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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.

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