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Sunday, 14 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 14 Sep 2014

 90% of damaged LoC fence repaired
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 13
Away from the relief and rescue efforts being carried out by the armed forces in flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir, Army troops have managed to repair most of the damaged fence along the 749 km-long Line of Control (LoC).

Almost 10 km of fence, largely in the Akhnoor sector, had been washed away or buried under mudslides in the floods that followed heavy rain since the start of this month. More than 90 per cent of this has been re-erected, sources said.

The work to repair the fence is being carried under heavy security with gun-toting troops keeping guard against any intruders.

Restoring the fence along the LoC and also along the 198 km-long international border is the top-most priority, officials said. The Border Security Force (BSF) is deployed along the international border. The fence is a 10 ft-high obstacle of iron girders with coils of barbed wire strung across and it acts as a first obstacle for intruders from PoK.

Almost simultaneously, work is on to repair bunkers, observation posts and shelters used by troops. Some of these had been flooded and were filled with muddy waters forcing evacuation of troops of the Army and BSF with helicopters.

Sources said there were radio intercepts that terrorists based in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) will try and enter Kashmir using the gaps in the fence hoping that the Army’s guard is down. August, September and October are traditionally seen as peak months for infiltrators.

A few IAF and Army Aviation helicopters have reportedly been hit by stones thrown by people, which could have been incited by separatists. Some of the stones hit the copters as there are small “dents” on the body frame. This can turn serious incase the stone is sucked in by the engines or it hits the rotor blades. The copter can drop like a stone killing the crew and those being rescued.
 Situation under control in flood-hit areas of Jammu, says Army
Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 13
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the White Knight Corps Lt Gen KH Singh today said the situation in flood-affected areas in south of Pir Panjal range was under control and it was returning to “near normalcy”.

The GOC also said the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the main road link connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, would be thrown open for light motor vehicles soon.

The highway had been closed for traffic following massive landslides that swept away nearly 250-metre stretch near Ramsu in Ramban district following incessant rain and flash floods.

The officer, however, said the jawans of Army and Border Roads Organisation (BRO) were on job and the highway would be cleared for light motor vehicles soon.

“The situation is under control and it is returning to near normalcy. All major arteries in the south of Pir Panjal range have been restored,” the GOC added.
Pak for normalising relations with India
 New Delhi, September 13
Pakistan today made a strong pitch for normalisation of ties with India after last month’s “political setback” and said in diplomacy one should keep or leave the “door ajar” so that whatever was possible could be achieved.

The remarks were made by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit here, days after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said there was no “full stop” in diplomacy while replying on the future strategy towards talks with Pakistan.

Addressing a meet of businessmen from India and Pakistan, Basit also talked about his meeting with India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval earlier in the day and said both agreed that destinies of the two nations are inter-linked and there was a need to move forward.

“We both agreed that the time has now come to get out of this pattern (taking a step forward and two steps backward) and to have a new narrative which helps the two countries to keep moving forward. That is easier said than done,” Basit said at the meet, held on the margins of Pakistan trade fair here.

“Unfortunately, there has been a setback last month. I would say a political setback. But that should not in any manner deter us from continuing with our efforts and I am confident that things will come back on track,” Basit said.

The Pakistan top envoy said there were complex problems between the countries but, irrespective of that, India and Pakistan should move forward.

“We understand that the complex problems would not go away. They will be there. On certain issues, we will have agreements or compromise quickly but on other issues we will perhaps have to wait longer. But important is to keep moving forward and we hope that this trend will continue in days, months and years ahead,” he said.

Basit said where diplomats have failed, business community on both sides have come a long way in bringing the two countries together. “We hope that we (diplomats) would be able to follow your (businessmen) footsteps and try to build on the work which you people on both sides have been doing. — PTI
Expansion: The Call of the Hour for Indian Army
India is the largest importer of arms in the world and is also the world’s fourth-largest military. India is among  the countries that boast of a large defence budget and the Indian army is a force to reckon with; yet there seems to be a dire need for a stronger army. Times have changed and with possible situations of war among other things, new India needs a stronger army, that can take on any threat – foreign or indigenous. The army is in dire need of an overhaul and modernization. Expansion for the army needs to happen in two aspects, first is to expand the Army internally by revamping and modernizing it and secondly by expanding its presence across the world.
In the first avenue, the Indian Army seems to be in a critical condition, Reports indicate that we do not have the firepower to wage a battle for longer than 20 days and the Army urgently needs new field artillery. The Indian Air Force has repeatedly voiced concerns about the obsolete nature of its ground-based air defence systems. The Indian Navy’s depleting and aging submarine fleet poses its own set of challenges with only 13 conventional diesel-electric submarines. With all these difficulties India understands the importance of expansion and a total revamp.
Currently around 2 per cent of GDP is being allocated to defence, an amount that is drastically lesser than some of its volatile neighbors. For  example China announced its military budget for 2014 at a figure of $132 billion, knowing the reticency of China the real figure may be even 40 per cent higher. In comparison India’s defence budget though higher than the last governments budget was set by finance Minister Arun Jaitley at 2.29 trillion Indian rupees or $38.35 billion for 2014-15. Though much lower than China’s this budget allocation seems to be a concrete step towards the plan of expanding the Indian Army.
Two countries with the world’s largest and second largest population are touted to be the next superpowers in the world. India and China are competing against western countries as well as each other. While China as mentioned above has military capabilities that are unknown and possibly much higher than what is being shown, as the next superpower China has managed to establish and make its presence felt globally, with troops positioned strategically around the world in countries from Europe to Pakistan, the Chinese army is one army that even the giants of the west are afraid to clash with fearing its unknown fire power.
India alongside procurement and training also needs to make its military presence felt globally. With territorial disputes with its neighboring countries like Pakistan and China, and internal insurgencies as well the Indian army needs to be capable of dealing with unforeseen situations.
In order for India to meet future threats and challenges, forging military relationships with other countries, and creating military bases around the world strategically should be an integral aspect of India, which requires undertaking and creating force structures for joint operations around the world. America has bases all over the world in over 170 countries and is undoubtedly the strongest military presence in the global scene. China too has positioned itself strategically and in case of war would be able to attack efficiently. India currently has only one military base outside of India, Farkhor in Tajikistan. We need to amp our presence starting in South Asia and then globally.
Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi visit to Japan was in many ways a landmark trip and it marked the beginning of India maintaining its sphere of control in Asia. India and Japan sought to boost defence ties, they agreed to look into upgrading a ‘two-plus-two’ format for security talks by bringing together their foreign and defence ministers, and directed officials to launch working level talks on defence equipment and technology cooperation. In Asia another powerful supplier of arms is South Korea, and as allies India and South Korea have always been on friendly terms. India, a major importer of arms and military hardware purchased eight warships from South Korea.
It is a very strategic move for India to make its presence felt in countries that could help in countering the influence of other regional powers in South Asia. In the long run maintaining a good military relationship with such countries is beneficial to India.
Outside Asia, India has been very efficient in setting up military facilities abroad, countering piracy by patrolling the Indian Ocean and protecting the crucial sea lanes of communication. Traditionally the Middle East and India have always had excellent relations, with a large number of Indians present in these countries. Qatar and India have harbored excellent relations and have signed agreements that enable India to have a solid access to the Middle East. The defence pact between the two countries is also a historic pact where they have jointly agreed that if need arises they will jointly produce weapons and artillery. India has vowed to protect Qatar from external threats. This resource rich country also is of strategic importance for India. What India needs now is an army that can expand across the globe and work with other countries to build  a solid army with excellent resources and training. The potential of the Indian army is immense and as the next superpower, India has to position itself strategically and utilize the armed forces.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 13 Sep 2014

Army to hand over relief ops to local admn
Sources say there are apprehensions about separatists inciting people against armed forces
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 12
Nine days after the Indian Army and Indian Air Force were inducted to carry out rescue operations in flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir, the soldiers will hand over within 10 days the relief and rehabilitation operations – providing food, water, medicines, clothing and ration – to the local administration.

The work of the forces in the J&K flood operations has changed in the past 24 hours and it will change further in the next 48 hours. Now, the focus is on relief work and providing essential commodities.

The floodwater of the Jhelum river has started receding and people who had been evacuated want to go back to their homes, while in other localities where people wanted to stay put inside their homes have been assisted with provisions.

The number of Army columns (comprising 160 men each) on duty was also reduced to 265 from 329 today. Sources said there were four aspects from here on. Firstly, thousands of people have to be evacuated from Srinagar and Jammu on IAF’s transport planes as the national highway is snapped. Secondly, tourists trapped across the right bank of the Jhelum – that criss-crosses Srinagar – need to be rescued on boats to the left bank where the airport in located for onward evacuation to Delhi or to Chandigarh.

Thirdly, the forces need to bring in a lot of things that will be needed immediately such water suction pumps and generators. Drinking water is being picked up by the IAF from Chandigarh and Pathankot.

The Army moved in its field hospital — the fifth one since operations began. Each can have up to 15 patients.

Fourthly, the relief material has to be distributed in localities. With winter setting in, it is expected to be a long haul. The Army is currently running five relief camps where food and lodging are being provided.

The forces have been tasked with sending relief material till everything normalises, but its distribution will be the work of the local administration.

Sources say one of the reasons is that separatists may incite people against the forces and things may turn ugly as the soldiers are carrying their weapons.

This was the first rescue operation conducted by the soldiers while wearing bullet-proof jackets, said a senior functionary in Delhi.

Today in Srinagar, relief was provided to around 11,000 civilians in the most affected areas of Shivpora, Ram Munshi Bagh, Haft Chinar, Rajbag Tatoo Ground, Tankpura, Jawahar Nagar, Gorgi Bag and other adjoining areas.

The Army used 13 Cheetah helicopters and a similar number of advanced light helicopters to drop in food packets, water bottles and medicines to a large number of villages in south Kashmir, Srinagar and some areas of north Kashmir.

The other aspect of rehabilitation is restoring communication lines. The Army, BSNL and some of the private companies have been dispatched to restore the communication system in the state.

To meet the immediate energy requirement, 22,000 litres of fuel from Ambala have been transported to the Valley.

At least 8,200 blankets and 1,074 tents were provided to the flood victims. Eighty medical teams of the armed forces are already operating in full swing. A mobile oxygen generation plant is also being transported from Delhi to the flood-affected area. So far, 1,34,000 persons have been rescued by the armed forces and the NDRF from different parts of Jammu & Kashmir in the ongoing rescue and relief operations.
Water receding, people want to return home
The floodwater of the Jhelum has started receding and people who had been evacuated want to return to their homes
The number of Army columns (comprising 160 men each) on duty was also reduced to 265 from 329 on Friday
The forces have been tasked with sending relief material till everything normalises, but its distribution will be the work of the local administration
 Air-dropping supplies a tricky task
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

On board Army helicopter (Kashmir), September 12
The air-dropping of essential supplies is a tricky task, which has to be carried out for tens of thousands of people marooned in various areas of the flood-ravaged state.

The Tribune team, on board a chopper, found air-dropping relief material a mammoth task. Two helicopters hovered above a marooned area in Sannat Nagar and gradually lowered their machines to a certain height.

Then dispatchers got down to their task — dropping water, food packets and medicines for the people.

The helicopters dropped these supplies on higher and dry grounds for obvious reasons. The Tribune team found several people beneath eagerly awaiting the relief material to be air-dropped.

“Once we see people crowding a place of air-drop, our pilots shift to a place close by to avoid melee among the people because everyone should get relief,” said a senior Army officer.

A single Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv) in Kashmir lifts and drops 30,000 kg of supplies from dawn to dusk in a single day.

At the same time, this indigenously built flying machine — ALH — rescues and evacuates 500 people daily. “We are into all sorts of operations. From dropping supplies to evacuating people and carrying heavy equipment such as battery-operated water pump sets and pipes,” said Col Vikram Khatri.

“As stagnant water has started receding gradually in Srinagar, water pump sets and pipes are being airlifted and then ferried to places where they were required. An exercise seems to be on the cards to start draining out water from where it has receded. We work for 14 to 15 hours a day picking up relief material from the JAKLI headquarters and then carrying it to the Badami Bagh cantonment, Bemina, Rajbagh and Qazibagh,” he added.
Obama vs ISIS
US President targets the terror group

President Barack Obama has spoken. He has given a broad outline of his strategy of containing and ultimately defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Even as the US President said: "If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven", he was clear that the danger from the ISIS was a potential, but not an imminent, threat. However, he was not jingoistic in committing more US troops on the ground in Iraq, far from it. He was also not hesitant in maintaining that he would work with a "broad coalition" of US allies. The US finds itself once again in a theatre it had got out of with great difficulty.

The ISIS made major advances in Iraq while the US and the West dithered. By now it controls a significant swath of territory both in Iraq and Syria, where the US does not have forces. While the US air power gives it a great advantage, it is not enough, since it comes tied with a policy of not putting American soldiers on the ground. In Iraq, the new government of Haider al-Abadi has found acceptability among the Sunnis and the Shias, and seems more inclusive. The US will need to support it, even as it ensures that all sections of society are included in governance. This is a tall order, given the deep Shia/Sunni cleavage in the country, which is what the ISIS has effectively exploited.

The "degrade-and-ultimately-destroy-ISIS" objective cannot be carried out by a military strategy. It needs a multi-layered nuanced approach, and will take significant time and effort. The US actions will need to be coupled with an improvement on the ground, for which the US has to work with the government in Iraq. As for Syria, the man fighting the ISIS there is President Bashar Assad, who remains firmly in control in spite of all US efforts to topple his regime. President Obama was measured and reassuring in his speech, but the ISIS threat is real and deserves more attention.
Indian Bofors: Auto components leader Bharat Forge turns focus to defence technology, ready with advanced guns
MUMBAI: Flashback to 1999, and the Kargil war. The military is forced to abort missions due to heavy casualties. Then it decides to deploy the controversial Bofors gun to destroy Pakistani outposts from various vantage points. The strategy pays off, but the military realises it will soon run out of ammunition to feed the howitzers.
 At the urging of army commanders, the defence ministry turns to Baba Kalyani and his company Bharat Forge to make shells for its Bofors 155mm howitzers. Kalyani, chairman of the Bharat Forge Group, recalls how the company got the "emergency order" to make 1 lakh shells. That's how the company's ability to turn out high-quality products at short notice, which helped burnish its global reputation in the auto parts industry, came to play a role in history.

More than a decade since then, the group led by flagship Bharat Forge is ready with artillery equipment that the Indian defence forces will soon start testing. This puts it nicely in place to take advantage of the Narendra Modi government's initiative to encourage greater private participation in the defence sector.

"A lot of emphasis on local manufacturing of defence products has been put by the current government. Thus, companies like us, who've taken defence seriously, are now production-ready," Kalyani told ET in an exclusive interview.

The government has also opened up the sector to more overseas investments to persuade foreign companies to transfer technology to Indian firms. To those who would question the competence of a forging company entering the high-tech defence space, Kalyani said manufacturers such as Bharat Forge are especially well-qualified to do so.

"Companies like us from basic industries such as metallurgy and forging are the ones that are engaged in defence worldwide," he reasoned. For its artillery equipment venture, the Indian company has a joint venture with Elbit Systems, an Israeli defence equipment maker. The venture will initially work on the 155mm howitzer modernisation programme.

Bharat Forge has also built a howitzer from scratch that Kalyani says has far greater firepower than even the Bofors gun that's currently in use. "Our artillery gun would be better than Bofors," he asserted.

"On the operational parameter, it is better in terms that it can move at 25 km an hour on its own, and the gun would take 52 calibre rounds compared with the 39 calibre of Bofors. It would have 'steer by wire', which the Bofors guns do not possess," he said.
By late September or early October, the Indian Army will start testing Bharat Forge's artillery equipment. An ultra light gun will be ready for testing by late September while trials of the 155mm artillery gun will start by December. A 155mm ultra light gun will be ready for testing by the middle of next year.

The company is also actively scouting for opportunities in the small arms space, although the government is yet to give permission to private companies to manufacture such weapons. Bharat Forge decided to diversify away from the automobile sector after the global economic turmoil hit in 2008 and plant capacity had to be idled.

"We did a couple of things. We tightened costs and adopted lean manufacturing processes. We invested heavily in R&D to develop new products" to mitigate the effects of the slump. But "when the Indian economy got battered, we too got battered in the process". This forced the company to look at sectors it could enter by leveraging its metallurgical and forging prowess. Components for the shale gas fracking, aerospace, offshore oil & gas exploration and defence industries were shortlisted.

While bets on offshore oil & gas and shale gas have paid rich dividends thanks to orders from US companies, components for aerospace equipment will need more time to develop and test. The company will focus on India for its defence equipment strategy over the next decade.

"Unless we are recognised in the domestic market, who will acknowledge us abroad?" Kalyani asked. The defence market is a potentially massive one. India's defence imports are currently worth about $20 billion a year, accounting for about 70-75 per cent of its total requirements, Kalyani said.

Along with the offset clause, any other mandatory local manufacturing requirements would be a very big opportunity for Indian companies. An offset clause relates to the local-manufacturing pledge an overseas company needs to make in return for orders. Kapil Singh and Nishit Jalan of Nomura didn't put a number to the defence opportunity in a July 30 research report.

"With the focus of the Indian government on local sourcing and hike in FDI in defence to 49 per cent, the revenue opportunity for the company would be very large but difficult to build in our earnings estimates," they said.
Govt should buy Indian military hardware: Ex-Army chief
New Delhi: Former Army chief Gen Shankar Roychowdhury today emphasised on the need for developing indigenous technologies for achieving self reliance in the defence sector and urged the government to procure military hardware from Indian sources only.

"There should be a change in the attitude. The technologies should be developed and they would not come to us just like that. We have to work hard to get them," he said at the launch of his book "Decoding India's Defence Procurement".

"The blackbox will open, but what will come out remains the question...We have to be Indian and buy Indian," he added.

The editor of the book, General NC Vij emphasised on the need for development of technologies and weapons with the resources that were available with the country.

"Both the public and the private sector should work hand in hand for the upgradation of technologies in India. The budget has increased 15 per cent from the last government but the additional cost of the defence sector stretches up to USD 150 billion. However, the money provided for the budget is only USD 13 billion according to our study," he said.

I believe that a regulatory body should be set up to ensure a genuine 'Transfer of Technology' (TOT), he added.


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