Doklam Plateau - India, Bhutan and China Stand-Off

As I write this, India finds itself in a border stand-off with China. But unlike other times when India and China squared off due to difference in ‘perception’ of Line of Actual Control (LAC) along their vast border from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, the present stand-off is because of Chinese incursion in a region which is disputed territory between China and Bhutan. India has got involved because development in this area has serious security ramifications for India.

However, none of the reports barring one (Eyeball-to-eyeball in the Himalayas – Indian Express – Manor Joshi-June 30, 2017) gives correct information about the geographical region where this stand-off has taken place and likely reason for this new conflict. Even the report by Manoj Joshi only gives a broad outline of the area.

The objective of this report is to understand the boundary issue, claims of either party (China and Bhutan), geography in the area and Indian sensitivities. The thrust of this write-up is t…

On Army Chief Selection, Seniority and Merit

The elevation of Lt. General Bipin Rawat to the post of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) after superseding two other Army Commanders’ senior to him has created the quite expected controversy. There are as many arguments out there against this act of the government as there are in its favor.
The political establishment has hitherto stuck to the seniority principle more out of indifference than any love for the armed forces. Simply put, our political class does not understand the armed forces (with due exceptions) and has never made any effort to do so. Our political and bureaucratic set-up simply lacks appreciation, appetite and mechanism for any long term strategic thinking. This explains lack of strategic foresight and our inability to undertake complex geo-political manoeuvres. Ergo, we’ve never seriously explored use of military power as a means of extending and safeguarding national interests. And this manifests itself in us lacking in higher defense management. Everything else which ail…

Attack on Pathankot AFS: Quick Assessment

A quick summary and assessment of events basis whatever I’ve come across in the media. I’ve also added my comments along with it.

The terrorists entered India on the intervening night of December 31 and 1st January. Some news reports have claimed that the Innova was ARRAINGED to pick-up the terrorists from across the border. It was after the vehicle broke down/had a flat that terrorists hijacked the SP’s vehicle and made way away with it.
[Comment: Now, this is the FIRST most curious part of the whole event. And IMO, points towards the use of drug smuggling network to facilitate the strike. It is quite possible that the Innova was arranged for picking up the terrorists by facilitators on Indian side. When the Innova broke down, the terrorists made a call to their handlers and appraised them of the problem.
It was because of this call that SP was activated. I’ve convinced that the SP is a key player in the drug smuggling network. He was most probably asked to facilitate movement of so…

IAF Re-Equipment Imperatives: An Analysis

Source: Indian Express
The issue with respect to declining number of squadrons in Indian Air Force has gained prominence over last couple of years. Recently, we have had news about IAF having presented a scenario to GOI about squadron strength declining to a dangerously low number in mid-20s before the end of this decade. While the part about squadron strength reaching about 25 Squadrons by 2024 seems to be a wrong conclusion drawn from right information set, we do have an issue about IAF undergoing massive change, or requiring to undergo massive change, over 2015-2024 period.

I’ve tried to assess the situation basis whatever information is available in public domain and see where we stand. If anyone has contrary/additional information, please feel free to add. I will modify the analysis accordingly.

1. Current IAF strength: 

We first take a look at current strength of IAF across various a/c type; this will serve as a basis for understanding the transition requirement. I’ve mentioned each…

Indian Tank Ammunition Scenario -KE Penetrators

Tanks employ two main types of ammunition to defeat armor of opposing tanks. One type is called HEAT (Hi-Explosive Anti-Tank) while the other is called APFSDS (Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot). Russian have introduced anti-tank missiles being fired from the main gun of T-90 tanks and the same concept is also being introduced in Mk-2 version of Arjun MBT. However, this capability is yet to see widespread usage; one school of thought says this capability has been introduced to cover for relatively lower performance level of Russian anti-tank rounds. But we digress.
While HEAT rounds rely on molten jet traveling at very high speed to defeat armor, APFSDS ammunition uses only Kinetic Energy to defeat armor.
Wikimapia provides a pretty detailed overview of these types of rounds. Please see the link here:
India recently placed an order for 66,000 of these rounds from Russia and if news report(s) are to be believe…

Artillery Divisions in Indian Army - An Analysis-Part 2

In last post on the topic of artillery divisions in the Indian Army, I tried to spell out my understanding on the philosophy behind having artillery division and the likely equipment profile in current scenario.
Another aspect of the artillery divisions in the Indian Army which has not yet been answered satisfactorily is their composition – or, Order of Battle (ORBAT) of these artillery divisions. There are various assumptive ORBATs on the internet in this regard. In my opinion, they don’t provide the correct picture – especially, considering the conclusions which I have reached on the equipment profile of these artillery divisions.
Therefore, in this post I have tried to assess the actual composition for an artillery division – to the best extent possible. This analysis is based on piecing together tidbits of information from open sources about brigades which actually form part of these formations. I will quote information source along with the analysis. This, I think, s…

Artillery Divisions in Indian Army - An Analysis-Part 1


The Indian Army saw advent of its first Artillery Division in the form of 40th Artillery Division, which, if I remember correctly, was raised in late 90s. Since then, Indian Army has raised two more such formations with fourth artillery division having been cleared by Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to be raised under Eastern Command.
Not much literature is available (at least I have not come across any) in public domain on the philosophy behind raising dedicated artillery divisions or their composition. Information in form of article(s) may well be buried in issues of magazines dealing with professional military matters in libraries of various think tanks and army training colleges – but out of reach of mango people like me.
As is generally the case with military matters in India’s case, one needs to read material available for other countries and see how much of it makes sense in India’s case. This extrapolation without doubt has errors but then, one works with what on…