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India

Since the 28th May the United States has carried out seven unmanned airstrikes:

June 10th: U.S. unmanned aircraft targeted a 'sprawling compound' in the village of Norak, North Waziristan, killing three suspected terrorists. Whilst the compound was known to be used by the Taliban no senior figures were reported killed. However on June 17th the Long War Journal reported that two al Qaeda commanders and a Turkish fighter were killed in this attack. The al Qaida casualties were confirmed as Sheikh Inshanullah, an 'Arab al Qaeda commander' and Ibrahim, commander of the Fursan-i-Mohammed Group. All three deaths were confirmed in a statement from Taifatul Mansura Group, a Turkish jihadist organisation operating along the Af-Pak border.

June 11th: Unmanned aircraft attacked two villages in North Waziristan. The airstrike targeted targeted Taliban safe houses in the villages of Bahader Khel and Khaddi, killing eleven and four terrorists respectively. Three 'foreigners' were reported killed in Bahader Khel, and two in Khaddi. The term 'foreigner' is used by Pakistani security forces to describe Arab or Central Asian al Qaida operatives.  No senior al Qaeda or Taliban figures were reported killed at this time.

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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.

 

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 Fred Burton and Ben West

On July 6, the Indian government issued a warning to railroad operators and users after Maoist rebels — known as Naxalites — declared a "bandh," a Hindi word meaning threat of attack, in eastern India. When a bandh is declared by the Naxalites, it means they have declared open season on a particular target set, in this case the public transportation system over a two-day period. It is widely understood that trains and buses in eastern India during this time would be subject to Naxalite attack.

Naxalites are an array of armed bands that, when combined, comprise the militant arm of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-M). Some of the most violent attacks conducted by the Naxalites have been against freight and police transport trains, killing dozens of people at a time. Civilians have typically not been targeted in such attacks, but they have been collaterally killed and injured in the mayhem. Whether targeted or not, civilians generally believe that Naxalites always follow through on their threats, so strike warnings are enough to dissuade people from going about their daily lives. The Naxalite "bandh" is a tactic that shows just how powerful the rebels have become in the region, and it demonstrates their ability to affect day-to-day activity merely by threatening to stage an attack.

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By Peter Zeihan

In recent weeks, STRATFOR has explored how the U.S. government has been seeing its interests in the Middle East and South Asia shift. When it comes down to it, the United States is interested in stability at the highest level — a sort of cold equilibrium among the region's major players that prevents any one of them, or a coalition of them — from overpowering the others and projecting power outward.

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By Guy Birks

The dissolution of the bipolar bloc system that broadly defined and framed the purpose of modern armed forces in the West has been supplanted by a more integrated and interdependent international environment. The purpose of modern armed forces has consequently been altered and adjusted to fit the changing nature of international relations. The principle of sovereignty has shifted from a position of inviolability to one where the international community can become involved in the internal affairs of a state and a region if it is deemed that a state poses a threat to international stability. Intervention in Somalia, Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan are examples of the proactive, expeditionary defence against instability. The direct defence of the homeland as a strategic premise and priority for Britain and the United States has been replaced by a concern to defend against instability through expeditionary intervention. The focus of defence now resolves around the shift from a conventional all-embrasive threat towards the expeditionary defence against unconventional threats from failing or failed states.   However, the examples of India and China - key geostrategic states with prominent armed forces – indicate that defending against instability frequently involves activities which protect and defend the homeland and its immediate locale.

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The UK Defence Forum has published the abovementioned regional study. The paper was written by Research Associate Adam Dempsey.

The paper can be viewed here.

 

By Scott Stewart

On Saturday, Sept. 19, the Indonesian National Police announced that a DNA test has positively identified a man killed Sept. 17 as Noordin Mohammad Top. Top was killed in a raid on a safe-house in the outskirts of Solo, Central Java, that resulted in a prolonged firefight between Indonesian authorities and militants. Police said four militants were killed in the incident and three more were taken into custody. (Two of them were arrested before the raid.) Authorities also recovered a large quantity of explosives during the raid that they believe the militant group was preparing to use in an attack on Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

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By Cindy May

Following the September 11th attacks, the United States and the coalition forces have fostered an alliance with Pakistan that has included over 11 billion dollars (USD) in defence aid. Given that may Al Qaeda and Taliban members have relocated to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the North Western Frontier Province, Pakistan's cooperation is critical to coalition efforts in Afghanistan. However, Pakistan has a long history of connections with the Taliban and other extremist groups in the region. Pakistan, along with the United States, provided logistical, training, and financial support to the mujahedeen in its fight against the Soviet Union. Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops, many of these mujahedeen fighters merged into what became the Taliban, and Pakistan continued its close relationship with the group.

Pakistan has pledged its support for the War on Terrorism and publicly denounced terrorism. Nevertheless numerous reports from Western intelligence agencies and from Taliban leaders indicate that Pakistan, especially its Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), has not given up its ties to these groups and is in fact still closely working with the Afghani Taliban and other insurgents in the region. This poses many problems and security risks for coalition countries and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Consequently, Pakistan and its surreptitious activities have become a security threat that coalition countries can no longer afford to ignore.

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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.

 
 

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