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Monday, 13 July 2009

From Today's Papers - 13 Jul 09

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Times of India

Times of India

DNA India

DNA India

DNA India

DNA India

DNA India

India wary of Sino-Pak link-up in PoK

New Delhi, July 12
India is wary of Chinese designs to establish strategic link-up with Pakistan in parts of Jammu and Kashmir under occupation by both the countries, saying this could have direct military implications.

The Defence Ministry's Annual Report for 2008-09 tabled in Rajya Sabha recently noted with concern the possibility of China "enhancing connectivity with Pakistan through the territory in Jammu and Kashmir, illegally occupied" by both these nations.

While China seized 38,000 sq km in Jammu and Kashmir during the 1962 war with India, Pakistan unilaterally ceded another 5,120 sq km territory it had occupied in 1947-48 to China under a pact in 1963.

However, the Annual Report has failed to mention Chinese military posturing along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh, of which Beijing claims about 90,000 sq km territory as its own, and has positioned 30 military divisions that indulged in frequent incursions across the LAC.

The report also expressed concern over the military assistance China was extending to Pakistan and other countries in the neighbourhood.

Seeking "greater transparency and openness" in China's defence policy and posture in the backdrop of its fast growing military prowess, India also said it will "engage China, while taking all necessary measures to protect its national security, territorial integrity and sovereignty."

Noting that Chinese defence expenditure (that stood at seven per cent of its GDP) had grown by double digits over the last two decades, the report referred to China's 2008 White Paper on Defence that outlined its policy on developing strategic missiles, space-based assets and blue-water naval capabilities.

"China's stated objectives, in their White Paper, of developing strategic missile and space-based assets and of rapidly enhancing its blue-water navy to conduct operations in distant waters, as well as the systematic upgrading of infrastructure, reconnaissance and surveillance, quick response and operational capabilities in the border areas, will have an effect on the overall military environment in the neighbourhood of India," the report said.

Stating that China's armed forces' modernisation need to be "monitored carefully" for implications on India's defence and security, the Defence Ministry, however, struck a conciliatory note, saying it enjoyed a strategic and cooperative partnership with China, which had further progressed during high-level visits in 2008-09.

It observed with satisfaction Beijing's stated policy in its White Paper "never to seek hegemony or engage in military expansion in the future, no matter how developed it became."

The report said the two neighbours were engaged in negotiations on the 4,500-km boundary dispute and have agreed to maintain peace through mutually agreed confidence building measures, pending final settlement. — PTI

23 battalions to be moved out of J-K

New Delhi, July 12
Notwithstanding the demand of Jammu and Kashmir government for greater role of CRPF in the militancy-hit state, the Centre is contemplating to move out at least 23 battalions of paramilitary forces and shift them to left wing extremism-affected areas.

As many as 16 battalions of the CRPF - 10 from Kashmir valley and six from other areas, five of Border Security Force and two of Indo-Tibetan Border Police - are likely to be moved out of the state soon, official sources said. The total number of the personnel to shifted is around 23,000.

The sources said a decision to this effect may be taken after the completion of the Amarnath Yatra, which is scheduled to end early next month.

They said the CRPF, which has over 75,000 personnel in the valley out of which one-third were deployed on duty with the counter-insurgency grid, needed to be trimmed down. — PTI

BSF to induct women for combat duty

New Delhi, July 12
Setting a milestone, the Border Security Force will induct about 1,000 women personnel for combat duties for the first time by the end of this month. The women, who are currently undergoing training at the BSF establishment in Khatka, Punjab, will participate in the passing out parade on July 29, which will be attended by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.

"It would be a proud day for us when women will work shoulder-to-shoulder with men," BSF Director General M L Kumawat told PTI.

These personnel have been imparted training in weapon handling, intelligence, border management, sports, unarmed combat frisking and guard duties. The women, along with their male counterparts, will carry out search and frisking at check posts, immigration points and trade routes along the borders which the force guards.

The first batch will be deployed in Punjab sector.

The newly trained personnel will be inducted for the posts of constables and the BSF also expects to get women officers in the post of assistant commandants and higher ranks. — PTI

China may attack India by 2012: Report

New Delhi, July 12
A leading defence expert has projected that China will attack India by 2012 to divert the attention of its own people from “unprecedented” internal dissent, growing unemployment and financial problems that are threatening the hold of Communists in that country.

“China will launch an attack on India before 2012. There are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century,” Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, has said.

He said the recession has “shut the Chinese exports shop”, creating an “unprecedented internal social unrest" which in turn, was severely threatening the grip of the Communists over the society.

Among other reasons for this assessment were rising unemployment, flight of capital worth billions of dollars, depletion of its foreign exchange reserves and growing internal dissent, Verma said in an editorial in the forthcoming issue of the premier defence journal.

In addition to this: “The growing irrelevance of Pakistan, their right hand that operates against India on their behest, is increasing the Chinese nervousness," he said, adding US President Barak Obama's Af-Pak policy was primarily Pak-Af policy that has "intelligently set the thief to catch the thief”.

Verma said Beijing was "already rattled, with its proxy Pakistan now literally embroiled in a civil war, losing its sheen against India. Above all, it is worried over the growing alliance of India with the US and the West because the alliance has the potential to create a technologically superior counterpoise.”

While China "covertly allowed" North Korea to test underground nuclear explosion and carry out missile trials, it was also "increasing its naval presence in South China Sea to coerce into submission those opposing its claim on the Sprately Islands," the defence expert said.

Verma added it would be “unwise” at this point of time for a recession-hit China to move against the western interests “Therefore, the most attractive option is to attack a soft target like India ,” Verma said.

But India is "least prepared" on ground to face the Chinese threat, he says.

“Is Indian military equipped to face the two-front wars by Beijing and Islamabad? Is the Indian civil administration geared to meet the internal security challenges that the external actors will sponsor simultaneously through their doctrine of unrestricted warfare? The answers are an unequivocal 'no'. Pacifist India is not ready by a long shot either on the internal or the external front," the defence journal editor says. — PTI

CAG’s revelation
Misuse of funds by Army

THE Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) has rightly indicted the Army for misuse of funds by two army commanders in the purchase of golf carts using their special financial powers. In one case, the officer was evidently more bothered with the golf handicap than helping handicapped patients, for whom ostensibly the golf carts were bought. The second case is even more ludicrous, since the 22 “track alignment reconnaissance vehicles”, bought for more than Rs 1 crore, turned out to be nothing but golf carts. Special financial powers are given to the heads of various commands to meet urgent operational requirements like the deployment of strike corps and counter-insurgency operations. Their misuse is a serious breach of trust for which action must be taken against the officers concerned.

The CAG report has also highlighted other serious lapses in the procurement of equipment. The Dhruv helicopter has an altitude ceiling of 5,000 feet, which falls 1,500 feet short of the Army’s requirement, necessitated by the need to provide services to soldiers posted in remote areas at high altitudes such as the Siachen Glacier. The Army bought stretchers that lack the facility to put I.V. fluid bottles, a requirement in battle zones, among other shortcomings. While the 155mm Howitzer Bofors gun has proved its efficacy in the 1999 Kargil War and otherwise, the Krasnopol ammunition bought for it proved to be a dud—the test rounds “fired blind” and did not hit the target.

The Army is given a fair deal of autonomy in its functioning. Incidents like the ones pointed out by CAG undermine the people’s confidence in the force. Indeed, the ball is in the Army’s court to ensure that it deals with the errant officials and also ensures that its discretionary powers are not misused. It is vital that public confidence in the armed forces is not shaken.

Gurkhas face axe after Joanna Lumley win makes them to expensive

By Rupert Hamer 12/07/2009

Up to 800 Gurkha troops could be axed from the Army as part of a series of savage defence cuts.

An entire battalion of the Nepalese troops is expected to go.

The cut would be part of a wider slashing of the £34billion defence budget, which has risen steadily since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The dramatic improvements in Gurkha pay and pension rights in the past two years mean it is too expensive to maintain two infantry battalions.

The regiment only survived cuts five years ago because their poor pay and pensions made them good value for money. But senior officers say that new rulings giving them better pensions mean they are vulnerable in a wide-ranging defence review.

In the High Court earlier this year all Gurkhas won the right to be allowed to remain in Britain after serving - and their pay was brought up to the same level as the regular Army. The campaign led by actress Joanna Lumley had forced Gordon Brown into a humiliating U-turn.

But it left the Government with a huge bill for improving pensions for those settling in Britain. Last night a senior military source said: "If it comes to cutting infantry battalions, the Gurkhas are now No1 on the list.

"They were only saved from the axe in the last defence cuts because they were seen as being fantastic value for money. Although they are very well-recruited and very good soldiers, they are now no less expensive than any other unit.

The fact that all Gurkhas and their dependents can now remain in Britain after leaving the Army means they will get full pensions. Before, they would return to Nepal, where their pensions are lower because of the lower cost of living. The bill could be as much as £1billion - making them an expensive unit to maintain."

The Brigade of Gurkhas - motto: "Better to die than be a coward" - is made up of 3,500 Nepalese fighting men, who still carry their traditional kukri knives.

It was formed in 1947, although Nepalese Gurkhas have served Britain for nearly 200 years. It is based in Kent and has two 800-strong infantry units - the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Royal Gurkhas Rifles.

The rest support the infantry, doing logistics and engineering. They will be redeployed elsewhere in the Army.

The battalions - with 13 Victoria Crosses between them - have seen frontline service in Afghanistan and two Gurkhas have lost their lives there.

But planned cuts of up to 10 per cent to the defence budget mean the loss of at least one Army battalion looks inevitable.

Army bosses face a fight to keep all 36 infantry battalions because the Navy and RAF have equipment programmes which have already been signed off and will be difficult to scrap.

Under a deal between Britain, Nepal and India in 1947, Nepalese soldiers would serve for 12 years then return to the Himalayas with a bounty and a pension. The agreement ruled out rights to British citizenship.

But in May Mr Justice Blake ruled that this was unlawful and breached the human rights of Gurkhas who had served the British Crown.

Set for the chop

Military bosses, forced to make huge cuts, may have to:

Slash the number of tanks and scrap plans for a new German-made tank

Cut back on parachute training for airborne troops

Delay the building of two new aircraft carriers, expected to cost £ 5billion each

Shelve a new fighter-bomber version of the Typhoon plane, which would provide air support in Afghanistan

Cancel the £25billion replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system.

Imported equipment, low morale are problems for army: former chief

Kolkata, July 5 (IANS) Dependence on imported equipment and low morale of the officers was posing a serious problem for the Indian Army, its former chief Gen. V.P. Malik said here Saturday. “Even today we are importing 70 percent of our equipment. As long as we have to depend on equipment from outside, we will be inconvenienced by any rise in prices,” he said.

To buttress his argument, Malik referred to how Russia suddenly escalated the cost of an aircraft carrier by $1.2 billion last year.

Malik, the army chief during the 1999 Kargil war, said at that time, Indian troops were low on tangible assets, but high on morale and confidence.

“This asset is almost on the verge of extinction now. There is an acute shortage of officers. Young men and women with great leadership capabilities are not joining. Those in the army want to quit,” he said, while addressing a seminar on “Indian Defence Forces’ preparedness to deal with challenges of the 21st century.”

“The low morale of the forces is becoming visible. I couldn’t dream of such a scenario when I joined the army,” he regretted.

He also criticised the political leadership for ignoring the recommendation to create the post of Chief of Defence Staff.

“That was a right recommendation made years ago. But the government chickened out. This was unfortunate.”

Malik expressed himself against using the army for internal security duties.

“You can’t switch a soldier on and off from external to internal security. These two need completely different orientations,” he said.

Continuing with his hard-hitting speech, Malik said that the government made a mistake by neglecting the border states soon after independence. “Unless we assimilate these people, our defence cannot be strong.”

Replying to a query as to why the strategic roads in border states like Arunachal Pradesh still lay in neglect, Malik said: “In 1986, the government gave us huge resources to build infrastructure like airfields and roads. Work was on at a great pace. Then in 1988, (then prime minister) Rajiv Gandhi went to China. After that, the fund flow dried up.”

Malik highlighted the need for military might to sustain India’s core values.

“Unless you are alert about the need for protecting your independence, how can you evolve as a great nation?” he asked at the seminar held on the eve of Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s 107th birth anniversary and dedicated to the memory of Field Marshal S.H.F.J. Manekshaw.

“In order to protect your soft power - your cultural ethos - you can’t do without adequate hard power. They need to compliment each other,” he added

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