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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 23 Mar 2010

Indian, US commanders mull joint NBC training
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, March 22
Exploring a new arena in Indo-US military cooperation, top army commanders from both sides are considering holding a joint training exercise in nuclear, chemical and biological (NBC) warfare, it is learnt.  The moves comes in the backdrop of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal that envisions increased bilateral cooperation in the nuclear field and having economic, scientific and strategic spin-offs for both countries. Also looming large over the global security environment is the specter of NBC terrorism and Indian forces have in the recent past been engaged in orienting, training and equipping for operations in an NBC contaminated environment..  Sources revealed that the Americans put the proposal forth and the Indian Army is to revert back with modalities and the unit that is to participate in the drill. It is also yet to be decided whether to hold the exercise, thought to part of the ongoing Yudh Abhyas series, in India or the US.  The NBC exercise, sources said, features on the agenda of the 14th meeting of the Army Executive Steering Group, comprising top Indian and US Army officers that began at Headquarters Western Command at Chandimandir near here today. The four-day event would be reviewing the progress made in Indo-US military cooperation during 2009 and chalk out the programme for this year.  Lt Gen AS Sekhon, Director-General Military Operations at Army Headquarters, is heading the Indian delegation while the 14-member American team is led by Lt Gen Benjamin R. Mixon, Commanding General, US Army Pacific Command (USARPAC). Headquartered at Hawaii, the USARPAC commands most Army forces in the Asia-Pacific region with the exception of Korea.  The Indian and American military establishments opened their door to each other only in late 1990s, but the past few years have witnessed significant strides in areas like joint field exercises, nomination to professional courses, seminars, exchange visits and observer programmes.  The most notable aspect of joint training is Exercise Yudh Abhyas, an annual field exercise involving troops from both countries that now also features prominently on USARPAC’s website. The exercise has, over the years, been held in various locations in India covering the jungles of the north-east, mountainous terrain of Uttar Pradesh and semi-urban areas in Central India as well as in Hawaii in 2008.  Many of the Indo-US joint training programmes like Exercise Yudh Abhyas are focused at counter-terrorist and counter insurgency. Armed forces from both countries are heavily committed in such sub-convectional warfare operations and international peacekeeping. According to some officers, the USARPAC is the primary feeder of trained troops to the US Central Command that is engaged in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and hence training with the Pacific Command assumes importance.

Haryana opens its coffers to war widows
Geetanjali Gayatri Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, March 22
Recognising the sacrifices made by Haryana’s defence personnel, the Haryana government has decided to honour war widows, who will be awarded an assistance of Rs 1,000 per month. This honour will also be extended to widows of martyrs of “war-like” situations.  Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said this scheme was for war widows of the Army, Navy and Air Force personnel killed during war. No other family member would be entitled to the award money.  As many as 1,308 widows would be given this honour in addition to the pension they are getting from the Ministry of Defence. Probably, Haryana is the only state to award such honour to the war widows. Elsewhere, financial assistance is only provided to widows of personnel who don’t have any other source of income. This assistance is be disbursed through Zila Sainik Boards across the state.  The secretary of the Rajya Sainik Board, Brig KS Budhwar, said the government had been considering the scheme for some time now. “ll women whose husbands were killed during any declared war or during a war-like situation will be entitled to this assistance. We have given instructions to Zila Sainik Boards to send us forms for applying for this assistance. These will be sent back to us for clearance after which sanction for assistance will be given,” he said. The scheme will be applicable from August 1, 2009.  During the recent Vidhan Sabha session, the government had doubled the war jagir too. It hiked the amount from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per year which was passed by the assembly.  The government has also hiked assistance to WW- II veterans and their widows from Rs 1,000 to 1,500 per month and that of ex-servicemen aged over 60.

Indian, US armies to further enhance joint combat exercises
TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 02.50am IST NEW DELHI:
Even as India and US are gearing up to hold another joint combat exercise called `Shatrujeet' in California next month, the two armies on Monday kicked off a four-day Executive Steering Group (ESG) meeting to chalk out the schedule for bilateral military engagements over the next year.  "The aim is to increase the scope and complexity of joint combat exercises and training drills between the Indian and American armies, which have already built quite a bit of interoperability,'' said a defence ministry official.  The Indian side at the 14th ESG, being held at the Western Army Command at Chandimandir this time, is headed by director-general of military operations Lt-Gen A S Sekhon. The 30-member US Army delegation is led by Lt-Gen Benjamin Mixon, commander of the land forces at the US Pacific Command.  As for Shatrujit, around 150-200 Indian soldiers are leaving for US to take part in the war games, which will revolve around counter-terrorism, from April 1 to 19.  Incidentally, India had hosted the largest-ever ground combat exercise with US, called `Yudh Abhyas', at Babina last October. US showcased its Stryker infantry armoured vehicles and Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) during the combat manoeuvres.  The most visible symbol of the expansive Indo-US military ties has been the flurry of joint combat exercises -- over 50 in the last seven years -- between the two nations.

Pakistani army chief in talks with US defense chiefs
010-03-22 23:20:00 
Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani meets with US defense chiefs on Monday at the start of a week of wide-ranging talks between Washington and Islamabad, officials said.  The Obama administration views Kayani as a crucial figure behind Pakistan's stepped-up offensive against Islamist militants along the border with Afghanistan.  Kayani was due to meet Defense Secretary Robert Gates and top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, on Monday afternoon after having held talks on Sunday at Central Command headquarters outside of Tampa, Florida.  Kayani and the head of Central Command, General David Petraeus, "discussed ways to advance cooperation and collaboration in countering extremist violence in Afghanistan, as well as US support for Pakistan's struggle against violent extremists at home," US Central Command said in a statement.  Petraeus, who oversees US forces in Afghanistan and Central Asia, "commended Kayani on Pakistan's hard-fought gains" against the Taliban in the Swat valley and the military's "impressive" counter-insurgency campaign, it said.  The Pakistani general was due to hold a dinner meeting on Tuesday evening with Mullen, who has made a point of cultivating relations with Kayani.  The Pakistani army chief's visit is part of talks this week touted by the administration as an effort to build a deeper relationship with Pakistan, which has long seen Washington as interested only in securing its military cooperation in the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.  The talks chaired by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will cover not just security but also economic development, water and energy, education, communications and public diplomacy, and agriculture, US officials said.  In a visit to Islamabad in January, Gates said Washington had let down Pakistan in the past and vowed to restore trust between the two countries.  Kayani's visit comes after US officials praised Pakistan for the arrest of the Afghan Taliban's second-in-command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and follows reports of other Taliban figures captured in Pakistan.  But the former UN envoy to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, has said the arrests in Pakistan had closed a secret channel of communications with Taliban figures and undermined the Afghan government's attempts to negotiate a settlement with the insurgents.  A spokesman for the Afghan president also said the arrests had a "negative impact" on efforts to broker a peace deal with the Taliban.  Pakistan, one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban's 1996-2001 regime, is keen to shape any reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban and harbors concerns about arch-rival India's influence in Afghanistan.

L&T Wins $212.4M Indian Coastal Boat Order
By vivek raghuvanshi
Published: 22 Mar 2010 14:57
NEW DELHI - A $212.4 million contract to design and build 36 high-speed coastal security boats has gone to Larsen & Toubro (L&T), marking one of the biggest Indian defense contracts to a private domestic company.  The contract is part of the fast-track procurement process put in motion after the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.    The boats are to operate in shallow water and have aluminum-alloy hulls and water-jet propulsion.  L&T is also helping to build the hull for India's nuclear submarine and is expanding shipbuilding facilities to build warships and submarines. The firm also is eyeing the Army's 155mm gun upgrade project.  L&T's defense engineering division also makes Pinaka multirocket launchers for the Army.  Last year, L&T's sales were about $8.5 billion.

Ajai Shukla: India's war memorial - Seal the deal
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi March 23, 2010, 0:09 IST 
Amongst the many issues that scar relations between India’s military and its civilian overseers — pay scales and pensions; the failure to buy adequate weaponry; and the military’s marginalisation in framing security policy, to name a few — the most easily resolved is the military’s longstanding demand for a national war memorial to honour the 20,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen who have sacrificed their lives while defending independent India. A broad section of the urban public echoes this plea.  The demand is for a prominent memorial on New Delhi’s Central Vista, which can be visited freely by the Indian public, and where wreathes can be offered by national leaders on occasions like the Republic Day, and by visiting foreign dignitaries who choose to do so. The current memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti, is merely an add-on to the India Gate, an imposing 42-metre high British structure, built in 1921, to honour the 90,000 Indian soldiers who died in the First World War.  The irony is evident: the British exalted the memory of Indians who died for the empire; but India finds it bothersome to suitably commemorate those who fell in service of the republic.  Anyone who has travelled along India’s borders with China and Pakistan cannot have missed the lonely memorials at the places where Indian troops fought and died. Amongst the most stirring is the stark monument to Major Shaitan Singh and his 111 Kumaoni soldiers who battled to the last, holding up a major Chinese advance on the desolate, windswept plateau of Chushul. This Indian hero, a winner of the Param Vir Chakra, is honoured only in that unvisited war memorial near Chushul. No national memorial is inscribed with the name of Major Shaitan Singh.  The proposal for a “National War Memorial”, as I accidentally discovered in the Assam state archives in Guwahati, predates independent India. A confidential memo, issued on March 3, 1945, from the War Department in New Delhi (in File No. 110-C/45, entitled “Indian National War Memorial”, in the Governor’s Secretariat, Confidential Branch) declares that the Government of India (GoI) has been examining “the question of the form that an Indian National War Memorial should take”. The memo orders that “the establishment of a Military Academy on the lines of the United States Military Academy at West Point for the education and basic training together of future officers of the Royal Indian Navy, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force would be the most suitable form for the memorial to take”.  In short, New Delhi proposed that what was to become the famous National Defence Academy (NDA), which is still the bedrock of Indian officer training, would also serve as India’s National War Memorial.  The British government of India further proposed that “funds for the academy would be provided by public subscription and supplemented by the state”. It urged all provincial governments (as state governments were then called) to support the scheme, establish scholarships, encourage the public to contribute, and to not set up any other war memorials so that the support of the public “may be concentrated on the all-India (war memorial)”.  Shortly afterwards, as the Second World War hurtled towards its denouement in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the War Department in New Delhi directed (vide memo No. F.65/45/W.1, dated June 15, 1945) that the construction of the academy be financed from a gift of 100,000 pounds, received from the Government of Sudan in gratitude for the Indian Army’s role in freeing Sudan from Italian occupation.  An Indian National War Memorial Working Committee was quickly constituted, which sent out a questionnaire to the provinces asking for their views on a range of subjects, including the setting up of feeder schools for the proposed academy-cum-war memorial. The questionnaire asked, keeping in mind the “urgent need in India for leaders in all walks of life, including the fighting services”, should “practical steps not be taken to meet the requirement of the immediate future by the establishment of a certain number of residential high schools”.  Today, 65 years later, the military community, especially officers from the NDA, will recognise that these proposals have been implemented in full. The Sudan Block, a magnificent basalt and granite structure, topped with a Jodhpur red sandstone dome, is the central edifice around which the academy stands. Generations of cadets, including this columnist, have dozed restfully through lectures in the Sudan Block’s cool classrooms. Many of those cadets entered the NDA from 19 Sainik Schools across the country, the network of “feeder schools” proposed in 1945.  Lost along the way, fortuitously, is the proposal for the NDA to constitute India’s National War Memorial. A training academy is a living organism that shapes the leaders of tomorrow; bursting with life, it is ill-suited to be a sombre memorial.  Today, with the government unwilling to concede the space for a memorial on New Delhi’s Central Vista, Karnataka MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, has suggested a Vietnam Wall-style memorial, inscribed with the names of India’s fallen soldiers, on a 50-60 acre site alongside Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat. The design, which Chandrasekhar submitted to the prime minister last week, includes an eternal flame, a 24x7 ceremonial military guard, a memorial wall, a martyrs’ museum, and large, landscaped areas that would allow schoolchildren and other visitors a pleasant day at the memorial. If the army wants the country to know about and to remember its sacrifices, this is the way to do it.

BAE Systems hit by defence cuts 
The US has already axed big budget projects as Obama seeks to curb military spending and analysts anticipate Britain will soon follow suit     
Orders for BAE's F-35 fighter planes are likely to be reduced in a time of military budget restraints.  BAE Systems, the biggest manufacturing company in Britain, was dealt a major blow today when the government awarded the first phase of a £4bn contract to build new armoured cars for the British army to America's General Dynamics. The move jeopardises the future of the firm's armaments factory in Newcastle and 600 jobs.  The deal is for armoured reconnaissance vehicles to replace Britain's ageing Scimitars – seen as vulnerable to roadside bombs – using better protection and with added firepower.  General Dynamics had previously said 10,500 UK jobs would be safeguarded or created over the 10-year deal, if it won the contract, and Bob Ainsworth, the defence secretary, made the point that the US group's bid contained 73% UK content within the supply chain and the assembly, integration and test facilities at the company's Defence Support Group at Donnington.  For BAE, which spent £50m over five years developing a contender for the deal, based on upgrading its existing CV90 tank, these are dog days as it faces swingeing defence spending cuts by the US and British governments in the wake of the global banking crisis.  Big-budget US projects have already been axed as the Obama administration curbs military spending, which doubled during the Bush years. Among them are the costly F-22 fighter plane, a new communications satellite, shipbuilding programmes and missile development. Further job losses are inevitable. As BAE derives half its £20bn of annual revenue from the US, this is unwelcome news.  Britain is also gearing up for big cuts, with both of the main political parties preparing to slash defence spending by up to £10bn after the election in May.  Analysts anticipate cuts to the BAE Harrier and Tornado fighter jet fleet, an early phasing out of Nimrod MR2 reconnaissance aircraft, and a reduction in orders for the new US F-35 fighters. Such ruthless cost-cutting means BAE could lose tens of millions in revenue.  "BAE faces a challenging period as government seeks to rein in public spending," said Peter Felstead, of Jane's Defence Weekly. "Plans for new aircraft carriers, warplanes and ships are vulnerable at a time when there is cross-party consensus that military spending is too extravagant." Difficult backdrop  The difficult backdrop has not been lost on the City: BAE's share price is down 20% over 18 months and Goldman Sachs has published a note claiming BAE's earnings could stagnate until the middle of this decade.  According to Goldman Sachs' defence analyst David Perry, profits at BAE's land division look set to halve by 2012 after the US cut funding for several vehicle programmes. Perry said he expected news about the F-35 to get worse. The programme leader, Lockheed, warned recently that it would share the burden among partners, including BAE, after the Pentagon withheld $614m (£410m) in performance fees.  Ed Steed, an analyst at Execution Noble, said BAE was not well positioned to withstand an era of reduced defence spending as it was heavily exposed to so-called platform products: "Big-ticket items such as ships, aircraft and submarines, where the spotlight tends to fall during a defence review."  "Projects where BAE is involved such as F-35 and Typhoon are far advanced but governments around the world are likely to reduce planned orders or abandon plans to place new [orders] at a time of budgetary restraint," he said.  BAE has also suffered a number of setbacks on a second front: competition for new weapons contracts. Today's news that it had lost the armoured car contract follows last year's failure to win the $281m US government contract for armoured battlefield vehicles. That deal was clinched at the eleventh hour by its Wisconsin-based rival Oshkosh Defense and was the first time that BAE has suffered a major contract loss in North America since it launched the last phase of its US expansion strategy two years ago. BAE is now the fourth-biggest defence contractor in the US market.  To hedge against uncertainty in the US and UK, BAE is expanding in India, Australia and Saudi Arabia, where defence spending is expected to rise; and it aims to boost its presence in niche product areas such as cyber-security and unmanned aircraft.  When the company's results were announced in February, Ian King, chief executive, said he expected combat aircraft to take over from land vehicles as the main driver of growth. He expects land systems to fall 30% by 2012, following contract setbacks, and because of retrenchment as the US and Britain withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan.  But Howard Wheeldon, a strategist at BGC Partners, said he remained positive about BAE. "It is a past master at being able to adapt to changed circumstances. These may be worrying times but the company is well positioned, as it has a diversified product portfolio and international interests," he said.  Analysts at Exane BNP Paribas expect "a flat performance over the next couple of years" but note that about 30% of BAE's income depends on maintenance and support programmes for projects that still have many years to run.  BAE rebutted suggestions that it faces a rocky period ahead, saying: "We have a large order book and programmes such as Typhoon continue to deliver a strong performance. During the year, £3bn of new support contracts were awarded.  "In the US, our high-technology capabilities within our electronics, intelligence and support business continue to be in demand."  BAE is also battling an image problem, after US and UK bribery and corruption inquiries ended with it paying £255m in fines to the US department of justice (DoJ) after admitting to irregularities over the sale of fighter planes to Saudi Arabia and eastern Europe.  In a court filing, the DoJ claimed that BAE transferred millions to Swiss bank accounts controlled by an agent, with a high probability that a payment would go to a Saudi Arabian official in a position of influence. In the past, there have been allegations that BAE had a £60m slush fund to underpin the Saudi al-Yamamah arms contract, which has been worth £43bn over the past 20 years. BAE has denied the allegations.  In Britain, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) dropped an investigation into BAE's Saudi business after intervention by the Blair government in 2006. But the company must pay £30m after agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser offence of failing to keep accurate accounting records for its activities in Tanzania.  Although the UK National Audit Office investigated al-Yamamah, the conclusions are shrouded in secrecy. The Ministry of Defence said: "The report remains sensitive. Disclosure would harm both international relations and the UK's commercial interests." Anti-armaments campaigners have accused the government of a cover-up.  King has tried to draw a line under the corruption investigations by stating: "The company regrets and accepts full responsibility for past shortcomings. The firm has systematically enhanced its compliance policies and processes."  Francis Tusa, of Defence Analysis, said: "If you ask people what they think of defence companies, they would be extremely cynical and assume that dodgy stuff is going on all the time. Of course, that doesn't make it right."  Rita Clifton, chair of the branding agency Interbrand, said: "No one expects a defence company to be a hearts-and-flowers organisation. Customers are primarily concerned about product quality and service but reputation can be a factor when potential clients are shopping around in a highly competitive marketplace. And image matters in the wider public and political arena. BAE cannot afford to rest on its laurels."

Indo-US defence cooperation meet
STAFF WRITER 21:11 HRS IST  Chandigarh, Mar 22 (PTI) The 14th annual meeting of the Indo-US Army Executive Steering Group (ESG), to coordinate various joint-training events between the two Armies, began today.  The four-day meeting began at Headquarters, Western Command at Chandimandir near here amid a "friendly and cordial atmosphere", a defence spokesman said.  The ESG meetings are held at venues alternating between India and the US, to coordinate various joint-training events between the two Armies.  The 14-member US delegation is led by Lt Gen Benjamin Randy Nixon, Commanding General, United States Army Pacific, the spokesman said.  Earlier, the delegation team attended a wreath laying ceremony held at 'Veer Smriti', the Western Command War Memorial and Lt Gen Nixon paid homage to the martyrs.  Gen Nixon later met Western Army Commander Lt Gen Shankar Ranjan Ghosh at his office and interacted on various aspects of common interest.

India target of 313 Brigade 
Written on March 22nd, 2010 in Editor's page
(Written on February 23 by K.N. Pandita)  Shortly after the deadly bombing of the German Bakery in Pune on February 8, an influential South East Asian news agency received a message in Urdu from the top gorilla commander Ilyas Kashmiri, whose 313 Brigade is an operational arm of Al-Qaeda. The message warned the Indian government “to compensate for all its injustices to the Muslims, otherwise they will see our next action”. It added, “We warn the international community not to send their people to the 2010 Hockey World Cup, IPL and Commonwealth Games.  If they do they will be responsible for the consequences. Nor should their people visit India. We, the mujahideen of 313 Brigade vow to continue attacks all across India…”  The mysterious 313 Brigade is linked to busted Chicago conspiracy case, which had planned to massacre Indian military officers, attack Indian nuclear arsenal and punish the cartoonist of a Danish newspaper for his anti-Muslim cartoon.  Who is this Ilyas Kashmiri, the sender of the message and what is his agenda?  Following the decision of top Pakistani civil and military leaders on October 9, 2009 to launch military operation against Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qaeda think-tanks and operatives decided to broaden their plan against the Americans globally and not remain confined to AF-Pak region. Apart from Israel, the plan envisages extended Al Qaeda operations in South Asia where India stands out a significant ally of the Americans in war on terrorism.  Several terrorist attacks in the last quarter of 2009 like those on Indian Embassy in Kabul and  military headquarter in Rawalpindi are reported to be the handiwork of Ilyas Kashmiri-led 313 Brigade. Pakistani intelligence suspected him of masterminding the conspiracy of killing General Pervez Musharraf in 2003.  US intelligence believes that Ilyas Kashmiri is the head of Al-Qaeda military operations who had been keeping a low profile in the organization. Some months back, his death in a US predator drone attack in North Waziristan operations was wrongly reported. However, it is true that many top commanders of Taliban-Al Qaeda combination were killed in the drone attacks. Prominent among them were Osama al-Kini, a Kenyan national and external operations chief of Al-Qaeda, Khalid Habib, the commander of Lashkar-e-Zil (Islamic Shadow Army), Tahir Yuldashev (the Uzbek warrior of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Baitullah Mahsud, the chief of Tehreek-i-Taliban-i- Pakistan.  Ilyas was born in Bhimbher (old Mirpur) in PoK in 1964 in Samhani valley and studied at Allama Iqbal University in Islamabad. He first joined Kashmir Freedom Movement, and then Harakatu’l-Jihad-I Islami (its 313 Brigade). In due course of time, it grew the most powerful group in South Asia with network strongly knitted in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India especially Kashmir, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Footprints of 313 Brigade are traceable in Europe and it is capable of engineering 26/11 type of strikes.  In 1994, Ilyas Kashmiri launched al-Hadid operations in New Delhi to get some of his jihadi comrades released from prison… His group of 25, which included Sheikh Omar Saeed — the abductor of Daniel Pearl of Wall Street Journal— had kidnapped several foreigners with American, British and Israeli tourists among them. They were taken to a hideout in Ghaziabad. The abductors demanded release of their arrested colleagues. In the rescue attack by Indian forces on the hideout some of the kidnappers were killed, Sheikh Omar was wounded and Ilyas escaped the net.  Sheikh Omar was later released at Kandahar in exchange of hijacked Indian aircraft passengers.  Thirty years ago when Ilyas Kashmiri had joined the Afghan jihad as a fighter of HUJI against the Soviets, he gained expertise in guerrilla warfare and explosives. There was the time when he became prized ISI and Pakistan Army backed mujahideen commander. Pakistani Generals found pride in listening to his heroic deeds at the warfront.  But after becoming the head of Al-Qaeda military operations, he remains with Pakistan Army and civilian establishment the most wanted Al Qaeda commander on whose head a prize of 600000 US dollars has been announced.   On February 26, 2009, Indian commandos crossed the LoC in J&K, and launched counter attack on village Lonjot in PoK in which 14 civilians got killed. Next day Ilyas Kashmiri took 25 fighters of his 313 Brigade with him, crossed the LoC at Nakyal sector, kidnapped an Indian army officer, and beheaded him. The severed head of the officer was paraded in the bazaar of Kotli in PoK.  In a bid to avenge the Gujarat killings in 2002, Ilyas Kashmiri planned an attack on Akhnoor cantonment in Jammu region. He employed the war strategy he had picked up and mastered during mujahideen operations against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He divided the 313 Brigade force into two groups and lured Indian Generals, Brigadiers and other senior offices to the fatal scene of first attack. When his second group came into action, the result was that two Indian Generals were wounded and several Brigadiers and Colonels were killed. This was a telling set back to the Indian Army.  Considered top most gorilla warfare strategist, Ilyas Kashmiri re-defined Taliban led-insurgency based on Vietnam’s legendary gorilla General Vo Nguyen Giap’s three-pronged strategy. For Pakistani Taliban he emphasized the strategy of cutting NATO supply lines.  Though 313 Brigade is the main catalyst of high profile operations such as 26/11 or Al-Qaeda operations in Somalia, it’s important and veteran commander at an unknown place in Waziristan, Ilyas Kashmiri, has always kept his personal profile low. In a rare interview given to a South East Asian news agency last summer, he summarized his gorilla warfare strategy succinctly. He considers India and Israel as extensions of US’ resources and hence the necessity of debilitating both of them. “Al-Qaeda’s regional war strategy in which they have hit Indian target, is actually to chop off American strength”, he said. Echoing Islamabad’s allegations, Ilyas reportedly said that RAW has detachment command centers in Afghan provinces of Kunar, Jalalabad, Khost, Argun, Helmand and Kandahar. The cover operations, he believes, are road construction companies. For example, the road construction from Khost city to Tanai tribe is contracted to a retired Indian army colonel.  When asked about his future plans in India, Ilyas said,”Mumbai attack is nothing to what is being planned for the future. Every target has specific time and reason and response will be according”.  Ilyas Kashmri, the 6-feet tall, one eye-lost and one finger cut off gorilla warlord says Al Qaeda or Taliban are not fighting against Pakistan, which is the friendliest country. They are fighting only against certain elements in Pak Army. 313 Brigade, he asserts is part of war tactics reading enemy’s mind and reacting accordingly.  He is unhappy that most Muslims have no dimensions of their mind and that the Prophet of Islam left behind men who know not what defeat is. The world has yet to see true Muslims and wolves respect a lion’s iron slap.  The threat posed to India by Al-Qaeda is real and not imaginary.  There is proper planning at the level of Al-Qaeda top cadres of dragging India to the vortex of disaster and mayhem. We have noted that Al-Qaeda operations depend on local support structure to a large extent. Wherever it is denied or difficult to accede, Al-Qaeda had no option but to retrace its steps. The question is how seriously Indian government looks at the threats and the vast mechanism behind it and to what extent is it prepared to face the challenge.

Top India-US army officials meet in Chandimandir
March 22nd, 2010  Chandigarh,
March 22 (IANS) To coordinate joint training events between the Indian and United States armies, senior US and Indian army officials met at the Western Command headquarters at the Chandimandir cantonment, 15 km from here, Monday.  The four-day 14th annual meeting of the Indo-US Army Executive Steering Group (ESG) will conclude March 26.  The 14-member US delegation is led by Lt. Gen. Benjamin Randy Nixon, Commanding General of the US Army-Pacific.  ESG meetings between both countries are held at venues, alternating between India and the US, to coordinate various joint training events between the two armies.  Gen Nixon met Western Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shankar Ranjan Ghosh, and interacted on various aspects of common interest.  The US team met their Indian counterparts led by Lt. Gen. A.S. Sekhon, Director General Military Operations (DGMO).  The ESG reviewed the progress made in Indo-US military cooperation through events in 2009 and reached an agreement on the training cooperation events to be conducted in 2010.

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