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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

From Today's Papers - 10 Feb 10






Agni's not a threat, India's a friend: China

Press Trust of India, Tuesday February 9, 2010, Beijing

Describing its ties with India as "friendly and cooperative," China on Tuesday said both countries does not pose mutual threat.


Dismissing reports that India's nuclear-capable Agni-III missile, which has a range of 3,500 km posed a threat to China, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said China and India were having friendly and cooperative relations.


"I don't want to interpret or comment on the reports," Ma said when asked to comment on the February seven launch of Agni-III which put China's major cities within its strike range.


"The China-India relation is friendly and cooperative. China will not be a threat to India, and nor will India pose a threat to China," Ma was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu refused to comment on the reports at a regular news briefing, only saying that China-India relations maintain their good momentum.


"Bilateral ties will move forward with the joint effort of both countries," he said.






Avalanche strikes J&K again; 1 killed, 13 rescued

NDTV Correspondent, Tuesday February 9, 2010, Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir


A fresh avalanche hit Kashmir Valley on Tuesday, killing an Army jawan in Kupwara district, a day after 17 Armymen met a similar fate during a winter warfare training exercise.


The avalanche hit Tangdhar, 145 kms from Srinagar, around 0345 hours trapping 14 Army personnel, a defence spokesman said.


All the 14 army personnel were extricated from the deep snow but one of them died later.


A massive avalanche had slammed the popular ski resort of Gulmarg on Monday, killing 17 soldiers and injuring an equal number when the troops were in the midst of a winter warfare training on steep slopes about 70 km from Srinagar.


The avalanche came hurtling down on the 60-strong combat troops as they were scaling the icy walls of high-altitude Khilanmarg peak in near zero visibility.


Snow Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) had issued an avalanche warning on Monday evening and advised people living in high altitude areas not to venture in the area which has been receiving heavy snowfall for the past three days.


"Avalanche warning exists in the high altitude areas for the next 24 hours. People living in the areas are cautioned to avoid movement during snowfall and not to venture out in avalanche prone areas", SASE said.


Areas where high danger avalanche warning exists included Sonamarg, Gagangir, Bhimbat, Drass, Batalic, Dhudi and S M Hills in Kargil district.


It said areas where medium danger of avalanche warning exists included Khilanmarg, Uri, Baaz, Razdan Top, Z-Gali, Keran, Furkian top, Machil, Sadna Top, Urez, Niru, Baruab and Chowkibal in Kupwara and Baramulla districts of North Kashmir.


Areas where low danger avalanche warning exists include both sides of Jawahar Tunnel, the gateway to Kashmir and its adjoining areas on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. (With PTI inputs)






After 40 yrs, Major hopes to get disability pension
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
Almost 40 years after he left the Army on medical grounds, an 80-year-old Major who had fought in three major wars finally glimpsed a ray of hope in getting his disability pension.

Taking up a petition filed by Maj Onkar Singh Phulka, the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal today directed the Army to constitute a special medical board to assess the cause and quantum of his disability.

The petition, filed way back in 1993, had been admitted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and has now been transferred to the Tribunal.

He had been commissioned into the Territorial Army in January 1958 and was embodied with the 112 Infantry Battalion at Jalandhar. Consequent to the Chinese aggression in 1962, he opted for emergency commission and was posted to Nagaland with an infantry brigade.

In 1966, his unit was disbanded and he was deployed with another infantry brigade in NEFA in Arunachal Pradesh, where he developed some medical problems due to high altitude. Contrary to medical advice, he was not posted out.

He was released from the regular Army in 1968 and reverted to the Territorial Army. In the 1971 Indo-Pak war he was deployed in the Fazilka sector and though his problem aggravated, he was not released because the Army maintained he could not be spared because of the ongoing war.

Despite being hospitalised a couple of times in 1971-72, he continued to perform arduous duties. He sought voluntary discharge later that year.

He took up a case with the military authorities for his disability pension on the grounds that his medical problem had developed and aggravated while on active military service. The Army, however, maintained that he was not entitled to disability pension because he had sought discharge voluntarily.

In fact denial of disability of pension to armed forces personnel seeking premature retirement or discharge at their own request has been a sore point for a long time, with many people moving the courts over the issue. Their contention is that disability is not related with the length of service, but is compensation for the injury or loss they have suffered while in service. Even the Supreme Court has upheld the right of voluntary retirees to receive disability pension.






It seemed mountain of snow fell on Army men
Tejinder Singh Sodhi
Tribune News Service

Gulmarg, February 9
It was a harrowing experience for soldiers, who were buried under tonnes of snow while undergoing training at High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) in Khilanmarg, near the LoC, 8 km from this famous hill resort, and were rescued. Seventeen soldiers were killed and 17 others were critically injured.

Soldiers who survived the tragedy recount that the avalanche struck Army personnel undergoing training at HAWS and they were buried under massive snow. “It happened all of a sudden. No one got time to react or think,” said a soldier who rescued trapped soldiers.

“We knew even little delay would result in more causalities. So we rushed to the spot without wasting time,” said a senior Army officer.

The injured soldiers, who are undergoing treatment at various Army units, said it was a harrowing experience as they were buried under tonnes of snow and were unable to breathe. However, timely action by their colleagues saved their lives.

“It looked as if an entire mountain of snow had fallen on the training camp,” said Maqbool Ahmed, an officer with the Tourism Department.

The rescue team had to carry the frozen bodies of soldiers on sledges. Even as no soldier was left buried under avalanche, the entire area was still under huge snow and heavy snowfall was still going on.

“Due to the continuous snowfall and slippery conditions, we could not carry the bodies on shoulders. The frozen bodies had to be ferried on sledges,” a tourism officer said.

HAWS is one of the country’s premier warfare school. Established in 1948 as the 19 Infantry Division Ski School, it has over the years become Army’s nodal centre for ‘specialised training and dissemination of doctrines’ in high altitude, mountain and snow warfare. “HAWS conducts snow craft and winter warfare training. The school also played an important role in the Kargil War,” said a senior Army officer.

He added that other countries also send their troops for specialised training here. Recently, US special forces teams had come here to learn from Indian Army’s experiences of the Kargil War before their deployment in Afghanistan. Russian troops were also trained at this school for operations in Chechnya.

Before their deployment in forward areas, soldiers selected from different units of the Army are given specialised training here.







Sensor to keep tab on neighbours’ exercises
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 9
India is gearing up to monitor radio communication across its borders on a daily basis with the help of a state-of-the-art eavesdropping apparatus developed by the Hyderabad-based Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL).

A senior Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official said the DLRL was installing Network Centric Sensor, a devise to intercept radio communication with deep penetration capabilities on the Indian frontiers.

“Fifty per cent of the installation work has been already done. The remaining is expected to be accomplished by December this year”, the official said.

The devise, which had been named “Divya Dristi”, was primarily aimed at picking up radio communication between aircraft and the ground control.

“This way we can keep a tab on the exercises carried out by the air forces across the border”, the official said. Network Centric Sensor (NCS) would be also able to pick up “audio signatures” of the aircraft flying across the borders and detect its exact nature.







Major Singla gets bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) today granted bail to Maj Dimple Singla, who had been arrested by military authorities for allegedly evading appearance before a general court martial (GCM) trying her on corruption charge.

The Chandigarh Bench of the tribunal, comprising Justice G Prashad and Lieut-Gen HS Panag (retd), ordered the petitioner to furnish a bail bond of Rs 25,000, along with two sureties, one of whom should be a serving or retired military officer.

The Bench also directed the petitioner to surrender her passport, if any, before the GCM and appear before it on all dates of hearings.






General Fonseca’s arrest
A witch-hunt could disturb the delicate peace

The arrest on Monday night of Sri Lanka’s defeated opposition presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka had been widely anticipated for some time. Having contested the presidential election against incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa, Fonseca’s name was anathema to the mercurial President. After the bitterly-fought election, Fonseca, who lost by an 18-point margin, had been blaming President Rajapaksa for rigging the election while the government in turn had accused the General of plotting to overthrow and assassinate Rajapaksa before he laid down office as army chief in November last.

Since General Fonseca will now be tried by court-martial and the proceedings would be closed to the public, doubts would understandably surface about the fairness of the trial. Under Emergency law no warrant was required to take Fonseca into custody and no specific reason was given for his arrest, so misgivings about the President settling personal scores with him may well divide the majority Sinhalese along the middle. This bodes ill for a country that is only just recovering from 26 years of ethnic strife which ended after the defeat of the secessionist Tamil Tigers. General Fonseca is no ordinary man. The people had widely hailed him as the hero of the victory over the LTTE. The lack of transparency in his trial could well give a fillip to rumours of all kinds. President Rajapaksa cannot ignore the fact that despite the opposition being poorly organised, the General had managed to garner nearly 40 per cent of the total votes in the recent presidential elections.

If indeed General Fonseca had conspired to assassinate the President as is being claimed, the law must take its course. But the General must not be subjected to a witch-hunt. It is vital for Sri Lanka’s democracy that justice be done and also seem to be done. The country needs peace and reconciliation to be able to return to an era of social harmony and rapid growth. In working towards that all stake-holders must do their bit.






Sino-Indian space race
Does India really need ASAT capability now?
by Bharath Gopalaswamy and Harsh V. Pant

Taking a serious note of China's growing defence capabilities, particularly its anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon system, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik has sought the development of India's own missile system that can destroy enemy satellites.

“Our satellites are vulnerable to ASAT weapon systems because our neighbourhood possesses one,” Naik said while delivering the Air Chief Marshal LM Katre memorial lecture.

He underlined the need for India to develop ASAT technology and referred to it as “one of our challenges of future war capability.”

Indian communication, weather and remote-sensing satellites are clearly more vulnerable today than they have ever been in the past and their vulnerability has enormous implications for a whole range of areas affecting the day-to-day life of ordinary Indians.

Over the past 20 years, the use of outer space has changed dramatically. From the dawn of the space age to the Cold War era, Russia and the United States were the world's only space powers. Today, more than 41 countries own or operate satellites, about a dozen of them can launch satellites on their own and many more are aspiring for that capability.

At the same time, more and more states are using space for military purposes from communications to mapping to intelligence gathering as well as weapons targeting. Going a step further, it should also be pointed out that even the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008 were orchestrated using space technologies.

To put this in perspective, it is worthwhile to look at the economic dimensions of satellites. In 2007, the space industry revenue was estimated to at $ 123 billion, and the revenue from the GPS equipments alone was calculated to be at $ 56 billion. The number of US jobs supported by the space industry was around 729,000 while the U.S. satellite radio subscribers were approximately 13.65 million.

Going by these sheer numbers, it is no wonder that space occupies a significant part of our lives. In light of this background, it is not surprising that significant developments have occurred in the recent past: firstly, the Chinese ABM test recently, secondly, the Chinese ASAT test in 2007, thirdly the USA-193 tests in 2008 and finally the Indian shift in policy to seek ASAT capabilities.

Last month, China announced that it had conducted a missile defence test that consisted of a ground-based midcourse missile interception technology within its territory. China added that the test has achieved the expected objective and went on to clarify that the test was defensive in nature, not targeted at any country.

It is interesting to note that China is migrating its anti-satellite research into the missile defence arena, India is doing the opposite. In both cases, however, technology is fundamentally the same: the development of kinetic energy interceptors – so called “hit-to-kill” technologies that use a bullet to hit a bullet.

As far back as January 2007, China had successfully tested a direct-ascent hit-to-kill interceptor against one of its old weather satellites. That test appears to have increased the amount of debris (size greater than 1 centimeter) in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) by 15 to 20 per cent, becoming the worst debris-producing event on record. The satellite was orbiting at about 850 kilometres, so the resulting debris is concentrated in a region of space that's heavily used by satellites and already crowded with debris.

How did this test change the risk to satellites? Before the Chinese test, the chance that any given satellite near the altitude of the FY-1C would be hit by debris larger than 1 centimeter – large enough to cause severe damage – was approaching 1 per cent over the satellite's lifetime, generally 5 to 10 years. Since debris from the Chinese test is concentrated near this altitude band, the threat will nearly double for the next 5 to 10 years.

A year later, the U.S military destroyed a defunct and out-of-control spy satellite USA 193 with a specially designed SM-3 ballistic missile with pin-point accuracy. The US described this event as an effort to get rid of the huge amount of toxic hydrazine fuel of the satellite from contaminating the earth causing unexpected health hazard to the humans.

However, it would be really naïve to not acknowledge both the feat that the U.S. military was able to accomplish and the political impact of the test, which was more than the technological achievement. The U.S had tested a similar ASAT weapon in 1985 against a satellite in an even higher orbit by firing an interceptor from an F-15 fighter aircraft.

With this strike, the U.S. once again demonstrated its technical ability to field anti-satellite weapons. The Pentagon had denied that the test had anything to do with ASAT weapons primarily because the altitude of interception was too low for any orbiting satellite. The SM-3 interceptor, which is part of the AEGIS missile defence system, has been used for the first time to shoot down a satellite.

This intercept was made by engaging the target, which was moving at 17,000 miles per hour. It proved that the U.S. have become very good at hitting objects at extremely high velocities when it matters the most and that too with extreme pin-point accuracy.

Both these tests demonstrated that the hit-to-kill technology was a threat to LEO satellites. Currently, India has 12 satellites in LEO out of which, RISAT-1 is probably an attractive target. RISAT-1 is an experimental satellite, which has the capability to operate in all weather conditions. Internationally, RISAT-1 is believed to be dedicated for military applications.

On the other hand, China has 31 satellites in the LEO orbit, out of which 12 of them are dedicated for military purposes. A space war (mutual shooting down of satellites) between China and India will be devastating. India's lack of redundancy in satellite capabilities will compromise its capability to retaliate. The effects in terms of debris will pose enormous risk to not only Indian and Chinese satellites but also to all the other satellites that exist in the orbit.

In the light of these issues, important policy questions arise for the Indian defence establishment: why focus on developing an ASAT technology for a war that India can't win in the near future and everybody loses? The debris issue, which has received far less attention than it warrants, needs to be better understood. Threats to Indian space assets are clearly growing especially in the light of China making moves in that direction.

In the short to medium term India's scarce resources would be better served by focussing on reducing the disparity with China in space. While shielding on satellites can help protect against small particles, most satellites do not carry such shielding.n

Bharath Gopalaswamy is with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Sweden, and Harsh Pant teaches at King's College, London.








Top generals to be charged in Sukhna land scam


BIG TAINT: Some officers are accused of granting of a NOC to a private realtor at Sukhna base.


Kolkata: Indian Army will begin trials in the Sukhna land scam case against Lt Gen PK Rath and Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash in Kolkata.


Lt Gen P Goel will be the presiding officer for the proceedings. The Army is going ahead with the proceedings even as a case is going on at the Armed Forces Tribunal where Lt Gen Prakash is seeking a stay.


The tribunal has reserved its verdict in the land scam case.


Sources in Army Headquarters say the trials cannot be treated as contempt since the tribunal did not ask for stay of disciplinary proceedings.


Army's Eastern Command in Kolkata will carry out disciplinary proceedings which start on Wednesday and will begin with "hearing of the charge" - that is the charge will be read out to accused officers.


Lt Gen Prakash was the military secretary and responsible for the promotions and postings of army officers. He is among the army's most senior officers to face court martial on charges of corruption.


Lt Gen Prakash was found guilty by a court of inquiry of using his position to influence the granting of a no-objection certificate by Lt Gen Rath - who was commander of 33 Corps in Sukhna - to a private realtor.







Avalanche alerts, but Army got no ‘specific warning’

Mir Ehsan Posted online: Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 0056 hrs

Srinagar : The Monday tragedy that left 17 soldiers dead and 18 critically wounded at Khilanmarg, about 5 km from Gulmarg, could have been averted had the Army and officials at the Army’s High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) taken the warnings of its Snow Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) unit seriously.


Besides SASE, the state Disaster Management Cell had also issued warnings to civilians and Army personnel deployed in high-altitude regions of the Valley about the avalanches and snow storms.


A fresh avalanche, meanwhile, hit Kashmir Valley on Tuesday, killing an Army jawan in Kupwara district. The avalanche hit Tangdhar, 14 km from here, around 3.45 am trapping 14 Army personnel, the defence spokesman said. All but one personnel were extricated from the deep snow.


The Army has a full-fledged unit of the SASE in Kashmir with 40 observatories in various locations. The SASE regularly issues warnings and alerts to Army formations and units deployed in high-altitude areas and along the Line of Control.


“We have been issuing regular warnings to the troops based in high-altitude areas for the last seven days and it was up to the officials to judge the gravity of the warnings,” said a senior SASE official on the condition of anonymity. “Our accuracy rate is over 60 per cent,” he added.


The warnings were issued as early as Sunday and Gulmarg was specially mentioned as an avalanche-prone zone. However, officials at the HAWS did not pay heed to these warnings and a batch of around 300 to 400 Army personnel left for the Khilanmarg camp on Monday despite the region experiencing heavy snowfall.


Defence spokesperson Lt Col J S Brar confirmed that the SASE had issued warnings. He, however, said it was a routine exercise and no specific warning was issued to the Army. “The SASE issues warning for high-altitude areas. The place where 17 soldiers died was not an avalanche-prone area.”







Army chief releases joint operational doctrines

Tuesday, February 9, 2010,16:08 [IST]

New Delhi, Feb 9(ANI): In a major step towards enhancing joint fighting capabilities, Indian Armed Forces on Tuesday promulgated three joint operational doctrines.


The doctrines, namely Joint Doctrine for Sub Conventional Operations, Joint Doctrine for Electronic Warfare and Joint doctrine for Maritime Air Operations, were released by Chief of the Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor, who is also the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee.



The joint doctrines collectively aver that it may be more appropriate to call the battlefield of future as battle space, since wars would be fought not only in air, on land and sea but also in cyberspace, on electronic fronts, along information highways and media fronts.


Success in such a battle space depends on joint teamwork by maritime, ground and air forces operating effectively, individually and together in support of shared military bjectives.


Considering the prevailing security environment in the country and its neighbourhood, it is mandatory to ensure that thrust of all agencies involved in combating terrorism is focussed towards the common enemy and the synergised endeavour produces best results.


Taking the lead from the operational imperatives, these doctrines would fundamentally shape the way Armed Forces plan, think and train for military operations Indian Armed Forces are one of the few militaries in the world which have joint operational Doctrines for optimising their capabilities.


The doctrines have been formulated by the Doctrine Directorate of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff to create the requisite synergy between the three services, thereby contributing to their overall operational efficiency. (ANI)


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