Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Thursday, 15 January 2009

From Today's Papers - 15 Jan 09

What Next

Having opted for diplomacy to bring perpetrators of Mumbai terrorist attack to justice, the Government went in to action to convince the world that the attack was planned and executed by terrorists based in Pakistan. And this operation had the active support of certain elements from Pakistan Government; in particular it’s military and ISI.Over 150 heads of our mission abroad were summoned to the capital and given a brief about the attack for information of the world. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the world is totally convinced about the attack having been launched from Pakistan with support from certain elements of Pakistan Government. reaction or for that matter non reaction to our demand of cooperation by Government of Pakistan was expected. We could not have expected Pakistan to own up its own role in the attack and punish perpetrators of the attack who were part of the Government. Having successfully completed the first phase of our mission to convince the world community about the identity of the perpetrator of the crime we now go to the next phase. It requires actions in areas which hurts Pakistan. First of these is to abrogate all water treaties with Pakistan. Do not allow water from our rivers to flow into Pakistan. Stop all trade with Pakistan. Goodwill visits and cultural exchanges have no meanings under the present circumstances. Confidence building measures should be called off. Call back our head of mission in Pakistan and reduce the strength of our mission to barest minimum. If required break diplomatic ties with Pakistan. The world should be convinced to see attack on us as part of world terrorism and not as an isolated case related to Kashmir. Having done that, the next step would be to isolate Pakistan from the rest of world. Given the compulsions of USA for their interest in Afghanistan this is not going to be easy. They still see Pakistan as an important ally in their fight against Taliban in Afghanistan. It is here that our diplomatic prowess is going to be put to test. The USA and the other world powers have to be conveyed that they have to make a choice between democratic peace loving India fighting against terrorism or Rogue State, Pakistan whose track record shows her as an epicenter of terrorism. The world has to be made to realize that unless terrorism is defeated in Pakistan the world cannot hope for peace any where in the world. All aid particularly military aid to Pakistan should be stopped till they close all terrorists’ shops and take action to arrest and punish those who have committed crime now or in the past. Pakistan has to be made to realize that they are either with the world or terrorists, it cannot be both. Only USA can do that. But they will do that only in case India shows her firmness, dithering attitude under pressure will not do.

Lt Col (Retd) Harbhajan Singh Cheema

Time-scale Colonels to get more pay
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
While Lieutenant Colonels may have to wait a bit for enhanced pay scales, there is good news for officers promoted to the rank of Colonel on a time-scale basis. They would now get the same remuneration as selection grade Colonels in Pay Band - 4.

Orders issued on the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission were silent in regard to time scale colonels and consequently they were drawing lower emoluments than selection grade officers of the same rank.

Sources said they were now expected to get their revised salaries from next month and would also be entitled to consequential arrears from January 1, 2006. The orders granting them equivalent remuneration were issued a few weeks ago. Time-scale Colonels would now also get a grade pay of Rs 8,700 per month.

Meanwhile, the upgradation of Lieutenant Colonels to Pay Band 4, though agreed upon by the government, is expected to take a few more months to finally come through.

The Sixth Pay Commission had placed Lieutenant Colonels in Pay Band - 3 (Rs 15,600-39,100), but moved their civilian counterparts into Pay Band - 4 (Rs 37,400-67,000).

Sources said that another pay commission related glitch addressed recently is payment of dearness allowance (DA) on military service pay (MSP) to Army officers. Interestingly, DA on MSP was being paid to Air Force and Navy officers, but for some reason being denied to Army officers.

The Principal Controller of Defence Accounts had referred the matter to the law ministry, which clarified a few days ago that DA was admissible on MSP. All armed forces officers are entitled MSP of Rs 6,000 per month.

There are also reports that the rates of DA may be enhanced for government employees in the near future.

Mumbai Heat
Military option open: Kapoor

New Delhi, January 14
Once again upping the ante on the already charged atmosphere between India and Pakistan post 26/11, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor today said the military option against the neighbouring country was open even now.

Speaking to the press at his annual press conference on ‘Sena Diwas’, General Kapoor said if diplomatic and economic options failed to get the desired result from on the Mumbai attacks, India had kept the military option open.

Stressing that it was an open secret that the 26/11 Mumbai attackers had come from Pakistan, which led to massive tension building between the two countries. General Kapoor said: “We have kept all options open. If diplomatic and economic options fail, then war is the last resort.”

Accepting that Pakistan indeed shifted some of its troops from the Afghanistan border to the Indian border, the Army chief said all this had been taken into consideration while deciding the military option as the last one.

To a pointer whether the country had lost an opportunity to slam terror outfits in Pakistan in the wake of the atmosphere generated after the Mumbai attacks, General Kapoor said in any dispute use of force remained an option, but whether that has to be used or not would have to be decided by the political leadership. “But if all options fail and means exhaust, then war is certainly the last resort,” he said.

On the recent movement of special troops in the Pokharan and Mahajan ranges in Rajasthan, General Kapoor denied such steps were bolstering war hysteria and said not much should be construed in these “routine movements”. — UNI

No Troop Movement but All Options Open:
Indian Army Chief

New Delhi
There was no troop movement on India's side and war was the "last resort" but the country had all options open following Pakistan's refusal to act against those who ordered the terror attack on Mumbai, Indian Army chief Deepak Kapoor said here Wednesday.

Stressing that any decision on the issue had to come from the political leadership, Kapoor said at a press conference that the perpetrators of the Nov 26-29 Mumbai savagery were from Pakistan.

“We do feel that perpetrators of the 26/11 (date of Mumbai attack) were from Pakistani soil. In view of that we in India are keeping all our options open. It must be understood that it is not to create any war hysteria.

"The options include everything, whether diplomatic, economic and, as last resort, fighting,” he told reporters ahead of the 61st Army Day.

Reacting to the widely reported movement of Pakistani troops from the Afghanistan border to its eastern front bordering India, Kapoor said the Indian Army was seized of the situation.

“We are aware that Pakistan troops from FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) have come to the east border of Pakistan with India. Having known this, let me assure you that Indian Army has factored this in their plans,” Kapoor said.

“Whenever there is a problem, military is the last option, but the decision depends on the political leadership. When they think economic and diplomatic pressure has failed, the option will be used,” Kapoor said, replying to a query on when the military option will be employed.

Kapoor denied reports of troop movement on the Indian side.

“It is a known fact that it is the period in which our persons from strike cores go to the field ranges - in this I am talking about the Pokhran and Mahajan field ranges - on routine basis. We do share this information with Pakistan as they do about the exercises on their side.

“Our troops have gone there for practice fire and if that has to be hyped into war hysteria, then it is wrong,” Kapoor added.

“Cleaning up of our defences, that we are alert and certain amount of normal readiness has to be there - it is automatic of a good defender,” Kapoor asserted.

We will Build On Our Partnership with India:
Hillary Clinton
By Arun Kumar

Describing the Mumbai terror attacks as a new challenge for American diplomacy, Hillary Clinton has vowed to build on economic and political partnership with India, "a nation with growing influence in the world", to deal with today's security threats.

"Today's security threats cannot be addressed in isolation," she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday during her confirmation hearing for the position of secretary of state under president-elect Barack Obama.

"Smart power requires reaching out to both friends and adversaries, to bolster old alliances and to forge new ones," she said. "That means strengthening the alliances that have stood the test of time-especially with our NATO partners and our allies in Asia.

Clinton completed her testimony Tuesday. The committee is expected to vote on her nomination Thursday and the full Senate is likely to approve her nomination before Obama takes office next Tuesday.

John Kerry, Democratic chairman of the committee, closed the hearing by saying "we are excited about the prospect of working with you."

"Our alliance with Japan is a cornerstone of American policy in Asia, essential to maintaining peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, and based on shared values and mutual interests," the former first lady said during her hearing.

The US "also has crucial economic and security partnerships with South Korea, Australia, and other friends in ASEAN."

"We will build on our economic and political partnership with India, the world's most populous democracy and a nation with growing influence in the world," Clinton said.

Noting that the world is now in the cross currents of the most severe global economic contraction since the Great Depression," she stressed the need to engage emerging powers like India and China to solve the crisis.

"For too long, we have merely talked about the need to engage emerging powers in global economic governance; the time to take action is upon us," Clinton said.

"We know that emerging markets like China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia are feeling the effects of the current crisis. We all stand to benefit in both the short and long term if they are part of the solution, and become partners in maintaining global economic stability," she said.

Hillary Clinton said that she aims to "renew America's leadership" in a world that has undergone an "extraordinary transformation" since the end of the Cold War and is now facing "great peril."

Calling the current US engagement in Afghanistan the "greatest priority for the president-elect", she promised to use "diplomacy, development and defence" to work with allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which she referred to as "the central front in the war on terrorism."

President-elect Barack Obama will pursue a "more for more" strategy in Afghanistan, where additional US support will be supplemented by more NATO and Afghan government support, she said.

Clinton also emphasized the need to look at the problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan together, and said it is "imperative" to work with both of them to root out Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other violent extremists.

"Terrorism remains a serious threat," Clinton said stressing the need for "a comprehensive strategy, leveraging intelligence, diplomacy, and military assets to defeat Al Qaeda and like-minded terrorists by rooting out their networks and drying up support for their violent and nihilistic extremism."

On Iraq, she called the withdrawal of US troops a "primary priority" and said it would occur within the context of the current Status of Forces Agreement.

The Obama administration hopes to remove US troops from Iraqi cities and villages by June 2009, and redeploy some of those troops to Afghanistan.

But as it focuses on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, US "must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic aspirations of the Palestinians," she said.

What India wants
US won’t prod Pakistan to deliver
by Maj-Gen Ashok K. Mehta (retd)

MUMBAI has shown that India has not found a suitable antidote to stopping cross-border terrorism inflicted on it by Pakistan since the early 1990s despite the threat to go to war over it in 2002 after the attack on Parliament. Initially limited to J&K, the scourge has become an all-India menace after jihadis crossed the red line demarcating the disputed territory. This transgression went unchallenged without any politico-military response, encouraging the handlers of jihad to refine strategy and lethality of attacks.

India’s tolerance of repeated assaults on its sovereignty and democracy and its overwhelming desire to accept compromise have amazed western strategic experts. Maintaining the world’s fourth largest military and security establishment that cannot protect its people is equally befuddling. The planners and perpetrators of Mumbai were convinced the mission would be accomplished easily and India would take it lying down. Two dozen major terrorist attacks in the last four years, including one against the embassy in Kabul, have left 1000 dead.

Mumbai was waiting to happen; what is worse, it happened even after US intelligence agencies warned that attacks would come “from the sea against hotels and business centres in Mumbai”. Public indignation and outrage was even more severe than at the time of the attack on Parliament which led to Operation Parakram. Despite the clearest evidence ever of Pakistani complicity, the government response was tentative. As nationals of 22 countries were killed or wounded, New Delhi approached the UN, internationalising a bilateral issue, rightly highlighting the evil of terrorism. It made the usual demands: asking Islamabad to dismantle its terrorist infrastructure, custody of India’s 20-most wanted, and bringing to book the handlers of the attack.

The precision strike against Mumbai is attributed to elite killers of the Lashkar-e-Taiyaba, finessed by the Pakistan Army. Contrary to claims that it is cooperating with the civil government, distancing itself from politics and had severed ties with militant groups, the motive for the warlike act by the Army was to provoke a crisis and return it to centre-stage. This would allow security forces to disengage from the highly unpopular war in the West and shift the strategic focus to the Indian border.

Completely surprised, India initially relied wholly on diplomacy, virtually ruling out the military route. Before the start of the Kargil war, the government had declared that the Line of Control would not be crossed. During Operation Parakram a studied ambiguity was maintained on the use of force. Foreclosing the options limits the strategic canvas forfeiting flexibility. True, the coercive diplomacy option had been exhausted in Operation Parakram even as India had a distinct military edge over Pakistan. The military option was blunted by Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail even as it pressed ahead with cross-border terrorism. To counter this India crafted first a limited war doctrine and later a cold-start operational strategy, but neither could fructify under a nuclear overhang. How to cold-start a limited war and keep it limited is the dilemma.

While nuclear weapons prevent a crisis from escalating, they do not prevent a crisis from occurring. Seven years after the Parakram and several mini-crises on the way to Mumbai, cross-border terrorism thrives without any effective riposte. How is India going to get Pakistan to dismantle terrorist infrastructure, disarm, demobilise and reintegrate the jihadis in society? Only the Pakistan Army and the ISI under international pressure have any chance of doing this.

The big challenge before the government is to prevent the next high profile terrorist attack before elections next year which could compound the ongoing crisis. The 2001-02 crisis was unique: there was a second major strike against a military cantonment in Kaluchak even as the two armies faced each other. War clouds, which had been deflected after the attack on Parliament by the US extracting concessions from Pakistan, including commitment to ending cross-border terrorism, suddenly reappeared after Kaluchak. This time the US and the international community shifted the focus from cross-border terrorism to a nuclear exchange and defused the crisis by securing more specific pledges from General Musharraf on ending terrorism. Now Pakistan, by heightening tension along the border, has diverted the focus from terrorism in Mumbai to war.

Take a look at the Parakram and how things were different then. A BJP-led NDA government, strong on national security and keen on settling core issues with Pakistan, was in place. Before the attack on Parliament, J&K was confronting highest levels of violence, with instability and terrorism spreading outside the state. Army Chief Gen S Padmanabhan had said that the Army was fighting one Kargil every 16 months. A top gear coercive diplomacy backed by full military deployment was launched. The military government in Pakistan was doing US bidding in Afghanistan and there was no Talibanisation of Pakistan. The war in Afghanistan was in the mopping-up phase and the Afghan Taliban had taken sanctuary on Pakistan’s western borders.

While the bulk of Pakistan’s 11 and 12 Corps were still deployed in the West, India came close to crossing the red line twice in January and June 2002. War was prevented on both occasions by US diplomacy as it was not in its national interest.

Today the geo-strategic picture in different. The Mumbai attack has exposed the government’s inept handling of internal security so close to elections. Yet the security situation in J&K has never been better and violence levels at an all-time low, as the high turnout in the elections has shown. Pakistan has a weak civilian minority government where the military is calling the shots. Internal insecurity is at its peak with jihadi suicide bombers roaming around freely in Punjab. With the war in Afghanistan gone horribly wrong, Pakistan’s cooperation is paramount for US- Nato forces to turn the war around. For better compliance from Pakistan, the US is likely to offer inducements on Kashmir and Afghanistan.

Despite the newly crafted India-US strategic partnership, the US will be even less willing and able to prod Pakistan to concede to India’s demands.

The calibrated diplomatic response has so far yielded only UN strictures against leaders of terrorist groups in Pakistan. India’s military options from surgical strikes to a limited war to a naval blockade are either too ineffective or symbolic or too dangerous. A diplomatic confrontation that drags on contains the risk of rogue elements in the Pakistan Army provoking a localised conflict with the potential to escalate. A strategic stalemate is politically the least satisfactory outcome for India unless the US can extract concessions for India as it reluctantly did in 2002. Evidence that the US has can be the key to forcing Pakistan to yield and end the crisis. But it won’t end cross-border terrorism.

We are keeping all options open: Indian Army

PTI | January 14, 2009 | 17:24 IST

Noting that Pakistan has moved troops towards border with India, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor on Wednesday said New Delhi has kept all options open, including the 'fighting option' as a last resort.

Kapoor said tension between India and Pakistan were 'larger' in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, but said there was no need to create any hysteria.

"We expect Pakistan to move some troops from FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) to its eastern borders with India. They have come to eastern border of Pakistan with India," Kapoor said during a press conference in New Delhi.

He said the Indian Army had already 'factored this' into its planning and there was 'no cause for concern' in India.

"There is a larger amount of tension after 26/11. Because we feel that the perpetrators of 26/11 came from Pakistan. In view of that, we in India are keeping all options open," he said.

Elaborating on the options, he said these were "diplomatic, economic, or as a last resort, a fighting option."

Kapoor said there was "no need to create any kind of hysteria"

On the use of military option as a last resort, Gen Kapoor said the decision was dependent on the political leadership when they felt that all other options, including international opinion, were exhausted.

"Our political leadership has said war is not an option. But all options are open. The situation remains at that stage," he said to a query.

Regarding reports of some strike formations of the Indian Army moving towards the western borders, Kapoor said some of the formations were currently carrying out exercise in both the Mahajan ranges and Pokhran ranges and that the information had already been shared with the neighbouring country.

"It is part of an understanding that practice training be intimated. There has been some amount of clearing up of bunkers, which need to be maintained regularly. It need not become a cause for war frenzy," the Army chief said.

On the threat of nuclear arsenal from Pakistan falling into terrorists' hands, Kapoor said: "I wish it doesn't happen."

But, he said, if there was a degree of stability in Pakistan, this threat would not become a reality. "Nuclear weapon (in the wrong hands) is a cause for worry for the entire globe," he added.

Asked if India, having helped Afghanistan to rebuild infrastructure, should get a strategic presence there to squeeze Pakistan, the General said it was for the political leaders to take a policy decision on the matter.

Paratroopers to meet NSG's manpower needs

PTI | January 14, 2009 | 14:54 IST

To meet additional demand for special troops for the National Security Guard, army has agreed to provide its paratroopers for manning new NSG hubs set to come up in four cities to tackle any terrorist threat.

"Whatever paratroopers or other troops are required to enhance the capabilities of the NSG, we will provide them," Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor said in New Delhi on Wednesday on the sidelines of a seminar on 'Threats and Challenges for the Indian Army'.

"The army is certainly facing shortage of officers and we will see how we can combat it. But if the government needs manpower in the anti-terror operations, we will certainly provide them," Kapoor said, when queried about the army's manpower constraint and meeting the government demand for NSG.

He said the Special Forces should enhance its capabilities and develop interoperability with the NSG to tackle the terror threat and stressed the need for every armed unit of the army to have the capability to counter heightened threats from terrorists.

"Every combat arms unit should have a limited, yet focused capability to meet such challenges," Kapoor said.

He said the country will continue to rely on SF of the three Services to tackle the threat from terrorists till the time the NSG was able to expand to its planned capacities.

"The country will continue to rely on some of the SF, which are there with the respective services, predominantly with the army, should there be a situation," the army chief said.

Stating that the army will have to upgrade its capabilities to tackle low-intensity conflicts, he said: "We will require renewed focus on the upgrading of the counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency capabilities based on emerging technologies to train and equip our soldiers to fight cleaner, better and safer."

Kapoor said the force would continue to play a role in counter-terrorist operations, even though they were the responsibility of the forces under the home ministry.

"Countering terrorism and managing internal security primarily remains the responsibility of the home ministry and agencies under it. However, since heightened terrorist attacks have become a reality today, we need to take some measures for self-protection and provide assistance to the central forces in times of emergencies," Kapoor said.

He said the armed forces were required to maintain a high level of combat readiness at all times to meet emergencies.

"We live in troubled times and a fragile region and the possibility of a marginal conventional conflict cannot be ruled out. We must maintain high level of combat readiness at all times," he said.

On the nuclear threat faced by the region, Kapoor said: "The presence of nuclear weapons in our neighbourhood, underlines the fact that any conventional war can at any time turn in to a nuclear war, provided a certain threshold is crossed by either side."

US to provide conditional aid to Pakistan, says Clinton

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | January 14, 2009 | 09:50 IST

United States President-elect Barack Obama's Secretary of State designate Senator Hillary Clinton, appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of her confirmation process on Tuesday, said that the Obama administration will condition military aid to Pakistan, on its commitment to counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism.

Clinton told the chairman of the Committee Senator John F Kerry that the Obama administration does intend to follow through on Congressional legislation authored last year by Senators Joe Biden (now the vice-president elect) and Richard Lugar to provide Pakistan with $1.5 billion in American assistance for the next five years, the bulk of which would be development and economic assistance.

"The President-elect does support the legislation and we want to try to begin to some extent to separate our military aid from our non-military aid," she said, and noted that "the tripling of the non-military aid is intended to provide resources that will support the Pakistani people but also give some tools to the democratically elected government to try to start producing results for the people of Pakistan."

But Clinton reiterated that with regard to the military aid, "We want to really look hard at seeing whether we can condition some of that on the commitment for the counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism mission."

Earlier, Clinton acknowledged the concerns expressed by some of the lawmakers over the possibility of nuclear terrorism and the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, if it fails to bring terrorism under control.

Speaking on the government of President Asif Zardari, she said, "They have been saying the right things with respect to the threat posed by the extremists and terrorists, particularly along the border (with Afghanistan) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas region."

Clinton spoke of the importance of efforts to develop ties "between the United States and various (civilian) institutions in Pakistan, but this is a tough problem. This is a complicated problem and has many dimensions to it."

She also spoke of the problem between Pakistan's "relationship with India, the relationship with Afghanistan, the role that Iran and others are playing in that region."

She reiterated that the new administration aimed "to root out al Qaeda and other remnants of the extremist networks."

The Obama government would ensure that these extremists "don't find save havens in Pakistan or plan attacks against us or any other country," said Clinton.

India should be ready for war like situation: Army General Deepak

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 11:16 pm

NEW DELHI: The head of Indian army General Deepak Kapoor Wednesday said India should to remain prepared for the war-like situation in the wake of regional tension.

Addressing army officers and later speaking at a news conference in the capital, he said the Indian army was ready to face every type of situation.

The possibility of clash could not be ruled out in the view of regional situation, however, he said the operational preparations of Indian army should to be finalised to ensure defence of the country.

He said following the Mumbai attacks India was keeping all options open.

Post Mumbai attack, Army seeks more equipment to strengthen forces

In the wake of the 60-hour hostage drama that unfolded in Mumbai last year, highlighting the lacunae in the Indian Special Forces, the Army has asked for more counter terrorism equipment and decided to fast track the procurement process.

Interacting with the media ahead of the 61st Army Day, Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor said the Army has sought “better guns and goggles to remove night blindness" in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack in which more than 170 people were killed.

“Post-Mumbai, a degree of equipment for the special forces has been added to the list. The list includes more counter-terrorism equipment to improve the capabilities of the forces," he said.

The lack of adequate equipment, like helmets with inbuilt communication systems and night vision goggles, for the National Security Guards during the 60-hour operation in Mumbai had invited criticism from all quarters.

“We have not brought any guns since 1986. We require better communication facility, better precision targeting capabilities.

“We have issued RFPs (request for proposal) for all guns. This process is ongoing. For air defence we have issued RFPs for QRSMs (quick reactions surface missiles),” Kapoor said.

The defence ministry had issued the request for proposals (RFPs) for three variants of the howitzer guns - light, wheeled and self-propelled - a year ago.

In a push to the Indian Army's decade-old modernisation plan of its artillery, overseas vendors have submitted bids for 180 155mm/52 calibre towed and light howitzers. The trials are expected to commence in February or March.

India and the US talk missile defense
By Siddharth Srivastava

NEW DELHI - Concerned about the threats emerging from Pakistan in the wake of the November terror attack in Mumbai and the predominant position of China, official sources told Asia Times Online that there had been considerable acceleration in India-US efforts to jointly build a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system.

The pressure is being applied by the Indian armed forces, with New Delhi willing to play along, given it sees "non-state players and other loose cannons increasingly gaining ground in Pakistan".
Officials say that Indian intelligence agencies perceive a potent terror threat from the skies. The Indian Air Force has already put

the retrofitting of Sukhoi-30MKI combat jets with the aerial version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, jointly developed by India and Russia, on the fast track.

A missile shield would provide cover against inter-continental ballistic missiles. The system features radar and anti-missile missiles, or interceptors, which are able to destroy incoming and possibly nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, both of which Pakistan and China possess.

New Delhi feels that given the large number of such missiles in production, some could easily be acquired by rogue elements, especially in Pakistan, who could launch an unexpected attack.

Last year, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited India and made it clear that, given India's status as the US's strategic partner in the Asian region, Washington was looking to expand military-to-military relationships, including the joint development of a missile shield.

It may be recalled that India has conducted "exo" and "endo" atmospheric missile interceptor tests in the past two years, with reports indicating the possibility of a third integrated interceptor missile test soon.

The first test took place in November 2006, when an "exo-atmospheric" hypersonic interceptor missile successfully destroyed an incoming missile at an altitude of about 40-50 kilometers, thus demonstrating a BMD capability similar to the Israeli Arrow-2 system.

The second test, similar to the American PAC-3 system, took place in December 2007, wherein an "endo-atmospheric" interceptor successfully took on an "enemy" missile at a 15km altitude.

The state-controlled apex defense outfit, the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO), claimed that it would have Phase-I missiles as part of its BMD system, capable of neutralizing 2,000-km range missiles, ready for deployment by 2011 or 2012. Phase-II will look to thwart threats from missiles with ranges of up to 5,000 km.

However, given the DRDO's dubious achievements and delayed delivery record, observers agree that the involvement of international expertise would speed things up. The US has already provided Indian officials with access to DRDO computer simulations of at least two live missile launches, as per reliable sources.

In the context of emerging threats from Pakistan and the changing strategic relations between India and the US, New Delhi has been looking to Washington to hasten its military achievements and capabilities.

As part of its global efforts against terror, Washington has sought to involve India to strengthen its nuclear defense abilities and effectively neutralize threats from volatile states in the sub-continent, apart from the obvious business generated from such big collaborations.

One US Embassy official was recently quoted by a prominent British paper as saying, "India is a partner of ours, and we want to provide it with whatever it needs to protect itself. This fits into the overall strategic partnership we are building."

US defense firm Lockheed Martin, with offers of Patriot and THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile systems, has already been talking to the DRDO. In February last year, Lockheed said "exploratory discussions" had taken place with New Delhi and industry representatives.

Israel and Russia have made similar presentations to India in the past, demonstrating their anti-tactical ballistic missile systems "S-300V" and "Arrow-2", respectively. The French are also in contention.

Meanwhile, the US has also been keen to implement a missile defense system in Europe, using Poland and the Czech Republic to counter perceived threats from Iran. The move has resulted in a diplomatic pow-wow between the US and Russia in recent months. In December, the US announced the successful testing of the missile defense system in Alaska.

The US's offer to help India with its own BMD is an extension of the already burgeoning defense relations between the two countries. Presently, the US lags well behind Russia, Israel and France in terms of supplying military hardware and software to India. However, this may change quickly.

While the focus usually rests on the India-US civilian nuclear deal as the one example of growing ties between the two countries, defense is an important arena progressing at even pace. Post-2005, India-US strategic relations moved beyond the Cold War sanctions on India, which at the time was seen to be aligned with the Soviet Union.

The 2005 Defense Framework Agreement signed between the two countries blueprints progress to be made in the next 10 years.

In the latest development, the decks have been cleared for an India-US defense deal of about US$2 billion for eight Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft for the Indian navy.

The LRMR planes will replace its eight aging and fuel-guzzling Russian-origin Tupolev-142Ms, while the deal itself is the continuation of a slow but definite deepening of India-US defense relations in the past few years.

The LRMR deal supersedes last year's US$1-billion contract signed with the US for six C-130J "Super Hercules" aircraft for use by Indian special forces. This has opened a potential multi-billion dollar market to American manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.

Apart from the C-130J deal, the US's only substantial (and comparatively less in value) arms deal with India in recent years has been the US$190 million contract of 2002 to supply 12 AN/TPQ-37 fire finder weapon-locating radars.

Last year, India purchased an amphibious transport vessel, the USS Trenton (re-christened Jalashwa), for nearly $50 million with six-UH-3H helicopters to operate alongside, costing another $49 million. The Jalashwa is the first-ever warship acquired by the Indian navy from the US and the second-biggest that India now possesses after the aircraft carrier INS Viraat.

Now, the India-US defense relationship is only expected to deepen. Both Lockheed and Boeing are principal bidders in the estimated US$11 billion deal for India's procurement of 126 medium fighter jet aircraft, while incoming US president Barack Obama has shown every sign that he will continue the India-US entente.

Siddharth Srivastava is a New Delhi-based journalist. He can be reached at

A last bid to save the Arjun main battle tank project

January 14th, 2009 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS -

New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) The Indian Army will conduct head-to-head “comparative trials” of the indigenous Arjun main battle tank (MBT), under development for over three decades, and the Russian-built T-90 tanks in June. This is seen as a last desperate bid to save the Arjun project that has already cost the exchequer Rs.3.5 billion ($71.7 million). The Indian Army had hitherto been ambiguous on the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) demand that the Arjun tank, which India has been trying to manufacture indigenously for nearly 36 years, be assessed head-to-head with the T-90 tanks that the army currently operates.

“Any comparison or comments on the performance or reliability (between Arjun and T-90 tanks) can be made only after the Arjun undergoes comparative trials, which we intend to conduct in June this summer,” a senior army official told IANS.

The army has made it clear that it will buy no more than the 124 Arjuns it has contracted for because it is unhappy with the tank on various counts. This apart, the army says the Arjun can at best remain in service for five to 10 years while it is looking 20 years ahead and needs a futuristic MBT.

The DRDO demand for the comparative trials of the two tanks is being seen as a desperate bid to save the Arjun as it would need to manufacture at least 500 tanks to make the project feasible.

Drawing a comparison between the two tanks, DRDO says Arjun has a greater power-to-weight ratio, a hydro-pneumatic suspension system for a more comfortable ride, a stable platform to fire on the move and a superior fire control system.

“The Arjun costs Rs.168 million while the T-90 costs around Rs.120 million. But, then, the Arjun compares favourably with contemporary western MBTs of its class that cost in the range of Rs.170 to 240 million,” a DRDO official said.

However, experts see the Arjun tank as complete disaster.

“The Arjun tank is cumbersome for strategic movement, i.e. to be taken from one sector to another. It is too wide and too heavy to be moved in the railway carriages that we have in India. The comparative trials are just an eyewash as Arjun is incomparable to T-90,” said strategic analyst, retired Lt. Col. Anil Bhat.

The army had last year told a key parliamentary panel that the Arjun failed to deliver at the winter trials conducted in the Rajasthan desert in 2007. The army said that many improvements would have to be carried out before it was satisfied with the tank.

It listed various defects, including a deficient engine and fire control system, inaccurate guns, low speeds in tactical areas - principally the desert - and the tank’s inability to operate in temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius.

The Indian Army laid down its qualitative requirement (QR) for the Arjun in 1972. In 1982, it was announced that the prototype was ready for field trials. However, the tank was publicly unveiled for the first time only in 1995.

Arjun was originally meant to be a 40-tonne tank with a 105 mm gun. It has now grown to a 50-tonne tank with a 120 mm gun. The tank was meant to supplement and eventually replace the Soviet-era T-72 MBT that was first inducted in the early 1980s.

However, delays in the Arjun project and Pakistan’s decision to purchase the T-80 from Ukraine, prompted India to order 310 T-90s, an upgraded version of the T-72, in 2001.

EADS Pulled Back From U.S. Defense Acquisition

Dienstag, 13. Januar 2009, 17:09 Uhr

2009-01-13_Louis Gallois NEWPORT, Wales -(Dow Jones)- European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. NV (5730.FR) pulled out of a planned acquisition of a large U.S. defense-sector company at the end of last year amid worsening financial and economic conditions, EADS Chief Executive Louis Gallois said Tuesday. (Foto: ddp)

Gallois told reporters that Europe's largest aerospace company "was on the way to send the check" to seal the deal in the last quarter of 2008 when EADS' board got cold feet and unanimously decided to shelve the plan.

Gallois and other executives were tightlipped about the identity of the acquisition target, but Gallois indicated that it recently had won a major U.S. Defense Department contract.

Stefan Zoller, chief executive of EADS' defense and security division, said: "A very bold cash-out for acquisitions is obviously a no-go for the time being." But he said that doesn't exclude "smaller, smarter" acquisitions that can strengthen EADS' position in, for example, security electronics, a booming market in the U.S.

Gallois said that the decision to shy away from the acquisition was taken in order to preserve EADS' net cash position that stood at over EUR9 billion at the end of last year. That cushion is allowing the company to get through the financial upheaval "without injury so far" at a time of tight and expensive credit.

Preserving a solid cash cushion will be a major priority for the company in 2009, as it will allow EADS to provide financing to cash-strapped Airbus customers and suppliers, though this will be done "cautiously."

Gallois called on governments to do something about the reluctance of banks to lend to airlines, noting that aircraft financing is typically arranged with government guarantees provided by export credit agencies.

"Obviously, we have to invest in India," Zoller said, adding: "It is the upcoming market."

EADS wouldn't confirm its 2008 earnings guidance except to say that revenue topped EUR42 billion compared to EUR39.12 billion in 2007. The company has said previously it expected revenue of over EUR40 billion. He also made no projections for 2009.

Order intake last year was more than EUR90 billion, he said, and the company is sitting on an order backlog of over EUR400 billion.

Airbus orders were better than expected, Gallois said, and the plane builder was able to ensure comfortable margins. Airbus will give details of its 2008 performance later this week.

The A400M military transport aircraft program is a major headache for EADS, and the company is trying to renegotiate the terms of its fixed-price contract with OCCAR, the group representing customer governments, as well as its suppliers.

Gallois acknowledged that EADS had "underestimated" the complexity of the program to build 180 totally new turboprop military cargo planes.

"We thought it was a flying truck, a normal Airbus, but it's a much more complex airplane," Gallois said, as it will have full military specifications. Normally, a military aircraft takes at least 10 years to develop, but Airbus was asked to it in just 6 1/2 years.

Faced with mounting anger from air forces that were counting on having the plane in a few years to fill urgent needs in airlift capacity, Gallois said EADS could perhaps offer "bridging" solutions, such as offering militarized versions of its wide-bodied A330 passenger jet.

EADS' Airbus unit has frozen plans to ramp up its production rate for large commercial aircraft, and Gallois reaffirmed that "it is not excluded" that production will be wound down at some point if demand fades. But he said there were no plans at present for a "significant" reduction in headcount, noting that recourse to temporary employees offers flexibility.

Gallois repeated an earlier prediction that EADS's target of delivering 21 A380 superjumbos to airlines this year could be missed by "a couple."

At 1453 GMT, EADS shares traded up EUR0.22, or 1.7%, at EUR13.44 in a broadly weaker French market. The shares have lost 29% of their value in the past 12 months amid concerns about the aerospace sector.

Mumbai attacks a big challenge for US: Hillary

14 Jan 2009, 0000 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The Mumbai terror attack has emerged as a big challenge to the Obama presidency, Hillary Clinton, presumptive secretary of state, said at her confirmation hearing in the US Senate.

While incoming US president Barack Obama considers the central fight against terrorism to be in Pakistan-Afghanistan, Hillary said, "We will build on our economic and political partnership with India, the world's most populous democracy and a nation with growing influence in the world."

But Pakistan and Afghanistan will clearly be in the crosshairs of the new administration, because not only the stabilization of Afghanistan but rooting out terrorism, Taliban and al-Qaida will all converge in the policy and approach to Pakistan.

India will also be bracing itself for some diplomatic pressure from the US on CTBT. Hillary said, "The Non-Proliferation Treaty is the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime, and the United States must exercise the leadership needed to shore up the regime. So, we will work with this committee and the Senate toward ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and reviving negotiations on a verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty."

Recognizing that Pakistan will be a complex piece of the game, Hilary admitted that it was one of the main challenges being faced by the incoming Obama administration. "Pakistan has a particular complexity because of its nuclear weapons capacity," she said. Pakistan was a complicated problem as "it has many dimensions to it, the relationship with India, the relationship with Afghanistan, the role that Iran and others are playing in that region", she said.

"Equally important will be a comprehensive plan using all elements of our power - diplomacy, development and defence - to work with those in Afghanistan and Pakistan who want to root out al-Qaida, the Taliban and other violent extremists who threaten them as well as us in what president-elect Barack Obama has called the central front in the fight against terrorism. We need to deepen our engagement with these and other countries in the region and pursue policies that improve the lives of the Afghan and Pakistani people," she said.

It's likely that among the first decisions of the Obama administration will be to authorize the 30,000 surge in Afghanistan, at least until it gets a better grip of how to handle Pakistan. "Terrorism remains a serious threat and we must have a comprehensive strategy, leveraging intelligence, diplomacy and military assets to defeat al-Qaida and like-minded terrorists by rooting out their networks and drying up support for their violent and nihilistic extremism. The gravest threat that America faces is the danger that weapons of mass destruction will fall into the hands of terrorists. To ensure our future security, we must curb the biological, chemical or cyber threats while we take the lead in working with others to reduce current nuclear stockpiles and prevent the development and use of dangerous new weaponry," Hillary said.

‘Conscription for civil officers and politicians should be made mandatory’

Express News Service Posted: Jan 15, 2009 at 0225 hrs

Chandigarh The Indian Army is the best in the world. The performance of its men is unparallel as they have shown valour during the two World Wars, post-Independence battles and during natural calamities.

They have fought, lived and worked in a true spirit of the armed forces keeping intact the nation’s integrity and unity. Our army is truly secular, having its men from different religions but performing their duties with unflinching loyalty.

The Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations are highly damaging and have demoralised the defence fraternity. The Centre should restore their dignity and status and look after their interests properly. When confronted with a similar situation, Second World War veteran Gen Omer Bradley of the US Army aptly said: “Inferior inducements bring second rate men. Second rate men bring second security. In war, there is no prize for a runner up.”

Our politicians and civil officials sitting and working in air-conditioned rooms are unable to visualise the service conditions of the armed forces. A quick flying visit by a minister or a civil official for an hour or so to difficult terrains like Siachin does not give the true picture of the terribly inhospitable conditions.

Troops face acute loneliness, difficulty in breathing, cases of pulmonary edema and snow blindness, not to forget that there are no fresh vegetables and greens, delayed mail and emotional vacuum.

It is not easy to serve in the Army. Almost two-thirds of the soldier’s service life is spent in non-family field areas.

The element of risk and danger is perpetual in most of their operational deployment scenarios. The work schedule is round the clock for days on end. When one unit gets a peace tenure, it is usually in a remote station, which offers no job for spouses and where educational facilities are primitive. A few lucky ones get posted in metros and have to wait for nearly 12 to 18 months before being allotted the entitled accommodation.

Lack of monetary benefits, difficult service conditions, separation from family, attitude of civil officials towards the armed forces are the main factors, which force young men not to join the forces.

They go for lucrative jobs in private sectors with more pay and perks, less risk to life, hardly any separation and cosy family life.

As a result, there is a shortage of 14,264 officers in the armed forces.

In the Army alone, 11,238 officers slots are vacant, while the Air Force is short of 1,565 officers and Navy needs 1,461 more officers. Not only this, a large number of officers have applied for pre-retirement.

It is high time that pay, perks, status and service conditions were improved to make the armed forces attractive and worthy of service with dignity and honour.

Three to five years service should be mandatory for all IAS, IPS and other Class I government officers.

It will enable then to understand the problems of the armed forces and develop respect for those who servethe nation and defend its borders.

One to two years attachment with the armed forces for politicians and their wards should be made compulsory to have first-hand knowledge of the armed forces. It is how we can have better armed forces to serve the country.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal