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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 23 Sep

Nine soldiers killed in Pakistan suicide bombing

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 (Peshawar)

At least nine soldiers were killed on Monday in a suicide attack in northwest Pakistan, officials said.
Army spokesman Major Murad Khan said a bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into security forces' headquarters located in Madyan area of restive Swat valley in North West Frontier Province.
"Three soldiers were martyred at the spot while six succumbed to their injuries in a hospital," he said.
Earlier, thousands of people protested the killing of three civilians allegedly by army shelling.
The demonstration started after a mortar round hit a house in the Allah Abad area of Swat district, leaving a women and her two children dead, local journalist Nisar Ali Khan said.
Residents transported the victims' bodies to the Mangora city, where the army headquarters is located, some 20 km away. More than 8,000 people joined them, while thousands gathered on the streets to express solidarity with the protestors.
As the rally arrived in Mangora, security forces used teargas to disperse the gathering but angry demonstrators reacted by pelting state-buildings in the city with stones. Several were injured in the hours-long clashes.
Swat, a once popular tourist destination, has seen intensive fighting between government forces and Taliban militants since last October when Islamabad dispatched thousands of troops to quell the rebellion of the followers of radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah.
Fazlullah had launched an armed campaign to enforce Taliban rule in the area. The new government in Islamabad launched peace talks with militants immediately after it took over in March, but resumed their offensive a month later when the negotiations failed to bring peace to the region.

PM to address top services officials Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will address the combined commanders’ conference of the armed forces on November 1. He is expected to outline the government’s expectations from them in the new situation, where India would like to project its military power beyond the country’s shores.

Dr. Singh is likely to flesh out the brief observations from senior members of the government about the projection of military power in the extended neighbourhood to safeguard India’s transit routes of energy and trade as well as provide help to its nationals and people of other countries in distress. Recently, Defence Minister A. K. Antony had observed that the “comfort offered by national boundaries no longer constitutes effective defence.” But he did not elaborate.

An annual event, the conference will see the top brass of all the three services listen to Dr. Singh, Mr. Antony and Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on the nation’s strategic outlook in the coming years. The interaction would be significant since the fate of the nuclear deal with the U.S. would be clear by then. The three services chiefs would also bring their views to the notice of the Prime Minister and other senior members of his Cabinet.

Honeywell to expand India ops
23 Sep, 2008, 0230 hrs IST,Nirbhay Kumar, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Eyeing India’s growing defence budget, US-based aircraft equipment manufacturer Honeywell Aerospace plans to expand its India operations.

The company will increase its headcount by 20% to 6,000 in the next 3-4 years at its design and development centres in Bangalore and Hyderabad. The company is looking at shifting some of its operations within the military aerospace division to the country from its base in the US.

India is Honeywell’s sole manufacturing base for the TPE 331 engines. Under the US company’s licence, public sector Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) manufactures TPE 331 engines which power turbo-prop aircraft. “We are migrating fast. For remaining competitive we have to move to developing countries. We will increase our presence in India in the military aerospace. We plan to employ at least 1,000 engineers more at our research and development centres in India.

Principally, any further expansion of the company in the defence space should take place in India,” Honeywell president (defence and space) Ed Wheeler told ET.

Honeywell outsources about 10-15% of its total manufacturing activities. The company has significant presence in commercial aviation space in China. The Arizona-headquartered Honeywell Aerospace has plans to manufacture navigational radio systems in India. It, would, however, wait for the government to change the existing FDI norms before setting up any major manufacturing unit here.

“It doesn’t make sense for us to be a minority equity partner in any JV. We would like the existing ownership norm to change,” Mr Wheeler added. The company is looking at Indian Air Force’s multi-billion dollar order of re-engineering its F125 engine which powers its Jaguar fighter planes.

The possible order includes re-adaptation of nearly 275 F125 engines for the Jaguar fighters. The IAF has not yet started the process of awarding the contract.

Indian Army recruitment from September 25 to October 5

Staff Reporter

Thiruvananthapuram: The Indian Army will recruit soldiers from seven districts in Kerala at a major ralley to be held here from September 25 to October 5. Youngsters between the age of 17 and a half and 23 from Ernakulam, Kottyam, Idukki, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts can apply.

The minimum qualification for recruitment is 8th standard. The ralley will be held at Chandrasekhar Nair stadium. Applicants will have to register on the first day of the ralley. The dates they will have to undergo their medical and physical tests will be published at the venue the same day. Those who clear the medical and physical tests will have to undergo a written examination at a later date. The number of vacancies for Kerala will be published later.

Beware of touts: Major General

Major General E. J. Kochekkan, General Officer Commanding (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala) urged applicants not to trust touts who assure an army job for money. He said the recruitment process is fair, transparent and free of extraneous influence. The identity of the candidates will be checked at various stages of the test to ensure that there is no impersonation.

The Military Intelligence Directorate, the State Government and the State Police Intelligence are working in tandem to ensure that applicants do not fall prey to middle men. He said those who produce fake certificates of merit for the interview will also be prosecuted. The question papers for the written test are prepared in secrecy at one centre and evaluated independently at another. The Army will publish the merit list once the process is over.

Widening army hierarchy

He said the army was widening its hierarchy to ensure that eligible and veteran officers do not loose key postings because of the lack of vacancies. It was also improving its job profile to ensure that the cream of Indian youth join the army as officers. The Central Government was improving the infrastructure of Sainik and Military Schools and also various Military Academies to attract talented youth. The Army was also offering in-house training for its officers, including Master's courses in Business Administration, to ensure that they do well in life after their period of commission is over.

Joint training

The Major General said "intense jointmanship" was the doctrine of the Indian Defence forces and all its three services were constantly training together to tackle any conceivable situation. The Indian Army has improved the basic fighting and survival kit of its foot soldiers.

Health scheme for veterans

He said the army was concerned about its veterans, their families and children. The extended contributory health scheme offered medical cover to ex-servicemen and their families for a minimum one time contribution ranging from Rs 8000 to Rs 18,000. The scheme would enable veterans to seek specialized care from hospitals empanelled by the Indian Army. Most of these hospitals are the best in the private sector.

Scooters for disabled veterans

The Defence Minister A. K. Antony will handover the keys of specially altered scooters for disabled veterans at a function to be held at RDR auditorium at Idapazhanjy on September 27 morning. He will address a ralley of army veterans at the auditorium. On September 28, the army will exhibit some of its equipment, including a T-72 battle tank, at the Shangumugham beach. On September 27 evening, the army's motorcycle stunt team, "Shweta Ashwa" and three military bands will perform at the Chandrasekhar Nair stadium. Brigadier Cherish Matheson, Military Station Commander, Pangode, was present.

Indian army lodges protest with Pak over ceasefire violation

Jammu, Sept 22 (PTI) Indian army today lodged a "strong" protest with its Pakistani counterpart over a "major" violation of ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.
"We have lodged a strong written protest with Pakistan authorities over the small arms firing by them on an Indian position in Tarkundi forward on Saturday," a senior defence officer told PTI after a meeting of the company commanders of the two sides at Tatapani along the LoC in Poonch district.

"India provided them evidence of firing," he said. Officials yesterday said it was the gravest violation of the ceasefire by Pakistan since the November 2003 truce came into force.

"Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire and opened small arms firing on Indian posts along LoC in Tarkundi forward areas in Poonch district from 1100 hours to 1600 hours Saturday," the officer said.

But there was no loss of life or injury to anyone in the firing, he said adding that Indian troops guarding the LoC also fired a few rounds.

Since January this year, Pakistani troops have violated the five-year-old ceasefire agreement 32 times. The aim of the cross-border firing is to push in armed militants into Jammu and Kashmir.

Nearly 110 infiltration bids have been reported in the last eight months from across the LoC. On Thursday, there was firing from Pakistan across LoC on forward posts of Panjal and Kopra in Sabzian sub-sector of Poonch district.

There were 13 incidents of ceasefire violations along LoC in Poonch sector from May to September this year. Four jawans were killed and 13 injured in Pakistani firing and shelling in the sector. PTI

Major Som Nath Sharma: The Bravest Of The Brave-Part II., By Rav Gill
Continuing with our series on the bravest of the brave, we will salute another great martyr of Indian army. Major Som Nath Sharma was born on 31 January 1923 at Dadh, Kangara Dist: Himachal Pradesh. He came from a well known military family, his father, Major General Amar Nath Sharma, was also a military officer (retired as Director General of the Armed Medical Services) as were his brothers Lt. General Surinder Nath Sharma (retired as Engineer - In - Chief) and General Visha Nath Sharma (retired as Chief Of Army Staff, 1988-1990) and his sister Major Kamla Tewari (Medical Doctor). He did his schooling from prestigious Sherwood College, Nainital, before enrolling at the Prince of Wales Royal Military College in Dehra Dun and later joined the Royal Military Academy. He was commissioned into the 4th Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army (then British India-Army) on 22nd February 1942. He also saw combat during the second world war in the Arakan Operations.

His company was airlifted to Srinagar on 31st October 1947. His right hand in a plaster cast as a result of injuries sustained in the hockey field previously but he insisted on being with his company in combat and was given permission to go. On 3rd November 1947, Major Som Nath Sharma’s Company was ordered on fighting petrol to Badgam Village in the Kashmir Valley. He reached his objective at the first light on 3rd November and took up a position south of Badgam at 1100 hours. The enemy, estimated at 700, attacked his company position with 3-inch mortars, LMGs and rifles. Completely outnumbered and with withering fire being brought to bear on his position from three sides, the company began to sustain heavy casualties.

Fully realizing the gravity of the situation and the direct threat that would result to both Srinagar and the aerodrome. If the enemy attack was not held until reinforcements could be rushed to close the gap leading to Srinagar via Hum Hom, Major Sharma urged his company to fight the enemy tenaciously, with extreme bravery, kept rushing across the open ground to his section exposing himself to heavy and accurate fire to urge them to hold on. Keeping his nerve, he skillfully directed the fire of his section into the ever-advancing enemy. He repeatedly exposed himself to the full fury of enemy fire and laid out cloth air strips to guide our aircraft onto their targets in full view of the enemy. Realizing that casualties had the effectiveness of his light automatics, this officer, whose right hand was in plaster personally commenced filling magazines and issuing them to light machine gunners. A mortal shell landing right in the middle of the ammunition resulted in an explosion that killed him.

Major Sharma’s company held on to his position and the remnants withdrew only when almost completely surrounded. His inspiring example had resulted in the enemy being delayed for six hours, thus gaining time for our reinforcements to get into position at the Hum Hom to stem the tide of the enemy advance. His leadership, gallantry and tenacious defense were such that his men were inspired to fight the enemy outnumbering them by seven to one for six hours, one hour of which was after this gallant officer had been killed.

He has set an example of courage and qualities seldom equaled in the history of the Indian Army. His last message to Brigade Hq, received a few moments before he was killed was: “The enemies are only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to our last man and our last round”. Thus Major Som Nath Sharma was the first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, the highest Indian gallantry award. He was awarded the medal posthumously for his bravery during Indo-Pak war of 1947 during Kashmir operations.

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