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Monday, 16 January 2012

From Today's Papers - 16 Jan 2012
Don’t take the flag from me, General
by Harwant Singh

Pride in one’s job is a quality becoming increasingly rare these days. Fierce pride in ones work is even rarer, though much valued in the military. A proud workman, when confronted with a difficult task, would rather seek guidance to carry on than just give up and hand it over to someone else.

It was a hot summer day at the Naraingarh Field Firing Ranges, and I was putting my squadron tank gunners through various firing practices. The tank on which I was standing and supervising the performance of gunners developed a problem with the loading of ammunition. A high explosive shell did not fully load and a part of it was stuck outside the breach chamber.

Since firing from this tank had gone on for quite some time, the barrel and the breach were overheated. Thus, there was the risk of propellant charge in the shell igniting. Such an occurrence could be fatal for the crew and could result in a fire inside the tank. So, I told the crew to come out and that I would go in and attend to the problem. While all other crew members came out fast, the tank’s gunner, Nahar Singh, said, “I am not coming out and that you, sir, are not to get into the tank.” It was his job and that he would attend to the problem himself and accept the risk. He asked me as to what he needed to do to get the shell fully into the breach chamber.

Nahar Singh appeared adamant and there was no point pushing the issue any further. So, I did not get into the tank but briefed him on the three-four steps he must immediately take to resolve the problem. He followed the instructions and the shell got fully loaded into the breach chamber. I told him to immediately fire on any target he could see. Thus a possible accident was averted.

This incident brought to my mind a case from the American Civil War. General Joseph Johnston, who commanded one half of the Federal Forces, had been conducting a long and successful retreat against the superior forces of General Sherman. At one of the delaying positions, Johnston found a part of his front collapsing and a gap developing in the defence line. Unless that gap was immediately filled with troops, the enemy could exploit the situation and jeopardise the safety of the entire force.

Johnston had no reserves left, and the only available unit had suffered heavy casualties and had been pulled back to rest and recoup. Johnston galloped to the unit and found that the only surviving officer was going around looking for his missing brother.

Those days the practice was that wherever the unit flag ( also called Standard ) was carried, its personnel followed the flag. Johnston wanted to carry the flag to where a gap in the defence line was developing. Reaching out for the unit flag held aloft by Sergeant Roberts, Johnston tried to take the flag, from the sergeant. Roberts still firmly gripping the flag told the general, “Don’t take the flag from me, General. Just tell me where to take it and I will do so.” Johnston then guided the sergeant with his flag to the place where the a gap in the defences was developing The unit personnel followed the flag and thus an adverse situation was averted.
Clueless on end to age row, says Army Chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 15
Maintaining that he was against a “public debate” on the controversy over his age, Army Chief General VK Singh today said he had no idea as to when the issue would be resolved. “I have got no clue and I am working as usual,” Gen Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the Army Day parade here.

Parrying questions, he said he had already stated a lot of things on the subject. “Actually, there is no requirement for me to say anything anymore. The reason is that whatever I say, something of it gets misinterpreted.”

He maintained there was no need to give any spin or add wings to the controversy. He also refused to respond to a query as to whether he would accept the government decision to treat his date of birth as May 10, 1950, as mentioned on his UPSC entrance form for the National Defence Academy (NDA) and not as May 10, 1951, the date on his school leaving certificate.

Under the government decision, he is due to retire on May 31 this year.

Asked about Defence Minister AK Antony expressing confidence in him, Gen Singh said he appreciated it and would try to measure up to the minister’s sentiments. Nevertheless, he said he was working for the organisation.

Responding to a remark that the ministry had already settled the issue, he said he had nothing more to say on the subject.
Army bravehearts feted in Bangalore
Shubhadeep Choudhury/TNS

Bangalore, January 15
Three insurgency-hit states of India — J&K, Assam and Manipur — were the theatres from where the Indian Army personnel were mostly picked up for gallantry awards, which were given away by Southern Command chief Lt Gen AK Singh at the investiture ceremony held here today.

Five Sena Medals were awarded posthumously. Two of the five recipients got martyred in anti-terrorist operations in Kupwara district of Kashmir, two others were helicopter pilots based at Nasik and one died while trying to save labourers from a flash flood.

The two soldiers awarded gallantry awards posthumously for engaging terrorists belonged to the Madras Regiment. Fighting for their country far away from their homes in Tamil Nadu, the two continued their advance against a group of terrorists despite receiving gunshot wounds. Three terrorists were killed in the encounter in which Sepoy Rajendran and Sepoy Panchavarnam also laid down their lives.

Major Atul Gharje and Major Bhanu Chander of the Army Aviation Squadron were awarded Gallantry Medals posthumously for maneuvering their tottering helicopter away from a densely populated locality and crashing in a deserted area.

A total of 31 Sena Medals for gallentry (including five awarded posthumously) were awarded today. Twenty-one (21) Vishisht Seva Medals and five Sena Medals for distinguished services were also presented.

Four of the 31 gallantry award winners got the honours for engaging terrorists in Assam. Major Gaurav Bhatia of Field Artillery Regiment and Lance Havildar Lava K B were awarded gallantry medals for counter insurgency operations in Udalguri and Kokrajhar districts of Assam, respectively. Both these districts are strongholds of the Bodo militants. Lava had killed a militant in a single combat in the jungles of Kokrajhar district on July 26, 2010.

Gaurav Bhatia shot a militant who was later identified as the self-styled lieutenant of the dreaded Bodo Security Force. He was evading the security forces for two decades. An explosive expert, who was notorious for his ruthlessness, he was the kingpin of subversive as well as extortion activities in lower Assam. Large quantity of arms and ammunition along with incriminating documents relating to the national security were recovered from him.

Major Amandeep Singh Aulakh of the Dogra Regiment also received gallantry award for killing a Bodo militant in Baksha district of Assam. Lance Naik Pawan of the Rajputana Rifles was awarded gallantry medal for engaging ULFA militants in Assam’s Nagaon district.

Major MK Shekhar of the Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) and Major Ashish Swaroop of Armoured Corps received gallantry medals for action against Naga militants (NSCN-IM) in Manipur’s Chandel district. Major Aman Ahluwalia (MLI) received gallantry medal for an operation against the Meitei militants in Imphal in Manipur. Lt RK Mohapatra of Sikh Light Infantry got gallantry medal for killing two terrorists in East Garo Hills in Meghalaya in June 2010. The shootouts at J&K, for which army personnel were awarded gallantry medals today, took place mostly in Kupwara, Poonch and Pulwama districts.

Three gallantry medals were given for showing exemplary courage during relief and rescue operations. Sepoy Rakesh Kumar Gupta (Army Service Corps) was awarded gallantry medal posthumously for trying to save labourers from flash flood. Lt. Varun Khajuria (Grenadiers) received the Sena Medal (Gallantry) for evacuating ski trainees in Gulmarg in Kashmir. Lt. Col. Siddharth Khanna of Army Aviation (R&O Flight) got gallantry medal for a successful evacuation mission carried out by him in Arunachal Pradesh in 2010.
DRDO developing laser warheads for missiles
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
With a series of successful ballistic missile tests over the past year under its belt, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is shifting focus from convectional explosive warheads to developing high-energy directed warheads for specific missiles.

These warheads would be used on application of lasers, electrical energy or electromagnetic pulses to destroy the intended target instead of using explosives.

Besides reducing the size and payload of the missile, these would offer a very high degree of accuracy as their effect can be directed in a particular direction.

“High energy directed warheads is a key area for weaponisation in future,” Dr Avinash Chander, Chief Controller, Missiles and Strategic Systems, said during his visit to the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory here today.

“We have also developed technology to miniaturise warheads and developed shaped charges with controlled detonation without compromising on their lethality and effectiveness,” he added.

One of the most obvious applications of high energy warheads is in anti-ballistic missile systems, whose effectiveness could be considerably enhanced vis-à-vis the use of explosive-based warheads.

Last year, DRDO had successfully tested a high-altitude interceptor missile, based on a modified version of the Prithvi, under its ongoing ballistic missile defence programme.

There have also been reports of a hypersonic anti-ballistic missile being developed.

While some technologies in the field of high energy warheads and ballistic missile defence have been validated, there are some areas wherein work is underway.

“We are establishing an independent centre for research in directed high energy systems for developing warheads that can be used on multiple launch platforms,” Dr Chander said.

He added that the Army is shortly expected to induct the Prahar tactical battlefield guided missile.

With a range of 150 km, it is expected to fill the gap between multi-barrel rocket launchers like the Pinaka and Smerch and short-range ballistic missiles. With an accuracy of 10 metre and a warhead of 200 kg, it would be used against targets like command centres, supply depots, fuel and ammunition dumps and troop concentrations within the tactical battle zone.

The DRDO expects to test launch the 5,000- km range Agni-5 by the end of next month. Classified as an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, it will be India’s longest range missile. The test was earlier scheduled for December 2011, but was postponed.

“We have already validated most of the technologies to be used in Agni-5 during the successful test of the Agni-4 in November 2011,” Dr Chander said.

While pointing out that though the present threat assessment does not require India to go in for Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM), having a range greater than 5,500 km, he said the DRDO possesses the ability to produce ICBMs.

DRDO is already engaged in developing various capabilities and technologies, including multiple warheads for ballistic missiles, which could be integrated into the defence mechanism as and when required.
5 hurt in BSF helicopter crash in Raipur

Raipur, January 15
A BSF helicopter crashed during a test flight at the Mana airport here today, injuring five persons, including the pilots, officials said. The advance light helicopter came crashing on the runway from a height of 100 feet during the test flight, injuring pilot PD Tiwari, co-pilot Brig PD Tiwari and technical officers Anand Bharti, Pankaj Pal and Subroto Chandra, SP Diptanshu Kabra said.

The injured have been taken to the hospital where Tiwari’s condition is stated to be critical. Kabra said the helicopter was damaged in the crash and work is on to remove it from the runway. A team of senior police officers of the state has rushed to the site and the cause behind the mishap is being ascertained, he said. — PTI
Nuclear weapons for strategic purposes only, says Indian army chief
News Comments (0)
NEW DELHI - Nuclear weapons are not for fighting wars but for strategic capability, Indian army chief General VK Singh said on Sunday.
“Nuclear weapons are not for war fighting, let’s be quite clear on it. They have got a strategic capability and that is where it should end. My army and I are not bothered about who has nuclear weapons. We have our task cut out and we will progress along that,” he told reporters in Delhi. The Indian army chief said this in response to a query on any possible nuclear eventuality from China in wake of the new Mountain Strike Corps being raised by the Indian army.
On reports claiming that Pakistan might deploy its forces along the border with India as a defensive measure in case of any terror strike, he said, “It does not affect our options in anyway. Those are their options… they are most welcome to do what they want to do.” To a question whether the Finance Ministry had put a stop on some of the procurement plans of the army, Gen Singh denied any knowledge and said the country’s leadership was quite alive to the needs of the armed forces.
On the Gujarat High Court’s recent order to release a list of Indian prisoners of war (PoWs) in Pakistan, he said, “Discussion is going on this issue since 1965 and 1971. The government is trying its best for this. The court’s decision will be added to it.”
Generals in the news
The army chief is in the news in India as well as in Pakistan, but for different reasons. In both cases, the Supreme Court of either country is an arbiter. In India, the Chief of Army Staff General V K Singh claims that his year of birth is 1950 while the ministry of defence has recorded it as 1951. If the government sticks to its date, as it is doing, he retires this May, nearly 10 months before his own calculation of birth date. Not General Singh himself, but some retired top brass have made it a point of honour for the armed forces and want him to vindicate it by challenging the government’s decision in the Supreme Court.
In Pakistan, the Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Kayani has already gone to the Supreme Court which has set up a commission of nine judges to probe into the charge that the army was contemplating a coup. The matter, called the Memogate, came to light a couple of months ago when the then Pakistan Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, allegedly sent a message to the US through a Pakistani businessman that President Asif Zardari required America’s support because he apprehended a takeover by the army. It was October when Haqqani sought the help but he did not make it public till the US did so. The disclosure made General Kayani furious. To lessen his anger, Zardari ordered Haqqani to quit. This was not a fair charge against Kayani because why should he threaten a takeover when the army already has the country under its control?
The argument that the Supreme Court surrendered to the army when it constituted the inquiry commission is churlish. And to make a charge against the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, is meaningless. He is the person who suffered at the hands of the army, then headed by General Pervez Musharraf. Chaudhry and his family were confined to one room and harassed in every way. But he did not give in. Doubting his integrity is neither fair not factually correct.
In fact, the constitution of the commission of Supreme Court and High Court judges was the only way to get at the bottom of the truth. There is no institution in Pakistan to which one can turn. The Supreme Court still evokes confidence and credibility. In fact, it has already issued a notice to Zardari to which he has replied.
This is the maximum one can achieve in Pakistan. The controversy over the date of birth of the army chief would not have arisen in Pakistan because the conditions prevailing there are quite different from those in India. Yet the embarrassment caused over General Singh’s claim could have been avoided if the matter had been handled better and earlier, both by him and the defence ministry.
I can appreciate General Kayani making a fuss because he felt that he was being blamed for an act which he had not contemplated. But I fail to understand why General Singh is making his birth date an issue when it was “resolved” between him and the defence ministry before he was appointed Eastern Army Commander four years ago and the army chief two years ago. He himself gave in writing to the ministry of defence that the matter was “closed.”
Good or bad, General Singh should have adhered to what was decided then. It was wrong on his part to have consulted former chief justices of India to bolster his case or to brief persons who came to TV shows – resembling Kangaroo court – to participate in discussions. It can be interpreted as an act of insubordination.
I heard some retired top brass converting the matter into an issue between civil and military. Such irresponsible talk, even if allowed in a democratic system, is tantamount to challenging the ethos of our polity. General Douglas MacArthur, hero of the Eastern sector of Second World War, was dismissed by President Henry Truman when he found the General deriding democracy.
Even if the defence ministry’s decision on his birth date is not to his liking or some of his ambitious supporters, the buck stops at the table of an elected government. I am disappointed to find Bonapartism taking hold of some top retired military officers. The media itself should have undertaken the matter with care instead of sensationalising it. The Pakistani media in the case of Kayani acted with restraint and responsibility. It has shown guts even when threatened.
Saleem Shehzad for example was abducted, tortured and killed, reportedly by a state agency last year. He had broken the story on the infiltration of the armed forces by elements close to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Several journalists from Balochistan have been killed by non-state actors, said to be close to the security forces.
The compromise formula hawked in the case of General Singh is again bad in content and intention. The proposal to appoint him as the chief of joint staff suggests as if there are two parties and an agreement has to be reached so that none loses face. What is not realised is that there is only one party in democracy, the people who elect their representatives who, in turn, constitute the government. In fact, the very proposal to create a post of chief of joint staff is not acceptable. America has such an institution but the democratic system there is 150 years old. Democracy knows of no compromise which restricts or impinges on people’s say.
The irony is that all military coups in Pakistan have been at the behest of America. The Pakistani military has signed more defence pacts and agreements with America than all civilian governments put together. It is the Pakistan military which joined America in Afghanistan in the eighties and recently leased out Pakistan airbases and air space corridors to America. Still Washington did not trust the army when Osama-bin Laden was killed in a house at Abbottabad.
Both generals in Pakistan and India should introspect as they should have before they raised the dust.
FM assures army funds to create new strike corps
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has assured army chief General VK Singh that fiscal go-ahead for creation of a new strike corps based at Pannagarh and bolstering up of defence along the 4,057 kilometre Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China will soon be accorded so that the vital matter is
taken up for approval by the Cabinet Committee for Security (CCS).

Mukherjee gave this verbal commitment when General Singh called on the finance minister after his return from Myanmar on January 9, and requested him for speedy expedition of the force and weapon accretion process so that orders could be issued for recruitment and raising two more divisions for proposed Pannagarh Corps.

Singh has met Mukherjee thrice on this issue and has written at least once to the Finance Ministry after the latter raised sundry questions on the Indian Army's threat assessment on China owing to significant financial implications involved.

Defence minister AK Antony on his part is confident that the matter would be taken up by the CCS in 2011-2012 financial year and the fiscal impact would be spread over next five years.

While China has resurrected a lean and mean PLA machine with world class infrastructure along the LAC, India is still struggling to improve its road infrastructure and force capability.

However, the Indian Army is struggling for the UPA government support to raise Pannagarh Corps, two armoured brigades in Sikkim (near Nathu La) and Ladakh (Chusul), and an additional infantry brigade in Barahoti plains in the middle sector.

The latest objections have been raised by deputy national security advisor Lt Gen (Retd) Prakash Menon, who has suggested that force accretion and resources should be equally distributed among the three services rather than only focus on the Army.

Gen Menon is learnt to be partial to India enhancing its naval capabilities to tackle China as the latter has in fact reduced number of troops in Tibet by using rapid deployment formations and has beefed up PLA Navy.

The Indian Army, on its part, has made it amply clear that it need force accretion as threat potential of a border flare-up with PLA is omnipresent till the boundary is finally demarcated by the two nations.
Indian Army ready for any challenge, says Gen Singh on 64th Army Day

The Indian Army is ready to face any challenge, external or internal, as it is equipped with ultra-modern technology, the head of the 1.13 million-strong force said Sunday.

"The army is ready for any challenge, external or internal. We have equipped our forces with ultra-modern technology," General V.K. Singh said before taking the salute at an impressive marchpast on the 64th Army Day.

He also exhorted all Indians to remember the sacrifices of the soldiers who had laid down their lives over the years in the defence of the country.

"On this day, let us all remember those who laid their lives fighting for the nation," he said.

The parade, which showcased India's military might, was witnessed by a large crowd and marked the day when an Indian officer, General (Later Field Marshal) K.M. Cariappa, assumed command for the first time.

Featuring in the parade were soldiers from 10 Indian Army regiments and armour in the form of T-72 main battle tanks, as also Bullwhip mine-ploughs and Pinaka and Smerch multiple launch rocket systems as martial music and patriotic sentiment filled the air.

There was also a flypast by the Army Aviation Corps helicopters and by para-motor commandos.

Daredevil motorcyclists thrilled the spectators with their incredible stunts and were cheered loudly by the audience.

The army also presented a mock battle in which infantry, armored units, artillery and army aviation choppers retook a "captured" area in all of 15 minutes.

Among those who attended the parade were the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force chiefs, military attaches of several countries, and the recipients of gallantry awards.

The army chief earlier presented 15 gallantry awards, of which six were posthumous.
Defence, home ministries to decide on Afspa: Army
A decision on revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa) in Jammu and Kashmir will be taken by the defence and home ministries, a senior Indian Army commander said on Sunday, underlining that the act was a "must for national security".
Northern Command chief Lt Gen KT
Parnaik told a group of newsmen on the sidelines of an investiture ceremony on the Army Day in Akhnoor, 30 km from Jammu, that "Afspa is a necessity for national security."

He was replying to questions on Afspa that grants immunity to the security forces from legal prosecution for actions undertaken while fighting insurgency. Jammu and Kashmir has been battling terrorism for the past 21 years, and the Army and other wings of the security forces are shielded by this Act, which chief minister Omar Abdullah is keen to get removed in a phased manner in the backdrop of fast improved situation in the state.

Parnaik, during whose tenure the troops of the Northern Command smothered the terrorists and made 2011 the most peaceful for the first time since 1990, however, made it clear that the "the ministry of defence and ministry of home affairs would decide on the issue of revocation or retention of Afspa".

Reasoning the context of Afspa's need in Jammu and Kashmir, citing the ground realities, the Army Commander referred to the anticipated threat of terrorists coming from across the Line of Control (LoC) joining hands with the existing lot in the state to disturb the peace, and the continuous ceasefire violations by Pakistan troops.

Parnaik said this is what made army's concern more logical than anything else.

The Northern Command is spread over from south of Pir Panjal to the edges of the Valley with Ladakh.

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