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Saturday, 31 January 2015

From Today's Papers - 31 Jan 2015

Sindhuratna fire: Commanding Officer to be court-martialled
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
Eleven months after an accident onboard submarine INS Sindhuratna killed two Indian Navy officers, the Commanding Officer of the vessel, Commander Sandeep Sinha, will be court martialled while six others, including a senior officer in charge of submarine operations, will be given Letters of Severe Displeasure.

The then Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi had resigned “taking moral responsibility” for the accident on February 26 last year. Navy Chief Admiral Robin K Dhowan handed out the punishment to the seven officers, sources confirmed today. Commander Sinha -- who is equal to a Lt Colonel in the Indian Army — will face a general court martial. The six others who have been awarded Letters of Severe Displeasure include Commodore SR Kapoor, the Commodore Commanding Submarines (COMCOS-West). He is equal to a Brigadier-rank officer and was aboard the vessel that fateful day.

Two more officers from the office of the COMCOS and three other officers posted on board the submarine face punishment. Displeasure will mean no promotions and no career progression for two years from the date the punishment is notified.

INS Sindhuratna, commissioned in 1988, was undergoing inspection after a refit when the fire occurred, resulting in the loss of life of two officers --- Deputy Electrical Officer Lt Commander Kapish Muwal and Watch-Keeping Officer Lt Manoranjan Kumar.
The accident occurred around 100 km west of Mumbai. Seven sailors, who had fainted due to inhalation of smoke, were airlifted using naval helicopters from mid-sea to the Mumbai-based naval hospital INS Asvini. A total of 70 officers and men were on board. Sources said the Navy has punished these officers for acts of "omission and commission". The incorrect use of batteries -- borrowed for sea trials from another Kilo-class submarine the INS Sindhukesri -- is said to be one of the causes of the accident.
Return of the Chindits: MoD reveals cunning defence plan

The British military is setting up a specialist force modelled on the Chindits, the commandos who gained renown through their daring missions behind enemy lines in Burma during the Second World War.

The Chief of the Army, General Sir Nick Carter, believes that the radical new plan is essential to face the “asymmetric” battlefields of the 21st century, where tactics and strategies differ significantly between enemies, such as with Isis. Key lessons, he says, can be learned from the campaign carried out against the Japanese by Allied troops using unconventional tactics seven decades ago.

The 2,000-strong brigade will have the same number, 77, and the same emblem – of a Chindit, a mythical Burmese beast – as the one under Brigadier Orde Wingate. But, as well as being ready for combat, the troops will be armed with modern skill sets including being adept in social media and new technology.
One of the key reasons behind the successful operations of the Chindits was the support they received from the local population against the Japanese forces. General Carter holds believes the winning of “hearts and minds” has never been more important.

Senior officers hold that a range of current conflicts, from Iraq to Ukraine, have shown how the information war is as vital as the ones fought with weapons. The brigade, which will be formally unveiled in April with headquarters at Hermitage, near Newbury in Berkshire, will be responsible for all “non-lethal deployment” of the UK military abroad.

The troops are supposed to deliver “means of shaping behaviour through the use of dynamic narratives” with teams focusing on psychological operations and interaction with the media. They will also take the lead in providing reconstruction and humanitarian assistance and help with strengthening civic society and local security forces.
The make-up of the brigade also reveals the shrinking size of the Army, with no less than 42 per cent of the recruits coming from the reserves. Increasing numbers of them are replacing regular troops amid cutbacks.

But General Carter insisted the large contingent of part-time soldiers is actually a major advantage. “The brigade consists of more than just traditional capabilities. It is an organisation that sits at the heart of trying to operate ‘smarter’. It comprises a blend of regular troops from all three services as well as reserves and civilians. It will be seeking to draw the very best talent from the regulars and reserve as well as finding new ways of allowing civilians with bespoke skills to serve alongside their military counterparts.”

“The brigade,” said the Ministry of Defence, “has been formed to respond to ever changing character of modern conflict and to be able to compete with agile and complex adversaries.” The Chindits “fought in such difficult conditions adopting a new type of warfare, using a mixture of original creative thinkers who integrated with local indigenous forces to multiply effects, the exact requirement for the modern age”.
PLAN to deploy range of warships in Indian Ocean, says China's defence ministry
The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will deploy a range of naval vessels into the Indian Ocean region in the future, said a senior military official during a press conference on 29 January.

The comment by Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, a spokesperson at China's Ministry of National Defense (MND), comes against the backdrop of increased PLAN deployments to the region since it first took part in international counter-piracy efforts off Somalia in 2008. Since then, the PLAN has progressively expanded the frequency and type of naval vessels - the latter now to include submarines - that it sends to the Indian Ocean.

"In the future, the Chinese military will send different kinds of naval ships to take part in the naval escort missions in accordance with the situation and the requirement to fulfil the task," Col Yang told reporters.

The colonel was responding to a question on the PLAN's submarine movements in the Indian Ocean and described the service's intended deployments as "normal activities" and that "there is no need to read too much into them".

"The Chinese military has sent various kinds of naval ships to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast to conduct escort missions since 2008 - and in the process, we have notified relevant countries of the escort missions of the PLA naval ships, including the PLA naval submarines", said Col Yang, although he did not name the countries.

The PLAN had no significant blue-water capability until the mid-1990s and was absent from the Indian Ocean region until 2008, when a squadron of three ships led by the Type 052C 'Luyang II'-class guided-missile destroyer Haikou (171) sailed through the Malacca Strait to participate in the international Somali counter-piracy campaign. The deployment was described by observers as China's first naval deployment outside the Asia-Pacific region since the 15th century.

Today, the PLAN is deploying the 19th rotation of its naval escort fleet to the counter-piracy campaign. Over the years, this rotational task group has conducted goodwill visits to a number of Indian Ocean countries including Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. In September 2014, a PLAN submarine, reported to be the Type 039 Song-class diesel-electric boat Great Wall , visited the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

As well as seeking to protect critical sea lines of communication across the Indian Ocean, along which it ships natural resources home to its population as well as transporting their products to market, China may be seeking to expand its presence in the Indian Ocean to offset the political-military constraints it faces in the Pacific Ocean region given the increasing US focus on that region and the existence of a number of territorial disputes with countries such as Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
Russia says nuclear arms to keep military edge over NATO, United States
MOSCOW, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Russia's top general said on Friday a strong nuclear arsenal will ensure military superiority over the West as Moscow forges ahead with a multi-billion dollar plan to modernise its forces by 2020.

Russia, facing a likely recession because of a fall in oil prices and sanctions over Ukraine, must deal with new forms of Western aggression, including economic confrontation, said Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov.

But despite the deep economic woes, he said the Russian military would receive more than 50 new intercontinental nuclear missiles this year.

"Support for our strategic nuclear forces to ensure their high military capability combined with ... growth of the military potential of the general forces will assure that (the United States and NATO) do not gain military superiority over our country," said Gerasimov.

Tensions between Russia and the West have risen over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where the United States and Europe say Moscow is fuelling an insurgency by sending in troops and weapons. Moscow denies this.

Russia has criticised NATO expansion in eastern Europe and President Vladimir Putin has accused the Ukrainian army, which is fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, of being puppets of NATO with a policy of "containing" Russia.

Russian war planes have increasingly been spotted over Europe in recent months. Britain summoned the Russian ambassador on Thursday to complain about two Russian long-range bombers that flew over the English Channel, forcing British authorities to reroute civil aircraft.

Russia promises to push through by 2020 a more than 20-trillion-rouble ($286.62 billion) military modernisation plan conceived by Putin, and military expenditures will remain unchanged even in the face of a growing economic crisis that has cut the budgets of other ministries.

The modernisation project aims to revamp Russia's weapons systems to assure that 70-100 percent of the armed forces weapons and equipment has been modernised by the end of the decade -- a plan confirmed by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

"We plan to fulfil the government armament programme and reach by 2020 the intended quantities of modern weapons systems," he said at the meeting.

Russia keeps its state nuclear capabilities shrouded in secrecy, but its military has approximately 8,500 warheads in total, including those non-deployed -- some 1,000 more than the United States possesses -- according to a study last year by the Center for Arms-Control and Non-Proliferation.

Speaking against a backdrop of rising prices brought on in part by a weaker rouble, Gerasimov said Russia had to deal with new kinds of Western aggression.

"Western countries are actively using new forms of aggression, combining military as well as non-military means. Political, economic and information methods are also being used," Interfax news agency cited him as saying. (Reporting by Thomas Grove, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Crispian Balmer)

Friday, 30 January 2015

From Today's Papers - 30 Jan 2015

Martyred Col cremated, daughter lets out war cry
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 29
Eleven-year-old Alka Rai, daughter of Colonel M N Rai who was killed in a gunbattle with militants on January 27, today tried to  overcome her personal grief by letting out the fierce war cry of the Gorkhas — ‘Jai Maha Kali,  Ayo Gorkhali.’  Colonel Rai (39), an officer of the 2/9 Gurkha Rifles, was commanding the 42 Rashtriya Rifles when he was killed.

The shout, from the young girl, even moved battle-hardened Army men. Amid the grief, the tender but firm voice broke the silence and bystanders realized what had happened when she uttered the final words.

Colonel MN Rai was killed in Pulwama district in South Kashmir while leading his quick response team from the front. A day earlier, he had been honoured for his bravery and awarded a Yudh Seva Medal on the Republic Day in recognition for his capability and success as a Commanding Officer.

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, himself from the Gorkha Rifles (4/5 GR), placed a wreath as hundreds gathered to pay their last respects to the officer at the Delhi Cantonment. The Army Chief assured the family of all help.

The officer is survived by his wife, two daughters and six-year-old son. The brave officer was given a gun salute. The funeral pyre was lit by the officer’s elder brother Col D N Rai, who is also from the Gorkha Rifles. The officer’s younger brother YN Rai, an officer with the CRPF, was also present. Among others present included members of Col Rai’s regiment and Rashtriya Rifles unit besides top officers from the army headquarters.

“He was a very brave officer having been awarded Yudh Seva Medal on January 26. And it is an example of his leadership that the moment he got the information about two terrorists in that area, he took charge”, the Army Chief said.
Police, Army bands enchant audience at Beating the Retreat
Tribune News Service

Jammu, January 29
The Beating Retreat ceremony at Maulana Azad Stadium here this evening marked the grand finale of the Republic Day celebrations.

It was witnessed by Governor NN Vohra, First Lady Usha Vohra, Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, senior civil, police and security forces officers, students and citizens of Jammu.

Various bands of the Army, BSF and the police played enchanting tunes and received applause from the audience.

The Governor gave away prizes to the brass band and pipes and drum contingents for their outstanding display on the occasion.

He also presented awards to J&K Police Public School, Miran Sahib (Girls) and Government Hari Singh Higher Secondary School, Jammu, (Boys) for the best march past.

The Governor gave the award for the best band contingent to Girls High School, City Chowk, Girls High School, Dogra Hall and Girls High School, Kacchi Chowani, Jammu. Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Shastri Nagar, got the award for the best cultural item.

The Directorate of National Rural Health Mission got the award for best tableaux at the state-level Republic Day celebrations at MA Stadium on January 26.

The fireworks added colour to the ceremony. The function concluded with “Sare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara” and the National Anthem.
Indo-US defence deal may create strategic imbalance in S Asia: Pak

Afzal Khan in Islamabad
Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Tasnim Aslam on Thursday said the Indo-US defence deal might create strategic imbalance in South Asia.

She said this while addressing mediapersons in Islamabad on the recent visit of US President Barack Obama to India. She expressed concern that India’s defence budget had increased by 12 per cent in 2014-15.

She said the Indo-US trade deal and other agreements struck during the US President’s recent _visit to India were a bilateral matter between those two countries.

The Indo-US trade deal is their bilateral matter, Aslam said, adding that Islamabad also enjoyed good economic and trade ties with the US which _was Pakistan’s biggest trading partner.

While Obama’s visit to New Delhi was under way, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff) Raheel Sharif travelled to China where he was promised cooperation in “all respects”.

Addressing mediapersons, Aslam said Pakistan attached great importance to its relations with Beijing because China was a _source of peace and stability in the region.

Pak Punjab Guv quits over ‘anti-govt’ remarks

Pakistan Punjab province Governor Chaudhry Sarwar resigned on Thursday following a conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over his statements on the government's foreign policy. “Obama's visit to India is a failure of the Pakistan government. The second visit of Obama to India is Pakistan's big failure on foreign affairs front as it should have arranged his visit to Pakistan,” Sarwar said in his statement after Obama's trip to India. In a damage-control mode, the government claimed that Sarwar was asked to submit his resignation. “Unfortunately, the truth is in scarce supply in this country,” Sarwar said adding that nobody asked him to resign.
Sikh, Brigade of Guards regiments adjudged best
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 29
The Brigade of Guards Regiment and Sikh Regiment have been jointly adjudged the best marching contingents among the contingents of the Services at the Republic Day Parade 2015.

In the category of paramilitary forces and other auxiliary marching contingents, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) contingent has been adjudged the best. The results were announced by the Ministry of Defence today.

Among the 25 tableaux — including nine from Union Ministries and Departments — that took part in the parade, the first position has gone to Maharashtra which depicted “Wari to Pandharpur” (the pilgrimage to Pandharpur).

While Jharkhand's entry on “Maluti Temples” was adjudged the second best, the third position was bagged by the Karnataka tableau, based on the famous Channapatna toys.

In the competitive category of schoolchildren's items, the 'daang' dance of Gujarat presented by the West Zone Cultural Centre, Udaipur, has been adjudged the best. A consolation prize was awarded to South-Central Zone Cultural Centre, Nagpur, for their beautiful portrayal of 'lezim' dance of Maharashtra.

The tableau, giving a majestic floral depiction of 'Gaumukh', presented by the CPWD was selected for a Special Prize by the Jury.

As in the previous years, the Ministry of Defence, this time too, had appointed three panels of judges for assessing the marching contingents from three Services, paramilitary forces and tableaux from various states, ministries, departments and schoolchildren's items from schools of Delhi as well as outside Delhi.

The winning contingents, tableaux and schools will be awarded trophies and prizes by the Defence Minister later in separate functions.
Kashmir solution vital for regional peace, says Pak

Islamabad, January 29
Upping its ante on Kashmir, Pakistan today said resolving the long-standing issue was "pivotal" to the regional peace and security as it called on the international community for a "sustainable and lasting solution" to the dispute.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry briefed the Ambassadors of the P-5 countries and the European Union here today ahead of 'Kashmir Solidarity Day' on February 5.

Calling the "struggle for self-determination" in Kashmir as "indigenous", the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that Chaudhry reaffirmed Pakistan's "unflinching political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people".

"He emphasised that resolution of the Kashmir dispute was pivotal for ensuring peace, security and stability in the region," the statement said. The Foreign Secretary stressed that the resolution of this long-standing dispute must be ensured in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

He also underscored the crucial role of the international community in helping to bring about a "sustainable and lasting solution to this issue", the statement said.

Chaudhry said elections in the "Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK) could not be a substitute to the UN-monitored plebiscite" and also expressed "concern over the Indian attempts to alter the ground situation through demographic changes".

Chaudhry also briefed the Ambassadors of P-5 or the five member countries of the United Nations Security Council - United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France - on the recent positive developments in the bilateral relations with Afghanistan. — PTI
Akash induction unlikely to hit France’s Maitri project

Tribune News Service

Bengaluru, January 29
Despite the adoption of the indigenously developed surface-to-air Akash missile by the Indian armed forces, French missile manufacturer MBDA is hopeful of the Maitri project in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The delay in the development of the Akash Mk-II missile has raised the French company’s hopes.

“Do you have a date?” Loïc Piedevache, chief of MBDA’s India operations, says with sarcasm when he was informed about that the Akash-II could put the short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM), to be developed under the Maitri project, out of contention in India.

The Akash missiles that are now deployed by the IAF and the Army have outdated technology, says Piedevache. Defending himself, he said, “I am not saying Akash is a bad missile. All I am saying is that Akash meets certain requirements while the SRSAM meets some others,” says the MBDA country head.

The SRSAM on offer will have a seeker which the Akash does not possess. The launch trajectories of Akash and the proposed SRSAM are also different.

The Maitri project for joint development and production of a short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) system was initiated in 2007 between the DRDO and MBDA. A MoU to co-develop the missile was signed during French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India in 2013. Since then, the situation has changed as the Indian Air Force has inducted the Akash surface-to-air missiles. The Navy, the other potential client for SRSAM, has apparently given up on the Indo-French venture and has started looking for surface-to-air missiles elsewhere.

Admitting that the Maitri project has been facing delays, Piedevache says the delay is primarily due to the change at the Central government in Delhi. “The groundwork for the missile has been completed and we may be only days or weeks away from getting the final approval from the government,” he said.
Applause should not stop
Let''s value role of men and women in uniform at all times

Colonel Munindra Nath Rai’s status on mobile messaging service WhatsApp sums up the man: “Play your role in life with such passion that even after the curtains come down, the applause doesn’t stop.” The 39-year-old was the youngest of 13 officers awarded the Yudh Seva Medal on Monday for killing a terrorist last year. A day later, he died fighting terrorists in Kashmir. Also killed in the encounter in south Kashmir was a Head Constable of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Sanjeev Singh. His last status message: “It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save.” Both of them are martyrs, both remembered by a grateful nation today. But what about tomorrow, and the day after? What about their loved ones, the real victims in a way? Do we care? Have we ever cared enough about families of such heroes?
Republic Day is one occasion when India shows to some extent that it does care, it does take pride in what the armed forces stand for. Though the spotlight at the January 26 parade this time was on US President Barack Obama, two women stood out. Wives of Ashok Chakra recipients Major Mukund Varadarajan and Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh, both of whom died fighting terrorists in Kashmir, they moved an entire nation to tears with their poise. With what one of them, Indhu Varadarajan, said later, she gave all of India a reason to introspect deeply: “I knew he would have liked me to take this award with pride. Sorrow is my personal matter, the country needs to see the man he was. I won’t blame the country if it forgets, because I don’t expect much. I want my family never to forget. I just want him to be remembered patriotically.”
A familiar answer in jest and in all seriousness in the armed forces to the question of “who supports the troops” is “the troops themselves”. They will continue to do so doubtlessly. The country has forgotten that it has to as well. At all times.


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