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Friday, 12 July 2013

From Today's Papers - 12 Jul 2013
India has exploration right in South China Sea, says Vietnam
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 11
Notwithstanding growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, Vietnam today made it clear that India has every right to carry on with 'exploration and exploitation' work it was undertaking in the blocks allotted to it by Hanoi in the disputed sea.

"Our position is that we need to respect the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to resolve any issue arising in the South China Sea," Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said at a press conference with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid after the two co-chaired the 15th meeting of the joint commission between their two countries.

The Indian-born Vietnamese minister said both New Delhi and Hanoi shared the view that all the countries bordering the South and East China Sea have rights to their exclusive economic areas. India was fully entitled to pursue 'exploration and exploitation work' in the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam, he added.

Khurshid emphasised that India's activity in the South China Sea was purely commercial in nature and it had been undertaken at the instance of Vietnam. He was of the view that any contentious issue in this regard be settled through peaceful talks.

Both India and Vietnam, which have boundary disputes with China, remain in regular touch with each other.

While India has a long-pending territorial dispute with Beijing, there have been tensions between Vietnam and China over differing maritime claims in the South China Sea. China has gone to the extent of warning India to halt its exploration activity in the disputed sea.

On same page

    Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said both New Delhi and Hanoi shared the view that all the countries bordering the South and East China Sea have rights to their exclusive economic areas
    India was fully entitled to pursue 'exploration and exploitation work' in the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam, he added
India, China to soon have hotlines between military headquarters
NEW DELHI: India and China will soon have a hotline between their service headquarters for avoiding and handling situations such as a possible border flare-up.

Setting up of a hotline between officers at the level of Director General of Military Operations ( DGMO) has been a long-standing proposal by India to China for having peace and tranquillity at the border.

The two sides are in agreement over the issue now after several high-level meetings between them during which the issue has been discussed prominently, sources said here.

The Chinese side is soon expected to nominate an official in its military headquarters who would have the hotline with his Indian counterpart, they said.

During the recent defence minister-level talks between the two sides also, India and China agreed on the need for having "strategic communication" for building mutual trust between the two sides.

In the recent times, there have been several high-level visits and exchanges between the two countries including the visit of Chinese premier to India and recent visit by defence minister A K Antony and NSA Shivshankar Menon to that country.

In the past, the two sides have also discussed proposals to set up hotlines between India's Northern and Eastern Army Commanders with their Chinese counterparts but not much progress has been made in that direction so far.

At present, three hotlines exist between the armies of the two countries at Spamgur Gap, Nathula and Bumla รข€" the three locations where the two sides meet for Border Personnel Meetings.

Such a hotline is expected to help in early resolution of situations like the one which happened in Depsang Valley in Ladakh on April 15 when Chinese troops intruded 19 km into Indian territory crossing the Line of Actual Control.
India To Tap Domestic Companies for Acoustic Artillery Locator Systems

NEW DELHI — After failing to buy sound ranging systems (SRS) from the global market, India's Defence Ministry will send a fresh tender next month to domestic companies only.

The indigenous firms include state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL), which in turn will tie up with overseas companies to supply 34 of the systems at a cost of more than US $120 million, said Defence Ministry sources.

The first tender was canceled in 2008 because none of the bidders could meet requirements.

The Army would use the acoustic capabilities of the SRSs to locate enemy artillery to supplement the US-made AN/TPQ-37 weapon-locating radars bought in 2001. But maintenance on these radars has become costly because of a lack of spare parts, said Army sources.

The Army wants the SRS to be able to locate mortars at a distance of 10 kilometers, 105mm artillery at a distance of 15 kilometers and 130mm artillery at a distance of 20 kilometers. Under normal weather conditions, the system should be able to locate 60 percent of enemy artillery, said an Army official.

The SRS locates enemy weapons by the sound of their gunfire. It is designed for plains and desert terrain. The sound signals are then directed to surveillance and target acquisition units to direct return fire, explained the Army official.

The tender to be sent to BEL and ECIL stipulates that the SRS should be compact, man-portable, able to be rapidly deployed and function under rugged conditions.

The tender will specify that the SRS should be computer controlled, based on advanced microprocessors and able to be loaded with digital map data in field conditions.
Iron Dome

In addition to using sound ranging and weapon-locating radars, the Indian Army is reconsidering the purchase of the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system, said Defence Ministry sources. The revisit on Iron Dome was prompted by the possibility that Israel would transfer technology for the project, said a source.

In February, Indian Air Force Chief Air Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne told reporters at the Aero India air show in Bangalore that the Iron Dome is not suitable for the service.

India and Israel have been discussing the purchase of Iron Dome and the David's Sling air defense system for more than two years.

David's Sling is jointly produced by Raytheon of the US and Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems; Iron Dome is manufactured by Rafael.

The Indian Army official said Iron Dome can detect and engage the Nasr, Pakistan's tactical nuclear missile with a range of 60 kilometers.
Army begins work to open new route to Kedarnath shrine
LUCKNOW: Acting on the requests made by the civil administration and the National Disaster Relief Force, troops of Surya Command of the Army have now commenced work to open a new route to the Kedarnath shrine. Uttarakhand has witnessed incessant rains in the last few days due to which helicopters have not been able to fly and the relief work was severely hampered.

The land routes had suffered extensive damage during the cloud burst and flash floods of June 16-17, as a result of which, the access to the Kedarnath shrine remains cut off. As meteorological forecasts predict more rain in the near future, opening a new land route was the only solution to gain continued access to the shrine.

Teams of Surya Command conducted a reconnaissance of the area and have commenced work to open a route along a fresh alignment. After much difficulty, the Central Command teams were successful in establishing a crossing over the Vasuki Ganga at Sonprayag on July 10, and the leading team comprising of 21 persons including four officers crossed the river and reached Gomkara and camped there for the night at an altitude of approximately 13,000 feet.

On Thursday, another team with logistic support crossed the river at Sonprayag and is now moving on the route opened by the leading team. This team will establish a staging area in the area of Gomkara. The leading team is presently opening the route to Kedarnath crossing Dev Vishnu and was heading for Kedarnath when reports last came in.

The new route is likely to follow the alignment from Sonprayag - Gomkar - Dev Vishnu - Dhungaj Giri - Kedarnath and will be approximately 20 kilometres in length, passing over an altitude of more than 13,000 feet.
Army sergeant, 42, accused of stealing IDs of dead soldiers to get fraudulent $12,000 loan

A former Fort Campbell inspector whose job was to investigate misconduct has been accused of stealing the identities of Army personnel, including a soldier killed in combat, in a scheme to obtain thousands of dollars in bank loans.

The indictment handed down Wednesday alleges James Robert Jones, 42, of Woodlawn, Tenn., used his position as an assistant inspector general at the Army post on the Kentucky-Tennessee line to obtain personal information on active-duty Army officers, some of whom were deployed to Afghanistan.

Jones, whose rank is sergeant first class, is accused of using the information - including Social Security numbers and dates of birth - to apply for loans in the officers' names, the federal indictment said.

He successfully obtained fraudulent loans from two financial institutions, it said.

Among those targeted was an enlisted soldier who had been killed in combat in Afghanistan, the indictment said.

Jones said Wednesday night he would plead not guilty to the charges.

'There's a whole lot more to the story than what meets the eye, I can tell you that much,' he said in a brief phone interview with The Associated Press.

Jones said he has been in the Army for nearly 20 years and was in the inspector general's office at Fort Campbell for close to two years. A voicemail greeting on Jones' cellphone included portions of the song 'God Bless the U.S.A.'

The indictment did not identify the soldiers allegedly targeted in the scheme, and it mentioned two credit unions allegedly targeted.

The alleged scheme took place from February to May of this year, it said.

Jones allegedly created fake email accounts in the officers' names as part of his loan applications and called the credit unions pretending to be the officers when following up on the applications, it said.

The indictment says Jones applied for a $12,000 loan from Fort Campbell Federal Credit Union.

Jones withdrew cash from loans he fraudulently obtained, the indictment said, without specifying the amount.

He also purchased a cashier's check from the Navy Federal Credit Union, using funds from a loan he had obtained, it said.

Jones failed to make payments on the loans he fraudulently secured, it said.

When confronted by investigators, Jones tried to conceal his role by falsely accusing a deceased Army officer of planning the scheme, according to the indictment.

'This defendant abused a position of trust and used his position to specifically target those who serve our country, including certain officers who were deployed overseas, when he stole their identities,' Acting U.S. Attorney David Rivera said in announcing the indictment.

Jones was indicted on charges of aggravated identity theft, bank fraud and making a false statement to a financial institution.

He's also charged with obstructing justice and making false statements to investigators.

Those charges stem from allegations that Jones asked a colleague to delete information on his work computer in an alleged effort to impede the investigation, the indictment said.

Fort Campbell spokesman Bob Jenkins said the post was reviewing the indictment and would have no additional comment Wednesday.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command.

'The Secret Service remains committed to fighting this type of financial fraud by pursuing individuals who obtain fraudulent loans using stolen identities, especially when the identities belong to members of our armed services,' said Todd Hudson, special agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Nashville.

If convicted, Jones faces up to 30 years in prison for the counts of bank fraud and making a false statement to a bank, along with an additional two years for each count of aggravated identity theft.

Jones also faces up to 20 years if convicted of attempting to destroy records and five years for allegedly making false statements to investigators.
Army eyes advanced systems for LoC surveillance in JK
Army's Norther Command Headquarters has floated tenders for the purchase of six Border Surveillance Management Systems (BSMS) for deployment in Jammu and Kashmir.

"A surveillance system is required which can cater to Indian Army's peacetime requirements, both during day and night," said the Request for Proposal (RFP) document released recently by Northern Command's First Field Ordnance Depot.

The move comes in the light of increased attempts at infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) in J-K in recent months.

The border area already has in place a strong surveillance mechanism, including three-tier fencing, flood-lighting, sensors, thermal imagers and manual patrolling, and the BSMS is only expected to enhance the Army's anti-infiltration capabilities.

As per specifications, the BSMS set-up must be simple, yet able to provide inputs any time to a surveillance centre situated well behind the sensor (observation post).

"It should be networked so that a single surveillance centre is able to observe the feed of multiple sensors," the RFP says.

The system should contain observation devices and come with a thermal imager camera which can observe and record images both in daylight and during darkness.

The system should also be able to function in both wireless and wired mode, the RFP stated.
India, China plan to hold Navy, Air Force exercises
NEW DELHI: Seeking to strengthen mutual trust between their armed forces, India and China are planning to hold exercises between their navies and air forces also in the near future.

The armies of the two countries already hold exercises between them code named Hand-to-Hand. Its third edition would be held in Chengdu military region of China in October.

During the recent discussions, the two sides have agreed that there should be exercises between the Navies and the Air Forces also, sources told here.

The initial exercises would be elementary in nature but later on, their level can be increased, they said.

The schedule of the exercises and their time-frame would be decided in the meetings between the armed forces of the two countries, they said.

Both sides have also agreed that the navies and air forces of both countries will undertake enhanced professional exchanges, the defence ministry had recently said during the visit of defence minister AK Antony there.

The two sides have also agreed to enhance ties between the military headquarters and exchange more number of young officers to enhance mutual trust.

Armies of India and China held their first exercises in 2007 at Belgaum in Karnataka with plans to hold such events annually. Similar exercises were held in 2008 at China's Kunming city.

The drills were later disrupted over China's new policy of granting visas on piece of paper to residents of Jammu and Kashmir. China also denied visa to a top General of J&K-based northern command after which India called off military contacts.
Special preview screening of 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' for Indian Armed Forces
Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, in association with UFO Moviez India Ltd, the world's largest satellite delivered digital cinema network, are pleased to announce exclusive preview screenings of the eagerly awaited Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in all UFO digital Defence theatres across India, a day ahead of the film's nationwide theatrical release. Starring Farhan Akhtar and Sonam Kapoor, and directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a film about the revered athlete Milkha Singh's perseverance as a sportsperson and also as a courageous human spirit.

While the theatrical release of the film is scheduled for 12th July, the exclusive premiere for Indian Defence Personnel and their families will be held at 8 pm on July 11th, in UFO's digital Defence theatres across India.

"Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a tribute to a national hero. It was because of the Indian Army that Milkha Singh's talent was discovered and nurtured. Viacom18 Motion Pictures is privileged and proud to premiere the film for the armed forces across India a day before its commercial release. It's our humble way of saying 'we salute you'", said Rudrarup Datta, Head, Marketing and Operations, Viacom18 Motion Pictures.

The Defense spokesperson of Chandimandir Army Cantonment in Chandigarh added, "The special screenings of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a positive step by Viacom18 and UFO towards entertaining our troops. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, with its message of resilience of spirit, body and mind, promises to be an extremely interesting film to watch, as will be the chance for the defence personnel to meet with the starcast of the film along with Shri Milkha Singh."

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Kapil Agarwal, Joint Managing Director, UFO Moviez, said, "The Defence Forces are our nation's pride and the specially organized premiere of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is our way of paying tribute to the brave soldiers who safeguard our nation. We are very happy to partner with Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for such an initiative. It is a matter of personal pride for all UFOrians that our digital cinema services and solutions have helped entertain Indian Armed Forces personnel across the length and breadth of India, round the year and in all weather conditions."

Of the approximately 3200 UFO digital theatres, 124 are in Defence auditoriums, bringing first day first show entertainment to India's Armed Forces across terrains and geographies. UFO's Defence installations are present across the length and breadth of the country – right from the easily accessible army auditorium in Colaba, Mumbai, to the Rinchen Auditorum in Leh (theatre installation carried out at the highest altitude in India, approx 12000 ft above sea level), and from the Samudrika Naval auditorium in Vizag to the Meghalaya Air Force Hall in Shillong.

Also on taking place will be a special interaction between Milkha Singh, Farhan Akhtar, Sonam Kapoor Prasoon Joshi, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Defence personnel stationed at Chandigarh cantonment, prior to the exclusive premiere of the film. The cast and crew of the film, along with Shri Milkha Singh, will meet and greet the jawans at the cantonment at UFO's defence theatre.
India to resume military supplies to Nepal after eight years
Kathmandu: India is set to resume military supplies, including arms and ammunition, to the Nepal Army, after an eight year hiatus, since then king Gyanendra Shah seized power and restricted political freedom.

India has decided to resume defence equipments, mainly logistic supplies and vehicles, as per the request made by Nepal Army, an official at Nepal Army Headquarters' Public Relation Directorate told PTI.

International community, including India, had halted defence supplies to Nepal since then king Shah, who was later deposed, took control of power and restricted political freedom and civil liberties in February 2005.

Most of the equipments are non-lethal such as vehicles, dresses, communication equipments etc, the official said. However, the supplies also include some arms and ammunition required for regular operation of the Nepal Army, the official clarified.

A statement issued by the Indian Embassy on conclusion of Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's day-long visit on Tuesday said, "Following the successful completion of integration of former Maoist combatants into Nepal Army and the decision of the government of Nepal to resume imports of stores and equipment for Nepal Army, these materials, identified in the Bilateral Consultative Group on Security Issues, will be supplied to Nepal over the coming months."

Nepal has immediately sought Nepali Rupees 1.76 billion or USD 18.33 million worth military supplies from India, according to the statement.

In the past, the Maoists had opposed purchasing any kind of military supplies from India and abroad for the Nepal Army. The Maoists have been saying that, the Nepal Army cannot acquire defence materials until the Peace Process completes as it violates the Comprehensive Peace Accord signed between the Maoists and the then government in 2006.

After nearly six years of negotiations, the Nepal Army has formally inducted 1,352 former Maoist combatants into its force as soon as they completed the basic training course just last week.

Under the defence cooperation between Nepal and India, the two sides would collaborate on military educational exchanges, joint exercises, and supplies of military stores and equipment as required by Nepal Army.

Under the cooperation, Nepal will receive 70 per cent subsidy in the defence purchases after making cash payment of 30 per cent, according to Nepal Army sources.

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