10 March 2013

Farewell to foreign arms?

By Josy Joseph
Mar 10, 2013

When the clouds of corruption hovering over the Agusta-Westland helicopter deal (worth over Rs 3,500 crore for 12 helicopters) burst in February with the arrest of former Finmeccanica chief executive and chairman Giuseppe Orsi, all defence minister AK Antony could do was express helplessness in fighting corruption in defence deals. 

Recovering from the initial embarrassment of the revelations, the government seems to have finally accepted that the long-term solution to rampant corruption is an urgent and immediate turn towards aggressive indigenisation in military manufacturing. And indications emerging from the Ministry of Defence are that such a new course of action is under preparation, and could soon be unveiled. However, the transition from being a heavy importer of military wares to creating a robust military-industrial complex within is a stroll in an unmapped minefield. 

Take a cue from China 

A recent study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) pointed out that India has in recent years become the world's largest recipient of arms, accounting for 10 per cent of global arms imports in the period 2007-11. In contrast, China, which was the largest recipient of arms between 2002 and 2006, fell to fourth place in 2007-11. 

This is mainly because China has aggressively pursued indigenisation over the past couple of decades . As a result most of its current defence budget — officially estimated at $119 billion for this year — will be spent on purchases from within the country. As such, a massive amount of money flows into its domestic military-industrial complex which has a multiplier effect — on R&D, employment generation, and battlefield surprises for adversaries. 

The fact is that India's present efforts, and systems , are not up to the task of creating a robust military-industrial complex. The vested interests of the defence public sector units (DPSUs), ordnance factory board (OFB) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) actually symbolise what is stopping India from creating such a thriving complex, even though the country has one of the world's most dynamic manufacturing sectors. By keeping private sector on the margins of defence procurement, India has allowed itself to be caught in a vortex of imports and public sector inefficiencies. 

Yet many Indian private sector players have exhibited their manufacturing capabilities, innovative leadership and growth ambitions across various segments. Several Tata group companies, L&T, the Mahindra group, Reliance and others continue to remain optimistic of a breakthrough. Whenever called in to meet a challenge these companies have shown they are capable of it. Larsen & Toubro built the hull for India's indigenous nuclear submarine and is now ready to build conventional submarines. However, the navy and the MoD do not seem to be very enthusiastic. Tata Power SED (Strategic Electronics Division) recently exhibited a 155mm/52 calibre truck mounted howitzer, developed in partnership with Denel of South Africa. The company says it is presently 50 per cent indigenous. However, the Army doesn't seem to be very excited, arguing that Denel is blacklisted in India. 

Colour of the Cash

What matters is the quality of work, not the source of NGO funds 

What India needs is larger domestic funds for thinktanks and movements. 

The piece in Open on ‘Foreign Funding of NGOs’ with the subtitle ‘Should FDI in India’s thinktank sector worry us?’, has served its purpose by triggering a long-overdue reasoned debate. The author lays out various questions that might warrant their own conference or white paper. Yet, I feel the questions should not stop at the sources or levels of foreign support to thinktanks. The more critical issues are those around the status of policy formulation in India and what goes into it—the rigour of intellectual debate, the quality of evidence, the voice of experts and practitioners, the focus on beneficial outcomes for current and future generations, the accountability of decision-makers and implementers, etcetera. Put simply, how is policy in India made, and to what practice does it lead? 



By Gopalkrishna Gandhi 
10 Mar 2013

When Hugo Chavez visited Calcutta 

Samuel Moore’s translation of The Communist Manifesto is the most widely known of its English versions. Friedrich Engels helped Moore with the exercise and oversaw its publication in 1888, 40 years after the original, jointly authored by Karl Marx and Engels, had appeared in German. Scholars must know, but I do not, whether the Manifesto’s opening head-quote, now a slogan of slogans, appearing just beneath the title, was written by Marx or by Engels. Perhaps it was written by neither, but retrieved from an earlier work. But Engels must have most certainly approved Moore’s powerful rendering of it in the language of Shakespeare : 

Workingmen of all countries, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains. You have a world to win. 

I was reminded of the three-line preamble to that work of almost Biblical status when news came of the death of Hugo Chavez Frias. 

If there is anyone outside of processions, michhils and bandhs who could have been energized by a slogan of the Left, it was the late president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. I have seen the clenched fist raised by members of the ‘Party’ self-consciously and even apologetically, except at mass rallies or at the funerals of comrades where solidarity is natural and sloganeering and gestures of camaraderie, at home. But, irrespective of where he was, and what was happening around him, Chavez would have raised his right fist first, and then waved both his hands in a trance of exhilaration on hearing even the first syllables of that piece of revolutionary literature. 

His one and only visit to Calcutta — a 24-hours affair — took place on March 5 and 6, 2005, within three months of my having joined duty in that city. State visits are not frequent in Calcutta and a certain uneasiness over how it was to be handled was apparent at the Writers’ Buildings and at Raj Bhavan. But Chavez was not the kind of State guest we need have really worried about in terms of protocol-compliance or formalities. He was the very embodiment of ‘workingmen’, their broken chains, their unity and self-assertion. Chavez wanted to see Calcutta’s socialist exuberance. Calcutta wanted to see a leftist star. Neither was disappointed. 

That very morning, at an event where prizes were being given to police personnel, the then chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, made a speech — the first I was hearing him at — in which he asked the police to be friends of the people and a foe to criminals irrespective of ‘who they are’. To me, this meant that he wanted the police to be totally impartial and be un-swayed by the political affiliations of the accused, an admirable doctrine. It was with this glad thought in my mind that, a few hours later, I went to the airport to receive the visiting dignitary. I had seen pictures of the Bolivarian leader but I was surprised by the way health and vigour seemed to be bursting from the man’s enormous hulk. The ceremonies were quickly over, with Chavez on a clear ‘high’ and the chief minister not quite able to keep pace. But the mismatch was soon rectified. 

'An India-Pakistan war in future would be Armageddon'

 March 6, 2013 

'Indians need to think clearly about what kind of future they are going to have with a Pakistan that has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, and more terrorists per square mile than any other place in the world.' 

Erstwhile Central Intelligence Agency veteran Bruce Riedel speaks to Rediff.com's Aziz Haniffa in an exclusive interview. 

Two years after the publication of his acclaimed Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad, Bruce Riedel -- the erstwhile Central Intelligence Agency veteran who spearheaded US President Barack Obama's strategic review on Afghanistan and Pakistan -- has published a new book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India, and Pakistan to the Brink and Back. 

Riedel, a Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution, a leading Washington, DC think-tank, in Avoiding Armageddon -- which was released February 26 -- holds nothing back in explaining the challenge and importance of managing America's affairs with these two emerging powers and their toxic relationship. 

He argues that South Asia is critical to American national security and that the volatile relationship between India and Pakistan -- two nuclear weapons-armed States that have fought four wars with each other and gone to the brink several other times -- is the crucial factor determining whether the region can ever be safe and stable. 

Riedel, who has advised four American Presidents on the region, acknowledges that the horrific terrorist attacks in Mumbai on 26/11 -- to which he devotes the first chapter of his book -- is the heart of his argument. 

Reidel spoke to Rediff.com's Aziz Haniffa in an eloquent and exclusive interview in Washington, DC.

>What prompted you to write this book? What would you say to critics who could ask what's new here since Deadly Embrace?

This book tries to study the American relationship with all of South Asia. Deadly Embrace focused on the US-Pakistan relation. This tries to take us a step further to the broader American relationship with both India and Pakistan and to a certain degree also with Afghanistan. 

The subject of American interaction -- American engagement -- with South Asia has elicited surprisingly few in-depth studies. 

The Indo-US diplomatic relationship for example, has not really been studied aside from Dennis Kux's very good book (Estranged Democracies), but that's dated now. In trying to put the two together, no one has really done an in-depth study. 

Secondly, every President in the United States now, since John F Kennedy, has been confronted with an India-Pakistan crisis of one sort or another and the last four US Presidents have been confronted with an India-Pakistan crisis with a nuclear dimension. 

Nowhere else in the world do you have that kind of problem and this book tries to look in-depth at each one of these crises and looks ahead to how we can avoid having another one in the future. 

'The reason we have not gone over the cliff is the self-restraint of Indian PMs'

Was the title yours? I remember when we spoke two years ago, just after Deadly Embrace came out, you told me that it was Brooking Institution President Strobe Talbott who had suggested it and you thought it was really apt? 

This was my title, but we spent a good deal of time fine tuning it. I believe to the Brink and Back is very important. It is not just how did we get to the brink, but how did we get back from the brink in each of these cases. 

I presume you are making the case that this brink and the brinkmanship seems to be too often in recent years?

Absolutely. Since the early 1990s, we have been going to the brink of military conflict between India and Pakistan all too often.

We went over the edge in 1999 in Kargil. Fortunately, not too far over the edge that we could not pull back.

The reason we have not gone over the cliff is the self-restraint of Indian prime ministers (then Atal Bihari) Vajpayee and (now Manmohan) Singh. 

It's remarkable, laudatory, the self-restraint that they have demonstrated.

(But) It can't go on forever.

'Dark forces in Pakistan will do anything to sabotage rapprochement with India'

Critics could argue that titles with words like Armageddon is fear-mongering...

You can be optimistic and make the case that India and Pakistan, with American help, have decoded a formula to manage conflict. I hope that's true. 

The odds are against that. The odds are more likely that we will face more crises as we have in the past and that sooner or later one of those crises is going to go over the edge if we do nothing. 

What do I mean by that? If South Asians, Indians and Pakistanis, do nothing, the course they are on is sooner or later going to lead to war between India and Pakistan again. 

They've fought four wars, and there's no reason to believe they are finished. If one thinks of what a future war between India and Pakistan would look like, it is Armageddon. 

Before the most recent flare-up at the Line of Control with the killing of soldiers, both countries were moving somewhat toward a rapprochement. 

You had even US lawmakers quipping that the US should ask India to help mend its ties with Pakistan that had taken such a dive. 

Certainly the steps that we saw in the last year towards increased trade and contact between India and Pakistan were good things. The rupture in the last month illustrates again that just trade and goodwill is not enough -- you also have to address underlying problems between the two. 

Now, we also have to recognise the fact that there are dark forces in Pakistan who will do anything, just anything, to sabotage this. 

You mean the dark forces you wrote about extensively in Deadly Embrace?

Absolutely, and in which we saw vividly on display in Mumbai just a little over four years ago. Those forces haven't gone away.

If anything, I would argue, they are stronger today than they have ever been before.

So, rapprochement, trade, people-to-people contact, those are the right things to do. 

It's not going to be easy, and we should expect the fact that as we move forward on those things that the dark forces are going to try to sabotage the whole thing and they know how to do it. 

'India can't wish Pakistan away'

Do you feel the Kashmir problem should be on the agenda?

All the issues have to be on the agenda, including Kashmir. 

The good news on the Kashmir front is that surprisingly (then Pakistan president, Pervez) Musharraf and Dr Singh found a formula. 

Musharraf, after he first tried small war, nuclear blackmail, terrorism, finally came around to diplomacy.

But unfortunately, his domestic constituency fell apart and I would say his sell by date, like a carton of milk, expired, just when we most needed him to sell the good deal at home.

We need to revive that formula. We need formulae that deal with Kashmir; you need people-to-people contact; we need transportation links; we also need a serious regional organisation for South Asia that can build a South Asia union akin to the European Union. 

Has it gone back to square one -- that whenever you try to say that Kashmir has to be addressed too, India says no way? 

How do you get over that hump and alleviate India's mistrust and suspicion of Pakistan's intentions, many of which are justified considering the terrorism fomented from Pakistan? 

One of my main arguments in the book is that there is no American formula -- there is no made-in-America solution.

The last 70 years of American diplomacy illustrates that we can't resolve the problems between India and Pakistan for them.

Indians have to do that. Indians need to think clearly about what kind of future they are going to have with a Pakistan that has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, and more terrorists per square mile than any other place in the world. 

You can't wish Pakistan away. We can. We are on the opposite side of the universe. Indians don't have that luxury. You need a State in Pakistan that works and that doesn't send terrorists across the border to blow up your parliament, your financial capital, every couple of years. 

Indians are going to have to figure out how they address this question of Kashmir. Americans can't do it for them.

We can help, but we can't do it.

So, the prescriptions at the end of my book are more for Indians and Pakistanis to think about in many ways than they are for Americans. 

'The Pakistani army leadership's focus remains India'

Coming back to the recent LoC incident, some commentators have said it is deja vu.

It seems to be the beginning of what seems to be the modus operandi of the Pakistani ISI you spoke about in Deadly Embrace -- to hark back to this kind of strategy that was used even the last time the US withdrew its forces from Afghanistan, the introduction of jihadis into India, etc. 

Do you subscribe to that contention?

One can make the argument that a lot of the attention of the ISI and its partners like the Laskhar-e-Tayiba has been focused for the last four years on Afghanistan since President Obama increased the American presence. 

But now since that presence is drawing down, are they going to start focusing elsewhere and back to the traditional enemy -- India? 

We'll see. I believe there is reason to be worried that that will in fact be the case.

So, you believe that the Pakistani military's strategic depth modus operandi never disappeared; it was simply put on the back-burner?

I don't see any serious sign of a change in the strategic thinking of the Pakistani army leadership. Their focus remains India.

They have been distracted by the problems with America for the last couple of years, but the fundamentals of their strategic thinking have not changed.

'A battle for the soul of Pakistan is under way'

Are you convinced that the army and the ISI still call the shots in Pakistan, although it can be argued that for all of the problems of the civilian government -- corruption, intrigue and low effectiveness and control -- they still seem to be hanging in? 

I believe there is a battle under way in Pakistan. I call it a battle for the soul of Pakistan.

On the one hand are the military and its supporters. We should be careful because the military is not a monolith.

But the dominant voice in the military continues to be India obsessed, continues to believe that a bigger nuclear arsenal and more support for jihadist groups is in the Pakistani national security interest, and they call the shots on national security issues. 

But there are alternative voices in Pakistan, and they are louder today than they have been in a long time.

They think the course the country is on is leading to disaster -- a country that is being consumed by the terrorism that it helped to create.

One manifestation of this is that the (President Asif Ali) Zardari government is close to being the first elected Pakistani government, which will fill out a full term in office and turn over power to an election. 

That's a big deal in Pakistan. That is a substantial accomplishment.

We, Americans, have a huge stake in the outcome of this fight. We want to see progressive forces prevail.

There is very little we can do to help them, but we definitely have an interest in seeing that they come out and change the nature of Pakistan from being a State dominated by the military to one with normal civil-military relations. 

India has an even bigger stake in this outcome. Indian strategic thinkers need to figure out how India can help that happen. 

Where are the AfPak industry's Afghans?

By Dr. Saeed Parto and Matthew Trevithick 
March 5, 2013 

As the United States and other NATO member countries gradually withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, a discussion is taking place on how to support the country after 2014. But the most important voice is missing: that of the Afghan people. 

More than a decade of Western involvement has created an enormous industry of alleged experts who claim to have studied Afghanistan from top to bottom. But their authority belies a simple truth: these experts often have a surprisingly limited understanding of this complicated country. This is because even when these experts make it to the country they are writing about, they are sequestered to secure areas with limited access to ordinary Afghans, have little opportunity to travel outside Kabul, and are rarely given the time or resources to study the local languages beyond a few words. Put another way, the majority of the experts we rely on for advice in crafting policy and spending hundreds of millions of dollars have rarely had the experience of simply walking down the street and buying a piece of bread at a local bakery. 

This has created a closed conversation loop, which has driven countless millions of dollars into research and initiatives designed to help Afghanistan, but is far removed from the realities of Afghan life and the needs of the country. 

This may appear counterintuitive given the reams of literature prompted by this war. Since 2001, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, economists, historians, and even retired civil servants have made the trek to Afghanistan in large numbers to work and write. Hundreds of books and countless reports have emerged on a myriad of topics intended to benefit reconstruction, along with reprints of every text ever written by any military that has engaged Afghanistan, going all the way back to Alexander the Great. 

This research has been aided by an unlikely partner: the military. Academia and the application of violence have rarely mixed well, but in the name of applied research to support reconstruction efforts, they joined forces in Afghanistan. In striking contrast to the Iraq War, academics were flown in to inform the decisions and actions of operations personnel. Suddenly anthropologists and sociologists were thrust to the forefront of a gargantuan military effort, led for a time by an Ivy League, PhD-wielding general who encouraged them at every turn. On the civilian side, funding by USAID alone for initiatives and research related to democracy, governance and elections skyrocketed, with spending reaching more than one billion dollars between 2007 and 2011. 

Yet this cadre of experts was increasingly called upon to explain a country they were rarely able to see and experience, and therefore understand. The literature that followed, published overwhelmingly only in English and consumed and discussed by peers in similarly restrictive environments or overseas, slowly began to pull away from reality. Afghans watched as unfathomable amounts of money were spent on projects intended for their benefit, but about which they had rarely been consulted. 

Kulturkampf in Pakistan

By Sunil S
March 8, 2013

Pakistan army is engaged in a battle with the jehadis to control the cultural mindspace. 

The Pakistan Army is in trouble and it is under simultaneous attack on several fronts. The blistering pace of India’s military modernisation is leaving it in the dust. The feudal Pakistani politicians want to cut it down to size. The people of Pakistan are upset over its lack of accountability. And the Pakistani jihadi community wants righteous vengeance. 

In order to retain the ability to confront India and America, the Pakistan Army must engage jihadi groups. However every handshake with the jihadis betrays Pakistan Army’s incompetence. The jihadis appear heroes who can do what the Pakistan Army cannot. 

After being betrayed by the Pakistan army during the Lal Masjid siege, the jihadis went to war with them. Eventually they declared the Pakistani Army soldiers (who participated in anti-jihadi operations) as kafirs. The Army in turn, declared the jihadis to be anti-Pakistan forces in league with the unholy trinity of the Indian R&AW, American CIA and Israeli Mossad. 

The jihadis already had a media campaign. The internet was already filled with speeches by pro-jihad preachers, martyrdom videos and shots of kaffirs being beheaded. This was part of an older fundraising infrastructure set up for the Afghan and Kashmir jihads. Maulana Rafiuddin Usmani, the Mufti-e-Azam Pakistan struck the first blow in a speech in the aftermath of the Lal Masjid siege. In his speech he refused to unequivocally (delete) condemn the Ghazi brothers and their actions. This was quickly followed by a verbal assault on Gen. Musharraf by Syed Adnan Kakakhel, a mureed at Jamia Binoria. These pieces alone put the jihadis ahead of the Pakistan Army in the public debate. 

The Army had its fan club, but now it needed to reach a broader audience. It launched a number of TV serials that provided a glimpse into the personal lives of the soldiers who participated in the war against the Jihadis. The Army produced its own martyrdom videos, eulogies of dead soldiers, and interviews with their parents. Central to the Pakistani Army effort on the internet was a group of people led by Syed Zaiduzzaman Hamid that organised itself into an entity known as Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz and began to post flattering portraits of the army’s efforts against the jihadis. In the face of the jihadi visions of Islamic nationalism, the Zaid Hamid crowd flashed an equally virulent brand of Pakistani hyper-nationalism that backed the Army. If the jihadis demonised India, America and Israel – Zaid Hamid went two steps further and demonised the entire world. His efforts symbolised the desperation of the Army. 

When India drew Top Secret ‘red line’ in Mauritius

By Sandeep Dikshit 

In this February 8, 1983 photo, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi meets her Mauritius counterpart Anerood Jugnauth in New Delhi. Photo: The Hindu Archives 

Indira Gandhi planned military intervention in 1983 to save Indian-origin leader 

When President Pranab Mukherjee lands in Mauritius on Monday, he will be buttressing a relationship with an Indian Ocean nation that is so central to India’s security interests that it went to the extent of planning military intervention to ensure an Indian-origin Prime Minister remained in power there. 

The Top Secret ‘Operation Lal Dora’ — which remains highly classified to this day — was conceived in 1983 with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s approval and called for the amphibious landing of troops from the 54th Division to help the Mauritian Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth fight off a challenge from his radical rival Paul Berenger which New Delhi feared might take the form of an attempted coup. 

India’s military plans also included the deployment of major naval assets including as many as six destroyers with Alouette helicopters and MK 42C Sea Kings for slithering operations, according to the first detailed account of the events by Australian academic David Brewster and the former Director, Naval Intelligence, Ranjit Rai, in the latest issue of the scholarly journal Asian Security (‘Operation Lal Dora: India’s aborted military intervention in Mauritius’). 

Mrs. Gandhi put the military part of the operation on hold after a squabble between the Navy and the Army over who would lead the intervention. Instead, she chose to task the Research and Intelligence Wing’s then chief, Nowsher F. Suntook, with supervising a largely intelligence-led operation to reunite the Indian community whose fracturing along ideological and communal lines had allowed Mr. Berenger to mount a political challenge. 

“The matter remains highly classified to this day,” a retired intelligence official familiar with the operation told The Hindu on condition of anonymity. “But it was a huge success. As a result, Jugnauth stayed on as PM for more than ten years. We produced this outcome by political means.” 

Is Pakistan's military out of politics for good?

By Shamila N. Chaudhary 
March 7, 2013

Last week, three senior members of the Pakistani security establishment - including Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani, the country's most powerful military official - stated that the military will not interfere in the country's upcoming national elections. (Observers take note - when the Pakistani military plans to take over, it will let you know.) 

Indeed, of the numerous challenges over the last five years to the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government's authority, the more overt ones came from Supreme Court efforts to remove President Asif Ali Zardari on corruption charges; flaky coalition partners like the Muttahida Quami Movement, whose frequent departures from the government threatened the coalition's viability; and the pro-regime change march led by Canada-based preacher Tahir ul-Qadri in January. 

Still, observers could not help but ponder the possible military connections to each challenge - a state of mind that is second nature in a place like Pakistan, which has spent nearly three decades under military rule since its independence in 1947. The obsessive speculation also suggests a deep-seated expectation in Pakistani culture for the military to come to the country's rescue from a corrupt, inefficient government, even at the expense of democracy. 

Those days seem to be over for now. With less than two weeks before its term expires, the PPP is still in charge, with no signs of an imminent hard or soft coup. Nor is there a clear path for significant military poll rigging, especially with a newly independent and neutral Election Commission, thanks to the 20th amendment passed in 2012. We can be sure, however, that the military, like other stakeholders and constituents, is watching the elections process closely, assessing ways it can exert its influence and preserve its interests in the next government. Keeping civilian involvement limited in key national security issues, such as India, Afghanistan, nuclear weapons development, and even relations with the United States will be a priority for the military. 

The world, too, will be watching Pakistan with interest on March 16, when the PPP-led government's term expires. It will have been the first civilian government to complete a full term in the country's history. Any challenge to this history in the making will see diminishing returns. Even though the military remains the most popular institution in Pakistan, there is zero public support for overthrowing the civilian government or intervention in elections. No doubt the generals in Rawalpindi understand all of this. 

Who's paying Pakistan's electricity bill?

By Huma Imtiaz 
March 8, 2013 

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik always seems to be in the news for his outrageous statements, ranging from terrorists dressed like Star Wars' characters to attributing sectarian violence to men trying to get rid of wives and girlfriends. Another headline was added to the mix on Monday - Pakistan daily Dawn reported that Malik had not paid his electricity bills for more than 56 months, or a little less than five years. 

In a country where parliamentarians are notorious for not paying taxes and Rehman Malik's popularity is almost non-existent, this news will hardly raise any eyebrows. 

Except for the harsh reality: Pakistan is facing a crippling energy crisis that will not be resolved overnight and is hardly helped by news of Malik's non-payments. 

As summer approaches and the mercury creeps up, demand for electricity will skyrocket. Consumers will run fans and air-conditioners (provided they have electricity) for longer durations in the summer, and Pakistan's electricity output is nowhere close to meeting these needs. There appears to be no imminent solution to the nightmare that is Pakistan's energy sector. 

Pakistan's energy crisis has caused it to lose up to two percent of its GDP since at least 2010. While organizations such as the Asian Development Bank and USAID have helped (USAID says it has spent $156.5 million since 2009 on assistance projects in the energy sector), funding projects aimed at adding megawatts to the grid, improving line losses, and initiating small-scale dam projects, assistance alone is not a long-term solution. 

And then there is the circular debt issue. Essentially, the Pakistani government provides electricity subsidies to users, but is unable to pay off the subsidies' cost difference to electricity providers, who, in turn, are running low on the cash reserves necessary to pay Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and fuel suppliers. The government pays a certain portion of this debt owed by state-owned power companies to private power producers and Pakistan State Oil, but it is still not enough to cover the losses. The debt has now crossed the Rs.800 billion mark. Gas and power shutoffs, from both scheduled and unscheduled loadshedding, continue on a daily basis, and the government's failure to implement financial reforms has the IMF issuing tense reports on the country's economic situation. A recent audit report of a USAID project for the Jamshoro Thermal Power Plant's repair states that the project will be unsustainable if the Government of Pakistan does not implement reforms. 

Rigorous Training Schedule Highlights PLA’s Focus on People

March 4, 2013

Live Fire Exercise 

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) plans to conduct 40 military exercises this year in order to improve its readiness as well as its ability to fight and win wars, according to the Training Department of the PLA’s General Staff Department (PLA Daily, February 28; Xinhua, February 27). Continuing with the PLA’s improving training regimen, the exercises will include a variety of combined arms—what the PLA calls “joint”—and live fire exercises. This announcement adds concreteness to the almost-continuous rhetorical emphasis on the need to improve the PLA’s readiness for combat operations. Despite China’s progress in modernizing its military with the milestone of major progress in 2020, the international environment is still not favorable for the PLA. As summed up by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) spokesman Geng Yansheng, the PLA “is shouldering the dual responsibilities of mechanizing and informationizing the armed forces...Compared with military capabilities around the world, however, there is still a gap” (Xinhua, March 1). 

The injunctions for the PLA to continue the practical work of modernization and implementing the lessons of increasingly realistic exercises comes from the highest levels. During an inspection tour early last month, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) General Fan Changlong reiterated the call on the PLA to adopt “real combat criteria” in military training so as to meet future wartime needs in the information age (Xinhua, February 7). Later that month, CMC Chairman Xi Jinping “stressed that it is imperative to bear in mind that being able to fight and win battles is essential to building a powerful military...The important instruction has pointed the way for accelerating the modernization construction of the national defense and the military” (PLA Daily, February 22). Published excerpts from a PLA forum on implementing the spirit of the 18th Party Congress displayed a similar emphasis on practical learning from exercises. The essays also reflected the order of precedence given to the PLA’s various services, beginning with the PLA Navy and Air Force and followed by the Second Artillery (PLA Daily, February 5). This suggests no major changes to the PLA modernization program at least until the widely-anticipated defense white paper, China’s National Defense in 2012, is released—presumably sometime this spring after being delayed like the previous iteration. 

In the absence of substantive changes, the focus of any new military modernization measures probably will focus on the PLA’s human side as the training emphasis suggests. Additional details may become available at the National People’s Congress (NPC) this month as some proposals are reportedly are being tabled. A Shenyang Military Region group army commander and one of the PLA’s delegates for the NPC, Gao Guanghui, has several proposals ready for the upcoming session for “combat power improvement.” The thrust of these proposals focuses on “improving the quality of conscripts as well as perfecting the methods on military officer selection from college-graduates.” Evidently, the PLA’s new equipment and technological innovations have posed “a series of challenges in several aspects including the organization and training mode, support mechanism, and talents cultivation” (PLA Daily, March 3). In order to realize the dream of “building a strong military,” according to Second Artillery brigade commander Tan Weihong, “we have to depend on military talents who are capable of fighting and winning battles.” A PLA Navy expert at the submarine academy and another NPC delegate, Li Danni, also said “to win a battle, the key lies in talents.” Professor Li added “not only the soldiers skilled in the operation of weaponry and equipment are needed, but also the military strategists possessing a deep understanding of modern warfare and the talents in commanding joint operation to win the information-based war in the future are indispensable” (People’s Net, March 3). 

‘China’s WMD assistance to Pak is enabling terror in South Asia’

Mar 10, 2013 
Commodore C. Uday Bhaskar (Retd)—G.N. JHA 

China has hiked its annual defence budget to over $115 billion, fuelling unease among its neighbours. Commodore C. Uday Bhaskar (Retd), former director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses and National Maritime Foundation (NMF), speaks to Sridhar Kumaraswami about the implications for the rest of the world, and India, in particular. 

Why is China spending so much on defence, even when there is no perceptible threat to it from any of its neighbours? Is it to counter the declared US strategy of repositioning more naval forces in the Asia-Pacific over the next few years? 

China’s defence expenditure is now almost $120 billion. Viewed in isolation, it is a relatively high amount. But if you see it in context, it is not such a large sum. The US is taken as the benchmark because it has the highest defence expenditure in the world, which is close to $650 billion. The other way of looking at defence expenditure is in relation to the GDP. Today, China is almost a $8 trillion economy. So in that sense, Chinese defence expenditure is seen as pegged at below two per cent (of the Chinese GDP). Beijing is convinced at the highest level of its political and military leadership that it needs not only a strong economy but also a strong military. With the steady growth of the Chinese economy, it is not inconceivable that its defence spending may soon reach $300 to $400 billion. China’s objective is to catch up with the United States. 

What specific capabilities is China focusing on? 

Today’s $120 billion has to be seen as part of a long-term strategy where China is acquiring tangible military capability across the board, with a focus on its trans-border military index. This includes satellites, space and cyber aspects. They have already identified the maritime domain as an area of special focus. Traditionally the oceans are called the global commons. Now we have the extended global commons, which is the maritime domain, the cyber realm and outer space. It is instructive that China is making a very focused and forward-looking investment in this continuum. This would position it in a very favourable way in relation to the world’s No. 1 military power — the United States. 

Should India be worried at the huge hike in Chinese defence spending? Is there is a serious possibility of a Sino-Indian conflict in the next decade on account of the unresolved border dispute? 

China Channels Billy Mitchell: Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Alters Region’s Military Geography

March 4, 2013 

DF-21 Transporter-Erector Launcher 

China’s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) is no longer merely an aspiration. Beijing has successfully developed, partially tested and deployed in small numbers the world’s first weapons system capable of targeting the last relatively uncontested U.S. airfield in the Asia-Pacific from long-range, land-based mobile launchers. This airfield is a moving aircraft carrier strike group (CSG), which the Second Artillery, China’s strategic missile force, now has the capability to at least attempt to disable with the DF-21D in the event of conflict. With the ASBM having progressed this far, and representing the vanguard of a broad range of potent asymmetric systems, Beijing probably expects to achieve a growing degree of deterrence with it. 

None of this should be surprising. Numerous data points have been emerging from Chinese sources as well as official statements and reports from Washington and Taipei for years now, available to anyone willing to connect them. They offer an instructive case study not only to military analysts, but also to anyone conducting analysis under conditions of imperfect information. For instance, relevant Chinese publications multiplied throughout the late 1990s, dipped in a classic “bathtub-shaped” pattern from 2004 to 2006 at a critical point in ASBM development and component testing, and rose sharply thereafter as China headed towards initial deployment beginning in 2010. China is always more transparent in Chinese, and analysts must act accordingly. 

The Ghost of Billy Mitchell 

What is perhaps most surprising is the foreign skepticism and denial that has accompanied China’s ASBM. Again, however, this sort of disbelief is nothing new. At the close of World War II, the following editorial appeared: “The ghost of Billy Mitchell should haunt those who crucified him a few years back when he so openly declared that no nation could win the next war without air superiority and advocated that the U.S. move at once to build a strong air force. Billy Mitchell was merely far ahead of his time and it is regrettable that he didn’t live to see his prophecy come true” (Prescott Evening Courier, May 7, 1945). Mitchell’s legacy stems from his willingness to push for such revolutionary approaches as the July 21, 1921 test-bombing of captured German battleship Ostfriesland, even at the cost of his career. 

Consider the reported reaction of then-Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Mitchell’s proposal: “Good God! This man should be writing dime novels! … That idea is so damned nonsensical and impossible that I’m willing to stand on the bridge of a battleship while that nit-wit tries to hit if from the air!” Needless to say, Daniels was nowhere near Ostfriesland when army aircraft sunk it with two bombs (New York Times, July 22, 1921) [1]. 

So-Called Spring; Su-Shi Strife and The South-West Asia

Arab Spring, Arab Winter, Arab Summer, Arab Renaissance, Arab Awakening, Islamic Awakening and Islamic Rise are just few of the epithets used to describe the complex and multidimensional geopolitical changes in the middle-east region that comprises of West Asia and Northern Africa. Depending upon one’s perspective, each of these adjectives is inadequate to describe the complex geopolitical phenomena that have engulfed the region. It is important to recapitulate that barring three nations, viz. Iran, Turkey an Israel all other countries in this region are Arab. Despite Francis Fukuyama’s puerile musings about the “end of history”, we are now witnessing tectonic changes of historic proportions. However, it will be a very slow and bloody change that would be unstoppable despite numerous western interventions. 

As the geopolitical events unfold, we will witness a quasi-permanent fratricidal intra-Islamic sectarian war for decades in the west Asian region culminating in major cartographic changes. 

The genie of historic change had been unleashed much earlier in 2003 when the Baathist regime was toppled in Iraq ostensibly to chase the now non-existent “weapons of mass destruction”. The ten year anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and “the ensuing mother of all battles” does not witness peace and tranquility in that nation, divided de facto, on sectarian and ethnic fault-lines. The Iraqi Kurdistan, nominally under the central government of Iraq is on a rapid trajectory to peace, prosperity and development while Baghdad continues to witness sectarian violence and bomb attacks. The Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is grabbing executive powers and has inadvertently encouraged sectarian divide and Shia identity politics. Besides the Iraqi Kurds, the real beneficiary of the US invasion worth $ 870 billion has been the Islamic Republic of Iran.

If one chooses to be historically correct, the Islamic revolution of 1979 in Iran is the real harbinger of the so-called Arab spring. A US supported dictator was overthrown by popular revolt in Iran. The popular revolution was usurped and captured by Islamist Ayatollah Khomeini leading to a lot of blood-shed and massacre of democratic and liberal sections of the Iranian society in a targeted manner. A mini-version of this so-called (“Persian”) spring was again manifest in Iran, a non-Arab Shia theocracy in 2009 under the name of “green revolution”. However, the US administration led by Barak Hussain Obama “rightly” failed to capitalize on the situation leading to brutal suppression of young Iranians by the theocratic regime and its revolutionary guards. For the first time the US and its cronies missed an opportunity for externally driven regime change in Iran. 

Starting with Tunisia, the Arab Spring phenomena later on engulfed Egypt and Yemen. In Yemen, an extended “managed” political change was indeed brought in grudgingly under the patronage of Western imperialistic powers. Both Tunisia and Egypt saw subsequent take-over by Islamists in democratic elections. After over-throwing of Ben-Ali, the fundamentalist An-Nahda Islamists were the victors of the Tunisian democratic elections in October 2011. The Jihadists and the Salafists are now working in tandem with the conservative An-Nahda Islamists to infiltrate the previously secular Tunisian state from within. The story in Egypt is not very much different where the popular revolution against Hosni Mubarak and the Armed Forces has already been annexed by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Mohammad Morsey. The Egyptian judiciary, especially the Supreme Court has resisted the Muslim Brotherhood and its attempts to foist an Islamist constitution. Furthermore, the Egyptian Supreme court has postponed yet again the parliamentary elections denying the MB an opportunity to control the entire state. Parts of the civil police force have already stopped obeying orders of the Islamist government to fight against fellow citizens forcing the MB to spare its cadre for law enforcement duties.

Citizen cybersecurity

By Kennette Benedict
13 February 2013 

With increasing reports of cyber attacks on US banks, oil facilities, power plants, and even military systems, it comes as good news that the Obama administration is crafting policy on cybersecurity. In Tuesday's State of the Union address, the President said that "America must … face the rapidly growing threat from cyber attacks," and urged Congress to pass legislation that would help it do so. 

What is not encouraging, however, is that the policy debate is taking place behind closed doors. As in the early days of nuclear weapons, the phenomenal new technology of 1945, a veil of secrecy is being drawn that prevents the public from participating in the formulation of fundamental national security policy. But like a nuclear attack, successful cyber attacks on US electrical grids, water suppliers, air traffic systems, and nuclear weapons command centers will cause massive destruction that affects all of us, military and civilian alike. So we shouldn't wait until an attack is upon us to get involved. As citizens in a democracy, we have a right to be informed about the government's plans and to participate in creating the principles and framework designed to protect us. 

Who's in charge? One of the first issues we need to consider is who should respond to what. The digital age is blurring the line between civilian and military operations. For example, a cyber attack on an electrical grid that disrupts the power source for an entire region of the United States would result in untold damage to industry and commerce and even to human life. In deciding who responds, should such an attack be considered a matter of national security or more like a natural disaster? The answer could well depend on the source of the attack. Current US policy states that such an attack by another government or its agents would be considered an act of war, in which case, the United States could use military force, as well as cyber operations, to counter attack. If, on the other hand, a nongovernmental group or individual conducted a cyber attack on critical infrastructure, the hostile act could be treated as a criminal matter to be investigated and punished by civilian law enforcement agencies. 

Whoever the attacker, however, it is abundantly clear that cooperation between privately-held utilities, transportation, and power companies, on the one hand, and public authorities -- including intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies -- on the other, is essential for robust protection from cyber attacks. Effective cooperation, in turn, requires clear definition of responsibility and assignment of liability -- whether to private companies or public authorities -- to provide positive incentives for protecting critical infrastructure. As yet, there is no consensus about how these responsibilities should be assigned and to whom, and thus, the United States remains highly vulnerable to cyber attack. 

As the administration develops measures to defend against cyber attacks, industry and civic groups, as well as independent experts, should participate to ensure that responsibility for prevention and defense is clearly assigned, and that civilians are adequately protected. 

Cyber Warfare

By  Lt. Gen. Clarence E. McKnight Jr.  former head of the Signal Corps 

I spent a lifetime in the military and, while I love the officers and troops without reservation, I hate the greed and poor judgment that motivates certain segments of the military-industrial complex to focus on technology without calculating the cost or impact on our nation's economy.

A case in point was the great uproar about the supposed Y2K calamity that would befall our nation when we embarked upon the new century because computers allegedly were trapped in the previous century. Many of us were skeptical about it, but the greedy people hyped it all out of proportion to persuade our government to spend billions on automated data processing equipment that was not needed. It was money down a rat hole, money that should have been spent on real problems. I have seen this antic ritual acted out many times over the years. 

I see the same thing happening again in the great uproar over the so-called cyber war. There are legions of self-proclaimed security experts out there raising fears about cyber-attacks and seeking opportunities to sell Uncle Sam more billions in equipment that we do not need and cannot afford. 

There is no question that the world harbors many bad actors who are constantly striving to compromise national security, and even more who are trying to steal proprietary information from U.S. businesses. Every company of any size, and many smaller ones, must invest huge sums protecting their networks from digital pirates. 

But there is not nor can there ever be a definitive security system that will totally assure digital security, any more than there can be absolute security for bank vaults. There is an endless war of attrition between the digital pirates and those with proprietary information, and as in every war we will have victories and defeats. The question we must always address - one that I wrestled with most of my career - is how much security is enough, and how much security we can afford. 

We must all live with the possibility of being robbed or burglarized, but that does not mean each of us must have an armed security guard walking along with us when we go to the grocery store, or sentries standing guard of our homes when we are away. There comes a point when the costs of additional security outweigh the benefits, and begin to compromise the quality of life we are trying to achieve. 

Modern digital technology is a wonderful thing with great potential to enhance the quality of life, and national security, but technology will never be a viable substitute for human judgment. 

Lt. Gen. Clarence E. "Mac" McKnight, Jr., (USA-Ret) is the author of "From Pigeons to Tweets: A General Who Led Dramatic Change in Military Communications," published by The History Publishing Company.

Redefining Information Warfare Boundaries for an Army in a Wireless World

In the U.S. Army as elsewhere, transmission of digitized packets on Internet-protocol and space-based networks is rapidly supplanting the use of old technology (e.g., dedicated analog channels) when it comes to information sharing and media broadcasting. As the Army moves forward with these changes, it will be important to identify the implications and potential boundaries of cyberspace operations. An examination of network operations, information operations, and the more focused areas of electronic warfare, signals intelligence, electromagnetic spectrum operations, public affairs, and psychological operations in the U.S. military found significant overlap that could inform the development of future Army doctrine in these areas. In clarifying the prevailing boundaries between these areas of interest, it is possible to predict the progression of these boundaries in the near future. The investigation also entailed developing new definitions that better capture this overlap for such concepts as information warfare. This is important because the Army is now studying ways to apply its cyber power and is reconsidering doctrinally defined areas that are integral to operations in cyberspace. It will also be critical for the Army to approach information operations with a plan to organize and, if possible, consolidate its operations in two realms: the psychological, which is focused on message content and people, and the technological, which is focused on content delivery and machines. 

Full Document 

PDF file 1.3 MB