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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 20 Apr 2016

Military reforms in China
Gen V P Malik (retd)
India’s leadership needs to draw right lessons
All supreme leaders of China have either been generals or political entities in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). But unlike his predecessors, Xi Jinping has taken much greater interest in matters military. Within days of taking over, Xi made high-profile visits to many army, air force, space programme and missile command facilities. Speaking to sailors on board the Haikou, a guided-missile destroyer, he said that his dream was of China to become a strong nation, and added, “To achieve the great revival of the Chinese nation, we must ensure there is unison between a prosperous country and a strong military.”

Xi unveiled his plans to transform the PLA in the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on November 12, 2013. The first phase has been completed. The remaining changes are expected to be completed by 2021. The military reforms on the one hand are to transform the land-focused PLA into a well-trained, technologically capable, specialised force to meet the demands of the future battlefield. That would “lead to effective integration of the civil-military leadership, restructuring the military and its force level, and the teeth-to-tail ratio”. On the other hand, it involves some reshuffle of authority, aimed at enforcing discipline and getting a firmer grip on the military.

In recent years, several instances of corruption in the PLA have been reported in the Chinese media: the worst hit being the system of promotion. Two former vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission (CMC), Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, were arrested and imprisoned. According to reports, 47 PLA generals were investigated in 2015.  As one military expert noted, “If you have a military where you can buy positions, it doesn't matter if you have the best weapons in the world.”

The anti-corruption campaign needed to focus on the issues of military discipline, inspections, audit and an independent judicial supervision. A new Commission for Discipline Inspection is being set up under the CMC to ensure strict discipline within the PLA.

Xi has ordered the PLA to change its culture and adopt a style of frugality and austerity because ostentatious habits kill professionalism! “Ten Regulations on Improving the Work Style of the PLA” have formally banned liquor at PLA functions, forbade holding of big banquets and called on the PLA brass to adopt a simple style in their inspection tours. Senior officers have been told to spend two weeks on the frontline as enlisted soldiers. Regiment and brigade commanders will do this once in three years, the division and corps commanders once in four years, and higher leaders from higher headquarters once in five years.

More important changes are those related to the PLA command and control organisation, its employment and doctrine. In China, the CMC is the highest military body which exercises command and control over the PLA forces through four general departments-General Staff, Politics, Logistics, and Armament.  These departments are now to be replaced by 15 new departments, signalling a more direct control.

Earlier, the General Staff Department (GSD) was the number one organ of the armed forces, in charge of operations as well as intelligence.  It commanded the army, through which it controlled seven military regions across the country. The GSD has now become the Joint General Staff Department, to function purely as a staff organisation, similar to the joint chiefs of staff system of the USA.

The PLA ground forces will now become a separate service. This marks the reduction of the power of the ground forces but some improvement of command and control within the army. The erstwhile Second Artillery Corps in its new avatar will become the Rocket Force and will control all short, medium and long range ballistic missiles. The General Political Department has transferred control of the military legal system to the new Law Commission.

The General Armaments Department was responsible for developing military equipment and managing aviation units. The responsibility for development of new military equipment has now been distributed to the four armed forces.

A new Strategic Support Force (SSF) has been created to work on integrated air and aerospace developments and strategy. The SSF will be responsible for satellite positioning, communication, and remote sensing. The precise delineation of responsibilities between the SSF and the PLA Air Force is yet to be seen.

The existing Chinese command system involves seven Military Regions, headquartered in Shenyang, Beijing, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Lanzhou. The Military Region structure is being redrawn. Instead, Integrated Battle Zone commands with increased focus on combat will be established through joint operations command and ability. For a combat mission to be effectively executed, the commander of a battle zone has to be entrusted with the authority and discretion to mobilise troops within his area of responsibility. This will enhance overall joint operations capability of the forces involved and also improve development of joint as well as cross-region air and naval operations when required.

In the new set-up, the CMC will take direct charge of the administration of the PLA.  The 'CMC-battle zone-troops' system will ensure closer, more effective political leadership of the armed forces. The service headquarters of the army, air force, navy and the rocket force will be detached. Their task will be to provision and train their respective forces. 

The reforms envisage a cut of 300,000 personnel in the 2.3 million PLA forces. The idea is to 'remake the PLA from a man-power intensive force to a smaller, technologically able and mobile force capable of combat beyond its geographical borders'. The proportion and force structure of different forces will be streamlined ‘to suit new security needs and operations.’

The PLA transformation is in line with the current security concepts and trends. It reflects mission-oriented operational thinking, enhanced deterrence capability, and preparedness to play a role beyond geographic frontiers, when required.

In India, we had discussed such issues in the Group of Ministers (2002) and the Naresh Chandra Committee (2011-12), though not as comprehensively. But our political leadership, civil bureaucracy in the Ministry of Defence and the Service headquarters have managed to stall recommended reforms due to lack of military education and/or parochial interests.

The over-riding lesson that the Chinese process offers is the important role of political leadership in the military reform process. No transformative change can take place in the military of any society — democratic or authoritarian-without the direct involvement of the political class. As this important task can no longer be postponed in India, I hope that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who began his three-day visit to China on April 18, 2016, will find time to learn from the Chinese example.
Doval’s dangerous doctrine
Hasan Suroor
The “Doval doctrine” raises many worrying questions, especially when he pleads for an “integrated, synchronised” response to national security. It is a dangerous doctrine that has no place in a democracy with a long tradition of judicial fairplay.
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's hyperactive National Security Adviser Ajit Doval  gave what was innocuously described  as a “briefing” to the Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and other Supreme Court judges on the “internal and external security situation”.  A  “briefing”?  It sounded more like an indoctrination class for slightly dim pupils who had been upto mischief, and, worse, didn't seem to care about the consequences of their actions. Had they ever contemplated that they were undoing all the hard work the government was valiantly trying to do to protect the nation from its enemies within and across the border?

Officialese is good at sanitising language.  Which is why the bureaucracy  loves it. Thus, “briefing” has a nice neutral ring to it. But  in plain English, at least the “briefing” under discussion translates into something slightly more sinister.  It took place at a judges’ retreat at the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal last Friday. While such retreats have been held before this was  said to be the first time that the learned judges had the privilege of being lectured to by the PM’s intelligence top dog himself.  Details have not been officially disclosed,  but even sketchy media accounts are enough to cause concern about New Delhi’s approach to judiciary under an overrated intelligence chief whose sole achievement has been to ratchet up security threat perceptions and float half-baked counter-terror theories.

Let's see what Doval told the gathering. According to The Indian Express whose Saturday’s Delhi edition led with the story, he sought the  judges'  “cooperation” (or rather “more cooperation”) in securing the nation from its foes while cockily telling them to treat it as a “non-partisan issue”. Was he suggesting that the judiciary had been partisan?  He then urged judges to realise the importance of an “integrated and synchronised” approach to national security. Which seemed another way of saying that they were not pulling their full weight in assisting the government's (laudable) counter-terror efforts.  Shorn of the gloss, it was a shamelessly blatant stab at influencing   judiciary.

Now, calling for “more cooperation” from judges in “speeding up” the judicial system is an unexceptional sentiment if it is an argument for clearing up   judicial backlog. But if by “speeding up” Doval meant, as sceptics believe he did, that judges are guilty of holding up justice by allowing too many appeals by alleged terror suspects and interventions by human rights organisations then it is self-evidently problematic. For, in effect, he is questioning the very principle of natural justice and due processes of law in a democracy. It is a plea for courts to deny an accused their legitimate right to appeal against a verdict on valid legal grounds. Not to put too fine a point on it, it is a call for summary justice, the start of a slippery slope to kangaroo courts.

This impatience with  due processes — plus judicial activism  and pressures from an  increasingly assertive rights sector — is not unique to India. So-called “strong” governments around the world wish they had a magic wand to banish them so as to obtain instant judgements in their favour. The British government is forever railing against a generous judicial review regime that, it complains, is abused by too many people to avoid justice. But judges have held their ground arguing that an odd case of abuse  cannot become the basis for throwing away the baby with the bathtub. 

No doubt,  Indian judges too would stand up against any  bullying. Still,  the  “Doval doctrine” raises many worrying questions especially when he pleads for an “integrated, synchronised” response to national security. Because, sans the jargon, what it really envisages is a judiciary stripped of any pretence of independence; and wants it to be on the same page as the government when dealing with terror cases or those involving offences by security agencies. This is a dangerous doctrine that has no place in a democracy with a long tradition of judicial fairplay. Meanwhile, the very idea that a bureaucrat, no matter how close to the boss, is able to give such a patronising pep talk to the country’s  top judges  should send alarm bells ringing for anyone who cares for judicial  independence, especially at a time when most institutions are compromised. Doval's lecture — sorry “briefing” — was as much an assault on the integrity of the courts as it was an insult to the judges who had to sit through it; and I'm sure their Lordships wouldn't have been pleased.

 Doval's move follows a pattern. His own ultra-hawkish reputation apart, it is a logical culmination of the Modi government's cynical approach to institutional autonomy and dissent. After targeting universities,  cultural institutions, human rights organisations and  the bureaucracy it has now judiciary in its sights. However, this time it may not find it easy to get away with it.  It risks provoking a public backlash if it tries to mess with judiciary. Because it is the only  institution left that inspires public confidence and which people still trust. And they are not likely to tolerate any attempt to subvert it. Already,  rights activists are hopping mad and have called for judges to give them a  hearing also to get a more holistic sense  of the issues raised by Doval.  The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms (CJAR), a body of judges, lawyers and activists,  has written to the Chief Justice urging him to invite prominent independent lawyers and representatives of credible rights groups to hear their side of the story arguing that it is important for them not to be swayed by one-sided briefing.

The letter points out that “traditionally there has been a conflict between the perspectives offered by the security agencies and those that are offered by human rights organisations around the legitimacy of many actions of security agencies, some of which constitute a violation of human rights”.  According to senior SC lawyer and CJAR convener, Prashant Bhushan,  many such cases reach  the courts for adjudication, and they are obliged to hear both sides. It is, therefore,“inappropriate” for judges to be briefed only by the NSA without giving rights groups a chance  to offer an “alternative perspective” on how the actions of security agencies impact human rights. It is not without significance that Doval's intervention coincides with a spurt in cases in which security agencies in several states, notably  Jammu and Kashmir and Maoists' “Red Belt”,  are facing prosecution for alleged human rights violations. In the end, his sham “briefing” and rousing invocation of national security was simply a cover for bullying judiciary into going easy on his boys.
NIA team ready for Pak visit, set to send fresh LRs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 19
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is learnt to have readied its team that would visit Pakistan for its probe into the Pathankot airbase terror attack.

New Delhi would also be sending a fresh Letters Rogatory (LRs) to the neighbouring nation for confirmation on the evidences shared with the Pakistan JIT during their recent visit to India.

Indicating that a team was ready to travel to Pakistan with all possible proof against the handlers of the attack, including JeM chief Masood Azhar, NIA Director General Sharad Kumar said, “We are awaiting a clearance from Islamabad. We have handed over all documents sought by the JIT and I believe the evidence provided to Pakistan can stand scrutiny in any court of law internationally.”

The LRs are being despatched notwithstanding indications from the Pakistani side that it was not yet ready to receive Indian investigators.

The NIA has also put the pictures of the four dead terrorists on its official website and sought help from the general public to identify them. Sources in the NIA confirmed that the agency was flooded with emails, some of which originated from Pakistan, giving information about the attackers.

The agency, during its interaction with Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team, had sought details about the residences of the terrorists whose names had been shared with the visiting team. However, there was no response from Pakistan.
China firm on Azhar stand
Doval in Beijing to discuss boundary issue today
Beijing, April 19
China today maintained that its decision to block the bid to get JeM chief Masood Azhar banned by the UN was in accordance with “facts and relevant resolutions”, a statement that came a day after two senior Indian ministers raked up the issue with their Chinese counterparts.

China was in “sound communication” with all relevant parties, including the Indian side over the Azhar issue, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said ahead of the crucial boundary talks tomorrow between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi. Doval arrived in Beijing this evening.

As both External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar raised the Azhar issue strongly yesterday in their talks with their counterparts asking China to review its stand, Hua once again reiterated that Beijing’s decision was in accordance with “facts” and “relevant” UN resolutions.

“As for the listing matter, China has already expressed its position. We support the UN central coordinating role in the world campaign against terrorism and China has taken active part in the world cooperation against terrorism,” Hua said.

“We oppose double standards in counter-terrorism campaign. We have been dealing with the listing matter in accordance with the facts and relevant resolutions. We are also in sound communication with all relevant parties including the Indian side,” she said. China’s assertion came in the backdrop of Swaraj’s remarks at the Russia-India-China (RIC) foreign ministers meet in Moscow where she warned the international community of “serious consequences” if it continues to adopt “double standards” in dealing with terrorism.

China’s “hidden veto” in blocking India’s bid to get Azhar banned by the UN has cast a shadow on the Sino- India boundary talks beginning here tomorrow. While Swaraj raised the Azhar issue with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Moscow, Parrikar said he took up the matter with top defence officials yesterday. — PTI,-developed-by-GCF-Jabalpur,-to-be-inducted-in-Indian-Army-next-month.aspx
‘Dhanush-155’, developed by GCF Jabalpur, to be inducted in Indian Army next month
Longest surface-to-surface firing weapon ‘Dhanush – 155’ also called as Desi Bofors is likely to be inducted in the Indian Army by next month. Dhanush will be the first indigenous developed gun to be the part of Indian armed force after 32 years of Swedish Bofors gun that was inducted in 1984.

The 155mm/45-calibre Dhanush gun was indigenously developed by Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur in coordination with Weapons Development and Execution Team (W-DET), New Delhi that is the main user of Bofors. Union Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, in a recently held programme, has stated that the Desi Bofors ‘Dhanush’ gun will be inducted from Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and handed over to the Indian Army by next month to strengthen its artillery. Lieutenant General Ravi Thodge, Master General of Ordnance already inspected the preparations for production of Dhanush in GCF last month, while Chairman of OFB, Kolkata, A Prabhakaran will be arriving to visit GCF, on April 20 to take stock of the preparations for starting production of Dhanush.

“Dhanush-155 gun already accomplished comprehensive firing tests and satisfied the competent authorities. We are optimistic about out the induction of the indigenous gun by Ministry of Defence in the Indian Army, but any official notification is yet to be received in this regard,” said Sanjeev Shrivastava, Spokesman and Joint General Manager, GCF, Jabalpur.

While talking to ‘The Hitavada’, Shrivastava informed that the GCF is all set to start production of Dhanush with the green signal from higher authorities.

The gun was developed at the end of 2012, thereafter, it passed several clearances and firing tests in different torrential and extreme climatic conditions in Pokhran and Balasore firing ranges. The maiden indigenously developed towed artillery gun has longest strike range of around 38-40 kilometres.

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