8 December 2013

India and the Middle East: Delhi begins a re-think

C. Raja Mohan : Sat Dec 07 2013, 
The external affairs minister Salman Khurshid is sitting down, this weekend in Bahrain, for a long overdue brainstorming session with the Indian envoys to the Middle East. After all, no part of the world has seen as much political convulsion in recent years as the Middle East; and in no region is India such a prisoner to pre-determined positions.

The internal tumult generated by the 'Arab Spring' and the shift in regional geopolitics flowing from the interim nuclear accord between Washington and Tehran are only two among the many factors demanding that Delhi take a new look at the region.

The Foreign Office, for one, could start with a review of the nomenclature. India is probably alone in identifying the region as "West Asia". Delhi must discard this narcissism, and adopt a name the countries of the region themselves prefer, the "Middle East".

The more urgent challenge is to overcome segmented policy-making towards the region in the Foreign Office. For example, Iran is part of a division that deals with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Arab countries of the Gulf are under a separate part of the ministry.

And yet another division deals with what is called West Asia and North Africa. Turkey, which once ruled the region and is seeking to expand its influence in the region, is under a senior official who deals with Europe.

By having envoys to most of these countries in one room, Khurshid is starting a conversation that might help Delhi better understand the Middle East as a whole and the interconnections between its various sub-regions.

A comprehensive approach to the Middle East should also allow Delhi to recast the anti-Western framework that has long guided India's regional policy. While the West remains a major external influence, America and Europe are not always aligned on regional issues. Whether it was the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, or U.S. reluctance to intervene in Syria this year, there are major frictions within the West.

America's historic dependence on the region for oil supplies is coming to an end as the U.S. and its neighbours in the Western hemisphere are becoming major producers of hydrocarbons. China, which has replaced America as the largest importer of oil from the Gulf, is steadily expanding its political influence in the region. Russia meanwhile has begun to play hardball in the Middle East.

The Royal Meddler

Why is Thailand's democracy so dysfunctional? Blame the king.
The world's longest-serving head of state marked his 86th birthday on Thursday, Dec. 5, and as always in recent years the pitched political battle on Bangkok's streets agreed a respectful truce to mark the occasion. That bitter enemies would halt their fight for a few days to honor Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej shows the success his reign has been, and how much esteem he has stored up over 67 years as a constitutional -- yet uniquely powerful -- monarch.

Yet the unending fight between pro-and anti-government forces, the so-called Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts, reflects his fundamental failing to prepare a future for Thailand as a stable, mature democracy after he passes.

Bhumibol is still alive, but there is no doubt that his long reign is dying. He was frail and barely audible as he read a statement calling for unity Thursday morning. He and Queen Sirikit, 81, both suffer a number of debilitating ailments, and now stay out of the public eye. They live not in the capital, but in a seaside palace to the south, infrequently seen or heard from.

Their longtime team is fading, as well. The king's main political agent, privy councilor, former Army chief and Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda, is 93, in ill health, and no longer able to manage the military. And Bhumibol's other lifetime stalwart, the supreme patriarch of the Thai Buddhist clergy, just died at 100.

Very few of the 67 million Thais have ever known another king. Bhumibol has been the one constant in their lives: the country's backbone, moral authority, the very symbol of what is Thai. So this looming end portends a frightening shift in their cosmos -- especially since his sole heir, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, is disliked, feared and scorned.

European constitutional monarchies have the obvious solution to this problem. Brits, for example, may dislike or feel somewhat apathetic to Prince Charles, but in England elected leaders and parliament runs the show, ensuring the country is not vulnerable to the often tragic capriciousness of royal succession.

Thailand has not made that step. The fight that has persisted for much of the past decade is about if, how, and when it will. For a country that has always seemed able to keep moving forward since Bhumibol took the throne in 1946, the stakes are high.

King Bhumibol's reign could have taken a different trajectory. Born in Boston to a high prince studying modern medicine at Harvard, and raised in Switzerland, he might have had a greater appreciation for modern constitutional government. The absolute throne was overthrown when he was five, and there was no going back.

The Enormity of Mandela's Struggle

Rajan Menon |
July 8, 2013

Nelson Mandela is now waging what mere mortals would see as life’s greatest battle: the one to stay alive. But Mandela, a larger-than-life figure, would probably not see it that way; for him the battle was always about something that transcended his person.

And he joined it with supreme courage and dignity, in and out of the prisons to which he was confined for twenty-seven years, more than a quarter of his life, in three different locations: Robben Island, where he occupied a tiny cell for 18 years, and at the Poolsmoor and Victor Verster jails. When, defying the odds, and most likely his own expectations, he emerged a free man on February 11, 1990, his bearing was graceful; his visage bore no trace of bitterness. His autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, is unlike most politicians’ life narratives. Like the man himself, it is devoid of self-pity and grandiosity and brims with magnanimity and wisdom.

This is remarkable in itself, for Mandela had every right to be an angry man. But he isn’t an ordinary man. He walked out of prison and immediately reentered the public political arena (though even in captivity he was part of national and international politics), calling for reconciliation and engaging South Africa’s white-minority leadership with the aim of dismantling the system of apartheid. The ending of apartheid owed to Mandela’s moral authority. The magnitude of that achievement, and Mandela’s place in history more generally, cannot be appreciated without a basic understanding of what South Africa’s apartheid system amounted to; that apartheid is fading into the mists of time it makes it all the more necessary to take a detour to provide context.

A comprehensive system of racial segregation undergirded by a plethora of intricate laws, apartheid had been in place since 1948 national elections, with Hendrik Verwoerd, who served as Minister of Native Affairs and then as Prime Minister from 1958 until being stabbed to death in parliament in September 1966, serving as chief architect. Apartheid, which can loosely be translated as “apartness,” had many aspects, but the common denominator, and overall purpose, was the systematic separation of whites (sixty percent were Afrikaners, the descendants of seventeenth century Dutch settlers; the rest English) and nonwhites. It was mind-numbing in its precision. There were laws enforcing residential segregation (the “Group Areas Act”); prohibiting sexual intercourse between whites and nonwhites (the “Immorality Act”); mandating separate educational institutions and specifying the content of textbooks used in nonwhite schools; requiring separate restrooms, bus stops, and ambulances; and defining the guidelines for commercials featuring white and nonwhite actors. And that’s just a sample.

Strategic Weapons: India Improves Its SCUD Clones

December 6, 2013:
India recently had another successful test of their Prithvi II ballistic missile. This is progress because in September 2010, a Prithvi II test failed as the rocket motor began burning fuel but not enough to get it off the launcher. There was a lot of smoke and confusion but no launch. This was a user trial where military crews were making sure they were able to use a new weapon that had been successfully completed testing using manufacturer personnel to operate it. This is a common practice but particularly necessary in India, where the manufacturers often cut corners during development and testing. The troops on the military launch crews are usually not privy to these workarounds, and the developers sometimes just keep their fingers crossed that the troops can handle things on their own. For example, in 2009, the first user test of the ground launched BrahMos cruise missile failed. Not a major problem, it turned out. After a few months, everything was put right. That’s what happened with the Prithvi II.

The first successful test of the 4.6 ton Prithvi II took place in 2009, and it successfully hit a target 350 kilometers away. The 2010 launch was to test the ability of the missile to carry a half ton warhead. This is the minimum size for a nuclear warhead. Used with a nuclear warhead Prithvi II is a strategic weapon, since it can put those nuclear warheads on major targets within neighboring Pakistan. In the last three years Prithvi II has been improved to the point where it can reach targets 350 kilometers away while carrying a one ton warhead.

A Prithvi III is in development. This is the Prithvi II modified to be operated from ships. This missile can carry a half ton warhead 600 kilometers. The increase in range and warhead weight for the Prithvi III was achieved by using a solid fuel rocket motor and adding a second stage with a liquid fuel motor. The Prithvi II uses a liquid fuel rocket. The navy has not installed the Prithvi III on any of its ships because it was discovered that the liquid fuel was too dangerous to handle aboard a ship at sea.

Terrorism: The Troubling Message from Patna

Paper No. 5616 Dated 7-Dec-2013
By A.K. Verma
The terrorist incident at Patna on Oct 27, 2013 reaffirms a sinister significance which needs to be The message is that Jihadi terrorism in India, like Maoism ,is totally indigenized. It no longer requires Pakistani sponsorship at every step.

The Pakistani spymasters have succeeded in identifying fault lines in India which are capable of spawning a movement on their own. One such movement is now identified in the Indian mind as the Indian Mujahideen (IM). Fired with the Jihadi ideology of Al Qaida, the Indian Mujahideen aims to destroy India, identified as alien to Islamic interests, and replace it with an entity where Sharia philosophy and legal system reign supreme.

Although Osama Bin Laden, the founder of Al Qaida, is dead his ghost is very much alive and kicking. In several parts of the Muslim world, new groups have emerged, swearing by the Jihadi Muslim militant creed of Al Qaida, without any direct links with Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, currently the top man of Al Qaida, hiding somewhere in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Such groups have been operating notably in Somalia, Sudan, Algeria, Yemen ,Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Syria besides Chechnya, Philippines and China in its Xinjiang province. The Jihadi literature available on internet serves as the guide and inspiration of such groups. They are all locally constituted and carry out activities like the Indian Mujahideen in India, but on a much bigger scale. They are actively engaged in armed conflicts with their state authorities killing innocent people including women, children and the aged.

The important difference with their Indian counterpart is that whereas they have imbibed the suicide bomber culture, the Indian Mujahideen are yet to embark on this alternative. But it is only a matter of time for the suicide bomber to emerge on the Indian scene.

The Al Qaida doctrines are proving pervasive. Their influence on Muslim immigrants in Europe and US has altered fundamentally the thinking of the governments there. The European countries are giving up their beliefs in multi culturism which they had embraced as an invaluable product of European renaissance and enlightenment. That they are now giving on this, scores the depth of their disenchantment and their readiness to alter drastically their creed and convictions to preserve their cultural values and safeguard their national security.

In the US some similar steps have been taken though the nature of the conflict is not publicly admitted. The job before the US authorities is manifold more difficult. It is almost impossible in the US to negate the constitutional rights of the citizens. The natural born Muslim citizens of the US cannot be put on a separate category: their rights to privacy and individual freedoms and to practice their religion in the manner they deem correct, cannot be legally questioned or circumscribed. The US authorities are, however, alive to the attraction which Al Qaida thinking casts over some of their citizens and are employing tangential tactics to watch the unfolding scenarios. The Patriot Act was enacted as one of the first measures. The Prism surveillance programme was initiated basically as a counter measure against this menace though subsequently its ambit was expanded to cover other intelligence objectives. The decision of the New York police to penetrate into every single mosque in the city was an executive step to nip in the bud any conspiracy which could threaten any citizen’s personal security or property or the The Indian Mujahideen is a cancerous growth but spreading like a virus. Various modules have come to light since 2005 when the first detection took place. The investigations have followed the first leaders of the movement who were identified and, as a result, the modules in Darbhanga in Bihar, Azamgarh in UP and Bhatkal in Karnataka were located.. To the credit of our investigative agencies it must be acknowledged that they have been able to identify the culprits responsible for many incidents of terrorism such as those in Bangalore, Hydrabad, Pune, Bodhgaya, Patna etc. The perpetrators have been found to be interconnected, got easily recruited and brain washed and sworn to commitments to the ideologies of Jihad. The funds for operations come from across. Some also received training in explosives and tactics abroad. Nepal became a favourite route of passage from India to Pakistan and vice versa.

The IM today stands developed to an extent that foreign props may not be necessary for its continual A crucial cusp has been reached. Because of the seamless reach of Jihadi doctrine, many more sleeping modules may have already been created though they have not activated themselves. Many more may be in incubation in different regions of the country. They may not be interconnected or in communication with one another. But they all represent a serious threat in the making, a disaster What kind of disaster can overtake the country? The Patna blasts offer a clue. An election meeting of the most visible political leader in the in the country today was sought to be disrupted by multiple terroristic, almost simultaneous, explosions. Simply put, it was an attack on the peaceful democratic process of an election address to a comprehensive large section of the city population. It was thus an attack on Indian democracy, its electoral processes and the philosophy of pluralism, apart from being a direct onslaught on the safety and security of citizens. In significance it can be compared to the attack on the ation’s Parliament in 2001. The latter attack was directly controlled form across. It was, therefore, executed with a certain finesse and expertise. The Patna operations were less sophisticated and could not, therefore, display a high level of efficiency. Their exercise was more in the nature of learning on the job. But their single mindedness was evident. One should not expect that future incidents could be as simplistic. In this age of technology and internet delivery, future episodes are likely to be technically more accomplished and hence more lethal.

How well are we prepared? Unfortunately Muslim Terrorism in India is looked upon with jaundiced eyes by several state administrations. The guiding concern for such regimes is how their attitude will affect what they consider to be their captive vote bank. Their vision, coming through the prism of distorted secularism, thus becomes non objective, self serving and destructive to national interests. No prominent Muslim leader supports political jihad or Jihadi terrorism because he rarely has an eye on a vote bank It is the pseudo secularist who fails the national purpose.

Bihar’s pre and post Patna blasts attitudes demonstrate this eloquently. Pre blast, the police in Bihar showed reluctance to handle the transit remand of arrested IM kingpin Yasin Bhatkal from Nepal to India. The security arrangements for the election speech on Oct.17,2013 of a national leader from a rival political party, even when vulnerabilities were considerable, were quite inadequate . It is understood that the state police had not participated in liaison meetings with central agencies to assess the severity of threats. Post blasts, no need for a judicial enquiry appears to have been felt. Undoubtedly, threat of Muslim Terrorism is a national issue, to be dealt with collectively and severally by all national entities and political segments. When it gets targeted against the core of democracy in the country, the issue assumes a much larger dimension. The expectation then becomes that everyone will rise above trivial considerations.

Permanent Chairman COSC : MoD’s Triumph

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
Issue Net Edition | Date : 07 Dec , 2013

Whatever cooks in North and South Blocks, some scents have the tendency to seep through the walls no matter how tight the windows are shut. So one fine day comes this article that the government is planning to shortly appoint Army Chief, Gen Bikram Singh as Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (PC COSC) and the present Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC), Lt Gen Anil Chait will be elevated to Army Chief.

…government has no right to take such decision without discussion with all political parties because hasn’t for years the decision to appoint a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) been pended on these very grounds?

It is not known what facts this article is based on or if it is mere perception building exercise, since the same author was earlier engaged in perception building for India to vacate Siachen, though till appointed on the Indian Track II Team to discuss Siachen with Pakistani counterparts, he was vocal on TV against vacating Siachen citing national security. That apart, the article sure set discussion in Delhi’s elite club afire – permutations and combinations, you name it: that the author with his Armoured Corps background was playing up Anil Chait, not that the latter needs any propping up; that with uncertain outcome of elections and Bikram retiring May 2014, he was being appointed PC COSC now (next best to doubtful Governorship) to serve till 64 years age, since he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s family are related – even though Bikram had reportedly denied such relationship earlier; that the article is bunkum as it is the Air Chief, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne who is being made PC COSC; that government being in its last throes is incapable of taking any decision, and; that government has no right to take such decision without discussion with all political parties because hasn’t for years the decision to appoint a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) been pended on these very grounds?

But this is not about who gets appointed as PC COSC or the next Army Chief. This is about the post of PC COSC itself, how it would help the military and in promoting civil-military relations, which the aforesaid author terms as “win-win situation”. Interestingly, in the immediate aftermath of this article came the National Security Lecture on 6th December 2013 at the United Services Institution of India, New Delhi, delivered by Shri NN Vohra, Governor of J&K on ‘Civil-Military Relations’. The issue of civil-military relations has its relationship to considerable extent with appointment of a PC COSC. This becomes clear when viewed in the backdrop of the synergy required within the military in particular and national synergy in general since 21st century threat and asymmetric wars are hardly targeted at or can be fought by the military alone. This would have been apparent to the audience that attended Governor Vohra’s talk and his references to the lack of military synergy and the enlarging threats that India faces. In his talk, Governor Vohra pointedly remarked that the type of military integration that was needed had unfortunately not been ensured by HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS). One can say that with respect to integration of the three Services, the Governor was being rather modest. The fact of the matter is that there is hardly any integration worth the salt. Putting budget projections together hardly constitutes integration.

The fact remains that no matter what façade of Services jointness and integration, it simply has not come about despite HQ IDS having been in place for over a decade. If former Army Chief, General VP Malik said, “It is not my case that the Service Chiefs do not cooperate in war. Were they not to do so, it would be churlish. But in war cooperative synergies are simply not good enough.” Much later, a Service Chief stated during the Unified Commanders Conference that the Services had very good synergy since all three chief played golf together once a month followed by breakfast. Not much has changed since and changes made are largely cosmetic, even though the establishment of HQ IDS is being hailed as a major step, and next the appointment of PC COSC is already being portrayed as a win-win situation. Amidst the hullabaloo of the military becoming a network centric force, presently the military does not even have common data structures, symbology and interoperable protocols. Radio communications are not interoperable to desired degree and radio sets differ in frequency bands, wave forms and secrecy algorithms. There is absence of knowledge management and a common unifying secrecy algorithm for the Services hasn’t been developed though technological solutions exist. No common enterprise GIS has yet been developed either.

If the next government is serious about national security and synergy both at the national and military levels, an important task would be restructure the MoD and HQ IDS, merging them completely and institutionalizing their interfaces with MEA and MHA.

The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) is the central repository for all intelligence inputs pertaining to the three Services including Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), however we are yet to integrate the aspects of topography with the DIA. Within the existing setup, adequate resources in terms of remote sensing, ELINT payloads and cartography are not available to produce high quality fused data. Similarly, much more is required at the national level in terms of integration of various government agencies. Military Survey is some 30 years behind in meeting even existing routine mapping requirements of the Military, whereas Large Scale Mapping requirements of say 1 : 5,000 and below is practically not being met at all, which are vital to Operational Information Systems being introduced into the Army. Technology, policies, standards and resources are necessary to acquire, process, store, distribute and improve utilization of geospatial data for military purposes. The need to establish a Defence Spatial Data Infrastructure (DSDI) is not even being talked about. Project Defence Communications Network (DCN) hailed as project to usher integration, does ‘not’ include development of common software.

But the important question is that can one really blame HQ IDS for the lack of integration within the military? A closer examination would tell you no. The whole concept of HQ IDS was based on its complete integration with the MoD, which has not happened. You can’t post an officer each from IAS and IFS to HQ IDS, similarly, an odd military officer to MoD, and call it integration. Members of the US contingent who came to attend the first Indo-US Defence Planning Group (DPG) meeting in New Delhi post 9/11 were aghast to learn that our MoD has no military officers on permanent absorption or deputation, their surprise writ in the question, “How can you possibly function like this?” But HQ IDS has come up akin to a separate Service HQ.

The bureaucracy has ensured that this integration did not take place for many reasons, major one being money and corruption aside from why disturb bureaucratic bliss of authority but sans responsibility. Gen VK Singh, former Army Chief reveals in his book the corruption trail going right up to the PMO. Obviously, the Defence Minister presides over the rot and little wonder that despite scores of scandals in defence procurements, no bureaucrat has ever been indicted or punished. Merger of HQ IDS with MoD would bring in accountability but more importantly, affect the money chain and skeletons may come tumbling out. Post the talk by Governor Vohra, there was discussion about increasing cross postings between the MoD and military but suffice to say an odd increase in cross postings does not constitute the degree of integration that is required. If the next government is serious about national security and synergy both at the national and military levels, an important task would be restructure the MoD and HQ IDS, merging them completely and institutionalizing their interfaces with MEA and MHA.

Indian politicians and bureaucrats have consistently displayed a penchant to appoint committees and run affairs through them rather than go for institutionalized set ups. But we need to seriously examine if can afford to continue with the apex of the military in a ‘committee’, call it COSC or whatever. Try replacing the post of Chief of Army Staff with ‘Chairman Army Commanders Committee’ and witness how you kill that organization. Same is the case with PC COSC. Anyone who has served in HQ IDS, will tell you that military synergy is only ‘within’ HQ IDS and the Services HQ listen little to them.

Governor Vohra stated that he would expect the PC COSC to be the single point military advisor to the government but the fact is that PC COSC will be no more than another embellishment as far as MoD is concerned, for the rug has already been pulled from under his feet. Not many would know that even the document dealing with CDS has been so craftily drafted by the bureaucracy that the CDS really will hardly ever be a single point advisor. The document says that as and when a CDS is appointed, he will have equal voting rights as Service Chiefs and in case of disagreement by two Service Chiefs, arbitration will be done by MoD. Even before HQ IDS came into being, did we have the arrangement that Services HQ were required to append dissent notes by Army Commanders / FOC-in-Cs / AOC-in-Cs ? So why this provision in case of CDS ? If there are differences of opinion, these are for discussion within the military (as done by Service Chiefs in respective Service) but eventually one single case is sent to MoD. It is time the bureaucracy sheds its policy of divide and rule or the political authority kicks them into shedding it.

But the above is only one part of empowering the CDS to ensure integration vertically either way. The more important requirement is to grant him full operational powers, without which, his authority over the Services HQ would be incomplete. Presently, HQ IDS only deals with Out of Area Contingencies (OOAC), which is not enough. Incidentally, in a meeting chaired by the current President as Defence Minister in 2005, the then Services Chiefs were fully for appointment of a CDS but then individually they appear to have been ‘won over by the bureaucracy. In the said meeting, the then Army Chief wanted not only the CDS but wanted him given “full operational powers”. Immediately post retirement, he changed stance to say that the time to appoint a CDS was not now because we have yet to solve our internal security problems, as if the two are related and as if we will ever solve our internal security challenges given consistency in our inability to manage social change, corruption and pitting communities against each other for political gains.

…only increase the happiness of our enemies; take 66 years to appoint a toothless PC COSC and perhaps another 66 to appoint a CDS, no matter if the map of India undergoes a change.

The then Naval Chief and Chairman COSC was fully for the CDS and showed his anguish about the Chairman COSC having been quietly taken out of the loop between the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) and the National Security Advisor (NSA) – another silent bureaucratic coup. Surprisingly, the same Naval Chief and Chairman COSC post retirement writes that we should not be ‘hankering’ over CDS and we should not throw the baby (PC COSC) out of the bathwater. One of the reason quoted by him is ‘step by step’ approach as we have been in a time wrap. This will only increase the happiness of our enemies; take 66 years to appoint a toothless PC COSC and perhaps another 66 to appoint a CDS, no matter if the map of India undergoes a change. Even if we are in a time wrap, it does not imply that we start taking one shaky step once every six decades. All the more reason a shakeup is urgently warranted.

Military integration has to be enforced vertically and horizontally across the board. Connected with this is the crying need to go in for Integrated Theatre Commands and Integrated Functional Commands, which are unlikely to come through without a CDS. Former Army Chief, General S Padmanabhan had said, “There is no escaping the military logic of creating suitably constituted Integrated Theatre Commands and Functional Commands for the armed forces as a whole.” In UK, the debate over the CDS raged for l8 years, till the government forced a CDS on the military. Unfortunately, the warped bureaucratic control over the military instead of political control (as it should be) has led to keeping the military out of strategic and security related decision making and in keeping the Services in separate compartments. The appointment of a PC COSC is ostensibly in line with the task force headed by the Ambassador Naresh Chandra to undertake a review of national security. Ironically, every time India woke up to order a security review was after a crisis; Sino-Indian War of 1962, lndo-Pak War of 1965, Mizo uprising of 1966, Kargil conflict of 199 and the 26 / 11 Mumbai terrorist attack.

If we had the strategic culture, a Comprehensive Defence and Security Review should have been institutionalized every five years. The Committee has recommended establishment of two additional commands; Special Force and Aerospace. If media is to be believed, plans are afoot to give the Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC), Special Forces Command and Aerospace Command respectively to the Army, Navy and Air Force on permanent basis. This will be another serious mistake albeit it will increase the happiness of MoD to keep the Services in separate compartments. In fact, given the need for military integration across the board, it will be prudent to have requisite permanently posted representation in the newly sanctioned Mountain Strike Corps.

At a time when we are faced with heightening threats, jointly by China and Pakistan, the need for appointing a CDS was never more. The system of committees is at best adhoc.

The impression created in respect of the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) recommendations is that less than appointing a CDS everything has been implemented. Nothing could be further from the truth. The major implementation failings, mostly advertent, are: one, no CDS appointed; two, HQ IDS created as a separate HQ instead of merging it with MoD; three, Chairman COSC gradually eased out from the loop of control of SFC ; four, DIA stopped from its authorized mandate of operating trans-border intelligence sources; five, ANC remains toothless without requisite forces under its command; six, Directorate General of Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) and Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) not brought under HQ IDS. Ironically, the Parliamentary Committee on Defence is as toothless as any other committee whose recommendations get largely ignored. However, in the case of the Naresh Chandra Committee, as per certain sources, select members were briefed at the time of constituting the task force as to what should be the eventual recommendations – situating the appreciation as said in the military. Public perception building was suitably organized, one example being that while the previous Air Chief immediately post retirement had stated that he was not for a CDS in “present form”, this was hyped and portrayed as saying he was against appointment of a CDS. This has apparently become the ploy in the existing dispensation, example being the Track Two Team discussing Siachen, briefed ‘only’ to work out “how to withdraw” without going into “why” and “when”.

At a time when we are faced with heightening threats, jointly by China and Pakistan, the need for appointing a CDS was never more. The system of committees is at best adhoc. Plenty has come in the media in recent months on the state of our defence forces including the widening gap compared to the PLA. There have been suggestions that only an Act of Parliament like the Goldwater Nichols Act or like the Berlin Decree that can break the logjam but in our case, it is difficult to identify a political leader or a bureaucrat who could push for such an Act of Parliament. Paradoxically, the government-appointed task force had no active Services representation. Interacting is difierent from having full time active Services members. Interacting with Services is not the same as having full time members on a task force. A PC COSC is no substitute for a CDS. The former will make little difference to existing arrangement. It is surprising that the Naresh Chandra Committee did not recommend ‘full’ integration of HQ IDS with the MoD, in addition to a appointing a PC COSC even if constraints had been put on them. Such an arrangement could indeed have been a step forward.

Without integrating HQ IDS with MoD, appointment of a PC COSC is just another embellishment. Are we not playing into the hands of our enemies? Addressing the Combined Commander’s Conference in 2004, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had stated, “Reforms within the Armed Forces also involve recognition of the fact that our Navy, Air Forces and Army can no longer function in compartments with exclusive chains of command and single service operational plans”. The PC COSC can certainly not provide the required synergy in the Services, which in turn adversely affects national synergy without which we cannot adequately cope with threats to our security in any segment of the conflict spectrum including the asymmetric and proxy wars that we are already engaged in.

The bottom line is that if appointment of a PC COSC is a win-win situation, it is only a triumph for the bureaucrats in MoD. What India actually needs is a CDS with full operational powers urgently keeping in mind the rapidly expanding threats to our security. The next government would do well to start working on a roadmap for it.

The Uncertain Strategic Case for the Zero Option in Afghanistan


By Anthony H. Cordesman
Dec 4, 2013
It is far too easy to concentrate on the tensions with Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and ignore the sheer lack of U.S. debate over the value of staying in Afghanistan. The key question is whether there is a legitimate case for something approaching a zero option and a full withdrawal of U.S. forces and aid. If there is, it does not really matter whether Karzai signs the BSA or in fact if the US has a good excuse to leave. If there is not a legitimate case, one needs to be very careful about setting artificial deadlines and red lines.
The key problem in answering this question is that with little more than a year before the planned withdrawal of all U.S. troops, the Obama Administration has never provided any meaningful rational for staying Afghanistan or any plan for what happens after the end of 2014.

This already is presenting key problems in terms of lead times, and is the reason former commanders of USCENTCOM and ISAF sought such decisions by the end of 2012. We need to decide what our future role will be, what facilities we will need to keep, what levels of manpower we will need to deploy, what should and should not be withdrawn and closed. We need to get Afghans to agree to these U.S. plans and goals, and to conditions for a lasting U.S. role. We need to get firm agreements from the allies that we want to keep forces and aid efforts after 2014. We need to have plans for what will replace ISAF and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in attempts to coordinate military and civil aid efforts.

We have no clear plans or leadership from the Obama Administration in any one of these critical areas. More than that, we have no decisions about the cost of such efforts, and estimates of what budget requests will be needed over any estimated period of years after 2014. There is some rhetoric but no realism. Worse, far too many in the Pentagon and State Department feel that the White House is little more than an endless random options generator. A constant stream of requests for more plans and data, but no clear decisions.

One thing is clear. The strategic case for staying in Afghanistan is uncertain and much depends on the size, cost, and nature of the future U.S. effort – as well as the level of Afghan commitment to meeting the conditions that justify staying. There are well over a dozen critical issues and tasks the Administration has to address:

1. Afghanistan is at least a secondary and probably a tertiary U.S. strategic interest, and not a top priority for major U.S. commitments in terms of spending and forces. The United States has far higher priorities in Asia, the Middle East, and in meeting domestic needs.

2. Afghanistan is no longer a key center of international terrorism. Al Qaeda central is located in Pakistan. The most threatening Al Qaeda and other extremist movements for the United States, Europe, and our allies are in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Africa.

3. We have no way to defeat the Taliban, Haqqani Network, and other extremist movements that threaten the Afghan government and only pose a very limit threat to the United States. They have sanctuaries in Pakistan, and the United States and ISAF do not plan to drive them out of Afghanistan; only to help the Afghans create a layered defense of key population centers and lines of communication.

India-Pakistan: Blame The Foreigners

December 3, 2013: India is alarmed that neighboring Bangladesh is planning to buy two submarines for its navy (which has never had subs before). Bangladesh is the largest customer for Chinese arms exports. India also suspects that Chinese subs have been operating in the Bay of Bengal. While China and India have been talking for months about reducing tension on their common border, China continues to claim Indian territory and establish bases in the Indian Ocean and Bay Of Bengal.

December 2, 2013: In Kashmir Indian troops clashed with Islamic terrorists, killing three of them. Elsewhere in Kashmir Islamic terrorists ambushed a police patrol, killing a policeman and wounding two others.

December 1, 2013: In eastern India (Bihar state) Maoists attacked a train and killed three policemen.

November 30, 2013: Indians are angry at China for protesting the visit of the Indian president to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh (which China claims as a part of Tibet). In 2012, China loudly protested the visit of the defense minister to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Arunachal Pradesh. In both cases the two countries made a big deal about the dispute in the media. This is just another escalation in a long-running border dispute. India's military preparations to defend Arunachal Pradesh make it more likely that there will be some violence along the disputed border. India is not only concerned about the land fighting but is building an aircraft carrier and submarine force to block Chinese attempts to control Indian Ocean trade routes. The tension over Arunachal Pradesh became more intense as Indians became aware that China has, since 1986, occupied 28 square kilometers of Indian territory. Part of the response was a 2010 announcement of an Indian five year plan to increase Indian abilities to deal with any Chinese aggression against Arunachal Pradesh. The Chinese claims have been on the books for decades, but in the last decade China has become more vocal about it. That's one reason India has been rapidly increasing its defense spending. But since both nations have nuclear weapons, a major war over Arunachal Pradesh is unlikely. But India fears that China might try to carry out a lightning campaign (a few days or a week) and then offer peace terms (with China keeping all or part of Arunachal Pradesh). Since neither country would be willing to start a full scale nuclear war over Arunachal Pradesh (a rural area with a population of about a million people, spread among 84,000 square kilometers of mountains and valleys), the "grab and parley" strategy has to be taken seriously, if only because China used it fifty years ago to grab some Indian territory on the Tibet border. In the meantime, China keeps finding ways to annoy India over this issue.

In eastern India (Jharkhand state) Maoist rebels failed in an attempt to blow up a highway bridge. Local civilians alerted police who arrived before the explosives could be detonated and the bomb was disarmed and removed.

In the Pakistani tribal territories (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) Taliban attacked police escorting a polio vaccination team, killing one policeman and wounding another. The elected government in this areas is run by Islamic conservatives who are opposed to the UAV attacks and foreign troops in Afghanistan. The local government has organized a blockade of roads used by trucks going to and from Afghanistan.

China's aggression towards Japan is a global threat

By Samir Saran and Abhijit Iyer-mitra

PUBLISHED: 4 December 2013

On the 23rd of November China escalated its tensions with Japan significantly by declaring an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).

While this zone may be a geographic span encompassing most of the East China Sea, its strategic shadow falls on the Himalayas.

The responses to this episode will shape the history of the 21st century.

Though more than three thousand kilometres away, this new Chinese posture may be well be India's security frontline.

Dispute: This 2011 photo shows a P-3C patrol plane of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force flying over the disputed islets known as the Senkaku islands


The ADIZ claims almost the entire area of the East China Sea – a quadrangle comprising China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan - as an extension of Chinese airspace.

The way an ADIZ works is that it extends a sort of sovereignty, a type of territoriality to airspace beyond ones geographic territory. An aircraft that intends to fly through, though technically in international airspace has to notify the claimant.

Most countries have used the declaration of ADIZs to consolidate sovereignty, as both the US and Japan have contiguous to their own territories for defence purposes.

China's claim, though, doesn't follow the contours of its coastline but rather juts out – a prominent salient into the sea. In this day and age land grabs are completely unacceptable, sea grabs are becoming unacceptable, and China has jumped the normative gun challenging air norms to possibly buttress its maritime and territorial claims.

AirSea Battle and ADIZ: A Reaction to a Reaction


Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 24
December 5, 2013 
By: Harry Kazianis

This map, published by the Chinese Ministry of Defense, shows the boundaries of the new air defense zone.

On November 23, China announced the creation of a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) covering the East China Sea. Immediate reactions have focused on its effect on the territorial claims of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. However, the new ADIZ is also a major step toward China's ambitions to monitor and restrict foreign military activity in what it describes as its “Near Seas.” As Peter Mattis writes in this issue of China Brief, the rollout of the new zone displays no signs of crisis language, but instead appears to be the result of a careful policy process—likely a long-term effort to neutralize U.S. efforts to ensure access to the East China Sea, themselves a reaction to previous Chinese actions.

The ADIZ belongs not only to the context of China’s territorial disputes, but also to an escalating, if low-key, disagreement with the United States over operations in the Near Seas. It provides a legal framework for China’s complaints about U.S. intelligence-gathering flights near China’s borders, and for radar tracking and harassment of aircraft that fail to report flight plans to Chinese authorities—what Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesman Yang Yujun described as “potential air threats” (MoD website, November 23).

In Chinese analysis, these efforts are necessary to resist growing threats from the U.S. military against the integrity of Chinese borders. The ADIZ is thus likely a response not only to Japan’s “nationalization” of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, but to the U.S. operational concept dubbed “Air-Sea Battle” (ASB) highlighted in Chinese analysis as proof of the threat of possible U.S. military intervention in China’s interests. ASB is itself a reaction to China’s earlier efforts to develop Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities, suggesting that Chinese and U.S. military planners are already engaged in a conceptual arms race to produce frameworks for controlling access to the Near Seas.

Telstra, Australian Telecommunications Giant, Intercepting Vast Amount of Data for Australian Spy Agencies

December 7, 2013
Telstra’s data ‘vacuum’
Philip Dorling
Sydney Morning Herald
December 6, 2013

Australia’s leading telecommunications company, Telstra, has installed highly advanced surveillance systems to “vacuum” the telephone calls, texts, social media messages and internet metadata of millions of Australians so that information can be filtered and given to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The Australian government’s electronic espionage agency, the Australian Signals Directorate, is using the same technology to harvest data flows carried by undersea fibre-optic cables in and out of Australia.

Confidential documents obtained by Fairfax Media reveal the secret technology used to trawl Australians’ telecommunications and internet data for analysis by ASIO, the ASD and law enforcement agencies.

All Australian telecommunications and internet service providers by law must maintain interception and data-collection capabilities for government.

The leaked documents reveal that a little-known Melbourne-based company is a key provider of the secret monitoring technology.

Newgen Systems, owned and managed by local telecommunications engineer Robert Perin, is the sole Australian supplier for Gigamon, a large Silicon Valley-based information technology firm that specialises in what it terms “network traffic visibility solutions”.

Gigamon’s hardware enables telecommunications and IT network administrators to track, inspect and analyse all data flows undetected without affecting the performance of networks.

A key application of the technology is interception of telecommunications and internet data.

In the words of a former Newgen employee, “Gigamon’s systems are designed to find not just a needle in a haystack, but bits of needles in many haystacks. We do that by taking all the hay, all the time. We take everything.”

Confidential Newgen documents describe the Gigamon technology as “a vacuum cleaner” that “sucks up unsynchronised and disaggregated data, filters and sorts it to re-create the original puzzle”.

Established in mid-2006, Newgen - now based in Hawthorn - targeted major telecommunications companies and internet service providers, as well as the ASD and ASIO, as potential customers.

Telstra quickly emerged as Newgen’s main customer with the first sales of Gigamon hardware occurring in early 2007. Although Telstra has bought a variety of Gigamon systems, a key purpose is “lawful interception” to provide data to ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and state law enforcement agencies.

In April 2010, Newgen submitted a proposal to Telstra’s “special projects” group for the installation of Gigamon hardware at 24 metropolitan locations around Australia to meet “a government-mandated regulatory requirement” for interception coverage as Telstra upgraded its network.

An initial rollout of Gigamon systems for Telstra’s top 10 exchanges was costed at $2.7 million, and Telstra’s purchases from Newgen in 2010 were worth more than $3.5 million.

Intelligence: Forensics As A Weapon


December 5, 2013: Information from the past is becoming a more important factor in present and future conflicts. In Iraq, American troops collected an enormous amount of data that is expected to be useful in the future. This included data and material collected after each (well, most) incidents where American troops were in combat. Typically troops are assigned to conduct their own CSI (Crime, or, in this case, "Combat" Scene Investigation) of each incident. In addition to several hundred thousand of these reports, there are about 100,000 just covering IEDs (improvised explosive devices, mainly roadside bombs) that include recovered fragments of the bombs. These databases are computerized, something which makes them a lot more useful for military researchers and planners. In fact, before the 1980s, when computerization became inexpensive and easy to implement, a lot of such military data was largely unknown to those who could use it and difficult to analyze in any event.

For example, during the Vietnam War the U.S. Army began studying each combat incident (that produced American casualties) with the same through investigative techniques it had earlier adopted for accidents. The accident investigation was meant to find common patterns that could be changed to avoid future accidents. It was believed the same useful lessons could be learned from analyzing combat incidents. Thus, participants were interviewed, maps of the incident created, and even the fragments taken from dead or wounded troops was retained, along with some of their medical records. Those records survived the war but were "lost" until an enterprising Navy doctor (who began his military career as an enlisted SEAL in Vietnam and after medical school ended up teaching at the DoD Medical School) hunted them down in the 1980s and put the data on a computer for analysis. The results of that analysis was amazing (showing patterns of successful and unsuccessful attacks). So by the 1990s, with everyone in the military using a PC, and powerful (easy to operate) database software available, the military CSI drill became standard and increasingly useful. By the time the Iraq war came along, everyone was into thorough reconstruction of combat events. The reason was simple, to find out where the mistakes were and correct them. In the past the analysis had to be done using data stored on punched cards and subjected to analysis using card sorting equipment. The mainframe computers didn’t become affordable until the 1970s, and even then good statistical software and random data access was not cheap enough to make intense analysis possible. That all changed with the personal computer and microchip revolution that got started in the 1970s and matured by the 1990s.

This data revolution first made itself felt in Iraq. After the defeat of Saddam's armed forces in 2003, fighting continued with hit and run attacks by Saddam loyalists and Islamic radicals. These attacks hit a peak of about 30 a day in early November 2003. Each such incident was treated to the full CSI drill. Photos were taken, maps drawn, troops and witnesses interviewed, and damage (if any) inspected, along with enemy weapons or munitions (if available). Officers and NCOs then examined each incident and looked for things U.S. troops might have done to avoid getting hit, or to strike back at the ambushers. Since all of these incidents went into one database, it was also possible to look for patterns. Oddly enough, because of this CSI database, American investigators know more about enemy tactics than most enemy fighters. This is because the Iraqi opposition consists of several pro-Saddam or anti-Western factions and these groups cannot easily communicate with each other. While the attackers kept trying different types of attacks, coalition forces just as quickly developed new defensive measures. There's nothing really new in these small combats, for the basic ideas have been around for decades and most are clearly described in paper and CD-ROM versions of al Qaedas "how to be an Islamic terrorist" manual. But the CSI work lets commanders know how well defensive measures are working and which units are better at it than others. While the CSI operations take time and effort, the payback in information is literally a life saver.

Naval Air: Indian Carrier Tribulations Are Not Over

December 5, 2013: The new Russian built Indian aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, was turned over to the Indian Navy on November 16th and left for India ten days later. There’s one major problem however. Vikramaditya is not combat ready yet. When Vikramaditya arrives at its home port in late January it will be without its primary LRSAM/Barak 8 anti-aircraft missile system. Vikramaditya is supposed to be fully operational by mid-2014, but that won’t happen until it receives its Israeli designed air defense system. In the meantime, the carrier does have several AK-630 Russian made six-barrel 30mm close-in weapon systems (CIWS), for defense against anti-ship missiles, as well as MiG-29 fighters. But the long range anti-aircraft missiles are a major part of the air defenses.

It’s all about persistent Indian problems with managing the development of military technology. India and Israel have a deal to jointly develop and manufacture the new Barak 8 anti-aircraft missile. India calls their version LRSAM (Long Range Surface to Air Missile) and while most (70 percent) of the development work has been done in Israel, India is the major customer (buying $1.1 billion worth of LRSAM/Barak 8 for their warships). Because India has a larger navy, they will be the major user. The two countries evenly split the $350 million development cost. The Indian delay is because of problems developing features India wanted and some Indian made components in LRSAM. While the Barak 8 is being installed in some Israeli ships right now, Israel cannot just install Barak 8 in Vikramaditya until the two countries resolve some differences over the transfer of some Israeli technology to India. This has also been a problem with other Western nations, and the Indian government has not been willing to change Indian laws and patent protections to avoid these problems.

Over the last few years India found that they had a major problem with LRSAM; they did not have enough engineers in the government procurement bureaucracy to quickly and accurately transfer the Israeli technical data to the Indian manufacturers. In addition, some of the Indian firms that were to manufacture Barak 8 either misrepresented their capabilities or did not know until it was too late that they did not have the personnel or equipment to handle the manufacturing of Barak 8 components.

U.S. Navy Feared Crappy Russian Aircraft Carrier Might Sink


Now nearly two years after Mediterranean cruise, the decrepit flattop ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ limps back into action
Robert Beckhusen in War is Boring

In December 2011, the Russian navy’s aging, poorly-maintained aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov departed from its northern base on the troubled vessel’s fourth deployment to the Mediterranean Sea.

True, the full-size carrier—which displaces 55,000 tons fully loaded—has a history of mechanical troubles since she entered service in 1991. But her operational tempo had increased, the result of a renewed push by Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin to get the fleet out into the oceans for training and patrols.

To that end, Admiral Kuznetsov has undergone some limited retrofits in recent years and participated in several missions to the Med, so the old vessel had done this kind of thing before.

But as the Kuznetsov rounded Europe and headed towards the Syrian coast, the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet kept close by in case the carrier … sank.

It might be hard to believe, but it’s just one bizarre detail noted by journalist Michael Weiss in a recent essay on Russia’s military expansion.

Admiral Kuznetsov has a problematic history. One seaman died when the carrier caught fire during a 2009 deployment to the Med. During the same cruise, the flattop spilled hundreds of tons of fuel into the sea while refueling. Her steam turbines are so bad the ship has to be escorted by tugs in case she breaks down.

Top Five Fighter Aircraft of All Time

Robert Farley |
December 7, 2013

What are the five greatest fighter aircraft of all time? Like the same question asked of tanks, cars, or rock and roll guitarists, the answer invariably depends on parameters. For example, there are few sets of consistent parameters that would include both the T-34 and the King Tiger among the greatest of all tanks. I know which one I’d like to be driving in a fight, but I also appreciate that this isn’t the most appropriate way to approach the question. Similarly, while I’d love to drive a Porsche 959 to work every morning, I’d be hesitant to list it ahead of the Toyota Corolla on a “best of” compilation.

Nations buy fighter aircraft to resolve national strategic problems, and the aircraft should accordingly be evaluated on their ability to solve or ameliorate these problems. Thus, the motivating question is this: how well did this aircraft help solve the strategic problems of the nations that built or bought it? This question leads to the following points of evaluation:

Fighting characteristics: How did this plane stack up against the competition, including not just other fighters but also bombers and ground installations?

Reliability: Could people count on this aircraft to fight when it needed to, or did it spend more time under repair than in the air?

Cost: What did the organization and the nation have to pay in terms of blood and treasure to make this aircraft fly?

These are the parameters; here are my answers:


In the early era of military aviation, technological innovation moved at such speed that state of the art aircraft became obsolete deathtraps within a year. Engineers in France, Britain, Germany and Italy worked constantly to outpace their competitors, producing new aircraft every year to throw into the fight. The development of operational tactics trailed technology, although the input of the best flyers played an important role in how designers put new aircraft together.