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Friday, 31 October 2008

From Today's Papers - 31 Oct

Army allows cops to quiz its officer in Malegaon blast

Agencies Posted: Oct 30, 2008 at 1812 hrs

New Delhi, October 30: A serving lieutenant colonel has come under the scanner for his alleged role in last month's Malegaon blasts and the army has allowed police to question him.

With media speculating on the role of the officer in the blasts during Ramzan that killed six Muslims, the army in a press release today announced "full cooperation" to the police and facilitate his questioning.

The army decision comes on a request from the Anti- Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra Police which has already arrested Ramesh Upadhaya, a retired army major from Pune in connection with the blast.

Interestingly, earlier in the day, Deputy Army Chief Lt Gen S P S Dhillon told reporters that the army headquarters had not received any official communication on the issue and promised to "come clean" by the evening.

"While no formal application has been received from the police authorities, the Army HQ has decided to extend full cooperation and facilitate interaction of the officer with the investigating officials of the police," the army release said.

Accordingly the officer has been moved to Mumbai to facilitate interaction at a mutually convenient place, it said. The officer was posted at the Army Education Corps School in Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh.

The army said further action would be taken as necessitated based upon the outcome of interaction and clarification as planned.

"The Army headquarters will continue to provide all assistance to the investigating agency, as and when required by them," it said.

The release recalled that in the course of probe by police in the Malegaon blasts some inputs of possible linkages of a serving army officer with suspects have come to light.

Accordingly the police sought to interact with the officer concerned and seek clarifications from him so as to proceed with further investigations.

Pakistan tells US envoy to halt missile strikes

PTI | October 29, 2008 | 15:57 IST

Pakistan on Wednesday asked the US to immediately stop missile attacks by drones in its tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, saying they amounted to a violation of the country's sovereignty.

US Ambassador Anne Patterson was summoned to the Pakistan foreign office and a strong protest was lodged against the "continued missile attacks by US drones inside Pakistani territory," an official statement said.

"It was underscored to the ambassador that the government of Pakistan strongly condemns the missile attacks which resulted in the loss of precious lives and property," said the statement issued by the Pakistan foreign office.

"It was emphasised that such attacks were a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and should be stopped immediately. The attacks also undermine public support for the government's counter-terrorism efforts," it said.

A copy of a resolution condemning the missile strikes adopted by the Senate or upper house of parliament on October 27, was handed over to the US envoy.

According to statistics provided in the Senate, 70 cross-border strikes were carried out in the tribal areas over the past two years and 34 of them occurred in the past seven months. These attacks have killed hundreds of people and injured scores, the government said.

The resolution adopted unanimously by the Senate strongly condemned the missile attacks by US drones. Pakistan People's Party leader Raza Rabbani, the leader of the house in the Senate, moved the resolution.

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Indian Army begins talks on security

* Army to discuss tunnelling technology to store war assets

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Top commanders of the Indian Army and the Air Force on Thursday began their four-day bi-annual conferences separately, to discuss national security and review the preparedness of the Indian forces. A conference of navy commanders begins on Saturday to discuss similar issues, with a daylong joint meeting of commanders also scheduled to be held during the event.

Army chief General Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major presided over the meetings of their forces on Thursday.

Lieutenant General SPS Dhillon – the deputy chief of army staff and also the spokesman for the army conference – said the army commanders would take stock of the operational capabilities of their force. “We will address matters of national security, both at the strategic and operational levels ... it will be an intellectual exercise. Deliberations will include progress on decisions taken by previous conferences,” he said.

An army spokesman in Delhi said the four-day meeting would review the national security environment, with the aim to appropriately align efforts and plans. “The scope of exploiting the tunnelling technology to store critical equipment and other war assets will also be taken up at the talks, in addition to an audit and the effective management of defence land,” said the spokesman. Other issues on the menu of the army include the responsiveness of the Military Engineering Service, the optimisation of the human resource capital to improve specialist service needs and capabilities, improvement in content and conduct of basic and advanced military and the training of recruits to meet the challenges of a battlefield environment. The conference will also discuss modalities for the implementation of the AV Singh Committee report that was approved by the cabinet recently and deals with creating more senior-level posts in the three services.

At the Air Force commanders’ meeting, Chief of the Air Staff Fali H Major said the operational plans of the force would now become a lot more effective because of the introduction of new assets. An Indian Air Force spokesman said that the commanders’ meeting would review the ‘Red Flag’ and ‘Desert Eagle’ exercises and a future road map for the Garud Force.

IAF to seek support from satellite system
To guide fighter, transport aircraft
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 30
The Indian Air force (IAF) will seek support from a satellite-based information system to guide its fighter and transport aircraft during war and peacetime deployments in the future.

Sources said the lack of aerospace technology to meet the needs of the IAF and the Arm Forces was more pronounced after the IAF pilots shared information and experiences after participating in two major exercises with Air Force teams from across the world. All countries under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) have real-time network centric battlefield information that is provided to pilots and back-up staff.

The matter was discussed at the IAF commanders’ conference here today. The conference discussed that at present India had the bare minimum network ability and the need was to be totally network centric. This means conveying battlefield information in real time thorough satellites and air borne radars augmented by ground based radars.

India already has stated policy that it will not weaponise the space it will only use the same for communication navigation and surveillance.

Meanwhile in his inaugural address the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali H. Major put forward his vision of the shape of the IAF, in the years to come, and chartered out the future course of action.

In view of the enhanced capabilities being acquired through the induction of new assets, he said the IAF’s operational plans would now become much more effective. He emphasised the need to develop state-of-the-art maintenance practices and facilities.

During the conference, operational challenges before the IAF are discussed. Apart from this flight safety, maintenance, administrative and logistical issues, which impinge on the operational effectiveness of the Air Force, are also taken up for discussions.

Separately, the Army Commanders conference also got under way today. It will take stock of the national security environment with the view to appropriately align its own efforts and initiative, where required.

It will study the following: Scope of exploiting tunnelling technology for developing hardened shelters for storage of critical equipment and other war-fighting assets; audit and effective management of the Defence land; measures for maximising responsiveness of the Military Engineering Service (MES); optimising of human resource capital to enhance specialist service needs and capabilities and improvements in content and the Military training of jawans to meet the challenges of emerging battlefield environment.

Tejas to test fire laser-guided bombs
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
Close on the heels of achieving weaponised status by launching an air-to-air missile, the indigenously developed Tejas light combat aircraft is set to test its capability to hit ground targets.

“We are scheduled to conduct tests to launch ground attack ordnance within four to six weeks,” P.S Subramanyam, director of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) told The Tribune here today.

“Precision weapons as well as free-fall bombs are planned to be used for these tests,” he added.

While the Tejas’s radar has completed ground tests and is set to be integrated with the aircraft, a multi-mode Litening sensor pod, which includes laser ranging, video and infra-red imaging, would be used for target acquisition and precision weapon guidance.

In October last year, the Tejas had successfully launched a R-73 close combat infra-red homing missile during trials off the Goa coast, thereby crossing the critical milestone of multi-organisational and multi-dimensional integration and firing a missile from an airborne platform.

The ADA chief said the IAF had also suggested a change in the Tejas’ engine. The DRDO is still facing problems with developing the Kaveri engine and the General Electric F-404 engine, presently powering the Tejas prototypes as an interim measure, are not powerful enough to meet the operational requirements. “We have short-listed the EJ-200 that powers the European Typhoon and the F-414 that powers the US F-18 as alternatives,” Subramanyam said. “These engines are expected to increase the performance of different flight parameters by 5-15 per cent,” he added.

The naval version of the LCA, also under development, is expected to fly by the middle of the next year. The prototype, which is structurally a little different from the Tejas, has been built and ground runs are scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2009. The Navy has selected Israeli Derby beyond visual range missiles for its variant.

Malegaon Blasts
Top Army officer under scanner
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, October 30
A serving Lt-Col in the Army is under the scanner for providing RDX to the bombers who carried out blasts in Malegaon late last month. According to police sources here, the Army officer is based in Jabalpur and is suspected to have sourced RDX from the ordnance factory there.

Investigators from the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) are in Jabalpur to question the Army official.

Reports from Jabalpur say the questioning of the Lt-Col in the presence of senior Army officials have already begun. The Army Headquarters have, however, refused to confirm the development though a statement is expected later in the day.

The police sought to question the Army official after uncovering his links with Ramesh Upadhyay, a retired major in the Indian army, who has already been arrested in the blast case.

Parity in pension a must

The Sixth Central Pay Commission had given a raw deal to the old pensioners. Why are the civil pensioners not given parity in pension as on January 1, 2006?

The Fifth Pay Commission had given full parity to all old pensioners up to January 1, 1986. Its successor had ignored all the recommendations of its predecessors. These include 1 per cent increase in pension for those who rendered over 33 years of service; restoration of commutation amount after 12 instead of 15 years. Why did it leave the decision on increasing medical allowance to the government? It should be increased to Rs 500 a month.

Moreover, as the average lift span of an Indian is 63 years, pension raise at 80 years is a cruel joke. Pension hike of at least 10 per cent should be granted at the age of 70 or 75 years and another 10 per cent at 80, 85, 90, 95 or 100 years to help pensioners.

SHER SINGH, Ludhiana

Unjust comparison

Arundhati Ghose’s article “Services’ contempt of civil authority is not casual” (Oct 22) has raised issues of profound interest relating to civil-military relations in India.

Her comparison of the Indian Army with the Pakistan Army and ISI is totally unjust. Non-implementation of the Cabinet decision of a cut-off date cannot be considered defiance of the government directive which, nonetheless, reflected the Services’ inability to implement the decision post haste.

Army instructions and orders are by no means time bound. When the Services are engaged with anti-terrorist and anti-subversive forces, a little delay cannot be misconstrued as defiance of government authority. The issuance of an unclassified note, which did not involve tactical or strategic issues, was perhaps the only legitimate way of telling the troops the progress of the pay commission’s recommendations. In fact, it is the onerous duty of all commanders to keep their men informed of the matter.

If timely action is not taken to correct the bureaucratic approach, the incident will always be quoted in future as confrontation of the Services and the civil government which has its inherent dangers.

Brig M. P. SINGH, Chandigarh

Editorial: Tora Tora Tora

Business Standard / New Delhi October 31, 2008, 0:53 IST

This country is not unused to huge delays in many things to do with the government. Still, the latest performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the air force and navy must come as a shock, because the delays in procuring defence equipment are serious enough to compromise India’s defence security. In the past, various ministers have tended to label CAG reports on their areas of responsibility as incomplete and incompetent but, in this case, Defence Minister AK Antony has been honest enough to admit that the CAG’s observations are mostly on the ball. So how about some corrective action?

A summary of the observations is quite chilling — there is a 53 per cent shortage in the number of medium power radars that are required for ground control, and this goes up to as high as 76 per cent when it comes to low-level transportable radars. The root problem is huge delays in the procurement of new radars. None of the air force’s plans for new radars prepared after 1971 (or nearly four decades!) have been approved, so there is ad hoc procurement and deployment; and a very large proportion of even these radars are ready for phasing out. The air force is managing the only way it can under the circumstances — it has cut back on the number of hours that it surveys various locations. Meanwhile, the project to link stand-alone radars so as to detect low-flying aircraft (of the kind that dropped bombs in Purulia) and placing them under one Control and Reporting Centre has not happened nearly two decades after it was conceived. Ditto for the Integrated Air Command and Control System which was approved in 1999, while the shortage of trained pilots varies has varied from 15 per cent to 31 per cent.

As for the navy, the report points to huge slippages in induction plans, so that more than half the submarine fleet has completed more than 75 per cent of its operational life. When the first new submarine is inducted in 2012, 63 per cent of the existing fleet will have completed its prescribed life. As a result of the shortage and the need for refitting, the average operational availability of submarines, the CAG says, is as low as 48 per cent. In which case, the big defence scandal is not pay-offs like Bofors, but the gaping holes in the country’s security cover.

Military Has Key Role to Play in Tackling Climate Change

Last update: 11:18 a.m. EDT Oct. 30, 2008

WASHINGTON, Oct 30, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- World Military Leaders and Climate Experts Meet in Paris

Military leaders and climate experts from around the world will convene next week in Paris, France for "The Importance of Military Organizations in Protecting the Climate: 2008," on 3-5 November 2008.

This workshop intends to provide a forum for leadership announcements and updates; apply lessons from ozone layer protection to climate protection; highlight challenges and progress made by developed and developing countries; summarize emerging and available climate protection technologies suitable for military and civilian applications; and present case studies of military and commercial leadership to protect the climate.

"Military organizations have been instrumental in our fight to protect the ozone layer over the past 20 years," said Durwood Zaelke, Director of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement. "With climate change threatening to disrupt many aspects of society in the near future, including national security, it is imperative we enlist their help to overcome this global problem." Mr. Zaelke will be speaking on "Anticipating & Responding to the Growing Risk of Abrupt Climate Changes."

Other speakers include Marco Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Montreal Protocol; Rear Admiral Niels C. Wang, Kongelige Danske Marine (Royal Danish Navy); Marta Bonifert, Director, Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC); Major General Rajeev Datt, Director General, Land Works and Environment, Indian Army; Dr. Guus Velders, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency; K. Madhava Sarma, former Executive Secretary of the Montreal Protocol; and Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, Director of Strategic Climate Projects at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Military cooperation to protect climate and stratospheric ozone layer is a centerpiece of environmental security," said Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, also Co-Chair of the Montreal Protocol Technology and Economic Assessment Panel and EPA liaison to the Department of Defense on Climate Change.

This conference is being sponsored by the EU Member States Defense Environmental Network, U.S. Department of Defense, United Nations Environment Programme, Institute for Environmental Security, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Institute for Defense Analysis, and Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC). It is the fifth in an international series that began in 1991.

INECE links the environmental compliance and enforcement efforts of more than 4,000 practitioners - inspectors, prosecutors, regulators, parliamentarians, judges, and NGOs - from 150 countries, through training and capacity building programs, raising awareness, and enhancing enforcement cooperation.

Storage of Indian Military Equipment Criticized

By vivek raghuvanshi

Published: 30 Oct 11:02 EDT (15:02 GMT)

NEW DELHI - The Indian Army's storage of weapons, equipment and spares is badly mismanaged, costing millions of dollars in waste and underused equipment, Indian Defence Ministry sources said. The supply chain management needs to be shored up with modernized systems, a senior Defence Ministry official conceded.

The latest report of India's autonomous auditing agency, "Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India" for the year ended March 2007, tabled in the Indian Parliament on Oct. 24, says, "The supply chain management of general stores and clothing in the Army suffered from several systemic deficiencies including lack of coordination between central provisioning authorities and the lower echelons."

The report says the present system is highly centralized, which can make storage and procurement very expensive, according to an Army officer. Some of the clothing and essentials could be purchased at much lower prices, the officer said.

Spares are not being stored properly leading to deterioration, the officer said. The failure of Russian Krasnopol artillery shells, procured in 1999, to perform properly a few years ago was mainly due to poor storage, the officer said.

Army sources said millions of dollars worth of spares are stored in the open and that there is no adequate method to track the inventory, leaving some equipment in storage too long.

The CAG report notes, "The various problems associated with management of the huge inventory of general stores and clothing items at multiple echelons viz, non-availability of stock held at lower echelons, prolonged provisioning and procurement cycles, inadequate needs analysis."

All dressed up, nowhere to go

Harsh V. Pant Posted online: Oct 29, 2008 at 2249 hrs

What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about” then US ambassador to the UN Madeline Albright told the cautious Army Chief of Staff Colin Powell, “if we can’t use it”? She could well have said this to the Indian government, which took more than a month to grant the Indian navy permission to patrol the Gulf of Aden. That finally Indian naval forces will be operating in this crucial waterway is less a testament to Indian government’s strategic assessment than it is to lack of choice. It has become India’s signature that it does not make a decision until no other way is left out to fudge the issue. The hijacking of the Stolt Valor with 18 Indians abroad underlined the need for a proactive stance by the Indian Navy in protecting India’s sea-borne trade as well as deterring piracy, alongside other navies deployed in this crucial region. But until recently, the defence minister explicitly ruled out hot pursuit of pirates “as a policy”, because “it has wider implications.”

There is a broader issue at stake here. A rapidly growing economy has given India the ability to spend on its defence readiness like never before. India has emerged as one of the largest arms buyers in the global market. In line with India’s broadening strategic horizons, its military acquisitions are seeing a marked shift from conventional land-based systems to means of power projection such as airborne refuelling systems and long-range missiles. But it remains unclear under what conditions India would be willing to use force in defending its interests.

If at all some suggestions are being made, they have verged on being facile. For example, ruling out sending of troops to Afghanistan, the Indian army chief said some time back that “India takes part only in UN approved/ sanctioned military operations and the UN has not mandated this action in Afghanistan so there is no question of India participating in it.” The army chief’s statement was not only factually inaccurate but also demonstrated a fundamental misreading of Indian security policy. Like other nations, India has tended to accept or ignore the UN as per national interest. The Indian armed forces remain obsessed with China and Pakistan while the civilian leadership lacks a substantive and sophisticated understanding of the role of force in foreign policy.

Military power remains central to the course of international politics as force retains its role as the

final arbiter among states in an anarchical international system. A state’s diplomatic posture will lack effectiveness if it is not backed by a credible military posture. In the words of Thomas Schelling, “like the threat of a strike in industrial relations, the threat of divorce in a family dispute, or the threat of bolting the party at a political convention, the threat of violence continuously circumscribes international politics.” Few nations face the kind of security challenges that confront India. Yet, since independence, the military was never seen as a central instrument in the achievement of national priorities. Even though policy-makers themselves had little knowledge of critical defence issues, the defence forces had little or no role in the formulation of defence policy till 1962, when even Nehru was forced to concede that “military weakness has been a temptation, and a little military strength may be a deterrent.” A state’s legitimacy is tied to its ability to operate effectively in an international strategic environment. India lacked this clarity.

A lot of attention is being paid to the fact that India will be spending around $40 billion on military modernisation in the next five years and is buying hardware useful for projecting power beyond its shores, such as C-130 transport planes, airborne refuelling tankers, and aircraft carriers. But such purchases in and of themselves do not imply a clear sense of purpose. The armed forces are today operating in a strategic void and under weak leadership, unable to fully comprehend the changing strategic and operational milieu. At a time when Indian interests are becoming global in nature, India must update its approach. It is up to the civilian leadership to come up with a credible policy on the use of armed forces and it is up to the military leadership to provide them with sound guidance. India has always been a nation of great ambition. But it is not clear if the Indian elites understand the implications of their nation’s rise. India can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines of unfolding global events that impinge directly on vital Indian interests. What is the point of building muscle, if we shy away from a fight.

The writer teaches at King’s College, London

Army concerned at attacks on Indian peacekeepers in Congo

October 30th, 2008 - 7:54 pm ICT by IANS -

New Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) Concerned over two separate attacks on Indian peacekeepers in the Congo in which an officer was injured, the Indian Army has urged the UN to ensure that corrective measures were taken.“The attack on our soldiers in Congo has been taken note of at the highest level. We have informed the United Nations Security Council as well. We are awaiting a decision from the UN. This is their mission and we cannot influence our soldiers,” the Indian Army’s deputy chief, Lt. Gen. S.S. Dhillon, told reporters here Thursday.

Both incidents occurred in the past week, sources in the Army Headquarters here said.

Their genesis lay in the fighting that had broken out in the eastern North Kivu province that led to the Uruguayan troops deployed there pulling out. Senegalese troops were then asked to proceed to the area but refused to move in. The Indian troops were then sent to the area and the local residents, angered over the pull out of the Uruguayan troops, began pelting stones at them as they arrived.

A lieutenant colonel received slight injuries in the stone pelting but did not require hospitalisation.

Four days ago, rebels fired at two armoured personnel carriers of the Indian contingent while they were providing security cover to the civilians in the area but there were no casualties.

The firing occurred during a battle between government troops and the rebels.

The Indian Army, with 4,500 personnel, is the largest contributor to the 17,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo.

With rebel forces led by Tutsi warlord Laurent Nkunda now headed for North Kivu’s capital Goma after overrunning Rutshuru town on Tuesday, there is danger of the Indian peacekeepers getting sucked directly into the conflict.

The UN deployment in the Congo is termed a chapter seven mission under which the Blue Berets can initiate fire if this is warranted. Most other UN deployments around the world are termed chapter six missions, which means the troops can only fire back in self-defence.

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