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Thursday, 18 July 2013

From Today's Papers - 18 Jul 2013
Brar stabbed in pre-planned revenge attack, prosecution tells UK court

London, July 17
Three Sikh men tried to slash the throat of Lieutenant General (retd) Kuldip Singh Brar, who commanded the 'Operation Blue Star', in a deliberate "revenge attack" on the streets of London, a UK court has heard.

Mandeep Singh Sandhu (34), Dilbagh Singh (36) and Harjit Kaur (38) who pleaded not guilty to the charge of "unlawful wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm" in relation to the attack, which took place last September, appeared for the second day of trial yesterday at Southwark Crown Court. The three along with 33-year-old Barjinder Singh Sangha who has already admitted his part in the attack, believed Lt Gen (retd) Brar was responsible for Operation Blue Star in 1984, the prosecution alleged.

Prosecutor Annabel Darlow said that Kaur tracked the retired soldier.

Brar, who commanded the Operation Blue Star in 1984, was on a visit to London with his wife when the suspected Khalistan sympathisers attacked them. — PTI
Cabinet committee gives go-ahead to Mountain Strike Corps
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, July 17
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) tonight approved in principle a specialised Mountain Strike Corps aimed at increasing military strength along the China frontier. The committee headed by the Prime Minister is the highest decision making body on security matters.

The Finance Ministry had earlier given its approval for raising the corps. The expense of Rs 64,000 crore will now be spread across seven years and not five as planned originally, sources said.

The Mountain Strike Corps - a first of its kind for the Indian forces - will have around 50,000 soldiers. Two special divisions will be backed by an airlift ability to deploy fully armed troops at short notice.

US-made transport aircraft - the C-130-J Super Hercules - and twin-rotor heavy lift helicopter - the Chinook -will be part of the corps.

The IAF and the Army are readying seven advanced landing grounds in Arunachal Pradesh for quick deployment of troops, besides a host of helipads.

The corps will be armed with specialised artillery guns - the ultra-light Howitzer - that can be lifted by the Chinook helicopter for deployment on mountain tops, besides night fighting ability and specialised vehicles.

Attack helicopters and fighter jets such as the Su-30MKI, already based in the North-East, will be incorporated into the corps. The IAF has created a “swing fleet” to allow rapid movement of fighters from one part of the country to another.

The corps is aimed at countering threats from China, which has put in place a rapid deployment capability based on mechanised vehicles and aircraft and railway tracks allowing quick movement across the flat Tibetan plateau on its side.

Army Chief General Bikram Singh has been pushing for the Mountain Strike Corps since the start of his tenure in June last year. This is a part of the Army’s new policy of tackling threats from Pakistan and China. The three strike corps currently based at Ambala, Mathura and Bhopal are oriented towards Pakistan.

The Mountain Strike Corps is the biggest force accretion plan for the Army in the past two decades. The Army last raised a new corps - the Leh-based 14 corps - soon after the Kargil war in 1999.

Countering China

* The corps, a first of its kind for Indian forces, aims at countering threat from China

* Three strike corps currently based at Ambala, Mathura and Bhopal are oriented towards Pakistan

* The new corps will have around 50,000 soldiers, specialised C-130-J Super Hercules aircraft and Chinook helicopters

* The IAF and the Army are readying seven advanced landing grounds in Arunachal Pradesh for quick deployment of troops
America's exit strategy
Uncertainties grow over Afghanistan
by G Parthasarathy

Bruce Reidel, arguably one of the best informed and most experienced American analysts on the Afpak region, recently wrote an interesting analysis entitled “Battle for the Soul of Pakistan”. Reidel noted: “Pakistan also remains a state sponsor of terror. Three of the five most-wanted on America's counter-terrorism list live in Pakistan. The mastermind of the Mumbai massacre and head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafeez Saeed, makes no effort to hide. He is feted by the army and the political elite, and calls for the destruction of India frequently and Jihad against America and Israel”. Reidel adds: “The Head of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Omar shuttles between ISI safe houses in Quetta and Karachi. The Amir of Al Qaeda Ayman Zawahiri is probably hiding in a villa not much different from the one his predecessor (Osama bin Laden) was living in, with his wives and children, in Abbotabad, until May 2011.”

Despite these realities, a new narrative seems to be creeping in, as uncertainties grow in Western capitals over how the much-touted "end game" will play out. American combat operations are progressively ending and Afghan forces assuming full responsibility to take on the Taliban. There is uncertainty over whether Afghanistan's Presidential elections scheduled in April 2014 will be free and fair and whether the new President will enjoy support cutting across ethnic lines, as President Karzai, a Durrani Pashtun currently enjoys. As Pakistan remains an integral part of Western efforts to seek "reconciliation" with the Taliban and for pull-out equipment by the departing NATO forces, there appears to be a measure of Western desperation in seeking to persuade themselves and the world at large that there has been a “change of heart” on the part of the Pakistan army, which is now depicted as having given up its larger aim of seeking “strategic depth” in Afghanistan through its Taliban protégés, led by Mullah Mohammed Omar.

As Reidel notes, Mullah Omar remains an ISI protégé housed in ISI safe houses in Pakistan. Pakistan's real aim as a “facilitator” of “reconciliation” in Afghanistan became evident when Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz suggested to the Afghan Ambassador that the Taliban should be allowed to take control of provinces in Southern Afghanistan, as the process of “reconciliation” commences. The Americans have only encouraged such thinking and added to the confusion by their over-anxiety to directly engage the Taliban, discarding earlier conditions for dialogue. Such obvious over-anxiety prompted the Taliban to up the ante and infuriate President Karzai by converting their premises in Doha to the office of a virtual Government in exile.

The Americans and their NATO allies are evidently looking for scapegoats in case their “exit strategy” fails as it did in Vietnam. India now appears to be the new scapegoat in the event of such failure as the US and its NATO allies seem to be bent on blaming India, for any failures by them, to deal with the Pakistan army's support for the Taliban, which could lead to an ignominious exit for them from Afghanistan. In this effort, British writers like the self-styled “historian” William Dalrymple seem to have become willing and enthusiastic accomplices. In a recent paper published by the Washington-based Brookings Institution Dalrymple avers: “While most observers in the West view the Afghanistan conflict as a battle between the US and NATO on the one hand and the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the other, in reality the hostility between India and Pakistan lies at the heart of the conflict in Afghanistan”.

As a self-styled historian, Mr. Dalrymple conveniently forgets that the present Afpak tensions flowed from British colonial policies advocated by imperialists like Lord Curzon, whose "forward policy" aimed to check growing Russian influence in Central Asia and also give the British undisputed and unchallenged control over the oil resources of the entire Persian Gulf. It was Imperial Britain that changed historical borders, depriving the Pashtuns of moving across their historical homeland by the imposition of the Durand Line in 1893. The problems between Pakistan and Afghanistan since the birth of Pakistan have been primarily because of past actions of Imperial Britain, as no Afghan government has ever recognised the borders imposed by Imperial Britain. It is this border dispute that has bedevilled relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan since August 14, 1947, when Pakistan was born.

India has never taken sides on this Pakistan-Afghanistan dispute — a creation of British imperialism. The Afghans, in turn, have never taken sides on differences between India and Pakistan, except during Taliban rule. In a recent paper I received, written by a former Director General of the ISI, the author noted, while referring to past Pakistan-Afghanistan relations: “The message from Kabul both in 1965 and 1971 (India-Pakistan conflicts) was that we could move all our troops from the Durand Line to the Eastern borders, where we needed them. We did precisely that and the Afghans ensured for the duration of the crises there was all quiet on the western front. The two countries have their good neighbourly troubles, but their stakes in each other's security and stability are so high that neither would do anything deliberately to hurt the other's interests”.

The likes of Dalrymple and his American and European friends should remember that the religious extremism-violence that ails and afflicts Pakistan and Afghanistan today, is a direct outcome of the backing given by the ISI, joined by the CIA and MI 6, to armed fundamentalist groups, to wage jihad against the Soviet Union on Afghan soil and beyond. This, in turn, encouraged the ISI to believe that the promotion of “militant Islam” is the ideal means to build influence within Pakistan, “bleed” India and carry the forces of “radical Islam” to Afghanistan and beyond. The US and the CIA paid the price for their earlier follies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, when attacks like those of 9/11 and the London bombings were planned and executed from safe havens in Afghanistan and along the Durand Line.

India will have to keep these realities in mind when fashioning its policies in Afghanistan. While we have played along with the Americans and complemented their policies in Afghanistan, there is need for New Delhi to be prepared to build new bridges in relations with its old partners like Russia, Iran and the Central Asian Republics, given the uncertainties and unpredictability in emerging American policies. We should also remember that while China has inked a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan, it has retained, with Pakistani facilitation, its links with the Taliban's Quetta Shura.
A home coming
by J.S. Grewal

IT was on a breezy evening of September 1971 at Srinagar when two stalwart officers of 18 PUNJAB had spotted me as the new entrant to their fold. The hearty, warm welcome which I had received from them on that chilly evening is fresh in my mind, as if it happened yesterday. A soldier's youth, day in and day out, is spent with his unit; presence at home is only for short periods. Over the years, this bondage with each other gets strengthened and even continues during the post-retirement years. Past generations of a unit serve as common linkages with the bygone era and history of the unit, and their achievements inspire the next generation. Entire families comprising wives and children get deeply associated with each other, having lived together in a unit from one station to another.

It is this spirit and nostalgic memories of bygone days which bind us veterans of yesteryear with each other and with our battalions. In our case, this bondage gets strengthened with the greeting and war cry, 'Har Maidan Fateh', which has become synonymous with the name and fame of 18 PUNJAB, and serves as a common linkage with past and present generations of the battalion.

During August 1971, as a young lad of 20 years, and having been commissioned to join 18 PUNJAB as a Second Lieutenant, I reported for duty at the transit camp, which was just opposite Pathankot railway station. Pathankot was the rail terminus then; the rail track to Jammu was laid much later. The arduous road journey to Kargil commenced from Pathankot the next day, with breakfast at Samba, and lunch at Jammu, it took nearly half a day up to Jammu on the narrow, pot-holed road, travelling in the Army's three-tonner load-carrying vehicles, which were fitted with passenger seats. The road scene was much different from the present four-laned stretch up to Jammu. The night halt was at Udhampur transit camp.

On the second day, the convoy reached Srinagar. I was in a new environment, completely forlorn, shattered, inexperienced and home-sick, with no friends. It was a chance encounter with two officers of 18 PUNJAB, who were much senior to me, but strangers then; that all feelings of home-sickness evaporated. They were Major Sarjit Singh Sahota, a tall and burly personality, nick-named 'Shorty', and Capt Tarsem Singh, known as 'Terry', which suited the Army's flair for brevity and precision. Shorty, who later became our Commanding Officer, was returning from leave, and Terry, who had been a Services hockey goal-keeper (but, alas! is no more), was returning after a tenure as Range Officer at the Infantry School, Mhow. Both officers were engrossed in a conversation, animatedly exchanging notes after a long separation, when I entered the transit camp officers mess and extended the customary salutation. Noticing the single stars of a Second Lieutenant with 'PUNJAB' embroidered on my shoulder epaulettes, both officers beckoned me to come over, and gave me a good hand-shake. After having enquired about my battalion, and realising that I was joining theirs, I had received a thunderous applause of greetings and welcome, accompanied by back-thumping and many bear hugs, revealing sheer joy on their new find. "Welcome home", they told me. It assured me that I had been accepted to their fold, and indeed felt at home.

The next day the convoy took off for Kargil on the serpentine, mountainous narrow road. It reached Drass, after crossing the famed Zojila Pass, and by evening we were at Channigund, just short of Kargil, where the battalion base was located.

18 PUNJAB was then deployed in a barren, rocky, high-altitude terrain, in extremely chilly and adverse weather conditions. But that was 18 PUNJAB, my home to be, whether in difficult, in-hospitable areas or in the environment of a peace station. Now, after having lived our best years with the unit we cherish, even after retirement, we, the veterans, promise that we shall return!|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p
Experts: Bureaucracy Blocks Integrated Logistics Agency in India

NEW DELHI — Although many Indian defense officials have urged the development of a centralized agency to integrate the logistics structures of the Army, Navy and Air Force, service rivalries and refusal to include private companies in the provision of logistics services have stymied progress.

Ministry of Defence sources said the MoD bureaucracy does not favor expanding access to private companies to cater to the military’s logistics needs, and would rather keep that activity within government-owned entities.

“There is no doubt a crying need for establishing a national or joint military logistics system that will ensure economy as well as efficiency, but organizational politics and lack of firm direction from the top is preventing such a structure from emerging so far,” said Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Army brigadier general and defense analyst.

A senior Army official, however, said the military services favor an expanded corporate presence to provide for logistics needs, and support outsourcing their non-core logistics functions to private-sector companies. The official said the MoD bureaucracy has resisted these steps because of pressure from state-owned defense companies, which enjoy a near monopoly in weapons and equipment production, the official said.

Centralization of power within the MoD bureaucracy has delayed acquisition of spares and delivery to field repair bases, the official said. About 70 percent of the Army’s weaponry and equipment is obtained from overseas, causing excessive delays that adversely affect the repair and maintenance of essential equipment, the official said.

Service officials should have the authority to procure essential equipment directly from the original equipment manufacturers, an Air Force official said, and equipment that can be acquired locally would save time and money.

But the MoD bureaucracy will not easily cede authority, said Mahindra Singh, a retired Army major general.

“Whereas the service chiefs are responsible for the logistics of their own service, they have very limited financial powers because all of the powers are ultimately with the bureaucrats in MoD, who are not directly associated with the logistics work performed in the field,” Singh said.

As such, the bureaucrats will never give away their financial authority to buy weapons and equipment, which is an essential part of managing logistics and the supply chain, Singh said.

Even domestic defense companies have approached the MoD on occasion, urging the inclusion of local industry in logistics-related repairs and maintenance, said an executive of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the lobbying arm of the domestic defense industry. The Army possesses advanced equipment, but local repair facilities are not adequate, the Army official said. So the service is forced to depend heavily on the MoD for spares and other gear.

Including local industry in this kind of support will ensure maintenance is attended to more quickly and at cheaper rates, the Army official said.

“In times of a futuristic war, the entire country, along with its civilian infrastructure and industries, will have to be mobilized for logistics support, and India is currently not preparing for such a situation,” Singh said.

Bhonsle, however, said mobilization of the entire country is theoretically possible, and regulations exist to achieve this. But no national mobilization exercise has taken place since the 1970s, during the war for the liberation of Bangladesh.

“While sectoral exercises have been held, these are not adequate to test the efficiency of the system,” Bhonsle said.
Govt clears Army strike corps along China border

The army had sent the proposal in this regard in 2010 but it was returned by the Government asking the three Services to work together on plans to strengthen their capabilities in that region.

Boosting Army's war fighting capabilities along the Line of Actual Control, Government today given a go ahead to the creation of a corps including deployment of 50,000 additional troops along the China border at a cost of around Rs 65,000 crore.

The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the proposal in its meeting, sources told PTI.

As part of the plans, the around 1.3 million-strong Army is expected to raise the new Corps' headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal along with two divisions in Bihar and Assam and other units from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh.

Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh and IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne were also present at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for providing any possible clarifications, if any, sought by the CCS members including Defence Minister A K Antony, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

As per the plans, the IAF will also deploy its force multiplier assets such as six each mid-air refuelling tankers and C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft at Panagarh.

The army had sent the proposal in this regard in 2010 but it was returned by the Government asking the three Services to work together on plans to strengthen their capabilities in that region.

The Army will also get a number of new armoured and artillery divisions along with it to be deployed along the Northeast region.

The existing Strike Corps in the force include the 1, 2 and 21 Corps are all based close to the Pakistan border and are mainly armed to fight a land battle unlike the new Corps which will mainly focus on mountain warfare.
Army pilots to be made combat-ready in Bangalore
Pilots of the Indian Army’s Aviation Corps will be trained to be combat-ready here in Bangalore. The pilots who will fly the weaponised version of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), Rudra, will undergo simulator training in the months to come at the city based Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (HATSOFF).

HATSOFF, which already has a simulator cockpit for the civil, conventional variant of the ALH Dhruv has so far offered simulation-based training to over 100 Indian Air Force Pilots.

“The integration for the new simulator to train pilots on the weaponised ALH has been taking place and we would be starting training in the months to come,” an HATSOFF Official told dna.

According to a veteran helicopter pilot, the per-hour cost of training on a full mission simulator is generally below 55% of the hour cost of flying on an actual helicopter.

The Indian Army’s Aviation Corps first squadron comprising the ALH Rudra is also likely to be raised in Bangalore.
Egypt’s Army, Hardened in Bureaucracy, Not War
The Egyptian army has come forth to save democracy by destroying it. A man in uniform, Abdelfatah al-Seesi, gave himself the right to oust and hold in detention an elected president. Say what you will about the Free Officers who toppled the monarchy in 1952, they had been men of their time. They had known political protest, and they had known war.

Gamal Abdel Nasser had imbibed the political currents of his time. He had fought and fought well in the war for Palestine. He had carried within him the grievance of a military that had been dispatched into a war it wasn’t prepared to fight.

As for Anwar Sadat, he had known the life of the street. He had taken part in the assassination of an ancien regime politician known for his sympathy for the British occupation; he had been cashiered from the army, knew adversity and had been imprisoned. All of the hopes -- and frustrations of Egypt -- were to be found in the men who went out on July 23, 1952, to upend the monarchy.

Abdelfatah al-Seesi is a product of a different army and a different world. He is a man of the barracks, and the commissaries and business interests, of the officer corps. He graduated from the military academy in 1977; he would rise in the armed forces in a time of peace. He has known no combat; he served as a military attache in Saudi Arabia, and attended the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania.

There is nothing remarkable about al-Seesi; he is said to be religiously devout. It was President Mohamed Mursi himself who chose him as commander of the armed forces, promoting him over 200 more senior officers. This is no Mustafa Kemal Ataturk emerging out of war and national distress.
Craven Coup

A craven civilian leadership that had been unable to trump the Muslim Brotherhood at the ballot box was glad for the gift of his coup. It is a “hiccup,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, the darling of liberals abroad, of the coup. ElBaradei had a front-row seat, as the new military master issued the declaration that ousted Mursi. And the needed religious cover was at hand: the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Coptic pope. Tribute had to be paid to the street -- or more precisely to Tahrir Square -- and representatives of the Tamarod (Rebellion) movement who had gathered the petitions that called for an end to the Mursi presidency were present, too.

In truth, there was no urgency to the coup. Mursi wasn’t about to run away with the republic. The man reigned but didn’t rule. The police were a law unto themselves, the judiciary was defiant, and the army was untouchable.

The issues of war and peace -- the accommodation with Israel, the traffic with the U.S. -- were beyond Mursi’s writ. The intelligence services were supreme in their own domains. The deep state that Hosni Mubarak had bequeathed was intact.

True, Mursi had secured the passage of a constitution last December, and 64 percent of the voters had given their approval. But countries don’t live by constitutions, and the ratified constitution was in the main an anodyne document with the boilerplate provisions of prior declarations. This land had never been governed by constitutional provisions. Successive regimes have lived and functioned outside the law, and the pharaonic leadership at the helm needed no validating constitutional mechanisms.

The true powers in the land could have permitted Mursi the full run of his four-year mandate. The country could have dealt with it. But the land was set on the boil, and the coup was the easy way out.

Egypt has been perennially prone to violent shifts of opinion and preferences. It makes political deities and breaks them: Its broad middle class has been brittle and given to superstition and conspiracy theories. Modernism has been on the defensive for decades now, and the country has been bereft of the saving graces of participatory politics.
Secularists Rule

After tyranny came an infatuation with the maximalism of rebellion. Moderation quit the land. An unknown military officer was now the redeemer. The national maladies will endure. There is no way the roots of the Muslim Brotherhood could be extirpated.

But the secularists now wanted the old, burdened country to be theirs and theirs alone. The newly formed cabinet is composed of ministers of a decidedly secular bent. Some retreads from the Mubarak era have found their way into the new government.

Augusto Pinochet was a cruel and wicked man, the aftermath of his coup against Salvador Allende a time of merciless official terror. But grant Pinochet his due: He assumed the responsibility of his power and he remade the economy. By the early signs, General al-Seesi intends to rule behind the facade of civilian power. He can be forgiven the sense that the crowd - - all those good secularists and self-styled liberals -- had pined for his rule.
Rs3.7 L siphoned: 2 Army majors among 3 booked
he Wanawadi police have arrested an accounts officer attached to the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts Office (PCDAO) and booked two army majors along with a PCDAO staffer on charges of embezzlement of funds to the tune of Rs3,74,576.

The arrested accounts officer has been identified as A Ravi Subramaniam (37), a resident of Ashoknagar on Handewadi Road in Hadapsar. The incident came to light when senior accountant Pawankumar Agarwal of PCDAO registered a complaint with Wanawadi police in this regard.

Assistant police inspector Prasad Sanas said that Subramaniam was in control of the computerised record for digital disbursal of money.

“Subramaniam used to prepare fake travel and dearness allowance (TA DA ) bills in the name of Major Ambikesh Kumar and Major Kekannan both posted at Military Hospital in Assam, and one more staffer identified as S Rambabu (39), a resident of Chitragupta Complex in Bhavani Peth. Subramaniam used to
take half the amount as mentioned in the bills. He created fake bills to the tune Rs22 lakh and Rs14 lakh under the name of Kumar and Kekannan respectively,” Sanas said.

“The fake bills were prepared with their due consent and accordingly deposited in their respective accounts and siphoned off. The crime took place between July 2012 and May 2013. We have arrested Subramaniam in connection with the case and booked the other three suspects. We will arrest them soon,” Sanas added.

Subramaniam was produced before the court on Wednesday and will be under police custody till July 19.

The police slapped Subramaniam and his alleged accomplices with charges under section 420 (cheating) and section 34 (criminal acts done by several persons in futherance of common intention) under IPC and also charges under IT Act.
IAF eyes air base in Himalayas
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, July 16
Less than a month after history was created by landing a medium-lift aircraft, the C-130-J Super Hercules, at a remote airstrip in the Uttarakhand-Himalayas, the Indian Air Force is now eyeing a permanent base at Dharasu in Uttarkashi district of the state.

Two Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) at Dharasu and Gauchar in Rudraprayag district were used for the rescue operations following the June 16 and June 17 floods in Uttarakhand. Both ALGs have been studied for their feasibility by the IAF. They are separated by a 350-km road distance.

For the present, the ALG at Dharasu, at altitude of 4,300 feet, is being considered to be converted into a fully ready IAF base, sources confirmed to The Tribune. This could support helicopters and transport aircraft. The runaway is about 1,300 metres and is fully paved. The C-130-J landed at Dharasu on June 22 with fuel and full load on the airstrip.

There is enough clearance in the valleys to even land a C-17-Globemaster, the very heavy lift cargo plane that can ferry 80 tonnes and the runaway length is enough for the C-17 to operate, sources said. However, the tarmac may have to be redone. The C-130-J and the C-17 are specially designed planes that can take off and land from short runaways and even mud-paved runaways.

“For the immediate, the IAF could start off by basing helicopters and once the base is to be converted, it will support fixed wing planes,” a senior functionary explained.

The air strip at Dharasu is on the right bank of Bhagirathi and is one of the rare flat areas available in the Himalayas. It will need some upgradation, including setting up of a secured perimeter fence, accommodation for pilots and staff.

The other ALG at Gauchar will also provide some facilities. The existing one is free for all and does not even have a proper perimeter fence or a gate. Even now a small detachment of the IAF is operating of Gauchar helping the civil administration and the border roads organisation in rebuilding infrastructure.

In case the ALG at Dharasu gets functional, this will be the first base in Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. In Jammu and Kashmir, the IAF has bases at Srinagar, Leh, Kargil and Thoise, besides three ALGs. In Arunachal Pradesh, there are five ALGs which are at various stages of being fully paved.
Army’s legal wing tangled in litigation from within
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, July 16
The Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Department, Army’s judicial-cum-legal wing tasked with dispensing military justice, ensuring fair play and rendering legal advice to commanders on operational and administrative matters, is caught in a web of cases filed by its own officers alleging irregularities in the system.

For a strength of 121 officers, around 100 cases filed by JAG officers are pending before the Armed Forces Tribunal and other courts of law, say sources. This includes some officers who have filed multiple cases.

Most cases pertain to perceived irregularities and underhandedness in promotions, postings or handling of annual confidential reports, and in some cases acts of professional misdemeanor. Besides court cases, a large number of JAG officers has also filed statutory complaints before the Central Government to air their grievances on similar matters.

The JAG Department is headed by an officer of the rank of Major General. The current incumbent, Maj Gen PS Rathore, has been dragged to court by another officer, Lt Col Mukul Dev, who alleged that he was transferred “illegally” by him. The tribunal upheld the officer’s contentions and had ordered the matter to be investigated.

Though the order was passed in December 2012, the tribunal on perusing the records and files of the case observed that no fresh investigation was carried out by the Army as directed. In an affidavit filed before the court, the Defence Ministry had claimed that an investigation was carried out but nothing was found against the officer that indicated mala fide intent on his part.

In its latest order earlier this month, the tribunal directed the Defence Ministry to initiate fresh investigation against the Army’s top law officer for his alleged acts within a “reasonable time” to ensure that “the spirit of justice is not suffocated within the apron of executive action”.

Another petition filed by Brig Dinkar Adeeb, one of the top JAG officers, has alleged manipulation and violation of policy in the selection board proceedings to promote officers to the department’s apex position.

He has claimed that a junior officer, Brig T Prashad, was hastily granted out-of-turn relief on the eve of the selection board’s meeting and then his name was considered with a changed, improved profile resulting in his empanelment for promotion. He has contended that career profiles have to be frozen five days before the board’s meeting whereas in this case, the changes were made the previous evening.

Fresh promotions from Colonel to Brigadier have also created a controversy with a Colonel approaching the tribunal over the selection process.

Battling their own

The Judge Advocate General’s Department dispenses military justice and renders legal advice to commanders on operational and administrative matters

While the department has 121 officers, its own officers have filed around 100 cases in the Armed Forces Tribunal and other courts of law

Many officers have also filed statutory complaints before the Central Government
Wing Commander dismissed for allegedly taking bribe
A senior Air Force officer, Wing Commander AK Thakur, has been dismissed from service for allegedly taking a bribe from a foreign vendor at the Aero India show in Bangalore in 2011.

General Court Martial had recommended Wing Commander Thakur's dismissal last year. The findings of the court of inquiry has now been confirmed by the Air Force headquarters.

At the Aero India event in 2011, the wing commander allegedly asked a French defence firm, Dassault Aviation, for money in exchange for allotting a 'more advantageous position' for its Rafale aircraft in the 'static' aircraft display section at the biennial airshow, sources told the Press Trust of India. After an official from Dassault Aviation complained to the Indian Air Force, a trap was set and the officer was allegedly caught red-handed accepting the bribe.
Dassault Aviation's Rafale, which won the race for Indian Air Force's multi-billion dollar combat aircraft deal, was one of the six contenders in the hotly-contested tender when the alleged incident happened in February 2011. The deal, however, is still under negotiation.
Congo army helicopters pound M23 rebels near Goma
(Reuters) - Congolese government forces supported by helicopters attacked M23 rebel positions near the eastern city of Goma on Tuesday in a third day of heavy fighting that has forced hundreds of villagers to flee their homes and raised tensions with Rwanda.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council obtained by Reuters on Tuesday, Congo accused Rwandan specialist units of aiding M23 in the fighting. In a statement, U.N. peacekeepers in Congo denied claims by Kigali that they shelled Rwandan territory on Monday.

The U.N. mission, known as MONUSCO, said its peacekeepers "have not been involved in the fighting around Goma and, as a result, are not involved in any alleged shelling of Rwandan territory. The mission adds that it does not have a presence in Rwanda and is not in position to verify any shelling."

In a separate letter to the Security Council made public on Monday, Rwanda accused a new U.N. Intervention Brigade of discussing collaboration with Hutu rebels, known as the FDLR, linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The intervention brigade is mandated to fight and disarm rebel groups in eastern Congo.

The 3,000-member U.N. Intervention Brigade, made up of South African, Tanzania and Malawian troops, has conducted patrols but not yet engaged in combat.

The United Nations has warned it would block any attack on Goma, a city of 1 million people bordering Rwanda, which was briefly captured by rebels in November.

A Reuters reporter in Mutaho, some 7 km (four miles) northeast of Goma, saw three army helicopters bombard rebel positions in the town of Kibati, 4 km further north on Tuesday.

"The situation is now calm," army spokesman Colonel Olivier Hamuli told Reuters in Mutaho. "They attacked us at 4 o'clock this morning but we replied. ... Our aim is to wipe out the M23."

Rebels and Congolese government troops traded mortar fire on Monday close to the northern and western outskirts of Goma. The United Nations said that a shell fell on Tuesday 100 meters (yards) from Goma airport, with no victims reported.

Rwanda supported an allegation in the latest report by the U.N. Group of Experts that units of the Congolese army (FARDC) have been cooperating with the FDLR. [ID:nL2N0F41CW]

But Ignace Gata Mavita, Congo's U.N. ambassador, said that if it had not been for the instability created by M23, then joint military efforts by U.N. peacekeepers and the Congolese army would have been successful in wiping out the FDLR in Congo.

"The FARDC do not collaborate with FDLR and do not supply them with weapons of ammunition," he wrote to the council.

"Congo, whose civilian population are the only victims in the region who suffer the torments of repeated FDLR attacks, has no interest in seeing its army collaborate in any way with these destructive Rwandan forces."


Millions of people have died from violence, disease and hunger since the 1990s as foreign-backed rebel groups have fought for control of eastern Congo's rich deposits of gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt and uranium, destabilizing the Great Lakes region at the heart of Africa.

Moustapha Soumare, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Congo, warned that a return to fighting so close to inhabited areas placed thousands of civilians at risk.

Kinshasa has claimed that Rwanda was directly backing the Tutsi-led M23 rebels. A U.N. report said the group recruits in Rwanda with the aid of sympathetic military officers.

Colonel Hamuli showed Reuters two dead M23 fighters and two prisoners who he said had come from Uganda and Rwanda. One of the prisoners said he came from the Ugandan town of Rubaya, but it was not possible to verify this.

Both Rwanda and Uganda, which have in the past backed insurgents in Congo, deny any support for M23.

The 17,000-strong U.N. force in Congo, the world's largest peacekeeping mission, has been deployed for more than a decade but has failed to stem a conflict involving dozens of armed groups and complicated by national and ethnic rivalries.

The arrival of the Intervention Brigade has raised peace hopes. The World Bank is offering $1 billion to regional governments to promote development if they respect a U.N.-brokered February deal not to back rebels in Congo.

Peace talks between the Congolese government and M23 in Kampala, the capital of neighboring Uganda, have stalled.

"We have to go back to the negotiating table in Kampala. The solution has to be a political not a military one," M23 spokesman Amani Kabasha told Reuters.

Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende in Kinshasa said 180 rebels had been killed in the fighting but the government was still open to peace negotiations. Both sides in the conflict routinely exaggerate death tolls.

The Red Cross estimates that 66,000 Congolese have refugees fled into Uganda since Thursday after attacks by the ADF, an Islamist group which Kampala says is allied to elements of Somalia's al Shabaab movement, an al Qaeda-linked group.
India-China border dispute due to govt's poor policy, former Army chief VK Singh says
GUNA (MP): Former Army chief Gen (Retd) VK Singh said here on Tuesday that the current border dispute with China was caused by India's inept policy on the matter.

The former Army chief who came here along with Anna Hazare told reporters that China had fixed borders with all its neighbouring countries, except India.

Singh said that in the 1960s, Chinese premier Chou En Lai had given a map to India on the basis of which all claims and counterclaims were being made even today.

He said that China always attempted to grab more land from India and added that policies following by the Prime Minister's office and the Union external affairs ministry helped it.

None of the neighbouring countries are happy with India he said, adding, this would always remain the case until India had a sound foreign policy.
Army holds its ground

Stung by the renewed demand that it allow right-of-way through a sensitive piece of defence land in the district, the Army made it clear on Monday that doing so will hamper training and rake up issues of civilian safety.

The Army land at Mookkunnimala - which houses a firing range - is in the dead centre of a controversy with local people protesting against a reported move by the Army to fence off a path used by them. To an Express query, the Army stated that training of its personnel will be hampered if ‘’any unauthorised passage is permitted through the designated training area and sanitised zones.’’

‘’(The) Mookkunnimala land is wholly owned by the Indian Army and the defence land has been demarcated after due measurement and survey. The land is used for the training of the Indian Army. Such training which include weapon training has to be done with due precautions. Precautions include sanitisation of the area of any unauthorised personnel not only for security reasons but also for safety of civilian personnel,’’ a defence spokesperson said.

‘’The training will be hampered by frequent interruptions if any unauthorised passage is permitted through the designated training area and sanitised zones. The Indian Army is not authorised to amend or deviate from standard precautions and procedures necessary for proper training,’’ the spokesperson said.

Various organisations claiming to represent the local people had demanded the intervention of the state and central governments in the matter. Earlier this month, Attingal MP A Sampath too had shot off a letter to Defence Minister A K Antony urging him and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to force the Army to drop its move.

According to the Kerala Pattikajathi Varga Aikyavedi, the path in question was the only link for some 500 families to the outside world. Some years ago, the same demand had cropped up, but the issue had gradually died down.
Top China Army body says Ladakh intrusion was accidental
Terming the border stand-off with India in Ladakh's Depsang valley in April as accidental and not deliberately staged, the top military policy-making body of the People's Liberation Army has emphasised that China's defence policy remains defensive and that it does not see India's military modernisation as a threat.

In its first comments on the face-to-face situation in Depsang that had threatened to push bilateral relations to a new low, the PLA's Academy of Military Science (AMS) has said that "accidental incidents" that take place between "friendly neighbouring nations" such as India and China should not be mistaken as something that can possibly expand into large-scale aggression.

"When it comes to China's national defence strategy, there is one point that will never change and that is that we pursue a policy that is defensive in nature," Maj Gen Chen Zhou of the AMS, the key author of China's white paper on defence, told a group of visiting Indian journalists.

The April incident sparked tension between the neighbours after Chinese troops set up a temporary camp in the disputed Depsang valley, prompting a similar response by Indian troops.

Senior analysts and researchers at AMS sought to drive home the point that the incident was accidental in nature and that it should not be described as a "stand off". Beijing had said in the past that its troops had not crossed the border and were camping on the Chinese side of the disputed boundary line.

"Because we do not have a finalized order of the boundary lines between China and India, these kinds of incidents are unavoidable and take place but I disagree with the use of the word stand off...The confrontation on the border can be described as not deliberately staged," Col Ma Jun, a senior AMS researcher, said.

The resolution of the matter in less than a month proved that mechanisms to resolve such matters between the two nations work, he added. "Both sides are committed to solving the (boundary) issue through peaceful negotiations and maintaining the general picture of the state between China and India," he said.

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