National Security Architecture Reforms & Theatre Commands : Discussions

Gautam

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The NEST: A pragmatic addition to India’s external affairs ministry

By Aarshi Tirkey
Mar 30 2020

The NEST division is a significant development and underscores the importance of emerging technologies to India’s expanding digital landscape and domestic industry.
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In January 2020, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) took the progressive step to establish India’s first, New and Emerging Strategic Technologies (NEST) division. The ministry is yet to reveal the exact structure, function and mandate of the NEST; however, a reply to a parliamentary question details that it will deal with the foreign policy and international legal aspects of new and emerging technologies. It will achieve this objective through exchange of views with foreign governments, and by coordinating with domestic ministries and departments.

The NEST division is a significant development and underscores the importance of emerging technologies to India’s expanding digital landscape and domestic industry. It is also a nod to its increasing relevance to Indian foreign policy objectives, national security and strategic interests. The creation of the new division follows on the footsteps of the ongoing debate on 5G, the next generation of transformational network technology, that has become the flashpoint of an ongoing geopolitical rivalry between the US and China. Given that the choice of a 5G vendor requires a careful analysis of security risks, strategic concerns, economic factors and foreign policy interests, the MEA is more than justified in its need to create a new division to facilitate decision-making in this complex area.

Emerging technologies are generally used to refer to advanced and futuristic technology at a given point in time. While thirty years ago it would have referred to the Internet, today it means artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, 3D printing and quantum computing. These technologies are crucial for giving impetus to innovation, economic progress and social development, and can place early adopters at the head of the pack by leapfrogging traditional barriers to development and ushering in unprecedented technological advancement. The MEA, however, has confined the mandate of the division to emerging “strategic” technologies — a term that will help give direction to the work of the division. While a majority of existing literature discusses “emerging technologies” at length, emerging strategic technologies have only been mentioned in a handful of resources.


These technologies are crucial for giving impetus to innovation, economic progress and social development, and can place early adopters at the head of the pack by leapfrogging traditional barriers to development and ushering in unprecedented technological advancement.


What makes a technology “strategic” can be understood from different perspectives. There is the economic perspective, where the technology’s potential to revolutionise existing processes — such as the use artificial intelligence (AI) in factory automation — makes its early adoption vital for India’s economic interests. Second, the nature, impact and use of different emerging technologies — specifically those that are disruptive or have dual use applications — can expose India to new vulnerabilities and security risks.

Security concerns may be attached to the technology itself, such as health risks connected with biotechnology, or cyber security risks associated with the Internet of Things (IoT), and need to be addressed through a different policy approach. On the other hand, dual use and disruptive technologies — which refers to tech that can enhance military and offensive capability — can also significantly undermine India’s strategic interests. The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) has observed that 3D printing can be used to create weapons, synthetic biology and autonomous weapon systems, and can provide an avenue for rogue states to violate international sanctions, arms control regime and non-proliferation. Such threats can emanate from India’s own neighbourhood, from both state and non-state actors.

Third, India’s decision on choosing a supplier for the technology can have an immense impact on geopolitics, and even recalibrate the existing balance of power. It is well established that power and economic wealth concentrates with those that control new and crucial technologies. Countries that become global tech leaders are further able to consolidate their primacy by dominating manufacture, supply, investments, knowledge sharing, training and capacity building, and norms building in emerging technologies. This, coupled with the asymmetry in technological prowess between countries, means that global tech leaders will naturally become the preferred exporters of emerging technologies while the rest will be importers or consumers. As other countries are keen on swiftly adopting new technologies, they need to carefully avoid entering into an unequal relationship with the exporter, who may be well positioned to bargain and influence the policies of the consumer country. This is being illustrated by the ongoing geopolitical rivalry vis-à-vis the 5G technologies, where Chinese tech, investments and preferential trade terms are often conditioned on the entry of Chinese companies like Huawei.


India’s decision on choosing a supplier for the technology can have an immense impact on geopolitics, and even recalibrate the existing balance of power.


Given these considerations, it will be interesting to see the NEST division use traditional foreign policy tools, such as bilateral and multilateral engagement, participation in international and treaty organizations, policymaking, partnerships and public diplomacy, to achieve its objectives. An illustration can be how a combination of public diplomacy and bilateral and multilateral engagement can help promote the interests of its domestic industries and achieve India’s economic imperatives in acquiring emerging technologies.

The second objective of the division relates to the international legal aspects of new and emerging technologies. This can refer to interpreting the law as it stands, as well as to participate in framing new legal norms to safeguard New Delhi sovereign interests. Prima facie, the attempt to fit emerging technologies within a legal framework may seem both superfluous and counterintuitive. Given their rapidly evolving nature, it is difficult — at any given moment — to capture and anticipate the form of regulation that would be suitable for governing them. What may seem relevant today may quickly become redundant tomorrow. Nevertheless, such processes can still help in formulating customary international law that may become an indispensible part of all developments underpinning futuristic technologies. For instance, though the 1967 Outer Space Treaty is struggling to keep pace with today’s rapid advancement in space technologies, its principles — such as the prohibition on claiming sovereignty over outer space — continues to be adhered to.

This is where the NEST will need to frame its approach towards interpreting international law and also, formulating legal norms for emerging strategic technologies. For instance, a hard law approach, as seen in international trade law, will be binding and comprise of a stronger means to guarantee enforcement and regulation. At the same time, it may not appeal to a majority of countries for fear that regulation can inhibit technological advancement. A soft law approach, like the non-binding Paris Agreement on climate change, will appeal to a larger number of countries; but by virtue of not being legally binding may not do enough in terms of enforcement and implementation. India will, therefore need to ponder on these questions, and determine what would be best aligned with India’s interests and strategic considerations.


It may not appeal to a majority of countries for fear that regulation can inhibit technological advancement.


The NEST can help fill a critical gap in India’s diplomacy and supplement existing institutional structures to focus on emerging technologies, and its relevance to national security and domestic interests. This is similar to the April 2019 decision to consolidate geographical divisions and create a separate Indo-Pacific division under the MEA. This was followed by a larger overhaul in January 2020 to re-organise the portfolios of seven different additional secretaries and empower them to look at culture, trade, development and foreign aid. Evidently, the developments have been part of a larger exercise to enhance coordination within the ministry and adopt broader, thematic approaches towards foreign policy.

Going forward, the NEST division has its work cut out for it. Apart from looking at the form and substance of what the division can do, the initiative can also provide a platform to engage with specialists and trained professionals to frame emerging technology-related policies. This is where the division can be truly experimental; that is, by adopting a cross-sectional approach that not only considers economic, security and technical aspects, but also makes efforts to engage with both public and private stakeholders to frame meaningful policies. When it comes to navigating an uncertain world fraught with geopolitical rivalries and rapidly evolving technologies, the many challenges to India also give it an opportunity to demonstrate its inventiveness towards approaching new foreign policy questions.

The NEST: A pragmatic addition to India’s external affairs ministry | ORF
 
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Gautam

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A few days old...........

Make short service lucrative, raise retirement age: CDS plan to reduce defence pensions

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat tells parliamentary panel that many steps are being actively considered for saving on the defence budget.

By Amrita Nayak Dutta
30 April, 2020 8:41 pm IST
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File photo of CDS General Bipin Rawat. Photo: PTI

New Delhi:
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Bipin Rawat has told a parliamentary panel that the armed forces are actively looking at several steps to reduce the burgeoning defence pensions, and saving on the defence budget.

The steps under consideration include greater employment of personnel on short service commission (SSC) by making it a lucrative career option, increasing the retirement age of services personnel, and “outsourcing” of some of the services provided by the armed forces to the private sector.

In a submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, Gen. Rawat said SSC personnel are employed for a particular time frame, and can be given attractive choices during the service tenure, such as college education and study leave. The personnel can use these to educate themselves, and then retire from service with a lump-sum amount, which would reduce the forces’ pension liabilities.

The report of the parliamentary committee was presented in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on 13 March. The total defence budget in the current financial year stands at Rs 4.71 lakh crore, of which pensions constitute 28 per cent of the defence ministry’s overall expenditure.

A long-pending reform

Making the SSC a lucrative career option has been among the long-pending reforms in the Army in particular. As of now, only officers have the option of joining the armed forces on SSC. They retire at the end of their 14-year tenure with a gratuity amount. Many of them, however, opt for permanent commission at the end of their tenure.

Jawans, sailors and airmen retire after a certain number of years at the services with full pension, which varies between 15 and 20 years, depending on the force. A senior defence officer told ThePrint that the Army has been working on making the SSC more lucrative to attract talent.

“Reducing the service limit from 14 years to a more realistic one, allowing study leave towards the end of the service, giving a suitable lump-sum amount on retirement beyond the existing gratuity and signing agreement with prominent institutions for higher education of personnel are some of the steps being discussed,” the officer said.

On increasing retirement age

Gen. Rawat also told the standing committee that he will hopefully come to a decision, along with the three service chiefs, on increasing the retirement age of service personnel. “If we can increase the retirement age, automatically the pension budget goes down,” he told the panel. Rawat, however, added that it is being examined who all can serve in this “extended period”.

“We have identified some areas where this extension can happen. We have asked the services to identify more,” he said. The CDS added that the intention is to initially make 30 per cent of service personnel serve till the extended age, which will be 58 or 60 years of age. In an interaction with a group of journalists in February, Gen. Rawat had said the retiring age of defence services personnel, particularly below the rank of officers, should be raised to 58, from the current 37-38, to optimise their services and cut down on the increasing defence pensions.

Other ways to save on defence budget

Rawat also told the parliamentary panel that “jointsmanship” and integration of the defence forces will also lead to saving on the defence budget, as work can be outsourced.

“…A lot of issues that we are now doing from within our own sources can be outsourced,” he said. “It is through increasing the service span, looking at jointness in seeing that we can optimise resources, and third is seeing how we can outsource some of our services to the private sector, that we intend to save the budget and then use it for modernisation,” he said.

On rationalising manpower in the forces, Gen. Rawat told the panel that while the need for manpower cannot be done away with, the use of technology is being examined. “In some of the areas, we are trying to make sure that some of the logistic units can be brought down in size….We have almost collapsed a large part of our Army Postal Service; we have given it to the P&T Department to move our post. We are closing down our military farms. We have started closing down some of our workshops in peace stations where we feel it can be outsourced,” he told the panel, adding that there are other proposals in the pipeline.

Speaking to ThePrint, a second senior defence officer said there is no “quickfire solution” to reducing the pension budget, and that it needs to be done gradually in a focussed and planned manner. “After all it’s the security of the ‘active borders’ that the CDS spoke about,” this officer said.

“Increasing pensionable service, increasing age of retirement, increasing SSC officers, gradual reduction in force strengths, outsourcing non-combat jobs, increasing percentage of commutation of pension etc. are all factors that are being vigorously pursued towards rationalisation of the pension budget,” the officer added.

Make short service lucrative, raise retirement age: CDS plan to reduce defence pensions
 

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Rajnath Singh approves abolition of 9,304 posts in Military Engineering Service

This is one of the recommendations made by a panel to enhance combat capability and rebalance armed forces’ expenditure
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved a proposal for the abolition of 9,304 posts in the Military Engineering Service (MES), the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.
This is in line with the recommendations of the Lt. Gen. D.B. Shekatkar (Retd.) Committee, which had suggested measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance armed forces’ expenditure.
“In line with the recommendations made by the Committee, based on the proposal of Engineer-in-Chief, MES, the proposal of abolition of 9,304 posts in MES out of the total 13,157 vacancies of the basic and industrial staff has been approved by the Defence Minister,” the Ministry said in a statement.
One of the recommendations was to restructure the civilian workforce in a manner that the work of the MES could be partly done by departmentally employed staff and other works could be outsourced, it stated.
It was aimed at making the MES an effective organisation with a leaner workforce, well equipped to handle complex issues in the emerging scenario in an efficient and cost- effective manner, it added.
The 11-member committee, appointed by the late Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in 2016 with a broad mandate, had made about 99 recommendations from optimising defence budget to the need for a Chief of the Defence Staff.
The recommendations, if implemented over the next five years, can result in savings of up to ₹25,000 crore in defence expenditure. Of these, the first batch of 65 recommendations pertaining to the Army were approved in August 2017.
 
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_Anonymous_

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Rajnath Singh approves abolition of 9,304 posts in Military Engineering Service

This is one of the recommendations made by a panel to enhance combat capability and rebalance armed forces’ expenditure
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved a proposal for the abolition of 9,304 posts in the Military Engineering Service (MES), the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.
This is in line with the recommendations of the Lt. Gen. D.B. Shekatkar (Retd.) Committee, which had suggested measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance armed forces’ expenditure.
“In line with the recommendations made by the Committee, based on the proposal of Engineer-in-Chief, MES, the proposal of abolition of 9,304 posts in MES out of the total 13,157 vacancies of the basic and industrial staff has been approved by the Defence Minister,” the Ministry said in a statement.
One of the recommendations was to restructure the civilian workforce in a manner that the work of the MES could be partly done by departmentally employed staff and other works could be outsourced, it stated.
It was aimed at making the MES an effective organisation with a leaner workforce, well equipped to handle complex issues in the emerging scenario in an efficient and cost- effective manner, it added.
The 11-member committee, appointed by the late Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in 2016 with a broad mandate, had made about 99 recommendations from optimising defence budget to the need for a Chief of the Defence Staff.
The recommendations, if implemented over the next five years, can result in savings of up to ₹25,000 crore in defence expenditure. Of these, the first batch of 65 recommendations pertaining to the Army were approved in August 2017.
GE & MES - 2 of the most corrupt organisations I've had the misfortune to interact with. Less than mediocre & throughly incompetent.Funny, part is it's a open secret. The armed forces know about it yet do nothing to prevent it. @Falcon
 
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Falcon

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GE & MES - 2 of the most corrupt organisations I've had the misfortune to interact with. Less than mediocre & throughly incompetent.Funny, part is it's a open secret. The armed forces know about it yet do nothing to prevent it. @Falcon

Political support is there for the MES as this is another of the 'vote banks'. Also, hand in glove corruption is there too. A symbiotic relationship comes into play.
 
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_Anonymous_

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Political support is there for the MES as this is another of the 'vote banks'. Also, hand in glove corruption is there too. A symbiotic relationship comes into play.
What's the solution to it? They definitely need an overhaul inside out or dismantling.
 

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GE & MES - 2 of the most corrupt organisations I've had the misfortune to interact with. Less than mediocre & throughly incompetent.Funny, part is it's a open secret. The armed forces know about it yet do nothing to prevent it. @Falcon
Arre me too. My uncle was a Civil and Electrical Contractor. Totally agree.
 
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Falcon

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What's the solution to it? They definitely need an overhaul inside out or dismantling.


I would prefer dismantling and local outsourcing contracts YoY to private firms. MES is paid out of Defence Head, gets NFU, adds to pension & Revenue Expenditure bills and performs sub-optimally.
 
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Falcon

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What's NFU?


Non Functional Upgradation


You get upgrade in pay irrespective of whether you are promoted to next level or not, two years (I think) after your batchmate attains that pay.

So, your pension is just slightly less than what your batchmate at highest rank gets, but much higher than what you would earn without NFU at the same pay grade.

Same as IPS, IAS, DPSUs etc.

So, we have a civilian, working under a GE (Army Engineers Officer), who will be earning more than the Officer by significant amounts and knows that his pay is protected, irrespective of whatever report is given, as even if he is not promoted, he will get the pay two years later. And then he refuses to listen to the Controlling Officer :)
 

_Anonymous_

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Non Functional Upgradation


You get upgrade in pay irrespective of whether you are promoted to next level or not, two years (I think) after your batchmate attains that pay.

So, your pension is just slightly less than what your batchmate at highest rank gets, but much higher than what you would earn without NFU at the same pay grade.

Same as IPS, IAS, DPSUs etc.

So, we have a civilian, working under a GE (Army Engineers Officer), who will be earning more than the Officer by significant amounts and knows that his pay is protected, irrespective of whatever report is given, as even if he is not promoted, he will get the pay two years later. And then he refuses to listen to the Controlling Officer :)
Absolutely sickening state of affairs. I recall visiting an MES site at Naval docks Mumbai a few years ago to air condition the torpedo storage room which as the name suggests would condition the temperature & humidity there for safe storage of the said torpedoes. The meeting started with the CE there listing the tarrifs he & his staff were entitled to ( in the bombay municipal Corporation - another sickeningly corrupt to the core organization, the honours are done by the peon or clerk. Hence in a way, the MES is several times better as it cannot be accused of not following due protocol in that the CE himself asks for payoffs from his counterparts in other organizations.) .

It got progressively worse. He wanted the Chillers there to function 24x7 without built in redundancies apparently because a rival company claimed they could achieve it ( why ? long short story - the HVAC consultant was in the pockets of the rival company & had designed the sub standard system which was to be tendered due to budgetory constraints which wasn't a constraint to begin with unless you accounted for the fact that a third of the monies were payoffs. This would obviously be added to the cost of items thus inflating the tender.After the systems are designed, the MES usually invites companies to validate the design.) Now the modus operandi knowing the corrupt practices here is that sales team books an order ( which given the pressure on every sales team across the world , they're expected to indulging in being economical with the truth & cutting corners but is something which in my book can't be condoned ) & post the warranty period the service team refuses to take it under AMC until their recommendations are acted upon.

Which in turn means the MES has a choice, they either go in for redundancies as required ( which they don't for obvious reasons as that could lead to enquiries by Internal audit) or drop the vendor & go in to some third party usually a local contractor who does what every Indian true to his salt & birth in this land does & something which he's eternally proud of - juggad. Now this is for some of the most sophisticated armaments costing hundereds of crores - the torpedoes. In the event I reported this to my immediate superior the RM & we bowed out & the project was designed, tendered & executed by another organization.

Slightly more than a year after this incident the INS Sindhurakshak exploded in the docks. I believe preliminary investigations revealed it was due to faulty handling of certain armaments. Now I'm not for a minute suggesting that the project I was involved in was associated with this incident. Nor did I hear anything out of the ordinary in our industry grapevine. I didn't even hear anything of the enquiry results from the IN too. What I can share is that the organization which implemented this multi crore air conditioning project - a giant in central air conditioning in India was black listed by the MES & IN shortly afterwards.
 

Gautam

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Retirement age of jawans to increase, says Gen Rawat

Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 12

The retirement age of jawans in the Army, airmen in the IAF and sailors in the Navy is set to increase.

“We are soon bringing a policy to extend the service profile of the men (forces nomenclature for troops) and have an increased minimum retirement age, said Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat in an exclusive interaction with The Tribune on Tuesday evening.

The move could benefit almost 15 lakh men of the three armed forces.

When asked if he was looking to cut manpower costs as mounting salaries and pensions were taking away a large chunk of the budget, General Rawat said: “I am looking at manpower costs. Why should a jawan serve for just 15 or 17 years, why cannot he serve for 30 years? We are losing trained manpower.”

He allayed fears that this would change the age profile of the fighting force, saying the frontline combatant could be young. “We have an Army Medical Corps, why can’t the nursing assistant serve till 50 years of age?” Citing the example of EME, he said those at base workshops remain there even in war, so why can’t they serve till 50. And at any given time the forces should not have more than a defined number who are above 40 years of age.

Speaking on the impact of Covid, he said the transformation and restructuring that everyone had been discussing was the need of the hour. “There is transformation required in the armed forces and Covid means it will be done now,” General Rawat said. On being asked if the target for having joint commands within three years would be met, General Rawat said: “I don’t visualise this going beyond three years. We will have a structure and implementation will start in three years”.

“For now we are moving ahead with joint Air Defence Command, the IAF chief has given a presentation on the matter and in six months we expect to have things in place. This command will have its own doctrine and amalgamate all training and logistic support.

The next would be the maritime command followed by the joint commands. The Army is doing a study on joint commands and the Navy on maritime commands. “The office of the CDS has given guidelines and studies will be completed by the year-end,” General Rawat said.

 

vstol Jockey

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Saying the naval fighter jets can operate in deserts and the IAF jets there can move to the other borders, Gen. Rawat said, “There is not much of difference between sea flying and desert flying.”

@vstol Jockey sir.
true to some extent but not completely. Flying oversea does not offer anykind of visual clue and same is true for desert also. But height estimation is available at low levels over desert which is not available over sea. You can just fly into the sea if you are not carefull of your altimeter.
 

_Anonymous_

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true to some extent but not completely. Flying oversea does not offer anykind of visual clue and same is true for desert also. But height estimation is available at low levels over desert which is not available over sea. You can just fly into the sea if you are not carefull of your altimeter.
I think the larger point being made is to prepare contingencies for a post 2024-25 scenario where we would be phasing out the MiG-21's & apart from the 40 LCA - Mk1, a few Mk1a's & 36 Rafales to compensate for all those MiG 21, MiG 23 & MiG 27's we've retired we would be facing a definite shortage. What better way for the IN to not only gain experience but also make themselves useful since I very much doubt we'd need the INS Vikramaditya if we're to tackle Pakistan, in case of a war.
 

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National Security Strategy (NSS)
Asked about the proposed National Security Strategy (NSS) that is being being formulated by the Defence Planning Committee headed by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Rawat said the draft is being finalised but did not give a timeframe for its completion.

“The draft was ready. But with the CDS coming in, it needs some changes. That is being done,” he said. He said without the NSS too, the three Services have their operational directives and India has a Union war book which integrates everything in terms of war or calamities.

Northern theatre command with China should have Navy element: Gen. Rawat
 
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vstol Jockey

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I think the larger point being made is to prepare contingencies for a post 2024-25 scenario where we would be phasing out the MiG-21's & apart from the 40 LCA - Mk1, a few Mk1a's & 36 Rafales to compensate for all those MiG 21, MiG 23 & MiG 27's we've retired we would be facing a definite shortage. What better way for the IN to not only gain experience but also make themselves useful since I very much doubt we'd need the INS Vikramaditya if we're to tackle Pakistan, in case of a war.
This is not a new suggestion. IN aircraft have operated from shore even in 1965/1971 war. Our Alizes were used extensively for recce.