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Saturday, 14 January 2012

From Today's Papers - 14 Jan 2012
Obama’s new defence strategy
What can India learn from US?
by P.R. Chari

Spurred by three major concerns — the winding down of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an ailing economy and the perceived challenge from Iran and China — President Obama has decided to revamp the US defence strategy and reduce the defence budget to grapple with the new situation. He made a rare visit to the Pentagon to declare his new strategic guidance for the armed forces, flanked by his four Service Chiefs and the Defence Secretary, to underline its significance for all concerned.

What are the details of these defence reductions and the new defence strategy? A reduction of $450 billion is envisaged over the next decade. And since the “supercommittee” consisting of the two Houses of Congress has failed to agree on how the overall deficit should be bridged, a law would be triggered that requires the defence budget to be reduced by another $500 billion over the decade starting 2013. These cuts come atop $350 billion in weapons programme given up earlier. Consequently, defence spending would reduce from its present level of 4.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent of the GDP by 2021. The Wall Street Journal has commented, “The real message to the world is that the administration wants to scale back US leadership.”

The key elements of these defence cuts include three important aspects: First, a reduction of around 14 per cent in the ground forces (80,000 troops from the Army and the Marines) is being envisaged by giving up the shibboleth that the United States must be prepared at all times to fight in two separate theatres. This capability could be generated, if required, by mobilising the reserves, and reversing the downsising exercise. These troop reductions would be designed to derive armed forces that are leaner, but also “agile, flexible and ready for a full range of contingencies and threats.”

Second, outmoded weapon systems would be abandoned that had been conceived in the Cold War context. This would include expensive weapon systems like the F-35 Stealth aircraft, and by effecting some reduction in the nuclear arsenal.

Third, investments in cyber warfare and intelligence procurement through improved surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities would be increased. Emphasis would also be laid on improving counter-insurgency missions, countering weapons of mass destruction, maintaining the nuclear deterrent, improving special operations forces, and the capabilities of drones on the reasoning that they have greater relevance for the future roles confronting the US national strategy.

Details of how these key measures would be implemented are still being worked out, and would be announced over the next few weeks. But it is noteworthy that all military establishments face similar problems. For example, the costs of modernising defence establishments and procuring sophisticated weapon systems needed to meet the requirements of the modern battlefield have progressively become more expensive. So have the costs of maintaining them over their life-cycles. Simultaneously, the costs of recruiting and retaining suitably qualified personnel to operate these weapon systems have also risen astronomically. The result is a double-edged pressure on the defence budget. However, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations have become an integral part of the operational tasks assigned to the armed forces, which requires a better trained and motivated soldier in contrast to one patrolling the border. Not unexpectedly, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, the Republican candidates engaged in the Presidential nominations race, have criticised the new defence strategy without offering any serious suggestions on how the yawning financial crisis could be handled.

It is clear that these defence cuts will cause pain. The American military has traditionally been an important source of employment — a large proportion of its recruits being coloured people. At a time when unemployment levels are high and obstinately refusing to come under control, the loss of direct employment in the military will have its own repercussions. The defence cuts would also increase indirect unemployment. For instance, the gigantic arms industries in the United States would suffer due to the austerity observed by its main customer, adding to layoffs. Besides, the US, as a matter of policy, has made heavy investments as a part of its R & D defence expenditure — around 8 to 13 per cent of the total defence budget, and over 50 per cent of total federal spending on research —with the clear objective of maintaining its technological edge over other nations. The spin-off effect of these large outlays has been the funding of several private establishments and university departments to conduct fundamental research on frontier technologies like lasers that have profited both the military and the civil sector.

It would, of course, amount to overstating the case to urge that spending more on military R & D would be better than funding civil R & D establishments directly, like in medicine. However, the most socially disruptive effect of reductions in defence spending could be on veterans’ welfare; the percentage of the unemployed and wholly indigent ex-servicemen in the US today is significantly higher than what obtains in the general population.

So, what are the lessons for India? Waste, inefficiency and aimless procurement are not the sole prerogative of the American military. A close examination of the Indian defence expenditure from this viewpoint is also warranted, which must start with redefining what are the expected present and future roles of the armed forces. How relevant, for instance, is the expectation that India must prepare to fight a two-front conventional war against its two historical adversaries? How well prepared are the armed forces to deal with the current central challenge to national security, which is left extremism that is afflicting a good part of central and eastern India? And what are the new dimensions of maritime security that underpin the imperative of wider multi-lateral military cooperation to meet the Chinese expansion into the Indian Ocean? A redefining, in short, of the real threats to India’s national security is urgently required to suggest the new roles that are emerging for its armed forces, which would enable wasteful expenditure to be avoided.
Tough-talking Gilani draws the line
Says choice is between dictatorship, democracy
Tribune News Service & agencies

Islamabad, January 13
In a crucial emergency session of the National Assembly today, Pakistan’s beleaguered Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called upon Parliament to decide what should prevail in the country, democracy or dictatorship. Earlier, President Asif Ali Zardari cut short his visit to Dubai and returned here early in the morning.

The session was adjourned till Monday, when the National Assembly is expected to adopt or vote on a resolution expressing “full confidence and trust” of the elected House in the political leadership.

The same day, a full 17-member bench of the Supreme Court will hear the government’s response to the ultimatum served by the court this week. The court has been hearing petitions on the government’s refusal to re-open graft cases against President Zardari and eight thousand other politicians. Zardari has claimed exemption from prosecution under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) promulgated in the year 2000, a deal worked out by Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan Muslim league chief Nawaz Sharif.

To add to the discomfiture of the government, the sacked Defence Secretary said on Friday that he would challenge his dismissal in court. “There was no show-cause served, no inquiry held and no reason given,” maintained retired Lt-Gen Naeem Lodhi.

In Parliament, Prime Minister Gilani stoutly maintained that the Government was neither against the military nor against the judiciary. Claiming that the government had always backed the other two institutions, widely believed to have come together against the government, Gilani pointed out that PPP leaders had gone to jail for the independence of the judiciary. But he maintained that all state institutions must accept the Parliament to be supreme.

“ We have received a mandate to run the government for five years. If some people now think that the mandate should be reduced to four years, let them move the Parliament and amend the Constitution,” he asserted while listing the government’s achievements.

There is a broad, political consensus against any military takeover. The Army is also reluctant to undertake any political adventure in view of the challenging ground situation. It is clearly averse to be held responsible for the poor economy, rising unemployment and growing fundamentalism and aggression of terror groups. While the military is clearly gunning for the civilian government, judging by its public statements warning of ‘dire and grievous consequences’ for the country, it would like the judiciary to bell the cat.

The US administration is also worried and favours smooth ties between civilian and military leaders. It needs stability in Pakistan in order to normalise the situation in Afghanistan. But a Reuters report quoted close aides of President Zardari saying that Zardari is “ stubborn and headstrong and strongly desires to leave a legacy as the man, who finally got the ballot box to prevail”. Pakistan’s Generals, however, see him as both corrupt and inept.

The Generals, who had urged the Supreme Court to investigate the ‘Memogate’ controversy, are waiting for the key witness, Mansoor Ijaz, to turn up before the court and depose. They hope that the testimony and evidence produced by Ijaz, who has indicated his plan to bring in phone records and text message, would lead the trail to President Zardari. In that eventuality, the court could hold the President guilty of treason and call upon the Generals to act against him.
Army Chief plays down age row, terms it an issue of integrity
New Delhi, Jan 13 (ANI): The Chief of Army Staff, General V. K. Singh, has termed the ongoing controversy concerning his date of birth to be a personal issue, and said that it held great degree of integrity and honour for him.

"The issue has always been and I am emphasising this, has always been that of integrity and honour and some of you who are in possession of all kinds of papers and letters and top secret files, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, are aware of what I have written from time to time that the issue is of integrity and honour, right from the time this came up or rather came to the forefront," General Singh told the media here on Thursday.
General V.K. Singh had earlier on Tuesday disassociated himself with the reports of fresh representations by him concerning his date of birth.

Reports in the media had indicated that General V.K. Singh had written to the Government that his date of birth was May 10, 1951 and not 1950 as entered on the basis of his application when he entered the National Defence Academy.

The Defence Ministry had not accepted his earlier representation and the reports last week suggested that General V.K. Singh might approach the Courts for rectification. ccording to certain reports, the controversy stemmed from different sets of records in the adjutant general and military secretary branches of the Indian Army Headquarters.

While the adjutant general's branch that deals with pay, perks and pensions maintains 1951 as his year of birth, the military secretary branch that deals with appointments and promotions has 1950 in its records.

The Ministry of Defence had earlier rejected Army Chief General V. K. Singh's statutory complaint seeking a correction of his date of birth in the army records.

According to reports, General Singh has been conveyed that that he will have to retire from service on May 31, 2012 on completion of his two-year tenure.

General Singh, who has consistently claimed that he was born in 1951 and not 1950 as maintained, had in his statutory complaint asked the Defence Ministry to consider May 10, 1951 as his date of birth.

The Army Chief had earlier filed the statutory complaint with Defence Minister A. K. Antony after the government issued an order on July 21 in which it said that it will consider May 10, 1950 as his date of birth. (ANI)
Defence IQ Releases Free Online Armoured Vehicles Seminars
LONDON, January 13, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- As the International Armoured Vehicles 2012 exhibition and conference prepares to get underway in the UK this February, organisers of the event have made several video seminars with armoured vehicle leaders available online.

In the final run-up to this year's International Armoured Vehicles flagship event in Farnborough, Defence IQ is offering the chance to view four presentations conducted by global military and defence industry experts at recent regional events within the Armoured Vehicles series.

The 'Virtual Conference' seminars include the latest national updates from the following authoritative speakers:

Colonel P. J. Armstrong, Equipment Directorate, British Army Headquarters

Brigadier General Anders Carell, Head of Procurement-Land, FMV Sweden

Major General Anthony Cucolo III, Director- Force Development, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, US Army

Lt. Gen. (Retd) Dalip Bhardwaj, PVSM,VSM, Former Director General of Mechanised Forces, Indian Army

All of these video presentations can be accessed from today directly online at .

"It's a pleasure to be able to benefit the Armoured Vehicle community beyond the event itself, especially with the level of insight provided by these presentations," says Duraid Jalili, Director of International Armoured Vehicles.

"It's this kind of insight which is going to make this February's IAVs the best yet, where we have our most prestigious speaker faculty, real decision makers on upcoming strategic decisions, as well as expert technical insight on innovative post-Afghanistan equipment requirements, Through Life Support approaches, current IED threats and new armouring innovations."

The entire show, which comprises of a conference and exhibition hall, will take place at the FIVE in Farnborough, from 20-23 February 2012. According to the event website, the show is set to host thousands of visitors from 37 countries, 50+ senior military and government official speakers and 100 defence contractors and suppliers. The visitor profile is posted online.

Major OEMs such as General Dynamics, Thales, Tawazun, Saab, Oshkosh Defense, Nexter, Force Protection, BAE Systems, RUAG and Iveco are already confirmed as participants at the event.

Complete event information is available on the event website at . Visitor passes are free until February 2012. Applications for the free pass are being accepted online at . Entrance fees to the main conference will apply.
Plot seen in Indian army chief's age row
By Sudha Ramachandran

BANGALORE - India's Chief of Army Staff General Vijay Kumar Singh is at the center of a raging debate. Unlike his counterpart across the border in Pakistan, who is often in the spotlight for his political ambitions, the Indian army chief is caught in a controversy of less import. It is over his age.

The general claims that he is younger than what the country's civilian bureaucracy insists he is.

The spat could culminate in an unseemly civil-military confrontation in the courts, should Singh decide to seek judicial redress. It would be the first time in India's history that a serving army chief has challenged the government that appointed him in court .

A well-respected combat soldier and a brilliant strategist, Singh
Plot seen in Indian army chief's age row
By Sudha Ramachandran

BANGALORE - India's Chief of Army Staff General Vijay Kumar Singh is at the center of a raging debate. Unlike his counterpart across the border in Pakistan, who is often in the spotlight for his political ambitions, the Indian army chief is caught in a controversy of less import. It is over his age.

The general claims that he is younger than what the country's civilian bureaucracy insists he is.

The spat could culminate in an unseemly civil-military confrontation in the courts, should Singh decide to seek judicial redress. It would be the first time in India's history that a serving army chief has challenged the government that appointed him in court .

A well-respected combat soldier and a brilliant strategist, Singh

took over as army chief in March 2010. He maintains he was born on May 10, 1951, a fact supported by over a dozen documents, including his birth certificate, his school-leaving certificate and his passport. This is the date of birth that the office of the Adjutant General, the army's official record keeper, has for the army chief.

But according to records with the office of the Military Secretary, which handles promotions and postings, he was born on May 10, 1950, the date of birth mentioned in his application form for entrance into the National Defense Academy (NDA).

If he was born in 1950 he would have to retire on May 31 this year. If 1951 is his year of birth, he would retire in 2013. The Ministry of Defense has ruled that the army chief's year of birth is 1950 and hence he must retire on May 31 this year.

Singh argues that his term as army chief should end only in 2013. He maintains that the date of birth in his NDA application form is a mistake committed when he was 14 years old, by a teacher who filled in his form on his behalf. He says he had raised the issue of the discrepancy with his predecessors, General J J Singh and General Deepak Kapoor, and asked that the dates be reconciled but that neither acted on his request.

Stinging stories have been leaked to the media by both sides. Bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defense sneer at the army chief's "single-minded determination" to make 1951 his year of birth. They accuse him of petulance and say he is trying to get himself another year at the helm because of the perks and privileges that come with being a general.

They point out that under the rules any discrepancy in the date of birth should be reported within the first couple of years after entry into service. Why didn't Singh settle the issue earlier? He has been accused of fudging his age and of lying.

Singh insists that his honor is at stake; hence the dogged determination to clear his name. The issue is one of personal integrity, not of tenure, he says.

His supporters in the armed forces, both serving and retired, say that this is not just a personal battle between an aggrieved general and a civilian bureaucracy. Singh heads a 1.2 million-strong army. His humiliation will affect the morale of the soldiers as well as the image of the military as an institution.

On the face of it the controversy is over Singh's age. But scratch the surface and other issues emerge - succession, parochialism and corruption.

Obviously, Singh's date of birth and retirement impacts the line of succession. If he retires in May 2012, he would be succeeded by Lieutenant General Bikram Singh, who heads the Eastern Command of the Indian army.

However, if Singh retires next year, Lieutenant General K T Parnaik, who currently heads the Northern Command would become the army chief. The succession plan would be thrown out of gear should Singh resign in the next few months. If Singh's tenure is not completed, Lieutenant General Shankar Ghosh, who heads the Western Command, could succeed Singh.

Sources in the army say told Asia Times Online that back in 2005-2006, the then army chief General J J Singh insisted that V K Singh accept 1950 as his year of birth. The logic behind the move was apparently to ensure Singh's retirement as army chief in May 2012, clearing the way for Lieutenant General Bikram Singh, a Sikh like General J J Singh, to become the army chief.

If there is truth to this allegation, it is a worrying development as the Indian armed forces have held true to secular principles.

Analysts have also drawn attention to General V K Singh's tough stance on fighting corruption in the armed forces. It may be recalled that in 2008 when a scam involving transfer of 71 acres [28.7 hectares] of land adjacent to the Sukna army camp in West Bengal was transferred to a private educational trust, it was General V K Singh, then lieutenant general heading the Eastern Command, who dug in his heels to ensure that the role of General Avadesh Prakash, a close aide of the then army chief General Deepak Kapoor was unearthed.

Singh went against the wishes of Kapoor, who wanted only administrative action taken against Prakash and others, to insist on a court martial.

What does this have to do with General V K Singh's date of birth? In 2008, when army headquarters formally accepted 1950 - the year recorded by the Military Secretary as Singh's year of birth - the military secretary was Lieutenant General Prakash.

Singh has also promised stern action against all army officers who benefited from the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society, which was meant for army widows. Among those who could face punishment is Kapoor.

Clearly, there are many powerful people in the armed forces and the civilian bureaucracy who would like to see Singh's wings clipped, his tenure shortened and his credibility undermined. The confusion over his date of birth came in handy to them.

With the Defense Ministry rejecting Singh's statutory complaint to consider May 10, 1951, as his date of birth, the army chief has exhausted in-house remedies available to him. He can approach a court of law which can either be the Armed Forces Tribunal or the High Court.

When he filed the statutory complaint with the Defense Ministry, Singh became the first chief of the Indian army to do so. Should he take on the government in court, it will be another first to his credit (or discredit).

The government will be hoping that Singh will not go to court. It is believed that is working on a compromise solution.

Meanwhile, a new problem has surfaced with regard to who should succeed him. Frontrunner Lieutenant General Bikram Singh, it appears, was involved in a "fake encounter", or staged shooting, in Anantnag in Kashmir in 2001. A case has been filed in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. The past is coming back to haunt India's likely new army chief.
Army: China's Misadventure will lead to bloodshed
Any misadventure by China would cause enough bloodshed to draw the world's attention, a tough-talking army chief asserted on Thursday.
General VK Singh described the Chinese act of damaging a wall on the Indian side of the line of actual control (LAC) in July 2011 as "childish." The
chief said the Indian Army viewed that incident in Arunachal Pradesh's Yangtse sector as a childish act and it did not qualify as a skirmish.

"It was not a skirmish. The day it happens the whole world will come to know. If something were to happen, there will be enough noise and bloodshed and everyone will come to know," Singh told reporters at his customary news conference ahead of the 64th Army Day on January 15.

Reflective of Chinese assertiveness along the LAC, a patrolling party of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) attempted to scale and damaged a 250-metre wall on the Indian side on July 13, 2011.  Indian troops prevented the Chinese patrol from crossing the wall.

General Singh said, "It was akin to a child taking away some other child's toy and scoring brownie points."

The LAC between India and China is not demarcated and both sides have different perceptions of the border. Indian and Chinese troops patrol up to their respective perceptions of the LAC owing to perceived differences in the alignment of the border.

The chief's comments come on the heels of China denying visa to an Indian Air Force (IAF) officer who was part of a visiting military delegation, ostensibly because he hailedfrom Arunachal Pradesh, a state at the forefront of  a border dispute. New Delhi reacted by cutting the size of the 30-member delegation to half.

General Singh declined to comment on the visa row and its impact on bilateral defence ties saying the matter fell in the domain of the ministry of external affairs.
US forces had orders to target Indian Army in 1971
US forces had orders to target Indian Army in 1971

Indian Army

NEW DELHI: A set of freshly declassified top secret papers on the 1971 war show that US hostility towards India during the war with Pakistan was far more intense than known until now, said a report published in the Times of India.

The documents reveal that Indira Gandhi went ahead with her plan to liberate Bangladesh despite inputs that the Nixon Administration had kept three battalions of Marines on standby to deter India, and that the American aircraft carrier USS Enterprise had orders to target Indian Army facilities.

The documents show how Americans held back communication regarding Pakistan’s desire to surrender in Dhaka by almost a day.

That the American establishment had mobilized their 7th Fleet to the Bay of Bengal, ostensibly to evacuate US nationals, is public knowledge. But the declassified papers show Washington had planned to use the 7th Fleet to attack the Indian Army.

They also show that Nixon administration kept arming Pakistan despite having imposed an embargo on providing both Islamabad and New Delhi military hardware and support.

They suggest that India, exasperated by continuing flow of American arms and ammunition, had considered intercepting three Pakistani vessels carrying war stores months before the war. The plan was dropped against the backdrop of the Indian foreign ministry’s assessment that the interception could trigger hostilities.

The pro-Pak bias of the then US President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is vividly brought out by their decision to keep three battalions of Marines on standby: a decision which has so far not found mention in any record of the 1971 war.

On December 14, Gen A. A. K Niazi, Pakistan’s military commander for erstwhile East Pakistan, told the American consul-general in Dhaka that he was willing to surrender. The message was relayed to Washington, but it took the US 19 hours to relay it to New Delhi. Files suggest senior Indian diplomats suspected the delay was because Washington was possibly contemplating military action against India

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