An Independence Day Gift To Defence Services

Having announced the welcome post for a Chief of Defence Services, the Prime Minister must now integrate the Services HQs with Defence Ministry wherein officers and bureaucrats will sit side by side as equal partners

From the ramparts of the Red Fort in his 92-minute Independence Day speech, the Prime Minister has finally announced the appointment of Chief of Defence Services (CDS) post for the three services. The crying need for the post was felt after the 1971 Indo-Pak War wherein with the consent of the Indira Gandhi Government, Gen SHFJ Manekshaw performed the duties of the CDS for the duration of the war. He was also promoted to Field Marshal, a Five Star General on his retirement. This much-awaited appointment is a welcome step for deteriorated civil-military relations wherein the three services are denied direct access to the Raksha Mantri (RM) and they have to pass through the tinted filters of an under equipped and qualified bureaucracy.

Based on the arrangements in most of the democracies of the world, it was always felt that a single point advisor to the government representing all the three services for all aspects of operations, training and procurement was paramount. The CDS had to be senior to all the serving Chiefs to be effective and as such should be a five star general who would have a direct access to the Raksha Mantri (RM). The bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) were always wary of this arrangement and were against the appointment as their implied authority over all the three services would be diluted. Although, the Chairman Chiefs of Staffs Committee was the right man to perform in absence of the CDS, in various UPA Government tenures, the Defence Secretary, who is lower in status to the three Chiefs was performing this task by default; without adequate in-depth knowledge of the three services, only because he had direct access to the RM.

Successive governments continued to defer the appointment of CDS on the ill advice of the bureaucracy. Thanks to the then BJP Government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee to have formally identified the need of having a CDS after the Kargil War. The Group of Ministers in the Kargil Review Committee recommended that a Five Star General should be appointed as the CDS. The appointment was related to the integration of services headquarters with MoD as is prevalent in most of the democratic countries of the world.

It is to the credit of the three services that they started preparing the framework of the CDS Secretariat and integration of the services headquarters with MoD. The services set up a joint integrated Headquarters named the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS). IDS has been effectively and efficiently functional for over a decade now and is headed by Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff (CIDS); an Army Commander level Officer in rotation from the three services, who would eventually be the deputy of the newly appointed CDS. Presently, the CIDS reports to the Chairman Chief of Staff’s Committee who is the senior most services Chief and holds two hats in this rotational appointment. The newly appointed CDS will just have to walk in and “plug and play“the role as he already has an effective team in place.

The NDA.1 government identified the need to have a CDS and the late Manohar Parrikar on taking over as RM had promised the services that he would soon get a CDS appointed. However, the three services Chiefs were not on the same page as IAF opposed the idea. The IAF and Indian Navy, because of their smaller sizes, were always scepticle that this post would generally be held by an Army Officer and their priorities of modernisation and acquisitions may be relegated or kept on the back burner. In the Israeli Army in the 2005 war with Lebanon the CDS was from the Air Force and Israeli tanks suffered heavy casualties due to an unorthodox use of missiles fired from basements and windows of houses by Hizbulla. It was then decided that CDS would always be appointed from the Army and is usually from the Special Forces.

Due to his proximity with the PMO, NSA Ajit Doval has been willy nilly performing the duties of the CDS from Pathankot Incident to surgical strikes to Balakot and now abrogation of Article 370. While it may be acceptable for internal security situations to have an ex police officer taking charge of the situation, for an external threat he would woefully fall short. PM needs to be congratulated for not succumbing to the suggestion of a four star general to the job because Chairman of Chief of Staff Committee, a four star General is presently performing the duties and cannot be very assertive on the other two chiefs of the same stature.

Ideal choice for the first CDS are two learned and very well read Generals who have retired in the last two years and are still current. The first one is Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi who was wrongfully denied the appointment of the COAS in spite of being capable, and the second choice is Lt Gen DS Hooda who was at the helm of Northern Command during the launch of surgical strikes. Otherwise, a serving Chief may be promoted and another chief appointed in his place. The front-runners amongst them are the Air Chief BS Dhanoa after Balakot and the Army Chief Bipin Rawat. Government will do well if they appoint the first CDS who is a visionary and acceptable to all services. 

The new RM Mr Rajnath Singh needs to be congratulated on rolling back of income tax levies on disabled soldiers and announcement of appointment of CDS within three months of his taking over. He needs to restore the confidence of the serving military soldiers in their government who has been systematically relegating their rightful stature in NDA 1 period. Since the Central Police Forces Officers have already been granted Non Functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU) and the services have been denied the same; the elite defence services have for the first time in history of India been relegated to a position below the CPOs. This does not augur well for the morale and motivation of the defence forces of a country which aspires to be a regional power within a decade.

The modernisation and acquisition plans of the defence services need an immediate impetus with infusion of necessary funds. This is also the ideal time to integrate the services headquarters with MoD wherein services officers and bureaucrats will sit side by side as partners and MoD will stop pretending to be a higher Headquarter. Lots of overlapping will be removed with savings to the defence budget and efficiency and accountability would be ensured.

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Indian Army Is People's Fauz, Not Modi Ji Ki Sena

Indian Army Is People’s Fauj, Not Modi Ji Ki Sena

Time has come for a public outcry in support of no politicisation of the armed forces

Prime Ministers will come and go but Indian Army will remain the final bastion of this nation. Our defence forces have a long track record of being apolitical and are respected worldwide for their professionalism. Indian Army is the army of its people and has always acted to save its citizens from external aggression and internal disturbances or insurgencies. 

Insurgency in Punjab was controlled largely due to the fact that Indian Army under their Chief General Bipin Chandra Joshi had cleared all rural areas of militants and had left the populated urban areas to the Punjab Police. The Chief had decided that the army would not take any credit but would continue to provide area security and actionable intelligence to the state police, allow it to take the credit and re-establish its credibility. That is the mettle Indian Army is made of and the politicians of all hue and cry must adhere to the opening sentence of the code of conduct laid down by election commission that clearly states that politicisation of the army should not be resorted to.

The fire brand Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath in an election rally has remarked that Indian Army is Modi Ji Ki Sena. It is a well-known fact that this CM also had an army of his own. Indian Army is an instrument of the state and does not belong to any political party in or out of power. The credit for giving a political clearance for operating across the Line of Control should rightly go to PM Modi. Again, the credit of placing all instruments of intelligence gathering or monitoring the movement of inimical forces as also tracing the moment of own troops in territory controlled by the enemy must go to the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

The credit of planning and coordinating operations goes to the Director General Military Operations acting in behalf of Army Chief and the Northern Army Commander. The Corps Commander was responsible for coordinating and provision of all resources at his call to support the operation. The actual credit of launching the surgical strikes across the enemy lines goes to the Commanding Officer, the team commanders and the troops of Special Forces who went across and risked their lives and the pilots of Indian Air Force and their base commanders. If the PM, NSA, the then Army Chief or the Army Commander take credit for launching surgical strikes, then they are far from the truth. Unfortunately, for this nation, they are all taking credit, time and again, to gain votes or favours for plum appointments within and outside the country.

Number of movies and web shows like Uri and certain others have misguided the nation in showing that the operational and tactical wisdom flowed down from the PM and the NSA. The PM and NSA have had no formal training in military matters and are not well equipped to lay down operational plans. Such operations had been done earlier also but in a covert manner to impose your will on the erring opponent. The difference is that this time it was made public and the surgical strikes are being milked time and again to score browning point against political opponents. It is but natural that when corned in this issue, the opposition starts doubting the veracity of the claims and starts asking proof of these operations. Both the ruling party and the opposition have done ample harm to the credibility of our armed forces as also the confidentiality of the operational plans.

The time has come when there needs to be a public outcry in support of no politicisation of the armed forces. When you talk to the common man on the street he has a lot of respect for the armed forces. The best way to build nationalism is to have conscription wherein every abled man and woman does military training for a specific period. USA and some European nations have had conscription from time to time. Israel and some of its Arab neighbours still have conscription. It will be argued that India, because of its burgeoning population, cannot afford to have conscription. Shall we then lay it down as a legislation that all individuals aspiring for government jobs and public life must have a compulsory two years military training? That will cover all future politicians and bureaucrats.

Very systematically, the bureaucrats and the politicians over the last seven decades have been bringing down the status of the premier institution of defence forces, in successive pay commissions. The biggest user of the pay commission, the defence forces never have had a representative in the pay commission. The Ministry of Defence has not been integrated with services Headquarters like in all modern democratic nations and behaves like a higher Headquarters without having any practical knowledge of matters military. No modernisation has taken place either in the ten years of UPA government or in the last five years. The civil military relations in the county are at its lowest ebb under the present government. Although in principal, this government has given One Rank One Pay in the beginning of their tenure, the bureaucracy has successfully insulated the politicians from the services and have ensured in holding the government from completing its promises. The rapid changes of Defence Ministers who have been political light weights shows that the PMO has little time for ensuring true national security except for resorting to rhetoric and pushing agendas in the name of national security. This must change with the new government in office this summer otherwise we will get a rap on our knuckles again like 1962.

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Manohar Parrikar: Destiny Ends A Brilliant Career

Manohar Parrikar was the most stable, effective, amiable and intelligent Raksha Mantri (RM) from the NDA 1 and 2 so far. He has been one of the few forward looking Raksha Mantris (RMs) of India who was pragmatic, hardworking, clear headed and open to suggestions. He always gave us an out of box solution to certain vexed issues. Shortly after taking over as RM he proclaimed that he would give the services a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) provided all three services were on the same platform.

Passing away of Manohar Parrikar is a loss not to the BJP alone but the whole political community of modern India. Tributes have been received cutting across party lines because essentially he was a cultured and amicable person who generally maintained the dignity of his office. A young IIT graduate, Manohar Parrikar became the Chief Minister of Goa in 2000 at the age of 45. Prior to that he had been an RSS worker from school days and leader of the opposition in Goa assembly. In one of the election conclaves of BJP in Goa in 2013, he was the first one to suggest that Modi should lead a united BJP campaign at national level. Modi was grateful to him and as a goodwill gesture got him to the Centre as a full time RM in November 2014. Prior to him the significantly important portfolio of defence was given as additional charge to an ailing finance minister.

The defence budget being limited in resources, Parrikar was able to clearly and pragmatically prioritise procurements for the three services. While he understood the need for modernisation of all the three services, he was also able to devise a time bound procurement plan. He tried to streamline and simplify procurement procedures and ushered in a new procurement policy. He had a very analytical mind and his being an IIT graduate helped him in coherently finding the way forward. A patient listener, he was quite quick on the uptake and was able to suggest workable but sometime naive, out of the box solutions to the defence forces.

Although he had excellent managerial abilities at the highest levels, his understanding about the actual conduct of operations was limited due to lakh of actual combat experience. However, he was a quick learner and during his short stint as the RM, the Army conducted surgical strikes across the international border with Myanmar and across line of Control in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

As a first he ordered some high level studies to be conducted by a group of retired and serving officers to streamline efficient functioning of the armed forces. As a result of these studies, outdated organisations were pruned or closed down to spare manpower and equipment for newly desired capabilities and capacity building.

The man had a flip side of his personality. He had no penchant for customs and time tested traditions of the armed forces and tried to bring in contemporary business practices which were not always well received by the veterans community. He was seen taking salute at ceremonies like guard of honour, a very solemn affair, in Chappals and crumpled bush shirt. At the same time, he was immaculately dressed in suit and Oxford shoes when he attended similar ceremonies abroad especially in the western countries. This did not go well with maintaining the traditions, ethos and elan of our proud armed forces and the veteran community.

Although he promised institution of the post of CDS and exhibited a will to resolve the One Rank One Pay issue, the bureaucrats salvaged his efforts and did not let these resolutions go through. He took credit for surgical strikes stating that he told the army what to do and how to do disregarding and downplaying the immaculate planning by senior officers and bold and audacious execution by junior leaders and troops on the ground. He did shake the bureaucrats a bit in a bid to make them more accountable and efficient but could not change their moral fibre and archaic ways of functioning.

He deviated from the proven tradition of martial music on beating the retreat after Republic Day celebrations to contemporary Bollywood style music with band players swaying in a manner not conforming to the values and traditions of the services. He was highly criticised for this act by the veterans and he confessed that he should take advice from the senior serving and retired officers before introducing radical changes. Inspite of his lack of strategic and operational depth in matters purely military, as a senior level manager he always gave suggestions some of which were workable and deserved to be given a chance.

Parrikar gave a fillip to all stalled defence projects because prior to him the services were not able to approach and convince the part time RM the necessity and urgency. Once he got the complete picture, which took about three months of detailed briefings from November 2014 to February 2015, he was able to prioritise logically and suggest to us how to stagger big ticket projects over the years in order to fit into the allotted defence budget. 

The much debated Rafael deal also exhibited his pragmatic approach wherein he agreed with PMO that at least two squadrons required urgently for strategic reasons should be procured through the fast government to government lane. Once the PMO took full charge of the Rafael deal he told the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to maintain a standoff distance and stayed out of the controversy inspite of opposition trying to rope him in.

In one of our meetings on enhancing the capacity of defence industries, I suggested to him that these units only worked during day light hours and if we had three continuous shifts around the clock like the heavy steel plants, then we could triple our production. He quite liked the idea but unfortunately, continuity was not maintained as he was sent back to Goa to cobble a minority coalition BJP government, which non other than him could have managed to stitch ; since one to one, congress had 25 percent more number of legislators than BJP in the state.

Parrikar would be remembered for what he achieved in his short life. Goa will always remain indebted to him for all the development he carried out in the state. The armed forces would always wish he had a longer tenure with them.

(The writer worked closely with Manohar Parrikar during the latter’s tenure as Defence Minister)

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Balakot Attack: Time To End Bilateral Diplomacy

The decision to go up the spiral ladder by NDA 2 Government and use Indian Air Force (IAF) against terrorism is a new normal. The bold air attack in the wee hours of the morning of 26 February at Balakot, on mainland Pakistan was a non-military, preemptive strike against an established training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and was not likely to be a one off attack. India has made it clear that it may resort to such attacks if Pakistan does not rein in the terrorist organisations. It showed the resolve of the elected government in India to take action against terrorists to avert future Pulwama type attacks in Jammu and Kashmir or rest of India. The retaliatory attack by Pakistan was on expected lines and was successfully averted.

Pakistan was caught off guard and in the existing hostility matrix had not factored in an air attack on its mainland or in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Initially, in denial of any damage due to the Indian insertion, Pakistan Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) stated that Indian aircrafts had violated their air space and had been chased away by the alert Pakistan Air Force planes. Once India claimed they had destroyed a JeM camp and killed between 250-300 terrorists; Pakistani authorities took a u turn and announced that this aggression on part of India would be avenged. As a riposte, ten Pakistani aircrafts including F-16s tried to violate the Indian airspace in broad day light o. 27 February but were challenged by IAF air defence aircraft ex-Awantipur. In the ensuing dog fight one Paki F-16 was brought down by the Indians and the Pakis destroyed one MIG -21 and captured Wing Commander Abhinandan who had bailed out.

In the three days from 26 to 28 February the Indian and Pakistani media went berserk and created a war hysteria. They were ably helped by retired defence officers, bureaucrats and academic defence analysts. Both the countries were stressing on their standard narratives with India insisting that Pakistan should bring to book all terrorist organisations and United Nations should put Masood Azhar on international terrorist list like Hafiz Muhammad Saeed; while Pakistan remained in a constant denial of assisting the terrorist groups. Even the gesture of releasing Wing Commander Abhinandan by Pakistan was viewed by India with suspicion and the Indian media declared that Pakistan was brought to its knees due to pressure by the international community.

I think time has come for India to consider dumping this outdated diplomatic tool of bilateralism. Bilateralism had a relevance during the Cold War when India was not part of either US or USSR alliances but was part of the non-aligned nations group. We dealt with member nations on bilateral basis inspite of the fact to which group, NATO or Warsaw Pact; was that nation belonging to. The Panchsheel Doctrine based on five tenets of bilateralism which we tried with China in late fifties failed miserably when China attacked India in 1962. During Kargil crisis and after the Balakot incidence we have sought the intervention of USA, UN, France, UK and Germany.

It is felt in some quarters that Pakistan has been totally isolated by the international community and most Indians would like to believe it. The truth is far from it and all those nations who have exhorted Pakistan to take action against terrorists have engaged Pakistan as parts of alliances in solving the Afghanistan problem whether it is US- Afghan Government-Taliban-Pakistan or Russia-Taliban-Pakistan-China group. However, Pakistan is taking symbolic actions by arresting large number of known terrorists including brother and son of Masood Azhar and restricting the moves of other terrorist groups. How sincere are the efforts of Pakistan in roping in of all terrorist groups, only time will tell.

The situation has been diffused for the time being by timely return of our pilot by Pakistan and Indian politicians are back to work for electioneering and mud-slinging onto each other. Where do we go from here? While India will be pre occupied in elections for the next three months, Pakistan will do well in showing its genuine intent by ensuring that no major terrorist incidence takes place during this period. By carrying out aerial surgical strikes deep into hinterland of Pakistan and obtaining unconditional release of its captured pilot, India has exhibited its resolve to fight terrorism fiercely. It also reserves the right to repeat the attacks as and when felt deemed.

While India has won this round on moral grounds and pressure from international community, there are yawning gaps in the capability building of the three forces. The defence acquisitions in the pipeline have to be speeded up. Whereas, we certainly need big ticket aircraft and warships, the bureaucrats and the army brass need to lower their eyes and address the needs of the infantry man on the ground who is largely deployed in insurgency areas. The infantry does not have a state of the art rifle, Sten gun, hand grenade, water bottle and modified vehicles for specialist weapons. To effectively take out terrorist leaders and minimise own casualties, infantry needs latest version of sniper rifles. Pakistan has already acquired them and is inflicting casualties to own troops on the Line of Control (LC).

With the entire Balakot incident coming as a shot in the arm, the Modi Government is likely to return to power after the elections. Regardless of which so ever party comes to power, the new government should make an attempt to engage Pakistan in talks and also work wholeheartedly to get normalcy back in the Kashmir Valley. This has been the hottest winter in the last decade as far as insurgency and violence levels are concerned in the sub-zero temperatures. The levels of alienation have gone back to 1987 levels. We should not be in a hurry to impose an elected government on people until security forces have brought in levels of insurgency under manageable limits.

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Aftermath Of Suicide Attack On CRPF In Pulwama

The Pulwama incident is a major intelligence and operational failure. The governor Mr Satya Pal Malik, in a first, has taken responsibility for the lapses and has assured that corrective actions would be taken. He added that after a collective review by all security forces, corrective measures would be put in place to eradicate terrorism from the state. Some experts feel that India lacks a strategic culture and we need to carry out a deep review of how we do business at strategic and tactical levels in sub conventional environment.
In a ghastly suicide attack on 14 February by a local twenty plus Kashmiri youth by smashing an explosive laden vehicle into a passenger bus of a long convoy carrying Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troops ; 44 soldiers were martyred and a large number of them are battling for their lives in army hospitals across the country. This is by far the largest loss of lives in a single attack in J&K and has been claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed ; the Pakistan based terrorist group that had lost some prominent leaders in encounters with security forces in recent years.
The deadly incident has been condemned by one and all and PM Modi has stated that the sacrifices will not go in vain. The international community has expressed its concern over this gruesome attack. Another attack by Pakistani terrorists on Iranian Revolutionary Guards left 27 Iranian soldiers dead along the border. Two days later, an Army major died in Naushera and two soldiers were injured while trying to diffuse an IED laid by Pakistani border action team. A pattern of a spurt in use of IEDs by Pakistan based terrorists is emerging which if not arrested could destabilise the security paradigm in the region.
National sentiments demand retribution from Pakistan and PM has stated that Indian Army and other security forces have been given a free hand to take necessary action. While it is clearly indicative that it is the handiwork of a Pakistan based group headed by Masood Azhar ; the fact that the attack has been carried out by a suicide Kashmiri youth in the hinterland leaves a lots of retrospection to be done and we need to chalk out a de novo approach to ensure that such deadly attacks are not repeated in the country. The suicide attack is on the lines of Palestinian terrorists and one needs to understand how Israeli Defence Forces tackle this menace.
As a first we need to take some defensive measures to ensure that our convoy movement is safe and prophylactic preventive measures are in place to thwart such designs. Simultaneously, the intelligence agencies have to trace back the chain that has been working behind the suicide bomber and dots have to be connected right upto it’s origin in Pakistan. Thereafter, while the Ministry of External Affairs would expose the Pakistani connection to the international community, the security and intelligence agencies have to surgically remove the umbicle cord between the handlers and the executors. The masterminds have to be identified and neutralised by R&WA and the assets and sleeper cells in Pakistan have to be reactivated.
In Kashmir Valley, population control measure will have to be firmly reinstituted. The security forces have to have census of all individuals residing in the area of responsibility. Search and cordon operations need to be enhanced in all suspicious areas where terrorists are likely to be harboured. The use of rubber bullets and other riot control equipment to engage stone throwers has to be reintroduced to save lynching of soldiers by errant civilians. Curfew under section 144 must be imposed in sensitive areas dynamically on need basis. These steps are really restrictive and retrograde but we do not have the luxury and capacity to absorb more losses of life.
In addition, personal security for all politicians, bureaucrats , senior police and security forces officers need to be stripped off and the resources thus available should be utised for area security. All residential areas of these officials should be grouped in one area like the cantonments and effective area security augmented with technology including BFSRs, HHTIs and unattended sensors should be deployed. On all important roads frequented by security forces, civil traffic should be regulated and picketing in addition to road opening should be resorted to.
The CRPF is a force which has no ‘Mai baap’. As the name suggests, it is a central government armed police force which is deployed to augment resources of the state police in maintaining law and order. Although organised in battalions, it is seldom deployed as such and is allocated in company lots. It is not unusual for a CRPF battalion located in Nagaland to have two to three companies deployed in J&K. There is no cohesiveness in the troops as the companies are more often than not led by inspectors and not by officers. The Commanding Officer (CO) is not in a position to affect the tactical employment of the force.
The CRPF companies come under command the state civil police and local Superintendent of Police (Operations) of a district (SP Ops) employs the CRPF. During the Punjab insurgency in the eighties, the SP(ops) used to allot the CRPF troops in penny packets and they were used to protect the local police stations ! At the higher level, the IPS officers commanding the force are removed from the tactical situation on the ground and assume only administrative duties. The Home Ministry needs to revamp command and control structures of this otherwise potent force.
The Modi Government has to take some tough decisions besides stripping Pakistan of the tag of most favoured nation status.This is perhaps the only time that the government of India would be able to push the abolition of Article 370 as political parties across the board are likely to support the government whole hog. India needs to unilaterally abrogate the Indus River Treaty and tell the world that it refuses to have any dealings with a rogue state. All cultural and sports exchange between the two countries need to be snapped permanently and homegrown talent needs to be promoted.
Division of Jammu and Kashmir into three states of Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Leh as envisaged by PM Modi, may be a good step to ensure better administration and localisation of the terrorist infested areas. This, however, may also end up in working as the chemotherapy for a malignant cancer and not a cure. The root causes of all insurgencies are political and economic in nature and must be addressed squarely to eradicate terrorism and not by barely going after the terrorists.
As Pakistan only understands the language of terror; whatever it takes to stoke separatist fires amongst Baluchi and Sindhi separatists, must be done. If Pakistan faces the threat of further balkanisation, so be it, and India should provide the catalysts.
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Bomdila: A Measure Of Worsening Civil-Military Ties

innocuous spat between some local boys belonging to Army and the Police. Bomdila is from where the Dalai Lama came to India in 1959 after annexation of Tibet by China. During the 1962 Indo-China war, a saga of bravery by all of 32 soldiers of 1 Sikh Light Infantry under Sub Pritam Singh who gave the supreme sacrifice in continuing to guard the western shoulder of the pass did not get the credit it deserved and the martyrs remained unsung heroes. We were very impressed with the quaint little town of less than 50 thousand population where locals have genuine respect for their Army and consider them as saviours. Civil administrations and Army got so well intertwined with the local population that it was difficult to tell one from the other. Everything has changed since. The unfortunate episode was a one off incident which happened when 50 soldiers of 2 Arunachal Scouts Battalion went out for an out pass on 02 November to Bomdila. Since this is a ‘home and hearth’ unit, all boys serving in the unit are from Arunachal Pradesh itself. Some local boys from a different but so called superior tribe, passed inappropriate comments on two soldiers from the 2 Arunachal Scouts Battalion, a subsidiary force of Indian Army. The Scouts Battalions are based on ‘sons of the soil concept’ to give employment to border area personnel. The Army boys got infuriated and asked a cop standing nearby as to why he was not taking action against the erring boys. Since the police man was wearing a jacket, the boys did not notice his rank and thought he was an equal. The policeman, an inspector, felt slighted by the tone the boys had spoken to him and slapped one of the soldiers. He then asked for additional police force and forcefully took these two boys to the police station and beat them up. The company Commander of the Scouts boys came to the police station and took his boys in the evening. The Commanding Officer (CO) of 2 Arunachal Scouts came without security next day to meet the SP to pacify the local police but did not find him in the office. He was told the SP would be there by 2 PM. The CO returned back stating he would come again at 2 PM and found the police station fully fortified with additional CRPF and other Para Military Forces. The CO came back at 2 PM, this time with his protection, and dared the SHO to touch his boys again. While the CO was inside the police station, a scuffle took place between the boys from two forces outside and the police even fired four rounds in the air. This is an often repeated incident in urban areas where in a scuffle takes place at lower levels due to ego hassles but is generally solved at the SSP and CO level and higher HQ seldom get involved. The DC, a lady with six years of service also arrived at the police station and got involved. The young DC and the SSP coloured a normal scuffle between local boys into a civil police vs army spat and recorded five FIRs against the army also accusing army persons to have snatched police weapons and fired from them. The army has been trying to record an FIR with their side of the story but the police has not recorded the FIR so far. It may be recalled that since Arunachal Pradesh was earlier a union territory, the IAS and IPS posted in the state still come from the UT cadre. The incident was unnecessarily blown out of proportion with media also having a field day. The Raksha Mantri (RM) was in the neighbouring corps celebrating Diwali with troops in operational areas and decided to go to Bomdila to get a first hand information. She was accompanied by Minister of State Kiren Rijiu and senior army officers. She heard out both the parties and went away giving instructions to burry the case and exhorting all parties to maintain calm. Mr Rijiu is a local politician and visits Bomdila quite often. The DC and the SSP enjoy his patronage and probably that is why they got emboldened and charged up. Once the levels were raised, the Chief Of The Army Staff (COAS) also commented on the incident and was misquoted by the media in saying his boys were at fault. All he had said was that if his boys were found to be guilty, they would be punished. He could have easily got away by stating that an investigation was underway and it was inappropriate and premature to comment on the incident. The RM paid another visit and was aghast that the FIRs were not squashed. The CM asked her to post the two army boys involved out of the state. While the RM agreed to that she suggested that both DC and SSP also needed to be shifted and action should be initiated against them as well. Late DGP KPS Gill, the super cop of Punjab, incidentally originally from Assam Cadre, was asked a question by an army officer when he was a guest speaker in Army War College as to why army and police officers maintained a distance from each other. His answer was very simple and he said both were at fault. The army officer normally remained confined to their cantonments and the police officers were too busy managing day to day law and order challenges and guarding the politicians. He said that he and the General Officer Commanding from the Army in Assam had no problem whatsoever as they met often and dinned together. Therefore, there was a better understanding of each other’s functions, limitations and ethos. The answer as per him was to maintain personal rapport at all levels and keep the channels of communication open. Army and Civil Administration officers have interaction at the lowest level when the IAS/IPS trainees are sent for army attachment. At the working levels, they are very closely associated with each other in insurgency prone areas where army is deployed or when army is called out in Aid to Civil Authorities. At higher levels, periodic meetings are held at Unified Headquarters at state level and correspondingly at formation and district levels. At the apex levels there are meetings held at Cabinet Committee for Security in addition to meetings of officials of Ministries of Defence and Home. In a one year training course at National Defence College, selected senior defence and civil administration officers are given a formal training on national strategy for security and an exposure of each other’s functioning ethos. The stalemate continues in the small border town at the time of writing and the DC has refused to meet anyone from the army including the Brigade Commander over these days stating she is very busy. It may be recalled that the army clears the stranded traffic due to heavy snow every year in these border towns and rescues thousands of stranded tourists without a formal request by the civil administration. The local police is conspicuous due to its absence in such relief operations. The acid test is the impending Maitri Diwas scheduled after a few days wherein army takes part in celebrations in large numbers in support of the civil government. With five one sided FIRs launched against the army, it is near impossible for the army to take part on the same platform as civilians. The key lies with the CM of the state who should order squashing of all FIRs and usher in peace and tranquility. The erring officials on both sides need to be moved out of the area expeditiously.  ]]>

SEVENTY YEARS OF ANIMOSITY IN GAZA STRIP

. Since 2007, Israel has had a blockade of Gaza wherein free movement into and from Israel for jobs or medical treatment is severely restricted. There have been two rounds of wars between Hamas in Gaza and Israel in 2006 and 2014 wherein Hamas has resorted to missile attacks and Israel to air attacks. Timing of 2014 Israeli attacks is considered to be very significant by the international community for two reasons. Firstly, Hamas had shown an inclination to burry its differences with Fateh and come under the umbrella of a united Palestinians Authority operating from the West Bank. The second was that Israel had developed Iron Dome System with collaboration with USA for 4.2 billion dollars wherein over 98 percent of missiles fired from Gaza are intercepted and destroyed by automatic firing of Patriot missiles within seconds. The situation is still precarious and Israel also has the naval blockade in place wherein no food items, medicines, building material or weapons can come from the sea. Till the year 2000, the beginning of Second Intifida, around 26,000 Palestinians used to go into Israel for work on daily basis. Today Hamas has been discredited and is frustrated with the ongoing blockade by Israel. Palestinian Authority in West Bank is also very weak with overwhelming presence of armed Isreali Defence Forces. Their writ runs only in 14 percent areas of A Zone in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza also does not listen to them. By recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel with great fanfare when the Palestinians were getting killed in Gaza ; the USA has clearly indicated that two state theory is unattainable and Palestinians will have to stay within a Jewish state as second grade citizens. An Israeli Journalist Mark Lavie has explained Gaza as a hellhole. As per him, there is genuine suffering, poverty and hopelessness. Today, nearly two million Palestinians are living in desperation in forty by ten kilometres Gaza Strip and are at the end of their wits. They are living in abject poverty with overall 40 percent unemployment which translates to 60 percent for the youth. There is shortage of food items, medical supplies and electricity and as per the United Nations estimates, Gaza Strip will be unliveable by 2020. The population is caught between Hamas and the Israeli Armed Forces. Hamas is losing credibility and ground as it is helpless when it comes to alleviating sufferings of people. Israelis are playing into the hands of Hamas by killing large number of civilians. They are indirectly helping Hamas by diverting the frustration and anguish of the people with Hamas Administration. The international community feels that Israeli has resorted to disproportionate use of force. Even on last Friday of Ramazan called Al Quds, four Palestinians have been killed and over 400 have been injured. Peaceful agitation started by some students after the weekly prayers has turned into indiscriminate firing of rockets from Hamas and a lesser known militant group called Islamic Jihad. Israeli soldiers continue to fire for effect and the end of this impasse is not in sight. Egypt has tried to broker peace between the two warring sides but it does not last for more than a few hours. Palestinians also feel that Egypt’s gesture of opening the blockade from their side for the holy month of Ramzan is also a cosmetic one but will not resolve the problem. Recently, Palestinians have scored a small moral victory by persuading Argentinian soccer team not to come for the much publicised match with Israel in Jerusalem. But peace will still keep eluding the Middle East and coming months are likely to be more violent because Israel with the help of Trump Administration has buried the two nation theory and under the right wing government of Netanyahu has reconciled to conflict management as conflict resolution seems to be a distinct possibility.]]>