4 July 2014

Why the discord over a century-old accord

Dinesh Kumar

A century ago, on July 3, 1914, an accord was purportedly reached between China, Tibet and then British-ruled India, which continues to have a bearing on Sino-Indian relations to this day. The Simla Convention, which started on October 13, 1913, and concluded on July 3, 1914, was meant to define and demarcate the boundaries between India and Outer Tibet and between China and Inner Tibet. The British had then proposed the 'division' of Tibet into 'Inner' Tibet, which was to be under Chinese control, and 'Outer' Tibet, which was to have a sovereign like status. The accord, or agreement, as it is variously known, reached after tripartite talks between the three, led to the creation of what is popularly referred to as the McMahon Line in the north-east, which China has consistently rejected.

A series of political intrigues had both preceded and succeeded the holding of the tripartite talks, which is important to know in order to understand the context in which the convention was held. It goes back to the start of the 20th century when the ‘Great Game’ was at play. Colonial Britain, with its vast empire in the region, feared that Czarist Russia might be secretly planning to extend its influence over the strategically located Tibet. Whether or not Russia had any such plans in the region is a matter of much debate. But one of the factors that had reportedly sparked off London’s suspicions was the Mongolian-Russian monk Aquang Dorji’s (also referred to by the Russian name Dorzhiev) proximity to the 13th Dalai Lama. His political influence led to the signing of a treaty between Tibet and Mongolia in Ulan Bator (capital of Mongolia) in 1913, which incidentally he had signed on behalf of Tibet under the Tibetan name of Khen-chen Lobsang Ngawang.
The move, 100 years ago, behind the Simla Convention of 1913-1914 that led to an agreement being signed on July 3, 1914, to determine the boundary between India and Tibet was initiated by the British colonial government. The agreement has been consistently rejected by the Chinese and a series of questionable actions post-Independence by New Delhi has not helped India's case.

China’s gain

China initialled the agreement in April 1914 but walked away without signing the agreement at the tripartite summit between China, Tibet and British-ruled India, in Simla on July 3, 1914.

The big deal about the Army’s small arms

July 4, 2014
Rahul Bedi

Even deciding on a multi-purpose tool, akin to a Swiss knife, for example, has been delayed despite trials in 2011 featuring European and American vendors.

Shortly after taking over as the Chief of Army Staff in May 2012, General Bikram Singh had emphatically declared that upgrading the small arms profile of his force was his foremost priority.

Two years later, as Gen. Singh prepares to retire in end July, neither the 5.56mm close quarter battle (CQB) carbines nor the multi-calibre assault rifles he promised are anywhere in sight for the Army’s 359 infantry units and over 100 Special Forces and counter-insurgency battalions, including the Rashtriya Rifles and Assam Rifles.

The Army’s prevailing operational reality is that it does not own a carbine as the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) ceased manufacture of all variants of the WWII 9mm carbines, including ammunition, around 2010.

And, two years later, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) finally endorsed the Army’s persistent complaints regarding the inefficiency of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-designed INdian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56x39mm assault rifles. It agreed that they needed replacing.

The former Defence Minister, A.K. Antony, was forced into admitting in Parliament in late 2012 that the INSAS rifles had been overtaken by “technological development” — a euphemism for a poorly designed weapon system which the Army grudgingly began employing in the late 1990s and, unceasingly, had complained about ever since.Among largest arms programmes

The Army’s immediate requirement is for around 1,60,080 CQB carbines and over 2,20,000 assault rifles that it aims on meeting through a combination of imports and licensed-manufacture by the OFB. Ultimately, the paramilitaries and special commando units of respective State police forces too will employ either or both weapon systems in what will possibly be one of the world’s largest small arms programmes worth $7-$8 billion.

Gen. Singh’s guarantees, however, remain delusional and, expectedly unaccountable. And, in time-honoured Indian Army tradition, they will now be transferred to his successor, the Army Chief-designate, Lieutenant Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag, to vindicate.

Panchsheel 2014

C. Raja Mohan 
July 4, 2014

As an increasingly powerful China seeks to reorder Asia, Delhi must firmly locate China’s Panchsheel campaign in a clinical assessment of Asia’s rapidly evolving geopolitics and its consequences for Indian security.

Last week’s celebrations in Beijing, marking the 60th anniversary of the Panchsheel proclamations, from Delhi’s perspective, might have looked like a ritual that had to be performed. For China, though, the occasion was about mobilising regional political support, including from India, for a new security framework that President Xi Jinping has been promoting with some vigour.

As it rises to become a great power, China is determined to reconstitute Asian geopolitics, which had been dominated by the United States since the end of World War II. Central to Xi’s argument is the proposition that the US security role in Asia is a manifestation of outmoded Cold War thinking. He is suggesting that American alliances must be replaced by a new regional security order.]

Xi has affirmed that “in the final analysis, it is for the people of Asia to run the affairs of Asia, solve the problems of Asia and uphold the security of Asia. The people of Asia have the capability and wisdom to achieve peace and stability in the region through enhanced cooperation.” Heady stuff indeed. This kind of rhetoric has not been heard in Asia for decades.

The Panchsheel is at the very heart of Xi’s conception of a new security order for Asia. The five principles were outlined by Zhou Enlai in separate joint statements with Jawaharlal Nehru and Burma’s U Nu in 1954. These principles — respect for territorial integrity and national sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, cooperation for mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence — were later expanded at the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955. The first summit of the non-aligned nations in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1961 endorsed these principles.

Last week in Beijing, Xi argued that “it is no coincidence that the five principles of peaceful coexistence were born in Asia, because they embody the Asian tradition of loving peace”. Xi went on to add that, thanks to the contributions made by China, India and Myanmar, “these principles are accepted in other parts of Asia and the world”. For some, Xi’s attempt to recalibrate Panchsheel for its contemporary foreign policy needs might seem empty rhetoric at worst or political romanticism at best. A more careful look, however, would suggest China is dead serious.

The Planning Commission, in practice

By: Mihir Shah

As speculation mounts by the day that the Modi government is thinking of winding up the Planning Commission, this is an opportune moment to reflect on the relevance of the institution in the context of a rapidly changing Indian economy and society.

One way of classifying institutions is in terms of the balance between their potential positive power (PPP) and potential negative power (PNP). Potential positive power may be broadly understood to mean the capacity and power to enforce or facilitate positive change that would hasten the achievement of national goals. Potential negative power, on the other hand, refers to the capacity or power to obstruct, delay or derail positive reform, in cases where such reform threatens entrenched vested interests, status quo or business as usual. The exercise of PNP is often a ruse to foster corrupt practices, but it can also be an exercise of wanton power for its own sake, reflecting a perverse sense of power-induced pleasure.

The two institutions with perhaps the highest quotient of both PPP and PNP in the government of India are the Planning Commission and the ministry of finance. In my five years in the Planning Commission, I saw many instances of PNP and how this became a source of great resentment against the Planning Commission, both among state governments and Central ministries. Of course, at times, the Planning Commission acted with sagacity in checking profligacy of funds and schemes. But there were many cases where in-principle approvals, investment clearances, grants-in-aid and other decisions appeared to smack of bureaucratic red tape more than an application of mind motivated by the broader national interest and effectiveness of functioning. There were also visible vestiges of the old Stalinist command and control, inspector raj mindset.

But it is also true that in these five years I saw innumerable instances of the exercise of positive power. I believe there are at least five broad areas in which the Planning Commission played an extremely positive role: one, pioneering an inclusive planning process; two, facilitating and mainstreaming reform, especially emphasising the principle of subsidiarity, recognising the deep diversity of India; three, co-ordinating across, if not breaking down silos; four, being the spokesperson of the states at the Centre; and five, arbitrating disputes by taking a more long-term and holistic view of issues.

*****Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives

JUL 2, 2014
The Burke Chair at CSIS has developed a new analysis of the trends in Chinese military strategy and forces entitledChinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives. This report provides a comprehensive update of previous Burke Chair studies and is available on the CSIS web site at

The goal behind this report is not to present the authors’ view of the balance, but rather to provide the basis for an unclassified dialogue on the military developments in China, including the size and structure of the country’s current and planned military forces. It draws on official US, Chinese, and other Asian official reporting, as well as the work of other scholars and the data bases developed by the IISS and Jane’s in an effort to compare different views of Chinese strategy and military developments, and is meant to provide US, Chinese, and other analysts with a better basis for understanding Western estimates of the changes in Chinese force strength and force quality.

The United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) face a critical need to improve their understanding of how each is developing its military power and how to avoid forms of military competition that could lead to rising tension or conflict between the two states. This report focuses on China’s military developments and modernization and how they are perceived in the UIS, the West, and Asia. It utilizes the unclassified data available in the West on the trends in Chinese military forces. It relies heavily on the data in the US Department of Defense (DoD) Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, particularly the 2013 and 2014 editions.

It relies heavily on the annual military balances compiled by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), though a range of sources are included. It should be noted that this report focuses on Chinese forces, and therefore presents only one side of the US and Chinese balance and the security situation in Asia. It also draws upon a Burke Chair report entitled The Evolving Military Balance in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, looking at the bilateral US-Chinese balance in more detail.

Accordingly, it focuses on the actual changes taking place in Chinese forces, and it provides a detailed analysis detailed analysis of the trends in Chinese military forces since 1985, examining how the often-conflicting trends in outside sources interact with reporting on Chinese military spending and strategy. It also shows that important changes are taking place in US strategy and that these changes must be considered when evaluating Chinese actions.

The study makes it clear that US, other Asian, and other Western sources and analyses of Chinese military developments are not an adequate basis for US and Chinese dialogue without Chinese review, commentary, or more Chinese transparency in providing data on Chinese strategy, military forces, and military spending. There is a critical need for focused military dialogue and for joint US and Chinese efforts to develop common data and perceptions on US and Chinese military strategy and net assessments of the overall trends in military balance and strategic situation in the Pacific region.

Moreover, this report shows that focusing on strategy and concepts in broad terms is no substitute for a detailed examination of specific changes in force strength, the extent to which concepts and strategy are actually being implemented, and how the shifts in US and Chinese forces actually compare.

The report examines a range of data regarding Chinese capabilities and force modernization, focusing on the most reliable sources. Using these sources, it analyzes the full range of China’s military capabilities as well as trends in their growth and composition. The data indicate that the PRC has engaged in a continuing military modernization program that is expanding the capabilities available to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Although the PLA has consistently reduced its Personnel since the 1980s, reductions in obsolete equipment and the procurement and deployment of modern systems in its land, air, naval, and missile forces have led to increases in the PLA’s overall military effectiveness, especially in the context of its “Local War under Conditions of Informatization” military doctrine.

Data alone, however, cannot provide a full narrative: this report places the observable data within the context of contemporary Chinese military thought and doctrine. Seen within the context of Chinese military doctrine, the modernization efforts in the PLA Army, Navy, Air Force, and Second Artillery Force have enabled changes in operations and tactics as well as in force structure and weapon systems: these changes, in turn, have expanded PLA military capabilities and placed China on the road to becoming a modern military power.

The report contains numerous maps, figures, and tables. Its contents are shown below:

Siachen Unmasked


ByLt Gen Prakash Katoch 
Date : 01 Jul , 2014

Much water has flown under the bridge since 2nd October 2012 when Atlantic Council of Ottawa put out the news bulletin titled “India-Pakistan experts agree on confidence-building measures at Lahore meeting”. The bulletin stated that since November 2011, militaries of both India and Pakistan held several rounds to boost confidence building measures, these meetings having been held in Dubai (20-21 November 2011), Bangkok (23-25 February 2012) and Lahore (23-25 September 2012) and that additionally, working group meetings took place in Chiang Mai (21 April 2012) and Palo Alto (30-31 July 2012).

With respect to Siachen, the bulletin said, “….as a part of the comprehensive resolution of the Siachen dispute, and notwithstanding the claims of each country, both sides should agree to withdraw from the conflict area while retaining the option of punitive action should the other side renege on the commitments”.

Notwithstanding the fact that above means withdrawing from Indian Territory and in effect acquiescing to the absurd Pakistani demand for the LC be to drawn from NJ9842 directly to KK Pass, inclusion of the following paragraphs too are ridiculous to say the least:

What is the logic (read wisdom) of this when Indian posts dominate the crest-line of the Saltoro Range and Pakistanis are sitting much below to the West?
“Withdrawal from Indian and Pakistani posts within line of sight of each other is to be coordinated so each side can observe the activities of the other”. What is the logic (read wisdom) of this when Indian posts dominate the crest-line of the Saltoro Range and Pakistanis are sitting much below to the West?
“Both sides should agree not to interfere with the other’s national technical means”. Are we naïve enough to believe that Pakistan would own up if she does indulge in such acts? Has she owned up to 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks beyond recent signals that it was the handiwork of LeT? What about Ajmal Qasab’s statement of having received training from Pakistani Navy? Does Pakistan acknowledge cyber attacks by the Pakistan Hackers Club (PHC) and the G Force under tutelage of the ISI? Has Pakistan owned responsibility for unleashing viruses like ‘Sea Brain’
“Small-scale intrusions are neither significant nor sustainable”. But what about opening the floodgates for infiltration into Ladakh and unlimited opportunities of establishing staging posts? Has our thinking gone so awry that we can now only think of intrusions of the scale that Pakistan made in Kargil during 1998-1999?

Is IAF Equipped

02 Jul , 2014


During the past decade, India’s defence preparedness has steadily and inexorably deteriorated despite constant clamour by the defence forces for modernisation and upgradation to meet assigned roles and tasks. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s anti-India stance and Chinese aggressive actions and iterations have neither helped to push away the trepidation of possible military conflagration with either one individually, nor done anything to liquidate the possibility of a two-front war. A combined and collusive threat from China and Pakistan would overstretch the Indian military machinery and, given the inordinately delayed modernisation in certain domains, could well be a recipe for an ignominious debacle reminiscent of the 1962 India-China War.

The PAF may be expected to be not far behind the leading edge of technology in the next five years…

In the past five years or so, the challenge of being militarily engaged by China and Pakistan simultaneously has exercised government and public attention visibly. On the other hand, since long, the three Services have always considered a ‘two-front war’ not just a possibility but highly probable. In February this year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) told a Parliamentary panel what the latter probably knew anyway – that it would be difficult for the IAF to manage a ‘two-front war’ although it had plans for doing so. As expected, the media played up this iteration by the IAF as ‘dropping a bomb’ and ‘an alarming admission’. No follower of military affairs is surprised though.

During the past decade, India’s defence preparedness has steadily and inexorably deteriorated despite the persistent clamour by the defence forces for modernisation and upgradation to meet assigned roles and tasks. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s anti-India stance and Chinese aggressive actions and iterations have neither helped to push away the trepidation of possible military conflagration with either one individually, nor done anything to liquidate the possibility of a two-front war. A combined and collusive threat from China and Pakistan would overstretch the Indian military machinery and, given the inordinately delayed modernisation in certain domains, could well be a recipe for an ignominious debacle reminiscent of the 1962 India-China War. The distended aerial battlefield encompassing the Western, Northern and Eastern perimeters of our extensive borders, and the air defence of our vast territorial expanse could burden the IAF to a spine shattering level. In addressing the issue of preparedness of the IAF for a two front war, it is important at the outset to study the contending air forces.

Pakistan Air Force (PAF)

&&* Rousing a Crippled Giant

Ajai Sahni
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management & South Asia Terrorism Portal

Little can be expected of a one-month old Government, especially on issues as deeply entrenched as the multiple internal security challenges and crises of capacity that afflict India. These are the consequences of decades of neglect, misdirected policies, and an apparatus of governance that has been hollowed out by corruption. India's problems cannot be expected to simply disappear with the arrival of a purportedly charismatic leader, even one with a clear majority in Parliament that has eluded the succession of ailing regimes after Rajiv Gandhi's unprecedented windfall of 1984, in the wake of his mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government is already being judged - and often misjudged - and it would appear that both his most passionate detractors and his most ardent supporters 'mis-estimate' what he can realistically be expected to achieve. It is unlikely, as some flights of imagination have suggested, that the 'fascist Modi' will crush all dissent and establish an intolerant, oppressive and authoritarian regime; or that he is going to engineer a dramatic developmental transformation, abruptly bringing India into the fraternity of 'great powers', as his admirers fantasize. He may, of course, initiate processes of transformation; but given the sheer magnitude of the developmental deficit, the decades of preceding institutional decay, and the state of national administration, these will take significant time to secure measurable impact, even if implemented with complete honesty.

In the Indian setup, moreover, we must understand what a Prime Minister does. Personality contributes a certain character to the idea of India and of the Indian state, but it does not dramatically alter the fundamentals of the nature and distribution of power, or of the capacities of the state, its constituents and its agencies.

Nevertheless, in terms of posture and public perception, Modi appears, as many have observed, to have "hit the ground running", articulating policy perspectives and announcing initiatives in days, where these had languished under past regimes for the months and years. While any detailed assessment of security postures and initiatives is not possible here, significant indicators of the new Government's approach to the country's principal internal security challenges - Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorism, the Maoist insurgency, and the multiple insurgencies of India's Northeast - are already available.

A Roadmap for Sino-Indian Cooperation in Afghanistan

As NATO and Western powers begin to take a backseat in Afghanistan’s future, one of the most pressing questions is what role the region can play in helping Afghanistan to become a prosperous and stable nation. Numerous efforts are already underway through multilateral and bilateral forums, yet the key to regional cooperation for Afghanistan’s future lies through closer interaction between Beijing and New Delhi. Drawing on a research project spanning a number of workshops in Beijing, New Delhi and Qatar and involving influential thinkers and experts from China, India, the UK and Afghanistan, this paper will try to map out specific ideas that policymakers in Beijing and New Delhi can explore as avenues of cooperation. Post-2014 Afghanistan will remain a major regional concern for at least the short to medium term. The earlier China and India can develop workable collaborative undertakings, the sooner they can forge a stable and prosperous neighbourhood.

Sino-Indian ties

Heralding 2014 as the ‘Year of China-India Friendly Exchanges,’ Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi declared, ‘Since the beginning of the 21st century, China and India have both embarked on a modernization drive and become the world’s most dynamic emerging markets.’ This declaration was followed by the visit to China of Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh who, in the middle of election season, visited Beijing as part of a blossoming strategic dialogue between the two countries. While longstanding tensions over a disputed border and differing relationships of both countries towards Pakistan continue to act as irritants to bilateral relationship, the past year has seen some notable diplomatic successes that both sides seem eager to carry over into the new Modi administration.

Both sides have made progress on the border dispute through the creation of a code of conduct – the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement – that promises regularised dialogue between special representatives from both sides. An agreement was also signed to renew and even enhance their hydrological information sharing, which, while going nowhere to address the deeper concern over China’s damming of the Yarlung Zangpo or Brahmaputra (as it is known in India), at least allowed authorities on both sides to claim they are talking about the problem. Progress has also been made through a regularised counter-terrorism dialogue, which now allows Special Forces from both sides to conduct regular joint-exercises. In April, a visit to India by a senior PLA delegation headed by Deputy Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Qi Jianguo also paved the way for closer military-to-military ties that have been in deep freeze during recent years. The trend in the Sino-Indian relationship, despite the occasional hiccups, is towards closer coordination on a wide spectrum of issues. And while the election season in India placed something of a hiatus on any major initiatives between Beijing and New Delhi, both sides agree that there exists a potential for a better relationship between the two Asian powers. Commenting to media persons prior to going into meetings with his visiting Indian counterpart, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin stated ‘we are confident that promoting the China-India friendship is a shared consensus of all political parties in India.’1

Coming to the present, the Chinese government have extended their greetings and best wishes to the new Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi on his resounding victory in the just concluded elections. Vice Minister Liu pointed out that Modi was ‘not an unknown quantity’ to China.2 The new Chinese administration under Xi Jinping has placed a particular premium on its border relationships and there has been a clear signal in the past few years that China is increasingly focused on what Professor Wang Jisi has termed the ‘March Westward.’3 Both powers have increasingly looked to their common Central Asian backyard as an area in which they see possible trade links, as well as a region in which security concerns might emanate from.

There is a perceptible convergence of interests of both countries in Afghanistan where both Asian giants have invested a great deal and are increasingly seeking to find ways of cooperating together. So far, this cooperation has remained at a largely rhetorical level, but as NATO and western interest draws down, the two Asian powers will increasingly find themselves in a position to help steer Afghanistan into a more prosperous and stable future. This task may not be as daunting as it seems. On quite a few issues, there is a sufficient amount of unanimity on Afghanistan between China and India. Both countries agree that the rehabilitation of Afghanistan should be “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led”4; and there is a strong convergence on the importance of investment and economic development. Even cooperation on Afghanistan’s security, where the picture is obscured by the differing attitudes that both countries hold towards Pakistan and its militant proxies, Delhi and Beijing see eye-to-eye on a number of fundamental issues. Both confront a similar domestic threat from terrorism and extremism and worry about overspill from Afghanistan, yet neither country sees the answer to this problem in sending troops. Cooperation between China and India, therefore, is best structured using a three-pillar approach: security, economics and politics, with a fourth pillar of regional cooperation playing a supporting role that feeds all three main pillars. Taken together, these three aspects offer a stable platform upheld by China and India on which Afghanistan can construct its future.


US to Sell India Submarine-Launched Missiles

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced Washington will be selling India submarine-launched Harpoon missiles.

On Tuesday, the U.S. announced its intention to sell India submarine-launched missiles.
The announcement was made in a press release by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). “The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to India for UGM-84L Harpoon missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $200 million,” the press release said. It noted that it sent a certification of delivery to Congress on July 1, 2014.

DSCA elaborated on the sale: “The Government of India has requested a possible sale of 12 UGM-84L Harpoon Block II Encapsulated Missiles, 10 UTM-84L Harpoon Encapsulated Training missiles, 2 Encapsulated Harpoon certification training vehicles, containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.”

The press release went on to say that India’s Navy would use the new missiles on its Shishumar class submarine (Type-209). It also noted that India’s Navy already employs Harpoon missiles on its P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and its Air Force uses the same missiles on its Jaguar aircraft. DCSA said that selling India the submarine-launched Harpoon missiles would enhance India’s ability to defend critical sea lines of communication without altering the basic balance of power in the region.

The U.S. has made a concerted push to enhance its arms sales to India in recent years. In early 2013, Andrew Shapiro, the former assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said that U.S. military sales to India had jumped from near zero in 2008 to roughly $8 billion. Similarly, according to IHS Jane’s, India was the largest purchaser of U.S. military equipment in 2013 buying up $1.9 billion in arms from the U.S. including Boeing’s C-17A strategic transport aircraft and P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Similarly, America displaced Russia as India’s largest arms supplier last year.


Judging Jim Gant: Violence, Partiality, and Political Consolidation in Afghanistan

Several months ago — before the Bergdahl drama and Iraq’s abrupt meltdown — former Army Major Jim Gant received a brief flurry of attention due to the release of his biography American Spartan, authored by Ann Scott Tyson, which chronicles Gant’s turbulent career in Special Forces. It documents his dramatic rise to fame since 2009, when his strategy for Afghanistan, as described in a paper titled “One Tribe at a Time,” went viral among senior military leaders, subsequently becoming the basis for Village Stability Operations. It also details his precipitous fall from grace that followed from his alleged recklessness, substance abuse, and countless other infractions. Suffice it to say Gant is a polarizing figure who has both supporters and critics among those acquainted with his exploits.

But there are also more serious allegations; namely, that he perpetrated war crimes in Afghanistan, or at least supported their commission. In a 2010 blog post titled “Petraeus and McChrystal Drink Major Gant’s Snake Oil,” Central Asia specialist Christian Bleuer accused Gant of engaging in ethnic cleansing based on the following excerpt from “One Tribe at a Time:”

The highland people had taken and were using some land that belonged to the lowland people. The Malik told me the land had been given to his tribe by the ‘King Of Afghanistan’ many, many years ago and that he would show me the papers.[…] I made the decision to support him. ‘Malik, I am with you. My men and I will go with you and speak with the highlanders again. If they do not turn the land back over to you, we will fight with you against them.’[…] Without going into further detail…the dispute with the highlanders was resolved.

Additionally, on April 10 Adam Elkus, a War on the Rocks contributor,tweeted that “…it’s easy to judge. Particularly given that Gant facilitated ethnic cleansing.” Elkus is correct that it is easy to judge Jim Gant for his alleged crime. It is more productive, however, to attempt to understand the logic underpinning the act in question, and to assess its broader implications for counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.

Gant’s actions, though reprehensible, derive from a theory of victory more consistent with Afghanistan’s political reality than that offered by the prevailing counterinsurgency (COIN) wisdom of the time. GivenAfghanistan’s “kaleidoscopic” political landscape and its relative lack of preexisting political institutions, we should look not to mature Western political orders for models of political consolidation, but to the prerequisite process of state formation. This process is fundamentally illiberal and necessarily involves coercion and the domination of certain actors or coalitions over others. The upshot is that effecting a favorable outcome in Afghanistan, defined by a stable and self-regulating end state, may well demand a degree of complicity in immoral and/or illegal acts. This is not to say that the United States and its allies should engage in such acts. But we must adjust our expectations regarding the potential for self-restrained COIN and Foreign Internal Defense to deliver desired outcomes on acceptable terms, and perhaps should refrain from making categorical judgments about Gant.

The orthodox COIN wisdom of the past decade — that of FM 3-24 and David Kilcullen’s “28 Articles” — holds that securing a “durable peace” in COIN is ultimately a matter of establishing effective governance by a legitimate government. Legitimacy, which is billed as the key political variable, is defined by FM 3-24 as the acceptance of an authority by a society. While military force is necessary for eliminating and coercing insurgents, creating legitimacy requires the pursuit of non-military lines of effort, including the provision of essential services and economic and infrastructure development. Therefore, COIN is not warfare in the traditional sense, but is instead a competition for the hearts, minds, and acquiescence of the population.

Pakistan is looking at a long-term disaster

On Sunday, 15 June 2014, a press release from Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relation (ISPR), announced the launch of “Operation Zarb-e-Azb”, to clear North Waziristan Agency (NWA) of militants belonging to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other groups such as the Haqqani network, who had made the dense mountainous terrain of that Agency into a sanctuary.1 The terrorist attack on Karachi airport a week earlier was the trigger that finally removed any ambivalence on the issue.

Over 10 people being killed every day denotes a phenomenal quantity of violence.

The operation was long in the offing. Three years earlier, General Petraeus, while leaving command of US-ISAF troops in Afghanistan, referred to Pakistan Army’s long-overdue operation in Kurram and the trans-border movement by Afghan militants and their TTP affiliates as ‘North Waziristan in reverse’.

The statement implied that the Pakistan military would also have to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries in NWA, more specifically the presence of an al Qaeda-inspired militant conglomerate, presumably protected by the Haqqani network. Pakistan understandably resisted US pressure, partly because it viewed the Haqqani network as its strategic assets, but also because of the sheer difficulties involved in pursuing an offensive line in the difficult and treacherous mountain terrain of NWA.

While the Pakistani establishment did attempt to deal with the surrounding regions of Kurram, Bajaur and Dir, NWA was left largely alone, though the areas around the mountains that separate North and South Waziristan, in the Shawal and Makeen valleys, where the TTP held sway saw limited activity. The TTP had moved into this region when the Pakistan army dislocated them from the Mehsud regions of Laddha, Makeen and Sararogha in October/November 2009.2


JULY 2, 2014
Tehrik-e-Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, is a closely held, profit-making enterprise organized on religious principles. One of its principles, announced as public policy in July, 2012, is that children should not be inoculated against polio, because the vaccines violate God’s law. So sincere are the Taliban’s religious beliefs that its followers have assassinated scores of public-health workers who have attempted to administer polio vaccines in areas under Taliban control or influence.

This year, three out of five of the world’s new polio cases have been found in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, particularly in North Waziristan, where the Pakistani Taliban and groups like it have run a de-facto state since about 2008. The great majority of the polio victims are children under two years old.

If the Pakistani Taliban, aided by clever lawyers, organized a closely held American corporation, and professed to run it on religious principles, might its employees be deprived of insurance coverage to inoculate their children against polio? And would the Supreme Court, by the five-to-four decision issued on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell, endorse such a move?

In setting up stateside to enjoy the freedom proclaimed by the Court, the Taliban would have to overcome its awkward position as a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization under American law. Shooting health workers with whom the Taliban disagrees would also be out of the question, since such acts would bring into play other strands of American law, such as the prohibition on homicide. (Residents of the F.A.T.A., governed by tribal codes that legitimize revenge killing, do not enjoy the same protection.) But these are obstacles that the Taliban’s lawyers, if they were good ones, might well overcome. The Taliban could inspire American followers to put together a corporate charter separately and independently, without any financial or military links to the banned mother organization. And the American offshoot could learn to hire lobbyists rather than gunmen.

Myanmar: The Fear Of The Generals

July 2, 2014
Despite well publicized government efforts to work out peace deals with tribal rebels the army continues to attack Karen and Kachin rebels along the borders. The army believes it has to maintain an aggressive stance or else the tribal rebels will cause trouble. The tribes simply see the government continuing to break promises like they have been doing since 1948 when modern Burma was created by the departing British colonial officials. The British gave Burma control of remote tribal areas that the pre-colonial Burmese kingdoms had generally left alone and, at best, considered buffers with China and Thailand. The tribes and the ethnic Burmese down south have been fighting ever since. 

There are still a lot of unresolved issues with the tribes that the government will not address. One in particular is the many (over 100,000) landmines the government has planted in the tribal territories since the 1960s. These were used to protect infrastructure (roads, electricity lines, bridges) and major bases or government controlled towns. Few of these mines were ever cleared and the government refuses to start work on that despite all the talk of peace. The mines are a constant hazard in the thinly populated tribal areas and make a lot of grazing and farm land too dangerous to use. 

The government effort to negotiate peace with the tribes is hampered by distrust and the refusal of the tribes to disband the governmental institutions they have built. The government is particularly hostile to the tribes taking over police and taxation in the areas the tribal militias control. The taxation often includes road checkpoints by the tribal “police” that collect fees from any vehicles that wish to get through the area. The tribes don’t trust police or taxpayers from the south because the ethnic Burmese who work those jobs are seen as hopelessly corrupt and not very efficient either. 

Russia Secretly Giving Ukrainian Separatists Anti-Aircraft Weapons, NATO Commander July 2, 2014

Carlo Muñoz
UNI News
June 30, 2014

U.S. European Commander: Russia Supplying Anti-Aircraft Weapons to Ukrainian Separatists
Gen. Philip Breedlove in April 2013. US Air Force Photo

The top U.S. commander in Europe said Monday that Moscow was supplying heavy, anti-aircraft weapons to Russian-backed separatists groups battling for control of the country’s eastern border.

Gen. Philip Breedlove, head of U.S. European Command, confirmed that anti-aircraft weapons were part of the armed support being provided by Moscow to separatist groups fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Along with the weapon deliveries, Breedlove also said that training missions being carried out by Russian forces along the eastern Ukrainian border included the use of vehicle-borne anti-air missiles.

But despite the confirmed deliveries of the anti-aircraft weapons and training by Russian forces, Breedlove was wary of making the connection between the separatists’ weapon stockpiles and the recent shootdown of Ukrainian military aircraft.

“We need to allow the facts to be reported out,” Breedlove told reporters at the Pentagon. “We have not tied the string together yet” on Russia’s involvement in the shoot down of Ukrainian aircraft.

Recent reports claim Russian-backed separatist groups shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter in the eastern part of the country last Tuesday.

Europe Torn Apart in the Asian Century?

For large parts of history, Europe was the dominating power in international politics. Since World War II, most of Europe has continued in that role as part of the U.S.-led Western world. Now, this basic historical truth is slowly coming to an end, and a new scenario looms: one where Europe is not a pillar of world affairs but a territory that risks being pulled asunder between the United States and Asia.

Most Europeans have no political instinct for what it means to be in such a geopolitical quagmire. But with the emergence of a new world order that takes its cues more from the power games played out in Asia than from those in Europe, they might soon be forced to rethink. How can Europe avoid ending up in the undesirable position of being trapped between two rival blocs struggling for dominance?

Europe can learn from its own history and from its politics of today. Being part of a geopolitical buffer zone is the most dangerous and most politically volatile position a country can be in. Poland knows this better than most. Germany, too, has memories of being a disputed territory during the Cold War (and, much earlier, during the Thirty Years' War).

Most recently, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia have been feeling the pain of being squeezed between Europe and Russia, two blocs that are not just rival powers but also representatives of different mentalities and political cultures.

The Danger Zone in Naval Arms Races

July 03, 2014

China’s naval advantages are wasting assets, giving Beijing ever more reason to seize the initiative.
We scribblers are embarking on a phase of our careers that will span the rest of our careers — and far beyond. Namely, centennial retrospectives on the seismic events of the 20th century.

Think about it. Last Saturday marked 100 years since Gavrilo Princip felled Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The 1914 slaying put an end to the long peace following the Congress of Vienna in 1815. It ushered in 75 years of big events galore, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. World War I, the Versailles Treaty fight, interwar arms control, World War II, the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam — there will be a regular stream of centennials from now until the Naval Diplomat is well into a second career as zombie pundit!!!

Here’s a Great War retrospective geared not to the assassination of an Austrian archduke but to the Anglo-German naval arms race that helped precipitate war. This story concerns the “danger zone” where the German and British navies found themselves during the years leading up to world war. China and America inhabit such a time of peril today, but with a twist. Hence it’s imperative to look back to look ahead, sifting through history for such guidance as it supplies.

Why did a continental power like Germany go to sea? In part because it coveted its own colonial empire, in part to keep up with the Joneses across the North Sea in Britain, in part because warships are too damn sexy for ambitious powers to pass up. Battleship enthusiast Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz masterminded the Imperial German Navy’s rise to eminence vis-á-vis Great Britain’s Royal Navy. Around the turn of the century, Tirpitz shepherded a series of navy bills through the imperial Reichstag, or parliament, to fund construction of Germany’s first oceangoing battle fleet.

Tirpitz freely confessed that his strategy was to build ships, not attain political or strategic aims. Unsurprisingly, there was a slapdash, after-the-fact character to his rationale for a capital-ship navy. Rather than formulate goals and figure out what kind of fleet would achieve them, he retrofitted strategy to a preconceived fleet design. This was a strategy of widgets.

Here’s the theory, such as it is. Tirpitz seemed to think Germany should point a gun at Britain, manifest in an armored High Seas Fleet, in order to face down Britain and carve out its own “place in the sun” of empire. Yet he seemed to think the gun only needed to be of sufficient caliber to wound the opposing gunman. It need not kill. One suspects Clint Eastwood, Hollywood’s prophet of heavy artillery, would disapprove.

Rather than vanquish a stronger Royal Navy outright, Tirpitz envisioned putting to sea a fleet lethal enough to impose unbearable costs on that foe. In other words, the High Seas Fleet need not win a decisive engagement to accomplish Berlin’s goals. It merely needed the capacity to do heavy damage. If it could take to the seas and batter a stronger opponent — even in defeat — it could cost Britain the naval supremacy that the empire on which the sun never set depended. London, believed the admiral, would become pliant to avoid such a fate. It would accommodate itself to Berlin’s desires, and might even agree to a nautical alliance. Either way, Germany could win without fighting.

The Shifting Sands of Northeast Asia’s Alliances

July 03, 2014

China worries about a potential loss of control over Pyongyang, as Japan and North Korea make nice.
This week will witness two unusual bilateral meetings. The first was held in Beijing as Japan and North Korea continue talks over the investigation of abducted Japanese citizens. The second occurs today in Seoul as Chinese President Xi Jinping makes a rare visit to South Korea before visiting North Korea. While bilateral topics will likely take center stage, issues of mutual concern between the pairs will also factor in. Japan’s new interpretation of collective self-defense will give all parties cause to take notice, while North Korea’s intransigence toward China and recent opening toward Japan is likely a factor in the order of Xi’s visits.

There has been little information as yet from the meetings in Beijing. At the opening, Japan’s head delegate Junichi Ihara said it would “be an important step in resolving the outstanding issues that lie between Japan and North Korea.” Japan brought up Pyongyang’s firing of a short-range ballistic missile this weekend, with North Korea defending itself by saying it did not agree to the U.N. Security Council’s ban on such tests, according to theWall Street Journal. However, given the limited nature of the current negotiations, neither side has much to lose, no matter how the talks pan out. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would simply revert to his hardline approach to North Korea’s insincerity on the negotiations and the constant endangering of regional security through Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests. For North Korea, falling back on its decades-long policy of denouncing Japan as an untrustworthy former colonial power usually plays well at home.

However, the potential upsides to the negotiations are significant. A satisfactory settlement for Japan of the abductees issue would be a political coup for Abe, who this week made significant headway in his attempts tonormalize Japan’s military posture. North Korea reaching a settlement (albeit a minor lift in sanctions and increased aid) would be a clear indication to China that Pyongyang can create more options for itself in the region, and thus less relative dependence on Beijing.

The meeting between Xi and South Korean President Park Geun-hye will also give Japan and North Korea reason to take pause. The Chinese media has been highly critical of Japan’s move this week to change the interpretation of Article 9 of its pacifist Constitution. Both Beijing and Seoul have also expressed outrage at Japan’s recent reinvestigation into the possible South Korean influence behind the 1993 Kono statement, which apologized for Japan’s use of “comfort women” during the Second World War. As Xi signals favoritism to Seoul over Pyongyang during his visit, and the two sides resume free trade agreement talks, Xi may likely use Japan’s colonial past to further stoke anti-Tokyo sentiment, much as he tried to do in March this year when visiting Germany. Experts also expect China and South Korea to find common ground on North Korea. Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at China’s Renmin University, expects that “During the summit talks, China is expected to guarantee that it will continue to seriously implement U.N. Security Council resolutions and maintain its stern attitude toward North Korea because North Korea sticks to nuclear weapons,” according to an interview with Yonhap News Agency.

*** Who Was Saddam Hussein?

July 3, 2014

By Robert Kaplan

The current disintegration of Iraq makes me reflect on the nature of Saddam Hussein's rule. Beyond the American invasion in 2003, which was the proximate cause of Iraq's current instability, there was something more fundamental, more essential to be considered: the very totality of his regime, which was anarchy masquerading as tyranny. Saddam controlled Iraq as though it were his private prison yard, where he was the warden who could do what he wished with the inmates.

The word suffocating does not begin to describe the atmosphere in Saddam's Iraq as I experienced it. When on occasion I would travel to Iraq and then to Syria in the 1980s it was like coming up for liberal humanist air. For in the Syria of Hafez al-Assad there was only terror in the public space; in Iraq the scent of terror invaded the home. I remember diplomats telling me to watch my step in Baghdad, since if I attracted the attention of the security services, there was little anyone could do to help me.

Indeed, even among tyrants there are distinctions. Some tyrants are worse than others. It is important that we recognize such distinctions. Without them the many intricate details that make up ground-level reality and history become distorted. Lately I have seen writers, who are in favor of intervening in Syria but were opposed to intervention in Iraq, argue that while Saddam was brutal, he wasn't as bad as Bashar al Assad. This is nonsense. Intervening in Syria in 2011 might have made more sense than intervening in Iraq in 2003. I'll admit that. But that does not give anyone the right to distort the internal reality of the two countries.

The argument that the younger al Assad is more brutal than Saddam is based upon the number and nature of the casualties in the ongoing Syrian civil war, which are now in the vicinity of 150,000. Well, in the late-1980s, Saddam killed in the infamous Al-Anfal campaign an estimated 100,000 Kurdish civilians alone. That was but one chapter in a blood-curdling, bestial rule that lasted from the mid-1970s to the beginning of the 21st century. Saddam likely killed tens of thousands during the repression that followed the post-Gulf War I rebellion in 1991. He created a nation of informers and interlocking intelligence agencies that maimed and tortured truly a countless number of victims. He initiated the Iran-Iraq War, which killed hundreds of thousands. The total number of his victims, depending upon how you count, may reach upwards of a million. Saddam was beyond "brutal." The word brutal has a generic and insipid ring to it: one that simply does not capture what Iraq was like under his rule. Saddam was in a category all his own, somewhere north of the al Assads and south of Stalin. That's who Saddam Hussein was.

ISIS Displays Weapons Captured in Iraq

July 3, 2014
Jeremy Binnie

IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly , July 2, 2014

ISIL had one T-62 tank running and another on a transporter for the parade. Source: State of Al-Raqqah

The Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) held a parade in the eastern Syrian city of Al-Raqqah on 30 June to show off weapons captured in Iraq and Syria, including a non-operational ‘Scud’ ballistic missile.
The ‘Scud’ missile that was displayed by ISIL on 30 June. (State of Al-Raqqah)

The missile was on a static launcher that had been put on a trailer so it could be towed through the streets by members of the Sunni radical group, which recently shortened its name to the Islamic State.

The launcher was identical to ones found by insurgents when they overran a facility 80 km to the southeast in February 2013. The facility consisted of a large shed containing at least three such launchers, two of them with missiles, that had been built on top of the site of the nuclear reactor that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in September 2007.

While there was speculation at the time that the missiles could be launched through hatches in the shed’s roof, the shorter-range ‘Scud’ missiles found at the site could not reach Israel from that location and the exhaust from the first launch would endanger the other missiles and associated equipment.
One of the M198 howitzers that was captured from the Iraqi Army. (State of Al-Raqqah)

The facility is consequently more likely to have been for training purposes or part of a deception plan to conceal the site’s previous usage from the international community.

The parade also included equipment taken from the Iraqi Army, including several up-armoured Humvees and three M198 howitzers being towed by Oshkosh MTVR vehicles. Similar, if not the same guns and trucks were seen in militant hands in Mosul after the Iraqi Army units in the Iraqi city collapsed on 10 June.

While ISIL will probably struggle to use the guns to deliver accurate indirect fire in support of its forces, it might be able to use them against large area targets for as long as the supply of captured ammunition lasts.

Soviet-origin armour was also displayed in the parade, including two T-62 tanks (one on a transporter), a 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer, and a BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle. These vehicles were probably captured from the Syrian military as Iraq only has a limited quantity of Soviet-origin vehicles in service.

Iraqi Security Forces Chasing ISIS “Sleeper Cells” in Baghdad as Militants Prepare to Attack the Iraqi Capital

July 3, 2014

Iraq chases Baghdad sleeper cells as ‘Zero Hour’ looms over capital

Reuters, July 3, 2014

Members of the Iraqi security forces take their positions during an intensive security deployment west of Baghdad, June 24, 2014.

(Reuters) - Iraqi insurgents are preparing for an assault on Baghdad, with sleeper cells planted inside the capital to rise up at “Zero Hour” and aid fighters pushing in from the outskirts, according to senior Iraqi and U.S. security officials.

Sunni fighters have seized wide swathes of the north and west of the country in a three week lightning advance and say they are bearing down on the capital, a city of 7 million people still scarred by the intense street fighting between its Sunni and Shi’ite neighborhoods during U.S. occupation.

The government says it is rounding up members of sleeper cells to help safeguard the capital, and Shi’ite paramilitary groups say they are helping the authorities. Some Sunni residents say the crackdown is being used to intimidate them.

Iraqis speak of a “Zero Hour” as the moment a previously-prepared attack plan would start to unfold.

A high-level Iraqi security official estimated there were 1,500 sleeper cell members hibernating in western Baghdad and a further 1,000 in areas on the outskirts of the capital.

He said their goal was to penetrate the U.S.-made “Green Zone” - a fortified enclave of government buildings on the west bank of the Tigris - as a propaganda victory and then carve out enclaves in west Baghdad and in outlying areas.

“There are so many sleeper cells in Baghdad,” the official said. “They will seize an area and won’t let anyone take it back… In western Baghdad, they are ready and prepared.”

A man who describes himself as a member of one such cell, originally from Anbar province, the mainly Sunni Western area that has been a heartland of the insurgency, said he has been working in Baghdad as a laborer while secretly coordinating intelligence for his group of Sunni fighters.

The attack on the capital will come soon, said the man, who asked to be called Abu Ahmed.

“We are ready. It can come any minute,” he told Reuters during a meeting in a public place, glancing nervously around to see if anyone was watching.

“We will have some surprises,” he said. He pulled his baseball cap down tight on his face and stopped speaking anytime a stranger approached.

A portly man in his mid-30s wearing a striped sports shirt, the man said he fought as part of an insurgent group called the 1920 Revolution Brigades during the U.S. occupation and was jailed by the Iraqi government from 2007-2009.

He gave up fighting in 2010, tired from war and relatively optimistic about the future. But last year, he took up arms again out of anger at a crackdown against Sunni protesters by the Shi’ite-led government, joining the Military Council, a loose federation of Sunni armed groups and tribal fighters that has since emerged as a full-fledged insurgent umbrella group.

While it was not possible to verify all details of his story, Reuters reporters are confident of his identity.

Like many Sunni fighters, Abu Ahmed is not a member of the al Qaeda offshoot once known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and is ambivalent about the group which launched the latest uprising by seizing the main northern city Mosul on June 10 and shortened its name this week to the Islamic State.