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Daily Category  (Security)

India’s Military Convergence

CONTEXT:

  • The Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat’s recent description of the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a supporting arm and the IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria’s rebuttal, is the newest bump in the turbulent journey marking the reorganisation process of the armed forces.

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BACKGROUND:

  • Analysing the experience of the United States, the greatest exponent of air power in history, the air power theorist Tami Davis Biddle wrote in 2019 that ‘aerial bombing cannot control the ground.

    • It is fundamentally a coercive activity in which an attacker seeks to structure the enemy’s incentives — using threats and actions to shape and constrain the enemy’s options, both perceived and real.

    • It is an important and much-utilized military instrument for both deterrence and compellence.

  • However, its ability to produce results varies, and students of strategy must understand the circumstances under which it is more or less likely to achieve particular results or political ends.

    • Holding and controlling land or water is essential in conflict.

    • From Vietnam to Afghanistan, air power failed to deliver the promised results to the U.S. But everyone acknowledges how greatly air power can aid victories though.

ISSUES WITH INDIAN AIRFORCE (IAF):

  • Counting even ageing aircraft, the IAF is 25% short on fighter squadrons.

    •  A pan service shortage of about 400 pilots, almost 10% of their authorised strength.

  • Technology is at the core of an air force – acquiring and assimilating it is our primary challenge.

    • The lack of it curtails national options, impacting postures and doctrines.

  • Maintenance challenges determine how long they last and their cost-effectiveness.

    • ‘Maintainability’, which includes logistical issues, is therefore, crucial.

  • Attracting quality youth, training and retaining them is another of IAF’s challenges.

    • Inculcating qualities of leadership and innovativeness and ushering in meritocracy and productivity are important on our agenda.

IS JOINT THEATRE COMMAND A GOOD STRATEGY?

  • For instance, different services do not co-exist well where they are co-located. Bitter fights over land, buildings, facilities, etc. mar optimal operational synergising.

    • Then there is the issue of giving each other the best, or of wanting to be with each other.

    • The Andaman and Nicobar Command suffered from the lack of a substantial operational charter, and the services not positioning appropriate personnel or resources there.

    • Moreover, as a joint tenure did not benefit career, no one strove for it. The U.S., when faced with the same problem, made joint tenures mandatory for promotions. Steamrolling with decrees is useful in such areas.

  • Major reorganisations must strictly follow the sequence of written concepts, their refinement through consultation, simulation or table top war gaming, field evaluation and final analysis before implementation.

    • This would help address command and control, asset adequacy, individual service roles, operational planning under new circumstances and the adequacy of joint structures.

  • Who gets to lead what also matters.

    • The Western Command between the Indian Army and the IAF,

    • the Northern Command with the Indian Army,

    • Maritime Command with the Indian Navy and the Air Defence Command with the IAF might be an acceptable formula.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?

  • The need for a comprehensive National Security Strategy to guide the services to develop capacities required in their respective domains.

  • The need to transform professional education and inter-service employment to nurture genuine respect for others.

  • The armed forces must resolve their differences among themselves, as the politicians or bureaucrats cannot do it.

  • To ensure good quality staff, in adequate numbers, at apex joint organisations, to reassure individual services and those in the field that they are in safe hands.

  • The acceptance of the fact that what works for other countries need not work for us.

    • We may need tailor-made solutions which may need more genuine thinking.

    • For genuine military jointness, a genuine convergence of minds is critical. Decrees have limitations.

SOURCE:  The Hindu

Strengthening of Indian Defence to Counter China

CONTEXT:

  • India is revamping its defence strategy in three broad ways - processes, procurement and partnerships. It is integrating its armed forces, upgrading weapons and strengthening its military alliances.  

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KEY DETAILS:

  • Relations between India and China have deteriorated sharply since 15th June 2020, when the two armies clashed in hand-to-hand combat in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, reminding one of “Fourth World War” imagined by Albert Einstein.

  • Along with the primitive nature of the combat, it is surprising that in this age of information technology and artificial intelligence, the border between India and China is still not clearly defined or demarcated.

CHINA’s DEFENCE SCENARIO:

  • China is an aspiring world power that spends $252 billion on its defence budget, as compared to $72.9 billion that India spends.

    • Both countries limit their budget to around 2 per cent of their GDP, which in China’s case is five times our size.

    • They have downsized their army and built a navy, which is growing faster than the US navy.

    • They are invulnerable on land, and their only strategic weakness is their reliance on the Indian Ocean SLOCs (sea lines of communications) for 70 per cent of their imported oil.

  • The Chinese are about to extend their geographical advantage by building a new high-speed rail from Chengdu, running close by and parallel to the Arunachal border, up to Lhasa.

  • As the other services expanded, the army shrunk to around 975,000 troops, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

    • Reforms have focused on streamlining its top-heavy command structure; creating smaller, more agile units; and empowering lower-level commanders.

    • The army is also upgrading its weapons. Its lightweight Type 15 tank, for example, came into service in 2018 and allows for engagement in high-altitude areas, such as Tibet.

  • The navy has expanded at an impressive rate to become the world’s largest naval force in terms of ship numbers.

    • In 2016, it commissioned eighteen ships, while the U.S. Navy commissioned five. 

  • The air force has also grown, with 395,000 active service members in 2018.

    • It has acquired advanced equipment, some thought to be copied from stolen U.S. designs, including

      • airborne warning and control systems

      • bombers,

      • unmanned aerial vehicles

    • The air force also has a collection of stealth aircraft, including J-20 fighters.

INDIA-CHINA BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP IN RECENT MONTHS:

  • Disengagement has stalled, China continues to reinforce its troops, and talks have been fruitless.

  • Hostility and distrust: More broadly, the India-China bilateral relationship has ruptured. Political relations are marked by hostility and distrust.

  • Border dispute conditional: India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has made clear, the relationship is conditional on quietude on the border.

  • Destabilizing disruptions: Even if — a big if — disengagement continues, the relationship will remain vulnerable to destabilizing disruptions.

  • Lessons from Ladakh: India’s military and political leaders will need to learn the right lessons from Ladakh, to ensure they are better postured to meet the challenge of Chinese coercion. Ladakh crisis offers New Delhi three key lessons in managing the intensifying strategic competition with China

WHAT SHOULD BE THE INDIA’s STRATEGY?

  • The first step is to accept that we are an asymmetric power and leverage the RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs) so that numerical inferiority is of no consequence.

    • We start by dividing the Indo-Pacific, including the South China seas and the Eastern Indian Ocean, into areas of maritime search responsibility between the QUAD.

    • All nations operate on a common reporting communication net, centred either in Port Blair or Visakhapatnam.

    • On being requested by India, the QUAD maritime search aircraft gain information dominance over the Indo-Pacific on all PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) movements taking place, aimed at transiting the Malacca Straits.

    • The Indian navy apprehends all China-bound tankers and keeps them in a quarantine anchorage off the Nicobars, with a diplomatic declaration that India reserves the right to choose the time and place of retaliation, and alerts the QUAD.

    • The impounded tankers are unharmed and are merely bait for the PLAN to respond, by coming to engage the Indian navy.

    • The movement of PLAN units is reported days in advance to the waiting Indian forces by QUAD resources.

    • The PLAN units are funnelled through the geographically constrained straits into, what is, to borrow an army tactical expression, a killing ground.

WAY FORWARD:

  • What would be greatly beneficial, and to make the operation tri-service, is to build up the Car Nicobar airfield into a full-fledged airbase and permanently station a squadron of suitable aircraft.

  • If the air force can be coaxed into abandoning its territorial airspace defence mentality, and go expeditionary, we could negotiate with Oman for the use of the old RAF airbase at Masirah to dominate the Gulf of Hormuz and threaten the Chinese base at Djibouti.

  • We can achieve better conventional deterrence against China by giving bigger roles to the navy and air force and downsizing the army by 2,00,000 men over five years through retirement and reduced recruitment.

    • The reduction in manpower will save approximately Rs 30,000 crore, which can be equally divided between the three services.

    • The Army can replace its vintage T72 tanks or acquire three squadrons of gunships.

    • The Navy can easily acquire its cherished third aircraft carrier.

    • The Air Force its two new fully-equipped airbases abroad.

CONCLUSION:

  • In recent years we have seen many stand-offs between India and China, thus a proper defence strategy is needed to counter China.

  • Proper focus on Air Force and Navy along-with Army could be a game changer for India.

SOURCE: Indian Express

Project-75 India

CONTEXT:

  • Kickstarting the formal process for building six conventional submarines indigenously under the Project 75 India or P-75I, the government issued a Request for Proposal (RPF) to the two selected Indian Strategic Partners (SP).

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KEY DETAILS:

  • The Defence Acquisition Council had approved the issuing of the RFP.

  • The project is worth Rs 43,000 crore and will be the first, across services, under the strategic partnership model, which was promulgated in 2017 to boost indigenous defence manufacturing.

PROJECT-75 INDIA:

  • Project-75(I) envisages indigenous construction of six modern conventional submarines including

    • associated shore support,

    • Engineering Support Package,

    • training and spares package

    •  contemporary equipment,

    • weapons & sensors including

    • Fuel-Cell based AIP (Air Independent Propulsion Plant),

    • advanced torpedoes,

    • Modern missiles and state of the art countermeasure systems.

  • This would provide a major boost to the indigenous design and construction capability of submarines in India,

    • In addition to bringing in the latest submarine design and technologies as part of the project

  • The state-of-art technology used in the submarine has ensured superior stealth features such as

    • advanced acoustic absorption techniques

    • low radiated noise levels

    • hydro- dynamically optimised shape

    • ability to attack the enemy using precision guided weapons

SUBMARINES UNDER PROJECT-75 INDIA:

  • INS KALVARI- launched on 27 October 2015 and commissioned on 14 December 2017.

  • INS KHANDERI-launched on 12 Jan 2017 and commissioned on 28 Sep 2019.

  • INS KARANJ-launched on 31 January 2018 and commissioned on 10 Mar 2021.

  • INS VELA-launched on 6 May 2019

  • INS VAGIR-launched on 12 Nov 2020

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP MODEL:

  • The strategic partnership model seeks to identify a few Indian private companies as Strategic Partners (SP) who would initially tie up with a few shortlisted foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to manufacture big-ticket military platforms.

  • In the initial phase, the selection of SPs would be confined to four segments:

    • Fighter Aircraft

    • Helicopters

    • Submarines

    • Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV)/Main Battle Tanks (MBT).

  • In each segment, “only one SP would generally be selected”.

DEFENCE ACQUISITION COUNCIL:

  • The objective of the Defence Acquisition Council is to ensure expeditious procurement of the approved requirements of the Armed Forces in terms of capabilities sought, and time frame prescribed, by optimally utilizing the allocated budgetary resources.

  • Members-

    • Defence Minister: Chairman

    • Minister of State for Defence: Member

    • Chief of Army Staff: Member

    • Chief of Naval Staff: Member

    • Chief of Air Staff: Member

    • Defence Secretary: Member

    • Secretary Defence Research & Development: Member

    • Secretary Defence Production: Member

    • Chief of Integrated Staff Committees HQ IDS: Member

    • Director General (Acquisition): Member

    • Dy. Chief of Integrated Defence: Staff Member Secretary

  • Functions-

    • in-principle approval of 15 Year Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan for Defence Forces

    • accord of Acceptance of Necessity to acquisition proposals

    • Categorization of the acquisition proposals relating to 'Buy', 'Buy & Make' and 'Make’.

    • issues relating to Single vendor clearance

    • decision regarding 'offset' provisions in respect of acquisition proposals above Rs. 300 crores

    • decisions regarding Transfer of Technology under 'Buy & Make' category of acquisition proposals

    • Field Trial evaluation.

SOURCE:  Indian Express

Short Span Bridging System (SSBS)

Context:

  • The Army inducted the first production lot of 12 Short Span Bridging System (SSBS)-10m, designed and developed by DRDO in association with Larsen & Toubro Limited, the production agency.