Over the last few decades, the importance of maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region has drastically increased. The sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect nations throughout Asia are critically important due to the flow of vital resources and trade goods that nations rely on to sustain their economic development.
In this context, the traditional land powers ofIndiaandChinahave recognized the importance of naval power, and are subsequently in the process of modernizing their navies. In addition to this regional buildup, theUnited Statesfundamentally impacts maritime security in the region due to its hegemonic dominance, both in terms of naval capabilities and technological superiority. The collision of interests between these three nations defines the geopolitical environment within the Asia Pacific.
In the past two decadesChinahas rapidly attempted to modernize its navy, with military expenditures increasing by over 140 percent since 1997. Recent military modernization withinChinahas been focused towards upgrading its naval capabilities, and developing a blue-water navy capable of power-projection throughout the Asia Pacific.
An analysis of Chinese naval modernization can best be explored through their drive for a modern aircraft-carrier. In 2009, Defense Minister Ling Guanglie announced that the Chinese navy will be equipped with two aircraft carriers by as early as 2015.Chinathen launched its first aircraft carrier in August 2011, which was a refitted version of a Soviet carrier. While the carrier is currently only fit of training purposes, and will not be a fully operational combat vessel for years to come, it representsChina’s growing naval power. The attainment of an aircraft carrier providesChinawith the traditional symbol of a world power while also providing the capability to secure the SLOCs through which its oil and resource exports have to travel through.
Indiahas similarly been modernizing its military capabilities.Indiadoubled its defense budget between 1994 and 2004, and currently has plans to spend US$40 billion on military expansion over the next four years.India’s naval modernization, however, has been arguably more efficient and effective thanChina’s, as the former has focused on quality over quantity, and invested in state-of-the-art weapons systems.
WithinIndia, there is recognition that a strong naval power is not only vital to upholding its security interests, but also for its continued prosperity.Indiaalready has possession of one aircraft carrier, and importantly, is planning to increase this number to a total of three carriers by 2020.India’s drive for maritime dominance has recently intensified with its 2012-2013 defense budget increasing by 13 percent, and with the navy receiving the largest share in comparison to the other arms of its military.
Already, Indian naval modernization efforts have seen commendable results. As recently as last month,Indialaunched two new classes of submarines, including a nuclear powered submarine, and conducted the first flight of the naval version of its light combat aircraft.
A main source of competition betweenChinaandIndiais in the field of energy security. Access to and transportation of valuable resources has increasingly meant that geopolitical processes define strategic policy in the region.
Indiadoes not want to see a Chinese naval build-up in the region, yet it is clear thatChinahas pressed its maritime agenda into the region. In response to this, we seeIndiatrying to counter-balanceChina. As the Chinese navy modernizes,Indiahas become increasingly wary of being encircled in theIndian Ocean.
For example,China’s “string of pearls” strategy, which refers to the negotiation of basing rights along the sea route which connectsChinato the Middle East, does not include interaction withIndia. Indian policy-makers increasingly are worried about the future control of SLOCs and the security ofIndia’s energy. Due to this “string of pearls,” for example,Chinais able to checkIndia’s rise, and monitor their maritime exercises due to the leverage they gain with having basing rights inPakistan. Furthermore,China’s strategy allows access to routes that bypass theMalaccaStrait. This impacts India’s geoeconomic stability and regional standing, as any blockade to the strait would heavily damage India, while China would have an alternative route it can rely on.
It isIndia’s relationship with theUnited States, however, that is the most important tool forIndia’s counter-balancing ofChina. BothChinaandIndiahave been suspicious about the other’s relationship with theUnited States, yet both have been trying to foster a strategic relationship withWashington.Indiacurrently has the more strategically advantageous relationship, which is a great worry forChina. It is perceived thatChinais being countered whileIndiais being bolstered as the regional power. TheUnited Statesis relying uponIndiato secure the crucial sea lanes, and has increasingly been conceding leadership of the Indian Ocean toIndia. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has publicly stated that “Indiahas the potential to keep the peace in the vastIndian Oceanand its periphery.”
China’s ability to uphold its maritime security in the region largely rests on its ability to operate under the naval dominance of theUnited States. Even though there have been friendly military exchanges between the two countries, their strategic trust remains very low. For example,China’s reaction to theU.S.proposal for a Global Maritime Partnership was met with negativity and distrust. It was at first suggested that such a partnership would make great breakthroughs in Sino-U.S. relations, but analysts from within China claimed that such a proposal only furthered U.S. domination of maritime affairs at the global level.
A defining feature of the geopolitical environment within the Asia Pacific in the years to come will be whether or notChinaandIndiawill be able to uphold their maritime interests without unnecessary escalation or confrontation. TheUnited Statesis central to this scenario, due to its role as regional hegemon and its capacity to provideIndiaa strategic advantage by countering Chinese naval ambitions.
INDIAN NAVY CREATES NEW POST FOR NETWORK-CENTRIC OPERATIONS
Against the backdrop of increasing role of satellites in modern warfare, the Indian Navy has created a new post of Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Communications, Space and Network Centric Operations) at its headquarters inNew Delhi.
“On June 1, Rear Admiral Kishan K Pandey took over as the first incumbent of the newly created post of ACNS (CSNCO) at the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (Navy),” it said in a release.
The creation of the new post is a step in the process to migrate from a “platform-centric Navy” to a “network-enabled Navy”, the release said.
It said the step is in tandem with the Navy’s plans to seamlessly integrate all combat platforms and terrestrial nodes through state-of-the art communications and space systems towards network-centric operations.
In addition to making platforms and infrastructure for network centricity, the Navy has also made organisational changes to create and efficiently manage the transition to seamless network-centric capabilities.
For nearly five years, Rear Admiral Pandey has been spearheading various prestigious projects at the Directorate of Naval Signals related to building the critical network- centric capabilities such as communications including space-based communications, networks and electronic warfare. (DD India)
INDIA UNDERSCORES ITS AIR DEFENCE MIGHT WITH AKASH MISSILE
NEW DELHI:Indiaon Wednesday successfully test-fired the Air Force version of its indigenously developed surface-to-air Akash missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Balasore district. This was the fifth trial of the anti-aircraft system in the past few months.
“The Air Force version of Akash missile was test-fired from the ITR. The trial was successful and met all the mission objectives,” defence sources said.
The anti-aircraft missile, with a strike-range of 25 km and the capability to carry a 60 kg warhead, was test-fired from a mobile launcher at launch complex-III of the ITR, the oldest missile-launching facility based in the state.
The trial, which formed part of the country’s routine air defence exercises, was conducted at 0757 hrs IST, an official of Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) said.
Sources said that in order to revalidate the technology and operational efficacy of the missile, defence forces conducted the trial with logistic support provided by the ITR. The Akash weapon system, which has an Army version too, was inducted into the armed forces in 2008.
Wednesday’s test-fire came after similar trials conducted from the same test range on May 24, 26, 28 and June 1. On June 1, two Air Force versions of Akash missiles had been test-fired successfully in quick succession, said sources.
ISRO PLANS TO LAUNCH SATELLITE FOR NAVY IN A FEW MONTHS
CHENNAI: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has built a dedicated satellite for the Navy which will be launched in a few months by an Ariane-5 rocket from the Kourou island inFrench Guiana.
The communication satellite that weighs 2.5 tonnes is currently undergoing thermo-vacuum tests at the ISRO Satellite Centre inBangalore. But the space organisation has not so far officially acknowledged that the satellite is meant for the Navy and has given it an innocuous name, GSAT-7.
It will be one of the several satellites to be launched by Ariane-5.
“This is the first time that the ISRO is building a dedicated satellite for the Navy. It is meant for defence requirements. The Navy and other agencies [the Army and the Indian Air Force] will use it for their communication,” ISRO sources said.
The GSAT series, built by the ISRO, are communication satellites which cannot be used for surveillance.
The Navy will use GSAT-7 to communicate with its submarines, frigates, destroyers and aircraft from its centres on the shore.
The ISRO’s annual report for 2011-12 has sparse information on GSAT-7. It merely says, “GSAT-7, a multi-band satellite, is planned to be launched on board a procured launcher during 2012.” The report, in another place, adds, “The satellite employs the standard 2.5 tonne bus platform with the power handling capability of around 2,600 W and a lift-off mass of 2,550 kg. All the mainframe and the payload elements have been delivered. The satellite will be ready for shipment for launch during 2012.”
The ISRO’s 2010-2011 report is a little more liberal with information. It says, “GSAT-7 is a multi-band satellite carrying payloads in UHF [ultra-high frequency], S-band, C-band and Ku-band…The configuration of the satellite has been finalised and the design of the new payload elements is completed. The platform systems are under fabrication and payload sub-system realisation is on-going.”
Although the ISRO planned to launch GSAT-7 in 2011 onboard an indigenous Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) from Sriharikota, it has been forced to go abroad because of its failures with its GSLV in April 2010 and December 2010. The GSLV could not put GSAT-4 into orbit in April 2010 after its indigenous cryogenic engine failed to ignite. The next GSLV flight in December 2010, with a Russian cryogenic engine, failed too. It was to have hoisted into orbit GSAT-5P.
These failures and the long time that is being taken to build the GSLV-Mark III rocket with an indigenous cryogenic engine have delayed the launch of Chandrayan-II and the ISRO’s efforts to send an Indian astronaut into space.
With the GSLV with an indigenous cryogenic engine yet to prove its mettle and its performance with a Russian cryogenic engine below par, the ISRO does not want to take chances with GSAT-7.
“GSAT-7 is an operational satellite meant for the Navy. It has multi-frequencies. So we do not want to take chances,” explained the ISRO sources.
UNDOING RECENT DAMAGE TO ARMY
OVER the passing of the baton from former Army Chief General V. K. Singh to the present Chief of the Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, there has been an audible sigh of relief in the country deeply distressed by the former chief’s shenanigans beginning with his unprecedented decision to drag the government to a court of law on a petty personal issue of the date of his birth. Defence Minister A. K. Antony has described the sad interlude as “turbulence of the last few months”, and has advised all concerned to “forget” it so that this “baggage” is jettisoned.
Unexceptionable words these, but totally inadequate. Merely to forget what has happened and do nothing about its consequences would be nothing short of perpetuating the mess. The serious damage done to so fine an institution as the Indian Army has to be undone, both quickly in a manner that is not only fair but also seen to be so.
The two of the most serious problems that need immediate attention are best summed up by the distinguished army veteran, Lt-General (retired) Satish Nambiar, with impeccable credentials to pronounce on the subject: First, civil-military relations “rarely cordial even at the best of times are at their worst in living memory right now”. And secondly, the Army has “never before been subjected to such division and subversion of loyalties at the senior level”. To combat these twin-evils is a stupendous task.
It follows that while the new Army Chief, with a meritorious career, will have to exert all his personal and professional qualities to the utmost, he would also need full cooperation from the political leadership and the civilian bureaucracy of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Hopefully, the recommendations of the Task Force on Security would help overcome the problem that civilian supremacy over the military — which the Indian armed forces have always accepted willingly — has become the supremacy of the civil servants. Be that as it may, nothing should be allowed to impede the undoing of the wrongs that have piled up.
In this context, Mr Antony has his task cut out for him. With all due respect, it must be said that in the past he erred. It was within his power to nip in the bud the date-of-birth controversy, the starting point of all the dismal developments that followed. It was indeed his duty to do so. But unfortunately he didn’t. Nor did he make any effort to put an end to the spate of Gen V. K. Singh’s highly controversial interviews subsequently. It is not known whether he sought the intervention of the Prime Minister who is, after all, ultimately responsible for national security. The country can no longer afford such casual approach. The Defence Minister and, if necessary, the Prime Minister must firmly oversee the remedial measures that are now absolutely essential.
At the same time it should be recognised that the Gen V. K. Singh affair has heavily polarised not only the army officer corps at higher levels as well as ex-servicemen, including retired generals, but also apparently the entire Indian society. That perilous polarisation persists. Even today, there is a petition before the Supreme Court seeking a review of its earlier verdict rejecting the public interest litigation seeking the quashing of Gen Bikram Singh’s appointment as the Army Chief.
One expects that, as in all other democracies, all political parties and even all sections of civil society would refrain from dragging the armed forces into the vortex of partisan or parochial politics. But what can one say about a polity in which 20 Rajput MPs, cutting across party lines, seek a meeting with the Prime Minister to plead the case of a general belonging to their caste? About other efforts to arouse the caste sentiment in this connection the less said the better. In all fairness, it must also be acknowledged that in the midst of a murky atmosphere, Gen V. K. Singh did focus the country’s attention on some of the glaring shortcomings in the national security apparatus. Through his leaked letter to the Prime Minister he drove home the message that modernisation of and improvement in the operational preparedness of the armed forces is grossly inadequate and tardy. Presumably because the letter hit the headlines in a fraught ambience the government’s response was surprisingly prompt. There was a sudden acceleration of decision-making in the MoD. Let there be no slackening of this pace. Gen Bikram Singh and his senior colleagues must play their part in ensuring this.
Corruption is the third and very painful issue that the former Army Chief, to his credit, has pushed to the fore though it remains a mystery why both he and the Defence Minister sat for nearly two years on the alleged offer of a bribe of Rs 14 crore to Gen Singh. Anyhow, the Tatra scandal has brought into the open how our own public sector undertakings are making huge money by importing equipment from abroad and selling it to the armed forces at inflated prices. Nor is it a solitary example of its kind. However, to root out corruption in the procurement of sophisticated equipment at astronomical cost is not going to be easy unless there is a determined and joint effort by both the political leadership and the top brass. Personal example rather than preaching is called for.
A long neglected but grave problem faced by the Army is the acute shortage of officers. According to one account, an army battalion must have a minimum complement of 25 officers. Very often, it seems there are barely nine because some of them have to go on leave, or are sick or are required to go for training and refresher courses.
As injurious as the shortage of officers is the ageing of the Indian Army down the line. The issue of reducing the very long service under the colours and providing the men alternative employment in paramilitary forces has been hanging fire for more than a decade. And given the faulty procedures of promotion, most army officers become battalion commanders when they are in their late forties and thus overage.
INDIA FOR STRONGER RESOLVE TO FIGHT TERROR
NEW DELHI: Pointing out thatIndiahas been a long-standing victim of terrorism emanating from ‘our region’, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna today called for a stronger resolve and firmer efforts by the international community to tackle the scourge.
“We appreciate greater cooperation within the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) as an important regional answer to this challenge,’’ he said addressing the extended session of the 12th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Summit in Beijing this morning.
Krishna saidIndialooked forward to greater engagement with RATS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s premier counter terror body, to combat the challenge of extremism. Illicit narco-trafficking and cyber security were other challenges in the region which deserved greater focus and stronger collective efforts.
He was all praise for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation grouping comprisingChina,Russia,Uzbekistan,Kazakhstan,TajikistanandKyrgyzstan, underlining its contribution over the past decade to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.India,Pakistan,MongoliaandIranhave the status of observers in the grouping.Afghanistanhas been admitted into it as new observers whileBelarusandSri Lankaare the dialogue partners.
The minister pitched for a “larger and more constructive role” forIndiain the grouping as a full member and underlined that it was “a promising alternative regional platform” to help stabiliseAfghanistan.
“As we have emphasised at various Shanghai Cooperation Organisation fora,Indiawould be happy to play a larger, wider and more constructive role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a full member, as and when the organisation finalises the expansion modalities,” he added.
However, given elaborate procedures and rigorous criteria,India’s admission into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation could take up to two years after the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation members unanimously decide to open the doors for new members.
ARMY CHIEF LIFTS BAN ON LT GEN SUHAG
NEW DELHI: Just a week after taking over as the Army Chief, General Bikram Singh has taken the first step to undo the bitterness that had developed in the past few months. He has lifted the Discipline and Vigilance (DV) ban imposed by his predecessor on Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, one of the senior Army officers.
The just-retired Army Chief General VK Singh had imposed a ban on Lt Gen Suhag which had shocked sections of the Army and also the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which saw this as an attempt to tweak the line of succession in the Army – largely the senior-most officer becomes the Chief.
Lt Gen Suhag, presently General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Dimapur-based 3 Corps, is in line to be the next chief of the 1.13 million-strong Indian Army.
Sources said the DV ban has been lifted and this will pave the way for his promotion as GoC-in-C of the Kolkatta-based Eastern Army Command. Following the imposition of a ban, his promotion had been held back while his compatriot Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra was promoted and he took charge of the Chandimandir-based Western Army Command. Today’s move means Gen Suhag can be promoted and will end one of the bitter controversies which had divided the Army.
Lt-Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag was first issued a show cause notice on May 19 even while he was on leave inDelhitending to his ailing mother. He was asked to join back duty and reply within seven days. A DV was imposed on him without even waiting for his reply to the notice. This sent alarm bells ringing in the MoD as it saw that this would not stand scrutiny in court and called for the files.
Had the DV ban continued, he would have been overlooked and lost the chance to be promoted as GoC-in-C, ultimately missing out on a chance to become the Army Chief. Notably, had the Supreme Court accepted Gen VK Singh’s plea that he was born on May 10, 1951 and not on May 10, 1950 as recorded in the Ministry of Defence, Gen Bikram Singh would not have made it to the top job and Lt Gen Suhag also would also have lost out. A chief retires at 62 while Lt Generals retire at 60 years of age.
When the row had erupted, Gen VK Singh had said, “There was no vendetta (in his actions against Gen Suhag).”
CABINET PANEL ON SECURITY CLEARS AGENDA FOR SIACHEN TALKS
NEW DELHI: At the forthcoming Defence-Secretary level talks betweenIndiaandPakistan,New Delhiwill stick to its stand seeking authentication of troop positions on the 2,600-sq km Siachen Glacier before any demilitarisation can take place.
The issue came up at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) which cleared the stand to be adopted byIndiain this regard, sources said. Defence secretaries of the two countries will meet for their annual conference inIslamabadon June 11 and 12. The two officials are supposed to suggest a solution to the issue.
PakistanPresident Asif Ali Zardari and his Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani have expressed a desire that the glacier be demilitarised. The call had come after more than 140 Pakistan Army Soldiers lost their lives in an avalanche in April this year.
Defence Minister AK Antony, has already made the country’s stand on Siachen clear. “Indiais clear. We want authentication of the present positions (held by Indian troops). This is a pre-requisite before we can proceed further”. New Delhi has always insisted it will pull back troops only after joint “authentication” of the frontline along the 109-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), that is the name of the de-facto border on the glacier. The AGPL has never been marked on the ground or on any document accepted by both sides. IfPakistanviolates a demilitarisation treaty, it would enjoy easier access to Siachen, leavingIndiaat a serious disadvantage.New Delhiwants iron cast international guarantees against any violations.
On the other hand,Pakistanresists “authentication” as a pre-requisite to de-militarisation. This was its stance during the last round of Defence Secretary-level talks in May 2011. An authentication would legitimise the AGPL, which, in turn, would regulariseIndia’s claims.Pakistanwants demilitarisation, withdrawal and authentication to proceed simultaneously. Last month, after General Kayani’s call for a mutual withdrawal,Islamabadannounced it would stick to its traditional position.
It was in April 1984 that the Army and the IAF gained control of the glacier in a joint operation ‘Megdhoot’.
IB GIVES LETTER LEAK REPORT TO PM, DEFENCE MINISTER
NEW DELHI: Tasked with finding out persons who leaked the then Army Chief General VK Singh’s classified letter on war preparedness to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Intelligence Bureau has submitted its findings to the government.
The findings, submitted to the Prime Minister and Defence Minister AK Antony orally, trace the movement of the letter and how it was leaked, well-placed sources told The Tribune.
The IB had prepared a written report but it was asked to provide details on the subject orally considering the sensitivity of the issue. Persons behind the leak were indirectly or directly benefiting from the intense divide within the Army, which saw @unprecedented controversies in the past few months, the sources said, adding that some names have been shared with the PM andAntony. It is clear, the sources said, that the motive was to embarrass the government while Parliament was in session.
The Initelligence Bureau has trashed reports that a woman Joint-Secretary level officer in the Cabinet Secretariat leaked the letter. “That woman is not guilty of the leak,” a senior functionary revealed.
In the second week of May when reports had surfaced about the said woman officer, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth had gone on record to state the report was “wrong”. The government had also rubbished the reports.
Details of the former Army Chief’s classified letter were published in a newspaper leading to a furore in Parliament with MPs demanding removal of the General.Antonyannounced an inquiry and asked the Initelligence Bureau to probe. On his part, VK Singh termed the leak as an act of treason and sought punishment for the guilty.
In the last week of May, VK Singh alleged that his letter to the PM was leaked by the Ministry of Defence.