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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

From Today's Papers - 12 Nov 2014

Service Chiefs brief Defence Minister, list requirements
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 11
The Indian Armed Forces — the Army, the Navy and the IAF — today gave Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar an overview of their war preparedness besides listing their immediate requirements, especially shortage of fighter jets, artillery guns and submarines.

The Army has not inducted a new artillery gun since 1987 when the Bofors was drafted into the arsenal; no new submarine, other than a nuclear vessel leased from Russia, has been inducted in 15 years; while the fighter jet numbers are dwindling and a decision is pending on inducting a new lot of planes to maintain air supremacy.

Parrikar was briefed by top ministry officials as well as the three Service Chiefs on acquisition proposals and processes, besides requirements at the boundary, including that with China.

The Defence Minister was given an understanding on the dynamics of the Line of Actual Control work and how patrolling was done.

Defence Secretary RK Mathur gave the first detailed briefing to the new minister, who took charge yesterday. During the two-hour briefing, Parrikar was given an overview of the structures and functions of various departments under the ministry.

The minister, who arrived at 8.30 am, was also given a briefing on the acquisition process, ministry sources said, adding that specific projects were not discussed in detail. Parrikar had yesterday stressed that the acquisition process under him would be transparent but fast.

The defence acquisition process had slowed down and defence deals were often seen to be mired in corruption.

The briefing by the Defence Secretary was followed by that of the Army which took place inside the Military Operation room in the South Block.

During this briefing, where Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag was also present, Parrikar was given an overall view of the force’s operation, requirements and issues at the boundary, the sources said.

In the Naval Operation room, Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan briefed Parrikar on overseas deployment and Navy’s efforts in the Indian Ocean and the outreach in South China Sea.

What Armed Forces need

* The Service Chiefs spelled out their requirements, especially shortage of fighter jets, artillery guns and submarines

* The Army has not inducted a new artillery gun since Bofors in 1987

* No new submarine, other than a nuclear vessel leased from Russia, has been inducted in 15 years

*           Dwindling numbers of fighter jets is a cause for concern for the IAF.
 Another ceasefire violation in Uri sector
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 11
Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir’s Uri sector today. This happens to be the second such incident since Saturday evening. India is likely to propose holding of a flag meet to de-escalate tension.

The Army said Pakistani troops initially targeted three Indian posts with small arms around 8.05 am at Chhota Qazinag in the Kamalokote area of Uri sector, some 120 km from here, and later fired mortar shells for many hours.

“The unprovoked firing continued till 1.30 pm and was appropriately responded to,” an Army spokesman said. “There has been no report of any casualty,” he said. Defence sources said the Pakistani troops also fired 82-mm mortar shells on Tuesday.

The Uri sector is witnessing tension along the LoC since Saturday. Today’s ceasefire violation took place in the same area where a 17-year-old girl and a soldier were killed when Pakistani troops fired on Indian posts and a village on Saturday.

The Army authorities today conveyed to Pakistan troops at Kaman post in Uri that frequent ceasefire violations could escalate tension. “We are proposing to have a flag meeting of local commanders at Kaman to de-escalate the tension,” defence sources said.

The area where the exchange of fire took place is manned by troops of 12 Infantry Brigade, which is under the control of Baramulla-based 19 Infantry Division.
 Naval mishap: Family awaits diver’s return
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 11
Despite a slim chance of survival of four Navy personnel who went missing after a torpedo recovery vessel (TRV) A-72 sunk off the Visakhapatnam coast on November 6 evening, family of one of the missing personnel, Gurjeet Singh (24), here has not given up the hope yet.

"A Navy Captain visited us yesterday and told us that the search for the missing personnel was still on. There is no clue whatsoever about my son. We fail to understand what is going on exactly," said 56-year-old Rajinder Singh of the Chatha area on the outskirts of Jammu city.

He said his son, a diver, was rescuing others onboard the ill-fated vessel. "Gurjeet joined the Navy five years ago at the age of 19. All of us including his mother Mahinder Kour, his two sisters and a younger brother have not given up the hope. We desperately want him back," he added.

Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan yesterday said the chances of finding the missing personnel looked grim.

"My son was among the rescuers, who risked his life and saved others, but now he is missing. We appeal to the Union Government to expedite the search operations and get our son back," he said.

On November 5 around 10.15 pm, Gurjeet called his family at Chatha and enquired about the well-being of every family member. "He talked to everyone. We had never dreamt that such a tragedy would happen," he said.azGurjeet's younger brother Ramandeep Singh, 22, works as a police constable and is posted in Reasi district police lines.
Reforming Indian Railways and Revamping India's Defence - All Eyes would be on Parrikar & Prabhu

The dust having settled down it is time for some finer analysis. The much awaited ministry expansion is finally over with Narendra Modi Government having added 21 more ministers into his ministry. Several factors including that of giving due importance to key states like Bihar and UP, which have contributed a significant chunk of MPs to BJP in Lok Sabha, and are slated for elections in the next couple of years, have been taken into account during the ministerial expansion. Further, issues of caste representation as well as inducting those who are known for their professional acumen have also been taken care of. In other words, the ministry expansion was an extremely calibrated and well thought out process of the Modi Government. However, in the hindsight, after the photo-ops being over, it is time to analyze the key takeaways from this expansion. No doubt that some of the ministerial berths are for political considerations but at the same time there are at least some inductions which are primarily meant for massive transformations or rather metamorphosis in certain areas that Modi has planned for. Why Manohar Parrikar and Suresh Prabhu Stand Out.... Two such names which stand out in this ministerial expansion and on whom much of the focus would be in the times to come are Manohar Parrikar and Suresh Prabhu. The Goa Chief Minister was literally airlifted from Goa and was installed as the new Defence Minister of India while Suresh Prabhu, a Shiv Sena veteran simply resigned from the party and took a BJP membership when his erstwhile party was dilly dallying about permitting him to get into the Modi Government. Over the last few months when Arun Jaitley was holding the defence portfolio in addition to the crucial Finance Ministry, he had set the ball rolling by clearing some major defence deals and by bringing clarity through cancellation of some projects and making it clear that most critical defence projects would now be run through the ‘Make in India' program instead of outright procurement from abroad. However even while he sanctioned some crucial defence projects through the Defence Acquisition Council meets, there was always a need for a full time Defence Minister primarily because clearing major deals like that of the $20 billion MMRCA or that of other critical deals of Army and Navy would require more attention. Apart from Clearing Projects, Parrikar would be expected to change the culture of Defence Ministry The real task in hand for Parriker would not just be to speed up the sanctioning and clearing of long pending and critical defence projects but also to streamline the decision making process in India's Defence Ministry which is perhaps one of the slowest and most bureaucratic not just by global standards but also by Indian standards. The entire approach of the Defence Ministry towards the Armed Forces needs a sea change and a sense of urgency needs to be inculcated among the babus of Defence Ministry . The culture of delaying crucial deals inordinately has to change and there has to be accountability of the Defence Ministry and its babus when it comes to such delays of not just critical equipment but even of spare parts, which sometimes become fatal for Armed Forces. Had it not been for the eternal delays in procuring of new batteries for submarines and had the Navy not been forced to use batteries past their life cycle, the fatal accident in the INS Sindhurakshak would not have happened and so many sailors along with the submarine would not have been lost. There is also a similar need to revamp India's large number of Defence PSUs and Ordnance Factories and their style of functioning. Decades of government dole-outs and assured business have completely taken the concept of innovation and competitiveness out of their lexicon. Simultaneously, it is time for India take advantage of the capabilities of its private sector and inspire the creation of a defence industrial be with active participation and engagement from the private sector which has proven engineering capabilities. Further, there is also a strong need synchronize the coordination between the Armed Forces and Central Police Forces like BSF and ITBP who do patrolling work in several sensitive areas along the Indo-Pak and Indo-China border. Given the increasing instances of intransigence both by Pakistan and China, the need for greater coordination between Indian Army and the Central police Forces is the need of the day. Railways Need Reforms like Never Before... In the same league, there is also a great deal of expectation from the new Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu. Modi has already outlined his vision for a new age Indian Railways and he needed a professional with proven credentials to take vision forward. While Sadanand Gowda's maiden rail budget was impressive, the fact that he was replaced by Suresh Prabhu may mean that not only Modi wants change in Indian Railways but also want that change to come fast and be brought about in a professional manner. There is no doubt that Indian Railways, in spite of being the backbone of the country's transport system is in dire straits and needs massive revamp not just in terms of its operational efficiency but also in policy to make it more focused in its approach and to create a healthy environment of attracting investments in the sector. If the aviation sector can be opened up to private investments both in airports and in airlines, there is no reason why the same cannot be done in case of railways in the greater interest of commuters. There is also a strong need to corporatize Indian Railways and bring in a more professional approach and accountability in the culture of railways. Both Manohar Parrikar and Suresh Prabhu are known not just for their honestly but also for their professional acumen and for being keen learner. But in case of both, their professional acumen and experience would invariably come in handy to bring in the much needed change that from the Defence Ministry and Indian Railways badly need.
India’s Strategic Vietnam Defense Relations
India’s courtship of Vietnam is now overt. For instance, during the recent visit of the Vietnamese Prime Minster Nguyen Tan Dung, New Delhi not only laid out the red carpet for the visiting Vietnamese leader and the accompanying business delegation of 50 members, it took the decisive step of overtly acknowledging its assistance in modernizing Vietnam’s armed forces, much to the chagrin of China.

Vietnam has its own difficult history with China. It is not surprising, then, that this emerging country is often seen as a linchpin in India’s counter-encirclement and “Look East” policies. As a consequence, New Delhi is actively courting Vietnam with defense-related offers and infrastructure deals.

Providing impetus to these bilateral relations have been a flurry of senior-level official visits to and from Hanoi. The Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong visited India in November 2013, during which eight MoUs were signed, and Vietnam offered India seven oil blocks for exploration. India already had three Vietnamese blocks, in which the state-run ONGC Videsh (OVL) had invested about $360 million.

President Pranab Mukherjee then visited Hanoi in September this year, just ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India, sending a strong message of unity with the Vietnamese. During this visit seven pacts were inked along with a $100 million in credit for defense deals. This could be seen as a tit for tat with the Chinese president’s subsequent visit to Sri Lanka and Maldives; a region that the Chinese have been trying to influence. The Chinese reacted sharply to Mukerjee’s visit by sending a military incursion into Chumar sector on September 15 – the day the deals were signed.

The bilateral bonhomie was again on display during Dung’s recent visit to India. For the first time India openly acknowledged modernizing Vietnam’s armed forces and enhancing its maritime capacity. In addition, India was one of the few countries to continue expanding its energy exploration in South China Sea waters that are claimed by China.

On that occasion Prime Minister Narendra Modi said:

“Our defence cooperation with Vietnam is among our most important ones. India remains committed to the modernization of Vietnam’s defence and security forces. This will include expansion of our training programme, which is already very substantial, joint-exercises and cooperation in defence equipment. We will quickly operationalise the $100 million line of credit that will enable Vietnam [to] acquire new naval vessels from India.”

Given the need to keen an eye on Chinese movements in this volatile region, India is keen to have basing rights in Vietnamese ports such as Na Trang for its naval warships. This would not only help give India a presence in the region, it would also serve as a quid pro quo for the increasingly frequent Chinese forays into the Indian Ocean Rim (IOR). While the forward base in Na Trang has not yet been made available, Indian naval warships are extended special privileges when berthing at any Vietnamese port.

When the Indian warship Airavat was challenged by the People’s Liberation Army Navy in September 2012 while on passage from Vietnam, it reinforced the need for India to enhance maritime cooperation and interoperability with the Vietnamese. That opportunity for developing interoperability has presented itself again, with the Vietnamese having taken delivery of the first of six Russian-made 636 Kilo-class submarines on order.

In the very near future Vietnam will have a fleet of submarines requiring skilled submariners to man these sophisticated platforms. The Indian Navy has stepped in and begun training a large number of Vietnamese sailors in submarine operations and underwater warfare. The ongoing “comprehensive underwater combat operations” training for these Vietnamese sailors is in progress at the Indian Navy’s INS Satavahana (Submarine School) in Visakhapatnam.

The Indian Navy’s experience since the mid 1980s in operating Russian Kilo-class submarines will undoubtedly help in this effort. In the past, India had supplied spare parts for the Russian-origin Petya-class warships and OSA-II class missile boats of the Vietnamese Navy, while from continuing to train its military personnel in information technology and English language skills.

This development is likely to perturb Beijing, and it will also be closely watched by Pakistan. It may prove to be the impetus that prompts China to consider giving Pakistan a nuclear submarine, which would raise the security stakes for India considerably.

Apart from submarine training, India also plans to train Vietnamese Air Force Sukhoi pilots, while Vietnam has also been negotiating to acquire the supersonic anti-ship cruise missile BrahMos, which is built jointly in India with Russia.

This ongoing strategic game of chess underscores the importance of India and Vietnam to each other. While China continues to make inroads into Sri Lanka and other Indian neighbors, India is returning the favor with growing support for Vietnamese capacity building.
Indian defence team meets Sri Lanka army chief
A 20-member military delegation of the Army War College of India is currently visiting Sri Lanka on a familiarization tour, the Sri Lankan Army said.

Led by Brigadier J.S Sandhu, a Directing Staff at Higher Command Wing, Army War College of India, the delegation includes four senior officers.

They called on Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, at the Army Headquarters on Monday, reports the Colombo Page.

Lieutenant General Ratnayake expressed Sri Lanka Army's gratitude for the training opportunities that have been made available to Sri Lankan servicemen in Indian Training Institutes.

"It is the Indian Army that provides more than 80 percent of overseas training opportunities to the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, for which we are grateful," he said.

He added that there are still about 1,000 officers who have not yet received training in India.

Brigadier Sandhu praised the standards of the Sri Lankan Army and told Lt. Gen. Ratnayake that Indian Armed Forces are using Sri Lankan experiences in the warfare in their training modules and other programs.

Brigadier Sandhu assured that the Indian Army would do everything possible to further promote sound relations between both organizations.
A Long To-Do List for Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister
India's new Defence Minister Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar, today walks into an office with a long to-do list waiting on the table.

The 58-year-old metallurgy graduate from IIT, Bombay, has to fix a woefully outdated weapons system and will have to weed out corruption that regularly plagues defence contracts in the country.

India's servicemen face shortages of everything from ammunition to fighter jets and submarines as the country seeks to close the gap with assertive neighbour China, which is arming itself quickly.

The Indian Air Force needs at least 39 squadrons of fighter planes but has only 32, and its chief said recently that the country can't afford any more hold ups of a $22 billion fighter jet deal with French company Dassault Aviation for the supply of 126 Rafale fighters.

The Indian Army needs artillery guns. Desperately. India has not bought artillery guns since 1987. Also, two newly raised Mountain Strike Corps - designed to thwart Chinese advances into India through the Himalayas - need light artillery guns that can be easily moved around in the mountains. Just modernising the artillery will cost an estimated Rs. 30,000 crore.
The Navy requires submarines immediately. It also needs at least a 100 Naval Multi-Role Helicopters and additional Naval Utility Helicopters. Total cost, Rs. 70,000 to 80,000 crore.

Last year, India could afford to spend only about Rs. 86000 crore as capital expenditure. Mr Parrikar, therefore, has to not just prioritise demands, but also convince the Union Cabinet to loosen its purse strings.

The biggest challenge that he faces is fulfilling Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "make in India" dream.

In the last few months, the Defence Ministry has turned down almost all proposals to buy equipment from foreign manufacturers.

New Delhi wants the Indian private sector to acquire technology from foreign companies and set up joint ventures or JVs in India. Foreign manufacturers have also been allowed to own as much as 49 per cent in such JVs.

Former Chairman of Integrated Defence Staff, Admiral Shekhar Sinha says to make it economically viable for foreign weapons manufacturers to invest in India, the country will have to allow them to export from India.

Also, he says, a limit on how much they can invest in the JVs may not be conducive for transfer of critical technology to Indian companies.
Indian Army continues mountain rescue exercise in Shimla
Shimla: The Indian Army on Tuesday continued to conduct a rescue and relief exercise at Shimla's Annandale ground.

The exercise, which began yesterday, is named "Mountain Rescue" and is aimed at preparing civil authorities in case of natural disaster.

The aim of the exercise was to practise evacuation of civilian population from disaster-affected areas in the remote mountains of Himachal Pradesh, an official statement said.

Army Aviation Corps helicopters practised casualty evacuation drills along with the Army Special Forces and regular troops of the Jutogh Battalion, it said yesterday.

Civil administration, fire service department and National Disaster Management Authority personnel also participated.

The recent natural disasters in Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir have amplified the magnitude of such crises.

The Annandale ground has been in the Army's possession since 1941, when World War II was raging.

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