribery case
Indian investigators on 4 January charged a serving Indian Army officer for allegedly offering to favour AgustaWestland in the procurement of 197 helicopters for the army's Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) programme in return for a bribe of EUR5 million (USD6.79 million).

Besides corruption, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said Brigadier V S Saini of the Army Aviation Corps (AAC) and several other unnamed Indian Army and Ministry of Defence (MoD) personnel had also been charged with "abuse of official position" and forgery.

Brig Saini has been reassigned to a training establishment in southern India while the inquiry is in progress.
Army's second chopper deal too may crash-land
 There are indications that the 197 light-utility helicopters (LUH) procurement deal may be scrapped, leaving the army without an option to replace its ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak choppers. Cancellation of the deal seems imminent,” a senior defence ministry official told dna.

Cheetah and Chetak choppers are the lifeline to troops deployed in high-altitude posts in North Kashmir, Siachen, Ladakh and the Northeast. But the Cheetahs and Chetaks have aged, waiting to replaced.

Everyone thought that the LUH would be the replacement. But the buzz is the defence ministry might scrap the deal. More so, after the CBI registered a case against a brigadier and another officer on Saturday for allegedly attempting to favour one of the companies wanting to clinch the deal. Cheetah and Chetak choppers are “death traps”. As many as 12 pilots have died in Cheetah crashes in the last five years.

If army aviation sources are to be believed, these vintage helicopters, which were purchased from France and inducted into the Indian army in 1971, have lived beyond their threshold by more than 12 to 15 years.

“Our high-altitude operations are suffering as pilots often refused to fly Cheetah or Chetak helicopters. Surveillance and reconnaissance in high-altitude areas like the China border are also taking a major hit,” a top officer of the army aviation corps told dna.

According to defence ministry sources, the procurement process is heading for trouble once again after the acquisition of 197 helicopters worth Rs3,000 crore was cancelled in December 2007 after having been finalised. In 2008, the government issued fresh tenders in this regard.

“If the government cancels the deal once again, it is going to be a major setback for the preparedness of the army, which is making all efforts to match China’s capabilities on the eastern front,” a senior army official said.

The army has been raising the issue of replacing obsolete machines since 2003. In 2012, army headquarters wrote a letter to defence minister AK Antony’s office in which it highlighted that obsolescence-related issues such as component failures, low reliability, accidents and increased structural failures were dogging the fleet. The army claimed that Cheetah and Chetak helicopters had virtually become “death traps”.

The letter also argued in favour of replacement and against upgradation. “The Cheetah/Chetak helicopters are no longer manufactured by the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and no plans are there to upgrade. Therefore, the only way forward is to replace this ageing fleet,” the letter read.

In March 2007, defence minister AK Antony told Parliament that the ageing Cheetah fleet would be replaced. There are about 250 Cheetahs and Chetak helicopters in service in the army aviation corps. The airframe life of the light-utility helicopter is about 4,500 hours, but most Cheetahs with the army have logged over 6,000 flying hours. The engine life of the chopper is 1,750 hours and most have gone past that too.
Defamation case: HC notice to V K Singh
The Delhi High Court Monday issued a notice to former Army chief Gen V K Singh among others on a plea of former Defence Intelligence Agency head Lt Gen Tejinder Singh against a lower court order asking him to seek sanction to prosecute them in a criminal defamation case.

Besides Singh, Justice Sunil Gaur also sought responses from the then vice-chief of Army S K Singh, retired Lt Gen D S Thakur (then DG of Military Intelligence), Major Gen S L Narasimhan (ADG of Public Information) and Col Hitten Sawhney.

Tejinder Singh, who is pursuing the defamation complaint, moved the HC after a metropolitan magistrate on December 9 asked him to first approach the Centre for grant of sanction to prosecute.

The lower court had also clarified that if the government fails to grant or refuse sanction to prosecute within the stipulated period then it would amount to deemed sanction.

Tejinder Singh's counsel Anil Aggarwal said the magistrate though held that accused, being governed by the Army Act and the Defence Technical Publicity Rules, were prohibited from directly interacting with the media, but wrongly concluded that the issuance of press release was part of their official duty.

"On the one hand the trial court is holding that their act of issuing the press release is against the law. On the other hand, it is saying it can be purported to be in discharge of official duty. Can something against the law ever be part of official duty," he asked.

Tejinder Singh had filed a private defamation case against V K Singh and four others alleging he was defamed by the Army through its press release issued on March 5, last year which accused him of offering a bribe of Rs 14 crore to the then Army chief to clear a deal of 600 trucks, a charge refuted by him.
End defence planning vacuum
That the defence of India is ill-considered, inefficient and fiscally wasteful is hardly a secret. Even so, the raising of a Rs 64,000-crore mountain strike corps to deter Chinese adventurism on the 4,057-kilometre Line of Actual Control (LAC) is almost as imprudent as the proposed purchase of 126 Rafale fighters from France for an estimated Rs 1.08 lakh crore.

Adding 80,000 troops to an already bloated army will suck away money from equipment modernisation. It will underline our 19th-century outlook where bayonets count for more than firepower. With existing army formations on the LAC desperately short of modern artillery, aircraft-borne fire support, surveillance equipment, helicopters and all-weather roads for quick redeployment to counter battlefield threats, the army brass has - incredibly - chosen to raise yet another under-equipped strike formation that has no roads to strike along.

The army will argue that it needs boots on the ground quickly, while equipment and roads will follow in due course. But where will the money for that come from, when more than 70 per cent of the army's revenue budget goes towards salaries, leaving so little for capital expenditure that 96 per cent of the capital budget goes towards instalments for equipment bought during preceding years?

Why has the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government okayed a Rs 64,000-crore mountain strike corps? Either Finance Minister P Chidambaram is confident enough of meeting his fiscal responsibility goals to commit to raising the defence budget by Rs 40,000-50,000 crore next year, the minimum figure required for paying the accumulating bills. Alternatively, he and his colleague, Defence Minister A K Antony, might have calculated that raising a strike corps would make the UPA look strong on national defence; the next government could handle the fiscal repercussions.

And how has the military condoned such a fiscally unviable measure? Given the traditional turf battles between armies, navies and air forces the world over, a zero-sum game in which each seeks to expand its demesne and funding, the generals could be expected to argue for another corps. With it would come one more three-star post, three two-star posts, and numerous one-star vacancies. Amongst the world's major armies, only India's short-sighted army is expanding; and within the country, it is the only organisation that is steadily growing top-heavier, especially in general officers. During the last decade, the army created a command headquarters (South Western Command, in Jaipur) and a corps headquarters (9 Corps, in Yol), allocating them troops from existing formations for "more effective command".

Earlier, as the army hunkered down in Jammu and Kashmir, it raised a star-studded command structure for its 65-odd Rashtriya Rifles battalions. These included five division-sized formations, each headed by two-star major generals, with more than a dozen brigade-sized formations under them. The same thing happened in the northeast with the Assam Rifles. For good measure, two new regular army divisions were raised in 2008-2010, with some 40,000 soldiers for the defence of Arunachal Pradesh.

All this has provided martial careers to India's youth and more general-rank vacancies to army officers. Yet this also ensures that the army falls steadily behind the navy and air force in equipment modernisation. The figures tell the tale. The capital allocations to the three services this year are: army Rs 17,883 crore; navy Rs 24,149 crore; and air force Rs 39,208 crore. In percentage terms, the army spends just 18 per cent of its budget on new equipment; the navy spends 66.5 per cent; while the air force spends 68.5 per cent.

Such disparities are inevitable without tri-service coordination, and with the army, navy and air force locked in a fratricidal battle for resources and turf. The proposal for a mountain strike corps should have been vetted by a tri-service headquarters, headed by a chief of defence staff (CDS), as proposed by a group of ministers in 2001; or by a permanent chairman, chiefs of staff committee (COSC), as proposed by the Naresh Chandra Task Force last year. The CDS/COSC would have evaluated the financial implications for all three services of raising a strike corps; and war-gamed whether better deterrence could be achieved through other means, like pooling tri-service firepower, or synergising intelligence resources like satellite and signals intelligence. Would better results be achieved by a comparable funding of India's programme to build a network of 73 strategic border roads, which would permit currently isolated units to switch locations quickly to confront a building threat? Finally, a CDS/COSC would have considered whether a mature nuclear deterrent eliminates the need for a mountain strike corps. Given that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal emboldened it to occupy Indian territory in Kargil, it should have been asked why India's nuclear triad fails to reassure us even within our own territory.

In November, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reminded top military commanders to "cut our coat according to our cloth", hinting that annual 15 per cent defence procurement budget hikes are no longer assured. The days are over when the army, navy and air force could plan in isolation, duplicating capabilities within their respective silos instead of planning jointly to optimise resources. India's political leadership has listened too long to those who warn in whispers against creating an empowered general who can influence all three services. Putting off the appointment of a CDS or a chairman of the COSC simply costs too much.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal