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Saturday, 31 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 31 Oct 09

Kashmir Times

Asian Age

Asian Age

Telegraph India

Indian Express

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Kashmir Times

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Kashmir Times

Times of India

Times of India

DNA India

Four feared killed in IAF chopper crash
Dinesh Manhotra
Tribune News Service

Jammu, October 30
An Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper crashed and plunged into the Chenab at Trungal in Doda district today. The rotors of the ill-fated chopper got entangled in the cable of a ropeway hung by the locals to cross the river.

Although the authorities have yet not confirmed the total causalities in the tragic incident, all four crew members on board were feared killed, as the chopper was drowned into the reservoir of the Baglihar hydroelectric project. Only one body has been recovered so far and the rescue operation is going on.

MI 17 IV chopper is a Russian made helicopter with a good flying record. It is considered the life line for the residents of inaccessible areas of the region. A court of inquiry has been ordered into the incident.

Deepak Kumar, DIG, Doda-Ramban range, told The Tribune that the IAF chopper, which was on a regular sortie, was flying over the reservoir of the Baglihar hydroelectric project on the Chenab when it got entangled in the cable of a ropeway at Trungal village.
It crashed and plunged into the Chenab.

Quoting the IAF authorities, the DIG further informed that four crew members were on board and only one body had been recovered. He said a team of divers from the Civil Defence had been pressed into service.

Rajdeep Singh, an eyewitness, said over the phone that he along with some locals was standing on the opposite side of Trungal village when the incident took place. "The chopper was coming from the Batote side when it crashed and plunged into the river with a big bang," said Rajdeep, who ferries passengers on the Chenab from Trungal to Zangli. He said he along with five other villagers were the first to reach the spot. "A badly mutilated body was lying on the bank of the river," he added. Although the authorities had not disclosed the identity of those who were on board, sources said the body of Wing Commander Garh had been recovered.

Although senior officers are tight-lipped over the incident, the sources said the ill-fated chopper was returning from the Nawapachi area of Kishtwar district. The IAF carries regular sorties to the mountain-locked Nawapachi area to transport ration, arms and ammunition for the troops stationed there. The IAF also provides assistance to the civil administration in supplying ration and other essential commodities in times of crisis.

Copter crash

Srinagar, Oct. 30: An Indian Air Force helicopter crashed in Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district this afternoon.

Defence officials said the four crew members on board were missing but sources said they were feared dead. The crash occurred during a routine sortie.

The crash came after the Indian Army killed a suspected Pakistani soldier and a militant during an infiltration attempt in Kupwara aided by covering fire. Army sources said they had found a Pakistani army identity card on the bodies of one of the two intruders. "The card belongs to sepoy Zuhaib Ayaz of the Pakistani army's Punjab regiment," an official said. The death or arrest of Pakistani soldiers on this side of the LoC is rare.

Pakistani troops fire mortars across LOC, two intruders killed

by Indo Asian News Service on October 30, 2009

Srinagar, Oct 30 (IANS) Pakistani Army troops fired several mortar rounds at the Indian positions in the Keran sector of Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district Thursday, an Indian defence spokesman said here Friday.

This is the first major ceasefire violation on the LoC this year.

Pakistani Army fired 14 mortar rounds at our positions in the Keran sector of the LOC Thursday night, Lt. Col J.S. Brar told IANS.

'There was also some movement in the area and our troops retaliated with small arms fire. During the search of the area, bodies of two terrorists were found along with arms and ammunition,' Brar said.

An identity card of the Pakistani Army was also recovered from one of the slain terrorists.

'We have recovered two AK-47 rifles, one UBGL, one satellite phone and one mobile phone with a Indian SIM card,' he said.

'We have sought a flag meeting to convey our concern over the ceasefire violation in no uncertain terms,' Brar said.

Pakistan pleads for weapons aid

October 30, 2009

Rick Westhead

ISLAMABAD–Canada's arms embargo against Pakistan adds to the dangers faced by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, a Pakistan government official says, demanding Ottawa end its 11-year-ban.

"Canada needs to step up," Abdul Basit, a Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman, told the Star. "We can see that other countries are increasing their aid to Pakistan. Look at the U.S. with what it's doing with the (aid boosting) Kerry-Lugar bill. Canada's arms embargo on Pakistan is short-sighted.

"These terrorists move across the border (from Pakistan) to Afghanistan and kill Canadian soldiers. Why would Canada not want to help us in this battle? Canada needs to change this policy."

Pakistan is ensnared in a landmark battle with Islamic militants who call themselves Taliban and fighting has been fierce in South Waziristan, the country's tribal region that has acted as a lawless safe haven for insurgents

When Pakistan began its military campaign, senior officers said they were concerned because the army and air force lack enough night-vision goggles and unmanned aerial drones. Canadian companies make both products well yet aren't allowed to sell them here.

Pakistan doesn't understand why, Basit said.

The subject of Canada's arms embargo has been debated inside the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad for more than a year as some staffers tried to make a case to Ottawa that Canada should offer support to Pakistan in its fight against the Taliban. Canadian officials in Ottawa have said no.

During a visit to Islamabad in May, Defence Minister Peter McKay told the Star Canada was open to ending the ban. "Doing military business in the future, and trade in particular, is something that is under consideration," MacKay said at the time after meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari.

But a day later, the ministry flip-flopped and said in a press release the policy was not under review.

Western diplomats say there are several reasons Canada may be refusing to budge. Canadian officials are still upset that Pakistan secretly used Canadian technology in the mid-1990s to develop its nuclear programs. (As did India.) Trust also remains an issue.

Islamabad has repeatedly been accused of misusing aid money that was supposed to be spent on its battle against terrorists.

Last year, for instance, the U.S. general accounting office released a report that said the Bush administration had provided $2 billion worth of aid to Pakistan without any proof the money had been used for its intended purpose. The Pentagon, for instance, spent $20 million (U.S.) for the construction of new roads for the army and $15 million for new bunkers. There was no evidence that either project was finished, the report said.

Now, the U.S. is offering to significantly increase military and non-military aid to Pakistan. The Kerry-Lugar bill would triple U.S. aid to Pakistan to $7 billion over the next five years, although many Pakistanis oppose the bill because they say its strict conditions undermine their country's sovereignty.

Canada, meanwhile, has committed $32 million through 2011 to support Pakistan-Afghanistan border management and training.

Recently, Canada supplied Pakistan with scanners that are designed to search trucks for arms and munitions. The trucks were supposed to be sent directly to Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. But for more than six months, the scanners sat in storage in Karachi because of a debacle over invoicing.

"It was a classic case of bribery," said one Western diplomat familiar with the case. "The local people in Karachi wouldn't let the scanners go until the bribes had been paid."

Canada's foreign affairs department said in a statement "Canada's policy regarding military exports to Pakistan, announced in 1998 following Pakistan's nuclear weapons test, remains unchanged. There are no plans to lift restrictions on military exports to Pakistan."

Satish Chandra, a former Indian ambassador to Pakistan, said Canada is doing the right thing by maintaining the embargo, even though other countries such as the United States freely sell arms there.

"Canada tends to be a lot more sensitive and careful about providing arms to conflict-zone areas than the U.S. does," Chandra said. "The U.S. has such a broad agenda that it turns a blind eye to many things. Canada doesn't."

A Western diplomat said Canada risks losing its influence in Pakistan by enforcing the weapons ban. "It's not like Pakistan has no options," the diplomat said, adding China would likely covet closer ties to Pakistan and provide military aid.

Singapore and Indian Armies conduct Bilateral Artillery Exercise

11:05 GMT, October 30, 2009 The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Indian Army are conducting a bilateral artillery exercise in Devlali, India. Code-named Agni Warrior, this year's exercise involves soldiers from the 23rd and 24th Battalion, Singapore Artillery, as well as the Indian Army's 283 Field Regiment.

As part of the exercise, the two armies carried out a combined live-firing with the SAF's FH-88 Howitzer guns and 155mm Battery guns from the Indian Army on 26 October 2009. Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Neo Kian Hong, who was on an official visit to India from 25 to 27 October 2009, witnessed the live-firing with Director-General Artillery Lieutenant-General K R Rao. MG Neo also met the SAF and Indian Army troops during the exercise. The exercise, which is the fifth in the Agni Warrior series, began on 9 October 2009 and will conclude tomorrow.

This series of annual exercises underscores the warm defence ties between Singapore and India. Apart from joint exercises, the SAF and the Indian Armed Forces interact regularly through visits, courses, seminars and other professional exchanges.

US, other leading armies want to train, learn from Indian Special Forces


October 30th, 2009

AGRA - The Red Devils, the elite Special Forces of the Indian Army, are most sought after by the leading armies of the world who want to learn and train with them for their courage, professionalism, adventurism and spirit of soldiering.

Para commandos are elite special forces of Indian Army. They are the largest and most important part of the Special Forces of the country. The parachute units of the Indian Army are among the oldest airborne units in the world. On April 15, 1952, by absorbing three parachute battalions the Parachute Regiment was finally formed.

"I think the US Army and its Special Forces wants to train with us. They are actually surprised by achievements and experiences, which the Indian Army has. That is why they all want to interact and have training with us," Colonel of the Parachute Regiment, Lt. General P C Katoch told ANI.

"It is not the Americans alone with whom we are training. We are also training with British and Russian forces," Lt. General Katoch said during the paratroopers' reunion in Agra on Tuesday.

US Army Special Forces have learnt HAHO ((High Altitude High Opening) techniques from Para Commandos in 1992, underwater training in 1995 and anti-terrorism training in 1997.

A team of US soldiers came to Agra in 2002, which is home to the Indian Army's elite Paratroopers Training School, where Army and Navy personnel are trained. It is also the base of the 50th Para Brigade.

Replying to a question on benefits of exercising with US soldiers who operate in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lt. General Katoch said: "Of course we are benefiting with their experience. It is a process from where you learn from each other and know how they operate and types of equipment they use."

He also added that the Indian Army is ready to have a joint exercise with Pakistan if they give up their designs of spreading terror inside India.

Commenting on the deployment of Special Forces in Naxal affected areas; Lt. General Katoch said it is for the government to decide and whenever a decision is taken, the Special Forces are ready to operate anywhere.

The US and soldiers from France, UK, Israel and Italy have sought India's help to train in counter-insurgency operations at the counter insurgency and jungle warfare school (CIJWS). By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

Special Forces modernisation keeping in view Taliban menace: Army Chief


October 30th, 2009

AGRA - To guard the territorial integrity and national security from any quarter, the Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, has assured that security forces are ready to face any challenge from the Taliban, and added that Special Forces modernisation is being done keeping in view asymmetric and fourth generation warfare.

Para commandos are elite special forces of Indian Army. They are the largest and most important part of the Special Forces of India. The parachute units of the Indian Army are among the oldest airborne units in the world. On April 15, 1952, by absorbing three parachute battalions the Parachute Regiment was finally formed.

"I like to assure everyone that we are ready to face any challenge," General Kapoor told ANI when asked about the preparedness of the Army in wake of growing Taliban menace in neighbouring countries.

A fortnight ago Tehreek-e-Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud said that India is the next stop for Taliban fighters after they create an Islamic state in Pakistan.

"There are whole lot of new equipments, which is being thought of for Para Special Forces modernisation, especially in view of the fact that asymmetric warfare, and fourth generation warfare is a matter of concern and from that perspective we are trying to modernize entire Para Forces," said the Army Chief during the paratroopers reunion hosted by the Parachute Brigade here on Tuesday.

Since the mid-1990s the role of Para commandos as a counter terrorist force has increased substantially. They are now actively involved in counter terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir to conduct pro-active raids against militants hiding in the countryside and mountains.

Commenting on the preparation of the Special Forces for 21st century warfare, Colonel of the regiment, Lt. General P C Katoch said: "One can see what is happening in the J-K, Northeast, there is outside interference. Parachute Regiment and Special Forces are all prepared for it all along."

As part of the modernisation of the Special Forces, a hi-tech warfare training is being given to the troopers, who have been equipped with light weight weaponry to enable them to take swift action during combat operations.

The Special Forces, which is also known as the Red Devils for their courage and professionalism, have been equipped with Travor rifles that would prove beneficial to the troops, deployed in counter insurgency operations.

The Special Forces will also get helmets fixed with night vision binoculars and earpiece for communication purposes. The body armour will comprise of lightweight bulletproof vests and shoes. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

Friday, 30 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 30 Oct 09

Hindustan Times

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

DNA India

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Times of India

Times of India

DNA India

Obama inks military budget bill; Pak to get $2.3bn

Lalit K Jha/PTI / Washington October 29, 2009, 10:57 IST

US President Barack Obama today signed a $680 billion defence budget bill that provides $2.3 billion military assistance to Pakistan with tough condition to make sure that the funds are not squandered or diverted to affect the "balance of power in the region".

Obama said the Defence Authorisation Bill for 2010 eliminates some of the waste and inefficiency in the defence process that will better protect the nation, troops and save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.

"The bill includes a commitment to the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan, expanded programmes to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of rogue states and terrorists, and a reformed system of defence acquisition to save taxpayer money," said House Majority Leader Steny H Hoyer.

The military aid money to Pakistan for the fiscal 2010 as mentioned in the bill has two major components -- $1.6 billion for the Coalition Support Fund and $700 million for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund.

For the $1.6 billion Coalition Support Fund, the bill would require that, before any more such money is spent, the Obama administration must certify that doing so is in the US national interest and will not adversely affect the region's balance of power.

India feels that the American assistance to Pakistan should be more focused on building counter-insurgency capabilities rather than conventional defence equipment which can be diverted for other purposes.

Govt withdraws some Kashmir troops in peace gesture


VICTORY TO THEM: Soldiers hold their weapons after a gunbattle against terrorists in Srinagar.

Jammu: The government is withdrawing about 15,000 soldiers from Jammu and Kashmir, a military official said on Thursday, in a move aimed at boosting prospects of peace talks with the disputed region's separatist groups.

India has been under international pressure in recent months to reduce tensions along its Pakistan border particularly Kashmir so that Islamabad could focus on fighting the Taliban on its western border with Afghanistan.

But military analysts said the slight thinning of troops in the Jammu region was linked with ongoing efforts to resume talks with Kashmir's separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference rather than extending an olive branch to Pakistan.

Kashmiri separatists urged New Delhi to pull out troops, release prisoners and end alleged human rights violations after the Indian government offered to resume talks this month to end a two-decade insurgency.

A military spokesman said one army division was being moved in a phased manner since September from the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch because of improvement in the security situation. It wasn't clear if these were troops deployed on the border or on internal security duties.

"The readjustment and relocation of troops is subject to security reviews and periodic assessment of ground situation," Lt. Col. Biplab Nath said.

The troops who are being moved out are in the Jammu region and not the Kashmir Valley which is the centre of the revolt.

Violence is now at its lowest in Kashmir since a separatist insurgency in the region broke out in 1989, but officials say incidents of "infiltration" of militants from Pakistan have risen over the past few months.

Ashok Mehta, a retired general and New Delhi-based strategic analyst, said the removal of troops was a goodwill gesture aimed at Kashmiri groups.

"The current de-induction of troops has nothing to do with the Afghanistan war," he said.

The announcement of the troop movement came as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is touring Kashmir said the security of the disputed region must rest in the hands of police.

"The responsibility for maintaining law and order in the state will be increasingly devolved on the Jammu and Kashmir police," he said.

India moved about 4,000 soldiers from its Pakistan border in Kashmir in March. There are an estimated half a million Indian security personnel, including soldiers, deployed in Kashmir.

"Deployment and redeployment is based on threat perceptions and this particular army division has moved out as the situation is better," said Col S. Om Singh, another army spokesman.

A faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference began a dialogue with the government in 2004, the first since the beginning of the insurgency, but it broke down two years later.

Defence procurement procedure amended
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
The Ministry of Defence today introduced a crucial amendment to its defence procurement procedure (DPP) and empowered independent monitors to check and probe corruption charges against its officers and manufacturers.

Over all, the amendments would encourage domestic industry besides ensuring transparency and accountability, said ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar while releasing the contents of the amendments here today. These will come in to effect from November 1.

At present the DPP has the scope of an integrity pact for all projects in excess of Rs 100 crore. This is a binding agreement between the government and bidders for contracts. The existing provision provides for appointment of independent monitors (IM) in consultation with the Central Vigilance Commission. The role of these monitors was, however, very limited and undefined.

The new amendment defines and enlarges the role of IMs to enable them to scrutinise complaints with regards to violation of the integrity pact, Kar said.

A major impediment in the growth of defence industry in the country has been lack of information with the domestic industry on defence requirements. Such information has generally been treated as classified. Consequently, the indigenous industry is unable to plan technology, up-gradation or joint collaboration with associated foreign industries.

The ministry also announced a public version of the “long-term perspective plan” of the Armed Forces outlining technology perspective and capability roadmap covering a period of 15 years would be widely publicised and made available on the ministry website.

Probe ordered into land fraud at Darjeeling army station
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
Defence Minister AK Antony today ordered a probe into the alleged land fraud at a military station in Darjeeling in which at least two Army Generals were said to be involved.

Antony issued orders to Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, taking note of reports that senior Army officers were allegedly involved in the fraud committed by a private institution, officials said.

The Army has already instituted a court of inquiry into the allegations that the Generals and senior officers had issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) to an institution that bought some land adjacent to the Sukhna military station at Darjeeling a few years ago on the pretext of starting a branch of Ajmer-based Mayo College.

The ministry probe would be independent of the Army inquiry, officials said.

The Defence Minister’s action comes a day after he talked of zero-tolerance towards corruption and gave assurance that even senior officers would not be spared if bribery charges were proved against them.

Trained in India, to fight in Iraq



New Delhi, Oct. 29: An Indo-US wargame that ended today in Uttar Pradesh helped retrain part of an American contingent that went into action in Iraq and will be redeployed in the war-ravaged country, scaling up the bilateral exercise that was originally projected as a peace-keeping drill.

Exercise Yudh Abhyas 09 – the latest in a series of Indo-US drills that began in 2004 – involved the largest deployment of ground forces by the two countries for joint training. When the exercise began, the Indian Army officially stated that the scenario for the drill was that of joint operations for peace keeping under a United Nations’ mandate.

It was more or less expected that the US Army will begin using Indian military facilities and experience to train for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan with the wargame.

But the scale of the drill was far deeper than initially thought. Within the first five days of the two-week drill, it quickly morphed into an armoured and infantry exercise involving para-dropping and securing urban settlements simulating environments in Iraq and Afghanistan with live firing. Forces led by the US had invaded Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) without specific UN mandates.

Around 250 soldiers from the US contingent – of the 2nd squadron 14 Cavalry -- pulled out of Iraq in April this year after a 15-month deployment. It is marked to re-deploy there in nine months.

Till April this year the squadron was based in Camp Taji, about 25km north of Baghdad, in a zone that is the most violent in Iraq. At least one of its soldiers, Sergeant Timothy P Martin, 27, was killed. He died in a blast from an improvised explosive device in August last year.

The drill with Indian mechanised forces in Babina – one of the Indian Army’s largest and most sophisticated training centres with a large field firing range– starts off a period of re-training for the US forces.

The exercise was witnessed by the chief of the US Army Pacific, Lt Gen Benjamin R. Mixon and India’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen A.S. Sekhon.

The trend among US-led coalition forces to use Indian military facilities to train for “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Operation Enduring Freedom” (Afghanistan) began in September 2007. But the drills have never involved as many soldiers, so much hardware and such massive firepower.

A unit of the British Royal Marines engaged Indian special forces in an exercise named “Himalayan Warrior” in Ladakh in September-October 2007.

The UK requested access to Indian military facilities in Ladakh and an exercise in that region because the dry desert terrain is similar to parts of Afghanistan. The British soldiers were also acclimatised at the Indian Army’s High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) in Sonamarg.

Last October, the US army chief, General George Casey, was also escorted by Indian Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor to Ladakh and to Indian army establishments in Kashmir and other Indian military facilities.

So far, army-level drills between the two countries involved companies (about a 100 troops in each company) or even smaller platoons. But the involvement has now been scaled-up several notches with Exercise Yudh Abhyas 09.

Just how seriously the Pentagon takes its exercises with the Indian military is indicated by the logistics that have gone into the Babina drill. It deployed 17 Strykers – the largest deployment of the multipurpose armoured vehicles outside Iraq and Afghanistan – that were shipped all the way from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where the unit is currently based, to Mumbai.

In Bombay, the Strykers, each weighing about 19 tonnes, were transported in sixteen-wheeler trucks to armoured corps base in Babina (that was started by the British with the acronym that stands for British Army Base in North India).

The Strykers and the US troops will now head back the same way for more training in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

“This exercise (Yudh Abhyas 09) is a ramp-up in training, as the unit prepares for larger pre-deployment training exercises such as those at the National Training Facility in California,” a US army statementsaid.

The US army contingent was hosted by the general officer commanding the Indian Army’s 31st armoured division, Maj Gen Anil Malik. The Indians deployed the 7th Mechanised Infantry for the drill.

The scale of the exercise involving armoured units – India’s Russian-origin BMP troop-carriers, its latest T-90 tanks and Dhruv helicopters – and the US Pacific Army chief’s comments invariably stoked interest once again on possible joint operations.

“This is all about training with the Indian army, to enhance relationships so that we gain a greater understanding of each other. That’s really what this is all about,” the general said. “India has a professional army. I will go with the Indian Army anywhere, anytime,” he added.

But beyond the show of power and battlefield skills, there was also a pitch for arms sales to India. The Stryker vehicle itself was closely watched by the Indian forces. It can be configured for several tasks – offensive, reconnaissance, communications and evacuations apart from troop carrying.

A senior official of the Pentagon’s defence sales branch also escorted executives of defence companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to Babina for the exercise. The US contingent demonstrated the fire-and-forget Javelin anti-tank missile, at least a generation ahead of the Milans that the Indians use. India is scouting the markets to stock up on anti-tank systems because the Indian Army still trains for scenarios of armoured warfare.

Indian soldiers were not allowed to drive the Stryker but some of them took shots at dead tanks with the missile.

The sleek shoulder-fired Javelin hones into its target without having to be guided to it. It is made by Raytheon.

No military involvement in Afghanistan, Antony clarifies news

29 October 2009

New Delhi: Gushing sentiments from a top US military commander soon after conclusion of a joint Indo-US army exercise has clearly put Indian defence minister AK Antony on the defensive forcing him to clarify that India would not participate militarily in Afghanistan. He stated categorically that there was no question of the country joining US-led coalition forces in the war-ravaged country "now or in the future".

"I am saying categorically that there is no question of Indian military involvement in Afghanistan. I do not foresee such a situation, not now or in the future," Antony told reporters here at a Coast Guard event.

He was responding to a question if the recent Indo-US army counter-insurgency and anti-terror exercise, which saw an impressive deployment of armoured combat vehicles from both sides as well as an air complement, was possibly aimed at future joint operations in Afghanistan.

The joint exercises, conducted at Babina in Uttar Pradesh, was also the largest ever conducted by both sides.

Antony said India was involved in Afghanistan at a humanitarian level and was also providing reconstruction and rehabilitation services and programmes to the war-torn nation, land-locked nation.

The source of the defence minister's concern would be comments made by US Army (Pacific) commander Lt Gen Benjamin R Mixon who informed a press meet soon after conclusion of fortnight-long exercises at Babina, "We will be comfortable going with the Indian Army anywhere, anytime. We want to work together as militaries and ensure peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region."

Thursday, 29 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 29 Oct 09

Indian Express

Asian Age

Asian Age

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Kashmir Times

The Pioneer

Indian Express

Indian Express

DNA India

US pushing Pak to act against 26/11 perpetrators: Clinton

Lalit K Jha/PTI / Washington October 28, 2009, 12:45 IST

The US is pushing Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to justice and to put an end to the connection between the ISI and terror groups, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today as she travelled to Islamabad on a three-day visit.

The relationship between ISI and some terror groups remained a concern for the US, even though there has been a remarkable improvement in cooperation from the ISI in last nine months, Clinton told reporters travelling with her.

"... We are constantly assessing that (relationship between ISI and terrorist organisations) and because it remains a concern to us," she said in response to a question.

Clinton said the US continues to raise several issues with Pakistan, with the Mumbai trial prominent among them.

"We are clearly pushing for the trials of the Mumbai attackers and planners to go forward," she said.

"We are very much focused on them, because we see them as a threat to Pakistan, we see them as a threat to India, we see them as a threat to stability in the region. We don't think its good for anybody," she said.

Clinton said "No" when asked: "Are you convinced that there is no more collaboration between the military and the ISI in assisting certain terrorist groups like Lashkar e-taiba?" and added: "No, but I'm not unconvinced".

India won’t join US ops in Afghanistan: Antony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
Defence Minister AK Antony today made it clear that there was no question of joining US-led military operations in Afghanistan, saying the ministry did not foresee such a situation “now or in the future”.

“I am saying categorically that there is no question of Indian military involvement in Afghanistan,” Antony told reporters when asked about the US suggesting India to join its military operations in Afghanistan.

“I do not foresee such a situation,” Antony said, in reply to a question if the recent Indo-US army counter-insurgency and anti-terror exercise was aimed at future joint operations in Afghanistan.

India was involved in Afghanistan for humanitarian aid, reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

At the recent joint military exercise in Babina, Uttar Pradesh, a US Army commander Lieut. Gen. Benjamin Mixon had said that his troops would be comfortable operating with Indian troops in the future anywhere and anytime, and that the fortnight-long exercise that ended on Monday was aimed at achieving inter-operability.

Defence Minister AK Antony today announced a 33 per cent jump in the number of Indian Coast Guard personnel, who form country’s naval counter-terrorism force.

The announcement comes after around 11 months of the biggest terror attack in India in November last year.

The government has sanctioned nearly 3,000 additional posts at various levels and these needs to be filled on priority basis. He said the concept of “security” has changed in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks and the spectrum and nature of duties of the Indian Coast Guard have undergone a sea change.

The Coast Guard would be one of the world’s best forces in a couple of years, he added. The force was in the process of acquiring 20 fast patrol vehicles (OPVs), 41 interceptor boats, 12 coastal surveillance aircraft (Dorniers) and seven offshore patrol vehicles.

After Russia, US to produce fighter aircraft in India
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
The US has decided to allow production of its front-line fighter aircraft, F-18 super-hornet, in India if the Indian Air Force selects the same for use.

President of the Boeing Military Aircraft systems Chris Chadwick made it clear today that F-18, produced by Boeing, “will be for licensed production in India by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)”. If the IAF selects F-18, first 18 aircraft will be imported and the rest will be made in India. Chadwick was replying to a question if Boeing was comfortable with producing its frontline aircraft in India like the Russian products are made here.

Notably, Russian fighter Sukhoi-30, rated as one of the best in the world, and the T-90 tanks, both are produced in India as part of an agreement between India and Russia.

His colleague Mike Reitz, director of the F-18 project made it clear: “The US government has approved of the technology transfer. We will be building the plane here itself and not be just assembling parts ”. The F-18 is part of the six global contenders of the medium range multi-role aircraft (MMRCA) project that India in buying. At $10 billion, it is one of the biggest ongoing deals in the world. The F-18 has finished its two-stage Indian leg of the trails conducted across Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh.

As part of its commitment to Indian market, Boeing has signed agreements with a total of 38 Indian defence public sector companies and private companies for supplying equipment.

Agreements have been signed with Indian companies such as Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Boeing India head Vivek Lall said.

As per the Defence Procurement Procedure, for any deal worth over Rs 300 crore, the selected manufacturer has to reinvest a minimum of 30 per cent of the deal’s worth in Indian defence industry.

The F-18 has been modified for Indian conditions, said Reitz as he challenged the other five contenders saying “we challenge anybody to fly a plane like us”. A new radar, that allows tracking of multiple targets on land, air and sea, is fitted onto the plane. The US Government has also approved this for technology transfer to India.

Chinese intrusions errors: Krishna
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, October 28
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna today said there was nothing alarming about border incursions by the Chinese military.

In a ‘meet-the-press’ programme at the Press Club here today, Krishna said border between India and China was not clearly delineated and this gave rise to the problem.

“It is nothing to be alarmed about,” Krishna said and added that a mechanism was being worked out to prevent recurrence of such incidents.

“Indo-China border is most peaceful. There may be incursion by the Chinese without them even being aware of it. Relations between the two countries are warm,” Krishna, who held a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart here yesterday, said. He added that efforts were underway to take the relationship between the two nations to the next level, which would be one of “partnership”.

The Minister said National Security Adviser MK Narayanan had been assigned to hold negotiations with the Chinese on the boundary questions and the two sides had already held meetings on the issue. He, however, added that resolution of the disputes would be a time-consuming process and would require a “lot of patience” on the part of those who were keen to see an end to the boundary problems.

Regarding the proposed visit of Dalai Lama’s to Arunachal Pradesh, Krishna reiterated that the Tibetan spiritual leader was an “honoured guest of India” and was free to go to any part of the country that he would wish to visit.

Dhruv crash raises questions
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, October 28
Crash of an Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactured Dhruv helicopter in Ecuador has raised question marks over the Central Government’s decision to gift the multi-role helicopter to the Maldivian government for use by its defence forces.

Ameen Faisal, Minister of Defence and National Security of Maldives, arrived in Bangalore today and visited the export hangar and the helicopter complex of HAL. He also had a look at the Advanced Light Helicopter prototype developed by HAL.The Maldivian Defence Minister will proceed to Belgaum tomorrow where the armies of India and the Maldives will be holding a joint counter-terrorism exercise. The exercise comes close on the heels of Defence Minister AK Antony’s visit to the island country a couple of months ago.

A Defence Ministry spokesperson here said it was unlikely that the Indian offer to Maldives would be reviewed in the light of the Ecuador incident. “When the Defence Minister visited Maldives, he promised to give them a Dhruv for their military. They were also asked to set up hangars and other paraphernalia for parking the bird,” he said.

The Dhruv crash in Ecuador took place during a military parade injuring its two pilots and prompting the Ecuadorian authorities to ground the six remaining recently purchased choppers. The helicopter was flying in formation with two other choppers over an air force base near Quito yesterday when it suddenly veered off course and hit the ground.

China flexes muscles
India must be firm, but restrained in rhetoric
by G. Parthasarathy

The mouthpiece of China’s Communist Party, the People’s Daily, claimed on October 14 that the Indians have become “more narrow minded”. It accused India of “provocation” on border issues with China and asserted that as “nationalism sentiment” rises, the Indians are turning to “hegemony” in relations with neighbours. The People’s Daily called on India to give a “positive response” to China’s efforts to resolve the border issue. Pakistan was referred to as one of the countries suffering from Indian “hegemony”, as India allegedly sought to “befriend the far (United States and Russia) and attack the near (Pakistan and China)”. The Chinese conveniently forget how they colluded against India with the Nixon Administration during the Bangladesh conflict in 1971 and with the Clinton Administration after India’s nuclear tests in 1998.

While China has relentlessly sought to denigrate and undermine India’s relations with countries in its Indian Ocean neighbourhood, even going to the extent of transferring nuclear weapons designs and knowhow to Pakistan, India has yet to fashion a coherent policy on the fears that China’s East and South-East Asian neighbours have of China’s efforts to dominate the Asia-Pacific region. Assured by the support it received after a visit by Deng Xiao Ping’s to Washington, China launched an unprovoked attack on Vietnam in order to “teach” Vietnam a “lesson” in 1979. Deng proclaimed that the “lesson” was meant to be similar to that administered to India in 1962. China again used force against Vietnam when it forcibly occupied the Paracel islands in 1974.There was yet another military engagement between China and Vietnam, when China occupied the “Johnson Reef” in 1988. In July 1992, China occupied Vietnam’s Da Lac Reef, establishing its first military presence there since the 1988 clash with Vietnam.

China claims that its territorial waters engulf 3 million square kilometres out of the total area of 3.5 million square kilometres in the South China Sea. Given such claims about its ever-expanding maritime frontiers, China is today engulfed in maritime disputes with the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan and both North and South Korea. Earlier this year, China complained about an “official landing” by Malaysia on the islands it had claimed. The same week, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed a decree laying claim to two islands that China had claimed. In February 1995, China militarily occupied the “Mischief Reef” in the Spratlys Islands, which was claimed by the Philippines. A month later Philippines forces seized Chinese fishing boats and destroyed Chinese markers in “Mischief Reef”. Malaysia and Vietnam have joined hands to counter Chinese expansionism, by jointly submitting a proposal to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea questioning China’s claims and definition of its continental shelf. It is precisely such belligerence that prompts China’s Asia-Pacific neighbours to seek a US presence in the region. India would be well advised to seek a more wide-ranging strategic engagement with China’s Asia-Pacific neighbours like Vietnam and the Philippines in response to China’s policies of seeking to undermine India’s relations with its immediate neighbours.

While intimidating its smaller neighbours on issues of its maritime boundaries by its growing military strength, China finds its quest for hegemony hampered by two large Asian neighbours --- Japan and India. It seeks to exclude the United States and India from regional forums by calling for the establishment of an “East Asian Community”. Concerned by such Chinese moves, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong asserted: “I think the US has to be part of the Asia-Pacific and the overall architecture of cooperation within the Asia Pacific”. This fear of Chinese expansionism is accentuated by the virtual paralysis in Japanese foreign policy in recent times.

The Chinese have spread fears about a revival of World War II Japanese “militarism” and put Japan on the defensive by protesting about the visits of Japanese leaders to the Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated to the memory of the soldiers killed in the service of the country. Having emerged as the largest trading partner of Asia’s three largest economies — Japan, South Korea and India — and a major trading partner of ASEAN, China appears determined to combine its economic clout and its military potential to emerge as Asia’s dominant power. Apart from using its maritime strength to enforce its territorial claims in Asia-Pacific, China now seeks to become a dominant player in the sea-lanes of the Indian Ocean. Hence its proposal to the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet that in return for the recognition of American dominance in the eastern Pacific, the Americans should acknowledge that the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean Regions as China’s sphere of influence.

China’s growing belligerence on the border issue should be seen in this context of its determination to be the dominant power in Asia. Given Japan’s readiness to succumb to Chinese pressures, Beijing’s rulers see an emerging India, which shows the potential for rapid economic growth while being respected in the comity of nations as a stable democracy, as an irritant and challenge to its larger ambitions. The unresolved border issue serves as a useful tool to keep India on the edge and under pressure. China knows that no government in India can agree to its claims on populated areas like Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.

One of the greatest failures of China’s Communist revolution is that despite the Han Chinese constituting 91 per cent of the country’s population, the Chinese are paranoiac and insecure about their ability to handle 9 per cent of their minority population in the strategically important Buddhist-dominated Tibetan Autonomous Region and in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang province, despite bringing in Han settlers to reduce the indigenous populations to a minority. Tawang is seen as symbolically crucial in Chinese eyes as a centre of Buddhist spiritualism. By laying claim to the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, China puts India on the defensive, diplomatically and militarily, and seeks to influence gullible sections of the public in India to “compromise” on Tawang.

The Prime Minister told his Chinese counterpart in Thailand that India regarded the Dalai Lama as an “honoured guest” and a spiritual leader. Even as the dialogue with China continues, to maintain peace and tranquillity along our borders, India should not buckle under Chinese pressure, by reversing its decision on the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang. Firmness, together with restraint in rhetoric, and not appeasement, is required for dealing with a growingly jingoistic China.

Army last resort in rebel fight: Antony


Antony in Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

New Delhi, Oct. 28: Defence minister A.K. Antony is always emphatic in his rejections. There were two from him today: one unqualified and categorical, the other with a but-and-an-if.

“I can tell you categorically that there was and there is no question of (Indian) military involvement (in Iraq or Afghanistan) now or in future,” he shot back when pointed out that a top US Army general had said during war games this week that “I would be comfortable going with the Indian Army anywhere, anytime”.

Indian and US army mechanised forces are currently engaged in an exercise named “Yudh Abhyas” (preparing for war) at Babina near Jhansi.

In the same breath, almost, Antony rejected cabinet colleague Mamata Banerjee’s demand for an immediate deployment of the army in Lalgarh but said the Centre had intensified its monitoring of measures against Maoists.

The army was to be used only as “a last, last, last resort”. The army can only be called to aid the civil authority after a state government has requested.

In Bengal, despite the rejection of Mamata’s request, the issue of using the army against Naxalites is still open in the ruling CPM but not as favoured by its partners in the Left Front government.

CPM state secretariat member Benoy Konar had said in Calcutta on September 25: “Let the Centre decide and put the proposal before the state. But there is little scope for debate on this issue among us. The Maoists are operating as a regular army and they can be dealt with effectively by an army response.”

That was before the Maoists had abducted police officer Atindranath Dutta and the PCPA picketed the Rajdhani Express — both events hammering into Writers’ Buildings and North Block that security forces in Lalgarh have a long way to go. Antony said: “The government is aware of the seriousness of the Naxalite threat.” He even used the word “alarming” once but indicated that the Centre felt it had not yet crossed the threshold beyond which New Delhi would have to push the army into the troubled zones.

Antony’s re-statement today of not deploying army boots on the ground in the offensive against Naxalites reflects the views of the armed forces top brass. The Indian Air Force is already involved in the offensive and is set to create a task force for the purpose.

With heavy deployments in Jammu and Kashmir and in the Northeast, the army top brass are worried about being over-stretched if called to do duty in the hinterland.

But the defence minister has left the question open on what the Centre would do if the Bengal — or any other state — government were to formally request for army assistance.

“Law and order is the responsibility of the state governments and we are there only to give support. Whether in Bengal or any other area, our view is that employing armed forces for internal security is the last resort,” he said.

Antony was replying after being asked for his response to Mamata Banerjee’s request to the Union home minister P. Chidambaram in Delhi on Tuesday. The Trinamul leader and railway minister said she had told the home minister: “Don’t use the assistance of the state government to combat Maoists. Only use the army for the task.”

Contrasting with Antony’s qualified statement on using the army in internal security “only as a last resort” was his categorical denial of the suggestion that Indian troops may operate alongside US forces in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. The question arose because of the largest army exercise now on with troops, tanks and armoured vehicles.

Taming Pakistan Army

B G Verghese

First Published : 29 Oct 2009 11:04:00 PM IST

Last Updated : 29 Oct 2009 01:08:02 AM IST

Is Pakistan’s rogue army in the process of being tamed at last? Hopefully so. A few ‘nationalist’ commentators and angry men in khaki have suddenly voiced anxiety and anger over the Kerry-Lugar Bill adopted by the US Congress last month and now awaiting presidential signature to become law. Someone in Washington at last appears to have blown the whistle after years and even decades of political fraud and military double cross in Pakistan that has brought the country to its knees and strangled democracy.

Dossiers seem to make for light reading in Islamabad these days. But one such American dossier currently doing the rounds has been wounding. It says that of $12 billion given to Pakistan in aid between 2002 and 2008, including $6.6 bn of military assistance, only $500 m reached the military to fight terror. The rest was diverted to strengthen the military, bolster terror against India and subsidise Musharraf’s failing economy to make the dictator look good. The Americans cite Pakistani generals, bureaucrats and ministers as sources. More culpable are they as they willingly turned away from the truth to prop up the ‘frontline state’ in all its ugly capers for decades – something US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, termed as the ‘incoherence’ of US AfPak policy. India bore huge collateral damage in blood and treasure and was repeatedly advised ‘restraint’ by Washington.

Even as Pakistan stabbed India in the back at Kargil with practised ease and the usual diversionary tales repeated since 1947, while A Q Khan cheerfully proliferated to all and sundry, not least, China, Bill Clinton sold his biographer, Taylor Branch, a grim fairy tale as reported after the volume was released in New York last month. He said India and Pakistan were very casual about talking about nuking one another during the Kargil war.

Now that its AfPak policy has begun to hurt it, the Americans are wiser. The Kerry-Lugar Bill sets out the conditions on which alone the US will give $7.5 bn economic assistance to Pakistan over the next five years together with an undisclosed but substantial quantum of military assistance to fight terror. The conditions are spelt in the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Enhanced Cooperation (PEACE) Act. This calls for annual certification by the US Secretary of State that Pakistan is abiding by nuclear non-proliferation norms and provides ‘relevant information’ and direct access to nodal players and agencies. The secretary must also certify Pakistan’s remaining commitment to the war on terror and has ceased supporting terror groups striking at US forces and neighbours (India).

More galling, annual certification will assess whether any resources have been diverted to nuclear proliferation, the degree of civil control over military and defence expenditure and the extent of any military nexus with the civil administration. The clear purpose is to shield governance from military dominance and to break the military-mullah stranglehold over civil-democratic rule. While President Zardari and his government are for the PEACE Act, the military and sundry ideologues are agitated. Unfortunately, the ML(N) of Nawaz Sharif is reported to be lukewarm. Pakistan must shed military dominance once and for all and shed the obscurantist tyranny of its rabidly Islamist Wahabi mullahs and return to the humanistic Sufi Islam of the sub-continent.

Meanwhile, the second bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul follows General McChrystal’s warning that India’s growing popularity in Afghanistan on account of its beneficial reconstruction and humanitarian aid might invite Pakistani ‘countermeasures’. Close on its heels, the Southern Taliban in Punjab struck at GHQ in Rawalpindi in an embarrassing standoff.

Back home, the Maoist offensive has reached new heights of barbarity and mindless violence epitomised in the bestial beheading of a police official in Jharkhand. No theory of ‘class annihilation’ can explain or extenuate this kind of savagery. Suggestions that the anti-Naxal operations be militarised have been firmly rejected and the Union home minister has stated that the Maoists will be firmly dealt with and rooted out but that the government is ready to open a dialogue on grievances and development issues if they lay down arms. This is the right course.

The government’s approach, however, continues to lean towards prioritising law and order in the belief that unless areas and communities are secure, development cannot move forward. This is only partly true. There is still an imperfect understanding of the underlying problems at many levels, official, political, media and public. Poverty and deprivation hurt, and widening disparities anger. But what rankles most is the denial of dignity and social justice, both solemn constitutional promises.

The Fifth Schedule and PESA, which constitute a social contract with tribal India, have been blatantly violated in letter and spirit to this day and the elaborate machinery established for their implementation, monitoring and evaluation callously disregarded. Governor’s reports, as mandated, are routine, low-grade documents written by lowly functionaries to satisfy a constitutional requirement. There is little evidence of ground truthing, analysis and application of mind. The reports are often delayed by years and are never debated. The whole exercise has been reduced to a farce. Administrative structures and personnel in the Fifth Schedule areas are often unsuited to the tasks in hand and incapable of delivering development. These issues have simply not been addressed. The failure has been comprehensive, continuing and criminal. No one has been held accountable for this despite desperate appeals by commissions, concerned individuals and groups.

The Centre cannot pass the buck to the states. Both are equally responsible. Nor can or should each blame the other. They have a shared responsibility and need to act in concert. NGOs should now come forward to try and promote reconciliation, starting, if need be, in limited peace zones, so designated by mutual agreement and subject to certain ground rules, with no display or use of arms by the Naxals, and monitored by independent, non-partisan peace committees composed of men and women of goodwill who enjoy trust and respect on all sides. Schools and health centres would be natural foci of such peace zones.

Why not the Centre take the initiative through a national broadcast by the prime minister followed up by a more specific invitation to dialogue by some chief ministers, Such broadcasts would obviously need to be preceded by discussion and formulation of a strategy to develop peace, justice and development with informed civil society inputs. This would be a policy of democratic strength, not of weakness.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

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L&T pact with EADS held up in FDI cap war

27 Oct 2009, 0109 hrs IST, G Ganapathy Subramaniam, ET Now

The proposed JV between Larsen & Toubro and European giant EADS has become a test case for indirect FDI in sensitive sectors, such as

defence, which have a sectoral FDI cap.

The government has said that FDI in holding companies will not be taken into account for the purpose of calculating foreign investment in a subsidiary if majority in the holding company is held by Indian residents.

However, the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has not taken a decision on the L&T-EADS joint-venture despite repeated discussions since July, as the defence ministry is opposed to the proposal. The defence ministry has argued that the way the corporate arrangement is structured, the venture will breach the sectoral FDI cap of 26% in defence.

The L&T-EADS joint venture, a rare case of FDI in defence, is to manufacture high profile items like military avionics, mobile systems, radars and electronic warfare equipment. EADS is to hold 24.5% stake in the venture while 51% stake will be with L&T Technologies, a fully-owned arm of L&T.

The two partners plan to float another JV, which will hold 24.5% stake in the defence equipment manufacturing company. The second joint venture will deal in design, engineering and product development services, with L&T holding 51% stake and EADS owning 49%. Since EADS will own 49% in the second venture which will hold 24.5% in the manufacturing JV, the defence ministry feels that the sectoral FDI cap of 26% is being breached.

Despite several clarifications, the defence ministry is not convinced, according to highly-placed government sources who do not wish to be identified. “MoD (ministry of defence) has not supported the proposal on the grounds that ownership pattern of the proposed JV is violative of the sectoral cap of 26% in defence....,” the sources quoted FIPB as concluding in its meeting on October 9 when the JV proposal was last discussed.

The defence ministry also sought FIPB’s clearance for further examination of the proposal and it was deferred, the sources said. The proposal is likely to be taken up by FIPB again on October 30.

DIPP also said that the services JV should be owned and controlled by resident Indian citizens and the powers to legally direct the actions of the company should vest with Indian citizens and Indian companies which are owned and controlled by Indian citizens. The essence of Press Note 2 should be incorporated in the articles of association and the memorandum of understanding so that the two JVs are not controlled by foreigners, goes the argument.

Press Note 2 has been a bone of contention ever since it was issued, with the Reserve Bank raising objections and the finance ministry seeking clarifications.

DIPP has maintained that there is no need for clarifications and all the issues that are being raised now were discussed before the decision was taken.

Gurkha soldiers return after Afghanistan tour

25 October, 2009 09:22:00 AFP

Nepalese soldiers from The Royal Gurkha Rifles returned Sunday to their base in Britain and the arms of their families after a gruelling tour of duty in Afghanistan.

More than 100 Gurkhas from Foxtrot Company, drawn from the regiment's 1st and 2nd Battalions returned to Sir John Moore Barracks in Folkestone.

They were each presented with a khada ceremonial scarf and some soldiers sang Nepalese songs as they reunited with their loved ones.

Foxtrot Company deployed to Afghanistan in April and mentored the Afghan National Police across the troubled southern Helmand Province, where British troops are battling Taliban insurgents.

Corporal Kumar Pun, 31, of 1st Battalion, was killed in a suicide bombing in Gereshk in May alongside Sergeant Ben Ross of the Royal Military Police.

"The boys did an outstanding job in Afghanistan in difficult circumstances, not only because of the environment they were in but also because of the enemy threat," said Major Chris Conroy, commanding officer of Foxtrot Company.

"Clearly it was a great shame to lose Corporal Pun and Sergeant Ross but on deploying we knew the threat that we were undertaking."

During their deployment, the British government retreated and announced that all Gurkha veterans with four years' service would be allowed to settle in Britain.

About 200,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in World Wars I and II and more than 45,000 have died in British uniform. Around 3,500 currently serve in the British army, including in Afghanistan

Fruitful talk with China: Krishna
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, October 27
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna today said India and China would celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries in a befitting manner in 2010.

Reading out from a written statement, Krishna, who was briefing reporters here after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, said he had a warm meeting with the Beijing representative lasting for around 90 minutes.

“We had a fruitful exchange of views covering all aspects of our bilateral ties,” Krishna said. He said they discussed the usefulness of such high-level exchanges for enhancing trade and economic relations between the two countries and also for promoting contact between the defence forces of the two neighbours.

Fruitful talk with China: Krishna
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, October 27
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna today said India and China would celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries in a befitting manner in 2010.

Reading out from a written statement, Krishna, who was briefing reporters here after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, said he had a warm meeting with the Beijing representative lasting for around 90 minutes.

“We had a fruitful exchange of views covering all aspects of our bilateral ties,” Krishna said. He said they discussed the usefulness of such high-level exchanges for enhancing trade and economic relations between the two countries and also for promoting contact between the defence forces of the two neighbours.

Senior Pakistan army officer shot

Chitranjan Sawant

Tue, Oct 27, 2009 17:14:23 IST

THE NATIONAL capital of Pakistan, Islamabad is safe no more. One may recall that last week a senior Army officer and his driver were killed in the capital in broad daylight. The officer had come on leave from Sudan where he was on UN Peace Mission.

Of course, before going there, he was the Deputy Director general (Military Operations) and was actively involved in planning the South Waziristan operation against the Taliban terrorists. Perhaps he was a marked man since then.

This morning (October 27), a serving army brigadier in plain clothes and his mother while returning from the local bank in an army vehicle with service markings, was fired upon by a young man. Both he and his mother survived but the window panes of the car were shattered. Panic spread in the area.

There were eye witnesses but their accounts of the event differed materially because they had lost coherence in thought and speech. The terrorists are gaining ascendancy and the commonman is cowering.

Defence acquisitions to be made more transparent

Agencies, Tuesday October 27, 2009, New Delhi

The government will roll out a new defence procurement policy (DPP) Nov 1 in a bid to promote the Indian defence industry and bring transparency in acquisitions, Defence Minister A K Antony said Tuesday.

The reviewed DPP would also aim to promote joint ventures between foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Indian companies.

"We are ready to promulgate DPP-2009 with effect from Nov 1," Antony said at a seminar on defence acquisition.

Under the DPP 2009:

* Broad contours of the 15-year armed forces acquisition plan will be made public

* Requests for Information (RFIs) on all acquisitions will be displayed on the Defence Ministry's website

* The role of independent monitors will be increaded to ensure probity in defence deals

Anti-Naxal Ops
1,000 GPS sets for CRPF combat teams

New Delhi, October 27
The CRPF, which is all set to launch a major offensive against the Naxals across the country, is procuring 1,000 Global Positioning System (GPS) sets to be primarily provided to its combat teams.

The GPS has been specifically procured for executing the new action plan of striking at Naxal hideouts, official sources said. The GPS devices will help the personnel to obtain the much-needed navigational help in dense jungles and all such unknown terrains, a CRPF officer said.

The devices would be fed with all the domestic coordinates of the country and would also support world data, he said. The gadget would act as an aid to the existing wireless communications and signals of the force. The CRPF has an independent signals battalion to look after the logistical and communication needs of combat troops.

According to officials, the difficult terrain combined with bad weather in dense jungles hampers the operations. The new hand-held devices would also help patrol parties, which lose their way. A GPS set delivers reliable positioning, navigation and timing services to worldwide users at all times and in all weather conditions. — PTI.

Differences between DoT, MoD over spectrum continue to persist

Press Trust of India / New Delhi October 27, 2009, 16:41 IST

After announcing that 3G spectrum would be auctioned on January 14 next year, Telecom Minister A Raja has sought Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's help to resolve persisting differences with the Defence Ministry.

"I would like to point out that the differences between Department of Telecom (DoT) and Ministry of Defence on the 3G spectrum available for auction still persist, and hence, we have not mentioned actual frequencies of the spectrum to be auctioned in the revised Information Memorandum," he informed Mukherjee in a letter, the second in the last 10 days.

The DoT issued the Information Memorandum last week, saying auction would start on January 14 and for this to happen, the blocks of spectrum to be auctioned must be identified latest by the first week of December.

According to Raja's letter, the government would get the revenue, pegged at Rs 25,000 crore, during February next year, provided the auction is held as per schedule.

"I understand that a fast track mechanism is being put in place to sort out the differences between DoT and MoD so that 3G auction can take place in this financial year," the minister said in the letter.

The DoT, which is currently in the eye of a storm over alleged irregularities in 2G spectrum allocation, has allowed foreign entities to participate in the auction process subject to existing FDI rules and guidelines.

New Defence Procurement Policy on Nov 1

Press Trust of India / New Delhi October 27, 2009, 14:18 IST

India will bring out its new Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) on November 1 to promote joint ventures or co-production arrangements for big foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with domestic firms. The new policy will incorporate changes in the DPP-2008 released last September.

Defence Minister A K Antony told a seminar on defence acquisition here that the current review in DPP, which would be carried out annually instead of once in two years, aims at "promoting and facilitating" Indian industry and "transparency and integrity" in defence acquisitions.

"We have, as per our resolve to revise the DPP annually, reviewed the DPP and are ready to promulgate DPP-2009 with effect from November 1, 2009. The current review is primarily focused on two essential areas of promoting and facilitating wide participation of defence industry and enabling transparency and integrity in acquisitions," he said.

Under DPP-2008, the tender papers were issued only to foreign vendors, who are required to transfer technology to an Indian defence industry, called Production Agency, under 'Buy and Make' category.

"This does not promote setting up of joint venture or co-production arrangements in India by big foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer.

"In order to obviate the above shortcoming, a new category — Buy and Make (Indian) — is being introduced, which allows issue of Request for Proposals (RFP) to Indian industries having requisite financial and technical capabilities to absorb technology and undertake indigenous manufacture through transfer of technology and not through research and development," Antony said.

To ensure transparency and enhance awareness among Indian industry, the Defence Ministry will share the armed forces' 15-year Long Term Acquisition Plan, a public version at that, on its website that would enable them to work out technological requirements and build in-house capabilities to meet future defence needs.

Apart from putting up all Request for Information (RFI) on the website, the Ministry would also invite industry representatives for consultations and presentations during high-level procurement meetings before a decision is taken on the source and methodology for procurement of defence weapons and equipment.

For maintaining probity in defence procurement deals, the Ministry would also increase the role of independent monitors to scrutinise complaints of any violation of Integrity Pact that prohibits corruption.

The new DPP, to facilitate discharge of offset obligations, has incorporated an enabling clause to permit change of offset partners in exceptional cases, Antony said, adding the option clause has been amplified to state that the offsets would not be applicable in cases where the same was not included in the original contract.

Pointing out that the offset policy in defence acquisition was expected to bring $10 billion by the end of current plan period, Antony said India had emerged as a large defence market and this was evident from the fact that the government had provided for about $8.5 billion for capital acquisition in the defence budget this financial year and over the next five to six years, would allocated nearly $50 billion as budgetary provision.

8 U.S. Deaths in Afghanistan Make Grim Milestone


KABUL, Afghanistan — Eight Americans died in combat in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, bringing October’s total to 53 and making it the deadliest month for Americans in the eight-year war. September and October were both deadlier months over all for NATO troops.

The service members, along with an Afghan interpreter accompanying them, were killed and an undisclosed number of troops were injured in several attacks involving “multiple, complex” improvised bombs, according to a statement from the NATO-led coalition.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said Taliban fighters had blown up two armored vehicles carrying the troops near Zabul Province. He also said that the Taliban had engaged in a fierce firefight with the Afghan police in Zabul and killed eight officers. His report could not be verified.

On Monday, two helicopter crashes led to the deaths of 11 American service members and three drug enforcement agents, but hostile fire was almost certainly not a factor in those cases, according to a military spokesman.

The October toll of 53 American soldiers killed exceeds that of August, when 51 died, according to, a Web site that tracks military losses in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The United States has been increasing the number of soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan and many have gone into some of the toughest areas of the country. Southern Afghanistan has been the most contested ground with both locally based insurgents and fighters that cross the border from Pakistan.

“A loss like this is extremely difficult for the families as well as for those who served alongside these brave service members,” said Capt. Jane Campbell of the Navy, a spokeswoman for the international troops.

President Obama is deliberating whether to send more troops to Afghanistan and whether to undertake a full counterinsurgency strategy, which requires a larger commitment of resources. The American public is split on whether to send more troops.

Also on Tuesday, the American and NATO-led forces said an Army plane that had been missing since Oct. 13 was found last Wednesday with the remains of three civilian crew members in the high mountains of northeastern Afghanistan over Nuristan Province.

Antony to visit Japan next month

TNN 27 October 2009, 04:44am IST

NEW DELHI: With both India and Japan keen to bolster the strategic and military element in their bilateral ties, defence minister A K Antony will be visiting Tokyo early next month.

Antony, who will leave for Japan on November 8, will hold talks with his Japanese counterpart to discuss ways to boost military ties in fields ranging from counter-terrorism and anti-piracy measures to defence R&D and training.

India is pursuing a "mutually beneficial" defence relationship with Japan to tackle regional and global security challenges, a defence ministry official said on Monday.

"We have common concerns about extremism, terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Piracy is another major issue of worry. The navies and coast guards of the two countries are already exercising together to learn from each other and build interoperability," he added.

The two countries have already enhanced their cooperation in combating piracy on the high seas, both bilaterally as well as under the framework of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.

India and Japan are also apprehensive about the long-term intentions of China, which has rapidly modernised its 2.25-million People's Liberation Army.

'Privatisation of OFs will compromise nation's security'

28 October 2009, 04:47am IST

CHANDRAPUR: General secretary of All-India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) C Shrikumar, expressed concern over Union Government's plans to privatise the defence units and ordinance factories. He is here to participate in 23rd national convention of AIDEF that began on Tuesday evening at Ordnance Factory, Chanda, located near Bhadrawati.

Interacting with media persons in Chandrapur on the eve of inauguration of convention Shrikumar said, "The issue is related to security of country, hence AIDEF is opposed to privatisation of defence units. The privatisation of ordnance factories may compromise the safety and security of the country."

He informed that there are around 40 ordnance factories in the country off which Maharashtra alone has 10. These ordnance factories supply key ammunition used in army, navy and other government security agencies. There are around 4.5 lakh employees working in ordnance factories and other defence units across the country. "All the workers are opposed to privatisation of the ordnance factories and employees union is all set to take up agitation for the same," he said.

He alleged that private players in defence supply are infested with corruption. Union defence minister has banned seven such companies, which include five Indian and two foreign companies, he claimed adding that privatisation would make these defense units susceptible to corruption. "However the worker unions will not let such designs materialise," he vowed.

He informed that other employees' related problems such as anomalies in recommendations sixth pay commission, recruitment on vacant post, 100% appointments on compassionate grounds, etc will also be discussed at the length and charter of demands drafted in the convention will be forwarded to defense minister AK Antony, he said.

Around 500 representatives from across the country are expected to participate in the convention, he claimed.

Army is all set to induct 124 Arjun tanks

PUNE: After repeated trials and a huge budget overrun, a total of 124 Arjun Main Battle Tanks (MBT) are all set to be inducted into the armoury of the Indian Army by April next year, said Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist and chief controller (R&D) Dr W Selvamurthy.

He was speaking at the valedictory ceremony of the 13th Post Induction Training School (POINTS-13) programme held at the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) here on Monday.

Outlining the contribution of the DRDO in shaping various aspects of the weaponry of the Indian armed forces, he said, “The Arjun MBT is a state-of-the-art battle tank designed and developed by the Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), Avadi in Tamil Nadu. Besides, the ordered tanks are in various stages of production at the moment and would be inducted in a phased manner.”

Urging new scientists to undertake path breaking research in the defence sector, Dr Selvemurthy said, “You need to go for out-of-the-box thinking to scale new heights in defence research and innovation. As the vision of the DRDO is to empower India with superior technology in the field of strategic defence, which the nation has seen from time to time.”

Delivering the valedictory address, chief guest and director, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Professor Samir K Brahmachari said that defence scientists should develop technologies that can be used for civilian purpose.

He further said, “Scientists in India are categorised as strategic scientists and those for civilian applications. Hence, how to utilise strategic technology for civilian purpose would be a challenge for the budding DRDO scientists.” He said that DRDO has risen on several occasions by providing vital expertise in the field of ballistic missiles and propellant technology, which speaks volumes about the contribution it made in the cause of nation building.


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