On 15 November 2016, a Chinese contingent from the 13 Group Army, Chengdu Military Region comprising of one infantry company along with supporting staff landed at the Lohegaon airfield in Pune in two IL- 76 Aircrafts from China to participate in the sixth India China Joint Training Exercise “Hand-in-Hand 2016” from 16 to 27 November 2016 in Aundh. The exercise – held alternatively in India and China, was aimed at acquainting both the Armies with each other’s operating procedures in the backdrop of counter terrorism environment. The basic objective of the training was to enhance confidence and trust between the two armies which may be called upon to grapple with anti terrorism operations under the UN mandate.The first such exercise was held in 2007 at Kunming Military Academy in Yunnan province in China.
The 13 day schedule focused upon training on crossing of obstacles, special heliborne operations, firing of various weapons, handling &neutralisation of improvised explosive devices and conduct of cordon & search operations in insurgency and terrorism environment.
The opening ceremony was attended by Maj. Gen. Y K Joshi, Additional Director General of Military Operations of Indian Army and Maj. Gen. Wang Haijiang of the People’s Liberation Army. After an impressive parade commanded by Lt Col Li Guanghua, Commanding Officer of People’s Liberation Army, both the Generals addressed the contingents before Gen. Haijing declared the Joint Exercise open. Thereafter, both contingents displayed their weapons which included assault rifles, grenade launchers and other sophisticated equipment. The ceremony concluded with an enthralling and mesmerising display of India martial arts of Kalyaripattu, Khukri dance and Malkhamb by soldiers of Indian Army and a massed martial arts display by the Chinese contingent.
The 13-day exercise included understanding each other’s operational methodology, developing interoperability and conducting joint tactical operations controlled by a joint command post. It was conducted in three phases — familiarisation with weapons and equipment; conduct of basic training including combat conditioning, firing of personal weapons, support weapons and practice of drills like establishment of covert observation post, house clearing, cordon and search and humanitarian and disaster relief operations. The third phase comprised conduct of joint exercise.At the closing ceremony, Major General S.K. Prashar of the Indian Army and Major General Wang Haijiang, Deputy Commander of the People’s Liberation Army, jointly reviewed a parade commanded by Colonel Dayanand Sharma, the Indian contingent commander.
MODERNISATION OF DEFENCE FORCES
During 2015-16, 61 Contracts have been signed for capital procurement of defence equipment for Armed Forces including Radars, Missiles, Rockets, Helicopters, Aircrafts and Simulators. A number of measures have been taken to achieve selfsufficiency in defence production by harnessing the capabilities of the public and private sector. These measures include provisions for according priority and preference to procurement from Indian vendors under the Defence Procurement Procedure, liberalisation of the licensing regime and providing access to modern and state-of-the-art technology to Indian industry by raising the cap on FDI in the defence sector. The DPP-2016 has introduced provisions for expediting the procurement process, to facilitate swift decision making, promote self-reliance and improve transparency and accountability in procurements. (Written reply by Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre to Shri PK Biju and others in Lok Sabha on 18 November 2016).
CDS IN THE OFFING?
During a book launch on 10 November 2016, the Raksha Mantri stated that higher defence reforms were under active consideration, which included the proposal for having a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). These could be finalised within a few months and they would bring in jointness among the three armed services. Mr Parrikar admitted that the services did not want to leave their “turf” but they have”slowly” come to understand that jointness would be much better than individual separate forces. While not committing himself to a time schedule, the Minister made it clear that the final call would be taken by the Prime Minister. In march last year, the Raksha Mantri had stated that CDS was a must and hoped to propose a mechanism for the creation of the post within the next three months. This time schedule could not be kept said the minister, as many issues needed to be ironed out. He stated that jointness was essential and could save the country a lot of money as too many activities that were being replicated by the different services could then be jointly executed and synchronised, especially in the field of acquisitions.
The post of CDS was recommended in 2001 by a Group of Ministers (GoM) which was set up in April 2000 to review the national security system in the aftermath of the Kargil War.The recommendation, if implemented, would be the first major military reform by the BJP led NDA government, which has already announced significant changes in the procurement process.
In September, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared the raising of the third and fourth Pinaka regiments at a cost of Rs 3,000 crore. In November, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared a RFP (Request for Proposal) for six additional regiments at a cost of Rs 14,633 crore.
The Pinaka system is designed and developed by two private entities, the Tatas and Larsen and Toubro (L&T), in association with Armament Research and Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The Indian Army’s two Pinaka regiments were inducted during 2016- 2010. L&T supplied the systems for one regiment while Tata Power SED delivered the other Pinaka regiment to the army. Currently, contract signing for two regiments (negotiations for which concluded in January 2011) is under way and is likely to be inked soon.
Each regiment consists of three batteries of six Pinaka launchers,in addition to support vehicles, a radar and a command post. Each launcher is capable of launching 12 rockets with a range of 40 km in a space of 44 seconds.
NAVAL CHIEF VISITS SRI LANKA
The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba during his five day visit to Sri Lanka, in November, attended the Concept Galle Dialogue 2016 – Fostering Strategic Maritime Partnerships. The Galle Dialogue is an annual conference hosted by Sri Lanka on the issues of Maritime Security and Cooperation between international navies. At the Galle Dialogue, the CNS delivered the key-note address on ‘India’s perspective on the benefits of Strategic Maritime Partnerships’. The visit by the Naval Chief was aimed at enhancing the bilateral maritime security relations between India and Sri Lanka. During the visit, the CNS held bilateral discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and senior dignitaries including the Chief of Defence Staff and the three Service Chiefs.