THREAT OF DRONE/SWARM STRIKES
The drone/swarm strike on Saudi Arabian oil fields, the influence of Turkish drones in Libya and Syria against the Russians and the more recent Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict has brought home to the Indian Armed Forces the stark reality of such weapon systems. The danger of low-cost armed drones and swarm attacks will take its toll on mechanised forces and the combat support elements with it.
Turkey’s Bayraktar TB-2 drones, which helped Azerbaijan cause immense destruction of Armenian combat assets, have brought to the forefront the threat to the modern tank. The TB-2 carries four Smart Micro Munitions (laser-guided missiles) and it is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle capable of ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) and armed attack missions.
With the rapport between Turkey and Pakistan, India has concerns of its proliferation to its adversary. China is another source of supply; however, the Turkish drones are based on NATO technology which is more advanced as compared to the Chinese.
OTHER THREATS NOT BEEN COUNTERED FULLY
The drone has been a major threat for some time now—the realisation of which has come about in India after seeing its effects on the battlefield. However, there are other threats which exist and will possibly dictate the design of the AFVs.
Underbelly mines, attack from a handheld RL/ATGM launcher in close terrain, electronically EM generated pulse destroying the electronics of a modern day AFV, top-attack ATGM/munition are some of them—not fully countered but only wished away.
The APFSDS round remains the primary threat to the tank. However, tank to tank battles are few in the modern era of warfare and the utilisation of a tank to neutralise an enemy tank is increasingly thought as a non-optimal use of the ‘bully’.
RELEVANCE OF TANKS ON BATTLEFIELD
Destruction of war potential and economic resources is taking root as the modern dictum of war, as compared to the occupation of territory. Advanced countries across the world are evolving towards building up extensive conventional destruction capability with flexible means of delivery. These act as deterrents to any misadventure by adversaries.
The tank, with its ability to close in with the enemy and cause destruction with its firepower, when duly supported by suitably configured combat element, retains its supremacy on the battlefield, especially on open terrain. There has always been a race between its protection measures and the evolving threats on the battlefield, but the tank, despite the challenges, has come out on top.
COUNTER TO MODERN THREATS
There is no doubt that the tank/AFV, as a weapon platform, is losing its invincibility to much cheaper and flexible platforms. So, to maintain its relevance, the tank must evolve as a weapon system duly augmented with protection systems to make it an integrated platform rather than just a munition delivery platform.
The existing ERA panel can counter the drone/swarm CE projectile. However, a Mobility (M)-Kill or Fighting (F)-Kill cannot be obviated with surety. What is required is:
· An AFV counter measure and protection active system such as the Trophy or the Afghanit Active Protection System, fitted in the Israeli Merkava and the Russian ARMATA-14 tank. The upgraded Trophy has also been reportedly fitted on the US M1A1 Abraham recently. The Trophy and the Russian Arena systems were under consideration for procurement and response to RFP had been issued eight years back when the case was shelved before the trials, after the Russians backed out. The coverage of the detector must be enhanced to 360 degrees in both vertical and horizontal planes and the capability to take on multiple targets as well as two or three drones following closely behind each other. A salient aspect of consideration is that the Armenian T-72s destroyed did not have either the Russian Arena or the Afghanit Systems.
· Besides the AFV on-board detection systems, the Combat Team and Combat Group will have to be constituted with platforms having the ability to detect and counter the threat. For detection, frequency modulated continuous wave scanning array radars are the best option. To carry a warhead capable of neutralising an AFV, the kamikaze drone/seeking munition will have to have a side radar cross-section (RCS) of at least a meter. The problem is in a head-on projectile wherein the RCS posed to the radar is sub-meter which becomes difficult to detect, for both on-board and off-board systems. Therefore, the systems will have to be evolved wherein real-time information interchange can take place from off-target on-board/off-board radars which may have a view of a larger cross-section and launch/control of the nearest/target on-board/off-board counter measure can be done through a non-direct dependent system. On-board Active Systems have small ranges of emission so as not to interfere with each other and other emitting devices. Frequency protocols will have to be strengthened to enable longer range fighting platform based active detectors.
For area neutralisation, the vulnerability of the kamikaze drone or seeking/guided munition in its GPS/back-link systems, through EW resources, will have to be exploited once a swarm attack is detected. The GPS Spoofer, the Drone Gun/RF Jammer are examples of the EM spectrum neutralising equipment. We would need both an on-board AFV jammer as well as an off-board, bigger and more powerful jammer, all integrated with each other. Ensuring that one’s own communications are not disrupted should be achieved by dis-synchronised rapid frequency hopping radio sets and jammers. The same frequency of the frequency hopping RS should not be jammed at any instant while the full bandwidth is covered by the jammer, using time differential.
The threat of hand-held rocket launchers or anti-tank missiles can be looked after by the on-board Active Protection System. However, with the present capability to launch missiles in tandem, each also with tandem warheads, one behind the other, at the same point, the potential to defeat the Explosive Reactive Armour as well as the Active Protection System exists. The same has to be upgraded with the ability to take on two closely followed attacks in the same line; detection of the second threat, through off-board systems with real-time info exchange and multiple counter projectile capability in sub-second time-differential.
Under-belly mines are largely influence mines. Adding more armour to the belly is a solution, however, at the cost of its weight. Irrespective of the additional armour plating, the on-board Remote Actuation of Influence Mine System (RAIM) is required for each AFV. The system was tried out 10 years back but failed due to non-adherence to the stringent test standards. We need to take another look at it.
There is no protection against an APFSDS round. It will achieve either total destruction, through a K-Kill or an M-Kill or at least an F-Kill, through the energy it transfers even if it does not penetrate. The penetration capabilities are going upwards of 540mm and the armour protection required is increasing, creating logistics problems. The design of the turret and low silhouette are some of the passive measures. However, we need to look at futuristic systems that can be carried in advance elements of the AFV complement, which can fry/disrupt the electronics of the enemy tank to prevent an accurate attack. Energy delivery of such systems will remain a problem. The drone weapon delivery system to destroy such threats is a countermeasure, which must exist at the CT/CG level.
IMPLICATION ON THE WEIGHT OF AFV
The world over, the MBT is reaching 60T while the ICV 25T. In India, we are restricted by the logistics constraints against a 60T tank and the self-imposed operational necessity for all the ICV to float, in the name of flexibility of employment, wherein the equipment can be employed in all terrains.
Flexibility of employment of resources insofar as the ability to deploy the same equipment across the frontage of the country and overseas, which remained the bane of many a designer, is gradually being replaced by the philosophy of equipment designed to accomplish its role in a finite terrain and environment configuration. This has largely been forced upon by niche technology products, so designed to deliver optimum results at peak performance levels to attain supremacy on the battlefield, under conditions of design and flexibility constraints. In addition, each theater/sector of operations has its peculiar requirements, and it is essential to evaluate the battle array and the characteristics of the equipment.
The Heavy ICV, while being the most lethal in its mobility, armament and protection capabilities which gives it the true ability to fight alongside armour, lacks the ability to swim. It will require a change in the mindset of employment of forces, which is presently focused on floatation capability across the entire front. Specific configurations for specific roles and terrain considerations are required to optimise capabilities and the Heavy ICV does lend itself for employment in the areas of the desert most suitably.
In view of terrain considerations, especially post winter when the snow melts and the ground is boggy, we need light tanks and light ICVs with low silhouette for HAA, duly equipped with Active Counter Measure (CM) systems and RAIM, to obviate the chance of being hit. Once hit, they will remain hit. The important part is offensive capability, i.e., a heavy gun 125mm and a missile capability on a platform which can speedily manoeuvre.
The requirement of floatation dictates light ICVs for water obstacle-ridden terrain. These could be supplemented by heavy ICVs for the break-out battle and moving through the Built Up Area. In both cases, medium tanks, duly equipped with Counter Measure (CM) Systems, are required.
For open terrain, like deserts, heavy tanks and heavy ICVs are the answer. They must be equipped with all systems as enumerated above.
Dedicated HB and AB vectors like UAVs, for the CG, to act as surveillance and strike platforms, become necessary for early warning and strike at launch platforms. These, when equipped with sensors, duly integrated with the CG combat support systems, can neutralise the launch platform as well as give an early warning to activate CM systems, especially those linked with jamming and AFV on-board/off-board detection and neutralisation.
To neutralise the enemy weapon threat, it is necessary to have the capability to do the same to him. Loitering munition has been the case languishing in procurement procedural bureaucracy for too long. If you have similar swarm capabilities, a strike on enemy support/surveillance/launch platforms is feasible. The solution lies in acquiring the capability which in itself can neutralise enemy capability in this field as well as bring long range destructive resources onto targets on the battlefield. Development in India in this field has been accelerated and possibly will fructify soon. This, however, does not preclude bringing in capability from outside to cover the lag period till self-sustenance is achieved.
All new technologies that come into use in warfare may be termed as ‘disruptive’. In fact, the whole purpose of fielding a new technology is to change the status quo, whether in terms of equipment or in warfighting techniques.
Although certain technologies like direct energy weapons, high energy lasers, hypersonic strike technology and others are yet to mature and be weaponised, it is about time that we reviewed our equipment capability and national prowess to deal with such current and developing technologies. It appears likely that the already prodigious levels of technological innovation the world has witnessed over the last one or two decades will continue to accelerate going forward. Certainly, it is better to address them than to ignore such realistic threats/enablers before they progress to the point where we are too late to develop these technologies ourselves or to design countermeasures.
There are no low-cost options to neutralise the threats to the tank. The tank, while being necessary on the battlefield, will become expensive to equip and logistically sustain. For the cost-differential in a financially constrained economy, the solution is to look at the numbers that are required. The configuration of the tank squadron has remained four troops since WWII, despite the tank itself increasing in its lethality, ranges of observation and engagement, accuracy, engagement techniques from 3-round engagement to single round with higher kill probability and rate of fire. We need to optimise to reach the capacity to modernise and to meet the challenges in a modern battlefield environment.
The writer is a combat Arms Officer, retired as the Addl DG, Weapon and Equipment, Indian Army, and currently heads the Aerospace and Defence vertical at Primus Partners. The officer has commanded a Counter Insurgency Force in J&K and has extensive operational experience in the Valley and Ladakh as well as with Mechanised Operations.
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MOD SIGNS CONTRACT WITH GSL FOR CONSTRUCTION OF 2 PCV FOR INDIAN COAST GUARD
The Ministry of Defence signed a contract with Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) for the construction of two Pollution Control Vessels (PCVs) for the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) at a cost of about Rs 583 cr. These Special Role ships will be indigenously designed, developed and built by GSL. The acquisition is under ‘Buy Indian — Indigenously Designed Developed & Manufactured (Buy Indian-IDDM)’, the highest priority category for defence capital procurements.
The acquisition will significantly augment the capability of ICG to respond to Oil spill disasters at sea and also enhance Pollution Response (PR) efficiency. These two vessels are scheduled for delivery by November 2024 and May 2025 respectively. At present, ICG has three PCVs in its fleet at Mumbai, Visakhapatnam and Porbandar to carry out dedicated Pollution Surveillance, Oil spill monitoring/Response operations in Indian EEZ and around islands. The new PCVs planned are for pollution response requirements in Eastern and the ecologically sensitive Andaman & Nicobar Regions.
The vessels, with the capability of operating helicopter onboard, will have many advanced features with modern PR equipment of niche technology for containing, recovering and dispersing marine oil spill. While meeting the objectives of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the contract would further boost the indigenous shipbuilding capability and increase employment opportunities in the shipbuilding sector that involves around 200 MSME vendors.
IAF, NAVY CONDUCT PASSAGE EXERCISE WITH US NAVY CARRIER STRIKE GROUP
Indian Naval Ships Kochi and Teg along with P8I and MiG 29K aircraft are participating in a Passage Exercise with the US Navy Carrier Strike Group Ronald Reagan during its transit through Indian Ocean Region on 23 and 24 June. The Indian Naval warships along with aircraft from Indian Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF) will be engaged in joint multi-domain operations with the Carrier Strike Group comprising Nimitz class aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey and Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser, USS Shiloh.
The two-day exercise aims to strengthen the bilateral relationship and cooperation by demonstrating the ability to integrate and coordinate comprehensively in maritime operations. High tempo operations during the exercise include advanced air defence exercises, cross deck helicopter operations and anti-submarine exercises. The participating forces will endeavour to hone their war-fighting skills and enhance their interoperability as an integrated force to promote peace, security and stability in the maritime domain. Indian Navy and the US Navy regularly undertake a host of bilateral and multilateral exercises which underscore the shared values as partner navies, in ensuring commitment to an open, inclusive and rule-based international order.
IAF AND USN IN THE INDIAN OCEAN REGION
As a strategic outreach exercise with the defence forces of friendly foreign countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the IAF participating in operational engagements with the US Navy in an exercise to be carried out with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG). The CSG is currently deployed in the IOR.
The exercise in the Area of Responsibility (AoR) of Southern Air Command will see the IAF forces operate from bases under four operational commands and will include Jaguars & Su-30 MKI fighters, AWACS, AEW&C and Air to Air Refueller aircraft. The US CSG is expected to field F-18 fighters and E-2C Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft. The exercise will be carried out south of Thiruvananthapuram, on the western seaboard, over two days.
IAF has extensive experience in maritime operations in the IOR. This has been consolidated over the years by the conduct of exercises from the country’s island territories including participation in international exercises. The multispectral capability of the IAF in IOR also includes HADR missions and logistics support undertaken in support of friendly nations in the region.
This engagement offers one more opportunity to undertake joint operations in the maritime domain with a friendly foreign power. The exercise with the US CSG will focus on multiple areas including enhancing aspects of interoperability, nuances of international integrated maritime SAR operations and exchange of best practices in the maritime airpower domain.
DEFENCE SECRETARY CALLS FOR ACTIVE COLLABORATIONS TO FIGHT COVID-19 AT 9TH MOSCOW CONFERENCE
The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation is holding the 9th Moscow Conference on International Security between 22 to 24 June. The conference, held annually since 2012, is an important security dialogue. Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar participated in the plenary session of the 9th Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow. On the topic ‘Role of Military Agencies in fighting against Covid-19,’ he said, “Active collaborations, research partnerships and leveraging each other’s strengths are the ways ahead to fight pandemics like Covid-19”. Defence Ministers of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Sudan and UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping among others participated in the session.
Noting that global challenges like Covid-19 make no distinction among nations, the Defence Secretary stressed bolstering infrastructure and capabilities for global response to prevent the eruption of such diseases in future. He urged the international community to focus on proactive vaccinations and keep ahead of the curve to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. “Emerging technologies must be leveraged. For example, Artificial Intelligence can be put to use for infection prediction, data analysis and Covid diagnostics with greater accuracy,” he suggested.
On the India-Russia defence relations, Dr Kumar termed the ties as an integral pillar of the Special & Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries. He welcomed Russia’s willingness to actively engage in India’s ‘Make in India’ program for co-development and production of high technology defence items. He looked forward to the visit of Russian Defence Minister General Sergei Shoigu to India later this year for the next meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military & Military-Technical Cooperation.
Highlighting India’s assistance to other countries in fighting the pandemic, the Defence Secretary said, “India not only fought its own battle, but it also helped and continues to help friendly foreign nations to withstand Covid-19.” Even at a time of great medical and economic stress, India supported others unhesitatingly, inspired by its ancient belief of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — ‘the world is one tfamily’, he added. Right when the first wave of the pandemic had struck, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to combat Covid-19 together in the region.
The Defence Secretary highlighted India’s support to friendly nations by deploying Rapid Response Medical Teams to provide medical assistance to those in need. Medical supplies of various kinds were sent to 150 countries. Through the spring and summer of 2020, India was the main supplier of basic medicine of that time — paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine, to over 120 countries, he said. On the ‘Vande Bharat’ Mission, he said it was the largest logistical exercise of its kind ever undertaken that enabled movement by air and sea of seven million people, including evacuating over 120,000 foreigners from 120 nations stranded in India, when most of the world’s airlines were closed.
Dr Kumar said today India is one of the largest eco-systems for the pandemic support industry, including the second-largest producer of PPE kits. He said the pandemic triggered innovations across the domain of medical demands and the industry developed a variety of Covid related medicines, vaccines, ventilators, equipment, diagnostic kits and other supplies which have been supplied to nearly 150 countries.
The Defence Secretary reiterated the Government’s resolve to make vaccines and drugs effective and affordable for all, terming vaccination as the mainstay of the country’s response to the pandemic. He also stated that as of date, India’s contribution of 66 million doses of vaccine to other countries is the largest from any country.
Dr Kumar described Russia as a front-ranking fighter against Covid-19 and hoped that the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V will play a significant role in mitigating the pandemic in India. “Mass production of the vaccine in India is expected to commence soon. A total of about 900 million doses of Sputnik V are expected to be produced in India, accounting for 70% of its global production,” he said.
Elaborating on the efforts made by the Ministry of Defence & the Armed Forces in augmenting medical facilities and providing aid to civil authorities in India and abroad in the fight against Covid-19, the Defence Secretary lauded the contribution of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the three Services as well as Directorate General Armed Forces Medical Services (DG AFMS). He said DRDO figured out the most promising use of 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) which is effective against Covid-19.
He added that DRDO established Covid Care facilities in a matter of days and embarked to set up 500 medical oxygen plants using the Medical Oxygen Plant technology developed for on‐board oxygen generation on Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
Commending the Armed Forces for assisting the civil authorities, Dr Kumar stated that within days of the first wave, Army set up several isolation facilities and ran special military trains to transport medical supplies. On the efforts during the second wave, he said Indian Navy sent a huge number of medical supplies and teams to Indian Ocean Region, while 11 Naval ships ferried in over 1,500 metric tonnes of emergency Liquid Medical Oxygen. Indian Air Force carried out approximately 1,800 sorties and lifted 15,000 metric tonnes of essential medical supplies from within the country and abroad, he added. The Defence Secretary complimented AFMS for deploying additional doctors, including retired doctors and paramedics, and manning the hospitals 24×7 for Service personnel as well as civilians.
CHINA VS CHINA: UNRAVELLING AN INTERESTING BATTLE
China, as we see it today, will not be the same in another five years. India needs to be cognisant of this fact and script a long-term strategy to handle the emerging Dragon.
Galwan happened last year. A lot of water has flown in Indus. Sino Indian animosity is ascendant. Beyond a doubt, China is inimical to India’s interests in every respect. Chinese hatred of India was evident in the picture of a Chinese rocket at take-off besides a burning Indian pyre. China mocked India during our grief of the second wave. It also ensured that help does not reach India on one pretext or the other. Further, China does not understand another civilisation antithetical to its own in all respects — religion, culture, practices, ethnicities, and politics. A singular and homogeneous China and a heterogeneous and plural India have no common ground. Indian democracy has strengths far beyond the authoritarian CCP. India is a major threat to China in ways beyond our own self-deprecating and dismissive imagination. George Fernandes once said, “China is India’s number one enemy”. We should treat it accordingly.
As we move into the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, new equations are emerging. China was projected as a technological, economic, and financial giant. The Chinese dream was being rejuvenated through the greatest military on earth. The general belief was that China is the next superpower, set to dominate the world. A reality check is needed. Contrary to popular perception, emerging challenges faced by China are more than the opportunities presenting themselves. People might not agree with me. However, like the Chinese, I would like to see things in the long term.
China has entered its historical phase of ‘China vs China’. We need to understand this phenomenon. Historically, one generation of communist China has seeded major problems for the next generation. Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ led to the great famine where millions perished in hunger. It generated widespread poverty till the next generation. Deng Xiaoping, accredited with opening up China, also started the ‘One Child Policy’. It is now propelling China into a demographic disaster. Xi Jinping’s ‘Rejuvenation of China’s Dream’ program marked by aggression and assertion has already put the next generations at risk. China’s naked ambition has put it under severe scrutiny, which it had escaped so far. There is a discernible switch from ‘aided’ to ‘impeded’ growth. ‘Cooperation’ has turned to ‘contestation’. Major fault lines — short and long term — crisscrossing each other have emerged.
Demography: South China Morning Post published a series of 16 articles on China’s demography recently. It has not published a 16 series analysis so far in the past two years. This unprecedented analysis indicates the bleakness of the future with no solutions offered. The graph published recently by Renmin University defines the problem. The Renmin University figures are doctored to show the ‘State’ in a good light. Hence the problem is even graver. China’s population is shrinking irrevocably. The current fertility rate is 1.3 children per woman, which is well below the replacement level of 2.1. In just five years, the ratio of working population to non-working (dependent) population will be 60: 40 and will continue to reduce further. Working hands which have already reduced from 10:1 to 5:1 will further decrease. The situation, as per many analysts will be far worse. The recently enunciated ‘three child policy’ is a panic reaction. It is not a solution. People cannot afford to raise one child leave alone three. Girls do not want to get married. The gender ratio is skewed with 30 million unmarried men. Life expectancy has increased to 80. Old people are increasing and social security is inadequate. China will have to spend phenomenal sums on pensions. Pension funds are emptying and risk running dry. China’s younger workforce is decreasing. The middle and old age workforce are not suited for disruptive technologies. Technological superiority is a chimaera. China has a zero migration policy hence population inversion cannot take place as it does in the US. Further, even PLA does not have quality recruits. It has already lowered education, height and eyesight requirements. Look at it anyway — reducing population, reducing the workforce, shrinking pool for high technology, increasing old people, lowered standards for the army, reducing marriages, and reducing childbirths. Combine it with the headwinds on the economic front and its increased global footprint. People are the base for any nation. That is irretrievably skewed.
Virus and Vaccines: The inefficiency of Chinese vaccines is now admitted by Chinese themselves. This is now proven by a rethink in Seychelles, the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and others. It also highlights the weaknesses of China’s technology. It will have a diplomatic fallout. The important issue is the internal effect. The virus is mutating with a shorter incubation period, faster transmission, greater virulence and higher viral load. New mutations are clearly beyond the Chinese vaccines. Chinese people remain unvaccinated. “China is at a very critical moment,” Zhong Nanshan, their top respiratory disease expert, said in a recent interview. “When other countries have been very well vaccinated, and China still lacks immunity, then that will be very dangerous”. The Chinese playbook of vast testing, strict movement controls and intense scrutiny of international arrivals will now impede economic growth. The new outbreaks suggest that the virus will circulate in China for a long. Look at it from any point of view — economic, technological, diplomatic or political- the law of diminishing returns is setting in for the Chinese. China will not break free ahead of others.
Viral Stigma: There is no doubt that the Virus originated in Wuhan. The question is whether it was a natural zoonotic transmission or an engineered one which leaked out? Was it biological warfare? The lab leak theory, though based on circumstantial evidence, is getting stronger by the day. There has been no logical explanation about the natural origins of the Virus. Scientific investigation indicates that something fishy was going on in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). That is reinforced by the fact that China has sealed all data of the WIV and is refusing to part with any information. China has hidden a lot. Hereafter, whether it is confirmed or not, China will be blamed and lampooned for the origin of the virus — officially or unofficially. Theories of biological warfare will abound. Chinese secrecy, aggression and attitude will enhance the perceptions. Loss of face in private is assured if not in public. China will carry the cross of this virus to stigmatise future generations. More the denial, greater will be the sticking power. China will be equated to the virus eventually. This will start appearing in all kinds of literature, school and history books. Repercussions will be wide-ranging and well into the future.
Afghanistan: The moment of reckoning for China —the wannabe superpower, has arrived. Till now China had the insurance of the US’s presence in Afghanistan. That will vanish in September. China has to protect its interests on its own hereafter. It must secure its borders and stop extremism spilling over into Xinjiang. Its $3 billion investment in a giant copper mine in Aynak must be secured. It has to prop up a failing Pakistan to keep the CPEC and BRI going. It has already established a military base 12-14 Km from the Tajik-Afghan border and 30 km from the Tajik-China border in Gorno-Badakhshan province around 2019. It is in the process of constructing a road through the Wakhan Corridor. Chinese commitment in Afghanistan is set to increase in ways unknown. China is coming into the military centre stage wittingly or otherwise. Inevitably, it will have to shed blood to protect its interests. Slowly this military involvement will spread internationally. The military costs will go up and overstretch will commence.
Outlook and Image: The images and epithets associated with China are wolf warriorism, assertion, aggression, debt-trap diplomacy, IPR theft, currency manipulation, untrustworthy, coercion, threats, corruption, and human rights abuses. Overall, a negative image has developed over the past year. Chinese actions have matched these descriptions in the South China Sea, Hongkong, Eastern Ladakh, Paracels, Australia, EU, Taiwan, Senkaku’s, Xinjiang, Tibet, and many more. The Chinese are also attempting to repair their image. Despite that, China continues with its arrogant outlook and ideology. For example, China came to an understanding with the EU on a new investment pact. It was touted as a diplomatic coup. EU imposed some sanctions due to severe human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China retaliated with sanctions on some EU politicians and entities. In response, the European Parliament paused the ratification of its new investment pact with China. China has now started shooting itself in its foot. It is a typical China vs China story.
Exclusion: Throughout last year, the expectation was that China will be isolated. In a globalised and interconnected world, China has created multiple dependencies. Isolation will never occur. That is clear. However, something else is taking shape. The leaders of ‘G7’ (Germany, Japan, France, the UK, Canada, the US, Italy and Canada) plus Australia, South Korea, India and South Africa met recently (11 to 13 June). This is the first major meet of the world’s powerful democracies during the pandemic. The focus was on China, alternate supply chains and rivalling the Belt and Road. The significant issue is that in a year, two frameworks – ‘QUAD’ and ‘G7 Plus’ have evolved from which China has been excluded. The larger implication is that China might see the birth of international systems from which it is excluded and in which it is the main antagonist. China has to swim against the very current which helped its rise. The portents are ominous.
View it from any angle. All the issues which have been highlighted are interrelated and interdependent. They will detract from the Comprehensive National Power of China. Very importantly, China has no control over them. They are autarkic and will run their course in different directions. Issues related to economics, BRI, pollution, food security, energy security, environment, and climate change have not been factored in. Many of these issues were analysed in an earlier article. Everyone talks of the great military, but most of it can hardly be used. This is the great superpower which we will have to contend with. In a decade our adversary will be old and not rich. I had written about the Chernobyl factor in an article. I am more than convinced that it will come true. The China we see today will not be China in another five years. China vs China is an interesting battle that is unfolding. India needs to be cognisant of these facts and script a long term strategy to handle the emerging China.
Lt Gen PR Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the Modernisation and Indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on www.gunnersshot.com
China does not understand another civilisation antithetical to its own in all respects—religion, culture, practices, ethnicities, and politics. A singular and homogeneous China and a heterogeneous and plural India have no common ground. Indian democracy has strengths far beyond the authoritarian CCP. India is a major threat to China in ways beyond our own self-deprecating and dismissive imagination.
ANDAMAN & NICOBAR COMMAND CELEBRATES WORLD HYDROGRAPHY DAY
Lieutenant General Ajai Singh, Commander-in-Chief Andaman & Nicobar Command (CINCAN) participated in commemorating the Centenary of the World Hydrography Day on Monday. The occasion is celebrated by the Hydrographic fraternity of the Indian Navy every year through a series of coordinated events at the respective Commands to spread awareness of hydrography and its contribution in ensuring safe navigation at sea as well as to showcase achievements and contributions of the Indian Naval Hydrographic Organisation. The theme for the event this year is “100 years of International Cooperation in Hydrography”.
The CINCAN appreciated the yeoman service by the Indian Naval Hydrographic Organisation in capacity building initiatives among littorals in the Indian Ocean Region through hydrographic surveys and providing world-class training to personnel from friendly foreign nations. The surveys help in augmenting the Sagarmala project under the NITI Aayog for the sustainable development of A&N Islands.
The Hydrographic Survey Unit at Port Blair under HQ ANC is responsible for the surveys around the A&N Islands and is fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for the conduct, analysis and preparation of reports of hydrographic surveys. HSU (PBR) participates in various joint operations with the Indian Army and Indian Air Force within the Andaman and Nicobar Command. The Unit has successfully conducted surveys for RCS 3.0 — UDAN, the prestigious Government of India project under regional connectivity by playing a vital role in identifying suitable seaplane landing sites at four locations in the Andaman group of islands at Shaheed Dweep, Swaraj Dweep, Hut Bay and Long Island, which will boost regional connectivity and tourism.
Indian Navy hydrography ships Sutlej from Southern Naval Command and Nirupak from Eastern Naval Command are currently deployed for hydrographic survey in Andaman and Nicobar Islands since April 2021. These ships utilise state-of-the-art Multi-beam Bathymetric Data Acquisition Systems to survey and update navigational charts of the A&N Islands. All Covid protocol measures were followed by the personnel present at the event.
INS SHIVAJI ORGANISES VARIOUS ACTIVITIES TO MARK YOGA DAY
The International Yoga Day celebrates the physical and spiritual prowess that yoga has brought to the world stage. While it is an important source of exercise and healthy activity, there are many benefits of practising yoga daily. This is a useful way to connect the body, mind, and soul in a way that exists for centuries. INS Shivaji undertook various activities towards the celebration of the International Yoga Day at Station Lonavla from 19 to 21 June. Keeping Covid-19 protocols in mind, a yoga workshop and seminar for personnel and trainee officers and sailors in the cohort group was conducted by a qualified yoga instructor.
As part of virtual yoga practice, yoga sessions were conducted for Naval personnel as available in the Namaste Yoga app launched by the Government of India. Personnel and families also undertook yoga sessions offered by the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga at their respective residences. Quiz and essay competitions were conducted for trainee sailors to educate them about the importance of yoga in daily life. To enlighten the significance of yoga, home guidelines and a list of digital resources available in the open network were uploaded on the unit LAN/website. Towards awareness of daily yoga practice, banners with the theme “Be with Yoga, Be at Home” were displayed at prominent locations.
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