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Thursday, 12 July 2012

From Today's Papers - 12 Jul 2012
Lt Col honey-trapped by Bangladeshi woman ‘ISI agent’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 11
A middle-rung Army officer is facing charges of establishing unauthorised contact with a Bangladeshi woman, suspected to be an ISI agent, who had last year trapped an Army officer posted in Dhaka.

The officer in question is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Armoured Corps and is posted in Suratgarh district of Rajasthan. He is facing a Court of Inquiry (CoI) for allegedly establishing contact with the woman, Sheeba, over social networking site Facebook, Army officials confirmed today. The contact between the two, as per Army authorities, was over Facebook. However, sources said he was arrested from a hotel in Delhi on a tip-off from an external intelligence agency.

The CoI was ordered after the Intelligence Bureau observed that the officer was in regular touch with Sheeba over Facebook. Army sources said the officer had not established physical contact with Sheeba and contact was restricted to the cyber domain. Sheeba was earlier allegedly involved in honey trapping another Lieutenant Colonel during his posting in Bangladesh. The Infantry officer was photographed with Sheeba at a party and then blackmailed by ISI to part with information.
Gen Bikram Singh is honorary General of Nepal Army

Kathmandu, July 11
Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh was today conferred with the Honorary General of the Nepali Army by President Ram Baran Yadav.

Singh was also presented with a sword, a certificate and the insignia of the Nepal Army during a function at Rastrapati Bhawan in the capital.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattrai and Chief of Army Staff of Nepal Army Chhatra Man Singh Gurung were present on the occasion.

Nepali and Indian armies have a tradition of conferring the rank of honorary general to each other’s chiefs. — PTI
Corruption in military
The malady requires an effective remedy
by Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (retd)

A TV channel recently showed a sting operation in which a junior commissioned officer is caught on camera handling wads of currency notes allegedly obtained from prospective candidates for various jobs in the military with a colonel-rank officer operating in the background. A maj-general is caught red-handed taking money from a contractor. These two are the more recent incidents of corruption in the Army. One is from down South, near Pune (National Defence Academy), and the other from up North in J and K. Earlier we had the case of Sukna land scam in the East where a few Lt-Generals were involved and were duly court-martialled. The DG, Supply Corps, a Lt-General rank officer, is court-martialled on charges of corruption.

A few from very high echelons of the Army are involved in the Adarsh housing society scam. The Supreme Commander of the armed forces, forsaking the very propriety of the act, reportedly made a desperate attempt to grab the military’s land in Pune. A more recent development is that of the nudging by the Supreme Court to hold court-martial of a number of officers involved in fake encounters at Pathribal in J and K, though the military should have done so on its own. Colonel Purohit is alleged to have been associated with a terrorist group. If all this is not enough, a second incidence of gross indiscipline in a unit at Nyoma in Ladakh leads one to infer that it is not only probity and integrity that are under assault but discipline also is on the wane. Corruption, malfeasance, fake encounters, ill-discipline, etc, from one end of the country to the other and right across the rank structure, give the impression that all is not well with our military.

During the last few decades the composition of manpower intake, both of officer class and the rank and file, has undergone a sea change. The military is simply not able to get suitable material, not only in the officer cadre, but in recruitment of soldiers too. With the opening of the economy and expansion in civil services, a number of lucrative options are on offer for the youth. Those likely to join the military as soldiers find the state and central police forces as a better option. Faced with these constraints, has the military lowered its intake standards?

In the early 1980s, army headquarters ordered a study to review the system of recruitment and selection for entry into the officer cadre. I headed the committee constituted to examine and review the officer selection system. Though the selection process had stood the test of time, military career as such had become least attractive and, as a result of that, a fewer number of suitable candidates had been opting to join the officer cadre. Consequent to this development, there was discernible tinkering with the selection process. Since then there has possibly been further lowering of intake standards!

The officer selection process is based on a triad system of evaluation. In this system three different techniques are applied over a period of four to five days to assess a candidate’s ability. When these three techniques are applied correctly, they are expected to produce the same result, thus reinforcing the selection process three times over.  It also eliminates the possibility of fudging the result by an operator of any of the three techniques without being found out. When applied correctly, it is the most comprehensive and authentic selection process devised so far anywhere, in any army. Of late, the DRDO has managed to bring in some changes in the selection process, perhaps for the worse. During the eighties the DRDO, working on the recruitment intake standards, had projected that weight carrying capacity had no bearing on the height of a person and other physical attributes and, as such, the requirement of a minimum height for recruitment be done away with. One was constrained to observe that the Army wanted to recruit soldiers and not coolies.

It may be argued that the military is a mere reflection of society — where corruption is rampant, right across the national spectrum, and is accepted and even respected. When cheating and lack of discipline are all-pervasive, the military could not remain unaffected. After all, the Army draws its manpower from the same stock. Even so in this climate of loot and plunder, malfeasance and state of lawlessness, the military has strived hard to maintain its core value system by creating a sort of rampart of “do’s and don’ts” to isolate it from outside influence.

Of late, this rampart has been under attack, both from outside and within and breaches have appeared, but the military has made brave attempts at repairing this wall of core values.  Cases of corruption, misconduct, false encounters and cheating have often manifested from within, cutting right across the rank structure. But the military has been quick to deal firmly with all such aberrations.  Though a more recent development, venality threatens to engulf the very top echelons of the Army.

Some may contend that the level of corruption in the military is not even a minuscule of what prevails in the government machinery and civil society, and, therefore, there is no need to worry about it. Military service is quite apart from all other callings and it demands the highest standards in probity, integrity and personal conduct from its officers. Any shortfall in these will render the force ineffective, and national security will stand imperilled.

Even with the lowering of intake standards, the Army continues to remain short of over 12000 officers, thus reinforcing the fact that over time military career has been turned into the least attractive option. The officer cadre has seen an influx of not so suitable leadership material and, as such, the profile of the officer cadre has been undergoing a change for the worse. Though the military does strive to develop leadership skills in its young officers and instil in them an appropriate value system, in many cases it does not succeed.

However, individual aspirations, careerism, personal gain and dilution of leadership traits do sometimes get the better of some individuals, but where failings in character qualities surface, or discipline is lacking, action to correct the fault-lines is both stern and swift. It is essential to detect fault-lines in character at early stages of an officer’s career and apply correctives, which could even be weeding out.  

The senior leadership in the military no more insists on setting good and enviable standards of conduct for juniors to follow. A few, at the very top, have faltered and fallen prey to greed.  As the higher rank officers climbed into what is called “five star culture”, quite distinct from what fits in the military’s way of life, lower down the ladder some junior rank officers slid down to levels unacceptable for the officer class.

Finally, the officer cadre is the very soul of an army and mainspring of the whole mechanism. Any fall in its standards will surely lead to failures during a war.
Prez confers Indian Army Chief Singh with honorary title
KATHMANDU: President Dr Ram Baran Yadav has conferred Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) of Indian Army Bikram Singh the Honorary rank of General of the Nepali Army amidst a function at Shital Niwas at 4 pm on Wednesday.

High ranking officials including Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattrai and Chief of Army Staff of Nepal Army Chhatra Man Singh Gurung were present on the occasion.

Nepali and Indian armies have a tradition of conferring the rank of honorary general to each other's chiefs.

This is Singh’s maiden foreign visit after taking over as COAS on May 31 earlier this year.

As part of the scheduled programmes, he has already visited Birendra Peacekeeping Operation Training Centre, Panchkhal today morning.

General Singh will visit Jomsom-based High Altitude Mountain Warfare School, Nepali Army Western Division Headquarters and Pension Paying Office in Pokhara, on Thursday.

He is also scheduled to visit the birthplace of Lord Buddha in Lumbini and address the 19th command and staff course cadets on Friday, before wrapping up his five-day visit.
Army pitches for huge funds to counter China and Pakistan
NEW DELHI: The 12th Army Plan charts out an ambitious roadmap to improve the combat ratio against both China and Pakistan, upgrade military infrastructure along the "northern borders'', ensure third-generation night-fighting capabilities and induct attack helicopters.

Another thrust area in the 2012-2017 plan is to "overcome the slippages'' or the "critical hollowness'' in arms and ammunition that seriously hobbled the 1.13-million strong force in the 11th Plan period, sources said.

All this will not come cheap. The Army has projected a requirement of over Rs 10 lakh crore for the 12th Plan period spread over five annual budgets. But, as is the practice, the finance ministry is likely to approve only around 60% of the amount being demanded.

Incidentally, the Army's budget is pegged at Rs 96,564 crore this fiscal, with the capital allocation for new acquisitions being just 24% of it. The ray of hope is defence minister A K Antony's promise to seek a mid-year hike in the overall Rs 1,93,408 crore defence outlay in the 2012-2013 budget in the backdrop of "new ground realities'' and the deepening military nexus between China and Pakistan.

New Army chief General Bikram Singh, who left for Nepal on Tuesday, on his part, has laid down that his top-most priority is to "hone'' the Army's "operational readiness'' through modernization as per strict timelines, up-to-date training and "jointness'' with Navy and IAF.

This will take a lot of doing. The Army, after all, painted a grim picture in its 11th Plan (2007-2012) review, pointing at huge operational gaps in artillery, aviation, air defence, night-fighting, ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) and specialized tank and rifle ammunition, as reported earlier.

With around Rs 41,000 crore required to plug just these "current deficiencies'', the defence ministry is only now trying to fast-track arms acquisitions worth over Rs 15,000 crore.

A crucial project during the 12th Plan is to raise the new mountain strike corps, with two specialized divisions for high-altitude areas, at a cost of well over Rs 60,000 crore.

Dedicated for "rapid reaction ground force capability'' against China, this corps will have its HQs in Panagarh (West Bengal). It will add to the two new infantry divisions already raised at Zakama (Nagaland) and Missamari (Assam).

Capability development along the "northern borders'' facing China, to be completed by 2020-2021, is pegged at another Rs 26,155 crore. Ongoing infrastructure development in the Eastern Army Command, at a cost of Rs 9,243 crore, in turn, is slated for completion by 2016-2017.

The Army also plans to spend over Rs 40,000 crore on "night enablement'' of its mechanized forces, with over 3,000 tanks and 1,900 infantry combat vehicles, as well as infantry battalions.

Long-term plans for enhancement of "aviation assets'' include at least a squadron each of attack/armed, reconnaissance/observation and tactical battle-support helicopters for each of the 13 corps in the Army. Over this, each of the six regional or operational commands will at least get "a flight'' of five fixed-wing aircraft for tactical airlift of troops and equipment, sources said.
DRDO starts work on the new artillery gun intended for the Indian Army
The Indian defence agency, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) announced yesterday that they have started the work on the new artillery gun, to be inducted in to the Indian Army.
Dr S Sundaresh, the Chief Controller R&D (ACE – Armament and Combat Engineering) in DRDO claimed that the new 155 mm 45 calibre guns will take more than 10 years for its development. He said that the DRDO will partner with a foreign defence firm, for the development of the new artillery pieces.

The former army chief, Gen VK Singh had complained to the defence minister on May this year that the army is facing serious shortages of artillery equipment. The army has not received new artillery guns ever since the 1980s, when 410 units of the 155mm Howitzer field guns were purchased from the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors. The Ministry of Defence had recently approved a deal for the purchase of M777 Lightweight Towed Howitzer guns, but experts claim that the guns are insufficient to meet all the artillery needs of the army.

Dr Sundaresh claimed that the DRDO officials are currently holding talks with the army officials, to finalize the specifications of the new gun. He said that the gun will be equipped with advanced technological features, such as enhanced recoil system with electrorheological (ER) fluid, electrical drive to rotate and position the gun, and special coating for the barrel to enhance its longevity. He said that the development process is likely to take somewhere around five to seven years, and the production is likely to commence by 2021 or by 2022.

Dr Sundaresh also informed the media that currently no other country in the world is developing new artillery guns. He claimed that although defence manufacturers like Nexter, BAE Systems Bofors, Denel and Singapore Technologies are currently manufacturing artillery equipment, they are using the old technology, without any new research being done on the field. He further added that the Ordnance Factory Board is also going to manufacture the 155mm 39 calibre guns, in addition to the 45 calibre guns, but DRDO will not be involved in the former.
The Indian Army’s Greatest Tragedy!
In the mad race to boost circulation and viewer ratings, the media may have, in one go, started the process of demolishing one of the last institutions that has stood rock solid in defence of idea that is India, says NDTV’s Security and Strategic Affairs Editor Nitin Gokhale.

In my three decades of reporting on the Indian military, I have never felt more uneasy about the military-media interface as I have in the past three months.

This is not because the media has been accused of being sensationalist or because many unsavoury truths about internal rivalry and groupism in the military brass have created bad blood in the top hierarchy.

My unease stems from the damage that the events of the past few months have inflicted on the average Indian soldier.

For at least a quarter of a century now, we have been lamenting the steadily diminishing status of the ordinary Indian soldier in society; that soldiering is no longer respected as a noble profession in our rural areas; that the jawan struggles to get his due from a civil administration increasingly contemptuous and apathetic towards him; that he continues to get paid poorly and treated unfairly by a society solely driven by materialism.

Now, following a spate of reports based on half-truths and outright lies, motivated by God alone knows what, we may have done the ultimate disservice to the Indian soldier: Planted the seed of suspicion about his loyalty in the minds of ordinary Indians.

The ultimate disservice to the Indian soldier

While I will defend the right of every media person to report what he or she thinks is right, I am afraid none of us has thought through the consequences of the effect it will have on the psyche of the Indian soldier and, more importantly, the way ordinary Indians will view the Indian Army.

In the mad race to boost our circulation and viewer ratings, we may have, in one go, started the process of demolishing one of the last institutions that has stood rock solid in defence of the idea that is India.

For the first time in my now reasonably long career in journalism, I feel like hiding from my friends in the military.

I feel we have not paused to think about the long-term damage we have wrought upon the profession of soldiering.

While all dramatis personae are equally culpable in the current controversy, we in the media certainly have a greater responsibility not to add fuel to the fire.

The Army is India’s Brahma Asthra

I say this because from disaster relief in floods, tsunamis and earthquakes, to rescuing an infant Prince from a deep tube well and from quelling rioters in communal strife to being the last resort in internal counter-insurgency operations, the Indian Army has been omnipresent.

It is, what I call, India’s Brahma Asthra (the ultimate weapon).

The Indian Army’s versatility, adaptability, selfless attitude and resourcefulness has allowed it to be what it is today: Nation Builders.

Viewed in the context of India’s immediate and extended neighbourhood, the Indian Army’s stellar role stands out in stark contrast to its counterparts in other countries.

Remember, the Indian and Pakistani armies originated from the same source, the British army. Yet, six decades since they parted ways, there couldn’t be a bigger dissimilarity in the way the two have evolved.

As they say, India has an army while the Pakistani army has a nation!

More importantly, despite India’s increasing dependence on its army to pull its chestnuts out of fire time and again, the Indian Army has scrupulously remained apolitical.

A systematic assault on the Indian Army

The Indian Army’s contribution in nurturing and strengthening democracy with all its faults can never be underestimated.

It has put down fissiparous and secessionist forces within India at great cost to itself over the last 60-odd years. It has protected India from within and without.

The Indian Army also has a unique distinction of helping create a nation (Bangladesh) in the neighbourhood and then quietly walking away to let the people take charge.

In contrast, the Pakistani army has never really allowed democracy to flourish in its country. Instead, it has created a military-industrial complex that has spread its tentacles in every aspect of governance.

Even today, the Pakistani army does not let go of any opportunity to undercut democracy; it nurtures and treats jihadi elements as its strategic asset against India and the United States.

Even in other smaller nations around India — Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh, for instance — the armed forces have had to intervene and run the affairs of those countries at some point.

The Indian Army has also withstood systematic assaults on its status from politicians and bureaucrats who are forever looking for ways to downgrade the military’s status.

While the principle of civilian supremacy over the armed forces is well entrenched and understood in India, what is incomprehensible is the constant chipping away at the military’s standing.

The Army, the civilian and the politician

The nation as a whole, and indeed the people at large, have the highest regard and affinity for the men in uniform for the yeoman service they render in every conceivable situation.

However, most mandarins at the ministry of defence and some politicians do not have the same opinion and are repeatedly trying to run down the military without realising the immense damage they cause to the only available bulwark we have against any attempt to Balkanise India.

Now, unfortunately, even we in the media seem to have joined this ill-informed and devious bunch of opportunists.

As a former chief of the army staff, General S Padmanabhan, says in his book, A General Speaks, ‘Even after Independence, India’s political leaders found it convenient to keep the Army, Navy and the Air Force out of the policy-making bodies. The service HQs were left at the level that the British left them — that of being attached offices of the ministry of defence. Even at the level of defence minister and service chiefs, exchanges on major matters of defence policy were few and far in between.’

Another former army chief, General Shankar Roy Choudhury, has observed: ‘It is essential in the national interest that the armed forces are upgraded and updated on an ongoing basis, something which governments have been traditionally loath to acknowledge and undertake, the Indian government perhaps more so than others in this respect.’

We must back the nation’s strongest asset

Historically, it is to the credit of the Indian Army that it has fulfilled its role as an organ of the State; it has functioned effectively in every type of role, in spite of the general lack of a supportive government environment by way of adequate finances, resources, equipment, personnel policies, or higher political direction.

A nation’s military provides what is called a hard-edged back-up to its international standing.

A strong military — and especially a powerful, well-trained, fully equipped army — acts as a deterrent against adversaries.

It is therefore essential that the nation’s decision-makers consciously back the army and provide it with the support it needs to meet diverse challenges that exist and are likely to come up in the coming decade.

So far, the Indian Army has fulfilled its role in nation building admirably well.

All of us — ordinary citizens, media persons, politicians, bureaucrats — must continue to back the nation’s strongest asset and further strengthen it, if we desire to see India as a global player in the decades to come.

The Army is vital for India’s survival

Centuries ago, Kautilya, the wily old strategist, told Emperor Chandragupta Maurya why the soldier is important for the kingdom’s survival.

If India has to survive as a nation-state, this advice (reproduced from a piece written by Air Marshal S G Inamdar for the USI Journal) is worth repeating in its entirety here.

As the learned Air Marshal says: ‘It is amazing how clearly those ancients saw the likely fault lines in governance, the intricacies of management of the military by the state functionaries, the nature of the military and the citizenry and the close interplay between them all. It is truly amazing how those observations continue to be so completely relevant today, even after 2,000 years.

‘Here’s what Kautilya told the king of Magadh:

‘The Mauryan soldier does not himself the royal treasuries enrich nor does he the royal granaries fill.

‘He does not himself carry out trade and commerce nor produce scholars, thinkers, litterateurs, artistes, artisans, sculptors, architects, craftsmen, doctors and administrators.

‘He does not himself build roads and ramparts nor dig wells and reservoirs.

‘He does not himself write poetry and plays, paint or sculpt, nor delve in metaphysics, arts and sciences.

‘He does not do any of this directly as he is neither gifted, trained nor mandated to do so.’

What the soldier does for his nation

The soldier only and merely ensures that:

‘The tax, tribute and revenue collectors travel far and wide unharmed and return safely;

‘The farmer tills, grows, harvests, stores and markets his produce unafraid of pillage and plunder;

‘The trader, merchant and moneylender function and travel across the length and breadth of the realm unmolested;

‘The savant, sculptor, painter, maestro and master create works of art, literature, philosophy, astronomy and astrology in peace and quietitude;

‘The architect designs and builds his Vaastus without tension;

‘The tutor (acharya), the mentor (guru) and the priest (purohit) teach and preach in tranquility;

‘The sages (rishis, munis and tapaswis) meditate and undertake penance in wordless silence;

‘The doctor (vaidyaraja) tends to the ill and the infirm well, adds to the pharmacopoeia, discovers new herbs and invents new medical formulations undisturbed;

‘The mason, the bricklayer, the artisan, the weaver, the tailor, the jeweller, the potter, the carpenter, the cobbler, the cowherd (gopaala) and the smith work unhindered;

‘The mother, wife and governess go about their chores and bring up children in harmony and tranquility;

‘The aged and the disabled are well taken care of, tended to and are able to fade away gracefully and with dignity;

‘The cattle graze freely without being lifted or harmed by miscreants.’

The soldier is the very basis of a nation

He is thus the VERY BASIS and silent, barely visible CORNERSTONE of our fame, culture, physical well-being and prosperity; in short, of the entire nation building activity.

‘He DOES NOT perform any of these chores himself directly: he ENABLES the rest of us to perform these without let, hindrance or worry (nirbheek and nishchinta).

‘Our military sinews, on the other hand, lend credibility to our pronouncements of adherence to good Dharma, our goodwill, amiability and peaceful intentions towards all our neighbour nations (Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaha, Sarve Santu Niramayaha…) as also those far away and beyond.

‘These also serve as a powerful deterrent against military misadventure by any one of them against us.’

Standing vigil, eyes peeled for action, day and night, dawn-to-dusk-to-dawn…

‘If Pataliputra reposes each night in peaceful comfort, O King, it is so because she is secure in the belief that the distant borders of Magadha are inviolate and the interiors are safe and secure, thanks to the mighty Mauryan army constantly patrolling and standing vigil with naked swords and eyes peeled for action (animish netre) day and night (ratrau-divase) in weather fair and foul, dawn-to-dusk-to-dawn (ashtau prahare) quite unmindful of personal discomfort and hardship, loss of life and limb, separation from the family, all through the year, year after year (warsha nu warshe).

‘While the Magadha citizenry endeavours to make the State prosper and flourish, the Mauryan soldier guarantees that the State continues to EXIST! He is the silent sine qua non of our very being!’

Can we all people in uniform, civil services, politics, media and society at large — imbue this spirit?

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