Thursday, 25 April 2013

Concern over Army transfers amid border stand-off



Proposed transfers after Lt Gen KT Parnaik's retirement on 30th Jun will place key hotspots under commanders unfamiliar with the situation

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 25th Apr 13

As a tense stand-off continues on the Sino-Indian border in Ladakh, where a Chinese patrol has apparently established a camp eight km inside India, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is confronted with a difficult decision — an inexplicable Army proposal to shift top generals, which would see key hotspots being placed under new commanders, unfamiliar with the situation.



The proposal, personally cleared by the Army Chief, General Bikram Singh, would leave Ladakh without both its top generals on July 1. That day, the commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Rajan Bakshi, who is handling the ongoing crisis at Daulat Beg Oldi, would be shifted to Lucknow. The same day, his boss, the Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen K T Parnaik, will retire.

Replacing Parnaik in Udhampur would be Lt Gen Sanjeev Chachra, currently commanding the Western Command in Chandimandir.

Also proposed for transfer on July 1 is Lt Gen Anil Chait, commander of the Lucknow-based Central Command, which looks after the disputed Uttarakhand border with Tibet. From this key operational command, Lt Gen Chait would move as Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, a mouthful that is abbreviated to Chief of Integrated Service Command (CISC).

Replacing Chait in Lucknow would be the newly promoted Lt Gen Rajan Bakshi. While Bakshi is entirely familiar with Ladakh, he would be new to the operational situation in Central Command.



The Army Chief’s proposal would also leave the crucial Chandimandir-based Western Command with a new commander. Replacing Chachra in Chandimandir would be Lt Gen Philip Campose, currently heading the Army’s Perspective Planning (PP) Directorate, who would move to Chandimandir on promotion.



Two top Army generals and a senior MoD official have expressed serious concern to Business Standard over these proposed changes, which would leave Northern, Western and Central commands in new hands during a sensitive period.



“We don’t know how this Chinese intrusion into Daulat Beg Oldi will play out. The Chinese could pack up and leave tomorrow or they could stay on, forcing us into a major operation like in 1986, when they intruded into Wangdung, in Arunachal Pradesh. Either way, it is ridiculous to change the two top commanders in a key sector simultaneously,” said a senior MoD official.



MoD officials are wondering why GOC 14 Corps, Lt Gen  Bakshi, cannot be sidestepped from Leh to Udhampur, taking over Northern Command from Lt Gen Parnaik instead of being shifted to Lucknow. This would allow continuity in handling the situation on the Sino-Indian border.



The ball is currently in MoD’s court, which can approve or reject the Army’s proposal. There is serious apprehension within MoD, since the government’s Allocation of Business Rules, 1961, squarely makes the defence secretary, as head of the Department of Defence, responsible for India’s defence.



“It is hard for the defence secretary to forget what happened in 1962, after Lt Gen B M Kaul was appointed commander of 4 Corps in NEFA, as the situation was escalating. Many historians blame the severity of India’s defeat in NEFA on the appointment of Lt Gen Kaul,” said a senior MoD official.



A senior general also pointed that Army Headquarters has always emphasised the importance of “tenure stability” of Army commanders. According to current promotion rules, a lieutenant general can only be promoted to Army commander (i.e. to head Northern Command, Western Command, etc.) if he has at least two years of residual service left before retirement. This was to ensure that an Army commander spends enough time in command, so that he is familiar with the operating environment in which his command operates.



“Now, they want to post out the Western and Central Army commanders, who have barely completed a year in their jobs. The new commanders would have to start afresh,” said a serving general.



MoD officials note that transferring Army commanders has proved controversial. In 2008, there was a furore when then Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor posted Lt Gen H S Panag, then the Northern commander, out from Udhampur to the Central Army in Lucknow. This took place after Lt Gen Panag initiated inquiries into dubious financial contracts that had been entered into during Gen Kapoor’s tenure at Udhampur.



Commenting on the proposal, Army Headquarters said, “There are three Army commanders’ vacancies that have to be filled and so we have proposed the right officer for the right job.”



It is not clear whether this means that the Army regards Lt Gen Chachra, an infantry officer, as ill-suited to command the mechanized-heavy Western Command; or whether Lt Gen Bakshi, an armoured corps officer who has successfully commanded an infantry division and corps, is regarded as unsuited for Northern Command.

36 comments:

Suraj Thapa said...

I dont understand that is it right to give so much secret information about our top military leaders movement like this.Even the chinese will be reading this. I am sure that army and defence ministry is capable of placing their commanders at the right place. All this decision would have been well planned and the best option would have been taken. Why do you think that you can decide for them when they ere the people dealing with this on ground.

Vikram Karve said...

A well articulated post. However you say that: "...the government’s Allocation of Business Rules, 1961, squarely makes the defence secretary, as head of the Department of Defence, responsible for India’s defence"
If this is true then why did the Army Chief General PN Thapar resign after the 1962 debacle? Did the then Defence Secretary take responsibility and step down?

Anonymous said...

How does a business newspaper get involved with movement of army generals. Are you sure you are on the right track. Should the army take your advice on whom to transfer to which place. If they have taken a decision, there must be some positive aspect to it. We trust our army they dont have to go by media or political compulsions.

Anonymous said...

1962... barah bajeh... repeat... remake... 2013... barah bajeh... with more action... more thrills... more spills... and more death...

Broadsword said...

@ Suraj Thapa

Do you think the Chinese are waiting for my blogposts to hear about the movement of these commanders? It is only the ill-informed Indian public that does not know all of this. Intelligence agencies worth their salt already know all of this.

Now you know too, Suraj.

Broadsword said...

@ Anonymous

How does a business newspaper get involved with the movement of army generals?

Because, unlike you, the business people who read Business Standard are putting their money where their mouths are and like to be well-informed.

Since you seem to believe in the concept of remaining uninformed, stay away from Business Standard... and also this blog.

Anonymous said...

Enemies at the gate but don't worry we still have time to play some politics.

No wonder Robert Clive and others like him made quick work of Indian resistance. Indians were too busy stabbing each other in the back and playing politics. In the end, they all wound up as slaves to new masters.

Hopefully, the Indian Army has learn't history's lessons or they are bound to repeat it.

Chinese-Indian Ajay said...

China is ONE FAMILY. 1 billion Chinese can stand in line and put one foot forward, all at the same time in perfect sync. You can see that precision even in their opening galas of the 2008 Olympics.

Indians do not want to think they are one family - though they drink from the same rivers and eat grain from the same fields. You can see that in the opening ceremony of IPL or Commonwealth Games. Their moves are so disparate and disconnected, my eyes feel sore watching these awful Indian opening ceremonies.

This is a fundamental Indian weakness that every enemy will exploit. This is the weakness that the British could see and hence they organized all the different regiments based on their ethnicity etc. etc.

Well, after being a democracy for nearly 7 decades and having lived on this sub-continent for atleast three thousand years, Indians should tide over their differences, intermarry and not grudge that some poor fellow Indians (who have been oppressed for more than two millennia) when they receive some state benefits today.

As long as this disunity continues to harden in the minds and hearts of some Indians, those very ones would be the first ones that the enemy would bait to topple this country.

zubin said...

Dear sir, the two people above do have a point, not thay you don't, however the movment of generals is and must remain the perorgative of the people on grnd. The def sec may be eesponsible for the security of the county but most only intervene if there is a blatant need to do so. All generals are capable and hav had varied exosure to the sit or Theatre during some tenure or the other. My opinion ...Let it be the Generals call.

Anonymous said...

Anon... @25 April 2013 10:53...
We trust... our armed forces... not the generals... marshals... deepaks... tejinders... tyagis... et al...

Anonymous said...

sir,

typo - 30 jun, not 31st
your headline..

Anonymous said...

The demon of prorata rises once again... the agenda being propagated by the Cavalry Cad...Make em all from the Cavalry!!
I luv the way u a mere fired case disgruntled lt col trashed the former COAS Roy Chahca on Tv... though u spoke more sense than him !!

Int64 said...

Every time there is a situation when External forces try to knock on India's door and Indian govt just sits and engage in unfruitful discussions/steps, reminds me of when Greek's were knocking India's door, Chanakya went door to door asking kings to unite and protect India. None cared or listened...

Anonymous said...

Seems like Nehru's infamous "Forward policy" is being successfully staged by the PLA! Now, can India reverse what China did in 1962? Seems to me, India is being played into a well-orchestrated game set for Chinese victory. Maybe China has already won this "war of wits", even before the actual start of ground action. Indians are clueless and left holding the stick. What a shame on Indian Armed forces, Intelligence agencies and MoD! All useless.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Shukla please leave the army alone,with all due respect to you i feel you are going overboard with your views.The Army is quiet capable to take right decisions as regards placements of its commanders please do not try to create false sense of alarm.Your views seems to be agenda driven and not in interest of the army.Please please leave the army alone.

Broadsword said...

@ Anonymous 20:25

You're quite right, this shuffling around of generals actually is about pro-rata, but not in the way that you think. Some day I'll tell you about it.

Meanwhile, a small correction: I'm not a "mere fired case disgruntled" lieutenant colonel.

I am a full colonel, who took premature retirement, leaving directly from command of my unit, the legendary Hodson's Horse.

Maybe I'd have been fired had I stayed on. Maybe I wouldn't. But I didn't wait to find out.

Broadsword said...

@ Zubin

I respect your views, but the fact is that with so many generals in court against the promotion and posting decisions of their own army, you don't have a very strong case when you say, "leave it to the army".

The army's own top officers prefer to have the babus and the courts adjudicate!

RaviKV said...

Dear Ajai,

I wont pretend to be a military strategy expert, but I cant understand why its always the Chinese army that intrudes into what we perceive as Indian territory and after much drama and assurances from our govt and army that it is normal and occurs regularly from both sides, we never hear anything from either our media nor from the Chinese media about Indian army's intrusions into perceived Chinese territory.

Wouldnt you agree that if IA occasionally set up camps in AksaiChin, PLA would think twice about repeating this?

What is the point of having nuclear weapons and 8000 kms delivery methods if they are not successful deterrents?? We would never have balls to use them, not even dangle the threat?

We have 1.3 million strong army, why cant we create a U or a V shaped formation and straddle the Chinese incursion and camp and force them back?

Lack of political will/courage? Dont attack them, but instead of camping 300 mts away, camp 30 mts away, set up two more camps on the sides in a V-shape with the only way, back.

Reports indicate the Chinese camp has well connected roads and so good transport facilities. How did they lay a road 10 kms into perceived Indian territory? Have Jaguars do low level passes over their camp. It is 10 kms inside Indian territory right? not close to the LAC or the border!

Y no aggressive push back but meek flag meetings and begging for them to go back?

It pains me to be a citizen of this country and always be a push over. With all the taxes we pay and the hoola we do every time we have a successful missile launch, we cant even push back a platoon of lightly armed chinese infantry!!

Broadsword said...

@ Anonymous 20:27

Thanks for pointing out the typo in the date. I"ve corrected it.

Anonymous said...

Mud Corps lobbist pulling chaep shots.... and playing general from outside

vedam said...

India will continue to suffer from Pavlovian reflexes and Krishna Menon syndrome. When fear gnaws your guts you do something that the enemy wants you to do. Since 1947 India has only gone downhill.

Debasis Dash said...

Thanks Colonel sir ,for Enlightening Us through your Well analysed & Informed Content.In Our Country where every Info Is Hidden Form Public,& they are Left Lurching in ther Dark and Running After Much Fad Ridden IPL & cheerleaders.Few People Like you give us Info & have kept up Our interest in Strategic studies.Our Youth are More concerned about MS DHONI and his 11 Chaps.

I Hope U Keep on Writing For us.

Jai Hind !!!

Dannyboy said...

Well done Ajai,
A very valid point that you have raised - 3 commands in new hands when the Chinese are flexing their muscles.
All that was required was GOC 16 Corps be moved as Army Commander in Udhampur.
So why are the other two Army commanders being moved?There is obviously more than what meet the eye.
Western Command: You are right- at the top maybe there is a feeling that Gen Chachra being infantry, is better suited to the Valley. In addition his amiable demeanor is being seen as a possible advantage in handling the politicans/babus/media wrt Kashmir.Now he also has about a year to go which mean come mid 2014 Northern Command will see another Commander!
Central Command: Lt Gen Chait has about a year to retire -why shift him unless the COAS feels in some way he is not the man to run Central Command.Lt Gen Campose could easily have been posted instead, also on promotion to Army Commander grade, as CISC.

Could it be that there are other factors which has made the COAS personally reccomend these changes to the Govt?It would be interesting to know.

shyGirl said...

Thank you Colonel for informing public what our army is doing to contain the chinese as we all know what they did.

Anonymous said...

with all the respect and regard for you i do not understand why make an issue out an non issue.The army and our armed forces are capable of deciding what is right afterall they are the one dealing with the situation on day to day basis and know what is best for them.Your views only try to convey that and project the army in poor light which is not true.As a soldier yourself you should not sound like a alarmist and be paranoid.Try not to play a devils advocate.

Unknown said...

Nice article, Ajai..

Take a look at the picture again:

I am intrigued by the soldier holding a weapon in the background. He is obviously Indian, is wearing Indian army camouflage uniform, however the weapon he is holding looks like a M4. I didnt know we used M4/ M16s.

Am I mistaken in my analysis? Was this taken during some Indo-American exercise..

Anonymous said...

@ Unknown

Sir,

That is an SF soldier from Chief's personal security detail and hence the spl wpn!

Brig (Retd) Ajit Nair said...

Dear Ajai,

I presume your info is authentic. But what is commonly known is that of the three vacancies being created, two (Surendra and Marwah) are on 31 May and one (Parnaik) on 30 Jun. Then the equation will change. The two promotees on 01 Jun (Campose and Madhok) will have to take the available vacancies of ARTRAC and CIDS. No other changes make sense (unless Chachra goes to ARTRAC for a month !!) When Parnaik retires, only Bakshi is available, so perforce he goes to Northern Comd. It’s always preferable to have an Infantry offr in Northern Comd and an Armoured/Mech offr in Western. But I don't see how to work the permutations/combinations to permit this. The one month gap creates problems. I don't think an Army Cdr can be made to wait a month.
Central Comd is hardly an operational Comd !!!

Regards Brig (Retd) Ajit Nair

John Sadanandan said...

Ajai has been critical in his musings about the army and matters which pertain to it. The current article is particularly irrelevant with the moves articulated in it. The three general officers mentioned in the article are all armoured corps/mechanised officers. Is it a mere coincidence?
The present political and socio economic churning has lead to the masses becoming increasing cynical and eager to latch on to anything and everything that is critical of the establishment. Since politician bashing is no more likely to catch imagination as it would have a couple of years ago, the most lucrative option is to raise questions on an organisation with high credibility. Through this article, Ajai has catered for the core business requirement of the Business Standard circulation! And what better time to raise an issue when the entire nation is concerned about the situation on the LAC. The author has cleverly commenced his argument with a reference to the situation.
Another fact whcih comes to the fore while analysing the content and timing of this article is that such articles often appear just prior to sensitive appointments in the higher echelons of the armed forces; and at times may be agenda driven. The pertinent issue is that postings of senior officers are classified matter, then how was Ajai Shukla privy to postings of the concerned general officers (if at-all he was). It will be interesting if the author is enquired/questioned about the basis of his presumptions or the source of his information. At least, it may lead to 'concerns' over the writer's transfer to incognito publications amid stand off with his parent organisation.
Merely raising doubts and frivolous concerns without supporting facts, figures and source of information, may benefit business temporarily, but such musings can damage the hard-earned credibility of a reputed organisation like the army in the long run. Such writings can affect the very fibre of confidence which exists between a commander and the commanded. As a sincere advise, Ajai Shukla should refrain from broad brushing on such sensitive issues and stop raising alarms for notional wolves! It would be better if he reveals the people who leak out such information rather than trying to tread to unchartered territories for which his insight, understanding and knowledge may at best be insufficient.

John Sadanandan said...

The name of Mr Ajai Shukla’s blog ‘Broadsword’ belies his affiliations to the Armd Corps. It is pertinent to mention that the article which ostensibly highlights National security issues focuses on personalities. While there is undoubtedly a reshuffle in the Army hierarchy, it must be understood that the officers in question are Army Commanders who have adequate seniority and professional acumen to fulfill their mandates.
As a keen follower of National security issues, I can’t but re-iterate that our focus must steadfastly remain on bolstering our capabilities to meet the challenges of new age war fighting. The recent Chinese aggression of a platoon on ground but the complete Chinese Army on our national psycho is but a grim reminder for the nation which has comfortably learnt nothing from the debacle of 1962.
We need to build our services through a coherent, holistic, long term and processed approach towards modernization and strategic infrastructure development. There is an urgent need to revamp our policies, review them and rustructure our systems in the Government to purposefully strengthen our Army, Navy and the Air Force.
Let as think ‘BIG’ for a change and not indulge in gossips of the dealings in the higher echelons of the defence services. It does provide interesting leisurely reading but doesn’t address our core defense/strategic issues.

John Sadanandan said...

The name of Mr Ajai Shukla’s blog ‘Broadsword’ belies his affiliations to the Armd Corps. It is pertinent to mention that the article which ostensibly highlights National security issues focuses on personalities. While there is undoubtedly a reshuffle in the Army hierarchy, it must be understood that the officers in question are Army Commanders who have adequate seniority and professional acumen to fulfill their mandates.
As a keen follower of National security issues, I can’t but re-iterate that our focus must steadfastly remain on bolstering our capabilities to meet the challenges of new age war fighting. The recent Chinese aggression of a platoon on ground but the complete Chinese Army on our national psycho is but a grim reminder for the nation which has comfortably learnt nothing from the debacle of 1962.
We need to build our services through a coherent, holistic, long term and processed approach towards modernization and strategic infrastructure development. There is an urgent need to revamp our policies, review them and rustructure our systems in the Government to purposefully strengthen our Army, Navy and the Air Force.
Let as think ‘BIG’ for a change and not indulge in gossip of the dealings in the higher echelons of the defence services. It does provide interesting leisurely reading but doesn’t address our core defense/strategic issues.

Amit Shah said...

The recent article by Mr Ajai Shukla on transfers and postings of top generals of the Army is probably based on unfounded concerns and certainly is ill timed. The Army, as an organisation, has been always been responsible and accountable to this nation on matters of national security and continues to remain so. The recent spate of transfers is routine affair and based on the premise of the ‘right man for the right job’ within the existing regulations.

The concerns, which almost sounds as of an ‘conspiracy theory’, at this juncture of time when the Army is on its way to mend its strained relation with MoD after a simulator past does not in any way help the process of synergy between the MoD and Army Brass tacks. The linkage of the transfers to the ongoing Sino-Indian border force off would surely send wrong signals to the nation and the MoD.
The three services including the Army has time tested man management system in place which deals with the postings of its officer cadre. The appointments of Army Commanders are taken into consideration after a lot of deliberations at the Army and the MoD level. Questioning such decision, which is an internal matter of the Army undermines the system being followed and is not desirable.
We as a nation and civil society in particular should focus on larger issues that plague the nation rather than focusing our energy on fundeining of a time tested and mature organisations like the Army.
The society & polity should support the defence services and take steps to prepare them for the future. Let us leave the postings and transfers to the services and the MoD and instead back them for modernization and strengthen with our economic might and foreign policy.

Anonymous said...

I don't under stand why experts cannot be left to do their job? If the COAS is not fit to make the decision how the Army should be run why have you made him Chief?
Does the army say (I wish they had) who should be PM or Min of Defence or Min of Home etc!!! When they don't interfere why do these idiots who do not know a,b,c of defence forces interfere and spoil the same.
Dear Chief if you have any b**ls stick to your guns.

sameer bhardwaj said...

why CIDS is never considered 4 the postof COAS even though CIDS Is an army commander himself ???

sameer bhardwaj said...

Ajai sir a query bugging in my head since long when lt gen sk singh retires lt gen sanjiv chachra would be the then senior most army commander and as per trends the senior most army commander takes the chair of VCOAS that clearly means that within a year Northern Command will have a new army command is that not risky for command for their commanders changing in period of months ??????

Anonymous said...

Sir,
I have read most of your articles related to the great Army of ours and they all looks like glorified "langar gapp".Pl pardon me if i sound to harsh but pl improve.