Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Thursday, 22 May 2014

From Today's Papers - 22 May 2014

The goal of nuclear disarmament
Ambiguity on China's 'no-first-use' policy
G. Parthasarathy
On July 8, 1996, the World Court ruled that countries possessing nuclear weapons have not just a “need” but an “obligation” to commence negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament. Nearly two decades later, the ruling of the World Court remains an ever-receding mirage. Even today, a quarter of a century after the Cold War ended, the US deploys an estimated 150-200 tactical nuclear weapons in NATO allies -- Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Turkey. The US has held the position that it would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons for its security and to protect its NATO allies. The 1999 NATO Doctrine retained the option to use nuclear weapons against states for merely possessing chemical or biological weapons, even if they had signed the NPT. While the Soviet Union had declared that it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons, the Russian Federation adopted a “first-strike” doctrine in 1993, which was subsequently reaffirmed.

The Bush Administration was prepared to use nuclear weapons even against non-nuclear weapon states in regional conflicts. The 2002 Nuclear Policy Review called on the Pentagon to draft contingency plans for the use of nuclear weapons against Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria. In contrast, the 2010 review by the Obama Administration avers the US will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states that are signatories to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations. It notes: “It is in the US interest and that of all other nations that the nearly 65 year record of nuclear non-use be extended forever”. India should move to get universal support for this reference of getting the “record of non-use extended forever”.

China adopted a “no-first-use” (NFU) policy in 1964, stating it would “not be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances”. It reiterated this policy in 2005, 2008, 2009, and in 2011. But, some Chinese statements have cast doubts on whether their NFU pledge would apply to states like India possessing nuclear weapons which have not acceded to the NPT.

The Pentagon has noted that “there is some ambiguity on the conditions under which China’s NFU would apply”. China has offered to sign agreements on “no first use” of nuclear weapons with the other five NPT “recognised” nuclear weapon states. It signed such an agreement with Russia and concluded a “non-targeting” agreement with the Clinton Administration, immediately after our nuclear tests. New Delhi should seek and obtain a formal confirmation from China that their NFU pledge applies to India.

While Pakistan has not formally enunciated a nuclear doctrine, the former head of the Strategic Planning Division of its Nuclear Command Authority, Lieut-Gen Khalid Kidwai, told a team of physicists from Italy's Landau Network in 2002 that Pakistan's nuclear weapons were “aimed solely at India”. Kidwai added that Pakistan would use nuclear weapons if India conquered a large part of Pakistan’s territory, or destroyed a large part of Pakistan’s land and air forces. Kidwai also held out the possibility of use of nuclear weapons, if India tried to “economically strangle” Pakistan, or pushed it to political destabilisation. This elucidation, by the man who was the de facto custodian of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal for over a decade and a POW in India in 1971-1973, was a precise formulation of Pakistan’s nuclear thresholds. It now appears that Pakistan’s military wants to also keep open the option of mounting further Mumbai-style terrorist attacks, by threatening to lower its nuclear threshold by the use of tactical nuclear weapons. India has no intention of either destroying Pakistan's armed forces, or conquering its territory. Pakistan cannot, however, forever assume, it would be free from an appropriate Indian response, to 26/11 style terrorist attacks.

The threats by Pakistan to use tactical nuclear weapons in a conflict against India arise for two reasons. First, Pakistan wants to warn India and the world that it will respond with tactical nuclear weapons if Indian forces cross the border following yet another 26/11 style terrorist attack. This is a crude resort to nuclear blackmail, to enable Pakistan to perpetuate cross-border terrorism.

Secondly, there is a cold calculation in this thinking. The Indian Nuclear Doctrine is premised on nuclear restraint. India has pledged “no first use” of nuclear weapons, while voicing a commitment to developing a “credible minimum deterrent” comprising a triad of land-based, air-launched and sea-based missiles. Realistically, India's nuclear deterrent will be credible only after the Agni 5 missile and the nuclear submarine Arihant become fully operational.

India’s doctrine also contains provisions of a massive response should Indian territory or Indian armed forces anywhere be subjected to attacks by nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Pakistan evidently believes, or purports to believe, that if it uses tactical nuclear weapons against concentrations of Indian forces attacking or poised for attacking it, India will not risk a massive retaliation, as this would lead to a full-fledged nuclear conflict and mutually assured destruction. Pakistan appears to have lobbied globally seeking understanding of this rationale.

In these circumstances, we need to review how we should signal to Pakistan and the world that we have the capability and willingness to inflict escalating and devastating damage on Pakistan's military if it chooses to be stupid enough to resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons against our forces. General Kidwai has clearly spelt out Pakistan's thresholds. India really has no reason to cross these thresholds, while responding to a 26/11 type of terrorist strike emanating from territory under Pakistan's control. Thanks to liberal assistance from China, Pakistan has developed the capability to build a large arsenal of plutonium-based weapons — both strategic and tactical. This was not the case when our nuclear doctrine was formulated. There is, however, no need to change our basic commitment to “no first use” of nuclear weapons Uncertainties about our intentions, thresholds and policies, could lead to others seeking to resort to a pre-emptive first strike, with disastrous consequences.
Wanted: A National Security Commission
Lt Gen SS Mehta
 The earlier article established that India does not in effect have a National Security Policy and has, as a result, bled consistently for almost 70 years without seriously attempting to staunch the bleeding. On the contrary, instead of seeking solutions or studying the models of successful countries in this upper-end seriously nation-building enterprise, we have adopted a peculiarly Indian escapism where we philosophically rationalise, even laud a patented propensity for inaction and comatose, sleep-walking stratagem in which "No decision" in itself becomes typified as a "decision" and thereby the subject of much insipid appreciation.

It is instructive to study some examples of how others deal with issues of national security. First the US. The NSC in the US is chaired by the President. Documents state its regular attendees (both statutory and non-statutory) are the Vice-President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the statutory military advisor to the Council and the Director of National Intelligence is the Intelligence Advisor. The Chief of Staff to the President, Counsel to the President and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy are invited to attend any NSC meeting. The Attorney General and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget are invited to attend meetings pertaining to their responsibilities. The heads of other executive departments and agencies, as well as other senior officials, are invited to attend meetings of the NSC when it is considered appropriate.

China’s example

Let us take the example of China. They may be the "new kid on the block" in dealing with holistic national security but are fast, determined and focused learners. When President Xi Jinping presided over the first meeting of the recently established National Security Commission, his prescient remarks suggested that the commission would have the power to reach into nearly every aspect of domestic and foreign policy. Plans for the commission were approved at a Communist Party leadership meeting in November 2013. The state news media reported that President Xi at the very first meeting of the National Security Commission laid out its policy ambit. This not just indicated that President Xi had come fully prepared and done his homework but also that that he had a wide-ranging and inter-linked charter for the commission, embracing both external and domestic issues. "Nowadays, the denotations and connotations of national security for our country are more profuse than they have ever been at any period of history in the past", he opined. Mr Xi went on to add that "the domestic and external factors (in China) are more complex than at any time in history, and we must adhere to a comprehensive view of national security." The President could not have put the national security conundrum in a better and more forward looking perspective.
A look at the United Kingdom is equally revealing. The National Security Council of the United Kingdom is a Cabinet Committee tasked with overseeing all issues related to national security, intelligence coordination, and defence strategy. The NSC was established in 2010 by Prime Minister David Cameron. The Council coordinates responses to threats faced by the United Kingdom and integrating at the highest level, the work of relevant government entities with respect to national security. The council is chaired by the Prime Minister and has the deputy PM, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, the secretaries of state for defence, home, international development, energy and climate change, the chief secretary, and the minister for government policy as its members. In addition, other government ministers, senior officials, military and intelligence officers, and civil servants attend as necessary. The Leader of the Opposition is an attendee on an occasional, "as-required" basis. The point is made. India can no longer take recourse to obtuse and abstract philosophical meanderings. Instead, there is an irrefutable case for setting up a National Security Commission (NSC) to make up for the void created by chronically dysfunctional structures which have failed us time and again.

The proposed NSC should be a unique non-statutory body suited to meet our specific and peculiar needs and aspirations. The Prime Minister should be the ex officio Chairman. It should have a Deputy Chairman, who is given the rank of a full Cabinet Minister. The current CCS ministers, including the HRD Minister (human resource is the key to security), should act as ex officio members of the Commission and the Leader of the Opposition should be an invitee. The NSA should be the secretary of the NSC within the PMO and supported by a skeleton staff to monitor the recommendations of the CCS. Its full-time members should be renowned experts from disciplines like internal security, external security, nuclear, defence economics, defence production, science, technology and research, manufacturing (public and private), international relations, human resource development, water, energy, environment, health, national defence including coastal security, media, space, and cyber space. This group should replace parts of the NSCS as it is configured today. Stringent entry qualifications must apply; not the least the expert’s ability to display macro-vision about the strategic space that defines India’s peculiar security and defence problems. They must think and act integrated; create rare synergy and deliver output that makes the country and the world sit up and take notice. The Commission should work through three divisions — The policy, integration and implementation divisions. The NSC's recommendations must be funnelled through the CCS. After CCS approval, the proposals should be put through Parliamentary oversight and approval. All NSC activities must be placed on a strict time and activity continuum.

The new NSC, when formed, will have to break existing silos of sloth and resistance, be credible, ensure synergy between various stakeholders, give every component a hearing, debate policy, and ensure that no single individual or a vested group hijacks policy. The policy should be outcome driven. In brief, it should get its message across to the citizens, the neighbours, and the rest of the world.

Citizens’ right to know

Every citizen has a right to know where we stand on the national security scene. There is much that can and should be shared. The days of stand-alone planning are passé. The former PM in his farewell address to the Planning Commission said, "Are we still using tools and approaches, which were designed for a different era? Have we added on new functions and layers without any restructuring of the more traditional activities in the Commission?" By his remarks he acknowledged, that we need more than just a Planning Commission, and even what the Planning Commission does is caught in a time warp.

A warning is mandated here; a grim reminder. In the pre-British rule era, we were a fractured and feudal polity. The British cannily and successfully practised divide and rule over us during their 150- odd years of rule. Left free to do our own thing, the million-dollar question was the form governance would take after Independence. What really unfolded after the euphoria of freedom began losing its novelty was that almost inadvertently, vested interest groups mushroomed.

Multiple power centres

A power ladder emerged. Today's India is a complex mosaic of power centres, linked by scores of narrow-minded interest groups, constantly wrestling and jostling for their place in the sun. Those who have manoeuvred well, try to retain their status. Those who lost out resort to intrigue, perpetually scheming to get status and those who are left out, look for mentors who can help them on their way up. The lobbies, the fights, the vested interests, are well documented and require no elaboration. What is unedifying to recall is that efforts to address the problems we face have turned out to be worse that the problems they were required to address and resolve.

The NSC should have stipulated terms of reference. These can be spelt out, however, space constraints preclude the listing of these for now. The NSC should place equal emphasis on our capabilities to operate throughout the spectrum of traditional and non-traditional threats to National Security.

(To be continued).

The writer, Lt Gen SS Mehta retired as the Western Army Commander. Post retirement he has served as DG, Confederation of Indian Industry and as a member of the National Security Advisory Board.
India scales up military forces on disputed China border
India is raising a new mountain strike corps of nearly 90,000 soldiers to strengthen its defense along its disputed border with China in the high reaches of the Himalayas.

China will be a top foreign policy challenge for Narendra Modi, the incoming prime minister who won a landslide victory last week. Business ties between India and China are booming. But despite rounds of talks, the two countries have yet to resolve their decades-old dispute over the 2,000-mile border between the two countries. It remains one of the most militarized borders in the world.

The strike corps will have its own mountain artillery, combat engineers, anti-aircraft guns, and radio equipment. Over 35,000 soldiers have already been raised in new infantry units in India's northeastern state of Assam. The entire corps will be fully raised over the next five years with 90,274 troops at a cost of $10.6 billion. The proposal to raise a new strike corps was recommended last year by India’s China Study Group, a government body that considers all strategic issues related to China.

The strike corps signals a new assertiveness in New Delhi and will provide an additional defense capability to India, which for a long time focused on the land borders with Pakistan. While the decision predated Mr. Modi, he is likely to further strengthen India’s military modernization which is one of his party's top agenda items.

"China has made frequent border transgressions into Indian border,” says retired Lieutenant General Prakash Katoch, who formerly commanded the Indian Army's Special Forces wing. "The new prime minister has to ensure that our borders are well protected. It cannot be business as usual."

He predicts that as both countries are growing and keen to increase their influence, China and India will increasingly step on each other's areas of interest and importance.
Lingering grievances

India and China fought a brief border war in 1962. Ever since, the relationship between the neighboring Asian countries has been mired in distrust, although business ties between India and China are robust: they share over $70 billion in annual bilateral trade, a figure that’s projected to rise in the next decade.

China lays claims to more than 35,000 square miles of land in the eastern sector of the Himalayas, while India says China occupies 14,600 square miles of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west. Last year in May the two armies ended a three-week standoff in the Ladakh region after Chinese troops entered at least six miles into territory claimed by India. China denied that troops had crossed into Indian territory. Since then both the countries have taken a number of steps to reduce border tension including prior notice of military patrols along the ill-defined border.   Yet both countries are building roads, railroads, and airfields along the border, which would facilitate the rapid movement of troops and artillery to the border zone. Having seen the massive improvements China has made in its border infrastructure, India is now building roads and upgrading its airfields along China's border and deploying attack helicopters and fighters jets to them. Eventually, C-130J planes, bought by the Indian Air Force from the US, will be deployed in the eastern command. The multi-tasking C-130J is the most advanced special operations aircraft in the world that can transport troops to remote places.  “We lost the war in 1962 [with China] because we had no connectivity to our borders," says Maj. General P.L. Kher (ret.), a veteran of 1962 war. “We lost the war because we were poorly trained and equipped. We want friendship with China but there is no reason that we should not strengthen our military capability.” 

At one of the Indian border posts during the 1962 war, out of 60 Indian soldiers who were guarding the post only 14 survived, including Kher.   The 1962 war and India’s defeat remains a subject many within the Indian military establishment do not like to discuss. The inquiry report about why India lost the war remains a top secret. India’s traditional policy has been not to build any offensive military formations along the China border, fearing it might provoke Beijing.
Two shepherds mistakenly cross over to India from PoK; sent back by Indian Army
 Two shepherds from Pakistan occupied Kashmir, who had inadvertently come over to this side of the Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday, were sent back to their native country by the Indian army on Wednesday.

Identifying duo as Mohammad Shabir and Moulvi Said, a defence ministry spokesman Lt Colonel Maneesh Mehta said that they were handed over to Pakistani army at Chakkan Da Bagh in Poonch this afternoon. They had come over to the Indian side through the LoC in Keri sector of Rajouri district on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked firing from small and automatic weapons on Indian positions in KG sector along the LoC in Poonch district last night. Pointing out that the Indian side too retaliated, the spokesman said that the exchange of fire between two sides continued from 2305 hrs to 2310 hrs. However, there was no damage or injury on the Indian side.

Since the beginning of current month, there has been sudden increase in incidents of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts from across the LoC. Only recently, one army jawan was killed and two others injured following attack on a patrol party by Pakistan’s Border Action Team near the LoC in Pallanwalla area of Akhnoor.
Indian, Thai Armies Ready To Participate In Joint Exercise

The Thai Army has decided to host the exercise from May 24 despite the ongoing political crisis in their country. On Tuesday, the Thai armed forces announced that the country was under martial law, saying that the military has taken the step in order to “restore peace and order”. A senior spokesperson of the Thai Army clarified the action, saying that ‘it is definitely not a coup” and the forces have made the move in order to allow Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister now living in exile, and the opposition, led by Suthep Thaugsuban, to sort out their differences. Meanwhile, interim Prime Minister of Thailand Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan has asked the country’s electoral commission to hold a General Election on August 3. Boonsongpaisan also said that he would soon hold talks with Army Chief General Prayut Chan-ocha to end the ongoing crisis. As Thailand waits for the Army chief’s next move, the contingent of 45 Indian soldiers arrived in the country to participate in the joint combat exercise – Maitree – together with the Royal Thai Army from May 24 onwards. Although the Indian government was not interested in sending the contingent because of the worsening situation in the neighbouring country, it was too late for the Indian leadership to cancel the Army’s participation in the exercise that would be held in the Chiang Mai Hills. Talking to the local media in New Delhi on Wednesday, a senior Defence Ministry official said: “The Indian and Thai forces have been exercising regularly together since 2007. Maitree itself means ‘friendship’ both in Hindi and Thai languages. With terrorism being a global problem, many want to learn from the Indian Army’s vast experience in tackling sub-conventional warfare or low-intensity conflict operations.” Meanwhile, defence experts are of the opinion that India, with an eye firmly on China, has decided to step up economic and defence ties with South-east Asian and Asia Pacific countries gradually. As a result, according to experts, New Delhi has allowed the Army contingent to visit Thailand despite the deteriorating political situation there.
V K Singh as defence minister? Veterans queasy
CHANDIGARH: Would a retired army chief make a good defence minister of the country? Finding an answer to this question has sparked off a raging debate among retired defence personnel ever since General (retired) V K Singh won the Lok Sabha election from Ghaziabad with a massive margin of more than five lakh votes.

Many of these men who have shed blood for the country are uncomfortable with Singh becoming defence minister.

"In order to avoid any chance of politicization within the army, I feel that it would be advisable that General V K Singh is not given the defence portfolio," said the former army chief, General V P Malik. He also said that there is professional responsibility and accountability at every level in the army. If Singh is allocated the MOD portfolio, the likelihood of professional interference in the functioning of the army can not be ruled out.

"Being a former army chief, General Singh is well versed with the functioning of the army. His extra 'advice' to the army chief and senior ranking officer can also put unnecessary pressure on them," Malik added.

Singh was recently asked if he was ready to become defence minister. He had said that he was a "disciplined army officer", and now a "disciplined party soldier" and would do whatever the party decided.

Former Army Commander, Western Command, Lt Gen (retd) P N Hoon said that Singh had set a wrong precedent by going to court against the government. "No member of the armed forces was impressed when he gave a statement against the army chief designate, Lt Gen Dalbir Suhag," Hoon said. "BJP should take a decision after considering the facts and circumstances." Hoon is closely associated with the BJP.

Former Commander of the Army's Northern and Central Commands, Lt General (retd) H S Panag called Singh a maverick. "V K Singh had an agenda during his tenure as army chief and also tried to scuttle Lt General Dalbir Suhag's appointment as army next army chief," said Panag.

Former Punjab governor and war veteran, Lt General (retd) J F R Jacob was in favour of inducting Singh "initially" as minister of state (MOS) only in the MOD considering his professional competency. Jacob, however, said, "Gen Singh is wrong about Lt Gen Dalbir Suhag whom I know to be a good potential army chief".
Army sends 23 Sarpanchs, Panchs on edu tour
Jammu, May 21: Army has sent a group of 23 sarpanches, including six women, from remote villages of Ramban district on a 10-day-long tour to Delhi and Rajasthan.
The educational-cum-motivational tour was flagged off yesterday by the Deputy Commander of Rashtriya Rifles from Chanderkot in Ramban district, a defence spokesman said here today.
The group will visit New Delhi, Noida, Udaipur and Ajmer, he said.
The Sarpanches and Panches will get an opportunity to interact with their counterparts and officials of various civic bodies to gain first hand information on the activities being undertaken by the village Panchayats so as to draw similar lessons for themselves.
They will be visiting various self-help groups, NGOs for women empowerment, small scale industries for handicrafts and MSME installations, he said adding that they will also visit Noida University in Noida and Pacific University in Udaipur.
In addition, they will also visit culturally and historically important monuments like Lal Quila, Qutab Minar, Rashtrapati Bhawan at New Delhi, Pichola Lake, Kumbhalgarh Fort at Udaipur and Dargah Sharif, Anasagar Lake, Tara Garh Fort at Ajmer and Bagh-e-Bahu and Dal Lake, he said.
During the impressive flag off ceremony at Chanderkot, the Deputy Commander of Rashtriya Rifles Sector based at Chanderkot, interacted with the Sarpanches and expressed hope that the excursion would leave a memorable impact on their minds and provide them an ideal opportunity to witness the infrastructural development and the secular social fabric of the country.
Sarpanches appeared enthused on the commencement of the excursion and appreciated the role played by the Rashtriya Rifles in motivating them by organising such a trip.
Army chief defers visit to Central Asia to brief new Modi government
 NEW DELHI: Even the country's defence establishment prepares a briefing on military preparedness for the new Narendra Modi government, Army chief General Bikram Singh has deferred his visit to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan next week.

Sources said Gen Singh was scheduled to visit the energy-rich and strategically-located Central Asia from May 26 to 30 but it has now been put on hold in the backdrop of the swearing in of the Modi government on Monday.

The Service chiefs, Gen Singh, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Admiral Robin Dhowan, and defence secretary R K Mathur are all preparing their presentations on the existing military capabilities and operational readiness, threat assessment and counter-terrorism operations in J&K and North-East, for the new PM and defence minister.

The slow progress of the new acquisition projects, ranging from the almost $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) for 126 fighters to Project-75India for six new-generation submarines, are expected to figure high on the agenda.

Similarly, the new political leadership will be briefed on the status of the new mountain strike corps being raised to give India counter-offensive options against China. Gen Singh himself had recently taken stock of the XVII Mountain Strike Corps, which made a small beginning with the raising of 22 major and minor units under its ambit last December.

The entire XVII Corps, with its headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal, will however be fully raised with 90,274 troops at a cost of Rs 64,678 crore only by 2018-2019. With units spread across the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, the corps will have two high-altitude infantry divisions (59 Div at Panagarh and 72 Div at Pathankot) with their integral units, two independent infantry brigades, two armoured brigades and the like, as reported by TOI earlier.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal