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Wednesday, 2 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 02 Sep 09

The Pioneer

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Harpoon Issue
US: Pak has agreed for inspections

Washington, September 1
Responding to “serious” American concerns about illegal modifications made by Pakistan to the US-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles that could target India, Islamabad has agreed for “mutual inspections” of the weapon system.

This was disclosed today by US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P J Crowley, who said that the Obama Administration has taken up the matter with Pakistan.

His comments came two days after the New York Times reported that Pakistan had illegally modified the Harpoon anti-ship missile to expand its capacity to strike land targets for potential use against India.

“This is something that we take very seriously. We have raised the issue with the Pakistani Government. The (Pakistan) government has responded with an agreement in principle for mutually agreed inspections,” Crowley told PTI when asked about the Times report.

“In this particular case, we have some concerns. We shared them with the Government of Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan has been responsive,” he said, adding “we would wait and see if those inspections can address the concerns that we have raised.”

The newspaper, quoting unnamed Administration officials, had said the US also accused Pakistan of modifying American- made P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft for land-attack missions in a violation of the American laws, including the Arms Control Export Act.

“I am not going to talk about specific issues, brought up in the story. We watch this closely. These are important agreements. This is not about any one country. With any country with which we exchange our defence articles, we have this kind of agreement,” Crowley said.

“When we have concerns about how those systems should be used, we raise these concerns with the appropriate governments,” he noted.

The violations by Pakistan were first noted by the American intelligence agencies on April 23, The New York Times said, when Pakistan had an unannounced suspicious missile test, that appeared to give the country a new offensive weapon. Pakistan has denied those charges.

The modified version of the missile would be a significant new entry into Pakistan’s arsenal against India as these would enable its small navy to strike targets on land in India, this complementing the sizable land-based missile arsenal that Pakistan has developed, it had said.

The Congress is in the final stages of taking a decision on providing $ 7.5 billion in civilian aid to Pakistan in the next five years. The latest expose has the potential to “derail” this, the daily said.

Crowley said the Administration is keeping the Congress fully informed. Asked if this would have any impact on the future of US aid to Pakistan, he said: “I would like to take one step at a time. We have raised some concerns. It has been done at the highest levels over lengthy period of time. As we gain more facts, (we) will understand its potential implications.” — PTI

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090902/main7.htm

Pakistan expanding nuclear stockpile to hit India

Akbar Majid

Tue, Sep 01, 2009 19:06:14 IST

IN WHAT could be termed as a startling revelation, a report by a group of top American nuclear scientist says that Pakistan is expanding the nuclear weapons programme and increasing the number of nuclear warheads, primarily to target India.

The US nuclear scientists group said that it has found evidence that Pakistan is continuing to enhance the nuclear stockpile. As per the group, the country continues to expand its fissile material stocks, is building Plutonium reactors and adding new chemical weapons facilities.

The report has also identified that nuclear capable Shaheen II missile is also ready for deployment, while the scientists are developing ground and air launch capabilities as well. However, the most startling aspect of the report is that the missiles with nuclear warheads are kept in assembled form, always ready to attack India at any instant.

It also mentions that the number of nuclear warheads has increased from 60 counted earlier, to somewhere between 70 to 90. The report also claims that the Pakistan is also moving towards Plutonium based warheads, they being lighter can bring more Indian cities into the ambit of its missiles.

http://www.merinews.com/article/pakistan-expanding-nuclear-stockpile-to-hit-india/15783239.shtml

China says it did not violate Indian airspace

Press Trust of India, Tuesday September 1, 2009, Beijing

China on Tuesday denied that its military helicopter had violated Indian airspace in Jammu and Kashmir, saying its border patrols abide by rules and regulations.

"China does not encroach on other countries' airspace," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters here.

"Chinese border patrols abide by relevant rules and regulations, and do not cross borders or enter the airspace or territory of other countries," Jiang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

The statement comes a day after Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor said a Chinese helicopter had violated Indian airspace two months back and that New Delhi has taken up the matter with Beijing.

The spokeswoman also termed as "groundless" Indian media reports that there had been military friction between China and India along their mutual borderline.

"China and India have reached a consensus, agreeing that the two sides would work together to maintain peace and stability in border areas before border issues are negotiated," Jiang said.

http://www.ndtv.com/news/world/china_says_it_did_not_violate_indian_airspace.php

The Brahmos advantage: India's new cruise missile

Vishnu Som, Tuesday September 1, 2009, New Delhi

It's a new cruise missile called the Brahmos. And it's what reportedly has Pakistan's defence planners scurrying to develop a land attack cruise missile, possibly a modified Harpoon missile acquired from the US in the 80s and 90s.

Brahmos combines the names of two rivers: the Brahmaputra and the Mosocow. It symbolises the close partnership that exists between India and Russia.

Here's why the Brahmos is considered the world's finest. It can fly at speeds of up to Mach 3, three times the speed of sound. It can destroy ships and targets on land. It can be launched from the air, submarines and onboard ships.

The Brahmos will be deployed on the Sukhoi 30 MKI, the mainstay of the Indian Air Force. The Sukhoi's ability to fly thousands of kilometres after being re-fuelled in-air means that the Brahmos can be used to strike targets across large parts of South Asia.

"It is the fastest and most precise cruise-missile in the world," affirms Pravin Pathak, Additional GM BrahMos Aerospace.

Today, with Russian assistance, and missiles like the Brahmos, the Indian Navy's frontline ships are fitted with the fastest and possibly most lethal anti-ship weapons ever developed.

http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/the_brahmos_advantage_indias_new_cruise_missile.php

PC: Soon we’ll match China in infrastructure
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 1
Even as China is conducting one of its biggest ever-military exercise and ramping up infrastructure on its side of the border with India, the Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram, allayed fears that India was lagging behind and asserted “We will soon match China with infrastructure on our side of the border”.

The Home Minister was talking to reporters as part of his monthly routine, when he replied to specific query on China saying: “At present we cannot claim that our infrastructure was at par with the one the Chinese have on their side but we are improving and will soon match up with China”. Our infrastructure is better than before, the Home Minister added. He also listed out how a few more roads had been cleared in the border areas. Indian Armed forces have been demanding greater connectivity and military strategists believe that speed in deploying troops will be the key to any skirmish with China in near future.

Indian has also shared its concern with Nepal over the routing of fake currency notes through that country, Chidambaram said.

The Home Minister also accused Pakistan of not being serious in punishing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror strike and said even the terror infrastructure which facilitated such attacks was intact. "Pakistan is not serious about prosecuting and punishing those responsible for perpetrating the Mumbai attack.

They are still living on Pakistani soil, he said when asked to comment about the kind of response by Pakistan to the dossiers given by India. Chidambaram said the terror infrastructure, which helped attacks like the one in Mumbai, was intact across the border. "That is my complaint against Pakistan and that is my disappointment with Pakistan," he said. He also chided Pakistan saying, "I hope that they will not be able to invent more questions".

India had handed the latest dossier to Pakistan on August 22 for action against Lashker-e-Taiba(LeT) founder chief Hafiz Saeed, a prime accused in the 26/11 attacks, saying there was "cogent and convincing evidence" to prosecute him.

Separately, The Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, met the Home Minister today. Emerging from the meeting he told reporters that the militant groups had been set a deadline for surrender till September 15 lest the Indian Armed forces would go out on a bigger offensive.

Modalities of BrahMos-II project being finalised: Pillai

September 02, 2009 02:22 IST

Tags: Managing Director A Sivathanu Pillai, BrahMos Aerospace, Indian Air Force, SUKOI-30 MKI, Larsen Tubro

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The modalities for developing hypersonic missile BrahMos-II to be carried out by the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace, are on the verge of being finalised, a top official of the company said in Tiruchurapalli.

A final shape of the project, aimed at developing the aerial version of BrahMos missile that could traverse at speeds between Mach 5 to Mach 7, would emerge shortly, BrahMos Aerospace CEO and Managing Director A Sivathanu Pillai told mediapersons in Tiruchurapalli on Tuesday.

The design team had already been lined up and discussions would be held shortly between the joint venture partners on investments, sharing of technical responsibilities, administration and sharing of manufacturing facility infrastructure, he said.

Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, which has a capability of carrying 300 kg conventional warheads at a speed of around 2.8 Mach, has already been inducted by the Army and the Navy.

On the new version of BrahMos, Pillai said the preliminary exercise for its induction into the Indian Air Force is already on. Work related to the design and development of this version had been fruitful and the advanced missile, which weighs 0.5 tonne less than that of the 3-tonne land version BrahMos, was ready and the company awaited the modified SUKOI-30 MKI aircraft that would carry the weapon.

Pillai said he was hopeful that the target for induction of the air version set for 2012 would be achieved. After being fitted on an aircraft, BrahMos will be the only cruise missile with the capability of being launched from land, sea and air, he said.

To a query on export potential of BrahMos missile, Pillai said a of number countries evinced keen interest in it, but the priority was to meet the high domestic requirement.

For meeting the demand, the company was in the process of upgrading the production infrastructure at multiple locations besides enhancing component suppliers by including new large and medium sized industries.

Companies like the Larsen Tubro, Godrej [ Get Quote ], BEML, BHEL and HAL were in the list. On BrahMos Aeropsace's Thiruvananthapuram facility, Pillai said seven acres of land in possession of Indian Air force adjacent to the main campus was expected to be handed over to BrahMos Aerospace shortly.

The facility would be converted into a fully capable Missile Integration Complex to produce components meant for missile programme as well aerospace industries requirements.

The facility would produce core components for ISRO's PSLV and GSLV rockets, missile chambers and control configurations and fabrication of missiles and development of ground system components.

It would also fabricate universal launchers for the aircraft version missiles and is also in the process of obtaining Aerospace Standards Certification AS-9100, he added.

http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/sep/02/modalities-of-brahmos-ii-project-being-finalised.htm

CRPF in the Valley
Unarmed jawans can become sitting ducks

THE two incidents of militant attack on CRPF personnel in Srinagar on Monday
alone, resulting in the death of two jawans and injuries to many, have exposed
the unrealistic stand of those in the Kashmir valley who had been campaigning
against the paramilitary force for some time. They wanted it to be withdrawn,
saying that CRPF deployment was no longer needed when terrorist violence had
come down considerably.

These leaders, mostly belonging to the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP, had been arguing that if CRPF withdrawal was not possible, the jawans on law and order duty should be disarmed, keeping in view the sentiments of the people. Ultimately, the CRPF authorities, who had been under pressure from the Chief Minister also, went in for deploying jawans with only batons in their hand. The result is disastrous. One baton-wielding CRPF jawan was killed by militants on August 1 also.

Unarmed CRPF men are sitting ducks, particularly when there are reports that militant infiltration from across the border has increased lately. Modules of the Hizbul Mujahideen, the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, which targeted the CRPF jawans in August, had been obviously waiting for the disarming of the paramilitary personnel.

It is surprising why the CRPF authorities could not foresee the threat to the jawans’ lives. Their decision reflects poorly on their understanding of the situation. Changing the strategy now is allright, but those who have lost their lives due to the thoughtless policy decision cannot come back to life.

The vilification drive against the CRPF is like the campaign by misguided politicians launched against the Army earlier. The time has come to tell these politicians and others that the jawans are posted at various places for providing security to the people. These jawans cannot do their job effectively if they are not properly armed.

Of course, they can be given instructions to respect people’s human rights and to avoid using their weapons even under provocative circumstances. But all the jawans on duty must be armed adequately to meet the challenge posed by militants.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090902/edit.htm#1

Married to the military
by Amrita Harwant Singh

PERHAPS you would say that the correct English would be, “married into the military”. Well, we will come back to this later. First the military lexicon. My marriage was taken as a casualty for my husband and so noted in his service record. Why marriage should be taken as a casualty! There appears to be an explanation for this affront to the wife.

Lt-Col Roberts who commanded a cavalry regiment in the early part of the 20th century, records that Captain Williams, on getting married, never rode with the same dash and daring. That fire and fury diminished and there was less of action and more of reflection. So this lexicon seems to make sense.

At age 35 he took command of his unit and was instantly called an “old man”. Well, here too there appears to be a rationale. In the old days, command of a unit came late and by then there was much silver in the hair and the “old man” adage seemed to fit. Since then this term has stuck. Mercifully no one calls wife an “old lady”.

Soon after marriage we were separated. Not legally, but militarily. He was posted to a field area and I became a separated family. I could live in separated family accommodation, rejoin my job in the school and live in the hostel for the staff or go off to a seminary.

There was the final option: live with my parents or in-laws. I chose the latter only to regret later! Above all, it is the term, “separated family” that gets my goat. Surely the military could work out a dignified and less offensive term!

As a separated family you learn to be independent. Bring up children, attend to their education, their illnesses, do the household chores, live frugally on limited budget, attend to the repairs of your old jalopy and keep the faraway husband updated on the latest. Only time seems to run out in attending to the daily chores and coping up with all the travails of a separated family.

Life in the military has its own excitement, thrills, joy and pathos. In all shifting from station to station after every two years or so, from living with the husband or separated, living out of suitcases or in large bunglows, the prospects of seeing new places and making new friends is the recompence of military life. Though living separately has a different set of perils.

When after a visit to the canteen, while on leave from a non-family station, my husband told me that a young girl of about three years rushed to him and clung to his leg and called him “daddy-daddy” the alarm bells went off. I wanted to meet the mother and have a close look at the child!

Of all the benedictions of life in the military, it is the bonding and the feeling of being part of a larger family which overshadows all else. It is the magic of regimental life and spirit that binds one for ever: in the most rewarding and fulfilling ways. The agonies of war time fears and exhiliration of home comings, and being on top in various peace time activities all add zest to life in the military.

Bringing up children in disciplined and healthy environments, making them understand the value of simple living and watch them doing well are some of the rewards. Eventually one finds oneself completely immersed in the ways of the military and that is why I claim to be married to the military!

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090902/edit.htm#5

Army-IAF expedition begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
To commemorate 25 years of joint operations in Siachen Glacier, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army are undertaking a joint motorcycle expedition from Siachen to New Delhi.

The expedition was flagged-off today from Zero Road, Turtuk, and would culminate at India Gate on September 10. The expedition will cover all passes of Ladakh region, six states and two union territories, an official statement said.

The distance to be covered by the team per day has been so planned that the team members have adequate opportunity to interact with the Army units located en route. The expedition has been named Mission Kshitij.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090902/cth1.htm#13

Top Indian generals visit China for defense talks

By ASHOK SHARMA

Associated Press

2009-09-01 11:01 PM

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Five top Indian army officers visited officials in China on Tuesday amid media reports of Chinese military intrusions into long-disputed territory.

Although relations between India and China have improved in recent years, tensions remain because of sharpening economic rivalries, lingering arguments about their shared border and unrest in Tibet, the Chinese-controlled Himalayan region on the Indian frontier.

China and India fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962 and remain in dispute over ownership of large chunks of mountainous territory.

The visit by the Indian delegation, led by Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, began Saturday and will conclude Thursday, said Sitanshu Kar, the Indian defense ministry spokesman.

Kar said such visits are aimed at "enhancing mutual understanding between the defense establishments of India and China." He also referred to visits by delegations from defense training institutions of both countries.

It comes amid Indian media reports of mounting ground and air intrusions by the Chinese military into India's side of the disputed territory.

"There have been dozens of intrusions by the Chinese forces into the Indian side in recent months. Given the sensitivity of relations between the two countries, the intrusions are being taken seriously by military planners," said Rahul Bedi, an analyst with Jane's Defense Weekly.

In Beijing, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Jiang Yu denied reports that Chinese military helicopters had penetrated Indian airspace.

"I would like to stress that China's border patrols are always conducted in strict accordance with rules, and we would never cross the border of other countries, either by air or by land," Jiang said Tuesday.

China and India "have reached consensus that before the boundaries are settled, the two countries should make joint efforts to safeguard peace and tranquility along the border," she said.

http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1046636&lang=eng_news

Indian Army vice chief appointment may spark succession row

Tags: New Delhi

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(Source: IANS)

Published: Tue, 01 Sep 2009 at 18:57 IST

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New Delhi: The naming of Lt. Gen. P.C. Bhardwaj as the Indian Army's vice chief Tuesday could spark a succession row as it technically means supersession of the senior-most three-star officer, Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, but Army Headquarters says this is not necessarily so.

Singh was tipped to become the Indian Army chief when incumbent Gen. Deepak Kapoor retires in March 2010. Technically, the new postings mean that for the six months from October when Bhardwaj assumes the vice chief's post, Singh would be reporting to an officer who is his junior.

Singh's other option would be to put in his papers, but a senior army officer sought to downplay the possibility of this. "There's nothing of that sort. Both are in the same higher administrative grade and get the same pay and perks," he noted.

In the normal scheme of things, Singh would have, in all probability, become the vice chief when incumbent Lt. Gen. Noble Thamburaj retires October 1. However, the defence ministry accepted Kapoor's recommendation that the vice chief serve a two-year term.

Thus, the appointment of Bhardwaj, who currently heads the Udhampur-based Northern Command, could be said to have upset Singh's apple cart.

"What can we do about this? It was a decision taken by the defence ministry. We can only follow orders," the officer pointed out.

The Indian Army's new promotion policy assigns officers of the rank of Major General and Lieutenant General to either command or administrative streams.

Under the policy, staff stream officers will perform only administrative tasks, while command stream officers will lead troops in field formations.

Officers would not be able to change stream while moving up the career ladder.

Bhardwaj has been chief of the Udhampur-based Northern Command since March this year. He took over from Lt. Gen. H.S. Panag, who was shifted to the relatively insignificant Central Command.

Panag has taken in his stride what could be construed a demotion.

Prior to heading the Northern Command, Bhardwaj commanded the Leh-based 14 Corps that guards the frontiers with China and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, as also the Siachen glacier, the world's highest battlefield.

Bhardwaj has vast experience in terror-hit Kashmir, having been the Brigadier General Staff of the Nagrota-based 16 Corps in 2000-01, when militancy was at its peak and infiltration was at its highest level.

He has also commanded the counter-insurgency Delta Force in the Doda region of Jammu.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, the Indian Military Academy and the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Bhardwaj was commissioned into the first battalion of the Parachute Regiment in June 1970.

He has also received training at the Special Forces School at Fort Bragg in the US.

A recipient of the Vir Chakra during the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Bhardwaj has commanded the elite Parachute Brigade and was the defence attache to Myanmar from 1994 to 1997.

http://www.samaylive.com/news/indian-army-vice-chief-appointment-may-spark-succession-row/653200.html

India Struggles to Keep Navy Afloat

Siddharth Srivastava | 01 Sep 2009

NEW DELHI -- India's defense procurement and modernization processes are infamously slow, and mired in red tape, corruption, and lack of long-term strategic planning. One prominent result has been the country's unsuccessful quest to either procure aircraft carriers internationally or build them at home.

The delays have forced India to refit its sole aircraft carrier -- the 50-year-old INS Viraat, which according to earlier plans should have been junked by now -- to operate for five more years, by which time India hopes to have procured more.

The irony is that, over time, Viraat's air fleet has also been substantially depleted due to accidents, which makes the ship essentially a "toothless tiger," as an anonymous army official was recently quoted as saying. In the 1980s, the Indian navy inducted roughly 30 British Sea Harriers for the 28,000-ton Viraat. More than half have been lost to crashes, with the latest going down in August in Goa, killing the pilot and resulting in the grounding of the jets pending an inquiry.

Viraat, a Centaur-class aircraft carrier, was originally commissioned in the British Royal Navy as HMS Hermes in 1959. The Indian navy acquired the platform in 1987.

Sources say that the vessel's 18-month refitting schedule would probably have taken even more time had it not been for the November Mumbai terror attacks, in which militants used a sea route from Pakistan. Since the 40,000-ton carrier being built at Cochin Shipyard will not be ready before 2015-2016 due to years of political and bureaucratic indifference, the need to keep Viraat operational became more urgent.

Despite India's efforts to hasten the procurement of the refurbished 44,570-ton Admiral Gorshkov from Russia, that ship -- currently undergoing a refit at the Sevmash Shipyard in North Russia -- will only be available by 2013, assuming existing differences are sorted out. India and Russia have yet to work out the final cost of the Gorshkov's refit, with Moscow wanting nearly $3 billion, while India hopes to spend a little more than $2 billion.

Indian navy commanders have long tried to impress the political leadership about India's need for at least three aircraft carriers to secure strategic interests that stretch from Africa's eastern coast to the Malacca Strait, in order to assure that two remain active -- one each for the eastern and western seaboards -- even if the third must be refitted and upgraded.

A growing rivalry has emerged between India and China to control the waters of the Indian Ocean. China has spoken of developing three ocean-going fleets, to patrol the areas of Japan and Korea, the western Pacific, and the Malacca Strait and Indian Ocean region.

On paper, at least, manning the seas is a crucial element in India's ongoing defense modernization exercise, estimated at over $100 billion. The Indian Navy is looking to produce at least 25 submarines valued at $20 billion to meet challenges across the Indian Ocean. The government also has plans to invest more than $15 billion over the next 10 years on warships.

There has been some progress as well, especially in efforts to meet heightened threats from Pakistan and to balance the advanced military capabilities of China. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India has reported that over the three years from 2004-7, India has spent $10.5 billion on military imports, making it one of the largest arms importers in the developing world.

India launched its first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant, for trials in July. Part of a $3 billion plan to build five such submarines, the Arihant would complete the triad of nuclear launch capability from air, land and sea platforms. The project, conceptualized in the late 1970s, is already long-delayed. Built under the Advanced Technology Vessel project with Russian help, Arihant is expected to be commissioned around 2012, making India the sixth country -- after the U.S., Russia, China, France and Britain -- to possess a nuclear-powered submarine.

Meanwhile, the construction of the highly advanced Scorpene submarine is progressing at the upgraded Mazgon Dock in Mumbai, under a $3.5 billion deal for six such French vessels.

India has also developed a submarine-launched supersonic missile using a modification of the BrahMos cruise missiles, a capability limited so far to advanced nations such as U.S., France and Russia. Ship- and land-launched versions of the BrahMos cruise missiles are also being inducted in the navy and army. The state-controlled Defense Research and Development Organization is also undertaking a joint development project with Israel Aerospace Industries for a surface-to-air missile for use from land and ship.

In early 2007, India purchased the 36-year-old 16,900-ton warship U.S.S. Trenton -- re-christened INS Jalashwa -- for $50 million. Trenton is the first Indian warship purchased from the U.S., and the second-largest that India now possesses, after the Viraat.

In addition to expanding its naval capabilities, India is also intent on improving its air force. Trials began in August for India's largest-ever defense deal, the $12 billion contract for 126 medium multirole combat aircraft (MRCA). Lockheed Martin and Boeing (U.S.), Dassault's Rafale (France), Gripen (Sweden), MiG (Russia) and Eurofighter Typhoon (a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish companies) have begun presenting their fighter jets for flight testing by the Indian air force.

The new MRCA fleet will replace the shrinking MiG-21 interceptors, filling the gap between the more powerful Russian Sukhoi-30MKIs and the low-end indigenous Tejas LCA lightweight fighter.

The question of India's aircraft carriers, however, remains caught in a time warp.

Siddharth Srivastava is a New Delhi-based journalist covering foreign and strategic affairs, security, politics, defense, business and lifestyle issues. He has been a correspondent for the Times of India and is widely published in newspapers and magazines in Asia, Europe and America. His Web site can be found here.

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articlePrint.aspx?ID=4237

Lt. Gen. Bhardwaj to take over as next Army vice chief in October

by Bhavesh on Tue 01 Sep 2009 05:27 PM IST | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Lt. General P C Bhardwaj, who is currently heading the Indian Army’s Northern Command, will be the next Vice Chief of Army Staff, bypassing the senior most three-star officer Lt. Gen. V K Singh.

Lt. Gen. Bhardwaj will assume office on October 1 when the incumbent Lt. General Noble Thamburaj retires.

The appointment of Lt. General Bhardwaj comes after Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor had recommended to the Defence Ministry that an officer with around two years of service left with him should take over the office so that he can get a grip of things and continue for a longer tenure.

Till now, the senior-most Lieutenant General used to take over as the Vice Chief, who would either serve in the office for around six to eight months or go on to take over the Army Chief later.

The Indian Army’s new promotion policy earmarks officers of the rank of Major General and Lieutenant General to command or administrative streams.

Under the policy, staff stream officers will perform only administrative tasks, while command stream officers will lead troops in field formations.

Officers in the respective streams would not be able to change streams while moving up the career ladder.

Also, the promoted officers 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.

The new policy has been formulated on the basis of recommendations made by the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee (AVSC).

The Indian Army has created 75 additional Major General posts and 20 Lieutenant General posts as per the recommendations of the committee in December last year.

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

The new policy, which was adopted by the Army was first mooted in 1980 by former army chief General K Sundarji.

Before his latest appointment, Lt. General Bhardwaj had been the chief of the Udhampur-based Northern Command since March of this year.

He succeeded Lt. General H.S. Panag. Prior that he was commanding the Leh-based 14 Corps of the Indian Army that looks after the frontiers with China, Kashmir and also guards the Siachen glacier, the highest battlefield in the world.

Lt. General Bhardwaj has vast experience in the terror-hit Jammu and Kashmir having been the Brigadier General Staff at Nagrota, the headquarters of 16 Corps in 2000-01, when militancy was at its peak and infiltration at its highest level.

He has also commanded the Delta Force, a counter insurgency force in Doda.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Indian Military Academy and Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Lt. Gen.Bhardwaj was commissioned into the first battalion of the Parachute Regiment in June 1970.

He has also received training at Special Forces School, Fort Bragg.

A recipient of Vir Chakra in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Lt. General Bhardwaj has commanded the elite Parachute Brigade and was the defence attache in Myanmar from 1994 to 1997.

http://news.indiaid.com/blog/_archives/2009/9/1/4306914.html

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