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Friday, 19 June 2015

From Today's Papers - 19 Jun 2015

Parrikar’s unwise stray thought
In modern times, an army is more about building capabilities with the purpose of deterrrence than to actually engage in war. Wisdom lies in preventing wars and ensuring peace. Besides, wars have become far more tough to fight
s an army only meant to fight a war? So it seems, according to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who earlier this week observed that the Indian Army's importance has diminished because the country has not gone to battle in the past four to five decades. Parrikar's facts are incorrect; his perception and understanding of the purpose of an army is misplaced.

The reason why a nation, especially democracies, maintain an army is to defend its territorial integrity in the event of an attack from an adversary. Armies of civilised nations, such as India, do not initiate wars or harbour expansionist designs. So, if a war does not occur, should a nation, particularly its leaders, pin the Army's state of neglect on its not having the opportunity of fighting a war? Conversely, should a country be in a constant state of war in order to ensure the importance of its army?

“The supreme art of war”, argued well-known Chinese general and military strategist Sun Tzu some 2,500 years ago, “is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. “Supreme excellence”, he said, “consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting”. Around the same time, Chanakya, an indigenously produced master of statecraft, spoke for the need for a king's (read state's) superiority in its military and economic might. His classification of war of three types — open, concealed (guerilla) and silent (espionage) — continues to apply 2,290 years after he died. In more recent times, 19th century Prussian general and military strategist Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz termed war as simply “a continuation of political intercourse by other means”. In other words, war isn't an isolated act; neither is its result final.

In modern times an army is more about building capabilities with the purpose of deterrence than to actually engage in war. Wisdom lies in preventing wars and ensuring peace. Besides, wars have become far more tougher to fight and even more difficult to win with the kind of sophisticated military technology that is now available. The scope for destruction is incredibly immense and its adverse impact on the economy horrendous. And yet the recent US engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan (and earlier on in Vietnam) has revealed that sophisticated military technology and might can be of limited match against low- intensity guerilla warfare. In the 1980s, the Indian Army experienced this in Sri Lanka and the mighty former Soviet Union in Afghanistan. History, in fact, is replete with such examples.

As Defence Minister, Parrikar should be aware that the BJP-led NDA-I, under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had fought a two-month-long war in the daunting high-altitude Kargil region of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Even though it was a limited war, aimed at reclaiming territory that had been surreptitiously occupied by the Pakistani Army, all three services had been mobilised during the war. Infantry battalions fought pitched uphill battles in hostile terrain even as the artillery and the Indian Air Force, respectively, rained tens of thousands of shells and hundreds of bombs. The war resulted in the death of 524 soldiers (including six airmen) and 1,363 more wounded. Two aircraft, (a MiG-21 fighter and a Mi-17 helicopter), were shot down.

That was an “open” war to use Chanakya's terminology. What about the “concealed” war that Chanakya refers to? The Indian Army has lost more soldiers fighting insurgency than it has in “open” wars. For example, between 2001 and 2014 (14 years alone), the Army lost 2,387 soldiers. This is double the number the  Army lost during the year-long Kashmir war of 1947-48, when it lost 1,103 soldiers. The total figure of the Indian Army’s ‘peace time’ casualties is much higher keeping in view its engagements in operations other than war since Independence. The Army was first deployed in counter-insurgency operations in the 1950s starting with Nagaland which later expanded to Mizoram, Manipur, Assam and Meghalaya; then in J&K starting from December 1989; on the Siachen glacier starting from April 1984; in Sri Lanka (1987-89) and in internal security military operations in Punjab — Operation Bluestar (June 1984) and Operation Rakshak (1991-92). 

Even though it is the world's third largest, the Indian Army is severely overstretched. This understaffed and underarmed Army suffers a perennial shortage of officers (9,642) and soldiers (24,356) as does also the Navy and Air Force. The Army’s most modern artillery gun is three-decade old. It suffers a shortage of basic items such as bullet-proof vests and has rifles of questionable quality. But its biggest challenge is, and will continue to be, the quality of its leadership.

Senior officers have been engaged in rivalry that has not helped the Army's image. Corruption, both financial and professional by some officers, has sullied its image as have incidents of indiscipline. 

India's defence budget maybe less than 2 per cent of the GDP and compares poorly to China ($145 billion), but the money involved stands at a staggering total of Rs 2,46,727 crore ($40 billion).

In fact, the defence budget exceeds Rs 3 lakh crore, after adding Rs 62,852 crore for defence pensions and civil expenditure of the Ministry of Defence. And yet it isn't enough.

The Indian armed forces are badly in need for modernisation requiring billions of dollars to keep pace with modern military technology and to build capabilities for a war that is increasingly unlikely.

It is, to quote Joseph Heller, a proverbial Catch-22 situation where the requirement of expenditure is huge whereas the probability of war is low in an otherwise complicated security situation in a region where India finds itself hemmed in by two neigbours, both nuclear weapon states, and with whom it has a long legacy of disputed land borders.   

 Finally, Parrikar and his government at the Centre may like to introspect why the BJP, which considers itself to be the repository of all patriotism, is unable to ensure that states ruled by them have been unable to attend to the civilian demands of retired and serving soldiers.

Just as “war is too important a matter to be entrusted to military men,” as French statesman Georges Benjamin Clemenceau famously remarked, defence also is too critical a matter to be left to ignorant politicians. There is, as Clausewitz advises, a need for an overlap between the civilian and the military leadership, where both sides understand each other's functioning.
Banned Sikh bodies, militants active abroad: Intel
Had held pro-Khalistan demonstrations in several countries on Operation Bluestar’s 31st anniversary
Shaurya K Gurung

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
Several Sikh radical outfits, banned terrorist organisations and militants had held demonstrations in several countries this month to mark the 31st anniversary of Operation Bluestar and repeated their demand for Khalistan, according to Indian intelligence agencies.

The countries where the demonstrations were held are the US, UK, Pakistan, France, Germany and Malaysia.

On June 1, several Sikhs held a demonstration outside the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, US, carrying Khalistan and black flags. Some of the speakers at the event were Jaswinder Singh Jhandi of the Sikh Youth of America and Jaswant Singh Hothi, president, American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

They allegedly criticised Operation Bluestar and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. They also extended support to Surat Singh Khalsa, who is currently on a hunger strike in India to demand the release of Sikh political prisoners.

Another speaker at the event, Punit Khalsa Kaur even demanded the formation of Khalistan.

Sikh student bodies and organisations had held a rally in California on June 7. “Pro-Khalistani outfits based in the US used this event as an opportunity to commemorate Operation Bluestar and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots,” said sources.

On June 7, the Federation of Sikh Organisations held a rally in London to commemorate Operation Bluestar. Some UK-based Sikh leaders at the event had spoken about the creation of Khalistan. Joga Singh of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), an organisation banned by India, was one of those leading the rally.

Some British Members of Parliament had also attended the event at London, the sources said. On June 6, several Sikh leaders, including Manmohan Singh Khalsa of the Dal Khalsa International, had allegedly given a memorandum to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, urging him to change UK’s policy towards India.

In Germany, Sikh radical organisations such as Dal Khalsa International, Germany (DKI-G), Babbar Khalsa, Germany (BK-G), Shiromani Akali Dal, Amritsar, and Sikh Federation, Germany (SF-G), held a demonstration in front of the Consulate General of India at Frankfurt on June 6.

The speakers had appealed to the Sikh community to support the demand for Khalistan. Some of the speakers included Gurmeet Singh Khannian and Jatinder Bir Singh of the SF-G, Resham Singh Babbar, Satnam Singh Babbar, Kulwinder Singh Babbar alias Pabbian and Rajinder Singh Babbar of the BK-G, Sohan Singh Kang of the SAD (A) and Gurdeep Singh Pardesi of the DKI (G).

“There were about 10 persons from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, who were part of the demonstration. A young man from Kashmir named Irfan Wani had addressed the protesters and claimed that Kashmiris support the demand for Khalistan,” said the sources.

A similar demonstration was held at Trocadero, France, on June 7. Those who participated in the demonstration were Raghubir Singh Kohad of the International Sikh Youth Federation headed by Lakhbir Singh Rode, a nephew of Bhindranwale, Gurdial Singh of the United Sikhs and Satnam Singh Pataka, Basant Singh Panjitha of the All Babbar Khalsa International. The demonstration was headed by Chain Singh of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann Group).
Pak close to signing deal with Russia for Mi-35s
Islamabad, June 18
Pakistan is close to finalising a deal with Russia to buy Mi-35 (Hind E) attack helicopters, a sign of increasing defence ties between the Cold War-era adversaries.

The deal is believed to be signed after the conclusion of Army chief General Raheel Sharif's three-day visit to Moscow.

An agreement would be signed 'very soon', a Pakistan newspaper quoted a defence official as saying. The official, however, avoided disclosing when and where the deal would be inked and how many helicopters were being purchased. Pakistan had been pursuing the helicopter purchase deal since 2009.

The two countries had signed a bilateral defence cooperation agreement aimed at strengthening military-to-military relations in November last year.

The deal had to be followed by another 'technical cooperation agreement' to pave the way for sale of defence equipment to Pakistan. On the last day of his Moscow visit, General Sharif yesterday attended a meeting on the proposed technical accord.

Besides helicopters, Pakistan also appears interested in other Russian hardware.

The army chief spent about 15 hours during his trip at an arms expo near Moscow that featured Russia's cutting edge weapons and military equipment. He inspected not only the weapon systems on display but also saw their live demonstration.

Relations between the two countries are improving after 40-year of hostility during the Cold War in which Pakistan was in the anti-Soviet Union camp and had been instrumental in the Soviet pullout from Afghanistan in 1980s. — PTI
UK war game: 2 Indian Army men hurt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
An Indian Army officer and a jawan were seriously injured in an accident involving troop carrier vehicles of the British Armed Forces on Thursday evening in the United Kingdom. The two are from the Kumaon Regiment of the Army.

The accident took place while the Indian and British troops were returning from Salisbury Plains, near Westdown Camp, after the training. Army spokersperson Col Rohan Anand said: “Two soldiers of the Indian Army sustained leg fractures and minor injuries were suffered by some other soldiers”. Source said one of the injured required an amputation and that had been done.

The Indian troops are in the UK as a part of the exercise ‘Ajeya warrior’, which is being conducted from June 13 to June 28. A spokeswoman from South West Ambulance Service in the UK was quoted by news agencies, saying: “From our perspective, we have taken two patients with life-threatening injuries and flown them to Southampton... we have taken eight patients with serious injuries by road ambulance to Salisbury Hospital”.
Transfer of Technology in Defence
The fact that India’s defence industrial base has been lying largely defunct past several years needs no reiteration. The brightest spot in India undoubtedly has been ISRO. Indigenous development of weapons and weapon systems from the assault rifle, light machine guns, night vision devices, artillery, air defence, tanks, aircraft, UAVs, information systems have by and large been sad stories – either by way of quality, bulk foreign parts and assemblies though products are trumpeted indigenous manufacture, cost and time overruns etc.
The Tejas falls in the same category – bulk foreign parts. Much before he became President of India, Dr Abdul Kalam authored the book ‘Wings of Fire’ which brought out the voids India has in terms of technology, elucidating that these voids need to be bridged in order for India to becomea super power. Ironically, not much progress has been made in these spheres.

The corruption in defence is unending and without accountability because of intricate nexus involving all and sundry. That is why the CBI made little headway in scams like the Bofors, HDW Submarine, Barak Missiles, Denel, Eurocopter, Westland VVIP Helicopter, Tatra Trucks etc which ostensibly is labeled ‘due to lack of evidence’ but actually is so because many of those involved are not even questioned in the first place. Then the CAG and CGDA audit reports describe endemic corruption and lack of accountability in the DRDO-DPSUs-OF even as Joint Secretaries of Department of Defence Production (DoPD) are on the boards of all these organizations. As per recent media reports, the government is quite miffed with the lackadaisical functioning of DRDO and its 52 laboratories, often in the dock for its failure to deliver cutting-edge weaponry without huge time and cost overruns, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself warning the organization to fast shed its “Chalta Hai” attitude.

The change made at the top now is that a separate DRDO Chief and a separate Scientific Advisor (SA) to the Defence Minister has been appointed by splitting the erstwhile SA-cum-DRDO chief post. The idea is that the SA will provide an ‘independent mechanism’ to review and scrutinize DRDO’s functioning. How effective the new arrangement will be only time will tell considering the common DRDO background of both incumbents. The Prime Minister’s advice in August last year that at least five DRDO labs should be headed by scientists under the age of 35 to reinvigorate the organization is yet to be acted upon. Expansion of the DRDO is on the cards in accordance with the CCS note prepared on lines of the Rama Rao Committee (RRC) Report.

Most significantly, the RRC in 2008 had strongly recommended that the DRDO should focus only on 8 to 10 “critical technologies” of “strategic importance”. However, the DRDO still continues to make everything including dental implants and mosquito repellents. If this trend is allowed to continue and aggravated with the likely expansion of the DRDO, and DRDO continues to exercise ‘control’ over the private industry, advertently or inadvertently, through the surreptitious existing “through me” ploy, then it would be to the detriment to the endevour for plugging the technological gaps and forging ahead. DRDO, as the name applies, should be responsible only for research and development (R&D) not commercialization, which should be the forte of the private industry. Only then would we be able to bridge the yawning technological gap quickly. In all developed countries with modern armies, it is the private industry wich leades defence production.

The thrust on ‘Make in India’ must at least provide a level playing field for the private industry, focusing the DRDO on technological developments while the private industry should be charged with commercial production. Ironically along with a new Defence Technology Commission, a new commercial arm for DRDO is in the offing, whereas, the latter should have been the forte of the private industry. The new Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) should address these issues. More significantly, we must have a focused plan to develop and acquire new technologies, much of which is possible through joint ventures (JVs) and by taking the transfer of technology (ToT) route.

A recent example of this route is the Dhanush artillery gun which has cleared army trials and 114 of these guns ( six Artillery Regiments worth) are to be inducted over the next three years. The OFB has built the Dhanush from manufacturing blueprints of the Bofors guns given to India in 1986 as ToT. Though the ToT had been received three decades back and some 1000 guns were to be manufactured in India, everything went into cold storage for some three decades because of the Bofors Scandal. Even import of spare parts were frozen and during the Kargil Conflict just 100 Bofors guns could be made operational by cannibalizing the 400 such guns that had been imported. The OFB used the ToT of Bofors and also upgraded the gun from the FH-77’s original 39-calibre to a more robust 45-calibre howitzer, as the Dhanush.

There is no doubt that we need to develop new technologies indigenously; like the Rs 700 crore project for the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun (ATAG) where the DRDO is partnering L&T, Bharat Forge and Tata Power SED. At the same time, we have a long way to go in developing and networking required elements of national power, and developing futuristic technologies. We do not have the luxury of starting everything from the scratch. The Indian defence sector being vast, there is plenty enthusiasm for ‘Make in India’.

Given the right FDI and facilitating DPP, the defence-industrial sector can literally take off. One example is recent media reports that India and Israel have now virtually sealed the joint development of a mobile medium-range surface-to-air missile system (MRSAM) for the Indian Army. Unlike China, India has no embargo on sale of weapons or technology albeit China has been resorting to all possible means including physical theft, cyber espionage, spying, snooping, reverse engineering and exploiting dual use technology acquired against hefty payments to bypass curbs. The bottom-line for us is that while we focus on indigenous developments, we must exploit ToT through the JV route.

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