Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Sunday, 12 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 12 Aug 2012
New accounting system for Navy

New Delhi, August 11
With crores of rupees in its budget to be to be managed, the Navy now has a real time access to spending patterns and balance available in the budget. Defence Minister AK Antony today commissioned the financial information system (FIS) developed by information technology giant Wipro. Made at a cost of Rs 32 crore, the FIS will convey to budget controllers in Delhi and three other Naval commands in real time how each rupee was being spent.

Besides Naval Headquarters, commands at Mumbai, Kochi and Vishakhapatnam will be connected. The commands operate warships, air surveillance planes, choppers, submarines and UAVs. The Naval design team is collaborating with warship building yards and crores have to be channelled in at the right time. — TNS

‘Officer-jawan face-off matter of concern’

New Delhi: Defence Minister AK Antony voiced concern over incidents of face off between officers and jawans but said the armed forces are capable of handling them on their own. He said he was “pained” even if one soldier committed suicide. “Each incident is a matter of concern to me but armed forces are better trained to handle such situations. They are handling it in their own way,” he added.
Antony worried over officer-jawan scuffles
NEW DELHI: Defence minister A K Antony on Saturday expressed concern over the repeated incidents of standoffs between jawans and Army officers in recent days.

This was the first public acknowledgement of the growing worry over fraying of the officer-jawan ties in the world's second largest standing army, and came on a day when the defence minister brainstormed — for the second time in three days — the incidents with the Army chief General Bikram Singh.

There have been at least three incidents of standoff between Army officers and jawans in recent months. The latest was at Samba in Jammu and Kashmir, where a tense face-off went on for hours between the jawans and the officers of 16 Cavalry after a jawan committed suicide on Wednesday. In May, a violent incident took place between the officers and the jawans of 226 artillery regiment in Ladakh, while in June last year there was a similar incident in the 45 Cavalry unit in Punjab.

"Each incident is a matter of concern to me but armed forces are better trained to handle such situations. They are handling it in their own way. Today also I had a brief discussion with the Army chief and they are handling it," Antony said.

While the government is not particularly alarmed by the incidents, there is concern at the highest levels that such issues do not become a trend in the Army. A senior official said that efforts are on to improve welfare and dignity of soldiers as part of the larger goal to modernize the Army.

Asked about suicides in the Army, the defence minister said, "Compared to the past, the number of suicides and fratricides in armed forces are slightly reduced." He claimed that over the years, they have been able to reduce suicide rate gradually.

Chinese pressure an `aberration'

Defence minister A K Antony dismissed as "aberration" reports about increasing Chinese pressure at the Finger Area along the Line of Actual Control in Sikkim. "It is not a new issue. Sometimes it happens like that as there are no officially-accepted points on entire border. There are seven eight disputed points in this border. In these disputed areas, both sides are patrolling. We have our own patrolling and they have theirs," he said.

Antony said "unfortunate incidents" take place but they are aberrations and not a regular thing. "Now we have recently set up a border management mechanism. That is also functioning very effectively. By and large, India-China border is very peaceful," he said.
Armed with 5R concept, Lanka overcomes post-war challenges
At a three-day defence seminar organised by the Army, Sri Lanka showcased its post-war achievements in the past three years with the focus being on five ‘R’s — reconstruction, resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and reconciliation.
The Defence Seminar 2012, the second since the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009, had top military officials and politicians from more than 40 countries in attendance. Among them were Pakistan’s Defence Secretary Lieutenant General (Retd) Asif Yasin Malik, the Maldives National Defence Force chief Major General Ahmed Shiyam and Brunei’s Royal Land Forces Commander Brigadier-General Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Yussof bin Haji Abd Rahman.

Dr. Swamy: Happy with Sri Lanka’s post-war progress

One of the highlights of the seminar was the address by India’s Janatha Party leader Subramaniam Swamy, a vociferous critic of the LTTE. He told the seminar that much had improved in Sri Lanka since the formal end of the violent strife on that historic date of May 19, 2009.

“Today, Tamil families no more fear the so-called Tigers’ forced recruitment of their children, disruption of their education, and their various brutalisation and abuses. The extortion of funds from civilians to finance terrorist operations of the LTTE has also ended. Normalcy in daily life has returned after three decades,” he said.

Dr. Swamy said the credit for this victory over terrorism naturally must belong to the political leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his ability to inspire the armed forces to fight on and die for the cause. “The people of India recognise this as a contribution to our national security and fit for being honoured by India’s highest award in the future.

“The people in India feel kinship with Sri Lankans, emotionally, historically, religiously, linguistically and also for the benefit of our mutual national security. As recent genetic research reveals, Indians and Sri Lankans have the same DNA.

“Thus, the Indian people do not necessarily agree with our government on every decision it takes against the interests of Sri Lanka on political compulsions, which is not unusual in a democracy,” he said, claiming that a majority of the Indians were against the central government’s decision to support the US-backed resolution against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council in March this year.

Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who delivered the key note address said Sri Lanka had become one of the most peaceful and stable countries in the world since the end of the war and gave detailed accounts of how the country had moved forward on several fronts to normalise the lives of those affected by the long-drawn-out war.

He said that when the war ended, some 295,873 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) were left in the care of the Government which also had to deal with de-mining in more than five thousand square kilometers of the former war zone.
By the end of June 2012, some 469,275 antipersonnel mines, 1,399 anti-tank mines, and 388,963 unexploded ordnance devices had been recovered with the Sri Lanka Army playing the lead role in the demining process.

He said some 10,965 LTTE cadres who had surrendered to the security forces had been reintegrated into society and there was complete freedom of movement for all people in the North. Since July 2011, more than 51,400 foreign passport holders from over 100 countries have visited Sri Lanka and travelled to the North, with some 31,500 people visiting the area this year alone, he said.

External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris who spoke on the opening day of the seminar said that an economic onslaught was being led against Sri Lanka in a campaign spearheaded by some sections of the diaspora – an unyielding group that did not accept the irreversibility of the defeat of the LTTE. These sections of the diaspora were trying to rekindle the embers of terrorism, he said, describing their actions as moves to stop the booming post-conflict economic growth in the north.

“There is a 22 per cent growth rate in the north as opposed to the 9 per cent growth rate in the country,” he pointed out.
Also hitting out against the anti-Sri Lanka diaspora was Planation Industries Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who is also the Government’s Special Envoy for Human Rights. He spoke on the campaign of disinformation and pressure exerted by the so-called “anti-Sri Lanka Diaspora’ on the host countries to question the Sri Lankan Government’s record.

“We call on those countries who express an interest in reconciliation in Sri Lanka to focus on the activities of these groups which are aimed at creating instability and undermining reconciliation,” the minister said, adding that the Government too was taking steps to engage with these groups and wean them away from the defeated LTTE’s agenda of separatism and terrorism.
Incidents of officer-jawan face-off a matter of concern: Antony
NEW DELHI: Defence minister AK Antony today voiced concern over incidents of face-off between officers and jawans but said that the armed forces are capable of handling them on their own.

"Each incident is a matter of concern to me but armed forces are better trained to handle such situations. They are handling it in their own way. Today also I had a brief discussion with the Army chief and they are handling it," he said on the sidelines of a function here.

The minister was asked about the three major incidents of brawl between officers and jawans in the Army, the latest involving personnel of 16 Cavalry unit in Samba in Jammu and Kashmir after a jawan committed suicide.

In May, similar situation had erupted in 226 artillery regiment in Ladakh and in a separate case, officers and jawans of 45 Cavalry unit had fought with each other in June last year in Gurdaspur in Punjab.

Court of inquiry (CoI) in all the three incidents is under progress.

Asked about suicide cases in the armed forces, Antony said, "Even if there is one suicide in armed forces, I am always pained. Compared to the past, the number of suicides and fratricides in armed forces are slightly reduced.

"But I am not happy as even suicide by one soldier is a matter of pain to me. But over the years, we have been able to reduce the numbers gradually," he said.

Asked about the increasing Chinese pressure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Finger Area in Sikkim, the defence minister dismissed it as an "aberration" saying the overall situation all along the boundary was peaceful.

"It is not a new issue. Sometimes it happens like that as there is no officially-accepted points on entire border. There are seven eight disputed points in this border. In these disputed areas, both sides are patrolling. We have our own patrolling and they have their's," Antony said.

The minister said sometimes "unfortunate incidents take place but these are aberrations only and not a regular thing. Now we have recently set up a border management mechanism. That is also now functioning very effectively. By and large, India-China border is very peaceful."

On the high-level committee formed by the Prime Minister to look into pay and pension anomalies of the armed forces, he said, "Our government is very sensitive and sympathetic to the welfare of the armed forces. The committee under the cabinet secretary is discussing the matter. I hope for a satisfactory report at the earliest."

Asked if the demand for representation of armed forces in the committee has been accepted, the defence minister said, "the committee has twice invited the armed forces chiefs. First the Navy chief as chairman, chiefs of staffs committee and then recently all the three chiefs went there to give their views."

The armed forces have pointed out several anomalies in their pay and pensions and have demanded the elevation of all lieutenant general-rank officers in to a higher pay scale and 'one-rank one-pension' for the ex-servicemen.
Army sends flood relief team to Madhya Pradesh
ALLAHABAD: The Red Eagle Division of the Army has rushed a rescue and relief team to the flood-affected areas of Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh on the request of civil administration. Civil authorities had requested Army assistance as inclement weather and release of water from Tawa dam has left hundreds of people marooned in the area.

Defence PRO, Allahabad, Group Captain Amit Mahajan said a 125-men column led by five officers and troops of Red Eagle Division has been sent to flood-hit areas. The rescue and relief column comprised troops of engineer regiment well trained in swimming and carrying out rescue and relief tasks in flood affected areas along with requisite equipment, medical team and other support elements of army. The column is fully equipped with boats, life jackets, medicines, emergency lights, generators etc.
Blog: Suicides in Army - A comprehensive review needed
New Delhi: Suicides and fragging by Army jawans have become a more frequent occurrence in the Army of late. The Samba incident last week once again compels me to ask: What is it that drives a jawan to desperation? Is it just the tension of operating in the counter-insurgency? Or is there something more to it than meets the eye?

There are no straight answers but figures available since 2003 clearly indicate that that the Indian Army is facing one of its biggest challenges in history. Consider the figures.

    In 2003, 96 Army men committed suicide
    In 2004, this number was exactly 100
    In 2005, 92 of them took their own lives
    In 2006, 131 Army personnel committed suicide
    In 2007 and 2008 the recorded figures were 142 and 150 respectively
    Since then the numbers have come down but still remain over 100
    2009: 111; 2010: 130; 2011: 102

Given that India has an 11-lakh strong Army, these numbers may not be huge but for a force that prides itself on its standards of training and discipline, it is certainly a matter of concern if not alarm.
One can also point out the fact that in the American army this year alone the rate of suicide (till June 8) was one-a-day. That's hardly a consolation.

Therefore, like I had done in 2007, its time to ask the question: Is the Indian Army feeling the heat of being in perpetual operations? Are our soldiers' stress levels peaking dangerously? Making them prone to acts of indiscriminate violence?

Come summer, winter or rains, soldiers continue their daily patrols along the line of control in Kashmir. Every day and night at a thousand foot patrols spread out in Jammu and Kashmir to try and corner terrorists. The job is risky and can even get monotonous. A bullet can come from anywhere any time. So one has to be always alert. But the chase is mostly futile. Nine out of ten times the patrols returns empty-handed.

After nearly 14 years of counter-terrorism in Kashmir, the Army has got used to the apparent hardship of uninterrupted operations. The fear of the enemy, claims each man that I have talked to, is nominal. "We have no tension in this respect (counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency), we had joined the Army precisely for this kind of work," is the constant refrain from soldiers.

Officers say their biggest duty is to ensure that men are fully trained to face any situation in counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism. "A fully-trained soldier is a confident soldier and effective soldier," Commanding officers say whenever one meets them.

But this practiced auto-reply could cloak a very different reality.

A psychiatric study by Army doctors a couple of years ago on "Evolving Medical Strategies for Low Intensity Conflicts " revealed the huge range of issues soldiers in such situations have to confront contradictions between war and the low intensity conflict situations and particularly the concepts of 'enemy', 'objective' and 'minimum force'. There are no clear-cut victories like in wars. Some other findings:

    In general war the nation looks upon the soldier as a saviour, but here he is at the receiving end of public hostility.
    A hostile vernacular Press keeps badgering the security forces, projecting them as perpetrators of oppression.
    Continuous operations affect rest, sleep and body clocks, leading to mental and physical exhaustion.
    Monotony, the lure of the number-game and low manning strength of units lead to over-use and fast burn-out.

Leading psychiatrists also feel that there is disconnect between what a soldier is trained for and what he ends up doing in low-intensity conflicts. I remember that some years ago Dr Nimesh Desai, a practicing psychiatrist had told me, "There is a certain dissonance in what the soldier feels when he operates in low intensity conflict. He is trained for war, to go all out against an enemy but in insurgency, he is told to hold back. Plus there is no end in sight for such operations. It is the constant tension that gets him.

Operating in tension-ridden counter-insurgency environment does lead to certain stress among the jawans but that is only one of the factors. The main worry are the problems back home - land disputes, tensions within the family, rising aspirations, lack of good pay and allowances, and also the falling standards of supervision from some officers, all these factors have led to major stress.

Company commanders who lead field units in counter insurgency situations also believe that tensions at home transmit themselves much quicker today.

Since almost 80 per cent of India's foot soldiers come from rural and semi-urban areas, most of them have strong links with land.

For the ordinary soldier, the smallest patch of land back home is the most precious property.

Again, I have frequently come across  a common thread where soldiers say there is no tension in actual work of counter-insurgency. The main problem for the fauji comes from his domestic situation. Very often land gets encroached in the village back home or there is dispute over even smallest of property. "There is always a tension. Police doesn't listen to us. My parents feel helpless, I become tense every time I go back home," I remember a soldier telling me in the Valley.

One more common thread among soldiers from Rajasthan to UP, from Tamil Nadu to Haryana was how little respect they seem to command today in society which devalues their work.

As a former Army Commander had once pointed out, "You see he comes from a society where he compares himself with others and when he realises that he is at a disadvantage since acceptance wise, the kind of respect that his predecessors had is no longer there."

Very often insensitive civil administrations create tensions.

Senior officers point out that most suicide and fratricide cases take place after soldiers return from a spot of leave. The feeling of frustration can bring in helplessness which in turn leads to suicides and fratricide. It creates an impression that no one listens to the Army. It is the system that sends the man uniform in depression.

It is precisely this concern that had prompted Defence Minister AK Antony to  write to all chief ministers some years ago asking them to sensitise district administrations in their states to the needs of the soldiers. State governments were asked to set up a mechanism at district and state levels to address soldiers' grievances.

The harsh reality is that men in uniform no longer command the respect they did in the early years after independence. Today, they have fight for getting equivalence with officers of Group A Central Government services!

And yet, the Army must look within too.

Soldiers these days are better educated and consequently better aware of their rights. This, coupled with falling standards of command and control among some of the undeserving officers who have risen to command units, is becoming a major cause for worry.

Soldiers no longer accept a wrong or unjustified command blindly. The old attitudes among some of the COs, of lording over ORs and expecting them not to protest/revolt must change.

While there is no single reason that can be cited as THE cause for suicides and the recent standoffs that have happened in a couple of units in the quick succession in the past three months, the Army leadership will have to take a hard look at the disturbing developments and come up with quick but effective solutions.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal