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Friday, 19 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 19 Feb 2016

The Army is more than war ready
Today’s military leadership is better trained with vast professional experience comprising counter-insurgency operations and high-altitude warfare. The Army has trained with world armies and UN peace-keeping missions. So to say the Army cannot conceive a conventional war is a figment of the imagination.
On February 15, in these pages, Pravin Sawhney had argued (‘The Army is not war ready’) that the Indian Army was distracted from its ideal readiness for war. Lt-Gen(retd) RS Sujlana gives a contrary view.

A vast array of factors combine to ensure that an army is ready for war, but the tenacity of men and women who make up the force, their wherewithal and the will of the nation to war are the three main factors. Mr Sawhney has agreed that as the Army has not fought a conventional war after 1971 and has been involved in counter-insurgency operations (CI ops) for nearly a quarter century, the senior leadership of the Army cannot conceive the concept of  conventional war.

In addition, having erected a fence along the Line of Control (LC) to limit infiltration, the Army has developed an inbuilt Maginot Line, or defensive mentality which today denotes the physical, mental and psychological limit of war-fighting! He questions whether the Army wishes to be a glorified Para-Military Force (PMF). If this was not enough the article goes on to state, “that the people of India do not know what the Army is supposed to do”. When the word Army is used it is a direct reflection on the officers, JCOs and other ranks of the entire force. Thus, a brief examination of how the Army (and its’ men) have stood and will stand for the nation and the issues raised to assess how wrong the starting premise is follows.

The post-Independence military history bears testimony to the multi-tasking capability and true grit of the Army in handling crisis after crisis. Four months into freedom and the Army had a war at hand, the Indo-Pak War, 1947-48. The Army at that time was still reorganising itself, experience and numbers of military leaders were at a premium, but still the Army went forth to drive out the Pak intruders with tremendous credit. However, contrary to advice, the political leadership hurried into a ceasefire under the aegis of the UN, eluding a total victory. The political leadership still did not feel the necessity of strengthening the armed forces (opining that the nation could well do with just a police force). A laissez-faire attitude continued and as it cuddled up to China, no effort was made to rejuvenate the armed forces. This flawed policy saw the heart-breaking outcome of the 1962 War with China. The Army was ordered to throw out the Chinese. With what? No one could answer. Even the Air Force was kept out of action. But still, the Army fought resiliently and valiantly with archaic weapons, limited ammunition sans winter clothing to name a few; the war was lost but the enemy could not break the spirit of the Army. After this debacle, the Army started to expand in 1963. The Army's tryst with counter-insurgency operations had already begun in Nagaland. In the midst of this expansion and training of new units, the Army (and the Air Force) fought the Indo-Pak War of 1965, defeating a Pakistan Army equipped with latest weapons (like the famous Patton tanks and Sabre Jets) and drove them to dust. However, the political leadership was again found wanting and all captured areas were returned to Pak without weighing their strategic significance. Something similar seems to be brewing up now with calls of pulling back from an expensive battleground — the Siachen Glacier. Guess, some people will never understand strategic concerns. In the ensuing six years, the Army's involvement in CI in the North-East had increased manifold but come the 1971 War, the Army amazed the world with their blitzkrieg historic victory. The political leadership again failed to garner any leverage; over 90,000 Pak prisoners were returned without resolving any issue; rather the enemy played truant and retained 54 of our prisoners who never returned home. Today, they are totally forgotten by the nation. In construing the traits of the present lot of senior officers, it hints that they lack the offensive spirit. Far from the truth as this obviously implies that the resilience, offensive spirit, camaraderie and the will to fight and win is not required in battling at the highest battlefield in the world at Siachen (since 1984) and CI ops, as this is where the Army has fought continuously post- the 1971 War. How very wrong can they be, inherent in such ops are not only these traits but much more. If this was not so, Col Gurung, Commanding Officer, 19 Madras, with the unstinted support of his seniors, would not have personally directed the super-human effort to pull out his 10 men from below tonnes of snow at the staggering height of 20,000 feet. This included one still alive, the now-legendary Hanumanthappa. Does anything more need to be said about the required traits which made this happen and the officer-man relationship in the Army? Forgotten, perhaps, is also the victory in the 1998 Kargil War, where it was all blood, guts and offensive actions. Ironically, here too, the soldiers carried the day and fought with “whatever they had” in the words of General Ved Malik, the then Army Chief. Are the LC Fence and the Maginot line the same? Definitely no, their aims are/were poles apart. Let not the LC Fence be confused to be a part of the conventional defensive concept. Moreover, wherever there is an obstacle (like a minefield or wire obstacle) offensive plans exist to strike the enemy. So has this created a defensive mindset? The answer is again, “no.” Needless to say, the cost-effectiveness of the fence is indeed debatable. 

Yes, without doubt there are large deficiencies in arms and equipment and these continue to grow by the day. These telling deficiencies are likely to continue in the near future, with the defence budget at an abysmal 1.74 of the GDP, almost at the same level as it was prior to the 1962 conflict.  The political leadership has to come out of the proverbial ostrich syndrome and show predilection for the armed forces and provide them not only the required wherewithal, but ensure their rightful status, dignity, pay and allowances. The Army can well do without being involved in CI ops, but to say that the Army is only training for CI ops is remissness. Regular and appropriate time is being spent on conventional roles, rather even in Jammu and Kashmir, the troops deployed along the LC on defensive positions remain acquainted with their conventional role which does have its' fair share of offensive action plans. With regard to offensive actions like hitting terrorist camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, it is for the government to decide and direct the Army to implement. Will the Government's real politik allow this? It is not for the Army to decide.

Criticism is important but when someone decides to outrightly condemn the Army or any other organisation, there is a need to balance out views. At the risk of being branded intolerant, some censorship is warranted. The Army is physically, mentally and psychologically prepared to fulfil its roles and offensive soldiering is their forte'! Let there be no doubt about their fighting competence.
Stay indoors during gunfight, says advisory
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 18
In the wake of three civilian killings after gunfights in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district this year so far, the police have issued an advisory for the local population and asked them to stay indoors during gunfights.

“In case an encounter starts anywhere, residents of the area within a radius of 2 km should stay inside their homes and not venture out as any stray bullet can hit them and cause damage. The residents are requested not to come out of their houses or peep out of windowpanes,” said a police spokesman.

Two students, Shaista Hameed and Danish Rasheed, were killed on Sunday after security forces allegedly opened fire during clashes with protesters at Lelhar Kakapora in Pulwama, 23 km from here.

The two civilians died after the killing of a local Lashkar-e-Toiba militant, Adil Shergojri, alias Abu Bakar, in a gunfight. Nearly a dozen other civilians were injured in clashes after the gunfight.

The killing of the two civilians sparked fresh tension in the Valley and the authorities had to impose curfew-like restrictions in many parts of Kashmir to restrict protests from spreading.

Governor NN Vohra, during a security review meeting in Srinagar on February 16, directed the Director General of Police to hold discussions with security forces to evolve a standard drill to be followed before and after operations against militants.

The advisory asked people, particularly parents of young adults, not to allow their wards to move towards the encounter site. “In case they are outside home, they should be called home,” it read. The advisory pointed out that as Section 144 of the CrPC immediately came into force at and around an encounter site, the elders, chowkidars and village headmen were requested to advise people to stay away from encounter site.

“Every person of the area should ensure that they stay at least 2 km away from an encounter site so that they do not fell prey to a stray bullet,” the spokesman said. It asked people not to rush towards the encounter site once it ended as there were chances of unexploded grenades and explosives lying there.

“People should ensure that the encounter site and the area around it was properly sanitised by the police or any other security agency before they came near it,” the spokesman said.

A police officer in south Kashmir said people indulged in stone throwing near the encounter sites to help militants escape the cordon.
‘Make in India’ F-16 jets soon
US fighter jet maker Lockheed Martin ready to manufacture aircraft in India
Singapore, February 18
US fighter jet maker Lockheed Martin today said it is ready to manufacture F-16 aircraft in India and supports the ongoing talks between the two countries to set up the first manufacturing facility, which could be one of the largest projects under the 'Make in India' initiative.

"We are ready to manufacture F-16 in India and support the Make in India initiative," Phil Shaw, chief executive of Lockheed Martin India Private Ltd told reporters at the Singapore Airshow 2016.

But the American corporation's executive did not commit any time-frame to have the plant operational, saying the group supports the ongoing government-to-government talks. Currently, Lockheed Martin manufactures one jet a month from its plant in the US and has a series of contracts and joint ventures in India with over 1,000 employees.

It has supplied six C130J Super Hercules planes to India in 2011 and will be delivering another six helicopters next year.

Industry observers said Lockheed Martin's "wish to manufacture F-16 is based on the strong demand from the Indian armed forces and would want to lower the cost of the planes for exports by using the low-cost capability in India".

"Certainly, Lockheed Martin would want to exploit the engineering skill and low cost capabilities in India and make F-16 very competitive in the fighter jet markets," a source said.

"Both the US government and Lockheed Martin see the advantage of placing a manufacturing base in India and make F-16 affordable for emerging markets," the source said.

The making of F-16, which will be among the largest projects under the Make in India initiative, will be conditional to the Indian government making contractual commitment to buy the fighter jets for its armed forces, said the source. "Washington, in return, would ensure technology transfer to the Indian engineering sector and a huge boost to Indian exports," he said.

If the two governments reach an agreement this year or 2017, putting aside all differences on the mega project and the US' move to supply eight F-16 to Pakistan, Lockheed Martin could roll out the first made in India jet in 2019-2020, said the source. — PTI
Pak to ‘shore up’ military infra in Gilgit-Baltistan
Islamabad, February 18
Pakistan is planning to set up a brigade-level military infrastructure in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to provide security to its ambitious $46 billion economic corridor with China passing through the strategic region.

A substantial piece of land is being allocated to Pakistan Army in Diamer district of the region so that it can set up "headquarters" and ensure security for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Express Tribune reported.

The site is situated in Thak Das, a barren piece of land near Chilas, where a brigade (5,000 personnel) will be stationed, the daily said.

"The army will make its headquarters in Thak Das, this will help provide security to CPEC installations," Diamer district Deputy Commissioner Usman Ahmad was quoted as saying.

Another official told the daily that the army will soon take over the land formally and start work immediately so it can assume responsibilities. The strategic region in the north, which provides the only vital link with China, is on the key route of the CPEC.

The CPEC will link China's underdeveloped far-western region to Pakistan's Gwadar deep-sea port on the Arabian Sea via PoK through a massive and complex network of roads, railways, business zones, energy schemes and pipeline.

There are also reports that Pakistan is planning to upgrade the status of the Gilgit-Baltistan to bring it almost at par with the status of its provinces. — PTI
Godman plays martyr, says ‘I love, revere Indian army’
Nithyananda disowns video in which he was seen equating soldiers' deaths to suicide or murder, claiming it is the handiwork of 'anti-Hindu forces'

Paramahamsa Nithyananda has disowned the video in which he is shown equating soldiers dying for their country as 'suicide' victims and killing enemy soldiers as 'murder'. In the video, Nithyananda is shown sermonising that soldiers would suffer the same fate as those committing murder and committing suicide in afterlife.

A day after Bangalore Mirror published his comments in the article titled Died fighting for nation? Godman predicts a 'terrorised' afterlife, Nithyananda's ashram said the video was manipulated to tarnish his image. The original video link on YouTube now shows a message that reads "the video has been removed by the user".

Ma Nitya Achalananda, a spokesperson for the ashram, said, "The said video was by someone who is against Paramahamsa Nithyananda's attempts to revive India to its original glory. It is a manipulated video and it is not on our official channel. Someone had uploaded it in our name. If it was ours why would we remove it?"

She said, "Since he (Nithyananda) is a leader of Hinduism, there are multiple sources out to destroy him and provoke people to make him look like an anti-national.

There are two to three other similar videos trying to create a wrong impression about him. But I can send you hundreds of links to videos where he expresses his love, respect for India, its army and Constitution. The fake video is not in sync with his real thoughts."

It is all a conspiracy

A new video of Nithyananda titled, Clarification of Paramahamsa Nithyananda's Comments on the Army has been issued by his ashram on Thursday and is on the Nithyananda YouTube channel.

In the new video, Nithyananda says, "Namaste. Some sections of media is tyring to create a controversy saying that I spoke something against Indian Army... some ideas being... cooked up. I just wanted to make my clarification very clearly. I have high regard for India, Indian Constitution and Indian Army. Especially Indian Army, I have a high respect, reverence for Indian Army. Because of Indian Army we are all safe, we are all protected, we are living peaceful life. I neither spoke anything against Indian Army or against our country. I am trying to clarify. I am basically a nationalist."

He hold forth further on the subject, "I support Indian Army in every possible way, with my love, respect, reverence. I wanted to clear this controversy once for all. There are some vested interests, anti-Hindu forces, constantly trying to create controversies around, misquoting, misusing, abusing my words. So here I am giving you clarification once for all, ending this controversy, I am completely in love and in reverence with India and Indian Army." He ends the section with: "I am very clear, I respect, love, revere Indian Army. Thank you."

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