November 26, 2005

DELHI BLAST : Indian English media distort news to protect Pakistan

Various headlines from various web-sites:

Dar in court, admits Pak hand in Delhi blasts (Daily Pioneer)

Dar admits role in hawala, denies part in blasts (Rediff)

Delhi blasts accused admits to links with LeT terrorists (Hindu)

Delhi blasts accused denies hand in explosions but admits links (Hindu)

Tariq Dar admits he made call denying LeT hand in blasts (Express India)

Dar says he made call denying LeT hand in 29/10 (Newindpress)

Dar denies hand in Delhi blasts (The Statesman)

Dar says he made call, denies role in blasts (Times of India)

Dar says he had no role in blasts, only made call of denial (Outlook)

Delhi blast denial (Calcutta Telegraph)

Once again the winner of "Journalism Ethics" goes to - The Pioneer!



Dar in court, admits Pak hand in Delhi blasts

Praveen Kumar/ New Delhi

The admissions made by Tariq Ahmed Dar before a city court on Friday firmly points the finger of suspicion towards Pakistan's involvement in the October 29 blasts in the Capital.

Dar, arrested by the Delhi Police from Srinagar, is the front man of militant outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), suspected to have been responsible for the blasts in the Capital, which snuffed out the lives of 63 festival shoppers.

"I was instructed by the bosses of LeT from Pakistan to give a statement denying their role in the Delhi blasts that took place on October 29," said Dar before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Madhu Jain. The court has extended the police custody of Dar till December 8. Dar works for a pharma MNC and was arrested earlier in a hawala matter.

During his deposition before the magistrate, Dar said that in August 2005, he met his friend Muzzafal, a member of LeT from Pakistan, who was on a visit to Srinagar. During the meeting, Muzzafal asked for some medicines for a friend. Dar said, "I gave him the medicines and in return he gifted me a mobile phone with a particular SIM card. I was told that the mobile should be used only after Muzzafal gives a go-ahead. After the blasts, Muzzafal called up and instructed me to issue a statement on behalf of LeT through the mobile phone and the number he had provided."
The mobile phone was subsequently used by Dar to issue the statement to the Press denying a LeT role in the blasts.

It would be pertinent to mention here that LeT is the military arm of Markaz-e-Dawa-al-Irshad, an orthodox Islamic seminary located in Muridke outside Lahore in Pakistan. This organisation has been named in several militant activities in the country earlier.

On being asked about the online transaction of about Rs 66 lakh in his account, Dar told the court that he received only 10 per cent of the transactions. He initially denied knowing the identity or the intent of the persons who carried out the operations. However, during the queries made by the magistrate, he said that there was a person named Farooq, who operated his HDFC Bank account no. 4151000001613, from Pakistan.

Later on Dar contradicted his own statement about the online transactions in his account before the court. He said, "Recently I started a export business of Kashmiri shawls under Jemini Trading Corporation and the money that is in my account is 51 per cent of the advance for 300 shawls given by the other party from Pakistan." However, he did not reveal the name or the identity of the other party from Pakistan. He kept on saying before the court that he is innocent and he has never been to Delhi except on business meetings of his company Johnson & Johnson.

Dar also did not admit the recorded conversation between him and the chief of Srinagar unit of LeT, Abu Al Qama. In this conversation, he had allegedly informed the LeT militant that there are no cameras in the much-crowded Paharganj area of Delhi and it will be an easy target. He even informed them about the security arrangements of the blast-affected areas. Replying to which, the LeT commander had said that they will again attack the Capital and Delhi Police will be unable to trace them as their roots lie in Pakistan.

Nonetheless he admitted his links with Javed, a slain militant of Hizb-ul-Muzahhadin. He said "He was my neighbour and he often requested me to join his organisation. He even told me that a soft approach is going on between the two countries on Kashmir issue and we would be able to take control of it very soon. But I denied the offer."
He blamed Javed for bringing him into contact with the militant outfits. He said, "I started a magazine called "Mountain Valley" in 2003 with my friend Javed, a reporter as well as a member of the Hizb. Somehow our business closed and we had to start a new magazine "Destination Himalaya", which was about the peace process between India and Pakistan and promotion of the other initiatives taken by both the governments. In this time, Javed used to carry out his militant operations without my knowledge. However, in September 2003, police raided his house and killed him in an encounter. Thereafter I was not in contact with any of the persons in connection with any militant outfit."

Chinese Spies in India : Indian Leftists part of India Containment

  1. Either by coincidence or design, the Left parties, especially those who have fraternal relations with China, part of the international Communist brotherhood, have opposed the 18 July agreement as well, but knowing their leverage to be limited, the Chinese have not relaxed their vigil, but raised it, and now, all aspects of Indian’s expanding relations, with the United States and others, is being watched hawkeyed.
  2. Chinese have begun extensive espionage on India’s external interests
  3. The Taiwanese are tailed twenty-four hours a day round the year by the Chinese in New Delhi
  4. To show opposition to China, both Thailand and Indonesia have sought Prithvi and BrahMos missiles (Intelligence, “Thailand, Indonesia seek BrahMos, Prithvi,” 23 November 2005), but India is undecided, fearful of the Chinese reaction. Several South East Asian states desire these missiles, but the Indian government is unable to take a stand, and there is also Left pressure on the Centre. The Indian military is pressing hardest for a full-scope defence engagement with South East Asia, the success of the Look East policy is predicated on this, but the Chinese scare comes in the way. It hardly speaks for our courage that Chinese espionage in this country is being allowed untrammeled. “After the US, I thought I could work best here in India, because of its democracy, but the Chinese are on my tail all the time,” said an ASEAN diplomat.



Enemy at the gates
Chinese spies are everywhere, and we don’t seem to be scared.

25 November 2005: Following the prime minister, Manmohan Singh’s address to the combined military commanders’ conference, the Chinese spoke to the Russians, the South East Asians, Indian officials and Left contacts about their concerns. Typically, they did not reveal themselves, but gauged the reaction and responses of others. They understood, in the broadest terms, that the PM had spoken of a new emerging multipolar world, in which the United States had a special place, and that India had to recognise this reality.

The Chinese have been concerned about the growing Indian-US strategic partnership, commencing from the somewhat indiscreet and unnecessary disclosure by a senior visiting American official earlier this year, that the Bush administration was keen to see India as a great power. No state can make another a great power, this being dependent on various inherent strengths, including economic and military strength and political resilience, and a country’s own greatness, and second, beyond a point, no power would want competition, much less build up another to provide that competition. It is true, one great power can shore up another state as a buffer, an ally, or to provide competition to a strategic rival, but all this is very relative. Even if the Americans meant well, they alerted and angered the Chinese, who thence began the first of the serious snooping about emerging India-US relations.

Their concerns were further and greatly heightened by the 18-July Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, which they have subsequently tried their best to undermine. One is at the level of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group countries, where it is preventing a consensus for India’s admittance, banned since the 1974 nuclear test from receiving atomic fuels and related technologies, and at the second level, it has been prodding Pakistan to demand a similar parity from the US, knowing America will refuse, and despite Pakistan’s notorious proliferation record. Either by coincidence or design, the Left parties, especially those who have fraternal relations with China, part of the international Communist brotherhood, have opposed the 18 July agreement as well, but knowing their leverage to be limited, the Chinese have not relaxed their vigil, but raised it, and now, all aspects of Indian’s expanding relations, with the United States and others, is being watched hawkeyed.

Known to the Indian agencies, but apparently powerless to stop it, the Chinese have begun extensive espionage on India’s external interests. The Taiwanese, who usually do not get the time of day with Indian foreign office officials, who are frightened of offending the Chinese, are yet being tailed twenty-four hours a day round the year by the Chinese here. In lesser degree, the same is the case with the Japanese, the South Koreans, and others in South East Asia, including Vietnam. The fear of the Chinese is so acute that South Korea is being prevented from establishing closer military ties, although they are glad to be junior partners, and the Vietnamese are waiting without much hope for a strategic relationship.

All of ASEAN, but particularly Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, are troubled or terrified of Chinese expansionism. In South East Asia, over twenty-year-old Chinese plans to establish political and economic hegemony have borne fruit, and now, China is trying to press its military might there. The Chinese defence minister, Cao Gangchuan, when he was previously the army chief, had proposed Chinese force projection beyond the South China Sea, an unprecedented thinking in the PLA. This went ahead of the garland-of-pearls strategy, which is setting up forward military bases, like in the ports touching or easily accessible to the Indian Ocean, and the more immediate pressure of Cao Gangchuan’s thinking is being felt by the pro-West ASEAN states.

This is not the result of strategic competition within the region, Japan, which alone could have provided some competition to China, has gone into a shell, especially after its failure to enter the UN Security Council, and others are not in the same league. What China has attempted, and succeeded at partly, is to get hegemony over South East Asia, its own backyard, so to say, and then make the great leap forward, as a power to challenge the United States. This is nearly the route the United States took in the earlier phases of its rise to dominance, controlling the Americas, and the more serious and insightful American commentators are increasingly speaking of China as the default power in case the US does not overcome its blunders after 9/ 11.

Where India figures, is that China ranks it third among the troublesome powers, after the United States and European Union/ Russia, and ASEAN takes fourth place. To show opposition to China, both Thailand and Indonesia have sought Prithvi and BrahMos missiles (Intelligence, “Thailand, Indonesia seek BrahMos, Prithvi,” 23 November 2005), but India is undecided, fearful of the Chinese reaction. Several South East Asian states desire these missiles, but the Indian government is unable to take a stand, and there is also Left pressure on the Centre. The Indian military is pressing hardest for a full-scope defence engagement with South East Asia, the success of the Look East policy is predicated on this, but the Chinese scare comes in the way. It hardly speaks for our courage that Chinese espionage in this country is being allowed untrammeled. “After the US, I thought I could work best here in India, because of its democracy, but the Chinese are on my tail all the time,” said an ASEAN diplomat.

The loser, in this case, is India.

November 25, 2005

US Space warriors : Interview

Interview with General Lance W. Lord

Commander Air Force Space Command Ensuring Space Superiority and Secure Strategic Deterrence

General Lance W. Lord is commander, Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), Peterson Air Force Base, CO. He is responsible for the development, acquisition and operation of the Air Force’s space and missile systems.

Lord oversees a global network of satellite command and control, communications, missile warning and launch facilities, and ensures the combat readiness of America’s intercontinental ballistic missile force. He leads more than 39,700 space professionals who provide combat forces and capabilities to North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Strategic Command.

He entered the Air Force in 1969 as a graduate of the Otterbein College ROTC program. He completed a series of Air Staff and Department of Defense-level assignments in strategic missiles after serving four years of Minuteman II ICBM alert duty. He directed the Ground-Launched Cruise Missile Program Management Office in Europe. He was a military assistant to the director of net assessment with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and represented the Air Force as a research associate in international security affairs at Ohio State University.

Lord commanded two ICBM wings in Wyoming and North Dakota. In California, he commanded a space wing responsible for satellite launch and ballistic missile test launch operations. He served as director of plans and as vice commander for Headquarters Air Force Space Command. He led Air Force education and training as commandant of Squadron Officer School, commander of 2nd Air Force, commander of Air University and director of education for Air Education and Training Command. Prior to assuming his current position, Lord was the assistant vice chief of staff for Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

Lord was interviewed by MAT Editor Harrison Donnelly.

Q. How would you define “space superiority,” and what challenges do you see in maintaining it?

A: Space superiority means ensuring our ability to use space and provide space effects when and where required, while having the ability to deny enemy use of space if they are using it against us. The term space superiority should roll off our tongues just like air superiority.

Our enemies have seen space capabilities make us faster, more precise and more lethal than ever—and they will try to deny us that advantage. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam Hussein tried to take away our precision strike capability by jamming our GPS satellites. Then-Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche stated, “The war in space has begun.” And I’d add: “We didn’t start it.” We must defend our ability to use space. That’s called defensive counterspace.

Our adversaries have witnessed the military advantage we derive from space, and in future conflicts we must expect our adversaries to seek those same benefits for their own operations. We must be prepared to conduct offensive counterspace operations to counter their efforts.

The foundation of space superiority is space situation awareness, which means having a complete understanding of what is happening in space. We must have continuous situation awareness of both environmental effects and the actions of all nations in space to allow us to plan and act—not react.

While the impact on military operations of losing space superiority is clear, I think the impact on our economy and day-to-day life would be equally significant.

Losing space superiority will mean losing American lives. Space superiority is not our birthright, so we’ve got to work to make it our destiny.

The loss of an on-orbit spacecraft would have major impacts on our nation’s economy, which would be more far-reaching than most citizens realize. Can you imagine even a region of our country without the ability to access ATM machines, automatic gas pumps or without the precise position, navigation and timing information the Global Positioning System offers?

It’s important to remember it’s not just the United States that relies on space: it’s the entire world. We get global weather information from satellites and the world’s maritime commerce fleet navigates the seas using GPS. We communicate around the globe using satellite communications. The vast number of financial transactions worldwide depend upon the precise timing provided by satellites, including stock market trades and credit card purchases to name just a few. Take the timing signal from those satellites and money quits moving worldwide. Imagine the macroeconomic impact of losing space capabilities.

Space superiority is critical to our nation’s security and to the world’s security.

Q: How do you respond to concerns that the U.S. pursuit of space superiority will lead to the militarization of space?

A: I’d like to go back to what Secretary Rumsfeld said after announcing the implementation of the space commission, when he stated the United States’ commitment to the peaceful use of space by all nations. I believe we can keep that commitment, honor our treaty obligations and still maintain our space control capabilities and freedom of action in space. The problem is that many of our military’s critics immediately leap from the concept of space superiority to the idea that the United States plans to kinetically attack and indiscriminately destroy satellites.

But that perception is grossly misinformed and ignores the fact that our priorities for space superiority are: 1.) space situation awareness; 2.) defensive counterspace; and, as a last resort, 3.) offensive counterspace, which focuses on temporary, reversible effects … not kinetic kill measures. In summary, we are committed to maintaining free use of space, but we must be prepared to prevent use of space by others if it threatens our national security. The cost of being unprepared is simply too great.

Q: How would you characterize the U.S. military strategy in space, as laid out in the Air Force Transformation Flight Plan and other documents in the past year, and how does the work of the AFSPC fit into that strategy?

A: It is important to examine our space strategy, including the documents you and others in the media have mentioned recently [the Air Force Transformation Flight Plan and the Counterspace Operations doctrine in particular] in the context of overall national security strategy. Space control is one piece of the entire national security effort. As with all national security efforts, it will be conducted within the framework of Deterrence; Warning, and then, if necessary; defending against or countering hostile attack.

AFSPC space strategy is to ensure freedom of action in space for the United States and its allies and, when directed, to deny our adversaries freedom of action in space. AFSPC’s role in this strategy is the acquisition, development, fielding, exercise, operation and support of Air Force space and counterspace capabilities and systems. As such, it is incumbent on AFSPC to explore a wide range of possible capabilities and systems that will enable us to deny our adversaries the advantages gained from space that could be used in a manner hostile to the United States, our citizens, or our national interests.

Q: Are you seeking space supremacy or space dominance, which some warn could be militarily destabilizing?

A: What we are seeking, plain and simple, is freedom of action in space for ourselves and our allies. We want to protect U.S. and friendly space systems and prevent an adversary from using space in such a way that would be hostile to U.S. national security interests. That in no way means we are seeking to deny anyone the peaceful use of space.

Q: In addition to protecting U.S. space assets, what offensive capabilities is the Air Force seeking against the space assets of hostile nations?

A: In September 2004, the Air Force declared operational a new system—the Counter Communication System (CCS)—which is a ground-based, deployable system designed to disrupt satellite-based communications using temporary and reversible methods. CCS is a perfect example of our current focus on ground-based systems that use reversible, nondestructive means to temporarily deny use of space systems that are being used in a hostile manner against us. In fact, DoD space control policy states that the preferred U.S. approach to negating space systems or services hostile to U.S. national security interests is such reversible, nondestructive denial.

Q. There is a substantial amount of work going on in the military space arena. What are your priorities for Air Force Space Command in the coming year?

A: I like to use the phrase, “Mission first, but people always.” Our goals remain unchanged. We have the most advanced weapons systems and technology in the world, but those systems do not develop, maintain or operate themselves. Our people are what truly sets us apart from the rest of the world and make us the greatest air and space power in the world.

We simply could not accomplish our mission without the day-to-day contributions from the nearly 40,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilians in Air Force Space Command, so one of our overarching goals is to take care of our people and ensure their professional development and quality of life.

Our second overarching goal is to achieve mission success in operations and acquisitions. In order for the United States to maintain its position as the greatest air and space power in the world, we must continue to be successful in current operations and we must build our capabilities for the future. To accomplish that, we have set three specific priorities for the coming year:

Our number-one priority is to continue our emphasis on ensuring space superiority and providing desired combat effects for joint warfighting.

Space has always been a key piece of our national security, but only since Operation Desert Storm have we seen space impact the battlefield at the operational and tactical levels. Today, space effects are a critical piece of military operations, so we must ensure we can provide space effects on the battlefield when and where required.

Our second priority is to maintain a safe and secure strategic deterrent capability and provide means for prompt global strike.

In the last few years, much of our military effort has concentrated on regional conflicts, such as the Balkans, and the global war on terror. While those types of operations have garnered the headlines and much of our effort, it’s important to remember the strategic threat to the United States has not gone away. It’s critical that we maintain a viable strategic deterrence force and we must ensure we don’t get so focused on Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terror that we lose sight of strategic deterrence.

Priority number three is continuing efforts to develop cost-effective assured access to space.

As the importance of space continues to grow, we must improve our ability to put satellites into space. We must develop launch methods that are cheaper, more reliable and quicker. Just as the battlefield becomes more dynamic, space must follow. Initiatives such as Joint Warfighting Space would provide dedicated, responsive space assets to regional combatant commanders, but in order to do that we must be able to reach space quickly, affordably and reliably. We should strive to make space launches no more remarkable than an airplane taking off from a runway.

Q: In what ways are space-based assets critical to winning the war against terrorism?

A: In fighting our nation’s global war on terrorism, space has allowed us to trade the military principle of mass for speed and accuracy. The capabilities and effects we provide from and through space are an enormous advantage to our American and coalition forces. We are able to find targets more quickly and use precision attack to maximize our combat effects on the battlefield, which shortens the “kill chain,” while at the same time reducing collateral damage to civilian lives and property.

When you integrate space into our military operations on the ground, in the air or on the sea, you significantly increase combat effectiveness while decreasing the number of American and coalition troops you put in harm’s way.

Thanks to space, our forces are able to move faster and fight smarter and more precisely. Those are keys to success in any war, but particularly in the type of unconventional counterinsurgency operations we’re conducting in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world in the global war on terrorism.

Q: What is the AFSPC doing to modernize and strengthen the nation’s strategic deterrence capability?

A: As Chief of Staff of the Air Force General John P. Jumper likes to say, “Our ICBMs provide the ‘top cover’ for our forces deployed worldwide.” Our ICBMs are just as important today as they were at the height of the Cold War. The face of the enemy has changed, but the threat remains.

The Minuteman III is the most reliable and affordable component of the strategic triad, but it is aging. We are currently replacing both the missile guidance set and the propulsion systems in our Minuteman III forces. We’re counting on these modernizations to carry us to about 2020. We are also starting a formal analysis this year to look into the follow-on capabilities needed for land-based strategic deterrence beyond 2020 as well.

Q: What is the current status of the Land Based Strategic Deterrence Analysis of Alternatives, and what do you see as the major steps this year?

A: The Land Based Strategic Defense (LBSD) Analysis of Alternatives study is on track to publish a final report at the end of fiscal 2005. The study is currently being worked with AFSPC to ensure we completely scrub the issue and come up with the best options.

As our Minuteman III fleet ages, it’s critical to identify some type of long-term replacement or modernization program to ensure the United States maintains a viable strategic deterrent force well into the future. Our ICBM force has been, and remains, the stalwart of our strategic deterrence force.

We’re in the process of deactivating our 50 Peacekeeper missiles at F.E. Warren AFB, but we should not mistake that drawdown for meaning ICBMs are no longer important; nothing could be further from the truth. We believe our Minuteman III force is sufficient to provide credible strategic deterrence, but the deactivation of Peacekeeper only increases the importance of Minuteman and, in the future, LBSD.

Q: What is the relationship between your command and USSTRATCOM, and do you foresee any organizational changes that could improve effectiveness in this vital area?

A: The chief of staff of the Air Force recently directed AFSPC to assume the role as the single Air Force service component to USSTRATCOM. The role of the service component is to provide forces to the combatant commander, or a designated subordinate component commander, to use in executing the mission.

Historically, there have been two AF service components to USSTRATCOM: AFSPC, which provides ICBMs and satellites, and Air Combat Command (ACC), which provides bombers, ISR and information operations assets. In order to streamline presentation of forces to USSTRATCOM, we’re working to identify an entity to serve as the single Air Force component to USSTRATCOM. We’re working with ACC and USSTRATCOM to decide who will serve as the service component commander and then to iron out responsibilities and determine how the relationship will work between the two MAJCOMs.

In addition to the service component, AFSPC is working with USSTRATCOM and ACC to establish a functional joint space and global strike component to USSTRATCOM. USSTRATCOM is moving to a functional component construct in which the commander of USSTRATCOM will assign warfighting responsibilities to functional component commanders, who will be responsible for a particular mission area, similar to the way regional combatant commanders divide responsibilities among land, maritime, air and special operations component commanders. We are also working to develop a joint functional component construct that would establish a joint space and global strike component commander, with an attendant Air Operations Center and staff.

We’ve been given the lead on both pieces of the componency, but ACC and its subordinate units also play a critical role in developing the new construct.

The third role of AFSPC is as a major command in the Air Force. In that capacity, we are responsible for organizing, training and equipping the Air Force space forces. Responsibilities in that area include administrative control, programming for and acquiring systems and ensuring forces are properly trained to perform their mission.

Q: How do you see the concept of “componency” contributing to improved Air Force space operations?
A: Space systems are global in nature, and most can have a worldwide effect. Creating a single Air Force service component to USSTRATCOM will streamline presentation of Air Force forces to USSTRATCOM, giving the commander of USSTRATCOM a single point of contact to handle operational control issues.

Creating a single, joint functional space component with global responsibility will allow us to balance requests for support from theaters around the world and ensure we are maximizing the use of limited assets to support all operations.

Componency will help centralize the many disparate space elements and efforts within the department of defense. Establishing a single space component will ensure we have a senior general officer focusing on space planning, employment and integration, without being forced to divide his attention to other issues. Additionally, space and global strike responsibilities will be very tightly coupled, which will ensure complete integration between the global strike and space mission areas, which are naturally complementary.

Q: How should space capabilities be integrated into the planning and execution of future military operations?

A: In the past, we have done a fair job of integrating space into operations, but it was mostly an afterthought. We planned the majority of the operation and then looked to see where space fit in. That method of planning does not allow us to take full advantage of the benefits space effects provide. Space has become a keystone in every military operation. The complex nature of space demands that we devote adequate time and resources to ensuring we have fully thought out space employment in military operations, and that requires prior planning. In the past, most space planning was done in the crisis planning and execution phases of operations. We’ve got to do better than that; we must fully integrate space during the deliberate planning process.

As the joint functional space component stands up, it will assume much of that planning responsibility for global space assets, but the regional combatant commanders must also conduct significant deliberate planning for space to ensure they are maximizing the utility of the effects we can provide them. We’ve got space experts assigned to every combatant command, and air component responsibility for ensuring space is included in planning, but it’s an enormous task, so it really requires a team effort between those who are assigned to the combatant commands and personnel assigned to AFSPC and USSTRATCOM.

Q: What have been the key achievements so far in implementing the space professional strategy, and what are the most significant challenges you have faced in doing so?

A: We’ve had a number of achievements that we are particularly proud of in the space professional development arena.

As I stated earlier, the most valuable asset we have in the Air Force is our people, so it’s important to ensure we are providing them with the proper training and we are assigning them to jobs that will make the most of their unique experience. To that end, we’ve developed a tracking system to identify our space professionals and track their education and experience. That system will help us ensure we’re giving our people the right training to help them grow and that we’re making the most of our most valuable resource.

To provide the required training and broadening, last year we stood up the National Security Space Institute (NSSI) and signed a memorandum of understanding with a consortium of civilian colleges and universities to develop an advanced, specialized space program to further the expertise of our space professionals. Additionally, we have moved out aggressively on many of the space courses the NSSI offers, including the “Space in the AOC” course, which prepares space operators to deploy to Air Operations Centers, and the “Space 200” course, which provides mid-level space professional development to our space personnel. Our staff at the NSSI is working hard to develop a “Space 300” course to provide advanced space professional development, and we hope to have the prototype for that course ready by October of this year.

We’re particularly proud of the fact that while AFSPC runs NSSI, our student base consists of students from all four military services and NASA. In fact, when I spoke to the most recent “Space in the AOC” course, we had a major from the Marine Corps as a student and he felt as though the course had made him a much more effective warfighter because of the knowledge he gained on space capabilities.

“This course has taken me from zero to dangerous [to our enemies],” he said. We dedicate a significant number of student slots to the other military services, as well as NASA. Our partnership is particularly strong with the Army, which has made an NSSI course part of the formal training for some of their space personnel and we recently added two Army instructors to our staff at NSSI. As we continue to integrate space across all mediums of operations, the importance of creating space experts in all services will only grow. We expect to broaden the student base to include other government agencies that require space education.

Another professional development initiative we’re extremely proud of is the new space badge, which we announced back in October. Our space professionals are a unique blend of operators, engineers, scientists and acquisition professionals, with each playing a critical role in our space mission. We all play a key role in space operations and space superiority, but we all wear different badges. By instituting a new, common space badge to be earned by all space professionals, we unite what was previously a fragmented community. Some of the specifics of our jobs are different, but when you really get down to it, our jobs are fundamentally the same, so we should all wear the same badge.

Developing the Near Frontier ,between 65,000 feet and 325,000 feet

Developing the Near Frontier

One of the most promising regions of the high frontier is near-space, which is located between 65,000 feet and 325,000 feet.

By Technical Sergeant Jennifer Thibault

As Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) furthers its utilization of the high frontier, it’s looking for persistence that doesn’t have to reside quite so far out of this world. The command is focusing on developing programs that will operate in the near-space region, which is located between 65,000 feet and 325,000 feet.

The driving force behind the exploration of near-space programs is feedback from combatant commanders on space capabilities. In theater, combatant commanders say space capabilities need to be more tailored and responsive to meet their needs. In response, General John Jumper, then Air Force chief of staff, directed AFSPC to start looking at joint warfighter space (JWS) initiatives, including near-space projects.

Jumper assigned AFSPC the responsibility for executing all tactical and operational responsive space capabilities through the space and the near-space mediums. “JWS takes the next step in transforming capabilities by operationalizing space directly to the benefit of the warfighter with an agile, responsive, commander-oriented, combat space vision focused primarily at the tactical and operational levels of war, but able to integrate with the [National Security Space] architecture,” he stated.

The initiative requires space warfighters to integrate space-based capabilities in the tactical and operational levels of war in direct support of the joint force commander. The command anticipates meeting this near-term need with responsive near-space platforms operating communication and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads. AFSPC will take immediate action to create warfighting capabilities that improve effects and situational awareness on today’s battlefield.

“With our current space capabilities, it’s not that the information isn’t available; it’s just that relevant battlespace awareness doesn’t always reach our forces,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ed Herlik, who is with the AFSPC Joint Warfighter Space division. “With near space, we believe we can provide persistence, payload and deterrence.”

An in-theater example sighted by combatant commanders is that blue forces on the ground using line-of-sight radio communications are limited to a footprint of approximately five to seven nautical miles. One of the near space projects currently in the demonstration phase uses communication relay to extend the range of those radios out to nearly 300 nautical miles.

The capability would have a wide range of applications, such as close air support. Today, during close air support missions, the joint tactical air controller (JTAC) transmits information from a ground radio, which may then be funneled through other aircraft before it reaches the strike aircraft. The demonstrated near-space capabilities can provide communication relay, allowing the JTAC to give the briefing to the aircraft well over the horizon, thus decreasing the time the aircraft would have been in range of enemy fire.

“[Near space capability] will provide dedicated communication where it’s currently nonexistent,” said Lieutenant Colonel Toby Volz, chief of the Joint Warfighting Space division. “We can provide communication to folks in theater to use when and where it’s needed. It’s directly in the hands of the warfighter.”

Although near-space project development has been previously unexplored by the military, civilians have been making use of it for more than a year. Commercially developed platforms have been used in Texas and Oklahoma to provide information on gas and oil sites throughout the states.

“Platform operations in near space can give space-like effects without a lot of the space disadvantages,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ed Tomme, deputy director, Air Force Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities.

Some of those disadvantages are that low-earth-orbiting systems can’t loiter above one spot, and satellite programs are expensive and generally have a long lead time before capabilities are realized.

“Near-space items in the future will be able to provide persistence for days, weeks and even months,” added Tomme.

Sky-High Communications

A more robust communications infrastructure is key to the success of a Global Strike Task Force, Air Force officials have stated.

This includes the capabilities for increased communications coverage, targeting data, location information, mapping files and imagery. The need to be able to quickly deploy forces from the continental United States to some overseas battle areas also requires communications, and command and control infrastructures that can be assembled in a minimum amount of time.

As the world threat has evolved, so has the military’s requirement for having a communications platform that can be easily deployed with little notice and on an as-needed and where-needed basis. Space Data Corp.’s (SDC) military system, dubbed the Combat SkySat Platform, has evolved to meet these demands and the ever-changing security threat our country faces.

The Combat SkySat Platform is basically an adaptation of SDC’s commercial SkySite Platform, an aerial wireless communications network. It enables two-way voice and data communications in geographic regions that are poorly served by existing wireless technologies and services. The SkySite Network simply lifts wireless transceivers into the stratosphere (somewhere between 80,000 feet and 130,000 feet) using industrial balloons to allow low- to medium-rate two-way data communications across a wide area. Although weather balloons have provided critical meteorological data to weather stations worldwide for more than 60 years, SDC was the first to adapt this simple yet reliable concept for commercial communication services.

SDC’s Combat SkySat Program, initiated by an Air Force Space Battlelab contract, was designed to demonstrate the ability of a balloon-borne repeater to extend radio communications beyond the line of sight. The Combat SkySat System was tested in the UHF band using AM and FM modulation schemes. Voice testing incorporated analog and digital transmission methods, and the digital voice tests used both secure and nonsecure links. These tests used military hand-held radios, PRC-148 urban-variant.

PRC-148 radios typically offer a seven- to 10-mile range on the ground. Testing in Arizona with the Air Force showed that the Combat SkySat Repeater System increased range up to 400 miles. In addition, successful tests were accomplished that allowed ground troops direct communications with pilots in the air.

The increased range of communications is not the only advantage of using the Combat SkySat Platform. The launching of a SkySat payload requires only one person per launch. The payloads can be launched and controlled from any field location and for just about any tactical mission.

COTS and currently available military hand-held radios can interoperate with SkySat communication applications. SkySat platforms also offer relatively low-altitude imaging capabilities previously only possible with aircraft-based or satellite-based capabilities. The integration of inexpensive and commercial imaging products can be used for SkySat imaging applications.

The relatively low cost Combat SkySat Platform offers numerous command, control, communications, intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities that can greatly assist our forces both at home and abroad with threat assessment and gathering and disseminating vital information. Since the SkySat infrastructure already has command and control capabilities, just about any terrestrial communications technology can be adapted for use on a SkySat Platform. The system is able to maintain altitudes of up to 130,000 feet carrying platforms weighing as much as 30 pounds. Although satellite communications can provide the warfighter with the necessary coverage, they were not designed or built with the new threats we face every day in mind.

In these days of budget concerns and weapons system cost increases, it is a major victory that a low-cost, easily deployable and sustainable communications capability is available to help today’s warfighter.

Heidi Alvarado Mahoney is deputy program manager for Space Data Corp.

Special Operations :Profile and Tools of Surefire, LLC :

Interview with Dr. John W. Matthews

Dr. John W. Matthews is the founder and president of SureFire. He holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. A staunch supporter of America’s armed forces, Matthews directs SureFire’s engineering efforts with the specific goal of creating the very best products for the warfighter, based on operator input, using the finest materials and most advanced technology. SureFire is a California-based manufacturing company of special-purpose illumination tools, weapon-mounted tactical lights, Picatinny-specification rifle forends, sound suppressors, laser sights and edged weapons.

Q: Could you give the SOTECH reader an overview of your company?

A: SureFire is a unique company with an unusual approach. We believe in supplying those who go in harm’s way with the very best products to help them prevail in a combative encounter. Consequently, we build to a performance standard, not a price point. We simply build the very best tactical products.

Q: How long has SureFire been doing business with the military and government programs?

A: Beginning more than 20 years ago, SureFire has pioneered a number of significant breakthroughs in tactical products which we have supplied to the U.S. military and law enforcement communities, including laser sights, flashlights, weapon lights and sound suppressors. For instance, our new Scout Light—the lightest and most compact weapon-mounted light for an M4 carbine—is a result of product evolution that began with our 6P Original more than 20 years ago.

Q: There are other companies in the market that provide similar products and services. What makes SureFire unique?

A: First, we engineer our military products specifically to meet the needs of actual warfighters. We listen to the operators and build our products based on their input. Many times our competitors simply adapt a commercial product to military use, a product that was originally designed to meet some price point in the consumer market. Our products, on the other hand, are strictly driven by performance requirements of the operators. A good example is our HellFire light for the .50 BMG heavy machine gun which we made at the request of U.S. Army Special Forces to fit on their Humvee-mounted guns. It has been very effective in Iraq and served as an important improvement to their force protection in thwarting night ambushes.

Q: How is SureFire continuing to stay on top of the ever changing requirements of this community as we fight the war on terrorism?

A: We continue to pioneer new technologies and develop new solutions to give those who go in harm’s way a tactical advantage. We employ over 40 engineers, roughly one for every 10 employees. We spend considerable resources on research and development of things like high-intensity discharge light sources and ever lighter, more accurate sound suppressors. We’re simply committed to our mission of giving the warfighter the very best products.

Q: What are your plans for the future of SureFire?

A: We won’t sit still. Constant improvement, constant innovation and constant development of new technologies. If you think our SureFire lights and weapon lights are impressive today, wait until you see what’s around the corner. We have several exciting products in the final development stage, such as a helmet mounted, jump-certified light for airborne use, and a new combat optical sight for the Browning M2 heavy machine gun. Additionally, we have made a major breakthrough in noise-protection and communications equipment with a compact hearing protection device. One version is passive and is designed for vehicle-mounted troops, allowing them to communicate but also reducing the most harmful noise-damage from gunfire to a safe level. We also have an active device—a digital hearing interface—that allows radio communication while also eliminating noise-induced hearing loss from gunfire or other loud noises. We call it EarPro.

Q: What are some of the key products you are supplying to the SOF community?

A: Right now we’re equipping the special forces community with weapon-mounted lights, handheld lights and sound suppressors. We’re very excited about our new shorty suppressor for the M4 carbine which is the smallest and lightest sound suppressor on the market, yet it’s inherently accurate and durable. Best of all, it features minimal zero-shift from suppressed to unsuppressed fire and repeats zero when removed and reattached. An elite anti-terrorism unit in Europe recently concluded an exhaustive test of both European and American-made suppressors and the SureFire shorty was the overall winner. We have the best attachment means, a fast-attach lockup that allows the operator to attach or detach the suppressor in less than three seconds—and retain his zero! This elite unit proved our zero-retention and fast-attach lockup in their test. Additionally, the accuracy of the SureFire suppressor was better than any other candidate.

Of course we continue to supply our weapon-mounted lights with infrared filters to combat troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. Everyone at SureFire shares my pride in knowing that our tactical lights have contributed significantly in the war on terrorism.

SLEEP : Special operators’ capabilities and cognitive skills

Stay Awake and Alert

Sleep, or better yet, the lack of it, can deeply impair a special operators’ capabilities and cognitive skills. Other than sleep, are there any solutions?

By Cheryl Gerber

The mobile operational pace of today challenges warfighters at ever higher speeds in extreme environments of heat, cold, altitude, pressure and oxygen concentrations, sometimes under multiple conditions concurrently. While people can adjust to some of these conditions, full adaptation can take weeks longer than special operators can spare. Meanwhile, military research has shown that fatigue normally begins in humans after 18 to 20 hours without sleep, leading then to performance degradation.

To test the efficacy of pharmaceutical remedies, military research programs have conducted ongoing methodical scientific studies that reach beyond those required for FDA approval to include the extreme conditions of special operations.

After rigorous military testing, the Air Force Surgeon General’s office approved five fatigue countermeasures for temporary use. Dexedrine and Modafinil have been approved as alertness aids while Ambien, Restoril and Sonata have been approved as sleep aids.

Aviation sustained operation studies conducted from 1992-2003 tested fatigued pilots on placebo, Dexedrine and Provigil, the trade name for Modafinil. The double blind (meaning neither researcher nor subject knew who got what) controlled studies kept pilots awake continuously for 40 hours. “We repeatedly tested their ability to fly a flight simulator and complete cognitive or computerized mental tasks and we assessed their mood to determine self-ratings of how they felt,” said John Caldwell, principal research psychologist for the Fatigue Countermeasures Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright Patterson.

Under placebo, the researchers observed large increases in flight control errors, people falling into micro sleeps and forgetting instructions about the maneuver they were supposed to fly. Reaction time deteriorated and subjects failed to respond to simulated warning lights and dials. They were also unable to track targets well on the computer. In addition, they complained of being fatigued, sleepy, confused and less confident. This began to occur after they had been awake for 18 to 20 hours and became most severe after 22 to 29 hours of continuous wakefulness.

“Any time you are pushing human capability beyond what we were designed to do, then you will have a fatigue problem,” Caldwell said. On the other hand, those who were given Dexedrine and Provigil maintained flight performance almost at well-rested levels throughout the entire sleep deprivation period. The drugs prevented the majority of micro sleeps, minimized errors on the cognitive task, and significantly reduced self-reported mood and fatigue problems.

Caldwell also conducted a study on Ambien with his wife, a researcher at the AFRL, examining three conditions: a nap with a placebo, a nap with Ambien and a rest period watching television or reading. “Once they woke up from the nap, we tracked their performance. We found that the people who got rest only were in the worst shape. The people who got the Ambien nap were in the best shape because they went to sleep longer and slept better. The people who got the placebo nap were better than the rest-only people but not as good as the Ambien nap people,” Caldwell said. “And we didn’t find any hangover effect from the Ambien,” he added.


In collaboration with AFSOC, AFRL completed two double blind, placebo-controlled studies with Modafinil simulating survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) and special tactics (ST) operations. “The primary objective was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Modafinil in actual operational personnel in as close to an operational environment as possible—with the same sleep deprivation, cognitive environmental and physical stresses,” said Major Brandon Doan, chief of the Human Performance Division at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. At the time these two studies were conducted, Major Doan was chief of the Fatigue Countermeasures Branch in San Antonio, TX.

To reach this goal, operational SERE and ST personnel assisted AFRL researchers in designing the experiments. The SERE study included 20 SERE personnel in a 65-hour, 22-mile simulated escape and evasion scenario in which participants slept for a total of six hours. The ST study was a 75-hour limited-rest exercise in which participants remained awake for 50 straight hours, slept for two, then were awake for another 25 hours. While the SERE study included night land navigation, the ST participants underwent many physical stresses such as maximal exercise, three-mile runs, etc. They also performed air traffic control, communications link setups, medical diagnosis and care, and live small arms fire.

In both the SERE and ST studies, Modafinil was well-tolerated by AF personnel with minimal side effects and it sustained cognitive, mood and physical performance mildly better than placebo conditions. “The results of the studies have been transitioned to the AFSOC surgeon general’s office for consideration of an operational policy for Modafinil in SERE and ST operations,” said Doan.

Executive Functioning

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Silver Spring, MD, has looked at how sleep deprivation affects cognitive performance in people undergoing chronic restricted or total sleep loss. “We know that sleep deprivation decreases metabolism in the area of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex,” explained Nancy Wesensten, supervisory scientist and researcher at WRAIR. “The whole brain is deactivated by sleep deprivation but that area is more deactivated than any other area of the brain. This is the same area that governs executive functioning, the higher order cognitive functions. Therefore, sleep deprivation impairs executive functioning,” she said.

“Measuring executive functions can be difficult because some of these are one-time tasks. Yet executive functions are the most operationally relevant,” Wesensten continued. Walter Reed researchers are developing new methods of testing executive functions to discover the scope of what is affected by sleep deprivation using computer programs and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines with imaging techniques that look at how the brain is functional in real time.

Operational World

Outside of the research lab and into reality, drinking a cup of coffee is not an option for pilots in tight quarters without a bathroom or Navy forces doing standing watch with no bathroom breaks. And taking a sleep inducing agent like Ambien or Lunesta is also not always appropriate. “The problem for military operations is that if a person takes a sleep inducing agent and then has to be awakened and perform before the drug is out of the person’s system, cognitive performance will be impaired,” she said.

As with most drugs, there are side effects. The primary side effects of Dexedrine and Modafinil are increased heart rate and blood pressure. And both drugs adversely affect recovery sleep by making it less restful.

Some operational environments can opt to make use of a sleep aid to remedy the poor sleep side effect of taking Dexedrine. It’s up to the flight surgeon, the unit commander and the pilot working together to decide how and when to use approved medications. Controlled studies using alertness enhancers to keep people awake immediately followed by sleep enhancers to keep them asleep are now underway but have not yet been completed, Caldwell noted.

Some special operations forces prefer non-pharmaceutical remedies when they can provide the same benefits as pharmaceuticals without the side effects. One performance nutritional supplement, Full Force Focus Intensity Formula, will be available starting in October of this year.

“Full Force provides a lot of the same benefits as the pharmaceutical products without the unwanted side effects, said Scott Wolff, training coordinator for Trident Concepts, LLC, a special operations training provider in Prescott, AZ. “Full Force has been field tested by special operations forces in Iraq, Afghanistan as well as the U.S. and the feedback has been positive,” he said.

“We encourage our clients to consider Full Force as a viable option,” said Jeff Gonzales, a former Navy SEAL and director of training at Trident Concepts. “I can’t always count on what quality of food I’ll have when I’m traveling so nutritional supplements are important to me,” he said.

In the past, Gonzales has tried over-the-counter stimulants to counter sleep deprivation, but he would not get a full night’s sleep or his sleep would be disturbed after taking these products. “I want to minimize the amount of negative side effects. I haven’t had any problem sleeping after taking Full Force. It doesn’t exceed my limits. It just enhances my limits,” he said. Recently back from Afghanistan, a Special Forces sergeant concurred, “Full Force truly enhanced our ability to perform at our very best. The experience was positive, unlike other products where there is a crash at the wrong time—not that there is any right time in our business.”

Developed by Phillips Performance Nutrition with the assistance of Will Brink, a respected consultant to various pharmaceutical companies and sports science organizations, Full Force consists of an FDA-approved proprietary blend of green tea extract, L-tyrosine (an amino acid), four antioxidants and caffeine. Full Force was developed as a result of a research project conducted with operators from the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and a West coast-based Navy SEAL team.

While epidemiological studies have been conducted proving the efficacy of Vitamins C and E, other nutritional supplements have yet to be tested. Consequently, military scientists are hesitant to endorse them. Unlike drugs, supplements have no clear regulatory status. “We want to see if there’s a scientific consensus based on legitimate objective studies that something is effective or ineffective,” said Dr. Harris Lieberman, Military Nutrition Division of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

“I don’t have any doubt that supplements are widely used throughout the military but the problem is they haven’t been tested in placebo-controlled studies,” said Caldwell.

Working on future sleep deprivation solutions, the DARPA Defense Sciences Office (DSO)-funded research at the University of Wisconsin that resulted in genetically manipulated strains of fruit flies that require less sleep to function. Researchers are working now to identify the genes and molecules providing this function in order to develop next generation pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects.

“The future drugs will have fewer side effects because much of what we use now is very general. The molecules we discover will act as specific targets within the nervous system that are just related to sleep,” explained Dr. Amy Kruse, Preventing Sleep Deprivation program manager at DARPA DSO.

Research at the University of Wisconsin has demonstrated that fruit flies sleep and need sleep in much the same way as humans and other mammals do. The same genes involved in regulating sleep in fruit flies are found throughout the animal kingdom and in humans as well.

In follow-on work from the fruit fly studies, DARPA research with the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and UCLA is studying sea mammals such as dolphins and seals, which have the ability to rest half their brain at a time while they keep swimming. They regulate sleep by switching between the halves of their brain in a process called uni-hemispheric sleep. “We are trying to figure out how they do it,” Kruse explained.

For a few more years, special operations forces will likely continue to use nutritional supplements and the tried and tested remedies approved by the surgeon general’s office. “But a few years from now, we will be able to develop better molecules and better medication to help combat sleep deprivation,” Kruse said.

International Special Operations Forces - Netherlands

Coordination between special forces are necessary to combat the global threat of terrorism. Special forces from Greece, Lithuania and the Netherlands—all within SOCEUR’s area of responsibility—are key partners.

NL Special Forces consist of Army Special Forces, the so-called Korps Commando Troepen (KCT), a battalion-sized unit, and of Special Forces from the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (SFMARNS). In July 2000 the NL CHOD stated that KCT would be responsible for land-oriented special operations (to include counterterrorism (CT) in hostile environments) and SFMARNS would be responsible for maritime or amphibious special operations and for national counterterrorism.

NL Special Forces are currently participating in operations in Afghanistan with a joint task group. The NL SFTG is composed of a NL Army Special Forces company, two SF teams of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps and a RNLAF CH-47 detachment. This NL SFTG will be in Afghanistan until spring 2006 and works for a coalition CJSOTF.


Within the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (RNLMC), there are two units that are special operations forces, organized within the Combat Support Battalion. The first unit is the 1st Company SFMARNS or the Bijzondere Bijstand Eenheid (BBE). This unit was created in 1973. It is the national counterterrorist unit and is tasked by the Secretary of Justice in the event of hostage situations and other complex terrorist situations including maritime counterterrorism (MCT). The BBE is very well equipped and trained and is at very high readiness to execute CT missions.

The BBE is well known for its hostage rescue operations in 1977, conducting simultaneous operations on a train and at a school. Both locations were occupied by Moluccan terrorists. Every other year the BBE organizes an international CT exercise, called Black Tulip.

The second unit is the 2nd Company SFMARNS, or the long-range reconnaissance company. Within this company there are two very specialized units, the mountain leader reconnaissance platoon (MLVERKPEL) and the amphibious reconnaissance platoon (AMFVERKPEL), also known as 7th Troop NL SBS. This company is capable of conducting special operations (MC 437), projected from a maritime or amphibious environment, using submarines as a launching platform, for example. In addition, 7th Troop NL SBS would support the BBE in the event of a MCT task.

The Marines of SFMARNS have been deployed on several missions in the past couple of years. In 1997, Marines, supported by Army commandos, arrested two war criminals in Bosnia. In 1999, Marines conducted Joint Commissioned Observer tasks in Bosnia, together with Army commandos. In 2002/2003, Marines participated in a Joint Task Group, standing by for CT operations in Macedonia. In 2003/2004, SFMARNS provided field liaison teams in support of RNLMC battalions in Iraq. Recently, SFMARNS conducted a special operation in Bosnia in order to arrest a war criminal. Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the BBE was deployed to Amsterdam and Rotterdam to conduct counterterrorism operations.

In the near future, SFMARNS will participate in NRF 6 with a small NL SOTG, working for a USSOCEUR-led CJSOTF.

The Future

NL Special Forces are a unique set of tools in the NL Ministry of Defence toolbox and have proved to be a force multiplier in recent years and in a variety of missions. In December 2004, the NL CHOD released a study on NL Special Forces, indicating that the role of Special Forces will increase in the Netherlands’ foreign and military policy. NL MoD has allotted funds within the next two years or so to improve land and waterborne mobility (SOF vehicles and RHIBs), SOF communications systems and SF fits and ancillaries for the CH-47s.

Article by N-SPECOPS Command.

International Special Operations Forces - Lithuania

Coordination between special forces are necessary to combat the global threat of terrorism. Special forces from Greece, Lithuania and the Netherlands—all within SOCEUR’s area of responsibility—are key partners.

Lithuanian Special Operations Forces’ (LITHSOF) roots date back to 1944 when Lithuania started armed resistance against the Soviet regime. The tactics used by resistance fighters were the same ones used by SOF today–i.e. raids, unconventional warfare, clandestine ops, etc. Modern LITHSOF started in 1995 from a small counterterrorism (CT) unit, which by 2004 expanded into the special operations forces of now, under one command.

In the Lithuanian armed forces structure, LITHSOF is a separate type of force, at the same level together with Army, Navy and Air Force. The formation directions given in 2001, along with the dedication, professionalism and motivation of those men and women of LITHSOF, made it the highest readiness, professional, top-tier force in Lithuania. Its unique structure and combat formation, with a flexible task organization of unit structure, variable in size and equipment depending on mission, helped LITHSOF conduct combat operations in support of OEF for 25 months continuously.

Currently LITHSOF is capable of conducting continuous-rotation expeditionary ops deployment, while at the same time having a squadron for the CT response inside the country if necessary. Though it is not the primary CT force for criminal situations inside Lithuania, it will take over in situations like NEO, HR of the Lithuanian citizens in crisis regions. LITHSOF is also the country’s main response force for maritime CT or interdiction in Lithuanian waters in the Baltic Sea. LITHSOF is also fully capable of conducting joint NATO maritime counterterrorist activities if necessary.

One of the LITHSOF truths says: “… the man is more important than hardware…” The reality proves that again. Even the most sophisticated equipment will be worthless without the well-trained operator who sometimes costs a dozen times more to maintain at the appropriate level. Investing in the operators is one of the most important issues for LITHSOF nowadays. A lot of men and women undergo intensive courses in communications, IT systems, different maintenance training as well as English language training.

As for equipment, Lithuanian SOF run their own research, evaluation and development cell that has as a primary task: to look at a new technology, evaluate it and, if it is worthwhile, install in the whole force as necessary. The reality is that, due to relatively small budget, it is vital to prioritize necessary equipment. Very often simple phrases like “need that,” “want that” and “would like to have that” do a lot to help. It is also very important to obtain the top technologies available for a reasonable price. For example, LITHSOF has just recently started to install the MBITR/TACSAT radios (PRC-148s and PRC-117Fs) after a very thorough and detailed study because it was the most cost effective. The same is true with all the other equipment vital for the missions: SIGINT, thermal imaging, UAVs, body armor, etc.

Another challenge is to make operators able to combine the capabilities of the equipment they wield with their skills and, most importantly, improvise and keep everything “stupid simple.”

Recent warfare, like GWOT, showed that the determining factor of success in the multinational operations is the coalition countries’ SOF ability to fight together on the front lines in the first days of the campaign. One of the most important lessons learned from joint coalition warfare was to evaluate the ability of the troops to conduct joint operations before going to combat operations. Before deployments, every commander must always be sure that every single one of his soldiers is operating at an adequate level and understands what he is going to face. All of the shortfalls of certain skills, joint preparation or equipment necessary for the joint coalition SOF should be identified as soon as possible and fixed. Continuous international cooperation helps to accomplish that before the real situation calls. Being operationally deployed at the front lines in the battlefield and carrying out missions that shape upcoming operations is a very hard and demanding job. Multinational task forces require soldiers and commanders that can trust each other and, most importantly, trust the valuable lives of their soldiers into other commanders’ hands if needed. Readiness, motivation and interoperability are the keys to the success of joint operations, regardless of the coalition you are about to go to the fight with, whether NATO SOF or the host country’s paramilitary units.

Another important issue is that there must be a very tight international cooperation between SOF and the Air Force. In modern warfare this tandem has proven itself as the decisive criteria in early battles of the campaigns as well as in follow-on operations. Small countries that cannot afford big and modern aviation should develop this type of cooperation, working together with a framework nation’s close air support assets. This has been a very good thing for pilots who rarely have a chance to talk to nonnative English speakers.

International SOF cooperation has never been so important as today, but therefore the fact that NATO countries’ SOF are in enormous OPTEMPO makes it very difficult. The reality shows that joint multination SOF training exercises in the past transformed into lessons learned, briefings or just simple talk with brothers-in-arms, sharing the experience with a glass of beer somewhere in Kandahar or in FB in the outskirts of Baghdad.

Article by LITHSOF Command.

International Special Operations Forces - Greece

Coordination between special forces are necessary to combat the global threat of terrorism. Special forces from Greece, Lithuania and the Netherlands—all within SOCEUR’s area of responsibility—are key partners.

Article by the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG), with advice from Rear Admiral Ilias Sionides, deputy commandant of the HCG.

For two decades the Special Missions Unit (SMU) of the Hellenic Coast Guard has quietly operated without much public attention. However, their counter-terrorist security preparations and presence during the Athens 2004 Olympics, along with the increasing frequency of gun battles with organized crime along Greek borders has raised their public profile. In the 1980s the emergence of terrorism, especially the cruise ship Achille Lauro hijacking, and better-armed organized crime led the Hellenic Coast Guard leadership to recognize the need for special units who would be trained and equipped to meet the new challenges and in 1987 it was decided to form a unit initially known as the Anti-Terrorist Squad.

A subordinate element of the Greek Ministry of Merchant Marine, this special unit recruits young career Coast Guard personnel who have already served in the military with Greek SOF (special forces, paratrooper, amphibious or mountain raiders, or marines). They select the best of these personnel during a two-month rigorous training program that simulates the difficult conditions of their service. Afterwards, a unit member can count on advanced SOF schooling throughout their career from a wide variety of both military and police schools, foreign and domestic.

They will normally be assigned to one of 20 Special Operational Detachments (SOD), which are scattered around Greece’s many entrance points. These detachments have been so successful that another five SODs were activated in May 2005 and are bring brought up to strength and will be operational soon. Within an SOD members may serve on a regular Special Operations Team (SOT), or may be assigned eventually to one of the specialist teams such as niper, EOD and chemical biological radiological nuclear), VIP protection, and serious crimes team.

Physical conditioning and expert use of weapons, both at sea and in close-quarters battle is constantly trained and stressed in the unit. Since these personnel are expected to operate in situations where the average law enforcement agent would be out-gunned, sharp reflexes and quick critical thinking make up an important part of both selection and training. When they are called upon, they know it is probably a dangerous case that ordinary Coast Guard or Greek Police are neither trained nor equipped to handle, yet may have legal implications that place it outside the competence and jurisdiction of the military.

Standard team equipment includes MP-5 or sonic suppressed MP-5SD 9 mm submachine guns, M16 and M203 5.56mm rifles with 40 mm grenade launchers, Glock 18 and USP Compact 9 mm pistols, Benelli short stock rifles, and Belgian 5.56 mm light and 7.62 mm medium machine guns. Special Operations Team RHIB (rigid hulled inflatable boat) boats are fast, well-equipped with bright white and infrared lights, surface radar, a variety of communications gear and bristling with machine guns up to .50 caliber Brownings. For fighting against high-speed infiltrations (50 knots), the teams use their Swedish-built Combat Boat 90H which can carry up to 21 armed personnel and up to 4.5 tons of cargo while cruising at 40+ knots. Lighter loads allow sprint speeds that make these boats quite competitive with would-be infiltrators.

Teams in the northwest in the Corfu Channel principally combat narcotics and arms trafficking against a highly organized opponent. All team members who have worked this area consider it a constant combat zone with high-volume firepower exchanges possible at any time. The SMU’s only acknowledged loss, 25 year-old Marinos Zambatis, was killed in action during one of these battles.

Patrolling their western borders further south brings them into contact with the classic contraband smugglers (mostly cigarettes and small arms) and of course, illegal aliens of all types. These crime networks often use clever concealment devices to hide people, weapons and drugs, but they will back down more quickly when shown the overwhelming firepower of an SOT.

A typical operation occurs at night as heavily armed smugglers with nothing to lose attempt to cross in Greek waters from the straights between Albania and Greece with a load of drugs, or a rickety boat overloaded with illegal immigrants is moved close to a rocky coastline, the crew knowing that ordinary Coast Guard would have their hands too full to worry about them should they begin to scuttle the ship or ram it onto the rocks. But an SOT also may be called during a maritime crisis, such as when a ferry struck the rocks outside Paros harbor during rough weather and hundreds of people were in danger. That’s when their airmobile, ship boarding and search and rescue skills all come together on no-notice, high-risk rescue missions.

Greece has a history tied to the sea. Even today, nearly 60 percent of international maritime trade has some connection to Greece (flagging/registration, ship ownership, operation or crews). Its numerous islands and long stretches of rugged coastline have long encouraged small boat trade and commerce. Today, Greece itself is a crossroad that criminals and terrorists would like to freely cross. That brave men are also there, sharply trained and ready to face danger and hardships is something for which all of us should be thankful. O

International Crisis Group : Report on PAKISTAN

Pakistan's Local Polls: Shoring Up Military Rule

Asia Briefing N°43
22 November 2005


Pakistan's military government rigged local elections in August and October 2005 to weaken further the mainstream opposition parties and lay the ground for its supporters to dominate forthcoming parliamentary elections. The elections were marred by serious violence, which may well become worse in future polls as ethnic, religious and regional rivalries are stirred up. President Pervez Musharraf's efforts to maintain military control over politics are likely to limit the state's mechanisms for dealing democratically and peacefully with its many internal conflicts -- unless the U.S. and others make clear, as they should, that they will withdraw political, military and financial support in the absence of genuine moves to restore power to civilians.

The government manipulation of the local polls involved gerrymandering of districts to break up support for political opponents of the military; reshuffling of officials to ensure those favourable to the military controlled elections in key areas; rejecting the nominations of opposition candidates; giving direct support to certain candidates in what was supposed to be a non-party election; and direct rigging at the polls, including ballot stuffing, intimidation and seizure of voting stations.

Crisis Group argued in a March 2004 report that the main rationale for President Musharraf's devolution plan was and remains regime legitimacy and survival. As the military-led government enters its sixth year, the imperatives of regime survival have become more pressing. To this end, the Musharraf government distorted its own devolution plan further through the rigged polls. This political engineering is increasing divisions at local and provincial levels, which in turn are producing greater political violence. At least 60 people died, and more than 500 were injured during the local elections.

The military government has presented its plan for devolution as an effort to improve public services, attracting considerable support from donors. But far from being a technocratic solution to the problems of local governance or an effort to empower people, the devolution process is a political project to maintain military power, something further revealed by the extent of rigging of the local polls. In the absence of representative rule, ethno-regional and political disaffection will continue to pose serious risks to the country's political and economic development and stability.

The election process risks worsening relations between the central government and the four federal provinces, which has already led to a low-level insurgency over political power and resources in Balochistan. Redistricting along ethnic lines in Karachi risks reviving the violence that blighted the country's main city for more than a decade. These elections have left political parties weakened and divided, have reduced political participation by women, and worsened local clan and ethnic rivalries. Limiting the political space for secular democratic parties has always boosted the position of extremist and religious groups in Pakistan.

Putting in place supportive local officials will help Musharraf ensure that his supporters win future parliamentary elections. In the 2002 election, Musharraf's Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-i-Azam (PML-Q) party won only a narrow victory because of opposition from many local officials, who can have a major impact on voting. The rigging of the local elections and the lack of independence of the Election Commission mean that there can be little faith Musharraf will live up to promises to return Pakistan to democracy and allow the next parliamentary polls to be free and fair.


Jholawallah obscurantism replaces Marxist poppycock

Jholawallah obscurantism replaces Marxist poppycock

Udayan Namboodiri/ New Delhi

What is so earthshaking about the "nationalist movement in Indo-China" that it should be represented with greater emphasis before India's 14-year-olds than their own freedom struggle? And, that too in a textbook titled India and the Contemporary World?

Ho Chi Minh: Indian Idol?

Now, who on earth was Nguyen Ai Quoc? More on this shadowy character later, but, why, pray, is it necessary for India's school-goers to know more about the "ideas" of Guiseppe Mazzinni, Phan Dinh Phung and Phan Boi Chau than Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose?

The Social Science textbook for Class X students that NCERT's "detoxification" specialists are seeking to introduce from the next academic year based on a syllabus released recently, seems to be based on the premise that India's new generation would be better off with an understanding of "Nationalism in Europe" (mostly Italy) and knowledge of "Indo-China" than their own.

In fact, this seems to be the rule of thumb for the writers of the upcoming set of books that would be on the market to replace the present lot authored by Marxist historians who were guilty of even worse falsification. But while the Marxists pursued an agenda of distortion without withholding primary information from the public domain, the new lot have another scheme in mind - black out Indian history from Indians. This is seen in the syllabi for all classes. In The third -and last-"unit" on history in the Class X Social Sciences syllabus, "Nationalism in India: Civil Disobedience Movement" is number three on the list after Europe and "Indo-China". In it, India has four sub-themes compared to five for "Indo-China". While all those foreigners are specially named, our own Mahatma and Netaji do not even merit mention in the syllabus document.

Ninety per cent of those who finish Class X will never pick up a book on History again. They will pursue the sciences or commerce in pursuit of more lucrative careers. Of the remaining 10 per cent, less than half would take up History in the Plus-Two stage. Even fewer will take up History at the University level. So, instead of using the school years for spreading maximum awareness of India's 9,000-year-old past, NCERT has effectively decided to deny Gen-Next their own history.

The obsession with "Indo-China" and "Nguyen Ai Quoc" (misspelt Nguyen Ac Quoc in the document) is Minister Arjun Singh's thank-you gift to the Communist bloc which propped him up as HRD Minister. Firstly, "Indo-China" is a term that has long vanished from public usage. Westerners used it to describe the region now comprising three separate nations -Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

At any rate, the NCERT syllabus has focussed only on Vietnam. The exclusive emphasis on the "second Indo-China war" (an euphemism for the Vietnam war of 1954-75) is nothing but an excuse for a lot of America bashing. The silence on Cambodia, where Communists under Pol Pot killed three million innocent people, screams.

Finally, "Nguyen Ai Quoc". This is only one of the ten aliases used by a man who is generally believed to have been born as Nguyen Tat Thanh. The most famous one was Ho Chi Minh, a great favourite of India's Communists. But the life and "ideas" of this leader of the Vietcong in its war (called "glorious" by Indian Reds) against America are under scrutiny today in his own country. Whatever little is known about him has come from Communist hacks.

According to an authoritative book in Vietnamese, "Unmasking Ho Chi Minh" by Huy Phong and Yen Anh (US edition, 1989), this man, apart from being a successful general, was an infamous mass murderer, barely literate, and, in true Communist style, betrayed Phan Boi Chau (the other hero recommended by NCERT) to the French police for $ 10,000.

Virtually all the basic data for the hagiographic books, which India's Red-Jholawalla brigade venerate, can be traced directly or indirectly to a book entitled Stories of President Ho's Active Life by Tran Dan Tien, first published in 1948 by Van Hoc Publishing. It was apparently intended as a biography but was presented in the form of an interview with Ho Chi Minh. Later, it turned out that the "interviewer", Tran Dan Tien, was "Nguyen Ai Quoc" or Ho himself. Only one other leader in world history has "created" his own biography - Joseph Stalin.

Asked what the children of India did to deserve this, sources in the NCERT's Social Science department deny any role. It turns out that Director Kumar had "outsourced" the entire exercise, from syllabus development through textbook writing, to a group of jholawallah scholars who Arjun Singh, like Nurul Hasan before him, had selected to commit larceny with the truth.

These include Hari Vasudevan of Kolkata University, Niladri Bhattacharya of JNU, Narayani Gupta of Jamia Millia Islamia and Chitra Srinivasan, a teacher of Sardar Patel School. In fact, the "committee" had started its work even before the Central Advisory Board on Education had approved NCERT's new Curriculum Framework.

New security plan for Ayodhya, Kashi

Press Trust of India

Ayodhya, November 25, 2005

The Centre has approved a new security plan, including equipping para-troopers and police with sophisticated arms, for Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura shrines costing Rs 54 crore, Uttar Pradesh DGP Yashpal Singh said in Ayodhya on Friday.
Singh, who visited the acquired land here and held a meeting to review security in the pilgrimage town, said the Centre had already released Rs 18 crore out of Rs 54 crore earmarked for the plan.

Upgradation of intelligence network, installation of more watch towers and providing sophisticated arms to security forces were part of the new security plan, he said.

To a question on terror attack in Ayodhya this year, the DGP said necessary steps were being taken at appropriate times to combat such activities in the state.

On gangster Abu Salem's links with anti-socials in Faizabad and other places in Uttar Pradesh, he said the extradited don could be brought here for questioning in this connection.

The DGP said security along the Indo-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh had been strengthened to check infiltration.

To a question on Naxalite menace in the state, he said 13 insurgents were killed and 63 arrested in recent police action in Mirzapur, Sonebhadra and Chandauli districts.

The police had managed to check Naxal activities in the the three affected districts, the DGP said.

November 24, 2005

Kutty's murder , a message from Pakistan via Taliban

Indian embassy guards salute the coffin of M R Kutty at the Kabul airport


A Barbaric Outrage!
It is a brutal message from Pakistan via Taliban - a desperate attempt to get India to stay away from reconstruction programmes in Afghanistan - particularly the southern parts of the country bordering suppressed Balochistan


The brutal slaughter of M.R.Kutty, a poor Keralite driver working with the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), by the Taliban, which had kidnapped him four days ago and demanded the exit of the BRO from Afghanistan, has been interpreted by some analysts as a message from the Taliban to India to withdraw from Afghanistan. Their advice to the government, rightly, is not to let itself be intimidated by this blackmail, but to continue helping the Hamid Karzai government of Afghanistan in its reconstruction programme, while, at the same time, strengthening physical security for the Indian personnel deployed in Afghan territory.

Where I disagree with them is with regard to the origin of this intimidatory message. It is not a message from the Taliban as they have contended, but it is a message from Pakistan through the Taliban not to get unduly involved in Afghanistan -- particularly in the southern parts of the country bordering the Pakistani province of Balochistan, where the independence movement shows no signs of petering out despite the brutal measures of suppression taken by the government of Gen.Pervez Musharraf.

Ever since the government of India started sending its reconstruction personnel to the interior areas of Afghanistan, particularly in southern Afghanistan and in the Herat area bordering Iran, the Musharraf government, including Musharraf himself, and the jihadi terrorist organisations, have repeatedly criticised the presence of Indian personnel in this area. It has been insinuated repeatedly that many of these personnel are actually officers of the Indian intelligence and security agencies sent to these areas to train alleged Baloch terrorists.

Our minister of state for external affairs has unfortunately, in an interview to Nidhi Razdan of NDTV on November 23, has provided added ammunition to these anti-Indian elements by saying that the BRO's personnel sent to this area are being protected by personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

The Pakistani Army, like its Chinese counterpart, hates the ITBP because of the valour of its jawans who, in the past, had proved themselves to be more than a match for the Pakistani and Chinese security forces. The minister's statement that some ITBP personnel have been deployed in southern Afghanistan to protect the BRO personnel is likely to act as a red rag to the bull, increasing the chances of more attacks on Indian personnel.

According to the minister, the government of India, on coming to know of the kidnapping of Kutty, had immediately sought the intervention of the Hamid Karzai government, the foreign embassies in Kabul and Afghan tribal leaders (based in Kabul?). The action taken by the government, as explained by the minister, gives a disturbing indication of the extent to which the government is out of touch with the ground realities relating to terrorism in general and Afghanistan in particular.

Let's take a look at the ground realities.

The Hamid Karzai government has very little control over southern and eastern Afghanistan, where the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Hizbe Islami remnants operating from sanctuaries in and around Quetta have stepped up their activities since March, 2005, killing a large number of Afghan government troops, policemen and an increasing number of American soldiers.

The Taliban remnants operating from sanctuaries in Pakistan had also shot down a US army helicopter in the area bordering Pakistan earlier this year.

I had written as follows on the anniversary of 911: "Since March, 2005 Afghanistan has been slowly sliding back into a state of anarchy and lawlessness due to the re-infiltration of terrorists belonging to the Al Qaeda and the Taliban from sanctuaries in Pakistan." Even if the Karzai government had anted to, it would not have been able to be of any effective assistance in this area.

It is very well known that all the surviving members of the Taliban leadership including Mulla Mohammad Omer, its Amir, and its spokesman operate from sanctuaries provided by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the Quetta area and not from Afghan territory. Since the Taliban leadership looks upon Karzai as an American quisling who has to be eliminated, it was futile to have expected him to intervene. Karzai himself has been repeatedly saying in public about the activities of these elements from Pakistani sanctuaries and it is, therefore, surprising that he did not advise the government of India to take up the matter with Islamabad, which only has control over them.

Since our Prime Minister's visit to the US in July, the Taliban and the Al Qaeda have stepped up their propaganda against India. I had written as follows on August 13, 2005:
[begin quote]

Reports from well-informed sources in Balochistan say that Musharraf has made a deal with the Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the HEI, under which he has promised not to interfere with their activities from their sanctuaries in Pakistani territory in return for their refraining from any terrorist attacks against him or in Pakistani territory. For the last about 10 months, there has been no major terrorist attack, barring the periodic anti-Shia strikes, in Pakistani territory attributable to these organisations.

The first references to India in the messages of the Al Qaeda and its leaders started appearing after the visit of Prime Minister Aeriel Sharon of Israel to India in 2003, but these messages did not refer to the so-called Kashmir issue. Against this background, it is significant that a recent message attributed to the Al Qaeda and its associates in Afghanistan refers to Kashmir.

On August 9, 2005, the Al Arabiya TV channel showed a video recording of what was described as the recent successful operations of the Al Qaeda and the Taliban against the US troops in Afghanistan. A report on the video circulated by the Associated Press says as follows:

"A purported al-Qaida-made video shows militants in Afghanistan--including Europeans, Arabs and others--preparing to attack U.S. troops and showing off what they said was a U.S. military laptop. The video features interviews with a masked man yelling "As you bomb us, you will be bombed!" and shows a group of men packing explosives into bombs. The program includes interviews with bearded fighters claiming they are avenging the killing of Muslims by the U.S., Britain, Israel and India. "If this is terrorism and fundamentalism, then OK, we are terrorists and fundamentalists," a Pakistani man who identifies himself as Bilal says in Urdu. The tapes feature a diatribe by a British or Australian-accented man wearing a black robe, AK-47 and military-style vest, who warns Westerners of "the lies of Blair and Bush." Yet another scene pans across a cache of captured U.S. gear, including a laptop, an M-16, military radios, a global positioning satellite display and the Department of Defense ID card of slain Navy SEAL Danny Phillip Dietz Jr Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo., was killed June 28 after his four-man reconnaissance team came under attack in Kunar province.

The Chinook helicopter was downed and the 16 troops killed as the craft was on its way to aid Dietz, killing all aboard. An insurgent is shown going through the laptop's hard drive, zooming in on a U.S. military document marked "For Official Use Only" and a map of Kabul marked with the locations of the U.S. and British embassies. The film is subtitled in Arabic, but carries interviews in English, French, Pashto and Urdu, as well as Arabic spoken with Yemeni, Saudi and Iraqi accents."

Other news agencies have quoted the British or Australian accented man appearing in the video as saying: "We will not let you kill our families in Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the Balkans, Indonesia , the Caucusus and elsewhere."

While the authenticity of this video has not yet been established by the Western and Australian intelligence agencies, it does not appear to be a doctored one.It is not clear whether this video was recorded before the recent visit of our Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh to the US or after the visit. The two countries' determination to co-operate against terrorism was highlighted during the visit.

Commenting on the Delhi blasts of October 29, 2005, I had stated: "The blasts of October 29 have come in the wake of the propaganda against India stepped up by the Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the IIF (the International Islamic Front) following the recent visit to the US in July,2005, by Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh. One has to seriously take into account the possibility that the Al Qaeda and/or the IIF might have now targeted India because of its open alignment, as seen by them, with the US on matters affecting the vital intetests of the Islamic Ummah."

In my view, only two persons could have effectively intervened with the Taliban and saved the life of Kutty--Musharraf and Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the Amir of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI) Pakistan, who is very close to the Taliban Amir. Some of the Indian Deobandi leaders might have been able to seek the intervention of the Maulana, who would have been only too glad to try to be of assistance. If it had not occurred to the government of India to try these approaches, it shows how out of touch with the ground realities our policy makers have been.

B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai.


The Defence Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has expressed deep shock and grief at the tragic turn of events leading to the unfortunate killing of Shri R. Maniyappan Kutty, a driver of Border Roads Organisation in Afghanistan. In a condolence message to the bereaved family Shri Mukherjee said that his heart goes out to the family members of Shri Kutty in their hour of grief and assured that all assistance will be provided to his wife and children.

The Government has decided to provide liberalized pension for life to the wife of Shri Kutty which will be as per his last pay drawn in India. She will also be given a lump sum compensation of about seven lakh rupees besides any other ex-gratia grant to be sanctioned by the Government. The education of the two children till Secondary level will also be taken care of by the Government.

Shri Kutty was working with the Border Roads Organisation for the last over 12 years and had joined the road project in Afghanistan on the 9th of this month.