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Thursday, 5 February 2015

From Today's Papers - 05 Feb 2015

Chandigarh officer is IAF’s safety chief

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Air Marshal Jasjit Singh Kler has taken over as Director General (Inspection and Safety) at Air Headquarters. Prior to this, he was serving as Inspector General (Air) with the Border Security Force.

Commissioned into the helicopter stream of the IAF in December 1980, he has flown close to 8,000 hours on various helicopters — flying mostly in _the Siachen Glacier _and the eastern sector. He is a qualified flying instructor.

H has served as Senior Air and Admin Staff Officer, Maintenance Command, Deputy Commandant of the Air Force Academy, Air Officer Commanding of Air Force Station New Delhi, Station Commander of Air Force Stations, Jammu and Salua and command of a Mi-17 helicopter unit. He also was posted at Namibia to raise and train the Namibian helicopter element.

A third generation officer from Chandigarh, he is an alumnus of College of Defence Management and National Defence College, Bangladesh, and holds a degree in MBA as well as a master’s degree in public administration.
Jordan hangs 2 Iraqi militants after IS burns pilot alive
AMMAN, February 4
Jordan today hanged two Iraqi jihadists, including a female militant, in response to an Islamic State video showing a captured Jordanian pilot being burnt alive by the hardline group.

The IS had demanded the release of the woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, in exchange for a Japanese hostage whom it later beheaded. Sentenced to death for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack in Amman, Rishawi was executed at dawn, a security source and state television said.

The prisoners were executed in Swaqa prison, 70 km south of Amman, just before dawn, the security source said. “They were both calm and showed no emotions and just prayed,” the source added without elaborating.

Jordan, which is part of the US-led alliance against the IS, has promised an “earth-shaking response” to the killing of its pilot, Muath al-Kasaesbeh, who was captured in December when his F-16 crashed over northeastern Syria. Jordan also executed a senior al-Qaeda prisoner, Ziyad Karboli, an Iraqi man who was sentenced to death in 2008.

The fate of Kasaesbeh, a member of a large tribe that forms the backbone of support for the country’s Hashemite monarchy, has gripped Jordan for weeks and some Jordanians have criticised King Abdullah for embroiling them in the US-led war that they say will provoke a militant backlash.

King Abdullah cut short an official visit to the US on Tuesday. In a televised statement to the nation, he urged national unity and said the killing was a cowardly act of terror by a criminal group that has no relation to Islam.

Kasaesbeh’s father said the two executions were not enough and urged the government to do more to avenge his death. “I want the state to get revenge for my son’s blood through more executions of those people who follow this criminal group that shares nothing with Islam,” Safi al-Kasaesbeh said. — Reuters
Pak says India changing Kashmir’s demography

Islamabad, February 4
Upping the ante on the eve of ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’, Pakistan’s Parliament today passed a resolution asking the UN and the world community to play a role in resolving the Kashmir issue even as the government accused India of trying to change the demographic mix of Kashmir by settling non-Kashmiris in the Valley.

The resolution passed unanimously reiterated Pakistan’s continuous political, moral and diplomatic support for Kashmiri people and said that the lingering dispute should be resolved through a “fair and transparent plebiscite”.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Chairman of Kashmir Committee of the Parliament, moved the resolution ahead of ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ being observed in Pakistan tomorrow. The resolution called upon the Indian government to allow human rights organisations to visit the Kashmir Valley. The resolution said the Kashmir dispute is a centrepiece in Indo-Pak dialogue and its resolution is imperative for durable peace and stability in the region. It also called upon the UN to strengthen the role of UN military observer group. — PTI
Pentagon:_India working on overcoming hurdles

Washington, February 4
Aimed at addressing the problems of ageing equipment and to better posture itself in defence against Pakistan and China, the Modi government is working to address impediments to its major military modernisation drive, the Pentagon has said.

“India is in the midst of a major military modernisation effort — undertaken by all three military services — to address problems with its ageing equipment and to better posture itself to defend against both Pakistan and China,” Lt Gen Vincent R Stewart, Director of Defense Intelligence Agency told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing on global threat assessment yesterday.

New Delhi, he said, is working to address impediments to modernisation, such as its cumbersome procurement process, budget constraints, and a domestic defense industry that has struggled to provide military equipment that meets service requirements.

Noting that relations with Pakistan remain strained, Stewart said both sides engaged in periodic skirmishes on or near the Line of Control that separates Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, resulting in the highest number of civilian casualties since 2003. Occasional unofficial track-II dialogue continued throughout the year, but resulted in little progress in resolving bilateral disputes, he said. — PTI
US mulls providing Kiev with arms
Ukrainian forces have suffered battlefield setbacks | Putin shows no sign of blinking
Moscow/Kiev, February 3
By considering giving weapons to Kiev, the United States could be contemplating a risky venture which advocates say would help end the conflict in Ukraine but opponents warn might fan the flames of war.

A senior US administration official said on Monday no decision had been made on whether to send arms to help Ukrainian forces fight Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Considering such a move stems from frustration with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s refusal to blink over Ukraine, despite Western sanctions and a financial crisis in Russia, and concern over a surge in violence in past weeks.

It also reflects a dilemma: What can the West do if sanctions don’t work, or don’t work quickly?

“A stronger Ukrainian military, with enhanced defensive capabilities, will increase the prospects for negotiation of a peaceful settlement,” said a report by the Washington-based Atlantic Council, which suggested military aid should include light anti-armour missiles, drones and armoured Humvees.

Such words are welcome to Kiev’s pro-Western leaders, whose forces have suffered battlefield setbacks and who accuse Russia of sending troops and weapons to back the rebels.

Speaking in the northern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Tuesday, President Petro Poroshenko expressed confidence that Kiev’s Western allies would rally to its help if need be.

“I do not have the slightest doubt that a decision about the possibility of supplying arms to Ukraine will be made by both the United States and our other partners because we must have the means to defend ourselves,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Right now, Ukrainian troops holding a rail hub near the city of Donetsk are under pressure from separatists, whose artillery and missile attacks are commanded by Russian military specialists.

Russia denies the accusations of direct involvement. It says Washington has shown its true colours by backing what Moscow regards as Kiev’s desire to end the crisis by crushing the rebels rather than though diplomacy.

Sending arms to Kiev might not even have much effect on the conflict, critics say, and could encourage a full-scale Russian onslaught on Ukraine’s army that might increase the possibility of direct Western intervention.

“Sending weapons is fanning the flame of this conflict and also actually grist to the mill for the Ukrainian government, which is doing everything it can to drag the United States and West further into this dispute,” said Otfried Nassauer, head of the Berlin Information Centre for Transatlantic Security. — Reuters

Shell lands near hospital in Donetsk, 3 dead

    At least two shells landed near a hospital in the separatist-controlled eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Wednesday, killing at least three persons nearby
    Pictures from the scene showed a huge crater in the ground in front of Hospital no. 27 in Donetsk's Kirovsky district after shells struck the area
    A statement on the website of the rebel-controlled city administration said an artillery shell had hit the building and that there were dead and wounded
    A Reuters cameraman said the hospital itself had not been hit, though its front windows had been shattered by debris after one shell slammed into the ground

Western dilemma over delivery of weapons

    Western governments have shown little appetite for the idea of sending in international peacekeepers, which would likely have to include Russians and would be unacceptable to Kiev. And a line of thinking may be developing in the West that Putin may only respect force and will only blink if his bluff is called.
    Fifteen US senators wrote to President Barack Obama on Tuesday urging Washington and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to "rapidly" increase military assistance to Ukraine with equipment such as anti-tank weapons, counter-battery radars and armoured Humvees

France, Germany in denial mode

    France will not for the moment deliver weapons to Ukraine for its fight with pro-Russian separatists, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday her government did not support arming Ukraine with "deadly, lethal weapons" to fight the separatists
IS gunmen storm Libyan oilfield, 4 dead

IS gunmen storm Libyan oilfield, 4 dead

Tripoli, February 4

Gunmen linked to Islamist militants assaulted and seized control of a Libyan oilfield in the second high-profile attack in the country in a week, Libyan officials said on Wednesday.

A French diplomatic source in Paris said four local employees were believed to have been killed in the raid on the remote al-Mabrook oilfield south of Sirte on Tuesday night.

France’s Total has a stake in the site but it is contracted to a Libyan company. “Unknown gunmen stormed the Mabrook oilfield last night,” National Oil Corp (NOC) spokesman Mohamed El Harari said, without providing details.

Ali al-Hassi, spokesman for an oil guard force, blamed Islamists for the attack. “The field is outside of our control,” he said. “Islamic State is controlling it.”

Rival armed factions have been fighting for almost two months for control of Libya’s biggest oil ports, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, on the Mediterranean coast.

Four years after the overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi, the country is in turmoil with two rival governments controlling different areas, each with their own armies.

It was not immediately possible to verify the assertion that Islamists were involved. — Reuters
US Technology Could Change How India Fires Planes Off Ships
New Delhi:  India wants to use state-of-the-art US technology to boost the range and potency of a planned aircraft carrier, defence sources said, in a move that would tie their arms programmes closer together and counter China's military influence in the region.

The proposal, referred to only obliquely in a joint statement at the end of President Barack Obama's recent visit to New Delhi, is the clearest signal yet that Washington is ready to help India strengthen its navy.

Although the aircraft carrier in question would not be ready for at least another decade, such cooperation could act as a balance against China's expanding presence in the Indian Ocean.

The Defence Ministry declined to comment.

After years of neglect, India's navy is in the midst of accelerated modernisation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It inducted an old aircraft carrier from Russia in 2014 to add to an ageing British vessel likely to be decommissioned in 2018. Last year, soon after taking office, the PM cleared funds to ensure another carrier being built domestically was ready for service in 2018.

He also endorsed navy plans for a further carrier, which would be its biggest, and it is this one that may be built with US technology.

Defence officials said this could lead to direct US participation in building the 65,000-tonne INS Vishal carrier.

At the heart of the proposed collaboration is a US offer to share the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which means jets can launch off a flat deck at a faster rate and with less fatigue to aircraft.

Naval planners want a carrier that can launch heavier planes. India's existing carrier force uses ski-jump ramps to help planes take off and brings them in using wires to slow them down. For that reason, planes have to be lighter and are fewer in number.

India's navy planners hope to increase the number of aircraft on board the INS Vishal to 50 from 34, and field heavier fighter jets with longer reach.

Two sources familiar with the issue added that the US response to Indian overtures had been cool until very recently.

"Things are finally beginning to look a lot more positive," said one of the sources, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

"EMALS is one of the most revolutionary things in carrier technology because it completely changes the way you fire a plane off the top of a ship," said James Hardy, Asia-Pacific Editor for IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
No combat role for lady officers: Army tells defence ministry
The army may have celebrated its lady officers on Republic Day and showcased Nari Shakti (women power) for visiting US President Barack Obama, but it is still not ready to give them combat roles, HT has learnt.

The Indian Army has conveyed to the ministry of defence and the chairman, chiefs of staff committee, that "no combat role is envisaged" for lady officers, sources have told Hindustan Times.

“Restrictions on frontline combat deployment will continue,’’ a senior defence ministry official told HT.

The army’s recommendation came before the parade toasted women power in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for promoting Nari Shakti.

In a first, three services — the army, navy and the air force — were represented by all-women marching contingents at this year’s Republic Day function.

Wing Commander Pooja Thakur had a day earlier earned the distinction of being the only woman officer to command the tri-service guard of honour for a visiting head of state when Obama was given a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Army chief General Dalbir Singh had on January 27 hosted a reception in honour of lady officers and commended them. “We are working on career progression plans for them. Their contribution is immense,” he said.

The progression did not include combat duties, at least that is what the army has told the defence ministry.

“The army is of the view that its women officers cannot be enrolled into its fighting arms like the infantry and the artillery just yet,” another defence ministry official said.

“Given the army’s involvement in counter-insurgency operations, it feels the terrain and working conditions are not conducive for women, either in the jungles of the northeast or in insurgency areas like Kashmir.’’

When contacted, the army refused to elaborate. “The matter is sub judice,’’ said additional director general, public information, Maj Gen Shokin Chauhan.

Several lady officers have taken the army to court, challenging their work conditions and seeking greater benefits. They have asked for permanent commission like most of their male counterparts.

HT spoke to several lady officers who have quit the force and they expressed disappointment at the army’s move. “Nari Shakti is not just about us marching on the Rajpath. We are not dolls in uniform. Don’t just pay lip service,’’ said one officer who did not wish to be named as her husband is with the army.
Guv urges DM to get Jammu airport land vacated by Army
Jammu, Feb 4: Governor N N Vohra Wednesday sought intervention of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for vacation of land by the army at Jammu airport.
A Raj Bhavan spokesperson said Governor has addressed a letter to Union Defence Minister to seek his urgent  intervention to ensure against there being any further delay in handing over of the remaining Defence land at Satwari to the State Government/Airport Authority of India (AAI) for the extension of Jammu Airport.
He said Army is required to hand over 136 kanals 08 marlas of Defence land at Satwari to the State Government for its eventual transfer to the Airports Authority of India to facilitate the now very long pending extension of the existing runway at Jammu Airport, from 6700 feet to 8000 feet towards the river Tawi end.
“The State Government has already handed over 138 kanals 12 marlas of forest land at Sunjwan to the Army in lieu of the Defence land at Satwari which the Army is required to hand over. The Army have so far handed over only 20 kanals of Defence land to the State Government/AAI, despite reminders,” the spokesperson said.
In his letter to the Defence Minister, Governor has mentioned that any delay in the completion of the runway expansion may result in avoidable accidents.
Microsoft To Share Windows Source Code With Indian Army

The Indian Army will be using proprietary Windows source code of Microsoft with an aim to develop Secure Operating System.

“Microsoft has agreed to give the source code. Selection of a secure operating system is on,” an Army officer was quoted as saying by Deccan Herald on February 3.

Access to the source code will assist the Army to make its software more impregnable to cyber attacks. Indian Army takes every precaution in the book to secure its systems while expanding its digital footprint.

At the core of the digital backbone, lies a high bandwidth Army data network that has connected almost 2500 Army units all over the country. Several software and applications are being developed to improve the communications between the ranks.

But live streaming of the operations is still not on the cards. As a large number of IT hardware is manufactured in China, the defence forces have a screening system in place to check the presence of any hidden malware.

Sharing of the Windows source code was a matter of contention as the US firm had refused to part with the code to Indian government agencies in the past.

With the entry of the Linux in the Indian market more than a decade ago, Microsoft had stated it was willing to discuss source code sharing issues with the Indian government.

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