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52 SECONDS

We must learn to separate the government from the nation. While our relationship with the government may be transactional, our relationship with our nation is anything but. The ashes of our forefathers are part of the heat and dust of India. The symbols of this nation are our roots that bind us, mostly with love and sometimes with duty. And trees with the weakest roots fall first.

Like it or not, this is a global world only on social media. You might use terms like “global citizen” for yourself, but that just means you have more frequent flier miles than the next person. You still need a visa to enter a country. We have borders. You may not like it, but those borders must be guarded. That man who guards the border believes in a cause. And he believes in it deeply enough to stand in harms way while I send a Tweet in the middle of a debate, or you snuggle up with coffee and sit in judgment.

A soldier is not better than a teacher or a trader. But he is equally important. And so are the values he holds dear.

Where the anthem is played is something that the courts or the government will finally decide. That is not up to us. But when the anthem is played, we must stand. That is our duty. Our anthem is a potent symbol of a living nation. It is the soul of our nationhood. It is the very definition of our freedom.

And freedom is not free.

Read full article here: http://www.republicworld.com/s/19569/if-you-cant-stand-for-the-national-anthem-dont-expect-me-to-stand-for-youMajor Gaurav Arya

#52Seconds #MajorGauravArya #IndianArmy #adgpi

RIFLES AND SHOES

There was a time when the British Army used the SA80 (L85A1) combat rifle. So terrible was the rifle that they called it The Civil Servant. Well, it wouldn’t work and you couldn’t fire it. And in this humorous anecdote, there are stories within stories.

The Indian Army is suffering from crippling shortages of ammunition, equipment and weapons, and frankly the backlog is so huge that the government will take many years before things are right. Its not that we don’t have money; we do. But we also have the most inefficient bureaucracy in the world, which we have inflicted upon ourselves. Read the recent CAG report tabled in Parliament and feel those little things crawl up your arm. Our “babucracy” has not just destroyed the past; it has cast an eclipse upon the future, too.

Lets look at the government’s Make In India program. It’s a powerful initiative. Not only is it expected to generate millions of jobs; it also aims to make India self-reliant. So, why can’t a nation, which is a three trillion dollar economy, the fastest growing economy on earth and the third largest economy globally, provide good shoes to its army? Or a decent helmet? Or a bulletproof jacket? Or a good rifle? Or a decent disruptive uniform that does not differ from unit to unit, trouser to shirt?

The defence budget is touching almost USD 50 billion a year. We have another USD 500 billion lined up for modernization of the armed forces. As the Americans would say, “we have enough money to float a boat”.

Here is some information with you. The Ordnance Factory Board, a group of 41 factories, which are responsible for manufacturing weapons, ammunition, large trucks and thousands of types of equipment for the Indian Army, have a land bank of thousands of acres (by some estimates 80,000 acres, though this is unverified). It has tens of thousands of employees. It is the largest government operated production organization in the world. And it almost always produces third-rate weapons and equipment. OFB manufactured mosquito nets wont sell in the market, and the blankets will give you rashes. The quality of ammunition is pathetic and the Nepal Army has junked the INSAS 5.56 mm rifles. They don’t want it, even for free. And the INSAS 5.56 mm, my dear readers, is the main battle rifle of the Indian Army.

Many Indian Army soldiers and officers buy their own shoes, because the quality of shoes made by OFB is so bad that they fall apart in some time, after having substantially damaged your feet. I met a Para SF officer wearing high, thick-soled beige shoes, very similar to what US Navy Seals wear. I asked him, “Is the supply getting better?” He smiled and responded, “Sir, they cost me a lot of money. I asked my friend to get them from US. If I am going to be operating across the LoC, I want to be thinking about the mission, not my shoes”. Touché.

Quite frankly, the Ordnance Factory Board is a basket case. Had it been a private company, it would have shut down long back.

There are two keys to this entire enterprise. One, rather than focusing on Make In India, the government should focus primarily on removing red tape, with a military-mission like focus. Because with our kind of bureaucracy, there will be no Make In India. If it needs an Act of Parliament, so be it. Be ruthless with red tape and bureaucrats. Start sacking those who don’t deliver. Revisit each and every process and align it to the Indian Army, who is the customer and end user. The army moves at blinding speed. It needs a partner who can keep pace. A Cheetah’s racing partner cannot be an overweight snail.

The second key is best illustrated with an example. Lets assume that the Indian Army wants a new assault rifle. The process for acquiring the new rifle should be this:

  1. Indian Army to prepare detailed specifications for the rifle, but from existing rifles, already in the global market. No demands for interchangeable barrels to be entertained. Go with a fully automatic 7.62 mm assault rifle.
  2. Call the world’s top 5 weapons manufacturers who can meet the specifications.
  3. After checking weapon against specifications, ask companies to send rifles with ammunition, for trials to Infantry School, MHOW. Trails to last for 4 months only.
  4. Indian Army will be required to shortlist 3 rifles from the 5 that are under trial. These 3 shortlisted companies will submit their quote.
  5. The army will negotiate the best deal from the three vendors. However, in the end, the clear directions will be to give the contract to Q1 and not L1. Meeting cost targets does not mean compromise on quality.
  6. This entire process must be completed in 6 months and the Purchase Order given. 15% of the rifles to be fully imported and 85% to be under the Make In India program with a local Indian partner.
  7. The first set of imported rifles must land in India (part of 15%) by the end of the 8th month, from the day the specifications were floated. It may be a small number initially, but it must be handed over to the army.
  8. By the end of the 8th month, physical work on ground (factory construction) must start. Government must ensure ready land availability, in advance.
  9. With high-end pre-fabricated structures, the factory can be completed in 6 months time. Another 6 months for finishes, equipment & machinery.
  10. Shift in machines, raw material and equipment and start production.

We can start production in 18 months from the date the initial specifications for the assault rifle were given. Fairytale? No. China does this everyday. We have the same capabilities as China and far better engineers. But what China has, and we don’t, is intent and discipline. And that cannot be purchased with all the money in the world.

Any purchase process must bring the best equipment at the lowest possible rate and as quickly as possible, to the soldier. Any other process or rule contrary to this must go.

Back to the OFB, what business does the government have making quilts, mosquito nets, water bottles and shoes? Or for that matter artillery shells and tanks? Lockheed Martin makes fighter jets and is not a government organisation. Huntington Ingalls Industries is not a government company and it makes the biggest aircraft carriers in the world. This is true for rifles, tanks and…socks. We are still following the old Soviet model, long after the demise of the Soviet Union.

Make In India will only be successful when we are brutal in cutting away flab and bureaucracy. That has to be step one. The structure has to be lean and mean. It has to move fast and be nimble. OFB is a dinosaur. The Indian Army buys from OFB because it has no choice. If the army selects a rifle from an international vendor, the OFB steps in saying, “We can make a better rifle which is much cheaper”. That is often the end of the Indian Army’s foreign adventure. That rifle which OFB promised to make never sees the light of day. And if it does, it’s called an INSAS.

We will be militarily sovereign when we do not depend on any nation for the most advanced weapons systems. I refuse to believe that Indians who power the global engines of Google, Microsoft, Apple, SAP Labs and almost all the world’s top technology companies, do not have the capability to design defence software. Or that a country that can send a mission to Mars in its first attempt, finds it beyond its capacity to design an armed drone. Or a shoe.

The problem with OFB is that it knows it is assured of business even before the demand is placed. They make an extremely shoddy product and they get paid. Aren’t you envious of this business model?

What we need is an increasing participation of private players in defence manufacturing in India. We don’t have the technology, but we can get it through technology transfer. We need to achieve critical mass in defence manufacturing. We cannot achieve it by continued reliance on the Ordnance Factory Board. Make In India can make our nation a defence export powerhouse, but we need to get rid of red tape and needless bureaucracy. We have too many rules in India. And we have too little to show for them.

Sure, the culture is changing for the better, but it is not changing fast enough. Our obsession with bureaucracy and red tape is exposing our national security to flanking attacks. We have two choices; we either become as invention-centric as the Americans or as disciplined as the Chinese. There is no third way. It has been done in India before. The Delhi Metro is an example of what we can do, once we make up our minds. So is ISRO, and to a large extent, DRDO. Lets look deep within us. There is a Sarabhai, a Sreedharan or a Kalam somewhere, straining at the shackles that tie him down…straining to break free. Sometimes I imagine Dr. Kalam speaking to India…

Dreams float on an impatient wind,

A wind that wants to create a new order,

An order of strength, and thundering of fire.

– Dr. APJ Kalam, Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces.

If we want to sit at the high table of the United Nations Security Council, we must start acting the part. Superpowers think big and act bigger. Global projection of military might is a large part of being a superpower. For too long we have hankered for global respect, but respect is not enough. The world must fear us. For that, we must first put our house in order. Anything that stops us from becoming a superpower must be rejected. Mammoth bureaucracies like the OFB are some of the many roadblocks on our road to superpower status. They must go, and they must go now.

It is then that we will be able to look that Para SF officer in the eye and tell him, “Defend the nation. Do your duty. And don’t worry about your shoes.”

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

#MajorGauravArya #SubmarinesAndSocks #adgpi

Disclaimer:

I have not discussed WWR, weapon induction or other technical issues, as I believe that they are not something that is meant for the public domain. Recently, the CAG put up a comprehensive report on the floor of Parliament and pointed a direct finger at the gross inadequacies of OFB, and the media covered it. While the Parliament must be briefed on all issues by CAG, inviting the media was a mistake. These are sensitive national security issues.

I have refrained from commenting on issues that IAF and IN may have.

OFB exports to a few countries, but those exports are a minuscule part of its revenues. My view is that Indian diplomacy must be commended substantially for this, rather than OFB quality.

Land bank and employee strength of OFB remains unverified. At some places, the employee strength is stated as 83,000 and at others, 164,000. I am not aware of the truth.

MAD. QUITE MAD.

Legend has it that a peculiar case of a maverick British army officer was brought to the notice of Field Marshall Montgomery, during the Second World War. Monty, as he was known, saw the file and smiled. “Mad. Quite mad”. This officer was of Scottish descent, and that, to many, seemed like explanation enough. The matter ended there.

David Sterling was “mad, quite mad”, and from this madness, or genius, there being marginal difference between the two, sprung the idea of a small group of men, vehicle mounted, who would drive into the desert shooting up German aircraft, while they were parked in the airfield. The Second World War was raging, and ideas were in short supply.

Claude Auchinleck, the then Commander-in-Chief of the British forces, blessed this mad enterprise. A small unit was born. It created merry hell for the Germans. Sterling would appear at airfields riding Jeeps, shoot up many aircraft as he and his men could, and vanish. On a warm July night of 1942, his team drove 18 Jeeps to the Sidi Haneish airstrip in Egypt, and destroyed 37 aircraft, all in one night. Ervin Rommel, the Desert Fox, called him The Phantom Major. The legend grew.

David Sterling was the father of the elite SAS or the Special Air Service. And the SAS is the father of modern Special Forces. In the world of motion picture driven, testosterone fuelled Special Forces narratives; people throw about names like Seal Team and Delta Force. Not many realize that in many ways, when it comes to good old killing, there is still no one better than the SAS. In public imagination, SAS loses out; one of the many disadvantages of not being from the Hollywood country.

Lt Col Megh Singh was an Indian Army officer who was once Court Martialed and demoted to the rank of Major. After successful raids into Pakistan in September of 1965, he was again promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Originally from 3rd Battalion, Brigade of the Guards, he strongly believed that a small group of men, highly trained, motivated and equipped could create absolute havoc inside enemy territory. He believed in this theory so much that he walked up to Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh and presented him with this proposal. Soon, Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh also believed.

Since the force was ad-hoc, it was named after its founder Lt. Col. Megh Singh. It was called “Meghdoot Force”. After the war, the government was so impressed with the performance of this ad-hoc unit, Lt. Col. Megh Singh was directed to raise a special mission unit. On 1 July 1966, 9 Battalion (Commando) was raised in Gwalior. In June 1967, 9 Battalion (Commando) was split into two, and 10 Battalion (Commando) was raised. In 1969, both these units were re-designated as 9 Para (Commando) and 10 Para (Commando).

1978 saw another addition to the roll of honour. 1 Para (Punjab) was converted to 1 Para (Commando).

As the Para Commando battalions grew in stature, they grew in numbers. Today, Indian Army Para Special Forces stand at nine battalions strong. 1 Para SF, 2 Para SF, 3 Para SF, 4 Para SF, 9 Para SF, 10 Para SF, 11 Para SF, 12 Para SF and 21 Para SF complete this pantheon of devils.

Para SF battalions operate in the shadows. Very rarely do we hear their names mentioned in the media, unless the government specifically wants to drive home a message, like in the case of the surgical strikes.

Para Special Forces are the best of the best of the Indian Army. They are truly unique. Each man is selected because he fits a certain groove that the unit has created and nurtured. When officers undergo probation, they do so with Other Ranks. There is no difference, during probation, between officer and soldier. They shed the “same blood in the same mud”, as the marines would say. When an officer is selected (less than five percent make it), everyone has a say, including the NCOs and jawans. In Para SF, the men have a right to choose who will lead them. If an NCO who is already in Para SF (and is part of the team conducting the probation) feels that the officer who is under probation does not fit into the unit, he can voice his opinion and his opinion will be honored. The officer will be sent back to his parent unit. Very few are worthy of the BALIDAN badge.

Why is the Para SF different in terms of the way they approach army hierarchy? Simply because they operate in small teams and officers and men spend days on end in operations, cheek by jowl. There is no space for ceremony or rank. Para SF units are also unique in that the NCO is an independent leader. He leads a squad of 5+1 and can direct and lead an operation by himself. He is professionally competent to manage the “fog of war”. Special Forces seek Officer Like Qualities in NCOs; qualities like leadership, initiative, operational integrity and commitment, to name a few.

But this article is not about how good the Para SF is. It is about how badly they are equipped and used.

Unfortunately, our own understanding of our Special Forces capabilities is limited. Many a time, Para SF is used in a tactical role. They are strategic assets. They should not, and cannot be used tactically. You cannot have a Para SF house entry in a CASO (Cordon and Search Operation). That is something that infantry Ghataks must do. Keep Para SF out of day-to-day Counter Terror operations. They are the nations’ trump card. To use them tactically would be to blunt their edge. We have never nurtured our Special Forces, and our attitude is like having a Katana and using it to adorn a wall. Quite frankly, we don’t know what to do with them most of the times.

Special Forces have very little in common with the Para Airborne units, except that they are part of the same regiment and jump out of planes. They need to be de-hyphenated. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Special Forces should not be considered a part of infantry at all. It must be recognized as a separate Arm of the Indian Army, like the infantry, armored corps or artillery.

In the current scenario, and with the Special Forces Command still a few years away, the Para SF battalions, clubbed together as a singular operational entity, must be headed by a Major General rank officer, who must have a direct line of reporting to the COAS. He can have a dotted line reporting to the DGMO.

Another issue that plagues the Indian Army Para Special Forces is the lack of equipment and weapons. They still use the Maruti Gypsy. They use the 7.62 mm Galil sniper rifle that cannot kill beyond 800-1000 meters. They have most of their kit supplied by the Ordnance Factory Board. I don’t wish to dwell upon the OFB, because that needs another article altogether. Their main weapon is the TAR 21 Tavor, a 5.56 mm Israeli assault rifle. It’s a fine weapon, except that it does not have the punch of a 7.62 mm. And that punch is needed. They need good anti-material rifles and long range sniper rifles. They need world-class communication equipment. Best in class mini-subs and underwater demolition technology must be put in their hands. In essence, they need the technology of tomorrow.

We need to free the Para SF from the mind-bending bureaucracy of the Defence Ministry. They need to be able to purchase their own weapons at short notice. It should not take two years for a new rifle to be inducted. It should take two months for the first lot to be inducted. A Para SF unit should be able to order weapons and equipment off the shelf. They should be using modified Land Rovers for movement, and not Maruti Gypsies. The list is long. But know this…if you want our Para SF to perform like the SAS or Seal Team 6, you have to treat them like that. Forget about dedicated satellites and combat drones. I am just asking for the basics.

Special Forces should ideally work in very close coordination with RAW. If they are indeed to be truly successful, the lines between special ops and intelligence must be blurred. SAS works hand in glove with MI 6 and Seal Teams work very, very closely with CIA. In India, we are unfortunately busy with bigger things like turf wars.

While they do go for foreign training, it must be substantially ramped up. Para SF must train regularly with US Army Special Forces, Navy Seals, Sayeret Matkal and with the granddaddy of them all, the SAS. The Spetsnaz is again gaining momentum after a few decades of flux. We could learn from them and also teach them a trick or two.

Para SF needs dedicated airlift capability and helicopters on standby. The Indian Air Force has the capability. All we need is better coordination. The list is long and perhaps endless, because new technology keeps entering the battle-space. They will need to keep upgrading.

If we do this much, India will have a tremendously potent weapon in its hands. It will be like the legendary “Brahmastra” from Hindu mythology. All the Prime Minister of India will have to do is pick up the phone and approve a mission. And Indians will no longer ask questions like, “Why can’t we take out Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim?” And the answer to the question, “Can we get Kulbhushan Jadhav back?” will then have been answered. Special Forces can plan and execute at a ghostly pace.

It will not be long before a senior general from the Indian Army looks at the plan and smiling gently to himself, says “Mad. Quite mad.”

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

#MajorGauravArya #MadQuiteMad #adgpi #IndianArmy

Disclaimer: This article does not discuss other special forces like MARCOS and Garud. Till the time the Special Forces Command is formed, such a discussion is of little use. NSG is under the Home Ministry. SFF & SG are under the Cabinet Secretariat, and function in another orbit. While Indian Army personnel staff them, they are not under command the army.

RIPOSTE

The response to my last article “THE OTHERS” has been overwhelming. Many CAPF officers wrote to me congratulating me on a job well done, and for putting out in public domain what has been brushed under the carpet for decades. They felt they were ready for leadership positions in their respective forces. A few however felt that getting an Army General, as the Director General of the force would do no good. I did explain to many CAPF officers that this was said in a certain context, the overall tightening of China’s claw and other direct national security challenges. If such national security challenges were not to exist, I would be very happy to step back, withdraw my arguments, and let status quo be.

Many IPS officers also wrote to me. Some chided me gently, telling me that there were many factors involved and perhaps things were not as simple as I had made them out to be. Point granted, Sirs. Some messages were extremely personal and nasty, devoid of logic and coherence. They had nothing to do with the debate at hand.

Mr. Abhinav Kumar, an IPS officer currently serving as IG in BSF wrote a “rebuttal” to my article and made it extremely personal. He pointed out to my lack of experience in the Army. He then jumped to the fact that the Indian Army has a colonial DNA, with emphasis on the “paltan”. He blamed the larger tribe of defence veterans, who he said had no other work but to pass “sweeping generalizations” about politicians, the bureaucracy and police. He also said that army officers believed that their institution was greater than the country it served.

For good measure, he asked what the Indian Army was doing to curb corruption in its various departments, thus pointing a direct finger on the integrity of a highly respected institution. This, as usual, without facts and data. Then adding controversy to bizarre logic, he wondered if my views had tacit support from a section of serving officers of the Indian Army. Mr. Abhinav Kumar, IPS went on and on for several pages. No logic. No debate. No data. Just a rambling soliloquy, bordering on the ridiculous, almost all of it personal.

Insidiously, Mr. Abhinav Kumar, IPS turned this into an Army v/s Police issue, quietly appropriating the entire police force of the nation. While I only mentioned the IPS serving in the CAPFs, he tried to deliberately mislead his readers into believing that my article was about the entire police force and that this was some sort of an inter-departmental rivalry.

Anyone who has read THE OTHERS will tell you that the article was only about CAPFs having their own cadre, in light of our current national security challenges. The part about CAPF officers resenting the presence of IPS officers is from my personal experience. The new crop of CAPF officers is highly qualified. They are from the top engineering and liberal arts colleges from across the nation. They will not be talked down to. “I will be your boss because I passed an exam many, many years back” is looking like a weaker argument with each passing day.

But if you put a 6 feet tall man in a 3 feet tall cage, after a few years what you will get is a hunchback. That is what is being done to CAPF officers.

As Twitter heated up, the IPS Association jumped in, using various platforms to build public opinion. The water was muddied, deliberately. Not one IPS officer commented about why the CAPF could not have their own cadre officer as DG of the force. They deliberately steered away from even debating this point.

It has been an interesting week.

I first thought about writing this article, THE OTHERS, a couple of weeks back when I read that Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka was on a 99 year lease to the Chinese. China is making its military presence felt in the South China Sea, flying fighter jets over sovereign Japanese territory. A port in Africa is coming up. Pakistan stands compromised, and if anyone thinks that the Gwadar Port is a purely commercial venture, we are in greater danger than we know. A railway line will soon connect China with Europe.

If India has to counter China, we must operate abroad. The Indian Armed Forces must step outside India. We must have foreign bases, or we shall become insignificant. Not going to Afghanistan was a smart move. Afghanistan is a graveyard for foreigners, masquerading as a country. But we must have a presence in Africa. We must have a base in Central Asia, and not just an Air Force base. We must have a tri-services base. Farkhor Air Base could be expanded.

What happens if we deploy the Indian Armed Forces outside the country? The CAPFs will have to step up and take charge of significant portions of the Line of Control and Line of Actual Control. This will bring them face to face with the Pakistan Army and the Chinese Army. They will need training and equipment to repel this threat. While CAPFs possess excellent manpower and leaders, they do not possess the kind of weapons and equipment needed to fight along the LoC and LAC. They must have those weapons.

If the Constitution does not mandate such a role for the Armed Forces or the CAPFs, then we must think about an amendment. It has been done before. It must be done again, keeping national security imperatives in mind. The Chinese will not shy away from squeezing us just because we have laws that mandate a certain charter for a force. The Chinese don’t care about our laws. The truth is that the Chinese nation moves like lightening. We, on the other hand, quote laws, paragraphs and sub-sections and find emotional sustenance in intellectual gymnastics.

It was in this context that the posting of an Army general to CAPFs was suggested; NOT to boss over a force, but to train and lead them for a fixed period of time so that they can hold their own against the Pakistan Army along the LoC and the Chinese Army along the Line of Actual Control. I personally dislike the Pakistan Army but my dislike is not based on illogical emotional bearings. The Pakistan Army is a professional army. Its shenanigans are many, and its coups, legendary. It lacks morality. But it is a professional army. And only a professional army can counter another professional army.

England was perhaps the size of present day Uttar Pradesh, when it ruled over much of the known world. Had they stayed inside and not ventured out of that island that they call home, they would be as significant as The Democratic Republic of Congo. Every militarily powerful country operates outside its geographical borders. There is no other road to military power. We cannot hope to sit at the high table of the United Nations Security Council and be inward looking, at the same time. That table is for warriors, not saints.

It is unfortunate that some IPS officers who wrote to me couldn’t look beyond conspiracy theories of turf and influence. I was speaking about national security, not about who could get a plum posting.

I have the greatest respect for the IPS. As I mentioned before, my father is an IPS officer, now retired. I have grown up seeing khaki. But what is right is right. And what is wrong can never be right. I also hold that the Home Secretary of a state must be an IPS officer, but that is a debate for another day.

I left the Indian Army in 1999, but I still owe my loyalty to that institution. If there are a few people who know my name today, it is only because of the Indian Army. Yet, I would never say, “Make an Army General the DGP of a state police force”. That would be an unmitigated disaster. There are far easier ways of committing hara-kiri. The Army is a force created for offensive operations. The police are required to be more contained, as they handle mind-boggling day-to-day issues of law enforcement that an army officer may not be fit or trained for.

Mr. Abhinav Kumar, IPS mentioned that IPS officers created all CAPFs. He took the names of the legendary Mr. KF Rustamji and Mr. Ashwini Kumar, saying that without them the BSF would not have been what it is today. I agree. They were giants. They created and led the finest and the single largest border guarding force on earth.

But what I am saying is totally different. I am a Defence Analyst and crystal gazing is part of my job. “If” forms a very large part of my vocabulary, as it should. When that “if” becomes a reality, then I start getting very worried. China surrounding India has already happened. Should we keep fighting turf wars and saying khaki is better than Olive Green? Or vice versa?

Recently, China officially announced that it has “created” 290,000 square meters (72 acres) of land in the disputed South China Sea area. Mostly it is land reclamation. It has installed advanced radars and built an airstrip. According to The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), by 2048 Baluchistan will become a Chinese majority province. Baluchistan is 44% of Pakistan’s landmass. In simple terms, it means that the next three decades, almost half of Pakistan’s landmass will have a majority population that is Chinese.

Gwadar is about 800 kilometers from India. We are going to have Chinese nuclear submarines and the Liaoning, China’s aircraft carrier in our neighborhood. The Chinese Yuan is set to be legal tender in Pakistan. Media in Pakistan says that each day, thousands of long-term visas are being issued to the Chinese. By some Pakistani media estimates, over 20 million long-term visas will issued to Chinese nationals by 2020. That is about 10% of Pakistan’s total population.

Yesterday, we had China to the East and Pakistan to the West. Today, we have China to the East and China to the West. If we continue to be spectators, we will get the reward most spectators do – a ringside view and popcorn. And we would have asked for it.

Mr. Abhinav Kumar, IPS says that I am calling for the “militarization of police forces”. This is distilled hogwash. I have done no such thing. The state police, the actual police force, are a matter I never broached. Militarization of CAPFs is something that will have to be done, IF the Armed Forces increasingly operate outside the country. If the army substantially withdraws from the LoC, who will fill the vacuum?

BSF guards India’s international borders. A vast majority of its weapons, at the battalion level, are exactly like those of an Indian Army infantry unit. Its organization structure – section, platoon, Rifle Company, battalion – is almost a mirror image of an Indian Army infantry battalion, with minor differences. Its training précis are mostly Indian Army, the Dogra Regiment précis being the most popular. Their officers and men attend a variety of army professional courses. The BSF holds ground, both tactically and strategically. During war, it fights alongside the Indian Army. Ditto for the ITBP. And these forces have Acts & Rules, which are far closer to the Army Act than Indian Police Act of 1861. If the BSF still looks like a police force to anyone, then I tender sincere apologies.

My point is this – CAPFs are very different from the police, and while till the battalion level they may seem, at least structurally, similar to Indian Army, they are different. Hence, they deserve their own identity. Their identity cannot, and should not, be linked to the army or police.

CAPFs must have far better infrastructure and facilities than they currently do. Forces like the CRPF have roles that are mind-bogglingly complex. Yet, they are treated like stepchildren. CAPFs must have a structured promotion policy, without the pressure of “stagnation”. You can’t have a 55-year-old Inspector leading a platoon, or a Deputy Commandant waiting for 12 years for a promotion. It defies logic. Those who don’t make it to the next rank must be sidestepped into other services where they can contribute. Otherwise, they must retire. CAPFs need to be all lean muscle. For that they need massive support. CAPF officers and men need to be given pensions. Their pay and allowances are below par. That must be rectified. They must be publically honored and acknowledged.

Rather than an undue reliance on CAPFs during times of crisis, the state police must work on realizing the vision of Mr. Prakash Singh, IPS and also the 2006 landmark Supreme Court judgment on reforms in the police. The Indian Police Act of 1861 belongs in the Jurassic Park. It has no place in modern India. Perhaps when the center and the state wake up and decide to get their act together, the local police will actually depend significantly less on CAPFs. At least that should be the aim.

Finally, about my having a short stint in the army and hence not being “fit to comment” on big issues; well, I have interacted with Chiefs of Army Staff, Army Commanders, Corps Commanders and good old Sepoy Bhoop Singh. This issue never came up. In the Indian Army, if you speak logic and can back up your arguments with facts, no one looks at the brass on your shoulder. If you speak hogwash, no amount of brass on your shoulder will save you from contempt. We are like this because the difference between the lies and truth is often the only difference between life and death. Such is our trade.

Thank heavens Mr. Abhinav Kumar, IPS and Capt. Liddle Hart have lived in different times. Otherwise, Capt. Liddle Hart would have been asked to “shut up” because he had very few years of service, and “would have at best commanded a company”.

Now, if there has to be a rebuttal to this article, let it also contain a roadmap on how the CAPFs can finally have a Director General from their own cadre. If that elephant in the room is not addressed, then what remains is Nitrous Oxide. I believe it is also called laughing gas.

My roadmap, for whatever it is worth, is on record.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

17th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment

Indian Army

#MajorGauravArya #Riposte #adgpi #IndianArmy

THE OTHERS

My father is a 1960 batch IPS officer. He retired in 1995 and, at eighty years of age, spends more time at the golf course than his doctor would like.

IPS officers heading Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) like BSF, CRPF, SSB, CISF and ITBP, is the topic of many a heated dinnertime debate.

Debating with him is never easy. But over a period of time, he has started conceding that it is time that CAPFs had their own cadre. There is grudging acceptance that they must have a direct entry officer as Director General and Chief. Dad is eighty, but still carries the recoil of a 303 Lee Enfield bolt-action rifle.

A uniformed force is made up of tradition, training, honour, blood, death, victory, defeat, brotherhood and leadership. That is the nature of uniformed forces everywhere. “We are good enough to die. We are just not good enough to lead”, says a CAPF officer to me, bitterly. Resentment against the IPS cadre runs deep in CAPFs.

I have a lot of respect for IPS officers. They are brilliant and erudite. They know their job. But their job is not guarding the borders, anti-Naxal operations or counter-insurgency operations. They are brilliant at police work. That is where they belong. That is where they must stay.

A vast majority of IPS officers have no experience in counter insurgency, internal security, anti terrorism and border management. But they will para-drop one fine morning, from a state cadre, to head a professional force comprising of hundreds of thousands of men and women. They will, without one day’s experience in anything apart from state police work, lead a force, which is neck deep in counter insurgency, anti-Naxal operations, border-management and riot control.

They will be there for two years and in those two years, will possibly spend a year understanding that force. After that, in a bid for immortality, they will initiate changes in the force so that they are remembered. And these changes will set back the force by years.

If you are an officer of the CAPFs, know this. You may have fantastic leadership skills, be professionally excellent and display great operational expertise, but you are like the Pandavas gambling with dice. The dice are loaded against you. You have lost the game even before you started playing it.

The CAPFs are an important and integral part of our national security profile. But they need to be fundamentally changed. It will cause pain and acute discomfort, but that is in intrinsic part of any operation.

We must give the CAPFs (Central Armed Police Forces) their own unique identity. There are two ways to do it.

The first option is the army way. Make them Para Military forces like the Assam Rifles and have army officers coming in for deputation for a fixed period of 3 years. After 6 years, when two rotations are complete, the force will settle down and the CAPFs (now full fledged para military forces) will complement the army. They will get the same type of training and culture that the Indian Army has…hard driving and aggressive. But this option has many flaws. The CAPFs operate amongst the local populace, far more than the army does. Their job is peculiar and complex. Sometimes, the sheer complexity is mind-boggling.

The only solution is Option Two, and that is for the CAPFs to have their own cadre. What are the practical steps that can lead to the overall professionalization of CAPFs?

The Border Security Force (BSF), Shasastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) must be combined into one force and entity. Similarly, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) must be combined to into one cohesive entity. The BSF, SSB and ITBP combine can be called Indian Border Guards of IBG. The CRPF and CISF combine can be called the Homeland Security Force or HSF.

The acts and rules of these forces must change completely. They must cease to be “central police” forces. When they are called for helping the state police, they should not be placed under the local police. These forces have been called because the state police either do not have the resources or are not competent enough to handle the situation. It would be a better idea to put the local police under these forces. These forces must act independently. When the state police requisitions them, all infrastructure and facilities must be provided to them before they deploy. You can’t have your saviors staying in under construction building without running water or electricity. The states must fulfill their responsibilities. A case in point…on 3 April 2017, a CRPF Sub-Inspector fell to his death from the stairs because the accommodation provided for CRPF by J&K government was an under construction building. It was dark and there were no railings. The CRPF was deployed for by-elections, on the request for the state government.

The uniform of these forces must be changed. Three types of uniforms are good enough…ceremonial, official and operational. Operational uniform can change with the terrain; jungle, high altitude, plains or desert. They must not wear khaki. It is too closely associated with the police identity.

Current ranks must go. You cannot have senior level officers being designated as DIG, IG or DG. It is too “police”. Any relationship to police must be erased from existence and memory.

There must be a cut off date for having a cadre officer as the head of the force. Lets say it takes 15 years to bring the force to such a level where a direct entry officer can become the Chief of the force. For those 15 years, the Indian Army will have to pitch in. The Government of India must nominate two General Officers who have successfully completed their tenures as Army Commanders. GOC-in-Cs who have commanded the Western Army and the Northern Army would be prime candidates. Those who are not in line for COAS may be chosen. By an act of Parliament, they must be given a fixed tenure of 5 years, post their Army Command.

These general officers will have a clear, written roadmap and deliverables. I know the Indian Army. They will deliver. Earthquakes and tsunamis are not acceptable excuses in the army. An order is given. It is carried out.

Each such General Officer who takes over as Chief of these two forces will bring a team of 250 officers, JCOs and NCOs with him, from the Indian Army. This will be Core Training Team. The truth is that there are no better instructors than the Indian Army. Indian Army Generals will man all current positions of Additional DG, Special DG and DG. They will have a clear and written mandate to develop the cadre officers in 15 years. And in that stipulated time, all Indian Army officers will either go back to army or retire. Those who were born in it MUST lead the force. In the 15th year, the Chief of IBG and HSF will be a directly appointed officer.

The Government of India must sanction land and funds to create top class training institutions just like the Indian Army has. These new forces must have a separate YO wing, Junior Command, Staff College, Senior Command, Higher Command and NDC like institutions. Institutions like CIJWS, HAWS and commando wing need to be created, along professional lines.

Direct entry at the JCO/ ASI level must stop. This rank at the direct entry level has no relevance. Ranks equivalent to Lance Naik (one stripe) and Naik (two stripes) must be introduced. Like in the army, if they are capable, they will rise. If not, they should be sent home.

During training, under-trainee officers must be considered cadets. They should not be officers. You cannot pass an exam and become an officer. You have to earn that honour. In the army, Gentlemen Cadets are put through the grind. If they are capable and prove themselves, they become officers. Many leave in between, not able to cope with training. Army training is not nice. They do their best to break you. That must be the core-training ethos of these two new forces.

Once these officers pass out from their academies, they must each spend a year with an Indian Army battalion in operations. And they must start off with commanding a platoon and after 6 months; move on to become company 2iCs. They should be understudies of an experienced company commander. After one year with the Indian Army, they should directly go for their Young Officers Course of their respective forces. The age for direct entry officers must be capped at 25 years. The younger, the better.

It is critical to develop “regimentation” in these forces. Without regimentation, a force has no identity. Currently, you may join one battalion after passing out and after three years, find yourself in another battalion. You may never serve in the battalion that you were commissioned into. Loyalty takes a hit. You have no emotional moorings. There are many aspects to regimentation and the Core Training Group must delve deeply into it. Even now, when army officers speak about me, its always “I spoke to Major Gaurav Arya…woh Kumaon Regiment wala”. I know the Indian Army well. Even when I die, they will say, “MGA passed away…woh Kumaon Regiment wala”.

Multiple officer entries must be stopped. There must be only two entries – direct and technical. You should not be able to be promoted to officer rank. Like in the army, you must go through the Academy (ACC Wing at IMA).

There must be immediate modernization of these forces, with a slew of new equipment including artillery, limited airlift capability, limited salt-water and riverine capability and armored troop carriers.

Both these forces must be young forces. It’s sad to see 55-year-old inspectors trudging along uneven terrain, unable to cope. National Security is a serious business. It must be merit based. Anything else is a compromise.

Once these steps are effectively implemented, India can start the next steps. Except for Siachen and some other critical patches, the Indian Army must move out and over a period of 15 years, hand over most border areas to IBG troops. This will, off course, be done after developing capabilities. Indian Army must move to locations behind borders. I say this because the Indian Army is an offensive force. It must be used in war. That’s the DNA of the Indian Army.

Once this is done, we should actively look at foreign bases for deployment of the Indian Armed Forces. Africa, Central Asia and the Indian Ocean are where we must have theater commands. Outward projection of military power is what we must aim at. And that is only possible when you have strong, professional, well-equipped and motivated forces to guard India.

For too long we have treated CAPFs as India’s stepchildren. They are neither army nor police. And yet, thousands of them have laid down their lives defending India from internal and external threats. They deserve to lead their own force.

They have shed enough blood.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

17th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment

Indian Army

#MajorGauravArya #TheOthers #adgpi #IndianArmy

 

IRFAN

“Jai Hind, Sir. Someone wants to meet you. He says his name is Irfan Ahmad Lone and he is from downtown”, said the voice of the guard commander from the main gate.

“Jai Hind. Check identification and let him in. He can come to the Officers Mess lawn”, I responded. I was staying in Humhama, which is not far from Srinagar Airport.

“Identification checked, Sir. He will reach you in three minutes. He is being escorted”, the soldier’s voice said, ever efficient. Soldiers like to give timelines, even when they are not required.

After what seemed like exactly three minutes, a soldier came to the Officers Mess lawns and with him came my visitor from downtown. Truth be told, downtown is not the nicest part of Srinagar. This is the separatist hub that sees massive stone pelting, suitably adorned with Pakistani and ISIS flags.

My visitor had been calling me for the past few months wanting to know when I will be coming to Srinagar. I don’t know how Irfan got my phone number but he would call me every week from a different phone. Most calls I get from Kashmir are either inquisitive or hostile. This was neither. Irfan was extremely polite and would speak with the “aap-janaab” etiquette of old Lucknow.

He sat down shyly. The soldier saluted and left. Irfan was short and slim and sported a beard, as is the fashion in Kashmir these days. He wore jeans and a brown pullover.

I shook hands with Irfan and something seemed to be wrong with his right arm. It was not straight. Irfan saw me looking at his arm and smiled.

“Sir, they broke my arm. The doctor was too scared to treat me, and I guess my arm healed the wrong way”, he said in a very matter of fact voice.

“Who broke your arm, Irfan? And why?” I asked.

“Sir, the Hurriyat’s boys put my elbow between two bricks and someone kicked my elbow downwards. My arm snapped.”

“Why?” I asked perplexed.

“I was waving the tricolor”, Irfan laughed, his eyes dancing in the sunlight.

I asked him what he would like to have. Yes, you can have whatever you like. Coffee it was.

“Patriots are not respected in Kashmir, Sir” said Irfan. I listened as Imran went on in his slow drawl.

Irfan was a part of a small group of young men, all Kashmiri Muslims, who would spend their free time writing pro-India articles and posting them on anonymous Facebook accounts. To use one’s real name was to invite a painful death. There was an advocate from Pulwama, a merchant from Tral and a few others from Srinagar who comprised this motely group.

“We meet once every few months at my house to discuss strategy”, said Irfan in a voice dripping with what he thought was conspiracy.

I was intrigued. Why would a Kashmiri Muslim living in downtown Srinagar risk his life to write pro-India articles, I asked Irfan?

“India is not just your country. It is mine, too” he said. Point taken.

“When I was in the army, I was armed and I had my soldiers. But you are out in the open, unarmed and alone. They will kill you”, I said.

“Then perhaps I am more Indian than you, Major sahab”, said Irfan laughing.

Yes. I remember my Commanding Officer telling me that you don’t have to wear a uniform to be a patriot.

We spoke about this and that, Irfan and I.

He told me that he had a few cracked ribs and four teeth missing. To drive home the point, he lifted his upper lip with his tongue and sure enough, a gaping hole greeted me.

I excused my self and went inside the Officers Mess. I called my police contact from downtown. I asked him about Irfan.

“You are sitting with pagal Irfan?” the policeman laughed loudly. It seemed that Irfan was known by his more famous nom de guerre of pagal Irfan, or mad Irfan.

“Janab, the only reason he is alive is that people think he is mad. Last time he went to Lal Chowk and got into a fistfight with a Hurriyat strongman. They almost lynched him. Junooni hai woh ”, said the cop.

I walked back into the sunlight, welcoming the sudden warmth.

The waiter came, carrying coffee and cookies. Irfan cook his cup of coffee and dipped a cookie in it, before putting it in his mouth. We had our coffee in silence.

We put down our cups. Irfan said that he wanted a favor. I told him that if I could do it, I would. So, what did he want?

“Tell people in Delhi that we may be few, but our faith is strong. But tell them to act fast. We have no support. Everyday we risk our lives to tell India’s story. I am not sure I will be alive when you come next”, said Irfan in a matter of fact tone.

“Take it easy for a few weeks. You have much work to do. If anything happens to you, your mission will be compromised” I tried to reason with him.

“Life and death are in the hands of Allah, Major sahab. If He chooses death for me, so be it. He is munificent. He is merciful. And even if I die, I will be like Lt. Umar Fayaz. He is a martyr and for many boys in Kashmir, he is a role model”.

Irfan got up to leave. I walked with him for a few minutes, to see him off.

“Will you be waving the tricolor again? Be careful”, I told him, smilingly.

Irfan gave me a wide smile, the beginning of which revealed the four missing teeth. He reached into his pocket and removed a clean, white handkerchief. He unfolded the handkerchief.

Inside the folds of the pure white cloth was a small tricolor.

He put the handkerchief back in his pocket. We shook hands and embraced. Irfan turned towards the massive iron-gate, adorned with concertina wire, and slowly walked out.

As I saw him exit, my mind went back to what the policeman from downtown had said about him.

Junooni hai woh…pagal Irfan.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

17th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment

Indian Army

#MajorGauravArya #IndianArmy #adgpi #Irfan

Disclaimer: Irfan’s real name has been withheld to protect him. There are many Kashmiri Muslims like Irfan in the Valley. They are largely unsupported and they risk death everyday, just to tell India’s story. They use false identities and names. They meet in secret at night. They put themselves and their families in danger, because they believe in India.