Armed forces overcame chinks, flexed muscle

Armed forces overcame chinks, flexed muscle

India’s military strategists and planners conducted several war games to prepare the armed forces in the year gone by. These  war games gave the armed forces an opportunity to get a reality check following simultaneous attacks on the eastern and western borders by the Chinese and Pakistani armies, respectively,

There was no pincer attack. But within a span of just few days, India’s eastern and western borders heated up suddenly, because of which New Delhi had to pull its diplomatic strings and show military strength to restore normalcy on both fronts.

First, the Chinese troops faced their Indian counterparts in eastern Ladakh near Chumar and Demchok. The stand-off continued for almost two weeks, overshadowing the summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Just as it ended, guns boomed on the western front, with Pakistani troops pounding border villages in Jammu, prompting India to undertake heavy retaliatory firing.

In a way, those three weeks are a reminder of how important military preparedness is for India, which lives in a neighbourhood of fragile peace with nuclear-armed nations on both sides and the Taliban calling the shots in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The induction of the new Russian-made aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya with MiG-29K fighters was therefore a big boost to the nation’s military muscle.

Add to that the sea trial of indigenous nuclear-powered submarine Arihant and the addition of the new Kolkata-class destroyer in the fleet, and it seems the Navy is on course to become an important player in the strategically vital Indian Ocean region.
The maritime force faced its share of woes too.

Exasperated over being blamed for a series of major and minor accidents, Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi resigned from office. Within days, Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha, commander in chief of the Western Naval Command and the senior-most aviator of the Navy, also resigned. Months later, Joshi would accuse the United  Progressive Alliance  government of making him a scapegoat.

The Army’s preparedness was also on the right track, as various elements of the new mountain strike corps are being put in place. The men in uniform also made news in the Kashmir Valley—first by extending a lot of assistance during the floods, and secondly due to the accidental killing of two Kashmiri youths in a speeding car that did not stop at three Army checkpoints.

An unprecedented public apology by Northern Army Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda helped lower tempers in the Valley before the crucial Assembly polls.

In the last 12 months, India also conducted nine missile tests, from the Prithvi II (with a range of 150 km) to Agni IV (4,000-km range). Already operational missiles Agni I (700-km range) and Agni II (2,000-km range) were also tested by the Strategic Forces Command as a part of its training exercise. The new missiles tested include the K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile and Nirbhay cruise missile, both capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The year, however, did not go well for the Indian Air Force, which lost one of its brand new C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and Su-30 MKI advanced fighter aircraft in unfortunate crashes.  Though a large number of its MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons have become obsolete, the service continues to wait for 126 fighter jets too.

Despite having three defence ministers in South Block, the ministry is yet to conclude the commercial contract, though French fighter jet Rafale was shortlisted three years ago. In 2015, the conclusion of the deal to purchase these combat jets will be the most keenly awaited development for the Indian military.

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