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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 12 May 2010

Artillery gun trials from month-end
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, May 11 The shortage of artillery guns in the Army is to be a thing of the past. Field trials to test the guns of two of the worlds leading gun-makers will commence at the shooting ranges in Rajasthan at the end of this month.  According to sources in the Defence Ministry, a 155-mm gun, which is the backbone of artillery, has to be purchased immediately. One of the two guns, meeting the general staff qualitative requirement (GSQR), has to be selected and there will be no waiting. The selection system would be transparent, sources said.  Since 2002, India has conducted trials for the 155-mm gun at least four times. However, each time the nation has shied away from purchasing the gun. The shadow of the AB Bofors gun deal done in late 1980’s loomed large and held back the bureaucracy and politicos from taking a decision, maintains a top source.  Trials will be conducted in deserts and mountains. The summer phase could start anytime between May 25 and 30. The maximum daytime temperature will play a major role in making that decision as the gun has to be tested for withstanding heat. The Army needs around 1,580 155-mm guns and is looking at a 52 calibre bore — that is heavier and fires longer than the 39 calibre being used now.  The guns being considered for the purpose are IFH-2000, developed by Singapore Technologies Kinetics. The company has Punj Lloyd as its Indian partner. Its competitor is British company BAE Systems’ FH-77B-05. They have Mahindra and Mahindra as their Indian partner. The guns of both companies have reached India and are ready to fire. Notably, the BAE has bought over the Swedish gun-maker AB Bofors and now owns that technology.  Chief of Indian Army Gen VK Singh elaborated on the urgency and importance of the artillery guns this morning saying “… battlefield environment of the future may entail short, swift and violent engagement … warfare requires application of firepower extending into the depth of enemy territory”. He was speaking at the start of two-day seminar on artillery technology organised by the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) here.

Work along China border gets priority Govt nod for all-weather road to Leh
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, May 11 Defence Minister AK Antony today announced that an all-weather road from Manali to Leh would be constructed as part of the long-term plan to ramp up infrastructure along the China border. At present Leh, located in southeastern Ladakh, is cut off from the rest of the country for a good eight months and the area has to rely on IAF transport planes for its supplies.  Antony told the parliamentary consultative committee attached to his ministry that as part of the first phase of its long-term perspective plan, the Border Road Organisation (BRO) would construct 61 roads along the India-China border. These would have a total length of more than 3,400 km.  Another 255 roads with a total length of 10,100 km, an all-weather road to Leh as well as an 8.8-km-long Rohtang Tunnel are part of the second phase of the plan. Construction on the Rohtang tunnel will start in July.  Antony said the government was considering setting up a body on the lines of the BRO that would construct roads in areas that are not strategic in nature or do not fall on the border.  To speed up matters, the BRO had been asked to outsource the job of airlifting machinery and material to difficult terrains as the Indian Air Force in this regard was overstretched. The minister said the BRO had also been directed to focus on strategic infrastructures in border areas and not diffuse their resources in other states for the time being.  The BRO was in the process of considerable transformation and modernisation, Antony told the committee.

Pak needs to do more to ensure India and US' safety: Roemer
NDTV Correspondent, Tuesday May 11, 2010, New Delhi
A day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rapped Pakistan for not revealing enough on Osama bin Laden, comes another strong message for Pakistan. US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer has said that Pakistan needs to do more to ensure that India and America are safe.  "While Pakistan has done a lot, they need to do more to ensure India and US are safe," Roemer said. He said that the US is strongly urging Pakistan to take on the extremist threat.  He also said that US is cooperating at the highest level to provide India access to 26/11 accused David Headley.   "We work together in historic ways on providing access to people like David Headley where the US is cooperating at the highest level to eventually provide access to this person who helped pull off the savagery of the attack on Mumbai on 26/11," Roemer told reporters after paying tributes to the 26/11 attack martyrs at Marine Drive in Mumbai.  "We have been providing indirect access to sharing intelligence for months about that acquired information and now the door is open. The opportunity is there for India in the weeks ahead to get direct access in the appropriate way and appropriate time to David Headley," Roemer said.  To a query about India's concerns over alleged diversion of US aid to Pakistan to fund terror activities directed against the country, Roemer said, "We will ensure that the US aid to Pakistan is used in an appropriate manner."  On the scheduled meeting of foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in mid-July, he said, "It is important that India and Pakistan talk."  "President (Barack) Obama requested me that we show respect to the great people of India, to the 18 police officers who gave lives for their country," Roemer said, explaining the reason for his visit to the 26/11 martyrs' memorial, erected outside the Police Gymkhana.  Roemer said two policemen had laid down their lives in the US while protecting those working at the Capitol Hill during an attack.  India is one of the most indispensable allies to the United States, Roemer said.  "When we sought access to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, we could not get it," he said, apparently referring to how difficult at times it was to secure access to those accused of involvement in international terror plots.  Roemer also spoke of his interaction with residents of Dharavi slum in central Mumbai this afternoon.

Chidambaram rules out military operations against Naxals
Press Trust of India, Tuesday May 11, 2010, New Delhi
Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday ruled out military operations as an option to tackle the Maoist menace and said it is a matter of "ethical consideration" not to do so.  "Sri Lanka might have used the military to tackle the LTTE but we in India can't do that. We ought not try this in India," he said.  Chidambaram said referring to the Maoist menace as one of the three major internal security threats plaguing the country.  The Home Minister said "we may have the capability but we ought not do it."  Pointing at the terror threats from jihadi forces, he said the idea of cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan needed to be redefined as the terrorists also took inspiration from the Middle East.  "It (jihadi terrorism) is not just from across the border in Pakistan but extends beyond to the Middle East also. We have to redefine what cross-border terrorism means," Chidambaram said at a book release function here.  He said insurgency in the Northeast was the third internal threat but added that it was almost under control.  India had the means to "contain, control and resolve" the insurgency in the Northeastern states and Maoist menace in Central India but religious terrorism would never be under control, he said pointing out that there were new dimensions of terror groups such as from Hindu fundamentalist and to a small extent from the Sikh groups.  Chidambaram said Naxalism was a problem that was within control, but the means to contain it was still being debated by the government.  "It is a good debate. At the end of it, we will choose a path. Hopefully, we will come out with the right path," he said.  Noting that government was to survive and also get re-elected, the Home Minister said the bureaucracy was bound by various factors when it decides on a path to tackle issues such as Maoism.  "It could be a right or a wrong course. It is a fact that policy itself will impact the scenario," he added.

Three terrorists killed in Kashmir encounter
May 12, 2010 04:34 IST Tags: north Kashmir, Sozipora, Rashtriya Rifles, Kupwara, Handwara Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment Three militants and a soldier were killed and another trooper wounded in a daylong encounter in the Sozipora village near Handwara in north Kashmir's [ Images ] Kupwara district.  A senior police officer said troops of counter insurgency Rashtriya Rifles (RR) and police surrounded a house in the Sozipora village on Tuesday morning, following information about the presence of a group of heavily armed militants inside it.  "As the hiding militants were challenged to surrender they opened fire triggering an encounter at the end of which three militants were killed," the officer said.  "A rifleman of the Rashtriya Rifles was killed and another critically wounded in the encounter." He said arms and ammunition were also recovered from the encounter site. "Security forces are still busy searching the area," he added.

Pakistan’s expectations from West
Mahmood Hussain  Reports from Washington and European capitals speak of growing understanding about problems faced by Pakistan because of its strategic and crucial role in the war against extremism and terrorism. The problem that confront Islamabad include economic as well as defensive in nature. In doing so, senior US officials had recognized Pakistan’s concerns about India and conceded that Washington’s growing ties with New Delhi were a cause of concern for Islamabad. But Pakistan would be more than satisfied in case the United States of America adopts a realistic policy and use its ties with New Delhi for the promotion of peace in South Asia and conflict resolution in he region. In this connection the latest observations of the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is satisfying when he said that India restarted talks with Pakistan because of the pressure exerted by United States and European Union.  But statement of the foreign minister assuring the US and also India that civil and military aid including unarmed drones when supplied to Pakistan would not be used against India. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the military equipment that we are getting from the United States should not worry India, because it is meant for counter-terrorism and to enhance our capacity to fight terrorist networks. But what would happen in case the terrorism came through India as it had been taking place in case of Balochistan? However the positive realizations that are pouring in from the west is because of the restoration of democracy in the country and sincerity of the democratic government in carrying forward economic activity speedily and fight out extremism and terrorism.  It is also because of the repeated calls by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to the international community to do more for peace and development of the people of Pakistan severely affected by militancy and terror. The latest positive gestures had come from the US Under Secretary of Defence Michele Flournoy and the American Ambassador in Islamabad Anne W Patterson. Addressing a meeting in Washington Michele Flournoy said that continued funding both in military and civilian fields is essential for Pakistan to counter insurgency operation. She said the United States had assured full support to meet energy and water requirements of Pakistan.  She said Obama administration is working on a plan to provide helicopters to Pak army. It had already refurbished Russian made MI-17 helicopters being used by the security forces in Pakistan. Under Secretary Flournoy and other US officials who spoke recently to the House Armed Services Committee urged lawmakers to provide funding for billions of dollars of planned US military and civilian aid to Pakistan during the next five years.  Addressing a dinner in Lahore Ambassador Anne W. Patterson said approval from the Congress is being sought for the reconstruction opportunity zones in Pakistan. She said the American Business Forum is working actively to promote trade, commerce and business between Pakistan and the United States of America. The ambassador said US is also striving to ensure access of the Pakistani products in the markets of its friendly countries. These assertions and indications are encouraging but claims and promises have to be transformed into reality and there has to be sustainability in the policies. The people of Pakistan were justified in being suspicious over the years with regard to US and other western countries policies with regard to Pakistan. The country had to be reassured that as it combats the terrorist threat, it is not exposing itself to increased risk along its eastern border. The US is also expected to strengthen Islamabad’s conventional defense systems as well.  Although extremist attacks have led to the repositioning of substantial Pakistani forces, Pakistan’s strategic concerns about India remain pre-eminent. One stands satisfied over the recent US supply of latest surveillance aircraft to Pakistan and sale of F-16 aircraft later this year would be a sign of this burgeoning relationship between the two countries. By September 2011, Pakistan is sure to receive a total of 18 of these planes. According to a Washington Post report these planes, will for the first time allow Pakistan to conduct nighttime air operations. There are confirmed reports that Pakistan would soon get drone planes from Turkey. Obviously it is taking place after taking Washington into confidence fulfilling Islamabad’s long-term demand that drones are given to Pakistan so that it can take action against the militants hiding in the rugged tribal areas and US actions directly against them are violation of territorial integrity that only deserves condemnation.  Besides providing military equipment, the US has to accept and declare in clear terms that Pakistan had genuine interests in Afghanistan and those interests need to be protected. Pakistan also needs support and encouragement by the international community to fight extremism and terrorism. The European Union, which is part of Nato forces fighting out militancy in Afghanistan, has to review their policy towards Pakistan. The preferential treatment and concessions should be given importance for Pakistan to help boost its economy. Pakistan had been trying to convince the international community that whatever problem it was faced with was not because of its own wrongdoings. On the contrary it was because of the ongoing war against terrorism initiated by the US and its allies in which the civilized world was interested. It was therefore obligatory on the part of the international community to extend a helping hand towards Pakistan that had offered unmatched sacrifices in eliminating the scourge of terror and extremism. The US and the West should also play their part towards resolution of the Kashmir, water and other disputes between Pakistan and India. New Delhi has to be told by its western friends to stop interfering in the domestic affairs of Pakistan and do away with the policy to de-stabilise Pakistan by supporting the ongoing insurgency in Balochistan.  The West has to convince India to look beyond Mumbai carnage. That’s not the only issue faced by the people of South Asia. If despite Pakistan’s insistence India backs out from dialogue, that will prove the inference that New Delhi had never been interested in resolving the contentious issues and was just resorting to delaying practices. Pakistan had entered into a new era of democracy, rule of law and human rights. It had suffered greatly from terrorism and religious extremism. It is therefore justified to urge the international community to reinforce their support for Pakistan.  It is hoped that in the due course of time the world at large shall start appreciating the policies being followed by Pakistan. They have to realize that it’s a democratic government and the Pakistani nation stands behind the elected administration. They must take it for granted that no power can win the war on terror in this part of the world unless Pakistan is associated in the fight and the country’s losses in the prolonged fight against terrorism is compensated.

Global Military Bloc finalizes 21st Century Strategic Doctrine
by Rick Rozoff (Tuesday, May 11, 2010)  "NATO's 21st century military doctrine - expeditionary, global and aggressive - will leave few parts of the planet unaffected. The 900 million inhabitants of Alliance member states evoked by Secretary General Rasmussen are slightly over one-eighth of the human race, but the leaders of those nations gathered collectively in NATO presume to determine developments in dozens of spheres throughout the entire world. With only 13 percent of the world's population but over 60 percent of its military spending."  In Brussels in the first week of May NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen delivered his urbi et orbi (to the city and the world) monthly address, the bloc's Military Committee assembled the defense chiefs of 49 nations supplying troops for the war in Afghanistan and U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden visited the Alliance's headquarters.  As the world faces an almost two-year economic downturn epitomized by the national crisis in Greece and natural disasters like the devastating earthquake in Haiti and the fallout from volcanic eruptions in Iceland, the U.S.-led Western military bloc is preparing for interventions around the world.  For NATO, which however much it pretends to be something else or something more is a military bloc, all problems in the world require some variety of military action.  It exploited an ethnic conflict in Kosovo to launch its first war in Europe in 1999 and attacks on the American cities of New York and Washington two years later to begin its first war in Asia. Having fought a 78-day air war and now waging a nearly nine-year ground war, NATO is hardly a paper, and by no means a defensive, organization.  Its threat to intervene in as many as a score of different areas it has identified as part of its 21st century expeditionary mission is not to be taken lightly.  On May 5 its Secretary General Rasmussen delivered his monthly press briefing in Brussels and announced that he and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will hold a press conference on May 17 after NATO's Group of Experts presents its report on the Alliance's new Strategic Concept.  The new military doctrine will be the first in this century, the first since the completion of NATO's precedent-setting large-scale air war in 1999 and its transition to fighting a ground war and counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan.  It will be the 61-year-old bloc's first global warfighting doctrine based on the past eleven years' military interventions in the Balkans, South Asia and the Horn of Africa, naval and airlift operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Africa, and a training mission in Iraq.  Despite Rasmussen's assurance that all NATO member states "will examine the report carefully" as part of what has been portrayed as a collective, deliberative process, all the important elements of the Strategic Concept were decided upon years ago. In Washington, D.C.  They include a continuation and escalation of the war in South Asia, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan; placing all NATO member states under a joint U.S.-NATO interceptor missile shield; retaining American tactical nuclear weapons on air bases in European nations; expanding the bloc even further into the Balkans and nations of the former Soviet Union; extending ad infinitum naval surveillance and interdiction operations in the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, encompassing many of the world's most vital and strategic shipping lanes and naval choke points; penetrating deeper into the Middle East and Africa through military partnerships and training and other assistance programs.  Global NATO's new strategy also emphasizes universally thematic as well as geographically specific pretexts for intervention around the world under its Article 5 collective military assistance and intervention clause.  In a conference on the new Strategic Concept in London last October 1 conducted jointly by NATO and Lloyd’s of London, Rasmussen identified what he referred to as third-millennium concerns that NATO is preparing to confront. [1]  They include but are not limited to (as the list has already expanded in the interim and will do so further) piracy, cyber security, climate change and global warming, storms and flooding, rising sea levels, water shortages and drought, cross-border migration, diminished food production, natural disasters, humanitarian crises, dependence on "foreign sources of fuel energy" and supplies emanating from nations NATO desires to drive out of regional and world markets, carbon dioxide emissions, "factories or energy stations or transmission lines or ports" that require protection, the melting of the Arctic ice cap and, as ever, international terrorism.  The above terms are the exact ones Rasmussen used last year.  And alleged weapons of mass destruction. And missile threats from "rogue states." Nuclear proliferation real or potential or contrived. Territorial disputes, ethnic conflicts, "failed states," endangered individuals or groups covered under the rubric of the "responsibility to protect," competition over natural resources and an ever-evolving list of other justifications for intervention at any time at any spot on the earth for most any reason.  Ahead of this November's NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, the defense and foreign ministers of the bloc will meet in Brussels to put the finishing touches on the 21st century Strategic Concept.  In his May 5 press briefly, Rasmussen rattled off a barrage of rhetorical queries the answers to which were a foregone conclusion. "What new missions should NATO take on, to defend our populations against 21st century threats? What should our nuclear policy be? How far should our Partnerships reach?"  To no one's surprise, he responded by saying "my aim is for the new Concept to be ambitious; not only to reflect what we are currently doing, but also to set out what we should be doing to keep the 900 million citizens in NATO countries safe from attack." [2]  Attack from whom or what was not specified, as though the assertion that 28 NATO member states from Canada to Croatia, Iceland to Latvia and Norway to Portugal are and will always be under threat of immediate annihilation by stealthy, nefarious and unprecedentedly capable adversaries is self-evident and as such does not require substantiation. Perhaps he was alluding to Iran. Or Russia. Or non-state actors. Or to nobody at all.  His remedy for this historically unmatched threat - and though few in the world challenge such contentions they truly pass from the realm of political discourse into what is properly the province of psychiatry - is what the White House and the Pentagon intend it to be: Integrating most all of Europe into the U.S.'s global interceptor missile system, maintaining American nuclear weapons on the continent, fighting an expanding war in Asia 3,000 miles from NATO headquarters, recruiting the few European nations outside the Alliance into its fold, deepening the integration of nations of the former Soviet Union including those in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, and intensifying military partnerships with countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Oceania.  Regarding U.S. interceptor missile deployments - the list of NATO states where they are planned, all in Eastern Europe, now are reported to include Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania - Rasmussen said that "Because there is a growing threat...Europe needs to continue to contribute to its own defence."  "NATO is already building a theatre missile defence system to protect our armed forces, when they go out on mission. The cost of expanding that system to cover not only our soldiers, but also our populations – normal citizens in our cities – is less than 200 million Euros."  In debt-ridden and cash-strapped Europe, the secretary general felt that he only needed to discuss the cost-effectiveness of a program that could trigger a new missile race on the continent. Or far worse - a missile exchange, whether intended or inadvertent.  Rasmussen announced plans to visit Romania on the following two days, May 6 and 7, where, he added, "We will, of course, in our talks, cover the whole agenda, including missile defence. Not least because Romania attaches strong importance to what we consider the core function of NATO – territorial defence, collective defence, according to Article 5 in the NATO Treaty. And in my opinion an effective missile defence is a part of a credible territorial defence in the current security environment in the world. So obviously we will discuss also that issue."  In February the Romanian government confirmed its commitment to host U.S. Standard Missile-3 anti-ballistic missile interceptors which, as seen above, Rasmussen construes as "territorial defence, collective defence, according to Article 5 in the NATO Treaty."  In Romania he consulted with President Traian Basescu, Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi and other leading government officials and repeated, word-for-word, his comments at the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Estonia late last month that there were "more than 30 countries having or developing missile capabilities." Again, no one asked him which thirty nations he was speaking about.  He also rehashed another refrain from the Estonia meeting in stating “In many cases, these missiles could eventually threaten our populations and territories. And several countries are seeking nuclear weapons....[W]e must take a fresh look at missile defence – not as a substitute for nuclear deterrence, but as a complement to it.” The last phrase was also borrowed from the NATO foreign ministers meeting In Tallinn. [3]  In a presentation at the University of Bucharest Rasmussen said that "Allies need to maintain an appropriate nuclear deterrent."  More specifically, he said, "I hope that in Lisbon we will decide that missile defence is an Alliance's mission, by combining the US and the NATO systems. That will provide an effective coverage to our populations."  While in Bucharest, Rasmussen also reiterated the push to complete the total integration of the Balkans, reaffirming: "We share the view that the best recipe for lasting security and stability in the Balkans is integration of all countries of the region in the euroatlantic structures, into the EU and NATO."  He praised Romania, which recently disclosed that it would increase its troop numbers in Afghanistan to 1,800, for its display of Alliance solidarity in the war zone, which is "substantial, without caveats."  Other standard demands of the new Strategic Concept were also addressed, including so-called energy and cyber security, with Rasmussen connecting them to NATO's Article 5 war clause and with missile shield deployments:  "NATO is a unique mechanism for collecting information from different sources - We have the means to protect critical energy infrastructure."  "Nowhere is the need to act today rather than tomorrow more evident than in this area....[A] cyber attack can bring a country down without a single soldier having to cross its borders."  "NATO's core task was, continues to be and will remain territorial collective defence of our territories and populations."  "I am not going to prejudge the new Strategic Concept. But I'll make one point very clear: We cannot afford to put missile defence, energy security or cyber defence on the back burner. Because new challenges don't wait until we feel ready to meet them."  The claim that the populations of all 28 NATO nations, including those of North America, Iceland and Denmark's Greenland, face an imminent threat from intercontinental ballistic missiles, ones moreover carrying nuclear warheads, ready to be launched by - to name the West's standard suspects - Iran and Syria calls into question the credibility if not the sanity of the person who made it. On May 5 the NATO secretary general stated in this regard:  "We have...sufficient intelligence to know that we're faced with a real threat, with Iranian aspirations as regards missile technology and nuclear programs," adding that he was "confident" the NATO summit in November would agree to protect Washington, D.C., Ottawa and Reykjavik from phantom Iranian missiles.  References to cyber and energy security, though, are undisguised accusations against Russia, one of the world's two main nuclear powers, and, coupled as they unvaryingly are with NATO's Article 5 mutual defense clause, would alone warrant an immediate demand for the abolition of the military bloc whose strategic doctrine is based on that policy.  This week the Norwegian ambassador to former Soviet republic and current NATO partner Azerbaijan, bordering both Iran and Russia, said that the new Strategic Concept "will cover all member states, as well as NATO partner states." [4]  There are over 40 NATO military partners included in the Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, Contact Countries and Trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-NATO Military Commission programs, so NATO reserves the right to intervene on behalf of some 70 nations, including partners like Israel, Georgia and South Korea. In fact NATO arrogates to itself and to its individual members and its partners the exclusive prerogative of using military force outside (and within) their borders.  Rasmussen's visit to Romania is to be followed later this month by one to Bulgaria, "a state of strategic importance in view of future plans for the deployment of an anti-missile shield." [5]  In late April he visited the bloc's two newest members, Albania and Croatia. After he met with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha the latter announced "that Albania was prepared to fulfil all commitments that come from its NATO membership, including the positioning of anti-missile defence units on its territory." [6]  Shortly afterward Chief of Staff of the Albanian Armed Forces General Maksim Malaj revealed that a team of NATO experts was headed to his country and that they "will make a thorough analysis of the geo-strategic factors in our country. If they decide to install elements of the anti-missile defence shield, we will give our permission." [7]  NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis visited Bulgaria on April 26 and 27 to meet with the country's defense minister and military chief.  The Alliance's top military and civilian leaders visited the Southeastern European nations for discussions on the Strategic Concept. They also drummed up commitments for further deployments to Afghanistan and for the stationing of U.S. missile shield installations in the respective states.  The current NATO-integrated regimes on the Black Sea and in the Balkans are sufficiently compliant and obliging to allow the Pentagon anything it demands from them, whether missile interception sites or the transfer of nuclear warheads currently in Western Europe to locations closer to their prospective use to the east and south.  To insure that the message of Washington's emissary and intermediary Rasmussen didn't fail to get through, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, deputy commander-in-chief of "the world's sole military superpower," arrived in Brussels on May 6 to meet with Rasmussen and to address the European Parliament.  His comments while in the Belgian capital included:  "The United States and European Union have stood side-by-side to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons....In the face of the threat that Iran poses, we are committed to the security of our allies."  He also said that "Washington remains determined to deploy its planned anti-missile system in Europe to counter the danger of Iran's nuclear program and its long-range ballistic missiles."  After Biden met with Rasmussen - the agenda was on "Afghanistan, missile defense, NATO's Strategic Concept...Pakistan, Iran, counter-terrorism, climate change and energy security" [8] - NATO spokesman James Appathurai stated: "They both share the same view. They believe that NATO should take on territorial missile defense as a NATO mission at the next summit." [9]  On the occasion of his European visit Biden released an article called "Advancing Europe's Security" that was dutifully (one could say slavishly) published in the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times for readers on both side of the Atlantic.  The piece included these excerpts:  "The United States and Europe...have built the most successful alliance in history....NATO is revising its 'strategic concept,' which contains the guiding principles for NATO’s strategy to deal with security threats, to prepare the alliance for the challenges of the 21st century....[W]e have to devote more attention and resources to deterring and combating security threats to Europe that come from outside Europe.  "[T]oday the Continent faces new and pernicious threats: the spread of weapons of mass destruction to rogue regimes with access to ballistic missile technology, the ongoing threat of terrorist attack enabled by havens in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the prospect of cyber-attack by criminal networks and other actors, and significant energy security challenges....[We] need a more effective conflict-prevention, conflict-management, and crisis-resolution mechanism to defuse crises before they escalate. The Russia-Georgia crisis in August 2008 reminded all of us that we cannot take security in Europe for granted or become complacent.  "[W]e must affirm...the right of states to choose their own security alliances. The indivisibility of security...means that all European countries must abide by certain shared rules: above all, a commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and the right of all countries to choose their own alliances freely. And most importantly, we cannot permit the re-establishment of spheres of influence in Europe." [10]  The last allusion was of course to Russia. Washington will not permit it to have any influence in nations neighboring it, even those that had been part of Russia for centuries and which have large ethnic Russian populations.  There is only one sphere of influence in Europe from the North Sea to the Black Sea: That of the U.S. and NATO.  On the two days during which Rasmussen gave his monthly address and began his visit to Romania and Biden visited Brussels, May 5 and 6, the defense chiefs of 49 nations met at a gathering of NATO's Military Committee in Brussels. The countries involved were NATO members states, partner states and other non-NATO nations contributing troops to the war in Afghanistan. (In addition to the 49 national contingents officially serving under NATO as troop contributors, Afghanistan and Pakistan work with NATO and nations like Bahrain, Colombia, Egypt and Jordan also have military personnel in the war theater or on their way there.)  The bloc's two top military commander - U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and French General Stephane Abrial, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation - were in attendance, as was General Hakan Syren, Chairman of the EU Military Committee.  The defense ministers and NATO and EU military commanders discussed operations in three continents - Asia (Afghanistan), Europe (Kosovo) and Africa (Somalia) - as well as the NATO training mission in Iraq "in support of Iraq's Security Forces" [11], the ongoing Operation Active Endeavor naval mission in the Mediterranean, Ukraine becoming the first former Soviet state to join the NATO Response Force, the new Annual National Programs for Ukraine and Georgia, transformation and modernization of the Georgian armed forces, and the integration of NATO and EU missions in Europe, Asia and Africa.  NATO's 21st century military doctrine - expeditionary, global and aggressive - will leave few parts of the planet unaffected. The 900 million inhabitants of Alliance member states evoked by Secretary General Rasmussen are slightly over one-eighth of the human race, but the leaders of those nations gathered collectively in NATO presume to determine developments in dozens of spheres throughout the entire world. With only 13 percent of the world's population but over 60 percent of its military spending.

Indian Army's road-building wing to focus on border areas 
The Indian Army's road-building wing has been asked to focus on strategic infrastructure development in the border areas, particularly along the frontier with China, Defence Minister AK Antony said on Tuesday.  Giving details of the steps taken by the government in this regard, Antony told a parliamentary panel that the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) “has been directed to focus on strategic infrastructure in border areas and not to diffuse their resources in other states for the time being", a defence ministry statement said.  The directive comes amid reports that China has built several air, road and rail links in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) close to the border with India over the last few years that will enable its People's Liberation Army to mobilise troops to its border launch pads in less than three weeks.  The BRO is building 61 roads near the India-China border areas with a total length of 3,429 km. It also plans to construct 285 roads with a total length of over 4,890 km and an all-weather road to Ladakh. But the pace of the infrastructure building has been alarmingly slow.  BRO Director General Lt Gen MC Badani last week said the agency would move out of the 200 km National Highway-16 project in the Maoist-affected areas of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh by March 2011 on an "as is where is basis".  Antony also told the parliamentary consultative committee of the defence ministry that the BRO has been authorised to outsource the job of airlifting machinery and material to difficult terrains as the assets of Indian Air Force were overstretched.  “There are many important projects in various stages of implementation. It will be our endeavour to see that BRO’s capabilities are in consonance with India’s strategic and developmental requirements. We have decided to outsource air efforts, especially through rotary wing, for carrying of necessary equipment, plants, materials and manpower,” the minister said.

Chinese 'transgressions' continue, says army commander
Jammu, May 11  Chinese troops are continuing their "transgressions" along the 646-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh sector of Jammu and Kashmir, an Indian Army commander said Tuesday.  Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal, the General Officer Commanding in chief of Northern Command, told reporters: "But these are not intrusions or incursions as the media projects it."  The commander spoke in the town of Nagrota, 13 km from Jammu, the winter capital of the state, after a rally of ex-servicemen at the Sainik School at Nagrota.  Nagrota is the headquarters of the army's 16 Corps.  "The Chinese transgress according to their perception of the LAC as the border is yet to be finally settled," he said, in reply to a question by a newsperson. "There are varying perceptions of the LAC."  "These transgressions are being taken up by the ministry of external affairs," he said.  Military experts say that the intrusions, which the army calls transgressions, have been going on along the LAC in Ladakh sector since 2008.  Chinese troops have intruded into Indian territory in recent years. They told a group of Indian shepherds in December 2008 not to be near the LAC and in October 2009 got work on a road halted at Demchok, 250 km east of Leh.

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