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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)

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