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Monday, 21 December 2009

From Today's Papers - 21 Dec 09

Navy foils piracy bid on foreign vessel
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 20
Foiling yet another attempt of piracy off the coast of Aden, the Indian Navy last evening launched a chopper to first scare the pirates and assure safe passage for a merchant ship ‘MV Soderling Ace’ that is registered in Cayman Islands. For the past one year or so the Navy has permanently deployed one of its warships in the area.

The INS Godavari got a distress call from the merchant ship at 5:30 pm yesterday that a white coloured pirate’s skiff was approaching it. A helicopter was launched and Navy personnel on board fired warning shots at the skiff that had seven armed pirates approaching to take over ship, said Naval officials today.
The INS Godavari was located around two miles from the merchant vessel. The seeing the chopper firing the skiff stopped. A team was also launched through the sea and it boarded the skiff. Materials like ladders used to board ships were found even as the pirates had thrown all their weapons into the sea. “This is new tactic as the pirates drop their weapons in the sea and they did the same today on seeing the Navy chopper coming towards them,” officials here said.
This was the second successful anti-piracy operation by INS Godavari that has been deputed in the area since mid-November. Earlier this month, the Navy had thwarted an attempt by pirates to hijack a US-owned tanker in the area off the coast of Somalia.

Defence ministry to follow ISRO model
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
The private-public partnership model followed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in developing its acclaimed products will now be followed by the Ministry of Defence also. aims at a long-term approach and “hand holding” of the private industry during development phase and competitive environment later. The government has accepted the recommendations of the Vijay Kelkar Committee made in this regard. The Ministry of Defence tabled a report in Parliament this week on the action it is taking to encourage long-term indigenous production.
In the past, Defence Minister AK Antony has expressed his anguish at the slow pace of development of local equipment and also the strategic shortcoming by depending heavily on imports.
Now for strengthening self-reliance in defence preparedness, the ministry will follow an in-depth study of the practices and procedures being followed by ISRO and also the Kelkar Committee report. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had met Dr Vijay Kelkar, who said the committee that ISRO “embraced” the private sector to meet its high-tech requirements.
Separately, the Defence ministry informed the committee that there were two aspects to the issues. One is of developing systems indigenously and the level of indigenisation through the transfer of technology (TOT) route. As regards indigenous research and development, major systems are in place like Prithvi, MBT Arjun and electronic warfare systems for Army and Navy.
The ministry said the frontline fighter Sukhoi-30MkI would have 43. 5 per cent local content by this year. This is up from 13 per cent during 2004-05. Similarly, in case of HAWK, the indigenisation percentage will increase from present level of 12 -15 per cent to 45 per cent in the raw material phase of production.
In case of T-90 Tank, the indigenisation percentage in the current year is 30 per cent and is likely to go up 70 per cent by 2010-11.

Red carpet for Nepal army chief
TNN 14 December 2009, 01:44am IST
NEW DELHI: Worried about China’s strategic inroads into Nepal, India has rolled out the red carpet for Nepal Army chief General Chhatraman Singh Gurung’s eight-day visit to India.

Gen Gurung, who took over as Nepal Army chief on September 9, 2009, will be conferred the honorary rank of ‘General of Indian Army’ by President Pratibha Patil at an investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday.

Gen Gurung was chief guest at the passing-out-parade at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun on Saturday. He also has meetings lined up with defence minister A K Antony, foreign minister S M Krishna, national security adviser M K Narayanan, Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, among others.

‘‘India’s security perspectives and concerns in the region and the current situation in Nepal will figure in the discussions,’’ said a senior official.

Gen Gurung is also slated to address the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington on December 16. In between, he will make trips to Agra and Haridwar, among other places.

Incidentally, Gen Gurung passed out of IMA in the early-1970s. Though he attended several military courses in India thereafter, he also graduated from China’s National Defence University.

India has recently resumed military aid to Nepal, which was largely suspended after former king Gyanendra assumed absolute power and declared emergency in 2005.

Time to Withdraw

Army statistics reveal infiltration is down
In 2008, 80 infiltrators killed; just 11 in 2009
Wasim Khalid
Srinagar, Dec 20: Contrary to the claims being made by New Delhi that there has been a ‘significant increase’ in infiltration attempts by militants into Jammu and Kashmir, the statistics prepared by army reveals that the infiltration bids have witnessed a steep decline in 2009. It says that as against 80 infiltrators killed on Line of Control (LoC) in 2008, only 11 were killed this year.

According the figures obtained from Army’s Northern Command, the number of contacts with militants have reduced considerably along the Line of Control (LoC) this year.
Most of the infiltration bids have taken place in North Kashmir’s Gurez and Keran sector and Poonch and Rajouri sector in Jammu province.
The statistics compiled by army discloses that a total of 150 contacts were established with infiltrating militants on LoC in 2009. “This figure was on higher side in 2008 when 197 contacts were established,” the statistics reveal.
Similarly, as against 335 militant killed in 2008, only 236 militants have been killed along the LoC while trying to sneak into the State.    
The statistics further reveal that 40 infiltration bids were foiled this year while 42 such bids were foiled in the previous year.
“80 infiltrating militants were killed on LoC in 2008 while in 2009, 11 militants have so far been killed while trying to breach the line,” it disclosed.
Meanwhile, the defense officials said the militants preferred Poonch and Rajouri sectors in Jammu province for sneaking into this side of LoC from Pakistani administered Kashmir.  “The militants used the treacherous routes of Gurez, Tanghdar and Keran sector to sneak into Valley,” they said.
The officials said, unlike past, the militants used new strategy by making infiltration attempts as early as in March, when all the mountain peaks and ridges were covered with snow.
At least,  17 militants and eight troopers were killed in the five-day long gunfight in north Kashmir’s Hafrooda forests in March. In the same month, reports suggested that 80 militants supported by 40 porters crossed the snow laden LoC along the Gurez sector.   
The defense officials said the militant action forced them to activate counter insurgency posts along the LoC during the winter months.  “They remain abandoned for four months due to heavy snowfall on LoC, where sometimes snow exceeds 40 feet mark.   At least seven RR troopers got killed in mid-April after avalanches hit military posts activated ahead of time by army due to infiltration of attempts,” they said.
The official said the strength of infiltrating groups has remained same. “The pattern has not changed. The strength of infiltrating militants groups ranged from 8 -12 except in some rare incidents where more men have infiltrated” they said.
Most of the infiltrating militants, according to officials, were engaged within some meters of LOC.
“We have placed surveillance equipment and increased our patrolling along the LOC,” they said.
Talking to Rising Kashmir recently, DGP Kuldip Khoda Police termed infiltration as a cause of concern. “The militants were making concerted efforts to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir to cause trouble,” he said.
On December 6, IG BSF Baljeet Singh said militants were making attempts to sneak into the LOC. He, however, said, there is no information about the militants waiting across the border to get into Kashmir.
However, Indian Army Chief, in his recent statement said, they have reports that 2000-2500 militants are awaiting to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir.
Home minister P Chidambaram told Rajya Sabha that violence in the State has come down but the infiltration is on. He said people are making desperate attempts to cross over LOC.

                                                    In 2008                              In 2009
Total contacts                              197                                    150
Total militants killed                       335                                     236
Infiltration bids eliminated              42                                      40
Militants killed while infiltration      80                                      11     
Source: Northern Command

India positive about increasing subsidy on non-lethal military hardware  

KATHMANDU, Dec 21: India has positively responded to Nepal´s request to increase subsidy on sales of non-lethal military hardware to Nepal Army.

“India is positive about giving 40 percent subsidy on sales of non-lethal military hardware to Nepal,” a highly-placed source at Nepal Army (NA) told on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, the southern neighbor, which is the largest military aid supplier to Nepal Army, provided non-lethal military materials to Nepal on the basis of 70 percent cash and 30 percent subsidy.

According to sources at the Defense Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal had made the request for increasing the subsidy during the three-day meeting of the Nepal-India Consultative Group on Security Issues held in Kathmandu from December 4-6. Officials from both the ministries had attended the meeting.

A senior official at the Ministry of Defense told that India recently expressed its readiness to increase the subsidy as requested by Nepal.

Nepal has been requesting India to give subsidy in the purchase of lethal military hardware ever since the fifth Nepal-India Consultative Group on Security Issues held in 2006 in Kathmandu, said a source who was involved in the meeting. India had then agreed with Nepal to give 70 per cent subsidy on its sales of non-lethal materials to Nepal Army.

Even during the meeting of the Consultative Group held in New Delhi in 2007, Kathmandu had requested New Delhi for highest possible subsidy but the meeting had ended even without issuing a joint statement after political issues cropped up in the meeting, said another knowledgeable source on condition of anonymity.

“Albeit little, this time, India has been positive about increasing the subsidy by ten percent on sales of non-lethal materials,” said another source at the Defense Ministry.

Nepal has been buying non-lethal hardware like vehicles, communications equipments, and tools, among others, from India. But such supplies have been stopped following the power seizure by then King Gyanendra in February 2005. Though India had agreed with Nepal to resume the supplies of non-lethal materials during the Consultative Group meeting early in December, the date for supplies is yet to be fixed, said the defense ministry source.

The Chinese Threat
December 20, 2009: The U.S. Navy is looking for a sufficiently impressive foe to help scare more money out of Congress. The Chinese Navy (or, more correctly, the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Navy) is now the favorites candidate, for navy and defense industry analysts, to become the new Big Bad. Just how dangerous are these Chinese sailors and their ships? It turns out that, on closer inspection, not very.

 This is the sort of thing that what went on during the Cold War. Russian military prowess was hyped by American the military, and their defense suppliers, to justify further increases in defense spending. When the Cold War ended, it was revealed how the Russian military, and defense manufacturers, plaid the same game. It also revealed that Russian military capabilities were far less than the hype indicated.

The basic weapon for this sort of thing is FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). Works every time, although it is difficult to pitch the Chinese navy as a crack force. Most of their ships are elderly, poorly designed and rarely used. Their nuclear subs are worse than the first generation of Russian nukes back in the 1960s. The most modern Chinese ships are Russian made, Cold War era models. Chinese ships don't go to sea much, not just because it's expensive, but because Chinese ships tend to get involved in nasty incidents. Like the submarine that killed its crew when the boat submerged (and the diesel engines did not shut down when the batteries kicked in, thus using up all the oxygen.) Breakdowns are more common, as well as a lot of accidents you don't hear about (weapons and equipment malfunctions that kill and maim.)

Unlike the Russians, who started a ruinous arms race in the 1960s, the Chinese have been increasing their military budget in line with economic growth. Russia was spending over 20 percent of GDP on defense during the Cold War. China spends far more, and far less. While China increased its defense spending 14.9 percent this year, that's down from the 17.9 percent jump last year. China claims that its defense spending is only 1.4 percent of GDP (compared to 4 percent for the U.S. and 1-2 percent for most other Western nations.) But China keeps a lot of defense spending off the official defense budget (a technique long favored by communist nations), and actual spending is more like 3-4 percent of GDP.  Thus while China spends far less of its GDP on defense, it is spending what it can afford, and is currently spending about as much as the Soviet Union did per year, during the 1980s (using the black market exchange rate for the ruble).

Meanwhile, as a percentage of GDP, U.S. military spending continues a decline that has been going on since the 1960s (when, because of the $686 billion cost of the Vietnam war, defense spending was 10.7 percent of GDP). That went down to 5.9 percent of GDP in the 1970s and, despite a much heralded defense buildup in the 1980s, still declined in the 1980s (to 5.8 percent.) With the end of the Cold War, spending dropped sharply again in the 1990s, to 4.1 percent. For the first decade of the 21st century, defense spending is expected to average 3.5-4 percent of GDP.

Last year, China passed Germany to become the third largest economy on the planet (after the U.S. and Japan). Currently, the U.S. has a GDP of $13.8 trillion, Japan $4.4 trillion and China, $3.5 trillion. The per-capita share of that GDP varies greatly, since the U.S. has 302 million population, China 1,300 million and Japan 127 million. Thus the average Japanese generates more than ten times the GDP as the average Chinese. But 30 years of constant, nearly ten percent a year, economic growth have turned China into an economic superpower, at least in terms of national GDP. The problem is that there are two Chinas. About twenty percent of the population are enjoying most of this growth. They mainly live along the coast, where a recent survey found, to no one's surprise, that 80 percent of the coastal waters were polluted by several decades of sharp economic and industrial growth. But the interior is poor, and angry. In other words, you've got about 300 million people doing quite well, and another billion that are not happy with the situation at all. This does not bode well for the Chinese military budget.

China has a lot of domestic problems to worry about, which is apparently one reason the government isn't willing to give a lot of money to the military. In fact, the generals have been told to shrink their manpower strength, and gradually increase the quality of equipment and training. Over the next three years, China will shrink its armed forces by another 700,000 troops. The Chinese armed forces has already shrunk by 1.7 million troops in the last twenty years, and now consists of 2.3 million active duty personnel. In three years, there will be only 1.6 million troops (not much larger than the 1.4 million American force). China also has 660,000 personnel in the national police, and 1.2 million organized reservists. Remember, China is still a communist police state. There are a lot of Chinese unhappy with the government (which is actually rather corrupt and inefficient by Western standards.)

Given the sorry state of Chinese weapons and equipment, it will take them decades to even have a chance of "catching up with the United States". And that's apparently the Chinese plan. And it's a very traditional plan. The Chinese like to think long term. Works for them. Meanwhile, China does not want to make the U.S. Navy angry. China is now dependent on imports, especially oil and other raw materials. Access to the sea is a matter of life or death for the Chinese economy, and the survival of the communist dictatorship. But the same could have been said for Japan in 1941. The difference is that China is not making bug trouble with any of its neighbors, and China and the United States both have nuclear weapons.

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