Lt Gen C.P. Mohanty relinquishes command of the Southern Army - The Daily Guardian
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Lt Gen C.P. Mohanty relinquishes command of the Southern Army

Ashish Singh

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Lieutenant General C.P. Mohanty relinquished the command of Southern Army on 31 January. In a solemn ceremony on his departure, the Army Commander paid homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath at the National War Memorial, Pune. The General Officer is moving to Delhi to assume the coveted appointment of Vice Chief of the Army Staff.

The Army Commander has given a significant impetus to operational and logistics issues to enhance the operational efficiency of Southern Command, whose area of responsibility includes 11 states and four Union Territories. Some of the major achievements during his tenure include Covid-19 relief operations at multiple location in the area of responsibility, undertaking massive flood relief and rescue operations in 27 districts spread over three states, evacuating more than 10,000 persons to safety in last year’s flood situation. Conduct of multiple joint training exercises with Navy and Airforce and also with friendly foreign countries.

In spite of the pandemic situation, the Southern Command has maintained a high state of operational readiness at all times. Relations with civil administration and Police of each state reached an all-time high in the past year particularly while tackling Covid-19.

Besides operations, the General also resolved a large number of pending land issues and enhanced synergy between the defence forces and various Civil Organisations through proactive and focused engagement. Administrative issues like education, discipline, and medical were given due emphasis wherein development initiatives involving schools, professional colleges and hospitals got initiated and its manifestation in Pune includes improvement of Army Law College and Army Institute of Technology.

There was a major focus on increasing the health infrastructure, a new state of the art multi-speciality tertiary care Command Hospital project was completed and is now well established to serve the medical needs of serving and veterans. Mamun Mohanty, as Regional President Southern Command Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA), ensured the well-being of families in Southern Command. She focused on improvement and creation of infrastructure for skill development with a view to enhance employability of the spouses of soldiers. She was also at the forefront in conceptualisation and execution of multiple schemes for the Veer Naris and specially-abled children.

The recent creation of “Utkarsh” a multi-activity centre for all ranks and families with state of art gymnasium, gaming zone of kids and multi utility facility for families will go a long way in improving quality of life. All ranks of Pune Cantonment gave a befitting and dignified farewell to General Mohanty and his wife.

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Defence

INDIA REPATRIATES YOUTH FROM POK AT TITHWAL CROSSING POINT

Ashish Singh

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On the night of 5th April, a youth inadvertently crossed the line of control into Karnah, Kupwara (J&K). The youth identified as Mausam son of Manzoor Ahmad from Lipa area of Kashmir under illegal occupation of Pakistan was kept by the Indian troops deployed along the line of control for the night with due care & Pakistani authorities were informed of the whereabouts of the child. Based on the interaction between the authorities of both sides on the hotline, the Indian authorities repatriated the youth to the Pakistani authorities from Tithwal crossing point as a humanitarian gesture. The youth was presented clothes and sweets, on return. On the occasion of repatriation, the representatives of civil administration, Karnah were present. The exchange took place at 1150 a.m. Indian standard Time on 7th April. Such inadvertent crossings have taken place earlier also due to close proximity of villages along line of control on either sides. However, the Indian side has always been prompt in returning the individuals keeping the humanitarian issue in mind.

That way Tithwal Crossing Bridge located on Kishanganga river has been acting as a point of peace between the two sides. It would be pertinent to highlight that the site is visited by lots of people from either sides and is emerging as tourist site especially after the recently agreed ceasefire between India and Pakistan. The peace and tranquility as a result of the agreement, is being appreciated by the civil population on either sides of line of control.

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Defence

RAJNATH SINGH HOLDS BILATERAL TALKS WITH KAZAKH DEFENCE MINISTER

Discusses ways to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation.

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held bilateral talks with Defence Minister of Republic of Kazakhstan Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev in New Delhi on Friday. During the meeting, the two Ministers exchanged views to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation, including through training, defence exercises and capacity building. They agreed that both sides must look at the possibility of defence industrial collaboration of mutual interest. The Defence Minister of Kazakhstan thanked Rajnath Singh for the opportunity given to the Kazakh troops for deployment as part of the Indian battalion in United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Both Ministers also positively assessed the annual KAZIND Exercise.

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar and other senior civil and military officials of Ministry of Defence were also present on the occasion. Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev is on an official visit to India from April 7th to 10th. He visited HQs 12 Corps at Jodhpur and the Longewala sector in Jaisalmer. The Kazakh Defence Minister is in India on the invitation of Rajnath Singh.

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Defence

MADE IN CHINA: NOT IN A BATTLE PLEASE

Ashish Singh

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The recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh is being avidly studied in think tanks and military academies over the world for its unusual lessons and the optimisation of disruptive technologies, particularly the success of Azerbaijan’s drones. However, another set of people are quietly studying the conflict even more closely—the global arms industry. Every conflict spurs arms sales. After the overwhelming and quick success of the US-led forces in Gulf War I, there was a long lineup for the latest weapons used in the war. The Saudis wanted F-15 fighters, Apache helicopters, Abrams M1A1 tanks, AWACS radar planes, Patriot missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems, Seahawk helicopters, and Bradley fighting vehicles. The Egyptians wanted Hawk missiles, M-60 tank upgrades, and F-16 fighters, while the Israelis negotiated for portable battlefield-navigation systems, upgrades for the F-15 fighter and the M-109 artillery piece, and more Patriot missiles. A similar interest in the weapon systems, particularly drones, deployed in this conflict is being shown today in cash-rich capitals of many nations.

However, nobody is taking the next flight to Beijing to close an arms deal, though the Chinese have a reputation for being the cheapest in the market. The reason is evident, but hushed. For all their claims of technological prowess, the Chinese systems have failed to deliver. China commenced with large scale sales of drones to many countries as early as 2011. It was a ‘supply shock’, and countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria obtained them. The prices were unbelievably low—both for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). However, the performance of these inexpensive platforms leaves a lot to be desired. The export versions are regularly falling out of the sky. Algeria has reported a series of accidents in the last six years with the Chinese-supplied CH-4 UCAVs. The CH-4 is produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. It is one of the Rainbow series of aircraft built by the state-owned corporation. In Algeria, repeated crashes of CH-4 were reported near Tindouf, Bir Rogaa and Ain Oussera airbases.

Jordan had to put on sale Chinese-supplied UAVs after they failed on all parameters. After purchasing with much fanfare in 2016, within three years, the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) had put its Chinese-made six CH-4B UAVs up for sale in June 2019, indicating disappointment with their performance. The RJAF had acquired them in 2016 along with AR-1 laser-guided missiles and FT-9 guided bombs. In June 2020, a Chinese drone crashed in Cambodia, in Koh Kong province’s Kiri Sakor district. It was a Chinese BZK-005, a high altitude UAV used primarily as a long range reconnaissance aircraft, designed by Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics and Harbin Aircraft Industry Company. Within China, their much hyped ‘Predator’ unmanned helicopter developed by Hangzhou Star Low Altitude Helicopter Development Company and hailed as one of the “trailblazers” in the development of China’s drone industry suddenly dived towards the ground and crashed at air show in Hangzhou in October 2020.

The key Chinese system in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict was the WM-80 Multiple Rocket Launcher (MRL), sold to Armenia in 1999 with great promises of devastating fires and annihilation of enemy forces. The MRL system was developed by Norinco, the China Ordnance Industries Group Corporation Limited, on Chinese designed Type 83 273 mm. It has a modular design, with two launcher boxes each containing four ready-to-launch rocket rounds on a TAS-5380 8×8 truck chassis. It failed to make any impact on the opposing Azerbaijan forces. In short, the Chinese weapon platforms have proved undependable even in mildly contested environments, leave aside wars with dense and unpredictable Air Defence environment.

There are numerous reliability and supplies issues with China. China signs agreements for a certain variant of a weapon platform but delivers a lower version with many changes. Often the buyer has no choice but to accept since the requirements are urgent, as in case of Algeria who purchased the lower variant as their border situation was worsening with Libya, Mali and Niger. Pakistan has similar compulsions, not to mention a worsening economy. China is also known to avoid providing spare parts and after sales service. Reports indicate that instead of adhering to the original contract, Chinese middlemen keep putting forth new options for better platforms, and make sales pitch simultaneously to rival factions and groups, particularly in Africa. Maybe the Chinese will improve their weapon platforms in near future, and offer some quality along with quantity. Even without quality, there would always be some buyers from the cash-strapped regions. However, for anywhere else where ethics and human lives matter, no ‘Made in China’ crashing drones and dysfunctional systems in a battlefield.

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Defence

INDIA, MALDIVES CALL FOR GLOBAL COOPERATION AGAINST TERRORISM

First meeting of India-Maldives Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism; the two nations strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms.

Ashish Singh

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The first meeting of the Joint Working Group on counter-terrorism, countering violent extremism and de-radicalisation between India and the Maldives was held in New Delhi on Thursday. The Indian side was led by Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, Vikas Swarup, and the Maldivian side was led by Foreign Secretary Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed. The meeting was held in a cordial and constructive atmosphere that symbolises the time-tested and good neighbourly ties between India and the Maldives and the energy, ambition and scale acquired by our bilateral relations under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

India and the Maldives strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including cross-border terrorism and emphasised the need for strengthening international cooperation to combat terrorism in a comprehensive and sustained manner. Both sides reviewed threats posed by terrorist entities that are under UN sanctions and emphasised the need for concerted action against all terrorist networks.

They underlined the urgent need for all countries to take immediate, sustained, verifiable and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under their control is used for terrorist attacks on others and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks. Referring to the joint statement issued during the state visit of Prime Minister Modi to the Maldives in June 2019, the two sides recognized the critical threats that terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation pose to peace and security in the region.

India appreciated the clear-eyed stance taken by the Government of President Solih to counter such threats and the concrete steps taken by the Maldives in this regard. The two sides also exchanged views on various areas of cooperation in the sphere of counter-terrorism including countering radicalization and violent extremism, combating financing of terrorism, preventing exploitation of the internet for terrorism and violent extremism, information sharing, capacity building and establishing institutional linkages between police, security forces, Customs, Immigration and other relevant agencies.

Further, the two sides exchanged views on enhancing bilateral cooperation against narcotics and drug trafficking. The discussions were also informed by the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented to countering terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism.

Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation that will include assistance and capacity building for the security and law enforcement agencies and other relevant agencies of the Maldives as well as collaboration and the exchange of best practices in the areas of counter-terrorism, preventing and countering of violent extremism and de-radicalisation. The two sides also discussed cooperation in multilateral fora. The Maldivian delegation will also visit the training facilities of National Security Guard and the Bureau of Police Research and Development during its stay in New Delhi.

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Defence

Indian Army Chief Naravane proceeds on a five-day visit to Bangladesh

Ashish Singh

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Continuing with the excellent tradition of strong bilateral and defence ties between India and Bangladesh, General M.M. Naravane, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) has started a five day visit to Bangladesh from 8th to 12th April. General Naravane’s visit comes in the midst of Swarnim Vijay Varsh celebrations which mark 50 years of the liberation of Bangladesh, made possible by the historic leadership of the Bôngobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and heroics of the Mukti Bahini who fought shoulder to shoulder with Indian Armed Forces. 

The Army Chief paid tributes to the martyrs of the Liberation War by laying a wreath at the Shikha Anirban on Thursday. This was followed by one to one meetings with the three Service Chiefs of the Bangladesh’s Armed Forces. General Naravane is also scheduled to visit the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Museum in Dhanmondi, where he will pay tributes to Bangladesh’s founding father. The COAS will interact with Bangladesh’s Minister of Foreign Affairs on 11th April at Bangladesh Army’s Multipurpose Complex in Dhaka where he will attend a seminar on UN Peace Support Operations and deliver a keynote address on “Changing Nature of Global Conflicts: Role of UN Peacekeepers”

General MM Naravane is also scheduled to interact with the Force Commanders of the United Nations Missions in Mali, South Sudan and Central African Republic and the Deputy Chief Operations Officer of the Royal Bhutanese Army on 12th April. He will also attend the closing ceremony of Exercise Shantir Ogrosena, a multilateral UN-mandated counterterrorism exercise comprising the Armed Forces of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka along with observers from the US, UK, Turkey and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia among others. The Chief will also witness the innovations of the Bangladeshi Armed Forces personnel during the Hardware Display. The Chief of the Army Staff will interact with the members of Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support and Training Operations (BIPSOT) during the last leg of his visit. This visit will further deepen the bilateral relationships between the two Armies and act as a catalyst for closer coordination and cooperation between the two countries on a host of strategic issues.

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Defence

Kazakhstan Defence Minister visits India for bilateral talks

Ashish Singh

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Minister of Defence of Republic of Kazakhstan Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev is on an official visit to India from April 7th to 10th. The Kazakh Defence Minister arrived in Jodhpur on Wednesday and is scheduled to travel to Jaisalmer, New Delhi and Agra for meetings and visit to defence establishments. Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev will hold a bilateral meeting with Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh in New Delhi today. This will be the first meeting after Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev was re-appointed as Defence Minister of Kazakhstan. The two Ministers had last met in Moscow on 5th September 2020 on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meeting. The Kazakh Defence Minister is in India on the invitation of Raksha Mantri.

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