Friday, February 23, 2018
1. The judgment of larger bench of AFT Delhi comprising of two judicial members and one administrative member in OA No 1439 of 2017 Ex-Sgt Girish Kumar Vs Union of India and batch of petitions delivered on 01 Dec 2017 is a land mark judgment on broad banding arrears to be paid from date of retirement or Jan 1996 whichever is later. They quoted a number of judgments of Hon’ble Supreme Court in support of their verdict. It is a 59 page judgment which most of us do not understand. I tried to make some sense out of this long judgment and inform how this judgment affects Ex-Servicemen in the future. This judgment also gives what is the law of the land as laid down by Hon’ble Supreme Court on many issues agitating the Ex-Servicemen community.
2. Arrears of Any Type. Though the judgment primarily concentrated on arrears of broad banding for disabled soldiers the logic applies to any type of arrears concerning the pay or MSP or grade pay etc.
History of Broad Banding
3. Broad Banding Recommended by 5th CPC(1996–2005). 5th CPC in order to eliminate medical subjectivity recommended benefit of broad banding be given as under to the disabled soldiers whose disability is 20% or more and attribute or aggravated by military service :-
(a) 20 but less than 50% - 50%
(b) 50 to 75% - 75%
© Above 76% - 100%..
4. Broad Banding only to post – 1996 Invalid Soldiers. The low level bureaucrats in Min of Def got the Govt order issued giving the benefit only to Post – 1996 invalid soldiers. Though soldiers get disabled either in peace time or in war due to military service, only Post – 1996 invalid soldiers were to be given benefit of broad banding vide Govt of India, Ministry of Def Office Memorandum No 1(2)/1977/I/D(Pen-C) dated 31 Jan 2001. This denied broad banding benefit to
(a) Pre – 1996 Invalid soldiers
(b) Superannuated Soldiers
(c) Disabled soldiers who sought premature retirement and
(d) soldiers whose disability was not attributed or aggravated by military service (later this was dismissed by Hon’ble Supreme court in 2013 which stated any disability suffered by soldiers who were found medically fit at the time of commission or recruitment but later suffered disability while in service are to be treated as Attributable or Aggravated by Military Service).
5. Broad Banding to be Given from Jan 1996. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in their judgment in the case of KJS Buttar Vs Union of India (2011) 11 SCC 429 ruled that benefit of broad banding to be given to war injured soldiers from Jan 1996. The Hon’ble High Court of Punjab & Haryana in Amarjit Singh Vs Union of India in CWP No 20936 of 2012 decided on 26 May 2014 also ruled that arrears are to be paid from Jan 1996. Finally the three judge bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court in another case Davinder Singh Vs Union of India (CA No: 9946 of 2016 decided on 20 Sep 2016) held that arrears of broad banding are to be given from Jan 1996 or date of retirement whichever is later.
6. Broad Banding Benefit to be Given to Super Annuated Disabled Soldiers. The AFT Chandigarh in Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi Vs Union of India in OA 329 of 2009 (decided on 04 Aug 2010) clubbing with other petitions including Ram Avtar Vs Union of India & others in CA No: 418 of 2012 ruled that broad banding benefit should be given to superannuated disabled soldiers and those soldiers who completed their terms of engagement. This judgment was In Rem meaning it is applicable to all those disabled soldiers who did not file the case in AFT (i.e. universal) as opposed to In personam ( only to those petitioners in the legal case). Aggrieved by the judgment of AFT Chandigarh, the Ministry of Defence filed a case in Hon’ble Supreme Court with CA No: 418 of 2012 titled Union of India Vs Ram Avtar. Hon’ble Supreme Court was pleased to dismiss the appeal of Govt of India on 10 Dec 2014 thereby all the disabled soldiers who were superannuated or completed their terms of engagement were given benefit of broad banding. As expected the Govt of India does not implement the judgment of courts of law in letter and spirit. Ministry of Defence issued a letter dated 19 Jan 2010 granting broad banding benefit to disabled superannuated or those who completed their terms of engagement w.e..f. 01 Jul 2009 and NOT from Jan 1996.
7. Broad Banding Benfit to Those Who are Retired or Invalided Prior to Jan 1996. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in their judgment in case of KJS Buttar Vs Union of India (2011) 11 SCC 429 held that all those disabled soldiers who are retired or invalided prior to Jan 1996 are also to be given broad banding benefit. The Ministry of Defence in the year 2012 after losing the case in Hon’ble Supreme Court issued a letter stating that arrears of broad banding are to be paid from Jan 1996 from when the broad banding became effective rather than 01 Jul 2009. The court observed that there was no restriction of cutoff date of 1996 in case of disabled civilians whereas Ministry of Defence imposed it on disabled soldiers. Based on the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court, the Govt of India, Ministry of Defence issued a policy letter dated 15 Sep 2014 granting arrears of broad banding from 01 Jan 1996 for all except those released on completion of terms of engagement or superannuated quoting restriction imposed vide the ministry letter dated 31 Jan 2001 which was quashed by the Courts of Law. (It is very clear that low level bureaucrats generally do not amend their earlier letters which have been quashed or part of letter is quashed by Hon’ble Supreme Court thereby giving effect to the judgment and are happy to deny benefit granted by Courts of Law to soldiers. It is done deliberately on the assumption that soldiers will never come to know of the judgments of courts of law. By the time a contempt petition is filed, the Govt servants would have retired and no damage would be done to such retired civilian Govt employees).
8. The Larger bench of AFT Delhi says“The prohibitory stipulation of granting benefit of broad banding to Post – 1996 Invalid soldiers in letter dated 31 Jan 2001 has already been struck down in Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi & Ram Avatar cases and became non est. Govt of India, Ministry of Defence vide their letter dated 15 Sep 2014 partially implemented the judgment by giving benefit of broad banding to Pre – 1996 invalid soldiers only. It denied the benefit to superannuated soldiers though Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that even superannuated soldiers are also to be given benefit of broad banding. This is how Govt of India treats the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court because they know faujis do NOT file any contempt case in the Apex Court due to lack of awareness of judicial matters.
Period of Arrears
9. A number of Regional AFTs gave judgment of granting benefit of broad banding from date of retirement or 01 Jan 1996 whichever is later but some of the other AFTs gave arrears only for a period of three years from date of filing the case in AFTs. The matter came before three judge bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No: 9946 of 2016 from a matter decided by AFT Chandigarh in Davinder Singh Vs Union of India (OA No: 1289/11) in which the AFT gave arrears only for three years. The Hon’ble Supreme Court going by their earlier judgment in case of Jai Singh Vs Union of India in TA No 1077 of 2011 ruled that all pre – 1996 retirees were also entitled to broad banding benefit from 01 Jan 1996 with interest of 8% per annum.
Delay in Filing Cases of Pension & Effect of Arrears
10. The larger bench of AFT Delhi at paras 28 & 29 in page 22 & 23 says :
“ Para 22. So in our considered view, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has removed the anomaly with regard to disability element of disability pension, from date of its inception and not from any future artificial date, therefore, the benefits must flow to all affected parties without having to litigate for it. This aspect can be seen, yet from another angle. Where the right was already existing by way of rule or policy and the amount is illegally held back from an individual or where there is a vested right arising out of an in rem decision by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the respondents do not give effect to the judgment, thereby forcing the affected parties to litigate, the entitlement of the entire arrears starts from the same date.
Para 29. The issue revolves around pension and pension is the property of the pensioner and respondents (Govt of India, Ministry of Defence) cannot be allowed to usurp his right or property. Pension has been recognized as property under Article 300-A of the Constitution by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case State of Jharkhand Vs Jitendra Kumar Srivastava and another (2013) 12 SCC 210.
Para 30. We may mention that on the issues discussed herein above the Hon’ble Supreme Court after observing favourably has made it amply clear that respondents themselves are expected to base their actions and policies in terms of the decisions. Therefore in our view, no delay or laches or restriction of arrears can be argued in such cases. In other words, the affected persons cannot be made to suffer due to the respondents’ own fault in not following the law laid down and no restriction on arrears can be effectuated. In short, the respondents cannot take the benefit of their own wrong. Ideally, the respondents themselves are supposed to grant the benefits to all affected parties without forcing them to approach the Courts. Arrears in such cases must flow in the same terms as laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court without any additional factors or restrictions, irrespective of the fact whether the person approaches the Court or not.”
Pre – 2006 Hony Nb Subs to get Pension of Nb Sub
11. AFT Chandigarh in OA No : 42 of 2010 in Virender Singh Vs UOI & others decided on 08 Feb 2010 (subsequently allowed by Hon’ble Supreme Court) in which the following directions were issued:-
“In case these benefits were to be extended to Havildars granted honorary rank of Nb Sub on or after 01 Jan 2006, it would introduce serious disparities within the same class and category of individuals i.e. Honorary Nb Subs of Pre and Post 01 Jan 2006. This would be arbitrary and discriminatory.
In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the application is allowed. Respondents 1 to 6 are directed to implement the Government instructions and release the entitled pension with arrears from 01 Jan 2006 to Honorary Nb Subs of the receipt of the order”.
In Rem Vs In Personam
12. As explained earlier paras, In Rem judgment means the universal applicability to all similarly placed pensioners i.e. even those who did not come before Courts of Law are to be given benefit like it was given to petitioners who went to the Courts of Law seeking justice. In Personam on the other hand means the judgment is applicable only to the petitioners who filed the case seeking justice. All similarly affected persons will not get benefit of judgment if the judgment is In Personam. But it is seen though the Hon’bleSuprem Court in Ram Avtar Vs Union of India gaven a In Rem judgment, the Govt of India implemented the benefit of arrears of broad banding only to 800 petitioners and denied the same to thousands of other disabled soldiers who are supre annuated. Since contempt of court has to be filed, but due to lack of knowledge the case was not filed and Govt of India got away paying arrears only to those 800 petitioners. The larger bench defined which judgment is In Rem at para 45 as under:-
“ Suffice to state that where an issue of policy is raised before a judicial forum, upon verdict being rendered, the same has to be treated In Rem and not In Personam. Law draws distinction between claims which are based on facts personal to the claimants vis – a – vis claims which relate to the interpretation of the law, whereas the former would be In Personam and later is In Rem. The issue for our discussion is based on the a policy issued by the Ministry of Defence, Govt of India, which has been adjudicated upto Hon’ble Supreme Court and the verdict has since been rendered, consequently, it has to be treated as In Rem and not In Personam.“
13. If you see most of the judgments of various AFTs and Hon’ble Supreme Court are In Rem but the Govt of India does not implement the judgment universally benefitting lakhs of similarly placed pensioners. They get away because AFTs do NOT have contempt of court powers. Very few approach Hon’ble Supreme Court filing a contempt case against Union of India for not implementing the judgment of Apex court to similarly placed pensioners.
Disability Pension to Pre Mature Disabled Soldiers
14. Prematurely retired disabled soldiers are not given disability element till 29 Sep 2009. Consequent to the judgment of Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Mahavir Singh Vs Union of India, the PMR disabled soldiers were also entitled to disability element only to personnel below Officer Rank. But the Govt of India went on appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court against the judgment of Hon’ble Delhi High Court in SLP 4171 of 2004 which was dismissed by the Apex Court on 04 Jan 2005. The Govt of India again treated it as In Personam and granted the benefit only to those petitioners in the SLP. A contempt of Court petition was filed in Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Ex Nk Singheswar Singh Vs Union of India in WP © no 9186 of 2009 dated 28 Aug 2009. On 29 Sep 2009, The Govt of India, Ministry of Defence officially issued a policy letter for grant of disability element to PMR cases but restricted the same only to Post – 2006 retirees. AFT Delhi in JK Kaushik Vs Union of India in TA No: 523 of 2010 decided on 12 Aug 2010 held that disability element needed to be extended to Pre – 2006 retirees with effect from 01 Jan 2006. But finally the Govt of India issued instructions for disability element to PMR cases on 19 May 2017 with financial benefits from 01 Jan 2006.
Circumstances When Arrears can be Restricted to Three Years from Date of Filing Appeal in AFTs
15. The larger bench of AFT Delhi at para 53 explained that an individual who has been separated from Service, if he has no vested right of pension on disability element and the right accrues only by way of judgment depending upon the facts of a particular case vide a decision rendered In Personam and there is delay in approaching the Tribunal then only he is entitled for arrears for three years from date of filing the case in AFT. An example would be a case, where a Medical Board holds disability neither Attributable Nor Aggravated (NA – NA) by military service and a Court based on the judicial interpretation after perusing the entire medical board proceedings comes to the conclusion that the disability should have been regarded as Attributable or Aggravated by Military Service, certainly in that situation there was no existing vested right available to him and the right accrued only when the Tribunal decided the main issue of attributability and aggravation by Service. In such cases, where there undue delay in approaching Tribunals, the arrears can definitely be restricted to three years for a very simple reason that the rights are decided on the case to case basis In Personam turning on individual facts of each individual case and in that eventuality, the judgments having effect In Rem would not be applicable to that individual.
16. Though we are not law qualified pensioners, it is the responsibility of Officers to go through such judgments and guide JCOs /OR of their legitimate entitlements. T SEWA has been using the judgments and filed a number of cases in AFT Delhi and hope to win most of them if not all as our cases are based on previous judicial pronouncements.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Wake Up “Blindmen of Hindustan” – political leaders, bureaucrats, technocrats and Admirals.
Time to understand the nuances of the IN - Holy Cow! Never late to promote an informed debate.
The IN demand for third aircraft carrier (cost estimated for full complement - over Rs.1,50,000 crores likely to be spread over 5-8 years times span between laying the ‘Keel’ and commissioning) as strategic means to deter and dominate the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), besides power projection and influence over the Asia Pacific Region needs in depth review. Inevitable will be cost escalation due to time over run and advanced technologies thereof.
“Hawks” believe India to be a regional power, aspiring to global power status - strategically a blinkered or warped view. Time-frames for such enhanced power are indeterminate. Even in the present strategic environ-ment context, India cannot lay claims to be a South Asian power which exercises hegemony or dominance on its peripheral nations. Strategic deadlock or stalemate persists.
An in-depth cost-effective study is, therefore, an imperative. Geopolitics, National Maritime Security interests and Roles assigned to IN by Government of India, Defence Strategy enunciated by Ministry of Defence, “New Operational Environment”, and IN’s Maritime/Naval strategy – ways, means and ends at the least or optimum costs to execute the assigned roles must be evaluated in detail. “Sea based v/s Air based v/s Land based” systems, concepts and their operational effectiveness and costs must determine “multi domain” choices instead of archaic “uni-domain centric” numbers/size obsession.
Fact - unique India’s and Andaman-Nicobar Island Territories geostrategic significance – like a “Dagger” jutting into the IOR and “Shield” straddling Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs) through Straits of Malacca. No other nation enjoys such a unique geo strategic advantage for dominating the international shipping lanes passing through IOR by a variety of means like the Navy and Air Force...
Undeniably, such a geo-strategic significance provides alternate options to deter and dominate the IOR in short and mid-term contexts and project influence over the Asia Pacific Region in a long term context based on enhanced ‘power’ status – economy, technology and soft power.
Integrated “Multi-Domain Air-Sea-Land” integrated strategic approach is a compelling imperative in the face of China’s PLA Navy (PLAN) incremental build up, particularly projected high-end technology spectrum of air and missile threat capabilities and UAVs over High Seas. No illusions!
Let me recall roles of IN includes: Sea control; Security of Sea-Lines of Communication (SLOC); Maintaining Influence in IOR; Safeguarding Vital Interests Overseas; Security of Island Territories; Non-military Missions; and politico-diplomatic forays.
Let me also briefly outline the IN threat concerns in the IOR and Asia Pacific region. Pakistan Navy’s capability is quite insignificant. Pak Navy’s naval combat systems include: Attack Submarines – 3xAgosta 90B and 2xAgosta 70; 10 Frigates; 11 fast attack missiles patrol craft; 3 Mine Hunters; and other Auxiliary fleet ships. Recently, Pakistan has test-fired Harba anti-ship cruise missile, which appears to be a variant of the Babur-series LACM, which is deployable from land and has a stated range of 700 km. In January 2017, Pakistan also tested the 450-km range Babur 3 SLCM.
In contrast, the IN’s current fleet is 137 vessels all types; by 2027, likely to have 198 warships. Ships and submarines under construction include: one aircraft career; ASU submarines - six conventional Scorpene, six nuclear powered and two midget for special operations; four stealth guided destroyers; stealth frigates - seven under Project-17A and 10 Talwar class; corvettes (ASW) – 4+8 Kamorta class, 16 Shallow water and six Next Gen; 12 mine countermeasure vessels (MCMV); and others.
Thus, understanding Chinese PLAN developments, based on its multi-front, multi-domain force levels, strategic threat concerns and vision, is, therefore, critical. PLAN current force level is around 492 warships (excludes auxiliaries) deployed in three fleets include: 1 aircraft carrier; 68 submarines; 94 submarine chasers; 29 destroyers; 50 frigates; 37 corvettes; 109 missile boats; 17 gunboats; 29 mine countermeasure vessels; 4 amphibious transport docks; 32 landing ship tanks; 31 landing ship medium; 12 replenishment ships; and 232 auxiliaries.
In the “Sea” domains, both surface and sub surface, China faces US Navy force projection. Its vision is to deter and limit US Navy Supercarriers operations beyond “Second Island Chain”. So, it is accelerating its efforts to acquire sophisticated anti-ship missiles, aircraft carriers and submarines. DF-21D, known as “carrier killer” with a range of 1000 to 1200 kms is to strike at hostile carrier based fleets inside the “First Island Chain”. The improved DF-26 (3000-4000 km), known as “medium-size ship killer” is to reach the “Second Island Chain” in the western Pacific Ocean, all the way to the US base on Guam.
As per the present plan, PLAN is to field two new aircraft carriers with the present one being used as a training platform. As per naval experts, China would need at least 6+1 aircraft carriers to gain naval ascendency in the Pacific with the Liaoning retained as a training carrier. China will also begin construction on a new Type 081-class landing helicopter assault ship within the next five years.
Most important, PLANs modernization effort in the submarine fleet is awesome - world’s biggest attack-sub fleets, with five JIN-class nuclear models (JL-2 nuclear capable missile range more than 8000 Kms) and at least 50 diesel models. China has expanded its force of nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN). Two SHANG-class SSNs (Type 093) are already in service, and China is building four improved variants of the SHANG-class SSN. In the next decade, China will likely construct the Type 095 guided-missile attack submarine (SSGN). In contrast, the USA has 14 boomers and 55 nuclear attack subs.
The PLAN’s other combat warships include: guided missile destroyers (6 + 12 x DDGs); guided missile frigates (12 + 6+? x FFGs), with the versatility for both offshore and long-distance operations; JIANGDAO-class FFL (20 -30 ships); and 60 HOUBEI-class wave-piercing catamaran missile patrol boats (PTG) (Type 022), each capable of carrying eight YJ-83 ASCMs, for operations in littoral waters. The new DDGs and FFGs provide a significant upgrade to the PLA Navy’s area air defence capability, which will be critical as it expands operations into “distant seas” beyond the range of shore-based air defence. The PLAN is increasing its amphibious force.
More importantly, China has developed long-range aircraft equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), submarines and surface ships capable of launching these long range missiles that could target US aircraft carriers while evading the US Navy's Aegis Defence System. Today, any carrier operating within 1,000 miles of the Chinese coast knows that it can be targeted at any moment.
To counter emerging “anti-access/area denial” (A2AD) technologies that include ballistic and cruise missiles that can reach ships over a thousand miles from shore, the U.S. Navy has invested billions of dollars in anti-A2AD capabilities — such as electronic-spectrum jamming, directed-energy weapons, electromagnetic rail guns, and ballistic-missile defences — in a vain attempt to defend the carrier.
Thus, the compelling need for informed debated of acquisition aircraft careers Vis a Vis other means and options available to execute assigned roles. Only INS Vikramaditya, 45,400 tones, modified Kiev class (STOBAR carrier), was formally commissioned in 2013. Earlier aircraft careers - INS Vikrant and Viraat - were retired from service.
Today, the construction of a 40,000-tonne carrier, the second one, in Cochin Shipyard powered by four gas-turbine engines with a range of 15,000kms, carrying 160 officers, 1,400 sailors, and 40 aircraft, is progressing. The ship was launched in August 2013 and likely to be commissioned in 2018. The 3rd Vikrant-class carrier INS Vishal, nuclear-powered with CATOBAR system for heavier aircraft and unmanned combat aircraft, with a displacement of over 65,000 tons is planned.
“Hawks” justify aircraft carriers since they represent an awesome symbol of national power. Its overseas missions and port-calls, when used with prudence and in a non-threatening pose, can yield intangible, but substantial, dividends to the country.
Next, the current total submarine fleet of 16 includes: two nuclear-powered submarines, including an Akula II-class boat leased from Russia. In 2016 India commissioned it’s first indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine, INS Arihant. However, Arihant spent ten months out of action due to a hatch being improperly sealed; but damage fixed. The estimated cost to build six nuclear submarines is less than Rs 35,000 crores. These submarines would be based on the design of INS Arihant.
Also, the indigenization of the $11 billion Project 75 (I) to build six advanced stealth submarines marks a new chapter in our submarine capability. Induction of Kalvari, the first of six Scorpene-class, suffered a five-year delay due to issues relating to technology transfer. Plans are to induct the rest by 2020 to help meet the target of building 24 submarines by 2030.
Understanding the classification of aircraft carriers is a key basic factor – four categories. One, by roles of four categories: fleet carriers (largest with fastest speeds), escort carriers, light aircraft carriers and helicopter carriers. Two, aircraft carriers classified by configuration - Catapult-assisted take-off barrier arrested-recovery (CATOBAR); Short take-off but arrested-recovery (STOBAR); Short take-off vertical-landing (STOVL); and; Helicopter carrier.
Three, classified by size of displacement like Supercarriers, displacing over 70,000 tones or greater, have become the pinnacle of carrier development. Mostly, they are powered by nuclear reactors. Finally, by power of propulsions: nuclear powered and conventional.
As of January 2018, there are 41 active aircraft carriers in the world operated by 13 countries. The US Navy has 11 active nuclear powered Supercarriers carrying 80 fighter jets (from around 50 in post World War II era). In addition, the US Navy has nine amphibious assault ships used primarily for helicopters, although these also carry up to 20 vertical or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) fighter jets and similar in size to medium-sized fleet carriers. Future Supercarriers are under construction or in design phase of development by China, India, Russia, and the US.
Russia, China, France and India have one medium-sized conventional carrier each with capacity from 30 to 50 fighter jets. Others nations include: two light fleet carriers operated by Italy and one by Spain (1); and Helicopter carriers are operated by Australia (2), Egypt (2), France (3), Japan (4), South Korea (1), Thailand (1) and the UK(1).
Today and even in mid-term context, neither Russia nor China can lay pretensions of challenging USAs supremacy in aircraft carriers and their global roles.
Writing in the National Review in 2015, retired US Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix made the case that aircraft carriers are simply not suited to the future of naval warfare. Carriers, although larger and more technically impressive than ever, are systems designed in a different historical age to deal with a very different historical context: a time when states fought major naval engagements while operating at a comparable technological and operational level.
Most important, since World War II, aircraft carriers have been operating in low-threat, permissive environments almost continuously. At no time since 1946 has a carrier had to fend off attacks by enemy aircraft, surface ships, or submarines.
Also, the efficacy of the carrier lies not in the ship but in the capabilities of its planes. Today, combat range of most of those planes is only 500 miles. This means that, even steaming at 30 knots, the carrier would spend 15 hours under an A2AD threat in order to carry its planes close enough to hit land targets. Also, they do not have sufficient in-flight refuelling capacity.
As per US experts, the probability of operational effectiveness in the “New Operational Environment’ is low. But while sinking an aircraft carrier is difficult, it’s not impossible. The U.S. defence community has debated whether or not aircraft carriers are a bit pointless since the late 1940s. Technological developments have placed the carrier’s survivability into question.
Precision-guided missiles (unmanned Kamikazes, in a sense) and high performance “true” submarines threatened to make carriers impossible to defend, especially in combination with nuclear weapons.
Also, costs of Super carriers are extraordinarily expensive. "At $14 billion apiece, one of them can cost the equivalent of nearly an entire year's shipbuilding budget," Hendrix notes. A Nimitz-class Supercarrier carries around 5,000 people on board with functional internal economy. Furthermore, U.S. carrier strike group costs $25 million per week for routine operations, rising to $40 million during combat operations. Thus, its life-cycle cost will be phenomenal. Since they concentrate an enormous degree of firepower in one (potentially vulnerable) platform, they represent an unwarranted expense.
And, the loss of a single carrier could conceivably demoralize the nation. "For this reason, the modern carrier violates a core principle of war: Never introduce an element that you cannot afford to lose," Hendrix writes.
Further, losing a platform with nearly 5,000 souls on board would extraordinarily demoralizing to the nation. So Admirals would refrain from employing in a high-threat environment.
No aircraft carrier has ever been hit by a modern torpedo of any sort. Also, shooting anything at an aircraft carrier is a costly, difficult operation. And beyond the monetary cost, launching an open attack against a carrier strike group, with its own cruisers, destroyers, and submarines, is almost certainly a suicide mission. However, China has adopted a variety of different cruise missiles launched from different platforms to threaten US carrier groups with ALCMs, and ASBMs.
Given carriers' vulnerability in combat and to peacetime asymmetrical warfare attacks, the use of more and smaller carriers rather than large vessels has been suggested over the years. However, Supercarriers advocates consider them to be more cost-effective than a larger number of smaller carriers.
Thus, Navy’s fixation with the huge ships is always under criticism. Such critics suggest that smaller, cheaper vessels could perform many of the same tasks. But Navy’s Admirals practically revolt at such a proposition.
Less known are some of the INs historic facts. In 1965 War, INS Vikrant was in dry dock for maintenance. In 1971, it was deployed in the Bay of Bengal in low threat environment. In almost all Indian Navy exercises, the Blue Land Forces Commander deploys the aircraft career South of Goa and out of range of Pakistani air or ship launched cruise missiles. So, force projection is ruled out.
Even the employment of aircraft carrier on ‘fleet escort’ missions in the limited war scenario does not arise. For sea control mission, Indian Navy has other means available like “Sea Control destroyers and frigates” besides submarines of different types.
Just either for show of force or rescue missions in peace times, no need to opt for “White Elephants”. No nation can afford to waste lakhs of crores to hand out water, food, and blankets. Similarly, escort missions can be ruled out. Although 90% of nation’s trade by volume is done via sea (14th largest shipping industry with 515 vessels), yet bulk of it transported in foreign ships (around 258 vessels are only engaged in foreign trade).
In the light of the foregoing, IN must overcome its obsession with the Supercarriers as the centre-piece of naval warfare. IN must prepare for a shorter and less expensive war in its IOR backyard with strategy based on disruptive campaign of sea control and economic blockade. Additional guided-missile warships, submarines, sea mines and under water anti sub nets, must be acquired integrated with “Air based and Land based” combat systems to deter adversaries.
No point in the IN, year after year, crying hoarse over shortfalls in budget allocations. To address its budget crisis, it must pragmatically review the “Emerging Strategic and Operational Environment”, threat perspective and aircraft carrier now-marginal combat effectiveness preceded by extraordinarily unique geo- strategic advantage of mainland jutting like a “Dagger into the IOR” and Andaman Nicobar Islands like “Shield blocking the Malacca Straights” to identify and determine the most optimal inter se “Multi Domain” opportunities available to exploit thereby optimizing costs but enhancing operational effectiveness.
After all, India is on course to embrace technological innovations in air delivered and land based combat systems and to increase their effectiveness. Its implications are clear: India needs to stop building aircraft carriers; and opt for more potent naval war vessels to counter PLAN threat in the IOR.
Surely, the nation deserves an innovative solution to the strategic problems in IOR and Asia Pacific.
IN should opt for a fleet-mix to win the war it’s likely to fight instead of fantasizing. Resources recouped from ceasing construction of an Rs.1, 50,000 crores carrier could be redirected to the construction of additional air bases and shore based infrastructure, missile-laden destroyers, or nuclear powered submarines, or frigates, or high-speed vessels, or any combination thereof.
A revolutionary new fleet that is marked by lower costs and ruthless efficiency is the need of hour. The simple fact is that there is enough money to purchase surface and sub-surface ships in sufficient numbers to seize and maintain strategic initiative and imposing costs on adversaries. Advanced technologies such as directed energy, electromagnetic rail guns, and hypersonic propulsion systems must find place instead of defending a legacy platform.
This article worth its weight in gold. I have interacted conside-rably with Submariners in the privacy of their homes and they hold much the same views as the Author. As a student Officer I had interacted with Admiral Pereira in the question and answer session at the end of his lecture at the Defence Services Staff College. Admiral Pereira had been a great Carrier enthusiast. I had asked him that if sea control could be affected from the air and undersea, would there be a requirement for Aircraft Carriers?
Being an ex-fighter pilot, I have always believed in Giulio Douhet's (father of Air Strategy) dictum that the bomber will always get through. So what does the bomber (or cruise missile!) find after he gets through? A single point at which all the enemy's offensive power is concentrated. One hit and its all over at enormous cost to the enemy. In my opinion the Admiral did not provide convincing answers. Later on I was chided for not being polite enough to the Admiral by the Directing Staff. The Carrier won the day by pulling rank on me. I think rank is still on the side of the Carrier. Kudos to the author for saying that the Emperor has no clothes. Another thing, in today's world a Carrier has nowhere to hide. There is no surprise element of overwhelming power.
Tks for appreciating the contents of my paper. At least, I have one positive response to my paper.
Laughable it is to commit huge expenditure - life cycle costs.
The task of deterring Chinese aircraft carriers can be done better from land based air and surface combat weapons systems.
As on date, China has limited aircraft carrier capability with prime task orientation focussed towards Korea-Japan (East Seas) and South China Sea.
Even when it fields the 3rd carrier some years later, will China deploy it in the IOR region within the strike range of our "INTEGRATED" combat power that includes subs, warships, underwater mines and a horde of other combat systems.
Chinese Admirals would be fools to employ their "Carrier Fleet" in "Power Projection" role on Indian land mass. At best what they can do is excise sea control out of range of our systems and well beyond conventional international SLOCs.
In fact, I am a firm believer to send the "Right" message to China: U try any stunts on the land frontiers, we would play havoc in the IOR, particularly its major "Oil and Gas" pipeline through "Sitwee" port in Myanmar.
Be that as it may, China does not want to enter into any major wars as of now for it is against its "Xi Jinping's Dream" of regeneration of Middle Kingdom" status by around 2030 AD.
Our "Integrated Plans" should be based on such a scenario to cater to the "New Operational Environment" due to technology breakthroughs.
G B R
Thank you sir for your response. In my idle moments I have looked at the Indian Ocean Map and found that there are enough Islands within the Ocean to provide "unsinkable" Aircraft Carriers and within comfortable air range to cover the entire ocean. Since the Second World War, it has been air power that has dominated the oceans. Islands/land masses well defended by air were never attacked by carriers. On occasions I have discussed this matter with my MEA friends on the golf course. They threw up their hands in horror at this espousal of "gunboat" diplomacy.
The crying need of the hour is a Monroe Doctrine for the Indian Ocean. With no strategic vision in the eyes of the Politician, Babu, Policeman nexus in Raisina hill, it is but natural for the Chinese, who think far, far ahead to make inroads. We need to look at the Army's dictum of one foot firmly on the ground before we can think of moving ahead. The carriers may come when we think of expansion into the open Pacific.
Would the Navy like to comment? I know from past experience that this is a closed subject to them.
A real interesting, valuable and frank initial article by GB Reddy, with equally valuable comments by Rajesh Khosla, that demands a read by all Servicemen - including retd guys - to get a 'broader picture', as also by 'political leaders, bureaucrats, technocrats and Admirals,' as suggested by GbR, and even Generals and Air Marshals.
I found the article with the comments very interesting. In fact, it should be published in national newspapers and mags for 'general awareness'.
Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of meeting/knowing either of these gentlemen. Shall be happy to know more about them.
Colonel Ronnie Burjor Mistry
(SOURCE : VIA GP E-MAIL)