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Saturday, 25 April 2015

From Today's Papers - 25 Apr 2015

Boat seizure a blessing for Pak crew
Manas Dasgupta

Ahmedabad, April 24
The seizure of the Pakistani boat with narcotics worth over Rs 600 crores off the Porbandar coast in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat earlier this week has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for its eight arrested crew members.

They might have been drowned in the high seas if not intercepted by the Indian navy and coast guard in a joint operations as the boat had developed technical snags and was fast sinking, official sources said here today.

Interrogations of the eight crew members arrested from the boat revealed that the contraband was shipped by a Pakistan-based group called Punjabi drug gang and the 232 packages of narcotics was to be delivered to a vessel coming from Dubai but it failed to reach the destination at the appointed time.

The crew members were waiting in the high seas for over two-and-a-half days for the vessel from Dubai to arrive and it was during that period that the boat developed technical snags and started sinking. Its water pumping system failed and the crew members had to manually drain out water but the task was going to be beyond their capacity.

Sources in the Gujarat police, which is one of the 20 agencies jointly interrogating the arrested crew who were brought to Porbandar, said the group looked to be unprofessional in drugs operation.

“Otherwise they would not have ventured out with such a rickety boat and untrained crew members,” the sources said. The contraband carried by it was also of relatively inferior quality.

The boat, Al Yazir, had set out from Karachi’s Hyderi Port on April 12 with two crewmen and 232 packets of narcotics. Six others hopped in later at Ketty Bandar some 150 km south of Karachi.

Soon after starting from Ketty port, the boat’s radiator and dynamo conked off and the crew had to take shelter at a small creek a few miles away for two days till the captain managed to get the boat repaired.
20,000 combat troops test battle readiness
Tribune News service

Chandigarh/New Delhi, April 24
To hone its combat skills and validate its strike capabilities, Ambala-based Kharga Corps, the Army’s premier strike formation, is conducting a major field exercise in the Suratgarh sector of Rajasthan.

Code-named “Brahmashira”, the exercise will involve over 20,000 combat troops along with all affiliated components as well as air support by the Indian Air Force.

The exercise would test the battle readiness and operational effectiveness of the strike formation and involve seamless integration of land and air elements as part of the Integrated Theatre Battle Concept.

Conceptualised by the Kharga Corps under aegis of the Western Command, Brahmashira aims at rapid mobilisation and launching speedy multiple offensives deep into the enemy territory. The manoeuvres being rehearsed will allow the Army formations to break through multiple obstacles within a restricted time frame. The focus of the exercise will be on new and efficient ways of fighting a war in a synergised battlefield.

The exercise envisages mechanised manoeuvres with an entire spectrum of new generation equipment, including major weapon platforms. These combat manoeuvres also co-opt a significant contribution from the fighter/ground attack aircraft of the IAF, unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely piloted vehicles and attack and utility helicopters.
Will women be able to pass the Army's elite Ranger School?
WASHINGTON -- Of the 399 soldiers who started Ranger training this week, 19 of them were women, marking the first time the notoriously tough course has been opened to females.

They're going through it together but while watching them you can pick out the women -- their hair is closely cropped while the men's heads are shaved. The Army wouldn't allow us to identify or talk to the women.
The women tend to be smaller than the men -- but that didn't matter when it came to the battle carry. This is just the first week of a 62-day course designed to replicate the constant stress, lack of food and sleep deprivation of combat.

The armed services are under orders to open up all their ground combat unites by the end of the year - or give the Secretary of Defense a reason why not. For the Army that meant opening up their grueling Ranger School to women to see if they can make it through.
Less than half the men can be expected to make it all the way through. No one knows how the women will do.

First they have to pass a fitness test which includes a five mile run in 40 minutes and 49 push-ups in two minutes. The officers in charge of the course say the women themselves have insisted that standards not be lowered to accommodate them.

A 12-mile foot march has to be completed in three hours. If you don't make it, you're out. During the march they carry 35 pound packs -- eventually they will have to haul up to 115 pounds.
After four days, 184 men and eight women were left. In percentage terms that's pretty close to equal. In the end, making the grade -- man or woman -- will come down to wanting it, really wanting it.

Even if the women pass the course, they won't be allowed to serve in the Ranger Regiment because it is still off limits to women.

Friday, 24 April 2015

From Today's Papers - 24 Apr 2015

Pak raises Kashmir at Asia-Afro meet, India sees red
Pakistan today raised the Kashmir issue at the Asian-African Conference here, saying it was "tragic and unacceptable" that the inalienable right to self- determination was not fulfilled there, a view strongly rebutted by India.
The issue was raised by Pakistan's National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz at the multilateral forum where countries from Asia and Africa are participating, including India which is being represented by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

"A major focus of the Bandung (1955) was respect for fundamental human rights, including the right of self -determination. Many of the countries present here are proud sovereign and independent states still struggling under the yoke (rpt) yoke of colonism that time. We have, therefore, come a long way after that," Aziz said at the summit.

"It is tragic and unacceptable that 60 years after committing to those overarching principles people from Palestine to Kashmir are still awaiting fulfilment of their inalienable right to self-determination," he said in a session chaired by Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina.

Terming Pakistan's view as "unacceptable", Secretary (East) in MEA Anil Wadhwa immediately countered through Right to Reply, saying: "It is most unfortunate that Pakistan has once again chosen to use an international forum such as this to make tendentious remarks about Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral part of India." Aziz also mentioned Pakistan being the biggest victim of terrorism and violent extremism that has left 65,000 people dead. Pakistan has been raising Kashmir at international fora, including the UN. — PTI
Khukri cuts through 200th mark today
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
On April 24, 1815 began a new regimental chapter in the chequered history of the Indian Army with the introduction of the hardy Gorkha troops into the rank and file. As the Gorkhas complete 200 years of service, first under the Raj and thereafter with Independent India they look back at a proud military tradition embellished with the scars and accolades of numerous military campaigns undertaken around the world. Two of the oldest Gorkha units, the First Battalion of the First Gorkha Rifles (1/1GR) and the First Battalion of the Third Gorkha Rifles (1/3GR) are celebrating this momentous occasion at their present locations in Pathankot in Punjab and Salugara in West Bengal respectively.

Both battalions came into being on the same day in the spring of 1815. Initially called the First Nusseree Battalion and later known as the 1st King George V’s Own Gurkha Rifles, 1/1 GR was raised at Subathu in the Shivalik foothills near Shimla, while 1/3 GR was raised at Almora in present day Uttarakhand as the Kemaoon Battalion and later christened as 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles.
Pilots battle growing loss of drive to fly, says IAF study
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
A study conducted by specialists at the IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) has revealed that loss of motivation for flying among aircrew in the armed forces is becoming more common.

Based on their findings, the authors of the study have suggested that pilot selection needs to include tests of motivation for flying and emotional stability, with separate tests for stress coping and resilience.

The findings of the study, undertaken by George CS, head of Department of Aviation Psychology, IAM, and NS Reddy, a graded specialist in aviation medicine, have been published in a recent issue of the Journal of Aerospace Medicine.  The rising instances of loss of motivation come in the backdrop of the armed forces facing a severe shortage of junior and middle-rung officers.

In the military, aeronautical adaptability is a complex issue involving motivation to fly, ability to fly and emotional stability for a career. Aeronautical motivation involves the desire to fly, the intensity and direction of which are geared towards flight safety; and is made up of both emotional and cognitive components.

It is a dynamic balance between such positive factors as joy, emotional meaning and defence-coping skills and negative factors such as fear, anxiety and anticipated or experienced danger, according to the authors.

The study has manifested loss of motivation for flying either as a primary process or secondary process. The primary condition is where there is no accompanying medical problem but lack of motivation is simply due to personal factors. These cases are dealt with administratively.

The secondary process generally calls for medical disposal as it may include medical, psychological and emotional factors.

Pointing out that motivation, along with the other factors, has a direct bearing on flight safety, crew co-ordination and mission accomplishment, the study adds that loss of motivation due to various reasons may degrade performance.
The Great War, Gallipoli & Churchill
A remarkable outcome of the Gallipoli fiasco and its heavy costs in lives, was the new awareness in the people of Australia and New Zealand of their national identity.
COMMEMORATIONS of  FirWorld War I, a century ago, began last  year will continue for some time.  It will be a hundred years in  April, 2015 after the disastrous campaign fought in the Gallipoli Peninsula, between Turkey and the Allied powers led by United Kingdom. World War I was  termed the Great War as much for the size of the forces which fought in it as for the carnage and costs to victors and vanquished alike. Gallipoli was a side show of the war but became a campaign marked by the valour and sacrifices of the troops, mainly from Australia, New Zealand, France and UK as also of Turkish army led by Kemal Ataturk.

It was a costly but wasted campaign away from the  great battlefields in Belgium and  France which made the Great War famous. It was a campaign initiated by Winston Churchill against military advice. The disastrous campaign led to Churchill resigning from the British cabinet and going into oblivion to command a regiment on the western front. The Great War  brought about the breakup of the Ottoman empire but Gallipoli began the emergence of Turkey as a modern state under Ataturk.

A remarkable outcome of the Gallipoli fiasco and its heavy costs in lives, was  the  new awareness in Australia and New Zealand of their national identity. The two nations began the shift from being mere appendages of  Great Britain  to becoming states in their own rights. Knowledge of  London's  misplaced assumptions about its colonies' willingness to bear any costs saw the beginning of demands for a new status for Australia and New Zealand.

April 25, the day the Gallipoli campaign commenced in 1915, became known as the ANZAC Day  named after the men of Australia New Zealand Army Corps  who  fought against impossible odds. Today ANZAC has surpassed  Remembrance Day in the emotional upsurge it creates in the antipodes. In Canberra and Wellington, the most impressive war memorials are for the ANZAC  in Gallipoli.

Grand Strategy which ruled  imperial notions in London in 1914-1915 required that  its Russian ally be supported against Germany. The reality was of the belief that a Russian collapse would allow Germany to  turn all its military power against France and Britain. Russia could only be supported  by opening a supply route from the south, which required capturing the Dardanelles and Constantinople, which  meant defeating Turkey which had allied with Germany.  Churchill,  First Lord of the Admiralty,  ambitious and confident as ever, over ruled naval and military advice and carried the argument for a naval offensive.  He managed to get old and reconditioned ships and submarines, and  even  commandeered  Turkey's naval  ships under renovation in Britain, to form an armada.

London believed that a show of force would be enough to bring down Turkey's resistance. The operation which involved  pushing  ships and submarines through the narrow Dardanelles straits was akin to a naval version of  Charge of the Light Brigade. The operations was a failure with shore -based  Turkish guns blazing away at the hapless armada, leading to ships and submarine being destroyed. There was no military or land attack to support the operations.

A stalemate ensued and was  followed by a military attack   with  troops from Australia, New Zealand, Britain and France and  some Indian  troops. They attempted to take the heights occupied by Turkish army led  by Gen Kemal Ataturk and advised by German generals. It was a long and costly eight months long disaster with 252,000 casualties to the allies and roughly the same numbers of Turkish soldiers. The disdain with which London, and particularly Churchill, viewed the  campaign is to be seen in the  response to the defeat. When the public became aware of the casualties the media, the cabinet and  the Prime Minister turned against Churchill and he was sacked, but led a campaign for more troops to be sent to Gallipoli. 

The costs rising in casualties,  General  Hamilton  the  commander was asked to plan a withdrawal.  Imperial  hubris or obstinacy prevailed and he refused.  He was replaced  by General  Munro who on arrival saw the situation and ordered a withdrawal. Churchill, protagonist of military offensives, fumed and said of Munro, “He came, he saw, he capitulated.” Not long after that Russia collapsed, the Tsar abdicated and communist rule began in Moscow. Germany was able to turn its full military power to the western front  and by  1918 was  near Paris.

Churchill soldiered on with his Regiment in France, and  worked his way back into British politics after the War. He went on to become  Prime Minister and benchmarked his place in history by leading the allies to a stupendous victory in World War II, in 1945. Kemal Ataturk rebuilt Turkey from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. He paid the soldier's fine compliment to allied troops who had perished in Gallipoli with his words,   “You, the Mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe your tears.... your sons are now lying in our bosoms, and having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.” ANZAC  Day  commemorates the sacrifices made in a pointless military campaign.
The purchase of Rafale fighters points to India's failed defence indigenisation plans

In all the confusion that hangs over the Modi government's decision to procure 36 Rafale fighters 'off the shelf', we need to focus on the real issues. First, the imperative of plugging the shortages in the Indian Air Force (IAF)'s combat strength. Second, to once again kickstart the decades-old effort to develop a fighter of our own.

We started to design and build our own combat aircraft in the late 1950s. The HF-24 Marut programme was a spectacular, though limited success. The count ..

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