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Thursday, 5 February 2009

From Today's Papers - 05 Feb 09



Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi

An unprecedented eleven Ashoka Chakras were presented by the Rashtrapati on the 60th anniversary of the Republic. That the numbers are exceptionally high may not be an issue, as bravery of the most exceptional order cannot and must not be constrained by numbers. However, the highest peace-time award must only be bestowed for exceptional bravery and for no other reason. There is a question mark on whether the awards this year were given only to the exceptionally brave.

In writing this piece I am aware that I am touching a sensitive issue, especially as it is about the death of four highly regarded police officers. To that extent, I am guilty of being politically incorrect, but there are times when one has to speak one's mind, however unpalatable it may be. This is one of those exceptional occasions. My aim in doing so is not to denigrate the sacrifices made by these officers but to caution the national leadership not to succumb to political expediency when considering such weighty issues as conferring of the highest bravery awards.

We Indians are highly emotional when it comes to death, but emotions have no place when it is a question of recognising valour. The highest recognition for exceptional bravery is the award of Ashoka Chakra in peace time and that of the Param Vir Chakra in the face of the enemy during war. These are the only two awards that are bestowed publicly at the Republic Day Parade and for good reason, so that the bravery of the awardees is fully appreciated by the entire nation. All other awards, for bravery as well as for distinguished service, are presented by the Rashtrapati on investiture parades held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In accordance with the official website, Ashoka Chakra is awarded for most conspicuous bravery, or some act of daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice otherwise than in the face of the enemy. All ranks of the army, the navy and the air force, members of the nursing services of the armed forces or of any of the reserve forces, the territorial army, militia and of any other lawfully constituted forces are eligible to receive this medal. Civilian citizens of either sex in all walks of life, other than members of police forces and of recognised fire services are also eligible.

Soon after the terrorist attack in Mumbai, where a number of senior police officers had lost their lives within a few hours of the terrorist strike, an analyst had termed them "Innocent Casualties". In amplification he had stated that these three officers, along with a few policemen had been surprised, waylaid and butchered without getting a chance to use their weapons. Perhaps their lack of training did not permit them to anticipate and react with operational swiftness. Their dear ones do deserve our deep sympathy and heartfelt condolences, as well as care and compassion, but do they meet the criteria of "the most conspicuous bravery"? The same applies to another police officer who was unfortunately killed in an earlier incident in Delhi.

By all accounts, all four police officers were highly efficient, dedicated and exemplary officers. Their devotion to duty needs to be recognised and honoured, but this is not the way of doing so. There is a vast difference between gallantry awards and awards for distinguished service. A large number of military personnel, especially from the army, lay down their lives or lose limbs fighting terrorists in various parts of the country, nearly on a daily basis. Their sacrifices are for the country. Yet most of them do not qualify for earning gallantry awards, even of a lesser category. Let me cite my own example. I lost my leg during the 1965 Indo-Pak War and became permanently disabled, but I did not get any award. Neither did I ever think that I should have been given one. The same is the case with the large number of soldiers and officers who are killed or disabled in wars or warlike situations. That is how it should be.

In the army, grant of gallantry awards is an elaborate process, where commanders at successive levels give their recommendations after evaluating all facts. Eventually, a committee presided over by the Vice Chief takes the final decision. During this process, the operational staff briefs the committee about all facets of the relevant operations. It is only when all members of the committee are fully satisfied that the award is approved. In the case of higher level of awards, the cases also need the Chief's approval and later that of the Minister of Defence.

The trend of bestowing gallantry awards merely because officers had lost their lives in terror-related incidents goes back to the death of two senior officers in Afghanistan in a terrorist incident, who were awarded Kirti Chakras, the second highest gallantry award not in the face of the enemy. The two, one a brigadier from the army and the other an officer of the foreign service, lost their lives as they were driving in when an explosive device was exploded by terrorists at the embassy gate. Surely there was no bravery there. The government must take all actions to help the next of kin monetarily and for subsequent rehabilitation, but it must not be done by bestowing high level gallantry awards. Such hasty and irrational decisions taken by the Government devalue the awards, besides creating embarrassment.

My concern in this piece is that if we persist in this type of populous largesse, the sanctity and aura attached to these highest level gallantry awards that the nation bestows on the bravest of the brave would disappear. Surely, the nation does not want this, even if some political leaders desire it for extraneous reasons.

Sino-Indian stand-off near Somalia
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
An allegation that may further weaken the already fragile Indo-Sino relationship, China now suspects that Indian submarines are trailing and spying on its two warships deployed for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

The state-controlled media in China has reported that Chinese warships were allegedly being stalked by the Indian Navy. The two destroyers China sent to Somalia are among its most advanced warships. One of the destroyers, Haikou, was commissioned in 2005.

However, the Indian Defence establishment today denied the charge, saying: "We deploy our submarines in various areas and the deployment patterns are not revealed. Moreover, these are international waters and there is no question of trailing anyone, as everyone is free to sail."

In case the Indian Navy wanted to locate a Chinese ship, a senior official said, it had the maritime reconnaissance and capability to physically check out a Chinese ship as soon as it entered the strait of Mallaca, near Singapore, and sailed past India into the Gulf of Aden. "There would be no use to send in submarine and anyway, Indian warships are also deployed in the Gulf region."

Defence analysts see this as more of an unending psychological warfare between the two countries. The last set of allegations were levelled by India, over an alleged intrusion by China into north-western Arunachal Pradesh. However, the latest one has wider ramifications, as the Indian submarine is, as per Chinese media, believed to have been collecting electronic signals and sonar data from the their (Chinese) warships. Such information could be crucial in naval conflicts.

The 'South China Morning Post' (Hong Kong), a daily, quoted a Chinese language newspaper, 'Qingdao Chenbao' as saying: "Chinese warships managed to force the Indian submarine to surface. The Indian vessel left without further confrontation".

When contacted, Indian Naval spokesperson said: "The submarine that surfaced in those waters was not an Indian vessel." He even refused to comment on which country's submarine could have been involved.

Another source explained that in international waters, no ship could force any submarine to surface. The incident occurred on January 15 in the waters near the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, which divides Yemen and Djibouti.

The Chinese ships had picked up sonar signals of an unidentified submarine, which the Chinese navy identified as a submarine armed with around 20 torpedoes belonging to the Indian navy, the 'South China Morning Post' said. The submarine moved into deeper waters but was tracked by an anti-submarine helicopter, cornered and forced to surface. The submarine had been trailing the Chinese ships since they entered the Indian Ocean on its way to the Gulf of Aden, the paper said.

Antony for speeding up defence procurement procedures

Press Trust of India / New Delhi February 04, 2009, 13:25 IST

With the armed forces going on a fast-track modernisation drive after 26/11 terror strikes, Defence Minister A K Antony today said that "unnecessary procedures, bottle-necks and red-tape" should be cut down for hastening procurement procedures.

"We need to cut down on the unnecessary procedures, bottlenecks and red tapism in our procurement mechanism," he said while addressing the "Jumbo" Majumdar Seminar on 'Dominance of Aerospace Power' here.

He said that to fasten the procurement procedures, the government had come with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and if required, further changes can also be made.

"We have framed our defence procurement procedures. If changes in the present procedures are required to ensure speedy procurement, we will examine them," Antony said.

He said that allocation of funds for defence forces' modernisation was not a problem.

"The government is earmarking huge budgets for the defence forces but it is not fully reflected in our modernisation efforts," Defence Minister said.

He said that the forces should timely and judiciously utilise the money allocated to them.

Without mentioning DRDO's frequent complains against the services of making last minute changes in their specifications and requirements during trials of its equipment and systems, Antony said, "end-users (armed forces) must also ensure that the requirements and specifications are not changed frequently."

NSA puts foot in mouth, Govt red-faced

Divyamanu Chaudhry


BATTLE ROYALE: Narayanan is caught in a turf war between the Home and Foreign Ministries.

New Delhi: National Security Advisor (NSA) MK Naraynan's candid statements on key issues like Kashmir, US President Barack Obama and former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf have caused considerable embarrassment in the Prime Ministers office.

While speaking to CNN-IBN on Devil's Advocate Narayanan had said, "I do think that we could make President Obama understand that he is barking up the wrong tree. I think Kashmir today has become one of the quieter and safer places in this part of the world."

Almost 72 hours later, an embarrassed Prime Minister's Office attempted to clarify that the answers given by Narayanan were only in response to specific questions.

In a statement, the Prime Minister's media adviser said, "It is further clarified that the underlying theme of the reply to the question on Indo-US relations was the high expectation India had from the Obama administration with a hope being expressed that it would be possible for India to make the new administration appreciate India's positions and views on the region, including Kashmir."

That is not the only embarrassment the candid interview has caused to South Block.

Narayanan's appreciative mention of the previous Musharaff regime in Pakistan has also not gone down well, forcing the Government to claim that the NSA had been misquoted.

Narayanan had said, "As far as India is concerned particularly with questions regarding Kashmir, it was possible to do business with him (Musharraf)."

But the real controversy, as Wednesday morning's papers show, has been generated by the NSA's claim that Pakistan has responded to India's 26/11 dossier with queries, a statement denied by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

However, on this controversy, the NSA had nothing to say, thus clearly suggesting that he stands by what he said.

Meanwhile, the Opposition was quick to seize upon these differences.

Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Please speak in one voice otherwise it creates a lot of problems for the country."

For Narayanan though, the controversy couldn't have come at a worse time. With P Chidambaram taking complete control of the Home Ministry and Mukherjee asserting himself in a post 26/11 environment, the NSA's role has been diminished.

For its part CNN-IBN would like to state that the two interviews were run in their entirety without any editing whatsoever.

War ready? Defence Minister says snap red tape first

Vishal Thapar


BIGGER THAN WAR: Defence spending has fallen below two per cent of the GDP.

New Delhi: It's the first official admission that India is not ready for war. The stunning acknowledgment came from none other than Defence Minister AK Antony on Wednesday.

Antony complained that he's unable to spend money on weapons desperately required for national security despite his pockets being full

"Even though our Government is earmarking huge budgets, it is not being fully reflected in our modernisation efforts. Allocation of money has never been a problem. The issue has rather been the timely and judicious utilisation of money allocated," he said.

And, believe it or not, Antony blamed it on Red Tape in the ministry he heads.

"We need to cut down on unnecessary procedural delays, bottlenecks and red-tapism in our procurement mechanism," he said.

Under the present regime, Defence spending has fallen below two per cent of the GDP, despite mounting challenges.

India's rivals spend between three and five per cent.

26/11 too seems to have shaken up the authorities. The UPA Government, which had spent less than 10 per cent of its defence procurements budget till the Mumbai attacks, has now suddenly stepped on the accelerator.

For example, the critical air defence requirements which were stuck in the system for years, have now been cleared in one go.

"Big effort to plug gaps in India's air defence cover post 26/11, government has cleared years of backlog," says Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali Major.

The Defence Minister has identified the problem. But nobody seems sure who will fix it, as thousands of crores of defence money are returned unspent, year after year.

Lankan airmen sent back

Chennai, February 4
Eight Sri Lankan Air Force personnel, who came to Air Force station here two days back for training, have been sent back to their country following protests by the public, when they came for registration of visas at a local police station.

After the visuals of the presence of Sri Lankan Air Force personnel were shown by the PMK-owned Makkal TV, the Tamil Nadu government too requested the Centre to send them back. They were sent back last night after instructions in this regard were issued by the Centre, an official release said. — TNS

New US strategy on Afghanistan
Pakistan begins to feel the heat
by G. Parthasarathy

EVER since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 led to the forging of a US-led coalition to oust the Taliban, Pakistan has provided shelter to Taliban political leaders in Balochistan and allowed its military leadership and cadres to regroup and rearm in the tribal areas of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The duplicity of General Musharraf and his army buddies has led to the Pakistan-Afghanistan region becoming the epicentre of global terrorism. The entire NWFP is now under Pashtun Taliban control, with the Pakistan Army unwilling and unable to assert the writ of the Pakistan state in this troubled region.

For almost six years the Americans have overlooked Pakistani duplicity. But by 2008 American casualties in Afghanistan reached such high levels that a new strategy of carrot and stick became imperative to deal with Pakistan. President Bush authorised raids by CIA "drones" on terrorist targets within Pakistan, but appeared to lack a comprehensive strategy to deal with a resurgent Taliban operating from across the border in Pakistan. Not so the new Obama Administration, which has recognised that the most serious threat to global security arises from the entire Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

The contours of this new strategy are emerging. The US forces in Afghanistan are being doubled. Under the command of Gen Bismillah Khan, the strength of the Afghan National Army is going to be raised to around 1,36,000 personnel and its soldiers are going to be better equipped. Within Afghanistan, issues of domestic governance are going to receive enhanced attention, with far greater focus on making international aid more effective. This could well mean that President Karzai would face strong opposition during the presidential elections scheduled for September 2009 from leaders like provincial Governor Gul Agha Sherzai. The Americans are preparing for a long stay in Afghanistan — something the Generals in Islamabad had believed would not happen.

Pakistan has already started feeling the heat. President Obama has averred that while he is prepared to triple economic assistance, such aid would be directly linked to Pakistani cooperation in dealing with the Taliban. Moreover, the Americans will not hesitate to strike at "high value" terrorist targets within Pakistan should they get "actionable intelligence". Recognising that civilian leaders like President Zardari have no control over ISI support for the Taliban and other jihadi groups, high-level visiting dignitaries from the US and its NATO allies now meet General Kiyani and General Tariq Majid rather than waste time meeting Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar. Whether this strategy will succeed in enhancing civilian authority in Pakistan is questionable, but it is recognition of the reality that within Pakistan the Army is a "State within a State".

Diplomatically, the Obama Administration is working on a new regional strategy to deal with developments in Pakistan. A crucial reason for this change is that American military supplies moving through Pakistan are being subjected increasingly to attacks or theft. There are suspicions that the Pakistan Army establishment deliberately colludes in these attacks. Plans are underway to route supplies to Afghanistan through Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Following discussions with NATO members, Russia's Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin recently stated: "In the event of NATO's defeat in Afghanistan, fundamentalists who are inspired by the victory will set their eyes towards the North". Mr Rogozin indicated that Taliban-backed fundamentalists would destabilise Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan — countries whose stability is crucial for the Russians.

While Russia has indicated its readiness to permit transit through its territory of American and NATO non-military supplies to Afghanistan, there are hints that it would be prepared to consider wider cooperation if the Americans are forthcoming in addressing its concerns on issues like missile defences in Poland and the Czech Republic. It appears that President Obama will be prepared to address these concerns. India has to encourage moves in this direction and persuade the US and its NATO allies that Iranian participation is essential in any effort to bring stability to Afghanistan.

These developments are going to have far reaching consequences for Pakistan itself. The Taliban already control the entire NWFP, where for years the Army has backed radical Islamic elements to counter Pashtun nationalism. This should be evident from the fact that Taliban commanders like Jalaluddin Haqqani continue to operate from Pakistani soil. Significantly, ISI chief Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha has labelled Baitullah Mehsud, who has been accused of involvement in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and Maulana Fazlullah, the Taliban cleric who now controls the entire Swat district, as "true patriots." He even justified the ideological leanings of the Taliban.

In virtually the entire NWFP, women can no longer go shopping and girls are prohibited from going to school. In Swat, 8000 women teachers have been rendered unemployed and 80,000 girls forbidden from going to school. Opponents of Sharia rule have been hanged by Taliban leaders within a hundred yards of Army posts and an entire Army division sits by idly near an Army Corps Headquarters, as the Taliban surround the capital, Peshawar.

In these circumstances, can the Americans persuade the Pakistan army to forsake its affection for its Taliban buddies and take them on? This appears highly unlikely. The Durand Line, the disputed border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has not been recognised by any government in Afghanistan, has ceased to exist. For the Pakistan Army to, therefore, claim that by attacking across the border the Americans are violating their territorial integrity defies logic, as the Taliban have a free run the across the Durand Line, which for all practical purposes has ceased to exist for Pashtuns in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Can any attempt to stabilise the tribal areas within Pakistan succeed without the international community addressing the aspirations of Pashtuns on both sides in an integrated manner, realistically recognising that the Durand Line is no longer an acceptable international border? These are issues that President Obama's Special Representative Richard Holbrooke needs to carefully consider as the US prepares for a long stay in Afghanistan.

India has to prepare itself for growing volatility on its western land and maritime borders. Over seven years ago the US National Intelligence Council noted: "Pakistan will become more fractious, isolated and dependent on international financial institutions. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the Central government's control will probably be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi". With the entire Pakistan-Afghanistan border destabilised, would it not become imperative for Pakistan to shift its nuclear weapons into its "Punjabi heartland"? Recent developments along Pakistan's western borders make it imperative for India and the international community to ponder on how to deal with this emerging scenario.

Indian Army orders court of inquiry into captain's death

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

JAMMU (SANA): A court of inquiry has been ordered by the Army to investigate the death of an army captain of Rashtriya Rifles who slipped from a snow glacier in Dachhan area of Kishtwar district.

Defence spokesman said that army had ordered a court of inquiry to investigate the death of Captain Varun Chhibber of 63 Rashtriya Rifles who was killed while on routine patrol at Lidridul in general area of Delata Force after he slipped and fell into a gorge.

As reported Captain Chhiber while returning from Dachhan after normal patrolling fell in a deep gorge near Lohlu nallah in between Ikala and Pingrari in Dachhan Kishtwar after his foot slipped over a snow glacier.

The body has been recovered from the site of accident by the troops accompanying the deceased.

A case has been registered at Police Post Dachhan under the jurisdiction of Police Station Marwah in this connection.

Tributes paid to dead army officer in Noida

India - - Posted on February, 4 at 11:36 am

Noida, Feb 4 (IANS) A pall of gloom descended on a Noida neighbourhood Wednesday as the body of an Indian Army officer, Captain Varun Chibber, who died in an accident during a counter-terrorism operation in Kashmir, was flown down to his hometown.

Relatives and hundreds of visitors gathered outside his home in Sector-29 to pay tributes to the deceased army officer.

Chibber was posted in Kishtwar in Jammu and Kashmir. He lost his life Feb 2 when he was on a search operation in the militancy infested area. He fell into a deep gorge near a mountainous terrain and died on the spot.

Full state honours were given to the officer before his father Col. N.P. Chibber lit the pyre. Soldiers fired in the air to salute their departed colleague.

'I am proud of my son who laid life for the country,' said the father.

Chibber was to be married in a month.

China's pirated Navy

Written on February 4, 2009 – 11:29 pm | by P. Chacko Joseph |

Chinese Navy (PLA Navy, PLAN) anti-piracy task force set sail Friday for Africa in December, 2008. The missile-armed destroyers DDG-171 Haikou, DDG-169 Wuhan and the supply ship Weishanhu are among the Chinese most sophisticated ships. Lieutenant Commander Xie Zengling bragged in Xinhua that (one member of his unit) "could handle several enemies with his bare hands". Two helicopters are accompanying the flotilla.

Barely a month after that the Chinese newspaper claimed that their warships sent to fight piracy in waters off Somalia were stalked by an Indian attack submarine and the two sides became locked in a tense stand-off for at least half-an-hour. The report was promptly rubbished by India.

What better publicity if Chinese busted an Indian Navy asset, Indian navy hogged all limelight when it repeatedly busted Somalian pirates.

While DDG-169 Wuhan (Type 052B) is is built with considerable Russian technology, DDG-171 Haikou (Type 052C) is dubbed as completely based on indigenous technology apart from a few sensors is nothing but a pirated design (similar to the Netherlands APAR system) with pirated electronics. The two so called Shaanxi diesel engines is pirated design of the MTU 20V956TB92.

HQ-9 missile is known as a copy of S-300 5V55-series missiles with guidance system developed from the stolen technology of U.S. Patriot missile system.

Yu-7 torpedo is the Chinese copy of the US Mk 46 Mod. 2 light ASW torpedo.

The YJ-62 (C-602) is the further development of SS-N-2 Styx copy YJ-6 (C-601).

A pirated navy chasing pirates? Hopefully Chinese New Year, 2009, the Year of Ox, bring genuine reasons.

MiG 35 to be Showcased at Aero India 2009

Daily News & Updates

India Defence Premium

Dated 3/2/2009

Russia will use an upcoming air show in India to showcase its MiG-35 advanced jet fighter, a contender to win an Indian fighter tender, an official from Russia's state arms exporter said on Monday.

Aero India-2009, which will be held in the southern city of Bangalore on February 11-15, is one the largest aerospace shows in the Asia-Pacific region, hosting leading manufacturers, vendors and suppliers from 35 countries.

"The MiG will certainly make several demonstration flights after its presentation on the first day of the air show. We would like it to show its best features," said deputy director of Rosoboronexport Viktor Komardin.

Six major aircraft makers - Lockheed and Boeing from the United States, Russia's MiG, which is part of the UAC, France's Dassault, Sweden's Saab and the EADS consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian companies - are in contention to win the $10 billion tender for 126 light fighters to be supplied to the Indian Air Force.

Komardin reiterated that the MiG-35 has excellent chances to win the tender because the Russian aircraft has superb performance characteristics and Russia and India share a long-standing partnership in strategic and military-technical cooperation.

"The MiG family is well-known in India. Our Indian partners have production and maintenance facilities ready to produce part for our aircraft," the official said.

The existing Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation program until 2010, lists up to 200 projects worth about $18 billion.

India is a key buyer of Russian weaponry, with contracts including the delivery of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier with at least 16 MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier fighters, the Smerch MLRS, and licensed production of T-90 tanks in India.

Russia signed in March a contract with the Indian Defense Ministry to upgrade around 70 MiG-29 fighters, in service since the 1980s, and agreed to develop a fifth-generation fighter together with India. (MiG-29 K/KUB fighters for India- Image Gallery)

Russia's MiG-35 Fulcrum-F, an export version of the MiG-29M OVT (Fulcrum F) is a highly maneuverable air superiority fighter, which won high acclaim during the Le Bourget air show in France last year.

The fighter is powered by RD-33 OVT thrust vectoring engines. The RD-33 OVT engines provide superior maneuverability and enhance the fighter's performance in close air engagements.

Moscow said if MiG-35 wins the tender, Russia is ready to transfer all key technology to India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and provide assistance for the production of the aircraft in the country.

India to try out 'Star Wars'

* Participants of 11th Asian Security Conference say space-based surveillance to play dominant role in future conflicts

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: In a significant departure from its policy to pursue only peaceful applications of space technology, New Delhi has established an "integrated space cell" jointly operated by its armed forces and the space research organisation to explore outer space for military purposes.

A concept paper unveiled at the 11th Asian Security Conference has revealed that India has chosen to explore the militarisation of space in light of China showcasing its anti-satellite capabilities in January 2007 and Japan amending its Space Law in June 2008. Japan changed the interpretation of peaceful use of outer space from "non-military" to "non-aggressive", it added.

Dominant role: The new cell will function under the aegis of the Integrated Defence Services Headquarters and will integrate the armed forces; the Department of Space; and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). According to the 60 experts who attended the conference, space-based surveillance, intelligence, communications, navigation and precision guidance will likely play a dominant role in future conflicts.

Organised by the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), there was no Pakistani participation at the conference despite the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, having signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its Indian counterpart in 2008. The discussions were mostly dominated by the security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with experts claiming that the present strategies of the West were counterproductive. Dr Rod Thornton, professor at a UK university and the NATO Defence College in Rome, said the current US penchant for cross-border raids was undermining counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan. He said there should be close coordination with Pakistan security organs. He also noted that the Taliban have established a permanent presence in 72 percent of Afghanistan in 2008, over a mere 54 percent in 2007. The US and the UK need to form a consensus on how they conduct their military operations, he added.

Covert operations: The participants also discussed New Delhi's response to the Mumbai terror attacks. Air Commodore Prashant Dixit said India's response was 'satisfactory' but cautioned against "war mongering". However, Major General Ashok Mehta called for "covert operations" against Pakistan.

"If someone believes that a solution can be found in a jiffy, he is incorrect. The issue involves world peace and relations between two nuclear countries. There is need to find a way out," Dixit said. He also criticised National Security Adviser MK Naraynan for saying India was more comfortable in dealing with General (r) Pervez Musharraf's regime, saying India should strengthen the democratic government in Pakistan.

General Mehta, however, said India was suffering from "strategic paralysis" and was unable to respond to Pakistan. Former army chief General VP Malik also said that people were asking questions about the efficacy of the army.

The experts also negated the view that acquiring a ballistic missile defence (BMD) system would insulate India from any attack originating from China and Pakistan. "A full-fledged BMD system capable of defending all potential targets is something of a mirage," said Prof Rajesh M Basrur of Singapore Technological University. He called on the Indian strategic community to have a clear understanding for its basic concepts and come to grips with what minimum deterrence is and the bearing missile defence has, or does not have, on nuclear-strategic relationship.

Allahabad MCO vies for first position

4 Feb 2009, 1846 hrs IST, TNN

ALLAHABAD: Maj Gen Rana Goswami, VSM ADG Mov Army HQ New Delhi visited Allahabad station along with Col Vijay Bhagat, 56 MC Gp Cdr. He inspected MCO Allahabad on Tuesday for the Best MCO Thophy. There is an all-India Best MCO competition. Allahabad MCO has figured in the first three MCOs. Now after the inspection, the ADG Mov will declared the winner of the trophy. The Movement Control Organisation (MCO) with its motto 'Service With a Smile' works for the safe movement of defence troops, arms and equipment.

MCO Allahabad is looking after the requirements of all IAF and Army units on a regular basis, apart from the needs of transiting units. It is playing an important role in ensuring safe and smooth movement of VIPs, military personnel, arms and equipment under the command of Squadron Leader Amit Upadhyay, Officer Commanding, MCO Allahabad.

Gen Goswami appreciated the new look of the renovated complex of MCO here, which is more user-friendly now. The MCO Allahabad is continuously striving to improve the transit facilities for defence commuters. The new complex boasts of fully furnished air conditioned PBOR waiting room with television and comfortable sitting arrangement.

Gen Goswami emphasised that it was the movement control organisation's endeavour to ensure that defence personnel and their families travelled in comfort with dignity and honour. He suggested some more changes in the MCO complex to provide more comfort to defence personnel and exhorted the MCO team to continue doing their best.

Maldives Defense Minister meets Indian counterpart
February 4, 2009

Defense Minister as well as Acting Home Minister Ameen Faisal, as part of his ongoing visit to India, has called on his Indian counterpart A.K Antony. The call was made yesterday.

During the call, discussions were focused on enhancing and strengthening bilateral relations between both countries and on increasing training opportunities for Maldives Defense Force.

After the call on Indian Defense Minister, Ameen Faisal also paid a courtesy call on Indian Army Chief of Staff and Indian Navy Chief of Staff.

Maldives Defense Minister Ameen Faisal on the 2 of this month called upon the Indian Minister of Home Affairs P. Chidhanbaram. In the meeting, they discussed about ways of further strengthening the relations between the two countries and various other security issues. In addition, they discussed developing the Police Services of Maldives by providing opportunities for additional training in that field.

Discussions were also held on facilitating exchange of criminals of the two countries. Maldives Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh also participated in this meeting.

Ameen Faisal's maiden official visit abroad since his appointment as the Minister of Defense and Security is at the invitation of Indian Defense Minister A.K Antony. Senior members of Maldives Police Services and MNDF accompanied the minister.

India and Maldives has enjoyed strong military ties. Indian armed forces foiled an attempt by Tamil terrorists in 1988 to overthrow the government.

Recently, Indian armed forces have helped Maldives to enhance and build its capabilities as a partner in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS). India had also gifted a Fast Attack Craft to Maldives Defense Forces. Indian navy also provides technical assistance for the upkeep and the maintenance of its vessels.

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