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Friday, 15 June 2012

From Today's Papers - 15 Jun 2012







http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120615/main2.htm
Focus on AFSPA as Army Chief visits J-K today
Arun Joshi/TNS

Jammu, June 14
When Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh lands in Jammu and Kashmir tomorrow, he will bring with him a new message of ending clash of egos that had erupted between his predecessor Gen VK Singh and the state government over the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

This happens to be his first visit to any state after assuming the office on May 31. It shows how much importance the Army gives to the Himalayan state that shares borders with Pakistan, PoK and China.

In Jammu and Kashmir, stakes of the Army run from the dizzying heights of the Siachen glacier in Ladakh to the undulating mountain ranges in north and south of the Pir Panjal and the Jammu region. It is guarding the frontiers, taking care of the infiltration bids from across the LoC, guarding the mostly un-demarcated LAC with China and fighting militancy in the hinterland of the state. There is no other state in the country that poses as many challenges to the Army.

Gen Bikram Singh is not new to the state, as he had served in various capacities here, including as the General-Officer-Commanding of all important and strategic Srinagar-based 15 corps.

He is expected to utilise his past familiarity with the state leadership to iron out the differences that cropped up between the two sides over the past two years.

It is an open secret that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s words against the Indian Army in the wake of Sopore killings in February 2009, the alleged fake Machail encounter of 2010 and statement on the removal of AFSPA from some parts of the state in 2011 did not go down well with the Army.

Omar was also not happy the way Army stalled his first big political initiative as regards special powers of the security forces. The Army had opposed his proposal, summoning all sorts of worst-case scenarios.

“Things may not change overnight, but the clash of egos that created a wall between the two sides would melt, hopefully,” said a National Conference leader.

The relations were so estranged between the two sides that no meeting of the unified headquarters, of which the Chief Minister is the chairman, has been held since November 9 last year. The two sides drew their own redlines and no one dared to cross that.

CONFIDENCE BUILDING

l It is Gen Bikram Singh’s first visit to any state after assuming the office on May 31

l He is not new to the state as he has served there in various capacities earlier

l Over the past 2 years, several differences have cropped up between the state and the Army, especially on lifting AFSPA

l The Army Chief is expected to utilise his past familiarity with the state leadership to iron out those differences

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120615/main4.htm
India, US resolve to take ties to next level
Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington DC

The Obama administration’s decision to exempt India from sanctions for its oil imports from Iran and the signing of a memorandum of understanding that paves the way for a US firm to construct nuclear power plants in Gujarat helped lift the mood at the third US-India strategic dialogue in Washington.

US and Indian officials made it a point this week to dispel a growing sentiment that the US-India relationship has been “oversold” and “run adrift.” These two developments served as a fillip to their argument.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said the memorandum of understanding signed between Westinghouse Electric Co. and the Nuclear Power Company of India Ltd. on Tuesday “assumes special importance because of certain reservations which had crept in after we passed the Nuclear Liability Bill in Parliament.”

“There was a lurking fear among business houses about their own involvement,” Krishna told reporters at a press conference at his hotel in Washington on Wednesday evening. “This Westinghouse memorandum of understanding opens up new vistas of opportunities for business in the United States,” he added.

Meanwhile, India continued its quest for access to David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana linked to the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Both Coleman and Rana are in a Chicago prison. Krishna raised the issue with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton when they co-chaired the strategic dialogue at the State Department.

“We are actually looking for access right now. This is an ongoing process,” said Foreign Secretary Rajan Mathai.

Headley pleaded guilty in March 2010 to all 12 counts against him, including aiding and abetting the murders of the six Americans who died in the Mumbai attacks. He testified that he attended Lashkar-e-Toiba training camps in Pakistan five times between 2002 and 2005. In late 2005, he received instructions from LeT members to travel to India to conduct surveillance, which he did five times leading up to the Mumbai attacks three years later.

Rana, a Chicago-based Pakistani native, was acquitted by a US jury of conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorists who attacked Mumbai. He was found guilty of helping plan an attack on the Copenhagen offices of Jyllands-Posten newspaper and convicted on one count of providing material support to the LeT.

Responding to a question on India’s request for access to Headley and Rana, Hillary said: “With respect to information sharing, it is our policy and practice to share information, and we do that.” She declined to get into details of this information sharing, but said: “It’s also important that we support the work that is done by our professionals and our experts in protecting both of our countries, and I think we are satisfied that is occurring.”

At his meeting in Washington, Krishna also raised the importance of eliminating terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and briefed the US side on recent breakthroughs in the India- Pakistan relationship.

He said the US was aware that India, particularly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has been “going out of his way in order to extend his hand of friendship with Pakistan, and of late there has been some responses which are very encouraging from the Pakistan side.”

Krishna, who is due to visit Pakistan in July, said Pakistan had proposed a date that conflicts with “very important” prior commitments in India. New Delhi has sent a message to Islamabad to rework the dates.

On Afghanistan, there is a distinct change of heart in Washington about India’s role in the Central Asian nation. The George W. Bush administration had issued a demarche in 2002 instructing India to reduce its footprint in Afghanistan to avoid upsetting Pakistan. Now, as the US-Pakistan relationship has grown strained and a 2014 deadline looms to withdraw US combat forces from Afghanistan, the Obama administration wants India to play a bigger role.

The US wants India to train Afghan security forces. Krishna said India was already doing so, but, he added, “India’s position is that this has to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. We are willing to assist them.”

The Indian delegation briefed their American interlocutors on the work India is already doing in Afghanistan. “I am very pleased that Afghanistan is getting this kind of encouragement and tangible support because it’s in everyone’s interests that Afghanistan be as secure and stable as possible,” said Hillary.

A major irritant in the US-India relationship was set aside earlier this week when Hillary granted an exemption to India from sanctions noting that it had “significantly reduced” its volume of crude oil purchases from Iran. This exemption will be reviewed after 180 days.

“The United States appreciates that India has made it clear it understands the importance of denying Iran a nuclear weapon and supports the efforts to ensure Iran’s compliance with international obligations,” Hillary said on Wednesday.

As India seeks to wean itself off Iranian oil, Krishna said it was looking at other countries, including Saudi Arabia, to fulfill its energy needs. “India takes a decision taking its domestic requirements into consideration,” he added.

Krishna declined to comment on US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s description of India as a “linchpin” in the US’ new defence strategy in Asia-Pacific region. While the US and India share concerns about China’s growing presence in Indian Ocean, New Delhi has been reluctant to embrace a US strategy that may fuel suspicion in Beijing about an attempt to contain China. Hillary has sought to allay these concerns by proposing a trilateral dialogue between the US, India and China.


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120615/nation.htm#2
No let-up in firing from Pak side in Poonch
Troops use 10,000 rounds of heavy machine gun fire
One jawan killed
2 Pak soldiers injured as Army retaliates
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/ Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Jammu/New Delhi, June 14
While a soldier who had been critically injured in Pak firing on Indian forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in KG sector of Poonch district yesterday, was brought dead last night, calibrated response of the Indian Army injured two Pak soldiers.

Reports from agencies say there has been no let-up in the firing.

The slain soldier has been identified as Lance Naik Harvinder Singh. “Had Pak troops de-escalated the situation after we passed on to them a message on hotline, the life of the soldier could have been saved,” said official sources.

“In fact, the firing escalated as a result of action rooted in other Pak posts, using rockets and heavy automatics, to prevent evacuation of the injured jawan,” said Jammu-based Defence PRO, Col RK Palta.

The soldier had been hit in the neck.

A message was passed through the hotline to Pakistan, for exercise of restraint towards de-escalation of the situation. Pakistan troops, however, continued firing on Indian posts and in response, Indian troops carried out controlled and effective retaliation, added Col Palta.

Sources said the two soldiers sent to evacuate their colleague were also hit by Pak firing. They were, however, evacuated to Command Hospital in Udhampur, where they are recuperating.

Another soldier was also hit by Pak firing, but he had sustained minor injuries, they said, adding that this soldier had been administered first aid at a forward post along the LoC.

Three injured jawans have been identified as PP Bakar, Jai Parminder and Balwinder Singh.

Army sources said even this morning and during the day, Pak troops continued intermittent mortar and automatic firing.

They added that the Indian troops, in a bid to de-escalate matters, exercised restraint today and didn’t retaliate to Pak firing.

Sources also confirmed that calibrated response of the Indian Army to unwarranted and unprovoked firing by Pak troops resulted in injuries to two of their soldiers.

Meanwhile, an agency report from Islamabad claimed that two Pakistani civilians, including a woman, were seriously injured in alleged firing by Indian troops in the Battal sector of the Line of Control on their side.

The Indian side believes that the fire was aimed at providing cover to infiltrators from Pakistan across the LoC.

Some 10,000 rounds of heavy machine gun were used by Pakistani troops during “intense, unprovoked” firing since Wednesday. Defence sources have termed it as a severe violation of the ceasefire by Pakistan.

Pakistani troops have been firing constantly at a specific location in areas around Krishna Ghati — some 180 km south-west of Srinagar. The firing has left the Indian military authorities guessing about the motive of the other side. Defence sources said the Pakistani firing was not connected to any localised event or development on the ground along the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K.

Militants trying to sneak into this side of the border are usually given such a covering fire, sources said, adding the militants are then pushed in through the gaps on the barbed wire fence.

The gun battle was going on till today evening. On the Pakistani target are two Indian posts at ‘Nangi Tekri’ and ‘Kranti Post’. The Indian side has so far not reinforced its troops. Source said the Battalion responding to the Pakistanis is well equipped.

Sources say firing is carried out when equipment is being moved or something is being built across the border. This is to distract the men in the operational watch towers to prevent them from seeing any build-up.

Another reason is the Indian battalion located in the sector moved in only a month ago. The Pakistanis could be “testing it out.”

(With inputs from IANS)

Unprovoked firing

    Lance Naik Harvinder Singh, critically injured in Pakistani firing along the LoC, was confirmed dead
    A message was passed through the hotline to Pakistan, for exercise of restraint to de-escalate the situation
    Pakistan troops, however, continued firing on Indian posts and in response, Indian troops retaliated. The calibrated response resulted in injuries to two Pakistani soldiers


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120615/edit.htm#2
Lethal and small
Miniaturised drones and future of war

Armies the world over seek weapons that maximise enemy losses while minimising their soldiers’ exposure. Now there is a new kid on the block, Switchblade, which is a drone issued to the soldiers deployed in Afghanistan by the US army.

It can be carried in a backpack and used on the battlefield instead of calling for an air-strike. The Switchblade is a lightweight, unmanned drone which the soldiers will be able to launch in the battlefield and use to kill enemy snipers and other targets. In the war in Afghanistan, the increasing use of drones of all kinds under the Obama administration has proved effective in reducing American casualties, although concerns remain about the collateral damage that drone attacks often entail.

While the Switchblade is essentially a small drone with a relatively small explosive charge as compared with its bigger and more lethal predecessors like Predator and Reaper, it has its own risks. Instead of a senior officer giving the command, the decision will now be taken at the platoon level, or even by individual soldiers on the scene, who would not be able to see beyond their immediate environment.

In any case, the use of drones in war is now fast on its way of becoming an established practice. It is widely seen as inevitable as armies seek more and get more sophisticated gadgets which make it possible to conduct missions in areas that are too dangerous to risk pilots. However, drone attacks have also raised questions about violations of territorial rights of sovereign states, and brought to the fore many ethical issues that arise because of their deployment. Drones are among the many robotic machines that increase the effectiveness of troops and reduce their exposure. They are the flavour of the season, but the allure of the technological marvels that they are should not eclipse the fact that these remain deadly machines and deployment of these has real, often fatal, consequences on human beings who become their targets.

http://www.indoamerican-news.com/?p=7350
Despite 657 New Officers, Indian Army Still Faces Big Shortage of Officers
By Raj Kanwar

IAN India Correspondent

India’s IMA along with US Military Academy, West Point and Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst are three of the best military academies in the world.

India boasts of world’s third largest standing Army behind the Peoples’ Liberation Army of China and the armed forces of the United States. The country is also very proud of its armed forces which have proved their mettle in battle after battle over a period of more than 100 years, and won innumerable laurels and kudos in battlefields across the world. The Dehra Dun-based Indian Military Academy (IMA) is the primary source of providing officer cadre to the Indian Army. Over the past 80 years, IMA has produced more than 51,000 officers for the Indian Army. However, the Indian Army today is facing a gnawing shortage of officers.

The sanctioned strength of officers in the Army is around 46,500. However, according to Defense minister AK Antony, the Indian Army is short of 12500 officers as of 2010. The question before the Indian Military establishment is how to fill up this sizeable gap? The army, which has growing commitments both on its Western and Eastern fronts, has proposed an increase by 16,000 officers in its sanctioned strength. However, it is easier said than done. It takes two to four years to train an officer and the existing infrastructure at IMA is already bursting at its seams and would need to be substantially expanded if the intake of gentlemen cadets is to be increased.

The Indian Military Academy has an expansive complex spread across 1400 lush green acres nestling at the foothills of the Himalayas. At any given time, it trains 1800 cadets. It holds two graduation ceremonies every year in months of June and December called, “Passing out Parades”, each approximately with 550 to 700 commissioned officers. At the Passing out Parade held Saturday last week, 657 new officers joined the ranks of the Indian Army; additionally there were 21 gentlemen cadets from friendly foreign countries who were also trained at the Academy.

IMA Commandant Lt. Gen. Manvender Singh told media persons Friday that IMA had proposed to increase its intake from the present 1800 to 2400 cadets. However, it would need 2000 acres of additional land sufficient to meet the training requirements for a larger number of cadets. He also indicated that the National Defense Academy (NDA) too would be expanded. Incidentally, NDA is the principal inter-service training institution which trains future officers of the Indian Armed Forces. After a strenuous 3-year long training, the army cadets from there are sent to IMA while Navy and Air Force cadets are sent to their respective Naval Academy and Air Force Academy.

The only other training institute is the Officers’ Training School (OTS). It was set up in 1963 in the wake of Chinese aggression of 1962 and its primary task then was to train gentlemen cadets for emergency commission in order to meet the expanded requirements of officers. OTS was renamed as Officers’ Training Academy (OTA) on January 1, 1988 when it completed 25 years of its existence. However, it had started training officers for short service commission much earlier from 1965 onwards.  Later, with the entry of women officers into the army from since September 21, 1992, about 100 lady officers are trained there every year.

The birth of the Indian Military Academy in December 1932 was the culmination of a long and persistent demand by a strong and vocal Indian public opinion for the grant of commission to Indians in the British Indian Army. The first batch of 40 gentlemen cadets fittingly called ‘The Pioneer’ was commissioned in 1934. It included big names like Smith Dun, Mohammad Musa and SHFJ Manekshaw. Dun was to later become the Chief of the Burmese Army and Musa of the Pakistan Army. Manekshaw, as is well known, went on to become a Field Marshal, and led the historic 1971 Indo-Pak war that ended with the creation of Bangladesh. Another distinguished pioneer was MF de Mellow who was to become a legend for his news broadcasts on All India Radio during the World War II and later as a star cricket commentator.

Today, IMA stands along with the United States Military Academy, West Point and the UK’s Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst as three of the best military academies in the world. There is also a good deal of mutual respect and bonhomie amongst these three international military academies.

Indian Military Academy has set up some hoary traditions which successive generations of gentlemen cadets imbibe. The most famous is the Chetwode Credo which instills in every cadet the religious belief “that the safety, honor and welfare of the country would come first always and every time, the honor welfare and comfort of the men you command come next and finally your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.”

At the Passing out Parade Saturday, there were a large number of parents, who had come from various parts of the country to proudly watch their sons getting commissioned that day into the Indian army. I accosted a farmer from Bihar dressed in a loose shirt and lungi; he wore his pride on his shirt sleeve, and there were tears of joy in his eyes when he told how hard his son studied even when he could not afford to pay for his tuitions etc. There were some siblings too prancing about to celebrate the grant of commission in the Indian army to their brothers. There were proud sisters as well. It was almost like a mini India with parents (and siblings too) coming from various parts of the country to see for themselves what would be a red-letter day in the life of their son.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/Army-rubbishes-NSCNIM-Assam-Rifles-links/articleshow/14120445.cms
Army rubbishes NSCN(IM)-Assam Rifles links
IMPHAL: The Army's Red Shield Division has rubbished the claims of NSCN(IM) that Assam Rifles, operating in Manipur's Tamenglong district, has a nexus with Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF).

There have been frequent exchange of fire between ZUF and NSCN (IM), resulting in the death of cadres of both sides in Tamenglong since the last one year. These clashes are believed to be over area-domination and control by the two rival rebel groups.

The latest gunfight took place in the jungles of Ejeirong in Tamenglong on May 30, killing two ZUF cadres. "The Assam Rifles, under the Red Shield Division, has a clear mandate of not allowing any armed movement of militant groups in the area under its responsibility," said a defence statement. It added that public meetings and pamphlet campaigns, undertaken by the Army division against intimidation of local population by rebel groups, has not only made the people more aware but has also strongly weaned the masses out of the fear psychosis created in their minds by militants, especially NSCN (IM).

"All major incidents of firing and burning down of vehicles on NH-53 last year were perpetrated by NSCN (IM) cadres. It is also interesting to note that civil functionaries and so called finance functionaries of NSCN (IM) were chased out of the Longmai area by locals after the January 24 incident of shooting carried out by NSCN (IM) in Noney," said the statement.

The allegation of militants using Assam Rifles vehicles and supplied with arms and ammunition is a "figment of wild imagination of NSCN (IM)," it said. It iterated the Red Shield Division's stand that no armed movement of any underground group will be allowed and is committed to ensuring peace and harmony.


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