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Sunday, 11 November 2012

From Today's Papers - 11 Nov 2012

Rising instability in East Asia: Impact of Regional Naval Modernisation on current Developments in the East China Sea
- By Kamlesh K Agnihotri*
The world has been observing the developments in the Senkaku Islands sovereignty dispute between China and Japan for the last two months, with great concern.  The very fact that the two countries which are otherwise engaged in comprehensive and mutually dependent social, economic and people to people relationship, chose to adopt strident postures on the Senkaku island issue, goes to show that the geopolitical situation in the region, particularly in the maritime domain is much more precariously poised than it appears on the surface.
While on Senkaku islands, the Japanese sovereignty claim is based on the premise that it integrated the islands into Okinawa Prefecture in 1895 after conducting surveys to ascertain that the islands were uninhabited and not under control of any State. The Chinese on the other hand, contend that their sovereignty over Diaoyu Islands historically dates back to Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and that the Japanese pushed the weak Qing rulers to sign the treaty of Shimonoseki post Sino-Japan war in 1894-5, ceding these islands to Japan. Taiwan’s claim arises from the fact that when Japan relinquished the control over ‘Formosa’ and its administered islands post Second World War, the Diaoyu islands, belonging to this administrative unit also became part of Taiwan.  Taiwan though has not been vehemently pressing its claim and is letting China do the needful for the time being. In the current context, Tokyo’s purchase and intended nationalisation of the Senkaku Islands has been seen as grave provocation by China and Taiwan. The situation is deteriorating to a degree wherein it threatens to derail their bilateral relations and create serious instability in the region.
However, the Senkaku island sovereignty is not the only issue of discord in the East China Sea and associated waters. There are other major and long outstanding maritime differences involving the main protagonists in East Asia viz. China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Taiwan. Japan has sovereignty disputes over outlying Kurile Islands with Russia. Though all the 56 Islands are under the Russian jurisdiction, Japan claims the two southernmost large islands (Iturup and Kunashir), as well as two islets, which has led to the ongoing dispute. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s first ever visit in November 2010 brought the dispute again into limelight.
The other dispute relates to the ownership of the Dokdo/Takeshima islands between South Korea and Japan. Both countries claim sovereignty based in large part, on differing interpretations of historical documents. The dispute has regularly caused diplomatic frictions between the two countries. On 10 August 2012, the President of South Korea, Lee Myung-Bak, visited the islands, which made Japan temporarily withdraw its ambassador to South Korea. Japan has made four proposals for referring the issue to International Court of Justice (ICJ) for arbitration, the last being in 2012, but South Korea has thus far declined the offer.
 The fragility of the North and South Korean relations has been more than evident in recent times.  The Six-Party Talks on the Korean nuclear issue have waxed and waned and finally remain stalled since 2008, without the desired result of capping of the North Korean nuclear program. North Korea has been continually involved in military skirmishes with South Korea across the northern limiting line (NLL), which it does not recognise as a boundary. The underlying tensions tend to flare up occasionally. There was a bitter standoff at sea in November 2009 wherein the naval ships of both countries fired at each other across the NLL, resulting in much damage and fatalities. The most horrific incident happened in March 2010 when a South Korean naval patrol vessel ‘Cheonan’ was apparently torpedoed and sunk by a North Korean submarine off the Korean coast, killing all 46 naval personnel on board. Responsibility could not be pinned conclusively on North Korea, resulting in South Korea not being able to respond appropriately.
Japan like South Korea, is also wary of the North Korean nuclear and missile development programs. North Korea has serious differences with the US. Both the countries which are in positive alliance with the US and on whose territories the US forces are based, fear retribution from North Korea on this account. Both countries want to see the North Korean nuclear program plugged and are involved in this effort through the Six-Party talks. China as the coordinator for the talks and also wielding substantial leverage over North Korea, indirectly provides more complexity to this conundrum.
In addition to Chinese disputes with Taiwan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and the Spratly group in the South China Sea, the most critical issue that remains outstanding is that of unification, despite the improving cross-strait relationship.  The only factor that is preventing this from happening is the American stance in support of Taiwan, should China resort to force in this endeavour.
Impact of Naval Modernisation in East Asia
Against such a tenuous background comprising underlying tensions, the ongoing naval modernisation of East Asian countries is causing the regional dynamics to become progressively more complex. A broad comparison of Japanese and Chinese naval hardware elicits the fact that the PLA Navy is by far the more superior force ‘tonnage for tonnage’. That may give an impression that the situation is pretty much loaded against Japan.  But the Japanese Navy, armed with 48 ‘major surface combatants’ including ‘helicopter destroyers’, Aegis guided-missile destroyers and 16 diesel-electric submarines is no pushover. The ongoing fast-paced Chinese naval modernisation and specific efforts of the Japanese Navy towards hi-technology upgrade of its inventory must also be noted in this context.
As far as the Senkaku dispute is concerned, the pressure felt by Japan from other territorial disputes with Russia and South Korea contributes to an uncompromising stance on the Senkaku, the only disputed territory under its effective control. Boundary patrols around the Senkaku are led by the civilian Japanese Coast Guard. However, the Self Defence Forces have extended their surveillance posture south of Okinawa and are being trained and equipped for the defence of outlying islands. China on its part has also deployed ten of its maritime surveillance ships. However, ships and submarines of the PLA Navy’s East Sea Fleet are conducting extensive exercises in the East China Sea including live firing of missiles and other ordnance. The amphibious exercises for beach landing and seizure have also been conducted.
Although Japan’s formidable defence capabilities and the US treaty guarantee constrain China’s military options in the Senkakus, Beijing’s move to assert its sovereignty claims through military presence raises the risk of collisions or other events like serious injuries, loss of life or property. Should this happen, there will invariably be a public outcry for active response, which the Chinese leadership in the current period of political transition may find hard to ignore. In such a situation, the possibility of a localised China-Japan military clash breaking out in the East China Sea cannot be entirely ruled out.
While the Senkaku dispute remains on the boil, the North Koreans may also indulge in some kind of brinkmanship. They have demonstrated an astute sense of gauging the precarious geopolitical situations for more than half a Century. Their propensity to indulge in pre-emptive unilateral activities to draw maximum mileage from such complexities is also well known. One should not put it beyond them to leverage the emerging China-Japan crisis to engage in brinkmanship with the South Koreans. On 24 September 2012, Pyongyang denounced the warning shots fired by South Korean naval ships at its six fishing boats along the disputed NLL as acts of provocation. In fact, the North Korean vice Foreign Minister rhetorically warned during his address at the UN General Assembly on 01 October 2012 that “due to the hostile American policies towards DPRK, the Korean Peninsula had become the World’s most dangerous hotspot and was [but] one spark away from nuclear war”.
Even though the South Korean Navy is stronger than the North Korean one and modernising at a moderate pace, it also looks to the US to keep the situation under control vis-à-vis that country. On the other hand, while the North Korea Navy remains pretty static in its modernisation effort, Pyongyang looks to leverage its nuclear program and land based short range delivery systems to balance the superior South Korean naval strength.  Just as Japan and South Korea bank on positive US military support, the North Koreans rely on the tacit if not direct backing of China.
But, the American diplomatic efforts to bring back a sense of normalcy between China and Japan over the Senkakus does not seem to be having the desired calming influence. While Japan expects the US to clearly favour its position, China, on the other hand, views Washington’s overtures as superficial at best, given its clear opposition to the increasing US involvement in regional security affairs. The US, maintaining a sizeable maritime force in the region has not helped matters in any way, by announcing its ‘pivot to the Asia-Pacific’ and calling for multilateral approach to the resolution of South China Sea disputes.  Thus Washington faces a real dilemma with at least three countries in the area openly soliciting its support as alliance partners, while it debates on how not to get involved directly.
The calamitous event over Senkakus could probably eclipse even the tensions between two Koreas and in the South China Sea, in the near term. Considering the factors of geographical proximity between China and Japan, high technological quality of Japanese ships and comparatively better professional and training standard of the Japanese Navy vis-a-vis their Chinese counterparts, the conflict, even if it were to be restricted to a localised one, would not throw up a clear winner.
Considering the other complementary interests and interdependencies at stake between the two countries as also their individual aspirations of nation building through peace and stability, this clash could only result in a ‘lose-lose’ outcome. Notwithstanding the manner in which this issue pans out, Washington would have to walk a real diplomatic tightrope as its credibility vis-a-vis both, Japan and China would be at stake, not to mention the other allies who would watch and draw their own conclusions.

* Commander Kamlesh Kumar Agnihotri is a Research Fellow with the China Cell of the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are solely his own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Government or the National Maritime Foundation. The author can be reached at
Antony: No hasty decision on revoking AFSPA in J&K
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 10
Defence Minister AK Antony today reiterated that there would be no “hasty decision” on revoking the much-debated Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir.

“The violence level in Jammu and Kashmir has come down, but at the same time, infiltration attempts are on the rise and it’s a matter of concern,” the Defence Minister said on the sidelines of a function to mark the 48th foundation day of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). “As I have said earlier, we cannot take a decision on AFSPA in a hasty manner,” he said.

On being asked if there were efforts being made through track-II dialogue on demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier, Antony said: “No, we are not for that. Our stand on Siachen is very clear and there is no change in our stand”.

India wants authentication of the present positions. New Delhi has always insisted it will pull back troops only after joint “authentication” of the frontline along the 109-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) — the name of the de facto border on the glacier. The AGPL has never been marked on the ground or on any document accepted by both sides.

If Pakistan violates a de-militarisation treaty, it would enjoy easier access to Siachen, leaving India at a disadvantage. New Delhi wants international guarantee against any violation. Pakistan resists “authentication” as a pre-requisite to de-militarisation.

On corruption in the deal to buy 12 VVIP copters, Antony said: “We are probing the issue and have sought details. The Ministry of External Affairs has been told to gather more facts. If foul play is revealed, we will act.”
On demilitarisation of Siachen

Antony ruled out track-II dialogue on de-militarisation of Siachen. New Delhi has insisted it will pull back troops only after joint authentication of the frontline along the 109-km Actual Ground Position Line

Pakistan, on the other hand, has been resisting “authentication” as a pre-requisite to demilitarisation

On VVIP helicopter deal

India has sought details from the UK in connection with graft allegations in the deal and “strong action” would be taken in case foul play is detected in procurement, Antony said
Special women police force formed
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, November 10
The Assam Police has formed a special women police force — “Virangana” (brave woman) — to protect the fair sex from atrocities and abuse on the streets of Guwahati.

The 100-strong force has been formed in the wake of growing incidence of crime against women in the city.

The city was in the national focus for all the wrong reasons earlier this year when a young woman was molested in the street under the glare of video cameras.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi launched the special police force, which will be first deployed in Guwahati and gradually moved to other urban centres of the state after fresh recruitment.

Gogoi hoped the trained women personnel would help curb incidence of eve-teasing in the city.

“We have trained 100 women constables in martial arts, arms drill and silent drill to make them tough. They have been drafted from various battalions of the state police and have undergone special training in Tamil Nadu,” said Assam Police DGP JN Choudhury.

During the launch ceremony, “Viranganas” exhibited their skills and strong-arm tactics.

The force has been provided with a different uniform and a sword. “They are trained to restrain any kind of assault on/towards women. We hope this force will be a landmark in the effort to maintain law and order in the city,” said a senior official.

The name

“Virangana”, lifted from the pages of history of Assam as well India, has been used for brave women such as Kanaklata, martyr of Freedom movement; Mula Gabhoru, Ahom princess; Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and many others who fought for the greater interest of the society
Bombshell dropped as army officer changes gender
ARMY chief David Morrison's speechwriter, Malcolm McGregor,has secured the support of the Defence Force to continue employment as Cate McGregor.

The former journalist and political staffer to John Hewson and Bob Carr shocked the political establishment yesterday by choosing to publicly confirm the transition.

The army respectfully kept the secret for months, allowing Lieutenant Colonel McGregor time off to write a memoir, An Indian Summer Of Cricket, while undergoing hormone therapy and an extraordinary personal transformation.

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph Lt-Col McGregor said she was humbled the way the defence forces had handled the matter.

"When I came out to the army, I said I would not be commenting on my transsexuality," she said.

"But I've been treated with enormous decency. I've been humbled by my colleagues."
Lt-Col McGregor has served in East Timor and was awarded an Order of Australia in the Military Division last year for exceptional service to the Australian Army and the Land Warfare Studies Centre.

While serving army officers were once forced to quit if they decided to change gender, Lt-Col McGregor said she was grateful the army chief had supported her.

"And he insisted that I continue in that role, as speechwriter," she said.

It was Lt-Col's McGregor's love of cricket that inspired her to ask the defence forces permission to write about the sport last year after years of writing speeches for others.

She began a column for The Spectator magazine and has now joined The Australian Financial Review as a cricket writer.

"I thought writing about cricket, it's pretty innocuous. I was looking for something to recapture my authentic voice," she said.

The road to becoming a woman has been a difficult one for Lt-Col McGregor, who was first diagnosed as a transsexual by a psychologist in the 1980s.

Her publisher is retired Major General Ian Gordon, a former Deputy Chief of Army who now runs Barrallier Books in Canberra.

"I don't think brave is the right word," he said.

"It's not a step anyone would take easily. It's been a classy act. The way she's done this - particularly as a serving army officer."

Liberal frontbencher Andrew Robb, a former employer of Lt-Col McGregor, said she was incredibly bright.

Ten years ago, Lt-Col McGregor was revealed as the culprit behind leaked Liberal polling data that John Hewson was confronted with on ABC television in 1994, an act that contributed to Mr Hewson's demise as leader.
Fire hits Indian army camp: Lt. Col killed, 6 injured
Srinagar: (GNS) An Indian army officer was charred to death and half-dozen were injured as five to six barracks gutted in a devastating fire at Sunerwani camp in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Saturday morning.
A senior army official while talking to GNS said that fire broke out inside army’s 5 PARA camp at Sunerwani, Bandipora during wee hours today in which Lt. Colonel Suharan Opte was killed and also some barracks were gutted.
Sources however revealed that fire broke out due to gas leakage inside the cooking room which lies adjacent to Colonel’s residential quarter.
Following the incident, army has launched a probe to ascertain the cause of fire.
Meanwhile, police has registered a case in this regard and have started further investigation into the matter. (GNS
Playing with defence
 Keep Armed Forces out of austerity drive

Union Minister for Defence AK Antony's lament that he is “struggling” to get even the funds allocated by the Government to expedite the modernisation of the Armed Forces, is shocking news. The Minister's alarming statement comes in the backdrop of the Union Government slicing off more than Rs14,000 crore out of the allocated Rs80,000 crore meant for procuring critical weapon systems to maintain operational preparedness. On the pretext of an ‘austerity drive', one among the many futile efforts launched in recent times by the Congress-led UPA Government, the Centre has ensured that the defence modernisation programme remains hampered. In a bid to bail itself out of the current financial pressure, the Government has callously overlooked the implications of this drastic directive. Not only will it delay procurement of some much-needed big ticket items like combat aircraft, artillery guns, new planes, helicopters and warships, but it will also dampen efforts to strengthen security along the country's borders. India has territorial disputes with its neighbours; there is instability in the region. Add to this the growing military ties between Pakistan and China, and the dismal picture is complete. In view of this “new threat perception”, as Mr Antony accepts, and the effort to raise an elite security corps to boost defence preparedness along the China border, the Government's decision to curtail defence expenditure could not have come at a more inappropriate time. As it is, the country's defence spending as a proportion of the GDP is way below the comfort level. As a senior Army officer had baldly stated early this year, the state of the Indian Army is “alarming”, its air-defence system “97 per cent obsolete, and the tanks devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks”. One would have thought that the Government would take a leaf out of this observation. Instead the UPA regime has simply ignored the warnings.

Incidentally, while the Government talks of pruning defence expenditure in the name of promoting austerity, it has without hesitation launched harebrained schemes and thrown good money at them. The National Food Security Bill, 2011 and the MNREGA are a case in point. Ironically, as it has been observed in recent times, many of the Government's austerity drives have been at the cost of defence and security issues. In June this year, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued a directive to curb the purchase of vital anti-insurgency combat equipment meant for central paramilitary forces battling Red terror at great risk to themselves. Meanwhile, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh pitched for more toilets than fighter jets — as if the two are in competition. The problem is that the Government, aided by babus who have never seen a battlefield, continue to believe that investments in defence are largely a waste.
Army kills four infiltrators in Kupwara
Srinagar : The Indian Army Friday said it foiled an infiltration bid and killed four infiltrators in north Kashmir's Kupwara district.

Defence spokesman Lt. Col. J.S. Brar said in a statement: "An infiltration bid was foiled by alert security forces on the Line of Control (LOC) in Keran Sector, near Hanuman Top, where terrorists who were trying to sneak into Indian territory at 1:30 a.m. Friday with huge quantity of arms to target innocent civilians and security forces were killed."

"During this operation, four heavily armed terrorists were killed and a huge quantity of war-like stores were recovered, which included five AK-47 rifles," the spokesman said.

"This is a desperate attempt to ensure maximum infiltration by the other side, before the traditional routes of infiltration close due to snow. The Indian Army will ensure that none of these efforts succeed," the spokesman said.
Army, CII hold seminar in Delhi on battle tactics
GUWAHATI: The Corps of Signals and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) jointly organized a two-day seminar titled "DEFCOM-2012" at Manekshaw Centre, Delhi cantonment recently.

Altogether 1,000 participants from defence services, industry and academia attended the seminar. Apart from workshops, HR and technical sessions, the seminar also included exhibits from over 30 leading industries of high technology solutions and communication technology from across the globe.

The experts present in the seminar discussed communication-related issues relevant to the Indian Army in tactical battle areas. All in all, it was a success.
Army agrees to approach road for new airport
RANCHI: The Army has agreed to allow construction of an approach road which will connect the new terminal building of the airport.

Airport officials who attended a meeting called by Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey said the army authorities agreed to allow the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to construct the approach road. "A final decision in this connection will, however, be taken at the appropriate level. It means that the issue is almost solved," said Ranchi deputy commissioner (land records) Sailendra Lal, who was part of the meeting.

Choubey said the meeting was a preliminary one. "A high level meeting will be held next month in which an additional secretary level officer from the defence ministry will take part. A final decision will be taken in that meeting," said the DC.

In Saturday's meeting, senior Army officers from Danapur cantonment in Bihar, local station officer of the Army and Ranchi airport director Raju Raghvendra Kumar were present.

A local Army unit has objected to the construction of the approach road claiming that the land on which the AAI wants to construct the approach road belongs to them

The same expressway has to be extended by 1 km on its eastern side to connect the newly constructed terminal building.

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