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Navy Admiral Sunil Lanba appointed as chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Thursday took over the baton of the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) from outgoing IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha even as the government plans to create a new post to focus exclusively on inter-services issues and acquisitions.He would, however, be assuming charge as Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee with effect from afternoon of December 31.Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh, who also retires from service on December 31 and Principal Staff Officers of all three Services and HQ Integrated Defence Staff were present on the occasion.The government is working on either creating a post of chief of defence staff (CDS) or a permanent chairman CoSC chairman.While the contentious CDS is likely to be a five star post, the permanent Chairman COSC will be a four-star, a post that that the three Services have agreed to.Admiral Lanba assumed command of the Indian Navy on May 31 this year. He is a Navigation and Direction specialist and has served on board numerous ships in both the Eastern and Western Fleets. Air Chief Marshal Raha, had taken over as Chairman COSC on August 1, 2014. Under his stewardship, the Services received a vital boost in jointmanship, a statement by the Defence Ministry said.During his tenure the Defence Communication Network got operationalised and training standards of the Tri Service Institutes such as NDA, DSSC and CDM were enhanced. The much awaited National War Museum got approval from the government.He was instrumental in enhancing the role of military diplomacy with friendly foreign countries, the statement added.Various Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations during crisis situations both within and outside India such as J&K floods, Chennai floods, evacuation of Indian and foreign nationals from Yemen and Nepal Earthquake were successfully conducted.He also played a pivotal role in formulation of the new Defence Procurement Procedure, thereby “streamlining and fast tracking defence procurement which has so far been plagued by laborious procedures and long delays”.

Chief of Defence Staff coming? A flood of questions on ‘when’ and ‘who’ but still no answers

The last day of 2016 — 31 December — was to be a unique situation when reins of both the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were to be taken over by new Service Chiefs. Two Service Chiefs retiring together in itself would have been unique because it would have implied Admiral Sunil Lanba, present Naval Chief will continue as the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) till he hangs his spurs in July 2019, which is if the government does not appoint a Permanent Chairman COSC (PC COSC) or a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the interim. Though there have been plenty rumours, even indications by the Defence Minister, that a PC COSC or CDS is in the offing, it is not the political calculations of when such announcement will be made or who should be the incumbent, but in what form and with what authority this new appointment will be positioned.

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. PTIArmy Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. PTI

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. PTI

Should the government take a decision now, any out of General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi, Lieutenant General PM Hariz, or for that matter any officer of equivalent rank from Indian Navy or Indian Air Force could be appointed PC COSC or CDS, with the previous government already having stated that the CDS / PC COSC need not be senior to the Service Chiefs. But, whether a CDS / PC COSC will actually get appointed itself is a question mark, given the games Ministry of Defence plays that can beat Chinese Checkers any day.

South Block is famous for rumours and intrigue but what is cooking, the flavour floats in all directions. The fact that General Dalbir Singh Suhag, present Army Chief has been given 10 days extension can mean two things: first, that Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Chief Designate gets more time for taking over from the General Suhag, and; second, when the current Air Chief retires on 31 December, Suhag will become senior to Sunil Lamba for taking over the baton of Chairman COSC in the rotational capacity. In both instances, after 31 December, Suhag would be senior-most to be Chairman COSC. Why has the government given Suhag the 10-day extension is perhaps to elevate him either as CDS or PC COSC, even as the previous government had clarified that the PC COSC / CDS may not be senior to the Service Chiefs. Another rumour going strong is that Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, Eastern Army Commander, may be positioned as PC COSC or CDS. But, whether a CDS / PC COSC will actually get appointed itself is a question mark, given the games Ministry of Defence plays that can beat Chinese Checkers any day.

It may be recalled that news reports of July 2015, quoting Ministry of Defence sources, talked about the proposal to create the post of a PC COSC being at “an advanced stage” albeit the issue required ultimate approval by the Union cabinet. Significantly, media also stated that in creating the post of PC COSC, the three Service Chiefs will be left operationally-independent to run their own Services. The perception being built was that the PC COSC would: one, provide single-point advice to the government; two, inject synergy between the Services in doctrinal, planning, procurement and operational matters; three, prioritise inter-service procurements to build long-term capabilities; four, manage country’s strategic resources and nuclear arsenal, and; five, integrate Services HQ with Ministry of Defence and reduce civil-military divide.

Such jargon may impress the public but the establishment and the military know that the PC COSC ‘without operational powers’ would be no different from the current system of having a rotational chairman; primarily making projections for the annual defence budget, in addition to the responsibility of Out of Area Contingencies (OOAC).

Reports of the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) and follow up Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by then deputy prime minister LK Advani had both strongly recommended creation of the CDS. The term PC COSC was recommended by the Naresh Chandra Committee after Naresh Chandra was reportedly briefed by then NSA, Shivshankar Menon to make such recommendation. It was a bureaucratic mischief deliberately to water down the CDS. There is every reason to believe that top bureaucrat and then prime minister Manmohan Singh was behind this. The duo were also behind inserting the reference to Balochistan in the joint statement after the India-Pakistan summit at Sharam El Sheikh in 2009, which was ‘not’ part of draft sent by our mission in Islamabad. Manmohan and Shivshankar Menon were the reason why the Indian contingent of the Indo-Pak Track II, under the aegis of the Atlantic Council of Ottawa, recommended that India withdraw from Saltoro range in Siachen area at a great strategic disadvantage.

Menon is known to have briefed three officers of the Indian contingent personally. Sanjay Baru in his book The Accidental Prime Minister reveals that Manmohan wanted India to vacate Siachen (Noble Peace Prize – never mind the reason) while Sonia Gandhi favoured this at a later date (hoping for sonny becoming PM?). Not without reason, Tufail Ahmad, reviewing Bharat Karnad’s book Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet) wonders should Manmohan Singh, Shivshankar Menon, Salman Khurshid and MK Narayanan be tried for treason against India’s national interests along with crimes against our future generations? Not that there is no precedence – returning 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war (POW) in accordance with the 1971 Shimla Agreement but not getting back our 54 POW from Pakistani jails.

As to appointment of a CDS, Pranab Mukherjee, then defence minister (now President) had brought up the issue in a tri-Service meeting at HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), wherein the then Chairman COSC and Naval Chief, the Army Chief and the Vice-Chief of Air Staff (representing the Air Chief who was on foreign visit) unequivocally voiced that not only was a CDS necessary but the CDS must be given full operational powers over the military, in order to make him effective. The defence minister then stunned all by saying couple months back not only was appointing a CDS decided but even who would be appointed. He, however, said there was no political consensus, adding in the same breath “but then plenty decisions are taken without political consensus”. That was 11 years back.

But selling the idea that PC COSC or CDS will indeed by “single point advisor” to the government is deflecting from the truth. The document under which HQ IDS was established, while referring to the CDS says, “As and when a CDS is appointed, he will have equal voting rights as Service Chiefs and in case of disagreement by two Service Chiefs, arbitration will be done by MoD.” It has been drafted so craftily by the bureaucracy that no one is wiser. Under such rules, if two Service Chiefs disagree with the CDS / PC COSC, it is the bureaucrat sitting in Ministry of Defence who will arbitrate. Can you imagine such a system within the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force where two army commanders/equivalents put up dissent notes and the Ministry of Defence arbitrate – definitely not. So, why such provision in case of the CDS?

The concept behind raising of HQ Integrated Defence Staff, an initiative of then defence minister George Fernandes, was that it would be part and parcel of Ministry of Defence but it came up as a separate HQ. The bureaucracy ensured this integration did not take place, a major reason being money, corruption and continuing bureaucratic bliss of enjoying authority sans responsibility. Even the Americans wonder how the military functions in India with its Ministry of Defence without military officers on deputation or permanent absorption. It is for the same reason that the military despite being users have been kept out of the design, planning and decision-making levels of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Ordnance Factories Board and Defence Public Sector Undertakings. Continuing with the British legacy, the defence secretary, not defence minister is officially tasked with defence of India and the Services HQ officially designated as “Attached Offices”.

What the country needs is a CDS with full operational powers and HQ IDS getting fully merged with the Ministry of Defence. This is all the more vital given the rising threats facing us. A CDS with full operational powers, aside from being a single point advice to the government, should synergize the military with speedy capacity building in network-centric capabilities, and fighting hybrid wars.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant General.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 17:31 IST

Suspense over new Chiefs of Army, Air Force

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Suspense is on over who will be the next Chiefs of the Army and the Air Force as the incumbent officials will be superannuating just about three weeks later.Both the Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag and the Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha are retiring on December 31 and the guessing game is on as to who will succeed them. Traditionally, the name of the new Chiefs are announced weeks in advance but it has not been the case this time. Even the current Navy Chief’s name was announced just 23 days before Admiral Robin Dhowan retired.Sources said one of the reasons for the delay in the announcement of the new chiefs could be that Parliament is in session which would end on December 16. The Defence Ministry has already sent the file to Prime Minister’s Office recommending three names each for the two Services. They are Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, Southern Army Commander Lt Gen P M Hariz and Vice Chief of the Army Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, sources said.Lt Gen Bakshi, under whose tenure the Myanmar anti- insurgency operation was carried out, is the senior most of the Commanders. Speculation is that the government may appoint someone based not on seniority alone but also experience in handling Kashmir and Pakistan, two issues which will continue to be the focus in the next two years. While Lt Gen Bakshi is from the Armoured Corps, Lt Gen Hariz is from Mechanised Infantry and Lt Gen Rawat is an outright infantry soldier.

Russian Defence Minister meets Parrikar, says ‘double standards’ cannot defeat terrorism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coming together against terrorism, India and Russia on Wednesday said the menace cannot be defeated with “double standards” and there is a need for “zero tolerance” and collective efforts to combat terrorism. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar held a detailed meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu in New Delhi during which the issue of terrorism was also discussed.Parrikar also made it clear that Russia is India’s time tested and closest partner and it will continue to remain primary defence partner.”One of the key security challenges faced by India is that of cross-border terrorism. We appreciate Russia’s consistent and unwavering support for India in our efforts to eliminate this menace, which is a manifestation of the continued presence of terrorist groups in India’s neighbourhood,” Parrikar said as he co-chaired the Indo-Russian Inter Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation meeting. He noted that Russia has also been actively engaged in efforts to eliminate terrorists in West Asia.”We both recognise that the menace of terrorism cannot be defeated with double standards. There is a need for zero tolerance and collective efforts to combat terrorism,” he said.On his part, Shoigu said at times there is unacceptable “double or even, at times, triple standards” in fight against terrorism. “What is absolutely unacceptable in terms of the fight against terrorism is the use of the double or even, at times, triple standards. The serious consolidation of all reasonable powers is necessary to fight this 21st century’s evil,” he said.Shoigu also alluded to the problem of distinguishing between terrorists and moderate opposition, which hindered the collaboration between Russia and the United States in Syria.Both leaders are also understood to have discussed deeper military co-operations, especially focusing on joint production of fifth generation fighter aircraft, upgradation of Su-30 MKI planes and firming up the contract for the Triumf air defence system.”Russia is India’s time tested and closest partner and it will continue to remain our primary defence partner,” Parrikar said. He said that while military technical cooperation is progressing well, he feels that the traditional military- to-military cooperation needs more focus.”The pace and depth of our exchanges at the level of Chiefs, training of personnel in each other’s institutions, joint military exercises between all armed forces should be enhanced. We could mutually work out the modalities of increasing the military-to-military cooperation and draw up a roadmap for implementation,” he said.

Why has disability pension of defence personnel been halved: Congress hits out at Modi govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Taking the ongoing battle over the surgical strikes by the Army to another level, the Congress on Monday lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for using the sacrifices of the Indian soldiers for his political gains and garner votes in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh and Punjab polls. Addressing a press conference here, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala re-iterated that the UPA Government in its days had never politicised or beat the drum when they conducted surgical strikes, ‘because those who were supposed to get a strong response got the message and we were satisfied by that’, adding that ‘our brave Armed Forces were behind the victory and our government never tried to take credit for it.’ ‘Sacrifices made the army are being used to garner votes in U.P and Bihar. Our soldiers are being killed and the felicitation of our Defence Minister and posters lauding the Centre being put is a clear example of the government’s intentions,’ he said. Quoting former Army Chiefs, he further said that surgical strikes have been conducted throughout the years, but were never blown out of proportion or made a huge deal about, as they were covert operations with a certain purpose.Maintaining that the steps taken by the Prime Minister following the surgical strikes have been nothing but an insult to the Army, Surjewala called on the Centre to stop using the mission as a weapon for their political gain. Posing a question to the Prime Minister, the Congress leader asked that if he indeed was so concerned about the well being of army personnel, when why was his government so against the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.’Why are you against implementing OROP’ And why have you announced that the disability pensions of defence personnel have been halved since September 30th 2016′ Apologise to the nation and the army and fulfil your OROP promise,’ he said.Meanwhile, in the wake of the escalation of a war of words between the BJP and the Congress following a revelation that the Indian Army had conducted a surgical strike on Pakistani military outposts earlier in 2011, former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said his former cabinet colleague P. Chidambaram made this disclosure to put the record straight as the incumbent regime was trying to create an impression that the UPA did nothing in its tenure.’This has been said very categorically by former home minister P. Chidambaram and it’s also been validated and repeated by other people. This has been said only for this purpose that an impression was being created by the government of the day that we never did anything when we were in power, I think that was unfair,’ Khurshid told ANI.As per reports, the Indian Army had carried out surgical strikes across the LoC in 2011 in retaliation to a surprise attack on an army post in Gugaldhar ridge in Kupwara in July that year which led to the death of 13 soldiers and beheading of six of them. In revenge, the Indian Army planned Operation Ginger.

Indian Air Force 84th anniversary: We will not talk, just deliver, says IAF chief Arup Raha

Hindon: Asserting that the Indian armed forces are prepared to take on any challenge, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Arup Raha on Saturday said there has been enough discussion on the surgical strikes across the LoC, but the forces will not talk about it.

“There has been so much discussion on this issue in the country; every section of society is giving an opinion on this issue. … the armed forces are supposed to deliver the result that the nation expects. We are not going to talk about it; we will just deliver,” Air Chief Marshal Raha said at the Hindon air base on the 84th Air Force Day.

Raha is also the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Responding to a question on the surgical strikes and politicisation of the issue, Raha refused to comment on the Indian Army action across the Line of Control on the night of September 28-29 and related issues.

The surgical strikes had come in the wake of the September 18 terrorist attack on an army camp in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir, in which 19 soldiers were killed.

In his speech at the Air Force Day function earlier, Raha mentioned both Pathankot and Uri attacks in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir respectively.

“Terrorist attacks at the Uri (army camp) and Pathankot (IAF) base show the troubled times we are living in,” Raha said.

Asked to comment on the issue later, the Air Force chief said India is learning lessons every time something happens.

“We are getting smarter and smarter; we are learning lessons every time something happens. I think we are very well prepared now to face any such contingency,” he said.

“The armed forces are well prepared to take on any sub-conventional threat. We have had one or two cases… a determined terrorist can always get the better of people but the aim is to prevent it… the deterrence. We should be able to detect any such attack right in the beginning so that we can neutralise them (terrorists) before they cause any damage,” the IAF chief said.

Raha, in his speech, said that India is being seen as a “net security provider” in the Indian Ocean region.

The Air Force Day commemorates the establishment of the armed force on October 8, 1932.

Do joint exercises with friendly foreign countries: Manohar Parrikar to armed forces

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday directed the armed forces to carry out joint exercises with friendly foreign countries specially, in South East Asia, in tune with India’s ‘Act East Policy’.He also asked them to optimise resources and enhance cost effectiveness even as he exhorted them to exploit joint capabilities for predominant role in the volatile region around the country. Parrikar reviewed key security issues facing the nation and important strategic, operational, administrative and logistics aspects pertaining to tri-services were also deliberated upon.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”To keep in tune with the India’s Act East Policy, Parrikar urged the Armed Forces for conduct of joint exercises involving more than one Service with our friendly foreign countries specially, in South East Asia,” a defence ministry statement said. He stressed on the need for jointness of the three services to optimise resources and enhance cost effectiveness, so that maximum funds can be made available for modernisation of the armed forces, it said.Parrikar while addressing the two-day Annual Unified Commanders’ Conference here, said by virtue of India’s dominant geographical location, the country is poised for a predominant role in the volatile region around us. The minister said, hence, there is a requirement to exploit this advantage by developing joint capabilities. In order to achieve self-reliance, he emphasised on ‘Make in India’ initiative and indigenisation of defence production.He commended the armed forces for their devotion to duty and the stellar role played by them in safeguarding the country’s unity and integrity. The minister also paid homage to all valiant soldiers, sailors and air warriors for their supreme sacrifice in honour of the nation. Earlier, opening remarks were given by the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha covering tri-services issues.Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag and Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba addressed the conclave highlighting the major issues pertaining to their respective Services. ‘ A report covering major achievements on key tri-services issue was presented by Officiating Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee Air Marshal A S Bhonsle.During the day-long conference, key security issues facing the nation and important strategic, operational, logistical, administrative aspects pertaining to tri-services were deliberated upon.The function was attended by Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, Deputy National Security Advisor Arvind Gupta, among others.

Service chiefs meet Manohar Parrikar, discuss Pay Commission report

Concerned over increasing pay disparity between defence personnel and their civilian counterparts, the three Service Chiefs on Tuesday met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and discussed issues related to “anamolies and shortcomings” in the 7th Pay Commission report.The service chiefs had earlier written to Parrikar highlighting various aspects of the Pay Commission report which the military felt was a “let down”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The three Chiefs had detailed, comprehensive and constructive discussion on the issue,” defence sources said.The armed forces’ personnel are of the view that if the Pay Commission report is implemented in its present form, it will position them much below their civilian counterparts in terms of salaries, facilities and status, the sources said. One of the main issues that the armed forces face is with regard to the “risk-hardship matrix” dealing with the allowances for posting in difficult areas.The government had recently set up a 13-member Empowered Committee of Secretaries (CoS) headed by the Cabinet Secretary for processing the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission, which has bearing on remuneration of 47 lakh central government employees and 52 lakh pensioners.Navy chief Admiral RK Dhowan was the first among the three service chiefs to officially comment on the Pay Commission report.”Whatever we feel are the shortcomings are being taken up by the three services with the Ministry of Defence to see that whatever we feel is necessary for our men, our officers, our civilians, is made available to them,” Dhowan had said earlier.Besides, having discussions on the 7th Pay Commission, the chiefs and the Defence Minister also held deliberations on the issue of One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP).

Nation pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his martyrdom day

The country pays homage to the father of the nation- Mahatma Gandhi on his martyrdom day on Saturday as he was assassinated on this day in 1948.Many programmes will be organised today to mark the occasion. All-religion prayers will be held in Rajghat at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial. President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Mohd Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, and the three service Chiefs will lay wreaths at the memorial. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PM Modi tweeted on the occasion saluting the Mahatma and said that the nation should remember sacrifices of all martyrs today.

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