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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

From Today's Papers - 04 Feb 2015

Book on war heroes to be part of school syllabi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 3
The Ministry of Human Resource Development today asked the country's apex body handling school syllabus to compile a book celebrating the sacrifices and valour of war heroes.

HRD Minister Smriti irani told the National Council for Education Training and Research (NCERT) to publish the book in consultation with the Ministry of Defence. She said the book could be titled, "Veergatha".

The statement was made at the 52nd General Council Meeting of NCERT) which Irani chaired. "NCERT should compile a book in consultation with the Ministry of Defence on the persons who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom of our nation. The book could be named as Veergatha. Special emphasis may be given to women achievers and freedom fighters in the book," Irani said..
Jordanian pilot ‘burnt alive’ by IS
Amman vows strong & decisive response to avenge killing
Amman, February 3
Islamic State militants released a video on Tuesday appearing to show a captured Jordanian pilot being burnt alive, and Jordan promised to avenge his death.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the content of the video, which showed a man resembling airman Mouath al-Kasaesbeh standing in a black cage before being set ablaze. But the reaction of the Jordanian authorities made clear they treated it as genuine. "The revenge will be as big as the calamity that has hit Jordan," army spokesman Colonel Mamdouh al Ameri said in a televised statement confirming the death of the pilot, who was captured in December when his plane crashed over Syria.

A government spokesman said in a statement that Jordan would deliver a "strong, earth-shaking and decisive" response. The fate of Kasaesbeh, a member of a large tribe that forms the backbone of support for the Hashemite monarchy, has gripped Jordan for weeks and provoked rare protests against King Abdullah over the government's handling of the crisis.

The king cut short a visit to the United States to return home. The head of the Jordanian armed forces broke the news of the pilot's death to his family, a relative told Reuters.

Jordan had said last week it was killing to hand over an Iraqi woman detained for a role in a 2005 suicide bombing in Amman, if Islamic State would release the pilot. But Jordanian state TV said on Tuesday that he had been killed a month ago, on January 3. The White House said the intelligence community was studying when the video was recorded and that President Barack Obama had ordered his team to devote all resources to locate other hostages held by Islamic State.

A staunch US ally, Jordan is part of the alliance against the Islamic State group that has seized large areas of Syria and Iraq. King Abdullah has defended the campaign from domestic criticism, saying that moderate Muslims need to combat a group whose ideology and brutality have insulted Islam.

Obama said the video, if real, would redouble the determination of a U.S.-led alliance to degrade and destroy Islamic State. He said it would be another sign of the "viciousness and barbarity" of the militants.
"Whatever ideology they're operating off of, it's bankrupt," Obama told reporters.

In the video, the burned man wore orange clothes similar to those worn by other foreign Islamic State captives who have been killed since the U.S.-led coalition started bombing the militants in July.

Islamic State has released videos showing the beheadings of five U.S. and British hostages and said that it has killed two Japanese captives in the same way. It has meted out the same treatment to many more Arab prisoners.
The militants have stepped up the gruesome killings while coming under increased military pressure from U.S.-led air strikes and a push by Kurdish and Iraqi troops to reverse their territorial gains in Iraq and Syria.

Jordan had been demanding the release of Kasaesbeh in exchange for Sajida al-Rishawi, jailed in Jordan for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people. Islamic State had previously demanded Rishawi's release in return for the life of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.

In the Islamic State video, Kasaesbeh is interviewed, describing the mission he was due to carry out before his jet crashed. The video also showed footage of the aftermath of air strikes, with people trying to remove civilians from debris. — Reuters

Jordanian King cuts short visit to US
Jordanian King Abdullah (pic) cut short a visit to the United States on Tuesday after Islamic State militants released a video purporting to show a captive Jordanian pilot being burnt alive. “His Majesty the King, the supreme commander of the armed forces, has cut his visit to the United States after the news of the martyrdom of the hero pilot," state television said.

Jordan to execute ‘swap deal’ militant

"The Jordanian authorities will execute “within hours” an Iraqi woman militant the government had sought to exchange for a Jordanian pilot held captive by the Islamic State"  A Jordanian government source
How Soldiers Get Orders at Line of Control. New And High-Tech
 For decades, soldiers of the Indian Army deployed in bunkers along the Line of Control have received their orders from commanders in bases often located far away over the radio. 

Not any more. 

According to sources, soldiers in frontline positions of a strategically important Corps of the Indian Army are now receiving their orders digitally - through a data-radio set which transmits on Very High Frequency (VHF) or Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and is configured  to prevent enemy intercepts. 

The capability is considered a fundamental force multiplier for the Indian Army, a key element in its transition to a digitally-savvy Army. 

The data-radio set, built indigenously by the state-run Bharat Electronics Limited, looks like a smart-phone, but is designed to send and receive signals off the Army's own secure Mobile Cellular Communications Systems. The data-radio has other uses as well.  It can transmit video, allowing commanders to review a tactical situation in real-time. Accurate operational decisions in critical situations can now be taken quickly on the basis of a better understanding of just what is happening on the ground. 

What's more, a soldier or squad equipped with the data radio can get a precise geographical fix of the locations of other friendly units using the same system, making the need to communicate through radio redundant in many situations. In the event a data-radio is lost, it can be remotely taken off the Army's grid.

By 2018, the Indian Army hopes that five of its 13 Corps will be equipped with the system.

The data-radio is a small but important part of the Indian Army's transformation into a digital Army, a force which will eventually use satellite, VHF/UHF, fibre-optics and hard-wired links to connect each and every soldier in the most remote locations. All Army battalion headquarters are connected through the Wide Area Network which provides secure communications between units through a desktop-to-desktop messaging application. But last-mile connectivity to forward posts is still a few years from being completed.  

The Digital Army programme operates on two parallel tracks - Operational Management Systems, details of which remain mostly classified, and Peace Management Systems aimed at providing increasingly computer-savvy jawans and officers with apps. The idea is to go digital for the receipt of transfer orders, handle the payments of pensions, and receive and process applications for Army recruitment. 

Army sources point out that they are confident their system is resilient to hackers. The system itself is not connected to the internet and cyber security officers have been deployed in every unit. Ultimately, the Army wants to move to its own Cloud storage system, the infrastructure for which largely exists, but that will require a policy review. The cloud system, once operationalised, will store all non-classified information relevant for every Indian soldier.
Indian army to create cloud database for soldiers
The Indian Army plans to use e-governance widely and has an ambitious plan for a cloud database which can store all unclassified information about soldiers.
“Things like certificates and other information about soldiers can be saved in a cloud. This will be accessible from any place and save time,” army sources said Tuesday.

This is part of the army’s ambitious plan to connect soldiers through an internal network of optical fibres.

“The army data network is a backbone which provides each unit of the army a digital data capability,” an army official said on condition of anonymity.

Computer training programmes for soldiers have been on for long, and this will make the soldiers tech-savvy.

The sources said the policy on giving telephone connectivity was also being reviewed, but refused to comment what changes might be made.

This comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year called for a ‘Digital Armed Force’ and asked the defence forces to give serious thought to upgrading technological skills.

Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh, during the Army Day parade this year, acknowledged the emergence of cyberspace as the new domain of warfare and the constant threat emerging out of it.

He also stressed the need of a robust cyber defence architecture to protect the networks.
New Indian radar offers aircraft protection against bird hits
A new Indian radar - a global first - offers protection against the menace of aircraft bird hits while another can detect and track unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the company that developed them said Tuesday. The company is eyeing domestic and international markets.

The two radars, among the four indigenously developed, are to be unveiled at the Aero India 2015 exposition at Bengaluru later this month, Sanjay Bhandari, founder chairman and managing director of OIS-Advanced Technology (OIS-AT), told reporters here.

The other two radars are a foliage penetration minefield and IED detection system, and a portable ground surveillance radar system for military and homeland security applications.

"We have worked diligently over the past few years to create our own intellectual property to invest, design develop and manufacture these advanced technology radars," Bhandari said.

"It is with great pride that we are launching these four advanced radar systems for global markets, in essence taking Indian intellectual property and manufactured product to advance our expanded vision of taking Make in India to the world," he added.

Giving details, he said the 3D bird detection system has an impressive deterrence option, using directed bio-acoustics (sound) and an eye-safe laser, both of which are automatically controlled by the radar system.

The UAV detection system, Bhandari said, can, at the click of a mouse, be automatically tuned for latching onto the drones or even high-speed fighter aircraft and helicopters.

"Unlike most air surveillance radars today, it includes a unique sense-and-avoid feature to identify UAVs that may be on a collision course, allowing the controller to take remedial action," he added.

The foliage penetration system can identify people with weapons and other assets from a fixed-wing aircraft or a UAV.

"With product availability slated for year-end, this system can also detect mines and buried improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to help sanitise routes and discover minefields," Bhandari said.

The company, he said, "has used an underlying user-focused design philosophy recognising that different customers have differing needs woldwide. Our four radars are designed to offer 34 configuration options for military and non-military use", he said.

This apart, the company will announce at Aero India (Feb 18-22) its technical collaborations as the OEM for advanced air defence systems for select military programmes in India.

"These technology collaborations with a number of NATO alliance-based countries will have us bid for the L-70 Successor Air Defence Gun programme (L-70S), of the Indian Army, the Close In Weapons System (CIWS) and the Pechora System Upgrade Air Defence Programmes of the Indian Air Force," Bhandari said. "The manufacture of these proven yrvhnology systems in India will advance our vision of the government's Make in India initiative."
Army bar on highrise rattles realty
KOLKATA: A letter from the military headquarters, Bengal Area, has rattled civic bosses in Kolkata and is sure to shake up the city's realty sector.

It prohibits highrises in a radius of 500 metres from military establishments in 18 locations in the city and Salt Lake — from Ballygunge to Baranagar and from Dum Dum to Dakshineswar. The Army later issued a statement saying they had not barred construction but builders have to get an NOC from the local military authority.

Realizing that KMC stands to lose hundreds of crores in revenue, mayor Sovan Chatterjee has said he will take it up with the defence ministry.

Going by the letter, KMC and other municipalities concerned can't approve building plans in the specified areas. "There are several applications from these areas for building plan sanction," an officer in the KMC building department said.

Two such projects are within 500 metres of the Alipore Ordnance Depot — a 40-storied residential highrise on Diamond Harbour Road and a 24-storey building on DL Khan Road. These two projects would have fetched KMC at least Rs 50 crore, say sources.

KMC officers are in a fix. What of the buildings already existing in the prohibited areas? "We are not talking about Fort William. But there are locations such as Dum Dum, Ballygunge or Sahpur where people have built houses (within the 500 metres of military establishments). What will KMC do if someone wants to pull down the old house and build a highrise?" an official wondered.

A senior officer at the Bengal Area HQ said there is no question of prohibition. "I fail to understand why KMC should raise a hue and cry about this. Under Works of Defence Act, state governments have to issue a gazette notification marking the defence installations and stating that an NOC from the military is needed for highrise constructions within 500 metres of any installation. Most governments have already done so."

He said they raised the issue with the state chief secretary and asked for a gazette notification. "KMC sought more details and we provided it. Why should this be an issue now," he wondered.

This is not the first such letter from the Army. Some time ago, Fort William had asked KMC to stop construction of a highrise at Hastings, close to the Bengal Area HQ. KMC honoured the request. But this time, the mayor sounds defiant. "I don't think that the local military has any say on this matter. I am yet to realize the threat and the danger. I am going to take it up with the defence minister," he said.

States seem to have varying stands on this law. Andhra Pradesh government has followed it, making it mandatory for builders to get NOC from the military for constructions near defence pockets/ military establishments. The Maharashtra government, on the other hand, has already written to the defence ministry to lift the ban.

Strangely, two decades ago, the military had a different stand. A brigadier had then proposed to sell off the club tents on Kolkata Maidan and allow real estate development on a portion of Maidan. It was shot down by the top brass.

Civic officials wonder how such restrictions can ensure the safety of defence establishments when everything, including Rashtrapati Bhavan, can be located by using Google Earth.

Builders have reacted with disbelief. Credai-Bengal president Sushil Mohta said that while a buffer around a critical installation like Fort William was understandable, it didn't make sense to apply the same rule for other areas like Gokhale Road where it has a recruitment centre.

"The Army can put its properties under different grades with a ban on construction around Fort William; requirement of prior approval for some less critical installations; height restriction on some others and perhaps the necessity to simply inform them of a project in the rest. There must be some justification in its demands," he said.

"After all, this is a metropolis. Civilians and Army personnel should co-exist. The Army cannot unilaterally say that a person who owns a property next to its facility cannot rebuild or develop it. This will be infringement on personal right and will not be tenable in court," Mohta added.

A Bengal Area officer, however, pointed out that Bombay high court ruled in favour of Navy in 2013 in a case where highrise construction had already started in place of an existing house.

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