16 November 2013

East African Infrastructure Development, Part 2: The Northern Corridor


Editor's Note: This is a four-part series on the development of transport infrastructure in East Africa. The region is looking to expand its economy and increase international trade as it becomes a seemingly attractive destination for low-end manufacturing. Part 2 examines how such economic growth will necessitate the expansion and improvement of the Northern Corridor transport route. 

East African countries naturally compete for foreign investment and economic development. Transport capabilities attract such investments, but cooperation to further develop capabilities and guarantee a certain degree of efficiency has proved necessary to continue to entice critical investments. The region's Northern Corridor continues to draw greater development financing than its Central Corridor because of its heavier traffic. Moreover, the Northern Corridor has always been the most active and reliable corridor in the region, even if it is not terribly efficient. This competition has generated frictions between Tanzania and East African countries along the Northern Corridor as Tanzania works to catch up and position itself as a credible alternative to Kenya while Kenya scrambles for the financing to further develop its infrastructure and secure its regional position. 


Among transport routes in the East African Community, the largest share of goods pass through the Northern Corridor, which connects the Kenyan port city of Mombasa to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The route is a remnant of the colonial era, when the British sought to link the Great Lakes region to the Kenyan coast. Today, the transport artery is constrained in its efficiency and capacity, though not as much as the Central Corridor, which runs primarily through Tanzania. The Northern Corridor is particularly important as it passes through the most economically active area of East Africa -- especially the area north of Lake Victoria, which is home to the main concentration of East African agriculture, still the biggest sector in the region by far. Recently, such factors have helped attract complementary investments along the route, further increasing its importance. 

As with the Central Corridor, most transport on the Northern Corridor is road-based. The main rail connection, which runs east to west through Kenya and into Uganda, would need to be refurbished or replaced to relieve some of the traffic burden on Northern Corridor roads. While transport by rail is cheaper and -- theoretically, at least -- faster than by road, the line is unreliable and beset with frequent delays. 

The steel giant

November 15, 2013

To sum it up, a total of 234 new hull sections were fabricated using 2,500 tonnes of steel which is almost equivalent to the standard displacement of a mid-size frigate. Repair and re-equipping of Vikramaditya to give a new lease of life as a full- fledged carrier was no mean task and was probably as demanding a task as constructing a similar tonnage ship from the drawing board. The task was enabled by the expertise and experience of the Russian designers and yard workers working hand in glove with Indian experts. The extreme cold weather conditions of winter only made the work environment harder.

At the end of this refit, spanning a little short of a decade, Vikramaditya has metamorphosed into a fully capable and potent platform

Rise of the Phoenix

Vikramaditya sailed for the first time under own power at 12 pm hrs on June 10, 2012, after a gap of about 17 years

The new avtar ‘Vikramaditya

An aircraft carrier carrying potent long range multi-role fighters is a platform inherently deigned for power projection. In as much as ‘Gorshkov’ was transformed to create ‘Vikramaditya’, so also Vikramaditya will transform the face of the fleet air arm of the Indian Navy.

STOBAR Carrier
Displacement: 44,500 T
Length OA: 284 m
Maximum Beam: 60 m
Speed: over 30 kts
4 propellers
powered by 8 Boilers,

Aircraft component: MiG 29K, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Seaking, ALH, Cheetah

Vikramaditya, the floating airfield has an overall length of about 284 meters and a maximum beam of about 60 meters, stretching as much as three football fields put together. Standing about 20 storeys tall from keel to the highest point, the sheer sight of this 44,500 tonnes mega structure of steel is awe inspiring. The ship has a total of 22 decks.

With over 1,600 personnel on board, Vikramaditya is literally a ‘FloatingCity’. Associated with this large population is a mammoth logistics requirement -- nearly a lakh of eggs, 20,000 litres of milk and 16 tonnes of rice per month. With her complete stock of provisions, she is capable of sustaining herself at sea for a period of about 45 days. With a capacity of over 8,000 tonnes of LSHSD, she is capable of operations up to a range of over 7,000 nautical miles or 13,000 kms.

To enable this 44,500 tonnes floating steel city to cut through the choppy seas with speeds of up to 30 knots, she is powered by 08 new generation boilers of steam capacity of 100 TPH at a very high pressure of 64 bars, generating a total output power of 180,000 SHP. Vikramaditya heralds in a new generation of boiler technology with a very high level of automation. These high pressure and highly efficient boilers power four enormous propellers, each greater in diameter than twice the height of an average male. Such a four propeller -- four shaft configuration is another first in the Indian Navy.

A peek at the scope of work

November 15, 2013

Creation of the ski jump

Creation of the flight deck with structural modification to convert the VTOL carrier to a STOBAR carrier was the most intricate and arduous. The task involved installation of Sponsons to increase the breadth at the flight deck and a fitment of a new 14 degree ski jump, strengthening of arresting gear area, strengthening of run way area and elongation of the aft end to generate the required length of landing strip aft of the arresting gear. In all 234 new hull sections were installed to achieve the desired shape. Total steel work for carrying out structural modification on flight deck amounted to 2,500T.

Modification of super structure

The superstructure was modified to accommodate a host of sensors and equipment such as radars, electronic warfare suite and action information organisation system and other systems to suit the requirements of ship borne fighters and rotors. A very unique structural modification that was carried out on board the ship was the installation of the aft mast for accommodating various communication antennae.

Machinery Modification

Vikramaditya in its older avatar was powered by boilers fuelled by heavy oil. The re-equipping included replacement of these old boilers with state of the art boilers utilizing LSHSD and providing a steam capacity of 100 tonnes per hour each.

Electrical re-cabling

The initial estimate included replacement of only 1,400 kms of old cable with new cables. However, as degutting progressed and confined spaces were accessed it was realised that an additional 900 kilometres of cable will need to be replaced. Finally the mammoth task involved replacing 2,300 kilometres of cable, which is a little short of half of the entire coastline of India.


The modification plan of Vikramaditya was not restricted to the gears and sparks alone. The change also necessitated revamp of the living spaces and galleys to cater to the needs of the Indian men in uniform. Of 2,500 a total of 1,750 compartments were completely re-fabricated. A host of new galley equipment suited for preparation of Indian food such as dosas and chapatis was also installed.

Arrestor and restraining gears

The conversion of VTOL carrier to STOBAR involved fitment of three 30m wide arrester gears and three restraining gears. Installation of these equipment not only involved modification and strengthening of the flight deck but also changes to internal layout of compartments.

Why it will be the game changer for the Indian Navy

November 15, 2013

The six turbo alternators and six diesel alternators onboard generate a total electricity of 18 megawatts to power various equipment of the ship, enough to cater to the lighting requirement of a mini city. The ship also houses two reverse osmosis plants providing an uninterrupted supply of 400 tonnes per day of fresh water.

An extensive revamp of sensors including fitment of long range air surveillance radars, advanced electronic warfare suite makes the ship capable of maintaining a surveillance bubble of over 500 kiklometres around the ship.

The ship has the ability to carry over 30 aircraft comprising an assortment of MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters. The MiG 29K swing role fighter is the main offensive platform and provides a quantum jump for the Indian Navy’s maritime strike capability. These fourth generation air superiority fighters provide a significant fillip for the Indian Navy with a range of over 700 nm (extendable to over 1,900 nm with inflight refueling) and an array of weapons including anti-ship missiles, BeyondVisualRange air-to-air missiles, guided bombs and rockets.

The ship is equipped with state of the art launch and recovery systems along with aids to enable smooth and efficient operation of ship borne aircraft. Major systems include the LUNA Landing system for MiGs, DAPS Landing system for Sea Harriers and Flight deck lighting systems.

The heart of the operational network that infuses life into the combat systems onboard the ship is the Computer aided Action Information Organisation system, LESORUB-E. LESORUB has the capability to gather data from ship’s sensors and data links and to process, collate and assemble comprehensive tactical pictures. This state of the art system has been specifically designed keeping in mind the essential requirement on the carrier for fighter control and direction.

One of the most prominent equipment fitted on the super structure is the Resistor-E radar complex. Resistor-E is the automated system designed for providing air traffic control, approach/landing and short range navigation for ship borne aircraft. This complex along with its various sub-systems provides navigation and flight data to ship borne aircraft operating at extended ranges from the mother ship. The precision approach guidance system aids the fighters on approach to be directed down to a distance of 30 meters short of flight deck. Vikramaditya also boasts of a very modern communication complex, CCS MK II, to meet her external communication requirement. Installation of Link II tactical data system allows her to be fully integrated with the Indian Navy’s network centric operations.

Once integrated, INS Vikramaditya will bring transformational capabilities to the Indian Navy and will be a ‘game changer’.

The Journey of Admiral Gorshkov (nee Baku)

November 15, 2013

The journey of ‘Vikramaditya’ began as the Kiev class aircraft carrying cruiser ‘Baku’. Developed from the Moskva class helicopter carrying guided missile cruisers the Kiev class was a pioneering Soviet era design, featuring a flight deck arrangement capable of operating fixed wing VTOL fighters for the first time in the Soviet Navy. Baku was constructed by Chernomorsky Ship Building Enterprise, Nikolayev (now in Ukraine).

About 400 enterprises and nearly 1,500- 2,000 workers from different republics of USSR took part in building of the ship. The ship was commissioned on 20 Dec 1987. Conceived as an armed cruiser, Baku was heavily armed with twelve Anti-Ship Missile launchers, ten gun mounts of differing calibre and rocket launchers and depth charges. The air element comprised Yak-38 aircraft.

‘Baku’ was envisioned to be a full-fledged aircraft carrier by Admiral SG Gorshkov, however, due to conflicting dynamics at that time, the ship turned out as the last ‘compromise’ ship of the Kiev series. After her development and construction, it became clear to the Soviet leadership that the vision of Admiral Gorshkov of a classical aircraft carrier with ship borne aircraft as the primary weapons was indeed the most logical way ahead to develop the surface forces. On November 7, 1990, the ship was named after Admiral Sergey Georgiyevich Gorshkov.

Baku/Admiral Gorshkov began its active operational service with the northern fleet and was deployed in the Mediterranean Sea and remained in active service till 1992 and thereafter continued in service albeit with limited operational deployments. The ship was finally decommissioned in 1996.

The transformation

Admiral Gorshkov was put in hibernation after her last sailing in 1995. With most of her equipment lying un-utilised since then, the task of breathing life and converting her from a Vertical Takeoff and Landing missile cruiser carrier to a STOBAR aircraft carrier involved substantial degutting, equipment removal, refit and re-equipping. The major works envisaged were modification of flight deck to include ski-jump and arrester gear; modification of bulbous bow, aft aircraft lift and ammunition lifts; modification of 1,750 out of 2,500 compartments; installation of new main boilers; installation of new and additional Diesel Generators; replacement of existing distilling plants; fitment of reverse osmosis plants, new AC plants and refrigeration plants and installation of new sensors and equipment. In 2007, as the refit and repair of the ship was in progress, the yard realised that the scope of work was much larger than initially estimated and so a revised timeline for completion of the task of modernization was agreed upon by both Russian and Indian sides. With a revised timeline the delivery of ship was expected by end 2012.

All you wanted to know about INS Vikramaditya

November 15, 2013

Two days before the Indian Navy's biggest acquisition ever, INS Vikramaditya is inducted in the service in Russia, here's a background note on its long, chequered journey from an abandoned decrepit Russian aircraft carrier to what the Navy says, a 'game changer' in Asia.

For almost a decade, India had two aircraft carriers and the Indian Navy was fully cognisant of the criticality of having an aircraft carrier available for deployment on each seaboard to fulfil the navy’s assigned tasks. In recognition of the importance of aircraft carriers, the Indian Navy had already started exploring the possibility of indigenously designing and constructing an aircraft carrier, this project took off in right earnest in the late 90s as the air defence ship was conceived. However, given the long gestation period of such projects, the search for a replacement for INS Vikrant gained momentum as its decommissioning drew closer.

It was at this juncture that Russia offered Admiral Gorshkov to the Indian Navy. Negotiations over acquiring the 44,500 ton Admiral Gorshkov started in 1994. Various high level delegations who had assessed the ship had independently concluded that the ship’s hull was in good material state and would be worth considering for exploitation in the Indian Navy with a suitable mix of aircraft.

After detailed negotiations the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in Dec 1998 during a visit by Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. The Inter-Governmental Agreement which included acquisition of Project 11430 (Admiral Gorshkov) was signed between the Federation of Russia and the Union Government of India on October 4, 2000. After a Detailed Project Development Review, contractual negotiations and thereafter price negotiations, the government approved the acquisition on 17 Jan 04 at a cost of Rs 4,881.67 Cr for the complete package of R&R of the ship, spares, infrastructure augmentation and documentation. The deal was signed on 20 Jan 04 and the effective date of the contract was established as Feb 24, 2004. The R&R of the ship commenced from April 9, 2004.

The repair and refit was being undertaken by FSUE Sevmash, the state owned shipyard at Severodvinsk, Russia. The R&R was scheduled to have been completed within 52 months. Though the refurbishment process was started in right earnest, soon it was realized that the work and equipment requiring replacement was significantly higher than originally estimated. Entire length of cable, large portions of steel hull, motors, turbines and boilers, etc. would have to be completely replaced with resulting in cost escalation and time slippage.


Nehru’s reservations about a narrow form of nationalism

There are two episodes in that book that have stayed with me. One is Tenzing’s sadness at reading that in his own memoir, Edmund Hillary had insisted that he, not Tenzing, had placed the first step on the summit of Everest. Hillary had even claimed that the Sherpa had to be hauled up the last stretch by the burly New Zealander. Tenzing contrasted the arrogant paternalism — shading into racism — of Hillary with his favourite climbing partner, the Swiss Raymond Lambert, who had treated him as a friend and equal.

The other story I remember is of the vexed question of Tenzing’s nationality. Before the summer of 1953, his identities were those of a father, husband and climber. But once he had reached the top of Everest, four nations wanted a slice of him. Since he had spent his early years in Nepal, the Nepalese claimed he was one of them. Since he was now based in Darjeeling, the Indian press insisted that he was an Indian. Since he was a Buddhist whose community looked in a spiritual sense towards Lhasa, he was also claimed by the Tibetans. Since Tibet itself was now a province — or colony — of China, the Communist regime in Beijing said that the first man to climb Everest was actually a Chinese proletarian.

In his memoir, Tenzing responded with a wry bewilderment. He had always thought of himself as a simple Sherpa, but now he was being asked to choose — was he Nepali, Indian, Tibetan or Chinese?

I remembered Tenzing’s autobiography when reading Jawaharlal Nehru’s Letters to Chief Ministers. As prime minister, Nehru wrote these letters every fortnight, communicating his views and the policies of his government to those in charge in the states. They were edited for publication in the 1980s by the scholar-diplomat G. Parthasarathi, and remain a valuable resource for historians.

In his letter to chief ministers of July 2, 1953, Nehru wrote: “The final ascent of Everest has been a great achievement in which all of us should take pride. Here again there has been great pettiness and the narrowest type of nationalism shown by some people. Controversies have arisen as to whether Tenzing got there first or Hillary, and whether Tenzing is an Indian national or a Nepalese national. I was amazed to learn of these disputes and the excitement shown over them. It does not make the slightest difference to anybody whether Tenzing first reached the top or Hillary. Neither could have done so without the help of the other. Indeed, both of them could not have done so without the help of the whole party, and if I may take the idea a little further, the whole party could not have done so without the accumulated experience, labour and sacrifice of all their predecessors who tried to reach the top of Everest. Great human achievements are always the result of combined endeavours in which numerous people take part. It may be that one person takes the last step, but the other persons also count and should not be forgotten. For us to show a narrow and deplorable nationalism in such matters is not to add to the credit of our country but to lead people to think that we are petty in outlook and suffering from some kind of inferiority complex.”

Strategic Autonomy

C. Raja Mohan : Fri Nov 15 2013


China won't like it." That has been a consistent refrain of the UPA government and the Congress party in shaping India's recent foreign policy. New Delhi's self-induced fear of provoking China has restricted the pursuit of beneficial engagement with other major powers and Asian neighbours. India's self-denial is hardly consistent with its proclamations on "strategic autonomy". But it is no secret that the UPA and the Congress deploy the argument of "strategic autonomy" only against the United States.

You don't have to be a genius to figure out that it is China's rising power that constricts Delhi's strategic policy in the subcontinent and the Indian Ocean. Even on the world stage, it is China that has made it difficult for India to pursue its aspirations. Beijing tried to block Delhi's historic civil nuclear initiative with Washington that sought to lift three and a half decades of international nuclear sanctions against India. China has also been the only permanent member of the UNSC that is unwilling to support India's membership of this exclusive club. Yet the Congress party wants Delhi to remain "equidistant" from Washington and Beijing.

The wide divergence between India and China does not mean Delhi should limit its engagement with Beijing. On the contrary, the rise of China demands Delhi intensify its cooperation with Beijing and prudently manage the multiple differences. What is baffling, however, is the UPA's perverse policy of limiting India's cooperation with other countries by citing Beijing's sensitivities. Defence Minister A.K. Antony, for example, has stopped the Indian navy conducting multilateral exercises in the Indian Ocean, slowed down military cooperation with the US and limited India's defence diplomacy with China's neighbours in the name of "strategic autonomy". China does not take India's sensitivities into account when deepening defence cooperation with Pakistan. As an exponent of realpolitik, China does not expect India to negate its own interests. But if the UPA offers such deference, why should Beijing complain?


The next government in Delhi could hopefully learn a thing or two from Russia and China on how to play the game in a multipolar world. On the one hand, Moscow and Beijing are determined to limit American power. On the other, Moscow and Beijing seek separate bilateral deals with Washington. Russia's Vladimir Putin bails America's Barack Obama out of Syria. Russia plays hardball with Washington but seizes moments for expanded cooperation. China's Xi Jinping wants to build a new type of great power relationship with America. There are always enough people in Washington and Beijing who dream about a G-2 or a Sino-American condominium.

Put simply, in a multipolar world, the great powers play the field. No one gives up beneficial cooperation with one for fear of offending another. The motto is to engage all and cooperate with one to improve the bargaining power with the other.

China: Document No. 9 and the New Propaganda Regime

Jayadeva Ranade

Member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), President, Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, and Distinguished Fellow, IPCS

Upset by the apparent indiscipline in the country’s media and cultural space over the past couple of years, where ideas viewed as seeming to challenge the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s authority were being openly aired, the new CCP leadership under its General Secretary Xi Jinping decided in January 2013, soon after its installation, to impose stringent regulations governing the propaganda and cultural organisations. The ‘Bo Xilai affair’ had also severely jolted the Party and it is not without coincidence that the campaign to reform and control the media and cultural organisations coincides with the Party’s severe ‘mass-line’ campaign, which focuses on restoring adherence to the Party’s ideology, traditions, values and discipline.

The parameters for ‘reform’ of China’s propaganda and cultural organisations are based on a tough speech delivered by Xi Jinping at the National Ideology and Propaganda Work Conference in Beijing over August 19-20, 2013, when he stressed the need for stringent controls over the country’s Propaganda apparatus. These were promptly concretised later that month in the Party Document No: 9. The contents of Xi Jinping’s speech, available elsewhere but only excerpts of which have been publicized by China’s official media, were reinforced in a hard-hitting article published by the Party’s authoritative theoretical magazine ‘Qiu Shi’ (Seeking Truth) on October 16, 2013, and later repeated by China Central Television (CCTV). The ‘Qiu Shi’ article calls for ideological uniformity, warns against ‘anti-China forces’ who are attempting to “Westernize” China with the aim of destabilizing it, and attacks those who have been proposing “neo-liberal economic and constitutional governance reforms”. 

Propaganda and culture have traditionally been considered exceptionally important by authoritarian governments and communist regimes including the CCP. The importance of the CCP Central Committee (CC)’s Propaganda Department rests in its authority to control and shape the Party’s narrative, particularly in an environment where the media is virtually entirely owned by the state. The collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union further emphasised to the CCP the importance of political education as well as the need for effective controls on media and cultural organisations. Advent of the internet and its rapid spread in China where the number of registered internet users touched 500 million by July 2013, has made the task of the CCP CC’s Propaganda Department more difficult despite the recruitment of an estimated 2 million ‘informal’ internet censors, or monitors, also known by the token amount they are paid namely, ‘Ten cent-ers’. 

Controls over the media had slackened, especially in the uncertain political climate prior to the 18th Party Congress. An atmosphere of apparent laxity had allowed the airing and spread of fairly ‘liberal’ ideas, which are anathema to communist regimes, in China’s media, cultural and cyber space over the past year or two. In China these included the advocacy of ‘democracy’, demands for civil rights and freedoms for individuals, suggestions for the armed forces being moved out from under Party control and being placed under the State etc. 

India and China: Nuclear Rivalry in the Making?

Chinese Dong Feng (DF-1) Nuclear Missile in an exhibition, Huichengmen, Beijing.

Are India and China starting to develop a nuclear rivalry? This brief argues that while their relationship does have some of the characteristics of an emerging rivalry, there exist strong inhibiting factors that have, so far, prevented this from happening. And yet, although the prospect of a nuclear rivalry is dim, there are strategic risks that both sides need to address in order to minimize the chances of a rapid downturn in their relations.

© 2013 S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)

Arming the Elephant

World Affairs
Brahma Chellaney
NOV 6, 2013

Brahma Chellaney, Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, is the author of Asian Juggernaut, Water: Asia’s New Battleground, and Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis.

NEW DELHI – The rise in US arms sales to India is being widely cited as evidence of the two countries’ deepening defense relationship. But the long-term sustainability of the relationship, in which India is more a client than a partner, remains a deep concern for Indians. Does the recently issued Joint Declaration on Defense Cooperation, which establishes intent to move beyond weapons sales to the co-production of military hardware,mark a turning point, or is it merely a contrivance to placate India?

The factors driving the strategic relationship’s development are obvious. Since 2006, bilateral trade has quadrupled, reaching roughly $100 billion this year. And, over the last decade, US defense exports to India have skyrocketed from just $100 million to billions of dollars annually.

With US military spending slowing and other export markets remaining tight, American defense firms are eager to expand sales to India, which is now the world’s largest arms importer. And the political environment is amenable to their plans: India now conducts more joint military exercises with the US than with any other country.

For the US, displacing Russia as India’s leading arms supplier was a major diplomatic triumph, akin to Egypt’s decision during the Cold War to shift its allegiance – and its arms supplier – from the Soviet Union to America. The difference is that India can actually pay for the weapons that it acquires.

And the bills are substantial. In recent years, India has ordered American arms worth roughly $9 billion. It is now purchasing additional US weapons systems – 22 Apache attack helicopters, six C-130J turbo military transport aircraft, 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, and 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers – worth $5 billion. The value of India’s arms contracts with US firms exceeds that of American military aid to any country except Israel.

Nirupama Rao, India’s ambassador to the US, has called such defense transactions “the new frontier” in US-India relations and “a very promising one at that.” But, while it is certainly a positive development for the US, for India, it represents a new frontier of dependency.

The problem is that India’s defense sector has virtually nothing that it can sell to the US. The country has yet to develop a credible armament-production base like that of, say, Japan, which is co-developing advanced weapons systems with the US. In fact, India depends on imports – not only from major suppliers like the US and Russia, but also from Israel, the world’s sixth-largest arms exporter – to meet even basic defense needs.

Renewing an India-Pakistan peace process?

Radha Kumar

A workable strategy would be to act nationally and multilaterally against terrorism; negotiate bilaterally on Kashmir; and build trade under the radar

Now that the heat over Pakistani Adviser Sartaj Aziz’s visit to Delhi has died down, it is time to evaluate whether it improved the prospects for a renewed India-Pakistan peace process, or set them back. If we go by the media coverage and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s outcry, there is no hope. Reading between the lines, however, the signs are ambiguous: indeed, they display positive attributes as well as negative ones.

High hopes

To briefly recap, India had high hopes when Nawaz Sharif won the elections in Pakistan. He had stated during the election campaign that peace with India was one of his top priorities. Unfortunately, despite imaginative confidence-building measures such as the offer to transmit electricity from Indian to Pakistani Punjab, Indian hopes receded, as did the promised normalisation of trade through reciprocating the most-favoured nation status, partly due to backlash against them in Pakistan.

The first 10 months of this year witnessed an escalation of hostility between India and Pakistan. In fact, the escalation began in the run-up to Pakistani elections, with Hafiz Saeed given a free hand to inflame sentiments, and the founding of the Difa-e-Pakistan alliance of extremists. At the same time, we saw a sharp rise in infiltration attempts across the Line of Control, which has continued and led to hundreds of ceasefire violations as well as a resurgence of terrorist attacks on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, one of them from across the International Border. Whether supported by the Pakistani military or not, it was clear that the militant groups were pushing the envelope to see how far they could go with Pakistan’s new government.

These incidents led Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Mr. Sharif to agree in New York that the Indian and Pakistani Directors-General of Military Operations would meet to identify improved mechanisms to maintain the ceasefire and, by extension, prevent infiltration, which is a high priority for India.

An immediate media outcry that nothing could come from the DGMO talks led to their indefinite postponement and ultimately benefited militant groups, from whom even this weak spotlight was removed.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, and the Adviser, Mr. Aziz, have now again emphasised the importance of the DGMOs meeting. Let us hope that this time around it will happen soon and the DGMOs will actually get a chance to fulfil the important mandate of the meeting, which is to stop violence across the LoC and the International Border.

The general assumption in India, and to some extent in Pakistan, is that a serious peace initiative can be made only after Indian elections in the spring-summer of 2014. Yet it is these intervening months that will be a make-or-break period for peace-making. In the first year of the Pakistan People’s Party government, its leaders were willing to take bold initiatives for peace with India but were deterred by the Mumbai attacks and stiff military opposition. For the rest of the PPP term, little happened by way of India-Pakistan peace-making, with a negative impact on Jammu and Kashmir, as the 2010 youth uprisings and deaths indicated. The events of this year could be seen as similar attempts by spoilers to disrupt peace initiatives; the danger is that we risk another four years of inaction.

Keran: The Intelligence Games

November 14, 2013 by Team SAISA
Filed under Analysi

Keran is back in news again with intelligence agencies and police countering Army’s stand that there was no “large infiltration attempt” as claimed by the army.

SAISA had extensively investigated the run upto and the post Keran activities here, here and here. There was more as in the links below to explain what was the game at Keran and how it was played out by both sides.

Our conclusions are fairly simple. While discordant government and media voices dominate the security narrative in India, Pakistan is united in its approach to discredit the Indian Army on the Line of Control, subvert its initiatives in the hinterland and take advantage of the messy Indian democracy to promote it’s overall aim of Ghazwa i Hind. Translated, it means that there is only one conductor in the Pakistani orchestra playing a coherent symphony of death and destruction in mainland India (IM, LeT and all other groups), activate the IB and the LC (Jihadi Military Complex -JMC) and launch seditious campaign to keep the pot boiling in Kashmir.

Peacenik activity in Pakistan, as Nawaz Sharif tried to initiate, is always strongly resisted by the JMC through overt and covert means so that the unifying factor for the JMC ie Kashmir remains a couldron from which to draw their strength.

Unwittingly, the Indian establishment is torn by petty departmental rivalries, a shrill media and an ambivalent national security architecture. While the blood and gore on the LC makes for great headlines, JMC has moved on. Their current battle is being fought to dominate the mind space…something India is finding extremely difficult to fathom.

Yes there is a catch here.

We do not understand what the word “India” means in this context or who does it refer to. We articulate theforthcoming sentiments every year. Today we feel the need to reiterate for some one might read and respond.

“Despite 63 years of combating insurgencies we do not seem to be headed towards a definitive settlement in Kashmir and in North East. The only conventional battle fought post 1971 was Kargil. Kargil, according to who is talking, was a militant operation suitably beefed up by the Pakistan Army. In effect, it carried the shades of a hybrid war. Well we copied labels like “irregular” and “hybrid” to describe adversaries that did not conform to our structured view of combat”.

We have to understand that:

Today, conflict is democratized, not in the sense of bicameral legislatures but strategic influence in the hands of non-state actors empowered by falling barriers to information acquisition, packaging and dissemination as well as easy access to the means of destruction and disruption, physical and virtual. Pakistan leads the world as master of such styles of warfare – using terrorists as strategic hedge to achieve their objectives. Though this story began before Op Topac, Pakistan has perfected the art over the years. Their cadres are in stiff competition with Hezbollah and they have given al Qaeda a boost in spreading terror from their territory.

A New Way to Manage an Old Dispute

6 November 2013

This paper examines China’s relations with India as seen through the Sino-Indian summit held in Beijing on October 23, 2013. The author argues that this summit can be seen as a sign of renewed statesmanship and raises hopes for a promising bilateral relationship between the two countries. However, he also contends that the hopeful signs must first pass the test of realpolitik, one such test being the territorial dispute between the two countries.

© 2013 National University of Singapore

P S Suryanarayana

Afghanistan's air force on road to independence

Jim Michaels, USA TODAY 6:10 p.m. EST November 14, 2013

The ability to remove injured soldiers from the battlefield without U.S. assistance is a key test for the country's small air forces and a measure of its independence.

(Photo: Kristin M. Hall, AP)
Story Highlights
Afghanistan's air force uses Russian-made helicopters to fly wounded
Coalition air forces still provide some air support
Afghanistan's ability to dominate the air critical to post-2014 success

WASHINGTON — Afghanistan's young air force has nearly tripled the number of casualty evacuation missions it has flown this year, coalition officials say, a critical step in efforts to get the country's security forces to operate independently.

The ability to remove injured soldiers from the battlefield without U.S. assistance is a key test for the country's small air forces and a measure of its independence. Until recently, it has relied heavily on the U.S. military to evacuate casualties from the battlefield.

"We're encouraged with how they're doing," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, the top coalition air officer in Afghanistan.

The progress comes as Afghanistan's military is assuming a lead role in the war against the Taliban and suffering the bulk of casualties on the battlefield. Afghan soldiers and police were killed at a rate of 50 to 100 a week during the peak fighting season this year.

So far this year, Afghanistan's air force conducted 1,104 casualty evacuation missions, up from 391 last year.

Afghanistan still relies on U.S. assistance. About half the casualty evacuation missions are conducted by coalition forces, Wilsbach said.

That may be changing. "Last week they actually did more than we did," Wilsbach said in a telephone interview from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's armed forces have also shifted to using vehicles to rescue wounded troops. About three-quarters of their casualty evacuation missions are conducted with vehicles, as they have lessened their reliance on U.S. aircraft.

Drone attacks, a convenient explanation

D. Suba Chandran

By blaming extremism on only 9/11 and U.S.-led drone attacks, the Pakistani state and society are seeking to externalise an internal issue

The killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in a recent drone attack in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas has once again brought the debate back centre stage — within Pakistan at the national level, and between the United States and Pakistan at the bilateral level. While “sovereignty” and “spoiling the internal dialogue with the TTP” seem to be the primary slogans within Pakistan, “come what may, we will go after the militants” seems to sum up the American attitude. But are the drone attacks simply about these slogans and attitudes? Or, are there more serious and complicated issues than what is generally discussed at the populist level?

Sharif’s four assertions

During his visit to the U.S. in October, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif put forward four primary theses against the American-led drones programme, forcefully arguing that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) should cease using them. First, there was the general Pakistani perception that the drone attacks have increased extremism within Pakistan, resulting in further militant attacks within the country. Second, it impinged on Pakistan’s sovereignty, as the drones fired from across the Durand Line in Afghanistan fly over Pakistan territory and fire missiles, killing innocent civilians. Even if militants do get killed, the collateral damage is high. Third, as a result of these two, there is a growing anti-American sentiment within Pakistan, affecting Pakistan’s cooperation with the U.S., thereby further impinging on the American war against terrorism. Finally, continuing attacks undermine Pakistan’s efforts towards initiating a dialogue with the Taliban. How true are these perceptions that are widespread within Pakistan?

Undoubtedly, there is an element of truth in these four assertions. And, ironically, within them lies Pakistani duplicity. First, are the drones the primary reason for growing extremism within Pakistan? Or for that matter, 9/11 and the follow-up American invasion into Afghanistan? There is a blinkered perception in Pakistan about the extent of extremism pre- and post-9/11 and the drone attacks. Viewed in historical and sociological perspectives, the growth of extremism within Pakistan, with its roots in the 1980s, grew exponentially during the 1990s. Afghanistan and Kashmir became the much-needed ideological excuses for the military and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to pursue their “strategic depth” and “thousand cuts” vis-à-vis Afghanistan and India respectively.

Radicalism before 9/11

While the political and sociological environment vitiated by the late Pakistan President Zia-ul-Haq and the failure of governance have already given birth to extremist groups (of the sectarian and jihadi kind) — of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) varieties — the abuse of these actors by the military and the ISI created an ugly internal situation for Pakistan from the 1990s. Extremism and radicalism were well entrenched at the national and provincial levels well before drone attacks and even 9/11.

Testimony: An Unarguable Fact - American Security is Tied to Afghanistan and Pakistan

By Frederick W. Kagan
October 29, 2013

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on October 12, 2013. (Reuters)

Statement before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on "After the Withdrawal: The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Part II)," which is livestreamed.

Reasonable people can disagree about the desirability of committing to a long-term relationship with Afghanistan, keeping American troops there, giving large amounts of financial aid to Pakistan, and many other specific policy decisions in South Asia. We can argue about the relative importance of U.S. interests in that area compared with the costs of taking this or that action—and also compared with the costs of inaction or withdrawal. We can certainly argue about what strategies might work or probably won’t work. 

But all of these discussions should be based on a common set of facts that are not really arguable. American national security requires defeating al Qaeda and all other affiliated groups that seek to kill Americans, working with local partners to prevent those groups from maintaining or re-establishing safe-havens from which to do so, and retaining the ability to take direct action against those groups if and when required. It is also a fact that the war in Afghanistan is not yet either won or lost and it can still go either way. A more inconvenient fact is that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will not be ready to secure their government or their territory without significant U.S. and international support, including military forces and enablers, after 2014. 

A still more unpleasant fact is that Pakistan continues to harbor, shelter, and support some of the most virulent insurgent and terrorist groups, closely associated with al Qaeda, including serving as haven for some that have already tried to attack the U.S. homeland. Yet it is also a fact that Pakistan is a country of some 190 million people with perhaps 100 nuclear weapons and the deepest hatred for the U.S. of any nation on earth. Pakistan is also, moreover, perennially on the verge of complete economic collapse that would lead to political collapse and consequently, very likely, a massive increase in the number of terrorist groups operating there. In the very worst case, one or more of those terrorist groups might get control of a Pakistani nuclear weapon and use it—or at least try to use it—against India, the U.S., or another of our allies. The most distressing fact of all is that there is no single, clear policy or strategy that could reliably handle all of these other facts, and that offering simplistic solutions or focusing on one of these problems to the exclusion of the others will simply lead rapidly to failure.

The endgame in Afghanistan

India and Pakistan must cooperate
by Lt Gen Kamal Davar (retd)

THE land of the historical Great Games and the "graveyard of many empires", now according to many analysts, is inexorably heading for another Great Game, not between any imperial powers but two of Afghanistan's important neighbours, India and Pakistan. After the ill-timed, premature 2014 slated drawdown of all US and NATO forces from this continuing fratricidal violence-afflicted country, both India and Pakistan naturally have their own, largely disparate, strategic interests. However, what is glaring is that Pakistan's myopic, self-defeating agendas in Afghanistan are hardly conducive to peace in Afghanistan or the region for it is merely reducing Indo-Pakistan relations in Afghanistan unnecessarily to a zero-sum game, which can be a win-win situation for both nations as also a confidence-building measure between them.

An analysis of Pakistan's strategy and multiple interests in Afghanistan, as followed by the former for a couple of decades, largely stems from its stubborn adherence to its antiquated "strategic depth" obsession, a desire to have a pliant regime in Kabul and keeping, unwisely though, Indian influence totally out of the land of the Hindu Kush. Further, Pakistan seeks safe havens for its trained extremists, keeping the contentious Durand Line (never ever recognised by any Afghan regime) tranquil and endeavours to discourage the ever-present latent Pashtun unity along the border regions with Afghanistan, besides looking for Afghanistan to be its gateway to the energy-rich Central Asian Republics (CARs). Importantly, Pakistan had made itself indispensable, at least logistically, to the US and NATO forces for the two critical supply routes to Afghanistan pass through Pakistan and thus it has been getting its financial succour from the US, thanks to the US presence in Afghanistan since 2001. Pakistan, economically in alarmingly dire straits, has, by conservative estimates, obtained a largesse of $20 billion from the US during this period.

On the other hand, India apart from cementing its old civilisational and friendly links with Afghanistan, primarily seeks to ensuring Afghanistan not becoming a major safe haven and training ground for anti-India terrorists - a natural fallout with a radical regime in Kabul. Afghanistan also provides much needed access for both Indian imports and exports to the CARs. India, also seeking political and economic influence in Afghanistan, has thus invested over $2 billion in various humanitarian developmental projects, is providing military training to the Afghanistan Security Forces and overall desires Afghanistan, under a secular regime, becoming an important and independent partner in the security architecture of South Asia. There is a strong possibility that with the withdrawal of the US forces next year, Pakistan's ISI may already be working on contingency plans to divert then many out-of-work terrorists to up the ante in the Indian state of J&K and current indicators in the region all point to the ISI's machinations in this regard.

Understanding China’s Arctic Policies

November 14, 2013
By Arthur Guschin 

China is playing a prudent long game in the region, with economics the driving factor.

Within the last seven years 11 countries (Poland (2006), Russia (2008), Finland (2009), France (2009), Sweden (2010), Iceland (2011), Spain (2011), Denmark (2012), Singapore (2012), Canada (2012) and Japan (2013) have realized the need to appoint their own Arctic ambassadors. These ambassadors are used for analysis and situational assessments in the emerging “grand Arctic game,” with the ultimate aim of exploiting mineral resources and using the Arctic route forshipping cargo from Europe to Asia. In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey released an assessment revealing that the Arctic accounts for about 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil, 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas, and 20 percent of its undiscovered natural gas liquids. In other words, 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of natural gas.

The potential commercial benefits of cargo transportation through the Arctic in comparison to the Suez Canal also seem appealing. In August and September 2009 two German heavy-lift vessels, MV Beluga Foresight and MV Beluga Fraternitycarried a cargo of steel pipes from Arkhangelsk (Russia) to Nigeria using the Northern Sea Route. The new passage shortened the distance for 3000 nautical miles and reduced fuel consumption by 200 tons per vessel, resulting in savings of 600 000 U.S. dollars. A year later, the Hong Kong vessel MV Nordic Barents transported iron ore from Kirkenes (Norway) to Shanghai using the same route and cut expenses on $180,000. In 2012, 46 vessels carried more than 1.2 million tonnes of cargo through the Northern Sea Route, up 53 percent compared with 2011. In 2010, only four vessels used the route. Some researchers predict that 30 million tones of cargo will be shipped via the Northern Sea Route to 2020

China is the largest consumer and importer of energy resources in the world but its vast geographical distance from the Arctic limits Beijing’s opportunity – at least in contrast to Arctic Council members (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.S.) – to set the agenda and form a strategy for taking advantage of new Arctic opportunities. Nevertheless, China was the first Asian state to show interest and it has begun efforts to become a full member of the Arctic Council. Beijing argues that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea the Arctic Ocean is a shipping commons, and that climate change has negative consequences for Chinese food security, particularly with the flooding of its coastal regions.

Air-Sea Battle 2.0: A Global A2/AD Response

Source Link
By Harry Kazianis
November 14, 2013

In a recent article here in Flashpoints, William Yale attempts to make the case that Air-Sea Battle is, as the title points out a “dangerous, unaffordable threat.” Indeed, such an argument has been made before among a vocal crowd here in Washington defense circles. One of the chief concerns among such anti-ASB voices is the often repeated fear that “long-range strikes deep within the Chinese mainland, are highly escalatory and offer no good way to end a limited war.” Unfortunately for Yale and others who make similar arguments against ASB, the operational concept has evolved and matured – while their line of attack has not.

In order to debate the issue, one must have an idea of what ASB is today, and not what it was or at least was perceived to be in the past.

But first, it’s worth noting that ASB is easily misunderstood. That’s because much of the analysis and controversy is driven from the first major ASB publication, the 2010 Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments study (which according to at least one source received no input from DOD). ASB has evolved dramatically since this founding document, as attested to by the Joint Operational Access conceptcomments by senior officials as well as public documents from the ASB office itself.

We now have a clear understanding of what ASB and its intended goals are as displayed in multiple mediums. Nonetheless, some still seem to be confused by the concept and therefore regurgitate old thinking and analysis on the subject. At a recent hearing I attended of the House Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, Admiral James G. Foggo defined Air-Sea Battle in clear, precise language that should once and for all move defense circles past the CSBA document of three years past:

“The Air-Sea Battle Concept…is designed to assure access to parts of the ‘global commons’ – those areas of the air, sea, cyberspace and space that no one ‘owns,’ but which we all depend on – such as the sea lines of communication. Our adversaries’ anti-access/area denial strategies employ a range of military capabilities that impede the free use of these ungoverned spaces. These military capabilities include new generations of cruise, ballistic, air-to-air, and surface-to-air missiles with improved range, accuracy, and lethality are being produced and proliferated. Quiet modern submarines and stealthy fighter aircraft are being procured by many nations, while naval mines are being equipped with mobility, discrimination and autonomy. Both space and cyberspace are becoming increasingly important and contested. Accordingly the Air-Sea Battle Concept is intended to defeat such threats to access, and provide options to national leaders and military commanders, to enable follow-on operations, which could include military activities, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response. In short, it is a new approach to warfare.”

Inside the Ring: Danger of China conflict grows

The Washington Times
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Enlarge PhotoChina is reportedly testing a precision guided manuevering torpedo. A report concludes . 

As China steps up sovereignty claims over disputed waters in Asia, U.S. military forces face the growing risk of conflict with the Chinese military, according to a draft congressional report.

“Through its diplomatic actions and the rebalance to Asia, the United States has signaled its intent to strengthen its relationship with partners and allies in East Asia,” the forthcoming report of the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission states.

“However, China’s military modernization, coupled with the potential decline in U.S. power caused by sequestration, is altering the balance of power in the region and reducing the deterrent effect of the rebalance policy. The risk is therefore increasing that China’s coercive approach to its sovereignty claims will lead to greater conflict in the region.”

China is using its military forces to coerce Japan into giving up claims to the Senkaku Islands, and is also pressuring the Philippines to renounce its claims to the Spratlys in the South China Sea. Both regions are believed to harbor valuable undersea oil and gas reserves.

The report said the sovereignty disputes in the East and South China seas are not new. But it warned that “China’s growing diplomatic, economic, and military clout is changing the regional security architecture.”

“It is increasingly clear that China does not intend to resolve those disputes through multilateral negotiations or the application of international laws and adjudicative processes, but [it] will use its growing power in support of coercive tactics that pressure its neighbors to concede China’s claims,” said the report’s chapter on Asian maritime disputes.

The late draft is dated Oct. 21 and the final report is set for release Nov. 20. A copy of the draft was obtained by Inside the Ring. A commission spokesman said the final report could change slightly from the draft.

“The commissioners are very concerned about the way that the [Defense Department] budget and force structure is shaping up,” said a source close to the commission.

“We were pretty strong on the need to maintain a credible naval and air presence in the Asia-Pacific and to live up to the Pentagon’s shift to a 60 percent force concentration in Asia. Obviously 60 percent of 200 ships is less than 60 percent of 300, and it looks like the [People’s Liberation Army] is moving toward a 300-ship navy.”

The report said China is fueling maritime disputes domestically through “ardent popular nationalism” and by asserting its claims are “central” to national security.

Key triggers to a future conflict are the Chinese system’s weak crisis-management structure and apparent divisions between the powerful Communist Party-controlled People’s Liberation Army and government Foreign Ministry.