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Sunday, 15 November 2009

From Today's Papers - 15 Nov 09

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Muslims asked to quit UK army 'for Islam'

Press Trust of India, Saturday November 14, 2009, London

A top Iranian spiritual leader has asked Muslims to quit the British army, saying that their involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is forbidden by Islam.

Ayatollah Abdolhossein Moezi, who is Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in Britain, asked Muslim personnel in the British Army to quit the military.

The 65-year-old cleric, who has been personally appointed by Khamenei to be his special envoy to the UK, underlined that it was wrong for followers of Islam to serve in the British military, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq where Muslims were being killed, The Times newspaper said on Saturday.

"Not only do I not accept it for Muslims to go there, I don't accept non-Muslims to go there as well," Ayatollah Moezi was quoted as saying by the British daily.

Ayatollah Moezi, the director of the Islamic Centre of England, said "Muslims are not allowed to go and kill Muslims". "Do you think that Christians are allowed to go and

kill Muslims?"

Ayatollah Moezi, the most senior Iranian spiritual leader in Britain with thousands of followers from the Shia sect, believes that Islam and politics are "inter-mixed" because religion "could not be ignorant of social issues". "And part of social issues is politics, therefore Islam should have some sort of eye on political issues," he said.

Obama says US won't be cowed by N Korea's threats

Press Trust of India / Tokyo November 14, 2009, 12:00 IST

Seeking a world free of atomic arms, President Barack Obama today asserted that the US and others will not "be cowed" by North Korea's threats to step up its nuclear programme and will advance the goal of securing all of the world's "vulnerable" material within four years.

"Next year at our Nuclear Security Summit, we will advance our goal of securing all of the world's vulnerable nuclear materials within four years," he said in his major policy speech on Asia at the Suntory Hall here before a 1500-strong audience.

Obama also stressed on the need of a world free of nuclear weapons for achieving "common security".

Noting that strengthening the global non-proliferation regime is not about singling out individual nations, he said it is about all nations living up to their responsibilities.

"That includes the Islamic Republic of Iran. And it includes North Korea," he said. "For decades, North Korea has chosen a path of confrontation and provocation, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons."

"It should be clear where that path leads. We have tightened sanctions on Pyongyang. We have passed the most sweeping UN Security Council resolution to date to restrict their weapons of mass destruction activities," he said.

"We will not be cowed by threats, and we will continue to send a clear message through our actions, and not just our words: North Korea's refusal to meet its international obligations will lead only to less security – not more," Obama said.

‘Armed Forces Tribunal to overcome HC limitations’
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 14
Provisions of the recently set up Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) have enabled it to overcome certain limitations imposed by the Constitution on the powers of high courts. This widens the ambit of judicial review by the AFT and its ability to grant relief to aggrieved military personnel.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Chandigarh Bench here today, AFT chairman Justice AK Mathur said the AFT would have the power to review trial evidence, something that the high courts cannot do under provisions of Article 226 of the Constitution.

Justice Mathur said more powers have been granted to the AFT vis-à-vis similar military tribunals that have been functioning in other countries for a long time. While many foreign military tribunals are primarily judicial bodies, the AFT here has original jurisdiction in regard to service matters as well as appellate jurisdiction over verdicts delivered by military courts.

The Chandigarh Bench, which would have jurisdiction over Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh, would begin functioning from its interim location at Chandigarh from November 16. About 3,500 cases pending before the high courts of these states would be transferred to this bench. It has already received about 30 such cases.

In his keynote address, Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice TS Thakur, said earlier the courts were hesitant to interfere in military matters. The perception changed later following a SC ruling that on joining the services individuals do not cease to be citizens of the country and were fully entitled to seek justice. Any injustice done to them that was not redressed was a calamity in itself, he added. Judicial intervention by the courts was justified, leading to a spate of service cases.

Pointing out that establishing tribunals was a way to ensure speedy justice and cut down the mammoth pendency of cases at all levels, he said the criticism of setting up the AFT received from some quarters was ill-found.

Justice Ghanshyam Prashad, the judicial member of the Chandigarh Bench, said despite constitutional provisions, it had taken the government 25 years to promulgate the AFT. Listing out the powers and functions of the AFT, he said the appeal to its orders lies only with the Supreme Court.

Pak army targets Waziristan, suicide attacks continue

November 14, 2009 21:39 IST

A suicide bomber on Saturday blew up a security check post near Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar, killing 10 persons, while seven militants died in clashes in South Waziristan where the Army captured the Takrai Sar area and secured a vital road link.

In continuing wave of violence in northwest Pakistan, a suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle, packed with 50 kg of explosives, when he was flagged at a checkpoint at Pishtakhara Chowk, the main entry point to Peshawar from the troubled Khyber tribal region.

The blast killed at least 10 people, including two women, two children and two policemen, and injured over 25 others. In operations in South Waziristan, the Pakistani military claimed to have killed seven militants in fierce clashes during the past 24 hours. Four soldiers were also injured in the region where security forces were consolidating their positions and conducting search operations.

Four militants were killed in clashes when troops captured the important feature of Takrai Sar located northeast of Ladha, a former Taliban [ Images ] stronghold, the military said in a statement.

Three militants were killed and a soldier was injured in clashes that occurred while security forces secured a key road linking Makeen in North Waziristan to Lattaka Narai, the military said.

The powerful blast on the outskirts of Peshawar blew up a number of other vehicles lined up at the check post. A large number of people were present in a nearby bus stand and commercial area when the blast occurred at about 4.15 pm.

Hospital officials said 10 people, including two children, two women and two policemen, were killed and over 25 injured. Several of the injured, including women, are in a critical condition, they said.

The bomber came in a car from the direction of Bara, a town in Khyber Agency, and blew himself up when police were checking his vehicle, district administration chief Shahibzada Anees said.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Vehicles entering Peshawar from the Khyber Agency are checked at the check post in Pishtakhara Chowk. Pakistani security forces have been conducting operations against militants in Khyber Agency.

The NWFP has witnessed a wave of suicide attacks and bombings since the army launched an operation against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in South Waziristan tribal region.

Suicide car bombers on Friday struck the Inter-Services Intelligence agency's headquarters in Peshawar and a police station in Bannu, killing 20 people and injuring 85 others.

In Waziristan, three soldiers were injured during a gun battle with militants at Ahmed Wam, a Taliban stronghold near Sararogha, which was recently cleared by the army.

Soldiers moving forward from Makeen had linked up with troops advancing from Kaniguram, a militant stronghold that was captured recently.

Army foils infiltration bid along LoC, 5 terrorists killed

November 14, 2009 19:57 IST

The Indian Army [ Images ] on Saturday killed five terrorists, foiling an infiltration bid on the Line of Control [ Images ] in the Uri sector of north Kashmir's [ Images ] Baramulla district.

A defence spokesman in Srinagar [ Images ] said alert troops noticed movement along the LoC in the afternoon in the Kalapahar area of the Uri sector and challenged the infiltrators.

"The terrorists opened fire at the troops, which was returned, resulting in an encounter that is still on and so far bodies of five terrorists have been recovered," Lt Col JS Brar said.

A Tribune Special
To test or not to test
K. Santhanam and Ashok Parthasarathi join the scientists’ debate

WE respond to R. Ramachandran’s article, “Why There is No Case for Further Nuclear Tests” (The Hindu, September 25, 2009). His main points are: “technical information published by the Department of Atomic Energy does not show Pokhran-II (P-2) was unsuccessful”; (b) an assertion: there are compelling arguments against need for resuming (thermonuclear (H-bomb) device testing). Even if it was so i.e. even if the thermonuclear test was a failure (c) “the DAE employed different techniques to estimate test yields (i.e. power outputs); (d) yield values from other five tests “are stated to be”! (by BARC) consistent with its original estimate of 60 kilotonnes (a bomb’s output equal to 60,000 tonnes of TNT) for the two main tests on May 11, 1998, i.e. a 45-kt (thermonuclear or TN) device and a 15 kt A-bomb exploded simultaneously. Of these, post-shot Radio-Chemical Method (RCM) (of device yield measurement) considered most accurate; (e) both A-bomb “trigger” and main H-bomb produce a type of nuclear particles called Neutrons.

However, H-bomb devices, produce more Neutrons than A-bombs. This leads to considerably larger amounts of two artificially created radio-isotopes — Manganese 54 and Sodium 22 — being produced by the TN device than the A-bomb. This higher ratio of Manganese 54: Sodium22 in the H-bomb explosion does provide an “idea” of the A–vs – H-bomb/device yields (no numbers at all; only “an idea” of relative yield magnitudes); and this is supposed to be nuclear “physics”!).

The writer’s justification: “The absolute values and scale of this higher ratio, (in TN device case) withheld for “obvious” sensitivity reasons, but qualitative difference in levels is evident”. The writer’s source: a BARC Newsletter article (July 1999). It is not a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

(f) His last technical “scoring-point” is a “desperate explanation” of why and how, while the “pure” A-bomb of the BARC-claimed yield of only 15 kt – when its collaborator in P-2 – DRDO, and our top scientific institutions, as also numerous top nuclear weapons laboratories worldwide, have rated it at much higher 20-25 kt, produced a crater 25 meters in diameter — which the BARC dishonestly-claimed yield of only 15 kt could never have produced — the BARC–claimed -to-be-“successful” -H-bomb-of-45 kt, – thrice as powerful – even at BARC de-rated 15 kt yield pure ‘A’ bomb – produced no crater at all when a genuine 45 kt TN device, even common sense tell us, should have produced a gigantic crater. He says “at some low enough TN device emplacements, i.e. deep enough shafts, there would (only be) upheaval within the shaft) but no material... There would be no crater”!

Here is our response. As regards Mr Ramachandran’s regurgitation of the BARC argument that it used different techniques in yield estimation, he was not personally involved in the tests. Mr Santhanam was one of the four key scientists directing P-2 from day 1. So, he can only say “45 kt fusion device and 15 kt fission bomb “are stated to be” (by BARC) “consistent with original estimates”. On what basis can he say this when those estimates are highly classified?

As for post-shot RCM being “most accurate” (for nuclear explosions yield (power) estimation), former BARC Director’s Radiochemistry Division (RCD) told us: “I measured yield of (P-I) (1974) using Mass Spectrometry (MS) method. A microgram of plutonium was separated from sample taken near core of device, and its isotopic composition — which does not change with various transformations caused by nuclear tests — measured.

The MS technique considered internationally the most accurate and reliable method for yield estimation even more accurate than RCM (which the writer tomtoms about, without knowing about nuclear weapon yield measurement). The MSM is far less sensitive to major weakness of the RCM. That’s why Dr Ramanna, former BARC Director, former AEC Chairman, and Mission Director P-1, insisted on the MS method for (P-1) yield estimation in 1974. If the MS method was used in (P-2) also, why exclude it in the BARC’s briefing to Mr Ramachandran?

Using S.B. Manohar’s article (BARC Newsletter, July 9, 1999) on RCM to determine TN device yield lacks credibility as it is an inhouse publication.

As for the BARC argument, the TN device produced “copious amounts” of Sodium-22 and Manganese-54 isotopes “characteristic of fusion reactions”, in the absence of exact numbers, it is an unsubstantiated assertion. A “fizzled” TN device also produces “copious amounts” of these isotopes.

Moreover, mere presence of isotopes is not a quantitative yield measure. It can at best be a qualitative indicator. This obfuscation becomes worse when the writer said, “…it does provide an idea of the comparative (i.e. H-bomb vis-a-vis A-bomb) yields”! As a scientist, he ought to know that precise quantified statements are core of science and scientific credibility. Using an imprecise phrase like “copious amounts” begs the question.

“The classified exact plutonium mass in the core of the (P-1) device may not have been known to the RC Division of BARC after P-1. However, RC measurements in RCD’s report indicated yield are significantly lower than Ramanna’s and Chidambaram’s claim. So, RCD’s report on yield of (P-1) was frozen by Ramanna and Chidambaram and consigned to the archives”!

The writer then moves to our statement that had TN test really worked, the 120-meter deep shaft at the bottom of which the TN device was emplaced, would have been totally destroyed and its deepest portions even vapourised. There would, in addition, have been enormous surface damage to even massive 2-tonne and 8-meter high tripod “A-frame” astride the shaft’s mouth. This “A-Frame” has a complex set of winches and pullies connected at their bottom to a lift-like “container” to lower and raise personnel, equipment and materials to and from the bottom of the shaft when the TN device is being assembled would have been shattered.

Both were totally intact after the TN device test. Mr Ramachandran has ignored this damning evidence that the TN device failed! He moves to the issue of cratering, using the BARC’s arguments on geological and TN device-related factors preventing crater formation by 45 kt yield TN device. Based on 25 metre diameter crater formed by 20-25 kt “pure” A-bomb (which BARC rates at only 15 kt yield), the DRDO calculated a 60-70 meter diameter crater should have been formed by the latter fully confirmed by the ARC. Thus, one needs a cogent response from Mr Ramachandran why and how such a phenomenon is supposed to have occurred.

The super hi-tech ARC, independent of both BARC and DRDO with a 365 x 24 x 7 operated very large seismic array, 10-15 per cent more sensitive and accurate than DRDO’s, measured all the seismic signals from all P-2 tests. Their calculations, far more sophisticated than BARC’s, indicated a TN device yield at only 20 kt max.

Mr Ramachandran then moves to the article by former DRDO chief and strategic affairs analyst, V.S. Arunachalam and K. Subramanian, respectively (The Hindu, September 21). They say, even a 25 kt A-bomb’s damage on enemy city targets with large populations would be ‘unacceptable’ to any adversary and so such A- bombs would be enough for us to deter even China having 200 deployed H- bombs of 3.3-5 megatons yields each.

Surprisingly, though they argued for decades that H-bombs were central to our Credible Minimum Deterrent (CMD), they suddenly say A-bombs (which cannot yield more than 80 kt max) are enough. Why? Sour grapes following the TN device failure and no weaponisation for the last 11 years! China would be totally undeterred by our piffling A-bomb “arsenal” of yields.

We reiterate our view, fully shared by the overwhelming majority of our nuclear scientists, strategic analysts and, above all, our military, that a sole A-bomb arsenal is grossly inadequate to be a CMD against China; only TN bombs can do so. Otherwise, why did four Prime Ministers (including Mr Vajpayee and his NSA Mr Brajesh Mishra) direct the top of BARC-DRDO leadership — Mr Kalam, Mr Chidambaram, Mr Santhanam and Mr Kakodkar — that one Pokhran-II test at least must be a TN device?

The current “controversy” over the failure of the sole H-bomb test of P-2 is the only case of the long history of DAE, BARC being “highly economic with truth” and using such “economy” to protect themselves from public criticism of major failures in various programmes and projects. The failures have been screened from public gaze on unwarranted and secrecy grounds.

Worse, the DAE has tried to hide facts from successive governments, Parliament and the people, causing damage to our nuclear programme and national security. The Prime Minister and the Union Cabinet must help stop this. The nation waits with bated breath if they can or will.

K. Santhanam is a former Chief Adviser (Technologies), DRDO and Programme Director, Pokhran II; and Ashok Parthasarathi is a former Scientific and Technology Adviser to late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

India-Myanmar ties: A strategic perspective
by Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (retd)

Recent developments indicate that the international community has initiated the first steps to gradually open up to Myanmar. Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, perhaps the most famous prisoner in the world after Nelson Mandela, has met Western diplomats in Yangon. Speculation is rife that sanctions may soon be lifted.

India’s relations with Myanmar, a devoutly Buddhist country, have been traditionally close and friendly. Geographically, India and Myanmar share a long land and maritime boundary, including in the area of the strategically important Andaman and Nicobar islands where the two closest Indian and Myanmarese islands are barely 30 km apart.

Myanmarese ports provide India the shortest approach route to several of India’s north-eastern states.

India’s national interest lies in a strong and stable Myanmar that observes strict neutrality between India and China and cooperates with India in the common fight against the insurgencies raging in the border areas of both the countries. For India, Myanmar is a bridge with Southeast Asia. In fact, it is a bridge between all the countries comprising the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC – Myanmar has observer status) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed growing strategic engagement between India and Myanmar. According to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, relations with Myanmar have become truly multi-faceted… “with cooperation in a range of developmental and other projects in the areas of roads, power, hydro-carbon, oil refinery, transmission lines, telecommunications and information technology.”

The key drivers of the India-Myanmar strategic relationship are cooperation in counter-insurgency operations and the need for India to ensure that Myanmar is not driven into Chinese arms through Indian neglect of its security concerns and arms requirements. Indian insurgent groups (the NSCN, ULFA and Manipur rebels among others) have been operating out of bases in the weakly controlled areas across the borders of the Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram and Myanmarese rebels, primarily the Chins and the Arakanese, have often taken shelter on the Indian side.

It is in the interest of both the countries to cooperate with each other to fight these insurgent groups in a coordinated manner.

In April-May 1995, during Operation Golden Bird, a joint operation, approximately 40 insurgents were been killed and a huge cache of arms was recovered. Since then, the two armies have been cooperating with each other for mutual benefit.

In November 2001, the Myanmar Army had raided several Manipuri rebel bases, rounded up almost 200 rebels and recovered 1,500 guns. India-Myanmar cooperation is also essential to control narcotics trafficking and to curb the proliferation of small arms in the region.

China has made rapid advances into Myanmar and established close political, military and economic relations. Myanmar provides China the shortest land route access to the northern Indian Ocean. China has signed a long-term agreement with Myanmar for the exploitation of its hydrocarbon reserves and for the transportation of oil and gas through a 1,100 km overland pipeline from Kyaukryu port in Myanmar to the border city of Ruili in Yunnan.

This pipeline will reduce the distance by 1,200 km and make China less dependent on the Malacca Straits. China is also developing Sittwe as a commercial port on the west coast. It is natural that Chinese naval activity in the Bay of Bengal will soon follow.

China has also been stepping up arms sales to Myanmar as other nations, including India, are loathe to sell offensive military hardware to the country. China is reported to have told Myanmar to take artillery guns from North Korea in return for rice.

Radars have been reported to have been erected on Myanmar’s west coast to monitor Indian missile tests. This is not a positive development as it will further increase Myanmar’s dependency on China. However, indications from the military regime are that it does not want China to exercise undue influence in Myanmar’s internal affairs.

Reports of Myanmar’s quest for the acquisition of nuclear weapons from North Korea (with Chinese and Pakistani help), though uncorroborated, are of concern to India as nuclear weapons in the hands of another military regime would not be conducive to long-term strategic stability in South Asia.

If the news about Myanmar’s nuclear ambitions is true, the international community must adopt all measures to necessary to prevent the emergence of another nuclear weapon state in the region.

While India is concerned with the slow pace of progress on the issue of national reconciliation and the consequent delay in installing a democratically elected government in power in Yangon, the strategic scenario compels India to balance its security concerns with its support for the emergence of democratic rule.

It is only through close engagement that India can promote leverages with the ruling regime to nudge it gently towards national reconciliation. India must also increase its economic footprint in Myanmar, particularly in areas that are contiguous to India.

The military regime is firmly entrenched in power — the monks’ agitation notwithstanding. Sanctions and other diplomatic pressures have not worked in the past and are unlikely to work in the future.

The fear psychosis of Myanmar’s military junta is being exploited by China and this cannot be in the interest of either India or any of the other democracies of the free world. It is important to end Myanmar’s isolation and to allay its fears that the whole world is ganging up against it.

India and the other regional powers can play a positive role in the re-entry of Myanmar into the international mainstream so that it can be nudged towards becoming a strong democracy that is also mature and responsible and willing to play by the rules and traditions governing international relations.

Perhaps multi-national talks, which include India, China, Japan, ASEAN and other stakeholders, would be the best way forward. At least in the initial stages it may be prudent for the US to stay away from such talks.

The writer is Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi

Informal service: In the Israeli military, gays serve openly, women can let their hair down and everyone is on a first-name basis

By Nancy Montgomery, Stars and Stripes

Mideast edition, Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nancy Montgomery / S&S

Israeli troops are a visible presence throughout Tel Aviv and Jerusalem -- including female soldiers with their hair in a ponytails and their uniforms tailored to fit just so.

Nancy Montgomery / S&S

Israeli soldiers grab a bite to eat in Tel Aviv.

Nancy Montgomery / S&S

Female troops with the Israeli Defense Forces have more relaxed uniform requirements than women in the U.S. forces. They may wear sandals and jewelry, carry purses and keep their hair in long, loose ponytails. At a dinner at the start of a joint U.S-Israeli missile defense exercise, U.S. Army Capt. Stephen Hummel poses with IDF Capt. Ofer Yizhar-Barnea, left, and 2nd Lt. Ayelet Yosef.

Nancy Montgomery / S&S

Maya Cohen was in the Israeli army a decade ago, working as a secretary. She said she was proud to do her compulsory service and viewed anyone who did not serve with disdain.

TEL AVIV, Israel — Female U.S. soldiers training in Israel recently couldn’t help but notice that their Israeli counterparts looked very different.

Their hair hung down their backs in loose, fetching ponytails.

“How is the mask going to fit over it?” asked U.S. Army Sgt. Delvona Maria, a practical-minded chemical specialist with the 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, who, like many U.S. female soldiers, wears her hair pulled tightly back and pinned up. “How would you get a seal?”

And the Israeli women sported sandals on their feet, with nicely painted nails.

“The flip-flops?” Maria said, incredulous. “No. We’re around heavy equipment.”

The young women’s uniforms consisted of trim shirts tucked into hip-huggers — some of them tailored to fit just so.

“We’re not going there,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Ciocca, the commander of the battalion that recently spent three weeks in Israel on a missile defense exercise.

The Israeli women’s appearance reflected just one of the differences between the military forces of a long-standing alliance: the U.S., in which all troops are volunteers, and Israel, the only Western power and one of a handful of countries that conscripts women as well as men.

The Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, are a central part of a country formed as a home and refuge in disputed lands 61 years ago, after 6 million Jews had been killed in the Holocaust. At war continuously since then with the Palestinians they displaced, and viewed as having no right to exist by neighbors such as Iran, Israeli society has been built partly on the idea that projecting superior military strength is key to its survival.

Jewish Israelis are drafted at age 18, their unit assignments decided by a battery of tests and interviews they undergo in high school. Men must serve three years; women, usually two.

Although ultra-orthodox Jews seek deferments on religious grounds, and the number of all Israelis seeking deferments has grown in recent years, most serve willingly, part of what they see as a sort of sacred duty.

“It’s a must. Someone gives something,” said Maya Cohen, who served 10 years ago and now works at a Tel Aviv hostel. “I was very proud. I look very badly at people who don’t serve.”

“I really felt compelled, like it was my duty,” said Ariel Altmann, who served in a combat unit in the Lebanon war in 2006 and in operations in the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2007. “I didn’t perceive the military service as a job.”

Altmann, who trained with U.S. forces, said he viewed the U.S. military as highly “professional” compared to the IDF.

“Here, there’s a lot more emotion in it,” he said. “A lot more anger, maybe.”

Unlike college-educated U.S. officers, those entering the IDF become officers straight out of high school, based on their preconscription tests and completion of officer school. The school has a high attrition rate, and those who are dropped serve their time as enlisted soldiers.

But rank isn’t as important as it is in the U.S. armed forces. Soldiers and their commanders call each other by their first names, a big contrast to the way U.S. troops address their leaders.

“I’m a little more formal than some of my colleagues. I’ll say, ‘colonel,’ ” said Lt. Barak Raz, a former IDF combat engineer who was born in Queens, N.Y., and is currently assigned to public affairs duty. “And they’ll bust my chops for doing so.”

“You’re starting with a very small country with a lot of Jewish family values. Everybody has to do it, so everyone identifies with each other. Basically, if there’s one thing that can sum it up, in Hebrew it’s ‘Tsva-am’ — the people’s army.”

With the exception of the Druze community living in northern Israel, Arab Israelis are not subject to the draft, and few volunteer.

That reinforces social inequalities in a country where military service is highly rewarded.

“Citizens who do not perform military service enjoy less access to social and economic benefits,” a U.S. State Department report in February pointed out.

Feminists, too, long criticized the IDF as a sort of men’s club that offered power and privilege.

“For decades, it was widely accepted that some of Israel’s top military officers and government ministers considered sexual encounters with female employees a seigniorial right,” according to a 2006 New York Times report.

In 1998, Israel passed a sweeping sexual harassment law, inspired in part by American legislation, and the situation for female soldiers has improved.

But last year, 363 sexual harassment complaints were filed, mainly by female soldiers doing their compulsory service, according to the newspaper Haaretz, and an IDF survey showed that one in seven female soldiers reported sexual harassment. Yet 37 percent of female soldiers who had said they were sexually attacked or harassed did not pursue the complaint, the newspaper reported.

When she served about a decade ago, Cohen said, she worked as a secretary for a female officer and did not experience sexual harassment. Still, she said, women were “not at all equal.”

“They have nice names for the duty, but it’s just a name,” she said. “In a paratrooper unit, her job is actually folding the parachute. And she would be called a paratrooper.”

Altmann said he had a female friend who is serving as a combat pilot, perhaps the most prestigious assignment in the IDF and a field that opened up to women after a 1995 court case that resulted in the first female fighter pilot in 2001. “She’s a girl, and she’s doing the job just as well,” he said.

Women first began entering pilot training in the U.S. in 1974, and were allowed to become fighter pilots in 1993.

Israeli women now also serve as artillery crewmembers, gunnery instructors and officers in charge of men.

But just as in the U.S. military, most combat positions remain closed to women, which women’s advocates say harms their chances for advancement.

But unlike in the U.S. military, gay people are expected to serve, and do so openly.

“I know a few gay people in the army and people knew and their commanders knew and it was not a problem,” Altmann said. Still, he said, they did not serve, as far as he knew, in the infantry.

“The whole ambience — it’s very masculine,” he said. “In a combat unit, if he would say he’s gay, it wouldn’t be comfortable for anyone.”

Israel signs $1.1 billion defense deal with India

JERUSALEM: November 14, 2009. Israel will supply an upgraded air defense system to India. Israel signed the $1.1 billion contract Monday during a visit to Israel by the head of India's army, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, Reuters reported.

The state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. has promised to deliver the Barak-8 tactical air defense system to India by 2017.

Israel is India's largest defense supplier.

In August, the Indian cabinet approved a $1 billion deal with the Israeli government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense System under which the company will provide 18 of its SPYDER air defense system, which can intercept missiles in a 25-mile radius, by 2012.

Need to check shortage of officers in Indian army

Indian army is short of as many as 11238 officers and it is increasing year after year. The reason is that officers leave the army on superannuation or take voluntary retirement to join more lucrative jobs in private or multi-national companies.

CJ: Chitranjan Sawant

Sixth Pay Commission: Fight ensues for equality

AN ARMY officer is a leader of soldiers he commands. He leads them into battle. On his, foresight, patience, perseverance and moral courage depends the outcome of a battle. If the officer is physically fit, mentally alert and spiritually robust and well trained to handle his job, has acquired leadership qualities, then he will command the respect of soldiers he leads. They will have implicit faith in him and carry out his orders even if they have to risk their lives for it. It is the officer who leads his soldiers from the front, practices what he preaches and keeps the honour, safety and welfare of his country first always and every time. He cares for men under his command in the same way and puts his own safety and welfare last always and every time.

An army officer of this calibre is trained at the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. On successful completion of his training when a gentleman cadet passes out of his alma mater he is a perfect model of an officer and a gentleman.

Locating officer material

Where is the officer material found? Well, find the potential officer among citizens of India in average homes in towns and villages and train him to perfection. An officer is not born but made. In the medieval age it was believed that officers come from among the royalty alone or from the ruling classes or the so-called martial classes. However, the two world wars proved that only the aforesaid specified classes cannot provide the large number of officers needed by the armed forces. The common folks rose to the occasion and provided good officer material that was trained to become fine officers and leaders of men who won battles. So far so good. Now in the 21st century, our Indian Army is facing an acute shortage of officers and many units are so deficient of officers that their battle efficiency is adversely affected. It has so happened because over a period of time the officers in the army lost luster and were down- graded in the social set up. It is unbelievable but true.

As of now, the Indian army is short of as many as 11238 officers and does not know where to get them from. The shortage of officers is increasing year after year. The reason is that more officers leave the army on superannuation or take voluntary retirement to join more lucrative jobs in private or multi-national companies. In the year 2008, there was an intake of 1500 officers but as many as 1800 officers said good bye to the uniformed service. It was hoped that the economic recession and shrinkage of job opportunities elsewhere will reroute talented young men to the officer cadre of the army. Sadly it did not happen. The youth don’t find the army service attractive enough to make a bid for it in preference to becoming an executive in a multinational company or joining the Indian administrative service to become administrators. It is understood that big money lies there and not in the army service. Of course, patriotism attracts the youth to the army to defend the motherland. With a rise in external and internal threats and Islamist terrorism gaining ground, some young men feel that joining the army is a step forward towards patriotism.

The Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations and their implementation provide a silver lining to the dark cloud. The pay and perks are now fairly attractive and it is hoped that the youth will now prefer the army to a non-cushy job in the civil.

Mental make up of men and women

The school syllabus may have to be moulded in such a way that patriotism, defence of the nation and stories eulogising gallantry and heroic actions of our leaders of soldiers in the past like Maharana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, men of principles and action of our legendary past like Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram and Yogeshwar Shri Krishna are taught to mould minds of young men and women. Such motivated men and women will not only join the armed forces but also motivate others to follow suit.

Young women who don’t join the army have another important role to play. They may opt to marry army officers and encourage their female friends to follow suit. If pretty young women in large numbers come forward to marry army officers, the stock of army officers in social circles goes up. This in turn provides indirect motivation to other young men to join the corps of officers and serve the nation. One should remember that marriage is the bedrock of happy family life. A happy family is the basic unit that makes a nation happy. A happy nation thinks well, acts well and does problem solving effectively. Thereafter, winning a battle becomes a matter of battle procedure and the overawed enemy either turns tail or lays down arms in surrender. Thus a correct mental make -up that leads to happiness of the family is a battle winning factor. An army that comes to be known as a winner attracts more young men who are good officer material. Thus, it is a chain reaction of the good attracting the good leading to the better and the best in life.

Amelioration of hard living

A whispering campaign among young nubile girls in colleges has had adverse effect on army officers finding good brides. The whisper pertained to the hard living conditions in non-peace stations and hard peace stations. The newly-wed couples don’t mind living in one-room tenements in hard peace stations as it is quite cosy. In some stations these are called ‘honeymoon quarters or mercy quarters’. However, some who stay in transit camps find the fixed menu, the bill of fare rather a bore and an appetite killer. Once a bride complained of repeat bill of fare and got a polite reply “Madam, this is a transit officers mess. Here the officers change, not the menu.” Jokes apart. One needs a good will power to survive on that kind of food for a long time.

With the passage of time, children born and grow up. The problem of education arises. Fortunately, the army schools have ameliorated the educational hardship quite a bit but not wholly. The higher education is also now being looked after by the army in medical and technical fields. This should be made known to rank and file so that all concerned know that the army life is now liveable and the anti-publicity is a legacy of the lingering past. It will indeed put paid to civilian establishments stealing the talented youth from the army. Guarding its youth pool and putting a stop to brain drain will enrich the corps of officers day by day.

The army should keep the media, both print and electronic, on its right side so that the good word is spread to every nook and corner of the country. The good word is: the Indian army looks after its personnel and the future of the new generation is bright. Join the corps of officers of the Indian Army and believe in the dictum

Indian Army may go for Tank-EX to avoid Arjun MBT


Indian Army after years of testing Arjun MBT and refusing to induct them under various grounds and even openly complaining to MOD of the so called defects it had found. Army is finding it harder to refuse to induct more than 126 tanks which it has ordered, 126 Arjun MBT production is almost complete and last batch will be supplied by mid next year and Indian army still not put any further orders for the tanks yet and If fresh orders are not placed soon production line will go dry and engineers and machinery will have to be shifted to work on T-90s Tanks which is under license local production from Russian for 1000 tanks to be inducted in next decade or so , But the constant pressure from MOD and DRDO on Indian Army to put fresh orders for the Tanks might put into lime light another in house tank development which has been going on in DRDO ,Tank-EX an in house development which DRDO carried out and the first prototype which shown to public in 2002 is a modified low silhouette chassis of in-service T-72 tank and a re-engineered Arjun MBT turret. Two Tank-EX Prototype have been build by DRDO and have been given to Army for trials, Tank-EX is more of a hybrid between the Arjun tank and the T-72M1, with armor and firepower characteristics used from both models. The Tank -Ex at 47 tons is heavier than the T-72M1 (41 tons) and much lighter than the Arjun MBT, which is 58.5 tons. What started off has an upgrade package for the large older T-72 tank fleet, turnout to be new different new MBT, but on 5 July 2008 Indian Army’s Director General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF) Gen. Dalip Bhardwaj rejected Tank-EX on grounds which were never made public, While Indian army has been dragging its feet over issuing fresh order of Arjun Tank. On other hand DRDO has been trying every trick in the book to get further orders, Arjun MBT has been tested and vouched by an International Tank Maker (IDF Ordnance and IMI)of its superior quality and Battlefield and combat readiness, DRDO also slated that Colombia has shown interest in buying India’s indigenous Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun. Recently Army has asked DRDO if modified chassis of T-90s can be integrated with Arjun MBT Turret or new improved Tank-EX can be build using the original design while DRDO thinks it is a tactics which army is using to further delay order for Arjun MBT and Army has been also looking for co-development of Next Russian MBT to kill Arjun Project for once it for all, Armies tactics are not have succeeded yet but round of talks are been held in MOD with army generals to clear their proposals. Who will win this battle of MBT is still to be seen, we can only hope in house R&D is not wasted and utilized in proper way whichever way it comes.

MY TAKE : Articles are written by Readers of and not by IDRW Team ,Views Expressed are the views of the Readers and not of IDRW.ORG or IDRW TEAM , for more information on MY Take please Follow the link

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