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Thursday, 13 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 13 May 2010

Not paranoid over China: Antony 
New Delhi, May 12 Making it clear that India is not paranoid over China, Defence Minister AK Antony today said Sino-Indian bilateral relations were improving and getting better, despite the border dispute.  The government has taken a conscious policy decision to maintain friendly relations with all neighbours, he said while interacting with the media after inaugurating a conference of Defence Accounts Controllers here. "In this context, we are trying to improve our relations with all our neighbouring countries and this includes China also. All are reciprocating well," he said.  Noting that Sino-Indian border disputes still existed, the Defence Minister said the two governments had evolved mechanisms to talk about these disputes. "Despite these disputes, our relations are improving with China in all aspects. China is today our largest trading partner. Our cultural relations are improving. Regarding my ministry, disputes are there, but military relations are improving," he said. — PTI

  Dilemmas of dialogue Joint statements after talks must be avoided
by G. Parthasarathy  THE recent SAARC Summit in Thimpu strained the nerves of virtually all of India’s neighbours. Rather than focussing attention on issues of economic development, education and regional economic integration, the entire attention was focussed on whether or not India and Pakistan would resume their much-touted “Composite Dialogue” in which bureaucrats regularly meet to discuss issues ranging from peace and security to visa procedures. A Sri Lankan friend once asked me: “There are seven members of SAARC. We are all keen on enhancing cooperation in South Asia. Why do you convert every SAARC Summit into an India-Pakistani soap opera? If you want to settle your problems with Pakistan please do not do so at our expense and waste the time and energy of our leaders in SAARC meetings”.   The Thimpu Summit was a an occasion when we further demeaned ourselves in the eyes of friendly neighbours like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal and the Maldives, whose President gave public expression to his frustration. It is no one’s case that we should not talk to Pakistan. But surely there are better ways to do this than exposing ourselves to ridicule in the eyes of our neighbours as we did in Thimpu.  Coming to Pakistan itself, we seem to be deluding ourselves that Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani is an “empowered” leader who can overrule his Army Chief, the ubiquitous General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. In a damning report, virtually indicting Pakistan’s military leadership for the circumstances leading to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a high- level United Nations panel observed: “The Sunni groups are largely based in Punjab. Members of these groups aided the Taliban effort in Afghanistan at the behest of the ISI and later cultivated ties with Al- Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban groups. The Pakistani military and the ISI also used and supported some of these groups in the Kashmir insurgency after 1989. The bulk of the anti-Indian activity remains the work of groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which has close ties with the ISI”. In recent days, General Kayani and his cohorts have been emboldened by American mollycoddling. They now openly proclaim their influence with the Quetta Shura headed by Mullah Omar while refusing to act against the Afghan Taliban military leadership in North Waziristan headed by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who General Kayani is known to regard as a “strategic asset”.  Within Pakistan, General Kayani has upped the ante of anti-Indian sentiment by his pronouncements suggesting that India is deliberately starving Pakistan of its legitimate share of river waters. Reporters who visited Kasab’s native village of Faridkot noted how anti-Indian sentiments had been exacerbated by propaganda on river waters and Kashmir. Interestingly, even though the Pakistan Government claims that Hafiz Mohammed Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa is banned, its weekly magazine continues to be published and is readily available even in villages like Faridkot. Yet our mandarins and ministers seem to take Pakistani protestations of being ready to act against the Lashkar seriously.  The reaction to the Kasab conviction was mixed in Pakistan. But the general sentiment was conveyed by a farmer in Faridkot, angered that India was diverting Pakistan’s water resources, who said: “There is nothing wrong if he (Kasab) did it with good intentions against a kafir country like India”. Indians, who are given to being sentimental about their formative years in what is now Pakistan, should understand that sentiment in Lahore and Chakwal today is not the same as it was in the idyllic days of the 1940s.  While the fiasco at Sharm-el-Sheikh is best forgotten, we need to be realistic about the dynamics of internal politics within Pakistan and its relations with its three major patrons — the United States, China and Saudi Arabia. While the decline in President Zardari’s fortunes has been accepted an inevitable reality by the Americans, both the Chinese and the Saudis, for different reasons, were uncomfortable with Mr Zardari. Prime Minister Gilani started his political career as a protégé of General Zia-ul-Haq and is at heart a Muslim Leaguer. His long association with the Army establishment has been reinforced by familial marital ties with the Pir of Pagaro, who has been the Pakistan Army’s hit man on Sind’s borders with India.  Mr Gilani has virtually no political base within the ruling PPP. He is merely a pliable front for the Army establishment led by General Kayani and will have little stomach to take on General Kayani’s anti-Indian agenda. Moreover, even now sections of the Obama Administration reportedly believe that the ISI surely has a case in claiming that it needs its “Kashmiri militants” to force India’s hand on Jammu and Kashmir. New Delhi should be realistic enough to know that given American and Chinese backing and Saudi understanding, there is no reason for the ISI to discontinue measured assistance and support to its “jihad” in India.  One should not be surprised by the present Pakistan Government’s rejection of the movement forward in formulating a broad framework for a Kashmir settlement that had been achieved in discussions between Indian Special Envoy Satinder Lambah and General Musharraf’s trusted aide Tariq Aziz between 2005 and 2007. On the contrary, we have to be prepared for increasing infiltration across the Line of Control together with Pakistani moves to make the fundamentalist Syed Ali Shah Geelani the focal point of the separatist leadership in the Kashmir valley.  While differences have been papered over in Thimpu, they cannot be wished away.  While External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has made it clear that forthcoming talks are primarily meant to remove the causes of “distrust” between the two countries, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi claimed that in the forthcoming talks between Foreign Ministers and Foreign Secretaries, all issues of concern, including Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, river waters and people-to-people contacts would be discussed. Mr Qureshi brushed aside India’s concerns on terrorism, glibly claiming that terrorism is a “global” concern, which would be best addressed collectively. One cannot but be disgusted by Mr Qureshi’s description of the Mumbai massacre as an “incident” which is best forgotten.  With General Kayani in charge in Pakistan, the Army’s traditional policies of “bleeding” India and seeking “strategic depth” in Afghanistan will continue.  It will, therefore, be disastrous if New Delhi allows Pakistan to have its way on an agenda for talks which would sideline the primacy of India’s concerns on terrorism, as it did at Sharm-el-Sheikh.  While talks with Pakistan are necessary, we could do without thoughtlessly drafted joint statements and public expressions of bonhomie, which would only show our government’s insensitivity towards outraged public opinion in the country.

Jawan's blood saves Naxal's life in Chhattisgarh
Press Trust of India, Wednesday May 12, 2010, Raipur Even as they are engaged in a fierce fight in Chhattisgarh against each other, a jawan gave an injured Naxal a new lease of life by donating his blood.  The incident occurred in Surguja, in the northern part of the State, which is a Naxal-dominated area where the outlaws make their presence felt time and again.  It was in one such attempt by the Naxals, that the police injured an outlaw, carrying a reward of Rs 10,000 on his head, but ensured that he survived by making him available proper treatment and also donating blood when needed.  "On the 7th of this month, we received information that some Naxals had gathered near Chandnibahar village under Surajpur police station and were planning an attack," Superintendent of Police, Surguja, N K S Thakur said.  Following this, a team under Chandibahar police station in-charge S S Patel went to the area to investigate. However, the Naxals opened fire on them to which the police team retaliated.  After the Naxals had fled the place, police searched the area and found an injured Chandrika Yadav, who was hit by a bullet in his waist, lying next to his .303 rifle, Thakur said.  Yadav was taken to the Chandnibahar village hospital, where doctors, in view of his critical condition, advised the police officials to shift him to the district hospital in Ambikapur.

Obama's warning to Pakistan NDTV Correspondent,
Thursday May 13, 2010, Washington In yet another instance of America's heightened rhetoric on Pakistan, US President Barack Obama has said Pakistan has realised that it is not India but the "cancer" of terrorism emanating from its own territory that is its primary concern.  President Obama was speaking at a joint press conference with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in Washington.  In an apparent reference to the unearthing of recent terrorist plots in the US having its footprints in Pakistan, President Barack Obama on Wednesday said that Al-Qaida and the Taliban continue to plot from the Af-Pak border region.  As such Obama reiterated his resolve to dismantle, disrupt and defeat the extremist network in the region. "Whether Afghanistan succeeds in this effort will have consequences for the United States and consequences for the entire world.  As we've seen in recent plots here in the United States, Al-Qaida and its extremist allies continue to plot in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a growing Taliban insurgency could mean an even larger safe haven for Al-Qaida and its affiliates," Obama said.  At a joint White House press availability with the visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama said, "So today we are reaffirming our shared goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaida and its extremist allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future."  Noting that there are many difficult days ahead in Afghanistan, Obama said, "We face a determined and ruthless enemy, but we go forward with confidence because we have something that our adversaries do not: We have a commitment to seek a future of justice and peace and opportunity for the Afghan people. We have the courage and resolve of men and women from Afghanistan and our international coalition who are determined to help Afghans realise that future."  Obama further said, "President Karzai agrees that we have to deal with the extremists that are disrupting life in Afghanistan. Our strategic approach has been entirely consistent."  The US President said he and Karzai agreed that they can't win through a military strategy alone; that they are going to have to make sure that they have effective governance, capacity-building, economic development in order for them to succeed. (With PTI inputs)

The U.S. Is Shipping Tons of Deadly Weaponry to Pakistan
U.S. drones bomb Pakistan regularly.
Now, Washington is about to deliver 20 F-16s and surveillance planes to Islamabad along with a thousand 500 lb bombs. May 12, 2010  |     Twin suicide attacks seconds apart targeted the Pakistani military Friday, killing up to 45 people in the second attack to hit security forces in the country's cultural capital this week. The bombers walked up to army vehicles in the crowded R A Bazaar area of Lahore, blowing themselves up as people sat down to eat before the main Muslim weekly prayers were to begin, a senior official said. Lahore, a city of eight million near Pakistan's border with India, has been increasingly subject to Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked attacks in a nationwide bombing campaign that has killed more than 3,000 people in three years. The bombers targeted the cantonment, home to army officials and military installations, as well as hospitals and schools run by the military. There were civilian homes, shops and restaurants in the vicinity of the attack. Footage of the blasts broadcast by private Geo TV showed people running and shouting in panic. One man, who apparently shot the video on a mobile phone, is heard murmuring: "Oh my God, Oh my God, Be kind to us God." Jumpy images of the second explosion showed a thick ball of smoke with a huge bang and people shouting. Mohammad Nadeem, a man in his 20s whose traditional white shalwar khamis was stained with blood down the front, told AFP he was saying prayers in the mosque when he heard the first blast and rushed out only to hear another explosion. "The second blast took place very near a military vehicle. I sensed real danger and started running," he said. "There were scenes of destruction in nearby restaurants and shops. There were broken chairs and tables and other items lying everywhere on the ground." The army sealed off the tree-lined street. Security officials said at least five soldiers were among those killed when the twin blasts shattered windows and sent debris flying from nearby buildings. "Forty-three people were killed and 134 wounded in the attacks," Lahore civil defence department chief Mazhar Ahmad told AFP.  But a senior security official put the death toll at 45 and said six army personnel were among the dead. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Pakistan's Taliban claimed a suicide attack Monday that destroyed offices in Lahore used to interrogate militant suspects, killing 15 people, and pledged further attacks. Violence in Pakistan is concentrated largely in the lawless northwest border area with Afghanistan, but analysts have warned that extremism is taking a hold in Punjab, Pakistan's most populous and politically important province. Eight attacks have killed more than 170 people in Lahore over the past year, a historical city, playground for the elite and home to many top brass in Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence establishment. "We have the heads of both the bombers. There was an interval of 15 seconds between the two attacks. They were on foot. Their target was army vehicles," added police official Chaudhry Mohammad Shafiq. Nuclear-armed Pakistan is on the frontline of the US war on Al-Qaeda, under pressure to act against Islamist militants in the border area with Afghanistan -- which Washington calls the most dangerous place on Earth. The first two months of this year saw a decline in violence by militants in Pakistan after a significant increase in bloodshed in late 2009. Officials linked the reduction to the suspected death -- still not confirmed -- of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud and military offensives that have disrupted militant networks. Pakistan's military claims to have made big gains against Taliban and Al-Qaeda strongholds over the past year, following major offensives in the northwestern district of Swat and the tribal region of South Waziristan. Washington says militants in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt are fuelling the war in Afghanistan, where more than 120,000 NATO and US troops are spearheading a last-ditch strategy to defeat a nine-year Taliban insurgency. Despite a series of reported arrests in Pakistan in recent weeks, scepticism remains on whether its powerful spy agency has made a decisive break with Islamist hardliners after well-established historical ties. Pakistan has confirmed only the arrest of Mullah Adbul Ghani Baradar, described by US officials as the Afghan Taliban number two, but also reported to have been in contact with Afghan government officials. Photo Credit: AFP/Graphic     LIKE THIS ARTICLE ? Join our mailing list: Sign up to stay up to date on the latest World headlines via email.       Petitions by|Get Widget|Start a Petition »    Obama administration, that expanded the U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan. Citing current and former counterterrorism officials, the paper reported that the CIA had received "secret permission to attack a wider range of targets" allowing the Agency to rely on "pattern of life" analysis.  "The information then is used to target suspected militants, even when their full identities are not known," according to the report. "Previously, the CIA was restricted in most cases to killing only individuals whose names were on an approved list. The new rules have transformed the program from a narrow effort aimed at killing top Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders into a large-scale campaign of airstrikes in which few militants are off-limits, as long as they are deemed to pose a threat to the U.S., the officials said."  There is no doubt that the Obama administration has dramatically expanded the use of drones in Pakistan and that the drone attacks are unpopular. It is far from a radical position to assert that the bombings are creating fresh enemies, inspiring militants and empowering the Taliban. On Monday, I reported on the comments of Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer and Georgetown Professor Christine Fair on the issue. Shaffer said he was against the drone attacks because they create a reality where the "Taliban are more motivated than ever to come at us... the Predator program is having the same effect [it had] in Afghanistan two years ago in killing innocents" that it is now having in Pakistan. Shaffer is no anti-war activist -- on the same show he advocated deploying U.S. "boots on the ground" in Pakistan. Fair, a respected former UN advisor in Afghanistan, made the ridiculous claim that "the drones are not killing innocent civilians," adding that the "residents of FATA [the Federally Administered Tribal Areas] generally welcome the drone strikes because they know actually who's being killed."  It is indisputable that, across Pakistan, the drone strikes are passionately opposed. According to a poll conducted by Gallup last year, only 9% of Pakistanis support the strikes.  Presumably, Professor Fair was basing her assertion regarding support for drone bombings in FATA on polls such as the one conducted by the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy last year in FATA. It found that more than half of respondents (52%) believed the drone strikes were accurate and 60% believed the strikes were damaging "militant organizations." That is a far cry from "welcoming" U.S. drone strikes.  Pakistani journalist Mosharraf Zaidi raises an interesting point about this, writing, "Anyone that suggests that drone attacks are popular is presenting an amputated and distorted fact." Zaidi writes:      The only enthusiasm that exists for drone attacks is within the context of having to choose between different poisons. If given a choice between drone attacks, and Pakistani artillery and aerial bombardment campaigns, many tribal people will choose the drone attacks because no matter how many civilians they kill, it is less than the blunt force of the Pakistani military. So in a room with only two very ugly options, the drone attacks are the less ugly. That is not the same thing as being popular

AK Antony calls for timely, transparent defence procurement  
PTI Wednesday, May 12, 2010 16:36    Defence minister AK Antony today called for a "timely, transparent and judicious" process to procure weapons and equipment for the armed forces.  Inaugurating the biennial three-day Defence Accounts Controllers Conference here, Antony said: "Defence expenditure and procurement issues are complex and time-consuming and have a direct bearing on our national security.  "We have tried to infuse more transparency and efficiency into our procedures and systems. It is my firm belief that expenditure of public money must have an appropriate system of checks and balances."  He said the Defence Accounts Department had facilitated procurement of essential items for the defence forces and the capital expenditure utilised last year had been an all-time record.  "But, there has to be a transparent, timely and judicious use of funds for defence expenditure. The government has tried to infuse more transparency in the huge defence outlay, which is over Rs 1.52 lakh crore for the current financial year," he added.  Pointing out that there were complaints from ex-servicemen over disbursement of pensions, Antony called for early distribution of revised pension and arrears to them.  "Even now, I am getting a lot of complaints from people that they are not getting pensions... Considering the past, things have improved, but even then complaints are there still... You must take all steps possible so that they get their dues at the earliest," he said, asking the Defence Finance officials to expedite and further streamline the pension system for the armed forces personnel.  Minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju, in his address, said pension adalats had become an effective mechanism for grievance redressal on the ground and expressed the hope that the pension arrears for pre-2006 personnel below officer rank (PBOR) would soon be disbursed.  He said the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (PCDA) would soon roll out an e-ticketing system for air travel by personnel.  The PCDA Rail Booking System for e-ticketing would be introduced in another 200 armed forces units by next month and all units would be covered by the year-end, Controller general of defence Accounts Nita Kapoor added.  Defence finance secretary Indu Liberhan, in her address, stressed the need for continuing institutionalised interaction between her department and the three Services.  Comptroller and Auditor General of India Vinod Rai said since Defence Finance related to a sensitive national security concern, the keyword for its success was the outcome and not simply accounting.  Others present on the occasion were Army chief general VK Singh and scientific advisor to the defence minister VK Saraswat.

Why do we ignore our war dead?
May 12, 2010 13:57 IST Tags: Sri Lanka, Indian Peace Keeping Force, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham, Dr Manmohan Singh, SAARC Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment  A small news item in a well known weekly of  Colombo on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's [ Images ] visit to Colombo in August 2008 to attend the SAARC summit meeting caught my eye.  The Sunday Times, Colombo, said: "Questions are being asked as to who will unveil a monument in memory of Indian soldiers killed during their peacekeeping operation in Sri Lanka [ Images ] after plans to get it opened by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the SAARC summit failed." That memorial has still not been opened and lies in a state of neglect. As one who actively participated in the much maligned Indian Peace Keeping Force operations in Sri Lanka from 1987 to 1990, I felt very hurt at the way we treat the memory of our war dead.  After all 1,255 soldiers of the IPKF died in a foreign soil fighting a war nobody bothered about in this country. I wonder why the prime minister found no 'time' in his Colombo itinerary for a small task that would have taken him a few minutes only. Apparently the Sri Lanka government had taken up the proposal for its inauguration by Dr Manmohan Singh well in advance as reported in Sri Lanka media.   Who shot down the proposal? Evidently it must be one of the political 'advisors' or bureaucrat who had a hand in drawing the PM's schedule. There could be only two reasons -- opening the memorial would not be either 'politically correct' or the memorial for the dead soldiers did not 'deserve' the PM to open it.  Whatever be the reason, the bottom line is the nation's prime minister could not find time to open the only memorial ever built for his soldiers by the grateful Sri Lankans. The memorial is now a monument to our national indifference to the war dead. To those of us who personally knew many of those who died in Sri Lanka, it remains a slap in the face.  If I sound emotional on this issue, there is a background to it. After my retirement, I tried to get a memorial put up for the soldiers who died in Sri Lanka operations. I went about in the cynical way we make things work in this country. I found a media man I knew from my Sri Lanka days. He had good political access to the late G K Moopanar, senior Congress leader, who wielded a big clout in New Delhi [ Images ].  The Congress was then allied with the All India [ Images ] Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham which was ruling Tamil Nadu. And Chief Minister J Jayalalitha was a known supporter of Indian intervention, just like her mentor MGR. So when I met Moopanar, the Congress leader was quite open to the idea of a memorial in Chennai for the IPKF war dead.  He saw no problem in putting in a word both at the Centre and state level, provided the army also took up a case for erecting a memorial in Chennai.  I wrote to army bigwigs. I got a polite letter from the local army formation headquarters asking me to put up a statement of case as per the relevant army instruction for erecting war memorials. Apparently they had decided it was not their job. Of course, knowing I am a retired guy they were kind enough to send me the relevant form for filling up. I was shocked at the indifference of my own brethren still in service. That brought home the truth that bureaucrats are the same whether in uniform or otherwise. And indifference is their hallmark.  My proposal had a dismal end when Congress and AIADMK alliance broke up after a few months. And my media friend told me we could still take up through other public organisations and asked me to suggest a design. I had neither the energy nor mindset to start all over as my cup of bitterness was full.  I suggested a giant closet in which if you pull the chain and the names of the 1,255 dead would appear electronically, flow into the flush and vanish. It would be a fitting design for a memorial for the war dead whose memory has been flushed away in the national bilge. I still believe it would be a realistic, if not appropriate, memorial.   We should have observed the 60th anniversary of the Armed Forces Flag Day on December 7, 2009. But the nation 'forgot' about it. But it was a logical sequence to our approach to Flag Day. I presume the burden of observing flag day falls on the hapless district collector, already burdened with demands of political minions. And it is done in the same way as any other flag day is 'handled': as a chance to collect money from public for a cause nobody understands.  My friend Lieutenant Colonel C R Sundar drew my attention to a Chennai Tamil daily of November 26, 2009 which showed a photograph of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi [ Images ] contributing to the `Flag Day' with the Chennai Collector standing nearby. The caption said the contribution was for the `national unity and religious understanding. This is a travesty of its original purpose.  The idea of Armed Forces Flag Day was to honour the valiant dead, and salute the brave veterans as per the decision taken by the Defence Committee of the Cabinet on August 28, 1949 to observe (instead of celebrate) Armed Forces Flag Day on December 7.   In fact, independent India replaced the Armistice Day observed on November 11 in the British Commonwealth with the Armed Forces Flag Day. The Armistice Day came to be observed after the end of World War I that had caused untold misery and innumerable deaths. It is also known as the Poppy Day in a tribute to the soldiers on whose graves poppy flowers bloomed.  Last year, I saw British Prime Minister George Brown appearing with a paper poppy on his lapel in a commemoration news clip on the BBC. The newscasters were all wearing a poppy.  We learned so many things from the British but never learned how to honour our war dead. Even the war graves in India are maintained spick and span by the Commonwealth Graves Commission till this day.  The British also remembered the memory of Indians who died for the empire. It is a national shame that the current memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti, in the national capital is only an appendage 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.  India even after 65 years of independence finds it bothersome to build a memorial for the Unknown Soldier in the national capital. The army's request to suitably commemorate those who fell in service of the republic has not yet found favour in Lutyens Delhi.  We as a nation are notorious how we treat our dead. The filth and disorder common in our cremation grounds and cemeteries bear testimony to our indifference. So why commemorate the war dead, one may ask. The answer is simple: the soldiers died so that we may live. And the least we can do is to remember them.  Colonel R Hariharan [ Images ], a retired military intelligence specialist on South Asia, is associated with the South Asia Analysis Group and the Chennai Centre for China Studies.

CII Artillery Seminar: "Less than 1% of Indian ammunition is precision guided"
8ak - Indian Defence News  11 May 2010 8ak: During the Vietnam war (1955-1975), Americans flew over 800 sorties and lost 10 aircraft in trying to destory the Thanh Hoa bridge but could do only peripheral damage which was quickly repaired. This changed when in 1972, the Americans came back with 12 Phantoms of which 8 were carrying laser guided bombs and successfully destroyed the bridge. (See Eglin and Wikipedia). According to P.G. Gillespie, in America's Rolling Thunder campaign (Vietnam 1965-68), F-105s with conventional munitions achieved an average accuracy of about 450 feet with only 6% direct hits.  Pointing to this background on May 10 at CII's 3rd International Seminar on Artillery Technology, Brig (Retd) Gurmeet Kanwal, Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies pointed out that the U.S. has since invested in precision guided munitions (PGMs) and so they today represent 80% of munitions used in war. Defense update states that in Operation Iraqi Freedom which started in 2003 "Around 66% of US munitions and up to 85% of RAF munitions used during OIF were precision guided, either by Global Positioning Systems (GPS) or by laser or both. This demonstrates a huge leap forward in capability since the 1991 conflict, when the proportion of precision guided munitions was around 30% of US and 18% of RAF weapons were guided." In an earlier presentation, General V.K. Singh, Chief of the Army Staff, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ADC said that "Gone are the days when during an artillery attack, the safest place to be was at the target."  Given the increasing importance of artillery Brig. Kanwal said that it is shocking to note that less than 1% of India's munition stockpile is precision guided. He said that despite India's decisive victory in Kargil 1999 being attributed, in part, to Indian artillery superiority with the Bofors guns, the Indian Army has failed to modernise its artillery regiments. While hinting at the DPP 2008 as being part of the blame, people 8ak spoke to said that it is also the fault of the Indian army. If it was purely a Ministry of Defence (MoD) and procurement process issue, why is it that the Navy is constantly rolling out new ships with the latest technologies when it has to operate under the same conditions?  Brig. Kanwal stated that picking up the slack in artillery modernisation is urgent because according to him there is an 80-90% probability that India's next war will be in the mountains and a 60-70% probability that it will remain restricted to the mountains. Explaining this he said that deep strikes in to India's neighbouring territories would risk flying over (secret) nuclear installations which would initiate a retaliation that would escalate the war to a level undesirable to either country.  Totalling US$8 billion, India has possibly the largest military modernisation program in the world. On Monday, 24 May 2010, 8ak will release a report on "Challenges in India's Artillery Modernisation Program" that will follow on from the conference and a report from Religare Advisory Services. For more information and to order a copy of the report, please click here.  2 presenters at the conference quoted Napoleon, "God fights on the side with the best artillery"

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