11 December 2012

Need to Expedie The Creation Of An Indian Cyber Command

Radha Krishna Rao (Research Fellow, VIF)

Along with the outer space, cyber space is rapidly emerging as a new and sophisticated theatre of warfare with serious consequences for the security of the countries that lack the expertise and infrastructure to ensure the safety of their information and communications networks and mount counter offensive. Indeed, the overall lethality and destructive potential of the cyber war, where the adversary remains invisible and difficult to detect, has been increasing at a phenomenal pace. Because stealth and anonymity are the distinct advantages of cyber war, it is possible to inflict unprecedented damages on the civilian and military assets of a targeted country at a short notice and that too without any elaborate preparations normally associated with a conventional war. 

Moreover, cyber attacks could also easily be mounted on corporate and industrial entities to cripple their operations and put them out of the business by a breed of smart cyber hackers. “In the past, we could count the number of bombers and tanks your enemy had. In cyber war, we really can’t tell whether the enemy has the weapons until he uses them,” says Richard Clarke, a former Chairman of White House Critical infrastructure Protection Board. 

Because cyber communications continues to be a dynamic and rapidly evolving area that is subject to the process of sustained innovations and refinements, there is no fool proof firewall capable of insulating the information networks and computer systems from the malicious manoeuvres of a well trained and highly motivated cyber warriors. The recent defacing of the websites of some of the key government of India organisations including the ones belonging to an advisor to the Prime Minister and DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) cannot but be a wakeup call for India. Of course, this cyber attack that reportedly took place on Oct 31 this year resulted in the temporary shutdown of a few Government of India (GOI) websites. However, GOI sources in New Delhi made it clear that these websites maintained by NIC (National Informatics Centre) did not contain any classified information. There were also intelligence reports in November, 2011 about the probable compromise of computers of the Eastern Naval Command located in Vishakhapatnam. 

Unloved aerial vehicles

Gutting its UAV plan, Air Force sets a course for irrelevance 
By Lt. Col. Lawrence Spinetta and M.L. Cummings 

In early 2011, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that the Air Force, which had bowed to pressure to fly more unmanned aircraft, might revert to its Cold War-era focus on manned fighters and bombers. “The view still lingers in some corners that, once I depart as secretary and once U.S. forces draw down from Iraq and Afghanistan ... things can get back to what some consider to be [the] real Air Force normal,” Gates said. “This must not happen.” 

The secretary left several months later, and as if on cue, the Air Force began rolling back the inroads made by unmanned aircraft. The retrenchment is as shortsighted as it is unsurprising. The Air Force’s enduring relevance depends on its ability to give up the old and embrace the new. 

UAS Flight Plan, grounded 

This year, the Air Force has announced three major decisions that eviscerate its “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan 2009-2047,” a roadmap that provided for an increasingly unmanned force. 

First, in January, the service terminated procurement of the Block 30 RQ-4 Global Hawk. It also revealed plans to ground and mothball its young Block 30 fleet, 18 aircraft with an average age of just two years. Remarkably, several birds currently in production will roll directly off the assembly line into storage. 

Yet in June 2011, a month before Gates left office, the defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics had certified the Global Hawk Block 30 as “essential to national security” per the Nunn-McCurdy Act. The certification also asserted that the plan to replace the aging manned U-2 aircraft with Global Hawks would save $220 million per year. 

To justify its abrupt reversal on the respective merits of the Block 30 and the U-2, the Air Force changed the basis of comparison. The service reduced the range of its surveillance orbit requirement from 1,200 nautical miles, which favored the Global Hawk, to 400 nautical miles, which favored the U-2. Northrop Grumman, the Global Hawk’s manufacturer, called the Air Force’s justification and analysis “flawed.” 

Should Govt intervene in GMR-type situations? - YES

G. Parthasarathy 

December 7, 2012: 

In the early years following independence in 1947, India ambassadors were judged almost entirely by the quality and style of their political reporting. But, India soon found that in the contemporary world, safeguarding economic interests is as if not more important, than political diplomacy. 

I recall in the early 1970s, when we worked tirelessly in Moscow to secure entry of India private sector companies to the Soviet market in areas ranging from tea and coffee to cosmetics and other consumer durables. 

With the advent of liberalisation, I remember lobbying at the level of Head of State in Cyprus and Malta for getting preference for power equipment offers by BHEL and for urging that contracts for supply of trucks should not be cancelled because of some sub-standard equipment supplied by manufacturers in India. 

In the contemporary world, the power and influence of nations is determined primarily by their economic growth and power. For nearly six decades, Japan stayed away from involving itself or participating in conflicts abroad. But, it based its diplomacy primarily on trade and investments abroad and developed governmental institutions, whose sole job was to secure markets and investment opportunities abroad. Its economic influence was enough to enable it to trounce India in elections to the UN Security Council in 1997. 

China is successfully outmanoeuvring the entire Western world in Asia, Africa and West Asia primarily through its aid, investments and trade efforts. Japanese and Chinese diplomatic missions abroad and the Ministries concerned in their capitals work closely together in promoting trade and investments abroad and in facilitating inward investments. 

Intrusive government involvement is today an integral part of the global economic scene. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer directly took up the Vodafone issue when he was in India and his High Commissioner was present in the Supreme Court when it delivered its verdict. 

President Obama focused his attention largely on economic gains to American industry and exports, while speaking of the success of his visit to India. Indian prime Ministers may have been more discreet about their lobbying for Indian companies. But it is no state secret that this is common practice. 

The recent controversy involving the GMR in Maldives is a murky affair, including domestic political rivalries, growing Islamist influences and efforts to marginalise Indian influence in the Indian Ocean Region. 

There have also been allegations of malpractices. It would severely undermine Indian influence and credibility in its entire neighbourhood if the Government remained an idle spectator to these developments. Indian diplomatic, political and economic influence has to be discreetly and firmly used, to ensure that the Maldivian Government and the Indian Company involved reach an amicable settlement. 

(The author is a former High Commissioner to Pakistan.)

Indian Navy needs a wider berth Ninad

D. Sheth 

The ocean confers advantages that the Army and Air Force cannot have. — PTI 

The Navy is on a long-overdue expansion drive. But the Government remains far too focused on the Army and Air Force. 

The new Chief of Naval Staff Admiral D. K. Joshi takes command at a time of extraordinary expansion for the Indian Navy. 

He has also gone on to say that the Indian Navy — the fifth largest in the world — is ready to protect the country’s economic interests in the South China Sea, particularly the oil blocks off the coast of Vietnam being explored by ONGC. 

The Indian Army and the Indian Air force are accustomed to fast growth, but the Navy, after a brief spurt in the mid-80s, suddenly came to a halt. It, however, appears to be back in full steam mode. 

However, the Navy’s place within strategic thinking in India, a country with a predominantly landlocked mindset, is uncertain. 

The Royal navy legacy 

According to the Defence Ministry, the Navy has added as many as fifteen ships over the last three years. This includes a leased nuclear submarine from Russia, the Akulla II class. 

It will soon take delivery of the much-delayed Russian aircraft carrier retrofitted for Indian use, the INS Vikramaditya. Other ships include three “stealth” frigates of the Shivalik class, resupply tankers and fast attack boats. 

Strategic Choices: Navigating Austerity

November 27, 2012
The report is based on the insights developed through a series of exercises that CSBA conducted during the summer of 2012. The exercises sought to inform the debate on the way defense resources are allocated in light of declining budgets, the evolving threat environment and the changing DoD’s priorities.

The participants of these exercises included congressional staff from both parties and chambers; DoD civilians and former military officers from all Services; defense experts from industry; and thought leaders from other think tanks. They were organized into teams and asked to adapt DoD’s strategy and mix of capabilities over a ten-year game period in light of emerging security challenges while implementing cuts of the magnitude required by sequestration.

Because a straight application of sequestration would not present the opportunity to make meaningful choices, exercise participants were given a plausible alternative to sequestration calling for roughly the same level of total cuts over ten years but with the flexibility to target the cuts in a thoughtful manner. Teams were also provided with DoD’s current strategic guidance as a starting point for their initial discussions. Teams were asked to identify ways in which they would recommend modifying the defense strategy given the new fiscal guidance and their individual team assessments of future security challenges.

To facilitate the exercise and help ensure players focused on their strategic choices rather simply meeting budget targets, CSBA developed a rebalancing tool—a database of more than 300 pre-costed budget options to cut or add in each move. The budget options in the tool included new and legacy weapon systems, major force structure elements, basing, personnel, readiness, and key capability areas, such as space and cyber.

PLA Air Force’s Message to India & Japan?

Paper No. 5322 Dated 11-Dec-2012 

By B. Raman 

1. The PLA Daily carried the following report on December 7, 2012: 

“The Air Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently conducted a comprehensive support drill for multi-types of aircraft on double-runway under information conditions at an airport in southwest China. Nearly 100 fighters of over 10 different types open the curtain of the base-oriented transformation of the combat support mode of the PLA Air Force. 

“According to Zhan Houshun, chief commanding officer of the drill and deputy commander of the air force under the Chengdu Military Area Command (MAC) of the PLA, there was only one runway for taking-off and landing at the airports of the PLA Air Force in the past, which could only support relatively a few types of aircraft to simultaneously implement the combat and training missions. But the airports with two runways for aircraft to take off and land at the same time can not only simultaneously support the flight of various types of active fighters, but also be used for the taking-off and landing of all types of domestic civil airplanes, Zhan Houshun added. 

“The reporters saw on the drill site that the aircraft took off and landed on the double-runway for 12 sorties within 10 minutes. At the same time, more than 200 support vehicles of various types and hundreds of officers and men were making preparation before aircraft’s taking-off and carrying out maintenance after aircraft’s landing for various types of aircraft on the parking aprons on the east and west sides of the airport. 

“After the drill, Zhang Jian, commanding officers of the main control tower of the east runway of the airport, said that “The aircraft throughput per hour for the first drill was one third more than that at the airport in the past, and the peak throughput was even doubled, exceeding the aircraft throughput per hour at the civil airport with the same size, which was beyond the imagination of an old pilot with more than 20 years of flying experience like me.” 

“Zhang Feiran, director of the Military Material and Fuel Supply Section of the Logistics Department of the air force under the Chengdu MAC, said the fuel consumption in the 5-odd-hour-long drill was four times the daily consumption of the airport in the past. To meet fuel demands, a fuel supply center and a set of straight-line pressure-refueling system were installed on each runway.  

US VIEW: India, China won't rule the world anytime soon

US VIEW: India, China won't rule the world anytime soon 

The United States will be the "first among equals" in a world not dominated by a hegemonic power as neither China nor India are likely to topple the American supremacy to create a new international order by 2030, the US intelligence believes. 

"The replacement of the US by another global power and the creation of a new international order seem to be the least likely outcome in this time period. 

"No other power is likely to achieve such a role in the time frame under any plausible scenario," Christopher Kojm, chairman of National Intelligence Council, told reporters at a news conference. 

Kojm was responding to questions after the release of 'Global Trend 2030' report of the National Intelligence Council. 

'New Delhi, Beijing don't have capacity to form international coalition' 

Mathew Burrows, counselor to the NIC and author of the report insisted that Asian giants like China and India are unlikely to replace the US as the world power, because like Washington, Beijing or New Delhi do not have the capacity to form an international coalition or mobilise global opinion on any particular issue. 

"Well, the economy is one important factor in a country's power. And our main point here is that, the Asian powers... talking here about China and India -- don't have the means like the US does of really pulling together coalitions -- these are coalitions not only of states but also non-state actors -- in dealing with the global challenges. 

Bested by China’s Strategy

Issue Net Edition | Date : 11 Dec , 2012 

China's National People's Congress 

China’s two-track policy towards India, that of targetting our territory as well as our market is proving effective. The Chinese calculate that they can periodically rile India politically without much cost on the economic front. They want to freeze the border issue but flood our market with their goods. 

We have not found an effective counter to this strategy because we are uncertain about where the lines of our security concerns about China and our readiness to pragmatically engage with it economically should intersect. Consequently, even as the provocations from China increase so do our trade relations, which is impolitic, more as our trade deficit with China is growing. 

Putting a map on e-passports that shows Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as well as disputed South China Sea islands as part of China well reflects China’s dual strategy. 

The Chinese leaders have clearly stated that the border issue will not be resolved for a very long time. Logically, this means that they do not see the talks between the Special Representatives producing results in the foreseeable future. Yet, the talks continue and the impression created by the Indian side primarily for its domestic opinion that progress is being made. 


The Chinese are served well by the contradiction between their position that they see no results from border talks till the next generation and yet continuing negotiations. By this they shift the onus of progress on India. The sub-text of their position is that India is not ready to settle the issue by accommodating China’s fair and reasonable demands, but that China can wait patiently till India makes up its mind on required concessions. By maintaining the facade of a dialogue, they seem open to a solution and therefore appear less unreasonable to a section of our body-politic that wants better ties with China. The talks also provide political cover to work for expanding trade ties. 

Combat Power & Confidence Within The Afghan National Army

Dec 7, 2012 - Jeffrey Dressler

This is the first paper in a series on Afghan National Army development and transition. 

The success of transitioning security responsibility to the Afghans is contingent upon their willingness and ability to receive the handoff. 

Fortunately, the Afghans and NATO began a program of accelerated growth in 2009. Even so, the fact is that the development of the Afghan National Army (ANA) into a sufficiently large, capable, and confident force is years away. Three essential tasks describe ISAF’s post-2014 security force development mission: first, to improve the ANA’s combat power and confidence; second, to provide direct combat support and combat service support in narrowly defined areas; and third, to conduct a planned withdrawal of the development forces over time. 

Combat Power 

Combat power is a relative concept, a function of a military being able to fight better and longer than its opponents. The seven main elements of combat power consist of the following capacities: to know the enemy and the situation (intelligence), to translate knowledge into timely and coordinated action (echelons of command and control), to gain positional advantage over the enemy (maneuver, air and land), to place direct and indirect fire on the enemy (fires, land and air-based), to prevent the enemy from attacking friendly forces (protection), to maintain the momentum against the enemy (size and sustainment), and to create cohesive teams that can perform these functions (leadership). The capacities and deficiencies of the ANA are measurable, and they will define the key tasks for the post-2014 development mission. 


Confidence in a fighting unit is based upon the individual soldier (airman, Marine, or sailor). The probability increases that an individual and unit will fight, and fight well, when soldiers are confident in themselves, their training and equipment, their buddies and leaders, and the systems that support them in combat. Most observers acknowledge the first five elements of confidence, but they overlook the last. Support systems—the very same systems that produce combat power—are an essential element of a soldier’s and a unit’s confidence. Soldier confidence suffers when they cannot track the enemy, lack the means to maneuver to a position of advantage against that enemy, have little indirect fire with which to engage that enemy, will not receive adequate medical attention if wounded, will not receive timely resupply of food or ammunition, receive incoherent directions from their headquarters, or lack adequate leaders. The more the ANA suffers these insecurities, the more its combat performance will diminish. Again, this is all relative to their enemy. In order to be successful, the ANA need only be more confident in itself than are its enemies. 

Jihad in Syria

Featured Report 
Sep 17, 2012 

This report examines the presence of jihadist groups in Syria, explains where Syrian rebel groups and foreign elements fall along the spectrum of religious ideology, and considers their effect on the Islamification of the Syrian opposition.


Before getting to the meat of this post I should make two statements. First, is that I neither like nor dislike General Petraeus. I do not think he was as successful and great as many say he was nor do I think he was merely a PR expert who fooled us all into thinking he did something. I think the right answer is somewhere in between. He didn't win the Iraq War, but he did some things that allowed to take advantage of the situation (principally enforcing unity of effort and command that had been sorely lacking under previous commanders). The second caveat is that I have not read Tom Ricks' new book The Generals. While I have read Tom's articles on the book, I have not and will not read the book for the simple reason that I do not think that I could give it a fair review. I did write this after all. So any comments after this that talk about Ricks are made exclusively on his blogging and articles on the topic, not on his book, which I hope contains a lot more detail than its shorter versions.

Now that that is out of the way, let us turn to Dexter Filkins' new New Yorker piece, "General Principles: How good was David Petraeus?" This is an unserious piece that plants Filkins firmly on Team Petraeus in the way that Stephen Colbert asks "Is he the best or is he the best ever?" To set up the answer to that question, Filkins spends some time on modern generals:

In wars without front lines, American generals tend to stay inside fortified bases, where they plan missions and brief political leaders via secure video teleconferences. Their credentials are measured as much by their graduate degrees as by the medals on their dress uniforms. They are, for the most part, deeply conventional men, who rose to the top of the military hierarchy by following orders and suppressing subversive thoughts. Emphasis mine. The first couple of sentences very clearly show that Filkins does not actually understand the general officer corps in any way. Have we had generals who never left their compounds? I am sure there have been a few, but they are the exception not the rule. Filkins portrays them as out of touch by misstating what most generals, and almost all general officer commanders, do: battlefield circulation. This is not the same as living in a patrol base with host nation security forces, but that is not what generals get paid to do. Similarly, general officer credentials are not measured by medals (this is, frankly, stupid - most generals have almost the exact same medals) or graduate degrees. They are measured by the commands they had (and essential staff positions) and how well they did in those commands (the bar for "how well" may be disputed), but certainly not by medals. Graduate degrees are part of the calculus, but like everything else takes a back seat to command performance.

The Israeli Periphery

December 11, 2012


By Reva Bhalla

The state of Israel has a basic, inescapable geopolitical dilemma: Its national security requirements outstrip its military capabilities, making it dependent on an outside power. Not only must that power have significant military capabilities but it also must have enough common ground with Israel to align its foreign policy toward the Arab world with that of Israel's. These are rather heavy requirements for such a small nation. 

Security, in the Israeli sense, is thus often characterized in terms of survival. And for Israel to survive, it needs just the right blend of geopolitical circumstance, complex diplomatic arrangements and military preparedness to respond to potential threats nearby. Over the past 33 years, a sense of complacency settled over Israel and gave rise to various theories that it could finally overcome its dependency on outside powers. But a familiar sense of unease crept back into the Israeli psyche before any of those arguments could take root. A survey of the Israeli periphery in Egypt, Syria and Jordan explains why. 
Maintaining the Sinai Buffer 

To Israel's southwest lies the Sinai Desert. This land is economically useless; only hardened Bedouins who sparsely populate the desert expanse consider the terrain suitable for living. This makes the Sinai an ideal buffer. Its economic lifelessness gives it extraordinary strategic importance in keeping the largest Arab army -- Egypt's -- at a safe distance from Israeli population centers. It is the maintenance of this buffer that forms the foundation of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel

Keeping the Flame Alive

This Hanukkah, Israel doesn't have to worry about running out of oil. 

Recent developments have ruined one of Golda Meir's favorite jokes. The former Israeli prime minister was known to quip: "Know why Jews don't like Moses? For 40 years he leads them through the desert, and then he brings them to the only place in the Middle East without oil!" 

It took a bit longer than 40 years, but it turns out Moses wasn't so meshugge after all: Israel now boasts Saudi-sized reserves of oil and gas less than 100 miles off its coast. Only a few days ago, Woodside Petroleum, Australia's largest oil and gas company, announced an investment of $1.3 billion in Israel's largest offshore gas field -- appropriately named Leviathan. 

And the biblical references don't stop there. The news of what may well become Israel's largest single foreign investment ever came just in time for Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that this year runs from Dec. 8 to 16 and which celebrates the miraculous longevity of a single vessel of sacred oil for the golden menorah that stood in Jerusalem's Holy Temple. 

Access Denied

The United Nations couldn't control the Internet even if it wanted to. 

The International Telecommunication Union, a special U.N. organization that is "committed to connecting all the world's people," is in the middle of 10 days of largely closed-doors meetings in Dubai, where the agenda seems more aimed at controlling global communications. In opening remarks to the 2,000 delegates from 193 countries, ITU Secretary General Hamadan Touré emphasized that cybersecurity should come first and, implicitly, that it should come under his purview. For all the commitments to openness that he and others profess, this conference is about the national security interests of states. 

For starters, Dr. Touré would like to see some form of U.N. control of Internet domain names and numbers, something currently administered by the private, nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). But this would hardly improve security by itself. There is a kind of naïve faith that if nation-states exert greater control over cyberspace-based communications, security will improve. China, Russia, and a host of other nations -- most of them authoritarian -- love the idea of more control, as this would enable greater censorship and erode individual privacy. Sadly, many liberal democratic states, out of a mix of economic and security concerns, go along with the idea of giving nations more authority to regulate cyber-communications. 

On the Spectrum of Cyberspace Operations

As cyberspace operations continue to evolve, they raise some unique questions regarding the nature of conflict and how it should be discussed and regulated. The lack of legal rules governing cyber operations, for example, is commonly lamented by authors and journalists. It makes a good story, but it isn’t necessarily true. While lawyers and policymakers wring their hands and fail to make decisions about cyber, practitioners have spent the past decade applying existing law and policy to operations and state practice. As evidenced by the actions of the U.S., Japan, Iran, China, and at least 30 other states, countries have been moving to include cyber warfare in their military planning and organization

National practice in the cyber warfare era arguably dates back to 1982 with the explosion of a Soviet pipeline said to have been caused by a CIA-planted logic bomb. Even if that spy narrative is merely fanciful musing, Moonlight Maze and Titan Rain, unauthorized penetrations of unclassified government computer networks, started the clock a few years later. Thirty years of on-going practice couldn’t have occurred in a logical vacuum; some standards of practice have emerged. While the body of law is still developing, these years of cyber activity serve to illuminate much about cyber practice. 

When evaluating potential cyber activities, US policymakers have tended to view cyber operations as strictly delineated: offense or defense; espionage or military operations. Reality defies such stark categorization; determining when one type of cyber operation ends and another begins is challenging. Rather than establishing strict categories into which cyber activities are sorted, it may be best to view cyber operations along a spectrum; a proposal for a spectrum of cyber activities is set out later in the paper. 

Before discussing the cyber spectrum, let’s determine what the term “cyber operation” means. Although there isn’t complete agreement within the U.S. government – much less internationally – on a standard meaning, cyberspace operations might be defined as “the employment of cyberspace capabilities where the primary purpose is to achieve objectives in or through cyberspace.” This broad definition, similar to one the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs proposed in 2010 that was not widely embraced, encompasses the full array of military and other national cyber operations possible within cyberspace and ranges from gaining access to a computer system through conducting espionage to executing a cyber attack (Joint Terminology for Cyberspace Operations,” Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff memo, undated.) 

Although only a discrete portion of cyber operations are equivalent to a kinetic attack, the Department of Defense includes in its current definition of “Computer Network Attack” (CNA) nearly every imaginable cyber military activity. DoD's definition of CNA is “actions taken through the use of computer networks to disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy information resident in computers and computer networks, or the computers and networks themselves.” While this definition might create the appearance that all cyberspace operations are basically the same in the level of damage and scale of effect, that is decidedly not the case. 

Murky Waters: Politics in the South China Sea

December 11, 2012 

The last two years have witnessed a heady interplay of inter-state disputes and constant strategic manoeuvring, if not intrigue, in the South China Sea (SCS). Beyond anything else, it gives the world a sure glimpse of the possibility of future energy wars over oil and gas resources in this energy-rich area, which is moreover emerging as a hotbed of global power politics. Understanding the South China Sea dispute thus involves a series of complex and interwoven technical, legal, economic and geographic claims, the most critical of which involves issues of territory and sovereignty. 

Located to the south of mainland China and Taiwan, west of Philippines and east of Vietnam, north of Indonesia, north-west of Malaysia and Brunei and north-east of Singapore and the Malay Peninsula, the South China Sea is the maritime heart of South-East Asia. Its strategic location - extending from the Strait of Malacca in the southwest to the Strait of Taiwan in the northeast - straddles the world’s second busiest international sea lane and its waters see the passage of over half the world’s oil tanker traffic the world’s merchant fleet (by tonnage).1 The region also serves as a strategic maritime link between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean and is therefore of overriding importance to major naval powers, both regional and extra-regional. The geography of the South China Sea includes about 200 small islands, rocks, and reefs, with the bulk located in the Paracel and Spratly Island chains. 

The SCS disputes originated after the end of World War II when the littoral states – China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam - scrambled to occupy the various islands. 2 Since the 1990's, the conflict has transformed from being a purely territorial one to one involving competitive claims and access to oil and gas reserves as well as fishing and ocean resources. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has put the oil reserves in the SCS to be around 28 billion barrels (based on an estimate made by the US Geological Survey in 1993/1994),3 while Chinese number-crunching places potential oil resources at between 213 billion barrels (a 2008 estimate cited by the EIA) and 105 billion barrels. However, these estimates have not yet become proven reserves due to the lack of exploratory drillings in those areas, with the region’s sensitivity impeding efforts at testing and validating whether these resources are indeed technologically and economically feasible to extract.4 The vitality of the SCS is thus richly reflected in its resources, resourcefulness and strengths and vulnerabilities.5

The U.S. Marine Corps Surges to the Asia-Pacific

PoliticsSecurityTopic December 11, 2012 
By Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe 

The Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, gives his thoughts in a wide ranging interview. 

As the process of rebalancing its forces to the Asia-Pacific begins to gain further traction, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) sees itself returning to a familiar region of the world. In this context, the Commandant of the USMC, General James F. Amos, spoke to Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe about the Corps’ transformation and modernization, the impact of successive deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the status of Marine Corps activities in Africa and South America, the strategic realignment to the Asia-Pacific, the likely future battlefield, and defense budget cuts. 

How has the USMC transformed and modernized since 9/11? 

General Amos: As America's expeditionary crisis response force, the United States Marine Corps, has always responded to our Nation's call to arms. No two fights are the same, so we've historically maintained a service culture of mental flexibility, adaptability and operational agility. For example, shortly after 9/11, the Marine Corps conducted the longest amphibious-launched raid in history by deploying Task Force 58 deep into Afghanistan to strike Al Qaeda and topple the Taliban. 

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, we assaulted from Kuwait to Baghdad as part of a coalition force and removed Saddam Hussein from power. We then transitioned to counterinsurgency operations both in Iraq and Afghanistan. While we were heavily invested in Iraq and Afghanistan, we also supported counterterrorism in the southern Philippines, provided disaster relief in the Indian Ocean basin after the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, conducted humanitarian relief operations in Pakistan and Haiti, evacuated U.S. citizens from Lebanon, assisted our Japanese allies during the 2011 earthquake and nuclear crisis, took down the pirated MV Magellan Star, and rescued a downed U.S. Air Force pilot in Libya – just to name a few. 

So we're in the process of restructuring our force with capabilities optimized for forward-presence, engagement, and rapid crisis response. We've reshaped our internal organization to increase flexibility and utility across the range of military operations, and have also enhanced our support to U.S. Special Operations and Cyber Commands. We've also increased our ability to conduct distributed operations, and operationalized our reserve component capability. 

Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds

December 10, 2012 

On Monday December 10, 2012 the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the National Intelligence Council's (NIC) latest Global Trends report, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. The Global Trends project engages expertise from outside government on factors of such as globalization, demography and the environment, producing a forward-looking document to aid policymakers in their long term planning on key issues of worldwide importance. 

The Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security will host a two-day conference launching the US National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds report and exploring its consequences for US strategy moving forward. The high-level conference will convene more than 150 participants from the policymaking, business, media, and technology communities in the United States and from around the world in an unprecedented gathering to discuss global futures, the potential for disruptive change, and a US strategy for the coming “post-Western world.” 

The Council will also launch its sister report, Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World, which provides recommendations for the United States government to navigate new realities ahead and calls upon renewed American leadership to successfully tackle new global challenges. 

Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World

December 10, 2012 

Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World is a report released today by the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative that urges the Obama Administration to seize a historic opportunity to ensure America’s global interests over the long term. It outlines a US leadership strategy for the period ahead to 2030 and offers policy approaches in key subject areas to ensure a positive outcome at this inflection point toward a “post-Western world,” given historic shifts in political and economic influence. 

Offered as a companion to the US National Intelligence Council (NIC)’s Global Trends 2030 quadrennial assessment released today, the Council’s Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World surveys the emerging economic and geopolitical landscape; it describes the unprecedented policy challenges that landscape presents; and it outlines a US strategy to avoid a zero-sum, conflictual future and move toward a more cooperative and prosperous 2030. Six elements of strategy for President Obama emerge from this report: 
  • Frame second-term policies from a more strategic and long-term perspective, recognizing the magnitude of the moment and the likelihood that the United States’ actions now will have generational consequences. 
  • Continue to emphasize “nation-building at home” as the first foreign policy priority, without neglecting its global context. 
  • Recognize that the United States must energetically act to shape dynamic, uncertain global trends, or it will be shaped unfavorably by them. 
  • Pursue more collaborative forms of leadership through deepening current alliances and interacting more effectively with a diverse set of actors. Most importantly, it must reinforce its strategic base: the transatlantic relationship. 
  • Deepen cooperation with China as the most crucial single factor that will shape the international system in 2030. 
  • Creatively address the locus of instability in the 21st century—the greater Middle East from North Africa to Pakistan—a major threat to US strategy and world order. 
“The United States has something rare among history’s great powers—a second chance at molding the international system to secure its long-term interests,” said Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe. “No other nation is likely to have as much impact in influencing the global future. Yet in a more complex and competitive world, the US margin of error is smaller.” 


An unusual paper on India and the global economic situation 
Writing on the wall - Ashok V. Desai

The budget season is here again. The finance minister is in the ministry for the third time. His earlier ventures were not covered with glory, but there is always hope that the longer he holds the post, the less error-prone he will become. The times are difficult: the growth rate is plummeting, the balance of payments is deeply in deficit, and the fiscal deficit as a proportion of GDP in April-September was the highest in at least six years. P. Chidambaram also has a new chief economic advisor, Raghuram Rajan, one of the best he could get, though the ministry website con- tinues to show Kaushik Basu in that post. The mid-term survey, which is supposed to review April-September performance, is still to come out. So we do not have the ministry’s view of how the economy is doing. But we do have an unusual paper from the ministry on the global economic situation and its implications for India. Kanika Bhatnagar is obviously a maverick, for she gives us a shock right at the outset: she begins with the following quotation from Tolstoy’s War and Peace: “At the approach of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal force in the heart of man: one very reasonably tells the man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of avoiding it; the other even more reasonably says that it is too painful and harassing to think of the danger, since it is not in a man’s power to provide for everything and escape from the general march of events; and that it is therefore better to turn aside from the painful subject till it has come, and to think of what is pleasant. In solitude a man generally yields to the first voice, in society to the second.” Quite apart from its relevance, what beautiful language! How unusual for a finance ministry paper! But then, Kanika was just a summer intern, and is probably thinking of something or someone pleasant under some tree by a university canteen. 

Kanika began by quoting José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, who reacted indignantly to a reporter’s question at the last G20 summit: “Frankly, we are not here to receive lessons in terms of democracy or in terms of how to handle the economy. This crisis was not originated in Europe… seeing as you mention North America, this crisis originated in North America and much of our financial sector was contaminated by, how can I put it, unorthodox practices, from some sectors of the financial market.” In other words, the crisis was none of Europe’s fault, but was due to infection by American toxins. Kanika proved, to my satisfaction at least, that Barroso was plain wrong. 

Sino-Indian ties border on the amicable

By Brendan O'Reilly 

New dynamics are emerging in the crucial Sino-Indian relationship. The two Asian giants are developing deeper global cooperation, while at the same time remaining stuck in a pattern of regional rivalry. Their disputed border, India's involvement in the growing confrontation in the South China Sea, and the US "pivot" towards Asia steer the Sino-Indian dynamic towards a combative condition. At the same time, profound changes in the global balance of political and economic power are opening up vital new areas for cooperation. 

Recent developments demonstrate contradictory undercurrents in the bilateral relationship. High-level talks in Beijing between the two powers concluded last week regarding their disputed border are a sign of a positive momentum. A series of negotiations have been going on since 2005. The current phase of the talks center around building a diplomatic framework in which the final border can be demarcated. 

Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon was cautiously optimistic about the negotiations: "Overall, when we looked at our relationship and when we looked at the boundary, we have actually made considerable progress and we handled the relationship well. The border is peaceful and we made progress towards settlement." [1] 

Dai Bingguo, Menon's Chinese counterpart in the talks, was considerably more enthusiastic. In an interview with Indian media, Dai said: "Nothing is impossible to a willing mind. As long as we are devoted to staying friends forever, never treat each other as enemies, pursue long-term peace and friendly co-existence and vigorously promote win-win cooperation, we will be capable of creating miracles to the benefit of our peoples and the entire mankind." [2] 

Such optimistic rhetoric demonstrates China's deep strategic interest in maintaining an amicable relationship with India. China is keen on wooing India away from the budding regional anti-Chinese alliance of the United States, Japan, and the Philippines. The Chinese government wants to improve relations with India and settle the border to the west in order to have more strategic maneuverability against Japan and the Americans in the Pacific. 

When asked about the US pursuit of India as a potential regional ally, Dai said, "In my view, India is a country of strategic independence. It will not be wooed or ordered about by anyone else. Being a forerunner of the Non-Aligned Movement and a large emerging country with growing international influence, India will stick to its traditional independent foreign policy and contribute to the peace and development of the region and beyond." 

The Male takeaway

C. Raja Mohan : Tue Dec 11 2012

Delhi’s reluctance to support Indian companies abroad will cost it 

Delhi may have good reason to downplay last week’s ouster of GMR from the Maldives. That a small neighbour has targeted a major investment by an Indian company has surely set teeth gnashing in South Block. But anger management is one of the first principles of diplomacy. 

India, which has many other interests in the Maldives besides the GMR investment in Male airport, does not want to make the situation any worse by reacting aggressively. India is acutely conscious of the geopolitical significance of the Maldives, which sits astride the Indian Ocean sea lines of communication. So are China and the United States. Pakistan is pursuing its own agenda in the tiny nation of barely 3,20,000 people. 

Delhi signed a wide-ranging partnership agreement with Male in 2011 that has defined the basis for strong Indian involvement in the development of the Maldives and a major role for the Indian navy in helping the island nation secure its vast exclusive economic zone. GMR will certainly not be the last Indian company caught in the whirlpool of the local politics of another nation. Nor is India the first country to experience this. All great powers, old and new, often find smaller countries targeting their assets, personnel and companies for a variety of political reasons. The US and other Western powers have struggled to cope with this for ages. 

As its global commercial footprint grows, China is constantly confronting the political vicissitudes of having its companies operate in foreign lands. Consider, for example, Myanmar’s decision in September 2011 to suspend the implementation of the $4 billion Chinese project to build a large dam on the Irrawaddy River at Myitsone. An angry Beijing had to hold its tongue. This happened despite China’s strong support to Myanmar during its long years of international isolation and Western sanctions. The scale and scope of China’s relationship with Myanmar is certainly much larger than that between Delhi and Male. Yet China had no option but to demonstrate patience. 

There has been some media speculation in recent days about India cutting off aid to the Maldives. Any action on those lines would have been terribly unwise. India’s current aid, running in tens of millions of dollars, is meagre in comparison with what others could offer Male. During a visit to China by President Mohamed Waheed earlier this year, Beijing has reportedly offered an aid package of $500 million to the Maldives. 

Economically meaningless

Amitendu Palit : Tue Dec 11 2012, 

A Free Trade Agreement between India and China will only be a strategic confidence building measure for now 

Should India and China sign a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA)? Since the last decade, both countries have been scouting for and connecting to new trade partners. The Asia-Pacific has been the main domain of their search. They have either concluded, or are negotiating, trade agreements with common partners including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, ASEAN, Japan and South Korea. They are also actively forging formal trade links with the Gulf and Latin America. 

While disappointment with the WTO is pushing both into FTAs and Regional Trade Agreements (RTA), the “domino effect” too cannot be overlooked. Anxieties of being deprived of trade space and markets in economically vibrant and resource-rich regions are hastening the rush. So are strategic compulsions. 

The rush for FTAs is yet to be reflected in negotiations on a bilateral deal. Both countries are part of a regional agreement — the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) — since 2002. Bangladesh, South Korea, Laos and Sri Lanka are also members of the APTA making it a cross-regional agreement between South, Southeast and Northeast Asia. The APTA, however, has remained a rather muted and inconspicuous deal in an Asia-Pacific with hundreds of FTAs and RTAs. 

A bilateral Indo-China trade deal was first discussed seriously in 2003, when a joint study group (JSG) was set up for examining its feasibility. The JSG report submitted in 2005 did recommend such a deal covering trade in goods, services, investment and trade facilitation. The joint statement issued during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in 2005 took note of the recommendations. That though was as far as matters went. There has hardly been any move on the FTA since. Subsequent joint statements issued thereafter during visits of heads of states have mentioned phased trade targets and removal of market access barriers on both sides. But they have conspicuously avoided mentioning a trade deal. 

Sino-Indian ties border on the amicable

By Brendan O'Reilly 

New dynamics are emerging in the crucial Sino-Indian relationship. The two Asian giants are developing deeper global cooperation, while at the same time remaining stuck in a pattern of regional rivalry. Their disputed border, India's involvement in the growing confrontation in the South China Sea, and the US "pivot" towards Asia steer the Sino-Indian dynamic towards a combative condition. At the same time, profound changes in the global balance of political and economic power are opening up vital new areas for cooperation. 

Recent developments demonstrate contradictory undercurrents in the bilateral relationship. High-level talks in Beijing between the

two powers concluded last week regarding their disputed border are a sign of a positive momentum. A series of negotiations have been going on since 2005. The current phase of the talks center around building a diplomatic framework in which the final border can be demarcated. 

Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon was cautiously optimistic about the negotiations: "Overall, when we looked at our relationship and when we looked at the boundary, we have actually made considerable progress and we handled the relationship well. The border is peaceful and we made progress towards settlement." [1] 

Dai Bingguo, Menon's Chinese counterpart in the talks, was considerably more enthusiastic. In an interview with Indian media, Dai said: "Nothing is impossible to a willing mind. As long as we are devoted to staying friends forever, never treat each other as enemies, pursue long-term peace and friendly co-existence and vigorously promote win-win cooperation, we will be capable of creating miracles to the benefit of our peoples and the entire mankind." [2] 

Such optimistic rhetoric demonstrates China's deep strategic interest in maintaining an amicable relationship with India. China is keen on wooing India away from the budding regional anti-Chinese alliance of the United States, Japan, and the Philippines. The Chinese government wants to improve relations with India and settle the border to the west in order to have more strategic maneuverability against Japan and the Americans in the Pacific. 

When asked about the US pursuit of India as a potential regional ally, Dai said, "In my view, India is a country of strategic independence. It will not be wooed or ordered about by anyone else. Being a forerunner of the Non-Aligned Movement and a large emerging country with growing international influence, India will stick to its traditional independent foreign policy and contribute to the peace and development of the region and beyond." 

Taking on China

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Harsh V Pant 

Exploring in South China Sea: India’s moves unsettled China, which views India’s growing engagement in east and south-east Asia with suspicion. 

The Indian Naval chief, Admiral D K Joshi, has staked India’s claims in the waters of South China Sea much more powerfully than the government by suggesting that with the security of nation’s economic assets at stake in South China Sea, “we (the Indian Navy) will be required to be there and we are prepared for that.” 

He made it clear that the Indian Navy had been exercising for such an eventuality even though governmental approval would be needed if the Navy is to provide protection to India’s economic assets in the South China Sea. 

His remarks come at a time when China is escalating tensions in the region with its decision to empower the police in the Hainan province to mount foreign ships and seize vessels in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. The rules will come into effect from January 1 and the police can take necessary measures to stop ships or “to force them into changing or reversing course.” It is in Hainan province that India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd has been given the oil block number 128 by Vietnam for joint exploration.

The conflict between India and China over the South China Sea has been building for more than a year. India signed an agreement with Vietnam in October 2011 to expand and promote oil exploration in South China Sea and then reconfirmed its decision to carry on despite the Chinese challenge to the legality of Indian presence.

By accepting the Vietnamese invitation to explore oil and gas in Blocks 127 and 128, India’s state-owned oil company ONGC Videsh Ltd, or OVL, not only expressed New Delhi’s desire to deepen its friendship with Vietnam, but ignore China’s warning to stay away. 

After asking countries ‘outside the region’ to stay away from the South China Sea, China issued a demarche to India in November 2011, underlining that Beijing’s permission should be sought for exploration in Blocks 127 and 128 and, without it, OVL’s activities would be considered illegal. Vietnam, meanwhile had underlined the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to claim its sovereign rights over the two blocks being explored.