The government ofIndiain a bid to assist the Afghan national security forces on Friday granted 55 passenger buses for 207 Zafar Afghan National Army commandment.
According to local authorities in westernHeratprovince, the government ofIndiain a bid to assist the Afghan national security forces on Friday granted 55 passenger buses for 207 Zafar Afghan National Army commandment in this province.
A spokesman for the for 207 Zafar Afghan National Army commandment Najeebullah Najeebi said the government of India granted 55 TATA passenger buses and each of the vehicle has the capability of transporting 26 officers.
He also said the buses will be used to transport Afghan army officers and will help to resolve the transportation issues of the Afghan soldiers in this province.
Indiais the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid toAfghanistan. Indians are working in various construction projects, as part ofIndia’s rebuilding efforts inAfghanistan.
The chief diplomats ofIndiaandAfghanistanlast week inaugurated a new council aimed at deepening their strategic ties.Indiaplays a key role in supportingAfghanistan’s development and reconstruction, and is also hoping to help support the country’s long-term stability.
Afghanistanduring the India-Afghanistan Partnership Council also soughtIndia’s assistance in equipping its security forces, indicating increased security cooperation between the two countries in the run-up to the withdrawal of international forces from the violence-torn country.
REALISATION OF A TWO AIRCRAFT CARRIER DREAM
It was a dream thatIndiasaw just two years after the debacle along the Indo-China border in 1962 – to have a two aircraft carrier navy. And it will be in 2012 thatIndiawill be able to realize this long cherished dream as Admiral Gorshkov rechristened as INS Vikramaditya joins its fleet by year end.
The aircraft carrier is floating Indian city with tricolour atop declaring to everyone that it is a sovereignIndiawhere only Indian law of land applies. AsIndiarises in its stature, these aircraft carriers will help in projecting power beyond its border.
The importance of strong military was brought home to the political class afterIndia’s loss at the hands of Chinese military in 1962. An Emergency Cabinet Committee in 1964 gave approval for operating two floating deck carriers that will help Indian Navy to operate its strike aircraft well beyond its coastline.
Sources say that 44,000 ton Admiral Gorshkov with a full-fledged runway and a battery of MiG-29 K aircraft and helicopters will be inducted on December 4, making Indian Navy a two aircraft carrier navy – one each for Western and Eastern seaboard. Many of the sailors experienced in operating aircraft carrier will get transferred to Vikramaditya.
The achievement will add another punch to the Indian Navy’s maritime capabilities as it is only the fifth country after theUS,UK,RussiaandFranceto operate an aircraft carrier. The skill has been honed over a period of over 25 years.
With INS Viraat undergoing a massive refurbishment in 2009 at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL), it is going to be in service till 2018. And the indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) named INS Vikrant – named after Indian Navy’s former floating runway – will be joining its fleet when INS Vikrant will be on way out around 2018.
“INS Vikrant was floated out recently from CSL and was again brought into dry dock after some testing,” said an official.
The capability to operate an aircraft carrier at long distances for long durations has been a reflection of a country’s might and when navies likeGermanyandAustralialost their aircraft carrier operating capability they were reduced to merely coastal police role.
Also this is one capability of Indian Navy that even makesChina’s PLA Navy turn green with envy as it has also been striving to attain long maritime legs by acquiring a floating deck carrier. And even if is able to acquire an aircraft carrier today it will take them nearly a decade to excel in operationalising their strategy around aircraft carrier. “Any navy worth its salt will like to operate an aircraft carrier and one aspiring to operate one will be envious of the force already having it. But it is a skill acquired over a period of time we have taken over 25 years,” said INS Viraat skipper Captain AB Singh.
HAL DISINVESTMENT UNDER CONSIDERATION: GOVERNMENT
NEW DELHI: The government on Monday informed parliament that it is considering a proposal to offload 10 percent equity in the strategically important Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the country’s only producer of military planes.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony said a final decision on the defence public sector’s disinvestment plan will be taken after receiving the recommendations of an expert group constituted by the government for suggesting measures for strengthening and restructuring the HAL.
If the government goes through the off-loading of equity in HAL, it will become the third defence public sector undertaking after Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and BEML to be headed for disinvestment.
Antony also told Lok Sabha in a written reply to members’ queries that the net profit of HAL after tax for 2009-10 was Rs.1,969.41 crore, 2010-11 was Rs.2,114.26 crore, and 2011-12 was Rs.2,370 crore (provisional).
In September last year, Antony had given “in principle approval” to the plan to sell 10 percent stake in HAL over a five year period to mop up resources for the public sector undertaking’s modernisation.
The disinvestment is expected to reduce the government burden for the 10-year Rs.20,000 crore modernisation plans for the Bangalore-headquartered HAL, which is slated to take up new programmes with foreign collaboration in the future worth several crores.
TATRA TRUCK DEAL: DGCA STOPS OPERATIONS OF GLOBAL VECTRA HELICORP
NEW DELHI:India’s aviation regulator has grounded operations of helicopter firm Global Vectra Helicorp, whose London-based promoter Ravi Rishi is being probed by CBI for Tatra’s truck deal with the Army.
“The security clearance given by the Ministry of Home Affairs with respect to Global Vectra Helicorp Ltd and Ravi Rishi has been suspended. It is a prerequisite for holding an operating permit,” Director-General of Civil Aviation EK Bharat Bushan said on Monday.
The suspension of the security clearance spells a further blow to Rishi, chairman of the $800 million UK-based Vectra group that supplies Tatra trucks to the Army. Rishi has been repeatedly questioned by CBI since Army chief VK Singh alleged that he was offered 14 crore bribe to clear ‘substandard’ Tatra trucks. The alleged deal involved sanction to purchase 600 Tatra high-mobility vehicles for the Army through state-run Bharat Earth Movers in 2010.
Global Vectra Helicorp, which has a fleet of 23 choppers, flies onshore and offshore operations for oil companies besides catering to tourists at major shrines such as Vaishno Devi, during the annual Amarnath yatra and the Northeast.
According to an official who did not wish to be named, the home ministry had on April 30 asked the civil aviation ministry to direct DGCA to immediately withdraw the licences given to GVHL helicopters. The order came days after the home ministry’s advice and the non-scheduled operator permit ( NSOP) of the company has been suspended.
Oil companies that operate platforms on the high seas depend on the services of Global Vectra Helicorp, besides state-run Pawan Hans Helicopters, to shuttle engineers and other staff to the oil rigs and back.
INDIA SUPERPOWER IN THE MAKING, SAYS RUSSIAN ENVOY
NAINITAL: Russian Ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin has stated that the defence and energy cooperation between the two countries is set to expand in the days to come. Talking to The Tribune during a visit to thelakeCityon Monday, Kadakin said: “Indiacan no longer be termed as our younger brother. It is an equal partner and a super power in the making. We are sharing the best technology and are moving ahead.”
He pointed that the two countries were collaborating in the development of a fifth generation fighter plane. “Even Americans are working on the development of the fifth generation planes butIndiaandRussiaare moving ahead jointly,” he pointed.
He also underlined the growing cooperation between the two countries and pointed thatRussiahad come forward in helpingIndiarealise it’s potential in the field of nuclear energy. “The energy requirement inIndiais growing in consistent proportion. A lot of energy is required in the country and nuclear energy is the answer to its needs.FranceandAmericahave been talking of providing nuclear fuel toIndiabut it isRussiathat is providing it,” said Kadakin.
He also had words to say on the role of BRICS in the days to come. “It is a group of progressive economies and we are not against anyone. In the emerging world order our role will definitely increase. We are moving towards what is better for us,” he said while replying to a query.
He pointed that ever since the two nations had signed the special strategic partnership accord more than a decade back, the friendship between the two countries has become more special. The Ambassador pointed that the two countries are looking forward to coming together in several spheres and further building up on the close relations that they have traditionally had.
The Russian Ambassador was on a short visit to Nainital. He went around theNainiLake, admiring the natural beauty bestowed upon the town by nature. He underlined:” I love everything about the town, it’sMall Road, the lake and the weather.”
ARMY FINDS 74 OFFICERS BLAMEWORTHY IN SALE OF MILITARY WEAPONS
NEW DELHI: Indian Army has found 74 officers “blameworthy” in a case relating to sale of military weapons and administrative action has been taken against 33 of them, Defence Ministry told the Lok Sabha.
In a written reply to the House, Defence Minister A K Antony said, “A case relating to sale of Non Standard Pattern (NSP) Weapons by Army officers and a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) has come to light. The matter has been investigated through a Court of Inquiry by the Army.”
“The inquiry has found 74 officers and a JCO blameworthy. Administrative/disciplinary action has been taken against 33 officers by the Army,” he said.
On steps taken to stop recurrence of such incidents,Antonysaid, “Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on disposal of NSP weapons has been revised to avoid recurrence of such incidents.”
Replying to a question on recent dispute overAnnandaleground in Himachal Pradesh, the Defence Minister said the state government has been requested to maintain status quo till an alternative land is identified.
Indian Army has been using theAnnandaleground to conduct training exercises. The land was taken on lease from the state government in 1955 for 10 years which was subsequently extended upto 1982.
“In view of the strategic and security point of view, the state government has been suggested to maintain the status quo till a suitable land is identified by the government of Himachal Pradesh,” he said.
Though the lease was not formally extended from 1982, lease rentals have been paid to the state government upto 2006,Antonytold the House.
DECISION ON AFSPA REVOCATION COMING SOON, SAYS OMAR
SRINAGAR: Six months after he threw open a debate on revocation of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from parts ofJammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said he was hopeful of a significant development in the matter in the months ahead.
Omar said though the “final mile” had not been crossed, his government was on the “correct path”. “Unfortunately, so far we have not been able to cross the final mile towards the selective revocation of AFSPA, but we are on the correct path… In the months ahead, there has to be some development on the revocation of AFSPA from some areas of the state,” Omar said.
Addressing mediapersons after reopening of the Civil Secretariat in the state’s summer capital as part of the darbar move, the Chief Minister said he had taken up the matter with the Central Government.
On the occasion of Police Commemoration Day on October 21 last year, the Chief Minister had announced that AFSPA would be revoked from “some areas (of the State) very soon”.
The “silent option” trend adopted by my government on the issue did not yield results, Omar said, but added that it was necessary to have a public debate to get the desired results.
The Chief Minister said “significant progress” had already been made on revocation of the Act from some areas of the state where militancy had either gone down or come to an end. These areas included four districts, Srinagar-Budgam and Jammu-Samba inKashmirand Jammu Divisions, respectively. The Army has contended that it was fighting a proxy war in Kashmir and the issue continued to be on the agenda ofPakistan, its Army, and the ISI. With the militant leadership still based inPakistanand at least 42 training camps training youth to create trouble this side of the LoC, the Army has been strongly opposed to selective revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. “We cannot take any chance or risk on security,” said a senior officer, adding that the Act’s revocation was an easy step to be taken, but its re-imposition would be difficult in any eventuality.
PUMP MORE MONEY INTO DEFENCE SECTOR: BJP
NEW DELHI: Making a pitch for a substantial hike in the budgetary allocations for defence, the opposition BJP today urged the Government to increase the outlay for defence and make it at least 3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The defence budget for this year (2012-13) is Rs 1,93,407 crore – 1.90 per cent of the GDP.
Initiating a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the functioning of the defence ministry, BJP leader Balbir Punj urged Defence Minister AK Antony to fight arms seller lobbies and makeIndiaself-sufficient in the field of arms and equipment. At present, nearly 70 per cent of its defence equipment needs are met by imports.
Punj raised the issue of increasing the GDP share of the defence budget. He pointed out thatIndiawith its vast challenges spends less than 2 per cent of the budget while theUSAspends 4 per cent of its GDP on defence,Russia3.5 per cent,Pakistan3 per cent, France andUK2.3 per cent andChina2.1 per cent.
The BJP leader asked the Defence Minister to use his proximity to UPA President Sonia Gandhi to push for a higher allocation for defence.
Punj also raked up the sensitive issue of the one rank-one pension scheme for the armed forces. “The entire House will back you”, he toldAntonywhile adding, “Officers and jawans of the forces should not be left at the mercy of bureaucracy.”
Cautioning Antony on India’s dependence on imports for defence equipment, Punj said, “There are arms import lobbies which are very strong and they will never allow domestic production… the patrons of these lobbies are very highly placed,” Punj alleged.
Punj questioned the government on the Tatra trucks deals and asked why no action was taken until the matter became public. Surprisingly, Punj praised AK Antony saying, “You are honest man” but attacked him soon, saying “no work, no mistake and clean image is a dangerous policy”.
Earlier in the day, while replying to questions in the Lok Sabha,Antonysaid there would be complete transparency in the on-going procurement process for 197 helicopters for defence forces. An earlier deal to buy Eurocopter choppers from a European firm was scrapped.Antonyinformed that the Eurocopter deal was cancelled after some anomalies were discovered.
Subsequently, a new Request for Proposals (RFP) for 197 helicopters was issued. “When the process was in final stages, again we got a series of complaints from MPs…. We decided to appoint a Special Technical Oversight Committee,”Antonysaid.
Procurement process for these choppers is on. “After going through everything, if anything goes wrong we will again cancel it,”Antonysaid.
ARMY CREATES BRANCH TO EVALUATE FIELD EXERCISES
SHIMLA: In a marked shift in its approach to evaluating field exercises and validating doctrinal concepts, the Army is creating a new branch to field independent observers and umpires, who would come within the purview of the commander holding the exercise. This is expected to bring in greater objectivity and transparency in the conduct and assessment of field manoeuvres.
The Army Training Command (ARTRAC) here, which oversees all training and doctrinal aspects, will now have a direct role in the evaluation of major exercises, a task till now relegated to regional commanders.
“The ARTRAC is in the process of creating a new branch headed by a Major General, called Formation Training, for the purpose,” Lt Gen K Surendra Nath, GOC-in-C, ARTRAC, told The Tribune. “This branch will have an active role in the formulation of exercises at the level of division and above, evaluating training and validating new concepts with the aim to identify weak points and improve the system,” he added.
As of now, the formation commander was responsible for planning and execution of an exercise as well as evaluating the outcome, with one of his own junior commander making up the opposing force. Donning two hats – that of the trainer and that of the evaluator, according to some senior officers, ran the risk of subjectivity and manipulation. Even the umpires nominated for the exercise were from within the same Command. Presently for its doctrinal approach and formulating training policies, the ARTRAC is largely dependent upon the feedback on exercises received from formation commanders.
About a decade ago, the ARTRAC had created a separate branch, RedFor that carries out a holistic assessment of the adversary’s war waging capability and associated issues as analysing and collating open source and classified information. Officers posted to RedFor also had the mandate of “thinking like the enemy” and acting as the adversary during closed-door war games, brain-storming sessions and simulation.
While the ARTRAC provides officers acting as the adversary during indoor war games, it is unable to provide the “Red” or opposing forces during field exercises as being an officer-centric think-tank, it has no operational troops under its command.
With the Formation Training branch coming up, the ARTRAC will have four Major Generals on its posted strength, with the other three heading the RedFor, Doctrine and Training branches.
The Army is also considering the creation of a new post of Inspector General (Training) for an independent assessment of training activities at various levels.
NO TATRA TRUCKS ORDERED AFTER 2008: ANTONY
NEW DELHI: Defence Minister AK Antony today said Tatra trucks were purchased to meet the special needs of the Army but no vehicle had been ordered from the company after 2008. The minister made it clear that all purchases of the specialised truck in the past have been made on the parameters laid down by the Army. Army Chief Gen VK Singh had termed the trucks as “sub-standard” in his allegations.
Antonytold the Lok Sabha during Question Hour: “The Indian government bought 6,500 vehicles from Tatra since 1986. The last supplies arrived in 2011 and no fresh orders have been placed since 2008. Owing to special circumstances nearly, 1,950 vehicles were bought from Tatra between 1999-2002. This was due to operational needs, because of Operation Parakram, the Defence Minister said.
He said the government had decided in 1997 to sign a contract with Tatra. In 2003, another contract was signed with it. On September 26, 2008, the Defence Acquisition Committee met and that was attended by all three chiefs, it was decided to change the General Staff Quality Requirements (GSQRs). We have not procured a single truck from Tatra since the new GSQR was okayed, he said.
OPPOSITION ATTACKS ANTONY OVER DEFENCE ISSUES
NEW DELHI: Defence Minister A K Antony on Monday drew flak from Opposition members who blamed him for paying more attention in maintaining his clean image rather than focusing onIndia’s military preparedness, hampered by slow pace in modernisation for years.
Initiating a debate on defence issues, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Balbir Punj saidAntony’s scheme of “no work, no mistake and clean image” was a dangerous policy as it hurts nation’s military.
Members cutting across party lines felt thatAntonyhad created an impression that he did not take decisions and hesitant to act against corrupt officials. “Why everybody is suggesting that you take decision, we are with you. Does it mean that you are not taking any action,” wondered T Devendra Gaud of the Telugu Desam Party.
The discussions in the Rajya Sabha was taking place in the wake of Army Chief Gen V K Singh’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in which the General had flagged certain crucial gap areas in Army’s arms and ammunition inventory.