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Thursday, 26 May 2016

From Today's Papers - 26 May 2016

West straining Sino-India ties: State media
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

Beijing, May 25
Amid President Pranab Mukherjee’s ongoing visit, China seems to be softening its stance towards India with state news agency Xinhua running an article blaming the West for the hyped tension between “the dragon and the elephant”. One of the reasons for this could be growing Chinese apprehensions that India, Japan and the US are getting together as a power bloc to challenge Beijing’s dominance in the region.

The report talks about the Chabahar port and how this is also being used to drive a wedge between the two Asian giants. “One of the latest targets of their smear campaign is a New Delhi-Tehran deal on developing Iran’s port of Chabahar. The seaport is 100 km from Pakistan’s Gwadar seaport, which is co-developed by China. Those media claim the Elephant-Dragon rivalry is unavoidable,” said the Xinhua report today. The report goes on to add that such hype is both “untrue and harmful”.

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The report comes out heavily in its criticism of the Western media, which it blames for creating such tension between China and other nations. The report goes on to state: “Yet the distorted coverage of China-India ties lays bare a deep and unfounded bias against China among Western media”.
Cop killed, another hurt in militant attack in Pulwama
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 25
A policeman was killed and another injured in a militant attack in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district today.

The militants carried out the attack at Monghama village in Pulwama, nearly 30 km from Srinagar, where National Conference district president and former MLA Ghulam Mohiuddin had gone to attend a marriage function.

“As the former MLA went inside the house, the militants fired indiscriminately at his Personal Security Officer (PSO) Shabir Ahmad, who was in civilian clothes. The bullets hit Shabir and another policeman Riyaz Ahmed, who was talking to the Personal Security Officer. The militants also snatched the rifle of Shabir before fleeing,” a police officer in Pulwama said.

The injured policeman, Ahmed, succumbed to his injuries on the way to a hospital. Ahmed was posted at District Police Lines, Pulwama, and was not on duty and was at the village to attend the marriage function of his cousin.

The militants believed to be two in number escaped even as the police said that one of them was injured in retaliatory firing.

The incident created panic in the village. The guests at the wedding were seen running for cover after the shootout. The National Conference leader escaped unhurt in the attack. Superintendent of Police, Pulwama, Rayees Mohammad Bhat said that they had got some clues about the attack. “We are working on them,” Bhat told The Tribune.

No militant group has so far claimed the responsibility for the attack.

With this incident in the last three days, four policemen have been killed by militants across Kashmir. On Monday, militants had shot three cops in Srinagar in two attacks.
Kathua bids adieu to its soldier shot in Manipur
Kathua, May 25
Rifleman Pawan Singh of 29 Assam Rifles, who attained martyrdom along with six other Army men at Jouti in Manipur in North-East on May 22, was cremated with full military honours at Khank village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district on Wednesday.

Pawan Singh’s family members were inconsolable and completely shattered as martyr’s 11-year-old son Ansh lit the funeral pyre amid slogans of ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. Rich tributes were paid to the martyr, who was also accorded a gun salute, by hundreds of people from different sections of society.

The martyr’s father, Baldev Singh, fainted several times even as the villagers helped him reach the cremation ground.

In the morning, Pawan Singh’s body wrapped in Tricolour reached his native village where a large number of people and senior officers, including Deputy Commissioner Romesh Kumar and Commanding Officer Vimal Monga, _were present.

Baldev Singh, who is a heart patient, said that he was proud that his son had laid down his life for the country. Pawan was only breadwinner of the family as his younger brother looks after agricultural activities at his home.

Pawan Singh had left his home to join duty on May 10 last after he had come on leave to perform the last rites of his mother, Attar Devi.

The martyr is survived by his wife Bindu and two children — Ansh Rajput and eight-year-old Palak Rajput. While Bindu was inconsolable, Ansh and Palak are yet to recover from the shock of their father’s death.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh expressed sympathy with the bereaved families and saluted the supreme sacrifice of the martyr.
Israel beats Sweden and Russia to become the frontrunner in Indian Army's quest for air defence system
The Indian Army has posed a requirement for a fast reaction air defence cover against enemy aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, and the probable solution has been found in the form of Israeli Spyder system, which has emerged as the frontrunner in this quest.

It was in 2011 that the Indian Army had started a short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) programme, and it is now nearing final selection, for a contract valued at over Rs 18,000 crore.

As per sources, the Israeli Spyder system, which has been manufactured by Rafael Advanced Systems, has come up as the frontrunner, given that its competitors, SAAB (Sweden) and Rosoboronexport (Russia), were not able to perform during technical trials that the Indian Army carried out last year.

This could mean a possible go ahead for the Israeli system to reach the the opening of the price bid, which is the next stage of procurement.

The winning company would need to transfer the technology to India, so that the system can be locally manufactured.

The Indian Air Force has already ordered Spyder, which has been inducted to protect sensitive air fields along the border.

Talking of 'Make in India,' the Indian Army has already ordered the Indian-made Akash SAM systems, however, these have been assigned the task of protecting static or defensive units, given that they carry limited mobility and take a larger reaction time to an incoming attack.

Anyway, the SRSAM project was launched with a 'global buy' clause, so that the Indian private industry could also be given a chance to invest in it. As per sources, the project is valued at close to Rs 6,000 crore and would need investment from joint ventures and production facilities in India.
USA and China cutting down Army strength, will India follow suit?

As China catches up on USA in defence capability and starts flexing its muscles on world stage, the two countries are now facing a showdown in South China Sea.

Interestingly, at the same time, both the countries are engaged in major military reforms to make their armed forces lean and mean. In the year 2015, the Indian Defence Minister Parrikar had said “The NDA government had plans to slash non-operational ‘flab’ of the 1.18 million strong Army both in terms of manpower and infrastructure to ensure cost-effectiveness and better teeth-to-tail ratio”.

Effectively, the world’s three largest Armies are under man-power downsizing. Personnel are long-term massive costs in defence budgets. In January 2014, China decided to reduce its military regions from seven to five theatre Commands and to create a joint command for coordinated tri-service operations in East China Sea. In November 2015, they scrapped three of the four army headquarters. China has 1.6 million personnels in the Army, 240,000 in Navy and 400,000 in Air Force and has decided to cut the 2.3 million force by 300,000 to 2.0 million. Around 70% of the cut was in the land-based units. China does not anticipate a ground invasion currently. The reorganisation is also a response to the USA’s Asia Pivot strategy. The plan is to shift resources from land forces to sea and air, and to modernise. China’s slowing economy is having an impact on government spending, including the country’s military budget.

Peoples Liberation Army (PLA’s) traditional priority to land forces and greater hierarchical position enjoyed by the Army over Navy and Air Force will now change. The aim is to cut troops linked to outdated equipment, office staff and non-combat personnel. China had also seen growth in military wages in recent years, eating into the defence budget. To compete with the modern US Army, China had no choice but to cut flab and modernise. A new “Space Force” would be formed under the PLA Air Force. As part of consolidating power, President Xi has also sacked a few Generals as part of his anti-corruption drive and to streamline layers of command and bureaucracy within PLA. Even when troop reduction is completed in 2017, China will still have the world’s largest army.

As of 2016, the United States spends about $580.3 billion annually to fund its military forces. The projected active duty end strength in the armed forces for 2016 was 1,301,300. The US DoD 2017 budget caters for active strength of 1,281,900. Most cuts are planned in US Army. US Army which had mushroomed over the years; especially after September 2001 attacks will be cut down to pre-World War II size. Dwindling defence budgets are also indicative of the political thinking. The US Army from its recent peak of 570,000 troops in 2010 is planned to be reduced to 440,000 by 2018. It has already cut 80,000 soldiers since 2010. Another 40,000 will be cut by the end of 2018. Thrust will shift to Cyber and Special warfare and unmanned systems. The reduction is planned in spite the operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and the Islamic State continue to be the main threats to the US.

Additionally, reports state that 17,000 Army civilian employees would be laid off. Pentagon may turn increasingly toward the Navy for its primary military needs. As of December 9, 2015, the US Navy has 272 active ships, the lowest since 1916. With the F-35 programme still going strong, and the new long-range strike bomber cleared, USAF is less affected. Shrinking the top brass is one of the number of ideas through command structure changes. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter feels there are too many four-star appointment slots. Headquarters have either become top-heavy or less efficient. Military had to cut many important defence acquisitions due to budget cuts.

Indian Defence Minister has made it clear that there is an urgent need for downsizing in non-operational areas both due to budgetary constraints and unrealistic non-operational holdings. Money saved could go into the urgently needed requirements such as 17 Corps (mountain strike corps) with 90,000 troops at cost of Rs 65,000 crores which is temporarily held back. The areas that could be a target for cuts could be the 'sahayak' (orderly) for officers or deploying soldiers for escort duties or to man unit-run canteens. Many peace area activities like transportation, logistics, cooking and serving etc. are being outsourced. Newer weapon systems require lesser man-power but units are still manned at old scales. Honest open approach can help identify many more areas where non-combat personnel can be shed to convert to combat posts. Many civilian posts can easily be shed if the government has the political will and can be diverted to operational personnel. Indian Army currently has a strength of 1,129,900 active personnel, Indian Air Force has 127,200 and Indian Navy has 58,350, totalling 1,325,450. Para military forces also have 1,300,586 personnel.

Just a peace dividend in J&K could have meant cutting 100,000 soldiers. The cuts may not be physical but savings could be diverted to new raisings to cater to operational units for a two-front war.

Indian Army honours Mrs India world, five other soldier wives

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Iris Maju ,Mrs India World has been honoured by the Army with the title ‘Woman of Substance’ along with five army wives with varied achievements including Veena Malik, Arjuna award winner and Para Olympian.

At a function recently held at Sam Manekshaw Hall in Delhi, Mrs. Namita Suhag wife of General Dalbir Singh Suhag,Chief of Army Staff honored Iris Maju for her outstanding contribution to Army Wives Welfare Association(AWWA), an association established for the empowerment and welfare of wives of Army Jawans) and for her representaition of the country in the Mrs World pageant. Iris is married to Colonel Maju Joseph, Indian Army.

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