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Monday, 16 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 16 Apr 2012
job fair
435 ex-soldiers get job in 1 day
Shubhadeep Choudhury/TNS

Bangalore, April 15
The first ex-servicemen job fair organised here today turned out to be a success with 435 aspirants bagging jobs during the fair. The event was organised by the Army to facilitate recruitment of retired soldiers by the private sector.

Sixty-five (65) private sector firms, including biggies such as Infosys, Wipro, TVS Motors, etc, participate in the fair where 1,500 ex-servicemen, nine widows and 21 children of martyred soldiers were present.

In all, 2,435 vacancies were on offer at the job fair. While 435 vacancies were filled on the spot, appointment letters to 600 more aspirants were being sent by post, a Defence Ministry spokesman said.

Major-General KS Venugopal, GOC, Karnataka and Kerala Sub Area, said today’s job fair was a small step. Similar job fairs would be held every six months at various places in Karnataka and Kerala, he said.
N-threat from Pakistan
Unending challenge to non-proliferation regime
by Harsh V. Pant

The much-hyped second Nuclear Security Summit held at Seoul last month was high on rhetoric and short on substance. Though nearly 50 countries attended the summit and discussed ways and means of trying to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism, the event was overshadowed by the likelihood of a North Korean launch of a ballistic missile as well as the US President’s off-th- record comments telling Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that the sensitive issue of European missile defence could not be fully addressed in the heat of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Though the South Korean government has suggested that the summit did “yield practical outcomes to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism,” the final communiqué issued at the end of the summit made no reference to either Iran or North Korea, the two nations that are challenging the very foundations of the global nuclear order. Moreover, there was no discussion at all of the elephant in the room when it comes to nuclear terrorism – the possibility of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists as the governing institutions in Pakistan get weaker by the day.

For long, the US and the West have viewed nuclear weapons in South Asia with dread because of the possibility that a conventional war between India and Pakistan might escalate into a nuclear one. Bill Clinton called the Kashmir conflict "the most dangerous flashpoint on earth" precisely because of this fear of a nuclear holocaust in the Indian subcontinent.

Indian and Pakistani officials, on the other hand, have continued to argue that just as the threat of Mutual Assured Destruction resulted in a "hot peace" between the US and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, nuclear weapons in South Asia will also have a stabilising impact. They point out the fact that despite several provocations, India and Pakistan have behaved "rationally" during various crises by keeping their conflicts limited and avoiding escalation.

But since September 11, 2001, the nature of the problem for the West has changed insofar as the threat is now more of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal being used against the West by radical Islamists if they can lay their hands on it.

The present turmoil in Pakistan has once again raised concerns about the safety, security and command and control of its nuclear stockpile. Though Pakistan's government continues to dismiss media reports that its nuclear weapons were in danger of falling into the "wrong hands" as "inspired," and stressed that Pakistan provided the highest level of institutionalised protection to its strategic assets, the credibility of such claims remains open to question.

Instituted in 2000, Pakistan's nuclear command and control arrangements are centered on the National Command Authority, which comprises the Employment Control Committee, the Development Control Committee and the Strategic Plans Division. Only a small group of military officials apparently have access to the country's nuclear assets.

However, these command and control arrangements continue to be beset with some fundamental vulnerabilities that underline the reluctance of the Pakistani military to cede control over the nation's nuclear assets to civilian leaders.

It is instructive to note that of all the major nuclear states in the world, Pakistan is the only country where the nuclear button is in the hands of the military. Moreover, senior civilian and military officials responsible for these weapons have a problematic track-record in maintaining close control over them. AQ Khan was the head of the Pakistani nuclear programme (and a veritable national hero) but was instrumental in making Pakistan the centre of the biggest nuclear proliferation network by leaking technology to states far and wide, including Iran, North Korea and Libya. Pakistani nuclear scientists have even travelled to Afghanistan at the behest of Osama bin Laden.

While it is true that the Pakistani military remains largely professional and perhaps the only cohesive force in the country today, it has also become deeply demoralised, reflected in the large number of soldiers preferring to surrender to the militants rather than fight. There are growing signs of fraying loyalties in the Pakistani army, underlining the danger to its cohesiveness.

The growing "Islamisation" of the younger generation of Pakistani military officers is well-recorded. Given the close links between the Pakistani military and intelligence services and the militant groups fighting in Kashmir and the Taliban, it is not far-fetched to assume that there is a real danger of elements within Pakistan's military-intelligence complex colluding with radical Islamist groups.

Pakistan has accepted US help since 9/11 in designing its system of controls for its nuclear arsenal and the prevention of theft. The US has reportedly spent about $100 million in helping Pakistan secure its nuclear arsenal, and some reports have suggested that Pakistan has also received technical assistance from the US.

Throughout the Cold War years, it was viewed as politically prudent in the West and especially in the US to ignore Pakistan's drive towards nuclear acquisition, as Pakistan was seen as an important ally of the West in countering the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Nuclear proliferation has never been a first order priority for the US when it comes to Pakistan. Now the chickens are coming home to roost as the Pakistani military seems unable and unwilling to take on the Islamist forces gathering momentum on Pakistani territory on the one hand; while on the other, the nation's nuclear weapons seem within reach of the extremist forces. The turmoil in Pakistan and all its attendant consequences in the nuclear realm point to the long-term costs of short-sighted policies — the politics of proliferation — followed by the West in countering proliferation.
Taliban launch coordinated attacks on Kabul, 3 other cities
n Explosions rock Afghan capital n Parliament, NATO & embassies targeted
Kabul, April 15
Heavily-armed Taliban suicide bombers today unleashed a wave of coordinated attacks in Afghanistan with several explosions and gunfire rocking the diplomatic area and Parliament in Kabul and three other cities. The attack is bound to intensify worry in the run-up to the planned withdrawal of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for around a dozen attacks by gunmen in central Kabul that stunned Afghan authorities. The Taliban said in a statement that "tens of fighters", armed with heavy and light weapons, and some wearing suicide-bomb vests, were involved. Kabul Police said that three suicide bombers were killed and two were still resisting on the outskirts of the capital.

Militants attacked the five-star Kabul Star Hotel near the Presidential Palace and the Iranian Embassy in Wazir Akhbar Khan area of the Capital and some tried to enter the Afghan Parliament firing rockets, but were engaged by security forces and driven back, officials said.

Windows of the hotel were blown out and smoke billowed from the building. According to the eyewitness, suicide bombers had taken over the newly-built hotel.

An unknown number of Taliban men armed with light and heavy weapons targeted Afghan governmental and international offices in three different areas of Kabul, police said.

A number of Taliban militants took positions at a newly-built building at the Shahr-e-Naw neighborhood of Kabul. They battled with Afghan forces for several hours after the militants began assaulting Western embassies. The building is located close to the Presidential Palace, embassies of America, Turkey, Iran, Germany, UK, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Headquarters and other diplomatic offices.

"I am on the spot and hearing gunfire being traded between suicide bombers and Afghan forces. Until now I heard several explosions," a PTI correspondent reported from the scene of the attack.

In a text message to reporters, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said: "Today, afternoon at 1 pm suicide bombings are happening by our Mujahideen at the ISAF Headquarters, Parliament building, and other diplomatic offices in Kabul, and our enemies got many casualties."

A few others Taliban militants armed with heavy weapons positioned at a newly-built building are targeting the Afghan Parliament in Kabul’s Darul Aman area. The battle is ongoing between Afghan and Taliban militant forces, Afghan private TV, Tolo TV, said today.

Another group of militants is targeting an ISAF base, Turkish military base, and a training camp of the Afghan National Army in Pule Charkhi area of Kabul. They are targeting them from a building that they have taken over.

Outside Kabul, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates to Jalalabad airport in eastern city of Nangarhar province, wounding several people, the police said. Four bombers tried to enter the airport and two detonated their explosives when they were stopped at the gate, officials said. Two others were wounded and arrested.

In the eastern city of Jalalabad, a Reuters witness said that Taliban attacked a foreign force base near a school. One Taliban insurgent was killed, another blew himself up and a third was captured. A blast also went off near the airport in Jalalabad.

In Logar province, Taliban militants attacked a police compound, PRT compound and provincial Intelligence Department.

In Paktia province in the east, blasts and machinegun rounds obliterated the front of a three-story pink building occupied by insurgents who used it to attack a provincial police headquarters. The assault in Kabul appeared to repeat the tactics of an attack last September when insurgents entered construction sites to use them as positions for rocket and gun attacks. — Agencies

Taliban’s ‘spring offensive’

"These attacks are the beginning of the spring offensive and we had planned them for months," Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said and warned of more similar attacks. The assaults were in retaliation for the burning of the Koran at a NATO base, the killing of 17 Afghan civilians as well as for videos showing US Marines urinating on dead Taliban, he said.
India’s most potent missile Agni V all set for launch
By Raj Chengappa

In the remote Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast, the countdown has begun for the first test of India's most sophisticated and powerful ballistic missile ever built, Agni V.

If all goes well, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which built the missile, is expected to launch Agni V on Wednesday, April 18, from the Island.

With a planned range of 5,000 km, the Agni V will traverse 2,000 km more than any Indian missile has ever done. Wednesday's launch will see the missile first power its way to a vertical height of 500 km in the atmosphere before following a ballistic trajectory that will see it splash down in the Indian Ocean way beyond Indonesia.

A commercial jetliner would take over six hours to traverse such a distance. But Agni V, travelling at 24 times the speed of sound and 30 times faster than a commercial jet, will traverse that distance in just 18 to 20 minutes. In doing so, it will become not just the longest range ballistic missile in India's strategic armoury but also its fastest. Most importantly, Agni V would put most of China's major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, within Indian missile range.

Speaking exclusively to The Tribune, Vijay Kumar Saraswat, DRDO Chief and Scientific Adviser to the Union Defence Minister, said, "In terms of performance, Agni V is the ultimate step for India in terms of ballistic missile technology. It is pushing at the outer limits of the Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) class."

What Saraswat is unwilling to explicitly state, is that a successful test of Agni V would give India the capability of building long-range Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, ICBMs or missiles that can reach targets of 8,000 km or more.

With a warhead weight of 1,500 kg (1.5 tonne) Agni V will ultimately be capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads giving it deadly strike capability.

Agni V would be a significant step up from the range of Agni missiles that India currently has in its armoury. Agni I goes to 700 km and Agni II, 2000 km. Both these are primarily meant to target Pakistan, giving India a capability to strike its neighbour from any part of the country.

Agni III and Agni IV are missiles in the 3,000 km class meant for China and other regional neighbours. The distance though is a limitation as these classes of missiles would be unable to strike many of China's strategic cities or locations. So the need for Agni V.

Speaking exclusively to The Tribune from the Wheeler Island, where final tests are being done for Agni V, Avinash Chander, DRDO's Chief Controller R&D (Missiles and Strategic Systems), said, "There are many firsts we are incorporating in Agni V, these include two all new composite motors that would propel the missile to distances bordering ICBM capabilities."

At 17 metres in height, Agni V is almost 5 stories tall and has a diameter of two meters - similar to that of the giant main sewage pipelines that are laid in most Indian cities. Agni V is short and squat as compared to India's space rockets.

Almost three years in the making, Agni V is a three-stage rocket that, Chander says, has one of the most highly developed guidance systems that the DRDO has ever built to enable it to strike targets at great distance with stunning accuracy.

While the first stage motor is similar to the one used in Agni III, the second and third stage motors are brand new and built of light composite materials that are being flight tested for the first time. "It reduces weight and gives the missile greater punch,'' says Chander.

Though the first launch would be from a static harness at the Island, Agni V would have tremendous road mobility once it is fully developed. These include a canister launch which means that it gives India "stop and launch" capability from any part of the country. "Once we successfully test Agni V we would have broken the barrier of long range ballistic missile systems,'' says Saraswat.

Missile Muscle

n With a range of 5,000 km, Agni V will traverse 2,000 km more than any other Indian missile

n Travelling at 24 times the speed of sound, Agni V will traverse 5,000 km in just 20 minutes

n If successful, it will give India the capability of striking all major Chinese cities, including Shanghai

n The technology being used in Agni V will ultimately give India the capability to build Inter-Continental Ballisitic Missiles (ICBMs)
IAF facing critical shortages, officials tell House panel

New Delhi, April 15
The Indian Air Force is facing "critical deficiency" of trainer aircraft and simulators, fighter squadrons are depleting and some airfields do not have certain landing facilities, a parliamentary panel has been informed.

The IAF has 34 fighter squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons and the number is likely to reduce further to 31 during the 12th plan period, the parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence was told during a recent presentation by top officials of IAF and the Defence Ministry.

The number of fighter aircraft due for retirement after completion of their technical life far exceeds the rate at which their replacements can be inducted in the IAF, the officials said.

The different variants of MiG-21s and MiG-27s are being phased out during the 12th and 13th plan period and these are planned to be replaced with Su-30 MKI, medium multi-role combat aircraft, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and fifth generation fighter aircraft.

They noted that it was "very much apparent" that the induction process has not been commensurate with the de-induction exercise.

With regard to trainer planes, the Committee was told that IAF has requirement of 181 Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA), 85 Intermediate Jet Trainers (IJT) and 106 Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT). The IAF does not have a Basic Trainer Aircraft as HPT-32 fleet has been grounded after a fatal accident on July 31, 2009.

The Committee was told that Kiran aircraft are presently being used for training of pilots at stage-I, fighter pilots at stage-II and under trainee flying instructors. — PTI

Reality Bites

    The IAF has 34 fighter squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons and the number is likely to reduce further to 31 during the 12th plan period, the parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence was told during a recent presentation by top officials of IAF and the Defence Ministry.
    The number of fighter aircraft due for retirement after completion of their technical life far exceeds the rate at which their replacements can be inducted in the IAF, the officials said.
    The IAF does not have a Basic Trainer Aircraft as HPT-32 fleet has been grounded after a fatal accident on July 31, 2009.

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