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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 13 Apr 2016

India, US agree to use military assets
Does not mean stationing of American troops on Indian soil, says Defence Minister
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 12
India and the United States today announced an in-principle logistics exchange agreement to enable their militaries to use each other’s assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies. India, however, clarified “it does not entail positioning of US troops on its soil”.

In a fillip to ‘Make in India’ programme in defence, the US moved forward in providing technology for making seaborne aircraft carriers and shared two new projects for making fighter jets in India.

The announcements came  at the end of talks between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.

A joint statement spoke of an “in-principle agreement to conclude a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)”. During the ‘Cold War’ (1945 to 1991), India was firmly in the Soviet-led bloc and often faced international discredit by the US-led NATO grouping. However, the two sides crucially stopped short of a “bear-hug-type” embrace — possibly at the insistence of New Delhi, which does not want to be seen “too close” to the US, lest Russia, its oldest ally, and China, its neighbour, get wrong signals.

The LEMOA is the new name for the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which the two countries have been discussing since long. On what would be the US’ response in case an Indian base is attacked when its troops are using it under the proposed agreement, Parrikar clarified: “No, this does not mean stationing of US troops on the Indian soil. We have agreed on the finer points. Let’s wait for the draft in a few weeks.”

The LEMOA provides for sharing military logistics use of each other’s bases for resupplies and refuelling. India had asked the US to make it India-specific, and not the standard LSA draft, which the US has with its allies like the UK. India will have the discretion of withdrawing in case it feels the US had gone to war with a country which India sees as “friendly”.

Since 2006, the US has been insisting on signing three pacts which it calls “foundational”. The other two, the Communication and Information Security Memorandum Agreement and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, were not discussed.
2 die in Army firing in Valley
Probe ordered; bandh call today; Army regrets killings
Tribune News Service

Srinagar/Kupwara, April 12
Two youths were killed when security forces opened fire on protesters in north Kashmir’s Handwara town, 80 km from here, today. They were holding a protest against an alleged attempt by a soldier to molest a college girl.

Those killed were identified as Mohammad Iqbal (22) and Nayeem Qadir Bhat (24). The killing of civilians sparked a fresh wave of anger in the Valley. The Army has regretted the killings and ordered a probe. “Anybody found guilty will be dealt with as per the law,” it said.

Protests erupted in Handwara around 3 pm following allegations by locals that a college girl was molested at a public lavatory by soldiers posted at a picket. Locals alleged that as the girl entered a lavatory, the Armymen tried to molest her. “The girl raised an alarm. It triggered protests and people tried to march towards the Army post,” said Javeed Ahmed, a local resident.

“When a crowd tried to storm the bunker and set it on fire, the forces retaliated. Two persons were injured and later succumbed to  injuries,” Kashmir IGP SJM Gillani said. “We have registered a case and started investigations,” he said.

The girl said, “As I came out from the lavatory, a boy in uniform snatched my bag and started abusing me. A number of youths had also assembled there after which the trouble started.” However, the Kashmir IGP said the police were yet to record the girl’s complete statement.

While the state government has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident, separatists have called for a shutdown on Wednesday.
Indo-Pak troops hold flag meet over truce violation in Poonch
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, April 12
India and Pakistan today held a Battalion Commanders level flag meeting at Chakan da Bagh in Poonch district to ensure peace along the de facto border.

Pakistan had violated ceasefire on the Line of Control in the Poonch sector on Saturday night.

“Pakistan, which had violated the mutually brokered truce deal after a gap of six months in Poonch sector, however, remained in denial mode. On the contrary, Pakistan blamed us for violating the ceasefire agreement,” said an official source.

A residential house and a car were damaged in Pakistani shelling in Shahpur village of Poonch.

We asked them to maintain peace and calm along the LoC in the larger interest of the border population of both the sides, the source added.

“A Battalion Commander level flag meeting was held at Chakan da Bagh at 11 today. The meeting was held to take forward the peace process initiated since the Brigade Commander level flag meeting on September 21, last year,” said SN Acharya, officiating Defence spokesperson.

The meeting which lasted for nearly 30 minutes, Colonel ranked officers leading the respective delegations acknowledged each other’s efforts in maintaining peace and tranquility on the LoC in the recent past, Acharya said.

“Both sides mutually agreed to the importance of exercising restraint and keeping the communication alive through established mechanisms via hot line messages and flag meetings,” he added.

The flag meeting ended on a positive note and both sides reaffirmed their faith in ensuring everlasting peace and tranquility on the LoC by redressing mutual concerns on priority in the future, Acharya said.

As per official data, around 405 incidents of cross-border firing took place along the Indo-Pak border in J&K in 2015, killing 16 civilians.

Of the 405 incidents, 253 incidents of cross border firing were recorded along the 198-km-long international border while 152 were registered along the LoC.

The ceasefire on Indo-Pak border had come into force on November 26, 2003.

The fresh ceasefire violation had come three days after Pakistan suspended the dialogue process with India.
User Trial of Akash Missile System By Indian Army Successful

BALASORE: Indian army on Monday successfully conducted a user trial of medium range supersonic Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) Akash from a defence base off the Odisha coast. The missile was fired targeting a pilot-less target aircraft (PTA).

The test was conducted days after the army declared the weapon system a ‘dud’ and expressed its reluctance to accept the missile. After getting two regiments of Akash missiles with six firing batteries worth over Rs 15,000 crore, the army had claimed that the missile could not provide desired results on field.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which had developed the missile indigenously, seemed to be undeterred over the sudden change of mind of the army which is now planning to procure Israeli systems. According to the DRDO officials at Hyderabad, Akash missile is the only missile of its kind now available in the world.

Besides providing the army and air force for the battle field support, DRDO is all set to export the weapon system to the countries which have shown interest on it. “It is a useful weapon for both the army and air force and first successful model of the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative. The armed forces are scheduled to carry out a couple of more tests in next few days,” they informed.

The missile was launched from the launching complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea at about 12.35 pm. The test was aimed at gauging the flight consistency and effectiveness of the missile besides ascertaining the serviceability of the system in various conditions.

A defence official from New Delhi said the mission boosted the air defence shield of the country and re-validated the weapon’s operational efficiency. The missile was aimed at intercepting the aerial vehicle 'Banshee' at a definite altitude over the Bay of Bengal. The entire flight of Akash was captured by electro-optical tracking systems, he informed.

Akash is a medium-range surface-to-air missile and it can reach targets 30 km away. The 5.8-metre-long sleek missile has a launch weight of 720 kg and can carry a warhead of 50 kg. The missile is crucial to India's air defence programme as it will be used to counter ballistic and cruise missiles, enemy aircrafts and air-to-surface missiles.

The Akash missile system which is similar to the American Patriot air-to-surface missile system can track 64 targets simultaneously and the inbuilt radar can provide command to the launcher to fire 12 missiles at a time. The development of Akash missile had taken place under the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) three decades ago. Akash was formally inducted in the Army on May 5 and in the Air Force on July 10 last year.
India, US Reach Agreement on Logistics, Boost Defense Ties
NEW DELHI — India and the US are poised to enter the next level of defense and strategic ties following an agreement in principle to share logistics.

The US has been pressing New Delhi to sign the agreement for the last 10 years. It was termed along with two other agreements as "foundation agreements."

"As our engagement deepens, we need to develop practical mechanisms to facilitate such exchanges," Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said, according to an MoD release from Tuesday. "In this context, [US Defense] Secretary [Ash] Carter and I agreed in principle to conclude a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in the coming months."

MoD sources say the agreement Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) will be tailored for India and will not be a general Logistics Support Agreement (LSA).

The announcement that the two countries have reached consensus on logistics was made at a joint new conference during Carter's visit to India.

The two countries agreed in principle to sign an agreement on providing logistics but have yet to finalize the draft of the agreement, an MoD official said. There was no date given on when the signing would take place. The MoD official added that the draft for the agreement would take care of India's concerns but refused to mention specific topics of concern.

A formal agreement, when inked, will access supplies, spare parts and services from each other's land facilities, air bases and ports, which can then be reimbursed, according to the MoD source, who added that the signing of the LEMOA does not provide automatic access to the use of military bases.

The U.S. administration has been wanting India to sign three agreements to deepen the already existing India-US military relationship. The three agreements are the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA); the LSA; and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geospatial intelligence. India has provided logistics assistance to the US in the past on a case-by-case basis, which included providing refueling facilities to American aircraft during the Gulf War in 2001.

Analysts say signing the CISMOA would enable India to get encrypted communications equipment and systems allowing military commanders to communicate with aircraft and ships through a secure network. The BECA would provide India with topographical and aeronautical data and products, which will aid navigation and targeting.

However, some Indian military officials do not support the CISMOA and BECA. One Indian Army official said the agreements would provide the US with access to communications about Indian military operations.

No MoD official would discuss whether there is agreement in principle on CISMOA and BECA.

"An agreement in principle on logistics would move India closer to [the] US as a strategic partner," said Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst.

A joint statement issued by the MoD said: "They (Ashton Carter and Manohar Parrikar) discussed the priorities for the coming year in defense ties, as well as specific steps both sides will take to pursue those priorities. These included expanding collaboration under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI); Make in India efforts of Government of India; new opportunities to deepen cooperation in maritime security and Maritime Domain Awareness; military-to-military relations; the knowledge partnership in the field of defense; and regional and international security matters of mutual interest."

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