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Sunday, 11 January 2009

From Today's Papers - 11 Jan 09


No Israel-type action: Pranab

Pak officials debate dossier

New Delhi, January 10

India on Saturday virtually ruled out any Israel-type action against Pakistan in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks, saying the situation is not comparable. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, however, maintained that “future course” will decide how India will deal with Pakistan if the latter does not comply with its demands about ending terrorism.

(A report from Islamabad said top Pakistani officials held a meeting today to review and frame a response to the information dossier provided by India on the Mumbai terror attack, TV channels said.)

“I do not agree to that. Because this is totally wrong. The situation is not at all comparable,” he said when asked whether an Israeli-type offensive against Hamas in Gaza Strip could be an option for the Government against Pakistan.

“I have not gone and occupied any (of) Pakistan’s land which Israel has done (in Palestine). So, how the situation can be comparable,” Mukherjee asked during an interview to CNN-IBN.

Maintaining that all options are still “open”, he said India expects Pakistan to act on the evidence linking elements in the neighbouring country to Mumbai attacks.

“When I say all options are open, all options are open. There is no need of picking up option a, option b, option c, option d. No need of that. I am not responding to that. What I am responding to is options are open,” he said. “We have not reached the end of the road. Pakistan, what they have asked for, we have given them. We expect them to act on it,” Mukherjee said. — PTI

Kasab & Durrani

Meanwhile, Dawn has a few things to say

Making a mountain out of every molehill appears to be the federal government’s speciality. The confirmation that Ajmal Kasab is Pakistani should not have created a controversy; Kasab’s nationality was an open secret and as early as December 12 this paper published a detailed account of a meeting with an elderly man in Faridkot who claimed to be Kasab’s father. But the bungled announcement, subsequent denials and then confirmations, and the sacking of National Security Adviser Mehmud Durrani shone a spotlight on the disarray at the apex of decision-making...

n The incident has raised fresh questions about the government’s ability to keep its top officials on the same page at the same time.

n Mr Gilani has sent an unfortunate signal that the messenger is more important than the message... Instead, the big story became petty score-settling at the expense of the national interest...

Pak yet to reply on dossier: India
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 10
With the fledgling civilian government not in control of the situation in Pakistan, it is becoming increasingly frustrating for India to deal with the neighbouring country in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Contradictory statements emanating from Islamabad, both from the government and the media, are being seen by New Delhi as yet another attempt by Pakistan to deflect the attention from the issue of terrorism after already having acknowledged that Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist captured in the Mumbai strikes, was a Pakistan national.

India is surprised over Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s statement yesterday that ISI had given its feedback to India on some information about the Mumbai attacks that New Delhi had shared with the US intelligence agency CIA.

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma told the media today that India had not received any reply to the dossier it had given to Islamabad. “We will react to the reply when we receive it. It’s still awaited.”

Sharma said India’s position was clear that Pakistan must fulfill the promise it had made to New Delhi and the international community that it would not allow the misuse of its territory for terrorist activities. “Pakistan has to walk the talk…it should dismantle the (terrorist) organisations and infrastructure that exist there.’’

Regretting that Islamabad was still in the denial mode, Sharma said India had also not received any request from Pakistan for consular access to Kasab.

Sources said US has been questioning ISI on some of the issues mentioned by India in the dossier, like training of terrorists and links to Pakistan’s official agencies.

Sharma’s senior and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, meanwhile, virtually ruled out any Israeli-type action against Pakistan, saying the situation was not at all comparable. “I have not gone and occupied any of Pakistan’s land, which Israel has done (in Palestine). So, how the situation can be comparable,” he replied during an interview to a television news channel.

Emphasising that India was keeping all its options open, Mukherjee said New Delhi wanted Pakistan to act on the evidence establishing the links between the perpetrators of the attacks and elements in Pakistan.

“We have not reached the end of the road with Pakistan. What they had asked for, we have already provided them, and now we expect them to act. And in case they don’t, then what follow up steps we will take and in what space of time these will happen, future course will decide,’’ Mukherjee said.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to India David C Mulford, who has been asked by the incoming Obama administration to stay put in New Delhi for some more time, has contended that the dossier given by India to Pakistan on the Mumbai attacks was credible, but suggested that New Delhi should give time to Islamabad to act on it.

‘’From what I have seen, it is a very credible material. The FBI is cooperating in Mumbai…it is information which tells and gives a very accurate account of what has happened,’’ Mulford said during a talk show, ‘Devil’s Advocate’, on CNN-IBN.

All Options Open if Pakistan Does not Act: Pranab

New Delhi
India is keeping all options open if Pakistan does not act against perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks but it will not resort to Israel-type military strikes, according to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

In an interview on CNN-IBN channel Saturday, Mukherjee stressed that India was keeping options open if Pakistan did not act upon the evidence linking Pakistani nationals to the Mumbai carnage.

"All options are open. We have not reached the end of the road," he said.

"Pakistan, what they have asked for, we have given them. We expect them to act on it. If they don't act on it, what follow up steps we take at what space of time will take place, future course will decide," he said.

Pakistan has said it has responded to the 26/11 dossier Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon gave to Pakistan's High Commissioner Shahid Malik Monday. India says it is yet to receive the response.

Mukherjee, however, ruled out Israel-type military strikes against Pakistan.

"I don't agree to that because this is totally wrong and the situation is not at all comparable. I have not gone and occupied any of Pakistan's land which Israel has done. So how can the situation be compared."

Mukherjee described the sacking of Pakistan's National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani as "an unfortunate situation".

"This is really an unfortunate situation. But we have no option. We shall have to deal with only the government of the day," Mukherjee said, according to excerpts released by the news channel.

"Whether the government of the day holds real power or not, it is not for me to judge. It is for the people of Pakistan to judge. It is for the authorities in Pakistan to judge," he said.

Durrani was sacked Wednesday after he told a TV channel that Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone Mumbai attacker in Indian custody, was indeed a Pakistani.
This was reiterated by Pakistan's foreign office.

Durrani's sacking sparked speculation about a possible rift between conflicting centers of power in Pakistan with some analysts suspecting the hand of the military in the decision.

Toll in Israel's Gaza Offensive Crosses 800

Tel Aviv/Gaza
Israel continued its offensive in the Gaza Strip Saturday, pounding over 40 targets overnight, a military spokesman said.

The airstrikes, which came after 70 such attacks Friday, largely targeted smuggling tunnels and weapon manufacturing shops.

Israeli soldiers on the ground said they killed 15 armed men, the spokesman added.

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip have said the toll has surpassed 800, with over 3,300 people injured. This was the 15th day of fighting.

Five Israeli soldiers were lightly injured in overnight fighting. Troops remain in the Gaza Strip, but for the most part have not entered the most crowded urban areas.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that Israel was not planning to reoccupy the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported.

Palestinian militants fired one mortar and three homemade rockets at southern Israel since midnight.

Nine Israeli soldiers and three civilians were killed since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead Dec 27, in what was said to be a campaign to curtail Palestinian rocket fire.

The Israeli offensive continued after the security cabinet decided Friday to carry on, despite a United Nations' Security Council resolution which called for an immediate ceasefire.

Meanwhile, several senior Hamas members were in Cairo to discuss a possible ceasefire proposal. At least two of them left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing.

Israel, for its part, was sending Amos Gilad, a senior defence figure, to Cairo next week to also discuss the proposal. He had been in Egypt earlier this week, but returned without any concrete results.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had criticized Israel for not accepting the council's resolution and going towards a ceasefire, but officials in Jerusalem responded that as the UN could not stop Palestinian rocket fire, the offensive would go on.

"Israel has a right to protect its citizens," a statement from the cabinet said Friday, announcing a continuation of the Israeli military action, adding that it would "continue to change the security situation in the south", parlance for attacking militant targets and sources of rocket fire and conducting activities to curtail arms smuggling.

Caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel "has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens".

Israel also maintains an option, analysts said, to go to "phase three", which would mean sending more ground troops deeper into populated areas.

The military said there would be a three-hour "humanitarian lull" Saturday, to allow Palestinians to stock up on food and let medics and patients move freely, though the crossings to the enclave would remain closed.

Three such lulls have taken place so far since Wednesday, though Friday's lull was marred with violence.

The UN aid agencies are also expected to resume activities "as soon as possible" after they reached an understanding with the Israeli security forces. Four staff of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the agency for Palestinian refugees, have been killed in the fighting.

The UN said it had received security assurances from the Israelis and they would closely monitor their commitment to the safety of the aid workers.

India Should Not Talk of Surgical Strikes: Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb

Islamabad
India should not talk of "surgical strikes" on Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attack, as forces were ready to "retaliate to any aggression", former president Pervez Musharraf said Saturday.

"India should not talk rubbish like surgical strikes. Our forces are not sitting idle and have full capacity to retaliate to any level of aggression," the former military dictator told reporters before leaving for the US where he is scheduled to deliver lectures at various institutes.

"Why they (Indians) are again and again talking of surgical strikes? Why can't Pakistan say the same," asked Musharraf, considered the architect of the Kargil conflict with India in 1999.

Musharraf said his government had tried its best to develop friendly relations with the eastern neighbor. "I believe relations were going fine with India until the Mumbai attacks," he said.

"The only way to resolve the mystery of the Nov 26 attacks is to hold joint investigations," he added.

He avoided questions on the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government's handling of the crisis after the Mumbai attacks that India has blamed on Pakistani elements.

He said he would not comment on the performance of the government and neither would he compare it with his government.

Musharraf ruled Pakistan for nine and a half years after dismissing the elected government of Nawaz Sharif in October 1999, when Musharraf was the chief of army staff.

The former president said his government had never authorized any drone strikes inside Pakistan by the US-led forces. "It was agreed that the US or the NATO forces can strike upto the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and would not enter the Pakistan territory," he said.

Musharraf said the West asking Pakistan to "do more" on the terrorism front was "beyond understanding".

"Pakistan has done its best against terrorism and we are the worst victim of terrorism and still we are being targeted," said the former ruler who was forced to resign in August last year under national and international pressure.

This is his second foreign visit since his resignation. "I'll continue to visit foreign countries as I have invitations from friends, family and some international institutions," he said.

Rising militancy in Pak cause of worry: McConnell


Press Trust of India / Washington January 10, 2009, 11:37 IST


Maintaining that the Mumbai attacks were carried out by terrorists trained in and departed from Pakistan, the US has said the increasing militancy in the nuclear-armed country is one of the main causes of worry for it.

There are militants in Pakistan whose purpose is to overthrow the government of that country, Director of US National Intelligence, Michael McConnell, said.

"Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa in the fall of 2007 to say that the mission was to destroy the government of Pakistan," he said in an interview to the popular Charlie Rose Show on PBS.

"Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Would you want militants who are sworn to kill Americans in possession of nuclear weapons? That's what I worry about," McConnell said.

Referring to the Mumbai terrorist attacks, he said the horrendous terrorist act was carried by a group that was "trained and departed" from Pakistan.

"And there's significant tension between those two countries (India and Pakistan) now about how they're going to resolve that. Military forces have been put on an increased state of readiness," he said.

McConnell said his worries related to Pakistan was on top because of the increasing militancy in a country, which is nuclear weapon powered. Also, he said his "biggest worry" is the fact that Pakistan as a nation "is teetering on bankruptcy."

Salary Issue
SC: Seniors can’t be paid less than juniors
R. Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 10
Senior employees can’t get lower salaries than their juniors, be it due to pay anomaly or any other reason, the Supreme Court has ruled while disposing of a petition against Punjab State Electricity Board and its authorities.

“We are unable to accept the reasoning of the (Punjab and Haryana) High Court or the submissions made in support thereof ” by the PSEB’s counsel, the apex court Bench, comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Karkendey Katju, said in their verdict yesterday.

Two PSEB employees, Gurcharan Singh Grewal and Satinder Singh, had approached the HC, complaining that they were getting less pay than their junior Ram Prakash Shori. Upon getting the court’s notice, the PSEB hiked the pay of Satinder Singh and informed the HC accordingly in its response

When the case came up for hearing on September 23, 2005, the HC dismissed the complainants’ petition as it had become infructuous after Satinder was given the hike. The court accepted the PSEB’s plea that Grewal had not sought such a relief specifically.

The HC also dismissed two petitions filed subsequently, a review petition and a miscellaneous application, on the same ground.

The Supreme Court, however, said: “We are clearly of the opinion that the reasoning of the high court was erroneous and the appellant No. 1 was also entitled to the same benefits of pay parity with Shri Shori as has been granted to the appellant No. 2”.

The court rejected the PSEB counsel’s argument that Shori was getting more because he had got the promotional scale with effect from September 1, 2001 when the increments and the pay-scales were higher and when Grewal got the higher scale from January 1, 1996, such benefits were lower.

This contention “is still contrary to the settled principle of law that a senior cannot be paid lesser salary than his junior,” the Bench observed in their judgment, written by Justice Kabir.

The apex court accepted the argument of the petitioners’ counsel Nidesh Gupta that the prayer for higher pay was applicable to both petitioners and leaving out one of them for the benefit had defeated the very purpose of making Grewal petitioner No. 1.

Comparison of military power, Pak-India

Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R)

Unfortunately India and Pakistan had adversarial relations since sixty years. After the Mumbai carnage Pakistan is under threat of pre-emptive strikes. Fourth Indo-Pakistan war could be triggered by another terrorist attack anywhere in India. This is a dangerous scenario. India and Pakistan have fought three wars, and war drums for the fourth war are getting louder. It is in order therefore to comprehend Indian military capabilities, and Pakistan’s ability to defend itself. Defense capability is an interplay of economic and military potential. Indian economy is booming, and its GDP growth is in double digits. The global recession has impacted Indian economy, but its defense capability remains intact. Military power and capabilities are sustained by economic and industrial potential. Geography, demography, population, oil resources and reserves, industrial capability including defense production, dollar reserves, self reliance, education, quality of manpower and leadership have a bearing on military power. Seven lakh Indian troops are tied down in Jammu and Kashmir. India has over one hundred billion dollar reserves. The West, Israel and Russia are India’s weapon suppliers.

Indian Army has eighteen Corps with 34 Divisions including four Rapid Action Divisions, which would spear head ground offensives. Pakistan Army has ten Corps and twenty five divisions. Indian Army has eighteen Infantry, ten Mountain, three Armored, and two Artillery Divisions. Besides it has five Infantry, one parachute, thirteen Air Defense, and four Engineering Brigades, designated as independent formations. In addition there are two Air Defense Groups, and fourteen Army Aviation Helicopter units. This is a sizeable force, capable of launching major offensives from several fronts. The decentralized command structure will be an advantage, as compared to Pakistan’s centralized Army command organization. Pakistan Army has an active force of 620,000 well trained personnel, with 528000 reservists, and 150000 para-military troops. Pakistan armed forces are seventh largest in the world. Pakistan Army’s doctrine of “Offensive Defense”, evolved by General Mirza Aslam Beg was put to test in 1989 in Exercise Zarb-e Momin. The doctrine is to launch a sizeable offensive into enemy territory, rather than wait for enemy strikes or attacks. In case of Indian land offensive Pakistan Army and Air Force will respond with land and air offensives to gain and hold enemy territory. Before embarking on further offensive, gains shall be consolidated. In 1990 the Central Corps of Reserves was created to fight in the desert sectors , where enemy land offensives are expected. These dual capable formations trained for offensive and holding actions are fully mechanized.

Pakistan Army has ten Corps including the newly formed Strategic Corps. The Army has twenty six divisions (eight less than India). Two more divisions were raised as Corps reserves for V and XXXI Corps. Pakistan Army has two armored divisions, and ten independent armored brigades. Presently one hundred thousand troops are stationed on the Pak Afghan border to fight terror. Special Service Group-SSG comprises two airborne Brigades i.e. six battalions. Pakistan Army has 360 helicopters, over two thousand heavy guns, and 3000 APC’s. Its main anti-tank weapons are Tow, Tow Mk II, Bakter Shiken and FGM 148 ATGM. The Army Air Defence Command has S.A- 7 Grail, General Dynamics FIM-92 Stinger, GD FIM Red Eye, and ANZA Mk-I, Mk-II, Mk-III and HQ 2 B surface ti air missiles. Radar controlled Oerlikon is the standard Ack Ack weapon system. The ballistic missile inventory of the Army is substantial. It comprises Ghauri III and Shaheen III IRB’S; medium range Ghauri I and II and Shaheen II, and short range Hatf I- B, Abdali, Ghaznavi, Shaheen I and M -11 missiles. All the ballistic missiles can carry nuclear war heads. Nuclear and conventional weapon capable Babur Cruise missile is the new addition to Pakistan’s strategic weapon inventory. Number of ballistic missiles and war heads are almost the same as India has. So there is a parity in nuclear weapons, which is a deterrent.

Indian armor is of Russian origin. Out of 2295 Indian Army’s Main Battle tanks, 2235 are of Russian origin. The main battle tanks are; 310 T-90-S Bishsma’s (300 are on order), 1925 T-72M Ajeya’s.. The T-90 and the T-72 have 125 mm smooth barrel guns. T-72 though old is the backbone of Indian Armor Corp’s. 268 Ajeya’s have been upgraded with Israeli Elbit thermal imaging systems. 1000 T-72 MBT’s are awaiting up-gradation. There have been several instances of T-72’s gun barrel bursting. 124 Indian made Arjun (heavy 56 ton) MBT are on order. Sixty Arjun’s are in operational service. Arjun’s engine overheating problem has not been solved. Arjun has a 120 mm gun, but is unfit or desert operations.

Pakistan Army is equally strong in armor, capable of giving a fitting response to any Indian military adventure. Main Battle tanks Al-Khalid and Al-Zarrar are the backbone of Pakistan’s armor Corp’s. Both are Pakistan made. Pakistan’s tank armory comprises :five hundred Al-Khalid MBT’s; 320 Al-Zarrar type 85 II MBT’s, 500 Al-Zarrar MBT’s; 450 79II AP (Chinese type 81 upgrade, and 570 T-80 UD MBT of Ukranian make. In addition Pakistan has 880 Type 59, which were procured from China in 1970.This makes a total of three thousand six hundred and twenty tanks. All Pakistani MBT’s except T-59’s have 125 mm smooth barrel guns. Indian armor offensives in Kashmir, Punjab, and Sind would be effectively challenged by Pakistani armor and mechanized formations, depending on PAF’s ability to keep the skies over the battle areas clear of Indian Air Force. India’s modern air defense system has Israeli Arrow anti-missile missiles, and 90,000 surface to air missiles-SAM’s. India has one hundred nuclear armed ballistic missiles (Agni-1 and Agni II), and Brahmos the new supersonic cruise missile. Indian Army is well trained, equipped and highly professional, and so is Pakistan Army.

Air power is likely to play a key, if not a decisive role in any future major or minor India-Pakistan armed conflict. The aim of Indian pre-emptive strikes will be maximum destruction by surprise air attacks, combined with shock commando action. A possibe scenario is; intensive bombing of the target to be followed by attacks by armed helicopters and ground assault by heliborne Commandoes. An overview of Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force will help comprehension of IAF’s offensive capabilities, and defensive capabilities of Pakistan Air Force. Indian Air Force has 3000 aircraft including training, transport, helicopters and 800-1000 combat air craft, which operate from sixty air bases, including Farkhor airbase in Tajikistan.. Six hundred IAF’s strike and air defense fighters are expected to be operational. Pakistan Air Force has 630 aircraft, which include 530 combat aircraft, with 400 operational at any time. In 1996 India signed an agreement with Russia for the purchase of 90 Su 30 Mk-1 multi-role fighter-bombers. In 2004 a multi-billion licence was signed for building additional 140. 240 Su30-Mk-1’s were ordered, 120 are already in service. With a maximum speed of Mach 2.3 and range of 8000 Km with refueling and ability to carry tons of conventional munitions and nuclear weapons, it is a lethal and menacing weapon system for the strike and interception role. Other IAF’s advanced strike and combat aircraft are: 51 Mirage-2000 (of Kargil fame), 60 Mig-29’s (for air defense), 250 old Mig-21’s (110 have been refurbished with Israeli help), 47 Jaguars and 70 Mig-27’s for ground attack. 220 LCA Teja’s under manufacture at HAL Bangalore will start entering service in 2010... IAF’s fighter pilots are well trained and have out shone American pilots during joint exercises.

Pakistan Air Force has 200 rebuilt Mirage- 3’s ( for night air defense) and Mirage-5’s for the strike role. They can carry nuclear weapons. They have been upgraded with new weapon systems, radars, and avionics. Additionally the PAF has 42 F-16’s, 150 F-7’s including 55 latest F-7 PG’s. Manufacture of 150 JF 17 Thunder fighters (jointly designed) is underway at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra. The JF -17 Thunder is a 4th generation fly by wire multi-role fighter aircraft. Eight are already in PAF service. An order has been placed with China for the purchase of 36 JF-10, a Mach 2.3 -5th generation multi-role fighter, comparable in performance to the Su-30 Mk-1 with the Indian Air Force. PAF is on Red Alert, and is maintaining full vigil to intercept and destroy IAF intruders. During the recent air space violation, the IAF intruders were in the sights of PAF’s F-16’s, but were allowed to escape unscathed to avoid a major diplomatic crisis. PAF pilots and technicians are well trained, high professionals, who will be able to prove their mettle in the future battle with India. A comparison of Indian Navy and Pakistan Navy reveals that Pakistan Navy could inflict substantial damage to the Indian Navy. Indian Navy has 16 submarines; Pakistan Navy has ten, some are brand new. Indian Navy has 27 war ships, Pakistan Navy has ten. Indian Aircraft Carrier Veerat, will be a menace, and must be sunk by submarine or air attacks, if it attempts to block Pakistan’s sea lanes or ports. It is hoped that better sense prevails and India desists from invading and attacking Pakistan. If it does, the consequences will be horrible for both the countries.

Army Air Defence Day celebrated at Western Command

Punjab Newsline Network

Saturday, 10 January 2009

CHANDIGARH: The Army Air Defence (AAD)Day was celebrated with enthusiasm by Army Air Defence troops at Chandimandir Military Station today. The celebration also included a 'Barakhana' organized at Chandimandir for all ranks. MG AAD, Maj Gen JP Singh, SC paid tributes to all those AD gunners who laid down their life for the country.

The first light Anti Air Craft unit was raised in Oct 1941 with L/60 Guns on the Territorial Army (TA) concept. At the time of Partition, only two Air Defence Artillery units came to India. The L/60 guns were gradually replaced by radar controlled L/70 guns in the seventies. By 1975 all exiting TA Air Defence units were converted into regular Air Defence units. However, Air Defence units continued to be an integral part of Regiment of Artillery. Corps of Air Defence Artillery now re-christened as Army Air Defence came into existence on 10 Jan 1994 after bifurcation from the Regiment of Artillery.

Army Air Defence today is equipped with sophisticated weapon system and supporting infrastructure in consonance with its motto "AKASHE SHATRUN JAHI" which means "DESTRUCTION OF THE ENEMY IN THE AIR". Exponential advancement in the air power has brought the Army Air Defence to the centre stage of dominating the battle field.

The Air Defence Gunners gave a very good account of themselves during 1965 Indo Pak War. Four Vir Chakras were awarded besides other gallantry medals and citations. Army Air Defence reached a new high during Indo-Pak War in 1971 wherein our gunners were awarded a total of 13 Veer Chakras, one Shourya Chakra and other gallantry awards.

Besides the above operations, Air Defence Units have actively participated in Operation Meghdoot, Operation Trident and Falcon, Operation Pawan, Operation Vijay and Operation Parakram. Besides, several Air Defence units have been engaged in various Counter Insurgency tasks in J&K wherein many gallant Air Defence gunners have made the supreme sacrifice and won laurels for the nation.

Indian soldier feared drowned in Franklin River

10/01/2009 6:16:00 PM

An Indian Army soldier is feared dead after falling into the Franklin River on the State's West Coast.

The man was white water rafting with Australian soldiers and five other members of the Indian Army when he fell into the water about 2pm on Friday.

A Tasmania Police spokesman said the man had entered the water at a rapid known as the Cauldron, and had not been seen since.

He said it was believed the man had drowned.

A large search intensified yesterday, with the involvement of an experienced kayak team from Hobart's Derwent Canoe Club.

Inspector Brian Edmonds said additional police were also in the area as well as members of the Australian Defence Force.

Insp. Edmonds asked anyone preparing a trip on the Franklin River to report anything of interest to police at Rafters Basin or by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Indian and US armies plan future joint operations

Written on January 10, 2009 – 9:44 am | by Frontier India Strategic and Defence |

On 5th January 2009, Senior officials from the U.S. Army, Pacific, joined by the Marine Forces Pacific and Special Operations Command, Pacific, met with members of the Indian army for the 13th annual Indian Executive Steering Group to coordinate training engagements between the ground forces of the two countries.

“Since 1995, we have met annually to enhance our relationship and we have made significant progress over the last many years,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commander, U.S. Army, Pacific, who gave opening remarks with his counterpart Lt. Gen. A.S. Sekhon, Indian army director of general military operations. “Our relationship with India has been and will continue to be a centerpiece of our strategy with the United States Army in the Pacific.”

Mixon addressed plans to build a strategic partnership through eight initiatives established by U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and Indian army Chief of Staff Gen Deepak Kapoor to enhance cooperation.

“It started from a lower level of cooperation, with subject matter engagements to tactical level exercises with boots on the ground, and I think the doctrinal exchange such as this ESG has really paved the way to take this cooperation further towards higher cooperations” Sekhon emphasized.

The week’s events include review and assessment of 2008’s joint and combined training events and coordination of future actions between both militaries.

Op-ed: India honors its veterans; we should too

| Varinder K. Bhalla lives in Albertson.

January 10, 2009

In 1965, as a teenager growing up in India, I watched a long caravan of military trucks carrying Indian soldiers to the Pakistan border during the height of the Indo-Pakistan War. On both sides of the Grand Truck Road, the national highway of India, stretching several hundred miles, there were tens of thousands of civilian people cheering up the soldiers, offering fruits, sweets and drinks, but more important, expressing their love and gratitude to the men and women in uniform for the risks they were taking in the defense of their country.

Even after retirement, the military personnel are highly respected in the Indian society and offered special privileges. With that mindset, ever since I moved to the United States in 1969, I have been most troubled by the plight of the American war veterans, many of whom are homeless, unemployed and simply neglected by the society in general.

I believe that all of us - including those opposed to the Vietnam and Iraq wars - owe a great sense of gratitude to our veterans and need to express it in tangible terms. So I salute County Executive Thomas Suozzi for his Warriors to Work initiative to help military veterans in their quest to be gainfully employed.

Equally commendable is the gesture of Gov. David A. Paterson, in his State of the State address this week, saluting "those who volunteered to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan so that the rest of us could remain safe in New York," and making a commitment to implement a comprehensive strategy to support returning veterans, "the brave men and women of our armed forces who have earned our respect and admiration for their heroism far from home."

Paterson's gesture reminds me of the slogan "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan" ("Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer") that the then-Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, gave to the nation in 1965.

This slogan had unprecedented mass appeal. Street banners with "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan" were raised all over the country. Most trucks across the country had it written on their bumpers. Even posters to publicize any product or service had this slogan, reminding us to cheer the soldiers defending India and cheer the farmers engaged in increasing the production of food grains.

In the United States, on the contrary, veterans are found homeless, sleeping in doorways, alleys or boxes on any given night on Long Island and in New York City, and across the nation.

The plight of homeless veterans is a national tragedy. Homelessness among veterans does not bode well for us as a society. Leaving them homeless is hardly a way to treat anyone willing to die for us. These veterans have put on a uniform and served our country. These are ordinary people whose lives have been touched in extraordinary ways in times of war and beyond.

They risked their lives for us and deserve a second chance. A lot is already being done to address the problem. A lot more needs to be done. We need to form a collective will and forge partnerships between the public and private sector and continuously take action to rehabilitate them until the last homeless veteran finds his home in the greatest nation on Earth.

Let us honor them for their sacrifice and gallantry. Let us cheer them up. Jai New Yorker Jawan; Jai American Jawan!

EADS Defence & Security, DCNS and Rohde & Schwarz team wins 240 million euro RIFAN stage 2 contract for the French Navy

Written on January 9, 2009 – 10:03 am | by Frontier India Strategic and Defence |

EADS Defence & Security, the Agent, and its co-contractors DCNS and Rohde & Schwarz, have been notified on december 22 2008, from the DGA procurement branch of the French Ministry of Defence for stage 2 of the RIFAN programme to equip the French naval air arm on exercises or on missions with a true intranet for surface ships, submarines and aircraft within the force.

The framework contract, worth 240 million euros, covers the design and deployment of an IP communication system to equip 116 ships and 64 aircraft over a period of five years, and the provision of operational support for an additional five years.

RIFAN stage 2, the IP backbone for the naval air arm, is designed to be incorporated into the master plan of the Navy Information and Combat System. It will ensure broadband information exchange between onboard business applications, will be open to onboard staff information systems and will cover all levels of information sensitivity, from unclassified to NATO classified. This second stage follows on from the RIFAN Operation stage 1 to equip French Navy level one ships.

RIFAN stage 2 will also implement a Network Management Capacity to supervise and manage the complete network of ships and aircraft from sites based on land. This site will also have a global view of security-related incidents and will control the confidentiality, integrity and availability of operational data.

New V/UHF radios supplied by Rohde & Schwarz, already a renowned partner to the French Navy, will offer broadband IP transmission capability between ships, in addition to the renewal of the fixed-frequency and frequency-hopping voice function. “The historical presence of Rohde & Schwarz in many naval forces around the world has culminated in today’s selection for the RIFAN2 programme. We are proud that the excellence of our radio technologies, associated with the acknowledged expertise of our teams, will now be involved in this major French Navy project,” said Jean-Christophe Prunet, Chairman of Rohde & Schwarz France.

Within the framework of this grouping, EADS DS has subcontracted the development of the administration and supervision centre for this critical and highly secured information and communication system to CS Communication et Systèmes, a company with many years of experience with major accounts.

DCNS, a major partner of the French Navy, will provide engineering services, including installation studies for RIFAN2 on surface ships and submarines, and equipment deployment. “This success illustrates the quality of services supplied by DCNS. It reinforces the major role of the company in the field of onboard system integration by demonstrating the expertise of DCNS in this field,” observes Christian Foissey, Director of DCNS Services Division.

India approves BAE Systems and Mahindra & Mahindra joint venture

Written on January 7, 2009 – 4:55 pm | by Frontier India Strategic and Defence |

Following approval from the Government of India’s Foreign Investment Promotions Board, Mahindra & Mahindra and BAE Systems will set up a Joint Venture (JV) in India focused on land systems for the Indian market. This is a key step in setting up the JV, and in accordance with current Foreign Direct Investment regulations, the equity split will be 74% with Mahindra & Mahindra and 26% BAE Systems. Mahindra & Mahindra and BAE Systems will now finalise detailed planning and structural arrangements with a view to commencing JV operations as early as Q2 2009.

Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra, said “Our JV with BAE Systems is a strategic initiative by the Mahindra Group to achieve a leadership position in the land systems defence domain. These solutions will provide greatly enhanced capability for our Indian land forces and open up export markets not previously within our reach.”

Ian King, Chief Executive, BAE Systems, said “This is an exciting opportunity and is the first step in BAE Systems’ plans to grow long term businesses in India in multiple sectors across the breadth and depth of the company’s global capabilities in land, sea, air and security.”

Headquartered in Delhi, with manufacturing in Faridabad, the JV will initially employ 50-60 people. Initial work is likely to include the up-armouring of Rakshack vehicles, Axe vehicle production, and starting the process of developing a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle suitable for India.

We didn’t let Poonch militants escape: Indian Army

Jan 10th, 2009 | By Sindh Today | Category: India

Jammu, Jan 10 (IANS) The Indian Army Saturday denied reports it had provided safe passage to militants hiding in the Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir in exchange for the release of some abducted security personnel during the eight-day operation against them.

‘It is just fiction, a total lie with no truth whatsoever in it,’ a senior officer at the 16 Corps headquarters at Nagrota, told IANS.

‘Spreading such reports is not only detrimental to the army’s cause but goes against national interest,’ he added

The officer was reacting to reports from Mendhar, where the operation took place, that the ‘militants had been given safe passage in exchange for the release of some security personnel abducted by militants holed up in the forest’.

The army Saturday said they were still on the trail of the militants though they had called off the operation in the dense forest near Mendhar in Poonch Thursday night.

The army maintained the militants escaped the three-tier security cordon ‘taking advantage of terrain and bad weather’.

An army official said, ‘The militants might have escaped this area (Pati Tar) but we have gathered tell-tale signs and are very much on their trail.’

‘Hardcore militants’ of the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba were reported to be hiding in the Mendhar forest. The army began its operation to flush out the terrorists Jan 1.

The army had said that seven people, including four militants and three security personnel, were killed during fighting in the first three days. But the army has not recovered the bodies of the killed militants till now.

The area in Mendhar is on the map of traditional infiltration routes of militants sneaking into the Indian side from Pakistan across the Line of Control. It has accessibility to the Kashmir Valley through mountain passes.

Indian Air Force Sukhoi jets being retrofitted with cruise missile pods

New Delhi, Jan 10 (Inditop) Two Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi-30MKI combat jets have been sent to Russia for a retrofit that would enable them launch the aerial version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile that India and Russia have jointly developed, an official said.

“The aerial version of the BrahMos missiles will be delivered from the Su-30MKI platform. We were in talks with Sukhoi and the IAF for it. Finally two Su-30MKIs of the IAF have been sent to Russia for retrofitting,” a senior official of BrahMos Aerospace that manufactures the missile, told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The aerial version of BrahMos is coming along very well. After being programmed, the missile will be released from the aircraft and will auto-launch towards its target when it reaches an altitude of 50 metres,” the official explained.

“The aerial version is nearly nine metres long and this requires modifications of the aircraft’s fuselage. Since the Sukhoi company is busy with designing a fifth generation fighter, (India’s) DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) scientists, along with Russian experts, will carry out the necessary modifications,” the official said.

The modifications will be completed by early 2010.

Once this happens, BrahMos will become a “universal cruise missile” due to its ability to be launched from land, sea - from both ships and submarines - and the air.

The land and naval versions have already been inducted into service with the Indian Army and the Indian Navy.

The navy has integrated anti-ship versions of the BrahMos on its warships, including INS Rajput, and is integrating it on to two other ships of the same class. The missiles will also be mounted on the three 7,000-tonne Kolkata class destroyers currently being constructed at Mumbai’s Mazagon Docks.

The navy had Dec 18 last year test-fired the missile from a vertical launcher on a ship in the Bay of Bengal. All earlier launches had been carried out from inclined launchers.

The missile, which takes its name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers, has a range of nearly 300 km and carries a 300 kg conventional warhead. It can achieve speeds of up to 2.8 Mach or nearly three times the speed of sound.

BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited was established in India as a joint venture through an inter-governmental agreement signed between India and Russia in February 1998.

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