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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

From Today's Papers - 15 Feb 2011

New promotion policy for generals to be rolled back
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, February 14 The Army is rolling back changes introduced in the promotion policy for generals that segregated them into command and staff streams.  Introduced around two years ago during the tenure of the then Army Chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, the segregation was not well received in the Army’s top echelon.  “From the next selection board that considers prospective general officers, we expect that there will be no segregation into command and staff streams,” a senior officer at the Western Command Headquarters here told The Tribune. The selection board is held biannually, in spring and autumn, coinciding with the commanders’ conference.  Under Gen Kapoor’s policy, senior officers were earmarked either for the command stream, whereby they were eligible to take over as corps commanders and subsequently as Army commanders, or the staff stream, where they could be posted only on administrative duties at formation headquarters not involving command of troops.  Sources said the results of the board for promotion to lieutenant general, held in December 2010, have started trickling in and these are still in the command and staff format. Among officers approved for the rank of lieutenant general, two are from artillery, one from signals and one from air defence.  “The underlying factor for reversing these changes is that at the level of a lieutenant general, an officer has had an across-the-board exposure to command as well as staff functions and both these qualities are a pre-requisite at the higher echelon,” the officer said. “It was perhaps unfair to deny career progression to a section of officers, as some extraneous factors like availability of vacancies at a particular time also come into play,” he added. Some officers also felt that placing officers in separate streams was restrictive and bright and competent candidates may lose out and create a situation where the Army may have to make do with an undeserving candidate due to non-availability of option in a stream.  The “top-heavy” Army has vacancies for 90 lieutenant generals and 290 major generals, even as a shortage of over 12,000 officers exists at the junior and the middle rung. The increase in vacancies consequent to the implementation of the AV Singh Committee report had led to many appointments being upgraded, with posts tenable by brigadiers and major generals being now filled by major generals and lieutenant generals.  Sources point out that the outcome of the selection board for promotion to the rank of major general, held last month, has been “stalled for the time being”. The Defence Ministry has reportedly asked the Army to settle some pending issues pertaining to vacancies at this level before approving the board’s recommendations. Around 85 brigadiers were considered for promotion.

India’s UN bid faces China wall
Premature plans will undermine unity among UN members, says China Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, February 14 China today yet again sought to stonewall India’s attempt to secure a permanent seat in the expanded UN Security Council (UNSC).  Presetting results for reforms or forcing premature plans would not only undermine the unity of UN member states, but would ultimately harm the UNSC reform process itself which was not in line with anybody’s interests, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu said in response to a question on the ongoing debate at the UN on reforming the Security Council. The discussions show that parties still have sharp differences over some major issues about the reforms, and consensus is yet to be reached.— Ma Zhaoxu, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson  Beijing’s statement came barely two days after Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had a meeting with his counterparts from other “G-4” countries — Brazil, Germany and Japan — in New York. A joint statement issued there reaffirmed the agreement among the four nations to press for all necessary steps to achieve at the earliest an expansion of the Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent categories.  The Chinese spokesperson said ever since the launching of the inter-governmental negotiations on the UNSC reforms, member states had conducted in-depth discussions on various issues concerning the process and made some positive progress. “The discussions show that parties still have sharp differences over some major issues about the reforms and consensus is yet to be reached.” He said Beijing was of the view that since there were so many disputes, there was a need to enhance dialogue and consultation on the reform process.  The spokesperson, however, was quite careful with his words lest China should be seen as a country out to stop India or Japan from entering the exclusive club of P-5 countries (five permanent UNSC members). Therefore, he qualified his reservations about the reform process by stating that Beijing advocated that UN member states should seek a package of solutions and try to reach the most broad-based consensus through extensive and democratic consultations, accommodating interests and concerns of all parties.  China, the spokesperson said, was ready to stay in contact with all parties, and make joint efforts to push forward the reforms in a way conducive to safeguarding the overall interests of the UN and the unity of the member states.

Army to probe leak of Howitzer gun trial report
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, February 14 The Army on Monday said a probe has been ordered into the leak of a classified field trial report of the M-777 ultra-light Howitzer guns, which are being purchased by it from the US.  The guns are being procured via the foreign military sales route --- the standard way to buy military equipment from a foreign nation.  Controversy hit the procurement of these guns after some pages of the classified report were leaked recently. The Army is seeing this as an act of “espionage” and has ordered the Director General of Military Intelligence to conduct a probe into the incident.  A total 160 Howitzer guns, capable of firing 155 mm ammunition, are being procured for $ 647 million and are meant to arm 10 regiments of the Army in the mountainous areas. These guns, also known by their acronym ULH (ultra light Howitzer), can be slung under an Mi-26 chopper and placed at a desired location within a short period.  The field trial of the gun was completed in December 2010 and a confidential report was finalised in January. Five pages of this report mysteriously reached the Army Headquarters last month along with a note urging it to scrap the order.  Though the Army officials refused to comment, sources said, the note “threatened” Army Chief General VK Singh that he would meet the same fate as that of his predecessor in the Adarsh Housing Society scam if the military went ahead with the gun deal. The deal is critical for the Army and General VK Singh had expressed hope that the guns would be inducted by the end of this year into the force.

DRDO now takes on mosquitoes, launches repellent cream
 Press Trust of India, Updated: February 14, 2011 18:16 IST New Delhi:  It has been developing missiles and other state-of-the-art equipment for the armed forces, but the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is now ready to take on the oldest human enemy - mosquitoes - that are vectors of diseases like malaria, and dengue with a new insect repellent cream.  Launching the 'Maxo Military' and 'Maxo Safe and & Soft Wipes,' DRDO said the cream based product will fool the mosquitoes, will have a pleasant fragrance and will not block your skin pores - a common problem with such products.  "This cream is based on a uniquely configured, researched and tested molecule which acts like a decoy and cheats the mosquito. It does not allow mosquitoes to sense the presence of human blood in their vicinity," Prahlada, Chief Controller, Research & Development, of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told reporters.  The artificially developed molecules in the cream interfere with the sensory mechanism of the mosquito and stop it from biting the humans   Research and developed by DRDO, the product would be manufactured and marketed by Jyothy Laboratories Limited which also holds the license to sell it outside the defence forces.  The first of its kind mosquito repellent has been developed under a special technology commercialisation programme signed between the DRDO and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).  DRDO and FICCI signed for the Accelerated Technology Assessment & Commercialisation (ATAC) programme in 2009 and have successfully commercialised more than 20 products for mass production by the private industries.  "The cream has been developed keeping in mind the requirement of soldiers posted in forest and swampy areas. These soldiers are always susceptible to mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, chikungunya and dengue," said M P Ramachandran , Chairman and Managing Director, Jyothy Labs.  Based on Diethyl Phenyl Acetamide (DEPA) technology, the product has gone under a series of advancements after its initial launch a few years ago.  Talking about the advance researches in the mosquito repellent creams, Prahlada said, "Mosquito repellent creams actually block the skin pores by sticking to it, and do not allow the skin to breathe.  "But this wipe does not block the skin pores, allowing it to breathe with a good fragrance. It gives a very smooth and comfortable feeling just like that of a facial cream or a moisturiser," he added.  Besides Indian Army, the cream would also be supplied to the central paramilitary forces (CPMF) which are engaged in border policing and Naxal infested areas.

Japanese Army Chief in India to boost defence ties
2011-02-14 21:20:00 Download Google Chrome Ads by Google Searching is fast and easy with Google's web browser.  In an endeavor to boost defence cooperation between the two nations,General Yoshifumi Hibako, Chief of Staff, Japanese Ground Self Defence Forces, is currently on a four-day visit of India.  India and Japan share a global vision of peace and stability. A road map for developing cooperation in the defence and security was agreed to in the form of joint statement during the then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Japan in 2006.  A 'Defence Policy Dialogue' has been established between the two countries and military to military Talks have also been institutionalized. Both the nations are committed to build on their strategic convergences and strengthen defence cooperation in mutually identified fields.  During his four days visit ending on February 16, General Hibako is scheduled to interact with senior officials of Indian armed forces and Ministry of Defence and discuss issues to enhance military cooperation.  This visit will further cement the historic ties between India and Japan, especially the military to military contacts, which are based on mutual trust and understanding. (ANI)

Army seeks relaxation to procure 'failed' gun
Anubha Bhonsle CNN-IBN  New Delhi: More than 20 years after Bofors, which gave India an edge during Kargil war, the Indian Army continues to struggle to modernise its artillery.  After four failed attempts in the last five years, it looks as if Bofors could be a jinx once again.  BAE Systems, the company that now owns Bofors, makes the ultra light Howitzer M777, which is likely to be procured through a Foreign Military Sales route.  But it turned out that the gun has failed trials on several parameters.  Parts of the leaked trial report, now the subject of an enquiry reportedly showed how the gun in the crucial Direct Firing trials, failed in both day and night.  Its compatibility, according to the Firing Table set up by the Army, was once again a 'Fail'.  In the Air Portability Trials, the BAE gun scored a zero on transportability by air. Transport by cargo, Para dropping the gun and a Heli Transport in a slung mode all showed up a 'Fail'.  The sighting system that deals with night vision also showed a 'Fail' along with the Inbuilt Communication System.  High level officials, that CNN IBN spoke to, do admit that some of the parameters on which the gun has failed are imperative for the artillery edge the force needs. But also equally important to underline these are details of just part of the report. In the final assessment, the ULH could still make the cut.  The revelations have put the scanner on the gun once again, since New Delhi has decided to go the Foreign Military Sales route, which is often more expensive but without the twists and turn that military tenders can run into.  The FMS route is essentially a government to government deal, which implies non-tender purchases, wherein the US Government is procuring the equipment on behalf of the Indian Government from its military companies and takes a commission for the services rendered through the Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency.  But the following line, in the Defence Acquisition Council's confidential note on the gun, could prove to be more controversial. It says "Post validation of Operational Requirements in trials conducted in India seek deviations to earlier technical parameters under Para 75 of DPP-2008".  Experts said it was part of the procedure. Anytime an equipment doesn't match your requirements, you seek a deviation. The bottomline though remains that the Indian Army's artillery procurement remains caught in a maze and the latest FMS route may have still not cut through it.

India foresees new cyber security threats India foresees new cyber security threats
February 14, 2011 12:05 IST Tags: K Saraswat, Defence Research and Development Organisation, India, Indian Air Force, Navy Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  India faces new security threats from the cyber world with the increasing convergence of technologies changing the rules of engagements, a top defence official said here on Friday.  "Cyber security is a major challenge as our operations are going to be on the network-centric system which is dependent on the information and communication technologies," scientific adviser to defence minister V K Saraswat told reporters.  Securing this network-centric system would be a major problem, Saraswat said, adding the country would have to build robust systems and platforms with proprietary software to make sure the networks were safe and almost invincible.  As a missile technologist, Saraswat is also director-general of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which designs and develops a range of technologies and products for the Indian Air Force, Army and Navy spanning aircraft, choppers, radars, weapons, missiles, battle tanks, submarines and a host of support systems.  "As far as the security threat is concerned, it is always evolving. Beyond the conventional threat from land, air or sea, the new threats are economic and cyber, where we have to become more vigilant," Saraswat said here.  While discussing the hypersonic cruise missile, Saraswat, said it is one of the most complex technologies.  Only two countries, the US and Australia [ Images ], have done it so far. He also said the engine for the missile had been tested for 20 seconds on the ground and had performed reasonably well.  Meanwhile, he said India [ Images ] does not believe in space wars, but has the technology to integrate systems to defend its satellites, he added.  "Our country does not have a policy to attack anybody in space. But as part of the Ballistic Missile Defence Programme, we have the technology required to integrate a system through which we can defend our satellites or take care of future requirements."  As a country, "We do not believe in space wars", he said in response to a query if India had anti-satellite weapons capabilities.  India did not have a formal anti-satellite weapons policy of attacking satellites in space, but was well geared in case of any eventuality, he told reporters.  Giving updates on the various defence programmes, he said the 'Nirbhay' project, relating to a subsonic medium range cruise missile, is undergoing integration and the first flight trial is set to take place early next year.  On Agni-V missile, he said all the rocket rotors, first stage, second stage and third stage have been developed.  "We will ground test it," he said adding the software and hardware essential for control of guidance for a long-range missile is being developed.  "We expect that by end of this year we will have the first flight of Agni-V," he said.

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