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Friday, 24 January 2014

From Today's Papers -24 Jan 2014

China’s Continental Strategy Expands into Maritime Domain
Published in India-China Chronicle.  
-          Kamlesh K Agnihotri*
China has been following a defensive continental strategy since the Han Period (commencing 3rd Century B.C.), as threats to its sovereignty, and sometimes its very survival arose from its land borders. That is when the concept of building great walls to defend the outer limits of the kingdoms from the northern nomads and barbarians took shape, for graded implementation. Various great dynasties like the Jin, Zhou and Song, further built, connected and strengthened specific sections of the Great Wall as per their assessment of threat axis and existing capabilities. However, the most prolific wall building was by the Ming rulers (from 1360- 1640) when they felt an existential threat from Mongols and other minority tribes from North/North-West. So convinced were the Chinese emperors spanning many dynasties, of this defensive continental measure, that the wall building ceased only during the mid-reign period of the last Qing Dynasty (1640-1911) rulers.
Using fortifications and garrisons along the Great Wall, the Chinese emperors continued to either secure and expand their peripheries when their imperial strength was at peak; or retreated behind the safety of the Great Wall to consolidate, regroup and plan counter-attack when the regime was weak. That in essence was the great Chinese continental strategy, which continued till end of the Cold war.
From Great Wall to Naval Wall
Post Cold War, China having benefitted from the American rapprochement in late 1970s, launched itself on a path of vigorous reform and vibrant economic activity. This required extensive usage of the maritime medium by Chinese enterprises to leverage the reform overdrive into economic ascendancy. Therein lies the genesis of China’s gradual shift in doctrinal thought-process, from continental to the maritime domain.
Cut to the present times, the then Chinese President, Hu Jintao, during his last keynote address at the National Party Congress in Beijing in  November 2012 called  for ‘enhancing the Chinese capacity for exploiting marine resources, resolutely safeguarding China's maritime rights and interests, and building China into a maritime power’. These comments are particularly significant as it is the first time that a leader has clearly laid out a definitive road map for maritime development at the highest forum.
The Chinese media was quick to point out the indispensability of China’s eventual rise as a maritime power. ‘The People's Daily’ noted that total output value of China's marine-based industries was 3.2 trillion Yuan ($508 billion) in 2009, accounting for 9.5 percent of GDP. Hence, China's economy, heavily reliant on marine resources and secure shipping lanes, made it imperative for Beijing to build naval power for protection of its maritime rights and interests.
The above media discourse is well in consonance with what China has been striving to achieve in the greater maritime environment. Beijing is seriously engaged in various multi-pronged activities with an aim to gain mastery over the entire maritime domain. A study of various facets of the sea involving diligent collection of records, statistics and data, their collation, analysis and pattern building to enable effective exploitation of the maritime domain to the national advantage, is well underway. Special emphasis accorded to Chinese Naval modernisation manifesting in the form of considerable change in its maritime strategy, force composition and recent activities in the ‘distant seas’, is also a very prominent facet of this holistic endeavour.
A cursory look at some ongoing PLA Navy activities in the last three months (August-October 2013) presents a very interesting picture. There were as many as 14 naval ships deployed in various corners of the Pacific Ocean during end September 2013, on different missions:-
-        3 ships participated in ‘Search and Rescue’ exercise with US Navy at Hawaii in early-September, followed by visit to Australia and New Zealand.
-        3 ships were sailing across pacific towards Chile and Argentina and were scheduled to cross over into the Atlantic by passing through the Magellan Strait.
-        3 ships forming 15th task force are deployed in Gulf of Aden as anti-piracy escorts.
-        3 Ships of 14th escort force visited Singapore and Thailand while returning after 6 months deployment.
-        Hospital ship ‘Peace Ark’ was on ‘Mission Harmony’ medical tasks in various South East Asian countries as part of the 90 days long Asian tour.
-        ‘Zheng He’ Training ship was on a voyage to South Korea and Malaysia.
Activities of PLA Navy
These geographically diverse missions of the PLA Navy clearly indicate its ‘blue water’ intent and the shape of things to follow. The frequency and quantum of the such ‘distant area operations’ for PLA navy may also be explained in terms of the need to address increasing vulnerability of the Chinese energy flow through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean; as also the need to secure its long coastline and maritime zones. 
While the prospect of the Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region is not being dwelt upon, it is for consideration that such an eventuality would definitely raise regional stability concerns. Hence, maintaining a clear perspective on evolving Chinese maritime strategy to complement the age-old continental paradigm will be in the interests of larger global community; especially in light of the fact that it would be a great enabler for holisticay Chinese march towards great-power status.

* Commander Kamlesh K Agnihotri is a Research Fellow with the China Cell of the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Navy or the National Maritime Foundation. The author can be reached at
 Govt slashes defence budget by Rs 7,870 cr
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 23
The Ministry of Defence has been asked to cut down on money meant to modernise the armed forces and use it to meet day-to-day expenses such as fuel and salaries. The Ministry of Finance has slashed the capital outlay for Defence by Rs 7,870 crore.

The cut had been formally conveyed to the MoD two days ago, sources said, adding that the revenue budget, meant to meet day-to-day expenses, would get the money instead. It is for the second successive fiscal that the defence budget had been slashed.

In the previous fiscal, the government had imposed a mid-year cut of Rs 14,903 crore over the original allocation of Rs 1.93 lakh crore. The worst-affected would be the Indian Army, as its projects were awaiting clearances, while the Air Force and Navy have speeded their acquisitions.

At the start of the fiscal, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had laid out a budget allocation of Rs 2,03,672 crore for 2013-2014 for the MoD. Out of this, Rs 86,740 crore was for Capital expenses, which is purchases or to make pending payments during the year. Another Rs 1,16,932 crore was to be spent on salaries and to meet operational needs.

Sources said 82% of the capital account (Rs 71, 126 crore) had been spent till date, the cut has been imposed on the remaining sum, leaving the MoD with only Rs 7,744 crore.

The MoD, in October last year, had asked for Rs 7,800 crore in addition to the existing allocations, citing expenses in view of the drastic change in rupee-dollar conversion rates and increased cost of fuel used by forces.

The Finance Ministry slashed Rs 7,870 cr out of the budget meant to buy weapons, artillery pieces, warplanes, warships, naval dockyards and special classified projects.

Second successive cut
It is for the second successive fiscal that the defence budget had been slashed. In the previous fiscal (2012-13), the government had imposed a mid-year cut of Rs 14,903 cr over the original allocation of Rs 1.93 lakh cr
 Base workshops of Army get makeover
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
The Army has initiated the process of modernising and refurbishing its base workshops engaged in the repair and overhaul of weapons and equipment and limited production of spares.

Detailed project reports have been prepared for the modernisation work, which will begin at two workshops - 509 Army Base Workshop (ABW) and 515 ABW. The workshops will be revamped, for which private players are being roped in. The modernisation will be on a turn-key basis.

Eight ABWs were established across the country during the Second World War to carry out repairs and overhaul of weapons, vehicles and equipment, as well as manufacture spares.

These workshops function under the control of Director General Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), who comes under the overall supervision of the Master General of Ordnance at Army Headquarters.

Some time ago, the functioning of the ABWs came under the scrutiny of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which observed that there were significant underperformances in achieving the targets for overhaul of equipment.

The CAG report said the shortfall in overhaul of tanks and infantry combat vehicles was up to 68 per cent, transport vehicles up to 58 per cent, vehicle engines up to 40 per cent and manufacture of spares up to 42 per cent. As a result, the overhaul schedule of the equipment was not adhered to, adversely affecting their operational readiness. Further, the equipment overhauled by the ABWs did not conform to the required quality standard.

Under the Army’s modernisation scheme, old buildings at the ABWs would be demolished and new structures, grouped and co-located with related activities, constructed to house the latest industrial infrastructure, rigs, test beds, machinery and special equipment for remanufacturing weapons and equipment in a modern, automated and computerised assembly line environment. New management and control procedures for administration, supply chain management, procurement and movement of stores, material handling, communication as well as human resource management would also be integrated with the revamped work setup.
 JN Chaudhury takes over as NSG chief

New Delhi, January 23
Jayanto Narayan Chaudhury, an Indian Police Service officer of 1978 batch, took over as the Director General of the National Security Guard on Wednesday.

The NSG is India’s primary counter-terror and anti-hijacking force. It was set up in 1984. Chaudhury is an IPS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre.

Before joining the NSG, he was the Assam Director General of Police. He has also served in important positions in his cadre states at Tezpur, Bongaigaon, Borpeta and Guwahati. — TNS
 Coordination glitch at R-Day rehearsal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi , January 23
A glitch in coordinating the overhead fly-past of planes and the ground parade on the Rajpath during today’s full dress rehearsal saw a senior Indian Army officer blaming the IAF pilots for arriving early leading to lack of coordination.

The IAF top brass is not impressed and is screening through the records as to how the ground coordinators of the fly-past had caused confusion. The tableaux of the ground parade were delayed even as the planes arrived overhead. Delhi Area Deputy Commander Maj Gen Rajbir Singh said the coordination was delayed by two minutes and efforts would be made to correct the timing of all tableaux. He said the IAF planes arrived early.

Sources in the IAF said the pilots were not to blame. All 30 planes were airborne when the first change was communicated to delay by 10 minutes. That was carried out. Then another call was received to make up for the delay and fly past four minutes behind the original schedule. But by then the planes had been lined up in air for the route and could not be altered as they travel at varying speeds.
Pakistan finally attacks terrorists

The Government of Pakistan has finally reacted to a series of terrorist attacks across the country for which Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had taken responsibility. Pakistani air force jets and helicopters have pounded various targets in North Waziristan, hitting at strongholds popular with Taliban and al-Qaida militants. Many people were killed. The action reflects the growing pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to shed his policy of negotiating with militant organisations like the TTP, which had produced no significant results. It has, in fact, compromised his government's authority.

Even within the short span of three weeks of the New Year, terrorists killed Shia pilgrims, shot the man who had led the fight against terrorism in Karachi and set off bombs in army garrisons. The devastating attack near the army's general headquarters in Rawalpindi may finally have triggered the retaliation. The army and the government have finally taken some visible action against terrorists. It is ironic that Pakistan, ever-critical of drone attacks by the US, found itself using the air force against terror bases.

The TTP has been engaged in terrorist activities since 2007, often with impunity, but the latest action shows that it might have stepped on sensitive toes, and thus has to feel the jackboots of the army's retaliation. While this show of force may work in the short term, it is not the solution to the problem by itself. Tackling terrorism is a tough call. It needs leadership, a clear vision of what needs to be done and a will to carry it through. Various institutions that encourage terrorism need to be dismantled, the machinations of people who brainwash youngsters and make them martyrs need to be stymied. The security forces need to be given clear directions and empowered for the tough task at hand. It can all be done, but it remains to be seen if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his army can rise to the challenge.
Pathribal case: Army’s clean chit to 5 officers
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, January 23
The Army on Thursday gave a clean chit to five of its officers allegedly involved in the Pathribal encounter that took place in Anantnag district of Kashmir in March 2000.

Following the CBI investigation and the Supreme Court’s March 2012 order, the Army had taken over the Pathribal case from the court of the Srinagar Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in June 2012.
 Jammu-based Defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Mehta said the evidence recorded could not establish a prime facie case against the five accused officers. It, however, clearly established that what happened in Pathribal was a joint operation by the police and the Army based on specific intelligence. “The case has since been closed by the Army authorities. The court of the Srinagar Judicial Magistrate has been informed,” said Lt Col Mehta.

“Forensic, documentary and other evidence was taken on record. For the convenience of the next of kin of the deceased and other civilian witnesses, the team recording evidence moved to the Valley,” he said.

Five civilians were abducted in May 2000 from their houses, days after 36 Sikhs were killed by unknown gunmen dressed in Army fatigues in south Kashmir’s Chattisinghpora area. Following the killings, the Army had claimed to have gunned down five Lashkar-e-Toiba militants responsible for the killing of the Sikhs at Pathribal.

Relatives, who had seen their men being abducted, however, grew suspicious of the Army’s claims and later identified the bodies of “militants” as their “abducted” men. They were: Mohammad Yousuf Malik (38) and Bashir Ahmad Bhat (26) of Peth Halan; Juma Khan (50) and Juma Khan (38) of Brari Angan and Zahoor Ahmad Dalal (22) of Mominabad.

A case was registered in February 2003 and the CBI filed a chargesheet before the court of the Srinagar Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in 2006 against five Army personnel -- Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Brijendra Pratap Singh, Sourabh Sharma, Amit Saxena and Idress Khan, all of 7 Rashtriya Rifles.

“A comprehensive and exhaustive effort was undertaken to record evidence against all the accused. Over 50 witnesses were examined, including a large number of civilian witnesses, state government and police officials,” Lt Col Mehta said.

Last October, the Army had once again issued summons through the Anantnag CJM to the civilian witnesses, including relatives of the five persons killed in Pathribal, to appear before the General Court Martial (GCM) authorities at the Nagrota-based 16 Corps to attend the General Court Martial proceedings. The Srinagar-based 15 Corps had contested the case of the five accused Army officers up to the Supreme Court.

The Army is very sensitive to allegations of human rights violations and ensures the due process of law is followed and action taken against the accused, Lt Col Mehta said. Earlier, the Army had court-martialled six of its personnel in the alleged Machhil encounter case and proceedings were currently in progress. It has also punished 123 of its men found guilty in 59 cases of human rights violations in the state.
Faith factor: US military eases regulations on turbans, beards
Gurjatinder S Randhawa

Sacramento, January 23
The US military has eased its uniform rules giving troops greater freedom to wear turbans, head scarves, yarmulkes and other religious clothing. The policy is mainly expected to affect Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and members of other groups that wear beards or articles of clothing as part of their religion. It also could affect Wiccans and others who may obtain tattoos or piercings for religious reasons.
 "The new policy states that military departments will accommodate religious requests of service members unless they have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline," Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Commander Nate Christensen said in a statement yesterday.

A service member who wants to wear a beard or article of clothing for religious reasons must seek permission, or an accommodation, from the military. Pentagon previously made only a small number of accommodations to its uniform policy to enable Sikhs to wear turbans.

Approval of the waiver will depend on where the service member is stationed and whether the change would affect military readiness or the mission. Under the new policy, a request can only be denied if it is decided that the needs of the military mission outweigh the needs of the service member. Until now, there has been no consistent policy across the military services to allow accommodations for religion.

Prior to the 1980s, the US armed forces allowed beards in uniform. However, due to a change in regulations, the military put a stop on allowing beards in uniform, except for those who commenced their service before 1986.

As the beard is a requirement, according to the Rehat Maryada, the current regulation, created a regulatory barrier that has kept Sikhs from serving in the US military. Prior to this change in regulation, two Sikhs who served in the US military were Col Arjinderpal Singh Sekhon and Col GB Singh. Currently, three Sikhs Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan, Corporal Simranpreet Lamba are serving in US Army with hair and turban.

Sikh Coalition, an advocacy group, said: “We are deeply appreciative that the Pentagon established a formal process so that aspiring Sikh American Soldiers and other soldiers of faith can request accommodation of their articles of faith. We are disappointed, however, that the presumptive ban on Sikh articles of faith remains intact. While the policy revisions announced today provide a framework through which Sikh soldiers may seek religious accommodation, we caution that uniform rules barring Sikh service remain intact.”

Since 2009, three Sikh Coalition clients - Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan, and Corporal Simran Preet Singh Lamba - have received rare and historic accommodations to serve in the US Army with their articles of faith intact, the coalition said in a statement.

“However, their historic accommodations came only through the expending of significant resources from the Sikh Coalition over several years,” it said. The revised Pentagon policy appears to formalise the ad hoc process through which these three clients were granted individualised religious accommodations, while maintaining restrictive appearance regulations that effectively ban Sikh articles of faith.|head
Fraud Charges May Scuttle Indian Helo

NEW DELHI — The Indian Ministry of Defence has ordered state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to accelerate development of its indigenous Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program because fraud charges may derail the procurement of 197 helos from overseas, said an MoD source.

While no decision has yet been taken on canceling the 2009 tender, in which Eurocopter (Now Airbus Helicopters) and Kamov of Russia are competing, the source said, India’s anti-fraud agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), formally leveled charges against a serving Indian Army officer for alleged involvement in manipulating the trial report of the LUH procurement. Charges were made last week.

The officer’s alleged involvement came to light last year when an investigating team traveled to Italy to probe alleged corrupt practices by AgustaWestland to win a contract to provide 12 AW101 helicopters. The team discovered a document in which the Indian Army officer had allegedly offered AgustaWestland to turn the LUH contract in their favor. However, AgustaWestland was eliminated in the first round of procurement in the technical evaluation stage.

Eurocopter and Kamov executives were unavailable for comments.

Politics is also playing a role because general elections are slotted for May and the ruling United Progressive Alliance government will not want to be viewed as ignoring corruption, said Nitin Mehta, new Delhi based defense analyst.

The $500 million LUH tender was issued in 2009 to Eurocopter for its Fennec AS550 C3 helicopter, to AgustaWestland for the AW119 and Kamov for the 226T helicopter.

The MoD source said that if the tender is canceled, the order for 197 helicopters will be given to HAL, which is developing an LUH for the Indian Army and Air Force.

HAL’s LUH, however, is still in initial development and the Army urgently needs the aircraft to ferry troops and material to battlefields at high altitudes in northern India bordering Pakistan and China. Currently, the Army and Air Force are using Cheetah and Chetak helicopters license-produced by HAL for logistic support at altitudes of more than 20,000 feet, where the military needs to operate at the Siachen glacier and the upper reaches of the Himalayas bordering China.

The Cheetahs and Chetaks have outlived their life expectancy and the Army and Air Force have been demanding replacements for more than a decade.

An Army official said cancellation of the LUH tender would be a severe blow to Army logistics operations, but added that HAL’s record in delivering equipment is unsatisfactory and should not be counted on as the sole supplier of LUH resources. The LUH should be procured as quickly as possible on a government-to-government basis if the tender is canceled, the official said.
Status of LUH

HAL officials said they will achieve initial operational clearance of the LUH by the end of 2015 and begin serial production by mid-2017. A contract for 187 light utility helicopters is expected from MoD by the end of the month, a HAL official said, and the official claimed the company’s LUH would be 10 percent cheaper than that of Eurocopter or Kamov.

The single-engine LUH would be powered by a French-made Turbomecca engine. Of those 187 helicopters, 127 would go to the Army and 61 for the Air Force.

“The development of LUH has progressed with the completion of three milestones, including the configuration freeze, design freeze, and transmission and rotor design. And currently, the detail design and analysis milestone and ground test vehicle run milestones are in progress,” said an official of HAL.

The helicopters will be used for multiple missions for both services, including reconnaissance and surveillance; directing artillery fire; transporting small numbers of troops; nuclear, biological and chemical monitoring; casualty evacuation; and airborne forward air control.
LUH Tender

If canceled, this would mark the second time the program was halted. In 2007, Eurocopter, with its Fennec helicopter, was on the verge of being declared the winner when US-based Bell Helicopters complained to the MoD about a lack of transparency in the procurement process and that tender was canceled in 2008.

In the recent competition, an Army source said there have been issues with the trials of the two competitors. The Airbus Helicopters candidate has had some problems operating at high altitudes, and the Army wants it to be able to accommodate a second stretcher, which will require structural modifications, added the source.

Kamov has offered a choice of two Western engines, but the engines will require re-certification.
MoD extends timeline for final call on Army chopper deal
 The Ministry of Defence has extended the last date for finalisation of contract in the procurement of 197 light utility helicopters by six months.

The procurement exercise, in which Russian Kamov Ka-226T and Eurocopter AS 550 C3 Fenne choppers are involved in the final contest, had come under the scanner last year following allegations that an Indian Army brigadier tried to swing the deal in favour of one company. However, with the extension of the last date for finalization of contract to June end this year, the process has been kept alive.

Following the revelation that a brigadier had asked helicopter supplier AgustaWestland for money in lieu of getting it the deal, Army Chief General Bikram Singh had last April urged the Ministry of Defence to not proceed further with the Rs 3,000 crore deal for purchase of 197 LUH.

Since the Ministry of Defence had on January 1 this year cancelled the contract for supply of 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers with AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of European arms major Finmeccanica, in the wake of allegations of kickbacks worth nearly Rs 360 crore being paid to secure the Rs 3,546 crore contract, sources said the light utility helicopter deal could also be headed in the same direction.

Particularly so, because it was during the course of investigation into the VVIP chopper deal scam that the Italian investigators had stumbled upon documents suggesting that one “Brig Saini” had demanded $ 5 million for influencing the 197 LUH deal before the field trials.

These 197 helicopters were to be procured by the Army for undertaking missions for reconnaissance, patrol and casualty evacuation.

Incidentally, this is the second time that tendering for the process has been initiated. While in the first bid, India had in February 2007 selected the AS550 C3 Fennec over the Bell 407 helicopter, the deal was cancelled later the same year following allegations of corruption in the bidding process. The contract was then re-tendered.
Indian army raises alarm over use of messenger apps that store data abroad
Cross-platform messaging apps born outside India are gaining traction and how. The biggest example is China’s WeChat, which is picking up users all over the world now, and is hot in India too, with tons of localised promotions running around the app’s many features. However, not everyone is happy with the rise of the messenger app, certainly not the Indian army.

 According to DNA, the army has raised an alarm over personnel and their families using apps like WeChat to stay in touch with each other. The army has also warned that the apps could be used by neighbouring China to snoop in on sensitive conversation.

 In a top secret internal communications sent out to all military commanders, the Director General of Military Operations has asked all army personnel and their families to restrict the use of apps that have data servers outside India. Using them to chat and exchange messages could lead to “inadvertent loss of sensitive information” the memo reads.

 The note, accessed by the publication goes on to add, “Every internet company and telecom operator in China, both foreign and domestic, is held legally liable for all content shared through their platforms.” It also says that applications like WeChat, Weibo, QQ can be considered as Chinese equivalents of the likes of WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, and could pose a potent threat in the light of the tightly regulated Internet and telecom in the country.

WeChat was released in India officially last year in May, after months of soft-launch tests. The app itself arrived two years before the India launch, and back then it was known as Wiexin. It was rebranded as WeChat in 2012 by developer Tencent Holdings and is promoted by Ibibo in India.

 Back in December, it was revealed that seven months after its launch in the country, it was already being ranked as the second most downloaded app on iOS. WeChat had become the top non-gaming app in India, beaten only by Temple Run in the general list.

 The app’s popularity has understandably alarmed the Indian army. The note also cited a study conducted by the University of California in 2013 which showed that WeChat’s code, “though intended to be private, was left public”. The note reads, “In January 2013, it was revealed that WeChat’s international messages were being censored too. This clearly indicates that all data, even of Indian users, shared through WeChat may be monitored or regulated by Chinese authorities.”

 Some of the army’s fears include the fact that the location-sharing feature of the app may be used to track and target personnel, especially those involved in fields of science, industry research, defence and other government sectors.

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