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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

From Today's Papers - 03 Dec 2013

 Army Chief leaves for US
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh today left for the US to further the defence cooperation between the two countries and increase defence engagements under the 2005-signed New Framework for India-US Defence Relations.

The Indo-US Defence Cooperation is one of the most intense bilateral engagements between the two countries outside the framework of structured alliances. Since 2005 the two countries have conducted some 30 exercises from the Air Force, Navy and the Army.

General Bikram Singh will visit important establishments of the US Armed Forces and meet high-ranking defence and civilian officials. The Army Chief will also be inducted into ‘The Hall of Fame’ at the Army War College, of which he is an alumnus having done the course in 2004, as also the recipient of the ‘International Toastmasters Award’ for public speaking.
Pakistan pitches for full-spectrum dialogue with India
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 2
The Pakistan army headquarters has issued a directive to its corps commanders and troops not to initiate anything that could be construed as a violation of the ceasefire with India along the Line of Control (LoC), outgoing Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir said today.

At a media interaction at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club here, he said both countries had also asked their respective DGMOs to fix a date for a rare face-to-face meeting between them, as was agreed upon between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York.

His comments are significant in view of the rapid deterioration in relations between the two countries following the beheading of an Indian soldier in January and frequent ceasefire violations thereafter by Pakistani troops, which led New Delhi to put the dialogue on hold. Pitching for the resumption of a “full-spectrum” dialogue between the two countries, Bashir said he had reasons to believe that bilateral relations would be on an “upward trajectory” in the coming months, if not sooner.

He emphasised that Pakistan was not in any way seeking to underestimate the Mumbai attacks while calling for the resumption of dialogue. A lot of time had been lost due to various reasons, but things were now moving in the right direction in taking the trial of the accused to its conclusion.

He was hopeful that speedy steps would be taken in Pakistan so that ‘’we can put aside what is an emotive issue in India”.
 Bashir Speak

    Troops told not to initiate anything that can be construed as a violation of the ceasefire along the LoC
    Need to resume dialogue between the two countries as a lot of time has been lost due to various reasons
    Won’t allow pushing the Jammu and Kashmir and Siachen issues to the side, all issues need to be settled peacefully
Gen Singh's US visit to focus on Afghan drawdown, gun purchase
Withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and the issue procurement of ultra light howitzers are expected to be high on the agenda of Army chief Gen Bikram Singh during his four-day visit to the US starting today.

During the three-day tour, Gen Singh would also be inducted in the US Army War College 'Hall of Fame'. He had done a course from there in 2004, Army officials said here.

"The visit assumes special significance in the light of enhanced defence cooperation between the two countries over the last few years and rapidly increasing defence engagements under the new framework for India-US defence relations," an Army release said.

During the India visit of his US counterpart, Gen Singh had raised the issue of withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and the resultant security situation in the region after that.

He had expressed his concern over the emerging security scenario there.

The Army chief is also expected to discuss the ongoing defence procurement cases between the two sides including the procurement of M-777 ultra light howitzers which are being bought from the US.

Noting that present cooperation between the two sides was on a rise, the Army release said it "encompasses equipment procurement, exchange of delegations, training and conduct of joint exercises. It is notable the US undertakes maximum number of joint exercises with India amongst all nations."

During his stay, the Army chief will visit important establishments of the US military and meet a number of high- ranking defence and civilian officials.
General Kayani hands over charge
 After heading the Pakistan army for six years, General Ashfaque Parvez Kayani on Friday handed over charge to the new Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif at a ceremony in Rawalpindi.

Speaking on the occasion General Kayani dwelt on the sacrifices of the soldiers and the range of challenges for the military. He referred to the role of the army in establishing peace in some of the country’s most difficult areas after taking on terrorism. He also underscored the support of the military and its contribution to the nation.

General Kayani was the army chief for six years, all during civilian rule and given an extension after three years by the previous regime. He called on people to rise above sectarian and other prejudices and play a positive role for the development of the country. He also said the army was ready to meet internal and external challenges. He had earlier publicly supported the government’s move for a dialogue with Taliban.

He retires after serving the army for 44 years and he said it was a great honour for him to lead the institution. In October General Kayani responding to rumours about his post retirement future, said that institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence. He also indicated that the armed forces of Pakistan fully support and want to strengthen this democratic order.

His statement had come after intense speculation that he would be made Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) in a new and more powerful avatar after General Khalid Shameem Wynne retired. During the All Parties Conference in September General Kayani had indicated the army’s support for a dialogue process with the Taliban. Later he refuted talk that he favoured a dialogue since army operations had failed to root out terrorism. He defended the military operation in Swat as an example where the army was successful and had even helped people who were internally displaced to return home. On India too he had regretted what he described as “unfortunate, unfounded and provocative” some statements by the Indian military leadership, particularly, the Indian Army chief alleging Pakistan Army and the ISI’s support to terrorism. He had supported Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s peace overtures to India and said the Pakistan Army is fully supportive of the peace process initiated by the government.
Tri-service military chief requires structural reform
The government’s readiness to appoint a four-star general as India’s first tri-service military chief, reported in this paper on Monday (“Government poised to appoint tri-service chief”, December 2), will be widely welcomed. For decades, India’s strategic community has urged the creation of a single-point military advisor to the government, who would also oversee matters that relate to all three services.

Yet, it would be insufficient to merely appoint army chief, General Bikram Singh, as the first permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (Chairman COSC), and bump up Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Anil Chait as army chief. If these appointments are not accompanied by structural reform, they might seem no more than cynical ploys with an eye on the coming elections.

It must be remembered that the Naresh Chandra Task Force (NCTF) last year recommended the appointment of a permanent Chairman COSC as a “half-way house”. This was after the ministry of defence (MoD) had shrunk from appointing an empowered five-star officer as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), which the Kargil Review Committee had recommended in 1999 and a Group of Ministers (GoM) subsequently endorsed in 2001. An earlier compromise involved the setting up of an Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), commanded by a three-star officer, which has not succeeded in taking on many functions from an army, navy and air force that guard their turf zealously. Without structural empowerment of the new Chairman COSC, he might turn out to be no more than an IDS chief with one additional star.

“The approach recommended by the Naresh Chandra Task Force is to create an organisation around an appointment rather than create an organisation and then consider appointments best suited for the system,” says Rajneesh Singh of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

The first structural issue that must be addressed, say analysts like Dr Anit Mukherjee, is the absence of integration between the MoD and the three service headquarters. Instead of manning MoD departments with a mix of bureaucrats and military personnel who function jointly, there is a bizarre two-stage system in which the military proposes and the MoD rejects. Army, navy and air force headquarters, which are categorised as “attached offices” to the MoD, submit proposals and recommendations to the MoD for sanction. The MoD, with every crucial decision-making position manned by non-specialised civilians, seldom accepts these proposals. Usually these are sent back with queries, with this back and forth delaying action endlessly.

The mere appointment of a permanent Chairman COSC will do little to resolve this issue. The new appointment must be charged with ensuring substantive integration between the MoD and the three services, in coordination with the defence secretary. The COSC headquarters must have an even mix of military officers and bureaucrats, with cross-posting being extended to the MoD and the service headquarters.

A second identified problem is the unhealthy concentration of power within the three military headquarters. The service chiefs function as chiefs of staff and also commanders-in-chief, managing the gamut of operations, policy planning, human resources, training and equipping. With operations understandably enjoying precedence, there is little emphasis on long range force structuring, equipment planning and human resource development.

One solution is to charge theatre commanders with responsibility for operations, while army, navy and air force headquarters could handle policy planning, force structuring and administration. The COSC’s integrated headquarters could handle inter-service coordination, with the Chairman COSC the government’s go-to person for military matters.

Creating the structures for this separation must be a specified task of the new Chairman COSC. One option is the creation of US-style integrated theatre commands, with regional commanders allocated army, navy and air force units for their operational tasks. For example, the currently separate southern commands of the army, navy and air force could be integrated into a single tri-service command that could optimally harness the combat power of all three services.

Modern western militaries follow one of two distinct models. The US, with its global responsibilities, has independent theatre commands, such as the Pacific Command, Central Command, etc. Each of these are equipped with land, air and sea units, bureaucrats and political departments needed for independent campaigns. The theatre commander, a four-star general or admiral, reports directly to the US president, through the secretary for defense. In Washington, there is a centralized Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC), headed by a five-star chairman. The army, navy, air force and marine corps chiefs plan, train and develop human resources, leaving the theatre commanders free to handle operations independently.

The smaller British, French, Canadian and Australian militaries place their army, navy, air force and marine units directly under their respective four-star service chiefs. These service chiefs answer to a five-star Chief of Defence Staff, who could be from any service. The CDS reports to the minister in charge of defence.
Army Chief Gen Singh goes to US with ultra light howitzer purchase list
New Delhi: Withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and the issue of procurement of ultra light howitzers are expected to be high on the agenda of Army chief Gen Bikram Singh during his four-day visit to the US starting today.

During the three-day tour, Gen Singh would also be inducted in the US Army War College 'Hall of Fame'.

He had done a course from there in 2004, Army officials said here.

"The visit assumes special significance in the light of enhanced defence cooperation between the two countries over the last few years and rapidly increasing defence engagements under the new framework for India-US defence relations," an Army release said.

During the India visit of his US counterpart, Gen Singh had raised the issue of withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and the resultant security situation in the region after that.
Key Indo-US defence meeting postponed; army chief on US visit

The Indo-US defence engagement looks all set to be taken forward by the next government with the high-level Defence Policy Group (DPG) meeting on December 4-6 in Washington postponed at the behest of the Obama administration. The postponement comes after the deputy secretary of defence Ashton Carter, who was assiduously handling the Indian account, demitted office on November 30.

Senior officials said that the name of former US under-secretary of Navy Robert Orton Work is doing the rounds as the next US deputy secretary of defence. A former Marine, Work demitted office at the Navy in March 2013.

While the South Block is trying to fix a new date for the meeting in February 2014 to be headed by defence secretary R K Mathur and US under-secretary of defence James Miller, the chances of date finalisation are minimal till a new deputy secretary of defence is appointed by president Barack Obama. Even the the apex Senior Technology Security Group (STSG), which is headed by secretary (defence production) G C Pati from the Indian side is not likely to meet with the defence ministry planning to club all the bilateral meetings together. The last meeting of the umbrella DPG took place in September 2012.

While India has been outright purchasing arms through the foreign military sales route from the US, the defence ministry seems reluctant towards joint ventures with the American defence contractors or moving towards bilateral exercises involving complex manoeuvres. This is partly due to the historical baggage of the cold war and partly due to the assumption that China may misconstrue the moves as India moving into the US camp.

Meanwhile, Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh is on an official trip to US from December 2 to 6. He will be inducted in the hall of fame at the US College of Combat, where he is an alumnus. Singh is also scheduled to meet the US army chief and the under-secretary of army and will have first-hand experience of weapon systems that the military is looking for. This includes Javelin anti-tank guided missile and M-777 155 mm ultra-light field howtizers.
Who is Pakistan’s New Army Chief?
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif has been appointed as the new military chief of Pakistan’s army and Lieutenant General Rashad Mahmood as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi on Friday after a major reshuffle took place within the Pakistani military.

General Ashfaq Perviz Kiyani, who retired on November 28, handed over command of the army to Raheel Sharif on Friday.

The change of command occurred at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the GHQ in Rawalpindi which was attended by Pakistani federal ministers, services chiefs, diplomats and senior serving and retired officers.

Kiyani thanked and praised military officers and soldiers for their service and sacrifice in protecting the country and playing their role in the “war on terror.” He also paid special tribute to those killed during the “war against extremism” that the country was going through, including the women and children who lost their  lives.

The Chief of Army Staff is the most coveted position in the military due to its control of the intelligence and security services in Pakistan’s 180 million citizens.

Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif, the head of the world’s sixth-largest army, faces enormous internal and external challenges. Tension with arch-rival India over disputed Kashmir is rising over the Line of Control – a boundary which separates the region in two, with one part under Indian sovereignty and one under Pakistani.

Moreover, right-wing political parties like Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and Jamaat-e-Islami are on a strike in northwestern Pakistan demanding the Pakistani government to sideline itself from the US-led war on terror and to stop US drone strikes in Pakistani territory. In the meantime, the United States is seeking Pakistan’s help in bringing peace to Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal of allied forces there in 2014.

As the new army chief, Sharif will face many challenges including the threat posed by religious extremists in Quetta and Karachi and internal political tensions raised by right-wing Pakistani political parties demanding an end to US drone strikes and holding talks with Taliban insurgents.

Will Sharif continue the fight against the war on terror? If so, he will be tasked to provide safe supply routes to NATO convoys which use Pakistani roads and ports. Sharif  has the daunting task of simultaneously satisfying the demands of Washington and conservative parties in Pakistan who want a reduced Western influence in the country.

Additionally Sharif has to make important decisions on Kashmir with India and tackle religious radicalism in Karachi and Quetta.

Kiyya Qadir Baloch is a freelance Baloch journalist associated with the Daily Times based in Islamabad. He reports on foreign affairs, Baloch insurgency, militancy and sectarian violence in Balochistan. Read other articles by Kiyya.

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