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Friday, 20 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 20 Mar 2015

Pak fountainhead of terror, says Defence Ministry report

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
Blaming Pakistan for being the “fountainhead” of terrorism and using it as “instrument of state policy”, the Ministry of Defence in its annual report today cautioned India’s western neighbour of “ramifications on bilateral relations”.

The report also expressed concern on China’s growing military might and its assertiveness in the disputed hydrocarbon-rich South China Sea.

The 240-page document said: “Pakistan continues to remain the fountainhead of terrorism in the region”. Its quest for strategic depth in Afghanistan continues to drive its policy to support the Taliban, it added.

“The expanding footprints of extremist and terrorist organisations in Pakistan and their linkages with terrorist activities in J&K and the rest of India pose a major security challenge to India, with severe ramifications on bilateral relations, as well as on peace and security in the region,” the report said. It blamed the Pakistan military saying: “The use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy has deep roots in Pakistani military establishment.”

“A meaningful dialogue requires an environment free from terror and violence. Ceasefire violations and infiltrations continue unabated. Continued activities of terrorist organisations operating from the Pakistani territory are a major obstacle and source of concern,” the report said. India was committed to resolve all issues with Pakistan under the Simla agreement of 1972 and the Lahore declaration of 1999, it added.

The existence of terrorist camps across the international border and the Line of Control (LoC), instances of ceasefire violations, attempted infiltrations and transgressions demonstrate the challenges faced by India.

“Pakistan has continued with its policy of selective approach towards tackling terrorist groups operating from its territory… which do not serve the interests of regional peace and security.”

On China, the report stressed on India’s stake in maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific Region. Without naming the South China Sea, the report said “countries must exercise restraint”—Beijing is a dominant player in the hydrocarbon-rich South China Sea and threatens to control a greater part of it. Beijing’s overlapping claims with Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have aggravated issues. India has interests in oil bocks off the coast of Vietnam and maintaining freedom of navigation.

“India has important political economic, commercial and social interests in the Asia-Pacific region and has stake in continued pace and stability in the region,” the report said.

It also talks about Beijing’s growing military profile. “India remains conscious and watchful of the implications of China’s increasing military profile in our immediate and extended neighbourhood as well as the development of strategic infrastructure by China in border areas,” it said.
Naval muscle should fetch economic returns
Sandeep Dikshit
Why should a busy Prime Minister spend so much of time wooing isolated or small nations when India gets almost nothing in return? India must gear up for a more proactive maritime strategy in the Indian Ocean
WHEN Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently made two separate forays to the island nations of Fiji, Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, one of his statements stood out. “The course of the 21st century will be determined by the currents of the Indian Ocean,” he said in Victoria, the capital of Seychelles

Besides the three western Indian Ocean countries that Modi visited on his last overseas tour. India has been extra sensitive about events taking place in two other island nations in the region, Madagascar and the Maldives. On the other side, it has steadily built naval ties with Vietnam and joined the Pacific Islands Forum, whose members are even further to the east.

Why should a busy Prime Minister spend so much energy wooing isolated or small nations when India gets almost nothing in return? The returns from India's security investment in these nations or helping them out in distress are next to nothing and this has been so for over three decades now. India did not even get the expected payback when some of these nations voted for Japan in its contest for a United Nations Security Council seat in 1993. Yet, the Indian Navy became more active, sailing almost round the year to Indian Ocean ports, near and distant.

No choice but to walk alone

A wave of expectation had swept resource-strapped admiralties all over the world when the US floated the 1,000-ship navy concept in 2007. It did not denote the exact requirement of ships but it was for those willing to work together as nobody can protect the oceans alone, explained Mike Mullen, the top US military official of that time.

Each nation would have contributed ships according to its capacity and this fleet would have undertaken global policing on the high seas. In order to make the proposal more acceptable to countries that value independent operations such as India, China and Russia, the Pentagon had offered to recuse the US Navy from some regions. The narrow and vulnerable Malacca Straits, for instance, was to be entrusted to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia at the East Asia funnel while Indian Navy would patrol the other end of the outlet towards India.

But mutual suspicions among nations ensured the proposal withered and competitive dynamics continued in the Indian Ocean where at least a dozen regional and extra-regional powers patrol the waters.

The Indian Navy, with about 40 lethal war vessels, including submarines and notions of not joining any military bloc, would have to single-handedly meet the demands spelt out in its doctrine with the help of some synergy and information sharing with friendly counterparts operating in the region. Another reason why it didn't join the two CTFs was Pakistan's presence and whose fleet chief would often serve as the force commander.

Changing the colonial model
India's military interest in the island nations in western Indian Ocean, especially the 3 Ms (Mauritius, the Maldives and Madagascar) and Sri Lanka partly stems from the strategy followed by colonial powers due to their lead in shipbuilding, navigation and gunnery to monopolise the extraction of raw materials from countries subdued by chicanery or military force. For two centuries, the Indian Ocean was a British lake due to its navy-led military presence in nine locations, from Cape Town to Brunei.  

With countries becoming sovereign and no longer militarily emaciated, that concept has become impractical. The Indian Ocean remains busy and teems with all the ills of the modern world — religious extremism, drug trafficking, international terrorism and transit of weapons of mass destruction.

India has been involved with Mauritius because 70 per cent of its population is of Indian descent and the arrangement of easy routing of foreign investment suits both countries. But it serves another purpose, faintly reminiscent of the strategy by Britain (and after that US) to utilise Chagos Islands (now Diego Garcia) for basing long-range bombers, spy planes and stocking up naval vessels. India finally achieved a breakthrough in 2012 when Mauritius offered the island of Agaliga. Modi during his recent visit wrapped up the deal though India can ostensibly use it only for tourism and marine studies. Seychelles also agreed to give an island as well as host a surveillance station. For the same reason, India has helped out the small and militarily deficient states of Madagascar and the Maldives. They may not make such an offer nor is there any pressing need but these countries value India's no-strings-attached assistance. India on the other hand is open to their economic dalliance with other countries but wouldn't want them to become bases for operations against India or to interdict its merchant vessels during tensions. As a result, India now has a listening post in Madagascar and provides the naval and air components to Maldives.

If this part of the Indian Ocean possibly has oil reserves, there is no ambiguity about the high concentration of energy resources in the Arabian Gulf, to the north of these countries. Here India has stitched a naval berthing alliance with Mozambique and Oman and is negotiating to operate a port in Iran. Besides keeping an eye on transportation of energy to India, the presence of its naval ships in the region helped evacuate Indians from Lebanon in 2006 and then from several nearby countries after the wilting of the Arab Spring.

Though the Chinese “string- of-pearls” strategy has chaffed many Indian strategic experts, India has not been idle. It will soon be operating a port in Myanmar, is involved in Thailand's development of a deep sea port and provides patrol vessels to Vietnam.

Modi's visit to Fiji falls in another category. The 15 Pacific island nations are a huge voting block and besides hosting a substantial Indian population, Fiji acts as a leader to about four of them. That is why India just announced cash assistance to Vanatu, hit by a cyclone last week. Though it did not give  naval assistance, Indian Navy’s  work after the Tsunami of 2004 is well documented. Visiting US Admirals often cite the contribution by the Indian Navy as an example why New Delhi should become more active in the Indian Ocean.

Hyper posture and returns
But military presence in exotic locations or hyper-active patrolling to remain disaster-ready would be imprudent without a clear action plan to neutralise the extra expenditure by bringing some economic benefits to its citizens. By developing the port at Iran, India will skip Pakistan which anyway denies free access across its territory for trade. The Iranian port of Chabar will offer a short route to Pashtun areas in Afghanistan as well as connect to Central Asia, Caucasus and Russia as part of the multi-nation North-South Corridor. The development of Sittwe port in Myanmar and involvement in the Thai port will open a second route to the north-eastern states apart from the congested and appropriately named Chicken's Neck corridor via Siliguri.

But India falls short in getting economic benefits from its developing presence in the Indian Ocean. The openhanded aid to Sri Lanka contrasts with mostly loans by China, in Maldives despite supplying even bottled water, India couldn't build an airport, Seychelles and Mauritius also entertain other military powers while the influence on Oman and Mozambique is minimal.

Follow the Chinese lead
Though comparisons are odious, take the case of China. Like India, it is an upcoming economy and also had to start afresh in the maritime business after becoming Independent around the same time. Unlike India, however, it has been pursuing a strategy since `98 to develop 20 sectors in the marine economy. A Chinese ultra-deep sea vessel dived 20 times in the Indian Ocean to collect samples of rare metals, held closely by countries producing them. This vessel also dredged up cobalt and other rare metals in the Pacific Ocean. Over time, China has evolved a marine economy with extensive shipbuilding and trade links that dwarf those by India. Also, China with 49 frigates, 24 destroyers, eight corvettes and about 60 submarines has a navy at least four times larger than India's.  

As for assisting other countries in disaster relief, India will never be a match for the US. That is because the US Navy is the biggest in the world by any yardstick, and has a series of military bases from Guam to Korea to the Philippines from where ships can easily sail out to any corner of East Asia. Moreover,

India cannot commit most of its resources for disaster preparedness at sea when bulk of natural calamities such as the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake, the Uttarakhand floods and landslides and the J & K floods have been land-based events. The mantra for India would be to avoid getting entangled in competitive dynamics when economic returns are not commensurate. And meanwhile it must move from near-shore economic development initiatives such as off-shore oil exploration into deep-sea exploration for minerals and oil by leveraging the comforting presence of its Navy, at least in western Indian Ocean. This makes the need for a comprehensive national security strategy, especially on the marine side, more compelling than ever.  
India’s marine vulnerabilities & opportunities
Despite the Chinese lead in deep sea exploration for minerals, India is also getting into the act. It recently bought a South Korean deep sea survey ship but must accelerate plans for deep submergence vehicles to get to the ocean floor and extract samples.  It has become even more important to keep an eye on the sea bed after multiple exposes of communications being intercepted. BRICS countries are currently laying a communications cable which needs to be looked after to deter tapping. India must also take the risk and begin talks with countries in the western Indian Ocean to begin prospecting for oil, especially after some countries on the African east coast found commercially extractable oil reserves off their shores.One of the worst urban acts of terrorism took place in 2008 when gunmen used the sea access route to attack Mumbai. Coastal security has improved since the 1980s when smugglers had a free run of the coast and was tightened further after RDX used for the 1992 Mumbai blasts was smuggled in from the sea. There has been a massive coastal security overhaul after Mumbai 2008 but the high seas and the areas around the EEZ (around 360 km from the territorial baseline) is vulnerable because off-shore production accounts for two-thirds of the country's domestic oil production. Also, most of petroleum is imported via the sea route and India is also one of the biggest exporters of refined oil.
Finally, India will have a chief of defence staff
Amidst a glut of deeply depressing goings-on across the country, there is good news to cheer not only the Indian military, but also all those concerned about national security. It is now almost certain that there will soon be a Chief of Defence Staff like other established democracies, such as the United States and Britain, have had for ages. Here the very idea has been rejected summarily when presented to successive governments for some reason or the other. It is no secret that in the early years, the fear of a military coup played its part in official thinking, especially after 1958, when General Ayub Khan took over as Pakistan’s first military dictator and his example was followed in Burma (now Myanmar) by Ne Win two years later. This apprehension was unreal in any case. For democracy had taken roots in this country right from the first general elections, and leaders of armed forces were as divided as the Indian polity or Indian society.

Indeed, those in the know used to say: “If you lock up the Army Chief, Vice-Chief and commanders of the fighting Army commands in a room, they won’t be able to agree even on the time of day.” Yet, the mindset on the subject remained so woolly that even in the mid-’90s, an otherwise intelligent secretary of the ministry of defence made the fatuous statement that a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or a CDS was needed only by those countries which had global interests; the Indian military’s role was defending Indian borders and shores.

It was only after the Kargil War in 1999 that the country woke up to the need for a CDS. The credit for this must go the Kargil Review Committee, headed by India’s pioneering guru in strategy and security. Its other members were eminent journalist George Verghese and Lt.-Gen. (retired) K. K. Hazari. Satish Chandra of the Indian Foreign Service was its member-secretary.

The committee’s case for having a CDS, integrating the three services with the ministry of defence – at present only they are only “attached offices” of the MoD – and making the chiefs of the three services part of the government and not mere commanders of the service to which they belong – was  strong and persuasive. No wonder that a Group of Ministers, headed by L. K. Advani, endorsed it. It seemed that the appointment of the CDS was a done deal. But, at the last minute, the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee held up a decision on this recommendation, while approving all others.

Asked privately why he had deferred the most important decision, he gave two reasons. First that there was too much bad blood over the issue, as no fewer than nine Air Chiefs had met him to demand the rejection of the CDS concept. Secondly, Vajpayee said, he had consulted former president R Venkataraman and former Prime Minister P. V.  Narasimha Rao, both of whom had been defence ministers during their political careers. They both had advised him to think the matter through. Atalji assured me, however, he would take a decision, one way or the other, within a year. That, alas, was not to be.

 Ten years passed and the UPA-2 Government, headed by Manmohan Singh, realised that a comprehensive review of national security was overdue. So it appointed a Task Force, chaired by Naresh Chandra, a former cabinet secretary and former ambassador to the US, for this purpose. Judging by the evidence the various ministries and other relevant official entities gave it, the task force concluded that the idea of a CDS would not pass muster even now. Therefore, it suggested a step in the right direction. It recommended that there should be a permanent chairman of the Chief of Staffs Committee with a fixed tenure of two years. At present, the chairmanship of the CoSC is rotational and goes to the seniormost serving chief. Consequently, the term of the chairman is usually short – in one case it was precisely 30 days — and because the chairman has to run his own service, he has limited time to devote to the task of promoting inter-Services coordination and cooperation.

The task force took care to prescribe that the permanent chairman would leave the operational functions of the three service chiefs well alone and concentrate on the entire spectrum of inter-Services matters that include the determining of priorities in the acquisition of weapons by the three services. Even more important is the supervision of the Strategic Command. Several former chairmen of the CoSC have confessed they seldom had enough time to confer with the head of the Strategic Command. Sadly, the UPA-2 Government sat on the task force’s report for two years and rejected it just before its inglorious exit. What an irony it is therefore that in the current discussions on the subject, the civilian bureaucracy of the defence ministry, a bane of the national security architecture, is arguing that instead of having a CDS, the country should have a permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff.

These ‘abominable no-men’ are unlikely to get their way. For, instead of the do-nothing A K Antony, a very decisive and doer Manohar Parrikar is defence minister. Some of the decisions he has already taken had been hanging fire for close to a decade. For the same reason one can be sanguine about the welcome announcement by the Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh, that the “long-pending” One Rank One Pension scheme would be implemented by the end of April.

Over long years we have witnessed tragic scenes of gallant ex-Servicemen demonstrating at Amar Jyoti at India Gate and then marching to Rashtrapati Bhavan to return their gallantry awards to the President, their Supreme Commander. Let this not be repeated ever again.
Lack of welfare officers hits state armed forces
By Mubarak Ansari, Pune Mirror | Mar 18, 2015, 02.30 AM IST

ZSWO posts lie vacant, delaying procedures for pension and other facilites

Serving soldiers and ex-servicemen in the state are getting a raw deal, thanks to several Zilha Sainik Welfare Officers' (ZSWO) posts lying vacant owing to a high rate of attrition. At present, there are 14 such vacancies in Maharashtra.

Officials said ZSWOs resign within 1-2 years of joining owing to low rank and low pay. The latest to leave the post is Latur ZSWO Major (retd) K Y Jhambre, who resigned on Monday. This vacuum is leaving ex-servicemen and their kin bereft of facilities like pension, re-employment, and college admissions for their children as those having additional charge only visit their districts once in a while. According to the Maharashtra Department of Sainik Welfare (DSW) records, there are 2.25 lakh ex-servicemen. Along with their dependants, the total population runs to10 lakh.

In his letter to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on March 12, Jhambre had stated, "Latur got its full-time ZSWO after seven years when I joined in 2013. There is a dearth of officers in our department as nothing is being done to attract them. According to the current structure, I will retire as ZSWO even after serving for 26 years as there is no scope for either a promotion or a pay hike. I am really finding it hard to continue here...." At present, the districts without a full-time ZSWO are Amravati, Yavatmal, Beed, Raigarh, Sindhudurg, Parbhani, Nanded, Nandurbar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Jalna, Ahmadnagar, Gadchiroli and Latur.

Speaking to Mirror, a ZSWO who holds charge of two districts, said, "I can't leave my district as people here suffer if I go out. Pension for ex-servicemen and admission and hostel accommodation for their dependants need to be approved by the ZSWO. So, I go there once in a while or ask the clerks to bring their files to me. It's not that I am not willing to go, but owing to the distance between the two districts, either will suffer if I move out at any given point of time."

District offices are the field units responsible for providing information regarding the Indian armed forces to the public. They help servicemen and ex-servicemen to present their cases to the local administration or defence authorities and monitor the welfare of their families. District offices also recommend their cases to the Kendriya Sainik Board (KSB) for financial assistance, apart from keeping a watch on the adequacy of pension paying branch post offices and scrutinising applications for relief from various military and civil charitable funds. They also explore educational and vocational training options for ex-servicemen and their dependants.

When contacted, DSW president Col (retd) Suhas Jatkar said, "The situation is alarming as six more officers will retire in the near future. We had earlier proposed to the government to revamp the DSW structure by establishing divisional offices, creating posts of additional directors as well as giving promotions to ZSWO. The matter was taken up with the former chief minister but was not brought before the Cabinet meeting. We are trying to meet the current CM now to improve the situation."
Army to exhibit weapons at varsity
TNN | Mar 20, 2015, 03.21 AM IST
NOIDA: The Army will hold a demonstration of its weapons and artillery in an academic institution in the city. Howitzers, automatic grenade launchers, anti-tank guided missiles, battlefield surveillance radar, integrated air defence system, and nuclear, biological and chemical kits are some of the artillery that will be on display from March 24-25 in Amity University.

Major general (retd) J P Singh, director of special training at Amity University, said, "The event will help students get a glimpse of the Army's work. The students can also get motivated to choose a career in Army."

University officials said the Army will also dig few trenches and bunkers to give the students a live demonstration of a defense system.

Col Rohan Anand, PRO, Army, said the motive is to inform students about the

Army. "It is to create a patriotic and nationalist feeling among the young generation," he said. The recruiting cell of Army will also set up a stall to provide information to the aspiring candidates about choosing a career in the armed forces. Amity University has been offering short-term re-orientation programmes for a second career to officials of the armed forces when they retire from service.

"The Army keeps the age profile of armed forces youngbecause they work in difficult situations. Some like the junior commissioned officers retire at the age of 40.

We retrain these officers for a second career in business management, human resource management, etc.,because their diverse service experience in the armed forces is highly desirable outside

" Major general (retd) Subash Bindra, the director of Amity Institute of Education and Training (AIET) for Defence Forces, said.
Government explores joint production venture in defence with Thailand

NEW DELHI: India is exploring a joint production and development venture in defence with Thailand. A high-level defence delegation from Thailand led by its Permanent Secretary for Defence will visit New Delhi next week to explore joint production and development, besides sourcing of arms, diplomatic sources told ET.

The Indian side is keen to assist Thailand in setting up a defence industry and had proposed a visit to Indian facilities for the Thai side. While major platforms and syste ..

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