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Sunday, 31 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 31 Jul 2011





Sukhois to get closer to Pakistan border

To be stationed at Halwara air base, 150 km away from frontier, by year-end

Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi, July 30 For the first time, India’s frontline fighter aircraft, Sukhoi-30-MKI, will be based very close to the Indo-Pak border, only around 150 km away, at Halwara, near Ludhiana.  Sources in the IAF said the runway reconstruction at the Halwara airbase was nearing completion and the first squadron of the Sukhois would move there by the end of the year or at best early next year.  The twin-engined Russian-origin Sukhois, which are now produced under licence in India, are one of the leading warplanes of the world. These are set to become deadlier with the slated fitting of super-sonic cruise missile BrahMos under its belly.  A Sukhoi-30-MKI flying at top speed of around two mach, about 2,450 kmph, will be able to reach the western border of India within 4 minutes of the take-off from Halwara.  The original plan was to have Sukhois at Halwara at the start of this year itself, however, it was held back due to the runway reconstruction project. The stationing of the warplane is significant as it can travel up to 5,200 km in one go and carry around 8,000 kgs of weaponry. As part of the beefing up of operations in eastern India, some Sukhois have been stationed at Chabua and Tezpur.  The warplane will provide additional capability to the IAF, which has a Sukhoi-30-MKI base at Bareilly in western Uttar Pradesh.  Over the past few months, the entire lot of 62 Russian-built MiG-29s has been deployed at Adampur, near Jalandhar. All three squadrons, around 62 fighters, are now based at Adampur which is nation’s second largest IAF base and had MiG 29s for long. Now all the MiG 29s from across Gujarat have been moved to Adampur, around 100 km away from the Indo-Pak border and less than 250 km from the Chinese border on the eastern side. The MiG 29s are under the process of being upgraded to carry better weapons, a state-of-the-art radar and advanced avionics.  Another important addition would be midair re-fuelling capability. A more powerful and latest series-III version of the existing RD 33 engine of the MiG 29 will be housed in the upgraded planes. A multi-functional radar will guide weapons with better precision. It will also enable the pilot to “see” even small targets like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). A new weapon-control system will enable better targeting of aims and also upgrade the weapon delivery system. The existing flying range of the MIG-29 is around 2,100 km. Post add-ons, it will go up to 3,500 km.  After the upgrade, the MiG-29s, inducted in the late 1980s, will be just a shade lower than the Sukhoi-30-MKI in strike capability.  Meanwhile, the IAF has launched a major drive to fill vacancies of pilots. As per latest figures, the IAF has a shortage of 1,016 officers out of which 400 are the vacancies of pilots. The IAF has a sanctioned strength of 12,211 officers. It will be adding newer warplanes in the next 6 to 8 years as the supply of the 126 MMRCA fighter planes will start while the supply of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) is expected to commence in 2019.     n The warplane will provide additional capability to the IAF, which has a Sukhoi-30-MKI base at Bareilly in western UP  n The twin-engined Russian-origin Sukhois are one of the leading warplanes of the world  n These are set to become deadlier with the slated fitting of super-sonic cruise missile BrahMos under its belly  n The fighter aircraft flying at top speed about 2,450 kmph will be able to reach the western border of India within 4  minutes of the take-off from Halwara  n The stationing of the warplane is significant as it can travel up to 5,200 km in one go and carry around 8,000 kgs of weaponry

Browne to take over as IAF chief today

New Delhi, July 30 Air Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne will tomorrow take over as the new IAF Chief. A fighter pilot with a varied operational experience on all kinds of aircraft, including Jaguars and Sukhoi-30, Browne has logged about 3,100 hours of flying.  An alumnus of the NDA, he has served as an instructor at the Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment and the tri-services Defence Services Staff College in Wellington. — PTI

Counter-terrorism: the Indian response

The security establishment appears divided on how to counter terror. Should the country opt for newer agencies and a new architecture or should it concentrate on consolidating existing agencies and the police—-is the question. Shishir Gupta

The evolution of the Indian counter-terror policy in the twenty-first century has roots in the 1999 India–Pakistan Kargil conflict and the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 by the Harkatul-Mujahideen. In both the cases, the intelligence agencies were caught napping and even the response was leaden, to say the least, with huge consequences. As a result, the government set up a Group of Ministers under the Indian Home Minister to reform the national security system. Among its many recommendations for enhancing counter-terror response was establishing the Multi Agency Centre (MAC) under the Intelligence Bureau (IB).  However, it was after the 9/11 upheaval that the MAC was formally set up, on 6 December 2001. Its mandate was ‘to centrally pool and process all operational and actionable intelligence and disseminate them among the executive agencies for real time action, value addition and conversion of raw intelligence into actionable intelligence; build a national memory bank; develop round-the-clock early warning capability and communication network interfaced with Central security agencies and state police forces; and ensure coordination and synergy in response action through pooling of resources, manpower, technical equipment and intelligence’. But this evidently did not help as India was hit by a spate of bombings and terror attacks culminating in the 26/11 attack in Mumbai.  By the government’s own admission, made after 26 November 2008, the MAC had not lived up to its promise; the databases had not been created and no data relating to terrorist activities had been received from the central and state security forces and agencies.  Counter-terrorism Centre  In the interim, the second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), which was set up by the present government, in its report titled ‘Combating Terrorism’ in June 2008 recommended the following: ‘The MAC should be converted into a National Counter-terrorism Centre (NCTC) with personnel drawn from different intelligence and security agencies. Besides, it should be given the nodal role to ensure convergence and coordination of relevant intelligence data on terrorism from all such agencies in the country. At the state level the subsidiary MAC should play a similar role.’  With the government concurring with the ARC on enhancing its counter-terror capabilities, the Indian government on 1 January 2009 promulgated the ‘Multi Agency Centre (Functions, Powers and Duties) Order, 2008’. Its charter was:      * Gather, collate, store, analyse, share, disseminate and do any other thing or act that may be necessary in the respect of intelligence pertaining to terrorism, terrorist threats and terrorist offences.     * Develop, improve and enhance the capacity of the government to deal with terrorism and terrorist threats.     * Devise strategic and tactical measures to counter terrorism, terrorism threats and terrorist offences.  The order also stipulated that all civil and military authorities in the territory of India would act in aid of the MAC. The centre was extended to state capitals by setting up subsidiary MACs where all agencies operating at the state level, especially the special branch of the state police, were represented. In September 2009, Home Minister P. Chidambaram visited the US and was given a detailed brief on the US NCTC, which was established in August 2005. Having the backing of the ARC, Chidambaram unveiled the new security architecture on 23 December 2009 at the Annual Intelligence Bureau Endowment Lecture. In his speech, he said the NCTC’s mandate would include preventing a terrorist attack, containing a terrorist attack should one take place and responding to the terrorist attack by inflicting pain upon the perpetrators. The salient features of the proposal are:      * Establishing a national grid (NATGRID), which would link twenty-one separate databases, including the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network, to achieve quick, seamless and secure access to desired information for intelligence and enforcement agencies.     * The MAC would be subsumed into the NCTC with the added mandate of investigations and operations.     * The newly set up NIA would operate under the NCTC and its investigative arm.     * The operations wing of the NCTC would be set up to give NCTC the complete counter-terror capability.     * All intelligence agencies would be represented in the NCTC including the National Technical Reconnaissance Organisation (NTRO), the Joint Intelligence Committee, the Narcotics Control Board and the National Security Guard (NSG).     * The role of RAW, its air surveillance wing, the Aviation Research Centre and the CBI would be examined and eventually placed under the NCTC as far as their terrorism-related investigations are concerned.     * The NCTC would come under the Indian home ministry and would be accountable to Parliament.  The Indian NCTC proposal, albeit similar to its US counterpart, was a step ahead as the latter only assigns roles and responsibilities for counter-terror operations and limits itself to operational planning. It is this very idea to arm the Indian NCTC with operational capabilities and an umbrella agency with intelligence agencies reporting to it that has caused serious debate within the Indian security establishment.  Reservations  After analysing the home minister’s NCTC proposal, M.K. Narayanan, former NSA to the Prime Minister, extended his support to establishing the centre but wanted the intelligence agencies and particularly the MAC to be left alone. He argued in writing that the MAC should not be a part of the NCTC and that the operational capabilities of the proposed counter-terror outfit should not be made by hiving off the operational wings of Indian intelligence agencies.  Narayanan is not the only one who is opposed to the basic structure of the NCTC. The Indian intelligence chiefs also feel that like in the US NCTC, the IB and RAW should only send their representatives to the proposed centre with information they need to share, rather than report to the NCTC boss and be accountable to the Indian Parliament. The nay sayers within the Indian government got a shot in the arm when the US NCTC could not prevent the attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab despite having scraps of intelligence pointing to the same. Deposing before the US Senate Intelligence Committee on 20 January 2010, Dennis Blair, Director, National Intelligence, said: ‘The counter-terrorism system failed. We told the President that we are determined to do better.’  Although there are pros and cons to every new concept, the basic problem with the Indian NCTC or the foundation of the counter-terror architecture is its operationalisation. The easiest part is to appoint a head of the NCTC and empower him or her with a humongous mandate but who will train the operating counter-terrorism teams? Even if they were sent to mitigate a terrorist situation in a country as vast and diverse as India, who would take the responsibility of providing support and logistics? There is a growing fear that the NCTC would be like a number of bodies that were set up with a serious mandate but have become dysfunctional.  Beef up the police  The other argument against the NCTC is why not strengthen the existing Indian intelligence agencies and their operational wings. The British response to the 7/7 bombings was to beef up the capabilities of the MI-5 and MI-6 agencies rather than set up a new organisation. Perhaps, the answer to Indian needs does not lie in setting up another agency but in consolidating the existing mechanism. It has to begin at the grass-roots level as India desperately needs to increase police footfalls on the ground.  As of 2006, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, India had a total of 16,32,691 persons in the police force with 145.2 policemen for every 1,00,000 inhabitants. Compare this with 559 police personnel per 1,00,000 inhabitants in Italy or even 192.7 per 1,00,000 in Nepal and you get the idea about the pathetic state of affairs.  What is even more alarming is that 145.25 was the sanctioned strength in 2006 but the actual strength is only 117.09 since the states have not taken police recruitment seriously in the past. In the most populated states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, police recruitment was riddled with corruption in the past with the ruling parties hiring personnel on caste considerations to further their electoral gains. Intelligence agencies face the same problem as either there aren’t enough personnel to pick up ground intelligence on terrorist modules or the priorities are lopsided and focused towards collecting political intelligence.  This meant that intelligence agencies had to overtly rely on technical means like communication intercepts, mobile phone tracking and call matching with little corroboration on the ground.

India, B’desh ink border management deal

Dhaka, July 30 India and Bangladesh today inked a key agreement aimed at enhancing quality of border management and ensuring cross-frontier security through measures like joint vigils to deal with human trafficking and smuggling of drugs and weapons.  The comprehensive border management agreement was signed in the presence of visiting Home Minister P Chidambaram and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sahara Khatun.  “We have just signed the agreement - the Border Management Coordination Plan for a comprehensive and joint management of all frontier issues,” Khatun told a joint news conference with Chidambaram after their nearly two-and-a-half-hour meeting, which came ahead of the September visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here.  Chidambaram said the agreement, signed by Border Guard Bangladesh’s Director General Maj Gen Anwar Hossain and his Indian counterpart from the Border Security Force (BSF) Raman Srivastava, was expected to resolve all outstanding frontier issues, including combating cross-border crimes.  “The agreement will enhance quality of border management as well as ensure (cross-border) security,” he said.  India and Bangladesh share 4,096 km border, of which 6.1 km is still un-demarcated. — PTI

Now, comics to bring war heroes to life

Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 30 The names of Indian Army war heroes will soon be on the lips of children across the country. The Indian Army has taken a cue from the Western concept of narrating tales of war heroes to its young ones.  India’s 1.3 million-strong Army - the second largest in the world - intends to hire professionals who will tell wartime stories through illustrated storybooks (comics) and animation - almost on the lines of the 50-year-old still-running concept of “Commando Comics” that started in Scotland and went on to become a global rage in 1970s and 80s.  Comics and animation are just half of the story. Besides, comics, animation and toys for children who are less than 13 years of age, storybooks for young ones between 13 and 18 years of age will be written by professionals.  Unfortunately, a computer game, which could have got the children hooked, is not in the pipeline as it would have needed a huge budget.  “Very little is known about Indian war heroes. Only adults who follow the subject diligently have some knowledge on the subject. Newspapers and magazines do not have time or space for such stories on a day-to-day basis,” said a senior functionary.  At last, it is time for the US GI Joe, who portrays the American soldier, is produced by companies in the US and exported globally, to vacate the space for the Indian braveheart. Toys for boys will be available on the same pattern.  At present, an attempt to produce illustrated storybooks - off and on - is being made by a retired Major General, using his own money, to further the stories of legends like Capt Vikram Batra - battle of Tiger Hill 1999 - or Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan - November 2008 Mumbai attacks.  The Army’s move, unconnected with the retired Major General’s initiative, aims at having a regular magazine - at least an issue a month - and on having a professional company to produce, market and sell these at book stores or through home delivery.  A senior official said, “How many persons know about the epic battle at Zo-jila Pass 1948 or the battle at Asal Uttar 1965 - the biggest tank battle since the World War II - or the battle around Hilli in 1971?”  If the Army’s initiative succeeds, your child, very soon, will definitely answer this question in the positive.

Major gunbattle in Kupwara, 2 Army jawans killed: Sources   Read more at:

Kupwara:  A major gunbattle broke out in the Farkian forests of Kupwara district in north Kashmir today after an infiltrating group of militants was intercepted by the Army, said sources.  Two Army jawans were killed and three others got injured in the initial shootout, the sources added.  The Army, however, did not confirm any casualties.  More details are awaited.   Read more at:

China wants more aircraft carriers to compete with India

BEIJING: A serving Chinese military general is citing India's capabilities in his efforts to edge the government to have more than one aircraft carrier. General Luo Yuan, a senior researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences, said China needs at least three aircraft carriers to defend its interests in the face of neighbors developing their capabilities.  "If we consider our neighbors, India will have three aircraft carriers by 2014 and Japan will have three carriers by 2014," General Luo was quoted as saying by Beijing News. "So I think the number (for China) should not be less than three so we can defend our rights and our maritime interests effectively."  China recently confirmed it was revamping an old Soviet ship to be its first carrier. The state media broadcast footage of its first carrier in a rare public mention of the project. The moves added to worries in the Asian region about Beijing's military expansion and growing assertiveness on territorial issues.  The government tried to reassure neighbors that its first carrier would be used only for the purpose of training and research and there was no plan for aggression involved.  "We are currently re-fitting the body of an old aircraft carrier, and will use it for scientific research, experiments and training," defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng told a news briefing.  The latest statement from General Luo shows there has been some rethinking, and Beijing is prepared to talk about using aircraft carriers for war preparedness. The general represents a government academy that plays a role in the military planning process. China is worried that Japan's three carriers, which are at present used for helicopter operations, would eventually be converted into full aircraft carriers. The two countries have serious disputes over some islands.  The United States indicated it was happy China had taken a step toward better transparency by openly discussing the issue about aircraft carriers.

Admiral Verma takes over as tri-service panel chief

NEW DELHI: With the government unwilling to usher in meaningful reforms in higher defence management, India will continue to wrestle with the lack of real synergy between the armed forces and the defence ministry as well as among the Army, IAF and Navy themselves for the foreseeable future.  Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma did take over as the new chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) from outgoing IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik on Friday. But it could not detract from the fact that the creation of the crucial chief of defence staff (CDS) post remains as elusive as ever, despite the 12th anniversary of the 1999 Kargil conflict also being observed this week.  ACM Naik, who hangs his boots on Sunday, has reiterated his opposition to the CDS post, holding that India did not need it for the "next five to 10 years". The CoSC, however, has not ensured the requisite symbiosis needed in policy, procurement and operational matters among the armed forces.  The Army, for instance, remains hell-bent on getting its own fleet of attack helicopters and transport aircraft since it feels that the IAF simply does not understand its requirements. Similarly, the squabbling between the two has ensured that the planned acquisition of 384 light observation helicopters has been delayed for several years.  Egged on by the civilian bureaucracy, the defence ministry has taken advantage of this divide among the armed forces to put the CDS proposal in cold storage for over a decade now. Successive governments have consistently used the pretext of holding wider political consultations to stymie any forward movement.  This when the Group of Ministers' report on 'reforming the national security system' - the first comprehensive such review done in the aftermath of Kargil - had recommended a CDS to provide single-point military advice, 'administer' the strategic (nuclear) forces, and promote 'jointness' among the armed forces.  "The functioning of CoSC has, to date, revealed serious weaknesses in its ability to provide single-point military advice to government, and resolve substantive inter-Service doctrinal, planning, policy and operational issues adequately," the GoM report had warned.  Over a decade later, in the absence of a CDS, the entire defence planning process is still done in a haphazard manner, without proper inter-Service prioritization to systematically acquire military capabilities in consonance with India's long-term geostrategic objectives.  Similarly, the much-touted integration of Service HQs with the defence ministry has remained perfunctory.  Earlier, the K Subrahmanyam-led Kargil Review Committee had held, "India is perhaps the only major democracy where the armed forces HQs are outside the apex governmental structure."


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