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Thursday, 7 June 2012

From Today's Papers - 07 Jun 2012
Krishna reaches out to Next-Gen Chinese leaders
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today met Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang as part of India's attempt to reach out to the next generation of Chinese leaders who are set to take over the reins of power in the Communist nation later this year.

Li is expected to take over from Premier Wen Jiabao during the once-in-a-decade leadership transition. President Pratibha Patil had met Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping during a visit to China in 2010. Xi is expected to take over from President Hu Jintao.

The all-important meeting between Krishna and Li took place in the Great Hall of the People on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.

In his brief remarks, Li said his meeting with Krishna was "an opportunity to enhance cooperation not only under the SCO but bilaterally as well.

Krishna recalled that President Hu had visited India for the fifth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit in New Delhi in March when he also had fruitful talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Leaders of the two countries had, he said, also declared 2012 as the India-China friendship year.

Krishna stated that this was his second visit to Beijing this year, reflecting the growing ties between the two nations. He had visited the Chinese capital in February to inaugurate the new building of the Indian Embassy.

The two leaders are understood to have reviewed trust-building initiatives taken in March, including the proposal for a maritime dialogue, the border mechanism and intensification of economic and trade ties.

The meeting signifies India's efforts to measure the next generation of the Chinese leadership since the relations between the two countries, particularly in the economic field, have grown from strength to strength during the last few years.

Prime Minister Singh had established a personal rapport with both President Hu and Premier Wen during a number of meetings he had held with them. Singh had gone of record to publicly acknowledge his equation with the Chinese leadership. Thanks to the chemistry between the leaderships, they were able to peacefully resolve issues between the two countries.

Indian officials said India would like to have the same kind of friendly relationship with the leadership that is set to take over in Beijing.

India-Pak Foreign Secys’ meet

Beijing: Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan would meet on June 29 in New Delhi to prepare the ground for the crucial meeting of the Foreign Ministers planned for the middle of July in Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said here on Wednesday. Talks on Siachen will be held in Islamabad on June 11-12, followed by talks on Sir Creek in New Delhi on 17-18.
Defence Partnership
Can match Russia: US to India
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, June 6
Claiming that it was not just looking to earn billions of dollars in defence deals, the United States today offered to match the Russian model of defence partnership with India. Washington promised joint production and development of critical military equipment saying “we can do incredible work together”.

Till now, India has been co-producing defence equipment only with Russia and that too high-end products like the BrahMos missile and the forthcoming fifth generation of fighters. The latest entrant will be France when the production of the 126 medium Multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) starts with Raffale. India is spending around $100 billion over 10 years on modernising its military, with an eye on China’s growing influence.

US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta in rather candid talk at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), here this evening pitched in for a partnership with India that will somewhat match, if not, rival the one New Delhi has with Moscow. Russia and India are allies from times when technology was just not available to India. The most recent example is of the lease of the nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra by Russia.

“My Deputy Secretary Ash Carter will lead an effort at the Pentagon to engage with Indian leaders to streamline bureaucratic processes and make our defence trade more simple, responsive, and effective,” Panetta, a former Director of the Central Investigative Agency, told an audience of strategic experts, retired military personnel and media.

"I think close partnership with America will be key to meeting India’s own stated aims of a modern and effective defence force," Panetta said.

New Delhi and Washington have put behind years of mistrust of the cold war era and now have some $8 billion worth of defence trade.

He announced that Washington was moving to reform export controls that have, so far, limited weapons’ transfer to India. Panetta suggested that for improvement in practical cooperation, US-India military exercises, which are already strong, must continue to be more regular and complex.
Worried over US’ defence focus on Asia, India tells Panetta to re-calibrate strategy
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, June 6
Worried over United States’ new defence focus on Asia, New Delhi today told Washington to re-calibrate its strategy, as India fears that it could lead to increased militarisation of its neighbourhood.

The two sides also reached an understanding that will enable transfer of cutting edge defence technology to India. At a bilateral meeting, Defence Minister AK Antony today told his US counterpart, Secretary Defence Leon Panetta “to move at a pace (in implementing the new military strategy) which is comfortable to all countries concerned.” India was concerned at the eastward swing of the US, officials said.

Under its new strategy, termed as ‘re-balancing’, the US wants 60 per cent of its naval assets, including six sea-borne aircraft carriers, under its Pacific Area Command (PACOM). India is under the area of influence of the PACOM, the US perceives.

China has already termed the new US policy as “untimely.”

Sources explained that India’s worry is Bay of Bengal turning into a volatile zone. China already has a naval base in Hangyyi Myanmar, the US is seeking berthing right at Chittagong port in Bangladesh while India is based in good numbers at Port Blair (Andaman Nicobar Islands).

In the hour-long meeting, Panetta appreciated India’s move to maintain ties with Pakistan while terming the Indo-Pak and US-Pak relations as ‘complicated’. “India and the US will need to continue to engage Pakistan, overcoming our respective - and often deep - differences with Pakistan”, Panetta said. Washington made it clear that it does not seek Indian troops in Afghanistan. However, it wants New Delhi to continue supporting the country through “trade investments, reconstruction and help for Afghan security forces” beyond the December 2014 deadline when international forces start withdrawing.

In a major policy shift, the US dropped its demand that India must sign two umbrella defence agreements. The Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and the Communications, Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), which had been the irritants, were not discussed today. Panetta made it clear “these are not issues anymore”.

During the discussion, Antony wanted both countries to move beyond the buyer-seller transactions and focus on transfer of technologies and partnerships. Panetta assured the Indian side that the US will facilitate technology access and sharing.
Air Force version of 'Akash' missile successfully test fired
The anti-aircraft missile has a strike range of 25 km & is capable of carrying 60 kg warhead
Press Trust of India / Balasore (Odisha) Jun 06, 2012, 10:04 IST

India today successfully test fired its indigenously developed surface-to-air 'Akash' missile of Air Force version from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near here, the fifth trial of the anti-aircraft system in the last fortnight.

"The Air Force version of Akash missile was test-fired from the ITR. The trial was successful and met all the mission objectives," a senior defence official said.
The anti-aircraft missile, with a strike range of 25 km and capable of carrying warhead of 60 kg, was test fired from a mobile launcher at launch complex-III of the ITR.

The trial, which formed part of the country's routine air defence exercises, was conducted at 0757 hrs, an official of Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) associated with the Akash missile project said.

To re-validate the technology and operational efficacy of the missile, defence forces conducted the trial with logistic support provided by the ITR, the official said. The Akash weapon system, which has its Army version too, was inducted into the armed forces in 2008.

Today's test-fire came after similar trials conducted from the same test range on May 24, 26, 28 and June 1. On June 1, two Air force version of Akash missiles had been test fired successfully in quick succession, the official said.

"During the trial, the sophisticated missile was aimed at intercepting floating object supported by a pilotless target aircraft at a definite altitude over the sea," defence sources said.
Defence ministry slams BEML chief for notice to Gen VK Singh
NEW DELHI: Ever since it was established a few months after India's humiliation by China in the 1962 war, BEML Limited has had a quiet existence. Making rail coaches, mining equipment and supplying sundry defence items, the Bangalore-based defence public sector unit (DPSU) has had an almost uneventful run, with modest dreams of having a billion dollar turnover by 2013-14 to coincide with its Golden Jubilee.

Those peaceful days are over for BEML, at least for now, with the Central Bureau of Investigation taking a close and sharp look at the way the company has been operating, especially in the defence sector. The present plight of BEML and its leadership was best exhibited today when the Ministry of Defence made an unusual move to publically rebuff its CMD VRS Natarajan on his move to issue a defamation notice to former Army chief General V K Singh.

"MoD has categorically denied giving permission to the CMD, BEML Shri VRS Natarajan to serve a legal notice for filing a defamation suit against General (Retd) VK Singh. The Ministry has asked Shri Natarajan to explain as to why he had made such a statement to the media," the MoD said in an official statement.

That may not be the only trouble for Natarajan and rest of BEML leadership, who run the 'Miniratna' DPSU, of which 54% is held by the government and the rest 46% is with the public, employees etc.

Sources say that credible evidence is emerging in CBI investigations raising questions about the motives of various decisions of BEML leadership over the years. BEML CMD Natarajan was not available to comment despite repeated attempts. In an earlier response TOI on May 15, BEML had vigorously defended its professional standards, while rubbishing allegations of exorbitant prices, lack of indigenization etc.

The CBI is investigating two cases concerning BEML. First, the allegation by former Army chief Gen V K Singh that he was offered Rs 14 crore to clear the purchase of Tatra trucks. Second, on a complaint against BEML and Natarajan that was referred to them by defence minister A K Antony in February.

Sources are indicating that the CBI inquiry is beyond just the purchase of Tatra trucks by BEML and its supply to the Army. CBI is also examining the supply of Armoured Recovery Vehicles (model WZT-3), Heavy Recovery Vehicle AV-15 and other equipment to the Army.

The monopoly enjoyed by DPSUs has been thoroughly exploited by dubious agents, foreign companies and other beneficiaries. BEML too, falls in the category, though the company has defended its management practices. In BEML and other DPSUs, who regularly get contracts on a 'nomination' basis from the MOD, these are further contracted out to foreign companies, often without even a competitive tender. Those in the know say that this business of DPSUs' outsourcing could be a massive scandal in itself. Many DPSUs only do marginal value addition to what is supplied by foreign vendors, and in some cases no addition at all, and put their stamp and re-supply it to the military.

Sources indicate that CBI may have already gathered evidence of BEML not exploiting technology transfers that were part of contracts to indigenise equipment, facilitating almost monopolistic position to foreign companies such as Tatra and ARV maker Bumar of Poland, and exorbitant pricing.

But what may spell real trouble for Natarajan and rest of the BEML leadership would be if the CBI finds any evidence of financial kickbacks or other illegal gratifications.,0,1311972.story
India not sold on closer military ties with U.S.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta meets with Indian officials, seeking enhanced defense cooperation. But India seems more interested in buying U.S. arms.
By David S. Cloud and Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times

June 7, 2012
NEW DELHI — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta urged India on Wednesday to build a closer military relationship with the United States, but Indian leaders appeared more interested in buying U.S. weapons than in aligning strategically with Washington.

Senior Indian officials made it clear in two days of talks that they will continue to set their own course on U.S. national security priorities, including isolating Iran and building upAfghanistan'smilitary forces, sometimes in tandem with Washington and sometimes not.

Panetta is visiting Asia this week to bolster military ties as the Obama administration, wary ofChina's growing clout in the region, seeks to reassert America's presence in the Pacific after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon chief described enhanced defense cooperation with India as "a linchpin" of the new strategy. But India has charted an independent foreign policy for decades, and its response was decidedly cool.

Panetta held meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defense Minister A.K. Antony, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and other government officials. But he did not hold a joint news conference with his Indian counterpart, as he usually does when he visits friendly countries.

"We'll never be an alliance partner with the U.S.," said Lalit Mansingh, an analyst and a former Indian ambassador to Washington. "The limit is a partnership."

The Pentagon has stationed tens of thousands of troops, plus aircraft and warships, at bases in Japan and South Korea since the end of World War II. But the U.S. withdrew from most of Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, and major bases in the Philippines closed in the early 1990s.

The U.S. maintains a large Navy ship and submarine support facility and air base on Diego Garcia, a British-controlled atoll in the Indian Ocean. It has no bases in India.

The new strategy aims to restore aU.S. militarypresence across the Asia-Pacific region, but not by building permanent bases or deploying large forces.

Instead, Panetta emphasized, the United States seeks to build up the militaries of friendly governments with arms sales and joint training with U.S. forces deployed on short rotations. The message was meant to reassure Indian officials, who are eager to modernize their armed forces but not to appear too cozy with Washington.

"Our vision is a peaceful Indian Ocean region supported by growing Indian capabilities," Panetta said in a speech at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, a think tank associated with the Indian military. "America will do its part … but the fundamental challenge is to develop India's capabilities so it can respond to challenges."

U.S. officials have said publicly that the new strategy is not aimed at confronting China, but Panetta's trip took him to India and Vietnam, two of China's historic rivals. Both nations have border and territorial disputes with Beijing and concerns about its expanding military might.

Senior officials traveling with Panetta said they hoped India would take a greater role in training Afghan army and police forces as the U.S. and its allies withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan over the next 2 1/2 years.

India brings a small number of Afghan officers to its military academies for instruction. It has balked at sending Indian troops to Afghanistan, even as trainers.

Panetta's travel plans don't include a stop in Pakistan, where CIA drone strikes this week killed Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader. Pakistan has repeatedly condemned the drone attacks as a violation of its sovereignty. It has also refused to allow truck convoys to supply U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan since errant U.S. airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, causing severe strains in relations.

In answer to a question at the think tank, Panetta was blunt about the problems between Islamabad and Washington.

"It's a complicated relationship, oftentimes frustrating, oftentimes difficult," he said. "They have provided some cooperation. There are other times when frankly that cooperation is not there. But the United States cannot just walk away from that relationship."

He urged India to improve relations with its traditional rival. The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars since 1947.

India is the world's largest arms importer. Washington was disappointed last year when U.S. companies lost out on a $12-billion deal to sell 126 fighter jets to New Delhi.

India maintains that the U.S. offered older aircraft technology. Officials also bridle at what they see as U.S. reluctance to transfer other sensitive technology, and Washington's insistence on after-sales, on-site inspections of equipment, part of U.S. policy to ensure sophisticated weapons aren't diverted to rogue states.

There are some signs that New Delhi and Washington are finding some middle ground, analysts said.

Several arms deals in the pipeline, amounting to about $8 billion in sales, have been signed with U.S. companies, partially allaying concern on Capitol Hill that India isn't fully committed to a defense relationship.

Both sides reportedly also are looking for ways to prevent diversion of sensitive technology without intrusive inspections.
Panetta makes it clear drone attacks will continue in Pakistan

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NEW DELHI –  Just two days after a drone strike killed Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made it clear Wednesday that such attacks will continue as long as the U.S. needs to defend itself against terrorists that threaten America.

Speaking in India -- on Pakistan's doorstep -- Panetta unapologetically dismissed suggestions that the strikes could violate Pakistan's sovereignty.

"This is about our sovereignty as well," he said when answering questions from the audience after a speech at an Indian think tank.

And he was blunt about the difficulties in the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, as insurgents continue to find safe haven there, despite repeated protests from American leaders.

"It's a complicated relationship, often times frustrating, often times difficult," Panetta said. "They have provided some cooperation. There are other times when frankly that cooperation is not there. But the United States cannot just walk away from that relationship. We have to continue to do what we can to try to improve (the) areas where we can find some mutual cooperation."

Panetta's message is likely to reverberate in Pakistan, particularly since it was delivered in India -- Pakistan's long-standing archrival.

But he also publically urged India to work toward a better relationship with Pakistan, its fellow nuclear-armed neighbor.

Both the U.S. and India must overcome deep differences with Pakistan to bolster peace and security in South Asia, he said in a speech to the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses here.

"Pakistan is a complicated relationship, complicated for both of our countries but it is one that we must continue to work to improve," Panetta said. "India and the United States will need to continue to engage Pakistan, overcoming our respective -- and often deep -- differences with Pakistan to make all of South Asia peaceful and prosperous."

He said he welcomed steps that India and Pakistan have taken to normalize trade relations as key to resolving their differences and a way to help Pakistan counter extremism within its borders.

But Panetta's speech comes as U.S. tensions with Pakistan continue to fray, strained by the persistent CIA drone attacks that target insurgents inside Pakistan as well as a deadlock in negotiation over U.S. shipments of supplies across the Afghanistan border.

Adding to that potential discord, Panetta also urged Indian leaders in meetings Tuesday and Wednesday to consider providing additional support to Afghanistan, including trade, reconstruction and assistance for the Afghan security forces.

Any increase in India's support for Afghanistan is likely to worry Pakistan, fueling fears that Islamabad's influence on the Afghans' future could diminish.

The U.S. is hoping that India can play a more robust role in the war effort, particularly in the training of Afghan forces, as the number of American and NATO troops in Afghanistan continues to decline over the next year.

In the past, India has cautiously helped the Afghan army, partly to avoid offending Pakistan or being drawn into Afghan security affairs.

India assisted Kabul mostly with economic and development aid and has helped build up the Afghan security forces by training Afghan police officers.

Training for Afghan soldiers extended to individual army officers who attended a multination course at the National Defense College in Delhi. There was no organized training of Afghan national army soldiers at Indian defense schools, but Afghan army soldiers have been attending courses at Indian military academies over the past few years.

Wrapping up a week of travel across Asia, Panetta said military cooperation with India is the linchpin to America's defense plan to focus more on the region. And he said that the two nations must move beyond individual arms sales and increase both the quality and quantity of their defense trade.

"For this relationship to truly provide security for this region and for the world, we need to deepen our defense and security cooperation," he said.

Panetta made only a passing reference to Iran in his speech and did not mention ongoing U.S. concerns that India continues to import large amounts of oil from Iran.

Earlier in the day Panetta met with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony and discussed increased defense trade and plans to conduct military exercises together. America's defense ties with India have grown steadily since about 2000, including a substantial increase in arms sales that now total more than $8.5 billion over the last 11 years.

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Afghan cadet trouble hounds military academy
Training the Afghan army has been described as a tough job, and India experienced it first hand last month. The Indian Army, which takes pride in its secular credentials, found itself facing a peculiar situation when Afghan cadets at the Officer's Training Academy in Chennai complained about
their "religious sentiments being hurt" by an officer-instructor there.

There were tense moments after an Afghan cadet was asked to remove a piece of paper on which he had scribbled some religious verses and pasted it in his cabin. A top general was visiting the academy and the cabins were being inspected ahead of his visit. Army officials said cadets are discouraged from displaying religious symbols as it clashes with army's secular outlook.

The cadet was asked to remove the paper from the wall. He, however, confronted the authorities. The paper was torn when the authorities were removing it. This enraged the cadet, leading to a virtual breakdown in discipline at the academy, army sources said.

Around 15 Afghan cadets locked horns with the major-rank instructor, blaming him for hurting their religious sentiments. More than 40 Afghans are currently training there. Some of the cadets refused to carry out the orders given to them, the sources said.

The matter could well have turned out to be a diplomatic row, had the Afghan embassy here not been informed in time. The Afghan defence attache immediately flew to Chennai to defuse the crisis.

"The defence attache apologised to the commandant on behalf of the cadets. There was a misunderstanding over some religious matter. The cadets expressed remorse over their behaviour," a senior officer said.

The incident comes at a time when Kabul is expecting India to expand its mentoring role ahead of the withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan in 2014. Also, Afghan cadets are not well-versed in English and this may have led to some miscommunication.

Apart from cadets undergoing training at the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla and the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, small batches of Afghan army officers are buffing up their English language skills at an army facility  in Madhya Pradesh .
Chief Of Army Staff General V.K. Singh: A Veteran’s Tribute – OpEd
The present Chief will be going out on a moral high. Despite a massive slander campaign launched by the manufactured media and some inimical elements, his reputation as an incorruptible leader and professionally upright commander remains intact. Having faced the wrath of a corrupt, manipulated and prejudiced environment, he will be long remembered for his attempts at cleansing the system”—- Major General (Retd) Mrinal Suman, May 26 2012, in “Sword and Shield”

Backed by nearly forty years of service in uniform, coupled with years of service as a military diplomat witnessing the workings of the US Army, British Army, Japanese Army and South Korean Army, a veteran’s tribute is in order to the outgoing Indian Army Chief of Army Staff, General V K Singh. This becomes necessary to dispel the haze of manufactured calumny that was let loose against General V K Singh in the wake of his filing the case in the Supreme Court on his age issue.

In this orchestrated campaign to belittle him for daring to step out of line, what stands obliterated are the tremendous and significant contributions made by General V. K Singh to the enhancement of the Indian Army profile in all dimensions.

As a veteran I would desist from touching the issue of General V. K. Singh’s age issue as in essence and at the core lie facts that would make any soldier to recoil in revulsion in the way the Indian Army’s cherished values of honour and integrity were given a go-by not by General V.K Singh but by those who should have had a higher call on the managing of this controversy.

Further, this is not the last that one would have heard over the age row and by delving on it further one would be minimising away from the significance of the contributions made by General V K Singh on which I would like to pay a veteran’s tribute.

Recalling the long line of Indian Army’s galaxy of Chiefs from 1957 onwards when I donned uniform as a cadet, only four Indian Army Chief’s figure significantly in my ‘Roll of Honour’ and they are General K S Thimayya, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, General Sunderji and now General V K Singh. All of them have been real professional soldiers, contributed to raising the operational profile of the Indian Army and transforming it in many ways. All of them were lustrous Indian Army Chiefs and added lustre to the Indian Army.

General VK Singh on assuming the command of the India Army set three or four targets for achievement. These were (1) Operational transformation of Indian Army into a modern, well-integrated force capable of effectively waging net-centric warfare (2) Improving the war-readiness of the Indian Army in view of the enhanced threats from Pakistan and China (3) Improving the ‘moral health’ of the Indian Army.

Never in the history of the Indian Army was a ‘Command-Level’ operational exercise held to test battle readiness and validation of operational concepts newly arrived at. Similarly, the number of Strike Corps operational exercises seems to have gone up. This process not only transformed and honed up Indian Army’s operational readiness to an all-time high but created a sobering impact on Pakistan Army. What else can you expect from a professional Chief?

Improving the war readiness of the Indian Army to meet the pronounced threats to India’s security lies only partly in the domain of the Chief of Army Staff. The major responsibility lies with the Ministry of Defence and the political executive to make required funds available and their personal drive and determination to materialise defence equipment acquisitions so that the Army Chief can focus on his prime focus forging a battle-worthy Indian Army rather than fighting turf battles with the bureaucratic middle-men interposed by India’s first Prime Minister.

Senior Army Officers have averred that the Army Chief informs in writing once every six months or so of the critical voids in Indian Army war readiness inventories to the Defence Minister and Prime Minister so that they could get things moving.

Regrettably, it seems that vested quarters leaked the Chief’s letter and blew out of proportion a routine process and gave it a vicious spin to discredit General V K Singh as having done this out of pique over his unsuccessful age row issue. The Government has yet to pin the blame as to who leaked this Top Secret letter in the public domain.

Anyway whoever leaked it and this cannot be at the middle level, has in its wake unleashed some favourable unintended consequences. The first unintended consequence was that the Country came to know dismal Indian Army’s war-preparedness was and secondly the Parliamentary Committee on Defence was forced to jump-start its focus on both counts.

General V K Singh stood vindicated when the Parliamentary Committee echoed what the Chief was pointing out.

General V K Singh on his third point of improving the ‘moral health’ of the India Army went about it with a messianic zeal. While within the Army he has been successful in implementing it in the higher echelons, he fell foul when this started impinging and overlapping with involvement of political circles and bureaucratic circles due to aberrations of some senior Army Officers.

As a senior veteran of the Indian Army, the concern which has always dominated my thoughts is that the Army should be engaged in a state of constant transformation to fight the next high-technology war. This General V K Singh has succeeded in admirably.

War-preparedness of the nation stood amply highlighted by General V K Singh going by media reports. In the process if he became a victim of manufactured calumny which logically would have arisen from those quarters beyond the Army Headquarters whose tardiness stood exposed. General V K Singh has done his job and if another 1962 is inflicted on the Indian Army, the country would know who is responsible.

In terms of ‘moral health’ of the Indian Army, he could do so only within the Indian Army and as Army Chief he cannot transform the country.

So on all counts General V K Singh, in my estimation as a senior veteran of the Indian Army you stand tall as professionally competent leader, morally upright and as one who went about your ‘transforming mission’ with a messianic zeal.
Gaya OTA to conduct maiden passing out parade
Gaya: The Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Gaya is poised to conduct its maiden Passing Out Parade on June 9, heralding a new era in the history of Indian Army.

Officers Training Academy, Gaya, better known as OTA Gaya is the third pre-commissioning military academy in the country. It was raised on July 18, 2011.

At present, there are two such pre-commissioning military training academies - The Indian Military Academy in Dehradun and the Officers Training Academy in Chennai for commissioning in the Indian Army.

To mark the commencement of the academy, a flag hoisting ceremony was solemnised by Lt Gen K Surendra Nath, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, General Officer Commanding in Chief, Army Training Command.

The consecration of the raising of the academy was carried out in true secular tradition of the Indian Army, with recital of scriptures from holy books of different religions.

The academy spread over 800 acres, has been equipped with state of the art training facilities, at par with other pre-commissioning training institutions.

The academy was formally inaugurated on November 14, 2011 by the former Chief of Army staff, General VK Singh PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ADC, in a modest ceremony.

The insignia of Officers Training Academy, Gaya has a two-colour background, with upper half as grey and the lower half blood-red, having two cross swords superimposed with the Dharmchakra. A scroll below bears the motto of the academy - ‘Shaurya, Gyan, Sankalp’ in devnagri.

The first batch of 149 trainee-officers, known as Gentlemen Cadets, joined the academy in the second week of July last year, while the second batch reported in January 2012, increasing the strength to nearly 350.

In the years to come, the total strength will be increased to 750.

The raising of this new academy is an effort to minimise the existing shortage of officers in the Indian Army.

Besides, it will also provide golden opportunity to more young aspirants who want to join the Indian Army as an officer.

Lt Gen Jatinder Sikand, VSM took over as the second Commandant in January 2012.

The academy has come a long way since its raising and can boast of having world class training infrastructure.

The academy has also hosted a number of high ranking foreign military delegations since its inception.
Army had been procuring obselete Tatra trucks: CBI
The CBI investigation into the procurement of Tatra heavy duty trucks has revealed that Tatra a.s., the Czech manufacturer of the vehicle, had long back stopped manufacturing the version that was being provided to the Indian army till recently.

“The Indian army got the T-815
version of Tatra trucks. The model remained almost unchanged till the time army chief General VK Singh refused to clear a consignment of around 600 Tatra trucks. We are investigating why the same version was procured despite the availability of better versions,” said a senior CBI official.

According to sources, the vehicle’s T-815 version procured by PSU Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) was replaced by better and more efficient versions like TERRN01, T-815 Armax and T-815 Force by the original manufacturer. But there were almost no changes in the trucks procured by the army. In fact, the T-815 version procured by the army was in licensed production only in India by BEML.

The CBI had reply from the BEML on the matter and some other issues. Sources reveal that the BEML has put the onus on the army for not asking about the improved versions.

“There are contradictions in the replies given by the BEML on the CBI’s questionnaire. One hand the BEML says it cannot even change even a nut or bolt on the trucks supplied by the manufacturer. But then it also says the BEML made improvements on many counts in the vehicles,” said sources.

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