Boat seizure a blessing for Pak crew
Ahmedabad, April 24
The seizure of the Pakistani boat with narcotics worth over Rs 600 crores off the Porbandar coast in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat earlier this week has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for its eight arrested crew members.
They might have been drowned in the high seas if not intercepted by the Indian navy and coast guard in a joint operations as the boat had developed technical snags and was fast sinking, official sources said here today.
Interrogations of the eight crew members arrested from the boat revealed that the contraband was shipped by a Pakistan-based group called Punjabi drug gang and the 232 packages of narcotics was to be delivered to a vessel coming from Dubai but it failed to reach the destination at the appointed time.
The crew members were waiting in the high seas for over two-and-a-half days for the vessel from Dubai to arrive and it was during that period that the boat developed technical snags and started sinking. Its water pumping system failed and the crew members had to manually drain out water but the task was going to be beyond their capacity.
Sources in the Gujarat police, which is one of the 20 agencies jointly interrogating the arrested crew who were brought to Porbandar, said the group looked to be unprofessional in drugs operation.
“Otherwise they would not have ventured out with such a rickety boat and untrained crew members,” the sources said. The contraband carried by it was also of relatively inferior quality.
The boat, Al Yazir, had set out from Karachi’s Hyderi Port on April 12 with two crewmen and 232 packets of narcotics. Six others hopped in later at Ketty Bandar some 150 km south of Karachi.
Soon after starting from Ketty port, the boat’s radiator and dynamo conked off and the crew had to take shelter at a small creek a few miles away for two days till the captain managed to get the boat repaired.
20,000 combat troops test battle readiness
Tribune News service
Chandigarh/New Delhi, April 24
To hone its combat skills and validate its strike capabilities, Ambala-based Kharga Corps, the Army’s premier strike formation, is conducting a major field exercise in the Suratgarh sector of Rajasthan.
Code-named “Brahmashira”, the exercise will involve over 20,000 combat troops along with all affiliated components as well as air support by the Indian Air Force.
The exercise would test the battle readiness and operational effectiveness of the strike formation and involve seamless integration of land and air elements as part of the Integrated Theatre Battle Concept.
Conceptualised by the Kharga Corps under aegis of the Western Command, Brahmashira aims at rapid mobilisation and launching speedy multiple offensives deep into the enemy territory. The manoeuvres being rehearsed will allow the Army formations to break through multiple obstacles within a restricted time frame. The focus of the exercise will be on new and efficient ways of fighting a war in a synergised battlefield.
The exercise envisages mechanised manoeuvres with an entire spectrum of new generation equipment, including major weapon platforms. These combat manoeuvres also co-opt a significant contribution from the fighter/ground attack aircraft of the IAF, unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely piloted vehicles and attack and utility helicopters.
Will women be able to pass the Army's elite Ranger School?
WASHINGTON -- Of the 399 soldiers who started Ranger training this week, 19 of them were women, marking the first time the notoriously tough course has been opened to females.
They're going through it together but while watching them you can pick out the women -- their hair is closely cropped while the men's heads are shaved. The Army wouldn't allow us to identify or talk to the women.
The women tend to be smaller than the men -- but that didn't matter when it came to the battle carry. This is just the first week of a 62-day course designed to replicate the constant stress, lack of food and sleep deprivation of combat.
The armed services are under orders to open up all their ground combat unites by the end of the year - or give the Secretary of Defense a reason why not. For the Army that meant opening up their grueling Ranger School to women to see if they can make it through.
Less than half the men can be expected to make it all the way through. No one knows how the women will do.
First they have to pass a fitness test which includes a five mile run in 40 minutes and 49 push-ups in two minutes. The officers in charge of the course say the women themselves have insisted that standards not be lowered to accommodate them.
A 12-mile foot march has to be completed in three hours. If you don't make it, you're out. During the march they carry 35 pound packs -- eventually they will have to haul up to 115 pounds.
After four days, 184 men and eight women were left. In percentage terms that's pretty close to equal. In the end, making the grade -- man or woman -- will come down to wanting it, really wanting it.
Even if the women pass the course, they won't be allowed to serve in the Ranger Regiment because it is still off limits to women.