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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 01 Oct

Chief's Actions - Inspired by Loyalty

The action (actually, inaction) of the service chiefs with regards to implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations has drawn flak from several quarters. It is being viewed by the critics as insubordination, indiscipline. Fingers are also being raised on the propriety of sending out signals to all ranks informing them of the delay.

The fact of the matter is that the politicians and the bureaucrats have been caught in flagrante delicto in their attempt to rush through the implementation, warts and all. This, despite that it has been pointed out that the final recommendations have glaring discrepancies as regards the armed forces. The inexplicable down gradation of Lt Cols and Lt Gens, and the reduction in pension of the jawans, defy logic and cannot stand scrutiny. Interestingly, these discrepancies were not part of the original pay commission report, but were introduced by the Committee of Secretaries during review.

Attempts to browbeat the services into accepting the award along with discrepancies, with the unconvincing assurance of looking into the issues post implementation, did not work. The principled stance of the chiefs, uncharacteristic of the incumbents in recent years, took them by surprise. The chiefs probably realized that once implemented, the urgency in rectifying the discrepancies would no longer exist, and the issue would get mired in typical bureaucratic delaying tactics. It is notable that the anomalies of the fourth and fifth pay commissions have still not been removed. The lowered status and pensions of the armed forces would have similarly become fait accompli.

Ethos of the armed forces is centred around loyalty – a concept difficult to understand for outsiders in today’s self serving opportunistic environment. Loyalty in the forces has many dimensions – loyalty towards the country, towards the services, towards one’s unit or ship, your superiors – and most importantly, towards the men under your command. The ‘Chetwoode Motto’ is deeply ingrained in the psyche of every officer :-

"The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time.

The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next.

Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time."

The stance taken by the service chiefs is in pursuit of these ideals. Individually, the chiefs have no personal stake in the removal of the anomalies. They have been well compensated in the pay commission report. On the contrary, in taking a strong stance, they have possibly staked their personal self interests such as post retirement appointments. It is only their strong sense of loyalty to their subordinates that prompted this action.

Unlike all other services affected by the pay commission, the armed forces have no unions, no associations. The jawans and officers have absolutely no mechanism of expressing their dissatisfaction with the pay commission discrepancies. They would have no option but to ‘lump it’. Life would carry on, the soldiers and officers would continue to spill their blood securing this nation. But, as the chiefs are well aware, it would be yet another blow to the already beleaguered edifice of the morale of the services, another threat to its basic fabric.

The move to withhold the implementation till a final decision on the anomalies was the only way the import and urgency of the issue could have been highlighted, since all other quarters had only drawn assurances. It also made administrative sense, since it would avoid having to do the salary calculations of more than 15 Lakh people twice in (hopefully) a month or so.

As regards the signal informing their command of the delay in implementation, it was perfectly in order to keep all ranks of the services informed about an issue that every one of them is obviously monitoring closely and is affected by. This is as per the best practices of command, to avoid rumour mongering and ensuring the correct picture is known to all.

The chiefs were sanguine that loyalty to the nation lay in being loyal to their services and their subordinates, and acted accordingly, even at potentially grave personal costs. It is probably for the first time, after the late Field Marshal Manekshaw insisted on delaying the commencement of operations in 1971 till the army was fully ready, that such a principled and selfless stance has been taken by any service chief. They have lived up to the line in the NDA Prayer – “Help me to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”The nation, media and the government must view their actions in this light, and not now go on a witch hunt, lest they cause irreparable damage to the morale of the armed forces.

Armed forces yet to accept pay hike

9/30/2008 4:23:08 PM
Armed forces await PM's return to discuss pay hike issue

According to the 6th pay commission, the armed forces are yet to accept the pay hike.Armed forces yet to accept pay hike. Sources have revealed that the Armed forces still have reservations about key issues and are awaiting PM Manmohan Singh's return from his foreign trip so they can take up the issue with him.

Even as the Armed Forces are under pressure to accept the revised pay scales and arrears from tommorow, sources say that the official notication from the service chiefs accepting the new scales has not been issued as yet.

Sources have revealed that the Armed forces have largely accepted the pay scales for the non-officer cadre but are yet to do so for the officer cardre. The principal objection lies in the pay scale of a Lieutenant Colonel who is considered the backbone of the fighting force. While the equivalent rank in civil services have been bumped up a grade the same hasn't been done for the army.

According to sources, the Army has sighted larger interests of the services to justify the delay in implementing revised salaries.

The Army continues to maintain that pay related issues remain unresolved even though the process for issuing the notification on the new scales has begun. However that process is unlikely to actually come into effect before the Prime Minister returns on Wednesday (October 1, 2008).

Meanwhile workers of the Defence Shipyard are also meeting defence minister AK Antony to press for their demands in the revised pay scale.

Forces up the ante

Forces continue to be at loggerheads with the government over the new pay scales issued by the 6th pay commission. The army chief Deepak Kapoor had earlier said that forces do not have anything against the government.

The service chiefs continue to hold firm on the issue of accepting new pay scales. Service chiefs met in Delhi today to meet to discuss further steps on addressing the issue. They will meet defence minister AK Antony and PM Manmohan Singh tomorrow to discuss the issue of remunerations and the 6th pay commissions revised pay scales.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and armed forces chiefs had reached a compromise on the issue .

Meanwhile the government has said that the armed forces are to accept old pay scales and ad hoc arrears.

21 columns of army withdrawn from Bihar

Patna, September 30
Twentyone of the 26 columns of the Army were withdrawn as part of the Bihar government's plan for the withdrawal of the forces involved in relief and rescue operations by October 14 as the overall flood situation in the five worst-hit districts of the state registered a marked improvement.

"Twentyone columns of army personnel have been withdrawn, while the remaining five are still engaged to carry out relief and rescue operations," state disaster management additional secretary Pratyay Amrit said.

Despite continuous discharge of water from the Barah area in Nepal, Kosi continued to maintain a stable trend.

The water level of the Ganga, Burhi Gandak, Gandak, Mahananda and Bagmati rivers was also below the danger mark along their course in Bihar, official sources said.

The state government has planned to withdraw army columns from the affected areas by October 14.

As many as 1519 boats, including 83 motorboats, beside 399 NDRF personnel, continued to assist the relief operations, the additional secretary said, adding that so far 1,51504 quintals of foodgrains and Rs 38.33 crore in cash had been distributed among the identified affected families. — PTI

Pay Protest
Service chiefs deny defiance of govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 30
Even as the difference of opinion has emerged over the form of protest chosen by the armed forces after the sixth pay commission was notified, the defence minister A.K. Antony today met the three service chiefs - Admiral Sureesh Mehta, General Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief Marshall F.H Major - where the pay commission was again on the agenda. The three chiefs also met amongst themselves separately.

It is learnt the chiefs have conveyed that all the four core issues raised by the forces are important.

They expressed hope that the ministerial committee, of which Antony is also a member, will sort out the matter at the earliest.

It was also cleared that in no way was the signal of the forces to inform their subordinates any kind of defiance of the executive.

Retired officers have stoutly defended the Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and the other service chiefs.

A ministerial group was formed on Saturday to look into the demands of the forces. The civilian bureaucracy and also the polity are of the opinion that it was not expected from a disciplined force “to stall the implementation of a decision of the union cabinet.” This was like open defiance of the government.

The armed forces, on the other hand, say that Naval Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s act of sending a signal to inform the officers and men about the “latest position” about not accepting the sixth pay commission was totally in line with military manuals on leadership.

“It is clear that the force should be informed so that they do not fall prey to any rumour and hearsay.”

This is the normal practice to inform the force so that there is no misinformation and ranks do not fall prey to propaganda and speculation. It is to let truth be known.

Lt. Gen. V.R. Raghavan (retd.) says, “It is not a challenge to the government or authority. The chiefs are accountable to the Constitution and also their own troops.” Commodore Uday Bhaskar Second believes, “There is no defiance. Admiral Mehta did the right thing. This is not a stand off between the political leadership and the forces.”

Sources within the government said the defence minister A.K. Antony told the three chiefs not to stall a decision taken by the cabinet.

The act of the three chiefs is now being construed as if they were trying to cross their limits and run the entire 1.5 million strong force on their own.

On the other hand, after the sixth pay commission was notified, the forces pointed out serious ‘anomalies’ to the defence minister.

The minister took up the issue with the Prime Minister. It was only on Saturday morning that the PM formed a committee.

Since the matter was under consideration at the level of the PM the pay commission could not be implemented.

India to buy T-90 tanks from Russia

Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: India has decided to procure 347 state-of-the-art T-90 tanks from Russia immediately after manufacturing another 1,000 tanks under the transfer of technology regime. Both sides also decided to extend military technical cooperation by another 10 years starting from 2010.

They, however, failed to reach any accord on the multi-million Gorshkov aircraft carrier price negotiations deal. The deal is stuck in price negotiations as even after the finalisation of the deal in 2004. Russia is demanding an additional $1.2 billion over an above the $1.5 billion.

At the end of three-hour long talks with visiting Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on Monday, Indian Defene Minister AK Antony said India would examine Russian proposals.

"Now the discussions are in an advanced stage and I hope we will be able to send the proposals to the cabinet for a final decision," he added.

"The Russians have pointed out that the scope of repair and refit of the aircraft carrier has increased and as a result, costs have escalated. Discussions have been going on in the last few months now," he said. With the delay in the refit programme, the 44,570-tonne Kiev Class Gorshkov -- rechristened as INS Vikramaditya -- is expected to join the Indian Navy service only by 2012. India and Russia also decided to form a body headed by the defence secretaries of the two countries to coordinate operation of several working groups for military cooperation.

"We have taken an in principle decision to extend the tenure of the Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) for military and technical cooperation by another 10 years to 2020 from 2010, when the current Commission's 10-year term ends," Mr Antony said.

"The apex body headed by the two defence secretaries will meet every six months to review the joint working groups' functioning and to sort out all issues concerning defence relations," he said.

The two defence ministers said Indo-Russian military relations have now evolved into joint development of weapons and equipment. "It is a major decision. Russia has made a proposal for extension of the IGC tenure and India will consider it positively and examine it at the earliest," Mr Antony said.

Stating that New Delhi and Moscow had several working groups all these years and there was no coordination, he said the apex body would meet at the earliest in Moscow "well before the visit of the Russian president to India so we can move on all issues very fast."

The 8th IGC here also decided to have joint exercises of the Army, Navy and Air Force on a large scale, not only in numbers but also in content, to further the military cooperation between the two countries.

Both sides also discussed plans for developing a joint fifth generation fighter aircraft and medium transport aircraft, and T-90 tanks technology transfer.

New Pakistan spy chief seen as tough on militants

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan's army chief named a general considered a hawk in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban to head the country's powerful spy agency, asserting his control at a time of U.S. concern that rogue operatives are aiding Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha oversaw military offensives against militants in the lawless border regions with Afghanistan in his most recent job as director general of military operations.

His appointment as head of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, the country's main spy agency, was part of a broader shake-up of army top brass announced late Monday by military chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The moves were seen as a bid by the reform-minded general to revive the prestige of Pakistan's armed forces and assert control over the spy agency following the downfall of ex-President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in August.

A month earlier, the Pakistani government reportedly tried to bring the ISI under the control of the civilian Interior Ministry but quickly reversed the decision after military dissent.

Pasha, who commanded U.N. troops in Sierra Leone in 2001-2002 and was appointed by the world body as an adviser on peacekeeping operations last year, replaces Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, a close aide to Musharraf.

Analysts agreed the appointment should unify Pakistan's anti-terrorism fight.

"Now you have a team in place that includes the new ISI chief ... who shares Kayani's view of how to deal with the insurgency in the tribal area and that is to adopt a tough line," said defense analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi.

The spy agency has helped kill or capture several top al-Qaida leaders since 2001, but there are lingering doubts about its loyalty, not least because its agents helped build up the Taliban in the 1990s.

U.S. intelligence agencies suspect rogue elements may still be giving Taliban militants sensitive information to aid in their growing insurgency in Afghanistan, even though officially Pakistan is a U.S. ally in fighting terrorism.

Some analysts say elements in the spy agency may want to retain the Taliban as potential assets against longtime rival India and believe Pakistan's strategic interests are best served if Afghanistan remains a weak state.

India and Afghanistan — and reportedly the U.S. — suspect the ISI of involvement in the July 7 bombing outside India's Embassy in Kabul, which killed more than 60 people. Pakistan denies the allegations.

Urbane and at ease with foreign reporters, Pasha has acknowledged the price Pakistan was paying for its past sponsorship of radical Islam. "We pumped in millions of dollars for establishing it, and now we are up against it," he told a media briefing in November.

Rizvi said Pasha might be able to sway the lower echelons of the intelligence agency away from any sympathy they might feel toward the Taliban and "convince them that this war is Pakistan's war."

In August, Pasha accompanied Kayani to a meeting between top Pakistani military leaders and American commanders, including the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier.

Pasha will be pivotal in joint U.S.-Pakistani efforts to locate al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, believed to be hiding somewhere along the Afghan-Pakistan border in the lawless, tribal areas.

He said in November that it was "anybody's guess" where bin Laden was hiding. "Osama is a mystery," he said.

Pasha was also skeptical about Washington's policies in the war on terror, saying "brute use of force" killed too many civilians and stoked extremism.

Military analyst Ikram Sehgal said Pasha's experience commanding operations in the border region "will act as a force multiplier for the Pakistan military to fight the Taliban."

Asked whether he would likely follow a U.S. line, he said: "Pasha's only leaning is pro-Pakistan. He is neither pro-West, nor anti-West."

The army statement said Taj, the former intelligence chief, would take charge of an army corps in the eastern city of Gujranwala. It listed several other new postings, each of which were expected to take effect in a few weeks.

Pakistan has spent about half of its 61-year history under army rule, but Kayani has indicated he wants to keep the military out of politics and rehabilitate its image after Musharraf's nine-year rule.

Associated Press Writers Munir Ahmad, Stephen Graham, Asif Shahzad and Kathy Gannon contributed to this report.

Gurkhas win right to retire in UK
About 2,000 Gurkhas are affected by the ruling [AFP]

Former Gurkha soldiers from Nepal have won their legal bid to secure the right to retire in Britain.
Dozens of Gurkhas and their supporters celebrated outside the court following the ruling on Tuesday, and waved the regiment's green flag, which bears two kukris, the traditional Nepalese curved knife.
The soldiers had begun a high court challenge earlier this month against a ruling that those retiring before 1997 had no automatic right to live in the UK.
Martin Howe, their lawyer, said: "Today is a wonderful, terrific victory for the Gurkhas of Nepal.
"It is a victory for common sense, it is a victory for fairness."
The Gurkhas gave three cheers for British actress Joanna Lumley, who supported their campaign because her father was a member of the regiment.

'A great wrong'
Lumley said: "This day is more important than I can tell you.
"It gives our country the chance to right a great wrong and to wipe out a national shame."
During the hearing, Edward Fitzgerald, the Gurkhas' barrister, said a decision to bar them because they were based in Hong Kong until the territory was returned to China in 1997, was unfair.
He also rejected government claims that they did not have close links with Britain.
High court judge Mr Justice Blake ruled that instructions given by Britain's interior office to immigration officials were unlawful and must be changed.

Renowned for bravery
After the ruling, Jacqui Smith, Britain's interior minister, said the rules would be rewritten.
Smith said: "In light of the court's ruling we will revise and publish new guidance. We will honour our commitment to the Gurkhas by reviewing all cases by the end of the year."
Britain's ministry of defence made no comment on the ruling.
About 2,000 Gurkhas are affected by the current rules.
All other foreign soldiers in the British Army are allowed to settle in Britain after four years' service anywhere in the world.
Gurkhas were first recruited by colonial rulers in India in the 19th century as a "martial race" known for their bravery.
They have fought for Britain since 1815, most recently in Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia.

Pakistan's powerful intel agency gets new chief

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan has named a new chief for its main intelligence service, a change sure to be closely scrutinized by the U.S., which has questioned the spy agency's loyalties in the war on terror.

Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, previously the director general of military operations, was named the new head of Inter-Services Intelligence, according to an army statement late Monday.

The statement listed several other new postings in what appears to be a major shake-up of the military leadership.

In his most recent capacity, Pasha would have overseen Pakistan's military offensives against insurgents in Pakistan's northwest, pockets of which have turned into bases for Taliban and al-Qaida militants involved in attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pasha replaces Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, who was in the position about a year after being appointed by former President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf, a former army chief and U.S. ally, was forced to quit the presidency in August amid threats of impeachment by the fledgling civilian government.

Pakistani defense analyst Talat Masood said the changes appeared to be an effort by Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani — who succeeded Musharraf as army chief — to consolidate his control over the military.

Masood described Pasha as "highly professional."

U.S. intelligence agencies suspect rogue elements in the ISI have been giving Taliban militants sensitive information to aid them in their growing insurgency in Afghanistan.

India and Afghanistan also suspect the agency of involvement in the July 7 bombing outside India's Embassy in Kabul that killed more than 60 people. Pakistan denies the allegations.

Pakistani intelligence helped create the Taliban militia, many of whose leaders and recruits studied at religious schools in Pakistan.

Pakistan also was one of the few countries that gave diplomatic recognition to the Taliban's fundamentalist rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Officially, Pakistan allied itself with the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but observers say elements in the ISI may still be aiding Taliban fighters in part to retain them as assets against longtime rival India.

Pakistan has spent about half of its 61-year history under army rule, but Kayani has indicated he wants to keep the military out of politics and rehabilitate its image after Musharraf's nine-year rule.

Still, the army chief has shown an independent streak, and has condemned in harsh terms U.S. crossborder strikes in Pakistan's northwest.

The army statement did not specify who would replace Pasha as director general of military operations. It said Taj has been appointed Corps Commander for Gujranwala.

Lt Gen Nagal is new Strategic Forces commander
30 Sep, 2008, 2227 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: Lieutenant General B S Nagal will be the new Commander of India's Strategic Forces beginning on Wednesday.

Gen Nagal will take over command of the most crucial formation of India's defence forces from Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar, who will take over as the new Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman-based Tri-Services Command, Defence Ministry sources said.

Air Marshal S C Mukul, who was the chief of the IAF's Allahabad-based Central Air Command, has been appointed as the new Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff headquarters here, in place of Lt Gen Hardev Singh Lidder, who retired today.

Air Marshal Radhakrishnan will replace Mukul as the new Central Air Commander.

Commanders-in-Chief of Army's South Western Command Lt Gen P K Singh and Central Command Lt Gen H S Panag also retired today, but announcement regarding their successors was yet to be made till late in this evening.

Lt Gen R K Karwal will take over as new Director General of the National Cadet Corps from Lt Gen P S Chaudhary, sources added.

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