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Friday, 18 December 2015

From Today's Papers - 18 Dec 2015

US asks Pak to hold back N-plans
Washington, December 17
Voicing concern over Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programmes, the US has asked it to restrain them and avoid any developments that might lead to increased risk to nuclear safety and strategic stability.

“I wanted to say that we do share your concerns particularly about the development of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. We’re concerned most by the pace and the scope of the Pakistan’s missile program, including its pursuit of nuclear systems,” Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson told lawmakers during a hearing on Pakistan convened by House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We are concerned that a conventional conflict in Southwest Asia could escalate to include nuclear use as well as the increase security challenges that accompany growing stockpiles. We have had a very active dialogue at the highest levels with the Pakistanis in which we have made clear the nature of our very specific concerns,” Olson said yesterday in response to a question from Congressman Brian Higgins.

He said the United States has asked Pakistan to restrain its nuclear and missile programmes.

“As with all nuclear-capable states, we have urged Pakistan to restrain its nuclear weapons and missile development and stressed the importance of avoiding any developments that might invite increased risk to nuclear safety, security, or strategic stability,” he said.

“We are not negotiating a 123 agreement with Pakistan,” he said. His remarks came after US lawmakers asked the American government to be tough on Islamabad as it does not seem to be sincere in improving ties with India and has accelerated the pace of arsenals’ production.

Higgins during the hearing alleged that Pakistan is not sincere in improving its relationship with India.

“Pakistan is involved in an arms race against what it believes is its existential threat with India. According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Pakistan could have 350 nuclear warheads in the next decade, becoming the world’s third biggest nuclear power, outpacing India, France, China, and the UK,” he said.

“There is no positive sign of any improved relations with India because Pakistan justifies its nuclear proliferation as a deterrent against aggression from the outside. So the United States has to get tougher with Pakistan. We have to call them out on this double game they have been playing, not this year, not last year, not five years but for the past 15 years,” Higgins said.

“Pakistan, let’s be truthful about this, plays a double game. They’re are military partner, but they’re the protector and the patron of our enemies. And this has been going on for 15 years. Since 2002, US aid to Pakistan, economic and military, has averaged about $2 billion a year. Pakistan’s annual defence budget is only about $5 billion a year.”

He said if Pakistan falls apart or if Islamic extremists take over, it’s a nightmare scenario for the US.

“It’s a big country, about 180 million people, it has a lot of Islamic extremists, and it has nuclear weapons. And to have Islamic extremists with nuclear weapons is a primary goal of al-Qaida and it would be major victory for them and the outgrowth of al-Qaeda, the Islamic state and a major defeat for us, the US,” Higgins added. — PTI
Indian soldiers’ unique ‘unlimited liability’
The concept of ‘unlimited liability’ necessitates a soldier’s behaviour to be contrary to his natural human instincts and morally binds him to walk in the line of fire, irrespective of personal danger. And the fundamental import is unmistakably military and Indian in nature.
Last month, when the nation was waking up to the news of the raw gallantry of Colonel Santosh Mahadik, Commanding Officer of 41 RR, who was killed while leading in a fierce counter-infiltration operation in the Manigah forest of Kupwara – a poignant and pertinent point made by the Northern Army Commander was lost in the din. The General said, “The ethos of the Indian Army, the culture of the Indian Army — these are things that are sometimes not very well understood. We have a concept of unlimited liability. A man goes into battle, a man faces terrorists, and he faces them sometimes with certainty that he could lose his life". The fundamental import of the concept of unlimited liability is unmistakably military and Indian in nature — an underlying sentiment that sub-consciously informs the beliefs, customs and practices of an Indian soldier.

International military historians and observers often marvel at the operational daredevilry and leadership of the Indian Army, with Kargil counting amongst the finest displays of operational unit-level and company-level command by relatively young officers and bloodied subedars – a lesser known fact being the Indian combat casualty ratio of ‘officer to men’ to be arguably amongst the highest of all militaries in the world. Not surprisingly, earlier in the year, Colonel MN Rai, another commanding officer of a Rashtriya Rifles unit, went down leading from the front – an intrinsic tenet of unlimited liability.

The etymological origin of the better understood concept of ‘limited liability’ is essentially mercantile and corporate in nature. It is defensive and self-protectionist in spirit, which seeks to absolve the protagonist of any liability beyond the officially stated definition. This is in complete contrast to the more cavalier and noble concept of unlimited liability that offers no such comfort or escapist approval in operational responsibility. This concept necessitates a soldier’s behaviour to be contrary to human instincts and morally (yes, only morally) binds him to walk in the line of fire, irrespective of personal danger. Importantly, no formally signed covenant at the time of joining service spells out any such specific need to face losing life or limb as part of the job – it comes unwritten, unsaid, and largely remains unknown outside of the soldering fraternity.

Across the canvass of public life in the political space, corporate turf and other civilian administrative domains there are myriad instances of leadership exhibiting limited liability in all its sophistry. A well-known corporate liquor baron who until recently was seen personally endorsing a swanky new dream in the form of a brand-extended airline, only to see its disintegration and devastating financial impact on its hapless employees and vendors, till today goes about his flamboyant lifestyle unabated, secure in the legal comfort of a limited liability with no moral bindings or call to honour. Most political virtuosos of legally convicted status tom-tom the oft-repeated and convenient ‘political conspiracy’ line, and prop surrogate candidates in the form of wives, sons, or relatives to retain their fiefdoms – morality be damned.

A visit to a government set-up for any paperwork or clearance is usually met with cold and sharp explanations of the scope of actions and inactions that define the limits of the said desk or individual on the movement of a file (if at all). But the nature of military service is different – it comes with its own inexplicable and extended codes of conduct, sense of history and Regimental ‘izzat’, uncompromising quirks of culture and ethos, nail-biting training and the seclusion of its barracks, operational theatres and deployment – creating a distinct and unique set of battle-hardened separateness from the mainstream civilian society. Military service is clearly not a job but a calling in life; it subconsciously drives a moral burden on the soldier, who is expected to answer the call to arms at the state’s directive, even at the sure cost of losing a life or limb.

Unlimited liability is also all-encompassing to the soldering eco system that straddles up the chain of command and equally to the men directly under command. It also extends to the veterans, who are afforded higher respect and honour than those still in uniform. An interesting corollary to the same principal is seen in the struggle of the veterans for the OROP cause, wherein literally the struggle is a composite agitation for all three services, soldiers, officers, early retirees, widows, etc. The underlying principle being the cause, ‘Leave no man behind’.

Structurally for a soldier there can be no selectivity, individuality or limitability of thought and action. However, given the increasingly commercial and transactional leadership dominating the national narrative, it is often commented rather ignorantly and lazily that the soldiers ought to be aware of the risks that ‘come with the turf’ – thereby, invoking a certain justification on the unnecessary hardships and dangers that would be unacceptable for bureaucrats, civilians and political administrators.

The premium in the military uniform is always on ‘going beyond’. Last year, when the lion-hearted Major Mukund Vardarajan of the Rajput Regiment was conferred the Ashok Chakra (highest gallantry award in peacetime action) for counter-insurgency action in Shopian district of J&K, his gallantry citation alluded to the unsaid but sworn commitment of an Indian soldier, ‘…for display of valour beyond the call of duty…’. Yet another Indian Army officer had answered his clarion call towards fulfilling his unlimited liability towards his nation, his regiment, his unit and his men.

For the military, anything short of such conviction and belief systems would be devastating for itself and the nation. The nature of the service affords no second chances, bargaining or discussions in pursuit of the state’s order, making it the most lethal and effective organisation in trying times (a fact that is selectively remembered only in such trying times like the recent flood aid in waterlogged Chennai, when all other governmental functionaries came to a grinding halt). There is a crucial lesson in such selfless leadership concept for all countrymen to imbibe, wherein the country sleeps safe at night with the solid assurance that the military still swears by their unflinching commitment to unlimited liability towards the nation, not because of the prevailing political or civilian leadership in the country, but in spite of the same.
Indian Army to acquire Apache targeting and pilotage sensors
RLANDO, Fla., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army has awarded Lockheed Martin a foreign military sale contract to provide Apache helicopter targeting systems to the Indian Army.

Under the contract, valued at $107.8 million, Lockheed Martin will provide 23 Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor systems, which support pilotage capabilities for Apache helicopter pilots. Work on the contract will be performed in Lockheed Martin's facilities in Orlando, Fla., and Ocala, Fla.

"Our high-performing, reliable sensor system for the Apache helicopter will give Indian Army aviators the ability to acquire, engage and destroy adversary threats from extended ranges," said Lockheed martin program director Mike Taylor. "The capability that our sensor provides results in enhanced aircraft survivability, pilot safety and mission success."

The Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor system, also know as M-TADS/PNVS, is an electro-optical fire control system integrated on an AH-64D/E Apache helicopter. The system provides pilots targeting and pilotage data in an effort to enhance situational awareness. India's purchase of the system makes the coutnry the fifteenth international customer to do so.

Lockheed Martin has produced and delivered over 1,300 units and spares to the U.S. Army and other customers.
Rs 30,000-cr plan to buy Russian air defence missile system cleared
The DAC approval, which means the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) of these equipment, gives the go-ahead to the process of purchasing them.
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Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow, the government Thursday cleared an approximately Rs 30,000-crore plan to purchase five units of Russian S- 400 Triumph air defence missile system.

The acquisition will pave the way towards plugging the gaps in the existing air defence (AD) capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Besides S- 400, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by defence minister Manohar Parrikar also cleared the purchase of about Rs 25,500 crore worth of defence equipment, including the crucial six regiments of Pinaka rocket system, for the Indian Army.

The DAC approval, which means the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) of these equipment, gives the go-ahead to the process of purchasing them.

“The acquisition of S-400 missile defence system will enhance air defence capability and give the nation the capability to ward off threat due to long-range surveillance assets and stand off weapons at an economical cost,” a defence ministry source said.

Sources said the final cost will be discussed during the price negotiation stage. Hopes are high that a further concrete announcement will be made during PM Modi’s Moscow visit this month.

The S-400 missile, developed by Russian Almaz-Antey, will enhance IAF’s long-range air defence capabilities. The 400-km range system, which has been deployed by Russia in Syria, will augment the existing AD set-up of the IAF, which involves the home-made Akash missile system, Israeli Spyder and Igla, among others.

The council also cleared a Rs 1,200-crore acquisition of 24 Pechora air defence system. Another clearance to a Rs 450-crore project to develop 120 trolls for the T- 72 and T- 90 tanks for the Army has been extended partly to the DRDO.

The council cleared Rs 25,000-crore worth of equipment under the Make in India programme. Among the most significant is the clearance to six regiments of Pinaka Multi- Barrel rocket system for the Army. The Army had envisaged creation of 10 regiments of Pinaka by 2017. While four regiments have already been cleared, the six on Thursday will speed up the envisaged plan.

The council has also given the go-ahead to the development of five Fleet Support Ships for the Navy by state-owned Hindustan Shipyards Limited, which has recently finished the delayed overhaul of Sindhukirti submarine. The FSVs, which function like floating workshops, will ensure serviceability of Indian Navy ships in the high seas. The council also cleared the purchase of 571 light bullet-proof vehicles.

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