Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

From Today's Papers - 24 May 2016

Port deal sealed, PM calls it a milestone
India, Iran, Kabul ink pact on transport & transit corridorn
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 23
The strategically important Chabahar port deal was among 11 agreements that India signed with Iran today.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi,  while in Iran on a two-day visit, called the Chabahar agreement as a ‘key milestone’. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also reached Tehran today to participate in the discussions.

“The agreement will strengthen our ability to stand against those whose only motto is to maim and kill innocents,” said the PM in a veiled reference to Pakistan.  He said the port would provide Afghanistan with an ‘effective and a more friendly route to trade with the rest of the world’.

The Chabahar port is of great strategic significance to India as it would open a transit route to Afghanistan and Central Asia for Indian goods and products, bypassing Pakistan.

For Pakistan and also for China, this is bad news, to put it mildly. The port would  provide Kabul an alternative to the city of Karachi. And for China, its dominance in the region is likely to be checked. Also, the port will bring India, Iran and Afghanistan closer to one another. “India and Iran also share a crucial stake in peace, stability and prosperity of the region. We have shared concerns at the spread of forces of instability, radicalism and terror in our region. We have agreed to consult closely and regularly on combating threats of terrorism, radicalism, drug trafficking and cyber crime.

“We have also agreed to enhance interaction between our defence and security institutions on regional and maritime security,” the PM said in a statement. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, "Chabahar can become a big symbol of cooperation between Iran and India.” Also, a trilateral agreement on transport and transit corridor was signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran, which Modi said could "alter the course of history of the region

Since the lifting of the sanctions, Iran has played host to a number of nations that are eager to engage with it. India maintained its relations with Iran during the sanctions era, despite pressure from the US, and never stopped importing oil from Iran.    

The Iranian media reporting on Modi’s visit was upbeat about the developments. The E'temad newspaper said Modi's visit and the signing of agreements on joint projects, energy and connectivity " will ring danger bells in Islamabad, China and Riyadh."  India will help develop the Chabahar port and invest around $200 million to develop terminals and cargo berths. A 500-km rail line between Chabahar and Zahedan will also be built with Indian collaboration. Before the visit, India had cleared part of its $6.4 billion oil dues to Iran.
Back-to-back attacks jolt Srinagar
Three policemen shot dead in two hours, Hizbul claims they did it
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 23
In back-to-back attacks in the city today, militants shot dead three policemen, one of them an officer, at two locations within a span of two hours. The Hizbul Mujahideen has owned responsibility for the attacks.

In the city’s Zadibal area, two motor-borne militants shot dead ASI Ghulam Mohammad Bhat (58) and Head Constable Nasir Ahmad (49) point blank at 10.30 am. The policemen were unarmed. Working on a case, they were on their way to a tea stall when they were attacked.

Soonafter, police and CRPF personnel cordoned the area and launched a search for the assailants. “Initial investigations reveal that the militants used pistols,” said a senior police officer. Then at 12 noon in the city's Tengpora locality, militants shot personal security officer (PSO) Mohammad Sadiq Sheikh (37) while he was sitting in a car. They took away the deceased's rifle. Director-General of Police K Rajendra Kumar said the two attacks were an act of “desperation” and the militants were trying to demonstrate their presence.

He was speaking at a wreath- laying ceremony. He said it was yet to be determined if the attacks were carried out by the Hizbul.

Srinagar has been relatively peaceful over the past three years.The last time that policemen were targeted in the city was on June 23, 2013. 

Later in the evening, a commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad and his associate were killed in the heart of Srinagar. The militants, hiding in a house, lobbed a grenade and fired at the forces. “In the brief exchange of fire, Saifullah was killed along with his associate,” the sources said.
Suicide bombers kill 45 army recruits in Yemen
Sanaa, May 23
A pair of suicide bombings killed at least 45 people in Yemen's southern city of Aden today, security officials said. They said the bombings targeted young men seeking to join the army.

One suicide car bomber targeted a line outside an army recruitment center, killing at least 20. A second bomber on foot detonated his explosive vest among a group of recruits waiting outside the home of an army commander, killing at least 25.

Scores of others were wounded, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media.

Yemen has for nearly two years been gripped by a war pitting the internationally recognised government against Shiite rebels who control the capital, Saana, and are allied with forces loyal to a former president.

The country is also home to active Al-Qaida and Islamic State group affiliates. No one claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks, which bore all the hallmarks of Islamic militants.

Monday's blasts underline the precarious security situation in Aden, the country's main port on the Arabian Sea, several months after government forces and allied militiamen backed by a Saudi-led coalition retook the city from the Shia rebels, also known as the Houthis.

The city has in recent months seen a series of suicide bombings and assassinations mainly targeting army and security forces. — AP
Watch out, China : America is cozying up to the Indian military
Washington and New Delhi are getting a lot more serious about military-to-military ties. As the United States and India become more wary of an increasingly assertive China, the two countries are gradually edging closer together.

On May 16, American and Indian officials met for a "maritime security dialogue" in New Delhi. "The dialogue covered issues of mutual interest, including exchange of perspectives on maritime security development in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region as well as prospects for further strengthening cooperation between India and the United States in this regard," stated an Indian Ministry of External Affairs press release.

Washington and New Delhi are also close to formalizing a historic military cooperation agreement hazily called the "Logistics Support Agreement"  —  or LSA. The agreement would allow the two militaries to use each other's land, air, and naval bases for resupplies, repairs, and conducting operations.

American and Indian officials agreed to hold the summit during an April visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Despite regular meetings and joint military training, the United States and India are not allies in any formal sense. India was officially unaligned in the Cold War but kept close relations with the Soviet Union  —  and the United States backed arch-rival Pakistan.

But there is a slow yet historic realignment underway. First of all, the United States and India are both growing warier of China's rise as a major regional military power. Second, the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has deteriorated during the course of America's decade-and-a-half-long war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan is the world's top recipient of Chinese weapons.

In an April profile in The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that U.S. President Barack Obama "privately questions why Pakistan, which he believes is a disastrously dysfunctional country, should be considered an ally of the U.S. at all."
Adm. Harry Harris, chief of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Command, told Congress in February that America and India are negotiating the LSA, another agreement called the CISMOA that would allow secure communications when both militaries operate together, and a third agreement regarding the exchange of topographical, nautical, and aeronautical data.

"We have not gotten to the point of signing them with India, but I think we're close," Harris told the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.

During the last few months, the proposed agreements has come closer to being a reality. "Secretary Carter and I agreed in principle to conclude a logistics exchange memorandum of agreement in the coming months," Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said during Carter's April visit.

These developments build on previous moves between the Indian and U.S. governments. In 2012, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta directed Carter  —  at the time his deputy  —  to head an initiative to widen the scope of mil-to-mil cooperation between the two counties. The result was the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

"The DTTI is not a treaty or a law," the initiative's website states. "It is a flexible mechanism to ensure that senior leaders from our nations are persistently focused on the opportunities and challenges associated with growing our defense partnership."

Through DTTI, American and Indian officials have discussed sharing technology and boosting business ties between the two countries' defense industries.

During Carter's April visit, he discussed the possibility of sharing technology to help New Delhi build its first domestically produced aircraft carrier INS Vishal  —  a deal the two countries have been negotiating through DTTI under the auspice of the "Aircraft Carrier Working Group."

Vishal, which New Delhi wants to be nuclear powered, is slated to set sail in 2028.

Carter also toured India's imported aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya. The Russian-built vessel has a troubled history. She arrived late, over budget, and lacking several vital components. India  —  currently the world's number one arms importer  —  has long counted Russia as its largest supplier of military goods.

This relationship, as noted, dates back to the Soviet Union and the Cold War. But the Vikramaditya experience, along with Russian-built warplanes that frequently fail to meet Indian expectations, seems to have prompted New Delhi to shift some of its dealings to the West.

India's military still relies heavily on Russian weapons and equipment  —  and business between the two countries certainly hasn't stopped. However, it has changed. During the last few years, the U.S. has edged out the Kremlin as New Delhi's largest source of military hardware.

The growing ties include more than just hardware and meetings between top brass. The U.S. and India have ramped up joint tactical combat training. In September, War Is Boring observed U.S. and Indian troops train together as part of the two countries' annual Exercise Yudh Abhyas at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Teddy Kleisner said that though the exercise was mostly tactical rather than strategic, any interaction between the U.S. and Indian militaries is obviously significant. "On our end we're keenly aware that our two countries are having conversations," Kleisner explained. "What we're doing here is making good on that dialogue."

As the largest military installation on the West Coast, Lewis-McChord has played an increasingly important role in the "pivot to the Pacific"  —  the Obama administration's strategy of increased military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. In January, the U.S. 1st Special Forces Group hosted Indian Special Forces for a joint maritime special ops exercise.

In June, the United States, India and Japan will hold the trilateral naval Exercise Malabar in the waters near Okinawa. The exercise began as a bilateral event between the U.S. and Indian navies, but for the last few years Japan has participated as a guest and has since become a permanent participant.

The three-country format has irked Chinese leaders, who assert that Beijing has sovereign rights to nearby islands in the South China Sea. As China flexes its military muscles and asserts itself as a rising superpower in the 21st century, it has become increasingly at odds with many of its neighbors  —  particularly India, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

As tensions mount, new alliances are beginning to form.
Army Training Women Officers for Combat Support Role at OTA Chennai
Defence forces are finally opening combat roles for women officers. While three women cadets of the Indian Air Force train to become fighter pilots, the Army is also gearing up to accommodate women as combatant members.

A group of women cadets are undergoing training at Officers Training Academy (OTA) - Chennai in combat support which majorly includes combat engineers and air defence. Senior Army officers say depending on the response and feedback from the training and experience, further decision will be taken on their induction in combat roles.

The Army is also considering permanent commission for women officers in a few additional combat support, said Army PRO Colonel Rohan.
"Based on the experience gained and feedback from the environment, on the current employment of women officers in various arms and services, their enhanced employment will be considered at an appropriate time," the officer added.

Even though the first batch is being trained at OTA Chennai, but as and when the number of women cadets increase, there are chances of them being admitted to other training academies too. The women cadets are also given basic training of handling weapons.
As of January 2016, the Indian Army has 1,470 women officers. Every year, nearly 100 women officers are being commissioned into the Army.

When asked whether the proposal to induct women officers was because of shortage of officers in Army, Colonel Anand replied in the negative. "No, I don't think so. It is mainly done on gender equality."
In March 2016, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had told the Lok Sabha that the "Army (excluding Army Medical Corps, Army Dental Corps and Military Nursing Service), as on July 1, 2015, against the authorized strength of 49,631 officers, held strength of officers is 40,525 with shortage of 9,106".

After President Pranab Mukherjee in his joint address to Parliament on the first day of the 2016 Budget session said women officers will be inducted in fighter streams in armed forces, the proposal has been moving in a positive direction.

The Army is moving step by step keeping in view all the practical issues before inducting them for combat roles and training in combat support is the first step in this regard.
Till now, women officers are restricted to the engineering, medical and education corps. They are primarily commissioned as Short Service Officers.

While the IAF will commission its first women fighter pilot on June 18, 2016, the Army it will take some time.

According to senior officers it is because in the IAF there is human-to-machine contact but in Army it is human-to-human contact.

While the defence forces opened their door to women officers only in 1992, there is still some way to go before they see combat.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal