Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

From Today's Papers - 04 Feb 09

It is not for the soldier to demand; it is for the nation to provide
By: Jasbir Sarai

The country has just concluded the joyous celebrations of its 60th Republic Day. The tradition of holding the Republic Day Parade every year has been subject to a lot of debate and articulation over the years. There is a strong lobby that advocates abrogation of the tradition since it involves an avoidable expenditure apart from causing inconvenience to the general public. In order to understand the need for continuing with this tradition it is necessary to dwell on the reasons for holding it in the first place. The Parade is held so that the President, as Supreme Commander, gets an opportunity to review the Armed Forces under his or her command and be reassured about the ability of these forces to defend the nation. The forces in turn reiterate their loyalty to the elected government of the Republic and their Supreme Commander. While doing so the might of the nation is also exhibited to the world, the national heroes are awarded and homage is paid to the martyrs.
In essence the whole ceremony is all about generating a feeling of nationalism. The most moving part is the honour that the grateful nation bestows upon its gallant soldiers who have won laurels with their feats of bravery and in some cases have sacrificed their lives to uphold the national spirit. This year all personnel who lost their lives and were killed in the horrendous terrorist attack at Mumbai on November, 26, were awarded the Ashok Chakra, the highest award for gallantry in operations other than War. Eleven Ashok Chakra's were awarded to our brave soldiers from the Army, the Para Military Forces and the Police.
Undoubtedly the feats of the brave soldiers were deserving of the award but a true spirit of nationalism demands that the sacrifice of all sons of India be measured in equal terms. To elaborate, the Nation must never forget that apart from these brave martyrs there are many in this year and before who have made similar sacrifices for the country. 70 brave soldiers of the Indian Army have embraced martyrdom in 2008. The War Memorial in the Udhampur based Northern Command alone holds the names of 10,000 plus martyrs. The pain that is being felt by the families of these fallen heroes is as great as the pain being felt by say the father of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, the NSG officer who died fighting terrorists in Mumbai.
I have two simple questions; would young Sandeep's father received the same attention if his son had been awarded the Ashok Chakra while fighting militancy in Kashmir. My second question; is the loss suffered by Rattan Tata due to the action in the Taj Mahal Hotel at Mumbai any greater than the loss suffered by a poor man in Kashmir whose house has been bought down due to an encounter with militants and who, unlike Rattan Tata, does not have the means to ever reconstruct the same.
The nation should be more sober, understated, reticent and equitable while showing its respect for those who have taken upon themselves the mantle of security. Moreover, consciousness of their contribution to the national cause has to be ongoing rather than event and ceremony based. Every Indian should exhibit this feeling from within and all actions required to uphold the respect, morale and fighting capability of the soldiers should form part of the national cause. Ceremonies and theatrics should not be allowed to replace real time respect for the Indian soldier.
Even as the heroes are being felicitated the Armed Forces are embroiled in a debilitating and humiliating bureaucratic spat over the award of the Sixth Pay commission. This apart, the defence procurement procedures have been made so complex that the forces are reeling under the pressure of being badly under equipped. The matter is further aggravated by knee jerk measures that are adopted as reactions to incidents of security breaches as and when they occur. The NSG can requisition an aircraft at will but only after India has suffered the humiliation of the 26/11 incident. Guided Missiles are purchased off the shelf only when a military face off with a foreign power becomes eminent. A national and governmental attitude of this nature does nothing to build the morale of the soldier or give him confidence about his relationship with the State, it leads to avoidable cynicism amongst those who need to maintain a high threshold of ideology, whereby, all the affection showered by the nation gets negated.
Defence is too serious a matter to be subject to governmental dithering and procrastination. The leaders must be firm and decisive in all matters related to security and decisions must be well considered and above all timely. There is no scope for bureaucratic red tape in such matters. If the government feels that it can motivate its nationals to sacrifice their lives for a salary of Rs 1000/ per month by all means give no more. If we feel that we can do without advanced weaponry then the government should call upon the youth to join the national Armed Forces and fight with bows and arrows. It is not for the soldier to demand, it is for the Nation to provide. There is no point in having mammoth establishments like the Ministry of Defence supported by Headquarters of the three services sitting on prime land in New Delhi while the soldier on ground is suffering pangs due to bad equipment, inadequate pay and pathetic living conditions.
The issue of accountability and the transparency is also of prime importance in matters relating to defence and security? Timely decisions with the public kept in the information loop are of utmost importance. The government should not be allowed to hide its inadequacies behind a veil of self proclaimed need for secrecy.
Furthermore, if the forces feel that they are not ready for war they should come out openly with their apprehensions. In fact, Defence policy should form part of the election manifesto of all political parties and the general public should debate the same as is done in the US. If we are true nationals then we need to go beyond mere ceremonies and be honest with our soldiers, failing which, the chances are bright that on one crucial day the soldier will fail us. –(ADNI)

Govt agrees on Lt Cols pay hike demand

Posted by Nagpal Jee on Tuesday, February 3, 2009, 11:01

This news item was posted in India News category and has 0 Comments so far.

After the armed forces rejected a proposal from Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to place only Lieutenant Colonels (Lt Col) in the Pay Band-4 (PB-4), who were in combat or ready-to-combat roles, the Government on Monday (February 2) “partially accepted” their demand by placing majority of them in the demanded pay bracket.

The letter sanctioning the demand was received by the Services headquarters on Monday, Defence Ministry sources said in New Delhi. The grade-pay issue of Lt Cols with their IAS counterparts has still not been resolved. As per the communication received by the services, Lt Cols have been upgraded to the pay bracket of Rs 37,400 -67,000 and will get a grade pay of Rs 8,000 from the earlier scale of Rs 15,600 - 39,100 with grade pay of Rs 7,600.

Services had demanded grade pay of Rs 8,700, which the IAS officers have been getting after the implementation of the 6th Pay Commission recommendations. After this decision, majority of the Lt Cols will be upgraded to the PB-4. But officers on deputation to organisations such as National Highway Authority of India, IRCON and Pawan Hans will continue to be in PB-3.

The letter issued by Defence Ministry says that officers on postings with DRDO, DGQA, NCC, on deputation or on foreign assignments will be benefited by this move. Officers posted with organisations such as Assam Rifles, National Security Guard and Border Roads Organisation will also be in the PB-4.

After the upgradation of pay scales, Lt Cols would now be senior to deputy secretaries in the Central Government, directors in state governments and senior superintendents of police. The revised salaries are expected to be paid from next month, sources said. There are about 10,000 Lt Cols and equivalent officers in the three Services. After this, less than 50 officers would be left in the PB-3.

In a letter to the Defence Ministry, tri-services’ Principal Personnel Officers Committee chairman Vice Admiral D K Dewan had last month said the armed forces wanted all Lt Cols to be placed under the Pay B and-4 including those on deputation to paramilitary and other services.

The armed forces had told Defence Ministry that it did not favour another PMO proposal to not to send Lt Cols on deputation to other services. It said the services and the rules governing them did not make any distinction and that all of the officers were performing combat/ready-to-combat jobs.

Dewan had written the letter replying to a verbal query from the Defence Ministry on a December 31 PMO note that the government proposed to place only those Lt Cols serving in “combat/ready-to-combat” roles in Army, Navy and Air Force the Pay Band-4 benefits.

(With inputs from agencies)

Pay Band 4 for Indian Army Lt Cols

analysis: Was India ready for war? —Shahzad Chaudhry

Comparative deductions, in the domain of quantity in particular, are fallacious. It is a most simplistic approach to enumerating threat. Military capabilities in most professional outfits are multi-dimensional; these can help produce effects in many variations in combination with different elements

There has been consistent noise about the military option available to India following the Mumbai attacks in the Indian establishment, media, and, surprisingly, from within the military hierarchy. The effort to appease certain quarters is more than obvious and understood, but for military professionals to join in the rhetoric, especially when they are aware of the futility of appearing bellicose, is surprising.

Considering that General Deepak Kapoor has had to do exactly that as the Indian army chief leaves one to wonder if he himself is seeking reassurance through his own words. However, if General Kapoor happened to be making comments in relevance to the Indian Army Day, he must be given his time.

Manoj Joshi in his article “Was the [Indian] Army Ready for War” (Mail Today, January 17) has taken the wind out of the sails of the many hankering, superfluous notions of ‘Cold Start’ and ‘surgical strikes’. As this author had mentioned earlier in another piece on the subject of Cold Start (see The Friday Times, December 19, 2008), it shall take a while to equip, train, exercise and then reach the capacity to apply in pursuit of such a notion.

Usually, the learning curve is steep, since many old habits need to be first unlearned. But how many of the Cold Start objectives can really be achieved is a rather tenuous issue. Militaries are meant to attack and defend soundly, in the most efficient manner, and achieve the objectives of war in the earliest timeframe. This is what occupies planners, trainers and executioners.

Joshi’s analysis must then be viewed in this light. No army or force is ever equipped to its heart’s desire, such is the nature of funding, availability, limitations of technology, vested interests, and intractable processes of acquisition. A commander usually must do with what he has and prepare his force to fulfil the mission within the constraints. So to be short of one munition or another is of little pain.

What the militaries, however, do well is to consider the consequences of any action they might undertake. In such war-gaming, they predict the likely evolution of the action-reaction process leading to various hypotheses and conduct possibilities. They are equally good at studying the adversary and the environment, and based on accumulative deduction, will recommend to the government what they consider the best course of action. A government may then decide whether it wishes a war on itself or the saner route of negotiation and diplomatic interaction. Usually, thankfully, governments err on the side of safety.

Comparative deductions, in the domain of quantity in particular, are fallacious. It is a most simplistic approach to enumerating threat. Military capabilities in most professional outfits are multi-dimensional; these can help produce effects in many variations in combination with different elements.

Also, most countries and their armies will have the necessary wherewithal to achieve their mission. If a force has an offensive mission, it must be assumed that it is equipped and trained as an offensive element; an army with a predominantly defensive mission will have the means to fulfil its mission well. No commander, therefore, will ever underplay the strength of his adversary. This takes out the consideration of numbers and the balance of forces etc out of the equation.

Simply put, the armies and forces on either side should be assumed to have the ability to perform their mission — shortages or no shortages. Anything else should entail heads rolling.

There may, however, be one consideration when linear comparisons may have relevance. War on land is sequential and is executed in serial application in established and well-recognised cycles. The variations normally occur in beating the other in time and space co-relation; surprise because of any factor makes a battle winnable. Extraordinary and audacious courage will surprise an enemy. Other than this, armies employ fairly conventionally, in a fixed environment, throwing up only the given set of options. These are all well rehearsed and well covered on both sides.

Joshi’s assertion of numerical parity may be better understood through the following explanation. There is always an optimal troop density-to-space ratio that governs the numbers that can be inducted in a geographically defined area; anything less is a vulnerability while anything more is not only waste but disruptive. Congestion reduces the space for manoeuvre, and also offers targets for the other side.

In a typical Indo-Pakistan confrontation, troops-to-space ratios are saturated to the optimal level; where there may be slight gaps, those are covered through other means. Ground-friction is almost at the highest level with thriving population centres and habitats, and where these appear stretched, augmentation comes through natural and man-made obstacles. The wide swathes required for huge manoeuvres by mechanised forces are almost non-existent; and where they exist, the room for manoeuvre is extremely restricted.

That is why most wars in the Indo-Pakistan scenario end up being stalemates with only marginal territory exchange, and entirely unable to achieve the stated objectives.

The two air forces and the navies can also be compared on exactly the same premise: are they equipped, trained and exercised to be operationally prepared to undertake the mission assigned to them? It would be foolish to expect anything else. If a navy has a blue-water role, it has to be under fitment for that role. Similarly, a navy with a more specified role will have the necessary wherewithal for its offensive and defensive mission.

Air forces come into the equation as the primary instruments of modern warfare, which revolves around precision, efficiency in application and ability to engage across a wide and a deeper spectrum of geographical domain through parallel engagement. This is the main difference in land and air warfare: land warfare per se has to be linear and sequential, while air warfare is parallel and across the entire depth.

If one only considers what the Tamil Tigers’ tiny fleet of three ZLIN propeller aircraft did to Sri Lankan morale against a relatively much better equipped Sri Lankan Air Force, all pretensions of a surgical strike come crashing down. That is the nature of air warfare. The huge spaces that are available to it with least restrictive friction enable surprise and manoeuvre which, in combination with firepower and precision, make for a most efficient force application. A force just needs to be suitably equipped — rest is left to the ingenuity of the employing intellect, or the lack of it.

Finally, to the politics of recent pronouncements in India on war readiness: India has a unique problem with the recently instituted Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) system. Acting in rotation, the naval chief is currently the CDS. Given the predominance that armies enjoy as the senior service in all militaries of British antecedence, there remains quite a bit of turf sensitivity. This is traditional, and persistently irritating within a military system.

Was a difference of opinion on going to war with Pakistan a result of these inherent fault-lines? It is possible, though, that it was a very well considered decision to avoid an armed confrontation — educated, sane and professional. Anything else would have been catastrophic — and we are not talking nuclear yet.

The writer is a retired air vice marshal of the Pakistan Air Force and a former ambassador. He can be contacted at

India Again Terms Pakistan 'Epicenter'
of Global Terror

New Delhi
India Tuesday once again termed Pakistan the "epicenter" of global terrorism and urged it to act with "sincerity and decisiveness" against the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage.

"Pakistan has become the epicenter of international terrorism," Defence Minister A.K. Antony declared while inaugurating the 11th Asian Security Conference at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) here.

Noting that the positive gains of the past few years had been "destroyed" by the "dastardly" Mumbai attack, the minister said: "That major attacks of large magnitude can be planned and executed by elements in Pakistan totally undermines the solemn commitments to us made by its leadership that territory in its control would not be permitted to be used for terrorism."

Thus, Antony maintained, the onus was now on Pakistan "to act with sincerity and decisiveness against the perpetrators and controllers of such attacks".

"It is in the interest of this region and the rest of the world that such perpetrators of wanton violence are brought to justice and the infrastructure of terror is eliminated."

The world community too had a role to play since the "Frankenstein" of terrorism had become a threat to democracy, stability and peace in Afghanistan and to Pakistan itself, Antony maintained.

"The international community needs to act decisively and in concert to get rid of this scourge," Antony contended, adding, "We sincerely hope this approach would be the way ahead."

"As a victim of terrorism, we must remain committed to safeguarding the lives of our nationals and taking all the necessary steps to enhance and safeguard our security."

"The assault on Mumbai and many previous attacks on Indian cities over the past few years have gravely undermined peace and security," the minister maintained. "Afghanistan has been a victim of similar acts, as indeed have been other countries."

India has blamed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba for the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai mayhem that claimed the lives of more than 170 people, including 26 foreigners, and injured more than 300.

India Jan 5 submitted a detailed dossier to Pakistan pointing to the involvement of elements from its country in the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Sunday its Federal Investigation Agency had examined the dossier and had submitted a report that would soon be shared with India through diplomatic channels.

Addressing the Indian parliament in December 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Pakistan "the epicenter of terrorism" and said the international community must deal with the problem.

"We have to galvanize the international community to deal with the epicenter of terrorism, which is located in Pakistan," Singh said.

Antony also noted that in an era of rapid globalization, where nation states have "high stakes" in ensuring peace, conflicts in the form of civil wars, insurgencies and militancy would be the principal modes of armed conflict rather than a full blown war between two nations.

"Although external wars are no longer in vogue, civil wars, insurgencies and militancy have become the principal modes of armed conflict today. Many flow from identity movements, others from extremist ideologies, and yet others from social, economic and political ideologies," the minister said.

Conflicts could also occur "if particular regimes facing internal economic and political problems unleash nationalism and war against an external 'enemy' to rally popular support", Antony contended.

Pakistan could Charge 125 for Mumbai Attacks

Pakistan could prosecute as many as 125 people for their alleged role in the Mumbai terror attacks - but none of the top suspects India has named figure in the list, a media report said.

The group, including "anyone who made any suspicious contacts inside India as the attacks began", would be charged under Pakistan's cyber crimes laws because the suspects used Internet phones to communicate, ABC News quoted an unidentified intelligence official as saying.

"But few if any of the major terrorist leaders India is asking Pakistan to prosecute are included on this list," the official said.

ABC News said this reflected the delicate balance Pakistan was trying to achieve: "Appeasing international pressure to crack down on terrorists who have operated from its soil, and at the same time not completely dismantling groups that the intelligence agencies still see as assets."

India has blamed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba for the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai mayhem that claimed the lives of more than 170 people, including 26 foreigners, and injured more than 300.

India Jan 5 submitted a detailed dossier to Pakistan pointing to the involvement of elements from its country in the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Sunday the Federal Investigation Agency had examined the dossier and had submitted a report that would soon be shared with India through diplomatic channels.

On Tuesday, Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi Shahid Malik was summoned here for a briefing on Islamabad's probe into the Mumbai attacks.

"He was called to Islamabad for holding important consultation with the officials of the foreign and interior ministries in connection with the Mumbai attacks," The News said Tuesday, quoting foreign office sources.

"Pakistan raised certain questions before Indian officials in connection with Mumbai attacks and now the Indian government has provided answers to the same," it added.

Malik was called to Islamabad for "reviewing the Indian replies and holding consultation", The News said, adding: "The documents that Pakistan would prepare in the light of the Indian information would be handed over to Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Satyaprata Pal."

Also on Tuesday, India termed Pakistan the "epicentre" of global terrorism and urged it to act with "sincerity and decisiveness" against the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage.

"Pakistan has become the epicentre of international terrorism," Defence Minister A.K. Antony declared in New Delhi while inaugurating the 11th Asian Security Conference.

Noting that the positive gains of the past few years had been "destroyed" by the "dastardly" Mumbai attack, the minister said: "That major attacks of large magnitude can be planned and executed by elements in Pakistan totally undermines the solemn commitments to us made by its leadership that territory in its control would not be permitted to be used for terrorism."

26/11 Dossier
Pak to brief envoy to India

Islamabad, February 3
Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik arrived here today for consultations to finalise the country’s response to the Indian dossier on the Mumbai attack which is expected to be handed over this week.

Pakistan’s response is in its final stage and is being vetted by the foreign and interior ministries so that it can be handed over to India, diplomatic and other sources told PTI.

Malik arrived here this morning following summons from the Foreign Office to return to help finalise Pakistan’s response. The High Commissioner is expected to meet Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik, Law Minister Farooq Naek and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to discuss India’s response to questions Pakistan had posed after receiving the Indian dossier, sources said.

India’s replies will be used to finalise Pakistan’s response, they added. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Lahore that Pakistan’s report on its probe into the Mumbai attacks would be handed over to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad after a detailed review by the foreign and interior ministries.

Officials in the Indian High Commission told PTI that they had been given no indication as to when the Pakistani response would be handed over to them. — PTI

Lanka Conflict
Centre did not provide military aid: Karuna
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 3
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who had earlier stated that there were reports of military aid to Sri Lankan government when the AIADMK was in power, today denied that the Centre had provided such assistance to the island government.

To a question whether the Indian government was fighting a proxy war against Tigers in Sri Lanka, he said Defence Minister AK Antony had already denied such allegations.

In his earlier statement on the same issue, the DMK leader had said there were reports of military aid to the island government when Jayalalithaa was in power. To this Jayalalithaa had issued a counter, saying that the military assistance was given only after the UPA government assumed power in 2004. Even though the AIADMK was in power in Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi was responsible for the military aid, since his party was one of the consituents of the UPA, she had pointed out.

Karunanidhi expressed dissatisfaction over the Centre’s action to stop the ongoing war. He said even Foreign Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee would not be satisfied with the results of his visit.

To a query whether LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was the sole representative of Sri Lankan Tamils, Karunanidhi refrained from rejecting the opinion and simply said protection for Tamils and not Prabhakaran was the issue.

Although the state government, headed by the DMK, had issued a stern warning against tomorrow’s bandh, the DMK leader declined to spell out the party’s stand on the protest. When asked again what he would say to the people of the state on tomorrow’s bandh, he merely said the bandh was illegal.

Karunanidhi said innocent civilians in Sri Lanka were being killed by the Sri Lankan government even in places declared as safe zones, and appealed to everyone in Tamil Nadu to fight unitedly. He also welcomed the intervention of the United Nations in resolving the conflict.

NSCN (IM)-Assam Rifles rift comes to an end
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 3
The 14-day stand off between NSCN (IM) cadres and troops of the 17-Assam Rifles at Siroy in Ukhrul district of Manipur ended peacefully yesterday with NSCN (IM) cadres moving out of the area much to the relief of local people.

The Assam Rifles personnel had laid siege to a camp that the NSCN (IM) cadres were trying to set up at Siroy in violation of the ceasefire ground rules. The Assam Rifles wanted the NSCN (IM) cadres to move out of the area and go to any of the other three truce-time designated camps of the outfit in Manipur.

An Assam Rifles source in Manipur informed that the standoff came to an end after 25 cadres of the NSCN (IM), who were holed up, vacated their positions in the newly constructed camp. The NSCN rebels headed for another notified designated camp in the state.

The Assam Rifles troops, after providing safe passage to NSCN (IM), rebels withdrew the siege and went back to their operation headquarters nearby. The NSCN (IM), which is in ceasefire agreement with the Central forces in Nagaland, has three notified truce time camps in Manipur - one each at Senapati, Chandel and Tamenglong districts.

Obama Administration Faces Grim Specifics on Afghan Policy

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 3, 2009; 6:05 PM

As President Obama prepares to formally authorize the April deployment of two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, perhaps as early as this week, no issue other than the U.S. economy appears as bleak to his administration as the seven-year Afghan war and the regional challenges that surround it.

A flurry of post-inauguration activity -- presidential meetings with top diplomatic and military officials, the appointment of a high-level Afghanistan-Pakistan envoy and the start of a White House-led strategic review -- was designed to show forward motion and resolve, senior administration officials said.

But newly installed officials describe a situation on the ground that is far more precarious than they had anticipated, along with U.S. government departments that are poorly organized to implement the strategic outline that Obama presented last week to his National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

With a 60-day deadline, tied to an April 3 NATO summit, Obama has called for a more regional outlook and a more narrowly focused Afghanistan policy that sets priorities among counterinsurgency and development goals. "The president . . . wants to hear from the uniformed leadership and civilian advisers as to what the situation is and their thoughts as to the way forward," a senior administration official said. "But he has also given pretty direct guidance."

The problem confronting the administration is how to fill in Obama's broad strokes while fighting a war that, by all accounts, is going badly. "It could take quite a long time to look at all the various aspects of this," the senior official said. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates predicted last week that the war will be "a long slog" with an uncertain outcome. Richard C. Holbrooke, the new Afghanistan-Pakistan envoy, who left Tuesday for his first visit to the region, expects to spend weeks gathering information before he has much advice to give.

Meanwhile, the senior official acknowledged, "the world moves, obviously."

The two new U.S. brigades are set to arrive in Afghanistan in late April, with another planned to depart in August. But even with what is expected to be more than 30,000 additional U.S. troops this year -- bringing the U.S.-NATO total in Afghanistan to nearly 90,000 -- the international force will be insufficient to secure much of the country.

With the spring combat season near, the Taliban has rapidly increased its sophistication and reach. Neither the money nor the manpower is currently available to train and maintain an Afghan National Army that is expected to begin taking over security missions. Afghan elections are scheduled for summer, but U.S. officials see few viable alternatives to the ineffectual president, Hamid Karzai. Efforts to stem cultivation of opium poppies and the narcotics trade that lines Taliban and government pockets have made little discernible progress.

Nearly $60 billion ($32 billion of it from the United States) has already been spent on reconstruction programs in Afghanistan -- more than during five years of failed reconstruction in Iraq -- but such efforts remain "fragmented" and "lack coherence," according to U.S. government auditors. "I fear there are major weaknesses in strategy," retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said in a report released Friday.

Across the border in Pakistan, meanwhile, U.S. military officials are anxiously eyeing a map on which extremist gains are rapidly spreading eastward, toward major population centers, as the Taliban and al-Qaeda solidify their hold on the western frontier and form alliances with domestic terrorists. Islamabad's relations with neighboring India, a fellow nuclear power, remain tense after November's terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Officials described Obama's overall approach to what the administration calls "Af-Pak" as a refusal to be rushed, using words such as "rigor" and "restraint." "We know we're going to get [criticism] for taking our time," said a senior official, one of several in the administration and the military who would discuss the issue only on the condition of anonymity.

While acknowledging the difficulties that the Bush administration faced, Obama officials dismiss the first seven years of Afghanistan war policy, when that conflict took a back seat to the war in Iraq, as reactive, ad hoc and without what one called "a very keen sense of what the goal was."

Obama has ordered up a plan for diplomatic outreach to Iran and others in the region. Afghanistan and Pakistan are to be treated as a single theater of war and diplomacy, even as stability becomes a higher priority than democracy in Afghanistan and as the U.S. relationship with Pakistan is expanded and deepened.

The administration will also seek a new compact with hesitant European and other partners in the war effort, promising new leadership and focus and expecting more resources and commitment. And Obama wants to get beyond the lip service long paid to balance and coordination between the U.S. diplomatic and military services.

Senior administration officials described their approach to Pakistan -- as a major U.S. partner under serious threat of internal collapse -- as fundamentally different from the Bush administration's focus on the country as a Taliban and al-Qaeda "platform" for attacks in Afghanistan and beyond. But the officials acknowledged that a comprehensive Pakistan policy will take time and money. The administration will seek early congressional action on a "rebalanced" assistance program -- introduced in the Senate last summer by then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and co-sponsored by then-Sen. Obama -- that will triple economic aid and condition military assistance with benchmarks for progress in combating extremists.

The president will get little pushback on his broad goals from the military or civilian leaders. A newly completed review by the Joint Chiefs of Staff echoes his call for a broader approach to the region and better-defined objectives in Afghanistan. "We need a comprehensive strategy, not just the military side," Adm. Michael Mullen, the Joint Chiefs chairman, said in an interview Monday. "What has to be different is how we approach the future."

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. Central Command chief whose military responsibilities stretch from the Mediterranean to Pakistan, is compiling strategic recommendations based on reports from his own team of dozens of military and civilian experts. Although less immediately concerned about the fine points of a comprehensive new strategy than the need to move quickly to secure Afghan population centers, Petraeus has already visited central Asian states bordering Afghanistan and supports more extensive diplomatic outreach. He has ordered the Afghanistan-Pakistan portion of his CENTCOM review to be completed by next week, when it, too, will be given to the White House.

Holbrooke, who reports directly to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was said to be appalled not only at the walls that still separate military and civilian efforts but also at compartmentalization within the department itself, where separate task forces deal with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Provincial Reconstruction Teams that are on the front lines of U.S. assistance in Afghanistan are run and still largely staffed by the military.

Obama's deadline for a new overall strategy, set at a Jan. 23 meeting of the National Security Council, coincides with the NATO summit at which he will "come face to face" with allies "looking at him for his perspective on where he's taking the U.S. effort," a senior official said.

National security adviser James L. Jones is in charge of the effort, aided by Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute. Lute has been retained in the post of White House coordinator for Afghanistan and Iraq that he occupied in the Bush administration, to ensure that "we were not going to drop any balls," an official said.

"The policies will change -- that's the purpose of the reviews," he said, "but the mechanisms had to be in place" for ongoing operations. "This wasn't coming into office in 1993, when the world was a much calmer place. We've got two active wars and 200,000 people serving overseas. . . . It's very hard in a transition from the outside to know what is moving."

To keep the balls in play, the official said, "it makes sense to think about tranches of decisions that have to be reached" sooner rather than later on the road toward a comprehensive new strategy.

The administration has already given a green light to continuing CIA-operated attacks by unmanned Predator aircraft against "high-value" al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in western Pakistan. The Pakistani government has agreed to the strikes, despite overwhelming public disapproval. But after the first Obama-authorized Predator attack last week, Pakistani officials said, Islamabad complained in a private diplomatic note that U.S. intelligence was bad and that civilians were the primary casualties.

Officials would not comment on whether Obama has reissued a covert action "finding," signed by President George W. Bush last summer, that authorized ground raids into Pakistan by military Special Operations units working with the CIA. There has been no known ground operation since September, however, and the advisability of such raids is a point of disagreement between Petraeus -- who considers any tactical gain on the ground to be not worth the strategic risk of a massive popular backlash in Pakistan -- and the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Meanwhile, the approach of the warm weather "fighting season" in Afghanistan imposes its own decision deadlines. "I worry a great deal about how much time we have," Mullen said. Additional U.S. and NATO efforts this spring may be able to hold the line against new Taliban advancement, but "if you're just staying flat," he said, "the situation is getting worse."

Can India's aerospace manufacturers step up?

By Siva Govindasamy

Aerospace companies from Brazil, China, Japan and Russia lead the way in development and production of 21st century aircraft - can Indian companies step up as well?

Overseas companies have been setting up operations in India for several years, taking advantage of the country's pool of highly qualified engineering, science and computing graduates. They have long-established ties with India's IT companies, but now seek engineering and manufacturing partnerships as part of their offset obligations and as India attempts to plug a technology gap with the rest of the world.

While state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics remains the behemoth in Indian aerospace, a number of rivals from the private sector are emerging to take advantage of the offset requirements that come with military contracts, and the growth of India's civil aerospace sector. The government encourages them by giving tax breaks to increase the country's manufacturing base, and foreign companies are happy as they do not want to partner HAL only.


Boeing, which has had a long presence and formed several partnerships in India, says that it is aware of the government's desire to let the private sector play a larger role. "India has an impressive aerospace industrial base and a good network of aeronautical development labs supported by world-class educational institutions," says the company.

It adds: "Boeing's experience in implementing offset programmes around the world suggests Indian industry will benefit greatly from industrial participation. In our experience, benefits will include access to new technologies and processes, opening of new markets through our supplier network, creation of jobs, and increases in revenues and earnings."

One likely beneficiary is Larsen & Toubro, an engineering and construction conglomerate that has signed deals with companies including European defence conglomerate EADS and the USA's Boeing and Raytheon. These firms are keen to tap L&T's expertise, while the Indian company hopes to diversify its revenue streams.

"L&T has worked closely with Indian defence establishments in developing and putting into production a range of advanced systems," said M V Kotwal, the company's senior executive vice-president at its Heavy Engineering division, after signing an agreement with Raytheon.

"Currently we are one of the leading suppliers in Indian defence. This new agreement will help us induct superior technology, and expand our range of high-value offerings in the defence sector."

Others are making plans to move into aircraft manufacturing. Hero Motors, India's largest manufacturer of motorcycles, plans to produce light aircraft at its proposed 120Ha (300 acre) aerospace park in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. This is part of "a vision to diversify the company's product portfolio", says the company, which adds that it plans to join hands with a European manufacturer for the venture.

It hopes to begin work on the facility in the first half of this year if the government gives it permission to set up a special economic zone in Madhya Pradesh. India has been encouraging its companies to set up these zones, which enjoy tax breaks and other incentives, to boost the country's manufacturing base.

Mahindra & Mahindra, which manufactures cars and has an extensive engineering business, has signed deals with Western firms such as BAE Systems as part of their offset obligations. However, it is also jointly developing a five-seat light aircraft with the National Aerospace Laboratories, the state R&D firm, and each will manufacture two prototypes in 2009.

NAL will be responsible for getting Indian certification for the NM5-100, while M&M subsidiary Mahindra Aerospace is responsible for certification outside the country. The aircraft is targeted at India's growing air taxi, training and medical evacuation markets, and NAL and Mahindra could jointly manufacture the type if there are enough orders.


Managing director Anand Mahindra says that the company plans to be involved from the design to manufacture stage, and that this could just be the first of many civil aviation production projects.

The biggest challenge to HAL could come from Indian conglomerate Tata Group. The company has had a long history in aviation and helped to set up national carrier Air India, and last year sought approval to set up an aero­space manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Hyderabad, capital of the country's southern Andhra Pradesh state. Current chairman Ratan Tata is also an aviation buff and pilot.

© Siva Govindasamy/Flight International

A proposed 20Ha facility will anchor a 100Ha special economic zone dedicated to the aerospace industry and Tata Advanced Systems, a division within the Tata Group, will lead the project. Industry sources say that senior company officials are spearheading the initiative, although the global economic crisis could be an obstacle.

Tata is one of India's oldest and most famous business houses with wide-ranging interests including car manufacturing, steel production and IT services. Its entry would shake up the aerospace sector. Tata has signed deals with several Western companies, including one to manufacture components for Boeing and another to produce helicopter cabins for Sikorsky. It has also taken a one-third stake in Italy's Piaggio Aero.

Industry sources say the company is keen to move into full-scale aircraft assembly and production in both the civil and military markets. This would put it in direct competition with HAL, which is now the only Indian company with the facilities to produce aircraft.

"If anyone can break HAL's stranglehold on aerospace production in India, it is Tata. They have the resources, determination and manufacturing capability. The only problem is that the economic situation may make it harder to make the capital investment required to embark on full-scale aircraft production," says a source close to Tata.


HAL is not standing still. The company was ranked 40th in Flight International's list of the top 100 aerospace companies globally last year. For the year ending 31 March 2008, the company reported that its sales grew by 11% to Rp86.25 billion ($1.8 billion) and profits after tax were 42% higher at Rp16.32 billion.

The depreciation of the Indian rupee over the past few months has taken the shine off HAL's proud claim of becoming a company with a $2 billion turnover, but outgoing chairman Ashok Baweja remains confident that turnover will reach $3 billion earlier than the target of 2011.

Partial privatisation remains a possibility for the company, which comes under the defence ministry's purview, but insiders wonder if that is necessary as the Indian government has already granted HAL the prestigious "Navaratna" status. This allows state-owned companies greater autonomy in almost areas of its business, including the freedom to form joint ventures with private companies. Former finance minister P Chidambaram set the benchmark high when he said that HAL's "market is the world, not just India".

Senior HAL officials are similarly optimistic. Director of finance D Shivamurti says: "We expect to continue doing very well over the next few years. HAL is the only company with the ability to handle the military and civil aerospace programmes. We are cash rich and will use that to invest in research and development capabilities, and improve our manufacturing facilities and infrastructure."

Competition does not faze the company, he adds. "We actually helped a lot of companies by giving them subcontracts, and so have been partly responsible for the development of the private sector. If they do well, it is also because of us. Nobody has the capabilities that we have, and we will ensure that we stay ahead of the game."

A big chunk of the company's revenues have come from the licence-production of aircraft such as the BAE Hawk 132 advanced jet trainer, Sepecat Jaguar and Sukhoi Su-30MKIs, and Chetak and Chetan versions of the Aerospatiale Alouette III helicopter. Upgrades for aircraft such as the Dassault Mirage 2000, RSK MiG-21 and MiG-27, and older versions of the Jaguar, are also profitable.

HAL production lines still run at almost full capacity manufacturing for the Hawk, the Su-30s, and the indigenous Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter and Tejas Light Combat Aircraft. That is expected to continue in the near future.

The company will also manufacture 108 of the fighters India will order as part of its ongoing Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition, with the OEMs required to supply only the first 18 in a "fly away" condition. The company has also been asked to design, develop and produce 187 light utility helicopters for India's army and air force, and could work with Eurocopter on this programme.

HAL's biggest impediment to achieving its aim of becoming a truly global company, say analysts, could be that it is still part of the Indian government. Its bosses report to the defence ministry, it has an unwieldy structure with 13 divisions covering most aspects of aerospace, 16 production units and nine research and development centres spread across seven locations in India.

It will also be increasingly difficult to attract and retain talent in a country with so many private sector options.

"The financials may be improving, but HAL is still held back by the bureaucratic features that remain in the Indian civil service. Some divisions can be merged and the operations can be streamlined, and the company must become more attractive as an employer by paying better salaries and promoting staff. The government's mindset about the company's role must change as well," says a Bangalore-based analyst.


HAL will also be judged on whether it can become a top-tier supplier for companies such as Airbus and Boeing, much like its Chinese and Japanese. Its must be successful in indigenous programmes such as the Advanced Light Helicopter, Light Combat Helicopter, Intermediate Jet Trainer and proposed Indian Regional Jet, as well as joint programmes with the Russians to develop a medium transport aircraft and a fifth-generation fighter, where it is expected to take a bigger role at the R&D stage.

The company is attempting to increase its revenues from the civil aviation segment. It has joined hands with Boeing to bring $1 billion of manufacturing work to India over the next 10 years and plans to convert passenger aircraft to cargo use at a proposed maintenance, repair and overhaul joint venture with the company at Nagpur in central India. It also has a contract to manufacture doors for the Airbus A320 series.

The company is investing Rp1 billion in an engine components manufacturing joint venture with Pratt & Whitney, and will supply fuselages for the Gulfstream G150 business jet. The old Bangalore international airport, which HAL owns, has been mooted as a regional passenger aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul hub and business aviation centre. It will also play a big role in the proposed Indian Regional Jet, if the programme goes ahead.

With Rp500 billion worth of orders over the next few years, there is no doubt that HAL will continue to do well. But if it and the Indian aerospace industry really want to make a mark globally, more needs to be done

"The problem with India's aerospace business, particularly HAL, is government ownership," says Aboulafia.

"National self-sufficiency sounds like a great idea, but it leads to com­­plac­ency, high costs, poor product development choices, and inferior, expensive products."

Impostor claiming as a army man arrested

3 Feb 2009, 2132 hrs IST, TNN

LUCKNOW: An impostor claiming to be an army man in order to dupe people was arrested here on Tuesday. The man nabbed identified himself as Anand Kumar Srivastava of sector M in Aashiana.

According to police, Anand had been involved in the act of duping people for the past few months. He used to con those interested in joining the defence services by telling them that he was an army man and could help them in landing a job.

Anand was nabbed with help from the sources in the defence services. Anand, during interrogation, told that he hails from Faizabad and had been living in the state capital for the past few months. He confirmed that he along with another person, BK Singh used to arrange for fake documents required for admission in the army and hand these over to the unsuspecting victims. Anand said that he used to charge between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. It was too late by the time the victims came to know that they had been conned.

According to police, till date, the accused had duped about a dozen persons by taking their money and giving them fake documents in return. A case in the connection was lodged under section 406/420 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and investigations were on with regards to others who could be also involved in the same crime.

TOP ARTICLE | When Pakistan Fails

4 Feb 2009, 0010 hrs IST, K Subrahmanyam

Even as the Indian public and legislators are yet to be provided well-researched reports on the Mumbai terror attack, the incident has been subjected to careful study by various US agencies. The key findings on the attack, from an American point of view, have been presented before the US Senate Committee of Homeland Security and Government Affairs. One of the experts who has submitted his findings is Brian Michael Jenkins, a specialist on terrorism for well over four decades.

Among his findings, which are likely to influence American judgment, are the following. First, India will continue to face a serious jihadi terrorist threat from Pakistan-based terrorist groups for the foreseeable future. However, India lacks military options that have strategic-level effects, as it faces a significant risk of a military response from Pakistan. Neither Indian nor US policy is likely to be able to reduce that threat significantly in the short or medium term.

Second, safe havens continue to be key enablers for terrorist groups. Safe havens allow terrorist leaders to recruit, select and train their operators and make it easier for terrorists to plan and execute complex operations, such as the Mumbai attack. Therefore, at the strategic level, the Mumbai attack underscores the imperative of addressing the transnational sources of Islamist terrorism in India. How to do this is an extraordinarily difficult question that will require the reassessment of basic assumptions concerning policy towards Pakistan by members of the international community.

Third, intelligence failure, inadequate counterterrorist training and equipment of local police, delays in the response of the NSG commandos, flawed hostage rescue plans and poor strategic communications and information management all contributed to a less-than-optimal response in Mumbai. These gaps suggest the need for improved counterterrorist coordination between national level and local security agencies. Unless India can improve the quality and functioning of its entire internal security apparatus it will remain acutely vulnerable to further terrorist penetration and attacks.

These assessments are indisputable. Jenkins has also referred to terrorists of indigenous origins and possible local support to Pakistan-based jihadi terrorists. This has been picked up and highlighted in sections of the Pakistani media. Jenkins has not gone deeply into the consequences of Pakistan nurturing terrorism for the Pakistani state and civil society. He however observes, significantly, that "Pakistan's principal defence against external pressure is not its nuclear arsenal, but its own political fragility... its government's less-than-full cooperation is preferable to the country's collapse and descent into chaos."

The 9/11 attack on the US was followed by the largest reorganisation in its administrative structure with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and a very radical restructuring of its intelligence set-up. The basic norm of intelligence functioning up to that time that intelligence be shared on a need-to-know basis was changed to the understanding that intelligence has to be shared on the basis of functional imperatives. While the US agencies have been trying to draw lessons from the Mumbai attacks to enhance America's security, what lessons can India draw from the US experience?

It is abundantly clear that the relationship between India and Pakistan is more akin to a cold war. There is a basic incompatibility between a state which, in spite of having become a victim of the terrorist Frankenstein it nurtured, is reluctant to fight terrorism because of its religious affiliations though the jihadi project is a perversion of Islam and a secular state. As of today, the Pakistani civil society has not yet made up its mind to fight, without any reservation, the jihadi cult. As long as the Pakistani civil society does not take a stand on this issue, it cannot be helped either by India or the rest of the world.

If this is understood in India, this country has to prepare itself to wage a campaign against jihadi terrorism. Pakistan should be contained by the international community till forces within that country rise to fight against the jihadi cult. The Indian response following the Mumbai attack has been feeble, not in respect of an imprudent military response advocated by a hawkish section, but in terms of internal preparedness. We need a full-time cabinet minister for internal security. There is an imperative need to have a director of national intelligence and our National Security Council should be focusing wholly on protecting this country against jihadi aggression. Public opinion should be mobilised to educate the public about the nature of the threat we face.

There is increasing understanding in the US and NATO countries about the limitations of a civilian government in Pakistan vis-a-vis the Pakistani army and the ISI, and their relationship with jihadi groups. There is a limit beyond which Pakistani civil society cannot blackmail the rest of the world that unless their unreasonable demands are continuously met, even while they will not take a stand against jihadis, they will end up as a failed state. There are sections in Pakistan which threaten that if Pakistan goes down it will take India along. Our preparedness should be aimed at averting that contingency. The jihadi cult has a suicidal tendency. The rest of the world does not.

The writer is a Delhi-based strategic affairs analyst.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal