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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

From Today's Papers 23 Jul

New policy to hasten defence deals, ensure transparency: Antony

New Delhi

Tue, 22 Jul 2008:

New Delhi, July 22 (ANI):The new defence purchase policy envisages a greater role for the private sector in supplying much needed equipment to the country's armed forces, Union Defence Minister A K Antony said this at International Technology Seminar on 'Future Infantry Combat Vehicle and Future Main Battle Tank'.The two-day seminar is being jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in association with the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces.

Addressing the seminar, Antony said "It should be our endeavour to achieve maximum synergy between the Defence, Public and Private Sectors, in order to create a competitive defence technology edge and strengthen the industry base in our country".

He further added that the focus of the new rules and procedures in the defence procurement procedures 2008 (DPP 2008) is on ensuring speedier procurements of weapons, systems and platforms, while ensuring transparency. The DPP 2008 will be operative from August 1 and it incorporates the experience of the government and the armed forces since it was first formulated in 2006.

Antony also said that the new purchase policy would promote indigenisation and encourage wider representation on panels doing technical evaluation of indigenously designed military platforms. He said that collaborative and networked defence R and D can go a long way in enabling the nation address technology gaps, match global standards and promote indigenisation.

In his address, Chief of the Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor, pointed out that while technology was critical for any nation's defence system, "what was also needed was the need to check any time and procedural delays." He said that while it was important to stress on indigenisation and collaborative approach, "we should not compromise on our operational capabilities."

Earlier in his opening remarks, Atul Kirloskar, Chairman, CII National Committee on Defence and CMD, Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd, urged the government to speedily notify the private companies being granted the Raksha Udyog Ratna status. The status would enable these companies to compete at par with the defence public sector enterprises and the ordinance factories for defence contracts.

He also emphasised the need for ensuring a level-playing field between the private and public sector. Noting that the defence sector was going through an era of technological interdependence, Mr Kirloskar said there was a need to contain cost and achieve competitiveness.

"This can be achieved if more public-private sector partnerships are promoted in the defence sector." This was specially important considering that India has been dependent on foreign sources for defence procurement for far too long, he added.

He also suggested that if a major share of defence purchases and acquisition could be spent in the country, this would have a multiplier effect on the overall economic growth and create more employment.

Delivering the theme address, Lt. Gen. Dalip Bhardwaj, Director-General Mechanised Forces, said that the time was right for greater private sector involvement in supplying defence equipment. "However, the industry must keep in mind the defence sector's end needs and not just the technology." According to him what the industry needs to do is to develop products that have a longer shelf life.

CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee added "the seminar aims to explore opportunities for public-private partnership in the area of design, development and manufacture of future ICVs and MBTs. It also endeavours to identify business opportunities related to maintenance and upgradation of existing defence equipment". Brig KA Hai (retd) gave the concluding remarks at the seminar, which witnessed participation from over 120 domestic and international defence companies. (ANI)

India sets in motion plans for futuristic tanks

Press Trust of India / New Delhi July 22, 2008, 14:24 IST

To keep up with the trend amongst major powers, Indian army today set in motion the process of building a futuristic main battle tank (MBT), which will be inducted post 2020.

Army is visualising that the future tanks could be network operated sans the crew and has given the nod for framing general qualitative staff requirements (GQSR) for such a mean machine.

Plans for going in for such smart tanks and infantry combat vehicles were unveiled today at an international seminar on future MBTs, which was attended by the Defence Minister A K Antony and Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor.

"Next five years would see all aerial combat unmanned and the same process could take over the land systems in another 10 to 15 years," said Lt Gen Dilip Bhardawaj, Director General of the country's mechanised forces in his presentation.

Asked if a future tank would be an indigenous effort, the Defence Minister said the emphasis would be on building an inhouse tank but, at the same time, did not rule out the possibility of a "collaborative effort on technology sharing basis".

Antony was not forthcoming on whether plans to develop a new tank would sound a death knell for the country's maiden effort in producing Arjun main battle tank.

Senior Taliban commander killed, British Army says


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A senior Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan has surrendered to the Pakistani authorities and British forces killed another Taliban leader, the British Army said on Tuesday.

Mullah Rahim, the top commander for Helmand Province, surrendered after British forces had killed two other Taliban leaders in little over three weeks.
Hours after his surrender, another senior Taliban commander, Abdul Rasaq, also known as "Mullah Sheikh," was killed in a British missile strike 15 kilometers, or 9 miles, north of the town of Musa Qala in Helmand Province on Monday morning, the British Army said in a statement. Three other insurgents also died.

Rasaq led Taliban actions around Musa Qala and was active in the insurgency for a number of years, the British Army said.

"The Taliban's senior leadership structure has suffered a shattering blow," Lieutenant Colonel Robin Matthews, a spokesman for the British Army, said in the statement.

The town of Musa Qala holds a symbolic importance after Taliban fighters forced British troops out in late 2006. The Taliban then seized it in February 2007, making it the only town of any size held by the rebels.

Afghan, British and U.S. forces took back Musa Qala in an offensive in December but Taliban insurgents are still active around the town.

Elsewhere, the U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces backed by air power killed or wounded more than 30 Taliban insurgents in fighting in the west of Afghanistan, a senior police official said Tuesday.

Fighting broke out in the Bala Boluk district of Farah Province on Tuesday, tue regional police chief, Ikramuddin Yawar, said.

"The toll might be more than 30 because the operation is ongoing," Yawar said.

A U.S.-led convoy was hit by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades on Tuesday morning in Bala Boluk, a U.S. military spokesman said.

Airstrikes were called in but no munitions were dropped. The U.S. military could not confirm if any members of the Taliban were killed. International forces do not usually give casualty figures for insurgents.

In the capital, Kabul, a Taliban suicide bomber wounded five civilians when he blew himself up as he was challenged by the police on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry said.

Taliban militants have launched more than 100 suicide attacks this year, mostly targeting Afghan and international security forces, but as many as 80 percent of the victims have been civilians, security experts say.

The bomber struck in the morning in the Gozargah area Kabul, next to the walls of the historic tomb of Babur, the 16th century founder of India's Mughal dynasty. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

India to Participate in Pacific Air Force Senior Enlisted Leadership Conference July 21-25 2008

Dated 22/7/2008

Sixteen nations will meet here for four days of discussion and collaboration during the 2008 Senior Enlisted Leadership Conference July 21-25.
The SEL is the largest air force multi-national enlisted conference and is the first of its kind to be held in the Pacific region. The SEL encourages the building of relationships and aims to enhance cooperation among the air forces of Pacific nations. Hosted by the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the U.S. Pacific Air Forces' 13th Air Force, this year's conference focuses on preparing for future coalition operations, enlisted program management, senior non-commissioned officer core values, evaluating airmen, and the safety and protection of resources.
""It is imperative that we know and understand one another," Chief Master Sgt. Todd Salzman, command chief of 13th Air Force said. "As our officers are talking about humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, during the Pacific Rim Airpower Symposium, in every instance of a disaster, it is the enlisted men and women who do that work and contribute to the mission success."
Conference briefings and panel discussions include presentations from participating nations that allow representatives to discuss their air force's unique circumstances, capabilities, and challenges within the enlisted ranks.
Through these type of exchanges, the air forces of the Asia-Pacific region can efficiently work together toward mutually beneficial goals. As participants learn more about each participating nation's unique contribution to regional stability and security, they enhance their understanding of the region's collective airpower resources and capabilities.
"We will never get a better opportunity to enhance the professionalism of air force NCOs, " First Warrant Officer Mohdan bin Amran, Royal Malaysian Air Force senior warrant officer of operation department, Air Operations Headquarters said. "We plan to work toward a common solution in order to support NCO professional development and optimize the NCO's contribution to the force."
Represented in the four-day symposium are delegations from Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam.

Strict Army order helps curb alcoholism
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Strict methodology introduced recently to check alcoholism in the Army has shown positive results, a study conducted to assess the outcome of its implementation has revealed.

The results of this study are better than the results of the study conducted before the implementation of the new Army Order on management of alcoholic cases. The previous such study was done during 1995 to 2000.

During this study, 231 patients were observed, of which 149 were reviewed after six months and 77 after one year. Five patients were reviewed beyond one year. “Between 50-53 per cent patients showed complete improvement after initial treatment, while 24-31 per cent showed partial improvement after initial treatment. The remaining patients did not show much improvement,” the study brought out.

The study, “Outcome of Alcohol Dependence Syndrome Cases Managed in Armed Forces”, undertaken by three Army specialists, Col P. Sarkar, Lt. Col N. Chandrashekhar and Lt. Col N. Gode over a four-year period, has been published this month in the Medical Journal Armed Forces India. The authors have concluded that the study strengthens the validity of the present Army Order, which is structured and may be having a deterrent value, thereby leading to better prognosis.

Management of alcoholism in the armed forces has changed significantly following implementation of the present Army Order, which states that such cases are incompatible with military service and all such cases should be invalided out of service unless the patient shows an unequivocal determination to give up the use of alcohol in the shortest time span.

The order allows keeping an individual in low medical category after initial treatment for a maximum period of one year. If subsequently he has a relapse, he will be invalided out without any further chance of retention in service, the study stated.

Prior to the implementation of the current Army Order on alcohol dependence, the disposal of such patients was not structured and usually more chances were given and more number of relapses were accepted. Earlier, the focus was patient-oriented rather than service-oriented, the study added.

Vikrant museum may go into private hands
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 22
The Maharashtra government now wants to hand over the Vikrant museum project to a private operator. Vikrant, India's first aircraft carrier, has been turned into a floating museum after it was decommissioned 10 years ago.

The Central and state governments are to grout Vikrant at a point off Colaba in South Mumbai. However, lack of finances has forced the state government to look for private parties. According to sources, the Maharashtra government has appointed consultancy company Crisil to evaluate the proposal.

Crisil has already submitted its report and the process of inviting tenders and awarding contracts will be undertaken shortly, say sources.

The project will be on the build-operate-transfer model with the private operator being allowed to collect revenue for a certain number of years. It could be 30 years or more depending on the final decision to be undertaken by the Maharashtra government.

The Indian Navy and the Maharashtra government had originally estimated the Vikrant museum project to cost around Rs 70 crore. Now, the price has gone up to an estimated Rs 300 crore or so, according to reports.

Earlier, the state government had sought to allow parties and events on the decks of the ship as a revenue-earning measure. However, protests from conservative elements over permission to serve liquor on board the ship forced the state government to abandon the plan.

The state government has identified a low-lying island off Sasoon Docks in Colaba some half a kilometre into the sea as the final resting place for the ship.The project has also received clearance from the union ministry for environment and forests.

Visitors will get access to the museum via a walkway built across the sea, according to state government officials.

Vikrant is opened to visitors during the non-monsoon months and during Navy Day celebrations every year. It is also used to train naval personnel. However, the Indian Navy has been complaining of the huge expenditure it incurs to keep the ship in good shape.

Support to terrorism
Pakistan’s bona fides are suspect

IF Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon did some plain speaking at the fifth round of the composite dialogue process between India and Pakistan on Monday, it was not by choice but by compulsion. There is growing evidence that forces inimical to India but with bases in Pakistan have been working steadfastly to create mayhem in this country. The recent attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in which two diplomats were killed among others had the clear imprint of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). This had forced National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan even to demand in desperation that the ISI should be disbanded in the interest of both countries. Even Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai had hinted at the Pakistani involvement in the attack on the embassy.

The sudden spurt in terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and ceasefire violations could not have happened without the active support from across the border. It is nobody’s contention that the democratically elected government in Pakistan is responsible for the violent activities in the Valley during the last few weeks. But having given a commitment that Pakistan would not allow its territory to be used for planning and executing terrorist operations in India, it is obligatory on its part to cut off the hands that feed terrorism. That the ISI is not amenable to suggestions and is a law unto itself may be truthful but that it is hardly an excuse for the Pakistan government to shy away from its responsibility of reining in those running the ISI.

As Mr Menon, who is otherwise a suave, soft-spoken diplomat, told his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, perhaps, a bit harshly, the peace process would be adversely affected if the Pakistan Government did not address India’s concerns. Terrorists are first and foremost enemies of peace. So long as Pakistan is perceived to be backing terrorists, its credentials to take part in peace talks will be questionable. The confidence-building measures the two countries have taken, including Monday’s decision to increase the periodicity of the cross-LoC bus services, have kindled hopes on both sides of the divide that better bilateral relations are possible. But such hopes will vanish into thin air if the terrorist groups based in Pakistan are not kept on the leash.

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