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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 31 Mar 2010






Army can’t do without ‘sahayaks’
by Col Pritam Bhullar (retd)  THE Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence asked the Army the other day to abolish the “colonial” practice of employing jawans as “sahayaks” of officers as it felt that this system was “demeaning and humiliating”.  In reply to the committee’s suggestion, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has said that a sahayak is “a comrade- in-arms” to an officer. The Army has reacted to this suggestion by issuing instructions to its units to ensure that combatant soldiers are not employed on jobs that are not in conformity with the dignity and self-respect of a soldier.  Employing “sahayaks” is not a “colonial” practice as all armies in the world have combatant soldiers as batmen integral to the organisations of their units. Sahayak is a Hindi version of batman.  The MOD has rightly said that a sahayak (batman) is a comrade-in-arms to an officer. His duties are to ensure that an officer’s dresses are kept ready and laid out for all appropriate occasions, for instance, P.T. dress, uniform, mess dress, etc.  In war, he carries the radio set of the officer/JCO he is employed with apart from being with him in the thick and thin of war.  In other worlds, he is a buddy of the officer/JCO he is working with. This relationship is life-long and does not end with the retirement of the officer and his sahayak.  During his visit to India in February 1968, Lieut-Gen Sir Reginald Savory recorded about his relationship with his old batman thus: “I joined the 14th Sikh 54 years ago in 1914 when I was just 20 years old. Only this morning (February 8) Lance Naik Bhola Singh of the 14th Sikh, who had been wounded in Gallipoli in 1915, took the trouble to come all the way from his home to call upon me; and after 52 years we saw each other again. Now he is ‘chitti dahri walla’ and I am old and bald; but although we both have grown so much older, yet our affection for each other and our mutual pride in our Regiment stays as young as ever. Long may this continue.”  While asking the Army to shed the batman system, the Parliamentary Committee seems to have totally forgotten that the Army is meant to fight a war; therefore, all its establishments are designed to cater to war-like situations.  Most of the time the units are in field areas where they cannot employ civilian manpower for security reasons.  There is no doubt that some officers employ sahayaks on jobs which are below the dignity of a soldier. Rather than discarding the sahayak system for this reason, such officers should be taken to task to stop this unethical practice.  There is no system or rule that is not being misused or abused in this country today. If we start discarding/abolishing systems or rules for this reason, then no system will remain intact.  Incidentally, the sahayak system is not only prevalent in the Army but is also in vogue in the paramilitary and police forces. In most police forces its misuse is well-known to the public. A lot of manpower of the police is used even by retired officers in the name of security.  In the days of yore, one could not even think of using a batman on a duty, which was below the dignity of a soldier, leave alone doing so. But then what one should not forget is that in those days, the officers, by and large, came from a different background.  Why talk of this, see the number of corruption cases among the senior officers today. We never heard of a senior officer being involved in a disciplinary case in the olden days. But today when all other organisations in the country have deteriorated in standards, how could the Army having the same countrymen remain unaffected?  There should be no question of abolishing the sahayak system as it is integral to the Army and its necessity remains beyond any doubt. The senior officers, however, must ensure that neither do they misuse sahayaks nor they allow their subordinates to do so.  What all officers need to remember is that besides professional competence, the only other secret to command men with dignity and respect is to hold them in high esteem.







IAF chief heads Chief of Staffs Committee
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, March 30 Chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshall PV Naik today took over as Chairman, Chief of Staffs Committee (COSC) of the Indian armed forces. He took over from General Deepak Kapoor, who retires tomorrow ending his six-month tenure as COSC.  Air Chief Marshall Naik will be the 11th COSC of the forces in less than 10 years since the system was started in October 2000. Lack continuity of the system was evident today when Naik made it clear while answering questions from the media “ ….it will take me a month to understand. Give me some time”. He will be in saddle till his retirement in July next.  The COSC is appointed as per seniority among the three serving chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the IAF. Senior officers have often questioned the logic of posting officers for such short tenures as they would not be able to make any worthwhile impact on national policy making.  The most striking case was of Gen NC Vig who was COSC only for a month in January 2005. Air Vice Marshall S. Krishnaswami had a tenure of five months starting August 2004 while General JJ Singh was the COSC for only six months starting April 2007. Not all service chiefs go on to become COSC. The last IAF chief Air Chief Marshall Fali Homi Major never got a chance and the new Army Chief General VK Singh is also not slated to be the COSC.  In contrast, senior officials among the civil services like the Cabinet secretary, Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary have a fixed tenure of two years.  In the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil conflict, the government took the step to appoint a COSC. Actually the Kargil Review Committee and the subsequent Group of Ministers report in 2001 on reforming the national security system had stressed the need for a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) - who will be senior to the chiefs -- to provide single-point military advice to the government and manage the country's nuclear arsenal.  Naik today pointed out that there were several models of the CDS operating in different countries and said, "we don't know which model suits us the best. Once we decide that, I am sure the CDS will come in."  Another former COSC, Admiral Sureesh Mehta had recommended during his tenure that all service chiefs should be brought into the nuclear command authority. At present, only the COSC is in the authority and with such short tenures, he barely gets time to understand the structure. The outgoing COSC General Deepak Kapoor today said “It was for the government to take a decision (on including all chiefs)”.







US has excellent military relationship with India: Pantagon
March 31, 2010 02:48 IST Tags: India, Commander US Pacific Command, Robert F Willard, Geoff Morrell, AOR Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment  The United States has an excellent military to military relationship with India [ Images ], the Pentagon [ Images ] said on Tuesday.  "We have very strong military-to-military relations with the Indian government, with the Indian military; have had them for some time," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said at a news briefing.  Morrell said Defence Secretary Robert Gates recently visited India when he reaffirmed the Obama [ Images ] administration's commitment to have strong working relationship with the Indian military.  "The secretary just visited India recently and reaffirmed our strong working relationship with Indian military, exploring new ways in which we can partner and exercise and do disaster-relief work, and sell weapons and other military hardware to the Indians," Morrell said.  At a Congressional hearing recently, Admiral Robert F Willard, Commander US Pacific Command had argued that the US must continue to strengthen its relationship with India.  "We must ensure the US-India relationship remains rooted in our extensive common interests of which the Afghanistan-Pakistan issue is only one," he said.  "I think that the India-US relationship right now is stronger than I've ever enjoyed. As you know, because of our history, we've only been truly engaging with India mil-to-mil for about the last half a dozen years; and yet it's been pretty profound how far that's come," Willard said in response to a question at the Congressional hearing.  He said America's relationship with India has grown significantly over the past five years as both countries work to overcome apprehensions formed during Cold War era, particularly with respect to defence cooperation.  Noting that resolution of the long-standing End User Monitoring issue removed a major obstacle to a more robust and sophisticated defense sales programme, Willard said that to date India has purchased Lockheed Martin C-130Js and Boeing P-8I aircraft; expressed their interest to acquire C-17s; and conducted flight tests of F-16s and F/A-18s (under consideration in the medium multi-mission role combat aircraft competition).  The recent increase in defense sales, which exceeded $ 2 billion in 2009, not only enhances US access to one of the largest defense markets in the world, but more importantly enables greater cooperation between our armed forces, he said.  "As our relationship develops, US Pacific Command remains mindful of the significance of India-Pakistan tensions, particularly as they relate to the broader security discussion and the management of geo-political challenges that span Combatant Commands (Pakistan resides within Central Commands AOR and India resides in the Pacific AOR)."  "We are keenly aware of the importance of a peaceful co-existence between these two nuclear-armed nations and stand ready to assist with this goal in conjunction with interagency partners," he said.







India's Light Combat copter makes first flight
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi March 31, 2010, 0:55 IST  As the helicopter taxied slowly along the airstrip, a little knot of designers and executives from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) watched silently, the sweat beads on their foreheads from more than just the Bangalore heat. March 29 had been selected for a landmark attempt: The first flight of the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Already a year late, and facing criticism for having gone several hundred kilograms overweight, the LCH had much to prove.  Attack helicopters involve the most complex aeronautical, stealth, sensor and weapons technologies. HAL’s state-of-the-art LCH aims to gatecrash an exclusive club of light attack helicopters that includes Eurocopter’s Tiger and China’s ultra-secret Zhisheng-10 (Z-10). In high-altitude performance, the LCH will be in a class by itself: Taking off from Himalayan altitudes of 10,000 feet, operating rockets and guns up to 16,300 feet, and launching missiles at UAVs flying at over 21,000 feet.  At 3.30 pm, the twin Shakti engines roared to a crescendo and the LCH pilots, Group Captains Unni Pillai and Hari Nair, lifted off the ground. The futuristic helicopter, all angles and armoured sheets, flew for a distance just a few feet above the runway; then cheering and clapping broke out as it climbed to 50 feet. Over the next 15 minutes, Pillai and Nair put the LCH through its first flight test, doing a clockwise and then an anti-clockwise turn, hovering motionless and circling the airport four times.  “It is a big day for all of us, especially those involved in the LCH’s design and fabrication,” Ashok Nayak, chairman and managing director of HAL, told Business Standard. “We were going to have the first LCH flight in December but, for one reason or another, it kept getting delayed.”  A feared predator in the modern battlefield, the attack helicopter is a key weapon system against enemy tanks. Once an enemy tank column is detected, attack helicopters speed to confront them, flying just 20-30 feet high to avoid radar detection with enemy rifle and machine-gun bullets ricocheting off their armoured sides. Hiding behind trees or a ridgeline, they pop up when the tanks are about 4 kilometres away to fire missiles that smash through a tank’s armour.  Excess weight has been the main reason for the delay in the LCH programme. The heavy armour needed for protection against enemy fire conflicts with the need for a light, highly mobile helicopter that can twist and dodge and hover stationary to allow pilots to aim and fire their missiles. The LCH was supposed to weight just 2.5 tonnes when empty; but the design team found that it actually weighed 580 kg more than that.  At lower altitudes, this would not be a significant drawback. But, at the LCH’s flight ceiling of 6,000 metres (almost 20,000 feet), this would significantly reduce the LCH’s payload of weapons and ammunition.  Last September, the chief of HAL’s Helicopter Complex, R Srinivasan, told Business Standard that the LCH’s weight would be progressively reduced over the first three Technology Demonstrators (TDs) of the LCH. “We will find ways of cutting down TD-1 by 180-200 kg; TD-2, will be another 100 kg lighter; and TD-3 will shave off another 65-75 kg. That would leave the LCH about 200 kg heavier than originally planned, but the IAF has accepted that.”  HAL chief Ashok Nayak today confirmed to Business Standard that this schedule was on track. “The weight reduction that we had targeted for TD-1, which flew on Monday, has been met. The second prototype, TD-1, which will make its first flight by September, will be lighter still.”  The Indian Air Force (IAF) has said that it needs 65 LCHs; the army wants another 114. If the development programme is not delayed further, the LCH will enter service by 2015-2016. To meet its needs till then, the Ministry of Defence floated a global tender for 22 attack helicopters. With only three companies responding, that tender was cancelled last year.  But HAL remains confident since most of the key technologies in the LCH — e.g., the Shakti engine, the rotors and the main gearbox — have already been proven in the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter, 159 of which are being built for the army and the air force.  Simultaneously, the LCH’s weapons and sensors are being tested on a weaponised version of the Dhruv. These include a Nexter 20 mm turret-mounted cannon, an MBDA air-to-air missile, and an EW suite from SAAB, South Africa. India’s Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) is developing an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) for the LCH. Based on the already developed Nag ATGM, the HELINA (or HELIicopter-mounted NAg) missile can destroy tanks from a distance of seven kilometres.








Modernisation is main challenge for new army chief
2010-03-30 18:00:00  Lieutenant General V.K. Singh, who assumes office Wednesday as the new Indian Army chief, has many strategic and operational challenges ahead, including the long-delayed artillery modernisation programme that has significantly handicapped the forces' firepower capabilities.  With the ghost of the Bofors payoff scandal of the 1980s still looming over weapon purchases, the army is now left with just about half of the 410 Bofors guns it had purchased in 1986, with normal wear and tear and cannibalisation accounting for the remaining howitzers.  After a decade-and-a-half, a $647 million deal is imminent for 145 M777 155mm ultralight-weight howitzers with Laser Inertial Artillery Pointing Systems (LINAPS) manufactured by BAE Systems but a decision has still to be taken on some 300 towed and self-propelled guns of the same calibre.  And therein lies the rub.  The defence ministry has given the go-ahead for field trials of the towed guns but with a caveat: Singapore Technologies Kinetics, the sole contender, has first to be cleared by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) of corruption charges. The company, however, stoutly denies it is charged with corruption and says it is more than willing to open its books to the CBI or anyone else to prove this.  Then, the Indian Army has to take a call on just how many of the indigenous Arjun main battle tanks (MBTs) it wishes to purchase. As of now the army has ordered 124 and various officers have been quoted as saying it would stop at that.  The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that developed the Arjun has protested and wants the army to buy more to make its decades-old labours worthwhile.  This apart, the army has to achieve closure on ongoing projects like arming the homegrown Dhruv advanced light helicopters, replacing its Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, purchasing intermediate-range helicopters and short- and medium-range air defense systems, as also improving the ability of soldiers to fight at night with night-vision sights and thermal imaging systems for tanks.  Thus, Singh has his hands more than full.  A third generation army officer, Singh was commissioned into the Rajput Regiment on June 14, 1970 and during his career spanning nearly 40 years has served in a variety of command, staff and instructional appointments.  He participated in the 1971 war with Pakistan and in the operations of the Indian Peace-Keeping Force in Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s.  An honours graduate of the US Army Infantry School at Georgia in the US, Singh is an alumnus the Wellington-based Defence Services Staff College, the Mhow-based Army War College and the US Army War College, Carlisle.  He is a recipient of the Param Vishist Seva Medal, the Ati Vishist Seva Medal and Yudh Seva Medal. He is also one of the honorary ADCs of the president of India, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces.  'Apart from being an outstanding soldier and a stern disciplinarian, what singles him out is his mania for fitness. He has a penchant for workouts and is regularly seen in the gym,' an officer who has observed Singh, 59, closely during his just-concluded stint as head of the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command, said.  'He still takes part in a lot of outdoor games and used to regularly turn out for army-level football tournaments as the Eastern Command chief,' the officer added.  However, there will be much more than fitness on Singh's mind as he takes over from General Deepak Kapoor Wednesday afternoon to begin his two-year stint as army chief in the rank of a four-star general.








Indian Air Force to Deploy New Cruise Missile    
2010-03-30 12:07:11     Xinhua      Web Editor: Qin Mei          The Indian Air Force (IAF) will deploy the new BrahMos air-to-ground supersonic cruise missile in the coming years, local media reported on Tuesday.  The Indian government has signed an acquisition contract with the cruise missile maker BrahMos Aerospace last week, and the air- to-ground cruise missile will be formally inducted into the IAF in the next few years, the Indian Express quoted a top defense source as saying.  The most advanced fighter Su-30 of the IAF will have the long- distance land precise striking capacity as one squadron of the fighters will be equipped with the BrahMos missiles with a range of nearly 290 kilometers, said the source.  In the BrahMos family, there are three members of land-based, ship-based and air-based missiles. Ship-launched version is in service with the Indian Navy, and land-launched version was inducted into the Army in June 2007, while air-launched BrahMos is being developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture by India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and a Russian company.  An IAF official said they have several types of advanced air-to- air missiles and the Prithvi air-to-land attack missile, but lacking the sophisticated long-range land cruise missiles.  This is the first time for the IAF to deploy the BrahMos cruise missile. The air-based version of BrahMos has a launching weight of 2.5 tons, including a 300 kg warhead, which could gain a speed of Mach 2.8 and attack the ground target as low as 10 meters in altitude to avoid the detection of the hostile radars, resulting in a surprise attack.  However, hanging a cruise missile beside the fuselage will affect Su-30's maneuverability in air-to-air combat, escaping the hostile anti-aircraft missiles attack.  In the next few years, all the three services will have their own versions of the BrahMos cruise missiles, which will become the important long-distance striking means of the Indian Armed Forces, according to the defense source.






Military aid to Pak a concern, India tells US 
Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik on Tuesday flagged concerns over surging American arms sales to Pakistan.  Shortly after taking over as Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, from outgoing army chief General Deepak Kapoor, Naik said, “The aid being given to Pakistan is definitely a matter of concern for us and we have made it known.”  From fighter jets, howitzers, smart bombs to missiles, the flood of sophisticated military hardware pouring into Pakistan has sparked worries that Islamabad is shoring up conventional capabilities against India in the guise of fighting terrorism.  Troubled by Pentagon’s stepped up military aid, Defence Minister A K Antony had earlier asked Washington to ensure that Pakistan was using military aid only to fight Al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists.  Antony’s comments in early March followed Pentagon’s decision to transfer 18 F-16 fighter planes, a dozen US-made surveillance drones and laser-guided bomb kits capable of converting traditional munitions into smart bombs.  The US has almost doubled its counterinsurgency assistance fund to Pakistan to $1.2 billion for 2011.  Asked if Pentagon’s sales could derail the chances of US firms competing for the air force’s $10.2 billion (Rs 45,900 crore) tender for 126 fighter planes, he said, “The fighter deal will be a fair and square assessment. We’ll wrap up the trials by April-end. There’s no connection between the two...”  Naik reignited the debate to appoint a chief of defence staff (CDS) a single-point military advisor to the government. “I believe there should be a CDS. As to what model we should adopt needs to be studied.”



Tuesday, 30 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 30 Mar 2010







MoD report slams Pak, cautious on China
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  Defence annual report      * Expresses concern at the worsening situation in Pakistan     * Says it was “conscious of China’s rapid military modernisation in Tibet     * Underlines India’s move to equip the Indian Army with the BrahMos missile  New Delhi, March 29 Indian Defence Ministry today expressed concern at the worsening situation in Pakistan, calling terrorism a “threat to Pakistan and to the region”. India has exercised exemplary restraint in the face of the gravest provocation, said the ministry as it released the excerpts of its Annual report for the year 2009-10 here this evening.  On the other hand, the ministry treaded the middle path on China saying, it was “conscious and alert” of China’s rapid military modernisation in the Tibet region bordering India. “Necessary steps” have been taken to upgrade infrastructure and force levels …along the northern borders.  Separately, the report underlined India’s move to equip two regiments of the Indian Army with the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos and also the setting up of an Integrated Space Cell (ISC) to act as the nodal point for all space-related activities of the three Services. The DRDO will shortly conduct the 4th flight test of the long range Agni - III missile, capable of carrying a 1500 kg war head, informed the ministry.  Slamming Pakistan, it said India was concerned with the worsening security situation inside Pakistan as it is with the continuing infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir. The incidents of terrorism within Pakistan targeting the security establishment and senior military personnel underlined the serious threat to Pakistan itself and to the region. Continued infiltrations and presence of terrorist camps across the border, demonstrate the continuing ambivalence of Pakistan in its actions against terrorists.  Infiltration attempts continued in the year. As many as 33 infiltration bids were foiled. “Pakistan needs to take effective steps to address India’s concern on terrorism,” it said while adding that dialogue with Pakistan was possible only in an environment free of terror or threat of terror.  On China, the regular mechanism for exchanges in the military sphere has been established through the ongoing confidence-building measures between the armed forces of both countries and other military interactions.






No major troop withdrawal, only relocation in J&K: Army
Press Trust of India, Monday March 29, 2010, Jammu  Contradicting the government's announcement that 35,000 troops were sent out of the border state, the Army on Monday said personnel were only relocated as per security demands and that there was no major pullout.  "There is no major troop pullout or withdrawal in the state. There have been redeployments and relocations of troops as per the security assessment from time to time," Brigadier General Staff (BGS), 16 Corps, Brig Gurdeep Singh told reporters in reply to a question about troop withdrawal.  Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had told the Assembly last week that 35,000 troops were withdrawn, their camps closed and they were sent out of the state after NC-Congress coalition came to power.  Brig Singh said, "Troop relocation and redeployment is a continuous process and it is being undertaken from time to time. Troops are deployed as per security needs."       About the proposed surrender policy, he said "the Army is prepared to take up anything. The government is in the process of formulating such a policy.  "We had read about this (surrender policy). The government while formulating this policy would automatically take into consideration the safeguards".  Brig Singh said the army would ensure measures like screening to prevent inflow of anti-national elements. "There is no threat due to this policy to the Army".    http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/no-major-troop-withdrawal-only-relocation-in-jk-army-18687.php





'India alert about China's military modernisation'
March 29, 2010 21:17 IST
India [ Images ] on Monday said it was 'conscious and alert' about China's military modernisation and infrastructure development in Tibet [ Images ] and adjoining areas and noted that it had taken 'necessary steps' to restructure its force levels along the border.  "India remains conscious and alert about the implications of China's military modernisation. Rapid infrastructure development in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Xinjiang province has considerably upgraded China's military force projection capability and strategic operational flexibility," it said in the defence ministry's annual report for 2009-10.  "Necessary steps have been initiated for the upgrading of our infrastructure and force structuring along the northern borders," the report, which was released in New Delhi [ Images ], added.  Noting that Sino-Indian relations had progressed well last year with convergence of views and actions in global fora, the defence ministry said a regular mechanism for exchanges in the military sphere too were established through ongoing confidence building measures.  "The relations with China have generally progressed well in the last year based on their strategic and cooperative partnership. There has been a convergence of views and actions on various issues of international fora," it said.  "A regular mechanism for exchanges in the military sphere has been established through the ongoing confidence building measures between the armed forces of both countries and other military interactions," it added.  Expressing concerns over worsening security situation inside Pakistan and the increasing infiltration by militants trained in the neighbouring country into Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ], the report said the rising tide of extremism within Pakistan had posed a serious threat, not only to itself, but to the entire region.  "The increasing incidents of terrorism within Pakistan targeting, inter alia, the security establishment and senior military personnel, and the rising tide of extremism underlined the serious threat to Pakistan itself and to the region," the report said.  It noted with satisfaction the 'progress' made by Pakistan in tackling 'jihadi' insurgency in Swat and the adjacent districts and also in South Waziristan.  "The continued infiltrations across the LoC and the existence of terrorist camps across the Indo-Pak border, however, demonstrate the continuing ambivalence of Pakistan in its actions against terrorist organisations," it said.  Pointing out that India had 'exercised exemplary restraint in the face of gravest provocation,' the report asked the neighbouring control to take effective steps to address concerns on terrorism directed against it from the territory under Pakistan control.  "India has never shut the door for dialogue with Pakistan, and is of the view that meaningful dialogue with it is possible only in an environment free of terror or threat of terror. This calls for Pakistan to take effective measures to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil which is directed against India," the report said.  Focusing on Afghanistan, the report observed that 'the security and stability of Afghanistan is critical to India's own security concerns,' even as it took note of the deployment of additional 30,000 US troops in the Af-Pak region by May this year and President Barack Obama's [ Images ] July 2011 time frame for troop withdrawal from that country.  On the other hand, the report praised Bangladesh. "Relations with Bangladesh have been strengthened since the restoration of multi-party democracy in that country. India is appreciative of the increasing cooperation with Bangladesh in security matters, especially vis-a-vis Indian insurgent groups operating from its territory," it said.  On Myanmar, the report said cooperation with the eastern neighbour in security matters was being enhanced, while India continued developmental activities in the country which lies at the tri-junction of South and South-East Asia.  The report also called the post-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam scenario in Sri Lanka [ Images ] as a 'historic opportunity' to find a lasting political settlement in northern Sri Lanka with the conclusion of the military operation against the Tigers.  On Iran's controversial nuclear programme, India said it continued to support a peaceful resolution of the issue, which would be in the interest of peace and stability in West Asia.  The report also took note of the worldwide economic slowdown, saying the challenges confronting the global financial system created strains in the global security environment.  Regarding the internal security challenges, the report said the focus had shifted from the proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir to Left wing extremism and insurgency in North-Eastern states.  It said the arrest of the top leadership of United Liberation Front of Asom including its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa had been a major breakthrough.  On Jammu and Kashmir, the report said 'all parameters of proxy war are at an all time low and the current situation indicated a shift towards normalcy and peace.'  "The ceasefire on the borders and Line of Control [ Images ] is holding out with a few minor aberrations," it added.  Despite improving security situation in the state, infiltration attempts continued and between April 2009 to February 2010 there were 33 infiltration bids that were foiled with 50 terrorists killed in the process.  During the same period, 213 terrorists were also killed and 68 apprehended in encounters with the armed forces in the state.







Defence ministry report blasts Pak for letting terror camps flourish
TNN, Mar 30, 2010, 03.40am IST NEW DELHI: With Pakistan not taking any concrete action to dismantle the anti-India terror infrastructure operating on its soil, New Delhi has held that 'meaningful dialogue' with Islamabad 'is possible only in an environment free of terror or threat of terror'.  Even as security forces in J&K brace for 'a hot summer' in terms of infiltration and terrorism, the ministry of defence's latest annual report has blasted Islamabad for letting terror-training camps to flourish in Pakistan and PoK.  The Army, in fact, estimates the 42 or so camps house 2,000 to 2,500 trained militants, with around 400 well-armed terrorists waiting in 'launch pads' along the LoC to infiltrate into J&K as the snow in the mountain passes melts further.  As for China, the MoD report said India was "conscious and alert" about Beijing's military modernisation and the massive development of infrastructure in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and adjoining areas, and was taking steps to counter them. The report, however, comes down heavily on Pakistan.  "Continued infiltrations across the LoC and the existence of terrorist camps across the border demonstrate the continuing ambivalence of Pakistan in its action against terrorist organisations," it said. "India has exercised exemplary restraint in the face of gravest provocation. Pakistan needs to take effective steps to address India's concern on terrorism directed against it from the territory under Pakistan control," it added.  Indicating that recent foreign secretary-level talks will not lead to resumption of the composite dialogue process anytime soon, MoD said while India "has never shut the door for dialogue", Pakistan needed to "take effective measures" against terror outfits for any meaningful progress in bilateral ties.  The report expressed concern at deteriorating internal security situation inside Pakistan. "The increasing incidents of terrorism within Pakistan targeting, inter alia, security establishment and senior military personnel, and rising tide of extremism underline a serious threat to Pakistan itself and to the region," it said.







Defence echoes concern on Maoists
 OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT  New Delhi, March 29: The operations against Maoists are the main focus of internal security, more important than even the “proxy war” in Jammu and Kashmir, the annual report of the defence ministry said.  The defence ministry also acknowledged for the first time in several years that relations with Bangladesh had improved but India was concerned with the security situation in Pakistan.  The text of the defence ministry’s 2009-2010 annual report was paraphrased and sent as a media release today but the report itself is likely to be publicly released on Tuesday.  Reflecting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 2005 statement that Naxalites were the “gravest internal security threat”, the defence ministry has probably for the first time knocked Jammu and Kashmir off the top billing it got in its list of priorities for internal security.  Even insurgency in the Northeast is more important now that there are signs that militancy in Kashmir is on the wane, the report added.The report does not dwell on the role of the armed forces in tackling Maoists because that is primarily the responsibility of the home ministry. But the army and the air force are involved in training police and transporting troops and material in anti-Maoist operations.  In Jammu and Kashmir, it says, “all parameters of proxy war are at an all time low and the current situation indicated a shift towards normalcy and peace … the ceasefire on the borders/Line of Control is holding out with a few minor aberrations”.  “The increasing incidents of terrorism within Pakistan targeting, inter alia, the security establishment and senior military personnel, and the rising tide of extremism underlined the serious threat to Pakistan itself and to the region”, the report said.  It noted that “the Pakistani government made some progress in tackling jihadi insurgency in Swat and the adjacent districts and also in South Waziristan”.  “The continued infiltrations across the LoC and the existence of terrorist camps across the India-Pak border, however, demonstrate the continuing ambivalence of Pakistan in its actions against terrorist organisations,” India has exercised exemplary restraint in the face of gravest provocation,” the report said.Praising Bangladesh, the ministry said: “Relations with Bangladesh have been strengthened since the restoration of multiparty democracy in that country. India is appreciative of the increasing co-operation with Bangladesh in security matters, especially vis-à-vis Indian insurgent groups operating from its territory.”  It also said co-operation with Myanmar on security issues was being expanded. In Sri Lanka, the report said, there is “a historic opportunity” to find a political settlement in the northern region after the conclusion of anti-LTTE operations.  On China, the ministry observed that India was “conscious and alert about the implications of China’s military modernisation…”. Rapid infrastructure development in Tibet and Xinjiang have boosted China’s force projection abilities.  But a regular mechanism for friendly military exchanges with China has been established with continuing confidence-building measures.  “Necessary steps have been initiated for the upgradation of our infrastructure and force structuring… along the northern borders,” the report claimed.  India is also concerned in Afghanistan because “the security and stability of Afghanistan is critical to India’s own security concerns.” The report also took note of the security situation in Afghanistan after the US’s plan to deploy an additional 30,000 troops in the Af-Pak region by May this year and President Barack Obama’s July 2011 timeframe for withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.







India shoring up presence along border with China
India on Monday said it is shoring up its military presence in the northern borders and upgrading infrastructure along the border with China in the light of Beijing's rapid infrastructure development and its upgraded military force projection in Tibet Autonomous Region and Xinjiang province.  “India also remains conscious and alert about the implications of China's military modernisation…rapid infrastructure development in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Xinjiang province has considerably upgraded China's military force projection capability and strategic operational flexibility,” the Defence Ministry said in its2009-10 annual report released on Monday.  While efforts to build 73 roads near Sino-Indian border have been taken up with vigour, Indian Air Force upgraded advanced landing grounds, including at Daulat Beg Oldie, to facilitate landing of AN-32 transport aircraft while the Army is raising two Mountain Divisions in the north-east and plans to acquire ultra-light howitzers that can be dropped via helicopters at higher altitudes.  The report also said that based on strategic and cooperative partnership, relations with China progressed well during the last year. It said there was convergence of views and actions on various issues in international fora and a regular mechanism for exchanges in military sphere has been established.  In its 2008-09 report, the Ministry said that China's defence modernisation needed to be monitored carefully in the foreseeable future for the implications it can have on the security and defence of the country. Ties with Pakistan  Turning to Pakistan, in the latest report India reasserted that meaningful dialogue with Pakistan could be possible only in an environment free of terror and said Islamabad should take measures to dismantle terror infrastructure on its soil directed against India.  While expressing concern with the worsening security situation inside Pakistan as also with continuing infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir, in its latest annual report the Defence Ministry underscored that India exercised “exemplary restraint in the face of gravest provocation.”  “The increasing incidents of terrorism within Pakistan targeting, inter alia, the security establishment and senior military personnel, and the rising tide of extremism underlined the serious threat to Pakistan itself and to the region,” the report said.  On several occasions, Defence Minister A.K. Antony mentioned that some 42 terror camps operate on the other side of the border. The report said these demonstrate the continuing ambivalence of Pakistan in its actions against terrorist organisations.  “India has never shut the door for dialogue with Pakistan, and is of the view that meaningful dialogue with Pakistan is possible only in an environment free of terror or threat of terror. This calls for Pakistan to take effective measures to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil which is directed against India,” the report said. Cooperation with Dhaka  On the other hand, it praised Bangladesh and noted that since the restoration of multi-party democracy there, relations with Dhaka have strengthened. It also appreciated increasing cooperation with Bangladesh in security matters, especially vis-à-vis Indian insurgent groups operating from its territory.  Similarly, it observed that cooperation with Myanmar in security matters is being enhanced, while India continues developmental activities in the country which lies at the tri-junction of South and South-East Asia.  On Sri Lanka, the report said, there lies “a historic opportunity” to find lasting political settlement in Northern Sri Lanka after the conclusion of operations against the LTTE.  On Afghanistan, the latest report said that security and stability there was critical to India's own security concerns and takes note of reports of deployment of additional 30,000 U.S. troops in the AfPak region by May this year and President Barack Obama's July 2011 time frame for troop's withdrawal from Afghanistan.  On Iran's controversial Nuclear Programme, the report said India continues to support a peaceful resolution of the issue which would be in the interest of peace and stability in West Asia.








India and Pakistan: a personal view of the water wars
Mar 29, 2010 17:32 It was so long in the making,  so utterly predictable, that the news that Pakistan and India are now arguing over water carries with it the dull ache of inevitability.  When I was living in Delhi, which I left in 2004, a few analysts were already warning that the next war between Pakistan and India would be over water, rather than over Kashmir.  The mountain glaciers which fed the rivers which are the lifeline of both countries were melting, they said, and sooner or later India and Pakistan would blame each other for climate change. I did not take it that seriously at the time. Not even after seeing first hand how far the Siachen glacier – the world’s longest glacier – had receded.    Nor indeed did it properly register after talking to an Indian sherpa who had led the first Indian military expedition to Siachen in 1978 in what India considers part of its own Ladakh region  At the time, Ladakh was much colder, he said, and the snow on the glacier came right down into the valley. It had receded in recent years because of global warming, exposing the black tracts of scree I had scrambled up during my trip there. “It was like a beautiful road coming right down from K2,”he said, , “black moraine on either side.” There was nothing, and nobody there.  From the records of the India Office of the British Library, I unearthed an account written by the American explorer Fanny Bullock-Workman of her own travels in Siachen in 1911-12 – so little consulted nowadays that the pages of her book began to come away in my hands.  She suggested that Siachen had been receding back in her days too,  so I was able to put the ebb and flow of the glacier down to natural changes in the climate.  Then a few years ago,  I made the drive from Srinagar in Kashmir to Leh in Ladakh and — dangerous as it is to extrapolate from one’s own experiences – saw the impact of global warming first hand.  It is a two-day drive from Srinagar to Leh, with a stopover in Kargil where India and Pakistan fought an intense border war in 1999. It is a spectacular drive, but also one of the most precipitous and most terrifying. By the time you are nearing Leh, you are looking forward to a comfortable hotel bed and a bowl of thick Tibetan soup.  Not long before we reached Leh, we discovered that the road bridge had been swept away by heavy floods rushing down from the mountain glaciers. I met a local Ladakhi journalist I knew who was, like me, stranded on the wrong side of the broken bridge. He took one look at me, and though I had not seen him for three years or so, he shook my hand and said two words: “global warming”.  Then, like all the other Ladakhis there, he disappeared over a precarious crossing which the locals had fashioned across the river — which involved walking across the upturned root of  a tree and then somehow making it from branch to branch across a raging glacial torrent to the other side.  I was too scared to make that crossing, and so spent the night sleeping in the car, and then much of the following day waiting for the Indian Army to reopen the road.  The Srinagar to Leh road is one of India’s most strategic. It is why they fought the Kargil war when Pakistani artillery began shelling it. I expected, wrongly, that they would repair it quickly.  The Indian Army took their time.  In one of those things that always happen in India, a dead body – presumably of someone who had drowned in the floods – lay out with us all night.  In another of “those things” — and anyone who has travelled in India knows this — there were no toilets. We were out in the high plateau Tibetan desert with, by that time, hundreds of Ladakhis crowding around at the other side of the broken bridge to see what was going on.  Not realising that the army was about to blow up the remnants of the bridge,  I wandered into a copse trying to find a private space. I still remember the heat on my face from the explosion. After that I have taken global warming more seriously.  So back to water wars.  On this blog, we have been discussing this for a while,  going right back to 2008. We also covered it here, here and here.  More details to follow. For now, let’s none of us pretend this is a new issue.



Monday, 29 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 29 Mar 2010






  Avoid attempts to contain China Cooperative approach in India’s interest
by Premvir Das  Not without good reason, China now attracts attention almost every day in world capitals. Its economic growth at 10 per cent plus is creating growing self-confidence in a country which has experienced great power status and prosperity in the past. It is clear that by 2030, China’s GDP, even with slowing momentum, will be almost at the US level in real dollar terms.   There is a visible urge to match this power with military strength. China’s defence expenditure, estimated around $120 billion last year, may touch $600 billion or so by 2030, which is quite formidable even if less than what the US will spend in 2010. So, even as forecasts of military parity between the two are clearly misplaced, China is rapidly distancing itself from all others.  Take the case of India. Its GDP stood at $1.3 trillion last year. Given an 8-9 per cent sustained annual increase over the next two decades, this figure could reach $8 trillion by 2030, still well short of China’s. Similarly, India’s military expenditure, $30 billion last year, could, at best, grow to $150 billion in the same time-frame, about the same as China’s today. In short, even as India may figure among the top three global economies in 2030, it would still be some distance away from China, both economically and in terms of military power. Other countries like Japan, France, Russia, Germany and the UK will fall even further behind. This is the real context in which the implications of China’s rising power should be seen.  Growing power brings with it attitudinal changes. There is increased confidence domestically despite relative poverty, especially in the rural areas, which acts as a catalyst in prodding the government to be more assertive internationally. Some of its manifestations have been seen recently in China’s interfaces with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea. The was visible in the stridency of tone, protesting against US President Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, and the sale of American arms to Taiwan. It is not that China has not been proactive in the past — the force-landing of an American reconnaissance aircraft a few years ago and the interception of a US Navy oceanographic research ship being two such occasions — but there was use of intemperate language in the recent posturing. Satisfying the domestic audience that the government is acting in accordance with its growing power may well be motivating these actions. Some argue that visions of again becoming the Middle Kingdom that China once was, a manifestation of destiny, are not mere fancies that can be brushed aside.  The same assertive posture is becoming noticeable with the growth of maritime power. From its earlier doctrine of first becoming capable of operating credibly in what was termed the “First Island Chain”, which covered Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines, and then the “Second Island Chain” covering sea areas up to Guam, the operating philosophy now focuses on maritime capabilities to safeguard interests over a much wider and undefined space. Some time ago, a senior PLA Navy Flag Officer reportedly told the visiting US C-in-C, Pacific Command, that the US Navy could “look after” the Pacific Ocean and the PLA Navy would mind its role in the Indian Ocean. Even if made in jest, the statement typifies the new state of mind reflecting arrogance.  Given the strong focus on the development of capabilities in the air, in space and at sea, all critical to operations at extended ranges, and the ship and aircraft building plans in motion, especially of submarines, with aircraft carriers not far behind, it needs little guesswork to see that China will be a formidable military power in the years to come. It will then be able to operate credibly well beyond the constraints that the “island chains” doctrine involved. Signs of the same self-confidence, seen on disputed maritime issues in the East China Sea, might soon manifest themselves in the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea.  This assertive approach is beginning to create uneasiness in the region. India is one country that needs to be more watchful than most others. It is true that there has been improvement in bilateral relations between the two countries across a broad front. Bilateral trade grew from $0.5 billion in 1995 to over $50 billion in 2008 and is likely to cross $100 billion before 2020. The two countries have cooperated in WTO and climate change negotiations.  China has not protested against our long-range ballistic missile project, Agni. There are commonalities in positions in regard to Afghanistan where both countries seek a moderate and independent nation. These are signs of a maturing interface. Yet, there are long-pending issues over the unresolved boundary dispute. China’s claims, often sought to be highlighted through seemingly innocuous but obviously planned incursions and politically hostile statements, continue to cause anxiety.  China has also been insensitive to India’s security interests, providing military assistance and making political overtures to countries in its immediate vicinity. At the same time, it is very unlikely that the Chinese will take recourse to military confrontation, not only because this might come in the way of achieving their larger strategic objective of reaching parity with the US as early as possible but also because they are doubtful if this would succeed. This would lend substance to the thesis that the harshness of views expressed by commentators on the government-controlled Chinese media is largely deliberate rhetoric. Nevertheless, the need to be watchful and to be prepared militarily cannot be overstressed. In this context, the recent statement of a retired PLA Navy Rear Admiral as posted on a Defence Ministry website, that China should establish facilities on a “permanent basis” to support counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, is disturbing.  Efforts to “contain” China in concert with others, even if possible, are not consistent with India’s strategic interests. It is evident that China will be a major global player very soon, if it is not that already, which all major countries must engage. Cooperation, while remaining prepared for unforeseen contingencies, is, therefore, desirable. Maritime forces of both countries are engaged in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Even otherwise, defence cooperation, albeit just starting, has begun with joint exercises linked with port visits and the exchange of high-level delegations of the two militaries.  The Chinese, on their part, are not unaware that India’s growth as a major Asian entity cannot be wished away. They are also conscious that their growing power, unlike that of India, is arousing suspicion in regions like South-East Asia and must be tempered for greater acceptability. The US is not going to lose interest in Asia anytime soon and Japan is also not going to be just a passive onlooker.  In short, these are the times when almost every country, for its own reasons, is watching the moves that China makes. How the Indian democracy and the totalitarian Chinese regime interact, as both pursue their respective growth trajectories, and the effects of this interface on the emerging world order will be of consuming interest, not just to these two countries but to all others, especially in Asia.n  The writer is a former Director-General, Defence Planning Staff.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100329/edit.htm#4
Agni-1 successfully test-launched  Balasore (Orissa), March 28 India today successfully test-fired its indigenously developed, nuclear-capable, short range ballistic missile (SRBM) Agni-1 from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from here off the Orissa coast.  “It was a fantastic mission carried out by the Indian Army. The test-fire of the Agni-I missile met all parameters,” ITR director SP Dash told PTI. Blasted off from a rail mobile launcher, the surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, powered by solid propellants, roared into the sky trailing behind a column of orange and white thick smoke at about 1305 hours.  “After piercing the sky, the missile re-entered the earth's atmosphere and its dummy warhead impacted in the waters of the Bay of Bengal in the down range," a defence official said from the launch site, adding that the guidance and re-entry system worked well.  User of the missile, the strategic force command of the Indian Army, executed the entire launch operation with the necessary logistic support being provided by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) at the Integrated Test Range.  Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre tall Agni-1, which can carry payloads weighing up to one tonne, has already been inducted into the Indian Army. It has a range of upto 700 kms.“The command chain has been validated. This is a major step in the preparedness of the Army in using this weapon system. We have reached the full range capability of the missile,” said a DRDO scientist. A battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry and electro-optic systems and a naval ship anchored in the impact point tracked the entire trajectory of today’s mission. The command, operation, integration, execution and networking for the launch was done by the Army. — PTI







Intach, Assam Rifles battle over Waterloo cannons 
Aizawl, March 28 Battle lines have been drawn between the Mizoram unit of the Indian National Trust for Art and Natural Heritage (INTACH) and Assam Rifles over possession of two cannons which were used at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.  The Mizoram unit of INTACH said the two pieces of artillery displayed at the Assam Rifles battalion headquarters here since 1892 were taken away in 2003 by their custodian, the First battalion of Assam Rifles, to Tuensang in Nagaland.  P Rohmingthanga, a retired IAS officer and convener of the state’s INTACH convener said the two historic cannons were placed at the Assam Rifles battalion headquarters by Lt Colonel J Shakespeare in 1892.  Shakespeare, in his book ‘The Making of Aijal’ (as Aizawl was known in those days) published in 1939 wrote that the cannons were among those used by the Duke of Wellington’s troops which were part of the combined armies of the Seventh Coalition to defeat French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at the battle of Waterloo. He wrote that they were part of armament of a Burma-bound warship that was docked in Chittagong port (now in Bangladesh) in 1857.  “When the detachment of the 34th Native Infantry mutinied on November 18 that year as part of the Sepoy Mutiny, the cannons were thrown overboard to prevent them from falling in the hands of the natives and were fished out after crushing the mutiny and brought to Aizawl,” he wrote.  “Shakespeare was also the civilian administrator of the then North Lushai Hills, the northern part of the present Mizoram state and anything installed by civilian head of a district could not logically belong to the armed forces, certainly not by Assam Rifles, which came into existence only in 1917,” Rohmingliana said.  “Historically and legally the canons belong to the people of the state and have high heritage value and not to the central para-military forces,” he said, while conceding that the Assam Rifles could have custody of the artillery pieces, but they must be kept in Aizawl.  However, the Assam Rifles and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the controlling authority of all the country’s para-military forces, do not agree with the contention of the Mizo INTACH.  The MHA, in a note on June 9, 2009 said as per service norms, war trophies were kept by respective units and formed an integral part of the battalion’s history and legacy.  The museum is situated at the Assam Rifles Headquarters on the outskirts of Shillong in Meghalaya. — PTI







400 militants waiting to cross LoC into Kashmir: Army
NDTV Correspondent, Sunday March 28, 2010, Srinagar  At least four-hundred militants are waiting across the Line of Control (LoC) to sneak into Kashmir, the Army has said.  Talking to media in Srinagar, Brigadier General Staff (BGS) of the 15 Corps, Brigadier Gurmeet Singh said, "Four hundred militants are waiting at launch pads to sneak into the valley."  He said, "This year we have occupied additional counter infiltration positions and repair of border fence has also commenced early."  The BGS said that between 270 and 300 militants were still active in Kashmir valley.  The Army had last week foiled a major infiltration bid in the Keran sector of the LoC and eliminated the complete group comprising of eight militants.  "The area of infiltration is high altitude, with rugged mountains and is snow laden, currently having 12 to 15 feet of snow. Terrorists, as is evident from the recoveries, were heavily armed, well equipped for snow and high altitude area and had the latest communication and navigation equipment, indicative of the support of intelligence and government agencies from across the LoC," Brigadier Gurmeet Singh said.








Agni-I successfully test-fired off Orissa coast
Press Trust of India, Sunday March 28, 2010, Balasore, Orissa India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed, nuclear-capable, short range ballistic missile (SRBM) Agni-I on Sunday from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from here off the Orissa coast.       "It was a fantastic mission carried out by the Indian Army. The test-fire of the Agni-I missile met all parameters," director of ITR S P Dash told PTI.      Blasted off from a rail mobile launcher, the surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, powered by solid propellants, roared into the sky trailing behind a column of orange and white thick smoke at about 1305 hours.      "After piercing the sky, the missile re-entered the earth's atmosphere and its dummy warhead impacted in the waters of the Bay of Bengal in the down range," a defence official said from the launch site, adding that the guidance and re-entry system worked well.      User of the missile, the strategic force command of the Indian Army, executed the entire launch operation with the necessary logistic support being provided by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) at the integrated test range (ITR).      Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15 metre tall Agni-I, which can carry payloads weighing up to one tonne, has already been inducted into the Indian Army.                                   







India tests nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile
Press Trust of India / Balasore (orissa) March 28, 2010, 17:27 IST  India today successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable, 700-km range ballistic missile Agni-I from Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast, a day after launching two other short-range missiles.  "It was a fantastic mission carried out by the Indian Army. The test-firing of the Agni-I missile met all parameters," S P Dash, the director of Integrated Test Range on the island, about 100 km from here, told PTI.  Fired from a rail mobile launcher, the surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, powered by solid fuel, roared into the sky leaving behind a column of thick orange and white smoke at about 1305 hours.  "After piercing the sky, the missile re-entered the earth's atmosphere and its dummy warhead impacted in the waters of the Bay of Bengal in the down range," a defence official said from the launch site, adding that the guidance and re-entry system worked well.  The missile was equipped with a new navigational technology which helps it to home on to the target. During today's test-launch, the weapon system achieved a precision-hit after reaching a height of 300 kms, defence sources said in New Delhi.  The user of the missile, the Strategic Force Command of the Indian Army, executed the entire launch operation with the necessary logistic support being provided by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).  Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre-tall Agni-I, which can carry payloads of upto one tonne, has already been inducted into the Army.  "The command chain has been validated. This is a major step in the preparedness of the Army in using this weapon system. We have reached the full range capability of the missile," said a DRDO scientist.  The entire trajectory of today's mission was tracked by a battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry and electro-optic systems and a naval ship anchored close to the impact point.  India had successfully test-fired two nuclear-capable short-range ballistic missiles Prithvi-II and Dhanush in quick succession from different locations off Orissa coast yesterday.  Dhanush was test-fired from INS Subhadra, about 50 nautical miles from Puri, while Prithvi-II was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the ITR.  Prithvi-II has a range of 295 km while Dhanush, the naval version of Prithvi, can cruise upto 350 km.  On March 22, the super-sonic cruise missile BrahMos, jointly developed by India and Russia, was successfully test-launched from INS Ranvir, also off the Orissa coast.






No repeal of controversial Army law: Antony 
Ruling out the repeal of a controversial law that gives the Indian Army unfettered powers of arrest in the northeast, Defence Minister AK Antony said on Wednesday that steps would instead be taken to make it more "humane".  He also said peace talks with an influential Naga separatist group were on track and that the situation in neighbouring Manipur, once "badly affected" by terrorism, was "improving".  Speaking to reporters in this garrison town, 40 kms from Nagaland's commercial capital Dimapur, as he wound up a two-day visit to the northeast, his first since assuming office, the minister also ruled out joint operations with Myanmar to root out Indian rebel groups that had taken shelter in its territory, saying the issue would be tackled through diplomatic means.  Earlier on Wednesday, Antony flew to an Army base at Dinjan, over 500 kms from Assam's principal city of Guwahati, for a briefing on the operations against the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) that is blamed for the killing of 61 Hindi-speaking people in a spate of violent incidents since last Friday. Eleven others, including five policemen and three ULFA cadres, have been killed in different incidents during this period.  Antony, who arrived in Tezpur on Tuesday, held a high-level meeting with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, the Indian Army Chief Gen JJ Singh and other officials to discuss the ongoing operations against ULFA.  Antony was categorical in his reply when asked about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that various groups have charged the Army with misusing under the garb of controlling terrorism.  "The act will stay but with a few amendments. It should be possible to make it more humane," he asserted, adding: "The law has to stay otherwise how else will we meet the threat posed by ULFA?"  "The Army operates in a difficult situation where the lives of soldiers are in danger. When they operate in such difficult situations, they need special protection," the minister maintained.  Referring to the ceasefire with Naga rebel groups that has been in place since 1997, he stated that "talks are on very smoothly to find a honourable solution" to the issue.  "The government of India is very serious and sincere to find a peaceful solution to the Naga problem," Antony asserted, adding: "There is an atmosphere of peace in the state and all round support for finding a peaceful solution."  Indian government interlocutors are scheduled to hold another round of talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).  As for Manipur, Antony said the situation had improved to the extent that "government officials can work without fear". In this context, he said the successful conduct of assembly polls next month "would be a great boost to the peace process".  Speaking about Myanmar, the minister said there was "concern" over ULFA rebels sheltering in its territory "but we will not interfere in the internal affairs of another country".  "We have conveyed our concern and we hope (the Myanmar government) will take it up", Antony said, even as he maintained that relations between the two countries, particularly in the defence sphere, "are now stronger". http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/198954.aspx








Summer rush: 10 militants gunned down along border
TNN, Mar 28, 2010, 01.12am IST SRINAGAR/JAMMU: In a clear indication that terror traffic has increased with the melting of winter snows, Indian soldiers on Saturday encountered and killed 10 heavily armed terrorists in separate border areas of J&K.  Officials say equipment and technology — ground sensors and electrified fences along the LoC — have made it difficult to infiltrate and driven terrorists to desperation. The terrorists have started taking greater risks by trying to sneak into the Valley in March and April, instead of the traditional infiltration season between May and August when the snow-bound routes across the LoC are fully open.  Defence spokesman Lt Col J S Brar said six terrorists were killed in an ongoing operation against the infiltrators at Keran along the LoC in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Earlier, three terrorists were killed in the operation that Army’s 12 JAK Rifles launched in a densely forested area on Wednesday evening. ‘‘One terrorist was killed on Wednesday while two more were killed on Thursday,’’ a source said.  The operation was launched when security forces noticed the movement of some terrorists in the area, who are believed to have been part of a group that sneaked into India from PoK on Wednesday. The spokesman said the operation was on when the reports last came in. ‘‘A search operation is still in progress and the identity of the slain terrorists is yet to be ascertained.’’ In another encounter at Kalakote in Rajouri district, security forces killed two Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, following a tip-off from the army’s Counter-Intelligence and Surveillance Unit.  Defence spokesman Lt Col Biplabh Nath said arms, ammunition and sophisticated navigation equipment, including a GPS device, a satellite phone, a compass and a matrix sheet, were recovered from the two terrorists — Abu Soraab and Abu Osama. Around the same time, two more LeT terrorists, including a battalion commander, were killed along the banks of Merul river in the neighbouring Poonch district. The defence spokesman identified the two as Rehmatullah and Nisar Ahmed. ‘‘The slain terrorists were responsible for reviving the LeT in Kishtwar district,’’ he said.  CISU has warned of an increase in the infiltration attempts from across the border. Apart from the technology, the security forces have also over the years effectively countered infiltration, thanks to effective human intelligence gathering. The success reflects in the considerable decrease in violence in J&K. In 2009, the violence dipped by around 20% to its lowest levels since 1989.  Seventeen terrorists and eight soldiers were killed in March last year in a protracted gunbattle along the LoC in Kupwara.  The battle to thwart the heavily-armed terrorist mini-incursion had lasted five straight days and broken a lull that had set in as snow blocked the infiltration routes.  J&K CM Omar Abdullah had said last year that earlier, the rule of infiltration was that it was nonexistent during the winter months. June to September used to be the peak infiltration season, before the passes closed up yet again. Now, March-April is seen as the peak infiltration, when the snow starts melting and makes the ground sensors dysfunctional.



 

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