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Saturday, 28 June 2014

From Today's Papers - 28 Jun 2014

 New building to house tri-services command
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 27
A new building that will house tri-services’ military headquarters will come up in the national capital.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley laid the foundation stone of the building this morning in the Delhi Cantonment. Army Chief General Bikram Singh said: “When we prepare the blueprint of the building, we will keep in mind that we develop a capability where we can direct future wars from this building”. He said the building would be of no use if it does not have a facility where the three services chiefs could sit together in a basement during the times of a war.

The tri-services Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) was set up on the basis of recommendations of a high-level Kargil review committee formed in the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan. A Lieutenant General rank heads the organisation.

Speaking on the occasion, Jaitley said the government would provide support for the construction of the building.
VVIP copter deal: CBI quizzes West Bengal Governor
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 27
The CBI today questioned West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan as a ‘witness’ in connection with its probe into allegations of bribery in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal with Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.

This is for the first time a serving Governor has been questioned by the CBI. Sources in the CBI said a team of the CBI recorded the statement of 80-year-old MK Narayanan at Raj Bhawan in Kolkata. He answered questions relating to March 1, 2005, meeting in which a decision was taken to reduce the ‘service ceiling’ (or the altitude at which a helicopter can fly) from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres.

He and Goa governor BV Wanchoo had participated in the meeting in 2005 that allowed key changes in the technical specification of the chopper.

Sources said during questioning, Narayanan, who was the former National Security Adviser, explained the rationale behind the decision. Naraynan was appointed Governor of West Bengal in 2010.

Sources said Wanchoo, who was the chief of the Special Protection Group (SPG) guarding the Prime Minister before he was appointed the Governor, might also be questioned as a witness.

The UPA government had rejected the CBI’s plea to quiz Narayanan and Wanchoo prompting the agency to send a request to President Pranab Mukherjee. The Law Ministry had declined permission saying the two were in constitutional posts which gave them immunity from prosecution under Article 361 of the Constitution.
70 years after defeating Japan, India forgets Imphal
Seventy years is a long time to forget people, events, the past. In India, it doesn't take that long. Even heroes are forgotten here in a matter of months, or a few years. In such a scenario, it's not surprising that nobody has remembered the 70th anniversaries of the twin battles of Imphal and Kohima. There have been no newspaper ads, no radio jingles, no special programme on TV, absolutely no mention of the battle or its veterans anywhere, save a few stray news reports. But that doesn't mean that the rest of the world is suffering from the same amnesia.

On Saturday, representatives from Britain, the United States, Australia and Japan, apart from an ever-shrinking group of veterans, would be part of a closing ceremony in Imphal of a three-month-long programme remembering those brave souls who had died fighting in two of the fiercest and most horrific battles mankind has ever known. There will be representatives of the Indian Army, too, who will quietly hope that someday their government would fully embrace these two battles as Indian, and acknowledge the role of the 2.5 million (25 lakh) soldiers who fought by the Allies' side in the Second World War. Independent India has never shown any care or concern about the war veterans, as they are a living memory of India's colonial past—men who fought a "foreign war" for a foreign government.

Yet the truth is the battles of Kohima and Imphal, in fact the whole of the Burma Campaign, was the swansong of the old Indian Army. It was for the first time that the Indian Army fought a foreign invader on Indian soil—a subtle transition for a force that for centuries had been an imperial strategic reserve, an instrument of colonial expansion and retention of the British Empire. And it was the first time that the seemingly invincible armies of the Empire of Japan were decisively beaten by the same Indian soldiers whom the Japanese perceived as lesser men.

"The two world wars showed the fighting quality of the Indian soldier to the world. Victory in the Second World War has been, by far, our biggest military achievement, yet nobody in India talks about it. It's such a sad state of affairs that the country that sent the largest voluntary army in history to fight that war has forgotten the sacrifices of the millions of men and women. We expect the Narendra Modi government to do something about it. Of course, we are late, but better late than never," said Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Anil Bhat, the former spokesperson of the defence ministry and Indian Army.
The two battles resulted out of the 1944 U-Go Offensive of the Japanese 15th Army under Lieutenant General Renya Mutaguchi. The plan was to conquer India and use it as a launchpad of future Japanese military campaigns. Imphal, which was heavily invested by the 15th and 33rd divisions of the Japanese 15th Army, was defended by the IV Corps of the British Fourteenth Army, comprising the 17th, 20th and 23rd Indian Infantry Divisions, including the 50th Indian Parachute Brigade.

Kohima, on the other hand, was defended by just 1,500 men of the 1st Assam Regiment, Assam Rifles, and 4th Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. But they held off 15,000 invading Japanese for two weeks until they were relieved by the 161st Indian Infantry Brigade, a vital component of the battle-hardened 5th Indian Division.

Incidentally, in Imphal, the Japanese were assisted by the Indian National Army, which had another objective apart from fighting: to try and make soldiers of the Indian Army defect. This strategy, of course, didn't work. There were a few desertions, no doubt, but for every Indian Army soldier who switched his loyalty, 68 remained loyal.

On July 3, 1944, the Japanese decided to retreat to Burma, but the retreat became a rout. Thousands of sick and wounded Japanese soldiers died by the wayside and were never cremated. London-based Japanese filmmaker, Junichi Kajioka, has made a film on this, named Imphal 1944. It will be screened in Imphal at the closing ceremony on Saturday.

"Many Japanese still come to Manipur every year in search of the bones of their family members who lost their lives in this war. The battles of Imphal and Kohima are not forgotten by people, and a lot of unburied souls are still sleeping in Northeast India and the border of Myanmar. I believe they are still being taken care of by the people here. My film aims to be a symbol of peace between Britain, Japan and Manipur. The film offers the world an important message of friendship between old enemies," Kajioka told this correspondent.

Incidentally, June 28 will also be the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the erstwhile Austro-Hungarian Empire in Sarajevo, an event that triggered the First World War where 1.3 million Indian soldiers participated. But that's another story for another time.
Pakistan violates ceasefire again, fires at forward Indian posts

In yet another incident of ceasefire violation, Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked firing at forward Indian positions in Balakite sector in Poonch district during wee hours of Friday.

Defence Ministry spokesman Lt Colobel Maneesh Mehta said that the Pakistani troops resorted to firing from small arms and automatic weapons around 12.35 am, and the firing continued till 1.30 am.

The Indian Army also retaliated. However, there was no casualty or damage on the Indian side.

In the last one month, there has been spurt in incidents of ceasefire violations from Pakistan. Sources attribute it to desperate attempts by Pakistani troops to push in armed terrorists from their side into the state.
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Bottlenecks Clog Army's Bid to Procure M777 Howitzers

NEW DELHI: The Army’s bid to buy 145 ultra light howitzers, to provide fire power to troops posted along the borders with China, is getting more difficult by the day, as India is undecided on its plans to get the BAE Systems’ M777 guns directly from the US.

The Centre has not had any formal communication with the US Government or the British guns manufacturer since September 2013, when the BAE Systems last gave its offsets proposals worth $200 million (approximately `1,000 crore) to be invested back in India, if the deal goes through.

The September proposal was the last of the eight reiterations of the offsets offers from BAE Systems for a deal which was likely to cost a maximum of $647 million in a deal through the US’ Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.

The company has also signed MoUs for offsets with around 40 Indian partners, both private and public sector, half of which are medium and small enterprises.

However, since Narendra Modi Government has taken over in May this year, hope floats for both the Army and  BAE Systems, for the M777 deal going through. But a likely cost escalation, and further delays in delivery schedule of the guns, pose further difficulty, according to sources. “We are at a new juncture with this new Indian Government. There is great optimism that this government will review its defence requirements, part of which will be M777. We stand ready to engage alongside the US Government, expeditiously. We are very positive of the outcome,” BAE Systems’ India vice president Mark Simpkins told ‘Express’ in an exclusive interaction here.

“It has been a very long road for the M777 in India since the first tender in 2006, and later, the letter of request to the US Government from India. Since October 2013, when the US offer costing $647 million expired, there has been no formal, direct engagement with the Indian government,” he said to a specific query.

As the US’ Congressional Notification of the likely sales of M777 to India expired last October, a second notification was initiated in early 2013 by the US government for the deal. It quoted $885 million as the fresh ceiling price for the guns for the Indian Army.

“This fresh price - though not specific to India - is only an estimated ceiling cost for the 145 howitzers valid for five years,” according to industry sources.

For a better idea of how much the 145 guns would cost, all that India may have to do is to ask the US to “restate” the price afresh.

However, there are other issues that need to be tackled. The BAE Systems, with no orders coming from India since October 2013, has already suspended production of the M777 guns at its facility in Barrow-in-Furness, where the components are designed and 30 per cent of the system are fabricated.

The BAE Systems also notified and shifted out 50 per cent of its work force from the Barrow facility to its submarine production facility within the UK, following the work suspension at Barrow.

“If orders for the guns had come in October 2013, the supply of M777 to India would have started this year. It gets more difficult now, as the BAE Systems has to re-qualify all components from manufacturers. It has to go through a long validation process for the quality of the components to be supplied, before production can begin. That takes time, and it is difficult to specify how long it would take. Hence, specifying a delivery schedule too becomes difficult,” said an industry source.

On the offsets proposals that were taken up by the Defence Acquisition Council in its last meeting in the UPA regime, but left undecided, Simpkins said: “In line with the Defence Procurement Procedure Offset Policy, the latest package of over $200 million was submitted in the third quarter last year. It was developed over several iterations incorporating input from the government at every stage.”

The conclusion of the M777 deal between India and the US, would enable the BAE Systems to make a significant long-term investment in the domestic industrial complex and develop an Indian supply chain for its air, land and sea programmes, both locally and globally.

“Since the extended offer expired mid-October last year, we are standing ready to discuss and progress this,” Simpkins added.
JAMMU: A jawan was found dead at an Army camp in Akhnoor belt of Jammu district, a defence spokesman said on Thursday.

Pathan Mohmmad Sharief was found dead in Unit Lines in 18 Cavalry of 10th Division of Army yesterday (Wednesday), the spokesman said.

Army has ordered a court of inquiry (CoI) into the incident, the spokesman said.
Defence Minister lays foundation stone for HQ IDS Building

New Delhi, June 27 (IBNS) Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday unveiled the foundation stone for HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) Building Complex at Mehramnagar in Delhi Cantt here.

Speaking on this occasion, Jaitley said,"Since its inception, Headquarter Integrated Defence Staff has played a pivotal role in building synergy and consensus through intra-service deliberations and ensuring optimisation of resources through rightful prioritisation for procurements, joint doctrines, joint training and common procedures."

He commended the Armed Forces for their devotion to duty and stellar role played by them in safeguarding our country’s unity and diversity.

He said that in future almost all operations, be the inland or overseas, invariably going to be Tri-Service operations.

"Developing synergy between the services to achieve optimum force application therefore attains utmost importance," he remarked.

Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh, in his welcome address briefly dwelt upon the history and origin of the IDS set up.

He said, based on the Kargil Review Committee Report and subsequent recommendation of the Group of Ministers, the Integrated Defence Staff was set up by the Government of India in October 2001.

He said that the aim of forming Integrated Defence Staff was to provide a secretariat to the Chairman COSC (Chief of Defence Staff / Permanent Chairman Chief of Staff when appointed), facilitate constitution of Defence Crisis Management Group (DCMG), coordination of financial and budgetary proposals for the three services and presenting coordinated set of proposals to the Defence Minister.

"It is also chartered to coordinate and analyse critical deficiencies in force capabilities and render periodic reports to Defence Minister on the need for structural and organizational changes taking note of alterations in the nature of threats," he added.

The proposed multi-storied IDS building complex situated near NSG HQ in Mehramnagar, Delhi Cantt. will come up over an area of 10.57 acres of land.

The complex will consist of Office Building, Officers Mess Complex, Signal Intelligence (SI) Directorate, Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS), HQ IDS Camp and Sports Complex.

The ultra-modern green complex will have many novel features, which include Library cum reading room, Information Technology and communication rooms, Special Section on International Defence Cooperation/Dte of Net Assessment, Meditation room/training cum motivation hall and Security posts with all latest equipment including vehicle scanners and IRIS scan etc.

Among others the function was attended by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R K Dhowan, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Defence Secretary RK Mathur and CISC Lt Gen Anil Chait.

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