Saturday, December 13, 2008

Passing out Parade: The Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun

It is the evening before the passing out parade at the Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun, and for the Gentleman Cadets standing in the red carpeted corridor of the fabled Chetwode building at the IMA, the feeling of the big day tomorrow hasn't quite sunk in.

Saturday's parade of the 118 Regular Course marks the end of a year's military training (for some cadets, it is one-and-half years). After the ceremony, the cadets will be commissioned as lieutenants and the Indian Army will have 594 new officers inducted into its ranks.

More importantly, when these young men cross the threshold with the words 'Antim Pag' (final steps) inscribed on the gates of the Chetwode building they will step out as leaders of men and as junior officers which forms the strength of the Indian Army.

"This cane signifies power and authority," explains one Gentlemen Cadet when asked about the cane with a brass knob that he is carrying. "We are supposed to carry it with us with this uniform."

His first posting as a lieutenant of the Indian Army will be on the Siachen Glacier, one of the toughest postings for Indian soldiers. Seeing the civilian draw a breath, he laughs. "You have to do a tenure in Siachen once. There couldn't be a better way to begin."

Reportage: Archana Masih. Photographs: Jewella C Miranda
The Soldiers Who Know No Fear
Also Read PoP NDA: Tomorrow's Heros

Ex Servicemen agitated over SCPC: Building blocks

Dear Editor,

1. Barkha Dutt in her thought provoking article titled “Building blocks”, Hindustan Times dated 13 Dec 2008 click here has brought out a few very relevant issues regarding the future course of action in the aftermath of Mumbai Terrorist Attack. Highlighting the importance of the Defence Forces in the present scenario she says that “as a Nation we must respect our soldiers not just by sending passionate text messages to scroll under the next TV debate on the state of the army but in real ways--- in how we treat them, pay them and reward them...”

2. The Defence Forces since the last one year have been agitated over the recommendations of the 6th CPC and have been going from pillar to post to get these glaring anomalies addressed but the Govt has turned a total deaf ear to these just and four demands. As a responsible citizen and as a veteran, I implore upon the Govt to heed to the suggestions and take immediate remedial measures to obviate any further erosion in the morale of the forces.

(The author is a Former Senior Fellow and Security Analyst of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), has been examiner PhD thesis in Defence & Security Studies, Ex Commandant Services Selection Centre & President SSB, besides being Instructor at four premier institutions of the Army. Presently he is a Vice Chairman Indian Ex Servicemen Movement).

With Kind Regards,
Yours Sincerely,
Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)
Dated: 13 Dec 2008
Building blocks by columnist Barkha Dutt is Group Editor, English News, NDTV

ARC: Civil Servants ploy of passing the buck

New Delhi: Civil servants who do not have a good track record or are found to be incompetent should be dismissed after 20 years in service, India’s Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) has suggested in a report released on Friday. The report entitled Refurbishing of Personnel Administration—released by commission chairman Veerappa Moily—recommends two comprehensive reviews of bureaucrats after they complete 14 and 20 years in service. ARC, set up by the central government, periodically recommends ways to improve public administration. “The first review of 14 years would primarily serve the purpose of intimating to the public servant about his/her strengths and shortcomings for his/her future advancement,” Moily told the media here. “The second review at 20 years would mainly serve to assess the fitness of the officer for his continuation in government service.” ARC’s latest and 10th report also recommends establishing a central civil services authority comprising five members.
More...Officers can get the boot after 20 years: reforms committee

Jaipur: Administrative Reforms Committee chairman Veerappa Moily talks to The Indian Express about the recent Mumbai Terror attack, about police reforms, intelligence failure and poor inter-agency communication.

•In the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks and the number of serial blasts all across the country in the past one year, what is your evaluation of the intelligence gathering in the country?

All intelligence agencies, whether it’s the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) or the Intelligence Bureau (IB) or the state intelligence bureaus, seem to be working in isolation. There is no convergence of intelligence or information at any level. After each terror attack, each agency passes the buck to other when questioned about intelligence failure.
more...RAW, IB pass the buck: Moily

Comment: Bureaucracy can be compared to a dog's curled tail which cannot be straightened unless surgically removed. Administrative Reforms Committee recommendations will remain on paper only as no surgical measures are contemplated to be carried out. There is no Political steam to carry out the reforms! Recommendations made at the behest of dubious Bureaucrats are to be implemented by the same fraternity. The IAS lobby is all too powerful to be reformed. The Nation needs a new form of Governance which will come from the Power of the Youthful Citizens of this Nation. Mumbai Mayhem is a wake up call to all our citizens.

ESM: Pension of Generals less than Colonels

Tribune News Service Chandigarh, December 12, 2008
The pension of colonels retiring from January 1, 2006, is more that that of lieutenant generals who had retired prior to January 1, 1996. The revised pension fixed for a lieutenant general who retired before 1996 is Rs 26,150 per month, while that of a colonel retiring from 2006 onwards is Rs 30,375.

A perusal of the latest government letter on pension issued by the ministry of defence reveals similar disparities exist in the pensions of armed forces personnel down the line who had retired at different times.

These disparities are now not expected to be resolved anytime soon with the defence minister A.K. Antony ruling out implementation of the “one rank-one pension” scheme.

“The government has not found acceptable, the demand of ex-servicemen for one rank one pension,” Antony stated in a written reply to MP Kalraj Mishra in the Rajya Sabha yesterday.

The pension of a pre-1996 major fixed at Rs 14,464 is now almost Rs 1,500 lower to that of a lieutenant, the Army’s junior most officer. Similarly placed lieutenant colonels would draw Rs 17,063 while recently retiring captains would get Rs 17,865.

Disparities also exist in the ranks. To cite an example, a havildar retiring before 1996 after having put in about 18 years’ service would get Rs 5,008 whereas a post -2006 retiree sepoy, the lowest in the rung, would get Rs 6,860.

The crux of the disparities lies in differences in pay scales fixed by successive pay commissions. One Rank-One Pension had been a major demand by ex-servicemen over the years and the several defence ministers in the past had announced that it would be implemented.

Following the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission recommendations in 1998, the pension of some major generals was fixed at rates lower that that of brigadiers. They had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking higher pension and the court had ruled in their favour. The Supreme Court upheld the HC decision a few months ago. According to informed sources, the ministry of defence is yet to implement the court orders.
Vijay Mohan
Pension of Generals less than Colonels

ESM: Latest CDA Pension goof ups

Don’t ask me how this happened. Don’t even try to rack your brain; you’ll come to a big nought.

Govt of India, Ministry of Defence, had issued the pension sanction letter for pre-2006 pensioners on 11 November 2008. The said Govt letter covered both PBOR as well as officers. Pension fixation tables based on old basic pension and rank were also enclosed with this letter. As we all know by now, basic pension is either to be fixed by

Multiplying the old basic pension by 2.26 OR @ 50% of lower end of pay band + Grade Pay + MSP whichever of the two is higher.

An annexure (Annexure-II) was also enclosed with the letter dated 11 Nov 08 which detailed the calculation based on the second option for different ranks. By way of the second option, the pension of Major Generals and Lt Generals was coming to be lower than that of Brigadiers (Rs 26150) since MSP is not admissible to Maj Gens and Lt Gens. As a result, the pension for Maj Gens and Lt Gens was also stepped up to Brig level because as per policy, senior ranks cannot be placed in lower pension grades than a junior rank. Consequently, as per Annexure-II of the letter, the pensions for the ranks of Brig, Maj Gen and Lt Gen were all placed at Rs 26150 and the same was correctly reflected in Annexure-II of the Govt letter.

The Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) or PCDA(P) in short, has also floated detailed guidelines to all banks across India alongwith the said Govt letter dated 11 Nov 2008 but surprisingly, the Annexure-II attached with the said letter in the PCDA(P) circular is different than the one released by the Govt. Same letter but different pension scales!

To take an example, in Annexure-II of the Govt letter dated 11 Nov 2008, the pension of Brigs, Maj Gens and Lt Gens is mentioned as Rs 26150 after completion of 28+ years of service. However it is mentioned as Rs 26150 for Brig but Rs 24566 for Maj Gen and Lt Gen in the same Annexure-II of the same Govt letter dated 11 Nov 2008 forwarded by PCDA(P) to banks. There are many other inconsistencies too.

You don’t believe me? Click here to have a look at this. The table on the top is the one enclosed with the actual govt letter and the table on the bottom is the table of the same govt letter floated to banks with a covering circular from the PCDA(P).

Don’t believe me still. OK, then download the pre-2006 pensioners Govt Letter No 17(4)/2008(1)/D(Pen/Policy) Dated 11 November 2008 from the official Ministry of Defence website at click here and then download the same letter from the PCDA(P) website at click here

Now compare the two and take a look at Annexure-II at Page 93, can you spot the difference? And again, please don’t ask me how this happened! I have no explanation whatsoever. Do not also ask me as to what happened to the direction of Govt of India vide Para 22 of the letter which ordained 'immediate' and 'expeditious' payment to pensioners. Of course all this is not deliberate, but lack of application of mind or lack of coordination, whatever, take your pick!
Posted by Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh at 6:46
Great, now CDA authorities goof up and they goof up well– they send incorrect pension tables to banks!

Mumbai Mayhem: Next Steps in the Indo- Pak Crisis


By George Friedman
In an interview published this Sunday in The New York Times, we laid out a potential scenario for the current Indo-Pakistani crisis. We began with an Indian strike on Pakistan, precipitating a withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the Afghan border, resulting in intensified Taliban activity along the border and a deterioration in the U.S. position in Afghanistan, all culminating in an emboldened Iran. The scenario is not unlikely, assuming India chooses to strike...
read more at: Stratfor: Next Steps in the Indo-Pakistani Crisis

Friday, December 12, 2008

Three Army Regiments Merge: Madras Regiment


Udhagamandalam (PTI): The Indian Army's old regiments -- the Madras Regiment, 16th Cavalry and 4-Field Regiments -- on Saturday became a single entitity with the three being formally affiliated at a function at the Madras Regimental Centre at nearby Wellington.

The affiliation (merger) would encompass greater understanding of each others combat potential, harmonize and encourage active participation in each others sporting and adventure activities, an MRC release said here.

This would also provide greater synergy amonst all ranks through deeper understanding of each others traditions, culture and heritage, it said.

Because of the deep roots of the regiments with South India and the fact that a substantial portion of the core manpower of the 16th Cavalry and 4 Field regiment were originally from the Madras Regiment, the regiments were formally affiliated through a 'memorandum of understanding,' it said.

The Madras Regiment came into being on Dec 4, 1758, when two battalions were raised under Col Robert Clive, consequent to the seige of Fort St George in then Chennapatnam (Chennai) by the French.

16th Light Cavalry regiment was raised prior to 1776 in the Service of Nawab of Arcot as the 3rd regiment of the Native Cavalry. This is the senior most regiment of Armoured Corps, standing right most of a joint ceremonial parade and carries two standards, a privilege unique in the whole of the Commonwealth.

The 4-Field Regiment was raised in May 1956 as a Field regiment in Hyderabad under the 27 Mountain Artillery Brigade, by converting the 8th Battalion.
Three army regiments merge

SCPC: Status of One Rank One Pension

Thursday, December 11, 2008
Rajya Sabha 18:11 IST

Government has not found acceptable the demand of Ex-Servicemen for one rank one pension. This information was given by Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to Shri Kalraj Mishra in Rajya Sabha today. The defence personnel have not rejected the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission, he added.

One Rank One Pension for Defence Personnel

Dear Fauji Friends,
The last sentence of this statement is IMPORTANT. What it says is that the "serving" soldiers have not rejected the award of the Pay Commission. By implication, it means that they have accepted it. What the veterans feel about it is of no consequence to the polity of this nation.

Maj Gen Surjit Singh (Retd)

Dear Colleagues,
The general impression is that since the Army Commanders and above have already, always and 'perpetually' got their OROP, they, while in service were NOT interested in whether others got it or not. What does NOT affect them, does NOT affect anyone.
That speaks volumes of IMA 'Motto':

"The safety honour and welfare of your country
come first always and every time.
The honour welfare and comfort of the men
you command come next.
Your own ease comfort and safety
come last always and every time."

Why should the 'Defence Services' reject 6 PC Recommendations when those who were in 'Position' to 'Reject' the same got everything?

Bureaucrats are very smart and have mastered the 'Art' of "DIVIDE and RULE". 'Congrats' Bureaucrats (and those who got everything) and 'Consolation' to rest of the Indian Defence Services.

With Warm Regards,
Brig Harwant Singh (Retd)

ESM are requested to voice their opinions. Why are the court rulings not being implemented? Government is determined to divide and rule by "creating a class within a class" amongst the Veterans! How come only Army Cmdr's have been given a uniform pension (for the pre- 1996, pre- 2006 and post- 2006) Rs 40,000. Does it imply there is uniform pension for Appointment rather than for Rank? One Rank many Pensions, should it read One Appointment One Pension? Will it be in order to conclude there will be one pension for all Commanding Officers of a Battalion or for all Brigade Cmdr's and so forth?

Cycling essential component of Military Training: Our Academy life filled with bike adventures

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”

- Albert Einstein

As a kid, you were never too far away from your bike - you adorned its spokes with beads or hockey cards, and zoomed up and down the street like you were invincible.

Now, as an adult, your wheels are motorized, and you drive the city streets with your shoulders glued to your ears, especially in rush-hour traffic.

But what if you could abandon the rush-hour hell, get some exercise and feel better, every single day? According to Michael Kalmanovitch of the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters, the solution's simple: hop on your bike.
Bicycles in India
Like riding a bike
Edmonton Bicycle Commuters

Cycles in Mhow: Picnic with Nangia

My major contribution to the economy of Mhow Cantt on posting to MCTE was in a spurt in the sale of cycles in the town. I used to cycle in the college campus. Once General Sundarji also decided to cycle to his office it started a fad with most of the staff of the two colleges rushing to the cycle shops acquiring or hiring cycles.
Brig Lakshman Singh VSM (Retd)

Army Rescues Pilgrims: Do we have a crisis management structure in place?

Portions of the ladder leading to the Geparnath Mahadev temple, near Kota, that collapsed

All the pilgrims stranded at the Gaiparnath Shiva cave temple in Kota, Rajasthan, have been rescued with the help of Army jawans on Monday. Two persons, both engineering students have been killed in the incident. Nearly 135 pilgrims, including 35 women and 20 children were stranded when the serpentine stairway to the temple collapsed on Sunday evening.

The incident took place when the stairway (cantilever type ladder, supported from one end) collapsed due to heavy rush of pilgrims and landslide due to heavy rains in the area. The 16th century famous Gaiparnath Shiva temple in the cave, a favourite tourist spot of the region, is situated on the foothills of Chambal ravines, about 25 km from Kota on the Rawatbhata road. The district administration rushed to the spot and rescue operations were started under the supervision of district collector Abhay Kumar and superintendent of police Vishal Bansal. As the rescue operations were stopped during the night, food packets were provided to the stranded people. Women and children were rescued first.

Army jawans used three heavy cranes summoned from the Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant (RAPP) and five fire tenders to rescue the people from the cave. IAF helicopters were also flown from Jodhpur to assist the rescue team.
Kota: Stranded pilgrims rescued

Do we have Natural Disaster, Technological, and Other Emergencies Structure in place like in other countries? Does the Nation/ states periodically rehearse emergency crisis management drills? Mumbai Mayhem has exposed our weak flanks aptly fuelled by bureaucrats! Have we learnt lessons from the past?
Departmental Emergency Programs

Public wants government to either shape up or ship out

Credit: Photo Atlas

Chandigarh: ‘Anti-terror strategy demands that success can be achieved only by a clear understanding and implementation of ends, ways and means. ‘Ends’ corresponds to a clear vision on what we wish to achieve. ‘Ways’ are the various options of achieving the desired state. ‘Means’ are the resources available to execute the strategic anti-terror design’

One of the deficiencies to have emerged post the 26/11 Terror strike in Mumbai is the lack of strategic leadership, coordination and focus in handling crisis.

The Government has spoken of its resolve to create a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to counter terrorist strikes. The move, however, lacks both clarity and vision. Such legislation, if enacted, is doomed to fail because it addresses only a part of the problem.

Anti-terror strategy demands that success against terror can be achieved only by a clear understanding and implementation of “ends, ways and means”.

While ‘ends’ correspond to a clear vision on what we wish to achieve. ‘ways’ corresponds to the various options of achieving the desired state. ‘Means’ are the resources available to execute the strategic anti-terror design.

The desired ‘end’ state for India is the total elimination of terror. The best ‘way’ to do so is by creating a new federal ministry that can handle all the fallouts of a terror strike. The ‘means’ are the combat forces required not just for neutralising terrorists, but also for their command and control, communications, technical support and operational logistics. ‘Means’ also involves the support that troops need on the connected tasks of evacuation, medical-aid, dead body management, fire-fighting and media briefings among other things.

It is clear to all that the government has displayed neither vision nor resolve in tackling the issues. The public demands the government either ‘shapes up or ships out’.

Post the 9/11 terror strike, the USA had created a Department of Homeland Defence (DHS) to combat disaster in any form, including terror.

Notwithstanding the criticism, the DHS has served the USA well — there has been no terror strike in the country since 2001. This is an example that we can and we must emulate.

President Bush announced the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security to coordinate “homeland security” efforts on October 8, 2001, within 30 days of the strike. The DHS was formally established on November 25, 2002. The FBI and CIA were, however, not part of the DHS.

The DHS also has a key called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). After FEMA’s creation, the Congress continued to expand FEMA’s authority to include coordination of counter terrorism operations.
Public wants govt to either shape up or ship out
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He called the Mumbai attack a calculated one and said that the government needs to review systems for fighting terror.
Prime Minister apologises for Mumbai terror attack
"The time has come for bureaucrats to move on from just looking at files and do something drastic," says Chief Election Commissioner TS Krishnamoorthy.
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After leaders, bureaucrats feel the heat of Mumbai attacks

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ten yrs on, soldiers get benefits of fifth pay panel

Chandigarh, December 10
About a decade after certain anomalies resulting from the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission (FPC) were redressed by a committee, a large number of armed forces personnel who had retied would receive their due benefits following a directive by the Supreme Court a few days ago.

After the recommendations of the FPC were announced the government had set up a committee headed by the then defence secretary, Ajit Kumar, for replacement of pay scales on account of rationalisation of trades of personnel below officer rank. This was done keeping in view their educational qualifications in relation to trade, combat and leadership skills.

The committee submitted its report on October 10, 1997. While the recommendations of the FPC were implemented with effect from January 1, 1996, the recommendations of the committee, however, were implemented with effect form October 1997.

This led to a large number of personnel who retired between January 1996 and October 1997 not getting the benefits of the revised pay scales. Consequently, the Ministry of Defence ended up with two rates of pensions for those who were drawing the same pay till the FPC came through.

A large number of affected personnel moved various high courts against the method of implementation of the committee’s recommendation. While allowing some writ petitions, the Punjab and Haryana High Court was of the opinion that the stand of the government that the petitioners were not entitled to the benefits was wholly unjustified.

“It was during the implementation of 5th Pay Commission report that it was found by the respondents that there is anomaly in the pay scales. Once the anomaly in the pay scales is found and sought to be removed then it has to be removed from the implementation of the recommendation of the Pay Commission i.e. 01.01.1996. There is no explanation as to why the said anomaly is sought to be removed from 10.10.1997. In the absence any explanation of removal of anomaly from 10.10.1997, we do not find the action of the respondents fixing such date as justified,” the HC had then ruled.

The HC had ordered that the pension of the petitioners be recalculated on the basis of the revised pay scales with effect from January 1997 and the exercise be completed within three months.

The central government, however, filed a special leave petition (SLP) against the HC order. A Division Bench of the Supreme Court dismissed the first such SLP in November. A few similar cases are reported to be pending for disposal.

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service
Ten yrs on, soldiers get benefits of fifth pay panel

SCPC: Calculation of Pension Arrears- Pre 1996

Dear Friends,
Jai Hind.
I have received large amount of inputs from the Veterans about the amount of arrears they have received in their respective accounts. As per the analysis of these inputs done by Brig YM Narula (Signals) and me the following facts appear:

1. SBI has assumed that additional amount due to veterans till 30 Nov 08 as arrears. (Other banks may have also probably done the same). Date of implementation of 6 CPC is 1 Sep 08. Therefore, what is due to us till Aug 08 only, should have been counted as arrears. What is due to us 01 Sep 08 onwards is current due, and should have been paid in full.

2. Another error by SBI is that from the arrears calculated by it for period 1.1.2006 to 30.11.2008, it has wrongly deducted the amount paid as pension in last week of November 2008. Therefore, the amount which it has paid to pensioners in Dec 2008 is not correct. Those of you who are drawing pension through SBI, if you add your pension received in last week of Nov to the amount of arrears received in first week of Dec 2008, that will tally with the amount shown as your arrears due in the table below. Therefore, deduction of the amount paid in last week of November is a mistake by SBI. But before you raise this point with your bank, ask for the working of the pension and arrears in writing. Do not commit any thing to the bank till you have received the formal letter from the bank. May be we are making some wrong assumptions. As per PCDA instructions issued to all banks, the banks are supposed to send a letter to each of the pensioners dependent on them explaining the complete working of pension on 1.1.2006 and subsequent arrears.

3. The new basic pension for Col to Lt Gen is different for period 1.1.2006 to 31.8.2008 and different 1.9.2008 onwards. This is due to the MSP being applicable only from 1.9.2008 onwards. (This is logical since serving personnel are to get MSP wef 1 Sep 08, but please note that Annex II of the 11.11.2008 does not state so. As per the Annex II the amount shown there appears to be applicable from 1.1.2006).

4. While a Lt Gen draws more pension than a Maj Gen (or Brig) during period 1.1.2006 to 31.8.2008, from 1.9.2008 onwards Brig, Maj Gen and Lt Gen all draw the same basic pension - Rs 26,150.00. It is due to MSP being applicable from 1 Sep 08. The table for arrears prepared, based on the above mentioned inputs, is reproduced below for your information.

In case other banks have calculated your arrears differently you can now analyse it yourself. The Table below is based on the assumption that the Veteran had earned his/her full pension (not a premature retirement). The Table is applicable to pre 1996 retirees only. The post 1996 retirees have to calculate their pension individually. The pension of post 1996 and post 2006 retirees will also differ.
Those of you receiving NPA etc have to do the calculations separately.

Pensioners or family pensioners above 80 years have to add the percentage as under to their basic pension and than calculate the arrears:
From 80 years to less than 85 years 20% of revised basic pension/family pension
From 85 years to less than 90 years 30% of revised basic pension/family pension
From 90 years to less than 95 years 40% of revised basic pension/family pension
From 95 years to less than 100 years 50% of revised basic pension/family pension
100 years or more 100% of revised basic pension/family pension

I have tried my best to make the table as simple as possible. If some of you still find it difficult to follow, kindly discuss with your friends for further clarification.

On behalf of YOU ALL, 'i' thank Brig YM Narula, Signals, for helping us out in analysis of the inputs coming from various Veterans.

Brig CS Kamboj VSM (Retd)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

SCPC: One Rank Many Pensions

Dear Friends,
The tables showing the pensions granted to the veterans of different vintages are shown below.
The figures speak for themselves.

Maj Gen Surjit Singh

ECHS: Non admission in empanelled hospitals

Pers for MD ECHS
Please refer my teleconversation with you of date. Maj Shashi Mengi diagnosed with liver cancer reported to Dharmshila Cancer Hospital but was refused admission on the ground that the Hospital had stopped admitting ECHS patients due to non clearance of pending bills of 8 crores by ECHS. As mentioned in a paper sent to you earlier this was bound to happen. All good hospitals are slowly but surely withdrawing from ECHS due mismanagement eg Apollo, Gangaram Escorts and now Dharamshila.

As telephonically confirmed by you Maj Mengi is being admitted and will pay all bills as raised. As also confirmed by you ECHS will subsequently clear bills as in a reimbursement case. Pl place on record above confirmation with copy of email to maj mengi. For Gods sake sort out the system as otherwise the Scheme will collapse despite your best intentions.

Brig Kuthiala (Retd)

My comments to ECHS Empenalled Hospitals refusing admission.
In the event Maj Mangi pays his bills himself ,he shall be only reimbursed the bills at CGHS rates which are at least 50 to 60 percent less than the actual hospital charges.ECHS central office has lost its purpose ,day by day good hospitals like Apollo are refusing admission when they stand in the empenalled list. The ECHS Central office has taken no action to de empannel such hosptals and inform the Echs members.

I had an unfortunate experiance with the ECHS. My bill from Apollo Hospital was paid after one year only after I met the MD in his office. My Complaint was not replied and no action was taken against the defaultor.

B L Sapru

Comment: ECHS concept conceived by civil servants initially crowned with teething problems is now graduating to labour pains- cash starved, lack of command and control, staffed by de- motivated re- employed staff! We await its demise or re- birth! How many ESM will take the quicker road to his final destiny in the meantime is for anyone to guess?

Dealing with Terror

Hindustan Times Chandigarh, 10 Dec 2008: Defence Talk
Tackling terror boils down to good governance, ethical politics and a committed bureaucracy. Lawlessness, terrorism, corruption, are all manifestations of a failing polity and read more click link below.
Dealing with Terror by Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (Retd)
Larger Text:
Dealing with Terror by Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (Retd)

Additional reading
Dealing with terror threat: Politics and policing

Imperative to make military service attractive

18 Course Reunion

Later this month, my alma mater, the prestigious National Defence Academy (NDA), will commence celebrating its diamond jubilee. It was the New Year’s Day of 1949 when the fledgling Inter Services Wing (later renamed the Joint Services Wing) was set up at Dehradun.

The coming New Year’s Day will, therefore, be a proud day not only for those who have passed out of the Academy over the last 60 years, but also for all military persons and indeed for the entire nation.

The officer cadets who have passed out from the portals of this hallowed institution later led the defence forces of the country through wars and conflicts, which the nation had to fight and is still fighting and did so from the front, setting examples of courage and professionalism rarely seen.

When I joined the NDA in June 1957, the reins of the Academy were in the capable hands of Major Gen E. Habibullah, a versatile and lovable General officer of the old school. I use the words “reins”, both figuratively and metaphorically, for he was also an accomplished horseman, besides commanding this fine institution, which converted gawky adolescent boys into gentlemen and later officers of the defence forces.

We were also privileged to train under the guidance of two commandants, as midway during our course, Rear Admiral B.A. Samson, a smart and dynamic Flag officer of the Indian Navy, took over command of the Academy and presided over our passing-out parade in June, 1960.

I did visit the NDA on a few occasions thereafter, but the defining moment for me was in June, 2001, when I was given the exceptional honour of reviewing the passing-out parade, exactly 41 years after I had marched out past the quarter deck, hopefully smartly, and said goodbye to the Academy, which had turned me round from a boy to a man! By happenstance, it was my erstwhile Golf squadron, which had earned the championship trophy that year, making me doubly proud!

Let me share another nostalgic moment with this Academy of excellence. I was back at the NDA in June last year along with a number of course mates for celebrating yet another milestone in our lives. This was to celebrate the golden jubilee of the day, 50 years back, when our course had entered the precincts of this fine institution, which embraced us with love and care, taught us discipline and the appreciation of the good things of life, set us on the road to military professionalism and built our character for the vicissitudes of life that would follow.

Thanks to the current commandant, Air Marshal T.S. Randhawa, and his dedicated and efficient team of instructors, our brief sojourn can only be termed as momentous. We relived the life we had led as cadets and appreciated all the changes for the better, which successive commandants had instituted to ensure that the Academy continued to be the apex institution of learning in our country.

While the country, the Indian military and especially the alumni of this institution of excellence would rejoice and celebrate this remarkable and unique journey, we also need to take time out to ponder on the future.

Will India be able to sustain and excel the achievements of this exceptional institution in the face of diminishing numbers joining the Academy and the defence forces, as well as the vast shortage of officers in all the three services?

It is important to reflect on the reasons why young men are shying away from joining the defence forces, including this famed institution.

I do not subscribe to the view that in today’s consumer-oriented society, there is a paucity of patriots and warriors in our nation. Even a cursory look at our long history of wars and sacrifices by our soldiers and their leaders of yore should convince us that there is no dearth of valour amongst our countrymen. Neither can the reason be a perceived decline in the standards of the defence forces or of the NDA.

The truth is that over the years, despite many centrifugal forces working against the defence forces, they continue to serve the nation with dedication and resolve; I need not remind the readers of their sterling efforts in the successful resolution of a highly explosive situation at Mumbai only a few days back, where in the best traditions of the Army two young lads, Major Unnikrishnan and Havildar Gajendra Singh, sacrificed their lives for the nation.

As far as the NDA is concerned, not only has it lived up to its glorious past but has vastly improved its academics, military training and most importantly building the highest level of character qualities.

Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (Retd)
Former Vice Chief of Army Staff and alumni of the famed 18th course of the NDA
Imperative to make military service attractive
First step in and out of the NDA by Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh
18 Course reunion
National Defence Academy
National Defence Academy 60 Glorious Years

What went wrong? And whose failure led to Mumbai mayhem?

No event in recent history has drawn so much national attention and brought out people’s anger to such an extent as the terrorist strike in Mumbai. Much has been written on the state’s inability to come up with a viable strategy to meet the menace of terrorism in a speedy, coordinated and efficient manner. Very many suggestions and ideas have been floated such as framing new laws, creating immense security set-up and enlarging intelligence organisations.

Some of these are indeed outlandish. Such as creating a Ministry of Internal Security and posting of security guards and metal detectors at almost every conceivable point and sealing all borders.

These would require the diversion of large resources and energies to meet only the internal security challenges. Such moves will impinge on other more pressing and important demands.

However, considering the general state of anxiety, public disdain, political compulsions of the approaching Lok Sabha elections and the mounting rhetoric of the Opposition, the government is likely to stumble into overreaction and deploy excessive resources in manpower and finances.

India faces two types of terrorist threats. The first is where armed terrorists go on a shooting spree and use grenades and explosives as was seen at Mumbai and the second where improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are placed at crowded places and the ultimate precision weapon: the ‘suicide bomber.’

The two sets of terrorist acts require a completely different range of counter measures. However, to counter both together, the most cost effective and economical approach is to have an intelligence organisation, which can come up with timely and actionable intelligence so as to neutralise these threats before they materialise.

Read more: What went wrong?And whose failure led to Mumbai mayhem?
Lt Gen Harwant Singh (Retd )

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

IESM: Press Release

Dear Members of the Press

1. The Defence Services have always come to the rescue of the country in crises. This is the time, we the members of the Armed Forces (Veterans) seek your (the media’s) help. Please do not leave us. Be sure, that by helping the Armed Forces, you will be serving the National cause. We bank on you for your outright support. Project our cause to the masses so that the truth gets known to all. Our cause is the “Justifiable status” to the Armed Forces in this country which has undergone drastic and an unacceptable erosion. If this is not done, we are afraid, the country cannot be saved from the morass it is being sucked into.

2. Indian Ex Servicemen Movement (IESM) is organizing “Paying Homage to the Defence Martyrs” on Vijay Diwas (Victory Day of 1971 War) at Amar Jawan Jyoti India Gate from 12 PM to 1 PM on 16 Dec 08. Large number of Defence Veterans and their families are attending the event. You are requested to cover the event in large numbers and express your solidarity to the Defence Services and their Martyrs of having done the great service to the Nation.

3. Indian Ex Servicemen Movement (IESM) is also organizing a Protest Rally and Relay Fast For Justice at Jantar Mantar New Delhi from 1 PM onwards on 16 Dec 08. Through you (the media), we invite all citizens who support the cause of Defence Services “Injustice to them” by successive Govts in lowering their status and respect for the past six decades to attend the Rally at Jantar Mantar on 16 Dec 08 at 1 PM and strengthen their resolve for peaceful protest Movement and ask the Govt to accept their genuine demands. You are requested to give wide publicity and cover the event extensively.

“Jai Hind, Jai Bharat, Jai Bhartiyta” Let us all join hands to reestablish Bharat the real strong, vibrant and true “Sone Ki Chiriya”

With Kind Regards,
Yours Sincerely,
Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
Vice Chairman Indian ESM Movement
Dated: 09 Dec 2008

The four demands of the Ex-Servicemen are:

  • One-rank-one-pension. This is an old standing demand that arouses strong emotions among all the 2.5 million military pensioners.
  • Resettlement of Ex-Servicemen in alternative government jobs till the age of sixty. This is required to be done through enactment of a Parliamentary Act. Till this materialises all military pensioners be given their last pay drawn as pension till they attain the age of sixty years.
  • Constituting of an Ex-Servicemen Commission with necessary statutory powers at the national level to look after all the welfare measures of the Ex-Servicemen community. As is the practice for all other similar commissions the Ex-Servicemen Commission be headed by and should have members from the three defence services.
  • Representation of the Ex-Servicemen on all committees and other such bodies constituted for the purpose of looking into matters affecting the interests of the Ex-Servicemen.

    The Indian Ex-Servicemen comprising all retired defence officers, JCOs and men have been expressing their disenchantment with the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations ever since the report was submitted to the government on 24 March 2008. After projecting the above demands to the various decision makers in the country, and not getting any assurance, as a last resort they have their case to the public. The pan India Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM)was formed to project their demands jointly. All India Rallies are being periodically organised by Veteran fraternity to highlight the injustices meted to them.
  • ECHS expansion of network in hibernation

    Letter No B/49705/ Expansion/AG/ECHS dated 20 Nov 2008 addressed to me and its enclosure are given below. Air Marshal Kuldip Rai and myself will be pursuing this.

    Cdr N Radhakrishnan (Retd)
    Central Organisation
    Ex- Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS)
    Adjutant General's Branch
    Integrated HQ of MoD (Army)
    Maude Line
    Delhi Cantt-110010
    Dated: 20 Nov 2008
    Brief on Expansion of ECHS Network is enclosed herewith as desired Please.
    Narinder Pal Singh
    Dir (Ops & Coord)
    for Offg MD ECHS

    1. All 227 ECHS POLY clinics were operationalised by Mar 2007. The ESM are pressing hard for more polyclinics all over the country. The Hon'ble Prime Minister and Hon'ble Raksha Mantri have expressed their desire during Kendriya Sainik Board Mtg on 19 May 2007 for setting up additional polyclinics. The same has also been reiterated by 12th Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. The issue has been analysed at Central Org ECHS after obtaining inputs from all service HQs, Kendriya Sainik Board and veterans' Associations.
    2. The proposal includes the following:
    (a) Establishing 196 New Polyclinics.
    (b) Upgrade 14 existing Polyclinics
    (c) Convert 11 Mil Polyclinics to Non- Mil.
    (d) Establish 14 additional Regional Centres
    3. The proposal was submitted to MoD on 05 Oct 08. There were some observations raised and re- raised a number of times hence the file moved between MoD (JS-ESW)and ECHS. It was sent to MoD on 05 May 2008 and no action so far has been taken on the same.

    Comment: Thanks to MoD file pushers- ECHS expansion is in hibernation- Bureaucrats passing the baby- sounds like a party game! This is a typical time delaying tactic/ technic. Welfare of soldiers is the last priority as is evident from the website displaying three years old statistics. Seeing is believing click: MoD: Resettlement & Welfare Schemes

    Monday, December 8, 2008

    Bureaucrats must share blame for terror mayhem: experts

    Major General (Retd) VK Singh, who retired from the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) - India's foreign intelligence agency - said bureaucrats should be held responsible for not providing the required infrastructure to the security establishment.

    "But the main culprits are the Intelligence Bureau and RAW which have time and again failed in their prime job of intelligence gathering. These are the only agencies that have no dearth of money and have the best available equipment in the world," said VK Singh.

    "Even when our defence forces are accountable to the parliamentary committee, both the IB and RAW are outside its purview as well as that of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)." "The day they (IB and RAW) are made accountable to parliament for their actions and the money spent, we will see more discipline among the officials and perhaps would be able to crack down on terrorists before time. At present, no one is sacked for indiscipline and failure in their duty," he added. Joginder Singh said along with the home minister some bureaucrats should also be made accountable and they must go.
    Full article at: Bureaucrats must share blame for terror mayhem: experts
    The reaction of India’s security agencies in the aftermath of a terrorist incident has become so predictable, that it is almost text book. It is a classic example of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
    Indian Bureaucracy Is Biggest Ally Of Terrorists By Firoze Hirjikaka Published: 5/16/2008
    After the carnage, what next? by Lt Gen Vinay Shankar
    Terrorism Timeline: Pakistan and the Global War on Terror. Pakistan Plays Friend and Foe to U.S.
    Pakistan Kashmir History

    Failure- the buck stops nowhere
    At the top of the intelligence pyramid is the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), headed by an all-powerful, politically-appointed National Security Advisor (NSA), who often has much more than terrorism on his mind. Intelligence operations within the country are carried out by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and its wide network of officers and men, all reporting to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

    The ministry is headed by a cabinet minister and one or two ministers of state - besides a secretary and other senior officials - who often get tempted, at least close to the elections, to utilize the IB for assessing the electoral chances of their party while spying on their rivals. The IB is grossly under-staffed and the field operatives, numbering 3000, and analysts need to be updated on skills urgently.

    External intelligence is the responsibility of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), working directly under the cabinet secretary but reporting to the NSA for all practical purposes. The RAW keeps a sharp eye on the activities of terrorist groups with bases in foreign countries. According to former IB joint director Maloy Krishna Dhar, RAW's reluctance to share information with the IB is legendary. There have also been instances where personality clashes have deterred effective coordination between the NSA and RAW chiefs. The RAW, for the moment, is riven with dissensions in the top rung and afflicted by unsavoury mud-slinging between various officers which have seriously affected its capability.
    Failure of Indian intelligence: The buck stops nowhere

    Comment: The Intelligence Agencies shrouded and clothed in secrecy is taking the Nation for a ride. No responsibility no accountability. Unsolicited power corrupts and end result: lavishly spending the tax payers money!

    BSNL Broadband offers 20% discount to ESM

    The scheme is to be launched from 1 December 2008 across BSNL network and is a continuous scheme.

    The serving and retired government employees applying for Broadband Connection under this scheme, should furnish an undertaking countersigned by their Drawing and Disbursing Officer regarding their bonafide along with the application. In case of retired employees, an attested copy of the Pension Pay Order should be submitted along with the application. The application should be marked as “FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES SCHEME”.

    The scheme is also applicable to existing Broadband customers who are serving/retired government employees subject to their furnishing an undertaking as detailed above. The discount of 20% in Broadband Service charges for the existing customers will also be applicable if they apply,from the month of such application.

    Source: Broadband for Government Employees
    BSNL official news availabe at: BSNL webpage

    India is an easy target for terrorists

    Indian Express Posted: Dec 07, 2008 at 1308 hrs IST.
    Kiran Bedi has said that India is a soft target for terrorists and that the 'neighbours' are aware of it.
    Mumbai: Accusing the political class of holding on to the reins of control of the police force, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi has said the country is a soft target for terrorists and that the 'neighbours' are aware of it.

    "Our system is old and medieval and the neighbours know this. We have not let the police system become professional and fully accountable because politicians and bureaucrats want to retain control," the first woman IPS officer said.

    "Professionalising the police means true rule of law - a police fully accountable to law and no one else," Bedi said.

    On the recent Terror attack on Mumbai, Bedi said, "All those who had access to information, be it politicans, bureaucrats, law enforcement agencies and police among others should be held responsible for the attack."

    "Breach in accountability ought to have meant dismissals and not mere transfers or suspensions. And later, reinstatements," she added.

    Calling for sweeping changes in the archaic criminal legal system, Bedi said citizens should play an active role in demanding changes and seeking accountability.

    "Our laws have never been known to keep pace with ground needs. We still have the Police Act of 1861, Prison Act of 1894 and the Indian Penal Code, also of the same vintage.

    Our elected representatives accuse each other but do not legislate. They have failed us on this completely," she said.

    "We all have to wake up and shake off the slumber or else we will be victimised more and more. And the invisibles will continue to get away," Bedi said.

    The problem cannot be solved by rolling heads of politicians, Bedi said adding, "It requires a major shift in the way we administer policing...its processes and its resources, the way we govern, coordinate and deliver...the sense of urgency with which we treat police and justice issues, laws and resources."

    Lack of manpower, technology and little coordination are a few reasons for lapses in security, the Magsaysay Award winner said.

    "Where are the men and resources even for normal day-to-day policing? Ordinary crimes are not registered for want of manpower. Mobility is weak. Use of IT is low. And coordination almost negligible," Bedi said.
    India is an easy target for terroists: Kiran Bedi

    Updates on Mumbai Terror
    Mumbai terror attacks may spur closer US- India ties
    Mumbai attack: Act now, or we’ll act, America warns Pak
    McCain warns Pakistan of Indian strikes
    Mumbai Blasts: Taj Burning; More pics from terrorist killing
    India's most wanted

    Who else can be more competent than Kiran Bedi as advisor to the Home Minister? She is best cop in the world. Kiran Bedi is the only one capable of reducing terror to a zero in the Nation. Will the Politicians repose trust in her like the common people- a million dollar question?

    Sunday, December 7, 2008

    Firing from the other man's shoulder?

    Dear Fauji Friends,

    Last week Maj Gen Joshi called on me. He was an esteemed instructor during our Degree Course days, and EME officers would remember him as one of our finest engineers. Indeed, he spent most of his time with the DRDO. He was commissioned in Jun 1960 and was in the Eastern sector during the 1962 debacle. He has analyzed the event very systematically, and his study reveals the following :
  • Pt Nehru, the architect of modern India suffered a severe stroke of depression from which he never quite recovered. He died in May 1964 at the comparatively young age of 73.
  • VK Krishna Menon was removed from the post of Raksha Mantri for his incorrect assessment of the situation.
  • Gen Thapar, the COAS was sacked. The careers of Lt Gen Kaul and scores of other military officers took a "U" turn.
  • A few thousand soldiers died; many more were wounded and some were taken prisoners.
  • The psyche of the country received a severe blow. It was considered a 'National Shame'

    The question he asked me was, "Who was the Defence Secretary? And what was the punishment meted out to him?" I have asked several friends and also surfed the Internet but I am unable to find an answer. In all probability nothing was done to him, because he had no role in this!

    Gen Joshi then took this discussion a step further. He observed that during the recent attack on Mumbai, dozens of soldiers and policemen have been killed. The whole nation is shaken. Mr Shivraj Patil has lost his prestigious job. The CM of Maharashtra has been axed and several heads in the government are likely to roll. Can some one tell us as to what action has been taken against the Union Home Secretary or the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra? (Thomas tells me that they will all be "promoted" soon though he does not know why).

    Having spent many years in and around the South Block, I marvel at the way our government has been structured. The Civil Servants rule the roost. In terms of promotions and status they are ahead of every one else by miles. They are central in the Pay Commission and the Cabinet Secretary is involved in every major decision making process. Yet, when things go wrong, they wash their hands off so clean that one wonders how!

    A slightly closer examination reveals the secret. I have figured it out this way:
  • They never do anything themselves. They always find some one else to be the head, and they know how to reduce him to be a 'figure head'. (In the Pay Commissions, they have a retired Judge). However they place themselves in a spot which has the maximum opportunity to influence matters.
  • After the event, they never face the Press or the Media. Their role is amorphous.
  • The senior amongst them rarely sign a letter or order. Our pension letter is signed by a Director, who is not directly recruited IAS officer. Only rarely do you find a paper signed by a Joint Secretary. Officers above that level do not sign any document.
  • They have a strong association. It protects the interests of its members dutifully and diligently.

    So we have our Defence headquarters in which the postings, promotions, rewards and punishments of all senior officers are controlled by the civil servants; and they also have the final say in the process of procurement of weapons and eqpt, but they are not "responsible" if things go wrong! It is authority without responsibility. (For those who may not know, a lowly officer in the MoD can have a Deputy Chief posted out, but a Service Chief can not get even a Desk Officer moved)

    When Gen Joshi left, I found myself perplexed. What sort of system have we evolved? And how has it survived all these years? It is a bit like a unit in which the clerks are running the unit and the CO is so dependent on the Head Clerk that he can not move without their help!

    Can someone give a cogent answer to the questions raised by Gen Joshi?

    Maj Gen Surjit Singh (Retd)

    PS: Politicians wear the dress of the people they represent, to identify themselves with the masses. Soldiers and Policemen wear uniforms. Can some one tell what the Civil Servants wear? The answer came from the wag who said, "Civil servants wear thick skins".
    IAS lobby Protects corrupt officials:
    Bihar flood scam: Govt reinstates ailing IAS officer
    The crumbling steel-frame of bureaucracy
    Military, Bureaucracy and Political Leadership: Lessons
    Public Accountability

    Height of Prophesy
    Winston Churchill had the following outburst on the eve of independence of India...
    "Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles".

    It has proven to be even worse than his prediction. May we, the people unite and start taking those rascals and rogues to task...
    Jai Hind!
    Col RP Chaturvedi (Retd)

    Retired general chosen Veterans Affairs minister in Obama cabinet
    US president-elect Barack Obama has chosen retired general Eric K Shinseki to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary, turning to a former Army chief of staff once vilified by the Bush administration for questioning its Iraq war strategy.

    Shinseki is a recipient of two Purple Hearts for life-threatening injuries in Vietnam.

    Upon leaving his post in June 2003, Shinseki in his farewell speech sternly warned against arrogance in leadership.

    "You must love those you lead before you can be an effective leader," he said. "You can certainly command without that sense of commitment, but you cannot lead without it. And without leadership, command is a hollow experience, a vacuum often filled with mistrust and arrogance."

    Shinseki also left with the warning: "Beware a 12-division strategy for a 10-division army".
    Rumsfeld nemesis named in Obama Cabinet

    Question: Can we not have an Ex- Serviceman or Soldier to head the ESM Welfare Deptt in the MoD? Do civil servants have the competence to comprehend the burning issues beseeching the ESM fraternity?
  • National Defence Academy 60 Glorious Years

    A Tribune Supplement
    Chandigarh, December 7, 2008

    First step in and out of the NDA by Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (Retd)
    It was on a chilly winter dawn in January, 1949, when we arrived at the vacant, almost desolate barracks in Dehradun that housed the newly established Joint Services Wing.

    Memories of another day by Maj Gen Raj Mehta (Retd)
    I am not a product of the National Defence Academy (NDA) but had the rare privilege of being an Instructor (Military Faculty) there from 1981-1984, as a Captain/Major.

    Heroes: NDA’s gift to the nation
  • Param Vir Chakra
  • Ashok Chakra

    Joint training institutions are the answer by Vijay Mohan
    Defence policy built upon supposedly predictable actions of a potential adversary is a dangerous folly.

    Training for leadership by Brig Ravi Palsokar (Retd)
    The National Defence Academy is rightly called the “cradle for leadership”. Here boys (girls are not yet allowed) straight out of school get into a uniform which they take off only after they retire, a service period that covers about 35 to 45 years.

    Shooting Star by Vijay Nohan
    The country’s first individual Olympics medal winner, Lt Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is an alumnus of the NDA’s 77th Course. He had won Silver in shooting in the 2004 Olympics held at Athens.

    Girl who could not make it to NDA by Geetanjali Gayatri
    A pebbled driveway, an imposing old English-style mansion, a nameplate announcing Lt-Col Desraj, and, inside, a picture on the mantelpiece in the drawing room — that was my maternal grandfather for me.

    National Defence Academy

    12 Course Reunion
    14 Course Reunion
    18 Course reunion
    25 Course Reunion
    38 Course reunion

    NDA Pride
    Hut of remembrance
    Sudan Block
    Khetarpal Parade Ground

    Welcome to the web site of the First Course Joint Services Wing
    First Course JSW
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