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DEFENCE-SECURITY

Fresh Wind In The Sails For The Indian Navy

India has managed to steer clear of a choppy geostrategic environment by concluding military logistics agreements.

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India has signed four military logistics support agreements with partner countries and is in the process of finalising the fifth with Russia. The issue came up for discussion during the recent visit of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to Russia from November 05-07, 2019.

When signed, the agreement with Russia, termed the Reciprocal Logistics Support Agreement (RLSA), will be an important milestone in bilateral relations.

As the name signifies, the Agreement will facilitate reciprocal usage of logistics facilities by the militaries of both nations during visits to each other’s ports, bases and military installations.


This Agreement is similar to the four other logistics agreements India has signed with partner countries, viz., Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the United States (US) in August 2016, Implementing Arrangement Concerning Mutual Coordination, Logistics and Services Support with Singapore in June 2018, Agreement for the Provision of Reciprocal Logistics Support between the Armed Forces with France in March 2018, and, most recently, Agreement to Extend Logistical Support to each other’s navies with the Republic of Korea (ROK) in September 2019. Similar agreements are in the pipeline to be signed with Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Logistics agreements are administrative arrangements which help to facilitate the replenishment of fuel, rations, spares (where required), and berthing and maintenance for the other nations’ warships, military aircraft and troops during routine port calls, joint exercises and training carried out in each other’s countries as well as during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).

These agreements simplify the bookkeeping during such events and ensure that the forces of the visiting countries are benefitted by using the host nation’s existing logistics network, which additionally reduces overall costs and saves on time.


These agreements feed into the Indian Navy’s requirement to maintain a round-the-clock and round-the-year presence in its primary areas of interest, the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and, going forward, the Indo-Pacific.

The Indian Navy has been maintaining a presence through its concept of mission-based deployments, wherein over a dozen major surface combatants are deployed across the length and breadth of the IOR.

These deployments have contributed, among other things, to significantly enhance India’s maritime domain awareness (MDA) picture, facilitate tracking of vessels of interest and also to be the first responder in case of a developing HADR scenario.

Prior to these agreements, the mission-deployed Indian warships were constrained to periodically replenish their fuel and logistics supplies from either an Indian naval fleet tanker deployed in the area or by entering the nearest Indian or foreign port.

With the signing of these agreements, Indian warships have been able to extend their ‘sea-legs’ on station by taking fuel from naval fleet tankers of partner countries deployed in the region or by entering their ports.


For instance, since the signing of LEMOA with the US in 2016, Indian warships deployed near the Gulf of Aden have been fuelling from the US Navy tankers in the region and similarly have the flexibility to fuel from the US naval tankers worldwide or enter ports under their control when required. The versatility and reach of this arrangement were highlighted recently when INS Kiltan, an Indian Navy anti-submarine warfare corvette, conducted replenishment-at-sea (RAS) with US Merchant Marine vessel USNS Richard E. Byrd, a Clark-class dry cargo and ammunition ship, in the South China Sea.

Also, having signed the logistics agreement with France in 2018, Indian warships and military aircraft can utilise the French base of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa or the French territory of Reunion Islands in the Indian Ocean for a quick ‘turn-around’ of its assets.

A logistics agreement with Russia would give the Indian Navy access to the Arctic seaports, which are likely to be ice-free for longer periods in the future due to global warming.

In addition to extending the range of Indian warships, such agreements provide for added operational flexibility of the Indian Navy’s long-range maritime patrol (LRMP) aircraft. The Indian Navy has in its inventory the extremely potent Boeing P8I acquired in 2013. The aircraft carries a variety of state-of-the-art weapons and sensors that are capable of engaging both surface and subsurface targets. With an operational range of 1200 nm (with four hours on the station) and speed of 789 kmph, the aircraft forms India’s maritime ‘first line of defence’.

The logistics agreements with partner countries thus facilitate the landing and refuelling of these aircraft at reciprocal bases, as agreed, thereby extending their operational envelope by a substantial degree.

The logistics agreements in certain ways also divests the need for a nation to invest in overseas bases or dual-use infrastructure. This is because the efficacy of overseas bases would have to be measured vis-à-vis installation, maintenance and manpower costs. Therefore, depending on a nation’s strategic interests in a region, the development of overseas bases has to be assessed against the relative flexibility that a logistics agreement provides for expanding a nation’s operational footprint and diversifying its international presence at the same time at a much lesser cost.

The signing of these agreements has been in consonance with India’s growing maritime engagement with navies of the Indo-Pacific. The Indian Navy presently carries out bilateral naval exercises with fourteen navies and coordinated patrols with four, most of which are in the Indo-Pacific. The recent India-Singapore-Thailand Joint Maritime Exercise, conducted at Port Blair on September 16, 2019, has further added to the Indian Navy’s repertoire of joint exercises conducted in the region.

Such operational engagements, coupled with the signing of logistics agreements, indicate maturing of strategic trust between nations.

The timing of India’s aforementioned logistics agreements with respect to the then prevalent geostrategic calculus is also interesting. US President Barack Obama had announced his ‘Rebalance to Asia’ strategy in 2011. In September-October 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping had proposed the ambitious ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ or ‘One Belt, One Road’, later renamed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was preceded by more than a decade of aggressive maritime infrastructure development by China in most of the IOR littoral countries surrounding India. This included the development of islands in the South China Sea, constant forays of Chinese warships into the Indian Ocean and acquisition of a military base at Djibouti. China’s increasing economic and military heft thus required an effective counterbalance. As can be inferred, all the four logistics agreements India signed were after 2016, the first being LEMOA with the US.


India has managed to steer a straight course through the choppy geostrategic environment by concluding military logistics agreements with the US, France, Singapore and South Korea, and is looking forward to signing a similar agreement with Russia shortly and more to follow. The endeavour has been to increase cooperation in the field of maritime security, joint exercise, HADR and interoperability between navies.

Though Indian warships can always extend their operational reach by using their fleet tankers, the availability of logistics support facilities with other countries will further enhance the ability of the Indian Navy to maintain appropriate ‘presence’ for extended periods in its areas of interest in the wider Indo-Pacific.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Originally published by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (www.idsa.inhere.

Cmde. Roby Thomas

An alumni of the first three-year Naval Academy Course and Naval War College, Cmde. Roby Thomas was Commodore, Foreign Cooperation II at the Naval Headquarters prior to joining IDSA. He has specialised in Anti-Submarine Warfare and is a qualified Ships Diver. He is also an External Pilot Instructor on Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), of which he was part of the team that inducted RPAs into the Indian Navy.

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DEFENCE-SECURITY

India Dismisses China’s Claims On Galwan As “Untenable, Unacceptable”

All infrastructure built by the Indian side is naturally on its own side of the LAC: MEA

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NEW DELHI:  In a terse, precise and categorical message to China, India has once again reiterated that Galwan Valley is historically its territory and New Delhi will not accept “untenable and exaggerated” claims by China with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The position with regard to the Galwan Valley area has been historically clear. Attempts by the Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC) there are not acceptable. They are not in accordance with China’s own position in the past,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Saturday.

He said that the Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC in all sectors of the India-China border areas, including in the Galwan Valley. They abide by it scrupulously and the Indian side has never undertaken any actions across the LAC. In fact, they have been patrolling this area for a long time without any incident.


On Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian released a statement that gave Beijing’s “step by step” version of the events which led to the Galwan valley face-off of June 15. India has said that 20 of its soldiers were killed, while around 76 were injured in the physical hand-to-hand fight with Chinese troops on Monday night.

The Chinese document reiterated China’s recent claim over the whole Galwan valley, but it also accused India of violating the understanding reached on June 6 among senior commanders that Indian patrols “would not cross the estuary of the Galwan river”.

Responding sharply to the statement by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday on the events in the Galwan Valley area, Srivastava gave a detailed account of the incident.


The MEA official said that since early May 2020, the Chinese side has been hindering India’s normal, traditional patrolling pattern in this area which had resulted in a face-off that was addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols.

Subsequently in mid-May, the Chinese side attempted to transgress the LAC in other areas of the Western Sector of the India-China border areas. These attempts were invariably met with an appropriate response from us. Thereafter, the two sides were engaged in discussions through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation arising out of Chinese activities on the LAC…We do not accept the contention that India was unilaterally changing the status quo. On the contrary, we were maintaining it,” the MEA spokesperson said.

He added that the senior commanders met on June 6, 2020, and agreed on a process for de-escalation and disengagement along the LAC that involved reciprocal actions.

However, the Chinese side departed from these understandings in respect of the LAC in the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across the LAC. When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on June 15, 2020, that directly resulted in casualties,” he added.

The Spokesman said, the two sides are in regular touch and early meetings of military and diplomatic mechanisms are currently being discussed.


Referring to telephone conversation between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on June 17, Srivastava said the EAM conveyed India’s protest “in the strongest terms on the events leading up to and on the violent face-off on June 15, 2020“.

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Indian Air Force Fully Prepared For Contingencies At LAC: IAF Chief

IAF has taken all necessary measures including increasing the patrolling in the area: IAF Chief

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HYDERABAD (Telangana): Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria today said the Indian Air Force is fully prepared for any contingency in the wake of the situation at the LAC.

Speaking to the media in Hyderabad following the combined passing out parade at Dundigal in Hyderabad, he said the IAF is not foreseeing any war. However, he added that the IAF has taken all necessary measures including increasing the patrolling in the area.

Stating that the sacrifices of the soldiers during the Ladakh face-off will not go in vain, he said their actions demonstrated the resolve to protect the sovereignty of the country.


China, the IAF Chief said, had breached all existing agreements at LAC. “All efforts are underway that the current situation is resolved peacefully. We are well prepared and suitably deployed to counter any situation,” he said.

He further said in spite of unaccepted Chinese action after agreements were reached during military talks and the resulting loss of lives, all efforts have been made to ensure that the current situation was resolved peacefully at Galwan Valley.

He made it clear that the forces are well-prepared and suitably deployed to respond to any contingency.


Earlier On June 18/19:

Responding to the continuing Chinese aggression, India has added Apache attack copters, Sukhoi fighter jets, infantrymen and tanks to defences along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The IAF has moved the latest Apache attack 64 helicopters to Ladakh. The bases at Adampur and Pathankot are on alert and are doing patrolling. A navy surveillance plane, Boeing P8I, has been used to capture high-resolution imagery and videos. It can stream videos to war-rooms of the forces in Delhi.

A division of the Indian Army kept ready for contingency, has been acclimatised over the past two weeks for warfighting at more than 14,000 feet. Earlier, in the first week of May, the defences in Ladakh were bolstered by moving another division (some 15,000 troops).

Also, the 3rd Division of the Army, tasked for Ladakh under normal circumstances, is already there. Three divisions now form an arc and are ready to respond.


This comes in response to the massive buildup by China along the LAC opposite Indian positions in Depsang, Galwan, Hot Springs, north bank of the Pangong Tso, Koyul, Fukche and Demchok.

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DEFENCE-SECURITY

NAMES Of The 20 HEROES Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice At LAC

The Indian Army has released the names of 20 soldiers killed in action in Monday’s India-China border clash in Ladakh.

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NEW DELHI: The Indian Army has released the names of the 20 soldiers killed in the clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night. The Army initially said on Tuesday that an officer and two soldiers were killed. But in a late evening statement, it revised the figure to 20.

Here is the list of names released by the Indian Army:

1. Col B Santosh Babu


2. Nb Sub Nuduram Soren

3. Sb Sub Mandeep Singh

4. Nd Sub Satnam Singh


5. Hav K Palani

6. Hav Sunil Kumar

7. Hav Bipul Roy

8. Nk Deepak Kumar

9. Sep Rajesh Orang


10. Sep Kundan Kumar Ojha

11. Sep Ganesh Ram

12. Sep Chandrakanta Pradhan

13. Sep Ankush

14. Sep Gurbinder

15. Sep Gurtej Singh

16. Sep Chandan Kumar

17. Sep Kundan Kumar

18. Sep Aman Kumar


19. Sep Jai Kishore Singh

20. Sep Ganesh Hansda

While China has not yet talked about the number of casualties suffered by the People’s Liberation Army during the clash, sources said citing US intelligence reports said there were 35 casualties on the Chinese side.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday convened an all-party virtual meet on June 19 to discuss the situation on the India-China border:

In order to discuss the situation in the India-China border areas, Prime Minister @narendramodi has called for an all-party meeting at 5 pm on 19th June. Presidents of various political parties would take part in this virtual meeting,” the PMO tweeted.

Monday’s clash between Indian and China is the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated the already volatile border standoff between the two.

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