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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

From Today's Papers - 01 Dec 2010

A first: 12 women officers get permanent commission in Army Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, November 30 As many as 12 women officers of the Indian Army have created a history of sorts. A selection board of the Indian Army has cleared these officers for what will be the first-ever permanent commission for women into the Forces.  This is the first ever entry of women in a permanent role into the mainstream of the Indian Army. So far, women doctors were given permanent commission (PC) in the medical corps of the armed forces. This is still out of the Army frontline fighting units, as the Ministry of Defence does not permit women in roles that “… entail direct combat or possibility of physical contact with the enemy".  The 12 women officers are from the Army Education Corps and the Judge Adjutant General - these are the only two streams that allow women to be picked up as permanent officers.  All women, cleared now, are short service commission officers (SSC) of the 1996 batch or latter. On completion of 14 years of mandatory service in SSC, they were asked to appear for a selection board along with their male counterparts and 12 of them have been picked up, the Army sources confirmed today. The selection board conducted its proceeding two weeks ago and the results have been announced now.  Most of them are Majors and Lt Colonels and would have retired from service had they not cleared the selection board. There is no reservation in the Army on the basis of gender, the women competed with their male counterparts, said sources, while adding that equal opportunity was provided.  In 2008, the Defence Minister, AK Antony, opened a few more streams for women but that was only for those who joined the SSC in March 2009 or later, meaning they would be eligible for PC only in 2019.  Women, unlike their male counterparts, do not have direct entry route into the Forces. As on date, nearly 350 male officers are inducted into the SSC each year.  Out of them, nearly 240 opt for the PC and almost all are taken in. Women were allowed in the SSC for the first time in 1992.  The latest issue is historic as this was the first time that women were given an option to choose for PC and sit in an examination for what will be full tenure. This can last up to 58 years of age depending upon the promotions each one of them gets in the future.  Notably, there are 11,500 vacancies in the Army; however, most of them are in the infantry, the artillery and the armoured units. The Army allows women to opt for the SSC (10-14 years of service) in Signals, Engineers, Ordnance and Air Defence. In the IAF women are even chopper and transport pilots.
DRDO develops super explosive Claims ICL-20 is most powerful in non-nuclear category Tribune News Service  New Delhi, November 30 The Defence Research and Development Organisation today claimed to have developed the most powerful non-nuclear explosive.  Scientists at the DRDO’s Pune-based High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) have synthesised adequate quantity of CL-20 in the laboratory. “It is the most powerful non-nuclear explosive known so far,” a Defence ministry spokesperson said quoting Dr AK Sikder, the Joint Director of HEMRL.  The compound, Indian CL-20 or ICL-20, was indigenously synthesised at the HEMRL laboratory using inverse technology, he said. A few countries with advanced capabilities in the field of energetic materials have similar capabilities.  The ICL-20 can substantially reduce the weight and size of the warhead while packing much more punch. ICL-20 derives its name from the China Lake facility of the Naval Air Weapons Station in California, US, and was first synthesised in 1987. The compound is Octa-Nitro-Cubane and it is rated four times more powerful than RDX and some 15 times more powerful than the average explosives used by the forces. The ICL-20 looks like limestone or a grainy talcum powder.  Dr Sikder said, “It offers the only option within the next 10-15 years to meet the requirements of the Indian armed forces for futuristic weapons.” It can be used in 120-mm main gun mounted on the Arjun tanks. The cost is one factor that could be inhibitive. While a normal explosive costs about Rs 6,000 per kg, the CL-20 would cost a whopping Rs 70,000 per kg.  The DRDO has tied up with an Andhra Pradesh-based private company to produce some 100 kg of this explosive.
Delay in N-sub lease The Russians are slipping up  The Indian Navy, which is expecting to induct the country’s first indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine in about two years, will have to wait for a few more months before its sailors can train on a Russian nuclear-powered submarine for which India has contracted a ten-year lease. A nuclear-powered submarine is a complex weapon platform-cum-system requiring considerable expertise to operate. When such a submarine with an untested design is being operated for the first time, it becomes all the more necessary to have a crew that has a thorough knowledge and command of operating this sophisticated technology. This explains why it is critical for Indian Navy submariners to first train on an established design before operating INS Arihant, the Indian made nuclear-powered submarine, which is slated to form part of the country’s second-strike capability in the event of a nuclear war.  But leasing of the Russian Akula-II class submarine, which was scheduled for mid-2008, has been marred by delays – initially because of damage caused by a fire on board the submarine while undergoing sea trials and now because Russia is finding it difficult to find a crew to operate the vessel before it can be certified seaworthy prior to its transference to India. During much of the Cold War, the Soviet Union remained a reliable supplier of defence hardware to India. But following the Soviet Union’s break-up, which coincided with the end of the Cold War, its successor state, Russia, has not always been able to maintain delivery schedules of contracted defence equipment. One glaring case is that of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier. Not only is the delivery of this sea control platform running considerably behind schedule, but the Russians also succeeded in hiking the price of its refit well after the contract was signed.  Russia continues to be an important source of supply of weapon systems even though India has, since the end of the Cold War, diversified its source of weapon systems to other countries, notably Israel, a few West European countries, and to an extent even the United States. But the latest delay in delivery of the Akula-II class submarine only reinforces the need for India to quicken the pace to attain self-reliance, certainly in critical defence technologies which currently remains the exclusive preserve of a few.
Grave security challenges and the risk of armed confrontation exist in South Asia. India must have potent politico-diplomatic deterrence, strategic alliances and the military wherewithal to ensure peace as well has ability to check adventurism by assertive neighbours or fight a war on two fronts Strategic alliance to check assertive China Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (Retd)  India has had defence relations with the US since the Chinese attack in 1962. It was the US that India looked towards when Chinese troops were racing down towards the plains of Assam and Indian political and military leadership was paralysed. Americans airlifted badly needed weapons, equipment and a few fighter aircraft. Later, they equipped three mountain divisions with war equipment and there was a US military mission in New Delhi for a few years for the purpose.  During his November visit, President Barack Obama lifted sanctions against defence research and production establishments, including DRDO, paving the way for greater co-operation During his November visit, President Barack Obama lifted sanctions against defence research and production establishments, including DRDO, paving the way for greater co-operation  In the foreseeable future China and Pakistan would be India's main adversaries. There are significant differences in the fundamentals of these three societies, their value systems, religious beliefs and tolerance levels of others. India is a democracy and open society while China and Pakistan are comparatively closed societies, where military plays a dominant role. There is also economic competitiveness between China and India, though the Indian prime minister has repeatedly stated that there is enough room in the world for both China and India. In addition, there is a long-standing border dispute between China and India.  India has critical reasons to worry about Chinese policies and capabilities. It is China and its friend North Korea that have made Pakistan a nuclear weapons country. It is also a major supplier of military equipment to Pakistan and gives is diplomatic support against Indian interests. It would not be wrong to say that China and Pakistan have an unwritten military alliance against India.  China's conventional military is about twice the size of India's and Pakistan has about 70 per cent of military force compared to India. Armed with nuclear weapons and allied with radical Islamist elements, the Pakistani military remains dangerous. China has built the Qingzang rail line to Lahasa and may extend it to Nepal. It has also constructed a number of roads and airfields in Tibet and is building dams on the Brahmputra. Water will play a very important role in international relationships. Beijing has also gained greater influence in Nepal with the emergence of Nepali Maoists as a political force. It is possible China could move its troops into Nepal on some pretext and threaten the Indian heartland through UP, Bihar and West Bengal. Its claim on Arunachal Pradesh can be an excuse for military ingress there. The situation in northeastern India can become precarious if Bangladesh has a pro-Pakistan or pro-China government. A concerted foray by Pakistan and China in Ladakh-Kargil-Uri and even Himachal is a possibility.  Militarily, it will be a very difficult for India to counter such an eventuality. In the past, India balanced Beijing and Pakistan through a de facto alliance with the Soviet Union. With Russia no more a super-power, the challenge is to deal with the long-term threat from these two countries.  India has embarked on a path of economic growth. It does not want a military confrontation with any nation and desires peace, particularly in its neighborhood. However, as China's economic and military strength is growing, it has become more assertive. The manner in which China dealt with Japan over the release of the captain of a trawler involved in an incident with a Japanese naval ship has bewildered the world.  Indian leadership does not have to panic but has to think long-term on how to co-exist with the Dragon. Prudent Indian policy could be:  n Engage China, particularly in trade and avoid a military conflict as long as possible.  n Develop conventional military and nuclear deterrence so China does not violate Indian borders and keeps away from neighbors and sea-lanes. In addition deter Pakistan against any military adventurism.  n Diplomatically ensure that Pakistan does not threaten India in case of hostilities with China.  n Work towards engaging a strategic ally having sufficient military and economic muscle to caution China on any adventurism against India.  n Carry out effective psychological and information warfare to make it clear to China and Pakistan that though India desires peace, it is taking required steps to build its military muscle and strategic alliances, taking into account their military capabilities and their stance.  Till now India is downplaying frequent irritants being thrown up by China. The emphasis is on increasing bilateral trade and there is even a tripartite forum between India, China and Russia. There is also cooperation in areas of common interest like climate change. Indian leadership is cautious that China does not feel threatened by parleys between India, USA and other countries. This policy to engage China should continue but measured diplomatic "tit-for-tat" would be in order if Chinese assertiveness continues. Let the impression that India is a soft state, not persist any longer.  India needs peace to develop economically and one of the aims of Chinese and Pakistani policy is to hamper this. India should speed up decision making to build modern infrastructure, robust economy and ensure internal stability. However there are grave security challenges that might lead to armed confrontation with China and Pakistan. India must have potent military deterrence and think of alliances if the situation deteriorates. This is the challenge for Indian diplomacy and military for the next few decades. Indian diplomats need to get over the non-alignment hang over and be more realists, pragmatic and pro active.  India therefore should modernise its armed forces considering Chinese military buildup in Tibet, the China's capability of operating in the Indian Ocean along with the Pak Navy and its capabilities in space, including the ability to neutralise satellites. India should also, like China, exploit the full potential for information warfare including cyber warfare.  USA is the only country that, with its military and economic aid to Pakistan, can exert influence so Pakistan does not threaten India in case of a conflict with China. This was done so in 1962 and India was able to move some army formations from the west to the east. Improved bilateral relations can help, but Pakistan's obsession with Kashmir and supporting terrorism inhibits this. Not withstanding this, India has to be prepared for a two front war.  India is the only one amongst leading countries not having a unified military command, i.e. a Chief of Defence Staff. Operational synergy required to wage a war on two fronts cannot be achieved without a single point military command. In addition, the military must be fully consulted for higher policy formulation.  Here comes the crunch line. Indian military brass has to see the writing on the wall that as and when time comes for armed hostilities between China-Pakistan and India, the Indian armed forces will find themselves not appropriately equipped and at a disadvantage militarily, as has been the case since Independence, with one exception in 1971.  Present and future political leaders, bureaucracy and more so the military commanders need to learn how to mould the internal and external geopolitical environment and take India to war in the future to ensure victory, and not be hustled into operations like Op Prakaram. However, China is not likely to give us the time that we got in 1971 and will retain the initiative.  The US, though declining in stature, is still militarily the strongest, and an economic powerhouse. India and USA have mutual interests not to allow China to dominate this part of the world and the strategic understanding moving towards military cooperation between the two countries has strong logic. President Obama, during his just concluded visit, made it abundantly clear it is in the interests of the US, of Asia and the world at large for India to stand up and make its presence felt.  However, having a defence tie up with America needs caution. American bureaucracy and polity still seem to have the fixation of US being the only super-power. They want their bidding to be done by their allies and strategic partners. The US has also in the past deprived its not so intimate allies of spares and critical components if they did not toe their line. India has to, therefore, take in to account such precedence before deciding to deepen military alliance and going in for critical acquisitions like fighter aircraft from USA.  But good news is that the US is looking for strategic partners in the Indian Ocean Region and Asia and democratic India is a natural choice. Both countries are moving towards deepening strategic understanding about east Asia. Obama stated in New Delhi that they would review procedures and give India a similar status as given to close allies. How fast we proceed with strategic partnership with the US is a matter for the top leadership in New Delhi, in which the military brass must be intimately involved. The issue must also be debated politically in Parliament.  Nonetheless, India should also be prepared to meet some US requirements like providing repair and refueling facilities and overflying rights, as there can be no free lunches. India need not worry about China's reaction considering that it already enjoys similar facilities in Pakistan.  Indian polity and military should realise it is very important for Indian military leadership to develop close ties and understanding with their American counterparts. Pakistani top brass is on first name basis with the US military. leaders. Just having exercises at company/ squadron level is not enough. Military leaders of both countries need to discuss military threats and strategy as well.  Any strategic partnership has to be as amongst equals. India is not yet ready to engage in any military ventures of significance across its shores except in the immediate neighborhood, in case our critical national interests are involved. India has to be first capable of defending its own borders and shores effectively against credible emerging military threats.  However, Indian polity must remember that it would be a very sad day if India has to scurry to America again at some point of time in case there is another war with China, having dragged its feet over providing some military facilities before hand when asked by them and dilly-dallying in forging greater strategic and military ties. A steady increase in strategic understanding and military-to-military contacts with USA will be pragmatic.  The writer is a former Signal Officer-in-Chief of the Indian Army
Indo-US military co-operation  Indo-US military collaboration was re-established in January 1992 during the Narasimha Rao government. A joint Army Executive Steering Committee was set up, which was followed by the Joint Steering Committee of the two navies. Joint naval exercises were conducted in 1992. In 1994, a Joint Steering Committee of the air forces came up.  In 1995, Indo-US Military Cooperation Agreement was signed, under which Indian military personnel could visit the US for training courses, staff exchanges and joint exercises.  Since then, joint training exercises involving all three services have become a regular affair. These exercises are conducted both, in India as well as the US and cover a wide spectrum of warfare and counter terrorist operations.  This decade has seen several military platforms of US origin entering service with the Indian armed forces. Notable among them are the Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft undergoing trials in the US. Six aircraft worth about $1 billion have been purchased. Also on the cards are 10 C-17 Globemaster strategic transport aircraft that are estimated to cost close to $6 billion.  The Navy has gone in for up to 12 Boeing P-8 maritime surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft worth over $3 billion, besides six UH-3H Sea King helicopters for $88 million. The Navy also purchased an ex-US Navy amphibious assault ship (USS Trenton, now INS Jalashva).  Other deals with the US includes GE-404 engines to power the indigenous Tejas combat aircraft, artillery fire locating radars, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and light-weight 155mm towed howitzers, small arms, avionics and personal equipment.  US firms are also keen to sell the Javalin anti-tank missiles and the Aegis anti-missile system. Two US aerospace giants Lockheed and Boeing are contenders for the 124 medium multi-role aircraft for the IAF.  According to reports, deals with the US have created offset obligations amounting to $1 billion for the Indian industry, which accounts for about 42 per cent of all international offset obligations.  There has also been some criticism of military cooperation and defence deals with the US in certain official, political scientific and diplomatic circles.
‘Pak needs to strike balance’  Pakistan cannot afford to be in a “state of perpetual conflict with India” and has to “strike a balance between defence and development,” a top Pakistani military official said.  The comments were part of a wide-ranging briefing given to editors, anchors and columnists by the official on Sunday, the Dawn newspaper reported on Tuesday.  The daily did not name the military official but other media reports said army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had briefed a select group of journalists on completing his first term on Sunday.  While referring to the need to achieve a balance between defence and development in relations between India and Pakistan, the military official was also quoted as saying that Islamabad “cannot afford to ignore our basic defence needs.”  The official also said that Pakistan cannot afford to be in a “state of perpetual conflict with India.”  On the triangle of US-Pakistan-India relations, the official said: “The people of Pakistan measure the strength of US-Pakistan relations on the scale of US-India partnership.”  Regarding Afghanistan-India relations, the official said, “Pakistan has no right or desire to dictate Afghanistan’s relations with any country, including India. But Pakistan expects Afghanistan will be mindful of legitimate security concerns (of Pakistan).”  The Dawn reported that the military official’s comments on Afghanistan, India and the US suggested that Pakistan Army’s “India-centric” approach to strategic issues was “still very much in place, with only minor adjustments made to accommodate the changed regional security environment in the 21st century.”
Indian MoD comments various defence and security issues   16:03 GMT, November 30, 2010 According to the Indian Press Information Bureau, the following information was recently given by Indian Defence Minister, Shri AK Antony in written replies to members of the Parliament of India:   Upgradation of Guns  The Government has received a proposal from the Ordnance Factory Board to undertake upgradation of 155 mm Bofors guns. However, no proposal has been received from OFB for 105 mm Artillery Gun.  An RFP was issued by AHQ/Ministry of Defence for up-gradation of existing 155 mm/39 Calibre FH 77B Bofors Gun to 155 mm/45 Calibre Gun in August 2008. OFB participated in the RFP and submitted a bid, which is under evaluation at Ministry of Defence.  OFB did not seek any collaboration with multinational companies for export oriented production system.   Army Communication Network  Expressions of Interest (EOI) have been invited from various vendors including Defence Public Sector Undertakings and private companies for development of an Army communication network, namely, Tactical Communication System (TCS) under 'Make' category of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). The 'Make' procedure provides for preparation of Detailed Project Report by shortlisted vendors which will inter-alia indicate the estimated expenditure and the time frame.   Sale of Service Weapons  A case relating to sale of Non-Standard Pattern (NSP) weapons which also includes possession of more rounds of ammunition than authorised by Army officers and JCOs has come to the notice. After due investigation by Court of Inquiry administrative action in the form of appropriate censure has been completed against 25 officers for possessing more than authorised ammunition. Disciplinary proceedings against 04 serving officers have been initiated for sale/purchase of more than one weapon. In addition, 45 serving/retired officers and 01 JCO were directed to retrieve the weapons and deposit the same. 05 officers deposited their weapons and administrative action against them is in progress. Disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against 30 serving officers and 01 JCO. Civil Administration has been requested for action as per law against 10 retired officers. Suitable remedial measure by issue of a revised comprehensive Standard Operating Procedure by the Army Headquarters has been taken.   Purchase of ATGM  No obsolete Anit-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) has been procured. Procurement of weapons and equipment for Army is done as per the Defence Procurement Procedure, based on the operational necessity projected by the Army. Separately, case for procurement of 3rd Generation ATGM has also been progressed.   Advanced Jet Trainer  The Hawk MK-132 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) was inducted into the IAF in 2008 as a fighter trainer with the aim to replace the Kiran MK-II/MiG-21 route of training. Keeping in view the delay in delivery of Hawk by HAL due to receipt of defective components, jigs and fixtures from the foreign manufacturer on whom liquidated damages were levied, the original training plan by Hawk for 2010-2011 has been modified and pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) are being trained on the MiG-21 aircraft. Induction of aircraft for training in the Indian Air Force is a continuous process.
Indian army instructors to teach at Royal Military Academy, UK  Indian Army instructors could shortly be snapping out commands — for the first time ever — at one of the finest training institutions in the world: the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Surrey, UK.  The British defence ministry is weighing a proposal to swap instructors between Sandhurst and the India Military Academy, Dehradun. Hayden Allan, special adviser to the UK defence minister, said the UK was working on the bilateral arrangement, hoping to open a new chapter in long-term defence exchanges with India.  The move will be a change for the IMA too as it has never had foreign instructors before.  The UK intends to swap captain-level instructors, drawn from the very best of the two armies.  Ordering cadets to do press-ups and pull-ups at Sandhurst will be a coveted assignment for any Indian instructor. Started as the Royal Military Academy in 1741, Sandhurst has trained generations of army officers of our former colonial ruler.  But at least two former Indian army chiefs, General Maharaj Sri Rajendra Sinhji and General JN Chaudhuri, were trained at Sandhurst.  Not surprisingly, so too were a number of Pakistani army chiefs, including Gen Ayub Khan, who went on to become the country's dictator. Other famous figures from Sandhurst include the late British prime minister Winston Churchill, the Sultan of Brunei, King Hussein of Jordan and Princes William and Harry.  The UK's keenness to swap army instructors are a reflection of India's lofty status in London's defence diplomacy.
Auto driver’s son passes out from National Defence Academy DNA / Rahul Chandawarkar / Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:18 IST  In a heartwarming case, Krishnant Gholap, son of a Pune autorickshaw driver passed out from the National Defence Academy (NDA) as a part of the 119th course on Monday.  Krishnant, who wants to become an infantry officer, will be proceeding to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) for further training in January 2011.  Krishnant, a resident of Nana Peth and a class XII science student of the Poona College admitted that he had made it to the NDA in his second attempt, after falling short, the first time. He said he was indebted to Lt Col (retd) Pradeep Brahmankar of Apex Careers for improving his English language skills.About his three-year training at the NDA, Krishnant said, “I realised that the human body can endure a lot of pain. I also learnt the importance of being mentally fit.’’  It was family reunion time outside his Golf Squadron inside the NDA on Monday morning. Krishnant’s parents Chandrakant and Shubhangi were happy with the success of their son.  Chandrakant said, “I have been driving an autorickshaw for the last 27 years. I am so happy to see that my son is on his way to becoming an army officer.’’  While a visibly moved Kaushalya, Krishnant’s grandmother held her grandson’s arm tightly and said,“My grandson has made us very proud today. I am very happy.’’
Push for artillery modernisation, OFB proposes Bofors upgrade  The upgraded version is expected to have a better range  BY Ritu Sharma Delhi File photo of a Bofors gun. The Ordnance Factory Board has decided to indigenously upgrade the guns  The Indian Army's artillery modernisation programme got a push forward as the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has proposed to indigenously upgrade the 155 mm FH 77B Bofors gun purchased 24 years ago.  The Bofors artillery guns, which helped India in the Kargil conflict of 2000, have been awaiting the upgradation for over 10 years now. Since 1995 the army has been planning to upgrade the 410 guns, purchased in 1986 from the now-defunct Swedish firm AB Bofors. The upgraded versions will have a better range.  "The government has received a proposal from the OFB to undertake upgradation of the 155mm Bofors guns… OFB submitted a bid, which is under evaluation at the Ministry of Defence," said Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju in the Lok Sabha on Monday.  In 2008, the Defence Ministry had invited proposals for the upgradation of the FH 77B guns from 39 calibre to 45 calibre. However the upgrade was delayed after being hit by a string of corruption scandals. Almost a year after its purchase, Bofors ran into what is now considered a historic controversy with alleged involvement of middlemen. Since then, the company has been blacklisted, and the deal looked at with suspicion.  "The blacklisting has delayed the upgradation as the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) Bofors (now owned by British BAE Systems) could not be asked for the the same," said an Indian Army official, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.  The Indian Army's artillery modernisation programme has repeatedly been mired in controversies with gun majors coming under the scanner for corruption.  In 2009, Singapore Technologies Kinetics was selected for field trials of ultra-light howitzers after 10 months of evaluation, which would help the army counter the Chinese threat in the mountainous Himalayan region. However, the firm was blacklisted after its name figured in a corruption case investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).  Following the scam, the government cancelled the trials in the Rs 2,900 crore order for 140 ultra-light howitzers. The army is now purchasing the guns from the US through direct sales.  The Singaporean firm was also a contender for the Rs 8,000 crore order for 400 units of the 155 mm/52-calibre towed artillery guns, as well as the indigenous manufacture of another 1,100 howitzers through transfer of technology. However, by 2004, after multiple firing trials, India's towed artillery competition managed to end up without any competitors left standing. All three platforms -- Bofors FH-77 B05, Soltam TIG 2002 and Denel G5/2000 -- failed to meet India's accuracy specifications for the 2003 trials, but all three improved their guns to compete again in 2004. Reports say that Soltam fell out of the race after its barrel burst during field trials, while South Africa's Denel was sidelined in 2004 and then eliminated in 2005, after the Indian government accused the manufacturer of corruption in another defence deal.

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