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THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO QUAD 3.0

Quad needs to provide leadership to the new global order. Gone are the days when one country could lead the way. A multipolar world needs a multipolar leadership based on the Quad.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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There are a lot of issues with an US-led world order. It is not perfect by any stretch of imagination. However, a Chinese-led world would be even worse. To predict that, one does not need even imagination. All one has to do is to look around with open eyes—coercive diplomacy, wolf warriorism, breaking international rules-based order, debt traps and more. Lack of trust in China is palpable.

China does what is good for itself resulting in debilitating other nations and its people. It can continue to ‘rejuvenate’ and have its ‘dreams’, but it must be contained for the common good. China is too big for any one nation to contain. It is also beyond regional nations to control it. That is the sense I got after participating in two webinars recently. One organised by the Indo-Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The other by CASA. The participants were international, and the views were wide-ranging. The insights indicated that there is no alternative to Quad 3.0.

This is reinforced by sharp increases projected in the forthcoming Chinese defence budgets. For a country like ours, it is foolish to get into the trap of competitive increases of defence expenditure with China with a ‘go it alone’ approach. In a larger sense Quad 3.0 is not only an international necessity but a national imperative. It enables us to have affordable security on a collective basis. However, Quad 3.0 is still an idea without a form. More importantly as much as the Quad nations bring value to the table, they place huge differences on it too. If Quad 3.0 is to evolve further, it is these differences which have to be tackled. They need to be either resolved, skirted around or left out of the ambit for a later date. The Quad 3.0 platform will only be as strong as the way the differences are treated. Thankfully, China is driving the Quad 3.0 to set aside its in-congruencies. The more predatory the Chinese behaviour, the greater will be the coalescence. Newton’s third law is at work.

Before looking at other issues let us reiterate the potential. The Quad 3.0 is ideally positioned to lead the post pandemic world economically, diplomatically and militarily. After all it is a combination of a superpower and three middle level powers which are vibrant democracies representing three civilisations—Western, Japanese, and Indian. They represent four of the top twenty global economies with a healthy mixture of raw material, manufacturing, and consumer power as also a tremendous innovation capability. The Quad nations also have experienced armed forces irrespective of their size or national orientation. They also have strong internal bilateral and trilateral ties. From any point of view, they have the potential to outmatch China in any dimension. However, the real challenge before them is to convert the bilateral and trilaterals into a strong quadrilateral framework which can carry along regional players like ASEAN, Quad Plus nations and EU.

The Quad 3.0 is an idea which will take time to form into anything potent. That statement is both right and wrong. Let us understand the wrong part. If signals coming out of China are an indicator, they are worried about the Quad. In my surmise, China fears it. The Quad is amorphous and ambiguous. China will desire that it remains so. It will do its utmost to sow differences and enhance the ambiguity. The more it does so the more it will drive the Quad to assume a definite form. China has this habit of spurring people into action. So whichever way one looks at it—Chinese behaviour to pole vault to the top predatorily or its attempt to sow dissent will lead to the inevitability of the Quad 3.0 assuming shape. Turning to ambiguity, this carries a threat of its own. It will be unclear as to how the form will emerge and where it will hit China. Hence, they have to guess and prepare for a wide range of undefined options; which will auto-correct the situation. In this entire range of possibilities, one issue which is not ambiguous is the military capability of Quad and the level of existing cooperation.

The value of the Quad truly lies in its potential to present an alternative economic model to the Chinese one to the world. However, the dependence and intertwining of the Quad nations with the Chinese economy is also a reality. Also, the Quad nations have different economic outlooks and interests. These divergent issues will take time to resolve since there are huge ‘peoples issues’ involved. Many of them are intangible and vexatious. They need time to evolve. On the other hand, the military value of Quad is relatively lesser but easier to realise. There is already some level of understanding achieved. Also, there is no necessity for a deep level of interoperability or interdependence to pose a credible military threat to China in any domain. If one has learnt anything in the past year it is that China should permanently be posed with a two-front situation. The two-front situation of facing India in Eastern Ladakh and USA in the South and East China Seas, contained China fully. China backed off from any cross straits action against Taiwan in this period, despite the fact that it had recovered from the pandemic, US forces were debilitated by the pandemic, Taiwan was vulnerable and there was a nationalistic hype to do so. Creating such situations does not need interoperability. It needs political will. Further defence cooperation and arrangements generate economic linkages and generate trust at people level. Hence the large idea is to use the militaries to form Quad 3.0 and then transit to the economic agendas. Militaries by nature, are pretty cut and dry in getting the job done. With a troublesome adversary like China, all militaries will like to get the job done faster! The militaries will be accompanied by diplomatic and political moves which will generate the desired synergy.

There is also a need to understand that the Quad nations have an ‘odd one out’ phenomenon. Economically, Japan, US and Australia are rich nations and India is a poor nation on a per capita basis. Constitutionally, the US, India and Australia have no military restrictions, but Japan can take up arms only for self-defence. The US, India and Japan have military disputes with China, whereas the Australian dispute is more economic. The US, Australia and Japan are more Pacific Ocean focused whereas India is more Indian Ocean focused and is the only country to have a large land border with China. The US is an extra-regional player whereas the others are not. In any sphere of activity, one country is different from the other three. This ‘odd one out’ phenomenon will keep putting some difference or the other on the table. The need to understand the constraints and conditionalities of this ‘odd one out’ construct and behave accordingly is very important. Contentious issues need to be skirted around. Otherwise, Quad will play as per the Chinese game plan. To some extent that has already happened with Japan and Australia joining RCEP. Quad 3.0 has to give serious thought to take matters further.

One of the ways to do that is to look at what can be done and build on that rather than what is difficult to achieve. The doables are clearly military and diplomatic in nature. Hence after the Quad foreign ministers meet, it is time to have a Quad defence ministers meet or a Quad 2+2 dialogue. Further some military-to-military programmes and exercises should commence. The Malabar series is a good platform to build upon. The Armies and Air Forces should have similar exchanges in the Quad forum. Very clearly military issues which can be progressed on common structures are intelligence sharing, logistics basing, perception management, and common communication protocols. Enhanced training and periodic military conferences are part of this. In addition, there is significant room for defence industrial cooperation. Defence Industrial cooperation can be extended into economic cooperation. If China expects an Asian NATO why not give it what it expects—ambiguously or otherwise? Use the perception value of this expectation.

The Indo Pacific concept has its roots in the 2004 tsunami. Very importantly, the region is also disaster prone—major earthquakes, floods, typhoons/storms. Hence HADR is a good place to start from. Invariably, the resources required for HADR operations are specialist and similar to those required for military purposes. There is also a requirement for the Quad to seriously look at combating climate change. Overall HADR and climate change have the potential and ability to boost economies. I will put the common fight against the pandemic in this bracket. It needs serious focus.

A major contentious issue is to have a Quad economic agenda. The contentiousness stems from the fact that we are looking at old aspects of deep-rooted economic structures. The Quad needs to jettison the brick-and-mortar economy and chart a path in the new economy where common interests can be put on the Quad platform without major issues. The subjects which form part of this new economy are over the horizon and digital in nature—AI, Cyber, Space, Energy and more. In these evolving disruptive technologies, there is significant scope to cooperate on a win-win basis for all Quad nations.

Last but not the least, Quad needs to provide leadership to the new global order. Gone are the days when one country could lead the way. A multipolar world needs a multipolar leadership based on the Quad. For all this to happen, Quad needs some kind of a formal structure. Unless a structure comes in place a road map and action plan will not evolve. The day a road map is put out, red lights will flash all round China. The question is will that happen? I am very hopeful of that since there is intent. All one has to do is look at all the press releases of Quad nations from the beginning. As days have gone by, the tone and tenor of the press releases indicate a faster convergence of ideas and emergence of an outline plan. Let us hope for the best.

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.

There is also a need to understand that the Quad nations have an ‘odd one out’ phenomenon. Economically, Japan, US and Australia are rich nations and India is a poor nation on a per capita basis. Constitutionally, the US, India and Australia have no military restrictions, but Japan can take up arms only for self-defence. The US, India and Japan have military disputes with China, whereas the Australian dispute is more economic. The US, Australia and Japan are more Pacific Ocean focused whereas India is more Indian Ocean focused and is the only country to have a large land border with China.

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Defence

‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’

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The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

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Defence

SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI

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The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

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Defence

IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT

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An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

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Defence

ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR

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JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

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Defence

BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit

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The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

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Defence

IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US

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In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

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