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Sunday, 14 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 14 Sep














Maj-Gen dismissed for molesting officer
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
A general court martial (GCM) has dismissed a major-general after he was held guilty of molesting a woman officer under his command. This is the first time that an officer of the rank of major-general has been convicted for such an offence.

The GCM, presided over by the General Officer Commanding 10 Corps, Lt-Gen R.S. Sujlana, concluded at the Bathinda military station today. The GCM’s verdict is subject to confirmation by the Chief of the Army Staff. Dismissal from service will deprive him of his pension and ex-serviceman benefits.

Maj-Gen A.K. Lal was tried on four charges that included molestation under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, read with Section 69 (civil offences) of the Army Act, and holding meditation classes in his bedroom. The other two charges include attempts to influence two officers who were witnesses in the case. The court found him guilty on all four counts.

The officer, on his part, had denied the allegations. He will have the option to appeal against the verdict before the GCM’s convening authority, both before and after it is confirmed, and if he is not satisfied by the convening authority’s action, he can seek legal redressal from the high court. It is also possible that his case may come up before the Armed Forces Tribunal that is expected to begin functioning shortly.

His counsel, Lt Col P.N. Chaturvedi (retd), who incidentally was not present in the court today, said he was not aware of the GCM’s verdict, but added that according to the high court orders, the final outcome of the GCM was subject to the matter being disposed of by the high court.

General Lal was posted as the General Officer Commanding 3 Infantry Division near Leh last year, when a woman officer, Capt Neha Rawat, had, in a written complaint, alleged sexual misconduct on his part on the pretext of holding meditation classes at his residence.

In September, the Army ordered a court of inquiry (COI) into the matter and General Lal was removed from command and attached to Headquarters 15 Corps. The COI, presided over by Lt-Gen A.S. Sekhon, the then corps commander, had, in November 2007, held him prima facie blameworthy. Later he was moved out from the Northern Command attached to Mathura-based 1 Corps on technical grounds as trial within the Northern Command posed legal lacunae.

The GCM had assembled at Bathinda on July 7, but proceedings were initially deferred because the accused had proceeded on leave due his mother’s demise. Later he was admitted to hospital for treatment of his back.

When the allegations levelled by Captain Rawat had become public, the general’s family had, in a press conference held in Chandigarh, strongly defended him and had termed the charges levelled against him as incorrect and motivated.


Gallantry allowance doubled
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 13
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has doubled the gallantry allowance that is paid to awardees of various gallantry medals given to state Police forces across the country and also to the Central para-military organisations.

A notification in this regard has been issued. The allowance for the President’s Police medal for gallantry (PPMG) has been doubled from Rs 750 per month to Rs 1,500 per month. An award of each bar to the existing PPMG will now result in an allowance of Rs 1,500 per month double of the existing allowance.

Similarly, in case of the Police Medal for gallantry (PMG), the allowance has been doubled from Rs 450 per month to Rs 900 per month. The addition of each bar to the existing PMG will also result in an allowance Rs 900 per month double of the earlier allowance.

All other rules, terms and conditions will remain the same. For long, the PPMG and PMG awardees have been representing that several of them risk their lives and a few even die in counter-insurgency areas or fighting Naxals. The allowance should have been a respectful sum, is the opinion of several awardees.


Shortage of intelligence officers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 13
Two issues that the security agencies are battling with are demand for a federal investigating agency and to recruit more intelligence gathering officers. In the hallowed corridors of power in the North Block, these issues have been lingering on for a long time now.

Investigators want a federal investigating agency to probe and tackle cases of terrorism. The ministry of home affairs has adopted a soft approach and asked the states to give their views through a questionnaire last month.

Mistakes are being repeated. Intelligence gathering was a low priority subject while the beat constable system has collapsed, the MHA officials have been pointing out to the state officials. The blasts are occurring as modules of terrorists are active in cities across the country.

Sources said the federal agency need not be body that works from the national capital alone. It could have nodes in all major cities and draw manpower from state police forces.


ANALYSIS: The new Great Game —Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

The tough and categorical rejoinder by the Pakistani army chief to American statements reflected the consensus in army circles, and was aimed at dispelling the impression that he had agreed to unilateral American action during his meeting with the US top brass

Statements from top US and Pakistani commanders on dealing with the militancy in Pakistan’s tribal areas reflect divergence in their perspectives on counterterrorism. The two allies do not always trust each other, and public differ on ways and means to counter the terrorist threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The on-going campaign along the Durand Line cannot be tension-free as Pakistan and the US have not articulated a shared vision of terrorism in the region and how to cope with it. Both are excessively occupied with their respective domestic political considerations and security concerns, which leads them to lose patience with each other. However, relations between the two cannot break down completely.

Both Pakistan and the US need each other for different reasons. Pakistan’s faltering economy needs US and Western support. The US needs Pakistan for logistical reasons, and as an extension, for pursuing its counterterrorism agenda in Afghanistan. Major supplies to American troops in Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. Other transit options like the Central Asian land route, or the airlifting of goods to Afghanistan, are not better alternatives.

Further, while Pakistan may not be cooperating to the satisfaction of the US, its exclusion will not facilitate counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan either. Consequently, one can neither expect a total breakdown of relations nor complete harmony in their policies.

The present crisis in Pak-US relations developed when US military authorities based in Afghanistan took four unilateral military actions in Pakistan’s tribal areas between September 3 and September 8, killing at least 57. Only five persons killed in the missile attack of September 8 were said to be low-level Al Qaeda operatives. These attacks greatly embarrassed the civilian government, and it made a formal protest to the US government.

The American response to Pakistan’s protest was terse, and came in the shape of statements by US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who maintained that the US favoured expanding military action against the Taliban and Al Qaeda concentrations in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Both also talked of working closely with Pakistan to eliminate the Taliban’s ‘safe havens’.

This was followed by the news that, in July, President George W Bush had authorised unilateral military action inside Pakistan tribal belt without prior approval from Islamabad.

US forces have been launching attacks in the tribal areas from time to time over the last five years. They have fired missiles at specific targets from across the border, or have used unmanned drones to fire missiles and gather intelligence. At times, Pakistani military authorities owned such attacks to dilute domestic criticism.

These incidents have increased in 2008. On September 3, the US used its ground troops for the first time, assaulting a house in a village near Angur Adda, in what was seen as a clear escalation of the attack strategy.

It is known that US military authorities had been discussing for some years the possibility of sustained unilateral military action in the tribal areas against the Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives that challenged US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. Encouraged by the American posture, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other top Afghan officials launched a barrage of propaganda accusing Pakistan of aiding and abetting the insurgency in Afghanistan.

The Americans believed that some elements in Pakistan’s security and intelligence establishment sympathised with the militants and aided their operations in Afghanistan. This perception led US authorities to restrict intelligence sharing with Pakistan.

The latest American attacks have created a crisis-like situation in Pak-US relations for three main reasons:

First, Pakistan’s federal government and the provincial government in the NWFP have publicly owned the war on terrorism for the first time, and have supported military action against the Taliban in the tribal areas. They also began mobilising support for military action, arguing that the insurgency threatened Pakistan’s internal stability. This effort by the government suffered a major setback after the four US attacks within a week, and tough statements from the Americans.

Second, the meeting between Pakistan’s army chief and top US commanders aboard an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean on August 27 created the impression that the two sides had developed an understanding for dealing jointly with the militancy in the tribal areas. This impression was strengthened by Adm Mullen’s statement within a day or so of this meeting. However, the September attacks showed that American military authorities in Afghanistan had not changed their ways. This was viewed as an affront to the Pakistan Army, whose chief met with his American counterparts to improve trust between the two sides.

Third, the Pakistani government’s efforts to contain the activities of Islamist groups and parties, which often act as a political front for militants, have received a setback due to the American raids. These elements seized the opportunity to project the government as an American lackey and stepped up their activities. Such attacks increase support for religious extremist, and strengthen anti-American sentiments.

The tough and categorical rejoinder by the Pakistani army chief to American statements reflected the consensus in army circles, and was aimed at dispelling the impression that he had agreed to unilateral American action during his meeting with the US top brass. A few days earlier, the Air Chief Marshall said in Lahore that if the government granted permission, PAF can take care of violations of Pakistani airspace by US drones.

Gen Kayani won much appreciation in both military and civilian circles for stating unambiguously that Pakistan will not allow foreign troops to operate on its territory. The corps commanders met on September 11-12 to discuss security issues. It is ironic that the civilian government did not come out with a similar statement. Prime Minister Gilani endorsed the army chief’s statement, whereas it should have been the other way around. It seems that the civilian government lacks the confidence to take a firm position on the matter.

While efforts were underway to defuse the situation, the US launched another missile attack in North Waziristan on September 12.

Pakistan and the US will continue to diverge on the management of counterterrorism because they are not pursuing this goal through a shared approach. The US sets the agenda and then expects Pakistan to perform to the American’s satisfaction in return for economic and military assistance. Pakistan is not impressed with all aspects of the American policy, as it does not take into account Pakistan’s security concerns.

Pakistan sees many challenges to its security as Afghanistan experiences a new Great Game with India, Iran and the new resurgent Russia all interested. Additional problems are being caused with the American policy of supporting the Karzai government, which is dominated by ethnic minorities whose leadership has traditionally been hostile to Pakistan. Some players in this new Great Game are likely to help insurgents in order to keep the US under pressure, while others like India or Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance can assist the Pakistani Taliban or Baloch separatist elements to further trouble Pakistan.

If diplomatic intervention cannot stop American attacks, the military commanders and major political circles will build strong pressure on the civilian government to downgrade Pakistan cooperation with the US, and target American drones flying into Pakistani airspace.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst


U.S. Arms Sales Climbing Rapidly

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is pushing through a broad array of foreign weapons deals as it seeks to rearm Iraq and Afghanistan, contain North Korea and Iran, and solidify ties with onetime Russian allies.

From tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to missiles, remotely piloted aircraft and even warships, the Department of Defense has agreed so far this fiscal year to sell or transfer more than $32 billion in weapons and other military equipment to foreign governments, compared with $12 billion in 2005.

The trend, which started in 2006, is most pronounced in the Middle East, but it reaches into northern Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and even Canada, through dozens of deals that senior Bush administration officials say they are confident will both tighten military alliances and combat terrorism.

“This is not about being gunrunners,” said Bruce S. Lemkin, the Air Force deputy under secretary who is helping to coordinate many of the biggest sales. “This is about building a more secure world.”

The surging American arms sales reflect the foreign policy tides, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the broader campaign against international terrorism, that have dominated the Bush administration. Deliveries on orders now being placed will continue for several years, perhaps as one of President Bush’s most lasting legacies.

The United States is far from the only country pushing sophisticated weapons systems: it is facing intense competition from Russia and elsewhere in Europe, including continuing contests for multibillion-dollar deals to sell fighter jets to India and Brazil.

In that booming market, American military contractors are working closely with the Pentagon, which acts as a broker and procures arms for foreign customers through its Foreign Military Sales program.

Less sophisticated weapons, and services to maintain these weapons systems, are often bought directly by foreign governments. That category of direct commercial sales has seen an enormous surge as well, as measured by export licenses issued this fiscal year covering an estimated $96 billion, up from $58 billion in 2005, according to the State Department, which must approve the licenses.

About 60 countries get annual military aid from the United States, $4.5 billion a year, to help them buy American weapons. Israel and Egypt receive more than 80 percent of that aid. The United States has also recently given Iraq and Afghanistan large amounts of weapons and other equipment and has begun to train fledgling military units at no charge; this assistance is included in the tally of foreign sales. But most arms exports are paid for by the purchasers without United States financing.

The growing tally of international weapon deals, which started to surge in 2006, is now provoking questions among some advocates of arms control and some members of Congress.

“Sure, this is a quick and easy way to cement alliances,” said William D. Hartung, an arms control specialist at the New America Foundation, a public policy institute. “But this is getting out of hand.”

Congress is notified before major arms sales deals are completed between foreign governments and the Pentagon. While lawmakers have the power to object formally and block any individual sale, they rarely use it.

Representative Howard L. Berman of California, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said he supported many of the individual weapons sales, like helping Iraq build the capacity to defend itself, but he worried that the sales blitz could have some negative effects. “This could turn into a spiraling arms race that in the end could decrease stability,” he said.

The United States has long been the top arms supplier to the world. In the past several years, however, the list of nations that rely on the United States as a primary source of major weapons systems has greatly expanded. Among the recent additions are Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, India, Iraq, Morocco and Pakistan, according to sales data through the end of last month provided by the Department of Defense. Cumulatively, these countries signed $870 million worth of arms deals with the United States from 2001 to 2004. For the past four fiscal years, that total has been $13.8 billion.

In many cases, these sales represent a cultural shift, as nations like Romania, Poland and Morocco, which have long relied on Russian-made MIG-17 fighter jets, are now buying new F-16s, built by Lockheed Martin.

At Lockheed Martin, one of the largest American military contractors, international sales last year brought in about $6.3 billion, or 15 percent of the company’s total sales, up from $4.8 billion in 2001. The foreign sales by Lockheed and other American military contractors are credited with helping keep alive some production lines, like those of the F-16 fighter jet and Boeing’s C-17 transport plane.

Fighter jets made in America will now be flying in other countries for years to come, meaning continued profits for American contractors that maintain them, and in many cases regular interaction between the United States military and foreign air forces, Mr. Lemkin, the Air Force official, said.

Sales are also being driven by the push by many foreign nations to join the once-exclusive club of countries whose arsenals include precise, laser-guided missiles, high-priced American technology that the United States displayed during its invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the Persian Gulf region, much of the rearmament is driven by fears of Iran.

The United Arab Emirates, for example, are considering spending as much as $16 billion on American-made missile defense systems, according to recent notifications sent to Congress by the Department of Defense.

The Emirates also have announced an intention to order offensive weapons, including up to 26 Black Hawk helicopters and 900 Longbow Hellfire II missiles, which can knock out enemy tanks.

Saudi Arabia, this fiscal year alone, has signed at least $6 billion worth of agreements to buy weapons from the United States government — the highest figure for that country since 1993, which was another peak year in American weapons sales, after the first Persian Gulf war.

Israel, long a major buyer of United States military equipment, is also increasing its orders, including planned purchases of perhaps as many as four American-made coastal warships, worth $1.9 billion.

In Asia, as North Korea has conducted tests of a long-range missile, American allies have been buying more United States equipment. One ally, South Korea, has signed sales agreements with the Pentagon this year worth $1.1 billion.

So far, the value of foreign arms deliveries completed by the United States has increased only modestly, reaching $13 billion last year compared with an average of $12 billion over the previous three years. Because complex weapons systems take a long time to produce, it is expected that the increase in sales agreements will result in much greater arms deliveries in the coming years. (All dollar amounts for previous years cited in this article have been adjusted to reflect the impact of inflation.)

The flood of sophisticated American military equipment pouring into the Middle East has evoked concern among some members of Congress, who fear that the Bush administration may be compromising the military edge Israel has long maintained in the region.

Not surprisingly, two of the biggest new American arms customers are Iraq and Afghanistan.

Just in the past two years, Iraq has signed more than $3 billion of sales agreements — and announced plans to buy perhaps as much as $7 billion more in American equipment, financed by its rising oil revenues.

Lt. Col. Almarah Belk, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said that making these sales served the interests of both Iraq and the United States because “it reduces the risk of corruption and assists the Iraqis in getting around bottlenecks in their acquisition processes.”

Over the past three years, the United States government, separately, has agreed to buy more than $10 billion in military equipment and weapons on behalf of Afghanistan, according to Defense Department records, including M-16 rifles and C-27 military transport aircraft.

Even tiny countries like Estonia and Latvia are getting into the mix, playing a part in a collaborative effort by 15 countries, mostly in Europe, to buy two C-17 Boeing transport planes, which are used in moving military supplies as well as conducting relief missions.

Boeing has delivered 176 of these $200 million planes to the United States. But until 2006, Britain was the only foreign country that flew them. Now, in addition to the European consortium, Canada, Australia and Qatar have put in orders, and Boeing is competing to sell the plane to six other countries, said Tommy Dunehew, Boeing’s C-17 international sales manager.

In the last year, foreign sales have made up nearly half of the production at the California plant where C-17s are made. “It has been filling up the factory in the last couple of years,” Mr. Dunehew said.

Even before this new round of sales got under way, the United States’ share of the world arms trade was rising, from 40 percent of arms deliveries in 2000 to nearly 52 percent in 2006, the latest year for which the Congressional Research Service has compiled data. The next-largest seller was Russia, which in 2006 accounted for 21 percent of global deliveries.

Representative Berman, who sponsored a bill passed in May to overhaul the arms export process, said American military sales, while often well intended, were sometimes misguided. He cited military sales to Pakistan, which he said he feared were doing more to stoke tensions with India than combat terrorism in the region.

Travis Sharp, a military policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, a Washington research group, said one of his biggest worries was that if alliances shifted, the United States might eventually be in combat against an enemy equipped with American-made weapons. Arms sales have had unintended consequences before, as when the United States armed militants fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, only to eventually confront hostile Taliban fighters armed with the same weapons there.

“Once you sell arms to another country, you lose control over how they are used,” Mr. Sharp said. “And the weapons, unfortunately, don’t have an expiration date.”

But Mr. Lemkin, of the Pentagon, said that with so many nations now willing to sell advanced weapons systems, the United States could not afford to be too restrictive in its own sales.

“Would you rather they bought the weapons and aircraft from other countries?” he said. “Because they will.”


Astra Air to Air Missile Successfully Test Fired from Chandipur

Dated 13/9/2008

India's indigenously developed, beyond visual range air-to-air missile 'Astra' was successfully test-fired on Saturday from the integrated test range at Chandipur in Orissa. The missile was test-fired from a launcher in the launch pad number 2 of the ITR complex at about 12.05 pm. After data analysis of the flight test, another test may be conducted in the next couple of days if needed, defence sources said.

"Before being made fully operational, the complex missile system would undergo some more trials, though test on its navigation, control, air frame, propulsion and other sub-system have been validated," said a source from the Defence Research Development Organisation at ITR. The single stage, solid fuelled 'Astra' missile "is more advanced in its category than the contemporary BVR missiles and it is capable of engaging and destroying highly manoeuvrable supersonic aerial targets," the source added.

Describing 'Astra' as futuristic missile, DRDO scientists said the weapon could intercept the target at supersonic speeds. Though the exact range of today's trial has not been disclosed, scientists are working to ensure that 'Astra' performs effectively at different altitudes - one cruising at an altitude of 15 km with 90 to 110 km range, another at an altitude up to 30,000 ft, having a range of 44 km and the third at sea level altitude with a range of 30 km.

The last two experimental flight tests of 'Astra' were conducted from the ITR launch complex at Chandipur on March 25 and March 26 in 2007 to study the ballistic performance and control of the missile at a low altitude and shorter range, the sources said. The missile is 3.6 meters long, 7 inches in diameter and has launch weight of about 154 kg, thus it is the smallest weapon of the DRDO's guided missile development programme in terms of size and weight. It is capable of carrying 15 kg warhead.

Initially planned to arm Jaguar, MIG-29 and indigenous light combat aircraft, DRDO officials are now concentrating that after user's trial, the sleek missile would be integrated with Indian Air Force's front line fighter aircraft like Sukhoi-30 MKIs and Mirage-2000. 'Aastra' missile project is guided and led by the Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory under the DRDO.

The prototype of the missile was first tested between May 9 and May 12, 2003 from the ITR at Chandipur.


India needs Harpoons? – Analysis
Written on September 13, 2008 – 4:01 pm | by P. Chacko Joseph |
The Security Cooperation Agency on September 9, 2008, notified US Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sales that includes HARPOON Block II Missiles to India. The possible sale might include 20 AGM-84L HARPOON Block II missiles and 4 ATM-84L HARPOON Block II Exercise missiles. The Harpoon missile was developed to be used in US Navy as the basic anti-ship missile. It has been adapted to be used on submarines, aircrafts and land launchers in addition to surface ships.

AGM-84L HARPOON Block II

AGM-84L is the air launched version of the Harpoons. Boeing advertised specifications of AGM-84L are Length: 3.84 meters, width: 0.34 meters and Weight: 526 kg (all approx). Harpoon Block II is capable of executing both anti-ship and land strike missions. As per the Boeing brochure, conventional anti-ship missions, such as open ocean and near land, the GPS/INS eliminates mid-course guidance errors en route to the target area. The accurate navigation solution coupled with launch system improvements combine to offer better discrimination of target ships from islands, nearby land masses or other ships. These Block II improvements maintain Harpoon’s high hit probability against ships very close to land or traveling in congested sea lanes.

AGM-84L is a mid range antiship missile with a range in excess of 124 kms. This makes is a mid range anti-ship missile. The main competitors are the French Exocet AM-39, with a range of up to 70 km; Russian Kh-35 (AS-20 Kayak) with estimated 130 km range and Swedish RBS-15 Mk. II with 70+ kms range. All of these are sub sonic cruise missiles.

Air Launched Anti-Ship Missles in Indian Service

By mid-80s, No.6 Squadron of the Indian air Force was equipped with the Maritime Jaguar carrying the then British Sea Eagle anti-ship sea-skimming missiles. Indians have been in the arms bazaar for its replacement. Indian Navy Sea Kings can carry these missiles too. India is also in the process of integrating its heavier air platforms like SU-30 MKI with Brahmos anti-ship cruise missiles. Brahmos is a longer range missile and does not fall in the Harpoon class of missiles.

The US notification mentioned that, “India intends to use the HARPOON missiles to modernize its Air Force Anti-Surface Warfare mission capabilities and improve its naval operational flexibility. The missiles will assist the Indian Navy to develop and enhance standardization and operational ability with the United States.” The AGM-84L is probably destined for the maritime Jaguar squadron or the SU-30 MKI’s are to be adapted for maritime strike roles.

The other air assets that can use AGM-84L are the Indian Sea Kings or their successors. Since the US F-18’s can carry Harpoons, Indian Navy MiG-29’s can also theoretically launched from the Air Craft carrier with Harpoon payloads. The Russian AS-20 Kayak though have been offered with MiG-29K, but, somehow does not seem to be an option as even IL38 Sea Dragon upgrades did also not feature these missiles. AGM-84L Block II or its Block III version can be packaged with P-8I (US Navy version P-8A Poseidon) maritime resonance aircraft intended for Indian Navy.

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