Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Thursday, 20 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 20 Aug 09


My apologies for the erratic updates, but I had a problem with my laptop and the hard drive crashed - still trying to recover from that.

Have lost a lot of data, including my updated mailing list.So there may be some people who had requested to be taken off from the mailing list in the last three months and find themselves receiving mails again, while people who had requested to be included may not. Please mail / leave a message for me to take corrective measures.

Antony leaves for Maldives today

New Delhi, August 19
Defence Minister AK Antony would be leaving on a three-day official visit to Maldives tomorrow.

Antony would be leading a high-level delegation comprising Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar; DG, Armed Forces Medical Services, Lt Gen NK Parmar; DG, Coast Guard, Vice Admiral Anil Chopra and Deputy Chief of Navy Staff Vice Admiral DK Joshi.

Shortly after his arrival at the Maldivian capital of Male, Antony would call on President Mohammed Nasheed. He would hold talks with the top leadership of the government and the Maldives National Defence Force.

Antony would also have bilateral discussions with his counterpart Ameen Faisal on ways of expanding defence cooperation between the two countries. He would attend the closing session of the India-Maldives Friendship function, besides paying a visit to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, the most visible symbol of Indo-Maldives cooperation and friendship. — TNS

Navy eyes Maldives

- Counter to China’s ‘string of pearls’ plan


New Delhi, Aug. 19: A tiny pearl of an island with a former World War II airbase in the Maldives is now the Indian Navy’s strategic object of desire.

Defence minister A.K. Antony’s visit to the Maldives with a high-level team for three days starting tomorrow will not name Gan, or Addu Atoll, where the coral island is located, just south of the equator.

But the navy wants a permanent presence in Gan for its surveillance aircraft, along with a presence of its ships and other aircraft in both Male, the capital of the Maldives, and Hanimadhoo, in the Haa Dhalu Atoll in the island country’s north, which is barely 20 nautical miles (37km) south of the Indian islands of Minicoy.

As India and China seek to expand their influence in the Indian Ocean region, territories barely marked on maps are popping up like beacons in the vast blue. Gan, in Addu Atoll, is the latest.

The Indian delegation is likely to propose building or renovating a hospital in the Maldives. Antony is accompanied by, among others, the director general of the Armed Forces Medical Services, Lieutenant General N.K. Parmar.

Navy officials agreed that Gan was of “great strategic importance” but were reluctant to describe their idea of a presence there as a “naval base”.

“It is important for us to station assets there. That does not mean taking it over. In fact, we have flown our aircraft from there. We want to station there now,” a senior official said.

India does not expect this to happen overnight. Antony is expected to begin an essay in persuasion, with goodies thrown in, and a review of mutual benefits at the discussions tomorrow.

This is how New Delhi hopes to sell the idea of a listening post in Gan, or Addu, to Male: You have concerns over your environmentally fragile exclusive economic zone and about patrolling and policing your far-flung islands, some of which are uninhabited. And we, the Indian Navy, are the “regional stabilising force” in the Indian Ocean.

Indian officials will make the point that the navy is, in any case, patrolling waters a mere 15 nautical miles from the Maldives.

The group of coral islands that make up the Maldives is about 600km from its north to south.

The Maldives does not have a navy. India will offer to patrol and keep an eye over its territories. For India, the benefit: it gets a listening post that will monitor movement of Chinese vessels as they sail to and from Africa. More than 60 per cent of Chinese oil imports are assessed to be sourced from Africa.

New Delhi’s military establishment is wary of China’s “string of pearls” strategy — the phrase used to describe the pockets of influence that Beijing wants to dot around India, starting with the port of Gwadar in Pakistan to the port of Hambantota, which China is developing in the southern tip of Sri Lanka, to Myanmarese and Bangladeshi ports in the Bay of Bengal.

India has over the years tried to develop military bases overseas without great success. Its first has been in Farkhor and Ayni. Ayni is about 10km south of Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan on its north.

Pakistan and China find an Indian military presence in Farkhor, also in Tajikistan, threatening.

An Indian military presence in Gan — formerly the RAF Gan, so named after the British navy built it for its fleet air arm and then handed it over to the Royal Air Force — means an extension of reach for its navy. The Indian Navy sees its area of responsibility in the ocean covering the space between the Persian Gulf and the Malacca Straits.

Antony will also be accompanied by defence secretary Pradeep Kumar, director-general of the coast guard, Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, and deputy chief of navy staff, Vice Admiral D.K. Joshi.

Antony is scheduled to meet Maldives’ President Mohammed Nasheed shortly after landing. In the back-to-back meetings tomorrow, the delegation will talk to officials and ministers in Male and to the Maldives National Defence Force.

A defence ministry release today said Antony “will also attend the closing session of the India-Maldives Friendship function besides paying a visit to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, the most visible symbol of Indo-Maldives cooperation and friendship.”

India was the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965. In 1988 India’s military launched Operation Cactus to foil a coup attempt in Male. In April 2006, India gifted a fast-attack craft, the INS Tillanchang, to the Maldives.

The Sino-Pakistan nexus
India needs to step up defence capability
by G. Parthasarathy

Despite the often unwarranted criticism that India’s foreign policy lacks dynamism, successive governments have shown imagination and dexterity in responding to the challenges that the country faced after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nowhere has this been more evident than in India’s “Look East” policy initiated by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. India realised that in a globalised economic order, its interests were best served by progressive economic integration with the fast growing economies of East and Southeast Asia.

What followed was a policy which enabled growing interaction with Southeast Asian countries linked together in ASEAN. This was reinforced by the establishment of the BIMSTEC, linking SAARC members Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan with ASEAN members Thailand and Myanmar. The long-term vision has been to join a process of Asian economic integration without being hampered by Pakistan’s efforts to play a spoiler by linking economic integration within SAARC to its ambitions related to Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has tenaciously and courageously not allowed domestic compulsions and lobbying by states like Kerala which seek to protect their uncompetitive agricultural practices from competition, to hinder efforts to integrate India’s economy with those of East and Southeast Asian countries. Mr Vajpayee also overruled similar opposition when a Free Trade Agreement with Sri Lanka was being negotiated. On August 13 India inked a landmark Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN, which is now our fourth largest trading partner. The agreement comes into force on January 1, 2010, and will, in six years, minimise or end all trade barriers, boosting two-way trade.

Contrary to the unwarranted fears expressed, the agreement protects the legitimate interests of the producers of plantation crops like coffee and pepper. India’s growing economic integration with ASEAN and its “Look East” policy, leading to expanding strategic ties with countries like Singapore, Japan and Vietnam, have been opposed by China, which looks at East and Southeast Asia as its backyard. China has sought to “contain” India by encouraging anti-Indian sentiments in India’s South Asian neighbourhood.

Even as the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement was readied for signature, a “scholar” from Beijing’s International Institute of Strategic Studies made an astonishing assertion on August 8. His assertion was that India today was a “Hindu Religious State”, that Hinduism was a “decadent religion” and that, apart from annexing Arunachal Pradesh and working with countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan to separate Assam and Bengal from the Indian Union, China should encourage Tamil separatism and break up India into 20-30 nation-states. Interestingly, this is also the view of the rabid sections of the Pakistan military establishment which is echoed repeatedly by the likes of the Amir of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (now called the Jamat-ud-Dawa), Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, and by the chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, Maulana Masood Azhar.

Is it a mere coincidence that China has consistently sought to block moves for enhanced sanctions against the Jaish and Lashkar in the UN Security Council despite a broad international consensus favouring such sanctions? Did Premier Chou en-Lai not voice similar sentiments after China lost face following the 1971 Bangladesh conflict?

Similar Chinese hostility to India was evident after the 26/11 Mumbai carnage. “Scholars” of the state-funded China Institute of Strategic Studies (CISS) proclaimed that the Mumbai attack reflected “the failure of Indian intelligence” and claimed that India was blaming Pakistan to “enhance its control over the disputed Kashmir”. Even before Pakistan claimed that India was manifesting aggressive intentions, a CISS “scholar” stated that “China can support Pakistan in the event of a war,” adding that Pakistan could benefit from its military cooperation with China while fighting India.

This CISS “scholar” asserted that in such circumstances China may have the option of resorting to a “strategic military action in Southern Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh) to thoroughly liberate the people there”. A “scholar” of yet another state-run Institution, the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), in turn, claimed that the terrorists who carried out the attack in Mumbai came from within India. Chinese comments on the Mumbai carnage then echoed the views of the most rabid sections of the Urdu Press in Pakistan.

The 26/11 terrorist outrage was followed by a visit to China by Pakistan’s senior-most military official, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen Tariq Majid, who was received like a high state dignitary by Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping, Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie and Foreign Minister Yiang Jiechi. China’s Vice-President assured Pakistan of Chinese support in the UN by agreeing that their countries would support each other in international forums. In substantive terms, General Majid’s visit resulted in the signing of a new agreement on military cooperation between Pakistan and China. His visits to military establishments in China suggested that Beijing would expedite the delivery of four F-22 frigates to the Pakistan Navy. The delivery of 250 JF-17 fighters also figured, in the Sino-Pakistan discussions.

More recently, the outrageous comments of the CISS “scholar” was followed by no less that the “Prime Minister” of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, Sardar Yaqoob Khan, asserting in Lahore on August 12 that India could not become an “Asian Tiger” until it withdrew its Army from “Indian-held Kashmir”. He added that India would disintegrate into six nation-states if it failed to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir.

The recent articles by Chinese “scholars” could not have been published without authorisation at the highest levels in a country that rigidly censors Internet access of its citizens. While it would be counterproductive to get alarmed by such writings, these should not, at the same time, be ignored as China’s many apologists in India suggest. India needs to understand that ruled by an elite that has discarded Marxist ideology and lacks legitimacy, or a popular mandate, China is set to become more nationalistic and even jingoistic.

It is a neighbour with whom we need to work regionally and internationally on issues of common concern like global warming and global trade negotiations. At the same time, there is need to accelerate economic progress and expedite our defence modernisation — both conventional and nuclear. The remark of the outgoing Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta that the gap between China and India was “too wide to bridge,” was torn out of context, ignoring the fact that he had also stressed the need to create a “reliable and stand-off deterrent” while building strategic ties with the US, the European Union and Russia.

Looking for combat aircraft
Six in the race to bag the contract
by Man Mohan, Our Roving Editor

Should India go in for a fighter aircraft that is already with its main regional adversary – Pakistan? Well, this multi-billion dollar question is being hotly debated in the Indian Air Force fighter pilots’ community.

India has entered the second and most critical phase to purchase 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) at an estimated cost of $10 billion. The flight trials started in Bangalore from August 17. More trials will follow at Jaisalmer and Leh.

The short-listed six aircraft are: US Boeing’s F/A-18IN, American Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN, French D'assault's Rafale, Swedish Saab's Gripen, European consortium's Eurofighter Typhoon and Russian MiG-35.

The IAF intends to purchase the combat jets at an estimated cost of $10 billion to replace its ageing Russian-made MiG-21 fleet in phases and help in curbing the recent trend of depleting squadron strength. India had floated the tenders for this deal in August 2007. The exhaustive technical evaluation of the six global manufacturers’ bids was completed early this year.

The arrival of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter plane for trails has made many in the IAF apprehensive. Its selection, they fear, may become a ‘combat disadvantage’ for India. India’s main regional adversary, Pakistan, has been operating F-16 aircraft since the mid-eighties and is currently flying the F-16 Block 50.

Top IAF officers believe that operating similar fighter aircraft means the Pakistan Air Force will be significantly aware of many of the F-16IN capabilities, employment philosophy and weaknesses.

This data in turn could be shared with the Chinese Air Force, considering the close political and military ties between the two countries. The aircraft is also well known to many Third World countries through sales to Egypt and Central Europe, among others.

One of them said, “Choosing the F-16 would inject an element of uncertainty and confusion for IAF pilots attempting to distinguish the friend from the foe if pitted against the Pakistan Air Force.”

There was no response from Lockheed Martin despite repeatedly asked by this correspondent: Why is F-16 aircraft suited for India despite Pakistan also having it?

Boeing's warplane F/A-18 was chosen to fly first for flight tests in Bangalore, beginning this week, to be followed by Lockheed Martin’s F-16 in August-end. The other contenders Rafale, Gripen, Typhoon and MiG-35 will come for flight tests later.

From Bangalore, the scene will shift to Jaisalmer for summer trials and to Leh for high-altitude trials. The whole process is likely to end by April next year. The first phase involved the training of Indian pilots on the competing aircraft in the country of origin. The second phase is the flight trials on Indian soil and airspace. The third phase will be the test of specialist weapons that the manufacturers provide on the aircraft in the country of their choice.

The IAF's number of squadrons had gone down to an alarming 31.5 squadrons in 2006. After the induction of British advanced jet trainers ‘Hawk’ in 2008, the fleet strength has increased to about 33.5 squadrons, compared to the sanctioned squadron strength of 39.5 squadrons. The MMRCA’s induction is likely to start by 2015. A maximum of 42.5 squadrons’ strength is expected in the IAF by 2022.

Regional challenges from China and Pakistan and the need to ensure the security of global trading routes at sea call for a careful consideration of the long-term effects of the MMRCA selection on India’s defence.

The short-listed aircraft offer a range of size, technology, capability and future growth. Key characteristics of the competitors should be considered that determine the defence posture contribution of the selected MMRCA aircraft.

Single engine vs. twin engine: The Lockheed Martin F-16IN and Swedish Gripen NG belong to the single-engine category and the Boeing F/A-18 IN, Russian MiG-35, French Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon belong to the twin-engine category.

Military aviation experts point out that the twin-engine aircraft historically have provided greater safety, launch/mission reliability and survivability in both peace and operations. This is substantiated by a study conducted by the US Air Force, which examined F-16 and F-15 accidents over a six-year period.

The twin-engine fighter aircraft is useful for India’s vast distances, climatic and elevation challenges, and for far-flung maritime approaches to secure. In combat or peace time, the twin-engine aircraft are more likely to bring the pilot home from varying conditions in which the IAF must operate.

Latest technology: This key factor will decide India’s future defence posture. Regional adversaries facing capabilities they do not possess may be deterred from aggressive action. Boeing has claimed that only F/A-18IN offers fully integrated Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar built specifically for the aircraft and operated by the offering country.

The rivals of F-6IN have claimed that its AESA Radar is not operated by the US. Lockheed Martin, however, claims that F-16IN is using Northrop Grumman APG-80 AESA revolutionary all-weather and precision-targeting sensor radar, which is the only AESA operational in the international market today.

Stealth capability is another example of the most up-to-date technology providing a major capability edge. With the exception of the F/A-18IN, none of the short-listed aircraft offer designed in stealth technology. As a result, adversaries may eventually be able to add stealth capability to their aircraft.

Upgradation: The capability to add new systems in the future is another factor determining the defense impact of a candidate MMRCA aircraft. The capacity to add new avionics systems requires available weight margin, electrical power and cooling to accommodate additional systems. Compared to older and smaller designs, newer aircraft promise more opportunity for future growth. The short-listed aircraft also offer the opportunity to benefit from the upgrade plans and investments of the offering nation.

Boeing claims that the rival F-16 is now being retired from the US Air Force inventory. The MiG-35 and Gripen NG are said to be not in operational use by any nation. The F/A-18IN and Rafale aircraft are scheduled for continued use by the offering nations for many decades. In the long term, upgradation will be a key factor in the continued defence contribution of the MMRCA aircraft in the IAF.

The real ‘dog fight’ to win India’s most significant defence deal seems to be between the two American competitors, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

CENTCOM chief Petraeus in Pak, to discuss weapons delivery


August 19th, 2009

ISLAMABAD - U.S. Central Command chief General David Petraeus has arrived here to hold discussions with Pakistan’s military leaders on expediting delivery of US equipment to Pakistan so it can expand its offensive against Taliban militants.

The Dawn quoted US officials as saying that the Pakistan Army is short of equipment, and needs them for a large-scale ground operation.

‘It is part of a substantial effort to strengthen US-Pakistani military cooperation,’ US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, told a news agency while referring to General Petraeus’s visit.

Holbrooke said on Tuesday that Washington was trying to expedite delivery of equipment requested by the Pakistani army, including helicopters and parts.

He said Pakistani army chiefs would also provide General Petraeus with their assessment of the battle in the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad, after a three-month offensive in which Pakistani forces have pushed back militants.

The United States also wants Pakistan to move against other militant factions, based in various areas including North Waziristan, which focus on battling western forces in Afghanistan.

But Lieutenant-General Nadeem Ahmed, the Margala Corps Commander, said on Tuesday Pakistan would need months to prepare for a ground offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan. (ANI)

Army revises promotion policy for Maj Gen, Lt Gen

Press Trust Of India

BRAVE ONES: The General-rank officers will now either execute administrative duties only or lead troops in operational formations.

New Delhi: The General-rank officers of the Army will now either execute administrative duties only or lead troops in operational formations, according to a new promotion policy implemented by the force.

The new policy for Major Generals and Lieutenant Generals categorised them into either staff or command streams based on their merit, Army sources said on Wednesday.

Under the policy, which had come into effect from January 1 this year, officers under the staff stream will perform only administrative tasks while the command stream officers will get to lead troops in field formations.

The change in the promotion policy came in the backdrop of Ajai Vikram Singh Committee (AVSC) report which was implemented in December last year thereby creating 75 additional Major General and 20 Lieutenant General posts.

Officers in the respective streams would, however, get no opportunity to change streams while moving up the career ladder. Also, the promoted officer would be allotted a stream on a pro-rata basis keeping in view the availability of staff and command posts at any given point of time.

This, in effect, would mean that once a Major General or a Lieutenant General was placed in staff stream, he would not get opportunity to command an operational formation.

"The new policy has been in discussion at the Army Commanders' Conferences for the last two years and came into effect from January one this year," sources said.

Asked if there was any opposition from senior ranks as the policy could deny opportunity for deserving officers, the Army headquarters vehemently denied any such dissent, be it oral or written, from any quarter.

They said as per the new policy, first mooted by General K Sundarji when he was army chief in late 1980s, a Major General, once selected into staff stream, would take up posts such as Chiefs of Staff of a Corps or a Command Headquarters, or head an Area Headquarters, which are administrative posts.

On the other hand, a Major General from the Command stream would head operational formations such as a Division and once promoted as Lieutenant Generals, would command a Corps and get the opportunity to become Army Commanders and Vice Chief.

The Army currently has about 40 operational Divisions and six Commands -- Udhampur-based Northern, Pune-based Southern, Kolkata-based Eastern, Chandimandir-based Western,

Jaipur-based South-Western and Shimla-based Training Commands.

The policy was first implemented for 15 Major Generals, who were promoted to Lieutenant General rank in January this year.

Army headquarters then sent the selected officers in two separate lists -- 10 for command and five for staff stream -- to the Defence Ministry for final clearance, the sources said.

The system was based on a merit-ranking system taking into account the annual confidential report (ACR), which include parameters such as courses attended, commands held, and awards received.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal