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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

From Today's Papers - 02 Jan 2013
India, Pak exchange list of N-facilities, prisoners
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 1
India and Pakistan today exchanged the lists of nuclear installations and facilities and of nationals of each country lodged in the other’s jails. The exchange of list on nuclear facilities was done under an agreement on the prohibition of attack against nuclear installations in keeping with a practice the two countries have relentlessly followed for more than two decades. The lists, exchanged through diplomatic channels simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad, show the installations and facilities covered under the pact, the External Affairs Ministry said here.

The two countries signed the agreement on December 31, 1988 and it came into force on January 27, 1991. It provides that the two countries inform each other of the installations and facilities to be covered under the agreement on January 1 every year.

The pact is one of the best confidence-building measures (CBMs) between the two countries and has withstood the test of time regardless of the state of bilateral relations.

The exchange came four days after India and Pakistan considered a series of nuclear CBMs, including the possibility of Islamabad joining global talks on the Fissile Material Cut off Treaty (FMCT), at the seventh round of expert level talks on the issue between the two countries in New Delhi.

The exchange of list on prisoners was done under the provisions of the agreement on consular access between the two countries. The agreement which was signed on May 21, 2008, provides that a comprehensive list of nationals of each country lodged in others’ jails has to be exchanged twice each year, on January 1 and July 1.
Air Marshal Kulwant Singh Gill is new commandant of National Defence Academy
PUNE: Air Marshal Kulwant Singh Gill took charge as the new commandant of the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla on Tuesday.

The NDA is the only triservices academy of its kind in Asia that offers three-year training in defence and academics before the cadets move on to their respective officers' training academies for another one-year course and get commissioned into the armed forces. It is controlled by the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) and trains more than 2,000 cadets, including those from friendly countries.

Gill was commissioned in the flying branch of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 1977 and has more than 7000 hours of accident-free and incident-free flying experience to his credit. He is also a qualified flying instructor.

In his career spanning 35 years, Gill has had the distinction of commanding various frontline bases of the IAF and also has the distinction of being the contingent commander for the first United Nations mission to Congo.

While commanding the IAF station at Leh, he was instrumental in recommissioning of two airfields. During his command, Air Force Station Leh was declared the 'Pride of Western Air Command'. Gill is a highly decorated officer, having received the Presidential award of Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) in 1990, Yudh Seva Medal in 2005 and Ati Vishisht Seve Medal in 2010. He has also been commended by the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief twice and also by the chiefs of the air and army staff.

Gill replaces Lt Gen Ashok Singh, who had had a brief stint of five months as the NDA commandant prior to being transferred to a new posting. Singh, who was heading one of the Indian army's frontline strike corps, was handpicked by the army chief to head the NDA with a specific mandate of giving a new fillip to the academy following the alleged bribery racket in the Group 'C' recruitments that rocked the NDA in July. This was after the then NDA commandant Lt Gen Jatinder Singh was shifted to the army headquarters to ensure a free and fair investigation in the alleged recruitment scam.

In his short stint, Singh presided over an extensive internal and external audit of the NDA and also introduced some of the key changes in the academy's policies related to punishment, training and allied aspects and sports activity. The outgoing NDA commandant silently carried out with his task and barely made any public statements or interaction with the media.

Taking over from Singh, the new NDA commandant finds the task cut out for himself in terms of maintaining the momentum of reforms and changes introduced by his predecessor at the academy.
Defence modernization funds cut by Rs 10,000 crore; Army operations may be hit
NEW DELHI: The modernization budget of the armed forces has been slashed by around Rs 10,000 crore in a major jolt to them in the New Year. The cut is contrary to defence minister A K Antony's earlier promise of a hike in the defence budget to cater for the threat of the expansive China-Pakistan military nexus.

The finance ministry conveyed the decision for the Rs 10,000 crore cut in the capital acquisitions for the Army, Navy and IAF to the defence ministry, arguing that fiscal adjustment was necessary since the economic situation was grim, said sources.

The move will lead to a major slowdown in the ongoing acquisition projects—ranging from aircraft and helicopters to howitzers and missiles. It also makes it clear that the already much-delayed $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project to acquire 126 fighters will not be inked anytime before March 31.

IAF had been assured an additional Rs 10,000 crore to cater for the first instalment of the MMRCA project—under which final commercial negotiations are underway for French Rafale fighters—if inked within this fiscal.

Antony, during a rare discussion on defence preparedness in Parliament in May, himself had declared he would seek a hike in the Rs 1,93,408 crore defence outlay in the 2012-13 budget due to "new ground realities" and the "changing security scenario" in the backdrop of the China-Pakistan nexus.

But, now the armed forces' hopes have been dashed. As it is, they get much less than what they demand every year. The armed forces, for instance, had sought a defence outlay of Rs 2,39,123 crore this fiscal that would have amounted to 2.35% of the projected GDP for 2012-13, but got only Rs 1,93,408 crore, or 1.9%.

Then, revenue expenditure (day-to-day costs and salaries) in the defence budget continues to far outstrip the capital outlay for new weapons, sensors and platforms. The two stood at Rs 113,829 crore and Rs 79,579 crore, respectively, this fiscal.

"The actual capital acquisitions budget was even less at Rs 67,672 crore. First, the revenue budget (non-salary) was cut. Now, the capital outlay also has been hacked. The forces were on course to spend 67% of the allocated capital outlay by this time. Many projects will be pushed to the next fiscal," said a source.

While Navy and IAF are better placed, the real worry is the "critical operational hollowness" in the 1.13-million Army. The Army had projected a requirement of over Rs 10 lakh crore for the 12th Plan (2012-17) period to acquire new capabilities and plug huge operational gaps in artillery, aviation, air defence, night-fighting, ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) and specialized tank and rifle ammunition.

A crucial project during the 12th Plan is to raise the new mountain strike corps, with two specialized divisions for high-altitude areas, at a cost of well over Rs 60,000 crore. Dedicated for "rapid reaction ground force capability" against China, this corps will have its HQs in Panagarh (West Bengal) and add to the two new infantry divisions already raised at Lekhapani and Missamari (Assam).
Defence forces begin hunt for Tatra truck replacements
NEW DELHI: Against the backdrop of a freeze on procurement of Tatra trucks, the Armed Forces have started looking for alternative vehicles to equip them with their missile systems.

In view of Defence Ministry's decision to put on hold the procurement of Tatra trucks pending the CBI probe into allegations of bribery by former Army Chief Gen V K Singh, several key missile projects of the Army and the Air Force have been held up.

The armed forces are looking at trucks being offered by manufacturers from Russia and Belarus including the Volat trucks being offered by a Belarusian firm, defence sources told PTI here today.

Recently, a meeting under Director General (Acquisition) of the Defence Ministry was held with all stakeholders to discuss the issue, they said.

Due to ban on Tatras, several projects including the procurement of land-based version of supersonic cruise missile BrahMos for the IAF and the Army remained stalled along with projects to supply Pinaka missile regiments to the land forces.

If the trucks offered by these firms are accepted, they would be subjected to field trials by the forces and integrated with the missile systems to be put on them.

More than 7,000 Tatra trucks are in service with the armed forces and after the controversy came to light, the Services are also facing issues with their maintenance and repair.

In March 2012, Gen V K Singh had levelled allegations that he was offered a Rs 14 crore bribe by a retired Lt Gen to clear a file related to the procurement of more than 600 Tatra trucks.

After the allegations, Defence Minister A K Antony ordered a CBI probe into it to verify the charges levelled by the former chief and procurement of Tatras was put on hold.
Majority of Indian Army Cyber Breaches from Pen Drives and PowerPoint
Though Chinese and Pakistani hackers are a constant threat to India’s sensitive military information, restricting the use of pendrives and PowerPoint presentations is the key to preventing the cyber invasion against India according to Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh.

Analysis of Indian cyber breaches have shown that over 70 percent have been caused by the use of USB Pen drives. General Singh has also ordered that all sensitive war plan meetings be done paperless and that PowerPoint use is to be restricted.

The Indian military believes that doing this along with the standing practice of limiting military information leaked to social media sites will help keep the cyber invasion in check.

Last year the Indian army ordered all of its troops to remove their pictures and any military affiliation from social networking sites. This is a very good move, and one that I wish the United States would do with our troops. Social Engineering hackers are scanning these sites looking for military personal to target.

I have seen military personal post way too much military identifying information on their personal sites. This even includes members of our military cyber teams. And terrorist groups like the Taliban have been known to pose as attractive woman on social media sites to try to lure information out of allied soldiers.

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