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Saturday, 9 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 09 Aug 2014

US jets begin air strikes in Iraq
President Obama vows to protect minority Yezidis from ISIS threat in Irbil
Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington DC
US jets conducted a second round of targeted air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters in Iraq on Friday, hours after President Barack Obama authorised the action and ordered humanitarian relief to besieged Iraqis.

Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby said in the first strike two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery used by ISIS militants to shell Kurdish forces defending the city of Irbil.

In a statement from the White House on Thursday night, Obama said the air strikes were intended to protect American diplomats at the US Consulate in Irbil and military advisers deployed in Iraq earlier this summer in the face of ISIS’ advancing threat. Obama, who came to office in 2009 on the promise of ending US involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq, said he was compelled to act now to protect Americans.

He said he was also responding to a request from the Iraqi government to help thousands of minority Yezidis who have been trapped on Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq by ISIS militants and faced the prospect of genocide.

“[ISIS] forces have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yezidi people, which would constitute genocide. So these innocent families are faced with a horrible choice: descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger,” Obama said.

“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale — when we have a mandate to help, in this case a request from the Iraqi government, and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doing on that mountain,” he said.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday night US forces had acted on Obama’s orders and provided food and water to thousands of Iraqis. Hagel said the US military may also conduct targeted air strikes to help Iraqi forces fighting to break ISIS’ siege of Mount Sinjar.

The military operations are the first by the US since December of 2011 when Obama pulled all US troops out of Iraq after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to grant them immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law.

Obama assured Americans that the US was not going back to war in Iraq and that Iraqis alone were responsible for the future of their country. “American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq,” he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, said ISIS’ “campaign of terror against the innocent, including Yezidi and Christian minorities, and its grotesque and targeted acts of violence bear all the warning signs and hallmarks of genocide.”

UK issues advisory

The UK Foreign Office on Friday urged Britons in Irbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk provinces of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region to "leave now" following attacks by extremists. It advised against all travel to areas of the Kurdistan region affected by fighting.
Pak hands over BSF constable to India
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service
Zero Line, Suchetgarh/ Indreshwar Nagar, August 8
Pakistan today repatriated BSF constable Satyasheel Yadav who was captured by its border guards after he was swept away in the Chenab from the Pallanwala sector in Akhnoor belt of Jammu district on August 6.

At a commandant-level flag meeting, the 30-year-old Yadav of the 33rd battalion was handed over to BSF officers by Wing Commander Lt Col Waqar of Pakistan Rangers at their Inayat post on the other side of the Zero Line opposite octroi border post today. Commandant Viresh Kumar took the custody of the jawan.

“The flag meeting started around 4 pm and the jawan was handed over to us at 4.20 pm”, said a senior BSF officer. Yadav is in good health, a senior BSF officer said, adding that he had been debriefed before being produced before the media.

Soon after Yadav, who was dressed in his olive green combat fatigue, walked onto the Indian soil flanked by his seniors, mediapersons scrambled to talk to his seniors and the constable.

However, he was whisked away to the BSF's station headquarters at Indreshwar Nagar where BSF Director General D K Pathak, who had flown in from Delhi especially for the handover event, addressed the media.

Earlier, Yadav reportedly told reporters in Pakistan that his motorboat accidentally strayed into the neighbouring land after it went out of control in strong river currents.

“My colleagues swam to safety but I do not know swimming. The boat took me into the Pakistani territory. I jumped into water near a Pakistan post and was rescued by jawans of Pakistan Rangers,” he reportedly said in his narration of the events leading to his capture. BSF DG Pathak, while introducing the jawan to the media, said, “He is in front of you and you can see he is safe and sound and has returned to his country.”

Pathak said those who knew swimming (two guards) made it to the banks inside the Indian territory. “Out of four, there were two jawans, who didn’t know swimming. While one of them was rescued by a rescue boat, this man, who was wearing a life jacket, was swept away to Pakistan,” he said.

Yadav was out on a patrol on Wednesday when his boat capsized in the Chenab.
India, US to build hi-tech military equipment
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
 New Delhi, August 8
India and the US today moved ahead to fulfil the promise of working together to co-develop and co-produce cutting-edge military equipment.

The two sides also addressed common security concerns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and South China Sea. It was also decided to take steps for the extension of the new framework for the US-India defence relationship, before it expires in July 2015, indicating that Defence ties would play an important role in the wider strategic partnership.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and his counterpart the US Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel, met in New Delhi and announced to take forward the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). The contact person from India will be the Secretary, Department of Defence Production, and the US will be represented by Frank Kendall, Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Licensing at the Pentagon.

PM Narendra Modi separately told Hagel about the "importance of Defence relations in the overall strategic partnership between the two countries," a government statement said.

The two sides picked up ends of the broken thread of the September 2013 dialogue between Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh. The DTTI was announced then and appointing of contact persons is like getting down to the operational level to draw list of technologies the US can share with India. The US Department of Defence quoted Hagel as having said: "We can make some progress on getting a better understanding from Indians what specific projects they may have interest in that fit within the framework of the DTTI.”

So far, India has such co-production tie-ups with Russia, France and Israel.

Jaitley talked about raising the FDI cap in the Defence sector. “The development of our own indigenous capabilities is a major objective. We have taken steps to raise the FDI cap ( to 49 per cent) in the Defence sector and look forward to working closely with the US,” he said, accepting an invite to the US in October.

Hagel also called upon Modi, Sushma Swaraj and NSA Ajit Doval.
 Court frames charges against 5 in Naval War Room leak case

New Delhi, August 8
A Delhi court today framed charges against five persons, including three former naval officers and an ex-IAF Wing Commander, in the 2006 Naval War Room leak case.

Special CBI judge JPS Malik put on trial former Navy officer Kulbhushan Prashar, former naval commander Vijender Rana, sacked naval commander VK Jha, former IAF Wing Commander Sambha Jee L Surve and arms dealer and Delhi-based businessman Abhishek Verma for the offence of criminal conspiracy under the IPC and various provisions of the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

The court framed charges after the five accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.

The court fixed September 8, 9 and 10 for commencing the trial by recording the statements of prosecution witnesses.

The court, on July 31, had ordered framing of charges against the accused. The court had said charges of spying by obtaining secret documents, wrongful communication of information and abetment of offences under the OSA had been prima facie made out against them.

“It is held that prima facie offence punishable under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC read with Section 3 (penalties for spying) and Section 5 (wrongful communication etc., of information) and Section 9 (attempts, incitements, etc. of commission of offence) of the OSA, is disclosed against accused Prashar, Surve, Rana, Jha and Verma ....,” the court had said. Prime accused Ravi Shankaran is still absconding and has been declared proclaimed offender by the court.

While Prashar, Surve, Rana and Jha are on bail, Verma is in judicial custody and they were present in the court. The counsel for the accused said that they would challenge this order before a superior court. The 2006 Navy War Room leak case involves leaking of over 7,000 pages of Defence information of sensitive nature from the Naval war room and Air Defence headquarters, having a direct bearing on national security. — PTI

The case and those involved

    The 2006 Navy War Room leak case involves leaking of over 7,000 pages of Defence information of sensitive nature from the Naval war room and Air Defence headquarters, having a direct bearing on national security
    Those put on trial are former Navy officer Kulbhushan Prashar, former naval commander Vijender Rana, sacked naval commander VK Jha, former IAF Wing Commander Sambha Jee L Surve and arms dealer and Delhi-based businessman Abhishek Verma
    The court framed charges after the five accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
Army Chief's Ladakh visit begins tomorrow
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8
Indian Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, will be on a three-day visit from August 10 to the Leh-based 14 corps and will include a visit to forward areas, including Siachen glacier.

The Chief, who took over on July 31, will end his visit when he will accompany Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the glacier. Today, General Suhag met the PM and briefed him informally on various issues, including Siachen. The formal structured briefing of the PM on Army issues was conducted during the just-ended tenure of General Bikram Singh, but General Suhag being the Vice Chief was present when the formal briefing was conducted.

Modi is expected to land at Thoise or Leh, both in Ladakh, before boarding an IAF MI-17 helicopter to one of the posts on Siachen. Modi had visited the Srinagar-based 15 corps after taking over and this will be his first visit to a forward location. General Suhag has, in the past, commanded the Kargil (Khumathang)-based 8 Mountain Division.

General Suhag's visit has come about after reports on the Indian side that senior officials of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China have been visiting their areas which face the 14 Corps areas in India.
 Pak looking forward to talks: Envoy

New Delhi, August 8
Pakistan today said it was looking forward to a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue with India when the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries meet in Islamabad on August 25.

“It’s time to seize the opportunity and leave a legacy of friendship and cooperation for our future generations,’’ Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said at the 4th meeting of the Pakistan-India Joint Business Forum here.

Describing as very positive the meeting between PM Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in Delhi on May 27, he recalled that the two leaders had agreed to move forward from confrontation to cooperation. — TNS
US begins limited intervention in Iraq

US Air Force planes have dropped some humanitarian supplies to refuges in the Kurdistan region of Iraq in response to US President Barack Obama authorising such flights. He even approved 'targeted air strikes' against the soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a Sunni militant group that is now threatening the previously stable Kurdistan. The recent ISIS advances in Kurdistan have surprised some analysts, since the region was largely out of the conflict that has engulfed Iraq.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government in Iraq is finding it difficult to muster up the numbers to counter the ISIS threat. To a certain extent, this is due to its sidelining the Sunnis from government positions. He has been under pressure to make his government wide-based, but he has not done so till now. Iraq, especially Northern Iraq, has been home to a number of ethnic and religious minorities that have retained their identity in spite of pressure to assimilate. The ISIS's intolerance towards minorities has served to unite the world opinion against the group and earned it the disapproval of the UN. While the President mentioned Yazidi, Christians and Islamic sects, too, have faced brutal treatment which has triggered an exodus of civilians from areas, threatened by the ISIS.

The humanitarian crisis was mentioned by President Obama in his speech, in which he also authorised air intervention. While it might be argued that the US military was already working with the Iraqi government on the matter, now there can be more direct intervention if the ISIS forces advance, especially towards the city of Irbil, where a significant number of American personnel are housed. The US will try to tread carefully in Iraq, as it should, but its intervention signals that the world will not stand by idly as civilians are hounded out of their homes and slaughtered.|head
Pakistani Army Chief Visits Australia

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen. Raheel Sharif, wrapped up a four-day visit to Australia.

On the August 5-8 vist, Sharif discussed regional security and defense cooperation with Australia's defense minister David Johnston and defense secretary Dennis Richardson. He also met Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade Secretary Peter Varghese, and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.

Among the topics discussed were "Pakistan’s security perspective in connection with its ongoing Operation in North Waziristan," its "overall counter terrorism contributions not only within Pakistan but for the entire region and beyond," and its counter-IED expertise, according to the Pakistan military's media relations branch, Inter Service Public relations (ISPR).

Sharif also talked about strengthening defense ties with Australian Army Chief Lt. Gen. David Morrison, then took part in a roundtable discussion hosted by Australia's Vice Chief of Defence Forces, Vice Adm. Ray Griggs, along with the other service chiefs and senior Ministry of Defence officials.

A former Australian defense attaché to Islamabad, Brian Cloughley, expressed initial surprise that Australia had invited Sharif, "as Canberra much favors India and is trying to forge closer economic ties, including supply of uranium."

He says Australia's tilt towards India may hamper development of its bilateral relationship with Pakistan.

"There had been talk of Pakistan and Australia cooperating over drones, but given the India card I don't see that happening. New Delhi would object vociferously," he said.

Cloughley described the visit as "routine" and said he would have been surprised had "anything substantive" come from the visit.

Pakistan analyst Claude Rakisits, a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, said Australia wants to build on an emerging relationship.

"During the decade-long involvement in Afghanistan, Australia built up an important military relationship with Pakistan, particularly, but not solely, in the area of counter-insurgency,” Rakisits said. “Australia would want to continue to build on that as we move on to a post-2014 situation in Afghanistan.”

He added, "It is important note that after the US, Australia is Pakistan's most important partner in counter-insurgency training."

He says efforts to improve the bilateral relationship have been going on for some years now.

"Australia and Pakistan have had high-level strategic talks, both official and 1.5 track, for about five years and these have been an opportunity to have an exchange on issues of common interest to both countries. I was involved in the 1.5-track dialogue a couple of years ago and I found them very frank and a window on the Pakistan military's views of the world."

Rakisits says there is obvious motive for Australia wanting to be on good terms with Pakistan.

"While the Australia-Pakistan relationship is not that deep in general, Canberra wants to keep all channels of communication open with an increasingly important country in a region which is so critically important to peace and stability in the world,” he said.
Telangana Independence Day venue in Army cross hairs
HYDERABAD: Barely a week before the Telangana government is to host its maiden Independence Day celebrations at Golconda Fort on August 15, defence authorities have claimed that the 51-acre land that the TRS regime plans to use as its venue for various official events belongs to them.

The 'disputed' 51-acre plain land is located behind the main fort. While the Telangana government's revenue records say the land is classified as `sarkari poramboke' (land belonging to the state government), defence authorities say it is actually cantonment land. Now, it has been decided that the state and defence officials will conduct a joint survey to resolve the land dispute.

The controversy was triggered by Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's recent decision to host the tricolour on Independence Day at Golconda Fort. KCR visited the site on Tuesday and zeroed in on a site near Rani Mahal for hoisting the flag while the guests will seated in the lawns opposite Taramati Masjid. The officials also said nearly 10,000 to 12,000 people can be accommodated in the lawns. And for the first time, a police parade has been planned to be conducted inside the fort. The premises should be made ready for holding the police parade and display of a tableau by January 26, 2015, the CM had instructed the officials.

Accordingly, Telangana revenue officials surveyed the 51 acres (20.30 acres in survey no. 244, 16 acres in survey no. 245 and 14.08 acres in survey no. 246) from 9.30 am to 7 pm on Tuesday and put up boards stating that the land belonged to the Telangana government. However, defence officials arrived at the site around 7 pm and removed the state government boards and put up their own claiming that it was military land. However, at 9.30 pm, the Telangana revenue authorities removed the boards that claimed it was defence land.

On Wednesday, the district administration got the area cordoned off by 6 am and locals and mediapersons were not given access to the site. By the afternoon, Hyderabad collector Mukesh Kumar Meena apprised chief secretary Rajiv Sharma and other CMO officials about the dispute between the state and defence authorities.

After consultations with defence authorities, it was decided that a joint survey of the Golconda Fort would be conducted by the two parties. "Both revenue and military authorities will take up a joint survey of the entire 80 acres of land surrounding Golconda Fort. Since the defence officials claim that they were given the 51 acres of land in 1956, we will exchange documents to decide the ownership of the land," Meena told TOI.
BrahMos: The Brahmastra of India
New Delhi, Aug.8 (ANI): It has been my good fortune to have been associated with the Ministry of Defence in the early eighties as spokesperson for the Ministry, the Armed Forces and the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation was then headed by Dr. Raja Ramanna, He was followed by Dr Arunachalam and Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam. Those were the days when leading arms manufacturing countries in the West were reluctant to sell defence equipment to India, which was a non-aligned country. The Government of India was doing its best to develop weapons within the country.

When the Defence Minister of the Soviet Union visited India in the early eighties and pointed out that we are mostly purchasing equipment from the West, our Defence Minister R. Venkataraman pointed out that when we asked for Soviet equipment, and we were told that we had to wait for years till the demands from Soviet allies were met. In response, the Soviet Defence Minister invited Venkataraman to visit the Soviet Union and choose the equipment that we need and it would be supplied to us on a priority basis.

I had the opportunity to visit the Soviet Union along with Venkataraman, the representatives from the Defence Ministry, the Service Headquarters and Dr. Arunachalam. There was a display of aircraft and other equipment. The Soviet Union agreed to sell India on rupee payment any weapon that we desired. Dr Arunachalam explored contacts for conducting weapons development in India.

A few months later, I recall a visit to Hyderabad when Defence Minister R. Venkataraman was briefed by the DRDL about its effort to develop a missile. We were witness to a basic exercise as to how a missile was to be launched. It hardly made any news, but the Defence Minister soon gave approval to the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.

The sanctioned programme, in 1983, was for the development of a tactical surface to surface missile of 150 kilometer range for the Army, later named as Prithvi, ii) a multi-role missile system for the Army , Navy and the Air Force , later named as Trishul, iii) a surface to air missile with 25 kilometer range for the Army and the Air Force, later named Akash, iv) an advanced anti-tank missile for the Army , later named Nag, and a re-entry test vehicle to develop re-entry technology , later named as Agni.

The importance of missiles in modern warfare was established following the Persian Gulf War which was fought from 2nd August 1990 to 28 February 1991. The visuals received in India through the CNN and BBC made us aware that the war was mostly fought through the firing of missiles.

The development of Indian missiles got a boost. Initially we received assistance from the Russian Organisation NPOM in the development of Akash. The collaboration was a success, and on December 5, 1995, the BrahMos was established, and there was no looking backwards. Dr A. Sivathanu Pillai became the founder CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace with A. G. Lenov, Director General of NPOM of Russia as a collaborator. The share capital investment in the establishment was 50.5 percent from India and 49.5 percent from Russia.

There has been no looking back since then.

Today, we have been able to develop the BRAHMOS system as a multiple platforms, multiple targets, one missile system approach, making it the world's only universal supersonic cruise missile, capable of launching from land, sea and air against various targets on land and sea. Today, the BrahMos has orders worth US D six billion.

The book narrates the story how the BrahMos, starting from scratch, has evolved into a universal missile. It is now a multi-platform, multi-target, multi-role and multi-trajectory capable missile. All this has been achieved in a record time of just less than a decade, when the missile has emerged from the drawing boards to its deployment by the frontline forces. The young scientists and technology community the country has been able to build, as the author has pointed out, must take on tasks to make India stronger and stronger.

Dr Sivathanu Pillai has pointed out in his book that in the 18th century, a whole new and different dimension was given for the use of gunpowder in the Mysore kingdom by Hyder Ali and later by Tipu Sultan. The invention that Hyder Ali made rockets using gun powder as the charge in a professional manner. Tipu Sultan perfected and produced huge quantities of rockets. He also introduced rocket launchers, each one of which fired three rockets at a time. Tipu paved the way for missile warfare throughout the world.

The book deserves to be on the shelf in every school and college in the country. As Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam says in his preface, the book is a valuable narration to young scientists, technologists, techno-managers and the youth and experienced who aspire to excel in this competitive world.

The story that Sivathanu Pillai narrates is exciting. It describes the journey of BrahMos which made India a world leader in missile technology with the fastest, high precision supersonic cruise missile, realised in a short time with a novel collaborative effort between India and Russia. It is the first time experience in an unexplored path to demonstrate "we can do it".

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