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Friday, 14 November 2014

From Today's Papers - 14 Nov 2014

Army convicts its own
Admission of guilt a sign of maturity

THE Army has finally done justice in the Machil fake-encounter case of Kashmir in which three innocent villagers were killed by soldiers near the LoC in 2010 and shown as infiltrators. Two officers and five other personnel have been sentenced to life imprisonment by a General Court Martial. This is in sharp contrast to the Pathribal encounter in Anantnag district in 2000, in which five persons were killed and falsely declared militants. The Army had taken over the case from the civilian authorities and subsequently declared that there was no prima facie evidence to proceed against the personnel involved. That case was cited particularly by people agitating against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act imposed in Kashmir, under which troops are protected from legal action.

The Machil case can thus be seen as coming of age of the Army, which is otherwise one of the most respected organisations in the country. This is particularly so when seen with the recent acceptance by the Army that the shooting at five youth in a car by its troops in Srinagar was a mistake. Two persons had died in the incident in which soldiers displayed inexplicable zeal in opening fire at a vehicle that was moving away from them.

Correctives are required at many levels. The Srinagar shooting was obviously the result of inappropriate training and supervision. The basic training of soldiers is not in handling law and order problems. Thus before deployment in civilian areas they have to be particularly briefed and closely monitored while on duty. The Army also needs to relook at its 'rules of engagement'. Fake encounters, however, are a failure of the entire reward and punishment system within the Army that has led some officers to believe that showing ‘kills’ at any cost is must for their careers. Finally comes the matter of justice. It requires great fortitude for an organisation to indict its own, especially when the blot will be on the entire force. The need is now to sustain the courage the Army has shown.
Nepal confers honorary title to Indian Army chief
Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag was today conferred the title of honorary rank of General of Nepal Army by President Ram Baran Yadav.

Yadav also felicitated Gen Singh with the insignia of the Nepal Army in the presence of Vice President Parmananda Jha and senior Nepal Army officers at a function held in the Rastrapati Bhawan, Sheetal Niwas here.

Nepal and India have an old tradition of conferring the title of the chief of the army staff by respective heads of the state.

Earlier today, Singh, who is heading a six-member delegation, called on Prime Minister Sushil Koirala at his office at Singhdurbar.

They discussed Nepal-India military cooperation and matters of mutual interest, Prime Minister's Foreign Affairs adviser Dinesh Bhattarai said.

Singh, who arrived here yesterday on a four-day official visit, met with his Nepalese counterpart Gen Gaurav Shumsher Rana and discussed ways to step up bilateral defence ties.

Singh praised the contributions made by Gorkha soldiers of Nepal in the Indian military service and assured that the government is committed to provide welfare incentives to the former Gorkha army in par with the ex-army personnel of India in view of their service in the Indian security.

"We are ready to provide medical facilities to hundreds of ex-servicemen residing in Nepal," Singh said.
Ex-Gurkhas may get ex-Indian Army men's facilities

By Anil Giri
Kathmandu, Nov 13 (IANS): Visiting Indian Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag said Thursday that the Indian government is contemplating providing to former Gurkhas welfare facilities similar to Indian Army ex-personnel.

The Gurkhas have made important contributions in the Indian Army, he said during a meeting with Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who also looks after the defence portfolio, adding that "we are positive to provide equal facilities to ex-Gurkhas as ex-Indian army's men."

If the Indian government provides such parity, the ex-Gurkhas will enjoy medical and canteen facilities among others.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Private Secretariat, the Indian Army chief has recommended the integration and rehabilitation of former Maoist militants with the Nepal Army and of some in Nepali society.

"This is set to create a new history in the world," said Gen. Singh. During Thursday's meeting, he and the prime minister recalled the historic relations between the two armies.

Koirala said that Nepal and India have excellent relations in every front and hailed the India's contributions to Nepal's socio-economic development.

He also briefly touched upon the contemporary Nepali politics and the ongoing constitution drafting bid and said that Nepali leaders would be able to promulgate a new constitution by Jan 22, the date set by the Nepali politicians.

"We have successfully ended the decade-long civil war and insurgency, finally integrated and managed the insurgents, but we still have some disputes. Our efforts are on to resolve these disputes by consensus," said the prime minister.

The issue of federalism like number of states and on what bases these states should be formed, is one of the key contentious issues, he said.

The Indian Army chief arrived in Kathmandu Wednesday on a four-day visit at the invitation of Nepal's army chief Gen. Gaurav Sumsher Rana.

Later Thursday, he will be conferred with the honorary title of Nepal Army General in a function organised at Nepal's President's Office. Nepal and India have a long tradition of exchanging the honorary tiles between each other's armies.
India test flies light combat chopper
Bengaluru: India Wednesday conducted the maiden test flight of its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) as a technology demonstrator in this aerospace hub.

"The 20-minute maiden test flight of the indigenously built third LCH prototype was flawless," defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) said in a statement here later.

The multi-role combat chopper was piloted by Wing Commander Unni Pillai with Group Captain SHK Nair as co-pilot, while it was escorted by the HAL-built Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).

"The LCH is intended to be an effective weapon platform to deliver precision strikes at high altitudes by the Indian Air Force (IAF)," HAL chairman and managing director R.K. Tyagi said on the occasion.

The state-run HAL plans to achieve initial operational clearance (IOC) for the LCH in the next 10 months after its four prototypes undergo series of test flights.

HAL plans to roll out 179 light combat helicopters for the defence forces, primarily for IAF and the Indian army.

The chopper's first technology demonstrator (TD-1) was first flown March 29, 2010, and the second version (TD-2) flew June 28, 2011. Since then, the first two prototypes have flown 388 times logging 285 hours and 10 minutes.

The third and fourth prototypes (TD-3 and TD-4) will be extensively flown to test its operational parameters under cold and hot weather and weapon firing trials.
Modi Policy Step Opens India Military Maintenance Market
A deadly Indian naval accident last week underscored the nation’s need for the upkeep of military hardware, a requirement that’s seen stoking opportunities for private companies following an easing of defense rules.

A little-publicized change in June scrapped a rule that forced private companies to obtain permits before seeking military maintenance work. Outsourcing the Indian air force’s maintenance needs alone might create a $3 billion industry and more than 50,000 jobs, according to KPMG in India.

“The de-licensing of military maintenance, repair and overhaul is a big step forward from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in the defense sector,” said Amit Cowshish, a distinguished fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. “The market is huge.”
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The policy step may loosen state companies’ grip on the maintenance industry and is part of a package of measures by Modi that includes allowing higher foreign investment in defense. The premier has made modernization of the armed forces a priority since taking office in May, as he grapples with border disputes with Pakistan and China and greater Chinese naval power.

Defense equipment upkeep can be treated as a service rather than an industrial activity, eliminating the need for an industrial license, according to a June 26 memorandum issued by India’s Department of Defence Production.
$8 Billion Maintenance

Service providers such as Taneja Aerospace & Aviation Ltd. (TAA) and Air Works India (Engineering) Pvt. Ltd. stand to benefit from the liberalization, said Amber Dubey, head of aerospace and defense at KPMG in India. The defense units of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., Larsen & Toubro Ltd. and Tata Sons Ltd. may also be interested in the business, according to Dubey.
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India may spend $20 billion on military aircraft alone in the next five to seven years, and the value of maintenance work typically is equivalent to about 40 percent of the purchase price, according to estimates from the MRO Association of India.

Paris-based Safran SA’s unit Snecma on Oct. 21 signed an agreement with India’s Max Aerospace and Aviation Pvt. Ltd. to create a joint venture offering military aircraft engine maintenance, repair and overhaul services in India.

India surpassed China in 2008-2012 to become the world’s largest importer of major conventional weapons, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates.
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State Dominance

India’s armed forces have more than 1,200 planes and helicopters of Indian, Soviet, French, British and Swiss origin, 136 warships and about 6,400 tanks and infantry combat vehicles.

Military maintenance, repair and overhaul work for now is mostly done by state-owned companies such as Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and government-run dockyards and repair depots.

While private companies no longer need permits to enter the industry, they will need to convince the armed forces that they can do the work. State companies will otherwise continue to get the business, according to Lieutenant General A.S. Chabbewal, a former master general ordnance of the Indian army.
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At least one sailor died when the navy ship sank on Nov. 6, an incident that came less than a month after a fighter jet unexpectedly ejected its pilots and crashed.

“The reason why the flooding could not be controlled is a cause for serious concern,” India’s Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhowan said in New Delhi. “We’d like to go into the details and find out what were the drawbacks and the shortcomings with regard to any material failure or any maintenance issue.”
Jet Crash

A Sukhoi fighter jet ejected its pilots without warning as they tried to land in the western city of Pune on Oct. 14. The pilots survived. The air force grounded the fleet of about 200 such aircraft, which are built in India under a Russian license.
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The Sukhoi fleet has “problems,” India’s Chief of Air Staff Arup Raha said in New Delhi about a week before the crash.

Last year, 18 people died in India’s worst submarine accident. Two navy officers perished in a fire aboard another submarine in February.

Allowing greater participation of private companies in maintenance, repair and overhaul should help improve the defense industry, according to KPMG’s Dubey.

“The long standing fallacy that only entities owned by the government can be trusted is being broken,” he said.

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