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Saturday, 2 January 2010

From Today's Papers - 02 Jan 10








Nepal Army to decorate Gen Deepak Kapoor
Kathmandu, January 1
Indian Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor will be visiting the Himalayan republic this month to be decorated with the honorary title of general of the Nepal Army.

Gen Kapoor, who assumed office in 2007 and kicked up a controversy last month by opposing the induction of Nepal’s former Maoist guerrillas into the Nepal Army, will resume the tradition of Indian army chiefs visiting Nepal to receive the honour after four years.
The Indian General will arrive on a four-day visit starting Jan 31, Nepal Army sources said. He is coming at the invitation of his Nepali counterpart, Gen Chhatraman Singh Gurung, who visited India last month.
Marking the sea change in Nepal since the last army chief’s visit in 2005, Nepal’s first president Ram Baran Yadav will confer the general title on General Kapoor instead of King Gyanendra, who was then the titular head of the Royal Nepalese Army.
Nirmal Chander Vij was the last Indian General to visit Kathmandu in April 2003, within four months of being sworn in as the Indian Army chief. During his four-day visit, he had received a sword from Gyanendra.
The fag-end of Vij’s tenure in 2005 saw the king try to seize power from the elected government with the support of the army, which led to the abolition of monarchy in Nepal, till then the world’s only Hindu kingdom, as well as estrangement between the Indian and Nepal armies.
The Indian government suspended its military assistance in Nepal following the coup and Vij’s successor, Gen Joginder Jaswant Singh, skipped the Nepal visit during his term due to the escalating turmoil in the Himalayan nation.
The ice between the two armies was broken in December 2007 when then Nepal Army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal visited India and was conferred the honorary title of general of the Indian Army despite his questionable human rights record and proximity to the deposed king.
Now Kapoor’s visit to Kathmandu will further cement ties between the two armies. — PTI





India, Pak exchange lists of N-plants
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 1
Despite the chill in bilateral ties, India and Pakistan continued with the tradition of exchanging lists of nuclear installations on the New Year day.

But in another development, India took strong exception to the reported remarks of the so-called chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan in which he said Gilgit-Baltistan had become the ‘fifth province’ of Pakistan and henceforth had no connection to Kashmir.
The exchange of lists of nuclear facilities was done simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad under the agreement, which was signed on December 31, 1988, and entered into force on January 27, 1991.
The agreement provides for the two countries to inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities on January 1, every year.
An External Affairs Ministry release said this is the 19th consecutive exchange of lists between the two countries, the first having taken place on January 1, 1992.
Neither India nor Pakistan is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). The exchange of lists of nuclear installations is seen as an effective confidence building measure, as well as a way to prevent attacks on these facilities.
Meanwhile, on the reported statement of the chief minister of so-called Gilgit-Baltistan, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash asserted that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to India in 1947. Any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever and was completely unacceptable.
“Pakistan’s actions regarding Gilgit-Baltistan in the past few months cannot camouflage its illegal occupation of part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, nor can they hide the denial of basic rights to the people in that part for the past six decades,” he said.





More weapons in armoury soon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 1
In an indication that India will keep up its pace of buying newer weapons for its armed forces, the Ministry of Defence will spend the entire allocation on new weapons before the financial year ends in March.

A senior defence ministry official today said the pace of spending was on track and the allocated sum would be used.
In the previous years, a portion of the allocation could not be used and had raised questions over the pace of spending. This year Rs 54,824 crore was earmarked for capital acquisition. The ministry said the expenditure on acquisitions had increased. Over the last five years, it set to cumulatively add up to Rs 1,78,000 crore. In the previous five years ( 1999-2004), a sum of Rs 62,672 crore was spent.
In the previous years, some of the allocation could not be used.
Since 2005 till the end of this year, the nation would have spent Rs 1.37 lakh crore on acquisition. This includes choppers, missiles, fighters, tanks and other equipment. The process of modernisation of the forces cannot halt at any cost, said sources.
On the impending decision of fixing cost for the Russian-built sea-based aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, the sources added that the contract negotiation committee had given its report a few days ago. The matter would be referred to the Cabinet. The two countries had been renegotiating the deal since 2007 after Moscow demanded an additional $ 1.2 billion for the warship. Later, the demand was hiked to $ 2.9 billion
Separately, the Rama Rao committee report on re-structuring of the DRDO, was being discussed by the ministry and a few meetings have already been held. The findings of the committee are yet to be submitted. The Director of the DRDO has been asked to give his inputs.
The Defence Ministry is also expecting Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor to take a "responsible decision" on the fate of military secretary Lt Gen Awadesh Prakash, who has been indicted in the Sukhna land scam and is due to retire on January 31.
"We think the Army Chief is aware of that and we are sure that he will take a responsible decision on it," a senior official in the Ministry said when asked about its view on the scam in which an adverse recommendation has reportedly been given to Gen Kapoor and reports that Prakash would be given an "honourable exit" as his retirement is imminent. The Eastern Army Command chief, Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, had recommended a summary dismissal for Prakash. The Army Chief has to take a decision on the punishment to be awarded under the Army Act. 





Tackling Ultras
2009: A good year for security forces
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 1
In the history of two decades of counter-insurgency operations in Assam, the year that has gone by was definitely one among the best for the security forces in terms of outcome of sustained operations.

The year 2009 witnessed en masse surrender of the dreaded Dimasa tribe militant, Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel Garlosa faction) of the Black Widow which used to run riot in North Cachar hill district of Assam stalling all development activities, including East West Corridor project of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and a hundreds of railway gauge conversion project worth hundreds of crore in rupees.
Total 374 cadres of Black Widow group surrendered with their weapons, including some sophisticated weapons, in middle of September this year to set the stage for peace negotiation. The surrender happened after the arrest of the outfit’s chairman Jewel Garlosa and a senior leader Partha Warisa from Bangalore on June 3 last.
However, the icing on the cake was the arrest of the chairman of the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) Arabinda Rajkhowa, along with the deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah in Bangladesh. The government maintains that Rajkhowa, accompanied by ‘deputy commander-in-chief and military spokesman’ of the ULFA, Raju Baruah and their wives, children and others eight surrendered immediately after they had been pushed back to the Indian side from Bangladesh. Earlier, two other senior ULFA leaders Foreign Secretary Sashadhar Choudhury and Finance Secretary Chitrabon Hazarika in Bangladesh in November.
This has virtually pushed the ULFA to the corner much to the glee of security forces that have been operating against it under a unified command structure. With all senior leaders of the outfit now under its custody, the Government of India is now in an advantageous position to launch focused effort to trap the fugitive commander-in-chief of the outfit, Paresh Baruah.
Another significant development in the front in the year is the beginning of the process of negotiation with the pro-talks faction of the Bodo tribe militant group and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) though the anti-talks faction led by fugitive leader Ranjan Daimari has remained a major headache for the forces.
According to official records, more than 200 militants were killed by forces during the year, while, more than 1,600 others were arrested. Around 450 militants surrendered with about 800 weapons, thanks to improved mechanism of intelligence sharing among the forces engaged in the counter-insurgency operations after the Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram started taking personal interest in dealing with the situation in the troubled state. 




India’s new war doctrine
Mohammad Jamil

India is preparing for a possible ‘two-front war’ with China and Pakistan, Indian newspaper reported on Wednesday. According to newspaper’s report, Indian Army is now revising its five-year-old doctrine to effectively meet the challenges of war with China and Pakistan, deal with asymmetric and fourth-generation warfare, and enhance strategic reach and joint operations with IAF and Navy. Work on the new war doctrine - to reflect the reconfiguration of threat perceptions and security challenges - is already underway under the aegis of Shimla-based Army Training Command. The head of the command Lt General AS Lamba went so far as to say that a massive thrust in Rawalpindi to quiet Pakistanis within 48 hours of the start of the assault. “The armed forces have to substantially enhance their strategic reach and out-of-area capabilities to protect India’s geo-political interests stretching from Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait. This would enable us to protect our island territories; as also give assistance to the littoral states in the Indian Ocean Region,” said General Kapoor.

In beginning November, Pakistan’s defence analysts had reported about India’s planning for so-called ‘Cold Start’ strategy and preparing for a limited war against Pakistan. General Kapoor’s statement on 24th November 2009 confirmed the hegemonic thrust of India’s nuclear doctrine. Indian Army Chief had indicated that India was setting the stage for a limited war against Pakistan since long. Despite the fact that efforts are afoot to downplay India-China border dispute and rivalry, there is a consensus among defence analysts that Arunachal is a flashpoint like or even more than Taiwan. Bharat Verma, editor Indian Defence Review, in his article titled ‘Unmasking China’ in July/September 2009 issue, had presaged that there could be a war during the month of October 2009 between India and China, which luckily did not happen.

China claims some 90000 square kilometer of Arunachal Pradesh, which was once a part of Tibet. But India takes the plea that it is part of India, which it inherited from the British Raj. The first Chinese Premier Zhou En Lai had written to Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru rejecting latter’s contention that the border was based on 1914 treaty of Simla Convention, adding that Chinese government had not accepted McMohan Line as legal. It appears that Asia is going to be the next theatre of war, thanks to the US and the West’s machinations and India’s ambitions to be a regional power with their support. Recent events in Tibet and Xinjiang however have sparked regional concerns. Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, in an interview with Times of India had claimed that “China would attack India before 2012 to divert the attention of its own people from unprecedented internal dissent, growing unemployment and financial problems that are threatening the hold of Communists in that country”.

In fact, the global financial meltdown and recession have impacted China least, as it has recorded more than 7% growth as compared to 2 to 3% of the most stable economies of the world. Anyhow India’s talk of possibility of war with China is to attract attention of the US and the West with a view to having further concessions and help to strengthen India’s armed forces. Chinese leadership remains well composed as usual and does not intend to create war frenzy. In 1962, when India tried to flex its muscles, Chinese troops had advanced to 48 kilometers in Assam plains and also occupied Indian forces’ strategic posts in Ladakh. The border clashes with China were a direct consequence of the Tibetan problem that cropped up when the Dalai Lama had fled to India. Since then it has become a flashpoint that could spark a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Over the years, both countries held series of negotiations to resolve the territorial dispute but to no avail. But after British Foreign Office clarification on 29th October 2008 admitting that Tibet was part of China, India should have reviewed its policy of claim on Arunachal. Britain should also give its version on Kashmir dispute, as this dispute also owes its origin to British Raj. It should support the United Nations Security Resolution giving the people of Kashmir the right to join Pakistan or India through the UN supervised plebiscite, international community.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Pakistan’s stability has always been the cornerstone of China’s foreign policy. China and Pakistan signed a deal in 2006 to upgrade the Karakoram Highway, which runs from the trading city of Kashgar in China’s far western Xinjiang region to Gilgit in Pakistan and on to Islamabad. Chinese President Hu Jintao had rejected the Indian protest over Chinese help to Pakistan and vowed that China would continue to support projects in Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas.

On the other hand, Chinese government had strongly protested over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, and had expressed its anger over the planned visit of Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh. China had however warned that there should no political speeches, and Dalai Lama avoided any political statement during the trip, as he did not like to exacerbate the tension between China and India.A few months ago, according to Indian press reports China’s soldiers, helicopters and even fighter jets have been intruding in the disputed territory to slowly and steadily retrieve the area. Though Chinese media has never created hype about its territorial dispute with India, yet recently Chinese diplomats, intellectuals and leaders of the public opinion assert claims over Arunachal Pradesh. In May 2009, international media had carried reports that India has significantly upgraded its military prowess along the border it shares with China, deploying two army divisions along with a squadron of top-of-the-line Sukhoi Su-30MKI warplanes at a critical base in the north-east. Three Awacs command-and-control aircraft was also deployed to boost India’s ability to track troop and equipment movements on the Chinese side of the border.

Whereas the US seems to have invoked its policy of containing China and to create a situation to stymie its progress, Beijing is also making preparations to meet any eventuality, and building up its military strength to project power not only regionally but also to contend the US as a major player in global politics. Nevertheless, Chinese leaders hope that frictions can be contained and overwhelmed by the two nation’s shared interest in prosperity. Chinese leadership also understands that economic power is the most important and most essential factor in comprehensive national power, which is why China has all along focused on increasing its economic strength, keeping in mind that its military strength depends on the former.

Indian leadership should not exacerbate the tensions in Asia, and should understand the consequences of saber-rattling and ultimate war with two atomic states. It should also understand that during peace time, army generals should not come out with aggressive statements because that can be construed as declaration of war.






MoD waits for Army chief’s call on land-scam ‘tainted’ General
Express news service Posted online: Saturday , Jan 02, 2010 at 0351 hrs
New Delhi : Defence Minister A K Antony is understood to have asked Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor to expedite the process of disciplinary action against Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash and three other generals allegedly involved in the Sukna cantonment land scam.

As first reported in The Indian Express, Prakash is alleged to gave colluded with private builders to clear no-objection certificates from the Army for construction on land next to the cantonment.

Government sources told The Indian Express that this comes when Army Headquarters is examining the report of Lt General V K Singh recommending “termination of services” (under Rule 19 of the Army Act) of Prakash and disciplinary action against the others. Prakash retires on January 31.

It’s learnt that General Kapoor has sent the report to be legally examined by Director General (Disciplinary Vigilance) under the Adjutant General Lt General Mukesh Sabbarwal before he takes the final call.

Defence Ministry sources said Antony, as an appellate authority, is waiting for the Army Chief to take the call on Singh’s recommendation. “The Defence Minister does not want the case to drag on or get sidetracked by Army Headquarters politics,” said a senior official.

For, there is an attempt by some in the Army Headquarters to portray that Prakash

is a victim of a tussle between Kapoor and his expected successor V K Singh. It sees

the delay in action on part of the Army Headquarters as part of the exercise to let Prakash off with “a censure or a displeasure.”






Tough Kayani warning to proponents of ‘adventurism’
By Iftikhar A. Khan
Saturday, 02 Jan, 2010
ISLAMABAD: The Chief of Army Staff, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said on Friday that peace and stability in South Asia (and beyond) was the logical and fundamental principle underlining the security paradigm of Pakistan.

Addressing senior officers at the General Headquarters here, Gen Kayani said that the army was alive to the full spectrum of threat that continued to exist both in conventional and unconventional domains.

He said that Pakistan Army stood committed and prepared to respond to any existing, potential or emerging threat. An army supported by 170 million people, with faith in Allah, is a formidable force to be reckoned with.

“Proponents of conventional application of military forces, in a nuclear overhang, are chartering an adventurous and dangerous path, the consequences of which could be both unintended and uncontrollable,” he said.

He said Pakistan was not oblivious to the unprecedented acquisition of sophisticated military hardware, synergised with an offensive military doctrine.

However, as a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan army would contribute to strategic stability and strategic restraint as per the stated policy of the government.

He said peace and stability in South Asia was the logical and fundamental principle underlining the security calculus of Pakistan.

The recent statement by Indian Army Chief Gen Kapoor about the two-front war strategy on which India was at present working, targeting China and Pakistan, had sent shockwaves among those aspiring for peace and stability in the region.

Commenting on Gen Kayani’s observation, a defence analyst observed that India had to be reminded from time to time that Pakistan was a nuclear power, fully capable of deterring any external aggression.

He pointed out that Pakistan could fire missiles at only 10 minutes’ notice on all Indian cities.

Pakistan is the fourth country in the world possessing cruise missiles which are considered to be capable of accurately hitting targets in India.

The maximum range of Indian missiles is 1500 kilometres while Pakistan’s Shaheen has a range of 3500 kilometres.





Nod to US gun purchase minus bids
SUJAN DUTTA
New Delhi, Jan. 1: The government has authorised an outright purchase of 145 ultra-light howitzers from the US, a highly-placed defence ministry source said today.

The ultra-light howitzers are for the mountain artillery divisions of the Indian Army to be used in high-altitude frontiers opposite Pakistan and China. They can be transported slung from some helicopters.

The defence acquisitions committee has decided to take the foreign military sales route. Foreign military sales is a US programme of government-to-government sales of military hardware bypassing a lengthy system of competitive bidding. But bidders who lose out to foreign military sales orders allege that the system lacks transparency.

“We will also look at other options,” defence secretary Pradeep Kumar said.

The Indian Air Force has taken the foreign military sales route to contract six Lockheed Martin-made Hercules C130J air lifters and the army did the same to buy artillery fire-finding radars.

Two brands of ultra-light howitzers were initially in contention for the Indian Army’s estimated $2.5-billion artillery modernisation programme — ST Kinetics’ Pegasus and BAE Land Systems’ M777 made in the US.

BAE Land Systems has bought over the erstwhile Swedish firm Bofors that sold 410 155mm howitzers to India in 1986. The army has not bought a single big gun since the last of the Bofors howitzer was delivered in 1987, 22 years back.

ST Kinetics was blacklisted this year after the company figured in investigations into the deals struck by the former director general of the Ordnance Factory Board in Calcutta. The government has lifted the bar on trials in multiple-vendor situations.

If the government takes the foreign military sales route, the order is likely to go to BAE Land Systems. The source said the defence acquisitions council authorised the foreign military sales route before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US last month.

The army wants to buy 145 ultra-light howitzers, 158 towed and wheeled, 100 tracked, and 180 wheeled and armoured guns in the first phase as part of its field artillery rationalisation plan, the programme to upgrade its artillery divisions.

Defence secretary Pradeep Kumar said the government has speeded up the buying of military hardware. Between 2007 and 2009, a total of 465 contracts have been signed. These are worth more than Rs 1,35,000 crore.

He said in 10 years, the defence ministry had doubled the capital expenditure for new acquisitions. The acquisitions were worth Rs 62,272 crore between 1999 and 2004. They total Rs 1,37,496 crore between 2004 and 2009. In the current year (2009-2010), Rs 41,000 crore was being spent on direct capital acquisitions.

The acquisitions have included Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems, Sukhoi 30MKI fighter aircraft, aircraft for VIPs, missiles of different types and tanks.




DRDO: A chequered year

Hemant Kumar Rout
BALASORE: It was a year of setbacks for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as two consecutive tests of India’s most trusted missile Agni-II, conducted in May and November, failed to deliver the desired results. The missile even failed to cover one third of its striking range of 2,000 km during the user trials.

Though the DRDO successfully launched the country’s first nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant and tested an interceptor missile PAD that helped India to join the US, Russia and Israel which have anti-ballistic missile capabilities but the twin failures of Agni put the credibility of the DRDO scientists at stake.

The failure, in fact, started during the land version test of BrahMos cruise missile from the Pokharan range of Rajasthan on January 20.

Developed under a joint venture of India and Russia, the missile’s GPS system could not link onboard computers with hovering satellites eventually crippling its guidance system and keeping it from achieving mission objectives. The snags were fixed and the missile having a strike range of 290 km was tested from the same range successfully.

March brought cheers for the DRDO scientists as a newly developed interceptor missile PAD was successfully test-fired from the Wheelers Island off the Orissa coast. The exo-atmospheric (outside the atmosphere) missile, which has been renamed as ‘Pradyumna’ has a killing probability of over 99 per cent. During the trial the missile, which has the ballistic missile defence (BMD) capabilities similar to the Israeli Arrow-2 system, intercepted an incoming missile and met all mission objectives bringing cheer for the DRDO authorities.

In May, the scientists conducted two consecutive tests of the country’s first beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAM) Astra from the integrated test range at Chandipur-on-sea. Both the rounds were tested from a specially-made ground launcher in two days. The short-range missile’s dual mode guidance was fully proved when it was fired from the ground at an imaginary target. The propulsion system, navigation control and air frame were once again proved as they were validated in earlier trials.

But misfortune struck the country’s elite organisation in the same month when the 2000-km plus range missile Agni-II plunged into the sea before covering the pre-coordinated path and meeting the mission parameters. The missile deviated from its path after the first stage separation and wandered at an angle of 180 degree midway. Though it was coordinated for a distance of nearly 2000 km, it covered only 203 km. The DRDO had to face severe criticism from various quarters as the missile again tested in November failed to deliver desired results. As the twin tests were conducted by the user (Indian Army) ended in failure, several defence analysts raised concern about its deployment during war.

December, however, came as face-saver for the DRDO as the Naval personnel carried out a successful trial of nuke-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile Dhanush from the warship INS Subhadra anchored in the Bay of Bengal.







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