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Sunday, 15 September 2013

From Today's Papers - 15 Sep 2013
US-Russia reach agreement on Syria weapons
350 cadets pass out of Officers Training Academy
Chennai, Sept 14 (IBNS): The Passing Out Parade (POP) of the Officers Training Academy in Chennai was held on Saturday.

The SSC 96 and SSC(W) 10 Courses comprising of 350 cadets, including 70 lady cadets and 20 foreign cadets from Afghanistan, passed out from the academy.

"The impressive parade was reviewed by Lt Gen Ashok Singh, Army Commander, Southern Command alongwith Lt Gen SS Jog, Commandant, OTA, Chennai. The parade was witnessed by the proud parents of the passing out course, civilian dignitaries, NCC Cadets and selected school students of Chennai along with the officers and families of OTA and ATNK&K Area," the Indian Army said in a statement on Saturday.

"The POP is the most precious moment in a Cadet's life. In a glittering ceremony that marked the culmination of 49 weeks of rigorous and meticulous training, a total of 350 cadets marched in unison towards the final step to become young Lieutenants of the Indian Army and other friendly foreign nations," the Indian Army said.

The Chief of Army Staff Banner was awarded to Basantar Company.

Senior Under Officer Kuldeep Singh Baduriya received the 'Sword of Honour' for standing first in over all Order of Merit.

The gold medal and silver medal for standing second and third in over all Order of Merit were awarded to Academy Cadet Adjutant Yengal Dasu Rajesh and Junior Under Officer Nitin Singh Bisht respectively.

"The cadets were pipped by their parents in front of the Parameshwaran Parade Ground. The event was followed by an oath taking ceremony and National Anthem. Apart from the President's Commission to lead the world's third largest army, each of the newly commissioned Lieutenants would be awarded a Post Graduate Diploma in Defence Management and Strategic Studies by the University of Madras," the Indian Army said.

JUO Kanishk Sethi, who is a fourth generation officer and is commissioned into Mechanised Infantry, said: "We are really excited to join our units and want to experience the real life a soldier is undergoing… most of us will be going to borders where our units are deployed.".
Science graduate Mini Mohanan excited to join Army air defence

Chennai: Mini Mohanan, (22), a science graduate from Stella Maris College in the city, who will join the Army air defence unit near Srinagar as her first posting in the Indian Army, is looking forward to an adventurous life in the armed forces.

"Military life is a separate way of life unlike regular living. So, I am looking forward to the short service commission of 14 years and hope that the Army headquarters make it a permanent commission for women too," said Mini.

Mini was an Army cadet in the NCC during her college days and won the Best Cadet award at the Republic Day parade. Another achievement  was when she qualified as the only south Indian to represent the country in the Youth Exchange Programme at Singapore in 2010.

She was also the only girl from the Officers' Training Academy to take part in a cadet exchange programme in Australia. There were two gentlemen cadets with her. "I got an opportunity to train in Australia," she recalled. "I was able to get a broader view of the army apart from sharing the social, economic and cultural uniqueness of India with my counterparts in the army Down Under," she added. 

A native of Thrissur in Kerala, Mini's parents settled in Chennai and raised their two daughters in the capital city of Tamil Nadu. "As a child, my father would take me to the parade at the Marina beach and from then on, I became attracted to the uniform and was inclined to join the defence forces," recollected Mini.

She was also selected for training in the Air Force. "The first call letter came from the army and so, I took this up," said Mini.

When asked whether her parents would approve of her decision to join the army, Mini said that they were apprehensive initially, but then seeing her success in the NCC, they started encouraging her.
Army chief reviews ground situation in Ladakh
NEW DELHI: In the backdrop of stepped up Chinese incursions in eastern Ladakh, Army chief General Bikram Singh on Saturday visited the region for a first-hand review of the ground situation.

"Gen Singh had a detailed discussion with the chiefs of the Northern Command and 14 Corps on the operational preparedness of the Indian troops. He was also briefed on the prevailing security environment, infrastructure, development projects and various initiatives undertaken by the Army in Ladakh region,'' said an officer.

Indian and Chinese troops have had frequent "face-offs'' along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. There was a prolonged 21-day military stand-off in April-May, during which the two rival armies had pitched tents and carried out banner drills against each other after People's Liberation Army troops intruded 19 km into Depsang valley in the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector.

India has belatedly taken to strengthening its border infrastructure, which has included the reactivation of advanced landing grounds at DBO, Fukche and Nyoma, in response to China's massive build-up all along the 4,057-km LAC over the last 20 years.

Though this has irked China, the two countries are now gearing up to ink the new Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) that outlines several confidence-building measures (CBMs) to defuse face-offs and tensions along the unresolved LAC.
Tory MPs revolt over Army cuts
Ministers are facing a revolt by Conservative MPs over plans to cut the size of the regular Army by 20,000 while boosting the numbers of part-time soldiers.
 Some 25 backbenchers have written to Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, asking him to halt the proposals to disband regular infantry battalions.

The rebels tell the Coalition that it needs to make a choice on its financial priorities —"ensuring the defence of the realm or funding white elephants such as HS2 [the rail line]".

However, in a sign of the political heat surrounding the cutbacks, a source close to Mr Hammond accused critics of "sniping from the sidelines" and "talking down" the abilities of Britain's reservists.

Mr Hammond revealed last year that he wanted to double the size of the Territorial Army from 15,000 to 30,000 to plug the gap opened up by moves to cut the strength of the regular Army from 102,000 to 82,000.

Many of the cutbacks have gone through, but at least one more round of redundancies is expected to be announced in the next few months.

However, in a serious blow for the Defence Secretary, the backbenchers warn that the proposals will not deliver the expected cost savings.

They say the plans are "clearly born of financial necessity and not strategic design" and are "high-risk in this increasingly uncertain world".

The group, led by John Baron, the Tory MP for Basildon and Billericay and a former Army captain, says Mr Hammond's move will lead to a "capability gap" for Britain's forces, which will lose 20,000 "experienced and battle-hardened regular troops".

These will be replaced by "untested reservist personnel", the MPs add.

Mr Baron claims the plans were motivated by cost and not by an awareness of the challenges troops will face in the future.

The Defence Reform Bill, which contains the detailed plans for boosting the numbers of reserve troops, will be voted on in the Commons in the next few months. A substantial revolt could see the Government risking an embarrassing defeat.

Mr Baron, who says his fellow signatories include former ministers, claims there are "reliable reports of the Ministry of Defence's failure to meet its reserve recruitment targets", despite a recruitment drive including television advertisements with the aim of hitting 30,000 by 2018. The MPs say in their letter that serving ministers have failed to give them "comprehensive answers" and have called for full details of planned cost savings.

Critics of the plan to boost reserve numbers have also claimed they are flawed as many employers — in particular those running smaller firms — will not want to lose staff for several months while they are deployed overseas.

The MPs are calling for the regular Army cutbacks to be halted "at the very least ... until we are sure that the Army Reserve plans will work".

They add: "We suggest that the Government's reservist plans are already having a distorting effect on the ground. Well-recruited battalions are being disbanded whilst more poorly recruited, and therefore expensive, battalions are being preserved. Such a policy simply reinforces failure."

Ministers have admitted the plans to increase the Territorial Army are a "challenge" and say they have found an extra £1.8 billion to boost training, support and equipment in the reserves over the next decade.

An MoD source said last night: "The restructuring of the Army is well under way to make sure we tailor our forces to the budget available following the financial mess Labour left.

"Instead of the larger, ill-equipped forces of the past we are creating smaller but better-equipped forces for the future.

"Instead of sniping from the sidelines about decisions taken nearly three years ago, people with vested interests need to get behind our reserves rather than talking them down."

Other signatories to the letter include James Clappison (Hertsmere), Jack Lopresti (Filton & Bradley Stoke), Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Richard Drax (South Dorset), Philip Davies (Shipley) and Julian Lewis (New Forest East). Mr Clappison said: "I am a traditional Conservative who believes that defence should be our highest priority. We cannot take any risks with it."

The Government embarked on a round of cutbacks following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which provided for an eight per cent spending reduction for the MoD over four years. David Cameron admitted then that it would be a "step change in the way we protect this country's security interests".

As well as the reductions in personnel, HMS Ark Royal, the aircraft carrier, was decommissioned four years early, while the RAF's Harrier jump jets were axed, and planned Nimrod reconnaissance planes were cancelled.

There were reductions in the number of tanks and heavy artillery, while the total number of frigates and destroyers was planned to drop from 23 to 19 by 2020.

The next SDSR is slated for 2015 and the Prime Minister has warned there may have to be further defence cuts after that. Mr Baron says in an online commentary for "Plans to replace 20,000 regular troops with 30,000 reservists will prove a cut too far.

"It will not produce the cost savings envisaged, but will create unacceptable capability gaps which may yet cost us dear. Our future forces will need to be even more professional and flexible – shortcuts will be a high-risk strategy. It is quite clear the Government's proposals are decisions borne of financial necessity and not strategic design. Once again, it comes down to financial priorities, but here the stakes could not be higher — funding white elephants, such as HS2, or ensuring the defence of the realm."

An MoD spokesman said: "Tough decisions had to be taken to tackle the multi-billion-pound deficit left behind in defence by the previous government. We are reshaping our Armed Forces to ensure they are properly equipped and more adaptable to future challenges and threats.

"To bring us better into line with our closest allies, who make much more use of reserve forces, we are investing £1.8 billion in more modern equipment, increased training and incentives, as we build a fully integrated Army with regulars and reserves training and operating alongside each other.

"The Army is confident of its ability to increase the Army Reserve from a trained strength of 19,000 to 30,000."
South under-represented in Army

Chennai: South Indians, especially the people of Tamil Nadu, lag behind in joining the Army. Of the 350 gentlemen cadets who passed out from the Officers Training Academy on Saturday to become commissioned officers only 11 were from Tamil Nadu and 53 from South India.

Ilancheliyan M, one of the cadets and now an enlisted officer in the Gorkha regiment from Tamil Nadu, said, "There are fewer of us from South India. There is a need for awareness, it should be done more out of a sense of duty to serve the country."

Seventy women cadets passed out of the academy, of whom Lt Philomin Jennifer, 22, from Coim­batore, said, "I am proud to be in the Army. We want women to join the forces and then probably, we will be allowed into the combat areas." Speaking of the 49 weeks of training they had, she added, "We are given the same training as the men, we work side by side with them and women cadets were equally good. In fact, it's a motivation for us to perform better."

The ceremony was conducted amidst much cheering and several emotional moments for their families. The cadets marched under the supervision of Parade Commander Lt G. Santosh, their boots clicking smartly and white gloved hands swaying in unison. Lt General Ashok Singh, GOC-in-Chief, Army's Southern Command, who reviewed the passing out parade, told them that they were now entering the realm of an officer of the Indian army.

Lt Santosh recalled his experience at the academy when he said that their training was "hard and meticulous, harder even than that of the jawans. We would get barely three hours of sleep."
Lt Kuldeep Singh received the coveted Sword of Honour, which made him the best all round cadet of the year.

Will cherish days with Indian brothers: Afghan cadets

Chennai: Twenty cadets from Afghanistan completed their training at OTA on Saturday along with their Indian counterparts. On completion of their training they were excited about joining the Army back home and equally nostalgic of the days spent at the academy. Gentleman cadet Ishaq Karimi said, "The days we spent with our Indian friends will be cherished by us."

Recalling an incident he said, "There was a GC from Rajasthan who was a bit weak when it came to complete the 5 km  run in 25 minutes. We made it sure that he completed it on time by supporting him along the way."

Calling the Indian cadets brothers, another Afghani GC, Tamim Quarashi,  said, "Back at home, many of us were idling with life when we gave the exam and now here we are with goals and dreams to achieve a lot."

Speaking about his country, which is yet to recover from US-led invasion and a weak economy, Karimi said, "We have learnt a lot at the academy and we are confident of  making a difference at home, given a chance."

The only complaint the cadets had, was about the food. Karimi said, "The food is way too spicy for us. But with days we did got accustomed to it."

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