Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


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)

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal