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Saturday, 14 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 14 Mar 2015

India fumes as Pak HC orders Lakhvi’s release
Delhi summons Pak High Commissioner | Says setting LeT terrorist free will pose a threat to security
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Islamabad, Mar 13
Outraged at the Islamabad High Court ordering the release of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorist Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, India today summoned the Pakistan High Commissioner in Delhi.

New Delhi said setting Lakhvi free would pose a threat that cannot be ignored. Officiating Foreign Secretary Anil Wadhwa summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit to the South Block, official sources said.

“India conveyed its outrage at the release of Lakhvi, one of the key accused in the Mumbai terror attacks. This goes against Pakistan's professed commitment to combat terrorism, including its recently stated policy of not differentiating amongst terrorists. If such a person, who is also designated international terrorist by the United Nations, is released it will pose a threat that cannot be ignored", External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

Secretary Wadhwa is officiating since Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is travelling with the Prime Minister abroad. The matter was also "raised at high levels" in Pakistan through Indian High Commission, official sources said.

After his meeting with Wadhwa, Basit said, "Lakhvi may have been granted bail, but the trial continues. We all are working to complete the trial. Let the judicial process take its course."

Blaming Pakistan for the Islamabad High Court order to release Lakhvi, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told reporters that Islamabad did not produce the evidence against him despite having enough of it.

“Pakistan did not present the evidence before the court... Our concern is Pakistan should deal with terrorists in a manner in which the whole global community is looking at”, Rijiju said, adding “There is no bad or good terrorist, a fact which has been globally accepted".

Earlier, the Islamabad High Court declared as void detention orders of Lakhvi. Judge Anwarul Haq accepted the petition of the accused against his detention for the third time and ordered Lakhvi's release declaring his detention illegal. The notification of detention, which was issued by Islamabad's district administration, was termed as null and void by Justice Noorul Haq earlier in morning.
Infiltrators From Pakistan Are Deadlier Than Ever Before
New Delhi:  Less than 50 metres to the left of a section of jawans of the Kumaon regiment, right at the bottom of a precipice, is the Line of Control.

This is the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, an area where Pakistani posts dominate Indian positions. As I join soldiers of the Kumaon regiment on an ambush patrol, I try to see if I can spot the fence that protects India from infiltrators from Pakistan. It's there all right, but I can't see it and leaning over the abyss any further to try and spot it would be a death wish.

The barbed wires of the fence on the Line of Control are India's first line of defence against infiltrators who have just one goal - to cut through the fence, attack the Army and other high value targets at any cost. These terrorists know all too well that they have arrived with a one-way ticket. 

It is all part of a cat and mouse game.  Who will make the first mistake? India's defenders, who may falter by letting down their guard for a moment, or the infiltrators if their movements are detected by the Indian Army?

Very soon, twilight turns to nightfall but the soldiers keep going, each jawan alert to the faintest sound that may indicate movement of the enemy.

These men know this track like the back of their hand - each turn, each obstacle, even in pitch darkness.

I am shown an Israeli-built thermal imager a huge force multiplier at night, a device that provides clear, magnified views of Pakistani positions - otherwise clearly visible during the day.


But the process of observation is two-way over here.  The Pakistani Army's posts lie less than a kilometre from our patrol track and we know we are being watched. Every step.  Every moment.  And, if all hell were to break loose, we could be hopelessly exposed to a hail of Pak Army gunfire from their fortified positions on higher ground. But that is a risk that goes with the territory of patrolling in the higher reaches of Uri.  It is a job soldiers of the Army do every day and every night.

For years, there used to be a saying - "once the passes are snowed under in winter, the inflow of terrorists will stop." That may have been a reality once. It is history today. 

What we learn on this visit is that the terrorists coming across the Line of Control are better equipped, better motivated and far more militarily competent than they have ever been. These are no longer small groups of AK-47 wielding terrorists with a handful of grenades and ammunition. The terrorists coming across now are often as capable as regular infantry soldiers.

This is a reality that the Army is quickly coming to grips with.   

In December last year, at an altitude of 14,000 feet in the Nawgam sector of Baramulla, there was a clear indicator of what was to come. Six Pakistani terrorists fought a pitched battle against the Indian Army for 36 hours. These were no suicide bombers. They were skilled fighters who were capable of engaging the Indian Army.


They came equipped with Swiss-made snow clothing and boots, digital navigation consoles, satellite phones, high-energy food and more weaponry and ammunition than any terrorist group infiltrating India has brought in. 

A few days later, on December 9, terrorists managed to cut through the Uri sector to eventually kill eight jawans and three policemen in the Mohra camp.  These soldiers were also skilled, displaying military craft in their operations. 

According to Lt General Subrata Saha, the Army's 15 Corps Commander, "There is some kind of infusion of better technology, for instance, for navigation.  They are using good quality GPS compared to when I was a Brigade Commander on the LoC almost a decade back. Earlier, they would come in with sports GPS equipment. Now they are coming with absolutely high technology GPS systems. Their reliance on radio sets is a bare minimal and its only for the terminal stages of communication (when they have engaged the Indian Army).  A lot of the communication is happening on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), over Skype and so on."

Terrorists who manage to cross the Line of Control also carry a variety of weaponry, not just the standard AK-47 rifle which used to be the norm in the past. 

"Last year, we had a lot which had come with two shot guns, barrels cut. Obviously the intention was to cause a large number of injuries rather than death possibly.  So you look at it from every dimension whether it is in terms of surveillance, communication, their ways of gathering intelligence, navigation, you do see a technological upgrade in that sense," said Gen Saha.


For young commanders out on the LoC, the new threats and new capabilities mean they have to be more alert than ever before.  On January 8, 2013, members of the Pakistani Army's Border Action Teams, comprising Special Forces soldiers and terrorists, crossed 600 metres into Indian territory in the Mankote area of Krishna Ghati.

Clad in black, they took advantage of foliage and a dense fog and opened fire on an area-domination unit of the 13 Rajputana Rifles. The skirmish lasted for 30 minutes at the end of which two Indian soldiers, Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh were killed, their bodies mutilated, with one decapitated.

The Indian Army is clear that it is time to up their game. Though a host of motion sensors which detect enemy movement supplement the fence on the LoC, there is an urgent need to upgrade the entire system.

General Saha said, "We have much better quality of surveillance equipment today. Even as we speak, we are carrying out the trials for the new anti-infiltration system this winter, which would be a definite upgrade over what we have now. The existing one is of 2003/4/5 vintage. So it has grown old and since we are seeing the other side has (improved), we are going in for very good quality upgrade. It's going to be a nice package, it is not going to be the obstacle of the wire by itself, its going to be with surveillance equipment."

In the final analysis though, there is no substitute to boots on the ground and eyes on the enemy. And so, the patrols continue. Day in and day out. In the heat of summer and in snow-bound winter conditions.
MoU between Indian Army and HDFC Bank on the Defence Salary Package
New Delhi: On 13th Mar 2015 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Indian Army and HDFC Bank on the Defence Salary Package. The signing in ceremony was chaired by Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma, Adjutant General of Indian Army and attended by top dignitaries of HDFC Bank headed by Mr Rajender Sehgal, Group Head (Govt Business).

The first MoU between HDFC Bank and the Indian Army was signed in 2011 and was valid for a period of three years. The revised MoU is tailor made to suit the requirements of serving soldiers, pensioners and families. Number of additional facilities have been incorporated in the revised MoU after concerted efforts.  Army is hoping that this MoU will benefit a large number of serving and retired Army personnel who are having their accounts with HDFC and   provide them an opportunity to access modern banking facilities.

The basic features of the MoU are free drafts, free cheque books, free funds transfers to any bank in India through RTGS / NEFT and free ATM cards.

Some features which have been improved from before are enhancement of Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) cover and its applicability both on Account and Debit Card, Air Accident Insurance of Rs 25 Lakhs, Interest concession on auto loan and 50 % waiver on processing fees for auto and house loan.  Two major additions have been applicability of the and overdraft facility to pensioners. The MoU also has a provision for yearly review of specific features and requests.
India Today Conclave: Open to 100 per cent FDI in defence technology, says Parrikar

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said he favours 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment in areas involving critical defence technology.

"If there is a company that has the technology and wants to make for example fighter planes in India without any obligation on the part of the government, I am willing to give them approval for 100 per cent investment in the venture," Parrikar, making a strong Make in India pitch, said at the India Today Conclave 2015 in New Delhi. Watch LIVE coverage

Parrikar was addressing a panel on 'We Didn't Start the Fire But Will We Win the War?' with the former Chief of the Army Staff General Bikram Singh at the India Today annual event. "Due to the blacklisting of private companies in the past, a lot of defence procurement has suffered," he said.

On the threats from Pakistan, Parrikar said, "We should be prepared that the neighbours don't even think of a war. We should build yourself to a level that neighbours don't take "panga" with us."

On reports of periodic crashes of Army choppers, the Defence Minister said, "The current helicopter accident rate is .39 percent in the 5 years per 10,000 hours of flying. Of the 93 accidents that took place since 1986, 62 per cent were due to human error and only 23 per cent were due to technical failure."

Parrikar acknowledged that there is need for chief of defence staff for a better integration between the forces and also promised to work out a mechanism soon. "At present, there is no integration mechanism that exists between three forces and there is lot of infighting among them."

"I will recommend a mechanism for the creation of the post of chief of defence staff. Force integration and overlap will also save us money," he said.

Both Parrikar and General Bikram Singh agreed that there were critical areas on the preparedness of armed forces which needs attention. "The quality of ammunition is a problem," General Singh said.
China’s Massive Defence Budget 2015: Implications For Indian Security – Analysis
China’s massive Defence Budget 2015 pegged over $144 billion should be worrisome for India’s defence planners as there is no commensurate or matching Indian strategy to reduce India’s military differentials with China.

India’s single digit increase in defence budget allocations of around $40 billion announced in the last Budget or so pale into insignificance in comparison to China’s $144 billion defence expenditure primarily targeted to enhance China’s war-waging capabilities. Notably, China has maintained a 10% increase over last year’s defence budget even though the Chinese economy growth, as per official figures, is not likely to exceed 7%.

China is indisputably a military adversary of India engaged in strategic diminution of India both directly and in joint collusion with India’s other military adversary, namely Pakistan.

India cannot afford to repeat the historical mistakes of its past political leaders’ pious readings of China’s underlying strategic intentions pertaining to India. India has to perforce take note of China’s military capabilities emerging from China’s double-digit increases in its annual military budgets and the ensuing accretions to its offensive might.

It is China’s double-digit annual increases in its military budgets over decades that contribute to its over-sized military machine that imparts it with offensive capabilities to embark on military brinkmanship and adventurism extending from India’s Himalayan borders with Tibet to the maritime expanses of the South China Sea and East China Sea.

A Chinese expert on military matters has asserted on China’s Defence Budget 2015 that “The defence budget is no longer tied to economic performance. There is a political decision across the board in China that defence spending is sacrosanct, untouchable.”

The above reveals a marked contrast to Indian political leadership approaches where perceptionaly India’s war preparedness stood ignored for more than a decade and where defence spending was never considered by the political leadership as “sacrosanct and untouchable”.

Media reports have indicated that every year around January-February India’s Defence Budget allocations were tinkered around to balance budgetary deficits. Should that be the pattern of commitment of India’s national security managers who not only have to complete glaring voids in India’s military inventories but also to attempt reducing India’s military differentials with China’s burgeoning military might?

Having made the notable point of the contrasting Chinese and Indian approaches to Defence Budget allocations, let us now revert our attention to China’s massive Defence Budget 2015 allocations of over $ 144 billion and the assessed major thrusts in Chinese military modernisation and upgradation.

Overall, the major thrust in China’s current military spending is on building-up China into a major maritime power. The Chinese Prime Minister is on record stating that China will “draw up and implement a strategic maritime plan to safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests.” and “Build China into a maritime power.”

China is therefore likely to devote a major chunk of the Chinese Defence Budget towards expanding the PLA Navy in terms of aircraft carriers, naval destroyer ships, SLBMs and force projection capabilities in terms of amphibious warfare ships and logistics.

Chinese PLA Air Force will be the next biggest beneficiary in terms of bombers and stealth fighter aircraft besides the armoury of missile weaponry for such combat aircraft. A god indication was available at the November 2014 Zhuhai Air Show where China exhibited its latest combat aircraft with ‘stealth capabilities’, and associated armaments.

China will also devote major defence spending on its strategic missiles arsenal. A god indicator to this effect surfaced in China’s firm reluctance to discuss ‘Strategic Nuclear Systems’ with the United States on the side-lines of the APEC Summit in November 2014 where China and US made agreements to reduce maritime incidents at sea and advance notifications of military exercises.

The Chinese Prime Minister elsewhere spelt out China’s military priorities as follows: (1) Comprehensively strengthen modern logistics (2) Step-up R&D of new high-tech weapons and equipment, and (3) Develop defence-related science and technology industries.

In terms of implications for Indian security, the major implications that emerge need to be analysed In terms of China’s military postures in Tibet affecting India’s security on the Himalayan borders with Tibet and the second one as the emergence of China as a major maritime power intent on an intrusive Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

India’s defence postures on its borders with Tibet in face of existing massive Chinese Army and Air Force deployments and nuclear missiles are woefully inadequate. Advanced Chinese military infrastructure existing on the Tibetan Plateau in terms of strategic road and rail network and military airfields is an added force-multiplier.

With the assessed Chinese priority in Defence Budget 2015 on strategic missiles, fighter aircraft and improvement of military logistics, India can expect enhancement of missiles and combat aircraft deployments in Tibet.

Improvement of military logistics cannot be solely viewed by Indian military planners as upgradation and expansion of military infrastructure. India also needs importantly to view expansion of military logistics in terms China’s ability to pump-in increased military formations into Tibet and the Indian borders. India also would need to take into account that China would also aim as per the emphasis on improved military logistics to significantly enhance high level holdings of war-waging logistics in Tibet, across the board.

The worrying implication of major Indian military concern in terms of increased PLA Air Force deployments in Tibet would be the combat effectiveness of the Indian Air Force to defend Indian air-space and provide Air Force cover to Indian Army formations battling China in the event of war. With a glaring deficiency of 126 or more fighter aircraft on its inventories the Indian frontiers on the Himalayan Tibetan border can be said to be virtually ‘naked’ in terms of operational air-cover by the Indian Air Force.

In terms of China’s unimpeded naval build-up of a decade or so and the added emphasis on building China into a “maritime power” as spelt out in Defence Budget 2015 priorities, there is a “wake-up call” for India and the Indian Navy.

China’s maritime build-up is not confined only to emerge as the most powerful Navy in the Western Pacific but also to use its burgeoning naval power to establish a powerful naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

Towards this end, China’s naval build-up in terms of additional aircraft carriers, naval destroyer combatants, submarines, amphibious warfare ships and logistics ships when intertwined with China’s highly publicised, in benign economic terms, of ‘China’s Maritime Silk Route’, is all aimed at China’s “Grand Naval Strategy” of toppling the appellation “Indian” from the Indian Ocean.

India has a new Prime Minister, a new Defence Minister and a new Finance Minister but India does not have a new Ministry of Defence. These three political leaders reputed for dynamic performance need to “restructure” the Indian Defence Ministry with a set-up imbued with the sacrosanct mission of pushing through India’s war-preparedness required to withstand the collusive joint military threats to India by China and Pakistan.

In conclusion, one does not have to highlight the glaring voids in India’s military inventories spelt out in the Indian media, but emphasise and strongly stress that: “India’s national security priorities are not only to fill in the voids in India’s existing military inventories but also an additional and greater mission of reducing the gap in India’s military differentials with China’s continuing military build-up with decades of annual double-digit increases in defence expenditure and currently forecasted to continue for another decade.”

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