Posts Tagged ‘indiasecurity expo’

New Delhi: India and Spain on Wednesday signed an agreement on ‘Mutual Protection of Classified Information’ to provide the framework for enhanced cooperation in the defence sector.

The agreement was signed following an hour long meeting between visiting Spanish Defence Minister Pedro Moremes and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar, defence sources said.

The Spanish delegation evinced a clean interest in participating in the `Make in India` initiative of the government in the defence sector, they said.

Explaining the agreement signed, sources said that this is the primary pact that a country agrees to before embarking on deeper talks on defence cooperation.

They said that the Spanish side was interested and “enamoured” by the `Make in India` initiative and raised a number of questions on the opportunity ahead.

Spain has over the years acquired expertise in various fields of the defence sector.

Sources said Spanish companies are interested in being part of the P75I, a project under which India plans to build six conventional submarines.

Both sides also agreed to work on enhancing bilateral defence cooperation.

Source : Defence News

The Spanish Defence minister had last arrived in India in 2012 as part of the delegation led by the King of Spain. This is his first stand-alone visit as the defence minister to India. However, Moremes has visited India a number of times for trekking and mountaineering.

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NEW DELHI: India and the US are all set to ink their new 10-year defence framework pact when President Barack Obama comes visiting as the chief guest of the Republic Day parade on the special invite of Prime Minister NarendraModi.

NEW DELHI: India and the US are all set to ink their new 10-year defence framework pact when President Barack Obama comes visiting as the chief guest of the Republic Day parade on the special invite of Prime Minister NarendraModi.

US undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics Frank Kendall will be in town on January 22, just before Obama, to stitch up the loose ends. The new defence framework will be “more ambitious” than the earlier one — which was signed in June 2005 by then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee and his counterpart Donald Rumsfeld — without impinging on India’s “strategic autonomy”, sources said.

The expansive framework will outline the series of steps to bolster the bilateral defence partnership, ranging from stepping up the scope and intensity of joint military exercises already taking place to advancing shared security interests for regional and global security. Collaboration in intelligence-sharing, maritime security and the drive against terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will also figure on the agenda.

READ ALSO: Officials slog to get most from Obama visit

A significant addition will be the incorporation of the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) to augment the ones existing under the overall mechanism of the Defence Policy Group, which chalks out the path for future defence cooperation.

The US has been hard-selling a score of “transformative defence technologies” for co-development and co-production with India under the DTTI, which range from the next-generation of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and MH-60 Romeo multi-role helicopters to long-endurance UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and 127mm warship guns, as reported by TOI earlier.

But the Modi government has already chosen an initial off-the-shelf purchase of Israeli Spike ATGMs, with 321 launchers and 8,356 missiles, for Rs 3,200 crore. Sources said India will initially choose only a couple of “simpler projects” from the ones being offered by the US to kick-off the DTTI process and then ascertain how they actually materialise on the ground.

Towards this, South Block is looking at technologies being offered by those American armament companies who already have Indian partners and will bring in FDI. “The technologies that come initially should also be open to being exported for long-term sustainability of such projects,” said a source.

As for exercises, the two sides are poised to upgrade their annual Malabar naval exercise. India has largely restricted Malabar to a bilateral one with the US after China protested against its 2007 edition in the Bay of Bengal since they were expanded to include the Australian, Japanese and Singaporean navies as well.

The 18th edition of Malabar held last year, however, included Japan for the third time after 2007 and 2009. Now, Australia is also showing keenness to join Malabar on a regular basis.

Source : Defence NEws
PARIS/NEW DELHI: With the Indo-French $6 billion surface-to-air missile systems project in doldrums, France is hoping that new government’s push for “Make in India” will lead to inking of the long delayed deal.

 France remains hopeful of signing the deal even though Indian armed forces are sceptical about the missile since indigenously developed Akash is in play.
Titled Maitri, the project for joint development and production between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and France’s MBDA, was initiated in 2007 and a MoU to co-develop the surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) was signed during French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India in February last year.Since then, the situation has changed as Indian Air Force feels that its requirements could be met by indigenous Akash surface-to-air missile weapon system.

Asked about reservations by the Air Force, a top MBDA official in Paris told PTI, “we have written back answering the issues raised by the IAF. We are hopeful that this deal would be inked soon.”

The official at MBDA also said that the “Make in India” project is apt for the deal.

He added that while the range of SRSAM will be of 40 km, Akash’s range is only 25 km.
Sources at Indian Air Force said that they have nothing against the Maitri project per se but would prefer to use the available Akash missile rather than wait for the Indo-French ones to come.

“The Maitri project can go on but we want the missiles and Akash is serving that purpose,” sources said.

Refusing to comment about the Maitri project, sources in DRDO said that the Akash missile is already in play and is based on a similar platform like the Maitri.

However, the French are pushing for Maitri. “SRSAM is part of our strategic dialogue with India and is raised whenever top officials and leaders from both sides meet. We believe that a lot of information has been handed over after the new government has taken over in Delhi,” an MBDA official said.

French officials said that both Akash and Maitri can be inducted as the two will improve overall weapon system of India.

MBDA believes that the Maitri will be better for India as it will be “more cost-effective to develop a new missile than to upgrade a missile based on outdated propulsion”.

India is working on Akash Mark-II with longer range and MBDA is even calling Maitri as a potential Akash Mark-II.

As per the deal, the Maitri missiles will be produced only in India and the first deliveries will happen three years after the agreement is signed.

India can also export the missile with “MBDA support”. The French defence major said Source Codes for Maitri will be delivered to DRDO giving an autonomy to India for guided missiles and seekers.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had also written to the Modi government about the project.

The issue was also raised when Drian and the country’s Foreign Minister visited India since the Modi government came into power, sources at MBDA said.

Source : Defence News

NEW DELHI: The Modi government is cranking up clearances for long-pending projects considered critical to plug gaps in India’s operational military capabilities. If the first two meetings of the defence acquisitions council (DAC) cleared proposals worth Rs 40,000 crore, the third one on Saturday gave the nod to projects totalling around Rs 80,000 crore. 

The DAC, chaired by Arun Jaitley on Saturday, gave the green signal to long-term projects like the Rs 50,000 crore project to build six new stealth submarines with foreign collaboration in India as well as deals for anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), “midget submarines” for special covert operations, Dornier aircraft, Russian Uran missiles for warships and the like. 

Significantly, it rejected the American “Javelin” ATGM offer despite the hard-sell by US defence secretary Chuck Hagel during his visit to India in August. Instead, it approved the purchase of the Israeli “Spike” tank-killing missiles, which had already been extensively trial-evaluated by the Indian Army last year. The likelihood of all this happening was first reported by TOI in its Thursday edition.

“National security is of paramount concern for the government. All hurdles and bottlenecks in the procurement process should be addressed expeditiously so that the pace of acquisitions is not stymied,” said Jaitley. 

The speed of clearances contrasted starkly with the feet-dragging under UPA on filling critical needs of armed forces. 

Take the project for the six new-generation submarines, which are to be armed with both land-attack missile capabilities and air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance. Grappling with just 13 ageing diesel-electric submarines, the Navy has been crying hoarse for this project to get underway ever since it gained “acceptance of necessity” way back in November 2007. 

But with the UPA government forming committee after committee to review the plan, which earlier included importing two of the six submarines to save time, even the global tender for the mammoth project could not be issued for the last seven years. It will take seven to eight years for the first of these submarines to roll out once the contract is inked. 

The DAC has now decided that a committee will identify within six to eight weeks the public and private Indian shipyards that have the potential to indigenously build the six submarines in line with Modi’s “Make in India” policy. The RFP (request for proposal) will then be issued to the “compliant” shipyards, which in turn will tie up with a foreign collaborator, to submit their bids. 

Incidentally, defence PSU Mazagon Docks is already building the French Scorpene submarines, while the private sector L&T shipyard is helping in the construction of the country’s nuclear-powered submarines. Both, therefore, stand a better chance than the others in bagging the big project. 

The project for the third-generation ATGMs, with fire-and-forget capabilities, will also be a major one. The DAC on Saturday cleared an initial off-the-shelf purchase of 321 Israeli Spike launchers and 8,356 missiles for Rs 3,200 crore. 

This is to be followed by transfer of technology to defence PSU Bharat Dynamics for large-scale indigenous manufacture since the Indian Army wants to equip all its 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised infantry units with these tank-killers. The Army is currently saddled with just second-generation ATGMs, and that too with a crippling 50% shortage in launchers and missiles. In all, the ATGM project would cost around Rs 20,000 crore. 

Another significant clearance was for the acquisition of two midget submarines or “chariots” for Rs 2,017 crore. These “underwater special purpose crafts” will be used for covert operations to land elite naval marine commandos or “Marcos” on enemy shores or installations.

Source : TOI

NEW DELHI: French aircraft giant Airbus is likely to tie up with the Tatas to manufacture transport planes for the defence sector, sources familiar with the development told TOI.

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India Air Force has plans to replace its Avros aircraft, and the Airbus-Tata combine is one among several groups that are expected to bid for the contract. An email sent to a Tata Sons spokesperson did not elicit any response.

Several Indian companies ranging from Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries to the Mahindras and Bharat Forge have entered the defence industry but the Tata Group seems to have taken an early lead in a segment hitherto dominated by imports.

The government has embarked on a “Make in India” campaign to ensure that the country emerges as a global hub for low-cost quality manufacturing; the defence sector is a key element in this strategy.

In August the Union cabinet approved raising the FDI in the sensitive defence sector and opened up railway infrastructure to foreign firms. The cabinet had also decided that FDI beyond 49% would be allowed in state-of-the art defence equipment manufacturing, with technology transfer under Indian control and management.

Technically, this means 100% FDI is allowed, but sources said this has been the position since 2002. As a safeguard, the Cabinet Committee on Security will approve such proposals. Sources also said that FDI up to 24% would be allowed via the automatic route.

Headquartered in Toulouse, Airbus has had close links with India, a key market for planes, for a while now. In 1988, Airbus struck a deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian PSU to manufacture passenger doors for the A320 aircraft. In addition, Airbus India Engineering in Bangalore employs 350 local engineers working in engineering design and innovation activities; the number working directly or indirectly on Airbus programmes has reached some 5,000 Indian jobs, according to the company’s website.

Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons, is the strategic aerospace and defence arm of the Tata group. It has a tie-up with US helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky.

Source : Defence News

It has been 82 years since the formation of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the guardians of the sky have been a source of pride for the entire nation. Today, October 8th, is the day when the original ‘men and women in blue’ celebrate their Air Force Day.

“On Air Force Day, I salute our air force personnel. They are our pride and their bravery, commitment and dedication continues to inspire,” PM Modi said in an official statement today.The Indian Air Force has come a long way post independence. From relying primarily on imports from countries like USSR (now Russia), Britain, France, Israel and United States, they are now looking to imbibe more indigenous products. The Air Force is in the process of replacing its controversial fleet of MiGs with Light Combat Aircraft, HAL-Tejas, a multi-role light fighter being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

However, many a challenge still persists for the 175,000 person (approx) strong establishment.

Stagnant defence deals and negligence of the Ministry of Defense has forced the IAF to use equipment which is decades old. The IAF has reportedly lost nearly 116 aircraft to crashes outside of combat out of which 81 crashes occurred in the past two decades.

This year alone a MiG 21 crashed in May in Jammu, A Jaguar fighter crashed near Rajasthan in January, an advanced 307 IAF chopper went down in UP and another chopper crash killed three officers this very month.

The notorious record of the IAF’s MiG-21s has lead to it being referred as a “flying coffin” and a ”widow maker”. The Soviet-era fleet still remains functional despite its obsolete condition.

The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament had called for discontinuation of the aircraft in March, 2002 following the aftermath of the horrific MiG 21 crash in 2002. The government, however, is still in the process of phasing them out.

The IAF also faces the challenges of upgrading their base stations and training their personnel accordingly.

Defence deals over the years have been marred with charges of corruption, inaction and negligence. Many lament, that due to this the IAF has fallen prey to stagnant work ethics.

The Air Force also ends up being tested by political and economic constrains. In the 2013 Indian Helicopter Bribery case the Government of India canceled a Rs 3,000 crore deal following charges of bribery against many officials. Allegations surfaced stating that a whopping sum of Rs 360 crore was paid as bribe, which would constitute more than 10% of the whole deal.

The Government in a bid to upgrade its ageing fleet of MiG 21, MiG 27 and jaguar combat planes initiated an aggressive defence program called Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition with the aim to procure 126 multi-role combat aircraft. The $20 billion deal went to the French Rafle fighter jet in 2012 as it was declared the lowest bidder.

The deal however has still not been inked on account of escalation in costs. The Cost Negotiation Committee has proceeded with the deal at a snail’s pace even after the Air Chief Marshal, Arup Raha, stressed on the dire need to move quickly.

Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major (retd) told Business Standard, “This process has been delayed unduly in case of the MMRCA, and this in turn has affected the operational readiness & preparedness of the IAF adversely. If the process was handled well and diligently, we would have had the first Rafale arriving in India by 2014! And now, even if the contract is signed by the end of 2014, the first aircraft will arrive only by 2017.” 

Equipment shortage is another bane. The IAF is supposed to allot a ratio of 20 planes for 42 squadrons but the real figure falls short of the required mark, thus resulting in a declining fleet.

“The quantum of Defense budget allocated to the Armed Forces, in my opinion, is not the real cause for the delay in modernisation of our Armed Forces – it is the tardy and slow procurement process which is the real cause. Costs to the Nation are always kept in mind while modernising, and a cost-effective approach by the Armed Forces to build the required military capability and hone their combat edge is the only way ahead,” the ex- Chief of the Air Staff said. 

Even though India’s defence budget today has increased to Rs 2.29 trillion, utilizing the funds in an appropriate and swift manner is the need of the hour.

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