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Monday, 1 August 2011

From Today's Papers - 01 Aug 2011

Browne takes over as Air Force chief

Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
Ace fighter pilot Air Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne today took over as the 23rd chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) from Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik, who retired after putting in 42 years of service, at a brief ceremony at Vayu Bhavan, the air headquarters here.

Born in Allahabad on December 15, 1951, Browne was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF on June 24, 1972. He has the wide-ranging experience of flying Soviet-era MiG 21s to the very latest Sukhoi-30 besides Jaguars and Hunters, logging about 3,100 hours of flying.

He is a recipient of the Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM), Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM), Vayu Sena Medal (VM) and was appointed one of the Honorary ADCs to the President of India.

He started off with an assuring message saying that “the IAF is poised on the path of transforming itself into a potent strategic force”.

In his address to the Air Force, the ACM today outlined his vision statement ‘People first, mission always’ saying our people must receive our highest attention.

Some four years ago, the new chief was part of the core team that planned the modernisation of the IAF’s next generation of warplanes, new attack choppers and a series of radars and air-defence mechanisms. He was then the Deputy Chief of Air Staff (DCAS) at the air headquarters.

He was a member of the initial core team which trained on the Jaguar aircraft in the United Kingdom and went on to command a premier Jaguar strike squadron subsequently. He is a fighter combat leader and a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, Alabama, USA. He has had instructional tenures at the Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment (TACDE) and the tri-services Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington.

During his 39-year career, he has held various operational and staff positions.

India to assume UN Security Council presidency today

Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, July 31
India, which got elected to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member with the highest number of votes in October last year, is all set to assume the monthly presidency of the council on Monday.

It will be after a gap of 19 years that that India will hold the presidency of the UNSC. However, August is traditionally considered a month for vacation at the UN since many diplomats go on leave ahead of the UN General Assembly meet in September.

Indian officials say New Delhi would highlight the issue of peacekeeping during its presidency of the UNSC. Being worried about the situation in Libya, India would also be happy to see the cessation of hostilities in Libya during the month of Ramadan.

According to Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, India proposed to conduct its presidency in a manner which provided a clear message to all that it was country which not only had the credentials but the political maturity to supervise the work of the council and which, in turn, reestablished the message that it had the credentials to be its permanent member.

He candidly admitted in an interview to the UN Radio that he did not think India’s presidency would provide a boost to the process of the Security Council reform and India’s claim for permanent membership. “This has to be done through the General Assembly process,” he said.

India was elected to the Security Council along with Colombia, Germany, Portugal and South Africa to serve the body for a two-year term, which started on January 1 this year. To be elected to the council, candidate countries need a two-third majority of ballots of member states that are present and voting in the 192-member Assembly. The seats are allocated on the basis of geographical groupings.

Four out of the five permanent members of the Security Council - the US, Russia, France and Britain - have endorsed India’s candidature for a permanent seat on the high table while China has promised that it would not come in the way of India, should there be a consensus on giving it a permanent seat as part of the UN reform.

After Shivalik, Navy set for Satpura boost

New stealth warship to be commissioned in August
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 31
The second indigenously built stealth warship — INS Satpura — that will be the biggest in the world among its classification of ‘stealth frigates’ will be commissioned next month.It is presently being tested in the waters by the Navy. The Mumbai-based Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) is building the warship.Its stealth features will curb enemy radars, sensors and submarines from estimating its true size, which is 6,200 tonnes and 143 m in length.

Tactically, the ship can fire its weapons even before the enemy detects it. The first of the same type of warship, INS Shivalik, was commissioned in April last year. The third one - INS Sahyadari - will follow some months from now.

Ships like these will form the core of the India’s battle fleet in the first half of this century. The process is part of Defence Minister AK Antony’s stress on building our own capacity in defence manufacturing.

The INS Satpura - like the INS Shivalik - will carry on board long-range surface-to-surface Klub missiles, surface-to-air-missiles, the Barak, area defence missile Shtil, anti-submarine torpedoes, 100 mm mounted gun and six-barrelled 30 mm gun.

The Sea King Choppers on board will carry torpedoes to hit submarines which are out of the ship’s range. It will have an array of sensors and an anti-missile defence system for its own protection and also coordinate the firing of onboard weapons.

The Navy is looking to have a data exchange system with the IAF’s airborne early warning system (AWACS). A system is being integrated with the AWACS to provide data that may be out of the range of the ship. This will give it an edge in the firing of weapons.

The combat management system developed by the Bharat Electronic Systems will give the ship’s captain a view of all weapons and data on one screen.

The ship will be powered by a unique combination of gas and diesel engines.

Diesel engines will be in operation during cruising. Gas turbines will take over when the ship needs to run faster - up to 32 knots (59 kmph). The ship can stay out in sea for more than three weeks at a stretch or cover more than 10,800 km (6,000 nautical miles) at a stretch without re-fuelling.

Soldiers Suicides, American Vs Indian Statistics Friday, May 20, 2011 Sometimes I read about suicides by Indian Army soldiers posted at the frontier divisions in Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, North East etc. Everytime it happens the media creates a big hue and cry about the lack of will, strength and rampant depression among the ranks of Indian Army. The media takes the role of a judge and implies that Indian army officers and soldiers buckle under pressure while serving at the border. But the reality is far from these demoralizing news reports.

In September 2007, The Tribune, newspaper based out of Chandigarh published an article with statistics proving that suicide rates among soldiers in India is lowest in the world. Quite expectedly this news report was completely ignored by the so-called national media who continued to bombard the people with demoralizing reports. According to the Tribune article, 131 suicides were reported across the country in 2006, 77 in 2005, 100 in 2004 and 93 in 2003.

In comparison to armies of developed first world countries where soldiers serve under far more comfortable conditions the rate of suicides in Indian army (10 per million) is minuscule. Considering the fact that the operational stress in those countries is far too less than in India, where the army is always stressed out because of its involvement in one or other type of civil or border operation. According to official statistics US Army records a rate of 17 suicides per million, in France it is 19 per million and Britain it is 14 per million.

A recent news report published in the Washington Post reveals that 2007 was a year when suicide rates in the US army hit an all time 15 year high. Much of these suicides are attributed to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan which have placed severe stress on the US Army. Americans usually accustomed to the comforts of their country are seldom capable of working in hostile field conditions and when soldiers are deployed for long periods in such hostile conditions they just can't handle the pressure. Historically, suicide rates tend to decrease when soldiers are in conflicts overseas, but that trend has reversed in recent years. From a suicide rate of 9.8 per 100,000 active-duty soldiers in 2001 -- the lowest rate on record -- the Army reached an all-time high of 17.5 suicides per 100,000 active-duty soldiers in 2006. Compare this with 10 suicides per 1,000,000 in the Indian army, where soldiers serve under horrific conditions.

Our soldiers serve under hostile conditions. Consider this, in the Ladakh sector soldiers live in tin sheds with no heating, they curl up in sleeping bags when temperatures fall below -40 degrees. Soldiers carry heavy self loading rifles (SLR) and are attired in less than adequate warm clothing. Officers have the luxury of kerosene heaters in their rooms, but again these can't be kept burning all night or all day as they are extremely dangerous and polluting. The plight of drivers in the army is even worse. These hard working souls have to sleep in their vehicles and every 2-3 hours wake up to start the engine and run it for some time and then go back to sleep. Otherwise the diesel in the engine freezes up and the vehicle wont start the next day. But then with a smile on their faces and prayer in their hearts they continue to guard our mother land from enemies who are all round the country.

I firmly believe that suicides in general and among soldiers in particular should be prevented at all costs. Since this is about soldiers suicides I would like to press for better service facilities for them. Better housing in the borders, better attire and most importantly better pay and lesser pressure at work. This will go a long way in improving soldiers morale and they will serve with much more enthusiasm and suicide rates will drop from the present 10 per million to 1 or even zero.

Jai Jawan! Hail the soldier who gives his today for our tomorrow!

Generation shift in air force


New Delhi, July 29: When the portly Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik hands over the baton of the chief of air staff to his deputy this Sunday, it will mark not only a change of guard at Air Headquarters but also the beginning of a generational shift in the top brass after 40 years.

Air Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, now vice chief of air staff, is set to become the first military chief to have been commissioned into service after India’s last full-fledged war — involving land, air and naval forces — in 1971.

As a precursor to that change, Air Chief Marshal Naik today handed over the baton of the chairman, chiefs of staff committee, to the chief of naval staff, Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma.

Naik was commissioned into the fighter stream of the air force in 1969, two years before the war that led to the birth of Bangladesh. Verma, who will on Sunday become the senior-most military officer in the country, was commissioned into the navy in 1970.

The army chief, General V.K. Singh, who was in action in Bangladesh in 1971, was commissioned into the 2nd battalion of the Rajput Regiment in June 1970, about two weeks before Admiral Verma was into the navy. He still becomes junior to the navy chief because the admiral became a chief first.

That is usual, because promotions in the navy and the air force, which have fewer officers than the army, are faster.

Browne, when he becomes the air chief marshal on Sunday, will be the first chief to have been commissioned into service post the 1971 war. He joined the Indian Air Force in June 1972.

In the current line of succession, Lt General Bikram Singh, now Eastern Army Commander at Calcutta’s Fort William, is set to take over from General V.K. Singh in June next year.

Lt General Bikram Singh was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry in 1972, several months after the December 1971 war. In the navy, with the retirement of Admiral Nirmal Verma scheduled for August 2012, the senior-most officer eligible for the chief’s post is Vice Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi, currently the flag officer commanding-in-chief, western naval command.

Vice Admiral Joshi, who was chief of the integrated defence staff to the chairman, chiefs of staff committee in New Delhi before taking over in Mumbai, joined the navy in 1974, three years after the Bangladesh war.

Air Marshal Browne was chief of the western air command before he became the vice chief of air staff.

He is a pilot with more than 32,00 hours of flying fighter aircraft and was also a Fighter Combat Leader and an instructor at Gwalior’s Tactics and Combat Development Establishment, which puts fighter pilots through their paces.

Browne has trained with the UK Royal Air Force in Jaguar aircraft and is an alumnus of the Air Command and Staff College, US (1987-88). He was joint director at the Air War Strategy Cell at Air Headquarters and was among the first officers to establish military-to-military ties with Israel in 1997 when he was Defence Attache in the Indian Embassy at Tel Aviv.


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