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Saturday, 23 August 2008

From Today's Papers - 23 Aug

Lt-Col among 8 killed in encounter
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 22
Lt-Col J.J. Joseph and two other Army jawans were killed in a fierce encounter with infiltrators in the Macchal sector in Kupwara in north Kashmir today. The Army managed to gun down five militants.

Col Joseph, commanding officer of the 45 Rashtriya Rifles, was leading the operations against suspected foreign militants.

A defence spokesman here said the encounter started this morning and the operation was in progress till the last reports came in.

Joseph even after receiving bullet wounds directed his troops. Later, he was evacuated to the Base Hospital in Srinagar where he succumbed to his injuries.

Acting on a tip-off, the Army laid siege to the forest.

Joseph is the highest ranking army official to have been killed in counter-insurgency operations in the past one year.

IAF men impress at exercise in US
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
India’s growing prowess in the defence sector got another boost as the US Air Force (USAF) officers expressed the desire that the participation of Indian pilots be made a regular feature in the prestigious Red flag exercise.

This is normally conducted between air forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) countries.

At present, a team of the Indian Air Force (IAF) is participating for the first time in the multi-nation Red flag exercises being conducted at Nevada, USA.

An Indian defence spokesperson, quoting Captain Marcus Wilson of the US Air Force, said, “We would like to have the IAF here as a regular participant.”

Wilson was further quoted as having said, “The IAF is a world class air force with great aircraft and leadership. It is a great training opportunity for the USAF and the IAF to integrate our assets in training environment.”

Meanwhile, the exercise has entered its final phase. The success of the missions in these air campaigns is dependent on situational awareness of all persons involved.

Hence, the network- centric operations are the pivots on which the difference of life and death rests.

The main challenge during the exercise for the team IAF has been to adapt to the US network and also carry out ‘stand alone’ tasks simultaneously.

The IAF team is participating with eight Sukhoi 30’s, two IL 76 and 247 officers
and personnel.

Western Naval Symposium
With China opposing, India keen to stay on board
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
In a move that is aimed at countering China, the Indian Navy is looking forward to become a member of the western pacific naval symposium (WPNS) to be organised by South Korea in October.

China has in the past opposed the symposium and India will be pitching in with all it might to be on board. The Indian Navy will be participating as an observer in the WPNS to be organised at the sidelines of a South Korean international fleet review on October 8.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command Vice-Admiral Nirmal Verma will represent the navy.

"The symposium is important as Canada is pitching to modify charter to change status of some countries, including India, from observer to member," added official.

The naval officer pointed out that it was in the interest of the Indian Navy if the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and the WPNS became an interface of the Asian-pacific security interests.

Besides this, the Indian Navy will be exuding greater influence in the Indian Ocean as it will participate in the second International fleet review.

The Indian Navy ships will be deployed in East Asia for the furtherance on its foothold in the region and also in the West Asia and Northern Africa.

A few vessels will depart from Port Blair for Combodia next month and from there on it will move to Vietnam, naval officials said on condition of anonymity.

The Indian Navy ships will then leave for South Korea. There the ships will participate in the prestigious international fleet review at the biggest port city of Busan, said the officer.

About 50 warships will be showcased along with 30 aircraft in the world's largest naval exhibition.

South Korea hosted its first international fleet review in 1998. The event will mark the 60th anniversary of the Republic of Korea's armed forces, with about 13 nations, including the United States, Britain, China, Russia and Japan participating in it.

In the Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy's endeavour is to gain foothold. The objective is to promote a shared understanding of the maritime issues facing countries in the region and to develop strategies designed to enhance regional maritime security.

After attending the events, Indian Navy vessels will go to Japan, where it will hold an exercise with Japan maritime self-defence force (JMSDF) in October.

The ships will then move to Malaysia and Singapore before returning to Port Blair by the end of October.

CPM against naval exercises with US
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 22
The CPM has warned the government against holding joint naval exercises - the Malabar naval exercises - with the US navy on the western coast of India in October which, according to its Politburo, will see US nuclear weapons-carrier lead the US naval contingent.

The CPM politburo, in a statement issued here today, also threatened to hold demonstrations against the naval exercises along with other Left parties.

It said, “The CPM strongly opposes this joint exercise which will see US nuclear weapons ships joining the exercises on the West Coast. The USS Ronald Reagan, which leads the US naval contingent, is a nuclear weapon-equipped aircraft carrier.”

The CPM has asked the government not to allow “any nuclear-equipped US ships into our ports or territorial waters”.

It said that earlier the Congress-led government had allowed the USS Nimitz, also a nuclear weapons ship, to dock at Chennai.

Such military exercises are part of the growing military collaboration with the US which is resorting to aggressive military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and now targeting Iran.

The party charged that “since it signed the Defence Framework Agreement with the United States, the Manmohan Singh government is working to integrate India's armed forces with that of the US”.

Grade pay for armed forces enhanced
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
The central government has upwardly revised the grade pay for armed forces officers, but the key question remains whether the enhancement would do away anomalies created by the Sixth Pay Commission (SPC) in the status of military officers vis-à-vis civilian officers.

According to information available with The Tribune, the increase in grade pay for
armed forces ranges from Rs 400 per month to Rs 2,000 per month at different
levels (see chart).

Sources reveal that though the grade pay for the armed forces has been raised, similar enhancement has also been done for civilian officers, which may not give the former any benefit as far as status is concerned. After the SPC recommendations, grade pay remains the sole determinant of status.

The basic pay scales of the armed forces as well as civilian officers as recommended by the SPC were increased after a review committee put in fresh suggestion. This, however, did not give any edge to armed forces personnel vis-à-vis their status.

To cite an example where the revision has further eroded the status of armed forces officers, lieutenant colonels and equivalents in other services have now been granted a grade pay of Rs 7,600.

The SPC had recommended a grade pay of Rs 6,600 for officers at this rank, while recommending Rs 7,600 for the equivalent non-IAS directors of central government and Rs 8,300 for ones from the IAS cadre.

The Army had accordingly sought a raise of grade pay for lieutenant colonels to at least Rs 7,600 since traditionally Lieutenant-Colonels(Lt- Col) had been enjoying a pay more than even directors from the IAS cadre.

Moreover, the time frame for promotion to Lt-Col and director was the same, that
is, 13 years.

However, while acceding to the demand of raising the grade pay of Lieutenant
Colonels to Rs 7,600, the government has, on the other hand raised the grade
pay of directors to Rs 8,700 resulting in the same anomalous situation prevailing
prior to the revision.

Though complete details are yet to filter down, officers fear that the same situation may crop up at other ranks. The services are expected to take up the issue with the central government.

While the arrears for the salary will be paid with effect from January 1, 2006, revised applicable allowances will be admissible from September 1, 2008.

Sam, the genial one
by Brig A.N. Suryanarayanan (retd)

The term ‘bahadur’ conjures up the image of a fierce Gorkha! But ‘Sam’ was one of the most genial senior officers I found in my 35 years in uniform.

In 1963, still a “one-pipper”, I was lost in the corridors of the Corps HQ at Tezpur, looking at name boards to invite two Captains personally for a regimental function. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulders asking ‘What brings you here?’ Turning, I saw a Lt General in a mazri shirt, with a sharp nose and peculiar moustache. “Don’t be scared young man. Tell me what you want and I will help you”. I stuttered and shivered before giving the names of Capt Batra and Parmar. He escorted me to their office and told them to give me some coffee and he was off!

In 1973, as a student at Staff College on a Sunday at the Lower Coonoor vegetable market, I saw all vendors suddenly standing up with folded hands and saying: “Vanakkam, Ayya” (Salutations, Sir). My wife and I turned around and saw the Field Marshal. We moved aside wishing him; but he stopped and asked my wife her name and where we were staying.

On our saying “Holmwood”, he remembered from his days as Commandant 11 years earlier and asked if we still had dry commodes there, which we did! After speaking for some more time, he wished us luck and was off!

Same year he addressed us at the valedictory function, when for the first time ever, he gave out a humourous and uncensored version of Higher Direction of 1971 War: he had contempt for politicians and named a senior minister.

At one stage, he moved his head to a profile and asked us to notice the similarity of his sharp nose with Indira Gandhi and said, that was the reason he was close to her! Foreign students were equally delighted as us!

In 1984, when he addressed us at the valedictory of Higher Command Course and in 1988, at Staff College again (when I was Instructor), he amazed us with his razor-sharp memory by repeating verbatim the same words as in 1973.

The fun was later, when all ladies wanted to have a snap with him. He said in
avuncular manner: “No, not all together; one by one” and hugged each one for
a snap individually!

In Nov 1989, while waiting at IA counter at Madras for Coimbatore, in a long queue, I noticed “Sam” joining 20 places behind me. I rushed and requested him for his ticket and not to stand in queue; but he wouldn’t, saying “No I will take my turn”.

I compelled him, took it, rushed back and asked the counter-man if he even knew who it was in the queue. He left the window, came out and apologised. Immediately there was a rush near “Sam” with everyone producing a currency-note or boarding pass or even plain piece of paper for an autograph! He smiled at me with a mischievous wink and obliged everyone!

I asked for and got two seats together in the very first row for him and me. He spoke nicely to me throughout the flight. On my other flank, I had M N Nambiar, the quintessential Tamil villain!

Pakistan Army Violating Truce to Fan Kashmir Separatism
New Delhi
Aiming to regain its space in the country's polity, the Pakistan Army is now resorting to repeated ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir to gain public sympathy and simultaneously signal its solidarity with separatist elements in the Valley, the Indian Army says.
“Earlier, there used to be around two ceasefire violations a month along the LoC. But after mid-July, there has been a spurt in the incidents,” a senior army officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
During April-August there have been 29 instances of truce violations. One incident was reported in April, two in May and seven in June. The figure rose to 10 in July, while nine violations have taken place so far in August.
“The ceasefire violations also have a pattern. The firing is not directed towards our posts but at some distance away. Also, they do not try to provoke us except for one incident (in July when an Indian Army soldier was killed)," the officer pointed out.
"The Pakistani Army is basically giving out signals to the separatists in the valley that 'We are with you'. Also, it is trying to gain public sympathy back home,” the officer added.
The truce violations apart, infiltration from across the border is the other major issue the Indian Army faces in Kashmir - apart from controlling militancy in the state.
According to intelligence reports, over 800 terrorists are waiting in launch pads across the border to sneak into Kashmir.
"The terrorists have been in the launch pads for quite some time now in nearly 40 camps in PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) and in Punjab and Balochistan that are out of the public glare," the officer added.
Infiltration into Kashmir normally begins at the end of March when the snows in the Himalayan ranges melt and the passes become accessible. Between March and July, the Indian Army says, there have been over 130 infiltration bids, of which just about 20 succeeded.
“Given that the majority of infiltration bids have been foiled, the Pakistan Army is now trying to utilize separatist elements like Syed Ali Shah Geelani (of the Hurriyat's hardline faction) to foment trouble in the state," the officer said.
“The terrorists are desperate as they have not been able to execute any major incidents in the state. And they got an adequate opportunity on Aug 15 in the form of the 'Azadi rally' which acted as trigger (for the seperatists' call for independence),” the officer added.
In all this, there has been a 50 percent decline in militant-provoked violence this year.
The insurgency in Kashmir apart, the state has been on the boil for almost three months over a bitter row over the transfer of land to the board that manages the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine in the Kashmir Valley that has sharply polarised the state along religious lines.

Army says no to law and order duty in J&K

Nitin Gokhale

Friday, August 22, 2008 (New Delhi, Srinagar)

The Indian Army has been under tremendous pressure to step in and control law and order in Kashmir after the recent protests there but a senior Army officer has made it clear that the Army should be kept away from interfacing with the crowds as far as possible.

Huge protest rallies have been organized in Jammu and Srinagar over the past fortnight and over 20 people died in various incidents of firing by the J&K police and the CRPF.

Their role in dealing with the crowds increasingly came under the scanner, leading to demands to deploy the Army for crowd control. However, the Army itself is not too keen to take on a role that it is not trained for.

"We are already in J&K for counter-insurgency role but getting into law and order, getting into internal security situations is not really desirable. It is not desirable our troops to get entrenched with the crowds," said Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal, 15 Corps Commander, Srinagar.

In fact, the Army is all praise for the J&K police and the CRPF for handling a difficult task well. They fired on the crowd only under extreme provocation after many of their own people like the jawans were attacked and injured critically.

"The police and para-military forces have done a great job in difficult circumstances, all kudos to them," said Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal, 15 Corps Commander.

The Army is however willing to support the police and CRPF in various other ways like keeping the communication links open, identifying trouble-makers in the crowd and intensifying counter-terrorist operations in the hinterland to ease the pressure on the police and para-military forces.

Despite tensions and uncertainty in Kashmir, the Indian Army is clear that it will not involve itself in combating crowds or maintaining law and order as far as possible.

And apparently agreeing with the Army's standpoint, New Delhi on Friday decided to deploy 6,500 BSF troops on law and order duties in both Jammu and Kashmir in addition to the existing para-military forces present in the state.

Mech Infantry troops to go for war gaming with British Army

Press Trust Of India / New Delhi August 22, 2008, 18:46 IST

To further defence ties with the United Kingdom, India for the first time will send its Mechanised troops to the country to pitch their skills during land warfare exercises with their British counterparts beginning August 29.

"Mechanised infantry troops of the Indian Army will carry out joint training and exercises with UK Army from August 29 in that country," an Army spokesperson said here today.

Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, who will be in the UK during September on a scheduled visit, would be witnessing the Indian troops training and exercising with the British troops at the Land Warfare Centre in UK.

"These exercises and training programme was not part of our annual plan this year, but were scheduled following an invitation from the UK Army troops as a reciprocal gesture," an army official said.

The UK troops had earlier participated in joint training exercise with the Indian troops in India last year.

The Indian contingent of 126 men would be drawn from the 16 Mechanised Infantry Regiment and they would be at the Salibury Plains-based Land Warfare Centre till September 19.

During their stay, the Indian troops would train and exercise with the British Army troops of the 3rd Mercian Regiment, an amalgamation of old British Army units that have served in India in the mid-19th Century.

The training will be at the battalion-group level and will be followed by two joint operational manoeuvres, 'Exercise Lions Strike' and 'Exercise Wessex Warriors'.

Flying blind, Sukhois ‘shot’


New Delhi, Aug. 22: Flying near-blind in the US, the Indian Air Force’s frontline Sukhoi 30Mki fighters have been “shot” down in missions at the Red Flag wargames, the toughest combat aircraft exercise that the US hosts for its allies.

The Russian-made Sukhoi 30Mkis have been asked to fly in the exercise only after switching off a sophisticated radar and without recourse to a key shield against surface-to-air missiles, a senior air force officer said. The exercise in which the IAF is participating for the first time entered its most complex phase today.

“Shooting down” or getting “shot down” must necessarily take place in a wargame. In 2003, US Air Force’s (USAF) F-15 Tomcat aircraft participating in an exercise out of Gwalior in India were similarly “shot down”.

Despite being hamstrung at the Red Flag games, the IAF contingent was getting invaluable training as part of a “Blue force” tasked to defend its territory against an aggressor “Red force” in the Nevada desert. The range over which the exercise is taking place has mock-ups of several targets that are mostly military establishments, air force spokesman Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani, who is with the contingent, told The Telegraph from the Nellis air force base.

The IAF is participating with eight Su-30s, two IL-78s (mid-air refuellers), an IL-76 (heavy lift transporters) and 247 men led by Group Captain D. Chaudhary. Frontline aircraft from the air forces of South Korea and France and, of course, the US are engaged both with the IAF and against it in the drills.

“Captain Marcus ‘Spike’ Wilson of the USAF Aggressors in his appreciation of the IAF has said the IAF is a world-class air force with great aircraft and great leadership,” said Upasani.

The IAF Sukhois have been asked not to show the full capacity of their BARS II radar so that their signatures may not be recorded.

8 die as Indian soldiers, Kashmir separatists clash

  • Story Highlights
  • 3 Indian Army personnel, 5 separatists killed, Indian officials say
  • Clash happens at border between Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir
  • Gunfight comes as hundreds of thousands protest Indian control in Kashmir capital

From Mukhtar Ahmad

SRINIGAR, Kashmir (CNN) -- A senior Indian Army officer, two Indian Army soldiers and five separatist militants were killed in the Machil sector of the Line of Control in Indian-administered Kashmir Friday, the Indian Defense Ministry said.

A ministry spokesman said the army intercepted a group of infiltrators near the Line of Control between Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir early Friday and challenged them.

"The group of militants opened fire at the surrounding troops, resulting in an on-the-spot death of an Army colonel and two soldiers," Lt. Col. A.K. Mathar said in Srinigar. "In the subsequent gunbattle, five militants were killed. A search operation is now on in the Machil area of the North Kashmir Kupwara district," he said.

India has often accused neighboring Pakistan of aiding and abetting militants in Kashmir, a charge denied by Pakistani officials. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1948. The insurgents want to see India's part of the region merged with Pakistan or given independence.

The gunfight came on a day when hundreds of thousands converged on Srinigar, the capital, shouting anti-Indian slogans and demanding freedom from Indian control. The protesters, from throughout Kashmir, converged on the historic grounds of Eidgah -- an open air mosque for Eid or other large prayer gathers -- in the heart of the city from Friday morning.

When the public address system failed and senior Kashmiri separatist leaders couldn't address the mammoth gathering, the separatist leaders were carried through the crowd shouting pro-Islamic slogans. In his brief address, senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq announced that an even larger rally and sit-in would take place on Monday in the Lal Chowk area of Srinigar.

"The only demand we make is of freedom. India must grant it to us," said Abdul Rahim, a schoolteacher who participated in the rally.

The state authorities allowed Friday's march, which was the fourth called by separatists in the past 12 days. The authorities had ordered the Indian security forces to exercise maximum restraint.

New defence policy: No to agents

Six global defence and aircraft manufacturers, who are in the race to win the lucrative bid for supply of 126 medium multi role combat (MMRC) aircraft to the Indian Air Force, have submitted a list of local vendors, from whom they would source components, systems and service in addition to offering an increased investment to revitalize India's defence and aerospace sectors in the event of winning the order.

This development, not surprisingly was in response to a new investment-friendly weapons' procurement policy unveiled by Defence Minister A.K. Antony on August 1. The policy specifically mandates that all foreign companies bidding for major Indian defence contracts worth over Rs.3,000-million will have to invest anything between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of the value of the order in the Indian defence and aerospace sectors.

Interestingly, American defence and aerospace majors, Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin have already inked contracts with a number of industrial groups and software and IT services companies to execute the offset clause forming part of the contract, in anticipation of bagging the order. "We are already establishing the ground work that will lead us to success in this large undertaking through early management of Indian industry, both in the public and private sectors" observed Boeing Integrated Defense Systems Vice President (India) Vivek Lall.

On the other hand, the Bangalore-based aeronautical and defence outfit Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is quite bullish about the benefits flowing to it from the offset clause. According to its spokesman, "We will work with the vendors chosen by the winner." As it is, HAL will license produce 108 of the 126 combat aircraft to be acquired by India, while the 18 jets will be delivered to IAF in a flyway condition.

In the race to grab an estimated US$10-billion order for the supply of 126 combat aircraft: are Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin's F-16 Falcon, Russia's Mig-35, Swedish Jas-39 from Grippen, French Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon from the British, German, Spanish and Italian firms consortium. As it is, these six defence majors had submitted their bid this April. "We will seriously examine all the bids and shortlist the companies in due course" said a spokesman of the Defence Ministry.

It was an anticipated delay in the induction of India's home-grown fourth generation, supersonic tactical fighter Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas that nudged the IAF to scout the global defence market for the procurement of the 126 combat aircraft, that would serve as the frontline fighters by replacing the aging and obsolete Mig-series of fighter jets. As things stand now, LCA Tejas is not expected to be ready for induction till early next decade.

As stated by defence ministry sources, India's new defence procurement policy (DPP-2008) not only seeks to end the "murky role of middlemen and agents" in defence deals, but also put the procurement of armaments and fighting equipment on a fast track with a clear cut focus on transparency at every stage. As New Delhi-based defence analysts point out, in the backdrop of India's emergence as a major and lucrative defence market, with plans to spend up to US$50-billion on the import of defence hardware and equipment over the next five years, the need for a comprehensive well-drafted defence purchase policy has become all the more pronounced.

Till recently, India's defence procurement scenario was under the vicious influence of middlemen, whose questionable role had resulted in the cancellation of a couple of recent military procurement deals. Against this backdrop Antony has made it clear that "we will not allow middlemen in defence deals". And, according to the Ministry spokesman, "as per the new policy, armament companies will have to sign integrity pacts to ensure that no unethical means will be employed to bag these deals".

The new policy also lays stress on enhancing the transparency of technical trials in addition to easing licensing conditions for India's private sector companies to participate in defence production and promoting joint ventures. More importantly, DPP-2008 also facilitates the concept such as "offset banking". As part of this concept, foreign vendors accumulate offset credits for two years preceding the award of a contract. However, the policy also makes it clear that offsets can be banked after getting due permission from the Government, which will examine all aspects of offset banking proposals to ensure that they are advantageous to our defence sector.

In particular, DPP-2008 promises the defence vendors advance information on procurement before floating tenders. Further, it seeks to enhance the financial powers of the Army, Navy and Air Force headquarters. Similarly, as per this policy foreign companies will be allowed to park funds in banks in anticipation of future contracts so that they need not have to manage money for the offset policy when the deal is finalized. But then this DPP makes it clear that the offset will be direct in that it will be allowed only in the defence arena. "The offset policy will be fine-tuned and allowing indirect offset is unlikely, since the Defence Ministry is extremely keen to build the indigenous sector," explains its spokesman.

"The new DPP will hasten indigenization by helping defence public sector units, the Defence Research and Development Orgnisation (DRDO0 and private industry to enter into a joint venture with foreign arms' suppliers," observes Antony. As he stated, the ultimate aim is to reduce India's dependence on foreign arms' supplies and to "ensure that our armed forces will be able to speedily procure world-class equipment from indigenous or foreign sources".

The Defence Minister also stressed the point that a strong and resurgent domestic defence industry, both in the public and private sector, could contribute to meeting the growing needs of the defence forces in a big way. The current policy encourages private participation in the defence production scenario. It also allows 28 per cent FDI in the Indian defence sector. According to Ministry sources, in the new procurement policy "suitable amendments have been effected to pave the way for speedier procurement of weapons, systems and platforms while enhancing transparency at the same time".

Importantly, Antony sees a vastly enhanced role for the local private industry in the country's defence production matrix. "It should be our endeavour to achieve the maximum synergy between defence public and private sectors, in order to create a competitive defence technology edge and strengthen the industry itself." He also expressed the view that DPP-2008 will promote indigenization and encourage wider representation of the industry on panels doing technical evaluation of indigenously designed military platforms.

Recall, till 2001, entry of private sector into India's production sector was barred. It was only after the Vijay Kelkar Committee recommended that private firms be allowed to participate in the production of arms and defence equipment that led to the opening up of the sector in a phased manner to private participation. Today, a number of Indian private entities including Tata Power, Larsen and Toubro, Mahindra and Mahindra, Kirloskar Group and Wipro have all unveiled their plans to enter the defence sector in a big way. "The role of private players has largely been at the sub contract level. Now the second step for them is to reach the sub assembly level and that will take time", says HAL Chairman Ashok.K.Baweja. A beginning has been made.

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