The Dragon Cometh

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The Dragon Cometh

On 16th August 2014, Prime Minster Narendra Modi gave the Indian Navy its first indigenous guided-missile-destroyer INS Kolkata. This ship is a testament to our engineers and designers, but that would not be the full picture. The problem is this ship is still not fully functional i.e. worthy because many of its strike and defense elements like the main air defense weapon which protects the vessel from aerial attacks. Long Range-Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM) has yet to be installed and it may take some time yet. This is being developed as joint venture between India and Israel. So what it means is the ship is vulnerable to incoming anti-ship missiles, which the Chinese destroyers and frigates have at their disposal. The Barak is meant to intercept and protect the ship from incoming missiles from a ship or aircraft from a distance of 70 kilometers.

Also the ship is not equipped with a primary sensor to detect submarines, towed array sonar.  This technology was being developed in India but it did not pass the Navy’s expectation we now have to look elsewhere, which means dependent on a foreign system. The long range towed array sonar will give this ship protection against submarine which increases the safety and strike potential even more. There are other things to worry about this ship but it is pointless to get into all that. Bottom line if fully stocked, this ship will be in a position to challenge any navy. But let us not get too excited about what the PM said about no country would challenge us now. We are far from it and the danger lurks on our north, South, East and West because the “The Dragon Cometh”.

For years our strategic and tactical military focus has been Pakistan, but it is very clear now, if there is to be a conventional type war with Pakistan, India, will win. But if we have to fight china, it will be an altogether different story. We are no were near their conventional strike capability in terms of the Army, Air Force and Navy. So in the event of a full scale war with China “We are seriously outgunned”.

Lack of strategic foresight  

Wars are won by soldiers, but it is politics and diplomacy which plays the most important part and India has consistently failed in this regard. In less than five years the Chinese army will be able to mobilize its troops near our eastern front more quickly because of the railroads that have already built connecting Tibet. Now they plan to build rail lines near Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. If they decide to invade and let us just pretend our intelligence agency have no idea, at present it will take weeks for our troops to mobilize and by that time it will be too late, they would have penetrated deep within our territory which will be lost forever.

However it is good to see the current government taking some corrective measure and giving the due attention of developing roads and other infrastructure which is much needed and not taking a timid stand. But this new infrastructure development will take time and till

Weak Diplomacy with neighboring countries

Sri Lanka is our close neighbor and due to diplomatic blunder a Chinese company is building a very important port which will give access to the Chinese navy to be so near our naval bases. Now the Sri Lankan government has given assurance that it will not be used for  any military purpose, but it  could be used as platform for intelligence gathering and knowledge is power and having information of our ship movements is half the battle won.

Also China is in the process of developing naval bases in Bangladesh and plans are afoot to build ports in Chittagong; in Myanmar, China is building radar and refit and refuel facility at , Sittwe, Coco, Hianggyi, Khaukphyu, Mergui and Zadetkyi Kyun. Also they have plans to develop more naval ports in and in Thailand and Cambodia.

Now that India has been covered from the East by road and by sea port and in the west in Pakistan they are building ports in Gwadar Baluchistan which is strategically located 72 Km from Iran and only 400 km east strait of Hormuz, a major route for shipping of oil and other essentials. According to Zia Haider an analyst with Stimson center a Washington based think tank said, “if the Chinese are able to have a fully functioning Naval base in Gwadar then it could be used as a listing post to monitor Indian and American maritime activity in the Arabian Sea and in Persian Gulf and future Indo-US Maritime cooperation.”

Christopher J. Pehrson’s a US army Colonel coined the term “String of Pearls” which has far deeper meaning and showcases the growing might of China as an economic and military giant. When it comes to defense spending in the last 10 years, China is only behind the US and have modernized its military to levels which will take years for us to match and this is all due to a Weak Diplomacy with neighboring countries and lack of strategic foresight as a result of weak political center. National security always should triumph over local politics, which sadly did not happen and now we are faced with total encirclement.

If we compare Indian Military strength with China, we are significantly behind and this applies to both modern military hardware and production of ordinances. If we do a comparative analysis of the Three Military wings of India and China we are no were close to matching China and there four reasons for that.

  1. Political indecision when it comes for procurement of weapons

Just as an example, it took years for the government at the center to buy Advanced Jet Trainers for the air force which resulted in many pilots dying because it is not easy to cross over from flying propeller plane to jet plane as they are much faster. For the army it took a long time for them to give our soldiers proper winter gear to survive in the Siachen Glacier. How many soldiers may have died only the government can tell? In recent times there have been several accidents abroad our ageing submarines.  All this could be avoided if only there is a board which is responsible for weapons procurement.

  1. Weapons development

For years we have invested god knows how much money into developing weapons and have very little to show for. We tried to build a Main Battle Tank aptly named “Arjun” and it has not worked. We just about managed to induct the Light combat Aircraft Tejes into the Air Force after over quarter of a century and over budget. The nuclear submarine is still years away from being put to sea. It seems we lack technical skills to develop proper weapons system.

  1. Bureaucracy

It is very sad when someone who has not manned our borders or ever stayed away from the comfort of their home is responsible to make decisions for our military. All bureaucracy has done is slow down any chance of resolving critical issues and play politics.

  1. Corruption

The scam which often comes to light is an embarrassment to our nation and slap on the face of all those brave men who laid down their lives for the country. Taking bribe from defense contractors and showering favors for particular individuals is a common norm.

Comparative analysis of all the three wings of the Military with China and Pakistan

Navy

Many important military projects which are of strategic and tactical importance for national security of India have been long delayed due to political indecisions and poor choices. For example the purchase of aircraft carrier from Russia has been a very costly affair. From initial 800 billion dollars which was the cost of refitting this ship and further one billion dollars for aircraft and weapons system. But we ended up paying twice the amount with further delays and the final cost was almost 4 billion dollars. With the amount spent on this ship, we could have built our own aircraft carrier for a far less price. We are still way behind schedule when it comes to building submarines to replace our aging fleet which is a hazard to our sailors.

It will take years before we will have our own aircraft carrier with flat takeoff like the one which the Americans have. Also we only have one nuclear powered submarine on lease from Russia and our own indigenous INS Arihant, which is not fully functional was launched as symbol on 2009 is no were near operational   though officially inducted in the Navy on 25th July 2009, this ship is mare symbolic and according to Admiral Nirmal Virma “Arihant will be more of “a technology demonstrator”, rather than a fully operational SSBN.” So it will be a few years before we can have our own nuclear submarine.

Also there are two kinds of subs which prowls in the high seas. One has the capability to launch Sea Launch Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) and the second attack submarine which has multipurpose role from tactical missions e.g. covert operations which involves special forces operatives being quietly dropped near enemy coast line, sinking ships and subs, launching cruise missiles, and gathering intelligence.

We do not have a single SLBM in our submarine fleet which basically would give us a deterrent of launching nuclear strike on any country. If our land based strike capability is neutralized, then SLBM is the only answer because modern subs are notoriously difficult to find and destroy. Plus missiles could be launched away from the enemy territorial waters and there will be very less warning or no warning of the incoming missile attack. We have none and all is still in experiment stages and depended upon foreign technology.

Comparative Naval Force Stats Information taken from globalfirepower.com

image: http://uthestory.com/sites/default/files/table%201.jpg

Air Force

At present the Indian Air Force ranks as the 4th most powerful air force in the world but that could be a bit world from truth because we still rely upon significant numbers of  Migs many of  them should have been out of service and part of museums long time back. The Air Force is the only unique service in all the armed forces were it is the officers who take part in direct combat and over the years we have lost a lot of pilots to accidents due to mechanical failure. The Mig 21 is even called the flying coffin and this plane should have been grounded long time back.

India’s very one Light Combat Aircarft (LCA) “Tajas” is still going through test phase and will take few more years before inducted into the Air Force. This project has taken over 30 years and is already over budget.

The Pakistan Air Force have always been superior to Indian Air Force and the only reason for that is they always had the best American Fighters. But that has not been the case with China; it always relied upon the old Soviet Union. But in the Last 25 years Chinese engineers by hook or crook have managed to create some very effective fighter jets on their own which has boosted their numbers and now they have also started exporting them other countries, namely Pakistan.

The deal to buy Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft for the Indian air force from France is the step in the right direction and this news has ruffled serious feather in China and its official mouth piece The People’s Daily, in an article talks about the Rafale fighter plane ‘encourages, excites and spurs India’s appetite and ambition to become a great military power while intensifying its aggressive and expansionist tendencies, which poses a serious threat to peace and stability in Asia.’ The paper further added about the Rafael deal ‘encourages, excites and spurs India’s appetite and ambition to become a great military power while intensifying its aggressive and expansionist tendencies, which poses a serious threat to peace and stability in Asia.

Comparative Air Force Stats Information taken from globalfirepower.com

image: http://uthestory.com/sites/default/files/table%202.jpg

Army

The Indian Army is one of the world’s largest and also one of the most professional armies in the world. In Asia there have been a tendency to usurp power from the civilian government, but the Indian Army has remained obedient to civilian control. Though efforts have been made over the years to upgrade their capabilities, not much has been achieved. The Indian Army is perhaps the most involved force within the confines of its own borders. From fighting insurgency which has now given them the unique skill of asymmetrical warfare and helping people during national calamity. The recent floods in Kashmir are one such shining example.

However we also have significant number of our soldiers guarding our eastern and western borders which puts too much pressure on them and to top it, it must be very frustrating to be using old weapons. Our tanks are old and the Main Battle Tank Arjun is just not up to the mark. Our artillery needs to be upgraded and we need more self propelled guns and multiple-launch rocket system which are very powerful defensive weapons if we have to counter china. Also the long awaited raising of the new mountain corps to counter China is still at planning level.

Comparative Army Force Stats Information taken from globalfirepower.com

image: http://uthestory.com/sites/default/files/table%203.jpg

But to match China when it comes to defense spending is unnecessary and it will be counterproductive to match every piece of weaponry with China, because we cannot afford to spend tens of billions of dollars each year.  So the best approach will be strategic spending of money over weapons which will give us strategic and tactical advantage. There is no point in buying any weapon which sole purpose is for offensive operation. We cannot get into a slug fest with China and if we do we will lose. That is why we must develop other weapons systems.

 Missile Program

India has made great stride when it comes to the development of ballistic missiles and have already inducted Agni and Prithvi missiles which is under the command of Strategic Forces Command. But we are still behind developing an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capable of striking deep into China which would give us the actual deterrence. The maximum range is no more than 8000 Km when it comes to Agni missile and also we have to extend the range of our Brahmos cruise missile which is only 290. We still have a long way to go, however our indigenous  missile program can be called one of the world’s best

Cyber Warfare

In recent times China has been held responsible for several cyber attacks which the Chinese deny, but there is no question with regards to China’s capability when it comes to cyber warfare tactics. The days of having a large and powerful military seem like coming to an end and attacking ones communication and utility services can prove very deadly and according to many experts fatal.

Communication, information and knowing yours and your enemy location is the key to success in today’s warfare. Now days the military relies on Global positioning Satellite for all sorts of information and if our network is compromised, our forces will be fighting blind. According to Renowned American military strategist Edward Luttwak can’t hide his scorn at “people [especially in India] talking suddenly about cyber war years after it had started”. He also disapproves of the widespread practice of differentiating cyberspace from land, air and sea. “It should ideally be an integrated effort,” says he referring to cyber defense as the fourth arm after the army, navy and air force. But he insists that what is required for combating cyber strikes — terrorist or otherwise — are teams manned by teen recruits.

Strategic allies

the eventual inability of not maintaining a growth rate of 7% or more could create serious problem inside china and war could be the only way out to douse the flame internal despondent.  China keeps violating our borders and tests us hoping a skirmish is what they need  because wars have been fought between nations for much less reasons this is why it is about time that India also start getting into Strategic Alliance. With Pakistan on the Western side which clearly has a first strike nuclear policy and a very formidable China with its advanced nuclear payload delivery system with the ability to hit any target in India, it is about time we start to rethink about non-aligned mind frame.

The deal with France to buy fighter jets fulfills the need for air force, but it lacks any strategic value. We must push ourselves closer to America, United Kingdom and Germany and in the meanwhile humor Russia. After the fall of Soviet Union and over the years the relationship between Russia and India has not been same as before. We have a very large Diaspora of Immigrants in the West and should take advantage and start leveraging the influence which Indians have in the West and create a strong Lobby.

Modi Factor

On 17th of September the Chinese President Xi will arrive to India with a promise of investing 100 Billion dollars over the next 5 years which sounds good, but what will be the riders attached to this generous investment will only be known after the end of the visit. It is clear that Japan is slowly giving up its non-militaristic pursuit and China does not want India to get close with Japan. Already China is not happy with India looking for oil and gas in South China Sea which it considers as its domain and is already in conflict with many of its South Eastern neighbors. India must not give-up any of its footing and must pursue its interest.

If China wants to surround India with a string of pearls then India also should start thinking about a blue water navy with friendly bases in South East Asia. Also a clear dialogue regarding the Border dispute must be put into action and during this visit a strong message should be given to President Xi to put an end to frequent violation of our borders in the east. Also it is high time China realizes that the threat of Global Jihad has finally reached its borders and terror attack could become the part of Chinese landscape sooner and it would need the help of countries like India which have suffered for so long

This meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi could be very significant for India because for a long time we had a weak center. However with a strong center in play this time, we should clear the issue of border violation and China must accept Arunachal Pradesh as part of India.

Epilogue

India should not worry about the number of tanks or fighter jets China have because India can never meet China’s actual defense budget, even the official version because we cannot   match it. So our strategy should be that of partnership with other nations and developing closer ties, both economic and defense.

Pakistan is China’s all weather friend, but unfortunately a highly unstable and unreliable country to do business with. And the reality is China does not have too many friends, even as many analysts think about the growing proximity between Russia and China, underneath all the comradery lies a deep mistrust which dates back to 1969 when both the countries came to blows. Bottom-line China has no real friends and all its closest neighbors are fearful about their expansionist fervor.

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Balaji descends from an intellectual family from South India which now resides in the capital of the largest democracy of the world, Delhi. A semi-bald-pot-bellied personality who unintentionally resembles to the younger version of Ed Harris. He has explored various business verticals in order to understand what he wants from his life. Finally, not sure whether he has found it –verbicide- discovered it, he has resorted to writing literary pieces for UtheStory. Today, the organization sees him as the most experienced person – in India experienced means who has come off age- among all the other UTSians. His grasp on political arena is firm, but movies is his interest area and writing on sports is what he loves to do. That is the only reason, the organization considers him as the ‘Experienced’. He has been writing for Digit Bazar and Digit How for some time and has created a long list of aficionados by writing sardonic and literary article pieces. Balaji loves to give ideas for the graphics of the article that he writes –depends if that is accepted or rejected by the Design team- but he loves it, truly. His article reflects the true picture of the situation that he tries to cover and is very neutral to the topic. Being neutral does not mean he is dolesome by nature. He is very passionate and jovial human creature who at times enlightens people around him with his excellent sense of humor which is the amalgam of south and north India.

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