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Friday, 25 July 2014

From Today's Papers - 25 Jul 2014

Fraudsters pilfer lakhs from salary accounts of IAF men
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
Hundreds of Indian Air Force personnel have been duped of their hard-earned money by international fraudsters believed to be operating from Canada.

On behalf of the IAF, Wing Commander Tejveer Singh, Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal, Air Force Police HQ Delhi, today lodged a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing of the Special Cell of the Delhi Police.

The Air Force said in its complaint that money has been siphoned off from salary accounts of IAF personnel through mystery purchases and withdrawals from a particular place in Canada. In some cases, Air Force men have lost up to Rs 2 lakh. The IAF personnel losing the money are posted across the country and not just Delhi. The money has been fraudulently withdrawn from the accounts that are with the State Bank of India under the defence salary package. The IAF has asked the bank to stop all transactions and block all debit cards. The IAF men have been told to change passwords of their net banking accounts.

“We are presuming that the money that has been siphoned off is as good as lost. There is little or no chance of recovery from Canada-based tricksters,” said IAF officials.

The IAF suspects that fraudsters have possibly cloned the debit cards and also have access to pin numbers that are needed while doing purchases. “The first complaint came in the first week of July and soon the number multiplied. The entire list of complaints has been handed over to the Delhi police. This has the potential to lower the morale of personnel,” IAF officials said. The theft also means the spending habits of the officers are now known to international tricksters who could use the information, they added.

Canada-based tricksters

    The Air Force said in its complaint that money has been siphoned off from salary accounts of IAF personnel through mystery purchases and withdrawals from a particular place in Canada
    In some cases, Air Force men have lost up to Rs 2 lakh. The IAF personnel losing the money are posted across the country and not just Delhi
    The money has been fraudulently withdrawn from the accounts that are with the State Bank of India under the defence salary package
How raw courage & grit triumphed
Lt Gen Mohinder Puri (retd)

The daunting task was to militarily reorient the Division operationally from a counter- insurgency role to that for conventional warfare in virtually no time. The operations had to be completed well before the onset of winter
It was the May of 1999, that the 8 Mountain Division also known as "Forever in Operations" was tasked to move from the Kashmir Valley to the rugged Drass-Kargil axis along the Line of Control (LoC) and be part of Operation Vijay — it was the first call to arms in the conventional matrix after nearly 30 years.

Operation Vijay was launched by the Indian Army to evict the Pakistani Army which had occupied the heights in this terrain. The role of first inducting the entire division, complete with its support arms, equipment and men secondly to fight the battle had challenges which had to be overcome and were done successfully.

I had been in command of the Division in the Valley for over a year when the fresh deployment was ordered. For 10 years, or since 1989, the Division was mandated for Operation Rakshak to fight militancy.

As the Pakistani plan in Drass-Kargil unfolded, the daunting task came with the challenges. The first was to militarily reorient the Division operationally from a counter-insurgency role to that for conventional warfare. All this was to be done in virtually no time and to deliver success almost instantly in view of the tremendous pressure of public opinion at home built up by the media. The second issue was to complete operations well before the onset of winter — that sets in early in the high Himalayas.

Since the operations had to be conducted at extreme high altitudes averaging 15,000 feet, troops had to undergo three stages of acclimatisation spread across 10 days to be able to give their best. In hindsight it was stoic bravery, raw courage and the sheer "will to win" among all ranks that added this glorious chapter to the saga of valour and sacrifice for the Division (now headquartered at Kumbathang some 25 km south of Kargil) and also of the Army.

Counter Insurgency (CI) and conventional warfare are as different as chalk and cheese. While CI operations require immediate and expeditious response with rapid planning lest militants run havoc, a conventional warfare requires deliberation and unwavering co-ordination of not only amongst those assaulting, but also with the array of supporting arms and services, including the Air Force.

The changeover carried out in 12 days was creditable as this entailed configuration with new equipment and a psyche. An inbuilt training and equipment transformation flexibility of the Indian Army helped. Candidly, since the Army was preoccupied with militancy and after 1971 this was the first conventional war thrust on India, there was naturally sombre scepticism whether the change could be effected early enough to match the timeframe expected by the nation to "drive out" the Pakistan Army.

The lone inadequacy of ground troops was the vintage of equipment which was overcome to a great degree as the battle progressed.

Pakistani Army had named its intrusion into Kargil as Operation Badr and it was clearly with a three-fold political aim. The political climate in India was perceived to be unstable in early 1999 ( The Vajpayee Government had lost the Vote of Confidence and elections were slated for September 1999). Pakistan assessed that a major reaction to any military adventure was unlikely. Also it seemed as if there was a perception in the minds of the Pakistani leadership that the Indian polity did not have the political will to militarily react to any armed threat from across the border. A second possible Pakistani aim was to create a situation which would enable them to negotiate from a position of strength by securing large tracts of territory across the LoC, and thirdly by launching a military operation the opportunity was considered suitable to internationalise the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan also took into consideration that its nuclear umbrella gave an option of resorting to limited offensive action with minimal risk and with the operations fought in the nuclear backdrop, the international community would intervene, by which time Pakistan would have achieved its objectives. Militarily, Pakistan aimed to initiate the operation in areas where she would be offered the least resistance and a minimal military response. For this, large gaps in defences were to be exploited.

The heights in the Drass-Kargil area had not been permanently occupied by either side for over 50 years, so the first task for the 8 Mountain Division was to cross the Zoji La. In the process, we were confronted with enormous challenges. The ruggedness of the terrain, the extreme high altitudes at which the battles were fought and the adverse weather conditions, coupled with shortage of critical equipment made the task daunting. A short window available for completion of operations before the onset of winter added to the pressure. Had India not exploited the summer window, Pakistan would have consolidated its gains and would have made it prohibitively costly for us to regain the lost territory in the next season.

Preparations for an operation needed deliberation, planning and the will to succeed. I had given the Drass sector a higher priority as the enemy was effectively interdicting the National Highway from their vantage positions. The attack stopped Indian convoys carrying stocks to Ladakh and also equipment and men sent to fight the battle. It was imperative to clear the highway and this was possible only by recapturing the peaks.

Some miles away from the pounding, Tololing had defied capture for three weeks. Pakistani troops were well entrenched. It was the first target for further ridge hopping and capturing objectives like Point 4875, a tactically important feature and Tiger Hill—the place where Major Vikram Batra (PVC) attained glory. The battles had carried on, men and officers had climbed sheer cliffs to dig out the Pakistanis. The advantage was slowly turning but it took the better part of July to wind up the operations and convincingly defeat the Pakistan Army.

Many would have flinched at the daunting task at hand but the zeal displayed by the country at large, gave inspiration and impetus. Never before did the men in uniform flavour this fevered response from the country.

As we remember the 15th anniversary of the war in Kargil, I would like to commend the courage, gallantry and stoicism displayed by our young officers and soldiers. Sadly, in the process many sacrificed their lives for the glory of their units, the Army and the nation.
Kargil panel: No checks & balances in Intelligence system

On July 29, 1999, three days after the Kargil conflict officially ended, the then government, headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, set up a four-member, high-powered committee to analyse the situation. The terms of reference of the committee, headed by strategic analyst Late K Subrahmanyam, were to review the events leading up to the Pakistani aggression in the Kargil District of Jammu and Kashmir, and to recommend such measures as are considered necessary to safeguard national security against such armed intrusions. The other members were Lt Gen KK Hazari, former Vice Chief of Army Staff, senior journalist BG Verghese and Satish Chandra, then Secretary, National Security Council Secretariat. The committee had the authority to interview any person associated with the security establishment, including former presidents and prime minister and was given access to all classified documents and reports. The committee presented its findings and recommendations, christened From Surprise to Reckoning: The Kargil Committee Report (KCR), to Vajpayee in January 2000. Some of its key observations are:

    Pakistan’s aggression came as a total surprise to the Indian government. Infiltration by armed irregulars was considered to be feasible in the area but not an intrusion and occupation of territory by Pakistani troops.

    There were lapses in communication and dissemination of information between different intelligence agencies, which illustrate deficiencies in the system.

    There were many bits and pieces of information about activities within the FCNA region. Most of them tended to indicate that Kargil was becoming a growing focus of Pakistani attention which had been clearly demonstrated by the marked increase in cross-LOC shelling in 1998. The reports on ammunition dumping, induction of additional guns and the construction of bunkers and helipads all fitted into an assessment of likely large-scale militant infiltration, with more intensive shelling in the summer of 1999. RAW assessed the possibility of "a limited swift offensive threat with possible support of alliance partners," in its half-yearly assessment ending September 1998 but no indicators substantiating this assessment were provided. Moreover, in its next six-monthly report ending March 1999, this assessment was dropped. In fact, its March 1999 report emphasised the financial constraints that would inhibit Pakistan from launching on any such adventure.

    No specific indicators of a likely major attack in the Kargil sector such as significant improvements in logistics and communications or substantial force build-up or forward deployment of forces were reported by any of the agencies. Information on training of additional militants for infiltrating them across the LoC was not sector-specific. Indian intelligence appeared to lack adequate knowledge about the heavy damage inflicted by Indian artillery, which would have required Pakistan army to undertake considerable repairs and re-stocking. That would partly explain the larger vehicular movements reported on the other side. The Indian Army did not share information about the intensity and effect of its past firing with others. In the absence of this information, RAW could not correctly assess the significance of enemy activity in terms of ammunition storage or construction of underground bunkers.

    The critical failure in intelligence was related to the absence of any information on the induction and deinduction of battalions and the lack of accurate data on the identity of battalions in the area opposite Kargil during 1998. Several Pakistani units present in the sector did not figure in the Order of Battle (ORBAT) supplied by RAW to the Directorate-General on Military Intelligence (DGMI). In the Committee's view, a significant gap in information prior to the detection of the Kargil intrusion was the inability of RAW to accurately monitor and report changes in the Pakistani ORBAT in the FCNA region during 1998 and early 1999 and to a lesser extent that of DGMI, and field intelligence units to notice the additional forward deployment of troops near the LoC.

    Unlike other countries, India has no tradition of undertaking politico-military games with the participation of those having political and diplomatic expertise. If such games had been practised, then the possibility of limited military intrusions to internationalise the Kashmir issue might have been visualised.
    The Indian Intelligence structure is flawed since there is little back up or redundancy to rectify failures and shortcomings in intelligence collection and reporting that goes to build up the external threat perception by the one agency, namely, RAW which has a virtual monopoly in this regard. There is a general lack of awareness of the critical importance of and the need for assessed intelligence at all levels. JIC reports do not receive the attention they deserve at the political and higher bureaucratic levels. There are no checks and balances in the Indian intelligence system to ensure that the consumer gets all the intelligence that is available and is his due.
    — Vijay Mohan

Changes recommended

    Revamping the intelligence apparatus, enhancing information- collection capabilities
    Structural reforms. Integrating the service headquarters with the MoD.
    Appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff as a single-point advisor to the government on military matters.
    Publication of a White Paper on Indian nuclear weapons programme.
    Conduct a detailed study on border management to evolve force structures and procedures to ensure improved surveillance.
    Restructuring the role, training and tasks of the para-military forces in view of terrorist threats and proxy war.
    Examine possibility of integrated manpower policy for the Armed Forces, para-military forces and the Central Police Forces as well as lateral induction of ex-servicemen into the para-military.
597 defence personnel committed suicide in last five years: Govt

The armed forces lost 597 personnel to suicide in the last five years while 1,349 officers quit the Army during the same period, Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

From 2009 to 2013, 597 armed forces personnel committed suicide--498 from the Army, 83 from the Air Force and 16 from the Navy, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said in written reply.

The highest number of suicides took place in the Army in 2010 when 116 troops committed suicide but the number came down to 86 in 2013, according to the figures given by the minister in his reply.

The Army, which is the largest of the three Services, also saw 1,349 officers quitting the force taking premature retirement in the last five years.

The number of officers who had applied for premature retirement was 2,215 but only 1,349 such requests were granted by the force.

The Defence Minister said the government has taken various measures to create appropriate environment for the defence personnel so that they can perform their duties without any mental stress.

"Some of these include improvement in living and working conditions through provision of better infrastructure and facilities, liberalised leave policy, establishing a grievance redressal mechanism and conduct of yoga as per unit routine," Jaitley said.

Meanwhile, answering another query, Jaitley said the Air Force lost 19 fighter aircraft in the last three years, including 12 MiG-series fighter planes in which five service personnel were killed along with one civilian.

The aircraft lost in the accidents were 8 MiG 21, 3 each of MiG 29 and Jaguar, two each of Mirage-2000 and Su-30MKI and one MiG-27M.
First Indian Air Force, Navy Attaches take charge in China
 In a sign of expanding military-to-military engagement between India and China, permanent representatives of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Navy have, for the first time, taken office in Beijing.

Group Captain Ashish Srivastava of the Indian Air Force and Captain Sushant Dam of the Indian Navy will begin their terms as the Air and Naval attachés in the Indian Embassy in Beijing on Friday.

Earlier, India only had a Defence attaché from the Indian Army, along with a Deputy Defence attaché, posted in Beijing.

The question of expanding India’s military representation had been discussed by both sides over several years, with China finally agreeing to the move this past year. Traditionally, India has only had attachés from all three services in the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia.

That China will join those countries underscores the increasing importance — and widening engagement— between the two militaries. Especially on the naval side, the need for representation had become apparent as both sides have stepped up exchanges even as their navies are more frequently encountering each other on the high seas.

The absence of a permanent naval attaché in Beijing posed logistical obstacles, with the defence attachés having to liaise with the People’s Liberation Army Navy over plans for exercises and visits — a situation that even the Chinese side acknowledged was unusual.
Army Chief praises new Government's decisiveness
Few days before retirement, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh praised the "decisiveness" of the NDA government at a tea party held for him by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.

Gen Singh praised the decisiveness of the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the function attended by top officials of the Ministry including Defence Secretary RK Mathur and other senior officials yesterday, Defence Ministry officials said.

The Army chief said the brief period in which he got to work with the NDA government, he was impressed with government's decisiveness, they said.

Soon after assuming office, the NDA government has cleared several projects for the armed forces including environmental clearances required for construction of roads in border areas along the border with China.

Going by the advise of the Army, the Government also ruled out any change in the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in the first meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) of the Narendra Modi government.

Gen Singh is retiring at the end of the month.
Remembering Kargil heroes: Late Captain Saurabh Kalia's family awaits justice
Captain Saurabh Kalia was an officer of the Indian Army who died during the 1999 Kargil war where he was held as a prisoner of war by the Pakistani forces. Saurabh Kalia, then 23 and just a month old in the Army, had been on a patrol duty in Batalik where he and five Army soldiers were captured by Pakistani intruders.

He was held in captivity and was tortured by the Pakistani Army. After three weeks his mutilated body was returned and it was beyond recognition. There were other Indian soldiers, too, who went through brutal torture in the Kargil war.

Captain Saurabh Kalia's family has been fighting for justice till date. Their online petition has also been demanding action against Pakistan. Now 15 years later little has moved. Petitions have gone to every Defence Minister, Prime Minister and President since then but not much has happened.

But Captain Saurabh Kalia stays alive in the memories of his family. From his first pay cheque to his childhood pictures everything has been preserved by his family. The family continues their daily petitioning and writing letters.

Vaibhav Kalia, Saurabh Kalia's brother, said that the family shall continue the fight as any person who is fighting for the country has the right to be assured that if somewhere during the fight the person gets captured, he will be treated humanely.

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