Indian Army Updates

Indian Army Updates

[pib] Exercise Shakti

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise SHakti and another bilateral exercise between India and France

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The 7th edition of the India-France Joint Military Exercise SHAKTI begins at Umroi, Meghalaya, signalling the start of a biennial training event aimed at enhancing bilateral military cooperation.

About Exercise Shakti

  • Shakti Exercise is a joint military exercise between the armies of India and France.
  • It is a biennial training event conducted alternatively in India and France
  • It started in 2011, and since then, the armies of both countries have undertaken it to promote defence cooperation and interoperability.
  • Objectives:
  1. To bolster joint military capabilities for multi-domain operations in a sub-conventional scenario under Chapter VII of the United Nations Mandate.
  2. To operate in semi-urban and mountainous terrain, focusing on achieving a high degree of physical fitness and refining tactical drills.

Major Defence Exercise between India and France:

  • Garuda: It is the joint air exercise between the Indian Air Force and the French Air and Space Force.
  • Varuna: It is the joint naval exercise between the Indian Navy and the French Navy.
  • Desert Knight-21: It was a bilateral air exercise conducted by the Indian Air Force and the French Air and Space Force at Air Force Station Jodhpur from January 20-24, 2021. It was unique as it involved the fielding of Rafale aircraft by both sides.
  • FRINJEX: It was the maiden joint military exercise between the Indian Army and the French Army conducted at Pangode Military Station, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on March 7-8, 2023.

 

Tap to read more about:

Various Defence Exercises in News

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Indian Army Updates

Siachen: 40 years of Operation Meghdoot

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Passes related to Siachen Glacier

Mains level: Siachen Glacier is strategically important for India for several reasons Why in the News?

Why in the News?

April 13, 2024, marks the 40th anniversary of Operation Meghdoot, which was launched by the Indian Army to pre-empt Pakistan and occupy the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram ranges.

The genesis of Operation Meghdoot

  • Launched: April 13, 1984 (by the Indian Armed Forces);
  • Aim: To seize control of the Siachen Glacier in Kashmir, marking the first assault in the world’s highest battlefield.
    • It was a response to Pakistan’s Operation Ababeel.
  • Indian troops, including the Kumaon Regiment and Ladakh Scouts, successfully gained control of critical peaks and passes like Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La, along with the commanding heights of the Saltoro Ridge, giving India a strategic advantage in the region.
  • Operation Meghdoot resulted in the first of its kind and the only army in the world to have deployed tanks and heavy ordnance at such high altitudes.
  • The Siachen Glacier conflict arose due to a vague demarcation of territories in the Karachi Agreement of 1949, leading to both India and Pakistan claiming the barren heights and the glacier, which escalated tensions in the region.

Significance of Siachen Glacier:

  • Preventing ingress from Pakistan and China: Siachen forms a hub between Shaksgam Valley, Karakoram Pass, and Aksai Chin, making it vital for India to prevent ingress not only from Pakistan but also from China.
  • Maintaining the status quo: The Indian Army’s presence in the region has helped maintain the status quo and prevent any territorial changes that could compromise India’s security.
  • Watershed and drainage: The Siachen Glacier acts as a watershed, with its melting waters being the main source of the Nubra River in the Indian region of Ladakh, which drains into the Shyok River and ultimately the Indus River, a major water source for Pakistan.

Recent developments on the Glacier

  • Technological Advancements: The introduction of VSAT technology has revolutionized communication on the glacier, improving mobile and data connectivity for troops. This has enhanced real-time situational awareness and telemedicine capabilities.
  • Improved Mobility and Logistics: The induction of Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, logistic drones, and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) has significantly improved mobility across the glacier and the supply of essential provisions to remote posts, especially during winters. New logistics chains ensure the availability of fresh rations and vegetables for forward posts.
  • Aircraft Support: Various aircraft from the Indian Air Force (IAF) operate in support of Operation Meghdoot, providing crucial support to troops in remote posts. Helicopters, including Chinook, remain a lifeline for troops.
  • Enhanced Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in Partapur and Base Camp boast some of the best medical and surgical specialists in the country.

Way forward:

  • Continued Diplomatic Talks: India and Pakistan may continue to engage in diplomatic dialogues, potentially at higher levels, to discuss the demilitarization of Siachen and other related issues. These talks could aim to find common ground and address mutual concerns.
  • Authentication of AGPL: India’s insistence on authenticating the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) as the first step towards demilitarization could remain a key sticking point. Efforts may be made to find a mutually acceptable way to verify and authenticate the AGPL.
  • Involvement of Third Parties:   Third-party mediation or involvement from international organizations could be explored to facilitate discussions and help build trust between India and Pakistan.

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Indian Army Updates

[pib] Exercise DUSTLIK

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise DUSTLIK

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

Indian Army contingent departed for the 5th edition of Exercise DUSTLIK in Uzbekistan.

Exercise DUSTLIK

  • Exercise DUSTLIK is an annual event alternating between India and Uzbekistan.
  • It is named after Dustlik, a town in the Jizzakh region of Uzbekistan.
  • The first edition of the exercise was held in 2019 near Tashkent.
  • Previous edition held in Pithoragarh, India, in February 2023.

Objectives and Focus Areas:

  • Focus on physical fitness, joint planning, and tactical drills.
  • Emphasis on special arms skills and multi-domain operations.
  • Tactical drills include establishing command posts, intelligence centers, heliborne operations, and room intervention.
  • Incorporation of combat support arms and services besides Infantry.
  • Opportunity to share Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) of joint operations.
  • Strengthening interoperability and camaraderie between soldiers of both nations.

India’s bilateral exercises with Central Asian Countries

Country Exercise
Kazakhstan Ex PRABAL DOSTYK, Ex KAZIND
Kyrgyzstan Ex KHANJAR
Mongolia Ex NOMADIC ELEPHANT
Tajikistan Ex  Farkhor

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Indian Army Updates

Marching ahead with technology absorption

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: What is Technology absorption in terms of disruptive technology (DT)?

Mains level: Challenges in Technology absorption

Why in the news? 

The Indian Army is observing the year 2024 as the ‘Year of Technology Absorption’.

  • The Indian military is moving in the right direction, but the challenge lies in sustaining technology absorption with a nuanced understanding of the requirements

What is Technology absorption in terms of disruptive technology (DT)?

It comprises Artificial intelligence, Autonomous Weapon Systems such as drones, sensors, robotics, space technology, and hypersonic weapon systems (also called Legacy Systems)

Challenges in Technology absorption:

  • Compatibility issues: Incorporating new technologies into existing structures or systems, known as legacy systems, can be challenging due to compatibility issues and the need for adaptation.
  • More time in Training and Skills Development: Ensuring that personnel are adequately trained to operate and maintain new technologies is crucial. The acquisition of technical skills and knowledge may require significant investment and time.
  • Lack of Resource: Limited resources, both financial and human, may constrain the absorption of technologies because need to require more funds to maintain preexisting military hardware. Due to this military has left very less amount of money to the absorption of technologies
  • Cybersecurity Concerns: With the integration of advanced technologies comes the risk of cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Safeguarding systems and networks against cyber-attacks becomes paramount.
  • Supply Chain Management: Dependence on external suppliers for critical components or technologies can introduce risks related to reliability, availability, and security of supply chains like fighter jet engine import from the USA

Technological Absorption needs to be governed organically:

  • Acknowledge the Sensitivity: Recognize existing vulnerabilities and sensitivities within the military structure and operations. Identify gaps between current capabilities and future needs.
  • Need to Understand Latest Technologies:  Understanding the latest advancements in technology and their potential applications in military operations. Understand the context in which these technologies can be effectively utilized.
  • Integrating at Unit-Level: Ensure that technology absorption is not limited to higher levels of command but is visibly manifested at the unit level. Democratize the use of technology to empower frontline personnel.
  • Macro-Level Aspects: Address macro-level aspects such as organizational restructuring, human resource management, cultivation of specialists at various levels, civil-military fusion, data integrity management, and procurement policies tailored for Defense Technologies (DTs).
  • Learn from Recent Wars: Analyze lessons learned from recent and ongoing conflicts to inform future planning and decision-making like the Russia Conflict

Mains question for practice 

Q Discuss the Challenges in Technology absorption in terms of disruptive technology (DT).And give suggestive measures to resolve the challenges

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Indian Army Updates

Grey Zone Warfare: Navigating the Space between Peace and Conflict

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Grey Zone Warfare

Mains level: Read the attached story

Grey Zone

In the news

  • In contemporary international relations, the concept of grey zone warfare has gained prominence, reflecting a complex space between overt conflict and peace.
  • This nuanced form of warfare encompasses a spectrum of activities aimed at advancing national objectives while avoiding direct confrontation.

What is Grey Zone Warfare?

  • Middle Ground: Grey zone warfare denotes an ambiguous space where activities blur the distinction between peace and war.
  • Diverse Tactics: It encompasses a wide array of activities, including economic coercion, cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, proxy warfare, and territorial assertiveness, among others.

Historical Context and Rationale

  • Cold War Legacy: The conditions of the Cold War era, marked by nuclear deterrence between superpowers, spurred the adoption of grey zone tactics to avoid catastrophic escalation.
  • Resourceful Adversaries: Nations resort to grey zone tactics to advance their interests without triggering a full-scale conflict, particularly when faced with superior adversaries.
  • Examples of Grey Zone Warfare:
  1. South China Sea Disputes: China’s assertive actions in the South China Sea, including maritime militia presence and territorial claims, exemplify grey zone warfare. Confrontations with countries like the Philippines underscore the contentious nature of these tactics.
  2. Taiwan Strait Tensions: Chinese military maneuvers near Taiwan and Taiwan’s complaints of increased Chinese military activity highlight the use of grey zone strategies to pressure without provoking outright conflict.
  3. US-China Economic Rivalry: Economic sanctions, trade tariffs, and maritime reconnaissance efforts by the United States against China illustrate grey zone competition beyond military realms.

Motivations and Objectives

  • Covert Intentions: Grey zone tactics serve to advance strategic interests while maintaining plausible deniability and avoiding direct confrontation.
  • Escalation Management: Adversaries seek to exploit vulnerabilities and escalate tensions across multiple dimensions, complicating crisis management efforts.

Challenges and Responses

  • Complexity of Response: Grey zone warfare poses challenges in crafting appropriate responses, as actions are often covert and multifaceted.
  • Risk of Over-Escalation: Tactics such as baiting adversaries into escalation can lead to unintended consequences and heightened tensions, necessitating cautious crisis management.

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Indian Army Updates

[pib] Exercise ‘SADA TANSEEQ’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise ‘SADA TANSEEQ’

Mains level: Not Much

Introduction

  • The inaugural edition of the India-Saudi Arabia Joint Military Exercise ‘SADA TANSEEQ’ was commenced in Rajasthan.

Exercise ‘SADA TANSEEQ’

  • It is a joint military exercise conducted between the armed forces of India and Saudi Arabia.
  • The exercise is designed to enhance the capabilities and interoperability of the troops from both nations in conducting joint operations in semi-desert terrains.
  • It focuses on tactical training and sharing best practices in conducting operations in a sub-conventional domain.
  • The primary objective is to strengthen the bond, cooperation, and camaraderie between the Indian and Saudi Arabian armed forces.
  • It also serves as a platform for achieving shared security objectives and fostering bilateral relations between the two friendly nations.

Key components of the Exercise

  • The exercise typically involves various military training activities such as establishing mobile vehicle checkposts, conducting cordon and search operations, house intervention drills, reflex shooting, slithering, and sniper firing.
  • These activities help in building the capacity of the troops to work together effectively in semi-desert terrains, which can be crucial for addressing security challenges.

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Indian Army Updates

Operation Sarvashakti launched

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Operation Sarvashakti

Mains level: NA

Introduction

  • The Indian Army has initiated Operation Sarvashakti in the Rajouri-Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir to combat rising terrorist threats targeting security forces.
  • This article explores Operation Sarpvinash, a similar military operation conducted in the same region over two decades ago, shedding light on its objectives, significance, and historical context.

Operation Sarvashakti: The Need for Action

  • Escalating Threats: Recent years have witnessed three major terrorist attacks in the area, resulting in the loss of 20 soldiers.
  • Foreign Terrorist Presence: The region is known for hosting foreign terrorists, making it a significant security concern.
  • Enhancing Troop Presence: Operation Sarvashakti involves deploying additional troops to increase the density, thereby improving the chances of encounters with terrorists.

Reflecting on Operation Sarpvinash

  • Counter-Insurgency in 2003: Operation Sarpvinash was conducted by Indian forces in response to the growing insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Extensive Troop Deployment: Over about three months, around 10,000 troops from the 15 Corps and 16 Corps participated in the operation.
  • Aerial Support: Mi-17 helicopters facilitated troop transport to Hilkaka, a village seized by terrorists, while Lancer attack helicopters neutralized concrete bunkers built by infiltrators.
  • Decisive Outcomes: The operation led to the elimination of nearly 100 terrorists, significant arms and ammunition seizures, including explosives, and the dismantling of 40-50 terrorist hideouts.

Origins of Operation Sarpvinash

  • Post-Kargil War Scenario: With the Kargil war of 1999 fresh in memory and the aftermath of the December 2001 Parliament attack, Operation Parakram involved a substantial military mobilization along the Pakistan border.
  • Preparation in 2003: Operation Sarpvinash preparations began after intelligence reports indicated the presence of over 300 foreign terrorists who had infiltrated the Line of Control (LoC) and established secure camps in Surankote and Hilkaka.
  • Terrorist Control: These terrorists, affiliated with various Pakistan-based outfits, had created a demilitarized zone and asserted dominance, including the establishment of multiple hideouts and bunkers.

Strategic Significance

  • Crucial Location: The areas south of Mendhar leading to the Pir Panjal range through Hilkaka offer the shortest infiltration route from across the LoC into the Kashmir valley.
  • Infiltration Potential: Controlling this region provides a potential conduit for personnel during a Pakistani military operation and facilitates terrorist infiltration.
  • Natural Cover: Dense forests and steep mountain slopes offer natural concealment, allowing terrorists to evade Indian forces during searches and engage them strategically.

Post-Sarpvinash Scenario

  • Period of Peace: Following Operation Sarpvinash, the region experienced relative peace until 2017-18, despite ongoing terrorist incidents in the Kashmir valley.
  • Recent Escalations: However, since 2021, this area has witnessed a resurgence of high-intensity attacks on security forces.

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Indian Army Updates

BSF’s Jurisdiction Expansion: Punjab’s Challenge and Implications

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BSF's Jurisdiction

Mains level: Read the attached story

bsf

Introduction

  • In October 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs made a significant move by extending the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in certain states, leading to a legal dispute between the central government and the affected states.
  • This article examines the recent developments and the key issues surrounding the expansion of BSF’s jurisdiction.

Expansion of BSF Jurisdiction

  • Border Security Force (BSF): The BSF is India’s border guarding organization, tasked with securing the borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. It operates under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Notification: The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification in October 2021, expanding the BSF’s jurisdiction in specific states.
  • Changes in Jurisdiction:
    1. In Punjab, West Bengal, and Assam, the BSF’s jurisdiction was extended from 15 km to 50 km inland from the border.
    2. In Gujarat, the jurisdiction was reduced from 80 km to 50 km.
    3. Rajasthan’s jurisdiction remained unchanged at 50 km.

Legal Frameworks

  • Border Security Force Act: The Ministry of Home Affairs invoked the Border Security Force Act of 1968 to delineate the BSF’s jurisdiction.
  • Powers Exercised: The BSF’s jurisdiction extension applies only to specific powers granted under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and Passport Act, 1967.

Rationale behind BSF’s Jurisdiction Expansion

  • Historical Context: The BSF was established in 1965 to secure India’s borders. At that time, border regions were sparsely populated, and police stations were scarce.
  • Trans-Border Crimes: To combat trans-border crimes effectively, the BSF was empowered to arrest and search individuals within its jurisdiction.
  • Manpower Constraints: Despite the establishment of police stations near the border, staffing remained inadequate.

Issues Surrounding Border Regions

  • Challenges at Borders:
    1. Encroachment
    2. Illegal incursion
    3. Drug and cattle smuggling
  • Complementary Role: Expanding BSF’s jurisdiction was intended to complement the efforts of local police, enhancing cooperative measures rather than displacing state police authority.

Criticisms and Legal Challenges

  • Federalism Concerns: States argued that the extension of BSF’s jurisdiction encroached upon their powers related to police and public order, asserting their rights under the Constitution.
  • Lack of Consultation: The states also contended that the central government issued the notification without consulting the affected states.
  • Original Suit: The state of Punjab filed an ‘original suit’ against the central government in the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution, which grants the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction over disputes between the central government and states.
  • Approach: Punjab argued that the expansion compromised its legislative authority on policing matters and public order, emphasizing that a significant portion of its cities and towns would now fall within the 50-kilometre jurisdiction.

Ongoing Legal Battle

  • Exclusive Challenge: While West Bengal initially expressed opposition to the notification, currently, only Punjab’s challenge is tagged with the Supreme Court.
  • Key Considerations: The Supreme Court will assess the validity of the notification, examining whether it was arbitrary or backed by legitimate reasons. It will also weigh the impact on states’ powers under the Constitution and determine if uniformity is required in setting local limits for BSF’s jurisdiction.

Conclusion

  • The legal battle between the central government and the states over the expansion of BSF’s jurisdiction highlights the complex interplay between federalism, national security, and law enforcement.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision will have far-reaching implications for the distribution of powers between the center and the states in matters related to border security and policing.

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Indian Army Updates

Operation Sadbhavana by Indian Army

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Operation Sadbhavana

Mains level: Read the attached story

Operation Sadbhavana

Introduction

  • The Indian Army has recently adopted Topa Pir village in Poonch district, Jammu and Kashmir, as a model village under Operation Sadbhavana.

Operation Sadbhavana

  • Purpose: Operation Sadbhavana (Goodwill) is an initiative by the Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to address the needs of people affected by terrorism, primarily sponsored by Pakistan.
  • Welfare Activities: The operation includes running Army Goodwill Schools, infrastructure development projects, and educational tours for children in remote areas.
  • Focus on Education: There are seven Army Goodwill Schools under Operation Sadbhavana in the Ladakh Region, aiming to improve the standard of education.
  • Objectives: The operation aims to achieve national integration, women empowerment, employment generation, and development activities towards nation-building.
  • Collaborative Approach: Projects under Operation Sadbhavana are selected considering local aspirations and in coordination with the local civil administration.

Adoption of Topa Pir Village

  • Model Village Initiative: The Army’s adoption of Topa Pir village is a step towards creating a model village, with an emphasis on community development and welfare.
  • Recent Incidents: The village gained attention following a controversial incident involving the alleged torture of civilians by the Army, which led to the deaths of three individuals.
  • Community Relations: The incident has significantly impacted the relationship between the Army and the local Gujjar and Bakarwal communities, who predominantly inhabit areas near the Line of Control (LoC).

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Indian Army Updates

[pib] Exercise VINBAX 2023

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise VINBAX-2023

Mains level: Not Much

Exercise VINBAX

Central Idea

  • The Indian Armed Forces contingent, consisting of 45 personnel, has arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam, to participate in the fourth edition of the Joint Military Exercise VINBAX-2023.

Exercise VINBAX-2023

  • Inception: VINBAX was established in 2018, with its inaugural edition held in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India.
  • Annual Event: This training event is conducted annually, alternating between India and Vietnam. The last edition took place at Chandimandir Military Station in August 2022.
  • Collaborative Partnership: The exercise aims to foster collaborative partnerships and promote interoperability between the two nations.
  • Focus on Peacekeeping: It is aligned with Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter on Peace Keeping Operations.
  • Training Emphasis: The focus is on the deployment and employment of an Engineer Company and a Medical Team in a Command Post Exercise cum Field Training Exercise format.

Activities and Training Modules

  • Tactical Exchange: The exercise will facilitate the exchange of tactics, techniques, and procedures between the contingents.
  • Engineering and Medical Drills: Participants will share modern methods for constructing roads, culverts, helipads, ammunition shelters, and observation posts. Combat engineering and medical drills are also part of the training.
  • Validation Exercise: The exercise will conclude with a Validation Exercise to showcase the standards achieved by both contingents.

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Indian Army Updates

Project Udbhav: Rediscovering India’s Strategic Heritage for Modern Defense

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Project Udbhav

Mains level: Not Much

udbhav

Central Idea

  • The Indian Army has launched Project Udbhav, an initiative aimed at rediscovering the profound heritage of statecraft and strategic thinking from ancient Indian texts.

Project Udbhav

  • Project Udbhav is conducted in collaboration by Indian Army and the United Service Institution of India, a defense think-tank.
  • The primary goal is to comprehend the depths of indigenous military systems, their evolution, enduring strategies, and the strategic thought processes that have shaped the Indian subcontinent for millennia.
  • It delves into India’s rich historical narratives in the domains of statecraft and strategic thinking.
  • It encompasses indigenous military systems, historical texts, regional texts, kingdoms, thematic studies, and Kautilya Studies.

Why such move?

  • The initiative underscores the Indian Army’s recognition of India’s ancient wisdom in statecraft, strategy, diplomacy, and warfare.
  • It seeks to establish a connection between historical wisdom and contemporary needs.

Scholarly Outcomes and Ongoing Research

  • A study to compile Indian stratagems based on ancient texts has been ongoing since 2021.
  • A book listing 75 aphorisms selected from ancient texts has already been published under the initiative.
  • The first scholarly outcome is the 2022 publication titled “Paramparik Bhartiya Darshan…Ranniti aur Netriyta ke Shashwat Niyam,” which is meant to be read by all ranks of the Indian Army.
  • A recent panel discussion included a dialogue on the study of ancient texts ranging from the 4th century BCE to the 8th century CE, with a specific focus on Kautilya, Kamandaka, and the Kural.

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Indian Army Updates

Assam Rifles: Role, Controversies, and Historical Significance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Assam Rifles

Mains level: Manipur Riots

Assam Rifle

Central Idea

  • Recent events in Manipur have brought the Assam Rifles (AR) into the spotlight, raising questions about their role, control, and functioning.
  • As India’s oldest paramilitary force with a rich history, the Assam Rifles’ unique structure and dual control have sparked debates over its jurisdiction and the ministries under which it operates.

About Assam Rifles: A Unique Role

  • Central Armed Police Force: AR is one of six central armed police forces (CAPFs) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). It safeguards Northeastern regions, the Indo-Myanmar border, and assists the Indian Army in maintaining law and order.
  • Operational Duality: Uniquely, AR operates under dual control: administrative control under MHA and operational control under the Indian Army. This sets it apart from other CAPFs.
  • Composition and Leadership: With over 63,000 personnel across 46 battalions, AR follows a regimented structure similar to the Indian Army. Its senior ranks are manned by Army officers, and the force is commanded by an Indian Army Lieutenant General.

Historical Significance and Contributions:

  • Ancient Roots: Established in 1835, AR is India’s oldest paramilitary force. It originated as Cachar Levy and evolved into Assam Rifles, earning accolades for its service.
  • World Wars and Beyond: AR participated in World Wars and the Sino-Indian war of 1962. Its efforts in both global conflicts and anti-insurgency campaigns underline its diverse roles.
  • Versatility and Valor: AR’s combat role in World War II, counter-Japanese operations, and contribution to India’s peacekeeping missions in Sri Lanka speak to its versatility and bravery.

Controversial Encounter in Manipur

  • Accusations and Escapes: Manipur Police filed an FIR against the AR, alleging hindrance in their duty. The AR is accused of allowing suspected Kuki militants to evade capture. A video showing the tense exchange highlights concerns of collusion.
  • Voices of Discontent: Demands to remove AR from Manipur have arisen, with the Meira Paibis demanding their exit and the state’s BJP writing to the Prime Minister, alleging bias. These events underscore the complexity of AR’s presence in the region.

Tensions and Accusations

  • Recent Incident: A clash occurred when Assam Rifles vehicles hindered state police personnel from Meitei-dominated Bishnupur district from entering a Kuki-Zomi territory. Allegations arose that the Assam Rifles’ actions enabled suspected Kuki militants, accused of killing three Meitei men, to escape.
  • Perceptions of Bias: Some members of the Meitei community perceive the Assam Rifles as favoring the Kuki-Zomi community. These perceptions, along with allegations of inaction during conflicts, have further strained relations.
  • Protests and Demands: Meira Paibis, women activists from the Meitei community, staged protests demanding the removal of Assam Rifles from Manipur. They claim that Indian security forces are being used against the Meiteis.
  • Suspicion over Collusion: Meitei activists question how suspected militants managed to cross the buffer zone and commit the killings. They criticize the perceived inaction of Assam Rifles personnel during attacks by the Kuki-Zomi.
  • Longstanding Grievances: Beyond the current conflict, Meiteis raise concerns about illegal immigration from Myanmar. They point to the Assam Rifles’ historical responsibility for the Indo-Myanmar border and alleged inaction.

Historical Strain with AFSPA

  • Historical Tensions: Assam Rifles has faced strained relations with Manipur’s residents, particularly during counter-insurgency operations under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
  • Symbolic Resistance: The 2004 incident where 12 Meitei women protested naked in front of the Assam Rifles Headquarters reflected the deep-rooted grievances and tensions present in the region.

Debate over Control

  • Tug of War: Both the MHA and Ministry of Defence (MoD) desire full control over AR. MHA argues for comprehensive border-guarding coordination, while the Army believes in maintaining the current system, which has worked well.
  • Past Proposals: In 2013 and 2019, discussions were held to merge AR with BSF and ITBP, respectively. The Army’s desire for control has led to ongoing deliberations.

Conclusion

  • The Assam Rifles embody a legacy of service, transcending decades and challenges.
  • As the debate over control continues, the AR’s role as protectors of borders and preservers of history remains unwavering, a testament to their resilience and valor.

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The abolition of cantonments: What does it entail for urban local bodies?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: urban local bodies

Mains level: disbanding cantonments and its advantages and disadvantages and challenges for urban local bodies

Central Idea

  • Recently, the Ministry of Defence took a significant step towards disbanding cantonments in India with the notification for the abolition of Yol Cantonment in Himachal Pradesh. This move is part of a larger plan to convert military areas into exclusive military stations, while merging civilian areas with neighboring urban local bodies (ULBs).

Historical Context

  • The 62 cantonments spread unevenly across the country are considered archaic colonial legacies that originated after the East India Company’s victory in the battle of Plassey.
  • These cantonments were primarily established for quartering troops, but over time, civilian populations settled within their jurisdictions to provide support services.
  • The current administration of cantonments is under cantonment boards, which function as deemed municipalities and perform civic duties similar to ULBs

Their features

  • Cantonment Boards are democratic bodies comprising elected and nominated members.
  • In terms of Entry 3 of the Union List (Schedule VII) of the Constitution of India, Urban Self Governance of the Cantonments and the Housing Accommodation therein is the subject matter of the Union.
  • The Station Commander of the Cantonment is the ex-officio President of the Board, and an officer of the IDES or Defence Estates Organisation is the Chief Executive Officer who is also the Member-Secretary of the Board.
  • They have equal representation of elected and nominated/ex-officio members to balance official representation with democratic composition.
  • They maintain ecological balance while providing better civic facilities to the residents.

What is the plan?

  • The plan is to carve out the military areas in all cantonments and convert them into “exclusive military stations” with the Army exercising “absolute control” over them.
  • The civilian areas, in turn, will be merged with the local municipalities, which will be responsible for their maintenance among other things.

Advantages for the Military

  • Focus on Core Responsibilities: By separating civilian areas from military stations, the military commanders would be relieved of non-military responsibilities. This would allow them to concentrate more on their core duties, such as training troops and maintaining war preparedness.
  • Elimination of Political Involvement: In some instances, army officers have found themselves getting involved in local politics within cantonments, despite lacking background and training in this area. The merger of civilian areas into ULBs would reduce the army’s involvement in local political matters.
  • Homogeneous Management: The merger would enable uniform and homogeneous management of military stations strictly under the control of the army. This would facilitate streamlined decision-making processes and enhance operational efficiency within military establishments.
  • Enhanced Security: With civilian areas separated from military stations, there is a potential improvement in security arrangements. Military installations can implement stricter security measures without concerns about civilian populations living in close proximity.
  • Increased Flexibility: Without the burden of managing civilian functions, the military can respond more flexibly to changing security needs and allocate resources more effectively. This flexibility can enhance the overall operational capabilities and readiness of the armed forces.

Benefits for Civilian Residents

  • Property Regulations: Relief from restrictive property regulations, making it easier for residents to transfer, mutate, and develop properties without excessive limitations.
  • Reduced Inconvenience: Mitigation of road closures within cantonments, resulting in less inconvenience for civilian residents in terms of movement and transportation.
  • Access to Welfare Schemes: Integration with ULBs grants civilians access to social welfare schemes provided by the government, which were previously unavailable due to the cantonment’s non-plan sector status.
  • Economic Opportunities: Removal of stifling restrictions on construction and economic activities encourages growth and urbanization in merged areas, potentially boosting employment and economic opportunities for residents.
  • Municipal Laws: Residents come under the jurisdiction of ULBs, ensuring that municipal laws and services are applicable to them, leading to better governance and provision of essential services such as water supply, sanitation, education, and street lighting.

Potential Concerns

  • Uncontrolled Construction: There is a possibility that the merger of cantonment areas into ULBs may lead to uncontrolled construction and commercialization, particularly in hill station cantonments. This could result in the loss of the charm and environmental integrity of these areas.
  • Insufficient Services: ULBs may struggle to provide quality services and governance to the merged areas. Existing cities already face challenges in delivering services, and the addition of new areas with limited revenue may further strain the capacity of ULBs, potentially resulting in inadequate infrastructure, healthcare, and other essential services.
  • Environmental Impact: The removal of restrictions on construction and economic activities may have negative environmental consequences, such as increased pollution, strain on natural resources, and encroachment on ecologically sensitive areas. Proper environmental safeguards should be in place to mitigate these potential impacts.
  • Resistance to Resource Allocation: Existing councillors and political constituencies may resist diverting funds from their own areas to support the merged areas. This resistance could impede the equitable distribution of resources and hinder the development and provision of essential services in the merged areas.
  • Capacity Constraints: ULBs may struggle with limited manpower, technical expertise, and administrative capacities to effectively govern and manage the merged areas. The sudden addition of new areas may overwhelm the existing administrative setup, hindering their ability to provide efficient and responsive governance.
  • Revenue Generation: Merged cantonment areas may have limited revenue-generating potential, which can pose challenges for ULBs in generating sufficient funds to sustain and improve services. The existing revenue streams of ULBs may need to be re-evaluated, and new strategies for revenue generation may need to be implemented to support the merged areas.

Way forward

  • Comprehensive Planning: The government should undertake comprehensive urban planning exercises to ensure orderly and sustainable development in the merged areas.
  • Strengthening ULBs: To address the challenges faced by ULBs, the government should provide adequate financial resources, technical support, and capacity-building programs.
  • Public Participation: Engaging the public and stakeholders in the planning and decision-making processes is crucial. This can be achieved through consultations, public hearings, and feedback mechanisms.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Regular monitoring and evaluation mechanisms should be established to assess the progress and impact of the merger. This would help identify any shortcomings or challenges and enable timely corrective measures to be implemented.
  • Collaborative Approach: Collaboration between the central and state governments, ULBs, and other relevant stakeholders is essential. A coordinated approach will facilitate effective decision-making, resource allocation, and the implementation of policies and programs.
  • Long-term Perspective: The merger should be viewed from a long-term perspective, considering the social, economic, and environmental implications. It is important to strike a balance between development aspirations and the preservation of the cultural and environmental heritage of the merged areas

Conclusion

  • The decision to merge civilian areas of cantonments with ULBs carries both advantages and challenges. While the military stands to benefit from the separation, civilians can expect relief from restrictive regulations and improved access to welfare schemes. However, concerns about uncontrolled development and the ability of ULBs to deliver quality services warrant attention. Future mergers emphasize the need for government intervention to adequately fund cities and support their expanding responsibilities.

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Indian Army Updates

[pib] Exercise SALVEX

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise SALVEX

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The Indian Navy and the US Navy recently concluded the seventh edition of the Salvage and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) exercise, known as SALVEX.

Exercise SALVEX

  • Since its inception in 2005, SALVEX has facilitated the exchange of expertise and the enhancement of capabilities in maritime salvage and EOD operations.
  • The IN-USN SALVEX exercise has become a cornerstone of bilateral naval cooperation between India and the United States, fostering mutual trust and collaboration.
  • The exercise featured the participation of INS Nireekshak and USNS Salvor, along with Specialist Diving and EOD teams from both navies.

Key outcomes

  • Shared Learning on Maritime Salvage: The Diving teams from both countries engaged in the exchange of experiences, lessons, and best practices in maritime salvage operations.
  • Training Synergies on EOD Operations: The exercise provided an ideal platform for joint training exercises, allowing divers and EOD teams to enhance their interoperability and refine their skills.
  • Mastery of Mine Detection and Neutralization: The participating divers received comprehensive training in the detection and neutralization of mines, enabling them to mitigate potential threats in underwater environments.
  • Efficient Wreck Location and Salvage Techniques: The exercise focused on honing the teams’ abilities to locate and salvage wrecks, a critical skill for ensuring safe navigation and effective disaster response.

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Indian Army Updates

[pib] Ex Khaan Quest 2023

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ex Khaan Quest 2023

Mains level: Not Much

khaan

Central Idea: The multinational peacekeeping joint exercise, Ex Khaan Quest 2023, has commenced in Mongolia, with the participation of military contingents and observers from over 20 countries.

Ex Khaan Quest 2023

  • This 14-day exercise aims to enhance interoperability, share experiences, and provide training for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO).
  • The exercise is co-sponsored by the Mongolian Armed Forces (MAF) and the United States Army Pacific Command (USARPAC).
  • The Indian Army, represented by a contingent from the GARHWAL RIFLES, is actively involved in this endeavor.

Agenda of the exercise

  1. Fostering Interoperability: This Exercise focuses on strengthening interoperability among participating nations, facilitating better coordination during joint operations.
  2. Sharing Experience: The exercise provides a platform for sharing experiences and best practices among military personnel involved in UNPKO, enabling them to learn from each other’s expertise.
  3. Training for UN Peacekeeping: Participants will be trained for future UN Peacekeeping missions, ensuring they possess the necessary skills and capabilities to carry out peace operations effectively.
  4. Diverse Training Components: The exercise encompasses various training elements such as Command Post Exercise (CPX), Field Training Exercises (FTX), combat discussions, lectures, and demonstrations.

Back2Basics: UN Peacekeeping

  • UN Peacekeeping was established in 1948 to maintain international peace and security.
  • The first mission was deployed in 1948 for the Arab-Israeli conflict ceasefire.
  • Its missions involve soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel known as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets.
  • Guided by principles of consent, impartiality, and limited use of force, UN Peacekeeping deploys approximately 81,820 personnel from 119 countries in 13 missions worldwide.
  • With their assistance, UN Peacekeeping promotes peace, stability, and humanitarian aid globally.

Major Contributors to UN Peacekeeping:

  • India: Largest troop contributor, with over 253,000 personnel in 49 missions.
  • Bangladesh: Second-largest contributor, with over 150,000 personnel deployed since 1988.

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Indian Army Updates

OROP and The Challenges of Right-Sizing in the Armed Forces

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: OROP, Agniveer scheme

Mains level: One Rank One Pension challenges and way forward

Armed Forces

Central Idea

  • In recent times, two prominent ideas, right-sizing and Atmanirbharta, have gained traction in the Armed Forces. However, it is essential to recognize that both these initiatives have their shortcomings and are rooted in the flawed implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme. These policies have far-reaching consequences and necessitate a critical evaluation to ensure the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of our armed forces

What is One Rank One Pension (OROP) Policy?

  • OROP means the same pension, for the same rank, for the same length of service, irrespective of the date of retirement.
  • The concept was provoked by the then decision by Indira Gandhi-led government, in 1973, two years after the historic victory in the 1971 Bangladesh war

Implications of OROP

  • Enhanced Pension Benefits: OROP brings parity and fairness by addressing the concerns of veterans who felt their pensions were unjustly lower compared to their counterparts who retired earlier. This leads to improved financial security for retired armed forces personnel and their families.
  • Motivation and Morale: OROP addresses long-standing grievances regarding pension disparities and recognizes the sacrifices made by veterans. The assurance of fair and equal pensions enhances the sense of dignity, honor, and respect for those who have served in the armed forces.
  • Social Security: OROP enhances the financial security and social welfare of retired armed forces personnel and their families. It provides them with a stable and predictable income during their post-retirement years, ensuring a decent standard of living and supporting their well-being
  • Financial Burden: OROP entails providing equal pension benefits to all military personnel retiring at the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. This results in an increased financial burden on the government, as it has to allocate additional funds to fulfill the pension requirements.
  • Impact on Modernization: The financial implications of implementing OROP may impact the allocation of funds for modernization and procurement of advanced equipment and technologies. The increased pension expenditure could limit the resources available for upgrading the armed forces’ capabilities, affecting their preparedness and modernization efforts.
  • Sustainability and Budgetary Constraints: Sustaining the OROP scheme in the long term poses challenges due to the increasing pension liabilities. The government needs to ensure that the pension system remains financially viable and sustainable, considering the rising life expectancy and the expanding pool of retired armed forces personnel.

Challenges in Rightsizing and Strategic Decision-making

  • Improved Insurgency Situation: The considerably improved insurgency situation in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly south of Banihal, has prompted a reassessment of force requirements. While progress has been made in countering militancy, the dilution of manpower without compensatory measures, such as state-of-the-art equipment, poses challenges to sustaining effective counter-insurgency operations.
  • The Northeast and Counter-insurgency: The transfer of counter-insurgency responsibilities from the Army to the Assam Rifles in the Northeast region represents a significant shift. While relieving the Army of secondary responsibilities is reasonable, reducing combat strength without adequate compensation in terms of advanced equipment may impact the effectiveness of operations, particularly in regions with ongoing ethnic conflicts like Manipur.

Zero Recruitment and Adverse Impact

  • Manpower Deficiency: The absence of recruitment for two-and-a-half years until June 2022 has created significant voids in personnel strength, particularly affecting combat units. The mounting deficiencies, amounting to 1,80,000 personnel in the Army alone, have strained operational capabilities and increased the burden on existing forces.
  • Combat Readiness and Strategic Concerns: The adverse impact of zero recruitment and constant personnel retirements has had serious repercussions on combat units, including those deployed in sensitive areas like Ladakh against the Chinese PLA.

Way ahead: Need for Rightsizing and Strategic Evaluation

  • Effective Allocation of Resources: Rightsizing involves optimizing the allocation of resources, including manpower, equipment, and finances, to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. It helps in aligning the available resources with the desired objectives and operational requirements.
  • Enhanced Operational Readiness: By conducting a strategic evaluation, the armed forces can assess their current capabilities and identify areas for improvement. This evaluation helps in identifying gaps and addressing them to enhance operational readiness and combat effectiveness.
  • Financial Sustainability: Rightsizing allows for a more sustainable financial model by ensuring that the allocated funds are utilized efficiently. It helps in managing the budgetary constraints and reducing unnecessary expenditures, allowing resources to be redirected towards critical areas such as modernization and technological advancements.
  • Adapting to Changing Threat Landscape: Strategic evaluation helps in assessing the evolving security threats and challenges faced by the nation. It enables the armed forces to adapt and realign their structure, capabilities, and operational concepts to effectively counter emerging threats and maintain a credible deterrence posture.
  • Optimal Utilization of Human Resources: Rightsizing involves assessing the manpower requirements and aligning them with the operational needs. It helps in ensuring that the armed forces have the right personnel in the right positions, adequately trained and equipped to fulfill their roles and responsibilities.
  • Modernization and Technological Upgrades: Strategic evaluation provides an opportunity to prioritize modernization initiatives and technological upgrades. It enables the armed forces to invest in cutting-edge equipment, systems, and platforms that enhance their combat capabilities and maintain technological superiority.
  • Operational Flexibility and Agility: Rightsizing and strategic evaluation enable the armed forces to achieve operational flexibility and agility. It allows for the formation of versatile and adaptable units, capable of responding to a wide range of contingencies and operating in diverse environments.
  • Long-Term Sustainability: By aligning the force structure, resources, and operational requirements, rightsizing and strategic evaluation contribute to the long-term sustainability of the armed forces. It ensures that the military remains capable and resilient, able to meet the nation’s security needs effectively

Conclusion

  • While the ideas of right-sizing and Atmanirbharta may seem appealing, it is crucial to critically analyze their implementation and potential ramifications. The flawed execution of the OROP scheme and subsequent policies have placed a burden on the Armed Forces, affecting their modernization efforts. It is imperative to strike a balance between optimizing resources and ensuring the security and preparedness of our forces.

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In news: One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme

 

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Indian Army Updates

In news: One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: OROP Scheme

Mains level: Pension debate in India

The government told the Supreme Court that paying all dues to 1.6 million army pensioners under the OROP scheme in one go may not be in the nation’s larger interest as it could disrupt allocations for other public purposes.

What is OROP Policy?

  • OROP means the same pension, for the same rank, for the same length of service, irrespective of the date of retirement.
  • The concept was provoked by the then decision by Indira Gandhi-led government, in 1973, two years after the historic victory in the 1971 Bangladesh war.

Origin of the debate

  • The Rank pay was a scheme implemented by the Rajiv Gandhi-led govt in 1986, in the wake of the 4th Central Pay Commission.
  • It reduced the basic pay of seven armed officers’ ranks of 2nd Lieutenant, Lieutenant, Captain, Majors, Lt. Colonel, Colonels, Brigadiers, and their equivalent by fixed amounts designated as rank pay.

Implementation

  • In 2008, Manmohan Singh led Government in the wake of the Sixth Central Pay Commission (6CPC), which discarded the concept of rank-pay.
  • Instead, it introduced Grade pay, and Pay bands, which instead of addressing the rank, pay, and pension asymmetries caused by ‘rank pay’ dispensation, reinforced existing asymmetries.
  • The present government has accepted the OROP and disbursed some funds for its implementation.

Issues with this pension policy

  • The issues, veterans emphasize, are of justice, equity, honor, and national security.
  • The failure to address the issue of pay-pension equity, and the underlying issue of honor, is not only an important cause for the OROP protest movement but its escalation.

Present status

  • The govt has already released Rs. 5500 crores to serve the purpose, but still, there are some grievances from the veterans’ side.
  • It refined Pensions for all pensioners retiring in the same rank as the average of the minimum and maximum pensions in 2013.
  • The veterans noted governments’ proposal as one rank many pensions since the review of 5 years would lead to differences in pension between senior and a junior.

 

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Indian Army Updates

PM named 21 Andaman Islands after Param Vir Chakra recipients

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Param Vir Chakra

Mains level: Not Much

param vir chakra

Prime Minister named 21 largest unnamed islands of Andaman & Nicobar Islands after India’s 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees.

Note: Earlier, Ross Island was renamed Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Dweep by the Prime Minister during his visit to the Island in 2018. Neil Island and Havelock Island were also renamed Shaheed Dweep and Swaraj Dweep.

Here’s the full list of 21 islands renamed after Param Vir Chakra awardees:

  1. Dhan Singh Island after Lieutenant Colonel (then Major) Dhan Singh Thapa
  2. Tarapore Island after Lt Col Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore
  3. Karam Singh Island after Lance Naik (Hony. Captain) Karam Singh
  4. Bana Island after Naib Subedar Bana Singh
  5. Ekka Island after Lance Naik Albert Ekka
  6. Khetrapal Island after 2nd Lt Arun Khetrapal
  7. Pandey Island after Lt Manoj Kumar Pandey
  8. Hoshiar Island after Major Hoshiar Singh
  9. Shaitan Island after Major Shaitan Singh
  10. Jadunath Island after Nayak Jadunath Singh
  11. Yogender Island after Subedar Major (Hony. Captain) Yogendra Singh Yadav
  12. Hamid Island after Company Quartermaster Havildar (CQMH) Abdul Hamid
  13. Rane Island after 2nd Lt Rama Raghoba Rane
  14. Ramaswamy Island after Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran
  15. Batra Island after Captain Vikram Batra
  16. Joginder Island after Subedar Joginder Singh
  17. Salaria Island after Captain G S Salaria (then Major)
  18. Piru Island after Company Havildar Major Piru Singh
  19. Somnath Island after Major Somnath Sharma
  20. Sekhon Island after Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon
  21. Sanjay Island after Subedar Major (then Rifleman) Sanjay Kumar

About Param Vir Chakra (PVC)

  • The PVC is India’s highest military decoration, awarded for displaying distinguished acts of valour during wartime.
  • Till now, the medal has been awarded 21 times, of which 14 were posthumous and 16 arose from actions in Indo-Pakistani conflicts.
  • Of the 21 awardees, 20 have been from the Indian Army, and one has been from the Indian Air Force.
  • Major Somnath Sharma of the Kumaon Regiment was the first recipient.
  • Others wartime gallantry awards are Mahavir Chakra, Vir Chakra; and peacetime gallantry awards include- Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra.

History of gallantry awards in India

  • The history of present-day Indian gallantry awards can be traced back to the rule of the East India Company.
  • The first formal award was instituted by Lord William Bentinck in 1834 as the Order of Merit, later renamed the Indian Order of Merit in 1902.
  • During the First World War, the British awards system was adopted and continued through the Second World War.
  • Post-independence, new awards were instituted on 26 January 1950, with retroactive effect from 15 August 1947.
  • The PVC is equivalent to the Victoria Cross in the United Kingdom and the Medal of Honor in the United States.

 

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Indian Army Updates

Women to get Command Roles in the Indian Army

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Women in Armed Forces

women

As many as 108 women officers in the Army are set to be cleared for the rank of Colonel (selection grade) which will make them eligible to command units and troops in their respective arms and services for the first time.

What exactly does Commanding a unit mean?

  • Once promoted to a Colonel, an officer is eligible to command troops directly in the Army, which is an acknowledgment of the leadership qualities of the officer.
  • It is considered a coveted appointment because in no other rank — including higher ranks like Brigadier or Major General — does an officer interact directly with troops on the ground.
  • Women officers in many streams of the Army, including the Army Air Defence, Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, EMEs, Army Ordnance Corps, and Intelligence Corps will be commanding units.

Women in commands: Significance

  • Leadership opportunity: Despite working at the grassroots level as junior officers, women officers hitherto did not get an opportunity to prove their leadership skills as they were not eligible to command a unit.
  • Gender parity: Most importantly, it grants women officer’s parity with their male counterparts.
  • Higher ranks: Earlier promotions were staff appointments — which are more administrative in nature and not purely command appointments in which an officer commands troops on ground.
  • Benefits after permanent commission: With a longer career in the Army, women officers will be considered for promotions, including to the rank of Colonel and beyond.

Why did their Colonel promotions come so late?

  • An officer in the Army is promoted to the rank of Colonel only after serving between 16 and 18 years, based on certain criteria such as annual confidential reports and various courses.
  • Women officers who were inducted into the Army were inducted as Short Service Commission (SSC) officers in 1992 and in the years after did not have the choice to opt for permanent commission.

Supreme Court order affirming Permanent Commission

  • In 2019, the Army changed its rules allowing SSC women officers to opt for permanent commission who would have otherwise retired after 14 years of service.
  • However, this was not retrospective and applied only to the batches of women officers starting their career in the Army in 2020.
  • With the landmark Supreme Court judgment of February 2020, permanent commission was granted to women officers with retrospective effect.
  • This opened the doors for their further growth and promotions in the Army, which has been of late opening leadership and higher management courses for women.

How are women still discriminated?

  • Women are still not eligible in core combat arms such as Infantry, Mechanised Infantry and Armoured Corps.
  • Indian Army is not open to women fighting wars at the borders as foot soldiers.
  • Much of this resistance stems from past instances of male soldiers being taken as prisoners of war and tortured by the enemy.
  • However, the Army has recently decided to open the Corps of Artillery, a combat support arm, to women.

What about the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force?

  • Women officers have been inducted into all branches of the Navy, and they will be eligible for permanent commission in the future.
  • Women officers can command shore-based units and, as they join the service and become eligible for permanent commission, they would be able to command ships and air squadrons.
  • The IAF has opened all branches for women officers, including the fighter stream and the new weapon systems branch.
  • As they are granted permanent commission based on eligibility and vacancies, they will be eligible to command units in the future.

How many women serve in the Indian armed forces?

  • The Army, being the largest of the three services, has the largest number of women officers at 1,705, followed by 1,640 women officers in the IAF, and 559 in the Navy.
  • This data was submitted by the government to Parliament last year.

 

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Agnipath Scheme game changer says PM

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Agnipath Scheme, Agniveers

Mains level: Indian Army

unsc

The Agnipath scheme for recruitment is a “transformative policy” which will be a “game changer” in strengthening the armed forces, said the Prime Minister.

What is Agnipath Scheme?

  • This will be the only form of recruitment of soldiers into the three defence services from now.
  • Recruits under the scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’.
  • After completing the four-year service, they can apply for regular employment in the armed forces.
  • They may be given priority over others for various jobs in other government departments.
  • The move is expected to decrease the average age profile of armed forces personnel from the current 32 to 24-26 years over a period of time.

Working of the scheme

  • The process of recruitment will commence in 90 days with a planned intake of 46,000 young men and women this year.
  • Enrolment to all three services will be through a centralized online system, with special rallies and campus interviews at recognized technical institutes.
  • Recruitment will be carried out on an “All India All Class” basis with the eligibility age ranging from 17.5 to 21, with medical and physical fitness standards in accordance with existing norms.

Payouts of the Agniveers

  • The ‘Agniveers’ will receive an annual package of ₹4.76 lakh in the first year to ₹6.92 lakh in the fourth year, apart from risk and hardship and other allowances as applicable.
  • Under the ‘Seva Nidhi’ package, they will receive about ₹11.71 lakh, including contribution and interest, on completion of service.
  • The recruits will have to contribute 30% of their monthly emoluments to Seva Nidhi, with a matching contribution made by the government.
  • There will be no entitlement to gratuity and pension benefits under the scheme.
  • However, the ‘Agniveers’ will be provided a non-contributory life insurance cover of ₹48 lakh during their service.

Why are aspirants protesting?

  • Contractualisation of armed forces: The foundation of this scheme is a four-year contract.
  • Jobs for the majority: States such as Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, are where the bulk of the Army recruitment takes place.
  • Perks and benefits: Many of these people value job stability, which includes retirement benefits and pensions over competitive salaries.
  • Uncertainty after end of commission: Most of them will be forced to leave the job within four years, which doesn’t fit into their hopes and aspirations.
  • Casualization of Training: It reportedly takes two to three years to train a member of the army, but as a part of the Agnipath, soldiers will only be trained for six months.
  • Threats to national security: Defence analysts have allegedly pointed out that the Russian soldiers who were trained for a limited amount of time before they went to war have performed disastrously.
  • Conflicts of interest: Apprehensions have been voiced against how the new recruits will be adjusted in the existing system under which most of the Army units are region, caste or class-based.

Reasons behind aspirants’ frustration

  • Unemployment: Analysts always cite the crunch of gazetted officers in the Armed forces and there has been no recruitment for the last two years.
  • Pandemic impact: Many aspirants lost their chance to join the Armed forces as they are now overage.’
  • Unanticipated reforms: In guise of a push for “major defence policy reform”, the scheme is a fuss.
  • Coaching mafias: Coaching mafias have played a significant role in sparking and provoking protesters.

Need for the Scheme: Official explanation

  • Budgetary efficiency: With the largest volunteer army in the world, paying an increased salary and pension bill, given rising incomes all around, has steadily eroded the capital side of the defence budget.
  • Preferential treatment: For job-seekers, the government has already said they will get priority in the Central Armed Police Forces.
  • Promotional avenues: One significant advantage of this scheme would be the much lower age profile of the service. It will increase the promotional avenues of the permanent cadre.
  • Diverse career options: Once retired, aspirants will be free to pursue other careers, with several departments and governments.
  • Selective skilling: Aspirants will get preference, educational credits, skill certificates, to help them rehabilitate in other fields.
  • Financial assistance: Those wishing to be entrepreneurs will get a financial package and bank loans and those wishing to study further will be given 12 class equivalent certificate.

Way forward

  • Longer contract term: Make the period of the contract for new recruits longer than four years. The present clarification fails to address this issue.
  • Continuance of the commission: Relook the 25 per cent re-enlistment at the end of the contractual period. Ideally, it should be over 50 per cent retention for long-term posts.
  • Policy commitment for reabsorption: For those leaving after their short service, do obtain a binding commitment from CAPFs, states’ police forces and other organisations that they are willing to absorb this trained military manpower.
  • Gradual shift in recruitment policy: Continue with existing regular enrolment, in reduced numbers, and gradually shift to the Tour of Duty once it stabilizes after five to ten years.

Conclusion

  • A nation should never compromise with the personnel who make up the fighting sinews of its armed forces.
  • The best way to prevent such an impression is to look upon them not as a burden to the exchequer, but as rough diamonds, to be cut and polished to their maximum capabilities and then deployed in the defence of the nation.
  • A diamond is forever, our future men and women in uniform too deserve to serve to their maximum for the betterment of the nation and their own lives.

 

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Indian Army Updates

In news: Exercise Yudh Abhyas

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise Yudh Abhyas

Mains level: Not Much

China expressed concern over the India-US joint military exercise Yudh Abhyas being held in Uttarakhand, about 100 km from the LAC.

Exercise Yudh Abhyas

  • Exercise Yudh Abhyas is the largest running joint military training and defence cooperation endeavour between India and the US.
  • The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation and interoperability between the two armies.
  • Interestingly, this is the only India-US service exercise continuing in bilateral format.

Why in news?

  • The disengagement of troops is still under process after several rounds of talks between India and China.
  • Since beginning in May 2020, Chinese and Indian forces faced off in clashes with rocks, batons, and clubs wrapped in barbed wire at multiple locations along the LAC.
  • Differing perceptions of border demarcations along the LAC is the reason behind.
  • Each country seeks the withdrawal of the other’s forces and a return to the pre-stand-off conditions, but neither China nor India agreed to the conditions.

 

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Indian Army Updates

Pensionary benefits for Women in combat

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Women in Army

Combat

Context

  • The Supreme Court recently directed the Centre and the Indian Air Force to consider granting Permanent Commission to 32 retired women Short Service Commission (SSC) officers based on their suitability with the purpose of giving them pensionary benefits. The SC has, however, clarified that the retired women officers will only be considered for pension benefits and not salary arrears.

Background

  • The military opened its doors to women in 1992 when the Air Force inducted its first batch.
  • The landmark judgment came in which Justice Kishan Kaul (then with the High Court of Delhi) had hoped that “with expanding horizon of women’s participation in different walks of life, the armed forces would be encouraged to have larger participation of women in more areas of operation.”

combat

The case of women inducted into short service

  • The 32 retired women officers were inducted into short service commission between 1993 and 1998.
  • Though they were not granted permanent commission, their service was extended by six years and then then again for another four years.

Another Important verdict

  • In a landmark verdict on February 17, 2020, the top court had directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission, rejecting the Centre’s stand on their “physiological limitations” as being based on “sex stereotypes” and “gender discrimination against women”

combat

Permanent Commission (PC) Vs. Short Service Commission (SSC)

  • SSC means an officer’s career will be of a limited period in the Indian Armed Forces whereas a PC means they shall continue to serve in the Indian Armed Forces, till they retire.
  • The officers inducted through the SSC usually serve for a period of 14 years. At the end of 10 years, the officers have three options.
  • A PC entitles an officer to serve in the Navy till he/she retires unlike SSC, which is currently for 10 years and can be extended by four more years, or a total of 14 years.
  • They can either select for a PC or opt-out or have the option of a 4-years extension.
  • They can resign at any time during this period of 4 years extension.

Why males have ever dominated the armed forces?

  • Militaries across the world help entrench hegemonic masculine notions of aggressiveness, strength and heterosexual prowess in and outside their barracks.
  • The military training focuses on creating new bonds of brotherhood and camaraderie between them based on militarized masculinity.
  • This temperament is considered in order to enable conscripts to survive the tough conditions of military life and to be able to kill without guilt.
  • To create these new bonds, militaries construct a racial, sexual, gendered “other”, attributes of whom the soldier must routinely and emphatically reject.

combat

Struggle of women in combat role

  • Gender parity in forces still needs a relook: Though women have been in the forces since 1992 all roles and career options are not offered to them. Women have been allowed in combat in the Air Force, but we are yet to see women in combat roles in the army and navy.
  • Battle of acceptance: Acceptance of women in the military has not been smooth in any country. Every army has to mould the attitude of its society at large and male soldiers in particular to enhance acceptability of women in the military.
  • Adjusting with the masculine set up: To then simply add women to this existing patriarchal setup, without challenging the notions of masculinity, can hardly be seen as “gender advancement”.
  • Capabilities of women are questioned: Although women are equally capable, if not more capable than men, there might be situations that could affect the capabilities of women such as absence during pregnancy and catering to the responsibilities of motherhood, etc.
  • Physical and Physiological Issues: The natural physical differences in stature, strength, and body composition between the sexes make women more vulnerable to certain types of injuries and medical problems. The natural processes of menstruation and pregnancy make women particularly vulnerable in combat situations.

Conclusion

  • Women have been allowed in combat in the Air Force, but we are yet to see women in combat roles in the army and navy. Even though women have been in the forces since 1992 all roles and career options are not offered to them. Women in combat have still to fight for the equal opportunities and equal treatment.

Mains Question

Q. The Indian Army has sought to induct women into combat roles but equality remains a challenge on many fronts. Critically analyze.

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Indian Army Updates

India-China Relations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India china friction points

Mains level: Border security

ChinaContext

  • The National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), scheduled in October, promises to deliver important outcomes, which will impact not just China but affairs of other nations, neighbour and beyond. A look into India-china Relationship as china has always been hostile towards its neighbours.

Background

  • 1950
    • India and China established diplomatic relations on 1st April 1950.
    • India was the first non-socialist country to establish relations with the People’s Republic of China and the catchphrase ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’ became famous.
  • 1955
    • Both countries attended the Asian-African Conference in which 29 countries participated in Bandung, Indonesia and jointly advocated the Bandung Spirit of solidarity, friendship and cooperation.
    • It has led to the decolonisation of the whole of Asia and Africa and to the formation of a Non-Aligned Movement as the third Way between the Two Blocs of Superpowers.
    • The First NAM Summit Conference took place in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in September 1961.
  • 1962
    • The border conflict led to a serious setback in bilateral relations.
  • 1976
    • China and India restored ambassadorial relations and bilateral ties improved gradually.
  • 1988
    • Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited China, initiating the process of normalization of bilateral relations.
    • The two sides agreed to look forward and develop bilateral relations actively in other fields while seeking a mutually acceptable solution to boundary questions.

Areas of Cooperation

1.Political Relations

  • In 1993, Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on the India-China Border Areas was signed to bring stability and substance in bilateral ties.
  • In 2008, two countries have also extended their strategic and military relations.
  • MoU was signed to open an additional route for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through Nathu La.
  • India and China have also established a High Level Dialogue Mechanism on Counter Terrorism and Security
  • To facilitate exchanges between Indian states and Chinese provinces, States/Provincial Leaders Forum was established

 2.Commercial and Economic Relations

  • China will establish two Industrial Parks in India and expressed their intention to enhance Chinese investment in India
  • India extended e-visa facility to Chinese nationals
  • Trade and Economic Relationship are shaped through various dialogue mechanism
  • Joint Economic Group led by the Commerce Ministers of both sides
  • Strategic Economic Dialogues led by the Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog and the Chairman of National Development and Reform Commission of China

 3.Cultural Relations

  • India and China have entered into an agreement on co-production of movies
  • Yoga is becoming increasingly popular in China. China was one of the co-sponsors to the UN resolution designating June 21 as the International Day of Yoga

 4.Education Relations:

  • India and China signed Education Exchange Programme (EEP), which is an umbrella agreement for educational cooperation between the two countries.
  • Chinese students are also annually awarded scholarships to study Hindi at Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, to learn Hindi

 5.Indian Community:

  • Presently around 35,500 Indians are staying in China, students and working professional form a major part of it.
  • PICFA” Pondicherry India China friendship association is an NGO dedicated for developing people-to-people relation between India and China in areas of education, culture and tourism.

What are the recent anti- India moves by China?

  • China continues to stake its claim to Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet.
  • Beijing recently renamed 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh, following the six it had done in 2017.
  • China justifies the renaming as being done on the basis of its historical, cultural and administrative jurisdiction over the area — these old names existed since ancient times which had been changed by India with its “illegal occupation”.
  • On January 1, 2022, Beijing’s new land border law came into force, which provides the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with full responsibility to take steps against “invasion, encroachment, infiltration, provocation” and safeguard Chinese territory

China

What is the present situation of India-China relationship?

  • Troops in Ladakh: We have been on tenterhooks since the sanguinary Galwan clash of 2020, and borne a heavy cost for the “mirror-deployment” of 50,000-60,000 additional troops in Ladakh.
  • LAC negotiations: Sino-Indian diplomatic parleys having been suspended, the task of LAC negotiations has been foisted on local military commanders.
  • Truce for SCO: The 16th successive commanders’ meeting would have seen yet another futile conclusion, but for compulsions of the impending Shanghai Cooperative Organisation, which apparently led to a modest breakthrough. Consequently, the third round of troop disengagement and the creation of another buffer zone has taken place in Siachen, this time in the area of Gogra-Hot Springs.
  • Bilateral Trade: The India-China trade is on course to cross USD 100 billion for the second consecutive year as it has gone up to USD 67.08 billion in the first half of this year amid a big surge of Chinese exports.
  • “According to the statistics of Chinese competent authorities, bilateral trade volume between China and India stood at USD 125.66 billion in 2021.China remains the largest trade partner of India and for the first time the bilateral trade exceeded USD 100 billion in 2021.

China

Issue of concerns in India-China relations:

China-India border dispute: history shows solution may lie with Xi Jinping  and Narendra Modi | South China Morning Post

  • Belt Road Initiative: India has objected this, since its inception on grounds of violating its sovereignty pointing to China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
  • India’s support to China on global issues has not led to Beijing’s reciprocation for instances: China opposed India’s permanent membership to UN Security Council and entry into NSG.
  • India faces trade imbalance heavily in some favor of China. In 2017-18, trade deficit has gone wide to US$62.9 billion in China’s favor.
  • Two countries failed to resolve their border dispute and steadily established military infrastructure along border areas Indian media outlets have repeatedly reported Chinese military incursions into Indian territory
  • China has expressed concerns about Indian military and economic activities in the disputed South China Sea. Same way India is also concerned about rising Chinese activities in Indian Ocean.
  • China’s strong strategic bilateral relations with Pakistan and other neighboring countries like Nepal and Bhutan is cause of concern as these countries act as buffer states.

China

What are the options for India to learn from the past and see what lies ahead in India-China relations?

  • Inevitable Race: The prevailing tension on the China-India border is a symptom of the broader strategic competition between the two Asian neighbors.
  • Quad grouping: Immediately after the clashes, India leaned toward the Quad a grouping of the United States, Australia, Japan, and India with multiple summit meetings and other engagements. Until that point, India was unwilling to refer to the Quad as the Quad, instead using the cumbersome India-Australia-Japan-United States grouping.
  • Equal seriousness: Both sides should treat the military escalation in eastern Ladakh with equal seriousness.
  • Armed coexistence: Even after the resolution of the present standoff in eastern Ladakh, both sides may be in a prolonged period of armed coexistence as a new normal. As the forces on both sides are likely to be relatively balanced, it would be advantageous for both to return to the agreements and understandings from 1993 onward and improve upon them. Clarifying the LAC is a crucial step in this effort.
  • Address trade imbalance: India has flagged the unsustainable trade imbalance at the front and centre of the relationship, and this has gone unaddressed. China will need to work on resolving the trade deficit with India. At any rate, decoupling will happen selectively, in the same way and for the same reasons that China is choosing to decouple from the United States. A balanced trade and economic relationship might lay a solid foundation for future relations, given the size of both economies.
  • Dialogue is necessary: Better understanding of each other’s regional initiatives through open dialogue is important to build trust. The Indo-Pacific vision is as much a developmental necessity for India as the BRI may be to China. Part of building trust must be an open discussion on each other’s intentions in key regions South Asia and the northern Indian Ocean and East Asia and the western Pacific as well as respect for each other’s special positions in the western Pacific and northern Indian Oceans.
  • Protect the core interest: The two sides would need to accommodate the legitimate interests of the other side on key partnerships: China’s with Pakistan and India’s with the United States. These may not be desirable, but in the current circumstances neither will give up its partners, and both India and China could talk through a modus vivendi on the red lines of concern.

Conclusion

  • The two countries are standing at a crossroads, and this might be the final chance to take the path to coexistence of cooperation and competition. If not, a new phase of antagonistic rivalry may be starting, with the countries sliding into possible confrontation as the strategic periphery of China collides with the strategic backyard of India in the Indian Ocean region.

Mains Question

Q.India and china are the two Asian giants aspiring for regional supremacy and global influence, clash is unavoidable. Discuss how India and china can coexist together.

 

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Indian Army Updates

Competent Chief of Defence Staff

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CDS

Mains level: Security, Role of CDS

Chief of Defence StaffContext

  • The Government on September 28, 2022, appointed former Eastern Army Commander Lt. General Anil Chauhan as the next Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). The appointment comes more than nine months after the post fell vacant following the death of General Bipin Rawat.

What is the role of the Office of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)?

  • Mandate is to bring convergence in the functioning of the Army, the Navy and the Air force and bolster the country’s overall military prowess.
  • The CDS is a high military office that oversees and coordinates the working of the three Services, and offers seamless tri-service views and single-point advice to the Executive.
  • On long-term it provides for defence planning and management, including manpower, equipment and strategy, and above all, “joint manship” in operations.
  • The role of the CDS becomes critical in times of conflict.

Why is the need of CDS?

  • Tri-services coordination: The creation of the CDS will eventually lead to the formation of tri-service theatre commands intended to create vertical integration of the three forces.
  • Single-point military advisory: The CDS will be a single-point military adviser to the government and synergise long term planning, procurements, training and logistics of the three Services.
  • Efforts saving: This is expected to save money by avoiding duplication between the Services, at a time of shrinking capital expenditure within the defence budget.
  • Military diplomacy: This is today supporting conventional diplomacy. That can’t be done by different Services.

Chief of Defence StaffAll you need to know about the New Chief of Defence Staff (CDS): Lt. General Anil Chauhan

  • Indian Army: Born on May 18, 1961, Lt. Gen. Chauhan was commissioned into the 11 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in 1981.
  • Alumnus of NDA and IMA: He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
  • Career of 40 years: In a career spanning over nearly 40 years, Lt. Gen. Anil Chauhan had held several command, staff and instrumental appointments and had extensive experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East India.
  • As Major General: In the rank of Major General, he had commanded an Infantry Division in Baramula sector in Jammu and Kashmir
  • As Lt. General: As Lt. General, he commanded a Corps in the North East and subsequently became the Eastern Army Commander in September 2019 and held the charge until his retirement from service on May 31, 2021.
  • As Military Advisor to the NSA: Lt. Gen. Chauhan took over as the Military Advisor in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) from Lt. Gen. Vinod G. Khandare who stepped down from the post in October 2021

Chief of Defence StaffWhat are the challenges facing the new chief of Defence Staff?

  • Responsibility: In terms of prioritisation and building a bridge between a government in a hurry and an organisation that is resistant to change, shackled by tradition and plagued by continued turf battles that cannot be wished away.
  • Enhancing operational capability: To build operational capability at a pace that will ensure that the military power asymmetry vis-à-vis China remains manageable.
  • Integrated structure: The need to create fresh structures to support integrated training, planning and operations. India-specific requirements need to be addressed.
  • Articulated strategy: The requirement is in the area of policy, doctrines and strategy. Policies and doctrines are easier to evolve under the cover of clearly articulated national and military strategies. Though the strategic establishment is divided on the pressing need for a National Security Strategy (NSS), the CDS has his task cut out to link the NSS with transformation and expedite its promulgation
  • Maintaining balance: Balancing the need to retain the operational capability and the government’s push towards self-reliance in defence manufacturing. Considering that this push demands a paradigm shift in the thinking of India’s defence innovation and manufacturing ecosystem. One needs to look no further than the US, France and Israel to embrace this push. However, this again links to forcing the armed forces to step out of their comfort zone and develop diverse intellectual capital.
  • Shedding infructuous colonial legacies: Shedding several infructuous colonial legacies and traditions and fostering a sense of pride in India’s martial traditions that go back to epics such as the Mahabharata and to the Maratha and Chola empires.

Chief of Defence StaffConclusion

  • CDS should not hesitate to speak truth to power. He should be unbiased while taking tough decisions and should consider national interest above all else. In a rapidly evolving geopolitical and global security environment, in which India faces challenges across the conflict spectrum, the CDS need to undertake this task.

Mains Question

Q.In a rapidly evolving geopolitical and global security environment, India faces challenges across the conflict spectrum. Discuss the role of CDS in the joint preparations of the three forces in this context.

 

 

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Indian Army Updates

Why Nepal postponed Gorkhas’ recruitment under the Agnipath scheme?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gorkha regiment

Mains level: Indian Army

Nepal has postponed the recruitment rallies which were to be held in that country to recruit Gorkha soldiers for the Indian Army under the Agnipath scheme.

Why has Nepal postponed Agnipath recruitment rallies?

  • Nepal is of the opinion that this new form of entry into the Indian military is not covered under the Tripartite Agreement signed between Nepal, Indian and UK governments in 1947, soon after Indian independence.
  • The government feels that the Agnipath scheme must be approved by it and for that political consultations with all parties in Nepal must take place.
  • This is move is visibly ‘inspired’ with inputs from China.

What was the Tripartite Agreement between India, Nepal and UK?

  • Soon after Indian Independence on August 15, 1947, an agreement was reached by the governments of India, Nepal and the UK regarding the future of the Gorkha soldiers who were serving in the Indian Army.
  • As per the terms of this agreement four regiments of Gorkha soldiers – 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th – were transferred to the British Army while the rest – 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th and 9th – remained with the Indian Army.
  • A new Gorkha Regiment, the 11th Gorkha Rifles, was raised by India soon after Independence.
  • The agreement also provides for the terms and conditions of the Nepal-domiciled Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army and for their post-retirement benefits and pensions.

Significance of Gorkha Soldiers

  • Legend has it that Hitler’s very words were, “If I had Gurkhas, no army in the world could defeat me.”
  • An interesting historical aspect of Gorkha troops is that Pakistan, at the time of Independence, and China, soon after the 1962 war, had also requested Nepal for Gorkha soldiers.
  • However, this request was turned down by the Nepal government.
  • The largest body of Gorkha troops serves in the Indian Army while in the UK their presence has been reduced from four regiments to just two.

Can Nepalese Gorkhas in foreign Armies be called mercenaries?

  • Mercenaries are understood as fighters who take part in a conflict for financial gain and usually are not parties to that conflict.
  • As per the definition of the 1949 Geneva Convention, gives the officially agreed definition of a mercenary.
  • It says that soldiers serving in sovereign armies are not considered mercenaries, and Gorkha soldiers cannot be called mercenaries.
  • In addition, Gorkha soldiers from Nepal serve side-by-side with Gorkha soldiers who are born and brought up in India.

Have any changes been made in Gorkha unit recruitments over the years?

  • There have been attempts to reduce the dependence on Nepal for the Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army,
  • To this effect, the composition has increasingly been attempted to be balanced between Indian and Nepal-domiciled troops.
  • Also, a pure Indian Gorkha battalion was raised in 2016.
  • This unit, 6th Battalion of the 1st Gorkha Rifles (6/1 GR), was raised in Subathu, in Himachal Pradesh.
  • Otherwise, the ratio of Nepalese-domiciled soldiers and Indian-domiciled soldiers in a Gorkha battalion ranges from 60:40 to 70:30, though this will change further in future.
  • A change was made in the recruitment rules for Gorkha Rifles recently when the Army decided that soldiers hailing from the Kumaon and Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand will also be eligible for serving in Gorkha Rifles.

What is the socio-economic impact on Nepal of Gorkha soldiers serving in the Indian Army?

  • A major economic and social impact is felt in Nepal due to the Nepal-domiciled Gorkha soldiers serving in the Indian Army and much of it has to do with the remittances that they send home.
  • Kathmandu receives a sustainable source of remittances from Gorkhas working in foreign armies.
  • This has significantly contributed to social modernization in the isolated villages, while the financial remittances spurred entrepreneurship development thereby contributing to regional development.

Why induct Gorkha soldiers?

  • Gorkha soldiers are tough. Living in the hills of Nepal makes them strong and resilient and they can stand war, climate and terrain better than most.
  • No one can match their swift movement in the mountainous terrain.
  • They are cheerful in disposition and nothing disturbs their equanimity.
  • They are loyal to the core and fearless in battle.
  • All this makes them amongst the best soldiers in the world and they are much sought after.
  • Historically, they have deep rooted connection and affinity for India definitely due to cultural assimilations.

 

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Indian Army Updates

Exercise AL NAJAH-IV

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise AL NAJAH-IV

Mains level: Read the attached story

India and Oman will carry out a 13-day military exercise with a focus on counter-terror cooperation.

Exercise AL NAJAH-IV

  • This is the fourth edition of India-Oman joint military exercise ‘AL NAJAH-IV’.
  • It is held between contingents of Indian Army and the Royal Army of Oman is scheduled to take place at the Foreign Training Node of Mahajan Field Firing Ranges.
  • The previous edition of the exercise was organised in Muscat in March 2019.
  • The scope of the exercise includes “professional interaction, mutual understanding of drills and procedures, the establishment of joint command and control structures and elimination of terrorist threats”.

India-Oman Relations: A Backgrounder

  • The Sultanate of Oman is a strategic partner of India in the Gulf.
  • Both nations are linked by geography, history and culture and enjoy warm and cordial relations.
  • An Indian consulate was opened in Muscat in February 1955 which was upgraded to a consulate general in 1960 and later into a full-fledged embassy in 1971.
  • The first ambassador of India arrived in Muscat in 1973.

History of the ties

  • Oman, for many years, was ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, who was a friend of India.
  • Sultan Qaboos, the longest-reigning leader of the modern Arab world, died in January ‘2020 at the age of 79.
  • He was a man who was, as a student, taught by Shankar Dayal Sharma who went on to become the President of India.
  • Sultan Qaboos’s father, an alumnus of Ajmer’s Mayo College, sent his son to study in Pune for some time, where he was former President Shankar Dayal Sharma’s student.

Economic ties

  • Expatriate community: Oman has over five hundred thousand Indian nationals living there making them the largest expatriate community in Oman. They annually remit $780 million to India.
  • Bilateral trade: In 2010, bilateral trade between India and Oman stood at $4.5 billion. India was Oman’s second-largest destination for its non-oil exports and its fourth-largest source for Indian imports.
  • Energy: India has been considering the construction of a 1,100-km-long underwater natural gas pipeline from Oman called the South Asia Gas Enterprise (SAGE).

Defense cooperation

Oman is the first Gulf nation to have formalized defense relations with India.

  • Naval cooperation: The Indian Navy has berthing rights in Oman, and has been utilizing Oman’s ports as bases for conducting anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.
  • Tri-services base: In February 2018, India announced that it had secured access to the facilities at Duqm for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. Duqm had previously served as a port for the INS Mumbai.
  • Arms trade: The standard issue rifle of the Royal Army of Oman is India’s INSAS rifle.
  • Bilateral exercises: Naseem al-Bahr (Arabic for Sea Breeze) is a bilateral maritime exercise between India and Oman. The exercise was first held in 1993.

Significance of Oman for India

  • Oman is India’s closest defense partner in the Gulf region and an important anchor for India’s defense and strategic interests.
  • It is the only country in the Gulf region with which all three services of the Indian armed forces conduct regular bilateral exercises and staff talks, enabling close cooperation and trust at the professional level.
  • It also provides critical operational support to Indian naval deployments in the Arabian sea for anti-piracy missions.

Duqm port and its strategic imperative

  • In a strategic move to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean region, India has secured access to the key Port of Duqm in Oman for military use and logistical support.
  • This is part of India’s maritime strategy to counter Chinese influence and activities in the region.
  • The Port of Duqm is strategically located, in close proximity to the Chabahar port in Iran.
  • With the Assumption Island being developed in Seychelles and Agalega in Mauritius, Duqm fits into India’s proactive maritime security roadmap.
  • In recent years, India had deployed an attack submarine to this port in the western Arabian Sea.

Deterrent in ties: Chinese influence in Oman

  • China started cultivating ties with the Arab countries following the former Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
  • Beijing has cultivated close ties with Oman and the latter was, in fact, the first country to deliver oil to China.
  • As of today, 92.99 per cent of Oman’s oil exports go to China, making China Oman’s largest oil importer.
  • Oman and China signed an agreement to establish an Oman-China Industrial Park at Duqm in 2016.
  • China has identified Oman as a key country in the region and has been enhancing defence ties with it steadily.

Way forward

  • India does not have enough energy resources to serve its current or future energy requirements. The rapidly growing energy demand has contributed to the need for long term energy partnerships with countries like Oman.
  • Oman’s Duqm Port is situated in the middle of international shipping lanes connecting East with West Asia.
  • India needs to engage with Oman and take initiatives to utilise opportunities arising out of the Duqm Port industrial city.

 

 

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Indian Army Updates

Explained: BSF powers and jurisdiction

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BSF

Mains level: BSF role in securing India's frontiers

A blueprint that defines the extended jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) and its new logistical requirements in frontier States has been prepared and is soon expected to be submitted to the Union Home Ministry.

What is the news?

  • While in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, the BSF jurisdiction, from the border towards the hinterland, was enhanced from the earlier 15 km to 50 km.
  • In Gujarat the same limit has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km, while in Rajasthan the limit has been kept unchanged at 50 km.

Do you know?

BSF currently stands as the world’s largest border guarding force. It has been termed as the First Line of Defence of Indian Territories.

About Border Security Force (BSF)

  • The BSF is India’s border guarding organization on its border with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • It comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It was raised in the wake of the 1965 War on 1 December 1965 for ensuring the security of the borders of India and for matters connected therewith.
  • The BSF has its own cadre of officers but its head, designated as a Director-General (DG), since its raising has been an officer from the Indian Police Service (IPS).

What are the new modifications?

  • The MHA has exercised the powers under the Border Security Force Act of 1968.
  • It has thus outlined the area of BSF’s jurisdiction.

Powers exercised by BSF in its jurisdiction

BSFs jurisdiction has been extended only in respect of the powers it enjoys under:

  1. Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)
  2. Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and
  3. Passport Act, 1967

Arrest and search

  • BSF currently has powers to arrest and search under these laws.
  • It also has powers to arrest, search and seize under the NDPS Act, Arms Act, Customs Act and certain other laws.

Sanctions behind such powers

  • Scarcely populated borders: At that time, border areas were sparsely populated and there were hardly any police stations for miles.
  • Trans-border crimes: To prevent trans-border crimes, it was felt necessary that BSF is given powers to arrest.
  • Manpower crunch: While police stations have now come up near the border, they continue to be short-staffed.

Various issues at Borders

  1. Encroachment
  2. Illegal incursion
  3. Drug and cattle smuggling

Impact on State Police jurisdiction

  • Such moves are aimed to complement the efforts of the local police.
  • Thus, it is an enabling provision.
  • It’s not that the local police can’t act within the jurisdiction of the BSF.
  • The state police have better knowledge of the ground.
  • Hence BSF and local Police can act in cooperation.

Criticism of the move

  • At a basic level, the states can argue that law and order is a state subject and enhancing BSF’s jurisdiction infringes upon powers of the state government.
  • In 2012, then Gujarat CM and the present PM had opposed a central government moves to expand BSF’s jurisdiction.

 

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Indian Army Updates

Analysing the Agnipath scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 3- Agnipath scheme

Context

Recently, the Agnipath scheme for recruitment of short-term contracted soldiers was announced.

About Agnipath Scheme

  • This will be the only form of recruitment of soldiers into the three defence services from now.
  • The scheme aims at strengthening national security and for providing an opportunity to the youth to serve in the armed forces.
  • Recruits under the scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’.
  • After completing the four-year service, they can apply for regular employment in the armed forces.
  • They may be given priority over others for various jobs in other government departments.
  • The move is expected to decrease the average age profile of armed forces personnel from the current 32 to 24-26 years over a period of time.

Benefits of the Agnipath Scheme

  • Lower the average age: The average age in the forces is 32 years today, which will go down to 26 in six to seven years, the scheme envisions.
  • Youthful armed forces will allow them to be easily trained for new technologies.
  • Employment opportunities: It will increase employment opportunities and because of the skills and experience acquired during the four-year service such soldiers will get employment in various fields.
  • High-skilled workforce: The scheme will also lead to the availability of a higher-skilled workforce to the economy which will be helpful in productivity gain and overall GDP growth

Financial constraints and challenges

  • Directing funds towards modernisation: It has been argued that the savings in the pensions bill — which will show up on the books only after a couple of decades — would be directed towards the modernisation of defence forces.
  • The armed forces do not have that kind of time available to them to postpone their already long-delayed modernisation.
  • Shortage: The Indian Air Force is already down to 30 squadrons of fighter jets against the 42 squadrons it needs, and the Indian Navy is at 130 ships when its vision was to be a 200-ship navy; the Indian Army is already short of 1,00,000 soldiers.
  •  Instead of expanding the economy to support the military, the Government has resorted to shrinking the military.

Issues with the short-term recruitment

  • No theoretical modelling: As the short-term recruitment policy has neither been theoretically modelled nor tried out as a pilot project, the exact consequences of the move will only be known as they play out.
  • Adverse effect on professional capabilities: But its adverse effect on the professional capabilities of the armed forces is certain.
  • It starts with the very high turnover of young soldiers, the increase in training capacities and infrastructure and the augmentation of the administrative setup for greater recruitment, release, and retention of soldiers.
  • An armed forces boasting of a poor teeth-to-tail ratio is further increasing the tail.
  • Impact on operational capabilities: The tooth-to-tail ratio (T3R), in military jargon, is the amount of military personnel it takes to supply and support (“tail”) each combat soldier (“tooth”).
  • The Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy employ their airmen and sailors in very specialised roles, which require technical skills, and a high degree of training and experience.
  • Because the short-term contractual soldier model (the Agniveer scheme) is going to take a few years to fully play out at an organisational level, the actual degradation of operational capability will only be known then.
  • Class-based recruitment abolished: In the Agnipath proposal, the class-based recruitment has been replaced with an all-India all-class recruitment.
  • It will strike at the core of the organisational management, leadership structures and operating philosophy of the Indian Army.
  • Even though the soldiers in the Indian Army are professionally trained, they also draw their motivation from their social identity  — where each soldier cares for his reputation among the peers in his caste group or his village or his social setting.
  • To replace that with a pure professional identity of a soldier will bring its own challenges in a tradition-bound army.
  • Training challenges: There will be major problems in training, integrating and deploying soldiers with different levels of experience and motivations.
  • An organisation which depends on trust, camaraderie and esprit de corps could end up grappling with rivalries and jealousies amongst winners and losers, especially in their final year of contract.
  • Legal challenges: Even though the Government has kept the contract at four years to deny the Agniveer gratuity and is not counting the contractual period towards regular service, these provisions are bound to be challenged legally.
  •  Over time, this will lead to the salary and pension budget creeping back up again.
  • Political imbalance: The Agnipath scheme also does away with the idea of a State-wise quota for recruitment into the Army, based on the Recruitable Male Population of that State which was implemented from 1966.
  • This prevented an imbalanced army.
  • Academic research shows that the high level of ethnic imbalance has been associated with severe problems of democracy and an increased likelihood of civil war.
  • Impact on motivation: A short-term contractual soldier, without earning pension, will be seen as doing jobs after his military service that are not seen to be commensurate in status and prestige with the profession of honour.
  • Impact on motivation: It will reduce the motivation of those joining on short-term contracts while diminishing the “honour” of a profession which places extraordinary demands on young men.
  • Social unrest: There are numerous examples of demobilised soldiers leading to increased violence against minorities.
  • This could happen in India as the youth who are not given regular recruitment after four year’s service would turn to violence.

Conclusion

The Government’s yearning for financial savings runs the risk of reducing the honour of a profession, the stability of a society and the safety of a country.

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Issues with Agnipath Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Agnipath Scheme

Mains level: Issues with Agnipath Scheme

Massive protests are occurring against the Agnipath scheme all across the nation.

What is the Agnipath Scheme?

  • This will be the only form of recruitment of soldiers into the three defence services from now.
  • The scheme aims at strengthening national security and for providing an opportunity to the youth to serve in the armed forces.
  • Recruits under the scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’.
  • After completing the four-year service, they can apply for regular employment in the armed forces.
  • They may be given priority over others for various jobs in other government departments.
  • The move is expected to decrease the average age profile of armed forces personnel from the current 32 to 24-26 years over a period of time.

Why are aspirants protesting?

  • Contractualisation of armed forces: The foundation of this scheme is a four-year contract.
  • Jobs for the majority: States such as Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, are where the bulk of the Army recruitment takes place.
  • Perks and benefits: Many of these people value job stability, which includes retirement benefits and pensions over competitive salaries.
  • Uncertainty after end of commission: Most of them will be forced to leave the job within four years, which doesn’t fit into their hopes and aspirations.
  • Casualization of Training: It reportedly takes two to three years to train a member of the army, but as a part of the Agnipath, soldiers will only be trained for six months.
  • Threats to national security: Defence analysts have allegedly pointed out that the Russian soldiers who were trained for a limited amount of time before they went to war have performed disastrously.
  • Conflicts of interest: Apprehensions have been voiced against how the new recruits will be adjusted in the existing system under which most of the Army units are region, caste or class based.

Reasons behind aspirants’ frustration

  • Unemployment: Analysts always cite the crunch of gazetted officers in the Armed forces and there has been no recruitment for the last two years.
  • Pandemic impact: Many aspirants lost their chance to join the Armed forces as they are now overage.’
  • Unanticipated reforms: In guise of a push for “major defence policy reform”, the scheme is a fuss.

What is the official explanation?

  • Once retired, aspirants will be free to pursue other careers, with several departments and governments.
  • Aspirants will get preference, educational credits, skill certificates, to help them rehabilitate in other fields.
  • Those wishing to be entrepreneurs will get a financial package and bank loans and those wishing to study further will be given 12 class equivalent certificate.
  • For job-seekers, the government has already said they will get priority in the Central Armed Police Forces.

Way forward

  • The modalities of how this will happen are still being worked out.
  • But one thing is very clear, poorly crafted schemes are on the rise.
  • For making any scheme a success, pre-legislative consultation and discussion in the public domain is a must.

 

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What is Agnipath Scheme?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Agnipath Scheme

Mains level: Not Much

Defence Minister announced the ‘Agnipath’ scheme for the recruitment of youth in the armed forces for four years.

Agnipath Scheme

  • This will be the only form of recruitment of soldiers into the three defence services from now.
  • The scheme aims at strengthening national security and for providing an opportunity to the youth to serve in the armed forces.
  • Recruits under the scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’.
  • After completing the four-year service, they can apply for regular employment in the armed forces.
  • They may be given priority over others for various jobs in other government departments.
  • The move is expected to decrease the average age profile of armed forces personnel from the current 32 to 24-26 years over a period of time.

Working of the scheme

  • The process of recruitment will commence in 90 days with a planned intake of 46,000 young men and women this year.
  • Enrolment to all three services will be through a centralized online system, with special rallies and campus interviews at recognized technical institutes.
  • Recruitment will be carried out on an “All India All Class” basis with the eligibility age ranging from 17.5 to 21, with medical and physical fitness standards in accordance with existing norms.

Payouts of the Agniveers

  • The ‘Agniveers’ will receive an annual package of ₹4.76 lakh in the first year to ₹6.92 lakh in the fourth year, apart from risk and hardship and other allowances as applicable.
  • Under the ‘Seva Nidhi’ package, they will receive about ₹11.71 lakh, including contribution and interest, on completion of service.
  • The recruits will have to contribute 30% of their monthly emoluments to Seva Nidhi, with a matching contribution made by the government.
  • There will be no entitlement to gratuity and pension benefits under the scheme.
  • However, the ‘Agniveers’ will be provided a non-contributory life insurance cover of ₹48 lakh during their service.

 

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Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

Mains level: Office of the CDS

Setting the stage for appointment of the next Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the government has amended Service Rules of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The post of CDS has also been lying vacant since the demise of Late. Gen. Bipin Rawat.

What is the update in rules?

  • The govt has allowed retired Service Chiefs and three-star officers eligible for consideration for the country’s top military post.
  • However, with an age limit that the retired officer should not have attained 62 years on the date of appointment.
  • Retired Service chiefs are largely ruled out, especially so for the present consideration.

Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

  • The CDS is a high military office that oversees and coordinates the working of the three Services, and offers seamless tri-service views and single-point advice to the Executive.
  • On long-term it provides for defence planning and management, including manpower, equipment and strategy, and above all, “joint manship” in operations.
  • In most democracies, the CDS is seen as being above inter-Service rivalries and the immediate operational preoccupations of the individual military chiefs.
  • The role of the CDS becomes critical in times of conflict.

Duties and Functions of the CDS

The Ministry of Defence has outlined various functions and duties for the post of CDS:

  • To head the Department of Military Affairs in Ministry of Defence and function as its Secretary.
  • To act as the Principal Military Advisor to Raksha Mantri on all Tri-Service matters.
  • To function as the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
  • To administer the Tri-Service organizations/agencies/commands.
  • To be a member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Raksha Mantri.
  • To function as the Military Advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority.
  • To bring about jointness in operation, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance, etc of the three Services.
  • To implement Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan and Two-Year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans, as a follow up of Integrated Capability Development Plan.
  • To bring about reforms in the functioning of three Services with the aim to augment combat capabilities of the Armed Forces by reducing wasteful expenditure.

Why need CDS?

  • Tri-services coordination: The creation of the CDS will eventually lead to the formation of tri-service theatre commands intended to create vertical integration of the three forces.
  • Single-point military advisory: The CDS will be a single-point military adviser to the government and synergise long term planning, procurements, training and logistics of the three Services.
  • Efforts saving: This is expected to save money by avoiding duplication between the Services, at a time of shrinking capital expenditure within the defence budget.
  • Military diplomacy: This is today supporting conventional diplomacy. That can’t be done by different Services.

 

 

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Project WARDEC: India’s upcoming AI-powered Wargame Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Project Wardec

Mains level: Not Much

The Army Training Command signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Gandhinagar-based Rashtriya Raksha University (RRU) to develop a ‘Wargame Research and Development Centre (WARDEC)’ in New Delhi.

What is Project WARDEC?

  • The project ‘WARDEC’ will be a first-of-its-kind simulation-based training centre in India that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to design virtual reality war-games.
  • The Wargame Research and Development Centre will be used by the Army to train its soldiers and test their strategies through “metaverse-enabled gameplay”.
  • The wargame models will be designed to prepare for wars as well as counter-terror and counter-insurgency operations.

Where will the centre come up and when?

  • The centre will come up in a military zone in New Delhi, confirmed RRU officials privy to the development.
  • The RRU will join hands with Tech Mahindra to develop the centre in the coming three to four months.
  • The RRU, an institute under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), specialises in national security and policing.
  • Located in Gandhinagar’s Lavad village, it is an “institute of national importance” – a status granted to it by an Act of Parliament.

How will these simulation exercises play out?

  • Soldiers will test their skills in the metaverse where their surroundings will be simulated using a combination of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
  • In metaverse, the players will get a realistic experience of the actual situation.
  • If a weapon weighing 5 kg drops or the air pressure falls, they will feel it like anyone would in a live situation, real-time.
  • The game would play out player versus player, player versus computer or even computer versus computer.

How will the centre help the Army?

  • The Army intends to use the war-game centre to train its officers in military strategies.
  • Indian Army will provide data to set the backdrop of the gameplay, so that participants get a realistic experience.
  • In Army, it is often said that the enemy can ambush you from 361 directions, where 360 sides are around the soldier, and one is above in case there is an airdrop.
  • So, wargame simulation helps the Army think of all possible scenarios.

What promise does AI-based wargame simulation hold?

  • Apart from the armed forces, the BSF, CRPF, CISF, ITBP and SSB can also use the metaverse-enabled simulation exercises for better training.
  • The use of AI can provide a totally immersive training experience as it can simulate a battlefield close to reality and map several eventualities in the probable event of a war.

How many countries use such wargaming drills?

  • Since the 9/11 attacks, use of information technology-enabled wargaming is preferred by several countries like the US, Israel, the UK to prepare for possibilities in case of terror attacks or war.
  • In March 2014, several world leaders, including former German chancellor Angela Merkel, former US president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping had played a war simulation game.
  • It was during the Hague Summit about how to react in case of a nuclear attack.
  • In that case, the target of the nuclear attack was a fictional country named Brinia.

 

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Plans underway on Creation of Integrated Battle Groups

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: IBG

Mains level: Significance of Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs)

The Indian Army is in advanced stages of putting together Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) by reconfiguring its combat formations.

What are IBGs?

  • IBGs are brigade-sized, agile, self-sufficient combat formations, which can swiftly launch strikes against an adversary in case of hostilities.
  • Each IBG would be tailor-made based on Threat, Terrain and Task and resources will be allotted based on the three Ts.
  • They need to be light so they will be low on logistics and they will be able to mobilise within 12-48 hrs based on the location.
  • An IBG operating in a desert needs to be constituted differently from an IBG operating in the mountains.
  • The key corps of the Army is likely to be reorganized into 1-3 IBGs.

Objective of IBG

  • Holistic integration to enhance the operational and functional efficiency, optimize budget expenditure, facilitate force modernization and address aspirations

Structure of the IBG

  • While a command is the largest static formation of the Army spread across defined geography, a corps is the largest mobile formation.
  • Typically each corps has about three brigades.
  • The idea is to reorganise them into IBGs which are brigade-sized units but have all the essential elements like infantry, armoured, artillery and air defence embedded together based on the three Ts.
  • The IBGs will also be defensive and offensive. While the offensive IBGs would quickly mobilise and make a thrust into enemy territory for strikes, defensive IBGs would hold ground at vulnerable points or where enemy action is expected.

Why need IBGs?

  • After the terrorist attack on the Parliament, the Indian military undertook massive mobilization but the Army’s formations which deep inside took weeks to mobilise losing the element of surprise.
  • Following this, the Army formulated a proactive doctrine known as ‘Cold Start’ to launch swift offensive but its existence was consistently denied in the past.
  • Its existence was acknowledged for the first time by (Late) Gen Rawat in January 2017.

 

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Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) passes validation trials

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ATAGS

Mains level: India's artillery arsenal

The indigenous Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully completed the validation trials.

Why in news?

  • The ATAGS has demonstrated a range of over 45 km, making it the “most consistent and accurate gun in the world”.

ATAG System

  • The ATAGS is a 155-mm, 52-calibre artillery gun jointly developed by the DRDO in partnership with Bharat Forge of the Kalyani Group and the Tata Power SED.
  • ATAGS has greater than 95% of indigenous content. It set a world record for the longest unassisted projectile range of 48 kilometres.

Its features

  • The gun consists of a barrel, breech mechanism, muzzle brake and recoil mechanism to fire 155 mm calibre ammunition with a firing range of 48 km.
  • It has an all-electric drive to ensure reliability and minimum maintenance over a long period of time.
  • It has advanced features like high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communication system, automatic command and control system with night capability in direct fire mode.

 

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What are Articulated All-Terrain Vehicles?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Articulated All-Terrain Vehicles

Mains level: Not Much

The Indian Army has issued a Request For Information (RFI) for the supply of Articulated All-Terrain Vehicles to be deployed in Ladakh and Kutch.

What are Articulated All-Terrain Vehicles?

  • Articulated ATV is a twin cabin, tracked, amphibious carrier for off road mobility.
  • The special design of this equipment exerts low ground pressure on the soil and a pull-push mode of locomotion between two cabins facilitates mobility over varied terrains like snow, desert and slush.
  • A ballistic protection in the cabin body ensures protection to troops travelling in it from small arms fire.
  • They can reach where wheeled vehicles cannot due to deep snow, slush or marshy terrain and can be very effective for patrolling and rapid deployment in operational situations.

Utility of these vehicles

  • These vehicles are very useful to move troops or supplies in snow-bound terrains and in marshy/sandy environments.
  • The Indian Army wishes to use these vehicles in the snow-bound areas of Ladakh and in the marshy terrain of the Rann of Kutch.

 

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[pib] Exercise LAMITIYE 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise LAMITIYE

Mains level: Not Much

The 9th Joint Military Exercise LAMITIYE-2022 between the Indian Army and Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF) is being conducted at Seychelles Defence Academy (SDA), Seychelles.

Exercise LAMITIYE

  • Lamitiye, which in Creole means friendship, is a biennial training event being conducted in Seychelles since 2001.
  • This year, it will feature a range of complex military drills, demonstrations and discussions, officials said.
  • The objective of the joint training exercise is to build and promote bilateral military relations in addition to exchanging skills, experiences and good practices between both the armies.
  • Both sides will jointly train, plan and execute a series of well-developed tactical drills for neutralization of likely threats that may be encountered in a semi-urban environment.
  • The exercise will also witness showcasing of new-generation equipment and technology for conducting joint operations.

Significance of the exercise

  • LAMITIYE is crucial and significant in terms of security challenges faced by both nations in the backdrop of the current global situation and growing security concerns in the Indian Ocean region.

Tap to read more about:

Various Defence Exercises in News

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[pib] Sela Pass Tunnel Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sela Pass

Mains level: Critical border infrastructures

The final blast for the 980-metre long Sela Tunnel was recently conducted by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) amidst inclement weather and heavy snowfall.

Sela Pass Tunnel Project

  • The tunnel covers a total distance of 12.04 kms which consist of two tunnels of 1790 metres and 475 meters.
  • It is being built at an estimated cost of ₹687 crores by the Border Roads Organisation.
  • It aims to provide all weather connectivity to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh — an area claimed entirely by China — and other forward areas.
  • Once built it will cut travel time to Tawang by at least an hour for Indian troops stationed in adjoining Assam’s Tezpur town — the headquarters of the Indian army’s IV Corps.

Strategic Importance

  • The lack of motorable roads and rail connections in India’s northeast and Arunachal Pradesh in particular were seen as distinct disadvantages for India vis a vis China in the region.
  • Analysts had been warning of China building infrastructure including access roads right up to the Indian border that would give it a strategic advantage in any conflict with India.
  • Once completed this would result in all weather connectivity to Tawang and forward areas and reduction in more than one hour of travelling time from Tezpur to Tawang.

 

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How women cadets benefit the army

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 3- Women in Indian army

Context

Last year, the Supreme Court threw open the hallowed portals of the National Defence Academy for women. Something to truly celebrate on January 15, Army Day, this year.

Background

  • The first batch of women officers was inducted into the Indian Army in non-medical roles via the Short Service Commission in 1992.
  • Since 2008, women were inducted as permanent commissioned officers in the legal and education corps  and as permanent commissioned officers in eight more non-combative corps in 2020.

The low number of women in Army

  • As recent as 2020, women officers in the Indian army (excluding the medical corps) numbered just about three per cent.
  • Compare this to 16 per cent in the US, 15 per cent in France and 10 per cent in both Russia and the UK.

Significance of allowing women to NDA

  • When in February 2020, the Supreme Court decreed that women officers should get command positions on par with male officers, it also effectively dismissed the military’s earlier objection that it would lead to “operational, practical and cultural problems”.
  • The SC went on to say that denying women commands based on the above argument was discriminatory and reinforced stereotypes.
  • Last year, the Supreme Court threw open the National Defence Academy for women to compete for the seats and subsequent permanent commission in the Indian army in any corps they desire, including the combat ones.
  • Addressing the shortage of officers: This may effectively address the long-standing shortage of officers in the Indian army in general. In response to a question in Rajya Sabha a month ago, the Minister of State for Defence said the Army has a shortage of 7,476 officers.
  • This torch may also help confront the chauvinism, often misspelt as chivalry, that indisputably exists in the Army.

Conclusion

The move promises to change the composition of this arm of the defence force not just quantitatively, but also qualitatively — both dire requirements of the force at present.

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Back2Basics: Permanent Commission (PC) Vs. Short Service Commission (SSC)

  • SSC means an officer’s career will be of a limited period in the Indian Armed Forces whereas a PC means they shall continue to serve in the Indian Armed Forces, till they retire.
  • The officers inducted through the SSC usually serve for a period of 14 years.
  • At the end of 10 years, the officers have three options.
  • A PC entitles an officer to serve in the Navy till he/she retires unlike SSC, which is currently for 10 years and can be extended by four more years, or a total of 14 years.
  • They can either select for a PC or opt-out or have the option of a 4-years extension.
  • They can resign at any time during this period of 4 years extension.

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Indian Army inducts Armoured Engineer Reconnaissance Vehicle (AERV)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Armoured Engineer Reconnaissance Vehicles (AERV)

Mains level: Not Much

The first batch of next-generation indigenously designed Armoured Engineer Reconnaissance Vehicles (AERV) was inducted by the Indian Army.

About AERV

  • AERV is indigenously designed and developed by DRDO and manufactured by the Pune unit of Bharat Electronics Limited.
  • It has more than 90% indigenous content.
  • It is a versatile BMP-IIK amphibious Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) fitted with instruments for water reconnaissance, land reconnaissance, navigation, and data backup.

Unique capabilities of AERV

  • AERV is capable of measuring soil bearing capacity on riverbanks.
  • It works to determine if they are motorable for military vehicles on Go-No Go basis (critical parameters for bridge laying), dry and wet gaps in day and night conditions, slopes and height of river banks or canals.”
  • AERVs can navigate terrain using Military Grid Coordinate System, measure and plot underwater beds and water currents of rivers or canals.
  • They can store data from various instruments on Control Console for further analysis and decision-making.

 

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[pib] Exercise Cambrian Patrol

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ex Cambrian Patrol

Mains level: Not Much

A team from Gorkha Rifles which represented the Indian Army at the prestigious Cambrian Patrol Exercise at Brecon, Wales, UK, has been awarded a Gold medal.

Ex Cambrian Patrol

  • Organized by the UK Army, this exercise is considered the ultimate test of human endurance, team spirit and is sometimes referred as the Olympics of Military Patrolling.
  • The aim of The Cambrian Patrol is to provide a challenging patrols exercise in order to enhance operational capability.
  • The event has evolved into a cost-effective, ready-made exercise that Commanding Officers can use to test the basic training standards of their soldiers, in preparation for future operations.
  • It is mission-focused and scenario-based with role players used to enhance the training benefit.

How it is conducted?

  • During the exercise, teams are assessed for their performance under harsh terrain and inclement cold weather conditions.
  • They undergo various challenges in addition to the complex real-world situations painted to them so as to assess their reactions in combat settings.

 

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Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Yudh Abhyas 2021

Mains level: India-US defense ties

The 17th edition of the India-U.S. bilateral exercise, Yudh Abhyas 2021, got underway in mountainous terrain and cold climate conditions of Alaska, US.

Yudh Abhyas 2021

  • Exercise Yudh Abhyas is the largest running joint military training and defence cooperation endeavour between India and USA.
  • The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation and interoperability between the two armies.

Why it is significant?

  • Interestingly, this is the only India-U.S. service exercise continuing in bilateral format.
  • The India-U.S. Malabar naval exercise became trilateral with the addition of Japan in 2015 and further brought in all the Quad partners together with the inclusion of Australia in 2020.
  • Similarly, Japan joined the India-U.S. bilateral air exercise, Cope India, as an Observer in 2018 and the plan is to make it trilateral in phases.
  • Other than the Malabar, Japan had sent observers for the first time during Cope India 2018 as an Observer in 2018. s

 

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Explained: BSF powers and jurisdiction

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BSF

Mains level: India's border security

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has extended the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) up to 50 km inside the international borders in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.

Do you know?

BSF currently stands as the world’s largest border guarding force. It has been termed as the First Line of Defence of Indian Territories.

About Border Security Force (BSF)

  • The BSF is India’s border guarding organization on its border with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • It comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It was raised in the wake of the 1965 War on 1 December 1965 for ensuring the security of the borders of India and for matters connected therewith.
  • The BSF has its own cadre of officers but its head, designated as a Director-General (DG), since its raising has been an officer from the Indian Police Service (IPS).

What are the new modifications?

  • The MHA has exercised the powers under the Border Security Force Act of 1968.
  • It has thus outlined the area of BSF’s jurisdiction.
  • While the places marked here are within 50 km of the respective borders, this is not meant to represent the BSF’s jurisdiction.
  • At the same time, the Ministry has reduced BSF’s area of operation in Gujarat from 80 km from the border, to 50 km.

Powers exercised by BSF in its jurisdiction

BSFs jurisdiction has been extended only in respect of the powers it enjoys under:

  1. Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)
  2. Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and
  3. Passport Act, 1967

Arrest and search

  • BSF currently has powers to arrest and search under these laws.
  • It also has powers to arrest, search and seize under the NDPS Act, Arms Act, Customs Act and certain other laws.

Its powers under these will continue to be only up to 15 km inside the border in Punjab, Assam and West Bengal, and will remain as far as 80 km in Gujarat.

Sanctions behind such powers

  • Scarcely populated borders: At that time, border areas were sparsely populated and there were hardly any police stations for miles.
  • Trans-border crimes: To prevent trans-border crimes, it was felt necessary that BSF is given powers to arrest.
  • Manpower crunch: While police stations have now come up near the border, they continue to be short-staffed.

Various issues at Borders

  1. Encroachment
  2. Illegal incursion
  3. Drug and cattle smuggling

Why has the government extended the jurisdiction?

  • The objective of the move is to bring in uniformity and also to increase operational efficiency. Earlier BSF had different jurisdictions in different states.
  • BSF often gets information relating to crime scenes that may be out of their jurisdiction.
  • The move was also necessitated due to increasing instances of drone-dropping of weapons and drugs.

Impact on State Police jurisdiction

 

  • This move will complement the efforts of the local police. Thus, it is an enabling provision.
  • It’s not that the local police can’t act within the jurisdiction of the BSF.
  • The state police have better knowledge of the ground. Hence BSF and local Police can act in cooperation.

Criticism of the move

  • At a basic level, the states can argue that law and order is a state subject and enhancing BSF’s jurisdiction infringes upon powers of the state government.
  • In 2012, then Gujarat CM and the present PM had opposed a central government moves to expand BSF’s jurisdiction.

 

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Exercise ZAPAD 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ZAPAD 2021

Mains level: Not Much

A contingent of 200 Army personnel will participate in the multinational Exercise ZAPAD 2021 being held at Nizhniy, Russia.

ZAPAD 2021

  • ZAPAD is one of the theatre-level exercises of Russian armed forces and will focus primarily on operations against terrorists.
  • The NAGA Battalion group participating in the exercise will feature an all arms combined task force.
  • The exercise aims to enhance military and strategic ties amongst the participating nations while they plan and execute this exercise.
  • In all, 17 countries have been invited by Russia for the exercise. Of these nine are Participating countries which include Mongolia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Russia, India, and Belarus.
  • The other eight countries are Observers which include Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, and Sri Lanka.

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[Prelims Spotlight] Various Defence Exercises in News

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Challenging China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gulf of Hormuz

Mains level: Paper 3- Leveraging advantageous geography to counter China

Context

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

Manpower and Defence Budget: Comparison with China

  • The Indian army, according to diverse sources, numbers between 12,50,000 and 14,00,000 officers and men.
  • Chinese PLA actually has only 9,75,000 officers and men.
  •  They have downsized their army.
  • China is an aspiring world power that spends $252 billion on its defence budget, as compared to $72.9 billion that India spends.
  • Both countries limit their budget to around 2 per cent of their GDP, which in China’s case is five times our size.

Why does India need to reduce manpower in defense?

  • Expensive:  A major portion of the budget is spent on manpower, 81 percent of the army budget goes into manpower and maintenance. Gradually, manpower is going to get increasingly expensive.
  • Also, our strategic options get constrained because the army gets 61 percent of the defense budget.
  • We need to downsize the army by 2,00,000 men over five years through retirement and reduced recruitment.
  • The reduction in manpower will save approximately Rs 30,000 crore, which can be equally divided between the three services.

Way forward: Bigger role to navy and air force

  • We can achieve better conventional deterrence against China by giving bigger roles to the navy and air force.
  • The first step is to accept that we are an asymmetric power and leverage the RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs) so that numerical inferiority is of no consequence.
  • They are invulnerable on land, and their only strategic weakness is their reliance on the Indian Ocean SLOCs (sea lines of communications) for 70 percent of their imported oil.
  • The only guarantee of Chinese non-aggression and good behavior is a well-crafted threat to their oil tankers and a complete naval mastery of the escalation that is bound to follow.
  • India can also leverage the QUAD resources in various ways such as information.
  • Build up the Car Nicobar airfield into a full-fledged airbase.
  • We could negotiate with Oman for the use of the old RAF airbase at Masirah to dominate the Gulf of Hormuz and threaten the Chinese base at Djibouti.

Conclusion

China cannot be countered by throwing expensive manpower at the problem, but only by shifting the battlespace to advantageous geography, by a united navy and air force effort, while a technically advanced army holds the Himalayan border.

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Indian Army Memorial in Italy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: World History: India's contribution in two World Wars

During his four-day visit to the UK and Italy, the Indian Army Chief will inaugurate the Indian Army Memorial at Cassino in Italy, about 140 km away from Rome.

What is the memorial about?

  • The memorial commemorates over 3,100 Commonwealth servicemen who took part in the effort to liberate Italy in World War II.
  • Apart from this, 900 Indian soldiers were also commemorated on this memorial.

What was happening in Italy in WWII?

  • Under Benito Mussolini, Italy had joined Nazi Germany in 1936 and in 1940 it entered WWII (1939-1945) against the Allies.
  • But in 1943, Mussolini was overthrown and instead, Italy declared war on Germany.
  • The invasion of Italy by the Allies coincided with an armistice that was made with the Italians.
  • Even so, the UK’s National Army Museum notes that for two years during WWII, Italy became one of the war’s most “exhausting campaigns” because they were facing a skilled and resolute enemy.

What was India’s involvement in World War II?

  • In the first half of the 1940s, India was still under British rule and the Indian Army fought in both the world wars.
  • It comprised both Indian and European soldiers.
  • Apart from this, there was the East India Company Army that also recruited both Indian and European soldiers and the British Army, which was also present in India.

India the largest volunteer

  • Indian Army was the largest volunteer force during WWII, with over 2.5 million (more than 20 lakh) Indians participating.
  • These troops fought the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) as part of the Allies.
  • By 1945, the Allies had won, Italy had been liberated, Adolf Hitler was dead and India was barely a couple of years short of independence.
  • However, while millions of Indians participated, their efforts are not always recognized.

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The problem now with the military synergy plan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Integrated Theatre Commands

Mains level: Issues over the constitution of ITC

The recent controversy over the alleged marginalization of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the proposed ‘theaterisation’ of the national security landscape has led to some debates.

IAF concerned over ITC

  • The Indian military continues to work in silos, like all governmental agencies in India, and a need was rightly felt and directions issued by PM to bring about jointness.
  • The aim is to bring about synergy in operations while economizing through the elimination of duplication and wasteful practices or processes.
  • IAF is keen to bring in the requisite reforms to improve the war-fighting capabilities of the Indian military as a whole while also economizing.

Reservations of IAF

  • In the current formulation of theatres, the objections from the IAF have essentially been due to air power being seen as an adjunct to the two surface forces.
  • IAF veterans feel that the IAF is being divided into penny packets which would seriously degrade the effectiveness of air operations in any future conflict or contingency.
  • They feel that the use of air power is found to be sub-optimal under the military ethos of “an order is an order”.

Hurry by the CDS

  • Concurrently, such an intellectual exercise would identify duplication, wasteful resources and practices.
  • This is what the CDS should have been pursuing before first freezing the structure and then trying to glue the pieces together or hammer square pegs in round holes.
  • Only such a strategy can define the types of contingencies the military is expected to address, leading to appropriate military strategies, doctrines and required capabilities.

Why is the IAF right?

  • Airpower is the lead element, particularly since the Indian political aim, even in the foreseeable future, is unlikely to be the occupation of new territories.
  • A large, manpower-intensive army with unusable armour formations would then also come into focus.
  • Even the proposed air defence command conflicts with the domain command in the seamless employment of airpower.
  • It is due to the absence of such an intellectual exercise that the IAF does not wish to see its limited resources scattered away in fighting defensive battles by a land force commander with little expertise.
  • The Army fails to realise that offensive air power is best not seen, busy keeping the enemy air force pinned down elsewhere as shown in 1971.

The Army-Air Force silo

  • Historically, the Indian Army has always kept the IAF out of the information loop and demonstrated a penchant to ‘go it alone’.
  • The charge that the IAF joined the party late during Kargil (1999) is also totally baseless and shows a lack of knowledge of events and a failure to learn from historical facts.
  • Recorded facts and a dispassionate view would clearly show that the IAF began conducting reconnaissance missions as soon as the Army just made a request for attack helicopters.
  • This despite the IAF pointing out the unsuitability of armed helicopters at these altitudes and their vulnerability.
  • The use of offensive air power close to the Line of Control also required that the political leadership be kept informed due to possibilities of escalation, something that the Army was unwilling to do.

Echoes from Kargil

  • Seen in this light, the Chinese incursion into Eastern Ladakh last year is reminiscent of Kargil.
  • While the response has been swift, it is evident that a clear intent to use combat air power, as against 1962, has significantly contributed in deterring China.
  • However, such intent and a joint strategy would have been forcefully signalled by the presence of air force representatives in the ongoing negotiations to restore status quo ante.
  • The continuing build-up of the infrastructure for the PLA Air Force in Tibet further emphasizes the need for an air-land strategy, with air power as the lead element to deter or defeat the Chinese designs at coercion.

National security strategy should be at the centerstage

  • If war is the continuation of politics by other means, then it is essential to first define the political objectives flowing into a national security strategy before any effective use of force can be truly contemplated.
  • The failures of the mightiest militaries in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and even our own Indian misadventure in Sri Lanka bear testimony to the lack of clear political objectives and appropriate military strategies.
  • It is, therefore, unfortunate that even after over seven decades after Independence, India still does not have a clearly articulated national security strategy.

Address the structural gaps

  • Finally, theatre or any lower structure requires an institutionalized higher defence organization, which has been sadly missing.
  • This has lead to little regular dialogue between the political and military leadership, except in crises resulting in knee-jerk responses.
  • This led to a remark from a scholar-warrior that, “it is ironic that the Cabinet has an Accommodation Committee but not a Defence Committee”.
  • In the current proposal, it appears that the CDS, as the permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), would also exercise operational control of the theatre/functional commands.

Way forward

  • Prudence demands that instead of ramming down such structures without adequate deliberations and discussions with all stakeholders.
  • We need to first evolve appropriate military strategies in a nuclear backdrop in concert with the political objectives.
  • Thereafter, joint planning and training for all foreseen contingencies, with war-gaming, would automatically indicate the required structures with suitable command, control and communications.

Conclusion

  • We must remember that in war there is no prize for the runner-up.
  • It is better that such objections and dissenting opinions come out now before the structure is formalized than once it is set in stone.
  • The nation would then end up paying a heavy price, with the Air Force carrying the burden and blame for the failures.

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Proposal for Integrated Theatre Commands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Integrated Theatre Commands

Mains level: Joint operability of the armed forces

The Chief of Defence Staff has held a meeting with the Vice Chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and others in the backdrop of concerns about the proposed model of the integrated theatre commands.

What are integrated theatre commands?

  • In the simplest words, it is a unified command under which all the resources of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are pooled, depending on the threat perception.
  • The commands could be geographical — like looking at a border with a particular country — or thematic, like a command for all maritime threats.
  • Several nations in the world have theatre commands, including the United States and China.

Is theatre commands a new idea?

  • The idea of creating an integrated tri-Services command in India is not new — it had been recommended at various levels after the Kargil conflict.
  • When Gen Rawat was appointed Chief of Defence Staff in January 2020 with a mandate to raise such commands within his three-year tenure, the idea was finally brought to the design table.
  • After his appointment, Gen Rawat had commissioned studies within each of the armed forces to come up with ideas of what these commands could look like.
  • These were headed by the Vice Chiefs of the forces.
  • Last year, Gen Rawat had suggested that the first of these commands, the Air Defence Command, could come up by the end of 2020.
  • However, the process has been delayed due to multiple factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Officials are now suggesting that some of the new commands could be rolled out by the end of this year.

What is the proposal under discussion?

  • A model with four to five integrated tri-Services theatre commands is under discussion, with each command headed by a three-star officer.
  • This officer, the theatre commander, will report to the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), which, as the name suggests, includes the three Service Chiefs, and is headed by the CDS as its permanent chairman.
  • This brings in a major change — the Service chiefs currently have all the operational control over their forces; operational powers will now move to the COSC.
  • Each of these commands will have the needed assets from all the three forces. Operational control over all of those assets, regardless of the force, will lie with the commander of that theatre.

The proposed commands are:

  • A Maritime Theatre Command, which will take care of all the maritime security needs of the country on both the eastern and the western seaboards, and will include air strike assets and amphibian forces of the Army.
  • An Air Defence Command, which will be mandated with air defence across the country and beyond. The fighter jets will have reconnaissance and surveillance assets as well.
  • Two or three land-based commands are proposed. If there are two commands, there will be one each for India’s borders with China and Pakistan.
  • But there is also a proposal to have another command looking at India’s borders with Pakistan and China in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
  • There will be a Logistics Command, which will have the logistics of all the Services under one person; and there will be a Training and Doctrine Command, so that all Services work under a common doctrine and have some basic common training.

What will be the role of the Services, if not operational?

  • As of now, the Services have to speak to each other in times of need and urgency to request their assets to conduct a particular operation.
  • The proposal is to have a theatre commander who will have operational control of the assets under his command, thus enhancing jointness among the forces, and also reducing duplication of resources.
  • However, this would leave the Service chiefs with no direct control over their assets operationally.
  • This does not mean their roles will be made redundant. Now the Services will have the core tasks to Raise, Train and Sustain their respective forces.
  • Also, as each chief will be a member of the COSC and an expert of his/her domain, his or her inputs will be necessary for all operational decisions.

Readiness of the services

  • Sources within the Services and the Defence Ministry have mentioned that while the Army and the Navy are on board with the proposal, the Air Force has certain reservations.
  • One, the Air Force does not want the Air Force chief to lose operational control of Air assets, according to the sources.
  • Two, the Air Force is concerned that all of its assets might be divided within these integrated theatres.
  • Sources in the Air Force said that all such concerns need to be addressed before such a significant transformation of the defence set-up takes place.

How many commands are there now; are any of them tri-Service commands?

As of now, the three forces have 17 commands between them.

  • The Army has seven commands: Northern, Eastern, Southern, Western, Central, Southwestern and Army Training Command (ARTRAC).
  • The Air Force has seven as well: Western, Eastern, Southern, Southwestern, Central, Training, and Maintenance commands.
  • The Navy has three: Western, Eastern and Southern, of which Southern is largely about training.
  • Even if these commands operate in the same region, they are not co-located, and their areas of operational responsibility are not necessarily the same.
  • There are two existing tri-Service commands as well — the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), which is headed by rotation by officers from the three Services.

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Exercise ‘Shantir Ogroshena’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise 'Shantir Ogroshena'

Mains level: NA

Indian Army team comprising officers, junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and soldiers from the Dogra regiment will participate in the multilateral exercise ‘Shantir Ogroshena’ (front runner of peace).

The name very much suggests that the exercise is hosted by Bangladesh. But one must note, it’s a multilateral exercise.

Shantir Ogroshena

  • Indian Army will participate in Multinational Military Exercise namely SHANTIR OGROSHENA -2021 in Bangladesh.
  • The nine days exercise will start on the 4th of this month to commemorate the birth centenary of Bangladesh Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and mark glorious 50 years of liberation.
  • The theme of the exercise is ‘Robust Peace Keeping Operations’. Military observers from the US, UK, Turkey, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Singapore will also be in attendance throughout the exercise.
  • Military observers from the USA, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Singapore will also be in attendance throughout the exercise.

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Joint Logistics Node (JLN)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Joint Logistics Node

Mains level: Paper 3- Joint Logistics Node

As part of measures to boost tri-service integration and resource optimisation, Chief of Defence Staff General has operationalised the third joint logistics node (JLN) in Mumbai.

Must read:

Explained: How to unify defence resources

Joint Logistics Node (JLN)

  • The Joint Operations Division (JOD) under the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff pursued and enabled the establishment of the JLNs.
  • JLNs provide integrated logistics cover to the armed forces for their small arms ammunition, rations, fuel, general stores, civil hired transport, aviation clothing, spares and also engineering support to synergise their operational efforts.
  • The initiative would accrue advantages in terms of saving of manpower, economize utilization of resources, besides financial savings.
  • It is a very important first step in the direction of logistics integration of our three Services.
  • The government has operationalised the establishment of the JLNs in Mumbai, Guwahati and Port Blair.

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[pib] Exercise Dustlik-II

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise Dustlik-II

Mains level: NA

The Second Edition of Joint Exercise Dustlik is scheduled from tomorrow.

Must read:

[Prelims Spotlight] Various Defence Exercises in News

Exercise Dustlik-II

  • It is a bilateral defence exercise held between the Indian Army And Uzbekistan Army.
  • It is named after Dustlik, a town in the Jizzakh region of Uzbekistan.
  • The first edition of the exercise, Dustlik-I was held in Uzbekistan, near Tashkent, from November 3-13, 2019.
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had flagged off the exercise along with his Uzbek counterpart, Major General Bakhodir Kurbanov in 2019 for the first time.
  • The joint exercise focused on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in urban settings.

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Arjun: Main Battle Tank MK-1A

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: MBT Arjun

Mains level: India's artillery capability

PM has recently handed over the indigenously developed Arjun Main Battle Tank (MK-1A) to the Indian Army.

Q.Discuss India’s preparedness for high-altitude warfare.

Arjun Main Battle Tank

  • The Arjun Main Battle Tank project was initiated by DRDO in 1972 with the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) as its lead laboratory.
  • The objective was to create a “state-of-the-art tank with superior firepower, high mobility, and excellent protection”.
  • During the development, the CVRDE achieved breakthroughs in the engine, transmission, hydro-pneumatic suspension, hull and turret as well as the gun control system.
  • Mass production began in 1996 at the Indian Ordnance Factory’s production facility in Avadi, Tamil Nadu.

Features of the Arjun tank

  • The Arjun tanks stand out for their ‘Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (FSAPDS)’ ammunition and 120-mm calibre rifled gun.
  • It also has a computer-controlled integrated fire control system with a stabilised sighting that works in all lighting conditions.
  • The secondary weapons include a co-axial 7.62-mm machine gun for anti-personnel and a 12.7-mm machine gun for anti-aircraft and ground targets.

How is Mk-1A different?

  • The Mk-1A version has 14 major upgrades on the earlier version.
  • It is also supposed to have missile firing capability as per the design, but this feature will be added later as final testing of the capability is still on.
  • However, the biggest achievement with the latest version is 54.3 per cent indigenous content against the 41 per cent in the earlier model.

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‘Smart walls’ for Indian Borders

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Smart fencing

Mains level: Border security of India

The new US President has stopped the construction of the much-publicized “border wall” between the U.S. and Mexico.

Q.Smart fencing along with physical fencing can protect major infiltration areas of Indian borders. Analyse its feasibility for India.

What is the news?

  • The Mexico–US barrier also known as the border wall is a series of vertical barriers along the border intended to reduce illegal immigration to the US.
  • Biden’s decision was confirmed, however, that an alternative has been offered — a ‘smart’ wall that replaces the physical and armed patrolling with advanced surveillance tech is the proposed future of border security now.

What is the Smart Wall?

  • The ‘smart wall’ technology could solve border security issues without the need for a physical barrier.
  • The wall would use sensors, radars, and surveillance technology to detect and track border break-ins, and technology capable of performing the most difficult tasks dedicated to border security.
  • The complete system of a virtual wall would consist of a radar satellite, computer-equipped border-control vehicles, control sensors and underground sensors.
  • Along with surveillance towers and cameras, thermal imaging would be used, which would help in the detection of objects.
  • The system would even be capable of distinguishing between animals, humans, and vehicles, and then sending updates to handheld mobile devices of the patrol agents.

Not a new concept

  • The concept is not new and the novelty of it cannot be directly associated with Biden.
  • Interestingly, the U.S.-Mexico border wall proposed by Donald Trump envisaged this concept.
  • A technology firm was sought to be hired by the Trump administration, and it was indicated that artificial intelligence shall be used at a novel scale to complement the steel barrier (border wall).

Feasibility for India

  • A question that now arises is whether such a project can be undertaken to secure Indian borders.
  • India has been struggling with the problem of terrorists and smugglers infiltrating into the country and efforts are ongoing to secure our borders and curb cross-border infiltration.
  • Therefore, it is proposed that it is high time we start envisaging the use of technology to help India secure its borders.

Various challenges

  • A critical factor that must be considered to enable the usage of such a system along Indian borders is that the terrain in the region is rugged, and, furthermore, not even clearly defined.
  • Hence, erecting fences, walls or any physical structures is extremely difficult.
  • A “smart” wall, however, makes use of systems that would be designed in such a way that they can operate even in rugged areas.
  • Imperatively, in the US various other benefits, such as cost-effectiveness, less damage to the environment, fewer land seizures, and speedier deployment are being noted.
  • This gives the concept an edge over traditional borders.

Benefits that Indian can reap

  • Notably, such a system, even if not feasible for our long boundaries, may still be deployed to enhance critical security establishments of the country and complement the already-existing physical fencing and walls.
  • This can no doubt secure the major infiltration areas.

Way forward

  • The attack on the Pathankot Airbase highlighted that often, it may become difficult to secure establishments due to their vast size.
  • Further, it is imperative for Indian armed forces to be well-equipped and simultaneously have the latest technological advantage over its enemies.
  • Experts must explore this idea to effectively counter the problem of cross-border infiltration.
  • Is it unfathomable to deploy a security system that clubs technology with traditional set-ups due to terrain and other problematic factors? This is a question for Digital India to answer.

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Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Yuddh Abhyas

Mains level: NA

The 16th edition of Indo-U.S. joint military exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas’ is set to be held in Rajasthan between February 8 and 21.

Yudh Abhyas

  • The exercise near the India-Pakistan border aims at enhancing cooperation and interoperability between the two armies and will focus on counter-terrorism operations under the UN mandate.
  • The drill comes days after the air forces of India and France held a five-day joint exercise in Rajasthan in January.
  • Exercise with U.S. Army is significant in terms of security challenges faced by both the nations in the backdrop of global terrorism.
  • The joint military exercise will enhance the level of defence cooperation between both armies which will also foster the bilateral relations between both nations.
  • It reiterates India’s key role as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region.

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What is Operation Meghdoot?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Operation Meghdoot

Mains level: Not Much

Colonel Narinder ‘Bull’ Kumar (Retd.), instrumental in the Army launching Operation Meghdoot and securing the dominating heights of Siachen Glacier in 1984 has passed away at 87.

Operation Meghdoot

  • Operation Meghdoot was the codename for the Indian Armed Forces’ operation to seize control of the Siachen Glacier in Kashmir, precipitating the Siachen conflict.
  • The Siachen then had become a bone of contention following a vague demarcation of territories in the Karachi Agreement of July 1949.
  • Executed in the morning of 13 April 1984, this military operation, launched on the highest battlefield in the world, was the first offensive of its kind.
  • The operation preempted Pakistan’s impending Operation Ababeel and was a success, resulting in Indian forces gaining control of the Siachen Glacier in its entirety.
  • Currently, the Indian Army remains the first and only army in the world to have taken tanks and other heavy ordnance up to such an altitude (well over 5,000 m or 16,000 ft).

Bull Kumar’s contributions

  • Kumar, a legendary mountaineer who had spotted Pakistani activities around the Siachen glacier in 1984 that helped India secure it subsequently.
  • He was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, in 1965.
  • He was decorated with Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM), Kirti Chakra, and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM).
  • The battalion headquarters on the glacier located close to an altitude of 16,000 feet is named “Kumar post” in his honor.

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Indian Army Updates

Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ATAGS

Mains level: India's capacity building for high mountain warfare

User trials of the indigenous Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will be held very soon.

Try this question for mains:

Q.Discuss why high-altitude warfare is challenging. Also, discuss India’s preparedness for a long-term war.

ATAGS System

  • The ATAGS is a 155-mm, 52-calibre artillery gun jointly developed by the DRDO in partnership with Bharat Forge of the Kalyani Group and the Tata Power SED.
  • ATAGS has greater than 95% of indigenous content. It set a world record for the longest unassisted projectile range of 48 kilometres.

Its features

  • The gun consists of a barrel, breech mechanism, muzzle brake and recoil mechanism to fire 155 mm calibre ammunition with a firing range of 48 km.
  • It has an all-electric drive to ensure reliability and minimum maintenance over a long period of time.
  • It has advanced features like high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communication system, automatic command and control system with night capability in direct fire mode.

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Indian Army Updates

What is Army Aviation Corps?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Army Aviation Corps

Mains level: Indian armed forces

The Army Aviation Corps (AAC), the youngest Corps of the Indian Army, has celebrated its 35th Corps Day.

Try this question for mains:

Q. Discuss why high-altitude warfare is challenging. Also, discuss India’s preparedness for a long-term war.

The Army Aviation Corps

  • The origin of the AAC can be traced back to the raising of the Army Aviation wing of the Royal Air Force in India in 1942, and the subsequent formation of the first Indian Air Observation Post in August 1947.
  • The Air Observation Post units primarily acted as artillery spotters – which are the elements that help the artillery in directing the fire and also giving air support to ground forces.
  • In the wars of 1965 and 1971, the Air Observation Post helicopters played a key role in the battlefields by flying close to the enemy lines and helping ground assets spot targets.
  • The Corps was raised as a separate formation on November 1 in 1986. The AAC now draws its officers and men from all arms of the Army, including a significant number from the artillery.

Significant battles

  • Immediately after raising, the units of the Corps were pressed into action in Operation Pawan by the Indian Peacekeeping Forces, in the mostly jungle areas of Sri Lanka.
  • Ever since AAC helicopters have been an inseparable part of fighting formations in all major conflict scenarios and a life-saving asset in peace times.

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Indian Army Updates

Assam Rifles and the tussle between MoD and MHA

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Assam Rifles

Mains level: India's paramilitary forces

The Delhi High Court has granted 12 weeks to the Union government to decide on whether to scrap or retain the dual control structure for Assam Rifles. Presently it comes under both the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

What is the Assam Rifles?

  • Assam Rifles is one of the six central armed police forces (CAPFs) under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • The other forces being the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
  • It is tasked with the maintenance of law and order in the North East along with the Indian Army and also guards the Indo-Myanmar border in the region.
  • It has a sanctioned strength of over 63,000 personnel and has 46 battalions apart from administrative and training staff.

Making of the regiment

  • Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force raised way back in 1835 in British India with just 750 men.
  • Since then it has gone on to fight in two World Wars, the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and used as an anti-insurgency force against militant groups in the North East.
  • Raised as a militia to protect British tea estates and its settlements from the raids of the NE tribes, the force was first known as Cachar Levy.
  • It was reorganized later as Assam Frontier Force as its role was expanded to conduct punitive operations beyond Assam borders.

How is it unique?

  • It is the only paramilitary force with a dual control structure. While the administrative control of the force is with the MHA, its operational control is with the Indian Army, which is under the MoD.
  • This means that salaries and infrastructure for the force is provided by the MHA, but the deployment, posting, transfer and deputation of the personnel is decided by the Army.
  • All its senior ranks, from DG to IG and sector headquarters, are manned by officers from the Army. The force is commanded by Lt. General from the Indian Army.
  • The force is the only central paramilitary force (CPMF) in a real sense as its operational duties and regimentation are on the lines of the Indian Army.
  • However, its recruitment, perks, promotion of its personnel and retirement policies are governed according to the rules framed by the MHA for CAPFs.

Why do both MHA and MoD want full control?

  • MHA has argued that all the border guarding forces are under the operational control of the ministry and so Assam Rifles coming under MHA will give border guarding a comprehensive and integrated approach.
  • MHA sources also say that Assam Rifles continues to function on the pattern set during the 1960s and the ministry would want to make guarding of the Indo-Myanmar border on the lines of other CAPFs.
  • The Army, for its part, has been arguing that there is no need to fix what isn’t broken.
  • Sources say the Army is of the opinion that the Assam Rifles has worked well in coordination with the Army and frees up the armed forces from many of its responsibilities to focus on its core strengths.
  • It has argued that giving the control of the force to MHA or merging it with any other CAPF will confuse the force and jeopardize national security.

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Indian Army Updates

Special Frontier Force: The Vikas Battalion

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Special Frontier Force (SFF)

Mains level: India's security forces

There have been reports that a Special Frontier Force (SFF) unit, referred to as Vikas Battalion, has been instrumental in occupying some key heights on the LAC.

Try this question for mains:

Q.“It cannot be business as usual with China after the border clash.” Critically comment.

What is the Special Frontier Force (SFF)?

  • SFF was raised in the immediate aftermath of the 1962 Sino-India war.
  • It was a covert outfit which recruited Tibetans (now it has a mixture of Tibetans and Gorkhas) and initially went by the name of Establishment 22.
  • It was named so because it was raised by Major General Sujan Singh Uban, an Artillery officer who had commanded 22 Mountain Regiment.
  • He, therefore, named the new covert group after his regiment. Subsequently, the group was renamed as Special Frontier Force.
  • SFF now falls under the purview of the Cabinet Secretariat where it is headed by an Inspector General who is an Army officer of the rank of Major General.

Is SFF a part of the Army?

  • Strictly speaking, the SFF units are not part of the Army but they function under the operational control of the Army.
  • The units have their own rank structures which have equivalent status with Army ranks.
  • However, they are highly trained Special Forces personnel who can undertake a variety of tasks which would normally be performed by any Special Forces unit.
  • The SFF units, therefore, function virtually as any other Army unit in operational areas despite having a separate charter and history.

Major operations conducted

  • There are several overt and covert operations in which SFF units have taken part over the years.
  • They took part in operations in the 1971 war, Operation Blue Star in Golden Temple Amritsar, Kargil conflict and in counter-insurgency operations in the country.
  • There are several other operations too in which the SFF has participated but the details are classified.

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Indian Army Updates

Exercise Indra 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exercise Indra

Mains level: India-Russia defence ties

Amid high operational alert by the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) India and Russia are scheduled to hold the bilateral naval exercise, Indra 2020, in the Andaman Sea, close to the strategic Strait of Malacca.

[Prelims Spotlight]: Various Defence Exercises in News

https://www.civilsdaily.com/prelims-spotlight-various-defence-exercises-in-news/

Exercise Indra

  • It is a joint, tri-services exercise between India and Russia
  • This series of exercise began in 2003 and the First joint Tri-Services Exercise was conducted in 2017.
  • Company sized mechanized contingents, fighter and transport aircraft, as well as ships of respective Army, Air Force and Navy, participate in this exercise of ten days duration.

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Indian Army Updates

Exercise Kavkaz 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kavkaz 2020

Mains level: NA

In a resumption of bilateral and multilateral military exercises which were deferred due to coronavirus (COVID-19), India will take part in the Russian Kavkaz 2020 strategic command-post exercise next month.

Go through the list for once. UPSC may ask a match the pair type question asking exercise name and countries involved.

https://www.civilsdaily.com/prelims-spotlight-defence-exercises/

Kavkaz 2020

  • The Kavkaz 2020 is also referred to as Caucasus-2020.
  • The exercise is aimed at assessing the ability of the armed forces to ensure military security in Russia’s southwest, where serious terrorist threats persist and preparing for the strategic command-staff drills.
  • The main training grounds that will be involved are located in the Southern Military District.
  • The invitation for participation has been extended to at least 18 countries including China, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey apart from other Central Asian Republics part of the SCO.

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Indian Army Updates

Time to revisit the strategies on northern borders

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 3-Northern border security issue

Two issues have been discussed in this article:change in strategy on northern border and the role of political leaders. Leveraging LAC for premeditated aggression has been part of China’s policy. This makes the change in our policy an imperative.

LAC as leverage against India

  • India and China have had parleys since 1981, meetings of Joint Working Groups from 1988 to 2005 and 22 rounds of Special Representatives talks, in addition to many summit-level meetings.
  • Despite nearly four decades of discussions delineation and demarcation of the boundary has not been possible.
  • Throughout this period CMC/PLA had been at the helm of the defence and foreign policy decision-making,
  • The intrusion at Finger 4/5 of Pangong Tso and the transgression up to LAC in Galwan are instructive.
  • Out of the blue, most inexplicably and without any historical basis, the official Chinese statement came out seeking the “estuary” of Shyok and Galwan rivers.
  • The Chinese have deliberately ensured that the nebulous nature of the LAC is retained as leverage against India.

Modernisation of PLA: So, was Galwan a testbed?

  • The PLA is at the threshold of achieving its interim modernisation goals of informatised, integrated joint operations by 2021.
  • It is well likely that the events of Eastern Ladakh of May-June 2020 are part of a larger testbed.
  • Over the years, the face-offs have witnessed PLA’s jostling and pushing, posse of horses intruding, and scant disregard for the treaties with India.
  • Pangong Tso and Galwan showed a new picture.

Need to strategise and revisit the rules of engagement

  • For the Indian Army units and formations in Eastern Ladakh or elsewhere facing the PLA, there are limits to adherence to good faith and honour.
  •  The Indian Army has to strategise and should revisit its rules of engagement on the Northern Borders.
  • It has to be mindful that troops in tactical situations cannot be shackled by past treaties, which the PLA deals with disdain.
  • The Indian Army has to remain prepared to militarily handle the situations that will arise.
  • PLA has always shown extraordinary interest in Eastern Ladakh, especially Daulat-Beg-Oldi, the Chip-Chap river, Track Junction and Karakoram Pass.
  • The management practices for the Northern Borders have to be revisited, like placing the nearly division-sized force of ITBP in Eastern Ladakh under the army operationally.
  • Real-time intelligence, surveillance equipment and satellite imageries must be available to field formations that need to act on it.
  • This should not be delayed by the bureaucratic maze.

Role of political leadership

  • At political level, there are representative forums like Parliament, the committees and regular briefings to seek clarifications, which is the right of politicians.
  • On national security issues, there must be national unity.
  • There ought to be faith in those at the helm that the issues of national security will not be sacrificed for political gains.
  • Similarly, within the norms and constraints of national security, the establishment must keep the nation informed, to avoid an information vacuum.

Conclusion

We need to strategise for the future, including the modern manifestations of non-contact, non-kinetic warfare. We must avoid unnecessary nitpicking on semantics of statements made in a particular context.

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Indian Army Updates

Why high-altitude warfare is challenging, how soldiers are trained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Galwan valley, Shyok River

Mains level: Mountain warfare preparedness of India

The violent standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley of Ladakh region has thrown the spotlight on high-altitude warfare and the challenges that troops face, particularly when advantageous positions on the heights are occupied by the other side.

In the clouds of war, one may recall the huge amount of casualties faced by the Indian Army compared to the Pakistani side (being at advantageous positions) during the Kargil War.

Try this question for mains:

Q. Discuss why high-altitude warfare is challenging. Also discuss about India’s preparedness for a long-term war.

How is high-altitude warfare fought?

  • High-altitude warfare is fought keeping the terrain and weather in mind.
  • The kind of infrastructure and training that the troops require for high-altitude warfare are key factors.
  • The evolution of such warfare goes back a long way: European countries had mountain brigades in view of the kind of terrain prevalent in those countries.
  • The harshness of the terrain calls for a specialised kind of training to prepare soldiers in terms of mindset and acclimatization.

How is India equipped in such warfare?

  • Generally, India is considered a hub of mountain warfare skills since most of the country’s north and northeast requires such skills.
  • Ladakh Scouts are considered the best in this kind of warfare.
  • Mountain chop, a tactic involved in such warfare, evolved in India where the mountainous terrain is very difficult to scale.
  • To begin with, the troops are imparted training in basic and advance training in mountaineering to make them equipped for mountain warfare.

Actual tactics involved

  • The mindsets of the enemy sitting above are assessed. Taking stock of the entire situation, one needs to find out the easiest approaches.
  • Especially when there are vertical cliffs, it is generally perceived that the enemy that has taken defensive positions will be less guarded from the side of difficult approaches.
  • Basically, the most difficult approaches where the enemy is likely to give the least resistance need to be used efficiently.

What are the challenges involved in warfare in a high-altitude place like Galwan Valley?

  • A big factor is who has taken defensive positions and who is sitting on higher ground.
  • Once troops are sitting on high ground, it becomes very difficult to dislodge them from there.
  • In a place like Galwan Valley, which is absolutely barren, there is not much hiding place.
  • The soldier on high ground is absolutely stationary, which makes those on lower terrain easy targets; the enemy can pick them up one by one.
  • Normally in mountain warfare, troops on lower ground use a combat ratio of 1:6, but in circumstances as in Galwan, it may go up to 1:10.

How to approach such situations?

  • Generally, mountain warfare is fought using the period of darkness to reach the opposing army, engage and overpower them before the first light of day.
  • In case troops do not have the capabilities, fitness or strategies to do so before dawn, then it is a lost cause.
  • But without adequate trained troops who are well-versed with the terrain and are properly acclimatized, it is not an easy game.

What are the other challenges faced by soldiers in high altitudes?

  • The first major factor is acclimatization since the oxygen supply reduces drastically.
  • Next, the load-carrying capacity of individuals reduces drastically.
  • Things move very slowly in the mountains and mobilization of troops consumes time.
  • Thus, time and place need to be kept on top priority when deciding where the troops have to be stationed and how they have to be mobilized.

What are the logistical challenges in this kind of warfare?

  • One major challenge is that weapons jam, particularly in high-altitude areas.
  • When a soldier is at a height of 17,000 ft or above, it is very cold, and he needs to grease the weapons and clean the barrels at least once a week to ensure they function efficiently.
  • But at the time of combat, this becomes difficult.
  • Vehicles do not start when fuel jams. If the fuel is diesel, it won’t ignite unless it is mixed with thinners or other chemicals to make them thin enough to fire the engine.

Ensuring proper reinforcement

  • In Galwan, which is an extremely tactical area and strategically important, reinforcement plays a vital role, particularly when the Indian troops are not in a position of advantage.
  • For communication equipment, troops need to carry more batteries because they drain very quickly at high altitude.
  • While a battery tends to last for 24 hours in the plains, it will drain in 1-2 hours in these severely cold areas.
  • Transport animals such as mules need to be used to maintain adequate supplies, which is not an easy task. Weather constraints play a major factor.

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Indian Army Updates

“Tour of Duty (ToD) Scheme” for Short Service in Indian Army

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ToD Scheme

Mains level: Need for restructure of the armed forces

The Indian Army has planned to take civilians on a three-year “Tour of Duty” (ToD) or short service” on a trial basis to serve as officers and in other ranks initially for a limited number of vacancies which will be expanded later.

Practice question for mains:

Q. The “Tour of Duty” (ToD) Scheme is a significant move to free up funds for the Army’s modernization. Comment.

Tour of Duty Scheme

  • Indian Army is thinking to induct youngsters for three-year “Tour of Duty (ToD) tenure as both officers and jawans.
  • The ToD scheme, in case approved, will initially be launched with around 100 vacancies for officers and 1,000 for jawans.
  • As per Army, a ToD officer will earn Rs 80,000-90,000 per month. After ToD tenure, youngsters can find lucrative private and public sector jobs.
  • The Army says it will restructure the cadre and help modernize the force.

Advantages of ToD Scheme

  • ToD is expected to result in a significant reduction in the expenditure on pay and pensions and free up funds for the Army’s modernization.
  • The overall purpose of the ToD concept is ‘internship/temporary experience’.
  • There will be no requirement of attractive severance packages, resettlement courses, professional encashment training leave, ex-servicemen status, ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme for ToD officers and other ranks.
  • Analysing the cost of training incurred on each personnel compared with the limited employment of the manpower for three years, the proposal calculates that it will indeed have a positive benefit.

The cost factor

  • The approximate cost incurred is nearly ₹5.12 crore and ₹6.83 crores for a Short Service Commission (SSC) officer if he or she is released from service after 10 and 14 years, respectively.
  • The costs for those released after a three-year ToD is just ₹80-85 lakh.
  • Similarly, estimates for a jawan with 17 years of service as compared to a ToD recruit with three years’ service shows that the prospective lifetime savings of just one jawan are ₹11.5 crores.
  • Thus, savings for only 1,000 jawans could be ₹11,000 crores, which could be used for the much-needed modernization of the Army.

Other benefits

  • This scheme is for those who did not want a full career in the Army but still wanted to put on the uniform.
  • Individuals who opted for ToD would get a much higher salary than their peers in the corporate sector.
  • They would also have an edge after leaving the service and going to the corporate sector.
  • The Army hoped that this would attract individuals from the best colleges, including the Indian Institutes of Technology.

Back2Basics: Permanent Commission (PC) Vs. Short Service Commission (SSC)

  • SSC means an officer’s career will be of a limited period in the Indian Armed Forces whereas a PC means they shall continue to serve in the Indian Armed Forces, till they retire.
  • The officers inducted through the SSC usually serve for a period of 14 years. At the end of 10 years, the officers have three options.
  • A PC entitles an officer to serve in the Navy till he/she retires unlike SSC, which is currently for 10 years and can be extended by four more years, or a total of 14 years.
  • They can either select for a PC or opt-out or have the option of a 4-years extension. They can resign at any time during this period of 4 years extension.

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Indian Army Updates

What are Integrated Battle Groups (IBG)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Integrated Battle Groups (IBG)

Mains level: Need for IBG

The Army’s new concept of agile Integrated Battle Groups (IBG) as part of the overall force transformation will be operationalised very soon, confirmed Army Chief.

Practice question for mains:

The deployment of Integrated Battle Groups (IBG) is necessary for counter-insurgency operations across the terror hit borders of India. Discuss.

What are IBGs?

  • IBGs are brigade-sized, agile, self-sufficient combat formations, which can swiftly launch strikes against an adversary in case of hostilities.
  • Each IBG would be tailor-made based on Threat, Terrain and Task and resources will be allotted based on the three Ts.
  • They need to be light so they will be low on logistics and they will be able to mobilise within 12-48 hrs based on the location.
  • An IBG operating in a desert needs to be constituted differently from an IBG operating in the mountains.
  • The key corps of the Army is likely to be reorganized into 1-3 IBGs.

Objective of IBG

  • Holistic integration to enhance the operational and functional efficiency, optimize budget expenditure, facilitate force modernization and address aspirations

Structure

  • While a command is the largest static formation of the Army spread across defined geography, a corps is the largest mobile formation.
  • Typically each corps has about three brigades.
  • The idea is to reorganise them into IBGs which are brigade-sized units but have all the essential elements like infantry, armoured, artillery and air defence embedded together based on the three Ts.
  • The IBGs will also be defensive and offensive. While the offensive IBGs would quickly mobilise and make a thrust into enemy territory for strikes, defensive IBGs would hold ground at vulnerable points or where enemy action is expected.

Why need IBGs?

  • After the terrorist attack on the Parliament, the Indian military undertook massive mobilization but the Army’s formations which deep inside took weeks to mobilise losing the element of surprise.
  • Following this, the Army formulated a proactive doctrine known as ‘Cold Start’ to launch swift offensive but its existence was consistently denied in the past.
  • Its existence was acknowledged for the first time by Gen Rawat in January 2017.

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Indian Army Updates

[pib] Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR-2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ex. AJEYA WARRIOR

Mains level: Not Much

Fifth edition of Joint Military Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR-2020 between India and United Kingdom will be conducted at Salisbury Plains, United Kingdom.

Ex. AJEYA WARRIOR

  • Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR with United Kingdom is an important exercise in terms of the security challenges faced by both the nations in the realm of changing facets of global terrorism.
  • The exercise will comprise of 120 soldiers each from Indian and United Kingdom Army who would be sharing their experiences gained during conduct of various counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations in the past.
  • The aim of this exercise is to conduct company level joint training with emphasis on counter terrorists operation in Urban and Semi Urban areas.
  • The exercise is conducted alternatively in United Kingdom and India.

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Indian Army Updates

Sharang Artillery Gun

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sharang

Mains level: Modernisation measures of the Indian Army

 

The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has handed over Sharang, the first 130mm M-46 artillery gun upgraded to 155mm to the Indian Army.

About Sharang

  • Sharang is the 130mm artillery gun ‘up-gunned’ to 155mm, 45 calibre up-gunning based on the Army’s tender.
  • The gun’s range has now gone from 27km to over 36km with the upgrade.
  • It also has more explosive capability and hence and more damage potential.
  • This step will reduce the logistic trail of the Army as it does away with the need to carry 130mm shells and support equipment as the mainstay of the Army’s long range artillery is 155mm guns.

Other artilleries of Indian Army

  • After close to three decades, the Army inducted its first modern artillery guns system in November 2018.
  • These include M-777 Ultra Light Howitzers (ULH) from the U.S. and K9 Vajra-T self-propelled artillery guns from South Korea.
  • The Army has the older, battle-proven Bofors 155mm guns in service. The 155mm Dhanush towed gun system, developed based on the Bofors guns by OFB, is under induction.
  • In October last year, the Army procured and inducted 155mm Excalibur precision guided ammunition from the U.S. which gives its 155mm artillery guns extended range and also the ability to hit targets with very high accuracy.

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Indian Army Updates

Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) Model 

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: GOCO Model

Mains level: Various investment models

Indian Army has initiated the process of identifying potential industry partners to implement the Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) model for its base workshops and ordnance depots intended to improve operational efficiency.

GOCO model

  • The GOCO model was one of the recommendations of the Lt. Gen. DB Shekatkar (Retd.) committee to enhance combat capability and re-balancing defence expenditure.
  • In GOCO model, the assets owned by government will be operated by the private industries.
  • Under the GOCO model, the private companies need not make investments on land, machinery and other support systems.
  • The missions are set by government and the private sectors are given full independence in implementing the missions using their best practices.
  • The main advantage of the model is that the targets are achieved in lesser time frame. Also, it will boost competitiveness among the private entities paving way to newer technologies.

Who will be eligible under the mode?

  • The service provider should be an Indian registered company with at least 10 years of working experience in related domains and have an average annual turnover of ₹50 crore for each of the last three financial years.

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