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Friday, 27 August 2010

From Today's Papers -

GCM Verdict Rebuke, pension loss for Col guilty of molestation
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, August 26 A Colonel, who has been held guilty of molesting a woman officer under his command, was on Thursday severely reprimanded by the General Court Martial (GCM). Besides, the officer will suffer a six- year loss of service for the purpose of fixing pension.  The GCM had yesterday evening held Col A. Mishra of the Electronics and Mechanical Engineers’ battalion guilty for the offence. The sentence was pronounced today by the GCM, whose verdict is subject to confirmation by the convening authority.  The officer has the option of going for an appeal against the verdict before the convening authority or thereafter can move the Armed Forces Tribunal.  The GCM, presided by Brig Arvind Datta, held the officer guility on three of the four charges levelled against him under provisions of the Army Act. In May 2007, he had allegedly called the woman officer to his residence on the pretext of giving her some instructions and misbehaved with her. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.  According to sources, there have been around 20 cases so far where allegations of sexual misconduct have been levelled against senior officers, including generals. Some time ago, a court martial had cashiered a Major General posted at Leh on similar charges. More recently, the wife of a Colonel had alleged that a Lieutenant General had molested her during a foreign tour, though a Court of Inquiry reportedly absolved the General. A naval officer posted in Russia and an Army officer on UN assignment are currently in the dock over charges of sexual misconduct.

Naga military leader killed in gun battle
Bijay Sankar Bora Tribune News Service  Guwahati, August 26 A military leader of rebel Naga group Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) was killed in a gun battle with security forces in Mon district of Nagaland today. Five rebels were arrested along with a huge cache of arms and ammunitions.  A spokesman of the Assam Rifles said a team of the paramilitary force and the Territorial Army was on a routine patrol when it spotted suspicious movement of rebels in Pungma Colony. When challenged by a jawan, the rebels fired on him triggering a gun battle that resulted in killing of a rebel and arrest of five others. Those held said the slain rebel was a ‘Major’ belonging to the outfit.  The rebels were in possession of weapons — in sharp violation of ceasefire rules —said security personnel. The NSCN-IM, which is in ceasefire with the security forces since 1997, has been often been accused of ceasefire violation.

  Prevent Taliban from staging a comeback in Afghanistan
Gurmeet Kanwal  THE recent Kabul conference was aimed at achieving lofty goals but it ended with nothing more than the usual pledges of additional aid. Almost nine years after the US and its allies effected a regime change in Afghanistan and six months after President Barack Obama decided to send 30,000 more American troops to the beleaguered nation, Afghanistan remains mired in instability. The Taliban may not be winning, but it is not losing either and the US and its NATO/ ISAF allies have little to show by way of lasting success in counter-insurgency operations.  The Lashkar-e-Toiyaba has joined hands with the Taliban-Al-Qaeda combine to fight the allies and wanton acts of violence are a daily occurrence. With neither side making major gains, the emerging situation is best described as a strategic stalemate. Consequent to President Obama’s carefully considered “surge”, there are now 93,000 US troops in Afghanistan. This figure is set to rise to 105,000 by the end of the summer, but even then the coalition forces will remain thin on the ground.  While it is too early to draw firm conclusions, success in recent operations has eluded the allies. The combined US and British operations in Helmand province — the nucleus of Afghanistan’s narcotics-driven terrorism — succeeded in driving the Taliban out of its strongholds but only temporarily, and the allies have had to once again launch fresh operations in Helmand. Violence continues to persist in Marja despite large-scale Marine Corps operations.  Major military operations in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar have been delayed. Inevitably, it will be a long and bloody exercise. The Indian experience has been that it takes a ratio of 1:30 — that is, the sustained deployment of 30 security forces personnel for every terrorist — to gain and maintain military control over an area affected by insurgency or rural terrorism.  As has been witnessed in the Kashmir valley, as soon as the troops pack their tents and go away to launch operations in another area, the terrorist groups make a triumphant comeback. They once again lay down the law through fatwas, collect “taxes”, extort money for unhindered trade and dispense their peculiar brand of justice. Since the Afghan state cannot effectively deliver governance and justice, the people grudgingly ask difficult.  Urban areas require an even more concentrated deployment and the local civilian police and para-military forces are much better equipped to handle these rather than regular armies. Despite the best efforts of the allies, the Afghan National Army (currently numbering 1,10,000; final target 2,60,000) and the Afghan Police have failed to acquire the professional ethos and motivation levels that are necessary to deal with jihadi extremism. Training standards in small counter-insurgency operations are low and cutting edge junior leadership is still lacking. They are also short on numbers as recruitment rates are low and desertions high.  Meanwhile, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda seem to have no difficulty in recruiting an endless stream of suicide bombers from the thousands of madarsas that astride the Af-Pak border. In fact, they pay them monthly wages. Crossed wires between the Obama Administration and President Hamid Karzai, and tensions between Karzai and the Pakistan leadership as well as the Pakistan Army’s and the ISI’s proclivity to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds have weakened the overall response to the constantly changing terror tactics of the opposing forces.  President Karzai has lost confidence in the US commitment to comprehensively defeat the Taliban. Consequently, he has begun negotiations with the Taliban and their Pakistani handlers. The Pakistanis are keen to include the Haqqani faction in the talks, but the Afghans and the US are firmly opposed to Sirajuddin Haqqani. All the international and domestic players involved in the complex web of Afghan politics want a direct role in the negotiations. Many are conducting their own negotiations  Taliban factions have noted with glee President Obama’s ill-advised, self-imposed deadline to begin withdrawing US troops in July 2011 after a review in December this year. Although high-level US civilian and military officials have said that a long-term American presence in Afghanistan is a certainty, the Taliban groups are convinced that the US no longer has the political will and the military staying power to sustain a large deployment.  NATO countries and other allies of the US are keen to cut and run as their much smaller armies are facing rotational difficulties, and the war has lost popular support. The Pakistanis, who seek strategic depth in Afghanistan and consider the Taliban as their strategic assets, still harbour ambitions of installing a pliable government in Kabul. As most students of military history would readily concede, a prolonged stalemate between a large, well-armed and well-equipped modern force and a motley array of guerrillas or other non-state actors like terrorist groups has almost culminated in a victory for the underdogs. This happened in Vietnam. This has also been seen in Afghanistan earlier when the Afghan warlords defeated the erstwhile Soviet Union in the 1980s with help from the CIA and Pakistan.  If radical extremism is to be comprehensively defeated in the Af-Pak region, it is important for the US and its allies to stay the course as long as it takes. As they have no more troops to contribute to the effort, the net must be enlarged to include military contributions from Afghanistan’s regional neighbours, perhaps under a United Nations flag. The international community must stand united to ensure sustainable stability in Afghanistan. Under no circumstances should the Taliban be allowed to stage a triumphant comeback.

US General says army need to stick longer in Afghanistan
General James Conway said that President Obama's announcement that theUS forces would commence withdrawal from 2011 has provided sustenance to Taliban. The General was blunt in criticising the President's policy on Gay soldiers. CJ: Chitranjan Sawant   Thu, Aug 26, 2010 17:03:55 IST Views:                15    Comments: 0 Rate:  1 out of 5 2 out of 5 3 out of 5 4 out of 5 5 out of 5 1.0 / 1 votes     ON HIS return from an assessment of the ground situation of war in Afghanistan, General James Conway, the senior most General of the US Marine Corps gave a free and frank opinion. His bold and blunt statement said that President Barack Obama’s schedule of withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan probably provided sustenance to the Taliban rebel-terrorists. It was a blunt criticism of the strategy adopted by the President of the United States. The critic in public is no less a person than the Commandant of the US Marine Corps.   PRESIDENT’S OPTIONS    There cannot be two opinions about the supremacy of the US President in matters military because he is the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the United States of America. Nevertheless the President is duty bound to listen to the opinion of his generals, who have war experience.   The generals work with the troops in the war zone and are acquainted with the ground situation. What happens if the conduct of a general, professional or private, violates the code of conduct laid down by the Service Headquarters.   Well, there are many examples from history that illustrate the point at issue. We may draw from anecdotes of military and civil clash both in British India and from the United States of America. However, before taking a peep into the history , we may recall that President Obama had forced another four star general, General McChrystal to go on retirement before time because his staff had made some critical comments on President Obama and his advisors that had found their way to the media.   The national security advisor was called a clown in a light hearted chat at the bar in Paris after a few rounds of drinks had been served. President Obama was also butt of many an anecdote when the general in question found him feeling intimidated in the presence of the military brass and that he lacked focus while strategic issues of the Afghan war were being discussed.   In view of this background the President has limited options open to him. He is not in a position to call General James Conway to the Oval Office and give a dressing down. General Conway is a professional soldier having 40 years experience behind him. He is professionally sound and knows what he is talking about.   President Obama has no choice but to turn Nelson’s eye to the present situation.   A confrontation is out of the question as the US Marines are heading the great push against the Taliban in Helmand and Kandahar. Any attempt to discipline the US Marine Corps Commandant at this juncture may be suicidal for the Obama administration.   CIVIL MILITARY UPMANSHIP   Calcutta was the capital of the British Indian Empire. Lord Curzon was the Viceroy. Lord Kitchener was the Commander-in-Chief of all forces of His Majesty in India. The war clouds were gathering in Europe. The Curzon-Kitchener tussle always made news not only in the Empire but in Europe too.   The White Hall in London supported the two sparring knights by turns. The matter was referred to the constitutional expert Dicey. He opined that the Viceroy represented the King Emperor and was supreme in the British Indian hierarchy. The commander-in-chief was like a loaded revolver under the Viceroy’s pillow. The option was that of the Viceroy whether to use the revolver or not. That opinion, however, did not quell nagging doubts and there were feuds galore between the two. This subsided when both returned home one after the other.   The American Civil War between the supporters and opponents of slavery was at its peak. General Grant was a successful strategist for President Lincoln. Someone complained about the General’s drinking habits. President’s retort was; Grant drinks but he wins wars. Thus the President nipped the trouble in the bud.   General Douglas McArthur was the five star general who had accepted the surrender of the Japanese after the American atom bombs had destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was immensely popular among soldiers and civilians alike. He was rather strong headed and stuck to his guns, come rain come shine. President Truman was rated a weak man in the White House who did not want to cross the Yalu river and take the war in Korea to mainland China, notwithstanding China siding with North Korea in a shooting war against UN, read America.   General Douglas McArthur criticised the President’s policy as weak kneed and made his opinion public. President Harry Truman dismissed the five star general and ordered him to fly back to the United States from Tokyo, Japan. The general had little choice but to obey the orders of the President of the United States.   General KS Thimayya, the Indian Army Chief had numerous tiffs with the then Raksha Mantri, VK Krishan Menon. In 1959 General Thimayya resigned in a huff. Although Pt Nehru, the then Prime Minister persuaded the General to withdraw his resignation appreciating his services in peace and war but eventually backed his bosom friend Krishna Menon. General Thimayya felt let down but swallowed the insult in the best interests of the Indian Army.   PRESENT AMERICAN SCENARIO   General James Conway, Commandant of the US Marine Corps is on a strong wicket and he sticks to his statement. He is telling the truth to his countrymen. There is a silver lining to the dark cloud. General Conway says that let the Taliban believe that the US forced would withdraw from July 2011 onwards.   The Marine Corps units are going to stay on and keep on hammering the Taliban. The momentary morale raising of the Islamist rebels would take a severe beating when they find the Marine Macho men hammering them from all sides. The morale of the Taliban will be in their boots thereafter. It would be a strategic victory for the Americans and beginning of the end of the Taliban in Helmand-Kandahar region from where they had originated.   General James Conway has clear cut views on the new policy of the Obama administration in letting gay soldiers make their sexual preference public. “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, if that policy is going to be rescinded and gay soldiers are permitted to practise their philosophy in billets, the General would not permit his Marines to share rooms with gay soldiers. Marines are macho American young men, who should not be spoilt by gays and their ambience. Thus, the US Marine Corps Commandant is a preacher and a practitioner of the old school of Military Thought where Truth and Honesty were the cardinal principles for an upright soldier.   At the end of the day, it is the upright Marine General, who has carried the military trophy by holding on to the motto: DUTY HONOUR COUNTRY.

Govt warns Indian websites of cyber attack by Pak hackers
Press Trust of India / New Delhi August 26, 2010, 21:28 IST  The government today said it had warned the defence services, financial institutions, PSUs, Internet service providers and prominent private sector organisations of a possible cyber attack by Pakistani hacker groups.  In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Telecom and IT Sachin Pilot said, "Intelligence agencies recently issued a warning against large scale cyber attacks by Pakistani hacker groups from March 31, 2010, to April 6, 2010, targetting websites of Indian organisations."  During the said period, a total 330 websites were defaced. However, only four websites belonged to government organisations.  The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), which detects cyber security threats, has already issued an advisory circulated to all Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) in the government and prominent private sector organisations.  Pilot said that the ministries and departments have been advised to audit their IT systems regularly to ensure robustness of their systems.  The government has formulated a Crisis Management Plan for countering cyber attacks and cyber terrorism, which is under implementation by all ministries and departments of the central government and state governments and critical sectors, he added.  To another query about the health hazards related to telecom towers, he said that sectoral regulator Trai plans to float a consultation paper on the issue.       
New defence procurement & production policy next month Huma Siddiqui Posted online: 2010-08-26 00:16:27+05:30  New DelhiThe new defence procurement policy and defence production policy are slated to be released early next month.  Senior defence ministry officials told FE that, ‘‘DPP 2010 will focus on reducing the delays in the procurements. The changes also relate to value addition, focus on critical technologies, a conducive taxation regime and strengthening of research and development.’’  The main aim of the production policy is to involve both the public and the private sectors to manufacture defence equipment. The defence ministry has issued 144 industrial licenses in addition to letters of intent to various domestic equipment manufacturers. Further, the ministry aims to initiate a modernisation programme for the Ordinance Factory Board (OFB) and the defence public sector undertakings.  The first-ever defence production policy mandates that weaponry and military systems will be identified several years into the future, to allow Indian companies the time needed to develop and manufacture them. The identified systems will be allocated to specific domestic defence companies as development projects. The ministry will lay down clear time targets and provide 80% of the cost that will be incurred, senior defence ministry officials explained.  Before the changes were incorporated in the DPP and the formulation of the Defence Production policy, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Defence Research and Development Organisation, academia, and all industry bodies including Ficci were consulted. Both the policies are presently with the Defence Acquisition Council (the ministry’s apex body on equipment acquisition) for clearance.  The new DPP-2010 would be more effective and faster than the current DPP-2009 and the Defence Production Policy is being released for the first time ever to enhance indigenous capabilities to manufacture armed forces’ requirement for defence equipment. Senior officials observed that ‘‘DPP is not an end in itself, but a vehicle to meet the larger goal of security of the nation. And India needs to have a vibrant defence industry.’’  Adding, ‘‘there is a need for greater involvement of the private sector in defence production and its capability to absorb technologies would have to match what was available worldwide.’’  The introduction of ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ category in the DPP-2009 was designed to enhance participation by the private sector, meeting Indian requirements for state-of-the-art defence systems and platforms by getting into tie-ups with technology providers through the mechanism of technology transfer in joint ventures.  The domestic defence market now offered great opportunity for formation of JVs and direct sourcing by the global players.  The KPMG report—entitled Opportunities in the Indian defence sector—predicts that, by 2022, India will purchase defence equipment worth Rs 4,50,000 crore ($100 billion). Another Rs 44,000 crore ($9.7 billion) will be spent by 2016 on the security.  ‘‘India needs highly sophisticated and technologically advanced products to meet requirements of the armed forces. The Centre was also looking for collaborations in the field of defence R&D and tie-ups in critical areas in order to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces through indigenous sources to the extent possible,’’ they noted.  Under the new policy the Indian defence companies will be encouraged to register their technological capabilities in an MoD databank. When a need is anticipated for the army, e.g. a futuristic Main Battle Tank, the ministry will survey the industry and identify at least two major companies, to which it will award development contracts. These two prime contractors, working with a tailor-made consortium of companies, will develop a separate tank prototype and the MoD will select one, or even both, for mass production.

Military Coup Imminent in Pakistan?
  by Shiraz Maher August 26, 2010 at 3:30 am  Politically at least, Pakistan is a land of possibility, and a military coup is looking increasingly possible. Do not confuse possibility with opportunity – where anyone could hope to climb the greasy pole of power. Political patronage remains concentrated in the hands of the country's traditional ruling elites: Punjabi landowners, Sindhi industrialists, and the Army.  Among them, the tectonic plates of power and influence are in constant flux, producing a carousel of fortunes. The devastating floods which continue to drown the country have, again, upset the kaleidoscope of power; the fallout is impossible to predict.  Civilian governments in Islamabad know they are only ever minutes away from being deposed. Just up the road in Rawalpindi is the Army's General Headquarters, known locally as GHQ, and home to the notorious 111 Brigade. Every aspirant General has needed to deploy its infantrymen when dismissing an opponent's government. And there are stirrings in the barracks again.  The government's faltering response to the floods has been damaging. Indeed, opposition to President Asif Ali Zardari reached a new high-watermark after he refused to cut short his European tour and return to Pakistan. Instead, the Army has been left to coordinate the entire rescue effort with almost no input from the civilian government.  Could the Army dismiss yet another civilian government? Najam Sethi, editor-in-chief of the influential Friday Times, broke rank earlier this month by saying: "I know this is definitely being discussed. There is a perception in the army that you need good governance to get out of the economic crisis and there is no good governance."  Away from the floods the Army is busy, too. Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has secured a second term until the end of 2013. A former chief of Pakistan's much-feared and shadowy intelligence service, the Inter-Service Intelligence [ISI], he enjoys de facto control over intelligence, defence and foreign policy. His reappointment suggests the impotence of Zardari, who would rather have jettisoned his increasingly powerful General.  Last month, Kiyani's growing sphere of influence was on display again. During a crucial meeting with President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, Kiyani convinced Karzai to dump his normally India-leaning security adviser, Amrullah Saleh.  Acts such as these underscore the efforts being invested by the Army to consolidate their position at a time of renewed public confidence in the Army. This goodwill marks a significant revival in their fortunes after support for the Army – ordinarily very high in Pakistan – plummeted following the Red Mosque Siege in 2007.  The Red Mosque, a seminary located in the heart of Islamabad's diplomatic quarter, had provoked a massive confrontation with the government after trying to impose Shariah law in the capital. Its students rampaged through the streets, burning down music and film stores, ordering women to cover up, and kidnapping 'prostitutes.'  The Army responded with brute force. Tanks, helicopter gunships and infantrymen from the 111 Brigade pounded the seminary, killing scores of students . It was a watershed moment for most Pakistanis, their own "Waco" siege.  The floods have allowed the Army to restore much needed pride by reengaging in humanitarian and relief work – services for which they are regularly deployed in Pakistan's most destitute provinces.  But it is not just the Army who stand to gain from flood relief initiatives. Official inaction has also presented terrorist groups with an opportunity to provide social welfare services.  For example, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has had a number of its relief centers closed. JuD are linked to the banned terrorist group Lashkar e-Taiba, which staged the 2008 attacks on Mumbai. A spokesman for the group said, "There is no reason for this action. We are providing meals twice a day to the affected persons in Pir Sabak. We are not in competition with the army but it seems to feel threatened by our work."  All this presents a serious challenge for General Kiyani. The Army is still fighting Taliban insurgents along the unforgiving terrain of the Durand line. 60,000 troops have now been diverted into relief work where their efforts are hampered by sporadic fighting with militants seeking to enter the affected areas. Then, too, there is ongoing tension with India which continues to preoccupy Pakistani minds.  Kiyani has consequently secured massive increases for the defence budget, despite widespread cutbacks elsewhere. Ordinary Pakistanis are, for example, bearing the brunt of sporadic but daily gas and electricity outages, unchecked inflation, and an unprecedented upturn in terrorist violence.  Although at least 16 relief centers operated by terrorists have been closed in the North-Western Frontier Province (now known as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa), the implications of the floods extend far beyond relief for those affected. If the government and Army are unable to deliver aid effectively, the Taliban and associated movements could capture large swathes of Pakistan. If the Army's influence and prestige continues to grow, a coup is not unimaginable. After all, the Army already enjoys almost complete autonomy over some of the most sensitive policy areas: intelligence, defence and foreign affairs.  The leader of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), Altaf Hussain, recently called on "patriotic Generals" to initiate martial law and sweep aside interfering politicians. Certainly, the civilian government is increasingly seen as meddling for political gain.  Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmad is known to be "deeply unhappy"say officials from the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), trying to ensure that their support is given preference for aid. Following the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, Ahmad was appointed Chief Military Coordinator of Relief Commission, and later Deputy Chairman of the Earthquake Reconstruction & Rehabilitation Authority.  A military coup would present a mixed bag to the West. Certainly, military governments tend to produce more stable administrations in Pakistan (discounting the chaos that plagued the last days of Pervez Musharraf). Yet, it would also strengthen the Army's hand – and longstanding view – that the West should cut a deal with the Taliban as part of some power-sharing agreement.  This approach is fraught with difficulty. In the embattled tribal provinces Pakistan has already tried to negotiate with the Taliban, signing around six different peace deals in the process. They have frequently failed within months of being enacted prompting a renewal of hostilities. In the meantime, of course, the Taliban are able to regroup and take stock of their position.  Yet, the misguided view that we might be able to reach an amicable agreement with the Taliban is already finding supporting in some parts of Washington; a change of government in Pakistan might signal its triumph.

China denies visa to top general in J&K
 Indrani Bagchi, TNN, Aug 27, 2010, 01.06am IST NEW DELHI: India has cancelled defence exchanges with China after Beijing refused to allow the visit of the Indian army's General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Area Command, because he was responsible for Jammu & Kashmir, a state that China maintained was disputed.  In keeping with a practice for the past few years, the Indian defence establishment in June had began preparations for a regular high-level exchange visit to China this August by one of the top commanders of the Indian army — the northern area commander, Lt-Gen B S Jaswal.  However, Delhi was stunned when Beijing responded to his nomination by saying that it was unwilling to "welcome" Gen Jaswal because he "controlled" a disputed area, Jammu and Kashmir.  An angry New Delhi shot off a strongly worded demarche to Beijing, protesting its decision. Soon thereafter, India refused permission to two Chinese defence officials to come to India for a course at the National Defence College. A subsequent visit by Indian military officials to China was also cancelled by India.  To ensure that there was no ambiguity about the reason for its annoyance, New Delhi has since also bluntly told Beijing that the unexpected decision to block Lt-Gen Jaswal's visit to China was the reason behind India's decisions.  New Delhi found China's behaviour particularly provocative because in August 2009, Lt-Gen V K Singh, currently the Army chief and then the GOC-in-C Eastern Command, had visited China for a similar high-level exchange. If territorial sensitivity was the issue with China, then Singh's visit should have been even more problematic because, as head of the Eastern Command, he had jurisdiction over Arunachal Pradesh, a state that is claimed by China.  The Chinese have been needling India on Kashmir for a while. Beijing refuses to paste visas on the passports of residents of J&K, and staples them instead, despite repeated protests from India. As the Indian government refuses to recognize stapled visas as valid travel documents, the upshot is that the people of J&K can't visit China.  Beijing, in fact, also denies visas altogether to the residents of Arunachal, claiming them to be Chinese citizens. Still, it did not have any hesitation in "welcoming" Gen J J Singh as the head of the Eastern Command in May 2007. This would make it appear that Beijing was going a step further to needle New Delhi on Kashmir. New Delhi has, however, has not allowed this issue to spill over elsewhere in the bilateral ties.  China's aggressive approach on J&K is, of course, directly connected to its close relationship with Pakistan. China- Pakistan ties is viewed to be aimed at keeping India boxed in, and this manifests itself in many different ways. In 2008, China started construction activities in PoK, which India regarded as provocative. In 2010, China announced that it would supply two nuclear reactors to Pakistan.

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