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Sunday, 31 August 2008

From Today's Papers - 31 Aug

Four killed in Pakistan missile strike

Indo-Asian News Service

Saturday, August 30, 2008 (Islamabad)

Four people, including two Arab nationals, were killed in a missile strike at a house in Pakistan's tribal region on Saturday.

The private news agency quoted tribesmen as saying that two Arab nationals were among those killed in the attack when the missiles, fired from across the border in Afghanistan, hit the house of tribesman Noor Khan Gangikhel near an army camp at Zari Nur area in Pakistan's South Waziristan.

They said that they saw drones flying in the area before the missiles were launched.

An official also confirmed the incident and said that two Arab militants were killed and that the two others could not be identified. He said that the two injured were taken to a private hospital in Wana, a major town in South Waziristan.

Army spokesman Major Murad said the incident happened near the army camp known as Zari Nur camp but added that the authorities were collecting details.

The tribesmen said Taliban gathered at the site of the attack and did not allow anyone to enter the area.

Missile attacks in Pakistani tribal regions from US drones have increased in recent days to target militants.

Six people, including Arab nationals, were killed in Wana when missiles were fired at a tribesman's house some 10 days ago.

BOOK REVIEW: The inside track on Afghan wars by Khaled Ahmed

Descent into Chaos:

How the War against Islamic Extremism is being Lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia;

By Ahmed Rashid;

Allen Lane London 2008;

Pp484; Price £12.99

Today, the Taliban and Mullah Umar continue to live in Balochistan, the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda are in the Tribal Areas where they wrested possession of a large territory from the army that favoured them. The US and the EU are under threat. George Bush and Musharraf and Karzai are the most unpopular men in the region. It is clear who has won the war

The greatest compliment one can pay to a writer is to say that his latest book is his best. It indicates a rising graph of excellence rather than descent from the peak. Ahmed Rashid’s best book without a doubt is his latest, Descent into Chaos, a critique of the policies of the United States and Pakistan, the two countries who worked together and separately to convert their war against terror into chaos. President Bush is about to lurch out of the scene next year never to be remembered as a saviour by the West. Pakistan’s ‘schizophrenic chief executive’ President Musharraf is out of his office, universally condemned in Pakistan for having ruined the country in all sorts of ways. Four chapters in part three of the book contain the most comprehensive indictment of the US policy in Afghanistan the reviewer has ever read.

Ahmed Rashid’s friend Hamid Karzai is the president of Afghanistan today. He lived in Quetta starting 1983 and fell foul of the Taliban in 1999 when Mullah Umar had his father assassinated in Quetta, with the help of the ISI, according to Hamid. Ahmed had something in common with him. Both had criticised the Taliban, and in the case of Ahmed, it was his bestseller book Taliban (2000) that had ‘led to threats from the ISI and their extremist supporters’ (p.4). Hamid was in the Mujaddidi government after the Soviets left, but the US had left the Afghan policy in the hands of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the latter looking at Afghanistan as its fifth province.

Hamid was kicked out of the Mujaddidi government by the Tajiks, but later he fell foul of Mullah Umar too by not going along with his extremist sharia. In 1999 he took his dead father’s body to Kandahar to reclaim headship of the Popalzai branch of the Durranis. In 2000, Al Qaeda backed the Taliban against the Northern Alliance with its Brigade 555 culled from North African Arab fighters, IMU from Uzbekistan, Filipino Moros and groups from Chechnya and Xinjiang. Ahmad Shah Masud was the target and his force was besieged in Taluqan. There were 3,000 Pakistanis with the Taliban too, including ‘one hundred Pakistanis from the Frontier Corps to manage artillery and communications’ provided by the ISI (p.17).

Hamid tried to align with Massoud and Hekmatyar (then in Meshed in Iran), because they asserted that they were opposed to the Taliban, but finally decided to be on his own in the south. He told the US about Al Qaeda’s dominance; he warned the British too. No one was keen to pre-empt what was coming. Meanwhile, Musharraf had taken over in Pakistan with the help of his three corps commanders, Mehmood, Aziz and Usmani. After 9/11, Musharraf convinced the three Islamists that Pakistan had to align with America or go under to India. A reference to India is enough to make the Pakistani military mind dysfunctional. The plan was to ‘only partially accept the US demands’ to be able to oust India from the arena (p.29).

The ‘partial acceptance’ in the above reference was to protect the policy on the Taliban against resolutions by the UN. Corps commander Peshawar General Imtiaz Shaheen was removed by Musharraf when he demanded change in the Taliban policy. All proposals of change of policy were blocked by generals Mehmood and Aziz. The ISI had funded the JUI of Fazlur Rehman to hold its grand International Deobandi Conference near Peshawar in April 2001 during which a message from Osama bin Laden was also allowed to be read out. The ISI got Lashkar-e Tayba to hold another conference in Lahore, send the UN the message that Pakistan would not kowtow to its resolutions (p.53). UN envoy Brahimi was mentioned as working for the Indians in the planted stories in the Pakistani press.

After 9/11, US Defence Secretary Rumsfeld put in practice the neo-con plan to conquer Al Qaeda without putting troops on the ground and without ‘nation-building’ (reconstruction) (p.173). The plan was to buy off the warlords, isolate Al Qaeda and get Osama bin Laden through paid agents. Warlords Fahim, Rasul Sayyaf and Rashid Dostam got around $14 million and Fahim got $5 million directly from General Tommy Franks, the CENTCOM commander who later botched the Tora Bora operation and let Osama bin Laden escape with the help of Pakistani Pashtuns — who received $1200 per person for 800 Arabs — simply because the American troops were thin on the ground. When NATO wanted to send troops, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz said no thanks (p.65 and 98). Thus Bin Laden landed up in Parachinar, the Shia-majority headquarters of Kurram Agency, and laid the foundation of what is today known as the big sectarian slaughter (p.155).

Ahmed Rashid is fair when he says Musharraf didn’t let go of his policy of backing the Taliban and through them domination of Afghanistan because he thought Americans would cut and run soon enough, leaving Pakistan holding the bag. Rumsfeld was proving him right all the time (p.335). This was the situation when the US got Pakistan to send a delegation to Mullah Umar in Kandahar to warn him to surrender Osama bin Laden or be prepared to face invasion. The ISI delegation led by General Mehmood and containing Mufti Shamzai instead told Mullah Umar to hold fast and face off the invasion. The CIA got to know that General Mehmood was playing a double game. The ISI told Musharraf that US would not commit ground troops and that the Taliban would carry on from the mountains even if ousted from the cities. This convinced Musharraf to double-deal with the US (p.77).

When the invasion came, Musharraf did not abide by his promise to withdraw the elements of his army from Afghanistan. Dozens of FC men stayed on the side of Taliban helping them prepare defences and sending intelligence back to the ISI whose excuse for the double-cross was fear of India coming in riding the Northern Alliance. Ahmed writes: ‘With one hand Musharraf played at helping the war against terrorism, while with the other continued to deal with the Taliban’ (p.78). When he tried to wean the army from supporting Islamism and its extremists after 9/11 he couldn’t convince everyone and a large number of officers remained opposed to it. When the attack came it delivered 50 cruise missiles on 31 military targets. Pakistani cities and Quetta in particular erupted in protest.

For those of us who wonder where the rich people and MPAs of Quetta get their cheap cars, the book says warlord Ismail Khan of Herat receives $5 millions dollars per day for letting hundreds of trucks come into Afghanistan from Iran through the Islam Qila border post. Quetta was host to the Taliban who had ultimately to flee Afghanistan and this continued till 2006 when there was a policy change in the US and Washington began to link Quetta to cross-border raids into Afghanistan. Pakistan gave training facilities to these Taliban in Balochistan, in Dalbandin, Chaghai, Qila Saifullah, Kuchlak, Loralai and Quetta itself (p.251). Mullah Dadullah, the cruellest of the Taliban commanders, had his extended family of 70 living in Kuchlak.

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda escaped into South Waziristan and was helped by local warriors trained in its camps in Afghanistan. By 2006, the US was convinced that thousands of Al Qaeda’s foreigners were ensconced in the Tribal Area. Musharraf was caught in the pincers of his own India policy in Afghanistan. Warlords funded by Al Qaeda were targeting him with the help of Punjabi elements demobbed from the jihadi militias the state had put together to fight India in Kashmir. In January 2006, the US hit Damadola in Bajaur with a missile and killed five senior Al Qaeda members. The idea was to get Ayman Al Zawahiri who had his local Pashtun wife living there but he escaped (p.276).

Musharraf was most put off when the Indians began funding the Baloch insurgents. This was the unkindest cut. He had appealed to his generals to join the US after 9/11 on the plea that India would join the war on terror instead and upstage Pakistan in Afghanistan. Not only had India ‘conquered’ Pakistan by investing the largest amount among the allies on nation-building but it also began probing Balochistan with money sent in, not ‘through its 13 consulates in Afghanistan’, but from Dubai, in line with its old policy of supporting all Baloch insurgencies (p.286). Another Pakistani myth the book explodes is the one about the Taliban terminating cultivation of heroin. The Taliban earned their entire money from heroin but after three bumper crops the commodity became cheap. So in 2001 the Taliban simply prohibited the cultivation to bring the price back up (p.320).

Ahmed Rashid says he is Hamid Karzai’s friend but he does tell us where he found Karzai lacking in leadership and perhaps in honesty too. He found him subject to strange bouts of inaction and indecision, he found his relative and minister Nurzai involved in heroin trafficking and did nothing. His brother Ahmad Wali Karzai was also said to be involved drug trade but Karzai defended him and did nothing (p.327). But the book blames Musharraf for not backing Karzai and finally not backing Benazir Bhutto because ‘she was very unpopular with the army’ and let her be killed in Rawalpindi (p.379). Today, the Taliban and Mullah Umar continue to live in Balochistan, the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda are in the Tribal Areas where they wrested possession of a large territory from the army that favoured them. The US and the EU are under threat. George Bush and Musharraf and Karzai are the most unpopular men in the region. It is clear who has won the war. *

Bush kept fully briefed on situation in India, Pak

Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 11:08 am Under World News Buzz up!

US President George W Bush has been kept “fully” abreast of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the rise in violence in Pakistan, the White House has said. “Yes, the President is kept fully briefed” on the situation in India and Pakistan, White House spokesperson Dana Perino told reporters on Thursday (August 28).

She was asked if the President is watching or has been briefed about the situation in the two neighbouring countries following the exit of key US ally Pervez Musharraf, who stepped down as Pakistan’s President on August 18.

“I would refer you to Department of Defence, who would have more on their recent conversations with their military,” Perino said. Her comments came as the top US army commander met his Pakistani counterpart secretly on board an American aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean and discussed efforts to slow the infiltration of militants from Pakistan.

The leading actors in the day-long conference yesterday (August 28) were Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and Pakistan Army Chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

After the meeting, Mullen said there is a recognition in Pakistan that the political process is “pretty” challenging but for the US the current issue on hand is dealing with the insurgency and Pakistan’s tribal areas, where Taliban and al-Qaeda militant have regrouped and are plotting attacks against the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. (PTI)

Saturday, 30 August 2008

From Today's Papers - 30 Aug

Govt notifies pay panel report

New Delhi, August 29
Over 50 lakh government employees, including armed forces personnel, will receive an enhanced pay packet beginning September 1, with the government today notifying the revised recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC).

The much-awaited CPC had received a seal of approval from the union cabinet a fortnight ago after it amended certain recommendations of the Justice Sri Krishna-led Pay Commission that submitted its report to the government on March 24 this year.

The CPC recommendations and the subsequent government decision with regard to revised scales of pay and dearness allowance for civilian employees of the Central government would be made retrospectively effective from January 1, 2006, the notification said.

However, the revised allowances, other than dearness allowance, would be effective only from September 1 this year.

On payment of arrears, the government has modified to the extent that the arrears would be paid in cash in two instalments - first instalment of 40 per cent this financial year (2008-09) and the remaining 60 per cent in the next financial year (2009-10).

The government has approved the setting up of a committee to examine individual, post-specific and cadre-specific anomalies.

The committee should try to complete the work in one year, the notification
said. — PTI

Slackness of BSF and police cost Jammu eight lives

The terror attack in Chinore area of Jammu defies the tall claims of alertness of security agencies in general and BSF in particular. Local residents demanded deployment of the army along the IB in Jammu to prevent a repeat of such incidents..

JUST THREE months after the Samba incident, the Border Security Force (BSF) and police failed to provide security as the security apparatus of the BSF has once again been breached on the international border while militants mocked the presence of police letting the Chinore hostage crisis happen.

If one of two had been alert precious lives may not have been lost and the four little children might not be fighting fear psychosis and mental trauma faced for in 19 hours of captivity. Do the two security organisations have any reply to the questions in the blank eyes of Vipin (three years) child who was one of the hostages and will his family ever forget his trauma asked Shashi Koul, a visitor to Billa Ram Bhagat house.

The Chinore terrorist attack that has claimed eight lives and injured to six others, virtually defied the tall claims of alertness of the security agencies, which was blowing its own trumpet till now maintaining that it had sounded a high alert.

The manner in which the militants not only succeeded in infiltrating in Indian side cutting the fence, but also moved freely in the areas adjacent to Jammu city s surprising. The ultras hoodwinked the security forces launched and stayed on the border for 30 hours even after an aerial survey.

There is strong resentment among the people of Jammu against the BSF whom they accuse of total failure in preventing infiltration by militants from across the border.

A similar incident occurred in the Samba sector in second week of May 10, this year when three militants succeeded in entering Samba town where they killed four civilians including a photo journalist and two army jawans before being killed," people recalled.

It may be mentioned here that fencing along International Border (IB) was found breached in almost similar manner in Samba sector in the first week of May. Later, three militants had appeared in Samba town in an attempt to target the Brigade headquarters and all of them were gunned down, but not before they had killed five civilians and two army jawans in encounters lasting three days.

The former Union minister of State for Defence, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta has demanded a high level probe into infiltration like the Samba and Kanachak infiltration and their tragic outcome, which speak about security drawbacks despite confirmed reports of amassing of highly trained ultras on the other side of the LoC.

This is not possible without weaknesses in the security arrangements, Prof Gupta said in a statement yesterday.

Member of Parliament Lal Singh also held the BSF responsible and said that it was due to the lack of seriousness of the BSF that Pakistani militants have been infiltrating.

How did the militants managed to cover a distance of more than 15 kms opening firing and killing and injuring army personnel and civilians in spite of a high alert, asked a local.

The police could not intercept the auto even at a single naka falling between Kanachak to Chinore," said Mohan Lal, another resident of Chinore.

A senior police officer has claimed that the militants sitting on front seat of the auto were mistaken for police personnel as they were wearing khaki uniforms.

The people regretted that both BSF and police have not been keeping vigil properly. "Had both agencies acted swiftly, the casualties could have been easily averted," they said.

On Tuesday (August 26), Additional DIG (G) BSF J B Sangwan reportedly said that militants managed to cut the fence and infiltrate by taking advantage of the heavy firing, darkness and thick undergrowth. However, he was optimistic about the search operations launched by the various agencies.

Pakistan’s Calculated Provocations:
India Must Keep its Powder Dry

by Rajinder Puri

While Musharraf as President faced threat of impeachment this scribe conjectured that he could bless an adventure in Kashmir to regain political relevance. On August 6th this scribe wrote: “Is there a design behind these (ceasefire) violations... To isolate the US in Pakistan and consolidate support from Beijing nothing could be more effective than even a small adventure against India… Musharraf’s previous record… reveals a gambler capable of taking any risk to preserve his power and position.”

With Musharraf’s exit it seemed that the threat was over. Appearances were deceptive. Cross-border firing by the Pakistan army increased. The crisis in Jammu and Kashmir escalated. The shortsighted stupidity of politicians in Jammu and in the Valley apart, there is little doubt that the death of a senior Hurriyat leader in police firing became a critical event to inflame public opinion in the Valley. It transpires that he was not shot by a police or army bullet. Would it be too far fetched to speculate that the ISI had a hand in his death?

Meanwhile bomb blasts inside Pakistan increased in intensity and frequency. And the ruling coalition instead of a united and focused fight against terror fell apart. One day after Nawaz Sharif walked out of the ruling coalition Pakistani infiltrators attacked Jammu. But this time there was a significant difference. They crossed not the Line of Control but international border. The army battled the terrorists in Jammu. Was the international border violation a carefully calibrated move by the forces scuttling Pakistan’s democracy to provoke a cross border response by the Indian army? It might be recalled that in 1965 when President Ayub Khan crossed the international border to cut off Akhnoor Prime Minister Shastri launched an attack against Lahore.
This time around an even mild response by the Indian army could serve the purpose of Pakistani forces out to destroy the country’s democracy. The army would regain full power with or without Musharraf. The Indian government needs to be doubly cautious.

The Pakistan government has failed to address the genuine demands for autonomy in NWFP and Baluchistan with a worthwhile peace package. It has failed to neutralize mounting terrorism. It has failed to separate the local Taliban from foreign Al Qaeda mercenaries. And it has failed to provide a united cohesive civilian government. Pakistan is in a mess.

If India responds angrily to calculated provocations by certain dark Pakistani elements, it will help strengthen them. If India watches, waits and keeps its powder dry, it might well see Pakistan fall apart under the weight of its own contradictions. That would be a tragic, complicating event. But with the failure of Pakistan’s politicians to rise to the occasion, this dire prospect is possible.

India's Astra Missile Flight Test in September

India will conduct the guided flight test of air-to-air missile Astra next month at Chandipur-on-sea in Orissa, a top defence official said Friday.

"We have kept the launch window open for the flight test with the guidance systems of Astra from Sep 10-15. We will conduct the test on any one of the days when the weather is favourable," defence scientist V.K. Saraswat told IANS here.

State-run Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) has already completed the control flights of Astra, designed for an 80-km range in head-on mode and 20 km-range in tail-chase mode.

The beyond visual range missile has been integrated with the carrier aircraft Sukhoi-30 MKI. Integration with other fighter jets (Mirage 2000 and MiG 29) will be taken up after the guided test to verify its accuracy in destroying manoeuvring targets.

"The results of various tests conducted in the development stages have been positive. The feedback has enabled us to prepare for the guided test and subsequent induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF)," Saraswat said at a defence conference on "Networking and network-centric operations", organised by the Computer Society of India.

The Hyderabad-based Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) took nearly five years to develop the 150-kg tactical missile at an estimated cost of Rs.10 billion under the integrated guided missile development programme of the DRDO. Possessing such a futuristic weapon will propel India into an elite club of countries such as the US, Russia, France and Israel.

In the run-up to the control and guided tests, two experimental flight tests were conducted in March 2007 to study the ballistic performance and control of the missile at low altitudes and shorter ranges.

"The missile can be launched after receiving a signal from the far away target and it will seek and home in using a complex range of onboard manoeuvres based on radio frequency (RF)," Saraswat said.

India 'Regrets' UN Body's
'Irresponsible' Kashmir Remarks

New Delhi
India has expressed regret over the “irresponsible” remarks by a UN body about alleged human rights abuse in Jammu and Kashmir and underlined that New Delhi "did not need any advice to protect the rights of its citizens".

“We regret that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has issued a statement on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said in a statement late Thursday night.

“This is uncalled for and irresponsible; India does not need any advice in respect of the protection and promotion of the human rights of its citizens,” he said.

He was referring to a statement by the Geneva-based OHCHR expressing concerns over “recent violent protests in Indian-administered Kashmir that have reportedly led to civilian casualties as well as restrictions to the right to freedom of assembly and expression.”

The OHCHR also called on the Indian authorities, in particular security forces, to respect the right to freedom of assembly and expression, and comply with international human rights principles in controlling the demonstrators.

Reacting sharply, New Delhi pointed out that Jammu and Kashmir has been “a victim of terrorist violence for almost two decades” and the authorities have acted “within the law and with restraint” throughout this period.

“Terrorist groups have targeted innocent civilians. They have not refrained from taking women and children as hostages as in the recent incident in Jammu,” he said.

“In all their actions against terrorists, personnel of the security forces have sought to ensure that no innocent lives are lost, and for this objective have on many occasions laid down their lives,” he added.

“The Acting High Commissioner calls for thorough and independent investigations into all killings that have occurred so far,” Michele Montas, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said in New York Wednesday.

"That the Secretary-General himself does not issue a statement should not be read as a sign that he is not aware of, or concerned about, the situation," Montas added when asked why the UN Secretary-General himself has not issued a statement on the situation in Kashmir.

Over 40 people have died in clashes between security forces and protesters since a row erupted in Kashmir two months ago over 40 hectares of land allotted to a Hindu shrine for constructing temporary shelters for pilgrims along the route to a much revered shrine.

The UN body's statement is seen here as a diplomatic setback for India as recent protests have drawn international attention to what some see as human rights violations in Indian Kashmir and India's dispute with Pakistan over this issue.

In a bid to internationalize the Kashmir issue, Pakistan has accused India of using disproportionate use of force and of human rights violations. India has repudiated Pakistan's contention saying Islamabad has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of India. Experts have warned the Indian government that if the crisis in Kashmir is not defused, the issue could be internationalized.

Govt. to set up ex-servicemen commission soon

Rewari (Haryana)

Fri, 29 Aug 2008:

Rewari (Haryana), August 29 (ANI): Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Friday said that the government would soon set up an Ex-Servicemen Commission to address the grievances of armed forces veterans and plan welfare schemes for them.

"After opening a new department in the Defence Ministry for ex-servemen, the government is going to set up an Ex-Servicemen Commission soon to recommend various welfare schemes for them and their families," Antony said, during the inauguration function of a Sainik School at Thappa Gothra Khori village near Rewari in Haryana.

He also said that the government had earmarked around Rs 6,000 crore additionally for serving defence personnel and ex-servicemen after removing the anomalies in the recommendations of the sixth pay commission, which was being implemented from 1st September.

Antony urged other States of the country to learn from Haryana, he further added that he is very impressed with Haryana government efforts in taking care of its ex-servicemen and providing them welfare schemes.

"The Sainik Schools are today one of the major vehicles to carry forward the movement of mass discipline in our society," he said. (ANI)

Army launches massive search operation in Jammu


Fri, 29 Aug 2008:

Jammu, Aug 29 (ANI): Army today launched a massive combing operation on the outskirts of Jammu following reports of the presence of two militants in the area.

A woman informed police about the presence of two suspected militants in police uniforms in Ratnuchak forest area on the outskirts of the Jammu cy in the afternoon, police said.

Soon after getting the information, troops of 26 Infantry Div, along with police, cordoned off the entire area and Special Operation Group launched a massive search operation, they said.

Army has taken positions atop houses and started combing operation in the forest belt, they said.

The high alert continued for the second consecutive day on Friday in the city. All entry and exit points have been sealed and all vehicles going in and coming out of the region are being screened.

Police suspects that some more militants may have sneaked into Jammu from Pakistan after crossing the international border in Kanachak during the major infiltration bid on August 26.

Three infiltrators were killed on August 27 during a 19-hour-long hostage drama in the city. (ANI)

ISI backing ‘super terror’ against India

New Delhi, August 29
In a startling revelation, a Union Home Ministry report has warned the usage of chemicals, biological, nuclear or radiological weapons against India, initiating a form of "super terrorism", by terror groups backed by Pakistan's ISI.

With ISI spreading its tentacles across the country - from Jammu and Kashmir to down South - the report spoke of active terror-modules mushrooming in Bihar, Assam and West Bengal, where sleeper cells have been assigned specific targets.

The report also said the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar is being used for smuggling arms, explosives, fake currency into the country, while the agency was focusing on Uttar Pradesh to fund Madrasas and recruit youngsters for subversive activities.

South India too is figuring in the ISI’s overall game plan, wherein unemployed youths are being targeted.

The report also mentions that ISI is trying to revive Punjab militancy and forming new anti-India groups in the state.

Underworld gangs, which have strong links with ISI, also find a special mention in the report for being approached by the Pakistan agency to expand the terror network in Gujrat after their successful run in Maharashtra.

These gangs are already using the coastal line for transporting arms and running drug operations. — PTI

Bush fully briefed on India, Pakistan situation since Musharraf exit

August 29th, 2008 - 11:11 am ICT by IANS -

Washington, Aug 29 (IANS) President George W. Bush has been kept fully briefed about the situation in Pakistan and rise in violence across the border with India since the exit former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf.”Yes, the president is kept fully briefed on it,” White House spokesperson Dana Perino told reporters Thursday when asked if Bush was watching or been briefed about the situation in Pakistan since the exit of it key ally in Islamabad.

“And I would refer you to Department of Defence, who would have more on their recent conversations with their military,” she said.

Perino’s comments came as the Pentagon confirmed that top US military officials had met the Pakistani army’s chief of staff, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Aug 26 on board the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Indian Ocean to continue “their ongoing dialogue about the war on terrorism.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, described his meeting with Kayani as “constructive and focused on the challenges posed by extremists in the federally administered tribal area and the North West Frontier in Pakistan.”

Kayani understands the threat extremists pose to his country, Mullen told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday. The US and Pakistani top brass went over the specifics of the threat facing Pakistan and Afghanistan and what can be done about it.

“The Pakistani military faces a conventional military challenge from India and the extremist challenge,” he said. “Kayani understands the situation and is moving toward combating the extremist problem on the border with Afghanistan.”

“I’m pleased that he’s moving in that direction and that he is, actually, operating,” Mullen said. “And again, we’re trying to figure out … how that fits into bringing pressure onto that border to work to minimise the cross-border operations from Pakistan into Afghanistan on the case of the insurgents. It’s just going to take some time.”

“There is … a growing complexity and coordination among extremist groups there - an almost syndicate-like behaviour - that has resulted in new and ever more sophisticated attacks on coalition forces,” Mullen said referring to the tribal area that the Taliban and Al Qaida are using to plan and train for attacks in Afghanistan.

Pointing to attacks against French forces near Kabul last week and against US forces in the Wanat Valley near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan last month, he said: “The safe havens in the border regions provide launching pads for these sorts of attacks, and they need to be shut down.”

Accompanying Mullen at the conference with the Pakistanis was Army Gen.

David D. McKiernan, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan; Army Lt. Gen.

Martin E. Dempsey, acting US Central Command chief; Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the soon-to-be commander of US Central Command who now commands Multinational Force Iraq; and Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander of US Special Operations Command.

Mullen said he came away from the long-planned meeting “very encouraged that the focus is where it needs to be and that the … military-to-military relationship we’re building with Pakistan is getting stronger every day.”

“For me, more than anything, this was a chance to better understand a very complex challenge in a critical part of the world and to try to do that through the eyes of the leadership who live and work and fight there every single day,” said Mullen who has met Kayani five times since February.

The meeting was important in “terms of learning as well as continuing to look at where … we can support and how we can understand each other better, with a…very clear need from the United States’ standpoint and from the Pakistani standpoint, that we have got to figure out a way to get at this problem,” he said.

Different areas of Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan pose different challenges, Mullen said, and long-term solutions must be in place to address the root causes of extremism.

“It continues to be an extraordinarily complex problem [in Pakistan],” he said. “We need to continue to press on it. There are areas that we can do better. There are areas that the Pakistan military can do better. We understand that. It’s an area, I think, we can all improve on. But it is not going to be something that gets solved overnight.”

The United States will continue to work with Kayani and will continue to reach out to improve the military-to-military relationship, he said.

“As I have come to know him … his goal … is to do the right thing by Pakistan,” Mullen said. “He’s an extraordinary individual, and his ultimate … principles and goals are to do what’s best for Pakistan. And everything he’s done in our engagement indicates that’s absolutely the case.”

War, Peace & Relations Across Palk Straits

By Col. R. Hariharan (retd)

South Asia Analysis Group

The Eelam War is entering the messy phase. During the last two weeks, in Mannar sector the security forces have progressed up to Mulankavil (southeast of Nachikuda on the Mannar coast) on A32 road to Pooneryn. They are leaning on lineTunukkai-Mallavi, West of Mankulam on A9 highway increasing the threat to Pooneryn and Kilinochchi defences of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This should put the LTTE in a dilemma as the security forces have two options to strike – along A32 to Pooneryn with holding operations along Tunukkai-Uyilankulam/ Mallavi, or progress in the other way round to threaten Kilinochchi. Both are viable as they have another task force guarding their eastern flank of 57 Division operating closer to A9.

On the Welioya sector, though 59 Division has managed to capture Andankulam base its progress into the Tiger heartland north and west of Mullaitivu could get sticky due to the terrain that eats up troops.

These operations have amply demonstrated how the security forces are overcoming their weaknesses on three difficult aspects – higher coordination of war involving multiple formations, effective use of commandos in tandem with conventional operations, and retaining military initiative at all times.

On the negative side, as the security forces progress further into the LTTE areas, the lines of communication become stretched, they would become vulnerable to determined LTTE interdiction or even blocks. Much would depend upon Prabhakaran’s ability to motivate the cadres and the ability of the security forces not be destabilised by such operations. One can expect the security forces to have contingency plan for such a development.

Whether one believes in the huge number of casualties of the put out daily by the Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence or not, the writing on the wall would be clear to the insurgent group. Time is running out for it to hold on to its conventional capability. In war, time is the only resource available equally to both the victor and the vanquished. If at all the LTTE has to do anything to stem the tide of the security force eating into its vitals, it has to do it now. Overall, on both sectors the progress is going to be messy and slower, with the monsoon also making life more difficult for both the forces.

The non-military issue that could upset the security forces advance is the flow of refugees going out of control when they move in to the more inhabited areas closer to Kilinochchi, Mankulam and Pooneryn. The security forces had managed to avoid this so far in the Mannar sector by patiently investing or by passing small towns (as seen in Adampan operations). That might not be possible unless they streamline a policy on handling the large outflow of population expected to spill over on axes of advance when the operations are joined in. There will also be the huge burden of logistics to control and care for the civilians. These are the known fall outs of war that cannot be wished away. (That is what makes war a non-option.)

Relations across the Palk Strait

A few days back when India’s National Security Advisor MK Narayanan told The Straits Times interviewer that the Sri Lankan government should get the Tamil population on their side to succeed there was a mild flutter in Colombo. In the midst of a winning war, brand marketed as the Liberation of the People, Narayanan’s remark "The (Sri Lanka Army) has made a lot of progress in the last few weeks. But even if they win the battle I am not sure they will win the war. I think they haven’t got the Tamil population on their side," probably grated the official stand of Colombo on the war.

He did not underestimate Colombo’s reaction to his statement. "I know the Sri Lankan government will be unhappy (at this advice) but we are not interested in preaching to them and that is the best advice they could get. India can give this advice better than the Norwegians or any other country. These are people that we know, we understand. Do they want a situation like many countries have faced?" he added.

On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa had his own view on the subject. Speaking to The Times, London three days later, he said peace in Sri Lanka would return only if Tamil rebels were destroyed completely. "You can’t just push them into the jungles and wait. You have to search for them and completely eradicate them. Only then can peace come," he explained further.

The two statements indicate the differing perceptions of India and Sri Lanka on the war going on against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka.

India had been consistent on three issues in its cyclical interest, involvement, and intervention in Sri Lanka Tamil issue. They are – no support to independent Tamil Eelam, support for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, and the devolution of powers to Sri Lanka Tamils as the key to solve the Tamil issue. MK Narayanan’s statement basically conforms to this pattern, though with a little generosity his wording might be called plain speaking. Even the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "stuck to the traditional Indian stand that Sri Lanka should work out a formula which allows for maximum devolution of power to the ethnic Tamils in the north of the island country," during his recent visit to Colombo to attend the SAARC s summit, as a news report from Colombo stated.

Most of the Sri Lanka watchers (including this author) would agree with the National Security Advisor’s assessment of the Sri Lanka situation: "What the Sri Lankans are not factoring in is the great deal of sullenness in the Tamil man. There are accusations of profiling even in Colombo. Our argument is: unless you give Tamils a feeling they have the right to their own destiny in many matters you will not succeed. LTTE’s capacity to carry out terrorist attacks is not diminished. What we are telling them is, get the Tamils on your side by greater devolution of power. For them to be part of Sri Lankan state, they need the huge Tamil minority on their side."

In essence, Narayanan’s statement does not question the legitimacy of Sri Lanka’s war against the LTTE, but the overall objective of the war. President Rajapaksa’s government has repeatedly given an impression that once the LTTE is vanquished it would be all smooth sailing with the Tamil population automatically joining the democratic mainstream. The Sri Lanka Defence Secretary’s statement quoted earlier reinforces this impression yet again. It appears to identify the LTTE as the problem, rather than as the manifestation of the problem. And that is the difference between the perceptions of India and Sri Lanka.

A second aspect is the popular aspiration for peace. Surveys indicate increasing public support for war in Sri Lanka. But this increased support has two elements: battles are being won, and people are nursing increased expectations of permanent peace at the end of the war. End objective of war makes a lot of difference to people’s expectations. Peoples’ expectations of permanent peace are unlikely to be met unless there is a matching process of devolution of powers to the Tamils. This simple truth appears to have been wished away in Sri Lanka at present. The holding of elections for the eastern provincial council offered a very good opportunity to the government to demonstrate its faith in devolving limited powers envisaged in the 13th amendment. Unfortunately, even that has not been done so far, and the process still remains a promise in print only.

Presence of a small number of highly motivated terrorists can cause havoc to the normal life of the people as amply demonstrated by the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists in India for sometime now. A small number of them managed to carry serial blasts in a number of cities across the country despite the police and security apparatus of over 12 states coming into play. This should hold an abject lesson for Sri Lanka. If the LTTE is routed and driven out of areas under its control (as total ’ of any insurgent force might take years), a large segment of it will take to terrorist attacks across the country.

This is a clear if we look at the long history of the Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka. To convert the entire history of Tamil struggle into a simple equation of war against the LTTE might win some votes in Southern Sri Lanka, but it would not eliminate the Tamil political and militancy problems, though they may not continue in the same form or content as at present.

Notwithstanding these differences in perceptions on the Tamil issue, India and Sri Lanka appear to have a clear understanding of the political compulsions behind their conduct. This has helped them to focus on the positives and not to overplay the differences. This is evident from Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s comments given in another interview to an Indian news agency on Narayanan’s statement.

Rather than criticising Narayanan, he lamented about Sri Lanka’s limitations in convincing others about its intentions. "The only area where we have failed is to show our genuineness, to convince the outsiders, about our sincerity in resolving the problem. In action we have proved it. Unfortunately, we are not good at propaganda. If Tamils indeed are not with us, then it is our weakness." This statement appears to have chosen to ignore the whole point mad by MK Narayanan. It was much more than propaganda, it was about belief. The defence secretary’s statement may be called over simplification of not only a complex issue.

The Sri Lanka government is fully aware that it needs Indian government’s support even to complete its current military mission. India is extending vital support for the war effort by continuing with tough security measures in Tamil Nadu where a number of LTTE supply modules continue to be busted. This should indicate to Colombo that regardless of nuances of rhetoric, India’s policy has been consistent. The defence secretary also acknowledged this with the words that Narayanan "only put in different words what our President has been saying, that we need to defeat terrorism but the (ethnic) problem needs to be resolved (politically)." The Defence Secretary took consolation in two positive aspects he saw in Narayanan’s statement: he had said the military was winning, and he did not say that Sri Lanka should talk to the LTTE.

This convergence and confusion in view points of India and Sri Lanka will continue till the President is dependent upon right wing Sinhala support. This section of Sinhala polity has survived by building up the so called "Dravidastan" bogey of Tamil Nadu together with the LTTE gobbling up parts of Sri Lanka. The thought of Dravidastan has been shunted to historical irrelevance in Tamil Nadu, which has become a vital development engine in the national mainstream. And the faster the President gets rid of this right wing dependency the better it would be for his government, the people of Sri Lanka, and for India-Sri Lanka relations.

(Col. R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served as the head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka 1987-90.He is associated with the South Asia Analysis Group and the Chennai Centre for China Studies.

India-China defence ties to get boost


30 August 2008

NEW DELHI - The navies and the air forces of India and China are seeking to engage with each other for the first time this year to build up on the goodwill generated by the first joint exercise between the two armies last year.

In this endeavour, the chief of the Navy of the People’s Republic of China, Wu Shengli, will visit India towards the yearend following the visit of the chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal Fali H. Major, to China.

“The chief of the navy of the People’s Republic of China will be visiting India in November- end this year to discuss the holding of joint exercises,” a senior Navy official told IANS. Indian and Chinese warships have already been making port calls in each other’s countries as part of growing confidence- building measures between the two sides.

The Indian Navy has long expressed apprehensions about the Chinese Navy’s incursions into the Indian Ocean region and hopes to “blunt” its thrust into this area through engagement.

“There has been talk of enhanced defence cooperation between the two countries and right now the balance of visits to the other country is tilted on the Indian side.

“The visit of the Chinese Navy chief will give a fresh impetus to military cooperation between two countries,” added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

India and China fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962. More recently, they have taken a series of steps to thaw their relations, including strengthening of military ties.

The IAF chief’s visit to China will precede the visit of the Chinese naval chief. “The IAF chief will visit China in October-end or in the first week of November this year.

His visit is likely to coincide with the visit of IAF’s aerobatics flying display team Surya Kiran’s visit to China,” an IAF official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Surya Kiran team will perform in China, probably some time in October or November. “This will be a goodwill trip. Any IAF exercise with China is likely to take place only after that,” the IAF official added. The Surya Kiran team of 11 aircraft and their pilots is the daredevil aerobatics team of the IAF that has performed in several countries around the world and amazed audiences with its skill.

Discussions between India and China are also expected here soon to finalise the modalities and venue for joint army exercises to be held in India later this year.

During his visit to the border post of Longewala in February this year, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had stated that the next India-China joint army exercises would be held in India.

This would be the second such joint army exercise between the two countries. The first India- China joint army exercise was held in China in December last year near the city of Kunming.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between India and China in May 2006 during a visit by the then defence minister (and current external affairs minister) Pranab Mukherjee that stipulated that the two countries would hold joint military exercises, join forces in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts and also cooperate in search and rescue operations.

Indian Navy Proposes Naval Patrols Along the Waters of Somalia

Dated 28/8/2008

In the wake of recent hijacks of ships on the Somalia coast and the threat to shipping line, Indian Navy has sent a proposal to the Indian government of having regular patrols in the Somalia waters, on the line of US naval patrols, which is now stationed there.

The letter was written after pirates took over a cargo ship, 'Iran Deynat' in Somalia on August 21. There were total 24 people in the ship including three Indians. The ship 'Iran Deynat' was sailing towards Somalia carrying cargo from Poland.
The proposal deal with the implications of having regular patrols in the area, and this could lead to quicker response by the Indian Navy in case of similar responses in the future. This could lead to unilateral action or even joint action against pirates.

The transitional federal government of Somalia has authorized the United Nations Security Council to permit other countries to enter Somalia waters to fight pirates. Somali coastal waters are among the most hazardous in the world, despite the presence of US navy patrols there.
The US and NATO warships have been patrolling off the Horn of Africa for years in an effort to crack down on piracy off Somalia, where a UN-backed transitional government is struggling to restore order after 15 years of near-anarchy.

Friday, 29 August 2008

From Today's Papers - 29 Aug

BJP asks Centre to summon Pak envoy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The BJP has asked the Central government to summon immediately Pakistan ambassador to India to the external affairs ministry and launch a formal and strong protest against yesterday’s “Fidayeen” attack in Jammu, in which three Indian security personnel were killed even as they successfully annihilated the three terrorists.

BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad complimented here today the Indian Armed Forces for successfully liquidating the terrorists, while managing to ensure the safety of women and children taken hostage by the terrorists in Jammu.

He said, “In last 10-12 months over 200 such incidents have taken place where the Fidayeen have managed to infiltrate into India under cover of firing from the Pakistani Rangers and other security forces on the Indo-Pak border.

The BJP spokesman has blamed Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) for this and said even though it had been banned in Pakistan, it is operating in PoK under different names and Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik had met LeT leader Hafiz Saeed after which he had met the Prime Minister.

Prasad demanded an explanation from the Centre on this. While he did not disclose what transpired in the negotiations between the Centre and the Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti (SASS), he urged the government to immediately publicise it to defeat the designs of the separatists.

Time to take guard

Repeated attempts to push in mercenaries now appear to be part of a bigger plan to create mayhem in Jammu and destabilise India, for which common masses are being used as cannon fodder to suit the vested interests..

CJ: Lalit Ambardar , 10 hours ago Views:139 Comments:3

KASHMIR CEASES to be an issue in the absence of guns, mercenaries and the pan Islamic fervour.

The compulsive and media savvy double speak Kashmiri pan Islamists and their known sympathisers may have wanted the world to believe otherwise, but the fact remains that the on going strife in Kashmir that saw ethnic cleansing of Hindu Pandits from the Valley 18 years ago, is an extension of the pan Islamic agenda to annex Muslim majority Kashmir valley from secular India and the common masses are being used as cannon fodder to suit the vested interests.

Coming soon after the brazen exhibition of intolerance over Amarnath land transfer that was followed by amassing of Islamists in the streets of Srinagar, repeated attempts to push in mercenaries now appear to be part of a bigger plan to create mayhem in Jammu and destabilise India. On the one hand ordinary Kashmiris are being instigated in the name of religion and on the other pressure is being built up along the LOC. India needs to be on guard.

Pakistan's 'Silence on Kashmir': Separatists Surprised

Worried over the "well-being" of its leaders arrested earlier this week, separatist Hurriyat Conference Thursday said it was "surprised at the silence of Pakistan over Kashmir".
"We are seriously concerned about the well-being of our leaders arrested by the authorities here," said the joint coordination committee of the moderate and hardline factions of the Hurriyat conference in a statement issued here.

Senior separatist leaders, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik were arrested Sunday to prevent their participation in proposed march to city centre Lal Chowk Monday in this summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
Spokesperson of the coordination committee Masarat Alam blamed India for using force against what he called "internationally accepted peaceful protests in Kashmir".
The co-ordination committee asked the people to hold peaceful demonstrations after midday prayers across the valley Friday.

Alam, a right hand man of Geelani, who advocates Jammu and Kashmir's merger with Pakistan, said the separatist conglomerate was surprised at the "silence of Pakistan over the developments in Kashmir".
Meanwhike, curfew in the valley was relaxed in a phased manner again Thursday, which passed off peacefully except for a protest in the uptown Maisuma locality - the neighbourhood of Yasin Malik, chairman of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.
"Protesters pelted stones and raised slogans in Maisuma during the curfew relaxation period here. They also burnt tyres," police said.

In all other places in Srinagar city and elsewhere in the Valley, people busied themselves buying food and other essential items of life during the relaxation period.
Two protesters were killed and 10 others, including three security personnel, were injured during the curfew relaxation in the valley Wednesday.
The curfew was imposed in the valley in the wee hours Sunday to foil separatist march to city centre Lal Chowk Monday. The curfew has been relaxed but in phased manner Wednesday and Thursday across the valley.

Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing widespread violent demonstrations for more than two and a half months now. The protests were triggered following a dispute over 40 hectares of forest land "diverted" to the Hindu Amarnath shrine board. The diversion order was later cancelled July 1 following a backlash in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley. When the order was reversed, Hindus staged demonstrations, blocking the movement of goods to the valley from the Hindu-majority Jammu region. people have died, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, in the turmoil, which has been stoked by both separatist leaders in the Valley and Hindu extremists in Jammu.

Also Thursday, the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service Thursday began its fortnightly run across the Line of Control (LoC) - the de-facto border between India and Pakistan. Authorities had made announcements here that the tickets for the bus would be treated as curfew passes so that passengers could reach the bus stand.

Indian Navy Wins Friends, Expands Influence in Indian Ocean Region
By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi
Parallel to India's rise as a global economic power, its navy is expanding its influence among the over 30 Indian Ocean countries with efficient delivery of aid during natural disasters.
The effort, explained a senior officer, was also aimed at countering the growing influence of the Chinese Navy in what is known as the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) that straddles from Africa to Australia.

The third largest body of water in the world and with 33 littoral states, the IOR is strategically important, with a large percentage of global trading ships passing through it.
Eighty percent of China's and 65 percent of India's oil is shipped through this region.
"Our aid diplomacy is aimed at gaining more influence in the IOR. And coupled with our 'Look East' policy, it is expected to help India gain (in the region)," the officer told IANS.

"We are helping African countries and countries like Mauritius in capacity building and capability enhancing. We would like to play a benevolent role in this area," the officer added.
In May this year, as Cyclone Nargis battered neighbouring Myanmar leaving thousands dead, the Indian Navy was the first to send relief supplies.

Under "Operation Sahayata", INS Rana and INS Kirpan offloaded sea-borne aid supplies at Yangon port. It was the latest demonstration of the ability of the Indian Navy to rush aid in times of distress.
When tsunami struck in December 2004, although India suffered over 15,000 deaths and vast destruction, the Indian Navy was quick to rush aid to the Maldives as well as the worst-hit Sri Lanka and Indonesia. About 1,000 Indian relief personnel and five naval ships were sent to Trincomalee, Galle and Colombo ports in Sri Lanka, with medical teams and immediate relief material.
"The fact that India could deploy its navy within 24 hours of the tsunami created ripples in the world, including in Washington," pointed out analyst C. Uday Bhaskar of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).

The Indian Air Force and navy helicopters ferried packed food, medicines and drinking water and undertook rescue operations in Sri Lanka. Two field hospitals were established in Galle and Colombo before any other aid could reach the island country.
"Post-tsunami we have learnt more lessons in relief operations. Each of our ships carries one logistic brick (a pre-packed container of emergency supplies), which is sufficient to cater to 200 people for 30 days. The brick includes a community kitchen and packaged food to provide immediate relief and succour," an Indian Navy officer told IANS.

The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard also undertook relief work in the Maldives post-tsunami. Apart from conducting aerial surveys to search for survivors, India provided relief material.
In Indonesia, Indian ships offloaded emergency rations, medicines, tents and first-aid kits worth $1 million and established two field hospitals in the worst hit area, Aceh.

Said Bhaskar: "Traditionally aid is a potent tool of diplomacy. With a number of natural disasters hitting the Indian Ocean Region, the Indian Navy has acquired a great edge.
"Moreover, engaging in capacity building and capability enhancing is the direct way of enhancing influence," he added.

In February, the chiefs of a record number of 27 navies from the IOR took part in an Indian Ocean Naval Symposium in New Delhi in February this year.
"India's move should be seen in the light of China's interest in the region and the aid it has been showering on the nations to avoid a choking of its energy supplies," the officer added.
China has financed the construction of Pakistan's Gwadar port and the coastal highway linking the port to Karachi. The cost benefits to China of using Gwadar for western China's imports and exports are evident.
China has helped refurbish the Chittagong port in Bangladesh. Beijing also gives billions of dollars in military aid to Myanmar.
Said the Indian officer: "Aid diplomacy as a tool furthered India's foreign policy objectives after tsunami."

New J&K infiltration strategy worries Army

Nitin Gokhale, Zafar Iqbal

Friday, August 29, 2008, (LoC, Jammu)

A day after the terror attack in Jammu, there are fresh concerns.

Security forces say this incident indicates a change in strategy of militants and the Pakistani Army. The militants infiltrated from Pakistan by cutting the fence on the international border.

The Indian Army's extra vigil all along the Line of Control (LoC) this summer has prevented many terrorists from infiltrating into Kashmir.

So, the Pakistani Army is now encouraging infiltration through the International Border by providing cover fire to terrorists.

S Virk, DIG of Border Security Force, says: "It is clear that militants from the Pakistani side or may be the forces of Pakistan or their agencies who are doing all this, these people want to disturb the atmosphere in India and they want to resort to violent means to weaken the state."

There have been 33 ceasefire violations and over 200 infiltration attempts both along the IB and the LoC so far this year.

Many believe Pakistan's internal problems are at the heart of the trouble: instability within the government and a tussle for power with the ISI.

And with the ruling coalition in Pakistan still very shaky, New Delhi isn't sure who and what its dealing with.

With the LoC becoming almost difficult to cross this year, terrorists based in mainland Pakistan are now attempting to breach the IB closer to Jammu clearly to create further trouble in the already disturbed area.

COBRA force to combat Maoist menace

New Delhi, Thu, 28 Aug 2008 ANI

New Delhi, Aug 28 (ANI): The Union Government has given the green signal to raise a 10,000-strong special anti-Naxal force COBRA to combat the growing Left-wing extremism in the country.

The Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by the Prime Minister gave the nod to the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA), under the command and control of the CRPF.

K Durga Prasad, a 1981 batch IPS officer from Andhra Pradesh and an expert in handling the anti-naxal operations, is likely to take charge of the COBRA.

The new force will be set up at a cost of Rs 1,389.47 crore out of which Rs 898.12 crore will be spent on land and infrastructure while Rs 491.35 crore will be used for manpower training over a period of three years.

The CRPF, in the meantime, will provide its personnel till the recruitment and the training process of the fresh 10 battalions is completed.

The Prime Minister, during his address to the top police brass in October last year, had called for setting up a special force to tackle Left-wing extremism.

The COBRA personnel would be imparted special training in terrain and topography of their area of operation.

The COBRA will be headquartered in the national capital and will have battalion headquarters in every Naxal-affected state.

Naxalites have carried out several attacks this year which includes gunning down of more than two dozen personnel of Andhra Pradesh's elite force "Greyhounds" last month, killing of Orissa police personnel, political leaders and their kin. (ANI)

General Kapoor to visit UK to strengthen defence ties

New Delhi

Thu, 28 Aug 2008:

New Delhi, Aug 28 (ANI): Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor will be on four day official visit to the United Kingdom from September 1-4 to strengthen existing defence ties.

The visit by the Army Chief will add the necessary impetus to the existing defence relationship and broad-base it into a mutually benicial partnership.

During his visit, the Army Chief will interact with the senior military and civilian officials and will also discuss various defence related issues to strengthen existing defence ties with UK.

General Kapoor will be visiting Royal School of Artillery at Larkhill, Defence Academy at Shrivenham, Land Warfare Centre in Salisbury plains, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland and National Army Museum.

During his visit to Land Warfare Centre, General Kapoor will witness the training and preparation of Indian Mechanised Company which will be participating in a first ever joint training cum exercise on mechanized operations overseas with UK Land Warfare Centre Battle Gp (LWC BG) from August 27 to September 26.

This exercise is a reciprocal engagement to an earlier exercise carried out in high altitude areas of India in 2007 between Indian paratroopers and British Royal Marines.

A strong bilateral relationship is of priority for both countries for economic, commercial, historical and foreign policy reasons and presence of large Indian diaspora in UK.

India shares good bilateral and strategic relations with UK that are multifaceted and have been strengthened over the years with regular exchange of visits at political, diplomatic and military levels.

India's relations in the field of defence with UK have graduated from military cooperation to comprehensive defence comprehensive defence cooperation, to include courses, training for UN Peacekeeping Operations, joint training cum exercises in the fields of counter terrorism including employment of Special Forces, Mechanised Forces operations and exchange of observers on each others' Army exercises etc. (ANI)

Antony to lay foundation stone of Sainik School

New Delhi

Thu, 28 Aug 2008:

New Delhi, Aug 28 (ANI): Defence Minister AK Antony will lay the foundation stone of a Sainik School in Rewari district of Haryana on Friday.

Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh and Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju will also be present on the occasion.

Raonderjit Singh, who has worked painstakingly towards realizing this goal, said the Sainik School being set up at Tappa Gothra Khori village would be the second Sainik School in the state.

The Government of Haryana had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Defence in this regard.

"the Gram Panchayat played a vital role by donating about 50 acres of land for the Sainik School. Till the time the school building is constructed, temporary accommodation for the functioning of the school would be made available in the Primary School Building, Community Hall and Youth Hostel in Rewari town," he added.

He further said that the setting up of the Sainik School in Rewari district would fulfill a long pending demand of the inhabitants of this region. It would also enable the youth of the region to avail of the excellent educational facilities and discipline inculcated in Sainik Schools.

The first Sainik School in Haryana was set up at Kunjpura in Karnal district in 1961. The present state Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the Chief of the Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor are its most distinguished alumni. (ANI)

2 DRDO men to take part in Siachen trek

28 August, 2008 04:48:14

By Sridhar Kumaraswami

New Delhi

Aug. 28: Two employees of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) could be part of the second "high-altitude trek" to the Siachen glacier organised by the Indian Army this year which will take place in October.

The high-altitude trek is open to civilians and about 40 people in all could participate in the trek this year. South Block sources said that such a move would enable DRDO staff to have a first-hand experience of the hostile climatic conditions that Indian soldiers stationed in the Siachen glacier experience every year where temperatures drop to minus 40º Celsius during the peak of winter. The three-week trek is planned in October this year when temperatures are expected to be sub-zero at about -8º Celsius.

The DRDO officials told this newspaper that the organisation conducts a range of activities directed for the benefit of soldiers stationed at Siachen that include designing high-altitude winter clothing, growing food crops through trench farming in Leh (Ladakh region of J&K) as well as making packaged food that is consumed by the soldiers stationed in the region. The Indian Army had opened up the Siachen Glacier to civilians for the first time ever in 2007 and the Army’s Adventure Wing had organised the "high-altitude trek" to the Siachen glacier last year. The announcement by the Indian Army in September last year had also led to protests from Pakistan. Indian Army sources had said then that this was being done with the aim of promoting tourism now that there is peace in the Siachen Glacier region. Those who participated in the trek in 2007 included representatives from various mountaineering clubs, cadets from the NCC, Rashtriya Indian Military College and Indian Military Academy as well as those Armymen who were "trained glacial craft experts".

The ministry of defence has also been focusing on providing Indian soldiers stationed in Siachen with special shoes for the severe winter and also new equipment that would protect them from the threat of avalanches.

India and Pakistan have held talks on the Siachen issue that included various aspects including demilitarisation.

The Indian Army is keen on full demarcation of the ground position of troops in the region beyond the NJ 9842 (map co-ordinate) position on the glacier. The Indian Army also wants extension of any mutually agreed upon border demarcation straight up north from the NJ 9842 position along the ridgelines.

Jammu hostage drama: ill-equipped Army's tricky gambit

Vishal Thapar


NOT FIGHTING SMART: The battle-hardened Indian Army took 20 hours to resolve the hostage crisis in Jammu.

The battle-hardened Indian Army took 20 hours to resolve the hostage crisis in Jammu. Did the lack of appropriate weapons slow it down and endanger the hostages? CNN-IBN goes to the arms bazaar to look for smart weapons, which could sharpen India's counter-terrorist capability.

New Delhi: The biggest challenge for the Indian Army during Wednesday's hostage crisis in Jammu was breaching the house in which the terrorists were holed up.

The problem was the lack of specialised weapons, which could have helped the troops force their way in and confront the terrorists without harming the hostages. Instead, the Army was equipped with weapons that could have brought the house down but killed everyone in the bargain.

The Army’s only option was to outlast the terrorists in order to exhaust their ammunition reserve — a tricky gambit when time was at a premium.

What it desperately needed, but did not have, were the new generation of intelligent weapons for counter-terrorism.

Perhaps, what it needed was a door-breaching rifle-mounted grenade — nicknamed Simon — which can break down doors without endangering the hostages or soldiers who may otherwise have to risk being shot while physically forcing open the door.

Another good choice would have been the Matador shoulder-fired launch system, which can blow a hole in a wall without causing harm to those trapped. The idea is to deny the cover of walls to the enemy.

These are the first set of intelligent weapons designed to counter urban terrorism and to cause collateral damage.

It was, indeed, the pain of losing innocents in hostage situations led to the development of these weapons.

"The concept that inspired Simon was an incident that took place about 10 years ago in which one of the Israeli soldiers was kidnapped. The IDR forces knew that the soldier was there but they had no way no way of getting to him safely," a representative of Rafael Defence Systems, Maria, explains.

While India is arming itself to the teeth for conventional wars, which may never be fought, it has surprisingly chosen to fight protracted low-intensity proxy wars with low technology.

The resultant casualties have failed to move the decision makers sufficiently so far.

Jammu: Options that the Army was weighing

Surya Gangadharan & Vishal Thapar


ON THE HITLIST: The hostage crisis has made it clear that Jammu is now on the terror hitlist.

New Delhi: The Chinor situation was the latest in a series of hostage crisis in Jammu and Kashmir. So what were the options that the Army was considering?

The Army was faced with tough choices in dealing with the hostage crisis in Jammu.

A senior Army officer outlined a three-fold scenario:

Option One: The Army identifies all points of entry into the house - in which civillians are being held hostage - in pitch darkness. A small team breaks in using small arms and throws stun and smoke grenades hoping to rescue the hostages unharmed.

Option Two: A maulvi is brought in to persuade the militants to surrender. If they are Kashmiris, this option could work. If they belong to the Lashkar-e-Toiba or the Jaish-e-Mohammad, this option will fail.

Option Three: There is a possibility the militants might attempt an escape, using the hostages as shields. The Army has developed tactics to separate the hostages from their captors and use sharpshooters to settle the issue. However, this third option may well allow the militants to escape, if that would save the hostages.

Major General Afsir Karim says, "This is the best opportunity (for the militants). They can mix with the crowds and disappear."

But the bigger worry is that more militants may be waiting to strike in Jammu, taking advantage of the communal tensions stoked by the Amarnath land controversy.

While in Kashmir, the insurgent strategy seems to be focussed on provoking security forces to fire on unarmed mobs, Jammu, on the other hand, could witness more direct attacks on innocents with an intent to deepen the communal divide.

What's clear out of all this is that Jammu is now firmly on the terror hitlist.

Pentagon brass meet secretly with Pakistanis

By PAULINE JELINEK – 7 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — With violence worsening in Afghanistan and Pakistan, top U.S. military officers conducted a secret strategy session with commanders from Islamabad on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that he came away from the meeting encouraged that Pakistanis are focused on the problem of militants using the country as a safe haven. But he indicated he's not satisfied that Islamabad and Washington are doing the best job they can against the growing threat.

He also said he had no new details on the investigation into an operation that Afghan officials say killed between 76 and 90 Afghan civilians last Friday. The U.S. has said it killed 25 militants and five civilians during the raid and resulting air strikes on a compound in the Shindand district of Herat province.

"We work exceptionally hard to minimize any collateral damage — zero collateral damage is the goal," Mullen said, adding that the U.S. regrets it when it occurs.

The meeting on the aircraft carrier Tuesday came after several weeks of Pakistani offensives against militants in Pakistan's volatile northwest — an effort American officials welcome but say has come nowhere near to stemming growing problems near the Afghan border.

The meeting aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln was the latest of several between Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and General Ashfaq Kayani, chief of staff of the Pakistani army.

Mullen told a Pentagon press conference that this time he also brought Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, who will soon leave to become the senior commander in the Middle East and Adm. Eric T. Olson, head of the Special Operations Command, and Lt. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, acting commander of American forces in the Middle East.

Also present was Gen. David McKiernan, NATO's commander in Afghanistan and Rear Adm. Michael LeFever, American military liaison in Pakistan.

Mullen declined to give details about discussions with Kayani, but said he has been moving in the right direction.

"Clearly, he's got a challenge," he said. "I'm encouraged that he's taken action and I also think it's going to take some time."

A U.S. official familiar with the discussion at Tuesday's meeting was "more collaborative," compared to a similar meeting a month ago when Mullen took a "more firm tone" in warning Kayani that Islamabad was not doing enough to counter militants waging cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's military said in a statement that it was a "prescheduled meeting aimed at discussing security matters at strategic level. The discussion was held in an open and cordial manner."

Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the commanders analyzed the security situation in the region and that no new agreements were struck.

U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity about the meeting ahead of Mullen's press conference said it was not prompted by any recent political or military events, but rather planning for it began during Mullen's previous meeting with Kayani — a month ago in Pakistan.

Political turmoil has worsened in Pakistan — and violence in both Pakistan and Afghanistan — have increased since the last meeting.

Suspected militants bombed a bus carrying police and government officials in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing eight people, as fighting between security forces and extremists flared across the country's tribal belt.

The fresh violence comes days after ex-president Pervez Musharraf, a longtime U.S. ally, resigned as president, triggering a scramble for power that caused the country's ruling coalition to collapse.

Pakistan's five-month-old government initially sought to calm militant violence by holding peace talks. But U.S. officials have been pressing for tougher action against insurgents. Pakistan's army is now fighting insurgents in at least three areas of the northwest and claims to have killed several hundred militants in the recent offensives.

"They are doing more and becoming more effective," one U.S. defense official said privately of the effort. "But there is still a long way to go" in the tribal areas.

The second U.S. official said Pakistanis need to launch a "more concentrated effort."

Modernisation Plans of the Indian Army
By: Gurmeet Kanwal

Despite the army leadership’s best efforts, the ongoing Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) had, till recently, almost completely bypassed the Indian Army. For well over a decade the army’s efforts to modernise had been thwarted due to political neglect and lack of adequate budgetary support. The funds made available for modernisation are extremely limited and a large portion of these funds is surrendered year after year. For Financial Year 2006-07, a sum of Rs 3,000 crore was surrendered as unspent. The fact that 155 mm ammunition for the Bofors howitzer had to be imported from South Africa during the Kargil conflict in 1999 tells its own tale of persistent shortages. Had the conflict not been confined to the 150 km frontage of the Kargil sector, T-72 and 130 mm medium gun ammunition too would have run short and it would have been politically embarrassing for the government as well as the army. In the plains the army would have had to fight with obsolete Vijayant tanks and several other vintage equipment that were unsuitable for combat. However, sustained efforts by Army HQ have now borne fruit and the army’s modernisation drive is once again well underway.

In the prevailing era of strategic uncertainty, while terrorism has become the primary threat, the external and internal threats and challenges faced by India are such that a large army is still required to be maintained. Also, a high degree of preparation and operational readiness is still necessary as conventional war, though improbable, cannot be categorically ruled out. At the same time, heavy capital investments in modern defence equipment are undoubtedly a drain on a developing economy that is ill-equipped to handle the burgeoning defence expenditure. Several eminent analysts have recommended that qualitative upgradation should be accompanied by quantitative downsizing of personnel strength of the army. However, given its responsibilities for border management and the manpower-intensive low intensity conflict that the army is involved in, this is easier said than done.

Future conventional conflict on the Indian s ub-continent will in all probability result from the ongoing low-intensity limited war on the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan or the unresolved territorial and boundary dispute with China and will be predominantly a land conflict. The Indian Army seriously lacks a potent firepower punch, especially in the mountain sector. Precision-guided munitions (PGMs) have still to enter service in numbers large enough to make a real difference. The reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) assets necessary for the optimum exploitation of even the existing firepower assets are grossly inadequate. Automated command and control and decision support systems have been on the drawing boards for several decades but are yet to mature.

In a future conventional war that will be fought under the nuclear shadow, manoeuvre will be extremely limited. This restriction will lead to much greater emphasis being placed on firepower to achieve the laid down military aim. Hence, it is imperative that artillery modernisation is undertaken with alacrity so as to generate firepower asymmetries on the future battlefield. After a long spell of keeping the powder dry, action on modernisation of the Indian artillery is livening up once again. Since January 2008, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued three global tenders for 155mm guns and howitzers for the mountains, the plains and self-propelled guns for the deserts. Summer and winter trials are expected to be held over the next one year and, red tape permitting, contracts may be awarded as early as in the first half of 2010.

Artillery firepower had paved the way for victory during the Kargil conflict. Despite the lessons learnt in Kargil, modernisation of the artillery had continued to lag behind. The last major acquisition of towed gun-howitzers was that of about 400 pieces of 39-calibre 155mm FH-77B howitzers form Bofors of Sweden in the mid-1980s. This gun had proved its mettle in the Kargil conflict. Just when a contract for 120 tracked and 180 wheeled self-propelled (SP) 155mm guns was about to be concluded after years of protracted trials, South African arms manufacturer Denel, a leading contender for the contract, was alleged to have been involved in a corruption scam in an earlier deal for anti-material rifles (AMRs). The other two howitzers in contention, from Soltam of Israel and BAE (Bofors) of Sweden did not meet the laid down criteria according to the COAS and Army HQ recommended fresh trials, setting the programme back at least three to four years. Another key issue was that the howitzers that had been offered were technology demonstration models and not guns that were in actual service with the home country armies.

The probability of the next conventional war breaking out in the mountains is far higher than that of a war in the plains. With this in view, the artillery recently conceptualised a requirement for a light-weight towed howitzer of 155mm calibre for employment in the mountains. Neither the present Bofors howitzer nor its replacement will be capable of operations in the mountains. A light-weight 45-calibre 155mm howitzer weighing less than 5,000 kg, with a light but adequately powered prime mover, is ideal for the mountains. The gun-train should be capable of negotiating sharp road bends without the need to unhook the gun from the prime mover. The two British 45-calibre 155mm howitzers that competed for the US contract for a similar howitzer some years ago – the UFH (Ultra-lightweight Field Howitzer) and the LTH (Light-weight Towed Howitzer) – could be considered for licensed production with transfer of technology.

In January 2008, the MoD floated a Request for Proposal (RfP) for 140 pieces of ultra-light 39 calibre 155mm towed howitzers for use by the Indian Army’s mountain formations and, presumably, by its rapid reaction divisions – as and when these are raised as it will be easy to transport by air. 140 howitzers will be adequate to equip seven medium artillery regiments and will cost approximately Rs 3,000 crore. The RfP has been reportedly issued to UK’s BAE Systems (which now owns Bofors), for the M777 howitzer claimed to be the lightest in the world at under 4,220 kg, and to Singapore Technologies for the Pegasus SLWH.

India has floated a global tender for the purchase of 400 155mm towed artillery guns for the Army, to be followed by indigenous manufacture of another 1,100 howitzers, in a project worth a whopping Rs 8,000 crore. The RFP was issued to eight prospective bidders including BAE, General Dynamics, Nexter (France), Rhinemetall (Germany) and Samsung (South Korea). An RfP has also been issued for 180 wheeled self-propelled guns for around Rs 4,700 crore for employment by mechanised forces in the plains and semi-desert sectors.

Since the Bofors 155mm Howitzer was introduced into service, the indigenously designed and manufactured 105 mm Indian Field Gun (IFG) and its (not so) light version, the Light Field Gun (LFG), have joined the 75/24 Indian Mountain Gun, the 100mm Russian field gun and the 122mm Russian howitzer on the obsolescence list. Approximately 180 pieces of 130mm M46 Russian medium guns have been successfully “up-gunned” to 155mm calibre with ordnance supplied by Soltam of Israel. The new barrel length of 45 calibres has enhanced the range of the gun to about 40 km with extended range ammunition.

A contract for the acquisition of two regiments of the 12-tube, 300mm Smerch multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) system with 90 km range was reported to have been signed with Russia’s Rosoboronexport in early-2006. This will be a major boost for the long-range firepower capabilities of the army. If this weapon system had been available during the Kargil conflict, Pakistan’s brigade HQ and forward airfield at Skardu and other targets deep inside POK could have been hit with impunity. Extended range (ER) rockets are being introduced for the 122 mm Grad MBRL that has been in service for over three decades. The ER rockets will enhance the weapon system’s range from 22 to about 40 km. A Rs 5,000 crore contract has also been signed for the serial production of the Pinaka MBRL weapon system, another DRDO project plagued by time delays and completed with help from Larsen and Toubro and the Tatas.

The modernisation plan of tube artillery alone is likely to cost Rs 13,000 crore. The major acquisitions will be of initial lots of 400 towed howitzers of 155mm calibre, with a barrel length of 52 calibres, costing about Rs 4,000 crore, 140 ultra-light weight 155mm towed howitzers, with a barrel length of 45 calibres, costing Rs 3,000 crore and 180 SP 155mm howitzers costing Rs 5,000 crore. The “Shakti” project for a command and control systems for the artillery, called Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS), has reached the stage of maturity and is now being fielded up to the regimental level.

The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile (Mach 2.8 to 3.0), with a precision strike capability, very high kill energy and range of 290 km, was inducted into the army in July 2007. It is a versatile missile that can be launched from TATRA mobile launchers and silos on land, aircraft and ships and, perhaps in future, also from submarines. Fifty BrahMos missiles are expected to be produced every year. Efforts are underway to further increase its strike range. BrahMos Aerospace has orders worth Rs 3,500 crore from the army and the navy, which has opted for the anti-ship as well as the land attack cruise missile (LACM) versions. These terrain hugging missiles are virtually immune to counter measures due to their high speed and very low radar cross section and are far superior to sub-sonic cruise missiles like Pakistan’s Babur. Chile, Kuwait, Malaysia and South Africa have shown interest in acquiring this missile.

The Indian army is extensively engaged in ongoing internal security (IS) and counter-insurgency operations (CI) and simultaneously needs to prepare itself for a future border conflict that may spill over to a larger conventional war in the plains. In keeping with these twin requirements, Army HQ have apparently decided to upgrade the IS and CI capabilities of infantry battalions as well as enhance their Infantry firepower-mobility-EW (electronic warfare) punch for a possible war in the plains against Pakistan or in the mountains against China. The Army Chief’s modernisation vision is to “adapt to high-end technology, improve night-fighting capability… (and) information technology, information warfare and network centric warfare.”

Despite its large-scale employment on border management and extensive commitments in Internal Security and Counter Insurgency operations, infantry modernisation had been languishing for several decades when the Ministry of Defence (MoD) finally cleared a visionary plan to modernise the army’s infantry battalions by according “in principle” approval in the form of Modification 4B to the war establishment (WE) of a standard infantry battalion in 1998. However, no funds were specially sanctioned for this purpose till the BJP-led NDA government approved the expenditure of Rs 3,500 crore in September 2003. Thereafter, approval had to be sought on file for each new weapon system or piece of equipment on a “case-by-case” basis as has become the norm. It is by now well-known how each such case chronicles the saga of an uphill struggle to get approval first from the MoD, then MoD (Finance) and, finally, the Ministry of Finance (MoF). All this is only possible after the DRDO has first certified that the weapon system or equipment in question cannot be developed and manufactured indigenously and such a certificate is hard to come by.

While 250 Kornet-E anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) with thermal imaging sights have substantially increased the anti-tank capability of infantry battalions, most efforts to modernise the equipment held by infantry and Rashtriya Rifles (RR) units are aimed at enhancing their capability for surveillance and target acquisition at night and boosting their firepower for precise retaliation against infiltrating columns and terrorists holed up in built-up areas. About 200 hand-held BFSRs with practical ranges up to seven to eight km where clear line of sight is available, 2,000 hand-held thermal imaging devices (HHTIs) with ranges up to 2,000 metres for observation at night and stand-alone infra-red, seismic and acoustic sensors with varying capabilities have enabled infantrymen to dominate the Line of Control so completely that infiltration has come down to almost a trickle.

The newly acquired weapons, which complement these surveillance and observation devices, include: 1,500x84 mm rocket launchers, including some disposable ones; 1,000 AMRs (anti-material rifles); 8,000 UBGLs (under-barrel grenade launchers); 4,000 new generation carbines; 300 bullet proof vehicles; and, several hundred accurate sniper rifles. However, the numbers acquired and the ammunition stocks are still inadequate and need to be made up more rapidly. While the INSAS 5.56 mm assault rifles have now been in service for almost 10 years and proved to be effective, the light machine gun (LNG) version is still facing teething problems and the carbine version for close quarter battle has not found favour with the army. New 5.56 mm assault rifles of bull-pup design with an integrated laser range finder and grenade launcher are under development. Efforts are also being made to provide infantry platoons and sections with integrated GPS-based navigation system, secure light-weight walkie-talkie radio sets and better protective gear with a helmet that incorporates a built-in head-up display.

The mechanised infantry is now equipped with the BMP-2 ICV Sarath of which over 1,000 have been built since 1987. A new variant is the 81 mm Carrier Mortar Tracked Vehicle (CMTV) that is based on the chassis of the Sarath ICV and has been indigenously developed to enhance the integral firepower available to mechanised infantry battalions. Other variants include a command post, an ambulance, armoured dozer and engineer and reconnaissance vehicles. Mechanised reconnaissance and support battalions need better surveillance radars, fire-and-forget ATGMs and effective night fighting capability. However, their capabilities can be upgraded on a lower priority compared with infantry battalions that are engaged in border management and IS/CI operations.

The army’s infantry battalions also need their own mini or micro UAVs like Elbit’s Skylark or Rafael’s Skylite, among others, to partly reduce the extent of patrolling necessary in internal security environment and to improve their surveillance capability in conventional conflict. These UAVs should have a range of about 10 to 15 km, should be light-weight (less than 10 kg), hand-launched, carry a single payload, e.g. a daylight video camera or infra-red camera for night operations, and should be inexpensive enough to be dispensable. A mini ground control station should be authorized at battalion HQ for planning and control. Ideally, these should be indigenously designed and developed and locally manufactured.

A new DRDO project, that is reported to be ongoing, aims to equip future soldiers with lightweight force multipliers. Soldiers of the future will have miniaturised communication and GPS systems, small power packs, weapon platforms and smart vests with fibre-optic sensors. The soldiers will also have better and lighter combat fatigues, boots, belts, ammunition pouches, rucksacks and rations in the form of meals-ready-to-eat. Though somewhat akin to the US Army’s Land Warrior programme, the Indian Army programme for modernisation of infantry battalions will result in only incremental changes. However, these would be significant enough to make a difference on the battlefields of the Indian sub-continent. The infantryman’s average combat load is approximately 27 kg, including the 3.06 kg 5.56 mm INSAS assault rifle and its “on weapon” ammunition. If this can be reduced by even a few kg, it will enable the soldier to improve his agility in battle and counter-insurgency operations. Ultimately an infantryman has to be prepared to engage in hand-to-hand combat and agility can make a difference between life and death.

For over 350 infantry battalions, plus about 150 Rashtriya Rifles, Assam Rifles and Territorial Army battalions, these major changes will be extremely costly to implement and will spill over at least 10 to 12 years – that is, if the funds can be found. What is certain is that there is no alternative to making the financial commitment that is necessary to enhance the operational capabilities of the army’s infantry battalions. Without modernising this cutting edge of its sword, the army will soon begin to resemble the armies of India’s lesser neighbours.

The indigenously designed Arjun main battle tank (MBT) has been in the pipeline for over two decades. Though the tank has many good features, it has consistently failed to meet the army’s GSQR for an MBT and orders have been placed for only 124 tanks to be manufactured. The lack of progress on the Arjun MBT had slowed down the pace of armour modernisation. India then signed a deal with Russia to acquire 310 T-90S tanks in the year 2000. Subsequently, India began to assemble these tanks at Avadi. It has recently been reported that in addition to these, India has decided to acquire another 347 T-90S tanks and assemble them within the country.

The first Indian assembled T-90S (Bhishma) rolled off the production line on January 8, 2004. While T-90S Russian tanks have provided new teeth to India’s strike formations in the plains and corrected the imbalance that had resulted from Pakistan’s acquisition of T-80 UD from Ukraine and the Al Khalid tanks jointly designed with China, a large number of T-72 (Ajeya) tanks are still awaiting modernisation. The lack of a suitable fire control system and night fighting capability are major handicaps. As soon as the obsolescent Vijayanta tanks are phased out of service, it will be time to also discard the old T-55s as well as they can no longer be either upgraded or modernised. Armour modernisation is now proceeding apace and can be classified as a success story.

The air defence (AD) of mechanised forces is another area that is crying for attention. The Kvadrat missile system that has been the backbone of AD for strike formations since the early 1970s are now ageing and need urgent replacement. With the DRDO’s indigenous Akash medium-range and Trishul short-range missile projects not making major headway, it is time to start looking at import substitutes. In fact, the assets of Army Air Defence corps of the army are grossly inadequate to provide effective protection against enemy aircraft during war. This young corps requires substantial capital infusion to really come into its own.

Another DRDO project that is way behind schedule is the Nag anti-tank missile system. The antiquated Jonga-mounted SS-11 B1 anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system has been replaced in missile battalions by MILAN shoulder-fired ATGMs. However, a vehicle-mounted missile system like the Nag is definitely necessary for reconnaissance and attrition tasks. The experimental Plan AREN tactical communications system for strike formations needs early replacement. The ability to carry broadband data needs to be enhanced in particular. Even the more recent static communications network called ASCON lacks ISDN capability for the real-time transmission of maps and streaming video.

While some Stentor long-range BFSRs have been in service for over a decade, medium-range radars are still to be acquired. At least about 30 to 40 weapon locating radars (WLRs) are required for effective counter-bombardment, especially in the plains, and only a few have been procured so far. Israeli Searcher-I unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been introduced into service but these are few in number and it will be a long time before these will really make a difference by providing a real-time surveillance capability so that ground forces can initiate action even as a fresh input is received. Only a small number of Searcher – II UAVs, with an upper ceiling that makes them suitable for the mountains, have been acquired.

An automated command and control and decision support system for use by the General Staff is still a far cry and so are supporting systems like the battlefield surveillance system and air space management system. The urgent requirement of real-time satellite reconnaissance systems has still not been accepted despite the nuclear overhang under which the armed forces now operate. Even though the cameras on India’s remote sensing and cartographic satellites now have sharply enhanced resolutions, less than one metre, military-grade photographs of still better resolution are needed to be purchased from the open market. These sources may dry up quickly during war.

A “system of systems” approach must be followed so that scarce RSTA and communications resources can be synergistically configured and optimally exploited. The war in Iraq fought in March-April 2003 was based on the concept of “network-centric warfare” in which surveillance sensors, targeting systems and “shooters” are fused together in a seamless “system of systems” that reduced response time between the acquisition of a target and its destruction to 15 to 20 minutes. While such a system may take over a decade to establish, a beginning must be made right away.

PGMs are increasingly gaining currency as weapons of choice in conflict on land, both to accurately destroy critical hard targets quickly as well as to avoid or at least minimise collateral damage. During the Gulf War I in 1991, despite all the CNN-generated hype of smart bombs flying unerringly through ventilators, PGMs formed less than 10 percent of the total high explosive dropped over Iraq and were rather inaccurate. The “collateral” destruction of an air raid shelter harbouring women and children has been too well documented to bear recounting. The coalition forces did not destroy a single Iraqi Scud missile launcher. In Kosovo, PGMs accounted for about 30 per cent of the ordnance dropped and accuracies had improved considerably by 1999. In the post-September 11, 2001 retribution inflicted on the Taliban militia and its al Qaeda supporters in Afghanistan, the share of PGMs had risen to nearly 60 percent. In Gulf War II in Iraq, the ratio of PGMs went up to nearly 70 per cent. The Indian artillery does not have any PGMs worth the name. Only limited quantities of the Russian Krasnopol PGM have been imported for the Bofors 155 mm howitzer. Among others, the Bofors Bonus PGM is a suitable candidate, subject to successful trials in the deserts and the mountains.

Finally, the approach to army modernisation must be more focused; the priorities must be clearly established and then adhered to. The government must give a firm commitment in terms of funds and the Ministry of Defence must streamline its procedures and processes for speedy procurement of high priority weapons and equipment. It is time to institute a rolling, non-lapsable defence modernisation fund of Rs. 25,000 crores as a viable method of ensuring that defence procurement is not subjected to the vagaries of annual budgets. The present situation is disturbing and, if allowed to go on indefinitely, will seriously compromise the army’s preparedness to fight the next border war that inimical neighbours like Pakistan can be expected to thrust on India.—(ADNI)

(The writer is Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi.)

A strategic wishlist

This one is obviously from the US military, specifically the US Army War College. It is this year’s Key Strategic Issues List (pdf) which, is a call for academic research on key strategic questions. It is a sneak peak into the problems the US Army is looking to solve now. This is 171 pages long… only of research topics, 171 pages! Phew!

Some topics culled from that voluminous list are:

  • Balancing U.S. security interests between India and Pakistan
  • Role of India in world events and U.S.-Indian military-strategic relations
  • Assessing the gap between civilian and military cultures
  • Women in combat: laws and norms
  • What proportion of U.S. land power should be focused on counterinsurgency operations and how should it be organized, trained, equipped, and deployed?
  • Integrating military and nonmilitary tools to achieve strategic objectives and avoid or resolve potential conflict
  • Strategic implications of Chinese activity in Africa

Forget an equal volume of in-depth research on such topics in India. Has anyone even prepared such a list of topics that ought to interest the Indian defence services?

Real pathbreaking research should ideally tell us what no one knows but is true nonetheless. Whereas, the commonly produced research on matters of national defence at quasi-government research bodies was rightly labelled by a very dear friend as “repetitive, simplistic, and insulting” and “produced on the cheap”.

Knowledge is power. Always has been, always will be. Has anyone ever written a pithy aphorism about the advantages of wilful ignorance? None of us have ever found one, and we all know why…

When will the services acknowledge this simple truism?

Government Urges Private Sector to Invest in Defense Research, Development

Dated 27/8/2008

Indian industry will have to step up investments in R&D in order to meet the requirements of the country's armed forces, defence minister AK Antony said here. These investments, the minister said, are necessary for companies to enhance their technological capabilities.

''Indian industry has to improve its technological capability so as to become suppliers of complete systems rather than just being suppliers of raw materials and components,'' he said at the INDAIR 2008 seminar. The two-day seminar, ''A strategic partnering of Indian Air Force and industry on modernisation and indigenisation,'' was held in New Delhi, and was jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The failure of defence production units to adhere to time schedules, Antony said, was affecting the government's initiatives towards indigenisation and up-gradation of the defence forces. He also said that the recently announced Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) was an opportunity for the Indian industry to become an active partner in the modernization of the defence forces. In his address, the minister of state for defence production, Rao Inderjit Singh, conceded that the IAF inventory was decades-old and had to be speedily upgraded.

''While earlier, one could say that the modernisation process was hindered by the lack of funds, this was not the case today. It is for the industry to step forward and take up the challenge,'' he noted and expressed optimism that Indian industry could become an active systems integrator for the defence forces. He said industry should actively join hands with defence public sector undertakings. Earlier, delivering the keynote address, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal FH Major said the force was on the threshold of a major transformation. Ruing the fact that 70 per cent of the IAF's equipment needs were still met by foreign companies, he said it was important that this be reversed, ''if we are to meet our goal of strategic self-reliance''.
''The emerging service requirements, the economic environment and government policies have created a great opportunity for the industry.'' the air chief said, adding: ''If we succeed in establishing a firm foundation today, our aerospace capability would jump a generation ahead.'' Accepting that it was difficult for industry to achieve core competencies in all spheres, Major urged Indian companies to identify emerging technologies and concentrate on developing them.

In his welcome address, Atul C Kirloskar, chairman of the CII national committee on defence and chairman and managing director, Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd, said while the new DPP was a favourable move for Indian industry to partner in the production and maintenance of defence weapon systems, the delay in the notification of the'''Raksha Udyog Ratnas'' was an ''opportunity lost''.
Air Marshal Gautam Nayyar, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, maintenance command, told the participants that industry must keep in mind the IAF's stringent quality requirements and assured it of full support in evolving such standards. He suggested collaboration between private industry and the defence research laboratories in this regard, and expressed confidence that opportunities for Indian industry would grow as the defence forces became more transparent about their projects.
The two-day seminar addressed issues like perspectives and procedures of indigenisation and modernisation; indigenisation process for airborne spares; modernisation of industrial facilities and production infrastructure; and material handling, transportation and warehousing, among others.


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