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Monday, 12 November 2012

From Today's Papers - 12 Nov 2012






http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20121112/nation.htm#5
Army Chief to brief PM on weapons shortage

New Delhi, November 11
Facing a shortage of critical weapon systems and ammunition, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh will brief Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the "hollowness" faced by the 1.3 million-strong force in its defence preparedness.

Gen Bikram Singh will make a presentation before the Prime Minister about the "hollowness" faced by the force and the steps needed to do away with them in the next few weeks, government sources said.

The Army is in the process of identifying more areas where it is facing shortfalls and they will be added in the presentation before the PM, they said. The Directorate General of Military Operations has asked the Army Headquarters to coordinate with all the arms and services to prepare the list of all equipment and platforms which are short in inventory and would be required by the force to maintain its operational preparedness, sources said.

During the recent Commanders' Conference also, the Army Chief had said "hollowness" in the country's defence preparedness will be addressed by pushing for a new direction in modernisation. "There was a need to address hollowness in defence preparedness and undertake modernisation with added vigour," he had said.

Gen Bikram Singh's predecessor Gen V K Singh had highlighted the critical shortage of arms and ammunition faced by the various arms and services of the force in a secret letter written to the Prime Minister. In his letter, the former Army Chief had said that there was only three to four days of ammunition left with the tank regiments especially the ones operating the Russian-origin T-90 tanks. He had also highlighted the 98 per cent obsolescence faced by the Army Air Defence. — PTI

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20121112/nation.htm#6
UFOs over India-China border may have been lanterns, says report

Leh/New Delhi, November 11
The mystery over the unidentified luminous objects seen on the horizon over a lake in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir appears to have been cracked with security agencies believing it to be “Chinese lanterns”.

Last month, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) wrote to the government about sighting some orange-yellow luminous flying objects on the horizon over the Pangong Tso, located 160 km from Leh.

The Leh-based 14-Corps was alerted by the ITBP, which also reported sighting of the light-emitting body to its Udhampur-based Northern Command prompting an intensive monitoring of the flying object, official sources said.

Scientists from various organisations were brought to Leh and a thorough study was conducted in consultation with experts of the Indian Air Force, whose radars were also unable to pick up any signal due to the flying of the unidentified objects on the horizon of the lake, 45 km of which is in India while the remaining 90 km lies under the control of China’s People Liberation Army.

There was a suggestion that one of these flying objects needed to be shot down with the heat-seeking weaponry of the Indian Army, a proposal which was shot down as this region had last heard a gunshot on October 29, 1962, during hostilities with China. It was also thought that the move could trigger tension in the region, the sources said.

Intelligence agencies, with their sparse presence in this region, however, opined that this could be a psychological operation of the Chinese army and a possibility of launching “Chinese lanterns” during daybreak and in night was looked into by various astronomers, scientists and experts who have studied glaciers for years together, the sources said.

Experts from Ladakh-based Indian Astronomical Observatory and other scientists then studied the phenomenon of the luminous object and found that it disappeared in 12 to 18 minutes.

No crashing was also reported by the Border patrolling boat at the fringes of the lake and they reported that the light simply disappeared and there was no trace of it, the sources said.

Scientists and experts suspected that it could be one of the Chinese gimmicks to launch lanterns having a capability to attain a height of 500 to 2000 metres and puzzle the Indian forces braving the chill and unfriendly terrain along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Many European countries have banned the manufacturing of Chinese lanterns, which are traditionally constructed from oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame, and contain a fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material. — PTI

The alarm

    In early October, ITBP writes to government about sighting luminous flying objects over Pangong Tso, near Leh
    Leh-based 14-Corps and Udhampur-based ITBP’s Northern Command also alerted, prompting monitoring of the flying objects
    IAF radars fail to pick up any signal
    Experts/scientists suggest these are lanterns as these disappeared within 12 to 18 minutes


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20121112/edit.htm#6
Salute the military role in nation-building
Today the military leader's obligation is beyond his primary role of battling the external enemy as there is a perceptible shift towards internal security involving neutralising terrorists, winning the hearts and minds of aggrieved people, riot control, saving lives during natural disasters and military diplomacy
Lt Gen Raj Sujlana (retd)

History is proof that once threats fail, military force has often been used to achieve political aims; this trend in realpolitik is perhaps unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Holistic national security strategy therefore, is a combination of political and military thinking and planning. Strategy bereft of such joint planning, will be found wanting.
Therefore, in formulation of ibid strategy the military leader is an indispensible part whose professionalism advice and involvement in decision making is a must to ensure victory. Once the military is involved and left to its role, visible changes come about in the sway of war and final victory.

An example of sound strategy is that of the 1971 Indo-Pak war when the final decision to go war was taken after due consideration of the strategic concerns of the military leadership. The joint national effort thus executed by the Indian Army won a resounding victory leading to the creation of Bangladesh.

That of a weak, ill-planned strategy is the 1962 Sino-Indo War and the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka. In both conflicts the political aims were over riding, external intelligence was non-existent, essential involvement of the military leadership left much to be desired leading to disastrous consequences; the former saw the nation face the ignominy of a humiliating defeat and, in the latter, heavy casualties were suffered and total success eluded the Indian ground forces.

The armed forces were not only-ill equipped to battle; but their combined punch (i.e. of the Air Force and Navy) was not utilised, external intelligence so essential for planning was not available and, in Sri Lanka, the limited ground forces utilised did not have full freedom of operations.

Ground realities
In our country, however, leave aside appropriate involvement of the military leadership in matters of national security, even their contribution is seldom acknowledged, and accolades seldom coming forth. This, despite the fact that the military has contributed tremendously to nation building, in ensuring its integrity and the freedom we enjoy today. This is no mean measure, as the military, especially the Army, has been in war or war-like operations since Independence without respite. This success has been achieved by the resilience of every soldier (the term includes sailors and airmen) and more so, the intense involvement of the military leader and their innumerable sacrifices.

Since Independence there has been a constant effort to keep the achievements of the armed forces in the background, with the media playing along, strictly abiding by the adage for the military that, "good news is no news and bad news is news"! 'Bashing the Services', seems to be a by word. Despite this the armed forces continue to perform their varied roles with diligence and remain an organisation which can be relied upon in any emergency. Highlighting only negative news adversely affects morale of the armed forces and creates a wrong impression in the society. Society at large has little or no knowledge about the roles and contribution of the armed forces. There is no effort at national commemoration for the military. Freedom fighters of yesteryears are regularly remembered (and rightly so), but its ironic that the present freedom fighters, the Indian armed forces, have rather limited space in such remembrance. What takes the cake is the negative attitude of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) towards the armed forces. Examples are numerous, the recent case of the MoD going hammer and tongs against the rightful demands of the armed forces related to the 4th Pay Commission till the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the armed forces says it all.

Professional demands

The military profession expects much of its leaders. Threat scenarios and related challenges are immense; situations change rapidly, the identifiable danger merging with the unidentifiable danger. Today the military leader's obligation is beyond his primary role of battling the external enemy; there is a perceptible shift towards internal security; involving neutralising terrorists, winning the hearts and minds (WHAM) of an aggrieved populace through military-civic actions, riot control, saving lives during natural disasters, military diplomacy world-wide etc. The armed forces see no task as trivial, the aim always is to inject excellence in the job at hand and ensure mission accomplishment.

In most vocations the matter of learning is one of personal preference, but to be a dynamic military leader, gaining knowledge is a duty. The leader has to constantly upgrade his professional skills by regular study (of the art of war, worldly and national developments, psychology, human relationship etc). His personal motivation has to be a part of his spirit; he is not a mercenary and is not lured by monetary gains or awards for his achievements. He is committed to serve the Nation and his soldiers with devotion. His responsibility to his men is paternal and absolute; their safety comes first but finally he has to lead them into what may well be a violent act endangering life or limb and often withstand tremendous mental strain due to the loss of a comrade.

The leader has also to address the social problems faced by the soldiers but seldom finds it easy to go through the bureaucratic red tapes. The leaders have often to interact with varied populace country wide, some friendly some hostile; face complex and sensitive situations which have to be handled maturely, abiding by the law of the land, without hurting local sentiments. The onus to lead up front, be first to face danger and make the supreme sacrifice is an omnipresent part of a military leaders' duty. It is on record, that the ratio of casualties in war/operations of officers vis-a-vis their subordinates is one of the highest in the world in the Indian Army. The rank and file on their count, have as a rule rather than exception ensured observance of the soldier's code of conduct, have absolute faith in their leaders and always look up to them in any situation. Such traits are seldom required in other professions.

Operational conduct

The Indian Armed Forces conduct in war/ peace time operations, has been marked with professionalism, ensuring victory whilst safeguarding human values. They have abided by the tenants of the Geneva Conventions; enemy prisoners of war have been treated fairly, this despite repeated extreme provocation, by barbaric maltreatment of their brethren by the adversaries. Counter terrorist operations are delicate and demanding, a blurred line exists between the terrorist and the innocent majority, the risk of collateral damage looms large. In this rather sensitive matter the Army has come out with honour despite countless false allegations; the credit goes to the military leader who has kept his cool despite extreme provocation. One has to only compare the conduct of other armies the world over in similar operations, to perceive this achievement of the Indian Army.

Military diplomacy

Military diplomacy is an important adjunct of diplomacy. The military has earned tremendous good will of armies the world over for their professionalism. Over the recent past, armies of the US, the UK, France, Russia and a host of others have conducted joint training exercises to exchange military tactics and gain from experience of the Indian Armed Forces. In United Nations peace keeping operations the Indian Army has earned much appreciation of the local populations and armies of different countries for their helpful attitude, humane approach and expertise in WHAM operations.

However, whenever the need arose to battle any rogue elements they have resorted to minimum force despite suffering casualties. Examples of their valour are many; the award of the Param Vir Chakra to Captain G S Salaria (posthumously), in Congo for his daredevil action is one such of many others. The military training imparted at the officers' academies and various schools of instruction are most sought after and subscribed by a host of foreign countries. The Indian Military Academy, Dehradun has to date, trained 1397 cadets from over 15 friendly foreign countries. In addition, with our expertise a number of military training academies have been raised in different countries. The professional courses at the Army War College, Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and the National Defence College, New Delhi and other defence institutes are reputed internationally.

Ethos of the military leader

The loyalty of the military and its leaders has been above reproach; they have always remained apolitical and have never even vaguely acted in an anti-democratic way. They have great faith in our democratic set up and respected the values of state and society. The bipartisan role of the forces during the emergency is an outstanding example; when all other pillars of democracy crawled and stooped, the armed forces stood rock solid and upheld democracy. The contribution to nation building of the armed forces led by their leaders is an outstanding example of selfless service; fighting the enemy, putting down fissiparous and secessionist forces, reaching anywhere and everywhere to provide solace to our countrymen in any disaster, the list is endless.

By their dedicated professional service and sacrifice the Indian armed forces have built a strong architecture of national security. These achievements have been possible by the constant desire of the military leaders to reinvent themselves and remain harmonised with current and futuristic warfare. The current sharp deficiency of officers in the armed forces is a national problem, and has to be seen and handled as one. A nation can only afford to deny the rightful place due to the armed forces and its leaders at its own peril. While the military leader will continue to risk all for cause and country with unflinching heart and known fortitude, his professionalism and contribution to nation building needs to be given the deserved salute, lip service will not do.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20121112/main4.htm
Army’s Ghatak infantry platoons to go more deadly
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, November 11
All “Ghatak platoons” of the Army will soon start getting the first lot of the latest weaponry aimed at equipping the troops to tackle newer forms of threats. Each of the 350 infantry battalions of the Army have “Ghatak platoons”. These largely comprise trained commandos that carry out specific tasks.

As there are 20 Ghatak personnel in each infantry battalion of 800, 7,000 Army personnel are set to get the latest weapons. The new weapons will be in addition to the existing sniper rifles and rocket launchers. With the changing scenario, four different sets of equipment would be added to the armoury of the “Ghatak platoons”, source said.

This would include new automatic sub-machine guns having rapid-fire and night firing capabilities. A contract to acquire 1,568 of these guns had been signed with B&T, Switzerland, for Rs 25 crore. The first priority would be to equip the 130 infantry battalions stationed in the North and the North-East, followed by other battalions. The delivery of the gun was expected to start anytime now, source said.

The second part of the weaponry would comprise specialised breaching ammunition that would be handy in case the enemy was hiding behind a brick wall or a door. This would be effective in urban warfare and counter-insurgency operations with terrorists taking refuge in people’s houses or farmhouses. At present, the NSG uses such ammunition.

Handheld ballistic shield would form the third part of the weaponry. The soldiers would be well-protected with bulletproof jackets and headgear. The shield would allow the soldier to see the enemy through it while his own face would remain protected.

The fourth and last item would be the “stun grenades”. These do not cause any collateral damage but are used to provide an effect by which a person is immobilised and rendered incapable of firing back. This is expected to be used against militants and even in case of a war. Capturing a militant or an enemy alive could yield a whole lot of information. All this is part of the efforts made to address the critical “hollowness” within the Army. Army Chief General Bikram Singh, when he joined on June 1 this year, made it clear that his focus would be on the force and replacing its ageing weaponry.

Besides ramping up the “Ghatak platoons”, the process to acquire new assault rifles for the entire Army is also at its final stages. Around 60,000 rifles would be purchased in the first lot. The transfer of technology would facilitate licensed production in India.


ON PURCHASE LIST

SET-ONE:New automatic sub-machine guns having rapid-fire and night-fire capability

SET-TWO: Specialised breaching ammunitions for use against enemy hiding behind walls etc.

SET-THREE: Handheld ballistic shield allowing soldiers to see the enemy while keeping their own face protected

SET-FOUR: Stun grenades to immobilise a person without causing any collateral damage

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