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Thursday, 20 December 2012

From Today's Papers - 20 Dec 2012
ITBP, BSF, NSG get new chiefs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 19
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Border Security Force (BSF) and the National Security Guard (NSG) got their new Director Generals today.

Ajay Chadha, Special Secretary (Internal Security) of the Ministry of Home Affairs, has been appointed the Director General of the ITBP. He took charge of the force today. Arvind Ranjan, Special Director General of the BSF, has been appointed Director General of the NSG.

Subhash Joshi, Director General of the NSG, was appointed the Director General of the the BSF. He also took charge today. Joshi is a 1976-batch officer of the Indian Police Service of the Uttar Pradesh Cadre. He was allotted the Uttarakhand Cadre in 2000.
Bill to expand definition of terror act introduced in Rajya Sabha

New Delhi, December 19
A Bill seeking to expand the definition of "terrorist act" to include offences that threaten the country's economic security was introduced in the Rajya Sabha today.

Moving the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill for consideration, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said: "The proposed amendments are carried to bring more clarity to the existing legal regime and remove deficiencies identified in its implementation by central and state intelligence and investigating agencies."

The amendments are necessary as India has made commitment as a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a 34-member global body, which chalks out policies to counter financial frauds, he said.

Shinde said the Bill, already passed in the Lok Sabha, has taken into account suggestions of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and the observation of state governments.

"Out of 14 recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, 10 have been adopted without any changes," he said.

Highlighting the salient features of the Bill, the minister said the proposed amendments aim to enhance from two years to five years the period for which an association involved in terrorist acts, including terror financing, will be declared unlawful.

Section 15 of the Bill has been amended to expand the definition of terrorist act to include acts that that involve detention, abduction, threats to kill or injure, or other actions so as to compel an international or inter-governmental organisation to comply with some demand. — PTI
Pak strategy in Afghanistan
Time for hard decisions
by G. Parthasarathy

ON December 6, Asadullah Khalid, Head of Afghanistan’s intelligence set-up, the National Directorate of Security, was seriously injured in a bomb attack by a Taliban suicide bomber posing as a peace envoy. President Karzai announced the next day that the suicide bomber had come from Pakistan. While not directly naming the ISI, President Karzai described the suicide bombing as a “very sophisticated and complicated act by a professional intelligence service”.

Asadullah Khalid is one of President Karzai’s closest aides and has held crucial gubernatorial appointments in Ghazni and Kandahar. He had escaped Taliban assassination attempts in 2007 and 2011. He was playing a crucial role in attempts to wean away Pashtun tribal support from the Taliban, as the American “end game” in Afghanistan picks up momentum. Asadullah Khalid is seen as a dangerous adversary in Pakistan. Unlike his Tajik predecessor, Amrollah Saleh, against whom the ISI could whip up Pashtun nationalistic sentiments, he is a blue-blooded Pashtun, who can better deal with Pakistani machinations, which seek to unite Pashtuns under the tutelage of the Mullah Omar-led Quetta Shura and their protégés in the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network.

In its quest for “strategic depth,” the Pakistan military establishment has based its entire political strategy on pretending to champion the cause of Pashtuns, who constitute 40 per cent of Afghanistan’s population, with the Tajiks constituting 33 per cent of the population and the Shia Hazaras and Uzbeks comprising 11 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively. Interestingly, the language which unites Afghanistan is not Pashtu, which is spoken by 35 per cent of the population and almost exclusively by Pashtuns, but Dari, spoken by 50 per cent of the country’s people. Within the Pashtuns, the ruling class has predominantly been drawn from the landowning Durrani clan. Apart from Nur Mohammed Tarraki and his Soviet-backed successors, the only non-Durrani leader of Afghanistan from the influential Ghilzai clan was Mullah Omar. Two-thirds of all Pashtuns belong to the Durrani-Ghilzai confederacy. The Taliban, though led by a Ghilzai, have drawn in a large number of Durrani fighters. In addition, they enjoy the backing of the Haqqani network, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, operating out of the tribal belt of Pakistan in North Waziristan. The Haqqani network also exercises predominant control over the bordering Afghan provinces Khost — Paktia and Paktika.

Pakistan’s strategy is to pretend that it supports an “Afghan-led” process of national reconciliation while ensuring that the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network, which has strong ties with Al-Qaeda and international Islamist causes, negotiate from a position of strength, so that Southern Afghanistan initially, and thereafter the entire Pashtun belt, come under the control of its “strategic assets”. This would be a prelude to the Taliban obtaining a dominant role across the entire country. It is primarily in pursuit of this objective that the senior-most Taliban leader from the Durrani tribe, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, has been incarcerated and kept incommunicado in Pakistan. Mullah Baradar, like Karzai, hails from the Popalzai tribe of Durrani Pashtuns and was known to be close to and in touch with President Karzai. While championing the cause of Pashtuns, Pakistan will not permit any Pashtun leader to undermine its larger ambitions.

Pakistan has its own Achilles’ heel. Firstly, no Pashtun worth his salt recognises the Durand Line. Moreover, after the Pakistan army’s assault on the Lal Masjid in 2007, the Tehriq-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has made common cause with other jihadi outfits in Pakistan to challenge the writ of the Pakistan army and the Pakistan state. Unable to directly take on the TTP, the Pakistan army is fomenting tribal animosities between the Mehsud and Waziri tribes in South Waziristan. It is also clear that should a government led by either Imran Khan’s Tehriq-e-Insaf or Nawaz Sharif’s PML (N) assume office after the 2013 elections in Pakistan, one can write off any prospect of the Pakistan army taking action whatsoever against the Haqqani network or other Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, as the American drawdown in Afghanistan proceeds.

Chinese officials were among the only non-Muslims to meet Mullah Omar in Kandahar in the 1990s, promising him diplomatic recognition and telecom projects. China has maintained contacts with the Quetta Shura in the aftermath of Operation Enduring Freedom. These contacts, with Pakistani facilitation, have reportedly been increasing. Thus, while the Chinese may have misgivings and concerns about a possible return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan, they appear to believe that their interests in Afghanistan would be protected by Pakistan.

In these circumstances, there are now concerns that if not properly equipped, motivated and backed, the Afghan National Army (ANA) could well lose control of the entire Pashtun belt in the country. This could have serious consequences for the very unity of Afghanistan. It is significant that influential Afghan leaders like Mohammed Atta and Ismail Khan are preparing the ground to be able to defend areas they control, in the event of the ANA being unable to effectively deal with the Taliban challenge. There should also be no doubt that the primary objective of the Taliban would be to seize control of Kandahar because of its importance in Pashtun minds as the traditional and spiritual capital of the country. There would also be efforts by the Taliban to block the line of communications from Khyber to Jalalabad. India would have to work closely with foreign partners, including the US, its NATO allies, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia to ensure that the international community remains on course to back the elected government in Afghanistan, economically and militarily.

While India has already provided Afghanistan with substantial economic assistance and is preparing the ground for large-scale investments in areas like iron ore, coal, steel, copper and gold, the military cooperation envisaged in its strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan remains relatively modest. Indian military analysts, with expertise on Afghanistan’s armed forces, note that in order to ensure that the ANA can stand up to challenges from across the Durand Line, India should readily supply 105 mm Mountain Artillery, armoured personnel carriers, Vijayanta Tanks, apart from transportation, demining and communications equipment. It remains to be seen whether an establishment wedded to its “Aman Ki Asha” illusions will act decisively on major security challenges emerging in our neighbourhood. Equally importantly, India and its partner-states need to recognise that given Pashtun sentiments and historic realities, we should agree that the Durand Line is a “disputed boundary” between Pakistan and Afghanistan, while expressing the hope that the dispute will be resolved peacefully, keeping in view the Pashtun sentiments.
Army to get new assault rifles, junk INSAS
NEW DELHI: The Army is getting ready to dump its indigenous INSAS rifles, which have suffered from glitches since their induction in 1994-95, in favour of new-generation assault rifles with interchangeable barrels for conventional warfare and counter-insurgency operations.

The humble foot-soldiers, often forgotten in the race to buy tanks, submarines and fighters, are also slated to get new close-quarter battle (CBQ) carbines, light machine guns (LMGs), specialized sniper rifles and anti-material "bunker-bursting" rifles.

However, Army chief General Bikram Singh has identified the acquisition of the new assault rifles for the 356 infantry battalions and some other "fighting and support arms" in the 1.13-million force as a "Priority-I" project, say sources.

Defence minister AK Antony told Rajya the Sabha on Wednesday that the project to replace the 5.56mm INSAS rifles was underway since "technological development has created more superior rifles over the years".

Sources say five foreign firms — Colt, Beretta, Sig Sauer, Ceska and Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) — are in the running to partner the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) in bagging the huge project that would eventually cost over Rs 10,000 crore.

Under it, initially 65,000 rifles will be bought directly from the selected foreign vendor, for an estimated Rs 4,850 crore, to equip the 120 infantry battalions deployed on the western and eastern fronts.

The OFB will subsequently produce over 113,000 rifles after getting transfer of technology (ToT) from the vendor. The project could become even bigger if the eight-lakh-strong paramilitary forces also induct these rifles.

"Technical evaluation of bids submitted by the five firms is over. The field evaluation trials will begin in early-2013. The plan is to begin inducting the new rifles by mid-2014," said a source.

The new rifles, weighing around 3.5-kg, will come with two barrels, apart from night-vision devices, laser designators, detachable under-barrel grenade launchers and the like.

The primary 5.56x45mm barrel will be for conventional warfare. The secondary 7.62x39mm one will be used for counter-insurgency operations due to "their higher rate of fire".

INSAS (Indian small arms system) rifles, weighing over 4.25-kg and with an effective range of just 450-metre, had replaced the earlier cumbersome 7.62mm self-loading rifles but they too have now become virtually obsolete. The Army had also been forced to import one lakh AK-47s, apart from using the ones seized in encounters, for counter-insurgency operations in J&K and the north-east.

The other procurement project already underway involves an initial purchase of 44,000 CQB carbines for around Rs 3,200 crore, with subsequent production of another 1,20,000 by OFB under ToT. "User trials of Beretta, Colt, Sig Sauer and IWI carbines are over now. The induction should begin by early-2014," said the source.

The process for LMGs and bipod sniper rifles will also kick off soon. The Army wants over 16,000 7.62x51mm LMGs and 3,500 sniper rifles, both with an effective 1-km range, for its infantry battalions to begin with. "The aim is to get light-weight weapons with more lethality and range," added the source.
US Cong panel seeks report on defence ties with India
WASHINGTON: Agreeing to a USD 633.3 billion defence authorisation bill for the fiscal 2013, a conference committee of the US Congress has sought from the authorities a "review and report" regarding defence ties with India.

The National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) "requires a review and report regarding the bilateral defense trade relationship with India," the Senate Armed Services Committee said in a statement after a conference between the House of Representatives and Senate as part of their efforts to sort out their differences on the issue.

NDAA-2013 would now be formally passed by the two chambers of the Congress before heading to the White House for US President Barack Obama's signature. In 2011, the Congress had sought a report from Department of Defence on India-US Security Cooperation.

The NDAA, among other things, reauthorises the use of funds to support the reintegration of insurgent fighters back into Afghan society; and provides USD 200 million for the Commanders' Emergency Response Programme (CERP) to enable military commanders to fund small-scale humanitarian projects that help secure the support of the Afghan people.

It also provides USD 350 million for the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund to support infrastructure projects that are high-priority for the civil-military campaign, particularly the electrification of the Kandahar area. It enhances the capability of the US Armed Forces to support the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) and Afghan Local Police as the lead responsibility for security throughout Afghanistan transitions to the ANSF.

The NDAA also fully funds the USD 5.7 billion requested for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund to build the capacity of the Afghan Army and Police so that those forces can transition to taking the security lead throughout Afghanistan by 2014.
Upgraded HAL Cheetal Helicopters for Indian Army
The Indian Army is set to get 22 HAL Cheetal utility helicopters after defence officials approved purchase plans on 18 December 2012.

The HAL Cheetal is an upgraded version of the HAL Cheetah, itself a licence-built version of the Aerospatiale SA 316B Lama, originally a French design.

The HAL Cheetal boasts the Turbomeca TM333-2M2 turboshaft engine, as also used in the HAL Dhruv helicopter. Lighter than its predecessor, this engine delivers better fuel consumption rates and gives this helicopter additional endurance, range and payload-carrying abilities.
Upgraded HAL Cheetal

With these extra capabilities, the Cheetal is optimised to operate in India's warm climate and especially in high-altitude areas where the air's thinner and overall performance would otherwise be affected. Also featured in the upgraded HAL Cheetals are advanced new cockpit systems.

According to manufacturer HAL, the Cheetah - on which the Cheetal is based - boasts a simple but rugged construction, is highly agile and versatile and can undertake a number of specialised roles under its ‘utility' umbrella, including surveillance, search and rescue and crop-spraying. It can accommodate up to five Indian Army service personnel, has a maximum speed of 210 kilometres per hour and a range of 560 kilometres.
Indian Army Cheetal Helicopters

The Indian Army Cheetal helicopters will be obtained as stop-gap measures, pending the arrival of its LUH (Light Utility Helicopters) in years ahead. No less than 197 Light Utility Helicopters are ultimately set to enter Indian Armed Forces' service, with the Army getting the lion's share of 133. Two helicopter manufacturers are presently involved in the Light Utility Helicopter competition: Eurocopter and Russia's Kamov.

The Indian Army's present-day helicopter fleet consists of a mixture of indigenous and licence-built designs. Indian-origin HAL Dhruvs serve in the attack and utility roles, while licence-built HAL Chetaks and Cheetahs carry out utility missions and Russian Mil-17V Hips are its key transporters. These are set to be supplemented by HAL Light Combat Helicopters and HAL Rudra Attack Helicopters in coming months.

In less positive news, it emerged earlier this month that there have been no less than 54 Indian military aircraft and helicopter crashes recorded since 2009: a pretty unfavourable record. More recently, it's been reported that anti-collision systems will now be a priority in all future Indian aircraft acquisitions.

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