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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 04 Mar 2015

Most copter crashes caused by human error: Parrikar

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today cited human error as the major cause of helicopter accidents in the country. Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha on the death of Army personnel in helicopter accidents, Parrikar said human error had emerged as the main reason for a majority of helicopter accidents in the past 24 years.

Rejecting the use of phrase “flying coffins” to the aging helicopters being flown in the country, he said as many as 63 per cent helicopter accidents were due to human error.

Parrikar said the government was in process of acquiring new choppers and the HAL Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was also manufacturing the attack version of Dhruv helicopter — the advance light aircraft or the ALH — which is called the Rudra MK-IV.

The Rudra MK-IV, the weaponised version of Dhruv (MKIII) helicopter. is fitted with Day and Night Targeting systems and can carry a mix of weapons (70 rockets, anti-tank missiles, air to air missiles and 20 mm turret gun), providing the required capability to search and destroy any targets.

Reassuring members of the performance of the Dhruv helicopters, he said HAL has been asked to set up two depots for spares.

He said the number of accidents (accounting for all the choppers being currently flown by the Armed Forces) which was one per every 10,000 flying hours around 24 years back, was now down to around 0.33 per 10,000 flying hours.

As per the minister during the 1986-1991 period 21 accidents occurred and during the 1991-96 period six. The number of accidents between 1996-2001 period were 13. The number fell to six during the 2001-2006 period but rose again in 2006-2011 period to 11. During the past four years, seven helicopter accidents have taken place, he said.

“If you see, 63 per cent of these accidents have taken place due to human error,” Parrikar said and added that “standard Operating Procedures are constantly reviewed and stringent training norms followed to minimise accidents.”

During the past six months, five army personnel have lost their lives in two helicopter accidents, with the first occurring in October last year and the other last month. “All crashes are investigated by a Court of Inquiry to find out the cause of accidents and to recommend remedial measures to prevent accidents. Remedial measures suggested by the Court of Inquiry are implemented at various levels,” he added.
Ex-serviceman arrested for spying
Photos of key installations in Army areas, maps of Nabha, Sangrur Cantts seized
Tribune News Service

Sangrur/Amritsar, March 3
The State Special Operations Cell (SSOC), a counter-intelligence wing, today arrested an ex-serviceman, Sukhwinder Singh of Dayalgarh in Sangrur, on the charges of spying for Pakistani agencies.

The police claimed to have recovered photographs of vital installations, data related to the movement of Army vehicles and training manuals and handmade maps of restricted defence areas. He was produced in the court, which sent him to six-day police remand.

Employed as a security guard in a private warehouse in Channo village (Sangrur), Sukhwinder was arrested following inputs about his alleged anti-national activities. He had retired as havildar from the 21 Sikh Light Infantry in 2005. Due to his Army background, nobody raised any suspicion _on his activities and, therefore, he had an access to restricted Army areas.

Satish Kansal, counsel for the accused, argued in the court that the charges against Sukhwinder were false and fabricated. A special operations team led by Harvinderpal Singh and Balbir Singh nabbed him from Bhawanigarh in Sangrur.

“Preliminary investigations suggested that he was working for Pakistani agencies for the past more than a year. He was given code name Sharmaji,” said an official. He said Sukhwinder was using an expensive smartphone having a 10 megapixel camera with which he allegedly used to click photos of vital installations, Army movements and special drills, he had prepared maps of Nabha and Sangrur Cantonments by hand.

“He was asked to detail the movement of Army units, construction of new bunkers on the Indian side of the border, take pictures of Army vehicles along with their formation signs and to find out about defence exercises and training in the area,” the official said.

Sukhwinder, booked under the Official Secrets Act and the IPC, was allegedly being paid an average of Rs20,000 per month through hawala. The police are also looking for his hawala links.
US voices concern over China’s land reclamation
South China Sea Row

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3
A top US military commander had expressed concern over China’s reclaims on parts of the contentious South China Sea and termed Beijing’s act as one “causing tension”.

Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr, who heads the Pacific Fleet of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), met Navy Chief Admiral Robin Dhowan here today. Both discussed enhancement of training exchanges and participation of the US Navy in the International Fleet Review being organised by the Indian Navy off Visakhapatnam in February 2016.

The Commander of the Pacific Fleet, which has some sea-borne five aircraft carriers, is also scheduled to visit Naval Air Station, Hansa, Goa.

Addressing the media on China’s growing hegemony in the South China Sea, Admiral Harris said, “Our view is that China’s land reclamation (by filling up the shallow parts of the sea with earth near un-inhabitated islands) is causing tensions in the South China Sea... I think it is an issue of concern for all of us. What China is doing is dramatic land reclamation.”

He said, “We don’t treat the South China Sea as any one’s personal waters, these are international waters.” China often issues statements saying countries (US, India or Japan) which are not party to the dispute should keep away from it.

On being asked if he would want India to operate and deploy in the South China Sea, Admiral Harris said: “Personally, I welcome India if it wants to be there and operates (its warships) freely.”
In South China Sea Row, Top US Commander Roots for India
New Delhi:  Less than two months after the release of the US-India Joint Strategic Vision statement for the Asia-Pacific region during President Barack Obama's visit, one of America's top military commanders has made it clear that China has no right in opposing Indian naval operations in the disputed South China Sea.

Admiral Harry Harris Jr, whose area of responsibility extends to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, said, "The South China seas are international waters and India should be able to operate freely wherever India wants to operate. If that means the South China Sea, then get in there and do that."

In July 2011, when the Indian Navy amphibious warfare ship INS Shardul set course from the Nha Trang military port in south Vietnam towards Haiphong port in north Vietnam to make a friendly visit, she was buzzed on an open radio channel and told by the Chinese Navy, "You are entering Chinese waters. Move out of here." In 2014, China opposed the India-Vietnam agreement which would enable the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to explore oil wells in waters which China claims to administer.

Voicing his concerns on China's regional disputes in the South China Sea, Admiral Harris said, "I view with concern China's land reclamation process. I think it's provocative, and it causes tensions to be raised in the South China Sea and all of the countries in the South China seas. So, I am concerned about it. For all of us who are concerned about freedom of navigation, it behoves us to pay attention to what China is doing in the South China Sea and its dramatic land reclamation. They are, in fact, changing facts on the ground."

Though the US Admiral did note the increased Chinese submarine presence in the Indian Ocean, his primary concern was on safeguarding maritime security and ensuring the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, very much in line with the joint statement released by the US and Indian delegations during President Obama's visit to New Delhi in January.

China, for its part, claims much or all of the South China Sea as its territorial waters. The region contains several islands, reefs and sandbars and is thought to be a region enormously rich in hydrocarbons, particularly around the highly disputed Spratly Islands.

Though this has remained largely unstated in public, the United States sees India as a key part of its pivot towards the Asia-Pacific region. Not only is the Indian Navy one of the most powerful forces in the region, it is a useful training partner which engages the US Navy in exceptionally high-level wargames in the annual Malabar series of exercises which are held during the fall. According to Admiral Harris, "I was involved with Malabar 1995 and now you look at Malabar 2014, and it is leaps and bounds beyond what it was. I would like to have an increase with India in special operations exercises."

Last year, India opened up the Malabar exercises to include Japan, a strong ally of both New Delhi and Washington, and Australia, a key maritime player in the Asia-Pacific region with concerns on Chinese naval expansionism.

While India and the United States stand committed to engaging China economically, a new strategic order clearly seems in the process of being established across both the Pacific and Indian Oceans with the US being the big brother.

"As part of the US rebound, the Pacific fleet is going to get bigger. 60 per cent of the US Navy will be in the Pacific fleet by 2020. For me, my area of responsibility for the US Navy is the Pacific and Indian Oceans and so, I say that my area of responsibility goes from Hollywood to Bollywood and Polar Bears to Penguins. So that's kind of all of it. That's 52 per cent of the world. That's my area of responsibility," Admiral Harris said. The US sees India as an important part of this new order.
FICCI draws attention of MoD to inordinate delay in FICV project - See more at:
Industry Association, FICCI has welcomed the decision of the Indian Army and Ministry of Defence for down-selecting two Indian industry consortia, namely, Tata Power and Larsen & Turbo and Bharat Electronics Limited and Rolta, as Development Agencies for the Ministry's prestigious 'MAKE' Program: Battlefield Management System (BMS).

This is a Network Centric Program aimed at developing an indigenous prototype of BMS for the Indian Army under the MAKE category of the Defence Procurement Procedure. The success of the program is bound to unleash the potential of Indian defence manufacturing, especially the private sector.

FICCI congratulated the two industry consortia and believes that they would deliver state-of-the-art prototypes within the stipulated time frame at a price that is competitive. These products will help India in inching towards the goal of self- reliance, besides giving the user a sense of pride from a 'MAKE in India' technology.

The success of the project will boost the confidence of foreign investors and defence companies in partnering with Indian industry in keeping with the 'Make in India' vision.

Dr A. Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI has appreciated the quicker decision making process adopted by the DGIS, MoD, and Indian Army for the down-selection of Indian industry consortia to participate in the Prototype Development Phase of this 'MAKE' Program followed by a Production Order, which will be decided by the MoD after successful completion of the prototype.

He mentioned that FICCI has over the years advocated focus on 'MAKE' projects as India's defence needs can be addressed by customised development of products based on geographic and strategic requirements. FICCI would like to bring the attention of the MoD to delays in finalizing the Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV), another 'MAKE' project under consideration of the Indian Army which has already seen inordinate delays.

FICCI has called for more projects to be categorised under 'MAKE' to achieve self reliance in the true sense.
Indian Military Modernisation: Do Politicians, Bureaucrats Care? – Analysis
Alok Bansal and Prodyut Bora (IE Feb 19) in their article have analysed the need for reconfiguring the existing tri–service command and control structure fairly well. There is no denying that inter-service rivalries, lack of jointmanship and the absence of a single point military adviser to the defence minister are major drawbacks responsible for weak strategic planning and higher direction of war at the national level.

To this add the absolute lack of confidence and an undercurrent of ‘us against them’ which exists between the Service HQs and the Ministry of Defence/bureaucracy. Compound this with the fact that the home ministry (with the Border Security Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police), has been made responsible for certain major aspects of border security and border management with China and Pakistan. That there is a problem, is well appreciated.

Where Alok and Prodyut have lost the plot is when they start comparing the American model and the challenges that the American military faces vis-à-vis the Indian context. The military of the United States is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with over 160,000 of its active-duty personnel serving outside the United States and its territories, and an additional 70,000 deployed in various contingency operations to safeguard its interests. This type of power projection all around the globe by a country is based on its foreign policy and likely threats to its national interests or to its territorial integrity. Military analysts do not foresee India in any major expeditionary roles beyond its shores or borders.

For the threats which India is facing or is likely to face and the limited power projection capability which we envisage, the configuration of the three services in terms of the command and control structure existing at present is more than satisfactory and battle tested. The Indian army has six tactical (theater) commands based on clear cut geographical areas of responsibility. A Command Headquarter is akin to a field army headed by a three-star Lieutenant General. These army commanders are responsible for all combat operations within their area of responsibility (AOR) and have the mandate to operate with a remarkable degree of autonomy and independence within the military aim and parameters laid down by the IHQ of MoD, as tasked by the government.

A matrix structure of the type recommended by Alok and Prodyut, wherein the operational and support roles are split is already in place. There exists a very robust and flexible system of logistic support at the operational level in terms of the various combat support arms and services (supply, ordnance, medical, telecommunications, repairs etc) integral to the six field armies along with static areas and sub-areas supporting the field forces. The ‘ push’ system followed by the logistics support system ensures that the soldier at the front is provided with all necessities from hot food to boot laces and ammunition irrespective of where the formations are operationally deployed – within the sub-continent or outside.

Each of these logistic support services is headed by a three star general answerable to the army chief with a similar arrangement going downwards in the hierarchy up to the brigade level. In that sense, what is being suggested in terms of separation of operational and support roles, is actually old wine in new bottles. Coming on to the training part, the Indian Army has a Training Command (ARTRAC), also headed by a three star general, responsible for formulating and testing doctrines, training standards, norms and operational concepts including tri-service joint operations.

As in any other army, the training on ground per se, in accordance with the norms, quality and standards laid down, is the responsibility of the field force commanders at all levels. A largely similar arrangement exists in the Air Force (five operational ‘ theater’ commands along with a Training Command and a Maintenance Command) and the Navy (three ‘theater ‘ commands plus a Flag Officer Sea Training and 16 training establishments plus a Directorate of Logistics Support). In addition, the Strategic Forces Command is a tri-service organization which forms part of India’s Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) and is responsible for the management and administration of the country’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile. The Indian military’s chain of command runs from the President of India who is the supreme commander of the armed forces.

For functioning and employment, the armed forces are under the management of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), led by the minister of defence. All decisions for the employment of the military, including as part of the United Nations, is by the highest decision making body (CCS or the Cabinet Committee on Security) based on the advice of the three chiefs, in the absence of a five-star Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Herein lies a problem which has been correctly identified by Alok and Prodyut, more of which later.

The question which needs to be addressed is whether the India military in its present configuration has the ability to be a net provider of security, mainly in the Indian Ocean region. The answer is – Yes. Considering our national ethos, foreign policy and the absence of any territorial ambitions or desire to ‘police’ the world, the military is well configured to contribute effectively in enhancing mutual security of its neighbouring friendly countries, including dealing with transnational piracy or responding to disasters. The military with a 1.3 million-strong and well trained army, a potent air force with multi-dimensional ability and a navy which can dominate the Indian Ocean from the Straits of Hormuz to the Straits of Malacca and onwards to the Australian sea board, is well placed to enable India in fulfilling such a role in terms of capacity building, military diplomacy, military assistance or for deployment of forces to stabilize a situation in our area of interest. A point to be considered here is that military interventions are avoidable as the employment of military force, if done outside the purview of the United Nations, will always invite adverse international reaction and cause external as well as internal political turmoil, a lesson which India has learnt. However, this does not necessarily preclude the employment of the Indian military in out-of-area contingencies, for which it has the capacity and the capability even today, in its present form.

When and if CDS is in place, there will be an inherent ability to operate under a single command as per the tactical or strategic requirements. For looking after the Indian Ocean Rim and adjoining sea lanes of communication, we already have an amphibious brigade stationed in Port Blair under Fortress Commander, Andaman and Nicobar (a naval officer), this being the only true integrated command in the Indian military. Coming to special forces, which constitute the special operations capability of the Indian military, there are the MARCOS (Marine Commandos), an élite special operations unit of the Indian Navy and the highly trained Special Forces battalions of the army. Some time back, a proposal to have a joint command for the Special Forces was mooted in the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security. These élite forces operating under a single command (Joint Special Operations Command or J-SOC), are expected to be under the Integrated Defence Services headquarters and will include the existing special forces of the army, navy and air force.

These measures, if not killed because of bureaucratic intransigence and lack of military knowledge, will strengthen the clandestine and unconventional warfare capabilities of the armed forces to effectively tackle the challenges of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations, both in and outside Indian territory. Once all this is in place, the armed forces will be in a position for contingency operations requiring rapid deployment in support of national policy, short of war. There is also the very powerful Para Brigade which is capable of rapid deployment and can be used in the airborne or the air assault role. There is no need for large amphibious forces or for an air assault corps considering the type and scope of operations which India is likely to be involved in.

If anything, it is not the revising of the command structure (other than having a CDS with full military authority and the implementation of the Kargil Review Committee Report) that is the need of the day. It is the requirement of the Indian Military keeping in pace with the revolution in military affairs. Amongst other things, speeding up the acquisition process of military equipment also requires immediate governmental attention. Procedural delays and getting approvals is a long drawn out procedure entailing clearances from as many as 18 MoD and related departments/agencies. Even the urgently needed equipment via the Fast Track Procurement (FTP) route with a 12-14 month timeline, is rarely ever met. Replacement of obsolete equipment, including the basic rifle of the Indian soldier, night vision and surveillance devices, guns for the artillery, revamping of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and the ordnance factories (so that ‘Make in India’ becomes a reality), modernizing air defence weaponry, pushing through the deals for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) and the long overdue naval platforms, overhauling the intelligence gathering and sharing ability — to name a few, are the matters which require rectification. Today the money and the ability to make our country more secure is there, but do our politicians and bureaucrats have the will?

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