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Thursday, 13 January 2011

From Today's Papers - 13 Jan 2011

Army, Navy chiefs appear before PAC General VK Singh, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik depose separately; meeting inconclusive Tribune News Service  New Delhi, January 12 The much-hyped meeting between the chiefs of the armed forces and the Murli Manohar Joshi-headed Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) remained inconclusive today.  The three forces have been asked to come up with clarification on matters raised by MPs, following which the PAC will take some more time to conclude hearing on alleged anomalies in the supplies to canteen stores and also the supply of dry rations to the troops.  General VK Singh and Air Chief Marshal PV Naik deposed separately before the PAC. Naval Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma is on a pre-scheduled four-day visit to Indonesia. He was represented by his deputy, Vice Admiral DK Dewan.  The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was inconclusive as the Army and the Air Force presented their views that were “divergent” from the CAG report which was being examined by the PAC. The Army was, however, looking to change the operating procedures involving buying of rations and it would implement changes over the next few months, sources said.  “There was no contradiction between the PAC and the chiefs,” Joshi, who is a senior leader of the BJP, told reporters after the meeting. Emerging from the meeting, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshall PV Naik said, “….We have put forward our viewpoint and they put forward their viewpoint… we will meet again.”  Joshi was statesman-like as he clarified that calling of the chiefs by the PAC was neither unprecedented, nor should it be termed as “summons” by the media. Years ago, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, while he was heading one of the scientific research organisations, had appeared before the PAC to explain a matter. It was important to call the chiefs as they were the one who formulate the policy.  The chiefs had come with their free-wheeling and frank responses to the CAG report, Joshi said. “Discussions will improve the systems….., we will decide on views when they (the chiefs) come up with suggestions after their own internal discussions,” he added. In response to a question, Joshi said, “The chiefs made presentations… which were routine in nature… I cannot say if it was acceptable or unacceptable.”  Sources later said the case of unit-run canteens came up for discussion and the argument of the forces that this was “private activity” to help the troops at the unit-level was not convincing. The CAG, in its report in August last year, had criticised the services over the way its unit-run canteens (URCs) functioned and the lack of transparency in their accounting methods. The PAC later sought answers from the Defence Ministry, which in turn wrote to the service chiefs on the alleged irregularities. The forces opine the URC is “beyond the purview” of the CAG.  Joshi said all funds that were from the consolidated fund of India had to be audited. Separately, he refused to reveal if the matter of cartelisation in the matters of supply to the CSD was discussed.  The CAG report said: The existing procedure for provisioning of dry rations for troops failed to assess the requirement realistically. The failure was mainly due to systemic deficiencies.
Army Chief appears before PAC The PAC had called the chiefs of the three services - the Army, the Air Force and the Navy - for a hearing after a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report pointed out irregularities in the supply chain management of rations by CSD. CJ: Vijay Singh               Wed, Jan 12, 2011 13:10:08 IST Views:                4    Comments: 0 Rate:  1 out of 5 2 out of 5 3 out of 5 4 out of 5 5 out of 5 0.0 / 0 votes        ARMY CHIEF V K Singh on Wednesday appeared before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in connection with alleged irregularities in the canteen stores supplies.  The PAC had called the chiefs of the three services - the Army, the Air Force and the Navy - for a hearing after a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report pointed out irregularities in the supply chain management of rations by Canteen Stores Department (CSD).  Singh appeared before the PAC headed by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi at around 11 a.m.  Air Chief P V Naik is likely to appear before the Committee later in the day.  The Navy would, however, be represented by Vice Chief D K Deewan, as chief Nirmal Verma is in Indonesia on a "pre-scheduled" four-day visit which began on Sunday.  The CAG had said in a 2009 report that the canteen stores department's procurement and distribution of dry rations was faulty.  The management of the canteen stores department had not assessed the rations requirement and, also, much of it was of poor quality, the report said.
Army hit by another Adarsh? TNN, Jan 13, 2011, 03.16am IST NEW DELHI: Close on the heels of the Adarsh scam, a recent internal army inquiry has raised serious questions over yet another land deal in Mumbai. According to sources, the ministry of defence (MoD) is contemplating subjecting the questionable deal to an independent probe, possibly by the CBI.  The controversy relates to a one-acre prime plot in Malad, leased by the army from the Maharashtra government and occupied by the Central Ordnance Depot (COD) since 1942. On June 26, 2007, the government sold the land to Neo-Pharma Pvt Ltd, a part of the Kalpataru Builders group, for about Rs 6 crore. Since the sale was done without army consent, COD took steps to physically protect the property. However, by 2008, the army vacated the plot, allegedly due to pressure from certain army officers.  According to MoD sources, the ministry has now sought a report from army headquarters on the decision to vacate. The trigger for this move was a letter written by Trinamool Congress MP Ambica Banerjee on November 10, 2010, to the Prime Minister and Defence Minister, alleging that then army chief General Deepak Kapoor and others had benefited from the transaction.  Documents on the controversial deal, available with the military authorities and accessed by TOI, raise questions about the role of not only Gen Kapoor but then minister of state for defence Rao Inderjit Singh, then MG&G (Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa) area chief Maj Gen RK Hooda and many others.  The plot occupied by COD (CTS 135 and 136 and part of survey number 13) is adjacent to a plot owned by Neo-Pharma Pvt Ltd. Documents available with TOI show that after COD took steps to physically protect the property, Rao Inderjit Singh intervened, based on a complaint from Neo-Pharma. Singh's personal secretary Abhilaksh Likhi wrote on November 15, 2007, to the army chief's secretariat, "Apropos the telephonic conversation the Hon'ble RURM (Singh) had with the COAS (chief of army staff Gen Kapoor) today afternoon, kindly find enclosed a note received by (the minister)... It is requested that this note may be put up to the COAS for appropriate action."  The next day Gen Kapoor wrote "Pl process" and forwarded the file to the Quarter Master General's office. Within days, the army reversed its decision to protect its land and ordered local army authorities to withdraw the security cover to the plot. On February 29, 2008 the ordnance depot gave up the land.  The COD authorities have put in writing that they allowed Neo-Pharma to start construction on the controversial site only because of the orders of Maj Gen Hooda, who is presently in Pune facing the Adarsh scam court of inquiry. The compound now has buildings of Neo-Pharma and a residential complex constructed by Kalpataru Builders.  Army documents also show that the state government did not intimate the army about its move to sell off the land, which was on lease with the army since 1942 (a military NOC is necessary even for private land close to military installations). When local army authorities in Mumbai approached the Mumbai collector for proof that the government had sought an NOC, he produced two letters addressed, bizarrely, to "Major, Armed of India" and "Maj Biswas, Armed Forces of India". Evidently, both were deliberately intended not to reach the army authorities.  Dependable army sources said they had evidence that at least some of those whose roles are suspicious in the entire scheme now own, directly or through proxies, apartments in Kalpataru's various complexes. Given this evidence, and the fact that most of those involved are retired officers, the army officers say that they cannot do much. Further investigations should be conducted by an empowered agency, a source said, indicating the line of recommendation that the army headquarters may take.
To give 'irregulars' punch, forces go shopping for hi-tech weapons Rajat Pandit, TNN, Jan 13, 2011, 04.13am IST NEW DELHI: India is slowly but surely strengthening its "irregular'' or "unconventional'' warfare arm. Modernisation of the special forces of Army, Navy and IAF, trained to undertake covert missions deep behind enemy lines and hit high-value targets with precision, is now finally gathering steam.  The latest weaponry to be inducted into the Army's seven Para-SF and three Para-SF (airborne) battalions, Navy's marine commandos and IAF's Garud force are 5.56mm TAR-21 Tavor assault rifles and 7.62mm Galil sniper rifles.  Defence ministry sources say the deliveries of the around 5,500 Tavor rifles and 220 Galil rifles to the three special forces, which together number almost 10,000 top-notch combatants, were completed this month.  "The procurement case for the three special forces was taken up in a consolidated manner by the integrated defence staff. The rifles have come with associated equipment like sights, under-barrel grenade launchers and the like,'' said a source.  Other specialised equipment has either been inducted or is finally in the pipeline after several delays. These range from M4A1 carbines, all-terrain multi-utility vehicles, GPS navigation systems, modular acquisition devices to laser range-finders, high-frequency communication sets, combat free-fall parachutes and even underwater remotely-operated vehicles from countries like the US, Israel, France and Sweden.  Incidentally, there is also now a joint tri-Service doctrine for the special forces, which focuses on the increasingly dominant role played by such highly-trained forces at all levels of war, be it tactical, operational or strategic.  The doctrine does chart out the ideal command and control organisation necessary for joint special forces tasking, joint planning aspects at theatre-level, including operational, environmental and intelligence requirements.  But as of now, there is no firm decision to go in for a tri-Service Special Forces Command, tasked with planning and executing clandestine warfare, on the lines of the Strategic Forces Command which deals with nuclear weapons.  Indian special forces, unfortunately, have for long largely been treated as adjuncts to regular troops, restricted more to the tactical arena rather than being considered strategic assets to be used sparingly but with decisive effect.  The Army, on its part, has chalked out major plans for its special forces, which includes more battalions and dedicated Army Aviation Special Operations Squadrons, with helicopters and aircraft.  The need to strengthen the special forces was underlined during the 10-month-long troop mobilisation along the Indo-Pak border under Operation Parakram in 2002.  The Army doctrine holds the special forces have to undertake strategic and tactical surveillance of vital enemy targets, gather intelligence, hit-and-run operations, laser-designated bombing and other such operations in times of war.  During low-intensity conflicts, they can undertake "seek and destroy missions'' as well as "trans-border operations''. Hostage-rescue, anti-terrorist operations and assistance to friendly foreign governments would be their other peace-time missions.
Indian Army set for its most radical revamp Josy Joseph, TNN, Jan 13, 2011, 01.47am IST NEW DELHI: The Indian Army is set for the biggest transformation in its recent history, according to authoritative sources and plan details accessed by TOI. The restructuring could begin as early as March-April.  The proposals include setting up of a Strategic Command, comprising of Army's offensive capabilities, abandoning many existing administrative structures and thinning down of headquarters at all levels. Taken together, this is said to be the most radical organization change that the Indian Army has seen.  The proposals are part of a 'transformation study' done by a high-level team under Army chief Gen V K Singh when he was heading the Eastern Command. A dependable Army source said the plan is now set to be rolled out. A defence ministry source said the ministry would go along with the proposed reforms.  The last such transformation was almost 30 years ago, which resulted in the Army's mechanization in a major way. The new proposals are more path-breaking, said Army sources.  One of the most critical proposals is the creation of a Strategic Command, under which the three Strike Corps would be brought together.  Jaipur may host Strategic Command  A subsidiary study underway is presently debating where to locate the Strategic Command.  Currently, two options are being considered — to convert either the Jaipur-based South-Western Command or the Pune-based Southern Command into the Strategic Command. Once a final decision is taken, areas under the army commands would be redistributed. Sources indicate that Jaipur looks to be the most suitable location.  The South-Western Command in Jaipur was set up in 2005, with a part of the Western and Northern Commands being carved out to create the new command. Creation of the new Strategic Command would mean the Army would go back to having five commands with operational areas under them, apart from the Army Training Command and the new Strategic Command.  The Strategic Command would also have a new addition, a proposed Mountain Strike Corps meant specifically for the China border. The proposal for country's first mountain strike corps is presently awaiting approval of the cabinet committee on security.
Detained in Pak for 9 months, ex-jawan glad to be home R S Pura (Jammu), Jan 12, (PTI):  Subjected to torture in Pakistan for nine months after he landed in the country to pay obeisance at Sikh shrines, former Army jawan Amar Singh said coming back home here is like a second birth.  Singh along with a group of 39 Sikhs was returning from a pilgrimage in Pakistan on April 1, 2010, when some men in plainclothes from ISI whisked him away to an undisclosed destination.  "As I was sitting in the train on my way back to India, some one called me and I came down. Some more men came and took me to a room near the railway station and grilled me. The train left for India. I was blind folded and taken to some underground place", Singh said.  "They are seeking details from me about defence places? I was subjected to third degree torture?", he said, adding, "I told them I have come to Pakistan only for pilgrimage to Nankana Sahib and was an ex-serviceman".  "As I was fed of the months-long torture, I posed as a mentally ill person. They took me to a doctor and checked me but I continued to pose as mad". He was released by Pakistani authorities near the Wagah border on January 4.  "I am re-born. It is my second life. I never thought I will be again with my family here", an emotionally charged Singh said, adding, "I will never visit Pakistan again not even for a pilgrimage".  His family back home had lodged a missing report and launched a campaign to trace him writing to the Prime Minister, the Human Rights Commission, the International Red Cross and even the Pakistani High Commission seeking its intervention.  His homecoming was celebrated not only by his wife Kuldeep Kour and children Navjot Singh, Jagjeet Singh and Lojot Singh, but also the entire hamlet in R S Pura border belt.  "My dream has come true. We had lost hope of his return to his family here", Kour said as tears well up in her eyes.  "We will all go to the Golden Temple and thank God for reuniting Amar Singh with us", she said.
PMC distances itself from disputed land in Lohegaon
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Tuesday distanced itself from the ongoing controversy over 69 acre land at Lohegaon involving the defence establishment.
(PMC) on Tuesday distanced itself from the ongoing controversy over 69 acre land at Lohegaon involving the defence establishment. <br><br> "The PMC had acquired one acre of land from survey no 233-A, measuring 28 hectare and 16 acre (69 acre) at Lohegaon for road construction. The civic administration had paid the compensation to the defence following the letter by the Government of
India. Also, the official land record 7/12 extract was found in the name of the defence establishment and hence, the PMC issued compensation to the defence. The PMC has no role to play in the dispute beyond this," said Sudhakar Telang, PMC's land acquisition and estate officer, while speaking to TOI on Tuesday.  The 
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has begun looking into a complaint lodged by the Southern Command headquarters alleging grabbing of 69 acre of defence land by land sharks. Meanwhile, a private party has moved to the Bombay high court claiming ownership of the land valued at Rs 800 crore.
of Bund Garden Road has filed a writ petition against the ministry of defence and other respondents claiming ownership of the disputed land, which is in possession of the Army. The petitioner said he is the owner of the land at survey number 233-A measuring 28 hectare and 16 acre (69 acres) at Lohegaon village as he had executed a sale deed on June 14, 1980.  ; On the other hand, the Southern Command, in a statement issued last year had said that the land has been "in peaceful possession" of the Army since the 1920s. The Army has been carrying out training and plantation on the land and also built a small temple, a greenhouse and a boundary wall. <br><br> The statement reads that the revenue records clearly show this as military land. In 2008, a part of this land was acquired by the PMC for a road-widening project by paying Rs 4.45 crore to the Union government, it said.
Top army officer reviews alert on China border 2011-01-13 05:30:00  Jammu/Srinagar, Jan 12 (IANS) Two days after media reports that Chinese troops had intruded into Indian territory in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, the top commander of the Indian Army in the state Wednesday visited the headquarters of the troops manning the border with China, an official said.  The intrusion by the Chinese troops that grabbed headlines was the reason for the Northern Command chief to visit Leh, which also is the headquarters of the 14 Corps of the army, sources said.  Officially, the reports on the Chinese intrusion were denied by the defence ministry in New Delhi.  Lieutenant General K.T. Parnaik, general officer commanding-in-chief (GOC) of Northern Command, visited Leh in Ladakh region. It was his first visit to the forward areas after assuming charge Jan 1, according to a defence statement.  On arrival in Leh, he was received by Lieutenant General R.P. Dastane, general officer commanding, 14 Corps.  Lieutenant General Parnaik was briefed by Lieutenant General Dastane on the state of operational preparedness, training activities and numerous development works being undertaken by the formation in the remote region of Ladakh.  The GOC expressed appreciation for the corps in carrying out their assigned tasks whilst braving the hardships of high altitude, weather and terrain in the most challenging area of the country, the statement said.  It was a departure from the normal practice as a new chief of the Northern Command usually first visits the Kashmir Valley, where terrorists have been active for the past 21 years, before going to any other area.
National Role For India's Veterans  By Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd)  12 January, 2011  Learning from USA 's veterans  With deepening strategic ties between India and USA , there is also increased military-to-military contact for training and inter-operability. Both India and USA are democracies, one the largest and the other the oldest, both with volunteer militaries statutorily under civilian control. Just as the two democracies have much to learn from each other, so too, have their respective militaries and their respective veterans.  However, there are differences in the national strategy, politics, politicians and the militaries of the two countries. There is unease among serving military personnel (all ranks of the army, navy and air force, referred to as "soldiers") and also among veterans (retired soldiers) in both countries. There are different causes for that unease, and the expressions of protest by veterans are also different. Soldiers, governed and administered under military law, are not permitted protest or allowed to communicate their problems or grievances to the media or any person outside of the military. But this does not apply to veterans who revert to governance under civil law on leaving the military.  A unique feature of Indian veterans is that the large majority are obliged to leave the service at a young age (32-40 years) when their family and personal life commitments are growing. Thus, the things that occupy the minds of veterans depend upon their experience during military service and the conditions to which they are exposed when pitch-forked into civilian life on retirement. Veterans have potential for an active role in civic life because of their assets of physical fitness (barring those disabled due to military service), discipline, and the special skills of focussed effort acquired during military service.  Beginning with the role and deployment of the Indian and US militaries, the present article takes a view of US and Indian veterans' role in civic life with focus on India . It offers suggestions how Indian veterans' current peaceful agitations can be widened to make greater impact on the polity with benefit to India at large and to veterans themselves.  The two militaries  The US war machine is awesome in its global intelligence, logistic and combat reach, with enormous power for conventional and nuclear-biological-chemical (NBC) attack. It is a hi-tech military with a global geo-political vision, providing a growing role for military corporations in intelligence and logistics and even in combat roles. The US military is an essential part of US foreign policy expression, in which top military commanders have an important position. Armaments production and export business by business-industrial corporations is closely linked with US foreign policy, and military strategy and planning. There is an organic link between US national strategy and US military strategy, both of which are aggressive. Presently USA has about 700 military bases, stations and installations (for combat or communications-surveillance-intelligence functions) in 63 countries around the globe, with about 250,000 military personnel deployed abroad out of a 1.4 million-strong military. [ Ref. 1 ].  The 1.2 million strong Indian military is a national force with reach in South Asia and growing conventional and nuclear missile strike capability. It is rapidly adopting high-end technology and adapting to the technology-based battlefield of the future. A large proportion (about one-third) of its military manpower is deployed in "aid to civil power" at the instance of central and state governments on internal security (IS) duties on a more or less permanent basis, primarily in the counter insurgency (CI) role. With the exception of China , India 's immediate neighbours are smaller nations and its foreign policy has little or no real-time military linkages. India 's top military commanders are kept at arms length by the bureaucrat-dominated government, with little influence on national strategy. [ Ref. 2 ].  US veterans agitate  Going into relatively recent history, it is well known and documented that USA 's veterans had been neglected by the state, causing serious discontent among them. They had suffered during and especially after service in Vietnam , and agitated for better treatment by the state. But the scale, style and cause of veterans' protests today has changed, as demonstrated in a picture showing a US veteran being dragged off by police, with other veterans holding placards and banners, one of which reads " VETERANS SAY "RESIST!" // Refuse to fight another rich man's war // ". This is one of a series of pictures of the December 16, 2010 , US Veterans' Stop-the-Wars Peace Campaign in Lafayette Park, Washington DC . [ Ref. 3 ]. Their demand now is in the larger international and human interest, using peaceful, Gandhian civil disobedience to stop USA 's wars.  So why are US veterans now demanding that wars should be stopped, " Not tomorrow, not next year – NOW ! ", as one placard reads? The reason that they oppose wars is, quite simply, their collective realization that wars and armed conflicts provide handsome profits to those who benefit from them [ Ref.4 ], while the people of both warring sides lose heavily and the soldiers are the instruments of violence. And that, especially post 9/11, the military-industrial complex (MIC) influences the policy of the US administration to engender more wars. Thus, another veteran's placard, in a clear message for serving US soldiers, reads, " Veterans say, 'DON'T BLEED FOR WALL STREET GREED' ". There is a lesson in this for Indian veterans, about which more later.  Every soldier of every nation knows that wars cause huge casualties of hapless civilians. No soldier can honestly claim to like wars - he fights because he is duty-bound to do so. US soldiers and veterans have learnt this through hard experience in many wars starting from the 19th Century, and the World Wars, Vietnam and elsewhere in the 20th Century, and in the on-going wars mainly in Afghanistan and Iraq . Many of these wars have been waged by the US government to protect the investments or interests of US commercial corporations abroad and more recently, also to maintain or enhance the production and profits of the armaments industry. A soldier cannot speak out because the conditions of service prevent him from doing so [ Note 1 ]; but veterans can, and this is unambiguously stated by retired US Marines Major General Smedley Butler, albeit in the early 20th Century. [ Ref. 1 ]. Today, US veterans understand very well that whatever the US administration may declare, on-going wars are principally in the corporate interest, centred on oil and the strength and stability of the dollar, and that the US MIC commands the most powerful military that the world has seen. [ Note 2 ].  Indian soldiers and veterans  While USA has fought offensive global wars that enrich business corporations, the Indian soldier has fought defensively on Indian soil to resist or contain military aggression from neighbours and maintain India 's territorial integrity and national sovereignty. There are of course the exceptions of fighting in Sri Lanka as the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) and as part of United Nations troops in Africa and elsewhere. And the 1962 debacle in the conflict against China , the causes for which are non-military, as evidenced from the fact that government has refused to place the Henderson-Brookes Report on the conflict in the public domain. But in addition to preparing for or fighting wars against external threats, the Indian soldier continues to play a key role in the decades-old deployments in internal security (IS) or counter insurgency (CI) duties in India's north-eastern states and Kashmir, at the behest of governments. About one-third of the army is deployed in IS duties.  There is growing public realization that the unrest in India 's north-eastern states and Kashmir is caused essentially by poor and rapidly declining – and most recently, plunging – governance standards provided by the elected Executive through the bureaucracy-police. It is also clearly understood by the soldier that the military is deployed in "aid to civil power" because of the incompetence of central and/or state governments to handle situations created by their own incompetence, corruption and chicanery. [ Ref. 5 ]. This comment is not targetted at any single political party, but at the politician-bureaucrat-police nexus in general.  The Indian soldier has carried his service discipline into retired life, these past decades. But the anomalies in the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission have caused deep disquiet among veterans, whose decades-long demand for One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) has been neglected primarily due to bureaucratic machinations. Continued neglect and stone-walling by government (heavily influenced by bureaucrats) has caused consolidation of veterans' forces to form the Indian Ex-Servicemen's Movement (IESM). After months of unsuccessfully petitioning government for OROP, as a mark of protest at not being given a hearing even after eight visits, thousands of IESM veterans have handed their hard-earned, precious war and service medals along with a petition signed with their own blood, to the President of India, who is the Supreme Commander of India 's military. Sadly, the President of India has not seen fit to give the veterans a hearing, and the petition was not even accepted by the President's staff. Government remains cold and unmoved by veterans' agitations, influenced, it is suspected, by senior bureaucrats. It is not clear whether or how long the veterans' patience and forbearance will hold out. [ Note 3 ]. What is clear is that government neglect of veterans' problems can have an irreversible negative effect on serving soldiers and thereby on the security of the nation. [ Ref. 5 ].  Military CI deployments and civilian reactions  Due to governments' continuous need for military deployment in India 's north-eastern states and Kashmir , the army has a standing training establishment in the School of Counter Insurgency & Jungle Warfare in which officers, JCOs and other ranks are trained as required for their secondary role, which is doctrinally different from the primary military role against external threat.  There is growing public realization that armed violence by Maoists or Naxalites is in response to economic violence by the state against its own citizens through decades-long neglect and latterly, by acquiring land for industrial corporations. [ Ref. 4] . At present, the armed militancy in Central India is being tackled by use of state and central police forces, but there is pressure to call in the army and the air force. This is being resisted by the Ministry of Defence and senior military ranks, but if and when this resistance is overcome, soldiers will have a whole new deployment to deal with in addition to the present commitments in the north-eastern states and Kashmir .  Since military deployment in our north-eastern states and in Kashmir for internal security (CI) duties goes decades back in time, most of today's veterans have been part of that deployment in CI operations and have first-hand knowledge of its risks and difficulties. Many soldiers have suffered physical and psychological casualties, the latter evidenced by increased suicide and fratricidal killings. The pre-condition for deployment of the army in its CI role, is the state government's declaration of an area as "disturbed" in order to invoke the AFSP Act – which amounts to admission of political-administrative failure.  Irom Sharmila's historic, 10-year-long, on-going fast demanding withdrawal of the AFSP Act, or the women's naked protest in Manipur daring Assam Rifles men to come out and rape them following Thangjiam Manorama's custodial death after her alleged rape, are entirely justifiable civic actions. Where the Army has been deployed for CI operations over decades, its presence has led to withering of normal political processes of dialogue and negotiation, and militancy levels have grown. This demonstrates the truth that violence begets violence in cycles of increasing intensity, and democratic political processes suffer attrition. In this politically degraded scenario, people's basic problems and needs remain secondary in the vicious power game between armed militants and the failed state policy that uses the Army against its own citizens instead of the political tools of civilized dialogue, discussion, debate and consensus. [ Ref. 6 ].  It is well to recall that the AFSP Act bears the sanction of the Lok Sabha. It is not a legislation enacted at the instance of the military. The Indian Army has no organisational or professional stake in CI operations, which are its secondary role performed at the behest of the State to compensate for politician-bureaucrat-police failure, detracting from training and deployment for its onerous primary role of national defence. In the present context of regional external threats, this neglect of preparedness for the military's primary role could be at enormous cost of national honour, even sovereignty, at some future date. Continued military deployment as at present, unbroken over decades, amounts to governments' misuse of military power that exacerbates socio-political problems. It also brings a bad name to the military due to excesses committed by a few soldiers, even though these are rapidly and severely punished according to military law; similar excesses by police personnel rarely if ever attract attention and when they do, are met with leniency. Thus, military deployment in the CI role is an avoidable burden on soldiers at the individual level and on the military establishment at the organizational level.  Indian veterans' larger concerns  Veterans recognize that army deployment in its secondary role of aid to civil power for IS duties including CI operations, is admission of failure of the civil administration including state and central police forces. When the military takes up arms against Indian citizens in IS duties, it does so only for the particular requirement of the civil administration, which invokes the AFSP Act to give mandate to the soldier to take up arms. Thus, people's call for withdrawal of the AFSP Act is, in reality, a call for withdrawal of the army from the area, to return to its primary role of defending the borders, making the hated AFSP Act irrelevant.  It would be an act in favour of their serving brethren if veterans peacefully agitate and demand that governments withdraw the army from CI operations and resort to legitimate political processes to address the long-standing social unrest. This will amount to a demand for better governance from governments that will not only address social unrest but also benefit the common man in other ways. It is nobody's case that improving governance to solve social unrest problems is easy, but veterans' agitations will bring to the attention of the public at large that firstly , social unrest due to decades-long neglect of people's genuine concerns and needs cannot be solved by the use of military force, and secondly , that the use of state force as a substitute for honest political efforts only raises levels of violence, making situations more complex and solutions all the more difficult.  If veterans bring the demand for withdrawal of the army from IS duties before the people through peaceful agitations (while continuing their legitimate demands for OROP), it will achieve the following things: One , the public in general and governments will understand and realize that soldiers have no stake or particular interest in deployment in their secondary role of CI duties in "aid to civil power"; Two , the public will understand that veterans are interested in genuine democratic processes and be more sympathetic to veterans' causes including their demand for OROP; Three , use of honest and genuine political methods to address social unrest can reduce public pressure on governments to rescind the ASFP Act, thus keeping open governments' option of "aid to civil power" for inescapable short periods; Four , senior military officers in command at various levels will be able to concentrate more on their onerous primary role on the nation's borders to counter external threat and aggression; Five , veterans will see a national service role for themselves in demanding good governance which is dangerously lacking at present; Six , governments will be motivated to improve standards of governance and be accountable to the people.  Role for Indian veterans  Military veterans are a body of relatively young, physically fit, disciplined men, experienced in work in difficult, risky and dangerous conditions. They have special economic problems on retirement from military service because of their young age (32-40 years) at retirement. This has led to repeated peaceful demands over decades for one-rank-one-pension (OROP), which have been systematically neglected by successive governments.  If veterans engage peacefully in national issues in addition to their on-going OROP demand, it can influence the general public and through them, governments, to deliver better governance within India's constitutional framework, especially in the north-eastern states and Kashmir, and in the central Indian states that are increasingly subject to police repression of Maoist violence. The present article suggests the wider benefits that may accrue from such national involvement of veterans.
Indian Navy commandos to be armed with Israeli rifles 2011-01-13 05:30:00  New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) The Indian Navy's elite marine commandos will this month be armed with Israeli assault and rifles that will enhance their operational capability as a force trained for special operations.  A consignment of over 500 TAR-21 Tavor assault rifles and another 30 Galil sniper rifles worth over Rs.15 crore ($3.3 million) and  Rs.2 crore respectively was delivered to the MARCOS (marine commandos) in December 2010, a defence ministry official told IANS here.  A team from the Israeli Military Industries (IMI), the manufacturer of the specialist weapons, will be in India to carry out joint inspection of the consignment's post-delivery quality to ensure the weapons are in fighting-fit condition.  'The lot of over 500 Tavor and 30 Galil rifles has arrived and the Israeli team will be here to jointly inspect the delivered weapons and for assembling them. The MARCOS will begin using these rifles and start training on them from this month,' the official said. He did not wish to be identified because of ministry rules.  The defence ministry had placed the orders for the rifles for the MARCOS - their actual strength is classified - in 2008.  The two weapons are already in use with the Indian Army's special forces and the Indian Air Force's Garud special forces units. The army's special forces got about 3,000 of the Tavors and another 1,000 of the Galils some time in 2004, for which they had placed orders in 2002.  The Tavor, a 5.56mm calibre weapon of NATO specifications, is a 21st century assault rifle from IMI. The MARCOS have been using the indigenous INSAS rifles and the Russian Kalashnikov variants. The Tavor would also be a standard weapon for the force from now.  The Galil is a 7.62mm sniper weapon, again manufactured by IMI, popularly known as Galatz in the Israeli defence forces.
Army overloaded; strict screening now of requests for help  NDTV Correspondent, Updated: January 12, 2011 11:43 IST ad_title  PLAYClick to Expand & Play New Delhi:  NDTV has learnt that the Defence Ministry has decided to be selective in accepting requests by state governments for Army deployment.  Requests that are found to be trivial will now be rejected outright. Sources say the Defence Ministry will now ask the states to use their own resources first.  Over the past few years, the Army has been repeatedly called in by states to carry out tasks that are unrelated to its primary functions.  For example in Kurukshetra in July 23, 2006, the Army was called in to rescue a boy, Prince, who accidentally fell into a borewell while playing. The rescue operation, led by the 66 Engineers Regiment of the Ambala Cantonment, worked for 60 hours to bring Prince out.  More recently in October 2010, the Army was asked to help rebuilt in record time a showpiece foot-bridge that collapsed near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main venue of the Commonwealth Games.  Army's help was also sought to help douse the fire at an Indian Oil fuel storage depot on the outskirts of Jaipur in October 2009.  2009: 1,400 soldiers on law & order duty for over 45 days  2010: Over 3,500 soldiers called in for flood relief  2,000 soldiers called for minor incidents like chimney collapse, fire  The move is being seen as the Defence Ministry's bid to ease the load on the Army.
Ex Indian Army Chief Deepak Kapoor and Other Army Officers Involved in Corruption  Jan 12th, 2011 by admin Ex Indian Army Chief Deepak Kapoor and Other Army Officers Involved in Corruption, The Defence Ministry appears to have been hit by yet another scam allegedly involving a former Minister of State for Defence Production and former Army Chief, with a top army commander saying they had facilitated “illegal” sale of a prime piece of land in Mumbai.  After receipt of the report from Southern Army Commander Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna, Army Chief Gen V K Singh today indicated CBI probe could be recommended into the incident of 2007 when Rao Inderjit Singh was the Minister and Gen Deepak Kapoor was the Army Chief.  Khanna has alleged in a report to the Army Headquarters that the plot of land in Kandivali-Malad area in Mumbai,, which was with Army on lease, was sold “illegally” to a private builder in 2007 at the intervention of Inderjit Singh and Gen Kapoor, Army sources said today.  In his report which has been forwarded by the Army to the Ministry, the Pune-based Army Commander has recommended a proper investigation into the entire issue. “We have received the report and we are examining it,” Defence Minister A K Antony said here.  The Army Chief hinted at recommending a CBI probe in the alleged scam.  “We have received the report from the Southern Army Commander… We will have to do something of that sort,” he said when asked if the Army was planning to order a CBI probe into the scam.  Rao Inderjit Singh denied any wrongdoing on his part. He contended that his alleged note was dated November 2007 while the land was sold by Maharashtra government in June 2007 and possession was given in July 2007. “How can a note written after four months after the transfer affect transaction,” he asked when his reaction was sought.  Gen Kapoor was not immediately available for comment. The land in question belongs to the state government and had been on rent with the Central Ordnance Depot since 1942.

1 comment:

  1. Dear All,
    Happy Lohri to you and all officer and men of uniformed services.God bless happiness to one and all.
    B P Singh



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