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Now military veterans to return medals over OROP

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New Delhi: Days after Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said that the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) for retired military personnel will be implemented after the Bihar elections, Armed forces veterans staging a protest here to press their demand for the scheme on Friday announced that they will return their medals across the country on November 9-10.

“We have unanimously decided to return our medals across India,” said Group Captain V K Gandhi, the general secretary of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement.

On 145th day of the protest at Jantar Mantar here and across the country, the armed forces veterans also decided to escalate, upgrade and intensify their agitation.

“The government is willing to provide us an OROP, which is full of discrepancies and is not as per its definition. To protest, all ex-servicemen with their medals will line up in discipline and dignified manner in each district across the nation on November 9-10,” Gandhi told reporters here.

“The district magistrate will collect the medals and if he doesn’t come to collect it, the medals will be left behind. The DMs will be requested to guard their medals. We would request them to send these medals either to Prime Minister Narendra Modi or to President Pranab Mukherjee,” he added.

On October 12 the Defence Minister said that contentious issues including those related to premature retirement had been resolved, conceding that the inclusion of the phrase Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) in the declaration announced by his ministry in September had triggered confusion.

“I think I will have to wait up for the Bihar elections. Because the Election Commission is in no mood to give permission to actually issue the order. This is my understanding. I will not like to be in part of controversy,” Parrikar said during a public interaction near Panaji.

“The notification will be issued after Bihar election because I do not want to get notice by Election Commission,” he said.

Parrikar clarified that “those who get premature retirement will get OROP even in future”.

“That confusion started because the word VRS was a part of the declaration. The interpretation got slightly mixed up. It was not (done) intentionally,” he added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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NATO Advances Its Weaponry And Technology

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said increasing military spending by NATO members would help tackle some of the challenges.

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NATO
A general view of USS Mount Whitney of the US Navy at sunrise as it approaches the port during the NATO-led military exercise Trident Juncture, Nov. 3, in Trondheim, Norway. VOA

NATO is developing new high-tech tools, such as the ability to 3-D-print parts for weapons and deliver them by drone, as it scrambles to retain a competitive edge over Russia, China and other would-be battlefield adversaries.

Gen. Andre Lanata, who took over as head of the NATO transformation command in September, told a conference in Berlin that his command demonstrated over 21 “disruptive” projects during military exercises in Norway this month.

He urged startups as well as traditional arms manufacturers to work with the Atlantic alliance to boost innovation, as rapid and easy access to emerging technologies was helping adversaries narrow NATO’s long-standing advantage.

NATO
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for the NATO summit in Brussels, May 25, 2017.Source-VOA

Lanata’s command hosted its third “innovation challenge” in tandem with the conference this week, where 10 startups and smaller firms presented ideas for defeating swarms of drones on the ground and in the air.

Winner from Belgium

Belgian firm ALX Systems, which builds civilian surveillance drones, won this year’s challenge.

Its CEO, Geoffrey Mormal, said small companies like his often struggled with cumbersome weapons procurement processes.

“It’s a very hot topic, so perhaps it will help to enable quicker decisions,” he told Reuters.

NATO
A Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon is prepared for testing at the Eglin Air Force Armament Center on March 11, 2003. VOA

Lanata said NATO was focused on areas such as artificial intelligence, connectivity, quantum computing, big data and hypervelocity, but also wants to learn from DHL and others how to improve the logistics of moving weapons and troops.

Also Read: Weapons, Bombs Easily Detected by Wi-Fi: Study

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said increasing military spending by NATO members would help tackle some of the challenges, but efforts were also needed to reduce widespread duplication and fragmentation in the European defense sector.

Participants also met behind closed doors with chief executives from 12 of the 15 biggest arms makers in Europe. (VOA)