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Monday, 30 November 2009

From Today's Papers - 30 Nov 09

MoD pays for ignoring SC ruling
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
The Delhi High Court and the Armed Forces Tribunal have, in separate cases, imposed costs on the Ministry of Defence and the Army for not taking due cognizance of a Supreme Court order pertaining to grant of pension to disabled veterans and filing appeals contrary to the "settled legal position".

The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that disabled ex-servicemen are entitled to pension even it they have sought retirement voluntarily. The MoD, however, is continuing to file appeals against the order of single benches of high courts allowing pension in such cases. Disability pensionary benefits were not being released by the MoD to voluntary retirees though the Supreme Court had held voluntary retirees entitled to disability pension in 2008.
Acting on a petition file by Bachan Singh, a resident of Ludhiana, the Delhi Bench of the AFT had a few days ago, imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Adjutant General's branch. The Bench observed that the approach of the authorities was casual, which drove poor personnel to unnecessary litigation when the issue stood decided by the high court and the Supreme Court.
The AFT order also quotes a recent case where the Delhi High Court had imposed costs of Rs 25,000 on the MoD for denying disability pension to a voluntary retiree contrary to the settled legal position.It is learnt that the MoD had filed appeals against benefits granted by the courts to disabled veterans by sweeping under the carpet the legal opinion of the office of the Solicitor General.
Even after a bunch of judgments of the Supreme Court upholding an earlier decision by the Delhi High Court, the Legal Advisor of the MoD had recommended further SLPs in similar cases. The matter was then referred to the Solicitor General's office for opinion. The Additional Solicitor General, however, clearly opined that similar matters had been decided by the Supreme Court and had attained finality and such cases were not fit for SLPs.
Army Headquarters also requested that the MoD sanction disability pension to voluntary retirees citing that the same would result in reduction of court cases on the subject. The Army HQ had further pointed out that cases were "being contested by the government despite knowing the settled position of law."

New Delhi, November 29
Cross-border terrorism, illegal immigration, smuggling of narcotics and activities of North-east militants will come up for discussion at the Home Secretary-level talks between India and Bangladesh beginning here tomorrow.

The Indian delegation, led by Home Secretary G K Pillai, will seek cooperation from Bangladesh to deal with security issues, especially combating anti-India jehadi groups and North-east militants operating from its soil, sources said.
India is likely to stress the need for an extradition treaty between the two countries as it would help handing over of each other's wanted criminals.
India's hope with regard to cooperation by Dhaka in cracking down on militant groups stems from the fact that there is a "realisation" in the Sheikh Hasina government about fighting extremism and terrorism.
Illegal immigration is another issue that has been nagging bilateral relations and this matter will be discussed during the three-day talks.
The two sides are expected to discuss sensitive issues related to the border, smuggling of narcotics, fake currency and chalk out a strategy on how to deal with the problems.
India will ask the Bangladesh side, led by its Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder, to take steps to hand over jailed militants like ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia.— PTI 

Post-26/11, number of Army jawans from Maharashtra doubles
Kartikeya , TNN 30 November 2009, 02:57am IST
MUMBAI: Until now we have seen candle-light vigils and peace marches, debates and prayer meetings. But there has been another response to the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai that has gone largely unnoticed. And it has come not from the educated, well-to-do elite visible in the media but from every nook and corner of Maharashtra.

Since 2007, and especially in the wake of 26/11, the number of persons volunteering to serve in the armed forces to defend the country has doubled in Maharashtra. While there were a little more than 2,000 recruits in 2007, over 5,000 have already enlisted till November this year. These numbers relate not to officers but what the defence forces call personnel below officers’ rank (PBOR).

Simply put, they are the ordinary jawans or footsoldiers who form the fighting mainstay of our country. These recruits have come from both rural and urban areas of Maharashtra and their social background can be gauged from the fact that they do not possess the educational qualifications to seek service as officers.

The volunteers have been lining up at selection centres in Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Lonavla, Pune and Mumbai. As a result, recruitment from the state to all three wings of the defence forces â€" the army, navy and air Force â€" have shown a significant jump this year. In fact, in 2009, Maharashtra sent the second-largest number of PBORs to the Indian army.

Following the brutal 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai there was a surge of patriotism across the country. After watching images of military commandos fighting terrorists, several young men expressed a desire to don the army’s olive green uniform. Thus, states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have also shown an increase in fresh recruits to the defence forces, but nowhere have the numbers gone up as significantly as in Maharashtra.

The armed forces are short of over 13,000 officers but there is no such problem with regard to PBORs. In the last three years, more than 1,24,000 PBORs have joined the army, navy and the air force.

Sound infrastructure needed on border with Tibet: Kapoor
PUNE: Chief of army staff General Deepak Kapoor on Sunday stressed the need to build sound infrastructure on the Indian side of the Tibetan border.

“Such development is necessary in view of the huge infrastructure build-up on the Chinese side of the border with Tibet. We have been constantly saying that we need to bring infrastructure on our own side up to the acceptable levels,� he said.

The army chief was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the passing-out parade
(PoP) of the 117th course at the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla here. His comments were in response to a query regarding the threat perception from China.

“Both India and China have an appropriate mechanism in place to take care of minor skirmishes or disputes, if and when they arise on the border front,� Kapoor said.

Pune boy bags President's gold medal
PUNE: Academy cadet captain Mohit M Markale, who commanded the passing-out parade of the 117th course at the National Defence Academy (NDA) here on Sunday, is the third member of his family to have opted for a career in the armed forces.

Mohit was presented the President's gold medal by army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor for standing first in the overall order of merit vis-a-vis academics, drill, physical training and games.

Mohit follows in the footsteps of his father Col (retd) Mahesh Markale and elder brother Lieutenant Kedar, who is an alumnus of the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, and now part of the 6 Lancers unit posted somewhere in the western sector.

While the Markales hail from village Markal near the pilgrim town of Alandi, about 20 km from here, they have settled in the upscale Magarpatta City project at Hadapsar in the city since 2004. Mohit's mother Kanchan is a medical practitioner.

Says Mohit, "The thought of joining any profession other than army never crossed my mind. It is not just the inspiration from within my family but also the fact that I always liked the army way of living that firmed up my career choice." He started preparing for the NDA by joining the Services Preparatory Institute at Aurangabad (SPIA) after completing his early education from Army School, Ahmednagar.

According to Mohit, "The sense of pride that comes through wearing the uniform and the work culture one gets used to in the army mattered more than anything else. Our family has a lot of respect for the armed forces." No wonder, father Mahesh is his role model.

Mohit is already looking ahead to his upcoming training at the IMA, Dehradun, which will culminate into his formal induction as an officer in the army. "I want to join my father's regiment, the 5 Armoured Corps," he declared.

Col Mahesh, who retired from army in 2007 after 35 years of service, said, "I was inspired by my maternal uncle, who was a colonel with the EME branch, to join the army in the late 1970s.

"What makes me happier is that I never asked either of my sons to join the army. It was their choice," said the proud father. "I did tell them that army life is tough from the physical and mental viewpoint, but it can be highly rewarding as it provides a chance to perform acts of valour for the country," he said. Kedar, a commerce graduate from the Marathwada Mitra Mandal college here, echoed similar sentiments.

Leadership qualities win wars: Army chief
PUNE: Advancement in technology need not be an overwhelming factor for a soldier in the battlefield, as it is leadership qualities that transform technical capabilities into tactical victory, Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor said on Saturday.

Addressing the passing-out graduates of the 117th course of the National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla, Kapoor said war has been and will always be fought by human beings and leadership. "High morale and fighting spirit will always rule strategies, which will be aided by modern technology," he said.

Kapoor urged the cadets to be constant learners and harness the knowledge and experience to set newer standards in their conduct as officers of the Indian defence forces and the country's citizens.

In all, 257 cadets, including four from Bhutan, were conferred their BSc, BSc (computer science) and BA degrees from the Jawaharlal Nehru University during the function. Cadet Vikas Garsa was awarded the trophy for topping the overall merit order and for academic excellence. He was also awarded the commandant's silver medal and the trophy from the chief of army staff for topping the BSc stream.

Cadet Jaspreet Singh was awarded the commandant's silver medal and a trophy from the chief of naval staff for topping the BSc (computer science) stream, while cadet Vivek Sharma, who topped the BA stream, was awarded the commandant's silver medal with the trophy from the chief of air staff.

Kapoor also released a coffee-table volume NDA Soaring To Greater Heights'.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

From Today's Papers - 29 Nov 09

Indian Cold Start doctrine
November 28th, 2009 4:23 AM   Print

Asif Haroon Raja

Strategic alliance with USA helps India in fulfilling its grandeur plans to become the regional and world power. In 1971, Soviet Union had helped India in achieving a false military victory and in truncating Pakistan. Indians now hope that America would help in fulfilling their dream of either reducing Pakistan into an Indian satellite or removing it from the face of world map. It is in this context that Indo-US-UK-Israeli-Afghan nexus has been formed in Kabul which is dedicated towards harming Pakistan. Both covert means and media campaign are complementing each other to achieve stated objectives. The Indo-western media has embarked upon a malicious campaign to besmirch the reputation of institutions of Pakistan and project it as a failing state. All sorts of fairytales are fabricated and pasted in leading newspapers and magazines controlled by the Jews. Deadlines are given and each time the given the given date expires uneventfully; a new deadline of collapse of Pakistan is given with a heavy heart but with renewed hopes.

Several scenarios are in circulation ranging from truncation to break up in small quasi states. Independent Balochistan and Pashtunistan figure high in their fanciful plans. Each of the self-perceived scenario is linked to Islamic threat in northwest of Pakistan. One of the principle objectives of India is to weaken ISI and cut its long-arm capability drastically so that it is neither in a position to harm India through covert means or to provide first line defence to Pakistan effectively against external subversive threats. Pakistan specific Indian consulates in Afghanistan and tens of RAW infested training, educational and cultural centres have nothing else to do except to devise different means to cause harm to Pakistan and destabilise it.

To give concrete shape to the chalked out plans, the said nexus unfolded a comprehensive subversive plan in January 2002 to systematically destabilize Pakistan. Fuel was constantly sprinkled in interior Balochistan, FATA and Swat to inflame these regions. Brahamdagh Bugti based in Kandahar and patronized by RAW-CIA-RAAM is coordinating sabotage and subversion in Balochistan. Southern Punjab and Karachi are planned to be inflamed in the final phase to spread anarchy throughout the country so as to pave way for disablement of our nuclear weapons and to clear the way for India to launch its military instrument. Washington's continued insistence to make India a key player in Afghanistan and to induct its 150,000 troops is meant to enable Indo-Afghan forces to exploit yet another avenue from the northwest and catch Pakistan in a double pincer.

Indian Cold Start doctrine envisages formation of battle groups supported by dedicated artillery, combat air support and tactical nuclear weapons. It perceives launching 15-16 limited attacks along the entire length of eastern border and Line of Control (LoC) with battle groups of two mechanised regiments and an armour regiment or vice versa. Each battle group is mandated to capture an objective of tactical importance and to exploit success as far as possible but remaining well away from core areas so as to restrain Pakistan from using its nuclear response. Having dispersed the defender on a wide front in battle of frontiers, trying to defend every inch of the territory, subject to successes achieved, and deflection or commitment of our strategic reserves, it would then launch main and secondary efforts with its strike formations in two sectors. Indian military would achieve air superiority in main effort area for a specific period of break in and break out battle towards deeper objectives.

After Mumbai attacks, India continues to remain in an offensive mode and is in no mood to recommence stalled peace talks. Pakistan's concerted efforts spread over one year to make India see reason have gone in vain. Flustered and frustrated by quick successes achieved by Pakistan Army against Indian funded and trained terrorists in Swat and in South Waziristan, Indian leaders have taken a new line that runaway militants after getting defeated have become a security hazard for India. Since last May, they are wailing like a frightened child in anticipation to a self-imagined terrorist attack emanating from Pakistan on the pattern of Mumbai-like carnage. When asked to provide intelligence so that the mishap could be thwarted they refuse to divulge the basis of their anxiety. Indian media has alleged that Dave Headly and Tahawar Hussain Rana suspected for terrorism in USA were linked with Mumbai attacks and that Dave was observed sniffing around Indian nuclear sites. Accordingly, Indian authorities have sounded a red alert in affected areas where their nuclear material is stored to avert a possible attack. To further up the ante, Indian Army Chief Deepak Kapoor has sounded a warning that a limited war under the nuclear overhang is still very much a reality, at least in Indian subcontinent. Our foreign office spokesman rightly remarked that it reaffirms Indian dangerous and offensive nuclear doctrine.

In the wake of Pakistan going nuclear in 1998 in response to Indian nuclear blackmail, which has made the option of all out war almost impossible, Indian military has been feverishly working on its Cold Start doctrine which was shaped in consultation with Israeli military. The three services of India have also been acquiring latest state-of-art weapon systems from all over the world and upgrading its nuclear arsenal as a consequence of which the conventional and nuclear balance has tilted heavily in favour of India. Simultaneous to the efforts by the military, RAW has been hectically engaged in weakening and destabilising Pakistan from within. Its focus has been towards enfeebling and discrediting Pakistan Army and ISI. Application of military instrument has been made conditional to success achieved through covert operations against these two pillars. India observed the pulse of Pakistan for ten months in 2002 after manufacturing a terrorist attack on Indian parliament in December 2001 and again after Mumbai carnage in November 2008 that was also cooked up. Both times, it found Pakistan Army well poised and resilient and had to beat a retreat.

India may be visualising that this time Pakistan Army has got deeply embroiled in several troubled spots and is not in a position to withdraw as was the case last time. It is hoping that Pashtun and Baloch militants would be fighting Pakistan Army in case of war with India. It is satisfied with its successful policy of encirclement and destabilisation of Pakistan resulting in enfeeblement of its economy. It considers overall geo-political environment favourable. It considers the time ripe for devising another drama to justify its troop build up. The purpose will be:

   1. Coerce the leadership to extract further concessions as it had extorted after military standoff in 2002-03.

   2. Relieve pressure on Tehrik-e-Taliban and make it recapture lost ground.

   3. Demolish Balochistan package which has the potential of defusing separatist movement sponsored by India.

   4. Rejuvenate demoralised RAW agents operating within Pakistan.

   5. Force Pakistan to liquidate Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad and to hand over alleged culprits of Mumbai carnage to India.

   6. Force Pakistan to fight terrorism as dictated by USA and India.

   7. Further weaken economy of Pakistan.

   8. Force Pakistan to accept pre-eminence of India in Afghanistan and in the region and to allow its trade with Afghanistan through Wagah.

   9. Solve Kashmir dispute by accepting LoC as permanent border.

In case Pakistan refuse to be cowed down, it might initiate Cold Start but it would be subject to full assurance by USA that it would prevent Pakistan Army from assembly and move of nukes to deployment areas.

War game codenamed Azm-e-Nau was conducted to tackle emerging Indian threat along eastern front revolving around Cold Start but did not take into account possible ingress from western border and expansion of limited war into full-fledged war. In 1971 in East Pakistan, India first weakened Pakistan Army contingent through civil war and psychological operations. Indian military then induced threat perception which forced us to take up an exaggerated forward posture all along 1400 miles border to prevent any piece of land falling into enemy hands. Dispersed in penny packets we were strong nowhere. Indian offensive launched on 21 November from multiple directions succeeded in making 23 lodgement areas across the border. In our bid to liquidate or contain the ingresses we committed everything we had in the battle of frontiers. After an operational pause and having fixed our forces in compartments, Indian forces under massive air cover launched main, secondary and auxiliary offensives from three different directions on 4 December and raced towards Dacca. Making a dispassionate comparison of East Pakistan offensive with Cold Start one finds certain similarities.

Pakistan has already suffered grievously because of its exaggerated policy of appeasement and cannot afford to cede more ground and that too at the cost of its sovereignty and dignity. We need to condition our forces and structure them organisationally to fight two front wars together with internal threat in the southwest and northwest. Blissfully, Pakistan Army is in its finest trim and is in position to meet any challenge resolutely. Having found out foolproof evidence of involvement of RAW in aiding and abetting terrorism in Pakistan, and the US and UK complicit in the evil game of destabilising, denuclearising and balkanising Pakistan, should we still be imprudently calling these so-called friends as our well-wishers and relying on them? I have no doubt in my mind that the US would not betray Israel or India but would certainly betray Pakistan and leave it in a lurch once again.

Same go for Afghanistan under US puppet Karzai who has provided Afghan soil to foreign agencies for launching covert operations against Pakistan. He doesn't realise that India, whom he considers as a sincere and dear friend is gradually working towards reducing Afghanistan into its client state. If US Administration is negotiating with Afghan Taliban, we have every right to keep in touch with them particularly after their worthy role in hour of crisis. While US military opted to vacate border check posts, Afghan Taliban refused to come to the aid of fake Taliban in South Waziristan.

How long will we follow humiliating policy of appeasement which is ruining Pakistan? Isn't it high time to sound the bugle and chase out Blackwater type non-actors from the soil of Pakistan before they swoop at our nukes and whisk them away? We need to guard our nukes with utmost vigilance and cut those hands that try to get near them. Operation Rah-e-Nijat which has proceeded excellently should clear South Waziristan of the presence of hardcore local and foreign terrorists speedily. After returning extra forces to peace locations, process of rehabilitation of people of South Waziristan to be put into full gear. These assets must be handled with utmost care and affection. They deserve an even better package then Balochistan since none among them raised the slogan of separation or sought materialistic gains.


Asif Haroon Raja is a defence and political analyst based at Rawalpindi and author of several books. Email:

Army campuses to have biometric entry system
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
Within two weeks of the Home Ministry having sounded an alert about the leading military establishments being on the target of Pakistan militants, the Army has taken the first step to introduce modern methods to regulate entry of its personnel and visitors to its campuses.

As the first step, the Army has decided that the infantry training school at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, will have biometric entry system. For the layman, entry and exit will only be allowed on finger print recognition and also a radio frequency card that will establish a person's identity. A tender has been issued asking a private company to install the equipment at Mhow.
This was long overdue, said a source, adding that this would be expanded to other major campuses like the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, and the National Defence Academy, Pune. The process of entry would be stringent and will allow the Army to have a computer back-up of all person who visited Mhow.
At Mhow, the Army not only wants to check who is entering, but it will also have a system by which a controller can block the entry of any person, who has been issued an identity card and whose finger print is already registered.
It means if a person ends his work and has exited after his duty hours, his entry could be blocked by the controller. This is crucial for locations like the infantry school were strategic documents and maps are placed for training purposes.
At present, the entry to Army institutions is based of archaic system by which a sentry at the gate hardly has a clue about the identity of the person.

Island fortress

Sri Lanka has a history of violence. In its recent history, this 20 million-strong Buddhist country has had one long civil war, two bloody Marxist insurrections, ethnic riots, several assassinations and an abortive coup in 1962.

The 26-year-long war of attrition that the government fought against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was a global concern. It ended in May, leaving an estimated 100,000 dead and two war-torn communities. Sri Lanka has also had to fight off two Marxist rebellions – in 1971 and 1987-89 -- by extremist Sinhala Marxists. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) insurgencies were fuelled by anti-Western and anti-Indian sentiment and claimed thousands of lives. The Lankan security forces waged a "dirty war" to crush the rebellions, with thousands of youth disappearing without a trace.

All this violence has left its mark. Once a balmy paradise that inspired the English word "serendipity", Sri Lanka is today the region's most militarised society. The bitter wars and rebellions have given birth to what one local political analyst calls a "national security regime".

"A national security regime is created when militarisation is viewed as a necessary component of the conduct of a state. That doesn't mean that country is under dictatorship; the regime could be in a broad democratic framework,'' said the analyst.

Emergency State

One sign is that Sri Lanka remains under a "state of emergency'' six months after the war officially ended. The practice of civil liberties, artistic freedom

and dissenting opinion continues to be severely curtailed in Sri Lanka. The murder and assault of journalists and human rights activists, restrictions on critical academics and a close watch, bordering on intimidation, of artists who want to make political comment are accepted by the state. A well-known painter said: "I would say (the situation), it's scary. But don't quote me. Do you get the picture?''

The decision of ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka to run for presidency in January is the most obvious sign of the all-powerful role the military plays in Sri Lanka today. The military is cagey about sharing numbers but few doubt Sri Lanka has one of the highest soldiers to civilian ratios in Asia.

A 2006 study by Mumbai-based Strategic Foresight Group argued Sri Lanka had by then already emerged as the most militarised country in South Asia.

"For every thousand population, it has eight military personnel against 1.3 in India or four in Pakistan. In terms of military expenditure, Sri Lanka spends 4.1 per cent of its GDP against 2.5 per cent by India or 3.5 per cent by Pakistan,'' the study said.

Three years later, the numbers have gone up. The total number of personnel in the army,

navy, air force, police and civil defence groups comes close to 400,000 – enormous for such a small country. The army is 240,000-strong, yet military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara recently said it "would recruit another 10,000 by the year-end".

The military budget, swollen by the civil war, continues to grow even in peacetime.

Recently, Parliament approved a 20 per cent hike above the allocated $ 1.74 billion.

Guns for hire

The arrival of Fonseka in the political arena is another sign of how "militarised" Lankan society has become, says J Uyangoda, political scientist at Colombo University. "Militarisation has seen a gradual consideration in the society. Now with general Fonseka fighting the presidential election as the opposition candidate, it indicates demilitarisation is not in the agenda even for the opposition. It doesn't look like the United National Party (the main opposition party) is committed to demilitarising Sri Lanka.''

A hard-fought political contest in which the army is involved makes it all the more difficult to keep bullets separated from the ballots. Historian Silan Kadirgamar said he "was afraid the run-up to the presidential polls could be violent as the stakes were high."

The run-up to the election could see a political role for the many armed groups which brazenly operate in eastern Sri Lanka. Usually affiliated to politicians, they are known to extort money and often include former ex-fighters from both sides.

"Desertion has increased after the end of the war. Yes, it is a problem because they are trained," defence analyst and journalist Iqbal Athas said.

Athas also worried politicians would turn to thugs to protect their turf. Over 20,000 soldiers have deserted the Lankan army alone.

A spokesperson for a civil rights group, University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), was suitably dismal: "There are no professional army or security forces left in Sri Lanka. Having Rajapaksa is terrible and having Fonseka would be a nightmare. Unfortunately Sri Lanka has evolved a tradition where rogues contest the presidency."

There is no shortage of ideas on how Sri Lankan society can slough off its armour. "Battalions to the United Nations could be increased. Or a transitory civil defence force could be constituted.  The extra force could also be used to strengthen existing police stations or to man new police stations in the north," Athas suggested.

But for any of this to happen the political establishment must first believe it can afford to begin the process of demobilising its country. When it comes to the government this is not about numbers but about reducing a deep-seated security paranoia.

Sri Lanka has won its war. It has not yet thought out how it can win its peace.

Women and war

Would you agree that Pratibha Patil looked rather fetching in a G-suit? The picture of her waving from the cockpit of a Sukhoi, a radiant smile on her face, could transform the image of Indian women. Not surprisingly, journalists used the occasion to ask whether women should be inducted as fighter pilots. Her reply was equally winning — it's a decision best left to experts and service commanders.

Now, why can't politicians and some of our interfering commentators heed this excellent advice?

The debate over what role women should play in combat is neither new nor easy to resolve. It cropped up three years ago when the former Vice-Chief of the Army, Lt. Gen. Pattabhiraman, said: "Ideally, we would like to have gentlemen and not lady officers at the unit level. Feedback from lower formations suggests that comfort levels with lady officers are low."

It returned to the front pages last week when the present Air Force Vice-Chief said women could only be accepted as fighter pilots after they agreed to conditions on having children and taking maternity leave.

Frankly, both officers are right and the screams of protest from the politically correct brigade missed the point. Men and women are, of course, equal but equality is not similarity. Women are not the same as men. For the defence services the difference is critical.

One of their key concerns is if captured women would be more liable for abuse and mistreatment than men. For this reason even the Israelis do not permit women in direct conflict roles. And it's not sufficient to say let women decide for themselves if they want to take the risk. When it affects national security, the importance of the issue surpasses the right to individual choice.

But there are other good reasons too. First, women would be at a serious disadvantage in hand-to-hand combat with enemy male soldiers. If the defence of India depends on how our soldiers respond to a Chinese or Pakistani invader staring down the barrel of a gun, I have no hesitation in stating the preponderant majority would feel more confident with male soldiers. And that includes most women.

Second, the Indian Army is likely to remain a male-dominated force. Our jawans are traditional in their outlook and would feel uncomfortable, maybe even insecure, under women officers in combat. Clearly the fighting formations are not the place to teach them how to accept orders from women.

The Air Force has different but equally pressing concerns. It costs Rs 11.66 crore to train a fighter pilot and up to 14 years service to recover the investment. If a woman were to drop out after marriage, the service would have to forego the investment in her training. If she takes ten months maternity leave she would require expensive re-training on return. This is why the service insists on pre-conditions before women are inducted as fighter pilots.

Meanwhile, the argument 'Is cost everything, social correctness nothing?' is easy to answer. A poor country cannot afford to waste resources simply to satisfy political correctness.

Of course, none of this is to argue against women officers in the services. All three have them and they do a brilliant job. But if women don't choose to be hangmen, Formula One drivers or sumo wrestlers, why is it incorrect to keep them out of combat roles?

The views expressed by the author are personal

India developing solutions to deal with low intensity conflicts

BANGALORE, November 28, 2009: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Friday said unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will play a key role in dealing with low intensity conflicts abetted by both internal elements and unfriendly neighbours. Indias great neighbours not being really friendly be it Pakistan or China, P S Krishnan, Director of Aeronautical Development Establishment, a lab under DRDO, said. 

In addition, he also touched upon internal challenges such as insurgency, militancy and naxal activities in parts of the State, all of which are grouped together as low intensity conflicts. 

Speaking at the 23rd national convention of aerospace engineers here, Mr Krishnan said one of the Chief Controllers of the DRDO had been specifically asked to look at low intensity conflicts and what solutions he can give.  Obviously UAVs is going to play a very important role, he said.

ADE is the only lab in India which looks at the full spectrum of UAVs.The focus is also on Nishant surveillance and reconnaisance UAV developed by India to counter low intensity conflicts, Krishnan said. UAVs  also plays a key role in disaster and flood management, he said.

UAV will play major role in 'low intensity wars': Expert

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs) will play a major role in Low Intensity Conflict involving insurgents and militants, which the country was currently facing, an expert said today.

Speaking at the 23rd National Convention of Aerospace Engineers here, Dr P S Krishnan, Director of Aeronautical Development (ADE) Establishment (ADE), which meets the country's UAV requirements, said the Union Government had appointed DRDO Chief Controller Dr K Sekhar to look into the possible solutions to tackle low intensity wars.

''UAV or drones will play a vital role here as it can provide uninterrupted surveillance of areas affected by militants or insurgent activities even if it is up to 1000 sq km,'' he said.

He said, UAVs like Chakor, Lakshya and Nishant, all developed and produced by the city-based ADE, had been successful in meeting the Indian Army's requirement of surveillance. The Army had ordered 20 Lakshyas,' while Nishant's have been deployed.

''We are now embarking upon long endurance Rustom, the first prototype, the flight of which was tested last week. This UAV has an endurance of 24 hours and weighs 70 kg, compared to Nishant's 4.5 hours,'' he said.

Tejas to fly on indigenous Kaveri engine next year: Official

The city-based Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), which is indigenously developing various types of aero engines, would be fitting its flagship product Kaveri engine to the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) 'Tejas' in the next one year.

Disclosing this to reporters at the 23rd convention of aerospace engineers here GTRE Director T Mohana Rao said the establishment had overcome all obstacles and one of the engines, originally built for the LCA was taken to Russia for testing. Once it passes the test another engine would be shipped later for flying test, he said.

He said the engine would be ready by March or April next year and it will be fully ready for integration in one year's time. ''We are also looking to develop a marine version of Kaveri engine and Indian Navy would be our working partners. This includes financial participation. Indian Navy is working with us for Kaveri marine project,'' he said.

The naval version would be co-designed by the two organisations and it would have low-pressure compressor and turbine.

GTRE was also looking at developing small gas turbine engines for unmanned aircraft.

''We are ready to develop any type of gas turbine engines for the country. There are lots of other projects in the offing,'' Mr Rao added.

He said GTRE's bid to find a joint venture partner was yet to be finalised as it was expecting the final sanction from the government. ''We had shortlisted 'Snecma' of France for the JV, but we have not started the work yet as some government approvals are still pending. Indian Air Force and DRDO would have to approve the JV,'' he said.

SoO in transitory phase: Brig Chauhan
By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Nov 27 : The tripartite Suspension of Operation (SoO) pact signed between the Central Government, the State Government and Kuki militant groups is now in transitory phase and no political dialogue has been initiated as yet, said Commander of 59 Mountain Brigade Brig Anil Chauhan today.
Brig Anil Chauhan was speaking at the inaugural function of the administrative block of a designated camp built for KNF at Saparmeina.
Moving around with weapons by SoO signatories without prior information is a violation of ground rules, he said.
The KNO and UPF, umbrella organisations of several Kuki militant groups signed the SoO pact with the Central and State Governments on August 22, 2008. The KNF signed the truce under UPF.
Set up by late Nehlun Haokip in 1989, the KNF is one of the oldest Kuki armed outfit. Their designated camp located near Saparmeina has been named Ebenezer Camp.
The inaugural function of the administrative block was also attended by CO of 35 AR Col Dushyant and senior leaders and cadres of the party.
Brig Anil Chauhan said that both the parties should follow SoO ground rules strictly.
Clash between UG groups and movement of cadres with weapons without giving prior information are violation of SoO ground rules, he cautioned.
Maintaining that incidents of violation of SoO ground rules have come down in the last two months, the Brigadier said that necessary arrangements would be made to take the dialogue to its next stage after the cadres are housed in designated camps and satisfactory development achieved.
If the present stage is not satisfactory to either of the party, the truce cannot progress to the next stage.
Speaking at the occasion, KNF defence secretary and member of the Joint Monitoring Group Lala said that construction work of the designated camp now being undertaken at Koubru range was complete by 95 percent. The camp comprising of a hospital, arsenal, church, swimming pool, rest camp, five barracks and a play ground would be inaugurated next month by the Union Home Secretary.
The party has also made proposals for two more designated camps at Maphou Dam and Sehjang village along NH 53. So far 88 cadres have been issued identity cards. However, validity of these identity cards issued by the Government has expired, Lala said.
The rest camp being constructed inside the designated camp may also be used by people coming for pilgrimage to Koubru hill top.
Plans are also afoot to employ horses for elder persons wishing to offer prayer at Koubru hill-top.
For this service, the KNF would collect certain fees as its fund, Lala said.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

From Today's Papers - 28 Nov 09

 Imagine two branches of service in the Government of India. The two branches are different in substance and in the perception of the citizens. One branch has its halo effect and is considered both glamorous and praiseworthy in public perception. The other branch is often pejoratively titled “babudom”.
 Now consider the following points:
 ·        The armed forces have their uniforms and shiny medals. The bureaucrats have none.
 ·        Generals, Admirals and Air Marhsals sport three stars on their vehicles, and sometimes four stars. Even officers of the rank of Brigadier sport a star.  The bureaucrats of similar seniority have to make do with just a red or blue light. Lest you consider this a trivial matter not worthy of the attention of a senior bureucrat, consider this – when my brother, an Air Commodore, was posted as India’s Air Attache in Washington, he was entitled to put a single star – the US Army’s designated insignia for a brigadier level officer – on his vehicle. This gave him certain parking and other privileges in specified buildings. His administrative superior – an officer belonging to the Indian Foreign Service – actually urged my brother to remove the star from his car since he, the senior officer, was not entitled to it.
 ·        The armed forces, with their bemedalled heroes guarding our boundaries, and their fighter pilots, navy commanders etc. garner favourable publicity in the media and are viewed as services with an air of professionalism and macho. They carry an aura of glamour. The bureaucrats, on the other hand, do not have such an image – in fact, they are widely considered to be working in musty offices, surrounded by files and aided by often sloppy staff, who the average citizen encounters in his or her daily life.
 If professions could be said to have sexes, the armed forces would definitely be considered masculine and the bureaucrats, their civilian counterpart, feminine. In saying this I do not mean to slight the feminine aspect. I am just stating the obvious – the aggressive, protective, outgoing principle vis a vis the protected, home-bound civilian bureuacrats.
 This dichotomy between the two appears to have affected the bureaucratic wing adversely as far as their attitude towards the defence wing is concerned. The closest we can express this attitude in psychological terms is by saying that they suffer from penis-envy.
 Sigmund Freud introduced the concept of a little girl's envy of the penis in his 1908 article "On the Sexual Theories of Children," and developed the idea later in his work “On Narcissism”. Subsequantly, his theory has been overtaken by more accurate theories of female sexuality by psychologists such as Eric Ericson ad Jian Paget. It has also been criticised by feminists and others. However, here we are not dealing with the girl child’s psychological development. We are concerned with a similar emotion amongst India’s bureaucrats vis a vis our Armed Forces where this theory does appear to apply rather closely.
 The bureaucrats subconsciously appear to wish that they had more glamour in their profession, that they had smart, uniformed assistants and starred vehicles and be-medalled uniforms. Acquiring these appears as difficult as the girl’s covert wish to acquire a penis. However, unlike the girl child, the bureaucrats can do something about it. They may not be able to acquire a penis for themselves, but they leave no occasion to try and castrate the armed forces.
 The recent sixth pay commission controversy is only one factor in the ongoing struggle for supremacy which the bureaucrats have tried this castration. In pursuance of this effort, the bureaucrats have not permitted even a single representative of the armed forces – India’s largest employer – in the Pay Commission. An indicative incident of the feeling of animosity can be judged  by he incident where the military attaché in one of our embassies overheard one of the senior-most bureaucrats visiting that country make a pejorative comment in reference to the noise being made by the armed forces about the Sixth Pay Commission award anomalies. The senior bureaucrats comment was that on his return to India “We will fix the bastards”.
 Another indication of this castration is the order of precedence. This is the official order in which dignitaries are seated at formal functions and the ceremonial importance given to each relative to the others. At the time of independence, the senior most general was second in the Order of Precedence. Now the Army Chief is 12th in this list. The Cabinet Secretary is 11th, as is the Attorney General.  At the 23rd position are “Officers of the rank of full General or equivalent rank” on par with Secretaries to the Government, Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities , Secretary, Minorities Commission, Secretary, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes , Members, Minorities Commission , Members, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, Members, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and a host of others.
 There are many other areas where no opportunity is missed by the bureaucrats to show the armed forces down.
 The overt reason one hears for maintaining the supremacy of the bureucrats over the armed forces is that we should adhere to the principle of  “the civilian control of the army”. However, civilian control does not mean the Chief of India’s Army, who commands 1.3 million officers and soldiers, apart from 1.4 million reserve and territorial army personnel, waiting at the pleasure of the bureaucrats manning the Ministry of Defence. So long as he obeys the orders of a civilian Minister of Defence, it would ensure the principle of civilian control adequately. However, the bureaucrats will never agree to this because this argument will take away one more tool which facilitates the castration mentioned above.
 These attempts at castration of the armed forces by the bureaucracy are resulting in the demoralisation of our armed forces at all levels. The retired officers speak about this openly and the serving ones in hushed tones. This complex of the bureaucrats needs to be recognised for what it is and, then, needs to be addressed firmly and fairly by the political masters, Unless this is done, we will continue devaluing the spear and shield of the country to satisfy the castrative instinct of the bureaucrats. If a further devaluation of the tools of India's defence happens, we should not be surprised that, when we need a steely response to danger on our borders, we will get a wooden one. Then, paradoxically, the bureaucrats will get one more reason to castrate the armed forces further and the vicious spiral will continue making holes in our national defence shield.

Kishore Asthana

China boost to Pak military troubles India
Warships, fighters, missiles and millions in aid, Islamabad has it all
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
The ongoing military relationship between China and Pakistan is worrying India. Defence Minister AK Antony today hit out at China saying the “increasing nexus between China and Pakistan remains an area of serious concern ….. we have to carry out continuous appraisals of Chinese military capabilities and shape our responses accordingly”.

He was speaking at the 44th foundation day celebrations of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in the Capital.
“India wants to develop a friendly and cordial relationship with its neighbours including China. We continue our efforts. At the same time, there are issues that are a matter of concern to us,” he said. Antony’s fears are not misplaced. New Delhi feels the China-Pakistan military nexus is detrimental to its interests and the strategic balance in the South Asian region.
Another area of concern for India is Chinese transfer of equipment and technology for Pakistan’s nuclear weapon programme. China has helped Pakistan build two nuclear reactors in the Punjab province and continues to support its nuclear programme.
China is Pakistan’s largest defence supplier. These include short-range ballistic missiles, fighter aircraft, frigates with helicopters, T-85 tanks, jet trainers, besides arms and ammunition.
Pakistan is scheduled to get the second of the four warships China is building for it next month. PNS Shamsheer, the frigate class warship F 22P, has anti-submarine warfare capabilities and armed choppers on board. In July this year, just days after India had launched its first N- powered submarine, China had handed over the first warship to Pakistan. Three of these ships will be built at a Chinese port, while the fourth one will be built in Pakistan.
Just last week, the two neighbours of India had announced that they were co-developing a fighter jet named JF-17. The production facilities of the same will be housed in Pakistan, while China will provide most of the parts that includes a Russian-built engine. Separately, China has already agreed to supply some 36 J-10 fighters to Pakistan. The single-engine fighter is somewhere close to the Mirage-2000 owned by India.
In the past, the Chinese have supplied Pakistan with K-8 jet trainers, Al-Khalid tanks and Al-Zarar tanks. Both have lower capability than India’s T-90 tanks. China has also supplied small arms and ammunition besides having built a ballistic-missile manufacturing facility near Rawalpindi to develop the 750-km-range, solid-fuel Shaheen-1 missile for Pakistan.
Apart from two nuclear reactors, a huge port at Gwadar near Karachi has been set up with Chinese aid. In the second project, China has pumped in 80 per cent of the expenses, say sources.
However, Antony was hopeful that China would reciprocate India’s initiatives aimed at mutual prosperity and understanding.

New Delhi, November 27
Even as India and the United States iron out their differences over the reprocessing of the spent nuclear fuel under the 123 agreement, the French Parliament has ratified the India-France nuclear accord, paving the way for French nuclear giants to build nuclear plants in India.

The French National Assembly adopted a law authorising the ratification of the agreement signed between the two countries on September 30 last year during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Paris.
This is subsequent to the adoption of the same law by the Senate on October 15 this year, according to the French Embassy here. “The unanimous vote by both assemblies is an important milestone in the development of the civilian nuclear cooperation between France and India.
It will enable the early entry into force of the agreement. It now paves the way for strengthening relations between French and Indian partners and for more concrete developments in the industrial field,” the French mission said.
France was the first country to sign a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with New Delhi days after India secured a waiver from the nuclear suppliers’ group (NSG) to undertake nuclear commerce last year. Since then, India has signed nuclear deals with the US, Russia, Namibia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Argentina. French nuclear supplier Areva has been allocated the nuclear project site at Jaitapur in Maharashtra to initially build two power plants.
The Indo-French nuclear agreement allows reprocessing of the spent nuclear fuel from French nuclear reactors under safeguards, and gives an assurance of lifetime supply of nuclear fuel for these reactors.
It does not bar the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies. With the ratification of the agreement by the French Parliament, France becomes the second country after Russia to give unconditional rights to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to India.
The agreement makes it mandatory that reprocessing be done under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. France and India are keen to build a multiform partnership.
The strengthening of their civilian nuclear cooperation is expected to contribute to economic growth and development, improve energy security and contribute to limiting greenhouse gas emissions. 

DRDO lab, Navy to dev Kaveri marine engine
Ramnath Shenoy/PTI / Bangalore November 27, 2009, 10:48 IST

Gas Turbine Research Establishment is looking to develop a marine version of Kaveri engine, originally intended to power India's indigenous fighter jet Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, in partnership with the Navy.

"We are already looking at Kaveri Marine project of which Indian Navy is quite supportive and they are going to be our working partners including financial participation", Director of GTRE, a lab under Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), T Mohana Rao, told PTI here.

Using the core of the Kaveri engine, GTRE plans to add low-pressure compressor and turbine as a gas generator to generate shaft power for maritime applications.

Bangalore-based GTRE is also looking at developing small gas turbine engines for unmanned aircraft.

"There are lots of other projects in the offing. We need to look at them in a very pragmatic way", Rao said. "We (GTRE) are capable of taking up any gas turbine-related design and development activity for the country".

Meanwhile, the Kaveri engine meant for Tejas is currently undergoing altitude tests in Russia, an exercise expected to last three to four weeks.

"Once that's in good shape and a good success, we will be using one more engine for flying test bed trials", he said.

Meanwhile, France-based Snecma which had been identified as a joint venture partner of GTRE for further development of the Kaveri engine for LCA, is yet to join the programme.

Guarding the sea
Coastal security remains inadequate
by Premvir Das
LAST year on November 26, a little before 9 p.m, 10 heavily armed people landed at a bustling fishing village in the heart of South Mumbai. A week earlier, on November 19, reports had indicated that a Pakistani vessel carrying terrorists had sailed from Karachi and was in a position about 50 miles south west of that port.
This did not attract much attention in either the Coast Guard (CG) or the Navy. At the maritime boundary, separating India and Pakistan, the terrorists apprehended an Indian fishing trawler, Kuber, killed four of its five crewmen, and, using the fifth as hostage, headed for Mumbai. The journey of about 500 miles, all through India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, was completed without any hindrance and the trawler arrived off that city by the evening of November 26.
As darkness fell, a small rubber craft was inflated and lowered in the water and into it went the terrorists, each wearing an inflated life jacket and carrying shoulder bags containing an AK 47, 10 loaded magazines and 10 grenades. In addition, several bombs made of lethal RDX were embarked.
If it is appreciated that all this was done even as the two craft rolled and pitched in the darkness, in a not too calm sea, the difficult nature of the mission becomes apparent. The chosen landing spot has about a 100 fishing boats, at anchor or beached, and into this congested area, spread over a water front less than a 100 yards wide, this small craft put its passengers ashore.
Landing on any shore, even the most desolate, is a very hazardous maritime operation; yet, it is this part of the mission that was so successfully accomplished, without any challenge. The passage covered two coastal states, Gujarat and Maharashtra, which account for almost 60,000 fishing boats of various sizes.
These waters also host dozens of oil platforms of different sizes. CG patrol boats, and aircraft, provide occasional surveillance; that this stretch of water was crossed with such great ease speaks of its poor quality.

How was this allowed to happen and what has been done to prevent its recurrence is what any reasonable person should ask. After all, despite some shortages in force levels, there are two quite capable maritime security forces, i.e. the Navy and the CG, which should have reacted more positively to the input of November 19 rather than later plead “systemic failure”.
Intelligence, meaning analysed inputs, is clearly the first imperative for preventive action against terrorism but this was not there; a National Intelligence Agency has only now been constituted. Security at sea had been a naval responsibility only in the blue waters while, in coastal waters, it came under the purview of the CG, and the area immediately on the coast within the jurisdiction of state marine police forces.
In the new security environment, in which coastal security has become important, an entirely war fighting role for the Navy can no longer be sustained; it must assume counter-terrorism duties in peace as well. The entire spectrum of maritime security, both at and from the sea, against state as well as non-state actors, has now been assigned to the Navy and joint control rooms set up in Mumbai and elsewhere but its authority is still not as complete as it should be.
Measures to augment resources needed for coastal security have been initiated but these will take some time to materialise fully. So, if the question is if, one year after the event, we are better prepared to safeguard our coastal security, the answer is, disappointingly, in the negative.
Unity of command is an essential prerequisite for successful counter-terrorism and the correct step would have been to place all maritime security forces under Naval control. This has not been done. For example, even as joint control rooms have been set up in major ports, sailing of a CG vessel still needs the approval of its CG superiors. This dilutes accountability.
The designation of the Director-General Coast Guard as head of a Coastal Command is also merely cosmetic; there is no addition to his duties. Making the Navy responsible for the entire gamut of maritime security, without providing it with the required managerial control, is something of a sham.
While acquisition of hardware such as boats, aircraft and coast radar stations cannot happen overnight, the problem is more in their use rather than in their numbers; the terrorists could come in so easily not because we did not have enough forces but because we were not able to exploit them coherently. Bold steps are required to review what has been done and to rectify the deficiencies.
Similarly, much more attention must also be paid to port security which means not just physical watch over the ports themselves but equally on the ships which enter them. For example, the US requires all containers entering its ports to be X-rayed; India has no such control. An explosives-laden container, if exploded in docks at a major port like Mumbai can cause mayhem.
There continues to be considerable laxity in superintendence of fishing vessels; registration of all, as required, is only a distant possibility. There is also no record of fishing vessels leaving and returning to their villages. Had such records been maintained, it would have been known that the Kuber, which had left Porbander to fish off Sir Creek, was overdue for several days.
A search operation would have located the Kuber far from that area and, possibly, thwarted the Mumbai attacks. Security of offshore installations continues to remain an area of concern.
Until now, the Indian Navy trained only to counter military threats from nation state adversaries. The emerging environment requires adjustment in this mindset. This is happening, even if slowly, but all its efforts will not succeed if the required command and control arrangements are not put in place. More asymmetric attacks must be expected from the sea, not necessarily repeats of 26/11 but exploiting that medium in some way or another.
A fully empowered organisational structure must be put in place urgently, which will be tasked to direct, rather than merely coordinate, all aspects of sea-based activity which have security implications. If this is not done very quickly, it will not be long before another Navy Chief will have to be pleading “systemic failure”.n
The writer is a former Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command

India's fresh security worry: growing China-Pak ties
SECURITY ENVIRONMENT: Defence Minister A K Antony worried about 'nexus'.

New Delhi: Growing military ties between China and Pakistan are a serious concern to India, Defence Minister A K Antony said on Friday.

India worries about China's rising influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, a neighbourhood New Delhi has traditionally considered as its sphere of influence. The Asian giants also jostle for global resources and influence.

China and Pakistan signed a military cooperation pact last year.

Whereas India's relations with old foe Pakistan dived after last year's Mumbai attacks, Beijing has funded projects in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, claimed by India, and raised hackles by issuing separate visas to Indian Kashmiris.

"The increasing nexus between China and Pakistan in military sphere remains an area of serious concern," Antony said in a speech.

"We have to carry out continuous appraisals of Chinese military capabilities and shape our responses accordingly. At the same time, we need to be vigilant at all times."

Tensions between India and China flared in recent months, especially with the re-emergence of a long-standing border dispute made worse by a visit by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, to Arunachal Pradesh, a state partially claimed by Beijing.

Pakistan PM warns Obama on Afghan escalation

The prime minister of Pakistan has warned the Obama administration against increasing troop levels in Afghanistan. The IAEA has levelled unprecedented criticism against Iran and its nuclear ambitions. The Indian defence minister has voiced concern over increasingly close ties between Beijing and Islamabad. All this and more, in today’s security update…

On Thursday, it was reported that Pakistan’s prime minister, Yusuf Gaza Gilani, warned the Obama administration of the dangers of increasing troop levels in Afghanistan. The prime minister expressed concerns that any such troop increase would lead to militants fleeing across the border into Balochistan, Pakistan’s restive northwest province, which is already gripped by insurgency.

Gilani’s comments comes just days before President Obama unveils his long anticipated new strategy for the Afghanistan war. It is widely expected that the president will order an increase of around 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, to prosecute a more ambitious counter-insurgency doctrine recommended by current US and ISAF commander General Stanley McChrystal.

In a further blow to NATO’s Afghan strategy, the most senior officer in the German Bundeswehr resigned over a coalition air strike in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province. Speaking in the Bundestag on Thursday, German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg announced that General Wolfgang Schneiderhan had ‘released himself from his duties at his own request’. General Schneiderhan’s resignation is reported to be in response to accusations that the government had misled the public regarding the number of civilian casualties incurred by a NATO air strike in Kunduz, carried out in September at the behest of a German colonel. The Afghan government reported that 69 Taliban fighters were killed and 30 civilians, but independent reports cite a civilian death count between 70 and 100. Commentators state that the F16 fighter bombers carrying out the air strike failed to perform a warning run required by new rules of engagement put in place by General McChrystal. Peter Wichert, a senior German defence official, also resigned over the incident.  

The openSecurity verdict: Pakistan has seen a dramatic rise in terrorist attacks in recent months; a trend linked by analysts to the increasingly robust approach taken by the government against Taliban strongholds in Pakistan’s unstable northwest frontier province. Such attacks supplement a long standing insurgency in Balochistan. Until recently this latter struggle was waged predominantly by Balochistani separatists, but Pakistani army offensives in Swat and South Waziristan have resulted in a flow of Taliban militants to Balochistan to continue the struggle against the Pakistani state.

The prime minister appealed to the US to consult Pakistan in any new change in strategy; though this is unlikely to reflect a genuine belief that Pakistan can influence American policy in this regard. Rather, his comments are thought to be aimed at the domestic audience in Pakistan, where there is continued resentment of the coalition presence in Afghanistan held to be culpable for the spate of suicide bombings in Pakistan’s northwest. 

The prime minister’s comments reflect the deep uncertainty surrounding any US surge in Afghanistan. While there may be immediate conventional military gains, the long term ramifications, particularly regarding the stability of Pakistan and security of its nuclear arsenal, are unclear. The resignation of General Schneiderhan is indicative of another aspect of ISAF’s efforts: the integrity of the coalition itself.

General Schneiderhan’s resignation comes at a time when the Bundestag is debating extending the mandate of the German contribution to ISAF, currently comprising 4,500 troops. Against the background of further military escalation in Afghanistan, additional incidents like the Kunduz air strike are inevitable. If their casualties continue to include the careers of senior defence officials and army chiefs, the prospects for continued international military engagement in Afghanistan will be bleak.

IAEA criticises Iran nuclear site

On Thursday and Friday, Iran was criticised heavily by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over its uranium enrichment facility at Qom. On Thursday, the outgoing director of the IAEA, Dr Mohammad ElBaradei, declared that Iran had been stonewalling investigations into whether it had been researching nuclear weapons designs. On Friday, the IAEA’s governing body voted overwhelmingly to censure Iran over its nuclear programme. In addition to the vote, which was carried by 25 to three, the governing body also voiced ‘serious concern; over the potential military applications of Iran’s nuclear programme, as well as demanding the immediate cessation of activity at the Qom plant.

Indian defence minister expresses concern over China-Pakistan alliance

On Friday, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony said that increasing military ties between China and Pakistan were a source of concern for India. In his speech, Antony said that ‘we have to carry out continuous appraisals of Chinese military capabilities and shape our responses accordingly’. In the context of the subcontinent, relations between Pakistan and India suffered considerably from the terrorist attack on Mumbai a year ago today, carried out by Laskar-e-Taiba, an organisation which reportedly enjoys the backing of Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence agency.

Conversely, ties between Pakistan and China have warmed in recent months, with the two countries agreeing to a defence pact last year, and Pakistani President Zadari giving support for Beijing’s policy against Muslim Uighur activists in China’s restive Xinjiang Autonomous Region. This latter move provided the Chinese government with a vital diplomatic windfall from a Muslim country in the midst of international condemnation over its handling of Uighur riots in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi.

Peace bid suffers as India seeks to malign Pakistan

* Ex-foreign secretary Tanvir Khan says India increasing pressure on Pakistan to amend mechanism of composite dialogue process

By Sajjad Malik

ISLAMABAD: The peace process between Pakistan and India remains in a state of limbo despite hectic international efforts to revive it, as New Delhi has refused to resume talks unless Islamabad makes “tangible” moves to punish the alleged perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.

“We do no see immediate chances of revival of the peace process, as instead of appreciating Pakistan’s act of arresting and beginning the trial of the alleged perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, India has been using the incident to malign Pakistan as a hub of terrorism,” senior diplomatic sources in Islamabad said.

“They (the Indians) see an opportunity in Pakistan’s problems and are pedalling a parallel agenda to drum up international support to bracket Pakistan with the states that sponsor terrorism,” the sources said.

The latest statements by Indian officials only added to the worries of Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh used his US visit to pressure Pakistan, while back home, the Indian army chief threatened Pakistan with a nuclear war scenario.

Former foreign secretary Tanvir Ahmad Khan said Singh used very strong language against Pakistan in the US. “India believes that Pakistan is weak due to its security and economic problems and it is trying to put more pressure [on Islamabad] before resuming the peace process,” Khan said.

Pakistan and India have exchanged some of the toughest statements since the Mumbai attacks.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in an interview with a German news wire accused India of having “visceral animosity towards Pakistan”, while the Foreign Office in a statement blamed India for “preparing for a limited war”.

Defence analyst Talat Masood says India deliberately began the recent spat of tough statements to highlight the US visit of Prime Minister Singh. “It was just posturing and whenever there is such a visit, they begin Pakistan-bashing,” he said.

Khan believes India is increasing pressure on Pakistan to amend the mechanism of the composite dialogue process.

Masood agrees, but says the worst is over. “India was waiting for the first anniversary of Mumbai attacks to pass peacefully and for Pakistan to do something solid against the alleged individuals,” he said.

Versions of Daksh to be displayed at Defence Expo
Express News Service Posted online: Saturday , Nov 28, 2009 at 0144 hrs
Pune : A few months ago, the Indian Army placed orders for an Improvised Explosives Device (IED) handling robot - Daksh - a two feet tall remote controlled machine used for removing improvised explosive devises. It can handle the IED from a distance, scan it to see if it contains a bomb and then disrupt it using a on-board water jet disrupter.

Now, the DRDO is coming out with varying versions of Daksh, which will be show-cased at the Defence Expo to be held in Delhi on February.

It is trying to build a smaller, more compact version which could be used by local law enforcement agencies like the CRPF, or the National Security Guard.

The R & D wing of the Indian Army is also working on a Gun mounted Robot. Instead of an IED handler, the robot will have a rifle, an LMG and a grenade launcher. This is designed somewhat along the lines of the Talon, a US made robot; around 1000 Talons have already been deployed by the US in the Iraq, said Alok Mukherjee, DRDO scientist.

“This could be useful in hostage situations. Instead of posting personnel on each and every corner, a robot loaded with arms could be sent to save lives,” he said.

Another version of the Daksh is the disrupter-mounted robot. While the original arm of the Daksh is used in handing IEDs, the disrupter-mounted version has no such appendage, reducing its weight. While Daksh is useful in handling suspect explosive objects before they are defused, the disrupter-mounted robot is designed just to destroy the suspect IED from a distance.

“It is a more inexpensive method. Instead of handling it and then defusing the explosive, the disrupter mounted robot defuses the explosive directly,” said Alok Mukherjee, DRDO scientist.

While the Daksh has already gone through stringent military trials, if the varying versions of the Daksh are to be inducted into the Armed Forces, they would have to go through the entire procedure.

Agni-II glitches to be removed: Antony
November 27th, 2009 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS Tell a Friend -

New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Friday downplayed the recent failure of the nuclear-capable intermediate range Agni-II missile’s test firing, saying scientists would soon rectify the glitches.
“It is not absolutely correct. Sometimes tests do fail,” Antony said in reply to a query if the test was a setback for India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.

“I am absolutely confident that DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) scientists will look into the problem and do away with it,” Antony added.

The first night test of the Agni-II missile Nov 23 turned out to be a failure. The surface-to-surface missile with a range of 2,000-plus km was tested from Wheeler’s Island - a launch site in Orissa’s Bhadrak district, about 200 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, at about 7.50 p.m.

The take-off and first phase separation went off smoothly. However, the second stage booster failed to function as expected. The test was a user trial to give the Indian Army the confidence to fire the missile whenever required.

Earlier this year, a daytime trial of the Agni-II was also a failure.

The Agni-II missile is 20 metres long and can carry a 1,000 kg payload. It weighs 17 tonnes and its range can be increased to 3,000 km by reducing the payload.

The Agni-II version of the Agni-series of missiles was first test fired in 1999.


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