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Thursday, 27 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 27 Aug 09

Indian Express

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Indian Army Chief tastes British austerity

Chitranjan Sawant

Wed, Aug 26, 2009 13:41:28 IST

GENERAL DEEPAK KAPOOR, top most commanding general of the Indian Army went round the defence establishments of the United Kingdom to update his knowledge about what was cooking in India’s former colonial master’s kitchen. The British Army Chief also drops in off and on, to take a look at the Indian army that his ancestors had raised, trained and led into battle. After all old colleagues on back slapping terms must visit each other’s country to compare notes. Absolutely fine and traditional.

When the British officers of high and middle ranks visit their old units and regiments they are looked after well. There is wining and dining galore. The officers mess, hosting the dinner or lunch takes out its finest silver collected or captured in post victory loot euphemistically called spoils of war. With great pride, young officers narrate the regimental history in battles won or lost from Ghazni to Ghaza and from Faizabad to Flanders and associate the silverware to the places and events of historical importance. The menu of the meal to be served for the British officers is scrutinised not only by the president of the mess committee who also doubles up as the second-in-command of the outfit but also by the wife of the commanding officer who had done a course in cookery in her school days. The mess havaldar or the steward is briefed and briefed again that chicken legs must be soft but meat and bone must remain intact. When the commanding officer declares that everything is ship shape, the British officers are ushered in and treated like Maharajahs. The Indian hospitality puts its best foot forward.

Let us move to the Kensington Palace in London, UK. General Deepak Kapoor, Chief of the Indian Army Staff is on an official visit and is invited by his counterpart General Sir Richard Dannatt to an official get together. Indeed, Kensington Palace is an important place and some of the Royal family members including Prince Charles and his family lived there. Foreign dignitaries are also entertained there in a place earmarked for the purpose. As a matter of protocol, the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Shiv Mukherjee was one of the dignitaries invited. Was there an army band in attendance to play some martial music? Not sure if it was there or was cut out as the first step in British austerity.

It would be a good idea to take a look at the menu for the visiting dignitary, the Indian Army Chief. What would you like to drink, the host enquired of guests. Without waiting for a reply he signalled wine to be served. My goodness! What a cheap wine it was. Tasting is believing. In India, nothing short of a single malt Scotch whisky would be served on an important occasion like this. Mind you the incident being narrated took place before boycott of Scotch whisky following premature release of the Lockerbie bomber and his royal reception in Libya. Anyway, good guests do not crib and the Indian Army Chief is well known for his good manners. The main meal followed. Entry and starter need not be mentioned in detail as the column space is limited. It is understood from reliable sources that General Kapoor was served a meal consisting of ”pastry, cheese and salmon.” The insiders confide that it was bought off the shelf from a mass retail chain. No further comments, please.

A word on cost of the meal would be in order. It cost Great Britain Pound (GBP) 5.15 per plate. You see the British Army does everything with aplomb, be it making love or fighting a war. Indeed in these days of recession, austerity in hospitality must be observed meticulously. Never mind if the guest goes home hungry and diplomacy goes down in dumps. After all the British themselves recount the saying “penny wise Pound foolish,” whatever that may mean.

http://www.merinews.com/article/indian-army-chief-tastes-british-austerity/15782542.shtml

'The Taliban are rattled by Baitullah's death'

Nicholas Schmidle lived and reported from Pakistan for two years till he was deported from the country in 2008. He traveled extensively within the country -- from the Taliban camps in the North West Frontier Province to witnessing the siege of the Red Mosque in the heart of Islamabad -- trying to understand the country's conflicts and complexities.

His book To Live Or To Perish Forever is a fascinating account of his stay between 2006 and 2008, one of Pakistan's most turbulent years.

In a telephone interview from his home in Washington DC, Schmidle, who speaks Urdu and Persian, spoke to rediff.com's Archana Masih about the future of the Taliban after Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud's reported death and the road ahead for Pakistan.

How is Baitullah Mehsud's death going to impact the anti-Taliban operation?

It is a very symbolic victory for both the US and Pakistanis and symbolic defeat for the Taliban. Hakimullah Mehsud (who claimed to have succeeded Baitullah Mehsud as head of the Pakistani Taliban) is thought to be equally ruthless in the tribe, but he doesn't have the aura, public stature and relationship with Al Qaeda that Baitullah does.

If Baitullah is truly dead, it is a major blow and shock to the Taliban. How it affects reality on the ground, I truly don't know -- Baitullah was certainly contributing a number of fighters and suicide bombers to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

It represents a pretty major achievement between the US and Pakistan in terms of sharing intelligence.

This sort of thing could not have happened without Pakistan's cooperation in sharing intelligence for the ground strikes. It also couldn't have happened without the US drones.

You have met the Mehsud tribesmen, how do you think followers react to the deaths of jihadi leaders?

I can only guess from the reactions of past leaders, after the death of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the cleric of the Red Mosque -- he became larger in death than he was in life. While walking in Pakistan, you saw people of all ages wearing the maroon knitted caps that Ghazi used to wear and they were referred to as 'Ghazi caps.'

There were a lot of conflicting reports about Baitullah Mehsud's successor, with reports of a bloodied succession battle which was refuted by the Pakistani Taliban. Then there were two, three names that were claimed as Baitullah's successors?

Someone like Hakimullah or Wali-ur-Rehman were the strong contenders. It looks more like that the Pakistani Taliban are a Mehsud tribal insurgency and not a broad based insurgency representing all sorts of groups.

In my mind it is a bad decision for them to have someone lead from the Mehsud tribe. It would make more sense for the Taliban to have someone like Maulana Fazullah or Maulvi Fakir who are outside of the Mehsud area.

Where do you think the battle with the Taliban has reached as far as containing them is concerned? Are they on the backfoot after Baitullah's death?

I think the Pakistani Taliban are certainly rattled by Baitullah's death and the increasing persistence of the drone strikes.

The increasing precision shows that the intelligence leading to the drone strikes is getting considerably better. That there are more people willing to share information about Baitullah and his lieutenants's locations.

It suggests that people are more dissatisfied with what the Taliban are bringing to South Waziristan. I think the Pakistani Taliban are their own worst enemy. They are a public relations disaster for themselves.

The average Pakistani has increasingly come to realise that the Pakistani Taliban are not all that they said they were. They are more than a couple of guys that want to impose sharia, they in fact want to overhaul society.

The average Pakistani love for the idea of the Taliban has given away to their understanding of what the Taliban could actually bring and they don't want that.

http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2009/aug/25/slide-show-1-pakistani-taliban-are-a-public-relations-disaster.htm

Spyders Overrun India

August 26, 2009: The Indian Army has been allowed to buy Israeli air defense systems to protect its most important bases from air attack. Last year, the Indian Air Force finally got the Israeli Spyder anti-aircraft system, after several years of battling the Indian procurement bureaucrats. The Indian Air Force had had originally wanted to buy 24 Israeli Spyder anti-aircraft missile systems, but ended up settling for 18. The army is still negotiating with the bureaucrats and politicians on the size of the order.

Spyder is a mobile, short range system using, as many such systems do these days, air-to-air missiles. Spyder launchers (truck mounted, with four box like launch cells each) can carry either the Python 5 heat seeking missile (ten feet long, 231 pounds, with a range of 15 kilometers) or the Derby radar guided missile (11.2 feet long, 267 pounds, with a range of 65 kilometers). The Derby is actually a larger Python, with more fuel and a different guidance system.

Each Spyder system has four missile launcher trucks, a radar truck and a missile re-supply truck. Each system costs about $11 million. Spyder radar system has a maximum range of 100 kilometers. The missiles can hit targets as high as 28,000 feet and as low as 65 feet. Deliveries will begin in 2011.

Israel has become the second largest supplier (after Russia) of military equipment to India. Previous purchases include UAVs and sensors for the Kashmir border. India has been satisfied with the Israeli equipment. But as the purchases climbed past the billion dollar mark, allegations of bribery began to appear. There was also a lot of opposition from leftist politicians, to buying from Israel. But the military knows Israeli weapons and equipment provide the best value for the money, and have kept pushing for these purchases.

http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htada/articles/20090826.aspx

Blimp radar makes first flight

By Lewis Page • Get more from this author

Vid A new US military radar system, suspended beneath a tethered "aerostat" balloon so as to see beyond the horizon, made its first flight yesterday. The JLENS blimp-scanner is intended to finger such things as enemy cruise missiles or unmanned aircraft.

The US military - particularly the Army, as opposed to the Air Force - has been worried for some time about its ability to detect and strike at low-flying threats. Where a cruise missile, "loitering munition" or unmanned aircraft is flying low, a ground-based radar will only be able to detect it if it passes within a few miles above the radar's horizon. Thus conventional air-defence missile batteries need to be put close together to create a defensive line against such threats.

The conventional solution would be to put a radar into a high-flying AWACS aircraft, but AWACS planes are horrifically expensive and are required in numbers if constant patrols are to be kept up.

JLENS is intended to be a lower-cost solution, putting its sensors in tethered aerostats moored to mobile ground stations. Working with JLENS, a ground missile which has the power to hit high-flying, faraway targets can now use that power to reach over the horizon to a low-flying target initially invisible to its own sensors.

"JLENS makes our current weapons systems more effective," according to project chief Lieutenant Colonel Steve Wilhelm. "Missiles that were once limited by their organic radars can now meet their full kinematic potential because of the extended ranges provided by JLENS radars. This first flight brings us one step closer to providing that capability."

A fully operational JLENS system will deploy two aerostats, one with a search radar sweeping wide areas and the other with a multifunction fire-control and tracking radar cued by the search blimp. The aerostats are manufactured by TCOM, and US weapons globocorp Raytheon does the sensors and networks.

The balloons are intended to have a ceiling of almost 15,000 feet and be able to stay up and operational for as long as 30 days. Raytheon says the kit should be in service with the US Army from 2012.

Systems of this sort are seen as a possible solution to terrorist or insurgent threats such as suicide-piloted or automated light aircraft, or small/improvised drones converted into poor-man's cruise missiles. The Indian armed forces decided to deploy coastal aerostat early-warning radars in 2007, worried about possible attacks from the Tamil Tigers' improvised jungle air militia. ®

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/08/26/jlens_first_flight/

Indian Army vigilant along the Chinese border

By admin on August 26th, 2009 21 views

Udhampur, Aug 26 (ANI): A top Indian Army commander on Wednesday said that the Chinese infrastructure across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) does not pose a threat.

“The Chinese infrastructure build-up along the border does not pose any threat to us,” said Lt General PC Bhardwaj, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the strategic Northern Command at its headquarters here.

Asking about China’s activities across the 646 LAC in Kashmir, Bhardwaj said that these were not causing too much concern as Indian troops are on a high state of vigil all over. (ANI)

http://newstimes.in/world-news/indian-army-vigilant-along-the-chinese-border/

Former Indian envoy praises British general’s cut-price meal

Richard DannattIndia’s outgoing envoy to Britain Tuesday defended Richard Dannatt as a “gracious host” after the British Chief of the General Staff was revealed as having served his Indian and other guests with a fiver-a-head cut-price meal a year ago.

Sir Richard Dannatt, who is soon to retire, hosted then High Commissioner Shiv Mukherjee, visiting Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor and 21 others for a reception in August last year at his plush Kensington Palace residence.

But rather than delicacies from the nearby upmarket Harrods superstore, they were given pastries, cheese and salmon bought from the supermarket Tesco.

The entire meal cost a mere 123.58 pounds – or 5.15 pounds per person, the British media reported, lauding the British army chief for how frugal he is.

Ruling Labour MPs had apparently planned to discredit Dannatt after he criticised the government for failing to provide proper kit for troops in British Afghanistan, by portraying him as a champagne-guzzling member of the military elite.

But Mukherjee sprang to the Dannatt’s defence Tuesday, saying the party last August was “elegant and very, very enjoyable”.

“It was a wonderful party – exactly as expected from the chief of a professional army,” he told IANS.

“Mrs Dannatt and the chief of army staff made us personally welcome at and the food was wonderful. We didn’t feel it was cut-price at all.”

British newspapers said the Labour MPs’ bid to target Dannatt had “spectacularly backfired”.

“It was part of a suspected plot to blacken his name ahead of his retirement this week, when he is expected to step up his criticism of the way the armed forces have been treated by Labour,” reported the Daily Mail.

Dannatt has spent as little as five pounds per head on meals for political and military top brass and paid just 1.49 pound each for bottles of wine bought from a duty free cash and carry in Calais, France. He also bought sausages for these meals at Lidl, a cut-price supermarket chain.

One military source told the paper: “Sir Richard hasn’t put a foot wrong – and this proves it. Whatever these Labour politicians were planning to do, they’ve failed spectacularly, scoring a massive own goal, because their expenses claims are a thousand times worse.”

http://www.latestnewsonline.net/world/former-indian-envoy-praises-british-generals-cut-price-meal/38336.html

Fake Purchase Scam
CBI convicts 6 Army personnel
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 26

The CBI special court today convicted six Army personnel, including a Colonel, in a fake purchase scam dating back to 1992.

Holding the accused guilty, including an Army supplier, the CBI special court of Darshan Singh held all six guilty.

Pronouncing the orders, the court sentenced them to one-and-a-half year of imprisonment. The court has also directed Capt Sudhir Deopujari to pay a fine of Rs 25,000, Naresh Chadha to pay Rs 20,000, Capt Suresh Hingorani and Havaldar SG Kulkarni to pay Rs 12,500 each and Anil Dalal, Colonel KK Pandey and Major DK Roy to pay Rs 6,250 each.

The officers used to procure fake purchase bills from two firms owned by an Ambala resident, though the material was never delivered.

The CBI had registered four different cases against the accused in 1992. The accused included one Colonel, a Major, two Captains, an Army Havaldar, all posted in HQ 627 (I) AD, besides an auditor in the office of Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA) and an Army supplier.

Special prosecutor Pawan Dogra held that payments were made on bogus bills raised without a receipt of any material under the provisions of the Unit Local Purchase Orders (ULPO) without receiving any item. In some cases, the officers signed the ULPO, though they were not authorised to sign these documents.

According to investigations, the fake bills were raised for amounts Rs 5.65 lakh in one case, Rs 1.63 lakh, Rs 2.83 lakh and Rs 2.01 lakh in other cases in 1990.

The CBI had filed the charge-sheet in the case on February 24, 1993 and had charged all seven accused for cheating and forgery under the provisions of Sections 420, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and six Army officials were also charged for the offences under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090827/cth2.htm#11

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