Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Friday, 31 May 2013

From Today's Papers - 31 May 2013
Women ITBP officer charged with impropriety
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, May 30
In an unusual case, a woman officer from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) who claims to have been assaulted by jawans during deployment overseas on a United Nations peacekeeping mission, is herself being tried by a general force court (GFC) on several charges of professional impropriety.

The officer, of the rank of inspector, is facing six charges pertaining to misappropriation of rations, violation of good order and breach of trust under various provisions of the ITPB Act, ITBP sources said

The GFC, the ITBP’s equivalent of a military general court martial, began at the force’s Ramgarh camp near here, a few days ago and is being presided over by Commandant Parwinder Singh.

The alleged acts of assault and misappropriation took place in August 2011 in Congo. The ITBP has been deploying a company strong contingent in Congo since 2005, where the force personnel are engaged in different security related operations as well as humanitarian aid. The sixth batch of ITBP personnel had embarked to Congo in 2012.

Sources said in her plea to jurisdiction raised before the court, the officer has questioned the legality of the trial, contending that her case was earlier disposed off summarily and that proceedings cannot be initiated against her afresh.

She has also contended that she is being victimised and the entire episode is an attempt to cover up the incident at Congo. She has pointed out that contrary to Supreme Court directives, no woman officer was present during the inquiry on her complaint of her being harassed.

Sources said that the UN authorities in Congo had also conducted its own inquiry into the said incident of the officer being assaulted, but the findings of the inquiry are not known.
Chinese help to Lanka in space technology worries India
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, May 30
In a move that has caused considerable disquiet in India, China has agreed to assist Sri Lanka in developing capabilities in satellite communication, space technology and maritime industry.

The agreement, which reflects an increasing Chinese involvement in Sri Lanka’s strategic sectors, was reached during the just-concluded visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to China.

Beijing’s move, seen in strategic circles as part of its “String of Pearls” strategy to surround India, has obviously set alarm bells ringing in New Delhi. Officials said they were closely following the increasing cooperation between China and Sri Lanka. Though the two countries have kept the details of the space technology agreement between them under wraps, it is understood that a Sri Lankan firm is likely to launch its first communication satellite with Chinese help in 2015.

China, which has already funded a port and an airport in Sri Lanka’s strategic Hambantota district, is also said to be considering starting an industrial zone in the area. Rajapaksa is also believed to have invited the Chinese to develop the port of Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister GL Peiris dismissed any concerns in New Delhi arising from the deepening ties between his country and Beijing. The relationship between China and Sri Lanka was not at the expanse of any other country, he said.
India and China Tackle Border Dispute

NEW DELHI — India and China are devising a mechanism to resolve their decades-old boundary dispute, which brought the two countries into brief combat in 1962.

New Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made India the first country he visited after becoming premier. He discussed the boundary dispute with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during talks May 19, and the issue also was deliberated during delegation-level talks here May 20, said an Indian Ministry of External Affairs official.

Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony and National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon will visit Beijing in the next two months to develop a method to help resolve the boundary dispute, said a source in the Ministry of External Affairs.

Last month, troops from the two countries came face to face in the northern region of Ladakh when Chinese troops entered nearly 10 kilometers inside Indian territory across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is the boundary between the two countries. The incident threatened to increase tensions, and opposition parties here asked the ruling government to take a tough line against the Chinese intrusion.

The dispute involves the longest contested boundary in the world. China claims 92,000 square kilometers of Indian territory. The border between India and China is defined by the 4,056-kilometer LAC, which is marked neither on the ground nor on mutually accepted maps. Efforts to have a recognized LAC since the mid-1980s have made little headway.

While India is preparing for possible conflict with China, analysts here said there is little likelihood of war in the near future.

“India and China are both strategically unprepared for war. The two Asian giants are presently on the catch-up curve from developing to developed countries. While they are simultaneously modernizing the militaries, the overall national strategies appear to be to maintain the status quo till comprehensive national power reaches a level where surplus can be invested in war making. This stage may be decades away,” said Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier general and defense analyst.

Indian Defence Ministry officials admit that they still have to prepare to face China as settlement of the boundary dispute could take considerable time.

“At present, it suits China’s interests to put off a solution,” said Gurmeet Kanwal, retired Indian Army brigadier general and defense analyst.

But Rup Narayan Das, senior fellow, Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, insists that resolution of the boundary dispute is in the interest of both countries.

“Now it seems both countries are serious to solve the border issue sooner than later. The problem is to hammer out a mutually acceptable solution, which involves some give-and-take. An impediment to the border problem is the strong nationalism in both the countries. We in India need a political consensus and strong political will to solve the border problem,” Das said.

Lora Saalman, associate, Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, Beijing, said China insists the core issues need to be addressed.

“Putting strategic issues aside to focus only on economic ties means that such flare-ups will continue to erupt. If the border defense cooperation agreement or some other mechanism is successful in actually addressing the real strategic issues that both face, rather than simply papering them over, then the two sides have a good chance of actually embarking upon a more steady and predictable path of engagement,” Saalman said.

Swaran Singh, professor for diplomacy and disarmament, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the issue might fade in importance over time.

“Forty-three years of border negotiations have ensured peace and tranquility. Given the enormous complex nature of geography, history and politics of their border dispute, it is not likely to be solved; it will gradually become less interesting and exciting for both sides,” Singh said.

In 2005, India and China elevated their ties to a strategic level but Chinese intrusions increased in the last three years, although they have been downplayed at the diplomatic front, an MoD official said.

The summit-level talks focused on enhancing economic cooperation in addition to resolving outstanding issues, the most important of which is the boundary dispute.
The Unfulfilled Promise of Indonesia-India Defense Ties
Despite being Indian Ocean littoral neighbors separated by a mere 80 nautical miles of water, the defense relationship between India and Indonesia is still underdeveloped.

Yet, both share mutual interests, having large Muslim populations, sharing common democratic values, and equally priding themselves as non-aligned countries. These factors should warrant closer cooperation in many areas including defense cooperation. But they seem mired in mutual neglect.

Indonesia’s ‘mental map’

The fact is interstate relations depend less on geographical proximity of countries than mental maps, which are defined by Alan Hendrikson as “an ordered but continually adapting structure of the mind to understand (its) large-scale geographical environment.” In Indonesian perception, the Indian Ocean and India have remained a “black hole” in its mental map for most of its diplomatic and strategic history for two critical reasons.

Firstly, Indonesia has mainly looked to the Pacific Ocean, particularly toward America and Northeast Asia, for its security and economic raison d’etre. Except for a brief period in the 1950s, Indonesia was noticeably reluctant to see India as either its security provider or economic benefactor. Secondly, there were suspicions about India’s close relationship with the erstwhile Soviet Union, and its alleged hegemonic ambitions in the Indian Ocean. These reasons discouraged Indonesia from looking at India as its potential strategic partner.

Shortly after Indonesia declared independence in 1945, India shone brightly in its mental map, with Indonesia viewing Delhi as a “distant-cousin” and fellow fighter against colonialism. Precisely for this reason, Indonesia’s President Sukarno called for both nations to “intensify the cordial relations” that had existed “for more than 1,000 years” as crystallized in the Treaty of Friendship of March 1951. This path-breaking treaty established the framework for bilateral cooperation in various fields, including defense.

Past relations

Three separate security agreements were concluded between their air forces, navies, and armies in 1956, 1958, and 1960, respectively. The air force bilateral agreement envisaged exchange and training of pilots and the sale, loan, and exchange of aircraft spares. The naval agreement provided for cross attachment of naval officers, training exercises, and bilateral visits. Following these agreements, India provided military assistance to Indonesia’s counterinsurgency campaign in the 1950s and both countries conducted their first joint naval exercises in July 1960.

Relations however gradually soured following the 1962 Sino-Indian War until the end of Sukarno’s administration. Jakarta put its stake on Beijing to reciprocate China’s support for Indonesia’s Confrontation against the newly-formed Malaysian Federation and its British Commonwealth backers. Suharto’s assumption of power in 1966 also did little to mend relations.

Instead, relations became frostier when India and the then Soviet Union entered into a Friendship and Cooperation Treaty in 1971 during the war with Pakistan over Bangladesh. Relations between India and Indonesia remained distant for the next two decades.

Defense cooperation redux

Suharto’s ouster from power in 1998 brought democracy and a more nuanced foreign policy to Indonesia. The post-Suharto period saw a rejuvenated foreign policy bent on cultivating cordial ties with all countries, particularly major regional powers like India which had embarked on a Look East policy by then. The 2005 India-Indonesia Strategic Partnership Agreement was a milestone in Indo-Indonesian bilateral relations. It is not only a resurrection of defense cooperation established during the Sukarno years, it also signaled a positive turn in Jakarta’s perceptions of New Delhi.

In a reprise of defense cooperation during the Sukarno era, Indonesia has resumed defence engagement with India across all branches of the armed forces. The maritime security cooperation is perhaps the most significant, as both countries share a common boundary as littorals of the Indian Ocean. Such cooperation includes coordinated patrols, joint bilateral or multilateral exercises, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Cooperation between the air forces is also being discussed, with the recent progress including India’s support and training for the Indonesian Air Force’s Sukhoi fighter jets and pilots. Army-to-army cooperation primarily revolves around counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency. For example, in March 2012, Indian and Indonesian armies conducted their first-ever joint training exercise codenamed “Garuda Shakti” at the Indian Army’s elite Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) in Mizoram.

What is new in the agreement is defense science and technology cooperation. New Delhi’s maturing defense technology and industry offers an attractive opportunity for Jakarta to develop its defense self-reliance.

However, New Delhi seems reluctant to enter into a technology transfer scheme with Indonesia, as evidenced by Jakarta’s failure to procure the Brahmos supersonic missiles.

Convergence of mental maps

Reinvigorating bilateral defense cooperation would require Indonesia to seek a convergence of its mental map with India by improving the awareness of its Indian Ocean neighborhood in the same way it regards the Pacific. This could start with practical security initiatives, such as cooperation in maritime domain awareness, joint or coordinated patrols and exercises for sea lanes security, maritime search and rescue, as well as defense technology and industry. Sea lanes security is paramount for Indonesia’s Indian Ocean maritime trade as its natural resources and mineral exports to India grow.

Notwithstanding the revival of defense cooperation, both countries would need to be realistic about the challenges they face. The Pacific Ocean will remain dominant in Indonesia’s mental map, as China is now Jakarta’s largest trading partner and investor. Indonesia’s “a thousand friends and zero enemies” diplomacy to seek multiple strategic and comprehensive partnerships also would not accord India a privileged status as compared to other countries.

But at least New Delhi is an alternative partner for Jakarta in its geopolitical juggling act of “dynamic equilibrium” by engaging all the major powers to keep them mutually in check.
Why China's Growing Military Should Concern India

hina’s latest white paper on defence, a once-in-two-year exercise, was issued on April 16. It clearly underscores the importance of the People’s Liberation Army and its pivotal role in the economic development and growth of China. Its military rise is of concern for India, given its proximity to Pakistan, from where India has faced continuous threats of terrorism and military misadventures. The strategic relationship with Pakistan is evident from the number of joint exercises and training carried out in 2011-12 and economic investments.

The white paper emphasises China’s peaceful rise and its intent to “never seek hegemony... But we will surely counterattack if attacked”. China now sees itself as a world power that has arrived and it will likely intrude, even if it is not attacked, based on perceived threat or slight. The report says, “China’s security and development are closely connected with the peace and prosperity of the world as a whole.” This seems at times to be at odds with its sense of insecurity and the challenges that the report highlights in order to justify its massive military build-up.

The paper says: “It is a strategic task… to build a strong national defense and powerful armed forces which are commensurate with China’s international standing and meet the need of its security and development interests.” China intends to be a predominant military power in the region, apart from an economic power, which it already is, and will not hesitate to use its armed forces to protect its development interests.

In doing the latter, China is following the footsteps of the United States, which has often used its military ostensibly to promote democracy or to remove dictators; but, more often than not, it has been to protect its strategic economic interests. China will be no different, and won’t have pretensions of protecting democracy.

The report says, “Security risks to China’s overseas interests are on the increase.” China’s engagements in countries like Sudan, Libya, Pakistan and Myanmar, and the Indian Ocean, have increased the risks its overseas assets face, and are driven by economic interests in mineral and natural resources and trade routes. Earlier this year, Pakistan transferred the operational control of the strategically located Gwadar port to China.

It is clear that China’s military spend will continue to rise as it develops its strategic capabilities and firepower, both in terms of conventional warfare and information technology for cyber-espionage and cyber-warfare. Its perceived fears are of US hegemony in Asia, and threats to its territorial integrity, particularly from Taiwan and Japan. India has reasons to be concerned given the contentious border issue.

The white papers of 2010 and 2012, (this author has not read the previous papers) make it clear that China’s political and military leadership are well integrated, although the 2012 paper does not mention the Chinese Communist Party (the 2010 paper established the Party’s supremacy in the command structure).

In contrast, India lacks a strategic direction. Its military might has not been used to further its economic interests, and there is no evidence of such thinking among the political class. In fact, there have been signs of growing tension between the military leadership and the political class, particularly during the tenure of VK Singh as the army chief, and, more recently, the controversial non-defence helicopter deal involving former Air Force chief SP Tyagi.

A Domestic Defence Industry
Asia has become one of the largest defence markets in the world. India has the second largest number of active military personnel after China, a defence budget of nearly $50 billion, and is the world’s largest importer of defence equipment. For any large military equipment manufacturer and exporter, India is an important market and will remain so.

The process of procuring military equipment, however, has been a very long one, and often mired in controversies. Allegations of corruption have often stalled decision making and harmed the strategic interests of India as reputed global vendors have been blacklisted. India has also failed to develop a domestic supply base and Russia has remained its primary source of defence supplies. Although defence procurement is being opened up for the private sector, it is painfully slow. This, while China’s dependence on foreign sources has reduced.

The Economist says, “The defence industrial sector, dominated by the sprawling Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), remains stuck in state control and the country’s protectionist past. According to a recent defence-ministry audit, only 29 percent of the products developed by the DRDO in the past 17 years have entered service with the armed forces. The organisation is a byword for late-arriving and expensive flops.”
The Difference Between the Army and the Marine Corps: To Huey, or Not to Huey
The Army and Army National Guard announce the retirement of the UH-1 Iroquois, known to one and all as the Huey – and for the distinctive whoop-whoop-whoop of its two-bladed rotor. “It was our lives. It was our friend,” Army Guard Brigadier General Alberto Jimenez, the Army Guard’s senior aviator, said that day. “It was the aircraft that took us in and out of Vietnam, and it was also the aircraft that saved many countless lives as we rushed the wounded and the sick out of the battlefield.”

Apr. 27, 2011: Well, maybe there were still a few left flying. Four UH-1 Hueys left their U.S. Army post in Germany for the last time. “It would take a hell of a beating and keep flying,” retired Army colonel, Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Bruce Crandall said that day. “All you needed was enough duct tape to cover the holes.”

Aug. 4, 2011: Not quite finished. Aviators at Fort Polk, La., announced their final Huey flight. “This was a good way to see the Huey in action one more time,” said Army Brigadier General Clarence Chinn. “While the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk is moving ahead in upgrading our aviation fleet, we still want to respectfully recognize the end of the Huey era.”

May 28, 2013: The Pentagon announces the Marines are buying 15 new UH-1Y Hueys.
ASI to get rid of army eyesores at Red Fort
NEW DELHI: In the months to come, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is set to raze the remaining ugly, modern structures erected by the Indian Army inside Red Fort. The project, an integral part of the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP), was divided in phases and work on Phase I was completed earlier this year. While the original plan was in three phases, officials hope that they will raze the remaining identified structures in Phase II itself.

A total of approximately 300 such structures were identified for demolition, of which over 80 were razed in Phase I that lasted about six months. Under Phase II, smaller structures like cow sheds, pillars, toilets etc built during the six decades the military camped on the fort grounds too will be torn down. "We're in the process of identifying and marking post-independence structures that have no historical value. This is likely to be completed in a few weeks,'' an official said. But with Independence Day drawing closer when Red Fort comes under tight security for the PM's address, sources said, Phase II work would probably begin only after August 15.

"The structures that need to be razed have no historical value and are an eyesore for tourists. They obstruct a clear view of the monuments,'' the source said. The Phase II focus will be more towards the north side of the fort grounds, while Phase I was mainly towards south.

Unlike some years back, when structures like toilets, tin sheds and hutments were razed, this time around ASI has zeroed in on bigger structures like two-storey cottages and large staff quarters which housed the Army during their years inside the Fort. The cottages have been lying empty since the Army moved out in 2003 and are falling apart.

There are a hundred such cottages which will be razed. While the Army had occupied about 70% of the fort grounds during their tenure, most cottages are located close to each other. A few Army buildings are also being used by CISF guards who protect the fort.
Senior Army general shunted after charges of irregularity
NEW DELHI: The Army has moved out the adjutant general, one of its senior-most officers in the headquarters, prematurely in the wake of serious allegations against various departments under him.

A senior Army officer dealing with the media said adjutant general Lt Gen JP Mehra was appointed the deputy chief of Army staff (DCAS) because the incumbent retired on April 30.

However, TOI has learnt that Lt Gen Mehra's abrupt transfer out of the AG's post, little less than one-and-a-half years after he took over as AG, came as a result of allegations of irregularities in departments under him. An MoD source said the ministry top brass was briefed by the Army leadership about the alleged irregularities, and sought its approval for moving him out.

The Army headquarters insists that there is no inquiry against Lt Gen Mehra, nor allegations specifically against him. The adjutant general is similar to the HR head of a company.

Sources said the transfer was prompted by serious allegations of misappropriations in the Army Welfare Housing Organization (AWHO), Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) etc. Internal inquiries have found serious problems with the way the schemes were implemented, and have indicated the possibility of massive irregularities.

AWHO projects, for providing houses to military personnel, have been delayed around the country and in many cases, serious financial misappropriation allegations have surfaced. The AWHO irregularities have the potential to affect the housing dreams of hundreds of military officers, ordinary soldiers and retired personnel.

Allegations in AWHO include deliberate efforts to delay construction of houses, and in many cities, tying up with private builders to sell their houses to Army personnel. There are also allegations about wrongdoings in the purchase of land for AWHO projects.

ECHS is a health scheme that provides access to retired military personnel and their families to some of the finest private hospitals of the country. Implementation of the scheme was marked by serious questions of propriety, sources said.

AWHO and ECHS are among the departments under the command of the adjutant general.

The Army's efforts to play down the allegations reflect the eagerness of Army chief Gen Bikram Singh not to attract unwanted and negative attention to his service, after the tumultuous tenure of his predecessor Gen V K Singh. And he is quietly trying to clean up various wings of the Army.

Lt Gen Mehra was appointed AG by the former Army chief, and was counted among Gen VK Singh's close aides.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

From Today's Papers - 30 May 2013
Court issues contempt notice to Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Indian Army chief on former Lt. General Tejinder Singh's contempt plea alleging that no action was taken against former army chief General V.K. Singh and four others for defamation.

The petitioner said the army failed to comply with the court's earlier order for taking disciplinary action against the former army chief and others for exceeding their jurisdiction to defame Lt. General Tejinder Singh.

Justice G.S. Sistani issued contempt notice to Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh and also to former defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma for their failure to initiate disciplinary action against former army chief General (retd) V.K. Singh and four others who had "exceeded their jurisdiction and defamed" Lt. General (retd) Tejinder Singh.
The court asked them to file their response by September 9.

Lt. General (retd) Tejinder Singh moved the court saying that Justice Mukta Gupta, in the order passed on May 24 last year, had said that disciplinary action "can be taken" against the former army chief and four other officers.

The court in its order had earlier refused to direct the government to withdraw the March 5, 2012 press release in which former army chief General V.K. Singh accused Lt. Gen. (retd) Tejinder Singh of offering him a bribe.

It, however, noted that the then army chief and four other officers exceeded their jurisdiction and defamed Lt. Gen. (retd) Tejinder Singh and, thus, disciplinary action could be taken against them by the disciplinary authority.

The petitioner sought initiation of criminal or civil proceedings against Defence Minister A.K. Antony, the army chief and the former defence secretary, for not complying with the court's earlier order.

He said several representations were made to the defence ministry for initiating disciplinary action against the five people named in his original complaint.

"Instead of starting disciplinary proceedings by initiating a Court of Inquiry, the army headquarters claims to have conducted a so-called investigation in the matter which has no legal sanctity in law. In the present case, the said procedure set by law has been given a complete go by, making a mockery of law and fair play," said the petitioner.

Lt. Gen. (retd) Tejinder Singh had earlier approached the court after the army chief issued a release that said he was offered Rs.14 crore in bribe to clear a tranche of 600 "sub-standard" vehicles for the army.

He moved the court seeking withdrawal of the press release that levelled "serious allegation" against him.

Lt. Gen. (retd) Tejinder Singh moved the court seeking initiation of disciplinary legal action against General (retd) V.K. Singh, Vice Chief of Army Staff S.K. Singh, Director General Military Intelligence Lt. Gen. B.S. Thakur, Additional Director General of Public Information Major General S.L. Narasimhan and Lt. Col. Hitten Sawhney.
More copters, UAVs to take on Maoists
Technical inputs to form backbone of revised strategy against the Red rebels
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Technical inputs will form the backbone of a revised anti-Maoist strategy and will be boosted by doubling the existing helicopter fleet, adding more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and additional vehicles protected against mines.

The IAF has been asked to detail an additional unit. “The IAF will send the latest Mi-17 V5 helicopters,” IAF Chief Air Chief Marshall NAK Browne said today. These have night flying ability, better radars, latest avionics and have weapon pods underneath. “The rules of engagement will not change”, the IAF Chief said, meaning IAF pilots will not use the onboard guns unless firing in self-defence.

The new unit of copters, some 6-7 of them, will be based at Nagpur and will augment the existing fleet that is spread across Ranchi, Raipur and Jagdalpur. At present some 6-7 copters, flown by IAF are available for forces on anti-Maoist duties. The new additions will double that helicopter-lift effort. In Maoist-dominated area, dense forests means there are no roads, but copters allow faster insertion of troops who are air-dropped on specified locations. The Mi-17 can carry some 25 men in one go.

‘There is no shortage of copters,” The IAF Chief said adding “Naxal operations will need a greater technical inputs to get information of Maoists.

Sources confirmed that technical inputs will include some items which are not in public domain and could include a new version of thermal imagers, sensors and even better UAVs. The national technical organisation NTRO operates the UAVs which have ability to look under the tree foliage. The CRPF has wished that it will opt for the DRDO built UAV, the Nishant.

Already specialised vehicles that are mine-protected have been used in Maoist-dominated areas. Their numbers will be increased. The Indian Army which trains paramilitary forces and state police in jungle warfare has been asked to ramp up capacity and add more numbers each year.

Meanwhile, Indian security agencies have warned that Maoists may carry out more attacks in urban centres in the coming months. After the massacre of 27 persons, Maoists are trying their best to expand the CPI(Maoist) activities beyond its area of influence and targeted killings are one of the key options.

In the recent past, Maoists have suffered significant reverses and May 25 attack in Jagdalpur was an attempt to hog national limelight and reassert their influence. Official sources said the desperation of Maoists was reflected in the intercepted conversations of the few top leaders mostly hiding in deep jungles of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha.

Security agencies have assessed that 27,000 more paramilitary personnel will be needed and some three-years of sustained efforts is needed to dominate the Naxal-area in Bastar (Chhattisgarh), Malkangiri and Koraput (both in Odisha) and Latehar (Jharkhand).

IAF’s Nagpur unit to help in Chhattisgarh

The anti-Maoist operations in Maoist hotbed of Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh are set to get a boost with IAF deciding to provide helicopter support from Nagpur where a new unit is being set up. The IAF has at present deployed six Mi-17 choppers from a unit based in Gorakhpur and they operate from three locations including Ranchi in Jharkhand and Raipur and Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh to support the operations.
Antony expects Tejas okayed by 2014
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Defence Minister AK Antony today expressed optimism that the country’s indigenously developed fighter aircraft LCA TEJAS will get Final Operational Clearance of the Indian Air Force by 2014.

Speaking at the Annual Awards Functions of the DRDO here, he said all stakeholders, including the DRDO, the IAF and HAL, must put their energies together in a focused manner to achieve this objective.

Antony warned: “The countries that depend on imported arsenal cannot become great nations. India is the largest importer of defence equipment. The share of indigenous content in defence procurement is low.

“Our experience has been that foreign vendors are reluctant to part with critical technologies. There are delays in the supply of essential spares. There are exorbitant price hikes. The Services too realise that we cannot be eternally dependent on foreign equipment and platforms”, he said.

Referring to the expansion of domestic defence industry, Antony said this has to be achieved through public and private sector initiatives. He said there is ample scope for joint ventures also. “All the stakeholders in the defence sector -- DRDO, armed forces and the industry - must work in tandem and develop trust and confidence in each other’s capabilities.”

Cautioning against time and cost overruns in projects, Antony said the Indian companies must compete with global players in developing state of the art technologies of acceptable commercial parameters and must meet customer satisfaction.

The minister complimented the DRDO for their magnificent achievements in 2012.

Earlier, he gave away awards to DRDO scientists. Several of those have been associated with Agni-V, the underwater missile firing test and components of the under-constructions nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant.
Chinese assertiveness
It's time for introspection
by Rakesh Datta

Describing India's relations with China is no less than a "Eureka moment", said one senior Admiral. Despite the fact that the two trace their relations to ancient times, India's knowledge, assessment, experience and understanding of Chinese political and military mind is not what it ought to have been.

They confronted each other openly in 1962 when India's military capability was not found up to the mark. Things have not changed much during these more than five decades. It may not be prudent to say that we have been watching idly China adding to its military muscle, and Indian politico-military thinking towards strategic decision-making on China remaining frightful.

It was more or less in public domain when former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked General Padmanabhan, the then Army Chief, the required marching time for undertaking Operation Parakram. The reply was "twenty days". General Manekshaw during the 1971 war insisted for six months. While Kargil was no different, the recent standoff too was underplayed as merely of tactical value by the present Army Chief.

It may be pointed out that the tactical action proposed at Rakhi Nala during the latest dispensation was actually no different from what Mr B.N. Mullick, then IB chief, predicted --- that Chinese would not interfere with Indian posts once those had been established. It was acted upon as late as July 10, 1962, when Chinese surrounded the Galwan post. They withdrew when threatened with the use of force. Logistically, the Army was unable to supply its men with suitable equipment and provisions for the Himalayan conditions.

On September 8, 1962, Chinese forces crossed the McMahon line in the Kemang division of NEFA. The Government of India (GOI) confirming the report officially on September 13 underplayed the attack, saying that Chinese forces had appeared in the vicinity of one of the posts.

Unfortunately, the GOI always had the strong conviction that the border problem would be solved amicably. In fact, all border incidents during that time — at Barahuti, Damzan, Nilang, Kurik, Walong, Khurnak posts, etc — were between the Chinese army on one hand and Indian police personnel on the other. It was only in April 1960 that the responsibility of the northern frontier was handed over to the Indian Army. Interestingly, now it was the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) which was managing the frontiers at selected places with not much coordination with the local army commanders. Things are only routed through New Delhi.

The Chinese leadership in its relations with India continued to maintain an attitude of being gullible. While at Durban on March 25 this year the new Chinese President, Xi Jing Ping, met the Indian Prime Minister with all the cordiality expected, but during the next fortnight the Chinese dream of strategic thinking and protecting national sovereignty and security was realised by crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. The incursion could only have been to empower the new Chinese leadership in their dealings with India from a position of strength.

Increasing trade with China and the growing business ties with a target of reaching $100 billion bilateral trade level in the next two years is a prudent strategy, keeping in view the new geo-economic realities. But will it help circumventing Chinese military designs on India in the long run? One has to read Chinese history to understand its expansionist policy spread over four dynasties --- the Hans, Tangs, Mongols and Manchus -- taking Chinese arms to the four corners of central and eastern Asia. During the Hans dynasty, the traditional expansionist policy was known as "t' san shih", which means to eat gradually. In Beijing's view, all boundary questions are the legacies of the past as a result of unequal treaties and need a satisfactory settlement.

In a wider perspective, China also considers all disputed areas belonging to it, which also points to its blatant contempt for any agreement signed with its neighbours for resolving disputes through negotiations. A major constituent of the Chinese foreign policy has been territorial and military expansion at the cost of its weak neighbours with a view to ensuring security and gaining power to challenge them. In Chinese understanding of international politics, there are no friends but only enemies and vessel states.

There is nothing to feel empowered or emboldened on the Chinese act of silent withdrawal in Ladakh though seen under Indian pressure. It could have been dictated by Sino-centrism. After all, could the Chinese have tolerated Indian diplomatic success to override their dictum that "to be heard afar, bang your going on a hill top."

The Chinese have passed through their bidding time as acclaimed by Deng Xiaoping. That is the reason for their aggressiveness even on their eastern shore where India is again seen as an irritant. POK and SCS are China's latest weapons for gaining territorial assets, fetching them vast riches of oil and natural gas, besides strategic waterways.

India must adopt a strong innate posture. Pending the border dispute, we must not allow POK to be impregnated by the Chinese. India has openly declared that the South China Sea must remain navigationally free and has sought to resolve all sovereignty issues in consistent with the international law. After all, close to Chinese traditionalism, India too thinks of its contours that existed during British India. We are the largest country in South Asia. Our military budget is the third largest in the world with equally strong armed forces. We are a nuclear weapon country and it is difficult to understand what stops us from protecting our national honour and prestige.

We must not underplay the Chinese act of intrusion or aggression. It will only justify to the Chinese society and the world that the Chinese do not indulge in wrong-doings. The Chinese have built their military and logistic requirements on their side of the borders while our dithering posture of not doing anything with the assumption that it may annoy our neighbours lacks credibility. Chinese came and went back to the earlier position in Ladakh, but what next? Do we have a plan to check any more such intrusions in future?

Let's be truthful: if the government has given an assurance to the Chinese for not building any defences on our side of the LAC, then it actually means yielding to their dictates or, as Sun Tzu had said, "influencing adversaries mind". But it surely compels us to introspect. After all, we have been reiterating all through these years that we have moved beyond 1962.
US drone strike kills Pakistan Taliban number two Wali-ur-Rehman, say officials
A US drone strike killed the number two of the Pakistan Taliban in the North Waziristan region on Wednesday, three security officials said, in what would be a major blow in the fight against militancy.

The drone strike killed seven people, the Pakistani security officials said, including Taliban deputy commander Wali-ur-Rehman, in the first such attack since a May 11 general election in which the use of the unmanned aircraft was a major issue.

Wali-ur-Rehman had been poised to succeed Hakimullah Mehsud as leader of the Pakistan Taliban, a senior army official based in South Waziristan, said in December.
"This is a huge blow to militants and a win in the fight against insurgents," one security official told Reuters, declining further comment.

The Pakistani Taliban are a separate entity allied to the Afghan Taliban. Known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), they have launched devastating attacks against the Pakistani military and civilians.

Drone casualties are difficult to verify. Foreign journalists must have permission from the military to visit the Pashtun tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Taliban fighters also often seal off the sites of drone strikes immediately so Pakistani journalists cannot see the victims.

The Pakistani Taliban were not immediately available for comment.

The security officials and Pashtun tribesmen in the northwestern region said the drone fired two missiles that struck a mud-built house at Chashma village, 3 km (2 miles) east of Miranshah, the region's administrative town.

They said seven people were killed and four wounded.

"Tribesmen started rescue work an hour after the attack and recovered seven bodies," said resident Bashir Dawar. "The bodies were badly damaged and beyond recognition."


The Pakistan government had yet to confirm Wali-ur-Rehman's death. A US drone killed Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud in 2009.

US President Barack Obama recently indicated he was scaling back the drone strike programme, winning cautious approval from Pakistan, a key ally in the US fight on militancy.

A Pakistani Foreign Ministry official, speaking before the identity of the Taliban number two had been revealed, condemned all such strikes.

"Any drone strike is against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan and we condemn it," the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

North Waziristan is on the Afghan border and has long been a stronghold of militants including Afghan Taliban and their al Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban allies.

Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif said this month that drone strikes were a "challenge" to Pakistan's sovereignty.

"We will sit with our American friends and talk to them about this issue," he said.

Obama's announcement of scaling back drone strikes was widely welcomed by the people of North Waziristan, where drones armed with missiles have carried out the most strikes against militants over the past seven years, sometimes with heavy civilian casualties.

The strike also coincided with the first session of the newly elected provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the former Northwest Frontier Province.

Former cricketer Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party won most seats in the assembly and denounced the strike, saying Obama had gone back on his word.
India Reissues Tender for 100 Armored Personnel Carriers
The Indian Defence Ministry has reissued a tender to buy 100 armored personnel carriers (APCs), slightly easing the requirements from 2009’s failed tender.

A Defence Ministry source said the qualitative requirements laid out in 2009 were “tough,” and sought to mix the best systems available on the market. The vendor also was reequired to make a special prototype of the APC to compete. None of the vendors could meet the qualitative requirements for the APCs in the earlier tender.

The requirements have been diluted slightly relating to the mobility of the vehicles, and the tender has again been issued to the same vendors involved in 2009: General Dynamics in the US, Rosoboronexport of Russia, Ukrainexport of Ukraine, Poland’s Bumar, Finmec­canica of Italy, BAE Systems of the UK and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann of Germany.

An Indian Army official said the vehicle procurement process is slow and the allocated budget has been nearly stagnant for the last three years.

The budget allocation for military vehicles for 2013-14 is only 20.8 billion rupees (US $377 million), compared with 22.6 billion rupees in 2012-13 and an actual spend of 23.5 billion rupees in 2011-’12.

To meet its APC requirements, the Army is using about 2,000 Russian BMP-1 and BMP-2 multipurpose armored vehicles, equipped with anti-tank missiles and other weapons.

Along with the purchase of 100 APCs, the global tender includes buying 60,668 armor piercing rounds, 91,004 high-explosive rounds for the 25-40mm cannon, 886,436 rounds of the 7.62 coaxial machine gun and 84,100 rounds for the 25mm-40mm anti-grenade launcher.

The requirements stipulate that the wheeled APCs be able to fire on the move, have good speed on the road and cross country, and have the ability to protect against mines, improvised explosive devices, small arms, grenades and artillery splinters.

The vehicle must be able to be armed with a machine gun, cannon and automatic grenade launcher.

In addition, the vehicle must have modern, secure communications, amphibious capability and the ability to cross obstacles.

The Army wants the cannon to be able to fire at targets, including helicopters, at a distance of 2,500 meters.

This month, India tapped a consortium of two domestic companies to supply the Army with 100 Tatra trucks, breaking a monopoly held by a Czech Republic-based firm.

Domestic companies Ashok Leyland and Larsen & Toubro formed the winning consortium, which beat another consortium composed of Tata Motors and Tata Power SED.

The bid by Czech firm Tatra Czech, filed jointly with state-owned Bharat Earth Movers, failed at the trial stage.
Nawaz Sharif to take on foreign, defence portfolios himself: Sources
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif will oversee the sensitive foreign and defence portfolios as he seeks to forge a working partnership with the all-powerful military in the early days of his tenure, sources close to him said on Tuesday.

Sharif, ousted in a bloodless military coup in 1999, has decided not to appoint defence and foreign ministers in the cabinet he is putting together. He led his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), back to power in May 11 elections.

Instead, he will select a retired civil servant as an adviser on foreign affairs - Tariq Fatemi, a former ambassador to the United States and the European Union, the sources said.

The army has ruled Pakistan for more than half its history since partition with India in 1947 and critics say generals have jealously guarded the right to dictate foreign policy.

The move to defer appointing a foreign minister suggests that Sharif wants to get to grips with the government's relationship with the army.

"The incoming government and the army need to be on the same page on key foreign policy issues, not least Pakistan's relations with Afghanistan, India and the United States," a PML-N insider told Reuters, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media about the issue.

The United States wants ally Pakistan to help rein in the Afghan Taliban before most NATO combat troops pull out of Afghanistan in 2014. Pakistan's arch rival, India, with which Pakistan has fought three wars since 1947, is constantly a perceived threat.

Pakistan is beset by high unemployment, a failing economy, widespread poverty, a Taliban insurgency and sectarian violence. The United States is troubled by elements in the country supporting Islamic militants fighting US troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

"Supporting Western-backed attempts to engage with Taliban leaders in Afghanistan; what to do about India - until the government's policy contours are crystal clear, the prime minister is not willing to take any risks," the insider said.

Sharif was a protege of military dictator General Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s. But he was overthrown by General Pervez Musharraf because he refused to allow an airliner carrying the army chief to land in Pakistan.

In the last days of his election campaign, Sharif spoke openly against what he called a "flawed" US war on terror, raising questions about which direction he would try to push the trajectory of bilateral relations.

Pakistan backed the Taliban's rise to power in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s and is seen as a crucial gatekeeper in attempts by the US and Afghan governments to reach out to insurgent leaders who fled to Pakistan after the group's 2001 ousting.

"Handling the US, Afghanistan and India after foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan will be a very tough job," another PML-N source said.

"Right now, Sharif has decided he's the best man to do this delicate dance. He won't take the chance of someone else making a mess in the early days of his government."
Quality, not quantity, is Indian Army's need

The Indian Army’s decision to approach the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad to suggest a better system of recruitment of officers is a belated recognition of an old problem. As the Army has been unable to attract competent candidates, there are at present over 12,000 vacant positions at the officer level. There has been growing realisation that the present system of recruitment is time-consuming, cumbersome and off-putting. What the Army wants is a shorter, transparent and robust system so that capable persons are attracted and recruited. While change is always welcome, change for the sake of change will not serve any purpose.

Whatever may be the drawbacks in the existing system of recruitment, allowance has to be made for the fact that it has served the needs of the Army for over six decades, i.e. since Independence. In other words, it has been able to maintain the standards expected of officers in the Army. Any new system has also to take into account the fact that there should be no compromise in the quality and standards of officers recruited. After all, the recruitment will have a direct bearing on the professionalism of the Army, which is one of the few institutions which maintains discipline, decorum and a sense of integrity.

Even so, it is a fact that the Indian Army has changed a lot. Earlier, the officer cadre in the Army used to attract people from aristocratic sections of society. In fact, it was not uncommon for young officers to take pride in the fact that their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, too, had served as officers in the Army. That is no longer the case as the catchment area for recruitment has widened. People from all over the country and representing all sections seek job opportunities in the Army. Yet, if the Army is not able to attract good candidates, the recruitment system alone is not to blame. That the salary and other service conditions in the Army are unable to match the aspirations of the talented should not be forgotten.


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal