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By Deba Mohanty

The post-mortem has begun on the recent visit of US President Barak Obama to India. Preliminary autopsies suggest a heavy leaning towards optimism and even braggart assertions about the bilateral relations. A fairly balanced assessment, however, will come much later once promises and pronouncements are actually tested on the ground. Obama and his team have emphasised 'shared values, shared benefits and shared vision' between the two great countries. While shared values and visions do exist at the core of two democracies, with varying degree and often complementary, it is worth examining the 'shared benefits', which would put things in larger realistic perspectives.

Shared benefits in this context include expansion and consolidation of trade in civil and military domains, among others. While civil trade is mostly done between companies from both sides with minimal state supervision and intervention, it is the defence trade that is more complex, state-centric and often a casualty of legal procedural complexities as well as strategic considerations. Government approval is necessary even in the most insignificant military item transaction, although bulk of military manufacturing has gone into private hands in most countries.

Prior to Obama's visit, prognostic analyses in India suggested three broad assumptions—rise in American military equipment sales to India, growing company to company collaborations and gradual easing of regulations—apart from India's 'soft power' rise, possible entry into the high table in international affairs and a counter-balancer in Asian geopolitics. It must be mentioned here that the Indian soft power—cultural, historical, ideological and economic—has already been deeply embedded in its larger strategic framework, while a seat in the UNSC will not be easy, whereby US stamp of approval would only be symbolic at best. Counter-balancing act or 'strategic stabiliser' role in geopolitics needs more 'hard power' attributes than 'soft power'. In sum, symbolism seems to have overtaken 'hard business and strategic decisions', especially in the fields of defence trade, between the two countries.

All the three broad assumptions on defence trade are most likely to happen. If one looks at India's arms shopping list, it includes sale of C-130Js, Harpoons, P-8Is, C-17s, GE-414 aero-engines, etc. A reasonable assumption would suggest follow-on orders in most of these equipment and a possible $30 billion plus sale could be in the pipeline for the next five years (excluding $10 billion worth sale already approved). Collaborations with American firms will also increase as companies like Tatas start churning out components of military systems in collaboration with Sikorsky or state-owned HAL in collaboration with GE locally produces the aero-engine required for the LCA programme. Removal of restrictions on many of India's defence scientific labs will pave the way for import of critical components and technologies.

While such assumptions paint a rosy picture, the reality is actually very different. Four scenarios are laid down for further debate. First, the American discomfort on sale of weapons without signing agreements like CISMOA, LSA and BECA is likely to culminate in system acquisition by India that will be without critical support. This poses a challenge to the Indian scientists how to make the systems workable with Indian solutions. Previous experience of avionics and sensor integration to Su-30 by the Indian scientists gives much encouragement in this regard. Second, the American discomfort about Indian 'direct defence offsets' and FDI policies. The Americans would prefer 'indirect' to 'direct' offsets and would be happy if the FDI limit is raised to 49% or beyond. It would be wise on India's part if it carefully refines offsets conditions and resists the demand to raise the FDI limit for the moment as the larger Indian military industrial complex, at the moment dominated by state-owned defence firms, has not yet reached a level of maturity and global competitiveness. Third, we do not know why President Obama used the word 'so-called' entities list when it is 'real'! It will be wise again to wait for a while till the Americans work out on the list and impact of removed restrictions. Bulk of the Indian scientific community is still suspicious, so are many of our military leaders and even some of our pragmatic political leaders on this issue. Last but not the least, while the American decision making works on a composite system through which executive decisions are executed in a relatively fast manner, the Indian system is vertically structured and virtually independent of each other. Thus, the latter not only is a major hindrance to speedy decision making, leading to delays but equally importantly it leaves little accountability if things go wrong. If India wants a workable military industrial partnership with the US, it has to not only bring in reforms in its higher defence management structures but also emphasise collective decision making in an open environment.

Dynamics of military trade have changed from 'arms and influence' during the Cold War era to 'arms and incentives' in current times. If India wants strategic dividends from arms acquisitions, it must craft its acquisition policy in a prudent manner with the aim of bringing in knowledge that necessitates a higher degree of trust with the US. It should go beyond economics to factor in larger strategic considerations as well.

This article was first published the Financial Express on the 22nd November 2010. The author is a senior fellow in security studies at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

 

Editor's note: This is the second installment in a series of special reports that Dr. Friedman will write over the next few weeks as he travels to Turkey, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and Poland. In this series, he will share his observations of the geopolitical imperatives in each country and conclude with reflections on his journey as a whole and options for the United States.

By George Friedman

A borderland is a region where history is constant: Everything is in flux. The countries we are visiting on this trip (Turkey, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Poland) occupy the borderland between Islam, Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. Roman Catholic Hapsburg Austria struggled with the Islamic Ottoman Empire for centuries, with the Ottomans extending northwest until a climactic battle in Vienna in 1683. Beginning in the 18th century, Orthodox Russia expanded from the east, through Belarus and Ukraine. For more than two centuries, the belt of countries stretching from the Baltic to the Black seas was the borderland over which three empires fought.

There have been endless permutations here. The Cold War was the last clear-cut confrontation, pitting Russia against a Western Europe backed — and to a great extent dominated — by the United States. This belt of countries was firmly if informally within the Soviet empire. Now they are sovereign again. My interest in the region is to understand more clearly how the next iteration of regional geopolitics will play out. Russia is far more powerful than it was 10 years ago. The European Union is undergoing internal stress and Germany is recalculating its position. The United States is playing an uncertain and complex game. I want to understand how the semicircle of powers, from Turkey to Poland, are thinking about and positioning themselves for the next iteration of the regional game.

I have been accused of thinking like an old Cold warrior. I don't think that's true. The Soviet Union has collapsed, and U.S. influence in Europe has declined. Whatever will come next will not be the Cold War. What I do not expect this to be is a region of perpetual peace. It has never been that before. It will not be that in the future. I want to understand the pattern of conflict that will occur in the future. But for that we need to begin in the past, not with the Cold War, but with World War I.

Read more...  

By Ben West

Indian Maoist militants, known as Naxalites, have been meeting with members of the outlawed Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), according to the director-general of police for India's Chhattisgarh state. Based on information from a police source, state police chief Vishwa Ranjan said Nov. 11 that two LeT operatives attended a Naxalite meeting in April or May. While their presence at the meeting still needs to be corroborated, the chief said, it appears very likely that the Naxalites held the meeting to adopt a new policy and plans for increasing "armed resistance" in order to seize political power in India.

Indian authorities are using the alleged meeting between LeT operatives and Naxalites as evidence that Pakistan is trying to forge relationships with the Naxalites, which India has long suspected. India blamed the LeT for the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2001 parliament attack. For the Indian public, LeT also has become synonymous with Pakistani intelligence operations. The group that Indian officials refer to as "LeT," however, is no longer an ally of Pakistan and has changed so much in recent years that we have started to refer to it and similar groups as "neo-LeT".

Before this latest accusation, Indian officials implicated at least six other militant groups in Naxalite activities (with varying degrees of Pakistani support). Linking the estimated 10,000-strong Naxalites to militant groups backed by Pakistan, India's main geopolitical rival and primary source of external security threats, creates a "nightmare" scenario for India. Indeed, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has labeled the Naxalites "the biggest internal security challenge" to India. Taken at face value, reports of such an alliance lead to visions of well-trained, well-disciplined Naxal militants expanding their near-daily attacks on low-level rural targets in eastern India (known as the "Red Corridor") to political and high-tech targets in Calcutta, Hyderabad or even New Delhi. But such visions are alarmist and do not reflect the true nature of the very limited Pakistani-Naxalite relationship.

STRATFOR has watched Indian officials link Pakistan to the Naxalites before, but we have yet to see significant changes on the ground that would give any credence to the scenario outlined above. Many Indian officials are equally insistent that no connections exist between Naxalites and Pakistan. Although the Naxalites have provided rhetorical support for Kashmiri (and other anti-Indian groups') opposition to New Delhi over the past year, there has been little action to back up the rhetoric. The Indians have long feared that outside powers would manipulate grassroots groups in India and further destabilize an already regionalized country. When the Naxalite movement began in the 1960s, New Delhi feared Beijing was trying to get a foothold in India, and for the past 50 years India has demonized Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) for allegedly supporting militant operations in India.

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By Eugene Chausovsky

Tajikistan's military continues to conduct security sweeps in the Rasht Valley in the eastern part of the country to catch roughly two dozen high-profile Islamist militants who escaped from a Dushanbe prison in August. The chairman of Tajikistan's State National Security Committee announced Nov. 9 that these special operations have been successful and would soon be completed. However, the Tajik military has announced it will retain its presence there, and the Defense Ministry is setting up special training centers from which to base operations into the mountainous region surrounding the Rasht Valley.

These security sweeps began just over two months ago, and there are conflicting accounts of how successful they have been in rounding up the militants. Tajik military and government spokesmen have said that most of the escapees have been either captured or killed and that roughly 80 Tajik soldiers have been killed hunting them down. However, Tajik media have given higher estimates of the number of military casualties, and STRATFOR sources in Central Asia have said the number of deaths and injuries in various firefights might actually be closer to a few hundred. The region's remoteness and the sensitive nature of the security operations have made such reports difficult to verify.

The very purpose of these security operations has also been called into question within the country and the wider region. The official reason for the sweeps is to round up the escaped militants, but according to STRATFOR sources, preparations for these special operations in the Rasht Valley were being made long before the jailbreak. There are also unconfirmed reports that none of the escapees were from the Rasht Valley, and while the valley's mountainous terrain does make it a good location to seek refuge, it does not guarantee that locals there would willingly harbor the fugitives. The security forces' ultimate goal could center on growing concerns that remnants of a previously key regional militant group — the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — could be regaining strength in the country.

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By Scott Stewart

The Oct. 29 discovery of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) inside two packages shipped from Yemen launched a widespread search for other devices, and more than two dozen suspect packages have been tracked down so far. Some have been trailed in dramatic fashion, as when two U.S. F-15 fighter aircraft escorted an Emirates Air passenger jet Oct. 29 as it approached and landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. To date, however, no other parcels have been found to contain explosive devices.

The two parcels that did contain IEDs were found in East Midlands, England, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and both appear to have been sent by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda's jihadist franchise in Yemen. As we've long discussed, AQAP has demonstrated a degree of creativity in planning its attacks and an intent to attack the United States. It has also demonstrated the intent to attack aircraft, as evidenced by the failed Christmas Day bombing in 2009 involving Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to detonate an explosive device concealed in his underwear on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

A tactical analysis of the latest attempt suggests that the operation was not quite as creative as past attempts, though it did come very close to achieving its primary objective, which in this case (apparently) was to destroy aircraft. It does not appear that the devices ultimately were intended to be part of an attack against the Jewish institutions in the United States to which the parcels were addressed. Although the operation failed in its primary mission (taking down aircraft) it was successful in its secondary mission, which was to generate worldwide media coverage and sow fear and disruption in the West.

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By Scott Stewart

The drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq has served to shift attention toward Afghanistan, where the United States has been increasing its troop strength in hopes of forming conditions conducive to a political settlement. This is similar to the way it used the 2007 surge in Iraq to help reach a negotiated settlement with the Sunni insurgents that eventually set the stage for withdrawal there. As we've discussed elsewhere, the Taliban at this point do not feel the pressure required for them to capitulate or negotiate and therefore continue to follow their strategy of surviving and waiting for the coalition forces to depart so that they can again make a move to assume control over Afghanistan.

Indeed, with the United States having set a deadline of July 2011 to begin the drawdown of combat forces in Afghanistan — and with many of its NATO allies withdrawing sooner — the Taliban can sense that the end is near. As they wait expectantly for the departure of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan, a look at the history of militancy in Afghanistan provides a bit of a preview of what could follow the U.S. withdrawal.

Read more...  

By Scott Stewart

Sept. 11, 2010, the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, was a day of solemn ceremony, remembrance and reflection. It was also a time to consider the U.S. reaction to the attack nine years ago, including the national effort to destroy al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in order to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks. Of course, part of the U.S. reaction to 9/11 was the decision to invade Afghanistan, and the 9/11 anniversary also provided a time to consider how the United States is now trying to end its Afghanistan campaign so that it can concentrate on more pressing matters elsewhere.

The run-up to the anniversary also saw what could have been an attempted terrorist attack in another Western country. On Sept. 10 in Denmark, a potential bombing was averted by the apparent accidental detonation of an improvised explosive device in a bathroom at a Copenhagen hotel. The Danish authorities have not released many details of the incident, but it appears that the suspect may have been intending to target the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which has been targeted in the past because it published cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed in 2005. Groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have tried hard to ensure that the anger over the cartoon issue does not die down, and it apparently has not. It is important to note that even if the perpetrator had not botched it, the plot — at least as we understand it so far — appears to have involved a simple attack plan and would not have resulted in a spectacular act of terrorism.

Yet in spite of the failed attack in Denmark and all the 9/11 retrospection, perhaps the most interesting thing about the 9/11 anniversary in 2010, at least from an analytical perspective, was what did not happen. For the first time, the al Qaeda core leadership did not issue a flurry of slick, media-savvy statements to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And the single statement they did release was not nearly as polished or pointed as past anniversary messages. This has caused us to pause, reflect and wonder if the al Qaeda leadership is losing its place at the ideological forefront of the jihadist cause.

When it comes to anniversaries, al Qaeda has not always seized upon them as opportunities for attacks, but it has long seen them as tempting propaganda opportunities. This first began in September 2002, when the group released numerous messages in a multitude of forms to coincide with the first anniversary of 9/11. These included a one-hour video titled "The Nineteen Martyrs," referring to the 9/11 attackers; a book released by al-Ansar media telling the story of the 9/11 attacks; an audio tape from al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri; a statement from al Qaeda's "Political Bureau"; and a statement from al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. Then, on Oct. 7, 2002, Al Qaeda released a message from Osama bin Laden to the American people to commemorate the first anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

Read more...  

By Deba R. Mohanty

The time to unveil India's new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP – 2010), an official document on procedural aspects of defence procurement guidelines, is round the corner once again. While the MoD mandarins are engaged in giving final touches to the document by taking inputs from stakeholders from within the government as well as outside (like FICCI, CII, and others), it is time for an informed debate on what is considered as one of the most complex issues that the Indian defence sector has been facing from time to time.

Efforts to streamline the otherwise cumbersome defence procurement process have been going on especially since the Indian defence sector opened up for private participation in 2002. Consider this: the DPP has been revised six times, including an addendum officially announced in late October 2009, in the last eight years. The Defence Minister periodically reminds us that this is still an evolving document. Even though the review of DPP is to be taken up every two years as envisaged (No. 76, DPP-2008, p. 21), it appears that 'change' has become 'constant' at the cost of practicable inputs being injected into the document, where as it should have actually been other way round.

Autopsies of the previous DPPs have brought out some interesting insights. First, despite tall claims to reduce the time frame of acquisition process, the MoD has neither been able to reduce the number of stages of evaluation process (eleven in total, from laying down services quality requirements to post-contract management) nor do any thing that can entail positive impacts. Although specific timelines have been earmarked for each stage of the process, scope for delay has also been provided under special conditions which the vendors can take advantage of. The on-going acquisition process for 126 medium multi-role fighters (MMRCA) serves as a case in point.

Second, the central objectives of DPP revolve round ensuring expeditious procurement, sticking to prescribed time frame, demonstrating highest degree of accountability, transparency and fair competition (No. 2, DPP-2008, p. 1). Let's pick two key words 'transparency' and 'fair competition' from the text and pit them vis-à-vis available evidences. At least four major defence deals, including the multi-billion dollar 197 helicopters, have been cancelled in recent times, causing negative consequences for the ongoing military modernization programme. Official explanations often times point to 'technical reasons' in cancellation of such deals. Last two years have also witnessed close to half a dozen defence deals with a single country (read the US) through what is known as 'inter-government agreements' facilitated through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route. At least USD 9 billion worth of weapons, including big ticket items like C-130J Hercules, P-8I maritime aircraft and the most recently agreed Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), have not only surpassed competitive bidding route but being purchased with little or no benefit to the Indian industry. While adequate explanations to the Indian Parliament must be treated as a norm to ensure transparency in defence acquisitions, 'fast track' or even single vendor situations in defence deals must also be explained to the Indian public and perhaps a clause to lay down norms for 'competition' must be framed to discourage 'single vendor' situation. 'Strategic considerations' (No. 73, DPP-2008, p. 21) clause at the same time must be carefully used to suit Indian interests.

Third, inclusion of new features like offsets including banking, ToT conditions, 'buy and make' (Indian) and FDI have been propagated, especially by the bureaucrats and grudgingly supported by the industry, as beneficial to the Indian industry are increasingly been proved ill-thought-out and impractical. Braggart assertion by the MoD that offsets have brought nearly Rs 8,000 crore worth of work to India with Rs 48,000 crore in pipeline are in paper only and one does not know the real value of offsets as details are beyond the reach of any analyst. ToT conditions are yet to be defined properly, forget their future worth. Buy and make procedure has thus far not benefited the Indian industry in any manner, even the Raksha Udyog Ratnas are yet to be officially announced while the DPP still has a section devoted to selection of the same (Appendix C, DPP-2008, pp 164 – 75)! Increase in FDI in defence from 26 to 74 as proposed by a discussion paper prepared by the DIPP, Ministry of Commerce, has found support without credible justifications from most quarters, except for FICCI which wants it to remain at 26 percent.

In sum, most of the new features seem to have been added without much homework and the results are there for all to see. Many more issues need to be debated, however, suffice to add the end note here: its time to change the 'constant' with cosmetic changes and inject pragmatic ideas instead.

The author is a Senior Fellow in Security Studies at Observer Research Foundation.

 

By George Friedman

Bob Woodward has released another book, this one on the debate over Afghanistan strategy in the Obama administration. As all his books do, the book has riveted Washington. It reveals that intense debate occurred over what course to take, that the president sought alternative strategies and that compromises were reached. But while knowing the details of these things is interesting, what would have been shocking is if they hadn't taken place.

It is interesting to reflect on the institutional inevitability of these disagreements. The military is involved in a war. It is institutionally and emotionally committed to victory in the theater of combat. It will demand all available resources for executing the war under way. For a soldier who has bled in that war, questioning the importance of the war is obscene. A war must be fought relentlessly and with all available means.

But while the military's top generals and senior civilian leadership are responsible for providing the president with sound, clearheaded advice on all military matters including the highest levels of grand strategy, they are ultimately responsible for the pursuit of military objectives to which the commander-in-chief directs them. Generals must think about how to win the war they are fighting. Presidents must think about whether the war is worth fighting. The president is responsible for America's global posture. He must consider what an unlimited commitment to a particular conflict might mean in other regions of the world where forces would be unavailable.

A president must take a more dispassionate view than his generals. He must calculate not only whether victory is possible but also the value of the victory relative to the cost. Given the nature of the war in Afghanistan, U.S. President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus — first the U.S. Central Command chief and now the top commander in Afghanistan — had to view it differently. This is unavoidable. This is natural. And only one of the two is ultimately in charge.

Read more...  

The UK Defence Forum is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2010 Tim Garden Essay Competition is Rikke Haugegaard.

Rikke's essay, entitled 'Female power: the role of Afghan women in counter insurgency', is now published on the UK Defence Forum website www.ukdf.org.uk . She explores how local women can contribute to the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan and how ISAF and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan can gain terrain by building alliances with local women.

Rikke Haugegaard holds a Master degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Copenhagen, and a PgCert in Information Operations from Cranfield University, Faculty of Defence and Security. Rikke is a Cultural Awareness instructor in the Danish Army and police, and has been conducting pre-deployment training of primarily CIMIC officers in Canada, Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Sweden. She has been doing research on Afghanistan for the Royal Danish Defence College, and her research interest is post-conflict reconstruction and the role of women in global security. Rikke Haugegaard is the owner of the consultancy firm Understanding Culture.

Two other entrants were highly commended:

James Clinch for 'Between change and continuity: Western cultural memory and 21st Century security.'

Ian Shields for 'Security or insecurity,'

Both have been published on Defence Viewpoints www.defenceviewpoints.co.uk .

James Clinch is studying for an MSc in International Relations at the LSE, and was previously awarded first class honours in Political Science from the University of Melbourne. Between graduating high school and starting university James took several years out to travel, and has explored many remote corners of Asia. In 2007 he did an internship with the International Crisis Group, in Pakistan, working on a report about madrassas in Karachi, and is currently an intern at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, London.

Ian Shields is a retired RAF Group Captain and is now studying for a doctorate in International Relations at Cambridge University where his thesis will be on the impact of Globalisation on Civil-Military Relations. He has lectured and been extensively published on Air and Space Power and in his final RAF tour he authored the 2009 Future Air and Space Operational Concept, looking forward 20 years; his other academic interest is in strategic thinking.

The chairman of the judging panel, Baroness Garden of Frognal, said:

"Tim once wrote 'corruption undermines the relationship between officialdom and the citizen, and is an attack on democracy. Thus when we claim a role in promoting democratic values around the world we have a special responsibility to prevent corruption.'

"Rikke points out that in Afghanistan, corruption is widespread. Local women have only limited access to resources because they are not part of the drug trade network and associated corruption dominated by local warlords and the Taliban. Education of local women in good governance would help to move towards a society less dominated by corruption and the opium trade, thereby achieving the aims of a wide range of supporters of intervention, which has so far cost over 300 British, 1000 American and other allies' lives.

"Rikke has not only 'talked the talk' she is 'walking the walk' by training Danish forces who are serving alongside British forces in Helmand, both in Denmark and in Afghanistan.

"The standard of entries was very high, and the competition a close run thing – as witness the joint runners-up I highly commended. Entries from more than ten universities have encouraged us to start thinking about the 2011 essay competition already."

 
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