25 May 2013

An Indian military-industrial complex

Finally, India is getting defence procurement policies right. Involving the private sector in this effort is crucial 

 May 23 2013

The Defence Procurement Policy is a step in the right direction but has many audits to undergo before it can contribute significantly to defence production. 

The government recently announced the sixth iteration of the Defence Procurement Policy, 2013. In its current revision, the policy explicitly backs the indigenous defence industry. Its dealing with the private sector is even-handed. This is a positive change in the outlook of the defence ministry. 

The Defence Procurement Policy has made an unambiguous preferred order of categorization for defence procurement. In decreasing order of preference, it shall be: (1) buy (Indian); (2) buy and make (Indian); (3) make; (4) buy, make with transfer of technology; and (5) buy (global). The buy (Indian) mode is the one in which procurement is done directly from a domestic firm and is expected to boost local production. The hitherto prevalent mode of buy (global), that of purchasing in entirety from a global original equipment manufacturer, is now least preferred in the revised order of procurement. It is a laudable step to give top priority to procurement through buy (Indian) category. Having said that, the issue is that most Indian products lack significantly in quality compared with their foreign counterparts. The Indian private sector is in a unique position to deliver if it can achieve the twin requirements of quality and scale. However, for the private sector, the road to defence production is strewn with obstacles. Prominent among these are a lack of a manufacturing ecosystem for defence production, a distorted monopsonistic defence market (with the government as the only buyer), an ambiguous defence offset policy, abysmal investment in defence related research and development, large capex requirements coupled with long gestation periods and a shortfall of technical competence (read: technology). These need to be earnestly tackled. 

The private sector has a sufficient degree of motivation in terms of a large market size to overcome these hurdles. However, it can only do so within the limits of defined government policies. The government, in turn, can do great service to the private sector by minimizing a few prominent hurdles in one stroke by better coordinating the activities of the ministry of defence with those of the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP). Two such issues that need to be tackled are the National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) and a National Offset Policy. 
As a part of NMP, DIPP is aggressively promoting the formation of national investment and manufacturing zones (NIMZ). These would be under the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) being set up along with the western dedicated freight corridor. NIMZ will bring together modern infrastructure, technology, skill development centres and state of art connectivity for manufacturers. Russia and Japan will be key partners in developing these corridors and towns. The defence ministry can gain much by championing the establishment of defence production ecosystems within NIMZ. Though the NIMZ guidelines do mention defence production, there do not seem to be concrete proposals in existence. Promotion of a special defence production sector by the ministry, especially for dual-use technologies, can encourage a multi-tier development of defence production capability and enable private sector companies to invest in research and development. 

National Defence University – An Analysis

May 24, 2013

This is the first of a series of articles on the recently inaugurated Indian National Defence University. It covers the major aspects to be considered to initiate the process. Analysis of curricula, faculty and participation by academia and industry shall be covered as more details are forthcoming.

Finally, after years of drawing board exercises, the Indian National Defence University (INDU) has taken off the ground, literally. With the Prime Minister laying the foundation stone of INDU at Binola near Gurgaon, on 23 May 2013, some twelve years after the Kargil Review Committee recommended building of such a facility to develop strategic culture in the country.

INDU is proposed to have four colleges to come up on the university campus in addition to adding National Defence College(NDC), College of Defence Management (CDM), Defence Services staff College(DSSC) Wellington and NDA under its ambit, while retaining their autonomy. While President would act as the Visitor, the Defence Minister would be the Chancellor and an officer of the rank of Army Commander from Air Force or Navy, selected on merit, would be the Vice Chancellor or the President. The faculty shall comprise defence officers (65%) and a civil faculty comprising civil services, foreign countries, diplomats, academics and strategic planners.

Detailed modalities of INDU including its hierarchy, time schedules, staffing patterns and curriculum would have been or would be under development and refinement at Integrated Defence Staff Headquarters (HQ IDS) in consultation with MoD. However, at this juncture as the infrastructure development is still five (or more) years away there is a need to look at some macro issues designed to meet the needs of challenges to National Security.

First off, it is incumbent to clearly define the “autonomous” status of the university if it has to adopt an independent research based approach to policy formulation and execution. In theory, therefore, it would be mandatory to have INDU free from encumbrance of government interference in its academic/research work. For INDU to retain its independence with firm control over critical analysis of existing policies and suggest alternatives such linkages with the government over its administrative and financial control may sabotage the basic role set out for it. Purely from this perspective having the Defence Minister as the Chancellor would subordinate the university to official interference. Experiences of autonomous bodies such as CBI, CAG etc vindicate these fears.

Secondly, the advisory and consultative role of INDU in providing vital considered inputs for strategic planning and execution must be formalised and promulgated to mesh in with the higher defence organisation’s needs. The policy making apparatus such as the Cabinet Committee on Security should be able to lean on INDU to provide it holistic perspectives on all aspects of National security – a perspective needed to provide coherence to the National Security Strategy.

Defence Preparedness: Need to enhance Capabilities


The recent Chinese intrusion at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) has served as a wakeup call to the Indian establishment. In clear violation of the 2005 agreement the People’s Liberation Army established four tents on Raki Nala South of DBO on 15 April 2013. The Chinese withdrew on 05 May 2013, after three flag meetings and firm diplomatic protests by our Government and the media. The Chinese action was supposedly in response to infrastructure build up, patrolling and construction of fortifications by India, well within Indian Territory. This appears hypocritical seeing the extent of infrastructure build up by the Chinese in Tibet and Xinjiang Province. 

While the faceoff at DBO has been resolved for now, it throws up wider issues of border management to ensure that such intrusions do not take place in future. Our strategic plans therefore need to be revisited. There are four distinct areas which need immediate focus to enhance our military preparedness. These are surveillance, improvement of infrastructure, modernisation of weapons and additional forces for high altitude regions. At the outset it must be noted that DBO is not connected by road. It is air maintained for six months in a year and thereafter by mules and porters is used to maintain the forces from Panamik across the Saserla Pass. 

Presently the surveillance over the area is maintained essentially by patrols. Patrolling is primarily done by foot with vehicles being used in limited stretches. Sporadic helicopter flights and Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are flown which do not give a continuous update. There is a need for utilising remote sensing satellites to provide near real time data over the area. The data must be available to our forces on the ground and any confirmation could be done by Heron UAVs. Communication linkages must be established between Sub Sector North and these surveillance devices to ensure near real time imagery. Apart from these, greater number of Long Range Reconnaissance and Observation System (LORROS) as also ELM-2129 and ELM 2130 Battle Field Surveillance Radars (BFSR) must be provided for continuous surveillance of the area. The Chinese have an excellent mobile net work communications in the area. There is a need to procure suitable interception equipment to gain inputs of their motives. 

The infrastructure in this entire region needs drastic improvement. While the Chinese railway line is reaching Xigatse by 2015 and on to the Western areas by 2019 we have as on date no road to large portions of the border. Our road building activity is well behind schedule and it is time we carried out a feasibility for railway lines being extended from Srinagar through Zozila or from Chandigarh to Manali aross the Rohtang and Taglanla Pass. All conflicts in the mountains would entail cruise missiles, rockets (Smerch and Extended Range BM-21). Movement of these strategic and operational assets would entail better communications. Further, we must improve our Advanced Landing Grounds at DBO, Chusul and Nyoma. This will enable movement of essential war equipment to these areas. 

The modernisation of the Indian Armed Forces must be accorded priority. The Army must modernise its Small Arms and expeditiously acquire 155 mm Ultra Light Howitzers from the US. These guns could be lifted in AN-32 or an IL-76 (could take two) and moved to these areas. The Army must also look into having an appropriate number of regiments of Cruise missiles in Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. There is an immediate requirement of additional troops of Heron UAVs, LORROS and BFSRs for effective surveillance over the target area. For appropriate air cover, the contract negotiations for the MMRCA must be expedited. Apart from this, all our helicopters operating in this area need to be replaced with state of the art equipment to operate in these altitudes. 

Solution to the Pakistani terrorist quagmire

25 May , 2013 

It is difficult to comprehend why some people resort to terrorism. One of the main reasons put forward — economic failure — is no excuse to pursue the path of terror. There are many extremely poor nations and societies that struggle for a better future in a peaceful and non-violent way. For decades, a significant section of Pakistanis have chosen the wrong path. 

Terrorism has become an institution in Pakistan and has widespread support. Its army and intelligence services consider it a strategic weapon. 

Terrorism has become an institution in Pakistan and has widespread support. Its army and intelligence services consider it a strategic weapon. After each terrorist strike, the Pakistani government cleverly dodges international pressure by temporarily clamping down on terrorism until the focus shifts away. It never completely eliminates this menace. As a consequence, this small region has now become the most dangerous place on the planet. 

Pakistan was created by the British in 1947 as they hastily departed the Indian subcontinent. Its boundaries are incompletely defined and the state is largely unstable. The Durand line, Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen are examples of poorly demarcated borders. 

Map depicting export of terrorism from Pak soil 

From past experiences, it may appear that trusting the Pakistan Army or government to have a change of heart is simply naive. Believing that resolution of the Palestinian or Kashmir problem will end terrorism is another utopian naiveté. A long term solution has to be found to tackle the menace of terror, even if it means dividing Pakistan. Here is the reason why it may be our best and last option unless Pakistan rapidly dismantles the terror infrastructure. The pictorial account below traces the malaise and provides the only remedy. There is no other solution to this problem irrespective of what pundits and experts may say. 

China to send more than 500 troops to Mali to contain Islamist militants

Biggest contribution to UN forces will help to quell militants and strengthen ties with Africa 

 24 May, 2013

A PLA officer at a peacekeeping training centre. Photo: Reuters 

China has offered to send more than 500 soldiers to the UN force seeking to contain Islamist militants in Mali in what would be its biggest contribution to UN peacekeeping, diplomats said in New York. 

The move could be a bid to overcome tensions with the West over the Syria conflict and to strengthen China's relations in Africa, where it is a major buyer of oil and other resources, diplomats and experts said. 
The fight against terrorism in Africa should not be fought by African countries alone 
UN envoy Li Baodong 

France, which intervened in the West African nation in January, hopes to hand over to UN peacekeepers in July. More than 6,500 African troops are in the country, but the UN is looking for at least 3,000 more. 

The final number of Chinese troops who will take part has not yet been decided, diplomats said. 

"China has offered between 500 and 600 soldiers," one senior diplomat said. "We don't have details yet on what kind of troops they would be providing." 

Another UN diplomat confirmed the numbers, saying: "It is a significant move by China." 

Both diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity as talks are continuing. At least 155 of the Chinese troops are expected to be engineers, a UN official said. 

Confirming Beijing was considering proposals by the UN and African nations to increase its role in African peacekeeping, a Chinese diplomat said yesterday a decision had not yet been made on whether China would send combat troops to the continent. 

"China is seriously considering a United Nations' proposal early this year to modernise its peacekeeping operations in Africa," the diplomat said, citing UN plans to deploy a fleet of its own surveillance drones in missions in Central and West Africa. 

Analysts said China had a stake in African security issues because Beijing needed to protect its investments in Africa and the growing Chinese community on the continent. 

Fear Factor

In defense of Obama's deadly signature strikes. 

MAY 24, 2013 

The impact of armed drones during the decade-plus of this intense global counterterrorism campaign is hard to overestimate: Without operational commanders and visionary leaders, terror groups decay into locally focused threats, or disappear altogether. Targeted strikes against al Qaeda leaders and commanders in the years immediately after 9/11 deprived the group of the time and stability required to plot a major strike. But the London subway attacks in July 2005 illustrated the remaining potency of al Qaeda's core in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The threat was fading steadily. But not fast enough. 

So-called signature strikes -- in which target selection is based not on identification of an individual but instead on patterns of behavior or unique characteristics that identify a group -- accelerated this decline for simple reasons. Targeting leadership degrades a small percentage of a diffuse terror group, but developing the tactical intelligence required to locate an individual precisely enough to stage a pinpoint strike, in a no-man's land half a world away, is time-consuming and difficult. And it's not a perfect science; the leaders of groups learn over time how to operate more securely. Furthermore, these leaders represent only a fraction of the threat: Osama bin Laden might have been the public face of al Qaeda, but he was supported by a web of document-forgers, bombmakers, couriers, trainers, ideologues, and others. They made up the bulk of al Qaeda and propelled the apparatus that planned the murder of innocents. Bin Laden was the revolutionary leader, but it was the troops who executed his vision. 

Signature strikes have pulled out these lower-level threads of al Qaeda's apparatus -- and that of its global affiliates -- rapidly enough that the deaths of top leaders are now more than matched by the destruction of the complex support structure below them. Western conceptions of how organizations work, with hierarchal structures driven by top-level managers, do not apply to al Qaeda and its affiliates. These groups are instead conglomerations of militants, operating independently, with rough lines of communication and fuzzy networks that cross continents and groups. They are hard to map cleanly, in other words. Signature strikes take out whole swaths of these network sub-tiers rapidly -- so rapidly that the groups cannot replicate lost players and their hard-won experience. The tempo of the strikes, in other words, adds sand to the gears of terror organizations, destroying their operational capability faster than the groups can recover. 

There are other rationales for these attacks, though. Part of the reason signature strikes have become so prominent in this global counterterror war is, simply put, geography. Local terrorist groups only become international threats if they have leadership that can execute a broad, globalist vision, and if that leadership has the time and space to plot without daily distractions from armies and security services -- as in safe havens like Yemen, Somalia, the Sahel, and the tribal areas of Pakistan. These are exactly the places where the United States cannot apply conventional force and where local governments lack the capability or will to counter the threat. Exactly the places where drones offer an option to eviscerate a growing terror threat that has a dispersed, diffuse hierarchy. The places where signature strikes have proven effective. 

Government Plan to Build "Back Doors" for Online Surveillance Could Create Dangerous Vulnerabilities

May 23, 2013

Building back doors into computer systems could let the wrong people in

Recently, the FBI has been attacking the “going dark” problem—that is, its inability to read all electronic communications—from both legal and technological angles. It wants to be able to fine communications companies for refusing to comply with subpoena requests for the content of customers’ emails and chats. It’s also trying to create ways of decrypting any communication sent via a Web service, like Gmail messages Facebook chats, or Twitter direct messages. It believes it can work with companies to build secure methods for lawfully intercepting communications on the Web. 

But a report released last week by the Center for Democracy and Technology and some of the top names in computer security points out that building so-called "back doors" in to these Web services will also increase the risk that bad actors will gain access to the communications content of all users of these services. Creating a back door in software is like creating a lock to which multiple people hold the keys. The more people who have a key, the higher the likelihood that one will get lost. But this is precisely the power that would be granted by proposed extensions to the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA II). 

Even the most trustworthy and reputable organizations can’t live up to the required level of vigilance to keep software keys safe. Take the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which the government designated as a key holder for the “Clipper chip,” a backdoor system for monitoring telephones. Key holders would distribute keys to wiretap individual phones to law enforcement if they could provide proper legal justification. (It's not clear that NIST ever actually became the key holder, but the designation demonstrates the government's trust in the organization's security.) In the 1990s, NIST heavily lobbied for the adoption of key escrow methods of enabling lawful interception. Recently, NIST fell prey to a malware attack that could have leaked sensitive information. Ironically, the intrusion forced NIST to temporarily restrict the availability of a computer security vulnerability database that it maintains. 

Keys aside, there will be plenty of other opportunities for hackers to poke holes in the security of a system with a back door. Secure communication channels in software are incredibly difficult to implement. Indeed, the security software mechanisms everyday Web users trust to secure email, insurance transactions, banking information, and so on are riddled with vulnerabilities that can be exploited. By adding additional avenues for law enforcement to access those channels, you automatically increase the number of vulnerabilities.