Monday, November 30, 2009

I can't believe this !!!

DRDO is already infamous for delayed projects, decayed politics (over promotions etc), cost and time overruns and failed trials of indigenous products, and now Padmashree Dr V K Saraswat - SA to RM, has time to lead DRDO employees to a morning walk in New Delhi's Nehru Park and then this piece of info comes from their public interface department as an official press release. Weight management, BP control etc were on the agenda during the walk, there was yoga also. God help this country. I just can't stop laughing. DRDO grow up!!

In Lok Sabha today...

Defence Minister A K Antony replied in Lok Sabha today:

---The following dignitaries are entitled to use defence aircraft / helicopters:-

President of India, Vice President of India, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister of India, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance and other Ministers of the Central Government. In addition Cabinet Secretary, three Service Chiefs, Defence Secretary, Foreign Heads of States, Vice Presidents and Heads of Foreign Governments on State visit to India, Foreign Service Chiefs on official visit to India are also eligible. A total amount of Rs. 64592973/- is outstanding. Bills of airlift are raised by Air Headquarters against the concerned and necessary follow up action is taken thereon.

---A Committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary to look into the issue of One Rank One Pension and other related matters. After considering all aspects of the issue, the Committee did not find it administratively feasible to recommend One Rank One Pension, as such. However, several other recommendations to substantially improve pensionary benefits of Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR) and Commissioned officers have been made, which have been accepted by the Government.

---After the Armed Forces Tribunal came into existence on August 10, 2009, 774 cases have been transferred from High Courts to AFT and 161 new cases have been instituted. Against this, 115 cases have been disposed. No exact time frame for settling all the pending cases can be indicated.

---While in 2006-07, there was slight excess expenditure, in the two subsequent years there has been marginal underutilization, primarily on account of the complexities involved in procurement of defence equipments and slippages in delivery schedule resulting in postponement of payments, which were to be made on achievement of milestones as set out in the contracts.

Second Su-30MKI goes down within a year

The second Su-30 MK I aircraft of the IAF crashed near south-west of Pokhran on 30 Nov 09 at about 1730 hrs. The aircraft had airborne from Jodhpur on a routine flying training sortie. The pilot and the navigator ejected safely. There is no reported damage to civil life or property. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate into the cause of the accident.

The first crash took place on April 30, 2009 in Rajasthan, killing one of the pilots, Wg Cdr Nara, in the crash. Again the date is 30th and the place Rajasthan. Some jinxed connection !


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Embarrassed Army stumbles upon evidence against MS, replacement of MS likely soon, next Chief's DoB file affected in MS Branch by the mess !!

The Indian Army has submitted its final report to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), on the court of inquiry into the transfer of the 70 acre land scam case in 33 Corps in Sukna, West Bengal.

Sources revealed to People's Post that besides questioning the General Officer Commanding of 33 Corps, Lt Gen P K Rath, the Military Secretary (MS) of the Indian Army, Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash, too has been called many times to the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command headquarter, where Lt Gen Rath was attached for inquiry for the past one month.

The case in question is the grant of NOC (no-objection certificate) to an educational institution, supposedly affiliated to Ajmer's Mayo College, for construction of a school near Sukna, by the Corps Commander Lt Gen Rath. People's Post has learnt that Rath gave the NOC at the behest of the MS, Lt Gen Prakash, who promised to bring him to Army Headquarters on posting as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff, which is a prestigious posting, and Lt Gen Prakash was to be given a senior position on the Board of the school after he superannuated on January 31, 2010, in return for the NOC, which he was facilitating.

The evidence which has been found and submitted in the final report is the brochure of the school, not yet built, which carries the names of all the Board Directors in which the name of the MS figures as a retired officer. There were two inquiries being carried out, one by the Army and the other by the MoD, as Defence Minister A K Antony has showed his annoyance towards the officers over the matter, and has assured action against the guilty.

It may be noted that the next in line for Chief of Army Staff, present General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Army's Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command, Lt Gen V K Singh is having the inquiry conducted under his supervision, as 33 Corps falls under the Command.

It is learnt that Lt Gen V K Singh's date of birth issue has not yet been settled and is still pending with the MS branch which has to finalise it and send the records to the AG branch. The matter about the confusion of Lt Gen Singh's date of birth was brought to the notice of the Ministry in January 2008 after which an inquiry was ordered into it. The current Chief, General Deepak Kapoor retires on March 31, 2010, and the new Chief would assume office on April 1, 2010, for which the Government has to make the announcement atleast two months in advance for which the MS branch needs to act fast and clear the file for further paper-work.

Lt Gen Singh's date of birth is listed in service records which the AG (Adjutant General) Branch of the Army maintains, as May 10, 1951, where as the MS Branch has his date of birth as 1950. The MS branch is responsible for keeping records of promotions and postings of officers, while the AG branch is the custodian of records (such as dates of birth) of officers from the time they enter academies for training till they die.

Sources have revealed that Lt Gen Singh had put in a representation with the MS branch for the clearance of the file, which was not looked into, and the current MS, Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash, is due for retirement before the new Chief assumes office, which also explains why the delay in clearance of the file. There is buzz in South Block that MS, Lt Gen Prakash, could also be moved out earlier than his due time, which is before January 31, 2010, and a new MS would be brought in, considering his role in the land scam. The name that is doing the rounds is Lt Gen G M Nair, presently commanding 9 Corps in Yole.

Meanwhile the posting of Lt Gen Rath to the vacancy of the Deputy Chief existing, has been cancelled, and is lying vacant till the MoD takes further action. While Lt Gen V K Singh, according to senior officers who told People's Post, should've been brought to Delhi on posting as the Vice Chief, the appointment which was taken up by Lt Gen P C Bharadwaj on October 1, 2009 at the recommendation of the present Chief. Officers say that Lt Gen Singh would've spent atleast six months in the Ministry as Vice Chief and learnt the interface between the services and the Ministry which is required as the Chief, which when he becomes would've made his transition smoother and he could've learned the movement of files etc easily, as he has to become the Chairman Chiefs of Staff also at some stage, and this is required.

Calling it an incorrect step on the part of the Ministry, an officer said that, "Since Lt Gen Singh has not served in Delhi anytime after he became a Major, that was his last posting here, he would find it difficult to learn everything in one go, and would be under pressure right from day one, as opposed to when if he would've come here as Vice Chief it would've given him that much time to imbibe the functioning of the system."

MS Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash, a Kumaon officer and Colonel of the Kumaon Regiment, also finds his name in a land scam inquiry in the Kumaon regimental center in Ranikhet. South Block sources have revealed that the MS is on special leave these days, where he comes to office for a couple of hours, and visits Kolkata often to answer questions, as he is not attached there for the inquiry.

Copyright : People's Post

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Russian stealth Krivak III Class named by the President---Teg, Tarqash, Trikand to join IN by 2012.

This photo is of the indigenously manufactured stealth frigate INS Shivalik, by MDL-Mumbai, which is undergoing sea acceptance trials. Should've completed by now, but it is delayed.

Meanwhile the first of the three Russian made guided missile stealth frigates, the Krivak-III Class, entered water for the trials recently. The three warships under this 1.6 billion dollar Indo-Russian contract, signed in 2006, have had their designated names approved by the President of India recently. They would be equipped with BrahMos.

They will be called INS Teg (sword), INS Tarqash (quiver), INS Trikand (trident/three views)--- in accordance with the Talwar Class. All would be in by 2012.

Photos: Navac POP-Kochi

Friday, November 27, 2009


“India’s growing international stature gives it strategic relevance in the area ranging from the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca …..India has exploited the fluidities of the emerging world order to forge new links through a combination of diplomatic repositioning, economic resurgence and military firmness”--India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh

“We see the Indian Navy as a significant stabilising force in the Indian Ocean region, which safeguards traffic bound not only for our own ports, but also the flow of hydrocarbons and strategically important cargo to and from the rest of the world across the strategic waterways close to our shores…..And so, the safety of SLOCS will always remain a priority for India in the foreseeable future”…….Admiral Sureesh Mehta former Chief of Naval Staff at the Shangri la Dialogue Singapore May 2009

The above statements have given grist to China to defend itself on what has been touted by a US researcher as ‘China’s String of Pearls’ of bases in the Indian Ocean. Naval analyst Zhang Ming recently proclaimed that the Islands of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago could be used as a ‘metal chain’ to block Chinese access to the Straits of Malacca. China has gone further to claim that India is building an ‘Iron Curtain’ in the Indian Ocean, which is debatable. In recent years, a number of analysts have drawn attention to the similarities of nationalism, between the rise of modern China and the rise of Wilhelmine Germany. Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, says that "like Germany in the late 19th century, China is growing rapidly but uncertainly, into a global system (including the Indian ocean) in which it feels it deserves more attention and honor. The Chinese military ( CMC) is a powerful political player, as was the Prussian officer corps. Like Germany, the Chinese regime is trying to hold onto political power even as it unleashes forces in society that make its control increasingly shaky."

More recently President Obama has stated that the future of the world will depend on the USA- China relationship, and that could well turn out to be a truism. The 19th century strategic thinker Mahan had prophesised that the future of the world in the 21st Century would be decided on the waters of the Indian Ocean and in this, India’s expansion of its maritime power and Navy, and inroads in to the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is very much on China’s radar, which deserves introspection.

It is less publicised or talked about, but in the last two decades India has stealthily straddled its interests in the Indian Ocean Rim which includes the islands of Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles and Madagascar and the rim states of South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique by very deft moves in foreign policy, economic sops like the double taxation exemption with Mauritius, and military inroads. This is the classical strategy of gaining influence by conjoining economic perks and power, with military diplomacy called ‘Showing the Flag’, so well perfected by larger maritime naval powers in the past. The Indian Navy has transferred offshore naval patrol vessels, provided staff and training, and refit facilities and most importantly provided naval hydrographic support to the island nations of the IOR, which steps have left strategic imprints on the recipients.

It is less known, that in the late 80s the Indian Navy moved in a Leander pretending it needed repairs, and concurrently flew in armed personnel to Victoria from Mumbai, to help ward off a coup against President Albert Rene of the Seychelles. The coup was engineered by Col Mike ‘Mad’ Hoare of the Longreach Company of South Africa, now made public in a book ‘Mercenary Invasion of Seychelles’, by Aubrey Brooks and Graham Linscoff. In 1998 the Indian Navy’s INS Godavari berthed at Maldives, and Army troops flew in by IL-76s in Op Cactus and staved off a coup. Dissident Abdullah Luthufi had led 80 armed mercenaries of the Sri Lankan organisation (PLOTE), in an attempt to capture and overthrow President Gayoom.The Indian Navy has deputed warships and helicopters to provide security at the African heads’ meetings, a move very much appreciated by the population at large.


The Indian Navy possesses a sophisticated hydrographic cadre, with 8 well equipped survey ships , numerous survey craft, a large world class electronic chart production facility in Dehra Dun and a hydrographic school at Goa which trains several foreign naval and civilian personnel. Much funding for the Navy’s survey ships has been contributed by the Ministry of Shipping, which allows easier induction of latest equipment, and a swifter procurement route than the cumbersome MOD’s DPP-08, which is still to prove its efficacy. China views India’s hydrographic activities as strategic inroads in to the Indian Ocean.

The Indian Government appreciative of the hydrographic work done by the Indian Navy swiftly ordered six, 600 ton Austal (Australia/USA) design Catamaran Survey ships in 2006 at the Alcock Ashdown Shipyard at Bhavnagar. The IN’s Chief Hydrographer Vice Admiral B A Rao has stated the first platform will be in service by 2010, and balance in annual series production. Indian Navy will then be the second Navy in the world to employ low draught catamarans with on board helicopters, which will have the advantage to speedily survey close inshore, doing away with the age old time consuming ‘boat work for survey’, which requires meticulous re- validation.

As a silent strategic arm, Indian Navy’s hydrographic branch’s has made significant forays in the IOR to undertake over a dozen survey assignments for island nations and recently executed surveys in Oman and now is set to advise Saudi Arabia, for which an MOU has been signed in March this year. These successes have almost blocked out the more expensive western navies that had provided essentially needed hydrographic support to the island nations which possess large coast lines and EEZ. India’s hydrographic policy has already paid off, and will pay richer dividends in the future to compete and ward off China’s influence in the region, and its ‘ String of Pearls’ that has funded ports like Gwadar in Pakistan, Chittagong in Bangla Desh, Humbantota in Sri Lanka and Sittwe in Mynmar covering the rim of India.


The Indian Ocean holds importance for India’s development in the 21st century and the Chatham House paper states, “India’s strategy is deepening not only commercially but due to concerns over its security and hegemony in the region, which are underpinned by India’s 2004 Maritime Doctrine.” The Chinese views aired at the 2009 Malacca Straits Kula Lumpur Conference was that ‘India is looking East and forming an Iron Curtain in the Indian Ocean’. The Chinese view the Indian Navy’s gathering of 28 IOR Naval Chiefs including France, a riparian state under one roof at the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in February 2008 in New Delhi and Goa for a retreat, as ganging up in the IOR. When confronted with the String of Pearls, Chinese brush it off as small change provided to poor nations for port development, adding India gets easy ADB and World Bank loans for port development. The swords were out on this.

India’s Indian Ocean African Rim grouping called IOR-ARC(the Arrangement for Regional Cooperation ), and India Brazil South Africa(IBSA) forum which are groupings for commercial links, provision of energy and other resources from Africa, are viewed by the Chinese in security terms, as there is another ‘Scramble for Africas’, made famous in a book by that title by Thomas Pakenham. India’s maritime military strategy and the Navy’s 2004 maritime doctrine, both issued by the Indian Navy are very clear that it is the Indian Navy’s responsibility to ensure stability in the IOR, which irks the Chinese as they view the Indian Ocean as their life line for trade and energy. Chi Haotin had said, ‘it is Indian Ocean not India’s ocean’. India’s out going Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta made his mandate clear at the recent Shangri la dialogue in Singapore in the presence of Chinese General Mao stating, “Concerted efforts at capability enhancement and capacity building of the smaller countries of the region(IOR), through active assistance of larger neighbours, would be crucial to such efforts in the long term”.

India has developed a special relationship with Mauritius, which is a fulcrum island state because of its strong Indian diasporas. India has instituted a favourable taxation treaty that makes it India’s largest offshore investor. The Indian Navy set up the Mauritius Coast Guard in the 70s, and has provided ships and personnel, and Mauritius has close security coordination with India’s CIA, the RAW. Chinese and Pakistan activities in the IOR are closely monitored by India’s intelligence and India has forestalled Chinese expansionist moves to lease islands in the Seychelles. The India-China competition to seek influence in the region is set to intensify as China’s cheque book diplomacy currently finds favour in small African states especially in Sudan and Zimbabwe. Deng’s philosophy of ‘the colour of the cat does not matter as long as it catches rats’, is still relevant.

When the IOR-ARC, was formed Mauritius, Madagascar and Mozambique supported India’s move to block Pakistan’s membership and later China’s access to India Brazil South Africa- IBSA. The Indian Navy has also made in roads to gain over flying and berthing rights in Oman, which holds a strategic location especially for the fight against piracy off the Gulf of Aden, and Indian Navy can monitor the SLOCs of Hormuz and Aden. India has signed an MOU to provide piracy patrols to Mozambique . It was also reported India has established a listening post in Madagascar in 2007. No denial was issued by the Government. Chinese alluded to these issues at the Malacca Conference held in Kula Lumpur, offering all support for the security of the Straits, in what is termed as China’s Malacca dilemma.


India’s maritime strategy envisages a swath of area as its watch from Aden and the Straits of Hormuz to the Straits of Malacca and Mahan appears to have seen the coming importance of this region which provides 70% of the world’s hydro carbons. K Santhanam former Director of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis(IDSA) and one of the architects of India’s nuclear programme , has coined the C3I theory for India- China relations and needs heeding. It envisages that India and China will seek active cooperation as China has become India’s largest trading partner, and yet both will always be in competition, for the same markets. In the future confrontation cannot be ruled out if both nations’ interests clash, hence the three Cs, as India has an unresolved border dispute with China. The I stands for which nation will obtain superior Intelligence and includes space and cyber warfare abilities. This writer feels the world has to be prepared for C3I as nation’s juggle to balance China and India in their relations as both are growing economic powers.

China has invested $ 200 million and China Harbour Engineering Company has assisted Pakistan to set up Phase One of the Gwadar deep water port which is 75 nautical miles east of the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. India uses Bandar Abbas, which is at the narrow entrance of the Hormuz as a transit hub, to transport its $ 1.2 bill worth of on going aid projects in Afghanistan. The Chinese plan to use Pakistan’s Gwadar as the transit hub for its energy and other imported resources, especially from Africa to be ferried by road and pipe line to Central China in the not so distant future. This is a core national endeavour and aspiration for China. Hence China supports Pakistan and this leads to the importance of Pakistan – China vis a vis India’s - Iran relations. This triangle needs to be factored as it could lead to challenges if any nation’s national interests, like Iran’s nuclear ambitions are at stake.

Much of India’s oil and gas arrives by sea from the Middle East. Hence ensuring no disruption of the sea lanes of communication in the Indian Ocean are not only vital for the world’s economy but for India too, and China feels it has a stake in providing maritime forces and resources in the IOR when it has the capability or havens, to do so. The Nippon Foundation and China contribute generously to the Tripartite Technical Expert Group (TTEG) of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore that administer the Malacca Straits. India recently decided to contribute $ 1.2 million as a response, and advanced $ 774,000 to the TTEG on 31st March, 2009. India has volunteered to survey wrecks in the Malacca Straits which has been accepted by the TTEG, another red rag to the Chinese. The PM of Malaysia whose speech was delivered at the 2009 Malacca Straits Conference in Kuala Lumpur stated some nations( USA and India that patrolled the straits arbitrarily post 9/11 in Op Sagittarius) look at Malacca Straits in terms of hard power, but we would like to look at it in soft power terms, implying TTEG does want to see military assets of other nations to come to the region, though Singapore has been ambivalent on this issue.

The Chinese and Indian swords are sheathed for the time being, but could be out and India has to be prepared for the String of Pearls vs the Iron Curtain debate in what Santhnam has coined as C3I, for it was Chi Haotin who had said, “Indian Ocean is not India’s Ocean”. As the Chinese warn never dig a spear in to the Dragon’s eye, and do not hammer at a stone, chisel it. The stationing of three PLA Navy ships to fight piracy off Aden and Somalia is China’s way of chiseling in to the Indian Ocean. In the 21st century China’s PLAN may well straddle the Indian Ocean, to protect its national interests. It would be in India’s interest to add a C to C3I to make it C3IC so that India can cope with the rise of China.

(Cmde (retd) Ranjit B Rai is Vice President Indian Maritime Foundation, International Correspondent for India Strategic Broadcaster, former Director Naval Intelligence and Operations and author of a Nation and its Navy At War. He visited China recently.

Courtesy: Indian Defence Review

UK offers upgradation of Jaguar, to bail out Hawk AJT

A three-member British delegation led by the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies met the Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju here today. Mr. Davies said the United Kingdom was eager to help India in the upgradation of the Jaguar fighter jets and overcome problems related to licensed production of Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer at the HAL.

Pallam Raju informed the visiting dignitary that India was ready to sign a General Security Arrangement (GSA) with the UK while an MoU on Host Nation Support (HNS) was under examination of an inter-ministerial committee.

Courtesy : MoD-DPR

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chindits gets its Sukhoi-30MKI flight certificate from Moscow !

Maiden flight of LCA Tejas PV-5-twin seater trainer

Women combatants : My reply to an anonymous commenter

James from Michigan comments :

Suman: you resorted to attacking me as the critique of my statements and brings into question your professionalism (you are a journalist right!). Actually, you devalued your argument and opinion. Further, I was not rude to you. I stated that there is a flaw in you argument and that you used circular reasoning justify the role of women in the military. You, unfortunately resort to personal jabs.

Just to clarify, I am a male from Michigan and I don’t care if you think my English is the best or not. I apologize that I wrote my response in less than two minutes without any editing.

In response to your statements:

Quote “Did we have any women warriors in Mahabharata?” Are you kidding me! Are you saying the text of multiple authors who were likely men had no biases? So we have not had any women, no heroes in the rich South Asian history serve in the military?

Quote “if this was a feasible project why didn't they think of it in these 16 years “– this is your rationale for why we should maintain the status quo. Change is important to the success of modern military. We need women in large numbers to become a professional military that reflects the values and ethos of our society.

Quote ”How can you compare men being raped, as you've put forth, with women being raped.” Rape is violent regardless of the gender. The physical and emotional damages can be just as severe. This is should be no way is the basis of womens access to the services. This is fear mongering.

I am basing my opinion on what I hear, read and personal experiences. I am NOT a military person but I am familiar with military culture and have colleagues who are ex-military. Just to remind you, you are journalist writing about the military and specifically in this case about military policy.

Re: feminism or anti-women WHAT!!!! – This is what the whole article is about. I think you completely missed the point. The assumption is that you are not anti-women. I could strongly argue that you are anti-women based on your comments throughout the article. Read the next paragraph for more rationale.

Clearly, you want the status quo maintained! The real problem is a policy question, should we allow women access and rights in the military? The answer should be yes. Should we change the culture of military to incorporate them and set up institutional support for their well being? The answer should be yes? The reality that women do join and participate in the services may be different. The actuality that they serve on the front lines as ground troops or helo pilots may be different. Because both are based on their choice to serve in those capacities not based on the fact that they have no access.

Cultural and physical – cultural factors would clearly dominant over physical. Culture can be changed and physical to a lesser extent. I don’t know about your female role models; but women are clearly physically capable to operate machinery (tanks, helos, missle batteries etc.), hold a weapon, charge a front line, hurl a grenade, etc. Actually, repeated studies have shown that women are better machine operators (less risk takers) given equal training. As far a physical strength and endurance, studies also show that although women are physically weaker, their endurance is higher.

Given a military culture where women are participants, I am certain the men would allow them privacy to relieve themselves. Actually, this is no different for men; many military men prefer privacy when they have to use the bathroom. Their individual need for privacy is respected by their fellow comrades. [Sarcasm alert: I forget that all these women in rural communities around South Asia are holding their needs in until they find that perfect feminine place to use a bathroom. Women all over the world squat and piss to relieve themselves.]

I was very disappointed with vitriol in your response. Further, you need to reevaluate your professionalism.

Again, James in Michigan


Yes! Am a journalist. And I value all your arguments…though I don’t agree with all of your views but being an INDIAN and ‘James in Michigan’ are two different context in world affairs. I still standby my opinion. All critiques from my valued readers are my ink strength. May be your comments sound rude to a normal human being but being a journalist and a defense analyst of one of the most powerful Armed Forces in the world is something very responsible and unbiased. The personal jabs actually were not warranted but that’ was to send home the point…you would have changed your views by the time you reach the end of this note.

If u see my personal background then u will agree with dissent and irritation for women who actually are wearing or wishing to be in uniform and not even gasped or shown concern about the statement you argued on. Your English is not important-what I value is your attention to my article, its valuation and comments on it… Were you expecting something very mundane from me?

In response to your response to my statements:

Quote “Did we have any women warriors in Mahabharata?” I agree with you-The Indian mythology and history is full of women Warriors starting from Rani Laxmi Bai ,Chand Bibi and so on. But all of them had broken the ice age ideologies and took a different stream then….they acted as fuel in fire for India’s quest for freedom which was then so widely revered…But nobody then argued in their favour or initiated the feeling to start the fervor to lead from front or to do different…

Quote “if this was a feasible project why didn't they think of it in these 16 years “– No…this is not my rationale for why we should maintain the status quo. I also agree that change is important to the success of modern military. But in India do we really need all types of and only women to create a professional military or those woman of substance that also reflects the values and ethos of our society continue supporting the very basis of professionalism of Indian Army?

Quote ”How can you compare men being raped, as you've put forth, with women being raped.” This is not fear mongering..this is women and to the system…especially in India who must cater for these kind of demoralizing threats-looming at large once a woman is in combat situation. James ,a War is a War. I have felt ,smelled it in my inception stage when my father was narrating it to my mother…when my brother painted Kargil to me .You will agree with me that visualisation of and being there in war are two separate facts…

Your hearsay ,bookread (and personal experiences-?) visualization of Combat really gives the glimpse that you are NOT a military person- but just mere familiarity with military culture and having colleagues who are ex-military can no way be jurisprudence in deciding a military policy.

Actually! The real problem is a policy question, should we allow women access and rights in the military? The answer should be yes. You yourself agreed that we must change the culture of military to incorporate them and set up institutional support for their well being. But isn’t it more a choice based on individual or a country's requirements. Being physically stronger and catering higher endurance always form part of individual choices. Thanx for queuing women capabilities.

Privacy and being admirably cultured is Indian women and men’s pride. We regard it that way. The line as I suggested earlier is to alarm the policy makers. You must know(Your knowledge about changed and roaring India seems to be shallow)Woman in India are so advanced and free that they know how to earn and maintain their privacy with balancing cultured act of not to squat and piss anywhere /all over the place like woman all over the world do(Sarcasm Alert-I know about men's behavioural flaw of not been able to hold for long and spraying all over fellow countrymen’s yard/residential wall. But , how do women do it in Michigan?)

My article is an effort to ingnite that flare in ladies who are and wish to wear the uniform.They shouldn’t be opportunistic in seeking something different initially then succumb under family or personal feelings to settle down with another uniform holder and continue in a race for a good life in this period of recession. Only a woman can understand and react to the statements favouring women warriors like this …because I strongly feel I can instigate hidden feelings like this only. I still support the Vice Chief-and I want women to react to ‘my support to him’….and someone must come up to prove it the other way round….I wish this happens…I know this will happen…..I want James' like reaction from ‘All Women of Substance in India’.

Thanx for supporting me through your critique note and to remind me that am still a journalist writing about the military and specifically in this case about military policy. Am just waiting for a similar flaring response from all women of substance…from women of my country who always have proved themselves-always…and am confident that they will be happier to be supported by James in Michigan.

You still feel am anti –women?

I am grateful to you for your valuable comments.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Second woman in the world to do a Sukhoi -- Pratibha Patil

A lot of sites, including BBC (and some channels also, whom I threatened in the morning) have incorrectly reported as Her Excellency being the first woman. She is the first woman President, but the second woman and second President. I am the first woman and Dr Kalam was the first President. Even Rashtrapati Bhawan is mum over this incorrect reportage, probably because it suits them. They should have and the IAF authorities too-PRO-MoD-- should have checked this.

But I was better, with 21 minutes and 5G, as opposed to her 20 mins and 2G flight, and now for her age as oposed to mine, well I am not the President, which she is and therefore the flight just landed in her lap, as an order to her desire, which has not been my case. I have had to work really hard for my fame and success and which is why I ask my due, Ma'am !! Please have some ethics. The President is aware of my achievement.

Chindits completes a year !

Anniversary time..Chindits began its journey on Nov 25, 2008 and has indeed come a long way, but has a longer way to go, too !! Wish me luck.

Initial Operational Clearance in 2011 for Light Combat Helicopter

A K Antony replied in Rayja Sabha today:

The first prototype (technology demonstrator) of the
Light Combat Helicopter s (LCH) is expected to get the initial operation clearance by around mid 2011.The design and development of the programme was approved in October 2006.

There is a proposal for export of indigenously developed helicopters. HAL has exported five numbers of the indigenously developed Helicopters Dhruv to Ecuador and one to Mauritius.
Photos: Suman Sharma/MAKC-2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Exclusive : Army introduces Quantified System of selection for promotion

A quantified system of Selection Boards, has been introduced in the Indian Army with an aim to reduce complaints from officers over promotions. The system, which was sourced after seeing its success in the Medical Corps where it is in place for promotions, came into effect from January 2009 and has had four Boards so far, and sources have revealed to People's Post that it has had the desired effect, which is to bring down representations being put in by officers.

Boards conducted in this year so far are from Lieutenant Colonel to Colonel, Colonel to Brigadier, Brigadier to Major General and Major General to Lieutenant General, all of which have been through the new system.

The system, which is fully computerised, is divided into marks out of 100, of which 90 are for Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs), five for awards, honours and courses done by officers, and the remaining five are with the Board members for value judgement.

A senior officer told People's Post, "Though complaints, if at all, will take time as they follow the channel, and we haven't completed one full year of the system being in place. But we have had four Boards with the system and we anticipate less complaints and representations coming in, as the system is computerised and the human factor has been taken care of."

The ACRs of any officer go through atleast three levels, which are the Initiating Officer, Reviewing Officer and the Senior Reviewing Officer. With the increase in the number of vacancies after the AV Singh-II recommendations, the Boards for senior officers' promotions would be held again next month, said an officer, especially number 1 SB (Selection Board), and Special Selection Board (SSB) which is for promoting Major Generals to Lieutenant Generals. Number 1 SB is for Brigadiers to Major Generals, number 2 SB for Colonels to Brigadiers and number 3 SB is for Lieutenant Colonels to Colonels. Out of all those being considered for promotion, atleast 50 percent make it.

Earlier officers made it to anywhere between six and eight on a nine-pointer scale in their ACRs and a few sevens often became the reason for rejection of an officer in a Board. An officer argues, "A seven could be an error or even a senior's grudge towards a junior officer, who's ACR he was writing, but with computerisation now, it is certain that a just system would be followed, plus the Board also has some marks with it."

Any Board has officers two ranks senior to the officers to be assessed, and generally has a strength of five officers.

Awards and honours too have weightage, in which distinguished awards for service like VSM and PVSM are considered only for the immediate Board, while gallantry awards are considered for two Boards, during promotion.

An officer said that, "The system is very good for junior officers like those being promoted from Lieutenant Colonel to Colonel and from Colonel to Brigadier, but for higher ranks it is not very good, as there are less number of reports being written and therefore if the officer misses in any of them, then he is out, while in junior selection the officer has more number of years to perform and subsequently more ACRs, therefore he has a lot of time to prove himself and earn better reports."

A LtCol remains in his rank for at atleast four years or more before coming up for promotion, while a Colonel too has that much time in his rank, but Brigadier and Major Generals hardly have a couple of years in which either they make it or miss the next rank.

As of now the Indian Army surely has found a way to cut down on complaints from those who are unable to make it to the next rank.

Copyright : People's Post

The first naval Observer is not just a Sharma, but also from my hometown !! The community is proud of you Seema ! Name-type & Place-type

Monday, November 23, 2009

In Lok Sabha today

Defence Minister A K Antony replies in Lok Sabha today:

--An expenditure of Rs. 56 lakhs was incurred by the Indian Air Force on conversion of eight AN-32 aircraft for VIP travel. The matter was examined in detail by the Public Accounts Committee of the 14th Lok Sabha and all aircraft have been demodified.

--The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a rapid and cost-effective “Swine flu virus H1N1 specific isothermal gene amplification assay” for reliable and early clinical diagnosis of H1N1 human patients.

--The Government proposes to set up a state-of-the-art optical fibre cable network for the defence forces. The estimated cost of the network is Rs. 9970 crores. This includes Rs. 1077 crores for the Air Force Network (AFNET) on which work is underway. The project will be implemented by BSNL. The proposed network will enable the Defence Forces to shift certain wireless links working in the coordinated frequency band to this network.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chindits Column: Women combatants, what's the big deal?

Ever since Air Vice Chief, Air Marshal P K Barbora, has hit the national headlines for all the wrong reasons, inviting the ire of the likes of Girija Vyas and Agatha Sangma, I've been following the developments in the media quite closely on whether to have women combatants at all or to have have them with 'pre-conditions', as the Vice Chief put it, and whether they would be a feasible investment for the Government.

Firstly, to put things in perspective, no woman soldier has come up fighting for all this or opposing Barbora's remarks (only the media and some jobless women like Sangma and Vyas have been up in arms), and even as they do knock the doors of Courts all over the country for redressal, and before 2008 September had been doing so for permanent commission, I have never seen or heard them going to court for combat arms, perhaps they knew this was a rule which was unquestionable, and even if they stood up for it, they would win the case by the time it was pack-up for them from the services.

I have nothing against women combatants or I am sure the Vice Chief too had nothing personal when he made statements like, "Once the lady goes the family way, she will be off flying for 10 months. And when we have invested so much, it is not a fruitful development, adding "We may say (if women are allowed in the fighter stream) that till this age, you can be happily married but do not go for pregnancy till that time. After 14-15 years of service, the value (of the money invested) is recovered...."

Being a military aspirant myself, with having cleared my SSB twice for commission in the Army, and having served in the Indian Military Academy for two years, and seen things at close quarters, working with women officers in IMA, and experiencing things on ground myself, no one would be happier than I if women became combatants in the Indian armed forces. Infact I took it as a personal victory last year when the Government announced permanent commission for women officers in JAG, AEC (army, navy and IAF), in addition to accounts in IAF and naval constructor branch.

But on November 17, 2009, during the curtain raiser to President Pratibha Patil's Sukhoi-30MKI sortie, slated in Pune on Nov 25, the Vice Chief's address took a U-turn towards a different story altogether, and relegated the President's flight to the backwaters while women combatants became the burning issue. I was present for the breifing and was quite surprised initially as to why this hackneyed, done-to-death issue was raised in the first place by a junior juvenile female journalist, who does not have even one full day in die-hard military conditions to her credit, and wondered what made her ask this question when we were there celebrating womanhood, in all its glory by talking about the President's decision at her age to take on something like a fighter sortie. The issue of women combatants has been discussed, argued, mulled upon, so much that its high time we laid it to rest, because if it was a feasible project for the Government then the it wouldn't have been sleeping these 16 years, and would have done something about it, as the first batch of women officers came into existence 16 years ago, in 1993.

Air Marshal Barbora made a mature statement when he said, "We can't induct women fighter pilots for show purposes. We can do that and make them participate in exercises, but we don't want to do that. We spend exorbitant amount on training fighter pilots, and if we are not able to utilise them optimally, it would neither be fruitful for the women officers nor for the organisation."

Let me very briefly take up US women fighters and the impending problems which were envisaged in the Indian scenario after studying them.

- A US woman army chopper pilot flies sorties over Iraq, during the Iraq war, with a Sergeant with her. Her chopper is shot down, with the Sergeant losing his legs and she her arms. The Iraqis take them away as POWs and unzip the woman officer's flight over-all and satiate their animal instincts.

- USS Enterprise, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier belonging to the 6th Fleet of the US, saw an increase in sexual harrassment complaints after inducting women officers onboard.

Both the above might be random cases, and today women officers might have increased in the US armed forces, in strength, but the problems nevertheless persist. Today two US nuclear submarines are being manned totally by women officers, they have F-16 pilots, and I've heard some women officers have also done sorties over Afghanistan also, as part of NATO war games.

We cannot ignore the socio-cultural mindset of India, which doesnt allow us to have women in close contact with the enemy, been taken as POWs, or a woman Commanding Officer or leader of troops, who are largely from rural backgrounds, without a proper education and are used to taking orders from male superiors.

It may not be so much the case (or maybe not at all) in countries like US, Israel, China, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Canada, Kuwait but some of these like Israel, where military is a way of life, also does not allow its women soldiers in direct active combat, at the frontline.

Saudi Arabia has women only as doctors, Germany started inducting them only four years ago.The US has them in the Marine Corps, on warships and as fighter pilots, Iran, UAE and Qatar too has them combatants. Pakistan Air Force inducted four women fighter pilots in 2006, which increased to seven later and as of today they just have one left on the rolls. Well, it doesn't take clairvoyance to deduce why from seven to one and why there are no takers today among women for the Pakistan fighter flying stream.

Not that women in India are incompetent or unfit, they are superb, and infact male officers have told me that they can vouch for atleast one percent being even better then the men, but since its a path untreaded, who would take the first step, who would take the initiative, the risk? The investment being spoken by the Vice Chief, is a very valid, practical, and reasonable point raised, as the Government too had it in mind in 2008 while announcing permanent commission for women, otherwise it would have opened doors of NDA for them as well.

But we all know the amount it takes to train an officer for four years (three in NDA and one year in the service academy), after which they get permanent commission, most of whom are combatants, as the investment is to be recovered. And why not. So the very fact the Government just did away with the idea of having a seperate squadron for lady cadets in NDA, which would have incurred huge costs to train them, and then just have them in JAG and AEC branches, which are not combat arms, but in reality they join these branches as qualified lawyers and educationists, but end up doing only cushy administrative jobs, which is why they have to look for jobs after 14 years when they are out of service (before the permanent commission was announced), as had they been practicing their vocation even in the services that of being a lawyer and an educationist (for which in the first place they were hired), they wouldn't have to 'look for jobs' after coing out.

Its really a sad and sorry state of affairs, I must say. All the women officers who are my friends and batchmates from my SSB days, are cribbing as their retirement draws near , as they cant be considered for permanent commission, since the provision is only for fresh batches after 2008. They have been distanced from thier skill, and now cannot be in the services for more than 14 years, also, and have to 'look for a job' outside.

As for the combatants, I wonder if the women are game for staying out in the open, taking a bath and answering natural calls out in the open as part of the Special Forces, carrying out direct active combat mission sorties on fighter planes, displaying the requisite physical standards and skills, cruising on warships for as many as six months at a stretch, doing the mandatory Glacier tenure of 90 days, without taking a bath and showing exemplary medical fitness at 19,000 feet, giving reports regularly, carrying out long range patrols at the border, carrying their own weapons and ammunition, walking (and not trekking) from one post to another, living in match-box sized bunkers at the border among troops, where there's no separate place to answer natural calls.

The above are just some of the examples, and trust me they are not to scare anyone, but hard harsh realities, which I've seen myself, and also experienced some of the above to some extent myself, which is how I know. Thanks to my services background and my IMA exposure, my elder brother in the army, has given me exposure to some of the above.

Since conventional wars are not on the horizon, therefore special operations, counter-insurgency operations (CI Ops), urban terrorism, homeland security--as an increase in the role of the services is being considered--carrying out a 26/11 as part of the NSG and Marcos, would all be there, which would make their leave applications be rejected even more than before, without a reason, something that they ask for as a matter of right Male officers even complain of them blocking their peace postings, as women officers cannot be sent in field.

If all of these and more can be carried out then nothing could be more heartening than having these bold women onboard, as it would fill the gaps of shortage and also have someone shouldering the burden of the nation. Since India is engulfed by a disturbed neighbourhood, frequent border skirmishes are an order of the day every now and then, I wonder would there be seperate recognition awards and medals for women, both gallantry and distinguished. But as we now swell with pride at the mention of a Colonel Lakhshmi Sehgal, Air Marshal Padmavathi Bandopadhyaya(the first three-star and the seniormost woman officer in India), Kiran Bedi, Sunita Williams, we should also not forget Capt Sushmita Chakravarty, Lieutenant Archana Sharma (the first Indian armed forces woman officer who committed suicide), Capt Neha Rawat, Sqn Ldr Anjali Gupta, all of whom have had problems with the system, some of whom have got justice, while some committed suicide under mysterious circumstances.

Armed forces always accords due respect to women, lady wives in particular, and visualises them as having a particular place in society which is to be revered. After the increase in sexual harrassment complaints by women officers, all Commanding Officers have recieved directives to have the door of their office cabin open when a woman officer walks in to have a word with him, such is the fear that has been generated in these seasoned soldiers. If this is the condition during peacetime, then we can imagine what would be the case during operations and in field. Obviuosly the complaints would go up, only making things worse for those in uniform, as serving in the armed forces is all about camaraderie and if those taking orders from the leader (here a woman), are uncomfortable with her or suspect her of complaining against them for advances, then carrying out missions would not just be difficult but impossible. We still have a long way to go.

Navy Day celebrations kick-start with community service

Friday, November 20, 2009

First in aviation anywhere has to be a Sharma woman, Observers not pilots though !! Welcome !

Sub Lieutenant Seema Rani Sharma being conferred the “Wings” by Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai, for passing out as an Observer, not a combat pilot, equivalent to a Navigator in the IAF. Miles to go for women officers, but a good beginning. Had to be a Sharma girl (after I enter the Limca Book this year), as no one from any other part of the country, could've done something like this. Cheers Seema !!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Welcome to the exclusive club, Your Excellency !!

The call sign for the 20 minute familiarisation mission is 'Rhino 1', to be undertaken by Wing Commander S Sajan, CO of 30 Sqn, 'Rhinos',Lohegaon, on Nov 25, 2009, who has already met the Supreme Commander of the armed forces and the First citizen, Mrs Pratibha Devisingh Patil.

The President has undergone a preliminary medical test, lasting 2 hours, in Rashtrapati Bhawan, and was given a thumbs-up for the sortie. She'll undergo a customary pre-flight medical check-up in Lohegaon on the D-Day, before embarking the mighty fighter, said the IAF Vice Chief, here today. Air Marshal P K Barbora said that the maximum age of active fighter flying was 45 years, but this was not a combat mission, plus the President was fit enough.

It is just a familiarisation mission and not a combat mission, to enable Patil to see up close the expertise and professionalism of the defence forces. Speed was indicated at being .9 mach and height anything between 10,000 to 20,000 feet, but no difficult manouvers, and nothing beyond between 3-4 G.

Calling it non-political, it was the President's own desire, signed off the Vice Chief.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chindits Column: Kargil controversy; the sorry state of higher defence management

Subramanium Committee Presentation was hollow with many self censored omissions and retrospectively perhaps unfairly or may be to shield some. For once I was not reassured by Commodore Jasjit Singh Presentation. The then COAS in his presentation concentrated from the point when the Indian Forces were decisively moving forward. Even the Presentation by the Military Groups who played the Kargil War Games with USA acting as Moderator was not that clear.

I am from the NDA[Navy]. I do not have or should not have any bias for my own service, Navy, or the two other services. I have never understood the air power role the way it is played out by my esteemed brothers from the Air Force though I passed the small courses that one does during the career and also the Staff College. Yes it is also true I never had the experience of an eye ball to eye ball with the other side in the conflict. But two things are crystal clear to me. War is not won unless the Army is in control on the ground. The other is War on Peace that follows the Hot War has to be won by the Army on the Ground which may not come for years or even decades.

I have the following to submit:

A. All the blame lay on the Intelligence failure though may be true was hyped to hide many short comings in the System e.g. Political, Bureaucratic and the Military!

B. Commonsense makes it difficult to accept that the Army Chief was not in the picture though delay in his recall may have some other connotations. But I would like to believe that the delay in response of VCOAS perhaps could be due varied reasons. There was military failure to detect and protect the creep into the our territory. So who should take the can. Seeking Air support perhaps was to gain time.

C. Yes I have heard the very Air Chief you have referred to. There were perhaps two things. One was Air Force had not prepared for this contingency. And obviously it is unlikely the Air Force ever put on record as then they to have to register interim measures. Two. Likely Air Chief was not willing to bail out the Army's slumber. When Air Force had registered and found solutions then only joined the activities.

D. If I remember it was Navy Chief as the Chief of Chiefs Staff Committee. Who ever he was, he played safe. I wonder if CDS would deliver. Has any General so far known to have put in his papers when the minimum he is suppose to have has not been provided.

E. Indian Political and Bureaucratic Hierarchies are never known to invest in National and Military Strategies. The multi-tasked National Security Adviser is to confuse and to diffuse the issues. It should never be one man word in this case that of NSA's. It is an accepted principal of the Indian democracy that absolute power should not be rested on any one individual. The Supreme Court too insists on that practice. National Security Commission should have at least 3 Commissioners under an Act passed by the Parliament like the EC have. Why the CDS cannot have more than one General/Admiral/Air Chief Marshal. It is one point that we are talking about not one man!

G. Why the War Book is in name only. Who keeps it up to date. That may be placed under the CDS/ National Security Commission.

H. Why the War Strategy is not revised every year 5 year along with the 5 Year Plan and duly accepted by the Parliament of the Parliament Defence Committee. That should include visit to the business of Intelligence in all its forms and colours.

The contributor is a serving naval officer, and does not wish to be identified, hence photograph, name etc have been avoided.

Chindits Column: Armed Forces Tribunal - Too late and too less !!

With the establishment of Armed Forces Tribunal, long felt demand of ‘justice to soldiers’ has been finally met after 27 Years of the judgement, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had pronounced in 1982 in the case of Lt Col PPS Bedi. It is a welcome step in the right direction and deserves appreciation, though taken too late.

I hope that now soldiers will not have to wait for years for justice and disposal rate of cases will be faster and not more that four months of filing of the petition. In all the cases Govt. of India will be Respondent and success of the Tribunal will depend upon the support it gets from them. To make the Tribunal a purposeful chariot of justice, Govt and Armed Forces should concede the cases where injustice has been done; rather than defending as a matter of prestige. Remember that Tribunal is born with arrears in thousands as maximum cases will be transferred by the High Courts for disposal. I pray that days of mechanical arbitrary approach by the authorities are over.

Unfortunately, dual jurisdiction of the High Courts, lower courts and Tribunal will continue due to poor drafting of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007. Inbuilt contradictions defeat the very purpose for which it is established.

More than 80 percent of the disciplinary cases in the Army are disposed of summarily or tried by Summary Court Martial and all of them may continue to be denied justice as the Tribunal may not have the jurisdiction to entertain such case, unless awarded punishment of ‘Dismissal or Imprisonment for more than three months’. Alternative remedy has to be exhausted and one has to wait for six months before approaching Tribunal for justice. Similarly, cases of dismissal of Officers by the President of India under Section 18 like infamous Sambha Spy Case , postings and transfers will continue to be filled in High Courts. Tribunal will also not be competent to pass interim orders unless copy is served on the Respondents.

Another interesting feature of the Act is that in matrimonial discord cases where maintenance allowance has been ordered to be paid, soldiers can approach the Tribunal challenging the award whereas wife and children cannot. They will have to file civil suits in lower courts and defend themselves in the tribunal which is a backward step. Such cases are on the increase due to socio-economic development, rising level of awakening and falling standard of mutual respect and trust.

It is high time the Armed Forces Tribunal Act is sincerely reviewed and discrepancies/anomalies removed so that the objective is achieved. The exceptions to Section 3 (o) should be deleted as the same negate the purpose of establishing the Tribunal. Soldiers also deserve justice free from shackles.

Advocate Colonel S K Aggarwal is a senior retired JAG officer of the Indian Army. He is based in Panchkula and takes up cases of services personnel, and is known for fighting the Capt Poonam Kaur case.

New GOC of 1 Corps- Mathura

Lieutenant General AK Singh becomes the GOC of the Mathura-based 1 Strike Corps, as Lt Gen Shankar Ghosh, the present GOC of the Corps, moves as the GOC-in-C of the Chandi-mandir-based Western Command.

The appointments come into effect from December 1, 2009.

Commissioned into the 7th Light Cavalry in June 1973, General Singh is a graduate of the Staff College at Camberley, Higher Command Course and the prestigious National Defence College. He has also attended a number of other prestigious courses abroad.

A foremost expert on manoeuvre warfare and operational planning, he converted the first T-90 Brigade of the Indian Army during - ’Op Parakram’; and has commanded a prestigious Armoured Division. The General has a varied exposure in Staff at high altiude, Military Opertions, the Foreign Division and Perspective Planning. He is Col of the Scinde Horse, 74 and 51 Armd Regts.

Lt Gen Ghosh is a Guards officer. Mathura-based 1 Corps is part of South-western Command, Ambala-based 2 Corps is under Western Command, while Bhopal-based 21 Corps is under Southern Command.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Photos: First Bofors battery of the Indian Army.

India to acquire special electronic mission business jets for strategic surveillance !!

India would acquire two business jets to function as Special Electronic Mission Aircraft, a deal worth 250 million dollars, with advanced sensors on board by next year for its strategic surveillance missions.

Right now in service are five aircraft, an assortment of G-3 from Gulfstream, and Boeing 707s. In the fray are Israeli IAI (Israeli Aircraft Industries), Elbit and the US giant Raytheon, who will provide the state of the art surveillance systems on board. The competing aircraft manufacturers are Falcon, Bombardier and Gulfstream, who will team up with the system providers. All three aircraft manufacturers and system providers would see and tie up to make one team in order to meet India's requirements of the special missions to be carried out, as per the bid.

Falling under the Director General (Security), the aircraft have civilian pilots as well as those from the Indian Air Force (IAF), who come on deputation, with the special aircraft being headed by an IAF Air Vice Marshal, called the Operations Manager, who reports to the DG (Security), who in turn is under the Cabinet Secretariat, with the entire apparatus coming under the National Security Advisor (NSA). Carrying out approximately two missions a month, these aircraft are for India's immediate neighbourhood for collection of data, pictures and other information. Missions like 'strip mode' and 'spot mode' are also part of these far-reaching aircraft.

The American Gulfstream Aerospace, which is bidding for G-V, which is one of the first "ultra-long range" business aircraft, capable to fly upto 6,500 nautical miles. Already in use in the US Air Force, the G-V is designated as C-37A and carries out government and defence related missions. The French Dassault Falcon 9X is a trijet engined aircraft and is considered safest in its class. A versatile aircraft, the 9X can land in small airports at high altitudes and can fly 4800 nautical miles non-stop.

The Canadian Bombadier Aerospace is the third largest aircraft company in the world and makes business as well as commercial jets, of which the most popular models are Dash 8, CRJ100/200/440, and CRJ700/900/1000 lines of regional carriers. The Bombardier 415 amphibious water-bomber and the Challenger business jet are also manufactured by Bombadier, while the Learjet continues to operate as a subsidiary of Bombardier and manufactures jets under the Learjet name.

These aircraft do not come under the charter of the DGCA, nor are they under the operational control of the IAF.

These special aircraft are configured with a flight management system comprising a worldwide satellite-based Global Positioning System. They can cruise at a particular altitude, and consist of a of an advanced weather radar, autopilot and head-up display for the pilot. Safety features include enhanced night vision/vision systems which increase visibility all kinds of environments. State of the art communication systems, data link, ensure a safe voice and data quality. The crew mainly comprises two pilots, one flight engineer, one communications systems operator, and one flight attendant.

New Delhi has also asked the systems providers to configure the electro optical payload for an increased surveillance range. These sensors would cover a larger area in the neighbourhood. A source told People's Post, "With a disturbed neighbourhood, it is important to have aviation assets seperate from the IAF, by the Cabinet which from time to time carry out missions of data collection. Sometimes they do get intercepted and the matter is taken up by the Governments of the two countries."

Copyright : People's Post

Army last responder in internal security crisis, despite increased role in homeland security !

Clearing the air on an increased role of the army in homeland security, Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, recently said that the army would be the last responder in the face of an internal security crisis, only if other agencies like the police failed and if the army was called.

Talking exclusively to People's Post the General said, "The army could not be called in the first instance for any internal security violation taking place in the country."

While pointers towards an increased role of the army in internal security of the country were quite clear, in the seminar on Network Centricity and National Security held in Delhi recently, with Indian participants as well as those from abroad, hinting that in the near future defence services would have to assist the nation in internal security as well, in a big way. As the Chief put it that, "The US has had no more attacks after 9/11, Indonesia has had no attacks after Bali bombings, but India faced 26/11 after Parliament and Delhi attacks. India cannot afford to witness another 26/11."

Minister of State for Defence, M M Pallam Raju, told People's Post that, "The armed forces are already active in Kashmir and the northeast, while they are not and would not be directly involved in the rest of the country, but logistic support from the armed forces is not ruled out as part of thier coordination efforts, but there would be no offensive action."

Considering the fact that the Indian Air Force (IAF) has not formally been given permission to fire in self defence in anti-naxal operations, by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the role of the armed forces in internal security matters is stretching far beyond, is what is termed as fourth generation or asymmetric warfare.

Already engaged in counter insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast, the Indian Army, which has its one fifth strength fighting militancy, is already providing training to the para military forces in naxal-hit areas to combat the naxalites.

The biggest example of the armed forces being engaged in internal security in recent times was 26/11, Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, where the Navy and the army assisted the National Security Guards in rescue of civilians.

Besides training for a conventional war, the armed forces have been engaged in maintaining law and order in the country. Controlling riots as in Mumbai during the 1990s, mobs from going on a rampage by stopping trains, and destroying Government property. Rescue operations in flood, tsunami and drought hit areas are other duties in the mandate of the army.

It may be noted that former Army Chief, J J Singh, had during his tenure as Chief, said that the armed forces should not be engaged in anti-naxalite operations, but the IAF has been active in five naxal-hit states, and has also lost some of its personnel, in operations. Recently an MoD directive had clarified that armed Garud commandoes of the IAF could fire back in self defence in anti-naxal operations, though nothing has come out in black and white, and the IAF proposal is still pending with the Ministry. The proposal seeks permission to fire back, not in an offensive but for self defence.

Minister of State, Pallam Raju, said that, "Since a lot of internal problems have external linkages, therefore the distinction between internal and external security has been blurred."

Since the private defence players, both Indian and foreign, have been approached for better weapons, communications systems and other equipment for the armed forces, an increased role of the services stretching to homeland security cannot be ruled out. The services are already looking at better night vision devices, communication sets-both audio and video, and setting up infrastructure for defence equipment to counter their adversaries, both in an internal and an external environment. Special clothing is also being looked at.

With blurring lines between external and internal security, it is quite clear that the armed forces would have an extended role of guarding the country, at its borders as well as inside, in the near future, as conventional war, according to analysts, doesnt seem to be a possibility.

Cavalry Week !

India TV follows suit, gets ready for the big flight !!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

CNN-IBN interviews Chindits for tips for Prez's flight !

CNN-IBN took my tips for President Pratibha Patil's Sukhoi-30MKI flight, which she intends to embark on later this month.

It'll be telecast most probably tomorrow. Shall post the timing here. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Army's first mountain division for China in northeast kicks off !!

While the Indian Air Force (IAF) is going ahead with the expansion, development and re-activation of its airstrips and advanced landing grounds (ALGs) in the northeast, amongst its first preparations to counter its powerful neighbour, the Indian Army too has put in place the functioning of its first new Mountain Division in the northeast, overlooking China. The Zakhama-based 56 Mountain Division, in Nagaland, started functioning last month, as did the Dibang-based 46 Brigade and the Lekhapani-based 22 Brigade under it. One more Division will come up shortly.

An Officer told People's Post, "More Brigades will be subsequently raised under the Div, and soon new cadres will be required. Around 18 new battalions are needed under the two new Divs, which would come up in the future, while as of now units from within, all over the Indian Army, are moving in to ensure the functioning of the Divisions, as infantry units keep moving throughout the country in peace and field."

Close to the Sino-Indian border, the 22 Brigade in Lekhapani (at the Assam-Arunachal border) is part of 56 Div and comes under the command and control of the Dimapur-based 3 Corps, but there is talk about the 22 Brigade moving under the 2 Division in Dinjan, in Nagaland, in future.

One more additional mountain division, the 71 div, will also begin functioning shortly and will come under the command and control of the Tezpur-based 4 Corps.

The first General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 56 Div is Major General R N Singh, while the 22 Brigade is being commanded by Brigadier R K Singh. A source told People's Post that basically these divisions will have infantry elements, but some armoured assets too will form part of them at a later stage.

While the 66 armoured regiment at the Indo-Bangladesh border was moved some years ago, for the protection of the Siliguri corridor, which took care of the armoured needs of the east and the northeast, it is believed that elements of the same regiment would be in use as of now for the northeast, till light tanks are bought for high altitude. The Indian Army has plans to buy around 300 light tanks, about 22 tonnes, for high altitude, mainly for the China-centric Karu-based 3rd Div, and also has massive plans to increase its armoured presence in the North Sikkim plateau. After there have been reports of increased Chinese PLA patrolling and of incursions at the Finger Area, the decision to replace the lighter armoured vehicles with T-72 tanks was taken earlier this year. Soon BMPs and light tanks too would be mobilised in the area, which is at an altitude of 10,000-11,000 feet.

The Indian army's 3rd Division in Karu overlooks China, and has just one mechanised infantry unit, with around 52 BMP-2 ICVs (infantry combat vehicles).

Also one of the brigades in the Allahabad-based 4 Div will be converted soon into an armoured brigade, while the other two brigades in the division would remain infantry brigades. The 4 Div is for the western sector and mainly overlooks Pakistan. An officer said that the move was being taken for rapidisation, as the 4 Div was part of 2 Corps, which is a 'Strike' Corps. The brigade will have two armoured and two mechanised units.

While the location of the 71 Div, to come up in the northeast, is being decided, the 56 Div and its two Brigades will undergo a proper formation as per the orbat (order of battle) once the cadres come in and the exact locations are decided. An officer explained, "Re-orbatting will take place depending on the roles of the brigades, which can change their locations in future and the mobility of the battalions will be based on their area of responsibilty, role, assets available and the feasibility of these new formations, given the present conditions." Troops and officers to be recruited in large numbers is under consideration, for which adequate measures are being taken.

The Army's AG branch is working towards raising troops while the second officer training academy of the army (OTA) is coming up in Gaya, Bihar.

Lekhapani, chiefly inhabited by Tangsa Naga tribes, is a small town located at the Assam-Arunachal border, at the foothills of Patkai Hills, near Tinsukia. Dibang, bordering with north China, has mainly the Adi and Idu tribes.

Copyright: People's Post