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Wednesday, 26 November 2008

From Today's Papers - 26 Nov

Navy delegation in Russia

Moscow, November 25
A top-level Indian delegation led by Vice-Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral P R Suthan is here to review ongoing naval projects, including trials and delivery of Nerpa nuclear attack submarine to be leased to India next year and the refit of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier.

Vice Admiral Suthan's visit is taking place at a time when New Delhi and Moscow are locked in financial wrangling over the refit of Gorshkov which is far behind the delivery schedule.

The Russians are demanding additional $2 billion for the refitting and work on the carrier is almost at a standstill.

The Gorshkov cost escalation demand could include hidden costs for the Nerpa
nuclear submarines as the purchase of both the systems was taken up as a
package deal.

If the deals fall through, Russian Defence Ministry said, it will induct both the vessels into its Navy under the force modernisation programme till 2015 and foot the bill.

The failure of the Gorshkov deal and its larger package including lease of two Akula-II nuclear attack submarines of Project 'Shchuka B' would be a major setback to the Indian Navy's strategic plans to project its might in the blue waters and putting in place the nuclear triad of 'credible deterrence'.

The Navy delegation was also on a fact-finding mission following a recent mishap on board a Nerpa submarine that claimed 20 lives.

Although the Indian Embassy here is tight-lipped about Suthan's Russia trip, the local media has reported about his visit to Yantar Shipyards in Kaliningrad to inspect the ongoing construction of three additional Project 11356 'Krivak IV' class stealth frigate ordered by the Indian Navy under a $1.6 billion deal. — PTI

Navy's feat: Heroic bravery or unwise adventurism?

Natteri Adigal 25 November 2008, Tuesday

MEDIA OUTFITS of India, without exception, have been showering accolades on the brave sailors of Indian Navy. Impressionable citizens are enjoying another bout of euphoria. India has arrived as a premier naval power. It is flexing muscles for the cause of global welfare by fighting to eradicate the scourge of high seas piracy.

For people looking for some avenue to feel high amidst stark realities of utter chaos and misery, it has come as sunshine. A scan of reports emanating from outside India, however, raises some disturbing questions. The Indian Navy's feat of sinking a vessel on November 19, off Somalia may turn out to be unwise adventurism. Far from what the establishment makes it out to be, it may have put India in the horns of a dilemma.

Shorn of all patriotic adulation that the Indian media often employs to be on the 'right side' of the establishment, there is not much to write home about. The 'action' seen by Indian Navy after a long interlude of 37 years since the Bangladesh war has been reported as under:

Commander Nirad Sinha claimed in a briefing: "INS Tabar encountered a pirate vessel south west of Oman with two speedboats in tow. This vessel was similar in description to the mother vessel mentioned in various piracy bulletins. INS Tabar closed in on the vessel and asked her to stop for investigation. Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of the vessel with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers. The vessel continued threatening calls and subsequently fired upon INS Tabar."

It was later clarified that the crew of INS Tabar 'requested that the pirate vessel stop to allow a search' but its crew responded with a 'threat to sink her if she came any closer'. Tabar fired on the crew, which the Navy described as retaliatory strike. Even before being fired at, Tabar 'defended herself by firing back' and a large explosion occurred on the 'pirate vessel'.

The Navy speculated that the explosion may have been caused by the 'weapons cache of the pirates' but refrained from disclosing its logic in assuming vessel to be of pirates. The attack continued for about three to four more hours and resulted in the sinking of what was claimed to be the pirate's 'mother ship'. INS Tabar also forced the abandonment of another vessel, from which 'pirates' managed to escape via a speedboat under the cover of darkness.

These claims are taken with a pinch of salt by independent analysts, in the context of allegations of 'fake encounters' enacted by the cops and officers of the armed forces within the territory. The government has had to refer several incidents, after concerted public outcry at attempts at suppressing them, to courts for transparent investigation. Quite a few of the 'adventures' turned out as stage-managed encounters, done in the quest for being decorated, awarded and rewarded with promotions.

MK Bhadrakumar, a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), is among the very few knowledgeable Indians who refused to be overwhelmed by high-pressure propaganda. He has worked on assignments in the erstwhile Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey and is too rational to buy foreign ministry-speak at face value, unlike typical intellectuals of the country, ready to become proud at the drop of a hat.

While terming the reports as nothing more than a 'carefully worded navy statement', he has drawn attention to some facts. These have been conveniently buried under the carpet to drum up euphoria. Firstly, warships from at least nine countries are currently patrolling the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Next, there is no vessel class called 'mother ship'. Pirates use high speed gunboats to overtake and board their targets and use any vessel – maybe their own fishing boats or a captured ship – to base these gunboats in.

Under United Nations Security Council resolution 1816, passed in June, only states co-operating with Somalia's transitional government are permitted, for a period of six months, to enter its territorial waters to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea. Only these 'international forces' are allowed to use all necessary means in a manner consistent with relevant provisions of international law. Even they are not supposed to lord over the territory, sinking vessels that refuse to 'obey' them. Moreover, there are serious differences on the composition of the 'transitional government' itself.

INS Tabar (the word roughly translates to a primitive axe) is a stealth frigate with an arsenal of Barak missiles. It is of the class to be armed with BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles. Only on October 23, did India mark its presence, with this frigate, alongside Russia, Spain, France, South Korea, the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Malegaon accused scream torture, ATS feels the pain

Toral Varia

CNN-IBN

THE REAL CULPRIT? Investigations so far reveal Purohit was the leader of the pack.

New Delhi/Mumbai: As the Malegaon accused, Lt Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, prepare to fight the long legal battle ahead, the Anti-Terrorism Squad is also treading the road less travelled.

Investigations so far reveal Purohit was the leader of the pack.

The mastermind

* Purohit brought the Sadhvi's organisation Vandemataram Samiti and Abhinav Bharat together.

Purohit also brought self styled guru Dayanand Pandey into Abhinav Bharat.

# He wooed disgruntled RSS and Bajrang Dal men into joining Abhinav Bharat to fight elections along with setting up an armed wing.

But even with a clear picture about the group, ATS' case still largely depends on a man called Ramji. Ramji allegedly planted the bombs in Malegaon along with his aide Sandeep Dhange.

With the ATS still on a lookout for the duo, investigators are struggling to answer some key questions.

ATS claims to have mounting evidence in the form of recorded telephonic communication the accused, all recorded after the Malegaon blasts. Investigators claim that they discussed details about the blasts and how to avoid arrest.

Forensic science report which directly links sadhvi to the bike used in the Malegaon blast.

Witnesses say several meetings among the accused were held to discuss the conspiracy.

Bank statements that prove fund transfer of large amounts in the Abhinav Bharat account.

A quick check of the evidence discussed so far in the court by the ATS suggests that it does have evidence but only pertaining to the conspiracy and innumerable meetings held at multiple locations.

Legal experts say, it is mandatory to arrest at least one person physically involved in the execution of the conspiratory action.

Meanwhile even as the sources confirmed the possible involvement of more Armymen in the Malegaon blast, ATS chief remained non-committal.

With mounting political pressure and intense media scrutiny, the ATS will have to take a very sure and guarded approach to stand its ground.

(Inputs from Meetu Jain)

Lankan army kills scores of Tamil Tigers

PTI | November 25, 2008 | 19:09 IST

Stepping up the momentum of their advance to capture the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam stronghold of Kilinochchi, the Lankan troops on Tuesday claimed to have killed scores of rebels after smashing through a string of LTTE bunkers.

Government troops of the 53 Division, advancing from Kilaly village near Jaffna, carried out the ambush in the morning, a defence ministry official said.

"Scores of LTTE cadres were killed in the attack, defence sources in Kilaly said citing intercepted terror radio communication channels," he said.

Also advancing from the south, troops marched into Olumadu in Mullaittivu district, an LTTE stronghold, in pouring rain.

Olumadu is located 4 km north-east of Mankulam on the Mankulam-Mullaittivu highway and falls in the area just on the outskirts of Kilinochchi.

The official did not give any casualty figures, merely saying that fierce fighting had lasted a few days.

Elsewhere, security forces continued their march towards the LTTE nerve-centre from the Jaffna side.

Sources said the Tigers were frequently reinforcing cadres deployed in areas along Muhamalai and Kilaly fronts, to keep the Lankan army in check.

The sources said heavy fighting was going on at three fronts outside Kilinochchi and that supplies, rations and buildup were in full sway apparently for a final lunge by the government troops on the Tiger bastions.

Quoting sources, the ministry said the LTTE was also busy building more earth bunds in Kilinochchi.

Troops of 53 and 55 Divisions engaged in fresh offensive are consolidating the areas captured while conducting further dominations ahead of their defences in Muhamalai, Kilaly and Nagarkovil areas.

Meanwhile, intercepted radio transmissions have revealed that a senior LTTE leader called Stanley was killed during the recent battle.

Army snipers deployed in Karadiankadu in the north also gunned down an LTTE militant on Monday afternoon, the army said.

In the meantime, troops operating in the north of Akkarayankulam in Kilinochchi, Andankulam in north-eastern Welioy conducted search and clear operations in Andankulam area and recovered five anti-personnel mines and two improvised explosive devices.

At Vavuniya, the International Committee of Red Cross took away the dead bodies found by the security forces, the army said.

Meanwhile, two soldiers were killed in eastern Batticaloa after suspected LTTE fighters detonated a claymore mine, the army said, adding that cordon and search operations are now on in the area.

Navy sends fact-finding mission to Moscow

Vinay Shukla in Moscow | November 25, 2008 | 18:52 IST

An Indian Navy delegation travelledto Moscow on a fact-finding mission following an accident onboard a Russian nuclear submarine that was to be leased to it, even as shipbuilders blamed the inherent flaws of central control panel of the vessel for the mishap. They also said "serious work" was required to make its fire-extinguishing system "foolproof".

"New modification of 'Molibden' central control panel is under trial on board the Nerpa submarine, for the Indian variant. This is a 'raw' system, which even before had malfunctioned," mechanical engineer of the Amur Shipyard Sergei Stolnikov told popular youth daily Komsomolskaya Pravda.

A high-level delegation led by Vice Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Raman Prem Suthan, isin Moscowon a fact-finding mission as the Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine was to be leased to the Indian Navy next summer.

Stolnikov, who was member of the pre-delivery trial team of the shipyard, 17 technical staff of which were among the casualties caused by the release of fire suppressing toxic Freon gas, believes that the control system was probably "raw", because its developer had died this summer and for three months the system was unattended.

"Just before the sea going trials it was believed to have been put in order: I think, on November 8 the fire safety system was triggered due to malfunctioning of Molibden," he added.

In an interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda, Gennady Bagin, Director of Vostok plant, a unit of Amur Shipyard, said "Molibden-I" (Indian variant), which is a centralised control system of the entire vessel, requires serious improvement, specially its fire-control system and sensors need to be made "foolproof".

A sailor of the crew has been charged with "tampering" the temperature gauge of the fire-control system in the sleeping compartment of the submarine, resulting in the deaths of 20 people and injuries to 21 in the Russian Navy's worst accident since August 2000, when 118 submariners on board the Kursk had died.

"The sensor panels of fire-safety system are not even covered with traditional protective glass, which has to be broken before activating it. Besides this the Central Command post can not see anyone manipulating the sensor panels in the compartments. This is a designer's flaw and needs to be rectified," the shipyard official said.

Rape of IAF officer's wife: 2 army men arrested

PTI | November 25, 2008 | 13:49 IST

Police on Tuesday arrested two army personnel for allegedly raping the wife of an IAFofficer at the Western Command hospital in Haryana's Panchkula district.

"The two main accused -- Hottam Singh and Iftikhar Khan, working as nursing attendants at the army hospital, have been arrested and further investigations are on," Senior Superintendent of Police (Panchakula) Sandeep Khirwar told PTI over phone.

Three persons, including the arrested, were booked for the crime after a case was registered based on a complaint filed by the 35-year-old woman against them on Sunday.

A defence spokesperson said the two main accused belonged to Army Medical Corps and were posted at the hospital which falls in Chandimandir, the Army's Western Command headquarters.

Panchkula police have moved a formal request to the army, seeking the custody of the two accused as they are army personnel.

The police had also recorded the victim's statement before the judicial magistrate in Panchkula.

Police said that in her complaint the victim, who is a native of Bihar and is currently residing in Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory quarters at Panchkula, alleged that she had gone to the hospital in Chandimandir on Saturday for physiotherapy.

Once she was through with the treatment, she went to see one of her relatives who was admitted in the hospital. On her way, she was dragged to a nearby room by three men who raped her.

While Hottam Singh, a native of Madhya Pradesh is working as the documentation in-charge of the neuro-surgical ward, Iftikhar, a resident of Bihar, joined the nursing staff of the same ward around seven months back.

The victim, in her complaint, alleged that Singh also asked her not to disclose the incident to anyone and threatened that it had been recorded and the footage would be made public in case she did so.

The woman has been living with her son after her husband was recently transferred to Jamnagar Air Force Station in Gujarat.

A FIR had been registered under various sections of the IPC, police said.

Nato assures Pakistan of respecting its sovereignty

By Iftikhar A. Khan


ISLAMABAD, Nov 24: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has assured Pakistan that Nato forces respected its sovereignty and has no mandate to cross into the country.

This was stated by Nisar A. Memon at a press conference on Monday on his return from a visit to the United Kingdom and Belgium at the head of a delegation of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence.

He said the delegation told the Nato officials that drone attacks inside Pakistan were a serious cause of concern because they infringed on the sovereignty of the country and caused collateral damage and sufferings to innocent people.

The officials were told that the attacks were giving a bad name to the US and its allies operating in Afghanistan.

The delegation also raised the issue of tremendous increase in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan without any check by Nato forces, resulting in intensifying terrorist operations in the region.

The role being played by Indian consulates and forces in Afghanistan was also raised.

The Nato officials said that the Afghan police and army were being trained to enable them to combat terrorism and maintain law and order in their country.

They said that Nato and Isaf forces would remain in Afghanistan till the time the Karzai government required them to be there to meet security challenges.

The delegation met three assistant and deputy secretaries general of Nato who gave presentation on Nato operations.

The delegation met other officials and visited the Nato Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons.

Mr Memon said that in the UK, the delegation met Ms Baroness Taylor, Minister for International Defence and Security, who said that the British government was pleased that supply routes to Isaf in Afghanistan had been reopened.

The delegation raised the issue of drone attacks and expressed Pakistan's serious concern.At the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the delegation was briefed on UK's policy on Afghanistan and the role of Isaf.

Mr Memon conveyed to the British authorities that it was time for the allied forces to do more because Pakistan was playing its role and had sacrificed lives, both of security personnel and civilians.

He said the House of Commons defence committee was informed that the parliament of Pakistan had passed a unanimous resolution which clearly stated that the war on terror would not be only a military operation but would also include political content. The resolution condemned violations of the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan. It called for holding dialogue for solving the problem.

The delegation comprised Syed Dilawar Abbas, Saadia Abbasi, Rukhsana Zuberi, Asif Jatoi, Kamran Murtaza, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Naeem Hussain Chattha, Tariq Azeem Khan and the committee's secretary Iftikhar Ullah Babar.

Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor on a visit to South Africa and Botswana

General Deepak Kapoor, Chief of Army Staff is visiting South Africa and Botswana on a goodwill visit from 24-28 Nov 08. The visit assumes special significance in the light of enhanced defence cooperation between India-South Africa and Indo-Botswana. This visit will further boost the South-South cooperation (IBSA Forum) of which India and South Africa are the founder members.

India has historic and traditional relations with South Africa and Botswana. With both countries India has maintained strong diplomatic relations in consonance with out Foreign Policy. The friendship with these countries is bas3ed on common ideals and principles arising from a significant legacy of social, cultural and political struggles along with a shared commitment to democracy. Defence cooperation as a part of defence diplomacy, has been an important tool towards enhancing th is friendship.

The defence cooperation with South Africa got a boost on signing MoU on Cooperation in the field of Defence Equipment in 19ave enhanced in the field of attendance on courses, exchange of observers in exercises, visits and equipment cooperation. Cooperation between the two armies have enhanced in the field of training, participation of observers in exercises and visits.

Defence cooperation with Botswana commenced with signing of Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on establishment of training team in 1978. With signing of MoA, an Indiana Army Training Team (IATT) was established in Botswana in 1978 and since then IATT has done a yeoman service of training Botswana Defence Forces into a professional army. Subsequently cooperation between the two armies have enhanced in the field of attendance on courses, exchange of observers in exercises, visits and equipment cooperation.

During his five day official visit General Kapoor will be meeting South African and Botswana MOD officials and senior military officials. He will visit South African Engineer formation, Armour School, South African Army College and other headquarters of South African National Defence Forces. In Botswana, COAS will be visiting Botswana Defence Forces Ground Force Command and Logistics Command. COAS will also review activities of Indian Army Training Team. During his interaction with senior MOD and military officials of South Africa and Botswana, COAS will be discussing issues to enhance military cooperation. The visit will further the defence cooperation with these nations and cement India's ties with the South Africa and Botswana that are time-tested and based on continuity, trust and mutual understanding.

Why the World Still Needs America's Military Might

by Peter Brookes

Heritage Lecture #1102

Sometimes you don't miss something until it's gone. While this old chestnut is most often rolled out when referring to a lost but seemingly troubled love, or a trying but departed friend, it might be said for American military might as well.

Indeed, many are predicting that we're entering the twilight of American power--American preemi­nence. This notion is no doubt reinforced by the cur­rent economic troubles, a contagion that seemingly began in the United States and has since spread around the world.

While it might be true that American power has peaked in a comprehensive way, certainly in relative terms, especially with the rise of China, Russia, India, and Brazil, I would suggest that American power, particularly its military dominance, might be sorely missed in the years to come if America is indeed on the wane--a refrain, I'll remind you, that we've heard before.

For those who may greet a decline in American power with glee, I admonish you: Be careful what you wish for. You'll be sorry when it's gone. Let's conjure up for a moment what a world without American mil­itary power might look like.

The Korean Peninsula

Let's start with the Korean Peninsula.

Ever since the cease-fire agreement between North Korean and Chinese forces and the United Nations was concluded in 1953, the United States military has been the predominant force reducing the risk of another conflict on the divided Korean Peninsula. Indeed, even today--55 years hence--an American four-star general leads the Combined Forces Com­mand of U.S. and Republic of Korea forces that keep the peace against a North Korean regime that still harbors dreams of uniting--militarily if neces­sary--the North and South under its despotic rule.

Nearly 30,000 U.S. soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder with 650,000 South Korean forces across a surely misnamed demilitarized zone (DMZ)-- arguably the last vestige of the Cold War--deter­ring over one million, ideologically driven North Korean troops. Even though peace has not been officially declared between the two nations, the odds of a conflict breaking out across the DMZ remain slim due to America's commitment to stabil­ity on the peninsula.

I would suggest that absent the presence of American forces and the military might behind it, including an extension the U.S.'s nuclear umbrella to South Korea, the history of the past 50 years might be quite different from what has been record­ed today. A second Korean war has been--and still is--a distinct but unfortunate possibility, and I would speculate that a new war would be even more horrific than the last, if that is possible.

In March 2008, a North Korean news reader on state television said that if the South Korean govern­ment made even the slightest gesture of an attack, "Everything will be in ashes, not just a sea of fire, if our advanced pre-emptive strike once begins."

Considering that the capital of South Korea-- Seoul, a city of more than 10 million--lies within range of 10,000 pieces of Korean People's Army artillery, which could rain an estimated one million rounds on the city in the opening hours of a con­flict, I think we have to take that commentator at his word.

Japan

And what about Japan?

American military might has been primarily responsible for Japanese security since the end of World War II. This has not only allowed Japan to prosper economically and politically--like South Korea and Germany, I might add--but has also kept Japan at peace with its neighbors.

The presence of U.S. forces and the American nuclear deterrent has also kept Japan from exercis­ing a nuclear option that many believe it might take, considering the rise of China, North Korea's nuclear breakout, its advanced scientific and technical capa­bilities, and indigenous nuclear power industry--a producer of a significant amount of fissile material from its reactors.

Political and historical considerations aside, many believe that Japan could quickly join the once-exclu­sive nuclear weapons club if it chose to do so, result­ing in unforetold challenges to regional security.

China and Taiwan

Further to the south, what about stability across the Taiwan Strait?

We know that China is undergoing a major mil­itary buildup, especially involving its power projec­tion forces--i.e., air force, navy, and ballistic missile forces, all aimed at Taiwan. Indeed, today Beijing has the world's third largest defense budget and the world's fastest growing peacetime defense budget, growing at over 10 percent per year for over a decade. It increased its defense budget nearly 18 percent annually over the past two years.

I would daresay that military tensions across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China would be much greater today if not for an implied commitment on the part of the United States to prevent a change in the political status quo via military means. China hasn't renounced the use of force against its neighbor and rival, Taiwan, a vibrant, free-market democracy. It is believed by many analysts that absent American military might, China would quickly unite Taiwan with the main­land under force of arms.

In general, the system of military alliances in Asia that the United States maintains provides the basis for stability in the Pacific, since the region has failed to develop an overarching security architecture such as that found in Europe in NATO.

Europe, Russia, and NATO

And what of Europe?

I hope we can all agree that NATO was a critical element in the security of Europe during the Cold War. In fact, I would argue that American military power was a sine qua non of NATO's success during the Cold War.

Today, the likelihood of a major war in Europe is thankfully just about nil, but troubling issues such as Bosnia and Kosovo have required American mil­itary participation--and leadership. But what about the resurgence of Russia on the edges of NATO and the European Union? Which direction will Moscow take in the years to come? It's not fully clear, but some of the signs are quite ominous.

We do know that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised a nearly 30 percent increase in the Russian defense budget for 2009 for reasons that can only be associated with a desire by Moscow to exert increasing leverage in its tradition­al sphere of influence--and perhaps beyond. We also know Russia has conducted more ballistic mis­sile tests this year than any year since the end of the Cold War.

We further know that the Kremlin has planted a flag on the seabed at the North Pole, asserting claims to an area the size of France, Germany, and Italy combined--an area which may hold one-third of the world's total undiscovered energy reserves. Russian action in Georgia and threats against Ukraine aren't comforting, either.

Considering the weak defense spending in Europe, who will be able to stand up to this new Russia if necessary? I would suggest that, absent American military might, NATO--or any future European defense force--might be little more than a paper tiger in the shadow of the Russian bear.

And who will provide balance to Iran's rise in the Middle East? It's my view that Iran has grand ambi­tions for itself, including regional hegemony, attempting to exert its influence across the Middle East from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.

Which country's military is capable of projecting sufficient power into that part of the world to pre­vent such a potentially destabilizing turn of events? Only the United States.

The same is true for the U.S.-NATO operations in Afghanistan and Coalition operations in Iraq today. Few--if any--countries today could sustain power-projection operations for so long so far from their shores.

Beyond Geopolitics

And beyond geopolitics?

The United States military has also been a central player in the attempts to halt weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile prolifera­tion. In 2003, President Bush created the Prolifera­tion Security Initiative (PSI), an initiative to counter the spread of WMD and their delivery systems throughout the world. The U.S. military's capabili­ties help put teeth in the PSI, a voluntary, multilat­eral organization of 90-plus nations which uses national laws and joint military operations to fight proliferation.

While many of the PSI's efforts aren't made pub­lic due to the potential for revealing sensitive intel­ligence sources and methods, some operations do make their way to the media. For instance, accord­ing to the U.S. State Department, the PSI stopped exports to Iran's missile program and heavy water- related equipment to Tehran's nuclear program, which many believe is actually a nuclear weapons program.

In the same vein, the United States is also devel­oping the world's most prodigious-ever ballistic missile defense system to protect the American homeland, its deployed troops, allies, and friends, including Europe. While missile defense has its crit­ics, it may provide the best answer to the spread of ballistic missiles and the unconventional payloads, including the WMD, they may carry.

Unfortunately, the missile and WMD prolifera­tion trend is not positive. For instance, 10 years ago, there were only six nuclear weapons states. Today there are nine members of the once-exclusive nucle­ar weapons club, with Iran perhaps knocking at the door. Twenty-five years ago, nine countries had bal­listic missiles. Today, there are 28 countries with ballistic missile arsenals of varying degrees.

This defensive system will not only provide deter­rence to the use of these weapons, but also provide policymakers with a greater range of options in pre­venting or responding to such attacks, whether from a state or non-state actor.

Perhaps General Trey Obering, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency, said it best when describing the value of missile defense in countering the grow­ing threat of WMD and delivery system prolifera­tion: "I believe that one of the reasons we've seen the proliferation of these missiles in the past is that there has historically been no defense against them."

In 2007, the United States also created a new command called AFRICOM--Pentagonese for Afri­can Command. Its purpose is to use American forc­es and resources to promote peace and stability across the vast African continent. The U.S. military's mission is to support and train armed forces in Afri­can states and regional security arrangements so they can appropriately respond to threats, evolving crises, or even humanitarian disasters such as the genocide in Darfur.

In addition, US defense intelligence assets, espe­cially satellites, provide critical information to allied governments and the international community, including early warning of crises and ongoing sup­port during emergencies or hostilities. For example, U.S. intelligence collection was critical in the Colombian army's rescue of 15 hostages held by the FARC guerilla group, including a former presiden­tial candidate, this past summer.

The reach of the U.S. military was also critical in providing aid to tsunami victims in Southeast Asia and the devastating earthquake in Pakistan. The American medical ship USNS Mercy and the amphibious ship USS Kearsarge conduct numerous humanitarian missions around the world every year, bringing much-needed care to those in need.

Moreover, the U.S. Navy patrols the world's oceans--free of charge, I might add--providing freedom of the seas and protecting against sea ban­ditry and piracy, which is a growing problem, espe­cially in Southeast Asia and off the Horn of Africa. Indeed, should Iran attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway which carries 20 per­cent-40 percent of the world's oil supply, which it has threatened to do on numerous occasions, the U.S. Navy is the only maritime force in the world today that could effectively intervene to keep it open--or would be willing to do so.

In addition to stationing more than 150,000 of its brave young men and women overseas in Europe and Asia, often far from kith and kin, in pursuit of peace and stability, the American military also sup­ports the over 100,000 troops involved in U.N. peacekeeping operations around the globe.

Not only does the U.S. provide the lion's share of the U.N. budget, including peacekeeping, but it also provides soldiers; arguably more important, Ameri­ca's armed forces provide critical logistics, strategic lift, and intelligence support to these forces. In fact, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said that U.N. peacekeeping just can't be done without Amer­ican involvement.

Lastly, U.S. military research has supported the development of new technologies which often find their way to benefit the civilian sector--technolo­gies which directly and indirectly support stability. These innovations include information technology, such as the creation of the Internet, communica­tions, aviation, space systems, medicine, nuclear and alternative fuels, and even clean water technol­ogy--a critical need in the developing world today.

An Unsought Duty

Of course, in my view, this is just a cursory reflection on the importance of U.S. military power in the world today. There is also the history that stretches back to the liberation of Kuwait, not to mention the sacrifices in blood and treasure made in the last century during the Cold War and the con­flicts in Vietnam, Korea, Europe, and Asia.

The United States has achieved a particular fate-- one I'm not sure it would have chosen for itself. Fol­lowing great wars in Europe and Asia in the last cen­tury, we--the Americans--found ourselves fully enmeshed in the fate of the international order.

To paraphrase a Founding Father, James Madison, Americans would much prefer to be the friends of liberty everywhere but the guardians only of our own. And to quote a former U.S. Senator, "America is not an imperial power, but it has become, in the absence of other alternatives, a kind of managerial power. It is no longer safe to ignore in principle what necessity has required us to accept in practice."

Unfortunately, in the role of helping to provide for global stability, as a practical matter, there is nobody else to relieve the United States of this duty--at least for the moment. While some would like to see the United Nations in this role, it has been nothing short of a disappointment. The U.N., in its current configuration, is fundamentally inca­pable of carrying out its original purposes--pre­venting and responding to aggression. In truth, while the U.N. means well, and often does well especially on humanitarian issues, it is hamstrung by its own diversity of values and interests, leaving it often quite feckless in dealing with the security matters that everyone agrees require action.

Of course, there are others who could fill a void left by the Americans. China and Russia seem to be aspiring to such a role, although I would assert that there are widespread and serious concerns about either of them being in that position of glo­bal influence.

An Enduring Role

Obviously, military might is not the answer to every problem, but over the millennia it has often played a central, if regrettable, role in international politics. As one American statesman said, diploma­cy without the credible threat of military force is nothing but a prayer.

Unfortunately, I think that's correct.

To this end, America should seek consensus before making a decision, understanding that this end state is not always possible, while other nations should recognize that they must also bear the bur­den of keeping the international order upright and shipshape. Unfortunately, American military might has become an international public good: one which, in my estimation, is greatly underappreciat­ed, but one that many would like to command-- without the attendant sacrifices in blood and trea­sure, of course.

The United States is not the world's policeman; nor does it want to be. We have no right to force others to believe as we believe. But I hope I am not alone in believing that freedom and democracy are superior to such dark alternatives as oppression and tyranny.

The fact is that, like it or not, for the moment, there isn't any better deal out there--as we say in the States--for promoting global stability based on our transatlantic shared values of democracy and human rights than the United States of America. While many may wish for the demise of American military power, I'll warn you one more time: Be careful what you wish for. I promise you, you'll miss it when it's gone.

Peter Brookes is a Senior Fellow for National Security Affairs at The Heritage Foundation. He is also a member of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. These remarks were delivered at a meeting of the University Philosophical Society at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

IAF to adopt new test for pilots by 2009
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 25
Changing needs in the battlefield has meant that the process to find pilots and further allocate them to various types of aircrafts in the Indian Air Force will undergo a change. The selection of the jawans, keeping in mind the future needs of hi-tech gadgetry, will also be now a mixture of brains and the brawn.

Chief Controller (R&D), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Dr M. Selvamurthy, told mediapersons while giving out the work done by the life sciences laboratories of the DRDO. A conference on 'In Service of the Soldiers: Life Sciences Perspective' started here last evening and the DRDO gave out a preview of what work was being done.

Explaining the new aptitude test for pilots Dr Selvamurthy said the existing Pilot Aptitude Battery Test for recruiting pilots was originally formatted in 1960's when the emphasis was on eye, hand and leg co-ordination, however, in the modern aircraft the information is available in the displays. The pilot needs to take fast and quick decision in aircraft like Jaguars and Sukhoi's. The new aptitude test will now focus on cognitive processing ability. A small error can be very expensive. The flying challenges in the three streams - fighters, transports and choppers - are totally different from each other. The cadets at the Hyderabad academy will be given the test to segregate them in three streams of flying on very objective basis. At present the allocation in the three streams is on the basis of performance in the academy. These tests will be introduced in 2009 and the IAF was creating infrastructure for the same.

In case of the Jawans, the focus is to test his personality and also the aptitude in view of the future needs of the Army that will include a soldier who will be carrying all information of battlefield in real time. Dr Selvamurthy said about 400 scientist and 500 technical people were working in the eight life sciences laboratories located across the country.

One of the laboratories has developed a bio-toilet that is being used by the Railways. The technology has been transferred to the IRCON.

1 comment:

  1. The first of its kind to be held in the Asia-Pacific region, the seminar on the use of force in internal security and counterinsurgency operations was attended by senior military and police officers from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
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