A Pentagon team headed by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Peter Lavoy is in town. At a dinner hosted last night by the newly credentialed US Ambassador Nancy Powell, Lavoy rvealed that his team was in Delhi to plead with the Indian Govt to enhance this country’s role in the ongoing Afghan game. Whatever else India may be able to do, Lavoy said he hoped Indian military would more fully be involved in training the Afghan officer corps and JCOs/NCOs — either in Afghanistan itself, along the lines of the Indian army’s permament training detachment in Bhutan, presumably, or intake more Afghans into training institutions in India. The idea is to make the Afghan national army fit to take over the hard business of fighting the Taliban after the US forces begin decamping in 2014. The US will, however, continue, he said, to run the more high tech missions, such as combat aircraft in strile mode, hepter gunships, intelligence and, though he did not mention this, no doubt drone attacks.
Have known Lavoy for nearly two decades now. He has come to the DoD post from the US National Intelligence Council where he replaced Nancy Powell as head of the South Asia directorate. He’s among the original Americans, alongwith Michael Krepon at the Stimson Center in Washington, DC, who has consistently tried to scare Washington and, because of the process of reverse osmosis, the Indian government about the so-called India-Pakistan “nuclear flashpoint” — which I have argued since 1998 when it was first raised by these worthies, is so much nonsense. But because it doesn’t take much to scare Delhi, this thesis has become ingrained in the thinking of the Indian political class, the babus, diplomats, and even the military.
It is nonsense because of the unfavourable ‘exchange ratio’ – two Indian cities for the certain extinction of Pakistan. Which amongst the maddest mullahs in and out of uniform in Pakistan would take such a risk? The IRONY is it is the Indian establishment that seems more deterred by this prospect!!!
One other thing about Lavoy. In a seminar held in 2002 (if I recall right) with the USI in Delhi, Lavoy led a team from the Center for Contemporary Conflict (CCC) at the Naval Post-Graduate school, Monterrey, CA, there was a telltale incident in which a US Special Forces officer — a “Major Paul Smith”, part of the American team, inadvertently, indirectly, and in a roundabout way, said a few things. He confirmed what I had said during my previous presentation that intense US efforts were then underway by the US military and intel orgs to locate Pakistani nuclear assets for the purposes of preemption in crisis. I jokingly added that that was India’s first line of nuclear defence against the Pakis!! All this was just too sensitive info for it to get out and CCC tried to rub it out from the record of the proceedings. The website reference to this seminar, for instance, had me saying banal things about the nuclear situation in S Asia. I remember emailing Peter asking him to correct this piece of disinformation being put out. Didn’t hear back from him. And the CCC account remained uncorrected.
Then again what is intelligence except dezinformatisya to fool a foreign or a home audience?