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Monday, 18 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 18 Apr 2016

US, Russia spar over military matters again
Washington, April 17
A US Air Force reconnaissance plane was barrel-rolled by a Russian SU-27 fighter jet in an “unsafe and unprofessional” manner during a routine flight in international airspace, American officials said today, exacerbating tensions between the rival powers.

The incident on Thursday occurred when a Russian jet “performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers” as it flew within 50 feet of the US aircraft’s wing tip over the Baltic Sea, a spokesman for European Command said.

He said the US plane never entered Russian territory.

This encounter comes just days after the US Embassy in Moscow issued formal concerns over Russian fighter jets flying very close to the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea this week. Close encounters between Russian military aircraft and US warships have become increasing common in recent months.  — PTI
An unequal agreement
M. K. Bhadrakumar
Modi govt’s comprador mentality is intriguing
The Narendra Modi government appears to have taken two steps forward and one step back with regard to the signing of the 'foundational agreements', which the United States has been pressing for since 2004. One of the three - Logistics Exchange Memorandum Agreement (LEMA) - has been "agreed in principle" during the visit by US Defence Secretary Aston Carter, but for some incomprehensible reason deferred by a "few weeks" or a "few months" for the actual signatures.

Typically, the Modi government has not cared to consider public opinion - although this would be a landmark event, since the pact will give the US forces access to Indian military bases, which signifies a great leap forward in independent India's foreign and security policy doctrines.

What necessitates this breath-taking leap of faith at the present juncture remains unclear. The previous UPA government had profound reservations about signing the foundational agreements, as they'd erode India's strategic autonomy and adversely affect its independent foreign policies. The LEMA remains an unequal pact insofar as India is not a global power, it does not have an interventionist agenda abroad and has no need to access US military bases for logistics, and, of course, none of the friendly countries with which India holds military exercises ever demanded such pacts as an underpinning of cooperation.

The perception will arise in the region and beyond that India has shed its traditional aversion to military alliances and non-aligned policies and proposes to bandwagon with the US. Such a perception does not do India good. Specifically, the perception that India is drifting into an alliance with the US will generate apprehensions in the Russian mind about defence cooperation with India. Russia has been and continues to be the principal source of cutting-edge military technology for the Indian armed forces. Despite the high-sounding rhetoric of the US-Indian Defence Technology and Trade Initiative and 'Make in India', the ground reality is that so far what has happened under these rubrics is, plainly put, zilch. Mr. Carter's visit did not result in a single major project actually taking off.

On the other hand, the US has openly sought to get India on board its so-called 'rebalance' in Asia. With a view to countering China's rise, the US proposes to create an alliance system in Asia - an 'Asian NATO' - in which it envisages a pivotal role for India, alongside Japan and Australia. The US game plan is to co-opt India into an alliance system based on the 'interoperability' of the armed forces which of course will demand the use of similar weapon systems. Within the NATO system, what the US ensures is that the 'interoperability' requires extensive use of US-made weapons, which in turn cements Washington's trans-Atlantic leadership role in decision-making on all political and military issues.

In the Indian context, a prime US motive will be to erode the Indo-Russian strategic partnership. The 'isolation' of Russia is a major global objective of the US. On the contrary, any atrophying of strategic ties with Russia is fraught with serious consequences for India's long-term interests as an emerging power in a multipolar world order. India has shared interests with Russia within the ambit of BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

Equally, any close identification with the US' rebalance strategy in Asia can create serious complications and distrust between India and China. The point is, India is not seeking confrontation with China. Its focus is on normalising the relations with China through a steady process at the bilateral level. Indeed, the UPA government achieved remarkable success in this direction. An intensive dialogue at the top levels of leadership became a regular feature of our diplomacy and the two countries were able to reach a point where they agreed that they had much more in common by way of shared interests than the differences that might keep them apart. Unfortunately, the Modi government has not kept up the UPA's momentum of high-level dialogue.

Added to this, if India gravitates toward the US-sponsored alliance system to counter China, the delicate equilibrium in the Sino-Indian normalisation process is sure to get affected. It stands to reason that India's long term advantage lies in developing a new type of relationship with China based on equality, mutual respect, and balanced interests. At the end of the day, China remains a unique - even irreplaceable - source of investment and trade for India's development in the short and medium term, and nothing should be allowed to jeopardise it.

What explains the Modi government's reticence about signing the LEMA during Mr. Carter's visit? The only plausible explanation could be that the government is hard-pressed to explain how this paradigm shift in post-independent India's foreign and security policies is justifiable or is in the national interest. The nervousness hides a guilty conscience that without taking recourse to public discussions over the pros and cons of such a major policy shift and lacking a national consensus in the matter, the country is being hustled to go in this direction. A healthy democratic practice demands that the relevant issues in such a policy matter are debated in Parliament even if the LEMA is not a treaty that requires ratification. This was the course taken by the UPA government while concluding the India-US civil nuclear agreement in 2008. 

The shocking thing in all this is that the Modi government stands on a platform of strident nationalism. The Sangh Parivar, which mentors the government, even claims monopoly to judge what is 'anti-national' on university campuses. And yet in this case the RSS in particular is betraying a comprador mentality by making India a junior partner to the US for reasons best known to it. The doublespeak is simply stunning. What explains such extreme vulnerability to US pressure? If the US expects them to bend, our hollow men are only too willing to crawl. What is their Achilles' heel? Their strident nationalism smacks of hypocrisy..
Indian Army's firing exercise 'Shatrujeet' enters its last phase
aisalmer: With about 30,000 soldiers in action, the Indian Army is conducting a major exercise 'Shatrujeet' by the elite Mathura-based Strike Corp in desert area of Mahajan field firing range of Rajasthan, wherein the capability to strike, deep into the enemy territory in an integrated air-land battle environment is being evaluated. Now, this exercise is in the last phase and next week on April 22, army chief D S Suhag is likely to come and review the exercise.

The operationally-oriented exercise is focusing on validating integrated theatre battle fighting concept by incorporating new age technologies, weapon platforms and systems as well as long-range precision targeting vectors. Mathura Strike Crops' Core Commander Lt Gen Shaukin Chauhan on Saturday reviewed integrated operational manoeuvres, including insertion of heliborne and airborne activity.

The focus of the exercise is to achieve joint and seamless coordination among all the forces in a nuclear biological chemical warfare scenario so as to deliver the enemy, a lethal punch with full might at a lightening speed. In order to achieve this aim, high-end technology and all the latest multi-dimensional modern weaponry at the disposal of the armed forces is being utilised. In the last decade or so, there has been a paradigm shift in India's offensive doctrine and capability and such exercises are undertaken regularly by the Army to train its troops in their offensive role and weapon usage.

In the changing scenario, the Indian Army looking to the increasing new challenges across the border, is trying to make its war talent strong and better in short notice time especially in the context of fighting war in desert.
Lethality and might of Indian Army with Indian Air Force was fully on display in this exercise. Most modern equipment in the inventory of the Indian Army fired with precision in cohesion with each other with the main attraction being T-90 tanks, which are counted amongst the most technologically advanced tanks in the world. The tanks are capable of firing a variety of ammunition and missiles with sharp accuracy both by day as well as night.

Defence spokesman Manish Ojha said that Indian Army undertakes such exercises at regular intervals at different levels to ensure forces are provided real war-like situations and are kept in high state of battle readiness. The formation and units have been undergoing operation-oriented training for past two months. Post-preparatory training manoeuvres at subordinate units and formation level, the Strike 1 is now poised to conduct integrated operational manoeuvres to validate its operational plans in simulated high tempo battlefield environment and terrain.
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Indian Army chief Singh visits Kashmir to assess security situation
Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh on Sunday visited Jammu and Kashmir where he met senior commanders amid fresh bouts of violence in the state that have left five civilians dead.

Army spokesperson Colonel SD Goswami said the chief met commanders of the 14, 15 and 16 Corps at Northern Command headquarters at Udhampur near here “to take stock of the situation” in the state following deaths of civilians in alleged firing by army men in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

The general arrived on a day-long visit to the state.

The Kashmir Valley has been on the boil since Tuesday after the death of at least five civilians in clashes with security forces.

The trouble began after rumors that a soldier molested a college girl in Handwara of the border district.
Indian Army Test Its Operation Abilities

The Indian Army is currently conducting a major exercise in the deserts of the western state of Rajasthan to test its operation capabilities during a battle.
The military exercise, titled Shatrujeet, is being undertaken by the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradeshs elite Mathura-based Strike 1 corps, the Indian Defense Ministry said.
The exercise is focusing on “validating integrated battle theatre fighting concept” incorporating new-age technologies, weapon platforms and systems as well as long range precision targeting vectors, Indian Defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha told the media Saturday.

In fact, the Indian Army regularly conducts such exercises to evaluate its operation capabilities during a war with the enemy.

The exercise will continue till April 23.

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