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Monday, 13 June 2011

From Today's Papers - 13 Jun 20








Move to discharge disabled troops under the scanner
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, June 12 While undergoing a paragliding course in March 2005, Army jawan Harphool Singh hit a mountainside and suffered fractures, resulting in 30 per cent disability that was attributable to military service. Placed in low medical category, he was given “sheltered” appointments in Army Headquarters and the Artillery Depot.  Five years down the line, after having performed his stipulated duties “without hindrance”, even participating in a field exercise, and with just about two years left to complete minimum service for pension, he is to be discharged on medical grounds.  This is not a singular case. A large number of gunners, placed in permanent low medical category for varying causes, are being discharged, even though they are willing to continue in service. The Army has claimed that sheltered appointments are not available in the Regiment of Artillery. Taking up petitions filed by Harphool and several similarly placed soldiers seeking a stay on their discharge from service, the vacation Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) in Chandigarh has issued a notice to the Union of India.  Documents attached with the petitions reveal that about three per cent of the strength of the Regiment of Artillery is placed in low medical category (LMC), out of which many are to be discharged.  When the petitioner had rejoined his unit that had moved to a peace station in the western sector after completing a stint in Jammu and Kashmir, he had come across a letter issued by the Colonel Records, Artillery, on March 3, recommending discharge of LMC troops on account of suitable positions not being available for them. The recommendation was approved by the Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Records.  Based on the recommendation, a dictum discharge order was received by artillery units that retention of LMC personnel in service has not been recommended by the commanding officers of the units, and accordingly the approval of OIC has been accorded to discharge them on medical grounds. August 31, 2011 has been fixed as the discharge date.  The petitioners say that the foremost guiding principle prescribed for the discharge of LMC troops is that  all endeavours shall be made to allow personnel to complete minimum qualifying service for pension.  They have also claimed that discharge on medical grounds can be done only on the basis of the opinion of the release medical board , after the competent authority, that is the commanding officer, certifies after conforming to stipulated procedures that there is no sheltered appointment in the unit or the LMC individual is surplus to the organisation. In these cases, there was no such certification.  Gunners’ Woes  A large number of gunners, placed in permanent low medical category for varying causes, are being discharged, even though they are willing to continue in service.  Army’s TAke The Army has claimed that sheltered appointments are not available in the Regiment of Artillery









Ministry seeks views on procurement policy
The defence ministry has invited suggestions from the Armed Forces and various departments and agencies that fall under it for amending the defence procurement policy (DPP) that governs defence purchases.  Beginning this week, representatives of the Armed Forces are likely to meet ministry officials to put forth their suggestions, said a person familiar with the development, requesting anonymity.  While the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the navy have already submitted their proposals, the army is expected to do so in the next few days, this person said.  IAF has suggested that stipulated indigenous content in case of the so-called “buy (Indian)” mode of procurement should be raised to 50% from 30% currently. Projects that come under the so-called “make” category should have a minimum 60% indigenous content on cost basis, at the production stage.  Mint has reviewed a copy of the proposals suggested by IAF.  “The goal of achieving self-reliance in defence equipment needs to be kept in mind,” said the note, explaining the rationale behind the recommendation.  If a purchase is classified “buy (Indian)”, only Indian vendors are allowed to bid for the tender, while a “buy (global)” allows both foreign and Indian vendors to compete. Acquisitions covered under the “make” category are meant to include high technology complex systems to be designed, developed and produced ingeniously. At present, this category does not have any minimum stipulation for indigenous content.  IAF wants the defence ministry to increase the validity of the commercial offer sought in request for proposal (RFP) before bids are opened. The currently stipulated period is 18 months.  “There are numerous cases, where requirement of extension of validity for commercial proposal or submission of a fresh commercial proposal by a certain period is felt necessary, as the procurement process does not reach the stage when the commercial proposal could be opened by CNC (contract negotiation committee),” says the note. “There is no provision in DPP to seek extension of validity or fresh commercial proposal in such a situation.”  IAF also recommends that vendors submit price quotes valid for the period from the 19th to the 30th month at the time of replying to RFP itself.  IAF has proposed changes in the way field evaluation trials are carried out. Suggestions include making it compulsory for vendors to provide a complete list of “optional equipment” while responding to RFP. The ministry should ensure vendors are not allowed to submit any additional data pertaining to the trials after the trials are over, it says. It has also made suggestions to speed up the process.  To remove ambiguities about costs and supply of spare parts, IAF has suggested that vendors be required to submit an illustrated spare parts catalogue in the standard contract document itself. This catalogue, IAF says, should have the base price and pricing mechanism for subsequent purchase of spares in the life cycle of the equipment.  “Not all the changes that the forces suggest are incorporated,” said retired colonel and defence analyst Rajiv Chib of PricewaterhouseCoopers India. “But their suggestions do have a significant bearing, as the forces use the equipment that the government procures.”











A Shangri-La for world security
The dictionary describes Shangri-La as a remote beautiful imaginary place where life approaches perfection. Designing and erecting such an idyllic superstructure for world security is the ambitious aim of the Shangri-La Dialogue of top policy-makers in governments and Defence and intelligence analysts in the academia and think-tanks organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London, every year for the past nine years at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore (from which the Dialogue takes its name).  The tenth Dialogue this year, held on June 3-5, was notable for the farewell appearance of the US Defence Secretary of Defence, Mr Robert Gates, and the first time attendance of the Defence Minister of China, General Liang Guanglie.  It also saw an impressive performance by India's Minister of State for Defence, Mr Pallam Raju, ably supported by Mr Manish Tiwari, MP and spokesperson for the Indian National Congress.  The subjects taken up for discussion were remarkable for their range and depth, taking in their sweep emerging security challenges in the Asia-Pacific, new military doctrines and their capabilities in Asia, the new distribution of power and its implications, China's international security cooperation, possible responses to new maritime security threats, and building strategic confidence and avoiding worst-case outcomes.  All eyes were naturally on General Liang who, as is evident from the accounts in the world media, was at his persuasive best, coming through as a professional to his finger tips and expressing himself with becoming dignity and restraint. In his address at the plenary and the long question and answer session following it, he seemingly put all the cards on the table as regards the intentions and approaches of China pertaining to relations with countries and security cooperation.  China's ‘core interests'  Affirming “multilateralism and inclusive regionalism in working with countries from both within and outside Asia to build regional security cooperation architectures that are distinctively Asian”, he also explicitly enumerated the corner-stones of China's “unswerving” policy as: Respect and equality among nations, and accommodation of each other's core interests and major concerns; mutual understanding and trust; sharing “weal and woe”; not engaging in any alliance targeting at a third party; openness, inclusiveness, solidarity and cooperation; peaceful development; a Defence policy defensive in nature; forging friendly and good-neighbourly relations; regional peace and stability through security cooperation; and adherence to international obligations through security cooperation.  Asked by Mr Manish Tiwari to spell out China's core interests in South Asia and the Indian Ocean area, General Liang gave out a long list that virtually amounted to a “Hands Off” warning, as it included anything that had to do with sovereignty, stability, security on land, sea, or air, and form of government; any attempt to thwart China in pursuing the path of socialism; encouraging any part of China to secede; and the goals of its national economic and social development.  Finest moment  Mr Pallam Raju got well-deserved praise for setting out for the first time in an international forum India's concept of a new world security order built on the cardinal principles of inclusiveness (extending from the Suez to the Pacific and bringing within its purview the entire Eurasian landmass), plurality and consensus. His finest moment was, when, to a question from the Chairman of the IISS on India's attitude were another 26/11 to occur, and whether India would be led to implement its Cold Start Defence doctrine, Mr Raju calmly replied that if a provocation were to happen again, “it would be hard to justify self-restraint to our people”.  The US Defence Secretary, Mr Gates, attending his last international function contented himself with assuring the audience that the US would continue to interest itself in Asia-Pacific despite the challenges his country was facing at home, and in Afghanistan and Iraq.  India should take the lead in organising similar brainstorms, focusing, in particular, on India-China-Pakistan relations with reference to China's pampering of Pakistan, India-China border dispute, China's core interests and vulnerability of Pakistan's nuclear assets to jihadi raids.









General Confusion
Will the security establishment please see the forest for the trees?  By Mehreen Zahra-Malik
“As you may have heard,” Gen. Ashfaq Kayani said, calmly lighting another cigarette, “I’m India-centric.” The Army chief was referencing Bob Woodward’s assessment in Obama’s Wars, which had just been released. The 30-odd journalists who were at the briefing in Rawalpindi last November where the general made these remarks chortled. But this was no joke. General Kayani has on more than one occasion said that while his institution was committed to fighting the militancy, it saw India as the real threat and that was unlikely to change in any meaningful way until the Kashmir and water disputes were resolved.   Here’s where it gets interesting. Our ambassador in Washington, Husain Haqqani, recently spoke at Islamabad’s National Defense University, where civil servants and military officers take courses in strategy, conflict resolution, nuclear politics, and diplomacy. When Haqqani asked his audience of military officers who or what they considered the principal national security threat to Pakistan, it was a 50-50 split between the U.S. and terrorists ensconced in Pakistan. When Haqqani asked if India was the real threat, barely a few hands went up. “Gosh, India must be very happy,” he joked. “Pakistan is no longer India-centric as of this afternoon.”   Haqqani’s joke hides a disquieting reality. While the generals seem to view India as the enemy, the 100-plus colonels who attended Haqqani’s talk fear the U.S. more. The lack of consensus and clarity does not inspire confidence, especially given that the Army drives our defense and foreign policies. India is clear about its objective to move toward great power status. America is single-mindedly pursuing the liquidation of Al Qaeda and allied militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But Pakistan’s security and economic objectives remain reactionary and muddled.   For a conservative institution in a bewilderingly complicated region not spoiled for good options, the Army is sticking to the basics. And nothing can be more basic or crude than bigging up the India threat. Faced with a floundering fight against jihadists at home and hostile public opinion abroad, General Kayani’s anti-India outlook rallies the troops and some strains of jihadists, and deflects criticism of the armed forces for cooperating with the U.S., its largest arms supplier and economic benefactor. Behind closed doors, the generals are more willing to express their disappointment with the U.S., and complain that the Army is purposely being kept in the dark about Washington’s plans for post-occupation Afghanistan.   But is the confusion about who our enemies are unavoidable or deliberate? “The years of jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir have confused our officers and people into thinking ideologically instead of viewing strategic issues professionally,” Haqqani told NEWSWEEK Pakistan. “Jihad through unofficial groups in the 1980s and ’90s was a strategic tool, not the state’s sole strategic objective. But now, for many, ideology determines the worldview instead of the strategic reality shaping their view of the enemy.” In short, our emotions are getting the better of us.   This confusion works for our media, which will fulminate against Agnostic India and Arrogant America for ratings and self-gratifying rabblerousing. This undermines what should be a rational, institutional thinking process within the military and it also poisons the public mind and gives audiences targets to pin their frustrations on. In this game, America has been the ultimate godsend, the new philanderer accused of sleeping with our democrats and dictators alike. This state of mind is not going anywhere. The unspoken pressure on media organizations not to air anything remotely critical of the military following Abbottabad, PNS Mehran, and Saleem Shahzad has made it easier for rightwing pundits to air their bile unchallenged.   As an experiment, let’s diagram precisely what we owe the U.S., what we want from India, and what we are willing to give either. We can then take some clear decisions on drones, joint military and intelligence operations, transnational pipelines, big dams and the like, pledge our positions and work toward achieving some degree of success on these fronts by at least avoiding the rank contradictions that make the state look paralyzed and fractured. Enough with unrehearsed responses in the face of crises and shadowboxing, it’s time to look at the bigger picture.



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