In his acclaimed novel The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, John le Carre equates “cold” with unfamiliar. Though the story is about a British disinformation campaign against the East German intelligence service, one can’t help but notice two parallels with the ongoing Chinese propaganda arguably supporting PLA troops deployed in their Western Theatre Command. Firstly, the terrain is as unfamiliar to these soldiers as the climate is cold and unforgiving. Secondly and most importantly, the Chinese propaganda campaign, in its haste to showcase facilities and comfort provided to the troops in high altitude terrain, has sowed confusion amongst a number of its own experts and analysts. Many openly question the fitness levels of the soldiers deployed in Tibet and Xinjiang and whether they are suited for any form of warfare in the high reaches of the Himalayas.
They may not speak of it or are forced to lie to the media, but even the most disingenuous efforts by the Chinese propaganda machinery have failed to hide a simple fact: Chinese troops, the much-touted and mythicised Han warriors, are weak, brittle and not at all suited for high altitude warfare. A recent article by the South China Morning Post, known initially for its media ethics but now increasingly resembling Global Times, details the ‘tips’ provided to PLA troops deployed in the Tibetan plateau to cope with the peculiarities of being deployed at high altitudes. In the same article, an unnamed (as usual) officer has been quoted as saying that altitude sickness was a common problem affecting the troops. The reason given was the extended deployment timings. This leads to a few conclusions. The rotation schedules of the soldiers are not as perfect as Global Times or the innumerable media outlets make them out to be. Even the acclimatisation is not up to the mark as even with a sea-level baseline, an ordinary person gets acclimatised to the high altitudes progressively in a matter of 6-10 days. So much for claiming a science and technology edge over others.
Despite some social-media faux analysts crying hoarse about the PLA’s technological advantage over its adversaries, there seems to be a mismatch between what is advertised and the ground situation. PLA troops, the article continues, are also ignorant about medical protocols prevailing amongst a number of armies across the world. Expectedly, a considerable number of troops were found getting sick just at the start of exercises. This is a disciplinary issue as it also points to the non-existent command and control in the various PLA units and formations. Either the troops deliberately fake breathing problems or don’t follow advice from their doctors. Either way, it points to a failure within the army. A so-called ‘Multi-Point Plan’ has been referred to in the article which calls for drinking lots of water, using sanitising wipes after eating and going to the bathroom, avoiding overeating and breathing one hour of pure oxygen every day. Each of these issues, if analysed holistically and possibly backed up by data, points to a host of issues with the troops’ mental makeup, their sanitary habits and even their physiological challenges. The oft-quoted Song Zhongping, apparently a former PLA instructor, attributes these problems to the origins of most of the soldiers, who are mostly from the coastal areas or low lying lands in China’s interior. However, it is surprising that even after having been deployed in Tibet and Xinjiang for close to seven decades, the PLA has been unable to come up either with well-oiled procedures or SOPs to handle basic issues.
The buck does not stop here. The PLA has been allegedly looking at creating a Tibetan Special Unit, knowing very well that only the hardy Tibetan troops can be called upon to conduct operations at high altitude. It has also attempted to recruit the famed Gurkha warriors from Nepal but the offer was politely rebuffed last year. A country that cannot even count on its own citizens to execute its national security policy is claiming to be the next world power! The irony is tragic.
There have been several reports about how psychologists had to be called repeatedly to Tibet and Xinjiang to calm down the nerves of the PLA soldiers who fear death due to pulmonary oedema. Two soldiers were so disoriented that they wandered to the Indian side in the last six to eight months. There have been sightings of stretchers being carried out from the posts in Tibet by several independent observers. All this points to a problem in the command and control structure of the PLA as well as the rickety disciplinary model where enormous efforts have to be expended to keep their soldiers fit and in fine fiddle. Perhaps it is time for PLA to introspect.
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INSPECTOR GENERAL M.V. PATHAK TAKES OVER AS THE COMMANDER OF COAST GUARD REGION NORTH EAST
Inspector General MV Pathak took over as the Regional Commander, Coast Guard Region North East, Kolkata from Inspector General AK Harbola on Monday. Inspector General Pathak is an alumnus of the US Coast Guard Academy, Connecticut, having undergone the IMO Course from this academy.
During his illustrious career of more than three decades, Inspector General Pathak has commanded all classes of Coast Guard Ships. The shore appointments held by the flag officer include Chief of Staff to Coast Guard Commander (Western Seaboard) Mumbai, Commander Coast Guard (Kerala and Mahe), Principal Director (Administration), and Director (Manpower, Recruitment and Training) at Coast Guard Headquarters, New Delhi.
Before taking over the reins of Coast Guard Region North East, Inspector General Pathak was the Regional Commander, Coast Guard Region (Andaman & Nicobar) at Port Blair for three years. The flag officer is a recipient of the ‘Tatrakshak Medal’. Inspector General Maneesh Pathak on taking over said that his priority will be strengthening the Coastal Security mechanism through coordination with all State and Central Agencies and to make the seas safe for all fishermen and seafarers. He further added that the Indian Coast Guard is committed to in motto “Vayam Rakshamah” which means “We Protect”.
INDIAN ARMY CONDUCTS RAIL TRIALS ON DEDICATED FREIGHT CORRIDOR
The recently developed “Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)” by the Indian Railways provides faster movement of freight across the Country. The Indian Army, on Monday, conducted a successful trial by moving a military train loaded with vehicles and equipment from New Rewari to New Phulera validating the efficacy of the DFC. The intricate and synchronised coordination by the Indian Army with Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL) and Indian Railways will significantly enhance the mobilisation capability of the Armed Forces. These trials were part of the “Whole of the Nation Approach” for optimising national resources and achieve seamless synergy among various ministries and departments.
Interactions by the Indian Army with all stakeholders including DFCCIL and Indian Railways will now assist in leveraging the DFC and allied infrastructure into the mobilisation matrix of Armed Forces. Development of infrastructure at certain locations to support mobilisation and trials to validate move of defence owned rolling stock on Roll On-Roll Off (RO-RO) service is being formalised and modalities are being evolved. These trials herald the first step in this process to pave the way for enhancing the operational readiness of the Armed Forces. This initiative would set in place processes to ensure that military requirements are dovetailed in the national infrastructure development at the planning stage itself.
NORTHERN ARMY COMMANDER FELICITATES ‘VEER NARIS’ AND WAR HEROES OF 1971 INDIA-PAK WAR
NEW DELHI: Lt Gen YK Joshi, GOC-in-C, Northern Command laid a wreath to Swarnim Vijay Mashaal and paid tributes to fallen heroes at the Warrior’s Grove War Memorial, Crossed Swords Division, Akhnoor as a part of Swarnim Vijay Varsh celebrations. The Army Commander accompanied by Lt Gen MV Suchindra Kumar, GOC White Knight Corps was briefed on the saga and valour of gallant soldiers of Indian Armed Forces during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. A documentary on the 1971 Indo-Pak War was screened for the audience.
The General officer felicitated Veer Naris and war heroes of the 1971 Indo Pak war at Akhnoor. The GOC-in-C, a war hero and Vir Chakra awardee, appreciated the veterans for their invaluable services for the motherland. He also expressed deep gratitude for the sacrifices of the Veer Naris. Lt Gen YK Joshi, GOC-in-C, Northern Command interacted with all veterans and Veer Naris following Covid protocol. He expressed gratitude and acknowledged the contributions of the populace of Jammu & Kasmir who have played a pivotal role during various operations. He assured Veer Naris and veterans of full support at all times as was extended during the Covid pandemic. He motivated them to take maximum benefits from the facilities rendered by the Indian Army at their doorstep including Covid Care Facilities, Covid vaccination, Covid preventive measures, and government schemes, etc.
RAFAEL’S BNET SDR COMMUNICATION SELECTED BY ASIAN AIR FORCE
Yoav Wermuth, head of Rafael’s C3I directorate, said that this new contract strengthens its position as a major supplier of aerial communication systems.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has been selected by an Asian Air Force to equip its fleet of aircraft with the BNET-AR communication solution. The BNET Family of SDR provides a robust voice and data-link solution and supports simultaneous services of data, voice, and video services with multiple auto relays. The BNET is operational and combat-proven with a number of air forces around the world, featuring a unique, patented software-defined radio and network architecture, delivering wide-band communications with low delay and reliable connectivity.
The variant that will be supplied is the BNET-AR, a modular multi-band SDR for airborne platforms, integrated onboard fighters and helicopters as well as Ground Control Stations equipped with the same BNET-AR, enabling net-centric operations and real-time situation awareness. The BNET Family is a Spectrum-Aware SDR — utilising the spectral arena of the battlefield to the fullest in a cognitive way, thus addressing the challenges of the modern battlefield (e.g. limited spectrum, connecting multiple sensors and shooters, etc). All this is achieved by BNET-patented technology — Multi-Channel Reception (MCR), which enables it to receive and analyse information from numerous frequency channels, simultaneously, using a single RF head. VP Yoav Wermuth, head of Rafael’s C3I directorate said, “This new contract strengthens our position as a major supplier of aerial communication systems as vital enablers, required to be agile, allow fast deployment, be highly scalable, and remain robust in the face of the chaos of battle, all the while operating under constant jamming and cyber-attacks”.
TRIBUTES PAID TO THE BRAVEHEARTS ON ‘SWARNIM VIJAY VARSH’ CELEBRATIONS
The ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Mashaal’, symbolic of India’s 1971 war victory over Pakistan, reaches Kashmir Valley, given a grand reception at Wuzur.
The ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Mashaal’, symbolic of India’s 1971 War Victory over Pakistan has reached the valley, was given a grand reception at Wuzur. To commemorate 50 years of India’s victory over Pakistan in the epic war of 1971, on 16 December 2020, Prime Minister lit the ‘Swarnim Vijay Mashaal’ from the hallowed and the eternal flame of the National War Memorial that marked the commencement of this Golden Jubilee Year. Four such ‘Mashaal’ travelled in the four cardinal directions, reaching the remotest corners of the nation to include villages of our valiant and intrepid warriors who participated in the war and received PVCs and MVCs for their gallant actions. Today, one of these ‘Mashaal’ entered our beautiful Kashmir valley through the newly constructed Navyug Tunnel and was received by Brigadier Vivek Singh Thakur, Commander 2 Sector Rashtriya Rifles at the northern portal of the tunnel.
The presence of 1971 War Veterans, Veer Narees and ESMs during the event made it all the more memorable and magnificent. Carrying of the Mashaal by these esteemed guests during the event added all the more glory to this sacred torch. Hundreds of school children from Army Goodwill Schools of Wuzur and Behibagh, dressed in saffron, white and green attires symbolising our national flag, marching to the beat of an impeccably turned out Military band playing martial tunes, left everyone witnessing this splendid event in awe. The grand reception of the Mashaal was followed by a very solemn ceremony held at Wuzur Garrison to pay homage to the fallen heroes of that war and to remember the sacrifice they made in honour of their beloved motherland.
The ceremony is being conducted with full military honours resulted in high emotions running through the crowd like never before, swelling their hearts with patriotism and love for their nation. The NCC cadets in attendance drew inspiration from the ceremony, further strengthening their resolve to join the Armed Forces and serve their motherland. The ceremony concluded with the felicitation of the War Veterans and Veer Narees as a mark of respect for the sacrifices they made and hardships they endured all these years, without ever complaining, personifying courage and resilience.
The event was also attended by prominent civil dignitaries to include Dr Bilal Mohd-ud-din Bhat, DC Kulgam and other senior military officers. The school children deserve a special mention here for the enthusiasm and energy they exuded during the event and for brightening the entire atmosphere through the incandescence on their faces. Their happiness knew no bounds when they got the chance to go for a joy ride on the Ho-Ho buses, waving the national flag and singing patriotic songs.
Speaking to the media persons present, Brigadier Vivek Singh Thakur paid homage to all the brave soldiers of the 1971 war who laid down their lives in the finest traditions of the Indian Army and expressed his gratitude to all the War veterans, Veer Narees, and Ex-Service Men who made this event possible by their benign presence. He said that the Indian Army continues to move forward with its ethos of honour, valour and tradition and is always prepared and ready to defend the nation and give a befitting reply to any adversary.
1971 WAR: NORTHERN COMMAND PAYS HOMAGE TO SWARNIM VIJAY MASHAAL
To commemorate the decisive and historic victory of Indian Armed Forces over Pakistan Army in December 1971 and to pay homage to the Swarnim Vijay Mashaal (Victory Flame), a solemn Wreath Laying Ceremony was held at ‘Dhruva Shaheed Smarak’ at Headquarters Northern Command in the Udhampur Military Station. Lt Gen YK Joshi, Army Commander, Northern Command laid the wreath to honour the Swarnim Vijay Mashaal lit in remembrance of the valiant soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation. The event was attended by Veterans, NCC Cadets and senior Army officers of Udhampur Military Station.
The Swarnim Vijay Mashaal had arrived at Udhampur on 13 Jun 2021 from Nagrota & was received with full ceremonial honours. The Victory Flame was then escorted to the local unit quarter guard. After the customary ‘Last mile run’ the Victory Flame was handed over to the Station Commander, Udhampur Military Garrison who placed the Victory Flame at Dhruva War Memorial. Wreath laying was thereafter carried out by JCOs / OR and Veterans followed by Wreath Laying by the Army Commander, Northern Command. On culmination of the Wreath Laying Ceremony the Swarnim Vijay Mashaal was further handed over to Counter Insurgency Force (Delta) where it will be taken to various units to commemorate the unforgettable victory of 1971.
The year 2021 has been named as “Swarnim Vijay Varsh”, by the government of India and the Nation started the celebrations of the 50 years of Indo-Pak War which had resulted in the largest military surrender after World War-II. The inaugural event was held at the National War Memorial (NWM) in New Delhi on 16 Dec 2020 where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff and Tri-Services Chiefs laid wreath and paid homage to the fallen soldiers. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi lit the ‘Swarnim Vijay Mashaal’ from the eternal flame of NWM on the occasion. Four Victory Mashaals (flames) lit from the Eternal Flame of NWM were then carried to various parts of the country including to villages of Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra Awardees of 1971 War. Soil from the villages of these Awardees and from areas where major battles were fought in 1971 are being brought to the NWM.
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