Haifa, Israel commemorates the role of soldiers from India’s Army

The municipality of Haifa, Israel   commemorates the the sacrifices made by soldiers, from India (fighting for the British crown),  many of whom are buried in the cemetery here.  Stories of their valiant efforts in liberating the coastal city during the First World War will be included in the school history curriculum.

“The move is a part of Haifa’s efforts to preserve the city’s history and heritage,” Hedva Almog, deputy Mayor of Haifa said.

Many Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives in this region during the First World War and nearly 900 are cremated or buried in cemeteries across Israel. Almog said that the municipality is planning big centenary celebrations to commemorate the event in 2018, calling upon India to join hands in making it a success. Charge de Affaires at the Indian mission in Tel Aviv, Vani Rao, reacted positively to the request extending support in organizing the Centenary celebrations.

The Indian army commemorates September 23 as Haifa Day, to pay its respects to the two brave Indian Cavalry Regiments that helped liberate the city in 1918 following a dashing cavalry action by the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade. Residents of the Israeli city also celebrate Haifa Day with a series of cultural programs during the week.

November 28, 2012   No Comments

Indian Navy fleet visits Haifa, Israel

Four Indian navy warships equipped with modern weaponry are on a goodwill visit to Haifa,Israel to “strengthen service-to- service linkages”, as the two countries celebrate 20 years of diplomatic ties.  The Mediterranean tour of the four vessels (INS Mumbai, Trishul, Gomti and Aditya)  is  headed by Rear Admiral A. R. Karve,  of India’s Western Fleet who will call upon Israeli naval officers and the Mayor of Haifa, Yona Yahav.

The Indian sailors will also pay respects at the memorial of Indian soldiers buried in Haifa while fighting for the Allied Forces, under the Britich Crown in the battle for the  liberation of Haifa during the Second World War. As a  tribute to these Indian soldiers, the municipality of Haifa has decided to include the stories of their valiant efforts by incorporating them in the school history curriculum.

August 2, 2012   No Comments

India studies Israeli border fence

A delegation from India will arrive in Israel next month to study the various technologies used by the Israeli Defense Forces to secure their borders with the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Egypt, and which could be implemented as part of India’s own fence with Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Israel began constructing a barrier along its border with Egypt to stem terrorism and infiltrations by illegal migrants. The Defense Ministry and IDF have so far completed about 90 miles; the 15 foot high barbed-wire fence is supported by dozens of radars deployed along the border to issue alerts about possible crossings while the potential infiltrators are miles away.

Israel Border Fence

Israel is building a new fence on the border with Egypt

India is interested in beefing up its border security to prevent future incidents like the Mumbai attacks in 2008. The Indian press reported Sunday on a tunnel that had been discovered under the border with Pakistan in the  Kashmir region.

What this means

India is prepared to spend billions to protect its western land and sea borders from foreign terrorists.  Physical and intelligence solutions from all quarters are welcomed.

August 1, 2012   No Comments

Indian Air Force to be led by Charlie Browne

Air Marshal Norman Anil Kumar “Charlie” Browne will be India’s new Chief of the Air Staff starting July 31, 2011.  He will take over from the current Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall P.V. Naik, whom I met in 2009 at Vayu Bhavan (Air Force Headquarters) in New Delhi.

India Air Chief Marshall NAK Charlie Browne

Incoming Indian Chief of Air Staff N.A.K. "Charlie" Browne

(For my Western readers who may be surprised at his western sounding name, note that India has 25 million Christians and the religion first came to India with the Apostle Thomas; Christianity in India predated the induction of the religition into Europe by hundreds of years; Catholicism came to India with the arrival of Portuguese and French traders in the fifteenth century and protestant missionaries from England arrived in nineteenth century. Air Force camaraderie often results in nicknames for officers and with a last name like Brown, it is no surprise that his buddies were reminded of the Peanuts character, who is recognizable in India).

A 1972 graduate of India’s prestigious National Defence Academy near Pune, Browne served as an instructor at the Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment and the Tri-services Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, India. He has logged 3,100 hours of flying. Before taking over as the Vice chief of the Air Staff in January 2011, he was the AOC-in-C of Western Air Command, the IAF’s most vital operational command since it protects the border with Pakistan.

An ace MiG-21 and Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter pilot, 59-year-old Browne was responsible for establishing the Indian Defense Wing in Tel Aviv, Israel in April 1997 at the time when India was starting to open up to the Jewish state. Under his command, the first landing of a Russian-made AN-32 transport aircraft took place at Nyoma Advanced Landing Ground, at an altitude of 13,300 feet in Leh, Ladakh in September 2009.

According to Aviation Week magazine, “Browne  will oversee substantial changes in asset deployments to give the IAF greater reach and faster response to perceived external threats.  Last October, Browne said the IAF would consider basing detachments of new-generation fighters at its high-altitude border bases, including Su-30MKIs. Under Browne, the IAF also will raise its first fighter squadrons in India’s southern peninsula, including some of the aircraft acquired in the MMRCA competition, to provide security to India’s island territories and sea lanes. Parity with the Pakistan Air Force, and to a much larger extent China’s air force, will be a major preoccupation for the new chief in the face of dwindling aircraft numbers.”

The magazine also noted “His tenure as IAF chief will also likely see the signing of contracts worth tens of billions of dollars.  One key program that Browne will oversee is the $12-billion Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). Browne played a central role in navigating the MMRCA teams through the competitive process during his 2007-09 tenure as deputy chief of the IAF. During his time in office, the government will likely sign deals for 10 or more Boeing C-17 heavy transports, six new-generation tanker transports (the Airbus Military A330 and Ilyushin Il-78 are in the running), 22 attack helicopters, 12 heavy-lift helicopters and nearly 200 basic trainer aircraft.”

What this means

Air Chief Marshall Browne’s tenure is likely to see continuity in acquisition planning and execution from his predecessor. Western companies should appreciate the stability while being aware that large capital decisions are not made exclusively by the Air Force alone. Other ministries, departments and geo-political forces can also come into play.  Browne’s credentials make him well qualified to deal with the new role. Sadly, given the Indian seniority based systemand retirement policies, his tenure is likely to be too short.

June 13, 2011   No Comments