27 November 2013

5 Years After Mumbai Terrorist Attack, Indian Intelligence Agencies Plagued by Personnel Shortages

November 26, 2013
Five years after 26/11, Intelligence services still crippled by staff shortage
Praveen Swami
The Hindu

Five years after 26/11, India’s intelligence services are functioning with staffing deficits of up to 40 per cent, highly placed government sources told The Hindu. The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), officials said, faces endemic shortages of personnel both with specialist language and area skills, and technology experts critical to modern espionage. The Intelligence Bureau (IB), in turn, has been unable to expand its counter-terrorism efforts, despite mounting threats.

“It is very sad we haven’t sorted out these problems in all these years,” says V. Balachandran, a former RAW officer who headed an official investigation into intelligence and police failures leading up to 26/11. “I fear we will pay for it dearly.”

Endemic shortages

Figures show staff deficits are endemic across the intelligence services. In March, Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh told Parliament that the IB had 18,795 personnel on its rolls, against a sanctioned strength of 26,867 — in other words, a shortfall of over 30 per cent. However, a senior Home Ministry official told The Hindu those deficits have still not been filled.

In 2009, the then Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram authorised the hiring of 6,000 personnel. However, the IB’s existing training facilities can process just 600 to 700 staff in a year, which barely covers attrition from retirements and resignations. The Bureau is expanding its training facilities, but experts say it will take time to staff the new institutions with instructors.

The RAW, estimated to have some 5,000 personnel, faces a similar shortage. The organisation is short of some 130 management-level staff, the sources said, particularly cutting-edge under-secretaries and deputy secretaries. Its overall deficits run to 40 per cent.

Key positions in the RAW’s Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh divisions are now being staffed by officers who have never served in those countries — pointing to a deepening lack of area and language skills.

The most critical deficiencies, however, are in critical technology positions — the core of modern espionage. The RAW, the sources said, is now approximately a third short of its sanctioned strength of cryptanalysts, who are charged with breaking enemy codes and ciphers.

The organisation has not had an Additional Secretary-rank officer to head its telecommunications cadre for the past three years, due to conflicts over appointments with the Department of Personnel.

Mr. Balachandran says this is unlikely to change — “Why should skilled technical people come to RAW when there are far better prospects in the private sector?”

Long neglect

Long years of neglect, intelligence officials said, had contributed to the staffing crisis at the RAW and the IB. “The intelligence services,” a senior officer said, “had always relied on young Indian Police Service officers, recruited early in their careers, to serve in middle and senior-management roles. The overall shortfall in the IPS’s strength, though, has meant States are loath to allow their best officers to serve in New Delhi on deputation.”

The RAW’s internal cadre, the Research and Analysis Service (RAS), froze recruitment from the 2004-2005 batch to the 2009-2010 batch, and in other years, cut hiring to a trickle. Last year, bulk recruitment to fill the deficits was agreed on, but a debate about whether needs would be best met through Union Public Service Commission-run examinations or campus recruitment rages on.

Examining India’s Look East Policy 3.0

by ISSSP

International Policy Digest, November 21, 2013
M. Mayilvaganan, Assistant Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies

The changing geopolitical environment in Asia and in particular in the Indian Ocean region brings attention to the role of oceans in shaping a country’s strategic and security policy. The launch of India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, Vikrant, on August 12, and later, a military satellite from French Guiana, on August 30, appears to form an integral part of India’s Asia-Pacific strategy or India’s Look East Policy (LEP) 3.0 Strategy. China views the Indian aircraft carrier and military satellite as a power projection by New Delhi in the region.The improved version of India’s LEP 3.0 strategy appears designed to help New Delhi maneuver into a favorable position in the Asia-Pacific, without being directly involving in any internal conflicts but at the same time meeting challenges that might arise in the region.

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The Joint Secretary - one of the principal negotiators during this visit flagged off the discussions by noting that this was the first time since 1954 that there were bilateral visits by the leaders of both countries within such a short span of time i.e. five months and the historical importance of the visits must be appreciated. The Indian Prime Minister was extremely well received in Beijing with the Chinese leadership escorting him on a walk through the Forbidden City. The protocols and courtesies extended to the Indian delegation were described as "top class". The discussions were described as "frank and tempered" on all issues including the difficult ones. It was also stated that there was a conscious effort to ensure that all the information on the discussions as far as possible were available in the public domain for a better understanding of the issues by diplomats, researchers, media and the layman interested in the evolving nature of the India-China relationship. The Joint Secretary noted that the key challenge is to keep the relationship between India and China stable and predictable inspite of it being a complex one involving international issues, economic issues and regional issues and by this yardstick, the visits were successful in meeting the stated objectives. 

Security issues 

The principal agreement signed between India and China was The Border Defence Co-operation Agreement (B.D.C.A.) - the latest addition to the detailed infrastructure to ensure peace and tranquillity on the India-China border through increased co-operation, interactions and exchanges between the troops on the ground as well as the commanders including those based in Delhi and Beijing. The previous agreements in this security architecture include the ones signed in 1993, 1996 and the Protocol in 2005. It was specifically stated that the B.D.C.A. places no restrictions on troop strength and border infrastructure for both India and China. It was the PLA which had reached out to India on the need for an agreement on border issues and not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in China - a gesture which was appreciated and grabbed with both hands by India. It is also necessary to remember that the B.D.C.A. is not a magic wand which will resolve all border issues but is a significant contribution to ensure that peace and tranquillity is maintained on the border. Officials from the Indian military were a part of the delegation which negotiated the B.D.C.A. Discussions were also held on the necessity of establishing a hotline between the armies on both sides of the border similar to the one that exists between the DGMO’s (Director-General of Military Operations) of India and Pakistan which has been reasonably successful in maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border. Owing to a practical difficulty of the Chinese military not having the position of an official DGMO, such an agreement could not be negotiated conclusively during the P.M.’s visit, but the Indian delegation will definitely work towards establishing this mechanism in the near future. Issues like mountain strike corps and modernization of the Chinese military were discussed candidly at different levels including the top leadership. On the question of tailing of troops by either side, it was held that in some areas where the LAC is not clear, there is an agreement between troops of both sides of not engaging in the act of tailing troops. Censors and helicopters are being used to ensure that if there have been any violations by the troops, it is detected promptly and the troops return to their respective positions. There was also an agreement to mark the 60th anniversary of the Panchsheel agreement in 2014, but a reading of it by some Chinese analysts as Panchsheel 2.0 was categorically denied. On the issue of cross-border smuggling of arms and wildlife, it was stated that there was an agreement between the military establishments of both countries to ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future. With regard to the exchange programs at the military academies of both countries, it was stated that very officials could avail of these programs since the Chinese language posed a barrier for officers of the Indian military and vice-versa.

Get the military a media plan

Northern army commander, Lt Gen Sanjiv Chhachra (Image: courtesy Xinhua)
by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 26th Nov 13

The world’s fourth most powerful military worries that negative media coverage is eroding its image. For decades after 1947, even through the humiliating rout by the Chinese in 1962, India’s press placed the military on a pedestal. Foreign correspondents who rode into Dhaka with the Indian military in 1971 described our jawans fondly, even admiringly. This is no longer so. Now everyone is fair game for a brash, iconoclastic new breed of journalists and news organisations that operate in real time on digital media platforms. This is evident from the on-going feeding frenzy around one of the media’s own --- a newsmagazine editor who faces accusations of rape.

The military community, both serving and retired, finds it hard to deal with this new environment. In forum after forum where I meet the military, officers bitterly criticise what they call an anti-national media and an ungrateful nation. They point to numerous poorly sourced news articles critical of the military to dismiss even legitimate criticism.

Critics of the military reject this prickliness with the jibe that the services are stuck in a time warp and must understand that they too are subject to scrutiny. But that would be short sighted because self-esteem is a crucial driver that induces soldiers, sailors and airmen to function in professional situations where death is a real possibility. If militaries were compensated monetarily for the risks they encounter, employee costs would be unaffordable. The respect that a military is accorded, therefore, should be viewed as cost-free remuneration that drives soldiers to do what they do.

One winter morning in the early 1980s, I was a young lieutenant motorcycling down from Ferozepur to Delhi for a weekend of leave. With my shiny new Yezdi (yes, there was once a mobike called that!) stalled by a tyre puncture, I was admiring the mustard crop in the fields around me when a passing farmer saw my uniform and stopped his tractor. He loaded my Yezdi on his trailer and took me to a tyre repair shop in Moga, the nearest town, waving aside my offer to pay him. The tyre-shop owner peremptorily told his other customers to wait, fetched me a steaming glass of milk, repaired my tyre and had me back on the road in 20 minutes. There was no question of payment --- it was only a puncture, he said. This public regard kept us functioning as soldiers, not the princely Rs 790/- that I was drawing each month.

Yet, the defence services are not beyond criticism, nor can the military justifiably dismiss all criticism as anti-national. So sensitive has the military become that the top brass even allege that the military’s image is being deliberately smeared by inimical journalists acting at the behest of bureaucrats, civil society and politicians.

The truth is that the military knows very little about the world of journalism and has no plan in place to learn more. It has no filters to distinguish one news report from another --- credible from amateurish, one that needs rebuttal from one that should be ignored. Instead of a careful evaluation of reportage, what comes to the fore is an unstoppable urge --- rooted perhaps in military training --- to respond, and respond now. Even as officers respond to a news report with reflexive denials and inadequately crosschecked “facts”, the digitisation of the communications space permits others inside the organisation to pass on contradictory narratives. A senior television journalist who specialises in this tit-for-tat says that 70 per cent of the calls that he receives contradicting army statements come from the rank and file, not from officers.

Nor does the army know when to be silent. In the recent intrusions in Keran, J&K, top generals appeared repeatedly before the media, promising a swift end to the operations. With no end in sight the conspiracy theories began, terming the intrusion “another Kargil”. Why did the army set deadlines when a simple statement could have sufficed --- that the army has the situation under control and would brief the media when operations were concluded?

This readiness to comment on on-going operations is matched by an inexplicable need to cloak administrative matters in secrecy. Instead of letting journalists file “exclusives” and “exposes” on issues like rape by military men, there must be a website where administrative statistics are freely available? The generals seem unwilling to admit that 1.6 million soldiers, sailors and airmen represent a slice of society that will reflect the trends and ailments of the broader society they are drawn from.

Coastal Security: Time for course correction

November 26, 2013

It’s been five years since 10 terrorists from Pakistan landed on the shores of Mumbai on the night of November 26, 2008 and carried out multiple attacks in the city exposing serious shortcomings in the country’s coastal security apparatus. So shocked were the mandarins in New Delhi that a day after the carnage ended, they hurriedly decided that the Indian coast guard should be responsible for guarding the entire coastline of the country. However, two months later they revised the decision and on February 9th, 2009, they roped in the Indian navy and entrusted it with the responsibility for the overall maritime security including coastal security. The Indian coast guard was given the additional responsibility of guarding the territorial waters right till the shoreline. A decision was also taken to augment the strength and presence of marine police along the coast. Thus a three tier security arrangement for coastal security was formally put in place with the Indian navy guarding the outer tier, the Indian coast guard patrolling the intermediate layer and the marine police patrolling the shallow and inland waters.

This arrangement looks perfect on paper, but it has not translated itself satisfactorily on the ground and therefore the coastal security mechanism remains weak. One of the reasons for the failure is that the three-tier structure has made it difficult to hold any organisation solely responsible in case any untoward incident takes place as every organisation has arguments in its defence. For instance, the Indian navy argues that while it has been entrusted with the overall responsibility for coastal security, it does not have the power to task all the concerned organisations or command their resources for everyday coastal security duties and therefore should not be held responsible. Similarly, the Indian coast guard argues that it has been given the responsibility only for coordinating with the concerned central and state agencies for coastal security but not made in charge of coastal security. The marine police’s argument is that since the Indian navy and the Indian coast guard are guarding the outer and intermediate waters, it is their responsibility to prevent any intrusions into the coastal waters from outside and therefore should not be held accountable in case of any incident.

Furthermore, the involvement of a number of organisations in coastal security duties has proven to be counterproductive. Presently, in addition to the roles of the three organisations highlighted above, others such as the Customs Department (marine-preventive) and the Central Industrial Security Force (marine wing) have also been made part of the coastal security architecture. Since these tasks require the conduct of sea patrols in their respective areas of jurisdiction, these organisations have started procuring marine assets such as interceptor boats. The problem with such a step is while the Indian navy and the Indian coast guard possess the technical knowledge and manpower as well as infrastructure to handle these boats, the marine police, CISF and Customs department have barely any. As a result these expensive assets are either not being used for want of technical manpower or sent away for repairs because of mishandling. Thus, national resources are getting frittered away on assets which are not giving any substantive returns.

The involvement of several organisations in coastal security has also led to coordination problems among them. The tendency of each of the concerned organisations to zealously guard its own turf, reluctance to work under or along with other organisations citing differing organisational culture and goals, and propensity to hold on to intelligence, have all prevented the coastal security arrangement from working effectively. Even though a number of measures such as the formulation of standard operating procedures, conduct of joint coastal security exercises, establishment of joint operation centres and setting up of coordination committees have been undertaken, these have not proven adequate for overcoming the strong forces of dissonance among these organisations.

India’s Strategic Articulation: Shift in Thinking **

November 26, 2013

Significantly, for the first time, India has very firmly articulated its concerns over geopolitical flash points in Asia when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the Combined Commanders’ Conference on 22 November. While underling the impending strategic threat scenarios affecting India, PM significantly hasn’t mentioned China but emphasized on the global surveillance operation by the US National Security Agency as a factor for Indian planners to consider. PM also made it clear that the increasing contestation in the Asia-Pacific - the US ‘pivot’ strategy is a ‘development fraught with uncertainty.’

For over two decades, China threat loomed large in India; analysts debated over impending competition. China was seen as inexorably exploiting India’s vulnerabilities in South Asia to ensure it is surrounded by inimical neighbours. The idea of China’s ‘String of Pearls’ strategy - building roads, railways and ports – was seen as encircling India. China’s deepening economic influence in South Asia, its maritime ambitions in the Indian Ocean remained points of concerns. China frequent display of aggressiveness along borders and India’s possible counter moves to block the Malacca Straits worsen the mistrust.

All these came against the backdrop of China’s rapid ascendancy and amidst changing international environment in China's favour. When India’s rise too became a reality, other global powers tried to pitch India against China as a regional countervailing force. Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries, fearing China’s regional dominance, encouraged India’s participation in the East Asian affairs. Various strategic constellations were sought including a coalesced ‘US-Japan-Australia-India’ alliance to encircle China. China also made no secret of its displeasure over the changes. As Indo-US strategic ties ascended, analysts rejoiced over the US ‘pivot Asia’ announcement and its intended aim to make India a linchpin in the Asia-Pacific theatre. Thus far an illusionary ‘Indo-Pacific’ idea currently in the offing – is being viewed with excitement.

Surprisingly, India’s strategic perception seemed to have altered dramatically in the recent years. Interestingly, the new pronouncement comes within a month after PM returned from his China visit. It also comes at a time the US is preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan. Significantly, it also comes when a decade-long hyped prospect of the Indo-US relations and the impression of America propping up India’ rise to counter China is getting feeble. It also comes when America is facing economic downward spiral and risk for decline in power. To be sure, it is correctly noticing that the role of the US on the global stage is narrowing down.

It may also be a sign that India’s Strategic and Cooperative Partnership with China, in fact, is producing some substantive and enduring results. Not conveyed clearly, there are clear signs of India having achieved a level of confidence with the new leadership in Beijing. Though, Prime Minister has been making the point in the past that there is no inevitable conflict of interests between India and China.

China, Israel and India: Flexible Coalitions

India and China find that pragmatic flexibility trumps ideology in trade policies. Case in point: Israel.

By K.M. Seethi
November 24, 2013 

Business and strategic circles in New Delhi are abuzz with talk that Tel Aviv is moving closer to Beijing, with potential strategic implications for the security architecture of South Asia. Concerns have been triggered by both booming Sino-Israeli trade and ongoing military transactions. The shift raises questions about the possible repercussions for India’s own relations with China and Israel.

Admittedly, Sino-Israeli relations have been growing for the last three decades, particularly following the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two counties in 1992. During the Cold War, however, relations were bumpy, given the strategic considerations that drove Beijing’s policy agenda in the Middle East and South Asia. The situation began to change rapidly after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, when China began to look for ways to support the Pakistan-U.S.-Saudi-Israeli strategy. That provided a first opening for Beijing to quietly develop ties in strategic areas, including military transactions. Interestingly, these strategic transactions continued for a decade before Beijing established formal diplomatic ties. Moreover – and to Washington’s surprise – there has been very little change in the Sino-Israeli military relationship.

Clearly, since 1992, the Sino-Israeli relationship has become increasingly robust and mature. Over the years, bilateral trade has expanded in vital areas. In 2009, China was Israel’s 11th-largest foreign market; by 2012, it was second only to the United States. The last two decades have seen high-level exchanges, helping to strengthen political trust. China is currently Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and the third-largest worldwide. Projections have Israel’s annual trade with China rising from a two-way volume of $8 billion in 2012 to $10 billion over the next half-decade. This could include stronger cooperation in high-tech sectors, joint construction of industrial parks and technology transfer centers, and a boost in agricultural cooperation. This is in addition to strengthening China’s soft power potential by facilitating cultural exchanges such as the celebration of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Israel and “Experience China in Israel.” Confucius Institutes have been set up within Tel Aviv University and The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, offering Israelis a platform to learn about Chinese culture.

The path of India-Israel relations has not been dissimilar. Initially, India-Israel ties were rocky, not helped by the Cold War. India was perhaps the first postcolonial country to have opposed the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel in 1948. New Delhi refused to establish diplomatic relations until 1992, when the political situation in West Asia transformed following the shift in stance of the Palestine Liberation Organization that eventually led to the Oslo Accord. The change of global political climate after the breakup of the Soviet Union, which forced New Delhi to “Look West,” helped strengthen ties with Tel Aviv. The liberalization drive in India reinforced relations in vital areas. India’s emerging ties with the U.S. helped.

India, Pakistan and Tactical Nuclear Weapons

India-Pakistan: The Taliban Declares War On Everyone

November 21, 2013: In Pakistan an Islamic political party (JI or Jamaat I Islami, with 4 of 342 seats in parliament) is demanding that the government order the army to stop criticizing JI for demanding that the army stop calling soldiers killed fighting Islamic terrorists “martyrs” and stop criticizing JI for insisting on calling the recently killed (by an American missile) head of the Taliban a martyr. Technically, the army is not supposed to get into public disputes with members of parliament, unless the army is taking over the government, which it has done regularly since Pakistan was founded. 

In the Pakistani tribal territories (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) an American missile attack on a religious school run by the Haqqani Network killed six Islamic terrorists. This was a rare attack outside of Waziristan but was apparently triggered by recent Pakistani Taliban threats to make attacks against American and Pakistani government targets. This would be in revenge for the November 1st attack that killed the Haqqani Network leader. This was followed on November 10th, by the assassination (by gunfire) of a senior Haqqani Network official in Islamabad. This killing alarmed some politicians who thought the Haqqani Network was an Islamic terrorist organization that was only tolerated if it confined its operations to North Waziristan and Afghanistan (where it attacked foreign troops and the Afghan government). A year ago the UN added the Haqqani Network to its list of international terrorists. All UN members are supposed to go after international terrorists and Pakistan complied, on paper, by insisting that it was seeking to shut down the Haqqani Network. But that is not what was happening, as the Haqqani Network is still safe in North Waziristan. This may no longer be the case outside Waziristan, and especially outside the tribal territories.

Mullah Maulana Fazlullah became the new head of the Pakistani Taliban on November 2nd. His predecessor, Hakimullah Mehsud, was widely considered a butcher, especially compared to earlier Taliban leaders. In the four years that Hakimullah Mehsud ran the Taliban he increased the use of assassinations against journalists and politicians who were most critical of the Taliban. Mehsud also increased attacks against civilians, including targeting women (as in the attacks against the female volunteers providing polio vaccinations for children). In short, Mehsud was much feared and the public grief was to show support for the new leader of the Taliban and indicate to Taliban assassins who their friends were (who did not deserve to be killed in the revenge attacks). The new leader has a similar reputation as Mehsud, is a highly effective preacher (especially on illegal radio stations), and managed to rule the Swat Valley for several months as an "Islamic state." This was a disaster for the people of Swat, who welcomed the army when it returned in 2007 and again in 2009. Mullah Fazlullah violated a peace deal he had agreed to and fled to Afghanistan in 2009, and has been on the run ever since, with a $5,000 reward (from Pakistan) for his capture or death. Mullah Fazlullah moves back and forth across the border and believes in terrorizing civilians and has no problem with killing women and children and now he threatens to go after Pakistani politicians and military leaders. For that reaso,n today’s UAV missile attack may generate fewer complaints from Pakistani politicians.

Meanwhile, some Pakistani politicians are still trying to get peace talks with the Taliban started. This is proving difficult, especially with the recent killing of the Taliban leader. In the last decade the Taliban has broken several peace agreements with the government and many senior Pakistani government and military officials see any further negotiation attempts as futile. There are many Islamic conservative political parties (who amount to a sizable minority) that believe a peace deal is possible (and some want a religious dictatorship for Pakistan) and this keeps negotiation efforts going.

The UPA seems determined to ignore vital defence reforms

Manoj Joshi
26 November 2013

In July 2011, the government of India set up a task force to examine the processes and procedures related to national security in India and come up with recommendations to fix the problems and plug any gaps that emerged. 

Chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra, the task force's aim was to deepen the reforms in the national security system begun by the group of ministers (GOM) in 2001. 

In May 2012, the committee submitted its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who turned it over to the National Security Council Secretariat for processing its recommendations and presenting them to the Cabinet Committee on Security. 

This writer was a member of the task force, but has had little or no official information on its status since then. But the bureaucratic grapevine suggests that the report may soon meet the fate of other similar endeavours: getting shelved. 

Power 

The reason for this is plain: The ministry of defence thinks there is no need for change, leave alone, horror of horrors, an overhaul. 

At first sight this may appear to be counter-intuitive; after all the sorry state of our defence modernisation is an open secret. 

Last year, the serving Chief of Army Staff wrote a letter to the Prime Minister pointing to shortages of vital equipment. The Air Force chief regularly bemoans the declining numbers of his combat force and the delays in the Navy's submarine and shipbuilding programmes are no secret. 

The goal of the civilian part of the ministry appears to be singularly focused on how to retain its power and privileges. 

For this reason, the only public information of the Chandra Committee recommendations came through a leak of a portion of the report by the MoD itself. 

Their grouse, according to the media leaks, was apparent - they did not want changes in the way the system is run. 

Inefficient, incompetent, and wasteful, yes, but the command ought to rest firmly in the inexpert hands of the IAS fraternity. 

The Chandra Committee, on the other hand, was suggesting reforms - first of the manner in which the armed forces were run, and secondly, of how the ministry itself was functioning. 

In the case of the armed forces, following the GOM report of 2001, the committee suggested a chief of defence staff (CDS)-like figure, a permanent chairman to the chiefs of staff committee, to promote integrated planning and organisations in the armed forces, as well as an expert defence bureaucracy to staff the MoD by cross-posting military officers to key bureaucratic positions. 

Assam & Meghalaya: Threats of Violence in Garo Heartland

Rani P Das
Senior Research Associate, Centre for Development and Peace Studies (CDPS), Guwahati

Armed conflict in western Assam’s Goalpara district and the adjoining Garo Hills in Meghalaya is assuming new dimensions with dangerous ramifications. Rag-tag rebel groups with their continued subversive activities have taken the people of the area to ransom. The otherwise peaceful area where the Garos and Rabhas have been living side by side for centuries is now turning into a killing field, giving security forces a tough time, especially considering that the stretch in Garo Hills has open borders with Bangladesh. 

Mayhem caused by little known rebel groups like United Achik Liberation Army (UALA) in Goalpara and adjoining Garo Hills matches the havoc created by the Black Widow or the Jewel Garlossa faction of the Dima Halam Daogah (DHD-J) militants in the NC Hills district of Assam before they called a ceasefire and subsequently signed a peace accord with the Government in October 2012. UALA is a breakaway group of the ANVC-B (Achik National Volunteer Council-Breakaway), formed in February 2013 and is led by Singbirth N Marak alias Norok. It is a small outfit with a cadre strength of about 30 and was conceptualised after the Garo-Rabha conflict in December 2010-January 2011. 

On 3 November 2013, UALA rebels triggered a brutal attack on innocent Rabha people at the remote Gendamari village under Agia Police Station in Assam’s Goalpara district, killing seven and injuring six seriously. Suspected Rabha National Liberation Front (RNLF) militants retaliated by firing and lobbing bombs in a Garo village and by kidnapping one person. The possibility of another massive ethnic clash between the Garos and the Rabhas could be a bitter reality.

The mushrooming of militant groups in Garo Hills becomes a cause of worry. While the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and its splinter group, ANVC-B, are officially under ceasefire with the government, the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), the United Achik Liberation Army (UALA) and the Achik National Liberation Army (ANLA was formed in October 2013), are active in the interior areas of Garo Hills and in adjoining areas of Assam and West Khasi Hills. Again, there is the GNLA-F led by former GNLA militants Reading T Sangma, Jack Baichung and Savio R Marak. Meanwhile, ANVC suffered a further split in mid-November 2013 when seven members deserted the designated camp where they have been living since the truce and formed a new outfit, adding to the murky scene.

The idea of a Greater Garoland state consisting of the present Garo Hills in Meghalaya and a part of the Kamrup and the Goalpara districts in adjoining Assam, which came to forefront with the formation of ANVC in December 1995, and the demand for sharing administrative power by the Rabhas residing in the Garo Autonomous District Council area could well be the main factors for the sustained unrest, but most often, ambitious militants are seen taking advantage of the public causes. An area of rampant extortion, here traders prefer to buy peace instead of informing the police due to dearth of security.

The genesis behind the Garo-Rabha conflict, however, revolves around the issue of providing Scheduled Tribe status claimed by the Rabhas living in the Autonomous District of East Garo Hills area. Their counterparts living in Goalpara in Assam enjoy Scheduled Caste status. When the Garos were opposed to the claims made by the Rabhas, the latter started declaring bandhs to press their demand. Regarding the bandhs as an economic blockade, the Garos started to retaliate. The immediate cause of the conflict between the two tribes, however, was a bandh call by the Rabhas during Christmas in December 2010 and some Rabha groups beating up a pastor that led to violent clash among the Rabhas and Garos. Scores were killed and thousands displaced in the Assam-Meghalaya border areas.

The Goalpara district covers an area of 1,824 sq km and its southern part is bordered by the West and East Garo Hill districts of Meghalaya - a state that shares a 443 km international border with Bangladesh. The strategic location of the district, combined with the illegal arms trafficking through it, makes it extremely vulnerable to diverse troubles, including ethnic conflict. According to Home Department records of Assam, Goalpara topped the chart in the category of ‘arms recovered from extremists’ in the state in 2012. 

Artillery: No Foreign Love For BrahMos

November 26, 2013

On November 18th the Indian Army successfully tested a new version (Block III) of its BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. This version has a penetrating warhead and a more accurate guidance system for hitting bunkers and other well protected targets. BrahMos has a range of 290 kilometers and is a joint India-Russia upgrade of the older Yakhont missile. In 2009 the BrahMos Block II cruise missile failed its first operational test as a ground launched weapon. The cause was a defective guidance system, which was fixed and development of the ground based version continued. So also did work on versions for the navy and air force.

The PJ-10 BrahMos missile is a 9.4 meter (29 foot) long and 670mm diameter missile. Lacking money to finish Yakhont development and begin production, the Russian manufacturer eventually made a deal with India to get it done. India put up most of the $240 million needed to finally complete two decades of development, an effort which produced the long delayed Yakhont and the more capable BrahMos.

The PJ-10 is being built in Russia and India, with the Russians assisting India in setting up manufacturing facilities for cruise missile components. Efforts are being made to export up to 2,000, but no one has placed an order yet. Russia and India are encouraged enough to invest in BrahMos 2, which will use a scramjet, instead of a ramjet, in the second stage. This would double the speed and make the missile much more difficult to defend against.

The 3.2 ton BrahMos has a range of up to 300 kilometers and a 300 kg (660 pound) warhead. Perhaps the most striking characteristic is its high speed, literally faster (at up to a kilometer per second) than a rifle bullet. The maximum speed of 3,000 kilometers an hour makes it harder to intercept and means it takes five minutes or less to reach its target. The air launched version weighs 2.5 tons while the others are three tons or more. The BrahMos can carry a nuclear warhead but is designed mainly to go after high value targets that require great accuracy and a large conventional warhead. The BrahMos could take out enemy headquarters or key weapons systems (especially those employing electronic or nuclear weapons). The high price of each missile, about $2.3 million, restricts the number of countries that can afford it. Russia has not yet ordered any BrahMos, although there are plans to obtain it for new surface ships.

The weapon entered service with the Indian navy in 2005 and the army in 2010. The Indian army and navy have so far bought over a thousand BrahMos. The navy is arming most of its large warships with BrahMos and the army is buying 80 launchers in the next eight years. A similar lightweight version is being developed for submarines. In 2012 India ordered 200 of the lighter (2.5 tons) air-launched version of the BrahMos missile from Russia. This version is still being tested.

Expert Committee Report on Patna Blasts


Report of an Expert Committee on blasts in a political rally in Patna on October 27, 2013 and Recommendations for strengthening security measures

Karzai's Refusal to Sign Frustrates Afghans

November 26, 2013 

Hamid Karzai’s decision to contradict the Loya Jirga inspires frustration and fear before the 2014 elections.

Abdul Aminzai came all the way from Kandahar to participate in the ongoing India International Trade Fair in New Delhi, but his mind is on the debates taking place in the consultative Loya Jirga, an assembly of tribal elders, in Kabul. The assembly was convened to discuss the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the United States. The carpet seller appeared baffled on Sunday evening when he discovered that President Karzai decided to delay the signing of the BSA — something he referred to as an “important agreement” and “crucial to peace and security” in Afghanistan.

“The security agreement with the United States is important for peace and security in Afghanistan after 2014. Without the presence of international troops, it will be difficult to stabilize the country. The Afghan army is still not strong enough to take on the Taliban, which has the backing of our neighboring country [Pakistan],” says 34-year-old Aminzai, who is looking forward to expanding his business in India. He fears that “any kind of uncertainty in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO troops would ruin whatever business gains [he has] made in the last ten years.”

Ahmad Zia, a dry fruit seller from Kabul also expresses similar sentiments.

“I don’t understand why Karzai is not willing to listen to the overwhelming sentiment of the Loya Jirga for an immediate signing of the security agreement. If the President is keen for peace then he should not play games,” opines the Kabul-based entrepreneur.

The grand council of more than 2500 Afghan elders gathered from across the country in Kabul, endorsed the BSA, and as various reports suggest, favored signing the deal immediately. The main purpose of convening the council, which has more than a hundred years of tradition of engaging with rulers on important national issues, discuss the security agreement in a democratic forum.

The BBC writes that if the deal becomes a reality it will allow the presence of at least 15000 foreign troops at nine bases across Afghanistan after 2014, even after the departure of other foreign combat troops. Besides engaging in counter-terror operations, these soldiers would be involved in training and mentoring the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF).

However, Karzai, despite recognizing and supporting the BSA, is not willing to ink the deal before the 2014 elections due in April next year thereby antagonizing the United States and contradicting the decision of the specially-convened Jirga.

Speaking to delegates in Kabul on the concluding day of the Grand Assembly, the president argued that “If [he signs] and there is no security, then who is going to be blamed for it? Afghanistan has always won the war but lost in politics.”

Deciphering Karzai’s contention, Kabul-based political analyst Habib Khan Totakhil told The Diplomat that “Karzai wants to ensure that the United States is doing enough to bring about peace and pressurize Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban. Secondly, he wants to show people that he does not have any selfish interest in the BSA but that this is a national need. Thirdly, he is apprehensive that if he signs the pact and something goes wrong after the elections, he would be held responsible. However, the president also understands that he has to sign the agreement in the end otherwise he would put at risk all the progress that Afghanistan has made in the last one decade.”

Pakistan unveils its own military drones, as protests continue against U.S. attacks

Tim Craig and Haq Nawaz Khan
Washington Post
November 25, 2013

KABUL — Pakistan’s military unveiled two domestically produced drones Monday, even as the country is facing growing protests over U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil.

After years of preparation, the Strategically Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were formally announced by Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, chief of Pakistan’s military. The drones, called Burraq and Shahpar, will not be armed and are to be used only for surveillance, military officials said.

The development of the drones, thought to have a range of about 75 miles, represents a milestone for the country’s military and scientists, Pakistani and Western analysts said.

“It is a landmark and a historic event, wherein a very effective force multiplier has been added to the inventory of the armed forces,” the Pakistani military said in a statement.

For years, Pakistan’s military has seen up-close the effectiveness of the U.S. drone campaign, which has included hundreds of strikes within the country’s borders. When the United States began using armed drones after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf asked President George W. Bush to supply drone technology to his country.

The United States declined, setting in motion Pakistan’s homegrown effort to develop the technology.

Pakistan’s military first revealed its drone technology at a trade show last year, but Monday’s formal unveiling coincides with an ongoing farewell tour by Kayani, who is retiring after two terms as army chief.

Brig. Muhammad Saad, a former senior officer in the Pakistani military familiar with the subject, said the country already had less-sophisticated drones for intelligence gathering, with a range of about six miles. The newer models, he said, will prove useful for the “collecting of more operational intelligence” that could help guide helicopter gunships and fighter jets to specific targets.

“This is a great achievement, and the drones can be used instead of surveillance jets and fighter jets that would be costlier” to fly, Saad said.

Saad and other observers said Pakistan is still years away from being able to develop armed drones. Still, Monday’s announcement is likely to unnerve Pakistan’s neighbors, including India and Afghanistan.

Peter W. Singer, a security analyst at the Brookings Institution, said most surveillance drones can be armed, though they will lack the precision of U.S.-developed models.

“Almost any unmanned system can be armed in a crude style, such as dropping a bomb or even turning it into an equivalent of a cruise missile that you fly into the target,” said Singer, adding that the announcement will probably add to growing fears about proliferation of drone technology.

The Pakistani military’s announcement comes as the country is facing growing discontent in some parts over recent U.S. drone strikes, including an attack this month that killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

Protests continued Monday in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the aftermath of the strike, as well as one last week that killed several commanders affiliated with the Haqqani militant network.

Bangladesh: Turmoil may see return of Terrorism

Paper No. 5608 Dated 25-Nov-2013
By Bhaskar Roy

It is about time that the United States Congress realized that the current political turmoil in Bangladesh may see a return of terrorism to Bangladesh.

Eradication of terrorism from the country was one of the top priorities of Sheikh Hasina when she took over prime ministership in 2009. She delivered on her promise. Bangladesh was fast becoming a new center of terrorism under the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) government. The Al Qaida was testing the grounds. The return of the Awami League led 14 party alliance government thwarted externally promoted and JEI spearheaded conspiracy to turn Bangladesh into a Wahabi Islamic country.

The Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs organized (November 20) a 90 minute hearing titled “Bangladesh in Turmoil : A Nation on the Brink”. An apt title for the subject, given the open threats the country is facing from its own constituents.

Representative Steve Chabot who chaired the meeting highly appreciated Bangladesh’s development but was dismayed by the positions taken by the political parties threatening the upcoming general elections. Chabot had just returned from a visit to Bangladesh where he met the top political leaders including Prime Minister Sk. Hasina and opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia.

Ed Royce, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee told the hearing that the Bangladesh government was not doing enough to protect the minorities. He raised a pertinent question : whether madrassa education was instigating fundamentalism in Bangladesh like in Pakistan. He noted the deep crisis that fundamentalism has created in Pakistan as the authorities failed to nip it in the bud.

Maj. Gen. (Retd) ANM Muniruzzaman, President of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) felt that Sk. Hasina’s refusal to bring back the “caretaker government” (CG) system could delay the elections and ultimately draw the army in. The constitution has been amended to make coup a treason, and the three current services chiefs have sworn not to interfere in politics. Bangladesh is no stranger to military coups and martial law, but one of the reasons a coup was avoided in 2007-08 was the UN Secretary General’s warning that a coup would render Bangladesh military personnel ineligible for lucrative UN peace keeping jobs. 

A recent editorial, in the influential New York Times (NYT) held Prime Minister Sk. Hasina responsible for all the woes of Bangladesh. It said that top political opposition leaders and human rights activists have been arrested; courts have delivered guilty verdicts and death sentences that flout the most basic standards of due process; the banning of the JEI, an ally of the BNP, from participating in the electoral process was only forcing frustrated supporters into the streets.

An influential weekly, the Economist, has been reporting biased stories against the Awami League which included swipes at India, for almost three years. A couple of its earlier articles appeared almost dictated by the opposition leaders.

It is known that the western countries especially the US, exercise significant influence over Bangladesh. They are the main donors and control aid agencies and international financial institutions. On one platform, they all demand free and fair elections which is what everyone wants. This is how it should be. 

The UN resolution on Rohingyas in Myanmar

Paper No. 5610 Dated 25-Nov-2013
Guest Column by Dr. Tint Swe

The UN resolutions passed earlier on human rights situation in Burma/Myanmar have been applauded by the oppressed people of the country since 1992. In fact this has been an encouragement for the people, while the then successive governments of Burma/Myanmar continuously rejected them. Even today, the Burmese authorities reject any resolutions passed by the UN.

But this year’s resolution passed by the UN for granting citizenship to Rohingyas is seen differently by the majority of the people and the Government as well.

Even the political parties have expressed their disappointment through the Burmese language radio stations in the country. It is the topic of condemnation in the social media as well. However, it is not a debate but a criticism.

While the previous resolutions on Burma adopted by the UN were meant for 60 million citizens of the country, this year’s resolution focused only on a small section of the population called Rohingyas whose national identity is shrouded in controversy. It is of serious concern that when the people of Burma are disappointed, an organization based outside the country in support of Rohingyas welcomed the UN resolution.

Any resolution at the United Nations has to be supported by a group of member nations. In earlier occasions at the UN general assembly, no countries under authoritarian or dictatorship, or specifically Islamic nations ever supported a resolution on human rights situation in Burma.

From 1988 to 2012, only two special envoys visited Burma to inspect human rights and the political situation. Now it is an important point to note that the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) visited Burma/Myanmar to look into the plight of the people following the same religion. These Muslim nations never showed up and condemned the human rights situation of 60 million Burmese people before.

This move has threatened the sovereignty of Burma. Questions and doubts loomed over the people on whether this act of ‘good Samaritan’ from the outside world will influence the country’s Citizenship law.

There is a reason for the people’s apprehension of the sudden interest in Burma by these countries. None of these countries came in to offer help and support during the devastating Nargis Cyclone which hit lower Burma on 2-5-2008, in which 138,000 people died, out of which about 6,900 were Muslims. But these countries poured in millions of dollars for relief and rehabilitation in the aftermath of the communal violence in northern Arakan state in mid 2012.

The Begum's Next Door


India’s relations with Bangladesh are multifaceted - cultural, civilisational, social and economic. Apart from that, there is a shared history, common heritage, linguistic ties, and passion for music, literature and arts. However, Indo-Bangladesh relations fluctuate with change of government in that country, getting warmer when the Awami League led by Begum Sheikh Hasina is in power and more strained when Bangladesh National Party (BNP) leads the country.

The BNP banks upon a traditional conservative vote base, supported by Islamic organisations like the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. The Jamaat has history of standing against the independence of Bangladesh, opposing the break-up of Pakistan and is vitriolic in its anti-India rhetoric. Begum Zia was Prime Minister (PM) of Bangladesh during the periods 1991-1996 and 2001-2006. During her tenure, Bangladesh hardened its stance towards India and gave support to north-eastern insurgent groups and terrorist organisations such as the Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI-B). United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) military Chief Paresh Baruah was hiding safely in Dhaka at that time. In November 2002, then Deputy Prime Minister of India L. K. Advani stated, "After the change of government in Bangladesh, there has been an increase in the activities of the al-Qaeda and ISI there." Indian government claimed that there were some 99 training camps located in Bangladesh where anti-Indian miscreants and insurgents got trained to operate against India. In 2005, the Khaleda government also called off talks on a pipeline planned to run from India’s Northeast to Mynamar’s gas fields through Bangladesh, leaving India struggling over energy security options to feed its fast-growing economy. On economic front, due to huge trade deficit, Indo-Bangladesh relations were uneasy.The attitude of Awami League government has however been positive towards India. Begum Sheikh Hasina was PM during 1996-2001 and from 2009 until date. In December 1996, India signed Ganga water sharing agreement with Bangladesh for 30 years. Awami League government signed a peace treaty with the leaders of ethnic communities of Chittagong Hills Tract in December 1997. In bilateral border conference held in New Delhi in May 1998, the two states agreed to expedite the process of border demarcation. The Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) was awarded contracts in June 1998 for drilling gas wells and developing six other wells in three gas fields in Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh also tried to enhance people to people contact by starting Calcutta-Dhaka bus service. Sheikh Hasina has also largely delivered on Indian security concerns by cracking down on terrorism directed against India from Bangladeshi soil. Also, the current government is doing its utmost to keep Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh under control, represented by the likes of the recently banned political outfit Jamaat-e-Islami, Hefajat-e-Islam, Jagrata Muslim Janata, and HUJI-B whose links to al Qaeda are well known. Bangladesh took a significant step towards improving bilateral relations with India when it arrested several leaders of the ULFA and handed them over to India. ULFA leader Paresh Baruah has had to exit the safe confines of Bangladesh and now lives a relatively hard life along the China-Myanmar border. Detained ULFA General Secretary Anup Chetia, too, could soon be handed over to India by Dhaka.

The Importance of Bangladesh

Good Indo-Bangladesh relations is beneficial to both countries. To India, it provides the possibility of transit rights to its northeast, bringing development to a struggling region, and could revive the moribund South Asia Growth Quadrangle (SAGQ) comprising India’s north east, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. In addition, improved relations between the two countries leads to better border management, reducing in turn concerns of illegal migration into India and also curbing border smuggling activities. A quiet and peaceful Bangladesh border is an imperative in the current context when both our borders with China and with Pakistan remain disturbed.

India-Vietnam Defence Cooperation: Slow but Steady Progress

India-Vietnam Defence Cooperation: Slow but Steady Progress

This Issue Brief traces the gradual strengthening of defence and security cooperation between India and Vietnam. Recent high-level exchanges and military cooperation have added depth to the historical relations between Delhi and Hanoi.

China Ups the Ante in East China Sea Dispute

November 25, 2013

China announces new Air Defense Identification Zone across the East China Sea November 23, 2013 (Courtesy China's Ministry of National Defense).

Over the weekend, China announced a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) across the East China Sea. Already at odds over their maritime boundary in the East China Sea, as well as over their sovereignty dispute over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands for the Chinese) that sit offshore Okinawa, Beijing’s unilateral assertion of its control over the airspace above the sea will further upset the predictability of maritime relations in Northeast Asia. Coming too at a time when Beijing refuses to discuss these issues with Tokyo, China has vastly increased the unpredictability of the already growing interaction between Japanese and Chinese militaries.

On a map with coordinates that run north near South Korea’s Cheju Island and south to the area between Taiwan and Japan’s southernmost island of Yonaguni, the Ministry of National Defense announced the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. Shen Jinke, spokesman for the PLA Air Force, announced two large aircraft carried out their first scouting mission under the new ADIZ, accompanied by early warning aircraft and fighter jets, on Saturday.

The Chinese ADIZ overlaps with existing ADIZs monitored by Japan as well as South Korea, and both governments have formally protested. Moreover, the Chinese announcement suggests that Beijing wants tough controls over transit through this region. The Chinese Ministry of National Defense called for all planes flying through its ADIZ to provide flight plan identification, radio identification, transponder identification, and logo identification. Most countries only require the submission of flight plans if the planes are traveling to their territory.

The Japanese government has refused to accept China’s new ADIZ. In the Upper House of parliament, Prime Minister Abe said this will “not have any effect on Japan,” and his Deputy Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters that the ADIZ “unfairly violates the freedom of flight in airspace over the high seas.” On Monday, Foreign Minister Kishida contacted U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy to ask for U.S. support in building a coalition of international opposition to China’s new ADIZ.

More importantly, China’s announcement runs jarringly counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions that erupted last summer over the Senkaku Islands. Since earlier this year, when a Chinese Jiangwei-II class frigate locked its fire-control radar on a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Yudachi, the two nations have gradually reduced tensions in and around the disputed islands. A measure of predictability has characterized the interactions on the sea for much of this year, although renewed tensions seemed possible when Beijing sent a drone near the islands on September 9. Japan responded by stating it would shoot down any drones that entered its airspace.

Recently there were some signs of improvement in Sino-Japanese relations. While the Chinese government still refuses to organize a summit between China’s President Xi Jinping and Japan’s prime minister Abe Shinzo, working level talks continue between Japanese and Chinese governments. Moreover, track two discussions such as the Beijing-Tokyo Forum also resumed, including on the sensitive topic of maritime confidence building. Delegations of business leaders from both countries have also contributed to the sense of a lessening of tensions between the two countries. The Chairman of Keidanren, Hiromasa Yonekura, expressed his disappointment that Keidanren’s recent visit had no impact on Chinese attitudes towards Japan.

Beijing’s ADIZ announcement places Japan in a difficult spot. From Tokyo, the ADIZ looks like an effort to undermine Japan’s administrative control over the Senkaku Islands. China’s deployment of patrol ships to the Senkaku waters last year prompted a 24/7 presence by the Japan Coast Guard around the islands. Subsequent Chinese efforts to test Japan’s military preparedness in and around the disputed islands have also put pressure on the Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF).

America Has No Military Strategy for China



Given the intense media focus on the woes of Obamacare’s rollout, it’s not surprising that no one paid much attention when Japan scrambled its fighters three days in a row beginning on October 24th in response to Chinese military aircraft’s incursions into Japan’s airspace as the so far bloodless maneuvering over claims to Japan’s Senkaku islands sharpens. 

A miscalculation that drew fire has the potential to enmesh us in a dispute that serves no one’s interest. An escalation of such a dispute would be disastrous. Yet the U.S. has no strategy for a conflict withChina. The sole U.S. preparation for such an outcome is a set of ideas known as the AirSea Battle, (ASB). 

The ASB is a concept that has taken root in the U.S. Defense Department as the Obama administration talks about rebalancing forces from the Middle East to Asia, and as the American high command gradually accepts the possibility that China may be a strategic competitor to the U.S. The idea of ASB—a new approach to coordinating military services’ roles in combat, and not a strategy—comes in two parts: to preserve large American forces’ ability to bring power to bear by destroying an enemy’s command and control infrastructure; and to defeat the defenses that allow the launch of low-cost, proliferating, and increasingly accurate missiles. ASB means to accomplish this by new, almost revolutionary, cross-Service combinations of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, that are reflected in equally coordinated operations. 

On October 10th the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, chaired by Representative J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) held a public hearing on the Air-Sea Battle concept at which senior admirals and generals from all the military services testified. The discussion between the knowledgeable elected representative and high-level officers was congenial, informed, and—in unanswered questions—alarming. Representative Forbes asked the officers to explain the strategy on which the AirSea Battle concept is based. They couldn’t. Forbes noted the challenges to East Asia’s stability and America’s historic position as a defender of this stability raised by China’s growing military power. He observed that these challenges deserve a strategy worthy of the name, and warned against one that is determined by today’s weapons or the reduced force that will exist in the future. 

Forbes’ point is solid. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz famously remarked that because “the enemy (at war games played at the Naval War College) was always Japan, and the courses were so thorough…nothing that happened in the Pacific was strange or unexpected” in the war that followed. Nimitz was on target: surprise is part of warfare, and Japan certainly surprised us at the war’s beginning.