10 September 2013

Developments in Stealth Technology

Issue Vol. 28.3 Jul-Sep 2013 | Date : 10 Sep , 2013 

Northop Grumman B-2 Bomber 

In the never ending rivalry between offence and defence, there will be a continuing race in development between stealth technology and detection devices of air defence systems. In future, stealth technology will be extended to transport aircraft, rotary wing and unmanned serial platforms. While stealth technology will undoubtedly play an increasingly critical role in air operations in the future, radar systems of the future will also have far greater capability to defeat stealth. The future holds even greater challenges for human ingenuity and the capability to innovate. 

Stealth technology really matured with the development of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft, the F-22 Raptor… 

During the Cold War era of the 1950s, the Lockheed U-2 spy planes of the United States of America (USA) were undertaking photo reconnaissance missions regularly with impunity in the airspace over the Soviet Union. Tasks assigned to these aircraft included monitoring the progress in the development of missile test sites, key infrastructure, nuclear installations, military establishments and communications facilities. 

Even while flying at extremely high altitudes well in excess of 100,000 feet above sea level, the U-2 spy planes were visible to the ground-based air defence establishments in the Soviet Union. Despite the fact that these spies-in-the-sky aeroplanes were not flying at very high speeds, they were still relatively immune to enemy action as they remained well outside the operational envelope of Soviet interceptor aircraft and the surface-to-air missile batteries. 

However, the US was fairly certain that the Soviet Union would soon catch up and develop the capability to intercept and shoot down the high flying American spy planes. Hence, the foremost challenge before the American defence scientific community was the urgent need to develop a technology to reduce the vulnerability of military aircraft first by reducing the possibility of their detection by enemy radar while operating in hostile airspace. 

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor 

Thus, it was that in the late 1950s, defence scientists in the US embarked on the development of “stealth technology” as was relevant to airborne military platforms to obviate the possibility of detection of the aircraft by ground-based air defence radars. But the endeavour was somewhat late to take off and the pace of development of this new technology was initially very slow. 

Consequently, disaster struck on May 01, 1960, when a Lockheed U-2C that had got airborne from a secret airbase near Peshawar in Pakistan for an espionage mission over the Soviet Union, was successfully intercepted and brought down by a salvo of first of the newly developed SA-2 Guideline (S-75 Dvina) surface-to-air missile system fired by the Soviet air defence establishment. Also shot down along with the U-2 piloted by Francis Gary Powers, a pilot employed by the Central Intelligence Agency of the US, was a Soviet MiG-19 fighter aircraft that was sent up to track and pursue the U-2. Undoubtedly, downing of the U-2 was not only embarrassing but also traumatic for the US, a sentiment that provided further impetus to the US effort at the development of stealth technology. 

Fighting Terrorism

Deccan Herald
September 3, 2013
Gurmeet Kanwal

Over the last decade, the deteriorating internal security environment has gradually morphed into Pakistan’s foremost national security threat. The inability of the Pakistan army to meet internal security challenges effectively is a particularly worrying factor. 

Fissiparous tendencies in Balochistan and the restive Gilgit-Baltistan Northern Areas are a perpetual security nightmare. Karachi remains a tinderbox that is ready to explode. The Al Qaeda has gradually made inroads into Pakistani terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and others. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has consolidated its position in North Waziristan and appears capable of breaking out of its stronghold to neighbouring areas. The Nawaz Sharif government has now announced a new counter-terrorism policy.

The Pakistan army has been facing many difficulties in conducting effective counter-insurgency operations even though it has deployed more than 150,000 soldiers in the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa and FATA, and has suffered over 15,700 casualties, including over 5,000 dead since 2008. Total casualties including civilians number almost 50,000 since 2001. Special Forces units of the Pakistan army, the elite SSG, are also directly engaged in fighting the militants.The army is unwilling to conduct high-intensity counter-insurgency operations due to apprehensions that fighting fellow Muslims would be demotivating in the long run. Many soldiers, including officers, are known to have refused to fight fellow Muslims. Several cases of fratricide have been reported. Questions are now being raised about the army’s lack of professionalism in counter-insurgency operations and its withering internal cohesion.

The TTP’s cadre base is over 20,000 tribesmen and Mehsud commands about 5,000 fighters. Mangal Bagh Afridi leads Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), a militant group that has refrained from joining the TTP and is independently active up to the outskirts of Peshawar. Meanwhile, radical extremism is gaining ground in Pakistan and the scourge of creeping Talibanisation has reached southern Punjab. Though it has flirted with peace deals with the militants, the army finds it impossible to meet the demands of the TTP and the TNSM. Demands have included the suspension of all military operations in the tribal areas; the withdrawal of army posts from the FATA; the release of all tribals arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Act; and, enforcement of the Sharia in the tribal areas.

Hurt by a series of Taliban successes in ‘liberating’ tribal areas and under pressure from the Americans to deliver in the ‘war on terror,’ in the initial stages the Pakistan army employed massive firepower to stem the rot. Helicopter gunships and heavy artillery were freely used to destroy suspected terrorist hideouts. This heavy-handed firepower-based approach without simultaneous infantry operations failed to dislodge the militants but caused large-scale collateral damage and served to alienate the tribal population even further. Major reverses led to panic reactions including the hurried negotiation of “peace accords” that were invariably broken by the militants. 

Should the Indian and Pak PMs meet in New York?

Whether the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, should meet his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, in New York in September has become a politically controversial issue. The government is being cautious in not ruling in or out such a meeting at this stage, hoping that between now and late September, the surrounding circumstances may change for the better, making the meeting politically less risky in the background of the public agitation over the killing of five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control, and the government’s shaky handling of the Defence Minister’s statement on the incident in the Lok Sabha. 

Clearly, the minister’s first statement, casting doubts on whether the regular troops from Pakistan were involved in the killing, was intended to keep open the doors not only for the New York meeting but also the resumption of the composite dialogue prior to that, for which suitable dates were being considered. The second statement accusing Pakistan’s military of direct involvement, followed by giving the Indian military a free hand in responding to Pakistan’s cease-fire violations, has, naturally, complicated the political choreography of dialogue resumption, with the postponement of some envisaged secretary level-meetings as the first casualty. 

It is apparent that Nawaz Sharif’s election raised hopes of better relations with Pakistan, especially as improvement of ties with India figured in his party’s election manifesto and his post-election statements on expanding economic cooperation and expediting the trial of those involved in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks struck the right chords. These positive perspectives evidently prompted our Prime Minister to send his special envoy to meet Nawaz Sharif even before he formally took office, a gesture reciprocated by the latter through sending his special envoy to Delhi with the message that all stake-holders in Pakistan — meaning the military — were on board on improving ties with India. 

The positive momentum of these early moves has, however, been reversed by subsequent developments. They have raised the question of whether the early optimism on our side was justified in the light of our frustrating experience of decades in dealing with Pakistan, the structural impediments that exist there in normalizing ties, and the long-standing links of Nawaz Sharif and his party with jihadi organizations. To this must be added the region’s changing geo-political scenario with American overtures to the Taliban and its renewed recognition of the Pakistan military’s crucial role in facilitating an orderly American withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

Already, under Nawaz Sharif’s very brief watch, many negative events have occurred, raising questions of whether we can count on him to control sufficiently the various elements in the body-politic of Pakistan in disagreement with his perceived positive agenda towards India: his political support base, extremist religious organisations, the military and the bureaucracy. For over a decade, Pakistan has been accusing our consulate in Jalalabad of supporting the insurgency in Balochistan. The Pakistani foreign office’s reaction to the Ramban incident in Kashmir was deliberately couched in religiously provocative terms in demanding an Indian inquiry into reports of desecration of the Quran. 

Nawaz Sharif has been saying repeatedly that he intends to focus on resolving the Kashmir problem, describing Kashmir as Pakistan’s “jugular vein” in his first address to the nation and equating it with the economy as the two priority issues. Such rhetoric cannot but fire up popular anti-Indian sentiments and demands of “progress” on Kashmir to Pakistan’s satisfaction. In June, the numbers for infiltration across the LoC and of terrorists killed went up considerably. The political atmosphere has been worsened by Pakistan’s parliament passing two anti-Indian resolutions in the last few days on cease-fire violations, countered by an Indian parliamentary resolution declaring that the whole of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, with Pakistan illegally occupying a part of it. 

The Army's Enterprise Resource Planning- ERP Saga – The Pioneers-Part I

Col Sanjay Sethi

The army’s quest for automation is probably as old as aspirations of the industry in contemporary India; however its pursuit to acquire an enterprise wide application over the intranet began comparatively earlier. The Army Ordnance Corps took a remarkable initiative over two decades back and conceived deployment of an application which could meet the managerial requirements of the Corps across the length and breadth of the country. The application was required to be built de-novo and the tender for the development of Phase I of such an application as a turnkey project was first advertised in national dailies on 06 Mar 1996, post approval of the Government. Those were the days when the Defence Procurement Procedure had just begun to evolve and the processing of technical and commercial bids for the Turnkey Project of extremely complex nature took as much as three years and four months (time indicated includes that for re-tendering).

The process of application development post issue of the Letter of Intent took another 35 months. The application so developed was one of the biggest and costliest custom built computer application ever written for the army. The solution offered by the vendor was tailor-made to automate the existing ordnance store related processes and as on date it is also one of the oldest application running on the army communication network. 

The solution offered by the vendor had 24 distinct functional modules which automated functional aspects of the Ordnance Dte and a COD. The magnitude of the task accomplished by the vendor and the Ordnance team can be reckoned in light of the fact that the Phase I application has as many as 614 Maint screens, 348 Query screens and 429 Report formats and is accessible from 317 terminals. The vendor played to the user demands but ran into cost overruns, as the man months required to complete the application overshot by six times; from 300 conceived to 1800 utilized till completion.

The application developed has since functioned to the satisfaction of the users and the return on investment has been indeed very high. The application has drastically reduced processing time, enhanced efficiency and increased customer satisfaction. The application also succeeded in bringing transparency and improved asset visibility, which in turn has made feasible realistic use of inventory management techniques. It is also one of the first applications which facilitates online audit. Consequent to benefits like accurate provisioning, financial control, reduction in inventory carrying costs,approx Rs 250 Crores were saved over a period of three yrs, which is 20 times the cost of the entire turnkey project.

Such was the success of endeavour, that there was an increasing demand from the end users to proliferate the application further. Work for Phase II of the application began in right earnest. However, two important developments took place. Firstly, the core users of the application realized the pitfalls in utilization of a custom built application. The source code of the application was highly complex and largely inflexible. Numerous bugs were detected even after the lapse of the warranty period and there was a continuous requirement of enhancements and upgrades. Payments for such demands post expiry of the initial warranty and AMC period became a challenge. The AMC cost estimates by the original vendor rose exponentially and the finance would not accept them as they considered the initial quotes in the tender of Phase I as benchmark. 

Biden’s India Visit – Points to Ponder Over

Vice President Joe Biden was in India for four days in July, visiting Delhi and Mumbai. The visit got less than the usual level of media exposure than high-level visits from the US normally attract. This was effectively the second visit at this level since Independence, not counting the visit of Hubert Humphrey for Shastri’s funeral, and therefore a purely protocol affair. Then it was Vice President George HW Bush who visited India in 1984. And now, after a gap of almost three decades, Vice President Biden came visiting. 

Whatever the reason for the low-key treatment of the visit, it deserved more attention, not so much for the discussions in Delhi, but for a noteworthy speech he delivered in Mumbai. This was made before a gathering of business persons, but covered more than the normal fare at business gatherings. 

Two important points were made by Biden, among several others of course, that need attention, both in the public discourse and among the officials dealing with the US. For some time now, the dominant one-word summation of the Indo-US relationship has been stagnation. There appears to be a resignation, on both sides, that nothing more can happen until a new Government takes office in Delhi. This is probably true, but not because of any calculations or policies, or even compulsions – it is more a function of this Government being unable to muster up the intellectual energy to address the emerging opportunities in the India-US relationship. 

And that is what the two openings mentioned by Biden are about. The first was about the “rebalance” towards Asia, and the second was about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both of these require some elucidation. 

Biden was up-front in telling the audience that India was an indispensable element in the rebalance. This is something we have been hearing from American leaders for some time now. What is not clear – at least in the public domain or even in Track II exchanges – is what this means in terms of detail or action. But first, it is important also to note that Biden waded into the internal debate here by adding that there was no contradiction between strategic autonomy and strategic partnership. This is an important practical point, because in India, the view seems to dominate that nonalignment – 1.0 or the new, improved version 2.0 – is the key to strategic autonomy. 

In point of historical fact, this is not true; Indira Gandhi enhanced her strategic autonomy by signing the Indo-Soviet Treaty in 1971. Without that, India would have been restricted in its actions even as events hurtled towards war in the subcontinent. Of course, we all made statements that nonalignment was not affected by the Treaty, but for that brief period of 1971-72, India was aligned with the Soviet Union – and a good thing it was too. The Treaty formally ran on until 1991, but had lost much of its strategic value by the mid-1970’s. Similarly, Nehru was all too willing to jettison nonalignment in the face of the Chinese aggression in 1962, by asking for not just US military equipment, but even personnel to man the weaponry. It was, in fact, so much the subject of controversy within Indian political circles that many of the Americans, who visited India with different missions to extend military and other aid, were plied with this very question – was America bent upon India giving up nonalignment? 

To the fear that the US was keen to steal the nonaligned crown jewels under the guise of military assistance, the US Ambassador in India then, JK Galbraith, put his thinking with his characteristic mix of frankness and acerbity. He wrote the following passage to his President and repeated it to any questioner from the Indian press, though this last he did with a little more finesse: 

India in Reverse

Published: September 8, 2013

India’s once booming economy is sliding into a deep slump. The country grew just 4.4 percent this summer, a far cry from the 7.7 percent average for the past decade. Its currency, the rupee, has tumbled 16 percent against the dollar in the last three months. And analysts expect things to get even worse in the coming months.

Like Indonesia, Brazil and otherdeveloping countries, India has been hurt as investors have moved money to the United States to take advantage of the prospect of higher interest rates. But most of India’s biggest problems — like its high inflation, which was nearly 5.8 percent in July and has been rising partly because of the falling rupee — have domestic causes. Until the coalition government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reforms the country’s economy, India will fall far short of its potential.

During the global financial boom of the mid-2000s, investors indiscriminately dumped cash into fast-growing countries and India’s shortcomings were easily overlooked. The financial crisis forced investors to pay more attention to fundamental problems in emerging markets. Analysts and business executives say the country has become even less hospitable in recent years. In the nine years that the coalition government has been in power, several ministers have resigned in corruption scandals; large infrastructure projects have been delayed by mismanagement; the government’s budget deficit has ballooned, thanks towasteful spending like subsidies for diesel fuel; and politics have thwarted reforms in labor and education.

Mr. Singh has been an ineffectual leader without much authority. The real power is held by his political patron, Sonia Gandhi, who leads the Indian National Congress Party, which has expressed little concern for the country’s ailing economy.

Sadly, most analysts expect Ms. Gandhi and Mr. Singh to make no politically difficult changes — like privatizing bloated state-owned enterprises or easing counterproductive regulations and delays on public infrastructure projects — until after national elections next year.

As the economy slows, India’s poor suffer most. Many have lost jobs in hard-hit sectors like construction and manufacturing. They are also seeing their meager incomes eroded by rising food costs. One change that would help is for government to provide welfare payments directly to families instead of funneling subsidized food grains, fuel and other commodities through corrupt officials who siphon off up to 60 percent of the benefits. In Brazil and Mexico, direct transfers to the poor have helped reduce poverty and cut down on corruption and waste.

The Great Gas Game over Syria

September 9, 2013 

Even as much has been written about the regional and global actors pursuing their pitiless agendas in Syria, one sub-plot in the vicious drama has remained relatively unexplored. And that is the gas resource and its routes from production to the market. 

The past five years have seen discoveries of immense energy reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean; both the Levant Basin located along the shores of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza and Cyprus and the Nile Basin north of Egypt. According to preliminary geological surveys, the Levant Basin contains 3.5 trillion cubic meters (tcm) of gas and 1.7 billion barrels (bb) of oil. The Nile Basin contains 6 tcm of gas and 1.8 bb of oil. 

The energy bonanza has predictably led to competitive resource scramble and its transport to the favoured customers. After all, the control of and access to the natural resources have been fundamental drivers of much of geopolitics. The roads, railways, ports, as also the oil and gas pipelines are the coveted objects of the powerful. The oil and gas have a three-fold merit: as the commodity inside, as the containers of that commodity and as the carriers of that commodity. 

Syria alone is estimated to have discovered proven gas reserves of 284 bcm, oil reserves of 2.5 bb and shale reserves of 50 billion tonnes with the possibility of more findings. The production levels are, however, drastically falling. The pre-uprising level of oil was 380,000 barrels a day (bd), which fell to just 20,000 bd, a decline of about 95%. According to some estimates, the natural gas output has halved at 15 million cubic meters (mcm). A lot of gas is used for reinjection into the oil fields to improve the oil recovery. The unrest has not only disrupted the production, but has resulted in the withdrawal of foreign producers and financiers. 

Almost the entire Syrian oil was exported to the European Union (EU). The sales have come to a virtual standstill after the European Union (EU) put an embargo on the Syrian oil in December 2011. In fact, in April this year, the EU has permitted imports from the rebel-held areas so long as the deals are approved by the Syrian National Coalition. 

Within the country, there has been no investment in the refineries, energy pipelines or other infrastructure. Additionally, there is a constant fear of sabotage by the rebels. Since the diesel in the country has been subsidized and priced lower than in the neighbourhood, there has always been a smuggling of the oil, the levels of which are rising alarmingly. 

On June 25, 2011, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in the Iranian port city of Bushehr to construct a gas pipeline from the Iranian gas field of Assaluyeh through Iraq and Syria. To be built at a cost of $10 billion, its projected capacity of 110 mcm per day was tentatively allocated among Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It was proposed to extend it to Greece through a submarine line and from there on to the markets in Europe. Named the “Islamic Pipeline”, it was to be supplemented by the export of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from the Syrian ports on the Mediterranean. Latakia and Tartous are two major Syrian ports. Russia has leased Tartous and constructed a naval base there. 

Come November in Nepal…


September 9, 2013 

The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), which split from the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” last year, initially put forward two preconditions for its participation in the poll: first, a roundtable meeting of all-stakeholders to settle the outstanding constitutional issues; and second, dissolution of the current election government headed by Chief Justice Khilaraj Regmi. 

But the disgruntled party led by radical communist leader Mohan Baidya “Kiran” later became somewhat flexible in its demands. Downplaying its demand for the dissolution of the election government, the party began negotiations with the top brass of other major parties in the High Level Political Committee, popularly known as the political ‘syndicate’. But the negotiation process came to an end all of a sudden last week when the ‘syndicate’ rejected its demand for a roundtable conference. 

Kiran has argued that the country should hold a roundtable conference comprising all-stakeholders to isolate the reasons for dissolution of the last constituent assembly in 2012 and evolve a political consensus to avoid the same mistakes in future. But the ‘syndicate’ holds that the demand is merely a poly to defer the election and make attempts to foment an insurrection for state capture. This argument deserves some merit. In fact, state capture through an urban insurrection amidst socio-political disorder is the ‘official line’ of the Kiran-driven party. 

But there are real indicators that the party has been compelled to rethink its policy after the urban middle class ignored its call to unite and take to the streets over the issue of safeguarding “nationalism” or “national sovereignty”. The party’s call for urban-centric demonstrations began two weeks after it submitted the 70-point demand to the government on September 10, 2012. The party even enforced a ban on the screening of Bollywood movies and the movement of vehicles bearing Indian number plates, but had to lift the ban in October 2012 due to widespread public anger. The party’s call for urban-centric demonstrations also failed to garner the popular support. 

Subsequently, party General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa “Badal” has presented a proposal in the party to contest the elections by forming a political front under the leadership of CP Gajurel “Gaurav”. It may be recalled that the Maoists had contested the general elections in 1991 by creating such a political front under the leadership of Baburam Bhattarai. But Badal’s proposal has been seriously opposed by the most influential party leader Netra Bikram Chand “Biplov” who is for election boycott. 

Ironically, the decision by the syndicate to ignore Kiran has virtually ended th intra-party conflict within the Kiran-led Maoists party. The move has also given Biplov the “justification” for election boycott and significantly strengthened his position in the party. Thus the senior leaders are being dragged along the political line of Biplov who has argued that the party should either boycott the election or unify with the mother party led by Prachanda. 

According to media reports, the purpose of Biplov’s China visit last week was to seek that country’s support for election postponement. But, the Chinese do not seem to be in the position to help him much. Given the level of hostility and mutual mistrust, the party re-unification is also easily said than done. 

National Interests should Guide India’s Afghan Policy

2014 will be a turning point in Afghanistan. Power will be handed over to a new President after elections. The US military will complete its withdrawal. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will take over the security responsibility for the country. 

The prospects for all these transitions do not look promising. The new President will have to be a Pashtun in order to ensure broad-based ethnic support. President Karzai was parachuted to the presidency without elections in post-war circumstances in which the US and the West could impose their will. His re-election was mired in controversy, created primarily by his western supporters. Despite many levers at their command, the US and the West have not been able to manage Karzai. This shows how difficult it has been for the US and others to oversee the political process in Afghanistan even under military occupation. With the impending withdrawal, their control over politics will become even less. The larger question is whether a new Pashtun leader can emerge who can assure cross ethnic support? Will he able to deliver political stability and a degree of economic development in the very difficult circumstances that his country will be facing? 

The US has signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan, but the follow-up agreement- the Bilateral Security Agreement- on the status of the residual US forces that will remain in military bases has not been finalized. The US has failed to secure a suitable agreement in Iraq. If it fails in Afghanistan, it is threatening a “zero option”. Whether this is pressure tactics or is a veritable option is not clear. In any case, the fact that this is being considered shows that the US has no clear answer for the future. “Zero option” has the air of a “zero answer”! 

The ANSF may have numbers and reports that they are performing well does not guarantee they will be able to operate successfully in a post-US withdrawal environment, especially if the US leaves in a scenario that is politically unsatisfactory for all sides. The ANSF lacks heavy weaponry, air power and sophisticated intelligence capability. Will they be able to really cope as a cohesive force? 

The economic prospects in Afghanistan are not very reassuring despite the pledges of assistance made at Tokyo and the announced longer-term commitments made by countries not to abandon Afghanistan. If the US exercises a zero military option, will that be compatible with a major economic commitment prolonged in time, especially in a tight economic situation in the US and the Eurozone? Plans by countries to invest in Afghanistan not only depend on internal stability but also will take some years to yield results, enough to make a difference on the ground. 

Adding to the problem is the general instability around Afghanistan. The internal situation in Pakistan is fraught despite recent elections. Iran has a new President but the nuclear dossier remains problematic and sanctions on Iran have been further tightened. The Arab world is in turmoil, with the so-called Arab Spring having withered very rapidly. Religious extremism is spreading and this gives political oxygen to such forces battling in Afghanistan. 

India has to cope with the situation as it develops. We have faced the worst when the Taliban took over Afghanistan in the mid-90s. We know of course what the dangers are ahead and have tried to play our limited role in preventing untoward conditions from developing through our political and economic engagement with Afghanistan. 

India is pursuing a very responsible policy in Afghanistan. We want a sovereign, stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, one that is free from extremism and where human rights, especially those of women are respected. India is doing nothing contrary to the achievement of this objective in Afghanistan. 

We are maintaining friendly relations with Afghanistan based on equality and respect for sovereignty. We are not interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, arming any particular group or providing safe-havens for terrorists or anti-government political groups to carry on violent activities against the legitimate government of Afghanistan. 

US subcontracting Afghanistan to Pakistan?

by Lt Gen Prakash Katoch in IDR

In early 1970s, a Captain from the Afghan Army attending Junior Command Course in MHOW had this to say about Pakistan, “You attack them from the front and we will take her from the rear – that is the only solution.” What changes such sentiment would have undergone over the years with Pakistan intensifying its viper hatcheries through regular overdoses of radicalized Viagra is not difficult to guess. The reality of the situation is apparent through the statement of General Sher Mohammad Karimi, Afghan Army Chief telling BBC Hardtalk that fighting in Afghanistan could be stopped “in weeks” if Pakistan told the Taliban to end the insurgency, and that Pakistan controlled and gave shelter to Taliban leaders, deliberately unleashing fighters on Afghanistan.

“The Taliban are under [Pakistan's] control – the leadership is in Pakistan.”

Naturally, as always, Pakistan denies this and the US believes it unbelievingly. If the Obama administration refused to act on US and NATO commanders in Afghanistan stating GWOT was being fought on the wrong side of the Pakistan-Afghan border, then who really is General Karimi though Karimi qualified his statement further by saying, “The Taliban are under [Pakistan's] control – the leadership is in Pakistan.” Little doubts this is the handle Pakistan has over the US that deters the latter to play universal policeman in AfPak region though it has no compunctions in bombing Syria.

Failing to defeat the Taliban over more than a decade, no guessing why the US is happy with opening of the Taliban office in Doha and more than thrilled with the Pakistani Taliban office in Syria, with Pakistani-Qatari support adding to the mayhem in Syria. Then is the façade of Afghan peace talks when the Taliban refuse to recognize the Afghan Constitution, refuse to shun arms and violence in name of jihad and want an Islamic Caliphate.

“There is a higher probability of General Kayani converting to Hinduism than there is of the Haqqani Network ever being decoupled from Al Qaeda”.

Yet, the US is playing ball to Pakistan on the googly bowled by Kayani that even Haqqanis will be willing to split from and denounce Al Qaeda, the probability of which was aptly described by Michael Hughes by saying, “There is a higher probability of General Kayani converting to Hinduism than there is of the Haqqani Network ever being decoupled from Al Qaeda”. Yet, the US is not only prepared to side with Pakistan and illegitimate Pakistani interests in Afghanistan but ready to accept Taliban control in areas of Afghanistan, which would facilitate Pakistan expand her viper hatcheries westwards giving free run to her proxies in newfound AfPak sanctuaries. This is aptly described by Robert Kaplan in his book ‘The Revenge of Geography’ wherein he writes, “This would, in effect, a greater Pakistan, giving Pakistan’s ISI the ability to create a clandestine empire composed of the likes of Jallaluddin Haqqani, Gulbuddin Hekmetyar, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba ….”.

Post 2014, even if the US continues to operate drones, Special Forces and leaves training personnel behind in Afghanistan (all of which are doubtful), it is very much on the cards that the US will continue to support Pakistani illegitimate interests at the cost of the Afghanistan. It is not without reason that the Afghan’s feel cut up that having lorded over their country for over a decade, the US is now subcontracting Afghanistan to Pakistan despite latter being the bane of all their problems. In such backdrop, what would be the state of mind of President Karzai visiting Pakistan under pressure from the US for so called peace talks, even as some Pakistanis have no hesitation in stating unofficially that Karzai has outlived his utility for the US and Pakistan and may even suffer the same fate as Najibullah post US withdrawal.

To Ease Pakistan Violence, Turn on the Lights

By Michael Kugelman Sep 9, 2013

It has been a bloody few weeks in Pakistan, even by the country’s violent standards. Sectarian extremists assaulted an open-air market. Separatist militants executed bus passengers. Terrorists bombed a children’s soccer game and a policeman’s funeral. A deadly jailbreak freed more than 200 jihadis. And the nation’s capital went on lockdown after rumors of impending high-profile attacks.

This unrelenting terror makes all the more striking a recent statement by Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s water and power minister. Energy, he declared in an interview, is a greater challenge than terrorism.

Asif’s statement is striking -- and spot-on. Militancy grabs headlines internationally, and it’s undoubtedly of grave concern. But Pakistan’s energy crisis directly affects many more people than the Taliban. More than anything else -- corruption, sectarianism, inadequate public services-- a lack of power is destabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 193 million people.

Pakistanis -- including those in the militant-choked northwest -- suffer as much as 20 hours of daily power outages. Energy shortfalls have exceeded 40 percent of national demand and cost the country 4 percent of gross domestic product. Hundreds of factories, including those in the dominant textile industry, have shut down, leaving scores unemployed. Hospitals have had to curtail services, putting patients’ lives at risk. Doctors report the crisis is increasing stress and depression.

Energy Insecurity

Militants have naturally exploited Pakistan’s energy insecurity. In April, the Pakistani Taliban destroyed the largest power station in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the restive province bordering Pakistan’s tribal belt. Half of Peshawar, the provincial capital, lost power. Power shortages have also sparked violent protest among ordinary citizens. Rioters have attacked utility offices,law enforcement, banks, shops, and the homes and offices of ruling and opposition party politicians.

The root cause of Pakistan’s power crisis is a dysfunctional energy sector that even Asif, the power minister, admits is a “nightmare.” With multiple ministries and agencies responsible for energy matters and no clear lines of authority, the policy-making process is wholly uncoordinated. Inefficiency is rife; transmission and distribution losses have approached 30 percent. Finally, the sector is burdened by so much debt that Pakistan literally can’t afford to provide energy.

These are big problems, and solving them will require big, politically risky moves: expanding Pakistan’s tax base, cracking down on theft and restructuring the power sector. Encouragingly, Pakistan’s new government has made energy its top priority, and proposed a new national policy.

Taliban bombers hit Afghanistan Wardak intelligence HQ

More than 100 people - mostly civilians - were injured in the attack, police said

At least four Afghan intelligence staff have been killed after suicide bombers attacked offices of the provincial intelligence department in Wardak.

Five suicide bombers were shot dead in the series of co-ordinated attacks, an hour away from the capital Kabul.

More than 100 people - mostly civilians - were injured, police said.

Separately a Nato air strike on Saturday in the eastern province of Kunar killed 15 people, including nine civilians, Afghan officials said.

But a Nato spokeswoman told the BBC that a precision attack had killed 10 insurgents and that she had no reports of civilians dying.

Huge explosion

Police say that that the suicide bombers in Wardak were targeting key government offices within the provincial intelligence department in Maidan Shar, the capital city of Wardak.

Nearby buildings and shops were destroyed, a statement from the governor's office said.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement, the governor's office said at least six militants launched the attack shortly after a powerful car bomb was detonated by a suicide attacker.

Local shopkeepers told the BBC that the explosion was so powerful that it broke windows of homes at least 1km (0.6 miles) away.

Afghan special forces engaged the five other attackers in heavy exchanges of fire.

Taliban insurgents and al-Qaeda fighters use Wardak as a gateway to launch attacks on nearby Kabul province.

Some U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014

Will serve in training, advising operation
The Washington Times
Sunday, September 8, 2013

Some U.S. combat forces will need to remain in Afghanistan after NATO’s mission ends in 2014, top commanders in the war-ravaged country say as they await guidance from the president on how many U.S. troops will remain as part of a training and advising operation.

Air ForceMaj. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, deputy commander for U.S. and coalition air operations in Afghanistan, said that some U.S. air combat forces would remain after 2014 even as the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom gives way to NATO’s Operation Resolute Support.

“Our plan right now is to have those forces in country, for sure, and we’ll be able to support the coalition forces with close air support,” Gen. Wilsbach said in a phone interview from Kabul.

Gen. Wilsbach said it’s still being worked out whether U.S. air combat forces can support both Afghan troops and American fighters who will remain as part of Operation Resolute Support.

“I think that it would be the appropriate thing to do,” he said. “But obviously, that’s not my decision to make. We’re still awaiting guidance.”

Most international troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. U.S. and Afghan officials have been negotiating how many American troops will remain after the deadline, with several officials suggesting that a few thousand will stay behind to train and advise Afghan security forces.

Navy Adm. James Stavridis, who retired in May as NATO’s supreme commander, said in Foreign Policy magazine last month that he thinks 9,000 U.S. and 6,000 allied troops would be sufficient to teach and mentor Afghanistan’s 350,000-man security force.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said in an interview Sept. 2 with Britain’s The Guardian newspaper that providing combat support to Afghans as part of the Resolute Support mission is being considered.

“There are three words in the mission: train, advise and assist. In a NATO context, ‘assist’ would include things like providing combat support, which is specifically the aviation piece, and a policy decision would have to be made about that,” Gen. Dunford told the British paper.

A former top defense official and a former commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan in May floated the idea of a remnant “bridging force” to provide air power, medical evacuations and other services, seemingly paving the way for U.S. troops staying a few more years in direct support and not merely an advisory role.

“[For] two to three years after 2014, the United States may need an additional force package of several thousand personnel to help the Afghans finish building their air force, their special operations forces and certain other enablers in medical realms, in counter-IED capability and in intelligence collection,” said Michele Flournoy, former defense undersecretary for policy, and retired Marine Gen. John R. Allen in a Center for a New American Security report.

How China Sees the South China Sea

By James R. Holmes
September 9, 2013

Last week a friend asked me to revisit a historical analogy broached in those thrilling days of yesteryear when I wrote for Flashpoints. Good idea. There is more to say about the comparison, which sheds light on why China plays well with others in the Indian Ocean but not the China seas.

The analogy is the doctrine of "no peace beyond the line" practiced in late Renaissance Europe. To recap: in a nifty bit of collective doublethink, European rulers struck up a compact whereby nations could remain at peace in Europe, avoiding the hardships of direct conflict, while assailing each other mercilessly beyond a mythical boundary separating Europe from the Americas. In practice this meant they raided each other's shipping and outposts in the greater Caribbean Sea and its Atlantic approaches.

It feels as though an inverse dynamic is at work in the Indo-Pacific theater. Naval powers cooperate westward of the line traced by the Malay Peninsula, Strait of Malacca, and Indonesian archipelago. Suspicions pockmarked by occasional confrontation predominate east of the South China Sea rim, a physical — rather than imaginary — line dividing over there from home ground.

A non-Renaissance European, Clausewitz, helps explain why seafaring powers can police the Gulf of Aden in harmony while feuding over the law of the sea in the East China Sea and South China Sea. It's because the mission is apolitical. Counterpiracy is the overriding priority for the nations that have dispatched vessels to the waters off Somalia. Few if any of them have cross-cutting interests or motives that might disrupt the enterprise. It's easy to work together when the partners bring little baggage to the venture.

Or think of it in terms of vector mechanics. Clausewitz's go-to formula holds that how much a government values its political goals should dictate the magnitude and duration of the effort it mounts to obtain those goals. In a coalition, each partner performs its own calculations. Because countries have different interests, inhabit different bits of territory, and see the world through different historical and cultural lenses, their value-of-the-object calculations tend to differ. The vectors diverge. Disparate priorities complicate efforts to align the arrows in more or less the same direction, achieving common purposes, strategy, and operations.

It's rare indeed that coalition partners have the same goals, with few ulterior motives interfering with coalition management. But that does seem to be the case in the western Indian Ocean. The strategic vectors point in the same direction, largely of their own accord. The only real difference is the degree of effort each partner puts forth. Quarrels over free-riding, however, are minimal in a voluntary, informal consortium like the counterpiracy task force. Ergo, peace — even cooperation — beyond the line.

The Pentagon's Quietly Massive Presence in Africa

They're involved in Algeria and Angola, Benin and Botswana, Burkina Faso and Burundi, Cameroon and the Cape Verde Islands. And that's just the ABCs of the situation. Skip to the end of the alphabet and the story remains the same: Senegal and the Seychelles, Togo and Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. From north to south, east to west, the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, the heart of the continent to the islands off its coasts, the US military is at work. Base construction, security cooperation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions, and a growing logistics network, all undeniable evidence of expansion-except at US Africa Command.

To hear AFRICOM tell it, US military involvement on the continent ranges from the miniscule to the microscopic. The command is adamant that it has only a single "military base" in all of Africa: Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. The head of the command insists that the US military maintains a "small footprint" on the continent. AFRICOM's chief spokesman has consistently minimized the scope of its operations and the number of facilities it maintains or shares with host nations, asserting that only "a small presence of personnel who conduct short-duration engagements" are operating from "several locations" on the continent at any given time.

With the war in Iraq over and the conflict in Afghanistan winding down, the US military is deploying its forces far beyond declared combat zones. In recent years, for example, Washington has very publicly proclaimed a "pivot to Asia," a "rebalancing" of its military resources eastward, without actually carrying out wholesale policy changes. Elsewhere, however, from the Middle East to South America, the Pentagon is increasingly engaged in shadowy operations whose details emerge piecemeal and are rarely examined in a comprehensive way. Nowhere is this truer than in Africa. To the media and the American people, officials insist the US military is engaged in small-scale, innocuous operations there. Out of public earshot, officers running America's secret wars say: "Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today."

The proof is in the details-a seemingly ceaseless string of projects, operations, and engagements. Each mission, as AFRICOM insists, may be relatively limited and each footprint might be "small" on its own, but taken as a whole, US military operations are sweeping and expansive. Evidence of an American pivot to Africa is almost everywhere on the continent. Few, however, have paid much notice.

Violence in Iraq: The Growing Risk of Serious Civil Conflict

SEP 9, 2013

The rising level of violence in Iraq is difficult to measure and interpret, but it presents a serious risk that Iraq could return to the level of civil conflict it experience during the mid-2000s. 

The revised and updated version of a recent analysis by the Burke Chair at CSIS examines the patterns and trends in Iraqi violence since the departure of US forces at the end of 2011. It examines the statistics on violence and their limits. It also examines the relative role of the Iraqi central government as a cause of such violence relative to the role and nature of violent non –state actors and extremist groups.

The study is entitled Violence in Iraq in 2013: The Growing Risk of Serious Civil Conflict, and it is available on the CSIS web site athttp://csis.org/files/publication/130909_Violence_in_Iraq_Growing_Risks.pdf

The study finds that there are many serious problems in estimating Iraq’s level of violence, its causes and the responsibility of given actors. Data from, UNAMI, declassified US intelligence sources and other US reporting, and NGOS like Iraq Body Count are, however, good enough develop detailed trend charts and maps, and to warn that Iraq may be moving back to a level of civil conflict that will amount to a serious civil war.

The also, however, examines the full range of challenges that still push Iraq towards civil conflict as well as the impact of Iraq’s power struggles. It discusses the role of both key Iraqi political developments and key-non state actors, and ties the patterns in violence to Iraq’s politics, leaders, and security forces as well as to individual extremist and terrorist groups.

The data also reflect the fact that violence is not simply the produce of extremists and terrorist groups, Iraq’s growing violence is a product of the fact that Iraq is the scene of is in an ongoing struggle to establish a new national identity: one that can bridge across the deep sectarian divisions between its Shi’ites and Sunnis as well as the ethnic divisions between its Arabs and its Kurds and other minorities.

Iraq does have great potential and its political divisions and ongoing low-level violence do not mean it cannot succeed in establishing stability, security, and a better life for its people. Iraq cannot succeed, however, by denying the problems it faces, the growing level of violence and the responsibility of Iraq’s current political leaders for its problems.

Improving the quality and focus of Iraqi efforts at counterterrorism and internal security is a key priority, but Iraq cannot end its violence through force or repression. Iraq’s leaders must build a new structure of political consensus. They must build an effective structure of governance, and social order that sharply reduces the problems caused by the mix of dictatorship, war, sanctions, occupation, and civil conflict that began in the 1970s and has continued ever since.

Making the Real Case for U.S. Action in Syria: The Issue the President and Administration Must Still Address

SEP 9, 2013

The President’s speech on Tuesday will be a key factor in shaping U.S. willingness to strike Syria, and perceptions of U.S. strength throughout the world. It will come at a point where the Administration has so far focused all too vaguely on chemical weapons but has not laid out any coherent strategy for dealing with follow-on attacks or with the Syrian civil war.

Moreover, the Administration has not made a particularly good unclassified case regarding Assad’s use of chemical weapons – although it may well have made such a case at the classified level. It has not said what it would do if Assad did make further use of chemical weapons or shifted to broaden his use of artillery strikes on civilians. It has made a weak case in terms of international law – but more through carelessness than because of legal constraints. It has given conflicting pictures of the extent to which it is or is not broadening the target list for the strike to aid the rebels, but said nothing meaningful about its follow-on strategy for dealing with the post-strike situation in Syria.

And here, Americans need to remember that the President speaks to a deeply divided and doubting world, not simply to the United States. Even the populations of our closest allies doubt our credibility and/or competence. The Middle East is filled with hostile conspiracy theories, the developing world in general is uncertain, and both friends and rivals question American willingness to act at the same time that they question whether we are again overreacting without adequate plans and evidence.

Politics are politics. The President’s ability to deal with war fatigue, partisanship -- and the combination of opposition from the Republicans and the Democrats may well prove to be far more important in practice than demonstrating the merits of a U.S. strike. At the same time, the President’s coming speech – and the all-important need for factual, detailed, follow up –raises substantive issues that the Administration must also address in ways that provide convincing detail, rather than an emphasis on rhetoric and pushing emotional buttons.

What is the full case against Syria and what is the future U.S. policy in dealing with chemical weapons and the Responsibility to Protect civilians against any form of mass attacks? Focusing on the emotive impact of videos is not enough, nor is strident political rhetoric. The President needs to touch on the full range of evidence, and ideally to provide the credibility that the previous background papers have not.

How David Cameron Saved the Special Relationship

Syria Is a New Start, Not the End

David Cameron and Barack Obama at a G-20 summit in Great Britain. (Courtesy Reuters)

Accusations of political fecklessness are nothing new for British Prime Minister David Cameron. But since failing to receive parliament’s backing for an intervention in Syria, Cameron has also had to face an accusation of more historic import -- that he has fatally undermined the United Kingdom’s relationship with its closest ally, the United States. The Times of London called the vote “a disaster for Cameron, a disaster for Britain and a disaster for the Western alliance.” Lord Ashdown, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, told the BBC that the defeat had “smashed our relationship with the Americans.”

In truth, it did nothing of the kind. Last week’s parliamentary vote is best understood as a corrective to the distortions of the U.S.-British relationship during the years that Tony Blair was prime minister. The vote didn’t mark the death of the “special relationship” -- it marked, however inadvertently, its restoration. 

At least from the British perspective, the special relationship has traditionally been a matter of pragmatism as well as principle. That pattern generated a mix of co-operation and confrontation, as practiced by all postwar British prime minsters before Blair adopted the slavish approach. All of them offered support for American foreign policy when they believed it to be in Britain’s interests. But they also all had moments of putting Britain’s interests as they saw them first. 

Winston Churchill, whose wartime alliance with Roosevelt initiated the modern special relationship, was nobody’s poodle: he understood British dependence on the United States, but it never prevented him doing his own thing. Harold Macmillan, despite his warm personal relationship with President Kennedy, pushed Britain in the direction of Europe and of détente. Harold Wilson refused to commit British troops to the war in Vietnam, seriously antagonizing President Johnson while satisfying a skeptical British public. Edward Heath regularly infuriated President Nixon with his affinity for Europe; the two sides fell out altogether over the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, when Heath felt bullied and alienated by American support for Israel.

The pragmatists also included Margaret Thatcher, who mixed broad support for U.S. foreign policy in the 1980s with frequent sharp criticisms and an occasional refusal to play along. Sometimes she even sided with the Germans when she thought Reagan’s anti-communism was insufficiently sensitive to the political needs of America’s European allies. She rightly surmised that British influence with the United States and within Europe depended on intermittent rebuffs.