13 January 2013

China-wary Army for mountain strike corps

Jan 13, 2013

NEW DELHI: The Army has come up with a fresh proposal for the new mountain strike corps, apart from two "independent" infantry brigades and two "independent" armoured brigades, to plug operational gaps along the LAC (line of actual control) as well as to acquire "some offensive capabilities" against China. 

The raising of the new formations will cost around Rs 81,000 crore, spread primarily over the 12th Plan period (2012-17), with a little spillover into the 13th Plan if necessary, say sources. 

"The approved 12th Army Plan, as part of the LTIPP (long-term integrated perspective plan), already ca-ters Rs 62,000 crore for the corps. The Army is now asking for another Rs 19,000 crore," said a source. 

With additional armoured regiments and infantry units based in Ladakh, Sikkim and Uttarakhand, the new mountain corps (around 40,000 soldiers) will for the first time give India the capability to also launch a counter-offensive into TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) in the event of a Chinese attack, say sources. 

As with the development of the over 5,000-km Agni-V and 3,500-km Agni-IV ballistic missiles — coupled with the ongoing progressive deployment of Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, spy drones, helicopters and missile squadrons in the northeast — the overall aim is to have "strategic deterrence" in place to dissuade China from embarking on any "misadventure". 

The proposal for the new corps — recently approved by the CoSC (chiefs of staff committee) comprising the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs — will of course have to be get the final nod from the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) after requisite wetting by the defence and finance ministries for it to be implemented. The plan to raise a new mountain corps, headquartered at Panagarh in West Bengal, is not new. Last year, the government had referred it to the CoSC for a rethink and fine-tuning, which has now been completed. 

As part of the overall plan for "major force accretion" along the "northern borders" with China, two new infantry divisions (35,000 soldiers and 1,260 officers), have already been raised at Lekhapani and Missamari in Assam in 2009-10. Their operational tasking is the defence of Arunachal Pradesh, which China often claims as its territory. 

"Mechanized elements (tanks and infantry combat vehicles) are also being strengthened in eastern Ladakh and Sikkim," said the source. Moreover, a Rs 26,155 crore plan to develop infrastructure along the 4,057-km LAC by 2020-21 is already underway. 

The new corps, with two specialized high-altitude divisions for "rapid reaction force capability in mountains", will add to all this. This will give India, which for long has focused on the land borders with Pakistan, some offensive teeth against China as well. 

This is critical because China has "aggressively" strengthened its military capabilities in the TAR, with at least five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads. This, as earlier reported by TOI, allows China to move over 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) to the LAC, outnumbering Indian forces by at least 3:1 there.


‘Military diplomacy’ sounds like an oxymoron. Diplomacy is about culture and finesse –graduated gratification of desire- military is about roughing it out and instant success. However, the phrase ‘military diplomacy’ is as frequently used as ‘cultural diplomacy’. While the latter “conjures up images of ambassadorial dinner parties and the elite pastimes of the Fererro Rocher set,”[1] the former is more about gunboats. 

The two are often hyphenated because, diplomacy is as much about pressurization, as it is about persuasion. And more often than not, coercive military power either precedes or follows foreign policy. 

It is perhaps to avoid the use of an oxymoron that a high powered working group at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi has titled their recent report as, “Deliberations on Military and Diplomacy.”[2] 
Photo Courtesy: OutlookIndia.com 

Besides catering to “restructuring the Ministry of Defence (MoD)... to ensure greater integration of the civilian bureaucracy with the Armed Forces Headquarters” - the IDSA document, is also guided by pragmatic imperatives to use ‘defence cooperation’ and Indian “military professionalism, including the high standards of its military training institutions and capacities in the field of international peacekeeping ...in furtherance of its foreign policy objectives.” 

The aim to integrate military into the national decision making process is laudable. However, what needs a more rigorous debate is the effort to conjoin the civil-military reform with foreign policy imperatives – re-orienting the Indian military from a force guarding the nation to a resource to be exploited to secure a place on the high table of “international security politics”. 

Simply put, the proposed reforms are less inclined towards self–correcting the existing anomaly in the national higher defence management and more to satiate the American demands to have well trained military manpower at its disposal in Asia.[3] 

Ailing Army

in New Delhi 

Unattractive rewards, work-related psychological issues and operational difficulties make the Indian Army a not-so-attractive career option. 

Candidates undergoing the physical fitness test at an Army recruitment rally in Kapurthala, Punjab, on October 17, 2012. 

Is all well with the 1.3-million-strong Indian Army, the venerable institution entrusted with the task of guarding the country against external aggression and also internal insurgency and strife? And if all is well, then why is the Army short of 10,100 officers and 32,431 other soldiers, called Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR)? Why have more than 25,000 jawans gone on early retirement in the past three years? Why are over 100 officers and other men in uniform committing suicide every year? 

This is the reality in the Indian Army, which stands at a crossroads today. And these figures are not fictitious; they have been provided by Defence Minister A.K. Antony in his various replies to Parliament since 2010. 

It is some consolation that the shortage of officers has come down now. While in 2010 the Army was short of 12,510 officers, the shortage came down to 10,100 officers as of July this year. Giving the figure in Parliament on December 10, the Defence Minister explained that the raising of two new Army divisions in the eastern sector, 3 Corps and 4 Corps, by pulling together resources from existing holdings, had led to the shortage. He added that the divisions were necessary to strengthen India’s hold in the north-eastern sector and along the border with China. He assured Members of Parliament that recruitment would be accelerated to bridge the gap. 

The shortage, both of officers and PBOR, has persisted since 1971, and the gap today is the result of this long period of neglect. The PBOR, it may be mentioned, form the bulk of the Army’s fighting force. 

India’s Grand Strategy for the 1971 War

By Kapil Kak 
Emerging Pakistan Crisis 

1970 Elections and Aftermath 

The crisis that erupted in Pakistan towards end-1970 was not a political or ideological one. Its roots lay in Pakistan’s inability or unwillingness, or both, to substantially address the issue of its pronounced ethnic fault lines. Back then, the Bengali population, which comprised 60 percent of Pakistan, and had suffered as second-class citizens since Pakistan’s inception, saw a rare opportunity in the 1970 elections., Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League obtained a clear and convincing majority in these elections to stake his claims to premiership. But, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s obsessive ambition to become the undisputed Pakistani leader; if not, then, at least of West Pakistan, no matter at what cost, triggered Pakistan’s severest crisis since its creation. 

As TN Kaul avers “The military leadership of Pakistan fell into Bhutto’s trap and started an unprecedented campaign of atrocities, suppression of Bengalis, oppression of intellectuals and minorities with such ruthlessness and cruelty as had not been seen since Hitler’s days”.1 This indeed was the second trigger for the commencement of the war of liberation in Bangladesh in which India got forcibly sucked in, the first unquestionably being the denial of democratic rights to the people of East Bengal following the 1970 elections. The incompetence of administrative response to the devastating flood and cyclone disasters at the last stages of the election campaign served to further deepen alienation against the rule from Islamabad. 

An important development was Pakistan’s mischief in the middle of its preoccupations relating to the election results. An Indian Airlines Fokker Friendship was hijacked to Lahore and destroyed by Pakistani agents and militants from Jammu and Kashmir on January 30, 1971. India played a strategic master stroke by suspending over-flights of all Pakistani aircraft, civil and military. This key decision was to impose severe constraints on the ability of Pakistan later, at the height of the crisis in Oct-Nov ’71, to build up its forces in East Bengal. Because ten months after the Indian ban on Pakistani over-flights, US Secretary of State Rogers in a meeting with President Nixon on November 24,1971 told him, “It is a 2,500 mile flight to resupply the troops in East Pakistan…the logistics, you know are impossible….my own judgment is that probably it will get worse”.2 

Impact of Refugee Influx 

The gravest threat to India’s security, stability and well-being arose from the massive and unending influx of millions of refugees driven out of their homes by the holocaust against them by the Pakistan Army from March 25, 1971 onwards. This security compulsion clearly necessitated formulation of an overarching strategy for a conflict that could ensue. The number of refugees swelled from a quarter of a million on April 21 to 1.48 million by May 6, mostly into the states of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi justifiably described them as “victims of war who sought refuge from military terror across our frontier”. 


By Kapil Kak 


The Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) pioneered by USA, Russia and, of late, China, represents the acme of advanced technology centric combat air power for air dominance and effects-based precision force application in battle spaces over the decades ahead. Reflecting a measure of Indian chutzpah, despite its low level of technological expertise in the design of advanced fighters, it too is boldly poised to join the FGFA league through a collaborative project with Russia. India’s imperative is primarily embedded in its concern over a rising and, of late, assertive China, and the strategic and geopolitical challenges arising from its awesome defence modernisation palpably focussed on the aerospace and maritime sectors. There are other considerations as well. 

In overall terms, FGFA represents a somewhat discontinuous leap into highly advanced technological-operational systems as against the historical and incremental ‘generational’ upgrades that progressively developed from the first generation manoeuvre-oriented airborne platforms armed only with guns. Unsurprisingly, the American F 22 Raptor was the first FGFA to get off the block in 1997 and entered service in the United States Air Force (USAF) in 2004. Within eight years, the USAF has completed its order book of 195 F22s. But its second FGFA project involving the F 35, a multi-nation collaborative enterprise, which undertook its maiden flight in 2006, has run into serious problems of cost over-runs and techno-operational impediments. This development could delay its induction to well beyond 2016. Significantly, the setback to the F 35 project has ominous consequences: it is set to replace most American combat aircraft, and at least nine allies, and would form part of their inventories for decades. 

In FGFA stirrings elsewhere, the beginning of 1990s witnessed the Soviet Union seeking replacements for its Mig 29s and Sukhoi 27s with Sukhoi 47/ “1-21” and the Mikoyan Mig 1.44. These were seen as early attempts to keep up with the Americans. But the inevitable deficiency of funds compelled suspension of both aircraft projects. Nonetheless, the prospective PAK-FA/T 50 FGFA eventually took to the air first in 2010, and thanks to India joining the programme, which came as a blessing to the Russians (as for the Sukhoi 30 in 1994) it has picked up traction for attainment of operational status by about 2019. 

Predictably, China was not far behind: its stealth fighter, provisionally dubbed Chengdu J 20, undertook its maiden flight in 2011, with the follow on Shenyang J 31 (F60) taking to the skies on October 31, 2012.These two FGFA aircraft would, on the lines of the American F 22 and F 35, complement each other during future PLAAF operations. J31 is reportedly lighter and more maneuverable than the J 20 with design features that provide it the potential to operate off aircraft carriers. 

IAF’s interest in the PAK-FA understandably— perhaps belatedly—surfaced around 2007 and the collaboration on the joint Sukhoi-HAL FGFA project has reached developmental maturation. This choice was perceived as a means to address the looming FGFA gap with PLAAF (the Chinese Air Force). A comprehensive analysis of the FGFA and its salience for IAF, including force structure and employment, would call for addressing aspects relating to FGFA concept and design features, strategic-operational mission environment, India-Russia collaboration and its close linkage with India’s strategy for imparting energetic impulses to its fledgling aerospace industry, spearheaded by its flagship, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). 

Concept and Design Features 

The generally accepted norm for FGFA is a certain level of stealth to enhance survivability, “internal weapon carriage to maintain it, arrays of embedded sensors and data-links within the airframe structure, rather than bolting-on [provisions]; and sensor fusion into single displays.” Twin canted tails help minimise radar cross section (RCS). The design concept envisages operating in a network centric combat environment and to have “extremely low all aspect, multi-spectral signatures that involve employing advanced materials and shaping techniques”. FGFA have a high percentage of composite materials to reduce RCS and weight, and internal weapon bays in lieu of high RCS weapon pylons. But external hard-points on wings could still be used for non-stealthy missions. 

India-China War of 1962

Higher Defence Management: Then and Now 
By Kapil Kak 

Paper for the CLAWS Seminar 

India-China Relationship 
Remembering the Past to Look into the Future 
November 23, 2012 


China’s military invasion in October 1962, extending from Arunachal Pradesh (then North East Frontier Agency) to Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, against which the nation failed to defend itself, was independent India’s darkest hour. At the macro level, it was a national security double whammy — “two major failures: one of India’s foreign policy, particularly towards China; and the other of country’s defence policy [until then deliberately configured to low defence budgets and limited modernisation]. This failure to manage the border conflict properly resulted in a humiliating military reverse,”1 a trauma which left a scar on the national psyche. 

While the official history of the conflict remains ‘restricted’, many drawbacks in higher defence management led to India’s military debacle. One, strategically and militarily ill-informed and inept political leadership that was unequal to the task. It had woefully inadequate military understanding and even less knowledge of air power, and was, consequently, self-deterred from employing the Indian Air Force, an option that could have turned the tide somewhat. Two, a monumental disconnect between an inherently flawed intelligence — based on instinct, rather than assessments anchored in rigorous analyses — and the resultant ill-conceived military actions. Three, an ill-prepared army, facing acute shortfalls in weapons, logistics and clothing, was hastily deployed in the High Himalayas against a foe, far better placed in terms of equipment, personnel and terrain. And, most importantly, sheer inability to co-relate political strategies with military means. Thus, a military defeat was made inevitable, by an extremely feeble, wholly imbalanced and non-functional higher direction of war. 

This paper would endeavour to provide some answers to the questions that arise in the consideration of the foregoing issues. And also whether India’s defence policy mavens have learned appropriate lessons, half a century after that painful conflict, and addressed the multiple disjunctions, vertical and horizontal and civil and military, which were so palpable in the higher direction of that war. 

Political-Military Interfaces 

In the normal course, the India-Pakistan conflict of 1947-48 and the subsequent limited action by the armed forces in Goa in 1961 should have served as instructive testing grounds for India’s politico- military interfaces and the related structures and processes of higher defence management. During the initial phase of the first campaign, the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) — where the chiefs were in attendance, Defence Minister’s Committee (DMC) and the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) functioned well, until the British service chiefs’ contradictory allegiance — predictably more towards British interests than the Indian armed forces they were commanding — introduced strains. Unsurprisingly, the DCC gradually lost its value, as evidenced from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s written remarks to Defence Minister (DM) Baldev Singh: “there is no particular advantage in putting up the [defence] plans in the motley crowd that attends DCC meetings.”2 He was clearly alluding to the British Chiefs. And that, in effect, marked the end of DCC as an apex level political-military interface. 

River songs


Mekong, the lifeline of South-East Asia, is vast enough to straddle all kinds of paradoxes. To journey down the river is to witness life unfolding with all its contradictions, colours, urgencies and solemnities. 

Murals on the walls of the sanctum sanctorum of a wat. 

At the confluence of two mighty rivers, the Mekong and the Nam Khan, lies a quaint and picturesque town that belies the notion that the East and the West can never meet. Luang Prabang, the former imperial capital of the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, is a felicitous blend of two very different cultures, the French and the Buddhist, and is perfectly at ease with this hybrid identity. Luang Prabang’s high street is lined with trendy street cafés in the best tradition of their Parisian counterparts. Yet, the street is also home to splendid Buddhist wats and monasteries with gilded pagodas and glittering Buddha statues. The delicious aroma of freshly baked baguettes and croissants and the strong smell of dark-roasted coffee mingle with the heady fragrance of jasmine and parijaat garlands waiting to adorn the deities in the numerous temples that dot this town. 

We, a group of four women from India, had embarked upon a Mekong river trip, planning to sail upstream from Chau Doc in Vietnam all the way to Laos through Cambodia. Earlier, we had driven from a very vibrant Ho Chi Minh City to the boat jetty in Chau Doc in a taxicab. En route, we had to cross the Mekong and its tributaries a few times, on rickety ferries that carry everything from fowl, fish, rickshaws, scooters, trucks and other cargo in addition to people. Chau Doc is a bustling Vietnamese town that perches astride the mighty Mekong and is the gateway to all adventure lovers who want to explore this living river. 


Guidebooks and travel websites had assured us that we could readily get passage on the many boats that sail upstream. That was certainly not our experience. Most of the boats had already been booked by tour groups from Europe headed to Angkor Wat. Those that were not were not exactly ship-shape, pun unintended. Finally, after cooling our heels in Chau Doc for two days, all we could manage was a single-hulled boat crammed with bucket seats, most of which were also taken by a tour group from France. We decided to plough on, regardless. 

Monks crossing the Mekong in Cambodia. 

So early next morning, we make our way to the boat jetty bleary-eyed and squeeze ourselves into the cramped and hermetically sealed cabin which was already packed with passengers and luggage. The steamer hoots tentatively and sets off, rending the dawn mist. With the boat on its way, we decide to colonise the roof of the boat to enjoy the caress of the sun’s emerging rays and the breeze. For the first couple of hours, visibility is near zero as a thick fog hangs heavy on the river, obscuring even the banks. But soon, life on the water’s edge begins to reveal itself, at first in tantalising glimpses, but gradually and slowly, in its full glory. 

River of life 

Mekong is said to be the lifeline of South-East Asia and nowhere is it more evident than when you sail on the river itself. The river is agog with boats of all sizes and varying vintage and purpose, their foghorns setting up a cacophony. Floating villages, some with houses on stilts, others fashioned out of tin or zinc sheets, are ubiquitous through the 12-hour journey that takes us to Phnom Penh. Occasionally, we pass through small towns. These sport the brick-and-mortar variant of the dwellings on the embankments. Markets are everywhere, some floating, others perched on the river’s edge, selling everything from pots and pans to plastic buckets, fruits, vegetables and items of everyday use; there are boat repair shacks, tuktuk sheds, small factories with smoke curling out of chimneys, and a few schools; we spy herdsmen herding their flocks of ducks and geese on the river, families travelling to their destinations on their own little canoes, fishermen hunched over their catch. In fact, fishing nets are a ubiquitous sight throughout the stretch; the hauls could range from sardines to eels and coils of river snakes, which are considered a delicacy in these parts. The river is said to be replete with otters and dolphins, but we do not see any. 

Managing the Unconventional Oil and Gas Bonanza

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The United States is awash with new energy. But previously untapped sources of oil and gas can have long-term impacts on climate if their development is not properly managed. Strong and effective presidential leadership is necessary if the United States is to make the most of its new resources. President Obama must work with private, public, and nongovernmental organization leaders to develop a transparent carbon-pricing structure that advances national energy, economic, and climate security. 
Energy and Climate Program More from Burwell... 

Technological breakthroughs in energy development are creating access to more domestic oil and gas resources than at any time in U.S. history. Optimism about the nation’s energy future is soaring as new opportunities emerge to obtain fuel from previously untapped unconventional oil and gas. Using only known energy development technologies, there is at least as much unconventional oil and gas accessible today as there is conventional supply. 

U.S. net recoverable shale gas reserves in particular have expanded from enough for about a decade to well over one hundred years at current rates of consumption. Oil sources in the United States and Canada are now estimated at over 3.5 trillion barrels. Recovering these new oils—many of them unconventional in either their makeup (such as oil sands) or location (such as oil trapped in shale rock)—is tied to the future price of oil. 

This new oil and gas wealth presents the United States with a significant opportunity to create jobs, stimulate its economy, reduce the trade deficit, and improve its global economic competitiveness. However, realizing the full potential of these new energy sources and reaping the short-term economic rewards of this energy bonanza require presidential leadership and new policies. The highest levels of government must prioritize efforts to address these public objectives while ensuring market stability, protecting national security, and addressing climate change. 

Global Trends 2030: The Changing Nature of Warfare - Transcript

The Changing Nature of Warfare 

Dr. Thomas Enders, CEO, EADS NV 

Michèle Flournoy, Senior Advisor, Boston Consulting Group; Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, US Department of Defense 

Moderated by Steven Grundman, M.A. and George Lund Fellow for Emerging Defense Challenges, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council 

Transcript and video below. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 

The interaction of developing global trends with warfare strategies and planning was summed up by Ms. Flournoy’s remark that the current world demanded a military that is “agile and flexible and full-spectrum.” The increasing congestion of, and growing threats from, cyber and space commons mean that future military challenges will need to be fought using more tools than those furnished by conventional US military dominance. Dr. Enders warned that the West should not be engaging in cyber warfare while it still remains so highly vulnerable to attacks itself. Additionally, Ms. Flournoy cautioned policymakers to consider public opinion more carefully when formulating policy related to the Internet, especially in the context of growing individual empowerment. 

After further questioning from Mr. Grundman, the panelists discussed differences in organizational thinking between government defense agencies and the defense industry, particularly on the cultural aversion to failure and turning mistakes made previously into lessons learned for the future. Questions from the audience were particularly concerned with the costs of military modernization or technology advancement and with new tactics like drone warfare, which may be more widely used in future and which the United States has used in a relatively unregulated manner. 

Global Trends 2030: The Individual vs The State: Who Will Have the Upper Hand in 2030? - Transcript

The Individual vs. the State: Who Will Have the Upper Hand in 2030? 

Jared Cohen, Director, Google Ideas; Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations 

Hisham Kassem, Founding Publisher, Al-Masry Al-Youm Newspaper 

Marne Levine, Vice President of Global Public Policy, Facebook 

Moderated by Dr. Banning Garrett, Director, Strategic Foresight Initiative, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council 

Transcript and video below. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 

Social media and its impacts on individual empowerment, security, information verification, and societal structure were the main topics of discussion. Mr. Kassem spoke at length about the way social media changed not only his industry, but also the political course of his nation, by giving individuals and non-state actors the means to voice and broadcast their opinions. Mr. Cohen speculated about future governmental efforts at censorship of the Internet and of social media in particular, imagining censorship unions and some nations punching above their weight in these efforts due to a concentration of cyber power. Ms. Levine elaborated on both points by emphasizing the role of social media in influencing opinion. She provided numerous statistics about the ways in which news about world events, entertainment, food, and more are increasingly spread through networks of online friends and acquaintances, practically affecting policy. 

In response to questions, panelists engaged with the issue of digital incitement, with Mr. Kassem noting that the lack of mainstream space to voice dissent in the Middle East often resulted in an angrier online environment. Mr. Cohen cautioned that governments would try to replicate laws of the physical world in digital space but would fail, with the likelihood of major upheaval if they are unable to distinguish real security threats from regular digital noise. 

Global Trends 2030: Emerging Technologies that Could Change Our Future - Transcript

Emerging Technologies that Could Change Our Future 

General James E. Cartwright, Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Mikael Hagstrom, Executive Vice President, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, SAS 

Paul Saffo, Managing Director of Foresight, Discern Analytics; Senior Fellow, Strategic Foresight Initiative, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council 

Moderated by Mariette DiChristina, Editor in Chief, Scientific American 

Transcript and video below. 

Monday, December 10, 2012 

Panelists centered the discussion on disruptive technology in two key areas: security and the labor market. Mr. Hagstrom detailed the threat of cyber attacks and the mismanagement of the governance of new technologies and Mr. Saffo discussed that increasing automation in manufacturing has translated into declining demand for human intensive labor in a variety of industries. Tying the two points together, General Cartwright drew upon comparisons between this technological revolution and the industrial revolution. He emphasized how the digital revolution empowers the cognitive capacities of the human race in ways the industrial revolution empowered the physical capacities of humans. In military and security affairs, this shift means that competitive advantage in computing power is critical, while distributing and leveraging information are the major occupations of leaders. Emerging technologies discussed included prosthetics connected to chips embedded in the brain, additive manufacturing, and robotics. 

The panel particularly discussed how these emerging technologies could influence the alternative worlds outlined in the NIC report. The ability of the United States to bring diverse perspectives to common problems was highlighted as an advantage when it comes to adapting to technological challenges, but the slow pace of governmental administrative change and disinvestments in research and education threatened to hurt US leadership on those challenges. 

Army Aviation Must Balance Near-, Long-Term Modernization, Official Says

By Valerie Insinna

Shrinking defense budgets will force the Army to make a trade off between near- and long-term readiness, said the commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command at the Association of the U.S. Army’s aviation symposium at National Harbor, Md.

“You don't want to buy too much near-term readiness at the expense of the modernization programs that you're dealing with in the long term," Gen. Robert Cone, TRADOC commander, said in a Jan. 10 speech that laid out the aviation program’s future challenges. But "we cannot accept the level of risk that we've accepted previously in terms of near-term readiness."

If the Army decides to prioritize long-term modernization programs, this may bode ill for a possible competition for a replacement to Bell Helicopter’s OH-58 Kiowa Warrior. A new armed aerial scout helicopter would fill the gap between the 40-year-old Kiowa and a vision called Future Vertical Lift, which will seek to develop fleets of all new attack, lift and scout helicopters by 2030.

The Army needs a capable scout helicopter, Cone said. However, “the question is, how much can we invest in that platform without taking away from the future?"

Officials are currently weighing their options regarding whether to fund a new platform or upgrade the Kiowa. TRADOC officials recently met with Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin, who wanted more information on the potential cost as well as how it would fit into future Army modernization efforts, Cone said. "We're back at the drawing board answering a few more questions in regard to that." 

Cone identified other future needs, including Future Vertical Lift, extending the range, endurance and altitude of Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, and further development of manned/unmanned teaming technology.

The Robots Are Coming

Washington Post
Matt Miller 

January 8, 2013 -- “The Robots Take Over!” cries this month’s cover story in Wired Magazine. “They’re coming for your job – and you’ll be glad they did.” The piece, by Kevin Kelly, chronicles the amazing roles robotic technology is poised to take on – from warehouse worker and waitress to artist, musician, therapist and even comedian. It trumpets the news with the breezy optimism that characterizes most talk of technology’s impact on society. 

And why not be breezy? One of the core tenets of economics is that technological advance is the wellspring of human betterment. Yes, new technologies disrupt old arrangements and devastate industries and workers they displace. But, over time, such innovation spawns new industries and jobs whose scale vastly exceeds the losses suffered by technology’s “losers.” 

It’s the nature of economic change. The Luddites, as we learned in school, were wrong. Or, to put it more precisely, no one could blame them for fighting the machines that eliminated their skilled textile jobs. But the broader notion – that technological advance could destroy more jobs than it creates or cause widespread economic harm – is a fallacy. 

Well, what if the Luddite Fallacy was a fallacy only for the first 250 years of modern capitalism’s existence? What if we’re entering an era of geometrically accelerating technological advance in which artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology will together pose much more profound threats to jobs, wages and social stability than has commonly been imagined? And what if it’s not just the “unskilled” who are at risk, but most of us? That’s the unsettling scenario sketched by computer engineer and software entrepreneur Martin Ford in his cautionary book, “The Lights in The Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology, and The Economy of the Future.” It’s the most provocative 2009 book you’ll read in 2013. 

“Tunnel” had been on my list (well, on my Kindle) for ages, but I finally got to it over the holidays – doesn’t everyone like a little dystopia with their egg nog? And be warned: You need to press past Ford’s offputting “tunnel” metaphor to get to the guts of his unconventional analysis. But if (like me) you’re fascinated by futurist Ray Kurzweil’s arguments that accelerating technology makes this unfolding era truly different, Ford’s logic, and fears, will haunt you — and seem impossible to rule out. Is mass replacement of human work without the simultaneous creation of enough decently paid new work going to happen? If so, is the troubling inflection point 75 years away? Or two or three decades? If it’s the latter, what should we be doing about it? 

Glimpses of a Graying World: The Demographic Challenges of 2030 Hanna Camp

January 11, 2013 

Last month, the National Intelligence Council (NIC) unveiled its Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds report at a conference convened by the Atlantic Council. Previous reports sought to envision the world in 2025, 2020, 2015, and 2010. 

Every Global Trends report challenges a new or returning US president to think about how the megatrends shaping our future will play out in different global contexts. They contain no policy recommendations, leaving it to readers to identify the trends most relevant to their future and explore policy options. But the task is daunting. The megatrends discussed in the Global Trends 2030 could have truly world-altering impact, with complex ripple effects extending to nearly every aspect of society. Understanding them will require a global effort of unprecedented scope. 

The trend of global aging illustrates the difficulties involved in understanding the magnitude of such potential shifts. Demographically, there has never been a world like the one we will likely meet in 2030. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that world median age increased from 24 to 28 since 1950; by 2050, forecasts show an increase by another 10 years. Two billion people will be over the age of 60, and the developed world will be the first to demonstrate the effects. [Figure 1] 

Adequately exploring this kind of all-encompassing megatrend requires a set of analytical tools for thinking about the many linkages between global health, economics, socio-political dynamics, and more. The International Futures model (IFs), developed by the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures and used in Global Trends 2030, is one such tool. IFs is uniquely interdisciplinary; it integrates thousands of data series on health, economics, education, and more into an endogenous system of interaction, grounded in decades of development research. Broadly speaking, changes in country demographic structures are driven by fertility rates, mortality rates, and migration patterns. Recognizing that these rates and patterns are not static, the IFs model incorporates projected changes in factors like life expectancy, average GDP per capita, female education, technological advance, contraception use, and others into its forecasts and connects them to a nation’s future fertility and mortality rates based on historical patterns. Migration rates, the final critical component, are incorporated into the model using assumptions from the UN Population Division. 

Provoked? A look at the Indo-Pak relationship

Sun,13 Jan 2013 

A fence runs along the line of control, the line that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, in Mendhar, Poonch district, about 210 kilometers from Jammu. (AP Photo)

On October 16, 2012, the petrified residents of Churunda village, virtually sitting on the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri sector in Jammu and Kashmir, raised white flags and used loud hailers from a local mosque pleading to trigger-happy Pakistani troops to stop firing and shelling so that they could read “namaz-e-janaza” and bury civilians killed in crossfire that day.

The genesis of the current flare-up between India and Pakistan on the LoC lies in the killing of these three civilians, including two students, in this nondescript village, and culminated in the savage killing of two Indian soldiers in a Pakistan army cross-border raid in Mankot sector in Mendhar on a foggy January 6 morning. Amidst cries of warmongers in the media on both sides and a flurry of diplomatic demarches and protests — with Islamabad trying to make political capital out of its appointment as head of the UN Security Council this month — the truth is, cross-LoC firing has been a fact of life since both countries went to war over Kashmir in 1948.

While the Indo-Pak November 26, 2003 ceasefire pact vastly reduced violence along the international border, LoC and Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in Siachen, sporadic firing and wanton killing is part of the complex brutal messaging process between the two armies. With mirror deployments, both armies play a cat and mouse game to get a leg up on the other or “sort out the enemy” in army lingo. While the killing of Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh and beheading of Naik Hemraj Singh of 13 Rajputana Rifles by the Pakistan army is a sure sign that Islamabad wants to escalate matters, there is a history to the macabre killings. 

What was once a river...

Sun Jan 13 2013

As the Kumbh begins on Monday, a dip in the Sangam—the confluence of two of the most polluted rivers in the country, the Ganga and the Yamuna—will call for a giant leap of faith. Shyamlal Yadav digs out data under the RTI Act to explain why 

Numbers and acronyms are no match for faith. So starting January 14, when the faithful queue up to take a dip in the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati in Allahabad, nothing will deter them—not the rising BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) levels or the dipping DO (dissolved oxygen) levels in the swirling cocktail that is the holy Sangam. 

Over the last six months, The Sunday Express has gathered data under the RTI Act to show how, despite the Rs 8,278 crore spent on cleaning the Ganga and the Yamuna, these two rivers have some of the worst pollution levels as seen by their BOD and DO levels. For instance, a sample of water taken from the Sangam on May 5 last year shows a BOD level of 7.3 mg/litre, way beyond the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) permissible limit of 3 mg/litre, above which the water becomes unfit even for bathing. 

BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down organic material. Higher the BOD, higher the pollution in the water sample. It’s a standard method to measure the amount of organic pollution in a sample of water. DO or dissolved oxygen is a measure of how successfully the water has been treated. Raw waste water has very little dissolved oxygen. So higher the DO, lower the pollution. 

The data has been gathered from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, CPCB, the Central Water Commission, the state Pollution Control Boards of Uttarakhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. Since some Boards did not provide complete information, some of the data has been taken from affidavits filed by the CPCB before the Supreme Court in November last year. 

Since 1985, over Rs 8,278 crore has been spent on the Ganga and Yamuna under various schemes such as the Ganga Action Plan, the National River Conservation Plan, Yamuna Action Plan and the latest, National Ganga River Basin Authority. But much of this has gone down the drain. 

India's Demographic Dividend: Asset or Liability?

Published: January 09, 2013

Half a century ago, there was only one answer to the question of India's growing population. In a 1967 book titled Famine 1975!: America's Decision: Who Will Survive?, U.S. economists William and Paul Paddock even advocated that the population of India should be allowed to starve as the country was a hopeless case. America should allocate its aid dollars to other countries with greater chances of being able to feed their hungry, the authors argued. 

Ten years ago, the India's growing masses -- the population officially crossed one billion in 2000 with the birth of Aastha Arora on May 10 of that year -- were still considered a liability by many. Providing basic needs for all seemed to be a near-impossible task. 

Somewhere along the line, however, economists discovered a silver lining: The world was aging, but India was growing younger. There was a "demographic dividend" that the country could hope for, and ultimately exploit. Ann April 2012 International Monetary Fund (IMF) paper titled, "Asia and the Pacific: Managing Spillovers and Advancing Economic Rebalancing," noted that "in many Asian countries, aging populations are now causing, or are about to cause, a decline in the working-age ratio. The Japanese workforce has been shrinking since 1995, and the Korean workforce will start to decline beginning 2015. China's working-age ratio will peak in 2013 and then decline by a substantial amount in the next few decades.... The second most populous country in the region (and the world) affords grounds for cautious optimism. India's demographic transition is presently well underway, and the age structure of the population there is likely to evolve favorably over the next two to three decades." The democratic dividend could add 2 percentage points to per capita GDP growth per annum, according to the IMF. 

There are some challenges related to those seemingly favorable demographics, however. The first is in finding jobs for all these people. Second, and more importantly, India's young people will need to develop the right skills for the modern job market. 

Different Views on Job Growth

Opinions on future job growth diverged at the recent 20th Anniversary Symposium of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for the Advanced Study of India. During a panel discussion titled, "Building an Inclusive India," one speaker envisioned the country exporting armies of skilled labor to the world. Another worried about a generation of unskilled Indian workers left behind. "Only 5% of India's labor force is estimated to have had any formal training," said panelist S. Ramadorai, vice-chairman of Tata Consultancy Services and an advisor to the Prime Minister for the National Council of Skill Development. 

With Pakistan, follow a ‘Line of Caution’

Sunday, January 13, 2013,

G R O U N D Z E R O 

In Pakistan right now, the discourse is not about India but its internal problems and the coming general elections. Its army even declared recently that the country’s enemy number one was now home-grown militants.
Raj Chengappa 

Barely a year and a half ago, the Pakistan Army flew me down by helicopter to visit the Line of Control at Chakothi in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Bright blue highway signs indicated that Uri was just 11 km away and Srinagar 121 km. We stood at Aman Setu, the bridge that was opened in 2006 to facilitate trade and passenger movement between the two Kashmirs, waving to Indian soldiers, stationed on the other side. 

This was my second visit to the LoC from the Pakistan side, the first being in November 2004, a year after the ceasefire agreement came into place. There was then sporadic exchange of fire between the two armies. Only a dirt road and a rickety bridge led to the LoC at Chakothi and the atmosphere was still tense. 

When I returned in May 2011, there was a sea change in the atmosphere. Apart from a freshly tarred highway, enough for double-lane traffic, there was a newly built facilitation centre that doubled both as a dry port for trade and a visa checkpoint.

Indian Army personnel carry the coffin of Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh at Rajouri on January 9. Two soldiers were killed last Tuesday on the LoC by Pakistani intruders. AFP 

Syed Asif Hussain, the impressive Secretary to the so-called Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government, told me, “There has to be a paradigm shift in the approach of both countries. The narrative should change from the focus on territory to that of development. People do not want confrontation. Instead, they want food and security from internal threats.” 

From this atmosphere of hope and peace, we appear to be almost back to square one after the deplorable mutilation of the bodies of the two Indian jawans killed at the LoC. In this current surcharged atmosphere, it is politically correct to talk in terms of giving Pakistan a fitting reply for its perfidy on the LoC. 

Chicago Address

Published: January 11, 2013 

Advaita Ashrama Archives Swami Vivekananda on the dais at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. 

The text of Swami Vivekananda’s address, in response to the welcome extended to him at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, on September 11, 1893 

Sisters and Brothers of America: 

It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. 

My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.” 

Can India Revive Nonalignment?

India's foreign-policy establishment is in the process of disinterring a long-dead grand strategy from its Cold War grave. "Nonalignment" - the doctrine that calls upon India to refuse staunchly any strategic alliances with other actors - has re-entered the broader foreign policy discourse, with the center-left championing such policies in the guise of promoting "strategic autonomy." The credo was touted in an independent report titled Nonalignment 2.0, which offers the vision of "allying with none" as a grand strategy for India in the coming years. 

At first glance, nonalignment presents an attractive option for a rising India. It promises freedom from entangling alliances as well as the chance to advance Indian exceptionalism against the Machiavellian imperatives of traditional international politics. Most importantly, it holds out the prospect that India can chart its own path free from machinations of external actors, an understandable objective for a country scarred by its colonial past.

But in light of India's growing strategic vulnerabilities, a return to nonalignment is misguided and potentially dangerous. The doctrine has three major weaknesses that would leave India perilously vulnerable: 

First, nonalignment struggles to reconcile competing strands of realism and idealism. On the one hand, Indian policymakers acknowledge the nation inhabits a Hobbesian world characterized by troublesome neighbors and endemic geopolitical competition. Despite avowed recognition of the dangerous environment, the doctrine counsels India to rise above conventional international politics, to avoid behaving like other great powers as it becomes one and instead blaze new paths for the conduct of powerful nations. 

Advocacy of moralpolitik in an amoral world is grounded in nonalignment's fervent but suspect belief in the power of example. According to its proponents, India's developmental and democratic successes within would help inspire a following abroad, thus bequeathing an exemplary power allowing India to gain in global stature and influence. This coruscating idealism, however, is at odds with the reality that great-power competition will be alive and well in the future global system. If power politics is in no danger of extinction, then the critical task facing India is maximization of national power through smart choices at home and abroad. Expansion of India's material power in the realms of economic growth, technological advancement, and institutional capacity could make all the difference - with the benefits of example accruing thereafter for free. 

It's clear that consolidating material success cannot be subordinated to the chimerical pursuit of an ideal international order, in which India's exceptionalism has room to flourish, so long as the tyranny of great-power competition remains untamed. In this respect, India's new advocates of nonalignment are akin to an older generation of idealists in the United States. From the moment of its founding, the American nation, too, entranced by the Enlightenment and republican ideals, sought to promote a novus ordo seclorum, an ongoing quest for new order for the ages, permitting the country to preserve exceptionalism in the face of all international pressures toward conformity. While many Americans would like to believe that the United States is unique in its global behavior, the truth is that the country behaves more or less like the great powers that preceded it. 

A Surprising Confession on Kargil

January 12, 2013 by 
By: Shahid Aziz 

Editor’s Note: In the early days of Kargil conflict Pakistan incessantly denied any role of its army. The pattern today after the beheading of Indian soldiers in Mendhar is the same. Lt Gen Shahid Aziz, former GOC 4 Corps, Pakistan Army published this story four days before this sordid incident – The saga continues 

“We shall do it again. We decide. You die. We sing.”

Kargil, like every other meaningless war that we have fought, brings home lessons we continue to refuse to learn. Instead, we proudly call it our history written in the blood of our children. Indeed, our children penning down our misdeeds with their blood! Medals for some, few songs, a cross road renamed, and of course annual remembrance day and a memorial for those who sacrificed their tomorrow for our today; thus preparing more war fodder for our continuing misadventures. Since nothing went wrong, so there is nothing to learn. We shall do it again. We decide. You die. We sing. 

Cut off from the reality of pain and affliction that would be brought upon the nation, the decision maker takes the course most suited to his whimsical ambitions. Possible hurdles are sidetracked, on the basis of ‘need to know’, or merely bulldozed. Never has there been an institutional decision for the bloodshed. And at the end of each fiasco, original objectives are redefined to cry, “Hurrah! We have won”. 

Our leaders seek personal glory, and desire honour in the eyes of other nations. Sadly, that has become our definition of national honour; but how can we be respected when we have little self respect? So concerned have we become about how they perceive us that we openly deride our religion and all the social values that we once stood for. 

The whole truth about Kargil is yet to be known. We await the stories of forgotten starved soldiers hiding behind cold desolate rocks, with empty guns still held in their hands. What stood them there could only be a love higher than that of life. Some refused to withdraw even when ordered, and stayed to fight the proverbial last man last round. Such precious blood spilled without cause! 

Whatever little I know, took a while to emerge, since General Musharraf had put a tight lid on Kargil. Three years later, a study commenced by GHQ to identify issues of concern at the lowest levels of command, was forcefully stopped by him. “What is your intent?” he asked. His cover-up was revealed many years later, on publication of his book. 

An unsound military plan based on invalid assumptions, launched with little preparations and in total disregard to the regional and international environment, was bound to fail. That may well have been the reason for its secrecy. It was a total disaster. The question then arises why was it undertaken? Were there motives other than those proclaimed, or was it only a blunder, as I had assumed for many years? 

It certainly wasn’t a defensive manoeuvre. There were no indications of an Indian attack. We didn’t pre-empt anything; nothing was on the cards. I was then heading the Analysis Wing of Inter Services Intelligence and it was my job to know. Our clearly expressed intent was to cut the supply line to Siachen and force the Indians to pull out. This was not a small result we sought and cannot be classified as a tactical manoeuvre, where no one other than the local commander needed to be aware. General Musharraf himself writes, “800 sq kms of area was captured…. and it created strategic effects”. To say that occupying empty spaces along the Line of Control was not a violation of any agreement and came under the purview of the local commander is astounding. This area was with the Indians as a result of Simla Agreement, and there had been no major violation of the Line of Control since 1971. 

The entire planning and execution was done in a cavalier manner, in total disregard of military convention. In justification, to say that our assessment was not wrong, but there was, “unreasonably escalated Indian response” is a sorry excuse for not being able to assess Indian reaction. Assumptions were made that they would not be able to dislodge us and the world would sit back idly. 

There were no mujahideen, only taped wireless messages, which fooled no one. Our soldiers were made to occupy barren ridges, with hand held weapons and ammunition. There was no way to dig in, so they were told to make parapets with lose stones and sit behind them, with no overhead protection. The boys were comforted by their commander’s assessment that no serious response would come. But it did — wave after wave, supported by massive air bursting artillery and repeated air attacks. The enemy still couldn’t manage to capture the peaks, and instead filled in the valleys. Cut off and forsaken, our posts started collapsing one after the other, though the general publicly denied it. 

The gung-ho mannerism, when there were no pressures, was cowed when lines started shrinking and the international setting became frightening. There was no will to stay the course. Media was hushed to silence, so that pulling out does not become a political issue. We will sing when our songs don’t tie us down. 

The operation, in any case, didn’t have the capacity to choke Siachen. When this truth surfaced, the initial aim was quickly modified. Now the book reads, “I would like to state emphatically that whatever movement has taken place so far in the direction of finding a solution to Kashmir is due considerably to the Kargil conflict.” Glory be to the victors. 

We continue to indulge in bloody enterprises, under the hoax of safeguarding national interest. How many more medals will we put on coffins? How many more songs are we to sing? And how many more martyrs will our silences hide? If there is purpose to war then yes, we shall all go to the battle front, but a war where truth has to be hidden, makes one wonder whose interest is it serving? 

It must be Allah’s country, for who else is holding it afloat?!

The writer is a retired lieutenant general and former corps commander of Pakistan 4 Corps, Lahore.