Archive for August, 2014

New Delhi: The Defence Ministry will decide the fate of the controversial Rs 6,000 crore deal to procure 197 light choppers which has been on hold due to an ongoing CBI probe into charges that a Brigadier had sought bribe from AgustaWestland to help it bag the contract.

 
During a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) scheduled this week, the Defence Ministry will also discuss deals worth around Rs 15,000 crore for procuring Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavylift choppers for the IAF from the US, Defence Ministry officials said.

The DAC, headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, is scheduled to take up the deal for discussion in its meeting where it is expected to decide its fate, they said.

The 197 light utility choppers are to be procured for the Army and the IAF who use them for ferrying troops and supplies in high altitude areas such as Siachen Glacier and would be used to replace the vintage Cheetah/Chetak choppers which were inducted 40 years ago.

CBI has been probing allegations against the Brigadier which surfaced during investigations into the VVIP chopper deal about the alleged involvement of AgustaWestland in paying kickbacks to secure the Indian contract for 12 VVIP choppers.

CBI probe was ordered by the Defence Ministry after the Army requested it to investigate the charges against the Brigadier before taking any decision on the future developments in the deal.

Allegations have been levelled against the Brigadier in a letter allegedly sent by an AgustaWestland official in India to his superiors in Italy saying the officer was seeking USD 5 million for facilitating the deal in their favour.

Only two firms European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov are left in the race for the deal to supply 197 light choppers to the Army and the IAF as AgustaWestland was knocked out of the deal in the preliminary stages itself.

The deal for procuring 197 light choppers has already been cancelled once in 2007 in the last stages. The Brigadier has denied the charges made against him.

 

Source : Zee News

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NEW DELHI: India will not ink fresh arms deals with Finmeccanica, if other armament companies can provide the same equipment, but will allow ongoing contracts with the Italian conglomerate to continue unhindered.

 
This “partial ban” — instead of what could have been a “complete” one — was officially notified by the defence ministry on Tuesday. It will come as “a major breather” for Finmeccanica, all dealings with which were earlier put on hold after its UK-based subsidiary AgustaWestland got enmeshed in the infamous VVIP helicopter kickbacks case. 

It also marks a shift from the earlier UPA era, under A K Antony as defence minister, where there was “indiscriminate blacklisting” of armament companies after allegations of corruption and bribery. “It often proved counter-productive. The aim now is not to block military acquisitions and spares, even as any wrongdoing is punished,” said an official. 

This is the second such case after the Narendra Modi government ruled out blacklisting of global engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, which too is under CBI scanner for allegedly employing agents, on the grounds of “operational urgency and national security”. 

As was first reported by TOI on August 7, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi had advised the MoD that a complete ban or blacklisting of the entire Finmeccanica group, which produces warship guns and torpedoes to helicopters and radars, would jeopardize the battle-readiness of the armed forces.

On Tuesday, the MoD issued a graded set of guidelines for dealings with Finmeccanica: 

* It will go ahead with all contracts under execution. Contracts already executed but requiring supply of spares and upgrades on a regular basis will also continue. This means ongoing contracts for manufacture of 76mm warship guns by BHEL under licence from Otomelara, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, as well as those for Selex radars and electronic systems will continue. 

* Contracts where any Finmeccanica company is a sub-contractor or supplier to the main contractor will also continue. So, Russian upgrades of the Kamov-28 anti-submarine helicopters, where a Finmeccanica company is a supplier, will go-ahead. 

* All acquisition cases where Finmeccanica has been declared L-1 (lowest bidder) after competition shall be put on hold till further orders. A special exception for the Rs 1,800 crore project to buy 98 ‘Black Shark’ heavyweight torpedoes for the Scorpene submarines being constructed at Mazagon Docks is likely to be done. 

* In an ongoing tender process, in which L-1 has not been declared, Finmeccanica may not be considered if other vendors are available. But Finmeccanica may remain in the fray to supply naval multi-role helicopters to avoid a single-vendor situation. 

* A fresh tender or RFP (request for proposal) will not be issued to Finmeccanica if there are other vendors which can provide the same equipment or system. This could rule out Otomelara from participating in the new project for heavy 127mm guns India is now looking for new warships. 

As earlier reported by TOI, one estimate holds Finmeccanica, apart from ongoing contracts like the supply of Selex radars or Otomelara naval guns, is in contention for Indian military contracts worth over $6 billion. 

The crucial ones include the Rs 1,800 crore project to buy 98 ‘Black Shark’ heavyweight torpedoes, manufactured by another Finmeccanica subsidiary Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquel (WASS) for the six Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai. 

Another case is for the procurement of naval multi-role helicopters (MRHs), with the contenders being European NH-90 choppers, which have Finmeccanica as a partner, and the American Sikorsky-70B choppers. The first contract for the 16 MRHs is to be followed by a bigger one for 123 helicopters at a cost of over $3 billion.

 

Source : TNN

NEW DELHI: Three consecutive weeks and three different destinations. India’s Look East Policy is gaining fast momentum under the BJP-led NDA government. After her visits to Myanmar, followed by Singapore and current to Vietnam Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is opening new vistas of cooperation with the ASEAN countries both in strategic as well as in economic spheres. 
 
Vietnam has been Delhi’s key defence and strategic partner in the region with whom relations have grown away from the public glare. Swaraj’s visit would not only prepare for President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Vietnam from September 14-17 followed by their PM Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to India in October, official sources told ET.

It is not often that Indian President visits one country and its PM comes calling to India in back to back months and this shows significance of growing strategic partnership amid regional tensions following China’s claim in the South China Sea region, experts indicated.

A major defence deal is in offing when Mukherjee visits Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, sources said, adding, India has been a key defence hardware partner for Vietnam in naval equipment.

As both countries have been using Russian military platform for decades India and Vietnam complement each other on matters of training and spare parts. Vietnam is also seeking to import Brahmos missiles jointly manufactured by India and Russia.

Sources told ET from Hanoi that Sushma told PM Dung during her meeting today that India appreciated Vietnam’s security and national defence capabilities and expects to become its partner in this regard. It may be recalled that Indian Navy ships recently made a port call on Vietnam’s port on their way back from India-US-Japan trilateral exercise off the coast of Japan.

The meeting also focused on doubling or tripling trade between the two countries, conclude the negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement, and launch a direct air route in the near future. Indian firms also have an interest in investing in infrastructure and signing deals with Vietnamese producers of corn and rice, as well as pangasius farming enterprises.

major-defence-deal-with-vietnam-in-offing-as-india-looks-to-firm-up-ties-with-key-defence-partner
On South China Sea dispute, Swaraj quoted from at the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Myanmar where India opposed the use and threat to use force in international disputes while supporting the peaceful settlement of disputes in line with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Vietnam is also emerging as a supplier of hydrocarbon for India. Ahead of Swaraj’s visit, Hanoi renewed India’s lease of two oil blocks in the South China Sea for another year. India had decided to continue in off-shore oil blocks offered by Vietnam in the South China Sea region notwithstanding pressure from China.

The oil blocks are located in Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the region that is disputed by China. There was flare up between Beijing and Hanoi when China put a mobile oil-rig in the area this May. It was however, later withdrawn following protests and anti-China riots in Vietnam.
 
 
 
Meanwhile addressing a the 3rd Roundtable of the ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks also in Hanoi, Swaraj today emphasized the importance of the ‘C’ of connectivity to the five Ts that the Government of India is pursuing – Tradition, Talent, Tourism, Trade and Technology to cement ties with the region.

 Source : Economics Times

India is building a new 620-billion-rupee (US$10 billion) mountain strike corps to counter China along the China-India border in the northeastern part of the country, according to a report from the New Delhi-based Hindustan Times.

The report said General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army, is set to visit theKolkata-based Eastern Command before the end of the month to track the progress of the new 17 Corps, which is being set up to counter China’s reconnaissance and intelligence along the 4,057-kilometer Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries. The corps is likely to be operational by 2022, the report said, adding that it is expected to reduce China’s combat power advantage over India from the current ratio of 3:1 to 2.1:1.

Singh, who recently completed a tour along the the disputed LAC in the sensitive Ladakh area of India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, has also served as an inspector general in a covert China-centric unit comprising Tibetan soldiers called the Special Frontier Force, the report added.

Additionally, India is seeking greater opportunities for defense cooperation with the US in the development and production of modern weapons systems, the report said, though plans to buy 145 BAE Systems M777 ultra-light howitzers from the US for the 17 Corps have stagnated due to the high cost.

The Tribune, another English-language Indian daily newspaper, has also reported that India is ramping up military defenses in Jammu and Kashmir after Beijing “ringed the area” with six airfields, fighter jets and special forces. As part of the movie, New Delhi will reportedly move an armored brigade of 150 T-72 tanks to Ladakh and deploy Smerch multi-barrel rocket launch units — which are capable of hitting targets 70-80km away — at key locations.

The Indian media reports were published shortly before new claims that Chinese troops crossed what New Delhi perceived to be its side of the LAC before entering 25-30km deep into in Burtse area of north Ladakh on Sunday. India reportedly despatched a quick reaction team to the site but the Chinese troops refused to budge. A spokesperson from the Indian army downplayed the incident by saying that there are areas along the border where India and China have differing perceptions of the LAC.

Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told China’s nationalistic tabloid Global Times that India’s bolstering of defenses along border comes as no surprise. Due to significant differences in perception over the LAC, Chinese and Indian troops have had many confrontations in the area in the past, Zhao said, though it is clear that recent actions from New Delhi are not in the interests of Sino-India relations.

In a groundbreaking move that will send a strong signal to China, India and Japan have firmed up their first ever defence cooperation agreement and it is expected to be signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit next month.

 
It’s reliably learnt that the agreement is ready for the Union Cabinet to take it up for approval next week. Sources said Japan too is in the process of completing its own internal formalities ahead of the visit in the first week of September.

This will be a historic step for Japan as it will be signing its first such agreement outside its traditional alliance partners US, Australia and Britain. The decision in itself reflects Japan’s changed interpretation of its pacifist constitution.

The pact, which is essentially a MoU on defence cooperation and exchanges, sets a framework for engagement, including in equipment purchase and production. Both countries have been engaged in conversations on such issues through a dialogue of senior officials and an agreement now provides a firm basis to the initiative of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his last term.

Under this framework, sources said, the two sides will look to expand the scope of their joint exercises. India is still to take a call on whether it wants to conduct land- and air-based exercises with Japan keeping in view the levels to which China could be provoked.

Much of this flows from Abe’s initiative to challenge the traditional interpretation of the Japanese constitution through a historic cabinet decision in July, which recognised Japan’s right to collective self-defence. This opened up possibilities for Japan to enter into defence arrangements with other key partners and also expand its equipment manufacturing potential.

The Japanese government views this as a natural response to the deteriorating security environment in its region, the constant stand-offs with China over the Senkaku Islands and the growing Chinese military might that has upset the balance of power in East Asia.

In recent years, Japan has established trilateral dialogues, involving the United States, with different countries. Its growing assertiveness has evoked counter-reactions from China, giving tense moments to other countries in the region.

For India, however, the challenge is to keep the balance in its favour. It may be noted that within two weeks of his return from Japan, Modi is due to host Chinese President Xi Jinping in India, where again key strategic issues will be on the table.

(Reuters) – Some of India’s biggest companies are pouring billions of dollars into manufacturing guns, ships and tanks for the country’s military, buoyed by the new government’s commitment to upgrade its armed forces using domestic factories.

 
India, the world’s largest arms importer, will spend $250 billion in the next decade on kit, analysts estimate, to upgrade its Soviet-era military and narrow the gap with China, which spends $120 billion a year on defence.

Under the last government, procurement delays and a spate of operational accidents – especially dogging the navy – raised uncomfortable questions over whether India’s armed forces are capable of defending its sea lanes and borders.

Even before his landslide election victory in May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to assert India’s military prowess and meet the security challenge posed by a rising China and long-running tensions with Pakistan.

Within weeks of becoming prime minister, he boosted defence spending by 12 percent to around $37 billion for the current fiscal year and approved plans to allow more foreign investment into local industry to jump-start production.

Launching a new, Indian-built naval destroyer last week, Modi said: “My government has taken important steps in improving indigenous defence technology … We can guarantee peace if our military is modernised.”

This build-up comes as Southeast Asian nations expand their own defence industries, spurred by tensions with China. India, reliant on a state defence industry that often delivers late and over budget, risks being caught flat-footed.

“The opportunity is huge,” said M.V. Kotwal, president (Heavy Engineering) at Larsen and Toubro Ltd, one of India’s biggest industrial houses.

“We really expect quicker implementation. There are signs that this government is very keen to grow indigenisation,” added Kotwal, referring to increasing domestic production.

Tata Sons, a $100 billion conglomerate, said last month it will invest $35 billion in the next three years to expand into new areas with a focus on a handful of sectors including defence.

Larsen is putting $400 million into a yard to build ships for the navy, while Mumbai-based Mahindra Group is expanding a facility that makes parts for planes, including for the air force, and investing in armoured vehicle and radar production.

The companies are being lured by the prospect of lucrative returns on their investments as the Modi government has pledged to make “buy Indian” the default option for future orders.

Larsen is targeting a fourfold increase in annual defence revenue to $1 billion within the next five years.

Critics of indigenisation argue that producing gear – especially in the lumbering state sector – is more costly than buying from abroad. Such deals can add layers of bureaucracy, increasing risks of corrupt dealings.

Indian industry is renowned for its ability to adapt, yet questions remain whether the private sector can come up with the solutions needed to bring armed forces into the 21st century without sufficient access to world-class foreign technology.

DELAYS

Some companies are also sceptical of the government’s commitment to grow the private market given New Delhi’s history of delays and order cancellations, and the traditionally strong ties between the military and state-run manufacturers.

They cite the case of a $10 billion Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programme. Conceived in 2009, the defence ministry invited three private players and the Ordnance Factory Board, a state entity, to bid for the 2,600-vehicle contract but suddenly withdrew the letter of intent in 2012.

Bidders included Mahindra and Tata, which is developing a vehicle along with Lockheed Martin Corp and General Dynamics Corp that could compete for a future contract, said Rahul Gajare, an analyst at Edelweiss Securities.

A quick decision to relaunch the programme would demonstrate Modi’s resolve, said S.P. Shukla, who heads Mahindra’s defence business. Past tenders have stalled amid wrangling over whether or not to allow state manufacturers to bid and under what terms.

Larsen’s Kotwal said its Kattupalli shipyard in south India has yet to receive any orders for warships or submarines despite being designed to do just that and despite past government pledges to build at least two submarines in private yards.

In the meantime, the yard has switched to constructing and repairing commercial vessels.

“The policy in India has been right since 2006. The problem has been implementation,” said Rahul Chaudhry, CEO at Tata Power SED, which makes rocket launchers, sensors and radars.

Local firms have captured a fraction of the Indian defence market since it first opened to private participation in 2001. Consecutive governments have handed orders to state factories or to foreign giants like Boeing, Lockheed and BAE Systems.

Gajare at Edelweiss estimates total India private sector revenues from defence, including overseas orders, at below $2 billion last year, less than 6 percent of the country’s defence spending.

 
Source :Defence News
 
The much touted US pivot/re-balance to the Asia-Pacific has drawn considerable flak of late. From the Syrian chemical weapons use to Russia’s revanchism, the questioning of America’s leadership has seen the pivot naysayers become louder.

 

The much touted US pivot/re-balance to the Asia-Pacific has drawn considerable flak of late. From the Syrian chemical weapons use to Russia’s revanchism, the questioning of America’s leadership has seen the pivot naysayers become louder. President Obama has firmly recognized the limits of American power. The Commander of the US Pacific Air Forces has admitted that the resources for the pivot haven’t come his way even as the head of the US Pacific Command has made clear America’s inability to conduct amphibious assaults. To top these off, the US Defence Undersecretary for Intelligence has made it known that the US considers the Syrian civil war, Iran and even a vague ‘persistent volatility’ across South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa as greater threats than China.

The Obama administration is therefore caught in a three way struggle: it is persuading China that its re-balancing is not containment, reassuring its Asian allies of its support, and also projecting to the US Congressmen an image of China as a major threat. Senior American commanders have said that they “aren’t going to go to war over a rock” in the South China Sea while Obama has said that all Japanese administered territories (including the Senkakus) are covered under American defence commitments to Japan. Such a US posture is of concern since the strategic ambiguity this policy creates sows doubts about US commitment among its regional allies and also makes it tougher for China to determine where the real red lines drawn by the US lie.

The East Asian nations are today struggling to balance their relations with both China and the US. This balancing act is occurring at a time when India is rapidly accreting military might and is cultivating military contacts with South East Asian nations. India and South East Asia have no contentious issues between them, nor has India been keen for military alliances or basing arrangements. Currently, an East Asia unsure of US commitment is welcoming greater Indian involvement in regional affairs. As long ago as a decade ago, however, it had been postulated that the Indian armed forces are too overextended domestically to pay attention to their neighbourhood. 

Even a decade later, India’s much talked of Look East initiative has been more words than action. Primarily responsible is the fact that none of the burning issues of East Asian politics (a nuclear North Korea, the Taiwan problem and competing territorial claims in the South China Sea) are directly relevant to Indian interests. While the balance of forces tilts towards the US and its allies, the balance of influence is weighing heavier on the side of China by the day. ASEAN’s desire to engage with India, however, should not be interpreted to mean they shall do so at the expense of their relationship with China. India’s Look East initiative was never pursued with the aim of counterbalancing China, and ASEAN would ideally like India to not have antagonistic relations with China. This is so for that would put them in the same balancing dilemma where they are presently caught with respect to the USA and China.

India has always been ambivalent about its take on the US Pivot, a stand attributed to an ongoing tussle between the nationalist and realist elements in the Indian policy elites. In such a context, the rise of Narendra Modi hailing from a right wing Hindu nationalist party holds promise to bring more clarity to this debate. Modi’s first priority is the Indian economy and not extremist ideological agendas. Any analysis of his foreign policy priorities then shall flow from his domestic economic priorities. Given the sparse commentary on foreign policy in the BJP manifesto, hardly a surprise on account of the low priority accorded to foreign policy by the Indian electorate, this is all the more important. Modi has stated that, “I believe a strong economy is the driver of an effective foreign policy.. We have to put our house in order so that the world is attracted to us.” The mere fact that India’s economic relations are likely to shine brighter in the East as compared to a retrenching West shouldn’t be interpreted as an automatic Indian commitment to the US rebalance. Given the blooming Indo-Japanese relationship, though closer alignment between the two in a future where India feels threatened by China, there is a high likelihood of India actively participating in the US re-balance. It is a fact that an unresolved border dispute between India and China that sparked a war in 1962 remains a sore point. Also, China’s low key support of insurgencies in India and its all weather alliance with Pakistan has posed roadblocks for cooperation. China’s opposition to India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the UNSC as a permanent member has proven unhelpful as well. As a former Indian foreign secretary remarked “Pakistan is just an enemy, China is the adversary.”

That said, Indian steps to militarily hedge against China have been more reactionary than proactive. There is indeed a passionate debate over whether India should contest China militarily on land or sea and the final verdict is not yet clear. What is clear is that India has always gone out of its way to not antagonize China, hence its conspicuous absence from militarized international groupings with a China centric focus. 

The Chinese are optimistic about Modi and certain commentators have noted that both nations are undergoing historic economic transformations, with India hoping to assume China’s present position (assembling and offshoring) and China building an economic model akin to the Japanese/South Korean model (innovation driven high value commodities provider). With a gargantuan demographic dividend baying for jobs and Modi seeking to revamp Indian infrastructure, the Chinese have an optimal candidate in India as they look to channel their funds into higher yielding assets. China is India’s largest trade partner, and an era of strategic cooperation, quite unlike any seen before, may very well find its beginnings under Modi’s premiership.

For China to rake up its territorial conflict with India would force it to redirect resources from its naval, air and missile forces to territorial defence. Given the continuity which characterizes Indian foreign policy thought, dramatic changes should not be immediately expected under Modi. 

A China that doesn’t hinder Indian attempts to carve out its own sphere of influence and swiftly resolves the border dispute would give India good reasons to not engage deeply with the US pivot, at least militarily. China would do well to remember that strategic autonomy, whilst long a cherished end state in Indian foreign policy circles, is not an ironclad necessity (as a glimpse at India’s Cold War history would make clear). As a Prime Minister leading the first ever non-Congress-non-coalition government in India, Modi has a historic mandate and opportunity to shape India’s foreign policy as he sees fit in a manner that will be felt for decades to come.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal.

 Author :Himanil Raina 
Source : stsfor.org
The Minister of Defence of Singapore, Dr Ng Eng Hen, who is on official visit to India, met Defence Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, at South Block, here today. The Singapore Defence Minister was accompanied by the High Commissioner of Singapore in India Mr Lim Thuan Kuan and other officials of the Singapore Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces.

 
The Indian delegation included Defence Secretary Shri RK Mathur and Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chief of the Staff Committee (CISC) Air Marshal PP Reddy as well as other senior officers of the Ministry of Defence, MEA and Armed Forces. Prior to the meeting, the Singapore Defence Minister laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. He was accorded a ceremonial Guard of Honour at South Block.

During the meeting, both Ministers expressed satisfaction over the wide ranging and comprehensive defence exchanges between both countries and agreed that the enhancement of defence relationship between the two countries was in the mutual interest.

Both Ministers exchanged views on the global and regional security scenario. In the context of security situation in the Asia Pacific region, both Ministers acknowledged the role of the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM)-Plus framework in promoting dialogue and consensus in the region. Both Ministers noted the commonalities in the security concerns of India and Singapore and acknowledged that there was scope for both countries to continue to work together for peace and stability.

Both Ministers agreed to continue the robust engagements and to continue to work together to further substantiate defence interactions in the areas of mutual benefit.

India has started ramping up military defences in the Ladakh sector of Jammu and Kashmir that faces China, especially after Beijing has ringed the area with at least six airfields, fighter aircraft, all terrain vehicles and special forces that are backed by top-class metalled roads right up to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

New Delhi will be moving an armoured brigade — some 150 T-72 tanks — to Ladakh and also have Smerch multi-barrel rocket launch units placed at key locations. These are capable of hitting targets 70-80 kms away.

An armoured regiment — 46 tanks — had moved in last year to join the Kiari-based 70 Brigade and is now located at a forward sector, 20 km inside the LAC, where India suffered a setback in the 1962 conflict with China. This is separate from the upcoming Armoured Brigade that will be directly controlled by the Leh-based 14 Corps. Its three Regiments, comprising 46 tanks each, will be co-located with existing infantry and artillery regiments of the Indian Army. Meaning an armoured component will be available from the northern most tip, that is the base of the Karokaram pass at Daulat Baig Oldie, to the south eastern extreme of Demchok and Chumar, sources said. Adding up the numbers would mean that over the next 18 months India would have stationed 200 of the T-72 tanks in Ladakh and all night-sight equipped.

Ladakh being a plateau is ideal tank country. The only effort is in bringing the tanks through the narrow and high Himlayan passes on the Srinagar-Leh route or the Manali-Leh route.

The existing numbers of tanks are just not enough in case of an attack, especially after the Indian side was alerted of threat by way of a specialised exercise by the Chinese to have rapid movement across Tibet and Xinjiang, both abutting Ladakh. The Lanzhou Military Area Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China carried out rapid movement exercises in 2012. The first tank regiment moved to Ladakh in 2013.

New Delhi’s fears got an official stamp in March 2013 when the State Council of China published a white paper titled “The Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces” that talked about these rapid movements. It claimed the PLA extensively practised the move to concentrate troops. “Trans-military area command movements have been carried out. In 2012, the Chengdu MAC and Lanzhou MAC carried out the exercise.” Lanzhou and Chengdu — are dedicated to India. The Lanzhou MAC is tasked for J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, while the Chengdu MAC is for Chinese frontiers facing Nepal, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. China in total has seven MACs.

China has ringed J&K with new airfields. The Ngari Gunsa airbase in Tibet has come up just 200 km east of Demchok in India. North of J&K, airbases at Kashgar, Yarkand, Hotan and Qeimo (Cherchen) in Xinjiang can be used to launch an attack.

More tanks and artillery

  • New Delhi will be moving an armoured brigade, nearly 150 T-72 tanks, to Ladakh and also have Smerch multi-barrel rocket launch units placed at key locations
  • An armoured regiment, 46 tanks, had moved in last year to join the Kiari-based 70 Brigade and is now located at a forward sector, 20 km inside the Line of Actual Control
  • Three Regiments, comprising 46 tanks each, of Armoured Brigade will be co-located with existing infantry and artillery regiments of the Indian Army

Source : The Tribune

NEW DELHI: The Army is slowly but surely expanding and modernising its clandestine warfare arm, with two more Para-Special Forces battalions now being raised in tune with its operational doctrine. Navy and IAF, too, are strengthening their Special Forces with specialized weaponry.

But there is still “no forward movement” on the urgent need to bring the country’s diverse Special Forces, which report to disparate authorities, under a single operational command to ensure they can be used as “strategic assets” for larger national security objectives.

Neither the Naresh Chandra taskforce’s strong recommendation for a Special Operations Command (SOC), nor the chiefs of staff committee’s proposal for three additional tri-Service commands – cyber, Special Forces and space – has so far figured on the Modi government’s radar.

“Till there is unity in command and control of Special Forces, at least of the military if not the paramilitary ones, India’s unconventional warfare arm will never get the sharp edge it requires. We have relegated our Special Forces to the tactical and operational domain, instead of focusing on them as strategic assets to be used with decisive effect,” says a top officer.

The armed forces, however, are all gung-ho about their own elite forces, even though there is a “joint doctrine for Special Forces operations”. Navy, for instance, is now hunting for new “underwater special purpose crafts” for their marine commandos or “Marcos”, who are modelled on the famed US Navy SEALs. Incidentally, it was SEAL Team Six which killed Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad on May 2, 2011.

The Army, in turn, is raising two Para-SF battalions to add to the eight Para-SF and five Para (Airborne) battalions it already has for surveillance, target-designation, out-of-area contingencies, surgical strikes and hit-and-run operations.

semcotech “The raising of the first new Para-SF battalion will be completed by next year, while the second will be in place by 2017-2018,” said an officer. Concurrently, the Army is also stitching up contracts to modernise its existing 13 battalions, each with around 620 soldiers, apart from training them in Chinese and other foreign languages.

The Rs 70 lakh contract for 33 “underwater open-circuit diving equipment” from Sweden, for instance, has already been inked. Then, there is the “controlled aerial delivery system” to drop specialised payloads in designated target areas behind enemy lines.

The equipment being inducted ranges from 5.56mm TAR-21 Tavor assault rifles, 7.62mm Galil sniper rifles, M4A1 carbines, all-terrain multi-utility vehicles and GPS navigation systems to modular acquisition devices, laser range-finders, high-frequency communication sets and combat free-fall parachutes.

Experts, however, contend a tri-Service SOC is the need of the hour to holistically plan and execute “irregular warfare”. Special Forces operations, of course, have to be backed by “actionable intelligence”, which again is still enmeshed in turf wars in India. The armed forces have only two unified commands as of now, one in the military outpost of Andaman and Nicobar archipelago and the Strategic Forces Command to handle nuclear weapons.

Source : TOI