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Thursday, 21 January 2010

From Today's Papers - 21 Jan 10






26/11 repeat may test India’s patience: US
Says Qaida fuelling Indo-Pak conflict
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 20
The US today warned Pakistan that India’s patience would be “limited” if it faces another Mumbai-type attack. It also described Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) as part of a terror syndicate run by the Osama Bin Laden-led Al-Qaida that wants to trigger confrontation between India and Pakistan to destabilise the region.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, while addressing a press conference after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister AK Antony, said India responded with great restraint and statesmanship after the Mumbai attacks.“…..I think it is not unreasonable to assume that Indian patience will be limited in case of another attack”, said Gates in reply to a question if what he presumed would be India’s response in case the LeT attacked again.
“The Al-Qaida (through its wings like the LeT) is out to destabilise the region by provoking an Indo-Pak conflict. It is a very complicated and dangerous situation and requires a high-level of cooperation among all,” the US Defence Secretary said.
Al-Qaida has a safe haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and the LeT was focusing on Pakistan and India, said Gates, who is a former CIA director. Though India would have wanted it, Gates did not mention any element of the Pakistan government or the ISI as being a part of the Qaida-run syndicate.
Gates said he appreciated the insight he got ( after meeting the Indian side) on Afghanistan and shared the concerns. “The support India is providing in Afghanistan is very ideal. The $ 1.3-billion aide is a significant one. It plays an important role,” he said.
On being asked if the US perceived a military role for India in Afghanistan, Gates said there is a real suspicion in India and Pakistan on what the other was doing in Afghanistan. “Perhaps the role can be limited to training and humanitarian efforts but with complete transparency,” he added.
The crucial part of the Indo-US discussion was China’s growing military modernisation programme and its impact in the region. Gates said the US wants to engage China in a dialogue to prevent any misunderstanding and miscalculations.







More muscle for special forces
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
The Army is marching ahead to boost firepower and enhance mobility of its special forces and select infantry outfits. It is procuring carbines for close-quarter battle, additional accessories for its recently acquired TAR-21 assault rifles and all-terrain vehicles.

Recently, the Army was in the market to procure special assault rifles that can shoot around corners without the soldier having to expose himself for a direct line-of-sight shot.
The Army has opted for a 5.56 mm carbine, a departure from the obsolete 9 mm caliber currently in service. Since carbines are smaller and more compact than rifles and capable of a high rate of automatic fire, they are preferred for combat at short ranges and in confined spaces, though their effectiveness is negligible at longer ranges. Special forces world over are heavy users of carbines.
The Army wants carbines to be fully operable by troops wearing NBC protective clothing, besides having the capability to mount additional gadgets like laser rangers and night vision sights.
The list of accessories for the modular Israeli Tavor TAR-21 rifle, which is now the standard personal weapon for special forces personnel and paratroopers includes telescopic sights and night vision sights, accessory rails for mounting additional gadgets, high-intensity flashlights, dual magazine clips and luminous sights for under-barrel grenade launchers.
Also being sought for the TAR-21 are single eye night vision goggles with headband. Providing high-resolution imagery and image intensification troops would be able to use them in conjugation with the rifle’s day sights or as an independent gadget by being worn on the forehead.
Specifications for the all-terrain vehicles (ATV) include seating capacity for 10 persons and the ability to operate across a wide spectrum terrain and climatic conditions, including snowbound areas, deserts and marshes.
Inbuilt GPS and navigation system, air-conditioning, fire-fighting aids, internal and external storage capacity for military equipment, cold starting system and provisions for attaching engineering support equipment like snow cutter, blades and trailers would be added features of the ATV.





Call of courage: These Army heroes inspire many
Western Command felicitates 23 bravehearts with Sena Medal
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
Naik Anil Kumar of 1 Para was among the bravehearts, who had stormed and liberated Nariman House during the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008. With victory at his feet, a few months later, the commando etched another story of gallantry. This time, however, with his blood, as he fell fighting a similar enemy but in a different location.

On a counter-terrorist operation in the rough jungles of Kupwara in March 2009, a far cry from the earlier cosmopolitan battleground, Anil spotted terrorists and opened fire. Retaliatory fire came in from three directions and in the melee, he rushed forward to rescue a buddy. Anil received gunshot wounds, but returned fire, killing two militants. He, however, succumbed to his injuries, and was decorated with the Sena Medal. Three Army commandos associated with the Mumbai operations were among 23 personnel awarded the Sena Medal at the Western Command investiture ceremony in Pathankot today. Four of them, however, were posthumous.
Other tales of heroism that flowed forth at the ceremony included that of Lt Satbir Singh from the Army Education Corps (AEC), who too laid down his life combating terrorists in the North-East. Detecting terrorist movements while leading a team of commandos and police, he opened fire and killed one of them. After rescuing a wounded soldier, he again engaged the terrorists, killing another.
Naik Kishori Lal of 8 Grenadiers and Pankaj Gurung of 4/8 Gorkha Rifles also attained martyrdom, while displaying the same legacy of courage and leadership.
Pankaj was leading a scout party near Manipur when on observing suspicious movements, he forewarned other security teams. In the ensuing action, he received injuries on his chest and arms, but held on to his position and engaged the enemy. His timely warning and subsequent action averted a major incident.
Kishori was leading a small team to cut off an escape route of terrorists in Kupwara, when the troops came under intense fire. He was hit in the leg, but he outmaneuvered the terrorists and came face to face with them from the flanks. In the ensuing gunfight, Kishori was fatally injured.
Major Sanjay Kandwal of Kumaon Regiment and Naik Sate Singh of the Parachute Regiment were decorated for their leadership, courage and acumen during the Mumbai carnage. After evacuating scores of foreign and Indian hostages from the Taj Hotel, they charged into a bar where terrorists were holed up and neutralised them.
Of the 23 gallantry awards, 19 went to the Infantry, including the Parachute and Special Forces. The other recipients were one each from the Armoured Regiment, Army Ordnance Corps, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers and the AEC. Three officers, Maj-Gen (now Lt- Gen) GM Nair (Infantry), Maj-Gen Surendra Nath (Armoured) and Brig SB Negi (Infantry) were awarded the Vashisht Seva Medal for meritorious services
The medals were presented by the General Officer Commanding, Western Command, Lt Gen Shankar Ranjan Ghosh. A large number of senior officers and their wives were also present on the occasion.






India raises defence export licence concerns with US
Press Trust of India / New Delhi January 20, 2010, 20:13 IST

India today raised serious concerns relating to defence trade with the US, including export licence restrictions on its PSUs and DRDO by including them in the American 'Entity List'.

During a meeting between Defence Minister A K Antony and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates here, India also informed the US that its bilateral defence relations should grow from seller-buyer to a comprehensive cooperation rooted in transfer of technology and co-production of equipment and weapons.

Indicating its hesitation in going ahead with three defence agreements, it stressed that these pacts, including Communication Inter-operability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), being pushed by US, would have to be studied for their benefits before signing them.

"Antony conveyed to Gates the Indian concerns regarding denial of export licences for various defence related requirement of the armed forces and also regarding the inclusion of some Indian defence PSUs and DRDO labs in the 'Entity List' of the US government," a Defence Ministry spokesperson said in a statement.

"Antony expressed the view that such restrictions were anomalous in the context of the steady improvement in the bilateral defence relations between both countries," he said.

Gates, during the meeting, referred to President Barack Obama's initiative on a comprehensive reform of US export control regulations and assured that it would involve facilitation in the supply of defence technology and equipment to India.





India and Pakistan: Cold Start for the Hottest War?

Wednesday 20 January 2010

by: J. Sri Raman, t r u t h o u t | Report

We have all been witness to a long and continuing war of words between New Delhi and Islamabad ever since the Mumbai terrorist strike of November 2008 disrupted the India-Pakistan "peace process" and "composite dialogue" which had kept going until then despite smaller problems and provocations. These statements and counter-statements, however, do not constitute the exchange that should cause the most serious concern over peace in South Asia.

A larger and direr threat is what a strangely less-noticed debate between the military establishments of the two countries presents. The chiefs of the two armies and security experts on both sides, besides others in either distinguished uniform or defense-related positions of prominence, have been engaged in the debate where a nuclear war is treated in mind-numbingly matter-of-fact terms.

It all started with a statement on November 23, 2009, by India's Chief of Army Staff Gen. Deepak Kapoor, which deserved a much wider notice than it received. He told a seminar in New Delhi: "The possibility of a limited war under a nuclear overhang is still a reality, at least in the Indian sub-continent."

He followed this up with public observations on December 29, 2009, about a plan to "launch self-contained and highly-mobile 'battle groups,' adequately backed by air cover and artillery fire assaults, for rapid thrusts into enemy territory within 96 hours." The reference was to the "cold start" military doctrine, reportedly first propounded by the Indian army in 2004 and fine-tuned subsequently. The doctrine for a "limited war" - something "short of a nuclear war" - has triggered a debate that actually raises again the prospect of the most dreaded of conflicts between the close neighbors.

Details of the doctrine make it clear that it is designed to promote war by countering Indian democracy and international peace initiatives. India's security analyst Subhash K. Kapila - who describes the doctrine as "a blitzkrieg-type strategy" to be pursued through "integrated battle groups" drawn from all the three wings of the armed forces - puts these objectives in other words.

In a paper titled "India's new 'cold start' doctrine strategically reviewed," Kapila notes that the doctrine, which says goodbye to weeks-long "military mobilization," will not only retain the surprise element in the offensive. It will also serve two other purposes.

In the first place, it will "compel the political leadership to give political approval ab initio and thereby free the armed forces to generate their full combat potential from the outset." The government is required to give the army a blank check, so to speak. Long mobilization "gives the political leadership in India time to waver under pressure, and in the process deny Indian Army its due military victories." Secondly, lengthy preparations also allow time for "Pakistan's external patrons ... to start exerting coercive pressures and mobilizing world opinion ..."

The analysis makes it clear that the doctrine will demand a new degree of militarism of India's political leadership. The strategy can succeed, Kapila points out, only if New Delhi has the "political will to use offensive military power" and "pre-emptive military strategies," the "political sagacity to view strategic military objectives with clarity" and the "political determination to pursue military operations to their ultimate conclusion without succumbing to external pressures."

Last, but certainly not the least, condition for the success of the strategy will be what Kapila calls the "political determination to cross [the] nuclear threshold if Pakistan seems so inclined." The paper notes: "Pakistan has declared that it will go for nuclear strikes against India when a significant portion of its territory has been captured or likely to be captured, ... when a significant destruction of the Pakistani military machine has taken place or when Pakistani strategic assets (read nuclear deterrents) are endangered." Offensives under the doctrine will not allow "Pakistan to reach the above conclusions."

What about the dreadful possibility that Pakistan does reach such a conclusion, even if by mistake, and responds with a nuclear strike? The analyst provides the answer implicit in the doctrine: "Pakistan cannot expect that India would sit idle and suffer a Pakistani nuclear strike without a massive nuclear retaliation." As the paper elaborates, "Pakistan's external strategic patrons can coerce or dissuade both sides to avoid a nuclear conflict, but once Pakistan uses a nuclear first strike no power can restrain India from going in for its nuclear retaliation and the consequences for Pakistan in that case stand well discussed in strategic circles. Pakistan would (be) wiped out."

Pakistani responses have been prompt and even worse than predictable. General Deepak's counterpart, Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Ashfaq Pervez Kayani charged India with "charting a course of dangerous adventurism whose consequences can be both unintended and uncontrollable." As Pakistan's peace activist Zia Mian put it: "In other words, Pakistan was threatening to use nuclear weapons if India tried to carry out the kind of conventional attack it has been rehearsing."

The civilian-military National Command Authority (NCA) of Pakistan, meeting under Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on January 13, took "serious note of recent Indian statements about conducting conventional military strikes under a nuclear umbrella" and said "such irresponsible statements reflected a hegemonic mindset, oblivious of dangerous implications of adventurism in a nuclearized context."

The NCA added: "Massive inductions of advanced weapon systems, including installation of ABMs (anti-ballistic missiles), build-up of nuclear arsenal and delivery systems through ongoing and new programs, assisted by some external quarters, offensive doctrines like 'Cold Start' and similar accumulations in the conventional realm, tend to destabilize the regional balance." Earlier, former Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri took it upon himself to declare: "Pakistan's defense establishment has taken serious notice of the Indian doctrine of 'Cold Start' and all necessary arrangements have been made for an appropriate and timely response in case of any Indian misadventure."

It was left, again, to security experts to elaborate on the subject. Among these was Maleeha Lodhi, a journalist, an academic and a diplomat. A former high commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom, and a former ambassador to the US, she was recently reported to be under consideration as a possible replacement for Hussain Haqqani as the new Pakistani ambassador in Washington.

In an analysis published on January 5 in Pakistan's News International, Lodhi talks of the notion of "limited war" contained in the doctrine, and says: "It overlooks the fact that in a crisis the nuclear threshold will be indeterminate. The threshold cannot be wished away by "speed in mobilization," she said.

"In fact," she added, "the shorter the duration needed for a mobilization the greater the risk of escalation and the likely lowering of Pakistan's nuclear red lines. The long fuse in a crisis provided by the time required for assembly and deployment of forces has so far helped to avoid a catastrophic war."

Lodhi warns: "If operationalized, the 'cold start' doctrine will force Pakistan to re-evaluate its policy of keeping its nuclear arsenal in 'separated' form and move towards placing its strategic capability in a higher state of readiness, including mating warheads to delivery systems. The action-reaction cycle will move the subcontinent to a perilous state of hair-trigger alert."

The same scary prospect is raised in an article by security columnist Farzana Shah in the Asian Tribune of January 14. She writes: "(The) Indian military establishment is relying much more on President (Asif Ali) Zardari's announcement that Pakistan will not use its nuclear weapon as first strike. In reality, it is Pakistan army who will decide which weapon is to be used when and where."

The deciding authority, Shah suggests, only makes the danger more real. She adds: "Another problem, which India is going to face during any execution of Cold Start, is the gauge of nuclear threshold of Pakistan, a point where Pakistan would decide to go for unconventional warfare. This is where Army Chief Asfaq Pervez Kayani (has) hinted that the consequences of any misadventure in a nuclear overhang can be suicidal for India."

Anyone with any doubt about the alternative to a peace-oriented India-Pakistan dialogue needs only to listen to even a little of the debate over the cold start doctrine and its nuclear dimension.






Chinese Jigsaw:
What Does The Parallel Cyber Attack On India Mean?

London, UK - 20th January 2010, 13:51 GMT

In the latest sign of rising tensions between the two rival Asian powers, the Indian government has informed the world that the Prime Minister's Office computers were hacked on December 15th. Trojan malware was routed through the United States and Russia but was ultimately traced to an IP address on the Chinese mainland. Synchronised cyber attacks also targeted US defence contractors, finance and technology companies including Google at the same time. Beijing denies it had anything to do with the intrusions. The malware also briefly penetrated some computers in the Indian National Security Council secretariat in the Home Ministry before it was detected and dismembered. India's economy, with a large and growing technology industry, is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. A growing threat from Chinese hackers, amongst other pressing defence matters, is already pushing New Delhi closer to Washington, as the US Defence Secretary starts his official two-day visit to India. The Chinese cyber attack was probably timed to fish out information intelligence on India’s likely position ahead of the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, some key officials in India have revealed.

Chinese Jigsaw

Indian Perspective

India's National Security Adviser MK Narayanan confirmed the cyber attack. The NSA plays a critical role in India's Nuclear Command Authority (NCA). He said that:

. The attack came in the form of an eMail with a PDF attachment containing a Trojan virus, which allows a hacker to access and to control a computer remotely and download or delete files;

. Our people seem to be fairly sure it was the Chinese. It is difficult to find the exact source but this main suspicion seems well founded; and

. India is co-operating with the US and UK to bolster its cyber defences.

India is particularly anxious to prevent any type of attack from disrupting the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October. This is not the first time Chinese hackers have tried to attack Indian government computers. According to the mi2g Intelligence Unit, Chinese hackers had been caught earlier too, attempting to break into Indian government computers and the computers of the Ministry of External Affairs personnel worldwide. Many Indian government officials believe that the Chinese hackers are operating as part of a military operation designed to find foreign technology, and hunt for China dissidents. [Ref ATCA Briefing: China's Cold Cyberwar: Rise of 5th-Dimension Red Army and Economic Pearl Harbour?]

US Perspective

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, has just arrived in India for a two-day visit. He is pushing for expanded co-operation with New Delhi on cyber-security, military technology and other strategic areas. Gates has already met with top Indian leaders, including prime minister Manmohan Singh and SM Krishna, the foreign minister. The trip follows a visit by Singh to Washington in November, the first formal state visit hosted by President Obama.

Both US and Indian officials believe that China is at best an Internet mischief maker and at worst a potential cyber-adversary. US officials hope that stronger ties with India on Internet security issues will benefit the networks of both countries.

A senior US Defence Department official said there is a growing relationship between the US and India. He said, we desire to enhance, strengthen our sharing of technology with India; we want to share more information with India, and we want to develop co-operative programs in maritime, cyberspace and outer space.

Chinese Perspective

China has officially stated that hacking in whatever form is prohibited by law in China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu has rejected India’s accusations, describing them as groundless. He said China itself was the biggest victim of hacking activities and the Chinese government is firmly against it. China will deal with relevant cases in accordance with the law.

Geo-Political Consequences

The latest cyber incident is likely to place further strain on China-India relations. The Chinese won the brief war with India over the Himalayan border in 1962. Relations between the two powers had improved significantly over the past decade but have taken a sudden turn for the worse in 2009, as the border feud has reignited. This prompted India to deploy two more army divisions and fighter jets on its eastern border with China. Underpinning the tensions are India’s concerns about China expanding its influence amongst its neighbours including Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, as well as challenging its naval power in the Indian Ocean. At the same time, Beijing feels threatened by New Delhi’s warming relations with Washington especially since the US lifted its ban on selling nuclear material and technology to India in 2008 and is poised to sell it billions of dollars worth of defence equipment.






Zero tolerance needed to stem Army rot

The day after tomorrow, on January 15, the Indian Army will commemorate the 52nd Army Day, the anniversary of the first Indian to take command of the army of independent India, General, later Field Marshal K.C. Cariappa. As days go, there is nothing unusual about it. There will be the traditional parade in the cantonment and the reception at the chief’s house later in the evening. But this Army Day, it will be difficult to avoid a dark sense of foreboding caused, not by the weather, but certain developments related to the discipline and good order of the force.
On Monday, the Army chief General Deepak Kapoor ordered the issuance of show cause notices to four of its senior generals. This would have been seen as an act of condign disciplinary action, were it not for the fact that the general has been visibly reluctant to act on the issue which involves his Military Secretary Lt Gen Avdesh Prakash, one-time Deputy Chief of Army Staff designate, Lt Gen P.K. Rath, Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali and Maj Gen P. Sen.
The four generals named above have been found to have crossed the red lines by a court of inquiry which has recommended that Prakash be dismissed, Rath and Sen tried by a court martial and administrative action be taken against Halgali.


This recommendation, relating to actions they took in relation to some land in Sukhna cantonment, has been upheld by the vigilance wing of the army headquarters. Such a recommendation is unprecedented in the annals of the army. As Military Secretary, Prakash heads all the promotion boards of the army and handles the postings of all officers above the rank of colonel and decides on the foreign postings of officers. The lack of an ethical compass in an officer at that level may have inflicted longer term damage.

Turpitude
Unfortunately, the scandal is only the latest in a line of revelations that have besmirched the image of the Indian Army. Last year, the army dismissed Major General A.K. Lal found guilty of molesting a woman officer. Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha in early 2007, Defence Minister A.K. Antony gave a list of 25 senior armed forces officers facing charges of corruption and financial irregularities. Among them were several general-level officers as well as people like ex-Maj Gen P.S.K. Choudhry and ex-Brigadier Iqbal Singh who were caught taking bribes in the Tehelka episode.
In the past and in a sense even now, it is not uncommon to have officers in the Army Supply Corps or the Army Ordnance Corps to be found with their hand in the till. However the recent trend, more alarming because of it, is that officers in the combat arms are being found guilty of moral turpitude and corruption. There was the 2004 case where an ex-major general, G.I. Singh Multani, was found to be selling military liquor by the truckload in the civil market.
Since British times, the Indian Army has owed its operational efficiency to the fact that it is deliberately separated from society at large. The military live in special cantonments, have their own canteens to buy things, their own schools to educate their children and so on. This ensures that the many divisions and tensions of Indian society are not reflected in military units which have long been rightly advertised as the best example of India’s secular nationalism.

Law
In common with the military forces of many countries, the Indian Army is governed by a special statute, the Army Act of 1950 whose aim is to ensure swift and drastic action for any infringement of discipline and good order. To civilian eyes, military justice is too swift to be fair. That is not the case, but it is certainly draconian, something seen as desirable if the military is to be able to function at its best.
Military law and the summary powers, which are often devolved to unit commanders, emerged from the compulsions of organising armies and ensuring that they were able to be battle-ready at all times. For this reason, even in democratic societies, military law has a distinct draconian touch. But this is what has provided the army its unique ethos which evokes considerable respect from all sections of society in the country.
In earlier times, officers could be court-martialed and punished for “conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman” which could be anything from indecency and dishonesty to cruelty. In 2000, a Lieutenant General in charge of the Leh Corps was asked to put in his papers for being involved with another officer’s wife.
There may be a view that such matters are private and what happens between consenting adults is no one’s concern. But, and this should not surprise, people hold their leaders to a higher level of accountability than they would themselves. This is what accounts for the righteous indignation over the conduct of, say, erstwhile Governor of Andhra Pradesh, N.D. Tiwari.
Therefore, the government needs to do everything to ensure that the military leadership does not back away from the task of maintaining discipline and good order in its ranks. The government has created an armed forces tribunal to act as a civil court while adjudicating service matters and a criminal court when looking at appeals against courts martial.
But there is something more that can and needs to be done. The sense of honour is an important component of the ethos and esprit de corps of the military. That is why G.I. Singh Multani of the booze scandal and P.S.K. Chaudhry of the Tehelka fame were stripped of their rank as major-general. The government must now follow it up with stripping officers convicted of serious crime and moral turpitude of their decorations and distinguished service awards.
This has been done in the case of former DGP S.P.S. Rathore of the Ruchika molestation case almost as an afterthought. Public outrage pushed the Union Home Ministry to act swiftly on the matter. There is no reason why military officers convicted of various crimes and misdemeanours are also not stripped of their honours and medals.

Honour
To the civilian, a medal is a piece of metal with a bright ribbon. But it means a great deal to the person who wears it on his chest. The disgrace of being stripped of rank and decorations will add some teeth to the failing deterrent of military justice. Indeed, in the early 1990s, the then Defence Secretary not only ensured that a corrupt general was forced to leave the army, but his decorations were withdrawn. However, the sympathy of his brother officers led to their restitution later. Unfortunately, the response of many senior army officers to the Sukhna scam is that the Army can only be as good as the society it springs from.
The problem with the military of today is that instead of maintaining a tradition of zero tolerance, there is misplaced solidarity with brother officers. This is what has enabled Rathore to escape justice for so long, and this is what seems to have persuaded Kapoor to drag his feet in the Sukhna case.
What has happened in the police forces could well happen to the army if its officers start believing that they must stick together through the thick and the thin as a corporate entity. This attitude will hollow out the army’s discipline, good order and ethos, and eventually the whole country would pay the price.
The army has a great reputation as a national institution and instead of allowing it to “catch up” with civilian institutions in its failings, an effort should be made to show it as an exemplar of ethical conduct.
This appeared in Mail Today January 13, 2010





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