3 November 2012

New defence procurement procedure in early 2013

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 2nd Nov 12 

A top defence ministry (MoD) official today revealed that the Defence Procurement Procedure of 2011 (DPP-2011), which governs the procurement of military weapons and equipment would be modified in early 2013.

“The Defence Procurement Policy is undergoing changes; and the 2013 edition of the DPP will come out early next year,” said Air Marshal M Matheswaran, the Deputy Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), addressing a KPMG-organised defence industry gathering in New Delhi.

He said that the new DPP would liberalise defence procurement further. This conformed to industry expectations, as it has been the trend in successive modifications to the DPP in 2005, 2006, 2008 and the currently valid DPP-2011.

Matheswaran urged private industry to focus less on the high value, high technology weapons platforms (e.g. aircraft and tanks) on which the big defence money is spent. Instead, suggested Matheswaran, private industry should emulate the auto parts industry by setting up manufacturing units that were part of a global supply chain. These small units would form the backbone of a countrywide defence industrial base.

In the MoD’s planning, such a defence industrial backbone is crucial for maintaining, repairing, overhauling and upgrading the complex defence platforms that are currently being bought overseas and manufactured under licence in India.

“Rather than focusing on large weapons systems integration and manufacture as the only way, I think we need to break down the supply chain into many component parts, so that you become part of a global supply chain. If you look only at the Indian military as the only source of your order book, then you’re not going to have continuous orders for any length of time,” said Matheswaran. 

The IDS deputy chief urged industry to develop small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which would produce the components that would go into larger and more complex system that would eventually be built by large conglomerates like the Tatas, L&T and the Mahindras. 

Highlighting the “enormous” opportunities for private industry, Matheswaran pointed out the scope for India’s capital expenditure to grow from its current Rs 80,000 crore. “Our defence budget is still much less than the global average of three per cent of GDP. We haven’t exceeded even two per cent of GDP,” he said.

Rising Instability and Regional Naval Modernisation in East Asia


Kamlesh K. Agnihotri

November 2, 2012

There is growing concern around the world about developments over the last two months in the Senkaku Islands sovereignty dispute between China and Japan. The very fact that the two countries, which are otherwise engaged in a comprehensive and mutually dependent social, economic and people-to-people relationship, chose to adopt strident postures on the issue goes to show how the geopolitical situation in the region, particularly in the maritime domain, is much more precariously poised than it appears on the surface.

The Japanese sovereignty claim over the Senkakus is based on the premise that Japan integrated the islands into Okinawa Prefecture in 1895 after conducting surveys to ascertain that the islands were uninhabited and not under the control of any other country. But China contends that its sovereignty over what it refers to as the Diaoyu Islands historically dates back to the era of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and that the Japanese pushed the weak Qing rulers to sign the Treaty of Shimonoseki post the Sino-Japan War of 1894-95 ceding these islands to Japan. For its part, Taiwan claims that when Japan relinquished control over ‘Formosa’ and its administered islands post the Second World War, the Diaoyu islands, which belonged to this administrative unit, also became a part of Taiwan. Be that as it may, Taiwan has not been vehemently pressing its claim and is letting China do the needful for the time being. In the current context, Tokyo’s purchase and intended nationalisation of the Senkaku Islands has been seen as a grave provocation by both China and Taiwan. The situation is deteriorating to a degree wherein it threatens to derail their bilateral relations and create serious instability in the region.

The Senkaku island issue is not the only issue of discord in East Asia’s maritime zone. There are other major and outstanding territorial contestations involving China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Taiwan. Japan has sovereignty disputes over the outlying Kurile Islands with Russia. Though all the 56 Islands of this group are under Russian jurisdiction, Japan claims the two southernmost large islands (Iturup and Kunashir) as well as two islets, which has led to the ongoing dispute. Then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s first ever visit to the Kuriles in November 2010 brought the dispute again into limelight.

The other dispute relate to the ownership of the Dokdo/Takeshima islands between South Korea and Japan. Both countries claim sovereignty based in large part on differing interpretations of historical documents. The dispute has regularly caused diplomatic frictions between the two countries. On 10 August 2012, the President of South Korea, Lee Myung-Bak, visited the islands, which made Japan temporarily withdraw its ambassador in Seoul. Japan has made four proposals for referring the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for arbitration, the last being in 2012, but South Korea has thus far declined the offer.

The fragility of inter-Korean relations has been more than evident in recent times. The Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue have waxed and waned and finally became stalled in 2008 without the desired result of capping of the North Korean nuclear programme. North Korea has been continually involved in military skirmishes with South Korea across the northern limiting line (NLL), which it does not recognise as a boundary. The underlying tensions tend to flare up occasionally. There was a bitter standoff at sea in November 2009 wherein the naval ships of both countries fired at each other across the NLL, resulting in much damage and fatalities. The most horrific incident happened in March 2010 when a South Korean naval patrol vessel ‘Cheonan’ was apparently torpedoed and sunk by a North Korean submarine off the Korean coast, killing all 46 naval personnel on board. Responsibility could not be pinned conclusively on North Korea, resulting in South Korea not being able to respond appropriately.

Japan, like South Korea, is also wary of the North Korean nuclear and missile development programmes. North Korea has serious differences with the United States as well. Japan and South Korea, which maintain an alliance with the United States and on whose territories US forces are based, fear retribution from North Korea on this account. Both countries want to see the North Korean nuclear programme plugged and are involved in this effort through the Six-Party talks. China, as the coordinator for the talks and as a country that wields substantial leverage over North Korea, indirectly adds more complexity to this issue.

In addition to these disputes and over the Spratly group in the South China Sea, the most critical issue that remains outstanding is the re-unification of Taiwan with China. Although the cross-strait relationship has been improving in recent years, Taiwan is wary of reunification and the United States has expressly stated its support for Taiwan in the event of China resorting to the use of force for this purpose.
Impact of Naval Modernisation in East Asia

Against such a tenuous background, the ongoing naval modernisation in East Asian countries is causing the regional dynamics to become progressively more complex. A broad comparison of Japanese and Chinese naval hardware demonstrates that the PLA Navy is by far the more superior force ‘tonnage for tonnage’. While that may give an impression that the situation is pretty much loaded against Japan, the fact remains that the Japanese Navy, armed with 48 ‘major surface combatants’ including ‘helicopter destroyers’, Aegis guided-missile destroyers and 16 diesel-electric submarines, is no pushover. The ongoing fast-paced Chinese naval modernisation and specific efforts of the Japanese Navy towards hi-technology upgrade of its inventory must also be noted in this context.

As far as the Senkaku dispute is concerned, the pressure felt by Japan from other territorial disputes with Russia and South Korea contributes to its uncompromising stance on the Senkaku, the only disputed territory under its effective control. Boundary patrols around the Senkaku are led by the civilian Japanese Coast Guard. However, the Self Defence Forces have extended their surveillance posture south of Okinawa and are being trained and equipped for the defence of outlying islands. China, on its part, has also deployed ten of its maritime surveillance ships. At the same time, ships and submarines of the PLA Navy’s East Sea Fleet are conducting extensive exercises in the East China Sea including live firing of missiles and other ordnance. Amphibious exercises for beach landing and seizure have also been conducted.

Although Japan’s formidable defence capabilities and the US treaty guarantee constrain China’s military options in the Senkakus, Beijing’s move to assert its sovereignty claims through military presence raises the risk of collisions or other events involving serious injuries, loss of life or property. Should this happen, there will inevitably be a public outcry for an active response within China in particular, which its leadership, in the current period of political transition, may find hard to ignore. In such a situation, the possibility of a localised China-Japan military clash breaking out in the East China Sea cannot be entirely ruled out.

While the Senkaku dispute remains on the boil, the North Koreans may also indulge in some kind of brinkmanship. They have demonstrated an astute sense of gauging the geopolitical situation for more than half a century. Their propensity to indulge in pre-emptive unilateral activities to draw maximum mileage from geopolitical complexities is also well known. One should not put it beyond them to leverage the emerging China-Japan crisis to engage in brinkmanship with the South Koreans. On 24 September 2012, Pyongyang denounced the warning shots fired by South Korean naval ships at its six fishing boats along the disputed NLL as acts of provocation. In fact, the North Korean vice Foreign Minister rhetorically warned, during his address at the UN General Assembly on 01 October 2012, that “due to the hostile American policies towards DPRK, the Korean Peninsula had become the World’s most dangerous hotspot and was [but] one spark away from nuclear war”.

Even though the South Korean Navy is stronger than its North Korean counterpart and is modernising at a moderate pace, it also looks to the United States to keep the situation vis-à-vis North Korea under control. On the other hand, while the North Korean Navy remains pretty static in its modernisation effort, Pyongyang looks to leverage its nuclear programme and land based short range delivery systems to balance the superior South Korean naval strength. Just as Japan and South Korea bank on positive US military support, North Korea relies on the tacit, if not direct, backing of China.

But, the American diplomatic efforts to bring back a sense of normalcy between China and Japan over the Senkakus does not seem to be having the desired calming influence. While Japan expects the United States to clearly favour its position, China, on the other hand, views Washington’s overtures as superficial at best, given its clear opposition to the increasing US involvement in the security affairs of the region. The United States, which maintains a sizeable maritime force in the region, has not helped matters in any way by announcing its ‘pivot to the Asia-Pacific’ and calling for a multilateral approach to the resolution of disputes in the South China Sea. Thus, Washington faces a real dilemma with at least three countries in the area openly soliciting its support as alliance partners, while it debates on how not to get involved directly.

An open conflict over the Senkakus could probably eclipse even the tensions between the two Koreas and in the South China Sea, in the near term. Considering the factors of geographical proximity between China and Japan, high technological quality of Japanese ships and comparatively better professional and training standards of the Japanese Navy vis-a-vis their Chinese counterparts, a conflict, even if it were to be restricted to a localised one, would not throw up a clear winner.

Considering the other complementary interests and interdependencies at stake between the two countries as also their individual aspirations of nation building through peace and stability, this clash would only result in a ‘lose-lose’ outcome. Notwithstanding the manner in which this issue pans out, Washington would have to walk a real diplomatic tightrope as its credibility vis-a-vis both Japan and China would be at stake, not to mention the other allies who would watch and draw their own conclusions. Commander Kamlesh Kumar Agnihotri is a Research Fellow with the China Cell of the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are solely his own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Government or of the National Maritime Foundation. The author can be reached at kkagnihotri@maritimeindia.org

The World in Photos This Week

Hurricane Sandy slams New York, Syrian air strikes pummel Aleppo, and Big Ben grows a mustache.

NOVEMBER 2, 2012

Water rushes into the Carey Tunnel (previously the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel) in New York's Financial District during Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29. The storm caused damages estimated to be as high as $50 billion and left communities across the northeast without power. Some observers, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, argued that the extreme storm should revitalize a public conversation about climate change.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

A firefighter helps clear a flooded street in Santo Domingo on Oct. 25. Superstorm Sandy hit the Dominican Republic as a Category 2 hurricane before continuing up the coast of the United States and merging with a nor'easter.


A paramilitary policeman passes by a portrait of China's President Hu Jintao at an exhibition entitled "Scientific Development and Splendid Achievements" on Oct. 30 in Beijing. The exhibition is intended to showcase China's progress in political, economic, cultural, and ecological spheres over the past decade, as part of the leadup to next week's 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, when the next premier will be announced.

Feng Li/Getty Images

President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally at the Cheyenne Sports Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 1. Both Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are making a final push for support ahead of Tuesday's election.


A man cries while being treated in a local hospital in a rebel-controlled area of Aleppo on Oct. 31. The man's 8 year-old daughter was killed and his son (sitting at left in background) were wounded by fire from a Syrian Air Force jet in the Karm al-Aser neighborhood of eastern Aleppo. The unprecedented surge in air strikes carried out by Syrian forces this week is an attempt by President Bashar al-Assad's regime to reverse recent gains by rebel fighters, analysts and rebels say.

Javier Manzano/AFP/Getty Images

An inmate with shackles around his ankles skips over an open trench at Rumbek central prison in Juba, South Sudan. In the ramshackle capital of the world's newest nation, over 100 people await execution in filthy and crowded conditions. Like so much in the country, the legal system remains in tatters after decades of war with Sudan, with conflicting, sometimes overlapping systems of justice.


Soldiers from 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment receive their Afghanistan Operational Service Medals at Picton Barracks on Nov. 1 in Bulford, England. The parade was the first in a series of events marking the end of their six-month deployment to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Helmand. This week, two more British soldiers were shot dead at a checkpoint in Afghanistan by a man wearing a local police uniform.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

British driver Lewis Hamilton at speed during the second practice session at the Yas Marina circuit on Nov. 2 ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix.


A man decorates a relative's grave at Montjuic cemetery in Barcelona on Nov. 1 during the Catholic All Saints' Day. Spaniards celebrate All Saints' Day by visiting tombstones of relatives and paying their respects to the dead.


An Israeli woman works on marijuana plants at Tikkun Olam greenhouse, near the northern Israeli city of Safed, on Nov. 1. The Tikkun Olam company, which grows medicinal cannabis, has developed unique strains of the drug without psychoactive effects but with improved anti-inflammatory properties.


Port police officers light flares and shout slogans during an anti-austerity demonstration in Athens on Nov. 1. Greece unveiled a tough new austerity budget on Wednesday, sparking a call for a 48-hour general strike. The European Union maintains there is still work to be done before the recession-hit country can access loan funds needed to stave off bankruptcy.


Big Ben, one of Britain's most iconic landmarks, lights up with a giant mustache on Oct. 31 as part of the 2012 "Movember" campaign in London. Over the next 31 days, "MoBros" in Britain and elsewhere will give up their shorn top lip in an attempt to raise money and change attitudes towards men's health.

Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images for Movember

A new Jewish immigrant smiles during a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv after arriving from Ethiopia on Oct. 29. Some 240 Ethiopian Jews arrived on the flight, the first of a series of monthly flights planned as part of Operation Dove's Wings, an Israeli government initiative to bring to Israel the remainder of the Falash Mura, members of the Ethiopian Jewish community.

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Rakhine farmers harvest in a rice paddy near Pa Rein village in Rakhine state, Myanmar, on Oct. 29. Over 20,000 people have been displaced following violent clashes between Rakhine people, who make up the majority of the state's population, and Muslims from the state of Rohingya. The clashes, which began in June, have so far reportedly claimed 80 lives.

Kaung Htet /Getty Images

The Nepalese Swayambhunath Stupa is partially illuminated by the moon in Kathmandu on Nov. 1. The Stupa, located west of the city, is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal.

Clashing Titans: Military Strategy and Insecurity Among Asian Great Powers

 03 November 2012

While Asia is widely expected to be at the centre of global politics in the 21st century, the rise of Asia as a powerhouse - in economic, politico-strategic and military terms - has created ripples around the world. The region that was on the periphery has become a crucial determinant in shaping the new century. Thus, there is a slow transition of power taking place, from Trans-Atlantic to Asia and the West is still coming to grips with this new reality.

At the same time, whether Asia's future is characterised by conflict or cooperation will obviously have an impact on both global futures and India's security. Though there has been a continuing debate on this issue, most previous works are either theoretical or focused on political relations. While both these approaches are important, they ignore an equally important issue: military strategies of the major powers of the region and how they might interact to produce stability or conflict in the region.

Previous works on military strategies of the great powers in this region have also been lacking because they have focused on one or two countries, which is grossly misleading because it simplifies the complexities of the region. Second, even the individual country studies available are primarily done in the west and from a western perspective. Therefore, an Indian perspective on the subject has been lacking.

In an effort to bridge these gaps in the understanding, Observer Research Foundation has brought out a new study, titled Clashing Titans: Military Strategy and Insecurity Among Asian Great Powers. This publication is authored by Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Senior Fellow in the Securities Studies. The book has has attempted to study the military strategies of the four major Asian powers - China, the United States, Japan and Russia - seeking to fill this gap, from an Asian and specifically an Indian perspective.

The timing of the transition of power taking place, from Trans-Atlantic to Asia and the West, has been particularly significant - the West is still caught in the global financial crisis whereas most of the Asian countries (not hit badly in the first place) have come out of the crisis by and large untouched. This has had telling effect on the manner in which the Asian countries are conducting business (economic and strategic) with the rest of the world. This has had its effect also on the military modernisation that has kept pace with the economic growth of Asia. Rebalancing the world economy in tune with the new reality will also dictate rebalancing and recalibration of the regional and global power dynamics, of which military matters is a significant input.

The U.S. has continued to be the sole superpower since the end of the Cold War. However, rise of new power centres such as China, Russia, Japan and India, there is strong expectation that the U.S. pre-eminence will decrease over a period of time. The question is whether the period of transition, as the U.S. power declines and other powers rise, will result in a period of tension or not, will partially depend on its military strategy. As Henry Kissinger noted, the simultaneous rise of three major powers in Asia - China, Japan, and India - resembles a situation when the European balance of power was being shaped in the 19th century, with each power looking at the other with a sense of wariness and competition, but cooperate occasionally.

There is also the question of the shifting balance of power and how the US and the West in general adapts to the new phenomena, particularly as it deals with global and regional crises. This is evident in the Iran and the North Korean problems where the U.S. has not been able to act effectively. The U.S. engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq have put a lot of strain on American power projection capacities. This along with the global financial crisis has hit America's image as the unipolar power.

On the other hand, rise of China as a major military and economic power along with its global aspirations for a superpower status has remained a subject for major debates not only in the U.S. and Japan, but also in Russia and India. China has been making systematic progress in its military modernisation, evolving from concepts like "Local Wars under Modern Hightech Conditions" in 2002 to "Local Wars under Modern Informationalized Conditions" in 2004 to "Local Wars under the Conditions of Informationalization" in 2006 and fighting an informationised war today.

Meanwhile, there is also the worry that China's military modernisation is more ambitious than what is dictated by its immediate security concerns - an indication of its larger global objectives. The Chinese test of an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon in January 2007 or the recent test flight of J-20 appears to demonstrate these larger ambitions too. The capabilities have increased not only in quantity terms, which itself is significant, but there has augmentation of capabilities in terms of quality, as in precision, penetration and accuracy, which have an element of coerciveness in-built in them. The growth pattern and trends of the Chinese military are worrisome for other Asian powers, and is something on which New Delhi needs to keep a close watch.

Whether one would characterise Russia as a great power or not, it remains an important pillar in the emerging global security architecture. Russia's Science & Technology and military might along with its renewed confidence based on its energy and other natural resources call for a fresh look at what Russia is doing in the military-security sphere. Russia today is faced with a strange situation - a mix of strength and vulnerabilities - leading to both paranoia and an assertiveness bordering aggressiveness in its foreign and security policies. This was particularly evident in the 2003 Russian defence White Paper that stated that Russia may consider preventive strikes in case of dire threats to its national security. It illustrated both the weakness of its conventional military might, and (may be therefore) the continuing potency of its strategic nuclear forces.

Last of the riddles in the emerging Asian strategic framework is Japan. Japan has been an economic powerhouse but they have been unable to convert their economic might into politico-strategic might. Japan has also been characterised as the next rising power for a long time but they have never managed to evolve into significant geopolitical factor, essentially constrained by its pacifist military posturing. This is changing and Japan is beginning to take on greater security responsibilities. The rise of a more independent and assertive Japan in the backdrop of an increasingly securitised Asia is a reality. How countries such as China and Russia will look upon and respond to this new reality will be important. These are developments that will have implications not just at the regional but global levels as well and therefore policy makers in Asia need to ensure not only that the rise of China is peaceful but also that Japan's more complex geopolitical rise will contribute to stability.

According to the book, what shapes the Asian strategic framework will depend on a number of parameters, ranging from economic might, politico-strategic weight to military muscle. However, military capabilities and strategies can create suspicion and mutual distrust. Asia's history combined with unresolved border and territorial issues has added to the lack of understanding and mutual trust in the region.

Added to these vexed issues, there is the parallel rise of three major Asian powers - India, China and Japan - and how each of the power looks at the others has serious implications. The military strategy of a country is an important indicator of its intentions and objectives, which can add to or reduce the insecurities and suspicion in a particular region. Understanding Asian militaries and their strategies is not easy; there may be several parameters that one may need to look into. In this context, it is pertinent to examine a number of indicators including the defence spending, military capabilities acquired and the broad strategies adopted by each of the major Asian powers individually as also through alliances and partnerships.

Military strategies and modernisation can have implications in many different areas - determining foreign policy to energy security options and crystallising new alliances and partnerships. The security dilemma in Asia, resulting from increased securitisation of issues and heightened focus on hard power, could foment new bilateral and multilateral partnerships while also possibly strengthening old partnerships and allied relationships.

The book 'Clashing Titans' says the role of external powers could also become louder as smaller powers and less powerful countries would want to strengthen themselves by adopting a hedging strategy as a way of facing stronger powers. While these measures would provide temporary cushion in the near term, the long-term implications in terms of perpetuating the sense of rivalry and insecurity in the region are significant.

U.S. Commandos Were Too Late to Stop Libya Attack (But Might Avenge It)

November 2, 2012

A Naval explosives technician jumps out of a C-130 cargo plane above the Sigonella air base, 2009. Sigonella was a staging ground for two U.S. military units deployed to respond to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Photo: U.S. Army

A day after the CIA released a new timeline of its reaction to the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the Pentagon added some detail to its recap of events as well, confirming that it had two elite military units that mobilized just slightly too late to help repel last month’s attack. But those units also had the capability to deal with the aftermath of the attack — and the Pentagon isn’t saying what happened to them once they arrived at a Sicilian airbase a few hundred miles from Libya, leaving the possibility they might play a role in hunting the perpetrators of the attack.

Much remains unclear about the Libya assault. But now different parts of the bureaucracy have taken to explaining they were thisclose to helping stop it. State Department officials last month testified to monitoring it almost in real time, but U.S. officials have said State’s hired guard force lacked the capacity to repel the attack. (They may have a point.) The CIA portrayed itself as responding to the attack from multiple fronts as it was happening, successfully extracting U.S. personnel from the site — except for the four Americans who died. (Additionally, top intelligence officials have blamed themselves for the White House’s initial, incorrect explanation that the attack emerged from a protest over an anti-Islamic video.) On Friday, Pentagon spokesman George Little weighed in, explaining a little more than previously about how the Pentagon rushed special operations units into position near Libya, except that the assault subsided before they could reach the country.

Within “hours” of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta learning of the attack, he ordered two distinct military units to Sigonella, an airbase on the Italian island of Sicily, a few hundred miles from Benghazi. One was a “Special Operations unit in central Europe,” Little said on Friday; the other, “another contingent of U.S. troops” stationed in the United States. Both units are distinct from the Marine Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) ultimately sent to Tripoli the following day to secure the embassy there in the wake of the attack.

The units “were not in place until after the attacks were over,” Little said. But the Pentagon didn’t know how long the emergency would last, and the units it ordered to Sigonella could prepare for “a range of contingencies” in the aftermath of the assault.

“We were ready for the need to augment security measures at our facilities in Libya, if called upon. We were prepared for the possibility, for instance, of a hostage situation as well,” Little said. “These were all the things we were looking at in the midst of an event that we did not know was going to happen in Benghazi that night.” That decisiveness is different, at least in tone, from Panetta’s remarks at a press conference last week that he lacked “some real-time information about what’s taking place” that inhibited commanders from ordering troops into Benghazi.

Little wouldn’t describe the two units with any specificity. It’s already been reported that
one special operations unit was at Sigonella. The second unit is less familiar, but Little appeared to confirm an element of a Fox News report last week that mentioned a second elite special-operations unit was at the airbase, including Delta Force personnel — which would make sense, given the potential for a hostage-rescue mission, a Delta specialty.

It’s less clear what actually happened to those units after they reached Sigonella and the attack of the consulate had ended. In the days after the attack, U.S. officials spoke openly about hunting the attackers, a line reiterated by President Obama in a debate with challenger Mitt Romney. But the Pentagon has spoken less about that hunt as time has passed, and the official line has centered more on Libyan government forces leading the search for those responsible for Benghazi.

Anonymous administration officials have begun casting blame for the disaster. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly accepted responsibility last month for the lack of security at the consulate. Behind the scenes to the press, anonymous officials, seemingly sympathetic to the State Department, portrayed CIA Director David Petraeus as an impediment to securing a consulate that was apparently little more than a diplomatic fig leaf covering a CIA operation. Panetta has not faced the same level of criticism, but now that the knives are out for Petraeus, it’s an open question who will play the scapegoat next.

The Pentagon is not saying what happened to the military units it sent to Sigonella, despite repeated inquiries by Danger Room on Friday. It’s unclear, for instance, if those units ever deployed to Libya at a later date. Nor has the Pentagon’s provided a timeline of its decisionmaking on Benghazi that possesses the specificity of the one provided by the CIA on Thursday.

“They were at Sigonella many, many hours after the attacks had ended,” is all Little said. “Orders were issued within a few hours of us learned about the events in Benghazi that evening. We did not know when the attacks would end.”

Should the attackers resurface, however, it’s possible that we may hear more about the units that made it to Sigonella. At least one of them has openly mocked the U.S. hunt for the assailants while meeting with a New York Times reporter. Another suspect in the assault, Ali Ani al-Harzi, is in Tunisian custody, and two U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) announced on Friday that the Tunisians will make al-Harzi available to the FBI. Maybe those elite units sent to Sigonella will make an appearance in Libya, if they didn’t actually make it to Benghazi in September.

Odierno: ‘There’s Angst in the Army

By Sandra I. Erwin

The end of the war is in sight, but there are still 60,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. The Army announced it will downsize, but it also wants to retain its best and brightest. The U.S. military will be redeploying forces to the Asia-Pacific region, but the Army is not likely to play the leading role.

It’s enough uncertainty to make people quite anxious, acknowledged Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff.

“We have this large organization that has to go through some significant change,” Odierno said Nov. 1 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, D.C.

Odierno, a former top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, has been spending considerable time of late pondering the future, and more importantly, how to communicate a “vision of change” to a constituency of 1.1 million soldiers, 700,000 civilians and nearly a million family members. “That's a lot of people to reach out to,” he said. “How we communicate the change is critical.”

Odierno said he worries about Army leaders’ ability to articulate “where we want to go,” he said. “There's angst in the Army” because of the coming downsizing and the foggy outlook about the Army’s mission post-Afghanistan.

His plan sounds simple: Ensure the Army is ready to fight anytime, and anywhere, from low-intensity to large-scale conflicts. But Odierno recognizes that this will be a difficult transition for an Army that has spent more than a decade focused entirely on counterinsurgency warfare for Iraq and Afghanistan deployments. The goal is to dial back that training and being to rebuild a force with a “baseline of combined arms readiness,” Odierno said. “We need a building block capability to respond to a broad range of missions.”

Another goal is to educate soldiers on region-specific culture and language, so they are better prepared for conflict in any part of the world. Army leaders concede that the forces that went into Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from a complete lack of knowledge of the local government, culture and language. “We can't let that happen again,” said Odierno. “We have to be better.”

The Army’s plan, meanwhile, is made all the more complicated by the unpredictability of where the force might be asked to go months or years from now.

“There is incredible uncertainty as we look to the future,” said Odierno. During his weekly intelligence briefings on global hot spots, he is struck by the vagueness of what might constitute a threat to national security. “The potential areas of instability cover the entire map of the world,” he said.

The Army’s ambition to be a jack-of-all-trades will require it to expand its skills. The intent is to have “regionally aligned forces,” said Odierno. Instead of training for rotational deployments in Afghanistan, brigades will immerse themselves in the culture of a particular region of the world, and that unit would then be available to participate in multinational exercises or “security cooperation” programs with nations in that area.

“We’ll make forces available to combatant commanders, from platoon to brigades, or combat support,” said Odierno. A brigade based at Fort Polk, La., which is now dedicated exclusively to prepare teams to train Afghan security forces, will be assigned to “look worldwide at how we build partners’ capacity,” he said.

The Army’s 1st Corps based at Fort Lewis, Wash., will be “aligned” with U.S. Pacific Command. The 1st Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, based in South Korea, will support U.S. Africa Command.

These regional alignments, he said, are “key to our future. … We have to reinvigorate Army relationships in the Pacific. … We have to do multilateral events to build confidence.”

For this game plan to be successful, Odierno said, the Army will need to ensure that the most competent war veterans stay in the service. Senior officers worry that young commanders who have become accustomed to relative freedom from higher command during combat tours will be unhappy and unmotivated in the institutional Army.



1.  The 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is all set to meet at Beijing from November 8, 2012. Hu Jintao will be handing over as the General Secretary of the Party to Xi Jinping at the Congress and a new Standing Committee of the Politbureau, a new Politbureau and a new Central Committee will be elected at the Congress. They will be in office till the 19thCongress in 2017. Normally, a new Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Party should also be elected at the Congress.

2. Normally, the members of the new party organs are chosen through consensus by the outgoing Central Committee and formally elected by the new Congress.The outgoing party organs, which assumed office at the 17th Congress in 2007, are presently meeting in Beijing to reach a consensus on the composition of the new party organs to be formally elected next week and to approve the report on the work done by the outgoing organs for submission to the 18th Congress.

3. Hu Jintao as the outgoing General Secretary and Xi Jinping as his successor should be playing the leading role in finalising the composition of the new party organs.Speculation from Beijing indicates that Jiang Zemin, a strong personality from Shanghai, who was the predecessor of Hu as the Party Secretary and as the Chairman of the Party CMC and who still wields considerable influence in the party circles in Shanghai, has been playing an important role in the finalisation of the composition of the new party organs and that under his influence, a neo conservative political leadership, which wants to go slow on political reforms, seems to be well-poised to occupy key positions under Xi.

4. The importance of political reforms to sustain the economic reforms, which was the keynote of the policies advocated by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, has been given less importance in the deliberations preceding the new Party Congress. Improving people's livelihood, incremental political reforms and innovative democracy are the keynotes of the new policy being advocated.

5. Any idea of a multi-party democracy is firmly rejected. The firm leadership of the Communist party, the modernisation of the functioning of the party and the improvement of inner party democracy to provide for greater transparency in its functioning, better choice for the party cadres in the election of the party functionaries and greater accountability of the functionaries to the cadres and the people are now stressed as the new features of innovative democracy.
6. The new party functionaries, who are expected to take over under XI, areprojected in the speculationas advocates of a play safe policy in respect of political reforms. Economic and political stability and not political experimentation will be their objective.

7.In an article published on November 3,2012 , the "People's Daily", the party daily, said: "The social unrest caused by Russia's "shock therapy," Latin America's "radical reform," or certain African countries' copying of the U.S. political system proves that slavish imitation of Western democracy will lead to turmoil. Democracy takes various forms according to different national condition, and good democracy should first suit a country's national conditions. China has attached great importance to the people's livelihood and incremental reform, and pursued suitable democracy through gradual innovation in a pragmatic manner. Democracy is not only a system of government, but also a way of life which meets people's needs. Admittedly, as public awareness of the rights to know and participate as well as the rule of law increases, democracy in China has not reached the level many people expect. However, the country is making steady progress in improving its democracy."

8. Thus, the new party leadership, which will be taking over next week, is trying to reduce expectations of a Chinese spring or a brave new world of Chinese democracy. This is not the time for political experimentation. That is the message that has been coming out from Beijing. ( 3-11-12)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter @SORBONNE75)

This Uninformed Military Bashing must Stop

By Vice Admiral Suresh Bangara (retd)

The media has been lapping up some half truths ostensibly sourced from an audit report circulated within the defence ministry. It is a matter of concern that file notings/reports are finding their way to the media even without a RTI application.

The system of procurement by the ministry or through recently delegated powers to service headquarters has to be well understood before statements accusing generals of corruption are made.

Having reduced the office of service headquarters to attached office status (notionally designated the Integrated Headquarters), the defence ministry retained all control of financial powers. The chiefs did not enjoy delegated financial powers to even manage day-to-day revenue expenditure, leave alone capital expenditure to acquire assets.

The navy was the first to suggest, discuss and get sanctions for a New Management Strategy (NMS), commencing 1991.

The intention was to address the first concern of unacceptable level of operational availability of ships and submarines. Delegated financial powers to the chief to expedite decision-making led to achieving much higher readiness levels. Under the earlier dispensation, ships needing urgent or routine repairs and maintenance languished while the defence ministry and finance wing raised objections on modalities.

It was not without years of discussion that the delegated powers with all the checks and balances were issued as Navy Instructions, thus making the chief responsible for running the navy through revenue budget delegation. Later, these powers were grudgingly enhanced with more restrictions but were limited to the revenue expenditure.

The delegated powers for capital expenditure were progressively enhanced to Rs.50 crore from 2004. It is now proposed to go up to Rs.100 crore. Given that the annual defence budget has exceeded Rs.1 lakh crore, every committee appointed by the government has forcefully sought delegation of adequate powers to the armed forces so that they are made responsible and accountable to maintain optimum readiness levels.

Since the navy had initiated, documented and steered a successful pilot project, delegation of powers for other services progressed on this model. The ministry ensured that at no stage was it possible for the military authority, irrespective of rank, to sanction any expenditure without the concurrence of Integrated Financial Advisor (IFA), barring for petty items of limited value.

These officers were drawn from the Department of Defence Accounts. Needless to say, the necessity to place so many of them as advisors led to an avalanche of vacancies for promotion to this specific cadre.

The major weakness in the system is the mindset of the IFA. Instead of assuming the role of an advisor, the IFA acts as an auditor for pre-acquisition formalities, the post event audit notwithstanding. Moreover, there are not enough officers of the right seniority and experience to fill these increasing billets.

No operational commander would overrule the objections raised by IFA since the latter forms an integral part of every step of procurement under delegated powers. It is ironical that the auditors who carry out post-audit are from the same cadre as those fulfilling IFA functions. Hence we have not heard of a single query questioning the IFA if the procurement process was faulty.

The orders for delegation of powers do not empower the field commander to review the performance of an IFA, whose final reviewing authority is the CGDA (Controller General Defence Accounts). If there is a conflict of interest between the delegated authority and the financial advisor, the matter is referred to New Delhi. If there is a faulty acquisition in procedural terms, the IFA is a party to it. Hence, any post-audit of the process should first seek an explanation from the IFA.

There have been extraordinary delays in equipping the armed forces with platforms, equipment, ammunition and ordnance due to the convoluted procedures of defence procurement. The cumulative shortages are so severe that most commanders with limited powers of procurement opt for a small number of critical operational necessities.

Bullet-proof vests are a case in point. Should a soldier continue to sacrifice his life because there is protracted discussions on file between the attached office and the defence ministry? Most field commanders would seek to provide what they can with what they have. The IFA knows this, and hence he is required to advise and prevent procedural violations.

If violations are indeed discovered later, by an auditor who has neither the knowledge nor the responsibility to prevent loss of life, should it not be the responsibility of the IFA to explain such procurement? Lastly, most such observations by the auditor are settled after explanations are obtained as per procedures. In the meanwhile, imagine the damage done by innuendos and television debates placing the blame on field commanders.

(Vice Admiral Suresh Bangara is a former head of Southern Naval Command. He can be contacted at scsbangara@hotmail.com)

--Indo-Asian News Service

Defense in 2013

Who wins, depending on who wins.

No matter which man wins the presidency, the Pentagon is going to keep taking that proverbial hill. But there are some areas in which a Romney administration would take the U.S. military down a path much different than the Obama administration would. Here are a few of our picks for the people and programs that might find themselves sitting pretty come Wednesday morning:


Military Reformers - President Obama and the Joint Chiefs of Staff spent much of last fall crafting a $525 billion defense budget for 2013 with unprecedented buy-in from the top brass. It shrinks the size and projected growth of the U.S. military over the next five years with their blessing. Defense officials say they were forced to meet the Budget Control Act's spending restrictions -- meaning they were given an excuse to do what they wanted to do anyway. It's no secret both the White House and many four-star generals, including the top Marine, Commandant Gen. James Amos, were hoping to direct a post-war reset. Others, like Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and recently retired Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz, said for months that the military should do its part toward helping alleviate total federal spending. An Obama victory keeps their five-year budget proposal and the national security strategy it funds alive.

Drones - While both candidates support the aggressive use of drones in the war on terrorism, Obama already has a budget on the table that cuts traditional forces and weapons, like big ships and some missile defenses, in order to give more resources to smaller platforms. Specifically, Obama's interest will likely spur the replacement of today's slow, propeller-driven UAVs with stealthy, jet-powered drones that can survive against modern air defenses. This means the Navy may move ahead with its contest for a stealthy, carrier-launched attack drone under the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program. The Air Force will probably restart its currently stalled plans to develop a new fleet of stealthy, jet-powered UAVs to complement its RQ-170 Sentinel spy drones. General Atomics, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin are all ready to compete for the contracts on both of these efforts. Oh, and don't forget the new fleet of 80 to 100 long-range stealth bombers that the Air Force is developing. Versions of this aircraft are designed to be "optionally manned" -- i.e., remote-controlled.

Defense Industry Shareholders - Bear with us. Yes, Obama wants to stop the long-term yearly growth of defense spending while Romney wants to increase the Pentagon budget massively. But in the near term, the next president has to get Congress to move on sequester or the defense budget gets whacked. Obama surrogates feel that the president has leverage to break the deadlock if he wins and argue that Romney would enter with no footing on which to stand up to his own party, cementing the deadlock and making sequester that much more likely. "The fiscal cliff is much more likely to happen under Romney because he's not shown the backbone that I think we need," Rachel Kleinfeld of the left-leaning Truman National Security Project claimed. Maybe. But an Obama win does at least mean that negotiations can pick up wherever they left off. And watercooler wisdom suggests that a Romney win would force Congress to extend the sequestration deadline at the very least. So an Obama re-elect could mean a shorter glide path for a deal.

Blue Star Mothers - While the Obama campaign says the president will hew to the NATO-approved timeline to exit Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the White House gets to decide just how fast combat ends and how many U.S. troops will remain there in perpetuity. Judging by the comments of the candidates and their surrogates, a Romney presidency seems far likelier to extend a high troop-total in Afghanistan as long as possible. Romney also has repeatedly criticized Obama for not keeping U.S. troops in Iraq as a buffer for Iran. The same concern applies to post-war Afghanistan. By contrast, Obama's liberal base thinks the 2014 pullout is not fast enough, by an unbelievable margin of 98-2 percent. ISAF Commander Gen. John Allen's recommendations for the 2013-2014 troop lay-down is expected in Washington later this month, but don't expect a decision until after January. With green-on-blue attacks showing no sign of letting up, failing Afghan governance report cards pouring in, and the election behind him, the commander-in-chief could well decide to get more troops out sooner rather than later.

TriCare - The military's health program is a winner if you believe that fixing it is the only way to save it. Obama's plan to address soaring military health costs -- $19 billion in 2001; $50 billion in 2013 -- by raising premiums on some recipients for the first time since the mid-1990s is backed by two consecutive defense secretaries, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, and the Joint Chiefs. It's already before Congress. "They've got to act on it, and that's a hard political thing to act on first term," said Kleinfeld. DOD proposed to increase fees across the healthcare system, except for active duty troops, over the next four years. The Pentagon claimed it would save $1.8 billion in personnel costs. Congress has rejected the move in bills going through both houses, but Obama has fired a warning shot by including the TriCare impasse on his list of veto-bait items that must be addressed this year.

Romney winners:

Rosie Riveters and Shipyards - Romney has said he would boost shipbuilding from nine ships a year to about 15. Overall, John Lehman, a former Navy Secretary who is one of Romney's principal defense advisers, says a Romney Pentagon would emphasize littoral combat ships, replace the FFG 7 frigates, and increase the number of destroyers built each year. "We would also include getting up to the accepted requirement for Marine amphibious lift, so there'd be an increase in amphibious ships," Lehman told Defense News. Romney's ambitious plan is seen as unrealistic by some on the other side because it would increase spending $2 trillion over the next decade. But even if Congress agreed to a fraction of that, shipbuilders like General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls, and Lockheed Martin could see a lot more business.

The F-22, I mean the F-35. Romney had said he would "add F-22s to our Air Force fleet," making everyone from industry to the Hill to the Fourth Estate running to find out just what he meant by the comment on the controversial F-22 Raptor, for which Defense Secretary Robert Gates capped production. Turns out, says Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, that he meant the F-35. "F-22 is not a winner," Thompson says. "I've talked to people in the campaign and the candidate misspoke and what he really meant to say was the F-35." It's unclear if Romney means increasing the buy of 2,400 or simply protecting it from ambitious budgeteers who think the U.S. could do with fewer of them. Either way, that could mean a big win for Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-35. Lehman said in October that it's hard to say what changes Romney would make to procurement of the troubled F-35 program. "A lot of it is going to depend on whether they get the costs under control, particularly the flyaway costs," Lehman said. Another winner: Boeing, which makes the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which Lehman sees as essential.

Uniform makers, Taco Bells, and Clubs - Romney plans to dramatically increase spending on the military and increase the size of the force by some 100,000 troops. Those troops will need services to sustain them on bases around the world. There are only two things standing in Romney's way: Congress and federal revenues. Three, if you count the Pentagon, which is increasingly appalled by the fraction of its budget (60 percent) that goes to service members. If Pentagon spending goes up, there must be drastic cuts elsewhere in the budget. But if Romney gets his way, a small city's worth of troops is certainly good for all the businesses outside the main gate.

Star Wars Fans - The Romney campaign has pointedly criticized the Obama administration's missile defense policy. And while Romney got flak for his comment about Russia being America's "No. 1 geopolitical foe," it's clear he believes in good fences for Russia -- and for Iran, including the possibility of a return to the Bush-era, anti-ICBM plan that Moscow opposed and that Obama scrapped in 2009. That plan would have put 10 long-range missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic. In its stead, the Obama administration opted for a "phased approach" (also opposed by Russia) that relies heavily on Aegis ships with SM-3 interceptors, which, top Pentagon officials argue, will provide more flexibility. But in the third presidential debate, Romney said, "I think also that pulling our missile defense program out of Poland in the way we did was also unfortunate in terms of, if you will, disrupting the relationship." A greater emphasis on missile defense could be good for contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin -- but possibly less good for relations with Moscow.

The PX in Bahrain - Romney has pledged a significantly increased U.S. troop presence in Central Command to check Iran. That means an additional aircraft carrier parked offshore but also likely several thousand more support troops, especially Marines, rotating through the U.S. base in Bahrain. Since the 1940s, the Navy has used the island kingdom located just across the Gulf from Iran as a key hub for watching over the region. In 2011, Centcom's Marines stood up a forward-deployed headquarters at the base from which to conduct more counterterrorism operations. Indeed, in the past several years, the base has expanded and improved its facilities for a long-haul presence, including a lovely 30,000-foot exchange that houses a food court, gym, ice cream shop, bicycle store, movie rentals, and officers clubs. It's a serene campus safely walled off from the still-ongoing human rights protests occurring across the city. Already, Special Forces contractors and Pentagon VIPs are making Bahrain a regular stop on regional tours, leading to the rise of high-end hotels and Irish pubs near the base. Romney's plans ensure more of the same to come.