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Friday, 30 April 2010

From Today's Papers - 30 Apr 2010

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Sukna: Court of inquiry over Gen Prakash can leave Kolkata
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, April 29 The court of inquiry that had reassembled to cross-examine certain witnesses in the Sukna land controversy near Darjeeling is finally over. The Tribunal yesterday also allowed former Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash to leave Kolkata.  Gen Prakash is one of the senior-most generals held blameworthy of professional impropriety in a case pertaining to issuing of no-objection certificates to private realtors to build educational institutions over a 70-acre plot adjacent to the Sukna military station near Darjeeling. The three others indicted by an inquiry court for their involvement are Lt Gen Rath, Lt Gen Halgali and Maj Gen Sen.  Gen Prakash had moved the Armed Forces Tribunal against the COI based upon which court martial proceedings were initiated against him and some others. The case had come up for hearing before the tribunal's principal bench yesterday.  Stating that since all witnesses had been cross-examined by the delinquent and written statements had already been submitted, Gen Prakash's counsel sought that he now be allowed to leave Kolkata. The bench observed that since the COI was complete, no useful purpose would be served in detaining Gen Prakash at Kolkata, but directed he may be summoned back at any time for further proceedings as and when required.  Earlier, Gen Prakash had moved the tribunal alleging that there were procedural irregularities in the court's conduct and he was not given the opportunity to cross-examine some key witnesses.

India rolls out first indigenous stealth warship
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  Mumbai , April 29 India has effected a generational shift in its warship-building capability by commissioning INS Shivalik — the first indigenously built stealth frigate that is the biggest in its class in the world. The ship, which is 143 metres long, can tactically fire weapons even before the enemy detects it.  The hard-to-detect warship will form a crucial component of the Indian Navy. It is equipped with a mix of Indian, Russian, Israeli and western weapons and sensors.  INS Shivalik, the first of the three new stealth frigates for the Navy, was commissioned by Defence Minister AK Antony at the Mazagon Docks here today. Antony said the two other such ships — INS Satpura and the INS Sahayadari — would follow within 11 months. Each ship would carry on board long-range surface-to-surface Klub missiles, area defence missiles Shtil and Barak, anti-submarine torpedoes, 100 mm mounted gun and six-barrelled 30 mm gun. Ships like these would form the core of the India's battle fleet in the first half of this century.  A 250-member crew, including 35 officers, will man INS Shivalik. The new design features give the ship enhanced operational capabilities in terms of survivability, stealth, sea keeping, ship handling and weapons.  The sea king Choppers on board will carry torpedoes to target submarines which are out of the ship's ranges. It will have an array of sensors and an anti-missile defence for its own protection and also coordinate the firing of onboard weapons.  In future the Navy is looking to have a data exchange system with the IAF's Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). A system is being integrated with the AWACS to provide data that may be out of the range of the ship. This will provide an edge in firing of weapons.  The naval satellite to be launched in the near future will help this ship to coordinate with other ships in the fleet for firing of weapons and will form the network centric operations. The combat management system developed by the Bharat electronic systems will give the ship's captain a view of all weapons and data in one screen. For first time a battle-ready ship has been commissioned. Almost all the guns have been tested, the Commanding officer, Captain MD Suresh, said, adding that some of these were fired in the first test sortie with the ship builders on board.

Bullet-proof jackets scam: Babu endangered jawans
Press Trust of India, Thursday April 29, 2010, New Delhi A Delhi court on Thursday allowed CBI to quiz in custody a senior Home Ministry official and two others for two days for allegedly accepting Rs 10 lakh as bribe in the purchase of bullet-proof jackets for Central Police Forces.  "Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, I deem it proper that the accused are remanded to police custody in the interest of investigation," Additional Sessions Judge O P Saini said while sending the accused to CBI custody till May 1.  Radhey Shyam Sharma, a Indian Railway and Engineering Officer of 1984 batch and R K Gupta and his wife Laveena Gupta, both directors of a Delhi-based company involved in production of defence equipments, are booked under various penal provisions dealing with giving and accepting bribe, conspiracy and misconduct on the part of public servants.  Seeking custodial interrogation of the accused, the CBI prosecutor said "the bribe of Rs 10 lakh, given by Guptas to the MHA official, is still to be recovered and the accused are required to be taken outside Delhi for recovering crucial evidence and unearthing the entire case."  "We also want to ascertain as to whether some other officials of the ministry are involved in the scam or not? For this purpose, the custody of the accused is required," the prosecutor said.  Advocate Kishan Nautiyal, appearing for Guptas, opposed the CBI plea saying "it is an admitted fact that M/s Anjani Technoclass Ltd (of which the accused are directors) was not awarded the said contract by the MHA for supply of 59,000 bullet proof jackets."  R K Gupta, who also spoke in his defence, alleged he has been framed at the instance of the Home Minister as he had tried to expose the alleged "cartel" inside the ministry which award such contracts. "This is a revenge being taken by the Home Minister. I and my wife are the technocrats and were students of IITs. We are, in fact, the whistle blowers and forced to pay the price for it," R K Gupta said. "This is a bigger scam than the Bofors. We will have more (Hemant) Karkares if such elements are allowed to have their say in such decision-making process," the accused said.  The CBI prosecutor opposed the plea saying "we are not a puppet investigative agency. CBI does not work under the MHA and it carries on the probe independently." "We have got the CD of their taped conversation and this court can hear the same inside the chamber," the prosecutor said. "At one point of time, the accused is saying that he is a whistle blower and then he is paying bribe to the accused official," he said.  The court termed the offence as serious while allowing the CBI plea for custody of the accused. According to the CBI, the MHA official allegedly developed a "nexus" with some private firms, including that owned by the Gupta duo involved in the supply of 59,000 bullet-proof jackets for paramilitary forces.  Sharma has also been accused of favouring certain other private firms supplying security equipment such as armoured panels, bullet-proof jackets, helmets shields etc. The official established an "unauthorised" contact with the private firm and had been demanding and accepting illegal gratification in return for favours shown, CBI alleged.

India's first indigenous warship INS Shivalik commissioned
Nitin Gokhale, Thursday April 29, 2010, New Delhi grid-295-200_shivalk.jpgIt's a ship that is designed to escape detection by normal radars and surveillance equipment. Special aerodynamics, equipment and material used in designing and building these ships makes it very difficult to monitor their movements. That's why they are called 'stealth frigates.'  It's called the INS Shivalik, and it's the first ship built by India designed to escape detection by normal radars and surveillance equipment. India on Thursday stormed into an elite club of eight nations that build stealth warships with the commissioning of the first indigenous stealth frigate INS Shivalik, adding new fire power and muscle to its Navy.  Marking a 'red letter day' for the country, Defence Minister A K Antony launched the Rs 2,300 crore ship that has the capability to hoodwink enemy radars apart from having protection from nuclear-biological-chemical warfare.  "INS Shivalik's commissioning is a red letter day for the Indian Navy, armed forces, the government of India and the entire nation," Antony said, unveiling the pennant of the 6,200-tonne warship at the Mazagon Docks (MDL) here. Shivalik would be the first in the series of three frigates in this class.  Apart from India, only the US, Russia, UK, France, Sweden, Japan, Italy and China have the capability to build stealth warships of this size and class.  'Shivalik', which marks another move in securing India's sea lanes, is equipped with a judicious mix of imported and indigenous weapon systems and sensors, including Barak surface-to-air missiles and 'Shtil' air defence system. Antony said the indigenous content for the new frigate in terms of components was 80 per cent.  The MDL is building two other warships in this Shivalik series to be named INS Sayahdri and INS Satpura which would be commissioned by the end of this year and middle of next year respectively under Project-17. Seven more frigates would be built by the Defence PSU shipyard under a follow-on order, codenamed Project-17A very soon.  Antony said India's 7,500-km long coastline and maritime interests make it imperative to protect our mainland and also the sea lanes of communication. "With the commissioning of the frigate, I have no doubt our maritime interests are far more secure," he said. He said the security situation in and around India's neighbourhood posed many challenges and reiterated his call to the Navy to maintain high levels of operational readiness at all times.  He also referred, during his interaction with reporters, to the increased piracy in the Gulf of Aden,Seychelles and Mauritius seas to stress the need for a strong and potent navy to counter these threats. "In the coming years, protection of sea lanes is going to be a major challenge. So Indian Navy will have to perform its duty to protect our sea lanes," he said.

US: Pak moves 100,000 troops from border with India
Press Trust of India, Thursday April 29, 2010, Washington Pakistan has moved 100,000 troops from its borders with India, thinning the lines, to bolster its campaign against Taliban and other militants on its restive border with Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Thursday.       "More than 100,000 PAKMIL troops were moved from the eastern border with India. This unprecedented deployment and thinning of the lines against India indicates that Islamabad has acknowledged its domestic insurgent threat," the department said in its latest report on Afghanistan.      The Pentagon did not specify the regions' from where the troops had been pulled out, but said it estimated that more than 140,000 Pakistani forces were now taking part in the ongoing offensive against the Taliban in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal region, known as FATA.      The Pentagon report was issued hours before the crucial meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in the Bhutanese capital Thimphu on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit.      The US Defence Department while acknowledging that Pakistani military operations in tribal areas of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) had placed "a high degree of pressure on militants and reduced their safe havens", but was unlikely to have an immediate impact on the US-led war in Afghanistan.      The Pentagon report said that there was a broad syndicate of extremist groups operating in the Af-Pak region with multiple short and long term goals.      It identified the groups as Al Qaida, Tehreek-e-Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which it said threatened security of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and elsewhere.      "The three major groups include the Quetta Shura Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and the Haqqani Network (HQN). These groups cooperate and coordinate at times and their areas of operations tend to be geographically and demographically determined," it said.      "They operate mainly in the Pashtun-majority areas of Afghanistan in the south and east, and in Pashtun pockets in the north. The common goals of these groups are to expel foreign forces from Afghanistan (although there is no mention of foreign fighters allied with them or Al Qaida) and to undermine the central government," the report added.

Focus on China, not India-Pakistan rivalry
April 29, 2010 16:26 IST Tags: Happy South Asia, India, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, China, Bhutan Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment  The reach of China in other South Asian states has been extraordinary. India's [ Images ] protectionist tendencies have allowed China to don the mantle of regional economic leader. The sooner Indian policy makers realise this and take steps to redress this the better, writes Harsh V Pant.  Established in 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is having its 16th summit meeting in Thimpu, Bhutan, which started on Wednesday. Apart from the fact that Bhutan will be hosting its first SAARC summit, there is hardly anything that inspires confidence in this largely moribund organisation that is also celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding.  Covering at least 1.5 billion people across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka [ Images ], Bhutan, Maldives [ Images ] and Afghanistan, SAARC is one of the largest regional organisations in the world. But its achievements so far have been so minimal that even its constituents have become lackadaisical in their attitudes towards it.  The state of regional cooperation in South Asia can be gleaned from the fact that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [ Images ] reached Bhutan via Nepal, using Chinese territory in Tibet [ Images ] rather than the straightforward route through India.  Bhutan has chosen climate change as the theme of the summit, and the eight-nation grouping is likely to deliver a silver jubilee declaration entitled 'Towards a Green and Happy South Asia'. The focus, however, is likely to be on the agreement on trade in services to be signed during the summit.  Intra-regional trade in South Asia remains far below potential despite the member states signing the South Asian Free Trade Agreement that came into force in 2006.  For long, the dominant narrative of SAARC has been how the India-Pakistan rivalry hampers its evolution into anything of significance. That is now rapidly losing its salience with China's growing dominance of the South Asian landscape. China entered SAARC as an observer in 2005, supported by most member states. India could do little about it and so acquiesced. Now, much to India's consternation, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal are supporting China's full membership in SAARC.  China's rising profile in South Asia is no news. What is astonishing is the diminishing role of India and the rapidity with which New Delhi [ Images ] is ceding strategic space to Beijing [ Images ] on the subcontinent. Even as China is becoming the largest trade partner of most states in South Asia, including India, New Delhi is busy repeating the old mantra of South Asia being India's exclusive sphere of influence. Of course, no one even takes note of it anymore.  Pakistan's all-weather friendship with China is well-known, but the reach of China in other South Asian states has been extraordinary. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka view India as more interested in creating barriers against their exports than in spurring regional economic integration. India's protectionist tendencies have allowed China to don the mantle of regional economic leader. Instead of India emerging as facilitator of socio-economic development in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, it is China's developmental assistance that's having a larger impact.  India's attempts to keep China out of the subcontinent have clearly not worked, and it's time to re-evaluate its South Asia policy. China's strategy towards South Asia is premised on encircling India and confining her within the geographical coordinates of the region.  This strategy of using proxies started with Pakistan and has gradually evolved to include other states in the region, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. It is entering markets in South Asia more aggressively through both trade and investment, improving linkages with South Asian states through treaties and bilateral cooperation. Following this up by building a ring of road and port connections in India's neighbourhood and deepening military engagements with states on India's periphery, China has firmly entrenched itself in India's backyard.  This quiet assertion of China has allowed various smaller countries of South Asia to play China off against India. Most states in the region now use the China card to balance against the predominance of India. Forced to exist between their two giant neighbours, the smaller states have responded by a careful balancing act.  India's structural dominance in South Asia makes it a natural target of resentment among its smaller neighbours. Yet there is no hope for regional economic cooperation in the absence of Indian leadership. The failure of India in countering China's rise has made it even more unlikely that such cooperation will evolve productively.  As the two regional giants compete with each other in the near future, they will be more focused on their relative gains vis-à-vis each other than in the absolute gain that regional cooperation can bestow.  Liberals in South Asia have long taken their inspiration from the extraordinary developments in the European Union, arguing that South Asia can also go down a similar path of regional economic and political cooperation. However, that's a fundamentally flawed comparison.  The states in Western Europe could arrive at the EU only after resolving their persistent security dilemmas. And the US security umbrella continues to ensure that European political rivalries do not raise their ugly heads again.  In South Asia, the security dynamics between a large India and its smaller neighbours ensures that the road to economic and political cooperation will be a bumpy one. And after the emergence of China, that road will be an even more difficult one traverse.

Army gets six more weeks to complete all process in Sukna case
Press Trust of India / New Delhi April 29, 2010, 12:02 IST  The Armed Forces Tribunal has granted a six-week extension to the Army to complete "all the process" in the Sukna land scam case, a week after the two-month deadline given by it lapsed.  The Tribunal yesterday also allowed former Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, against whom a Court of Inquiry (COI) in the case was recently completed at the Eastern Army Command, to leave Kolkata.  Agreeing with the Army's reasons for not being able to complete the proceedings in the case within the given time-frame, the two-member Bench headed by Justice A K Mathur said, "As matter has been litigating before the Honourable Supreme Court, therefore, direction given by this Tribunal to dispose of the matter within time-frame could not be done.  "Let the respondents (Army) complete all the process within further six weeks," it said.      While ordering reconvening of the COI against Prakash in the Sukna land scam case on February 22, the Tribunal had given two months time to Army to complete the proceedings and allowed the former Military Secretary to cross-examine six witnesses, who had deposed against him in the case without being cross-examined.      After the AFT order, Prakash had petitioned the Supreme Court to quash the proceedings against him in the case, which was rejected.      Granting permission to Prakash to leave Kolkata, the Tribunal said, "Since the COI is complete, no useful purpose will be served in detaining delinquent Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash at Kolkata. He may be permitted to leave Kolkata and may be summoned back at any time by the respondents/applicant (Army) for further proceeding of the matter as and when required."      The six witnesses cross-examined by Prakash are Lt Gen P K Rath, Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali, Maj Gen P C Sen, Col N K Dabas, Lt Col Jiji Verghese and Naib Subedar Surjit Singh.      Four generals including Lt Gen Prakash, Lt Gen Rath,, Lt Gen Halgali and Maj Gen Sen were indicted by a COI for their roles in issuing no-objection certificates to private realtors to build educational institutions at a 70-acre plot of land adjacent to the Sukna military station in West Bengal.

Winning Wars: political will is the key - Defence Secretary 
(interview with Indian Defence Review)  "President Mahinda Rajapaksa took several brave decisions. In the final analysis, it was the cumulative effect of those decisive, brave decisions that enabled Sri Lankan Armed Forces (SLAF) to liquidate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)"  - Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary, Sri Lanka -  Sri Lanka's Master Strategist, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, reveals to the Indian Defence Review the key decisions of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) that led to the successful completion of SLAF's combat operations against the LTTE. The Intangibles  Gotabaya said: "Usually in a military operation the world outside the conflict theatre, domestic and international, see only soldiers fighting. They see tanks, guns, armoured vehicles, artillery weapons and men and women in battle fatigues. What is not visible to the people, to the outside world, is the strategy. What is also not visible immediately and also not recalled at that moment in time is the history that led to the current context of military operations. What was that context? Eight previous governments led by four different Presidents had failed to end the war. They had failed to rein in the LTTE. It is not as if those eight governments and four Presidents did not have under their command good military leaders and soldiers. In fact, when President Rajapaksa's government assumed charge in 2005, around 26,000 SLAF soldiers had already sacrificed their lives." The Calculus of Political Will  Political will is the supreme commander. That is, in effect, what Gotabaya emphasizes. In fact, he points to the successful Operation Liberation or Vadamarachchi Operation from May to June 1987 and Operation Riviresa from October to December 1995 to suggest that there was no deficiency in the SLAF. The Vadamarachchi Operation led to the recapture the Vadamarachchi region in Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE control. This was SLAF's first conventional combat engagement in Sri Lankan soil after the British colonial rule. During Operation Riviresa (Operation Sun Rays) the SLAF launched a successful assault to wrest control of Jaffna and rest of the Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE. Using these past examples, Gotabaya, explains that if at all there was any deficiency then it was on account of inadequate, lax and effete political will.  Mr Gotabaya added: "When President Rajapaksa assumed office in 2005 we studied all previous war operations: Eelam War I (1976-1987); Vadamarachchi Operation; IPKF intervention; Eelam War II (1990-1995); Operation Sea Breeze; Operation Thrividha Balaya; Operation Balavegaya I, II; Eelam War III (1995-2002); Operation Riviresa; Operation Jayasikurui; Operation Rivibala; Operation Ranagosa; Operation Rivikirana; and Operation Kinihira I, II, III/IV, V/VI, VII, VIII, IX.  "The objective of our study was to arrive at conclusive reasons for our previous failures to comprehensively finish the war against the LTTE in the last 30 years. All four previous Presidents had resorted to military means and yet had failed. So a political decision was made by President Rajapaksa to comprehensively study all previous war operations and arrive at a solution for every factor of failure or inability to win to the war. For every factor we found a solution," said Mr Gotabaya. Numbers Make A Difference  "We found that there was really no 'failure factor' attached to the military. In fact, we realized a simple fact in 2005, that if we launched war operations against the LTTE then we would have to fight with the same military that had fought the LTTE in the last 30 years. We were confident of winning with the same military and its Special Forces and commandos. They were already there! Yet, what explained the inability of the previous governments led by four different Presidents to utilize the country's military strength effectively? We came to the conclusion that the solution was to increase the force strength. The key factor of SLAF's previous inability to finish the war was inadequate numbers. We realized the expansion of military would have a definitive impact on LTTE." Gotabaya revealed to IDR that, therefore, the second decisive political decision was to expand the SLAF.  Also Read The Subverted Indo-Bangladesh Border Holding the Ground is Critical to Military Success  President Rajapaksa and his advisors detailed and nuanced study of previous war operations was marked by two defining characteristics. One was attention to detail and the second was their ability to quickly arrive at a clutter-free decision. The third important political decision was a natural corollary of the imperative to expand the SLAF. "We realized that all previous operations had failed to hold the ground in the immediate aftermath of battlefield success. President Rajapaksa, therefore, made a political commitment to ensure that his government will find the resources to expand the SLAF to ensure that there were enough armed forces personnel available to hold the ground." Multiple Front Operations  Gotabaya says the decision to increase numbers actually enabled the SLAF to address two previous 'failure factors'. The first has already been discussed. The second was the previous inability of the SLAF to conduct war operations on a broad front and operate simultaneously across multiple frontlines. "When we cleared the Eastern Province, the LTTE said they were not defeated and that its forces had merely staged a tactical withdrawal. The LTTE was confident that the SLAF will not have the troop strength to hold the ground in the Eastern Province. Like all earlier occasions the LTTE believed that if it opened sporadic operations along the Northern Frontlines then the SLAF will be forced to redeploy enabling LTTE to regain ground in the East. Several opposition party leaders, too, openly declared that the military operations in the East will not be sustainable. We lulled everyone into believing that the previous status quo will prevail - that the SLAF will fight and win, then the LTTE will open a new front, and the SLAF will redeploy and fail to hold ground and consolidate in the areas where they had attained victory - this would enable LTTE to regain control over lost areas. Little did the LTTE know that we had prepared a new war doctrine! That we were indeed prepared to fight war on a broad front, along multiple frontlines." The fourth political calculus of a military victory was President Rajapaksa's decision to back the formulation of the SLAF's new war doctrine. Re-invent the Role of the Navy and the Air Force  Gotabaya says that smaller countries with smaller armies must re-invent the role of the Navy and the Air Force. "We had taken the decision to increase the numbers, but we knew it couldn't happen overnight. So we decided to re-invent the role of the Navy and the Air Force by taking them out of their classical roles and deploying them in ground roles as well. We trained them for ground roles. So, overnight our strength to hold the ground increased. We used the Special Task Force for the same purpose. (The Special Task Force is the Para-Military arm of the Sri Lanka Police, deployed essentially for counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations within the country. They are also deployed for close protection Units, providing security for VIP's and key installations). We also used the Sri Lanka Police Units to buffer the strength of our combined forces deployed to hold the ground."  "We also raised a new 42,000 strong para-military unit, the Civil Defence Force. We recruited able bodied men from villages threatened by the LTTE, trained them, provided these recruits with automatic weapons. Their task was to defend their villages from LTTE counter-attacks. In fact, within two weeks in the last month of the war (May 2009) in the summer of 2009 we inducted 5,000 Civil Defence Force members into the Army."  This was the fifth critical political decision that influenced the course of Eelam IV and put the SLAF on a clear trajectory of military success. This decision enabled the SLAF to single-mindedly focus on the war in the northern jungles against the LTTE. "We were able to operate on a broad front. We had the tactical freedom and maneuverability to surround the LTTE from multiple directions. The re-invention of the roles of the Navy, Air Force and Police Units gave us the breathing space to induct and train the new SLAF recruits. With combined forces holding ground in the East and with the SLAF dedicating itself to operations along multiple Northern Frontlines, we not only mounted pressure on the LTTE, but also ensured that we could secure time-bound expansion of the SLAF. We were forming new battalions, new task forces by adding 5,000 troops every month. We tripled the strength of the Army from 100,000 to 300,000 in three years. In fact, in the 1980s the strength of the military (Army, Navy and Air Force) was 30,000. In 2005 when President Rajapaksa assumed charge the strength was 125,000. Between 2005 and 2009 the figure swelled to 450,000 out of which 300,000 is the strength of the Army. This increase in numbers enabled us to quickly replace those injured in the battlefield. It helped us to ensure adequate rest and rehabilitation for our troops. It helped us to mount military pressure on the LTTE." The Supreme Commander of the Military does not Wear Battle Fatigues, He Displays Political Will  Finally, the battlefield commander fights to win the battle. But it's the political will that determines success or failure in war. If the battlefield commander is let down by lack of political will or consensus, victory is impossible to achieve. "These decisions were taken by the Supreme Commander, the President of Sri Lanka and not by the Army Chief or Battlefield Commanders. It is the Head of State who can decide the course and trajectory of war operations," says Gotabaya. "All the four previous Presidents could not take bold decisions. They were indecisive and were afraid that bold decisions might negatively impact our small economy. They were afraid that our country's economy could not sustain such a large expansion of the SLAF. In fact, the previous Presidents and political leaders were genuinely apprehensive of a rapid military expansion and its possible impact on the polity." "I remember distinctly the Security Council meeting in Colombo in 2005. I told the President that we must expand the Army by 50,000 as soon as possible. This was mandatory to win the war. The President immediately issued a directive that if that was required to finish the war for once and all times to come we must make the necessary allocation right away. It is this on the spot, tough decision-making that finally led us to victory."  Gotabaya says that he along with SLAF top brass 'read' and analysed the war operations every hour, every day. "I could understand and gauge the need and requirements. Any military commander will ask for everything, every possible weapon, every possible inventory. My job was to understand the priorities, rationally organize those priorities in terms of what was really required for victory and flush out needs and requirements that had zero relevance to our objectives. "When you go home, tell them of us that we gave our today, for their tomorrow" is the political mantra that fires the military imagination.  "President Rajapaksa was determined to single-handedly absorb the pressure of deaths and causalities," says Gotabaya. This seventh political decision made all difference for the SLAF. "In three and half years nearly 6,000 soldiers were killed. You can imagine the political pressure on the President when body-bags come home from the battlefield. The President was determined to absorb the political pressure generated by battlefield casualties. He committed his Presidency and his government to achieving the objective of winning the war. He demonstrated his courage to continue the war till the military objectives were completely attained. This is what made him different from all previous Presidents. After all, the President is responsible to the people and the fact is that he needs the support of the people to be elected back to power. He knew that he was risking his political career because any other President in his place would have succumbed to the enormous political pressure created by mounting casualties in war operations."  Also Read Interview with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary, Sri Lanka  "The Muhamalai debacle of April 23, 2008 in which 120 soldiers were killed by the LTTE in just one day could have shaken up any other President. In fact, in this case the LTTE took away the dead bodies of the soldiers. Any other President would have doubted. But President Rajapaksa did not waver from the objective his government had set at the very outset. The war must be won. Not for a single moment in the three and half years of the war did he unplug himself from taking stock of the war operations. Every Wednesday he attended Security Council meetings from morning till evening. He followed every operational development closely. He was, therefore, able to take correct and timely decisions. He knew we were on the correct track." The India Factor  "President Rajapaksa clearly outlined the India Factor at the very outset as a key strategic factor that could either influence victory or bring defeat," says Gotabaya. "The President realized that keeping India aligned with us was important. Our study of previous war operations led us to examine in detail the reasons why we could not sustain the successful Vadamarachchi Operations of 1987." Brigadier Denzil Kobbekaduwa and Colonel Vijaya Wimalaratne, two SLAF war heroes in the annals of Sri Lanka's military history had assured the then President, Junius Richard Jayewardene and the then minister of National Security Lalith Athulathmudali that the LTTE will be militarily defeated. But the Government of India intervened through Operation Poomalia, which involved the Indian Air Force air dropping food packets over Jaffna on June 4, 1987. Jayawardene buckled under Indian pressure which led to the signing of the India-Sri Lanka Accord and the entry of Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in the island nation.  "President Rajapaksa decided that he would consciously go out of his way to keep New Delhi aligned to Colombo's military objectives in its battle with the LTTE. He did not want a repeat of Operation Vadamarachchi. During the course of the three and half years of war between 2005 and 2009, there were several instances where India could have forced us to stop the operations. We did not allow such a situation to arise because we kept New Delhi briefed properly. We realized that the UPA government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh was a coalition government and so the Congress Party was sensitive to the concerns of its coalition partner, primarily the DMK. We realized the sensitivity of the issue with regard to civilian causalities in Tamil Nadu. So President Rajapaksa ensured that he briefed the Indian leadership. We also ensured that our line communications were open at all times. From our side Basil Rajapaksa (Senior Advisor to the President and Member of Parliament), Lalith Weeratunga (Permanent Secretary to the President) and myself interacted extensively with MK Narayanan (former National Security Advisor, India and now Governor of West Bengal), Shiv Shankar Menon (former Foreign Secretary, India and now National Security Advisor) and Vijay Singh (former Defence Secretary and now Member, Union Public Service Commission). Between the six of us we had continuous dialogues. Whenever there was a sensitive issue, we met and discussed and resolved it. This helped the SLAF to continue its military operations absolutely unhindered."  "A day before the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi went on a fast on April 27, 2009 at the Anna Memorial in Chennai protesting against the SLAF offensive against the LTTE, Menon called me on my cell phone at 4.30 pm. The Indian team wanted to visit Colombo for urgent talks. I went straight to the President's office and got his sanction and called Menon back within five minutes. Within six hours of Karunanidhi going on fast we could defuse the crisis in Tamil Nadu by issuing a statement announcing the end of combat operations and shelling inside the 'No Fire Zone', which led to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister ending his fast. This was a classic example of quiet, corrective diplomacy between two officially designated government teams."  "The manner in which President Rajapaksa tackled India was a key factor of our military success. We knew that only India influences us militarily. India is a huge power in our neighbourhood and our proximity to Tamil Nadu with 60 million Tamils sensitive to what's going on in Sri Lanka made the situation extremely complex for us. We knew that while other countries could or would resort to economic sanctions, only India had the power to militarily influence the course of our war operations. So it is to the credit of President Rajapaksa that he was successful in keeping New Delhi aligned with Colombo's military objectives." Military Victory is Dependent on Public Goodwill  Gotabaya says the ninth decisive political decision was to ensure sustenance of the war operations tempo by forging public goodwill. "The President repeatedly emphasized in almost all national security council meetings that sustaining a war campaign over a long period of time will require public support. He directed his government officers and ministers to ensure public support for the war campaign. Public support was also critical to ensuring that we succeeded in getting new recruits for the SLAF. 'Let's not use war as an excuse for failing to provide good governance and undertaking development activities'. That was his clear one line directive. Therefore, even as the war campaign continued in the North, the government embarked on mega development projects in other parts of the country. The government also became one of the biggest employers in the country by recruiting for various public sector enterprises. In the course of the three and half years of the war, the President also effected a pay hike for public sector and government employees. He managed the economy in such a manner that he did not allow the public support for the war campaign to diminish." Political Stability is Vital for Military Focus  The final political decision was an internal political choice that President Rajapaksa made. In 2005 when he took over as President he was entrusted with the responsibility of stitching together a coalition alliance to ensure political stability. This factor led to his decision to create a jumbo cabinet. He increased the cabinet, the biggest in Sri Lanka's history, by providing positions to leaders from all political parties in the coalition alliance. "His only condition was that he wanted a stable government till the end of the war," says Gotabaya.

Pakistan moves 100,000 troops from border with India: Pentagon
PTI, Apr 29, 2010, 12.31pm IST Article Comments (123)
WASHINGTON: Pakistan has moved 100,000 troops from its borders with India, thinning the lines, to bolster its campaign against Taliban and other militants on its restive border with Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Thursday.  The mass shifting of troops is an acknowledgement of the fact that terrorism and internal insurgency were posing more threat to Pakistan now, the Pentagon said in a report to the US Congress.  "More than 100,000 PAKMIL troops were moved from the eastern border with India. This unprecedented deployment and thinning of the lines against India indicates that Islamabad has acknowledged its domestic insurgent threat," the department said in its latest report on Afghanistan.  The Pentagon did not specify the regions' from where the troops had been pulled out, but said it estimated that more than 140,000 Pakistani forces were now taking part in the ongoing offensive against the Taliban in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal region, known as FATA.  The Pentagon report was issued hours before the crucial meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani in the Bhutanese capital Thimphu on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit.  The US Defence Department while acknowledging that Pakistani military operations in tribal areas of NWFP had placed "a high degree of pressure on militants and reduced their safe havens", but was unlikely to have an immediate impact on the US-led war in Afghanistan.  The Pentagon report said that there was a broad syndicate of extremist groups operating in the AfPak region with multiple short and long term goals.  It identified the groups as al-Qaida, Tehreek-e-Taliban and Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT) which it said threatened security of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and elsewhere.  "The three major groups include the Quetta Shura Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and the Haqqani Network (HQN). These groups cooperate and coordinate at times and their areas of operations tend to be geographically and demographically determined," it said.  "They operate mainly in the Pashtun-majority areas of Afghanistan in the south and east, and in Pashtun pockets in the north. The common goals of these groups are to expel foreign forces from Afghanistan (although there is no mention of foreign fighters allied with them or al-Qaida) and to undermine the central government," the report added.  Pentagon said Pakistan military crackdown so far has focussed only on internal threats, but outlined that these could be more productive depending on how they evolve in future.  It acknowledged that Pak military had suffered attacks from terrorists in response to its successful operations.  "These attacks include mass casualty events in Mingora, SWA (South Waziristan Agency) -- close to clearing operations -- as well as in Lahore, far away from the fighting.  "While these attacks do not appear to have shaken Pakistan's commitment, they do demonstrate, for the time being, insurgent ability to continue attacks despite reported successful PAKMIL operations," said the report which runs into nearly 150 pages.  According to the report, Pak Military is beginning to acknowledge the ties and threats posed by Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.  "The Pakistani operations have focused almost exclusively on internal threats. These operations reduce the space available to all insurgent and extremists groups," it said.  "While this evolving approach is unlikely to have significant impact on the Afghan insurgency in the short term, it offers opportunities in coming months to have a greater impact on the conflict in Afghanistan, depending on how PAKMIL operations evolve," the report said.  Despite discussions regarding the possibility of transfer of Afghan Taliban captured in Pakistan to Afghanistan, most notably Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, no transfers have taken place, it said.  The PAKMIL has also offered to provide military training to Afghan army and security personnel. The Afghan Ministry of Defence (MoD) is reviewing the offer, but is evaluating it cautiously based on Afghan Government political concerns, the report said.  "In conjunction with ISAF's Operation MOSHTARAK, the Pakistan military has maintained an increased presence along Afghanistan's southern border.  "Pakistan reports these operations have succeeded in extending the writ of the Pakistan Government within the area including the former insurgent stronghold of Damadola, native home of Maulana Faqir Muhummad," it said.

Guarding India's sea more challenging post-26/11: Antony
Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday said that in the aftermath of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack, the challenge to guard India's sea lanes has increased considerably.  Speaking after the commissioning of the INS Shivalik, country's first indigenous stealth frigate here, Antony said the Indian Navy's challenge to protect the country's sea lanes has increased as the situation across the region is becoming more and more tenuous and dangerous.  "Sea routes in the past also faced threats, now after 26/11 Mumbai attacks, security situation around us and the Indian Ocean and far-off, it is becoming more and more sensitive," Antony said.  He underlined that piracy is fast becoming a menace in the high seas of the region, and said the Indian Navy must be prepared to take on the challenge with full force in order to protect commercial interests also.  " The Indian Navy will have to perform its duty to protect our sea lanes. India's foreign trade is expanding substantially every year. It will have to look after ways and means to protect commercial interests also," Antony said.  Antony noted that with the changing scenario and increasing challenges, the modernisation of the naval force is also very important, and added that the government is aware of its responsibilities in this regard.  "It is our duty to give all our support to the Indian Navy to strengthen maritime security. We are going to acquire more destroyers and frigates for the Indian Navy. So, I am confident that with all these modern equipments and other support, the Navy would not only be able to protect our sea lanes but also others if it is necessary for India's national interest," he said.  Highlighting the importance of the INS Shivalik, the largest stealth frigate in the world, Antony said more than 60 percent of the components fitted in the brand new warship is indigenous, which is a great achievement in itself.  "The importance of this ship is that it is the first Indian made ship of its kind, having more than 60 per cent of indigenous components," he said.

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