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Saturday, 31 January 2009

From Today's Papers - 31 Jan 09

Lt Cols to get higher pay
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
The pay-related issue of Lieutenant Colonels has finally been resolved. The Ministry of Defence is to issue instructions that would enable most of the Lt Colonels to get an enhanced pay band-IV status. Only a minuscule number of officers, who are on deputation to public sector organisations, will not be eligible for the new status.

The move will benefit about 11,000 officers in the rank of Lt Colonel and their equivalent ranks — that is Wing Commanders in the IAF and Commanders in the Navy. The MoD’s move clears the confusion that had been created following a note from the Prime Minister’s Office that had allowed enhanced pay band-IV status only to those officers who are in combat or ready-to-combat posts.

Formal instructions are expected in day or two. Pay band-IV status means an increase of the existing pay scales between Rs 10,000-12,000 per month.

Now, three categories are to be formed to classify the Lt Cols. First will be those working in the field. The Army, IAF and Navy formations will be treated as working on combat posts. The same will true for officers who have been sent out to the Assam Rifles or other such forces deployed in regular frontline duties. This had to be done legally. The deputation can be with consent of an officer. In case of the Army, no consent is sought.

Officers working on various posts in the ordinance factories and national cadet crops, among others will be treated on “ready-to-combat” posts. They will also get enhanced the pay band-IV status.

The ones who will not get the new status are those working with organisations like ONGC, Pawan Hans or National Highways Authority of India. All such officers are, in any case, not getting their salaries from the Armed forces and are paid by their respective organisations.

Pension of Generals increased by Rs 3,000
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
The pension of Generals, who were granted pension lower to that of Colonels, following the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission has now been enhanced. Further, the new pension of Lieutenant Colonels, who retired prior to January 2006, is expected to be fixed at Rs 25,700 once the notification of their upgradation to pay band-IV comes through.

An additional fitment of Rs 3,000 per month to be incorporated in the pensions of Major Generals and Lieutenant Generals, who had retired prior to January 1, 2006, has been sanctioned.

A letter sent to the service headquarters by the Defence Ministry’s Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare on January 20 states that keeping in view that Colonels and Brigadiers have been placed in pay band-IV and military service pay of Rs 6,000 is reckoned in their case for stepping up pension, the pension of Generals be similarly regulated.

The letter states that it may be ensured that the pension is not lower than 50 per cent of minimum of pay band-IV plus notional military service pay of Rs 6,000 along with grade pay of Rs 10,000 for Major Generals and Rs 12,000 for Lieutenant Generals.

According to new pension scales applicable to pre-2006 retirees, the basic pension for Colonels is now Rs 26,050, for Brigadiers Rs 26,150, for Major Generals Rs 26,700 and for Lieutenant Generals now is Rs 27,700.

The basic pension of Major Generals and Lieutenant Generals was earlier fixed lower than Colonels and Brigadiers at Rs 23,700 and Rs 24,700, respectively. This so happened because military service pay is not admissible to General ranks.

“The pension of General ranks had to be stepped up since a higher rank cannot be sanctioned a pension lower than an inferior rank,” Maj Navdeep Singh, a local lawyer said.

“Similar anomalies resulted in the Fifth Pay Commission, when the pension of some Major Generals was fixed at rates lower that that of Brigadiers. The pension of Major Generals was later upgraded by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Supreme Court,” he added.

Meanwhile, with the government ruling out the implementation of one rank-one pension severe disparity of armed forces pensioners retiring at different times would continue to exist.

Tackling Terror
Commando unit for rlys soon
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 30
In the backdrop of Mumbai terror strikes, the Railways is gearing up to raise a special commando outfit, on the lines of National Security Guards, to repulse terrorist attacks at railway stations and its properties.

Selected personnel from railway battalions would be given rigorous commando training on the lines of NSG and would be posted at vulnerable and sensitive railway stations and other places, Union Minister of State for Railways R Velu said here.

He was speaking to reporters after visiting Secunderabad railway station here and reviewing its modernisation works. An integrated security system was being worked out for 140 select railways stations across the country that are prone to attacks, apart from the four metro cities, the minister said.

As a part of the measures to beef up security, CCTVs would be installed at all these stations to monitor the movements of suspicious persons, apart from placing the services of bomb disposal and dog squads at the disposal of the railways.

The X-ray machines, metal detectors and enhanced Railway Protection Force (RPF) force would be made part of the enhanced security set-up to meet the emerging challenges.

On the modernisation of Secunderabad station, headquarters of south central railways, he said it would be upgraded into a world-class railway station with amenities like budget hotel, shopping malls, banks and stores.

Velu said Rs 8.50 crore has already been spent on various developmental works while Rs. 2.20 crore worth works were in progress. The proposed escalators would be installed within the next two years.

Kayani: Army set to curb Taliban in Swat
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has announced the launch of a “decisive and final” operation in the troubled Swat region while vowing to establish the writ of the government.

Kayani made an unannounced trip to the area and addressed officers and troops who have been stuck in the violence-stricken valley for the past nearly one year where pro-Taliban religious extremists under Maulvi Fazlullah now appear to control most of the region. Sixteen more persons, including seven militants, were killed and 23 others injured in Swat violence on Wednesday.

The army has imposed curfew in Mangora, capital of Swat, after a raft of incidents of killings by the extremists. On the eve of army chief’s visit, the army took tough measures to impose the curfew. Military spokesman Maj Nasir Ali came out with a hard-hitting statement saying the operation would be “decisive and final”.

“The militants who are sponsored by foreign spy agencies would be completely crushed and their strongholds would be destroyed or captured,” he said.

Though the spokesman said the troops had been given “fresh directions”, he did not elaborate upon it. He said the army chief vowed that “no amount of sacrifice will deter us from our duty.”

Afghanistan troops build up a delicate endeavor, US in close contact with Pakistan- Pentagon

WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (APP): The Pentagon on Thursday said no decision has yet been made on deployment of additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan and it has been in close touch with Islamabad over the proposal, which, if actualized, would also help Pakistan in curbing cross-border militancy.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told a briefing that Secretary Defense Robert Gates is expected to give recommendation on the proposal to President Barack Obama, the new commander in chief ‘in the coming days.’

He remarked the additional troops in Afghanistan will be ‘a delicate plus-up because you’ve got to do it commensurate to the infrastructure that exists’ in austere Afghanistan,

Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan as well as NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, has asked his bosses for a 30,000-troop increase, which effectively would double the U.S. military contingent in Afghanistan.

Citing contacts between the top Pakistani and American military leaders, he said the Pentagon is “in close communication with our partners in Pakistan” over the desire of U.S. commanders on bolstering troop deployment in Afghanistan.

“I don’t think this is lost on anyone. But I would remind them, as I remind you, that no decision yet has been made on this. And so—but this certainly should not be viewed as any sort of threat to Pakistan. This should be viewed as a way to help them combat a problem in their midst as well.

“I mean, they have complained about what they believe to be the fact that the border in the Northwest Territories, in the tribal areas, is too porous in both ways, in that militants and extremists are able to move freely back and forth, greater than either of us would like. And so that’s why we are seeing much better cooperation in terms of border security between us, the Afghans and the Pakistan military. So I don’t think they should view it as anything but a positive if this comes to be,” he said in response to a question.

Asked if India is going to play a greater role in Afghanistan, he said, India is a significant political and economic partner of the Afghan government but he was not aware of any plan for a more pronounced Indian role in that country.

“I know there’s a great deal of investment by India in Afghanistan. I think this is a country that is in desperate need of investment and, I’m sure, would welcome it from all corners of the earth. So, but I couldn’t tell you that I have any knowledge of a gameplan for India to play a more pronounced role in Afghanistan.”

Questioned about new details on the US exploring alternate supply lines to Afghanistan in view of troops build up plan, Morrell said attacks on some of the lines of communication from Pakistan into Afghanistan have ‘not had an operational impact.’

“We, you know, keep large surpluses of supplies, materiel, weapon—ammunition and so forth. But we obviously do need to have supply lines coming into Afghanistan to sustain this fight. Not just us, by the way. The Afghan military needs it especially.”

“But we have—we don’t put all our eggs in one basket, either. While our relationship with the Pakistani government and their assistance with these supply lines has been very good, we have also looked and are pursuing, and to some degree have, additional supply lines from the north as well. And I stress, supply lines. There are multiple avenues which we believe we are—we will have to supply troops in Afghanistan from the north as well.”

Morrell saw no prospects of India being considered an alternate supply route. ‘I don’t believe so,’ he replied when an Indian journalist asked if the U.S. could try India as a route.

Indian Army to induct amphibious brigade next month news

30 January 2009

New Delhi: The Indian Army is all set to operationalise its own amphibious brigade next month, which will likely form the core of a much larger marine force over the coming years. As with all marine forces, the 91 infantry brigade will be tasked with conducting offensive and defensive operations from the sea.

INS JalashwaWhile expeditionary forces can be airborne or seaborne this is the first time that the Indian Army has raised a sea-based force large enough to be considered as an expeditionary force. So far, an infantry battalion has been undertaking such amphibious responsibilities on transfer to the tri-services command at Andaman and Nicobar islands.

It is not clear if Tiruvananthapuram-based 91 infantry brigade will become the core unit of any such permanent marine force.

Since the air force has a heavy air-lift capability transport of a large number of troops over long distances is possible. In the case of the sea, larger capabilities are now becoming possible thanks to the acquisition of the INS Jalashwa (ex-USS Trenton) from the United States Navy in 2007. The amphibious transport dock ship can ferry up to 1,000 troops at a time over long distances, and provides expeditionary capability to the Indian defence forces for the first time.

The most advanced amphibious warships of the Indian Navy, such as the Landing Ship Tank, INS Shardul, are more limited in their capabilities but adequate to fulfil littoral needs.

The 91 infantry brigade has been undergoing training for a year.

The brigade currently is composed of battalions from the Sikh, Gorkha and Madras regiments. It is not clear if these units will transfer to other duties once the normal course of deployment with a particular brigade is over or will stay on to become the core units for a permanent marine force.

Earlier this month, the amphibious brigade was part of a tri-services war game "Triveni" centred on an island in the Lakshadweep and Minicoy group.

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