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Sunday, 4 March 2012

From Today's Papers - 04 Mar 2012






Lt-Gen Bikram Singh next Army Chief
To take over on May 31, when COAS General VK Singh retires
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3
General Bikram Singh, has been appointed as the next Chief of the Indian Army. Ending months of speculation, the Ministry of Defence today made a formal announcement saying he will be the next Chief of Army Staff and will take over on May 31.

The ministry made a formal announcement this evening. Lt Gen Bikram Singh will be second-ever Sikh, after General JJ Singh (retd), to command the 1.3 million-strong Indian Army.

The ministry’s spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said in a statement: “Lt Gen Bikram Singh, has been designated as the next Chief of Army Staff, in the rank of General, with effect from the afternoon of May 31, 2012. He will succeed the present, General VK Singh, who retires from the service on May 31 2012”.

The present Army Chief, General VK Singh superannuates on May 31. The process to announce the Army Chief is normally done in advance. In this case the Government has strictly followed the principle of seniority.

At present, Lt Gen Bikram Singh is heading the Eastern Army Command and is stationed at Kolkata. The security of the sensitive North-East and the Eastern states is under his domain of duties.

The Army-chief-designate was the Delhi-based spokesperson of the Indian Army during the Kargil conflict in May-July 1999. At that time he was a Colonel and was on the verge of being promoted as a Brigadier.

The retirement date of the present Army Chief had led to all sorts of theories in the past few months. It was only on February 10 this year that the Supreme Court refused to reconcile the date of birth (DoB) of General VK Singh. It said the DoB would remain as May 10 1950 and not May 10, 1951 as claimed by Gen VK Singh.

Had the apex court accepted the DoB of May 10, 1951, then General VK Singh would have retired after completion of a three-year tenure that is March 31, 2013. In that scenario Lt Gen KT Parnaik, the present Northern Army commander, would have been the next Chief as Lt Gen Bikram Singh would have retired in the intervening period.

An Army Chief retires at 62 years of age while all Lieutenant Generals retire at 60 years of age.

Had General VK Singh quit after the February 10 SC order, Lt Gen Shankar Ghosh would have been the senior-most officer. Unfortunately for Gen Shankar Ghosh, he retires the same day as Gen VK Singh.

Lt Gen Bikram Singh, the Army-chief-designate, was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry (Sikh LI) regiment on March 31, 1972.

During his distinguished career, he has headed the Srinagar-based 15 Corps. Lt Gen Bikram Singh has served as deputy force commander of a multi-nation UN peace keeping mission in Congo. He had also served as UN observer in Nicaragua and El Salvador during the early 1990s.

His long list of decorations include a Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM), a Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM), an Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM), Sena Medal (SM) and a Vishist Seva Medal (VSM).

Lt Gen Bikram Singh has studied with distinction at the Defence Services Staff College, the Army War College and the US Army War College, Pennsylvania. He has also done an M.Phil in Defence Management from the Indore University.

He is married to Surjeet Kaur, who is a housewife. The couple has two sons.


Decorated soldier

His long list of decorations include a Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM), a Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM), an Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM), Sena Medal (SM) and a Vishist Seva Medal (VSM)

Current posting

Lt Gen Bikram Singh is heading the Eastern Army Command and is stationed at Kolkata. The security of the sensitive North-East and the Eastern states is under his domain of duties.

Distinguished Career

Lt Gen Bikram Singh, the Army-chief-designate, was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry (Sikh LI) regiment on March 31, 1972. During his distinguished career, he has headed the Srinagar-based 15 Corps. Lt Gen Bikram Singh has served as deputy force commander of a multi-nation UN peace keeping mission in Congo. He had also served as UN observer in Nicaragua and El Salvador during the early 1990s.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120304/nation.htm#3

Hurdles that Lt-Gen Bikram Singh cleared
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3
Lt-Gen Bikram Singh, in the past two years, faced at least three events that could have held him back. He cleared them all exposing the manner in which senior officers running for top posts are hounded by persons inimical to them.

The most dangerous rumour spread about him was that his daughter-in-law was a Pakistani citizen. Several MPs, probably backed by his rivals, sent out complaints about the woman’s citizenship.

She is married to the elder son of Lt-Gen Bikram Singh and the young couple lives in the US. “Potential security implications” were cited to hold back his appointment as Chief of Army Staff.

The matter was sorted out only after Indian external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), was asked for a report.

The Appointments Committee of Cabinet was informed, on the basis of a R&AW report, that General Bikram Singh’s daughter-in-law is an American citizen. Her father is an Afghan and mother is from Central Asia.

Before this, two other attempts were made to shoot down his candidature. In January this year, Lt Gen Bikram Singh was accused of staging a fake encounter when he was posted as Brigadier in the Rashtriya Rifles in South Kashmir’s Anantnag town in March 2001. The case mysteriously cropped up. An NGO, Yes Kashmir, filed a petition with the police and a woman, Zaituna, approached the J&K High Court in 2011 — 10 years after the incident in which one foreign militant Mateen Chacha was killed.

Lt-Gen (then Brigadier) Bikram Singh was injured while Colonel JP Jam, had died in the shoot-out that occurred in the Janglat Mandi area of Anantnag.

General Bikram Singh got a clean chit when the SSP Anantnag, also impleaded as a party in the case, told the court that the matter needed no further investigation as the case stood already established against the deceased foreign militant.

Denying that the encounter was fake as claimed by the petitioner’s family, the J&K police said the particulars of the militant had been confirmed on the basis of material evidence that included an identity card found on his person.

The third hurdle was equally serious. An Army Court of Inquiry (CoI) was conducted last year. It looked at documents and cross-examined 51 soldiers to verify if they were guilty of sexual misconduct during their year-long posting on a UN peacekeeping mission to Congo in 2008.

These men faced charges of rape and also fraternising with the local population, all forbidden by Indian military law and the UN code of conduct. Lt Gen Bikram Singh had headed the Congo mission for a part of the period.

The CoI ruled out rape. The relationships (with Congolese women) were found to have been paid for or were consensual.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120304/nation.htm#25

Kin thrilled over Lt Gen Bikram Singh’s elevation
Prabhjot Singh/TNS

Chandigarh, March 3
The announcement of Lt Gen Bikram Singh as the next Army Chief has brought cheer not only to his alma mater, Punjab Public School, Nabha, but also to his relatives and friends in Chandigarh.

Lt General Bikram Singh will be the first alumnus of the Punjab Public School to head the Indian Army. Singh has a strong affiliation with Chandigarh.

His sister, Nimmi Sandhu, and her husband Kuldip Sandhu, bring out a news weekly and a monthly magazine from the city.

“We are thrilled at his elevation. Though it was expected, a formal announcement has its own importance,” beamed Kuldip Sandhu.

Bikram Singh would be the second Sikh General after JJ Singh to head the Indian Army.

General JJ Singh (retd) came from a family of writers. His parents - Prabhjot Kaur and Narinderpal Singh - had created a niche for themselves in Punjabi literature.While both Punjab Public School, Nabha, and Sainik School, Kapurthala, boast of having produced several officers who have risen and occupied key positions in the forces, Lt General Bikram Singh seem to have left them all behind by rising to the top position in the Indian Army.

Bikram Singh’s family originally belongs to Kler village, near Rayya in Amritsar. But now it is settled in Jammu & Kashmir. He is the youngest of the five siblings and the only son of his parents.


http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/full-text-lieutenant-general-bikram-singh-to-be-the-next-army-chief-says-govt-182242

Full text: Lieutenant General Bikram Singh to be the next Army chief, says govt


Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/full-text-lieutenant-general-bikram-singh-to-be-the-next-army-chief-says-govt-182242&cp

New Delhi:  The government has announced that Lt General Bikram Singh, the Eastern Army Commander, will be the next Army chief.

Here's a press release by the government of India:
The Eastern Army Commander, Lt Gen Bikram Singh, PVSM,UYSM,AVSM,SM,VSM,ADC has been designated as the next Chief of Army Staff, in the rank of General, with effect from the afternoon of 31 May 2012. He will succeed the present COAS, General VK Singh, PVSM,AVSM,YSM,ADC, who retires from the service on 31 May 2012.

Lt Gen Bikram Singh was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment on 31 March 1972.

During his long and distinguished career, spanning nearly 40 years, he has served in a variety of Command and Staff appointments. He has commanded a Corps in the Northern Command. The General had served as Deputy Force Commander of a multi-nation UN Peace Keeping Mission in Congo. He had also served as UN Observer in Nicaragua and El Salvador during the early 90s.

Lt Gen Bikram Singh has studied with distinction at the Defence Services Staff College, the Army War College and the US Army War College, Pennsylvania. He has also done M.Phil in Defence Management from the Indore University.

He is a recipient of PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM and VSM Awards. He is also one of the Honorary ADCs of the President of India.

He is married to Mrs Surjeet Kaur, housewife and the couple have two sons.


Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/full-text-lieutenant-general-bikram-singh-to-be-the-next-army-chief-says-govt-182242&cp

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/lieutenant-general-bikram-singh-to-be-the-next-army-chief-govt-182249?pfrom=home-lateststories

Lieutenant General Bikram Singh to be the next Army chief: Govt


Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/lieutenant-general-bikram-singh-to-be-the-next-army-chief-govt-182249?pfrom=home-lateststories&cp

New Delhi:  Ending the suspense, Government today announced the appointment of Lieutenant General Bikram Singh as the next Army Chief from May 31 to succeed General V K Singh.

59-year-old Lieutenant General Singh, the Eastern Army Commander, will head the 13-lakh strong force and have a tenure of just over two years till August 2014.

"Lieutenant General Singh has been designated as the next Chief of Army Staff, in the rank of General, with effect from the afternoon of 31 May 2012," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here.

"He will succeed the present COAS General V K Singh, who retires from the service on May 31," he added.

As per the normal practice, the appointment of Chiefs of Defence Services is announced 60 days in advance but in this case, the government made the announcement 90 days in advance.

"I am honoured and grateful to the government for having reposed confidence in me and having appointed me as the next Chief of Army Staff," said Lieutenant General Singh in a statement this evening.

Lieutenant General Bikram Singh was the senior most among the present Army Commanders but his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff had got caught in a suspense as General V K Singh was fighting out his date of birth battle that would have given him tenure till April next year.

There had been questions over Lieutenant General Bikram Singh in connection with an alleged fake encounter in Kashmir but the government went ahead to appoint him as the Army Chief.

General V K Singh, who had two dates of birth in his official records, had dragged the government to the Supreme Court, contending that he was born on May 10, 1951 and not a year earlier.

However, the top court refused to accept his contention, holding that he had taken promotions on the basis of May 10,1950 as his date of birth and could not "resile" on his commitment accepting that date.


Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/lieutenant-general-bikram-singh-to-be-the-next-army-chief-govt-182249?pfrom=home-lateststories&cp

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Not-just-war-lessons--he-also-picked-Indian-name-for-son/919766/

Not just war lessons, he also picked Indian name for son



An officer of the Indonesian army, who was part of a joint military exercise with Indian officers at the Counter-Insurgency & Jungle Warfare School in Mizoram this week, has not only picked up various techniques of tackling terrorists in different situations, but has also gone back picking up a name for his newborn son.

Captain Toni Oki Priyono of the 13th Infantry Brigade of the Indonesian Army picked up from an Indian Colonel the name Ashwathama — the son of Dronacharya — for his son. The decision was Captain Priyono’s way of acknowledging the role of the Indian Army Instructors at the CIJW School at Vairengte in Mizoram, a defence spokesman quoting him said. “It was Col Y Sangwan who suggested the name when I approached him to suggest an apt name for my son,” Captain Priyono was quoted as saying. Col Sangwan is the Commanding Officer of the 19 Madras Infantry Battalion whose troops also took part in the joint exercise.

Captain Priyono’s elder daughter has a traditional Islamic name.

The week-long exercise that ended today was called “Garuda Shakti” and had 30 officers from both countries. It was also the first-ever platoon-level joint training exercise between India and Indonesia.

Training together to counter the scourge of insurgency in various contemporary scenarios including jungle warfare, ‘Chakravyuh,’ a three-day outdoor validation exercise, tested the weeklong training, imparted at various Counter-Insurgency modules in the guerrilla warfare school.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?280115

The Creeping Barrage

The impact of the saga that is General V.K. Singh’s date of birth controversy has been most telling on the delicate and often uneasy relationship between the military and the civilian bureaucracy in the country. An equation that, many acknowledge, has reached an all-time low while engaging with the issue.

When Gen Singh pitted himself against the government, his supporters and several others within the armed forces saw it as an opportunity to put “an end to the civilian bureaucracy’s meddling in service matters”. He was seen within the defence fraternity—both serving and retired—as someone who was finally taking “them” head on. And that if he were to emerge victorious, they knew, it would have a chastening effect on the bureaucracy. But neither has emerged as a clear winner yet and the episode has drawn attention to the increasingly fractious civil-military relationship and the mistrust that exists on both sides. With the perception gaining ground that, if not recognised and addressed adequately, this resentment could adversely impact the nation’s military effectiveness, is it not about time that the political leadership steps in to check the downward spiral before it leads to dangerous consequences?

In January, a deputy secretary in the ministry of defence (MoD) wrote to the army’s adjutant general, directing it to amend its records, which show Gen Singh’s date of birth as May 10, 1951, to the government-determined May 10, 1950. The letter went disregarded because the matter was in the Supreme Court, but it led to great consternation in defence circles as many viewed it as “temerity” on the part of a junior MoD officer to issue diktats to army headquarters.

This sort of reaction is symptomatic of the deep faultlines between the two sides, which have reached a point where every move is now viewed through an adversarial lens. The date of birth issue is only the most recent of many such run-ins that the military has had with the civilian bureaucracy in the last few years. This was perhaps even more acrimonious than what transpired during the finalisation of the sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations. Says Lt Gen (retd) V.K. Nayar, former governor of Nagaland and Manipur and former director of the Centre for Policy Research, “The government thinks that after the setback in the Supreme Court, the problem is over and they have pushed the chief into the corner they want him in. But the matter now is not just about General Singh, but the armed forces as a whole and its systematic downgrading by the civilian bureaucracy. This cannot lead to good responses.”

The grievances harboured by the armed forces over the recommendations of the sixth Pay Commission—which led to ex-servicemen returning their war medals to the Supreme Commander (who did not accept them)—and the recent fracas over the DOB controversy are illustrative of the imbalance in the current orientation of civil-military relations in the country. The unease over how the issue has played out has not just troubled people in defence circles, but also civilian defence-watchers.

Writing in the latest issue of Salute, a magazine about the armed forces, Narender Sisodia, a former director general of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and an IAS officer who served in the MoD, says, “Many in the armed forces believe that since Independence, their status has been systematically downgraded. While no one questions the supremacy of the elected political leadership, there is acute resentment about the civilian bureaucracy.” The areas of friction he identifies are the same as those echoed by army officers:

    The non-inclusion of the defence forces in matters of security policymaking.
    Insufficient allocations for defence budgets. There is a perception that the civilian authority does not fully appreciate the gravity of threats to national security and tends to neglect legitimate demands. This attitude, Sisodia says, has adversely affected India’s defence modernisation and made it vulnerable to external threats.
    The army’s reservations about the greater frequency with which it is called to intervene in internal security problems.
    The issues of pay and perquisites and warrant of precedence have long been sources of acute dissatisfaction.
    Affording a greater weightage to the armed forces’ viewpoints in decisions relating to procurement and accomodating concerns at cumbersome procedures and delays.

Vijay Singh, former defence secretay till 2009, feels that the mistrust has much to do with the mindset in the forces, which have not accepted the fact that the defence minister takes decisions based on advice and inputs from the civilian bureaucracy. “Anything that does not go their way is attributed to bureaucratic intrigue. While the interaction at the top level is fine, below that there is much acrimony. I concede that the MoD needs officers of a high professional calibre because they sometimes ask ill-informed questions of the military establishment. But the civilian bureaucracy is more democratic and transparent in its functioning.” He thinks that the V.K. Singh saga is a fit case for a study in civil-military relations as they stand today.

                               

                “the indian military has been kept out of the formal structure of the state. no other comparable democracy has an arrangement in which its military apex is so policy neutered.”    
                               

The forces have, for long, chafed at having to deal with the political leadership through the MoD, which was not the case at the time of Independence. The military’s position in the security structure had been consciously downgraded since Independence—through a set of reforms that kept the military out of policymaking and also gave the civilians control over all military issues except hardcore operational matters. This was designed to keep the military subservient to the civilian set-up: a systemic bulwark against a potential takeover. Military minds are now questioning the rationale behind retaining such a system. As Lt Gen Nayar points out, “The fear of a military coup is a bogey that the bureaucracy uses to perpetuate its supremacy. After almost seven decades of blemishless professionalism by the armed forces, it is time to junk this bogey and put in place a more realistic and less acrimonious arrangement that gives the military its due place in higher security management.” Another irritant is the skewed Integrated Defence Headquarters, which does not have defence personnel on its staff, whereas the MoD has infiltrated service headquarters by placing its officers in key positions.

Commodore C. Uday Bhaskar, a security analyst who headed the IDSA a few years ago, says, “The anomalous nature of the Indian civil-military interface follows from the inflexible mediation of the bureaucracy and the determined reluctance of the Indian political class to have any direct contact with the military as an institution—except for mandatory ceremonial occasions such as on Republic Day—or acquire appropriate comprehension about the military as an institution. Progressively, the Indian military has been kept out of the formal structure of state and denied any meaningful or substantive role in national security policy formulation. This, when India is located in one of the most challenging strategic regions of the world and has been militarily scarred more than once. No other comparable democracy in the world has nurtured such an arrangement where the military apex is policy neutered. Sadly, there is little to suggest that the political leadership is even remotely seized with the long-term import of this alarming distortion.”

Then there are those like analyst Maroof Raza, himself a former army officer, who see in the current imbroglio a victory for the bureaucracy. “The system has closed around the chief and this will only embolden the bureaucracy. The fallout will be that at least for two generations, no military commander will raise his head. And the message for military commanders is that it isn’t merit or accuracy of documents that will get them promotions, but pandering to the politico-bureaucratic elite. The last bastion of professional meritocracy in India has crumbled. The damage will be lasting.”

It’s anyone’s guess if lessons are being learnt from the present mess—and if they will be heeded—by those who matter. Or will the political leadership allow things to fester?


http://www.omantribune.com/index.php?page=news&id=113402&heading=India

IAF, army begin joint exercise along India-China border
SHILLONG/NEW DELHI The Indian Air Force (IAF) and army are engaged in an exercise to test their combat potentials along India-China border, defence officials said on Friday.

Code named ‘Pralay’(Apocalypse), the joint exercise began on February 29 in North Eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, the officials said.

“The exercises are being conducted day and night with long range bombing missions simulating deep strikes in enemy territory,” a defence official said.

The air force jets were engaged in bombing missions at air to ground ranges under dense air defence environment.

IAF’s Su 30 MKI, Mirage-2000, MiG-29, Jaguar, Bison, Mi-17, AN-32, C-130, Awacs, flight refueling aircraft and remotely piloted aircraft are being used in the exercise, the officials said.

“Advance technologies and changed pattern of operations necessitated the forces to go for this exercise. Lessons learnt from this exercise will be incorporated in future operational strategies,” the official said.

“The annual exercise is aimed at testing the combat potential of the IAF in various roles such as air defence, ground support operations, counter air operations, electronic warfare, joint operations with the army, including special operations by day and night,” he said.

“It also includes conduct of Special Forces operations and night operations in conjunction with ground forces,” the officer said.

The entire spectrum of air operations by aircraft under dense air defence environment is being practiced both by day and night.

The exercise also includes facets of network centric operations, electronic warfare as well as information warfare and all technology-intensive battle manoeuvres.

Apart from war fighting in the skies, various ground contingencies related to air force operations are being tested.

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