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Friday, 20 June 2008

From Today's Papers - 20 Jun

Nexter offers Caeser Howitzer 155mm/52 calibre gun to India news
19 June 2008

Paris: French government – owned defence manufacturer Nexter is hoping to envisage the interest of the Indian Army in its Caesar truck-mounted howitzer, which it is pitching as the "artillery gun of the 21st century".

According to Nexter, the forward-facing 155mm/52 calibre gun is mounted on a 4x4 or 6x6 truck chassis depending on the terrain of its deployment, and is superior to the self-propelled or towed variety of the artillery weapon for which the Indian Army has floated a global tender earlier in the year.

Speaking to visiting media at the Eurosatory 2008 defence exhibition in Paris-Nord Villepinte, Laurent Nicolas, Nexter's vice president for international affairs for the Asia and Australia region said , "Its low weight of around 18 tonnes reduces both complexity and cost. Its strategic, operational and tactical mobility is superior to that of both the self-propelled guns and towed guns. It matches the reactivity of the self-propelled guns and the light weight of the towed variety."

He said that when compared with a towed gun and its hauler, the Caesar is shorter, requires less space, and is far more mobile and manoeuvrable, both cross country and on the road. It also needs lesser gun crew members.

One the move, gun crew survival is ensured by an armoured cab, and the time spent stationary at the firing position is very short, Nicolas said, pointing out the benefits of the gun.

He said the company was open to any kind of Indian specifications, and was also ready for a full transfer of technology, subject to the French government's permission. Other options that Nexter is open to are joint development, private partnership or redevelopment in the customer country, hinting at India.

Transfer of technology is a mandate under India's defence procurement procedure spelt out in 2006, and contains a key offset clause which requires that 30 per cent of all military deals valued in excess of Rs3 billion ($75 million) need to be reinvested in the country.

"We are ready to give demonstration to India, if requested," Nicolas said. He added that 160 Caesars were in operation with the French, Thai and Saudi Arabian armed forces.

Highlighting the shoot-and-scoot capabilities, he said the gun has a range of over 40 kilometres and can fire six rounds, shut down and exit the area in less than two minutes, thus not allowing the enemy to triangulate its position and reveal its location.

Nexter had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the domestic aviation manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in 2006 for the supply of gun turrets for the Indian Air Force's Mi-17 helicopters. The India-France military engagement dates back to 1953, with the Indian Air Force having purchased its first jet fighters, the Ouragan, from France.

French military hardware currently in service in India includes two squadrons (40-plus aircraft) of the Mirage-2000 delta-wing fighter that the IAF flies, which were purchased in the 1980s. Thales has now proposed an upgrade to keep them in the air for another 25-odd years.

Mumbai-based Mazagon Dockyard Limited is presently engaged in the licensed manufacture of six French-designed Scorpene submarines, and the French are hoping for a repeat order of another six submarines later this year.

Other weapon systems from Nexter include the FAMAS assault rifle, the FRF2 sniper rifle, the Leclerc main battle tank, the Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé (VAB) armoured personnel carrier, the 20 mm modèle F2 gun, the APILAS anti-tank grenade launcher, and the LG1 Mark II 105 mm towed howitzer.

Defending the defence budget —Shujaat Ali Khan

The military establishment is a necessity, however undesirable it may be considered. Without an adequate defence, our sovereignty could be compromised, not necessarily by an all-out war, but through coercive actions

The Rs297 billion proposed Defence Budget for 2008-9 is less than last year’s in real terms. Still, there is talk of excessive spending on defence. It is important to put the issue in perspective, starting with some basics.

The budget caters to expenditure incurred to meet the cost of maintaining and upgrading the armed forces and their weapon systems. This expenditure is normally in proportion to the size of the forces and their “force goals”. The size and force goals are determined by the Defence Strategy as dictated by the Defence Policy, which in turn is subordinate to the National Policy. It is assumed that National Policy (de jure or de facto) is a reflection of our national aspirations.

The “threat perception” is the most important factor in determining a state’s military response; consequently it impacts our budget. The perception of the “threat” flows from the “threat environment”. It is viewed somewhat differently by civil analysts and military planners.

Generally, bilateral relations, geo-strategic compulsions, international pressures and economic interests, are some of the factors which influence the threat environment. In our case, in the last sixty years, Kashmir has put Indo-Pak relations under severe strain. Ironically, it is the political leaders on both sides that have adopted an inflexible stance. In this adverse climate of mutual hostility expecting sudden improvement in the threat environment would be unrealistic.

Consequently, civilian analysts need to appreciate that unless there is a significant improvement in the regional environments, our military guard can only be lowered at a cost to our sovereignty.

Military planners tend to view the threat perception differently. They give little weight to the “environment”, and look rather cynically at “friendly relations” or good intentions of other states. Defence establishments work on the principle that in international relations there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests.

On the table of military balance, a comparison with Indian armed forces indicates a numerical superiority of 2:1 in land forces and 4:1 in naval and air forces. This numerical advantage does not take into account the distinct edge in quality of weapon systems.

India is acquiring state of the art armament from the USA, Russia, Europe and Israel. Its defence budget has grown at an average rate of 16 percent a year for the last many years. This year it has announced military spending of USD26.5 billion, five times more than Pakistan’s. (It may be noted that the Indian defence budget, like ours, does not reflect financial outlays on major weapon system acquisitions, usually transacted on long-term credit and loans.)

The asymmetry in the combat potential of conventional forces of India and Pakistan, to a large extent, has been neutralised by symmetry in nuclear capabilities. Indian superiority in the number of warheads or their delivery systems, is marginal, and enables us to maintain the credibility of nuclear deterrence. But India is also constantly upgrading its nuclear capabilities aiming at a triad of delivery systems in addition to state of the art anti-ballistic missiles. If we remain complacent, we risk degradation and even possible neutralisation of our nuclear deterrence capability.

It is misleading to think that acquisition of nuclear deterrence capability eliminates dependence on conventional forces. The assumption is correct only to the extent that a marginal asymmetry in conventional forces does not upset military balance so long as the force differential is not so wide as to tempt a larger neighbour to impose its will or settle scores through low intensity conflicts (stopping short of an all-out war).

A balance between nuclear and conventional forces is essential to any defence strategy. There is already a wide disparity between the conventional forces of India and Pakistan. Any significant cut in the existing potential will tilt the balance dangerously in favour of India.

Here are some conclusions from these hypotheses:

* There is an indirect relationship between Defence Strategy and National Aspirations, but a direct relationship with threat perception.

* Threat perception has to be viewed in terms of a state’s military capabilities. It is not a simple function of regional environments (which are dynamic and evolutionary in nature) or good intentions of neighbours.

* Regional environments can and should be improved by a fresh pragmatic approach (e.g., the Kashmir dispute). However, improvement in the regional threat environments, do not necessarily eliminate the threat in the short term. At best they transform an “imminent threat” into a “threat in being’, and help in pushing up the conflict threshold.

* Reduction in conventional forces is a viable option if it is based on an acceptable ‘mutual and balanced force-reduction’ formula.

* Defence expenditures are not transparent in any country of the world because of security and secrecy requirements. However, a one liner statement is not enough, and some broad details should be given to Parliament (as it is being done this time) In any case, select committees can always examine these expenditures in greater detail, as is done in the developed democracies.

* Historically, there has never been a war between two nuclear states. Pakistan and India have achieved this equation, thus making all-out war a near impossibility.

* Collectively, we do not live any more under a “Security State Syndrome’, nor a “Kashmir Fixation”. In fact, there is far greater pragmatism on Kashmir today than a decade ago, although some rightwing parties continue to display a ‘no compromise” attitude.

From these arguments it would appear that we are in a bind, having to choose between a rock and a hard place. This year the economic situation is precarious, and may get even worse in the short to mid term. But despite economic difficulties, we may not be able to cut our forces drastically (without a shift in our national policy). I would nevertheless, recommend a gradual cut back over a few years.

Our military system needs rationalisation to save on recurring expenditure. There are three suggestions:

Firstly, make a gradual shift from an all-volunteer army to partial conscription, phased over five years. The Turkish model may be worth emulating.

Secondly, cut down the teeth to tail ratio and outsource maintenance and supply services.

Thirdly, institute compulsory absorption of all retiring persons under sixty years of age in the civilian sector, particularly in security organisations (It is not generally known that average retiring age for officers is 51 years, and 42 for servicemen below commissioned rank).

Pensions could thus be deferred till the age of superannuation, and the services of a disciplined manpower can be utilised. Pensions are not part of the defence budget, but nevertheless are a burden on the national exchequer. It would be a very unpopular step, particularly with the civil establishment, but practical nevertheless. (In developed countries, it is the constitutional right of all citizens to serve till the age of superannuation (60 or 62 years. Consequently the retiring age of military personnel is the same as civilians.)

In the ultimate analysis, the military establishment is a necessity, however undesirable it may be considered. Without an adequate defence, our sovereignty could be compromised, not necessarily by an all-out war, but through coercive actions. In the friendliest of regional environments, we could be living under “benevolent domination” of a bigger neighbour.

Shujaat Ali Khan was a Major General in the Pakistan Army, later serving as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Morocco. He was also Director General of ISI’s internal wing

Jihad and Pakistan Army
Extremist adventurism will be dangerous
by Sushant Sareen

The Pakistan Army has two kinds of officers: nationalist jihadis and Islamist jihadis”, says Arif Jamal, a Pakistani scholar at Harvard University and author of the forthcoming book, “Shadow War: the Untold Story of Jihad in Kashmir”. According to him, the nationalist jihadis would like nothing better than to snatch Jammu and Kashmir from India and see India break up. The Islamist jihadis, on the other hand, hate all infidels. They consider the US as the bigger enemy and see India as a sideshow which can be taken on after they have vanquished the “Great Satan”. Arif believes that the Islamists are on the ascendant and will eventually replace the nationalist jihadists.
There are many who will view Arif’s analysis of the Pakistan Army with a great deal of skepticism. But this they will do at their own peril. Just as every bearded, conservatively dressed, non-drinking, five-time namazi is not a terrorist, similarly every clean-shaven military officer, who speaks English with a clipped accent, dresses up immaculately in Western suits, enjoys his whisky and generally follows a liberal life-style isn’t necessarily a moderate or a liberal. And yet a lot of people think that the army General Musharraf left is very different from the army he inherited, and that the peace process between India and Pakistan has drastically reduced the hostile perception of India among Pakistan army officers.
Alluring as this thought is, it begs the question that if, despite the peace process, officers of the Indian Army are not only deeply suspicious of Pakistan but even hostile, how is it possible that the entire officer corps of the Pakistan Army has undergone such a radical transformation. Although mutual animus among officers of the two armies is entirely understandable, there is a big difference between the two armies. The Indian Army is firmly under civilian control and cannot even countenance going against the orders of the government. The Pakistan Army, on the other hand, is a law unto itself and can easily sabotage any peace initiative that the civilian government in Islamabad might want to take with India.
Among the most glaring failures of General Musharraf, who before his transmogrification into an “enlightened moderate”, was a nationalist jihadi (he openly defended a terrorist organisation, Harkatul Mujahideen, held a brief for the Taliban and supported the jihad in Kashmir), has been his inability to purge the Pakistan Army of its jihadist leanings. Perhaps, he failed because the jihadi culture is deeply imbedded in the psyche of the Pakistan Army, and increasingly its people. May be, he failed because there were just too many of them in the Army and it wasn’t prudent to carry out a cleansing operation without risking a putsch. Also hindering the somewhat half-hearted attempts to rid the Army of its jihad ethos was the desire to retain the jihad option for achieving strategic goals in the future. Finally, after his historic U-turns, first on Afghanistan (which riled the Islamists) and then on Kashmir (which would have rankled with the nationalists), General Musharraf had become deeply unpopular and was probably in no position to push through the ideological reforms in the Army to the extent he might have liked.
Let alone the entire rank and file of the Army, even General Musharraf’s close associates remain unreconstructed jihadists, totally impervious to any sort of enlightened moderation, much less enlightened national interest. A recent TV interview with Lt- Gen. Jamshed Kiyani, a former sidekick and now bitter critic of Musharraf, was quite a revelation to understand what goes in the Pakistan Army. In the interview Kiyani blasted Musharraf for “slavish subservience” to the US, but conveniently avoided listing Pakistan’s options after 9/11. It appeared as though he was dying to blurt out that the Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons was a guarantee against any hostile action by the US. Quite obviously, for Kiyani and his ilk (a large tribe, one dare say) nuclear weapons are weapons of use and not weapons of deterrence.
As long as Musharraf was the Army Chief, the officer corps kept their anger and resentment in check and followed orders of the Army Chief, even if sullenly. But as soon as Musharraf stepped down as Army Chief, the restraints and constraints imposed by the Musharraf dispensation seem to have loosened. As a result, there are disturbing signs that both the nationalist and Islamist jihad is back in fashion. It is still not quite clear whether this is happening because the new Army Chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, has allowed it to happen or because he has still not been able to establish his authority in the organisation. Whatever the case, it means that the urge for jihad is alive and kicking.
For the moment, however, serving Army officers are making politically and diplomatically correct noises and are not coming out openly in favour of jihad. Instead, the lead has been taken by the ex-servicemen many of whom held important positions under Musharraf, and whom even after retirement never opened their mouths in public as long as Musharraf was the boss. But with regime change, they have rediscovered their basic, or should we say baser, instincts. They are targeting Musharraf not because they want to strengthen democracy but because they want a return to the jihadist policies of the 1980’s and 1990’s. These ex-servicemen are followers of the “strategic defiance” school, which aims to use jihad as an instrument of foreign and domestic policy under the protective umbrella of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
The big question is whether the noise being made by these spent bullets of the Pakistan Army will find resonance in the serving officer corps. There is reason to believe that the jihadists have received encouragement from the ambiguous statements that General Kiyani has made on Kashmir and the peace moves he has initiated with the Taliban in the Pashtun belt. For instance, within days of Asif Zardari’s interview to an Indian TV channel in which he clearly pointed to a radically different approach to solving the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan, General Kiyani, during a visit to the forward areas along the LoC in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, seemed to negate Zardari’s comments by reaffirming “the Army’s commitment to the Kashmir cause in line with the aspirations of the nation”.
The rising incidents of infiltration, repeated violations of the ceasefire along the LoC, the re-emergence of jihadi groups who are once again holding public meetings, the re-opening of the offices of these groups, talk of relaxing the ban on some of the jihadi organisations ostensibly to bring them into the political system, and the sudden re-activation of the propaganda machinery to incite the Sikhs, all seem to suggest that tensions with India are going to be ratcheted up. This is something that will certainly please the nationalist jihadi lobby in the Army, and will even find support from the Islamist jihadis.
Clearly, if Pakistan is once again reverting to the jihadi adventurism of the closing decades of the 20th century, then it will be making a terrible miscalculation. In the past, Pakistan had to contend only with India. But the situation today is vastly different. Any adventurism by Pakistan can easily invite the wrath of the world, especially the West. The question is whether the Pakistan Army gives in to its jihadi fervour or whether the instinct for self-preservation acquires primacy. If it’s the latter, then there is hope for Pakistan. But if it is the former, then catastrophe is unavoidable.

2 Pak soldiers die in clash on LoC

Islamabad, June 19
Two Pakistan soldiers were killed and two wounded on Thursday in a clash with “unknown miscreants” on the border with India in the disputed Kashmir region, a Pakistani military spokesman said. It was the most serious incident on the so-called Line of Control (LoC), an old ceasefire line separating the Pakistani and Indian armies in Kashmir, for some time, but the spokesman said the fire had apparently not come from the Indian side.
“The fire was not from the Indian bunkers,” said Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas. — Reuters

Boundary row very sensitive issue: China

Beijing, June 19
Amid reports of frequent incursions by Chinese forces into Sikkim, Beijing today described the festering boundary row with India as a "very sensitive issue".
However, it noted that the two sides had agreed that their strategic cooperation in other areas should not be affected by the decades-old row."Tremendous changes" had taken place in Sino-India relationship compared to the past and a strategic partnership had been agreed to, Chinese vice-foreign minister Wu Dawei told reporters here. He said the leaders of the two countries had taken a strategic view of the relationship.
Both sides, Wu said, had agreed that they need to work together to maintain peace and tranquility in the boundary area and "strategic cooperation between China and India in other areas should not be affected by the boundary question." "China and India have a common border of over 4,000 km. This is ... a very sensitive issue," Wu said.He said, "People were collecting firewood or chopping trees - either Indians in China or Chinese in Indian territory. When this happened in the past, they would be arrested because people thought they were crossing the border illegally."
The troops along the two sides of the border also never interacted with each other in the past, "whether out of animosity or not, I cannot say. But tremendous changes have taken place in the China-India relationship," Wu said.
"A strategic partnership has been agreed to and the leaders of the two countries have taken a strategic and long-term view of our relationship," he said. — PTI

India to protest Sikkim incursions by China
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 19
India is concerned over the recent incursions by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) into its territory along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and will take up the issue at the ‘appropriate highest level’ with China. Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a seminar, minister of state for defence M.M. Pallam Raju said the issue would be raised at the next flag meeting between the Indian Army and PLA and also discussed at the appropriate highest level. “As two responsible neighbours, we will sort it out."
In recent days, there have been frequent incursions into Indian territory along the LAC.
"It is unfortunate that these have happened and it (Sikkim issue) is being raised again...Sikkim is a closed chapter as far as we are concerned," the minister said.
Asked if the issue of LAC transgressions could erupt into a major row between India and China, Raju expressed the hope that the situation would not come to that point.
On whether there was need for increasing force levels along the LAC, Raju said, "Augmenting the force is not the answer. The answer is in understanding what is the point that they are making. I think it is China's way of putting pressure to resolve the border disputes with India. We are going about with talks to arrive at a consensus. It is their style and we have our style (of dealing with border disputes)."
Earlier, Raju addressed a seminar on ‘Indian Way of War-fighting’.

Pak firing again
Army foils infiltration in Mendhar sector

Shariq Majeed
Tribune News Service

Rajouri, June 19
In yet another ceasefire violation, the Pakistani army fired indiscriminately on Indian positions to give cover to about 30 militants trying to cross the Line of Control (LoC) in Mendhar sector of Poonch today.
The Army retaliated, killing eight militants near the Zero Line in front of the Deep Post.
Sources said the firing took place at about 2 pm along Betaar Nullah near the Deep Post in Mendhar sector.
Bodies of six militants were still lying at the no man’s land near the LoC, the sources said. The Pakistani army used light machine gun fire to try and retrieve the bodies.
Reports suggested that the Pakistani army attempted to destroy the Deep Post as many infiltration bids have been foiled in the past.
The infiltrating group of militants might have been regulars in the Pakistani army, which is why they open fire to take back the bodies, the source said.
Lt-Col S.D. Goswami, defence spokesperson, claimed that firing took place at around 12:15 pm and continued till 5:30 pm.He said the infiltration bid was foiled. During the last two months, the Pakistani troops have violated the four-year-old ceasefire about six times.Srinagar (PTI): The Army refuted that it violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and said an infiltration bid was foiled leading to the gunning down of a militant who sneaked in from across the border.
“No violation of ceasefire has taken place along the LoC by our troops guarding the borders”, an army spokesman said reacting to claims emanating from Pakistan that Indian troops had violated the ceasefire by opening fire on their troops.
An infiltration bid was foiled by the troops at Sonapindi Gali in Kupwara district when troops exchanged fire for 30 minutes with the militants attempting to sneak in from across the border in which one intruder was killed.

Army rescues 10,000 in Bengal
Flood situation grim in Jharkhand, Orissa

Kolkata/Bhubaneswar, June 19
Army personnel today rescued over 10,000 people in West Bengal’s flood-hit West Midnapore district as water levels of major rivers rose alarmingly in Orissa while flash floods continued to hit Jharkhand.

In Assam, with a slight let-up in the rains, floods were on the wane in worst-hit Lakhimpur district, but nearly eight lakh people continued to be affected by the swirling waters, which had claimed 22 lives.

The Army was deployed in Sabang, Pingla and Narayangarh blocks of West Midnapore where three lakh people were marooned due to the floods, District Magistrate N.S. Nigam said.

So far four persons have died while over 10,000 people have been rescued with many places remaining inaccessible.

In Kolkata, state civil defence minister Srikumar Mukherjee said 15 additional high speed boats have sent to the flood-hit areas of East and West Midnapore districts for relief work. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee held a meeting with Cabinet colleagues and top officials and asked them to take steps to provide succour of flood-hit people.

In Orissa, relief and rescue operations were stepped up with the help of Air Force choppers as over 850 villages remained marooned. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik undertook an aerial survey of flood-hit areas today. The worst hit were Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Bhadrak and Jajpur districts where water levels of rivers Subarnarekha, Budhabalanga and Jalaka increased susbtantially and flash floods were triggered by depression over the Bay of Bengal.

In Jharkhand, about 2,500 people have been affected due to flash floods that hit East Singhbhum and Sareikela- Kharsawan districts as Chief Minister Madhu Koda made an aerial survey of the affected areas today. — PTI

Whodunnit? Officer claims Pak tip-off on militants

Srinagar, June 19: A defence spokesman in Jammu today claimed the army had foiled an infiltration bid from across the Line of Control after receiving a tip-off from Pakistani troops, the first time such information has been shared by forces of the two countries.

“The field commander of the Pakistani unit shared information with our commander that a group of militants was infiltrating to this side in the Krishna Gati sector. An operation was subsequently launched,” said Lt Colonel S.D. Goswami, the defence spokesman in Jammu.

Lt Col Goswami said a group of three to four militants was engaged in an encounter from 12.15pm today in Poonch district of Jammu. “The intermittent firing continued till 5.30pm and resumed in the evening.”

A military source said the encounter dragged on as the heavily armed militants had taken positions in the alleys, making it difficult for the army to locate them. Unconfirmed reports said four militants had been killed.

Lt Col Goswami, however, refused to say how and through what channel the tip-off was passed on.

But another officer said the information was shared on hotline between officials of the two countries based in Delhi and Islamabad. Only the directors-general of military operations of the two countries are connected by hotline.

A source in the army headquarters in Delhi, where the DGMO has his office, said there was no “advance information”.

“Our troops fired on them (the militants). They took cover and retreated, possibly back into PoK. There was also intermittent small arms fire on our troops from across the LoC. We cannot say it is a ceasefire violation because we cannot ascertain that it was from a Pakistani Army post. However, we will say that there was no advance information, no tip-off, no joint operation to foil an infiltration bid,” the source said.

Political sources said the “advance information”, which comes months after the People’s Party government took over the reins in Islamabad, could be part of Pakistan’s attempt to ease tensions along the frontline after being accused by India in the last few weeks of violating the 2003 ceasefire.

On May 19, the Indian Army blamed Pakistani troops for violating the ceasefire by killing a soldier. It was the first casualty as a result of direct Pakistani attack in at least a year.

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