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Upping the media ante

Media should learn to exercise restraint over sensitive security issues. After all, war is too serious a business to be left to the media.

Maj Gen Shashikant Pitre (Retd.)

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Even as Indian Army in a major operation occupied the intimidating key commanding heights and completely surprised the Chinese, the role of the electronic media was distressing and astonishing, with many news channels going to town at a time when the nation is facing a conflict situation on its borders. Getting information about the security of the country is the right of every citizen, but it needs moderation and balance, or else it would be counter-productive.

After jostling for effective control over posts in the areas of Fingers on the north bank of the Pangong Tso lake, Galwan Heights, Patrol Points 14 and 15, Gogra and Depsang in the Eastern Ladakh since April 22, the Indian Army in a facile ‘coup de main’ operation occupied the intimidating commanding heights of Black Top, Helmet Top, Gurung Hill, Magar Hill, Rezang La and Rachinla on the south bank overlooking the strategic Spanggur Gap and Pangong Tso Lake on the night of 29- 30 August and completely surprised the Chinese. By this single manoeuvre, the Indian Army totally stalemated and effectively countered the traditional Salami Slicing stratagem of the PLA entailing vicious operational blackmail as usual.

The Indians had taken just one night to play their innings in response to the sluggish batting of the Chinese over the past hundred and thirty days. It had gained the IA a favourable moral ascendancy during any future dialogue that would be held between the opposing sides. The ball was now squarely in the Chinese court. The next move belonged to the PLA. However, that is not the purpose of this narrative.

The visual media channels literally went to town with the story. Pompous claims were made that the units of the ‘normally under the cloak’ Special Frontier Force (SFF) organisation, also called Vikas, had achieved this seemingly stupendous task. Throwing all rules of circumspection to the winds, the videos of training of the Vikas troops were fished out from the archives and were played with blaring background music and laudatory comments of the articulate anchors. There was no doubt that the SFF had played a stellar role and would get the credit when the situation stabilises, but where was the hurry to prematurely post-mortem the operation before it is over?

In any case, the IA had reportedly occupied a frontage of over twenty kilometres and seized about eight to ten major posts, if not more. Surely, it was inconceivable that the SFF would accomplish this feat by itself. It was evident that it required the strength and muscles of a major formation, which was by various accounts and analyses of the experts guesstimated to be of an infantry brigade plus sup- ported by complements of other arms and services. It is nobody’s case that the organisation and capabilities of SFF are close secrets from our adversaries. The detailed information pertaining to the Establishment 22 incepted in the wake of the India-China War of 1962 is available on Google by mere press of a key.

The exploits of SFF in Chittagong hill tracts in support of the Mukti Bahini or in Turtok area are well documented and are in the open domain. However, it is imperative that the details of the employment and deployment, and to an extent even its mention, of these special units must remain under a shroud till reasonable time lapses after the conflict. The secret missions always carry this ‘professional hazard’ as a part of their mandate not to be recognised and given their due credit till well after the event is over, the brusque savour of the media channels for the TRP notwithstanding. There is another nuance connected with it. The recognition of Tibetan struggle may seemingly be a gracious act and may help to intimidate the adversary, but it would present associated problems and prove to be counter-productive if the operation is to be wound up, when there is an agreement to return to pre-April 22 position or close to it, which is what India desires.

When the nation is facing a conflict situation on its borders, it is not only distress- ing but even astonishing, that there is a demand in the media to know details of every move, every alleged transgression or incursion on the border by the adversary. It cannot be denied that it is the right of every citizen in a democratic country like India to know every piece of information relating to the security of his country, yet it needs moderation and balance. It would be naive to expect every aspect of an ongoing operational situation to be revealed for public consumption instantly, particularly when the political systems prevalent in our two adversary countries permit them to reveal nothing. Rather, it would be immensely counter-productive.

The damage done by the news broadcast of a media channel when the troops were being landed on the roof of the Hotel Taj during the terrorist strike on 26/11, which was heard by the terrorists inside the hotel and in turn relayed to their mentors in Islamabad, is a fit case in point. The shindy raised on various channels to know where ‘exactly the Chinese have intruded’ during the period since April was bewildering. Due to the advanced digital surveillance technology which is now available in the public domain, claims and counter- claims on the information provided by the authorities were flagrantly debated.

t was sad to see some well- informed and erudite veterans of the Armed Forces, now media wizards, alleging that the Government and the Indian Army Authorities were ‘lying through their teeth’. The Author holds no brief for the Establishment but his common sense about the National Security earned during thirty-six years of soldiering ventures him to assert that in a developing security situation on the border or even within the country, there is no need to announce every ‘truth’ as it eventuates. Winston Churchill once said, “The truth in war is so important that it has to be guarded by many lies around it”!

The 24×7 live broadcasts on multiple media channels permit the arm-chair experts and the anchors to dissect every nook and corner of the operational plans and their execution at length. Strangely, they forget that they have not only the benefit of ample time at their disposal, which is a major deficit with the higher and middle-rung military commanders in the field, but they also have the benefit of the retrospective wisdom. Of course, there is nothing wrong in it. But it was confounding to find sophisticated and seasoned expert anchors questioning the soundness of operational plans with an evident nascence of the tactical aspects. It was amusing to listen to one of these expert anchors asking as to why the operation to seize the unheld peaks around the Spanggur Gap could not be taken up much earlier and whether we lost valuable strategic advantage and time by this delay. It should be under-
stood that occupation of any heights ranging between 15,000 ft and 17,000 ft is a complex operation which needs a detailed appreciation of all aspects involved.

The selection, briefing and movement of troops without any ‘giveaway’ have to be undertaken deliberately. The build-up of the administrative support is more time consuming, if the positions are expected to be held over a long period against the enemy reaction. The aspects of stocking of ammunition, rations, defence stores, reinforcement and a variety of other issues are to be planned for, the stores are to be moved in the vicinity of the objectives, all supporting arms are to be deployed and medical evacuation arrangements to be made. All operational and administrative arrangements are to be completed before launch- ing the operation and this requires time. But above all this, a military commander would undertake the operation at the place and time of his choosing. The anchor may have been blissfully unaware else he would not have made such a ‘piercing’ observation! Can a famous quote be reframed to say, “War is too serious a business to be left to the media”!

Major General Shashikant Pitre is an Indian Army veteran. He has commanded an Infantry Di- vision and was the Chief of Staff of Army Training Command.

Defence

Boeing delivers SOCOM’s first next-gen Chinook helicopter

Ashish Singh

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Boeing is delivering new technologies and performance improvements to US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) with the Block II Chinook helicopter. Boeing’s Philadelphia team recently delivered the first MH-47G Block II Chinook to SOCOM on time. 

“This delivery marks a major step for the Chinook programme,” said Andy Builta, vice president and H-47 program manager. “The new Chinook will give US Special Operations Forces significantly more capability for extremely challenging missions and will enable them to conduct those missions on the future battlefield.” He added. The company is on contract for 23 more MH-47G Block II Chinooks, having signed a contract with SOCOM in July.

 Boeing has more than 4,600 employees in Pennsylvania supporting Chinook, the V-22 Osprey, MH-139A Grey Wolf and a number of services and engineering efforts. Including suppliers and vendors, Boeing’s activities support an estimated 16,000 jobs in Pennsylvania.

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Defence

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is readied to fly to Vandenberg for launch

Ashish Singh

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Airbus space engineers are preparing the European ocean satellite “Coper- helicopter nicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich” for its journey to the Vandenberg launch site in California. Next week, the satellite will be loaded into a cargo plane at Munich Airport and flown to the US. The Airbus-built satellite is scheduled for launch on 10 November 2020. 

The Copernicus Sentinel-6 will carry out high-precision measurements of ocean surface topography. The satellite will measure its distance to the ocean surface with an accuracy of a few centimetres and use this data to map it, repeating the cycle every 10 days, with the mission lasting up to seven years. It will document changes in sea-surface height, record and analyse variations in sea levels and observe ocean currents. Exact observations of changes in sea-surface height provide insights into global sea levels, ocean sea state, ocean wind speed, the speed and direction of ocean geostrophic currents, and ocean heat storage. These measurements are vital for modelling the oceans and monitoring/predicting rises in sea levels. In addition, Sentinel-6 will provide measurements over large rivers and lakes in support of water management applications. 

The findings will enable governments and institutions to establish effective protection for coastal regions. The data will be invaluable not only for disaster relief organisations, but also for authorities involved in urban planning, securing buildings or commissioning dykes. Global sea levels are currently rising by an average of 3.3 millimetres a year as a result of global warming; this could potentially have dramatic consequences for countries with densely populated coastal areas. 

The Sentinel-6 mission is part of the European Union Copernicus Programme for the environment. This mission comprises two satellites and is being developed under Airbus’s industrial leadership. While it is a European mission, Sentinel-6 is a true example of international cooperation: it has been jointly developed by E SA, NASA, EUMETSAT and NOAA, with support from CNES. Each satellite carries a radar altimeter, which works by measuring the time it takes for radar pulses to travel to the surface and back again to the satellite. Combined with precise satellite location data, altimetry measurements yield the height of the sea surface. 

The satellites’ instrument package also includes an advanced microwave radiometer that accounts for the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, which affects the speed of the altimeter’s radar pulses. The satellite weighs approximately 1.5 tons. Starting with Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, in November 2020, the Sentinel-6 satellites will collect satellite based measurements of the oceans’ surfaces, continuing a task that first began in 1992. The second Sentinel-6 spacecraft is then expected to follow in 2025.

 In January 2020, the satellite was renamed after Michael H. Freilich, who led NASA´s work in Earth science for many years. Sadly Michael Freilich passed away in August 2020.

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Defence

Russia’s big CCP Problem

Russia can spoil Chinese Communist Party’s overland ambitions. But as long as the West keeps Russia isolated, Moscow will be forced to deepen economic ties with Beijing.

Ashish Singh

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Kadri Liik calls them “the offended generation”: The generation of Russians who, post the Soviet breakup, had reposed faith in the West and had great expectations of fairness from the free world. But starting with the expansion of NATO and then the EU, this generation found that the realpolitik of the West was almost always at a cost to fledgling Russia. They are the reason that Crimea happened, and Crimea is central to the story that Russia today has a CCP (Chinese Communist Party) problem. 

On 19 February 1954, the peninsular Province of Crimea was transferred from the Russian Republic to the Ukrainian Republic, for administrative convenience. In 1991 (along with Ukraine’s Independence Referendum), and then again in another referendum of 1994, Crimeans voted to rejoin Russia, but were not allowed to secede from Ukraine. Less than 3 months after the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych rejected an ongoing negotiation for Ukraine to enter the EU, and just one day after Western Powers had actually endorsed an accord recognising his legitimacy as President, he was ousted on 22 February 2014 by Ukranian Europhiles. Many events followed in response to that development. The 3rd Crimean Referendum was one such. And, as a result, Crimea reverted to Russia. Although the West had eagerly backed many other referendums by States opting to leave the Russian fold, they did not recognise this reversemovement referendum. No surprises there, but now comes the twist in the tale. 

Overtly, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remained neutral on Crimea in the UN, but in one-onone meetings, CCP covertly expressed solidarity with Ukraine against Russia. CCP used the divide to bolster its own presence in Ukrainian Business, but didn’t stop there. Even in the Sea of Azov, which has traditionally been considered to be a Russian lake, CCP waded into the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, offering dredging assistance. Russia has not taken kindly to this at all, which might explain Moscow’s alignment in the developing India-CCP border conflict.

 More important for Moscow, indications are now also emerging that CCP had actually stoked the West, behind the scenes, even as late as 2016, in painting Russia as the Centre-StageVillain of the World, using Crimea. By getting Russia and the West embroiled in quasi-conflict these last few years, CCP tied down the attention of both. More importantly, CCP got the West to isolate Russia. CCP couldn’t have asked for more. As Matthew Dal Santo puts it, ‘the West’s isolation of Russia has caused Moscow to acquiesce to an expanded Chinese presence it would once have resented’. And that is exactly why CCP played the Crimea card behind Russia’s back in every Western capital. There is increasing evidence that at about the same time that the UK became the loudest European mouthpiece against Russia in Europe, many of their political elite were actually being remotecontrolled from Beijing. The same suspicions surround many prominent politicians in the US, who were loud in their criticism of Russia. 

Crimea is not the first time that CCP has exploited fault-lines to draw benefit at Russia’s expense. Here is a short list of the top few. In the rise of CCP, ‘Deception’ has always been in unbroken flow. Embarking on undeclared but festering border skirmishes on the Amur River with USSR, Beijing played its masterstroke of a Soviet Bogey which made US geopolitical emotion towards CCP take a U-turn in 1968- 69, from outright hostility to golden amity: Nixon’s 1972 opening to Mao’s CCP thereafter put Beijing on the track to ascendency. Much later, at the nadir of Russian fortunes postbreak-up, when experts in every field were jobless overnight, CCP literally sucked away all the brains of Russia, and used them to build up what is now a formidable military-industrial base.

 In the era immediately after the Soviet break-up, CCP worked assiduously to replace Moscow’s influence in every part of the globe. Even though their success rate at that stage is moot, there are no doubts today that they have been successful in eating into what had traditionally been the Russian sphere of influence, which is naturally unnerving Moscow.

 Even in areas where balance of trade appears to favour Russia, matters are not hunky dory. Russia had remained CCP’s largest arms supplier from the 1990s till 2018, but the range of products have steadily reduced, till only niche items are still being imported. Every item that CCP bought, they also soon became self-sufficient in, jettisoning Russian sources and partners soon thereafter. CCP has unashamedly copied Russian military hardware, and today, CCP has surpassed Russia to become the world’s second largest arms producer. In nearly every dimension, CCP already towers over Russia. Russia can spoil CCP’s overland ambitions, but as long as the West keeps Russia isolated, Russia will be forced to deepen economic ties with CCP.

 Till the Wuhan pandemic struck, there was some people-to-people goodwill among Russians for the Chinese, but that too seems to be a thing of the past. In February, over one third of all Russians had become anti-CCP in their outlook. After Russia closed its land borders with China, CCP has not only had to protest Russian ‘discriminatory measures against ethnic Chinese’ but they have also faced huge losses for their companies inside Russia. Now, the Russians are astute diplomats. And good diplomats predict the future with uncanny accuracy. If a military altercation takes place — and the ‘if’ seems ever more likely to be a ‘when’, given that CCP is messing with too many nations — when a military altercation takes place with another country like Taiwan or Japan, the Russians know that if CCP comes up victorious, the next territorial target for CCP is Russia. This is almost axiomatic and Russia knows this: so whatever be the next altercation that CCP gets into, they must not come out on the top. 

While the Russians are astute diplomats, the CCP seems to have lost the ability to engage diplomatically; but the world must remain true to the traditional framework to give them an ability to reverse direction. And if they choose not to, then we must be prepared to work collectively to respond. As Australian MP, Dave Sharma says, ‘it is time to rehabilitate Russia, and time for bold statecraft led by the US but supported by all Western allies’. Indeed, Trump has already invited Russia, India, Australia and South Korea into the G7, despite opposition from countries such as Canada. 

The future is often difficult to predict, but in this case, it is certain that an ascendant CCP will lead to a bleak future for the rest of the world, especially for almost every one of CCP’s neighbours – Russia included. But will the West accept that Crimea happened for reasons of Russian insecurity and not ambition? On that could well depend the future of the World. Russia’s CCP problem is actually a part of the world’s CCP problem.

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Defence

Dragon is in for surprise from India

China needs to be reminded of ground realities of Ladakh, which is characterised by High Altitude Area to Super High Altitude Area terrain demanding extraordinary standard of physical endurance, a quality which reportedly is lacking in PLA soldiers who are mostly hailing from urban areas.

Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd.)

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India-China border tensions flare up

The old proverb, “Empty vessels make the most noise” fits aptly on Hu Xijin, editor- in-chief of Global Times (GT), China. Following the Foreign Minister-level talks, Xijin tweeted that “PLA is prepared to strike against Indian troops.” He went on to add that PLA was ready to strike a heavy blow to Indian troops. The statement was followed by a series of articles indirectly threatening India to acquiesce to Chinese stand or else face the consequences which would be detrimental to Indian interests. Some excerpts from a GT article are, “India has no chance of winning the LAC war.” Likewise, another ex- tract from the same article reads, “We must remind the Indian side that China‘s national strength, including its military strength, is much stronger than India’s… If a border war starts, India will have no chance of winning.”

Selective memory

China needs to be reminded of ground realities of Ladakh region, which is characterised by High Altitude Area (HAA) to Super High Altitude Area (SHAA) terrain demanding extraordinary standard of physical endurance, a quality which reportedly is lacking in PLA soldiers who are mostly hailing from urban areas. While the Chinese media continues to target India through information war by highlighting their victory over India in 1962, it fails to recollect the humiliating defeat of 1967. PLA suffered 340 killed and 450 injured at the hands of Indian Army. In comparison, 88 Indian Soldiers were killed in action and 163 injured. Also, it has glibly blanked out the severe blow inflicted by Indian Army on PLA soldiers in Galwan clashes. As per US intelligence reports, 35 soldiers including several officers of PLA were killed/injured in the incident. Some sources peg this number at 45.

The Fallacy of Type 15 Light Tanks: It has been flaunting its light Tank Type 15 as the game changer in Ladakh but seems to have overlooked that tanks are of very limited value in the rugged HAA and SHAA mountains. Light footed all pervasive Infantry with its missiles and rockets will play merry hell with the thinly armoured so called light tanks of China. Every fold of the ground in the Indus and Spanggur valley will become an obstacle for the Type 15 tanks. We must also not forget that it is a challenge to operate and maintain these tanks at SHAA of Ladakh due to the extreme cold climate. It is no brainer that India has an edge over China in this domain as well. Moreover, Type 15 tanks weigh 33 tons and when fully loaded would touch 35 tons. By no stretch of imagination, they can be termed as light tanks. The slow moving tanks will be dead ducks for our infantry men. Further, India also has been able to induct its T72 and T90 tanks in the region. Moreover, we must not forget that Type 15 tanks of the Chinese do not have any battle experience unlike the Indian T 72 and T 90s. Combination of Infantry and T 72 will cause havoc in the Chinese camp for sure.

Battle Hardy and Seasoned Indian Troops: Someone also needs to re- mind the Chinese of the fate PLA met in Vietnam in 1979. When faced with battle hardened soldiers like that of India and Vietnam, Han soldiers predominantly hailing from urban areas will wilt under pressure. The Battle of Pork Chop Hill with Vietnam seems to have faded from the memory of PLA Commanders. Chinese do not seem to consider that Himalayas have a way of teaching a lesson to armies that disregard its might especially when confronted with highly spirited, motivated and battle-scarred soldiers from India. Battle worthiness of Indian soldiers is unmatched in comparison to China. Indian Army has been fighting an ongoing proxy war with Pakistan for the last three decades in J&K. It is successfully operating on the highest battlefield of the world Siachen since the mid-80s and fought three successful wars post 1962. Its valour on the super high altitude Kargil Mountains where even walking is a challenge leave aside fighting with full battle loads remains unmatched by any army in the world. What makes the Indian army stand apart from the others is its strong regimental spirit, absolute loyalty towards the nation and never say die spirit. On the contrary, chocolate soldiers of China have never seen a conflict since 1979. That India will win easily is a foregone conclusion which is not based on nationalistic rhetoric but on irrefutable and logical military arguments enumerated in succeeding paragraphs.

Logistics infrastructure

Estimated Current Force Levels: As per some open source reports, China has amassed over two Divisions in the Sector. Further based on the reported movement of vehicles in the last few weeks opposite the Ladakh Sector, we may safely assume that China would enhance the numbers to 3 to 4 Divisions. It has also inducted additional tanks, artillery, and aircrafts opposite us. However, are they prepared logistically? We also need to consider that China does not mobilize such large troops in this sector as a matter of regular practice. They were forced to do so as a reaction to an unexpected level of resistance displayed by the Indian Army digging its heels duly supported by national leadership which did not buckle down to Chinese pressure. Hence, there would be a need to undertake logistics preparation before the troops can be launched into operations. Is the available time – frame and the exist- ing infrastructure adequate to undertake a pre-winter operation extending into the harsh winters of Ladakh? A dispassionate analysis of Chinese logistics capability will provide the correct answer to this question.

Availability of Roads and Logistic Staging Areas: China has built six logistic bases that support the Ladakh Region along the sole road artery [G219] that feeds the region. These are starting from the north Zaidullah [Can support two Divisions], Dahong Luitan [Can support two Divi- sions], Rudok [Can support one Division], Shiquanhe [Can support one Division], Kangsiwar [Can support one Division] and Noh [Can support one Division].

These logistic bases are connected by radial roads emanating from G219 to nine forward staging areas. The forward staging areas are starting from the North, TWT, Piu, Khurnak Fort, Dorje Kunjam, Maldo, Gar Gungsa (GordZong), Tashigang and Nupuk. These staging areas are 80- 150 km from the main road artery G219 and capable of supporting two Brigades to a Division. From the forward staging areas, multiple roads are available to support the forward troops. On the face of it, the logistic infrastructure appears flawless and well planned. However, a careful analysis will reveal several constraints in the Chinese logistics supply chain.

Firstly, the entire logistics is based on a single road artillery G 219. Further, large distances lead to greater turnaround time upto these mother depots. Hence, they need greater time to stock. Secondly, G 219 though claimed by China to remain open throughout the year, as per some defence experts is prone to major closures sometimes extending to 10 to 14 days due to harsh weather conditions during the winters. Thirdly, while the connectivity between the forward staging areas to forward troops is good, the forward staging areas themselves are connected by mostly single roads from G 219. This restricts the Chinese logistics supply chain between mother bases on the G 219 and the Forward Staging areas. Fourthly, the nine forward staging areas are a choke point and ideal targets for IAF to disrupt their supply chain. Fifthly, it also necessitates sequential application of forces along these radials. On the other hand, India has multiple connectivity to the Ladakh sector now. Although these roads close during winter, with construction of the Atal tunnel and another all- weather road from Darcha to Leh, this problem has been permanently taken care of. Further roads forward of Leh have now been upgraded and are open throughout the year. These roads only see closure for a very – very short duration due to heavy snowfall. In addition, the Indian air heads in the Ladakh region remain operative almost throughout the year.

Forward Road Connectivity: China has developed five laterals in its most vulnerable and highly sensitive Aksai Chin area. First being to Depsang Plains (areas of PP 10, 11, 11A, 12 & 13). Second to Galwan Valley (PP 14). Third to Hot Springs/Gogra (PP 15 & 17A). Fourth to Pangong Tso North Bank (till Finger 4) and fifth to Pangong Tso South Bank (almost till opposite of Finger 4, where an additional road from Rudok to Spanggur also exists). India with its revised policy is hastening rapid border
infrastructure development. Activation of the DBO airfield and completion of the DSDBO Road, and connectivity in other sectors is unsettling the Chinese. The Chinese see the development of our border road infrastructure as a threat to Aksai Chin. In short, it is advantage India when we superimpose our better fighting capability both by ground forces and the AF.

Air Bases: Seven active air bases are located in Xinjiang and Tibet that will come into play for operations against India. These are Hotan, Gar Gunsa, Kashgar, Hoping, DkonkaDzong, Linzhi and Pangat. Reports suggest that all these airbases have been active in the recent past suggesting that China is still short of being fully ready to take on India in a conventional face off for the time being. Further, given the altitude of these airfields fighters as well as the transport aircrafts will suffer a major load penalty. On the other hand, Indian Aircrafts will take off from air fields located in the plains and would be able to deliver greater TNT on the Chinese. Adding to the problem of high altitude are the large distances of Chinese air bases from the forward staging areas, which will pose a serious challenge in maintaining the forward troops. India on the other hand will operate over shorter distances with forward air heads being much closer to the forward troops. So what India lacks in numbers is compensated in better operating conditions and capabilities? China is conscious of this differential and hence eager to seek a diplomatic solution to the current face off, a fact substantiated by its eagerness to seek RM and EAM level talks with India during the SCO summit to resolve the current face off.

Weapons Equipment and Armaments: The common perception created by numerical data may give an impression that China has an edge on this issue. However, India has been quietly working towards building its stocks and making up its deficiencies to sustain a conflict in harsh and active winters from the time current face off commenced with the Chinese. It has been taking steps to make sure that our troops are fully geared and equipped to face the challenges posed by an adversary blinded by simplistic numerical comparisons.

Game not over till last ball

India is a peace-loving nation and firmly believes in peaceful growth of the entire world in the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. But if forced to go to war it will not hesitate to fight as it is geared to meet all contingencies. While India and China may not be at par in overall comprehensive national power calculated by social scientists and inter- national relations scholars, intangibles such as human factors, dedication, commitment, and local conditions have the potential to alter the outcome of a military conflict. Locational advantages, external support, terrain and weather conditions if exploited well by a country will produce unexpected results. India enjoys that advantage in Ladakh and its leadership at the national level and military at the operational level is will- ing and fully geared to do so. In comparison, Xi appears driven by personal ambition of being the next great leader of China after Mao even if it means putting his country in danger of losing its hard earned position in the comity of nations.

Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd) has served in varied terrains and theatre of operations, in India and in the UN as Military Observer. He has commanded an Infantry Battalion, Brigade and a Division in Jammu and Kashmir. He is currently Professor Emeritus Defence Studies at Gujarat Raksha Shakti University.

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Indian Army cares for its bravehearts

Ashish Singh

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We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.

Braveheart Late Sub Gandhi Ram Rajbongshi of Assam Regt hailing from Mangaldoi in Darrang District lost his life while serving the nation along the northern borders on 18 December 2000, leaving behind his wife Pabitri Rajbongshi along with a 15-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. The complete responsibility of upbringing of the family was onto the shoulders of Pabitri Rajbongshi who took on this responsibility as a challenge and acted as an iron lady. She single-handedly raised both her children and helped them pursue their education in the best of schools and colleges possible. Subsequently in the year 2011, her elder daughter Geetanjali got married while her son was still undergoing schooling. In 2018, again a tragedy struck this brave lady of Assam when her son met with a bike accident on 13 June 2018.

The injuries sustained by her son Gagan Rajbongshi were severe and he was hospitalised for over a month for undergoing various minor operations and also facial re-constructive surgery. The total cost of his treatment was around Rs 12 lakh. Pabitri Rajbongshi, as strong as ever, again took over the responsibility of the family and helped her son by providing him the best medical treatment possible. The family wanted to claim the medical expenditure from government but was unable to receive any financial help as they were not registered and availing the ECHS facility.

At this time of need, the Indian Army rose to the occasion, in accordance with its commitment to ensuring welfare and social security of veterans and “veernaris”; the local Indian Army unit en- sured release of one-time grant of Rs 5 lakh from Army Central Welfare Fund (ACWF) to help and support Pabitri Rajbongshi. This reflects the bond which still exists within the organisation, always looking after the ones who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation and never ever forgets their sacrifice.

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Laser Guided ATGM Successfully Test-fire

Ashish Singh

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Laser-guided Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) was successfully test-fired from MBT Arjun Tank at KK Ranges, Armoured Corps Centre and School (ACC&S), Ahmednagar, on Tuesday. In these tests, the ATGM success- fully defeated a target located at 3 km. Laser-guided ATGMs lock and track the targets with the help of laser designation to ensure precision hit accuracy.

The missile employs a tandem HEAT warhead to defeat Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) protected armoured vehicles. It has been developed with multiple-platform launch capability and is currently undergoing technical evaluation trials from gun of MBT Arjun. Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) Pune in association with High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) Pune, and Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE) Dehradun have developed the missile.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO for the successfully test firing of the Laser Guided Anti Tank Guided Missile from MBT Arjun at KK Ranges. Secretary DDR&D & Chairman DRDO congratulated DRDO personnel and industry on the successful test firing.

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