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Saturday, 19 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 19 Sep 09

Fresh firing from across the border
BSF, Pak Rangers hold flag meeting
Jupinderjit Singh and Ravi Krishanan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 18
Even as firing from across the border continued this morning also in the Akhnoor sector, BSF officials held a flag meeting with the Pakistan Rangers. The meeting took place at 11:30 am today and went on for 15 minutes.

The Pakistan troops reportedly opened two bursts of fire in the wee hours today near the Nikkowal post when a BSF team, comprising officers, was inspecting the fencing to check if some militants had sneaked in. The Indian troops retaliated. No one was hurt in the firing. Both sides used light weapon fire.

BSF officers curtly told the Pakistan Rangers at a flag meeting at the Nikowal post that no more firing from across the border would be tolerated. The Pakistan Rangers were also told to control the movement of militants, who were using their soil to fire on Indian troops or infiltrate into Indian territory.

The Pakistan Rangers denied that they had fired at Indian posts last night, injuring two BSF jawans. However, they were told that it was impossible that such an assault could take place without their support. BSF officials said Pakistan was told to curb the activities of the militants on its soil and help India in maintaining peace on the border.

JB Sagwan, DIG, BSF, said the Pakistan Rangers had been told that India would retaliate strongly to any future firing. “We will repulse any firing and retaliate strongly,” he said. Lt-Col Raja of the Pakistan Rangers from the Illias post participated in the flag meeting, while AR Rathore, Commandant of BSF 32 Battalion, led the Indian team.

AK Surolia, IG, BSF, said the Pakistan troops had fired from three to four sides at the Indian post first at 6:15 pm and more firing take place later yesterday.

Meanwhile, the BSF denied any infiltration took place, but the police was on high alert. However, sources in the counter-intelligence wing of the state police said four militants might have sneaked into the Indian side from the Akhnoor sector under cover fire provided by the Pakistan Rangers. “Though the BSF has denied the possibility of militants having sneaked in, we are preparing for the worst scenario,” AK Gupta, IG, Jammu zone, told The Tribune. We were not taking any chances with security and all requisite precautions had been taken, said Gupta.

Meanwhile, a high alert was sounded all along the nearly 1,000 km border and the LoC between the two countries from Kathua to Poonch. The maximum alert has been sounded on the Kathua-Jammu-Poonch highway amid conflicting reports that some militants might have sneaked in. Surolia said all vehicles coming towards Jammu were being checked and people frisked. The Army and the BSF have sealed all roads leading towards the border. No one is being allowed to move without his identity documents checked. The security agencies have told villagers along the border to remain alert.

The police was also on high alert in Jammu, which could be the target of the militants. The Id festival on September 21 and the Navratras beginning tomorrow could be the possible targets, police sources said. The two BSF soldiers hurt in the firing last night were under treatment at a government hospital in Jammu. A splinter had hit BSF jawan Rajinder Kumar in the eye, while Mandeep Singh suffered a shoulder injury. Doctors are trying to save the eye of Rajinder Kumar.

Lt Gen does aerial survey along border
Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 18
A senior Army Officer did an aerial survey in the Akhnoor sector along the International Border (IB) following the third infiltration bid in the past five days.

An Army spokesperson said Lt Gen GM Nair, SM, VSM, General Officer Commanding of the 9 Corps, went on an aerial recce along the IB in Jammu and Akhnoor sector and also held a meeting with senior officers of the police and the paramilitary forces to assess the security situation. “This was third infiltration attempt made by the militants on the IB within the past five days,” the spokesperson said.

Israel warns of terror attacks in India
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 18
After the US, Israel has warned its citizens against travelling to India, sending a chilling reminder to the security agencies about the threat to the country from Pakistan-based terrorist groups during the current festive season.

Israel’s counter-terrorism bureau, which operates under the country’s national security council (NSC), has issued a warning that militants were preparing attacks in India similar to those in Mumbai last year.

The travel warning is said to be based on a concrete and serious threat to Israelis. The counter terrorism bureau has asked the Israelis in India to avoid crowded places, especially tourist areas. It said the same organisation that had masterminded 26/11 attacks was planning to carry out many more strikes across India.

The warning comes just as chabad houses (Jewish community centre) across India plan numerous events for the celebration of the Jewish New Year. A Jewish community centre was among the targets of the terrorists who had attacked Mumbai last year.

Last week, the US State Department had warned American citizens of the possibility of terrorist attacks throughout India during the festive season.

These travel advisories have come at a time when reports have suggested that Pakistan-based terrorist groups were planning fresh attacks in India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram have already warned about the possibility of terror attacks.

Mongolia airbase plan shelved?

New Delhi, September 18
An Indian proposal to have an airbase in Mongolia to increase its strategic outreach in the Central Asian region appears to have been shelved, an official said, amid concerns that it could exacerbate tensions with China.

Mooted in 2004 during the visit of then Mongolian Prime Minister N. Enkhbayar in January 2004, the idea elicited a positive response in Mongolia, a country with which India has been rapidly developing ties in the space and defence fields.

“We wanted to have a base in Mongolia but it has not fructified. Currently, we have a base in Tajikistan, and that’s it,” a senior Indian Air Force (IAF) official said requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Although India used the Tajikistan airbase at the turn of the century, it is really not operational in the military sense and there are no Indian aircraft stationed there, sources say.

Besides providing enhanced reach to the IAF, the Mongolian base was seen as giving India strategic leverage vis-à-vis China. Resource-rich Central Asia is also important for India to secure its energy supplies.

But the proposed airbase did not figure during the recently concluded four-day visit of Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj to India. Elbegdorj signed a civil nuclear pact with India. Four other pacts were inked, including one to enhance defence cooperation.

These ties have steadily proliferated since the late 1990s as part of New Delhi’s ‘Look East’ policy and strategy to build strategic ties with China’s neighbours. And with China-Mongolian relations de-emphasising Mongolian nationalism and focusing more on regional security cooperation, the Central Asian country is keen to strengthen its ties with other countries as well.

In 2001, India and Mongolia signed an agreement on defence cooperation, which included joint exercises and reciprocal visits by military officers, followed by the constitution of Joint Defence Working Group.

In January 2004, a cooperation protocol was signed between its Department of Space and the Mongolian Ministry of Infrastructure. It also covers studies related to satellite communication, satellite-related remote sensing and satellite meteorology. Also included in the protocol are satellite ground stations and satellite mission management, training facilities and exchange of scientists.

A defence ministry official said the idea of the base emerged from long-term “strategic thinking” and a proposal did reach the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). “We wanted a base in Mongolia to give us greater reach in the region. But with an air-to-air refueller and better aircraft (with us), the need is not imminent,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

Defence experts agree that the airbase would have given India a bigger strategic footprint. “Having a military presence in the region will give India a much greater strategic profile. However, it (the plan for a base in Mongolia) seems to have been shelved as the move may be seen as provocative by China,” National Maritime Foundation director Commodore Uday C. Bhaskar, a well-known strategic analyst, said. India and Mongolia share good relations, which have been deepened by the Buddhist link. India was the first non-Communist country to recognise Mongolia, which opened its embassy here in 1956. India’s diplomatic mission there opened 15 years later in 1971. While New Delhi has reportedly dropped plans to have an airbase in Mongolia, experts say that China continues with its strategy to encircle New Delhi with a series of ports in countries neighbouring India.

The Gwadar port developed in Pakistan with China’s help has neared completion. Opening at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, it has provided China a strategic foothold in Asia and a crucial gateway to trade. The deep-water harbour in Gwadar could be used by China’s expanding fleet of nuclear submarines.

China is also engaged in developing ports and building infrastructure in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Said Bhaskar: “The Indian government is not clear how to deal with China. India should think of investing in a civil air base in Mongolia. It will be akin to the commercial port in Sri Lanka that China is investing in.” — IANS

IAF lands closer to China border at Nyoma in Ladakh

Indian Air Force in a significant move landed an AN-32 aircraft at Nyoma airport close to China border. The airport being control to the Line of Actual Control will give strategic push to the Indian forces as it becomes easier to move logistics.

CJ: Abu Sheikh

Fri, Sep 18, 2009 16:03:23 IST





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India China News :

India must show courage to fend off an aggressive China

IN A significant move by the Indian Air Force (IAF), an AN-32 aircraft landed at Nyoma Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) early Friday morning. The airport is just 23 kilometer from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the China border in Ladakh, which has witnessed Chinese incursions in the recent past.

The Nyoma airport is likely to give strategic leverage to Indian defence forces as they face a lot of difficulties in moving men and material in the mountaineous Ladakh region.

In the wee hours today morning, Group Captain SC Chafekar touched down on the Nyoma airstrip located at an altitude of 13,300 feet with Air Marshal NAK Browne, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command and Lieutenant General PC Bharadwaj, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command on board.

Earlier, helicopters have been landing at this ALG, this is for the first time that a fixed wing aircraft has landed at the compacted airstrip of Nyoma, located 23 kms from the LAC.

A statement said that after deliberating on all aspects and carrying out aerial and ground reccees, it was concluded that Nyoma could be developed for fixed wing operations as well. The task of developing the ALG to the standards required for fixed wing operations was undertaken by the Engineer Regiments of 14 Corps.

The successful landing of a fixed wing aircraft at Nyoma marks the culmination of joint effort by the IAF and Indian Army to enable the IAF to operate in the inhospitable terrain of Leh-Ladakh region in support of the Army.

No evidence of Chinese aggression: PM

NDTV Correspondent, Friday September 18, 2009, New Delhi

A day after the crucial meeting on China was postponed, apparently to cool temperatures, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also downplayed the issue of transgression by Chinese troops into India.

The prime minister said, "The issue has been blown out of proportion. We see no evidence of increased aggression. On Thursday, the Chinese ambassador met the National Security Adviser and the two had a good discussion."

The Prime Minister may be playing down reports of Chinese incursions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, but the Indian Air Force (IAF) has taken a big step to shore up its defences.

The IAF landed a plane at a remote high altitude air field in Ladakh.

After this, the Air Force has now demonstrated its ability to keep soldiers on the Ladakh frontline equipped at any time, even in winter when access to these regions is completely cut off.

IAF gets new airstrip near China border
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 18
Even as a war of nerves continues between India and China, the Indian armed forces today activated yet another airstrip close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the south-eastern part of Ladakh, adjoining China.

This is the third such airstrip that has been activated in the past 15 months along the LAC in Ladakh.

This morning an AN-32 aircraft landed at Nyoma, where an advanced landing ground (ALG) has been readied for faster deployment of troops and moving supplies to troops based at forward posts. The landing strip is 23-km inside Indian Territory and is at an altitude of 13,300 feet. An ALG means, where the landing strip comprises hard compacted earth but is not paved with concrete.

Earlier in May last year, the IAF had activated Daulat-Beg-Oldie (DBO), the highest airfield in the world situated at an altitude of 16,200 feet. The DBO has been located right at the base of the Karokaram range in the northern Ladakh. Later in November last year, the IAF operationalised the ALG at Fukche. Both the ALG’s can take AN-32 aircraft. Though operational commanders believe that there has been no substitute to building all weather roads along the Sino-Indian border, the ALG’s would be helpful in evacuation, rotation of troops besides supplies.

This morning group Captain SC Chafekar touched down at the airstrip. The plane had been carrying the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command (WAC), NAK Browne and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command Lieutenant General PC Bharadwaj, spokesperson for the WAC Flight Lieut Priya Joshi said.

CoBRA officer killed in encounter
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 18
Security forces today lost an assistant commandant as they launched a major offensive against left-wing extremists. More than a dozen Naxals are believed to have been gunned down in different operations. This is a part of the major combing operations that the para-military forces have started.

An assistant commandant of the Anti-Naxal Force Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) was killed.

Navy inducts stealth destroyer INS Kochi
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, September 18
Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma, who took over as Naval Chief recently, has called upon the country's defense establishment to beef up its indigenous warship building capacity.

Launching INS Kochi, the Project 15-A Kolkata Class stealth destroyer built by the Mazgaon Docks Ltd here today, Admiral Verma stressed the need for putting in place a warship building programme. “The Navy is poised for growth and the time has come to conceptualise an indigenous warship building system. A serious relook at the inefficiencies of the Navy is also required,” Verma said.

The Naval Chief conceded that the Navy was forced to look abroad for its requirements of warships. However, he said, it was necessary to acquire warship building in the country.

INS Kochi was formally launched by Admiral Verma’s wife Madulika Verma. It will formally join the naval fleet in 2011. INS Kolkata, the first vessel, will be inducted next year. The third vessel of its class is likely to be launched in 2012. According to the project details, all three vessels will have land attack capabilities as well. Each of the Project 15-A Kolkata Class destroyer is expected to cost about Rs 3,800 crore. These ships will be fitted with the state-of-the-art weapon systems, including the Brahmos missile, the Barak-2 surface-to-air missiles with a range of 70 km.

No permanent commission for women in Army

New Delhi, September 18
The Centre today informed the Delhi High Court that there will be no permanent commission to serving woman army officers. Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told a Division Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Ajit Bharihoke that the government rejected the serving officers’ plea for permanent commission as they had already completed 14 years in service.

It also rejected the officers’ plea that in case their demand for permanent commission was declined, they should be entitled to pension, the senior law officer said.

The SG further submitted the government’s new policy for granting permanent commission for women officers was still under its consideration. Whether the policy would be implemented or not from this year was still not clear, he submitted.

In the earlier hearing, the Bench had asked the government to consider the serving women officers’ plea and said: “At least the cases of women officers, who retired and who have come to the court, should be considered for permanent commission”.

A total of 17 women army officers, now serving, had moved a petition demanding equal service rights at par with their male counterparts.

Although the Centre took a policy decision to do so following the High Court’s November 2008 order, it had said the policy would be applicable only to those who join the service from the year 2009, but not those who had joined before that.

Counsel for the officers Rekha Palli told the court that there were 1,400 vacant posts in various departments of the Army, but the government refused to accommodate the women officers. —PTI

Indian Army mulls ambitious war plan

TNN 18 September 2009, 04:16am IST

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NEW DELHI: With instability in the neighbourhood and terrorists gaining ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Indian Army is considering the

need to make its infantry capable of being an "expeditionary force" in case of an "out of area contingency".

This bid, in line with the US Marines engaging in battle in war theatres situated in remote locations at short notice, indicates an ambitious intent. This would still need adequate platforms like large transport aircraft and possibly naval support but shows a preparedness to think ahead.

US forces are the only ones capable of real-time power projection and India is still way behind other armed forces as well. But with a large army and an unstable neighbourhood, Indian military planners might be shedding some of the traditional reluctance to look behind the borders.

So far, India has steadfastly refused to commit its troops in Afghanistan -- where US would anyway be careful of Pakistani sensibilities -- and stuck to building roads and other infrastructure.

The top Army commanders discussed how the force can be made more "lean, agile and versatile capable of conducting operations at short notice across an entire spectrum", Army sources said.

A three-day infantry commanders' conference in Mhow, which concluded on Thursday with Army chief Deepak Kapoor and all the top commanders and battalion heads in attendance, took stock of the force's war-waging materials and deliberated on how it can be prepared for an "out of area" role.

A major part of the three-day deliberations, held at the Infantry School, was spent on discussing the future outlook of Indian Army. The commanders stressed the need to review the training of middle-level officers and the need to improve the force's future firepower and surveillance mechanism.

Senior infantry officers from operational theatres shared their personal experiences pertaining to transformation of infantry to meet new challenges. The main emphasis was on adaptation as per the changing geopolitical environment, threat perception and emergence of new technologies and dovetail the same into the transformation process, a senior officer added.

The conflict in Afghanistan with spillover of battle-hardened terrorists from the Af-Pak theatre into India has already been engaging the armed forces considerably at home soil.

The Army has intensified its counter-insurgency operations in the higher reaches along the Line of Control in J&K with increased attempt of militants to infiltrate on the Indian side from across the border. It is estimated that about 300 militants are waiting at launch pads, a senior Army officer said here.

In the last two months, at least 10 to 12 infiltration bids have been made in each month, an Army officer said. In fact, India has taken up the matter with the US -- which is highly engaged with Pakistan with its anti-Taliban operations -- to put pressure on the latter to dismantle terrorist training camps in PoK.

Terrorist handlers from across the borders have made multiple launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) to divert attention of Indian troops while trying to push in militants inside India.

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