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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

From Today's Papers - 19 Apr 2011

Maj Gen alleges bias in promotion, moves AFT
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, April 18 Alleging bias by Gen VK Singh, first in his capacity as the Eastern Army Commander and later as the Army Chief, a Major General has claimed that he was not considered for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General despite having an outstanding career profile.  In his petition that came up for hearing before the Armed Forces Tribunal here, Maj Gen TS Handa has contended that he was awarded a “displeasure” by Gen Singh in 2008 and given “lukewarm” annual confidential reports (ACRs) in contray to his earlier profile and his performance for the said period.  A non-statutory complaint filed by him with Army Headquarters against his ACRs was rejected by Gen Singh when he was later elevated as the Army Chief.  Handa became a Major General in July 2007 and was posted as the General Officer Commanding 57 Mountain Division in the North-East. In May, one of his brigade commanders took up a case with him for posting out a woman officer from that sector as she was the only woman officer in an area of intense counter-insurgency operations and had consequently developed suicidal tendencies. On seeing the sensitivity of the matter, he forwarded the case to the Army Headquarters to post the woman in an area where several woman officers were posted.  However, the Major General claims that he was blamed for mishandling the case and was given a “displeasure” by Gen Singh without even being spoken to or being asked for an explanation. He was also given a low grading in his next two ACRs, despite his achievements. He claimed in his petition that he had executed the first ever counter-insurgency operation in and around Loktah Lake in Manipur, which resulted in the so-called Prepak Cobra group, which that had launched attacks on the Manipur Assembly and the Chief Minister’s residence, being decimated, thereby giving a major boost to improving the security situation.

Release of sailors top priority, says Antony
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, April 18 Spelling out the government plan to tackle the hostage crisis in Somalia, Defence Minister AK Antony today said securing the release of seven Indian sailors in pirates’ captivity was the top priority.  Antony, along with Pranab Mukerjee and P Chidambaram, had been part of the crisis management group meeting held yesterday to take stock of the situation.  Antony said the Indian Naval warship tasked to be off the coast of Somalia, has been stationed to protect the 8 Indian sailors released by pirates on Friday.  A Talwar class frigate, a 4000-tonne vessel, has been diverted from its anti-piracy duties off the Gulf of Aden. “We will not return without the sailors who are held hostage,” said the Defence Minister.  In response to a question if the government was mulling the option of launching commando operations to free the sailors, Antony said: “These are sensitive matters and cannot be discussed.”  On Friday, pirates released eight of the 15 Indian sailors held hostage since September last year. Seven other Indians, including six officers, have been held back despite ransom being paid to the sea brigands. MV Asphalt Venture was hijacked on its way to Durban from Mombassa, Kenya.  Sources said the owners of MV Asphalt Venture have started re-negotiating with the pirates.

Sea pirates on the loose
Every “deal” only strengthens them  Not unexpectedly, the Somali pirates have reneged on the deal with them and after taking an undisclosed sum, said to be running in crores, have released only eight of the 15 Indian sailors they had been holding captive since September. These ruthless mercenaries can be depended upon to be undependable and that is what they have done yet again.  They want to use the sailors still left with them to strike a “swap deal” with India to get released 100 of their brethren captured by the Indian Navy. Needless to say that any such arrangement would be counter-productive, considering that it would only encourage the bloodthirsty pirates to hunt for more vulnerable merchant ships.  The country is still paying a price for releasing three terrorists in exchange for 150 passengers of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 hijacked to Kandahar in 1999. India will have to strike a tough stance like some other countries, which have no dealing with such blackmailers. One hopes that the diversion of a warship from anti-piracy patrolling duties off the Gulf of Aden to the coast of Somalia is a first step in that direction. A flotilla of European and US-led navies is already on patrol close by.  Unfortunately, governments put pressure on owners of hijacked ships to pay the ransom. The pirates then attack other ships also like piranhas. The Somali piracy has become so brazen that some 638 merchant seamen are currently being held captive. It is necessary to launch an all-out international offensive against the menace. Under the present set-up, navies on the high seas have to wait for the pirates to get violent before bringing effective force to bear on them. It is necessary to police the vulnerable areas under the UN flag. Finding the international community divided, they have already extended their area of operation way beyond the coast of Somalia. 

Woman officer wins fight for permanent commission
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, April 18 The Army’s senior-most woman law officer has finally got relief in her fight for grant of permanent commission. The Armed Forces Tribunal today directed the Army to consider her for grant of permanent commission notwithstanding the fact that she did not appear for a departmental examination in the early stages of her career.  The tribunal’s order implies that decks have now been cleared for Major Leena Gaurav of the Judge Advocate General’s Department to be considered for permanent commission. The Army has not been granted leave to appeal the order in the Supreme Court.  In spite of having qualified in the promotion examination in June 2010 for elevation as lieutenant-colonel after 13 years of service, the Army wants her to appear for a departmental examination supposed to be written after about four years of service. Incidentally, the said examination was not required for woman officers while she was in the service bracket at that time and was made mandatory only in 2008.  The promotion examination is tougher than the departmental examination. Her counsel, Col PN Chaturvedi (retd) contended once an officer had qualified a higher examination, there was no logic about having qualified in a lower-level examination. In March 2010, she was granted a waiver from appearing in the entrance examination, he said.  Based on a similar exemption granted to another woman officer, she had taken up her case for exemption for the lower-level examination with the authorities. She was granted exemption by the department in the interest of career progression, but in October 2010, she received a letter from the Adjutant General, which was “evasive” and “undecisive” over the issue of exemption.  She was supposed to have completed her terms of engagement in August 2010, but consequent to the Delhi High Court Judgment granting permanent commission to women officers, the President extended her services till December 1, 2010, or till the orders of the screening board, whichever was earlier.

Gallantry awards to Army personnel
President pratibha Patil on Monday presented Gallantry awards to Army personnel during the Defence Investiture Ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.   Three Kirti Chakras (KC) including one posthumous, 18 Shaurya Chakras (SC) were on Monday awarded to Army personnel for acts of gallantry in India and abroad.     Kirti Chakra, the second highest peace time gallantry award, was given to Maj Rahul Gurung from Corps of Engineers and Captain Vikrant Ajit Deshmukh from Eight Battalion of Madras regiment.     Captain Deepak Sharma from 42 Rashtriya Rifles was awarded the KC posthumously for his role in eliminating three terrorists in an encounter last year at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.     Among the 18 SC awardees, Majors Deepak Yadav and Nitesh Roy were given the award posthumously for saving lives of their colleagues during an attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on February 2010.     They bravely faced a suicide bomber who managed to sneak inside the residential block of the embassy and targeted a group of unarmed soldiers in a guest house.     While the duo managed to open an escape route for others, they got trapped inside the room which caught fire after the suicide bomber blew himself up.     Roy later succumbed to his injuries. The award was received by his wife Major Seema Mishra.     Havildar Rajan from 1 Para (Special Forces) received the medal for killing three Hijb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) militants, including one division commander who had a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head.     "It took us two months to gather information and plan the operation. I killed Shouqat, the divisional commander of HuM and two other terrorists after a night-long operation in the month of September 2009," he said.     Paratrooper Kapil Dev from the same unit received the award for killing four militants in Baramullah district of Jammu and Kashmir in a heli-borne operation in May last year.     Paratrooper M S Huchong from 21 PARA (SF), a native of Manipur's Bishnupur district, was awarded the SC after he killed two terrorists and injured four others in a two-and-half-hour-long lone gun battle against 60 militants there.     Interestingly, the soldier has a tattoo on his forearm saying, 'No Rescue, No Surrender, Do or Die.'     "I printed this tattoo as my motto in life. I promised myself that I would never forgive my enemies and would never buckle in any condition," he said.     13 Param Vishisht Seva Medals (PVSM), two Uttam Yudh Seva Medals (UYSM) and 27 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals (AVSM) were also awarded to senior military officers.

Defence Secretary-level talks between India, Pak likely in May
New Delhi, Apr 18 (PTI) India and Pakistan are likely to resume Defence Secretary-level talks in May where they will discuss a number of issues including demilitarisation of the world's highest battlefield - Siachen Glacier, and Sir Creek. "The dates for the Defence Secretary-level talks are yet to be finalised but they are most likely to be held next month," Defence Ministry sources said here. The dialogue at this level on the issues of Siachen and Sir Creek would be resumed after four years, though both sides have maintained a ceasefire since November 2003. The bone of contention in the negotiations between the two sides, however, has been the "delineation" of the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) beyond the NJ-9842 reference point, where the Line of Control simply stopped in the 1972 Shimla Pact, up to the Karakoram Pass. India has been pressing for authenticating the AGPL, both on the map and the ground, as its troops occupy most of the dominating posts on the Saltoro Ridge, before there is troop disengagement, withdrawal and the final demilitarisation of the glacier. Sources in the Indian Army said demand for such an arrangement would be made to delineate the AGPL before any agreement for withdrawal of troops is reached between the two countries. Both India and Pakistan maintain a Brigade-level presence across the 6,300-metre glacier where weather conditions and icy terrain claim more lives than bullets. The Sir Creek dispute lies in the interpretation of the maritime boundary line between Kutch in India and Sindh in Pakistan. Talks between the Home Secretaries of the two countries have already been held, and their Commerce Secretaries are meeting on April 29.

3 Kirti Chakras among defence medals conferred by president
New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) Three army personnel were Monday conferred the Kirti Chakra, India's second highest peacetime gallantry medal, by President Pratibha Patil for displaying conspicuous bravery.  At a defence investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan here, Patil also honoured 18 other armed forces personnel with Shaurya Chakra, the third highest peacetime bravery medal, apart from presenting 13 Param Vishisht Seva Medals (PVSM), two Uttam Yudh Seva Medals (UYSM) and 27 Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) for distinguished service.  One of the three Kirti Chakra awardees and five of the 18 Shaurya Chakra awardees were conferred the medals posthumously and these were presented by the President to their next of kin.  Those who received the Kirti Chakra medals were Major Rahul Gurung of Corps of Engineers, now serving with 12 Assam Rifles, Captain Deepak Sharma, a Signals officer serving with 42 Rashtriya Rifles, who died fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir in March 2010, and Captain Vikrant Ajit Deshmukh of 8 Madras Regiment.  Among the Shaurya Chakra winners were Major Deepak Yadav and Major Nitesh Roy, both from Army Education Corps, killed during a terrorists attack on a residential complex for Indian Embassy staffers in Kabul Feb 26, 2010.  Guardsman Krishan Kumar of Brigade of the Guards, who served with 21 Rashtriya Rifles, Sepoy Ravi Kant of Dogra Regiment from 11 Rashtriya Rifles and Sepoy Sangat Singh of Mahar Regiment from 30 Rashtriya Rifles were the other posthumous Shaurya Chakra awardees.  PVSM and AVSM are awarded for distinguished service of an exceptional order, while UYSM is conferred for distinguished service during a war, conflict or hostilities.

DRDO develops composite oxygen cylinders for IAF, Army pilots
Now, IAF and and the Indian Army pilots will be able to stay airborne for longer periods.  The Defence Research and Development Organisation has come up with composite oxygen cylinders that will lighten the burden of military helicopters in high-altitude areas.  "The oxygen cylinders used in Chetak and Cheetah helicopters last for 20-25 minutes only. We have developed a composite oxygen cylinder which would weigh one-fifth of normal cylinders but can provide oxygen supply for minimum two hours," W Selvamurthy, Chief Controller of DRDO told PTI.  Developed by Defence Bio-Engineering and Electro Medical Laboratory (DEBEL), the cylinders take away a significant amount of weight from the choppers, increasing its weight carrying capacity for longer durations.  "IAF has already accepted the technology and is considering placement of orders. Only a very few air-forces in the world have this technology and we managed to develop it in a record period of six months only," he said.  DRDO launched the project on suggestions of the Indian Defence Minister A K Antony to find an alternative of heavy oxygen cylinders that hamper weight carrying capacity of the choppers.  Completed at a cost of Rs six crore, DRDO recently completed the industrial checks of the technology and is now looking froward to initiate the tendering process for appointing an industrial partner.

India’s Military’s Cold Start Doctrine And Impact On Deterrence Stability In South Asia – Analysis
Deterrence in South Asia is delicate because of rapid militarization and operationalisation of Indian Military’s Cold Start Doctrine (CSD). CSD has the potential not only to operationalise Indian military’s aggressive doctrine on the basis of pre-emption but can also trigger a nuclear conflict. Main purpose of Cold Start is to give a “punishing” reply to Pakistan in case of any alleged terrorist attack on Indian soil with totally different orientation of the Indian armed forces from defensive to offensive.  Under CSD the Indian army would carry out swift, quick and offensive joint operations against the Pakistan military. Main objective of such operations is to create an element of surprise and give no response time to thePakistan military. CSD would require reformation of the army’s offensive power into eight smaller division-sized Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) that would have mechanized infantry, artillery and armour. (Indian army’s division size is around 23,000 troops). These IBGs would be self-contained and highly-mobile, with Russian-origin T-90 MBT and upgraded T-72 M1 tanks at their core, adequately backed by air cover and artillery fire assaults, for rapid thrusts into Pakistan within 72-96 hours. Possible deployment of these IBGs would be in Punjab and Rajastan sector close to the border with Pakistan.  India  n 2005 the Vajra Shakti Exercise, brought flexibility in its Holding corps or defensive corps. These holding corps were designated as Pivot corps. Pivot corps can initiate offensive if required in the battlefield. It would have offensive punch in it and could be used as mixed corps. According to the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen J J Singh, ‘‘They (Pivot Corps) have assigned roles, which are offensive as well as defensive and the doctrine does not spell them out in detail. The decision making has been left to theatre commanders, depending upon their assessment and evaluation of the situation. These pivot corps has an infantry division, armoured regiments and an independent mechanized brigade. Such a reformation in the Indian army shows its intentions to operationalise Cold Start Doctrine against Pakistan.  To operationalise this concept (CSD) the Indian military has carried out almost 10 major exercises close to the border with Pakistan. Main purpose of these exercises was to overcome the deficiencies in the Indian military and develop synergy and integration among the armed forces to carry out integrated operations against Pakistan. In these exercises the Indian Army introduced latest weapons and equipment, including Long Range Reconnaissance and Observation System-(LORROS), this system would enhance her surveillance, observation and targeting capabilities. In 2005 Indian military practiced Force Multiplication Command Post- (FMCP) to integrate real-time flow of information as a principal tool for decision making and NCW capabilities in the Indian Army.  The Indian Army has also worked hard to improve it capabilities to supply logistics in the dark formations without lights. In last six years the Indian military has practiced its capabilities to carry out Swift and Quick operations without any time barrier.  In 2007 the Indian military introduced its capabilities to fight a war in the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) environment in the Ashwamedh exercise. This demonstrates that India is ready to wage a limited war under the nuclear umbrella. From 2004 to 2010 the Indian military practiced offensive operations with its special forces; it has tested its capabilities to carry out heli-borne operations behind the enemy lines. Such capabilities are essential as far as surgical strikes are concerned. In 2009 the Indian army carried out an exercise called Hind Shakti, on that occasion Indian army’s former Chief General Deepak Kapoor claimed that, “this exercise is another step in army’s continued venture to fine tune its Cold Start Doctrine” which shows Indian military’s continued efforts to operationalise this doctrine against Pakistan.  The years 2009 and 2010 were very important, as far as operationalisation of the CSD is concerned. In these years Indian military introduced and practiced, Intensive Electronic and Information Warfare capabilities, Satellite imagery, Helicopter borne operations and, Surveillance systems. Another important induction in the Indian military’s weapon and equipment were Battlefield Surveillance Radars (BFSRs) and Weapon Locating Radars (WLRs). All these inductions are serious threat to the national security of Pakistan.  In addition to that the Indian Air Force practiced its precision strike capabilities during day and night operations and also carried out a massive fire power blitzkrieg, they have also practiced their joint operations with the army and mechanised forces. Such synergy and integration is necessary for the quick and swift operations. Despite all these elements India is working to overcome shortages in the Indian military machine. To fill this gap India will spend around US $ 200 billion on defence acquisitions over the next 12 years. It has plans to buy 278 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters by 2015 from Russia and 1000 T-90 Tanks by 2020. The Indian Defence budget for 2011-12 has crossed the 34 billion $ mark. India has become the world’s biggest arms importer according SIPRI think tank 2011. All these trends are destabilising factors and would provoke arms race in the region.  On the nuclear side, India would be able to secure huge reserves of stockpiles under the Indo-US deal. Currently India possesses 500 kg plutonium and 11.5 metric tons of reactor grade plutonium in spent fuel. According to some estimates India would be able to increase its nuclear arsenal from 100 warheads currently to 300-400 warheads in the next five years, putting strategic stability of south Asia in disarray.  Indian Cold Start Doctrine and technological advancement in the conventional and nuclear field will bring qualitative and quantitative transformation in the Indian Military and impinge upon Pakistan’s national security interests. So keeping in view the strategic realities of South Asia it is advisable for Pakistan to take concrete measures to safeguard the National Security interests of Pakistan. Moreover it is imperative for the international community including US-EU-OIC-and SCO members to come forward and resolve the outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, only then we can establish long term peace and stability in the region.  Note: Excerpts are taken from the research paper Masood Ur Rehman Khattak, “Indian Military’s Cold Start Doctrine: Capabilities, Limitations and Possible Response from Pakistan” SASSI Research Paper 42, September 2010.

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