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Saturday, 22 February 2014

From Today's Papers - 22 Feb 2014

Defence policy in a strategic void
Army modernisation has slipped behind a decade
Harsh V. Pant
Inaugurating Defexpo India 2014 last week, Defence Minister A.K. Antony underlined the commitment of his government “to modernise the armed forces so that they are well-equipped with the best equipment, weapon systems and technology.” Speaking at the Land, Naval and Internal, Homeland Security Systems Exhibition in Delhi, he suggested that “efforts are being made to accelerate the pace of indigenisation in the defence sector” and that “the government is encouraging joint public-private participation in the defence sector, while thrust is also being given to the private sector to make a far more meaningful and substantive contribution.”
Defexpo India 2014, the eighth in the series of biennial Land, Naval and Internal Homeland Security Systems Exhibition and the largest-ever defence exposition in Asia, was held in Delhi last week underscoring India's emergence as an attractive destination for investment in the defence sector and providing a platform for collaborations and joint ventures in the defence industry.

India has been one of the world's major defence spenders over the last few years, making more than US $35 billion of arms purchases over the past two to three years. Accordingly, India has asserted its military profile in the past decade, setting up bases abroad and patrolling the Indian Ocean to counter piracy and protect lines of communication. As its strategic horizons become broader, military acquisition is shifting from land-based systems to airborne refuelling systems, long-range missiles and other means of power projection.

When it comes to military defence aspirations, all eyes are on - and wallets open to - India, as big defence players vie for the Indian defence market. India has been the world's second-largest arms buyer over the past five years, importing 7 per cent of the world's arms exports. With the world's fourth largest military and one of its biggest defence budgets, India has been in the midst of a huge defence modernisation programme for more than a decade now; one that has seen billions of dollars spent on the latest high-tech military technology. According to various estimates, India will be spending around $100 billion on defence purchases over the next decade. This liberal spending on military equipment has attracted the interest of western industry and governments alike and is changing the scope of the global defence market.

Yet fundamental vulnerabilities continue to ail Indian defence policy. So while the Indian Army has been suggesting that it is 50 per cent short of attaining full capability and will need 20 years to gain full defence preparedness, naval analysts are pointing out that India's naval power is actually declining.

During the 1999 Kargil conflict, operations were hampered by lack of adequate equipment. Only because the conflict remained largely confined to the 150-km front in the Kargil sector did India manage to get the upper hand, ejecting Pakistani forces from its side of the line-of-control (LoC). India lacked the ability to impose significant military costs during Operation Parakram because of the unavailability of suitable weaponry and night vision equipment needed to carry out swift surgical strikes.

Few states face the kind of security challenges that confront India. Yet since Independence, the military has never been seen as central to achieving Indian national priorities. India ignored the defence sector after Independence and paid inadequate attention to its security needs. Indeed, it was not until the Sino-Indian War of 1962 that the Indian military was given a role in the formulation of defence policy. Divorcing foreign policy from military power was a recipe for disaster as India realised in 1962 when even Nehru was forced to concede that India's military weakness had indeed been a temptation for the Chinese.

This trend continues even today as was exemplified by the policy paralysis in New Delhi after the Mumbai terror attacks when Indians found out that due to the blatant politicisation of military acquisitions India no longer enjoyed conventional military superiority vis-à-vis Pakistan, throwing India's military posture into complete disarray and resulting in a serious loss of credibility.

When the UPA government came to power in 2004, it ordered investigations into several of the arms acquisition deals of the NDA.

A series of defence procurement scandals since the late 1980s have also made the bureaucracy risk-averse, thereby delaying the acquisition process. Meanwhile, India’s defence expenditure as a percentage of GDP has been declining and a large part of the money is surrendered by the defence forces every year, given their inability to spend due to labyrinthine bureaucratic procedures involved in the procurement process. Pakistan has rapidly acquired US technology under the garb of fighting the “war on terror” while the modernisation of the Indian Army has slipped behind a decade.

The higher defence organisational set-up in India continues to exhibit serious weaknesses with its ability to prosecute wars in the contemporary strategic context under serious doubt. The institutional structures, as they stand today, are not effective enough to provide single-point military advice to the government or to facilitate the definition of defence objectives. Coordinated and synergised joint operations need integrated theatre commands, yet India hasn't found it necessary to appoint even a Chief of Defence Staff yet.

In recent years the government has decided to fast-track the acquisition process by compressing the timeline necessary to finalise a defence contract. It is hoped that this will allow the services to spend their unutilised budgets quickly. The focus of the recent Defence Procurement Procedures (DPPs) has been to promote private sector participation in the defence sector, giving them incentives to establish joint ventures and production arrangements with any foreign manufacturer. In the latest Defence Procurement Procedures approved in 2013, stress has been on to the Indian defence industry, both in the public and private sector by according preference to the 'Buy' (Indian), Buy and Make (Indian) categories of acquisitions.

Delhi is accelerating its programme of arms purchases, but has yet to broach the reforms necessary for these to translate into improved strategic options. There is no substitute for strategic planning in defence. Without it, India will never acquire the military muscle that would enhance its leverage, regionally as well as globally.
Antony downplays reports of 2012 troop movement
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
Defence Minister AK Antony today downplayed news reports regarding the movement of two Army units in January 2012 which reportedly had the Defence Secretary calling in the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) in the dead of the night to explain the movement.

Speaking outside Parliament, Antony reiterated what he said on the movement of the Army units near Delhi in January 2012. It was "a routine training programme".

The movement had taken place a night before the then Army Chief General VK Singh had moved the Supreme Court over his date of birth (DoB) dispute with the Ministry of Defence.

Answering queries on the troop movement following an interview of former Director General of Military Operations Lt General AK Choudhary in which he said he was summoned by the then Defence Secretary on the issue, Antony said it was a routine exercise.

"It was a routine training programme. Nothing wrong in it," Antony told reporters adding that he had answered the question thrice in Parliament earlier — twice in Rajya Sabha and once in Lok Sabha. He said, “The then Defence Secretary (Shashi Kant Sharma) also gave the same answer to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.”

Earlier Lt General Choudhary, who has retired from service, told reporters in Patna that he was asked by the government about the troop movement and he had told them it was "a normal training event".

Asked if the government was alarmed over the troop movement as he had been called by the then Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, Choudhary said he couldn't say if those in the government were "alarmed or not". "I explained and the issue was understood by them. I was called to the Defence Secretary's office at 11 pm on January 16. They asked for a clarification which I gave. They took the (troop movement) seriously," General Choudhary said in Patna.

A newspaper report had reported that the government was "spooked" on the night of January 16-17, 2012 because central intelligence agencies had reported that military units from Hisar and Agra had moved in the direction of the capital.

What took place

* On the night of January 16-17, 2012, military units in Hisar and Agra had moved in the direction of Delhi

* The movement took place a night before the then Army Chief General VK Singh moved the SC over his date of birth dispute with the Ministry of Defence.
Indian military among least gay-friendly in the world: Study
LONDON: Indian military is among the least gay-friendly in the world, while Britain's military is the second most homosexuality-friendly.

The first-ever global ranking of countries by inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) service members in the armed forces brought out by the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies ranked more than 100 armed forces by inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender personnel.

India is in the bottom half of the list recording only 34 out of 100 in its LGBT score while New Zealand's military, which was found to be the most gay-friendly in the world top scored with 100.

India is well below countries like Liberia (38), Sierra Leone (47), Congo (49), Rwanda (52) and Nepal (55) when it comes to tolerating homosexuality in its armed forces.

India's low rank and intolerance over gay rights comes after India's top court recently reinstated an archaic law that makes gay sex a criminal offense.

In 2009, Delhi's high court had overturned the colonial law (section 377 of the Indian Penal Code) that made gay sex an offense punishable by up to life imprisonment.

The Supreme Court reversed the 2009 ruling in January 2014.

The Netherlands is also second in the ranking along with UK as being highly gay-friendly in its armed forces.

Australia ranked fifth in the index while the US ranked relatively low at 40th out of the 103 countries.

Sweden is ranked third (97.5) followed by Canada (94.3), Denmark (93.5), Belgium (93), Israel (92) and France and Spain tied at a score of 91.8.

Nigeria was found to be the most intolerant scoring as low as 3, followed by Iran (6), Syria (7), Zimbabwe (9) and Ghana (10).

The LGBT Military Index ranked over 100 countries in an instant, transparent, systematic, and comparable overview of 19 policies and best practices.

The Index maps the situation of LGBT participation in the armed forces on a global scale. Every country in the world implements a different combination of policies based on inclusion, admission, tolerance, exclusion, and persecution. Based on these combinations, every armed force can be estimated and ranked to compare countries.

Defence minister Anna Soubry reacted to the Index, "This is the reward for the hard work the department has made to create a positive working environment for its lesbian, gay and bisexual military and civilian employees."
Fresh row over 2012 troops movement near Delhi; NSA says 'no distrust'
PTI | Feb 21, 2014, 12.34 PM IST
PATNA/NEW DELHI: A fresh controversy has erupted over the movement of two Army units near Delhi in 2012 with then DGMO Lt Gen A K Choudhary saying there may have been "distrust" between the Army and government on the issue, a view rejected on Friday by the national security adviser(NSA).

"There was misconception or there was perceptional difference or there may be distrust," Choudhary said on Friday after he was quoted in an interview, saying that the then defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma had asked him to send the troops back as the government at the highest level was "worried" over this.

When asked about this, NSA Shivshankar Menon said there was no distrust between the Army and government.

"I don't see there is distrust. How can I comment on something that I don't see. Because I am a civilian, I work very closely with the Army everyday. I don't see that," he said.

The movement of the troops was a "normal" exercise, Choudhary said, and the government immediately "understood" the issue after he explained the matter to them. "But before that either there was misconception... or may be distrust."

Asked by reporters whether there was any confusion in the government then over the troop movement, he shot back, "You ask them (government)".

Pressed further whether alarm bells had rung in the government over the issue, he said, "I won't say they were alarmed or not alarmed".

He said there was daily interaction between the government and the Army headquarters and if at all there was any confusion then, they could have sought clarification in such meetings.

He said the government did get "a little excited" which was "uncalled for". "I was only thinking that if there were inputs of this nature they (government) had thought about , they should have called us up and asked us for clarification. It would have finished at that point of time only."

When Sharma sought an explanation from him as the government had no information about it, he told him that this is a "normal routine" exercise and "you need not worry about it at all and they understood it".

The then Army chief General V K Singh, whose relations with the government soured over the controversy on his date of birth, said Choudhary's comments only confirmed the hand of a senior bureaucrat linked to Chandigarh in raking it up.

"It confirms who cooked up routine move to denigrate Army," he wrote on his twitter post. The then DGMO said it would be wrong to link the troop movement with Gen Singh's decision to drag government to the Supreme Court over his date of birth row as such exercises are planned long in advance.

"Such training exercises are planned in advance. It is wrong to link it with any particular date. It has nothing to do with him (Gen Singh) going to court," Choudhary said.

Singh had moved the apex court on January 16, 2012, which coincided with the movement of troop.

Choudhary termed the exercise as "very small", something which happens round the year. "These exercises they keep on doing very often. Earlier also they have done, they don't ask me. These are normal, routine exercises with the formation's command. They don't inform us, it's not required," he said.

He parried questions as to whether the concern in the government had to do with reports of "trust deficit" between Gen Singh and defence minister A K Antony and said such queries should be put to them.

He, however, appeared to blame the government for the row, saying if they were worried then they should have asked the Army.

"I cannot say what was in there mind when they received the information. When they asked me the next day, I explained it to them and it ended there... You should ask them if they were confused or what caused it," he said.

Army units movement in 2012 was routine training: Antony

Defence minister AK Antony on Friday reiterated his earlier stand that it was a "routine training incident", rejecting suggestions of a trust deficit between him and General Singh or any "alarm" in the government over the troop movement.

"I said we got report from the Army. It was a normal routine programme. It was routine, nothing wrong in it. That is the answer, written answer I gave to Parliament. It was a routine training incident."

He said the defence secretary gave the same answer to the Parliament standing committee that the exercise was a routine training.
Nuke programme 'central' to Pakistan's defence: Army chief
Islamabad: Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif on Friday said the nuclear programme occupies a "central place" in the defence of the country.

Sharif made the remarks during a visit to the army's Strategic Force Command headquarters in Rawalpindi.

He was received by Strategic Force Command chief Lt Gen Obaidullah Khan, who gave him a detailed briefing about the preparedness of the strategic forces.

Sharif lauded the higher standard of training, professional abilities and morale of the armed forces personnel.

The exact number and location of Pakistan's nuclear weapons are not known.

There have been a slew of reports in the international media about the vulnerability of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and possibility of it falling into hands of the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Pakistan says its strictly follows international standards to guard the nuclear stockpile and has always rejected such reports as part of a "campaign" to malign its nuclear programme.

Islamabad does not follow a "no first use" policy for its nuclear weapons but under its nuclear doctrine, the arsenal is meant to maintain a minimum credible deterrence.

Most of Pakistan's missiles are India-specific.
Pranab Mukherjee thanks Bengal government for releasing land to the Army
NABAGRAM (Behrampore): President Pranab Mukherjee, on Thursday, thanked the West Bengal government for granting 250 acres for a new military station at Nabagram in the Murshidabad district.

He laid the foundation stone of the Berhampore Military Station which will take about four years to construct. The military station is likely to bring about major socio-economic development in Nabagram, considered a backward region of the district. Among those present during the occasion were West Bengal governor M K Narayanan, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Bikram Singh, Lt Gen MMS Rai, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command and Lt Gen Raman Dhawan.

"I deeply appreciate the contribution made by the Government of West Bengal and locals in providing land for this military station," Mukherjee said.

This statement is of relevance as the land policy adopted by the Mamata Banerjee government over the last three years has proved a hurdle for several projects that may have led to development of backward areas. The President spoke of Murshidabad's rich heritage and how he had wanted to set up a cantonment in the district. Incidentally, Nabagram is in the Jangipur Lok Sabha constituency from where Mukherjee was elected in 2009. After he became President, his son Abhijit Mukherjee just about managed to retain the seat. An analysis of the by-poll result revealed that the Left won more votes in Nabagram than Abhijit Mukherjee.

On Thursday, Abhijit Mukherjee shared the dais with his father as the local MP. "The Nawab from Murshidabad ruled over the states of Bihar, Bengal and Odisha till the Battle of Plassey in 1757. It was after the Nawab's defeat that the British ruled over India for 190 years. Historians say that after the Battle of Plassey and the three Arcot Wars, there remained no force in India to challenge the British. When I was defence minister, I wanted a cantonment near Behrampore. Between Panagarh/Kanchrapara in the south and Siliguri in the north, there aren't any military establishments. The Berhampore Military Station will be situated roughly midway between the two locations. The military establishment at Panagarh is also being upgraded to meet the requirements of the North East," Mukherjee said.

According to him, military establishments across the world have resulted in urbanisation and the station at Nabagram will also generate employment. "Even during construction, a lot of jobs will be generated. There is bound to be socio-economic development as the military station gets operational. Our defence forces are determined to defend us and protect our territory. Even a century ago, the Indian Army fought in World War I from Mesopotamia to France. They laid down their lives for the protection of humanity. This continues to remain the ethos of our armed forces," Mukherjee added.
India, Pak ally S Arabia to forge strong defence ties

India is set to forge a major defence agreement with Saudi Arabia, one of Pakistan’s closest friends.

The two countries will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation on February 28 during the three-day Delhi visit of Saudi Arabian crown prince and defence minister Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud.

The agreement will be on joint military exercises, hardware sales and transfer of technology. Riyadh has signed a similar agreement with Islamabad this week.

“The MoU provides for a proper bilateral defence policy group with defence ministries on both sides setting the agenda. Given the status of Saudi Arabia in the Islamic world, this is no mean achievement. It signals that Pakistan is no longer the only favourite nation for Riyadh in south Asia,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.

India and Saudi Arabia will operationalise a billion-US-dollar joint investment to fund infrastructure and boost growth. The 50:50 fund (the two countries contributing equally) will be jointly headed by nominated CEOs.

The amount may be increased during the 78-year-old prince’s meeting with PM Manmohan Singh on February 28. New Delhi is preparing to roll out the red carpet for the 100-strong delegation accompanying Prince Salman, who is also the vice custodian of the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina.

The prince’s chiefly political visit looks to strengthen a quietly developing relationship. Riyadh and Delhi have already institutionalised intelligence links and deepened cooperation on counter-terrorism.

Riyadh has made it clear that it will not allow any anti-India activity on its soil and will deny ideological platform to any terrorist group operating from Pakistan or within India. The Saudi intelligence agency, Al Mukhabarat, has played a key role in making Pakistan-based terrorists like 26/11 Mumbai attack accused Zabiuddin Ansari aka Abu Jundal face the Indian law.

Riyadh has in the past indicated that it wants the Indian Army to train Saudi Arabian troops in mountain warfare by setting up a combat school. It also wants joint counter-terrorism exercises.
ABSCs to come up in Regimental Centres: Jitendra Singh
Bouyed by the state-of-the-art facilities at the Army Boys Sports Company (ABSC) in Pune, Minister of state for Defence Jitendra Singh today said such centres would be established at every regimental centre.

Singh said his Ministry has worked out the modalities with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to establish centres like ABSC in the Indian Air Force and Navy.

"I was amazed by Army Boys Sports Company in Pune. The facilities there...They had sports medicine, foreign coaches, latest equipments. We have now multiplied the ABSC into ten times. Over the next few years, we will have ABSCs at every regimental centres and centre of exellence," Singh told reporters here.

"This was only limited to the Indian Army. Now, it will also be included in the Indian Air Force and Navy. We have worked on the MoU between SAI and Ministry of Defense. There one would have access to the best facilities that the Indian army and the defense has," he added.

Singh was speaking about the linkages between the Youth Affairs Ministry and Defence Ministry on the occasion of the launching of the National Youth Policy 2014 and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan programme.

Singh, who is also holding the independent charge of the Sports Ministry, said that his ministry was looking to recruit 15 lakh NCC student in the next two years.

"There is a waiting list of 6,000 schools which are willing to have NCC in their schools. The first initiative which we have taken is to wipe out this backlog. We are increasing the numbers and allocated more budget for it. Now, we want to have 15 lakh NCC student. In next two years, we will be able to reduce this backlog by 50 per cent. We have worked out all the detail and we are running a pilot project," he said.

Elaborating further about his plans of linkages, Singh said different youth organisations are holding camps in remotest of Naxal areas and disturbed regions in the North East.

"The linkages are very important. Another such linkage which we have taken is National Youth Policy. Youth organisations are holding camps in remotest of areas in the North East, some in the left wing areas like Chhattissgarh, Odisa, parts of Bihar -- areas where youngsters are affected by left wing extremism.

"Increase the intake of people in the Indian army, Air Force and Navy from those poor areas. That is our focus areas for our ministry for the youth of the country," he said.

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