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Wednesday, 2 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 02 Jul

A Tribune Exclusive
Why Eurocopter deal was scrapped
Relative of top Army officer tried to pass off civilian model as military one
Swati Chaturvedi

New Delhi, July 1
Bribery and scandal, which would have played with the lives of troops in Siachen, involving a middleman who was a relative of a serving top-level Army official and was trying to pass off a civilian helicopter as a military version, finally led to the scrapping of the $ 600 million Eurocopter deal.
The deal to purchase 197 helicopters to provide logistical support to the Army in Siachen was signed in February 2007 with European Aeronautics Defense and Space Company.
Authoritative sources revealed to The Tribune that the file was routed thrice to defence minister A.K. Antony, who finally said no after the ministry of defence in an in-house inquiry confirmed shocking findings.
Even French President Nicolas Sarkozy lobbied hard with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to secure the whopping contract. Consider these facts revealed by an in-depth Tribune investigation:
(1) Trial reports accessed by The Tribune made available to the MoD and the watchdog Comptroller and Auditor-General (CA&G) reveal that a civilian model of the light reconnaissance helicopter was sought to be passed off as the military one.
(2) The acquisition wing of the Army tried to say that the “engine was broadly similar’’ but the CA&G did not buy the story.
(3) During field trials the helicopter meant to be the lifeline for the troops in Siachen failed comprehensively and yet the Army top brass tried desperately to push for its purchase.
(4) The most shocking allegation of a blood relation of a top-level Army official, actively involved in evaluating and giving the final favourable assessment to the deal, working as a middleman for Eurocopter was found to be correct.
In order to avoid the huge public embarrassment and furore that would have ensured if the facts had been made public, the MoD quietly cancelled the deal despite pressure from the Army. Documents shown to The Tribune which formed part of the file, which finally led to the cancellation of the deal, established that the relative of a top Army officer was based in Europe and had a business relationship with Eurocopter.
It may be recalled that after the Bofors scandal the government had banned middlemen in defence deals.
Says a top MoD official: “The level of corruption is shocking. While relatives would have made millions, besieged troops in Siachen would have borne the brunt. This was a textbook scandal worse than the coffin scandal. And, but for the determination of some honest officials and the CA&G the troops would have paid the price.’’
Despite repeated attempts by The Tribune the Army refused to comment.

Manekshaw's Secret, Indira's Plans: A 1971 Mystery
By Dipankar De Sarkar

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw's death robs Indians of a vital source of information on one of recent Indian history's unresolved questions: did New Delhi have secret plans to dismember Pakistan in the west after comprehensively defeating it in the east?
India's plans in the western sector toward the close of the 1971 war over Bangladesh have long been a matter of controversy and speculation by historians and others. American declassified documents say President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger believed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wanted to dismember West Pakistan. Equally, some Russian commentators have said they dissuaded her from doing so.But some leading Indian - as well as Pakistani - diplomats and strategic experts say if Gandhi had wanted to march in to Pakistan, she could have done so. They attribute the American and Russian claims to interventionist zeal.
The hero of the 1971 war, Manekshaw, was a garrulous man. But he never spoke publicly about the issue. The divided opinion found an echo at a just-ended conference on India and Pakistan organized by the Tehelka media group in London. "Mrs. Gandhi never had a territorial ambition, but she did want to finish off Pakistan's military capability," former Pakistan foreign secretary Tanvir Ahmad Khan told IANS.
"But that would have ultimately led to the break up of Pakistan. There would have been chaos," he added.
Khan's assessment is similar to that of the late Nixon and Kissinger, who is a prominent commentator in the US media. Declassified US documents claim that details of a briefing given by Gandhi to members of her cabinet in early December 1971 were leaked to the US intelligence. A summary of the documents by the State Department says: "Gandhi outlined her war aims: she would not accept a settlement until Bangladesh was liberated, the 'southern area of Azad Kashmir' was liberated, and the Pakistani armored and air force strength was destroyed to prevent any future challenge to India.
"Nixon and Kissinger took this as proof that India planned not only to foster the independence of East Pakistan, but to use the opportunity of the crisis to inflict a crushing military defeat on Pakistan, which would lead to the break-up of West Pakistan. Kissinger attributed to the Gandhi government the goal of Balkanizing West Pakistan."
With the Bangladesh war seen in Cold War terms by the Americans and Russians, exchanges between Nixon and Kissinger sometimes bordered on the paranoid - the two men even contemplated using nuclear weapons against Russia if China entered the conflict. The US archives quote Kissinger as telling Nixon: "If the Soviets move against them (the Chinese) and we don't do anything, we will be finished."
"Nixon asked: 'So what do we do if the Soviets move against them? Start lobbing nuclear weapons in, is that what you mean?' Kissinger responded: 'If the Soviets move against them in these conditions and succeed, that will be the final showdown... and if they succeed we will be finished'.
"He added that 'if the Russians get away with facing down the Chinese and the Indians get away with licking the Pakistanis... we may be looking down the gun barrel.' In the end, they concluded that the projected confrontation with the Soviet Union would not involve a nuclear exchange."
But at the London conference June 26-27, at least two former senior Pakistani figures - spy chief Lt Gen Assad Durrani and finance and foreign minister Sartaj Azeez - were not sure if Indira Gandhi would have wanted to dismember Pakistan. "There was neither the intention, nor the capability. The relative strength of Pakistan on the western front would not have encouraged a major Indian invasion," said Durrani.
"You wouldn't turn your guns to the western sector when the bulk of your forces were in Bangladesh, and achieve a strategic result," he added.
Sartaj Azeez said both the US and the Soviet Union "overstated the case" in order to give their impression that it was their intervention that had stopped the Bangladesh war from spiralling out of control.
"In any case, Pakistan would have been ready for such an invasion as the bulk of our troops - something like 600,000 men - was in West Pakistan," Azeez said. The late Indian foreign secretary Jyotindra Nath Dixit too has dismissed Nixon's and Kissinger's claims.
"The Indian government's attitude after the war disproved the theory of those who still believed that India had opposed the existence of Pakistan," he is quoted as saying in British journalist Victoria Schofield's book, "Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War".
"Had India wanted to dismember Pakistan completely, the army could have marched straight on to Rawalpindi," Dixit said.
Whether Indira Gandhi ever contemplated such an invasion, or whether the claims were part of an elaborate Cold War drama played out by the Americans and Russians is something that still awaits clarity.
And Sam Manekshaw isn't telling. He never did tell.

Major’s court martial begins
Was caught with Ethiopian girls

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
A general court martial of a Major from the Military Intelligence (MI), who was reportedly caught in the company of two Ethiopian girls at his New Delhi residence, began in the Capital today.
Sources in the Army headquarters reveal that four charges have been levelled against Major Rajiv Sirohi under provisions of the Army Act and the Arms Act. These include allegations of bringing Ethiopian girls to his residence, conducting intelligence operations beyond his charter of duties and possession of unlicensed weapons and ammunition.
Col P.B.S. Lamba from the Military Training Directorate at the Army headquarters is the court’s presiding officer, with lady officer Capt Alifa Akbar from the Headquarters Western Command being the judge advocate for the trial.
A court of inquiry presided over by Col Inderjit Singh, commanding officer of an infantry battalion, had held the officer blameworthy of his acts of omission and commission, following which the Army had initiated the disciplinary action.
The incident had occurred in March last year when the officer was officiating as the commanding officer of an intelligence unit based at the Army headquarters. The Army had then maintained that the girls, identified as Samravit Bekele and Rahel Girma, were part of a secret operation and were picked up by the MI for questioning in a drug smuggling case.
In their statements to the police, the girls, according to documents pertaining to the case, had denied any kind of abuse and said they had been only questioned. Being foreigners, they were not compelled to undergo medical tests. Though their passports were valid till 2011, their visas to visit India had expired.
According to the Army, anti-narcotic operations by the MI are not unprecedented and these are undertaken to cultivate sources for garnering information. MI officers claim that several successful operations claimed by the police have been because of inputs by them.
The sources said the officer had maintained that a member of a Delhi University students’ organisation had introduced him to the girls. Thereafter, while conducting the operation, they met another person who had given him a packet that he later found to contain arms and ammunition. The weapons listed in documents include two pistols, about 150 rounds of different types of ammunition, a grenade and a detonator.

‘Attack due to tactical error of Greyhound jawans’

Bhubaneswar, July 1
The Orissa government today attributed the Maoist attack in Malkangiri on a contingent of an elite anti-Naxal force to a tactical "error" by the unit.
Orissa home secretary T K Mishra said the attack could have been avoided had the jawans either avoided water route while covering long routes or sailed in groups. Stating that one more Greyhound jawan was rescued from forests near Balimela reservoir this morning, Mishra said that the incident resulted after the tactical "blunder" which made the vessel an easy target for the Maoists.
"It was a blunder on the part of the people who sailed in one boat instead of in splits," Mishra said, adding that the jawans (Greyhound) also violated their own guidelines which suggested avoidance of water route while moving for a combing operation.
Denying that the boat was overloaded, Mishra said timing of the journey was also faulty.
"They began journey at 8.45 am which was not suitable for undertaking movement in Naxal-infested areas," he said, adding that the jawans could have started early in the morning.
Rejecting allegations that the Orissa police, which arranged one boat for ferrying the jawans, was responsible for Sunday's incident, Mishra said, "We simply assist them. The Greyhound authorities take decision during joint operations." He made it clear that the Orissa police only provided logistic support and information when the Greyhound force came for joint operation in the state.
According to figures given by Mishra, 35 persons were still missing after rescue of 30 persons and recovery of one body. — PTI

Top military brass review security issues

By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD, June 30: The military top brass on Monday reviewed multi-dimensional external threats and internal security environment.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Tariq Majid presided over the JCSC meeting which was attended by Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Afzal Tahir, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed, Defence Secretary Kamran Rasool, Defence Production Secretary Shahid Siddiq Tirmizi and other officers.
The meeting was held against the backdrop of a recent violation of the LoC by India, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s threat to attack Pakistan to target alleged terrorists and the worsening law and order situation in Fata.
According to an official statement, important regional developments impacting on national security and external threats were comprehensively reviewed.
The evolving security environment within the country was deliberated upon. The committee reiterated its full support to the government’s policy.
Pakistan recently accused Indian troops of violating a ceasefire along the LoC by opening fire on its troops.
Sources said the law and order situation in Fata figured prominently at the meeting. They said that no military operation had been launched and the ongoing operation in Khyber Agency was being carried out by the FC.

'Our hard work is evident only when the nation needs us'

July 01, 2008 | 15:17 IST

By the end of this week, close to 400 young men from the far corners of India will reach the outskirts of Pune, to enroll in the institution which has given India some of its best military leadership.
After registering a low turnout in the last session, the National Defence Academy at Khadakvasla is expecting one of its largest turnouts this time. Three hundred and sixty eight new cadets have already reported for the current term. As letters of intimation are sent by post and take time to reach the selected candidates, the fresh termers's entry is spaced out over a two-week period and the NDA expects 400 plus new cadets in all."There are shortages in the services no doubt, but there are no shortages in the NDA," says Air Marshal Tejbir Singh Randhawa, the commandant of the academy. In a detailed conversation with Archana Masih, the air marshal discusses how the armed forces still score highly when it comes to respect and integrity, why the middle class is not opting for a career in the defence services and why he tells his cadets to make all their mistakes at NDA because "here those mistakes are worth a shout, but at war, they would lose lives."

Fewer young people seem to want a career in the armed forces -- the salaries officers receive is one reason why they don't find it attractive. Moreover, the Sixth Pay Commission hasn't brought much hope. What message would you have for a young man who would perhaps prefer to join a BPO because of a better pay than the armed forces?

We have to await the award of the Pay Commission before we can comment. But I am sure that the government is apprised of the shortages that are happening. I am also convinced that the government will not allow such a large gap to exist between the corporate world and government employees. There is no equivalent between a BPO job or equivalent job opportunity and the armed forces. What they are doing is a 9 to 5 job or a 5 to 9 job, I don't know which. They are working for somebody else; we work to protect the nation. We work as much if not more than what they do on a daily basis.
We have no productivity levels to show for ourselves, where does the nation assess us as far as results are concerned? Look at Kargil, '71, '65, '48 -- four important wars that this nation has fought and every time we've won. It does not come by equating my job content with a BPO or comparing me with a production unit.
The result of my hard work is evident only when the nation needs me. The containing of insurgencies is done by the armed forces. Why is it that everybody runs to the armed forces in times of a natural calamity? Doesn't a nation as strong as ours be able to cater for itself without calling the armed forces out? I believe we are the ones called out to do every difficult task for the nation.

There is no denying that the armed forces has tremendous goodwill, but maybe love for the country is not enough? The youth want lucrative jobs and higher salaries steers them away from a career in the armed forces, even though they may think it's far more respectable.

Many a career option have opened up for the youth, therefore they are seeking so many of them. Maybe the youth of the country is very fond of easy living. You can take a loan and buy whatever you want provided you have a collateral somewhere in line. Life in the armed forces is tough, it is difficult and in peace time it is more difficult than in war.
At least in war you have a clear aim in front of you, you know what you are going to do. In peace time you are called out to do everything else that somebody else is supposed to do and we perform very well.
We go through a lot of hardships that other brethren in the country normally don't. While, of course, today's officer realises that money is important because if inflation is hitting a high it affects everyone's pocket.

Even boys who sit for the NDA exam, many of them take other entrance exams as well and probably have the armed forces as option 3 or 4 while the top slots would be say an MBA or an IT job. Why is the middle class not opting for a military career here like it used to do before?

The middle class is the one that wants to lead the easiest life. They are aware of the hardship in the armed forces and have pushed it down the spectrum. Their choices are probably made by maximum money. So when he is making a choice between an MBA and the armed forces, he sees he is going to get paid much more if he works for 24 hours after an MBA than he would for 24 hours of work in the armed forces.
Obviously, it will be the first choice. Probably if work ethos and emoluments get closer and match, the armed forces then become the choice amongst many other options that fall in the same category. It has to do with money, with time spent and the degree of difficulty.
Look at the options available to youngsters, they will choose options that suit their personality best. The only people who become officers of the armed forces are those who are capable of doing what the armed forces wants them to do. In a BPO you may walk in and get a job, but in the NDA you sit for 300 vacancies for which 3 lakh (300,000) people appear.
We are here to provide military leadership to the Indian armed forces and believe me, we do that well.

Are you attracting the same quality of cadets as you did before?

Quality is a very figurative word. When I was in school, we had definite games periods and definite study periods. There are schools in this country that have no sporting facility at all. Parents insist that their kids get good grades in school and for that you have to study for a long time and because of this they don't get time play. I was playing a sport a day before I joined the NDA, this cadet hasn't played a sport for three years before he joined the NDA. Of course,there is going to be a difference.
But he comes with a 10+2 education. I came with a Cass X, so there are advantages and disadvantages.

You recently visited military training academies in the US, how do our training methods compare to theirs?

Our physical training is more intense than theirs. They start with a certain advantage because they are a sporting nation compared to ours,but taking a common baseline between them and us -- our physical training is more intense. The standards that we achieve in three years are more stringent.
We both have different standards and the methodology adopted by them and us is different. We had cadets from Annapolis and West Point (the US naval and army academies respectively visitng us who said that our physical standards are more difficult.

The real danger that we face today is terrorism, where the enemy is largely unknown and unseen. How are we training our cadets for this enemy?

We do very little of that training here. That training is a forte of the finishing academies. Most of the training against counter insurgency and counter terrorism is done at the Indian Military Academy. We have included this in what we call the foundation course, so theoretical knowledge is given to them, of how the whole system functions. The concept about fighting such terrorism and insurgency is taught to them but the practical training is done at the training academies. The foundation course combines a lot of common service subjects.

Have there been any changes in training methods in recent times or is it following the traditional way?

The norms that we need top achieve in this academy have not changed over a very long period. The last time a few changes were made was in 1993. Of course, there have been changes in the academic curriculum. Almost 70 to 75 per cent of total training time is devoted towards academics.
There is a large segment of knowledge being imparted to cadets both from purely academic point of view, apart from service training, which forms part of the academic syllabus to ensure they have the depth of knowledge to tackle all the technologies they see in the future.
The bulk of service training is at the finishing academies but they receive some basic training here.

What changes have come in during your tenure?

I introduced excellence training that gives the cadets an option of improving at every level. In any university if you pass all your subjects, you pass but at NDA if you pass all your subjects and don't get a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, you fail. You have to repeat the semester.
This is after he does all the physical activity, while in university you don't have physical activity, you go to college and come back and do what you want to. If you look at the kind of physical activity he goes through and the higher grade that he is supposed to achieve just to be able to pass a semester is far tougher than the universities.
As academic graduates -- I am not talking about individuals I am talking of a group -- as a group, these cadets are far more superior than what the universities produce.
On the physical aspect too, I want them to be well above the base level. With 1,800 cadets, we have cadets who are good and others who are not as good, but while I am meeting the minimum standards that I've been asked to achieve, we in the NDA achieve standards that are much higher.
We have shifted the focus to excellence training rather than meeting the basics. The number of cadets who are going above the base level is increasing term after term. This has a cascading affect.

The impression is that it is the IMA which defines a soldier, how does the NDA change a cadet? What role does it have vis a vis the IMA?

We make him into an officer. There is no comparison between what NDA and IMA do? The NDA takes a raw product and make an officer material out of it. We teach him character training, physical fitness. Whatever we teach him gets complemented at the finishing academies. We teach him the service way of life and a very important thing we teach him is character building so that it can be moulded into the ethos of the Indian armed forces.
In all the surveys that I have read in this country is that as far as honesty and integrity are concerned, the Indian armed forces always rates the top. How does that come about? It doesn't come about at the finishing academies, we start it here at the NDA. We teach him how to behave as an officer and as a gentleman.
We pride ourselves in being able to produce military leaders for the armed forces. In upper echelons of the armed forces, except for one chief of air staff and one army commander equivalent in the navy, everybody else is an alumni. So we are looking at very large numbers of leaders produced from the NDA.
Our motto is 'Cradle of military leadership' and I want to add a line it -- 'Leadership with integrity.'

Which is even more important in today's times.

Character building is one of our basic concepts. The difference between training here and at the IMA is that we produce leaders and give it to them. They hone those leadership skills in the direction they want them to move. While an army officer will have to lead 100s of men into war, the air force officer fights that war himself. These leadership activities are honed in different spheres of activity, at different levels for different services. They all go from here so we give them the tenants of that leadership.
Our job here is to train leaders. I keep telling my cadets, make all your mistakes here because here your mistake are worth a shout, but at war, you will lose lives.

You mentioned earlier that most officers from the upper echelons of the armed forces are from the NDA. What is the difference between officers from the NDA and IMA and other training academies?

I can only give you my personal perceptions because I don't know if any studies of this nature have been done. I believe it is only in the initial few years of service that this difference can ever be identified. Approximately after five years or so in the services, it becomes very difficult to make out whether they are from the NDA or not. Because the in service training that is done ensures that everyone is brought to the same level of expertise. Then differentiating them becomes very difficult.
This is definitely not to say that those not from the NDA are not good, of course they are very good, that's why they are there. My own chief (Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major) is not an alumni but he is a very respected individual as an aviator and as a leader. It's not about differentiating but we give a very large percentage of top military leadership to the nation.

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