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Monday, 24 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 24 Sep 2012
Armyman killed in accidental blast
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, September 23
An armyman was killed and two others injured in an accidental blast caused reportedly while handling explosives at 8 Grenadiers barrack in Kapurthala on Sunday.

The deceased jawan has been identified as Sandeep of Bhiwani. He, along with the two injured men - lance naik Deepak of Jodhpur and sepoy Baldev of Unnao in Uttar Pradesh - and some others, was watching television when the blast occurred at 11.15 am.

Sandeep sustained blast injuries on his chest and succumbed to these a few minutes later. The two injured persons are reportedly out of danger.

Army spokesperson Naresh Vig told The Tribune, “The cause of the low-intensity blast is being ascertained. Army authorities have ordered a court of inquiry into the incident.”

He said, “Prima facie, the blast occurred during cleaning work. Even the type of explosive substance is not yet clear.”

Army authorities informed the district police about the blast at 1.45 pm - two-and-a-half hours later. On getting the information, SSP Inderbir Singh and other police officials visited the spot.

SSP Inderbir Singh told The Tribune that he had raised the issue of late information with the brigadier concerned, but he was told that the Army was busy taking the injured to the hospital. Both the Army and the police have called in their forensic teams.
Pak stand on India N-stockpile delays Geneva talks
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, September 23
The international community is disappointed with Pakistan for delaying talks on the Fissile Material Cut off Treaty (FMCT) at the Conference on Disarmament (CoD) in Geneva, arguing that any deal must also require India to reduce its existing stockpile, according to official sources.

“Pakistan has only been trying to complicate the negotiations ...Its taking shelter under lame excuses like arguing that India’s nuclear initiative has made things difficult for it. However, nobody is buying its argument,’’ the sources pointed out.

India, on the other hand, has taken the stand that if the existing stockpiles were to be made part of the negotiations at Geneva, the proposed deal would no longer remain the FMCT but become the nuclear weapons convention.

It must be mentioned here that the Geneva disarmament conference can only move forward by consensus. Until Pakistan is on board, the negotiations can't be concluded.

On why China was getting away with its nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, the sources explained that when Beijing joined the FMCT, it had made it clear that it was in the process of assisting Pakistan in building Chashma-I and Chashma-II nuclear plants. “There was a well-established 'grand fathering' clause when China joined the FMCT and it insisted on the same existing clause for helping Pakistan in constructing Chashma III and Chashma IV reactors.’’

The world community was not in agreement with Beijing on this but the fact of the matter was that the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) has not been able to prevent China from supplying Chashma III and Chashma IV reactors, the sources acknowledged.

They said India was making a steady progress in becoming a member of the four international export control regimes-the NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group.

“There is a general opinion that India will join all the four groupings in a coordinated fashion...everybody appreciates our credentials to become a member of these groupings,’’ they added.

The sources said a team of experts from the IAEA would visit Rajasthan in November to carry out an in-depth operational safety review of two atomic power plants there in the wake of growing concerns over the safety of nuclear facilities worldwide.
IAF to spend $36.5 bn on aircraft in 10 years
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 23
With huge modernisation plans afoot, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be spending some $36.5 billion or approximately Rs 2,00,00,000 crore over the next 10 years in buying fighter aircraft, choppers and transport plans.

IAF Deputy Chief Air Marshal RK Sharma said, “We are on path of modernising our assets. In the last five-year plan, IAF procurements were around Rs 1.5 lakh crore and over next two plan periods (2012 to 2022), we envisage procurement of assets worth more than Rs 2 lakh crore. The IAF is planning to sign a number of big-ticket deals in the near future including the 126 MMRCA expected to be worth over Rs 50,000 crore, the fifth generation fighter aircraft deal with Russia which is expected to cross the Rs 1 lakh crore mark and a number of other projects over and above the range of Rs 5,000 crore.”

He was addressing a seminar on ‘Energising Aerospace Industry’ in India here today organised by industry body the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Addressing the gathering, the IAF Deputy Chief said there was “huge potential” for the private sector to work in the defence sector but it should be done by “adopting best ethical practices.”

“You must adopt best ethical practices and be extremely sensitive to IAF’s concerns about security of information,” Air Marshal Sharma told the audience.

He said the the DRDO and the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) must not see the private sector as a competitor but as a partner in developing an indigenous defence industry in the country.
New alignments in South Asia
Pakistan and Russia edge closer
by Harsh V. Pant

IN an attempt to refashion Russian South Asia policy and to showcase a new proactive stance in global politics, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be visiting Pakistan in early October. This will be the first visit of a Russian President to Pakistan, ever, and as such will be loaded with significance. Putin will also participate in a quadrilateral meeting on Afghanistan with leaders of Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

As the NATO forces prepare to leave Afghanistan, new alignments of regional powers are emerging. Pakistan-Russia ties are also taking a new turn and this holds great significance for India and the South Asian region.

Pakistani efforts to improve their relationship with Russia in the wake of the deterioration in relations between Pakistan and the US have been evident for some time. Islamabad finds itself with few friends across the globe. Even China has been circumspect in what it can offer to its ‘all weather friend.’ Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari visited Russia in May and the nation’s Army Chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, will be in Russia this month.

Pakistan hopes Russia will start selling it more substantial defence equipment as well. Both countries are also trying to increase their presence in Central Asia. Russia wants stability in its Central Asian periphery and Pakistan remains critical in managing the region. Moscow’s outreach to Islamabad is an attempt to get a handle on this regional dynamic. The Russian President’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov’s visit to Pakistan earlier this year in June laid the groundwork for Putin’s visit.

Russia has taken note of Indian foreign policy’s changing priorities and also the recent downturn in US-Pakistan ties. The US-India rapprochement has been problematic for Russia. As India moves away from Russia, especially as its dependence for defence equipment decreases, Moscow is also looking for alternatives. Moscow also recognises the importance of Pakistan in restoring stability to a post-2014 Afghanistan and the larger Central Asian region. So there are various factors at work here in this outreach.

It was Putin who had publicly endorsed Pakistan’s bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and had offered Russian help in managing Pakistan’s energy infrastructure. He went on to suggest that Russia views Pakistan as a reliable and very important partner. Russia’s Gazprom wants to invest in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Meanwhile, though Russia has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the externalities from the US-India civilian nuclear energy cooperation pact, there have been rumblings in Moscow regarding the manner in which the Kudankulam project has been handled so far by NewDelhi.

After deciding to ignore Pakistan for decades in its arms sales matrix, Moscow has now decided to gradually start weapons sales to Pakistan. Russia is the world’s second largest arms exporter with a 24% share of the global arms trade, surpassed only by the United States, which controls almost 30% of the global arms market. India continues to account for over 50% of Russian arms sales but New Delhi has diversified its suppliers.

As arms market becomes a difficult place for Russia to navigate with China deciding to produce its own weapons rather than procuring them from Russia, Moscow needs new buyers. India’s move away from Russia has been gradual but significant. The MMRCA deal was as big a setback to Russia as it was to the US. Defence sales to Pakistan can open up a potentially new and open-ended market for Russia as the appetite in Washington to sustain Pakistan’s military-industrial relations declines dramatically. The defence cooperation as envisaged by the two sides may involve joint military exercises, exchange of personnel and defence sales.

But there are clear limits here. Moscow can never substitute Washington in so far as aid and defence dependence of Pakistan is concerned. It is severely constrained in what it can do and Pakistan’s needs are huge. It is unlikely that Russia will emerge as a major benefactor. But Pakistan wants to show the US that it has other options.

Moscow had always in the past been critical of the Pakistan military establishment’s propensity to use extremist groups to further the nation’s strategic ends. And it remains worried about this tendency, so the pressure of Pakistan will continue to be there. The Russian establishment also feels strongly about the possibility of nuclear technology falling into the hands of extremists in Pakistan and has been very vocal about this threat.

Moscow will also be cautious in sharing its defence technology with Pakistan as it would not like to alienate India, one of its largest markets for defence equipment, even further. Russia deals with India on a number of levels, including BRICS, and that partnership could be in jeopardy if Pakistan becomes a major priority for Moscow.

India will be looking at this development with great interest but something big will have to come out of these meetings for New Delhi to be worried. India’s ties with Russia are historic, wide ranging and well institutionalised. Russia will do its best to assuage Indian concerns and New Delhi should largely be satisfied with it. It depends on the future trajectory of Russia-Pakistan ties as to how it will ultimately impinge on Indian interests. The US-China-Pakistan ‘axis’ was India’s biggest headache during the Cold War years. Unless managed carefully, a Russia-China-Pakistan ‘axis’ may emerge as an even bigger one in the coming years.
How the USSR revealed its eye in the sky to the Indian Army
 In these times of acrimony and scams, it was a pleasant diversion to read that to our existing fleet of three Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, which keep an eye in the sky over our borders, we will shortly add three more (The Hindu, September 21, 2012). Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne has said that by 2025, this inventory will comprise in all five AWACS and 10 AEW&CS (Airborne Early Warning & Control System); the latter with totally indigenously designed and manufactured electronic sensors and in the event the leanest and meanest machines of its class!

So at last, after 40 long years of striving, the Indian armed forces will have arguably the most potent battlefield, force-multiplier capability conceived and manufactured post-World War II.

The AWACS had caught the fancy of the world first in the early 1970s, when the re-structured Egyptian armed forces had launched the Yom Kippur offensive against Israel and achieved complete tactical and strategic surprise. The seemingly impregnable Bar-Lev defence line along the East Bank of the Suez Canal was breached decisively, and the invincible Israelis were almost routed. This was the moment when the AWACS made its maiden combat appearance to shore up the beleaguered Israelis in the Sinai desert. And the tide of battle was thereafter so decisively reversed that but for international pressure, the Israelis were within a whisker of capturing Cairo! All the post-war analyses were unanimous that all other factors apart, the application of AWACS had contributed decisively to the ultimate outcome of that war. Little wonder then that armed forces the world over were willing to pay any price to acquire these machines. But the Americans would not part with them. The Russians were desperate to close the gap with this military technology advancement made by the Americans but it was not till the 1980s that they inducted into service their first generation AWACS.

It was natural therefore that when in 1986 General K. Sunderji visited the Soviet Union, as it was then, as a state guest, that he would request his hosts for a look at the AWACS. The idea was to either buy a few of these aircraft outright or obtain them on lease on the lines of the nuclear-powered submarine. When the subject was broached with the Russian Defence Minister during the meeting in a glittering hall at the Kremlin, the Soviets used innocence and guile to convince us that they had never heard of AWACS, let alone possess them. At this stage I slipped a sketch of the American AWACS, photocopied from the Jane’s Weapon Systems, to Gen. Sunderji.

That was the beginning of a serious proposition being turned into a hilarious game of bluff. The Defence Minister said with a straight face that in the spirit of the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, would we let them have the photocopy of the technical profile of the American AWACS. After a lengthy duel of mischievous wordplay, Gen. Sunderji agreed to part with the photocopy on the assurance of the Minister that it would remain a guarded secret! And that India would have the first AWACS produced in the Soviet Union.

Our weeklong visit ended at Tashkent. The penultimate day was taken up watching displays and demonstrations of training simulators of a whole range of weapons and automotives. On the last day, we were to relax watching an exclusive performance by the Bolshoi Ballet Company followed by the Uzbek folk dancers. Before we retired to our rooms, our liaison officer, a two-star general, mentioned that he had arranged a farewell picnic-breakfast the following morning. The picnic site was the 500-hectare State Lemon Farm about 60 km from Tashkent. Try as we might, there was no fathoming the reasons for this unscheduled picnic. And on one pretext or other our host would open yet another bottle of vintage wine, prolonging the breakfast till at last there was heard the approaching drone of an aircraft.

As the aircraft made low and deliberate, repeated passes over us, our host turned to Gen. Sunderji and said, “Sir, doesn’t this resemble the photocopy of the American AWACS you showed us? Had you mentioned that you wanted to see our ASDACS (Acquisition and Strike Directing Aircraft System) we would have gladly flown you in it, all the way back to New Delhi!”

Gen. Sunderji laughed, reached out to a bottle of champagne on the table and raised a toast to the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation. But what we now have is neither AWACS nor the ASDACS but a hybrid comprising the American Phalcon radar manufactured by the Israelis and mounted by them on Russian IL-76 aircraft provided by us. Such are the games which the superpowers play with their client states.
Forces mulling 3 joint commands
NEW DELHI: Indian armed forces are now finally mulling the creation of three new unified commands to effectively tackle the rapidly expanding security threats and challenges in the fields of space, cyberspace and special operations.

The brass of Army, Navy and IAF are "informally'' discussing the "contours'' of the cyber, aerospace and special operations commands, which will synergize efforts and assets of the three services in these "critical areas'', sources said.

Once the "formal joint proposal'' of the three Services is finalized, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne will take it up with the government in his capacity as the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee. In fact, the "urgent need'' for the three new commands is likely to come up during the Combined Commanders' Conference to be addressed by the Prime Minister on October 19.

The prevalent view is that a three-star Army officer (Lt General) should head the Special Operations Command, while an equivalent rank from IAF (Air Marshal) can steer the Aerospace Command. The Cyber Command, in turn, will be headed by a Vice-Admiral from the Navy.

This means the commanders-in-chief of the three new commands will "not be rotated'' among the Army, Navy and IAF. India's two existing tri-Service commands - the Strategic Forces Command and the Andaman & Nicobar Command - as well as the integrated defence staff follow a "rotational'' policy at present.

"It will ensure the new command in question can be 'mothered' by a single Service on a continuous basis. The Army, after all, has domain expertise in special operations, IAF in aerospace and Navy in cyber and information technology. The commands will draw elements, assets and manpower from all the three services as well as the government below the three-stars,'' said a source.

The Indian defence establishment certainly needs to be geared for battles in space and cyberspace after the first three military domains of land, air and sea. It also needs to bring together the disparate special forces in Army, Navy, IAF and other forces under a unified command and control structure to execute strategic operations in tune with national security objectives.

China, for instance, is taking huge strides on the space and cyberspace fronts.

Cyber warfare, too, is a frontline military priority for China, with its "hacker brigades'' regularly breaking into computer networks of countries like India, US, the UK and Germany.
Army chief reviews Cavalry parade
Jaipur : Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh Sunday reviewed a spectacular parade of 61 Cavalry, the only horse-mounted cavalry of the force here, to mark its raising day.

The unit has the distinction of being awarded a Padma Shri and 10 Arjuna awards for outstanding performance in the field of equestrian sports in major events.

This was the army chief's first visit to the regiment since taking over as the Colonel of the Regiment, according to Jodhpur-based defence spokesperson Col. S.D. Goswami.

South Western Army Commander Lt.Gen. Gyan Bhushan and 61 Sub Area General Officer Commanding Maj.Gen. K.J.S. Thind too took salute at the parade held at the Cavalry Ground here.

"Apart from the remarkable drills, skills of horsemanship and ceremonial regalia associated with every army parade, what made the event very special is the fact that 61 Cavalry is the only mounted horse cavalry regiment of the Indian Army," Goswami said.

"At the parade, the regiment in ceremonial regalia mounted on 221 resplendently groomed horses made a breath taking sight. The parade displayed the superb quality of horsemanship, discipline and morale of the regiment," he said.

The regiment paraded in walk, trot and gallop, in formations of eight, four and twelve.

The unit historically comprising of Gwalior Lancers, Jodhpur/Kachhawa Horse, Mysore Lancers, 2 Patiala Lancers and Saurashtra Horsed Cavalry State Forces.

It celebrated its 59th year of raising in its present form and commemorated the historical cavalry battle at Haifa (the then Turkish-held Palestine) in 1918 by the erstwhile state forces cavalry units.
Heavy infiltration claims by Army contested by J&K police
 Claims about increased infiltration, especially from Uri sector in North Kashmir, are being contested by J&K Police prompting Army to reassess the figures and work out a mechanism for providing more authentic information about the entry of terrorists into the state.

The recent figures of about 100 terrorists having slipped into the Kashmir Valley this year seems to be an exaggerated figure, highly placed sources in the state home department said today.

Immediately after the conference of Directors General of Police in the national capital earlier this month, state police and home department flagged the issue and sought clarification about the number of terrorists who may have crossed over, official sources said.
The input provided by Director General of Military Intelligence and Defence Intelligence Agency about infiltration of nearly 24 militants from Uri sector in the month of July could not be substantiated either by the local army unit or state police, the sources said.

Extensive search was launched in nearby areas which later extended to Hafruda forests in frontier district of Kupwara, the sources said, adding that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) were pressed into service to ascertain the inputs but there was no corroboration of the input.

Local Army commanders held series of meetings with police after there were no tell-tale signs of any terrorist groups infiltrating into the Valley from Uri sector in a big way prompting a senior state police official to comment in one such meeting that either the terrorists have vanished into thin air or that ghosts only crossed the Line of Control.

The J&K Police held series of meetings with local Army, Intelligence Bureau and other security agencies over the likely inflated number of infiltration, the sources said, adding that it was decided in-principle to work out a mechanism for more authentic information to ascertain the magnitude of infiltration.

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