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Thursday, 21 August 2008

From Today's Papers - 21 Aug

















IAF Short of 400 Pilots: Air chief
By Ritu Sharma

New Delhi
The Indian Air Force (IAF) faces a shortage of 400 pilots and it will take five years to plug the gap, says its chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major.
It takes 6-8 years of operational training before an IAF pilot can be fully utilized in his intended role.
"They have to be trained over a period of time and there are not shortcuts. We are short of about 400 pilots but with the measures we are taking, we will make good the shortage in the next five years," the chief of the air staff told IANS in an interview.
Overall, the IAF is short of about 800 officers.
According to Major, the IAF was working on a two-pronged strategy to reduce the shortage. "The IAF has addressed the issue with emphasis on two aspects - 'retain' and 'attract'. We are carrying out a focused publicity campaign to attract the best to our fold.
"Whilst we cannot match the salaries of the private sector, we compensate by offering a challenging and fulfilling profession with an unequalled quality of life," Major said.
The IAF chief said plans are afoot to increase the intake of men and women into the Short Service cadre as it would be an attractive option for youth while meeting the organisation's needs. Short Service cadre officers are appointed for 10 years, which can be extended by another four years depending on one's performance.
"We are seeking to improve promotion avenues by the implementation of the Ajay Vikram Singh Committee (AVSC) recommendations," the IAF chief told IANS.
The Singh committee on defence reforms, in the second part of its recommendations, had suggested that the number of posts be increased for operational reasons.
As per the recommendations the IAF is expected get 70 more posts of Air Marshal (existing 22), 32 more posts of Air Vice Marshal (47), 158 additional posts of Air Commodore (131) and 592 more posts of Group Captain (476).
The number of officers seeking premature retirement also adds to the shortage of officers in the IAF. According to the highly placed sources in the IAF, more than 160 officers are annually permitted to opt for early retirement.
"The number of officers leaving the IAF prematurely has reached the levels it was around six years ago. We are not holding people back just for the sake of it," a senior IAF officer said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
"A large batch of amateurish people cannot compensate a group of trained people as it takes time to train a person to the level required operationally," the officer added.

War on terrorism is breeding more violence

No war on terror will succeed unless a part of world stops depriving others of their due and deserving share of peace, dignity and resource. Any polarisation in this connection will bring about more and more outfits in the future.

YES, TERRORISM has killed huge number of innocents around the world, and it goes on unabated even after we have adopted the most euphemistic international initiative, war on terror, to counter this menace. We started calling it war on terror when we lost the World Trade Center (WTC) twin towers and hundreds of innocents. The whole world, which had been suffering from the damages of terrorism for ages, had to see the fall of twin towers in order to realise the penetration, potential and unpredictability of terrorism.

It is great that the world power has woken up to the fact that there is something called terrorism and its clutches and roots are so hard and deep that individual nations are unable to contain it. Right after 9/11, President Bush declared that America was embarking on a war on terror, and unequivocally said those who are not with us in this war against terror are with the enemy.

There was no middle course. The whole world got up to it and took stock as to find out various means to counter terrorism. What followed is present history.

Saddam is now history, but a recent one of course. Iraq and its hundreds of thousands of civilians who got killed and are being killed are a part of history that is incessant. The dead marines, their agonies, the unending uncertainty that is going on in Iraq are history being formed. And finally, the much discussed and procrastinated troop pullout is also becoming history. Afghanistan, Pakistan, bin Laden and al Qaeda are part of the same history.

What is not history is terrorism. It is all the more powerful today than ever before. The frequent blasts in trains and mosques, railway stations and similar public places in India make it clear that terrorism is very much rooted in all societies, and there is hardly any community that is not affected by terrorism.

India and Pakistan over Kashmir, America and its allies over the nuclear question on Iran, American coalition on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) over Iraq, the latest Russia-Georgia confrontation, Israel-Palestine-US conundrum, the South and North Koreas clash of egos, and our immediate neighbour Srilanka over Tamil Tigers are some of the examples the world offers us to understand the relevance of retaliation, or the scientific principle called ‘action breeds counter action’ or reaction.

In this context, I think it is right to say that today’s terrorism is a sinister form of retaliation. And as long as the world community remains uneven in its ways with the rest of the world, there is going to be more and more terrorist outfits in the world. There is not going to be any let up in this connection. Let’s not forget the fact that every living being has the natural right to protect itself or defend its existence by standing against any type of aggression.

A snakes bites, ant does the same, an elephant tries to gore its mahout, a cornered cat pounces on its master, so does man and like-minded men when faced with adversities. So, terrorism is nothing but retaliation. The advocates of terror may say, we retaliate because we are discriminated, incriminated, sidelined, aggressive and looked down upon by the rich, privileged and powerful around the world. When we get dehumanised beyond our endurance, we retaliate and respond. You call it terrorism, but we call it fight against aggression.

Thus, terrorism gets misconstrued as ‘causeless’ killings. But it is interesting to note here that history has shown us killings of all heinous forms, and we euphemistically call them crusades, Kurushetras, holy wars or jihads, battles against odds, explorations and expansion of empires and kingdoms. And those who got killed in these holy confrontations did not have the might to retaliate. So they became mere pawns on the way of the powerful. We have never had the guts to call any such powers as terrorists. They all had terrorised the weak, killed, maimed and silenced them for establishing their suzerainty and personal egos.

And, naturally, if ever we find a few traces of such an aggressive world order in this planet today, let’s all unpleasantly understand that there are going to be retaliations of higher dimensions, because the retaliating forces have access to all modern means of terror tactics, which the powerful employ against them. The latter and the former call it war on terror. They both have their own definitions though. Both parties are equally right. But it is really unfortunate that we, the so-called civilised world do not have the common intelligence to understand that action breeds reaction or retaliation.

Is it not terrorism when the world community engages itself against such retaliatory forces of some oppressed, colonised, deprived and discriminated states and sections of the world? It is. Actual terrorism is the act of oppressing the rightful and deserving cause or concerns of someone. So terrorism is the visual form of anger, hatred and humiliation. This is harmful, as harmful as war and terror. It does not solve the problem either. But it somehow quenches the volcano of ire that gets brewed in the minds of the oppressed, deprived, under-privileged and discriminated.

What is then the war on terror? It is terrorism, terrorism of the finest order. We have innumerable instance in our recent history to show that man has suffered much from the much-hyped war on terror than from what is warred against. Therefore, it is time to be fair with each other. It is time we mend or ways so as to make this planet a level playing platform for all the ones living in now and the ones to come by. There should not be any discrimination based country and continents, community and culture. The same way there should not be any room for one-upmanship and some-are-more-equal power equations.

The ultimate aim of the world in these times of stress and strife is to provide equal opportunity for everyone to be leading a life rightfully and decently; an even or uniform distribution of dignity and resources for all the ones on this planet.

No war on terror will succeed unless a part of world stops fighting for their due and deserving shares of peace, dignity and resource. Any polarisation in this connection will bring about more and more outfits in the future. The world has to take stock and act on a war footing if anything substantial is to be expected from this so-called war on terror. It is a losing war in all respects.

Pak activities in Sir Creek under watch
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 20
There have been reports of increased activities by Pakistan in the sensitive Sir Creek area in the Rann of Kutch. Besides visits by top officers over the past few weeks, elements of Pakistani special forces have also been spotted in the area.

Citing intelligence inputs, a senior Central Police Organisation officer said that officers from the Pakistan’s Special Services Group (Navy) visited the Maritime Security Agency’s (MSA) detachments in the Sir Creek area about two weeks back and surveyed the region on foot as well as on boats.

In the last week of July, MSA Director General Rear Admiral Tyeb Ali Dogar toured the area. Some senior Pakistani naval officers were also spotted in the region. Besides night patrolling, some simulated exercises, including preparing helipads for emergency landing and those involving artillery guns and assault boats were undertaken, sources added.

Helicopters from the Faisal airbase have also been spotted during past weeks while carrying out aerial reconnaissance of the Sir Creek region. Faisal airbase is located near Karachi and is the base of Pakistan’s Southern Air Command.

Border Security Force (BSF) sources said that there are nine MSA detachments in that area having a total strength of about 350 personnel, including a few officers from the Pakistani Navy. Some of the detachments are equipped with VSAT links while a couple of them have helipads adjacent to them. MSA is responsible for guarding Pakistan’s maritime boundary and is equivalent to the Indian Coast Guard.

For long, the 96-km stretch of marshy Sir Creek has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan over the interpretation of the maritime boundary. The uninhabited marshlands have little military value, but the area holds immense economic value. The region is rich in oil and gas and control over Sir Creek would have a huge bearing on the energy potential of India as well as Pakistan.

A few months after the Kargil conflict, the Indian Air Force had shot down a Pakistani P-3 maritime reconnaissance aircraft after it reportedly intruded into the Indian airspace in that region.

2 Pak sailors desert in Oz

According to military intelligence agencies, two Pakistani sailors have deserted the PNS Babur during the joint naval exercises in Darwin, Australia. The incident occurred on July 22. Pakistani authorities have recalled the commanding officer of PNS Babur, sending another officer to replace him. PNS Babur, a guided missile frigate and another Pakistani warship, Nasr, took part in Exercise Kakadu in Australia. For long, the 96-km stretch of marshy Sir Creek has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan over the interpretation of the maritime boundary.

IAF on a sortie with the best in the West

Vishnu Som

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 (Nevada, USA)

When it come to India's strategic relationship with the United States, one often refers to the nuclear deal. But perhaps the most visible example of this is in military ties.

For the last several years, India and the US have been engaging in progressively more complex military exercises and are currently participating in the most sophisticated air combat exercises in the world called Red Flag in the state of Nevada.

Such exercises are reserved only for the closest military allies of the United States.

Through this exercise, a young fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force gets a chance for a sortie where he will pit his skills against some of the finest of the US, French and South Korean Air Forces.

"This is an exercise which tries to replicate the first ten days of an air battle and provide a realistic exposure to the air crew so that he can be exposed to the nuances of it and thereby be prepared for what comes to him. God forbid if he ever has to participate in hostilities," Group Captain Ajai Rathore, IAF Exercise Coordinator, Red Flag said.

Exercises like this which involve dozens of jets maneuvering in a restricted airspace while carrying out their missions requires precision skills.

For the Indian Air Force, performing well in this environment is not just a matter of pride. It is also a pointer to just how capable its personnel are as they operate with some of the best of the West and so far the results have been positive.

The Indian Air Force's top gun the Sukhoi 30 fighter are deployed on an American air base in Nevada. This is perhaps the most visible example of the close strategic relationship between India and the United States, a strategic relationship which is based to a large extent on the military to military ties between the Indian and US Air Forces.

BrahMos hopes to clinch $10 bn worth orders in next decade

Press Trust Of India / Moscow August 20, 2008, 14:13 IST

The Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace hopes to bag global orders worth $10 billion for its BrahMos cruise missiles in the coming decade, a top official here said.

After successfully working on the contracts for the Indian Navy and Army, the New Delhi-based JV is now poised to expand in the international market and some of the contracts are already in the pipeline, BrahMos CEO Sivathanu Pillai said.

"The political leadership has cleared the export of BrahMos anti-ship missiles to mutually agreed friendly countries and work is underway to finalise contracts," Pillai said, without identifying the nations.

Many nations across the globe are taking keen interest in the deadly supersonic BrahMos cruise missile, which will remain unmatched at least for the coming decade.

According to earlier reports, South Africa, Chile, Kuwait and some other countries, which do not pose any potential threat to the Indian and Russian navies, have been included in the shortlist of BrahMos recipients.

The JV set up by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's Mashinostroyenia is ready to meet the demand for the cruise missiles, which could exceed 1000 units in ten years, half of which would be for export.

BrahMos Aerospace hopes to produce two thousand cruise missiles of various modifications at its facilities in India and Russia, while work is at full swing for the development of submarine and aircraft-launched versions.

Army officer arrested for misbehaving with woman
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 20
An Army officer was beaten up by a mob at the Guwahati railway station and later handed over to the police for allegedly misbehaving with a woman pulse-polio worker, here today.

Government Railway Police (GRP) Superintendent Surendra Kumar said that the GRP personnel arrested Lt Col Parminder Singh Rathode of the Jat Regiment after he misbehaved with a woman on the footbridge at the railway station.

The Army official, in civvies, who was allegedly in inebriated condition, also scuffled with the GRP personnel, he said. The victim, along with other workers, was engaged by the Railway Hospital at the railway station for administering polio drops to children.

French firm to upgrade Navy minesweepers
Shiv Kumar/Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 20
The Indian Navy has tied up with French armaments maker Thales to upgrade six of its 12 minesweepers that were purchased from the erstwhile Soviet Union. The deal, said to be valued at $50 million, will be complete in four years, said sources. The overhaul of minesweepers will transform these vessels into mine-hunters, according to Thales officials.

As per the deal, Thales will completely overhaul the sonar suites and combat systems of the vessels. The refit of the vessels will happen at the Vishakapatnam naval base.

The minesweepers are between 20 and 30 years old and are deployed at its Western and Eastern fleets. The refurbishment of the vessels will happen in phases, said sources. So far, no decision has been taken on refurbishment of the remaining minesweepers. Thales has a long relationship with the Indian defence services and is involved in upgrading the avionics and radars of the Indian Air Force Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft.

Thales has acquired the rights for the Australian Minesweeping System (AMAS), which was developed by Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO). The French company has so far deployed the system in vessels belonging to the navies of Australia, USA, Denmark, Poland, Japan, UAE, Indonesia and Thailand. The technology was first deployed during the 2003 Gulf War.

Its Time for a defence review

Major-General (R) Syed Ali Hamid

To maintain a military proportionate to the threat but disproportionate to the nations financial resources results in the nation reeling under the weight of burgeoning military expenditure and the military constantly facing shortages. Pakistan’s latest budget has once again placed a freeze on the defense expenditure. It happened now and it has happened before. In my 40 years of military service, the Pakistan Armed Forces have always lived with a resource crunch. Sometimes they have been better than others but there were periods when things were really bad like in 1971. My tanks regiment went into battle equipped with Sherman Tanks that had seen combat 30 years earlier in the 1950 Korean War and had been purchased from USA in 1956 at the price of a dollar a tank. We wish we had brand new Russian T-55 2B tanks like the Indian 9 Deccan Horse facing us in Chhamb but our nation could only afford to equip our regiment with Shermans so that is what we went in to combat with. Some of us lived and some died. The early 80s was another period of budget crunch. I took my tank squadron out for field training during which, in a routine exercise a squadron covers 10-15 km. However, fuel was critically short so we found a little hillock and would attack it south to north one day, park our tanks and walk 10 km back to camp. The next night we would walk back to our tanks, attack the hill north to south, park our tanks and again walk back to camp. On a shoe string budget we were training for war in which mistakes cost lives. A year later I was commanding the same regiment and back out on field training. Winter nights were bitterly cold and the soldiers wrapped blankets over their uniforms because the army could not afford to equip 3,50,000 soldiers with warm jackets. In 1971, the Indians used to refer to us as 1’Kambal wa/i fauj” (An Army wrapped in blankets). I negotiated with a second-hand clothes merchant who provided 600 jackets of military pattern at Rs 100 per jacket. I paid half the money from our meager regimental fund and the men agreed to contribute the other half from their pay. Within strict military rules it was not the correct thing to do but how could I expect a soldier to fight in a tank wrapped in a blanket. My tank regiment had 19 trucks for re -supply of ammunition and petrol; eight less than what was authorized, On paper, the situation was not bad. On ground, 15 trucks dated 20 years back to the US military assistance program of the late 1950s and had been overhauled twice over. That left me with only four reliable trucks to support the regiment in war. The situation has improved a lot since then but resource problems never diminish, they only change dimension. When I was commanding an armored division, the tank regiments had many more trucks than in the 80s but now the problem was finding money for spare parts to keep them serviceable. GHQ came up with an innovative solution which made a lot of difference. However what GHQ could not solve were the rising price of gas and electricity. Officers pay their own utility bills but to house and feed over 400,000 soldiers costs the army a great deal. Consequently, we started gas and load shedding long before the rest of the country. Since the late 1950s when the defense budget started appearing as a one line item, questions have been asked about where all the money goes? Though the defense budget consumes over 3% of the GDP, in real terms it is not a lot of money to support maintain and equip a force of nearly half a million men. A comparative table based on 2007 statistics of some of the countries which fall within the category of the 10 largest armies in the world brings out some interesting facts. As a percentage of GDP, Pakistan’s defense expenditure is close to the same as the other countries. In dollar terms it is far lower, except Egypt which balances its defense budget with US$ 1.3 billion FMF per year from the United States, compared to Pakistan’s US$ 300 million. Interestingly, except for the Indian, Pakistan has the least number of active troops compared to its population. We also spend far less per soldier. How then do we manage? It’s no secret. Like every family in Pakistan does in this time of rising prices and inflation, the military strictly controls expenditure, minimizes wastage, innovates and does a host of other things. There is no better approach to financial discipline than self discipline. Through this process we actually increase the value of our budget. Every vehicle that leaves the unit lines for a task must have an authorization from the higher headquarter and the military police routinely check. Any officer or soldier who travels from one station to another at government expense does so under some authority; only then can he claim expenses which are verified by the military accounts department. The rations consumed on a given day have to be accounted for against the soldiers actually present in the unit. All this is double checked by quarterly and special audits conducted by the army audit department. Where there is a discrepancy some one has to pay. The nation wants the army to be accountable but there is no better accountability than self accountability. The Pakistan Armed Forces are adept at maintaining and refurbishing old equipment. They are grateful to the government and the nation when a new consignment arrives. Till then they not only polish and preserve the old but ensure that it remains in battle worthy condition till the original supplier of the equipment has run out of spares. Even then they don’t give up. They scour abroad for other sources, cannibalize, fabricate parts locally, curtail operating hours and keep the equipment going. For them it is a matter of pride. That is how the PAF is training its pilots on T-37 aircrafts for the past 40 years and the PN operates Type 22 Frigates which were commissioned 30 years ago. As for the Pakistan Army the list is long and large. There is a great deal of interest being shown by the Senate and the Parliament in the defense expenditure. Some of this interest is directed at intelligence gathering organizations. From the perspective of the defense of the nation, this area is peripheral. I for one believe that the decision makers should have a better understanding of how and where the money allocated for defense is spent. I would also like to believe that it would lead to some positive results since there is a lot of scope for a constructive dialogue between the military and the decision makers on how best to reduce the defense budget. The solution does not lie in slashing funding arbitrarily. This would only lead to frustration within the military and degrade its mission capability. With the aim of reducing expenditure, the Armed Forces have themselves conducted many studies in areas which consume a substantial amount of the defense budget such as the system of forces, organization, training, maintenance of equipment etc. These studies could form the basis for an opening dialogue. What is required is a holistic approach and policy level decisions. The process is time intensive and I wonder how many of our legislators would be prepared to devote a substantial portion of a year to arrive at a meaningful set of solutions. In many developed nations of the world, this exercise is carried out on a regular basis and culminates every three to four years in a Defense Review which includes the national defense strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the defense program and policies of the country. It is done in consultation with the military and acts as a bridge between the civil and the military by closing the gap between expectations and capabilities. The interim government of Moin Qureshi set a milestone by giving the Armed Forces a Defense Policy. Can the government of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani give the Armed Forces of Pakistan a Defense Review?

Russia To Turn Over Tank Technology to India

By vivek raghuvanshi

Published: 19 Aug 13:02 EDT (17:02 GMT)

NEW DELHI - Moscow has agreed to transfer some T-90 tank technologies to Indian production agencies, giving Indo-Russian defense ties a big boost.

The state-owned Ordnance Factories Board, which administers India's 39 ordnance factories, had concluded the technology transfer agreement with Russia in 2001, a board senior executive said, but Moscow refused to transfer to India key barrel specifications and other technologies, leading to delays in the production at Indian factories.

A senior Indian Defence Ministry official said the transfer of Russian technology relating to some parts of the T-90S will accelerate production of the tank at the state-owned Avadi Heavy Vehicles Factory.

The Russian-made T-90 is the main battle tank of the Indian Army, which has 310 and has agreed to acquire 1,000 T-90S tanks produced under license in India. The Army should have the locally built tanks by 2020.

The Indian Army has planned 21 regiments of T-90S tanks. An armored regiment typically has 45 tanks, along with another 17 for training.

Since early 2007, there have been problems between India and Russia over several defense projects as Moscow has demanded higher prices. The result has been stalemate over several projects, including India's acquisition of the retired Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshokov.

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