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    Vajra Corps concludes summer drill

    JALANDHAR: In an effort to hone its conventional operational preparedness on the western front, Vajra Corps conducted a series of tactical war exercises with troops under annual summer month’s field exercise programme.

    HT PHOTOArmy personnel holding a war drill in the western sector.The areas where the regiment conducted drills included Nakodar-Nurmahal and the vicinity of Ludhiana.

    The officials said that they also conducted the exercise at Khem Karan, historically known as ‘Patton Graveyard’ and Jalalabad, both in the general area of Ferozepur by ‘Double Victory Brigade’ and ‘Golden Arrow Division.’

    Vajra Corps officers informed that the drills were conducted as per the schedule despite the intense heat inside the tank or infantry combat vehicle, and the troops displayed remarkable skills while undertaking works under the training.

    Officers further informed that the exercises involving large scale tank, infantry and aviation manoeuvres were supervised by Lt Gen JS Cheema, general officer commanding Vajra Corps.

    Meanwhile, the exercise was witnessed on the concluding day by Lt Gen KJ Singh, general officer commanding-in-chief, Western Command.

    Speaking on the occasion, the army commander compliment the troops for displaying professionalism and also appreciated the formation for its innovative training methodology in actual terrain and weather condition that has enhance its operational and logistics preparedness for conventional operations, adding to the might of the Western Command


    Terror Creeping Back In Anantnag: How Can It Be Countered?:::Syed Ata Hasnain

    SNAPSHOT

    The security forces of India had cleared Anantnag and its environs off jihadi terrorists a few years ago. However, events of the last few days appear to indicate that grounds for the return of jihadi terror to Anantnag are being prepared. How should India’s security forces fight this threat? Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (retd) weighs in.

    While the coalition government of the PDP and BJP is ensuring that political time bombs are handled without unnecessary passion and has generally shown a propensity towards working on issues concerning governance, the separatists way of response is also through spiraling acts of violence in which the Police forces find themselves the latest victims. Two policemen were killed on 4 June in Anantnag and three BSF men at Bijbehara on 3 June, preceded by three policemen in Srinagar in hit and run strikes. That makes a total of nine in three days; if that is not worrisome then nothing else can be.

    Two things should worry those handling the overall security of South Kashmir. First, in a fortnight’s time Anantnag assembly constituency goes to the polls to elect Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti or her opposer. Second, the Amarnath Yatra commences on 2 July 2016 and that is an iconic annual event which has threat perceptions of every kind.

    Why is Anantnag so important and what place does it occupy in Kashmir’s security matrix?

    Lying just off the National Highway from Jawahar Tunnel to Srinagar, across the Jhelum, this is the second largest town of Kashmir. It is the headquarters of Anantnag district and the veritable core centre of activities in South Kashmir. It sometimes shares ignominy with Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama which all lie in its vicinity but have their own levels of notoriety. Anantnag’s importance generically stems from the fact it has been the center of intellectual activity, education and tourism. During the commencement of the sponsored proxy war, it was one of the first urban centres which came into the lap of violence. The famous Martand temple is located nearby on the route to Pahalgam which too is one of the major tourist attractions of Kashmir. The mountains in the east are a part of the Kishtwar range and there are famous trekking trails all over. Some of them lead over the Kishtwar to the Warwan Valley, a distant, isolated and very sparsely populated part of Kashmir.

    In 1995, the infamous Al Firan group, which kidnapped five tourists and beheaded one of them, had apprehended them from the upper reaches of the Aru Valley and then taken them to Warwan. Within the district also lies the restive Lidder Valley which is like a transit point for terrorists moving into Tral valley of Pulwama district or the southern tracts of Anantnag towards Kokarnag, Daksum and Verinag. The entire Kishtwar belt is thickly forested and offers excellent hideouts for terrorists.

    The Amarnath Yatra’s logistics base is Anantnag town although Pahalgam could be considered as Base 2. The Yatra goes on for about six to seven weeks and in that duration there is presence of a larger compliment of security forces (SF). In addition, the bhandaras which feed the massive influx of pilgrims also have their supply chain going back to Anantnag town. All pilgrims adopting the long, 48 km route to the holy cave move through the town which means the traffic to Pahalgam expands exponentially in July-August.

    Anantnag and surrounding areas
    Anantnag and surrounding areas

    Two more things need to be known. First, the Army’s 21 Field Ammunition Depot (FAD) is located 18 km to the south-east across the township of Achabal at a place called Khundru. Through the 1999 Kargil operations, the Army’s entire ammunition for Kargil sector moved from Khundru in ammunition convoys. The road ran over 110 Hume pipe crossings, any of which could have been used to emplace Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to blow up an ammunition laden vehicle. It was a herculean effort on the part of the Army’s Rashtriya Rifles HQ 1 Sector RR which patrolled and dominated the area extensively to prevent the terrorists from disrupting the ammunition supplies to Kargil. Second, this is the area where the Lashkar e Toiba (LeT) announced its arrival in South Kashmir with the dastardly killing of 36 Sikhs at Chittisinghpura on 19 Mar 2000. That was then the signature LeT way of announcing its arrival and upstaging other terror groups from the primacy of terror operations.

    From a terrain angle Anantnag offers the ideal ground for breeding of terrorists and their sustenance. The town has multiple inlets and exits, is crowded with narrow lanes and there are a number of religious institutions within. Traffic is dense and of different types, which is difficult to check. Policemen on duty will always be vulnerable to hit and run tactics and unlike Srinagar, these need not be motorcycle-borne. In fact, it is easier to exploit the maze of crowded lanes on foot and there is no need to carry AK-47s and be noticeable. Such operations can always be conducted by being armed with pistols.

    However, on the National Highway and the road to Pahalgam, operations by terrorists can be of different kinds. Isolated CRPF men on road protection duties are the most vulnerable and the predictable movement of the Army or CAPF convoys makes them ideal targets. For this, terrorists need to be armed with automatic weapons and grenades which are used at random in burst mode for just a minute or so to impose casualties before they escape into buildings or fields behind the immediate built up areas along the highway. This is how it always begins.

    What are the counter measures to this which can be effective?

    Sustained operations by the SF in the entire spectrum, is the only answer. Number 1 Sector RR which is responsible for most of Anantnag district and the security of the Amarnath Yatra is one of the prize commands for officers of the Indian Army. This Sector (brigade size) has every challenge that the spectrum of counter insurgency and counter terrorist (CI/CT) operations can offer.

    Equally, the appointment of SSP Anantnag district is a prize one for the JK Police. The CRPF too has its job cut out for it and has always had some fine professionals leading it. It is appropriate to state that Anantnag was probably the district with almost the highest density of terrorist presence in the heyday of militancy. It also produced the longest lasting terrorist leaders such as Shabir Baduri who was the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) leader for close to 8-9 years. Through painstaking operations and some great cooperation between the various SF, Anantnag including the Lidder Valley, Bring Valley and Kokarnag were cleaned out and a few years ago hardly any terrorist presence existed.

    Some redeployment from the area was effected to cater for areas on the counter infiltration grid. It now appears that terrorist presence has rekindled and the new militancy has taken its grip. There is no shortcut to continued domination by the SF if the area has to be kept safe and no quarter is given to the new outfits. The National Highway, 21 FAD Khundru, the Amarnath Yatra and the Pahalgam tourist spots are assets whose security cannot be diluted. Till the recent past, additional formations of the Army were deployed from outside the Valley to secure the Yatra. It gave a chance to the SF in Anantnag to continue operations for domination of the grid without much redeployment.  The spirit of road protection went to the extent of the entire Headquarters of 1 Sector RR turning out for some time to secure the entry and exit of the Army convoy through the built up area.

    Anantnag is too important a town for it to be allowed to fall within the ambit of freedom of movement of terrorists. The current political battle of the polls is the moment that the terror groups are bound to seize to enhance their presence even as the SF focus on security of political meetings and candidates. The SF need to revisit the past to examine how exactly their predecessors ensured the progressive dilution of terrorists from the area. The tendency to avoid increase of Army footprint will prove counter-productive.

    Towns such as Anantnag which nestle in the shadow of terrain which is ideal for militancy to fester cannot be tackled from within. It is the outlying areas which need to be dominated night and day if the return of high profile militancy has to be prevented. The events of the last few days appear to indicate that grounds for that very return are being prepared. It calls for the best integration of all SF under the Army’s Victor Force at Avantipur to achieve the task so well performed some years ago.

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    Lt. Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd) is the former Corps Commander of the Srinagar based 15 Corps, and is currently associated with Vivekanand International Foundation and the Delhi Policy Group, two major strategic think tanks of Delhi

    Air India to allow gallantry award recipients free upgrade to business class

    Air India to allow gallantry award recipients free upgrade to business class
    An Air India aeroplane. PTI file photo

    New Delhi, June 3

    In a novel gesture to honour armed forces personnel, national carrier Air India will allow recipients of war and peace time gallantry awards to upgrade to the business class if vacant seats are available at the time of boarding.According to Air India, the soldiers who have been bestowed with military honours such as Param Vir Chakra (PVC), Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), Vir Chakra (VC), Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra, will get an upgrade to business class from economy at the time of boarding in case seats are available in the aircraft from this month.”If seats are available, we will upgrade these awardees to business class at the boarding gate,” an Air India official said.The decision to upgrade these recipients of various gallantry awards to a higher class, which is effective from this month, is an initiative of Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani, he said.The Indian Armed Forces are eligible for various military decorations, which are awarded for extraordinary bravery and courage, as well as distinguished service during times of war and peace.Domestic carriers, including Air India, already provide a 50 per cent discount on basic fare on select classes on their domestic network to active Military personnel of Indian Armed Forces and their family members travelling at their own expense.The upgrade scheme, according to Air India, can be availed on the production of identity cards at the airline’s check-in counters. — PTI

    Air India to allow gallantry award recipients free upgrade to business class

    Soldiers who have been bestowed with honours such as Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, and Kirti Chakra, will be eligible for this gesture by Air India.

    In a novel gesture to honour armed forces personnel, national carrier Air India will allow recipients of war and peace time gallantry awards to upgrade to the the business class if vacant seats are available at the time of boarding.

    According to Air India, the soldiers who have been bestowed with military honours such Param Vir Chakra (PVC), Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), Vir Chakra (VC), Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra, will get an upgrade to business class from economy at the time of boarding in case seats are available in the aircraft from this month.

    “If seats are available, we will upgrade these awardees to business class at the boarding gate,” an Air India official said.

    The decision to upgrade these recipients of various gallantry awards to a higher class, which is effective from this month, is an initiative of Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani, he said. The Indian Armed Forces are eligible for various military decorations, which are awarded for extraordinary bravery and courage, as well as distinguished service during times of war and peace.

    Domestic carriers including Air India already provides a 50% discount on basic fare on select classes on their domestic network to active Military personnel of Indian Armed Forces and their family members travelling at their own expense.

    The upgrade scheme, according to Air India, can be availed on the production of identity cards at the airline’s check-in counters.

    COMMENT

    There is need to review the order. If its a question of Gallantry awardee only than what about the dependents( especially wife) of martyrs who were bestowed award posthumously. Knowing fully well that the percentage of gallantry awardee are few and not many travel by Air India ,thus seems to be the generosity by air India.
    Rather the veterans above 75 and disability soldiers with imputed limbs lost in operation should had been added if recognition for armed forces to be recognized.

    It an opportunity,location and act of bravery of sacrifice before self which earn such medals but not every one does not get an opportunity

    khera3
    Col Charanjit Singh Khera(Retd)
    Gen Secy
    Ex-Servicemen Joint Action front
    (Sanjha Morcha)

     


    Parrikar off to S’pore, Vietnam

    Parrikar off to S’pore, Vietnam
    Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, June 2

    Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar headed off to Singapore and Vietnam tonight to pursue two different tracks of the “Act East” policy.In Singapore on June 3 and June 4, Parrikar will attend the Shangri-La Dialogue where, on the sidelines of the summit, he is slated to meet his counterparts from the US, Japan, France, UK, Canada and Switzerland. At the dialogue, Parrikar is expected to address India’s concerns on various issues in Asia.On his second leg of his tour (June 5 and June 6), he will visit Vietnam, a country that has a defence cooperation agreement with India, and is now seeking the BrahMos missile. Parrikar will be accompanied by the DRDO Chief, Secretary (Defence Production), Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, Director General Military Training and Director Generation Operations of the IAF.This will be Parrikar’s second visit to a country that is seeking the Brahmos. On May 22 and May 23, he was in the UAE, which is also keen to have the BrahMos in its arsenal. As of now, there is no hint that New Delhi has agreed to sell the missile to either of the two nations.The missile, a joint venture between Russia and India, can be launched from ship or land. Its supersonic speed and the ability to skim the surface at heights as low as 10 m make it hard for an enemy’s radar to track. It is practically invulnerable to modern anti-missile and air defence systems.Vietnam, along with China, is one of the six countries locked in a bitter dispute over navigation rights through the South China Sea. More than $70 billion worth of Indian trade is routed through these waters. India also has rights to two oil-drilling blocks off the Vietnam coast. India’s relations with Vietnam in the past few years have been keenly watched by China. When Russia sold the Kilo Class submarines to Vietnam, the Indian Navy trained the Vietnamese Navy.India, on its part, is also setting up a satellite tracking and imaging centre in southern Vietnam that will give Hanoi access to pictures from Indian earth observation satellites that cover the region, including China and the South China Sea.On May 23, the US announced an end to its embargo on sales of lethal arms to Vietnam, a historic step that draws a line under the two countries’ old enmity.

    To raise India’s concerns at Shangri-La Dialogue

    • In Singapore, Defence Minister Parrikar will attend the Shangri-La Dialogue where heis expected to address India’s concernson various issues in Asia
    • On his second leg of his tour (June 5 and June 6), he will visit Vietnam, a country that has a defence cooperation agreement with India, and is now seeking the BrahMos missile

    Pak had achieved nuclear capability in 1984: Qadeer Khan

    Islamabad, May 28

    The father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan today said the country could have become a nuclear power as early as 1984 but the then President General Zia ul Haq “opposed the move”.He was addressing a gathering on the anniversary of first nuclear tests, which were carried out under his supervision in 1998.”We were able and we had a plan to launch nuclear test in 1984. But President General Zia ul Haq had opposed the move,” said Khan.He said General Zia, who ruled Pakistan from 1979 to 1988, opposed the nuclear testing as he believed that the world would intervene militarily.Khan also said Pakistan has the ability to target Indian capital Delhi from Kahuta near Rawalpindi in five minutes.Khan was disgraced in 2004 when he was forced to accept responsibility for proliferation and live a life of semi house arrest.He regretted the treatment and said Pakistan would never have achieved the feat of becoming first Muslim nuclear country without his “services”.”We are facing the worst against our services to the country’s nuclear program,” he said referring to the humiliation he suffered. — PTI


    Rafale deal will be concluded in June: Parrikar

    short by Arjun Bhatia / 10:52 am on 27 May 2016,Friday
    Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said there is “no reason” why the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France should not be concluded in June. He further rejected suggestions of a delay in signing the €7.89 billion (₹59,200 crore) contract, saying any such process takes at least 6-8 months. The deal had been announced in April 2015.

    West straining Sino-India ties: State media

    Simran Sodhi

    Tribune News Service

    Beijing, May 25

    Amid President Pranab Mukherjee’s ongoing visit, China seems to be softening its stance towards India with state news agency Xinhua running an article blaming the West for the hyped tension between “the dragon and the elephant”. One of the reasons for this could be growing Chinese apprehensions that India, Japan and the US are getting together as a power bloc to challenge Beijing’s dominance in the region.The report talks about the Chabahar port and how this is also being used to drive a wedge between the two Asian giants. “One of the latest targets of their smear campaign is a New Delhi-Tehran deal on developing Iran’s port of Chabahar. The seaport is 100 km from Pakistan’s Gwadar seaport, which is co-developed by China. Those media claim the Elephant-Dragon rivalry is unavoidable,” said the Xinhua report today. The report goes on to add that such hype is both “untrue and harmful”.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)The report comes out heavily in its criticism of the Western media, which it blames for creating such tension between China and other nations. The report goes on to state: “Yet the distorted coverage of China-India ties lays bare a deep and unfounded bias against China among Western media”.


    India rebuts China on NSG issue

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, May 20India today gave a firm rebuttal to China on linking signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and took exception to its increased investment in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.Countering the Chinese argument, India cited the example of France, which was admitted to the NSG without first having signed the NPT. “I think there is some confusion here. Even the NPT allows civil nuclear cooperation with non-NPT countries. If there is a connection, it is between the NSG and IAEA safeguards and with export controls,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said today in a media interaction.“NSG members have to respect safeguards and export controls, nuclear supplies have to be in accordance with the NSG guidelines. The NSG is an ad-hoc export control regime and France, which was not an NPT member for some time, was a member of the NSG since it respected NSG’s objectives,” Swarup added.China has objected to India’s NSG membership on the grounds that isn’t the NPT signatory. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang had said all the multilateral non-proliferation export control regime, including the NSG have regarded NPT as an important standard for the expansion of the NSG.Chinese stand has irked India and it is one of the topics that will also be raised by President Pranab Mukherjee who is travelling to China next week.India also slammed China for its increased investments in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. “Chinese activities in PoK have been taken up with the Chinese side, including at the highest level. Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India… we have asked them to cease all activities (there),” Swarup said.


    Pak court says try Lakhvi for abetting 26/11

    Lahore, May 20

    Lashkar-e-Toiba operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and six others accused in the 2008 Mumbai attack case will be individually charged with abetment to murder of 166 people who died in the carnage, a Pakistan anti-terrorism court ruled today.A senior official said the court did not allow cross-examination of the suspects. The prosecution had filed an application in the anti-terrorism court, Islamabad, two months ago, requesting it to make an amendment to the charges against the suspects of abetment to murder of each individual in the carnage. The trial court had in March reserved the verdict. As many as 166 people, including six Americans, were killed and more than 300 injured in the attack in November 2008 by 10 Pakistan terrorists. — PTI


    LCA Tejas, BrahMos, LCH, Akash missile & AEW&C :: 5 defence products India is eyeing for exports

    Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has set himself a target – he wants India’s defence exports to reach $2 billion in the next two years, from the current level of $300 million. Indigenously developed defence products – be it India’s missiles, aircraft or helicopter – have generated interest in the global market, especially from African and Latin American countries. From HAL’s Light Combat Helicopter and LCA Tejas to BrahMos missile, we take a look at five defence products that India can look at exporting:

    LCH ::

    According to a PTI report, India is in talks with “certain” countries in Africa for possible export of the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). LCH is a 5.5-tonne class combat helicopter designed and developed by HAL. Its features include sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crash worthy landing gear, crash worthy and self-sealing fuel tanks, armour protection, nuclear and low visibility features which makes the LCH lethal, agile and survivable.

    Designed for anti-tank and anti-infantry roles with a maximum speed of 275 kilometers per hour, the LCH is also capable of high-altitude warfare since its operational ceiling will be 16,000 to 18,000 feet. “With great value for money, the helicopter is an attractive buy for many countries. The countries interested in the LCH in the current form do not need high features like air to air missiles. For them turret gun along with some other features work,” a senior defence official has said.

    BRAHMOS ::

    The supersonic cruise missile system BrahMos, which is a joint venture between India and Russia, has caught the attention of countries like Argentina, Venezuela, Chile and Brazil in Latin America and also of South Africa, which is part of the BRICS grouping, because it has been developed at a low cost of $300 million. (Image: DRDO)

    BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile developed by DRDO and Russian NPO Mashinostroyeniya. The missile can be launched from surface, submarine or air. Latin American countries as well as South East Asian countries have expressed their interest for the missile particularly for their naval and coastal defence.

    The BrahMos missile has a range of 290 km, has a maximum velocity of 2.8 Mach and cruises at altitudes varying from 10 metres to 15 km, claims BrahMos. It can be launched in either inclined or vertical configuration based on the type of the ship.

    Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas ::

    India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, which was several years in the making, has now caught the attention of foreign buyers with Sri Lanka and Egypt evincing interest in the indigenously built fighter jet. Sri Lanka had recently rejected Pakistan’s JF-17 aircraft built with Chinese help, while Egypt had last year signed a contract for 24 French-made Rafale fighter jets. The two countries are interested in the current version of the Tejas and not the upgraded one which will be rolled out later.

    Tejas is perhaps the world’s smallest lightweight, multi-role single engine tactical fighter aircraft. Tejas is equipped with a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system to ease handling by the pilot. It has intentionally been made longitudinally unstable to enhance manoeuvrability.

    Two things that go in favour of the Tejas are its lower cost and flying ability. Sources have told PTI that enquiries by foreign countries came during the Bahrain air show in January, the first time that Tejas flew outside the country. The decision to send Tejas abroad was of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has put his weight behind the aircraft.

    AKASH Missile System ::

    Parrikar recently said that India is willing to export the Akash missile system. Akash, a surface-to-air missile, has a range of 25 km. Akash mobile Air Defence Weapon System has been designed, developed and led to production by DRDO for defending and protecting the important assets of the country from penetrating aerial attacks.

    AEW&C ::

    AEW&C is one of the flagship programmes of DRDO consisting of state-of-theart Airborne Early Warning and Control system that can detect, identify and classify threats present in the surveillance area and act as a command and control centre to support variety of air operations. “AEW&C India” with Mission Systems, with modular design & integrated on an Embraer 145 aircraft, are very cost effective, claims DRDO. With an eye on export, the DRDO had exhibited the plane during air shows in the past.