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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

From Today's Papers - 08 Mar 2011

China has five airfields in Tibet, Antony tells House
Tribune News Service  New Delhi March 7 China’s rising military prowess reverberated in the Lok Sabha today as Defence Minister AK Antony told members that India’s northern neighbour has built five airfields, a network of rail lines and more than 58,000 km of roads in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) - all reaching close to the border.  “Five airfields in Tibet have become operational and include Gongar, Linchi, Pangta, Hoping and Gar Gunsa,” Antony said in a written reply. A total of 19 members had raised probing questions on China and its designs.  Antony went on to say that total road network in Tibet is assessed to be 58,000 km in the year 2010. The Chinese are also extending Qinghai Tibet Railway to Xigaze. Another railway line from Kashgar to Hotan in Xinjinag Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is also under construction.  AK Antony explained that differences in perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) had led to situations that could have been avoided if we (India and China) had a common perception of the LAC. Last year there were a series of reports that the Chinese had intruded into the India territory.  On the specific cases of infrastructure development by Chinese near the LAC, Antony said, “these are taken up with their authorities through the established mechanism of Hotline facility, flag meetings and Border Personnel Meetings (BPMs).”  The Defence Minister emphasised that the process has been initiated for ensuring that India’s security concerns are adequately addressed through development of infrastructure, including rail, roads and forward airfields as well as operational capabilities.  India has taken several steps, including raising two Mountain Divisions of the Army in the northeast, deployment of four squadrons of its frontline Su-30 MKI fighters, and is also considering deployment of Ultra Light Howitzers (ULHs) and light tanks in the territories along the LAC.

‘Howitzer gun trials still on’
 New Delhi: Just days after the Army ordered a probe into the leak of a classified field trial report of M-777 ultra-light Howitzer guns, Defence Minister AK Antony told Parliament that trials for the gun were on. Replying to a question, he said, “The trials for procurement of lightweight 155 mm Howitzers are underway.”  The gun is being purchased through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route from the US. Under the FMS route, the agreement, if any, takes place between the governments of India and the US.  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. — TNS

Army ready with Kargil war records
Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, March 7 After having faced the Armed Forces Tribunal’s ire over non-production of documents related to the Kargil conflict, the army today brought in a stack of the necessary documents in a sealed cover.  These were, however, not taken on record by the bench today as the petitioner in the case, Brig Surinder Singh (retd) moved another application seeking some additional documents. He had sought several documents held by the army to substantiate the contentions raised in his petition.  The bench decided to take up the papers brought in by the army as well as the fresh set of documents sought by the petitioner together on April 27.  Central government counsels, Col R. Balasubramanian and Gurpreet Singh said that the army would be claiming privilege under section 123 of the Evidence Act against the production of the documents as there were classified and had ramifications on national security.  Brig Surinder today said the documents he is now seeking to be brought on record included published extracts of books authored by the then army chief, Gen V.P. Malik and former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh. He contended that these extracts included classified information and maps. He is also seeking details of security classification categorisation of documents.  Brigadier Singh was commander of 121 Brigade at Kargil when the conflict broke out. He was removed from command in the early stages of the conflict and later dismissed from service. Praying not only for professional restitution, but also for a complete investigation into the Kargil conflict, he has sought a number of records to substantiate his claims and contentions.  The brigade was responsible for the defence of the LoC in the Kargil sector, where Pakistani troops and other elements had intruded and occupied key peaks on the Indian side.

Rehabilitating ex-militants Innovative scheme, but prevent misuse 
The Jammu and Kashmir government’s policy of allowing militants to start their life afresh if they abandon the destructive path has started paying off. Over 600 applications have been received from relatives and parents of militants who had sneaked into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for purposes of training, but now have a change of heart and want to come back home under the state’s rehabilitation policy announced in November last year. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has hinted that their requests may be granted after a close study of their cases. There are ways to find out the genuineness of all the applicants, who are prepared to resettle in their hometowns and villages with their wives and children.  The rehabilitation policy had evoked both appreciation and criticism when it was being drafted by the state government last year. Union Home Minister gave his full backing for the innovative idea whereas the BJP and some other political parties were opposed to giving any kind of concession to those who had joined the ranks of the nation’s enemies, but were now repenting their decision. Interestingly, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, now a Cabinet minister at the Centre, had also expressed his reservations about the policy, which, in his opinion, could lead to opening a Pandora’s box.  The truth, however, is that those who look at the rehabilitation policy without keeping their political glasses aside cannot see its advantages in the long term. There could be no better and peaceful way to weaken the militant forces having their control and command on the other side of the Line of Control. More than 600 youngsters who had taken to the path of militancy openly admitting their mistake will send a powerful message to the others to take to the path of reform. This can help make the misguided youth believe that militancy can solve none of the problems of Kashmir. Of course, each and every case must be considered on merit to prevent the policy’s misuse. 

US military prepare land and sea options on Libya
Press Trust of India / New York March 07, 2011, 13:16 IST  With Mummar Gaddafi's forces on an all out offencive on outgunned rebels, US military has prepared a range of land, air and sea options in Libya in case Washington and its NATO allies decide to intervene there.  Pressure is building up on US and its allies to flex their military muscle in the face of brazen use of military power by Gaddafi'a forces on the civilians and Pentagon's joint staffs are offering a broad range of options, New York Times reported today.  The military options being considered range from positioning a signal-jamming aircraft in the international air space of Libya which could muddle Libyan government's communication with military units.  "US administration officials said preparation for such an operations were underway," the Times said.  The other options, the paper said, before the US were air dropping of weapons including anti-tank arms and supplies to Libya's oppositions or inserting small special operations team to assist and guide the rebels, as was done in Afghanistan in 2001 to topple the Taliban.  Such teams of commandos are specially trained to turn rag-tag rebel groups overnight into more effective fighting formations, with the modest infusion of know how and leadership.  Libyan opposition commanders and leaders have already approached the UN as well as US for international intervention as they feel ill-equipped to drive out Gaddafi's forces who outgun them and are backed by highly sophisticated Russian made fighters and helicopter gunships.  The call for action is also coming from powerful voices within the US. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry has demanded that the US and its allies should plan for a 'no-fly' zone over Libya and considered bombing the country's airports and runways.  In a statement here, Kerry cautioned that an operation should be initiated only after an international agreement.  The reports of US military firming up military options comes as a naval strike force is now positioned within range off the Libyan coast.  Two amphibious assault ships USS Kearsarge and USS Ponce are moored in international waters carrying a full complement of 26th Marine Expeditionary Force.  In the task force are Harrier jump-jet warplanes, which not only can bomb, strafe and engage in dogfights, but can also carry surveillance pods for monitoring military action on the ground in Libya.  Warships also have attack helicopters; transport aircraft- both cargo helicopters and the fast, long-range Osprey, whose rotors let it lift straight up, then tilt forward like propellers to ferry Marines, doctors, refugees or supplies across the desert- landing craft that can cross the surf anywhere along Libya's long coastline; and about 400 ground combat troops of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines.

China has five airbases, extensive rail-road networks in Tibet: Antony
 Rajat Pandit, TNN | Mar 8, 2011, 01.13am IST NEW DELHI: Apart from nuclear missile bases in Qinghai province which clearly target India, China has built five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000 km of roads in Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).  People's Liberation Army is also rapidly upgrading several other airstrips in TAR as well as south China, to add to the five airbases from where Chinese Sukhoi-27UBK and Sukhoi-30MKK fighters have practised operations in recent times.  Moreover, with extensive road-rail links in TAR, PLA can amass upwards of two divisions (30,000 soldiers) at their "launch pads'' along the border in just 20 days now compared to the over 90 days it took earlier.  All this is not strikingly new but, soon after Beijing hiked its annual military budget to $91.5 billion, mounting concern over China's massive build-up of military infrastructure was reflected in Lok Sabha on Monday.  Cutting across party lines, 19 MPs came together to quiz defence minister A K Antony on whether the UPA government was taking "cognizance'' of the "increased Chinese military activities'' along the 4,057-km LAC.  Antony, in a written reply, said "necessary steps'' were being taken in consonance with India's national security concerns. "Military capacity enhancement and modernisation of armed forces is a dynamic process, which takes into account the cumulative challenges envisaged by the nation,'' he said.  "The total road network in TAR is assessed at 58,000 km in 2010. Extension of Qinghai Tibet Railway to Xigaze is in progress. Another railway line from Kashgar to Hotan in Xinjiang Uighur Autonmous Region is under construction,'' he said, adding the five TAR airfields were Gongar, Pangta, Linchi, Hoping and Gar Gunsa.  India is now, albeit belatedly, trying to strategically counter China. Just last week, for instance, saw two new Sukhoi-30MKIs touch down at Chabua airbase in Assam, the second airbase in North-East after Tezpur to house the multi-role fighters. Both airbases will have two Sukhoi squadrons (each has 16 to 18 jets) each.  The Army, on its part, has raised two new mountain infantry divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers. While the 56 Division has its HQ in Zakama (Nagaland) under the Dimapur-based 3 Corps, the 71 Division at Missamari (Assam) falls in the operational command of the Tezpur-based 4 Corps.  IAF is also upgrading eastern sector ALGs (advanced landing grounds) like Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting, Ziro and Vijaynagar as well as several helipads in Arunachal. This comes after the reactivation of western sector ALGs like Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyama in eastern Ladakh.

Compensation to personnel on peacekeeping missions hiked
PTI | 07:03 PM,Mar 07,2011  New Delhi, Mar 7 (PTI) The compensation paid to defence personnel killed in peacekeeping missions under the United Nations (UN) flag has been increased to USD 70,000 from USD 50,000, the Lok Sabha was informed today.In a written reply to the House, Defence Minister A K Antony said, "A sum of USD 50,000 was being paid for those killed. This has been revised to USD 70,000 with effect from July 2010. " "The death compensation paid to the families of personnel killed in such peacekeeping missions is over and above the normal package for similar cases in India," Antony said.He also informed the House that eight Indian Army personnel were killed in various UN peacekeeping missions during the last three years.Meanwhile, replying to a query on whether the cadets in the Indian Military Academy (IMA) are allowed to keep mobile phones and get Internet facilities in their rooms, Antony said, "The cadets have been permitted to keep mobile phones in their rooms from July 2010." "In the past, mobile phone signals were not available in IMA campus from any mobile service provider. However, adequate number of fixed lines and WLL connections excluding BSNL were provided in each training company to enable cadets to make and receive calls," he added.On internet facilities in the rooms of the cadets, the Minister said, "They have not been provided with internet access in their rooms. However, internet service has been provided under centralized arrangements at cyber cafes in each company, IT labs and library." PTI AD

Govt approves OFC communication network for defence services
 PTI | 10:03 PM,Mar 07,2011  New Delhi, Mar 7 (PTI) The government has approved a Rs 9,175 crore dedicated Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) communication network for the Defence Services for the Spectrum released by them, Lok Sabha was informed today."Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) has given a financial approval of Rs 9,175.16 crore for laying of alternate communication network for Defence Services and this project is to be completed by December 2012," Defence Minister A K Antony said in a written reply.The Minister said the communication network for the armed forces would be laid by public sector telecom giant BSNL.In the allocation made for the project, Rs 1,077 crore are for the IAF and the rest are for the Army, Antony said.Meanwhile, answering another query, the Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said a decision on taking penal action against the foreign and Indian firms named in the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) scam would be taken soon."A decision on taking penal will be taken after examining the reply of the firms and in consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice and CVC," he said.In June 2010, the CBI had named and recommended blacklisting of six firms for being involved in illegal gratification in the case.The companies included Singapore Technologies Kinetics, Israel Military Industries, T S Kisan Private Limited, Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD), Zurich and Corporation Defence, Russia.The Minister said fresh show-cause notices have been issued to all the firms, which have been recommended for black listing by CBI based on the contents of the charge sheet."Some of the firms have requested to provide all documents and other substantiating material and they have been provided with the available documents in the Ministry and have been directed to submit their reply to the show cause notice," he added.

CII organizing two-day International Seminar on military modernization Close 2011-03-07 19:30:00   MIL-STD-Aerospace EMC Ads by Google The only NATA accredited Lab. MIL-STD461 & Consulting  The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) is organizing a two-day International Seminar on military modernization at the Manekshaw Auditorium here.  Lt Gen JP Singh, Deputy Chief of Army Staff (P and S), Integrated HQ of MoD (Army); Rahul Chaudhry, chairman, CII Defence Sub Committee on R and D, Technology and Indigenisation and CEO, Tata Power (Strategic Electronic Division) and Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd), Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) will address the Inaugural Session of the seminar tomorrow.  The deliberation during the seminar would focus upon military modernisation requirements for conventional and sub-conventional conflicts.  These requirements cover a wide spectrum including arms and ammunition; protective technologies and equipments; mechanised forces and artillery; air-defence; army aviation and engineers; information and communication technology based Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; command and control systems and logistics, etc. (ANI)

IDSA COMMENT India’s Defence Budget 2011-12
Bookmark and Share Laxman K Behera  March 7, 2011  The union budget 2011-12, presented to the parliament on February 28, 2011, increased the defence allocation to Rs 1,64,415.49 crore ($36.03 billion). The allocation, which represents an 11.59 per cent growth over the previous year’s budget, is impressive at least on two accounts. First, the defence budget has not been unduly impacted by the government’s fiscal consolidation process. Second, the defence budget shows, at least on the face of it, the ministry of defence’s (MoD) ability to spend the resources, particularly the capital portion, within the stipulated time. Fiscal Consolidation and Defence Budget  It was expected that the defence budget 2011-12 might be affected by the government’s fiscal austerity measures. Although the government has succeeded in bringing the estimated fiscal deficit down to 4.6 per cent of the GDP in 2011-12, the defence budget has been shielded from its effects. This is primarily because of the impressive turnaround made by the economy post the global financial crisis. The return to the pre-crisis nine per cent growth path has given the finance ministry the hope of stepping up its revenue collection. In fact, the government’s net revenue is expected to rise by nearly 16 per cent to Rs. 7,89,892 crore in the coming fiscal, mainly on account of increase in tax revenue which is projected to grow by 24 per cent to Rs. 6,64,457 crore. This buoyancy has made it possible for the finance ministry to simultaneously undertake fiscal consolidation and increase expenditure. This has in turn benefited many central ministries and departments including the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which has witnessed one of the highest growth rates in its budget in recent times. Key Statistics of Defence Budget 2011-12  Although the defence budget for 2011-12 has been increased by 11.59 per cent over the previous year’s allocation, its growth rate comes down to 8.47 per cent over the revised estimate for 2010-11. In other words, the MoD has over spent its 2010-11 allocations (at the time of revised estimate) by Rs 4,237.69 crore . Unlike in previous years, this extra expenditure was, incurred on both the revenue and capital fronts; the former grew by Rs 3,404.43 core (3.9 per cent), and the latter marginally, but significantly, by Rs. 833.26 crore (1.4 per cent).  The announced increase in the defence budget has resulted in an additional allocation of Rs. 17,071.49 crore over the previous budget. Of this Rs. 7,872.68 crore is earmarked for revenue expenditure and the balance Rs. 9,198.81 for capital expenditure. In other words, revenue expenditure has grown by 9.01 per cent to Rs. 95,216.68 and the capital expenditure by 15.33 per cent to Rs. 69,198.81 crore. On the revenue side, although the growth has been necessitated by the increase in pay and allowances, there has also been an increase in the budgetary provision for other revenue items such as stores, transportation, etc.  The adequate increase in the defence budget has had a favourable impact on key statistics (see Table), except in terms of its share in total central government expenditure and GDP. The declining share of defence in these key parameters can be ascribed to the relatively faster growth of the Indian economy and the resultant increase in total central governmental expenditure. On the positive side, the ratio between revenue expenditure and capital expenditure has improved in favour of the latter, showing the government’s greater focus on the modernisation of the armed forces. The improvement is largely due to the hefty increase in the capital acquisition budget, which has grown by more than 25 per cent to Rs. 55,604 crore ($12.2 billion). Among the three services, the air force accounts for the largest share with an acquisition budget of Rs. 28,354.54 crore, followed by army (Rs. 14,100.44 crore) and navy (Rs. 13,149.02 crore).  It is noteworthy that the large provision under the capital acquisition budget is for some ‘big-ticket’ items such as the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) (for the air force), C-17 Globamaster (air force), advanced helicopter (for air force and army), and patrol vessels (for navy); contract for these are due to be signed in the coming fiscal year. Assuming that 60 per cent of the capital acquisition budget goes for committed liabilities, the MoD will have around Rs. 22,240 crore ($ 4.9 billion) to pay for new acquisitions. Table: Key Statistics of Defence Budget, 2010-11 and 2011-12             2010-11   2011-12 Defence Budget (Rs. in Crore)                1,47,344 1,64,415.49 Growth of Defence Budget (%)          3.98                 11.59 Revenue Expenditure (Rs. in Crore)           87,344     95,216.68 Growth of Revenue Expenditure (%)    0.57         9.01 Share of Revenue Expenditure in Defence Budget (%)      59.28       57.91 Capital Expenditure (Rs. in Crore)              60,000     69,198.81 Growth of Capital Expenditure (%)                 9.44         15.33 Share of Capital Expenditure in Defence Budget (%)                 40.72       42.09 Share of Defence Budget in GDP (%)         2.12                 1.83 Share of Defence Budget in Central Government Expenditure (%)             13.29       13.07 Share of Services  In 2011-12, the army, with an approximate budget of Rs. 83, 415 crore, accounts for 51 per cent of the total defence budget; at a distance follow the air force (Rs. 46,151.78 crore), navy (Rs. 25,246.89 crore), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) (Rs. 10,253.17 crore), and ordnance factories (OFs) (Rs. 776.79 crore). The major share for the army is because of the large scale provision under revenue expenditure, which is primarily driven by pay and allowances. In terms of capital expenditure, the air force with a budget of Rs. 30,223.83 crore is the most capital-intensive, followed by the army (Rs. 19,163.07 crore), navy (Rs. 14,657.83 crore), DRDO (Rs. 4,628.3 crore), and OFs (Rs. 399.96 crore).  Figure: Share of Defence Services in Defence Budget 2011-12  Note: The figure is based on total defence budget (Rs. 1,64,415.49 crore) minus Rs. 125.82 crore which is allocated under the heads of ‘Prototype development under ‘Make’ procedure’ and ‘Others’. Minus budget for the OFs because of their excess revenue over expenditure. Re-appropriation in Capital Expenditure  As the new defence budget reveals, the MoD has spent more than its 2010-11 budgetary allocations under the capital head. On the face of it, the utilisation of the capital fund is creditable given the MoD’s past record of surrendering allocated funds. A closer examination of the budget, however, reveals that the spending has not been done as was intended in the original budget, leading to under utilisation in some heads and over utilisation in others. For instance, 30 per cent of allocation under the head of ‘Other Equipment’ has remained under utilised, whereas allocations under the ‘Air-craft and Aero-Engine’ and ‘Naval Fleet’ have been over utilised by 24 per cent and 11 per cent. But it is not clear whether the overspending was necessitated by a change in plans midway, or because of parking of funds with state-owned enterprises in an attempt to prevent the surrender of funds. (As regards parking of funds, there have been several occasions in the past, where the MoD deliberately transferred funds in excess of annual budgetary provisions to its production agencies.)  The readjustment (or re-appropriation as it is known in the budgetary parlance) allowed with certain conditions does not, however, free the MoD of its responsibility to stick to its plan to the extent possible. A deliberate digression from the plan in order to utilise the money is not always efficient or desirable. For instance, the budgetary provision to buy radars will lose its relevance if the said budget ended up buying missiles, which cannot be used without effective surveillance. In this context, the efficiency of the MoD lies not only in spending the capital head within the stipulated time period but also spending it as per the original plan. Rise in Pay and Allowances  In 2011-12, total pay and allowances of the three services and the DRDO are estimated to grow by 10.3 per cent to Rs. 51,591.27 crore. (The pay and allowances of ordnance factories are not included in the calculation because of lack of data at the time of writing). This pay component represents 54.2 per cent of the total revenue expenditure and 31.4 per cent of the total defence budget; it is also responsible for 28 per cent of the increase in the total defence budget.  It is to be noted that pay and allowances are obligatory in nature and the government has little control over their growth, given the mandatory increase in annual pay and dearness allowances. Moreover, most of today’s pay and allowances constitute tomorrow’s defence pensions, over which also the government has little control. The uncontrollable growth in these two components have a great implication on other aspects of the defence budget. This is more so, given the government’s ceiling approach to defence allocation, which invariably affects the non-obligatory components of the budget, particularly capital acquisitions, stores, transportation and revenue works. Keeping this in view, there is a need to ensure that the pay component remains within certain limits. It is in this context that the MoD needs to adopt zero based budgeting (ZBB) and outcome budgeting, so as to ensure that some of the inefficiencies are done away with and precious resources diverted to important areas. Conclusion  The defence budget 2011-12 is an impressive one. It has not only been shielded from the effects of the government’s fiscal consolidation process, but has also grown by nearly 12 per cent, the highest in recent years if one excludes the year 2009-10 when the budget was increased by 34 per cent mainly due to the increases in pay mandated by the sixth central pay commission. The growth in the defence budget has provided extra resources, particularly for the modernisation of the armed forces.

5 UP Sainik School students to join NDA
TNN,Mar 6, 2011, 05.30am IST  LUCKNOW: After clearing various tests conducted by the Services Selection Board, five students of UP Sainik School are all set to join the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla (in Pune). While, four of them would join the army wing, the fifth one would take to the naval arm.  "The students have help us realise the very aim of our existence. We feel extremely proud," said Lt Col DR Mishra, registrar, UPSS. The students who have cracked the SSB are: Ravi Kiran Jaiswal, Bhrigu Dutt, Himanshu Mishra, Gaurav Singh Senger and Srota Kumar Srivastava.  Opened in 1960 to serve as a nursery to the Indian Army, the UP Sainik School is India's first. It led to the coming up of 24 Sainik Schools across the country. Though the aim is to train cadets for joining the armed forces, but even if cadets fail to crack the test, they grow up as individuals prepared to face the world.

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