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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 26 Sep 2012
Ex-servicemen reject hike in pension, say it is ‘misleading’
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 25
As the fine print of the Cabinet’s decision on additional pension for ex-servicemen emerges, it is clear that the government stopped short of accepting the ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) formula but there will be an across the board increase in pension for all those who retired before January 1 2006.

Depending on which side you stand, opinions are sharply divided on the hike and the last word on the matter is yet to be spoken with ex-servicemen groups rejecting the additional pension benefits.

The basic pension of all officers who retired before January 1, 2006 will increase between Rs 1,800 and Rs 3,600. The existing 65 per cent of dearness allowance will also be admissible over the increased amount. However, this is not as per the OROP formula.

Despite the increase, officers who retired after January 1, 2006 will get pensions that are way ahead of those who retired before January 1, 2006. The other measures on dual family pension and family pension for physically and mentally handicapped children after marriage have been welcomed.

Sources said as per calculations made so far, the following will be the tentative hike in basic pension for officers who retired before January 1, 2006: Captain Rs 13,850 (existing) to Rs 15,350 (after hike); Major Rs 14,100 to Rs 18,205; Lt Col Rs 25,700 to Rs 26,262; Colonel Rs 26,050 to Rs 27,795; Brigadier Rs 26,150 to Rs 29,145 and Major General Rs 26,700 to 30,350. These figures could be more, depending upon several other factors. This DA would be paid as per prevailing rates. Other payments of military service pay and grade pay factored into the pension calculation formula remain unchanged.

Maj General Satbir Singh (retd), vice-chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, rejected the announcement terming it as “misleading”. “What has been given, albeit grudgingly, does not even meet provisions of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) judgments on the matter,” he said in letters shot-off to the Prime Minister with copies to Defence Minister AK Antony and the three Service Chiefs. Two summers ago, the General had led a march to Rashtrapati Bhawan where hundreds of retired personnel returned their medals.

Gurdaspur MP Partap Singh Bajwa and Rohtak MP Deepender Singh Hooda have welcomed the decision. Bajwa said the remaining demands of serving officers should be met immediately, while Hooda praised Sonia Gandhi for the move.

Explaining the intricacies of OROP, Maj General Singh said, “OROP means that defence personnel with the same rank and same length of service must draw the same pension irrespective of the date of retirement and any future enhancement would be automatically granted to them. What has been announced is not OROP.” The hike has come about after a change in calculations. Till now, the pension for ex-servicemen retiring before January 1, 2006 was calculated as per the lowest pay in the existing pay band.
Fate of PoWs continues to be a mystery
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepur, September 25
Expressing displeasure over the move by officials belonging to the Indian Embassy in Oman, relatives of the missing Indian PoWs feel any chance to track down sepoy Jaspal Singh and others who had accidentally met Sukhdev Singh in Masirah island has been lost. Sources said the Indian Embassy in Oman had reportedly issued a note to the Oman government requesting details of the personnel incarcerated in Masirah Island, including consular access.

The Indian officials had also reportedly informed the Foreign Ministry in Oman about the media reports and had asked for assistance in locating the missing Defence personnel.

“We are extremely disappointed as any chance of finding Jaspal has been lost,” said Dr Simmi Waraich, whose father Major SPS Waraich has also been missing since the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.

Talking to The Tribune, Simmi said instead of informing the Oman government about it, the Indian authorities should have planned a covert operation because after the media reports about Jaspal’s presence there, he must have been shifted by now.

“Pakistan has denied the existence of PoWs for the last 41 years. So, how will they allow anyone to reach out to them and face embarrassment?” she said.

Simmi said her father and Jaspal belonged to the same regiment, 15 Punjab. Both have been missing since 1971 along with other officers of the regiment. Though the name of Major Waraich figures in the list of Indian PoWs, Jaspal was considered to have attained martyrdom.

About the presence of Jaspal in Oman, sources said the Pakistan government must have shifted the Indian PoWs to some other “friendly” Muslim country to evade any suspicion or public gaze about their existence.

“The details given by Sukhdev about his meeting with Jaspal corroborate our claim about the existence of Indian PoWs in Pakistan or in some other countries,” Simmi said.

Agonising search

Relatives of missing Indian PoWs feel any chance to track down sepoy Jaspal Singh and others who had accidentally met Sukhdev Singh in Masirah island has been lost

Relatives of the missing soldiers have appealed to Pakistani authorities to release the PoWs and honour Vienna convention
Indian Army to hold largest war game this week
New Delhi: The Indian Army will hold its largest war game ever when top commanders from all key formations will gather at Pune this week to validate its latest pro-active war fighting concepts aimed at traditional rivals, Pakistan and China.

This is the first such warfare strategising exercise under present army chief General Bikram Singh.

The war game, played over a tabletop, is being held at a time when Pakistan is holding its largest two-month army field exercise by its Karachi-based V Corps beginning Tuesday (and will go on till middle of November), at a location overlooking Jaisalmer across the border in India's Rajasthan, to finalise its warfare concepts aimed at India.

Hosted by the Pune-based Southern Army Command from Wednesday to Friday, the war game is expected to have Gen. Bikram Singh taking part, a top army officer told a news agency here.

"Tabletop war games are much more complex and sophisticated in terms of content, brain-storming and evolving of warfare concepts to counter the enemy's defensive tactics and offensive strategies. Field exercises are for validating the concepts evolved at tabletop war games," a senior army officer explained.

"Senior officers from all seven commands of the Indian army and key formations are participating in the war game," he said.

"The war game will evolve a proactive strategy in punishing enemy forces at the time of battle. It will also work on effective ways of coordination between the army and the air force, key for a joint war effort for maximising gains during battle," the officer added.

Southern Army Command is the largest in terms of Indian territory that it is tasked to defend, from the coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.

The war game is a follow-up to the three major field exercises carried out by the army in the summer and winter of 2011.

1. The 2011 summer exercise Vijayee Bhava was held in the Rajasthan desert in May by the Ambala-based 2 Kharga Corps, one of the three offensive strike formations of the Army.

It was followed by the summer exercise Pine Prahar in the plains of Punjab, also in May, staged by the Jalandhar-based 11 Vajra Corps, a pivot formation with both defensive and offensive elements among its ranks.

Both 2 Corps and 11 Corps are under the Chandimandir-based Western Army Command.

In November that year, the army's Bhopal-based 21 Sudarshan Chakra Corps, under the Southern Army Command, carried out the Sudarshan Shakti exercise.

These 2011 exercises, held under then chief Gen VK Singh who spearheaded a transformation process in the army, aimed at building the capacities of the strike formations in delivering deadly blows to enemy forces in a short offensive by breaching the hostile army's defences and capturing important strategic assets deep inside enemy territory.

These exercises were also meant to test the army and air force's jointness and their firepower with the use of over 200 battle tanks and infantry combat vehicles, and artillery guns, apart from attack helicopters.
Two militants, Indian army trooper killed in gunfight in Indian-controlled Kashmir
Two militants and an Indian army trooper were killed and two troopers wounded Tuesday in a fierce gunfight between them in Indian- controlled Kashmir, officials said.

The gunfight broke out Tuesday morning in village Haril Manzpora-Handawara of frontier Kupwara district, around 100 km northwest of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian- controlled Kashmir.

"Two militants and an army trooper were killed in a gunfight with army troopers in Handwara today," said a police spokesman " The gunfight triggered after troops cordoned off the area to take on militants present there."

Indian army spokesman in Srinagar Col. Brijesh Panday said two troopers were also wounded fighting militants in the area. The wounded troopers were immediately hospitalized, he said.

The gunfight in the area is going on intermittently and the operation to trace militants is underway.

"We have rushed in reinforcements to the area," said Panday.

Police also claims recovery of two assault rifles and some ammunition from the gunfight site. However, the identity of the slain militants is being ascertained.

Kashmir a disputed Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan by a de facto border called line-of-control (LoC). Both India and Pakistan claim the region in full. Since their independence from British, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.

Police and Defense officials maintain that most of the times the operations triggering gunfights are carried out on prior information about presence of militants in specific areas.

A guerrilla war is also going on between militants and Indian troops stationed in region since 1989.
Army general: Pacific refocus means more exercises
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (AP) — The leader of U.S. Army forces in Asia and the Pacific says his soldiers will be able to conduct more exercises with other nations in the region, as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan and the military refocuses its attention.

Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific, said he'd like U.S. soldiers to undertake more exercises with counterparts from nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia and India.

The Army will also be able to have more active duty soldiers, instead of reserves, participate in exercises with allies such as Japan.

"We've been engaged, obviously, in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that's where we've had to focus — for all the right reasons," Wiercinski told The Associated Press in an interview at his headquarters in Hawaii. "But now that we're having this opportunity, we can get back into the Pacific with our partners here."

The Army has 70,000 soldiers and 12,000 civilians at installations in the Asia-Pacific region.

U.S. military leaders and diplomats have increasingly emphasized the importance of Asia and the Pacific as the region's economies grow and gain clout.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stressed last week that the U.S. pivot to the Pacific isn't aimed at containing or threatening China, which now has the world's second-largest economy after the U.S. But Washington has criticized China for lacking transparency while it has rapidly modernized its military and boosted military spending.

The Pentagon in January issued a new national defense strategy declaring that the U.S. would "rebalance" toward the region, noting U.S. economic and security interests are inextricably linked to developments in the area.

Examples of the strategy are slowly emerging.

Last year, the U.S. and Australia announced an agreement for up to 2,500 U.S. Marines to rotate through a joint military training hub in the northern Australia city of Darwin. The Navy next year plans to begin deploying a littoral combat ship — a new type of vessel that can operate closer to shore than other ships — to Singapore.

The Air Force, meanwhile, plans to make greater use of airfields and bombing ranges in the Australian Outback.

Wiercinski said the Army doesn't want to set up new bases. Instead, he spoke of soldiers training with other nations to get a feel for cultures, terrain and interaction with U.S. allies.

"We're not talking about putting bases in other countries or a permanent presence anywhere," he said. "We're talking about rotating — 30, 40 days at a pop."

Wiercinski pointed to the current deployment of a few dozen soldiers to Tonga for a weeklong disaster relief exercise as the type of drill likely to become more prevalent.

In the drill, which also involves Australia, France and New Zealand, Tonga calls the U.S. for help after being hit by a major earthquake and tsunami. The Army sends soldiers to the Pacific island nation within 24 hours to assess the situation and report what help Tonga needs.

"Just that, the ability to do that, demonstrates our capability, shows the Tongan government and all the neighbors in the area that we're backing up what we say we can do," Wiercinski said.
School, army locked in land dispute
PUNE: The management of Tyagi High School in Khadki cantonment has claimed that Army authorities have forcibly fenced the school's playground and taken over the land without following legal procedure. Army authorities, however, have said that the playground is defence land and they have followed the legal process to take possession of the land.

Brigadier Balbir Singh, estate officer, Commander of Station Headquarters, Kirkee/Aundh ( Local Military Authority) said, "It is A1 defence land and we need it for defence use. We have not touched the school, only the open area has been fenced." He said, "We gave the school authorities complete opportunity to explain their position. The rules under which the action was taken are correct."

The school is located on a three-acre plot on Burr Road in Khadki cantonment limits. The school building is on one acre, while the remaining two acres forms the playground.

Satish Tyagi, secretary of the Tyagi Education Society and Trust that runs the school, said he had rented a bungalow in 1980 and late purchased it in 1984. The school was set up in this bungalow in 1996.

As many as 1,196 students study in the school, which has pre-primary, primary and secondary sections. There are two divisions each from Std I to X. "We have permission from the cantonment board to operate the school," he said.

Tyagi said the defence authorities had staked their claim on the two-acre playground under the Urban Land Ceiling Act in 1993 and tried to take possession of the land in 2003. "In 2004, we approached the civil court, which said that the land will be used as a playground and the defence authorities have no relation to the land. The defence authorities challenged the decision in the district court in 2006. The matter is now sub judice. Despite this, in October 2011, the defence authorities served us a notice under section 4a of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants Act), 1971, which is for unauthorised occupation for long periods. But they took possession of the playground land under section 3a of the act, which is for eviction of unauthorised occupation for less than 30 days."

He said that as the playground has been fenced, students will not be able to hold sports events or other programmes.
DRDO hands over Indigenous launcher for PTA-KD2R5 to Indian Army
DRDO has handed over Indigenous launcher for imported Pilot less Target Aircraft -KD2R5 to Indian Army . Northrop KD2R5 “Shelduck” basic training drone has been used by Indian army for Target practice at Army Air defence college (AADC) . Earlier Army was using Northrop developed imported launcher , DRDO was able to carry out modifications on Nishant UAV Launcher to enable it to Launch PTA-KD2R5 for Indian army .
First Launch using Nishant UAV’s Mobile Hydro-Pneumatic Launcher (MHPL) was carried out in Feb of this year and after many trials , Army accepted the system, by using Indigenous launcher , India will be able to save money since Indigenous launcher is much cheaper then the imported one .
Civil-military relations in crisis
The troubled state of civil-military relations in India has attracted much attention in recent times. Many, especially within the military, argue that it has been in a state of prolonged crisis since as far back as 2006 when disputes over the Pay Commission created bad blood between civilians and the military.

These tensions, however, paled in comparison to the controversies that erupted earlier this year. General V.K. Singh’s tenure as Chief of Army Staff saw many firsts; a Service Chief representing against the Ministry of Defence in the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Defence established the precedence and upheld the sanctity of a designated “succession line” to the position of Service Chief and the leak of a top-secret letter from the Army Chief to the Prime Minister complaining about weaknesses in “defence preparedness” stemming mainly from higher defence mismanagement.

The distrust between civilians and the military became a national issue when Indian Express reported about how the Defence Ministry was “spooked” by the allegedly unplanned move of some army units near the capital this past January. While the Prime Minister quickly denied this news report, the media highlighted an obvious fact: civil-military relations were in deep trouble and required urgent attention.

General Singh’s retirement has cooled tempers somewhat and taken this issue off the front pages, but the systemic and structural problems that lie at the roots of the problem lie unaddressed. It is inevitable then that some manifestation of the civil-military divide will emerge in some form sooner or later. Most visitors to the South Block, the seat of the Defence and External Affairs Ministries and of the military headquarters, are struck by the obvious disconnect that exists between these bureaucracies. While some of it is to be expected, the low level of interaction, information flow and even trust between civilian bureaucrats in the Defence Ministry and the uniformed military makes India somewhat of an outlier among democracies.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony tacitly acknowledged this when he recently appealed to the two groups to put aside their “bitterness.” The near total absence of military officials in the Defence Ministry combined with a generalist civil service and considerable decision-making powers create problems on the civilian side. Paradoxically, the military enjoys considerable autonomy in its “internal functions” and suffers from an archaic organisational structure, which allows the Service Chiefs powers to make policy changes, often on a whim or opinion. In turn, due to the legacy of the disastrous 1962 border war, which was blamed at that time on political interference, politicians rarely intervene. Put simply, the unique nature of civil-military relations in India, described elsewhere as an “absent dialogue,” is structurally problematic, leading to considerable friction between the civilians and the military. The seed of this problem was sown in the early years after independence, and is — albeit unintended — a by-product of one of the greatest achievements of Indian democracy: civilian control of the military.

The tradition of firm civilian control was not predestined, but rather the result of Nehru’s forceful and towering personality, combined with the military’s desire to be “apolitical.” Credit must also be given to Lord Mountbatten and Lord Ismay, who were the architects of the system of higher defence organisation that was put in place.

They recommended a system of committees that would enable frequent dialogue and exchanges between political leaders, bureaucrats and the military. However, as the Mountbatten papers now reveal, the nature of civil-military interaction as it evolved initially concerned and ultimately exasperated Mountbatten.

Even after he left India, Mountbatten was keenly interested in defence policy and maintained correspondence with Nehru and a number of senior civilian and military officials. Their correspondence reveal the tension and frequent disputes over seniority, conduct of business rules and ultimately power that divided civilian bureaucrats and the military.

Mountbatten was concerned about the lack of military officials and expertise within the Defence Ministry and urged then Defence Minister Krishna Menon to address this issue. However, his advice went unheeded. Ironically, during this time, the British were changing their higher defence organisations, by undertaking defence reforms under Mountbatten’s stewardship. Even after failing to convince Nehru to usher in defence reforms, Mountbatten did not give up, and in later years, either directly or indirectly approached successive Prime Ministers including Shastri, Indira Gandhi, and just a year before his death, Morarji Desai. But all his efforts were in vain. The architect of India’s higher defence organisation was undone by its practice.

One reason why the debate could not, and still cannot, move forward is a troubling lack of historical records; a direct consequence of not following a declassification policy. It is an open secret that the Defence Ministry and the armed forces do not adhere to the Public Records Act or the Public Record Rules and do not have structures in place that allow them to declassify. It is not even clear whether documents are archived and preserved properly or have been misplaced and even destroyed. While many have bemoaned this, what is perhaps not adequately understood is how it adversely shapes the quality of civilian control.

Civilian bureaucrats, who in any case are not specialists, lack the ability to inform themselves adequately and constantly re-invent the wheel. As a result, they show a poor grasp and understanding of military matters and are unable to engage in an informed dialogue. Many members of India’s strategic community have recognised these problems and offered some sensible policy measures to enable more harmonious civil-military relations. For instance, Admiral Arun Prakash, among many others, has argued in favour of integrating bureaucracies and fostering teamwork by cross-posting civilian and military officers. Recognising the problems stemming from a generalist civil service, N.N. Vohra has advocated the creation of a civilian Ministry of Defence, or even National Security cadre. Almost all members of the strategic community have called for a more logical and mature declassification policy.

Unfortunately, however, the political class has been noticeable for its absence in engaging with these issues. Although A.K. Antony has been the longest-serving Defence Minister in a continuous stint (which should have provided some stability), his tenure has witnessed some of the most severe civil-military tensions. Political parties and the Parliamentary standing committee on defence have all been remiss in their duties, as there has not been a serious debate on defence reforms, civil-military relations and higher defence management. Instead, the debate, if at all, has been mainly focused on scandals, real and imagined, and personnel issues. Unless there is forceful and informed political intervention, the weaknesses in India’s defence preparedness stemming from troubled civil-military relations will continue.

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