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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 27 Jul 2010

Ultras kill 4 SSB men along Bhutan border
Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS  Guwahati, July 26 Four personnel of Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB), including an assistant commandant, were killed and two others injured when suspected militants belonging to the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) ambushed their vehicle along India-Bhutan border on the fringe Manas National Park in Chirang district of Assam at around 11.45 am today.  An official source said Maruti Gypsy, in which the SSB men were patrolling the border, came under heavy firing of militants inside a dense forest between Siklajhar and Kuhibari area, about 40 km from Bijni town in Chirang district.  The personnel were from the 15th Battalion of the SSB and posted in a new company-level border outpost (BoP) along the Bhutan border near Manas National Park. The slain SSB men were identified as Assistant Commandant Kishore Konal, sub-inspector Pratap Singh, constable Amit Kumar Tiwari and driver H Sherpa.  The injured included one head constable and one constable. One of the constables managed to slip out of the vehicle under attack and called up the company headquarter from his mobile from inside the jungle to inform about the incident.

Interceptor missile tested successfully
Tribune News Service  DRDO successfully completed the fourth consecutive Interceptor Missile test in Endo atmospheric regime at 15 Km altitude off ITR, Chandipur, Orissa DRDO successfully completed the fourth consecutive Interceptor Missile test in Endo atmospheric regime at 15 Km altitude off ITR, Chandipur, Orissa on Monday.  Bangalore, July 26 The DRDO today carried out its fourth consecutive successful interceptor missile test against an incoming ballistic missile. The missile fired in endo-atmospheric regime at 15 km altitude at 10.05 am achieved a direct hit. The single stage interceptor missile fitted with directional warhead and other advanced systems has neutralised the target, which was mimicking incoming enemy ballistic missile.  To mimic the incoming enemy’s ballistic missile trajectory, a target missile was launched from Launch Complex-III, Interim Test Range, Chandipur. The interceptor missile fitted with directional warhead was launched from Wheeler Island and it destroyed the incoming missile, which broke into fragments and was tracked by radars and other sensors. All weapon system elements, including command and control, communication and radars performed satisfactorily.  DRDO chief VK Saraswat and others including IAF vice-chief Air Marshal PK Barbora and Maj Gen VK Saxena of Army Air Defence witnessed the flight test.

  Lest we forget An ode to the Kargil War heroes
 It has been 11 years since the government officially declared that the limited war in Kashmir’s high altitude Kargil region had ended with India wresting control of portions of this barren and inhospitable geographical region earlier lost to surreptitious Pakistani occupation. The two-month war, which began with air strikes on May 26, 1999, ended after Pakistani forces were defeated by Indian troops and were forced to withdraw from the remaining occupied portions after US President Bill Clinton strongly urged Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to withdraw his Army which had violated the Line of Control (LoC).  After initially being caught completely unawares, the Indian Army assisted by air strikes valiantly fought the Pakistanis for every peak and ridge that the latter had occupied across the Indian side of the LoC. The assaults, led by young officers, some of whom were barely in the mid-20s, were testimony to the grit and bravery of the Indian Army which has served the nation with aplomb in the country’s 63 year post-Independence history. From nation consolidation comprising the 1947-48 Kashmir war and operations in Junagadh and Hyderabad to nation preservation comprising defence of India’s borders against Pakistani and Chinese intrusions, counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations and various other internal security operations including quelling riots and civic action programmes – the Indian Army is among the world’s busiest, most experienced and professional armies. The Indian armed forces’ apolitical character and the unquestioned supremacy of civilian control in an otherwise challenging region comprising countries ruled by military or authoritarian rule is a matter of considerable pride and achievement.  The Indian armed forces have repeatedly earned the nation’s gratitude. But it remains important that the armed forces are constantly looked after. During the Kargil war, the Army was found to be deficient of even basic mountaineering equipment not to mention weapon systems. There was a near absence of military intelligence on the intrusion. Although some of these issues have since been addressed, there is considerable scope for further improvement. The sacrifices of our brave soldiers must never be allowed to go in vain.

Intelligence leak: ISI aiding Taliban in Afghanistan
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington DC  Pakistan is allegedly allowing representatives of the Inter Services Intelligence agency to meet directly with the Taliban in “secret strategy sessions” to organise militants fighting US troops in Afghanistan as well as plot the assassination of Afghan leaders, according to leaked US military field reports.  Both the Obama and the Bush administrations have confronted Pakistani military brass with accusations of ISI involvement in acts of terror in Afghanistan, and have even presented top Pakistani officials with lists of ISI and military operatives believed to be working with the militants.  The documents, leaked by WikiLeaks to the New York Times, provide an insider’s account of the tension between the US and Pakistan over the latter’s role in fomenting acts of terrorism in Afghanistan.  The field reports also show that Polish intelligence had warned of an attack against the Indian Embassy in Kabul - a week before the bombing in 2008, which Indian and Afghan intelligence later concluded was the handiwork of the ISI.  “Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harboured strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service has guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants,” the Times reported.  The paper said that despite the deep-seated mistrust on the US side, it was difficult to link the ISI directly with Al-Qaida.  The field reports indicate that US soldiers fighting in Afghanistan are inundated with accounts of a “network of Pakistani assets and collaborators.” A lot of the data was gathered from sources close to Afghan intelligence, which considers Pakistan a threat.  The Times said current and former US officials said reports of the ISI’s collaboration with the insurgency in Afghanistan was “broadly consistent” with other classified intelligence.  The field reports also revealed US anger over Pakistan’s unwillingness to crack down on insurgents operating near the Afghan border. “The reports suggest, however, that the Pakistani military has acted as both ally and enemy, as its spy agency runs what American officials have long suspected is a double game appeasing certain American demands for cooperation while angling to exert influence in Afghanistan through many of the same insurgent networks that the Americans are fighting to eliminate,” the Times said.  “American officials have described Pakistan’s spy service as a rigidly hierarchical organisation that has little tolerance for ‘rogue’ activity,” The Times reported, adding, “But Pakistani military officials give the spy service’s ‘S Wing’ - which runs external operations against the Afghan government and India - broad autonomy, a buffer that allows top military officials deniability.”  Another field report identified a colonel in the ISI plotting with the Taliban to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai. National Security Adviser James Jones condemned the leak of the field reports in a strongly worded statement on Sunday. He said the leaks would put the lives of “Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security.”  “The documents posted by Wikileaks reportedly cover a period of time from January 2004 to December 2009. On December 1, 2009, President Obama announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on al-Qaeda and Taliban safe-havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years,” Jones said.

Permanent Commission Submit rules that bar women: SC to Army
R Sedhuraman Legal Correspondent  New Delhi, July 26 The Supreme Court today asked the Army to produce within a week the relevant rules that prevented it from granting permanent commission to women even as the Centre argued that it was a policy decision not to allow such a facility.  A Bench comprising Justices JM Panchal and Gyan Sudha Misra granted time to the Army after Additional Solicitor General Parag Tripathi said instructions issued on August 1, 1996, under Rule 15 of the Army Act debarred grant of permanent commission to women officers.  Arguing on the Army’s appeal against the March 12 verdict of the Delhi High Court, the ASG said the HC had failed to consider this legal provision while directing grant of permanent commission to women.  The Bench felt the provision amounted to discrimination and as such violated Article 14 of the Constitution. The ASG argued that if it was so it had to be struck down by the court before asking the Army to grant such a commission to women officers. The provision could not be circumvented in any case, Tripathi contended.  Counsel Meenakshi Lekhi and Rekha Palli, both appearing for some of the affected women officers, said the Army had already relieved some of them on May 28 this year. Upon this, the Bench listed the matter for next hearing on August 2.  Tripathi said the question whether women were entitled to permanent commission could be decided only after considering the scheme of the Constitution and the Army Act. This was a scheme which had an impact on the disciplinary structure of the Army. Women were allowed only in certain areas such as education and medicine to prevent the enemy from capturing them as prisoners of war.  Justice Panchal wanted to know why the Army had taken a contrary stand when the Air Force had given a report stating that it would grant permanent commission. Tripathi said the service conditions in the Army were different.  The Bench felt if the instructions had not been issued through a notification these would not be binding in nature. The ASG said he would put the factual position in an affidavit for which a week’s time was granted.

India successfully test-fires interceptor missile
Press Trust of India / Balasore (orissa) July 26, 2010, 11:05 IST  India today successfully test-fired its indigenously developed interceptor missile, capable of destroying any in-coming hostile ballistic missile, from the Integrated Test Range at Wheeler Island off Orissa coast.  Aimed at developing a full-fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system, the trial was carried out from two launch sites of ITR off the Orissa coast, defence sources said.    The whole exercise is to achieve the desired result with precision, said a senior defence scientist.     The target missile, a modified surface-to-surface 'Prithvi' was first lifted off from a mobile launcher at 10:05 am from the launch complex-3 of ITR at Chandipur-on-sea, 15 km from here.     The interceptor "AAD" missile, positioned at Wheeler Island, about 70 km across sea from Chandipur getting signals from radars tracked it a few minutes later and than intercepted at a definite altitude in the mid-air over the sea, the sources said.     While the test launch of both target and hit missiles were deemed success from their respective test sites, detailed results, specifically the 'kill' effects of the interceptor will be known after all data analysis from multiple tracking sources, a defence official said soon after both the missiles roared into the overcast sky leaving behind a thin layer of smoke.     An "AAD" missile was used as interceptor at low altitude, the sources said, adding that the indigenously developed new hypersonic interceptor missiles was designed to be engaged in endo and exo atmospheric condition.     The interceptor designed for endo-atmospheric condition (up to 30 km altitude) is a seven-metre-long and single stage solid rocket propelled guided missile, equipped with an inertial navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator totally under command by the data up-linked from the sophisticated ground based radars to the interceptor.     Similarly, the interceptor designed for exo-atmospheric condition is a two-stage missile with a maximum interception altitude of 80 km, they said.     The interceptor missile had its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and its own radars.  This is the fourth time that the DRDO has tested its intercepting missile. The three previous tests were conducted on November 27, 2006, December 6, 2007 and March 6, 2009 from Wheeler Island.     The fourth test which was scheduled in mid-March was put-off twice and considered abandoned. Due to some technical snags in the sub-system of the missile, the mission was aborted prior to take off on March 14. The next day the target missile deviated from its pre-determined trajectory, which forced the scientists of DRDO to put-off the trial of the interceptor missile, the sources said.     As a safety measure, the Balasore district administration had temporarily shifted about 400 civilian families residing within two km radius of the ITR launch pad-3 at Chandipur from where the target missile was test fired.

US military aid to Pakistan may be misused against India: Govt
Press Trust of India / New Delhi July 26, 2010, 11:00 IST  Holding that there was every possibility of recent US military aid to Pakistan being used against India, Government today said that it will provide all assistance to the armed forces to protect every inch of its territory.  Antony told reporters here that during his meeting with US National Security Advisor James Jones and Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen last week he had conveyed India's concerns in this regard and pointed out that the support was "disproportionate" to Pakistan's requirement to fight against the Taliban.  "We also feel that there is every possibility of diverting this sophisticated equipment against India," he said after laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti here to mark the 11th anniversary of the Kargil war against Pakistan.  Asked if the government had failed to capitalise on the gains made by Indian soldiers during the Kargil battle, he said government will provide whatever was needed for the armed forces to protect every inch of Indian territory.  "We will strengthen our armed forces...Whatever they may require to strengthen the Indian security apparatus so they can protect Indian territory," he said.     Antony had told Mullen that India's worries that Pakistan was diverting the American military assistance to building capacities against India.     The Defence Minister had said that arms aid to Pakistan, worth billions of dollars annually, was "disproportionate to the war on terror" for which it was intended and the US should ensure it was used only for the purpose meant for.     He had also suggested that the US should set up a monitoring mechanism to ensure that there was no diversion of the aid which Pakistan receives.     Mullen had said that the military aid to Pakistan did not in any way "greatly imbalance" its capabilities vis-a-vis India.     Asked whether the US would take a re-look at the assistance if India provided evidence of misuse by Pakistan, he had termed it as a "hypothetical" question but said if there was a change in use of the weapon systems, the US would look at it.  

Army Chief in historic perspective
 Comment Brig (Retd) Shamsul Haq Qazi  Announcement regarding extension in the term of incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has ignited new interest in the office of COAS.  In view of critical roles of the past army chiefs, it would not be out of place to have a look on how Pakistan’s first army chief was appointed.  The present Army Chief has served with dignity and top efficiency and has been able to satisfy all stake holders, the President, the PM and the Americans. He has very effectively dealt with terrorists and miscreants.  It would however, be interesting to recall the circumstances under which the first Pakistani Army Chief was appointed by selection method and which set the pattern for all subsequent appointments. Back in 1947 the British Prime Minister Major Atlee made startling declaration on 20 February 1947 that unless Congress and Muslim League came to some political understanding, the British government would unilaterally quit the sub-continent by June 1948 and hand over power to the parties in power; meaning thereby to the then existing provincial governments. This suited the Congress as they always demanded the British to quit India and leave the political settlement to the Hindu Congress. Atlee sowed the seed of balkanization in his declaration and the Congress leaders immediately started mustering the necessary muscles to grab and hold onto the central power being vacated by the British.  The Hindu army officers in Delhi formed a political cell under Lt Col Cole (Later General Cole) a relation of Pandit Nehru, to act on orders of Congress leaders. I was then serving in GHQ (I) as Staff Captain. We had, in fact, already founded a secret political cell of young Muslim officers, of which I was the secretary general, to act on orders of the Muslim League high command. The post independence surviving officers of our group included Brig. Gulzar Ahmed (Comd 7 Baluch Regt), Brig Muhammad Suleman (Signals), Col Ghani (Ordnance), Col Maqbul Elahi Darwesh (Indian Navey later Ordnance).  A few days after the British Prime Minister’s declaration I was briefed by Mr Mumtaz Hassan, Private Secretary (later Governor State Bank and Finance Secretary) to HM Finance, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, that with the help and advice of Hindu army officers, the Congress leaders had decided to declare martial law immediately on departure of the British and that Pandit Nehru had agreed to head the martial law government. The league high command therefore, wanted to enlist the support of Muslim army officers and they wanted me to introduce available senior officers to Muslim League leadership. Consequently the first such officer to be introduced to league high command was Brig (later Major General) M Akbar Khan, of the RECRUIT fame, Commander Meerut Sub Area. I personally took Brig Akbar Khan to HM Finance’s chamber in the Assembly building at New Delhi. The meeting lasted for about an hour and broke at lunch time. After leaving Liaquat Ali’s office, Brig Akbar Khan drove to Pandit Nehru’s residence at No 17 York Road. On my protest, he offered the excuse that Mr Kidwai the UP Home Minister was staying with Pandit Nehru and as Area Commander he was to report the Garh Mukteshwar riots situation to him. In fact Brig Akbar Khan knew that his visit to the league leader would be reported and being the senior most Indian officer in the army he thought he should not lose the Congress support for his promotion to the top position. As such he tried to balance his political visits. But at this stage he failed to see the clear writing on the wall that Pakistan was soon to become a reality.  Next morning, I checked up with Mr Mumtaz Hassan who told me that Nawabzada Sahib was not impressed. I cross checked with another friend of mine, Mr Altaf Hussain, Dawn’s Editor, who was closer to Mr Liaquat Ali Khan. Mr Altaf confirmed what Mr Mumtaz Hassan had said and also related the unkind remarks made by Nawabzada sahib. After announcement of 3 June 1947 Plan, Brig Akbar Khan, in an effort to make amends, asked me to obtain for him an audience with Quaid-i- Azam. I took him to Mr K. H Khurshid, Qauid’s secretary. He asked us to come later at 10 pm. But when we came back, the Quaid and Mr Liaqaut Ali Khan came out of the drawing room and from a distance, Quaid-i-Azam said, “I am sorry, I am very busy; I have no time, Good Bye!” I related to Brig Akbar Khan the Punjabi saying “Wele dian Namazan te Kuwele dian Takran”. (One should not miss the opportunity).  After Akbar Khan, other Muslim Officers were introduced to League leaders, including Wing Commander Muhammad Khan Janjua and Lt Col Gulzar Ahmed. The latter said, “if ordered by Quaid-i-Azam, no son of mother (in Punjab “Koi Mai Da Lal) could stop his 7 Baluch Regt marching from Cawnpur to New Delhi. League high command was very impressed with both of them and entrusted them with secret tasks of Protecting League high command at New Delhi. The Officer, next senior to Brig Akbar Khan, who whole heartedly cooperated with the League leadership was Brig Agha Raza, Director of Personnel at Meerut. He was, therefore, later picked up as Pakistan’s representative on Military Wing of the Partition Committee headed by Mr Liaqaut Ali Khan on Pakistan’s side. At the time, Field Marshal Ayub Khan was a relatively unknown officer, serving as colonel in-charge of Selection Board at Dehra Dun, working under both Brig Akbar Khan and Brig. Agha Raza. After Independence, Brig Raza was promoted Major General and appointed Adjutant General at GHQ. Col Ayub Khan was promoted Brig and appointed as Pakistan’s representative on the Punjab Boundary Force where he made a mess of it and was banished to East Pakistan as local unpaid Major General. I was Staff Captain at Dacca but was soon transferred to Rawalpindi.  General Raza was so sure of becoming the first Pakistani Army Chief that in his lectures to officers he used to refer to Pakistan Army as “My Army”. It may be interesting to note that in India, Pandit Nehru had ordered that in the Indian army from the day of independence, all command appointments from C-in-C, downwards must be held by Indian officers only, and that where any Indian officer felt lack of experience he could retain the British incumbent as his advisor but not as commander. In Pakistan, unfortunately our first PM, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, because of his experience of wavering senior Muslim officers, decided to retain British officers from C-in-C down even to unit commanders level. The command and control of our army thus remained virtually with the British and we had to pay very dearly for this folly when our British C-in-C refused to obey government orders to march Pakistan troops into Kashmir. Consequently, we lost Kashmir to India whose army occupied Srinagar without any resistance.  Later, towards the end of 1948, Mr Altaf Hussain came all the way from Karachi and sent for me at Flashman’s Hotel Rawalpindi. He said that he was sent by Mr Liaquat Ali Khan to assess General Raza’s suitability to take over as first Pakistani Army Chief. I told him that Gen Raza tended to be foul-mouthed and was therefore, particularly not popular with the British officers. I however, added that it was hardly the occasion to question his suitability, because he whole heartedly cooperated with ML leadership at the time when some other senior officers were reluctant to even meet the League leaders. I said the foremost quality of our army chief should be his total commitment to and faith in Pakistan’s ideology and that very few of the available Sandhurst Trained Officers could fulfil that condition. However, it appeared that Liaquat Ali Khan was adversely influenced by our British C-in-C and therefore, Altaf Hussain failed to convince the PM in favour of General Raza. Consequently the later was passed over and instead General Ayub Khan a relatively junior officer was selected as the first Pakistani Army Chief. It is hardly necessary for me to say as to who was more competent of the two but because General Raza was totally committed to Muslim League, I had no doubt that if appointed army chief he would not have taken over the government.  Some people hold General Ayub Khan responsible for all subsequent martial laws because they argue that he was the one who had set the pattern that recurred afterwards with regular intervals (Also according to Quran, whosever initiates a wrong doing is also to be held accountable for all similar subsequent wrong doings).  Because the first army chief was appointed by selection it appears to have become a general usage and therefore, by and large all subsequent army chiefs were appointed by selection. Since neither the first Army Chief nor any subsequent chief brought us any military marvel, one might then ask as to what has been the basis of these selections? Apparently the selection is meant to ensure appointment of the ablest, but it is well known that behind the façade of ability, they looked only for a “safer” person. Of the subsequent Army Chiefs, most of them usurped power by imposing martial law. This is hardly a commendable performance and we must therefore, look for the weak links in our system. We can also examine the system followed by our neighbour India who inherited the same army system, organization and traditions but did not face any martial law.  At the time of independence, the basic weakness in our army was the lack of political awareness amongst our senior officers. Under the circumstances the initial Muslim League government ignored political loyalty for what they thought professional competence and decided to retain British officers at all levels of command. Following British recommendations blindly they by-passed Agha Raza in army and MK Janjua in the Air Force and instead elevated their juniors Ayub Khan and Asghar Khan, both British nominees to the top positions. Consequently we saw in 1957 that while the nation was celebrating the centenary of 1857 Jang-e-Azadi our army was celebrating the centenary of the units raised by the British to quell what the British called the mutiny of 1857. Both the events were simultaneously being celebrated under the government patronage.  The tragic part of this initial handing over of our defence to the British officers was that our political leadership made no effort to understand the armed forces and as such the successive. Chiefs ran their respective service as their personal fiefdoms. Ayub Khan was a competent officer with a towering personality and yet he preferred to run the army by intimidation rather than by inspiration. He devised the probation system to keep commanders at all level under his thumb. Commanders when promoted were kept on probation for a number of months during which period they could be relieved of promotion on slightest excuse. He also organized a “hatchet squad” of British officers called C-in-C’s Training Advisory Staff (TAS) which was used to cow down and even eliminate senior commanders not liked by the Chief. One such victim of the TAS machination was our top indoctrinated officer Brig Gulzar Ahmed of 7 Baloch Regt fame. I was then staff Officer to Chief of General Staff and was pained to see General Ganga Hayaud Din being ridiculed by the junior TAS British officers, although technically the TAS was supposed to work under the CGS. Such machinations produced lackeys in the army and therefore Ayub Khan was forced to fight the 1965 war with some 3rd rate commanders. I was then commanding a unit in this armoued division and we commanding officers were unanimous in our view that ours was a good internal security formation and that Ayub Khan did not mean to fight a war with it. Our assessment proved correct when the Indians mauled our ace Armoured division in the Khem Keran sector which eventually resulted in the down fall of Ayub Khan and also sowed seeds of country’s disintegration.  The production of lackey type officers was carried to extreme limits during the Yahya regime when some officers promoted generals were commonly known in the army as Butler General and Batmen General.  It is not fair to assume that every corps commander is not fit to become the Army Chief. In fact Army Chief’s appointment by seniority would ensure that only those generals would be promoted corps commanders who on turn would be able to also head the army.  I can also add that some time back in London I found a book “Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Battle for Pakistan” written by Kutubuddin Aziz. On pages 92 and 93 based, on transfer of power documents in Indian Office London, Mr Kutubuddin Aziz wrote that Quaid-i-Azam and Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan separately protested to the Viceroy, before Pakistan was accepted, about Pandit Nehru using Indian Army to occupy the whole of sub-continent under military rule headed by himself.

SC to Army: Show rule on women
TNN, Jul 27, 2010, 03.02am IST NEW DELHI: The Army top brass and the defence ministry will have to do some quick introspection over their stubborn stand not to grant permanent commission (PC) to women in combat units as the Supreme Court on Monday tersely termed it as prima facie discriminatory.  Dealing with the MoD's appeal against a Delhi High Court order directing grant of PC to women in the Army, a Bench comprising Justices J M Panchal and Gyan Sudha Misra questioned the legal basis for the Army to refuse permanent commission to women short service commission (SSC) officers.  It asked additional solicitor general Parag Tripathi to reason out why it was difficult for the Army to grant women PC when Indian Air Force (IAF) had complied with the HC order. It also asked the ASG to produce in two weeks the gazette notifications prohibiting PC to women in the Army.  Challenging the March 12 judgment of the Delhi HC, the Army had moved SC seeking a stay on the verdict on the ground that grant of permanent commission to women would have an adverse impact on the Army's cadre management and human resources policy.  But the Bench said: "This benefit (permanent commission for women) is being given by Air Force. This same benefit is given to males in the Army, then why this discrimination?"  Referring to Section 12 of the Army Act, Tripathi said, "The Army Instruction of 1992 and 1998 issued under Section 12 clearly states that women officers will not be granted permanent commission. This is the policy decision. Unless this is set aside, the HC order cannot be implemented."  But the Bench was not convinced and said, "Your case is that the question of discrimination could not have been gone into without challenging the notification. This objection should have been taken at the threshold, not at the stage of deciding merits."  Finding that the twin notifications of 1992 and 1998 were not placed on record, the ASG sought a week's time to place them on record. As per the gazette notification of 1992, short service commission for women was fixed for a period of five years. By the subsequent notification in 1998, it was extended to 10 years.  Advocate Rekha Palli, appearing for women SSC officers, clarified that at no stage during the proceedings before the HC had the Army even mentioned its notifications. Moreover, the petition had challenged the subsequent notification dated July 20, 2006, which the HC had found unreasonable and violative of Article 14 (right to equality), Article 16 (equal opportunity in public employment) and Article 21 (right to life), she said.  Tripathi explained that employment of women officers was restricted to two wings, namely Education and Judge Advocate General (JAG), while excluding them from the combat arm and combat support units.

Ajai Shukla: An Indian journey sans Bofors baggage
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi July 27, 2010, 0:11 IST  In adversity, the saying goes, lies opportunity. Applying that principle, India’s indigenous defence complex is at a crucial moment where a resolute decision could make it a genuine supplier of high-end artillery equipment, instead of a mere spectator to a global shopping spree by the Indian military.  Last Friday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) signalled (if confirmation were needed) that it lacks the political will to cast aside the procedure in selecting a 155-millimetre artillery gun for the army. With the CBI proceeding against Singapore Technologies Kinetic (STK), one of the two remaining companies in the fray, the MoD restarted the entire process of tendering and trials rather than awarding the contract to the sole vendor remaining, UK-headquartered BAE Systems, which offered the politically contentious Bofors gun.  It is time to end this long-playing farce of trial and rejection and put the MoD and global vendors of artillery systems out of their misery. The Indian Army must be frankly told that it will receive no 155-mm guns for the next five-to-seven years. And a predominantly Indian consortium must be brought together to build an Indian gun within that period.  There are systems that remain beyond the capability of India’s defence establishment. Aircraft engines, even tank engines, have proven too complex for India to develop. The DRDO has also been unable to produce world-class night-vision devices; electro-optic sensors; and electronically scanned radars. But India’s growing technological capability has given it the capability to take on projects that were unthinkable two decades ago: fourth-generation fighters; advanced warships; even a tank with a gun that has proven to be world class.  India has the skills for building a 155-mm artillery gun; leadership is needed to bring them together. The DRDO, increasingly sophisticated and technologically capable, is yearning to harness the proven manufacturing skills of India’s private sector. Global majors like Bharat Forge and L&T are straining at the leash, willing to put money and muscle into what they have identified as a promising business vertical.  The Pinaka multi-barrelled rocket launcher (MBRL) has already proven how effectively the DRDO can leverage the private sector’s manufacturing skills. A state-of-the-art system, with electronics that are superior to even Russian frontline MBRLs, a single Pinaka regiment can obliterate a target 40 km away by pouring down 72 rockets onto it in just 44 seconds. The DRDO’s choice of L&T and Tata Power as industrial partners in the Pinaka project ensured that a quality design was enhanced by skilled manufacture. In the past, poor manufacturing practices, especially those of the public sector Ordnance Factory Board, had tarnished the reputation of otherwise well-designed DRDO products like the 5.56-mm INSAS rifle.  The MoD must bring together a public-private consortium, forming a joint venture (JV) — call it, for now, the Indian Artillery Project (IAP) — in which the DRDO, the Indian Army, and the prime private sector participants have financial stakes. The structure of the JV must allow for quick and flexible decision-making, without crippling regulations that mandate multi-vendor tendering and L-1 (lowest cost) procurement. And, most importantly, a project management group must be drawn from the IAP partners to set and monitor timelines ruthlessly.  The army will understandably resist this project, being desperately short of artillery and wanting guns yesterday. The most crucial component of combat capability, artillery guns — firing high explosive shells at faraway targets — have caused three quarters of all battlefield casualties over the last century of wars. But the soldiers will come around, given assurances about delivery within a clear time frame. Their choice is a stark one: continuing trials of foreign guns with no light certain at the end of the tunnel; or an official moratorium of five-to-seven years, followed by the simplified procurement processes of indigenous equipment. The army is also aware that an indigenous 155-mm gun can be integrated ground-up into the overarching Artillery Command, Control and Communications System (ACCCS) that networks artillery resources into a seamless whole.  If that is acceptable to the army, it must frame its requirements realistically, rather than demanding a system so advanced that it remains a dream. If a range of 40 km will suffice tactically, it is self-defeating to hold up the project by asking for 50 km. The DRDO too, with its institutional love for living in the future, will have to be firmly pegged to the here and now.  Constituting and financing the Indian Artillery Project will be small change, given what the MoD plans to pay global vendors for the four different 155-mm guns that the army needs. Multiple procurements are simultaneously unfolding under the MoD-sanctioned Artillery Modernisation Plan. The tender for 1,580 towed guns is worth an estimated Rs 8,000 crore. Another tender for 140 ultralight howitzers for mountain formations is worth over Rs 3,000 crore. Also being processed is a Rs 3,500 crore purchase of 100 medium guns, mounted on tracked vehicles, for India’s mechanised forces. Another Rs 4,000 crore is earmarked for 180 vehicle-mounted guns for self-propelled regiments. The total money in play here is some Rs 18,500 crore.  The MoD’s procurement procedures have a “Make” category, which has been envisioned for just such a project. The time for the Indian Artillery Project is now.

Kargil war victory celebrated  
PTI Monday, July 26, 2010 21:02    Defence minister AK Antony today led the nation in celebrating the victory in the 1999 war in which Pakistani intruders were ousted from the strategic heights of Kargil in a three-month conflict.   To mark the solemn occasion of 11th Kargil Vijay Divas, Antony laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti here along with Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and Army Vice Chief Lt Gen PC Bhardwaj.   The Army Chief is currently on a visit to Vietnam.   Vijay Divas was also celebrated all over Jammu and Kashmir with minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju leading the defence forces in paying tributes to the martyrs.   Raju laid wreath at the War Memorial in Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar. Similar celebrations were held on Udhampur and Drass in Kargil sector.   Raju, who is on a two-day visit to the state, was received by Lt Gen NC Marwah, Commander of Chinar Corps which was responsible for the operational conduct of the Kargil war.   "The Kargil conflict was a sad but decisive part of India's victory in safeguarding our territory. I am deeply honoured to be able to pay my respects to the martyrs of the war on this day at Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar," Raju said on the occasion.   In another function at the Srinagar Air Force Station, Air Officer Commanding Air Commodore Upkarjit Singh led the air warriors in paying floral tributes to martyrs.   At Udhampur, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal placed a wreath at the War Memorial. A candle-light vigil was also organised at Shradhanjali Park to mark the occasion.   At Drass in Kargil Sector, a series of events were organised at the war locations of Operation Vijay and the celebrations were led by Leh Corps Commander Lt Gen SK Singh and attended by officers from Army, Air Force and civil officials besides Kargil martyrs' next of kin.   Parents of Captain Vijayant Thapar and other martyrs were present on the occasion and remembered how Indian troops dislodged the Pakistani intruders from the icy and barren heights of Kargil.   An exhibition of war memorabilia was also held. In the evening, a mass band display was organised followed by a candle light vigil at the War Memorial. In a fitting finale to the celebrations, the battle locations of Tiger Hill and Tololing were lit up.   All army and IAF units that participated in Operation Vijay also celebrated the victory at their respective current locations of deployment.

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