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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.

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