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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 28 Oct 2014

India may sell BrahMos missiles to Vietnam
With focus on defence cooperation, Vietnamese PM Nguyen Tan Dung to meet Modi today
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 27
India may decide to sell supersonic BrahMos missiles to the Vietnamese navy, which may have implications in the disputed waters of the South China.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung today reached New Delhi on a two-day visit here. He will hold talks on a range of issues with Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow.

As India widens its arc of influence, Vietnam has emerged as pillar of New Delhi's 'Look East Policy'. New age missiles, warships and additional training of Navy personnel will be on the agenda during Dung's visit.

The policy entails long-term strategic engagement with countries that are located east of it. If India decides to sell BrahMos missiles to the Vietnamese navy, this could change the dynamics in the disputed waters of the South China Sea where India has interests in freedom of navigation for cargo carrying ships through the waters and oil exploration blocks.

Vietnam is one of the six countries along with China which dispute each other's territorial limits at sea and the matter is pending in the United Nations for a final decision. India, has stated a target of achieving a $100 billon trade with the ASEAN - all located east of India - by 2015 and needs free shipping rights.

Defence equipment supplies and military training are on the agenda tomorrow. India has extended a $100 million (approx Rs 600 crore) line of credit to Vietnam for the purchase of military hardware. This money could go for acquisition of BrahMos missiles and for four off-shore patrol vessels. A few Indian naval warships are equipped with these missiles which are produced under a joint India-Russia venture. A land-fired version has been inducted into the Indian Army while the air-use version is being retro-fitted onto the Sukhoi-30-MKI fighter jets.

Indian Navy for the past three years has been training their Vietnamese counterparts in operating the Russian-origin Kilo-class of submarines which Hanoi has procured from Moscow. Over 500 personnel have been trained and Vietnam wants more. Vietnam has two-of the Kilo class vessels and third is expected to reach there by November and the fleet of six will be completed by next year. Indian Navy also operates the Russian submarine, hence was the ideal trainer for Vietnam. New Delhi could also allow transfer four naval offshore patrol vessels to Vietnam.

Though the $100 million credit line was first announced in 2013, the first hint that India could be open up exports was in June this year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi while on a visit to the Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya said the country should export indigenously made weapons to smaller countries.

There is a prospect of India launching Vietnam's satellites into space and this is among the long-list of items identified as 'expansion of bilateral relations'.
 Avoid complicating boundary issue, China tells India

Beijing, October 27
With India announcing the construction of 54 new border posts in Arunachal Pradesh, China on Monday cautioned India to refrain from taking any action that may “complicate or exaggerate” the boundary issue.

"China's position on China-India boundary question is consistent and clear. We are committed to finding a solution to the boundary question with the Indian side through friendly negotiation as soon as possible and working together to safeguard peace and tranquillity along the border," Chinese foreign ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

"Pending the final settlement of the boundary question, we hope that the Indian side could refrain from taking any action that may complicate or exaggerate the question," Hua said in an e-mail response to a PTI query about 54 new Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force border outposts to be built along the Arunachal Pradesh border.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as southern Tibet.

China's reaction is a trifle different from its reaction on October 15 to the plans announced by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju to build new roads along the boundary from Mago-Thingbu in Tawang to Vijaynagar in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh to match China's infrastructure development.

"There is a dispute about the east part of the China- India border. Before final settlement is reached we hope that India will not take any action that may further complicate the situation," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said earlier while reacting to the road proposal.

"We should jointly safeguard the peace and tranquillity of the border area and create favourable conditions for the final settlement of the border issue," he had said.

Subsequently, officials from India and China held the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) meeting in New Delhi during which the two sides discussed a host of issues relating to the management of the boundary and maintaining of peace and tranquillity along the borders. — PTI
 Army helps small Asian countries combat threats
Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 27
The Army is helping small Asian countries in preparing a “doctrine” to evolve a strategy to combat internal and external threats. A “skeleton” doctrine has been provided to one of the Asian countries to “fill in the gaps” as per its threat perception.

The doctrine branch at the Army Training Command (ARTRAC), which has been preparing various doctrines after consulting all stakeholders for India, was consulted by one such country. Seeking help to prepare the “doctrine”, the ARTRAC had assessed perceived threats to the country.

The doctrine is aimed at combating threats the small Island nations face from terrorists, poachers, marines and climate change.

The ARTRAC teams visited the country on their request in February to assess the situation and circumstances prevailing there and gave it a skeleton doctrine.

The National Defence Forces (NDF) of these countries, primarily responsible for attending to all internal and external security needs, including the protection of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the maintenance of peace and security and the “doctrine”, help in evolving a strategy to defend the country’s security.

Doctrine here refers to method of warfare, which is devised keeping in mind the topography, demography, internal and external threat perception, prevailing strategies and aspirations of the country. The Indian Army, considered one of the best in the world, is also training army men of 20-25 nations at all levels.

PM’s initiative boosted Army’s morale

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to reach out to Jawans has boosted the morale of the Army. Army officers said: “Celebrating Diwali with jawans at Siachen was a rare gesture which has enthused soldiers and is an indication that pending matters will be expedited.” The Army had identified 77 strategic roads, but there was not much progress. But now work on 22 roads had already commenced, while the work on other roads and rail links was being taken up.
 Veterans meet at Chandimandir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 27
The Headquarters Western Command today held an interaction with retired junior commissioned officers and those of other ranks at Chandimandir Military Station. Veterans from the tricity and nearby places such as Ropar, Fatehgarh and Anandpur Saheb attended the programme.

They were addressed by Lt Gen KJ Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, who reiterated the commitment of the Command to look after the interests of the ex-servicemen and widows.

Various issues concerning welfare of veterans were discussed during the interaction. The underlying aim of the event was to provide a concerted push for expeditious mitigation of myriad issues being faced by veteran community post-retirement. Various policies and schemes launched by the Ministry of Defence and state governments for ex-servicemen were also highlighted.

A similar meet for retired officers had been organised last week.
SSB — Experience of a lifetime
Aneet Kanwal Randhawa
An employment-seeking youth knocks all possible doors till he finally makes a cut. At times, the search for new vistas continues even beyond that. Yet all of you who have in this course had a chance to face a selection board for recruitment to defence forces would agree with me about how holistic the entire process is — a process, in which every aspect of your personality is uncovered with such finesse that any effort on your part to conceal it or portray it differently is made futile.

‘Late bloomer’ as I am often referred to by my friends, the only opportunity left for me to join the Army at my age was the Territorial Army entry which is a three-stage process. I was fortunate to reach the third stage, which was the selection board. I was allotted the selection centre east at Allahabad, where I arrived with all the gusto of a prospective Army officer, hopeful of making the cut.

I had no idea that my being a part of this four-day selection process would be such a value addition. Being a part of the Army fraternity for these days is an experience in itself. The largesse of the Army lies in the fact that every prospective officer is treated as good as an officer. You are offered a sumptuous meal and a comfortable lodging, something which is unthinkable in any other recruitment process.

A typical day with a selection board starts early. At 4.30 a.m. when you are in deep slumber, you are suddenly woken by the washer man’s call, asking for your laundry, in an astounding pitch to scare the hell out of you. You miss him and your evenings are ruined washing your laundry. You report for your breakfast at 5.30 a.m. in the dress code specified for the day. At 6 you report for the day's grilling sans your watch. When you are done with your day's tasks, to your utter surprise, it is barely 11 a.m. Quite a lesson in effective time management, I must say.

PPDT, SRT, WAT, PGT, IO etc. may be quite a familiar terminology for those who have faced a selection board at some point of their life. Yet, for the benefit of others I would like to state that these are various psychological testing techniques adopted by the selection boards. The dexterity with which the group task officers and psychologists check your perceptions, reactions to crisis situations, behaviour in groups and personality conflicts is amazing. The selection process reaches its summit with the interview, which is a virtual CT scan of your personality.

Yet the most memorable task which I executed was the individual obstacle task. And to add to the fun, it was held in the midst of torrential rain. 'Tiger leap' was the most interesting obstacle in which from a raised platform I had to take a leap akin to a tiger’s leap and cling on to a hanging rope and come down. Soon I found myself huffing and puffing and being unable to complete all the tasks in the specified time, yet having a sense of satisfaction over the fine display of perseverance.

In the final conference, when results are to be announced, you are counselled to be prepared for any eventuality. You are told that how great achievers like Amitabh Bachchan and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam came out unsuccessful from selection boards. Indeed, a great gesture.

You come out of the selection board as a transformed individual. You are able to appreciate the synergy of a group. You have a better sense of national integration. And finally, you have bonds to cherish for a lifetime. A must go for all, at least once, not for success or failure, but for the experience it offers.
Defence equipment need indigenisation
If the national aim to make India a design, manufacture and export hub is to be met, the Department of Defence Production needs to be made a separate entity under a cabinet minister with indigenisation and modernisation of the existing manufacturing units
Davinder Kumar and Gurmeet Kanwal
Soon after approving 49 percent FDI in the defence sector, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi exhorted the nation to create a viable “defence industrial base” in India with “indigenisation” as the mission. He launched a “make in India” drive and expressed his government’s intention to permit defence exports.

The long-pending Request for Proposal (RFP) for light helicopters was cancelled by the government and the Defence Minister directed that the helicopters be manufactured in India with appropriate technical collaboration. Now, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has granted industrial licences to 19 private sector proposals and declared that 14 other pending proposals do not need clearance as the manufacture of a large number of defence items has been de-licensed.

All of these are bold steps which send a powerful message and indicate that the much needed “political will” for self-reliance in defence manufacture is no longer lacking. Its translation into action will involve the transformation of the policy framework andprocedures to help indigenous defence manufacturers to flourish.

Historically, despite the fact that India participated in both the World Wars and lost over a quarter million soldiers, the country was denied a viable defence industrial base by our erstwhile rulers. Sadly, we have not been able to improve the situation even 67 years after independence. Our 39 ordnance factories are still designed mainly to manufacture only low-end items like clothing, tents, accoutrements and small arms ammunition.

The situation with regard to our nine Defence PSUs is also not very encouraging considering the huge investments made by the nation. Fifty plus DRDO laboratories also do not inspire much confidence when it comes to the development of weapons technology, its engineering into production and system integration. This situation must change, but where have we gone wrong and what do we need to do?

Successive governments since 2001 appointed high-powered committees headed by eminent persons to make recommendations, with regard to organisational transformation, in-house development of technology and related reforms to involve the private sector in defence production on equal terms. Seven committees have submitted their reports since then. Unfortunately, even the common recommendations made by them have not been implemented. This is primarily due to the lack of political will, bureaucratic lethargy and inadequate public scrutiny.

National security has been treated as a holy cow on the plea of the need for secrecy and the “people” have not been involved in decision making. In a democracy, people’s participation is necessary to justify the budget and establish accountability. We need to build “national security awareness” among the people and create the requisite environment for meaningful interaction between decision makers, manufacturers and the people. Secrecy cannot be an excuse to hide lack of accountability, slippages in the production schedules and escalation of cost. People need to know where and how their money is being spent and be reassured that it would ensure both human security and national security.

Institutions like the Standing Committee for Defence in Parliament require transformation. India must study the Chinese concepts of “leap frogging” of technology across several generations and “civilianisation” to exploit dual use technology. We will have to modify these concepts to suit our conditions and set up a viable defence industrial base by the end of this decade. Those who exclusively promote imports should be guarded against.

The Department of Defence Production must be made a separate entity under a cabinet minister with indigenisation and modernisation of existing R&D and the manufacturing assets as its primary responsibilities. The three Services and the private sector must be integrated with this Department with appropriate representation. The DRDO, suitably reorganised, should also be part of this organisation. The Scientific Advisers to the three Chiefs must be made more accountable. The Army and the Air Force must have integral design and development organisations like the Navy’s Weapons Engineering Electronics Systems Establishment (WEESE).

It would be beneficial to establish a Defence Technology Mission (DTM) and a Project Implementation Agency (PIA). The DTM must develop and hunt for technology in consonance with the concepts of “leap frogging” and “civilianisation” of dual-use technologies and should be placed under the PMO. The PIA should report to the Defence Minister and ensure “on time” execution of all projects without cost overrun. A separate Class A service needs to be raised as a Defence Technology cadre for the MoD and our embassies and missions. It should have linkages with major academic and R&D institutions in the country and abroad.

India needs to follow a multilateral approach for technology development that has synergies with our “centres of excellence”. We need to work concurrently on local R&D, technology transfer to include “know why”, co-development and co-production, reverse engineering, exports and harnessing of dual-use technology. We need to encourage innovation and establish “technology incubators”, particularly in information and communication technology (ICT) and cyber domains.

While the PM has displayed the necessary political will for indigenisation and establishment of an advanced manufacturing base in the country, the challenge lies in its comprehensive implementation. That requires an enabling policy framework, focus, commitment, pride and a never say die spirit.

A National Security and Strategic Review should be regularly presented in Parliament prior to discussions on the defence budget, just like the Annual Economic Survey is released before the presentation of the Finance Bill.

The PM and the CCS should be briefed every quarter on the status of indigenisation, technology and infrastructure by the Defence and Home secretaries. These briefings should be attended by the three Chiefs and the CDS when appointed.

In the beginning of each financial year, the government must bring out a comprehensive White Paper on national security to include security environment scan, budget, technology, state of major projects, development of human resources, major acquisitions and technology absorption and progress on infrastructure projects.

We need to demonstrate the same resolve, unity, sacrifice and sense of purpose that we exhibited during our freedom struggle and launch a movement for the development of “swadeshi” technology to build the India of our dreams: self-reliant, strong, prosperous and peaceful.
‘Major Saab’ suffers rank indifference
The Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW), in its true bureaucratic lack of empathy and common sense has created more confusion and heart-burn for senior ex-servicemen
Vijay Oberoi

Many veteran majors continue to be treated shoddily by our government, as manifested by the policies issued by a department of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), ironically named the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW)! This department has the dubious distinction of doing zilch for the veterans, since it was carved out from the MoD and placed under a secretary level bureaucrat.

Although this piece talks of only ‘majors’, it is equally applicable to the equivalent ranks in the navy (lieutenant commander) and the air force (squadron leader).

The rank of ‘major’ has always been a pivotal rank in the army. Earlier, an officer reached the substantive rank of ‘major’ after 13 years of tough service in various locations and climates. Now, after a change in policy, officers are promoted to the rank of major after only six years service and the erstwhile major’s rank has now been upgraded to that of lt-col.

As youngsters, we used to look forward to the rank of ‘major’, as one was then considered mature, senior and experienced to command a sub-unit, i.e. company/ squadron/ battery. These were the appointments that were the work-horse of the army in all facets of functioning; whether in operations, intelligence, training, logistics or administration. Majors also held important appointments as staff officers, instructors or other specified appointments. With the rank, one also earned the privilege of being called a ‘field officer’, which gave two immediate benefits. Firstly, one became entitled to a full salute at the Quarter Guard or by any other sentry on duty. Secondly, one earned the honour of wearing spurs on one’s half-wellington boots, while donning the formal summer or winter Mess dresses, in some regiments like mine.

The major change in the fortunes of ‘majors’ came when a policy decision was taken in the late 1980’s that henceforth the first selection grade rank would be lieutenant colonel (lt-col), instead of major. This resulted in captains becoming majors after completing six years service and majors becoming lt. cols after 13 years of service. Thereafter, selection ranks would commence. The positive effect of this new policy was that those who were not selected at the first selection stage would at least retire in the higher rank of lt -col, instead of a major and would get higher pension. While this was a welcome development, the MoD forgot to give this largesse to those majors who had already retired.

In a classic case of bureaucratese, while serving majors became lt- cols on reaching the stipulated 13 years of service and drew enhanced pay and allowances, the majors who had already retired after completing their stipulated years of service were denied the pension of lt-cols. When manpower policies are changed, as in this case, for meeting the aspirations of a particular group of personnel, as well as for better management of the cadre, it is incumbent on the government to ensure that all past cases get placed in the same category and draw the same emoluments as their counterparts who were upgraded to a higher rank.

In this case, all retired majors should have automatically been given the pension of lt-cols, even though the higher rank could not be conferred on them. Instead of doing so, the MoD adopted the bureaucratic way of simply ignoring the large number of veteran majors, depriving them of their legitimate emoluments. MoD forgot that there was no difference between those who went home as majors on superannuation and those who were in service on that date and were promoted as lt-cols; in terms of years of service, professional expertise, exposure to dangers of losing life or limb, and all hardships associated with serving in inhospitable/uncongenial areas and climates.

After the 5th Pay Commission recommendations were accepted, the MoD did make amends by issuing a letter dated 21 November, 1997, that stated that officers who became substantive majors on or after 01 January, 1996, would be granted the scale of lt-col, without increase in the rank. However, similarly placed substantive majors who had retired prior to the magic date of 01 January,1996, would not be eligible for this largesse! The predictable result was that one more category was created, whereby some veteran majors started receiving pay and consequently pension of lt-cols, while the older lot whose needs and requirements were obviously more, were left in the lurch. This was yet another case of creating categories within categories; which the bureaucrats seem to enjoy doing, possibly to confuse everyone.

The initial blame for the distress caused to all veteran majors must be borne by the service headquarters. At the time of the policy change, the service headquarters, on whom all ranks — serving or retired — look up to for ensuring that their welfare and concerns are fully met, failed in their duty and the veteran majors were left high and dry. However, the major part of the blame must go to the MoD and specifically to DESW, for it is their responsibility to ensure that no military person gets an unfair deal.

It will be a monumental shame if these forgotten warriors of yore go to their ‘happy hunting grounds’ carrying a grudge against the system.
Indian Army celebrates 65th Infantry Day in Jammu and Kashmir
Amid reversal of arms and sounding of bugles at war memorials across Jammu and Kashmir, the Army on Monday celebrated its 65th Infantry Day with traditional solemnity and gaiety.

In the honour of martyrs of the Infantry, Chief of Staff of Northern Command Lt Gen HJS Sachdev laid wreath on the 'Dhruva Shahid Smarak' in Udhampur-based Northern Command Headquarters. "The Indian Army celebrated 65th Infantry Day with traditional solemnity and gaiety today," a Defence spokesman said.

The highlight of the function was the solemn wreath laying marked by reversal of arms and sounding of bugles at the Ashwamedh Shaurya Sthal and Tiger War Memorial. "Veterans, serving Officers and men alike paid homage to all the brave soldiers of the country who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty," the spokesman said. The day was celebrated in a most traditional and solemn manner at Jammu and Nagrota Garrison, he said, adding that similar memorial services were held across the state.

Major Gen Dushyant Singh laid the wreath at the newly- renovated Tiger War Memorial in Satwari and Brigadier NK Airy, the senior most Infantry Officer in the absence of General Officer Commanding (GOC), White Knight Corps, Lt Gen KH Singh laid the wreath on his behalf at the Ashwamedh Shaurya Sthal at Nagrota.

October 27 is celebrated as Infantry Day by the Army as it was on this day in 1947 that a Company of Infantry of the First Battalion of the Sikh Regiment was airlifted from Delhi to Srinagar, to liberate Kashmir from the invading tribals supported by the Pakistan Army, the spokesman said.

This action was ordered by then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru after Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession, acceding his kingdom 'Jammu and Kashmir' to independent India. Another significance is that it was on this day in 1947 that India as an independent nation was for the first time engaged in operations against an aggressor.

Infantry, the largest fighting arm and also known as the "Queen of the Battle," is the backbone of the Army and its soldiers bear the main brunt in any battle. Physical fitness, aggression and discipline are the basic qualities required in these men. The Infantry units of Army have been modernised, equipped and trained to make the Indian Army amongst the best in the world, the spokesman said.
Twin threats of China and Pakistan: Decoding PM Modi’s $13 billion defence push
The Narendra Modi government has cleared new defence projects worth Rs 80,000 crore (a little over $13 billion). Who are these new defence projects aimed at?

The obvious answer is China and Pakistan. But will China risk another war with India, non-winnable this time, at a time it has greater strategic sweepstakes elsewhere like the South China Sea? Probably yes, and probably not!
“Probably yes” -- because China is the most potent threat to India and the Indians are nowhere at par with the Chinese in terms of military capabilities. If China has to wage a winnable war against India, the option for the Chinese is fast closing. Though in today’s scenario, a full-scale war is unthinkable, and that too between two nuclear armed powers, if China has any ambitions of seizing Indian territory through military means, it will have to move fast. The longer China waits, the lesser will be its chances of winning a war because of the counter military measures being taken by India, slowly but comprehensively.

“Probably not” – because China does not have to really a fight a war with India if it can extend its military umbrella to Pakistan and see the fireworks in the Indo-Pak battlefield without putting its own military boots on the ground. In other words, China can “manage” India by encouraging a situation where the familiar South Asian enemies get into a war, or a near-war, situation.

The Indian government has been well aware of this twin threat for decades and has been trying its best to get a shade better of this pincer military situation.

This is the perspective from which one must view the Modi government’s push to modernize its defence capabilities and preparedness. The Modi government’s decisions are aimed at beefing up the Indian navy and army in a big way, with a deep focus on bolstering the Indian Navy, particularly in the field of submarines.

The newly-cleared Indian defence projects are aimed at plugging the gaping loopholes in the submarine sector. These include acquisition of six conventional submarines for augmenting the aging and depleted submarine fleet and two midget submarines, used for special operations. The Indian focus is on “Make in India,” PM Modi’s pet scheme, and indigenization and self-reliance.

This is a major give-away of Indian tactics. Indian Navy gave a stellar performance in the 1971 War with Pakistan and proved to be a game-changer by blockading and throttling Pakistan’s main commercial artery – Karachi. The Indian Navy (IN) did not have to do much military combat and its mere presence around the enemy’s throat did the wonders.

Though the IN is presently not in a very healthy state, particularly because of its vastly depleted submarine strength, even in its current situation it is more than a match for Pakistan Navy.

Therefore, the IN is being bolstered with an eye on the bigger enemy China, rather than Pakistan.

If India continues with its defence push over the next decade or so, it is sure that China won’t be in a position to even think of embarking on another 1962-type military misadventure. Even now the Indian armed forces are no push over for the Chinese but by 2025, India’s defence capabilities would be several notches higher.

It is in this context that the new defence projects cleared by the Modi government on 25 October assume significance.

The Modi government’s next logical step should be to ensure that the China-specific mountain strike corps is made fully operational at the earliest.

In other words, if no India-China war takes place by 2025 the chances are that such a war will never take place as the Indians would have covered a lot of ground vis a vis the Chinese by then.

If India has to be most careful and vigilant about the China threat, it is now. Therefore, all new Indian defence projects must have minimum gestation period and the weapons promised in such projects must be delivered to the Indian armed forces in the shortest possible time span.

Last year on 8 July the state-owned Chinese daily Wenweipo had published an article with a sensational title “Six Wars China is Sure to Fight in the Next 50 Years”. According to this widely talked about article, China’s third war would be against India over Arunachal Pradesh (“Southern Tibet” for the Chinese) which will be fought sometime between 2035-40.

But that seems to be a midsummer night dream of the author as India would be completely at par with China, if not ahead, at that time.

It is now, not a decade or two later, that India has to fear China. The Modi government’s decisions on new $13 billion new defence projects must be welcomed in this context.

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