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Saturday, 20 July 2013

From Today's Papers - 20 Jul 2013
Mountain Strike Corps will add teeth to military might
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, July 19
India’s military response to act against any Chinese adventurism will get added teeth once the just-okayed Mountain Strike Corps is put in place. The first elements of the corps will be in place 12 months from now even as the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), while clearing the project last night, set out a seven-year programme for the full raising of 45,000 men and officers besides equipment, weapons, artillery guns, helicopters etc.

The next lot of C-130-J Super Hercules, a specialised plane for air-dropping troops, will be stationed at Panagarh in West Bengal. At present, the first lot of these planes is based at Hindon.

Sources said that Panagarh, located in the western part of West Bengal, could be the headquarters of the corps, but a final call would be taken soon. The corps will have two divisions — specially trained in mountain warfare — of the infantry and a school for training will be part of the corps raising.

Each division will have some 15,000 men. It has been suggested that one of the divisions be located in Assam while the other one could be in Bihar or Jharkhand.

These will be division headquarters while forward elements like brigades could very well be located in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

In addition to the two infantry divisions, there will be three artillery brigades. Each brigade has some 90 heavy guns like Bofors 155 MM which can fire at a distance of 35 km.

The guns will be a mix of Bofors, the under-production India-produced replicas of Bofors and the ultra-light howitzer which India is procuring from the US in a direct sale. Each division will be allocated one artillery brigade while the third one will be held as reserve.

The corps will also have a specialised air-defence brigade that will carry truck-mounted missile systems to react to an air attack by the enemy on any Indian formation.

The corps will be backed by a brigade of engineers that will rapidly provide support for civil works, rectify machines and lay bridges.

An aviation brigade will also be part of the corps that will include helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance. It will have attack helicopters and heavy-lift helicopters.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today welcomed the Mountain Strike Corps. Khurshid is part of the CCS which is headed by the Prime Minister. The Ministers of Defence, Home and Finance are also part of the CCS.

Corps will include

    Two divisions, specially trained in mountain warfare, of the infantry

    Three artillery brigades

    A specialised air-defence brigade

    An aviation brigade

    A brigade of engineers

China cautious

Beijing: China has reacted cautiously to India's proposal for the establishment of the Mountain Strike Corps along the Sino-Indian border, while the official media here ignored the development. — PTI
Hi-tech gadgets to replace traditional CRPF baton
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, July 19
It would take just the touch of a button to dispel a mob on rampage, rather than bringing in dozens of heavily equipped security personnel along with other paraphernalia like tear-gas shells or water cannons.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is equipping its Rapid Action Force (RAF) with a host of non-lethal hi-tech devices that would, to a large extent, replace the traditional baton and other means of employing force to disperse mobs.

Primary among the range of new gadgets being evaluated by the RAF are acoustic guns that transmit audio signals of specific frequency causing intense irritation in the ears leading to temporary disorientation. These are long-range devices and can be used from a distance.

Also in the pipeline are laser dazzlers that induce temporary blindness and battery powered batons that induce electric shock on touch or impact with the body. Tasers, which shoot electrically charged non-lethal darts immobilising the targeted person for a brief period are also on the wish list.

The force expects to start procuring the new equipment by the end of this year.

The RAF was raised in 2012 as a specialist force comprising young and handpicked personnel for quick deployment in communally sensitive areas to handle adverse law and order situations, control mobs and provide immediate succour to the violence-hit.

Over the years, mob behaviour has undergone changes and violent or subversive elements now have greater access to tools of destruction and communication. The explosion of information technology, enabling quick and virtually unmonitored communication has added another dimension to law and order situations.
Army to have Apache attack choppers in Mountain Strike Corps
NEW DELHI: The mountain strike corps sanctioned for the Army for deployment along the China border will have an aviation brigade that may include the Apache attack choppers.

The corps was sanctioned by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) yesterday at a cost of Rs 65,000 crore and would involve raising of around 50,000 troops for it.

The new corps may have the Apache attack choppers as the Defence Ministry has given permission to the Army for having a separate case for procuring the American-manufactured helicopters, sources told PTI here.

The Army and the IAF were engaged in a tussle for control over the attack helicopter fleet in which the government decided in favour of the former.

The two forces then contested for the 22 Apache attack choppers being procured from the US by the IAF but the Defence Ministry decided that they would remain with the IAF and the future assets would be given to the Army.

The government has given permission to the Army for pursuing a separate Foreign Military Sales-route procurement on the issue, they said.

Under the plans, the new strike corps will have two Mountain Infantry divisions including around 18 infantry battalions along with independent brigades of artillery, air defence and elements of combat engineers and mechanised forces.

The corps will take around six years to be raised along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and new formations would be raised from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh.
Army Major General found dead under mysterious circumstances in his Delhi house
New Delhi: A serving Major General was found dead under mysterious circumstances in his Dwarka home in South-West Delhi today, police said.

According to the police, Rajpal Singh, Additional Director-General of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in Bihar and Jharkhand, was found dead in his residence this evening. A police team, along with senior officials, visited the spot to ascertain the cause of death.

Singh was posted in Patna and had apparently come to Delhi on leave, said a senior police offcer. The army will hold a Court of Inquest to find out the reasons for his death and after that, if required, a Court of Inquiry will also be held.
After the Court of Inquest is held, the army can proceed with providing finacial benefits to the family of the officer, army official said.
Army battalion to reach out to ex-servicemen
The 'Reach out programme' of the army will culminate in an 'Ex-servicemen contact meet' to be organised by 6th Battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry at Ferozepur, Jalandhar and Pathankot, on July 20, 22 and 24, respectively, and adopting deserving old-age ex-servicemen by the battalion.

During the meet, all ex-servicemen would also be educated on various benefits and assistance available through the state and central governments, read a release issued by the army authorities.

The 6th Battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee of Raising on October 1, 2013.

The battalion was raised by Lt Col PK Nandgopal (retd), MVC, at Meerut on October 1, 1963. Immediately on its raising, the unit played a major role in thwarting the Pakistani juggernaut in the Chhamb Sector in 1965.

Having suffered heavy casualties while denting the Pakistani offensive, the battalion regrouped immediately and was tasked with the recapture of Kalidhar feature.

The daring assault on the feature and the successful completion of the task, against all odds, earned the battalion the Battle Honour of 'KALIDHAR'.

The battalion, after having earned glory in 1965 and 1971 wars, subsequently contributed immensely in combating insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.

The unit was awarded with the prestigious J&K Governors' Silver Salver and Unit Citations by the GOC-in-C, Northern Command, and Chief of the Army Staff in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

Considering the excellent operational record, the battalion was nominated to serve under the UN flag in United Nations Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to with commendable efforts, the unit was awarded with Unit Citations from the Force Commander.

To commemorate the invaluable sacrifices made by officers, JCOs and ORs of the battalion in the service of nation in last 50 years, the battalion had undertaken a 'Reach out programme' to attend to the concerns of its ex-servicemen.

The arduous task of contacting each one of the 2,760 ex-servicemen and the war widows commenced with multiple Junior Commissioned Officer-led teams, reaching out to the ex-servicemen and their families at various villages in Punjab, with effect from this March.

On having collated the problems being faced by them and listened to their concerns, efforts were undertaken to settle the issues by approaching the concerned authorities.
Egypt’s army fires tear gas at pro-Morsi protesters near presidential palace
Egypt's army fired tear gas and clashed with supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo as thousands of demonstrators marched towards the presidential palace. Protests organized by the Muslim Brotherhood have been taking place throughout Egypt.

Military forces fired tear gas in Cairo Friday evening, as a group of pro-Morsi protesters aimed to break through the army line near the presidential palace in Heliopolis. According to state news agency MENA, the soldiers attempted to hold back the crowds from a nearby street, where rival anti-Morsi demonstrators are rallying.

Egypt’s Interior Minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, said on Friday that security forces “will not allow Morsi loyalists to reach Tahrir Square, as other [anti-Morsi] political forces have already announced gathering in the square,” Ahram Online reported.

The minister warned that the army would “counter any attempts to cause violence” and urged the demonstrators to “stick to peaceful protests.” He vowed that the army is “committed to secure demonstrations,” whether in Tahrir or Al-Nahda Square or Rabaa Al-Adawiya, as long as the protesters “do not resort to vandalism or violence.”
 Earlier, scuffles were reported near Al-Azhar University in Cairo after unknown men threw rocks at pro-Morsi demonstrators marching from Al-Azhar mosque, according to Al Jazeera. 

Tens of thousands of Morsi supporters have been stopped en route from Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque to Abbassiya, where Egypt’s Ministry of Defence is located, Ahram Online reports.

The Egyptian media reported that the demonstrators were marching to the Republican Guard House in Cairo.

Some of the pro-Morsi protesters have stormed Abbasiya Hospital for Mental illnesses, climbing through fences and setting up camp in the hospital’s garden.

Traffic was grounded on nearby Salah Salem Road, as some 5,000 demonstrators gathered around the hospital.
One militant killed in J&K's Gurez as Army foils second infiltration bid in July
A group of three to four heavily armed militants tried to sneak into Gurez sector near Nani Post in the wee hours of Friday, official sources said.
Army on Friday foiled an infiltration bid along the Line of Control in Gurez sector of Jammu and Kashmir, killing a militant in the operation.

A group of three to four heavily armed militants tried to sneak into Gurez sector near Nani Post in the wee hours of Friday, official sources said.

The sources said the infiltrators were challenged by the army and asked to surrender. However, the militants opened fire towards the army positions, which was retaliated.

In the ensuing gunbattle, an unidentified militant was killed while his accomplice fled back across the LoC, they said.

Search operations in the area are still in progress, the sources said.

This is the second infiltration bid by militants this month. Five militants were killed when Army foiled an infiltration bid in Keran sector on July 9.
Army jawans gang up with criminals, commit burglary
Arunachal Pradesh police arrested four army jawans, who ganged up with criminals and committed burglary at a house on the outskirts of Itanagar.

Within hours of the incident, 18 convicts, including 13 who were allegedly involved in the  gang rape of a girl, escaped by breaking a cell for the under trial prisoners (UTP) at Chowkam in the state’s Lohit district.

Armed with assault rifles, the jawans teamed up with five criminals to carry out the burglary.

The personnel belonged to 138 Medium Regiment based at Likabali near Itanagar but were deployed in adjoining areas of Assam’s North Lakhimpur district. A colonel later identified the quartet as naib subedar RK Yadav and riflemen Pradeep Kumar, Arun Sarkar and P Chandu.

“They were intercepted at the Banderdewa check gate following information that they were fleeing in an off-roader after looting Rs6.89 lakh from a local,” superintendent of police Nabam Gungte told dna.

The police seized three AK-47 rifles, six magazines, 180 live cartridges, two bottles of unidentified chemicals and 718 pieces of paper for making currency notes.

“Those arrested said they were also involved in an illegal money multiplying scheme,” Gungte said. The accused were produced before a chief judicial magistrate on Friday. The police sought 14 days’ custody.

Meanwhile, the incident of the escape of convicts took place at a police outpost in the wee hours of Friday.

“They were lodged at an UTP cell. The accused made a hole in the wall and escaped by climbing the fence,” inspector K Deori of the outpost said.

It was learnt that it was an old UTP cell and on the verge of collapse.

“Several teams of the police are scouting the jungles but so far, they haven’t been able to nab any,” Deori said.
Thirteen of those who fled were gang rape accused while two were members of a militant organisation.
Army officer held for shooting wife
GURGAON: An army officer was on Friday arrested here for shooting at his wife and two others after a tiff with her. Her condition was critical, police said.

Kuldeep Singh, 43, a subedar major posted at Rohtak in Haryana, fired two gunshots at wife Rajbala alias Raj, 39, at her parental house in Rajiv Nagar in Gurgaon.

The accused wanted her signatures on some documents but she declined to sign. He was to retire in the coming months and the papers were related to that, said a police officer.

The victim was living separately from her husband for nearly three years, police officer Satender Singh said.

Anil Kumar, 25, a relative of Rajbala and a medical student, and Ritesh, 22, a tenant in the area, were also injured in the attack.
In China face-off, India to create new Army corps, deploy 50,000 addl troops
Boosting Army's war fighting capabilities along the Line of Actual Control, in wake of numerous instances of incursion by neighbouring country, India today gave 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 said.

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, all of them 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.
The Army will raise the troops and formations as per its plans in next seven years.
The Army has been taking a number of steps to strengthen its defences along the China border and already raised two divisions there in recent past.

The force is also planning to procure ultra-light howitzers, light tanks and helicopters to be deployed along the LAC to strengthen Indian positions there against the backdrop of the major military infrastructure modernisation on the Chinese side, sources said.
The Army and the IAF have also plans of deploying ballistic and cruise missile units in the northeastern region and have also activated several helipads and air fields for its aircraft and choppers to operate in the north eastern sector.
India’s $4 bn howitzer gun buying spree: Why Russia may not have an edge
India has begun the process of acquiring howitzer guns of various types. The contracts would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars each and their combined value is likely to be well over a billion dollars.

India has set aside $4 billion for its artillery projects, neglected for decades largely due to political controversies and corruption scandals. The development is significant for two reasons.

One, the Indian Army has not purchased a single gun since the infamous Bofors deal 27 years ago, a deal that rocked the Indian political establishment and implicated then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and other senior Indian officials. Eventually though none of the charges could be proved.

Two, the gun deals may be going through despite the fact that India, due to have general elections in less than ten months, seems to have put an unannounced freeze on any defence deals, particularly with foreign companies.

Russia will have have an important role to play in at least one of the upcoming howitzer contracts, expected to be worth around $350 million. Russian Rosoboronexport seems ideally suited for supplying 100 self-propelled tracked howitzer guns to the Indian Army and the trials are slated to begin later this month itself.
Rosoboronexport is likely to be pitted against an unlikely rival: Larsen&Toubro, an Indian company. L&T has been issued industrial licenses for a wide range of products after Government of India’s decision to open up defence production to the private sector. The licenses issued cover design, development, construction/ manufacturing and assembly of a wide range of defence equipment, arms and armaments and weapon launchers.

Insiders say that L&T is expected to give the Russian company very stiff competition. The L&T howitzers have been built in collaboration with South Korean Samsung Techwin, which means that the Russian companies’ rivals in the Indian defence industry are increasing by the day.

The South Korean company has already signed a contract with L&T for making key technologies available to the Indian company and producing the guns here.

This sends out another important message to the Russian defence industry that has not done too well in the Indian defence sector lately, and the Russians have lost out to American, European and even Israeli companies on several big-ticket defence deals.

The message is this: the Russians need to develop Indian partners, the more the better, as recent policy guidelines from the Indian defence ministry have laid huge stress on the ‘buy Indian’ theme.

Indian Defence Minister AK Antony’s statement in Parliament on 6 May should leave no one in doubt on this score.

This is what he said while confirming the upcoming contract for 100 guns: “A case for procurement of Qty.100 x 155mm/52 Caliber Tracked (self-propelled) guns is in progress wherein three Indian vendors, including two private sector companies, have been selected for trials of their equipment. The recent amendments to the DPP-2011 which have been accepted by the Defence Acquisition Council aim to give higher preference to indigenous capacity in the Defence Sector.”

The recent Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) guidelines have made it clear that the Indian government will choose to import defence goods only as a last resort and in cases where the required technologies are not available within the country. However, these guidelines have left enough room for foreign companies to forge joint ventures with Indian companies.

The Indian Army modernisation programme is quite ambitious. It has plans to induct 2,814 guns of different types, capabilities and calibre. Assuming for argument sake that the Indian Army was to induct all these guns, from foreign as well as domestic sources, at one go, it would cost around ten billion dollars at current exchange rates.

However, the actual process will take years. The current contract of 100 guns itself is unlikely to be inked this year as the trial phase itself would spill over to the first quarter of next year. The guns will be undergoing winter trials this year-end.

Moreover, given the renewed focus on self-reliance and indigenisation, the Indian Army has asked the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board to deliver over 300 indigenous versions of Bofors guns.

The Indian Army’s current guns stock is believed to have touched an all time low of just about 200 operations guns of 155/39 caliber, one of the reasons behind the then Army Chief General VK Singh shooting off a no-holds-barred letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the dire state of Indian military preparedness last year.

There is yet another message for the Russians that booms out loud and clear from the Indian guns saga. The Russians need to translate their deep political clout with the Government of India into bagging big Indian defence contracts through the government-to-government route.

In May last year, the Indian defence ministry had cleared a $660 million deal for buying 145 ultra-light M777 guns from the United States. The move was duly cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council headed by the defence minister. A significant feature of the M777 deal is that the guns are being bought under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme of the US government, a government-to-government route.

The Russians are not unaware of this. In fact, the new Russian strategy vis a vis Indian defence industry will be very much visible in the upcoming top-level Indo-Russian bilateral exchanges from September onwards.
Chinese army choppers violated Indian airspace on July 11

New Delhi, July 15: Two Chinese Army helicopters violated Indian airspace on July 11 in the Chumar sector in Ladakh, days after their soldiers intruded and took away an Indian surveillance camera. The PLA choppers violated Indian airspace in the Chumar sector on July 11 around 0800 hours and returned after flying for some time there, sources said. However, Army sources played down the incident, claiming the two People's Liberation Army (PLA) choppers were only flying close to the Indian airspace and had not entered inside our territory. The two Chinese choppers were probably carrying out a reconnaissance of the area, sources said. The incident happened soon after Defence Minister A K Antony's visit to China when the two sides discussed measures to enhance peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control. Chumar has seen a number of incursion incidents in the recent past including an incident on June 17 where Chinese troops took away an Army surveillance camera meant for keeping an eye on the PLA troops patrolling there. Chumar, 300 km from here, is the same area where Chinese troops triggered tensions in April smashing some bunkers besides cutting wires of cameras installed at the border post. Chumar has always been an area of discomfort for the Chinese troops as this is the only area along the China-India border where they do not have any direct access to the LAC. India and China have been working towards signing a border pact to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LAC where a number of incursion incidents have been observed in the recent few months. More than a couple of years ago, Chinese troops had entered the Indian territory using their Mi-17 medium lift choppers and dropped food and other supplies in Ladakh.

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