IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Sukumar
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IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sukumar » 09 Apr 2002 08:08

Nakul didnt want to bite on this. Does anybody know a detailed answer ?

The USAF is organized into "squadrons" grouped into "wings". The RAF has "groups" which then have many squadrons.

I know that the IAF has air operations groups (like the AOG for J & K) which controls all air operations in this theater. South Western air Command was one such operations group before it became a command. I also know that the IAF has administrative "wings".

Can you clarify what the respective functions are of these IAF wings and groups ? BTW this was a discussion some years back on BR which I felt we did not fully resolve. Thanks in advance.


As an added note, the PAF is organized into command - wing - squadron like the USAF.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Roop » 09 Apr 2002 11:01

I believe the IAF is:
Flight -> Squadron -> Wing -> Group.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sukumar » 09 Apr 2002 11:03

I believe the wing is an administrative division not a functional organization like an Air Ops Group. Thats part of the question.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Peeyoosh » 09 Apr 2002 11:24

heck, each plane has two wings! most pilots too - the IAF has wings all over :)

could not resist that

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Johann » 09 Apr 2002 12:43

Sukumar can correct me if I'm wrong but part of what he's asking is

- how much tactical & operational planning is done above the squadron level?
- are operational commitments/deployments/rotations made at the squadron leval or above?

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Samir » 09 Apr 2002 12:59

I'm not sure if Flights exist any more. It seems like its Squadrons-->Wing-->Command. That is, I'm not sure of the existence of Groups either. Take a typical base with 2-3 squadrons. This consititutes a Wing. The AOC runs the base, and all CO's liase with him for Command level liason. But there is also a COO (Chief Operations Officer, referred to as, surprise, "the coo", typically a Group Captain) that is answerable to the command for day-to-day running of the Wing. The appellation Flight Commander now refers to the pilot, the senior most Squadron Leader that runs a squadron on a day-to-day basis (making sure everyone is doing the right flying, that all rookies are finishing their syllabus on time, liasing with Logistics and Engineering). This pilot liases with the CO.

Look at the ranks and some idea of the old structure emerges: Flight Lieutenants were probably commanders of flights within a squadron, Squadron Leaders were COs and Wing Commanders and Group Captains are similary self-explanatory.

As far as strategic planning is concerned, it comes from the command. Actual deployment of a squadron at times of operations is a mixture of the squadron deployment profile and the role command has envisaged for it. But a wing being an administrative unit can get pulled apart at time of deployment and often does.

So in terms of operational responsibility Flight Commanders liase with COs who liase operationally with COOs and on a slightly less operational level with the AOC. The AOCs liase with Command, probably via SASO and then C-in-C.

I imagine things are different in Training Command.

As always, I welcome corrections to this slightly rambling post.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sree » 09 Apr 2002 20:54

I suspect that Sukumar's question can only be completely and correctly answered by a serving officer. (And such a one won't answer it, at least not on a public Forum!) But a few observations, for what they're worth; with the usual statutory warning that a lot of my knowledge in this area is some years old:

Samir, up to a few years ago IAF squadrons certainly were, I believe, organised into flights. The structure you are describing, of a Senior Pilot who presents the squadron as a going concern to the Squadron CO, was I think a Fleet Air Arm approach -- similar to the structure of a ship's Executive Officer whose duty is to present the Captain with a running ship. I don't know if that has been adopted in the IAF -- I haven't heard so. (But that's certainly not definitive!!)

However, in contrast to the historic RAF use of the wing/squadron/flight organisation structure (three flights to a squadron; three squadrons to a wing), the IAF organised each squadron into two flights. For some years at least, 'C' flight, in IAF squadrons, was the engineering flight; and the 'C' flight commander in IAF squadrons was the senior technical officer on the squadron strength.

At Independence, Squadron-Leaders commanded and led squadrons; and Flight-Lieutenants led flights. From about the late '60s / early '70s, IAF squadrons were generally commanded by Wing Commanders, and flights by Squadron-Leaders. For a period, I think the late '80s and early '90s, because of a particular "bulge" among IAF officers of that seniority, some IAF transport squadrons were commanded by Group Captains -- not sure how long that lasted.

As Sukumar and Samir say, squadrons are administratively managed through the Wing structure (through the station commander or the station AOC); but operationally directed through the operational Command structure (through the Chief Ops Officer, and the Operations Staff at Command HQ -- SASO, Air 1, Ops 1A, etc). There used to be at least one other intermediate operational level between the operational Command and the squadron; sorry I can't at the moment recall the nomenclature. This dual system makes for occasional problems; as with all large organisation structures; but is no different from that of many other services and large organisations.

(This structure has of course been changing, in response to changing requirements -- so it's entirely possible that what I've set out above is out of date.)

In post-Independence times, a Group has been far too large an organisation to operate as a tactical unit. In the late '60s, when the RAF merged Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands into a single Strike Command, each former Command became an operational Group. In the IAF, we have converted Operational Groups into operational Commands a couple of times since Independence -- both WAC and SWAC originated as Operational Groups. If we have any independent Operational Groups now, they are probably treated almost like small operational Commands.

I do not believe we have operated Wings as a tactical unit, either. In the IAF, Wings are primarily an administrative and management unit.

Squadrons are, afaik, the largest units that have both an operational/tactical as well as an administrative role in the IAF.

However, in contrast to 1971, when eight aircraft was about the largest formation we put into the air as a tactical unit, the IAF has in recent years practiced operating in "gorillas", tactical groupings numbering considerably more than the size of a single squadron. And I think, during Op Safed Sagar, they did sometimes operate as gorillas. However, I think those were ad hoc formations, without any administrative identity.

In the last sentence, I use the word "formation" in the sense of "operating entity", rather than formation in the air -- in modern air operations the individual aircraft, while co-ordinated, are often quite far apart (ie spacing measured in kms); so a gorilla doesn't look anything remotely like a Surya Kiran formation. Don't think any air force in the world today operates anything like Richthofen's Circus!

Yes, the USAF's structure is slightly different -- and the Russians have a completely different structure (regiments, divisions, etc) -- and during WW2, the Germans used to have yet another structure (Rotte / Schwarme / Staffel / Gruppe / Geschwader) ... this is material for yet another thread!

To borrow Samir's line -- any authoritative corrections to this rambling post are more than welcome!!

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Jagan » 09 Apr 2002 21:39

"At Independence, Squadron-Leaders commanded and led squadrons; and Flight-Lieutenants led flights. From about the late '60s / early '70s, IAF squadrons were generally commanded by Wing Commanders, and flights by Squadron-Leaders. For a period, I think the late '80s and early '90s, because of a particular "bulge" among IAF officers of that seniority, some IAF transport squadrons were commanded by Group Captains -- not sure how long that lasted."

Time for me to do my daily soapbox lecture.

The policy was similar to the RAF adopted during World War Two. fighter Squadrons were led by Sqn Ldrs and bomber squadrons were led by Wing Commanders. In 1963/64, the reorganisation was done and Frontline fighter squadrons operating the Mysetere, Gnat and Hunter were commanded by Wg Cdrs and Sqn Ldrs still commmanded Vampire and Ouragan sqns. and as the Vampire and OUragan units got phased out the Sqn Ldr as the CO went out of style. But it continued for sometime with Helicopter Units.

Late 80s saw Group Captains commanding heavy transport squadrons (and the VIP Sqns). AFAIK, the Groupies are still commanding the Il-76 sqns (as mentioned in the AFM Bhuj issue)

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sree » 09 Apr 2002 22:01

Originally posted by Jagan:
...

Time for me to do my daily soapbox lecture.

...
Jagan, if that's a soapbox lecture, you can have one at my street corner any time! Six lines, to fill gaps, put some definitive detail, and correct errors, in a long ramble ... what brand of soap is that you use, again? Thanks!

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby JCage » 09 Apr 2002 23:08

Samir,Sree and Jagan.
You guys are worth your weight in the Nizams finest jewels.

Way to go.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sukumar » 10 Apr 2002 05:32

Originally posted by Johann:
Sukumar can correct me if I'm wrong but part of what he's asking is

- how much tactical & operational planning is done above the squadron level?
- are operational commitments/deployments/rotations made at the squadron leval or above?
Johann thats partly what I am asking. As far as I know the IAF's highest tactical operational unit is the squadron. Many times detachments from squadrons are posted/rotated to other bases (like the Mirage 2000 detachment deployed to Punjab during the Kargil war).

It appears that Air Commands have administrative districts under them which are the "Wings". These wings seem to be static geographic divisions that administer air bases and other installations. Squadrons are the tenant units deployed to these air bases and are operationally controlled directly by the air command or in some cases by an "air operations group" (Samir has covered some of this). An air operations group is a mini command like the one controlling operations in Kashmir. I suspect that the IAF has not wanted to have a "command" structure mirroring the Army's because they dont want to be considered a tactical support arm to the army. So while the Army has a western and northern command, the IAF only has a western air command with a subordinate northern air operations group.

Like Rajiv Lather recommends in his article it may make sense for the IAF to go with a "squadron - air group - command" type operational structure for better manageability. The RAF works on this model. This would make it more amenable to joint theatre command evolution also. In part the current structure has existed because in past wars IAF actions were small scale with flights of a few aircraft. As the IAF's thinking evolves to larger scale actions with strike packages, massed action (a la Desert Storm) and expeditionary capabilities, it would make sense to build a hierarchical operational command structure.

The IAF would do well to learn from the USAF which distinguishes operational elements from administrative elements. A theater commander needs to own no permanent units with the headaches of training and maintaining them, the administrative command would be responsible for these and "package" units and deploy them to the theater commander as required.

Jagan, you're right, even today a group captain commands the IL-76 squadrons.

Jagan, Rupak if we can reconfirm the assessment above on the operational/administrative command structure of the IAF, perhaps you should update the IAF page. Would be great to list all the wings.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Johann » 10 Apr 2002 05:40

Nice recap Sukumar.

Some additional questions to help refine it;

- where does the responsibility lie for the flight readiness of a given squadron/gorilla's aircraft lie?
- how did the typical request for close air support flow from IA rifleman/officer to IAF pilot in Kargil or Poorna Vijaya? At what level are IA & IAF liaison officers cross-posted?

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Samir » 10 Apr 2002 07:23

Originally posted by Johann:


- where does the responsibility lie for the flight readiness of a given squadron/gorilla's aircraft lie?
-
I"m not sure if I've got this question right. But if I have, the answer is that the responsbility rests with the squadron itself. In the case of a gorilla, each squadron is responsible for the aircraft it sends. Take the example of a strike involving Mirage-2000s flying EW/ECM support to a Jag strike which has Mig-29s as cover. The aircraft will fly to the form up point from their operational bases and the responsibility of the aircraft's readiness rests on the squadron's complement of engineers and ground crews all of whom will have been deployed along with the squadron's pilots. Obviously some infrastructure is provided by the operational base, but the squadron brings its own kit bag and trainer, so to speak.

When in the case of the Kargil war, small detachments from squadrons were the order of the day with respect to their deployment in Ops, this sort of arrangement was the most visible. The AOCS of the bases (operational ones) ran them administratively and the operational/tactic element came from command + squadron + army liason.

Sree,

I'm not sure if you were disputing the existence of Flight Commanders in the IAF today. They do exist. The Flight Commander is (in a fighter squadron) the most senior of the squadron leaders in the squadron, the one that runs it on a daily basis. Those duties extend right on down to submitting flying details for the next day to Base ops by night. Its a prestige posting, and getting to serve as Flight Commander by virtue of P-staff ensuring that you are the senior-most squadron leader in a unit is a nod to a possible future stint as a CO. (Its not a necessary or sufficient condition, but you catch the drift). Its an important post allright, even if not an official rank: for example, a crappy flight commander might through bad planning neglect to get a new pilot fully ops in the right time frame leading to a weakness in the operational fitness of a squadron.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sree » 10 Apr 2002 13:30

Originally posted by Samir Chopra:
...
Sree,

I'm not sure if you were disputing the existence of Flight Commanders in the IAF today. They do exist. ... Its a prestige posting, and getting to serve as Flight Commander by virtue of P-staff ensuring that you are the senior-most squadron leader in a unit is a nod to a possible future stint as a CO.
Samir:

No, I wasn't disputing the existence of Flight Commanders -- sorry if I wasn't clear -- on the contrary, I was agreeing with you that from what I knew, a few years ago, there definitely was a Flight Commander role, which was both tactical and administrative. This much is entirely consistent with what you've set out.

Where I might have differed from you was in saying that (again, afaik, and I could be wrong!!) IAF squadrons used to be generally organised into three flights, two flying and one engineering. So there would have been three Flight Commanders in a squadron, one of them a Tech branch officer. One of the Flying branch Flight Commanders would have been designated the Senior Flight Commander; as, eg, the late Sqn Ldr Jal Mistry, VrC, was of No 20 Squadron, at the start of the 71 war. Occasionally, there might be one or two "supernumerary" officers of Squadron-Leader rank, on the strength of a squadron; again, as then-Sqn Ldr Ravi Bhardwaj, MVC, was with No 20 Squadron during the 1971 war.

I use No 20 Squadron during 1971 as an example, because its personnel and their roles are largely identified in Jagan's article on the Lightnings. I am reasonably sure that a similar structure was in place up to a few years ago. I can't substantiate this from public sources; but a few years ago an officer I knew socially was posted to a fighter squadron from an instructor role, and commented that he was going to be the third (Flying branch) Squadron-Leader on the strength of the squadron. As it happened, soon after he joined the squadron, "one of" the Flight Commanders tragically suffered a fatal accident, and the officer I knew moved into that Flight Commander's slot, initially on an acting basis.

So no real differences from what you are saying -- except that, afaik, there used to be two Flying branch and one Tech branch Flight Commanders to a squadron.

Happy to be told that the structure has now changed! As I keep saying, my knowledge is dated; and I'm sure much has changed.

Let me also add that I don't know in detail the answer to Johann's and Sukumar's most recent questions ... but I look forward to hearing from someone who does!

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sukumar » 11 Apr 2002 12:18

Originally posted by Johann:
Nice recap Sukumar.

Some additional questions to help refine it;

- where does the responsibility lie for the flight readiness of a given squadron/gorilla's aircraft lie?
- how did the typical request for close air support flow from IA rifleman/officer to IAF pilot in Kargil or Poorna Vijaya? At what level are IA & IAF liaison officers cross-posted?
As Samir and Sree have pointed out maintenance and readiness is the responsibility of the squadron. Thats the case with the USAF and RAF.

One of the Indian military observations from the recent operations in Afghanistan have been the absence of ability for a squad leader or platoon commander to call in an air strike. Based on articles I have read about the 65/71 wars I think IAF liaison officers are posted at corps and division level, probably not below. Does someone know for sure ?

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Samir » 11 Apr 2002 14:43

Based on articles I have read about the 65/71 wars I think IAF liaison officers are posted at corps and division level, probably not below. Does someone know for sure ?[/QB]
Forward Air Controllers are/or have been posted at the Brigade level as well.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sree » 11 Apr 2002 14:46

Very briefly, because I don't know much about it, I believe the IAF designates Forward Air Controllers (FACs), who are generally IAF officers who work with the army and call in air support when required. From what I've read, FACs do seem to work quite close to the front-line -- which would seem to argue that they operate at a level some way below corps and division, as Sukumar suggests.

At least one post-independence IAF gallantry award went to an officer serving as an FAC, who came into direct contact with the enemy in that role. And Sam Shah's original website made a brief reference to his having served as an FAC in the '65 war, and having seen hand-to-hand combat in that role. So FACs may have operated at something like battalion or even company level.

That said, I don't know how seriously the FAC role is taken, by the IAF. I have heard anecdotes from '65 and '71 suggesting that the officers who were sent to serve as FACs were the most junior officers drawn from the squadrons, those still classified UT Ops (ie still not yet qualified to fly on Ops); and jokes about how their first radio messages were plaintive requests to be rescued from the hands of the (Indian) Army!

These stories may be just young officers' understandable high spirits; and the usual IAF approach of downplaying the difficult and dirty (particularly when it doesn't directly involve flying). I'd like to think, given the public commitment by IAF CASs in recent years, that the IAF does have a more serious doctrine of supporting the Army; notwithstanding their very public desire to be more than just flying artillery. But I know nothing whatever about how, today, an Indian Army rifleman, or a platoon or company commander, pinned down by enemy artillery, can call in a Mi-35 (some of which are now under IA operational control), or something faster, to take out the artillery position that is holding up his advance.

Anyone else out there? Johann, Raj (if you're there), how does the NATO squaddie deal with this requirement?

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Johann » 12 Apr 2002 00:27

Sree

There are two aspects; planning CAS and actually calling it in. Only have time to sketch out the first part right now. In both cases I will try to give the idealised version to keep things simple.

Integrated fire support planning which includes CAS, attack helciopters, arty (and on lower levels mortars & ATGMs) takes place at several levels, the lowest being the battle group (BG).

The Joint Forces Commander decides how much of the available sorties will be devoted to CAS, BAI, offensive counter-air, etc.

The land component commander for the area of operations (Bde/Div or even BG depending on the situation) will have an Air Support Operations Centre staffed by AF personnel co-located with them. They are the link to available offensive air support forces and will assist in tasking and planning. Pre-planned Air Requests will be submitted to a Tactical Air Control Centre (UK or Coalition), the nerve centre of the air war. The TACC will generate an Air Tasking Order that will go out to the squadrons.

At the land component commander's level such planning involves apportioning available CAS to the main effort or area of threat. Div/Bde/BG commanders are advised as to their priority and their own fire support planning will proceed accordingly.

The Fire Support Co-Ordination Cell attached to BG HQ takes care of this. In some cases the fire planning cell will be part of the artillery tac group attached to the BG. Obviously such planning intimately involves the commander.

Air Liaison officers are posted down to the brigade HQ level. Their job is to advise commanders on how air power can assist them, as well as deal with the ASOC & ATOC, or directly with TACC as the case may be. Their role in the British forces is not limited to CAS but battlefield interdiction, reconaissance and the support helicopters (i.e. Pumas, Merlins and Chinooks). They can if necessary act as FACs as well. Ground Liaison Officers are Army majors assigned to RAF flying squadrons.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sree » 12 Apr 2002 13:13

Thanks Johann -- your description of the CAS planning process is very much appreciated. Will await more on the process of actually calling it in, whenever you can find the time.

Some years ago, I remember seeing a news clip on CNN, showing a USAF HUD recording from a CAS mission in the Balkans. What I found particularly interesting was a very very British-accented voice on the radio, clearly from someone right at the sharp end on the ground, apologising to the USAF pilot for not having a laser designator on hand to designate his target.

Anyone know how Johann's description compares with the Indian Army's and IAF's CAS planning process? One possible difference is that afaik the IA and IAF employ Joint Force Command only very selectively. Or has that changed, in recent years? Anyone?

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Johann » 12 Apr 2002 13:37

ok as promised.

The above post covered planned CAS requests. The aircraft after receiving the ATO will at a certain control point intitiate contact with the FAC, airborne (typically a Gazelle helicopter in the British Army) or on the ground (usually with lead recce elements) on the air direction net identifying him/herslf by callsign. The FAC guides the aircraft to the target, and most crucially gives the status of friendly forces near the target. Where possible the FAC marks the target with smoke or even better with a laser. If clear the FAC clears the aircraft for release of ordnance. After impact FAC provides battle damage assessment to the pilot. This might result in another pass, a new CAS request, or return to base along a preset corridor.

If there is an immediate unanticipated need for CAS it will most likely come from battalion level and below. The request might go up the command radio net to Coy commander or Bn HQ and then from the ALO/FAC to the TACC. Alternatively air requests may go from the Forward Observer or FAC straight to the TACC on the special air request radio net, which is monitored by FSCC which will make an objection if there are higher priorities elsewhere. Air requests include information on the nature of the target and what is needed, location of friendly forces, time on target, and if necessary armament requested, frequency & callsigns, etc.

The TACC is the one faced with the hard decision of whether it can approve the request or not. They will have to bump existing mission(s) of aircraft in transit to accomodate request if they cant generate a sortie in time. Unplanned CAS requests always receive priority, and are handled under a different, shorter set of procedures. TACC hands over control of the mission to the ASOC/ALO/FAC (depending on what is available) which looks at airspace/target deconfliction. Once again the FAC briefs the incoming aircraft and guides the terminal leg of the mission. In a truly desperate situation the FAC might bypass TACC and simply shout out on aircraft UHF/VHF channels to aircraft in the area.

As you can see the command and control is complicated with so many radio nets involved. It takes carefully developed procedures, tight radio discipline, lots of training, practice and teamwork to get it to work its magic. There is a heavy reliance on voice communications, especially between FAC and pilot. The FAC has to be in a spot with good reception, and good visibility if he is to do his job well. As you pointed out the Sree the system has evolved in WW2 and through NATO to be quite multinational. We might have British FACs (SF or otherwise) making requests to a largely American staffed TACC, and directing French jets with in support of Italian forces. However there is always room for improvement. The goal is to get the right amount of force to the right target on time, *without* sacrificing safety of blue forces. GPS, laser designators and precision guided munitions have been a big help in that regard. Avoiding friendly fire in fast moving battlefields with friendlies, neutral forces, civvies and and bad guys all mixed up is still a real challenge. As in any complex system, there are failures from time to time, and in the age of CNN they will make it to the news.

In the UK Army, Royal Marine and RAF personnel are trained together in the FAC role. ALO and GLOs go through another specialised course. laser target operators through another. The Army Air Corps gets most of them. Others trained as FACs generally belong to the fire support community. Royal Artillery regiments associated with light spearhead forces such as Marines and Paras, and specialised surveillence and targetting artillery units get the lions share of the remainder. The Special Forces are slo extensively trained in this role. Any battle group or smaller force deploying to an area and lacking trained FACs will be augmented by a Tactical Air Control Parties (TACPs) to do the job for them.

NATO today is in a lucky position that it generally has the luxury of fighting and winning the offensive counter-air war *before* the ground war, so finding room for CAS isnt the challenge it might have been. In a confrontation over Pakistani soil the IA may not enjoy that advantage

That concludes tonights briefing. Any questions? :)

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Jagan » 12 Apr 2002 21:24

At least one post-independence IAF gallantry award went to an officer serving as an FAC, who came into direct contact with the enemy in that role. And Sam Shah's original website made a brief reference to his having served as an FAC in the '65 war, and having seen hand-to-hand combat in that role. So FACs may have operated at something like battalion or even company level
A tidbit. Make that atleast three Vir Chakras (L F Periera, Sanjeev Rao and someone whom i cant recall on top of mind) to FAC Officers. Atleast one FAC Officer was killed (L F Periera) during the 71 fighting. Another was taken POW (H N D Mulla Feroze). So possibly it gives an idea on the close proximity to the frontline with which the FAC Officers operate.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Johann » 12 Apr 2002 21:55

FACs have to be able to see the enemy to do their job properly. Preferrably that means sitting on a ridgeline with a pair of binoculars, but often as not it means sharing trenches with the infantry on the forward edge of battle. The 'F' after all stands for 'Forward'.

Given that the question is how high up the IA & IAF command nets does the coy. or bn. commanders unplanned request have to go before it is approved, and how long will it take? Preferrably minutes rather than hours. What are his chances of having it approved?

It took 2 years for both the USAAF and RAF to get serious about CAS during WW2, and it takes constant pressure from the ground forces to get them to continue to stay serious about it. Ever since the days of Douhet air force types have dreamed of *directly* winning wars by hitting the right combination of strategic targets. CAS has come a long way but its still seen as something of an unfortunate but essential chore. Air Forces will loudly complain of being ill-used if more than a certain % of missions are 'tank plinking'. We saw that in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. You think they would have been thrilled given that in those campaigns allied ground forces were supporting airpower rather than the other way around. The fixation is on 'strategic' targets; bridges, C3I networks, HQs, infrastructure, etc. Of course they dont mind going after tactical targets like airfields, radars and SAM batterys.

The fear of being little more than 'flying artillery' in support of the army I felt has always been a silly one after the establishment of independant air arms. Artillery will always be more reliable than airpower for the same given range. It can put a round down where we want it no matter what the weather or the SAM environment. CAS will always be supplementary, to meet an enemy surge, deal with armour if attack helicopters are overwhelmed, or to step in if circumstances make artillery unavailable

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sree » 13 Apr 2002 15:05

Johann, thanks a million for that briefing -- I think you're a lot clearer -- and one heckuva lot more informative -- than Rear-Adm Stufflebeem! (Who's the UK equivalent?)

And Jagan, thanks as always for the authoritative detail. (Mebbe I should get into the habit of checking with you before posting!)

As before, anyone have anything on the Indian Army's equivalent processes?

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Johann » 14 Apr 2002 09:40

Sree,Lt.Gen Sir Anthony Piggott is J-3 for the UK. However the Chief of the Defence Staff himself (Admiral Sir Michael Boyce) has handled most of the news conferences for 9-11 related operations.

Perhaps someone can invite 'Balderdash' formerly of the IAF and now of AFM forum to comment on CAS in the IA/IAF environment.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Johann » 16 Apr 2002 07:12

From Response Options: Future of Indian Air Power Vision 2020 written Jan 2001 by Air Cmde. RV Phadke, IDSA Senior Fellow (my bolding):

Instead of entering into a futile debate on whether or not the IAF will provide CAS let us see the dynamics of it. The Americans see CAS as an integrated operation with the aim of furthering the design of the ground forces in a manner that their vulnerability is reduced. Do we see it that way? Some suggest that while CAS missions are used to support troops when they come under enemy fire, air strikes are used to attack opposition forces directly and (independently?) regardless of whether they are posing an immediate threat to own troops.8 In India however CAS is seen as a prerequisite to soften the opposition ground forces before an attack is launched. In other words air power is used as airborne artillery. It will be evident that 'Airspace Management' assumes critical importance in such scenarios. Pure CAS may even have to be left to armed helicopters once air superiority has been attained. These (the armed helicopters) would, however, have to be protected from the threat of shoulder fired SAMs of the Stinger variety. Fixed-wing fighters and attack aircraft can then fly above at higher altitudes with the AWACs giving them the necessary early warning and protection. This may, however, need a revamp of the existing air support organisation so that it can respond more correctly and meaningfully and of course more rapidly to emerging situations. Some feel that a two-star air force representative at the Corps HQ may prove helpful but only if we change our thinking.
So there are major conceptual differences in the employment of CAS (assuming the author isnt trying to make the IA look unreasonable) between NATO and Indian forces. NATO doctrine employs CAS only when artillery fires can not be adequately massed for whatever reason against the *engaged* enemy. It might be in the course of the engagement or the prelude.

Perhaps the upgrades to the IA artillery C3I and the eventual induction of Pinaka will encourage changes in the way it depends on the IAF.

- The paper many interesting insights in particular on the thinking behind the planned IAF expansion in order to provide an enhanced (10 Sqns worth) capability for over the horizon "coercion, deterrence and punishment". This is where the MKIs and the possible M2K purchase come in.

I have to say that the Air Commodore has some unfortunately conservative and status quoist views in this paper on the missions of airpower , and here on why it would be a terrible idea to change the ways in which India's defence is organised and managed.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sukumar » 16 Apr 2002 09:01

Johann, airforces world wide have a fear of their mission being subordinated to being the air support arm of the army.

The USAF for one has always tried to stress the strategic war winning capability of air power (quite well demonstrated since Desert Storm) and has always shied away from CAS. So much so that the A-10 which is a classic CAS aircraft came too late, was unpopular from a career perspective and is being phased out without a real replacement.

I am therefore not surprised at the air commodore's stance. The latest tussle between the IA and IAF over the strategic forces is not going to make anything better either. Unified commands and the concept of unified operations filtering down to the lowest levels should make things better.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Roop » 16 Apr 2002 12:42

The USAF for one has always tried to stress the strategic war winning capability of air power (quite well demonstrated since Desert Storm) and has always shied away from CAS.
In NATO, the "dirty" and dangerous job of low-level CAS flying was assigned to the RAF and the Luftwaffe.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Johann » 16 Apr 2002 22:12

I absolutely support the need for a dedicated and independant force that can use airpower in a strategic manner - recce, strike and mobility. The other side of the coin is that I expect 'tactical' obligations to the ground forces to be fully met - after all the same air forces would be throroughly unhappy to see armies operating fixed wing attack aircraft. The Gulf war showed airpower was essential in disrupting and degrading enemy airpower, C3I and transportation networks - keeping the troops in the field uninformed, physically isolated, hungry and low on fuel and ammo. But when it came to actually neutralising defensive positions, personnel and vehicles Iraqi PoWs uniformly claimed that MLRS and 155mm arty fires were the real killers. As I've already said the USAF has fully met its CAS responsibilities, although grudgingly. BTW since the Gulf war all the O/A-10 pilots (mostly young captains) that I know actually requested their assignments. The A-10 was designed for a very specific set of operational conditions which dont exist anymore. Afghanistan has shown that today with the right munitions, right C3I and of course FACs even a B-52 can provide highly effective CAS!

No, my comments were based on the *complete* absence of the 'joint' word, (except to rubbish it in the second paper) and the refusal to even list CAS/BAI among the core IAF missions.

What I'm really interested in discussing is the massive IAF strike expansion. Clearly the GoI must have bought this vision to fund it. Where does this planned ability to 'coerce, deter and punish' fit in with overall military strategy and grand strategy? Kosovo style campaigns on Pakistan? Is the 'deter' part conventional?

If its nuclear deterrence he speaks of, does the IAF need to maintain anything other than an emergency ability to deliver nuclear weapons by manned aircraft, given that

a)an Indian nuclear response will be second strike and counter value
b)a technologically mature quick reaction MRBM (Agni-I)of adequate range is available

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sukumar » 17 Apr 2002 04:21

Johann, good overall observation. These are some of my inferences watching the Indian military scene.

Compared to the Brasstacks type scenarios of the 80s, given the fact that Pakistan (the main military enemy) has nukes and has advertised possible usage in the face of major Indian military gains in the first few days of a war, Indian military thought seems to revolve around:

1. Inflicting major damage to Paki military and economic infrastructure rather than huge territorial gains and cutting Pakistan in two
2. This is reflected in the formation of artillery divisions, the focus on buying more powerful saturation weapons (155mm howitzers, MLRS etc) and the IAF's focus on inflicting large scale strategic and tactical losses on the enemy
3. Short duration war with major losses inflicted on the enemy short of reaching a threshold for the use of nukes
4. On the nuke front, the objective seems to be the ability to build a deterrent - to absorb a possible first strike and retaliate with a massive counterstrike with Prithvis, Agnis and the IAF

Any thoughts ?

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Johann » 17 Apr 2002 07:32

Indian military thought seems to revolve around:

1. Inflicting major damage to Paki military and economic infrastructure rather than huge territorial gains and cutting Pakistan in two
That seems a likely use of the enhanced strike capability when (or if) its operationalised. Coerce, Punish or deter without actually threatening the suvival of the state.

For now the preferred option it seems would be to initiate quick, highly localised but decisive 'teach-a-lesson' operations on the Pakistanis, and using conventional deterrence (backed by nuclear deterrence) to dissuade the Pakistanis from geographically escalating their response. A bit like Kargil, except on the Pakistanis side. Operations might be aimed at PA formations along the IB, or rearranging sections of the LoC to Indian benefit.

The projected 60 sqn force structure sketched out by Phadke frees up significantly more aircraft for air defence/air superiority than the present. I dont think the idea is so much as to safeguard Indian skies as is implied-there would have been more on enhancing ADGES,airbase expansion and construction, etc. The goal I suspect is to establish air superiority over *Pakistani* airspace in something like 72 hrs without a life-or-death struggle, and still be able to escort all of those new strike aircraft to the expanded target set you alluded to.

Another thing the article obliquely touches on is that the IAF is worried over how its going to meet the manpower demands of such a substantially larger force, given the problems of retention today. A suggestion is made for common selection and training of all MoD, Home Ministry and RAW aircrew, and some level of cordination in fleet acquisition, support and servicing.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Rudra » 17 Apr 2002 08:24

...in other words, moving towards a capability
to use the Baxter Doctrine.

However, the pig-sized fly in the ointment is
new delhi's proclivity to wag its tail and be
a docile cow if a couple of phone calls from D.C.
are received. Even to the point of moving formations back to please the Emperor.

I doubt 10000 MKIs can fix that problem.

We shall see, come autum if J&K is back to the
"usual" I shall write a final epitaph to the
ruling cabal, become a card carrying Cong(I)
member and even consider that full-schol offer
from the binur madrassa.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Y I Patel » 17 Apr 2002 20:56

Johann, what follows is probably wild speculation, but it's my attempt at answering your question about the proposed expansion of strike capabilities. There seem to be two major driving factors: the need to defend against PLAAF; and the desire to pull a "Moked" on Paks nuclear forces.

We have already seen that the MiG-27 upgrades include Komar pods to make them air combat capable. Likewise, the Mig21 UPGs have multirole capability - this would permit faster switching of forces between eastern and western theatres, and thus give an added measure of insuarance against Chinese intervention in an Indo-Pak conflict. But more importantly, an increased multi-role capability would allow a really massive conventional disabling strike against Pak nuclear forces.

In support of my hunch, I would offer the Indian tendency to move very slowly - the gap between India's nuclear tests; between liqid fuelled Prithvi and solid fueled Agnis; between Sundarji's advocacy of massed armoured thrusts and the actual acquisition of needed capabilites; are but a few indicators of the speed with which India accretes desired capabilities. So I believe that while no one has said it aloud yet, there exists a strong feeling that one day the imperative to take out Paks nukes will become unavoidable.

So has MoD started putting money where its dreams are? Let's see... TES and its successors, in addition to RAW's and IAF's reco assets, will provide an ability to continuously track Pak's nukes. Precision weapons will allow bunker busting raids to take out the nukes, either by themselves, or in conjuntion with an SF raid. But any such raid would require unassailable air superiority and an unstoppable strike force that would simultaneously take out all facilities - much as Israel knocked out Egypt's air force through Op Moked. Hence, IMWildO, the need to significantly boost IAF's strike/multi role capability.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sukumar » 18 Apr 2002 08:29

I think this thread has veered away and to some extent overlapped with the strategic discussion thread. To bring it back to its original intent:

Does any one know if there are any other Air Operations Groups (AOGs) in the IAF other than the Nothern AOG overseeing J & K ? If yes then the AOG is indeed part of the IAF hierarchical structure. If not then it is a mini air command possibly heading towards becoming a full fledged one.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Peeyoosh » 18 Apr 2002 22:16

Johann

The 60 squadron force may me more along the lines of wishful thinking than a battleplan. It takes around US$ 1 billion to create a new squadron with 22 aircraft (base, spares, maint. requirements, missiles - a sqaudron load of missiles can be US$ 50 million ++ - SAMs for base protection et al.)

Over the next 12 - 15 years the IAF needs to re-equip around 20 squadrons (Mig 21/23/27/Jags) which will soak up around US$ 15 billion (estimates are US$ 7 billion on the LCA/M2ks, US$ 4 billion on the Su 30 MKI for around 14 squadrons) - almost US$ 1 billin a year - that is pretty much the IAF's capex budget. If they want to add AWACs, In flight refuelling and suchlike, then whatever reamins will go there.

Some numbers - the Indian Defence budget is typically aroind US$ 12 billion - around US$ 3 billion goes to the IAF. Of this US$ 1 billion is for ALL capex. There is no way, on this money the IAF can equip/maintain a 60 squadron force - at the very least the spending would have to DOUBLE - not a very likely event given the fiscal pressures facing India.

My take - that is a dream - the IAF will stay at around 40 offensive squadrons (exluding trainers) and tehse will become a more potent mix, so i doubt much serious planning is being done for a 60 squadron force or its usage.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Jagan » 18 Apr 2002 22:29

Originally posted by R Sukumar:
Does any one know if there are any other Air Operations Groups (AOGs) in the IAF other than the Nothern AOG overseeing J & K ? If yes then the AOG is indeed part of the IAF hierarchical structure.
Sukumar,

There was an AOC, Rajasthan Area during the 1971 War. http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/Awards/awaavsm.htm Look up the entry of Air Cmde Kanwar Singh.

IIRC, the source for the above was from Air Chief Marshal P C Lal's book. My Years with the IAF.

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby JCage » 18 Apr 2002 23:41

I'll leave the finance part to the gurus..but a lot of serious thinking did go into the 50 to 55 sq figure.
The PLAAF reshaping and modernisation figured prominently in that.
The IAF has always faced a lot of shortcomings in its force structure viz the 40 squadron limit.
Namely AIr defense etc.It partially got around it by concentrating on SAM's...we have those 32 sq. for a reason.Another reason for SAM's was,operating short legged russian a/c required f/w airfields which were vulnerable to quick strikes without adequate warning/CAP.
The late 80's -mid 90's saw an alarming slide in all aspects of the services.The IAF i believe got off a bit lightly-compared to say the army,as they were a strategic arm and their manpower didnt soak up the budget to the extent to which the Army's did.But any rate no funds were available for capital acquisition.The SU breakup complicated spares supply and hit serviceability rates,preparedness hard.
Besides which our gents up north extended their logistics trail,went on an airstrip binge,and proceeded to keep the PAF intact numbers wise.
The IAF-dunno if members remember clearly stated-to the parliament-that they could *no longer* hold off both the PAF and the PLAAF as they were expected to.This was in the mid 90's.
This is different from whupping/managing the former and keeping the latter away from air superiority. Which the IAF can do..in the sense of today's situation.
The Su stems clearly from this situation.The fact was that while everyone lauded the IAF for a great deal,few noticed it was inevitable.We needed a/c equivalent to what the Chinese were inducting 1996/pre 96 -the Su27SK's and superior as we neither had the pockets nor the finances to afford the numbers the PLAAF could.So the IAF product had to be qualitatively better than the PLAAF one (as we couldnt match them numbers wise) and affordable by itself for we couldnt have purchased any worthwhile numbers anyway.
Basically the M2K was out for this reason.It was inferior -range,avionics,performance to the SK and the "next" variants-chinese lic. produced,reengineered which the PLAAF would be having.And it was expensive.
Hence,the IAF went for the Su30 converted into the MKI.At the time they went for something reasonable technologically,not totally unproven.For example even the No11M was from the Zaslon lineage and was being trialled(as compared to the tech "ahead" -but performance wise inferior -AESA Zhuk which wasnt validated),the concept of super manoueuverability did exist (even if only in Airshows),the French and Israelis were proven to have a track record in making reliable and state of the art avionics and INS systems as well as EW eqpt ..and at the end ,it was a chance for the Indian avionics guys to put their hat in the ring.And yes, a positive learning experience.

Given the horrible mess that resulted from the SU breakup and spares imbroglios,the IAF ensured that a deep licence was included.Only then was licence production cleared.And yes,despite their umpteen "faults",they are a reliable ally.
What else did the IAF have per options?The Rafale?Too expensive.Yet to be validated.The Typhoon?Couldnt trust the entire consortium to be poltically reliable.Same cost and validity issues as the Rafale.The Gripen?Not in the Su class at all,but the F16/Mirage class.American involvement to boot.America?..dont even look there.Mirage 2000.not in the Su class....

Only option was to go with the russians and make them give something qualitatively SUPERIOR to the SK and any variant in the futureThey were on the mark.Look at the numbers(Su27SK's,J11's,SU30's) being thrown about.Twice the Su30MKI's planned at any rate.More than that perhaps.
..Hence the MKI.Yes,it had the technical doubts associated with the two euro canards.tech complexity etc...but what choice did the IAF have?
The fact that they pulled it off (convincing the russians despite having zillions of dollars to be paid back from previous deals) was a testament to their foresight and commitment.

And before we forget,the russians *are* India's friends.They had us by our balls in one sense but they didnt force us to do as they wished.They could have done a lot of things...and not done more.But they did stand by us..again.

Back to the 50/55 squadron thing...

Despite the MKI and the IAF upgrades(they did stem from the force imbalance),the IAF had less airframes for any attrition prone effort.SAM's-as previously stated-used to cover AD lacunae-were increasingly vulnerable to EWand PGM attacks.In fact,even the LGB stand off ranges approach those of SA8's.Any all out attack on the "enemy" force structure -namely AD n/w- a la ODS-preceding the land battle would be exceedingly expensive.Uncontrolled attrition or even selective attrition could knock off the IAF from the zone.And yes,given the "doctrine"/vision the pilots and the aircrew can be built up to needful numbers.

Hence,they finally want the "ceiling" on a 44 combat sq force to disappear.
The upgrades are meant to allow existing a/c to soldier on,till even trickle feed supplies of newer eqpt can replace them.The acquisition of force multipliers is one thing,but it can never supplant nor compensate for a lack of adequate airframes.The upgrades also give the IAF combat enhancement-viz PGM delivery etc and flexibility.The use of MiG27's as interim AD platforms for eg.

There are many more issues to be concerned..eg wrt the M2K .but i'll stop here.

Regards,
Nitin

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Sukumar » 19 Apr 2002 00:00

Originally posted by Jagan:
Originally posted by R Sukumar:
[b] Does any one know if there are any other Air Operations Groups (AOGs) in the IAF other than the Nothern AOG overseeing J & K ? If yes then the AOG is indeed part of the IAF hierarchical structure.
Sukumar,

There was an AOC, Rajasthan Area during the 1971 War. http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/Awards/awaavsm.htm Look up the entry of Air Cmde Kanwar Singh.

IIRC, the source for the above was from Air Chief Marshal P C Lal's book. My Years with the IAF.[/b]
Jagan, it is my understanding that under an AOC in C (usually Air Marshal) in charge of an air command, there are AOCs (Air Vice Marshals or below) in charge of different areas/functions, air bases. The current South Western Air Command (SWAC) used to be an AOG called Group 2 (I think) before it became a full fledged command.

My question is - if the IAF has Air Operations Groups like the one in charge of J & K OR sees AOGs as just a stepping stone to eventually upgrade to a full air command. If the latter is the case then the answer to this thread is that the IAF's functional organization is an Air Command with many squadrons. If the former is the answer then the IAF's functional organization is an Air Command with many AOGs each with many squadrons.

Anybody know ?

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby Johann » 19 Apr 2002 01:16

Sukumar, do you mind if this turns into an IAF airpower discussion thread? there are a lot of good posts on this thread that dont really fit anywhere else. This way the thread stays above the water line, and if someone who can answer your question comes along later they're more likely to see it.

Vikram, Peyoosh, Nitin this is all pulling together nicely. I'll post a summary with follow on questions on this thread if I can

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby kgoan » 19 Apr 2002 03:40

Nitin, can I ask you a favour? Apologies, but I'm going to ask you to do some extra work, if you have the time.

The problem is that frequently, when the economic aspects of these things are discussed, those who know the economics tend to know bug all about the technical aspects, (*cough* CAG *cough*).

OTOH those of you who know the technical aspects tend to steer clear of the economics, making it a tad difficult for ignoramuses, like yours truly for example, to understand whats going on.

So I went looking for something and found the following site.

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/bu2/AMCM.html.

This site is a NASA site that aims to understand the economics of developing fighters, missiles, production craft etc. But the key bit is that it's for the technical minded.

So, what I want to ask is: Can you have a look around the site and see if you can come up with some estimates based on your technical expertise?

The site may not be much help if it's too biased towards US stuff, or it might just be useless, I don't know. But anything you can do with the economic aspect would be muchly appreciated.

Note: If you can't that's cool. Don't feel as if the education of all your BR comrades would suffer or anything, making it harder for us to argue against dimwits, Paks etc, and thus ensuring that we loose the advantage of large numbers of Indians doing CAP's on various internet fora. Please don't worry about that. No pressure dude. None at all. Really. :)

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Re: IAF Organizational/Functional Structure

Postby JCage » 19 Apr 2002 03:52

KGoan,

Are bhai if i had the time,i'do all that you ask and more :( .I left doing CAP duty for just that reason(Tho Harry and Jagan are busy on ACIG)..In fact,i'd be around looking for some answers to q's which vex me.A lot to do.

So i defer to economics gurus on this one..but will gladly help out as i can.

If you have anything on which i can help,pls feel free to ask,discuss,debate whatever.Pls just give me some time to respond.

Re:The NASA link.Thanks.Great find!!

Re:CAG.As sunil aptly put it...hauling coal for years in a coal mine gives one a severe cough wrt anything out of CAG in a judgemental vein.

The thing is sometimes they're right.Sometimes they go off......so off that its bloody dangerous.
When the Navy starts issuing clarifications...

Sorry for the ramble.

Regards,
Nitin


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