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Sunday, 20 December 2009

From Today's Papers - 20 Dec 09

Training in joint operations mooted for generals
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
With jointness being the buzzword in military operations, top officers of the armed forces may soon be required to undergo advanced training courses to enhancing professional acumen.

The Chiefs of the Staff Committee comprising the heads of the three services have directed to progress the matter once the Cabinet Committee for Security’s approval for the National Defence University is received. Land has been identified for the university and the case is with the Cabinet for approval.
In a report tabled this week, the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence stated that there is no structured training for officers above the rank of Brigadier except for the Combined Operational Review and Evaluation (CORE) programme.
Sources said CORE is more of an operation-room exercise, which does not necessarily train officers in conceptualising, planning and executing joint operations involving human and material resources from services.
“The Committee recommends that the Ministry of Defence should review its present policy of imparting joint training to the senior level officers in the defence services with a view to introducing modern day performance management processes aimed at fostering the spirit of jointness among them. It also aimed at preparing them to assuming greater responsibilities in the current and envisaged environment of jointness within the services,” the report said.
Hence, it is recommended that officers posted to joint staff appointments undergo a short capsule, the report added.
At present, the highest level of formal joint training is at National Defence College (NDC), New Delhi, at the level of Brigadier and equivalent. Officers say this is academic-oriented dealing with the broader concepts of geo-politics rather than operations. NDC graduates are poised to ahead of the level of Major General and Lieutenant General commanding divisions or corps, they add.
Several countries have training capsules for Generals and equivalents to prepare prospective Commanders to lead joint and combined forces. Such courses are conducted for serving or retired three and four star equivalent officers. These are mandatory for all senior Commanders.
According to a US Army manual, the objective of such courses is to give prospective Joint Force Commanders an understanding of national policy and objectives with international implications and the ability to operationalise these into integrated campaign plans. 

Pak firing injures three BSF soldiers
December 19, 2009 22:19 IST
Three paramilitary Border Security Force troopers were injured in Pakistani firing in the Krishna Ghati sector of the Line of Control [ Images ] in Poonch district of Jammu region on Saturday afternoon.

In clear violation of the bilateral ceasefire between the two countries, a police official said Pakistani troops resorted to firing at the Karanti post of the BSF in Krishna Ghati sector on Sarturday afternoon.

"Three troopers were injured in the unprovoked firing by the Pakistani troops. The injured were taken to hospital for treatment," the officer said.

"The firing continued for 15 minutes," he added.

High Court to MoD: Crack down on encroachment in Cantonments
Pervez Iqbal Siddiqui, TNN 20 December 2009, 05:50am IST
LUCKNOW: In a significant judgment, the Allahabad high court has directed the secretary, ministry of defence, to instruct all the command heads
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of Indian military to map all defence lands and estates and ensure zero unauthorised occupancy or encroachment thereon.

The judgment may have far-reaching consequences as it could lead to prompt eviction of tens of thousands of civilians who have been occupying the military land in the absence of any clear-cut ruling on the real ownership of the land.

Justice Rakesh Sharma issued the directives in his judgment on a petition filed by Vishnu Narain Garg against the Government of India (GoI) over possession of a 62 bigha land in Sachendi village of Kanpur City district. The case pertained to the dispute over ownership of the land that was acquired to serve as Military Camping Ground (padaao) after the uprising of 1857 when the Britishers strengthened their army establishments particularly in cities which witnessed action during the First War of Independence.

The petitioner had sought the right to access and possess the 62 bigha of land procured by his ancestors way back in 1916. The land in question, during the consolidation proceedings initiated by issuing a formal notification under section 4(A) of the Consolidation Act (CH Act) on November 4, 1964 - was recorded as a military camping ground and hence a property of GoI. The petition came up after the erstwhile possessors of the said property were restricted from accessing and using the land any further.

Dismissing the petition, Justice Rakesh Sharma said during the British rule when the land was acquired it was declared as military land as is established by the description of the land in the revenue records. The land was handed over to the petitioner's father in 1948 by the then collector, Kanpur City, but on a patta for four years.

The court said that after implementation of Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition & Land Requisition Act (UPZALR Act) the petitioners or their father were government lessee and could not be recorded as `bhumindars' (owners of land). As far the use and occupation of the land, the petitioners have already enjoyed the fruits of a long drawn litigation. They had made good use of military camping ground which was a big chunk of land covering 62 bighas and 2 biswas.

Emphasising on the need of land for the military, the bench stated that the army was already short of land required for "military purposes" for its day to day affairs and operations including regular training. Highlighting the role of the Indian Army, the bench noted that it was essential that the military was provided with the required elements including land to maintain its training levels and guard our nation.

After having reasoned out the importance and necessity of the defence land, the court expressed concern over the encroachment of defence land by land mafia and land-grabbers around the defence estates in different districts of Uttar Pradesh and beyond. "It has been brought to the notice of the court that entertainment centres and commercial establishments run by private parties are being brought up uninterruptedly on army land," the judgment stated.

The court also observed that the military commanders heading the commands owe it to the nation to ensure that the land earmarked for military purposes does not go into unauthorised hands.

BSF man killed, 2 hurt in ‘cross-border’ firing

Rising Kashmir News
Poonch, Dec 19: A BSF trooper was killed and two others injured on Saturday after an Indian post along Line of Control in Mendhar sector of Poonch district was attacked.
A defence official said that an Indian post namely Kranti post was attacked in the Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch district at about 10.05 am. “The firing continued for nearly 40 minutes. At least three BSF men of 47 battalion were injured in the firing,” he said,

The injured troopers identified as Pawan Kumar, Mukesh Kumar and V K Kumar were airlifted to army hospital, Udhampur. One of the critically injured trooper, Mukesh Kumar later succumbed to injuries.
“One BSF trooper was killed and two others injured in a firing incident near LoC in Poonch. The firing lasted for couple of minutes. We are investigating whether the firing was carried out by Pakistani troopers posted on other side of LoC or it was a militant attack,” said Lt. Col. Biplab Nath, Defence spokesman posted in Jammu.
He said if the investigations reveal that Pakistani troopers had fired on Indian post,  “we are
going to raise the issue at an appropriate level”.
According to Defence Ministry there have been 27 incidents of ceasefire violations this year by Pakistan along the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir. “During the last four years there have been 128 incidents of ground ceasefire and 43 air space violations by Pakistan,” it said.

Army chief returns      

KATHMANDU, Dec 19: Chief of Army Staff Chhatra Man Singh Gurung returned home on Saturday after an eight-day official visit to India. He visited India at the invitation of his Indian counterpart General Deepak Kapoor. Indian President Pratibha Patil had conferred on Gurung a title of honorary general of the Indian Army on Dec 14.

According to a statement by the Nepal Army, Gurung held meetings with Indian Defense Minister A K Antony, Foreign Minister S M Krishna, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Defense Secretary Pradeep Kumar, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma and Air Chief Marshal PB Naike, among others.

Coup in Pakistan-Tarek Fatah
Restive generals represent the backers of the Taliban and al-Qaeda – bad news for the war next door

By Tarek Fatah 09 Dec 2009 The Globe and Mail (Canada)

A military coup is unfolding in Pakistan, but, this time, there is no rumbling of tanks on the streets of Islamabad. Instead, it seems the military is using a new strategy for regime change in Pakistan, one that will have adverse consequences for Western troops deployed in Afghanistan.

A year after rogue elements of Pakistan's intelligence services disrupted Indian-Pakistani peace talks by staging the Mumbai massacre, the democratically elected government of President Asif Zardari is facing a putsch from within its ranks, engineered by the men who run Pakistan's infamous military-industrial complex.

The men who wish to replace Mr. Zardari represent the religious right-wing backers of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, adding a new obstacle in Barack Obama's war effort in Afghanistan. A change of guard in Pakistan will also place Canadian troops at a higher risk of attack from a Taliban that will get unimpeded access to safe havens across the international border.

In the West's war against terrorism, Mr. Zardari is probably the only politician in Pakistan who has the guts to identify the cancer of jihadi extremism and order the Pakistani army to root it out. With reluctance, the army has complied, but only half-heartedly. With him gone, it's almost a certainty that Canada and the United States, as well as Afghanistan and India, will once more face the deception and fraud that became the hallmark of Pervez Musharraf's military regime.

For years, the Pakistani army received billions of dollars in direct American aid while it backed the Taliban and staged faked armed encounters to deceive the Pentagon.

The army views the government's efforts at peace with both Afghanistan and India not only with suspicion but also with alarm. Peace with India would undermine the very raison d'ĂȘtre of Pakistan's massive military.

The army's patience with Mr. Zardari ran out in October, when the U.S. Congress passed the Kerry-Lugar bill that promised billions in aid to Pakistan, but with a crucial caveat: The money would go through the channels of the civilian administration and if the military interfered with the democratic process or bullied the politicians and the judiciary, the Americans would halt all aid to the military.

The generals were in an uproar. Having lived their entire lives with a sense of entitlement that rivalled medieval caliphs and emperors, the men in uniform started a campaign to dislodge Mr. Zardari and his ambassador in Washington, Husain Haqqani – the authors, they said, of their misfortune.

Addicted to the billions in U.S. aid that have made them among the wealthiest in their impoverished country, Pakistan's generals are in a Catch-22. If they overthrow the government, they risk losing the manna from America. If they do nothing, they lose their veto over government policymaking, domestic as well as foreign.

Stung by this loss of power, the generals have asked the pro-Taliban media to whip up an anti-U.S. and anti-India frenzy in the country, claiming that Mr. Zardari has sold out to the Americans and the Indians.

Mr. Zardari also is being depicted as the epitome of corruption and thus unworthy of governing Pakistan. Working from within the government, military intelligence was able to coax a junior minister to release a list of thousands of supposedly corrupt politicians and public officials in the country. Leading them was Mr. Zardari himself – notwithstanding the fact that before he was elected president, he had been imprisoned for more than a decade by the military without a single conviction.

What irks the generals is not just that they are now answerable to a civilian but that Mr. Zardari belongs to an ethnic group that is shunned by the country's ruling Punjabi elite. Mr. Zardari is a Sindhi.

The hysteria among Pakistan's upper-class elites demanding a military dictatorship is best reflected in an article [ actually, letter - PTH] written by a retired military officer in the right-wing newspaper The News: "Military rule should … return. … The problem with democratic governments is that they remain under pressure to go with what the majority of the citizens want, not what is best for them. … People of several South American countries that have returned to civilian rule after a long time are now beginning to feel they were better off under dictatorships."

If Mr. Obama wishes to succeed in bringing the Afghan war to an end, he had better make sure Mr. Zardari's elected civilian administration is allowed to govern until the end of its term. A coup in Islamabad will mean failure in Kabul.

Tarek Fatah is a former activist in Pakistan and founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. He is author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State.

Pakistan—plots and subplots—the story unfolds
December 18, 8:21 PMDefense Dept. ExaminerBruce Clarke
In recent articles we have reported on the Pakistani attacks in the Northwest Territories and questioned the Army’s objectives and suggested that numerous side deals had been made with anti US militants. This drama continues to unfold. The Pakistanis are:

• Suggesting peace talks with the Taliban while threatening offensive action
• Saying that their offensive has been cancelled only to reverse themselves
• Rebuffing the Obama administration’s diplomatic calls for more offensive actions
• Remaining silent on recent reports of US attacks by armed Predator and other types of unmanned aerial vehicles against targets along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border
• Uncertain as to the future of the government based upon a recent Supreme Court ruling

Pakistani leaders recently signaled a willingness to conduct talks with the Taliban while the prime minister announced that military operations may be considered in a Taliban-controlled tribal area. Prime Minister Gilani said the government will talk to the Taliban before it considers launching an operation while the Interior Minister said he would discuss Taliban offers with political parties that are sympathetic to or who support the Taliban. Negotiations are allegedly on the table. Reports are that the Taliban in Pakistan had approached the government four times to offer peace talks. In the past, the Pakistani government has negotiated with the Taliban under the guise of intermediaries. These arrangements have allowed the government to deny it directly negotiates with the Taliban. The peace agreements in Swat and a multitude of peace agreements in North and South Waziristan were negotiated with "tribal elders."
The military and the government have previously signaled they are unwilling to enter North Waziristan, where three Taliban groups all shelter al Qaeda and a host of Pakistani jihadist groups who conduct attacks against Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani announcement comes as a back drop to visits to Islamabad by both General Petraeus and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who conducted talks with Pakistan's powerful army chief General Kayani. President Barack Obama's plan for turning around the unpopular Afghan war topped the agenda. He is reported to have discussed the "evolving regional security situation with particular focus on the revised US strategy for Afghanistan and the region, especially its impact and short and long term implications for Pakistan," a military statement said.

The administration’s plan has been criticized in Pakistan where they fear a troop surge in Afghanistan will send more militants into Pakistan, while a draw-down date will embolden Islamist insurgents on both sides of the border. Admiral Mullen reportedly expressed concern about "growing" collusion between Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups sheltered in Pakistan. He also is reported as trying to pressure the Pak Army to dismantle Taliban strongholds in its lawless northwest tribal area and stop militants slipping over the porous border to attack NATO and US troops. Pakistan’s focus has been on homegrown militants who attack domestic targets and they have tried to make “deals” with other militants. According to reports, Pakistani Army Chief of Staff, General Kayani, told the Americans that Pakistan’s Army already had its hands full in fighting enemies of Pakistan and that Washington should take stock in Pakistan’s limitations and stop making unrealistic demands. What he didn’t say is that the Pakistani focus remains on India, but it does.

Recent reports indicate that the US military killed 17 terrorists during two airstrikes in the Taliban-controlled tribal area of North Waziristan. The first airstrike occurred when a Hellfire missile fired by either a Predator or a Reaper unmanned aircraft slammed into a vehicle parked outside a home. Two insurgents were reportedly killed in the attack. The second strike occurred when five or six unmanned strike aircraft fired upwards of 10 Hellfires in a cave complex, a compound and a vehicle. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders were reported to have been killed in the strikes. These attacks against the Taliban elements that the Pakistan government is talking about negotiations with may in fact make such negotiations more difficult if not impossible by making these Taliban elements more hostile to the government and for the military’s hand. Could this have been their purpose? Islamabad has been silent on this so far.

In a possibly related event the Pak Supreme Court threw out a law that granted amnesty to some past politicians including the minister of defense and the prime minister. The implications of this court decision are still developing, but government uncertainty and the possibility of near term elections probably places more power in the hands of the Army which is the ultimate power broker in Pakistan anyway.

Pakistan is key to the Obama administration’s efforts in Afghanistan and the above tea leaves are not optimistic in predicting the direction that the Pakistani government will go.

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