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Sunday, 8 December 2013

From Today's Papers - 08 Dec 2013

 India ready with two-pronged approach on China
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 7
In a two-pronged approach on China, India is ready for additional military confidence-building measures (CBMs), but it is also set to announce the name of a Lieutenant-General-rank officer who will be the first to head the newly-created Mountain Strike Corps tasked to tackle threats originating from across the Himalayas.

The appointment is pending approval at the highest level in the government and is expected to be announced anytime now. On CBMs, New Delhi is okay with having a telephonic hotline between Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) on either side. The DGMOs will handle flash points at the local level along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that forms the boundary between the two countries.

As the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China does not have an officer designated as the DGMO, an equivalent in its military hierarchy would be identified, sources told The Tribune.

“From our side, we are okay with starting off with the DGMO-level hotline followed by a similar mechanism between regional armies on either side,” a senior functionary confirmed.

The regional armies would mean that the Udhampur-based Northern Command and the Kolkata-based Eastern Command in India will be connected over hotline with China’s Military Area Commands (MAC), Lanzhou and Chengdu, respectively.

The military confidence-building measures are off-shoots of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) signed on October 23 between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

The issue of hotlines will be come up during the fifth meeting of the ‘Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs’. The last meeting was conducted at Beijing on September 29-30. India will host the next round. India and Pakistan DGMOs have a hotline.

On New Delhi’s own military preparedness, sources said the name of the Lieutenant-General, the first to head the Mountain Strike Corps, was finalised at the Army Commanders conference in October.

His appointment is pending with the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) and an announcement is now inevitable. Once done, it will be the first step followed by force accretion using trained troops from existing formations. The Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) had cleared the Corps on July 17 and allocated Rs 64,000 crore over the next seven years.

The Corps will be based in Panagarh, West Bengal. One of the divisions (each with some 15,000 troops) will be stationed east of Chicken’s neck -- a name for the Siliguri corridor -- and the other located west of it.

Some six-to-seven brigades -- 5,000 troops in each -- will be littered across important ingress routes all along the Himalayas. The focus will be on rapid deployment using the road routes, sources said. It will have three artillery brigades, each with 90 guns.

An air-defence brigade carrying truck-mounted missiles and an aviation brigade with helicopters for attack, reconnaissance and heavy-lift support, besides planes for special operations, is part of it. The Corps will be the first offensive capability to launch a pincher attack on China as the three other existing Strike Corps based at Ambala, Mathura and Bhopal face Pakistan.


    As an additional confidence-building measure, New Delhi is okay with having a telephonic hotline between Director Generals of Military Operations on either side
    India is also set to announce the name of a Lieutenant-General-rank officer who will be the first to head the newly-created Mountain Strike Corps
 India closely watching China’s air defence Zone
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 7
Though it has avoided making any adverse comment on China establishing an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, New Delhi is keeping a close eye on the situation arising from the development.

China’s ADIZ envisages that aircraft flying through the zone must follow its rules, including filing flight plans. The ADIZ covers a set of islands-called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan-whose sovereignty is hotly contested by the two countries. The implementation of ADIZ is also likely to affect New Delhi-Tokyo route.

But India, despite being a key player in the India-Pacific strategic chess game, does not want to be seen to be taking sides just yet. External Affairs Salman Khurshid said New Delhi hoped the parties concerned would be able to find a peaceful solution to the issue through talks. New Delhi is drawing some solace from Beijing’s recent statement, ruling out establishing such a defence zone along the India-China border.
Jihadi fears force Kayani to leave retirement home
 ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's former army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani may have called it a day but still faces threats from militants and hence was forced to abandon his retirement house, a media report said on Friday.

Security threats have forced Kayani to leave his newly built retirement home. He has opted to live near a heavily guarded army house.

While he was still in service, Kayani planned to spend his retired life in Islamabad's Defence Housing Authority (DHA) where he constructed a house with a grey stone finish at a scenic location in Phase 1.

Perched on a corner plot, the house continues to stand apart in the housing colony. Its terraced gardens slope down to the River Soan. The plot in front remains vacant.

However, security experts felt that the house was a security threat because it was impossible to protect the rear end of the house (where the land sloped down to the river), Dawn daily reported. Although, the house has close circuit television for monitoring the security of the house but this was deemed insufficient.

Consequently, Kayani, months before his retirement, started constructing a new house in the heavily guarded and secure neighbourhood of the army house, the report said quoting a retired army officer living in the same area.
Vohra: Need to form national security doctrine
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra today stressed the need for a national security doctrine to ensure speedy production by defence public sector undertakings and cohesiveness in operations of three Services.
Vohra, who was Defence Secretary and Home Secretary during the PV Narismha Rao Government (1991 to 1996), was delivering the National Security Lecture-2013 on Civil-Military Relations: Opportunities and Challenges, organised by the United Service Institution of India, here today. Former Army Chief General Shankar Roychowdhury chaired the lecture.

Calling on all three Services to shed reservations and establish meaningful cohesiveness, Vohra said: "Any delay in the finalisation of the joint doctrine covering all aspects of integrated operations would come in the way of the Armed Forces preparing themselves for delivering an effective response when an emergency arises".

A separate national security doctrine, said Vohra, should form the basis of which integrated threat assessments could be made. The Defence Ministry must ensure that the ordinance factories, defence PSUs, DRDO establishments and others deliver on time. "Prolonged delays cause serious difficulties for the Armed Forces and large economic losses as the lack of certainty about supplies from indigenous sources compels expensive imports", he said while citing how during the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan, India resorted to imports.

He also touched upon the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), saying that the force is duty bound to ensure people’s civil rights are protected, it is equally necessary for the Centre and the affected states to collectively evolve an acceptable approach which ensures that the personnel of the military formations are provided the requisite legal protection.

Without naming former Army Chief General VK Singh, Vohra said needless controversies had marred the Army's glorious image.
Govt rules out 'hasty decision' on Gen No.1
 NEW DELHI: India will not get a General No. 1, a tri-service military chief, for the foreseeable future. The government has made it clear there is no move to appoint either a chief of defence staff (CDS) or a permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) soon.

Sources on Friday said the government "will not take a hasty decision" in the matter. "It needs serious discussions among various stakeholders. Such a decision can be taken only after a careful study and gauging the mood of all political parties," said a source.

This scotches all speculation that General Bikram Singh would be appointed as the permanent CoSC chairman once IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne retires on December 31, paving the way for present integrated defence staff chief Lt-Gen Anil Chait to succeed him as the Army chief. This would derail the chances of Eastern Army commander Lt-Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who is slated as of now to replace Gen Bikram Singh when he retires on July 31 in the normal course of things.

It also confirms the TOI report on Wednesday that the CDS post will continue to remain in cold storage, where it has been kept despite being strongly recommended by the GoM report on `Reforming the national security system' in 2001 after the Kargil conflict.

Moreover, the government will also not appoint a permanent CoSC chairman, recommended by the 14-member Naresh Chandra Taskforce in its report submitted to PM Manmohan Singh in May 2012, in the run-up to the general elections early next year.

The existing CoSC comprises the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs, with the senior-most of them acting as the "rotational" chairman till he retires. A permanent chairman, with a fixed two-year tenure, would mean a fourth four-star general in the CoSC as the "first among equals".

A post like CDS, or even its watered-down version like a permanent CoSC chairman, is desperately needed to provide "single-point military advise" to the government, manage the nuclear arsenal and resolve inter-Service doctrinal, planning, procurement and operational issues.

But the politico-bureaucratic combine, both in the NDA and UPA regimes, has kept meaningful defence reforms on the backburner. Some quarters have even gone as far as to suggest — completely erroneously — that appointment of "an all-powerful general" could invite the possibility of a military coup.

The defence ministry has rejected all the crucial recommendations of Naresh Chandra Taskforce, in its comments submitted to the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) under the PMO, as first reported by TOI in June. After collating comments from all the ministries concerned, the NSCS is supposed to present a consolidated proposal to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for consideration.

As per the taskforce, the permanent CoSC chairman would also be an invitee to the CCS and NSC as well as head the proposed Special Forces Command. MoD, however, said only "certain ministers" were currently invited for CCS and NSC meetings. "There is no scope for the proposed CoSC chairman to be placed in this category," it said.

The MoD has also rejected the need for "cross-staffing", or the posting of military officers to MoD to bridge the civil-military disconnect, holding that there were institutional mechanisms in place to ensure "joint consultations" as well as provide "integrated advise" to the defence minister.
Army opposes encroachment on defence land
The army has raised objections to the alleged encroachment on a defence land in Jaipur and issued a notice to civil authorities in Kota. The notice was served to Urban Improvement Trust (UIT) by the local military authorities recently for encroachment of defence land.

The army raised objection to construction of an overbridge, which, it claims, is 39 meters inside the defence land and alleged encroachment by two religious places, Central government office, 11 houses and shops.

"A site report prepared after a joint survey pointed out that the rail over bridge was being constructed on Defence Land. Therefore, notice has been issued to them for encroachment of Defence Land," Defence Spokesperson S D Goswami said. He said that during the survey, it came to light that construction is 39 metres inside defence land as per land settlement revenue maps.
Accordingly, in recent past, the Army has issued notices to 14 encroachers to vacate from its Defence land adjoining the over Bridge. The encroachers include a temple, dargah, Central Government office and 11 houses or shops, he added.

Chairman UIT Kota, Ravindra Tyagi, said that action will be taken after examining the notice. "The overbridge has already been dedicated to public. There are several encroachers on the defence land and we will take action after examining the notice," he said.

A legal advice sought from Central Government Standing Counsel (CGSC) has recommended notice to UIT Kota under Public Premises Eviction (PPE) Act 1971.
Choppergate: India questions middleman
 New Delhi, Dec 7 (IBNS) An Italian court allowed Indian authorities to question alleged middleman Guido Hashcke in a VVIP chopper scam involving India's defence ministry and AgustaWestland, the Anglo-Italian helicopter company owned by Italy's Finmeccanica.

A Milan court, while recording Haschke's statement, gave Indian officials present there an opportunity to question him.

Haschke said Indian air force officials were paid a bribe worth 6 million euros, while the bureaucracy was paid 8.4 million euros. He alleged some politicians were also paid huge amount of bribe in the scam.

AgustaWestland had been accused of bribery charges in the Rs. 4000-crore VVIP chopper deal with Indian defence department.

The company had denied all charges of paying kickbacks.

Besides bribing Indian officials for a 12-helicopter deal, Finmeccanica discussed kickbacks for a larger deal with a serving Brigadier in the Indian Army, an inquiry by Italian prosecutors had said.

The report by the investigators had said that an alleged middleman for helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland was seen touching the feet of former Air Force chief SP Tyagi.

The scandal involved kickbacks worth upto Rs 360 crores for the deal that was worth about Rs 4,000 crores and allegedly took place during the tenure of Tyagi who headed the air force from 2004 to 2007.

Tyagi had denied the allegations and had said that he met one of the alleged AgustaWestland middlemen just once contrary to the charges of "six or seven" meetings.

The middleman Haschke "confessed" that he met Tyagi six or seven times and once greeted him by touching his feet as a sign of respect, the Italian prosecutors had said.

Tyagi's family members were also linked to the scam but his brother vehemently denied it.

Italian police earlier arrested Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of state-controlled Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi in Rome for alleged bribes paid in order to secure the deal.

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