A security architecture without the mortar
The article discusses about India’s national security inadequacies which stem from the absence of a national security vision.
Defence Planning Committee (DPC): In April 2018, the government set up a Defence Planning Committee (DPC) to assist in the creation of national security strategy, international defence engagement strategy, roadmap to build a defence manufacturing ecosystem, strategy to boost defence exports, and priority capability development plans etc.
Strategic Policy Group : Earlier this month, it also decided to revive the Strategic Policy Group (SPG) within the overall National Security Council (NSC) system. Revival of these committees by the government in its final year in office raises question about national security performance and preparedness.
Author observes that India’s neighbourhood policy continues to be in the doldrums and there is a clear absence of vision on how to balance, engage and work with the many great powers in the regional and the broader international scene.
Author observe that recently there is deterioration in security environment. Both the overall violence in Jammu and Kashmir and ceasefire violations on the Line of Control reached a 14-year high in 2017, a trend that refuses to subside in 2018.
Author rejects government claim of surgical strike as befitting response and observe that he surgical strikes hardly made any significant gains The pressure from China is also on the rise. The Chinese forces according to report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs are back in the Doklam plateau with more force. The report goes on to fault the government for “continuing with its conventionally deferential foreign policy towards China”.
Lacunas in India’s defence preparedness: Absence of defence reforms: India spends close to $50 billion annually on defence and yet there are serious concerns about the level of our defence preparedness.
Non-functional higher defence organisation: India’s defence policy is hardly with any political oversight or vision. There is little conversation between the armed forces and the political class, and even lesser conversation among the various arms of the forces.
Absence of jointness in the Indian armed forces: India’s doctrines, command structures, force deployments and defence acquisition continue as though each arm is going to fight a future war on its own.
Not only do the various arms of the Indian armed forces plan their strategies in silos but even their rhetoric is partisan. Eg. Army Chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat’s statement about the Army, not the armed forces as a whole, being prepared for a “two-and-a-half front war”.
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS): The talk of appointing a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has all but died down. Leave alone appointing a CDS, even the key post of military adviser in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) remains vacant. And the government seems to mistakenly think that by having the NSA chair, the SPG and DPC will take care of the fundamental problems in the country’s higher defence sector.
The NSC, which replicates the membership of the Cabinet Committee on Security, almost never meets under the new regime, and the National Security Advisory Board, initially set up by the Vajpayee government, to seek ‘outside expertise’ on strategic matters, is today a space for retired officials. As a result, there is little fresh thinking within the government or perspective planning on the country’s national security or defence.
Issues with NSA: NSA is not a legally-mandated one. So one might rightly wonder how an unelected and retired official with no parliamentary accountability has come to occupy such a crucial position in the country’s national security decision making, and whether this is healthy in a parliamentary democracy.
All that the SPG and DPC would achieve is to further bureaucratise the national security decision making and centralise all national security powers under the PMO. While this might provide a little more coordination in decision making, these committees are hardly sufficient to get the country’s national security system back on track.
To expect the NSA to chair all these committees and then action their recommendations while at the same time running the country’s national security affairs on a day-to-day basis is unrealistic, and would end up producing sub-optimal outcomes.
Under the present system, where the ratio of revenue to capital expenditure in defence is roughly 65:35%, any serious attempt at modernisation would be impossible.
Saffron marigold is the colour of sacrifice
The marigold was chosen as the symbol of remembrance for Indian soldiers martyred in First World War. A unique Indian symbol will allow citizens in India, as well as the international diaspora, to acknowledge the valour and sacrifice of the Indian armed forces in the service of the nation, including those who fell in the two world wars. World to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War on November 11. The marigold was chosen because it is easily and widely available and also because saffron is often seen as a colour of sacrifice.
India Remembers project
The India Remembers project is a joint endeavour of the United Service Institution of India (USI) and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and a part of the ‘India and the Great War’ Centenary Commemoration project initiated by the USI in 2014 with the support of the Ministry of External Affairs and in close association with the British High Commission. The Project highlights India’s contribution during the First World War and primarily aims at exploring India’s engagement in war efforts from a variety of perspectives
Iron Magic 19: UAE, US to conduct military exercise near Dubai
The joint military exercise Iron Magic 19 between United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United States (US) kicked off near Dubai. The two-week military exercise is part of series of joint military exercises held throughout the year between UAE armed forces and armed forces of other countries. The exercise seeks to reinforce cooperation, joint actions and exchange of expertise in military areas between both countries. This will contribute to maximizing combat capabilities and increasing coordination between UAE and the US armed forces The bulk of UAE military hardware, such as F-16 fighter jets, Mirage jets and Apache Longbow attack helicopters are mostly manufactured by companies from US, Britain and France. UAE, a major oil supplier, has established growing defence industry in recent years, mainly in armoured vehicles and naval military equipment.
The sail training ship of Indian Navy, INS Tarangini based at Kochi, has returned after a seven month long sailing across the world to a grand reception at naval base, Kochi.
The Voyage named “Lokayan 18” was flagged off on 10 Apr 18 from Kochi. During the voyage, the ship travelled across 15 ports in 13 countries.
The ship sailed across the Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, Strait of Gibraltar, North Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Biscay, English Channel and North Sea, right up to Norway.
Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has accorded approval for the Mid Life Upgrade of 17 Dornier Aircraft of Indian Coast Guard (ICG) at an approximate cost of Rs. 950 crore. The upgrades will be carried out by M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the aircraft manufacturer of India. ICG is also the nodal agency in India for maritime pollution response. The Coast Guard has a fleet of Dornier aircraft which play a pivotal role in maritime surveillance. In order to enhance the capabilities of the fleet, DAC accorded approval for upgradation of these aircraft with state-of-the-art technology, spares, Special Maintenance Tools (SMT) and Special Test Equipment (STE).
Defence Acquisition Council (DAC):
What is it? To counter corruption and speed up decision- making in military procurement, the government of India in 2001 decided to set up an integrated DAC. It is headed by the Defence Minister.
Objective: The objective of the DAC is to ensure expeditious procurement of the approved requirements of the Armed Forces, in terms of capabilities sought, and time frame prescribed, by optimally utilizing the allocated budgetary resources.
Functions: The DAC is responsible to give policy guidelines to acquisitions, based on long-term procurement plans. It also clears all acquisitions, which includes both imported and those produced indigenously or under a foreign license.
IAF gets first overhauled Sukhoi
In a major step towards improving the availability rate of the backbone of the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter fleet, the IAF’s Base Repair Depot (BRD), in Ojhar, Maharashtra has successfully overhauled a Su-30 MKI aircraft.
Important Facts: During the overhaul, the aircraft was stripped completely and rebuilt from scratch, replacing certain worn out parts/components. It has now become almost like a brand-new aircraft with its life-span doubled.
Su-30MKI: The Su-30MKI procured from Russia and licence manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the mainstay of the IAF’s fighter squadron. The Sukhoi Su-30 is a twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft capable of attaining speeds of Mach 2 (double the speed of sound or 2,120 kmph) at high altitudes and can carry guns, missiles, bombs, rockets and other weaponry.
Ojhar depot, Maharashtra: The Ojhar depot is the only fighter aircraft repair depot of the IAF and undertakes repairs, renovations and overhaul of frontline fighters like the MIG-29 and now the Su-30MKI. India has contracted 272 aircraft of which over 240 have been inducted into service. However, the availability rate of the Sukhoi fleet has been below 50% for a long time. Over the last couple of years it has gone up close to 60% by various measures like local stocking of spares. Benefits: Indigenous overhauling in-house within the IAF, will significantly reduce the time and improve the availability rate of the overall fleet at a time when the service is a facing a drop in its fighter squadron strength.
Druzhba-III: Russia and Pakistan holding military exercise in Pakistan
The Druzhba 2018 (Friendship 2018) joint bilateral military exercise between Pakistan and Russian special forces has begun in Pakistan. This exercise will be organized in north-western hill region in Nowshera district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan. The two week long joint military exercise is aimed at bolstering and building military cooperation between the two countries
Druzhba military exercise: Druzhba military exercise between Russia and Pakistan was started in 2016. “Druzba” is Russian word, which means “friendship”. Its first edition was held in October, 2016 at Army High Altitude School in Rattu, northern Pakistan. The second edition was held in Russia at Minralney Vody in North Caucasus at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level.
Druzhba 2018: This will be the third joint military drill between both countries under the bilateral training cooperation agreement. In this edition of exercise, servicemen from two countries’ armed forces will perform tasks at altitude of 1,400 meters above the sea level. Over 70 soldiers from Russia’s southern military district are participating. It will also involve experience sharing and develop coordination in carrying out practice combat tasks in a mountainous environment, including operations against illegal armed groups.
Russia-Pakistan Defence ties: The relation between Russia and Pakistan has become strong in the past few years and has moved apart from their past bitter Cold War hostilities. One of the main reasons for this is tough attitude of US with Pakistan, which has led Pakistan to lean towards Russia and China. Pakistan is also keen to strengthen defense relations with Russia. Russia also started selling weapons to Pakistan. It has sold four Mi-35M fighters and cargo helicopters to Pakistan.