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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

From Today's Papers - 13 Oct 2015

Women may be roped in for anti-terror ops
Panaji, October 12
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said he was in favour of assigning roles to women in the Army’s counter-terrorism operations.

He said “in principle” he was in favour of women in combat positions, but a final decision would be taken later. “I don’t see why not. We take them as equal in everything,” Parrikar said in reply to a question.

The ministry could assign them “role in counter-terrorism operations (at the borders) or even to tackle terrorists within the country,” he said. He was speaking at a fund-raising function in Bambolim on the outskirts of Panaji yesterday evening.

Earlier this week, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had said the Indian Air Force had moved a proposal to induct women as fighter aircraft pilots.

“It has to be done in a phase-wise manner. It won’t happen immediately,” Parrikar said, adding that the final notification on inducting women as fighter aircraft pilots would also take sometime. He cited that the UAE Air Force has women fighter plane pilots who had carried out strikes on ISIS targets. — PTI
India to buy 194 microlight planes
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 12
India is all set to buy 194 microlight aircraft from Pipistrel, a Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer, for flying-training, surveillance and aerial photography.

Though the company did not specify the deal, it is said to be worth Rs130 crore (US $20 million).

Pipistrel has emerged as tender-winner to supply aircraft to the Indian Air Force, Navy and the National Cadet Corps, a statement of the company said tonight.

Microlight aircraft ‘Virus SW 80 GARUD’ has been selected among eleven international original equipment manufacturers and authorised vendors.

Pipistrel’s CEO Ivo Boscarol said: “With more than a quarter-of-century experience in the field, Pipistrel makes an ideal partner for IAF, Navy and NCC. The plane has been carefully configured with advanced design, state-of-the-art composite construction and modern digital avionics.”

The aircraft is powered by an 80 HP aviation certified engine and can reach a maximum speed of more than 220 kmph, fly for three hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 6,000 metres. The aircraft will be used exclusively for training of Flight Safety and Air Wing Cadets.

The plane is also equipped with a special ballistic parachute rescue system, which saves the entire aircraft and both pilots in case of accident. A Pipistrel statement said in 2010 the firm claimed the title of Europe’s most innovative company by EBA and won three consecutive NASA aviation Challenges.
Of Pirates, Navy and a High Risk Area in the Arabian Sea
New Delhi:  Pirates of the Arabian Sea versus 52 warships of the Indian Navy -- it took only four years to clean up the waters. But the "high risk" tag of the entire area between Africa and Indian waters took considerably longer to shed - three more years. The clean chit came last week.

The tag was proving no less expensive than piracy. Merchant ships had to sail hugging the Indian coast - spending much more on fuel and insurance -- for safety. Chinese vessels came too close for comfort. And it cast doubt on the capabilities of the Indian Navy to ensure the safety of its waters.

Now, the global shipping industry will save a whopping Rs. 23,000 crore a year.

Starting from the Gulf of Aden, piracy became rampant in Arabian sea around 2007 with the political instability Somalia.  

But as they increased their reach to the East Arabian Sea, the entire West coast including the Exclusive Economic Zone of India, an area of the sea which can only be used by India for economic reasons, was declared a high risk area.

The navy started its anti-piracy operation in 2008 - deploying warships from across the Gulf of Aden, Maldives and Seychelles Islands all the way to the west coast of India. Floating armouries appeared off the Indian coast and security personnel were stationed on board trade ships.

The waters between Africa and India, up to 78 degrees East longitude, were tagged a High Risk Area. Now the High Risk Area has been pushed west, to 65 degrees East longitude.

"But although the last piracy attempt was in 2012, the global community had refused to realign the High Risk Area tag," said a senior Defence Ministry official. "Plus, including the entire west coast within the High Risk Area also cast a doubt on the capabilities of the Indian Navy."

It also resulted in episodes like the shooting of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines. The marines, who were stationed on an oil tanker as part of its security, had opened fire on the fishing boat by mistake.

After 2012, India sought for a review of the spread of the High Risk Area with the the European Union Chair of the Contact Group of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. The clearance came last week -- after three years' of lobbying and meetings, said defence ministry officials.

"Now, some of India's maritime security concerns - like floating armouries and proliferation of private security -- are likely to be addressed," said Indian Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharma. "Also, Indian ship-owners are likely to benefit significantly on account of savings on insurance and associated operating costs."
Pakistan Army brutally treating people in PoK: Manohar Parrikar
India’s defence minister Manohar Parrikar has said that Kashmiris should be made aware of the brutal atrocities committed by the Pakistan army on civilians in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Parrikar accused the country’s western neighbour of continuing to push terrorists into India and said its role as a breeder of terror should be exposed before a global audience. Parrikar, who was speaking during a public interaction meet near Panaji late on Sunday evening, also hinted that the National Democratic Alliance government had Pakistan worried.

“We need to bring it to their (Kashmiris) notice. How brutally the Pakistan army is treating the population in PoK? I don’t know after that if they will ever think of Pakistan because they are proud people. They have to be told that their brothers, and sisters, who are also a part of India, are being brutally treated,” he said.

The defence minister said that India had to adopt a multi-pronged strategy with regard to Pakistan, one that included brute force vis-a-vis dealing with terror as well as political tact.

“You find kids being murdered, butchered in Peshawar. You find people going to mosques for prayers being killed. Killing is almost everywhere in Pakistan. I think these are poisonous fruits, seeds of which were sown by them. They should realise that the hate India campaign will not provide any solution,” he said.

Parrikar also said that Pakistan continues to send terrorists into India using cross-border firing as a decoy.

“Most of the times, the ceasefire violation is to ensure that some terrorists are pushed into Indian side. This is a cover up...” he said.

Asked whether the troika of Narendra Modi as Prime minister, him as Defence Minister and Ajit Doval as National Security Advisor could have had Pakistan worried, the former Goa chief minister said, “I think some aspects should be understood by symptoms. The worry can be seen on their faces and when they talk. I don’t have to explain anything beyond that.”
Army Commanders meet today
At the top of the nine-point agenda is the planning and execution of infrastructure works in the 12th Plan, which has been raised by Kolkata-headquartered Eastern Command.
The bi-annual Army Commanders’ Conference starts on Monday in New Delhi, and it will deliberate upon infrastructure works on the China border in Eastern Command, state of border roads, and consolidation of defence land. The highest-level military conference, which will go on till Friday, will also discuss the shortage of officers.

At the top of the nine-point agenda is the planning and execution of infrastructure works in the 12th Plan, which has been raised by Kolkata-headquartered Eastern Command.

Sources in the Eastern Command said that almost all the planned works required for new forces raised for China border — including roads, accommodation, ammunition sheds, railway lines, bridges and airfields — have been delayed. Besides problems with land acquisition, a major reason for the delay has been the ongoing dispute about use of local labour for construction.

The seven Army Commanders will also discuss the performance of the Border Roads Organisation or DGBR. The DGBR moved under the control of Defence Ministry from the roads ministry earlier this year. In May, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had criticised the DGBR for the poor state of strategic Indo-China border roads.

The Works of Defence Act 1903, which imposes certain restrictions upon the use of land in the vicinity of defence constructions, is also scheduled to be reviewed during the conference. The Act and its guidelines had come to prominence in the wake of south Mumbai-based Adarsh housing society controversy, where a high-rise building had been given permission for construction in the vicinity of Army establishments.

The conference will also discuss the plans for consolidation of defence land, finalise land norms and approve plans for reconciliation of pre-independence era land records.

A 2013 CAG report had found that 14,539.38 acres of defence land was under encroachment as of July 2009. The CAG report had also pointed out that as of March 2010, 2500 acres of land — valued at Rs 11,033 crore — was on lease for an annual rent of only Rs 2.13 crore.

The ongoing shortage of officers in the army is another subject of deliberation before the senior commanders. Even though the army has been able to bring its officer shortage down from 26 per cent in 2010 to 18 per cent now, it is still struggling to subscribe to all the vacancies in training academies. Four hundred and thirty five of the 2,642 vacancies were unused in the current calendar year.

The army is authorised 49,737 officers and was holding 40,525 officers as on 1st July this year. It hopes to reduce this shortage from 18 per cent to 12 per cent by 2021.

It plans to commission an additional 1000 officers, which will cater to 500 new accretions and make up existing shortages at the rate of 1 per cent every year.

Meanwhile, the defence ministry is already working on a tri-service roadmap on reducing officer shortages in the armed forces. Even within the army, a detailed study on the intake of officers is being undertaken by DG (Recruiting). The army is also working on long-term plans to make all 10+2 entries (NDA and TES) for permanent commission while other graduate entries (UES and DE) will be for granting short-service commission. But these plans will only be put in place if short-service commission, at 10 years and extendable by another four years, becomes an attractive proposition.

The army commanders’ conference will also discuss issues pertaining to married accommodation in high-pressure stations and construction of pre-engineered building by the Military Engineering Service. A study of the revised recruitment system, a review of educational scholarships and concessions and integrated development of sports in the army is also on the agenda of the conference.

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