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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

From Today's Papers - 29 Sep 2010

Tehelka episode Prosecutor cashiered, gets four-year RI
Faced nine charges of contempt, disobedience Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, September 28 A lieutenant colonel who had secured the conviction of a brigadier and a colonel in the Tehelka episode has now himself been convicted on several charges of professional and personal misconduct, it is learnt.  A GCM has cashiered Lt Col Sanjay Sitanshu and sentenced him to four years rigorous imprisonment (RI) after finding him guilty of all nine charges leveled against him, sources said. The trial, presided by Brig S.K. Panigrahi, had commenced at Kota in January and concluded yesterday. The GCM’s verdict is subject to confirmation by the convening authority.  Colonel Sitanshu had faced six charges of contempt of court, two of disobedience of lawful command and one of overstaying leave. According to sources, he had allegedly used unparliamentary language and showed improper conduct during two separate courts martial of a lieutenant colonel and an NCO in which he was the defending officer.  During pre-trial proceedings against him, he had been ordered by his commanding officer to proceed from Hisar to another unit on two different occasions, which he refused. He was thereafter taken into custody and moved to Kota under escort. Earlier, he was supposed to report at N-Area in Chandigarh on completion of his leave but delayed his arrival by about 10 days. His leave had been extended four times before it finally expired, sources said. The defence could not be contacted for its comments on the trial. Colonel Sitanshu had been detailed as the prosecuting officer in the courts martial of a brigadier and a colonel who had been allegedly caught on tape demanding and accepting bribes in the a sting operation conducted by web-portal Tehelka’s operatives posing as arms dealers.  Three officers were convicted by separate courts martial held at Chandimandir, Patiala and Ferozepur. The colonel was awarded for years RI on four charges in January 2005, while the brigadier was awarded two years RI on three charges in October 2005. A major general, who was the senior-most to be tried in the episode, got one-year RI.

Sukhois deployed for CWG security
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, September 28 In what will be an unprecedented security apparatus for the Commonwealth Games, a 60-km radius area around the National Capital has been totally ‘sanitised’ to keep an eye at rogue aircrafts, para-gliders and even small microlights to counter any threat posed by militants.  While the Army’s surface-to-air missiles have been deployed, the Indian Air Force’s frontline fighters, the Sukhoi-30, will be scrambled from an airbase at Barreily to fly full throttle to be over Delhi within 10 minutes off a call, MI-35 and MI-17 armed choppers will hover over the Capital to meet any exigencies, hi-tech unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will monitor each movement and trained snipers will be stationed atop buildings.  Hand-held thermal imagers and night vision goggles, normally used by the infantry at borders, will be employed to maintain vigil at night alongside the latest surveillance equipment.  Bomb disposal squads and the sniffer dog squads of the Army will be at all venues.  Super-specialised teams that tackle chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats will be sanitising each venue. Each of these teams will have around 35-40 men, including engineers and medical personnel. The Army’s air defence guns and medium machine guns, too, would be deployed during the period, they said.  Sources said apart from the Sukhoi , the IAF MiG-29s based at Adampur in Punjab and the MiG-21s based at Sirsa and Srinagar will be pressed into service if any maverick pilot tries to attempt a crossing from the across the border from Pakistan. The IAF fighter formations will be on operational readiness, a senior functionary said. They will also deal with any eventuality such as a hijacked plane or a fast flying aircraft.  The IAF will have two UAVs hovering between 6,000 to 10,000 feet altitude on all days of the CWG from October 3 to 14. They carry high resolution camera and infrared equipment.  The Home Ministry will be the lead agency in the air defence of the city with agencies from the Home Ministry and Delhi Police supporting the effort to secure the skies.  The IAF and Army will place its anti-aircraft surface-to-air weapons such as Pechora, OSA-Ak and Igla. These can be used to bring down any object.  The IAF’s Mi-17 helicopters would be on standby for casualty evacuation, apart from its Chetak and Cheetah helicopters carrying out reconnaissance and surveillance flights.  The Delhi Police snipers have been trained over a period of time to identify any suspicious airborne objects. The men will be manning observations posts and they will be coordinated with the UAVs to bring down any such object.  The air space over Delhi would be a no-fly zone for all unscheduled aircraft during the CWG for which the Aviation Ministry has already issued guidelines.

ITBP vehicles to be tracked via satellite
Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, September 28 Tasked with operating in remote mountainous areas amid inclement weather conditions, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) is turning towards satellite-based systems to track and control the movement of its vehicles.  ITBP officers said plans had been drawn up to install GPS tracking and navigation systems in vehicles that would provide real-time information on their location besides other relevant data.  “We have just finished trial runs of the pilot project to validate the concept,” an ITBP officer said. The pilot project involved installing such systems on 10 vehicles in specified battalions. An ITBP battalion is authorised 60 vehicles of different categories. The ITBP is the only central police organisation among six such security agencies to get installed such systems on its vehicles.  Based on feedback from the pilot project and consequential modifications, tracking and navigation devices would be installed in all vehicles in a battalion. The entire project, sources said, was expected to be undertaken over the next five years.  A Noida-based firm has been contracted to install the gadgets and set up control facilities at the ITBP Headquarters in New Delhi.  While the navigation system would be installed in the vehicle cabins, the tracking and control systems would be retrofitted in the engine compartment and would allow ignition to be enabled or disabled remotely from the control centre.  “Besides assisting in monitoring vehicle usage, these systems are also important from the safety point of view, in the sense that a signal can be transmitted in case of an emergency. The devises losing contact with the control centre will trigger an alarm,” an officer said.  Significant features of the tracking devices include sending an alert whenever the vehicles crosses a defined geographical limit, exchange phone-calls between the vehicle and control centre, maintaining a log of distances, speed and locations and having inbuilt maps of all cities, towns and districts where the ITBP operates.  The devices would also send an alert if a vehicle proceeding on a specific mission along a stipulated route fails to cross predefined checkpoints within specified time frames.

Antony asks US to remove Pokhran-test era sanctions
Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi, September 28 Defence Minister AK Antony has asked the US to remove a major irritant between the two countries to establish a long-term Defence relationship. Antony, who returned to India from the US tonight, has specifically asked it to correct what India perceives as a “wrong’ imposition of sanctions on key Indian Defence manufacturing units following the May 1999 nuclear tests at Pokhran.  Sources said Antony expressed New Delhi’s concerns to Washington over the “delayed and denial of export licences” with respect to Defence undertakings and DRDO laboratories. The Indian bid is to get the US to remove key units of its “entities list” which stops US-based companies from conducting business with them.  DRDO units such as the Aeronautical Development Establishment, the Aeronautical Development Agency and the Gas Turbine Research Establishment, which are involved in the Light Combat Aircraft project, still face sanctions which had been imposed after the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1999.

CWG: Army has chemical, nuclear decontamination teams 
Nitin Gokhale, Updated: Tue, Sep 28, 2010 18:46 IST CWG: Army has chemical, nuclear decontamination teams New Delhi: The Delhi Police has confirmed that all venues for the Commonwealth Games have been handed over to the police and are now in "security lockdown" mode.  The Army will also play a key role in keeping athletes and spectators safe.  The Army will provide ground-based air defence cover across Delhi in coordination with the Indian Air Force.  It will have 4 CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) decontamination teams on standby.      * Share this on     The Army will also provide long-range surveillance at night using night vision gadgets.  The Army's engineer regiment is on standby for any 'engineering emergencies' - it's already helping to rebuild the pedestrian over-bridge that collapsed earlier this month near Nehru Stadium.

Sarkozy eyes defence deals in Dec India visit
Reuters / Paris September 28, 2010, 17:58 IST  French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit India in December, officials said on Tuesday, with an eye on increasing French firms' share of the country's 10-year $50-billion defence spending.  Indian Foreign Ministry officials said the visit will take place tentatively on December 6-7, but the dates are to be confirmed.  French daily newspaper La Tribune reported the state visit, initially planned for spring, will take place from December 4-7.  Sarkozy will plead the case for French defence firms to India, which at present prefers weapons from Russian, Israeli and U.S. contractors, the daily said, citing anonymous sources.  French ties with India hit a snag over commercial disputes and what India felt was a snub after a lightning visit by Sarkozy in 2008, the paper said.  While Russian, U.S. and Israeli firms have won contracts topping a billion dollars annually, France had just one major contract in 2005 to supply submarines worth $2.5 billion.  The one (contract) that is advanced enough to be signed during the visit is the modernisation of 51 Mirage 2000-H for 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion), the paper said.  The contract could reassure Thales and Dassault Aviation, who are awaiting a decision from Brazil on the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets.  India is set to decide on an $11-billion deal for 126 fighter jets where Dassault's Rafale is back as a contender after it was initially knocked out of the race for technical reasons last year.  Sarkozy's visit could also lead to the finalisation of a contract with nuclear group Areva, which 18 months ago signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of two reactors at Jaitapur in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

Pak supporting US war in Afghan to keep India out: expert
Press Trust of India / Washington September 28, 2010, 16:23 IST  Pakistan and its spy agency ISI is supporting the US war in Afghanistan simply to ensure that Indians do not get strategic "advantage" in the war- ravaged country, even as it continues to use Taliban as an "active extension of its national power", an expert has said.  Anthony Shaffer, the controversial writer of the book "Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan - and the Path to Victory" said what Pakistan is doing in Afghanistan is in accordance to 'their perception of security, and their need to ensure that the Indians do not gain advantage through Afghanistan.'  Shaffer whose controversial book's 9,500 copies were pulped and sent to recycle last week after the US found it contained classifies information, said in the book that "The Taliban have been used as an active extension of their (Pakisatan's) national power.  We must accept the Pakistani perception of their self interest and security as being focused on its regional nuclear competitor, India, and work from there."  "The primary focus of the US diplomatic effort must be to reduce tension between Pakistan and India."  There are ways that the United States can participate and ensure regional stability by direct engagement and real reforms that would allow for a lowering of tensions between India and Pakistan, he said.  "America must create incentives for the Pakistani government (and the ISI and army) to stop its support of the Taliban," the author says.  The US Department of Defense found that the book had classified material. The Pentagon paid about $47,000 for the destruction of the book to its published.  "There were approximately 9,500 copies of the book. It contained classified information that the Department (of Defense) entered into an agreement with the publisher to destroy (the book)," Pentagon spokesman, Col Dave Lapan told reporters.  "The publisher conducted that destruction a week ago on Monday the 20th with the DoD observers there witnessing and those copies of the book were pulped and sent to recycle," he said.  The new version of the book, which has been blacked out at several places as per the direction of the Pentagon says that the consequences of America's failure in Afghanistan and throughout the region would be massive.  "The degree of consequences will vary, but ultimately, the price of failure will be another 9/11 attack or series of attacks that will dwarf the original in destructive effect and loss of life by orders of magnitude," the book says.  Noting that security measure around the Pakistani nuclear arsenal would continue to degrade, the book says that eventually, one or more of the country's nuclear weapons would be obtained by one of the radical elements.  "This weapon would be moved, via a network of conspirators, out of Pakistan and to one of a dozen potential targets.  Yes, there would be massive efforts to find and contain these weapons, but if even one makes it to a western target, there is a potential for huge property damage and thousands killed," the book warned.  Resolving Indo-Pak dispute is "the key" to regional stability in South Asia, the book said.

IAF mounts air cover for CWG 
K.V. Prasad  NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force has mounted unprecedented air defence surveillance and protection with adequate ground support from the Army ahead of the Commonwealth Games that get under way here on Sunday.  The overall security management for the multi-discipline event is being coordinated by the Union Home Ministry with Delhi police capacity being augmented by police from Central paramilitary forces.  Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday reviewed the security arrangements and saw for himself the preparations in the control room located inside the North Block.  The IAF plan provides for holistic air defence against all conceivable aerial threats, official sources said here, adding that its radars along with those of the Airports Authority of India will scan the skies round-the-clock.  Besides perceived conventional threats from hijacked aircraft, low speed and high speed aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), it envisages unconventional threats including those from micro-light aircraft, para/hang gliders, balloons and remote flying aero-models.  The Delhi police have been trained by the IAF to detect low-altitude flying objects, especially in urban areas, which police snipers would bring down while two IAF UAVs will be hovering between 6,000 feet and 10,000 feet to gather input on any intruding aircraft.  The airspace will be closed for all unscheduled flights during the Games.

Defence chiefs and ministers debated strategic review
Royal Marine in Afghanistan The last defence review was in 1998 and took more than a year  Defence chiefs have met Prime Minister David Cameron and government ministers to discuss the future shape and size of Britain's armed forces.  The National Security Council's two-hour meeting considered options for the strategic defence and security review - but did not reach any final decisions.  The RAF's Tornado force, two planned aircraft carriers and the size of the Army were discussed.  Mr Cameron said the review needed to be driven by strategy, not just spending.  The council is expected to meet again after the Tory Party conference next week, with the review due to report in October.  At the meeting, David Cameron apparently made it clear the highest priority must be the needs of current operations in Afghanistan, BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said.  He was also said to have stressed the importance of ensuring military capabilities were matched to future potential threats.  The meeting was attended by both the outgoing chief of the defence staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, and his successor as the head of the armed forces, General Sir David Richards, who will have the job of implementing the review's conclusions.
On Monday, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the defence budget - over-committed by £38bn over the next decade - must be dealt with.  A report by the think tank Policy Exchange, to be released on Thursday, suggests that the Army could save money by building up its bank of Territorial Army reservists.  Earlier, Lt Col Richard Williams, a former commander of the SAS and one of the authors of the report, told the BBC: "If you are doing a complex intervention such as southern Iraq or Afghanistan, you get an awful lot from somebody who has been a bank clerk or has an alternative employment and is not a full-time soldier."  It is understood the review will put Afghanistan first, with current operations ring-fenced and much of the Army's manpower spared until at least 2015, when the UK's combat operations in the country should have finished.  "That means the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force would bear the brunt of the cuts this time round," our correspondent said.  She said everybody had been fighting their corner hard but there were some pretty tough options on the table including cuts to the Royal Navy's surface fleet and some of the RAF's fast jets.  Many in the Armed Forces had been deeply dismayed at the speed at which the review was being undertaken, as well as by what they see as a lack of open and public debate at the scale of some of the potential cuts, she added.  But no date has been set for the meeting that will take the final decisions.  The review began after the general election. The last review, in 1998, took more than a year.  It is designed to look at the UK's role in the world, evolving threats to the country's interests, the nature of the UK's response to such threats and whether the armed forces are equipped to deal with future challenges.  Prof Michael Clarke, from the defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute, told BBC's Today programme that the UK intended to remain a global player on the world stage and retain a close relationship with the US.  He said: "This is the Asian century and it's coming upon us pretty quick. The United States is a lead player in moderating the effect of that Asian century on the western powers.  "We have a stake as a global player, we have a stake as an Anglo Saxon player in staying close to the one remaining superpower which will be struggling for its influence over China and India and Japan."  Annual defence spending in the UK currently stands at about £37bn, which is around 2.5% of GDP. Cuts of 10-20% are expected as part of the government's austerity measures to reduce public spending. 'Big picture'  Speculation on possible cuts has ranged from the scrapping of new aircraft carriers to grounding the RAF's entire fleet of more than 70 Tornado jets years earlier than planned.  Lt Col Williams said up to 40% of American high-end special operations activity in Iraq and Afghanistan was carried out by national guardsmen.  He said: "The fact that they cost broadly and, this is an approximate figure from public accounts, one fifth of a regular capability to maintain - you can see there are advantages."  He added: "We're finding in the main, is that across society, the younger civilians - or those who have been operating in the wider non-military world are much quicker at picking up the transformation technology systems and concepts than those who have been drilled in armoured warfare on the north German plains."  Our correspondent said the UK's nuclear defence system Trident was not officially on the agenda of the meeting but it could come up in discussions.  She said: "It does seem to appear that for the time being the coalition have put off that decision until 2015, until after the next election."  Earlier this month, the chairman of the Defence Select Committee expressed concern over the speed of the review, saying it could put combat operations and UK security at risk.  James Arbuthnot, a Conservative MP, said his committee was worried the process was money-driven and not taking time to assess the threats to the UK.  Defence Minister Nick Harvey acknowledged the pace of the review was influenced by economic circumstances but said it was a "big picture" exercise that drew on debates that had been going on for some time.

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