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Friday, 20 May 2011

From Today's Papers - 20 May 2011







'Somebody' in Pakistan knew about Osama's presence: Gates
Washington:  US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said  that "somebody" in Pakistan knew about slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's hideout in that country but there is no "evidence" that the top leadership was aware of it.  Gates would not say who knew about the presence of bin Laden in Abbottabad deep inside Pakistan but suggested it could have been retired or low-level Pakistani officials.  At a Pentagon news conference, Gates also said Pakistan already has paid dearly for its failure to know or acknowledge that bin Laden was hiding for more than five years in a compound a short distance from a Pakistani military facility.  Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff echoed similar sentiments.
"I have seen no evidence at all that the senior leadership knew. In fact, I have seen some evidence to the contrary. But we have no evidence yet with respect to anybody else. My supposition is: Somebody knew," Gates said at a Pentagon news conference.  "The supposition is somebody. We don't know whether it was, you know, a retired person, whether it was a low-level official. We have pure supposition on our part. It is hard to go to them with an accusation when we have no proof that anybody knew.  "So I just want to underscore, it's my supposition. I think it's a supposition shared by a number in this government that somebody had had to know, but we have no idea who, and we have no proof or no evidence," Gates asserted in response to a question.  At the same news conference, Mullen endorsed Gates' assessment and said, "I have seen no evidence that the top leadership knows."  "With the evaluation of the sensitive site material and exploitation that's going on, it's just going to take us a while to see if there's anything else," Mullen said.  Gates also said the US has humiliated Pakistan by carrying out with impunity its covert operation in Abbottabad that killed the 9/11 mastermind.  "If I were in Pakistani shoes, I would say I've already paid a price (for terrorist safe havens). I've been humiliated. I've been shown that the Americans can come in here and do this with impunity. I think we have to recognize that they see a cost in that and a price that has been paid," he said.  Mullen also said that one should not underestimate the humiliating experience of Pakistan after the bin Laden operation.  "I don't think we should underestimate the humbling experience that this is. In fact, the internal soul-searching that's going on inside the Pak military right now and the impact of that, before you even start to talk about external effects," Mullen said.  Mullen has been in constant contact with the Pakistani leadership in particular its Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. In the past two years, he has travelled to Pakistan at least two dozen times.  "It's internal, and I just know for a fact that is going on, and they're not through that, because they've been through a lot tied to this, and their image has been tarnished. And they care, as we all do, and they care a lot about that. They're a very proud military," he said.  Mullen said the US needs to give Pakistan some time and space to work on some of the internal challenges that came out of this, while at the same time the things that there are some near-term things that we think actions need to be taken.







Sukna case: Lt-Gen Avadhesh Prakash to face court martial
NEW DELHI: The seniormost of four indicted generals in the infamous Sukna land scam case, Lt-Gen Avadhesh Prakash, who was previous Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor's close aide before he retired in January 2010, will now face a court-martial.  Sources on Thursday said Lt-Gen Prakash, who retired as the Army's military secretary, will be tried by the court-martial at the Leimakhong military station in Manipur from next month.  The director-general of perspective planning, Lt-Gen Philip Campose, at the Army HQ will head the court-martial, with six major-generals being part of the bench.  This comes six months after another general indicted in the case, Lt-Gen P K Rath, was found guilty by a court-martial in Shillong. He was punished with two years' loss of seniority, 15 years' loss of service for pension and a severe reprimand.  Lt-Gens Prakash and Rath were charged with conspiring to aid the transfer of the 71-acre Chumta tea estate adjacent to Sukna military station in Darjeeling district to real estate developer Dilip Agarwal on the pretext of opening an educational institute affiliated to the Ajmer-based Mayo College, in complete disregard of all security and other norms.  With the conspiracy being detected before it could be executed, it was found that Agarwal was Lt-Gen Prakash's close family friend and the military secretary "influenced'' Lt-Gen Rath to favour the realtor's "vested agenda''.  The other two generals named in the Sukna case, Lt-Gen Ramesh Halgali and Major-Gen P C Sen, and four other officers named in the case faced only administrative action for failing to do proper "staff work'' in the chain of command. While Maj-Gen Sen retired last year, Lt-Gen Halgali has since been rehabilitated and is currently the director-general of military training at Army HQ.  The case had led to an unseemly rift in the top Army brass. Present Army chief Gen V K Singh, who was the then Eastern Army commander, had locked horns with Gen Kapoor, who was perceived to be dragging his feet in the case.  Defence minister A K Antony, in fact, had to himself step in to overrule Gen Kapoor's decision to only take "administrative action'' against Lt-Gen Prakash, rather than the harsher "disciplinary action'' in the shape of a court martial.  Depending on the gravity of the charges, a court martial can impose sentences ranging from loss of seniority to even imprisonment and being "cashiered'' from service, which entails loss of rank, decorations and all retirement benefits.  Lt-Gen Rath's trial was the first time a serving three-star general has been court-martialled in Indian armed sforces' history. While a few other Lt-Gen rank officers have been indicted in ration and other scams, none of the courts-martial could actually commence before they retired.









Friends, not enemies
nator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recently stated that the US is “not trying to find a way to break the [US-Pakistan] relationship apart, we’re trying to find a way to build it.” It is striking that after being allies for 66 years, ties between the US and Pakistan are not strong enough to tide over frictions.  The desire for close ties with the US date back to Pakistan’s very creation. In an interview in 1947, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah stated that he was certain of American aid for Pakistan’s growth and development because “America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America”. Jinnah believed that Pakistan’s geo-strategic location would result in American aid for Pakistan.  Desirous of allies during the Cold War, the US too welcomed ties with Pakistan, especially since India under Nehru was non-aligned. According to a 1954 Department of State bulletin: “Pakistan has concrete assets to offer to the free world. She has a fine army which provided a large share of distinguished regiments to the Indian army before partition. She has ample manpower to expand that army. Her military traditions and ability are proved. She occupies an important location covering the invasion routes into the Indian sub-continent and also one which would enable her, under conditions of strength, to support the defence of the Near East proper.” For American policymakers too, Pakistan’s significance lay in its location and its tactical importance for the Cold War.  The two countries signed a Mutual Defence Agreement in 1954 and Pakistan entered into a number of US-led military alliances. Pakistan was part of the ‘Northern tier of containment’ during the 1950s and ‘60s, a key ally in the anti-Soviet Afghan jihad during the 1980s and a frontline ally in the war against terrorism after 9/11.  However, as I explain in my book [Explaining Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: Escaping India], the US-Pakistan relationship has been one of differing expectations and that is why often both sides often feel let down.  Pakistan’s leaders and strategists have always perceived an existential threat from India and not from either communism or terrorism. For Pakistan, the United States was the ally who would provide aid which would help Pakistan gain parity with India, and ensure its safety and integrity against any Indian attack.  For the US, however, Pakistan was just one part of its larger containment strategy. The US, though not allied with India, never saw India as the enemy. Over the years this led to the ‘see-saw’ like relationship between the two countries. The relationship has been more tactical than strategic in nature ie there is very little in common between the two countries except that at certain times they need each other against a third antagonist.  Also, while dependent on American aid and assistance, Pakistan’s policy makers have always used the ‘India factor’ to justify their relationship with the US for their domestic audience. Pakistanis have rarely ever been told the true nature of the relationship or of how dependent Pakistan is – economically and militarily - on the United States. Instead of helping to reduce the anti-American fervour in Pakistan, its leaders have often preferred to use this anti-Americanism to play domestic politics.  What this also means is that despite ostensibly siding with United States against communism and terrorism, Pakistan’s leaders have always seen India as a greater threat than either communism or terrorism. That is the main reason why Pakistan has been reluctant to take action against all militant groups working on its territory and has instead preferred to pick and choose and only act against those groups who directly attack the government.  While violation of Pakistani sovereignty and anger at regular drone attacks are the explicit reason for the current Pakistan-US tensions, the real reasons lie underneath. Senator Kerry spelt them out when he said that US would “want a Pakistan that is prepared to respect the interests of Afghanistan, and to be a real ally in our efforts to combat terrorism.”  Pakistan’s security establishment has always sought a pro-Pakistan, anti-India, Afghan government. Support for the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and other individuals like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar stems from the belief that these groups – or ‘proxies’ – would help Pakistan achieve this objective. However, this desire of Pakistan clashes with both Afghan as well as American goals. Similarly, while Pakistan’s security establishment is willing to take on any militants who attack within Pakistan – aka the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan – they are reluctant to act against either the Afghan-focused groups or the India-focused groups (like Lashkar-e-Taiba and others). India is still perceived as a greater threat to Pakistan’s stability than these terrorist networks.  By calling his memoirs, ‘Friends Not Masters’, Pakistan’s military ruler Gen Ayub Khan was sending a message to Pakistan and to the US. To the domestic audience Ayub wanted to demonstrate that under him – ie the Pakistani military – Pakistan was capable of standing up to even the Americans. And to the Americans, Ayub was stating that while Pakistan wanted to be friends with the US, it would not come at any cost. Four decades later, Pakistan’s security establishment seems to be sending the same message to Pakistanis and American policy makers.  The difference today, however, is that many Americans are asking a similar question: Is Pakistan a friend or an enemy? A cross-section of the American populace and policy makers are seriously considering whether or not to cut American aid to Pakistan. This would be disastrous for Pakistan’s economy and for its fledgling democracy. According to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, it was inconceivable that Osama bin Laden could have lived in Pakistan for so many years “without some form of complicity”. Resonating the frustration expressed by other American policy makers and lay public, Senator Feinstein further said, “we [the US] provide funds, we try to help the government [of Pakistan] wherever we can and get little in return.” Senator Carl Levin, chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a similar message when he said: “I think it’s important that we have a good relationship with Pakistan, but not at any price.”  Senator John Kerry’s mission to Pakistan over the weekend demonstrated the critical juncture at which this relationship currently stands. In some of the harshest words he has ever used Senator Kerry stated that US-Pakistan ties stand at the point of “make or break” and that “actions and not words” would dictate, “what road will be taken.” At the same time, Kerry reiterated that the US and Pakistan are “strategic partners with a common enemy in terrorism. Both of our countries have sacrificed too many of our citizens and troops to consider abandoning this relationship. Far too much is at stake”. Soon after meetings between Senator Kerry and high-ranking civilian and military officials the Pakistani government issued a statement which said that “Pakistan-US relations should go forward on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual interest.” What this meant was that while Pakistan was willing to rebuild ties with the US, a win-win outcome would have to be found for the Pakistani administration to be able to sell it to its public.  In the days and weeks ahead, there will be more high-level visits to Pakistan while senior officials and interlocutors in both administrations try to find a middle ground to help reset the relationship. After being allies for over six decades and at a time when American assistance is critical to Pakistan’s civilian democratic future, it would be disastrous for the region – and Pakistan - if this relationship collapsed.










After Mumbai attacks, U.S. initiated steps to help Pakistan military address ‘conventional disadvantage' against India
NEW DELHI: Less than a year after the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the United States Mission in Islamabad urged Washington to commit $2 billion over a five-year period beginning April 2011 to enable the Pakistan military to address, among other security needs, its “growing conventional disadvantage vis-à-vis India,” in order to secure its cooperation in the “war on terror.”  The U.S. Government accepted the recommendation. A report in the Washington Post on October 22, 2010 said: “The Obama administration will ask Congress to expand military aid to Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday, announcing a five-year, $2 billion package that would increase current financing for weapons purchases by about one-third.”  After the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory by U.S. forces, several American politicians have questioned their country's lavish funding of the Pakistani military.  Even two years ago, the U.S. had expressed doubts about Pakistan's commitment to the war on terror, but believed giving the Pakistan military more money would cement the gaps in the relationship.  A cable dated October 14, 2009 (229597: confidential), accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks, details the U.S. Embassy's recommendation for a substantive increase in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to assist Pakistan address its security requirements.  “The Pakistanis utilize FMF to address the country's broad security needs, which entails their dividing the funds among their services — Army, Navy, and Air Force — and developing conventional as well as counterinsurgency capabilities. This includes their addressing their growing conventional disadvantage vis-a-vis India,” the cable noted. It was sent under the name of U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson.  The U.S. Mission also recommended that the quantum of the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund (PCCF) be raised to $1.2 billion for the financial year 2011.  The U.S.' two principal military assistance funding streams for Pakistan — FMF and PCCF — serve different purposes. FMF is designed to build trust with Pakistan's military and foster long-term U.S.-Pakistan military-to-military ties.  The Mission said that while the U.S. works with the Pakistan military to develop FMF spend plans, the Pakistani side drives the specific FMF procurement requests.  “In contrast to FMF, PCCF is a temporary authorization necessary to address Pakistan's immediate counterinsurgency and counter terrorism requirements. The uses of PCCF are largely directed by the US side.”  The cable argued that FMF is, and must, remain the foundation of the bilateral security relationship. “To build a long-term relationship with Pakistan and increase the country's political will and military capability to fight insurgent and terrorist groups, post recommends (1) Obtaining ‘cash-flow' financing authority for Pakistan's FMF; (2) announcing a Presidential commitment to Pakistan of $400 million in FMF per year for FY2011 through FY2015; and (3) Cash-flow financing will allow Pakistan to contract for defence articles and services without having the full amount of FMF available upfront.”  The Mission maintained that a multi-year FMF commitment, combined with cash flow financing, would enable Pakistan to engage in a more strategic approach to defence procurement and increase Pakistan's trust in the U.S. as a reliable, long-term security partner.  “While PCCF fulfils a critical function, it is not aimed at building a long-term relationship with Pakistan or countering Pakistani fears that we will disengage from them when we ultimately pull back from Afghanistan (as we did after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan).”  The cable said the two initiatives would provide a powerful signal to the Pakistan military of the U.S. commitment to a true, long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan.  Elaborating on the request for a five-year FMF commitment, the cable said the Pakistan Army intended to purchase new transport and attack helicopters and modernise its tactical communication system.  The Navy planned to request via EDA and refurbish via FMF up to four Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates and outfit them with helicopters. The Air Force would use FMF to implement the security procedures required for the delivery of new and MLU-ed F-16s.  The cable said the specific counterinsurgency capabilities the PCCF was developing included C4/ISR, air mobile capability, close air support, military intelligence, humanitarian assistance delivery, night operations, counter-IED capability, smuggling interdiction, forward critical medical care, and combat logistics sustainment.  It said the Defence Department originally envisioned PCCF as a five-year programme. However, PCCF may be needed to enhance Pakistan's military capabilities as long as U.S. troops are engaged in combat operations across the border in Afghanistan.  The Mission said the first two years of PCCF required the execution of $1.1 billion over 14 months, and the need for future PCCF was $1.2 billion for FY2011, and $900 million for both FY2012 and FY2013 — a total of $2 billion over that three-year period.  The cable explained that the FY2011 request was $500 million above the FY2010 request as a result of the increased counterinsurgency engagement with the Pakistan Army, which will be the recipient of the bulk of FY2011 PCCF funds.  “This increased engagement has led to increased Army requirements for communications and ISR, as well as anticipated ‘train and equip' requirements for unit rotations as the Army moves brigades and battalions into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). We will also take advantage of Air Force involvement in ongoing operations for improvements in Air Force ISR assets, command and control, and integration with the delivery of close air support.”  In addition to the proposed military aid, Washington is committed to provide $1.5 billion a year (beginning with 2010) for a period of five years.  A cable dated December 2, 2009 (237503: unclassified) from the State Department on the Af-Pak strategy of the Obama administration said:  “We are now focused on working with Pakistan's democratic institutions, deepening the ties among our governments and people for our common interests and concerns. We are committed to a strategic relationship with Pakistan for the long term.  “We have affirmed this commitment to Pakistan by providing $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to support Pakistan's development and democracy, and have led a global effort to rally additional pledges of support.”









Army chief’s age: Ball back in defence ministry’s court
May 20 (IANS) The confusion regarding the correct age of Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh just got confounded with the country’s senior-most legal advisor Thursday recommending that any change in the date of birth at this stage should be ‘legally sustainable’, officials said here.  With this legal view from Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati, the ball is now in the defence ministry’s court on deciding the age of the present army chief, which could send the plan of succession to the 1.13-million strong army into a tizzy.  The defence ministry had sought the attorney general’s views on the date of birth of the army chief, as there were two different sets of records with the army headquarters with different dates of birth mentioned.  The issue came up earlier this year after a set of Right to Information (RTI) application sought details of his date of birth and the army referred the requests to the defence ministry.  The confusion over Gen. V.K. Singh’s age had cropped up in 2008 after the army’s military secretary branch records of his Union Public Service Commission applications showed his date of birth as May 10, 1950, while the adjutant general’s branch had May 10, 1951 on its records.  Military secretary handles appointments and promotions and adjutant general pay and pension.  If 1950 is maintained as Gen. Singh’s year of birth, then present Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh would in all likelihood be the next chief. If 1951 is sustained, then Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik would be the next in line to take over from Gen. Singh.  On the basis of the RTI applications, the defence ministry had first asked the law ministry to give its opinion on this age confusion and it had in its reply, recommended that the school leaving certificate of the army chief would have to be taken as a legal document to certify the date of birth.  The school leaving certificate, however, shows 1951 as the year of Gen. Singh’s birth.  However, his appointment as the chief of the army staff was issued on the basis of the military secretary branch’s documents, which mention 1950 as the year of his birth.  With the attorney general now asking the defence ministry to decide on the age on the basis of facts that are sustainable in a court of law, it would now be Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s call.










What Israel can do, India can’t
While the Army chief boasts about India’s ‘ability’ to carry out a raid similar to Operation Geronimo, Mossad goes ahead and does it quietly.  Union Minister for Home Affairs P Chidambaram might not have dismissed the blunder over one of the names in his list of 50 most-wanted fugitives had he been aware of the falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus — wrong in one, wrong in all — legal principle. That apart, the confusion over Wazhul Kamar Khan is sound reason why India would be most foolish to attempt to copy Operation Geronimo. Given our slack intelligence and slapdash methods, the commandoes would go in and eliminate the wrong man and then there would be another disgraceful attempt to pass the buck, as the Home Minister did with his casual comments in Agartala.  All this plays into Pakistani hands. It can be argued that journalists and TV anchors are natural blabbermouths. Politicians must also boast and brag for a living. But new depths of irresponsibility are plumbed when garrulous defence chiefs — I am thinking of the ill-advised dare by General VK Singh, the Army chief — have to be reminded of Talleyrand’s advice that speech is given to man to conceal his thoughts. Talleyrand, incidentally, was an astute French diplomat who served the Bourbons and Napoleon with equal dexterity.  It’s a lesson Israelis don’t have to be taught. They do while others talk. Though their commando raids all over the world were invoked during the recent demands to swoop into Pakistan to eliminate terrorists like the US eliminated Osama bin Laden, there’s never a whisper in advance. The operations are planned and executed in absolute secrecy by Mossad, Israel’s crack agency for intelligence gathering and covert operations which helped to train India’s Research and Analysis Wing more than 40 years ago.  Israel’s conviction that Governments are morally obliged to protect citizens is not disputed. Though the obligation is best fulfilled through economic security (as Israel also handsomely demonstrates), terror threats can’t be overlooked. As some WikiLeaks revelations by Guantanamo Bay inmates confirm, providing sanctuary and encouragement to terrorists is Pakistan’s way of waging low-level war against India with little risk to itself.  Facing a similar threat, Mr George W Bush invaded Afghanistan, dislodged the Taliban and installed President Hamid Karzai. That was not enough. The real criminals — Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to whom Taliban had given asylum and a launching pad — also had to be destroyed. It was in this context that Air Marshal PV Naik was reported to have first claimed that India has the same surgical strike capability as the US.  Gen Singh went further by appearing to hold the Prime Minister and Cabinet responsible for the defence forces not emulating the US. Stressing India’s competence like his Air Force colleague, the Army chief pointed out that the defence forces “need permission from the top for this”. Operation Geronimo took place “only after directions from US President Barack Obama”.  As for his own view, “We can also think of such attacks to eliminate terrorists from this part of the world.” Not surprisingly, the Pakistanis retorted with a dusty answer, which Indians then complained was provocative!  Citing Israel is no way out of this dangerous war of words. No one knew of one of Israel’s most dramatic operations — the 1960 kidnapping of the former Nazi official, Adolf Eichman, in Argentina — until he was flown to Israel where he was hanged after a civil court found him guilty of various crimes. Other Mossad operations like Operation Thunderbolt involving a 2,500-mile flight by 100 elite commandos to Entebbe airport in Uganda in 1976 to rescue 103 Jews held by Palestinian militants who had hijacked their plane — were equally secretive. All the hijackers, three hostages, 45 Ugandan soldiers and the rescue team’s commander, Lt Col Yonatan Netanyahu, the present Prime Minister’s brother, were killed in the 90-minute nocturnal operation.  One such, Operation Bulmus 6, to wipe out an Egyptian early warning radar and Electronic Interception and Analysis of Electronic Intelligence station, as well as about 80 Egyptian soldiers, on Green Island in the Gulf of Suez, wasn’t even known until 25 years had passed. Experts believe Israeli artillery or aircraft could have done the job more easily with less risk to Israeli life, but a commando raid sent a clear warning regarding Israeli capability and had a negative effect on Egyptian military morale.  As Kargil proved, Indian soldiers don’t lack the courage and fortitude for dangerous missions. But Israeli operations also depend on superb intelligence and disciplined and courageous politicians who don’t shirk taking the blame. Even if we had comparable information networks and competent political leaders, we would have to think of reprisals unless India also first re-enacts Operation Babylon, Israel’s surprise 1981 air strike to destroy Iraq’s nuclear reactor. While two can play at that game, Operation Eagle Claw, the bungled American attempt to rescue 53 US Embassy personnel held hostage in Tehran, is a reminder that not all covert operations succeed.  Islamic terrorists are like the dragon’s teeth in Greek mythology. When one bunch is destroyed another crops up. Some argue they will continue to do so until the Kashmir dispute is resolved. It’s more likely that Pakistan will foster terrorists even after that to compensate for the complexes that account for its animus towards India. The animus may be instinctive but the ability to express it owes much to US (later Chinese) efforts over the years to create a sense of parity in the sub-continent. Transplanting the equation to North America, it’s like inciting Mexico to see itself as equal to the US.  Northern Ireland, crippled for decades by the world’s longest running guerrilla campaign, provides a closer parallel. The religious divide was as acrimonious, and the British and Irish Governments were both complicit in the struggle. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 brought peace because London and Dublin were prepared to make concessions — constitutional, administrative and on the ground — and Mr Bill Clinton proved a wise mediator.  The US can help here too by forcing Pakistan to accept geopolitical reality. It’s in the American interest to do so because India is an attractive market that also creates jobs for Americans. France is also especially cooperative because India’s Rs 50,000-crore defence budget holds out hope for the Rafale and other fighters. Economic muscle remains a more effective long-term protection than military adventures that politicians might sanction but will deny the moment anything goes wrong.








Army to shore up aviation armoury with more helicopters
NEW DELHI With the rapid evolution of battlefield concepts, the Indian Army is preparing to shore up its aviation wing with attack and tactical-lift capabilities to increase the punch of its three potent strike corps, a concept fine-tuned during a just-concluded war game in the Rajasthan desert close to the Pakistan border, defence analysts say.  With the strike corps tasked to slice through the enemy’s defences, the helicopters will supplement this by the quick insertion of fully-armed soldiers and their heavy weaponry, as also provide close air support to the troops and the armoured elements, a senior officer of the army’s Ambala-based 2 Kharga Corps said.  It was this transformational doctrine that was validated during the month-long exercise ‘Vijayee Bhava’ (be victorious), even though the army does not operate ains for rapid mobilisation and resolute application. Mechanised (battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers) manoeuvres are the essence of offensive operations. In the future battlefield, air assets will play a decisive role. With the exponential increase in the air assets with the army and the air force, these will be employed in an integrated manner to gain a decisive edge in combat. This is the first time we have used the combat air assets in such an exercise,” the officer said.  As per the army’s plans for its aviation wing, mooted in 2007 and to be implemented over a 15-year period ending 2022, the three strike corps would be beefed up with an aviation brigade comprising two squadrons of 12 attack helicopters each, apart from two squadrons with 15 choppers each for tactical battle reconnaissance and casualty evacuation, top army sources said.  Apart from the 1, 2 and 21 strike Corps, the army will also provide aviation brigades to each of its 10 pivot or defensive corps, but these would essentially be in the nature of tactical lift capabilities, with some offensive elements.  At present, the army relies on two squadrons of Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters and Mi-17 medium-lift choppers of the IAF for testing its transformational concepts.  Defence ministry officials, when asked about the army’s aviation plans, said the IAF would continue to play a “strategic” role while the army would acquire its air assets for a “tactical” role.  The army is already looking at procuring 114 of the indigenously-developed light combat helicopter (LCH), which took to the skies for the first time in March 2010, and 64 of which IAF is buying.  This apart, the army is in the process of acquiring 133 light utility helicopters for $1.9 billion, along with the IAF’s 64 for $960 million, as part of a 197-chopper deal for which Eurocopter’s AS550-C3 Fennec and Russia’s Kamov Ka-226 are in the race.  These would replace the 150 Cheetah and Chetak helicopters of 1970s vintage in the army aviation fleet which are extensively used for transportation in high-altitude areas, including the Siachen Glacier.











A rivalry that threatens the world
Pakistan’s dangerous fondness for jihadis, the Taliban and nuclear weapons is rooted in its fears of India
OUTSIDERS, especially Indians, have expressed dismay ever since Osama bin Laden was killed this month in Abbottabad, a prim military town in Pakistan. Here is a state that both fights, and protects, Islamic fanatics. Even when Pakistanis themselves are the main victims of attack by jihadis, the state fails to act.  On May 13th suicide-bombers sent by an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, the Pakistani Taliban, killed 80, mostly young army cadets, in Shabqadar, a town in the north-west. That attack was claimed as retaliation for bin Laden’s death, but such strikes have grown dismally common. As America’s ambassador in Islamabad, Cameron Munter, puts it, “If you grow vipers in your backyard, you’re going to get bitten.”  At moments Pakistan sounds ready to co-operate with America against extremists. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whizzed through Kabul and Islamabad this week and claimed, after four hours of talks with General Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief, that the troubled bilateral relationship was again “on track”. Pakistan will hand over the remains of the stealth helicopter blown up in the Abbottabad raid. And America’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, will visit in the coming weeks.
More important, America’s spies, after a year of lurking by madrassas and in dark corners of towns without telling their Pakistani counterparts what they were up to, will start working again with the Pakistani military spy outfit, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI). Any more strikes against “high-value targets”, which presumably means Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, or Mullah Omar, boss of the Afghan Taliban, will officially be joint efforts. Almost immediately, on May 17th, Pakistan announced results: the army arrested a Yemeni in Karachi, said to be a senior al-Qaeda operative.  Many Pakistanis, however, cannot see things as Americans do. On Abbottabad, for example, they care little that bin Laden was there, and much more about the ease with which American forces swooped in. A poll a week after the raid of 2,500 people found that only 26% believed bin Laden had been killed. Around half, 49%, reckoned the event had been faked, and nearly as many thought bin Laden, if dead, was anyway a martyr. Around 68% were most bothered that an outsider had violated Pakistan’s sovereignty.  The Abbottabad affair was especially galling because the town sits close to the border with the Indian-run bit of Kashmir, supposedly a well-guarded frontier. Ordinary Pakistanis are conditioned to fret that India has still not come to terms with the existence of their country, and may one day simply come strolling in. It is no surprise that a resident in a house across from bin Laden’s, describing the raid, said: “We first thought the Indians were invading.”  At a joint session of the Pakistani parliament on May 13th, attended by army chiefs, the real concern was India. India’s army chief, foolishly, had boasted just after the bin Laden raid that his special forces had the means to do something similar. Pakistan’s spy chief, Ahmad Shuja Pasha, told MPs that the Pakistani army had not only picked targets in India for retaliation but had also rehearsed striking them.  The usefulness of jihad  Amid all the threats, MPs did not bother to ask questions about bin Laden. That may have been pride, or it may have reflected Pakistanis’ sense that jihadis are less snakes in the yard than a practical, if unconventional, means for a weak country to project power against a much bigger one.
India’s population and its economy are now both eight times bigger than Pakistan’s, and growing fast (see table). Whereas Pakistan relies on aid and begs foreigners to equip its army, India, by contrast, races on, is now an aid-giver and has America eager to be its friend. As a longstanding, stable democracy, it has moral power. It sits on the United Nations Security Council, shares intelligence closely with America and plans to spend tens of billions of dollars a year on defence.  Pakistan’s relative insecurities have been intensified over the years by natural disasters, such as huge floods in 2010, and self-inflicted wounds such as frequent military coups. But they are all the more deeply felt because they are not new. The country was born from partition with India in 1947, a bloodbath that killed hundreds of thousands (both Muslims and Hindus) and displaced many millions. That, and Islam, helped forge a sense of nationhood. But the wounds of partition also caused Pakistanis to fear for their existence.
For a weak country, using proxy armies and jihadis has often seemed a good idea. Just after partition, late in 1947, fierce Pushtun tribesmen poured into Kashmir to seize territory for Pakistan from India. Where they reached is still, more or less, the territory’s line of control (see map). Later, with American help, the then ruler of Pakistan, General Zia al Haq, sent jihadis to take on the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan. His eventual successor as dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, recently admitted what everyone knew, that militants had then been sent to stir trouble in Indian-run Kashmir.  Deploying jihadis is cheap, easy and somewhat deniable if things go wrong. It occupies men who might otherwise make mischief at home, and may also help foster a sense of national unity in Pakistan, as jihadis fight in the name of Islam. But as Ijaz Gilani, a Gallup pollster in Islamabad, points out, national feeling is also fuelled by hostility to India. Many Pakistanis are quick to explain away, or even actively support, jihadis who strike even at soft, civilian, targets in India, such as the attack in Mumbai in 2008 when 170 people died.  A trial that started on May 16th in America may test this idea. Prosecutors in Chicago accuse a businessman of Pakistani descent, Tahawwur Hussain Raina, of helping the Mumbai attackers, among whose victims were six Americans. A government witness has already said that an ISI officer, a “Major Iqbal”, helped to fund and guide the Mumbai attackers.  If Pakistan’s unhealthy tolerance of jihadi groups is the result of an obsession with India, what of its disruptive behaviour in Afghanistan? It lets America drive three-quarters of its war supplies from Karachi, and goes along with immensely unpopular drone strikes against extremists in its own tribal areas. Yet it also diverts funds to its Pushtun brethren, the Afghan Taliban, and resists any ground attack on another group connected with al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network (active in Afghanistan, based in Pakistan), though it is said to be pressing them to join Afghan peace talks.  Seen from Kabul, Pakistan’s ISI is behind the growing activity of Afghan insurgents. Researchers there totted up 12,244 attacks in the country last year, a more than five-fold increase since 2006. “Those connected to the insurgency say to us that ISI activities have increased [especially] over the past 18 months,” reports a well-connected observer. The Pakistanis deny that they are actively helping the Taliban.  They also refuse to accept that they are duplicitous in their dealings with America. Yes, they say, they agreed to back America’s war: refusing would have made an enemy of a superpower. But that does not mean they are adopting America’s aspirations in Afghanistan. Pakistanis plainly see quite different national interests there—again, largely, because of India.  Where America broadly hopes to clamp down on Islamic extremists, impose some sort of order and find a way to get its soldiers home, Pakistan, by contrast, does not want to see a strong Afghan state—particularly one where ethnic groups such as Tajiks, traditionally friendly to India, tend to predominate in positions of power.  Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, drove home the point on a rare visit to Kabul on May 13th. In Afghanistan’s parliament he made much of India’s impressive $1.5 billion aid schemes, which have built roads, set up power lines and fostered ties between the two countries. He promised another $500m as he cheered the emerging “strategic” partnership.  A senior Indian government official says India has “no endgame” in Afghanistan; all it wants is a country that is “moderate” and “stable”. But even that makes insecure Pakistanis jumpy. Afghanistan has been hostile to Pakistan for much of its history: opposing, alone, Pakistan’s membership of the UN, refusing even now to recognise Pakistan’s external borders. Separatists in Pakistan, notably the Baluchis and perhaps even Pushtuns, might also grow more active if war ended next door. Pushtuns are a large minority in Pakistan and the biggest ethnic group in Afghanistan. The Afghan government has never recognised the “Durand line”, the Afghan-Pakistan border that the British drove through Pushtun tribal lands, and the idea of an independent “Pushtunistan” has never entirely vanished.  Pakistan fears encirclement by India and its ally. The Pakistanis have long accused India, via Iran and Afghanistan, of arming the Baluchi separatists. Suspicion runs deep. An ISI official in Islamabad spins a theory that Indian road-building in Afghanistan is really a cover for shipping enormous quantities of explosives there for use by terrorists inside Pakistan, including, supposedly, the 2008 bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad.  Pakistan therefore wants influence in Afghanistan for the sake of “strategic depth”. That variously means having control of territory to which its leaders, soldiers or even nuclear weapons could move in case of war with India, or simply having close Afghan allies across the border, who can help keep Indian meddling at bay. Either way, Pakistan wants Afghanistan weak, divided, or once more ruled (at least in part) by a pliant Pushtun proxy; though some generals say they are less keen on the Taliban, now they have seen what they are like.  Armed and dangerous  To Indians Pakistan’s existential fears are exaggerated, blown up by the army to scare the people. India has never been the aggressor, they point out. Even when India intervened to help split Pakistan in two, in 1971, it only did so late, after seeing mass flows of refugees and atrocities on a horrific scale by the army against civilians in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).  Instead, say Indians, Pakistanis’ own paranoia is the root of their instability. M.J. Akbar, an eloquent Indian journalist and author of a new book on Pakistan, sums up the place as dangerous and fragile, a “toxic jelly state”. He blames the army, mostly, for ever more desperate decisions to preserve its dominance. “Pakistan is slipping into a set of contradictions that increasingly make rational behaviour hostage to the need for institutions to survive,” he says.  Others, including liberal Pakistanis, add that Pakistan cannot shake itself from military men obsessed with India. “We have become delusional, psychotic, fearing how to protect ourselves from the rest of the world,” says one. India’s most senior security officials say that Pakistan is still, in essence, a state run by its army. That army, the world’s seventh-largest, bleeds the state of about a sixth of all public funds with almost no civilian oversight.  All that is grim enough. Then consider how Pakistan is rapidly expanding its arsenal of nuclear weapons. That programme was born out of the country’s humiliating loss of East Pakistan in 1971. Six years earlier, around the time of a previous defeat by India, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then Pakistan’s foreign minister, had declared: “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves for a thousand years, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”  Pakistan may now have between 70 and 120 usable nuclear devices—and may be unusually ready to use them. Some in the West believe Pakistan started preparing nuclear-tipped missiles in the midst of the 1999 Kargil war against India, after Pakistan invaded a remote corner of Kashmir.  Nobody doubts that Pakistan, in the midst of its anxiety over India, is trying hard to get more. Its nuclear warheads use an implosion design with a solid core of about 15-20 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. The country produces about 100 kilograms of that a year, but is rapidly expanding its nuclear infrastructure with Chinese help. And with production long-established, the price of adding weapons has fallen to almost nothing. A nuclear physicist in Pakistan, Pervez Hoodbhoy, now suggests that “you can have a working nuke for about $10m, or the cost of a nice big house in Islamabad.”  The new push seems, as ever, to be a response to two developments next door. Pakistan was badly spooked by India’s deal on civil nuclear power with America, completed in 2008. This not only binds America and India closely; it also lets India buy uranium on international markets, and probably means it will soon build many more reactors. By one panicky Pakistani estimate, India could eventually be making 280 nuclear weapons a year.  The other change is over doctrine and delivery. India has long held a position of “no first use” of nukes. Pakistan, by contrast, with weaker conventional forces, refuses to rule out the option of starting a nuclear war against India, and is now taking steps that could make such first use more likely. Last month it test-fired a new missile, the Hatf IX, with a range of just 60km and specifically designed for war-fighting. Two missiles are carried in tubes on a transporter and can be fired, accurately, at short notice. The warheads are small, low-yielding devices for destroying large tank formations with relatively little explosive damage or radiation beyond the battlefield.  Pakistan’s generals say their new tactical weapons will meet a threat from India’s Cold Start doctrine, adopted in 2004, that calls for rapid, punitive, though conventional thrusts against Pakistan. But by rolling out tactical nuclear weapons, Pakistan is stirring fears of instability. Previous efforts to reassure observers that terrorists or rogue army officers could not get hold of nukes rested on the fact that warheads and delivery systems were stored separately and were difficult to fire—and that final authority to launch a strike requires “consensus” within the National Command Authority, which includes various ministers and the heads of all three services, and is chaired by the prime minister.  But tactical nuclear weapons deployed close to the battlefield pose new risks. Command-and-control protocols are likely to be looser and more delegated. If field officers retreating in the face of a conventional attack by India were forced to decide between using or losing their nuclear weapons, a border incursion could swiftly escalate into something very much bigger and more lethal. Mist over Kashmir  Talking, not shooting  Trouble on the border is not a theoretical problem; it is commonplace. Exchanges of fire between Pakistanis and Indians over the border in Kashmir killed an Indian soldier this weekend. This time it did not escalate, in part because the two countries are in the midst of diplomatic efforts. But India’s prime minister, Mr Singh, ordered a review by his security chiefs.  Some in India have been trying to ease tensions with Pakistan. Mr Singh, born before partition in territory that is now Pakistan, is personally eager to do so (though others in his government, and hawkish opposition parties, disagree). He tried “cricket diplomacy” this year, inviting his counterpart, Yusuf Raza Gilani, to watch India play Pakistan in the cricket World Cup. He is the driving force on bilateral talks on trade, water and counter-terrorism, which should culminate in the next few months in a meeting of foreign ministers.  Encouragingly, on Pakistan’s side, civilians also seem open to talks. It helps, too, that Kashmir has fallen quiet in recent months, though that may be merely seasonal. Nawaz Sharif, the main opposition leader, who as prime minister in 1999 came close to striking a peace deal with India, dared to suggest on May 16th that Pakistan would make progress only when it stopped treating India as its “biggest enemy”. As controversially, he called for a cut in public funds for the army.
Yet suspicion lingers. General Kayani told a diplomat in Islamabad recently that he backs peace efforts with India, but he has done little about it. And the army has an interest in maintaining at least the illusion of an Indian threat to protect its bloated budget and special privileges.  In private, too, many remain gloomy. Talks, let alone a deal, may simply spur the terrorists to another atrocity. General Mahmud Ali Durrani, a former ambassador to America who supports peace talks, feels that the army’s insecurity is too big a problem. “I don’t think we are flying. The security elements are not so enamoured by the idea. They feel India never accepted Pakistan, and given half a chance [the Indians] would undo it.”  










Indian Army mobilisation time: 48 hours
Bringing down its mobilisation time drastically, the Indian Army can now move forces in just 48 hours, as against the almost-month-long time required by it earlier.  The swift mobilisation is a result of the just concluded strike corps exercise, ‘Vijayee Bhava’, in Rajasthan’s Thar desert.After terror attack on parliament in December 2001, the government had asked the army to mobilise, ‘Op Parakram’, and it took 27 days to do so. However, by that time international diplomatic pressure built up sufficiently to pre-empt any possibility of a military strike against Pakistan.  Since then, the army has been working hard to bring down its mobilisation time to the minimum possible.  Sources said better road management, better offloading, better rail links, equipment and man management, have reduced the mobilisation time. Every strike corps has been working at reducing its own mobilisation period.  Sources said timings may differ for armoured units and artillery units and also what matters is the place and terrain from where they move, like the Dehradun-based 14 Division is a hilly terrain and the Patiala-based 1 Division is farthest when compared to the deserts, where ‘Vijayee Bhava’ was carried out.  Movement is carried out in four phases which are command elements, reconnaissance, main body and balance.  Command elements comprising the formation commanders earlier used to take eight hours which was now been brought down to two hrs.  Reconnaissance comprising two officers, the second in command of the Brigade and the mobile operations, used to take 12 hours which has been brought down to six hours.  The main body of the formation comprises all the three units in the Brigade and their administration and logistics, which used to take 18 hours earlier, has now been brought down to 12 hours.  The remaining of the troops were given 30 hours, as opposed to their 36 hours.  The mission was successful, with all the units of the 60 Brigade meeting at the destined point in 45 hours, and another couple of hours for a final check. The distance covered was around 450 kilometers, and approximately 3500 personnel moved on road, on transportation that was either hired or were army trucks.  A Division has three Brigades in it, and for a complete Division to mobilise, another 10 hours could be added to this, said asource, but for a fighting unit formation, Vijayee Bhava has proved that the target of 48 hours can be achieved.  Support elements, like engineers, logistics, doctors, medical care, artillery, and other administrative items also move along, all of which take time to fall in place. ‘Vijayee Bhava’ also tested the advanced version of the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), with a glass cockpit.







Indian Army practises blitzkrieg to strike hard at enemy
In keeping with the "transformation" underway in the 1.13-million strong Army to make it leaner and meaner, the force is conducting a major exercise to practice blitzkrieg-style operations to hit the enemy hard at short-notice.  The exercise " Vijayee Bhava" (Be Victorious), being held in the Thar desert, basically revolves around the armour-intensive 2 Corps, considered to be the most crucial of the Army's three principal "strike" formations tasked with virtually cutting Pakistan into two during a full-fledged war, as was first reported by TOI last month.  "The manoeuvres are being conducted in north Rajasthan (in the Suratgarh region) to test the operational and transformational effectiveness of the Ambala-based Kharga Corps (2 Corps) as also validate new concepts which have emerged during the transformational studies undertaken by the Army," said an officer on Monday.  The Army, as reported earlier, has undertaken as many as 13 transformational studies, which range from consolidating strike capabilities to flattening different HQs, with the overall aim being to make the force "an agile, lethal, versatile and networked force" ready for the operational challenges of the 21st Century.  The most significant endeavour is to bring the three "strike" corps -- 1 Corps (Mathura), 2 Corps (Ambala) and 21 Corps (Bhopal), which are under separate regional commands -- under one umbrella strategic command.  "Working towards a capability-based approach, the Army has embarked on several transformational initiatives spanning concepts, organizational structures and absorption of new age technology, particularly in PGMs (precision-guided munitions), advanced surveillance systems, space and network-centricity," he said.  "These are being fielded and trial-evaluated by nominated test-bed formations and units participating in the exercise," added the officer.  This comes even as Army and IAF have stepped up coordination in the western theatre to build "an integrated and organic" air-land war-fighting machinery. In tune with this, a large number of IAF aircraft, including MiG-29s, MiG-21 'Bisons', Jaguars and Mi-25 attack helicopters, are also taking part in the "Vijayee Bhava" exercise. at 6:53 AM Email




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