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Friday, 25 July 2014

From Today's Papers - 25 Jul 2014

Fraudsters pilfer lakhs from salary accounts of IAF men
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
Hundreds of Indian Air Force personnel have been duped of their hard-earned money by international fraudsters believed to be operating from Canada.

On behalf of the IAF, Wing Commander Tejveer Singh, Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal, Air Force Police HQ Delhi, today lodged a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing of the Special Cell of the Delhi Police.

The Air Force said in its complaint that money has been siphoned off from salary accounts of IAF personnel through mystery purchases and withdrawals from a particular place in Canada. In some cases, Air Force men have lost up to Rs 2 lakh. The IAF personnel losing the money are posted across the country and not just Delhi. The money has been fraudulently withdrawn from the accounts that are with the State Bank of India under the defence salary package. The IAF has asked the bank to stop all transactions and block all debit cards. The IAF men have been told to change passwords of their net banking accounts.

“We are presuming that the money that has been siphoned off is as good as lost. There is little or no chance of recovery from Canada-based tricksters,” said IAF officials.

The IAF suspects that fraudsters have possibly cloned the debit cards and also have access to pin numbers that are needed while doing purchases. “The first complaint came in the first week of July and soon the number multiplied. The entire list of complaints has been handed over to the Delhi police. This has the potential to lower the morale of personnel,” IAF officials said. The theft also means the spending habits of the officers are now known to international tricksters who could use the information, they added.

Canada-based tricksters

    The Air Force said in its complaint that money has been siphoned off from salary accounts of IAF personnel through mystery purchases and withdrawals from a particular place in Canada
    In some cases, Air Force men have lost up to Rs 2 lakh. The IAF personnel losing the money are posted across the country and not just Delhi
    The money has been fraudulently withdrawn from the accounts that are with the State Bank of India under the defence salary package
How raw courage & grit triumphed
Lt Gen Mohinder Puri (retd)

The daunting task was to militarily reorient the Division operationally from a counter- insurgency role to that for conventional warfare in virtually no time. The operations had to be completed well before the onset of winter
It was the May of 1999, that the 8 Mountain Division also known as "Forever in Operations" was tasked to move from the Kashmir Valley to the rugged Drass-Kargil axis along the Line of Control (LoC) and be part of Operation Vijay — it was the first call to arms in the conventional matrix after nearly 30 years.

Operation Vijay was launched by the Indian Army to evict the Pakistani Army which had occupied the heights in this terrain. The role of first inducting the entire division, complete with its support arms, equipment and men secondly to fight the battle had challenges which had to be overcome and were done successfully.

I had been in command of the Division in the Valley for over a year when the fresh deployment was ordered. For 10 years, or since 1989, the Division was mandated for Operation Rakshak to fight militancy.

As the Pakistani plan in Drass-Kargil unfolded, the daunting task came with the challenges. The first was to militarily reorient the Division operationally from a counter-insurgency role to that for conventional warfare. All this was to be done in virtually no time and to deliver success almost instantly in view of the tremendous pressure of public opinion at home built up by the media. The second issue was to complete operations well before the onset of winter — that sets in early in the high Himalayas.

Since the operations had to be conducted at extreme high altitudes averaging 15,000 feet, troops had to undergo three stages of acclimatisation spread across 10 days to be able to give their best. In hindsight it was stoic bravery, raw courage and the sheer "will to win" among all ranks that added this glorious chapter to the saga of valour and sacrifice for the Division (now headquartered at Kumbathang some 25 km south of Kargil) and also of the Army.

Counter Insurgency (CI) and conventional warfare are as different as chalk and cheese. While CI operations require immediate and expeditious response with rapid planning lest militants run havoc, a conventional warfare requires deliberation and unwavering co-ordination of not only amongst those assaulting, but also with the array of supporting arms and services, including the Air Force.

The changeover carried out in 12 days was creditable as this entailed configuration with new equipment and a psyche. An inbuilt training and equipment transformation flexibility of the Indian Army helped. Candidly, since the Army was preoccupied with militancy and after 1971 this was the first conventional war thrust on India, there was naturally sombre scepticism whether the change could be effected early enough to match the timeframe expected by the nation to "drive out" the Pakistan Army.

The lone inadequacy of ground troops was the vintage of equipment which was overcome to a great degree as the battle progressed.

Pakistani Army had named its intrusion into Kargil as Operation Badr and it was clearly with a three-fold political aim. The political climate in India was perceived to be unstable in early 1999 ( The Vajpayee Government had lost the Vote of Confidence and elections were slated for September 1999). Pakistan assessed that a major reaction to any military adventure was unlikely. Also it seemed as if there was a perception in the minds of the Pakistani leadership that the Indian polity did not have the political will to militarily react to any armed threat from across the border. A second possible Pakistani aim was to create a situation which would enable them to negotiate from a position of strength by securing large tracts of territory across the LoC, and thirdly by launching a military operation the opportunity was considered suitable to internationalise the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan also took into consideration that its nuclear umbrella gave an option of resorting to limited offensive action with minimal risk and with the operations fought in the nuclear backdrop, the international community would intervene, by which time Pakistan would have achieved its objectives. Militarily, Pakistan aimed to initiate the operation in areas where she would be offered the least resistance and a minimal military response. For this, large gaps in defences were to be exploited.

The heights in the Drass-Kargil area had not been permanently occupied by either side for over 50 years, so the first task for the 8 Mountain Division was to cross the Zoji La. In the process, we were confronted with enormous challenges. The ruggedness of the terrain, the extreme high altitudes at which the battles were fought and the adverse weather conditions, coupled with shortage of critical equipment made the task daunting. A short window available for completion of operations before the onset of winter added to the pressure. Had India not exploited the summer window, Pakistan would have consolidated its gains and would have made it prohibitively costly for us to regain the lost territory in the next season.

Preparations for an operation needed deliberation, planning and the will to succeed. I had given the Drass sector a higher priority as the enemy was effectively interdicting the National Highway from their vantage positions. The attack stopped Indian convoys carrying stocks to Ladakh and also equipment and men sent to fight the battle. It was imperative to clear the highway and this was possible only by recapturing the peaks.

Some miles away from the pounding, Tololing had defied capture for three weeks. Pakistani troops were well entrenched. It was the first target for further ridge hopping and capturing objectives like Point 4875, a tactically important feature and Tiger Hill—the place where Major Vikram Batra (PVC) attained glory. The battles had carried on, men and officers had climbed sheer cliffs to dig out the Pakistanis. The advantage was slowly turning but it took the better part of July to wind up the operations and convincingly defeat the Pakistan Army.

Many would have flinched at the daunting task at hand but the zeal displayed by the country at large, gave inspiration and impetus. Never before did the men in uniform flavour this fevered response from the country.

As we remember the 15th anniversary of the war in Kargil, I would like to commend the courage, gallantry and stoicism displayed by our young officers and soldiers. Sadly, in the process many sacrificed their lives for the glory of their units, the Army and the nation.
Kargil panel: No checks & balances in Intelligence system

On July 29, 1999, three days after the Kargil conflict officially ended, the then government, headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, set up a four-member, high-powered committee to analyse the situation. The terms of reference of the committee, headed by strategic analyst Late K Subrahmanyam, were to review the events leading up to the Pakistani aggression in the Kargil District of Jammu and Kashmir, and to recommend such measures as are considered necessary to safeguard national security against such armed intrusions. The other members were Lt Gen KK Hazari, former Vice Chief of Army Staff, senior journalist BG Verghese and Satish Chandra, then Secretary, National Security Council Secretariat. The committee had the authority to interview any person associated with the security establishment, including former presidents and prime minister and was given access to all classified documents and reports. The committee presented its findings and recommendations, christened From Surprise to Reckoning: The Kargil Committee Report (KCR), to Vajpayee in January 2000. Some of its key observations are:

    Pakistan’s aggression came as a total surprise to the Indian government. Infiltration by armed irregulars was considered to be feasible in the area but not an intrusion and occupation of territory by Pakistani troops.

    There were lapses in communication and dissemination of information between different intelligence agencies, which illustrate deficiencies in the system.

    There were many bits and pieces of information about activities within the FCNA region. Most of them tended to indicate that Kargil was becoming a growing focus of Pakistani attention which had been clearly demonstrated by the marked increase in cross-LOC shelling in 1998. The reports on ammunition dumping, induction of additional guns and the construction of bunkers and helipads all fitted into an assessment of likely large-scale militant infiltration, with more intensive shelling in the summer of 1999. RAW assessed the possibility of "a limited swift offensive threat with possible support of alliance partners," in its half-yearly assessment ending September 1998 but no indicators substantiating this assessment were provided. Moreover, in its next six-monthly report ending March 1999, this assessment was dropped. In fact, its March 1999 report emphasised the financial constraints that would inhibit Pakistan from launching on any such adventure.

    No specific indicators of a likely major attack in the Kargil sector such as significant improvements in logistics and communications or substantial force build-up or forward deployment of forces were reported by any of the agencies. Information on training of additional militants for infiltrating them across the LoC was not sector-specific. Indian intelligence appeared to lack adequate knowledge about the heavy damage inflicted by Indian artillery, which would have required Pakistan army to undertake considerable repairs and re-stocking. That would partly explain the larger vehicular movements reported on the other side. The Indian Army did not share information about the intensity and effect of its past firing with others. In the absence of this information, RAW could not correctly assess the significance of enemy activity in terms of ammunition storage or construction of underground bunkers.

    The critical failure in intelligence was related to the absence of any information on the induction and deinduction of battalions and the lack of accurate data on the identity of battalions in the area opposite Kargil during 1998. Several Pakistani units present in the sector did not figure in the Order of Battle (ORBAT) supplied by RAW to the Directorate-General on Military Intelligence (DGMI). In the Committee's view, a significant gap in information prior to the detection of the Kargil intrusion was the inability of RAW to accurately monitor and report changes in the Pakistani ORBAT in the FCNA region during 1998 and early 1999 and to a lesser extent that of DGMI, and field intelligence units to notice the additional forward deployment of troops near the LoC.

    Unlike other countries, India has no tradition of undertaking politico-military games with the participation of those having political and diplomatic expertise. If such games had been practised, then the possibility of limited military intrusions to internationalise the Kashmir issue might have been visualised.
    The Indian Intelligence structure is flawed since there is little back up or redundancy to rectify failures and shortcomings in intelligence collection and reporting that goes to build up the external threat perception by the one agency, namely, RAW which has a virtual monopoly in this regard. There is a general lack of awareness of the critical importance of and the need for assessed intelligence at all levels. JIC reports do not receive the attention they deserve at the political and higher bureaucratic levels. There are no checks and balances in the Indian intelligence system to ensure that the consumer gets all the intelligence that is available and is his due.
    — Vijay Mohan

Changes recommended

    Revamping the intelligence apparatus, enhancing information- collection capabilities
    Structural reforms. Integrating the service headquarters with the MoD.
    Appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff as a single-point advisor to the government on military matters.
    Publication of a White Paper on Indian nuclear weapons programme.
    Conduct a detailed study on border management to evolve force structures and procedures to ensure improved surveillance.
    Restructuring the role, training and tasks of the para-military forces in view of terrorist threats and proxy war.
    Examine possibility of integrated manpower policy for the Armed Forces, para-military forces and the Central Police Forces as well as lateral induction of ex-servicemen into the para-military.
597 defence personnel committed suicide in last five years: Govt

The armed forces lost 597 personnel to suicide in the last five years while 1,349 officers quit the Army during the same period, Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

From 2009 to 2013, 597 armed forces personnel committed suicide--498 from the Army, 83 from the Air Force and 16 from the Navy, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said in written reply.

The highest number of suicides took place in the Army in 2010 when 116 troops committed suicide but the number came down to 86 in 2013, according to the figures given by the minister in his reply.

The Army, which is the largest of the three Services, also saw 1,349 officers quitting the force taking premature retirement in the last five years.

The number of officers who had applied for premature retirement was 2,215 but only 1,349 such requests were granted by the force.

The Defence Minister said the government has taken various measures to create appropriate environment for the defence personnel so that they can perform their duties without any mental stress.

"Some of these include improvement in living and working conditions through provision of better infrastructure and facilities, liberalised leave policy, establishing a grievance redressal mechanism and conduct of yoga as per unit routine," Jaitley said.

Meanwhile, answering another query, Jaitley said the Air Force lost 19 fighter aircraft in the last three years, including 12 MiG-series fighter planes in which five service personnel were killed along with one civilian.

The aircraft lost in the accidents were 8 MiG 21, 3 each of MiG 29 and Jaguar, two each of Mirage-2000 and Su-30MKI and one MiG-27M.
First Indian Air Force, Navy Attaches take charge in China
 In a sign of expanding military-to-military engagement between India and China, permanent representatives of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Navy have, for the first time, taken office in Beijing.

Group Captain Ashish Srivastava of the Indian Air Force and Captain Sushant Dam of the Indian Navy will begin their terms as the Air and Naval attachés in the Indian Embassy in Beijing on Friday.

Earlier, India only had a Defence attaché from the Indian Army, along with a Deputy Defence attaché, posted in Beijing.

The question of expanding India’s military representation had been discussed by both sides over several years, with China finally agreeing to the move this past year. Traditionally, India has only had attachés from all three services in the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia.

That China will join those countries underscores the increasing importance — and widening engagement— between the two militaries. Especially on the naval side, the need for representation had become apparent as both sides have stepped up exchanges even as their navies are more frequently encountering each other on the high seas.

The absence of a permanent naval attaché in Beijing posed logistical obstacles, with the defence attachés having to liaise with the People’s Liberation Army Navy over plans for exercises and visits — a situation that even the Chinese side acknowledged was unusual.
Army Chief praises new Government's decisiveness
Few days before retirement, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh praised the "decisiveness" of the NDA government at a tea party held for him by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.

Gen Singh praised the decisiveness of the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the function attended by top officials of the Ministry including Defence Secretary RK Mathur and other senior officials yesterday, Defence Ministry officials said.

The Army chief said the brief period in which he got to work with the NDA government, he was impressed with government's decisiveness, they said.

Soon after assuming office, the NDA government has cleared several projects for the armed forces including environmental clearances required for construction of roads in border areas along the border with China.

Going by the advise of the Army, the Government also ruled out any change in the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in the first meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) of the Narendra Modi government.

Gen Singh is retiring at the end of the month.
Remembering Kargil heroes: Late Captain Saurabh Kalia's family awaits justice
Captain Saurabh Kalia was an officer of the Indian Army who died during the 1999 Kargil war where he was held as a prisoner of war by the Pakistani forces. Saurabh Kalia, then 23 and just a month old in the Army, had been on a patrol duty in Batalik where he and five Army soldiers were captured by Pakistani intruders.

He was held in captivity and was tortured by the Pakistani Army. After three weeks his mutilated body was returned and it was beyond recognition. There were other Indian soldiers, too, who went through brutal torture in the Kargil war.

Captain Saurabh Kalia's family has been fighting for justice till date. Their online petition has also been demanding action against Pakistan. Now 15 years later little has moved. Petitions have gone to every Defence Minister, Prime Minister and President since then but not much has happened.

But Captain Saurabh Kalia stays alive in the memories of his family. From his first pay cheque to his childhood pictures everything has been preserved by his family. The family continues their daily petitioning and writing letters.

Vaibhav Kalia, Saurabh Kalia's brother, said that the family shall continue the fight as any person who is fighting for the country has the right to be assured that if somewhere during the fight the person gets captured, he will be treated humanely.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

From Today's Papers - 24 Jul 2014

How the initiative at sea was seized
The role of the Indian Navy in the Kargil war has not been talked about much. The former Navy Chief gives a first-hand account of the Navy’s Operation Talwar as the Kargil conflict unfolded
Admiral Sushil Kumar

Very little has been spoken or written about what the Indian Navy did during the Kargil conflict of 1999. In fact, it is largely believed and mistakenly so, that the Indian Navy played no role at all. While the Army and Air Force undoubtedly played a stellar role and won the war for us, the Navy, albeit on the sideline, made a silent but significant contribution. And this is a first-hand account of how the Kargil conflict unfolded and what the Navy’s Operation Talwar was all about. I recall the initial phase of how the Kargil conflict began. As the Navy Chief, I was also officiating as the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee since General Ved Malik, the Army Chief, was abroad on an assignment.
The reports that first came in were quite vague and hazy. They alluded to stray incidents along the Line of Control with Pakistan. There was also a report of an Indian Army patrol that had not returned and of shepherds having seen strangers on our side of the Line of Control (LoC). Despite the uncertain nature of these reports, the Army was understandably concerned and requested for air effort by way of armed reconnaissance. At that stage, Air Chief Marshal Tipnis, the Air Chief, quite rightly advised, that hastily inducting the Indian Air Force may send the wrong signal. With scanty reports available, the situation was confused and seemed to be only a minor border incident in an area that had always been regarded as no-man’s land.

More than a border incident

By the time General Malik returned from his trip abroad, it became clear that the incursion on the Himalayan border in the Kargil sector was not just a mere border incident. Not only was the extent of the Pakistani intrusion very vast but it also appeared that something sinister was afoot. The manner in which the intruders had entrenched themselves on our side of the LoC, in well-prepared concrete bunkers at strategically commanding locations, clearly showed that this was a well-planned manoeuvre that had been executed over a carefully calculated time frame. There was no doubt that Pakistani treachery had caught us by surprise. Promptly, the Indian Government swung into action and gave the Indian Armed Forces a clear-cut directive: Evict the intruders. But do not cross the LoC was the Prime Minister’s diktat which proved to be a diplomatic masterstroke. This was the start up for Operation Vijay. For Navymen like me who had been around during the India-Pakistan war of 1965, the lasting memory had always been of the mischief carried out by the Pakistan Navy at sea. When all attention had been on the land war, a couple of Pakistan Navy destroyers had sneaked in one night and lobbed a few shells onto a deserted beach on the Gujarat coast. Ever since then, the Pakistan Navy has celebrated that event as “Pakistan Navy Day.”

By early June 1999, as our Army and Air Force were preparing for action on the LoC, task forces of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet had already been deployed to their battle stations — to seize the initiative at sea. With the situation getting tense, it was at an important war council briefing that the Prime Minister reiterated his Directive of not crossing the LoC.

Operational constraint

For the Army and Air Force this was surely an operational constraint but not so for the Navy, as we always operate in international waters anyway. Moreover, coercive diplomacy has always been the Navy’s forte and the tactic of exerting pressure from over the horizon has always been a well- tested strategy referred to as gunboat diplomacy from Nelsonian times.

We realised that the Indian Navy’s forward deployment had certainly had the desired effect when we learnt that Pakistan had frantically started escorting its oil tankers at sea, for this indeed was their lifeline for survival.

By the middle of June, the Army and Air Force had scaled up their operations. With tension mounting, the situation looked as though it would escalate beyond a border conflict. At this time the Navy’s Operational Commanders re-appreciated the situation and decided to prepare for hostilities. The Navy’s Eastern Fleet from the Bay of Bengal was rapidly mobilised and deployed in strength to the Arabian Sea.

And so as the operations on the Himalayan heights at Tololing and Tiger Hill reached a crescendo, the Indian Navy remained poised with both fleets in full readiness. As we approached what seemed like the precautionary stage for war, operation orders for combat were issued with the rules of engagement clearly defined for commanders at sea. This was a very important threshold for us. The codename assigned was
Operation Talwar.
Threat of nuclear retaliation

It was around this time that Pakistani generals started resorting to threats of nuclear retaliation. Much of it was rhetoric but it could not be dismissed altogether, as we were obviously dealing with a desperate foe whose misadventure had been exposed, through recovered Pakistani documents and captured prisoners of war. By the end of June 1999, full-scale hostilities seemed imminent. At a crucial tri-Service briefing, the Army Chief General Ved Malik issued an advisory for the Indian Armed Forces — you better prepare for war, be it declared or otherwise. We in the Navy were fully armed and ready for battle.

Here I must add that while our task forces were well poised; we had our fingers crossed. Our warships were vulnerable with no Anti-Missile Defence (AMD) against the Pakistan Navy’s deadly Harpoon Exocet sea-skimming missiles. It was a serious vulnerability but the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, Vice Admiral Madhavendra Singh, and I had taken stock of the situation. There is always the fog of war and the adversary may not be entirely aware of the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, we had deployed in preponderant strength and our strike forces were aggressively poised. It certainly had the desired effect. We knew that the Pakistan Navy had gone on the defensive when we monitored a special message from the Pakistan Navy high command to all their warships ‘Remain in harbour’.

Seizing the initiative at sea

The signal from the Pakistani Naval (PN) Headquarters said it all and that day, at the briefing for the Chiefs of Staff Committee, I informed my colleagues that the Indian Navy had achieved what it had set out to do. We had seized the initiative at sea. Tri-Service cooperation had many facets during the Kargil operations and the Navy was able to chip in where needed. The Navy’s squadron of specially equipped electronic warfare aircraft operated extensively along the Line of Control in support of land operations. Specialist hydrographic survey teams of the Indian Navy were conjoined with the army’s artillery batteries to pin-point gun locations. But all this is trivia compared to the overall canvas of tri-service understanding and cooperation that Kargil 1999 portrayed. Many too are the lessons that the Kargil conflict has brought forth. Most important of all being that the Indian Armed Forces have the natural ability and resilience to face adversity when the chips are down. Kargil had caught us by surprise, yet motivated by the Government, the Armed Forces turned the tables onto the Pakistani intruders.

Force-multiplying effect

What Kargil also demonstrated was that when the Service Chiefs are in sync everything falls into place with a force-multiplying effect. General Malik, Air Chief Marshal Tipnis and I had trained together initially at the National Defence Academy as young cadets while still in our teens. In later years we served together on various operational and staff assignments and we also had the opportunity to serve concurrently as Vice Chiefs of our respective service.

When Kargil erupted we finally came together as the three Service Chiefs of the Indian Armed Forces. All this certainly mattered and was in sharp contrast to what happened on the other side of the border.

Undoubtedly, students of military history will remember Kargil as an operation conducted on the snowy Himalayan heights where the Indian Army and the IAF brought glory to the country. The role that the Indian Navy played during Kargil may yet remain lost as a footnote. But that is the way navies operate anyway; over the horizon and unseen. Perhaps, that is the reason why the Navy has always been known worldwide, as the silent service.
India, Pak Foreign Secys to meet on August 25
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 23
India today agreed to hold with Pakistan the foreign secretary-level talks in Islamabad on August 25 even as New Delhi unambiguously told the neighbouring country that meaningful bilateral cooperation could not take place amid "violence and the sound of bullets".

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh had a half-an-hour telephonic conversation this evening with her Pakistani counterpart during which she raised the issue of incidents of firing by Pakistani troops along the International Border (IB) in recent days.

She underlined that incidents of this nature would impede the positive work the political leadership of the two countries desired to undertake. Sujatha told the Pakistani diplomat that maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the LoC was one of the most important Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) for both India and Pakistan.

Briefing reporters, MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said the two foreign secretaries decided that they would meet in Islamabad on August 25 to discuss how to move forward in the relationship between the two countries.

The spokesperson clearly indicated that the proposed meeting on August 25 could not be termed as resumption of the stalled dialogue process. The two foreign secretaries would meet in accordance with the directive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif who had met in New Delhi on May 27 after the swearing-in of the new government in India.

The spokesperson for the Pakistan Foreign Office also issued a statement in Islamabad, saying, "In keeping with the visions of the two PMs to improve and establish good neighbourly relations, the foreign secretaries agreed that the dialogue process between the two countries should be result-oriented."

This was the first contact between the top diplomats of the two countries since the meeting between their two PMs in Delhi. Only last week, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had indicated that the two foreign secretaries would meet soon. He had also emphasised that the two countries should hold uninterrupted talks on all outstanding issues between the two countries.

The talks remain suspended since January last year when Pakistani troops had beheaded an Indian soldier and killed another along the border. India appears in no mood to resume the full-spectrum dialogue until ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops stop.
 India, US, Japan naval exercise from today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 23
Almost seven years after China had protested against an India-US-Japan trilateral naval exercise, the three nations are to start a major week-long exercise, “Malabar”, in North Pacific along the Japanese Coast. So far, China has maintained silence on the matter.

The move to invite Japan was okayed in December last year, especially after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe showed keenness to expand ties with India. In 2007 China had protested when Japan and joined the bilateral Navy exercise “Malabar”.

The exercise starts on Thursday and ends on July 30. The US will be fielding its nuclear attack submarine, the USS Columbus and the newly made sea-borne aircraft carrier the USS George Washington. Indian Navy will be using three ships — the Stealth frigate INS Shivalik, INS Ranvijay and fleet tanker the INS Shakti.

The Japanese will field their warships and also the sea plane the U-2. India has showed interest in buying these planes.

The Malabar exercise used to be a bilateral one between India and the US, but China had protested when the war games – then conducted in the Bay of Bengal — were expanded in 2007 to include the Australian, Japanese and Singaporean navies as well.

China views multilateral groupings as a mode to “contain’’ it. Beijing is locked in separate boundary disputes with India and Japan.

New Delhi has tried to do a tight rope walk between countries like the US and Japan on one side and China on the other. India and China are also of course competing for the same strategic space in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and also energy resources.
 Must respect each other’s concerns: Modi told Chinese Prez

New Delhi, July 23
Chinese President Xi Jinping has agreed to create the “right conditions” to harness the true potential of ties with India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the need for respecting each other’s “interests and concerns, including in the shared neighbourhood”.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, while giving details of last week’s meeting in Brazil, told Parliament today that Modi spoke about the “enormous opportunities” that exist to “work together not only to reinforce each other’s development, but also to contribute to peace, stability and progress in Asia and the world”.

Modi “stressed the importance of strengthening mutual trust and confidence, maintaining peace and tranquility on the border and respecting each other’s interests and concerns, including in our shared neighbourhood, for realising the full potential of our relationship,” she said in a suo motu statement made in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

She did not elaborate on the “interests and concerns” in the “shared neighbourhood”, but India has been worried over Chinese efforts to expand its influence to countries like Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Modi underlined to Xi that increased people-to-people contacts between the two ancient civilisations could greatly strengthen the bilateral relationship, Swaraj said while giving details of the first meeting between the two leaders that took place in Fortelaza.

Xi “shared our views on creating the right conditions and building a higher degree of engagement and familiarity between the two countries,” Sushma said. — PTI
Oldest regiment’s youngest battalion takes first step

The Army’s oldest regiment also happens to have the youngest battalion. With new battalions being formed for the upcoming Strike Corps against China, the Punjab Regiment has raised an additional battalion. Designated as 29 Punjab, the unit, with Col HS Guleria as its first Commanding Officer, moved to its first operational deployment somewhere in the western sector earlier this month.

On the eve of its departure from the Punjab Regimental Centre at Ramgarh in Jharkhand, where it was raised, Lt Gen BS Sachar, Colonel of the Punjab Regiment, addressed all officers and men of the battalion and exhorted them to uphold regimental traditions and strive for professional excellence. With this, the Punjab Regiment’s strength has gone up to 19 regular battalions in addition to four Rashtriya Rifles and three Territorial Army units. One of the oldest and most highly decorated regiments of the Army, it traces its history to 1761. The Army’s two elite outfits, First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment and the First Battalion of Brigade of The Guards, are erstwhile Punjab Regiment units.

C’wealth Games: Army fields women shooter

In the list of 17 persons from the Army who are representing India in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, one name — Seema Tomar — stands out. A non-combatant, she the only woman in the Army’s contingent.

She was employed by the Army in 2004 under the sports quota as a part of the Mission Olympics and is working as a clerk. The 32-year-old shooter has trained at the Army Shooting Nore in Mhow and won a string of national and international shooting competitions.

The 215-strong Indian contingent has 30 shooters out of which 13 are women.

70th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal

Seventy years ago, the month of July saw the turning point in favour of the allies during the Burma Campaign of the World War-II. It was the Battle of Imphal, which was fought between the British and the Japanese between March and July 1944.

The battle took place in the region around Imphal in Manipur. The Japanese army attempted to destroy the allied forces and invade India, but were driven back into Burma with heavy losses. This was the largest defeat suffered by the Japanese till date. The Battle was largely fought by Indian and Gorkha troops with the 17, 20 and 23 Indian Infantry Divisions, 20 Indian Parachute Brigade and 254 Indian Tank Brigade under IV Corps as part of William Slim’s 14th Army.

The allied air forces also played a decisive logistic role, ferrying in troops. “The disaster at Imphal was perhaps the worst of its kind yet chronicled in the annals of war.” Kase Toshikazu, a Japanese Foreign Office functionary later recorded.

War-decorated General passes away

Lt Joginder Singh Bakshi, a recipient of the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), passed away at New Delhi this week. He was 86. As commander of a mountain brigade in the eastern Theatre during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, he had launched successful attacks and captured a number of well-prepared enemy localities, culminating in the capture of Bogra.

His MVC citation states that he had displayed professional competence of a high order and by his daring execution outwitted the opposing forces breaking their resistance and capturing a large number of men and equipment including the commander of 205 Brigade of the Pakistan Army. He later raised and commanded 3 Corps in the north-east and was also Colonel of the Jat Regiment.

Veteran sailors’ meet

The Veteran Sailors’ Forum (North Zone) is scheduled to hold its 6th Annual General Body Meeting on July 27 at Varunika in New Delhi. In addition to taking up issues related to ex-servicemen welfare, medicare, pension, interaction with agencies associated with ex-servicemen welfare, the Indian Naval Placement Agency, Indian Naval Benevolent Association, Directorate of Pay and Allowances, and Pension Disbursal Agencies will also take place.

Representatives of ECHS are also scheduled to address the veterans to update them on the new facilities.
 Leh airfield unfit for fighter ops
Runway degradation, lack of requisite lighting system to blame
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Runway degradation and the non-availability of a requisite lighting system at the Leh Air Force Station have affected the operational preparedness of the strategically vital airfield. Besides rendering the runway unfit for fighter operations, limitations have been imposed on night flying by transport aircraft.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) approved resurfacing of the runway in March, 2009, at an estimated cost of Rs 29.39 crore. Later, changes in the design were made and a revised sanction for Rs 34.45 crore was obtained in March 2010. The work was completed in October 2011 at a cost of Rs 36.12 crore.

After the completion of the work, the Air Force noticed continuous degradation of the runway due to surface wear and tear. After temporary repairs were carried out in 2012, the runway surface was checked after landings by a few aircraft and it was found that the runway had suffered from abrasions to the surface due to trye friction and adjudged unfit for fighter operations.

In 2013, an inspection revealed that Rs 3.22 crore would be needed for temporary restoration of the runway and Rs 10.21 crore for permanent measures. The chief engineer claimed that the surface was damaged due to the unconventional method under which salt and chemicals were used to remove snow.

The Comptroller and auditor General (CAG), in its latest report, rejected this notion on the grounds that the surface had damaged immediately after resurfacing was done. It also observed that a final decision to go in for temporary repairs or permanent measures was still pending.

The CAG also pointed out that a drainage system to prevent flash floods was sanctioned in April 2007 at a cost of Rs 3.27 crore and was to be complete in a year. However, till July 2010, only 43 per cent work was done which too was damaged by a cloud burst that had hit Leh, covering the airfield with mud and debris. The drainage system is still to come up.

Further, the CAG observed that the airfield lighting system conceived in 1999 to facilitate nigh flying by transport aircraft is yet to be installed. The Leh airfield is used to sustain forward Army positions in Ladakh. In the absence of a lighting system, solar goose neck flares were being used.

The board of officers for the system was initiated in December 1999 and finalised in June 2003, but sanction for work was accorded only in 2008. The work, however, was not released for execution and the Air Headquarters later stated that the project had been closed.

The provision of a lighting system at Leh will be included in the phase two of the project for modernisation of airfield infrastructure after the completion of the first phase covering 30 airfields.


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