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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

From Today's Papers - 13 Dec 2011





China to open military base in Indian Ocean
Beijing, December 12 In a move that may cause unease in India, China today announced that it will set up its first military base abroad in the Indian Ocean island of Seychelles to “seek supplies and recuperate” facilities for its navy.  The naval fleet may seek supplies or recuperate at appropriate harbours in Seychelles or other countries as needed during escort missions, the Chinese Defence Ministry announced here today.  China has already cemented its foothold in the Indian Ocean by signing contract with the UN backed International Seabed Authority to gain rights to explore polymetallic sulphide ore deposit in Indian Ocean over the next 15 years.  The contract awarded this year to a Chinese association exclusive rights to explore a 10,000-sq-km of international seabed in the southwest Indian Ocean.  The base in Seychelles is regarded significant by analysts as China is about to launch its first aircraft carrier. It is currently undergoing final trials.  Playing down its significance, Chinese Defence Ministry statement today said it is international practice for naval fleets to re-supply at the closest port of a nearby state during long-distance missions.  Apparently commenting on a recent report that China will establish a military base in Seychelles, it said Chinese naval fleets have re-supply facilities at harbours in Djibouti, Oman and Yemen since China sent its first convoy to the Gulf of Aden in 2008.  The decision to establish its first naval base abroad was taken during Chinese Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie’s goodwill visit to Seychelles earlier this month.  During the visit, Seychelles Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam said his country has invited China to set up a military base on the archipelago to beef up the fight against piracy.  “We have invited the Chinese government to set up a military presence on Mahe to fight the pirate attacks that the Seychelles face on a regular basis,” Adam was quoted as saying in the media reports.  “For the time being China is studying this possibility because she has economic interests in the region and Beijing is also involved in the fight against piracy,” he said.  During Liang’s visit, the two sides exchanged views on their countries’ and armies’ cooperation, as well as on the global and regional situation, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.  Seychelles appreciates China’s efforts to maintain safe navigation on the Indian Ocean, as well as the support it has granted to Seychelles, the ministry said.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20111213/main3.htm
Kargil war: George Fernandes ‘approved’ purchase of 20 radars at higher price
SC amicus curiae says he caused loss of `9.86 cr in the deal with Israel R Sedhuraman Legal Correspondent  New Delhi, December 12 A report on the alleged irregularities in the purchase of arms and ammunition for the May-July 1999 Kargil conflict has held the then Defence Minister George Fernandes and the Defence Secretary “directly responsible” for the financial loss in the procurement of 20 radars from Israel for Rs 9.86 crore.  Pointing out that the contract for the radars was concluded with Israel’s ELTA in February 2000 at a higher unit price, the report said: “There was no basis for concluding the contract at a higher price with a firm with which there was an existing contract” for the purchase of 150 radars at a lower price.   The report has been prepared by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who is assisting the Supreme Court as amicus curiae in a PIL on the alleged scam, after studying the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the CBI, which had probed the contracts.  There was no ground to justify the emergency purchase as the Kargil conflict, known as Operation Vijay, had actually ended in May 1999 and was declared as “officially over” in January 2000, says the report submitted today to a Bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai.  The government already had a contract for the purchase of 150 radars from ELTA at a lower price and the deliveries were to have commenced by the time the 20 radars under the second agreement were received (three in August 2000 and 17 January 2001), the report said.  “The proposal (for the emergency contract) was submitted to the Defence Minister in December 1999. The Defence Minister was informed that the 20 radars were expected in July 2000 as against the order of 150 radars already issued. The Defence Minister questioned whether the second order was necessary. The file was re-submitted in February 2000 impressing operational necessity. After discussing with Defence Secretary, the Minister approved on 23/2/2000 and the contract was signed on 29/2/2000,” the report said.  While the CBI had concluded that no artificial emergency was created and ELTA was not shown any undue favour, the government had maintained that though the hostilities were over the continued tense security environment had necessitated the purchase.  The amicus, however, pointed out that both the CBI and the government had ignored five lapses in the contract: payment of higher price; overlooking the offer from another manufacturer based in the UK; non-inclusion of the condition for immediate supply; cessation of the conflict and the fact as to why the radars under the old contract were not delivered in time.  “It is evident that financial loss has been caused with oblique motive to the Union of India and the then Defence Secretary and the Defence Minister are directly responsible. Clearly, the relaxed purchasing rules meant for Kargil War have been unauthorisedly utilised for this purpose. The explanation that Line of Control continued to be tense will not justify the aforesaid act. It is a clear case for both departmental and criminal action,” the report said.  The amicus also questioned the wisdom of not including Fernandes, who was the Defence Minister in the NDA government, in the chargesheet filed in the case relating to the purchase of 500 aluminum caskets and 3,000 body bags at a cost of Rs 6.55 crore.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20111213/nation.htm#5
US forces set fire to equipment before leaving Pakistan airbase   Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/us-forces-set-fire-to-equipment-before-leaving-pakistan-airbase-157220?pfrom=home-otherstories&cp
Islamabad:  US personnel set fire to all their redundant equipment before vacating Pakistan's Shamsi airbase that had been used to launch drone attacks, an official said.  The US completed evacuation of the airbase on Sunday and Frontier Corps personnel promptly took over.  A security official told the daily Dawn that US forces had left virtually nothing there and they set all their redundant and useless equipment on fire before leaving.  Pakistan had set a Dec 11 deadline for the US to vacate the airbase after NATO helicopter gunships targeted two border posts in Mohmand Agency Nov 26, killing two dozen soldiers and sparking outrage in the country.  The US has been using the Shamsi airbase for nearly a decade for military operations in Afghanistan and drone strikes in Pakistan's mountainous tribal regions.  US troops started vacating the base last week and had removed the control system used for drone attacks in the first phase.    Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/us-forces-set-fire-to-equipment-before-leaving-pakistan-airbase-157220?pfrom=home-otherstories&cp
http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/us-forces-set-fire-to-equipment-before-leaving-pakistan-airbase-157220?pfrom=home-otherstories
Ajai Shukla: Reassure the army on AFSPA
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi December 13, 2011, 0:32 IST  India is witnessing a bitterly polarised debate over Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s proposal to revoke the Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Srinagar and Badgam in Kashmir, and from Jammu and Samba towns in the Jammu region. Abdullah, backed by broad swathes of the media, wants a peace dividend for his people after a year of relative normalcy. This could be provided, he says, by loosening AFSPA, an emergency law that has since 1990 given army soldiers in J&K the legal backing to search, apprehend and shoot to kill. The army, backed opportunistically by the Bharatiya Janata Party, insists that the fragility of the current peace makes it too early to loosen AFSPA.   In its opposition to loosening the AFSPA, the army has been painted as an unreasoning bully with an aversion to Kashmiris and a pernicious addiction to violence. This is not true. The army has, in fact, offered a persuasive counter-argument in meetings of the Unified Command Headquarters, with Omar Abdullah listening in.
The AFSPA was legislated by Parliament for J&K on July 5, 1990, when “Azadi”-chanting mobs took over swathes of the valley. AFSPA’s special powers apply in “disturbed areas” that must be notified by New Delhi or the state governor. Today Abdullah wants the denotification of Srinagar, Badgam, Jammu and Samba as “disturbed areas”.  The army says not yet, because Kashmir presents not just a law-and-order problem but an existential threat to India. It counters the J&K CM’s assurance that AFSPA can easily be re-imposed if the situation deteriorates by arguing that this might be politically impossible. It worries about the logistical lifelines to army outposts on the Line of Control, which runs through Srinagar and Badgam. The generals also reject Abdullah’s contention that the army does not operate in Srinagar and Badgam and, therefore, does not need AFSPA there; they say that while the CRPF mans checkposts inside those towns, army columns dominate the outskirts and keep militants at bay. The approaches to Srinagar airfield, used by civilian airliners and military aircraft, are secured by the military. Within Srinagar itself lies the massive cantonment of Badami Bagh, headquarters of 15 Corps, which is responsible for the defence of the Valley.  Top military commanders tell Abdullah that the peace of 2011 was a tactical pause after three straight years of “intifada-type” street agitation. This would let a fatigued populace recover, intensify participation from intellectuals and students, and neutralise the J&K Police. After this mid-course correction, 2012 could well see a resumption of the agitation.  The army rejects Abdullah’s implicit assumption that J&K has transitioned from conflict to “post-conflict stabilisation”. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar apparently urged Kashmiri hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani during their meeting in Delhi in July to prepare for a long struggle still ahead. Equally worrying for the army is Srinagar’s slothfulness in reintegrating over 20,000 surrendered militants, who could rejoin a reinvigorated struggle.  Running alongside the army’s security case is a competing narrative of political transformation. After three years of street protests in Kashmir, Home Minister P Chidambaram’s Rajya Sabha speech on August 5, 2010, admitting that J&K was “a unique problem requiring a unique solution”, was followed by sustained internal peace-building. That autumn, a massive rally at Langate in north Kashmir saw participants renouncing violent protest if human rights violations were prevented. Then, Kashmir’s moderate separatists spoke out against killings by militants after Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith leader, Maulana Showkat Shah, was assassinated in Srinagar in April. The Lashkar-e-Taiba was forced by popular pressure to issue an apology. The peace of 2011 and record tourist arrivals in Srinagar are a reality; the army’s prediction of the coming storm may remain just an apprehension.  What neither side will contest is that AFSPA has become a lightning rod for Kashmiri discontent. It has developed into an evocative symbol of repression, resulting in the army being besmirched in controversies in which it played no part, such as the police firing on Kashmiri demonstrators in 2010. It has also allowed ISI propagandists like Ghulam Nabi Fai to propagate the notion of “India’s military repression of Kashmiris”.  AFSPA presents an urgent political decision. New Delhi must decide whether J&K is still a conflict zone or it is time to reinforce Kashmiri peace. Omar Abdullah is sagacious in declaring that this cannot be a public debate.  If AFSPA is to be loosened, the army’s concerns must be assuaged. Key parties must reassure the army that the re-imposition of AFSPA will not be politicised. Kashmiri separatist and citizen groups must pledge not to allow protests to interfere with army movements to and from the border. A refusal to provide such a commitment would place on them the onus for AFSPA’s continuation. The state administration would need to permanently position J&K policemen and magistrates with army formations so that operations can be launched in a non-AFSPA environment without delay or leakage of information. Most importantly, a focused internal political dialogue must be launched in Kashmir to reassure the army that yet another hard-won peace will not be squandered by political lethargy.
http://business-standard.com/india/news/ajai-shukla-reassurearmyafspa/458323/
Shortage of armed forces firing ranges: Antony
By IANS,  New Delhi: The Indian armed forces face a shortage of field firing ranges (FFR) to practice the use of weapons with the number dwindling from 104 to 66 in the last decade, parliament was informed Monday.  Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in written replies in the Lok Sabha that 38 FFRs were deleted from the list in 2009 due to their not being available after denotification on account of being declared wildlife sanctuaries or not being renotified by the state governments.  "The number of FFRs has declined in the last decade from 104 to 66 (12 acquired and 44 notified). Thirty-eight ranges have been deleted from the list of FFRs in 2009 due to their not being available (due to denotification) on account of being declared as wildlife sanctuaries or to their not being renotified by the state governments," Antony said.  He said FFRs are required to be renotified from time to time by the respective state governments after clearance from the ministry of environment and forests has been received.  "Due to the increase in population, spread of habitation and development, encroachments, areas are being declared as wildlife sanctuary/reserve forests, and environmental pressures, the state governments are often disinclined to renotify ranges in their jurisdiction," he said.  Concerted efforts are being made at all levels to ensure timely renotification of the denotified ranges, the defence minister said, adding that one-time compensatory afforestation charges, as required by the respective state governments, have been paid in case of many ranges to ensure their long-term renotification and continued availability.  "In addition, efforts are on by the army to impress upon the respective state governments and ministry of environment and forests the need for renotification/acquisition of FFRs," he added.
http://twocircles.net/2011dec12/shortage_armed_forces_firing_ranges_antony.html
Three Indian blunders in the 1971 war
Pakistan army officers got away without being tried for genocide in 1971: Colonel Anil Athale (retd) identifies India's three blunders in that war.  The 1971 Indo-Pak war was one of those rarest of rare occasions in our history when India took the military initiative.  Politically, the war began in April 1971 when Pakistan pushed nearly nine million refugees into India through a campaign of rape, murder and terror that statistically comes close to Hitler's genocide of Jews in the Second World War, in scale and brutality.  Military force remained the only option when it became clear that the rest of the world had decided to ignore this crime. India bided its time till the winter snows closed the Himalayan passes, rendering Chinese intervention difficult.  Around November 26, 1971, India began to nibble at East Pakistani territory. Pakistan, instead of cutting its losses and calling quits, in a desperate gamble escalated the conflict by launching air/ground attacks in the West on December 3, 1971. By escalation, it hoped to rope in China and the US in widening the conflict and hoped for a UN intervention a la Kashmir.  The Indian Air Force achieved remarkable success when within the first 48 hours it achieved complete air superiority in the Eastern theatre of war. This enabled the advancing army columns to move without any fear of detection even in daytime.  With supply from the air assured, the army did not have to be dependent on opening of roads, which were heavily defended by the Pakistanis. The five division-strong Indian forces advanced from three directions and secured choke points well in the rear.  The bypassed Pak forces had no option but to up stick and attack the Indian troops in order to go back to Dhaka. This was a classic case of 'offensive strategy' and defensive tactics devised by the indomitable General J F R Jacob.  These tactics were reminiscent of the Israeli tactics of 1967 war when they bypassed the Egyptian forces in front and seized the passes in the rear (the Mitla and Giddi passes in the Sinai mountains).  The Indian Army in Bangladesh similarly bypassed the Pakistani forces on the border and headed for the river ferries/crossings/bridges in the rear. This war strategy took advantage of the fact of modern warfare that tactically 'defence' is always stronger than offence.  The Eastern prong led by Lieutenant General Sagat Singh found a chance opening and exploited it. In 24 hours, 12 small helicopters of the air force ferried brigade strength across a mile wide Meghan river.  The Pakistani defenders were totally taken aback and Indian troops reached Dhaka by December 13-14. The navy had blockaded the sea and All India Radio constantly drummed into the Pak soldiers that they had no choice but to surrender.  Surrender by the 93,000 strong garrison was only a matter of time.  It is interesting to note that the Indian troops had less than 1:2 superiority and were on the offensive. Normally that means more casualties. But it is tribute to Indian general-ship that the Indian loss was 2,000 men as against that of Pak at 6,000.  Credit for this goes to the dash and efficiency of the three services. The Bangladesh attack has been compared by many to the famous Blitzkrieg of the Germans. It must be never forgotten that the military success was a joint Indo-Bangladeshi effort.  Without the whole-hearted support from the Bangladeshis, this war could have never been won. The people of Bangladesh paid a very heavy price for their freedom.
http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-three-indian-blunders-in-the-1971-war/20111212.htm
From eye to AI: DRDO to help win future wars with robots
Chennai, Dec. 12:   A “robot soldier” armed with ammunition fighting hundreds of human soldiers in a war. This is not in a Spielberg movie but a plan that India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is working on to replace “humans” with “robot soldiers” in warfare.  Robots on battlefield, an interesting topic for science fiction, is being researched as a possible future means of fighting wars. Several countries have developed various types of robots. India is also joining the race.  “Whatever a soldier will do, a robot soldier should be able to do. That's the plan,” said Dr V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister and Secretary, Defence R&D. If the human is doing a search, the robot soldier will also be able to do that. If a human is engaged in a fire-fight, , the robot soldier could do that as well, he said.  “We are working on the project to have robot soldiers by 2020 or 2030,” he said at the Combat Vehicle Research and Development Centre in Avadi, a Chennai suburb. “A lot of effort and coordination among various agencies in the Defence need to work on this.”  The robot soldiers can do multiple tasks, including fighting humans, carrying loads of ammunitions and they can be controlled from remote locations. This would help the Defence in not deploying people in areas that is very difficult to access. The robot soldiers can also carry huge payloads for mine detection and surveillance, he said.  “We need to include a lot of artificial intelligence to avoid collision. Also, a lot of robot soldiers need to communicate with each other in the battlefield. Enormous amount of database and analytic intelligence is required for this,” he said. Mules  In a different project, the DRDO is planning to replace the mule with “robot mules” to carry heavy loads to places such as Siachen.  The Indian Defence has nearly 10 lakh soldiers with two lakh more to be appointed in a year or two. Though not all of them could be replaced by robots, even a small percentage of people guarding the country in high altitude terrains such as Siachen being replaced by the robot soldiers could be of huge benefit to the Defence, said an official with the Defence research unit who did not want to be identified.
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/article2708515.ece?ref=wl_opinion
Aerostats: So that Indian Army can watch from above
Realising the importance of securing its own eyes in the sky, India is developing two more aerostats.  The aerostats, which would be designed and developed by the Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE), will be an add-on to the tried-and-tested Akashdeep aerostat.  After Akashdeep—which was successfully tested up to 1-km altitude at Agra—the target altitude for the upcoming aerostats will be 3km and 6km.  The proposed aerostats, which can be used as gap-fillers for radars, are likely to have the capability to carry out surveillance up to a radius of 450km-500km.  Akashdeep has a surveillance capacity of up to 100km.  Apart from the armed forces, the paramilitary forces too can use the aerostat for surveillance activities during night and in low-visibility conditions, apart from having the capability to intercept a variety of communications.  Akashdeep, which was demonstrated at Aero India, 2011, is capable of carrying electro-optic and communication intelligence system (COMINT) payloads for surveillance.  The aerostat’s gimbals, with 360° azimuth freedom, can carry out steering, scanning and tracking with high precision.  The ADRDE, a Defence Research and Development Organisation laboratory based in Agra, would also be making improvement on Akashdeep by improving its fabric and a few other features.  India requires about a dozen aerostats to act as gap-fillers on the border areas and had bought two Israeli EL/M-2083 aerostat radars.  One of them was damaged in 2009 and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India had pulled up the Indian Air Force for the mishap. This damaged aerostat would be made operational only by 2012.
http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report_aerostats-so-that-indian-army-can-watch-from-above_1624591
Indian-Polish special forces exercise "Tiger Claw 1"
For the first time in the history of the Polish Special Forces commandos took part in an exercise in the tropical jungle. On 15-28 November 2011 in the territory of India held a combined Indo-Polish special forces exercise pk. Tiger Claw first  The aim was to include exercises to improve the ability to conduct combined operations przeciwterrorystycznych in a tropical jungle. Exercise was held in Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) capable of Mizoram (India). The exercise was attended by operators of the Polish Armed Forces Special Forces and soldiers of the 21st Indian special forces battalion.  In the opinion of the Polish Ambassador in New Delhi, Professor Peter KÅ‚odkowskiego "The first in the history of the two countries joint military exercise proves that the relations between the Polish and India there has been a historic rapprochement that will give impetus to further military cooperation between our countries." According to the Indian "Polish Special Forces soldiers presented a high combat value, efficiently and professionally performing tasks received under extreme environmental conditions."  Both the Polish side, and India have expressed their willingness to continue existing cooperation.  Exercise is practically marked the beginning of cooperation between Polish and Indian special forces. Special Forces commandos during exercise have acquired valuable experience to enable them to include survival and conducting special operations in a tropical jungle. Moreover, during exercise were verified previously used operational procedures and the usefulness of used equipment.
http://defenceforumindia.com/indian-army/28621-indo-polish-special-forces-exercise-tiger-claw.html

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