Another Scorpene document; CNS Lanba’s call: Indian Navy and national security or the French Scorpene

The only upside of the leak of 22,400 highly-classified documents relating to the Indian Scorpene is that it is now no secret that this submarine in the Indian fleet is a naval and national security liability. That this vast trove of secret material went missing in 2011 suggests that anybody who wanted access has had it — especially Pakistan and Chinese intel agencies — for the last FIVE years. In other words, had the documents not been leaked to ‘The Australian’, the Indian Navy and govt would have gone serenely about their business, assuming that the supposedly super-stealth qualities of this French item would surprise an adversary or two in war!

It is certain that the Pakistan and Chinese navies are by now fully in the know of the minutest aspects of this boat’s on-board weapons, sensors, combat management system, etc, and that this boat is an open book and, unbeknownst to GOI/MOD/Indian Navy, has been for the past many years. Will IN risk taking this platform to sea? It will be blown out of the water at the first instance of hostile action. And yet GOI and Indian Navy seem to believe the crock put out by the French company DCNS and the French govt that this material out in the market may be “sensitive but [is] neither critical nor confidential”. Come again?! In fact, the navy maintains, per some news stories, that as the documents have redacted parts, the secrets are hence not out! This is laughable stuff. It appears the navy is, in fact, guileless and gullible. If it is, God save India!

And, what’s the guarantee this is all the documents that have been leaked? Is the Modi regime going to believe Paris and risk it all, or rely on common sense of which there’s always been a deficit in Delhi?

The BJP dispensation is not doing the one set of things that are imperative: Immediately TERMINATE the Scorpene contract, STOP production of this submarine at the Mazgaon Dockyard Ltd, Mumbai, and START the process of recovering the monies paid out so far to DCNS in the cumulative $24 billion deal.

To make it amply clear India means business, Delhi should recall its ambassador, ask Paris to withdraw its envoy, and if satisfaction is not forthcoming especially on financial restitution, the promise of more serious actions to follow.

But all this will depend on the Indian Navy’s assessment of the situation. The one quality everybody acknowledges about the present CNS Admiral Sunil Lanba is that he is a stickler for propriety and has a spotless record on corruption, which last attribute is not what many of his predecessors in the post could boast of. There are economically huge interests at play here. If Lanba’s report minimizes the real and irreparable damage done to the prospects of the Scorpene in Indian service, then his name will go down in infamy, and national security will take a dive. If, on the other hand, he concludes with every justification that the country and the navy cannot afford to have a completely compromised Scorpene in their service and that this submersible is, for all intents and purposes, useless and unusable as a fighting platform. And that, whatever the consequences for the country’s sea denial capability, India should therefore proceed to return the Kalavari to France and ask DCNS to pack up and get the hell out, he will have done the duty by India that he is sworn to do. In that case the Modi govt, however much it may wish to do otherwise with potentially another scam in the offing relating to the PM’s offer to buy 36 Rafale combat aircraft off the shelf, will have no alternative than to cancel the Scorpene contract and ask DCNS/French govt to return forthwith all the monies forked over so far — as much as $7-$10 billion. It is Lanba’s call.

Below are reproduced two new Scorpene stories from ‘The Australian’ and another secret document among the 22,400 documents the newspaper has in its possession. These will no doubt be dribbled out over a long period of time (to increase newspaper sales and subscriptions and keep alive the international interest).
THE AUSTRALIAN, Aug 25, 2016
Defence warns French submarine builder DCNS on data security
By Cameron Stewart

The Defence Department has warned the French company in the middle of the global
submarine leaks scandal that it will demand the same level of information security on the
new submarine project as Australia enjoys with its closest ally, the US.

The warning was issued privately to French shipbuilder DCNS by a senior Defence
official hours after The Australian broke the story on Wednesday that 22,400 secret
DCNS document about India’s new submarine fleet had been leaked.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne ordered that the warning be issued, showing
that the Turnbull government was deeply concerned by the ramifications of the DCNS
leak on Australia’s $50 billion submarines project, even though it said publicly that it
had no relevance to Australia.

Australia’s information security is most stringent with the US because of the importance
of joint facilities such as Pine Gap and their joint membership of the powerful Five Eyes
intelligence alliance.

DCNS is expected to announce today that it will set up a new security committee in
Australia to help safeguard against leaks of classified data for the project.
The Paris-based company, which will design 12 subs for Australia, has been heavily
criticised in India’s media for the leaks which many Indian experts believe haveromised the country’s new fleet of six Scorpene subs.

DCNS Australia head Sean Costello said the new security committee would “govern the
measures which DCNS develops to deliver the Australian government’s stringent
security requirements for the Future Submarine Program”.

The leaks scandal has grown into a firestorm in India and France where it has been frontpage
news, as both governments seek to grapple with the damage it has done to India’s

page news, as both governments seek to grapple with the damage it has done to India’s
national security and to DCNS’s global reputation. The 22,400 pages of leaked secret documents, marked “Restricted Scorpene India” – reveal the highly sensitive combat and stealth capabilities of India’s Scorpene subs, including the frequencies at which they gather intelligence, their range, endurance, diving depths, the noise they radiate at different speeds as well as their magnetic and infra-red

Secret subs document: System and operating data

Two former high-ranking Pakistani generals have told The Australian that the Pakistani
and Chinese spy agencies would be doing all they could to get their hands on leaked
documents which reveal the capabilities of India’s new submarine fleet — that is if they
don’t already have the documents. Former Pakistan army chief Jehangir Karamat said
Australia should be “concerned” about using the same French firm to manufacture its
subs. In France, where a formal government investigation is underway, DCNS said the
leak might have been a case of “economic warfare” against the company.

“Competition is getting tougher and tougher, and all means can be used in this context,”
a DCNS spokeswoman said.

“There is India, Australia and other prospects, and other countries could raise legitimate
questions over DCNS. It’s part of the tools in economic warfare.”
Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has asked his navy to submit an interim report
on the leak in the next few days as the New Delhi government tries to work out how
badly the leak might affect the security of its new fleet.

“We have to be very careful in making our assessments,” Mr Parrikar said.
“All aspects of the matter will be examined and whatever preventative measures need to
be taken will be taken.”

Investigations in India and France will seek to uncover the key question of whether the
leaked data may have fallen into the hands of a foreign government and especially its
strategic rivals Pakistan and China.

The Australian has been told that the secret data was removed from DCNS by a former
sub-contractor in 2011 and taken to a private company in Southeast Asia before being
passed to a branch of that company in a second Southeast Asian nation. A disk containing the data filed was then posted in regular mail to a company in Australia.

DCNS is focusing its investigation on former employees and sub-contractors involved in
the project. At this stage it is not thought that the leak came from India.
The Turnbull government has tried to allay fears that the same sort of catastrophic data
leak of DCNS submarine data could occur when the French company designs its
Australian subs, to be called the Shortfin Barracuda.

Mr Pyne said he was confident that the subs program operated “under stringent security
requirements” governing sensitive technical data. Independent South Australian senator Nick Xenophon has called the leak disastrous and says the government should consider suspending negotiations with DCNS.
In April France was awarded the lucrative contract to build the $50bn new submarine fleet ahead of fellow bidders Germany and Japan.

The Scorpene leak is one of the largest and most damaging data dumps of its kind and
comes only three months after India began sea trials for the first of its six Scorpene subs.
The data leak is also a blow to the navies of Malaysia, Chile, and, from 2018, Brazil,
which also operate the Scorpene sub.
A 2nd story published in the THE AUSTRALIAN, Aug 26, 2016

Pakistan, China ‘keen to get hands on leaked subs documents’

By Greg Bearup

Pakistani and Chinese spy agencies would be doing all they could to get their hands on
leaked documents that reveal the capabilities of India’s new submarine fleet, according
to two former high-ranking Pakistani generals. That was if they didn’t already have the documents, they said.

Former Pakistani army chief Jehangir Karamat said Australia should be “concerned”
about using the same French firm, DCNS, to manufacture its subs.

The report in the The Australian this week about a 22,000-page leak containing the
specifications of a French- designed sub destined for the Indian Navy has been the lead
story on Indian television and on the front pages of its newspapers.

“India assesses vulnerability of Scorpene submarines after a leak of secret data,’’ said the
headline on the Hindustan Times, while The Hindu led with a story about the sloppy
handling of the highly sensitive documents by DCNS: “Not a tight ship, submarine
project leaked like a sieve.”

Indian politicians and defence officials are fuming and are hunting the source of the leak
while trying to assess the damage.

“The French-designed subs are so advanced, so silent under water that they are extremely
difficult, if not impossible to detect,” said a report on English-language news channel
NDTV. “But according to The Australian, the leak of the 22,000 pages has technical
specifications that would make detection possible.”

General Karamat told The Australian the leakwas“mind-boggling’’. “I can understand Australia’s concern (that the same company is building its subs),’’ said General Karamat, who was previously Pakistan’s ambassador to the US. “I guess it’s too early to say anything but the report does mention that China and
Pakistan would be interested. Indeed, anyone involved in counter measures would be
most interested.’’

Retired general Talat Masood, who also served as secretary for defence production in
Pakistan’s Defence Ministry, told The Australian the leak was extremely embarrassing
to India and France: “The point here is that definitely Pakistan would be interested

to India and France: “The point here is that definitely Pakistan would be interested
because India has been expanding its naval fleet and it would very much like to know
what are the capabilities of the submarine … this document, to a large extent, would
reveal that.”

He said subs were vitally importance in the region. “The Chinese are building the
corridor, and so on, and also the Indians want to expand their influence on the seas and
the US has been supportive of that,” he said.
New Scorpene India document published along with the above two stories with, as on the last occasion, parts redacted — inked, by the newspaper as too sensitive:

It has the ‘System Technical Manual’ for underwater warfare sub-system — various sonars — distributed array, active array, etc, & ‘Operational Instruction Manual’ for combat management system

Posted in arms exports, Asian geopolitics, Australia, China, China military, civil-military relations, corruption, Defence Industry, domestic politics, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian democracy, Indian ecobomic situation, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, Indian Politics, Military Acquisitions, Pakistan, Pakistan military, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Technology transfer, Weapons, Western militaries | 9 Comments

Scorpene — Leaked DCNS Documents & ‘The Australian’ news report

What’s simply astounding about GOI’s (Parrikar’s) and the Indian Navy’s reaction to this massive leak at the DCNS end is their (1) complacent attitude (compare this to the alarm generated in Australia, which is buying another version of the Scorpene), (2) attempt to minimize the prospective damage to national security and the complete compromizing of the Scorpene submarine platform, and (3) straining to clear DCNS and France of any responsibility and hence legal and monetary LIABILITY for an event that normally should immediately imperil bilateral relations and, at the very least, result in the Indian govt demanding full financial restitution in terms of return of all monies paid so far in furtherance of the Scorpene contract, a massive deterrent penalty imposed on the French Company, and stopping of all Scorpene deliveries from the Mazgaon Dockyard Ltd (MDL). The first unit, Kalavari, and the next one coming up 4 years later than scheduled produced under DCNS aegis are now virtual junks. And an agreement with Paris that it will pay for whatever remedies may be available to make the two Scorpenes at all serviceable as fighting platforms (rather than as pleasure boats that, perhaps, can cart tourists seeking full submersible experience off the Mumbai shore). Indeed, the sea trials of the first of Kalavari, has to be terminated, and DCNS asked to take it back, not deliver the second one, unless these two submarines are to, whatever extent, modified to exacting professional standards.

Recall in this respect that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi threatened to shut down bilateral relations with France in 1987 because of the infamous Coomar Narain case — a French defence attache was caught with official documents purloined by Narain, a “wheeler dealer” working for a wealthy Indian, Maneklal, as “economic intelligence”, precipitating an emergency visit by French President Francois Mitterand. (Refer If that relatively slight offence produced such a huge reaction from Delhi, shouldn’t an unimaginably more significant event by the French supplier that pretty much finishes off the country’s submarine capability have proportionately graver consequences? Such as, at a minimum, an instant termination of contacts and military and every other contract? But here we have a maun Modi and a Parrikar who doesn’t seem to even understand the gravity of the situation.

Also bear in mind when perusing the published sample documents accompanying the story that these are in the “Restricted” category. Even so the Australian paper has felt compelled to redact the more sensitive data in them. There must be frightfully more sensitive documents in the trove of 22,400 off documents with much higher classification status now available to anyone willing to pay (Pakistan, China).

Reproduced below are ‘The Australian’ story about the DCNS’ India Scorpene submarine, along with the URLs for the sample of three documents published in this newspaper of Aug 24, 2016
The AUSTRALIAN, Aug 24, 2016
Our French submarine builder in massive leak scandal
By Cameron Stewart

The French company that won the bid to design Australia’s new $50 billion
submarine fleet has suffered a massive leak of secret documents, raising fears
about the future security of top-secret data on the navy’s future fleet.
The stunning leak, which runs to 22,400 pages and has been seen by The
Australian, details the entire secret combat capability of the six Scorpene-class
submarines that French shipbuilder DCNS has designed for the Indian Navy.
A variant of the same French-designed Scorpene is also used by the navies of
Malaysia, Chile and, from 2018, Brazil, so news of the Edward Snowden-sized
leak — revealed today — will trigger alarm at the highest level in these countries.
Marked “Restricted Scorpene India”, the DCNS documents detail the most
sensitive combat capabilities of India’s new $US3 bn ($3.9bn) submarine fleet and
would provide an intelligence bonanza if obtained by India’s strategic rivals, such
as Pakistan or China.

The leak will spark grave concern in Australia and especially in the US where
senior navy officials have privately expressed fears about the security of top-secret
data entrusted to France.

In April DCNS, which is two-thirds owned by the French government, won the
hotly contested bid over Germany and Japan to design 12 new submarines for
Australia. Its proposed submarine for Australia — the yet-to-be-built Shortfin
Australia. Its proposed submarine for Australia — the yet-to-be-built Shortfin
Barracuda — was chosen ahead of its rivals because it was considered to be the
quietest in the water, making it perfectly suited to intelligence-gathering
operations against China and others in the region.

Any stealth advantage for the navy’s new submarines would be gravely
compromised if data on its planned combat and performance capabilities was
leaked in the same manner as the data from the Scorpene. The leaked DCNS data
details the secret stealth capabilities of the six new Indian submarines, including
what frequencies they gather intelligence at, what levels of noise they make at
various speeds and their diving depths, range and endurance — all sensitive
information that is highly classified. The data tells the submarine crew where on
the boat they can speak safely to avoid detection by the enemy. It also discloses
magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data as well as the specifications of the
submarine’s torpedo launch system and the combat system.

It details the speed and conditions needed for using the periscope, the noise
specifications of the propeller and the radiated noise levels that occur when the
submarine surfaces.

The data seen by The Australian includes 4457 pages on the submarine’s
underwater sensors, 4209 pages on its above-water sensors, 4301 pages on its
combat management system, 493 pages on its torpedo launch system and
specifications, 6841 pages on the sub’s communications system and 2138 on its
navigation systems.

The Australian has chosen to redact sensitive information from the documents.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was important to note the submarine
DCNS was building for India was a completely different model to the one it will
build for Australia and the leaked information was a few years out of date.
Nevertheless, any leak of classified information was a concern.
“We have the highest security protections on all of our defence information,
whether it is in partnership with other countries or entirely within Australia,” he
told the Seven Network today.

“But clearly, it is a reminder that, particularly in this digital world, cyber security
is of critical importance.” Influential senator Nick Xenon said he would pursue the security breach when parliament returns next week. Senator Xenophon, who leads a bloc of three senators, said Australia needed serious explanations from DCNS, the federal government and the Defence Department about any implications for Australia. “This is really quite disastrous to have thousands of pages of your combat system leaked in this way,” the senator told ABC radio.

Sea trials for the first of India’s six Scorpene submarines began in May. The
project is running four years behind schedule.

The Indian Navy has boasted that its Scorpene submarines have superior stealth
features, which give them a major advantage against other submarines.
The US will be alarmed by the leak of the DCNS data because Australia hopes to
install an American combat system — with the latest US stealth technology — in
the French Shortfin Barracuda.

If Washington does not feel confident that its “crown jewels’’ of stealth
technology can be protected, it may decline to give Australia its state-of-the-art
combat system.

DCNS yesterday sought to reassure Australians that the leak of the data on the
Indian Scorpene submarine would not happen with its proposed submarine for
Australia. The company also implied — but did not say directly — that the leak
might have occurred at India’s end, rather than from France. “Uncontrolled
technical data is not possible in the Australian arrangements,” the company said.
“Multiple and independent controls exist within DCNS to prevent unauthorised
access to data and all data movements are encrypted and recorded. In the case of
India, where a DCNS design is built by a local company, DCNS is the provider and
not the controller of technical data.

“In the case of Australia, and unlike India, DCNS is both the provider and incountry
controller of technical data for the full chain of transmission and usage
over the life of the submarines.”

However, The Australian has been told that the data on the Scorpene was written
in France for India in 2011 and is suspected of being removed from France in that
same year by a former French Navy officer who was at that time a DCNS
same year by a former French Navy officer who was at that time a DCNS

The data is then believed to have been taken to a company in Southeast Asia,
possibly to assist in a commercial venture for a regional navy.
It was subsequently passed by a third party to a second company in the region
before being sent on a data disk by regular mail to a company in Australia. It is
unclear how widely the data has been shared in Asia or whether it has been
obtained by foreign intelligence agencies.

The data seen by The Australian also includes separate confidential DCNS files on
plans to sell French frigates to Chile and the French sale of the Mistral-class
amphibious assault ship carrier to Russia. These DCNS projects have no link to
India, which adds weight to the probability that the data files were removed from
DCNS in France.

DCNS Australia this month signed a deed of agreement with the Defence
Department, paving the way for talks over the contract which will guide the design
phase of the new submarines. The government plans to build 12 submarines in
Adelaide to replace the six-boat Collins-class fleet from the early 2030s. The
Shortfin Barracuda will be a slightly shorter, conventionally powered version of
France’s new fleet of Barracuda-class nuclear submarines.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said his officials believed the leak had
“no bearing” on the Australia’s submarine program.

“The Future Submarine Program operates under stringent security requirements
that govern the manner in which all information and technical data is managed now
and into the future,” Mr Pyne’s office said in a statement.
“The same requirements apply to the protection of all sensitive information and
technical data for the Collins class submarines, and have operated successfully for

Restricted data
The secret information the leaked documents reveal:
• The stealth capabilities of the six new Indian Scorpene submarines
• The frequencies at which the subs gather intelligence
• The levels of noise the subs make at various speeds
• Diving depths, range and endurance
• Magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data
• Specifications of the submarine’s torpedo launch system and the combat system
• Speed and conditions needed for using the periscope
• Propeller’s noise specifications
• Radiated noise levels when the submarine surfaces
View the leaked documents below. If you are using a mobile device, you can view
the extracts on the desktop version of
Secret submarine document one
Secret submarine document two
Secret submarine document three
The published leaked documents ‘Restricted Scorpene India’ may be accessed at:

1) for some structural details and communications equipment

2) for acoustic signature and noise level


Posted in arms exports, Asian geopolitics, Australia, civil-military relations, corruption, Defence Industry, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Navy, Indian Politics, society, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Technology transfer, Weapons, Western militaries | 12 Comments

Scorpene subs now good only for junking: Thank you DCNS!

The Indian Navy’s fleet of the French Scorpene submarine — the first of which, Kalvari, has entered service, is now completely compromized. The most secret data about the performance attributes and technologies incorporated in the Scorpene are now common knowledge, and the details in some 22,000 pages of this project has been “leaked” from the French company DCNS’ facility in France. The gist of these documents is published in the Aussie paper, ‘The Australian’ and is accessible at

The restricted data, per the Australian news story, reveals information in the following broad categories the newspaper has, fortunately, not retailed:

• The stealth capabilities of the six new Indian Scorpene submarines

• The frequencies at which the subs gather intelligence

• The levels of noise the subs make at various speeds

• Diving depths, range and endurance

• Magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data

• Specifications of the submarine’s torpedo launch system and the combat system

• Speed and conditions needed for using the periscope

• Propeller’s noise specifications

• Radiated noise levels when the submarine surfaces

Assuming the DCNS data was stolen from DCNS computers by cyber thieves or by a staffer with eye on the main chance, with the express purpose of derailing DCNS’ contract with Canberra to build six Sorpenes for the Australian Navy, the Indian Navy is a collateral hit — its prospective sea-denial capability a lot of showpiece rubble, its submarines good for nothing when, not if, the China and Pakistan buy the entire stock of documents as they will. Not sure, at this late date, that DCNS can do anything structurally to change the stealth or cavitation parameters, for instance, and if they can, at whose cost? The disclosures about the diving depths, weapons, and sensor specifications are really damaging. Worse, what can or will the Indian Navy now do? Look at the categories and the comprehensive info about the Scorpene, what option’s left other than to junk the nearly $22 billion worth of French submarines?

France has always been distrusted by the US as being unable to safeguard its military secrets. One reason why Washington was relieved when General de Gaulle withdrew France from NATO in June 1966.

This blog has been full of posts retailing my suspicions on various counts about French military hardware in the context of the impending Rafale acquisition decision, and particularly with regard to DCNS’ bid for the Project 75i submarine. Will the Modi regime now go ahead with the Rafale aircraft buy considering its secrets, assuming there are any, may be spirited away from the Dassault vaults and made public as the Scorpene info was from DCNS? And, more worrying still, will Parrikar in order to please Modi, instead of blackballing DCNS for its lax attitude to secret data, shortlist it for the Project 75i?

Have always argued that the only secrets about military hardware India can be sure of is about weapons systems it has fully made itself — from design to delivery. Reason why Tejas, Arihant, Agni missiles are such force multipliers — but little else in the Indian military inventory is as the rest of the stuff is all procured from foreign countries, who will happily reveal their secrets if it serves their national interest. In this respect, recall that during the 1982 Falklands War, France shared with Britain the operating frequencies of the Exocet anti-ship missile it had sold to Argentina. Only Russia has been above board in this respect.

This DCNS leak is a god-sent opportunity for the Indian govt, MOD, and military services to correct their imported armaments-oriented attitude, and to begin investing fully in only indigenous weaponry. If even after this, the Modi-Parrikar duo persists with its tilt favouring Western foreign suppliers, then what’s there to do except await the inevitable — an India fast declining in status and standing.

Posted in arms exports, Asian geopolitics, Australia, China, China military, civil-military relations, Cyber & Space, Defence Industry, domestic politics, DRDO, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, Latin America, Military Acquisitions, Missiles, Pakistan, Pakistan military, society, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Technology transfer, United States, US., Weapons, Western militaries | 10 Comments

Modi’s LEMOA will make targets of Indian bases

Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar is set to visit the US Aug 29-Sept 1. News reports suggest he will travel thither expressly to sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), a suitably worded derivative of the standard Logistics Support Agreement the US requires all its Treaty allies to sign. Parrikar was never enthusiastic about these “foundational” accords but is reduced to being the Sancho Panza to Modi’s Don Quixote.

The Americans are seeking enabling provisions in this agreement to specifically permit US naval and air elements to stage out of Indian air and naval bases, to repair and service its fighting assets, and to preposition critical, high-consumption, spares in special depots protected by US military personnel, etc. Such provisions are apparently proving the stumbling blocks.

Washington wants desperately to resolve these issues and is deploying the US Navy Secretary Ray Mobus and the US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to New Delhi to iron out these wrinkles so there’s a final document for Parrikar and US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to sign end-August. To assist in this process is Ashley Tellis, the only non-head of state foreigner who can have an appointment with Modi whenever Tellis desires it, who is now in Delhi. He is “softening up” MOD officials and preparing the ground for mutually acceptable wording that both parties can live with, and Mobus and James can sign off on. The affable Tellis, the arch fixer, is relied on by the US govt to smoothen things whenever it gets rough in New Delhi. With his deep contacts at the highest levels in PMO and MEA and his reach into the Indian military, he is expected to show the way out. Who is to say he won’t succeed? (Of course. Mobus and James will push the F-16 induction in IAF and production, etc., but these are ultimately sidebars for the media to chew on.)

That the Bharatiya Janata Party regime of Narendra Modi is serious about signing the LEMOA despite its potentially very negative strategic impact, indicates the Indian PM has seemingly gone daft, losing what little strategic sense he may have started out with.

But why is the US so eager? As pointed out in earlier posts, Washington thinks accessing Indian bases and military facilities are crucial to the US sustaining its operational military presence in the Indian Ocean region. It will allow US combat aircraft and warships embarking from Indian bases to be switched east to the South China Sea area or to the Gulf region in the west to provide overlapping coverage in conjunction with the US 5th Fleet assets based in Bahrain and the new and extensive facility the US is constructing at Duqm on the Omani coast, on the one side, and on the other side, with the US military forces based in Singapore and Darwin in northern Australia.

So, what’s the problem with LEMOA? As one understands it, there are sticking points in the draft-agreement originally produced by the US Department of Defense for the Indian MOD to work on. These have to do with writing the enabling provisions in the agreement permitting Indian military facilities to be used for repairing and servicing fighting assets, and storing spares in US military protected encampments. A possible compromise, considering the politically sensitive nature of some of the enabling provisions — such as the one regarding US military personnel protecting these military stores depots and, hence, breaching Indian sovereignty, is for the formal LEMOA to be filled with ambiguous language, but for there to be an accompanying secret document/memorandum detailing the specific terms and conditions that will legally sanction the uses of Indian territory and Indian military bases/facilities/installations/military infrastructure in the prescribed manner. But howsoever much the LEMOA circumscribes the US military presence, it will still mark India as a secondary power and American camp follower.

Other sovereignty-related issues may arise out of the stationing of US troops and military personnel on Indian soil. Whether stationed here or on R&R (rest and recreation), US soldiers, sailors, and airmen — a usually rambunctious lot — in Indian cities will create awkward social, and law and order problems. US may insist that any arrested US personnel will be handled under US law, what then? The social turmoil that could erupt can only be imagined if the long record of US troops proving a handful for the local police and sourcing social disturbance in night clubs and eateries, by “dating” Indian women, etc. Consider the social wreckage left behind by the US military wherever they have been based post-1945. How about Okinawa, where notwithstanding the US military’s presence there for nearly 80 years, the Japanese have been protesting the routine excesses of US troops?

There’s however a far more significant and deadly set of military and national security problems the Modi govt has obviously not given thought to. Consider this scenario, because Iran is very much the US radar: US bombers and strike aircraft, say, fly out of Indian bases to strike Iran. That would torpedo Indo-Iranian relations, of course, but also expose the Indian base(s) in particular, and India in general to retaliatory attacks, entirely legal under international law. But let’s make the scenario more plausible by assuming USAF aerial tankers take off from India to refuel US bombers coming out of Bahrain, on sortie to strike Iranian targets. This doesn’t in any way lessen India’s complicity in the US strike, or weaken Iran’s legal basis for counter-striking India and Indian military targets. This is precisely the sort of situations that could be created by signing LEMOA or any other “foundational” agreement with America.

Conceived above is a scenario involving a lesser power, Iran. But what will happen if India is in any way involved in US actions against China or Russia or their proxies in Asia? It will be a disaster.

If the MEA and PMO haven’t conceived of these dire, but very real possibilities, have the Indian armed services too been so seduced by Tellis’ pleasing demeanor and so deterred by Modi’s manifest desire to please Washington that they have sworn off their duty to alert the govt to the dangers of the course it is following? The pity is the political opposition is in complete disarray and cannot adequately play the Cassandra and sound the tocsin.

The fact is the Modi govt cannot have a LEMOA that will not violate Indian sovereignty. Where’s the urgent need for it, in any case, unless India’s security needs are conflated with those of America’s. As it is, there’s an arrangement that’s been followed since PM Chandrashekhar’s days in the early 1990s when US aircraft could refuel, etc here in India, with permission being given on a case-by-case basis. What are the arguments for upending it, unless the goal, by whatever means, is to make India a formal US dependency.

Unfortunately, my warnings post-1998 N-tests of the strategic perils of getting too close to the US, will come true. Whatever Modi may say, however he may justify the LEMOA, India is set to lose its sovereign decisionmaking status and strategic independence. Ironically, this is the doing of Modi, a man I had very early extolled as the singular nationalist hope to make India a great power. But Narendra Modi, alas, is in a long line of Indian rulers who, lacking strategic vision and the will not to subordinate India to any country in any way for any reason, will bring India down.

Posted in Asian geopolitics, Australia, China, China military, civil-military relations, Culture, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian ecobomic situation, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, indian policy -- Israel, Iran and West Asia, Indian Politics, Iran and West Asia, Relations with Russia, Russia, russian assistance, society, South Asia, South East Asia, Strategic Relations with South East Asia & Far East, United States, US., Weapons, West Asia, Western militaries | 11 Comments

Narrowing the Seas: Security Ramifications of the SCS Verdict

There’s an aspect of China’s seeking to acquire dominance in the South China Sea that the verdict on July 11, 2016, by the International Court of Arbitration at the Hague, did nothing to address and, which difficult military problem, curiously, has not so far been identified in international and regional strategic circles, nor have solutions been bruited about.

The problem concerns China’s narrowing this Sea by, quite literally, creating an obstacle course by forcibly annexing territory belonging to weak states, such as Philippines’ Scarborough Shoal in the Spratly Islands chain, and by creating ‘artificial’ islands. These are impediments designed to compel the navies of out-of-area powers and of the in-region disputant states, and, more generally, the $5 trillion worth of annual ship-borne trade transiting this area through select waterways that the Chinese can more effectively police. It will strategically disadvantage adversary navies, allow Beijing to exercise a whip hand over global and Asian trade, and, otherwise obtain a mere closum (closed sea) that countries will be able to access only at Beijing’s sufferance.

This article briefly examines the security ramifications of this development and proposes certain counter-measures that India, in particular, and other like-minded states, such as Japan, need to take. The most potent solution, it will be argued, is to respond by counter-narrowing the same sea for China. India can do this, it will be contended, by arming ASEAN members, starting with Vietnam, with the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, which will tilt the “exchange ratio” hugely against Chinese warships, and to militarily exploit factors, such as the distance of the disputed islands, rocky outcroppings, and the “artificial” islands from the Chinese mainland against China, and skewing the advantage toward defender states.


But to first set the context: The Hague Court not only rejected outright China’s expansive “nine dash line” claims in the South China Sea but declared illegal its occupation of rocky protuberances that at high tide disappear under water. It also declared illegal the artificial “islands” China has created by pouring cement on coral reefs in order to bolster its spurious claims, saying these do not endow Beijing with any exclusive economic zone rights and privileges, and condemned such manifestations of “land reclamation” on seven features just in the Spratly Islands area alone, and chided China for such construction it said were “incompatible with the obligations on a state during dispute resolution proceedings”. Even if Beijing cannot claim the 12 mile exclusion zones around these newly built islands, it will feel free to consolidate its presence and use them for military purposes.

But the Tribunal did cut the ground from underneath Beijing’s historical basis for its claims. Chinese junks plying the disputed waters in the distant past, it ruled, cannot constitute a foundation for China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea, which the Court virtually dismissed as so much nonsense. “There was no legal basis”, it said unambiguously, for China’s “historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ ”. It is an injunction that will hereafter apply to Chinese claims landward as well, including large parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin in Ladakh.

While the Philippines, which took China to Court, called for “restraint and sobriety” in the wake of the verdict, and was supported by India, Japan, and the United States, who called on all parties to respect it, China, predictably, rejected it. Foreign minister Wang Yi described it as a prescription for “a dose of the wrong medicine, which will not help cure the disease.” He went on to describe the malady as “fever” he accused external forces of “stirring up”. In any case, by imposing an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) and conducting live fire naval drills in the disputed sea conjoined to some severe diplomatic pressure, Beijing succeeded in having the 10-member ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) remove references to the dispute or the Hague verdict in the communiqué issued by the group’s 49th foreign ministers meeting in Laos on July 20. China’s strong arm tactics fit in with its preferred mode of negotiating separately and on bilateral basis with each of the disputant states, something that Beijing believes will render them more amenable. But most legal experts agree that even if the regional states end up dealing singly, one-on-one, with China they will hereon insist on the new legal template established by the Hague Court.

That regional countries are loath to cross China is understandable. They have profited from balancing economic cooperation with China and US’ security assurances. In the weeks prior to the Hague ruling, three US missile destroyers and the nearby USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, had taken to “stalking” the artificial islands, such as those near the Scarborough Shoal the Chinese had forcefully annexed from the Philippines in 2013. These ships operated in the 14-20 nautical mile range of these islands ostensibly on freedom of navigation patrols (FONPs) permitted by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). The US will continue with such operations in the future to assert its rights. And more frequent FONOPs is also what New Delhi should dispatch to these waters to assert India’s right of free and peaceable passage.

Except the United States has not ratified this Convention, and neither has China, even as the ASEAN have done so, as have India in June 1995 and Japan a year later. Hence, such naval and air actions as the US may undertake against Chinese forces under the 2014 Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with Manila, which revives in a way the 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty that became defunct in 1992 with Philippines refusing to extend it could, theoretically, come under a legal cloud, unless the US warships fly the Philippine flag providing Manila and Washington the cover of self-defence, which last will not happen.

Chinese Buildup and US Response

Speed of buildup being of the essence, China, according to satellite intelligence, had by February 2016, erected a high frequency radar on Cuarteron Island able to monitor on real time, 24/7, basis the air and surface traffic in the southern part of the South China Sea, i.e., the northern end of the Malacca Straits. It augmented the radars already on Fiery Cross, Gaven, Hughes and Johnson South Reefs in the Spratlys chain, with helipads, and possible gun and missile emplacements too at some of these posts. Mapping the Chinese land reclamations in the South China Sea indicates a pattern. These are mostly grouped in the spread of the Spratly Islands right smack in the middle of the South China Sea – a quadrant that opens out to the East Sea in the northeast and the Malacca, Lumbok and Sunda Straits to the southwest encompassing most of the main oceanic trade-carrying highways.

To deter US carrier task forces from entering these disputed areas, Beijing has deployed the Dong Feng DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile system along with Hong H-K6 medium bombers (Chinese variant of the Soviet Tu-15) on the islands it has illegally occupied or constructed. The logic obviously is that if the US Navy can be made less confident in these waters, the other countries will offer no resistance at all. These artificial and natural islands bristling with radar/other sensors and weapons systems will constrict the passage ways, and all maritime traffic, including naval movements, through these waters will be subject to Chinese surveillance and effectively pass under Beijing’s control.

While Washington says it will contest what the US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift said at an October 2015 conference in Sydney, is an “egregious” tendency of countries, like China, to “view freedom of the seas as up for grabs, as something that can be taken down and redefined by domestic law or by reinterpreting international law” and to impose “superfluous warnings and restrictions on freedom of the seas in their exclusive economic zones and claim territorial water rights that are inconsistent with [UNCLOS]”, the US is unlikely to come to any ASEAN partner’s aid, EDCA or no EDCA, if this interferes or diverts from the larger US aim of reaching a modus vivendi with Beijing. The US Naval Chief, Admiral John Richardson, made this plain. “Cooperation [with China] would be great”, he said at a Center for New American Security conference held in Washington in June 2016, “competition is fine [but] conflict is the thing that we really want to avoid.” He was reflecting the views of US President Barack Obama, who in early 2016 negatived a muscular approach proposed by the head of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, per a news report, to “counter and reverse China’s strategic gains” in this region.

What India Can and Should Do

Washington’s willingness to compromise with China, and Beijing’s desire to prevent militarily riling America means these two countries will eventually work out a mutually acceptable solution that may not constitute rules-of-the-road for anybody else, or help the ASEAN disputants bolster their individual claims with respect to China. This is the main reason why it is in New Delhi’s interest to be proactive and to coordinate its policies to beef up the dissuasive military capabilities of the ASEAN states with those of, say, Japan. India and Japan cannot anymore afford to fallback on their default position of free riding on America’s security coattails in the hope their interests will be served, or to identify with the US military activity in the South China Sea not aimed at constraining China’s freedom of action.

Which are the littoral and offshore states that have shown the most grit in opposing Beijing? These are Vietnam and Taiwan, followed by Indonesia and Malaysia. Except, Taiwan for political reasons claims exactly the same nine dash-line space as China, and will not array itself against Beijing in this dispute. Empowering Vietnam is the best bet and could have a telling demonstration effect. India has a burgeoning economic stake in the Vietnamese sea territory with the Indian energy major, ONGC Videsh, in 2014 formally joining PetroVietnam to exploit the energy resources in Blocks 102/10 and 106/10 in the Paracel Islands area claimed by China, where it has 40 per cent and 50 per cent share respectively. Assets, such as giant rigs and the underway oil/gas exploration and drilling activity will have to be protected against adversarial actions in what Beijing calls “China administered waters”.

The strategic gains from arming Vietnam with specially devastating armaments having finally dawned on the Indian government, New Delhi agreed to sell/transfer to Hanoi the indefensible Brahmos supersonic cruise missile. Operationally deployed in coastal batteries and on Vietnamese warships and submarines, the Brahmos will have a chilling effect on the Chinese Navy’s secret “Fourth Fleet” tasked for the Indian Ocean and co-located with the South Sea Fleet on the Sanya naval base on Hainan Island. It could lead to Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia seeking similar armaments. With all these countries so armed, the same sea will be effectively narrowed and rendered equally dangerous for Chinese merchantmen and naval ships acting belligerently. When a cruise missile costing Rs. 10 crore can take out a destroyer costing Rs. 7,000 crore, Chinese commanders will soon face a huge operational dilemma. It will immediately inhibit Chinese commanders from casually ordering their vessels on provocative missions and combatant ship captains from courting risk. In this respect, China will also discover that the relatively long distance from the mainland to the disputed area can become a liability in terms of sustaining offensive naval or other military action. Scarborough Shoal, only 145 miles west eastern most island of the Philippines, is some 620 miles from the Chinese coast.

Thus, BrahMos versus Chinese warships, militarily exploiting the distance-differential from home areas, etc. are the sorts of asymmetries that countries within and without the South China Sea region need urgently to exacerbate. It is the only way to prevent China dominating the South China Sea.

Published in ‘SP’s MAI’ (Fortnightly), Issue No. 16, 2016, at

Posted in arms exports, Asian geopolitics, China, China military, Defence Industry, DRDO, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Army, Indian ecobomic situation, Indian Navy, Military Acquisitions, Missiles, Northeast Asia, SAARC, society, South Asia, South East Asia, Strategic Relations with South East Asia & Far East, United States, US., Vietnam, Weapons | 9 Comments

Boeing C-17s, Shashikant Sharma, & accountability

It is curious that the mainstream Indian press and media that raise hell when it comes to anything going wrong with ex-Russian military hardware are strangely silent and fail even to report the findings of the Comptroller and Accountant General regarding problems with Western and US-sourced equipment and platforms. The bulk of the $13+ billion defence purchases from the US over the past decade and more, have been made of high value transport aircraft — the C-17 Globemaster III long haul, heavy duty, planes, and the more versatile C-130J Hercules airlifters that can also double up for expeditionary missions. A govt-to-govt deal was signed in June 2011 for an initial order of 10 C-17s valued in excess of US$ 4.12 billion (Rs 18,645.85 crore).

It is a very good thing IAF finally prioritized distant logistics capability and acquired the C-17s able, in theory, to deliver 70 tonnes payload over 4,200 kms, or some 40 tonnne load to 9,000 kms. So far so good. Now here’s where the glitches begin. A number of precursor conditions needed to obtain for these aircraft to perform optimally in IAF service. A C-17 training simulator had to be set up in and activated PRIOR to the delivery of the planes, so that pilots of the IAF’s 81 Squadron based at Hindan AFB, would have acquired familiarity with on-board systems and operating procedures and protocols, and achieved a certain level of handling knowledge and proficiency before they took to the air. Indeed, it is mandatory that each air crew pull on the simulator 1,700 hours per year for initial qualification, quarterly certification, and “instructional and role clearance and special operations”.

The IAF, as the CAG report notes, wanted one simulator installed and functioning a minimum of THREE MONTHS months “before the delivery” of the first C-17. As per the offset contract (of June 2011), simulator services in India were to be made available by July 2013 for the planes inducted in the period June 2013-December 2014. Audit observed that Boeing “was yet to setup” the simulator through its Indian Offset partners — Mahindra Defence Systems and Tata Consultancy Services, with total value of offsets pertaining to equipment worth US$ 135.08 million (Rs 611.92 crores) for maintenance training simulator and flying training simulator. The lack of these facilities were being made up by 81 Squadron “routing pilots for simulator training” with US Air Force “as per slots given by the US Government”.

Nice. So, there’s actually an incentive for IAF not to make a fuss or the CO, 81 Sqdn, not to agitate for establishing simulators in-country, because air crews and maintenance personnel now get to do their training in America, if this could be for the lifetime of the aircraft, what better? Who can object to such a pleasing arrangement?? Certainly nobody in the IAF!!!

Likewise, the “specialist” ground infrastructure costing US$152.75 million (Rs 723.27 crore), had to be created by Boeing with the programme executed, for quality control purposes, by the US Army Corps of Engineers nominated by Washington (presumably, along with the Indian offset partner, L&T), BEFORE the arrival of the aircraft in June 2013. While as of September 2015, only 54% of the work had been completed, “the completion of the infrastructure” was, CAG says, expected by Dec 2015. Whether this work is finished, CAG Report doesn’t say. Perhaps, as part of the infrastructure, high quality runways with specified pavement classification number (PCN) of 75 are required for C-17s to fly their full load of 70 tonnes. Again, this needed to be in place PRIOR to the induction in IAF of this plane at all the bases planning to host this aircraft — besides Hindan, at Sirsa, Sarsawa, Jammu, Pathankot, Udhampur, with another four airfields Western Air Cmd decided in Dec 2013 would undergo evaluation for PCN upgrade — Awantipur, Chandigarh, and Thoise.

CAG faults IAF for not assessing “suitability of its runways before induction”. The result is sheer “underutilization of pay load capacity”, according to CAG, with C-17s carrying as little as 17 tonnes on sorties and averaging around 26-35 tonnes. “Thus, a costly national asset, procured for carrying heavy loads was not being used as per its capacity.” Vayu Bhavan’s criminally wasteful, kaam chalauu, attitude is reflected in its explanation in April 2016 to CAG: that the C-17 “is capable of operating from runways with lesser PCN value in case situation demands such operation.” And that this assessment “holds good partially in respect of 14 airfields” found “unsuitable for operation” because of “low PCN values and ground maneuvering requirements.” In other words, IAF was prepared, underutilized carrying capacity apart, for faster degrade of the C-17s themselves operating from sub-par runways.

Deficient infrastructure included, of course, absence of ground equipment such as ground handling equipment (forklifts) and for “palletization” and specially trained handlers for them that would have enabled “reduce(d) ground time of a strategic asset whose main aim was rapid deployment”. All there was to expedite loading/unloading is a 13-tonne forklifter occupying 35% of the available cargo space being carried onboard by all C-17s. This requires a couple of sorties to the same destination where just one would have sufficed. The cost penalties are huge considering the cost per flying hour is Rs 43. 19 lakh, which CAG deems “imprudent”.

So, how come IAF and its C-17s are in this mess? The CAG Report plainly blames the fact that “although schedule of quarterly payment to the US Government was defined in the LOA (Letter of Offer & Acceptance) but there was no condition stipulated for imposition of penalty for delay in supplies/delivery of infrastructure services.” In other words, there is an obligation for Boeing to be paid on time and the US Government to deliver, but no obligation for Boeing to deliver, other than the aircraft itself, on the contracted services and infrastructure related to efficient operations of this aircraft. Legally then, Boeing and USG need not deliver the infrastructure until near the end of the lifetime of the aircraft! Not that the IAF cares!

But here’s the nub of the whole issue. How did this substantively flawed and faulty contract pass muster with the Ministry of Defence, and who is responsible for it? Well, the Director-General, Acquisitions, in MOD in June 2013, when the LOA was signed was one Shashikant Sharma, IAS, and hence directly responsible for accepting this contract. Sharma demitted the office of DG, Acquisitions, the next month (in July 2013) but not before concluding the Augusta-Westland VVIP helicopter deal — remember that scam? — for which he was rewarded with posting as Defence Secretary, retiring from which capacity he was appointed CAG by the Manmohan Singh’s Congress party government. And it is as CAG that he now has the chutzpah to pronounce on the shortfalls of the C-17 contract, which he was originally responsible for in the first place. Very rich.

As stated in earlier blogs, Shashikant Sharma on his retirement as CAG in 2017, needs to be investigated for his hand in the Agusta scam, but also for the C-17 fiasco. A start has been made by the CBI fingering HC Gupta (Retd, IAS) former Coal Secretary for the scam in that Ministry during the Manmohan years. There are more important, national security, reasons for investigating Shashikant Sharma and jailing him with a stiff sentence. It will have a huge effect on bureaucrats. Unless accountability becomes the norm, the present phenomenally lax system, ultimately of financial resources mismanagement, will persist, and India willfully reduced, by its minders, to a pauper.

Posted in civil-military relations, corruption, Culture, Defence Industry, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian democracy, Indian ecobomic situation, Indian Politics, Military Acquisitions, Russia, russian assistance, society, South Asia, Special Forces, Strategic Relations with the US & West, United States, US., Weapons | 11 Comments

Sinking feeling — Modi’s I-Day speech

India is going to advance despite its government, not because of it. It is BJP today, some Congress coalition tomorrow, or a third front regime the next day, the dispensation in New Delhi of the moment will talk big, flaff on a bit, but accomplish little where it counts — on the ground.

This was Narendra Modi’s third address from the Red Fort. The first was uplifting, broke new ground, a PM who spoke feelingly about poverty, which he experienced at first hand which almost no predecessor in his office ever did, and surprised one and all with his earthy and candid raising of the issue of open defecation. Such a leader, it was hoped, would be relied upon to begin alleviating poverty, and ending rural and even urban India’s defecatory habits, using practical means. Modi is using his PM-ship as a bully pulpit alright but, two years later, no visible progress on these fronts is seen. Modi acknowledged as much, saying that the problem of delivery of public services, subsidies, and cash handouts to the deserving poor through the Nandan Nilekani-helmed Aadhar programme, the “last man” delivery problem, remains.

The Second Lal Qila speech was in the “holding” course . Today’s address however reeked of that old Soviet malady that Indian “socialist” leaders perfected (which Modi hinted at) — achievement measured in terms of enumeration of government statistics relating to how much of this and how much of that, and announcement of new government programmes. How much of what Modi claimed as delivered actually exists on the ground? Take the project taken up to build lakhs of latrines in villages. Assuming these are not all only on paper but can be found in brick and mortar form, how to ensure that villagers in fact use it for the purpose they are intended when news reports suggest that the country folk insist on enjoying squatting in the fields so they can commune with nature while the gentle morning breeze fans their bottoms? Or, the matter of cleaning the Ganga River — where there’s almost no improvement except a sweeping of the Varanasi ghats for the TV cameras every time the PM is in his constituency. And, while Modi spoke of the buying of train tickets and securing of passports by the common man being hassle-free, is that really the situation? In lieu of substantive results, he has, it seems, taken refuge behind information forwarded him by the various secretaries to the government and the army of babus who are past masters at obfuscation, siphoning off funds into their pockets, and otherwise potemkinising a ramshackle reality. In the face of negligible change in the attitude and functioning of even the centrally controlled administrative apparatus, the (yet another) new slogan he coined — “Reform, Perform, Transform” to describe extant mode of governance, at best, occasions jest.

Finally, a PM has woken up to treating J&K issue as a whole and speaking about the so-called “Northern Areas” in the Pakistan Army parlance — Gilgit and Baltistan, besides Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. I have been pleading for 30 years now that GOI make of Gilgit and Baltistan a ram to batter Pakistan’s Kashmir advocacy with. Hereon, hopefully, MEA and its far-flung stations will highlight Gilgit and Baltistan whenever Kashmir comes up. Except, as some former MEA-types have noted, the raising of the Baluchistan issue by the PM has the obvious downside of now providing Islamabad with evidence of the Indian hand in the ongoing strife and turmoil in Baluchistan. However, the television snippets of Brahmdagh Bugti, a grandson of the Baloch Tribal Sardar, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, attacked and killed by the Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group (Special Operations) on General Parvez Musharraf’s orders in March 2005, thanking India and Indians for supporting the cause of Baloch freedom, was perfectly fine as a psyop to unsettle Islamabad and GHQ, Rawalpindi. That’s the way to keep up the pressure.

But the section of his speech on foreign affairs was nevertheless a curious thing. He talked of interdependence just when the great powers and the international system is turning inward, stressing sovereign imperatives, as I predicted and have analyzed in all my books. If this is meant as a policy template to justify the BJP government’s decision to bull ahead imprudently and court some serious strategic dangers for the country (as explicated in my latest book and in many previous posts), and finally sign, what American officials call, the “foundational” accords, then Modi may be best remembered for irreversibly shrinking India’s stature and standing in the world and hurting the national interest. The first such accord is the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement, the draft of the standard Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) the Pentagon passed on to the MEA to amend only at the margins, is what defmin Manohar Parrikar is expected to sign when he visits Washington soon.

And, more predictably, while he waxed eloquent about Pakistan’s support for terrorism, he failed to mention even by indirection, China. If Modi continues to make so fundamental a mistake as misperceiving the primary military threat to the nation, and commits to the extraordinary misstep of allying formally with the US — no amount of parsing the truth will get around the fact that only formal US allies have LSAs/LEMOAs with America, and the lesser one of publicly disclosing Baluchis thanking him, what hope is there that Modi will do anything else right in the national security and external realms (that are directly managed by Modi and his PMO bypassing, in the process, the defence ministry and MEA)?

Posted in Asian geopolitics, China, China military, corruption, Culture, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, guerilla warfare, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian democracy, Indian ecobomic situation, Indian Politics, Internal Security, Pakistan, Pakistan military, society, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, United States, US., Western militaries | 19 Comments