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Monday, 31 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 31 Aug 09

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Times of India

Times of India

DNA India

DNA India

DNA India

DNA India

Hindustan Times

Dragon on move, India to redraw military plan
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
The largest-ever ongoing tactical military exercise by China will lead to redrawing of military plans in India. The deployment pattern of troops, equipment and planes along the 3,500-km long Sino-India border is likely to be reviewed and some changes are in the offing, said highly-placed sources.

Close watch is being kept on the Chinese exercise which is a hotly debated topic in the defence circles these days. India, which is ramping up infrastructure along the border, may not respond with a tit-for-tat exercise by moving its troops, but it will keep “the need for speed” in mind, the sources added. For this, the pressure will be again on train and road connectivity in areas bordering China.

China is testing its capacity to introduce long-range high-speed mobilisation using air, land and sea resources. The exercise, which started on August 11, will see some 50,000 men moving to unfamiliar areas far from their home bases for two months during which they will undergo live-fire drills. The men are drawn from four military regions of Shenyang, Lanzhou, Jinan and Guangzhou. Each of the teams will be deployed at least 1,200 kilometers away from their bases. China is divided into seven military regions.

Such deployments may be needed by China to reinforce units in Tibet and Xinjiang as the military companies being used now are located farthest away from both these places. Notably, these two places are located very close to the border, as a result India is also within the “loop” of such an exercise, opined a serving officer. China already has a highway running right up to 50 km short of Demchok in eastern Ladakh. The highway running east of Lhasa is very close to Arunachal Pradesh. The 1220-km long Lhasa to Gormo railway line is another strategic link.

Brig Gurmeet Kanwal, who is director, of the Delhi-based think-tank, Center for Land warfare and Studies (CLAWS), says at present India is well poised in its defence strategy but a shift in doctrine was needed. For this, huge infrastructure support is needed. Kanwal believes that the exercise is not entirely geared towards India and China is testing its own ability to move large number of troops.

The high-profile war game of the Chinese army is set to be somewhat countered as the Indian and US troops will simultaneously conduct their largest joint drill in October. It will feature a variety of armoured vehicles, medium and heavy lift aircraft and helicopters, an official said. The scale will be much smaller than China, but, the message will be important.

Separately, IAF sources maintain that the advanced landing grounds in Arunachal Pradesh are ready and functional and so are the dozen-odd new helicopter landing grounds. These are all strategically placed to facilitate troop movement. “Heavy lift choppers will have to be used in case of any skirmish in these mountains”, opined a senior officer of the armed forces. A few months ago, the India Army deployed T-72 tanks in Sikkim. Another major road upgrade programme is on in eastern Ladakh for smoother deployment of mechanised infantry.

China violates airspace

Leh (JK), August 30
Two Chinese helicopters have reportedly violated the Indian air space in recent months in the Leh area of north Jammu and Kashmir during which they air-dropped some canned food in barren land at Chumar, northeast of this Himalayan town, along the border.

The MI series helicopters were reported to the nearby defence post by residents of this high altitude area living along the Pangong lake, located in the lap of majestic hills, prompting the Army Aviation Corps to rush its Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

However, they could only find tell-tale signs left by Chinese helicopters which hovered in the Indian territory for nearly five minutes dropping the food material on June 21 this year, sources said.

Army spokesperson for Udhampur-based Northern Command said there was a report of a helicopter flying in the area south of Chumar, where India and China have differences in perception on the Line of Actual Control. It was reported by grazers.

A confidential defence document accessed by PTI shows that Chinese helicopters entered into Indian air space along the Damchok area and Trig Heights in Ladakh and air dropped canned food containing frozen pork and brinjal, which had passed the expiry date.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has been crossing over into the Indian side in this region quite frequently with August reporting the maximum number of incursions.

Trig Heights also known as Trade junction, which connected Ladakh with Tibet in earlier days, is an area where Chinese patrol have frequented this year in June, July and August.

Chinese Army patrols have made 26 sorties in June, including two incursions by helicopters, and 21 in July.

In August this year, Chinese patrols have entered into the Indian Territory 26 times and walked away with petrol and kerosene meant for jawans of the border guarding forces. The Chinese army had made 223 attempts last year and left tell-tale signs.

The Army spokesperson, however, tried to downplay these incursions attempts saying "there are a few areas along the border where India and China have different perceptions of the LAC. Both sides patrol up to their respective perceptions of LAC." — PTI

Pak has modified Harpoon, India under threat: US

No, says Pak

Islamabad: Pakistan today rejected an allegation that it had illegally modified US-made Harpoon missiles to enhance its ability to attack land targets, including in India, saying “no modification has been made to the missiles under reference”. — PTI

New York, August 30

The US has accused Pakistan of illegally modifying the Harpoon anti-ship missile, sold to it as a defensive tool by the Reagan Administration, to expand its capabilities to strike land targets, a potential threat to India.

The Obama Administration, reported 'The New York Times' in a front page story, lodged its protest with Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in June, adding to the tension between the two countries.

Quoting unnamed officials from the Administration and the US Congress, the daily said Washington has also accused Pakistan of modifying American-made P-3C aircraft for land-attack missions, another violation of United States law.

The Obama Administration's accusation confirms New Delhi's assertion that the US military aid is primarily used by Pakistan to strengthen and build up its army against India.

The newspaper said Pakistan has refuted the charge that it modified the missiles and claimed that it developed these itself. Between 1985 and 1988, the US had provided 165 Harpoon missiles to Pakistan.

The New York Times said top leaders of the Congress have been briefed about the protest lodged by the Obama Administration.

The Congress is currently in the process of approving a legislation which triples the non-military aid to Pakistan which along with the military aid amounts to $ 7.5 billion in five years. The dispute could derail this legislation, the daily said.

“Whatever their origin, the missiles would be a significant new entry into Pakistan’s arsenal against India. They would enable Pakistan’s small navy to strike targets on land, complementing the sizable land-based missile arsenal that Pakistan has developed,” The New York Times said.

“The focus of our concern is that this is a potential unauthorised modification of a maritime anti-ship defensive capability to an offensive land-attack missile,” a senior administration official was quoted as saying.

The potential for “proliferation and end-use violations are things we watch very closely,” the official said. “When we have concerns, we act aggressively,” the official said.

According to The New York Times, a senior unnamed Pakistani official said that the missile tested was developed by Pakistan, just as it had modified North Korean designs to build a range of land-based missiles that could strike India.

Given the strong protest lodged by the Obama Administration, the official told the daily that Pakistan has taken the unusual step of agreeing to allow American officials to inspect the country’s Harpoon inventory to prove that it had not violated the law.

The paper said the latest round of dispute between the US and Pakistan, reflects the “level of mistrust” between them.

“A central element of the American effort has been to get the military refocused on the internal threat facing the country, rather than on threat the country believes it still faces from India.

“Pakistani officials have insisted that they are making that shift. But the evidence continues to point to heavy investments in both nuclear and conventional weapons that experts say have no utility in the battle against insurgents,” the Times said. — PTI

Crashes, engine failures ground IAF trainer craft



Wings of death

New Delhi, August 30

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has grounded its entire fleet of HPT-32 initial trainer aircraft owing to a series of crashes and engine failures. This comes at a time when the force is facing an acute shortage of efficient pilots.

Authoritative sources in the IAF said recurrent engine failure of the Hindustan Piston Trainer (HPT)-32 aircraft — stationed at the Air Force Academy (AFA) in Hyderabad — is the reason behind the grounding since last month.

“The entire fleet of the HPT-32 has not been flying," a senior IAF official said, requesting anonymity. The engine failures raised concern as the aircraft are handled by rookies for initial flight training.

On July 31, an HPT-32 aircraft crashed at Annaram village in Jinnaram Mandal of Medak district and both the instructors on board were killed in the accident. In May last year, a woman cadet of the AFA died during a crash. In this case, fuel had leaked into the engine, causing it to burst.

The basic propeller-driven trainer, with two side-by-side seats, suffered more than 70 incidents between 1988 and 1995. A group was constituted to study the aircraft, which is manufactured by the defence public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and which has been in service for three decades.

According to the study, the Avco Lycoming AEIO-540-D4B5 engine in the aircraft has registered more than 100 failures in recent months.

Usually around 140-150 cadets of the flying branch are trained on the HPT-32 and then graduate to the intermediate flight and weapons training aircraft Surya Kiran. However, with the initial trainer being grounded, cadets are now directly being trained on the Surya Kirans, affecting the training schedule of the pilots.

"We have got Surya Kiran trainer aircraft from across the country and also from SKAT (the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team) for training pilots," the official added.

Last year, even the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India said the IAF was facing an acute shortage of efficient pilots after failing to impart quality training. It attributed the discontinuity in training to lack of adequate state-of-the-art training aircraft with the IAF.

“HPT-32 aircraft used for Stage-I training is technologically outdated and beset by flight safety hazards. In spite of the loss of 11 pilots and 15 aircraft, it continues to be used today. Further, HPT-32 does not aid in the smooth transition of trainees to the next stage of training,” the CAG had said. — IANS

Chinese helicopters enter Indian air space twice in Ladakh

Press Trust Of India

Leh (Jammu and Kashmir): Two Chinese helicopters reportedly violated the Indian air space in the recent months in Leh. The helicopters air-dropped some canned food in a barren land at Chumar, northeast of Leh, along the border on June 21.

The MI series helicopters were reported to the nearby defence post by local residents who live along the Pangong lake, prompting the Army Aviation Corps to rush its Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

However, the Army could only find tell-tale signs left by Chinese helicopters which hovered in the Indian territory for nearly five minutes, sources said.

When contacted, Army Spokesperson for Udhampur-based Northern Command said that there was a report of a helicopter flying in the area south of Chumar, where India and China have differences in perception on the Line of Actual Control. It was reported by grazers.

A confidential defence document accessed by PTI shows that Chinese helicopters entered into Indian air space along Damchok area and Trig Heights in Ladakh and air dropped canned food containing frozen pork and brinjal, which had passed the expiry date.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army has been crossing over into the Indian side in this region quite frequently, with August reporting the maximum number of incursions.

Trig Heights also known as Trade junction, which connected Ladakh with Tibet in earlier days, is an area where Chinese patrol have frequented this year in June, July and August.

Chinese Army patrols have made 26 sorties in June, including two incursions by helicopters, and 21 in July.

The Chinese army had made 223 attempts last year and left tell-tale signs.

The Army spokesperson, however, tried to downplay these incursion attempts by saying, "There are a few areas along the border where India and China have different perceptions of the LAC. Both sides patrol upto their respective perceptions of LAC."

"Due to perceived differences in the alignment of LAC, the Chinese patrol does transgress beyond our perception of the LAC in a few areas. The pattern of transgressions has remained similar over a long period of time," the spokesperson said.

Incursions have taken place in eastern Ladakh and on the northern bank of Pangong Tso Lake. Chinese patrols come frequently on the North and South of this lake, whose 45 kilometres are on Indian side while another 90 on Chinese side.

India and China have been engaged in talks over the Line of Actual Control and had exchanged maps in 2002. In the western sector (East Jammu and Kashmir), the Samar Lungpa area, between the Karakoram Pass and the Chipchap river, is contentious, with Chinese maps showing the LAC to be south of the Samar Lungpa.

This is the northernmost part of the border, far to the north of Leh. But while the Indo-Tibetan Border Police operates north of the line the Chinese claim to be the border, they remain south of the Lungpa. South of the Chipchap River are the Trig Heights, comprising Points 5495 and 5459.

Chinese troops frequently enter the area and in fact, they have a name for Point 5459; Manshen Hill. The area, south-east of Trig Heights, called Depsang Ridge is also contentious. Differences were found when Chinese small-scale maps were interposed on large-scaled Indian ones.

'Pak consistently trying to target India'

30 Aug 2009, 1742 hrs IST

Lt Gen (retd) Shankar Prasad, reacting on the accusations of the United States that Pakistan is illegally modifying American-made missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets in India, said Pakistan has been consistently trying to target India.

Shankar Prasad, said, "Pakistan forever is known for violating all laws and norms. It is quite possible that the missiles that the United States gave to Pakistan nearly 20 years ago have a limited range. The effort on the Pakistan is to see that it enhances its range so that they are capable of taking targets on India and cause devastating effect. Pakistan has consistently tried to do this and advertising it deliberately. Pakistan is trying to put caution on India and saying that it is better for you not to react to any of our misdeeds.

'Pak is Indo centric'

V P Malik, former chief of Army staff, Indian army, said that the focus of Pakistan is Indo-centric rather than countering terrorism.

'This is an infringement our sovereignty'

Hamid Gul, former ISI chief, reacting on the accusations of the United States that Pakistan is illegally modifying American-made missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets in India, said, "They are trying to blind the Pakistan army and the armed forces. They are also trying to project its image as that of a rogue. They think that Pakistan can be brought down to its knee. This is an infringement our sovereignty. If Pakistan accepts the conditions of the US, then it is going to be external difficulties. If it does not accept, I think it is going to be financial crisis which they will have to bear."

‘Pak acquiring weapons systems to use against India'

Strategic Affairs & Defence expert of TIMES NOW , Maroof Raza, has said that Pakistan's actions are not out of character given its proliferation record.

Maroof Raza said, "Pakistan has in fact a history of acquiring missiles in particular from countries like North Korea and China and then modifying them and claiming these were developed by Pakistan and therefore they were indigenous technology."

He is of the opinion that these weapons cannot be used against terror groups and insurgents on the Pak-Afghan border but would obviously be used against India.

Raza speaking on how weapons were used against India, said, "The last set of financial funding that Pakistan received post 9/11 when it became America's ally on the war on terror. Bulk of the money that was received by Pakistan's armed forces was either unaccountable or used to buy weapons systems which would not get them to confront militants and terror groups on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border but were used to acquire weapons systems against India."

In conclusion, Raza said, "The central question is if the Americans are aware and I am quite convinced they are aware, how the Paksitani military continues to use American funding."

He further questioned as to why the US is repeatedly sanctioning billons and billons of dollars to Pakistan to acquire weapons systems like the Harpoon missile and the others.

In a development that could significantly increase tensions between India and Pakistan and spawn an arms race, the United States has accused Pakistan of illegally modifying American-made missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets.

A "New York Times" report quoting anonymous US intelligence and government sources describes the modifications as a potential threat to India.

American military and intelligence officials say they suspect that Pakistan has modified the Harpoon antiship missiles that the United States sold the country in the 1980s, a move that would be a violation of the Arms Control Export Act. The United States has also accused Pakistan of modifying American-made P-3C naval patrol aircraft for land-attack missions, another violation of United States law that the Obama administration has protested...

"The New York Times" report also says the missiles would be a significant new entry into Pakistan's arsenal against India. They would enable Pakistan's small navy to strike targets on land, complementing the sizable land-based missile arsenal that Pakistan has developed.

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Sunday, 30 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 30 Aug 09

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Indian Express

Asian Age

Times of India

WW-II hero’s grave found after 67 yrs
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 29
Sixtyseven years ago at the height of World War II, Tarani Kanta Roy of Sarbhog in Assam’s Barpeta district, who was at the time a doctor with the Indian Hospital Corps, was asked to report for duty, at the Allied Forces headquarters in Singapore. Though his wife was seven months pregnant and their first son was only 18 months old, he chose to respond to the call of duty leaving the two behind with his ageing parents. However, he promised his wife, Kiranbala Roy, he would come back once the war was over. Little did she know she would never see him again.

About three years later a colleague who was also a doctor and captured by the Japanese army, informed the family that Roy, had been killed on February 13, 1942, when the Allied Forces hospital in Singapore, where he was working, was destroyed by heavy bombing by planes of the Japanese air force.

It was only on August 8 this year that Roy’s granddaughter, Bidisha Kalita, and her husband, Pulin Kalita, both of whom are now settled in Singapore, came upon his resting place during a visit to the Kranji War Cemetery in the island republic. Inscribed on the sepulchre were the words ‘Their name liveth for ever more: Tarani Kanta Roy-doctor and Satya Paul Khosla-doctor.’

“It was a great piece of news for us. I feel proud my father’s martyrdom was duly honoured and the family is relieved of a burden on the heart,” noted theatre personality Dulal Roy, Roy’s second son, told The Tribune.

Dulal, who was yet to be born when his father left for Singapore, said: “A colleague of his once told us during the aerial attack on that fateful day my father was attending his duties unflinchingly amid the bombardment. Till her death my mother, who never believed my father had died, awaited his return.” He added the family members are planning to make a trip to Singapore to pay their respects to Roy at his tomb.

At the time of Roy’s death his father, who was a ranger in the Assam Forest Department, had done his best with his limited resources to get some information about his lost son but in vain. Knowing he would never return home the old man constructed a small house in Guwahati’s Shantipur locality for Roy’s two sons -Hemendra Kumar and Dulal, naming it ‘Orphan Kutir’.

Myanmar, the regime’s policy of "divide and conquer" against minorities

by Tint Swe

The "Biblical" exodus of the minority Shan is the latest chapter in a government policy that creates divisions in the country to later guarantee - with weapons - unity. The twenty-year strategy of agreements, concessions or repression of various groups is at a crossroads, in view of the general elections of 2010.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - In recent days, AsiaNews reported on the “biblical” exodus of thousands of Burmese civilians, at least 30 thousand according to the latest data, who have crossed the border between Myanmar and China to escape the ongoing conflict between government forces and of the ethnic Shan rebel groups. The military junta in Myanmar - the nation consists of the majority Burmese and many ethnic minorities - has launched an offensive on rebel movements, the military means to force them to surrender in view of the general elections of 2010 and to cooperate with the government in defence of the borders national.

We publish the analysis of Tint Swe, a member of the Council of Ministers of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) composed of refugees from Myanmar after the 1990 elections won by the National League for Democracy and never acknowledged by the junta . Fled to India in 1990, since 21 December 1991 he lives in New Delhi, and is a member of the NCGUB where he holds the post of information officer for South Asia and East Timor

Recent developments in the Sino-Burmese border are the result of a twenty-year agreement between the Burmese regime and the armed ethnic groups. The internal rebellion or civil war had no end, neither under democracy, nor martial law.

This regime has made a strategic choice, creating a so-called cease-fire agreement with different ethnic groups. And the first group to have signed it was also the first to experience the unfortunate consequences. This group is the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (Mndaa).

The strong army of 450 thousand units has neither the ability nor the desire to break the insurgency with the guns. For this reason it uses all available means, lawful or unlawful, without distinction. If you are strong, you get more concessions in return; otherwise just get the crumbs.

The China factor has played a leading role in quashing, at the end of the Cold War, the once strong Communist Party of Burma (CPB). When the Chinese government put an end to political support and material assistance, the Communist Party was no longer able to maintain its leading role among the various ethnic groups not belonging to the majority Burmese. This gave the newly installed military regime the perfect opportunity to pursue the policy of "divide and conquer”.

To MNDAA was followed by a number of other rebel movements related to various ethnic groups. In this way the regime has had the opportunity over the past decade to show the world, and the country itself, that it alone can ensure peace. As a result the SLORC - the original State Council for the Restoration of law and order - has become the State Council for Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

This gave the junta the opportunity to implement the next step in strengthening power. While it orchestrated repression after repression, the junta finalized the drafting, writing and approval of a new constitution, with all it has cost.

This is why 2010 is D-day. The time has come to address the issue related to the cease-fire and the rebel groups. The plan to turn them into border guards has not gone as smoothly as hoped. The smallest folded, but the larger groups continue their resistance.

This explains the regime’s decision to adopt the same tactic used previously for the Karen. The Karen National Union (KNU), the strongest political movement, has been infiltrated by the regime, it was bought and sold and then divided from within. The result was the birth of DKBA in 1994. The strange acronym stands for the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, consisting of a fringe group from the Karen National Liberation Army (Knla), the armed wing of the KNU. The result: Karen have had to kill Karen.

Now MNDAA represents the last show of the pre-election campaign ahead of the 2010 vote. Kokangs must kill Kokangs. The State Council for Peace and Development has needed less than a thousand soldiers. Ten thousand civilians have fled to China. Now China has to decide whether to support the armed resistance of Kokang Chinese or Burmese army.

(with the collaboration of Nirmala Carvalho)

Navy doctrine covers int, synergy gaps exposed by 26/11

Press Trust of India / New Delhi August 29, 2009, 15:24 IST

With the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks exposing gaps in intelligence sharing and synergy among maritime forces, the latest Navy's doctrine has laid greater emphasis on these two critical aspects of security.

"There are subtle, but notable changes in the 'principles of war' outlined in the revised Maritime Doctrine, released yesterday, with the inclusion of 'synergy' and 'intelligence' as key factors," Navy officials told PTI here today.

The doctrine, first brought out in 2004, lays down its task as an armed force furthering Indian security interests and also provides the fundamentals for readiness and response planning for the Navy.

"The chapter on India's maritime environment and interests has been significantly revamped and expanded to include the geostrategic importance of India's location and the Indian Ocean Region, maritime terrorism, piracy and coastal security," they said.

Outgoing Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta released the 2009 edition of the doctrine that would provide a common understanding of universally applicable maritime concepts not only to the uniformed fraternity, but also to the public at large.

The review of the doctrine, Navy officials said, was necessitated by the ongoing changes in the geostrategic environment, the growing needs of the nation and consequently the navy, evolving operational complexities and transformational changes sweeping the maritime domain.

However, the new edition of the maritime doctrine continues to cover the fundamental framework of the principle practices and procedures that govern the development and employment of the military maritime power, they added.

The chapter on concepts of maritime power was also revamped considerably to reflect the contribution of the government and the people through a maritime attitude and consciousness, and economic factors such as ship building, they said.

"Since doctrines evolve over time, the present edition maintains its temporal relevance, addressing the tenets of contemporary maritime thought, with emphasis on the Indian maritime environment," they said.

An entirely new chapter called Naval Combat Power highlights the ever-changing demands on conceptual, physical and human concepts emerging from rapid transformational changes in technology and consequently tactics, they said.

"The laws governing armed conflict have been covered for a better understanding of the legal aspects covering combat," they said.

A conscious effort was made to move forward from the commonalities of maritime thought, as applicable to most sea faring nations, to address specific maritime concepts, concerns and developments applicable to India and the Indian Navy, the officials said.

The Great Global Officer Shortage

August 29, 2009: Despite having only one soldier (sailor or airman) for every 866 people, India has a chronic officer shortage. The United States, with one soldier for every 187 Americans, has no shortage . China, with one soldier for every 591, has no shortage either. What is going on here? What is happening is a global officers shortage. Until the last few decades, it was considered prestigious, and career enhancing, to serve at least a few years as a military officer. These days, no more. Shortages are often filled by lowering standards, which can have disastrous results in combat.

The Indian Army is short 24 percent of its officer strength, while China has the numbers, it is seriously concerned with the quality. Meanwhile, the Indian army has had a shortage of officers for decades. The air force and navy are also short, but only by 12-15 percent. In China, the problem is growing as the economy continues to boom (despite the global recession.)

But it's not just officers that are hard for the Indians to recruit and keep. Technical specialists are in short supply, which is a growing problem as the army adds more high tech gear. The basic problem is that the army must compete with the civilian economy for highly trained or educated personnel.

The Indian army maintains high standards for officers, and has tried to eliminate the shortages by more aggressively recruiting young NCOs for officer candidate school. But that doesn't always work, because too many of the NCOs cannot pass the entrance exam. The source of that problem is the corruption in the Indian primary school system. Teaching jobs in many parts of the country are considered political patronage. These teaching assignments are handed out to political activists, with the understanding that they are no-show jobs. So, despite a lot of money being put into primary education over the last half century, the illiteracy rate is still 39 percent. The Chinese rate is 9.1 percent.

The Indian military has long been an all-volunteer force, and had no trouble filling the ranks. But over the last decade, as the government dismantled controls on business, and privatized many government owned companies, the economy has boomed. There are not enough qualified technical and management people to fill all the skilled jobs. India has been looking at how other nations solve these problems. They have noted American success (over the last four decades) in outsourcing a lot of support jobs. This is almost a necessity with some high tech specialties, where even civilian firms face shortages. Another American technique, cash bonuses for jobs with shortages, is more difficult for India, which much less money to spend on defense. India also has some unique cultural problems. While the caste system is, in theory outlawed and not functioning, it is still there. Which caste you belong to not only influences who you can marry, but, to a lesser extent, where you can work. And when the word gets around that the "wrong kind of people" are becoming army officers, many (a large minority) potential officers suddenly show no interest in a military career. Coupled with the high illiteracy rate, small number of college grads, and huge competition from the booming economy, it's a wonder the shortfall is only 24 percent.

China has similar problems, although there are differences. The Chinese education system is more efficient, or at least less corrupt. Although China still has conscription, the armed forces are basically staffed with volunteers. But the three decade economic boom has made it difficult for the military to get the quality people it wants. Thus many Chinese officers are, for want of a better word, losers. The same could be said for many Indian officers, but India, or at least many parts of India, have a military tradition. There, bright young lads will forgo higher pay to serve as officers. But that is not as fashionable as it used to be, and the Indian army wants to double the pay of junior officers to make it competitive with what civilian employers are offering new college grads. China recently gave its junior officers a raise.

Moreover, India has a problem that China does not have. India is at war, with troops getting killed and injured in Kashmir, the northeastern tribal areas, and fighting Maoist rebels in eastern India. The casualty rate is actually quite low, but just serving in a combat zone is hard on the nerves, and not attractive to many educated young Indians. Overall, bright young Indian men are competing to get into business and technical schools, while the military academy cannot fill vacancies. On the other hand, Indian officers are getting invaluable combat experience, much more than their Chinese peers.

Indian military leaders want officer conscription, via mandatory officer training and service for university graduates. But the majority of citizens and politicians oppose this. China has a system similar to the American ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps), where the costs of college are picked up by the government for those who study military subjects in college, and then serve as officers for a few years after they graduate. China also has more military academies than India, and is also having a hard time getting young men to attend them. China still gets a lot of officers via NCOs taking officer training. This provides good military leaders, but ones lacking the technical skills that are increasingly important.

Neither India nor China have found a solution for their junior officer shortage, and until there is a solution, the quality of their armed forces will suffer.

India fields admiral to trash scientist’s claim

NEW DELHI: India’s senior most military commander, Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee and Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta on Thursday iterated that the country had a credible nuclear deterrent even as former president A P J Abdul Kalam refuted claims of a former defence scientist that a hydrogen bomb tested in 1998 (Pokhran II) had failed.

Admiral Mehta’s assertion and Kalam’s statement countered the claim of K Santhanam, a member of the team that conducted Pokhran II, that the yield of the thermonuclear device tested in the Rajasthan desert 11 years ago was much below expectation.

Kalam, who had led the campaign as director general of Defence Research and Development Organisation, dismissed his team member’s claim. “After the test, there was a detailed review, based on the two experimental results – seismic measurement close to the site and around radioactive measurement of the material after post shot drill in the test site,” Kalam told agencies. “From these data, it has been established by the project team that the design yield of the thermonuclear test has been obtained.”

Santhanam maintained his position, but all others involved in the project were quick to rebut the claim. R Chidamabaram, the team leader of Pokhran II, also said that Santhanam’s disclosure was absurd.

Former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra, another key player in Pokhran II, also claimed that the five tests carried out were successful.

Santhanam’s remark reignited the debate if India possessed a thermonuclear device more powerful than an atom bomb.

Admiral Mehta, who retires as navy chief on Monday and passes on the baton of chiefs of staff committee to army chief general Deepak Kapoor, said India had no first strike policy, which required a credible deterrence.

Santhanam was director for 1998 test site preparations. He had made the low yield disclosure on Tuesday at an event organised by Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis on Comprehesive Test Ban Treaty. India had conducted a series of tests on May 11 and 13. The first of the three tests carried out on May 11 was a thermonuclear device or a hydrogen bomb. Santhanam said India needed more thermonuclear tests and should not commit itself to signing the CTBT.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 29 Aug 09

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Kashmir Times

Part 2

Asian Age

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Times of India

DNA India

DNA India

Let Sikhs join military: US lawmakers

Indo-Asian News Service, Friday August 28, 2009, New York

Forty-one members of the US House of Representatives have written to defense secretary Robert Gates to permit Sikhs wearing their religious symbols to join the military.

Sikh organisations have been lobbying with US lawmakers after the refusal by the army to let two Sikhs with turbans join active duty a few months ago.

Captain Kamaljit Singh Kalsi, a doctor, and Second Lieutenant Tejdeep Singh Rattan, a dentist, were told to remove their turbans by the military when they were about to enter active duty after completing their preliminary programme.

In their letter to Gates, the lawmakers say: "We do not believe that any American should have to choose between his religion and service to our country, and urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure that these two officers - and other Sikhs that may wish to serve - are able to maintain their articles of faith.

"Including Sikh Americans will enrich the military's understanding of diverse cultures, languages, and religions, thereby allowing us to fully appreciate not only the rich fabric of our own country but also the lands where we send our soldiers into harm's way."

Citing the example of Canada, Sweden and other countries where Sikhs are allowed to wear their symbols in the armed forces, Sikh organisations led by Sikh Coalition have urged Secretary Gates to end this discrimination by the US army.

The coalition said they will continue their 'Sikh right to serve' campaign till the US military changes its "exclusionary policy" against Sikhs.

Revised Maritime Policy
Navy to have sharper focus on Indian ocean
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
Just six months after the Indian Navy was given charge of the country’s entire costal security, it announced a revised maritime policy today. The Navy will now have a even more sharper focus on the neighbourhood of the country.

This means securing the trade routes in the Indian Ocean region; extending the reach of the Navy to project India as a major force and also preventing Mumbai-style sea-borne invasions by terrorists.

The 2009 edition of the Indian Maritime doctrine was released here today by the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sureesh Mehta. The original doctrine was published in 2004 to provide a common understanding of universally applicable maritime concepts, not only for the forces but also for the public at large. This revision was needed, on account of the rapidly changing geo-strategic environment and transformational changes in the maritime domain, Commander PVS Satish, spokesperson of the Indian Navy said tonight.

The earlier doctrine was more generic in nature, this one will provide a sharper focus. The Indian Navy’s role in the Indian ocean has changed in the past 12 months. It has been sent out to patrol the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden area to ensure safety of international sea trade routes. Indian sailors have successfully foiled at least five bids by pirates to take over ships and brought down instances of pirates using choppers stationed on the ships.

After the Mumbai attacks in November last year, the government handed over the entire command and control of the coast to the Indian Navy that has been installing high-tech sensors along the coast. In coordination with the coast guard, it is also buying fast-attack crafts for shallow waters.

China's growing role in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

August 28, 2009 17:11 IST

Among the major development projects in Pakistan in which the Chinese have been involved till now are the construction of an international commercial port cum naval base in Gwadar on the Makran coast in Balochistan, the development of the Saindak copper-cum-gold mines in Balochistan, the upgradation of the Karakoram Highway connecting the Xinjiang province of China with Pakistan via the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan), the construction of a small-scale hydel project in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and the development of a mobile telephone network in the North-West Frontier Province.

The commercial port in Gwadar has already been completed and commissioned, but it has not been attracting many foreign sea-going vessels due to the poor security situation in Balochistan because of the increasing activities of Baloch nationalists demanding an independent Balochistan. The construction of a naval base in Gwadar, which could also be used by Chinese naval ships visiting the Gulf, has also slowed down due to the poor security situation in the area.

The Pakistanis, since the days of General Pervez Musharraf [ Images ], have repeatedly sought Chinese assistance for the construction of a petrochemical complex at Gwadar and oil and gas pipelines and a railway line connecting Gwadar with the Xinjiang province. The Chinese have till now not shown much enthusiasm for additional involvement in Balochistan because of the security situation. Since 2002, there have been at least three attacks on Chinese engineers working in Balochistan. In two of these, Uighurs were suspected and in one in 2007, which took place after the Pakistani Army raid of the Lal Masjid of Islamabad [ Images ] in July, 2007, the Pakistani Taliban [ Images ] was suspected. While there were Chinese fatalities in the first two attacks, there were no Chinese fatalities in the third attack of 2007, in which many passers-by were killed. All these incidents involved the use of improvised explosive devices.

The authorities of Pakistan and Iran have been claiming that the Chinese have been showing interest in the extension of the proposed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline to Xinjiang. Presently, the proposal for the pipeline envisages the involvement of Iran, Pakistan and India -- with India participating only as the purchaser of the gas and not as a contributor of funds for the construction of the pipeline. Since 2005, Indian enthusiasm for the project has declined due to the security situation in Balochistan through which the pipeline has to pass and the US opposition to it. Pakistani and Iranian authorities have been repeatedly hinting since last year that if India withdrew, China might be prepared to step in as a purchaser of the gas as well as a contributor of funds for the construction. There has been no indication from the Chinese side on their reported interest in the project.

Chinese interest in participation in projects in the Pashtun belt has also declined following two incidents of kidnapping by the Pakistani Taliban of Chinese engineers working in South Waziristan for the China National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Group Corporation in October, 2004, and in the mobile telephone network in the Dir District of the NWFP in August 2008. There was also an attack by the Pakistani Taliban on some Chinese meat importers in Peshawar after the Lal Masjid raid, resulting in fatalities.

As a result, the Chinese interest in participating in development projects in Pakistan is presently confined to Pakistani Punjab [ Images ], Sindh and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir [ Images ], including the Northern Areas. In Punjab, they have been participating in projects like the development of a special economic zone, construction of shopping malls etc. In Sindh, talks have been going on for their participation in the development of the Thar coal mines and the construction of thermal and fertiliser plants.

The Karakoram Highway was originally constructed with Chinese assistance with the participation of Chinese engineers. For the last 10 years it has been in a bad state of repairs due to poor maintenance by Pakistani engineers. During the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto [ Images ] as the prime minister (1993 to 1996) she sought Chinese assistance for the repair and upgradation of the highway. The Chinese agreed. The proposal was that the Chinese would upgrade it on their side and the Pakistanis on their side with Chinese technical assistance. The upgradation work has been going on. It has been reported that while the work on the Chinese side has been completed ahead of schedule, it has been much behind schedule on the Pakistani side. It is not known whether Chinese engineers are participating on the Pakistani side and, if so, how many of them.

During his visit to Hang Zhou in the Zhejiang province and Guangzhou in the Guangdong province from August 21 to 24, President Asif Ali Zardari [ Images ], who met the local authorities and investors, sought Chinese participation in the development of hydel, thermal and solar energy projects, irrigation and fisheries and mobile telephone networks and in creating facilities for higher technical education, including the setting-up of a telecommunications university and research complex. Among the concrete results from his visit were:

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to promote cooperation in river fisheries and related technologies by representatives of the Indus River Fresh Water Fisheries Research Institute and the Pearl River Fishery Research Institute of Guangzhou.

The signing of an MOU for the construction of a dam at Bunji in the Astore district of the Northern Areas by officials of Pakistan's Ministry of Water and Power and China's Three Gorges Project Corporation. The dam, one of the eight hydel projects short-listed for construction will have a capacity of generating 7,000 megawatts of electricity.

Zardari attended a presentation on small and medium sized dams, water conservation and irrigation by the Zhejiang Design Institute of Water Conservancy and Hydroelectric Power. Li Yueming, the president of the institute, said they had carried out feasibility studies of a couple of medium-sized dams in PoK. Shakeel Durrani, chairman of the WAPDA, who was present on the occasion, said that Chinese companies were already working on a number of hydel projects in Pakistan, including Neelum-Jhelum and Gomal Zam and the raising of the height of the Mangla dam in PoK. He said the institute would be invited to bid for the construction of 12 small dams.

Meanwhile, in a report carried by the News of August 18, before Zardari's visit to China, Kamran Khan, its journalist, alleged that without inviting open bidding from interested companies and investors, Pakistan Steel Mills has signed a non-transparent secret MoU with the Metallurgical Corporation of China for a $2.2 billion expansion programme to raise its current production capacity of 1.1 million tons to five million tons. According to him, contrary to relevant government rules and regulations as well as basic norms of transparency, Pakistan Steel didn't place any advertisement in the local and international press to seek the best international offers before entering into secret negotiations with the Chinese company, which was long seeking to clinch this deal. He said: "The most shocking element of this MoU, available with this correspondent, which will bind Pakistan with an additional foreign loan of $2.2 billion, is a clause that requires complete secrecy of this understanding. Clause 6.1 of this MoU states: "This MoU and any discussions related to it shall remain strictly confidential between the parties and no public announcement shall be made without written consent of both parties."

Kamran Khan quoted a Pakistani official as saying: "This was not our requirement but the Chinese company asked for this secrecy clause and we agreed."

There have been allegations that a businessman close to Zardari would be a major beneficiary of this expansion project. Pakistan Steel has become one of the bones of contention between Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani. A day after the publication of the News report Gilani announced in the national assembly that Moin Aftab Shaikh, the chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mills, had been sacked on corruption charges. "I had directed the interior ministry to investigate the affairs of the Pakistan Steel Mills and submit a report," he said. Some Pakistani columnists interpreted Gilani's action as an affront to Zardari.

Since taking over as the President a year ago, Zardari has been periodically visiting Chinese provinces to study their economic development. During these visits, he does not go to Beijing [ Images ]. Most of his meetings are confined to Chinese businessmen and local party and government officials. A member of the Chinese cabinet -- generally the foreign minister -- goes to the province being visited by Zardari and makes a courtesy call on him. Before going back, he speaks over phone to President Hu Jintao. He has so far made four such visits to China in the last one year. These frequent visits to meet Chinese investors and businessmen have given rise to allegations that he was going there to promote the business interests of his friends in Pakistan.

The Afghan war
It may be a pyrrhic victory for the West
by Abhijit Bhattacharyya

SIX years down the 21st century Afghan war collective wisdom of the West (NATO) suddenly faces a surge in its urge for a visible and effective result, showing victory to the people who appear no longer united and in pursuing a bloody battle in a remote Asian terrain of death and destruction.

Indeed, the mounting casualties of 75 bodybags in July 2009 clearly have rattled 41 capitals the armed forces of which are on a do-or-die “Mission Afghanistan”.

Fatality aside, what appears to have toll the bell is that the troops in the high-risk and high-casualty zone are suffering from low morale, thereby affecting their mental stability. Thus, the number of suicides reported by the US army has risen to the highest level since record keeping began three decades ago.

Last year, 192 suicides were committed by active duty soldiers and soldiers on inactive reserve status, twice as many as in 2003, when the war began. This year the figure is likely to be even higher; as from January to mid-July 129 suicides were confirmed or suspected, which is more than the number of American soldiers who died in combat during the same period.

In reality the US is in the midst of an emergency action plan to understand and address the problem of suicide, thereby increasing the financial burden as the bolstered suicide-prevention programme has resulted in the hiring of mental health providers.

With the mounting NATO soldier casualty and the simultaneous flexing of Taliban muscles, it is becoming increasingly clear that the 21st century Afghan war of 41 versus 1 is unlikely to be a quick burst of 100-metre dash in the long run. The 1 Afghanistan is likely to be a long, protracted, marathon war of attrition against the 41, thereby affecting the economy and financial resources of all the belligerents.

In fact the new secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen (the former Danish Prime Minister), realising the mounting internal pressure and conflicting interests within the NATO members, has categorically stated, (on being asked about the durability and duration of the ISAF in Kabul) that the “NATO forces will remain in Afghanistan for as long as it takes”. Obviously, the point is unlikely to be welcomed unanimously, not only in NATO but also by Afghanistan as well as by Pakistan.

Thus Afghanistan appears to be proving the 6th century BC Chinese philosopher general Sun Tzu’s theory to be prophetic—“No country has ever profited from protracted warfare. Those who do not thoroughly comprehend the dangers inherent in employing the army are incapable of truly knowing the potential advantages of military actions. Thus when employing in battle, a victory that is long in coming will blunt their weapons and dampen their spirit.”

With the NATO commander in Kabul, General McChrystal’s review of operations, the clamour for more me, machine and money is already in the air. The General’s thoughts leading to an increased thrust on the counter-insurgency offensive is sure to result in spending more for receiving more bodybags back home.

To avoid that, it would perhaps, therefore, be better to deploy less of one’s own men and put more locals in the front. However, to do so again one would require a fat purse to recruit, retain and train the “good” Afghans to fight the “bad” Afghans.

And the sheer size of the monetary contribution for the purpose is an estimated US $20 billion (Euro 13.98 billion; UK pound 11.89 billion) over five years to set up new security force. However, the very nature of the financial estimate raises questions about sustainability of the contemplated plan of action.

A further rough calculation suggests that Afghanistan, which now has got an army of 86,000 men and a police force of 80,000 personnel, will need to increase its soldiers to 1,34,000 and the entire police-military strength to 4,00,000 head.

As the Afghanistan government has neither the resources nor full control over its own territory, any increase in the Afghan National Army is fraught with grave inherent risk as the recruitment starts with the stark reality that the Taliban infested/controlled provinces of Farah, Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni, Khost, Paktiya, Logar, Wardak, Nuristan are unlikely to produce dependable and loyal professional soldiers.

In fact, history shows that soldiers recruited by foreign masters from politically disturbed areas are unlikely to prove good soldiers solely serving the interests of foreigners who are considered unacceptable by the brethren of the recruited soldiers.

Thus the English rulers in India made it an unwritten law to recruit soldiers from remote areas with high illiteracy unaffected by politically volatile provinces. In a way, what the NATO forces face today in Afghanistan, was faced by the British while recruiting soldiers in the 19th century Indian society.

However, while the British could avoid the disturbed areas to go to the high hills and the friendly rural belt to catch the potential fighters young, things in Afghanistan are much more dangerous and complicated.

As it is, the recruitment and retention of Afghan soldiers are proving not only difficult, but the battle field performance also reportedly has not been up to their Taliban brethren’ quality. This is understandable because whereas the Taliban have a “genuine” motivation to take on the “outsiders”, how can the Pashtun soldiers of the Afghan National Army fight their own blood relations on behalf of the foreigners who will not stay in the land-locked terrain of Asia?

Also, how can the Afghan government soldier do justice to his profession, when his friends and relatives in the village are at the mercy of the very Taliban against whom he is crossing the sword? Understandably, the situation is grim for all.

NATO needs more soldiers to “hammer the Taliban and hold the territory”. But the members thereof are not united. NATO requires big money but with divergent and unfocussed views of the members.

Fortyone nations are fighting 1 foe in Afghanistan. Yet the Afghan war is perceived by most as an Anglo-American mission in Kabul. General McChrystal wants more boots in the battle zone, but the mounting casualties are creating problems back home.

Thus both NATO and Afghanistan today can do little to come out of the military mess of the 21st century. More than three decades ago, the USA could wriggle out of the Saigon-Hanoi war zone owing to its being one-on-one all out war.

But the present situation is more complicated than even the decade long Soviet-Afghan confrontation as 41 nations are pitched against a poor, illiterate, superstitious, backward, starving and virtually destitute country with only one positive and high rate of growth, the population. It is indeed a long-term emergence of a piquant scenario.

The low growth rate (at times negative growth) populations of advanced nations are out there against soldiers of the soil who are capable of being out in droves, as even if two brothers die in the field, between four and five will replenish to fight another day. In comparison, the one son (and at times one child) loss of mothers from London, Liverpool, New York and New Jersey in the road side of Logar and Nuristan is bound to create more problems for NATO and the West.

Hence the need for more Afghan heads to fight the Taliban herds. The Afghan war is all set to result in a pyrrhic victory for the West and an equally bloody civil war at its worst. One need not feel bad, sad or glad about the potential outcome. Reality bites and it will bite all the belligerents.

Enemy in Pakistan is far from defeated, says US


August 28th, 2009

WASHINGTON - The Pakistan Army may have been claiming that it has forced the Taliban and other extremist groups to retreat in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), but the United States believes that the enemy in Pakistan is far from defeated.

Speaking at the 91st Annual American Legion Convention, ouisville, Kentucky, US Central Command chief General David etraeus noted that the military operation in the Swat and Malakand Divisions has forced the extremists to move back, but highlighted they are not rooted out from the region.

“These encouraging developments notwithstanding, however, the enemy in Pakistan is far from defeated, and many extremist elements have yet to be engaged, particularly those that typically operate outside Pakistan’s borders,” General Petraeus said.

“Robust Pakistani military operations in Swat Valley and in other NWFP districts have cleared militants from those areas. Operations in FATA in recent months have resulted in the death of militant leader Baitullah Mehsud and a number of other important extremist group leaders,” he added.

General Petraeus said Islamabad has realized that it faces the prime threat from the Taliban and other extremist organization operation from its soil.

“Even here one can sense the beginning of a realization among Pakistan’s leaders and people that extremists operating from their soil, in neighbouring countries, challenge the writ of Pakistani governance and inevitably will turn on their own country’s security forces and citizens,” The Nation quoted General Petraeus, as saying.

He said America would continue its support to the Pakistani military and the government in their fight against extremism. (ANI)

Cheap shot

28 Aug 2009, 0128 hrs IST, ET Bureau

It is indeed a commentary on the topsy-turvy world that we live in when revelations that a person in high office served cheap food and bad wine

to visiting foreign guests is greeted with vigorous nods of approval. In more discerning times, the idea of a British army chief treating his visiting Indian counterpart and delegation to a supermarket-bought meal that cost just £5.15 a head would have been seen an embarrassment.

Only the British royal family has been known to be tenaciously parsimonious when it comes to entertaining or gifting. But against the backdrop of the expenses scandal that rocked the British parliament recently, this similar move by General Sir Richard Dannatt was also hailed as positively heroic — much like the royal family’s well-publicised thrifty meals during World War II.

Instead of wasting money on fancy birdbaths and second homes like some MPs, the General (and perforce, his guests) bravely dined on cut-price chicken, red cabbage, pork sausages and mushrooms, washed down with plonk from a Calais cash-and-carry.

His meagre entertainment bill of less than £20,000 for 2005-2009 would surely be a revelation for the Indian army brass, used to multi-course burra khanas amid regimental silver, but the details also show that Dannatt has been somewhat flexible in his frugality. If he hit an all-time low of £5.15 for the reception for General Deepak Kapoor, he spent more than double that amount per head (£11) for a reception for the German army chief, for instance.

What they skimped on in terms of fare, they made up with savoir-faire, obviously, as the then Indian high commissioner has felt obliged to compliment Sir Richard’s charm, and the supermarket meal. That should please the chain that supplied the ‘pastry, cheese and salmon’ meal as it has been eyeing the Indian market for a while. But General Kapoor could have asked Sir Richard to consider an old-fashioned (and cheaper) alternative to off-the-shelf meals: local ingredients and the services of a regimental cook!

Interview with Mahindra Defence CEO Brig (Retd) Khutub Hai

06:59 GMT, August 28, 2009 CS Monitor reports that the biggest threat to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan is roadside bombs or improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In Afghanistan, 230 IED incidents in July 2007 killed 12 soldiers. In July 2009 there were already 828 incidents that killed 49 soldiers. In response, the Pentagon is sending 5,000 mine protected vehicles and doubling the number of bomb disposal experts.

India is facing similar problems in Naxal-controlled* areas - crude bombs killing police and soldiers. Hence there is an urgent need to deploy more mine protected vehicles. In this light, Manu Sood, Editor of the India-based online news service 8ak (, a media partner of, interviewed Brigadier (ret.) Khutub Hai, Chief Executive of Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) about their mine protected vehicles and their business in general.

8ak: Can you please tell us about Mahindra Defence Systems divisions?

Khutub Hai: We have a Land Systems Company which will form a joint venture with BAE Systems for products such as tank upgrades, howitzers and armoured multi-role vehicles. The Naval Systems division handles decoys, decoy launchers, torpedo launchers, components for sea mines etc. MDS also has a Homeland Security division that provides Security & Risk Consulting. Finally and our sister companies Tech Mahindra and Mahindra-Satyam will do all the software based design, simulation systems, C4I systems, and much more.

8ak: What defence products is MDS focusing on?

Hai: With the spreading Naxal problem, we believe that besides the army, the homeland security agencies like the police forces in each state will need mine/IED-protected vehicles (MPVs). Recently, the Maharashtra Police bought 10 of our Marksman armoured vehicles. We have offered our mine protected vehicles to the Ministry for Home Affairs for unsolicited testing. This new version is being launched in December.

Further, India's artillery systems requirement alone is worth 20,000cr (US$4 billion) that our joint venture with BAE Systems is focusing on. They have the best, combat-proven gun including the possibility for transfer of technology; Mahindra will proudly produce these in India.

8ak: Can you tell us a little more about the need for MPVs?

Hai: Currently, it is common for Indian soldiers to go in to Naxal affected areas in open, unprotected jeeps or even motorcycles without even basic protection. The Naxals are skilled at making cheap weapons especially roadside bombs/IEDs which have been responsible for police and army casualties and for making entire areas inaccessible. With mine protection and all around armouring, Mahindra believes that the MPV is a good solution. Besides the Marksman, MDS also has the Rakshak and BAE’s globally popular RGV-31 MPV.

Mahindra has set-up an international supply chain for our range of products. The chassis is based on our popular Scorpio model but the rest of the body is made-to-spec at our purpose-built factory in Faridabad.

8ak: How about competition from the public sector undertakings (PSUs)?

Hai: OFB Medak manufactures a MPV. I think the market is large enough to have another MPV player in the country.

8ak: If a small company with innovative technologies wants to approach Mahindra, are you open to such partnerships? What kind of companies or technologies are you looking for?

Hai: We are always open to inorganic growth. We could, for instance, be looking at companies in the field of defence electronics.

8ak: What are your biggest challenges?

Hai: Mahindra has access to technology and the resources to meet the needs of the Indian Armed Forces and can become a net exporter of systems and components. To achieve this some changes in the acquisition & licensing procedure are required.

The immediate need is for the government to go-ahead with its stalled plan of granting RUR (Raksha Udyog Ratna) status on private sector companies. The aim of this is to ensure that we are treated equally as the PSUs. Secondly, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap of 26 per cent has not worked for India; this urgently needs to be raised to 49 per cent.

The immediate need is for the government to go-ahead with its stalled plan. Indian Armed forces need to modernise across the board and adequate funds are available. However, the acquisition process will not be able to handle all the purchases as there are several choke points. Unless the government completely reforms the acquisitions process, especially the DPP 2008, most of these opportunities will drag on indefinitely, and become liabilities for companies involved in the tendering process.

8ak: How effective are the various industry associations in getting the private sector's voice heard in defence sectors?

Hai: I have been involved with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for the past ten years. The CII has been an extremely effective platform in formulating and conveying industry views to the Ministry of Defence.


* Naxalite or Naxal is an informal name given to communist groups that were born out of the Sino-Soviet split in the communist movement in India. Ideologically they belong to various trends of Maoism. Initially the movement had its centre in West Bengal. In recent years, they have spread into less developed areas of rural central and eastern India.

BAE Systems loses key US military deal for armoured battle trucks

Loss of lucrative vehicle programme is first big setback to US expansion

BAE Systems has failed to win the $281m (£173m) follow-on US government contract for armoured battlefield vehicles, sending its stock tumbling by more than 5 per cent yesterday.

The loss of the contract to its Wisconsin-based rival Oshkosh Defense is the first major setback since BAE Systems launched its US expansion strategy two years ago.

Under the existing contract, BAE Systems will carry on producing FMTV vehicles for the US Department of Defence (DoD) until the fourth quarter of next year. The programme is still expected to generate $2bn for the company both this year and next. Not only will there be no direct hit on revenues from the loss of the follow-on contract, but the company was already anticipating revenue from the programme to drop to less than $1bn from 2011, BAE Systems said yesterday. But the news of its failure to win the new deal nonetheless left the shares as the FTSE 100's biggest fallers yesterday, dropping 18p, or 5.6 per cent, to 306p.

"The full implications of this decision cannot be assessed until consultations with the DoD have been completed regarding their intentions to transition the programme to the new arrangements," BAE Systems's statement to the Stock Exchange said.

The company, which is the world's second largest defence contractor after Lockheed Martin, has held the contract to supply the US military's Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) programme since 1991, through its 1997 purchase of Armor Holdings. In total, more than 50,000 vehicles have been supplied so far, including trucks to transport troops to the combat zone and trucks to haul cargo, artillery and air defence systems.

Sources close to BAE Systems were yesterday downplaying the loss, claiming it was the result of a strategic decision rather than being beaten in a straight fight because Oshkosh won the deal by offering a price lower than BAE Systems thought was realistic. BAE Systems faced serious financial problems in 2002 after unwisely low bids for two UK programmes – the Nimrod helicopter and Astute submarine – led to massive overruns, contretemps with the UK government and a string of profits warnings. "BAE has learned its lessons from Nimrod and Astute and being burned on a cost basis," one source said.

BAE Systems has pursued a rapid US expansion programme over the last two years. Prior to the acquisition of Armor Holdings for £2.3bn in May 2007, the company had only nominal interests on the other side of the Atlantic, through its subsidiary BAE Systems Inc. But the Armor purchase not only brought significant contracts with it – including the FMTV programme – but also offered a springboard for other deals. BAE Systems is now the fourth-biggest defence contractor in the US market, and the division accounts for more than half of the company's £18.5bn annual sales.

The massive deal covered its purchase price within just two months, winning a $500m deal to build Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and also a $3.5bn re-tender of the FMTV programme which included an order to build 10,000 armoured lorries.

The US is not BAE Systems' only big growth market. It is also focusing on expansion in India and Saudi Arabia, where defence spending is expected to rise, as well as growing niche markets such as cyber security.

At the company's first-half results in July, Ian King, the chief executive, said he expected combat aircraft to take over from land vehicles as the main driver of growth.

The new phase of FMTV is initially for production of more than 2,500 trucks, Oshkosh said yesterday, with a possible total of up to 23,000 over five years. The company has already beaten BAE Systems once this summer. In June, it won the $3.3bn deal to build for the US military all-terrain vehicles to protect troops against roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

How can the army help

…the state in fighting the naxals?

Most observers contend that the expertise earned by the Indian army in over five decades of counterinsurgency operations is not being utilised by the Indian state in its operations against Naxals. So how can the army practically help Indian government in fighting the naxals?

The most obvious — yet most difficult — way is to bring the army or the Rashtriya Rifles units directly into this fight. The government is reticent to do so for valid political reasons, and the army seems to be equally reluctant to get embroiled in another internal security battle. The portrayal of Naxals as misguided youths fighting discrimination — who have been midwifed by gross underdevelopment and state apathy — makes it extremely difficult for the government to deploy army or RR units against them.The ensuing uproar from the liberals and the leftist media against the disproportionate retaliation by the state is likely to embarrass the government; it would be an unmitigated public relations disaster for the ruling formation. The government is also perhaps correct in appraising that the nation doesn’t yet believe — and is not prepared for the eventuality — that army needs to be moved in against the naxals. Moreover, pushing for army deployment at this stage would actually prove that UPA 1.0 was an unmitigated disaster in assessing and tackling the naxal threat. Any acceptance of this brutal fact would obviously be an anathema to the Prime Minister and the Congress party.

While the complete spectrum of public opinion — from the left bleeding liberals to the institutional army — seems arrayed against the deployment of army units against the naxals, the government would still wish for some role, whether direct or indirect, so that the state police forces and paramilitary units can gain from army’s expertise and experience. One of the ways to do so is to bring more civil police officials and paramilitary soldiers in to the army training schools. In the first place, the army schools would not be in a position to train so many cops due to a lack of capacity, but more importantly, the army would wish to prevent diluting the primary purpose of these training establishments, which is to train the army soldiers.

Perhaps a better way to achieve these goals would be for the army and the state governments to replicate the model of Kanker CTJW school in Chattisgarh, which trains over 3000 students from state police forces every year. But then there are limitations to the number of such schools that can be created presently. Moreover, the number of policemen who can be made available by the state police forces at any given time to undergo this naxal-specific COIN training would be extremely limited — due to the existing shortages of policemen and the emergent naxal threat.

While the merits of the above proposal may be debatable, the proposal to pitchfork senior army officers at higher levels as security advisors to state governments is certainly an idea without merit. Notwithstanding the institutional differences and cultural barriers between organisations, the problem with police and paramilitary forces fighting the naxals is at operational and tactical levels, and not at a strategic level. These tactical failures create strategic blunders. Army generals at the top can hope to provide strategic guidance, whereas the issue here is of effective tactics and operations by the police. The real problem would thus still remain unresolved.

The way out then is to look for an innovative solution. Along with establishing certain Kanker-like training establishments to create a well-trained core of policemen (and policewomen), the army should look at placing middle and junior ranking officers-led embedded advisor teams with police units at tactical and operational levels. The underlying philosophy of this mechanism ought to be capacity building — train as you operate. These advisor teams would coach, teach and mentor police and paramilitary forces, training them before deployment — if feasible — and accompanying them into operations against naxals.

In addition to an officer and a JCO, each embedded team could include army advisors focused on personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, medical and maintenance support for their team and for the unit they advise. While these teams would initially have to be ad hoc teams culled from the vast pool of experienced counterinsurgents held by the army, the system would have to be soon refined, institutionalised and professionalised to make it fully effective.

The concept of embedded advisor teams offers significant advantages over any other option. These advisors would act as force multipliers for the local police by bringing in the culture of leadership and training that is the Indian army’s greatest strength. For their part, the local police offers significant cultural awareness, deeper local knowledge and linguistic advantages over army or RR units, and also is likely to be far more acceptable to the local public whose support is essential to victory in this campaign against the naxals.

The army should be interested in this proposal for a very selfish reason: this is about the fighting the army will not have to do itself in the future against the naxals, if it today enables and empowers the state police and paramilitary forces for the fight. This is not to argue that the army cannot militarily defeat the naxals; the better and a far more efficient way for the army is to create the conditions that will enable other security forces — state police, armed police and paramilitary forces — to win this war for the state.

India’s Navy Chief designate applauds performance of ships deployed overseas


August 28th, 2009

VISAKHAPATNAM - Vice Admiral, Nirmal Verma who is to take over as the Chief of Indian Navy on August 31 has applauded the performance of ships deployed on the high seas.e said this at a ceremonial parade held at Visakhapatnam to mark the handing over the command of the Eastern Naval Command to his successor, Vice Admiral Anup Singh.

Vice Admiral Verma said that support agencies have played a pivotal role in operational fitness of the various ships deployed on the high seas of Indian territorial waters as well as abroad.

“People should know that Indian Navy has arrived on the global scene. If these ships have remained operationally fit, a lot of credit goes to support agencies. I would also like to congratulate Indian sea warriors who have fulfilled their responsibilities in last one and half years because of that we were able to deploy our ships,” he added.

A specialist in electronic warfare, Vice Admiral Verma was commissioned into the Indian Navy on July 1, 1970 and since than he held various Staff, Operational and Command appointments. He is a graduate of the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich, U.K. He also graduated from the U.S. Naval War College. (ANI)


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