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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

From Today's Papers - 22 Sep 2015

India, Pakistan agree to exercise restraint, defuse tension on LoC
Brigade Commander-level meet: Pak again attributes trans-border firing to non-state actors
DK Sudan

Jammu/Poonch, September 21
India and Pakistan today agreed to de-escalate tension on the Line of Control as its armies held a Brigade Commander-level flag meeting today at Chakan da Bagh on the LoC in Poonch district.

The meeting began around 11.30 am and lasted till 12.15 pm. The last such meeting was held at the same place on January 17, 2014.

“The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and issues regarding the ongoing ceasefire violations, targeting of civilians and sniper actions on the Line of Control were addressed. Both the sides have mutually agreed to exercise restraint and take steps to defuse the situation,” said officiating defence spokesperson SN Acharaya.

An Intelligence official said the Indian side was headed by the Commander of the 120 Infantry Brigade, also called Bhimber Gali Brigade, Brigadier HS Sareen. The Pakistani delegation was led by Brigadier Usman of the 6 Sector Poonch-Rawalakot Brigade.

“While the Pakistani delegation again attributed the trans-border firing from their side to non-state actors (ultras), the Indian delegation clearly refused to buy their plea and asked them to check such elements as well as infiltration bids from their side,” said a defence source.

The Indian Army had taken the initiative for the flag meeting in order to restore normalcy on the LoC and in the larger interest of peace for the border population on both sides, the source added.

“We lodged a strong protest over regular truce violations by Pakistan and targeting of civilians, and produced photographic evidences to prove our claims. They also produced photographs to corroborate their claim. But, importantly, both sides laid emphasis on de-escalating the tension,” said a top Army source.

“However, no new mechanism of communication between the local formation commanders was evolved. Flag meeting will remain the only option to communicate,” he added.

Both the countries had mutually brokered a ceasefire agreement in November 2003 in the larger interest of peace on the borders.

Since July 15, at least 12 people, including two BSF constables and two officers have been killed and over 40 others injured in rampant ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the LoC and the International Border in the Jammu region.
MoD orders action against officials using influence
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 20
The malady of government employees trying to use outside of extra-departmental influence to further their personal service interests, it seems, continues to effect government establishments, including departments under the Ministry of Defence, even though instructions exist to curb such actions.

A circular issued earlier this month by the Defence Accounts Department has directed its establishments to take “effective action” against government employees violating the instructions.

“In spite of instructions, it has come to notice that certain government servants are bringing to bear outside influence indirectly to further their service interests. They are also representing directly to the Prime Minister, Minister Secretary and other higher authorities directly,” the circular observes.

Such submission of representations directly to other authorities bypassing the prescribed channel of communication has to be viewed seriously and appropriate disciplinary action should be taken against those who violate these instructions, the circular states.
India won 1965 War, says Capt Amarinder
The first objective set for us was to ensure the security of Kashmir; the second was to destroy the offensive power of Pakistan that had acquired new weapon systems from the US. The third caveat was to capture minimum territory (to be returned to Pakistan on the conclusion of the war) and a fourth objective added later was not to bomb civilian areas…We met all four objectives and we certainly won the war. — Lt Gen Shregill

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 21
Untold stories of courage surfaced last night when former soldiers Capt Amarinder Singh and Lt Gen Tajinder Shergill came together here to share memories of the 1965 India-Pakistan War they fought.

In discussions that followed the launch of their book “The Monsoon War: Young Officers Reminisce the 1965 India-Pakistan War”, former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder and former Prisoner of War Lt Gen Shergill agreed that India won the historic war decisively.

Another point of agreement between the co-authors of the book was about the advantage Pakistan enjoyed in the war on account of their “hugely modernised and better trained force vis-à-vis India that was more of a World War-II force”. Asked what saved the day for India then, the authors said, “Better spirit and organisation than the enemy.”

As authors (Capt Amarinder, part of 2nd Battalion of the Sikh Regiment and ADC to GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh and Lt Gen Shergill, from 9 Deccan Horse and Leader of 1 Troop) recounted turning points in the war, majority in the audience wanted to know who actually won.

Answering the question that has raged on since the war ended in September 1965, both authors said India won the war decisively. They substantiated their claim with facts that the book contains.

“The first objective set for us was to ensure the security of Kashmir; the second was to destroy the offensive power of Pakistan that had acquired new weapon systems from the US. The third caveat was to capture minimum territory (to be returned to Pakistan on the conclusion of the war) and a fourth objective added later was not to bomb civilian areas…We met all four objectives and we certainly won the war,” Lt Gen Shregill said.

The book details how Kashmir was saved; how Pakistan’s offensive power was destroyed in the form of their tanks; how India captured 800 sq km as against Pakistan’s 200 sq km.

Amarinder narrated this story: “Learning on September 10 evening that Pakistan 1 Armoured Division was attacking Khemkaran, to cut the GT Road at Beas bridge, the COAS called the Army Commander at 300 hours on September 11 and asked him to withdraw forces to the line of the Beas. Army Commander Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh refused saying either a written order be given or the Army Chief Gen JN Chaudhuri personally come to the field to give an executive order. This was an example of a General’s firm resolve.” Amarinder said India won a decisive victory on the front later.
India turns to Israel for armed drones as Pakistan, China build fleets
India has accelerated plans to buy drones from Israel that can be armed, defence sources said, allowing the military to carry out strikes overseas with less risk to personnel.
NEW DELHI: India has accelerated plans to buy drones from Israel that can be armed, defence sources said, allowing the military to carry out strikes overseas with less risk to personnel.

The news comes weeks after long-time rival Pakistan first reported using a home-made drone in combat when it attacked militants on its soil, raising the prospect of a new front in the nuclear-armed neighbours' standoff over Kashmir that has twice spilled into war.

The plan to acquire Israeli Herons was first conceived three years ago, but in January the military wrote to the government asking for speedy delivery, the sources said, as Pakistan and China develop their own drone warfare capabilities.

India has already deployed Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) along the rugged mountains of Kashmir for surveillance, as well as on the disputed border with China where the two armies have faced off against each other.

In September, the Indian government approved the air force's request to acquire 10 Heron TP drones from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) that can be fitted with weapons to engage targets on the ground, an air force official with knowledge of the matter said.

He added that he expected the agreement to be inked soon. The Indian Defence Ministry declined to comment.

The plan to buy Herons in a deal estimated at US$400 million would open the option of covert cross-border strikes.

Currently the two armies exchange fire across the de facto Kashmir border at times of tension, but do not cross the Line of Control (LoC) by land or air.

"It's risky, but armed UAVs can be used for counter insurgency operations internally as well across the borders; sneak attacks on terrorist hideouts in mountainous terrain, perhaps," said an army officer in the defence planning staff.


Gurmeet Kanwal, a former head of the government-funded Centre for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi, said the armed Herons due to enter Indian service by late 2016 will give the air force deep-strike capability.

The United States has carried out hundreds of drone strikes inside Pakistan, targeting al Qaeda and other militants in its northwest. Pakistan has allowed such targeted killings, even though it complains about them in public.

Indian drones, in contrast, face being shot down as soon as they show up on Pakistani radars, the army officer and Kanwal said.

Deniability would be essential in any use of armed drones by India and Pakistan across their bitterly contested border, said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a leading weapons proliferation expert in Pakistan.

"It is likely that drones would be used in a surreptitious mode close to the LoC, far away from populated areas," he said.

In July, the Pakistan army said it had shot down a small Indian spy drone in Kashmir. India did not comment.

Michael Kugelman, South Asia specialist at the Washington D.C.-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said the arrival of lethal drones in the region could heighten mutual suspicion at a time when ties are strained.

"Pakistan might worry that India could use an armed drone to attack terrorist safe havens in Pakistan or to target a specific terrorist there."

"India might worry that Pakistan will now be tempted to add drones to its repertoire of asymmetric warfare tactics it has used against India."

Only the United States, Israel and Britain are known to have used armed drones in combat, although more than 70 countries have UAVs with surveillance capabilities, according to New America, a Washington D.C.-based think-tank.

China has no public strategy for armed drone development, but it has poured resources into UAVs and has shown them off at exhibitions. Chinese combat drones still lag far behind the Israeli-made ones in terms of capability, military experts say.


A delegation from state-owned IAI has been holding talks with the Indian defence ministry to determine the possibility of local manufacture of the Heron TP as part of the "Make-in-India" programme, IHS Jane's said.

Israel does not confirm or deny using or producing armed drones. IAI declined comment on the proposed sale of the Herons, as did Israel's Defence Ministry, which oversees such arms exports.

IAI is one of several Israeli companies manufacturing drones or related technologies.

At least one of them has sold armed drones to a foreign country other than India, a person involved in the deal said, without elaborating on the client, model or manufacturer of the aircraft.

Such deals are handled directly between the governments of Israel and the purchasing country, with mutual secrecy agreements, the person added.

It is not clear what kind of weapons will be fitted to the Heron TPs that India plans to buy.

India has been trying to develop its own combat drone, but the defence research organisation has struggled to integrate a missile onto the proposed Rustom series of UAVs.

David Harari, a retired IAI engineer and Israel Prize winner for his pioneering work in drone development, said India could mount its own weaponry on an Israeli supplied drone, helped by close technological cooperation between the two countries.
The end of a bitter Air Force vs Army battle could mean India finally gets modern attack helicopters
On October 9, 2012, former Defence Minister AK Antony termed the fight between the Indian Army and Indian Air Force over attack helicopters a 'family problem.' With both the Air Force and the Army's aviation corps requesting attack helicopters for themselves, the two of the children of the family just weren't getting along. Now, it seems as if the family feud has been resolved in a classic tilted compromise: Both the Army and the Air Force will get a little bit each.

For years, the Air Force claimed that giving the Army helicopters would lead to a duplication of assets. The Army however, says it does not want to be dependent on the IAF for ground power and support in crisis situations. Even during the Kargil operations in 1999, IAF had several disagreements with Indian Army for the usage of attack helicopters. The then-Air Chief Marshal Tipnis didn't give permission for air support as requested by the Army. He mentioned the usage of attack helicopters (even within India's territory) could result into a full throttle war between India and Pakistan. The family fighting hasn't stopped since. Currently, the Indian Army possesses single engine light helicopters such as Chetak, Cheetah and upgraded versions Cheetal and Dhruv but these aircraft can only be used for logistic supplies and air-lifting. Though the Indian Army has operational control over Indian Air Force-manned attack helicopters, Mi-25 and Mi-35, the Army has been urging the government to provide them with medium lift attack helicopters like the Apache and Chinook. The IAF has continuously pointed out that the usage of attack helicopters without the support of larger aircraft would make single engine and slow moving helicopters vulnerable and that's why IAF should have controls over the attack helicopters as well.

India's $2 billion deal with the US in purchasing Hellfire missiles equipped Apache and Chinook has been hanging since 2009 with the US Defence major giving multiple extensions on the prices of the helicopters. Now after six years and 13 price extensions, the finance ministry has finally approved the acquisition of 22 Apache attack and 15 Chinook heavy deployment helicopters. The first set of Apaches is set to go to the Air Force, followed up by an order of 39 Apaches likely to follow, which will go to the Armed Aviation Corps, keeping the siblings content for the moment.

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