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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 10 Jun 09

Telegraph India

Telegraph India

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Indian Express

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Asian Age

Asian Age

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The Pioneer

Asian Age

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Hindustan Times

Times of India

Times of India

DNA India

DNA India

IAF Moving Sukhoi Base to Northeast
to Thwart Chinese Threat

By Syed Zarir Hussain

Tezpur (Assam)
A squadron of the frontline combat aircraft Sukhoi 30- MKI would become operational in India's sensitive northeast next week, a strategic decision to move advanced assets close to the Chinese border, defence officials said Tuesday.

A defence spokesperson said four multi-role strike fighter jets would land June 15 at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Tezpur, about 185 km north of Assam's main city of Guwahati.

"Four Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter jets would land first and soon it would be a full squadron comprising of 18 aircraft," defence spokesperson Colonel R. Kalia told IANS.

Capable of carrying nuclear weapons and tailor-made for Indian specifications, Su-30 MKI is a variant of the Sukhoi Su-30 jointly-developed by Russia's Sukhoi Corporation and India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for the IAF.

"There are more plans to improve infrastructure in the northeastern region, including developing four or five airfields and advanced landing grounds, besides putting our best assets in the region," a senior IAF official said requesting not to be named.

The decision to set up a squadron of the most potent fighter jet in service with the IAF follows repeated allegations of Chinese incursions in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh in the last few years.

The IAF base at Tezpur is within striking distance from the Chinese border along Arunachal Pradesh.

According to union home ministry reports, there were about 270 'violations' by China on India's western, middle and eastern sectors in 2008, while there were 60 such incidents reported so far this year.

Beijing had in 2003 given up its territorial claim over the Indian state of Sikkim but was still holding on to its age old stand that a vast stretch of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to them.

The mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,030-km (650-mile) unfenced border with China.

The India-China border along Arunachal Pradesh is marked by the McMahon Line, an imaginary border which is now known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

India and China fought a bitter border war in 1962, with Chinese troops advancing deep into Arunachal Pradesh and inflicting heavy casualties on Indian troops.

The border dispute with China was inherited by India from British colonial rulers, who hosted a 1914 conference with the Tibetan and Chinese governments that set the border in what is now Arunachal Pradesh.

China has never recognised the 1914 boundary, known as the McMahon Line, and claims 90,000 sq km (34,750 square miles) -- nearly all -- of Arunachal Pradesh. India also accuses China of occupying 8,000 sq km (14,670 square miles) in Kashmir.

"Setting up of advanced air bases and plans to increase military strength in the region is to meet future national security challenges," an army commander based at the Four Corps Headquarters at Tezpur said on customary conditions of anonymity.

IAF plane goes missing
Guwahati: An AN-32 aircraft of Indian Air Force went missing with 12 persons on board while flying from Mechuka Advance Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh hills to Jorhat Air Force Station in Assam. An Air Force spokesman said the aircraft with two pilots and 10 other persons, including four IAF staff, did not reach Jorhat air base as scheduled. Since, we are yet to recover the wreckage of the aircraft, it stands missing for us, the spokesman said. — TNS

Helping Pak to fight Taliban
But India cannot lower its guard
by Sushant Sareen

Isn’t it strange that despite Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani asserting that the Pakistan Army has adequate force levels to fight the Taliban and that there is no need to withdraw troops from the Indian border for this purpose, the US administration, think-tanks and policy-makers are suggesting to India that it should redeploy its troops along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and also the international border to allow Pakistan to move its troops from the eastern border to the western border? Equally ridiculous is the linkage that many people in the US are drawing between a solution to the Kashmir issue (which, by definition, will serve its purpose only if it is to Pakistan’s complete satisfaction) and the Pakistan Army's capacity to successfully fight against the Al-Qaeda/Taliban-led insurgency inside Pakistan.

Clearly, either the Americans are over-blowing the insurgency inside Pakistan, or the Pakistanis are under-estimating the scale of the problem. If it is the former, then expecting political and military concessions from India for Pakistan flies in the face of logic. But if it is the latter, then surely before India can do anything to save Pakistan, it is Pakistan that must save itself by acting resolutely and unflinchingly to dismantle the jihadi infrastructure. What is more, Pakistan must end the distinction that it makes between good jihadis (those like the Lashkar-e-Toiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa or the Hizbul Mujahidin who operate under the command and control of the Pakistan Army and spread terror in India) and bad jihadis (those who seek to fight the Pakistani state).

More than anything else, the resistance that the Pakistan Army claims to be facing from the Taliban should by now have convinced it that regardless of their hue the Islamists pose a mortal threat to Pakistan. It should have also disabused the Pakistan Army of its hubris that since it can eliminate the Taliban with a snap of its finger or a crack of the whip, it can continue using the Taliban for the attainment of strategic objectives.

Interestingly, while on the one hand the Pakistan Army is cocksure about tackling the Taliban threat without having to scale down its troops positioned against India, on the other hand it is trying to exploit US concerns about Pakistan troop levels being insufficient by impressing upon the Americans that they need to play a more active and interventionist role in resolving the disputes between India and Pakistan. Only this, the Pakistanis say somewhat disingenuously, will allow them to focus all their energies on combating the jihadis. On their part, the Americans are not averse to playing such a role, more so since it fits in well with their quest for seeking a regional solution for solving the Af-Pak problem.

But given India’s strong resistance to being directly included in the Af-Pak equation, the Americans are probably trying to rope in India through the backdoor. This they are doing by using the specious logic that India in its own long-term interest needs to create the space that will make it possible for Pakistan to slay the demons of fanaticism that threaten not only Pakistan but the entire region. And to create this space India must pull back troops from the border, re-start the stalled dialogue process with Pakistan and not do anything that disturbs the strategic balance between India and Pakistan.

While it is true that it is in India’s interest to see the end of the Taliban, India cannot afford to ignore the hostility and the ever present threat of adventurism by the Pakistan Army. Even though Pakistan today confronts what is arguably its worst crisis since it came into existence, the Pakistan Army continues to remain obsessed and fixated on the imagined threat from India. What then are the chances of any improvement in Indo-Pak relations if and when normalcy returns to Pakistan? This question acquires even greater importance when one takes into account the propaganda campaign launched by the Pakistani state against the Taliban.

Instead of admitting that the Taliban insurgency is a blowback of the disastrous policy of using jihadis as instruments of state policy, the basic thrust of the propaganda campaign is that the jihadis are being funded and directed by the Indians and the Israelis. Without a shred of evidence to back their poisonous verbiage, ministers, officials (serving and retired), clerics, journalists and politicians are all busy constructing conspiracy theories implicating India for the acts of people like Mullah Fazlullah, Baitullah Mehsud and other such extremist elements. Quite aside the fact that the Pakistanis have conveniently forgotten that just a few months back the current ISI chief called these people “patriotic Pakistanis”, the demonisation of India and the hatred for India that is being spawned through this campaign will ensure that the animosity between the two South Asian neighbours will never end. What is more, this sort of propaganda only adds to India’s apprehensions that Pakistan might redouble its efforts to export jihadi terror to India not only to keep India unsettled but also to settle scores for the imagined Indian hand in what is happening in Pakistan.

Under these circumstances, India quite simply cannot be expected to lower its guard against Pakistan, especially since much of the terrorism that India has faced has emanated from the supposedly modern and moderate Pakistan and not from a Talibanised Pakistan. As things stand, there are a lot of doubts and questions are being raised in India over the Pakistan Army's motives, its seriousness and indeed its tactics and strategy in fighting the extremists. Is the military operation in Swat, Dir and Buner merely an effort to be seen to be acting resolutely against the Taliban and thereby to pre-empt the threat of a unilateral strike by the Americans in this region? Is it only an operation designed to convince the Americans that the Pakistanis are actually earning the dollars that the Americans are handing out to them and to keep the dollars flowing? Has the operation been undertaken because the Taliban has crossed the red line set by the army, which is now bludgeoning the Taliban only to make it amenable to once again operate only as strategic assets of the army? Or is it the case that the Pakistan Army has finally realised its jihadi folly and decided to eliminate once and for all the threat that Islamic extremism poses to the Pakistani state?

If it is any of the first three cases, it would be completely untenable and rather senseless for anyone to ask India to create any political or military space for Pakistan because it means that whatever is happening in Malakand division is a carefully calculated, choreographed and calibrated action. Of course, the scale of the refugee crisis that this operation has created is perhaps an unintended consequence, but one that in a rather cynical way demonstrates the costs of defying the Pakistan Army.

Only in the case that the Pakistani establishment is committed to completely rooting out the jihadi infrastructure and putting Pakistan on a liberal and progressive path will it make any sense for India to try and take measures that assist Pakistan in this effort. But with an important caveat: if at the end of this war, India is saddled with the sort of Pakistan that it has faced for six decades — outwardly liberal and moderate but at the same time virulently anti-India — the very purpose of helping Pakistan out of its existential crisis will be defeated.

IAF plane goes missing with 12 onboard

Press Trust of India, Tuesday June 9, 2009, Shillong

A transport aircraft of Indian Air Force with six air crew, including a wing commander, and as many civilians on Tuesday went missing after taking off from Mechuka in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh and is feared to have crashed.

The AN 32 aircraft, on a routine air maintenance sortie, took off from Mechuka at around 2:00 pm for Jorhat in Assam after which it went missing, a spokesman at the Eastern Air Command here said.

The identity of the crew and other passengers were not disclosed but the spokesman said the air crew was led by a wing commander.

The plane, belonging to Jorhat air base, had taken off from Mohanbari in Assam's Dibrugarh district.

The Indian Air Force conducted an air reconnaissance in the afternoon in the Arunachal mountains looking for either the plane or its wreckage, the spokesman said.

Defence CPRO U Upasani in Kolkata said the search could not be carried out for long on Tuesday because of bad weather.

The army and paramilitary forces on the ground in the area have been alerted, he said.

Not ruling out the possibility of a crash, the spokesman said the search operation would resume early on Wednesday.

Army role in Naxalite fight


New Delhi, June 9: The Indian Army is working on a plan to set up a local command in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur district, whose primary responsibility will be to monitor Naxalite activity and train the state’s police forces in counter-insurgency tactics.

This is the army’s first move to create a structured body to deal specifically with Naxalite activity. But army headquarters and the defence ministry do not equate this with a deployment of armed forces against the Maoist insurgency.

The “sub-area command” to be created in Chhattisgarh will be headed by a brigadier. A sub-area command of the army is a static peacetime formation assigned to a geographic location from where it does not move. Such a command reports to a larger area command, usually headed by a major general.

The Bilaspur or Raipur sub-area command is likely to report to the Jabalpur Area Command in Madhya Pradesh.

The army chief, General Deepak Kapoor, visited Raipur in March. He was told that the Chhattisgarh government had identified land for the army in Bilaspur. Kapoor himself has said that Naxalite activity was a matter of concern but the army was not going to be deployed.

Defence minister A.K. Antony has also ruled out deploying the army, except as “a last resort”.

However, the reliance on state police forces in Chhattisgarh and Orissa is running low. In the Orissa Assembly yesterday, the Congress, which is in the Opposition, said it would not object to the army being called in because, the party alleged, state police had failed.

For the past four years, the army’s Allahabad-headquartered central command is monitoring Naxalite activity. Chhattisgarh and Orissa also come under the central command’s area of responsibility.

An army source said the central command had the resources to raise training institutions and a sub-area command in Chhattisgarh could be supported by it.

The army supports the Counter-Terrorism and Jungle Warfare School in Kanker in Chhattisgarh that is run by a retired brigadier, B.. Ponwar.

Ponwar was the commandant of the army’s Counter- Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Vairangte, Mizoram. A retired colonel of the army also heads a Special Task Force of the Chhattisgarh police.

With the creation of the sub-area command in Chhattisgarh, it can be expected that the army will increase its monitoring of the region.

It will also intensify its involvement in training the police and the paramilitary. A secondary activity will be recruitment.

India, Nepal to sign boundary map

Shirish B Pradhan/ PTI / Kathmandu June 9, 2009, 15:15 IST

Against the backdrop of alleged encroachment by India along the Indo-Nepal border, a joint committee set up to resolve the border issues between the two countries, is working towards finalising a boundary map.

The technical-level committee is working towards finalisation of the map, Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood told reporters here.

"We are waiting for Nepal Government's nod to sign the boundary map (that will be signed by the two countries)," Sood said after meeting Nepalese Foreign Secretary Gyan Chandra Acharya yesterday. "We have been waiting for over a year to sign the agreement."

He also informed that nearly 98 per cent of the border between Nepal and India has been demarcated. Now, we need to formally put our signature in the border map, he said.

The joint committee, headed by Surveyor General of India and Director General of Nepal's Department of Survey, has been working in a coordinated manner towards demarcating and managing the border.

The country's Supreme Court yesterday issued a show-cause notice to the government, asking why it had failed to stop "Indian encroachment" in Nepal's territory along the 1,808-km border of the two countries.

Advocates Santosh Basnet and Pushpa Thapaliya on Sunday filed a PIL, claiming there was an Indian encroachment on the border and demanded court intervention to order the government reclaim over 60,000 hectares of the country's territory "encroached" by India in 22 districts along the border.

Nepal government has maintained there is no border encroachment in the area and no complaint has been received about harassment of Nepalese by Indian security forces. Nepal's Constituent Assembly and the Maoists have sent two separate teams to Dang district to assess the situation.

'Golden opportunity on Kashmir missed during Musharraf's rule'

Press Trust of India / London June 9, 2009, 14:35 IST

A "golden opportunity" was missed to resolve the Kashmir issue when General Parvez Musharraf was in power in Pakistan, new Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said.

"There is no doubt that we missed a golden opportunity with General Musharraf in power in Pakistan. It's unlikely that we are going to see a leadership with that degree of control over the entire situation in Pakistan," Abdullah told London-based 'Financial Express' in an interview.

But even then, Abdullah felt that it would be unfair to suggest that just because Pakistan is a democracy that they cannot deliver on a dialogue process.

"India is a democracy. Pakistan is a democracy," he said, "If we can, there is no reason why they cannot. It's just a case of institution building," the Kashmir Chief Minister said while favouring opening a dialogue process with Islamabad.

Omar's comment on an agreement on Kashmir came just a day after former Pakistan President Musharraf claimed that New Delhi and Islamabad were close to a pact during his regime.

"My proposal was the demilitarisation of the disputed area, self-governance and a mutual overwatch," Musharraf had said.

He said, "the key irritant was the Line of Control which the Indians wanted to make permanent. I said we should make it irrelevant by opening transit routes. And that is where the situation stands."

Omar said it was very clear that the Pakistani Army had no interest in destabilising the civilian administration, "so possibly, that is a window of opportunity for us again".

To a question whether the Pakistan army has an interest in resolving the Kashmir issue once for all, Abdullah said "I'd like to believe so. Gen Musharraf was the chief of army staff when he tried his level best to do it. So I am sure he was carrying his army behind him when he was doing this."

"There are vested interests on both sides," the chief minister warned and emphasised that governments in both Islamabad and New Delhi should neutralise and marginalised these vested interests.

"There are pockets in the polity, in the establishment. The amount of money that flows in the name of Kashmir even into the polity of the state... It would be unfair to blame just the army or bureaucracy or the intelligence... There are any number of political players who would find themselves out of pocket if they did not have the Kashmir issue to sell to people," Omar said.

Resume peace talks with Palestine: US to Israel

Harinder Mishra in Jerusalem

June 09, 2009 20:11 IST

United States envoy to the Middle East on Tuesday pressed Israel on "prompt resumption" of the stalled peace talks with Palestine, amid sharp differences between Washington and Tel Aviv over settlement activities in disputed areas.

George Mitchell, US President Barack Obama's [Images] special envoy, met the Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv and was scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

"We all share an obligation to create the conditions for the prompt resumption and early conclusion of negotiations," Mitchell said.

His visit comes ahead of an important political speech, hawkish Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to deliver at Bar-Ilan University on Sunday, where he will outline his policy towards Mideast peace process.

On the differences between the US and Israel over Jerusalem's continued settlement activities in the West Bank, the envoy said the policy gaps "are not disagreements among adversaries", the two countries "remain close allies and friends."

"We're working hard to achieve our objectives for comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including a Palestinian state side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel," Mitchell said alongside President Shimon Perez in Jerusalem.

Pakistan's war against terrorism is a farce

B Raman

June 09, 2009

Some years ago, when General Pervez Musharraf [Images], the blue-eyed warrior against terrorism of the then United States President George W Bush [Images], was the President of Pakistan, its police had arrested an individual on the charge of belonging to the Al Qaeda [Images].

When he was produced before an anti-terrorism court, it asked the government lawyer to produce a copy of the notification under which Al Qaeda had been declared a terrorist organisation. After some days, the lawyer went back to the court and told it sheepishly that the government had overlooked declaring Al Qaeda a terrorist organisation.

He promised that a notification would be issued shortly and requested that the arrested person continue to remain in custody till then. The court did not accept the plea. It ordered his release. It held that even if it was a fact that he belonged to the Al Qaeda, he had not committed an offence because Al Qaeda was not a terrorist organisation under Pakistani laws.

Some years later, in December 2008 to be precise, the Pakistani government placed Professor Hafeez Mohammad Saeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the political front of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images], under house arrest in the wake of the Mumbai [Images] terrorist strike of November 26. The action was taken following the decision of the anti-terrorism sanctions committee of the United Nations Security Council to include the JuD and the LeT as associates of the Al Qaeda.

Saeed went to the Lahore [Images] high court to challenge his house arrest. The government lawyer told the court that the action of the UN Sanctions Committee obliged the government to act against him. When the court did not agree with that contention and asked the lawyer whether the government had any independent evidence of its own, the lawyer met the three judges privately and showed them, what he claimed, was independent evidence of the LeT's links with Al Qaeda. The judges wanted to see a copy of the government notification under which Al Qaeda was declared a terrorist organisation.

After some days, the lawyer went back to the court and told it sheepishly that the government had not yet declared Al Qaeda a terrorist organisation. The court told him that if that was so, the LeT's having links with the Al Qaeda is no offence under the law.

The court, which ordered the release of Saeed on June 2, released on June 6 the details of the grounds on which it ordered his release. One of the grounds says: "The security laws and anti-terrorism laws of Pakistan are silent on the Al Qaeda being a terrorist organisation."

The court added, "Even after the perusal of these documents we do not find any material declaring that the detention was necessary for the security of the petitioners and there was no evidence that the petitioners had any links with Al Qaeda or any terrorist movement."

Thus, eight years after 9/11, Pakistan is yet to declare Al Qaeda a terrorist organisation. Is this sheer, shocking negligence or is there something more sinister to it? Does one require any more evidence to show that Pakistan's so-called war against terrorism is a farce?

Army-Fortis standoff continues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 9
A meeting between the Army authorities and the management of Fortis, Mohali, to end the impasse over the re-empanelment of the hospital for the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) ended without reaching any decision today.

Ashish Banerjee, director of Fortis, said all issues were discussed at the meeting and they were yet to know the decision of the Army. An Army spokesman also claimed that no final decision had been reached yet.

On the issue of pending bills with the ECHS, the Army spokesman admitted that some money was outstanding towards Fortis, but it was due to certain inflated and disputed bills. While all bills submitted by the Fortis authorities were cleared in routine, there was a dispute on charges in some bills, he said.

The impasse, which has caused problems to ailing ex-servicemen, has come under criticism from the All India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association. The chairman of the association, Bhim Sen Sehgal, in a statement to the Press, has contradicted the claim of the Army authorities that members of the ECHS were maltreated at Fortis.

“The action of the authorities has put a large number of ECHS members in extreme difficulty as they are now being deprived of the services of one of the best hospitals in the region,” he said. He claimed that the association had never received any complaint regarding maltreatment, harassment or overcharging by the hospital from ECHS members or their families.

The allegations were entirely baseless and contrary to the factual position, he claimed, adding that the association had received a good feedback from the members about all private empanelled hospitals.

Gallantry allowance enhanced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 9
The Chandigarh administration has enhanced the monthly allowance for various decorations. While the revised allowance would be Rs 10,000 for Paramvir Chakra and Ashok Chakra awardees, for Sarvotam Yudh Seva Medal, it would be Rs 2,500; for Mahavir Chakra and Kirti Chakra, Rs 7,500 each; Uttam Yudh Seva Medal Rs 2,000; Vir Chakra and Shauriya Chakra Rs 3,500 each; Yudh Seva Medal Rs 1,500; and Sena Medal (Gallantry) Rs 2,000.

For Mention-in-Dispatches it would now be Rs 1,000; for PVSM Rs 2,000; AVSM Rs 1,500; and VSM and Sena Medal (Distinguished Service) Rs 1,000 each.

The administration has also fixed lump sum one-time monetary grants to future gallantry awardees of Paramvir Chakra at Rs 25,00,000; for Ashok Chakra Rs 25,00,000; Mahavir Chakra and Kirti Chakra Rs 15,00,000 each; Vir Chakra and Shauriya Chakra Rs 10,00,000 each; Sena Medal (Gallantry) and Sarvotam Yudh Seva Medal Rs 5,00,000; and Yudh Seva Medal and Param Vishisht Sewa Medal Rs 3,00,000.

For Mention-in-Dispatches and Ati Vishisht Sewa Medal it would be Rs 2,50,000 each and Rs 4,00,000 for Uttam Yudh Seva Medal.

For Vishisht Sewa Medal and Sena Medal (Distinguished Service) it would be Rs 2,00,000. The lump sum rates would apply only to future winners of the awards and the previous cases would not be reopened. These amounts would be given in lump sum to future awardees only once and they would not be entitled to any other benefit. The rates would be applicable from the date of issuance of the notification that is June 5, 2009.

Defence scandals continue to haunt Army's artillery plans

10 Jun 2009, 0303 hrs IST, Rajat Pandit, TNN

NEW DELHI: First Bofors, then Denel, and now Singapore Technologies. The Army may well have to conduct an exorcism to get rid of the recalcitrant

ghost which continues to haunt its over Rs 15,000-crore artillery modernisation programme.

The government's move to blacklist Singapore Technologies (ST) and six other companies, in the still-erupting corruption scandal around former Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chairman Sudipto Ghosh, has hit Army's long-derailed artillery programme once again.

For one, ST's Pegasus howitzer was the leading contender to bag its order for 140 air-mobile ultra-light howitzers for Rs 2,900 crore. For another, ST was also a contender in the Rs 8,000-crore project to buy 400 155mm/52-calibre towed artillery guns as well as indigenous manufacture of another 1,100 howitzers after transfer of technology.

"The Pegasus howitzer was, in fact, to be field-tested during this summer in Rajasthan. Our defence procurement policies need a major revamp. Scandals really hit modernisation of armed forces,'' said a senior Army officer.

Army needs ultra-light howitzers to ensure artillery can be deployed in forward, inaccessible areas at short notice with the help of helicopters. In fact, the two new mountain divisions now being raised, with around 15,000 soldiers each, are to be equipped with them.

The new divisions are to be tailormade for swift offensive operations in the mountains of north and northeast India, primarily to counter China's military infrastructure build-up along the Line of Actual Control, as first reported by TOI.

But scandals swirling around defence deals have ensured the 1.2-million Army has not inducted any single new artillery gun for over 23 years now. The last such acquisition was of 410 155mm field howitzers in 1986 under the infamous Rs 1,437-crore Bofors contract inked by the Rajiv Gandhi government.

The kickbacks scandal put paid to Army's aim to plug gaps in its long-range, high-volume firepower. Things began to look up in early-2001 but the entire acquisition process again came to a naught two years ago, after an unprecedented four rounds of field trials in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.

First, the Bofors gun (the original Swedish company is now owned by BAE Systems) performed better than the guns of Israeli Soltam and South African Denel firms in the trials. And then, Denel got blacklisted in 2005 for allegedly paying Rs 20 crore as kickbacks in contracts for supply of 700 anti-material rifles, ammunition and transfer of technology.

The process began afresh last year, with the floating of three global tenders for ultra-light howitzers, towed guns and the Rs 4,700 crore one for 180 wheeled self-propelled howitzers. But the blacklisting of ST has once again put a spoke in Army's artillery wheel.

Indian Army goes into Star Wars mode

By: MiD DAY Correspondent Date: 2009-06-09 Place:Delhi

New technology, software being acquired to bring warzones and command centres closer

Wars are fought on the battlefield and not on the strategy table. This is what commanders would say. But the wars of the future may well be fought with equal intensity at both places the actual front and the distant command centre.

The Indian defence forces are preparing for the scenario where command centres will be issuing orders on the basis of real-time pictures of the war fronts. All the three forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) are gearing up to integrate their assets with high-end sensors, satellites and radars to transmit real-time pictures to the command centres.

High-tech shopping

While the Air Force has inducted Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), the Army and the Navy are also buying satellite terminals and high-end antenna to integrate their networks with dedicated satellites. "The Navy has dedicated almost half of its budget for purchasing equipment for integration of various assets. The wars of thefuture are going to be very different and the nation that can successfully integrate its various defence forces,will have an advantage," said a senior defence ministry official.

Upgrade the old

While large-scale equipment purchase is going on, the defence forces are also upgrading their existing systems. All the three forces are upgrading their communication network and have agreed to share their bandwidth with the department of telecommunications to secure their network against any intrusion. "After 26/11 there is a serious need to improve and add more safeguards to our communication system. Though the defence communication setup is largely impenetrable, improvement is imperative," said a senior Army officer, requesting anonymity.

Explaining the concept of Network Centric Warfare (NCW) he said: "Imagine a war zone where the infantry is linked with the armoured group as well as the artillery. Similarly, Army formations will be joined with the Air Force. The same will be replicated with the Air Force and Navy in coastal areas."

Meanwhile, senior officers manning the command centres will get real-time pictures of the war zones, enabling them to take accurate decisions based on the scenario. It sounds like star wars but it's possible."

Very sophisticated software are going to be an integral part of the overall system. "Cyber technology will lead the change. Only dedicated high-end software mixed with accurately designed hardware can make it possible. Software units across the world are preparing such gadgets and programmes and India is among one of the front runners," said a senior official from the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Defence rethink on Israel freeze


New Delhi, June 8: The defence ministry is having second thoughts on its decision to freeze business with a major Israeli military firm because it is likely to boomerang on the armed forces.

The Israeli Military Industries (IMI) is a key supplier of critical equipment to Indian security forces and the ban on the firm, announced last Friday, will force the security establishment to look for alternatives that are not easy to find.

“The decision is to put transactions ‘on hold’. This is a temporary measure. We are assessing what is to be done,” a defence ministry source said today.

The South African firm, Denel, blacklisted in 2004, continues to be tainted. But Denel did not have as many running contracts with India as the Israeli firm does.

IMI and six other firms were blacklisted because the ministry was convinced the CBI found evidence they had bribed the former director-general and chairman of the Ordnance Factories Board, Sudipta Ghosh, who was arrested in Calcutta last month. Defence minister A.K. Antony decided to blacklist the firms even before the CBI furnished a chargesheet against Ghosh.

But the blacklisting of IMI and another firm — Singapore Technologies — will have a heavy immediate impact. IMI is not only a supplier of small arms to the Indian Army but also to Indian special forces.

Since the Mumbai attack last November, further orders have been placed with IMI. The firm makes the Uzi and Tavor 21 submachine guns. Variants of the guns have been supplied to Indian forces and are in use.

IMI is also a supplier of 125mm tank shells, for which it provides knowhow to ordnance factories. It recently inked a deal with the ordnance factory to revive a Nalanda plant in a Rs 2,000-crore project to manufacture propellant charges for Bofors ammunition, and another deal estimated at Rs 700 crore to manufacture Zitara carbines in an ordnance factory.

IMI has a running project to make cargo ammunition — a variant of “cluster bombs” that rights activists rail against — in a joint venture with the Ordnance Factory at Khamaria in Madhya Pradesh.

IMI was also advising the Defence Research and Development Organisation on the development of the indigenous Arjun tank for the Indian Army.

The Ordnance Factory Board was also working on a proposal from IMI to jointly develop a bomb, PB500, capable of penetrating two-metre-thick concrete.

The blacklisting of Singapore Technologies practically cancels a part of the Indian Army’s artillery modernisation programme. The firm was left the only bidder with its Pegasus gun for an order of ultra-light howitzers.

The other contender, Bae Land Systems, which displayed its gun at an exhibition in Delhi, opted out of the race. With Singapore Technologies banned, the government will now have to cancel the tender unless the ban order is revoked.

India's Special Forces will assume a larger role in future


India's Special Forces will assume a larger role in future conflicts, although some officials say these units are not properly used or structured."Special Forces will play an increasingly dominant role at all levels of war, be it strategic, operational or tactical," said a senior Indian Army officer.The Special Forces needs a stronger profile in the defense hierarchy, added the Army officer. Its role came into focus when the military doctrine of 2004 emphasized that future wars would be swift, highlighting the need for Special Forces.The Special Forces has increased over the last five years from about 5,000 to more than 20,000 personnel across air, sea and land units, said Indian Defence Ministry sources. Some have been trained by Israelis at unknown locations. These units are equipped to fight behind enemy lines and carry advanced high-tech weaponry and equipment, said the Indian Army official.However, Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst, said Special Forces has not been accorded a more prominent hierarchical placement."While Special Forces should be rising in the military hierarchy, Indian stress is on using normal infantry through conflict-oriented training rather than Special Forces," Bhonsle said.While India's Special Forces has grown in numbers and lethality, these elite troops have been used in an infantry role to fight terrorists in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Special units need to be selectively deployed for effective use, said S.V. Thapaliyal, a retired Indian Army major general.


"Special forces must not be used where normal infantry can accomplish the mission, which they do in most cases. Employment of Special Forces does not depend on the size of conflict but on the mission for their optimum employment," Thapaliyal said.The Special Forces will be equipped not only with advanced weaponry but will be integrated in the military's command, control, communications, intelligence and surveillance system. It will be provided with intelligence, fire support by attack helicopters, naval gunfire, precision-guided munitions and rockets to conduct missions, said the Army official.For the last two years, defense planners have sought to put the Special Forces under a special command, but no decision has been reached. However, defense analysts do not unanimously support creating such a command.


"To realize the potential of the Special Forces in India, they have to be brought under a separate command. However, given the approach to zealous ownership of assets among the services, this is not likely to happen in the near future. Sadly, this is depriving the country of much of the potential of the Special Forces and in turn there are no standards for assessment of their potential, so the situation seems to be pretty grim," Bhonsle said.Defense forces sources said that creation of a separate command has been resisted, especially by the Army."There is no requirement to have the Special Forces under a separate command. The existing command and control setup is adequate for their optimum employment," Thapaliyal said.

Indian Army to induct first network-centric artillery system

13:00 GMT, June 9, 2009 Taking the first step towards acquiring network-centric warfare capabilities, the Indian Army is all set to induct a computerised command and control system to integrate its artillery weapon operations.

Known as Project Sakthi, the Artillery Combat Command and Control System (ACCCS) is a major division of the Tactical Command Control Communication and Intelligence (Tac C3I) system, senior Army officers said.

"ACCCS is the artillery component of the TAC C3I grid, which is the first step of the Army to acquire the capability of network-centric warfare at the tactical level," they said.

The system is scheduled to be inducted on Friday.

"Sakthi is the first C3I system being fielded in the Indian Army. The role of ACCCS is to automate and integrate all artillery operational functions and provide decision support at all levels of artillery command from the corps level down to the battery or guns level in a networked environment," the officers said.

Taking the first step towards acquiring network-centric warfare capabilities, the Army is all set to induct a computerised command and control system to integrate its artillery weapon operations.

Developed by the Army's Directorate General of Information Systems, Shakti's three main electronic devices Enhanced Tactical Computer, Gun Display Unit and Hand Held Computer are produced by the defence public sector undertaking Bharat Electronics Limited.

Shakti, the officers said, would give the troops the capability to concentrate artillery fire power at operational and tactical levels in a reduced time-frame and deliver a decisive blow to the enemy at the desired place.

"The capability of rapid acquisition, processing and dissemination of battlefield information and delivering crushing blows to enemy's critical assets, even before he makes contact with our forces, will be the deciding factor in any future conflict," they said, explaining the need for such a system.

ACCS, they said, would perform five critical functions including 'Technical Fire Control' for trajectory computations and 'Tactical Fire Control' primarily involving processing of fire requests at battery to corps level and ammunition management.

It also ensure 'Deployment Management' for guns and observation posts for defensive and offensive operations, 'Operational Logistics' for assisting in timely provisioning of ammunition and logistics support and 'Fire Planning' to facilitate production of fire plans, task tables and automatic generation of gun programmes.

Army chief General Deepak Kapoor will induct Shakti at a function in the presence of Director General Information Systems Lt Gen P C Katoch and BEL managing director Ashwani Kumar Datt.

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