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Thursday, 14 August 2008

From Today's Papers - 14 Aug


Cabinet approves Sixth Pay Commission report
NDTV Correspondent
Thursday, August 14, 2008, (New Delhi)
As the country gets ready to celebrate Independence Day, there's very good news for bureaucrats and military personnel.
A pay hike over and above what was suggested in April has been cleared by the Union Cabinet.
More than 5 million central government employees will get an average salary hike of 21per cent.
The minimum basic pay will now be Rs 7000 and the lowest emolument of government employee more than Rs 10,000.
In all it will cost the tax payer 22 thousand crore rupees, about 4 thousand crores more.
And the hike will be effective from January 2006 which means government employees will get a large chunk of arrears, incidentally just ahead of elections.
The employees will get 40 per cent of the hike this year and the rest 60 per cent the next year.
The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will announce details during his Independence Day speech.

What's the hike for defence forces
NDTV Correspondent
Thursday, August 14, 2008, (New Delhi)
Most of the demands of the Armed Forces and paramilitary personnel have been met.
# Military service pay for jawans has been hiked from Rs 1000 to Rs 2000
# Middle level officers like Colonels placed in higher pay bands
# Disability pension of those wounded in action has been increased
# Demands for parity for Director Generals of central paramilitary forces has also been met

Cabinet approval: Highlights

  • Pay revision comes into effect from January 1, 2006
  • Minimum entry-level pay raised to Rs 7,000 from Rs 6,660 per month
  • Arrears to be paid in two installments -- 40 per cent this fiscal and 60 per cent in the next financial year
  • Average increase in pay 21 per cent, says Expenditure Secretary Sushma Nath
  • Financial implication of Pay Commission on General Budget Rs 15,700 crore; Rs 6400 crore on Railway Budget in 2008-09.

  • Salary hike proposals on PM’s podium

    New Delhi, Aug. 13: The recommendations of the sixth pay commission are expected to be taken up by the cabinet tomorrow for clearance.

    Officials said the recommendations, which propose an increase in salaries in the civil services and the armed forces, might be formally announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Independence Day if the cabinet clears them tomorrow.

    The Prime Minister held a closed-door meeting with his senior cabinet colleagues today on the pay commission recommendations. The meeting was attended by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, defence minister A.K. Antony and finance minister P. Chidambaram.

    The cabinet, the sources said, is likely to give an additional pay hike of 12 per cent to central government employees and 15 per cent to the armed forces. This will be in addition to the 40 per cent increase recommended by the pay commission on May 24. However, the effective recommended hike comes down to around 25 per cent after taxes.

    Considering that arrears will add to the burden of the government, the cabinet could implement the recommendations from January 2007, instead of 2006 as recommended by the commission, the sources said. The finance ministry also favours implementation from 2007.

    The sources said the government could pass on the arrears to employees in two or three instalments and park at least 50 per cent of the amount in social security instruments such as the provident fund.

    The cabinet could also consider doubling the special pay for jawans posted on the frontier to Rs 2,000 a month.

    The government had constituted a committee of secretaries headed by cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar to review the report of the pay commission. It had also set up a panel headed by finance secretary D. Subbarao to look into the grievances of the armed forces and IPS officers.

    A senior official in the defence ministry said a note had been prepared and sent to the cabinet secretariat, seeking an improvement on the recommendations of the sixth pay commission.

    The armed force had asked the Centre for a hike of 2.5 times the current salaries. The proposals were initially presented by the chiefs of the armed forces to the defence secretary.

    The armed forces have also asked for an additional military hardship allowance of 50 per cent of enhanced pay for officers and 60 per cent of enhanced pay for personnel below officer rank. They have also disagreed with the pay commission’s proposal to categorise all officers in two pay bands.

    There are about 14 lakh uniformed personnel in the armed forces — about 33 per cent of the total central government staff. The central police services, with nearly 7 lakh personnel, have also demanded an improvement over the proposals of the pay commission.

    Sixth Pay Commission report to be put up for approval

    The report of the Sixth Pay Commission is likely to be put up for approval of the Cabinet on Thursday, official sources said here today.

    The report is part of the agenda for discussions being held today at the Prime Minister's Office. Sources added that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may announce the higher wages for central government employees during his Independence day speech on August 15.

    The Sixth Pay Commission has recommended an effective 28 per cent hike in wages of central government employees.

    Keep off J&K, India to Pak

    Ashok Tuteja

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, August 13

    The war of words between India and Pakistan over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir intensified today with New Delhi blasting Islamabad for indulging in rhetoric and allegations that were factually incorrect and divorced from reality.

    “To call for international involvement in the sovereign internal affairs of India is gratuitous, illegal and only reflects reversion to a mindset that has led to no good consequences for Pakistan in the past,” an external affairs ministry spokesperson said in a strongly worded statement.

    The statement said it was not too late for Pakistani leaders and spokesmen to desist from the course of action that they had recently embarked upon and New Delhi would urge them to do so forthwith.

    “We are witnessing a recurrence of Pakistani rhetoric and allegations that are factually wrong and that bear no relationship to reality.”

    Pak to take up issue at UN

    Islamabad: Pakistan on Wednesday urged the international community, particularly the UN, the OIC and human rights organisations to take notice of “grave human rights violations” in Jammu and Kashmir. ''Pakistan has set in motion the process to raise the issue at various levels in the wake of the brutal killings in Kashmir.”

    United Nations: The United Nations is monitoring the situation in Kashmir but doesn’t have any "extensive comment" to make at this stage, a spokesman for the world body said today. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “is also aware of the situation but I don't have anything further to say at present," he added.

    Congo Shame: Antony orders probe
    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, August 13
    Union defence minister A.K. Antony today took a serious view of the accusation against Indian Army personnel for having allegedly indulged in sexual exploitation and abuse during their stint as peacekeepers in Congo, Africa, and ordered an inquiry.

    Antony’s statement said a United Nations (UN) probe had revealed that there was evidence that some of the Indian peacekeepers, previously assigned to duties at the units of the UN mission in Congo, may have engaged in sexual exploitation and abuse.

    These peacekeepers were assigned to the United Nations Organisation mission in Congo. The UN internal oversight services conducted an enquiry and informed the Indian authorities about the same.

    The UN information centre here quoted a spokesperson for the secretary general as saying that he was deeply troubled over the outcome of the inquiry and reiterated in the strongest possible terms that such behaviour, if substantiated, was unacceptable. Disciplinary action to the maximum degree permitted by the Indian law should be taken as soon as possible against those found to be involved in such misconduct, he said. The Indian government has assured the UN that the allegations would be promptly and thoroughly investigated and, if proven, strict and exemplary action would be taken as per the law.

    UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon had, however, appreciated India’s long-standing and valuable support for the UN peacekeeping. He expressed his respect for all those peacekeepers from India and other troop-contributing countries and stressed that the misconduct of a few should not diminish the enormous contribution and sacrifice of the large number of ‘blue helmets’ who served the cause of peace.

    The UN has imposed a zero-tolerance policy against sexual abuse and exploitation by its peacekeepers and senior officials have reiterated in recent years that this means there is no impunity for blue helmets who engage in such practices.

    Meanwhile, Army sources said the vice chief of Army staff, during his visit to the Indian Brigade in Congo in the last week of May, had directed an internal inquiry be carried out by Brig Inderjeet Narayan, the Commander there, to examine the allegations and identify defaulters, if any. The inquiry is under judicial scrutiny and strict disciplinary action would be taken, if any individual be found guilty.

    Pak militants backing Al-Qaida: US

    Press Trust of India

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008 (Washington)

    Pakistani militant groups, most of whom previously focused on attacking Kashmir, have increased their collaboration with Al-Qaida, providing safe haven to its fighters and supporting its operations against the West, a top US intelligence official has warned.

    "Since early 2006, Pakistani militant groups have increased their collaboration with Al-Qaida. This includes ethnic Pashtun groups native to the tribal areas and groups from eastern Pakistan, most of whom previously focused on attacking Kashmir in India," said Ted Gistaro, National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence

    "While a major focus of these groups is conducting attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan, they provide safe haven to Al-Qaida fighters, collaborate on attacks inside Pakistan, and support Al-Qaida's external operations, including against the West," the officer said at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    The new assessment is seen as an update from a National Intelligence Estimate issued a year ago, which said Al-Qaida was seeking to deploy agents trained to carry out operations in the West.

    "Al-Qaida is identifying, training and positioning operatives for attacks in the West, including in the US. These operatives include North American and European citizens and legal residents with passports that allow them to travel to the United States without an American visa," Gistaro said.

    However, he said they were not aware of any specific, credible Al-Qaida plot to attack the US homeland. But they do receive a steady stream of threat reporting from sources of varying creditability.

    Caught in a catch-22 situation
    Pak Army faces tricky challenges
    by Gen V. P. Malik

    THE Pakistan Army’s summary reversal of the government’s notification placing control of the ISI under the Interior Ministry did not go well abroad as well as within Pakistan. The US, while welcoming Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to Washington, had let the world know of the ISI support to the Taliban and others responsible for the July 7 bomb blast at the Indian Embassy in Kabul. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has often accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban. He has termed the ISI as the “world’s biggest terrorists”. India’s National Security Adviser, not known for any adverse comment on the India-Pakistan security relations, has also accused the ISI of the embassy attack.

    The ISI’s involvement in toppling democratically elected governments, rigging elections, autonomous handling of foreign relations, vigilantism, picking up people and making them disappear have tarnished its own image and that of the Pakistan Army. Shuja Nawaz, in his book Crossed Swords, writes of a sworn affidavit filed by Pakistan’s Defence Secretary in a High Court confirming that “his ministry had no operational control over the two rogue agencies (ISI and ISPR) and, therefore, he was unable to enforce the court’s orders on either agency in matters relating to detentions”.

    But the ISI is not the only challenge facing the Pakistan Army. It faces some more serious strategic, operational and credibility issues. After nine long years of command, General Musharraf had handed over a thorny baton of the Chief to his successor, Gen Ashfaque Kiyani!

    Pakistan has always been concerned with the non-acceptance of the Durand Line by Afghanistan along its Western border. From time to time, Afghanistan has claimed the Pashtun areas of Pakistan, exacerbating Pakistan's security concern. Although the Pakistan Army does not fear any outright attack from the much weaker Afghan military, any Indian footprint in Afghanistan creates unrest among Pakistani military planners fearing the prospect of a two-front war.

    For long, they have followed the “strategic depth” policy to be able to use influence and space in Afghanistan to overcome Pakistan’s geostrategic disadvantages vis-a-vis India. The continuing support to the resurgent Taliban and covert ISI operations show that the Pakistan Army is still determined to convert Afghanistan into a client state for “strategic depth”. In the post-Cold War and 9/11 geopolitical environment, when it is no longer possible to redraw national boundaries with or without a conflict, the extension of “strategic depth” into Afghanistan makes no sense. Such a strategy not only causes antagonism and regional tension but also inhibits Pakistan from extending trade, commerce and culture to its western neighbours and beyond.

    Pakistan’s military planners fail to realise that after 9/11, no one in the world is willing to accept the Taliban’s influence or wishes to see the Karzai government destabilised. The US and NATO forces cannot withdraw from Afghanistan without tangible results. For them, it is a question of their homeland’s security. The Americans lost 28 soldiers in June; the largest number in any one month since 2001. Since then Pakistan is under tremendous pressure to deal decisively with jihadis living across the 1,350-mile-long porous and rugged Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

    Linked to the Pakistan policy on Afghanistan is the challenge of the rising tide of radical Islamic militancy in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the NWFP which threatens to tear the country asunder. The lawless FATA, an insurgent haven, is perceived not just as a national but a global threat. The Frontier Constabulary and the Frontier Corps, staffed by tribesmen from FATA have often surrendered rather than fight their fellow tribals involved in militancy. The casualties have been mounting due to an increase in the number and intensity of militants’ attacks on Army and para-military units that are ill-equipped and untrained for a low-intensity conflict.

    The Pakistan Army has considerable experience in inducing terrorism and insurgency in other countries, but it has little experience in combating insurgents in its own country. This is obvious from the manner in which it has been handling the situation in Waziristan. Its policy of appeasement, striking deals and peace agreements with militants in return for “no attacks on government forces and installations” and “aerial assaults” shows a lack of will, experience and improper multi-disciplinary doctrine for such operations.

    The Army is in a Catch-22 situation. Peace negotiations with militants in the present operational situation implies the following: One, socio-political fundamentalists’ influence gets encouraged and may increase eastward. Two, there can be greater international pressure. Three, the damage to Pakistan’s moderate Islamic image is bound to be caused.

    If the Army fights them seriously, then more and more Army units get sucked into this mission, resulting in the dilution of the military posture on the eastern border. In such a situation, the Army will be perceived as fighting at Washington’s behest, and there can be possible alienation of the political/tribal leaders of FATA and the NWFP.

    From a broader strategic cultural viewpoint, the Army continues to believe that Pakistan must be physically and ideologically protected from India’s influence. It neither accepts India’s geo-strategic advantages nor the fact that for regional security, India believes in Pakistan’s social, political and economic stability. According to Pakistani strategic analyst Ayesha Siddiqa, “Pakistan has never ventured to extend its security vision beyond India”.

    The latest revival of the “bleed India, especially in J & K” policy along the LoC and in other parts of India may also be linked to the overall strategic insecurity. But there is a flip side here, too, of causing a setback to the confidence building achieved during the last three-four years and threatening to derail the India-Pakistan peace process, as warned by Dr Manmohan Singh on August 2 in Colombo. There will also be disappointment among people on both sides of the border, particularly in J & K, who support the ceasefire on the LoC and further dialogue.

    The other challenges before the Pakistan Army are of its vested interests and institutional credibility. Criticism of the military, once rare, is now becoming widespread and well informed. General Musharraf’s initiative in Kargil without political approval became Pakistan’s Waterloo from the politico-military-diplomatic viewpoint. The demand to institute a public enquiry continues to be strong in civil society. Recently, Ayesha Siddiqa revealed a huge financial empire and vested interest of the Pakistan Army in her book, Military Inc. She estimates that Pakistan’s military-industrial complex is worth around $20.7 billion, covering hotels, malls, insurance companies, banks, farms, industrial units and 12 per cent of the state-owned land.

    Military Inc analyses the internal and external dynamics of this gradual power building and the impact it has on Pakistan's political and economic development. The challenge for the Army is to make it publicly transparent in terms of financial reporting and in creating a distance between such operations and the military high command.

    General Kiyani also has to cleanse the Army of fundamentalists and those who maintain organic links with the jihadis. As the “Zia bharti” (those who joined during General Zia’s time and are considered conservative and fostering religious ideology and dogmas) officers and men gain seniority, more and more soldiers may become vulnerable to the influence of fundamentalist outfits and their ethos.

    Pakistan’s “strategic enclave” is dominated by the military with the support of professional bureaucrats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This group, like most bureaucracies, is slow to admit mistakes, remains resistant to alternative world-views, and tends to lean on organisational preferences when faced with new situations. The new political set-up is too weak to influence the antiquated, narrow and shortsighted outlook and agendas like the “strategic depth” idea and the use of Islamic groups in Afghanistan and India. There is nothing to suggest that the “strategic enclave” has the vision, will or inclination to change the course that the Pakistan Army has adopted since the days of General Zia.

    The writer, a former Chief of Army Staff, is associated with the Observer Research Foundation. New Delhi.

    December date for second Indo-China military drill

    New Delhi (PTI): Building on the goodwill generated in last year's ground-breaking military drill, Indian and Chinese armies are likely to hold their second joint exercise in December on Indian soil to enhance the steadily improving ties between the two powerful militaries of the world.

    A high-level Chinese military delegation will visit New Delhi later this month to finalise details of the joint exercise which officials say will be much "bigger" this year.

    "The second joint military exercise between People's Liberation Army (PLA) and Indian Army is likely to be held in December," a top Chinese diplomat told PTI.

    "A Chinese delegation will be in New Delhi after the Olympic Games to finalise dates and other details of the exercise," he said.

    Asked about preparations of the PLA, he said they are looking forward to participate in the joint exercise as it will help enhancing ties between the two armies.

    In a sign of warmer ties, India and China conducted their first ever joint exercise code-named 'Hand-in-Hand 2007' at Kunming Military Academy and in a hilly terrain near Kunming in China's Yunnan province from December 21 to 25 last year with the spotlight on anti-terrorism drill.

    As many as 103 troops from the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and an equal number from People's Liberation Army took part in the landmark exercise as part of confidence-building measures that upgraded the Sino-Indian military ties.

    An official in the Defence Ministry said the "details of the exercise are being worked out" for this year's exercise which will take ties between the two largest armies to a "new high".

    Pinaka’ successfully tested
    Thursday August 14 2008 04:29 IST

    Hemant Kumar Rout I ENS

    BALASORE: The improved version of the indigenously built multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) ‘Pinaka’ was successfully test-fired from the defence base at Chandipur-on-Sea. The test was conducted jointly by the defence scientists and the Indian Army.
    Defence sources said, around six rounds of Pinaka rocket were fired from the launcher kept inside the proof and experimental establishment (PXE), a part of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
    "The tests were carried out between 12 noon and 2.30 pm. While the first round was tested at about 12.14 pm, the last was conducted at 2.10 pm. One rocket was used in each round," said PXE director Major Gen Anup Malhotra.
    The tests termed as sample tests were aimed to assess their stability in flight as well as accuracy and consistency. Though the system can fire rockets with a range of 39-40 km, but on Wednesday it was used for 26 km.
    "All the rounds yielded desired results. The Pinaka MBRL, capable of acting as a force-multiplier, can gradually replace the current artillery system," he added.

    The Indian Army's growth as the nation's anchor(Article)
    New Delhi, Aug.13 (ANI): August 15 is an occasion for stock taking. The nation looks back at its achievements, mistakes and looks forward to the tasks ahead on Independence Day.

    It is an appropriate occasion to look at the country's Armed Forces, how they have grown and looked after the defence of thcountry, and how they are preparing themselves for the challenges ahead.
    The Army, in particular, has a long history.
    Very few in the country are aware of the origin and growth of the Indian Army It has grown from a force of sepoys that served the East India Company from 1600. The traders of the Company employed them to protect their establishments. By the end of the Century they acquired the island of Bombay, Fort St. George at Madras and Fort William at Calcutta.
    The forces were reconstituted as the Presidency Armies of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. In 1748, they were amalgamated under Major Stringer Lawrence who became the commander-in-chief of all the Company's forces in India. Soon the Presidency Armies were reorganized with the induction of British Officers. The sepoys continued to help their masters to extend their territory in different regions of India.
    The major challenge that the East India Company faced was in 1857, during the first War of Independence or the 'Sepoy Mutiny'. For the first time the sepoys became conscious that they belonged to one country. The British succeeded in putting down the rebellion. Those who rebelled were disbanded and the rest were brought under the British Crown.

    The East India Company was abolished and Queen Victoria took over the rule of territories in India. A Viceroy was appointed in India. British officers were given the Queen's Commission, and the Indians the Viceroy's Commission, later known as Junior Commissioned Officers. .
    The Army participated in various campaigns in Africa, the Middle East, Tibet and other parts of the world. A major challenge presented itself during the First World War. The British Indian Army fought in various theatres of war in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
    According to official figures, 36,596 Indian soldiers died during World War I and 70,000 were wounded. They won 16 Victoria Crosses and 90 Military Crosses. The fighting qualities of the Indian Army was accepted the world over.
    More important, the soldiers from different parts of India fought together as 'Indians".
    Following demands from Indian leaders, the British agreed to Indianise selected units of the Indian Army and also induct Indians in the officer ranks. To start with 20 seats were reserved for Indians at the Military College in Sandhurst. Those who passed out became King's Commissioned Indian Officers.
    The demand for Indianisation of the officer cadre Army was taken up by Indian leaders, particularly, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Madan Mohan Malaviya and Motilal Nehru It was agreed to establish the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun in 1932 and in 1934 the first batch of Indians was commissioned.
    When the Second World War broke out in 1939, national leaders were not in favour of Indians participating, but the British went ahead. Army units were inducted in all theatres of war. The number of Indians enrolled in the Army in September 1945 was 2, 647, 017 and they fought in different theatres in Libya, Tunisia, Italy, Iraq and in the jungles of Burma, Malaya and the Far East.
    The Second World War also proved the ability of the Indian Officers to lead in operations and forged a link between them and their soldiers. A strong sense of patriotism gathered momentum with the formation of the Indian National Army, led by Subash Chandra Bose.
    When the British decided to leave India after the country was partitioned, the Army too was divided between India and Pakistan. The Indian Army had to face challenges in maintaining law and order and evacuate refugees.
    The tasks mostly fell on the Indian Officers. The British officers were keen on returning to England and the Indian officers were given the option of going to Pakistan if they chose. The first batch of British Officers left for England on August 7, 1947 and the last batch in February 1948.
    The role played by the Indian Army during the difficult days of Partition earned the confidence, even the gratitude of the nation.
    In the midst of managing the refugee evacuation, the India Army had to rush to Jammu and Kashmir following the invasion of the State by Pakistan, ostensibly by tribals. The Jammu and Kashmir state forces were unable to fight the invaders and asked for Indian assistance. On the State acceding to India, the first contingent of the Indian Army was flown to Srinagar on October 27.
    The Indian Officers led by the then Lieutenant General K.M. Cariappa, who took over as the GOC-n-C, Western Command on January 26, 1948, were able to frustrate the attempt of Pakistan to annex Jammu and Kashmir. They even had to confront obstacles put in their way by the remnants of British officers in the Indian Army. By the end of 1948, the Srinagar Division led by Maj.-Gen. K.S. Thimayya and the Jammu Division led by Maj. Gen. Atma Singh were in a position to clear the State of invaders both in the Muzaffarabad and Poonch- Rajouri sectors
    General Thimayya also had the unique distinction of taking tanks atop the Zoji-la where Pakistani forces had established themselves. After clearing the area, the Army was in a position to move to Dras and Kargil. The Indian Air Force flew the Army contingent to Leh, which led to the securing of Ladakh
    The story would have been different if a cease-fire had not come into force - and that too as per the complaint lodged in the United Nations by India.
    The Indian Army also played a notable role in the consolidation of the country. The challenge posed by the Nizam of Hyderabad was cleared by police action in September 1949. The Indian Army entered the State on September 13, and in a matter of four days the Razakars had melted away and the State joined the Indian Union. The liberation of Goa had to wait for over a decade. .
    During the six decades after Independence, the Indian Army has had to face many challenges. The first major challenge was the Chinese invasion in 1962. The Government of India had brushed aside the view of the Army headed by General K.S. Thimayya, that the Chinese posed a threat to India. The reverses suffered during the war demoralized the Army.
    The northern border continues to be sensitive, the border dispute with China has not been resolved, and India is continuing its talks with China.
    Pakistan invaded India in 1965 first by carrying out a trial run in Kutch, following it up with another version of 'tribal infiltration' in 1965. The war that followed saw the Indian Army in occupation of parts of Pakistan, but India vacated them following a peace agreement concluded in Tashkent.
    Another war with Pakistan followed after the crackdown by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan in 1971 and arrival in India of over a million refugees. India won a decisive victory and 93,000 soldiers of the Pakistan Army surrendered after a brief 12-day war.
    Pakistan has continued to maintain an adversarial relationship with India. It promoted a low-intensity conflict in Punjab in the eighties but failed. The next target was Jammu and Kashmir where it promoted insurgency in the late eighties. The Army had to fight the proxy war, which commenced in 1989. Jammu and Kashmir has not yet recovered fully even to this day.
    Having failed in the proxy-war, an attempt was made by Pakistan to cut off Kargil and Ladakh in 1999 by occupying the heights in Dras along the Srinagar -Leh highway, ostensibly by Jehadis. In the operations that followed it was proved that units of the Northern Light Infantry were deployed. Pakistan Army had to vacate the posts.
    The Army continues to maintain vigil both along the Line of Control and in sensitive areas of Jammu and Kashmir. The expectation is that it will have to continue to shoulder this responsibility for the foreseeable future.
    India's adversaries are using terrorism as a weapon to weaken the country. Will the Army be involved in fighting terrorism?
    Over the years the character of the Army has changed. Today, the officers belong to all parts of the country and not from chosen families alone. The Army cantonments, which used to be isolated areas, as the colonial power wanted those in uniform to be away from the civilian population, are now virtually integrated with the rest of the country.
    Today the Armed Forces of India have been modernized and the process of modernization is continuing. The Army, Navy and the Air Force are functioning in a coordinated manner and an integrated headquarters is in position in the Ministry of Defence. The effort is to ensure that the Armed Forces will have the weapons and equipment necessary to face the tasks ahead of them
    The Army has displayed unity in diversity, faced all challenges and come out successful, be it a war or a proxy war. Tomorrow it may have to face the challenge of terrorism. y I.Ramamohan Rao (ANI)

    Fifth Generation Indo-Russian Fighter by 2017:
    IAF Chief

    By Ritu Sharma

    New Delhi
    The fifth generation Indo-Russian fighter aircraft will be ready for induction by 2017, says Air Chief Marshal Fali H. Major, while pointing out that the Indian Air Force's (IAF) squadron strength has grown after plummeting to an all-time low.
    "An inter governmental agreement (IGA) between India and Russia has been signed for the co-development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft and the induction into the IAF is expected to start from 2017 onwards," Major told IANS in an exclusive interview.
    The fifth generation combat aircraft will be in addition to the 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) that the IAF is set to acquire.
    The IAF chief outlined plans to increase the combat strength and strategic reach of the IAF. He said the number of squadrons in the 75-year-old IAF had seen an increase after hitting a low of 29.
    "Every air force goes through this phase (of depleting squadrons). Long gestation periods for acquiring equipment and aircraft also add to the situation. However, the number of squadrons have marked an increase from 29 (a couple of years ago) to 33.5 squadrons," said Major.
    The sanctioned strength for the IAF - the world's fourth largest air force - is 39.5 squadrons.
    Major, who was appointed IAF chief on March 31, 2007, expressed the hope that various acquisitions would be fast-tracked with the new Defence Procurement Procedures-2008 (DPP-2008) in place.
    The IAF chief stressed that it plans to acquire equipment and develop capability to change the profile of the organisation and meet the challenge of depleting squadrons. The IAF has begun training its personnel and developing doctrines for strategic and operational deployment.
    "To be able to protect far-flung areas, the IAF needs to be capable of 'strategic reach'. The Sukhoi-30 MKI procurement is on fast track to replace phased-out fleets. The induction of the MMRCA and LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) would partially bring up the force levels," Major said.
    He himself has the distinction of having 7,765 hours of flying experience and commanding a helicopter unit that took part in operations in Siachen - the world's highest battlefield - and an MI-17 squadron during the Indian Peace Keeping Force operations in Sri Lanka.
    The IAF chief expressed satisfaction over Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) projects, including the LCA-Tejas. LCA, India's second indigenous aircraft, has been under development in Bangalore for the last couple of decades.
    There were demands for more powerful engines for the LCA on the grounds that the General Electric engines would not be able to provide adequate thrust to the aircraft.
    But Major said: "The LCA project is shaping up well and the LCA may be ready for induction by 2011."
    IAF is also working on the modernisation and upgradation of its transport and helicopter fleets.
    "IAF proposes to procure 80 medium lift helicopters from Rosoboron Export, Russia, to raise six new helicopter units and the deliveries are expected to be completed by 2013.
    "IAF is also processing a case for procurement of 22 attack helicopters for which bids will be submitted by September," Major elaborated.
    The IAF has signed contracts for 38 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH)-Dhruv and 16 armed ALH. It is also in the process of procuring fully equipped light utility helicopters to replace the Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.
    To increase its reach, the IAF has acquired air-to-air refuellers and plans to acquire more.
    "The airlift capability of IAF is being enhanced and we are in the process of inducting the C-130J Hercules for special operations and developing with medium transport aircraft in collaboration with Russia," Major added

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