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Saturday, 19 April 2014

From Today's Papers - 19 Apr 2014

Superseded Vice-Admiral wants justice or retirement
Finding new Vice-Chief to be Admiral Dhowan’s priority
KV Prasad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 18
New Chief of Naval Staff Admiral RK Dhowan has his priorities clearly laid out. These include boosting morale of the force whose image has taken a beating following a spate of accidents and look for a new deputy-the Vice-Chief.

Admiral Dhowan still holds the charge as the Vice-Chief, a post to which he was appointed in August 2011. He needs to take a call on whether to move one of the three remaining Vice-Admirals into the office or bring in someone from the next in line of succession and groom him.

The position altered after Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha, the senior-most serving Vice-Admiral whom the new Navy Chief superseded, put in his papers last evening.

(A PTI report said upset over being superseded for the post of Navy Chief, Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha has filed a complaint with the Defence Ministry and said if “justice” was not done to him, he would take voluntary retirement.

In his letter to the ministry, he has reportedly complained against being overlooked for appointment to the top post. Sinha has also told the government if “justice” cannot be done to him, he should be given voluntary retirement.)

Admiral Sinha, who is currently the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Command, will have to wait till a new person is identified to take the charge even as his application is put through the process by the Navy.

Of the others senior Vice-Admirals, Eastern Commander Anil Chopra is scheduled to retire in March 2015, Southern Commander Satish Soni in February 2016 and SPS Cheema (who heads the Integrated Command) also around the same time.

Those next in the line of succession include Vice-Admiral Sunil Lanba, Commandant of National Defence College, and his successor as the Eastern Chief of Staff, Admiral Bimal Verma.

With the Chief having identified his priorities, former naval officers re-emphasise that maintenance and training remain the key to ensuring that the platforms, both ageing and new, serve the force to the optimum capacity.

Captain Alok Bansal (retd), who is now with the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, said maintenance of ageing fleet would be a challenge for Admiral Dhowan.

“Due to resource crunch in the 1990s, the procurement process was held up and the challenge for the new Chief will be to overcome the bureaucratic delays,” he said.

Commander Ranjit Rai (retd), who was Admiral Dhowan’s boss in the Directorate of Naval Operations in the 1980s, said the new Chief had never headed an operational command, but that would not be any handicap.

Don’t appoint Army Chief before May 16: BJP

Amid reports that the Defence Ministry has initiated the process of appointing Vice-Chief of the Army Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag as the next Army Chief, the BJP on Friday sounded a word of caution to the government and asked it to avoid taking decisions till elections were over. Present Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh retires on July 31. “On the larger issue of naming the next General and reports about Lokpal appointment, we expect that when we are in the midst of elections, at least till May 16 all these things must be avoided,” said BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad. — PTI
Indian Army commanders to meet to discuss Afghanistan
Outgoing army chief General Bikram Singh will take stock of impact drawdown of Allied forces from Afghanistan and possible measures to counter threat arising from that country with his top commanders during Army Commanders Conference, scheduled to begin from next Monday in New Delhi.

Defence minister AK Antony, who has the distinction of being the longest-serving defence minister of the country, will also address the top commanders for the last time in UPA-II government.
According to army, the security as well as intelligence agencies are keeping a close watch on the developments in trouble-torn fragile Afghanistan. And especially after pullout of US led allied forces from there by the end of 2014.

"Various operational and strategic issues will be discussed during the five-day-long conference. Developments in neighbouring countries especially Afghanistan will also be part of the discussion,"said an officer.

Keeping in view of drawdown of US-led forces from Afghanistan in 2014, Indian Army is also providing training to Afghanistan National Army (ANA). According to to army, Army is targeting to train about 1100 Afghan troops by the end of 2014, as compared to 574 personnel training in last year. Though New Delhi has not decided on the request of Afghanistan government to provide them lethal weapons, but they are considering an option send first batch of Indian experts and officers to Afghanistan to give training to ANA in their backyard and their home conditions. Training in their locations and terrain would given them an edge as compared to training here in Indian conditions.

Five day Army Commanders Conference, beginning from April 21, will also discuss security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the issue of incursions by Chinese troops in Indian territory.

The issue of incursion by the Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control is expected to come up for discussion, Army officials said.

The Indian side will also discuss the issues to be raised by the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) during the delegation-level parleys with his Chinese counterpart starting April 23.

The LAC has seen several incidents of face-offs between Indian and Chinese troops and the two sides have signed a border pact recently to avoid the possibility of a flare-up between their troops while carrying out patrolling.

Meanwhile, the meeting is also expected to take up the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the expected rise in infiltration and activities by terrorists in the coming months
BJP will make army training compulsory: VK Singh
Former Indian Army chief General VK Singh (retd) on Wednesday, while lauding the role of jawans belonging to Himachal Pradesh, said that the BJP would make army training in educational institutes compulsory if it came to power.

While talking to Hindustan Times here on Wednesday, he said there was a need to give more representation to the youth brigade of Himachal Pradesh in Indian forces to strengthen their morale.

He talked about the shortage of forces at the officers’ and jawans’ level and said that all vacant posts should be filled up on priority basis. He said that he had sent a proposal to the central government to introduce courses in schools and colleges to prepare youngsters for the Indian forces.

“However, that proposal has been dumped by a section of bureaucracy not interested in the welfare of Indian people and jawans. We will try to make army training compulsory in educational institutions once the BJP comes to power,” said Singh.

The former Army General said that though personally he was not in favor of creation of more regiments on regional basis, yet there was a need for the restructuring of the regiments and to “bid good bye to the present system of recruitment in Indian forces”.

“The present system had harmed the cause of many states including Himachal Pradesh,” he added.
The former Army chief said that the reports of military coups by the Indian army as reported in a section of media was not based on facts and was purely on basis of hearsay.

“I had sent my reply and report to the Union government, but without any result. Now I’m planning to file a criminal case against the paper once the election process is over,” he added.

He said that his aim to join the BJP was to end corruption from the Indian polity and provide a viable alternative to the Congress party that had “harmed the cause of India too much”.

“India had suffered much under the Congress rule and this party should be ousted from the Indian polity forever,” said Singh.

Talking about the announcement of ‘one rank, one pension’ by the central government, he said, “The reported announcement was made in haste and without any budget. Rahul Gandhi had done nothing but lied to the people,” added the former general.

He said that the Aam Aadmi party had done no service to the family of Param Vir Chakra winner Vikram Batra by fielding his mother Kamla Kanta Batra in the Lok sabha election from Hamirpur.

“Instead, such families deserve emotional support and respect rather than dragging them into politics,” said Singh.

BJP will make army training compulsory: VK Singh
Apex court in India rejects plea to probe Indian army's involvement in Sri Lanka war
 Apr 17, New Delhi: India's Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea for a probe by a Special Investigation Team into the alleged role of the Indian Army in Sri Lanka's war.

A two-judge bench dismissing the plea by Ram Sankar, an advocate and human rights activist said the issue is beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

"There are issues which are absolutely beyond the domain of the court and this is one of them," the bench said.

Sankar filed the petition saying that a probe was necessary since the U.N. Secretary General's expert panel report implicates Indian armed forces for their involvement with the Sri Lankan army in alleged war crimes against Tamil civilians, including persons of Indian origin.

The petitioner has alleged that the Indian government deployed its Army in Sri Lanka without the authority and approval of the President of India and without the sanction of Parliament.

He has claimed that there was no provision in the Indian Constitution for permitting the use of the Indian Army for any purpose in a foreign soil other than for the defence of India.

Indian army's peace keeping force (IPKF) was performing a peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990. The IPKF withdrew from Sri Lanka after it suffered heavy casualties at the hands of the Tamil Tiger terrorist organization LTTE.
‘Defence ties between India and Singapore growing steadily’
 Singapore, April 18: 

Defence relationship between India and Singapore has been growing steadily and it includes the three defence services, Indian High Commissioner to Singapore has said.

“Our defence relationship has been growing steadily,” Indian High Commissioner to Singapore Vijay Thakur Singh had said yesterday pointing out the visits by the Chairmanship of the Staff Committee and Chief of Army in January, Chief of Air Staff’s visit in February, the Director General of Coast Guard and Indian Coast Guard Ship Sagar visits in March to Singapore.

Visit of training squadron

She highlighted the training interaction between the two countries and welcomed the visit of Flag Officer commanding-in-Chief South Naval Command, Vice-Admiral Satish Soni, and the first training squadron to Singapore.

“The visit of the training squadron is significant because training is one of the most enduring and the strength of the defence cooperation between India and Singapore,” she said during a reception hosted on board Indian Naval Ship Sujata at Changi Naval Base, which was attended by the officers from Singapore navy and diplomatic guests.

“Our training interaction goes to the early days of establishment of our diplomatic relations which would complete 50 years next year,” Singh said.

She also said that India-Singapore defence cooperation covers defence research and development.

“Visits from Singapore defence services were also regular, and two of them are in the final stages of planning,” she said.

Vice-Admiral Soni and naval ships, INS Gharial, INS Sujata, INS Sudarshini and Indian Coast Guard Ship Varuna are on a goodwill visit to the region.

The First Training Squadron’s next port of call would be Phuket in Thailand and Yangon in Myanmar.
Army Rally Promoting National Integration

At 7.20 Wednesday morning, Brigadier Samir Salunke, Commander of the Military Station, Pangode here, flagged off an expedition which would traverse more than 2,000 kilometres across south India promoting national integration and motivating youngsters to join the Indian Army.

The nine-day Dakshin Maitrey Rally (Multimode South India Adventure cum Perception Management Rally) is being conducted to mark the 50th Raising Day of the 96 Field Regiment.

The rally is being led by Lieutenant Anurag Varma, and consists of one Junior Commissioned Officer and ten soldiers of the regiment. The rally will traverse different parts of the four southern states using the modes of motorcycle, cycle and backwater rafting and culminate at Secunderabad after covering 2,100 km in nine days, a Defence spokesperson said.

The 96 Field Regiment, which is an artillery regiment, has its headquarters in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

‘’Apart from promoting a spirit of adventure, the rally is aimed at promoting national integration and motivating the youth of south India to join the armed forces. It will also be reaching out to the ex-servicemen and next of kin of valiant martyrs to render all possible support,’’ the spokesperson said.

En route, the team will organise road shows and seminars to sensitise rural youth about the role of the Indian Army and career opportunities in the armed forces.

Military Station Deputy Commander Colonel C S Unnithan, 7 Madras Regiment Commanding Officer Col Dushyant Jolly and other officers were present at the flag-off function held at the 19 JAK Regiment Ground.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

From Today's Papers - 17 Apr 2014

 Rising defence spending
India, in top 10 big spenders, needs indigenisation

The latest report on world military expenditure for 2013, prepared by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), serves as a grim reminder of the huge quantum of money that continues to be spent on defence the world over and also how many countries remain either smitten by power, control and force projection or ridden with suspicion, fear, tensions and small wars and insurgencies. In 2013 alone, most countries put together spent as much as $1.75 trillion or $ 1,747 billion to keep their respective countries secure. The overall figure would in fact be higher considering that data from several countries was not available while some other countries such as China and other authoritarian regimes are quite likely to have suppressed the actual amount spent on defence.

India, with its major modernisation programme underway, remains among the top 10 spenders although it fell to the ninth position from eighth in 2012 as the world’s highest defence spender. Of particular concern to India and the South and South-East Asian region is the fact that China has increased its defence spending by 7.4 per cent to touch $ 180 billion making it the world’s second highest defence spender after the United States of America. Russia figures at the third place. A surprise high spender is Saudi Arabia, which has leapfrogged over the UK, Japan and France to have doubled its defence spending since 2004 and become the world’s fourth largest spender to touch $67 billion.

Saudi Arabia’s 14 per cent increase in defence spending is indicative of the instability that currently exists in the oil rich Gulf and Middle East region where tensions exist between Saudi Arabia and Iran, between Saudi Arabia and Qatar and also Riyadh’s need to maintain strong and loyal security forces to insure against potential ‘Arab Spring’ type protests. Even the smaller emirate of Bahrain has increased its defence spending by 26 per cent possibly to quell any potential for inner opposition. The fact, however, remains that despite India’s high defence spending, the armed forces are still saddled with a considerable amount of antiquated equipment. India remains dependent on imports from foreign nations for its armed forces, which hardly augurs well for a country that aims to be a military power to reckon with. New Delhi needs to work seriously on attaining a higher degree of indigenisation.
 IAF copter ferries Ladakh kids, teachers to school

In what is a major help for schoolchildren of the remote Zanskar-Padam region of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Air Force has adopted a few villages and is providing helicopter services for the children and teachers, saving them the treacherous ‘chaddar trek’ over the Zanskar river that freezes in winter.

The 114 Helicopter Unit at Leh, working jointly with Rigzin Spalbar, Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, has ensured that the students and teachers are airlifted -- twice a year -- in an IAF helicopter to reach their schools at Leh and back home to the Zanskar-Padam region.

Earlier, the ‘chaddar’ trek over the frozen Zanskar river was the only and a dangerous way for children and teachers of the area to reach Leh. The valley remains cut off from the main road access for more than eight months in a year.

Top-level changes soon in Northern Command

New commanders will soon assume charge of all the three corps in Northern Command, the Army’s most-active operational command.

Lt Gen K Himalaya Singh will be taking over as General Officer Commanding (GOC), 16 Corps, at Nargota this week. Commissioned into 2 Rajput, he had commanded 27 Rajput during the 1999 Kargil war for which he was decorated with the Yudh Seva Medal.

He also commanded 25 Infantry Division at Rajouri before moving as Chief of Staff (COS) of the Bhopal-based 21 Corps, a strike formation.

The GOC of 21 Corps and a cavalry officer, Lt Gen Amit Sharma, moved as COS, South Western Command, Jaipur, a few days ago. Sources said that Major General BS Negi, who commanded the Uniform force in Jammu and Kashmir and is presently GOC, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh Area, is tipped to take over as GOC, 14 Corps, at Leh.

Major General Subroto Saha, who commanded the 22 Infantry Division and is serving as Additional Director General Military Operations at the Army Headquarters is tipped to take over as GOC, 15 Corps, in Srinagar. Both officers are from the Assam Regiment and have been approved for the rank of Lieutenant General.

The incumbent GOC, 15 Corps, Lt General Gurmeet Singh is expected to move as Director General Military Intelligence at the Army Headquarters.

Army’s youngest command turns nine

South Western Command, the seventh and the youngest command of the Indian Army, turned nine on April 15. Also known as the Sapta Shakti Command, the Jaipur-based formation has jurisdiction over parts of Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana, which have a high density of serving and retired armed forces personnel.

Created to rationalise troop deployment and plug operational gaps along the western frontier, South Western Command has the unique distinction of being the test bed for the implementation of the Army’s TacC31 (Tactical Command, control, communication and Intelligence) system.

Over the past few years, the command has developed world-class training infrastructure at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges which are utilised in joint exercises with friendly foreign countries like Russia, USA, UK, France, Thailand and Kazakhstan in addition to routine training of the Indian Army.

International recognition for DRDO lab

The Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR), Delhi, has been recognised as an affiliate member of the International Military Testing Association (IMTA) for a duration of three years.

Affiliate membership bestows international recognition and acclamation to DIPR and military testing in India. IMTA is an international organisation that promotes various kinds of military testing and has more than 30 countries as affiliate members.

DIPR, a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory, provides psychological support to the armed forces in selection, training, effective man-machine interface and motivation to enhance mental health and operational efficiency of the armed forces. The laboratory has been a member of IMTA since 2010 and will be hosting the annual convention of IMTA in 2016.
Army, People's Liberation Army celebrate Bihu, Baisakhi
GUWAHATI: The Indian Army and People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China celebrated the harvest festivals of Bihu and Baisakhi at the border post in Arunachal Pradesh's Bum La on Monday.

An Army official said the troops of the two countries celebrating the harvest festivals at the border posts holds immense significance at a time when India and China were holding sixth round of strategic dialogue in Beijing on the same day.

The Indian troops deployed at Bum La invited PLA soldiers for friendly volleyball matches, tug of war and archery. The first-of-its-kind celebration came to an end with the troops paying respect to their national flags as the national anthems played on.

"There was mild snowfall and the wind was chilly. The spirit of the soldiers was high. Along with military band performances, there were cultural shows that included Bihu and Bhangra dances," the official said.

An Army statement said the PLA guests appreciated the Indian initiative which will go a long way in creating a feeling of bonhomie, peace and tranquility.
Bonhomie through volleyball and greetings at Nathu La
 KOLKATA: Coinciding with the Indian harvest festival, a special Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) was held with a delegation of People's Liberation Army (PLA) from China at Nathu La in Sikkim on Monday. The meeting was held in high spirits with the Chinese delegation extending warm wishes to the Indians for the year to come.

"The delegations, comprising eight officers each from both sides, were led by Brigadier equivalent officers. The meeting was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere and the PLA delegation members wished their Indian counterparts on the occasion," an Indian official said.

A friendly volleyball match between the two teams comprising a mix of PLA and Indian troops was also played out. The keenly played match was enjoyed by the delegation members and the PLA seemed keen for more such sporting activities in the near future with the Indian Army, the official added.
SC to hear petition on alleged role of Indian Army in Sri Lankan civil war
 The Supreme Court will hear on Friday a writ petition for a probe by a Special Investigation Team into the alleged role of the Indian Army in the war in Sri Lanka.

The petitioner, Ram Sankar, an advocate and human rights activist, said a probe was necessary in view of the publication of U.N. Secretary General’s expert panel report implicating Indian armed forces for their involvement with the Sri Lankan army in alleged war crimes against Tamil civilians, including persons of Indian origin.

He also cited the report of the Permanent People’s Tribunal indicting the Indian government for the involvement of its Army in the war.

The petitioner alleged that the Indian government deployed its Army in Sri Lanka without the authority and approval of the President of India and without the sanction of Parliament. He said there was no provision in the Constitution for permitting the use of the Indian Army for any purpose in a foreign soil other than for the defence of India.

Contending that the aid and abetment of the Indian Army with the Sri Lankan armed forces was unlawful, the petitioner sought a direction for constituting a SIT to probe into the role of Indian Army in the ethnic killings.
Rajput regiment turns 72
BANGALORE: April 15, 1942, Fatehgarh, the Rajput regiment was raised by field marshal Cariappa. Today, the regiment turns 72.

And ministry of defence's group captain Tarun Kumar Singha, chief public relations officer, Kolkata, features the regiment from Kolkata. Times of India got access to his article authored from Kolkata, and it reads: "Among all battalions of the Rajput Regiment, 17 Rajput has a unique place in present day history of the Indian Army. It was raised during the period of Quit India Movement in 1942. It was also among 10 other Rajput Battalions that were raised following outbreak of World War-II from 1940 to 1943."

In so far as its historical significance is concerned, 17/7 Rajput as it was then known, was the only 'War Raising' battalion by any Indian Officer who was none other than Lt Col KM Cariappa, OBE, popularly called 'Kipper' who went on to become the first Indian commander-in-chief and later the chief of army staff. He was also conferred the highest rank of field marshal on April 28, 1986.

Popular in the army as the barhe chalo battalion, a motto coined by the first commanding officer to spur his troops, it was meant to convey 'get cracking on'. The battalion continues to crack on regardless in pursuit of glory as one of Indian Army's proudest and finest fighting outfits in recent times.

17/7 Rajput was raised at Fatehgarh on April 15, 1942 as the Machine Gun Battalion of the erstwhile 7th Rajput Regiment. A distinctive colour of maroon and blue was adopted for the new outfit. On August 1, 1942, the battalion was converted into a Regiment of Indian Armoured Corps (IAC) and designated 52nd Rajput Regiment IAC (Bawanja Risala) and moved to Lahore.

On September 15, 1942, the battalion was converted into a 'Lorried Battalion' and moved to Secunderabad to form part of 268th Lorried Brigade. On March 16, 1943, Kipper was transferred and succeeded by Lt Col G.B. Macnamara. In May 1944, 17/7 Rajput moved to Kohima and later deployed at Imphal.

Informed readers may know that Rajput Regiment is one among the senior most regiments of our country. It must therefore, logically, rank higher in the hierarchy of the nomenclatures. Then why the seventh standing?

Evidently, Maj Gen Parr, who had commanded the 7th Rajput in Mesopotamia during World War-I desired that the Regiment to which his battalion belonged be named 7th Rajput Regiment. The suffix '7' was adopted and remained so for all battalions of the Rajput Regiment between 1920 till Independence, where after it was dropped altogether.

In the redesignations that followed, Barhe Chalo became 17th Battalion of the Rajput Regiment on May 1, 1948. Later when its founding father, Lt Gen KM Cariappa became Army Chief on January 15, 1950 (commemorated as Army Day), an honour was bestowed on the battalion. The distinct maroon and royal blue hackle of the unit was now adopted by all Rajput Regiment battalions. In 1965, Barhe Chalo participated in Op Riddle as part of 7th Infantry Division, where it successfully executed its task of capturing Bedian bridge. The unit also participated in Op Cactus Lily in 1971 as part of 86 Infantry Brigade in Dera Baba Nanak sector, where it captured Khokherke and Sadhuwan posts of enemy and provided a firm base for Op Akal. The unit was also successful in capturing a crucial enemy post for which Capt Nawal Singh Rajawat and Late Sep Satyawan Singh were awarded VrC.

In 1982, the battalion underwent a change in class composition and reorganised to include Rajputs, Gujjars, Brahmins, Bengalis, Jats, Ahirs and Muslims in equal percentage composition. If ever anyone needs to see the secular credentials of an Indian Army's fighting unit, one need not go beyond Barhe Chalo whose war cry - Bol Bajrang Bali ki Jay! Hanuman ki Hunkare! - yelled by one and all can easily curl any enemy's guts.

The battalion was also the first unit of Rajput Regiment to be inducted in Siachen Glacier in 1991. The unit had a successful tenure without having a single fatal casualty, which indeed is a unique achievement.

Among the wars and major operations that Barhe Chalo participated include World War-II, between May to August 1944, Indo-Pak War of 1965 between September 1965 to February 1966 and Indo-Pak War 1971, from October to December 1971. Among the various military operations include Operatons Orchid, Rhino, Vijay, Rakshak and Parakram.

Glory to the Barhe Chalo has been brought through its gallant officers and soldiers through 2 Military Cross, an OBE and PVSM each, 7 Kirti Chakras, an AVSM, 4 Shaurya Chakras, 3 Vir Chakras, 12 Sena Medals, 3 VSM, 6 Mention-in-Despatches, 38 COAS, 7 VCOAS and 33 GOC-in-C Commendation Cards including several other gallantry certificates.

The battalion is presently serving at an undisclosed high altitude location standing vigil under Eastern Command. The Barhe Chalo battalion is presently being commanded by Colonel Balbir Singh Siwach, a second-generation army officer, commissioned in December 1990.


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