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Thursday, 17 December 2009

From Today's Papers - 17 Dec 09






China to train Nepal army
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 16
Just two days after President Pratibha Patil conferred the rank of “Honorary General” on the Chief of Nepal Army General Chhatraman Singh Gurung, India’s move of rolling out red carpet for Nepal has been somewhat upstaged by China’s latest strategic move.

Reports from Kathmandu today said China would train the Nepalese Army and it has also pledged Rs 220 million as military assistance for procuring “non lethal” hardware and logistics to Nepal. This comes even as General Gurung is on eight-day visit to India. He has met the top brass including the Defence Minister AK Antony seeking cooperation. He has also sought for tanks, an airstrip and recruitment of Gurkhas to be conducted by the Indian Army in Nepalese soil.
A Chinese military delegation led by Maj Gen Jia Jialing has met Nepal Defence Minister Vidya Bhandari, after which it has emerged that China and India are now locked in fight over “helping Nepal”. Notably, Indian Intelligence agencies had warned a fortnight ago about the impending meeting and the probability of some “big announcement” coming at the end of this. With its latest move China has managed to build a “relationship” with yet another nation that borders India.
A senior China watcher pointed out that it was Nepal, sandwiched between India and China, which was playing on nerves of two powers and playing a balancing act. For China, it is a major score to further its military policy of surrounding India with what it calls the theory of “string of pearls”.
It already has a long standing partnership with Pakistan, where it is building ports, supplying fighters, tanks, and nuclear-tipped missiles. This had recently forced Antony to term the relationship as “military nexus”.
A few years back China had build a major relationship with Sri Lanka by constructing a brand new sea port at Hambantota facing the India Ocean. In lieu, Chinese Navy ships get re-fuelling facilities at Sri Lanka. It has strategic interests in Myanmar for its gas fields and is helping that nation is building roads and infrastructure.
Meanwhile, what should worry India are the reports from Kathmandu that quoted Adviser to Nepal Defence Minister Subhash Devkota as having that the money (Rs 220 million) from China will be utilised to supply the “non-lethal” military hardware, including logistics and training to the Nepal Army.
It was these worries that had forced India to welcome the Nepal Army Chief and use his old association with India hoping to counter China’s activity in Nepal. General Gurung was chief guest at the passing-out-parade at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun on Saturday. India’s security perspectives and concerns in the region have figured in the discussions, said a senior official.





Indian weapons are fully secure: Army chief
Press Trust of India / New Delhi December 16, 2009, 16:45 IST

With intelligence inputs suggesting that terrorists were planning to attack country's nuclear installations, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor today said Indian weapons were "fully secure" and that there was no doubt about their safety.

"As far as Indian nuclear weapons are concerned, I can assure you that whatever weapons we have, they are fully secure and there is no doubt about their safety," he told reporters here.

On Tuesday, the Home Ministry had issued an alert that Taliban-trained 'fidayeen' (suicide squad) have entered the country to carry out attacks at specific installations, including Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and defence establishments among others.

The Home Ministry had alerted Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat and Delhi Police to take necessary measures to beef up security in the potential targets and intensify patrolling, specially in airports, railway stations, bus terminus and hotels.

Responding to a question on fortification of bunkers and posts by Pakistani forces along the International Border and the Line of Control, the Army Chief said, "some of these structures have come up and some others in other areas do keep coming up. It is also part of the kind of defensive preparation, which a country can do."

Kapoor said the forces will take stock of the development for some time to see the effect of the additional fortification of these bunkers and posts.





No Taliban anywhere in India: army

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Indian Army on Wednesday rubbished reports of the presence of the Taliban in Indian-held Kashmir and across India.

Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor told reporters that the country’s nuclear assets were “fully secure” and there was no doubt about their safety.

“As far as Indian nuclear weapons are concerned, I can assure you that whatever weapons we have, they are fully secure and there is no doubt about their safety,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Indian Home Ministry had issued an alert that Taliban-trained suicide bombers had entered the country to carry out attacks at specific installations, including at Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and defence establishments.

The Home Ministry had alerted state governments of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat and Delhi police to take necessary measures to beef up security and intensify patrolling, specially at airports, railway stations, bus terminus and hotels.

In IHK, 16 Corps General Officer Commanding Lt Gen Rameshwar Roy ruled out the presence of the Taliban, adding there had been no increase in the number of foreign militants in the state as of now. He ruled out reports that top Taliban commanders were in IHK for recruiting new cadres.

Commenting on the Pakistani military’s operation against extremists, Gen Roy said the military “is resorting to massive human rights violations on Pushtoons, the Taliban and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan”.

To a question about Pakistan’s attitude to aiding cross-border terrorism in IHK, he said, “It is still running on its old policy.”





India urgently needs chief of defence staff'
Rajat Pandit, TNN 17 December 2009, 03:06am IST
NEW DELHI: India urgently needs a General No.1 or a chief of defence staff (CDS) as well as concrete long-term strategic planning. Lame excuses by the government or the defence ministry (MoD) in these critical matters will simply not do any longer.

This, in essence, is the judgment of the parliamentary standing committee on defence, in its latest reports tabled in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, which tear into the government for taking perfunctory steps on such issues.

In a series of articles, TOI has highlighted the need for a CDS to usher in meaningful reforms in the higher defence establishment, as also that both the NDA and UPA governments have used the ruse of the `need to consult various political parties' to keep the post in cold storage.

Both the Kargil Review Committee and the subsequent GoM report in 2001 on reforming the national security system had stressed the need for a CDS to provide single-point military advice to the government and manage the country's nuclear arsenal.

The post, over the three Service chiefs, will also bring `jointness' or synergy among Army, Navy and IAF — which often pull in different directions — by resolving inter-Service doctrinal, planning, procurement and operational issues.

The committee found it shocking the government was yet to make `concerted efforts' on the CDS post even after eight years. "The committee fails to understand the lack of political consensus on such an important issue concerning the nation's security," it said.

Holding that the `efficacy' of the CDS system had been proved in 67 countries, including US, UK, Germany and France, it rejected defence minister A K Antony's contention of having initiated the process to consult various national political parties in March 2006.

"Merely writing letters, even from the level of the defence minister, is not sufficient," it said. Instead, there is an `urgent need' to engage top political leaders, in and out of Parliament, and take `effective steps' to `expeditiously' set up the CDS institution.

The utter lack of long-term strategic planning to build military capabilities in a systematic manner in tune with the country's growing geopolitical aspirations also came in for a lot of hammering.

Criticising MoD's `callous and lackadaisical attitude', the committee said `a fresh' LTIPP (long-term integrated perspective plan) for 2012-2027 was now being evolved on the basis of the `recast' 11th five-year defence plan (2007-2012), which itself was yet to get final clearance.

The committee also blasted MoD for failing to:
* Create a federal central intelligence agency for better coordination among different central, state and military intelligence agencies
* Post service officers as joint/additional secretaries in MoD to involve the armed forces in national security management and apex decision making processes
* Set up a high-powered expert committee to reorganise, reform and restructure armed forces
* Establish the Indian National Defence University
* Plug staff shortages in the tri-Service Andaman and Nicobar Command




Army short of 1.86 lakh bulletproof jackets
TNN 17 December 2009, 04:18am IST
NEW DELHI: Life in India comes cheap. Despite a lapse of several years, a major chunk of Army soldiers are yet to get something as basic as proper bullet-proof jackets.

Noting that the authorised holding of bullet-proof jackets for the Army was 3,53,765, the parliamentary standing committee on defence on Wednesday expressed anguish that MoD was yet to make up the shortfall of as many as 1,86,138 of them.

"This is risking the life of as many soldiers. The committee desires that such important life-saving items should be purchased through fast-track procedures. Quality control should be strictly observed so that precious lives of trained soldiers may not be lost,'' it said.

The latest GSQRs (general staff qualitative requirements) for the jackets show their weight ranges from 10.5 kg to 11.5 kg. "This seems to be very heavy as the soldier has to carry this weight in addition to regular items, which will affect his agility and mobility in war as well as counter-insurgency operations,'' it said. Consequently, the committee asked the government to procure light-weight jackets from the domestic or the international market.




Army chief confirms Pakistan fortifications along the border
December 16th, 2009 - 9:49 pm ICT by ANI Tell a Friend -

Taliban New Delhi, Dec.16 (ANI): Indian Army Chief Deepak Kapoor on Wednesday (December 16) confirmed the construction of fortifications by Pakistan along the northwestern borders and also in other places, but said it could be a routine thing.

Recently, S. R. Ghosh, General Officer Commanding (GOC), western command, had said that border crossing in the country’s northern and northwestern parts were going on.

Kapoor said, the army was in close contact with paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) and was monitoring the situation closely.

“We are in consonance and touch and total coordination with each other therefore if something comes up in sector which is …with the BSF area… it will be well known to us. Some of these structures have come up and some in other areas do keep coming up, it is also part of the kind of preparation or defensive preparation, which a country can do. But we will have to take stock of the whole thing over a period of time and see what is …” said Deepak Kapoor.

According to the official reports nearly 395 infiltration attempts were reported this year as compared to 342 in 2008.

Pakistan, which like India claims the Kashmir region in full, has consistently denied its involvement in abetting the anti-India insurgency that has killed more than 47,000 people since 1989.

Reacting to intelligence inputs about possible attacks on India’s nuclear arsenal by militants, Kapoor gave assurance that the nuclear weapons were completely safe.

“As far as the security of the nuclear weapons is concerned, I want to assure that they are fully secure,” Kapoor said.

Union Home ministry had issued an alert on Tuesday (Dec.15) that Taliban trained militants planned to target country’s Defence establishments and nuclear research centers like the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC). (ANI)




India commemorates 38th anniversary of its 1971 war victory
2009-12-16 14:50:00

India celebrated the 38th anniversary of its victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, which resulted in the liberation of East Pakistan now called Bangladesh.

Defence Minister A.K Antony, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, and Chief Air Marshal PV Naik laid wreaths at the war memorial.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the ceremony, Antony said that hopefully the dream of an army memorial would soon be fulfilled.

"I hope this time we will be able to find an ultimate solution and we will be able to finally fulfill the long cherished wishes of our country and our armed forces," said Antony.

Further reacting to the several scams being reported about the armed forces, Antony said that no allegation goes unnoticed and an enquiry is conducted in all allegations.

"Whenever there is some kind of allegation, we are not ignoring it, we are always making proper enquiry and no allegation is left out without inquiry. Whenever we find that somebody is guilty we are taking exemplary action that is our tradition. That tradition we will scrupulously follow," Antony added.

December 16 is celebrated as 'Vijay Divas' (Victory Day) as on this day in 1971 Indian armed forces defeated Pakistan that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.

The 13-day war ended on December 16 when General A.A.K. Niazi of Pakistan signed the instrument of surrender before India's Lt. Gen. Jasjit Singh Aurora at Dhaka, now the capital of Bangladesh.

Over 93,000 Pakistani armed forces personnel were taken as prisoners of war. It was the biggest surrender of armed forces by any country in modern times.

An estimated three million Bangladeshis were killed during the war. (ANI)





India likely to supply 50 phased out tanks to Nepal      
               

KATHMANDU, Dec 16: India, which has decided to resume military aid to Nepal, is likely to supply 50 phased-out tanks at discounted rates.

India´s The Telegraph newspaper reported the deal, quoting an unnamed senior Defense Ministry official in New Delhi on Tuesday.

The report said Nepal has specifically asked whether it can acquire 50 tanks from the Indian Army at discounted rates. These are Ajeya T-72 tanks that are being replaced with the Bhishma T-90 in the armored regiments.


Besides the tanks, officer cadets from Nepal will get more seats in the Indian Military Academy and the recruitment of Nepalese Gorkhas in the Indian Army would be increased.

The decisions followed talks, Nepal’s visiting army chief, General Chhatraman Singh Gurung, held with Indian security officials in the Indian capital.

On recruitment of more Nepali nationals to the Indian Army, the southern neighbor has proposed to raise an additional battalion that will increase the recruitment from Nepal from the current level of about 1,600 soldiers a year.

There are seven Gorkha Rifles regiments in the Indian Army, each with five or six battalions of about 900 soldiers. Gorkhas from Nepal and India are recruited not only in these battalions but also in other regiments such as the special forces (parachute battalions), the newspaper said.

Nepal Army has also enquired whether India can raise the supply of military hardware to the level prevalent nine years back. In 2005, India scaled down its military aid, following the February 1 coup by the then king Gyanendra. But the actual reduction in military assistance had begun in 2001, with the Maoist insurgency intensifying in Nepal.

General Gurung, an alumnus of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehra Dun who attended the passing-out parade of officer cadets on Saturday, also held talks with the Indian Army’s director-general of military training. He said it was his wish to set up an institution like the IMA in Nepal.

At the academy, Gurung visited the room where he had stayed as a cadet. He also spent time in its archives searching for a photograph of himself with the late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, whom he described as his hero.

Gurung was honored with the rank of General in the Indian Army by the President on Monday. He is slated to meet the external affairs minister, the foreign secretary and national security adviser on Wednesday.

Gurung’s visit comes close on the heels of an India-Nepal defence cooperation committee meeting in Kathmandu last week.

The Indian Army, the paper said, looks at the demand of the Maoists for “integration” of their PLA troops in the Nepal Army ranks — under the country’s peace accord — with "suspicion".

The delegations of the two armies have exchanged notes on security, with the Nepalese team of the view that the Maoists can present a military challenge yet again.







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