Psychological operations: Is the Dragon winning? - The Daily Guardian
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Psychological operations: Is the Dragon winning?

Psychological warfare is an integral part of China’s arsenal and has been used time and again to target India and its interests. Unless New Delhi prepares itself well and sends out a strong message, the nation can fall prey to the Dragon’s propaganda machinery.

Major General P. Rajagopal (Retd)



The recent Chinese incursions in Eastern Ladakh have once again brought to fore the employment of psychological operations (psyops) as an integral part of China’s expansionist policies. Psyops are a planned use of propaganda and other means to influence the behaviour of foreign governments, organizations, groups and individuals in a particular manner. Such propaganda is generally intended to demoralise the enemy, break his will to fight or resist, and sometimes, to render him favourably disposed to one’s position.

 It is well known, but often forgotten, that psyops are an important part of Chinese war strategy. China penetrates target countries through a wide array of methods which include human and technological means. The most commonly used technique is to identify weaknesses or issues within the target audience and exploit these to their advantage so that the target country is unsettled as it is embroiled in its own internal problems. Freedom of speech, a characteristic of democratic countries, is used as a weapon against them. Perceived religious intolerance within societies, exploiting minority causes, fuelling anti-government agitations, fomenting trouble along border districts by supporting insurgent groups (like what China has been doing in the North East for years and even on Myanmar borders), are all issues exploited by China to weaken or pressurize target countries.

China practices Goebbels’s dictum: “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”. Sun Tzu had also emphasized the significance of defeating the enemy’s strategy without using physical force. Manipulating the information environment is central to outwitting one’s enemy. The word ‘morality’ is missing from the Chinese dictionary. Multiple agencies — media, research organisations, college and high school students, people of Chinese origin, Chinese businessmen involved in trade and commerce outside — are all roped in willy-nilly by coercion and threats.

China has also been using cyber operations as an effective instrument in its psyops. During the five-day period following the border clash, a large number of cyber attacks were reported across India originating from China. Indian cyber security firms and government entities have raised concerns about maintaining defences and the protection of vulnerable infrastructure in an all-out cyber war with China. To counter the Chinese threat, the Indian government banned 59 Chinese mobile applications in July 2020, including social media platforms such as TikTok, WeChat, and Helo, because user data was being sent back to China. 47 mirror apps were also banned. Another 108 have been banned subsequently for similar reasons. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of attacks in over 20 countries and countless industries around the world have been attributed to Chinese statesponsored actors. “Hack and leak” operations, where malicious actors use cyber tools to gain access to sensitive or secret material and then release it in the public domain, make up another facet of Chinese psyops. Beijing’s higher goal is to make the world suitable for the Chinese Communist Party’s hegemony across the world.

In the current crisis in Ladakh, China has been conducting their psyops at different levels. China assessed that in the present divided political environment, India will find it very difficult to publicly acknowledge Chinese intrusions into disputed areas, unilaterally changing the alignment of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to their advantage. To admit this would definitely cause a serious dent in the much vaunted image of a strong nationalist government. Their ‘psy-war’ strategy is suitably adapted — they have been conducting it under different themes at different levels. Let us look at these.

The first theme was to put the blame on India, and by constant repetition, to make it look true for the target audience in India and the rest of the world. Taking advantage of India’s initial hesitation to pin it down even after the Galwan incident, China was quick to issue a series of official statements blaming India, naming it as the aggressor. According to China, the Galwan clash took place due to an overreaction of the Indian troops, breaking the peace and tranquillity agreements which India needed to investigate. How cleverly the truth has been manipulated! The onus has always been on India to work with China to resolve the problem. The more recent statements claim that China has completed the disengagement process in most areas along the LAC, while on the ground, PLA continues to be well entrenched in disputed areas like Depsang, Gogra-Hot Springs and Pangong Tso.

The second theme was to keep the threshold level to manageable levels. The continuous strategic messaging has been aimed at reducing anti-China sentiments by messages of peace, conveying that problems at the border are not serious and can be solved by mutual talks. India and China being two ancient civilisations are partners and not rivals, and their bilateral relations have withstood the test of time. Hence, trade and commerce should have no links with the border situation. The Chinese projection of normalcy with India is a suggestion that India must accept the PLA’s aggression and move on with trade and other diplomatic dialogue.

The third theme is the Wolf Warrior messaging for India and the rest of the world — that of a country which is ready to go to war; projecting Xi Jinping as a strong man issuing a directive to the PLA to prepare for war. At the military level, the constant projection of the PLA’s strength and strong deployment of the Army and Air Force along the LAC sought to convey that any offensive action by India would be dealt with strongly. A barrage of propaganda ranging from news regarding PLA’s capability of the swift movement of well-trained and acclimatised troops to the Indian borders to a steady stream of reports, with a mix of fact and myth, of the deployment of an array of high-altitude advanced weapons, attack helicopters, and fighter aircraft. There were misleading reports about build-up in Gilgit-Baltistan projecting a two-front threat and even exaggerated claims of naval capabilities. A survey released by the infamous Global Times states that 90 percent of the respondents would support if Beijing were to act militarily on India’s provocation: “Even a thousand miles away, who affronts China will pay.”

China deliberately sends out mixed signals – conciliatory messages at the diplomatic levels and ‘wolf warrior’ messaging at another level, while on the ground, China is doing everything from building roads close to the LAC, augmenting the capacity of its support air bases, laying fibre cables for its troops at face-off sites in Pangong Tso and GograHot Springs, clearly indicating plans of a permanent stay in these areas.

 There are also reports of huge money laundering and hawala transactions through shell entities. Recently, certain arrests have brought out that the Chinese have been running a spy ring and bribing monks to get information on the Dalai Lama. More disturbing news has come of a Chinese cult called Church of Almighty God (banned in China) operating in Nagaland, trying to disturb the peace and create divisions in religious practices. This is an example of misusing the positive elements of the target country’s culture to create dissensions within it.

While the long-term campaign against India continues at various levels, China has been conducting a more focused, consistent and sustained psyops campaign after the dastardly attack on Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley. There is a serious threat of India falling for the misinformation machinery, unless effective counter-measures are taken at the strategic level. It is time we realised the tremendous potential of psychological warfare — it can even be a war-winning factor. Only a concerted multi-directional approach will make China withdraw from disputed areas and caution it against future misadventure.

We have to ensure that our strategic messaging sends a powerful message of national intent and serious consequences for any act of aggression. India’s main problem has been the lack of consistency in its messaging. After an initial outburst following the dastardly Galwan Valley incident, there was no strong messaging within or outside India. Now, after the 29-30 August incident in Pangong Tso, we have sent a clear message against Chinese expansionist actions. Instead of this intermittent response, a sustained campaign has to be mounted against China within and outside India. There can be no let up in this and various steps have to be taken to ensure that China and the world are reminded every day of Chinese expansionist and anti-people policies. There are so many issues — from the Wuhan virus to their highhandedness and cruelty against Tibetans and Uighur Muslims, Hong Kong, Taiwan, expansionist policies in South China Sea and Eastern Ladakh — the list is endless. The messaging that India will not accept business as usual while they have intruded into our areas has to be consistently conveyed.

Ours is a vigorous democracy — some people may misread it as a fissiparous tendency in the body politic, but they are sadly mistaken. The general public is very aware and will not fall easy prey to the propaganda machinery of China. All we need is to remain alert and aware.

Major General P. Rajagopal, AVSM, VSM (Retired), served as a paratrooper in Ladakh at various levels and has also commanded the division in eastern Ladakh.

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Major push to Make in India in defence sector

Ajay Jandyal



To give a major push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atamanirbhar Bharat mission, the Indian Army has joined hands with various technology firms to cater to the demands of the present security scenario.

The Army says if it has to remain operational all around, it cannot rely on obsolete technology hence latest advancement in the sector have to be adopted.

“The Northern Command is always combat ready in the times to come, the challenges will continue to increase so we have to rely on advance technology and keep on innovating,” Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi told The Daily Guardian on the sidelines of the Northern Technology Symposium held in Udhampur on Sunday.

North Tech Symposium was organized under the aegis of HQ Northern Command at Udhampur. Technology symposium, exhibition was organised wherein 162 companies from Indian defence industry including MSMEs, DRDO, DPSU, participated and exhibited their products.

In addition, 42 innovative solutions by Army establishments towards enhancement of combat potential of the Army were also on display. Lt Gen BS Raju, Vice Chief of Army Staff inaugurated the first of its kind technology symposium in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing the event, vice-chief of Army staff Lt Gen V S Raju said that he would have appreciated if the investors, capital ventures would have also shown interest in the event to boost the new start-up.

“To cope up with the ever-evolving and ever-changing security scenario, we also need to adopt changes and keep on innovating. I am happy that so many companies have shown interest to showcase their products at the North Tech Symposium. I am hopeful that in near future, many of the products would be put in use by the armed forces,” General Raju said.

In the wake of recent incidence of drone dropping in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab from across the Indo-Pak border, various companies have displayed their products including anti- drone system, drone jammer which can strengthen the forces and border guarding forces to thwart Pakistan’s plan of disturbing peace.

Other than drone dropping threats, detection of tunnels on Jammu and Kashmir border is also a major threat for the security forces these days as 11 tunnels have been detected on Indian-Pakistan border in the past few years. There was number of companies which showcased their products to detect underground tunnels by using artificial intelligence and special radar.

The symposium saw active participation from of senior officers from different forces including IDS, Army HQ, HQ ARTRAC, other Commands, HQ Northern Command, and its subordinate formations. This interactive platform for knowledge diffusion through Joint Army-Industry participation was an important step in the direction of the government’s initiative of “Make in India”.

On the first day of the seminar, the participants from Army and industry discussed the policy and procedures for expeditious procurement, Raksha Atmanirbharta initiatives by Indian Army, DRDO and Defence Public Sector Undertakings, how can private sector contribute towards surveillance system, weapon sights, drones and counter drone system and miscellaneous technologies like 3D printing.

The symposium served to showcase cutting edge technologies and innovative products providing solutions to some of the complex challenges faced by the security forces in Northern Command and also acted as an ideal platform for mutual exchange of ideas between the domestic defence industry and the Army. The technologies and products on display covered a wide canvas, the prominent ones being surveillance and situational awareness, tactical mobility, firepower, force protection, communications, combat medical facility, robotics and simulators.

The symposium was a huge success and Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, AVSM lauded the initiative and innovations of all the vendors. The General Officer expressed his conviction that the plethora of technologies available indigenously can further boost the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” project of the nation. The spirit of Atmanirbharta demands that research and development, the domestic defence industry and Army have work in a synchronized manner to realise the nation’s vision.

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An Indian Army Major lost his life after slipping into a ravine during a counter-infiltration operation in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.

Major Raghunath Ahlawat.

Late Major Raghunath Ahlawat, 34 was leading his team on a counter-infiltration operation based on reliable intelligence input. “To identify a safe approach for the team he led from the front while carrying out reconnaissance on a route through a steep cliff. “Unfortunately, he slipped due to bad weather and slippery conditions and fell 60 meters into a ravine. Critically injured, he succumbed to his injuries enroute while being evacuated to the nearest Army Hospital,” Indian Army officials said in a statement.

The Army paid tribute to the officer in a ceremony held in the Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar led by Chinar Corps Commander Lieutenant General DP Pandey.

Major Ahlawat was commissioned into the Army in 2012 and hails from Dwarka, New Delhi and is survived by his wife and his parents.

The mortal remains of Late Maj Raghunath Ahlawat were taken for last rites to his native place, where he would be laid to rest with full military honours.

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For over USD 20 billion tender for manufacturing 114 multi-role fighter aircraft (MRFA) the Indian Air Force (IAF) would prefer to take the ‘Buy Global Make in India’ route over the strategic partnership policy model to produce the planes within the country.

‘Buy Global Make in India’ is a category of procurement process provided in the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 under Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to smoothen the acquisition of foreign weapon systems and their production within the country under the ‘Make in India’ in the defence programme. Along with the indigenous LCA Tejas and the 5th Generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft project, the 114 MRFA project would also be required by the IAF to maintain an edge over both the Northern and Western adversaries. We would prefer to go in for the Buy Global Make in India route which is preferred by the vendors also who are expected to take part in the programme, government sources said. Three American aircraft including the F-18, F-15 and F-21 (modified version of the F-16), Russian Mig-35 and Su-35 along with the French Rafale, Swedish Saab Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft are expected to participate in the programme. The Indian Air Force had also sought the views of these companies on the acquisition procedure that they would like to opt for in the programme and most of them have shown a preference for the Buy Global Make in India route only, they said.

The sources said that the force has also sought directions from the government on the project.

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Amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, defence supplies from Moscow are continuing as the Indian defence forces have received a shipment of overhauled aircraft engines and spares. However, there is concern about whether this would continue in the near future as a solution for making payment to Russia has not yet been found.

“The defence forces have received shipments from the Russians very recently and it is still on. So far, there has not been any glitch in supplies for our forces,” a government source told ANI.

“However, there are concerns on whether these supplies can continue in the same manner as the Indian side cannot make payments to these Russian firms in view of the sanctions related to their banks,” he added.

The sources said the Indian and Russian sides are working to find a way this issue can be overcome and many options are being explored.

The latest supplies from Russia included overhauled fighter aircraft engines and spares for an aircraft fleet and they arrived through the sea route, the sources said.

India also received the final parts of the S-400 Triumf air defence system from Russia whose first squadron is operational with its elements deployed to take care of threats from both Pakistan and China.

India is one of the largest users of Russian weaponry including major platforms like fighter jets, transport aircraft, helicopters, warships, tanks, infantry combat vehicles and submarines.

Over the last couple of decades, it has broadened its source base by including equipment from countries like the US, France and Israel in a big way but the dependence on Russia still remains very high.

The Air Force is dependent majorly on the Russian supplies as its mainstay Su30 aircraft fleet is Russian along with its Mi-17 helicopter fleet.

The Army is also dependent on the Russian-origin T-90 and T-72 tank fleet for the armoured regiments.

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The top brass of the Indian Army and Air Force would be assessing the preparedness of their forces and infrastructure requirements along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the militaries of both India and China continue to remain in a standoff position in eastern Ladakh.

The Indian Air Force brass would be meeting this week from 6 April to discuss the security situation including air operations along the northern borders. The Indian Army commanders led by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane would be assessing the present deployments along eastern Ladakh and the northeastern sectors from 18 April onwards in the bi-annual commanders’ conference.

The top brass of the Indian Army had jointly discussed the infrastructure requirements and developments required by the Indian side from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh during a conference in Lucknow recently.

India has made several changes in its deployments post aggression shown by Chinese troops in April-May 2020.

India and China have been talking to each other at both military and diplomatic levels to address the issues but so far they have not been able to do so mainly because of Chinese reluctance. In recent talks to address the Patrolling Point 15 friction, they proposed a solution that was not acceptable to the Indian side.

Indian security establishment led by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has been of the view that the issue would be resolved only if the Chinese completely disengaged and went back to pre April 2020 positions.The Indian side has strengthened its deployments manifold all along the LAC. The Indian Air Force has also started building advanced bases in the forward areas including infrastructure to operate fighter jets and attack helicopters from the forward fields such as Nyoma.

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Sharp fall in infiltration of foreign terrorists, stone pelting: CRPF DG



There has been a sharp decline in the infiltration of foreign terrorists as well as in stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 from the erstwhile state, Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldiep Singh said on Thursday.

However, noting the targeted killings in Jammu and Kashmir, the officer said, “Some time there is a spurt in terrorist incidents” and the recent killing in “periodic series” are among those, and “it occurs”. Replying to queries during a press briefing here at the CRPF Headquarters, Singh said, “CRPF immediately try to control terrorist incidents in Jammu and Kashmir soon after it gets inputs. These incidents are not totally controlled by internal terrorist people who are there. On many occasions, it is controlled by those sitting across the border and it is directed whom to be targeted or not.”

The CRPF DG reiterated that “some directions comes from foreign lands too”, and thus, “terrorist incidents some times increase and sometimes decrease” “It does not mean that things are out of hand…You can see that the incidents of stone-pelting are almost nil. There has been a sharp decline in the number of infiltration of foreign terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir. Sometimes, there is a spurt in terrorist incidents but it happens,” he said.

The officer informed that the CRPF has neutralized 175 terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and apprehended 183 from March 1, 2021, to March 16, 2022.

Meanwhile, the CRPF has recovered 253 arms from Jammu and Kashmir and seized 7,541 ammunition as well as 96.38 kg explosives, 23 Improvised Explosive Device (IED), 232 grenades, and 36 detonators from the Union Territory, Singh said. Further, he informed that as many as 91 encounters have taken place from March 1, 2021, to March 16 this year. CRPF is the premier Central Armed Police Force (CRPF) entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the internal security of the country. It is deployed across the length and breadth of the country, assisting various state police in the discharge of their duties. CRPF is providing security cover to 117 protectees of various categories, he said adding that 32 women personnel have been inducted into the VIP Security Wing.

A total of 41 VIPs were provided security cover by the CRPF during recently concluded Assembly elections in five states, the DG said adding that the security of 27 protectees has been withdrawn post-elections. The CRPF chief also said that under financial assistance from the risk fund, ex-gratia for personnel martyred in action has been increased to Rs 30 lakhs from Rs 20 lakhs, and for all other cases, the ex-gratia has been increased to Rs 20 lakhs from Rs 15 lakhs.

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