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Armed Forces Officials Welfare Organization (AFOWO)
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India may supply arms to Myanmar in full show of support against Rohingya Muslims

India is considering supplying arms to Myanmar’s government in a sign of strong support for a neighbor that faces criticism for its crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.

The arms were discussed during a visit by the chief of Myanmar’s navy, Indian officials said on Thursday. The two sides also talked about training Myanmar sailors on top of the courses taught to its army officers at elite Indian defense institutions.

India’s decision to discuss enhancing military cooperation with its eastern neighbor appears part of a push to counter Chinese influence in the region.

It comes at a time when Western countries are stepping up pressure on Myanmar’s government for violence against Rohingya Muslims in its northwestern Rakhine state.

Myanmar rejects the charge, saying its forces are tackling insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army who it has accused of setting fires and attacking civilians.

Britain said this week it was suspending its training program for the Myanmar military, demanding it take steps to end the violence against civilians.

On Wednesday, the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar navy Admiral Tin Aung San met Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman and the chiefs of India’s army, navy and air force.

The two sides are discussing the supply of offshore patrol boats, a military official said. The Myanmar navy chief also visited the naval ship building site in Mumbai as part of the four-day trip that ends on Thursday.

“Myanmar is a pillar of our Look East policy and defense is a large part of the relationship,” said the official.

In 2013, India offered to supply equipment such as artillery guns, radars and night vision devices to Myanmar’s army. Since then, the focus has shifted to naval cooperation as India seeks to push back against Chinese influence in the region.

The two sides are expected to increase coordinated patrols in the Bay of Bengal that help the two navies operate together.

“The fact that the Indian government is receiving a high level military officer at a time when the international community is criticizing the military sends out a signal,” said K.Yhome who specializes on India’s neighborhood policy at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.

“The message is (that) India is with the Myanmar government so far as the Rohingya issue is concerned,” he said.

Since the crisis erupted in Rakhine last month, New Delhi has been supportive of de facto leader Aung Saan Suu Kyi, condemning insurgent attacks on security forces that prompted a military crackdown against the Rohingya.

Only later as international criticism mounted, India expressed concern at the flight of hundreds of thousands of refugees into neighboring Bangladesh.

China has also stood by the Myanmar government. This week Foreign Minister Wang Yi told U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres that it supported Myanmar’s efforts to protect its national security and opposes recent violent attacks in Rakhine.

Source >> Indian Defence News
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Disengagement at Doklam: Troops stepped back 150 metres each side, remain on plateau

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed a successful visit to China for the BRICS summit, which included a frank bilateral discussion Tuesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, new details have emerged about the disengagement of Indian and Chinese troops in the Doklam area last week. But the first stage of disengagement, which reduced tensions and paved the way for Modi’s China visit, has still left Indian and Chinese soldiers on the Dolam plateau, even though they are separated by nearly 300 metres since August 28.

Multiple sources have told The Indian Express that this disengagement — wherein both sets of soldiers, along with their tents and road construction equipment, moved away from the faceoff site on Dolam plateau but only by a distance of around 150 metres each — is fully in accordance with the two statements issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on August 28.

In its first statement, issued at noon, the MEA had said that “expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the faceoff site at Doklam has been agreed to and is ongoing”. The second MEA statement, issued later in the evening, stated that “the process (of expeditious disengagement) has since been almost completed under verification”.

According to official sources, the terms for disengagement were decided in diplomatic negotiations at Beijing, which were led by the Indian ambassador to China, Vijay Gokhale, and handled at the highest levels of the government in Delhi. The Army headquarters was closely involved in the consultations, but the final proposal was conveyed to the Brigadier at Nathu La on Saturday, August 26. He, along with his Chinese counterpart, got around to working out the process of disengagement which would be verified by both sides.

Under the agreed terms, it was to be a mutual but sequential withdrawal from the faceoff site, where the two groups of soldiers had been in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation for 71 days. The Indian soldiers — along with their tents and bulldozers which were up to around 400 metres inside Bhutanese territory — would move out first to their side of the border, before noon. This was to be followed by a Chinese withdrawal to Yatung (Yadong) or further north, way beyond the Chumbi Valley. As per sources, a few hours were set upon and decided for each of the withdrawals to take place. The withdrawal could then be verified by the other side after that time.

While the Indian communication lines were quick from Beijing down to Dolam, the Chinese communications through the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were perhaps not that efficient and timely, sources said. This led to some confusion and made the Indians cautious in their withdrawal from the standoff site in the morning, as per sources. Many frantic calls between Doklam and New Delhi followed. Though tentative about the Chinese response to their withdrawal, the Indian side decided to go ahead with its move.
Eventually, by noon, the Indians had moved away by around 150 metres — partly back on to the Indian side, with a spillover into Bhutanese territory — by first moving out the soldiers, followed by tents and then the bulldozers. As agreed upon, the Indian side issued a statement in Delhi about the ongoing “expeditious disengagement”. Because of delay in passage of orders, bad weather in Dolam plateau and additional time taken in removing their tents, the Chinese side asked for extra time from what was agreed upon. The Chinese movement by 150 metres from the faceoff site was completed in early afternoon, and verified by the Indians. The second MEA statement was issued after that verification.

Sources also told The Indian Express that the current state of redeployment, where the two groups of soldiers are at a distance of 300 metres, is only an intermediary stage. They are hopeful that the two sides will further withdraw from their current locations, eventually resulting in a status quo as on June 16, when the Chinese road construction party had moved in. Sources refused to put a firm date on completion of full withdrawal but were hopeful that it could be in a matter of weeks, if not days, as it is dependent on the internal Chinese political calendar, which includes the Communist Party Congress next month.

Top government sources told The Indian Express that the Army’s proposal for better operational readiness of troops on the China border in Eastern Command has been implemented. This involves keeping one-third troops in every brigade in a high-altitude area at all time, where they remain acclimatised to operate at high altitudes and can be deployed at short notice.
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Govt clears first batch of reforms in Indian Army

In a first, the government on Wednesday approved reforms within the Indian Army to enhance the combat capability of the forces thereby rebalancing defence expenditure in a phased manner by December 2019 based on the Lt Gen Shekatkar committee.

The first phase of the reforms involves redeployment and restructuring of approximately 57,000 posts of officers. The measures will be implemented in a gradual manner.

“Restructuring of the Indian Army is aimed at enhancing combat capability in a manner that the officers will be used for improving operational preparedness and civilians will be redeployed in different wings of the armed forces for improving efficiency,” stated a press released issued after the Cabinet meet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The committee headed by Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekatkar had given 99 recommendations to the government in its report on December 2016, out of which the Ministry of Defence hs decided to implement 65 suggestions, stated a release by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

“The net effect of this is, as to various, different functions in the Army, as per the changed environment of technology, economy, combat capability of the Army, how it is to be best utilised,” said Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs, while briefing reporters on the decision.

Under this, the government will do away 39 military farms and several Army postal departments in peace locations. There will be optimisation of signal establishments to include Radio Monitoring Companies, Corps Air Support Signal Regiments, Air Formation Signal Regiments, Composite Signal Regiments and merger of Corps Operating and Engineering Signal Regiments.

Apart from this, in the first phase the government will also undertake restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include base workshops, advance base workshops and station workshops in the field Army.

There will also be redeployment of ordnance echelons to include vehicle depots, ordnance depots and central ordnance depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.

The reforms will also aim for better utilisation of supply and transport echelons and animal transport units. It will also seek to enhance the quality of clerical staff and drivers engaged with the Army and improve the efficiency of National Cadet Corps.

The committee was given the mandate to recommend measures for enhancing the Combat Capability and Rebalancing Defence Expenditure of the Armed Forces with an aim to increase "teeth to tail ratio,” stated the press release.

Source >> http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/govt-clears-first-batch-of-reforms-in-indian-army/article9836656.ece

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India's LCH equipped with missiles to be deployed at Chinese Border

The 5.8 ton helicopter will provide crucial air support to the armed forces deployed along the Chinese border as it has the power to carry out operational roles under extreme weather conditions at altitudes of 20,000 meters in the difficult Himalayan terrain.

India's state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has begun production of light combat helicopters (LCH) which are equipped with a 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rocket, air to air missile, electro optical pod and helmet pointing system.

The production formally commenced on Saturday in Bengaluru in the presence of Defense Minister Arun Jaitley. The LCH is entirely locally designed and developed by HAL.

"The LCH has demonstrated the capability to land and take off from Siachen range with considerable load, fuel, and weapons that are beyond the capacity of any other combat helicopter," HAL said in a statement.

In November this year, Indian defense ministry had approved a fund of approximately $450 million for the procurement of 15 LCHs as a "limited series production" (LSP) order. The light combat helicopter is pegged at around $35 million per unit which is less than half the cost of American AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.

The helicopter is also lighter in comparison to the Apache. The only challenge before HAL is to fit the helicopter with sophisticated fire control radar like that of Apache. HAL has assured that the design for such radar would be complete when the delivery of the LCH would start for the Indian Army.

"We are moving in the right direction in evolving ourselves into a major manufacturing hub. In this context today's experience has been encouraging", Arun Jaitley said.

The twin-engine LCH features narrow fuselage and tandem configuration for pilot and co-pilot/ weapon system operator. It is powered by French Safran-designed helicopter engines Shakti. Shakti is the Indian designation for the Safran's Ardiden 1, co-developed with HAL and produced under license.

"The helicopter has indigenous state of the art technologies like integrated dynamic system, bearing less tail rotor, anti-resonance vibration isolation system, crash worthy landing gear, smart glass cockpit, hinge-less main rotor, armor protection and stealth features from visual, aural, radar and IR signatures," HAL added.

Source >> Indian Defence News
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Boost to Army's Air Power ; to get new medium range missile by 2020

After years of wait, the Indian Army will finally get an advanced medium-range surface to air missile (MRSAM) system by 2020 which will be able to shoot down ballistic missiles, fighter jets and attack helicopters from a range of around 70 km.

The missile system will be produced by premier defence research organisation DRDO in collaboration with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a senior army official said.

The MRSAM system will be capable of shooting down enemy ballistic missiles, aircraft, helicopters, drones, surveillance aircraft and AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) aircraft, the official said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

The current version of MRSAM is operational with the Indian Air Force and the Navy.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has signed a Rs 17,000 crore deal with the IAI for the ambitious project.

The MR-SAM, a land-based version of the long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) for the Navy, will have a strike range of up 70 km, the official said. The deal envisages 40 firing units and around 200 missiles.

"The MRSAM for Army's Air Defence is an advanced all weather, 360 degree mobile land based theatre air defence system capable of providing air defence to critical areas against a wide variety of threats in a combat zone," the official said.

The first set of missile system will be ready in the next three years, he said.

The Army has been pressing the government to enhance its aerial attack capability considering the evolving security challenges.

In May, the Army successfully test fired an advanced version of the Brahmos land-attack cruise missile in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Indian Army, which became the first land force in the world to deploy the Brahmos in 2007, has raised several regiments of this formidable weapon.

In May 2015, the Army had inducted the indigenously- developed supersonic surface-to-air missile Akash which is capable of targeting enemy helicopters, aircraft and UAVs from a range of 25 km.

The Army thinks procurement of the MRSAM will mark a paradigm shift in its strike capability.

Source >> Indian Defence News

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After Pangong clashes with Chinese troops, Indian Army officers hold exercises near Chang La Pass

After Pangong became the latest flashpoint of standoff between the Indian and Chinese troops where soldiers from the two sides clashed in Ladakh on August 15, Army troopers are holding military exercises a few kilometers from the Chang La Pass at an altitude of 14,000 feet.

On the 224-km journey from Leh to Pangong, there has been a regular movement of troops and vehicles. The Chang La Pass is the second highest motorable road in the world at 17,668 km.

At around 8.30 am on August 15, troops of the 23 Sikh regiment hoisted the tri-colour at the giant Pangong Lake. The flag hoisting event ended with the national anthem as the handful of troops headed back to their camp on the banks of the 134-km lake. Chinese troops indulged in stone pelting after Indian soldiers prevented the People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers from crossing the Line of Control in the Pangong Tso (Lake) area. The ensuing stone pelting and clashes between the two forces left several Indian troops injured.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a soldier said, "This should not have happened. But at least we are prepared."
In the wake of such a confrontational atmosphere, the salt water lake strategically sandwiched between the Himalayas presents a picture of calm. DS Hooda, former commander of the Northern Army, said, "The region requires both brain and brawn. With oxygen depleting fast in the region, soldiers need to think quickly to handle the situation in the heat of the moment. A shouting match between the troops can otherwise end up in a shooting match and a bloodbath. The training, thus, is of extreme importance and the situation needs to be handled sensibly."

PLA TROOPS TRIED TO ENTER INDIA FROM 2 AREAS

The PLA troops "tried to enter the Indian side from two areas - Finger Four and Finger Five - twice between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m." on our Independence Day, but these incursion bids were successfully thwarted by the Indian border patrols. A local said, "We saw nothing, but we see the boats on the banks move. We hope nothing happens here, like in Chusul (another area of conflict)."

Tensions at the border are palpable as Army troops and vehicles take the crucial arterial road to Pangong. Both the Army and ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) have been tight-lipped. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has so far rejected overtures of peace by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Home Minister Rajnath Singh over the Doklam stand-off, which has not shown any signs of abating, despite attempts of peace by India. China is, on the other hand, escalating the issue, by further expanding its intrusion attempts into Pangong.

Speaking to India Today, Defence expert and Major General (retired) PK Sehgal said, "China has an important election coming up, which is important for President's ego. Chinese is rejecting all the overtures by India."

INDIA, CHINA SHARE 4,000-KM-LONG LAC BORDER

India and China share an over-4,000 km-long LAC (Line of Actual Control). China claims approximately 90,000 sq km of territory in Arunachal Pradesh besides 38,000 sq km in the Jammu and Kashmir sector. The recent visit of President Ramnath Kovind and Army chief Bipin Rawat to Ladakh is being seen as more than mere symbolism and a certain boost to the security forces' morale.

Another Defence expert Qamar Agha said, "Incursions in the entire region are taking place with Chinese PLA troops being deployed in crucial areas, as a result of which India has been forced to deploy its forces. There is already intense speculation both in India and China over whether PM Modi will attend the ninth BRICS Summit, scheduled to be held in Xiamen in China's Fujian province from September 3-5. But experts are of the view that PM Modi's visit could ultimately hold the trump card.

Source >> http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/china-india-pla-chang-la-pass-ladakh-pangong-lake-indian-army-military-exercises/1/1032476.html
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