8 November 2012

Defending Indian Skies against the Chinese Air Force

Issue Vol. 27.1 -Mar 2012 | Date : 08 Nov , 2012

As a rising power that detests competition, China might continue to test India’s resolve and patience through pinpricks on the border issue while progressively enhancing the level of engagement on the economic front and cooperating over global environmental concerns. In all likelihood, China will continue to promote activities that militate against the security interests of India. It is in light of these developments that the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) must be assessed. Is the PLAAF finally spreading its wings? Does its sustained modernisation drive over the last two decades pose new challenges for India?

Two recent statements by Indian political leaders reflect the current state of Sino-Indian relations. On November 30, 2011, the Indian Defence Minister AK Antony admitted that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had created some, “situations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that could have been avoided but which were due to different perceptions of the border.” Although the borders remain un-demarcated, disputes have been managed through established mechanisms such as hotlines, flag meetings and meetings of commanders of both sides. Consequently, the Sino-Indian border has been quiet and tranquil. On December 04, 2011, Omar Abdullah, the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir expressed concern over Chinese involvement in the Kashmir region and urged India, “to show more spine” while dealing with China.
All three branches of the PLA have carried out numerous exercises in the last two decades.

In the recent past, China has taken strong objection to oil exploration by India in collaboration with Vietnam in the South China Sea. The Indian Prime Minister has stated that this is purely a commercial activity in the ambit of international law and has clearly signalled India’s resolve to continue with the exercise.

It should be evident from the above that in the foreseeable future, Sino-Indian relations might be troubled and problematic. As a rising power that detests competition, China might continue to test India’s resolve and patience through pinpricks on the border issue while progressively enhancing the level of engagement on the economic front and cooperating over global environmental concerns. In all likelihood, China will continue to support Pakistan, a policy that would militate against the security interests of India. It is in light of these developments that the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) must be assessed. Is the PLAAF finally spreading its wings? Does its sustained modernisation drive over the last two decades pose new challenges for India?

 In September 2010, the PLAAF deployed six H-6 bombers escorted by two J-10 fighters to Kazakhstan during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisations (SCO) Peace Mission 2010 exercise. In October 2010, the PLAAF sent four J-11 (Chinese version of the Su-27) supported by one Il-76 aircraft to Konya in Turkey to participate in the Anatolian Eagle 2010, a bilateral exercise. The contingent staged through Iran which provided the required transit facilities. This was the first time that the PLAAF had deployed its air assets at such a distance from the Chinese mainland and engaged in an exercise with a NATO member nation. There were fears in the US about the potential of Transfer of Technology, particularly since Turkey operates F-16 fighters acquired from the US. Turkey, however, assured the US that no such transfer would take place.
The 1991 Gulf War came as a wake-up call to China.

All three branches of the PLA have carried out numerous exercises in the last two decades. It was in the 1990s that the PLAAF was, for the first time, accorded the authority to “coordinate a joint exercise opposite the Taiwan Strait” signalling the intent of the PLA to play a dominant role. Most of the exercises conducted inside China involved joint operations, para-drop, strategic lift and operations from satellite airfields. The strategic lift exercise, Stride 2009 involved the movement by air and surface transport of a division plus strength of troops from the East to the far end of the country in the West. In the absence of detailed information, it is difficult to accurately assess the actual offensive potential of the PLAAF but emphasis on Rapid Reaction Units, education, joint and Special Forces operations, computer education, increasing reliance on space-based systems and synergy with cyber operations show that the China is serious about transforming its air force to enhance its reach and firepower.
In the past, India has shown some reluctance to employ offensive air power in right measure.

Undoubtedly, the PLAAF has come a long way since the 1970s when it possessed some 5,000 aircraft, a mix of different types. However, only a few of those were really airworthy or posed any threat to China’s neighbours. When the PRC sent a Chinese Volunteer Army consisting of some six corps to fight in the Korean War, only a few pilots in the PLAAF were able to fly the Soviet MiG-15 against the American F-84, and later the F-86 Sabre fighters.

Aviation Industry in China

The threat of an American attack by nuclear weapons forced Mao Zedong to redouble China’s effort to develop nuclear deterrent capability with the necessary delivery systems. Although Russia helped China build a vast defence industry fashioned on the Soviet model, the PLAAF continued to suffer from ‘short legs’ or limited range and armament. During the 1950s and 1960s, operating in concert with Taiwanese forces, the US aircraft and warships regularly violated Chinese airspace and territorial waters. The PLAAF was too weak to retaliate. The focus of the PLAAF was air defence for which, despite their limited range, the Soviet-designed MiG-15, MiG-17 and later MiG-19 served the purpose. First generation Surface-to-Air Missiles, SAM II Guideline even shot down a few USAF U-2 spy planes. The PLAAF also manufactured the Il-28 light bomber and obtained the design of the Tu-16 long-range bomber but by then, relations between the two countries soured and almost all cooperation with the Soviet Union in the defence sector came to a halt.

Efforts were made to design and develop indigenous aircraft but due to China’s inability to manufacture suitable aero-engines, projects languished for years. However, it goes to the credit of Chinese engineers that despite the constraints, they succeeded in cloning the MiG-21 designated as the J-7/F-7 and also developed the J-8, a twin-engine variant of the MiG-19. In fact by 1984, China had already exported this highly agile and easy-to-maintain Chinese version of the MiG-21 to Iraq and other friendly countries.

The 1991 Gulf War came as a wake-up call to China. Her leadership suddenly realised that a nuclear deterrent alone was not enough when pitched against a modern air force that could blunt the capability to retaliate. What followed was the doctrine of ‘active defence’ that implicitly allowed even a pre-emptive strike and a renewed search for modern aircraft and weapons.

The PLAAF has some 1,687 combat capable aircraft up from 1,653 the previous year.Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was in serious economic difficulties. With her economy already booming, China immediately cashed in on the opportunity and signed a major deal for the purchase of 24 Su-27, roughly in the US F-15 class with the provision for the local manufacture of another 200 aircraft. China also purchased large numbers of Rolls Royce Spey-200 engines from the UK for the locally developed JH-7/FB-7 fighter bomber, accessed high technology from Israel and also purchased Russian aero-engines the RD-93 and Al-31 F to kick-start two other local fighter programmes. What emerged was the JF-17 Thunder co-produced with Pakistan and the J-10 based on the Lavi, an Israeli-designed fighter of the F-16 class. The Lavi programme had been abandoned by Israel supposedly under pressure from the US. Pakistan, incidentally, had allegedly supplied a crashed F-16 and a dud American Tomahawk Air Launched Cruise Missile to China to facilitate reverse engineering.

In less than two decades, the PLAAF has ‘leap-frogged’ two generations to reach a level significantly higher than where it was in the 1980s. Belying Western forecasts, China had deftly utilised her economic and diplomatic clout to transform the PLAAF into a modern air arm.

Not only did China focus on fighter aircraft but also developed, built, and wherever possible, blatantly copied the numerous designs of air-launched weapons and missiles, transport aircraft, helicopters and UAV/UCAV that were obtained from Russia and other countries. Flush with funds, China could get whatever she wanted from Russia. However, attempts to locally manufacture a cloned version of the Al-31F turbo-fan engine that powers the Su-30 have not as yet succeeded. Most China watchers believe that this feat could be achieved in the next few years. China would then have joined the elite club of nations with the capability to manufacture modern jet engines.

The venerable An-12 (Y-8) has been successfully modified into an AEW&C version with more powerful engines, new propellers and modern avionics. The WZ-10 is a locally produced armed/attack helicopter. Some 100 H-6, the Chinese version of the 1950s vintage Tu-16 bomber, modified, with more powerful Russian D-30KP engines, are still operational. This old bomber is now employed for roles such as flight refuelling, electronic surveillance and to deliver anti-ship cruise missiles while remaining out of harm’s way.

The Chinese have also test flown the J-20, their fifth-generation stealth fighter and are confident of inducting it into service by the end of the decade.

The PLAAF Challenge

According to the latest reports (IISS Military Balance 2011), the PLAAF has some 1,687 combat capable aircraft up from 1,653 the previous year. The Chinese aviation industry now has the capacity to manufacture 40-50 modern fighters every year. Such is the pace of progress that reliance on Russian technological support has now reduced to a great extant.
Neither China nor India is likely to seek to engage in an all-out, copy-book and set-piece conventional war.

The PLAAF, however, has almost no combat experience nor has it participated in exercises with air forces other than the one with a few aircraft in Turkey last year. Yet if the type and variety of weapons, especially cruise missiles, UAV and UCAV and the focus on space-based systems such as the GPS/GLONASS, reconnaissance satellites are any indication, the PLAAF is by no means lagging behind other air forces in grasping the essentials of modern air power employment. A majority of the 1,687 combat aircraft, however, are of II/III generation. Barring some 144 J-10, a few Super-10, 243 Su-27/30 and 72 JH-7A, the rest comprise J-7 and J-8 of the older generation.

In addition, the PLA Navy’s aviation wing has some 311 combat capable aircraft with 24 Su-30 Flanker and 84 JH-7 fighter bombers with the remaining being J-7 and J-8 variants. Some 15 J-15, a locally manufactured version of the carrier-borne Su-33 are to join the PLA Navy’s new aircraft carrier, the Varyag.

In spite of the PLAAF and PLAN possessing a fairly large number of third generation or even slightly more advanced fighters, it is not clear if these would be used in their traditional roles. Given the strong influence of Sun Tzu’s philosophy of “winning wars without actually fighting”, the hangover of the People’s War dogma, PLA Army’s domination and relatively limited combat experience of the PLAAF, there is a possibility that the Chinese leadership might place a higher-than-normal reliance on the country’s missile force especially on the conventional short range ballistic missiles of the M-9 and M-11 variety. These weapons, available in large numbers, could well be used in the opening phases of a border conflict to convey Chinese political resolve and to keep attrition low. The terrain, large distances to airfields in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces (1,600km – 1,800km from Arunachal Pradesh to Chengdu and Kunming) and the limitations imposed by high altitude on fighter operations from Tibetan airfields could also force the Chinese to bank on conventional missiles. It is also debatable if on their way to targets in India, the Chinese aircraft would be allowed to fly over Myanmar and Bangladesh. As the crow flies, Mandalay is 805km from Kolkata, 821km from Tawang and 1,913km from Chennai. The Great Coco Island, that has only a 1,300-metre long runway, is just 284km from Port Blair.

Capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF)

Does it imply that the IAF cannot defend the Indian skies against this seemingly very formidable opponent? The answer is a definitive ‘NO’. As mentioned before, the actual offensive capability of the PLAAF is quite limited given the very large distances to their launch bases in mainland China and the severe payload limitations of fighter operations from the high altitude airfields in Tibet.
Geography will continue to play a very critical and possibly, positive role in any future conflict.

The PLAAF has a few Il-78 and ten H-6 converted into Tu-160 Flight Refuelling Aircraft (FRA). Their efficiency, state of training and employability however, remain somewhat uncertain. In the event of a face-off between the Chinese and Indian navies, the IAF may be called into action. Given the range, the IAF would have to undertake combat operations with the Su-30 fleet duly supported by FRAs.

The fleet of FRA with the PLAAF is neither large enough nor sufficiently trained to compensate for these limitations of operating from airfields at high altitude. Besides, the airfields in Tibet can be easily targeted by the IAF and hence would remain vulnerable. The IAF today has a fairly large number of combat aircraft and a small number of conventional missiles of the Prithvi class. The Su-30 MKI fleet in the East is being progressively enhanced and together with Mirage-2000 and MiG-29, would be able to counter any offensive by the elements of the PLAAF in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. The situation would definitely improve once the Su-30 MKI fleet is built up to full strength and the 126 MMRCA and 40 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft are inducted into the IAF in the next decade. By 2020, hopefully the Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft would also be available to the IAF.

In the past, India has shown some reluctance to employ offensive air power in right measure. The combat elements of the IAF were simply not used for fear of escalation during the 1962 Sino-Indian War and India lost. Thirty-seven years later, in the 1999 Kargil conflict, the use of air power was delayed and then severely restricted to the Indian side of the Line of Control again for fear of escalation. It is therefore, essential that the country’s military and political leadership is prepared to demonstrate India’s resolve, without which all the expensive hardware would be utterly useless.

IAF resources would undoubtedly be stretched in the event of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) also mounting an offensive in collusion with the PLAAF. But even in such a situation it would not be easy for them to prevail. Simultaneous and well-coordinated offensive operations by China and Pakistan are a remote possibility but one for which the country must be ever prepared. For a variety of reasons, at this point in time, neither China nor India is likely to seek to engage in an all-out, copy-book and set-piece conventional war. Firstly, India has consistently avoided using force even in the face of serious provocation by Pakistan. Secondly, for China, Taiwan and South China Sea disputes are of far greater strategic importance given the recently re-affirmed American interest in the region. This is not to suggest that Tibet and the so-called separatist forces in Xinxiang do not pose a serious challenge/threat to China’s national unity and territorial integrity. Thirdly, China is no longer the isolated country of the early Cold War era. Today, China is an important economic power with trading interests the world over and can hardly afford to sully her image as a responsible player. Fourthly, China’s dependence on maritime routes for exports and energy imports especially through the Strait of Malacca would also constrain her strategic options.
China’s dependence on maritime routes for exports and energy imports especially through the Strait of Malacca would also constrain her strategic options.

The possibility of a local border skirmish arising from a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the situation viz the un-demarcated LAC cannot be ruled out. India would be well advised to sharply restrict the scope, both in time and space, of such a skirmish by resorting to carefully calibrated military/diplomatic responses without delay. In the meantime, the IAF must assiduously build up the capability for swift and effective response to any threat or proactive step by the PLAAF.


In August 2009, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, the then-Chief of Naval Staff had stated that India was not in a position to match China “force for force” and had advised a more technological solution to cope with the threat and not confront a rising China. In July 2011, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, the then-Chief of the Air Staff had said that the PLAAF was three times the size of the IAF. While these statements are not very different from the suggestions by General Thimayya and Lieutenant General Thorat in 1960-1961, they may also be termed as ‘defeatist’.
…although China and India are neighbours, fortunately their forces are neither in conflict nor in competition.

Today, both India and China are very different. While China has no doubt shown a propensity to resort to aggressive language or even bullying, the actual use of force is another matter. Although slow in implementing steps in her defence preparedness, India is no push-over.

The IAF is well on its way to establish a network of light transportable radars, improved airfield infrastructure and the induction of new fighters, UAV/UCAV and a whole host of force multipliers such as the AWACS and FRA. Unfortunately, all of these are from foreign sources. China’s strategic defence industry has made spectacular progress leading her to be soon counted amongst the leading arms producing and exporting countries. Although the Indian economy too is on a growth trajectory, the power differential with China has been growing. Finally, although China and India are neighbours, fortunately their forces are neither in conflict nor in competition. Geography will continue to play a very critical and possibly, positive role in any future conflict, however, localised it might b

Developing Leadership in Arms

By Cdr Douglas C Deans
Issue Vol. 27.1 -Mar 2012 | Date : 08 Nov , 2012

Russian Carrier

Every nation aspiring to be a leader must go through the following four logical steps: Level 1… nations have just the ability to maintain and operate the weapons which are usually bought…; Level 2… nations acquire the ability to reproduce the weapons indigenously…; Level 3… nations now have the ability to adapt the weapons to suit their specific needs and manufacture them indigenously…; Level 4… nations advance further to create brand new weapon systems distinct and innovative which are state-of-the-art involving disruptive technologies.

The global arms trade is a very tightly controlled business involving over 50 supplier nations, 120 willing buyer nations and an annual turnover of over $50 billion. Since Independence, India has made large investments in the Defence sector hoping that its needs will be met indigenously. India accounted for nine percent of all international arms imports between 2006 and 2010. China accounted for six percent. Despite many noteworthy achievements, much military technology still needs to be imported. It may be an opportune time to discover the salient factors that have enabled some countries to attain self-sufficiency and leadership in arms supplies. Although each service has distinct requirements, references will be particularized to the Navy. It should however be noted that the considerations governing self sufficiency are generic and would be equally applicable to the other services and can extend to space technology.

India accounted for nine percent of all international arms imports between 2006 and 2010. China accounted for six percent. Despite many noteworthy achievements, much military technology still needs to be imported.

Since antiquity, nations have strived to achieve military supremacy over or at least attain parity in arms with their neighbours or competitors. A time schedule by which that goal must be obtained is an important factor. It cannot be left open ended if attaining leadership is a genuine objective. To determine an average time period by which it is feasible to attain that supremacy, it is necessary to review the history and accomplishments of some of the major players. Many countries have admittedly achieved such status in the distant past. However, this analysis will be limited to the post Second Industrial Period from 1850 onwards and will only refer to their most recent cycle of leadership. Any headship prior to that date, will not be included herein.

Soviet Naval Fleet

In February 1946, the Red Fleet was renamed the Soviet Military Naval Fleet. After World War-II, the Soviets concluded that they needed to compete with the West at all costs, and began a program to achieve parity. Funding for the infrastructure, research, training, design and construction was accorded the highest priority. The Soviet shipbuilding program kept shipyards busy constructing submarines based upon captured German designs. These were launched with great frequency during the immediate post-War years. Afterwards, through a combination of intense research and technology refined through very focussed military industrial intelligence, the Soviets gradually improved their submarine designs, though they initially lagged behind the NATO countries by a decade or so.

Russian Corvette

The Soviets were quick and innovative to equip their surface fleet with missiles of various sorts. Indeed, it became a feature of Soviet design to place large missiles onto relatively small, but fast missile craft while in the West, such an approach was not considered tactically feasible. The Soviet Navy also possessed several very large guided missile Cruisers like those of the Kirov and Slava classes. By the 1970s, Soviet submarine technology was, in some respects, more advanced than in the West, and several of their submarine designs were considered superior to their American rivals. Between 1968 to 1980, nuclear propelled vessels, helicopter carriers, submarines and aircraft carriers were successfully built using their own resources. Within a span of fifty years, the Russians showed it was feasible to attain a leadership role in warship technology including nuclear propulsion which included state-of-the-art metal, gas and liquid reactors. Figs. 1 to 3 show Russian Naval designs currently in service.

Imperial Japanese Navy

Japan embarked on its naval leadership program in 1913. It was the first Navy to use wireless telegraphy, the first to design and build the largest Battleships, the first to recognize the potential of the Carrier and the first to launch an air strike from the sea. By 1920, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was the world’s third largest navy and a leader in naval development. By this time, the import content for its biggest battle ship was less than twenty percent.

IjN Yamato (World's Heaviest Battleship)

In the period between 1930 to World War II, the IJN began to structure itself specifically anticipating an encounter with the United States who was seen as her their rival. Before and during World War II, the IJN was faced with considerable challenges, probably more so than any other navy in the world. Japan, like Britain, was almost entirely dependent on foreign resources to supply its economy. To achieve Japan’s expansionist policies, the IJN had to secure and protect very distant sources of raw material (especially South-east Asian oil and raw materials), controlled by foreign countries (Britain, France, and the Netherlands). To achieve this goal, she built large displacement warships with long range capability.

Japan’s numerical and industrial inferiority led her to seek technical superiority, qualitative superiority and aggressive tactics to overwhelm the enemy a successful recipe in her previous conflicts. However, she utterly failed to take into account the fact that her opponents in the Pacific War did not face the political and geographical constraints of her previous wars, nor did she anticipate incurring and having to replenish the heavy losses.

The IJN started the Pacific War with ten aircraft carriers, the largest and most modern carrier fleet

Japanese designers correctly put particular emphasis on the aircraft carrier. The IJN started the Pacific War with ten aircraft carriers, the largest and most modern carrier fleet in the world at that time. There were seven American aircraft carriers at the beginning of hostilities, only three operating in the Pacific and eight British aircraft carriers, of which only one operated in the Indian Ocean. The IJN’s two Shkaku-class carriers were superior to any carrier in the world, until the wartime appearance of the American Essex-class. A large number of these Japanese carriers were of small size because of the limitations placed upon the Navy by the London and Washington Naval Conferences. In the underwater world they, were equally very active having been designed and built as the largest submarine at the time.

Following the Battle of Midway, in which four Japanese fleet carriers were sunk, the IJN suddenly found itself short of fleet carriers. Japanese designers once again sought to innovate. Commercial and military vessels were converted into escort carriers such as the Hiy. Another conversion project, Shinano, was based on an incomplete Yamato-class super battleship and became the largest-displacement carrier of World War II.

Japanese & US Carriers

Japan began the War with a highly competent naval air force designed around some of the best airplanes in the world. The A6M Zero was considered the best carrier aircraft at the beginning of the war, the Mitsubishi G3M and G4M bomber were remarkable for their range and speed and the Kawanishi H&K was the world’s best flying boat. Even though it was eventually defeated, Japan proved it was possible to attain world class leadership in arms within a span of 50 years. Figs. 4 and 5 show the IJN Yamamo, the World Heaviest Battleship and a set of Japanese Carriers and their US counterparts at that time.

European Countries

In the post-War period, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Israel amongst others have always maintained their world class design capability in certain well-defined niche sectors of the arms industry. They have been principally motivated by the pursuit of wealth which are the economic gains that come from that excellence. Each of these countries has been able to maintain a distinguishing design style and excel in particularized technologies. These countries have combined their Defence policy with other industrial, economic, and social programs in a systematic way to develop a broader strategic-industrial perspective.

France has been totally dependent on its own arms industry for many decades while steadily expanding its capability as an innovative arms supplier.

As an example, in the case of France, in addition to the DGA and the Ministry of Defense, the Ministries of Economics and Finance, Industry and Foreign Trade, and Transportation participate in various aspects of defense-industrial planning. France has been totally dependent on its own arms industry for many decades while steadily expanding its capability as an innovative arms supplier.


Though China has been a great land power and an active sea faring nation, she had stagnated during the Industrial Period. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 quickly identified the need for a Modern Navy and entrusted that task to the People’s Land Army Navy (PLAN).

The 225,000-man PLAN is now organised into three fleets: North Sea, East Sea, and South Sea Fleet. Each fleet is composed of surface forces, submarine forces, naval aviation, and coastal defence forces. The South Sea Fleet also has two marine brigades, totalling some 10,000 men. The fleets are supported by ten major naval bases. In time of crisis, they can also integrate their vast merchant and fishing ship fleets.

The PLAN has followed a three-step strategy in its modernisation process. Each step involved the development of a sea force that can defend a circle of increasing radius. In the first step, it aimed to develop a relatively modernised naval force that can operate within the first island chain, a series of islands that stretch from Japan in the north to Taiwan and Philippines in the south.

Chinese Aircraft Carrier Varyag

In the second step, the PLAN aimed to develop a regional naval force that can operate beyond the first island chain to reach the second island ring which includes Guam, Indonesia, and Australia. In the third-stage, the PLAN will develop a global naval force by the mid twenty-first century. They have also invested heavily in maritime infrastructure. The port cities of Dalian, Dongjiakou and Majishan can now handle Valemaxes with cargo of 400,000 MT each.

Though the Chinese were earlier entirely dependent on imported military design and technology, they have, within a span of fifty years, steadily reduced their imports whilst their own military technology has continued to expand rapidly using their indigenous design signature. They are now extremely strong in reverse engineering using manufacturing processes of their own.

The lesson from Britain is very pertinent because it shows how it was feasible under good leadership and rapid industrialization to make the transition from an agricultural society to an industrial one and then maintain leadership for a very long time.

Consequently, their offshore shopping basket may soon be only limited to very expensive, single order state-of-art weapons/weapon systems. It can be safely assumed that they will be entirely self-reliant in arms and space technology within the next decade or so. Fig. 6 shows their latest fleet addition, the refurbished Aircraft Carrier at its fitting out berth just prior to sea trials.

United Kingdom

The Royal Navy, founded in the sixteenth century, maintained its leadership and was the largest navy in the world through the eighteenth and nineteenth century maintaining its ascendancy over every rival with the quality of its fighting machines. In the twentieth century, it had successfully fought two World Wars during which it still showed its innovative capabilities in terms of communications, radar, jet engines, Asdic and armaments. Even though the United Kingdom has downsized its navy in the post War period, it still maintained the leadership role in warship design, armament, communication and propulsion both conventional and nuclear.

The lesson from Britain is very pertinent because it shows how it was feasible under good leadership and rapid industrialization to make the transition from an agricultural society to an industrial one and then maintain leadership for a very long time.

United States of America

As a result of the War of Independence, the US developed its own design and production capacity and resolutely maintained military supremacy thereafter. The US Navy saw little action during World War I, but nevertheless its strength grew under an ambitious ship building program associated with the Naval Act of 1916. The US Navy grew into a formidable force in the years prior to World War II, with battleship production being revived in 1937, commencing with the USS North Carolina. Though ultimately unsuccessful, Japan attempted to counter this strategic threat with the 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbour.

US Virginia Class Submarine

Following American entry into the war, the US Navy grew tremendously as the country was faced with maritime threats on two fronts. By 1943, the Navy’s size was larger than the combined fleets of all the other combatant nations in World
War II. By the war end of the 1945, the United States Navy had added hundreds of new ships, including 18 aircraft carriers and 8 battleships and had over 70 percent of the world’s total number and total tonnage of naval vessels of 1,000 tons or greater. At its peak, in August 1945, the USN was operating 6,768 ships.

Even terrorists with the minimum of regular R&D and field trials have shown that they too can easily acquire, improvise and adapt…

Although prior to 1940, the USN had followed in the footsteps of the navies of Great Britain and Germany which favoured concentrated groups of battleships as their main offensive naval weapons, it was extremely quick to change. The development of the aircraft carrier and its devastating utilization by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour led to a profound change in its strategy and led to the development of the carrier battle group. The Pearl Harbour attack destroyed or took out of action a significant number of USN battleships and placed much of the burden of retaliation against the Japanese on the small number of aircraft carriers. In the post War period, the USN continued its technological advancement by leapfrog development of new weapons systems, ships, aircraft and nuclear submarines.

Many consider the global blue water Nuclear Carrier group of the USN complete with its vast array of logistic vessels as the gold standard. The US in 1944, rose to the challenges of the World War and has since then, become the dominant leader in arms supply and design. The US Navy now has the largest fleet in the world. Its battle fleet and auxiliary tonnage is greater than that of the next thirteen largest navies combined. The US Navy also has the world’s largest carrier fleet, with eleven in service, one under construction (two planned), and one in reserve. It operates 286 ships in active service and more than 3,700 aircraft. The US experience shows that a period of sixty years of prosperity is quite adequate for a country to reach a leadership role. Figs. 7 and 8 show one of carrier groups and the latest ballistic missile submarine of the US Navy.

US Carrier Task Force

Owing to the advancements information technology, nations now quickly discover their relative shortcomings and race to close the gap. Even terrorists with the minimum of regular R&D and field trials have shown that they too can easily acquire, improvise and adapt to opposing military technology and even develop inexpensive impromptu counter measures of their own designs.

Their technicians are extremely innovative. They adapt and deliver within months not decades. As global trade and communication improve, it would be fair to assume that the current period of sixty years to attain leadership will in future steadily shrink.

A nation must clearly define its mandate by seeking one of the three motivations that historically nations have used to seek leadership roles in military technology. These motivations though kept secret from public are explicit and precise with desired outcomes. The first, motivation is the “pursuit of wealth” which is connected to economics and structured by economic history. The second alternative is the distinct “pursuit of power” which results in influencing international relations by implicit display of military muscle. The third motivation is the declared aspiration of a “victory in war” against an identified and more advanced adversary. These motivations are then translated into concrete plans with strict time lines, accountability and budgets. They are not open-ended, unending five-year plans with little or no accountability.

A good designer uses both hemispheres of his brain. The left hemisphere is the one connected to memory and analysis. The right hemisphere is linked to creativity and the ability to compose, write and draw.

Each of these motivations, well intended as they may appear initially, are affected by time. In the short haul, governments which are dictatorial or autocratic are able to maintain either the “pursuit of power” or the aspiration of a “victory in war” for a long time ignoring any economic deprivations that their population has to endure. The best examples of this, was the USSR under communist leadership, Germany and Japan prior to World War II.

In democratic countries, as the tenure of governance is limited to about five years, continuity of policy beyond that period is dependent on a host of other factors which may include governance by coalition consensus, economic downturns, political defections and corruption. Continuation of an earlier prescribed motivation is then far more difficult. However, first the UK and then the USA, have shown that with decades of prosperity, good governance and economic growth, it is feasible for a democratic country to achieve and maintain that exclusive leadership role for a very long time.

The “pursuit of wealth” simply defines the commercial and economic forces that prevail in the production and distribution of military goods between nations who are the buyers and sellers. It assumes that the required state of industrialisation exists, together with an adequate infrastructure, skilled force, raw materials and transport. In brief, it is motivated by assessing if the venture is feasible and profitable, markets and finance exists and that law and order is reliable. The European Countries and Israel mentioned earlier have chosen to be very good military hardware suppliers motivated by commercial profit. The arms industry has always been a catalyst for industrial progress since it consistently leads to higher GDP.

The “pursuit of power” referred to defines the minimum needs that a state must display to exert a definite influence on surrounding neighbours and potential adversaries. The arms market is a direct result of certain states importing their requirements which they cannot manufacture by themselves. Logically, every state would, if they could, produce arms. The uneven distribution of social, economic and technical skills amongst nations implies that there will always be some who do not have the capacity to produce arms and have to rely on external sources. Nevertheless, the “pursuit of power” requires the nation to delineate its sphere of influence and then assess its arms requirements to maintain that relationship.

War is the engine that propels history. As a motivation factor, it provides the greatest incentive to the nation to be self-sufficient in the arms it needs to be victorious. The pursuit of “victory in war” generates tremendous enthusiasm for innovation, high levels of productivity, better quality control and improvements in the supply chain on a total system basis. As shown by the experiences of the allies in World War II, it was possible to leapfrog interim phases of development and design and build the most advanced arms even though the economic and technological capacity of the nation could not have sustained it in peace time. Technology often gets tremendous boost since technical innovation and high levels of production are an intrinsic requirement of any war machine.

Model Racing Shanghai

Every nation aspiring to be a leader must go through the following four logical levels:
Level 1: At this level, nations possess only the capability to maintain and operate the weapons which are usually sourced out from other leaders.
Level 2: Nations at this level acquire the capability to reproduce the weapons indigenously with a minimum changes. The percentage of imports is still fairly high.
Level 3: Nations possess the capability to adapt the weapons to suit their specific needs and manufacture them indigenously. The level of imports, be it sub-assemblies or raw materials in any form at this level, is near zero.
Level 4: Nations advance further to create brand new weapon systems distinct and innovative which are state-of-the-art involving disruptive technologies. Global leadership as an arms supplier is only established when countries attain this level of expertise. There is no imported content be it design, software or hardware.

The design and construction of a ship especially a warship is a complex feat of engineering. The ship must have an ability to survive in all weather conditions under well-defined limited fire or damage.

In the absence of accountability and an informed public, military planners, bureaucrats and governments often claim much higher levels of expertise and project responsibilities than factually exist. Senior auditors as watchdogs need to review the imported and indigenous costs and schedules when projects are being assessed. Such a review must be all inclusive with all direct and indirect costs from the cradle to the grave. Determining the level of competence that has been attained requires rigorous honest introspection and accurate accounting of all expenditures. In addition a holistic and independent approach to accident investigation helps to reveal intrinsic design deficiencies within the system.

The design and construction of a ship especially a warship is a complex feat of engineering. The ship must have an ability to survive in all weather conditions under well-defined limited fire or damage. A country that claims Level 4 leadership in ship design has also to be self-sufficient at Level 4 in the original design and manufacture of the propulsion & auxiliary machinery, communications, armament, logistics, fire control and sensors which are all so essential and a part of every warship. These assemblies represent nearly eighty percent of the procurement costs. They are the pre-essentials from which a design team has to make choices to meet the mission. Such assemblies should be well past local development to ensure that the designer is not held up for want of data. Often, the local design and manufacture of these assemblies are completely neglected in preference to bought out supplies from other arms suppliers. Until this issue is addressed in depth, it is unlikely that Level 4 leadership will be attainable. In addition, a national naval design electronic met a database on secure high speed dedicated fibre is essential if rapid modular design and construction are to follow. Sadly, despite the easy availability of software talent, such a database has yet to be conceptualized.

Level 4 leadership requires a high degree of innovations which can be promoted by:
Creative Brains
Model Clubs and Competition.
Natural Selection.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) market.
Appropriate Training.

Creative Brains

A good designer uses both hemispheres of his brain. The left hemisphere is the one connected to memory and analysis. The right hemisphere is linked to creativity and the ability to compose, write and draw. Historically, because of our complex social structure, there has been greater emphasis on analytical skills and memory and lesser effort in the development of the right hemisphere of the brain. Most evaluation tests during recruitment are biased towards the left hemisphere. The test for the strength of the creative brain is simple. Take a team of engineers to observe any piece of modern technology for fifteen minutes. On return give each person a black crayon, a sheet of paper on a supporting pad and ask him/her to sketch freehand within fifteen minutes the perspective image of that object. Award one mark for each of the twenty salient features and twenty for image likeness, scale and presentation.

Dell Solar Car Challenge
The spectrum of the scores and the drawings could be surprising. Engineering drawing has been neglected in many technical institutions since the administrators and staff themselves, during their student days, had a perfunctory interest in the subject. To be good innovators, it is of fundamental importance that the development of both brain hemispheres is emphasized. This must be done at an early age starting in schools. Drawing and sketching are essential and integral to innovation. In Confucian cultures, dress and handwriting are both highly valued assets. On weekends, calligraphy competitions are held on public roads near intersections using water, a bucket and a paint brush. Hundreds of onlookers watch patiently. The enthusiasm for that perfection in coordination and memory between hand and mind is amazing and worthy of emulation.

Model Clubs and Competition

Innovation stems from competition and is driven by the younger generation. It often requires a long period of quiet incubation followed by intense refinement that originates through dialog with fellow innovators with similar interests. Because of this, model clubs for green cars, robotics, self-propelled submarines, AUVs, SUVs, air planes, rockets, solar power, maglev power, sailing boats, railways, helicopters and science fairs exist in countries aspiring for a leadership role.

Nature has enabled us to adapt to our surroundings and there are some advantages that can be availed. The Marathon run is dominated by the Kenyans and Ethiopians because they have for centuries enjoyed long distance running at altitudes.

Some of the best innovations originate in model clubs. It is unfortunate that neither the public or educational institutions in India have been able to formulate a strategy for promoting such clubs on a national level. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak writes “Without computer clubs there would probably be no Apple computers”: He was referring to Homebrew Computer Club that was an early computer hobbyist club in Silicon Valley which met from March 1975 to roughly 1977. From the ranks of this club came the founders of many microcomputer companies, including Bob Marsh, George Morrow, Adam Osborne and Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Figs. 9 to 11 show typical meetings of model clubs.

It may be relevant to point out that young amateurs have already shown that miniature robotic autonomous vehicles both on land, air, water and space can be successfully designed and used singly or even in swarms to revolutionize conventional warfare at a fraction of existing costs and manpower. This powerful disruptive trend presently in its infancy will only get stronger with time.

Natural Selection

Nature has enabled us to adapt to our surroundings and there are some advantages that can be availed. The Marathon run is dominated by the Kenyans and Ethiopians because they have for centuries enjoyed long distance running at altitudes. Similarly, the Incas like the Nepalese have 20 percent more blood than a lowlander and have a higher percent, by weight, of haemoglobin which absorbs oxygen. It is but natural that they would have better endurance at higher altitudes than those from the plains. The records for Everest demonstrate this irrefutable fact.

Man Submarine Canada

The Mohawk and Ojibwa natives of Eastern America through evolution are extremely comfortable at heights without a safety belt. They are the best and fastest steel erectors in the world. (See Fig. 12). Nearly all the sky scrapers in New York were built by them.

Similarly, sea faring people have over the years had a love affair with the sea. The people of the great littoral states are usually fervid about recreational sailing, wind surfing, swimming, and recreational diving. They also jealously guard the sea against man made pollution. They number in the hundreds of thousands but some take it to the next level and become professional sailors. The neuro plasticity of the brains of our own coastal sea faring people have with time also evolved to cope with the vagaries of the sea. This talent pool with salt water in their veins remains largely untapped by our military since no value has been placed on that skill set. Encouraged by a formal education, they may prove to be formidable innovators or Admirals, worthy successors to the legendary Kanoji Angre of Alibag Kunjali Marrakar of Calicut and the great Parsee ship builder L.N Wadia.

Do-It-Yourself Enthusiasts

Historically, mechanics and artisans have been poorly valued in our society. Because of this, a large number of professional graduates have limited interest in undertaking any repairs of the many domestic and personal gadgets that we see in every home. The results of a Do It Yourself (DIY) survey will show that many engineer claimants do not have the enthusiasm or skill set to undertake the repairs of their everyday machines. The DIY movement in India has yet to gain traction. Countries that have attained Level 4 status show large number of DIY enthusiasts who enjoy building and repair of their homes, their cars, boats, planes and every electronic home gadget. Fig. 13 shows a typical home workshop. The training and confidence that a DIY job provides is incredible. It is suggested that universities and the armed forces should hold seminars and organize tool rental outlets to promote the DIY movement so essential if we are to further innovation.

Appropriate Training

Germany has always been synonymous with engineering. They now produce 20 percent of the entire global high end machine manufactured goods. German engineers have a reputation for having more practical background than their counterparts in any other country.

As shown by the experiences of the allies in World War II, it was possible to leapfrog interim phases of development and design and build the most advanced arms…

Apprenticeship plays a decisive role in discovering new talent for German companies. The relative lack of practical engineering technology curricula in India stands in bleak contrast to the many and varied technical universities in Germany and their close collaboration with industry. In Germany, hands-on internships at companies span the engineering student’s senior year. Contrast that with what we face. In the Naval Yards, department heads are required to hold a Masters degree whilst many thousands of their subordinate staff have not attained even a high school diploma. The education pyramid both in the Yards and Design Offices remains badly skewed despite the urgency for firm remedial action.

German universities have an outstanding reputation and a long history of close ties to industry. Cooperation between business and education starts young. Companies frequently extend apprenticeships and internships even to high-school students. So young engineering grads and technicians have the opportunity to start careers with an intimate knowledge of their company’s business. Companies benefit because they are effective at developing employees who are productive the day they are hired. There is no guarantee of employment once the apprenticeship has run its course. Yet it is easy to find high-ranking officials in German manufacturer who began their career with the company as apprentices in high school.

Most German manufacturers figure it takes no less than five years to both master a position and prepare a replacement before transitioning to the next step on the career ladder. There are actually two kinds of colleges in Germany that award engineering degrees. The first are called Technical Universities (more emphasis on theory). It takes about five or six years to complete a degree at a Technical University. Graduates typically end up doing R&D or eventually land up in corporate management and education.

The current career pattern within the service does not accommodate long tenures or independent thought and action which is very essential if one is to be a great innovative designer. The Navy has preferred patriarchal management structures…

The second type is called Fachhochschulen (emphasis on applied technology). They tend to be more practical and deal directly with industrial technologies. Graduates complete their education in four to five years. There are also automation technology institutes which are a little like trade schools. There are quite a number of all three institutions throughout the country. There is also a third route to an engineering degree through practical experience and certification. Germany is a country where even a baker needs a three-year apprenticeship to be eligible for employment. The process of earning an engineering degree without formal classroom time is extremely rigorous.

No country can attain Level 4 leadership until its industrial work force, which includes designers, has a very balanced education pyramid. In the absence of a structured and ordered education pyramid, it is impossible to achieve a national standard of reliability or productivity in the workforce.


Innovative design involves creativity. It is not a nine to five job that can be started and finished on tap. Searching for a solution often requires long valuations that stretch for days and nights. Though designers are not motivated exclusively by money it must be ensured that they are genuinely free of financial problems. In particular, the three main factors that affect their motivation and performance of such designers are autonomy, mastery and purpose.

People are more creative when given autonomy on the nature of work to be performed. People perform better at their jobs when they can get into a “flow” and are able to concentrate on their job for a long period of time. Finally, they must feel a sense of purpose while doing their job. Being an innovative arms designer requires one to think outside the box. That freedom is essential and needs to be nurtured by seniors and bosses.

Developing an organizational structure that can identify and promote such creativity is an essential step in the reach for self-sufficiency in design. The current career pattern within the service does not accommodate long tenures or independent thought and action which is very essential if one is to be a great innovative designer. The Navy has preferred patriarchal management structures with time-based promotions.

Nations can attain complete self-reliance in arms technology within a span of fifty years. However, to do so they must have clearly defined motivation and dedicated resources.

It is but natural that this can only encourage tried and tested engineering methodology. Until this issue is addressed, it is unlikely that such engineers will choose to be creative designers. They will restrict themselves to speedier run-of-the-mill functional design using proven methods and geometrical similarity that carries a minimum of risks and requires little or no innovation.


A Level 4 leadership in naval arms also requires that four very stringent pre-requisites are met. The first condition is that there must be sophisticated and very demanding customers who demand innovation from their suppliers. The second is that there must be rival companies to provide intense competition. This forces companies to constantly upgrade their products improve productivity and reduce costs. Implicit in this statement is the need for employees to update their skill sets on a continuous basis. The third condition requires that the sector enjoy the correct input conditions. This translates to access to required natural resources, adequate power, world class infrastructure, universal literacy, a skilled work force and university research facilities. The fourth factor exists when the upgrading of the sector products is supported by companies in other sectors with identical goals. When these four factors are identified, they usually produce a chain reaction that creates an economic transformation with a host of disruptive innovations. The United States of America has been extremely successful doing just that and that is the principal reason why young talent seeks a landing there.


Nations can attain complete self-reliance in arms technology within a span of fifty years. However, to do so they must have clearly defined motivation and dedicated resources. Thereafter, they must successfully go through the three junior levels of expertise before they can establish a Level 4 expertise. There are a number of identified aids that can accelerate and promote innovative design. Planners would do well to examine if this submission is relevant to their own areas of expertise. Innovation can be accelerated by the introduction of a number of features referred to above. If so, the nation’s planners, services, universities and above all, the society need to address such issues in a holistic manner if they truly desire to attain world class leadership in arms.

The Naga Armed Conflict: Is a Resolution Finally Here?


November 8, 2012

It appears that a resolution to the decades-old Naga conflict is not far off if one takes into consideration the statements of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim led by Isak Chisi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah—NSCN (IM)—in recent months. In October, this armed group organized a people’s consultative meeting at its headquarters, Camp Hebron, which was attended by top-ranking leaders as well as by members of Naga civil society. After this meeting, the group issued a statement to the effect that almost all present at the meeting backed the leadership’s efforts to find an honourable solution through the ongoing peace negotiations with the Indian government.

On the Indian government’s side, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was even more categorical; he has hinted that a solution is most likely by March 2013. The other significant development in this regard is the commitment reiterated by the representatives of the Joint Legislators’ Forum of the Nagaland Assembly led by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio that they support an ‘interim solution’ and are ready to resign from their present positions in order to facilitate a final resolution to the Naga conflict by March 2013.

What could count as a feasible resolution package in this context? For one, it should not threaten the present territorial boundaries of the states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. As is well known, the NSCN (IM)’s Greater Nagalim demand is based on the territorial unification of all Naga inhabited areas in Nagaland, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. These include: Manipur’s four hill districts of Churachandpur, Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul; Assam’s Dima Hasau and Karbi Anglong districts; and Arunachal Pradesh’s Tirap and Changlang districts. Hence, any resolution based on territorial changes will not be acceptable to these states as was demonstrated by the violent protests in Manipur in 2001.

However, what will work is a non-territorial resolution and this is what the Union Home Minister appears to be hinting at. That would mean greater autonomy for the Naga inhabited areas in these other states. This would encompass separate budget allocations for the Naga inhabited areas with regard to their culture and development issues. For it to be practically feasible, a new body should be constituted that would look after the rights of the Nagas in the other northeastern states besides Nagaland.

This is a resolution framework that is worth considering by the other states, especially Manipur as it would enable it to maintain its territorial status quo while only giving up developmental privileges in its Naga inhabited areas to a new Naga non-territorial body. This arrangement should serve Manipur well as, under the present circumstances, the ethnic divide and distrust between the Meiteis and the Nagas is so immense that most Nagas residing in Manipur believe that they are discriminated against when it comes to development packages by the Meitei dominated Manipur state assembly. It would also mean that Manipur can then concentrate on the development of its other ethnic minorities and not have to constantly worry about Naga dis-satisfaction.

A non-territorial resolution framework also favours the Nagas as their other core demands such as recognition of their “unique history” and culture, Naga leverage over deciding the development path for the Naga inhabited areas in the Northeast, etc. will all be met through greater autonomy based on a non-territorial resolution package. This is an optimal gain for all affected parties under the present circumstances. For the India government too, it would result in recognizing the Naga’s “unique” history and culture within the territorial integrity and sovereignty framework of the Indian Constitution.

The fact that such a non-territorial resolution package is gaining popularity in Nagaland can be discerned from the fact that Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio along with all 60 Nagaland State Assembly Members including the MLAs of the Opposition parties is in support of such a framework. Being politicians, none of these MLAs would have so openly supported such a framework had there been no support for it in Naga society. It also means that a resolution to the Naga conflict would increase their chances of winning in the Nagaland state assembly election scheduled for March 2013. This is indeed a positive sign and an opportune moment.

The next round of talks scheduled for mid-November 2012 between the NSCN (IM) and the Union government is therefore critical. Muivah and Swu have visibly consulted almost all significant Naga civil society actors like the Naga Hoho and the United Naga Council. The only other tricky issue that needs to be grappled with is factionalism among Naga militant groups, especially the violent differences between the NSCN (IM) and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland led by S.S. Khaplang. There were recent demands from districts like Mon, Tuensang, Longleng and Kiphire inhabited by Naga tribes like the Konyaks, Changs, Sangtams, Yumchungers, Khianmungans, etc. (nearly 500,000 people) in Nagaland for a separate “frontier Nagaland or Eastern Nagaland” under the aegis of the Eastern Nagaland Public Organization (ENPO). To be noted is the fact that these districts are also dominated by the rival NSCN (K) faction. Both rival factions continue to violently clash especially in two districts of Arunachal Pradesh—Tirap and Changlang. Hence, while a resolution package between the NSCN (IM) and the Indian government will resolve the decades-old animosities between the Nagas and Meiteis especially if the ethos of the resolution is non-territorial, a final resolution package must have the consent of the NSCN (K) as well. Only then will the Naga inhabited areas in Northeast India witness real peace after decades of violence.

Nevertheless, a non-territorial resolution for one of the oldest armed ethnic conflicts in the Northeast will offer a way forward to resolving many other ethnic conflicts such as those involving the Kukis, Meiteis, Bodos, Dimasas, Hmars, and Karbis. The recent Bodo violence in Assam against immigrant minority communities only broadcasted the dangers of an ethnically slanted territorial council which failed to safeguard the physical security of minorities in Bodo inhabited areas. In that light, a non-territorial resolution framework is perhaps the only feasible outcome to the multiple ethnically slanted conflicts in Northeast India.

Dr. Namrata Goswami is Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, and a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this article are solely that of the author.

Do we need the Indian Army?

Issue Net Edition | Date : 08 Nov , 2012

Pandit Nehru believed that the Indian Army was quite unnecessary, in fact dangerous, because generals seized power. Having struggled to gain power, even accepting partition of the Country in the process, the politicians were not going to lose it to some ambitious General! Also, we believed in Ahimsa and Panchsheel.

Since our neighbours had different philosophies, India suffered on account of this attitude.

That the Armed Forces are an important instrument of the State to be used in the best interests of a Nation was not the belief of Indian politicians nor the compliant bureaucrats.

India had an Army because we inherited it from the British not because we needed it. Since it was there it was made as toothless as possible. That the Armed Forces are an important instrument of the State to be used in the best interests of a Nation was not the belief of Indian politicians nor the compliant bureaucrats. This was due to both fear and ignorance.

The situation now is the opposite. Having created this huge organisation, after the Sino Indian Conflict, spending thousands of crores of precious public money every year no one knows how to make the best use of it. A few examples are necessary to illustrate.

It is well understood, even in India, that War is a continuation of the Policy (of the State) by other means. No one in his right senses would recommend War, till the ‘other means’ are fully exhausted.

If so, what are the issues which can lead to War? External threats come from external powers. The MEA handles International Relations till they can. Only when the situations go beyond them, are the Armed Forces called in for acting in the best interests of the Nation.

The MEA handles International Relations till they can. Only when the situations go beyond them, are the Armed Forces called in for acting in the best interests of the Nation.

If this be the modus operandi, closer interaction of the MEA and the Armed Forces would be in the best interest of the Nation. Though a few military officers do serve in our foreign missions, the Nation would gain by better integration of different services. Not only can the MEA be better aware of military capabilities, the MEA can utilise service officers to meet its shortage of diplomats. For this officers of the Armed Forces themselves must be better aware of International Relations, even pursue formal studies in Universities and receive any training the MEA may like to impart.

Next and more frequent utilisation of the Armed Forces is to combat the ever increasing Internal Threat. It is common knowledge that insurrections break out against self-serving and corrupt governance and callous administration. The Army is called in to restore normalcy so that the same or similar corrupt Governments continue to govern. In doing so, the Army is often blamed for excesses. No one is interested in why the people were agitated in the first place or whether they are happy later. The governments are happy since the Army draws the flak, while they continue to (mis)rule. The ‘Intellectuals’ or the Academia living in the metros have only a hazy idea of the state of affairs, making ocassional trips to the capitals of the disturbed regions once in a while, pick up ‘grapevine’, to appear knowledgable. The Army, having first hand knowledge of the problems, produces no such ‘intellectuals’. Generals talk only of military affairs.

If the Army is to be involved so often to restore normalcy, it time to learn something about Governance. This was discouraged by the British. Their method of restoring normalcy was as seen at Jallianwala Bagh. Do Indians realise things have changed over 65 years? It is time for Army officers to learn the basics of Governance and administration and keep collecting their own Intelligence all the time.

It is time for Army officers to learn the basics of Governance and administration and keep collecting their own Intelligence all the time.

The Wars of 1947- 48, 1965, and Kargil Operations were thrust upon us, hence we had no options. But the 1962 and 1971 wars, our misadventure in Srilanka, and our numerous internal conflicts till date, should teach us many lessons.

The Sino Indian War was totally due our blunders by the MEA, and by the IB and to a lesser extent, incompetance of a few Army Generals. The Indian Public was never informed of the true picture.

Zhou En lai was the PM cum foreign minister of PRC. A Conference was organised at Geneva on 08 May 54 to decide the future of Indo China. At the conference Zhou En lai emerged as the most clever and skillful diplomat who acted in the best interests of China. the Vietminh had defeated the French. Yet at the Conference Zhou worked out a deal with France to divide Vietnam at the 17th Parallel, let France rule South Vietnam to the exclusion of USA. Ho Chi Minh didn’t cry about a Chinese ‘Betrayal’. He gathered his forces to defeat yet another power and unified his Nation. Did we learn any lessons?

Mr Nehru trusted the Chinese blindly thanks to poor Intelligence, even ignoring a written warning by Sardar Patel, the Dy PM, and resignation of General Thimayya.

In the Parliament India made much of Aksai Chin. What did we do when Aksai Chin was with us after 1947? Did any Indian even visit Aksai Chin? Or even fly over it to get an aerial view? We learned about the Chinese road years after its construction. Due to the Great Himalayan Range we find it difficult to maintain the people of Ladakh and Kargil. What would be our capability to maintain forces and civilians across the Karakoram Ranges in Aksai Chin? Who has calculated that? MEA or MHA? Has anyone analysed our requirement of Armed Forces to guard Aksai Chin? Is this kept in mind when our diplomats discuss the Border Dispute with China?

The War was a result of blunders by the MEA whose inputs were provided by the IB and directions of the PM, ignoring sane advice of the Army.

As part of Indian disinformation campaign, the Chinese are blamed for ‘aggression’ and ‘betrayal’ in 1962. This is utter rubbish as per all reports of the period; we don’t have to read the report of Henderson Brooks. The War was a result of blunders by the MEA whose inputs were provided by the IB and directions of the PM, ignoring sane advice of the Army.

Even now there is no hype of a ‘Chinese victory in 1962’ as we celebrate our victories of 1971 and others. In fact before the 62 Conflict, it was China which frequently called for talks that Mr Nehru rejected every time. The last such rejection was on 14 November 1962. What other option did China have but to teach the aggressive Indians a lesson? 50 years later do we have the moral courage to publish the truth?

If China wanted war with India, it has had many opportunities in the past. In 1962 itself China called for unilateral ceasefire and withdrew. China has shown no hostile activity in any Indo Pak War. In 1999 they did not support Pakistan’s aggression in Kargil. Economic rivalry, desire for access to the Indian Ocean and desire to dominate areas in the South China Sea cannot be seen as aggression on India.

It is NOT suggested that we give up our National interests to please China as we did in the 50s. We must understand Chinese actions in support of their own National interests and policies. Aggressive policies based on preconceived ideas and deliberate disinformation can be disastrous for the Nation, once again

…it is time to either utilise the Armed Forces optimally or do away with them to save precious resources for development of the Nation.

On the other hand Pakistan will continue its hostility against India and fish in troubled waters. It is their cheapest option. Therefore improvement of Governance in all parts of India is essential to defeat Pakistan’s designs. Since this will remain a utopian dream, the Army will have to be prepared to fight terrorism and insurgencies to support the misrule in various States. It would be in National interest if MHA consults the Army before taking major decisions such as location of NSG all over the Country and react to mass SMSs (Info War), but the MHA has many advisors to prevent this.

In other words it is time to either utilise the Armed Forces optimally or do away with them to save precious resources for development of the Nation. For the Generals, it is essential to change with time and to learn to contribute meaningfully both in External Affairs and Internal Development cum Governance. Foundation for this must be laid at the IMA.

The Judge, the General, and Pakistan’s Evolving Balance of Power

November 09, 2012

By Arif Rafiq 

In various ways, in both public and private, Pakistan’s elites are delineating the distribution of power.

The tenuous nature of Pakistan’s democratic transition was put on display this Monday when the country’s army chief and Supreme Court chief justice appeared to warn one another to not transgress their constitutionally-defined roles.

Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani decried what he claimed were attempts to create divisions between the Pakistani military and its people. And he said that no individual or institution has a monopoly on deciding what is in Pakistan’s national interest. Later that day, the Supreme Court released the text of a speech given by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in which he declared that the days of a military-dominated conception of national security are over.

An overt clash between the army and the Supreme Court is unlikely. Kayani is extremely cautious and has behaved with more restraint than his predecessors, who were far more intrusive in the political process. And though Chaudhry heads the most activist court in Pakistan’s history, he has been markedly less confrontational with the military since coming back into office in 2009, as compared to years before.

What we are witnessing is an indelicate — and, at times, unwieldy — process in which Pakistan’s elites are delineating the distribution of power and the rules of the game. This process is taking fold in multiple fora, both public and private, formal and informal, in parliamentary committees and via the television airwaves.

Kayani is seeking to establish red lines for the activist Supreme Court, which flexed its muscles this year when it disqualified a sitting prime minister from office. In multiple addresses this year, Kayani has warned of a clash of institutions, alluding to the conflict between the executive and the judiciary. Now, the army chief is concerned about whether the high court is setting its sights on the military. The Supreme Court ordered an investigation into whether former Chief of Army Staff. Gen. Aslam Beg and former Inter-Services Intelligence Director-General Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani manipulated elections in the early 1990s.

Kayani fears that the prosecution of retired senior army officers could dent the institution’s morale as it fights multiple insurgencies and seeks to rehabilitate its image in the year since the bin Laden raid. During Kayani’s five years in office, the army chief has assiduously worked to restore public confidence in the army which had eroded after years of military rule and an unpopular alliance with the United States.

Kayani also seeks to preserve the army’s institutional autonomy and self-accorded privileges, including its vast economic holdings. The army opposes being held accountable by civilian forces. In September, the military announced that it would take over investigations of retired army officers in a million dollar corruption scandal that were being conducted by the civilian National Accountability Bureau.

The army has historically seen itself as the guardian of Pakistan’s stability and as a cleansing force in politics. The Supreme Court has in many ways usurped that role, for example, by holding politicians accountable for corruption and pressing the military to present secretly detained prisoners. Despite Kayani having given almost unprecedented space for the political process to operate, he is still the product of a military ingrained with a caste-like group identity and sense of responsibility and privileges. Its corporate culture will need to evolve with the power shift in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s balance of power has been significantly altered in the past five years. During the 1990s, Pakistan was dominated by its two largest political parties — the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan Peoples Party — and the military-intelligence establishment, which generally had a pliant president in place. In 2007, two new forces entered onto the scene: an activist Supreme Court and a vigilant private media, including scores of television news channels. Together with civil society activists, they paved the way for the restoration of Chaudhry to the Supreme Court (he was deposed by military ruler President Pervez Musharraf twice in 2007), and for the eventual downfall of the once invincible Musharraf.

Following the 2008 elections, Pakistan’s parliament has been more proactive than ever. Bipartisan parliamentary committees have worked to produce three landmark constitutional amendments that have advanced political reform. The Parliamentary Committee on National Security produced a consensus-based roadmap on how to restore ties with the United States in the wake of last year’s deadly U.S. attack on a Pakistani military base. And with a hung parliament, smaller political parties have a disproportionate say in the political process given that they are essential coalition partners. The military no longer has its own man in the presidency.

Despite the apparent acrimony between Pakistan’s various power brokers, all seem to be cognizant of the changes that have taken place. In their addresses on Monday, both Kayani and Chaudhry called for a redefinition of the concept of national security and said that no single institution can dominate this process. This overlap was noted by opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who has had a tense relationship with the military over the past twenty years and has allied himself with Chaudhry in recent years. The prime minister-led Defense Cabinet Committee, which acts like a national security council, and a number of parliamentary foreign policy, defense, and national security committees have played a more visible role in discussing and shaping national security policy.

Pakistan is possibly experiencing the end of military hegemony and the beginning of an era of consensus. But for these changes to crystilize, the country’s power brokers must purge themselves of hegemonic tendencies and a pathology of saviorhood. The army will have to concede that military officers can be as corrupt as civilian politicians. It will have to prepare itself for a time in which parliament will review its budget in detail. The Supreme Court will eventually have to temper its use of suo moto power and, for example refrain from determining the prices of compressed natural gas and sugar. And civilian politicians will have to recognize that corruption is bleeding an almost bankrupt Pakistan and empower an independent and competent accountability force.

In 2013, Pakistan’s power shift will be on even more tenuous ground as it could have a new prime minister, president, army chief, and Supreme Court chief justice. All of their tenures will come to an end next year. And a potentially new cast of characters will have to earn the trust of one another and evolve formal and informal mechanisms of collaboration. Working through consensus and making compromises are key. Pakistan’s power brokers acknowledge this, but next year, it will become more clear whether they really mean it.

Arif Rafiq is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and president of Vizier Consulting, LLC. He tweets at: @arifcrafiq.

Talking their way out of war

 Jorge Heine

A breakthrough in the recently launched talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels raises hopes of an orderly transition to stability

The recently launched peace talks in Oslo between the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government are the fourth such attempt in 30 years. Will they bear fruit this time around? If so, why?

Much is at stake. This is the longest standing armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere. The FARC were founded in 1966 as part of the wave of guerrilla movements that spawned in the wake of the Cuban Revolution. Though many of their counterparts in the rest of Latin America were defeated, some were not. The Sandinistas brought down the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, and one of their leaders, Daniel Ortega, is now President. The Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) in El Salvador, after quitting the armed struggle and morphing into a political party, elected their candidate, Mauricio Funes, to the presidency in 2009. Elsewhere, former urban guerrilla leaders who spearheaded the fight against military rule in the Southern Cone (and spent time in prison for it), like Presidents Jose (“Pepe”) Mujica in Uruguay and Dilma Roussef in Brazil, serve now as elected heads of state.

Yet, a military defeat of the Colombian state by FARC, or the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN), the other guerrilla group active in Colombia (and one not taking part in these talks), was never on the cards. With a population of 45 million and a land mass of over one million square kilometres, Colombia is much too big a country to fall prey to a band of armed insurgents that has never been larger than some 20,000 to 30,000 men and women (though, amazingly, they managed to control as much as a third of the national territory at one point in time). The question, rather, is how they have managed to survive for so long.
Geographical factors

One reason is the fragmented and rough nature of the extensive and extreme Colombian geography, marked by the high Andes mountains (the second highest in the world, after the Himalayas) and enormous rivers like the Magdalena. Vast swathes of land, some of seemingly impenetrable jungle, have never been under the effective authority of the Colombian state. This leaves ample space for insurgent groups to ply their trade, in provinces like Putumayo, Narino and Caqueta in the South, but also in the rest of rural Colombia. On the other hand, the drug trade has allowed FARC to access ample financial resources (hence the term “narco-guerrillas”). This is supplemented by kidnappings, extortions and other such unsavoury activities, though the latter have been drastically reduced under relentless assault by the Colombian military. Reported kidnappings have dwindled from 3,572 in 2000 to 305 in 2011. The murder rate is at a low of 32 per 100,000 (in Honduras, it is at 82 per 100,000 and in El Salvador it is at 66 per 100,000; the average worldwide rate is 8 per 100,000). Still, according to some estimates, the FARC, described by BBC as “the world’s richest rebel movement”, have already stashed away so much money that they could go on for a long time, making do just with the interest on it.

If so, why this renewed attempt at making peace?

As a recent report of the International Crisis Group (“Colombia: Peace at Last?”) concludes, a stalemate obtains. Thanks to the considerable build-up of the Colombian military (whose numbers have gone up from 132,000 in 2002 to 283,000 in 2010, with the police reaching 132,000) and the U.S.-supported Plan Colombia, which has provided about 7 billion dollars in military hardware and training programmes over the past decade, and their sweeping, nationwide actions, the FARC are on the defensive. Many of their leaders, from Manuel (“Tiro Fijo”) Marulanda, to Raul Reyes, el “Mono Jojoy” and Alfonso Cano, have fallen in the battlefield. Vast numbers of guerrillas have been killed, captured or otherwise demobilised. No more than 8,000 to 9000 FARC members are estimated to be in the field, down from 16,000 in 2001.

For President Juan Manuel Santos, bringing peace would be quite a feather in his cap. A former Defence Minister during the presidency of Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), in his short two years in office, he has shown his mettle (and made the cover of TIME Magazine). Aware that more inclusive social policies are needed to redress Colombia’s abysmal inequality, he has moved in that direction on a variety of fronts. This includes legislation to provide compensation to over 4 million victims of violence. With a 0.55 Gini coefficient, Colombia has one of the most unequal income distributions in the world’s most unequal region (in India, the Gini, as measured in 2004, is 0.36 —probably higher today — in Norway, the least unequal society, 0.25 ). Colombia’s current economic boom, driven by massive foreign investment in mining and oil exploration projects in lands long considered off-limits because of the armed conflict, would acquire an additional impetus from a successful peace process. In fact, the Colombian economy is doing so well that the country is being considered for OECD membership (the “rich countries’ club”).
A detractor

Although 74 per cent of Colombians support the peace process, former President Uribe does not. After falling out with Mr. Santos, he spends much of his time attacking him, often on Twitter, of which he is an avid user ( Twitter has taken off among Colombian politicians; another avid user is Gustavo Petro, the mayor of Bogota, and a former guerrilla himself, sometimes accused of spending more time tweeting than on running the capital city). Mr. Uribe, whose government was blamed for harbouring the paramilitary squads that have taken justice into their own hands in Colombia, leading to many human rights violations, does not consider FARC a legitimate interlocutor but a criminal organisation. He believes peace negotiations only give them time to regroup and get ready to fight another day.

Yet, as opposed to what happened in the past, this time there is no ceasefire on either side. In the early 2000s, under President Andres Pastrana, FARC secured a large sanctuary in Southern Colombia as part of the conditions for a previous peace negotiation. They used it for enhanced training and smuggling operations. On this occasion, the relentless military offensive of the government continues, and the FARC understand that these are the new rules of the game.

What role does the international community play in all this?

Although the negotiating parties are all Colombians, foreign countries are very much involved. Norway, an impartial and honest power-broker with no axe to grind in a far-away country, is hosting the first phase of these talks, and is one of its guarantors. Another is Venezuela, where the government of President Hugo Chavez has had an off-and-on relationship with FARC. A third is Cuba, where the talks will move to for the second phase. Havana is the only Latin American capital where FARC leaders feel safe, and the Castro brothers have been advising them for a long time to give up the armed struggle. Chile, as chair of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and whose President, Sebastian Pinera, is a friend of Mr. Santos, is also part of the process.
Santos’ statecraft

It is a measure of Mr. Santos’ statecraft that he has not only repaired the frayed state of Colombia’s relations with Venezuela — left to him in a shambles after years of bickering over many issues, from border disputes to how to deal with FARC — but also with Cuba. In fact, Mr. Santos owes Cuba big time. The Sixth Summit of the Americas, held last April in the Colombian port city of Cartagena, almost blew up in the host country’s face. A number of countries questioned the absence of Cuba at the summit, and threatened to boycott the meeting. It was only after a visit by Mr. Santos to Havana and a hurried back-and-forth with Fidel and Raul Castro, that the Cuban government expressed it had no objection to not being invited to Cartagena, thus saving the meeting.

The conditions for a breakthrough in these peace negotiations are there. The ambitious agenda includes integrated agrarian development, political participation; termination of the conflict; solution to the problem of illegal drugs and preparation for lasting peace. The current Colombian government has the standing to offer credible guarantees to the FARC leadership. It must be kept in mind that in the 1980s, when another generation of guerrilla leaders, the M-19, gave up their weapons to form a political party, the Union Patriotica, and ran for office, several thousands of them, including their presidential candidate, and many elected Congressmen, were shot and killed by paramilitaries. In turn, despite the high turnover in their top leadership, FARC retain a significant degree of control of their membership and operations, making them a partner the government can do business with. An orderly transition to peace would be in everybody’s best interests, especially the Colombian population, exhausted after half a century of “la violencia”.

(Jorge Heine is CIGI Professor of Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, in Waterloo, Ontario. His Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy, co-edited with A. Cooper and R. Thakur, is forthcoming in 2013 from Oxford University Press.)

Thanks Climate Change: Sea-Level Rise Could End South China Sea Spat

 November 08, 2012

By Wilson VornDick 

Overlapping claims to islands and reefs in the South China Sea have increased tensions. They may all soon be rendered obsolete.

With unproven oil reserves in the range of 28 to 213 billion barrels, massive mineral deposits in the seabed, and millions of tons of potential fisheries; claims over the contentious 1.3-million-square-mile area of the South China Seas (SCS) have become an increasing focal point for the global community. Currently, seven ASEAN member nations are jockeying against one another for control of this area. In the past, this has led to overt conflict between China and Vietnam in the 1970s, and more recently to displays of force. Yet, most of the atolls, banks and islands that make up the SCS are merely a few inches or feet above sea level at high tide. Often times, they flood over during typhoon season and have to be evacuated. With environmental predictions of sea-level rise on the order of 3 to 6 feet during the remainder of the 21st century, what would happen if the “dry” areas of the SCS became submerged?

Sea-Level Rise

One of the world’s leading monitors of sea level rise and climate change, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in 2007 forecasted a 2.0 to 11.5°F increase in global temperatures that will result in 3 to 6 feet of sea level rise by the end of this century. Yet, one of the biggest misconceptions about sea-level rise is that it is caused directly by glacial melt around the North and South Poles. On the contrary, as global temperatures increase, the oceans become warmer and thus expand. Nearly 57% of current sea level rise is actually attributed to this phenomenon; the remainder is from ice-berg, glacial and polar icecap melt. In the last few years, China has become particularly aware of the implications of sea level rise and has been studying its affects, in addition to its regular monitoring of its surrounding waters.

Indeed, Chinese satellites outfitted with advanced altimeter as well as multiple ocean observation stations along the SCS have been monitoring currents, depths, and temperature changes in the contested water for decades. Many of these observations are beginning to be tied with sea level rise and are filling the media and scientific journals, such as Journal of Tropical Oceanography (热带海洋学报) and Journal of Ocean University of China (中国海洋大学学报), with increasing frequency. The overwhelming conclusion is that the water temperature has been increasing and so have the water levels. For example, Hong Kong’s government, which has been tracking the mean sea level in Victoria Harbor since 1954, found that sea level has risen 2.8 mm per year. Hong Kong’s findings also coincide with IPCC sea-level rise predictions. This may appear to be a relatively minor amount at first. But taking into account the extreme tides and currents in Hong Kong; the area could experience swells of up to 10 feet. Regrettably, no other municipality in the area has kept as comprehensive records as Hong Kong.

The Claimants and the Limits of UNCLOS

The current SCS claimants are backed by a myriad of border treaties and historical claims that stretch back at least the past millennia. However; since 1982, the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has emerged as the most important and recent forum to resolve or counter these claims. For its part, China signed onto UNCLOS in 1994 and recently defended its claims in the SCS as “indisputable sovereignty” over the area. As a background, UNCLOS’s boundaries are based solely on land that is “above” sea-level on a 24-hour basis. A baseline is commonly referred to as coterminous with a low water mark running along the coast. From these “dry” baseline boundaries, exclusive economic zones (EEZ) are allowed to extend for up to 200 nautical miles (roughly 230 miles). Features, such as reefs, are generally limited to just territorial sea area (up to 12 nautical miles or roughly 14 miles). Islands, on the other hand, are generally defined as having fresh water and, as such, are entitled to territorial sea, plus the rights of the EEZ.

But what makes the SCS territorial dispute so difficult is that many of these competing zones and claims overlap one-another precisely because of the separate island claims that speckle the SCS. While Part XV of the convention does provide legal mechanisms for the arbitration of disputes as they arise, there is nothing laying out exactly how to proceed if these islands were to become partially or permanently flooded-over. All current developments aside, after decades of contention, the territorial rights of the SCS are no closer to being resolved. It could be a few more decades before the claims are resolved and by then the area may be completely submerged. One would think that the treaty’s signatories would have included provisions to address this eventuality. Yet, they did not.

Drowning Claims

With imminent sea-level rise on the horizon, the low-lying islands of the SCS will likely disappear; thus jeopardizing the framework of this pivotal convention, while scuttling the various claims. For the Chinese, a tremendous amount of EEZ-based territory would be potentially lost as underscored by their infamous nine-dash line that dips deep into the SCS. In the background of rising sea level, it would behoove China to consolidate and legitimize its claims soon, either through diplomatic means or force, rather than later. This would likewise be true for the other claimants.

There are various alternate solutions for China and the other claimants to follow. One simple and probable solution would be to continue to build-up and structurally reinforce their present claims in the Spratly or Paracel Islands against rising waters. This scenario would basically keep the status quo. Yet, this may not be attainable in the short term given the recent events in the SCS and East China Sea.

Alternatively, if the claimants were completely flooded out and each used their territorial baselines, the simplicity of the 200-mile EEZ baselines might make the situation more distinct on the maps and easier for the international community to arbitrate. Though this might not necessarily make the territorial claims that much more palatable or acceptable to any of the parties involved, including China. Unfortunately the Bangkok Climate Change Conference at the end of August did not offer the claimants an opportunity to address any of these possibilities in regards to UNCLOS. In the end, as the scenario in the SCS continues to play out, it may augur well for other sea level vulnerable littoral and island nations, as well as anticipating the burgeoning claims in the Arctic.

Wilson VornDick is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy where he is assigned to the Pentagon. Previously he worked at the Chinese Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College. This piece reflects the author’s opinions, not the official assessments of the U.S. Navy or any other Government entity.