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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

From Today's Papers - 01 Jun 2011

Merkel pushes for Eurofighter deal
India, Germany ink four agreements to expand ties Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 31 On a 24-hour visit to New Delhi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel today tried to hardsell the Eurofighter Typhoon jets to India as she discussed a whole range of issues with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, including the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden.  “With the Eurofighter, we have made good proposals and want to intensify our relationship with India. The Eurofighter is the best on offer. We will not exert any influence on the procurement procedures which are very transparent…we believe we have a good product and we shall wait and see,’’ she said at a joint press conference with the Indian PM after the signing of four accords between the two countries to expand cooperation in the fields of education, research and nuclear physics.  In the context of the situation in the Af-Pak region, the PM told Merkel that terrorism was a serious challenge which had to be fought on all fronts and not selectively.  The meeting between the two leaders also marked the launching of the first inter-governmental consultations between the countries on the entire gamut of bilateral relations - from security, defence policy, trade, vocational training, education and research to infrastructure and sustainable energy and environment technologies.  Chancellor Merkel also received the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International understanding for 2009. “I accept this award not only as an honour to the Chancellor, but especially as a tribute to the achievements of my fellow citizens in fulfilling the values of friendship and international understanding that the award recognises,” said Merkel. She also formally launched the ‘Year of Germany in India’ with Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.  However, it was quite clear that the main objective of the German leader’s visit was to nudge the Indian leadership to take an early decision on the combat aircraft deal. German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière, who was among the half-a-dozen ministers accompanying Chancellor Merkel, held separate talks with Defence Minister AK Antony. The $ 10.4 billion deal for 126 combat jets is also understood to have figured during their talks. Eurofighter Typhoon along with French Dassault Aviation’s Rafale aircraft is in the race for the contract.  India and Germany, meanwhile, called for reforms of the UN Security council to reflect the changing world realities and power equations and emphasised on nuclear energy cooperation. The leaders of the two countries agreed to boost trade between the two countries to 20 billion Euros by 2020 from the present volume of 15 billion Eruos.  The meeting between the two leaders came a day after Germany announced it would phase out all its 17 nuclear plants by 2022, Merkel agreed to help India in areas related to nuclear safety and pledged support for the development of renewable energy.  “Germany will champion nuclear safety standards and help India achieve a broad energy base,” said Merkel. She said her country, a leader in wind and solar energy, was also ready to help in the area of renewable energy.  Manmohan Singh stressed that India needed nuclear power to meet its growing energy demand and to adhere to its self-imposed obligations to combat climate change. “Nuclear energy accounts for only three per cent of total energy generated in our system. As of now our capacity is less than 5,000 MW. We want to raise it to 20,000 MW by 2020,” he said.  Chancellor Merkel was appreciative of the role being played by India in the reconstruction programme under way in Afghanistan. She said a military solution was not an option in Afghanistan. Ultimately, Afghanistan would have to develop its own independent security architecture.
US plans to seize nuke stockpile if terrorists take over Pak
Shyam Bhatia In London  Pakistan’s worst fears that the US has plans to seize its nuclear stockpile have been confirmed by US expert, Dr Jack Caravelli, a former adviser to at least two US Presidents.  This is the first time someone of Caravelli’s eminence has confirmed that secret plans are in place to take control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in case terrorists take control of that country. His revelation underlines the concerns expressed by former Pakistani diplomat Asif Ezdi, who said in the aftermath of the Osama raid in Abbottabad that “the nation’s confidence in the viability of our defences has been badly shaken”.  “Clearly, there is a need to carry out a comprehensive reassessment of these threats and to prepare ourselves for all eventualities,” he wrote in a Karachi newspaper.  Significantly, Ezdi continued. “The most troubling question is whether our nuclear deterrent is safe from a similar US assault.”  Caravelli’s disclosure seemingly contradicts visiting US Senator John Kerry’s reassuring “guarantee” only a week earlier that the US had no designs on Islamabad’s nuclear weapons.  “It would be irresponsible for the US government not to have some kind of plans, given what it knows and understands of the current nuclear situation of Pakistan,” Caravelli told BBC Radio 5 Live.  Washington tolerated Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions hatched during the height of the cold war because they were seen as balancing the military strength of what the Americans perceived as a pro-Soviet India.  It was after the May 1998 tests that the US and its NATO allies became aware that Pakistani nuclear information was being clandestinely sold to any number of so-called “rogue” governments at the time, including North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Libya. While none of these governments - even with nuclear weapons - had the capability of taking on the US, there were concerns that they could pass on their secretly acquired know-how to terrorists.  These concerns reached crisis point following Al-Qaida’s terrorist attacks on US targets in September 2001 when Osama bin Laden’s teams hijacked four commercial jets, crashing two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.  On their part, the US authorities are now no longer as tolerant as these once were of Pakistan’s nuclear activities. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Washington has made several unsuccessful attempts to gain access to Khan and several of his senior scientific colleagues to get a better understanding of what nuclear weapons technology has been exported and to whom.  Despite various obstructions, US experts have ploughed on with their efforts to get a better understanding of how to safeguard the Pakistani nuclear programme. After 2001 the Bush administration is estimated to have spent some US$ 100 million to help Pakistan secure its steadily growing nuclear armoury. Less well-known were the contingency plans developed by the Clinton and the Bush administrations to take over Pakistan’s nuclear sites in the event these came under threat from terrorists.  These plans have taken on a new urgency following reports that Pakistan has embarked on a plan to develop small tactical nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield against India, but which would also be ideal for terrorists to use against individual cities in the West and elsewhere. But according to Caravelli, who served under both Clinton and Bush, the contingency plans will come into operation if the “perfect storm” occurs and terrorists take control of Pakistan.  “For a number of years, the plans existed that in the most dire of circumstances the US would at least have the options to undertake operations to try and secure those weapons and materials, if necessary,” Caravelli said in his radio interview. A leading US nuclear expert on non-proliferation and terrorism, Caravelli is also a former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Energy and had served on the White House National Security Council where he was the President’s main adviser for non-proliferation policies affecting Russia and the Middle East.  His insights will chill the hearts of those Pakistanis who believe that the bottom line of US policies affecting Pakistan is to somehow gain control of the country’s nuclear weapons and infrastructure. In fact, many Pakistanis believe that recent terrorist attacks on some of their supposedly secure military centres were designed to highlight Islamabad’s inability to safeguard its vital nuclear facilities.
Indo-Pak chill on Siachen continues
ew Delhi, May 31 Much on the expected lines, India and Pakistan today failed to find a breakthrough on Siachen Glacier issue that is one of the several irritants dogging the relationship between the two countries.  Though both sides stuck to their well-known two-decade-old stated positions, a carefully worded and nuanced joint statement was issued here today. Islamabad played the ‘China card’ during the meeting suggesting that its closest military ally should be included in the talks to resolve the Siachen issue. “It was not acceptable,” said sources while confirming the Pakistan suggestion.  Pakistan’s contention was that the northern part of the 2,600 sq km Siachen glacier abuts the Shaksham valley which is under Chinese control. Hence, there was need to have Beijing on board. India cannot accept such a suggestion as the Shaksham valley, a 5,800 sq km mountainous area just north of the Karakoram pass, was part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan first illegally occupied parts of J&K in 1948 and then ceded the Shaksham valley to China in 1959.  The Indian Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and his counterpart Lt Gen (Retd) Syed Athar Ali ended the two-day talks with a joint statement saying “both sides welcomed the ongoing dialogue process. The discussions were held in a frank and cordial atmosphere”.  The statement went on to say, “It (the talks) contributed to an enhanced understanding of each other’s position on Siachen.” Both sides acknowledged that the ceasefire was holding since November 2003 and agreed to continue the discussions in a meaningful and result-oriented manner. They agreed to meet again at a mutually convenient date in Islamabad, the statement said. India presented its position that there were no ‘iron cast’ guarantees that Pakistan or China will not occupy these heights. There is no question of relinquishing control of the 21,000 feet high glacier that is occupied by Indian Army. All along the 110-km-long actual ground position line (AGPL) India hold commanding heights while Pakistan is at a disadvantage.  In April 1984, the Army and the IAF in a joint operation - ‘Megdhoot’ - gained control of the glacier. Since then Pakistan Army has made a few major attempts to evict the Indians.  Pakistan wants India should de-militarise the glacier and revert to the pre-1972 status. As per the 1949 Karachi agreement, the Cease Fire Line (now termed the LoC) was delineated up to a point in the Karakoram range called NJ 9842 (a grid reference on the map).  The agreement describes the CFL up to point NJ 9842 and mentions that thereafter lies northwards towards the glaciers. The 1972 Simla Agreement was silent on the delineation beyond NJ 9842. Pak claims that the line should join NJ 9842 with Karakoram Pass, meaning the entire glacier should fall in Pakistan. The Indian position is that the line runs towards the glacier along the watersheds formed by the Saltoro Range as per the internationally accepted principle of border.
India and Pakistan Fail to Resolve Glacier Dispute at Talks
NEW DELHI — The slow, uncertain efforts to normalize relations between India and Pakistan apparently made little progress on Tuesday, after defense secretaries from both countries failed to deliver a breakthrough on demilitarizing a Himalayan glacier considered the world’s highest battlefield.  The two-day meetings in New Delhi were part of wider-ranging discussions under way between India and Pakistan over issues including trade, water rights, terrorism and the fate of the disputed region of Kashmir. Analysts had expressed guarded optimism that some progress was possible on the glacier dispute, yet Tuesday’s talks ended with only a pledge for further talks in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, at some point.  “Both sides welcomed the ongoing dialogue process,” declared a statement issued jointly by the delegations. “The discussions were held in a frank and cordial atmosphere, contributing to an enhanced understanding of each other’s position.”  The broader discussions between India and Pakistan represent an important, if tortuous, piece in the larger strategic puzzle of trying to bring stability to one of the world’s most dangerous regions. The nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and India have fought three wars since becoming independent countries in 1947, and their rivalry now complicates American military and counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In 2008, India abandoned diplomatic efforts with Pakistan after heavily armed militants, trained in Pakistan, attacked in Mumbai, killing at least 163 people. Talks were eventually restarted, but the process has been bumpy.  The decision to hold talks this week represented a minor achievement, after a month in which tensions between India and Pakistan could have boiled over. First came the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town that is home to a major military academy. Then came testimony in a terrorism trial in Chicago that adds to evidence linking Pakistan’s intelligence agency to the Mumbai attack.  Indian officials see the developments as validation of their longstanding position that the Pakistani state knowingly nurtures terrorism. Some Indian officials issued sharp criticisms of Pakistan, among them Indian generals boasting that Indian commandos could replicate a raid in Pakistan similar to the one against Bin Laden — comments that elicited an angry rebuke from Pakistani officials.  But the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has largely resisted demonizing Pakistan, and his foreign policy advisers have quietly made clear that the dialogue between the countries will not be interrupted. Days before Bin Laden’s death, the two sides had made progress during a meeting where their commerce secretaries promised to explore a range of trade and business ties.  “What we are trying to do is send a message to Pakistan that we are willing to do business with you and we don’t want to take advantage of your current predicament in any way,” said Naresh Chandra, chairman of India’s National Security Advisory Board, which is appointed by the prime minister.  Few analysts expect any dramatic, transformative breakthroughs. But Mr. Singh has persistently pushed for dialogue on multiple issues, often despite criticism at home, on the premise that India’s economic progress is imperiled without a stable neighborhood.  Indeed, beyond his overtures to Pakistan, Mr. Singh in May also recalibrated India’s position on Afghanistan, where the United States has pledged to begin withdrawing troops next month. In the past, India has criticized reconciliation efforts with the Taliban, fearing that Taliban members in the Afghan government could deepen Pakistani influence.  But in a visit to Kabul, the Afghan capital, on May 12 and 13, Mr. Singh signaled that India had softened its stance and sought to position his country as a constructive player toward any Afghan settlement. “Afghanistan has embarked upon a process of national reconciliation,” Mr. Singh said during his visit, in which he also awarded $500 million in aid. “We wish you well in this enterprise.”  This week’s talks were focused on a longstanding dispute over the Siachen Glacier in the Himalayan mountains. In 1984, Pakistan sent soldiers to try to dislodge the Indian Army from its occupation of the heights over the disputed site. Years of skirmishes followed at altitudes of more than 18,000 feet. The glacier had dubious strategic value, and more soldiers died as a result of the hostile environment than in battle.  A 2003 cease-fire ended the hostilities, but left unresolved the fate of each side’s forces, which remain in their high-altitude positions. Negotiators have quibbled over the terms of how the troops will withdraw to lower ground and what sort of monitoring will ensure that neither side seeks to return.  Today, soldiers remain posted high in the mountains, though India has greatly improved living conditions over the years.
Arms race between India and Pakistan takes to air
ISLAMABAD: India’s plans to modernise its ageing air force have triggered a tit-for-tat Pakistani programme that could exacerbate strategic tensions in South Asia, officials and analysts told "The National".  Defence analysts said the planned air force expansions were part of an arms race between India and Pakistan that dates back to the 1960s and the height of the Cold War.  The South Asian neighbours, both of which possess nuclear arsenals, have fought three wars and as many regionalised conflicts since gaining independence from British colonial rule in August 1947.  Siemon Wezeman, senior fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s arms transfer programme, said: "Although India and Pakistan deny it, an arms race is on. India wants to become a regional power, and is building its arsenal accordingly, while Pakistan wants to maintain a rough parity for survival" in the event of another conflict.d  His comments came after an announcement by the Pakistani minister for defence, Ahmed Mukhtar, that Pakistan is to acquire 50 advanced JF-17 Thunder warplanes, to be co-produced with China at a factory about 50km west of Islamabad.  The new warplanes would carry an Italian "avionics package" that is far superior to the Chinese technology installed on the 30 aircraft currently being acquired by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), military officials close to the project said.  Two squadrons have been inducted since the first Thunder was manufactured in November 2010, with Pakistan likely to acquire 250 to 300 of the warplanes by 2015, defence analysts said.  Mr Mukhtar said China had also agreed in principle to supply Pakistan with FC-20 warplanes, a comparatively advanced aircraft that is taking over as the vanguard of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.  Pakistan is initially seeking 36 FC-20s, but any deal would be subject to Beijing being satisfied that the transfer of advanced military technology would not affect its trade relationships with the west, said the military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.  Defence analysts and former diplomats said the expansion of Pakistani air power is a direct response to India’s plans to acquire 126 state-of-the-art western warplanes, defence analysts said.  Indian officials have said they would place an order this summer, either for the Eurofighter Typhoon or Dassault Rafale warplanes.  New Delhi in April rejected competing bids from US manufacturers, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, causing embarrassment to the administration of the US president Barack Obama, which had lobbied hard for the deal.  India is looking to replace its ageing fleet of Soviet-vintage and French warplanes with Western warplanes and the Sukhoi-30MK1 aircraft, 272 of which are being manufactured in India under a joint venture with Russia. One hundred forty-two of the SU-30 aircraft had been delivered by January.  Similarly, Pakistan is phasing out a fleet of Chinese-built aircraft, based on modified Soviet designs, and French warplanes dating back to the 1980s.  Pakistan also possesses US-made F-16s, including 18 advanced Block 52 models, delivery of which was completed in February, along with upgrade kits for 26 F-16s acquired in the 1980s.  Indian analysts have said the Pakistani F-16 sales were a significant factor in India’s rejection of US bids to supply the 126 new warplanes.  The US seeks to strike a balance in its relations with India and Pakistan, but often ends up annoying both, the analysts said.  US military sales to Pakistan are frequently criticised by India’s government, while Pakistan regularly complains about the US agreement in 2008 to supply nuclear-power technology to India.  China has also opposed the nuclear deal, because of its strategic competition with India for influence in Asia, the analysts said.  Competing international strategic partners continue to back either South Asian side,- a scenario reminiscent of the Cold War, the analysts said.  They also said India has the support of Russia and the west, while China backs Pakistan.  Akram Zaki, formerly Pakistan’s chief diplomat, said: "After the US nuclear deal with India, China came to the conclusion that the stability of Pakistan is in its national interest.  "In ideological terms, China wants peace and stability in South Asia, but that is only possible if the imbalance created by the US’s extraordinary support to India is to some extent corrected".  Mr Zaki said that China’s strategic philosophy was to make Pakistan "as far as is possible" self-sufficient in the production of defence equipment.  The analysts said competing strategic objectives in Asia of the west and China would continue to fuel arms purchases by India and Pakistan.  Chinese defence co-operation with Pakistan would reflect US policy on China, they said.  "It has a lot to do with how the Democrats and Republicans have seen China and its rise, and what policy is going to come from Washington: containment or constrainment," said Maria Sultan, director of the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute, a London-based think tank.  India’s expansion of its defence capability is also increasingly aimed at the Sino-Pakistan alliance, the analysts said.  "China and Pakistan are a potential threat to India. That’s why it is willing to do anything to enhance its [military] capabilities," Mr Wezeman said
Afghan defence minister arrives today
NEW DELHI: In keeping with its efforts to counter Pakistan's moves in strategically-located Afghanistan, India has rolled out the red-carpet for Afghan defence minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak during his visit here beginning Wednesday.  Gen Wardak, heading a six-member delegation, is slated to hold extensive talks with his Indian counterpart A K Antony during the three-day visit. It comes soon after PM Manmohan Singh visited Kabul earlier this month to deepen the bilateral strategic partnership across the political, economic and security fronts.  "Bilateral defence cooperation issues, including capacity building of the Afghan security forces, will be discussed during Gen Wardak's visit,'' said an official.  India has been regularly training Afghan officers and other ranks at its military training institutions, ranging from the NDA and Indian Military Academy at Dehradun to the School of Artillery at Deolali, ever since the Karzai government came to office.  Apart from several developmental projects like the construction of the 218-km Zaranj-Delaram road in war-ravaged Afghanistan, India has also posted some Army officers in the central Asian nation to teach basic military fieldcraft and English skills to the Afghan Army, apart from sending several military doctors to help at hospitals in Kandahar and elsewhere.
Himalay scales the peak Brig to don Maj Gen stripes
Imphal, May 31 2011: Brigadier Konsam Himalay Singh of Manipur has been selected for promotion to the rank of Major General in the Army, informed a PRO IGAR (S) release.  Konsam Himalay is the first from Manipur to be promoted to the rank of a Major General in the Indian Army.  He also has the distinction of being the first from Manipur to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier.  Born at Charangpat in Thoubal district, Brig Himalay had his early education in schools at Charangpat and Thoubal.  Subsequently in 1968, he joined Sainik School, Goalpara, excelled in the CBSE with distinction in Maths and Physics and joined NDA in 1974, after which he was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion of The Rajput Regiment in 1978 .  A graduate of Defence Services Staff College Wellington, and National Defence College, New Delhi he held many prestigious appointments in a career spanning over three decades, the release detailed adding that K Himalay is Masters in Defence Studies from Madras University, Master of Management Studies with Distinction from Osmania University and M Phil in Strategic studies from Madras University.    K Himalay   He is also the senior most serving officer in the Indian Army from Manipur.  He commanded 27 Rajput during Kargil war for which he was awarded with Yudh Seva Medal, a decoration awarded for leading successful operations carried out during war.  He has been a Battalion Commander in the National Defence Academy.  The State native is a sky diver and a mountaineer and has reportedly participated in the Kanchenjunga expedition in 1987 .  He has been awarded COAS commendation card three times and Army Commander's Commendation card once in addition to the award of YSM.  His father K Ibopishak Singh lives with his ex-marine engineer brother in Imphal.  Married to Dr Mangala, who is Chief Medical Officer (NFSG) CGHS at Delhi, the couple is blessed with two daughters Poornima and Priyanka, both pursuing their respective careers in Delhi.  At present Brig Himalay is serving in the Military Secretary's branch at the Army Headquarters, the release added.
CCS to discuss defence deal with US
New Delhi, May 12 (PTI) The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) will discuss country's largest ever defence deal with the US for inducting 10 C-17 heavy-lift aircraft in its meeting expected to be held tomorrow. The USD 4.1 billion deal will be put up before the CCS for discussion, sources said here. The proposed deal through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route has been hanging fire for long with India seeking several clarifications from the manufacturer Boeing. The proposal to be considered by CCS would include offsets proposals worth 30 per cent of the total value of the deal and setting up of defence facilities in the country, they added.Under the procurement procedure, offsets clause entails that a vendor winning a defence deal worth over Rs 300 crore has to reinvest at least 30 per cent of the worth of the deal back in Indian defence, homeland security or civilian aerospace sectors. Defence Ministry has already approved funds for procuring the aircraft in this fiscal, the sources added. Boeing, along with another US company Lockheed Martin, recently failed to qualify in the bid for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) which IAF is acquiring.India is planning to procure the aircraft for augmenting its fleet which now comprises Russian-made transport aircraft Ilyushin-76 and Antonov-32. After finalising the initial deal for ten aircraft, the IAF is also planning to place orders for additional six aircraft.
Cadet from Pune tops merit list
Pune lad Cadet adjutant Nikhil Prabhune stood first in the order of merit in academics in the 120th passing-out batch of the National Defence Academy (NDA).  The son of a retired Indian Air Force sergeant from Lohegaon, Nikhil was awarded the Chief of Naval Staff trophy by the general officer commanding-in-chief of Southern Command, Lieutenant General AK Singh, at the convocation ceremony held at NDA’s Habibullah Hall on Monday morning.  Nikhil also won the Admiral’s trophy for standing first in the computer science stream.  Divisional cadet captain Kishor Kunal bagged the chief of Army Staff trophy for standing first in the science stream and cadet Amrit Raj won the Chief of Air Staff trophy for standing first in the arts stream.  A total of 335 cadets from the 120th batch of the NDA were awarded graduation degrees from the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Monday. Of these, 107 cadets were awarded degrees in arts, 123 in computer science and 105 in science. The graduates include three from the Maldives and one from Bhutan.  Nikhil had stood 17th in the all-India merit list for the NDA entrance examination three years ago. He will join the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala next month and aims at becoming a naval aviator. Speaking to media persons after the convocation ceremony, Nikhil said consistent hard work helped him bag the top academic prize at the NDA. He said he considered the NDA to be special because it provides all-round development.  “I learnt the Russian language and also became a good sailor at the academy,” Nikhil said.  On the other hand Kunal, who hails from Champaran in Bihar, is the son of a school teacher. Kunal, who heads for the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in July is keen to become an infantry officer in the Gorkha Rifles. He was all praise for the training modules at the NDA. “When I joined the academy, I did not know how to swim. But by the end of my term, I managed to swim a 3-km stretch in the Khadakwasla lake.”  Similar were the views of Amrit Raj, a resident of Patna in Bihar and the son of an accountant. Amrit said he could not swim nor run when he joined the academy, but has become proficient in both fields. “Today I am able to run 16 km with ease. We are just raw material. The academy moulds us,” Amrit said. He also wants to become an infantry officer.  In his convocation address, Singh displayed sensitivity when he addressed the audience in both Hindi and English, considering that many parents and guardians are not familiar with English. Singh urged the cadets to become dynamic leaders, who could inspire jawans, sailors and the air warriors in battle.  “Trust and leadership are two important attributes that you need to imbibe. Service should always be before self,” Singh said.
Indian Army unit begins four-day ‘Pine Prahar’ exercise
ALANDHAR (PTI): Indian Army's Vajra Corps, better known as "Defenders of Punjab", have begun a 4-day exercise called 'Pine Prahar' somewhere in the western sector.  The exercise, which began Monday, envisages swift mobilisation of units and formations, and offensive manoeuvres.  In an interaction with journalists, Lt Gen Munish Sibal, General Officer Commanding of Vajra Corps, dwelt on various facets of the exercise.  He said Vajra Corps was fully ready to safeguard the border of the state at any given time.  Over 12,000 troops are taking part in the exercise.  India's oldest Corps, Vajra has a history spanning over half-a-century.

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