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Friday, 7 February 2014

From Today's Papers - 07 Feb 2014

Declassify Bluestar documents, demand Akalis
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 6
In the wake of steaming debate on UK’s advisory role in Operation Bluestar, the Akalis today upped the ante against the government demanding immediate de-classification of correspondence between the Indian and British Governments during that period.
The demand for making official documents public got shriller with Akali MPs in both Houses giving notices for adjournment motion to discuss the issue which they termed as one of "grave national importance.”

The notices given by Bathinda MP Harsimrat Badal in the Lok Sabha and Naresh Gujral in the Rajya Sabha could not be taken up as Houses were adjourned amid ruckus on several issues.

The Akalis, however, vowed to keep up the pressure on the Congress-led government saying the country must know whether the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sought the advice on the operation only from the UK or more nations.
With the BJP throwing its weight behind the Shiromani Akali Dal, the MPs of both parties said declassification of documents was equally important to reveal the real motive behind the operation.

Talking to The Tribune, Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujral said: “The documents declassified in the UK show the correspondence pertaining to the military offensive on the Golden Temple had been going on for at least six months before the actual attack took place. The entire operation was premeditated.

“We are seeking immediate declassification of official correspondence to know if the operation was actually a deep-rooted conspiracy to play the anti-Sikh card to give Congress an electoral advantage,” he said.

The Akali-BJP combine said it would continue to protest in Parliament.

“The anti-Sikh sentiment was being fanned by the Centre from 1982 when India organised the Asian Games. Every Sikh entering Delhi was searched at the border. No exception was made even for top military officers. We want to know why Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was not arrested when he was at Mehta Chowk and later at Guru Nanak Niwas outside the Golden Temple in Amritsar,” said Gujral.

All Akali MPs said it was important to know what exactly went into the planning of the operation.

“The fact remains that the then PM did not even take Parliament into confidence over seeking foreign advice over an internal matter,” Gujral said.
 Rafale deal deferred, probe on: Antony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 6
In what could mean a delay in the Indian Air Force modernisation plan, Defence Minister AK Antony today said the government was probing complaints on the procedures of calculating the life cycle costs of procuring the 126 Rafale fighter jets from France.

Significantly, Antony also said the government had no money and the deal could not be signed in this financial year. But he said the deal was in progress. The deal will be finalised in 2014-15.

Replying to queries, Antony said, “The Government is looking into complaints against the procedure of calculating the life cycle cost. The issue is not yet settled. Before bringing the deal before the Cabinet Committee on Security for final approval, we would like to get clear on this aspect”.

Life cycle cost is the cost to operate the aircraft, its spares, engines and wear and tear to various parts.

French Rafale fighter aircraft was the lowest bidder in the medium-multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal, which is valued at nearly $ 11 billion (Rs 66,000 cr approx).

Asked if the government would buy more Su-30MKI combat aircraft from Russia if the deal with the French aircraft manufacturer did not fructify, Antony said, “The MMRCA deal will materialise next year.”

On LoC ceasefire violations, Antony said “After the talks (between DGMOs), there has been a dip in the number of such incidents. But real test will be in the summer months”.

Antony said cancellation of contracts sometimes led to delays in modernisation of armed forces but the government would continue to take such actions to end malpractices and corruption in military acquisition process ”.
Big guns on display at Defexpo India
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Ser vice
 New Delhi, February 6
International gun-makers have made a strong presence at the 8th Defexpo India-2014 that started in New Delhi today. It is a loud knock at the doors of an indecisive Indian Defence establishment, which has a chronic shortage in artillery guns, severely impacting readiness.

Indian Army’s field artillery rationalisation plan has projected the need to buy some 1,985 artillery guns of various types that will bolster attack capabilities in varied terrain across the country. The contracts once done will run into billions of dollars and all guns have the same 155 mm barrel but will have different movement ability and weight.

The DG Artillery of the Indian Army and his team today went around checking the offerings. Some of the guns on display will be put on trial while other producers await a final nod to sign the contract. On show is the Indian version of the Swedish produced Bofors. It is based on design and drawings of the original gun and has been produced by the Ministry of Defence owned Ordnance Factory Board.

The prototype of the gun will go for winter trials in Sikkim this month. The DG’s team and the OFB have been working closely and the Army has expressed satisfaction at the gun. It may see it as possible replacement of the Bofors. At least 144 will be made in the first lot.

On the purchase list is the BAE produced M777 ultra-light howitzer, also of the 155 MM variety. This will equip the newly raised mountain strike corps. A decision is pending at the highest level in the Indian Government. A US congressional notification deadline, allowing for the sale of 145 such artillery pieces to India at a cost of US $ 647 Million, expired on October 15 last year. John Brosnan, Mangaing Director BAE India said” The sooner India decides the better”.

Larsen and Toubro, which is majorly into defence, it had produced the hull for the Indian nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant, has tied up with French gun-maker Nexter and has two offerings. A gun mounted on truck and named ‘Caesar’. This is for the autonomous gun systems needed by India. These can be moved around independently.

Tata, which has stepped into the defence sector, has tied up with South African gun maker Denel to bring about a truck mounted gun. The gun could go for testing in the coming weeks to a firing range in central India.

The list of must-do for the artillery includes 145 pieces of the ULH, 1,580 towed guns of 155mm/52 calibre, 100 tracked guns of 155mm/52 calibre, 180 wheeled and self-propelled guns of 155mm/52 calibre.
 India-China boundary talks on Feb 10, 11
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 6
Within days of hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, India is set to engage with China on the protracted boundary dispute.

Special representatives (SRs) of India and China on the boundary dispute will hold their 17th meeting in New Delhi on February 10-11. National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, a former Foreign Minister, are the respective SRs for the two countries for finding a political settlement of the boundary issue. The two SRs would also discuss bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest, an official announcement said.

The visiting Chinese leader will also launch the “Year of India-China Friendly Exchanges” on February 11.
3 jawans stab passengers on train in Assam

Rangia, February 6
Three jawans from the 3rd Sikh LI regiment allegedly stabbed two passengers on a train when they protested against defence personnel occupying all seats with their belongings at the Rangia railway station in Assam's Kamrup district today.

The three jawans have been identified as Subedar Balwant Singh and sepoys Bhupinder Singh and G Singh, GRP sources said.

The Government Railway Police (GRP) here said they took into custody the three jawans and the Military Commanding Officer from the Army's Red Horns Mountain Division here was interrogating them.

The jawans had boarded the NJP-Moriani Siphung passenger train at New Jalpaiguri this morning and allegedly occupied all seats of the general compartment by force with their
belongings. — PTI
Joint command: Theme for a Chinese dream
The unified structure being adopted by China will lead to the strengthening of its military prowess to back up the country’s global ambitions. In India, political waffling has so far prevented the emergence of a similar combined structure for its armed forces
Manoj Joshi

Earlier this month, a Japanese newspaper revealed that China was planning to drastically overhaul its military commands by restructuring the present seven military regions and the Second Artillery, which controls China’s strategic forces, into five joint commands. Three of these would face the maritime areas of China in the East China Sea and the South China Sea while the other two would presumably look towards China’s land-based adversaries, primary among these being India. Currently, the forces confronting us are primarily handled by the Chengdu military region, with a small part of Ladakh, including the Depsang Plains area, by the Lanzhou military region.
This report gained credence when a day later the China Daily cited the Chinese Ministry of Defence to confirm that China would implement a joint command system “in due course”, and that it had already launched pilot schemes towards that end.

Curiously, over that weekend, the Chinese seemed to have had another thought and the Ministry of Defence declared that the earlier reports were “without basis.” However, the tenor of the denial in the nationalist Global Times suggested that this disavowal was pro forma. In essence, the joint commands would be the equivalent of theatre commands where all four elements of military power — army, navy, air force and nuclear forces — would be wielded by a single commander through a unified command structure. At one level, it signals the growing sophistication of Chinese military thinking, and at another, the expansion of its military vision beyond its continental confines to the oceans and the airspace above.

Like all Chinese leaders, Xi Jinping, who became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in November 2012, has displayed interest in military matters. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), as is well-known, owes its allegiance to the CPC and not China, the nation. Its importance to the party was reinforced by its role in the Tiananmen events in 1989. Leaders till Deng Xiaoping had been either PLA veterans or political commissars in the PLA.

In Xi’s case, his father Xi Zhongxun was a noted revolutionary leader, who had led the PLA forces. More importantly, between 1979 and 1982 Xi junior had served as an assistant to Geng Biao, who was Secretary-General of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) , the body which oversees the PLA. As Xi set out to take command of the country, he made it a special mission to keep the PLA close to himself.

Modernising the PLA

Perhaps, the greatest indicator of this was his adoption of the notion of the “Chinese Dream” as his theme-song soon after he became the boss of the party and the military. The idea was the product of Colonel Liu Mingfu, a former professor at China’s National Defence University, who wrote a book with the same name calling for policies that would enable China to surpass US as a world power. Xi’s more guarded notion of the ‘Chinese Dream’ is the “rejuvenation” of the Chinese nation but it is clear from his remarks and policies that military power is an important component of this revival.
Xi became Chairman of the CMC at the same time that he took over as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China in November 2012. He lost little time in stamping his authority over the PLA. Within two months, he carried out systematic personnel changes in key areas of the PLA command structure comprising four general departments and seven military regions, as well as passed orders to “administer the army with strictness and austerity.” This is a process that has continued since.

Xi’s views on matters military became apparent through his publicised tour to the Guangzhou military region in December 2012. This is the region that fronts to the South China Sea where China has made extravagant maritime boundary claims that affect Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Interestingly, the official media used the term Guangzhou War Theatre, rather than Military Region.

Xi’s message was that the state would give the PLA everything to modernise itself but in turn it wanted two things in return — an army, which would win the wars it fought, and, perhaps more important, one that was completely loyal to the Communist Party of China. To this end, the PLA needed to beef up its institutional structures and train under realistic conditions of combat and in what the Chinese call “informationised” (information technology) conditions.

As the official PLA daily quoted Xi, “We must ensure that our troops are ready when called upon, that they are fully capable of fighting, and that they must win every war.”

Apart from professional ability and loyalty, Xi has stressed the need for the PLA to change its entire culture and adopt a style of “frugality and austerity.” In December 2012, the PLA also passed its “Ten regulations on improving the work style of the PLA” which formally banned liquor in PLA functions, forbade the holding of big banquets and called on the PLA brass to adopt a simple style in their inspection tours.

Subsequently, in April 2013, new instructions were issued ordering the PLA and People’s Armed Police generals and senior officers to spend two weeks in the frontline as enlisted soldiers. Regiment and brigade commanders were called on to do this once in three years, the division and corps commanders once in four years and higher leaders from the headquarters and military regions and districts once in five years. The idea of declassing is, of course, part and parcel of Maoist practice. But the PLA had generally been exempted from the humiliating periods when they were forced to undertake menial labour.

To go back to the issue of the joint command: Actually, the Japanese report was probably triggered by the Chinese Ministry of Defence press conference of November 28, 2013, when the spokesperson, Yang Yujun had said the PLA would deepen reform in good time, “and blaze a trail in reform on a joint operation command system with Chinese characteristics.” He had gone on to add that joint operations were a compulsion of modern information-led warfare and that “the Chinese military has made explorations in that field.”

Autonomous military regions

Since the emergence of the People’s Republic, the number of military regions have waxed and waned from six to start with to 13 for a brief while, finally stabilising at seven in the mid-1980s. Given the way they thought of war, the Chinese deliberately made these military regions autonomous, capable of fighting a war without a central direction.

But with the compulsion of fighting highly mobile war in “informationised” conditions, as well as to take on new aerospace and maritime threats, the Chinese clearly feel the need to reorient their forces, which have become increasingly sophisticated, away from its historical reliance on ground forces, towards a command structure that can take advantage of their new capabilities over land, sea and space.

This issue has come up in the background of the Third Plenum of the Communist Party Central Committee that had taken place two weeks earlier in November 2012. While the emphasis, and a great deal of reportage, of the Plenum was on economic and governance reform, there were important decisions taken in relation to national security. For one, China had announced the creation of a National Security Council-like structure to deal with challenges in internal and external security.

The Plenum directives reiterated what Xi had been telling the PLA from the time he had taken charge: The government would clear all obstacles to PLA modernisation but the PLA itself had to reorganise, adopt new doctrines, even while remaining a force which “obeys the Party’s command, is capable of winning battles and has a sound work style.” Since then, writing in the Chinese media revealed that the thrust of the reform was in three areas — first, reforming the leadership mechanism in the PLA, second, optimising the size and structure of the forces and third, developing a more comprehensive education system to cultivate advanced military thinking.

The Indian dilemma

There is an interesting coincidence here since a great deal of Indian thinking and reform measures, too, have suggested the eventual move of our armed forces to the integrated theatre command concept.

Based on recommendations of the GoM that it had set up in April 2000, the NDA’s Cabinet Committee on Security approved the creation of several apex new institutions and management organisations, which also laid stress on greater coordination and jointness. Among these were the Chief of Defence Staff, the Strategic Forces Command to manage all strategic forces, and a tri-Service Andaman & Nicobar Command. The CDS was the beginning point from which the Indian military would be restructured to create tri-Service theatre commands.

A committee headed by former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra has also recommended the creation of a CDS-like figure. Sadly, political waffling has prevented the appointment of the CDS-like figure and hence organisational reforms that would see the emergence of theatre commands in the Indian military system remain frozen.

All military reform usually descends from the political system. Generals, as the saying goes, only tend to learn to fight the last war better. In China, clearly, the party is ensuring that its global ambitions will be backed by a military, which has the wherewithal to confront global challenges. In India, the political class has taken a leave of absence from managing the national security apparatus altogether.
Meet the Indian ‘son’ of Bofors
New Delhi, Feb. 6: The son of a gun is named Dhanush. Defence minister A.K. Antony and his cohorts in the armed forces are looking at it longingly.

It burst last July in the Rajasthan desert while firing. Dhanush is a derivative of —you guessed it — the Bofors.

It is here at Defexpo 2014, the show billed as a window to the world’s largest arms bazaar.

Right here in the heart of Pragati Maidan, the Dhanush in olive green, its overlong barrel pointing skywards, is firing a slogan that Antony repeats like a mantra: be Indian, buy Indian. This, then, is the story of how a gun was “indigenised”.

Later this month, the gun — the one here at this exhibition — is to be transported to Sikkim. The winter trials will be held there. It will be checked for accuracy, range and rate of fire; for its traverse and elevation capabilities; for its shoot-and-scoot ability.

Sounds familiar? Yes, these were the words used to describe and justify the purchase of 410 Bofors FH77B02 guns in 1987. Now, as it was then, the Indian army is bereft of big guns.

Its “field artillery rationalisation programme” has gone haywire. For nearly three decades the army has not inducted a single big gun. The Bofors bought in 1987 are being cannibalised to keep the artillery going. The army says it cannot wage war without these cannons or howitzers.

The army has projected a need for five types of howitzers: towed, self-propelled, tracked, mounted and light. In all, it needs some 18,000 pieces of artillery guns to be comfortable with its war-waging potential.

Realising the urgency, Antony went to the Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) in Jabalpore, where the Indian gun is being made, in September.

“There was pressure on us to have some kind of opening ceremony for an indigenous programme though we were yet to be prepared,” says an Ordnance Development Centre officer on Antony’s visit. “So we organised this ceremony to inaugurate the 155mm bay.”

Antony cut the ribbon. The “155mm” bay in Jabalpore ordnance factory is the assembly line for the Dhanush. So, was the gun already made?

“No,” says the official. But he explains that, at the bay, they showed the components of the gun: the trailer, the carriage, the assembly, the barrel and the breech, the muzzle brake, the cradle and the saddle, the trunnions.

“We just took apart a Bofors for the minister,” the official explained, “and laid it out.”

He smirked: “He (Antony) wouldn’t know the difference between a 39 calibre and a 45 calibre.”

The original Bofors — the Dhanush ka baap, if you will — is a 155mm/39cal gun. The Dhanush is a 155mm/45cal.

The increased calibre means a longer barrel length for a longer range. The original Bofors had a maximum effective range of 27km in the plains. The Dhanush’s shell is claimed to top 35km.

The Dhanush is an improved version of the Bofors, says Tushar Tripathi, director of weapons systems at the Calcutta-headquartered Ordnance Factory Board.

The Jabalpore factory has so far manufactured six Dhanush guns. The fourth one burst during an internal trial in the Rajasthan desert last year.

Ahtesham Akhtar from GCF Jabalpore says the gun had already fired 250 rounds; so the barrel overheated. The sixth gun — on show here — is a further development.

It is ironic that India began organised manufacturing of guns more than 100 years ago. The Ichapore Rifle Factory near Calcutta was producing firearms even before WWI.

Yet, India’s armed forces are short of guns and its defence industrial complex is struggling to make them. It is an axiom of truth that whatever is aplenty at the Defexpo is in serious short supply.

The latest edition of the expo of the largest arms bazaar is seeing the showcasing of several big guns: by the Tatas, who have driven a Denel-derived, truck-mounted gun all the way from Bangalore; by Larsen and Toubro, which is exhibiting a version of the French-origin Caesar/Nexter; and, of course, by BAE Systems — to which Bofors AB now belongs — which has hauled its ultra-light M777 over here yet again.

Pragati Maidan is a bayou in which to have fun with a gun.
Breathtaking adventure by Indian Air Force, Army
A canopy of colourfully descending parachutes manoeuvred by sky-divers and vrooming bullets enthralled the gathering as adventure teams of the Indian Air Force and the Army engaged in breathtaking display here today.

Locals and children's roar of approval filled the Netaji Stadium here as sky divers of IAF's Akash Ganga team emerged as dots from a speeding aircraft 8,000 feet above.

School children with their parents thronged the stadium as the sky divers descended on the scenic landscape.

Then it was time for Indian Army's Tornado Team, whose skills with 500 cc Royal Enfield bullets kept the gathering spellbound for over an hour.

The bullets, which made several rounds of display of mastery in biking and adventure received rounds of applause from the youth and children.

The martial art display of the Andaman and Nicobar Police was a treat for the audience.

The tunes of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and the Indian Navy was the wonderful signing off to the event.

The display was part of the ninth biennial international naval exercise MILAN-2014, a five-day event.
Country must be prepared to meet any challenge, says AK Antony

NEW DELHI: Citing the "challenging" geo-political realities around India, Defence Minister A K Antony today said the government was taking necessary steps to modernise armed forces.

He said India has always desired peace with its neighbours but peace cannot come at the cost of its security concerns.

"It is for this reason, we must be prepared to meet any challenge posed to our territorial integrity and sovereignty," the Minister said in his inaugural address at DefExpo-2014.  ..

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