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Friday, 16 November 2012

From Today's Papers - 16 Nov 2012
Army called out as two more killed in Assam
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, November 15
Army called out and indefinite curfew was imposed in Kokrajhar district of the communally sensitive and riot-affected Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District Council (BTC) following killing of two persons by unidentified miscreants this morning in two separate incidents.

Inspector General of Police (BTC area), G P Singh informed that an unidentified miscreant shot dead one Nelson Basumatary, a petty businessman at Telepara under Gossaingaon police station of Gossaingaon sub-division of Kokrajhar district at around 7.30 am.

It was flowed by another killing when one trader Abul Kalam was stabbed to death at Kokrajhar Weekly market at Kokrajhar town at around 8.45 am creating panic among traders and market goers.

As both the incidents trigger rumour mongering and tension in the area the administration imposed indefinite curfew in the entire Kokrajhar district to prevent escalation of violence. The Army has been called to stage flag march and assist the administration in maintaining law and order in the district that was still recovering from the spell of communal riot that swept past the BTC area in July this year rendering over 4.70 lakh people homeless while over 100 were killed.

The death toll due to fresh incidents of violence in Kokrajhar district since November 10 last has gone up to six while the toll for the entire BTC has mounted to eight following the two deaths today.

Assam CM Tarun Gogoi has rushed the parliamentary secretaries for home department, Rana Goswami and Bhupen Bora to monitor the action taken by the administration in the BTC to contain spread of violence in the area while Additional DGP (Law and Order) A P Raut has been deputed to the area to supervise the police operation.

Meanwhile, DGP of Assam J N Chaudhury has pointed accusing finger to the anti-talks faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) led by Ranjan Daimary for trying to create fresh disturbance in the area.
Testing of new set of short-range missiles reaches final stage
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, November 15
After the disturbing fact tumbled out that 97 per cent of Indian air defence equipment is obsolete, the armed forces are now in the final stages of trying out a new set of missiles that will target airborne threats at a very short range.

This will prove crucial in protecting military bases, frontline airbases, tank regiments, warships and also strategic assets. The last set of trials is slated for February 2013, sources confirmed.

India aims to spend $5.4 billion (approx Rs 29,000 crore) to buy some 1,000 missile launchers and 6,000 missiles for its Very Short-Range Air-Defence System (VSHORADS). This is the initial order. Once the missile is approved for purchase, licence production in India will commence making it the key weapon of choice, sources said. Public sector giant Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) will be the Indian production arm.

It was in March that the then Army Chief General VK Singh wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying 97 per cent of the air defence systems were obsolete. India, at present, operates the Russian origin Igla-SA-18 weapon for very short range targets - between 6 to 8 km.

The new set of missiles will form the last ring of air defence and have to be very accurate and reliable in hitting targets. The prime aim is to tackle UAVs, helicopters and even low-flying fighter jets within immediate range.

The three contenders are the French missile maker MBDA with its weapon ‘Mistral’, Sweden’s Saab with its ‘RBS 70 NG’ and Russia’s new generation ‘Igla-SA-24’. Sources said the evaluation was done in extensive trials carried out during summer in Rajasthan in May.

A coastal environment trial was done near Visakhapatnam to check for firing capabilities in humid conditions. High-altitude trails have been conducted at Ladakh. The winter testing of the weapon will be done in early February in the northern part of the country.

Sources pointed out that India is looking at a system that can be deployed in multiple configurations and can be used by the Army, Air Force and Navy. One among the many configurations that the missile should have is that it should be man-portable that can easily lifted by troops in rugged mountain areas and carried to newer locations.

In the plains, the requirement is to fit it with a twin-launcher and base it on a high-mobility vehicle so that it can accompany the tank regiments to battle or be at airbases and other high-value targets like nuclear plants and large dams like the Bhakra.
Pentagon chief orders ethics review for US top brass
Bangkok: Defence Secretary Leon Panetta ordered US military commanders on Thursday to carry out a review of ethics training among senior officers amid a widening sex scandal that cost CIA chief David Petraeus his job.

A spate of recent scandals involving the top brass had "the potential to erode public confidence in our leadership and in our system for the enforcement of our high ethical standards", Panetta, on a tour of Asia, wrote in a memo to the military's top-ranking officer, General Martin Dempsey.

"Worse, they can be detrimental to the execution of our mission to defend the American people," he wrote.

The announcement comes in the wake of a scandal that prompted the resignation of the former four-star general and CIA director Petraeus, as well as a litany of allegations and disciplinary action against other senior military leaders.

Panetta directed Dempsey and the chiefs of the armed services to examine "existing ethics training programmes to determine if they are adequate" and to report back with their findings within a few weeks.

The Pentagon chief then planned to issue an initial report to President Barack Obama on the issue by December 1, according to the memo released to reporters.

Recent investigations and embarrassing revelations have painted a picture of a military leadership living a privileged existence, unlike the troops they lead, with critics saying the senior officer corps has become increasingly unaccountable.

The commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has been caught up in the Petraeus affair while another four-star officer, General William "Kip" Ward, was demoted to three stars this week after a probe alleged he had wasted government funds on a lavish lifestyle.

Ward spent public money on a $747 hotel suite in Bermuda and used his staff to run personal errands, according to a Defense Department inspector general's report. Ward, the former head of African command, has denied the accusations.

Another Army general, Jeffrey Sinclair, was removed from his post earlier this year in Afghanistan after being accused of sexual misconduct with subordinates and of threatening one woman's life.
Do we need the Indian Army? – K.K. Khanna
“It is time to either utilise the Armed Forces optimally or do away with them to save precious resources for development of the Nation. For the Generals, it is essential to change with time and to learn to contribute meaningfully both in External Affairs and Internal Development cum Governance. Foundation for this must be laid at the IMA.” - Lt. Gen. K.K. Khanna

Pandit Nehru believed that the Indian Army was quite unnecessary, in fact dangerous, because generals seized power. Having struggled to gain power, even accepting partition of the Country in the process, the politicians were not going to lose it to some ambitious General! Also, we believed in Ahimsa and Panchsheel.

Since our neighbours had different philosophies, India suffered on account of this attitude.

India had an Army because we inherited it from the British not because we needed it. Since it was there it was made as toothless as possible. That the Armed Forces are an important instrument of the State to be used in the best interests of a Nation was not the belief of Indian politicians nor the compliant bureaucrats. This was due to both fear and ignorance.

The situation now is the opposite. Having created this huge organisation, after the Sino-Indian Conflict, spending thousands of crores of precious public money every year no one knows how to make the best use of it. A few examples are necessary to illustrate.

It is well understood, even in India, that War is a continuation of the Policy (of the State) by other means. No one in his right senses would recommend War, till the ‘other means’ are fully exhausted.

If so, what are the issues which can lead to War? External threats come from external powers. The MEA handles International Relations till they can. Only when the situations go beyond them, are the Armed Forces called in for acting in the best interests of the Nation.

If this be the modus operandi, closer interaction of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Armed Forces would be in the best interest of the Nation. Though a few military officers do serve in our foreign missions, the Nation would gain by better integration of different services. Not only can the MEA be better aware of military capabilities, the MEA can utilise service officers to meet its shortage of diplomats. For this officers of the Armed Forces themselves must be better aware of International Relations, even pursue formal studies in Universities and receive any training the MEA may like to impart.

Maoist-infected areas in IndiaNext and more frequent utilisation of the Armed Forces is to combat the ever-increasing Internal Threat. It is common knowledge that insurrections break out against self-serving and corrupt governance and callous administration. The Army is called in to restore normalcy so that the same or similar corrupt Governments continue to govern. In doing so, the Army is often blamed for excesses. No one is interested in why the people were agitated in the first place or whether they are happy later. The governments are happy since the Army draws the flak, while they continue to (mis)rule. The ‘Intellectuals’ or the Academia living in the metros have only a hazy idea of the state of affairs, making occasional trips to the capitals of the disturbed regions once in a while, pick up ‘grapevine’, to appear knowledgable. The Army, having first hand knowledge of the problems, produces no such ‘intellectuals’. Generals talk only of military affairs.

If the Army is to be involved so often to restore normalcy, it is time to learn something about Governance. This was discouraged by the British. Their method of restoring normalcy was as seen at Jallianwala Bagh. Do Indians realise things have changed over 65 years? It is time for Army officers to learn the basics of Governance and administration and keep collecting their own Intelligence all the time.

The Wars of 1947-48, 1965, and Kargil Operations were thrust upon us, hence we had no options. But the 1962 and 1971 wars, our misadventure in Sri Lanka, and our numerous internal conflicts till date, should teach us many lessons.

The Sino-Indian War was totally due our blunders by the MEA, and by the IB and to a lesser extent, incompetence of a few Army Generals. The Indian Public was never informed of the true picture.

Zhou Enlai was the PM cum foreign minister of Peoples Republic of China. A Conference was organised at Geneva on 8 May 54 to decide the future of Indo China. At the conference Zhou Enlai emerged as the most clever and skillful diplomat who acted in the best interests of China. the Viet Minh had defeated the French. Yet at the Conference Zhou worked out a deal with France to divide Vietnam at the 17th Parallel, let France rule South Vietnam to the exclusion of USA. Ho Chi Minh didn’t cry about a Chinese ‘Betrayal’. He gathered his forces to defeat yet another power and unified his Nation. Did we learn any lessons?

Mr Nehru trusted the Chinese blindly thanks to poor Intelligence, even ignoring a written warning by Sardar Patel, the Dy PM, and resignation of General Thimayya.

Indian soldiers with tri-colour in KargilIn the Parliament India made much of Aksai Chin. What did we do when Aksai Chin was with us after 1947? Did any Indian even visit Aksai Chin? Or even fly over it to get an aerial view? We learned about the Chinese road years after its construction. Due to the Great Himalayan Range we find it difficult to maintain the people of Ladakh and Kargil. What would be our capability to maintain forces and civilians across the Karakoram Ranges in Aksai Chin? Who has calculated that? MEA or MHA? Has anyone analysed our requirement of Armed Forces to guard Aksai Chin? Is this kept in mind when our diplomats discuss the Border Dispute with China?

As part of Indian disinformation campaign, the Chinese are blamed for ‘aggression’ and ‘betrayal’ in 1962. This is utter rubbish as per all reports of the period; we don’t have to read the report of Henderson Brooks. The War was a result of blunders by the MEA whose inputs were provided by the IB and directions of the PM, ignoring sane advice of the Army.

Even now there is no hype of a ‘Chinese victory in 1962’ as we celebrate our victories of 1971 and others. In fact before the 62 Conflict, it was China which frequently called for talks that Mr Nehru rejected every time. The last such rejection was on 14 November 1962. What other option did China have but to teach the aggressive Indians a lesson? 50 years later do we have the moral courage to publish the truth?

If China wanted war with India, it has had many opportunities in the past. In 1962 itself China called for unilateral ceasefire and withdrew. China has shown no hostile activity in any Indo Pak War. In 1999 they did not support Pakistan’s aggression in Kargil. Economic rivalry, desire for access to the Indian Ocean and desire to dominate areas in the South China Sea cannot be seen as aggression on India.

It is NOT suggested that we give up our National interests to please China as we did in the 50s. We must understand Chinese actions in support of their own National interests and policies. Aggressive policies based on preconceived ideas and deliberate disinformation can be disastrous for the Nation, once again.

Indian Army patrolling the Siachen GlacierOn the other hand Pakistan will continue its hostility against India and fish in troubled waters. It is their cheapest option. Therefore improvement of Governance in all parts of India is essential to defeat Pakistan’s designs. Since this will remain a utopian dream, the Army will have to be prepared to fight terrorism and insurgencies to support the misrule in various States. It would be in National interest if MHA consults the Army before taking major decisions such as location of NSG all over the Country and react to mass SMSs (Info War), but the MHA has many advisors to prevent this.

In other words it is time to either utilise the Armed Forces optimally or do away with them to save precious resources for development of the Nation. For the Generals, it is essential to change with time and to learn to contribute meaningfully both in External Affairs and Internal Development cum Governance. Foundation for this must be laid at the IMA.

» Lt. Gen. K.K. Khanna is a veteran of the Indian Army, now with the Doon University, Dehradun
Israel army tweets Gaza strike live
NEW DELHI: War propaganda entered a whole new dimension on Wednesday night as the Israeli Defence Forces tweeted a strike in Gaza live. International news portals said this was the world's first broadcast of an ongoing military campaign through Twitter.

The IDF flooded online platforms in its efforts to put out its version of the attack. The strike, in which senior Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari was killed, was not only live-tweeted, but also live-blogged on Tumblr, a blogger's platform. There were also regular updates on video-sharing website YouTube, while pictures and posters were shared on image-sharing website Flickr.

Not to be left behind, Al Qassam Brigade, the military wing of Hamas, also put out their version of the story from their Twitter account @AlqassamBrigade.

This is how the operation unfolded through social media websites. Around midnight on Wednesday, India time, the Israeli Defence Forces launched Operation Pillar of Defense with surgical strikes into Gaza. On Twitter, tweets about the Israeli strike on Gaza were accompanied by the hashtag #PillarOfDefense while those about Hamas' attacks on Israelis were tagged #LifeUnderFire and #Israel Under Fire. A hashtag is a clickable tag that is used to view tweets from different sources about a particular subject together.
The army oath
THIS is with reference to Dr Mervyn Husain’s excellent letter on the subject of the army oath (Nov 11). If the arguments put forward by Aslam Beg that he took the oath of allegiance according to the Indian Army Act 1911 are to be accepted, then we are also to assume that in accordance with his interpretation, even after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, he perhaps still owes his loyalty to the British crown, though he had been paid salaries and perks by taxpayers of this country.

What Aslam Beg forgets is that he took the oath on the 1973 Constitution when he assumed command of our army after Zia’s death.

This offensive defence argument exposes the sickening mindset of men like Aslam Beg who have forgotten that unlike the British Indian Army, which was raised to help the colonial Raj in a colony, the Pakistan army belongs to a sovereign state and is there to serve the people of this nation, who are sole masters of their destiny, and all citizens, including paid civil and uniformed servants, have sworn allegiance to uphold the constitution and pledged to work within the confines of law. I say let ‘Heavens fall, but justice be done’ by the Supreme Court, which is the sole competent authority to interpret our constitution and give judgments that are binding on all.

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