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Monday, 24 November 2014

From Today's Papers - 24 Nov 2014

 Army gets new system to train shooters
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The Army has got a new indigenously developed system to train shooters in firing small arms. The new system does away with the manual, time consuming method of determining the accuracy of shots.

Christened Dhvani, the target training system, has been developed by the National Aerospace Laboratories for accurately determining the location of bullet impact and providing real-time feedback to the shooter. It has undergone field trials at Army ranges in Bengaluru, Secunderabad and the Infantry School, Mhow.

The manual system currently used by the Army involves the marksman firing shots at the target and subsequently walking up to the target (up to 300 metre) and identifying whether the shots were a hit or a miss. This required not only high turnaround times but was also inconsistent, unreliable, inaccurate and subjective.

Furthermore, the marksmanship training systems available from foreign sources are mostly based on old technology of 1980s, which also have exorbitant cost of ownership as they are not customised for the Indian environment and necessitate expensive after-sales service.

Dhvani is tailor made to meet the requirements of the Army at a cost lower by 40 per cent of the cost of similar systems available elsewhere in the world, an official statement has claimed. The whole process from firing a shot to displaying of results at the shooter end takes less than half a millisecond. At the shooter end, a multi-functional interactive software on a laptop displays the results. A comprehensive database containing personnel details, shots fired and performance statistics ensures comprehensive logging for later analysis is also possible.

The system is based on basic principles of gas dynamics and aero-acoustics. The point of impact of the bullet is determined accurately by using an array of sensors to record acoustic pressure rise due to the passing shock from bullet.

Real-time feedback for shooter

    Christened Dhvani, the target training system, has been developed by the National Aerospace Laboratories to accurately determine the location of bullet impact and provide real-time feedback to the shooter
    It has undergone field trials at Army ranges in Bengaluru, Secunderabad and the Infantry School, Mhow
 Parrikar for zero tolerance to lapses in coastal security
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
Backed by credible inputs of China widening its arch of influence in the Indian Ocean, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today asked the Indian Navy to ensure that ‘neighbours’ – an obvious reference to China — do not encroach upon our interests.

He also called for zero tolerance to error in the coastal security network and admitted that the surveillance network still has gaps which needed to be plugged.

Parrikar was referring to the gaps despite the high technology. Primarily, 30,000-odd small fishing boats, which are less than 20 metres in length or less than 300 tonnes, do not have automated identification system (AIS) and emit no signal for Navy ships and shore-based controllers to identify them at sea. Finding and locating the rogue among such boats is a challenge.

Parrikar's remarks came at the inauguration of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) at Gurgaon.

Though he did not name China, the Defence Minister made it clear where he was pointing a finger at. “Some of our neighbours were trying to get their navies in the Indian Ocean and the Indian Navy must be watchful of their activities… we have to protect our interests in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)”. The EEZ extends to 200 miles from the coast.

“We do not want to be offensive but we must be strong enough to deter our enemies from casting an evil eye upon us”, he said explaining the Indian stance. People’s Liberation Army (Navy) of China has been using its fleet of 60-odd submarines to silently patrol the Indian Ocean.

The IMAC will get real time feed from locations of Indian interest. A special software will amalgamate information from 46 coast based radars, sensors, high-resolution cameras, ship based radars, air borne surveillance planes, satellites and UAVs.

Information will be assessed and then passed on in real-time to 51 Naval and Coast Guard stations located all along the 7,516 km-long coast line and the islands of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep.

The IMAC, a Rs 450 crore network, is the nodal centre of the National Command Control Communications and Intelligence Network (NC3I Network).

A Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) is being planned after pilot study by Navy. The Ministry of Shipping is also conducting a pilot study on fitting the AIS on the fishing vessels of less than 20 metres.
 Lankan navy arrests 14 TN fishermen

Rameswaram, November 23
The Sri Lankan navy today arrested 14 Tamil Nadu fishermen near Jaffna Peninsula on charges of poaching in Sri Lankan waters. Fisheries Department assistant directors Gopinath and Sekar said the fishermen belonged to Rameswaram and Jagadapattinam in Pudukottai district.

They said three boats of the fishermen had been seized. The fishermen had been taken to Karai Nagar in Jaffna, they said. The arrest comes days after five Indian fishermen on death row were released by the Sri Lankan Government. They were arrested in Lankan waters in November 2011 on charges of drug trafficking.

A group of fishermen were chased away by Lankan navy personnel while fishing in the Palk Strait, officials said. The navy chased away more than 20 fishermen fishing midsea near the maritime borders, officials and a fishermen association functionary said.

Rameswaram Fishermen Organisation chief S Emiret claimed the fishermen were not aware whether the area was Indian or Sri Lankan. — PTI
 Focus back on India-Pak ties as Modi readies for SAARC meet
KV Prasad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
Exactly six months after welcoming leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Nepal to take part in the eight-nation grouping that seeks to become a vehicle to transform relations among its members in social, economic, scientific, technological and cultural fields.

The 18th SAARC meeting is underway in Kathmandu and Prime Minister Modi will be reaching there on Tuesday for the November 26-27 summit meeting, six months to date when he received the SAARC leaders here for the swearing-in of his government on May 26.

Yet, there is no clarity on a possible PM Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif meeting on the sidelines, signalling a thaw in the India-Pakistan relations that turned frosty after New Delhi cancelled the foreign secretary-level talks in August objecting to the Islamabad envoy here meeting Kashmiri separatist leaders. Since then border firing escalated even as many prominent citizens on either side have been advocating that the dialogue process be restarted.

While announcing that the Prime Minister is interested in having a meaningful dialogue with as many South Asian leaders as possible in Kathmandu, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin elaborated, “This would mean taking into account all aspects of relations. It (fixing bilateral meetings) is a work in progress.”

However, in response to a specific question whether Pakistan had sought any meeting, the spokesperson said no such offer had been received. To another question on how New Delhi views Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif urging US President Barak Obama to take up the Kashmir issue with India, the spokesperson reiterated that the bilateral dialogue would have to take place in the framework agreed under the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration.

“There is a simple two-way street to promote peaceful cooperation through meaningful bilateral dialogue. Any deviation is not going to lead to a common destination”.

In response to a question on PM’s visit to Nepal, he said during his last visit to Kathmandu, Prime Minister had expressed a desire to visit Janakpur, Lumbini and Muktinath to highlight strong civilisational links between the two countries. “There has been widespread interest in Prime Minister’s schedule in the upcoming visit to Nepal for the SAARC summit. Due to Prime Minister’s unavoidable domestic commitments and pre-scheduled travels within the country, he will travel only to Kathmandu to attend SAARC summit.

Will he meet Sharif?

    There is no clarity on a possible PM Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif meeting on the sidelines
    The India-Pakistan ties turned frosty after New Delhi called off foreign secretary-level talks in August
    MEA spokesperson said the PM was interested in having meaningful dialogue with as many South Asian leaders as possible in Kathmandu
AFSPA and internal security
Army needs a legal cover to carry out counter-insurgency operations
Gen V P Malik (retd)
Last month three significant incidents took place in the election-charged state of Jammu and Kashmir, which could make policy-makers in New Delhi reflect once again on the deployment of the army on internal security duty.

On the November 3 night an army patrol deployed on a checkpoint in Budgam district fired on a Maruti 800 car in which five boys were travelling. This resulted in the unfortunate death of two boys and injuries to three others. The injured boys were evacuated to the army base hospital in Srinagar by the very patrol that had fired on the car. According to some eyewitnesses, the car when stopped skidded off the road. The army patrol version is that the car did not stop at the checkpoint and tried to escape. The police registered a case of 'criminal intent to kill'. The army, as it usually does in such incidents, ordered a court of inquiry. Somewhat unusually, however, the Defence Minister and the Northern Army Commander took responsibility for the incident, apologised and promised to take action against the patrol. 53 Rashtriya Rifles, whose patrol was deployed at the checkpoint, was moved out. It was replaced with another battalion.

On November 12 a General Court Martial brought the Machil incident to an end (pending approval of the Army Commander) by recommending life sentence to army personnel, including a Commanding Officer (Colonel) and a Captain, after finding them guilty. These army personnel were involved in the killing of three civilians in a fake encounter in Machil four years ago.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah called this decision as a ‘watershed moment’. A national daily editoralised it as 'a glimmer of justice' and went on to ask many questions, including “Is it (army) willing to accept the extent to which it has alienated the people of Kashmir and work towards redressing the sense of injury?” Implied in these statements is the accusation that (a) there is a widespread violation of human rights which till now has been overlooked by the army, and (b) the army is responsible for alienating the people of Kashmir.

No one can deny that a few incidents of human rights violation (like Pathribal) continue to rankle. But such a serious accusation does not take into account the regular investigations and justice done by the army in human rights violations. Four years ago, I was given statistics related to human rights violations between 1990 and August 2011 in 15 Corps Zone (J & K Valley) by the Army HQ. These were (a) Total cases received and investigated — 1,485 (b) Cases proved false — 1,439 (c) Personnel punished in cases proved true — 96. These included four officers cashiered and awarded rigorous imprisonment, 31 officers and other personnel dismissed from service and awarded rigorous imprisonment, 17 personnel reduced to ranks and awarded rigorous imprisonment in military custody, and the remaining (including 32 officers) awarded forfeiture of service for promotion/severe reprimand/ severe displeasure and so on. The Army HQ should make such information public from time to time. The fact is that the army cannot compromise in its discipline or human rights violations.

Within days of the Court Martial award in the Machil incident, Mr Chidambaram, who has been a Cabinet minister in many governments, called the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) ‘an obnoxious Act’. This has reignited misgivings, public anger and resentment on the already demonised AFSPA at an inopportune moment.

By repealing AFSPA we would be doing a great disservice to the army in the performance of its internal security role, and thus to the nation. Demanding army personnel to carry out counter-insurgency/ militancy /anti-terrorist operations without adequate legal cover will result in frequent challenge or disobedience of orders by subordinates and will make army operations in such circumstances ineffective. According to the army leadership, its application needs to continue because (a) the Pakistan army-aided proxy war with 30 to 40 active militant training camps in Occupied Kashmir continues in J&K, and (b) the army garrison/strategic assets spread all over J & K with logistic arteries passing through population centres remain vulnerable.

These events when looked at holistically lead to the macro-level question on the role of the army in assisting the state governments in internal security duties.

The protracted and excessive employment of the army leads to laws of diminishing returns. The reasons are (a) over-dependence on the army reflects lack of trust and faith in the capability of the state and central armed police and para-military forces (b) after a while, locals start treating the army as another police force (c) such deployments and prolonged duties have an adverse impact on the army's discipline, morale and operational effectiveness, and (d) during a war/war-like situation the army needs public support. It cannot afford to alienate the local population.

In earlier days when there were no insurgencies, no militancy and AFSPA, the army was not allowed to be deployed for more than 10 days at a time. Any extension in its deployment had to be approved by the Ministry of Defence.

The army now has been deployed for internal security duties in J&K and the North-East for decades. Despite an improvement in the security situation and the holding of elections several times in these states, neither the civil administration nor the army is prepared to take the risk of taking it off these duties or even reducing its deployment. In 1993-94, after the security situation in Punjab started improving, whenever we moved troops from internal security deployment to the cantonments, the Chief Minister and the DGP would try and dissuade us from doing so. Even army officers would protest sometimes. They had to be convinced that internal security was only a temporary mission. Unless we fade away when the situation has improved, the civil administration cannot assert itself and bring about normalcy.

The fact is that when large numbers of troops remain deployed for decades in such situations, despite intense training and a stringent code of conduct, some aberrations are bound to occur. Although most desirable, it is almost impossible to maintain a zero error human rights track record in such deployments.

The army must not remain deployed for decades and decades, as is happening currently. A reduction in the army deployment would be possible if we can revamp our para-military, central and state police forces: modernise them and improve their leadership, training and man management. But whenever the army is deployed, even for short periods, it will require a legal cover like AFSPA. The AFSPA contents, except for some minor tweaking, should not be discarded.
It’s boom time for Army, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar okays big gun deal of Rs 15,750 crore
New Delhi: New defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday cleared a huge proposal for modernisation of the Army’s artillery arsenal with the proposed acquisition of 814 artillery guns (155 mm) worth Rs 15,750 crore.

This was done at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Saturday morning and was Mr Parrikar’s first meeting as head of the DAC. The Army has not acquired modern artillery guns for more than 25 years since the Bofors guns in the late 1980s and the decision reflects the resolve of the Modi government to fulfil its promise of quick and transparent decisions on defence acquisitions.

Mr Parrikar also decided that there could be even more than one DAC meeting every month, sources said. The possible clearance for this proposal was reported first by Deccan Chronicle on Saturday.

However, two specific proposals before the DAC the proposed manufacturing of 56 transport aircraft by Tata-Airbus to replace the IAF’s ageing Avro fleet and the proposed acquisition of another 106 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the IAF were deferred since the government apparently “wants more information regarding the proposals.”

Sources indicated that these two proposals could come up at the next DAC meeting in December. Meanwhile, the DAC also cleared the acquisition of integrated air command and control systems for the IAF worth Rs 7,160 crore for integrating air and ground sensors.

So far as the acquisition of the 155 mm artillery guns is concerned, sources said these would be mounted gun systems on heavy vehicles such as the Tatra trucks and were meant for deployment on the plains.

A request for proposal (RFP) had been mooted earlier but was scrapped. Sources said a fresh RFP will be issued under the “buy and make (Indian)” category which essentially means that an Indian company can enter into a joint venture with a foreign firm and bid for the contract.

Of the 814 artillery guns, 100 would be acquired “off the shelf” from the original manufacturer while the remaining 714 will be manufactured in India under technology transfer.
Africa's Armies Are Going On A Spending Spree
THE north-eastern Nigerian town of Chibok is spared little. Earlier this year fighters from the extremist group, Boko Haram, abducted more than 200 local schoolgirls. In the past week insurgents and government troops have traded possession of urban districts and surrounding farmland, leaving much of it burnt.

The Nigerian army, one of the biggest in Africa, should have little difficulty scattering the amateur jihadists. But its arsenal is decrepit and its troops poorly trained. Hence the government's decision to spend $1 billion on new aircraft and training, among other things. Critics question how much will go towards appropriate kit (never mind how much gets stolen by corrupt generals) and whether it is sensible to lavish resources on a force implicated in atrocities and human-rights abuses.

These questions resonate across Africa. Last year military spending there grew by 8.3%, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), faster than in other parts of the world (see chart). Two out of three African countries have substantially increased military spending over the past decade; the continent as a whole raised military expenditure by 65%, after it had stagnated for the previous 15 years.

Angola's defence budget increased by more than one-third in 2013, to $6 billion, overtaking South Africa as the biggest spender in sub-Saharan Africa. Other countries with rocketing defence budgets include Burkina Faso, Ghana, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The continent's biggest spender by far is Algeria, at $10 billion.

"Some countries are buying really amazing stuff," says David Shinn, a former American diplomat, now a professor at George Washington University. Ethiopia last year took delivery of the first of about 200 Ukrainian T-72 tanks. Neighbouring South Sudan has bought about half as many. Coastal states such as Cameroon, Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania are sprucing up their navies. Angola has even looked at buying a used aircraft-carrier from Spain or Italy.

Chad and Uganda are buying MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets. Cameroon and Ghana are importing transport planes to boost their ability to move troops around and deploy them abroad, which they have been ill-equipped to do. For peacekeeping duties they generally ask friendly Western governments for help in airlifting troops, or charter civilian planes.

Despite such handicaps, many are participating in a growing number of African Union and UN peacekeeping missions. Once rarely seen in blue helmets, sub-Saharan soldiers are increasingly replacing troops from Europe and Asia. Ethiopians and Rwandans have acquired a reputation as reliable peacekeepers, all the while benefiting from training as well as from reimbursements for purchases of weapons. A new "business model" for African defence ministries is taking shape.

Many African armies are becoming more professional, too. Their troops are more often paid on time, get decent food and go on regular leave, all of which boosts morale and discipline. "Even small countries like Benin and Djibouti now field respectable forces," says Alex Vines of Chatham House, a think-tank in London.

A big issue is whether troops have enough training to handle sophisticated new gear. Chad makes good use of its Sukhoi SU-25 jets--with the help of mercenaries. On the other hand, Congo-Brazzaville only manages to get its Mirage fighter jets into the air for national-day celebrations. South Africa bought 26 Gripen combat aircraft from Sweden but has mothballed half of them because of budget cuts. Uganda spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Sukhoi SU-30 combat aircraft but little on the precision weapons to go with them.

The reasons for African governments to boost arms spending vary. High commodity prices over the past decade (they are now falling) have filled the coffers of many. Some leaders have been tempted to buy expensive arms to gain prestige. Other are suspected of inflating deals to siphon off money for themselves.
Tanks for everything

But some spending is prompted by genuine security threats. The Sahel and parts of east Africa face a range of extreme jihadists. Coastal states have seen piracy soar, most recently in the west. Offshore discoveries of oil and gas have increased the need for maritime security. More traditional threats, internal as well as external, persist in countries such as South Sudan, where the government is fighting rebels while also facing a hostile northern neighbour.

Industrial ambition also plays a part. A number of countries hope to foster defence manufacturing at home. A huge South African purchase of arms from, among others, Germany and Britain, agreed to more than a decade ago, included promises of "offsets" whereby local firms would help assemble jets and ships. Angola plans to build its own warships. Nigeria and Sudan make ammunition. Four European arms manufacturers set up African subsidiaries this year: Antonov is going into Sudan; Eurocopter is in Kenya's capital, Nairobi; Fincantieri, an Italian shipbuilder, is in the country's main port, Mombasa; and Saab is setting up a plant for its military aircraft in Botswana.

These military improvements carry risks. Ambitious officers may misinterpret new might for political right--and may be tempted to seize power, as many have done before. Sophisticated arms may also fall into the wrong hands; witness the array of Libyan weapons that have fuelled conflicts across Africa, from Mali to the Central African Republic, since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi.

These structural changes to African armies may gradually alter the type of war that could be fought on the continent. Since the anti-colonial guerrilla wars of the past century, most African conflicts have been internal. Few countries previously had the ability, let alone the inclination, to fight their neighbours. In the late 1990s, several countries, including Angola and Zimbabwe, sent forces to take part in Congo's civil war--to little avail. Ethiopia and Eritrea fought each other in 1998-2000. Tanzania sent its army into Uganda, along with guerrillas returning from exile, to overthrow Idi Amin in 1978. In general, however, few disputes between African countries have been liable to spark wars. But the build-up of beefier armies is bound to carry a risk.
Army gun arsenal to be revived in big way
The Modi government is planning to modernise the Indian Army’s artillery gun arsenal in a big way. Sources said the government could be considering acquisition of over 800 of the 155mm 52-calibre artillery guns at an estimated cost of Rs 15,750 crore.

The proposed acquisition could come up before the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) now headed by new defence minister Manohar Parrikar at Saturday’s crucial meeting.

Most of the guns are expected to be manufactured in India as part of the Modi government’s strong push for indigenisation. The Indian Army has not acquired any new artillery gun for over 25 years.

The DAC could also consider a joint bid by Tata Sons and European manufacture Airbus to manufacture 56 transport aircraft to replace the Avro fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a possible cost of nearly Rs 12,000 crore.

The DAC could also consider acquisition of an additional 106 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the IAF at an estimated cost of about Rs 8,200 crore.

The government could insist that most of these aircraft be manufactured in India after transfer of technology from the Swiss firm. The IAF is thrilled so far at the performance of the Pilatus aircraft which had been acquired earlier.

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