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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 27 Oct 09

Indian Express

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Indian Express

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Indian Express

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Indian Express

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DNA India

NATO choppers collide in Afghan airspace

Chitranjan Sawant

Mon, Oct 26, 2009 16:02:12 IST

THE NATO choppers in Afghanistan were on an urgent military mission. They had a full load of arms and ammunition besides soldiers on a military mission. Time was short, because the aim had to be achieved and the objective had to be captured before the deadline set by higher commanders.

Everything is said or told on a need to know basis. To pursue a war and end it with success, the officers and soldiers on a side should be told only what they need to know to fulfill the job requirement. There is no need to give out additional information to those who do not need it. Thus, these soldiers did not know where they were heading for. They only knew that a detailed briefing would be done by the mission-in-charge while they were in the air.

And who was the enemy? It was the Taliban terrorist creating chaos where the NATO presence had not been registered. After all, no army formation can deploy a soldier on every inch of the territory where the enemy operates. This was enough for the time being.

The fleet of helicopter gunships had their engines revved up. Each machine was waiting for the signal on the radio telephony to go. As soon as the green signal was given,the helicopter gunships that looked like mini-fortresses in the sky took off. A lot of dirt and dust was kicked off and the roar of engines put together sounded like a mini Tsunami in a land-locked country like Afghanistan.

Undeniably there was a little nervousness in the air and in the cockpit too. In the nervousness, one pilot veered a little too much to the right and another to the left. Their helicopters touched each other in a light kiss. But that was enough to cause an accident. Fortunately there were not many soldiers on board as these choppers carried supplies for the troops who were going into action.

There were four US soldiers dead in this accident in the air. The NATO command was quick to confirm that the accident did not take place because of hostile fire.

Armies of India, US display military might
Biggest ever joint exercise ends with America hinting at seeking New Delhi’s support
Ajay Banerjee writes from Babina (UP)

Denials about the intention of sending a “strategic message” notwithstanding, the Indian and US armies today concluded their biggest ever joint military exercise amidst a display of brutal firepower using top-of-the-line weaponry.

This indicated at an improved comfort level between the two armies. The fact that T-90 tanks, latest combat vehicles, anti-tank missiles, choppers and UAVs were used in the exercise, code named ‘Yudh Abhyaas-09’, suggest the methods of hitting out the “enemy”. This was the first time that US and India had jointly deployed its mechanised infantry in an exercise.

As expected, this time too the top brass of Indian and US armies played safe with their words: “There is no message (for China or Pakistan) in the exercise. We are just conducting a training exercise.”

However, the growing trust between the two armies was visible. Lt Gen Benjamin R Mixon, Commander of US Army, Pacific, and head of the US delegation, when asked if Indian forces were capable of being deployed alongside US troops in Afghhanistan or Iraq, said: “A decision in this regard has to be made by the Indian government… We will be comfortable going with the Indian Army anywhere, anytime.”

The Indian Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), Lt Gen AS Sekhon, while replying on whether the exercise was part of counter-insurgency operations, clarified: “We are not training for joint operations and nor is this exercise for any specific contingency within India. This is part of an exercise for peacekeeping operations under the UN charter.”

In the morning, the US troops, most of whom have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, showed the easy to use technique to fire its anti-tank “javelin” missile. The same is used extensively by US. The Indian Army, however, presently uses the French-made Milan anti-tank missile. The US Army also fielded its combat vehicle, ‘sryker’, which is being used in Afghanistan.

As part of the firepower today, the forces were given a target. The 20 sq km firing range was divided into three make-believe countries -- Jhansi, Karera and Datia -- which the troops were to get vacated from the “enemy” and also ensure peacekeeping. The US troops used a camera-fitted UAV, which was packed in small backpack. The hand-held UAV, controlled from the ground, flew over the area and conveyed a real time picture for the ground troops to fire with precision.

The historic exercise was held at Babina, which draws its name from history. In fact, Babina is an abbreviation for British army’s base in North Asia.

CAT stay on military probe raises debate
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
A court of inquiry (COI) has yet to start proceedings even after several months of it was ordered to investigate into the allegations of large-scale irregularities in military farms in Jammu and Kashmir.

One of the civilian employees whose name figures in the matter has obtained a stay from the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) against the COI’s convening order. This has also raised a legal question whether the CAT has the jurisdiction over the orders issued by the armed forces over issues pertaining to the functioning of military personnel and establishments.

Acting upon official reports, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, had ordered the COI in June, with directions that its findings be submitted by October 30. Irregularities in the supply of fresh milk for troops, fraudulent hiring of civilian vehicles, lapses in procurement of fodder for animals, recruitment of permanent employees in violation of government policies and some controversy pertaining to construction of buildings are the issues to be investigated by the COI.

Besides Army personnel, MFs also employ civilians at various positions. Army sources said they were examining the legal implications of the CAT’s stay order.

Sources said the COI was not ordered specifically against any civilian employee, but to examine the overall functioning of some military farms.

The Chief of Staff of the Nagrota-based 16 Corps had been detailed as the COI presiding officer, with two Brigadiers as its members. Given the scale of procurement and the time frame over which the alleged irregularities were taking place, the financial misappropriation could run into crores of rupees. There are five military farms in J&K. Different irregularities were found at different farms. Sources said a number of witnesses, including some senior officers were moved to J&K to depose before the COI. Since the COI did not assemble for even a single day, it resulted in wasteful expenditure and loss of man-hours.

Another case concerning a Colonel from the military farms had been hanging fire since 2006, sources said. He had been held blameworthy for lack of supervision by a COI that assembled in 2006 and although summary of evidence was ordered about a year ago, the case was yet to be disposed of.

General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University :

Making professionals for the Tri-Services

Prof. Ranjith B. Mapa

The General Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy was established in 1981 and elevated to a University in 1986. More than 1,600 undergraduate and 140 postgraduate degrees have been awarded by General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) during the past 28 years. KDU offers nine undergraduate degree programs in Defence Studies and related Post Graduate Degrees. Among them, five degree programs lead to Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Engineering, namely Mechanical, Marine, Electrical and Electronic, Civil and Aeronautical Engineering.

Students at a class in Aeronautical Engineering at KDU

This is the only university in Sri Lanka offering Bachelor of Science Degrees in Marine and Aeronautical Engineering. The remaining three undergraduate defence study programs consist of Bachelor of Science in Management and Technical Sciences (MTS), Bachelor of Arts (B.A) and Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com). In addition, 25 cadets are following the MBBS Degree at University of Ruhuna, and will join their counterparts when its own Medical Faculty is established by KDU at Ratmalana.

The Post Graduate Degree program offers Master of Science, (Defence Studies) in Management for middle and senor level Service and Police officers. While the cadets following engineering degrees study at KDU for three consecutive years and spend six to 12 months in their respective academies (Diyathalawa, Trincomalee, Welisara, Katunayake and Ratmalana) the others spend two years at KDU and one year in their respective military academies.

The past

The KDU completes 28 years of dedicated service to Mother Lanka. It was first established as a result of the requests made by the commanders of Three Armed Forces to set up such an institute for the young officers. Subsequently, a study team visited the Indian National Defence Academy and the Indian Naval Academy, and proposed setting up a Defence Academy of similar structure in Sri Lanka. The need for a suitable location to house the Academy was expressed to the third prime Minister of Sri Lanka, General Sir John Kotelawala by the then Army Commander.

Major General JED Perera. Sir John Kotelawala willingly donated his Kandawala estate of 48 areas at Ratmalana, 12 kilometres from Colombo. This donation paved the way to establish the academy which was ceremonially opened by the then President J.R. Jayewardene on the Army day of October 11, 1980, and was named as General Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy (KDA).

The first batch of cadets was enlisted to KDU in March 1981, where Col CAMN Silva was appointed the founder commandant. The admission and academic program for the initial three intakes were supervised by the then University Grants Commission Chairman, Prof. Stanley Kalpage and the Vice Chancellors of Colombo and Moratuwa Universities, Professors Stanley Wijesundara and C. Patuvatawithana, respectively.

The first intake consisted of 34 cadets where 13 attended the B.Sc. Degree Program in Physical Science at the Colombo University while the balance followed the B.Sc. Engineering Degree program at Moratuwa University. In 1985, for the first time KDA advertised for the enlistment of Service Cadets to follow its Defence Studies Degree Programs where Part I was conducted at KDA.

The cadets proceeded to their respective service academies to undergo the Part II of the training in the second year and returned to KDA to complete the final component of Part III. In 1986, the KDA was elevated to University status enabling it to confer Degrees in Defence Studies to officer cadets who successfully complete the program and the first convocation was held in 1991. In 1996, KDA obtained the membership of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (UK) by maintaining standards required for educating and grooming officer cadets to meet the challenges of modern defence management.

KDU enlisted two cadets form Bangladesh in year 2000 paving its way for international recognition. Thereafter, many cadets from SAARC countries were enlisted. Another milestone was achieved in 2001, when the university initiated the Master of Science (Defence Studies) Degree in Management for middle and senior level Service and Police officers. Even though the academy was elevated to university status in 1986, the name remained as General Sir Kotelawala Defence Academy. The ceremonial renaming of the academy to General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University took place on October 11, 2007 by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.


Sri Lankan citizens between the age of 18 to 22 are admitted to KDU according to the eligibility criteria for university admission by the Commissioner General of Examination and fulfilling the requirements of at least an ‘S’ grade for all three approved subjects in GCE (A/L) examination, a pass in the common eligibility test for University admission and a minimum of a Credit Pass in English at the G.C.E (O/L) Examination.

In addition, they should possess minimum physical standards in height, weight and chest, and show the required levels of physical and mental stamina. The entry requirements and other details are advertised in national newspapers, gazette as well as appear in the KDU web site A new batch of cadets is enlisted to KDU during the third quarter of each year.

During the initial four months cadets undergo an intensive course in English and a rigorous military orientation phase. They are provided with free uniforms, spacious housing and food in addition to a considerable living allowance during the undergraduate time. This year (intake 27) 195 cadets were enlisted, which was the highest number admitted to a single batch during the history of KDU.

The writer is Director, Academic Studies, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, Ratmalana

The US & Afghan trap

Gilles Dorronsoro

IN Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s view, the key to success in Afghanistan is to “secure the population.” The thinking is that the populated area of the country, largely the Pashtun belt in the south and the east, must be cleared of Taleban insurgents. Concurrently, the US must win hearts and minds through local development projects. Over time, with enough US troops, the population will come to feel protected and the insurgents will be marginalized.

So goes the plan. But after eight years of war, this approach is surprisingly ignorant of both the realities of Afghan society and the limitations of America’s tolerance for casualties.

I was in Afghanistan during the summer, as 20,000 coalition troops tried to retake Helmand province, one of 11 provinces now under de-facto Taleban control. But over three months, during which they sustained significant casualties, the troops failed to take control of even one-third of the area. The coalition had built an archipelago of small outposts, leaving much of the territory between unsecured. As one Afghan told me in Kandahar, “The Americans control what they see.” Imagine how many troops — and how many casualties — it would take to secure every one of those provinces, even under the most promising circumstances.

History is not encouraging. In two centuries, the Pashtuns have never once tolerated a permanent presence of armed foreigners. Defending families and villages is a cultural duty of local men, and the presence of outsiders is generally perceived as a threat, especially when they are non-Muslim. Historical memories are long in this part of the world. Some Afghans still say prayers for Mujahedeen who fought against the British — in the 19th century.

Because the Afghan culture highly values politeness, Westerners rarely understand how unpopular they are in the region. Locals are annoyed by the road-hogging conduct of NATO patrols. They have a suspicion of men wearing sunglasses. They are outraged at the mistreatment of prisoners and the killings of civilians.

In the countryside, Westerners are essentially perceived as corrupt and threatening to traditional Afghan or Muslim values. Contrary to our self-perception, the villagers see the foreigners as the main providers of insecurity. The presence of coalition troops means IEDs, ambushes and airstrikes, and consequently a higher probability of being killed, maimed or robbed of a livelihood. Any incident quickly reinforces the divide between locals and outsiders, and the Afghan media provide extensive and graphic coverage of botched airstrikes and injured civilians.

The cultural misunderstandings between the Pashtuns and Western forces provide fodder for the Taleban. Its members have capitalized on Afghans’ natural distrust of outsiders to propagate conspiracy theories, including the claim that the Americans are helping the Taleban to give themselves an excuse to stay in the country and exploit its natural resources.

Even the US attempts at soft power are largely failing. There is a worrisome correlation between the amount of aid for civilian projects per capita and the strength of the insurgency. Helmand province receives the highest amount per capita — $250 a year, which is still not a lot, compared with the Balkans — but it has the highest level of coalition casualties. The first Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, based in Gardez, has spent tens of millions dollars helping the local population, but the Taleban have captured the area, and US troops are basically unable to move outside their posts without huge security measures.

Funding reconstruction programs in places dominated by the insurgency fuels the war economy and thus the Taleban itself. In August, one Afghan contractor in Kandahar told me that in order to work outside the city, he had to pay hundreds of dollars a month to local insurgents. In addition, the population can easily reap the benefits of reconstruction programs and still support the insurgency. Not far from Kabul, some members of a Western-funded shura (tribal council) were recently unable to participate in a session because of wounds suffered in battle against coalition forces the previous night.

Aid always has the potential to create trouble. Contrary to what is often supposed, an Afghan village is rarely a “community,” in the sense that its residents are accustomed to working together toward common goals. Afghans are much more individualistic than that. Foreign aid imposes cooperation at a local level, creating tensions about how to define projects. (Should we build a school or a clinic? An irrigation system or a road?) These processes can easily upset local hierarchies, creating lasting resentment.

Frankly, we don’t have the human resources to do work of this kind. Very few Westerners speak a local language, and it is too much to expect soldiers carrying heavy packs to have sustained contact with the population in hostile villages, where the threat of IEDs is always present. The population rarely confronts foreigners directly — it is not polite — but it pursues indirect means of negotiation and fighting.

What, then, of “an Afghan partner”? The Afghan police force, the crucial element in any counterinsurgency strategy, remains weak, routinely infiltrated by the Taleban and rarely able to help the coalition. Without local help, US troops cannot distinguish between civilians and Taleban, most of whom are locals anyway.

NATO’s current projections of building a 250,000-strong Afghan Army are not realistic. To build an army of 150,000 by 2015 would be a good result. But with troop levels like that, pursuing McChrystal’s counterinsurgency plan will require the majority of the coalition’s forces in Afghanistan for the next 10 years. So far this year, 130 coalition troops have died trying to implement this “clear, hold and build” strategy in Helmand, with no results so far.

If the White House heeds McChrystal’s advice and sends more troops to the south and east of Afghanistan in hopes of retaking Pashtun population centers, American casualties will likely rise above 800 a year, about what they were in the worst years in Iraq. This will leave President Barack Obama with worse choices and fewer options.

To succeed, the coalition must focus on securing Afghanistan’s cities, where institution-building can take place and the population is neutral or even favorable to the coalition. The Afghan Army and, in certain cases, small militias must protect cities, towns and the roads linking them.

Fewer casualties will buy the coalition time to build up the Afghan security forces, stabilizing the country and allowing it to focus on Al-Qaeda, the enemy that attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

* Army to equip its SF with GPS wrist watches in J-K

Anil Bhatt

Jammu, Oct 26 (PTI) Army is all set to equip its special forces with Global Positioning System (GPS) wrist watches to help them in operations against militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

With the aim of giving special forces a technological edge over militants, Northern command headquarters had recently floated tenders for the purchase of high-tech multi-utility GPS wrist watches, defence sources said.

In the first phase, 120 such GPS watches would be procured for special forces and sealed bids - both technical and commercial have been invited from the bidders in this regard.

Dozens of GPS devices have been recovered from infiltrating militants during encounters along the Line of Control (LoC) during the past year, they said.

"Militants are frequently using GPS devices for infiltration and reaching their guides along LoC. The watches are used by militants for navigation", the sources said.

In my last article, I reported on my discussion with Col (retd) Brian Cloughley, a historian of the Pakistani Army, about the latter’s combat effectiveness. In this article I conclude that conversation by talking about the army’s future.

I asked him whether the army will be facing the same threats five years out as it does now. After protesting that he did not have a crystal ball, he noted that terrorism will continue to be a threat ‘and there will almost certainly be a continuing requirement for the army to police the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. As to the Indian threat — who knows? The nationalist extremists are now on the outer in India, but this could change. And the Indians are resolutely refusing to engage in dialogue, so there can be no dropping of guard’.

I asked if a time would come when Indians and Pakistanis will have routine exchanges of general officers and maybe even hold joint training exercises. After all, no less a military figure than President Field Marshal Ayub Khan had offered a joint defence pact to President Nehru in the late 1950s.

Brian said he very much doubted it and reminded me that Nehru had countered Ayub by saying: ‘Joint against whom?’ He said Nehru thought he was being clever but instead he was being arrogant and short-sighted. A real opportunity for peace was lost and increasing friction between the two siblings ultimately led to war in 1965.

I noted that Ayub Khan not only skipped the war in his memoirs, Friends, Not Masters, he also skipped it in his diaries which cover the period from 1966 to 1972. Brian said that he was not surprised by the omission: ‘It was a very poorly planned war. Operation Gibraltar was a shambles, to begin with.’

Ayub Khan, who had boasted that Pakistan was the Prussia of the subcontinent, knew that better than anyone else but his ego would not let him admit to the fact. This is borne out in a book written by G.W. Choudhury, one of the general’s cabinet ministers. In The Last Days of United Pakistan he says he met Gen Ayub when the latter was in the US for medical treatment after being deposed from power.

Choudhury says he asked him whether the usual procedure for debating both sides of the issue had not been followed with respect to the crucial decision to launch the war in Kashmir. The general answered: ‘Please do not rub in my weakest and fatal point.’

Returning to the army’s future, I asked Brian if the force structure, training regimen and equipment inventory of the army were adequate for dealing with changing threats. He said the army was flexible enough to cope with changing circumstances but that such changes would require time. He said even the US army was finding it difficult to change with changing circumstances, as seen by its performance in Afghanistan and earlier in Iraq.

Turning to the issue of Kashmir, I asked Brian if the army had finally concluded that it was a bad idea to keep on fighting a proxy war in Indian-held territories. He said he did not know for sure but was confident that under Musharraf the army had stopped supporting militants such as those of the Lashkar-i-Taiba ‘for good in 2002’.

Since Pakistan’s military failures can all be traced to poor generalship, I asked the army’s leading historian what criteria were used to promote general officers. He said that normal criteria were used such as competence, flexibility and good command record. Also, he said, ‘card-carrying fundos’ had been told to not bother applying.

A key unknown is whether the army, with its British heritage, will begin to resemble the American army with whom it has been engaged in a variety of cooperative endeavours during the past few years.

Brian seemed to think so, saying that the Americans were very keen to have it resemble the US army. He noted the Pakistan Air Force had already changed its badges of ranks and that younger officers in all services would like to go the American way in order to acquire the modern look.

I asked him if any obvious changes were going to occur in the Indian army during the next five years. He said the Indian army was short by 13,000 officers and that it may seek to eliminate that shortage but the cost could be prohibitive and it was becoming difficult to recruit junior officers. He also expected that army to improve its communications and domestic arrangements.

Since so much of the future depends on the quality of instruction, I asked him to comment on the curriculum at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) in Kakul. He said it was very good and that the PMA was a well-run and efficient place. Turning to the Command and Staff College in Quetta, where mid-level officers are trained, he said it was a world-class institution with one weakness: ‘A tendency to go for what we call the DS (Directing Staff) solution rather than take the risk of indulging in original thought.’

He added that the National Defence University, where flag officers were trained, was excellent, with ‘some first-class brains and thoroughly professional coursework’. And he was very complimentary of the faculty of contemporary studies.

In closing, I returned to Pakistan’s longstanding problem with India and asked whether a change in attitude on Pakistan’s part, especially on Kashmir, would change the military dynamic between the two countries. He quipped that he ‘would like to think that waving a wand over Kashmir would instantly create sweetness and light between India and Pakistan, but the legacy of 60 years of distrust — hatred, really — cannot be eradicated.’

Brian added that as best as he could tell, only businessmen on both sides seem interested in having normal relations between the two countries. In the present circumstances, he seemed to think war was unlikely but if the hard-core nationalists prevailed in India, a future war could not be ruled out. Of course, war could also break out if Pakistan’s future leaders, whether civilian or military, embarked on another misguided adventure.

The discussion concluded on a dour and dank note: ‘The development of nuclear weapons by both countries was supposed to be a deterrent but if a war breaks out, it will deter no one. It [is] doubtful that either nation would alter its current policy towards the other. The guns will stay in position while people starve.’

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