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Monday, 18 January 2016

From Today's Papers - 18 Jan 2016

BSF plans more laser walls along border with Pak
Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 17
Post the terrorist attack on the Pathankot Air Force Station, the BSF is embracing modern technology in a big way. The security forces are all set to install the sophisticated laser wall equipment near 40-odd vulnerable stretches along the international border. Officials claim that once this mechanism is in place, it will be almost impossible for terrorists and smugglers to infiltrate.

A laser wall is a  device which can detect movement along the border within no time. For example, a laser beam over a riverine stretch will set off a siren in case of a breach.

Since most of the vulnerable points are along the Ravi, almost all stretches on it and its tributaries will be covered with the new technology. “Once in place, it will eliminate whatever chances the militants have of crossing over,” claimed a BSF officer.

Though the BSF has been consistent in its denial that Dinanagar and Pathankot attackers came across the border, a highly placed source said it was suspected that the six Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants who had barged into the Pathankot air base without being challenged had come via the Bamiyal Sector which was not covered by a laser wall. Also, a camera installed to keep a watch over the 130 metre-wide riverbed was found to be defunct by a BSF team. The Dinanagar terrorists are believed to have entered India 5 km downstream Bamiyal near the Tash border outpost which was not covered by a laser wall at that time. There is every likelihood that the six Pathankot terrorists may have walked through the dry riverbed at night giving the BSF the slip, said an official.

Claims by some security agencies that Bamiyal was also used as a drug trafficking route was rubbished by BSF officials.
Why IS still challenges the world order?
The world expects a single-minded focus on eliminating the IS. But the affected countries in the wider Middle-East expend their energies in snuffing out internal dissent and in checkmating each other.
The IS phenomenon is borne of the shortsightedness and vengeful approach deployed by the highly sectarian rule of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki vis-à-vis the Sunni minorities and the leftover Baathist of the post-Saddam era. The IS ‘caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi then furiously tapped into the restive Sunni/Tribal sentiments against the Shi’ite ‘heretics’, Christian ‘crusaders’, Jewish ‘infidels’ and the Kurdish ‘atheists’.

The first targets were the Shia-dominated governments of Iraq and Syria. What followed was a ruthless purge (including against any alternative Sunni force like the Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda) in an impressive swallowing of territory and establishment of violently puritanical rule threatening the existing power structures across the Middle East, as indeed for the rest of the world.

Middle Eastern countries ought to singularly focus on the IS phenomenon. Yet their efforts get diluted and diverted due to five fundamentally different axis that result in a very disabling cross-purposing of intent and action, ensuring the survival of the IS.

The first major distraction towards a unified anti-IS approach is the parallel and seemingly intractable sectarian divide between the the ‘Shia Crescent’ and the Saudi Arabia led ‘coalition of 34 against terror’. The IS targets countries of both groups and vice versa. Due to the distinctly separate sectarian agenda, huge amounts of financial and military commitment get wasted on the streets of Yemen, Lebanon and southern Saudi Arabia to fight against each other, directly or by proxies.

The diplomatic impasse between the two blocs got cemented by the untimely execution of the rebel Saudi Shia cleric, Nimr-al-Nimr. The entire anti-IS momentum, which recently ‘liberated’ Ramadi and paved the way for the capture of Mosul, gets derailed due to multiplicity of agendas, when a more coordinated approach between the Sunni Arab forces, the mixed Iraqi Army and the Shia militia is required to continue wresting lands from theIS’s clutches.

The second issue complicating and derailing alignment is the play of nation-specific issues which work at cross purposes. The Kurds have been one of the more successful foot-on-ground outfits. They effectively checked IS’s advance only to get bombed by the Turkish Air Force in Northern Iraq when Turkish forces are separately getting ready to take on the IS on other fronts. So, while both Turkey and the Kurds are directly fighting the IS, they are also attacking each other and burning vital resources that could be jointly deployed against IS.

Third is the cold war redux. Russia is aggressively throwing its weight behind the Syria (Assad)-Iran-Iraq combine. But while ostensibly bombing IS targets, the Russians are also hitting at Assad’s opposition forces composed of other Syrian Sunni groups like the Al Nusra (covertly supported and armed by the US/West). Not surprisingly, IS is better at holding ground in Syria than Iraq, which is at least spared the direct shadow of cold war games. So, the twin forces of ‘moderate’ Sunni rebels and the Assad-led Syrian Forces are going at each other. They are also taking on the IS, completing an avoidable triangle of interests. Larger geo-political battles for international relevance are consuming real-time efficacy in the fight against the IS, on ground. The major powers still have to sink their geo-political ambitions and align their approaches against the IS.

The fourth distraction comes locally. This takes the form of local uprisings against the ruling Gulf monarchies, dictators and strongmen versus the more puritanical and fundamentalist strains that are seeking regime-change to enforce a more Wahabbised outlook. Ironically, the Arab Spring regressed in this territory with the emergence of Brotherhood in Egypt, Boko Haram in Western Africa and Taliban, closer home. These groups are dangerously armed and do not hesitate to take on their former benefactors who sponsored their madrassas, indoctrination and weapons. A ‘Frankenstein-monster-like’ scenario looms which forces the Sheikhdoms to close ranks and protect themselves internally, at the cost of committing their resources externally on the IS frontiers. Local uprisings are crushed brutally to avoid a Muammar Gadaffi like end in Libya, further alienating the constituents and pushing the discontentment towards the IS path.

The last, but not the least important spoke in the wheel, are the embarrassing historical linkages of the powers-that-be and the troublesome fundamentalist elements within the country or in the neighbourhood. Pakistan’s inability to effectively and completely take on its progeny of ‘strategic assets’ (insurgent groups of Kashmiri or Afghan centricity), is a case in point. Abruptly cutting the umbilical cord becomes difficult to explain domestically, religiously or politically. Saudi Arabia’s Al Saud family is discovering as much after having pumped billions of petro dollars to ‘buy’ loyalty via Wahhabi proselytising. It is now stuck in a self-created quagmire. Certain sections now demand a more puritanical approach than the one offered by the Al Saud family – a sentiment that gave birth to Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaida.

Today, if the Gulf monarchies were to effectively close the financial, diplomatic and material tap on forces like theIS, Taliban etc., pressure to sustain the firepower by such inimical forces will get curtailed effectively. However back-end intrigues owing to multiplicity of national, local, sectarian or purely historical reasons are ensuring that a lot of effort, blood and finances are getting squandered in fighting umpteen internecine wars, while IS with its depleting infrastructure and isolation from a global perspective, still retains its violent abilities and appeal, to the discomfiture of the world at large. Ironically, stripped of all other distractions – the IS phenomenon is the single most dangerous threat that engulfs each of these countries individually. A tactical parking of other differences in order to consolidate resources and drive efficacy of coordinated attack on IS seems so obvious, yet intractable given the current context.
Army moves to enhance security along border
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
A fortnight after the terror strike at the Pathankot Air Force Station left seven personnel dead, the armed forces and para-military bodies have evolved several measures to augment security of important installations.

An exercise, Paridi Suraksha (perimeter security) has been launched by the Western Command Headquarters,responsible for the defence of Punjab and Jammu regions, that aims at conducting the security audit of sensitive areas, strengthening inter-agency coordination and refining operating procedures.

“Commanders on ground have been told to go beyond just perimeter security of installations and actively liaise with the local police, intelligence and civil administration. The need is to be pre-emptive instead of being reactive,” a senior officer said.

“We are also refining our joint response mechanism that involves the Army, Air Force, intelligence agencies and para-military forces,” he added.

While the Border Security Force (BSF) is expected to increase its presence on the IB, the Army is strengthening its training grid in the vulnerable Pathankot-Jammu area. More focus is being laid on the use of sensors and surveillance equipment along the border and monitoring of radio signals and cyberspace. “It is not just this sector alone. We have assets along the entire border and these have been brought within the ambit of the security audit,” the officer said.

The Defence Security Corps (DSC), which came under the scanner during the Pathankot incident, is also an important part of the review exercise. “The DSC is an important stakeholder in providing security and their command and control mechanism is being closely looked at and plans are being worked up to empower it for becoming more effective,” the officer said.

A series of brain-storming sessions are being held at all levels across the command hierarchy, with senior commanders making on-ground assessments and junior officers visiting headquarters for deliberations and devising “innovative” security measures.
Indian Army lost 85 men during various combat operations last year
AGRA: Living up to their motto 'Service before Self', the world's third largest army lost 85 bravehearts, who made the supreme sacrifice during various counter-insurgency operations and offensive tactical missions in 2015. Apart from ORs, five officers were also killed.

As per Indian army, two colonel and one officer, each, of the rank of lieutenant colonel, major and captain along with two subedar, six naib subedar, 15 havildar, one lance havildar, six naik, 14 lance naik and 36 other rank were martyred.

Right from the army's elite Para Special Forces to Rashtriya Rifles which directly comes under the ministry of defence who are specialized in counter-insurgency/ anti-terrorist operations, a total of 48 army regiments and unit personnel, who were deployed from the line-of-control in Jammu & Kashmir to borders along the north-eastern states bordering Myanmar attained martyrdom last year.

According to Army, maximum causalties were reported from 6 Dogra regiment in the month of June, in which it lost 15 personnel in a deadly ambush in Manipur's Chandel district. In the incident, a total of 20 soldiers died. Apart from the Dogra regiment, various units of Rashtriya Rifles deployed in Jammu & Kashmir lost 19 men, followed by Gorkha Rifles, Garhwal Rifles, Rajputana Rifles, Army Service Corps Battalion, 28 Punjab and 9 Para (Special Forces).

IX Para which comes under parachute regiment whose men are trained in Agra as paratroopers for airborne combat, lost three men, out of which Lance Naik Govind Singh Mehta, laid down his life fighting militants in Mendhar sector of Poonch district of Jammu & Kashmir on October 14. He gunned downed five terrorists. He hailed from Uttarakhand, Mehta lived with his family in Agra. Lance Naik Mehta who is 32-year-old took three bullets, including one in the head. For his act of valour, the Army has recommended his name for Sena medal, to be awarded on January 26. He was the third man in his family to serve in the armed forces, apart from his father Pratap Singh and elder brother Mahendra Singh, who fought in the Kargil war.

Speaking to TOI, Army's central command public relation officer Gargi Malik said, "The Indian Army has always lived up to its pledge of safeguarding the country's borders and today if we feel safe, it's all because of the commitment of these courageous men donning the olive green uniform. Our army has many victories to its name, and the stories of sacrifice of our soldiers fill us with immense pride and gratitude."

Colonel Santosh Yashwant Mahadik of 21 Para (Special Forces) and commanding officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles:

On November 17, succumbed to his grievous injuries under heavy fire from militants, while leading a search party in the dense forests of Haji Naka, near the line of control in Kupwara district of Kashmir.

Colonel Munindra Nath Rai, YSM (Yudh Seva Medal) of 2/9 Gorkha Rifles and commanding officer of 42 Rashtriya Rifles:

On January 28, laid down his life in the fierce encounter against Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist group at Handora village of Tral in south Kashmir.

Captain Prem Kumar Patil of 36 Rashtriya Rifles (Artillery):

On August 7, during a search operation in Gurez sector near Line of Control, he was leading his search party of 36 RR. While roll down he turned back to confirm the presence of any traitors in a hideout behind. While doing this on a slope of 80 degrees, he lost control and fell down in the Nausheranar flowing down below 280 feets where he sacrificed his life.

Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami of 9 Para (Special Forces):
On September 5, creating a unique history of valour and dedication to duty, eliminated 10 militants in a short span of 11 days during three counter-terrorism operations before making the supreme sacrifice in Kashmir.

Lance Naik Govind Singh Mehta of 9 Para (Special Forces):

On October 14, laid down his life fighting militants in Mendhar sector of Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir. He gunned downed five terrorists. He was from Agra. 

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