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Friday, 22 January 2010

From Today's Papers - 22 Jan 10







Shiv Shankar Menon named NSA
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 21
Former Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon has been appointed the National Security Adviser (NSA), replacing MK Narayanan who has been sent to West Bengal on gubernatorial assignment, sources in the PMO confirmed tonight.

The Appointments Committee of Cabinet today approved the appointment of Menon, whose retirement in August last was marked by a controversy over the Sharm-al-Sheikh statement between India and Pakistan, and a formal announcement would be made shortly.
“I am humbled and conscious…it’s a big responsibility and I will do my best,’’ the 60-year-old former diplomat said.
Menon will be the fourth occupant of the key office. The NSA’s post was created in 1998 to oversee the management of the country’s security, both in the immediate term and long term. Brajesh Mishra was the first NSA till 2004, and was succeeded by JN Dixit, who died in January, 2005, thereafter, Narayanan held the job.
There was a toss up between Menon and another former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, who is the Prime Minister’s special envoy for climate change, for the NSA’s post. The dice turned in favour of Menon as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not wish to disturb Saran, especially in view of crucial negotiations India has been holding with key nations on climate-related issues.
A trusted lieutenant of the Prime Minister, Menon, brings a wealth of experience to his new portfolio. In the rank of a Minister of State (MOS), Menon will be India’s point person for all major diplomatic and strategic initiatives. However, there are indications that issues pertaining to internal security will now be handled exclusively by the Home Ministry. His predecessor Narayanan was in charge of internal security too, but he came in for scathing attack over the government’s handling of the security apparatus following the 26/11 terror attacks.
Menon retired from the foreign service with many achievements to his credit, particularly for navigating the historic Indo-US nuclear deal through choppy waters. So strong were his credentials that Menon had superseded nearly 16 of his seniors to claim the job of the Foreign Secretary in September, 2006. He served as India’s envoy to China, Pakistan, Israel and Sri Lanka.





Darjeeling Land Scam
Why action against only one Gen, asks Antony
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 21
Defence Minister AK Antony has reportedly asked Chief of Indian Army General Deepak Kapoor as to what was the basis of disciplinary action against only one of the four senior generals facing a probe in an alleged land scam in West Bengal.

Well-placed sources confirmed that Antony has asked the Army Chief as to why only Lt-Gen PK Rath had been served a show-cause notice for possible court martial proceedings while the others would face only administrative action. The latter is a very mild reprimand as compared to a court martial.
The Defence Minister, who has maintained that the guilty will be punished, wanted to know from the Army Chief as to why the report of the court of inquiry (CoI) was not accepted in totality. The Army chief’s January 11 ruling is in contrast to the recommendation of Eastern Army Commander Lt-Gen VK Singh, who had after the CoI claimed that there was enough ground for the termination of Military Secretary Lt-Gen Avadesh Prakash’s service. The CoI was conducted on the orders of Lt-Gen VK Singh. Antony today said his ministry was monitoring the action the Army chief was taking in the land scam. “You know, the Army has started some procedure. He has taken some action... We are watching that,” Antony told reporters on the sidelines of a NCC function.
Last week, Adjutant General Mukesh Sabharwal issued notices for taking administrative action against Military Secretary Lt-Gen Avadesh Prakash, Lt-Gen Ramesh Halgali and Maj-Gen P Sen. This, however, means the Military Secretary will be saved from the ignominy of facing a sack. Under the Army Act, administrative action could be as wide as issuing a warning to termination from service.






Pak army: No new offensive for 6-12 months
Assotiated Press, Friday January 22, 2010, Islamabad

The Pakistani army said on Thursday it cannot expand its offensive against militants for at least six months, and the United States backed off public pressure on an ally considered vital in the war next door in Afghanistan.

Remarks from the Army's chief spokesman during a visit by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates did not rule out the offensive the United States would like to see, against militants who target US forces in Afghanistan from hideouts in Pakistan.

"We are not talking years," Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told reporters traveling with Gates. "Six months to a year" would be needed before Pakistan could consolidate the gains it has made against militants in other parts of the country and then consider going further, he said.

"By a lot of hard work we brought public support on board," for campaigns last year in the Swat valley and South Waziristan, he said.

US officials appeared to accept Pakistan's rationale that it has limited military resources and cannot risk getting ahead of the public's acceptance for a campaign that involves killing fellow Muslims.

"We have to do this in a way that is comfortable for them, and at a pace that they can accommodate and is tolerable for them," Gates said ahead of meetings with Pakistani civilian and military leaders. "Frankly, I'm comfortable doing that. I think having them set that pace as to what they think the political situation will bear is almost certainly the right thing to do."

The Obama administration has taken a softer tone with Pakistan in recent months, praising the country's unprecedented assault on militants inside its borders.

In meetings Thursday with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, the country's army chief and others, Gates called the anti-terror operations a success so far, "and he acknowledged to all of them that we realize that has come with a great deal of sacrifice for the military," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said following the sessions.

"We are not trying to prescribe a timeline by which they must do things," Morrell said.
Abbas' comments clearly indicate Pakistan will not be pressured to quickly expand its fight beyond militants waging war against the Pakistani state. Whether it can be convinced in the long term is still an open question.

The Pakistani army launched a major ground offensive against the Pakistani Taliban's main stronghold near the Afghan border in mid-October, triggering a wave of retaliatory violence across the country that has killed more than 600 people.

Washington believes Pakistani pressure on militants staging cross-border attacks against coalition troops in Afghanistan is critical to success in Afghanistan as it sends an additional 30,000 troops to the country this year.

A senior US military official in Pakistan said Pakistan is doing far more than outsiders would have imagined possible a year ago against militants on its turf, but holds back information about its military plans.

The reticence is understandable if frustrating, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military cooperation. The United States holds back too, even while contributing more than $3 billion in military aid to Pakistan last year, the official said. The Obama administration has promised $1.5 billion in nonmilitary aid on top of that for the next five years.

Referring to intense political pressure in Washington to lean harder on Pakistan, Gates sounded sanguine.

"As I try to remind Congress from time to time, and frankly some of the folks in the administration, it's the Pakistanis who have their foot on the accelerator, not us," Gates told reporters at the start of his two-day visit to Pakistan.

The political pressure goes two ways. Suspicion of U.S. motives runs high in Pakistan, and many Pakistanis bristle as the notion that Washington could dictate the country's priorities even with a recent promise of an unprecedented $1.5 billion in annual aid.

In an interview Thursday with local Express TV, Gates said he is well aware of what he called conspiracy theories about U.S. motives in Pakistan, calling them "nonsense." The U.S. has no intention or desire to take over control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, occupy or split up the country, or divide the Muslim world, he said.





Revamping security set-up
More important than personnel change
by Inder Malhotra
EVER since the New Delhi grapevine started forecasting National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan’s departure from the Prime Minister’s Office to Raj Bhavan in Kolkata, it has been clear that the change is a prelude to a revamping of the entire national security architecture in this country, such as it is. The institution of NSA has existed in the United States since the end of World War II and in Russia also for a long time. Here, however, it is very new and in an evolutionary stage.
To be sure Mr Narayanan was very briefly the NSA and chief executive of the first ever National Security Council in V.P. Singh’s time. But the whole exercise was no more than a flash in the pan. Both the NSC and the NSA disappeared with the fall of V.P. Singh’s government. Mr Narayanan went back to his earlier post of Director of Intelligence Bureau from which V.P. Singh had shifted him, and served for several years.
It was only in 1999 when Atal Behari Vajpayee was Prime Minister that the first functioning NSC was formed and the first functioning NSA was appointed. However, Atalji assigned the onerous task to his already overburdened Principal Secretary, Mr Brajesh Mishra, which was totally contrary to the recommendations of the task force on the subject. (Interestingly, Mr Mishra is now opposed to the institution of NSA because he thinks it is incompatible with parliamentary democracy.)
In 2004 when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance came to power, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed J.N. Dixit, a former foreign secretary, as his NSA. Simultaneously, Mr Narayanan joined the PMO as an adviser on internal security. Coordination of all intelligence agencies and ministries involved in making national security policy remained with the NSA.
After Dixit’s sudden death in January 2005, Mr Narayanan became the NSA and took over the overseeing of both external and internal security. Being a veteran of the intelligence establishment and a long serving DIB, he also started micromanaging intelligence agencies that aroused criticism. Too much executive responsibility, the critics argued, detracted from the NSA’s job of coordinating the making of national security policies and monitoring their implementation. But this had no impact. Mr Narayanan, like Mr Mishra, acquired a very high profile that was — in some ways though not entirely — comparable to the roles played in the US by Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. To say this, however, is not to overlook the good work Mr Narayanan has done and services he has rendered. Even his critics acknowledge his constructive role in negotiating the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal. It is also remarkable that after 26/11 the Prime Minister refused to accept his resignation while others were allowed, if not actually told, to leave. Some attributed this to the confidence that the Congress President was perceived to repose in him.
If a date has to be fixed for the waning of Mr Narayanan’s star, it has to be the day when the hands-on P. C. Chidambaram took charge of the Union Home Ministry in the wake of the horrendous Pakistani terrorist attack on Mumbai. Wanting to establish a firm grip on internal security, he started holding a daily meeting at which not only the heads of the I.B. and the external intelligence agency better known by its acronym RAW but also the NSA had to be present. The word went round that at times tension at these meetings was palpable.
Apparently, things began to move faster after the parliamentary elections in May last when the Manmohan Singh government Mark II was formed. The Prime Minister asked Mr Narayanan to stay on as NSA but only for a limited period, not for the government’s five-year term. The watershed, some observes believe, was reached when Mr Chidambaram, in his lecture on the centenary of the IB, outlined a comprehensive scheme to revamp and reinvigorate the Home Ministry. He wanted it to deal with every aspect of internal security and shed other responsibilities, ranging from national disaster management to the welfare of freedom fighters, to other ministries and departments. The general reaction then was that the idea behind the Home Minister’s scheme was sound but the same could not be said about all its details. However, Mr B. Raman, a former deputy chief of RAW and now one of the finest security analysts, wrote that Mr Chidambaram’s reorganisation plan, if accepted, would make him “Internal Security Czar”.
It is in this context that there has been widespread and intense speculation about a turf war between the Home Minister and the NSA in which the former has prevailed. Mr Chidambaram has pointed out, however, that he has never even mentioned the NSA. All he wants, he adds, is that every agency having to do anything with the problem of terrorism must report to the National Counter-Terrorism Centre under the Home Ministry. This arrangement would leave the NSA with a large number of other functions. In any case, as he underscores, Mr Chidambaram’s lecture has yet to be converted into a precise proposal to be presented to the Cabinet for approval.
Be that as it may, the main point that is being overlooked is that whoever may be the Home Minister and whoever the NSA the entire national security architecture in this country needs to be restructured and revamped to cope with the great and growing challenges to Indian security, internal and external. It also needs to be recognised that at present internal security has assumed greater importance than ever before. The United States had made sweeping reforms in its security apparatus after 9/11. It had set up a new department of home security without making it excessively powerful, and taken other measures. Yet, the latest incident at Detroit where the US homeland became vulnerable to airborne terrorism shows the even the wholesale American reforms haven’t been enough. Our system, sadly, is chaotic by comparison and needs to be streamlined speedily.
What the government proposes to do is not yet known. But there is a clear and urgent need to appoint a Director of National Intelligence who would relieve the NSA of the responsibility to coordinate the operations of intelligence agencies and report to the Prime Minister through the NSA and to the Home Minister directly. Equally patent is the need to ensure that everyone concerned shares fully all intelligence inputs. The doctrine of sharing them on the basis of “need to know” simply will not do.





Krishna echoes Gates, hints India could attack Pak
Press Trust of India / New Delhi January 21, 2010, 13:13 IST

In the backdrop of the US remarks that India would have limited patience if a Mumbai-type attack recurs, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today said the government will have to be prepared to meet any eventuality.

"Yes, that is a worrying development because having been a victim of an earlier attack, gone through the anguish, the agony, the trauma, I think India certainly will have to be prepared to meet any such eventuality," he said.

Krishna was asked to comment on US Defence Secretary Robert Gates' remarks that terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Toiba were focusing on destabilising India.

"Of course, the defence forces and the Home Ministry are in close touch and coordination with the External Affairs Ministry and it will be our endeavour to maintain peace and tranquillity within India," he said.

Earlier, inaugurating the Delhi Dialogue-II between India and ASEAN, Krishna favoured greater cooperation among developing countries to have an effective voice in international financial architecture and a new global economic order.

He talked about a regional approach on energy matters which can accommodate competing demands and constraints while shifting the focus from competition to cooperation.

Krishna underlined that India was ready to allocate up to $50 million to support several initiatives to strengthen links with the ASEAN member nations.





Navy gets $1.5 bn to boost air fleet, counter China
Reuters
SECURE WATERS: A Sea Harrier takes off from aircraft carrier INS Virat near Goa in September 2005.

New Delhi: The Indian Navy has started a $1.5 billion overhaul of its ageing Soviet-era fleet of aircraft, seeking to boost its air power in an Indian Ocean region where a growing China is threatening its traditional dominance.

The investment is one of the biggest the Indian Navy has made in recent years and reflects New Delhi's urgency to modernise its military, a move that rival Pakistan says could spark an arms build-up and destabilise an already roiled South Asia.

India plans to buy 16 new MIG-29 fighter jets, half a dozen light combat aircraft, unmanned patrol planes and multi-role helicopters. Tenders for these will be floated soon, Indian officials said.

The Indian navy is also upgrading its Sea Harrier fighter jets, IL-38 maritime anti-submarine warfare planes and acquiring five Kamov KA-31 patrol helicopters.

"We are acquiring new fighters and helicopters to...supplement a new aircraft carrier we are getting soon," said Commander P V S Satish, the Navy spokesman, in New Delhi on Thursday.

Analysts said the upgrade of the Navy was long due.

"It is almost a matter of time before ships from China arrive in India's backyard," said Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at New Delhi's Centre for Policy Research.

India and China are locked in a battle to lead Asia. New Delhi fears China is creating an arc of influence in the Indian Ocean region, bolstering claims over what has traditionally been seen as India's backyard.

Indian officials said Pakistan, too, was modernising its navy.

Pakistan's National Command Authority (NCA), which oversees the country's nuclear weapons, said last week India's arms modernisation plans could destabilise the regional balance.





Watching Army chief's action in land scam: Antony
IANS
ON IT: Army chief General Deepak Kapoor has promised justice in the Sukna land scam.

New Delhi: Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday said his Ministry was monitoring the action the Army chief, General Deepak Kapoor, has taken in the Sukna Cantonment land scam in West Bengal.

"You know very well the Army has started some procedure. He has taken some action. We are watching that," Antony told reporters in New Delhi.

Kapoor submitted his action-taken report to the Defence Ministry on January 11.

While Kapoor has suggested the court martial of one of the officers involved, Lt. Gen. P K Rath, he has only sought "an explanation" from another officer and his close aide Lt. Gen. Awadesh Prakash, who is due to retire on Jan 31.

The Army's court of inquiry submitted its report on the scam last December, indicting the two officers for their role in issuing a no-objection certificate to a private company that falsely claimed to be establishing an affiliate of the well-known Ajmer-based Mayo College on a plot adjacent to the Sukna military station in Darjeeling district.

Prakash is one of the eight Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) at Army Headquarters who act as advisers to the army chief. As Military Secretary, he is responsible for the promotions and postings of officers.

Rath was commander of the Sukna-based 33 Corps when the land scam occurred.





Army, MoD lock horns over ban on Singapore Technologies
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi January 22, 2010, 0:10 IST

Firm invites CBI for a comprehensive audit, no official response

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) faces accusations of serious contradictions in the apparently ill-considered ban it had imposed last June on arms vendor Singapore Technologies Kinetic (STK). The ban was slapped on seven companies after the May 19, 2009 arrest of former Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chairman, Sudipta Ghosh, on charges of corruption.

The ban on STK is all but collapsing. Next month, STK’s 155-mm towed gun will take part in firing trials — cleared by the MoD - for selecting a new-generation artillery piece for the Indian Army. STK’s Lightweight Assault Rifle will also begin army trials in February. Inexplicably, though, the ban remains on STK’s 155-mm Pegasus ultralight howitzer, which the army wants urgently for India’s mountain divisions.

The Pegasus trials remain blocked despite efforts of the army chief, General Deepak Kapoor — himself an artilleryman — who requested the MoD for trials to continue alongside the Central Bureau of Investigation’s investigations, to save time (reported in Business Standard on July 18, 2009). Rejecting that request, the MoD approached Washington to allow India to buy the American BAE Systems’ M777 ultralight howitzer.

The army, however, wants the option open on both, not a single-vendor situation in which the US-based company can dictate its price. Despite the MoD ban, the army chief has publicly declared that the STK howitzer remains an option.

On January 14, 2009, General Kapoor told the press, “We have one gun (the Pegasus) waiting for trials and, at the same time, we have approached a foreign country (the US) for purchasing an ultralight howitzer directly. We will follow both routes. The moment one of them is successful, we will go ahead with that purchase.”

But, MoD sources say they are not rethinking the ban on the Pegasus. They say the CBI has solid proof that STK paid money into Ghosh’s bank account in Singapore. Asked why the CBI has failed to file charges against Ghosh, who was freed on bail last July, they have no answers.

Now, STK has also, for the first time, publicly protested the ban. Last week, STK’s CEO, Brigadier-General Patrick Choy, revealed to the press in New Delhi that he had travelled to India last year to assist the CBI in its investigations into Ghosh’s alleged corruption. Choy said he had invited the CBI team to Singapore for a full audit of STK, promising that he would fully open the company’s books to investigators. The CBI has not, so far, responded.

STK first encountered the unpredictability of the Indian defence market when it flew a Pegasus howitzer into India for trials last year, in response to an MoD request. On June 5, 2009, just as the Pegasus reached the Pokhran Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan, a media statement from the MoD spokesperson announced that STK had been banned. To this day, the MoD has not officially intimated STK about any ban.

After remaining stranded by the roadside in Pokhran for several days, the Pegasus was moved to Gwalior, where it remains housed in an army unit.

The Indian Army’s artillery modernisation plan has remained stalled, for various reasons, for over two decades; the ultralight howitzer is only the latest procurement fiasco. The army’s 180 artillery gun regiments — each having 18 guns — have not received any new weaponry since the Bofors gun was bought in the late 1980s.





Indian Army is Procuring Additional Accessories for TAR-21 assault rifles

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.

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.

ASIAN DEFENCE: Indian Army is Procuring Additional Accessories for TAR-21 assault rifles







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