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Monday, 1 October 2012

From Today's Papers - 01 Oct 2012
Sainik schools’ contribution to forces on the decline
Vijay Mohan/TNS
Chandigarh, September 30
Set up to serve as feeder institutes to the National Defence Academy (NDA), Sainik Schools are now under the scanner for more than one reason. A general decline in the percentage of its students joining the NDA, increasing dropout rate and a sudden spurt in disciplinary and ragging cases are among the issues that have brought these institutes into focus.

The contribution of Sainik Schools towards the intake into the NDA has gone down from 30.75 per cent in 2008 to 25.18 per cent in 2011. According to figures listed in the report of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence released last month, these figures were 29.23 per cent in 2009 and 26.17 per cent in 2010.

While there has been a consistent improvement in the schools’ academic performance, a comparative analysis also revealed that on an average, only about 20 per cent of Sainik School students join the NDA whereas in the case of the Rashtriya Indian Military College - which has a similar charter to that of Sainik Schools - the figure was 76 per cent.

One reason for the low intake from Sainik Schools put forward by the Defence Ministry is that students leave the school after their class XII examinations. As they are not under the supervision of the schools, they could have less inclination to write the NDA entrance exam or to appear for the selection interview. Candidates need to pass class XII to join the NDA.

Conceived in 1961 and managed by the Sainik Schools Society, whose board of governors is chaired by the Minister of Defence, the objective of Sainik Schools is to motivate and prepare students to join the armed forces as officers by focusing on moulding and developing their overall personality.

There are 24 Sainik Schools located in 21 states across the country and they are funded jointly by the central and respective state governments. Funding is another issue plaguing these schools with many state governments failing to give due budgetary support.

The dropout rate of students in these schools - having a strength of over 12,000 - has also been fluctuating, moving from 885 in 2008-09 to 843 in 2009-10 and 1,009 in 2010-11. The biggest chunk of dropouts is due to parental requests, which has witnessed a consistent increase, with the figures being 544, 564 and 689 for the aforementioned three sessions.

More significantly, the number of dropouts on grounds of indiscipline saw a spurt from seven and six cases to 60 cases for these sessions. In the past three years, 13 students were expelled and 15 were suspended for ragging.
Israel to take military action against Iran?
New York: The Israeli Prime Minister's fiery rhetoric on Iran suggests he may be considering military action before the US elections.

During a visit to the United Nations this week, Benjamin Netanyahu declared the world had only until next summer to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

His 2013 deadline appeared to be a concession, but in an interview with Israel's Channel 10, Netanyahu refused to commit.
"You've never heard me talking about dates. I spoke about the critical stage that Iran must not be allowed to complete," he said, in the interview aired on Saturday.

"I did not limit or reject for a moment Israel's right to defend itself at any time."

On Thursday, Netanyahu laid out before the UN General Assembly his most detailed plea for global action against Iran, saying the world had until next summer at the latest to stop Iran from getting a bomb.

In his speech, the Israeli leader demonstratively flashed a diagram of a cartoon-like bomb showing the progress Iran has made.

He then pulled out a red marker pen and drew a line across what he said was a threshold Iran was approaching and which Israel could not tolerate - 90 per cent of the way to the uranium enrichment needed to make an atomic bomb.

Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran to be an existential threat, citing Iranian denials of the Holocaust, its calls for Israel's destruction, its development of missiles capable of striking the Jewish state and its support for hostile Arab militant groups.

Netanyahu has repeatedly argued that time is running out to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power and that the threat of force must be seriously considered.

Israeli leaders have hinted they may strike Iran to prevent it from going nuclear.

US President Barack Obama has vowed not to allow Iran to attain nuclear weapons and has said the US would be prepared to use force as a last resort.

But he has urged restraint, saying there is more time for diplomacy.

His administration has urgently sought to hold off Israeli military action, which would likely result in the US being pulled into the conflict.

Netanyahu's persistent demands for red lines have put the two leaders at odds.

Netanyahu tried to smooth over the differences in his UN address, making a point to thank Obama for his firm stance.

The reconciliation continued on Friday with a phone call between them.

"The two leaders underscored that they are in full agreement on the shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," the White House said in a statement.
Indian Army labels ‘pen drives’ as major threat to Cyber Security

A ban on the use of pen drives has not been able to safeguard cyber security as it has now been labeled as a major threat in defence forces, the Army officials said. The use of pen drives is responsible for over 70 per cent of security breaches in the three Services.
The use of pen drives as an easy-to-carry storage device has increased in the recent past and internal reports have confirmed that over 70 per cent cyber security breaches in the armed forces are due to their unauthorised use, Army officials said.

“These pen drives, which are mostly manufactured in China, have emerged as a big threat to our cyber security systems,” they said.

Fresh cyber security guidelines have been issued by the Army headquarters to protect sensitive military networks from hacker attacks, sources said.

Measures have been taken by the other two services also to tighten their cyber security as IAF also recently issued instructions to its personnel warning them against having any official data on their personal computers and pen drives.

All personnel have been asked to declare their Information Technology assets and have been asked not to have any official data on them, IAF officials said here.

Anybody found violating these instructions in checks by cyber security personnel will draw strict action which may even amount to disciplinary action including court martial, they said.

When asked about the development, IAF spokesperson Wg Cdr Gerard Galway confirmed the steps taken by the Air headquarters to safeguard its cyber assets and secret information.

Sources said generally it is found that officials use pen drive to store official data for use at their personal computers but from there, it is transmitted from their IP addresses to hackers from the ‘malware’ present in the pen drives.

About a couple of years ago, a Major posted in Andaman and Nicobar Islands was apprehended as it was found that sensitive data was being transferred from his computer.

However, it later emerged that his system had been hacked and spying viruses were transferring information to other computers.

An IAF Junior Warrant officer was also apprehended by officials after he was found in possession of unauthorised CDs carrying official information.

The Navy’s Eastern Command was also affected after hacker groups were found to be stealing information from its computers there due to malware put in them by external drives.

As part of efforts to counter cyber attacks, the National Security Council has also been discussing designating certain intelligence agencies under the Defence Ministry for countering cyber offensives against the country.
Afghan insider attack kills Nato soldier, contractor
KABUL: A Nato soldier and a civilian contractor have been killed in a suspected insider attack in eastern Afghanistan which also resulted in Afghan army casualties, Nato's military said Sunday.

The Afghan casualties were "a result of the engagement" on Saturday night, an International Security Assistance Force spokesman told AFP, but could not confirm whether they had been killed by the insider or in return fire by ISAF troops.

No further details of the incident were immediately available but a joint assessment of the incident by ISAF and the Afghanistan National Army was under way, the spokesman said.

The latest death takes the total number of ISAF troops killed in 36 insider attacks this year to 52, accounting for about 15 percent of all coalition casualties in the war.

NATO attributes about 20 percent of the attacks to infiltration by Taliban insurgents into Afghan security forces while the rest are believed to result from cultural differences and personal animosities between the allies.

The so-called green-on-blue attacks pose a serious threat to the Nato war effort, which has portrayed the advising and training of Afghan forces as the key to the scheduled pullout of Western troops.

Earlier this month, ISAF announced a scaling back of joint operations with its Afghan partners following a dramatic rise in the assaults, in which Afghan soldiers turn their weapons on their Western allies.

But US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday that troops had resumed most joint operations with Afghan forces.

Panetta vowed that the insider threat would not derail plans to transfer security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014, paving the way for the withdrawal of most Nato combat forces.

"We must and we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect our forces. But I also want to underscore that we remain fully committed to our strategy of transitioning to Afghan security control," he said.
Madras Sappers young at 232 years
BANGALORE: Call of bugles, horsedrawn carriages and immaculately dressed soldiers marching in unison, epitomizing the inherent discipline from one of the finest regiments of Indian Army marked the ceremonial parade of the Madras Sappers, one of the finest regiments of the Indian Army, on the eve of their 232nd anniversary on Saturday.

As part of the anniversary celebrations and the Biennial Regimental Commander's Conference (BRCC) of Madras Sappers, a ceremonial parade was held at Madras Engineer Group and Centre. Major General SP Nawathe, Colonel Commandant of Madras Sappers, reviewed the ceremonial parade.

Six contingents of smartly dressed soldiers, with blue ceremonial turbans, gold and maroon bands on their waists and spotless white spats on their boots, marched proudly to the tunes of the Military Band.

Madras Sappers, known for their high standards of drill, displayed their acumen in the parade. They have won "Best marching contingent" trophy at the Republic Day parade eight times.
Army faces shortage of officers

Programmes under way in several colleges and universities to motivate the youth to join the force

The Indian Army is facing a peculiar problem – not enough youngsters are attracted to join the 1.1-million strong force as officers.

Expressing concern at the situation, the Army Chief, General Bikram Singh, has said that about 10,500 officers are needed. The shortage, he said, was impacting the officer-jawan relationship.

According to official figures, the shortage is around 10,500 in the Army, 1,400 in the Navy and 1,100 in the Air Force.

Union Defence Minister A. K. Antony has said the shortage is “partly attributable to accretions from time to time, tough selection procedures and difficult service conditions coupled with perceived high degree of risk involved in recruitment and training.”

He said a number of steps to attract youth to the armed forces have been taken. These include increase in tenure of Short Service Commission (SSC) officers from 10 years to 14 years, increasing promotional avenues for officers by implementing the A.V. Singh Committee recommendations on restructuring of officers’ cadre of the Indian Army and implementing the suggestions of the Sixth Pay Commission report. Last week, the Government had broadly rolled out the one rank-one pension scheme for ex-servicemen and also hiked family pension.

For the purpose of recruitment, the country is divided into recruiting zones and every zone is allotted a quota based on a percentage of its population and ethnic grouping. A legacy, slowly being diluted, is that of combat arm units or regiments recruiting from a particular zone or mixture of ethnic groups.

The shortage of officers has been plaguing the force for several years, resulting in poor management at the unit level. The Army’s sanctioned strength is about 46,600 officers. Army officials attribute the shortage to accretion in force levels from time to time and say that as a career option the job is characterised by hardship in the form of unsettled life, disruption of children’s education, risk factor and early retirement age. Every year about 600 officers retire as Lt. Colonels and Colonels at the age of 54.

The Army Chief said programmes were being held in several colleges and universities to motivate the youth to join the force.

“The youngsters feel motivated to join but their motivation level goes down when they discuss the Army as a career option with their parents. We intend to reach out to parents. Risks are everywhere but in the armed forces these are managed well,” said General Singh.

“We are taking measures like spreading awareness and convincing parents to send their children into the force to address the shortage. The disenchantment is also affecting soldiers as more than 10,000 took pre-mature retirement from the force last year. In 2011, 10,315 soldiers opted for premature retirement, while the figure for 2010 and 2009 was 7,249 and 7,499 respectively. The jawans, who are better educated than in the past, retire around a productive age of 35 years to look for greener pastures instead of continuing in the force,” senior Army officials added.

They said the Government has sanctioned establishment of two additional Service Selection Boards (SSBs) under the selection centre in the North at Roopnagar, Ropar, in Punjab which would facilitate the intake of more officers.

With its motto of “Live for something rather than die for nothing”, the Army is planning intensive publicity campaigns targeting both urban and rural areas. Officials said a number of “image projection campaigns” have been launched by the recruitment directorate to attract quality youth and spread awareness about the “Army as a career”.
Army-Navy communication centre inaugurated
Press Trust of India / Rameswaram (TN) September 29, 2012, 17:45

A communitcation centre jointly set up by the Army and Navy to help defence forces in monitoring the entire Palk Bay, Gulf of Mannar and adjoining coastal areas was inaugurated here today.

Major General Hariappa, who is incharge of communications, inaugurated the centre.

Navy Commander Sathyanarayana and Indian Coast Guard Commander of Mandapam station K K More were also present, officials said.
The centre would be in addition to the unmanned air surveillance facility of Indian Navy at Uchipuli near here where INS Parundu is located.

It would bring the entire south Tamil Nadu coast under the security ring of the three forces of the country.

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