In an unprecedented disregard for the prevalent peace and tranquility along the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC), PLA troops transgressed the LAC at three locations in eastern Ladakh, forcing the Indian Army to prevent them from any ingress leading to faceoff at Galwan and Pangang Tso. Again in a first since 20 October 1975, 20 Indian soldiers made the supreme sacrifice at Galwan when implementing an agreement arrived at by top military commanders on 6 June 2020. While the actions along the LAC have been constantly commented and analysed by many experts, China in a subtle though planned manner launched an all-out information war.
Unlike the 73 day standoff at Doklam in 2017, where China had indulged in an information war through Global Times, a known China mouthpiece, this time around China exploited some well-known former soldiers turned journalists. On account of their earlier service to the nation and the prefix of rank, their credentials are above board as also they indirectly allude to contacts perceived by many as authentic and knowledgeable of the ground situation and actions in contact.
Sun Tzu in The Art of War (III.2) writes: “Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence: supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”.
Following Sun Tzu, China propagates and practises the “Three Warfare Strategy” of public opinion warfare, psychological warfare, and legal warfare. It is essential for the military, sinologists, and strategists to understand the “Three Warfare Strategy” and their influence operations to be able to discern Beijing’s intentions. In the recent face-off, unlike Doklam, the Chinese media was employed to send mixed signals, some conciliatory and others threatening conflict. In a possibly first of its kind, China did not need to use its massive state-owned information war structures and resources. This task was unwittingly performed by select eager veterans who possibly fell prey to the larger designs of our adversaries, contributing in a major way to China’s “Influence Operations”.
Not to single out anyone but one particular unfounded narrative by Colonel Ajay Shukla (Retd.), a respected journalist of repute, is an indicator. He is one among a few wrote regular broadcasts giving updates on Chinese activities making it seem much larger and grave even blaming the top military commanders for inept handling which was likely to lead to their ultimate sacking. It is another matter that the Army commander is by far one of the best and most experienced soldiers as also one of the best regarded and respected military leader recognised for his gallantry and a cool head. A China expert, he has tenanted all possible appointments along the LAC and the China desk at Military Operations Directorate at Delhi with this author. The larger issue is as these insinuations come from some among those who have served the Army; it does create certain doubts not only in the minds of Indian public but also among the uniformed community and veterans. It is a given fact that the Indian soldier is among the most simple, dedicated, and trusting and hence is an easy target for psychological operations especially from our own community. Given the extensive and real-time reach of social media, such negative narratives from former soldiers do have an adverse impact on the morale of soldiers, creating avoidable dilemmas.
There is no denying the fact that in a democratic India, unlike China, the armed forces have to learn to live under media scrutiny and media glare. The victory in Kargil war is in equal measure due to the media as much as the indomitable fighting spirit of our soldiers. The government should also have provided the media with relevant briefs and press statement taking the military in confidence. The media would definitely have understood that everything can not be in public domain. Lack of official information has also contributed to media speculation and conjecture.
New-age warfare is equally a war of narratives, where fires are brought to bear not only in the kinetic domain but also in the virtual domain. Today’s world is an interconnected networked world with billions having easy and instant access to numerous apps feeding their narratives and perceptions of events to satiate the hunger for information of critical events. India should factor Information warfare in its strategy to deter China’s aggressive behaviour. Former soldiers too need to be taken on board to ensure that they do not unknowingly and inadvertently become tools of our adversaries Information war which adversely impacts the military and national security.
The writer is former DGMO and Director, CENJOWS.
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INDIAN NAVY UNDERTAKES MEDICAL EVACUATION FROM MERCHANT SHIP
On 21 January, based on an input received regarding a medical emergency onboard a Singapore flag merchant vessel MV Eagle Tampa received at the Joint Operations Center at Headquarters Western Naval Command, a Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) was executed by the Indian Navy. The ship, which was 18 nautical miles off the coast of Mumbai, reported a patient, Geetha Selvaraja, a 34-year-old Malaysian citizen, to be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease and was experiencing difficulty in breathing.
Attempts by ship‘s agent JM Baxi & Co to transfer the patient to a tug failed due to high swell in the area. The patient being unconscious, also added to the complexity of the transfer. Following confirmation of two failed attempts to transfer the patient to the tug, an Indian Naval Seaking helicopter from INS Shikra was scrambled for MEDEVAC.
The helicopter picked up the patient from the ship and returned to INS Shikra. The patient was then transferred to Saifee hospital by private ambulance.
How 2021 is being celebrated as ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’
In December 1971, the Indian armed forces secured a decisive and historic victory over the Pakistan Army which led to creation of a new nation—Bangladesh—and also resulted in the largest military surrender after World War II. On 16 December 2020, the nation started the 50th anniversary celebrations of the occasion with an aim to showcase this great victory of the Indian armed forces. Year 2021 is being celebrated as the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ and nationwide year-long celebrations are being undertaken with effect from December 2020.
The commemorative celebrations commenced at National War Memorial, Delhi on 16 Dec 2020 & will culminate in Dec 2021 with a grand closure. As part of the celebrations, Victory Flames were earlier handed over to the Indian Army by Prime MinisterNarendra Modi on 16 December 2020, which will be carried to all four cardinals of the country.
The Nagpur chapter of the celebrations is being conducted from 20-27 January 2021 at various locations in Nagpur and Kamptee.
After having journeyed for more than a month, and travelled to Gwalior, Bhopal and Itarsi, the ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ Victory Flame arrived at Nagpur on 20 January 2021.As part of its stay in the ‘Orange City’, the Victory Flame Team on 21 Jan 2021 marched from Kamptee to the Headquarters of Uttar Maharashtra & Gujarat Sub Area at Sitabuldi Fort and enroute visited important sites/ locations in the city like the Zero Mile Stone and Vidhaan Sabha.
On their arrival, the team was ceremoniously welcomed by a jubilant human chain of soldiers, standing on either sides of the road. Major General Dinesh Hooda, General Officer Commanding, Uttar Maharashtra & Gujarat Sub Area received the ‘Victory Flame’ from the team leader Capt Anirudh.
The team after being felicitated interacted with the GOC, Officers & Other Ranks, and shared their experiences of the travel undertaken till date. The GOC appreciated the zeal & enthusiasm of the Victory Flame Team and exhorted them to live up to the ideals of the Martyrs and War Heroes of the 1971 war. As part of its tour in the city, the flame proceeded to Air Force Station Sonegaon .The Victory Flame Team further plans to visit the Air Force Maintenance Command and also attend the Republic Day celebrations in the city.
ARMY SIGNS MOU WITH SIDM ON INDIGENISATION AND INNOVATION
With the signing of this MoU, Indian Army reiterates its firm resolve towards achieving self-reliance by supporting and handholding the indigenous defence industry.
An MoU between the Indian Army and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) was signed on Thursday to provide further impetus to indigenisation under the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and to achieve strategic independence by reducing dependence on foreign origin equipment. This MoU was signed on the occasion of 25 Years of Army-Industry Partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Collaboration between the Indian Army and the industry started in 1995 with the indigenisation of spares and has progressed to major defence platforms and a wide range of weapons and equipment.
Increasing security challenges due to India›s rising stature in the international community, apart from unresolved borders and revisionist adversaries require continuous and concerted capability building of the Army through modernisation to address them. This can be done by equipping the Army with indigenously built equipment. In order to optimise capability building and single contact with the industry, Indian Army has reorganised itself by aligning both the revenue and capital routes of procurement under Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Capability Development & Sustenance). Army Design Bureau (ADB) has been established to act as a direct facilitator with the industry and thereby connect the defence manufacturers directly with the user. These changes have resulted in a collaborative engagement between the technology provider, the equipment manufacturer and the user.
The Government has made necessary policy changes to support indigenisation and achieving self-reliance in defence sector with the active support from the Army. Industry associations have provided a common platform for industry to interact with Indian Army to showcase their expertise. The inputs of industry go a long way in effecting policy modulation and changes. With the signing of MoU with SIDM, the Army has reiterated its firm resolve towards achieving self-reliance by supporting and handholding indigenous defence industry.
Increasing security challenges due to India›s rising stature in the international community, apart from unresolved borders and revisionist adversaries have led to Indian Army being embroiled in protracted conflicts such as insurgencies and proxy wars. Continuous and concerted capability building of the Army through Modernisation to address these security challenges therefore is a National imperative.
Army Chief General M.M. Naravane speaking at this seminar emphasised on the impetus for partnership between the Army and industry that started in 1995 with indigenisation of spares. Private industry is now providing large defence platforms like artillery guns, bridges, radars and wide range of weapons and equipment. He explained that sustained growth of our industry since 1990s and continued policy impetus for economic growth by the government has made this possible. He said that the platform provided by CII allows outreach to wider industry and bridges gap between user and the manufacturer.
Army Design Bureau (ADB) has been proactively reaching out to the industry in order to handhold indigenous defence industry and harness ready products. This can be done by equipping ourselves increasingly with indigenously built equipment—which we own and can be relied upon, rather than being dependent on continuous imports. Covid-19 pandemic has shown the fragility and disruptions of global supply chain and consequent effect on trade and economic growth. Self-reliance is the only way to insulate ourselves from such disruptions.
The PM’s focus on “aatmanirbharta” and need to achieve strategic independence is key to reduce dependence on foreign origin equipment. India’s industrial capacity and technological capability have matured so that most of our requirements can be realised inshore. Indigenisation plans in defence sector are aligned with ‘Make in India’ initiative to intensify and achieve self-sufficiency in defence equipment as part of Indian Army’s commitment to Nation Building.
The MoD has further strengthened the Armed Forces by according enhanced financial powers to meet instant requirements and is making endeavours for allocating requisite financial outlay. A large number of schemes are at advanced stages of procurement which once approved, would significantly boost the efforts of the Indian Army to transform into a more potent and adaptive force. 75% of projects of 13th Army Plan are being sourced through Make in India.
Enabling policy measures, swift decision making and accelerating process timelines have induced a new sense of direction and there is a strong Make in India traction in many major areas such as combat vehicles, guns, rockets, ammunition, missiles, radars, electronic warfare systems.DAP 2020 has introduced substantial amendments to provide for efficient and expedited procurement of defence technology and equipment, large incentive to the private sector-promising transparency and probity to the process. It aims to promote ‘Make in India’ initiative by fostering growth of the domestic defence industry and re-emphasise priority to ‘BUY (Indian-IDDM)’ equipment and introduces a new chapter on Make III.
The strategic partnership model announced by the Government opens up new opportunities for long term engagements with major private industrial players in the country. The model will facilitate niche tech being transferred to the strategic partners through G2G negotiations and also facilitate development of defence ecosystem capitalising on our large technical talent and integrating large number of start-ups, SMEs and MSMEs. Two defence corridors around existing defence industrial manufacturing hubs will act as a catalyst in attracting new industries and manufacturing facilities. Major testing facilities will be created and logistics connectivity is also planned on being improved.
The government has a targeted turnover of Rs 1.75 lakh crore in defence manufacturing including an export target of Rs 35,000 crore by 2025. The government has announced major policy decisions to include launching of iDEX challenges and reserving projects less than Rs 100 Cr exclusively to smaller companies. The Make III chapter provides opportunities to indigenise spares, sub-assemblies & assemblies after ToT.
The Indian Army has done major changes to its organisational structure to optimise capability building and single contact with the industry. These include aligning both the revenue and capital routes of procurement under Deputy Chief (CD&S), raising ADB as a direct facilitator with the industry, tapping the start-up incubation centres established by IITs and supporting innovative potential of start-ups through DRDO›s Technology Development Fund.
Defence exports have already seen a seven fold increase within three years. Concerted actions by the manufacturers and facilitation by industry associations will assist the government in achieving the stated goal of $5 billion export target by 2025.Innovative solutions include funding of startups (14 so far) through iDEX and iDEX for Fauji, earmarking 13 field firing ranges for internal testing of equipment, organising forward visits by ADB for developers.
SIDM has played a pivotal role during the last six months in enabling indigenous industry to show case equipment in the domain of surveillance drones and specialist vehicles for High Altitude Areas. SIDM has also facilitated series of Start-up Search Webinars conducted by ADB, which was conducted shortly. More than 10 Start-ups have been identified for the innovative use of niche technology.
With the signing of this MoU, Indian Army has reiterated their firm resolve towards achieving self-reliance by supporting and handholding indigenous defence industry.
RAFAEL DEMONSTRATES ADVANCED TACTICAL RADIO AND SENSOR-TO-SHOOTER CAPABILITIES
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. announces that it has completed the second phase of Germany’s Transparent Battlefield study and performed a demonstration of its BNET advanced SDR communication and its Fire Weaver sensor to shooter system for the German Army. The event took place in Paderborn, Germany, in November 2020, in front of representatives from the Bundeswehr and various partners and industries.
The second phase demonstration of the Transparent Battlefield study included live traffic from the Aeronautics Pegasus Drone, along with the Fire Weaver Sensor-to-Shooter system, all carried over the BNET advanced Software Defined Radio (BNET Hand-Held and BNET Vehicular). The demo was hosted by Atos Information GmbH, which acts as the prime contractor for the Transparent Battlefield Study, and included its C2 software as an integral part of the demo.
BNET is a Spectrum-Aware SDR—utilising the spectral arena of the battlefield to the fullest in a cognitive way, using Multi-frequency Channel Reception (MCR), which enables it to receive and analyze information from numerous frequency channels, simultaneously, using a single RF head.
Fire Weaver is a networked sensor to shooter system which provides the tactical forces with a GPS-independent geo-pixel-based tactical common language among all the sensors and shooters, providing optimal situational awareness and improved understanding of the battlefield. Fire Weaver uses Rafael’s advanced artificial intelligence algorithms, processes the battle data, analyzes it, and prioritises fire allocation.
As was published in December 2019, Rafael has partnered with Atos Information GmbH on a project involving the creation of a program named “Transparent Battlefield”, in which unmanned aerial systems and combat vehicles are used to create a 3D picture of mobile operations in real-time. The work will be performed for the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support. Following the completion of the first and second phases, further phases are expected to take place in the coming years.
Yoav Wermuth, VP and head of RAFAEL’s C3I directorate: “Today’s battlefields are undergoing far-reaching changes that affect the operational needs of land, air and naval forces, with newly emerging real-time applications, such as sensor-to-effector cycle closure systems. Rising to meet these challenges, and relying on decades of experience in the development of C4I solutions, Rafael has developed the BNET Family, enhanced with patented technology, and the Fire Weaver, a high-precision, three-dimensional, GPS-independent common visual language system. Integration of these systems into the Bundeswehr will lead to a number of significant changes—it will provide a common visual language among different types of units, not only from the Bundeswehr, but also from allied forces, which share the same threats and missions, connecting multiple sensors and shooters on one single ‘flat’ network.”
Thales, Bharat Dynamics to bring STARStreak air defence system to India
Thales and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), a Government of India enterprise, have signed a Teaming Agreement to work in partnership on the STARStreak Air Defence system with the support of both the governments of India and the United Kingdom. The Teaming Agreement was signed by Thales and BDL in the presence of UK and Indian government representatives in a virtual ceremony in the third week of January 2021.
The representatives from the UK who witnessed the signature included Jeremy Quin (Minister for Defence Procurement) and Mark Goldsack (Head of UK Defence & Security Exports). From India, the Director General Army Air Defence and representative from Army Design Bureau, Indian Army, witnessed the ceremony. N P Diwakar, Director (Technical), BDL, Alex Cresswell, CEO Thales in the UK and Emmanuel de Roquefeuil, VP and Country Director, Thales in India, signed the agreement in the presence of Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd), Chairman and Managing Director, BDL.
On this occasion, the UK Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said “Co-operation between the UK and India continues to develop at pace with much closer ties within our defence equipment programmes and systems. Today’s signing marks the start of the next-generation of missile systems for the Indian Army and reinforces our commitment to work with international partners.” Through the agreement, BDL will become a part of the STARStreak global supply chain, providing the opportunity for export of Indian manufactured components to existing and future STARStreak Air Defence customers, including the UK Armed Forces.
BDL was established in Hyderabad in 1970 as a manufacturing base for guided missiles and allied defence equipment. In 2017, Thales and BDL had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to assess the opportunity for the transfer of technology for STARStreak. The signing of this teaming agreement confirms a positive outcome from that exploration process. This agreement will also provide the opportunity for BDL to offer a ‘Make in India’ STARStreak solution to the Indian Government, with a capability that will match the immediate air defence needs of the Indian Army and Air force, and with 60% of the system manufactured in India. It also represents an opportunity for further UK and Indian Industrial co-operation and will cement the ambition for closer collaboration and co-development between our two nations, supporting the ambitions of our governments’ recently signed Defence Technology and Industrial Capability Cooperation MoU.
Alex Cresswell, CEO of Thales in the UK said:“Today’s signing is a significant milestone for all parties concerned and I look forward to Thales and BDL developing a close working relationship. This is good news for our business in Belfast in Northern Ireland, for the strong supply chain of UK SMEs with whom we work and for our teams in India. The UK and India have a strong tradition of industrial partnership in defence, innovation and sharing technology and we are thankful to both the Governments for their strong support to this excellent initiative.”
Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd), Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Dynamics Limited, in his address stated that “partnership between Thales and BDL in this project with Transfer of Technology for STARStreak will create a new business opportunity for BDL and its Supply Chain Partners in India. BDL will be able to enhance its footprints in the export market in addition to domestic market with this new business opportunity. The Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ programme, the ‘ease of doing business’ and recent ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiatives have created a congenial ecosystem for the foreign OEMs to tie up with Indian Industries like BDL to establish the production facility in India,” he added.
The STARStreak missile system is in service in the British Army and has been procured by defence forces worldwide. The fastest missile in its category, STARStreak is unique due to its three laser-guided darts, which cannot be jammed by any known countermeasure. It has the capability to defeat any air target—even armoured helicopters—as the last line of defence.
DRDO SIGNS MOU WITH TRANSPORT MINISTRY FOR GEOHAZARD MANAGEMENT
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has entered into a framework memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) to strengthen collaboration in the field of technical exchange and co-operation on sustainable geohazard management.
The MoU was signed on Wednesday between Dr G. Satheesh Reddy, Secretary of DDR&D and DRDO Chairman, and Giridhar Aramane, Secretary of MoRTH. As per the agreement, DRDO and MoRTH will co-operate in various mutually beneficial areas related to geohazard management. The initiative will ensure safety against the adverse effects of landslides and other natural calamities on national highways in the country.
DRDO’s Defence Geo-Informatics Research Establishment (DGRE) is working for the development of critical technologies for enhancing combat effectiveness in various kinds of terrains and avalanches. The expertise of DGRE in mapping, forecasting, control and mitigation of landslides and avalanches in Himalayan terrain will be utilized for designing national highways including tunnels. Terrain and modelling simulation is an important asset with DGRE, which will play an important role in planning and building robust road infrastructure in difficult terrains.
MoRTH is responsible for development & maintenance of National Highways across the country. It has been agreed that the expertise of DRDO will be utilised in providing sustainable mitigation measures to damages caused by landslides, avalanche and other natural factors on various National Highways in the Country.
Some of the areas identified for collaboration include detailed investigation of the critical avalanches/geohazards, planning, designing and formulation of sustainable mitigation measures for geohazards on national highways including tunnels, monitoring and supervision of mitigation measures, etc.
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