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Thursday, 26 June 2008

From Today's Papers - 26 Jun

Pay hike for armed forces
Decision likely today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 25
A final decision on the revised pay package as well as opening promotion avenues for the Army, the Navy and the Air Force top brass is likely to be finalised at a key meeting tomorrow. And the government may announce the revision in the pay of the armed forces by the next week. This will be a revision of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission. The move is aimed at stemming the exodus of officers. Apart from the expected hike in salary, the Army could also get more posts in form of an increase in the number of generals, brigadiers and colonels and their equivalent in the Navy and the Air Force.
At the meeting tomorrow, defence minister A.K. Antony will lead his ministry’s delegation comprising the chiefs of the Navy and the Air Force, besides the Deputy Chief of the Army, to work out a new pay package with the empowered committee of secretaries headed by cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar. The meeting assumes significance in the wake of the reported dissatisfaction
over the commission recommendations among the forces, which is triggering an increased exodus.
Chiefs of staff committee chairman Admiral Sureesh Mehta will make a presentation to the committee before it submits its report to the Cabinet. An enhanced military service pay for personnel below officer rank and rectifying anomalies in the rank structure between armed forces and paramilitary forces, and the civil services are expected to be agreed upon at the meeting.

Indian Defence Industry:
The Co Production Revolution
by Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle

India’s Defence Industry sheltered for over half a century is moving towards a modern paradigm of cooperative production which if properly harnessed could lead to a co production revolution. The government is committed to modernization of the defence industry and this seems to be a trend across party lines. Thus even the next government irrespective of party affiliations is likely to pursue a similar course which is encouraging.

The present UPA team dithering over the Indo US Civil Nuclear Deal seems to be firm on modernization of defence production. Indicating the need for defence modernization while commemorating the DRDO day, the Prime Minister Mr. Man Mohan Singh said “India’s internal priorities and external policies are closely linked. Our foreign policy rests on the principles of peaceful co-existence and friendship with the rest of the world. We seek an international order that is stable, just and conducive to meeting the challenges of poverty alleviation, unemployment and inequalities. We seek a harmonious environment in our neighborhood and a web of linkages that facilities mutually beneficial cooperation. India pursues its foreign policy as a responsible member of the international community”.

Stressing on modernization, he said this will be successful only if it is based on, “our ability to clearly define those strategic and critical areas in which development of national capability is a must. We must pursue this goal with determination and a long-term perspective”. The Prime Minister reiterated the commitment of the government to building a broader base for the defence industry thus, “The Government remains committed to the broad-basing of the defence industry in India. Our resources, infrastructure capabilities, and intellectual capital - in both public and private sectors – should be treated as national assets, and be carefully nurtured and optimally utilized”.

Speaking at functions related to the Berlin Air Show 2008, the Defence Minister Mr. A Antony stated, “While the Indian defence industry, which has been largely in the state sector, has developed broad-based capabilities, we have recently put in place policies and initiatives to encourage private sector participation. The defence industry sector in India is now open up to 100% for Indian private sector participation, while foreign direct investment is permissible upto 26%. Procurement policies [will] also encourage co-development and co-production with international manufacturers. The Defence Offset Facilitation Agency set up in September last year to act as a bridge between the Indian defence industry and potential vendors, both foreign and Indian, also helps private industry to obtain industrial licenses for the manufacture of defence products. Encouraged by these policies, our companies are entering into high-tech partnerships with defence majors located abroad to bid for advanced systems and projects in India”.

The Berlin Air Show is an important event where the Defence minister has successfully made a bid for co production in line with the industry trends world wide. The critical area of concern as far as foreign companies are concerned is the offsets in defence which have been placed at 30 percent and in some cases as the MMRCA even up to 50 percent. Managing the same will continue to be the biggest challenge for the foreign companies particularly when the FDI limits in defence in India are at 26 percent. Given this dichotomy there may be some reason to believe that the new policy on defence procurement may consider some concessions to the foreign manufacturers. Their lobby is also very strong and hence will tend to nudge the government to move further to extend the FDI limits in investments.

There are many indications however that the co production model is already functional in the Indian defence industry. The BrahMos is not only a joint venture between India and Russia but also a public private partnership involving many private firms as Tata and Godrej. In the multi barrel launcher Pinaka, Tata and Larsen and Toubro have undertaken production. While the DRDO and European defence consortium EADS have successfully developed an advanced missile warning system and will start its serial production in Bangalore said a media report against the back drop of the Berlin Air Show. EADS and the Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) are said to have collaborated on the missile warning system, based on Missile Launch Detection System (MILDS). Chief Executive Officer of EADS' Defence and Security Division, Stefan Zoller stated, "Due to this success, the missile warning system has been accepted as indigenous equipment by the Indian authorities," he said. "After initial cooperation of Defence Electronics and (Bangalore-based) Alpha Technologies which has already been started, the transition of series production at the Alpha manufacturing base is foreseen in near future."

The Akash air defence missile system which will be inducted in the Army and the Air Force soon, is also a joint venture between public sector Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) and Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL), the private sector Larsen and Toubro and Tata Power.

So the Indian defence industry is set to undergo a revolution wherein apart from public private partnerships there would be scope for tie ups with foreign firms. But the path is not likely to be easy with massive allegations of corruption and slow procedures, it is only those with deep pockets who can invest in defence in India, largely the reason for the sector remaining with the government so far.

Air force braves Red flag

New Delhi, June 25: If a Red Flag can be a red rag, this is it.
In the teeth of opposition from the Left over strategic ties with the US, the Indian Air Force is sending its most advanced fighter aircraft, a transporter, a mid-air-refueller and about 150 “air warriors” for a war game born out of lessons America learnt in its war against the communists in Vietnam.
The government has cleared the contingent and the funds required for it, an air headquarters source said today. India will incur about $20 million in despatching the contingent to the US, a figure close to the expenses the US paid for participating in the Malabar 2007 war game in the Bay of Bengal last September which, too, was opposed by the Left.
Officials from the Pentagon emphasise that India would not have to incur such expenses if it were to sign a Logistics Support Agreement, a pact that the UPA government has practically put into cold storage because of the Left.
But the defence ministry is putting the finishing touches to another US-specific “end-user agreement” that will allow verification of the use of military equipment that the US sells to India.
Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major and the IAF had wanted to send the contingent for the early-2008 edition of the Red Flag exercise. But permission for that was withheld, though, officially, it was said that the Centre was considering the implications and the financial burden. The green signal has been given now for the August edition of the exercise.
The politics and diplomatics over the war game do not concern the IAF. “We have to learn the latest in tactics and learn from the experiences of some of the finest air warriors. If we do not learn the latest in tactics, how can we develop as an advanced air force?” the official in air headquarters wondered.
But such an argument does not wash with the Left. The CPM feels that India-US military-to-military relations are part of a package with the civilian nuclear deal.
The air headquarters source said participation in the Red Flag exercise should not be interpreted as a pro-US military posture. “Our Suryakiran (Indian Airforce’s aerobatic squadron) will also be going to China during the Beijing Olympics. Our air chief has also said that a joint drill will with the Chinese PLA airforce is a distinct possibility and we are working towards it.”
The airforce hopes that these friendly gestures towards China will mollify the Left.
Red Flag is not a bilateral exercise because contingents of air forces from at least five or six more countries will participate.
The IAF contingent for Red Flag Nellis, now a war game with two editions a year, will comprise eight Sukhoi-30 Mki multirole fighters, the very latest in its fleet of combat aircraft, an IL-78 refueller, also recently acquired, and an IL-76 transporter.

Pak fleecing US in war on terror
26 Jun 2008, 0059 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has been fleecing the US with exaggerated and sometimes fabricated expenses for its role in the war on terror, American auditors have reported, just hours after the Bush administration forked out $ 523 million in the latest payout to its ally.
Washington has paid more than $5 billion to reimburse Pakistan for counter-terrorism expenses of which the administration could not account for as much as $ 2 billion, according to a Government Accounting Office (GAO) audit presented before a Congressional committee on Tuesday.
The GAO report spoke of auditors uncovering an array of dodgy costs, including millions "spent" on roads and bunkers that were never built. Islamabad also billed $200 million for an air defence radar system, even though al-Qaida has no known aircraft. The GAO disclosures, which first surfaced last month, led some US experts to conclude that Pakistan has used the money from the war on terror to bulk up its military for future confrontation with India. A more detailed scrutiny of the GAO report now reveals wide range of questionable billing, including inflated expense for meals and vehicle maintenance. At one time, the defence department was paying the Pakistani navy more than $3.7 million per year in repair and maintenance charges on a fleet of fewer than 20 passenger vehicles that was never used in combat. The charges amounted to more than $19,000 per month for each vehicle.
The report said that more than a third of US funds provided to Pakistan after 9/11 were subject to accounting problems, including duplication and possible fraud. Pakistan is the largest recipient of the so-called Coalition Support Funds that the Bush administration launched in 2001, receiving more than $5.5 billion of the nearly $7 billion distributed to 27 countries. There was the predictable volley of questions and criticism when the matter came up on Tuesday before lawmakers tasked with oversight and government reform, even as their colleagues in other committees were busy forking out more money to Pakistan.
"The more I learn about US coalition support funds to Pakistan, the more I am troubled: first, in terms of waste, fraud, and abuse of a huge amount of US taxpayer funds; second, about the program's failure to achieve vital US security objectives; and third, about the program's incompatibility with a long-term strategic partnership between the US and Pakistan," said John Tierney, chairman of the House oversight and government reform subcommittee on national security.
There was also criticism from the senate. "It seems as though the Pakistani military went on a spending spree with US taxpayers' wallets and no one bothered to investigate the charges. To this day we do not have proper verification for how our money was used," said senator Tom Harkin. Other senators have argued for even greater funding for Pakistan, albeit in the social sector, a fact that the Pakistani envoy to US seized on to press for more money after the House cleared the latest CSF bill for $ 373 million.

Japan, China differ over military exchange
Toshimitsu Ishima and Chikara Shima / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers

As diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Beijing gradually warm, the first visit to China by a Maritime Self-Defense Force warship has shed light on some questions relating to military exchanges between the two countries. What do the two sides expect from bilateral military exchanges and what form will their defense-based collaborations take? Flying the Hinomaru flag, the MSDF destroyer Sazanami arrived at Zhanjiang, a military port of the Chinese Navy's South China Sea Fleet, on Tuesday afternoon. Chinese sailors lined the quay to welcome the destroyer, holding a red banner which read, "We cordially welcome you on your first visit to China."
The Self-Defense Forces began discussing mutual visits by Japanese and Chinese warships around 1997. In summit talks held in October 2000, then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji agreed for the first time to mutual visits by the MSDF and the Chinese Navy. From 2001, field-grade officers of the SDF and Chinese military visited each other's countries as part of human-exchange programs managed by the Nippon Foundation. But China twice postponed planned visits following trips to Yasukuni Shrine by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in April 2002 and January 2004. The history of Japan-China exchanges involving defense personnel has been marked by setbacks.
Hideaki Kaneda, 63, director of the Okazaki Institute, said: "This long-term task has finally started moving forward. Though I'm deeply impressed, we're just in the initial stages. I'm concerned about how far real exchanges can progress." Kaneda was in charge of negotiations with China over mutual visits by defense personnel in 1997 in his capacity as chairman of the SDF Joint Staff Council, today's Joint Staff Office. In the past 20 years, China's defense budget has increased by more than 10 percent annually, and major nations have urged Beijing to explain the reasons behind its military buildup and improve the transparency of its military spending. Political observers say that by playing host to the Sazanami, Beijing hopes to give the impression of being forward-looking vis-a-vis information disclosure.
The Japanese side is hopeful progress made via the defense exchanges will help prevent an escalation of conflict with China if an unpredicted incident occurs in the East China Sea--parts of which are disputed by the two countries. Tokyo also hopes to foster greater trust among rank-and-file personnel of the SDF and Chinese military. But one MSDF officer voiced dissatisfaction, saying: "Why did China designate Zhanjiang [for the visit]? It's far from the capital, Beijing."
When the Shenzhen, a Chinese missile destroyer, visited Japan for the first time in November, Japan allowed it to enter Tokyo Bay. A senior MSDF officer said, "I still don't feel the Chinese military is working to keep these exchanges on an equal footing." Japan's past experience with sending MSDF ships to other countries helped make the Sazanami's trip to China a reality. In February 2001, the MSDF destroyer Amagiri participated in an event as an observer when India's international fleet celebrated the country's 50th anniversary as a republic, shortly after a strong earthquake had hit the west part of the country.
The Amagiri carried blankets, medicine and other emergency goods as consolatory gifts, a gesture that was much appreciated by India. After China's Sichuan Province was hit by a disastrous earthquake last month, the Japanese government planned to use the Air Self-Defense Force's C-130 transport planes to transport aid to China. But there were strong objections to the plan after it was reported in China and Tokyo had to abandon its plan. On this occasion, the Sazanami carried 300 blankets, and about 2,600 sets of canned food, masks and other medical supplies to China as "consolatory gifts."
A senior Defense Ministry official said: "These goods are not aid, but consolatory gifts. Arriving empty-handed in a country recently hit by a disaster would be disrespectful. So we thought the precedent set in our visit to India could be used." At a welcoming ceremony in Zhanjiang on Tuesday, Su Shiliang, commander of the South China Sea Fleet, offered thanks for the gifts saying: "You are on mission for peace. We Chinese thank you from the bottom of our hearts." But some in the Japanese government are skeptical about whether the defense exchanges are meaningful.
The Chinese military is deploying more Russian-made and domestic fighters, which are capable of rivaling the SDF's main jets, F-15 fighters. In April, it was learned that China had deployed a new type of missile submarine to a naval base in the south, indicating the Chinese Navy wants to be able to target not only Taiwan, but other maritime areas as well. Tokyo is unable to shake fears over Chinese mid-range missiles potentially locked on Japan. In light of recent developments, the Defense Ministry's National Institute for Defense Studies issued a rare statement in the spring: "It's foreseeable that China will push the 'human exchanges' slogan as an established fact, in an attempt to promote its image as a peace-loving nation." Kazuhisa Ogawa, a military commentator, praised the Sazanami's visit to China, saying, "It has significant meaning in that confidence-building measures between Japan and China have reached a certain level of achievement."
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba said, "Considering the history of the two countries, it's not easy to solve all the problems and formulate a real trusting relationship." It is likely the United States, which has remained cautious about China's military power, will forego commenting on progress made in the Japan-China defense exchanges.
Prof. Tomohide Murai of the National Defense Academy, an expert in Chinese affairs, said: "The United States is hoping problems won't crop up in other places outside Iraq and North Korea, and that it won't miss out on benefits gained from the improved ties between Japan and China. I believe the United States rather welcomes [the progress]."

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