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Sunday, 19 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 19 Oct 2014

 Pak Army chief rakes up Kashmir
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

Resolving the Kashmir issue is vital to peace in the region, Pakistan’s Army chief General Raheel Sharif said on Saturday.

Addressing a passing-out parade held at Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, about 100 km northwest from Islamabad, General Sharif said the people of Kashmir should decide their fate as the quest for peace is the nation’s greatest strength.

“Lasting peace in the region will only come about with a fair and just resolution of Kashmir issue in accordance with the will of Kashmiri people, as enshrined in the UN resolution,” said General Sharif. General Sharif also said the armed forces were fully capable of responding to any “external threat”.

“Let there be no doubt that any aggression against our beloved country will get a befitting response; no sacrifice will be too great in this sacred cause,” Sharif emphasised. He said Pakistan desires regional stability and relationship based on equality and mutual respect.

“We persistently seek peace in the region and beyond. This quest for peace is our nation’s greatest strength. We desire regional stability and relationship based on equality and mutual respect,” he said.

On war against terrorism, General Sharif said “Operation Zarb-e-Azb” was not merely an operation but a concept and a resolve and a commitment of the nation.

“The commitment is to cleanse Pakistan of the scourge of terrorism once and for all,” said General Sharif. The Army chief said the displaced people of FATA would return home sooner than expected as all intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies and military operations were playing a commendable role in the operation.
 Indian Mission seeks help to identify those in Pak custody

Islamabad, October 18
Unable to determine the identity of a number of people believed to be Indians in Pakistan's custody, the Indian High Commission here has issued an appeal to people back home to help in their identification.

The Indian High Commission has been informed by the Pakistan government about a number of individuals in their custody and who they believed are Indian nationals.

"The High Commission of India has not been able to establish the national identity of these individuals in the absence of sufficient detail and information of their background and place of permanent residence," according to a High Commission statement.

The High Commission stated that it is keen to establish the antecedents of those in the list who may be Indians. "Members of the public in India, especially those who may have knowledge of any of these persons from past acquaintance, are requested to share details in this regard with the High Commission of India and the Ministry of External Affairs," the High Commission said in its appeal. — PTI
 Army needs 3,200 more officers over 7 years
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 18
As the Army is on an expansion curve, it needs 3,200 additional officers over the next seven years. These young men and, in some cases women, will be over and above the regular annual recruitment carried out annually through the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, and the Officer Training Academies at Gaya and Chennai.

These young officers are needed to fill in the vacancies created by the ongoing force accretion of the Army by way of the upcoming Mountain Strike Corps, the two new mountain divisions and the increased numbers of helicopter pilots needed by the Army.

The requirement of having additional 3,200 officers in batches over the next seven years was discussed at the Army Commanders Conference that ended today at New Delhi, sources said.

These new raisings, or accretions as referred to in military parlance, are currently being manned by drawing officer and men from the existing regiments.

The Mountain Strike Corps will have at least 75,000 men with units littered all across the Himalayas. The two new Divisions —around 40,000 men — are also in their last stage of raising using the existing manpower. The Mountain Strike Corps will have more helicopters, hence pilots are needed.

The Army Commanders were also informed that a shortage of 7,989 officers existed, i.e. 17 per cent of the sanctioned strength. Led by Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, other participants at the conference were Vice Chief Lt Gen Philip Campose, all seven Army Commanders and senior functionaries posted at the headquarters here.

The Army is looking to increase its intake of Short Service Commission officers and make the service attractive for young men who can leave the force when they are between 40 and 42 years of age to be absorbed elsewhere.

In his address on culmination of the Conference, General Suhag said “measures planned to address the issue of shortage in officer cadre would fructify at the earliest”. He advised the top brass on Jammu & Kashmir to “maintain relentless pressure so that terrorists could not carry out any meaningful operations to interrupt the forthcoming elections”.

The conference was informed that almost all of the regional centres of the ECHS, the health scheme for veterans, are functioning. The Northern and Western Commands were praised by the Chief for their exemplary response to the flood disaster in Jammu and Kashmir which witnessed spontaneous mobilisation of Army resources, both manpower and equipment.

The conference also touched upon the issue of management of defence lands. Thousands of acres are under illegal occupation. Directions have been issued to carry out proper documentation in coordination with the state revenue departments and take timely legal recourse when getting land evicted from unauthorised occupation.

Assess security situation, Suhag tells commanders

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag has asked his commanders to “continuously assess” the situation in view of the security transition taking place in the neighbourhood and directed them to maintain relentless pressure on terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure peaceful polls. General Singh expressed satisfaction over the situation in the North-East and stressed upon all stakeholders to be made a part of the conflict resolution mechanism. PTI

Army keeping 24-hr vigil on borders: VK Singh

Hathras (UP): Union Minister VK Singh on Saturday said the Army was maintaining a day-night vigil on the borders and they know to reply with bullet against the bullet. The former Chief of Army Staff General Singh, who is also Minister of State for the North-East region, said Indian soldiers were not afraid of Pakistan. PTI
 Army’s combat vehicle BMP to get more powerful engine
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 18
The Indian Army’s infantry combat vehicle, BMP, which is deployed at key locations across the country, will soon be faster and better equipped to run on all terrains. Engines of the BMPs – abbreviation for the original Soviet/Russian name, Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty — are being replaced with more powerful ones that will allow greater speed and longer endurance on all sorts of terrain. It will have automatic transmission with the ability to shut down the engines in case of a nuclear chemical attack.

The Army has several mechanised infantry units operating some 3,200 BMPs. The combat vehicle has tracks like a tank to run it and weighs just 13 tonnes. Like a tank, it can wade through water. Each one of it can carry about 18 soldiers cross country.

The Army had issued a request for proposal earlier this month to Indian engine-producing companies that can use their own expertise or their foreign collaborators to supply the engines.

At present, the BMPs run on UTD-20 engines of Soviet Union/Russian parentage which produce 285 hp and have manual transmission. The plan is to have “a new indigenous electronically controlled minimum 400 hp engine along with automatic transmission”, said the proposal.

The existing engine is inadequate for cross-country mobility, floatation and steep gradients. The new engine with greater power and modern technology aiding better thrust is expected to make BMPs more efficient.

The 512 Army Base Workshop, Kirkee, Pune will be the venue for fitting the new engines. The Army is looking for an engine that would start with ease in extremely cold high-altitude areas and in the desert heat where temperature can go up to 55°C.

The Army is also looking at speed in changing faulty engines – time is a scarce commodity in war. It has laid down the criteria for companies: the MTTR (mean time to replace) the engine should preferably be approximately five hours by a crew of four technicians.

For quicker service maintenance, a key factor will be easy accessibility to air, fuel, transmission and engine oil filters, injectors, cooling fan and coolant and oils.

Focus on ‘make in India’

    The Army has issued a request for proposal to Indian engine-producing companies that can use their own expertise or their foreign collaborators to supply the engines for nearly 3,200 BMPs (in pic)
    The plan is to have a new indigenous electronically controlled minimum 400 hp engine along with automatic transmission for cross-country mobility, floatation and steep gradients
Why Pakistan upped the ante on the border
Raj Chengappa

The Pakistan Army and the government are working in consonance to disrupt the forthcoming J&K elections to discredit India internationally. Modi’s big test lies in handling the latest Kashmir crisis, putting it above political interests of the BJP in the state.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart to his swearing-in ceremony this May and Nawaz Sharif accepted the invitation, it was hailed as an act of statesmanship. With the governments they headed enjoying a majority in their respective Parliaments there were expectations of a significant upturn in India-Pakistan relations.

That hope gathered momentum when it was agreed to resume the dialogue process with Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh to travel to Islamabad to meet Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry in August. But that initiative was soon shot to pieces when India cancelled the visit after it complained that Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had crossed the red line by holding talks with Kashmir separatists despite requests not to do so.

Since then everything has gone downhill and relations between the two touched another low this month, with heavy fire being exchanged daily, both on the LoC and the International Border, killing civilians on both sides. As of yesterday, India claimed that nine of its civilians had died while Islamabad maintained that 12 Pakistani civilians had been killed.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz upped the ante by requesting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to intervene, accusing India of “deliberate and unprovoked violations of the ceasefire agreement and cross-border agreement”. Aziz also sought the support of the UN Security Council on this issue. In September, Sharif in his address to the UN General Assembly devoted several minutes talking on Kashmir and even raised the issue of implementing the 1948 UN Resolution for holding a Plebiscite in Kashmir — the first time in recent years that a Pakistan PM has done so.

Not be outdone the opposition Peoples Party of Pakistan (PPP) went even shriller with its chief, the young Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, stating, “I will take back Kashmir, all of it… as it belongs to Pakistan.” Yesterday Pakistan Army Chief Raheel Sharif joined the war of words. While addressing a passing-out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul he said, “Lasting peace in the region will only come about with a fair and just resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the will of Kashmiri people, enshrined in the UN Resolution.”

On India’s part, the Modi government’s stand on Pakistan has toughened since August. On ceasefire violations, India’s armed forces have been told to hit back and send a clear message to Pakistan that such “adventurism”, as Defence Minister Arun Jaitley termed it, would not be tolerated. Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs has dismissed Pakistan’s plea to the UN as futile and advised them to talk directly to Delhi instead of heading to New York.

With both India and Pakistan taking maximalist stands and border firing continuing there appears little hope of a thaw. So what’s driving the new aggressive posture? There are several reasons, some of them obvious. With the recent internal political turmoil weakening Sharif’s position vis-à-vis the Pakistan Army, he is forced to abandon his conciliatory approach towards India, and close ranks with it for a tough approach on Kashmir.

The Pakistan Army’s compulsion appears to be that while it launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb (sharp and cutting strike) in June to neutralise terrorists groups inimical to Islamabad in North Waziristan, including the Pakistan Taliban, Afghan militants and Al-Qaeda, putting Kashmir on the front burner helps it in two ways. It keeps the ISI-supported militant groups targeting India happy and also is an excuse for the Army to tell the US that it cannot commit more forces on its Afghanistan border as Kashmir has become hot again.

The main reason though for Pakistan raising the temperature on the Indian border appears to be the upcoming Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistan Army and the government seem to be working in consonance on this. Increased firing on the border indicates that the ISI is trying to slip in as many militants as possible to disrupt the elections before winter sets in and the passes close.

To ensure a low voter turnout, apart from the Hurriyat calling for a boycott, violence is likely to be stepped up in the Valley. By restating its Plebiscite demand and taking it to the UN, Pakistan hopes to bring the international spotlight back on Kashmir. If there is a low voter turn-out in the Valley, Pakistan will use it to prove that India’s stance on Kashmir lacks credibility.

The Modi government faces a dilemma. It has been pushing hard for the BJP to win the Assembly elections and there is even talk of anointing a Hindu chief minister in the state. So the Central government needs to maintain a tough stance with Pakistan to rally its supporters. At the same time, it has to ensure that the votes are not so polarised that the Muslim majority in the Valley opts either for the National Conference or the Peoples Democratic Party or, worse, boycotts the elections in substantial numbers. How the Prime Minister steers India through the current crisis in Jammu and Kashmir will be a litmus test of his leadership.
Maintain pressure on terrorists for peaceful Kashmir polls: Indian Army chief
New Delhi: Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Saturday advised his commanders to "maintain relentless pressure" on terrorists to ensure the peaceful conduct of assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking at the culmination of the Army Commander's Conference, parts of which were made available to the media, he stressed on the need to "maintain relentless pressure on the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir so they cannot disrupt the forthcoming elections".

He also expressed satisfaction on the situation in the northeast and stressed on all stakeholders to be made part of the conflict-resolution mechanism.

On external security concerns, Dalbir Singh advised the commanders to "continuously assess the situation in the sub-continent with respect to the force and security transition taking place and its resultant effect on the national security".

The army chief also complemented the Northern and Western Commands for their response to the Jammu and Kashmir flood disaster.

"He lauded the selfless commitment of the Indian soldiers involved in the relief and rescue efforts," Army officials quoted the general.

He also said that army's modernisation programme is getting full support from the defence ministry. He also expressed hope the measures being planned to address the issue of shortage in officer cadre would fructify at the earliest.
China-India Military Confrontation: Strategic Reality Check – Analysis
China and India are in a state of military confrontation and it is no use for the Indian political leadership and the policy establishment to pretend that it is otherwise. How do you describe relations between China and India when both nations are virtually in a state of eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation on the entire stretch of the India-China Occupied Tibet border on the icy Himalayan heights? How do you describe the China-India security environment when China obsessively perpetuates and refuses to make any efforts to resolve the boundary dispute and on the contrary in recent years is intent on provocative brinkmanship by generating border incidents and confrontations which could due to even a slight miscalculation spark off a limited border war if not a full-blown armed conflict?

Can China-India relations be described as normal and peaceful when during the recent State-visit of the Chinese President to New Delhi the Chinese Army under the Chinese President’s control engineered a serious border military stand-off with Indian troops in Eastern Ladakh and which lasted throughout the Chinese President’s visit?

Preposterous enough was a media report appearing on October16 2014 which reported that China had issued a warning to India not to proceed with plans to build a lateral border road connecting both ends of Arunachal Pradesh which is an integral part of the Indian Republic. Is India a tributary state of China whereby China feels empowered to issue ‘diktats’ to the Indian Republic? Is it not high time that the Indian Republic as a sovereign State, advises China at the highest level to back-of and that such warnings would be treated with the contempt that they deserve? Is it not time for the Indian Republic to stand up to China for whatever is the cost?

If China contends that Arunachal Pradesh is a ‘disputed territory’. then by the same token the whole of China Occupied Tibet is a disputed territory as that peaceful and spiritual kingdom was forcibly annexed by China in 1950 and thereafter subjected to a brutal ethnic and religious genocide. China had no borders with India until Tibet was annexed and appeared as China Occupied Tibet. China’s claims to Arunachal Pradesh flow in Chinese logic from its military occupation of Tibet. It is another matter that a global amnesia exists on China’s forcible military occupation of Tibet for the last six decades and more. That does not wish away the fact that Tibet today is China Occupied Tibet.

While China went in for a wholesale massive military build-up including deployment of nuclear missiles and upgradation of military infrastructure in China Occupied Tibet post the 1962 War with India despite the fact that China was not faced with any threat of military aggression from India. The Indian Republic in the Nehruvian tradition was oblivious to the evolving major and long term security threat to India. India continued in a state of denial on the China Threat to India and thereby lowered its guard.  The situation in 2014- end is that China enjoys overwhelming military superiority in China Occupied Tibet which endows it with political and military coercive capabilities against India and resort to military provocations against India on the Himalayan borders.

China stands encouraged to indulge in such provocations against India because of the strategic timidity of India’s leadership over the years which prompted them to adopt weak and appeasement policies towards China. More significantly, the cardinal sin of the political leadership of the Indian Republic over the years has been to underplay or de-emphasise the persisting ’China Threat’ to India. This has carried its own costs in terms of adoption of lackadaisical approaches of the Indian Defence Ministry in preparing the Indian Army or the Indian Air Force or the Indian Navy for a high state of combat readiness to meet the China Threat. Underplaying or de-emphasising the China Threat by the policy establishment has led to a loss of a sense of urgency in India’s bureaucracy for combat preparedness against the China Threat. And, this extends to speedy acquisitions of military hardware or development of strategic defence infrastructure in the border regions.

A strategic reality check is therefore imperative to highlight the ramifications of the China Threat and this therefore needs to be done at the outset. The strategic reality check needs to focus on multiple levels of India’s approaches and readiness to face the China Threat which may erupt at any time going by the contemporaneous reading of events in China, China’s pronouncements and Chinese attitudinal inclinations towards the Indian Republic.

Needless to state is the fact that in view of the demonstrated strategic timidity of the Indian political leadership, the Chinese readings of the 1962 –Syndrome persisting in the psyche of the Indian policy establishment and Chinese arrogance on their military superiority in relation to India, China has nothing but contempt for India. It is tragic and rather pitiable to note as a strategic analyst that India’s policy makers when devising any foreign policy initiatives to offset the China Threat or any accretions to Indian Army military formations to offset Chinese military superiority or operationalising our ICBMs are weighed down by the dominant thought as to what China would think or how China would react.

Strategic reality check in relation to China-India relations and the China Threat is therefore necessary of Indian political leaderships’ record over the years and their efforts in terms of monitoring and oversight control of the combat preparedness of the Indian Armed Forces and the creation of military infrastructure that could add to Indian Army’s or Indian Air Force to prosecute effective and hard-hitting military responses that the China Threat may pose.

Indian political leadership has never paid serious military attention to matters military, which deficiency arises from a lack of requisite strategic culture and the proclivity to leave matters military to be tended by the civil bureaucracy who were even more strategic culture deficient nor inclined to study national security matters in a visionary manner. For these bureaucrats of the Ministry of Defence dealing with India’s military preparedness in relation to the China Threat was one more routine activity of their generalist bureaucratic responses. For the Indian political leadership and their bureaucratic acolytes some strategic realities that  need to be highlighted are outlined below which should awaken a sense of urgency in relation to the China Threat:

    The China Threat is India’s long-term threat and shall persist into the next few decades. Strategic Distrust between China and India is as high as the Himalayas and as deep as the deepest portion of the Indian Ocean. This is a brutal strategic reality that India must live with and craft its strategies accordingly.
    No inducements exist for China to give up its military stranglehold over China Occupied Tibet or comprise its present hold by according autonomy to Tibet. Tibet which lies at the core of China’s hegemonistic strategies in Asia stands already described by China as a Core Issue on which China is ready to go to war to keep it as part of China
    India cannot afford to compromise its stakes in Tibet without forfeiting its aspirations to emerge as one of the leading Asian powers and an emerging global payer
    China cannot ever be expected to dismantle its massive military deployments or military infrastructure in China Occupied Tibet as it imparts China with significant capabilities to keep India tied up within South Asian confines and thereby impeding India’s rise as an emerging global power.

China is militarily breathing down India’s neck on our Northern borders and the decades of neglect especially of the last two decades needs detailed and constant monitoring by India’s new and dynamic Prime Minister. It is going to be a Herculean task but India’s combat readiness against the China Threat needs a crash and fast track plan in terms of   filling up the glaring voids in the military hardware inventories of the Indian Armed Forces. Some additional points which require the Prime Minister’s consideration are outlined below:

    India’s Prime Minister must have regular and institutionalised weekly meetings directly with each of the three Service Chiefs directly to keep themselves abreast with the military situation and Indian combat preparedness and intervene where slippages detrimental to Indian security are propping up.
    The top-most imperative is for India to restructure its Ministry of Defence by staffing it with military professionals and incorporating the military hierarchy directly in the national security decision-making processes.
    India’s Defence Ministers must learn to run the Indian Armed Forces with a small Defence Minister’s Office. If the Prime Minister can run the country with a modest Prime Minister’s Office, there is no logic as to why an over-sized and over-bloated Ministry of Defence civil bureaucracy is required when the Defence Minister can run all the three Services of the Indian Armed Forces through the Services Headquarters.
    DRDO and the Department of Defence Production must come directly under the control of the Prime Minister to ensure fast track indigenisation and production of military hardware within the country.
    India’s borders which are the first point of military provocations and military escalation by China and even Pakistan dictate the imperative that border management, border control and command of all para-military forces and civil police organisations be entrusted to the Indian Army.
    The financial powers of the three Services Chiefs for defence acquisitions are significantly enhanced to order combat equipment emergently required.

The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force  which will have to play a major role in any future conflict will have to revise doctrines and strategies to deal with a superior military threat emanating from China with limited means to start with until such time the political leadership indulges in a fast-track defence build-up and modernisation. While doing so both Services will have to devise contingency plans for a dual threat emanating from a combined China Threat buttressed by Pakistan Army military adventurism in the service of its Chinese masters. The Indian Navy will have to play a major role in the event of a dual China-Pakistan armed conflict against India.

In view of China’s superior combat potential massed in in Tibet and that India’s war preparedness even on a crash basis will take years to materialise, the Indian Army needs to devise strategies and operational doctrines for Asymmetric War against any Chinese military adventurism with special emphasis on a wider use of Special Forces and helicopter-borne military operations.

India’s intelligence set-up is poor in terms of intelligence penetration of Chinese Occupied Tibet and intelligence gathering in China. This is a serious limitation and can significantly affect Indian Armed Forces operations. Similarly India’s counter-intelligence set-up to offset Chinese intelligence penetration of India needs to be bolstered up. Indian intelligence is over-obsessed with Pakistan’s ISI and thereby leaving the field to Chinese intelligence operatives.

Cyber Warfare can be expected to be used as a major weapon by China in the next conflict against India and this requires putting into place integrated strategies and mechanisms in place to counter the Cyber Warfare threat from China.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and if this cardinal principle needs to be honoured then India’s dynamic Prime Minister needs to forcefully inject a sense of urgency and momentum in his governing establishment and especially the Ministry of Defence to get out after their policy paralysis of the last two decades. Accountability needs to be fixed in the Ministry of Defence and heads must roll for reducing India’s war preparedness to an abject low.

The Prime Minister would be aware that the Indian Armed Forces have distinguished themselves in ever war with limited means. In case of China War in1962 it was not the Indian Army that failed but the political leadership, the intelligence agencies and the Ministry of Defence that failed them.  Let not the Indian Republic repeat the 1962 debacle against China which is once again looking forward to “teach a lesson to India” as reports in Chinese military literature suggest.

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