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INS Shardul arrives with 233 Indians from Iran

Ashish Singh

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The ship set sail from Bandar Abbas port of Iran on 8 June.

Indian Naval Ship (INS) Shardul, deployed for operation Samudra Setu, entered Porbander harbour with 233 Indian nationals onboard, who were earlier evacuated from Bandar Abbas port in Iran. Personnel from Indian Navy, state authorities and police were present to receive the evacuees.

All arrangements including a screening zone, a sanitisation zone, availability of ambulances and buses for transport were put in place at the port. The evacuees were disembarked and were taken for medical screening at the jetty followed by customs clearance and other formalities. The evacuees thereafter boarded buses arranged to take them to the designated quarantine zones. State and district wise details of the evacuees had already been forwarded to the administration beforehand.

 Operation Samudra Setu is the Indian Navy’s operation in India’s national efforts to facilitate return of Indian citizens from foreign shores. So far a total of 3,107 Indian citizens have been brought back from Maldives (2,188), Sri Lanka (686) and Iran (233) by Indian Naval ships Jalashwa, Magar and Shardul.

Defence

Sino-Indian logjam: Facts, risks, options and the sum of all fears

If winter is here, spring can’t be far behind for Indian Army to trounce China’s People’s Liberation Army. Indian forces should pay Chinese back in their own coin.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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LAC standoff

China may be reinforcing eastern Ladakh with additional troops, but it does not realise that high-altitude warfare is vastly different. Why? Simple. Difference between political and professional armies. Isolated more than ever before, China is already in a trap of its own making. Now, Indian forces should hold tight, maintain a low profile but stay vigilant till winter sets in. Once winter sets in, they should start harassing the Chinese in the rear and spook them in the front.

Battle Indicators: Global Times’ videos indicate that PLA is rehearsing for an offensive. Air defence drills around Lhasa. Fibre optic cables being laid in Spangur. Early battle indicators. The real indicator will be dumping artillery ammunition and build up. When that happens, real business is afoot. Till then relax or chew your nails. Notwithstanding, since the Chinese are chafing to teach us a lesson. So what is in the offing?

Hardening Defences: Indian Infantry has dug in at the heights for two weeks. The defences are hardening and getting coordinated. It means overhead protection, stocking and obstacle laying. A defensive fire plan is evolving with IAF, Artillery, Tanks and Infantry Mortars in the mix. Selected and surveyed targets would be Chinese assembly areas, routes of ingress, forming up places(FUPs) for assault, enemy gun areas, HQs and more. Suffice to say that the Chinese will get a hell of a whack. The Chinese have focused on mechanisation by rote. That is contained in their White Paper as a doctrine. They did not realise that High Altitude warfare is vastly different. Why? Simple. Difference between political and professional armies.

I hope that Global Times’ editor is around to photograph hilarious Chinese sergeant majors blowing whistles and trumpets to commence ferocious attacks. His story will be different now — how drones used for food are being multitasked for body bag delivery. Everyone says that China will attack and teach India a lesson. Good. Let’s do some honest analysis.

Isolation Reinforced: After Wang Yi’s visit to EU states, Germany has opted on the side of democracies in the Indo Pacific region. That was inevitable. Indonesia refused to provide any bases for the Chinese. They are now objecting to Chinese transgressions in the Natuna Seas. The spat with Australia is worsening. India and Japan have signed a defence pact. The Taiwanese have warned that any more violation of their airspace will invite retaliatory action. There are reports which say that a Sino-US armed conflict is getting more real. China is more isolated than ever. Internally, Inner Mongolia continues to fester. Tibet is getting revived. Xinjiang issue is on the verge of revival. India can help both along. Hong Kong is not out of the news. The right time to ramp up the conflict with another Nuclear Power? Great Chinese strategic thinking.

Lebensraum and Persecuted Victimhood: Before Nazi offensives and pogroms, Hitler sold the ‘Lebensraum Dream’ and the ‘Persecuted Victimhood Complex’ to Germany. Something similar is happening in China. Initially Xi Jinping sold the ‘China Dream’, pronounced a period of great strategic opportunity and started building the greatest military on earth. He brainwashed Chinese that the CCP way was the best during the Wuhan Virus crisis. Pogroms against the Uighurs are well documented. He has spoken of solidifying Tibet security and communising religion. Wayward Hong Kongers are brought in line. He pronounces that China will follow the Communist economic model come what may. He popularises himself with people by visiting them during floods. He is invoking people to overcome hardships due to denial of technologies – imported seeds for agriculture, critical components in manufacturing, dependence on oil imports, distribution of water resources and pharmaceuticals and medical equipment for an ageing population. The position of the CCP inside China is being constantly consolidated.

The emerging picture — ‘Persecuted Victimhood Complex’ of China being denied and pushed into a corner by a disintegrating and inimically jealous world. External picture. China is ordained to rule the world. Only China can win — at any cost. Every one falls in line. Political, economic, diplomatic or military coercion works, always and every time. China will expand based on some mythological irredentism. ‘Aggressive Lebensraum’. The world, ravaged by the Virus from China is being herded into a corner to establish Chinese supremacy. Everything is Xi centric to rule the world. A bipolarity is emerging. Internal portrayal of being unfairly cornered and an external reality of coercively cornering everyone. Such a diabolic schism was last seen in Hitler’s Germany. Nitin Gokhale was right. The transformation to Xitler is complete. We should know who we are dealing with. “The Man Who Would Be King” not by Rudyard Kipling!

Xitlerian Concept: In the Xitlerian concept, India has no right to defend itself. It must subjugate itself to the lord and emperor of the great Chinese people. If not, be prepared for punishment. The great PLA will defend every inch of Chinese terri- tory recently usurped from India by attacking and punishing India for India asking vacation of its territory. The Idea is to take what it wants. Force an unequal piece. After all, China is the greatest. Are there risks and options in this new one sided game? 

Risks: There are four risks in this attempt to teach India a lesson. Firstly, with the available troops India can- not be taught a lesson. The fight will be long, hard and bloody. Everything will be at a cost. That cost will be collected by the US in the South China Sea who will not miss the opportunity. A firefight starts there. Taiwan could declare Independence. End of superpower China.

Secondly, after the bloody battle, even if India is defeated, the long guerrilla campaign will start. Tibet and Xinjiang will be in flames. Srinagar Valley is only 15948 Sq km. Tibet is 1.22 million Sq km and Xinjiang is 1.6 million Sq km. See the difference? China, of the nose bloodied, will have to commit a lot more of PLA to handle the situation on a real long term basis. Its entire global plans go for a toss.

Thirdly, there are very good chances that China will be taught a lesson. In fact I am confident that could happen. If they start a shooting match and India finishes it, the next stop could be Rudok. That will automatically put Tibet and Xinjiang aflame. It could also end with the CCP control over society and lead to a collapse. Fourthly, what hap- pens if China cannot force victory? The saga of defeat continues. Pakistan has the best Army never to have won a war. China will compete for that honour with its rusty iron brother. Whichever way it goes, China’s dream will evaporate. Guaranteed. Risk a war? Go ahead China. You might collapse. BTW, when does the N factor kick in?

Options: China is reinforcing eastern Ladakh with additional troops. The area can hold that many troops only. Any further increase will diminish returns. Secondly, mountains are good for defenders. It is difficult to dislodge entrenched defenders unless there are repeated headlong attacks. China has to also decide where to attack. North of Pangong Tso or South of it. (see picture) North of Pangong Tso offers some scope for employment of armour in the Depsang Plains. However it is a shooting match without manoeuvre space. There is a fair bit of mountainous area North of Pangong Tso also. India can play some tricks, infiltrate and reverse the situation. While it may be feasible to get hold of some territory there is a good chance of losing it too for the Chinese. The key to the whole affair will be the Chusul Gateway, South of Pangong Tso. Can China dislodge us from the strategically important Kailash Range? In an area devoid of cover and a single avenue of approach the attacker is exposed (see picture — 3d view of area beyond Spangur). Headbutting will be very costly. Results will be minimal. Of course, China can expand into other sectors further South. In which case its commitment and imbalance will expand. It will slowly be sucked in and stretched to a point when a counter offensive will happen. Where? Has to be decided between USA and India. The short point is that China is already in a trap of its own making. So far China has used Sun Tsu’s maxim of winning wars without fighting. This is one war they will have to fight to win but will lose. Want to be a superpower? Bleed a little on the battlefield.

Own Option: What should we do? Hold tight. Till winter sets in maintain a low profile. Stay vigilant. Do not get complacent. The enemy is desperate. Do some talking. Stall for time. Play the Chinese game. Two steps forward and no step back. Once winter sets in, start harassing the Chinese in the rear and spook them in the front. Imbalances and opportunities will surface. Incremental actions to attain tactical and strategic significance or opening up offensive options will be of great value. Create small criticalities. No Hurry. Patience. Vigilance. Go for the kill. A discredited PLA will do greater damage to China. Their soft frontline troops should be targeted. They are our Centre of Gravity. Up front within reach. Mountains offer great manoeuvre space. Develop offensive options. Beyond the Kailash range there are no great obstacles or ridge lines till Rudok and the Western Highway. The Pangong Tso gives a secure flank. At some point we must go on the counter offensive. We need to generate some options to force a recoil. I might sound outlandish. However think coolly. We have their measure. Occupation of the Kailash range has opened up options. Exploit it. They have no defences or a firm base. There are three avenues of approach to hit the Western Highway (G219) look at the map. Manoeuvre through the hills. Force them into defence. Hats off guys. Well done.

Story of India: I need to tell a story. Summer of 99. Op Vijay broke out. My regiment (all Rajputs ) was mobilised overnight from the Eastern to the Northern sector. A number young soldiers on completion of post recruit training were posted to make good our strengths. All of them reported to Siliguri. Around a dozen of them with a couple of NCOs retuning from leave were dispatched to join the regiment in the staging area. War rumours were abound. At Delhi railway station, two young soldiers (from neighbouring villages) gave the slip and went AWOL. They went home and told their mothers that they came on leave. One of the mothers suspected something unusual and quizzed her son. Out came the AWOL story. She gave him a couple of tight slaps, took him to the other village and told the other boy’s mother about it. She in turn slapped her son. How could they become AWOL from the regiment when the nation was at war? One village elder was entrusted to deposit these young soldiers with the unit. He brought them to me and said: “CO sahab inko maaf kar dena. In dono ka mathaon ne inke saath bahut gussa kiya. Rajputon ka be-izzati ho gaya. Desh ka Rak- sha karna hamara kartavya hai. Bcahhe hain. Inko asli Rajput banao aur ladai mein sabse aage le jao.” That was that and life went on. When I last visited the unit those ‘boys’ are now experienced and tough gunners and junior leaders.

The Sum of All Fears: Indian mothers will send their sons to war as a matter of IZZAT and Desh ki Raksha irrespective of caste, creed, Arm or unit. Phillip Mason called it a ‘Matter of Honour’. This spirit of sacrifice is deeply ingrained in Indian blood streams even now. It was on display in Galwan. A country which has such deep-rooted patriotism cannot be defeated by some soft ‘one child Chinese’. Why am I recounting this story? Have faith in our men they will deliver. The sum of all my fears is that some weak bellied and ill-informed politician or diplomat will develop cold feet and fritter away the gains during negotiation. That is our history. We felt diplomacy and international stature will guard the Sino Indian border in 1962. We gave back Haji Pir in 1965. We gave back 93,000 prisoners in 1971. We even went about saving Chinese ‘face’ during Doklam despite stopping them in their tracks. How wrong were we? Totally. There is a palpable fear swirling around that some jittery character will give away everything we have gained by blood sweat and tears. ‘Status Quo Ante’ of April has lost value. The Kailash Range should not be traded at any cost. It is ‘off table’ in all negotiations. We need to look at a new status post ante. That should be northwards into Aksai Chin! Stay tight. This is a defining fight for India. There is more on the cards. The Chinese need a lesson and we will give it to them. Rub their ‘face’ in.

Pakistan Preoccupation: Where are the Pakistanis? Aah! Pak Generals… Lost half their country. Partner- ing with them, the US lost its war on terror. Their advice cost the Saudis two oil- fields. They are now advising Chinese. Any guesses? Well these deep state worthies of the frontline nation are at their frontline at Papa John’s having a board meeting of their remunerative businesses with Dawood as special consultant. What is on their menu? Chinese! What about war fighting? That is for idiots.

Lt Gen P.R. 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 his blog www. gunnersshot.com.

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Indian, US defence delegations conduct virtual discussion

Ashish Singh

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The 10th Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) Group Meeting was held virtually on 15 September 2020. The meeting was co-chaired by Raj Kumar, Secretary, Defence Production, from the Indian Ministry of Defence, and Ellen M. Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, from the US Department of Defense. DTTI Group Meetings are normally held twice a year, alternating between India and the United States. This time, meeting was held via VTC on account of COVID pandemic.

The aim of the DTTI Group is to bring sustained leadership focus to the bilateral defense trade relation- ship and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of defense equipment. Four Joint Working Groups focused on land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies have been established under DTTI to promote mutually agreed projects within their domains. The groups reported to the co- chairs on ongoing activities and collaborative opportunities including a number of near-term projects targeted for completion on priority.

As evidence of their commitment to demonstrating the success of DTTI, the co- chairs signed a Statement of Intent (SOI) that declared their intent “to strengthen our dialogue on defense technology cooperation by pursuing detailed planning and making measurable progress” on several specific DTTI projects.

The co-chairs were also pleased to note that since the last DTTI Group meet- ing in October 2019, a DTTI Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the identification and development of cooperative projects under DTTI has been completed. The SOP will serve as the framework for DTTI and allow both sides to reach and document a mutual understanding on how to define and achieve success. A publicly releasable extract of key elements of the SOP was also published in July as the DTTI Initial Guidance for Industry, and distributed through Indian and U.S. industry associations.

Further efforts to encourage U.S. and Indian indus- try to cooperatively develop next-generation technologies under the DTTI Group were highlighted by the 1st DTTI Industry Collaboration Forum (DICF), which took place virtually on September 10, 2020. The DICF was convened by Sanjay Jaju, Joint Secretary (Defence Industries Production), Michael Vaccaro, Director, International Armaments Cooperation, and Amy Murray, Director, Small Business Programs. This forum offers an opportunity for Indian and U.S. industry to be directly involved in DTTI and facilitates dialogue between government and industry on issues that impact industrial collaboration. The results of the discussion were briefed to the DTTI Group co-chairs.

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Defence

LASTING SOLUTION TO INDIA’S GEOSTRATEGIC PROBLEMS

As of today, China has lured India’s neighbours, but New Delhi can turn the tables in its favour if it understands the geostrategic value of supporting the freedom struggles of Tibet and Balochistan.

Jamal Nasir Baloch

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In 2012, Robert D. Kaplan in his book The Revenge of Geography argued that “as the United States and China become great power rivals, the direction in which India tilts could determine the course of the geopolitics in Eurasia in the twenty-first century”. Now we can foresee what Kaplan had predicted almost a decade ago. However, India seems to be the unprepared kingmaker in Eurasia. China understands the future challenges and it is prepared for the long geopolitical game.

India’s natural boundaries are weak because of the territorial division inflicted upon it by the British occupiers in 1947. The territory of West Punjab and Sindh should have been in India, but today these two provinces along with occupied Balochistan and Pashtun dominated areas in Afghanistan are under the domination of an oppressive ethnic Sunni Punjabi community.

Pakistan is India’s biggest geographical dilemma, and without regaining control over its breakaway territory, it is unlikely for India to rise as a regional power. India should have resolved the issue of lost territory decades ago, but Indian political elite hesitated to formulate a bipartisan strategy to regain Indian territory. They strived to normalise relations with Pakistan and even began to imagine Pakistan as a unique historical sovereign entity with no historical relations to India. The delusion of the Indian political elite and bureaucracy only wasted India’s time and further weakened India’s position in the region.

America always favoured Pakistan during the Cold War, but the reality of the global order was different after the Soviet Union’s collapse. The United States for the first-time favoured India against Pakistan during the Kargil Conflict in 1999. According to Bruce Riedel, then-President Clinton’s Special Assistant, the Kargil conflict changed the equation in the region, and it set the trajectory of America’s engagement with India. Bill Clinton’s India visit in March 2000, cemented the relationship between the world’s oldest and world’s largest democracies.

He stayed for four days in India, addressed the joint session of the Indian Parliament, and both countries formulated a framework for institutional engagement and cooperation. Clinton also visited Islamabad only for a few hours, not for cooperation but to save Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s life who was ousted by General Pervez Musharraf in a military coup in October1999. Pakistan was already in decline, great Baloch leader, Hyrbyair Marri who is connected to the roots of freedom struggle for generations once again motivated, reorganised, propelled the masses for complete independence of Balochistan, from the oppressed Pakistani regime by reigniting the 5th Balochistan liberation movement in mid-1990s.

Pakistan had lost its significance in the international arena after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and US policies were more focused on China’s aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea. During the Presidential campaign, George W Bush criticised Bill Clinton for being too soft on China. President Bush faced his first foreign policy crisis in the South China sea immediately after taking office. In April 2001, a Chinese interception jet collided with an American EP-3 signal intelligence aircraft in the international waters. One Chinese jet was destroyed during the incident, and US Navy crew were forced to land their damaged aircraft in China’s Hainan Island. American soldiers were detained, and vital intelligence-gathering equipment was also compromised.

 China was the new threat for the West in the 2000s; however, 11th  September 2001 changed everything for America and the rest of the World. All rivals of America supported American efforts to topple the Taliban Government and cap ture those responsible for terrorist acts on American soil. United Nations resolution 1373 gave legitimacy to the War on Terror. America centred its core foreign policy strategy from geopolitics to counter-terrorism wars. Pakistan reaped the benefits of the post 9/11 world, on the one hand, it supported the American invasion of Afghanistan, on the other hand, it saved the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and prepared them for the next battle. Pakistan became one of the major non-NATO allies, gained access to crucial military hardware and received billions of dollars in aid. America lost the war because it trusted Pakistan and mistook a geopolitical driven proxy war in Afghanistan as a homegrown insurgency.

America started to re-shift its geo-strategic doctrine from counter terrorism to great-power conflict after the death of Osama Bin Laden. During the last years of his presidency, Obama increased the strategic focus on China. China is not the same state which it used to be in a pre 9/11 world. China was the 6th largest economy in the 2000s, and now it is the World’s second-largest economy. China’s One Belt, One Road initiative granted it access to the world’s geostrategic regions. China has built a naval base in Djibouti near Bab al-Mandab Strait, and a new naval base next to Hormuz is under construction in Jiwani, Balochistan.

Moreover, the new pact between China and Iran will give it more leverage in the Strait of Hormuz. India has an advantage in the Strait of Malacca against China, but that advantage will fade away as global warming melts the Arctic’s ice and China implements its new Arctic policy. Also, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will ensure Chinese access to the Middle East if Malacca is blocked by the Indian Navy in the case of war. Balochistan remains strategically of immense importance in the whole great power rivalries. It is also vital for any future Indian geo-strategic success in our region.

Partition has weakened India geographically in the region, and it is now being encircled by an aggressive China. China has territorial disputes with India, and it will never hesitate to start a limited conflict at the right time. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the US-China rivalry, and the world will confront China sooner than expected. China and the West are preparing for that next conflict, but India is still idling.

India needs to confront Pakistan indirectly with a long-term policy, stop China from encircling India and make long term reliable allies in the neighbourhood. All these three goals can be achieved by supporting the freedom movements in the neighbourhood e.g. Balochistan, Tibet and POK which would cement India’s stature in the world. The freedom in Balochistan is the legitimate right of the people of Balochistan and must be supported at all cost. The wrong of the past must be undone, which in turn will pave the way for India to reclaim its illegally occupied territory (PoK). Such a solution will resolve geographic dilemmas on the western border. India will get direct land access to Afghanistan and central Asian countries along with independent Balochistan which in turn will also bring the expansionist regime of China to an end.

As of today, China has lured India’s neighbours, but India can turn the tables in its favour if it understands the geostrategic value of supporting the freedom struggles of Tibet and Balochistan.

Jamal Baloch is Free Balochistan Movement’s head of the Foreign Affairs Department and a member of Chatham House. He can be reached at @JNBaloch.

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Defence

NSA Ajit Doval attends BRICS’ meeting on security issues

Ashish Singh

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Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Institutional Security under the President of Brazil M. Innosencio, Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation N.P. Patrushev, National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of India, Ajit Doval, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Yang, Minister of state security of the Republic of South Africa A. Dlodlo took part in the video conference for the 10th annual meeting of the high representatives of the BRICS countries responsible for security issues. The parties exchanged views on key issues of global and regional security, discussed the main areas of practical cooperation in the field of security. The incessant attempts of the West to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states were noted. The inadmissibility of organising ‘colour revolutions’, as well as campaigns to discredit the political leadership of unwanted countries, was emphasised. The sides expressed concern about the escalation of tensions around Iran, Venezuela and Syria.

An exchange of views took place on issues of strategic stability. During the discussion, the destructive plans of the United States on the deployment of weapons in space, the use of force against space objects of other states, as well as the use of outer space for military operations were noted. The participants in the meeting reaffirmed their openness to multilateral discussion on possible measures to ensure predictability and restraint in the nuclear missile sphere.

It was noted that cooperation within the framework of the ‘five’ is aimed at building a multipolar system of international relations based on the principles of justice and equality, abandoning the outdated practice of bloc diplomacy.

The dialogue that took place showed the unity or similarity of the approaches of the members of the Association on most issues on the international agenda. The adherence to the universal and generally recognised norms and principles of the UN Charter, as well as international law was reaffirmed. It was emphasised that the BRICS countries managed to take a serious step forward in strengthening cooperation in the field of combating terrorism and extremism, countering transnational organized crime and drug trafficking

Thanks to well-coordinated joint work, a draft anti-terrorist strategy of the ‘five’ has been prepared, which will be submitted for approval during the upcoming summit. The draft strategy reflects such fundamental aspects for the BRICS countries as respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, adherence to international law and recognition of the UN’s central and coordinating role in security matters. Prospects for cooperation between the BRICS states in the field of biological security are considered.

The meeting participants highly appreciated the coordinating role of the World Health Organization in the fight against the pandemic. It was emphasised that at all stages of the spread of infection, WHO acted within its mandate, based on the guidelines of Member States and available scientific evidence. It was announced that it was expedient to work on building up the profile cooperation of the BRICS countries in the field of sanitary and epidemiological control and global health. It was proposed to create new mechanisms of interaction in the field of countering epidemiological threats and to conduct expert consultations on biosafety in the BRICS format. Special attention is paid to ensuring security in the use of information and communication technologies. During the discussion, the importance of developing common approaches to this issue was stated.

In order to create an integrated system for countering threats in the information sphere, it was proposed to continue work on concluding an appropriate five-sided agreement.

The parties appreciated the Russian chairmanship of the Five this year, held under the motto “BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Common Security and Innovative Growth”, noted the active work in three key areas: Politics and security, economy and finance, and humanitarian and cultural ties. The intention was confirmed to work on deepening coordination within the framework of key international organisations and forums, primarily in the UN. An agreement was reached on further expanding the dialogue on security issues, building up the exchange of information, and closer coordination of joint actions, including through the special services and law enforcement agencies.

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Defence

35 ARMED FORCES MEN LOST COVID BATTLE, NEARLY 20,000 INFECTED

Indian Army has recorded the maximum 16,758 coronavirus cases and 32 deaths. The Air Force has confirmed 1,716 Covid-19 cases among its personnel along with three deaths. In the Navy, meanwhile, 1,365 confirmed cases and no death have been reported so far.

Ashish Singh

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With Covid-19 tally having crossed the 50 – lakh mark in the country, the government on Wednesday disclosed the latest figures of coronavirus infections in the armed forces. Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply that there have been 19,839 cases of coronavirus in the armed forces while a total of 35 fatalities have been recorded so far.

He informed Parliament that the Indian Army has recorded the maximum 16,758 coronavirus cases and 32 deaths among the armed forces. The Indian Air Force, on the other hand, has confirmed 1,716 Covid-19 cases among its personnel along with three deaths. The Navy, meanwhile, has reported 1,365 confirmed cases of infection. There has been no death of any personnel in the Navy due to coronavirus.

“All deaths while in service have been awarded terminal benefits,” the minister said. Shripad Naik gave these details in a written reply to Anumula Revanth Reddy in the Lok Sabha.

DEFENCE CAPITAL PROCUREMENT

In reply to another question by Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore in Lok Sabha, MoS for Defence Shripad Naik shared detailed information on defence capital procurement. The minister said that during last financial year (2019-20), 38 contracts have been signed with Indian vendors and 32 contracts have been signed with Foreign vendors. During the current Financial Year 2020-21 (upto July, 2020), 10 contracts have been signed with Indian vendors and 6 contracts have been signed with Foreign vendors for capital procurement of defence equipment for the Armed Forces. Out of the total of 48 capital acquisition contracts signed with Indian vendors from April 2019 to July 2020, 18 contracts have been signed with DPSUs/PSUs/OFB/DRDO/ ISRO and 30 contracts have been signed with Indian Private vendors. All efforts are made to optimally use budgeted funds for meeting committed liabilities relating to already concluded capital acquisition contracts and for new schemes contracted during the year. The details of expenditure incurred under Capital Acquisition (Modernisation) of Armed Forces, under Defence Service Estimates (DSE), for the last five years is as under:

YearExpenditure (Rs in crore)
2015-1662,235.54
2016-1769,280.16
2017-1872,732.20
2018-1975,892.85
2019-2091,128.74

While evaluating competitive bids for Defence contracts between DPSUs and Private Sector entities, no advantage is given to DPSUs. The competitive bids are evaluated based on the RFP terms and conditions.

NEW INITIATIVE IN DEFENCE SECTOR

In a written reply to various questions of Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo and Dr. Jayanta Kumar Roy in Lok Sabha, Shripad Naik gave details of a new initiative in the defence sector including the induction of Rafale aircraft. He said that the first batch of five Rafale aircraft has been inducted and operationalised at Air Force Station Ambala. Induction ceremony was conducted on 10th September, 2020. Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers are being considered for, and granted Permanent Commission (PC) in all branches of the IAF based on cadre vacancies, willingness, suitability, medical fitness and merit as per policies in vogue. As on 1st September, 2020, 372 women SSC officers (excluding Medical/ Dental branches) have been granted Permanent Commission. Since 03.12.2008, Indian Navy has been considering and granting Permanent Commission to women officers (at par with male officers) in certain Branches/Cadres/ specialisation viz. Education, Law, Naval Constructor and Naval Armament Inspectorate based on inter-se merit, suitability and vacancies. Short Service Commission officers (both men and women) are also being considered for Permanent Commission in certain more Cadres/ Branches/Specialisation as per Hon’ble Supreme Court judgement dated 17.03.2020. The Government sanction letters for grant of Permanent Commission to women officers in the Army have been issued on 25.02.2019 and 19.07.2020. Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa, Airavat, Shardul and Magar were deployed as part of Operation Samudra Setu to evacuate the stranded Indian Nationals from Iran, Maldives and Sri Lanka during COVID-19 crisis. A Total of 3992 Indian Nationals were evacuated safely to India as part of Operation Samudra Setu.

The following steps have been taken by the Government to tackle the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the defence sector: Hospital Infrastructure development to tackle COVID: Beginning in the month of March, 2020 procurement of essential equipment to tackle COVID-19 cases in AFMS hospitals was undertaken. Supply orders for ventilators, oxygen concentrators, hand thermal guns, multipara monitors, PPE, Face masks, sanitizers, disinfectants etc, were placed for all AFMS hospitals. Emergency procurement powers of the DGAFMS were sanctioned by the Raksha Mantri for procurement of additional equipment like RT-PCR machines and test kits. As on day, there are 27 functional laboratories in the AFMS carrying out molecular testing for COVID using RT-PCR, TrueNat, CBNAAT and GenExpert techniques. Rapid Antigen Tests are available in the periphery for early diagnosis, isolation and contact tracing of cases. In line with latest treatment trends at a national and global level, drugs like Favipiravir and Remdesivir have been made available in AFMS Hospitals. Plasma Therapy is also available in two hospitals of AFMS.

Quarantine facilities: Station quarantine facilities have been set up in all military stations where troops are quarantined after returning from leave for 14 days. Any person developing symptoms during quarantine is immediately tested and isolated, if found positive.

Teams for Contact Tracing: Teams comprising medical and paramedical staff have been trained in tracing high risk contacts of confirmed cases for instituting quarantine measures. Asymptomatic high risk contacts are tested between day 7-10 of exposure.

COVID CARE CENTRES (CCC): These have been set up to augment hospitals where a large number of COVID patients are being admitted. Asymptomatic and mild cases are admitted in these CCCs to decongest the hospitals.

Interaction with Armed Forces Medical Services of Friendly Countries: Knowledge exchange and best practices for COVID control being followed by USA, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have been adopted by the AFMS to optimise patient care.

Liaison with MoHFW and ICMR. The DGAFMS has maintained continuous liaison to ensure that guidelines and policies issued by the apex bodies are implemented to optimise patient care. Multiple guidelines pertaining to control and management of COVID have been issued by the DGAFMS to ensure conformity of care across the three services.

ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF LAND IN the CANTONMENT REGION

During the year 2018, 2019 and in 2020 (upto 31.08.2020), 7.586 acres of defence land inside cantonment under the management of Defence Estate Organization have been detected as encroached by the residents. Out of above, defence land measuring 4.11 acres have got freed from encroachment during the same period. The illegal occupation of defence land may cause difficulties in Municipal administration viz. Providing water supply, sanitation and other municipal facilities.

The following steps have been taken to address the problem of encroachment: Respective user Services who manage defence land are responsible for its protection, removal of encroachments and planning for its land use.  Strengthening of defence land management by way of computerisation and digitisation of land records, Survey, demarcation and verification of defence lands and land Audit. Regular inspection of sites under respective jurisdiction is conducted by the CEO/DEO/Station Commander as the case may be. Issue of detailed instructions by the Government emphasising the need for ensuring vigilance, detection and prevention of new encroachments. Court cases are being pursued to evict encroachers. Close liaison is being maintained with revenue and civil police authorities to detect attempts to encroach upon the defence land by encroachers. Regular patrolling is being carried out to safeguard the lands from encroachers and unauthorised construction. Removal of encroachments on defence land under the provisions of Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 as well as under the Cantonment Act, 2006. This information was given by MoS Shripad Naik in a written reply to Rajendra Agrawal in Lok Sabha.

MODERNISATION OF ARMED FORCES

The details of Budget Estimates (BE), Revised Estimates (RE) and Actual Expenditure (Actuals) on the modernization(Capital Acquisition) of Armed Forces, under Defence Services Estimates (DSE), for the last five years and the current year are as under: (Rs in crore)

In May 2001, the Defence Industry sector, which was hitherto reserved for the public sector, was opened up to 100% for Indian private sector participation, with Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) up to 26% both subject to licensing. Further, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry has notified revised FDI policy under which FDI is allowed under automatic route upto 49% and beyond 49% through Government route wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded. During the last three financial years (2017- 18 to 2019-20) and current year (upto July, 2020), 183 capital contracts have been signed with Indian vendors and foreign vendors for procurement of defence equipment for the Armed Forces. Under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign of Governmen of India, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has prepared a list of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them. This would offer a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to manufacture these items using their own design and development capabilities to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces in the coming years. This list includes some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircrafts, light combat helicopters (LCHs), radars and many other items to fulfil the needs of our Defence Services. Since the launch of ‘Make in India’ in September 2014, several measures have been taken by the Government to promote indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence & aerospace equipment in the country under ‘Make in India’ by harnessing the capabilities of the public and private sector. Government has notified the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model which envisages establishment of long term Strategic Partnership with Indian entities through a transparent and comparative process, wherein they would tie up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to seek technology transfers to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chain. Government is taking measures for modernization of the Armed Forces, through procurement of new equipment and upgrading of existing equipment so as to ensure that the Armed Forces are equipped to meet the entire spectrum of security challenges. The modernization projects are progressed as per the approved Capital Acquisition Plans and in terms of the extant Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). This information was given by MoS Shripad Naik in a written reply to Dhairyasheel Sambhajirao Mane and others in Lok Sabha.

ILLEGAL TRANSFER OF DEFENCE LAND

In cases of attempts of illegal transfer based on the nature and circumstances of the case, FIRs/criminal cases have been filed against the sellers/purchasers, Courts have been approached to set aside such transactions. Competent Revenue authorities have also been approached for not effecting mutation of such transactions. Such transactions are not recognised and no mutation in defence land records is affected.

To prevent such incidents in future, the following steps are taken: The defence land across the country has been surveyed by Defence Estates Officers and Chief Executive Officers so as to clearly demarcate defence land to enable Services/users to physically protect it. Matter has been taken up with the State Government vigorously at all levels to mutate remaining defence land in the revenue records. Suggestions have been made by the Ministry to the Department of Land Resources for amending the Registration Act so as to make it mandatory for the Sub-Registrar to obtain ‘NOC’ from defence authorities prior to effecting registration of land located in Cantonments/Military Stations. Wherever such incidence is reported, immediate legal action is taken to protect the interest of the Government. Computerisation of defence Land records contained in General Land Registers (GLRs) and Military Land Registers (MLRs) with the use of Raksha Bhoomi Software. Strengthening of defence land management by way of digitisation of land records, survey, demarcation and verification of defence lands and land Audit.

The computerization of defence land records under the project ‘Raksha Bhoomi’ was undertaken by the Directorate General of Defence Estates in association with National Informatics Centre. Defence Land Records contained in General Land Registers (GLRs) and Military land Registers (MLRs) were entered in the Raksha Bhoomi Software and made operational after verification and authentication of database in July, 2011. Directorate General of Defence Estates (DGDE) has informed that 05 cases have come to notice, in the last three years (i.e. from 01.09.2017 to 31.08.2020). Total area involved is 36.30 acres. In two cases pertaining to Haryana (Narnaund Hisar, Distt. Hisar, area 29.99 acres) and one pertaining to Punjab (Muktsar, area 6.05 acres) the respective state governments are claiming the defence land. In all these cases the matter has been challenged by the DEO concerned and is presently subjudice in the court of the respective Divisional Commissioners. In the two cases of Union Territory of J&K (Badamibagh Cantt., area 0.26 acres) the illegal transfer of defence land by private persons through sale deeds have been challenged by way of filing suit in the District Court by DEO concerned. Another instance has been noticed where an attempt was made to illegally transfer defence land (11.10 acres) in Bengaluru to Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation. Based on the FIR lodged in the case, the said transfer has been stayed. This information was given by MoS Shripad Naik in a written reply to Ravi Kishan and others in Lok Sabha.

Year BudgetEstimatesRevised EstimatesExpenditure (Actuals)
2015-1677,406.6965,400.0062,235.54
2016-1769,898.5162,619.3669,280.16
2017-1869,473.4168,965.2472,732.20
2018-1974,115.9973,836.4375,892.85
2019-2080,959.0889,836.1691,128.74*
2020-2190,047.8031747.06#

*Figure is provisional pending finalisation of Appropriation Accounts.

# Figure is up to 31 July 2020.

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Defence

AIRBUS TO INTRODUCE NEWEST LAKOTA HELICOPTER TO US ARMY

Ashish Singh

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Airbus Helicopters will introduce the newest series of its Lakota helicopter to the U.S. Army’s fleet, the company announced at the 2020 National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) virtual trade show. Starting with new orders placed this year for 17 additional Lakota helicopters, the US Army will welcome the newest series — known as the UH-72B — to their fleet in 2021. Airbus has delivered more than 460 UH72A Lakota helicopters to the US Army, Navy and National Guard, with the 463rd and final UH-72A model slated for delivery in September.

“Since we first began operations with the UH-72 Lakota some 15 years ago, this helicopter has been the workhorse of the Army and National Guard, saving lives, assisting in disaster relief, training thousands of pilots, and, more importantly, helping to protect our communities and our country,” said COL Calvin Lane, US Army Project Manager for Utility Helicopters. “Procuring the UH-72B Lakota provides tremendous value with no research and development costs for the Army.”The UH-72B will enter service for the U.S. Army National Guard and is the latest iteration of the same commercial, off-the-shelf aircraft that has been the Army’s Light Utility Helicopter since the first Lakota contract award in 2006. The Army is leveraging the benefits of a commercial off the shelf (COTS) program by receiving product improvements and enhancements through the evolution of the aircraft, without investing any government money into the development of those capabilities.

“This is welcome news for the men and women building the Lakota in Mississippi, as we expand our production capabilities and prepare for a successful future for the Lakota,” said Scott Tumpak, vice president responsible for Airbus military helicopter programs in the U.S. “Since 2006, every single Lakota has been delivered on time and on cost by our American workforce, whose pride of workmanship is evident in every aircraft we deliver.” The UH-72B is based on the widely successful H145, which incorporates various product improvements that have been developed during the lifecycle of the commercial aircraft. The efficient Fenestron tail rotor, more powerful engines, enhanced controls and the Airbus Helionix avionics suite, to name a few, will provide added benefits for mission safety and flight performance. With more than nine configurations available, the Lakota delivers proven performance, outstanding operational reliability, and unmatched versatility for a broad spectrum of military missions. Airbus Helicopters builds the Lakota at its production facility in Columbus, Mississippi, which employs a workforce that is made up of 40% veterans. Since the program’s beginning in 2006, the Army and National Guard have amassed nearly 800,000 total flight hours. The UH-72A is the primary rotary-wing training aircraft for the Army, and serves in roles as diverse as search and rescue, disaster relief, counterdrug operations, and live-saving MEDEVAC flights.

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