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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

From Today's Papers - 21 Apr 2015

Stealth destroyer INS Visakhapatnam launched
Shiv Kumar

Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 20
India’s indigenously built stealth destroyer INS Visakhapatnam was launched at the Mazgaon Docks Ltd facility today. The warship was launched by Minu Dhowan, wife of naval chief Admiral RK Dhowan.

INS Visakhapatnam is the first ship of the Project 15B class of destroyers being built in India. The ship is 163 metres long and has a displacement of 73,000 tonnes, according to MDL.

Four more ships of this class are under construction and will named after cities Murmagao, Paradip and Porbandar. The construction of this ship involves several technologies that were employed for the first time. “This the first ship to be built in India featuring virtual designing and 3D modelling,” said Rear Admiral AK Saxena, Director General Naval Design.

The Navy said the INS Visakhapatnam is one of the most advanced stealth ship in the world and would be equipped with the multi-function surveillance threat alert radar (MF-STAR) from Israel. The ship will also carry 32 Barak 8 long-range surface-to-air missiles.

Costing Rs 29,430 crore, INS Visakapatnam will be inducted into the Navy by 2018. Naval officials said the ship would be equipped to operate in conditions of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare due to the installation of the Total Atmosphere Control System (TAC).

“The TAC system allows you to operate in a fall-out region — nuclear, chemical or biological. The air entering the ship passes through nuclear, biological and chemical filters,” Rear Admiral Saxena added.

Equipment on board include state-of-the-art weapons, sensors, an advanced action information system, an integrated platform management system, sophisticated power distribution system and a host of other advanced features.
China, Pak ink pact on economic corridor project through PoK
‘All-weather friends’ sign 51 agreements during Xi’s maiden Islamabad visit
Islamabad, April 20
China today struck 51 agreements with all-weather ally Pakistan, including the multibillion dollar economic corridor through the PoK that will expand the communist giant’s influence in India’s neighbourhood.

Chinese President Xi Jinping formally unveiled the ambitious 3,000 km-long China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during his historic maiden state visit to Islamabad.

The strategic corridor - regarded as the biggest connectivity project between the two countries after Karakoram highway built in 1979 - will shorten the route for China’s energy imports from the Middle East by about 12,000 km.

The CPEC will link China’s underdeveloped far-western region to Pakistan’s Gwadar deep-sea port on the Arabian Sea via PoK through a massive and complex network of roads, railways, business zones, energy schemes and pipelines.

The corridor - expected to be ready in three years and provide about 10,400 MWs of electricity - gives China direct access to the Indian Ocean and beyond.

Pakistan and China signed a total of 51 agreements after Xi held talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Both the leaders witnessed the agreements signing ceremony.

Sharif welcomed Xi and referred to China as an “all- weather friend”. “There have been critical changes in China and Pakistan, and major regional and international development, but our ties have remained robust,” he said.

Pakistan hopes the investment - the initial focus of which is on electricity - will end its chronic energy crisis and transform the country into a regional economic hub by stabilising its cash-strapped economy that had forced it to seek loans from the World Bank and the IMF in the past.

“This corridor will benefit all provinces and areas in Pakistan, and transform our country into a regional hub and pivot for commerce and investment... This corridor will become a symbol for peace and prosperity,” Sharif said.

Xi, who has travelled to Pakistan on his first foreign visit this year after postponing it earlier, gave a green signal to the project despite serious security concerns in China’s restive Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province as well as the Taliban threat in Pakistan.

Xi said China is prepared and willing to help strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to fight terrorism.

The two sides believe that the layout and construction of the corridor should take into account the interest of various regions of Pakistan so that the building of the corridor will benefit people, Xi said.

Providing an outline of the project on Friday, Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao played down India’s concerns of it being laid through the PoK, saying that it is a commercial project.

“The project between China and Pakistan does not concern the relevant dispute between India and Pakistan. So I do not think that the Indian side should be over concerned about that,” he said. Xi’s two-day trip is the first by a Chinese president is nine years. — PTI
Air strike on missile base in Yemeni capital kills 15
Sanaa, April 20
An air strike on a Scud missile base in the Houthi rebel controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa triggered a big explosion that blew out windows in homes, killing at least 15 persons and wounding dozens on Monday, medical sources said.

Saudi Arabia has led an alliance of Sunni Arab countries in air strikes against the Iran-allied Shia Houthi group and army units loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemen's state news agency Saba, run by the Houthi movement, said the bombing resulted in "dozens of martyrs and hundreds of wounded", citing a city official. The reference to "dozens martyred" might suggest that a larger number of soldiers at the base had been killed.

The blast hit the base on Faj Attan mountain beside the Hadda district, home to the presidential palace and many embassies, and sent a tall mushroom cloud into the air.

Resident Adel Mansour said it was the largest explosion in more than three weeks of bombing by the Saudi-led coalition.

The campaign has repeatedly targeted the Faj Attan facility along with other military bases and airports in Sanaa and throughout the country. — Reuters
Pakistan Boat Intercepted Off Porbandar, Being Towed Back to Coast: Sources
New Delhi:  The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have intercepted a Pakistani boat off the coast of Porbandar, sources have told NDTV.

The ship was being monitored for a few days, sources added.

Two Navy ships, one coast guard ship and the Navy's surveillance aircraft, Dornier, were involved in the operation.

Sources say the captured boat is being towed to Porbandar.

This comes just months after a Pakistani fishing boat said to be carrying explosives was intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard before it exploded and caught fire and sunk with four crew members on board.

The incident had occurred on the intervening night of December 31, 2014, and January 1 some 365-km off the Porbander coast after a hot pursuit by the Coast Guard.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar asks IAF to focus on conserving resources

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today asked Indian Air Force to focus on safety and conservation of available resources as he interacted with top commanders here just days after India decided to buy 36 Rafale jets.

He also met with the commanders of the Army and emphasized on national security and capability-development, reiterating that capacity-building was a continuous process that must proceed apace and unabated.

Addressing the Commanders here, Parrikar emphas ..

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Defence Minister addresses Bi-Annual Army Commanders' Conference
New Delhi, Apr 20 (IBNS): The Bi-Annual Army Commanders' Conference commenced in New Delhi on Monday to deliberate on major operational, human resources and logistic issues affecting the Army and will conclude on Apr 25.

This conference is the highest level ‘Military Conference’ and is held bi-annually to discuss current internal and external strategic issues, review of operational preparedness of the Indian Army and aspects pertaining to military technology and force modernisation.

The conference was addressed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. 

In his speech, after being introduced to the Army Commanders, the RM emphasized on National Security and Capability Development, reiterating that Capacity Building was a continuous process that must proceed apace and unabated.

He further highlighted some key issues and challenges, both external and internal that had an impact on the Nation’s security calculus. The RM congratulated the Indian Army stating  that it was one of the most professional institutions of the country.

He exhorted the exemplary leadership shown by the Indian Army and complemented the way the Army dealt with very difficult challenges including the proxy war. He further highlighted the selfless response by the Army in dealing with Jammu & Kashmir floods.

He also emphasised that one of the topmost priorities of the Government was the welfare of Ex-Servicemen in which the ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme implementation process is underway.  Similarly, other welfare projects like the ECHS will continue to be fully supported by the Government.  In the end , he wished The Army Commander’s Conference every success.

Gen Dalbir Singh, Chief of the Army Staff, earlier addressed the Conference, welcomed the Hon’ble RM and stressed on various major operational, logistics, training and manpower issues.
Defence minister to declassify Henderson Brooks report soon: Subramanian Swamy
New Delhi: The Henderson Brooks Report on the 1962 India-China war will be declassified "soon" by the government, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said after meeting Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar here.

During Swamy's meeting with the minister, the Indian strategic perspective and the necessary weapons acquisition to meet national security threats were also discussed, said a statement here.

"Parrikar told Swamy that the Henderson Brooks report on the 1962 Indo-China conflict will, with a little editing, be declassified soon," it said.

The government had last year ruled out the release of the report, saying its disclosure would not be in national interest.

"(The Henderson Brooks report) is a top secret document and has not been declassified so far. Further, release of this report, fully or partially, or disclosure of any information to this report would not be in national interest," the then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had said in July in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.

The report, authored by the then Lt General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier PS Bhagat, was commissioned by the Indian Army following its humiliating defeat at the hands of China.

During campaigning for Lok Sabha elections, BJP had seized upon the report to slam the ruling Congress and demanded its release.

Excerpts of the military investigation that were leaked in March by an Australian journalist, who wrote a book on the war, said the government's policy of forward deployment in the high mountains had increased the chances of conflict.

BJP had then justified the demand for release of the report on the grounds that the country would know how the government pushed the military into a war it could only lose.

Parrikar also assured Swamy that the 'One Rank, One Pension' scheme to fulfil BJP's 2014 poll campaign promise would be announced during the current session of Parliament, the statement further added.

Swamy's meeting with Parrikar comes days after he raised concerns over the Rafale deal with France. He had publicly asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to ink the Rafale deal, saying there were shortcomings in the fighter aircraft.
Army guards promotion policy of Command Exit Model for Colonels
As the row over promotion of officers deepens, the Indian Army is firmly standing by its 2009 policy, claiming that it was the only way to become a younger force. The policy is under the Supreme Court scanner.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will place the Army's position before the apex court, which is slated to take up the case this week.

Sources said any reversal of the existing Command Exit Model (CEM), in practice since 2009 and under which colonels commanding units of the fighting arms get short tenures and more vacancies, would defeat the purpose of having younger and more agile commanders.

The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) had struck down the CEM, saying it was discriminatory. The policy has deeply divided the Army as it is being seen favouring infantry and artillery officers.

The Army, however, has countered the charge, saying the age profile of combat arms can only be lowered by increasing vacancies and reducing command tenures of the fighting arms.

Bringing down the age of commanding officers and brigadiers was recommended by the Kargil Review Committee as it was felt that same ranked officers in Pakistan and China then were at least five year younger.

The method to achieve the goal was suggested by the A.V. Singh committee, which gave its report in 2003.

Sources said the A.V. Singh committee had suggested shorter tenures for seven combat and support arms, including infantry, artillery, armoured, mechanised infantry, engineers and signals. Since infantry and artillery comprise 42 per cent of the Indian Army, they got more vacancies. The CEM was preferred over the pro-rata system in practice earlier.

Sources said the CEM has resulted in bringing down the age profile of commanding officers from 37-38 years, which will eventually become 36-37. Similarly, it will come down from existing 47-48 to 44-45 for brigadiers.

The officials said any move to overturn the system will push the Army back to older ages of commanding officers. An officer said it raises a question mark, if the country needs an age-old or old-age army.

In the contention are 1,484 additional vacancies for colonels and 222 brigadiers.

Sources said by the sheer nature of his job, commanding officer of an infantry unit needs to be fitter considering the terrain where the units are located. It is often cited that how one of the older commanding officers during the Kargil conflict, who could not cope up with the terrain, had to be replaced by his younger second-incommand.

The other arms argue that they have to do mandatory two-year tenure in Jammu and Kashmir. The officials countered that they do not become commanding officers in this tenure.

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