If the Indo-Pacific is the centre of gravity of international geopolitics and economics, its core is China’s rise. China’s ‘Dream and Rejuvenation’ was fine till it was peaceful. However, its military and economic assertion, threats and coercion, to impose a Chinese global order in accelerated time frames is unacceptable. China took advantage of the pandemic-driven humanitarian crisis to reprehensibly progress its geopolitical ambitions. To top it all, it painted itself as the victim of a crisis it virtually perpetuated. Chinese actions drove the Quad nations to coalesce. However, the idea has not progressed to its logical conclusion. With new administrations in the US and Japan settling in, there is a consensus developing. Quad 3.0 is coming alive, hopefully to stem the Chinese tide. In my last article, I outlined a few issues which need to be considered to take the Quad 3.0 concept forward. In this article, I shall focus on ‘six strategies’ which Quad 3.0 needs to adopt.
OUTLOOK OF QUAD 3.0
The resolve of Quad 3.0 nations is clear with the pace at which their dialogue and consultation is progressing. However, Quad 3.0 needs to have a flexible outlook. In the larger context of the Indo-Pacific region, Quad 3.0 should prevent Chinese domination to keep it ‘Free and Open’. Within the tighter grouping, there should be no ambiguity. Quad 3.0 should aim to contain China. This dual approach will be required since Quad 3.0 will be the multilateral – multi-mechanism platform. These mechanisms could be evolved with European, ASEAN or other regional players. Also, action will have to encompass military, diplomatic, economic and health domains. All actions taken by Quad nations must reinforce each other’s strengths, accommodate sensitivities and cover vulnerabilities. Further Quad must leverage strengths of regional and extra regional players on an as required and case to case basis to achieve its aims. Hence the necessity to have a broad and long-term strategy. As the strategy evolves the Quad nations themselves have to get into a formal grouping.
At this juncture, where does China stand? Depending on one’s viewpoint and beliefs, China is either a high-speed bullet train or a crashing meteorite. The real truth is somewhere in between. While China has controlled the virus well, its population remains vulnerable. China does not have the capability to vaccinate all its people to achieve herd immunity for the next 2 years. Every outbreak hereafter will witness widespread lockdowns. This imposes economic penalties when compared to other countries which achieve herd immunity and are economically rebounding. As the virus fades, the aging demography will assert itself; if the plummeting birth rates—their causes and implications are any indicator. China’s economy is also seeing unusual signs of bankruptcies, asset bubbles, reigning in big businesses, manufacturing dips coupled with arrest/wing clipping of high net worth dissenters. Civil society in China is virtually wiped out. Chinese overseas BRI investments are not paying off. Their praiseworthy technological prowess has limitations despite being driven by single mindedness. Chinese ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomacy is now a brand incapable of eradicating the trust deficit created by flagrant violation of the international rule-based order. It leaves China bereft of allies, sans Pakistan and North Korea.
Chinese effort to have the greatest military on earth is a work in progress. The huge PLA is yet to achieve full mechanisation. Ability to fight an informationised battle is far. Most importantly, PLA is not a fighting machine with brilliant generals leaders like Rommel, Von Manstein or Von Rundstedt led by a messianic Hitler. It is a political army led by an ambitious, authoritarian leader aspiring eternal power. It is far from being a world beater; with a proven track record of military failure. Does it approximate to the aggressive China confronting the Quad? Ponder. It is in this context that we need to examine the available strategies.
Strategy of Military Overstretch: PLA needs to be stretched to prepare for three conventional scenarios – an amphibious crossing to annex Taiwan, naval domination of the Indo-Pacific and a conflict in high Himalayas. In any military undertaking it should face a two-front scenario as it did in the past nine months. It should be drawn and committed militarily in one hybrid front. Pakistan and CPEC are a ripe possibility which is already developing into a hybrid front. It can be fuelled. Essentially a 3-2-1 concept. In all cases, Quad 3.0 should aim to continuously change force ratios and capability to shift PLAs goal posts. This will force it to commit more resources than it has. PLA has a Stability-Instability paradox. Its leadership is very stable at the top. On ground there is instability at the bottom—lack of initiative and experience. A conscript armed force of this magnitude often lacks motivation which is apparent in the PLA and contributes to lower instability. All this will keep stretching China not only militarily but will pose a burden on its plateauing economy.
Strategy of Five Instabilities: China has five instabilities and all of them pertain to the non-Han population in its outer periphery—Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, Mongolia and Hong Kong. These challenge the core principle of ‘One China’. Most importantly, the five instabilities can keep Chinese focused inwards. The issues involved range from basic human rights to persecution of minorities to religious freedom to forced labour camps and extending up to genocide. These instabilities can also tie down PLA militarily. Overall, these instabilities make the leadership nervous. They have huge inter-relationships and can be made interoperable. They will keep China on its toes in all international fora. This is a low-cost strategy which can be kept on play day in – day out with great dividends.
Strategy of Diversion: Quad 3.0 must divert the economic flow away from China. At the root, supply chain relocation away from China will contribute immensely to lowering Chinese capabilities. However, it must be done in a planned manner over a period of time. The Supply Chain Resilience Initiative platform is available for expansion. Quad 3.0 needs to embrace it. Also, Quad 3.0 needs to provide an alternative to the BRI and a way out for debt trapped countries. In any analysis, the Quad nations have the best credentials of strong economies with ability to consume, produce, and innovate. Quad 3.0 must have an economic agenda. It will contribute to the containment of China and also boost their own economies.
Strategy of Bleed: China must be made to bleed economically in the BRI and CPEC. Already some of it is happening in Pakistan. A failing Pakistan is at the confluence or intersection of conflicting geopolitical interests depending on the way one looks at it. These can be leveraged through external and internal pressures to make Pakistan into a bleeding Chinese artery. Every base which China is establishing will end up in a hybrid environment on its own eventually. If China wants to be a super power to lay down the rules of the international road it will have to write them in blood just as the USSR, UK and US have done so before. It must not be allowed to get away with being a purveyor of money bag power.
Strategy of Denial: The strategy of denial is multi domain with vast scope. Some issues are highlighted here. Despite all its progress in technology, China still lacks some critical aspects of agricultural technology and it relies on imported seed. Food security fragility is a new emergent phenomenon in China. It has shortcomings in critical components of core manufacturing technology. China will continue to be energy dependent and its Malacca dilemma must continue. It is making a beeline towards the Arctic for future energy requirements. It seeks diplomatic space specially in situations like Myanmar or Sri Lanka. China also seeks additional bases in the Indo Pacific. Strategic denial of elbow room for China to break away from its constraints or expanding its interests will be very useful. It will contribute to prevention of domination of the Indo-Pacific as well as its containment.
Strategy of Loss of Face: China has a huge historic liability. Its highly efficient long term centrally planned programs are often disastrous. The economics of the Great Leap Forward and the impact of the One Child Policy are prime examples. Its ‘People’s War on the Virus’ and ‘Vaccine Diplomacy’ are likely to end with a similar loss of face. Its inability to produce vaccines of quality and in numbers leave it vulnerable. Eventually its vaccine diplomacy is bound to fail. There are indications of this already. It is likely to fail due to inability to reach herd immunity and being forced to contend with repeated flare ups. A country which cannot help itself cannot help others! The Chinese self-image and ‘Face’ are important. The US and India in particular have the capability to put in a cogent strategy to effect loss of face to China.
The strategies outlined span multiple domains. They are being put in place already through individual / bilateral/ group efforts in some manner. It is not a revolutionary thought process. The effort here has been to highlight the possibilities of combined action. One should not lose sight of the fact that China is too big to rein in by one or two nations alone. It will need a wider set of capabilities. China must be made to behave like any other normal nation. Also, China will come up with some counter strategies. That is par for the game. Need to tackle it together. What is given here is only a framework thought process. It can be modified as per circumstances. Also, all partners need not be involved in executing all strategies. Execution can be through/in concert with other regional/extra regional players too. However, the most important thing is that Quad 3.0 must first firm up itself. It must define for itself what it wants to achieve within its limitations, differences and realms of possibility. Quad has to stop being an IDEA and must manifest itself in definable form. That is the primary challenge before the US, Australia, India and Japan.
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 www.gunnersshot.com.
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Assam Regimental Centre conducts attestation parade in Shillong
The Assam Regimental Centre held attestation parade of 331 batch in Meghalaya’s Shillong. 225 Recruits have now been attested in a scintillating ceremony conducted at Parson Parade Ground. The parade was reviewed by Major General P.S. Behl, Colonel of “The Assam Regt and Arunachal Scouts”. The ceremony was conducted with Covid-19 protocols.
The ceremonial attestation parade marks the completion of the training schedule for recruits in The Assam Regimental Centre. These young soldiers will be joining Assam Regiment Units at various locations.
Major General P.S. Behl, the Chief Guest and reviewing officer of attestation parade extolled the virtues of selfless service to the nation and recounted the contributions of the North East and Assam Regiment towards nation building. Complimenting the passing out batch for their immaculate standards, he exhorted the warriors from the North East to persevere in pursuit of excellence.
The reviewing officer also complemented the staff for having conducted the training following Covid protocols and using innovative methods which will help the young soldiers in serving the motherland in efficient manner. Swaying to the tilting tune of the Regimental song, the young soldiers erupted in joyous to mark on a successful transition from enthusiastic recruits to valiant soldiers.
Passing out parade of 58 Gorkha Training Centre
The passing out parade of Recruits of 58 Gorkha Training Centre was held at Happy Valley, Shillong. The passing out parade marks the culmination of rigorous Recruit training and completes the transformation of a determined recruit into a young soldier of the Indian Army.
In an impressive ceremony marked by immaculate turnout and precision marching, a total of 248 Recruits took ‘Oath of Affirmation’. These young soldiers will now be dispatched to the numerous locations of Indian Army, always dedicated to protect our Motherland whenever the need arises.
The parade was reviewed by Brigadier M Narendranath Sajan, Commandant 58 Gorkha Training Centre wherein he exhorted the Young Soldiers to strive to be the finest of Indian Army and congratulated them on this important juncture of their life. During his address, the Commandant stressed upon the importance of valour, honour, ethos & fine traditions of Indian Army.
He also complemented the staff for having conducted the training following Covid protocols and using innovative methods which will help the Young Soldiers in serving the Country in more efficient manner. In the presentation ceremony Recruit Abhishek Sakia was awarded the Overall Best Recruit & Recruit of 8 GR and Recruit Manish Ale Magar was awarded Best Recruit of 5 GR (FF).
COMBINED COMMANDERS’ CONFERENCE BEING HELD AT KEVADIA, GUJARAT
The Combined Commanders’ Conference (CCC); a premier brain-storming event of the Military Commanders from the three Services is being conducted this year at Kevadia in Gujarat. The three day conference from 4th to 6th March has the combined apex level military leadership of the country reviewing the security situation and defence preparedness of the Armed Forces, and deliberating pertinent organisational issues for evolving a joint military vision for the future.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will join the military commanders along with the team of Secretary level officers from the Ministry of Defence for deliberations from Day two of the conference. The Valedictory Session on the third and final day will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval also in attendance.
In a major change from the past, the scope of the conference this year has been expanded to make it a multi-layered, interactive, informal and informed event with the added participation of about 30 Officers and soldiers of various ranks from the three Services. Key events encapsulate series of discussions & deliberations on a range of issues pertinent to the Armed Forces and its role in nation building, with the participation of senior most political and bureaucratic hierarchy in addition to the multi-layered participation of military personnel.
It is interesting to note that the CCC in 2014 was held at Delhi. Since then it has been moved out to different venues across the country. The conference was held on board INS Vikramaditya in 2015 and in 2017 at the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun. The last edition of CCC was held in 2018 over a period of two days at Air Force Station, Jodhpur.
There have been several major developments in the Higher Defence Organisation since including appointment of first ever Chief of Defence Staff and setting up of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), and several important & multifarious issues affecting modernisation & transformation of the Armed Forces are currently under active consideration/ implementation.
Turkmenistan Special Forces commence combat ‘free fall’ training in India
The Indian Special Forces (SF) have, over a period of time, earned immense respect and reputation of being one of the finest Special Forces in the world due to their professionalism, operational expertise, and sacrifice. Special Forces of friendly nations including the US, Australia, countries of Central Asian Region and the Middle East have increasingly shown their desire to train with the battle-hardened Indian SF troops. In response, the Indian Army‘s Special Forces have increased their engagement with their counterparts from friendly nations.
Based on a request from the Turkmenistan Special Forces, the Special Forces Training School (SFTS) of the Indian Army, which is a unique institution providing training to the Indian Army‘s Special Forces, has commenced training of paratroopers from the Turkmenistan Special Forces in Combat Free Fall as a precursor to a series of other customised professional courses which will assist in capability enhancement of Turkmenistan Special Forces.
Major Gen Arvind Kapoor is the new Addl Director General of NCC, Gujarat
Major General Arvind Kapoor took over as Additional Director General, National Cadet Corps (NCC), Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu from Major General Roy Joseph who proceeded on superannuation after completing thirty eight years of distinguished service.
Maj Gen Arvind Kapoor an Armoured Corps Officer, is an alumni of the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. He is a Post Graduate in Defence Studies from Madras University.
The General Officer has rich and varied experience in serving in different terrains. He has also done tenure in NCC as Group Commander, Ahmedabad. The General Officer was posted as Chief of Staff in High Altitude Terrain in a Corps Headquarters, prior to being posted as ADG of Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu.
The General Officer has also attended all important courses of instructions, the notable amongst them include the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, the Higher Defence Orientation Course at Mhow and the Senior Defence Management Course at Secunderabad.
VICE ADMIRAL ATUL KUMAR JAIN TAKES OVER AS THE NEW CISC
Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain paid obeisance to fallen heroes at National War Memorial in New Delhi upon taking charge of the crucial CISC position.
Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain has assumed the charge of the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman (CISC). Before taking over the CISC charge, he was the Eastern Naval Command Chief based at Vizag. The new Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain paid obeisance to fallen heroes at National War Memorial in New Delhi upon taking charge of the crucial CISC position.
ABOUT VICE ADMIRAL ATUL KUMAR JAIN
Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 1 July 1982. He is an alumnus of Sainik School Rewa, National Defence Academy (Pune), the Defence Services Staff College (Wellington), the College of Naval Warfare (Mumbai) and the National Defence College (Pretoria, South Africa).The Flag Officer is a Gunnery and Missile Specialist. During the earlier part of his career, he has held various operational and staff appointments, both afloat and ashore including Gunnery Officer of Destroyers INS Ranvijay and INS Ranvir.
He has commanded Indian Naval Ships Nirghat (Missile Boat), Khukri (Missile Corvette), Rajput (Destroyer) and the indigenous Guided Missile Destroyer, Mysore. He also had the privilege of being the commissioning Executive Officer of INS Brahmaputra and the Fleet Operations Officer of the Eastern Fleet at Visakhapatnam.
His appointments ashore include Director Naval Intelligence (Protocol), Director Foreign Liaison and Principal Director Staff Requirement at Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy), New Delhi.He was appointed as the first Flag Officer Commanding Karnataka Naval Area, Karwar on promotion to the Flag Rank on 3 October 2011 as Rear Admiral. Thereafter, he commanded the prestigious Eastern Fleet and then served as the Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command. On promotion to the rank of Vice Admiral on 1 April 2015, he tenanted the appointment of Controller Personnel Services (CPS) at IHQ MoD(N) and then served as the Chief of Staff, Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam. The Flag Officer also held the appointment of Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Policy Planning & Force Development), at HQIDS, New Delhi and was the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command from June 2020 to February 2021.
He took over as the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee on 2 Mar 21.For his distinguished service, he was awarded Vishisht Seva Medal in 2009, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 2015 and Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 2020.
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