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Monday, 27 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 27 Oct 2014

 NSG inducts dog breed that sniffed out Osama’s hideout

New Delhi, October 26
A special breed of military canine that is credited to have helped the US navy SEALs in sniffing out al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan is now part of the country’s elite counter-terror and counter-hijack commando operations force National security Guard (NSG).

The special actions force has recently inducted and trained close to a dozen of these four-footed soldiers called — the Belgian Malinois — and they will form an essential part of counter-terrorist operations that the ‘black cat’ commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG) undertake in the future.

“These dogs are the latest inductions that have been done in the operations wing of the NSG. Special forces world over have understood the importance of these dogs in lethal terror operations and hence the force also has inducted close to a dozen of these combat canines,” an NSG officer working in its special ‘K9’ dog squad said.

The dog, which has a heavy snout and a big head, can detect suspect human presence, explosives and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) with a precise correctness and it is intelligent enough to communicate these signals through a nod of his head and not by barking which could lead to alerting of the target, the officer said.

NSG officials said the commandos, till now, had been operating with other dog breeds like German Shepherd and Labradors but the new canine companion will give them the “required edge” in special operations.

The NSG is the mandated federal counter-terror and counter-hijack special operations force of the country which is deployed to undertake swift, lethal and precision tasks in combating situations like the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The force has also trained special handlers for these dogs who will remain on standby with each of the commando strike units of the NSG.

The Malinois, a litter of an Israeli male Malinois crossed with an Amercian bitch, shot to international fame when it was reported that the dogs of the breed assisted the US special forces, the Navy SEALs, in sniffing out bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad in Pakistan in 2011.

The coarser looking breed is preferred for infantry patrols and commando operations because of its ability to perform and deliver good results in high-risk tasks in difficult terrains and harsh climate areas.

In India, this breed of dog was first inducted by border guarding force ITBP in 2011 for working in special counter-insurgency areas. — PTI

The Belgian Malinois

    The special actions force has recently inducted and trained close to a dozen of these four-footed soldiers called — the Belgian Malinois
    They will form an essential part of counter-terrorist operations that the ‘black cat’ commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG) undertake in the future
    The dog, which has a heavy snout and a big head, can detect suspect human presence, explosives and IEDs with a precise correctness
    NSG commandos, till now, have been operating with other dog breeds such as German Shepherd and Labradors but the new canine companion will give them the “required edge” in special operations.
 Won’t allow India to resolve K-issue its own way: Pak
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz has blamed India for wanting to resolve the Kashmir dispute in its own way, which he said Pakistan would not allow.

“India wants to resolve the Kashmir dispute in its own way and Pakistan will not allow this Indian attempt to succeed,” he said while speaking to reporters in Islamabad.

The adviser added that Pakistan is responding to Indian firing along the Line of Control (LoC) and working boundary in a befitting manner, adding that Pakistan’s desire for peace should not be mistaken as its weakness.

Referring to India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement disapproving of Pakistan’s recent move of approaching the UN to ‘internationalise the Kashmir issue’ and seeking the world body’s intervention, saying all issues could be resolved through bilateral talks, Aziz said, “UN resolutions on Kashmir cannot be ended in this way.”

“We are making efforts at international level to make the UN Military Observers Mission more active,” he said while talking about cross-border firing by India.

“The government will send emissaries and delegations to different countries to inform them about the Indian aggression on the Line of Control and human rights violations in occupied Kashmir by the Indian forces,” he said.
 Drug, staff shortage in ECHS polyclinics hitting patients hard
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
Defence veterans in the region are complaining of an acute shortage of medicines, including essential drugs, in polyclinics being run by the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS).

“There was no shortage of medicines till 2013. The situation, however, has deteriorated in the last 10 months,” said Col Kuldip Singh Grewal (retd), president of Punjab ex-servicemen welfare association. As a result, patients, especially old and invalid coming from far-flung places, are unable to get the required medicare, he said.

A pilot project was conceptualised to outsource the dispensation of approved medicines to private vendors to overcome the drug shortage. The file of this project was sent to the Ministry of Defence in January this year, but approval has yet to be granted.

The Armed Forces Medical Stores Depot (AFMSD) at Delhi is responsible for bulk procurement of medicines and issuing the same to various ECHS polyclinics through Military Hospitals. Polyclinics located at non-military stations have local purchase powers to buy medicines from the market in case of non-availability from dedicated sources. Similarly, Military Hospitals have been adequately equipped to purchase short supply medicines from local chemists. Though adequate provisions exist for ensuring medical supplies, procurement has apparently taken a hit.

Official sources said the shortage of medicines in ECHS polyclinics has been a matter of concern for long, with the satisfaction level of the supply of medicines being only 60-65 per cent. Some measures, including the proposed outsourcing of pharmacy services, have been initiated to alleviate this problem. ECHS authorities are also going in for fixing rate contracts and price agreements with supplies for different stations.

Launched in April 2003, the ECHS, at present caters to 13.41 lakh veterans and 31.35 lakh dependants. While there has been a consecutive increase in the number of veterans subscribing to the scheme, the number of dependants has, over the past few years fallen by about 1.36 lakh due to removal of ineligible individuals.

Sources said inadequate medical, para-medical and auxiliary staff in polyclinics was another major shortcoming in the scheme and the issue was being redressed through hiring additional contractual staff. The authorisation of medical staff across the board has been increased from 5,091 to 6,800.

To further streamline the scheme’s functioning, certain policies and operational guidelines have been modified. The rates of some specialist and super-specialist treatment that can be claimed by empanelled hospitals have been revised. The ECHS management has also permitted subscribers to choose their parent polyclinic depending upon the place of post-retirement settlement.
 Navy orders probe into financial irregularities

New Delhi, October 26
The Eastern Naval Command has constituted a Board of Inquiry (BoI) to look into allegations of financial irregularities against some senior naval officers.

The board will investigate the allegations made by Shipwright Artificer Sunil Kumar Sahu, a sailor posted at INS Kattabomman in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, a statement said.

The sailor, in two written complaints made October 13 and October 20, raised allegations of financial irregularities against his superior officers.

A three-member BoI, headed by a Commodore-rank officer, is expected to submit its findings in a fortnight.

The statement said Sahu has been carrying out non-strenuous duties as he suffers from generalised seizures and low backache. On Oct 22, he was observed to be in a state of hyper anxiety and agitation.

Considering the limited medical facilities at Tirunelveli and safety of the sailor, Sahu was shifted to the nearest naval hospital Sanjivini Oct 23 for observation and medical attention.

On a request from the sailor, his family has been permitted to accompany him to the hospital, as a special case. — IANS
 Rao Inderjit visits Chandimandir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh visited Headquarters Western Command in Chandimandir today. He was given an update on the operational, training and administrative aspects by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt Gen KJ Singh.

Addressing the officers and other ranks of the military station, the minister assured them of full support of the government in ensuring high standards of operational readiness and welfare. He also reiterated the government’s commitment towards the demand of implementation of One Rank-One Pension formula for retired armed forces personnel, according to an official statement issued here.
Modi must walk the talk on Indian army
A Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to the Siachen Glacier on the festive occasion of Diwali last Thursday to spend time with the Indian military units that are deployed at altitudes of 22,000 feet in what is often described as the highest battlefield in the world.

From the base camp located at 12,000 feet to the icy glacial heights, the deployment of Indian troops to defend Siachen for three decades and more is an extraordinary testament to the professionalism of the Indian Army and the Air Force.

Rich in symbolism, Modi’s visit effectively reminded both the troops deployed and the nation at large about the institutional relevance of the military in the larger national effort and this is a marked contrast from the UPA tenure under then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A.K. Antony where the civil-military connect was formal and limited.

Communicator par excellence, Modi used social media and other outlets to highlight the purpose of his visit and observed: “I have specially come on the occasion of Diwali to be with you. I am aware how it feels like to spend Diwali with your family... my coming to this place will not fill the void of your family members, but as a representative of 125 crore [1.25 billion] people... after being with you I feel proud and satisfied.”

This is not the first visit by an Indian prime minister or defence minister to Siachen, and it may be recalled that soon after India established control of the glacier in 1984, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi took keen interest in the aviation-related aspects of accessing the glacier. Subsequently, during the first NDA regime, defence minister George Fernandes was an ardent Siachen visitor and Manmohan Singh also paid one visit to the glacier in 2005.

Hostile environment

Apart from raising the morale of the troops and conveying his government’s commitment to national security and sovereignty, and suitably acknowledging the sacrifices made by the military, the Modi visit would also have accorded the prime minister an opportunity to get a first-hand appreciation of the extremely hostile physical environment in which the Indian military units operate and the human and material costs entailed in defending the glacier.

Siachen is strategically located along the northernmost slant of the composite Jammu and Kashmir state and opens up beyond grid reference NJ 9842 into the un-demarcated and hence contested territorial claims of India and Pakistan. In 1984, the Indian Army consolidated its position on the icy heights. The line dividing the Indian and Pakistani militaries is referred to as the AGPL, or the Actual Ground Position Line. The Siachen region also has a China-related strategic relevance for India. In 1962, China had already occupied the disputed Aksai Chin area, thereby giving Beijing a stake in this complex and differently contested territorial issue.

Thus, for the political leadership in Delhi, the Siachen issue is not merely a bilateral India-Pakistan matter but part of the larger strategic challenge that the Sino-Pakistan axis poses. These are some of the politico-strategic elements embedded in Siachen and Modi’s visit will help him and his cabinet to acquire a more nuanced understanding of the issues involved, and thereby take a comprehensive policy approach to India’s principal neighbours — China and Pakistan — that is both equitable and sustainable.

One of the fundamental challenges of statecraft for the leader of a democratic nation is to harmonise the dialectic between the inexorable principle of power and the inherent power of principle. Few leaders have been able to successfully harmonise these compulsions and Indian prime ministers from Nehru onwards are no exception. Will Modi be the exception?

The Indian military today faces a wide spectrum of internal challenges and inadequacies and these would have been brought to the attention of Modi in his recent interaction at the combined commanders’ conference. Notwithstanding these gaps — both material and human resource — national commitments like Siachen have to be effectively addressed.

Symbolism is only one part of the political effort. Modi and his cabinet colleagues entrusted with the national security responsibility have to methodically enhance tangible national military capability in the four years ahead of them.

At the moment earnest, patriotic intent has been repeatedly articulated by Modi; but the litmus test will be in empathetic political and budgetary support to the various military-related initiatives that have been announced in Siachen and elsewhere.

The tweet for the #PMModi: ‘The nation is watching. Deed must match word.’
Britain to thank India for WWI role on October 30
NEW DELHI : Colonel Amarsinh Savant (Retd) is excited about October 30. That evening, the former 82 Armoured Regiment officer, now based in Kolhapur (Maharashtra), will be attending a special function at the British High Commissioner's residence commemorating India's contribution to the First World War. Colonel Savant's great grandfather had sent all his six sons to fight for the King Emperor—a great sacrifice that was acknowledged by King George V himself. His grandfather died a hero's death fighting the armies of the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Ctesiphon in 1915, during the Mesopotamian campaign of the Great War: a theatre that had over 5,70,000 Indians almost singlehandedly driving the British Empire's war effort.

"I believe it will be a proud moment for India when Britain will officially acknowledge on Indian soil that they couldn't have prevailed in the Great War without the Indian Army. My grandfather Risaldar Sardar Bahadur Govindrao Savant led a cavalry charge by the Maratha squadron of the 31st Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers (now 13 Lancers, Pakistan Army) on November 22, 1915 and died in action. He was awarded the Victory Medal posthumously. But his elder brother, Wamanrao Savant, then a captain of Third Light Infantry, Gwalior State Forces survived the war and retired from service as a colonel. His four other brothers survived too. I am the eighth generation of my family in the army and I am proud of my grandfather's achievement," Savant told TOI.

The event will see the handing over of digitized war diaries of the Indian regiments that fought in the Great War, six memorials for Victoria Cross winners and a memorial tablet expressing gratitude of the people of UK. British High Commissioner Sir James Bevan is expected to acknowledge India's decisive role in the war and the immense sacrifices that this country made.
Earlier, Brigadier Brian McCall of the British Army, who's the defence adviser at the High Commission, had told TOI in an exclusive chat that anyone who would attend the event would walk away with his chest swelling with pride. However, there has been some anguish on the British side with the Indian armed forces not confirming their participation at the event. But a highly-placed source on the Indian side did confirm Indian Army's participation to this correspondent on Friday.

Elsewhere in Belgium, India for the first time acknowledged with pride her own participation in the First World War. An agency report quoted India's Ambassador to Belgium, Manjeev Singh Puri, as having said at a function at the War Museum in Brussels on October 24, "This is a bond of solidarity. This is something that brought 130,000 soldiers from India a hundred years ago in the October of 1914 to Belgium where they joined many other countries in the defence of Belgium, Europe and to set a new global order in place. As a country, we are proud at the contribution of the soldiers from India and the Indian Army. We are very proud that we are part of this great endeavour that has led to global governance changes."
Before leaving for the event in Belgium, military historian Squadron Leader Rana Chhina (Retd) had said that the USI-CAFHR's India and the Great War commemoration project has covered a lot of ground and will do more over the next four years. "Hopefully, when our project ends, the strictly Euro-centric and predominantly white narrative of the First World War would change, and no mention of the war would be possible without acknowledging the Indian role," Chhina added.

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