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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 18 May 2010






                 
 Dialogue with Pakistan Will it really reduce trust deficit?
by Gen V. P. Malik (retd)   The Thimpu talks and the death sentence pronounced on Ajmal Kasab have once again brought India-Pakistan relations back into focus. It is apparent that the establishments in the two countries have decided to look beyond the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack and resume the stalled dialogue, primarily to reduce the trust deficit. Its pace and priorities will become evident when the Foreign Ministers of both countries meet on July 15.  After the Mumbai incident and the sharp increase in terrorist violence in Pakistan, most people in India, even more in Pakistan, seem to have realised that India-Pakistan relations need to improve. Nothing would improve India’s security at home, or enhance its ability to play a more constructive regional role as much as reconciliation with Pakistan. And nothing could be worse for India than the continued descent of Pakistan into the abyss of terrorism. For Pakistan, good relations with India are a must if it has to prevent its frequent bouts of political instability, rejuvenate its economy, progress with its sociology (a Pakistani friend put it as roti, kapra, makan, bijlee, pani aur dawa) and, most importantly, tackle its homegrown terrorism and civil strife successfully.  It is also being realised that the strategic conditions in the subcontinent have become a lot more stringent. India and Pakistan can no longer afford to fight an all-out high-intensity war. The old days of military victories and defeats, and forcible major changes of the border or the LoC are over. The concepts of continental or maritime strategy and strategic depth in that context have no relevance in the case of the nuclearised subcontinent.  Most people have also realised that the J & K imbroglio cannot be resolved by military means or with cross-border terrorism. Any attempt to resolve our complex problems with force and violence will lead to greater instability in both countries with serious manifestations for the region.  Such a strategic reality notwithstanding, it would be wrong to expect that people on both sides will forget their recent history of conflicts completely when their lives continue to be affected by violence. We have had three wars, a limited war and several near-war border deployments. In India, the proxy war in J & K is continuing. In Pakistan, the terrorist mad dogs are not only biting the hands that fed them in the past but also those of innocent people everywhere, thus weakening the state. Only fools would fail to draw lessons from them. At the strategic level, we need a long memory and a longer foresight and vision.  Cross-border terrorism remains India’s major security problem with Pakistan. In recent years, whenever we have taken one step forward in the dialogue with Pakistan, a major terrorist act like 26/11 has taken us two steps backward. India and Pakistan seem to be playing a game of snakes and ladder. Unfortunately, it is not the dice but human beings who are swallowed by deadly snakes. Whenever, a positive step is taken to resume the dialogue, most Indians wonder if that will last beyond the next terror incident.  In a recent India-Pakistan track-II level dialogue, Pakistani delegates, while not quite ignoring the terrorism issue, argued that (a) Pakistan was now a larger victim of terrorism than India, and (b) terrorism is a global phenomenon and a “common threat” which requires regional and global cooperation. They also cited statements by the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan that “terrorism is a common threat for both our countries”. Their argument is partly true. But how does one ignore the difference that terrorism in Pakistan is homegrown like our Maoist insurgency, but jihadi terrorism in J&K and the rest of India is encouraged, even sponsored, by Pakistan’s state agencies. It is for this reason that all attempts to work together through a joint anti-terrorist mechanism have failed.  Intelligence officials in India have no doubt that the Mumbai attack, like many such incidents in the past, was encouraged and supported by the ISI which works under the Pakistan Army. Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said, “There is enough evidence to show that, given the sophistication and military precision of the attack, it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan.” A few months ago, General Musharraf, who called the ISI as Pakistan’s strategic arm and its first line of defence, admitted that the ISI maintained representation in all militant outfits to promote the Pakistan Army’s strategic interests.  The slow progress in Pakistan on punishing the perpetrators of 26/11 and its provocative handling of Lashkar-e-Taoiba chief Hafiz Saeed have demonstrated the limits of what India can expect from Pakistan in return for political engagement. The permission given to the terrorist groups in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir to stage a massive rally on February 5, in which Hafiz Saeed and Jihad Council chief Salahuddin openly threatened to carry the terror war to Pune, Delhi and Kanpur, has reconfirmed the view that Pakistan rejects any linkage between bilateral talks and curbs on its terror groups. So far, it has not taken any measure to stop India-oriented jihadis’ activities despite several assurances given by General Musharraf and his successors. Banned terrorist organisations continue to gather funds, recruit people, run radio networks and maintain small-size camps openly under their original or changed names.  Terrorists’ infrastructure remains intact. As per Intelligence assessment, 42 terrorists’ training camps directed against India are operating in Pakistan. Of these, 34 are “active” and eight are “holding” camps. About 300 militants are waiting for an opportunity to infiltrate into India.  A few days back, Mr Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan, revealed that India and Pakistan had almost managed to negotiate their way to a settlement on Kashmir before General Musharraf was ousted. He said that the Pakistan Army had supported this proposal. If that was so, then why has there been a substantial increase in cross-LoC infiltration and encounters recently? This is being seen as an evidence of Pakistan’s unchanged intent and strategy despite a tactical downward calibration noticed earlier.  The conclusions being drawn from this ground situation are: (a) Pakistan hopes to continue the dialogue along with supported or unsupported cross-border terrorism, and (b) the Pakistan Army and the government have rejected the dialogue that Mr Kasuri mentioned.  A war, Clausewitz stated, is an extension of politics and policy by other means. The world has now come to believe that if politics and policy remain in the hands of civilians, there are lesser chances of nations going to war. In Pakistan, issues related to India (particularly Kashmir), Afghanistan and its own nuclear capability are areas of special concern to its military. It is well known that the political leadership finds it difficult to assert on such matters.  In this context, the recent passing of the 18th Constitution Amendment under which the elected Prime Minister and political institutions in Pakistan acquired greater sustenance and authority has become a new factor (apart from the water issue). In the aforesaid track-II dialogue, Pakistani delegates, citing this amendment, were vocal about the return of true democracy and political supremacy in their country. Some also argued that progress in the India-Pakistan dialogue would strengthen their democratic institutions.  While this is indeed a healthy development in our neighborhood, there are serious doubts about its impact in the foreseeable future. No one can overlook the fact that in almost all issues affecting the US and Pakistan, the US leaders depend more on the Pakistan military than its civilian counterparts. The prominence given to General Kayani in the last US-Pakistan strategic dialogue in Washington DC made it quite obvious. The real test of the 18th Amendment in Pakistan would be if and when the Prime Minister is able to place the ISI under civilian control in letter and spirit, and establish a tenure-based military leadership at the highest level.  My central premise is that the peace process with Pakistan can progress only when there is a violence-free atmosphere. Every terror incident adds to domestic political risks in India. With every incident, suspicions tend to increase and trust tends to fray. If such a premise turns out to be unsustainable, any government in India would lose popular support for talks with Pakistan. People can get the impression that Islamabad is leveraging terrorist violence to extract political concessions from New Delhi. The government can thus undermine its ability and credibility to negotiate.  Despite that risk, the Prime Minister has taken the courage to resume the dialogue. But neither the government nor the public has much expectations from it till there is a change in the Pakistani mindset and policy on cross-border terrorism. The trust deficit will get reduced not because of political rhetoric but when the results on the ground prove that.n  The writer is a former Chief of Army Staff.







 Fighting insurgency CRPF can use Army manpower
by Col Pritam Bhullar (retd)  WHILE speaking on Naxalism at Jawaharlal Nehru University on May 5, Home Minister P. Chidambaram blamed the senior officers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for getting 76 security personnel killed at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh on April 6. After the Dantewada tragedy, many writers had brought out the weaknesses in the leadership and training of the CRPF.  One of the oft-repeated suggestions for the last four decades is that rather than retiring Army manpower in the prime of their youth (a jawan is sent home in his 30s and a bulk of the officers in their 40s and early 50s), they should be shifted on the completion of their tenures in the Army to the CRPF.  Two distinct advantages will accrue from this move. First, the CRPF will get well-trained and more disciplined rank and file. Second, the government will get this manpower on half of their earlier salary because the other half would have been paid to them as pension, if they had retired from the Army.  Notwithstanding the obvious advantages of this proposal, the government has always looked askance at it for the reasons, which flow from our history.  When Sir Robert Lockhart, first Commander-in-Chief of Independent India presented a paper to Jawaharlal Nehru on the proposed size and shape of the Army in the light of perceived threats, his response was: "Rubbish, total rubbish. We don't need a defence plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. Scrap the Army. The police is good enough to meet our security needs."  The tribal invasion of Kashmir organised by Pakistan a few days later in October 1947, fortunately kept the Army intact. Fifteen years later, after the shattering Chinese debacle, Nehru had still not shed his aversion to the Army.  In the quantum of our forces reflected in the Karachi agreement, 14 J and K Militia battalions were shown in Jammu and Kashmir. But on ground, we had only seven. To raise the remaining seven, whenever the Army top brass took up a case with the government, pat came a reply that instead of these battalions, seven battalions of the CRPF should be raised. This tussle continued till 1969, when the Army gave in on this issue.  The necessity of raising a force like the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) battalions was felt in the early nineties when militancy in Punjab was at its peak and the Army in large numbers, about nine divisions, was deployed to quell insurgency in the state. To release pressure of counter-insurgency duties from the Army, it was decided that 18 battalions of RR would be raised by taking manpower from the Army units.  After raising six battalions in 1991, the government called a halt and said that instead of RR battalions, more CRPF battalions should be raised. In the meantime, the RR units deployed in Punjab in the thick of militancy gave a shining account of themselves. This turned the opinion in favour of having more RR units. Subsequently, the proxy war in J and K forced the government to enlarge the RR to 36 battalions. Later some more RR battalions had to be raised to meet the operational requirements.  Not only have the RR battalions and their sector headquarters, having officers and men from the Army (who are rotated after two years), proved their mettle in tackling insurgency in J and K but they have also helped in supplementing the Army strength and easing the situation to a large extent in the state.  What has been irking our bureaucrats for the past several years is that the Army has increased its strength in the name of RR battalions. Efforts, therefore, have been continuously made by adopting different stances by them to either get the RR out of the way or at least delink them from the Army by placing them under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). This would automatically necessitate changing their manpower with the paramilitary forces' manpower.  To get the RR battalions out of the way, the Fifth Pay Commission had made a laughable recommendation that the RR should be disbanded. The Pay Commission had further said that since the internal security was the responsibility of the MHA, it should be given to the CRPF. One can imagine what would have happened in J and K, if the Pay Commission's recommendations were implemented.  The Kargil Review Committee had said in 2000 that over the years the quality of paramilitary and central police forces had not been upgraded effectively to deal with the challenges of times; and this had led to an increased dependence on the Army to fight insurgency. The committee had recommended that to enable these forces to accomplish their task, the Army's manpower should be released after seven years of service (as it used to happen in the seventies) and after their release, they should be transferred to these forces. Anyone who understands the psyche of our politicians and bureaucrats knew it fully well when this recommendation was made that it would be thrown out of the window.  Coming back to Chhattisgarh, the Dantewada ambush on April 6 seems to have demolished the morale of the police and the CRPF. This is evident from the state Home Minister's suggestion on May 9 that the Army should take over the anti-Maoists operations in the state. The DGP has also said that the forest in Chhattisgarh is so extensively mined by the Maoists that it is not possible to go after them.  From a few battalions in the seventies, the CRPF has grown to a huge force of 216 battalions, yet the Army has to be summoned on the drop of a hat.








Army orders 124 Arjun tanks
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, May 17 Even as Defence Minister AK Antony opened a five-day army commanders conference this morning, the Army announced its decision to place a fresh order for an additional home-built 124 Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun to boost its firepower.  The fresh order is over and above the existing order of 124 tanks. The development follows the success of the indigenous MBT Arjun in the recent gruelling desert trials, the Defence Ministry said.  The project for the design and development of the MBT Arjun was approved by the government in 1974 with an aim to give the required indigenous cutting edge to our mechanised forces. After many years of trial and tribulation it has now proved its worth by its superb performance under various circumstances, such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets, accurately hitting targets, both stationary and moving, with pin pointed accuracy.  Its superior firepower is based on accurate and quick target acquisition capability during day and night in all types of weather and shortest possible reaction time during combat engagements. Meanwhile, addressing the army commanders meet, Antony said the defence forces need to work in unison to combat computer-based external attacks, reflecting the government’s worries over the complex world of cyber warfare.  “The paradigms of security in the age of information technology are seldom constant. The evolving security matrix is complex and calls for co-operation and coordination of the highest level,” he said. The minister said cyber attacks were “fast becoming the next generation of threats” and as such, no single service could work in isolation. “We need to make our cyber systems as secure and as non-porous as possible,” he said.  Antony’s statement came amid frequent attacks and the subsequent alerts sounded by Army authorities over China and Pakistan-based cyber spies peeking into India’s sensitive business, diplomatic and strategic records. He made a strong plea for synergy among the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, saying the “future security matrix calls for a high-degree of cooperation and inter-dependence among the services”.  “The primary area of focus should be to develop a force capable of operating in a joint network-centric environment,” the minister said.  “Though significant progress has been made towards accomplishing jointness in various operational training and administrative facets among the three services, there are a number of areas of congruence that need to be strengthened further,” he said.  Referring to the modernisation plans of the armed forces, the Defence Minister said it was in the government’s long-term national interest to become self-reliant in the field of critical defence equipment.







IAF to train Malaysian Sukhoi pilots
 Kuala Lumpur, May 17 Malaysia’s decision to allow Indian Air Force to groom, train and equip its frontline Sukhoi pilots is a proof of the Southeast Asian country’s faith on New Delhi, a senior IAF officer has said.  “The fact that a foreign country is permitted to groom, train and equip your frontline pilots is by itself a testament of the confidence and faith they have in us. This is a strong demonstration of a high-level of friendship and diplomacy which is very commendable,” IAF’s chief flight instructor Gp Capt KVR Raju was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.  Russia and India are committed to bolster Malaysia’s air defence and combat capability, so far as the Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker squadron is concerned, Russia’s warranty team leader Vladimir Konnov and the IAF’s team chief Group Captain Raju has asserted.  Meanwhile, defence superpowers like China, Britain and France are reportedly providing supporting roles via various transfer-of-technology and offset deals to enhance Malaysia’s defence prowess, local news reports said. Raju is leading an Indian contingent of four instructor pilots, one weapons systems officer, two engineers, 22 technicians and two administrative servicemen.  The IAF pilots would be retained until August, while their colleagues would return after the completion of their two-year tour of duty in July.  The trilateral Russian-Indian-Malaysian collaboration was something unique as it provided a stepping stone for the country to groom its next generation of airmen, the IAF officer said. — PTI








IAF to train Malaysian Sukhoi pilots 
Kuala Lumpur, May 17 Malaysia’s decision to allow Indian Air Force to groom, train and equip its frontline Sukhoi pilots is a proof of the Southeast Asian country’s faith on New Delhi, a senior IAF officer has said.  “The fact that a foreign country is permitted to groom, train and equip your frontline pilots is by itself a testament of the confidence and faith they have in us. This is a strong demonstration of a high-level of friendship and diplomacy which is very commendable,” IAF’s chief flight instructor Gp Capt KVR Raju was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.  Russia and India are committed to bolster Malaysia’s air defence and combat capability, so far as the Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker squadron is concerned, Russia’s warranty team leader Vladimir Konnov and the IAF’s team chief Group Captain Raju has asserted.  Meanwhile, defence superpowers like China, Britain and France are reportedly providing supporting roles via various transfer-of-technology and offset deals to enhance Malaysia’s defence prowess, local news reports said. Raju is leading an Indian contingent of four instructor pilots, one weapons systems officer, two engineers, 22 technicians and two administrative servicemen.  The IAF pilots would be retained until August, while their colleagues would return after the completion of their two-year tour of duty in July.  The trilateral Russian-Indian-Malaysian collaboration was something unique as it provided a stepping stone for the country to groom its next generation of airmen, the IAF officer said. — PTI
Soon, Army to have eyes in sky Looks at procuring Aerostats to enhance surveillance capabilities Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, May 17 After the Indian Air Force, the Army has now moved in to acquire Aerostats equipped with sensors and tracking devices for ground surveillance and battlefield monitoring. The Ministry of Defence has floated requests for information to procure and integrate Battlefield Surveillance Radars and Long-Range Reconnaissance and Observation Systems with Aerostats.  What is Aerostat?  It is basically a lighter-than-air balloon or a small airship that remains aloft at the required height and carries designated payloads to accomplish the desired task.  The benefit: Low-cost, long-endurance capability not possible with a fixed wing aircraft. Aerial systems also give a range and level of coverage not possible with ground systems.  The radar in this configuration is expected to detect ground targets up to 150 km, while the observation systems -- which generates video and infrared images of the ground ahead -- would be able to cover distances up to 60 km during day and night.  For the past few years, the Army has been using radars and observation systems, feeds from which have been integrated into its command and control network, to provide field commanders with near real-time information and intelligence to facilitate prompt decision-making during operations.  These systems have been deployed in some sectors along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir to help check cross-border infiltration. Initially, Israeli Battlefield Surveillance Radars were inducted but now Bharat Electronics Limited is indigenously manufacturing such systems. The Long-Range Reconnaissance and Observation Systems is also Israeli, a truck-based system with surveillance gadgets mounted on a telescopic mast to give it the required height to see over treetops and obstructions.  Aerostats are widely used by world militaries and made their debut in India with the IAF initially acquiring two EL-M2083 systems from Israel in 2007 with a follow-on order for six. These have been deployed in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat and along the Tamil Nadu coast. The IAF has projected a requirement of 13 Aerostats. After the IAF procured Aerostats, Pakistan also went in for similar systems from Lockheed Martin, an American firm which is supplying six advanced special operations transport aircraft to the IAF.  Following the Mumbai 2008 terror attack, the Navy is also procuring two Aerostats from Israel for coastal surveillance.










Huge cache of arms recovered from J&K forest
Press Trust of India, Monday May 17, 2010, Kupwara, Jammu & Kashmir Security forces today unearthed a militant hideout and recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition, including 100 grenades and 303 rifles, in a forest in Kupwara district.  The hideout was unearthed during a search and cordon operation which has been going in Afroda forests in the district since the past one week, a defence spokesman said.  Ten AK rifles, 160 MM mortars, one rocket projectile gun, 303 rifles, 100 grenades and 1000 rounds of ammunition were recovered from the hideout.  Eleven militants have been killed in gun battles with security forces in the area in the last one week.








Army places order for 124 more Arjun tanks
Press Trust Of India, Monday May 17, 2010, New Delhi The Army has placed a fresh order for an additional 124 'Arjun' main battle tanks, giving a much-needed fillip to the over three-decade-long DRDO programme.  The new order comes in the wake of reports that Arjun had outdone the Russian-made T-90 tanks during comparative trials in the deserts of Rajasthan earlier this year.  "The Army has decided to place fresh order for an additional home-built 124 Main Battle Tank Arjun. This is over and above the existing order of 124 tanks. The development follows the success of the indigenous MBT Arjun in the recent gruelling desert trials," a Defence Ministry spokesperson said on Monday.  The additional 124 MBTs would help the Army to raise two more regiments of the indigenous tanks.  The Army already has a 45-tank-strong regiment comprising Arjuns, which were delivered to the Army by the Avadi-based Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in the middle of last year.  The Army had in 2004 placed its first order for 124 Arjun MBTs, of which nearly 50 have been delivered by the HVF. The Defence Ministry had last week decided to go in for the development of second-generation of Arjun tanks to give a boost to Defence Research and Development Organisation's efforts in this regard.  During the desert trials, the Arjuns were pitted against the T-90s.  The DRDO and the HVF for some time now have been complaining that the Arjun production line at Avadi would dry up if fresh orders were not placed and that it could spell the death knell to the 36-year-old project.  The fears of the DRDO and the HVF stemmed from the fact that the Army was not too keen on placing fresh order over and above the existing order, arguing that the technology of Arjun would become outdated in the next 10 years.  Also, the Army's mechanised forces has started looking out for a futuristic main battle tank (FMBT) be it indigenous or imported.  The Arjun tank project to design and develop an MBT for the Army was approved by the government in 1974 with an aim of giving the required indigenous cutting edge to the mechanised forces.  "After many years of trials and tribulations, the tank has now proved its worth by its superb performance under various circumstances, such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets and accurately hitting targets, both stationary and moving with pinpointed accuracy," the spokesperson said.  "Its superior fire-power is based on accurate and quick target acquisition capability during day and night in all types of weather and shortest possible reaction time during combat engagements," the official said.  The Arjun project had in its initial days been besieged with troubles due to defects in its design such as those related to weight, size, night-vision capability and fire control system. These defects were corrected one by one over the years.  The fresh orders for production of Arjun would actually mean a new lease of life for the project that has suffered due to time and cost overruns.









Indian firm produces indigenous UAVS 
NEW DELHI: India has finally produced indigenous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), with the Indian Air Force (IAF) getting its first lot recently.  The UAVs, however, have not been developed by the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which the Indian government provides billions of rupees to develop defence equipment. A technology firm in Ludhiana, Bhogal Hobby Tech, a sister concern of Bhogal Cycles Limited, has come up with the design, to be provided at Rs 0.6 million a piece. The firm is in the business of producing aero models and accessories. Experts have tested the UAVs that weigh 28 kilogrammes, have an 80 cc engine and a wingspan of 5.5 metres (18 feet). “We supplied UAVs to forces in March and we have made the defence self-reliant,” says Manjeev Bhogal, managing partner of the firm and the brain behind the project.  The IAF had approached the firm to develop the UAVs, as the Israeli-made ones were too expensive and Israel was not providing spare parts for repairs, Bhogal said. He said the firm developed the vehicles on its own, “as the Indian Air Force made it clear that it will not give any monetary help for the research and development”. The firm already supplies trainer aero models and target aero models to IAF and the Indian Army. It was five years ago that Bhogal was approached by the IAF for aero models and seeing his expertise, was asked to concentrate on producing UAVs. iftikhar gilani








India, Russia to hold joint military drill
Press Trust of India / Moscow May 17, 2010, 19:06 IST  India and Russia will hold a joint military drill nicknamed Indra-2010 with the involvement of more than 150 Russian servicemen from the motorised mountain infantry brigade.  A Russian army delegation is currently in India to finalise the arrangements.  "The INDRA-2010 war games will be held on the Indian soil in autumn, in which 150 Russian servicemen from the motorised mountain infantry brigade will take part," Land Forces spokesman Col Oleg Yushkov here said.  India and Russia have been holding joint war games for several years now with the involvement of all the three services of their armed forces.  In 2007 and 2008, the paratroopers from the two nations had carried out joint anti-terror war games in Agra and Russia's Pskov region bordering on NATO-member Estonia.  Russia, which has raised independent motorised (mountain) brigade in the wake of militancy and its frontiers rolling back to North Caucasus following the Soviet collapse, is keen to learn from India's experience of mountain warfare and training expertise.







Agni-II missile successfully test-fired
Press Trust of India / Balasore May 17, 2010, 10:26 IST  Nuclear-capable Agni-II missile, with a range of 2000 kms, was today successfully test-fired by the Army as part of user trial from the Wheelers Island off Orissa coast.  The trial was conducted from a rail mobile system in Launch Complex-4 of Integrated Test Range (ITR) at around 9.15 am, defence sources said soon after the versatile surface-to-surface missile blasted off.  Data relating to various parameters of the mission's objectives was being analysed, the sources said.  Agni-II Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) has already been inducted into the services and today's test was carried out by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Army with logistic support from various laboratories and personnel of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).      A DRDO scientist said it was a training exercise to familiarise the end-users with different operational conditions.      The entire trajectory of the trial was tracked by a battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry observation stations, electro-optic instruments and a naval ship located near the impact point in the down range of Bay of Bengal.      The 20-metre long Agni-II is a two stage, solid-propelled ballistic missile. It has a launch weight of 17 tonnes and can carry a payload of 1000 kg over a distance of 2000 km.







Ajai Shukla: Doing defence with Uncle Sam
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi May 18, 2010, 0:04 IST  I spent this last week travelling in the US at the invitation of The Boeing Company’s defence arm, Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS). I visited Boeing’s rotorcraft facilities in Philadelphia; a US Navy aircraft carrier (USS Harry S Truman) and naval air base (Oceana) in Norfolk, Virginia; Boeing’s space division in Florida; and its C-17 transport aircraft plant in California. With the US-India defence relationship on a high-growth trajectory, here are my perceptions on what India is dealing with.  The most striking characteristic of the US defence industry is its primarily inward focus. About 85-90 per cent of the combined revenue of US defence corporations accrues from sales to the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard; just 10-15 per cent of their revenue comes from overseas. In contrast, non-US defence contractors — including those in Russia, Europe, Canada, Brazil, Korea and Singapore — need significant overseas business to cover their development costs. But the volume of sales to the US military amortises the development costs and renders overseas buyers like India peripheral in terms of market leverage.  India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) likes to believe that its big arms purchases place it in the driving seat while tendering and contracting. In buying from non-US companies, this is indeed true. But, in buying from the US, New Delhi’s leverage is hardly impressive.  Take, for example, India’s proposed purchase of 10 C-17 transport aircraft. The Boeing plant in Long Beach, California, has already delivered 200 C-17s to the US military and more are in the pipeline.  Or consider India’s procurement of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), a deal that has generated so much hype that South Block might believe that this is the biggest fighter purchase ever. In fact, Boeing, which is offering India the F/A-18 Super Hornet, has already sold the US Navy and Marine Corps over 900 F/A-18s (Hornets and Super Hornets); another 320 have been sold abroad. A single US Navy base at Oceana is home to 170 F/A-18s.  This commercial security allows US defence companies to walk away from contracts where New Delhi lays down conditions that are difficult to meet. Texas-based Bell Helicopters has already declined to participate in India’s tender for 197 Light Utility Helicopters (LuHs), citing unreasonable offset provisions. BAE Systems refused to offer its M777 gun in the Indian tender for ultra-light howitzers, apparently because the trial requirements were unreasonable.  Nor could New Delhi have missed the withdrawal by Lockheed Martin and Boeing from the tempting Indian contracts for consultancy assistance in developing the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). The reason for the withdrawal: the State Department bureaucracy refused to allow US participation, apparently because the contract involved passing on sensitive technologies to India.  And that is my second big impression: that India is not yet a part of the high table. When one of America’s long-standing defence partners — the UK or Australia or Japan — makes a request, whether for high technology, or early delivery of an important weapon system, a quick wink from Foggy Bottom (the Washington neighbourhood where the US State Department is headquartered) gets the department’s notorious bureaucracy to crank out a quick “yes”.  But Washington’s new strategic partners, like India, do not benefit from such perks. Even during the second Bush presidency, at the high-water mark of the US-India relationship, New Delhi’s requests were never accorded the priority clearances that London, Canberra and Tokyo enjoy. New Delhi complains that the ground floor in Washington doesn’t know what the top floor is doing, but the answer — according to Beltway insiders — is that it will take years of relationship-building before the American bureaucracy reacts to India with the Pavlovian positivity that is accorded to Washington’s three key defence partners.  The third issue that strikes a visitor is the care with which Washington safeguards its technological prowess. Technology is transferred overseas only after ensuring that the US defence forces retain a technological edge. For example, the AH-64 Apache helicopter, which will undergo trials in India this July, will be by any standards a cutting-edge weapons platform. But, even if India becomes the 12th international customer of the Apache, the US Army will fly a Block III version of the attack helicopter that will be equipped with technologies that no international customer will be given. And the reality of America’s technological dominance is that even the down-rated version of the Apache that international customers will operate might well be superior to its nearest competitor.  These are aspects of the US-India defence relationship that India must evaluate unsentimentally, shedding the rhetoric that creeps into discussions relating to the US. This is difficult, given the historical complexity of the relationship and the grudge that India nurses over Washington’s relationship with Islamabad. But, with America, what you see is what you get; it is up to India to cherry-pick and take what suits it.






Army Commanders’ Conference Commenced
                18:25 IST              The Army Commanders’ Conference commenced at Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (Army) on 17 May 10.  The five days conference, scheduled from 17 May 10 to 21 May 10 is being chaired by Army Chief   General  VK Singh.                    The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony  in his inaugural address   emphasised on the necessity for force modernisation to meet emerging threats.  He stressed on the requirement of Tri-Services synergy across the spectrum of conflict to meet our National Security needs.  The Defence Minister  brought out that Cyber Security is the next generation of threat.    He stressed the need to make our cyber space fully secure. He said that the Govt was taking all necessary steps to ensure  that the Indian Army is kept in a high state of operational preparedness as also ensuring high morale of troops through training  and welfare measures.                 The Army Chief General VK Singh during his address reviewed the Regional security situation, in which he spoke of the Asymmetric means adopted by non state actors and terrorists to achieve their objectives.  He also mentioned the multi spectral threats, which directly affect military doctrines and restructuring.          General Singh  stressed on the need to transform the Indian Army so as to customise its operational effectiveness.  Talking about training, the Army Chief emphasised on realistic, imaginative and practical training.  Referring to Low Intensity Conflict he stressed on “zero tolerance” to Human Rights  violations.                      Army Chief also emphasised on morals, ethics and value systems in the Army.  He brought out that professional commitment, loyalty, sacrifice and integrity were the need of the hour and that there would be no compromise with respect to the image of the Army.                       The Deputy Chief of Army Staff and Adjutant General also  presented updates in the afternoon session.  Discussion on Raising of  Arunachal and Sikkim scouts Battalions were also carried out.  While discussing the Counter Naxal Training it was brought out that 46,343 personnel of CPO have been trained so far.                 The Adjutant General brought out that in future a personality development programme will be included in the Training curriculum of recruit.  It was recommended to be on a trial basis for a period of 2 years.  With respect to empowerment of PBOR the following programmes have been given impetus:-                 (a)        Gyan Deep                    -           Providing Educational Certification to PBOR through IGNOU.                 (b)        Kshamta                       -           Developing of IT and English        speaking skill in PBOR.                 (c)        VTC                              -           Vocational Trg in last year of service through Centres of excellence which will be established at selected location.                            The five days conference will also focus on macro level issues pertaining to prevailing security challengers prevalent in the country and the neighbourhood, military strategy, operational logistics and matters impacting the welfare and enhancement of satisfaction levels amongst all ranks of the Indian Army.  The operational preparedness of the Army will be reviewed by senior commanders to include operational plans and the on going modernisation process.







Indian Army to raise new battalions frm Sikkim, Arunachal
New Delhi: The Army is planning to raise new battalions comprising youth from Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, states that have borders with China, on the lines of Ladakh Scouts.  The new battalions would be posted in their respective states.  The Army Commanders' Conference, which began its biannual session here today, discussed the plans to raise these new battalions in the two states bordering China, Army officers said today.  "The idea is to have battalions comprising sons of the soil from these two states. The battalions would be similar to the Ladakh Scouts, which are normally posted only in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir," they said.  On the prudence of having such battalions, officers said the two primary reasons were: the local youth's natural acclimatisation to the region's terrain, weather and environment and that they would fight to defend their land to the finish.  Asked how many battalions would be raised, they said finer details of the new battalions would come out after the Army commanders debated the issue threadbare.  Sikkim has a population of just 5.4 lakh as per 2001 census and according to government figures, 60 per cent of them are below 24 years of age. Arunachal Pradesh has a population of 10.9 lakh as per 2001 census and also boasts of a high youth population.  India's borders with China along Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh extends to 222 km and 1,540 km respectively. While China claims 90,000 sq km of Arunachal Pradesh as its own, it also claims a small tract of territory in Sikkim called the 'Finger Area' too.  While the border along Arunachal Pradesh remains disputed, China officially recognised India's sovereignty over Sikkim during then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Beijing in 2003.  The Army's Ladakh Scouts were raised in 1963 following the 1962 Sino-Indian war. The battalion was first used as pioneers and during the Indo-Pak Kargil war in 1999 they were accorded the status of full regiments of the Army. At present, the Army has five Ladakh Scouts regiments.  Ladakh Scouts officer Major Sonam Wangchuk is the latest recipient of the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), the second highest wartime gallantry medal. Earlier Chewang Rinchen had won MVC twice, first during the 1947-48 Indo-Pak war and again during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.  The Ladakh Scouts served outside Ladakh only once in 2006-07 when one of their units was posted in Chandimandir, the seat of the Army's Western Command. Army to raise new battalions from Sikkim, Arunachal



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