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Monday, 14 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 14 Oct 2013
Def Min asks Army to provide security to TSD officer
New Delhi, Oct 13: Defence Ministry has asked the Army headquarters to provide security to the former commanding officer of the controversial  Technical Support Division after his wife feared threat to his life.
Wife of Col Hunny Bakshi, the former CO of TSD, wrote to Defence Ministry A K Antony saying there is a threat to his life from Lashkar-e-Toiba and Pakistani intelligence agencies.
The letter to the Defence Minister was written after leakage of a report by the Army Headquarters about the activities of the unit. The report contained information about the anti-terror operations conducted by the unit when it was operational, sources in the Army said.
The Defence Ministry has directed the Army headquarters to take steps to provide security to the CO and his family members last week.
The level of security cover would be based upon the threat perception assessed by the Intelligence Bureau to the persons concerned, they said.
Other persons connected with TSD, which includes former Army Chief Gen V K Singh, may also get security cover in future, if any need  was felt, the sources said. The Army Headquarters has already taken steps in this direction, they said.
Gen V K Singh was given Z Plus security cover till early this year, but it was withdrawn after the security review by the government  agencies concerned.
In her letter to the Defence Minister, Col Bakshi's wife has said that after the leakage of the contents of the report, "people's lives  have been put at risk, including that of my husband. He may now be hunted down by various terrorist organisations like LeT or by operatives  of the Pakistani intelligence services.
"Will you please take action to provide security to me and my family who we feel are under threat from various terrorist organisations  after these leaks, or will you wait till we are eliminated," she said. The controversial TSD was set up during the tenure of Gen V K Singh and was disbanded by the Army soon after the change of guard in May, 2012.
Indian, Russian Army to hold wargames in Rajasthan from October 18
JODHPUR: Army troops of India and Russia will hold wargames codenamed 'Ex INDRA' in the deserts of Rajasthan starting from October 18 to enhance bilateral cooperation.

"Exercise INDRA 2013 is the latest in series of planned Indo-Russian joint military exercises involving mechanised forces, which is scheduled to be conducted at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges," defence spokesperson Colonel SD Goswami said.

The exercise will be held from October 18 to 28 under the aegis of Jaipur-based headquarters of South Western Command.

The event is aimed to improve defence cooperation between both armies and enhance their ability to operate as integrated forces in a well-coordinated manner at the tactical level, within the framework of UN peacekeeping operations, he said.

Mahajan Field Firing Range in South Western Command has been developed into a world class training node in the last three years and is being used extensively for carrying out joint exercises with friendly countries like Russia, USA, UK, France, Thailand and Kazakhstan.

The exercise will be conducted in semi-desert terrain conditions, with troops of Russian Army operating along with Indian troops of South Western Command in an exercise to support peacekeeping operations.
Pak govt and its army anti-India: Shyam Saran
NEW DELHI: Refusing to buy into the view that the Nawaz Sharif government is a reluctant spectator as Pakistan's military escalates violence against India, national security advisory board (NSAB) chairman Shyam Saran feels India cannot ignore "ground level realities" exposed by the Keran encounter.

Speaking in his personal capacity, Saran told TOI that barring nuances, the civilian government and Pakistan Army are mostly on the same page on India.

"Differences between the Sharif regime and the military may be nuances at best. The civilian government may not want to go as far as the Army or ISI. It may place some restraint on Lashkar-e-Toiba. But this is a matter of degree," the former foreign secretary said.

"We should welcome a civilian, democratic government in Pakistan, and would like to see its hands strengthened vis-a-vis the military. However, we need to deal with the reality on the ground, which is continuance of cross-border terrorism and provocative action on the Line of Control (LoC). Engagement must seek to address this reality," he said.

The hard-nosed assessment runs counter to the view, held in some quarters in government, that the Sharif government is being hemmed in against its will by the military on India. It also sounds a warning over succumbing to Sharif's arguments that he needs "concessions" from India so that he gains leverage against the Pakistan Army.

Saran said he supports talks with Pakistan as he sees little merit in a "binary choice of appeasement or conflict". Breaking dialogue exposes bankruptcy of options - but India's responses must factor in what is happening on the ground. "Dialogue can be used to stress our red lines," he said.

Its approaching withdrawal from Afghanistan has made the US more receptive to Pakistan as it hunts for an elusive political settlement. This has encouraged Pakistan to up the ante on cross-border terrorism as Islamabad puts forward demands like a civilian nuclear deal on the lines of what India and the US have.

As US forces wind down in Afghanistan, Islamabad is seeking to reintroduce the "hyphen" in the Indo-Pak relationship that bedeviled New Delhi's engagement with the US until 9/11 suddenly reduced global tolerance for cross-border terrorism.

There is a broad consensus in Pakistan, said Saran, over regaining "strategic relevance" and this includes renewing pressure on India by increased cross-border violence.

This does not suggest, Saran said, that India should not explore all options in ensuring relations with Pakistan improve. "In fact, dialogue can be used to convey what is acceptable and what isn't," he said.

It is for the government to decide what aspects of any high level engagement regarding Pakistan it wants to highlight. If prime minister Manmohan Singh's remark during his visit to the UN about Pakistan remaining the epicentre of terrorism is a significant statement, it needed to be highlighted.
Low morale in the British Army DOUBLES in three years as defence cuts take their toll
Morale in the Armed Forces has plummeted in the last three years as jobs losses and pay cuts take their toll.

New figures show the number of soldiers in the British Army reporting low morale has doubled since 2010 to 30 per cent.

Ministers admitted deep cuts to the Defence budget and restructuring was having an ‘inevitable’ impact on the mood among troops.
The coalition's dramatic reductions in the size of the regular Army, ordering several rounds of redundancies to cut troop numbers from  102,000 to just 82,000.

At the same time there are plans to increase the size of the reserves from 15,000 to 30,000.
But the combination of pay freezes and job insecurity is having a devastating impact on those who remain.

New figures released to Parliament show 30 per cent of soldiers in the Army now have ‘low’ morale, up from 15 per cent in 2010.

At the same time the number reporting high morale has fallen from 59 per cent to just 40 per cent.
Kevan Jones, Labour's shadow defence minister, said: 'With the compulsory redundancies and uncertainty about future numbers, these statistics are hardly surprising.

'The way in which this government are treating servicemen and women and their families is shocking and is counter to all the promises they made at the last election about bigger armies and looking after members of our Armed Forces.'

Morale appears to have been least affected in the Royal Navy, with low levels reported by 28 per cent, up just three points since 2010.

Among Royal Marines, low morale is now reported by one in four, up from one in five three years ago.

Some 46 per cent of Marines said their morale was ‘high’ – the highest level of any of the forces.

In the RAF 29 per cent said morale was ‘low’ and 38 per cent said ‘high’.

The figures, released in Parliament to Labour MP Gemma Doyle, were drawn from the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey.

Defence minister Anna Soubry admitted spending cuts were to blame for the slump in spirits among the armed forces.

‘The recommendations of the Strategic Defence and Security Review have necessitated a series of difficult decisions, including reshaping our armed forces as we move towards “'Future Force 2020”,’ she said.

‘While issues such as headcount reductions and pay restraint have inevitably had an impact on morale, I continue to be impressed by the absolute dedication of our military personnel.’

The results of the survey are used by the Ministry of Defence to overhaul terms and conditions of service.
Miss Soubry added: ‘It is a key function of the chain of command to know their people, including levels of morale and performance.

‘Each of the services has mechanisms in place to ensure that issues are identified and acted upon.’

Cuts to the forces have raised emotions among serving personnel and veterans.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was heckled by a retired officer during his Tory conference last week.

Colonel Ian Brazier accused Mr Hammond of betraying members of the Royal Fusiliers by cutting the regiment back.

But Mr Hammond insisted the cuts were ordered by Army chiefs and not ministers.

Time to change course

COAS General Ashfaq Kayani has announced his intention to call it a day on 29th November. The decision came amidst intense media speculation that he might get a year’s extension, or go “upstairs” to a revamped Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff office, or even as Ambassador to Washington DC as reported by the reputable Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, the PMLN government’s decision to keep the CJCSC and Washington slots pending served to fuel such rumours. On an earlier occasion, General Kayani had said that he would retire as army chief on due date. Therefore the government should have announced an Ambassador to Washington when the cabinet was unveiled and nominated successors to General Kayani and CJCSC General Shamim Wynne last month.
General Kayani has presided, directly and indirectly, over the fate of Pakistan for over a decade. As DG-Military Ops, DG-ISI, Vice COAS and COAS (for six years), he was described by Forbes Magazine in 2012 as the “28th most powerful person in the world”. The record shows that he was either at the elbow of General Pervez Musharraf when the latter took some far-reaching decisions or was directly responsible for taking them himself as COAS. Consider his track record.
As DGMO in 2004, General Kayani backed General Musharraf’s decision to close the jihadi tap across the LoC and open up a back-channel with India to negotiate a long-term “out-of-the-box solution” for Kashmir. If that initiative had not withered on the vine because of acute political instability in Pakistan in 2007-08, it would have changed the landscape of South Asia. Yet the Lal Masjid in Islamabad was fortified for years by terrorists right under Gen Kayani’s nose as DG-ISI and he was remarkably ineffective when it exploded, plunging the Musharraf regime into disarray, instability and eventual loss of power. Indeed, the Pakistani-terrorist attack on Mumbai was planned on his watch as DGISI and actually happened when he was COAS, putting paid to the Kashmir plan for the last five years. The recent heating up of the LoC that scotched Nawaz Sharif’s plans to restart the back channel with India can also be laid at his door.
General Kayani as DG-ISI also helped negotiate the return of Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan in 2007-08 on the basis of an NRO so that a transition to representative democracy could take place. If Ms Bhutto had become prime minister, Pakistan would not have been in such dire straits today. Yet as DG-ISI he was also negligent, at best, and complicit, at worst, when the terrorist attacks on Ms Bhutto took place. It is a matter of fact, too, that as COAS he didn’t much cooperate with any of the fact-finding commissions and investigations to uncover the truth about her assassins.
General Kayani’s relationship with the Zardari regime remained problematic from Day One. His open defiance of the pro-democracy clauses in the Kerry-Lugar legislation sent the PPP government into a spin. The promotion, appointment and service-extension of General Ahmad Shuja Pasha as DG-ISI led to policies that alienated Pakistan from the United States and the elected PPP government from the military. The Raymond Davis affair was grossly mismanaged: first, public protest was whipped up against the government’s bid to let Davis off the hook; then, after the Americans read out the riot act to Generals Kayani and Pasha, Davis was whisked out of the country, leaving the government red-faced before an angry public and media. Worse, the government was seriously destabilized when Memogate was launched, compelling Ambassador Hussain Haqqani to resign, President Zardari to fall ill and flee to Dubai and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to accuse the ISI of being “a state within the state”. Worst, the outrageous US Navy Seal raid on a compound in the backyard of the military establishment in Abbotabad on May 2, 2011, destroyed the credibility of the ruling generals like never before.
General Kayani’s reputation as a premier “thinking” general cannot be denied. By the same token, however, he must bear the burden of his misguided strategic theories that have brought Pakistan to an “existential” crisis (his own words) in the last five years.  The “good Afghan Taliban, bad Pakistani Taliban” theory that has underpinned the army’s Af-Pak strategy has come a cropper because all forms and shades of Taliban and Al-Qaeda are one criminal network and the quest for a “stable and Pakistan-friendly” Afghanistan has foundered on the rock of big power dynamics.
It has been argued that General Kayani supported the cause of democracy by not imposing martial law when the chips were down for the PPP government. But the truth is that a fiercely independent media, aggressive judiciary and popular PMLN would have revolted against any martial law. The international community would not have supported it. And General Kayani’s own rank and file would have frowned upon it.
Under the circumstances, we hope the next COAS will change course and help the elected civilian leaders make national security policy to salvage our country.
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