Lavoy — Nukes in S Asia; India in Afghanistan, please!

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?

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, civil-military relations, Geopolitics, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, indian policy -- Israel, Iran and West Asia, Indian Politics, Internal Security, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, Special Forces, Strategic Relations with the US & West and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Lavoy — Nukes in S Asia; India in Afghanistan, please!

  1. Madhav says:

    Wouldn’t increasing Indian presence in Afghanistan be better from our point of view, like keeping China out or at least check its presence in Afghanistan especially in lieu of the vast mineral deposits like lithium, aluminum etc? It could also serve as a gateway to central asian countries. As far as pak’s protestations are concerned, we could handle them (as you say there is no “nuclear flashpoint”). We could unilaterally withdraw Prithvis from the border or concentrate on other CBMs like you have suggested in the past, but making Indian presence in afghanistan non-negotiable. In this case would it not be better for us to oblige the americans? After all what can pak do to us that it is not doing already?

    • The more one thinks about it, the more necessary an Indian military-intel presence in Afghanistan becomes for a hopst of geostrategic reasons. And especially to link up with the Indian presence already in Ainee, Tajikistan.

  2. Jagdish says:

    The India in Afghanistan will not go anywhere, IMO

    Every US-Pak Afghan agreement has an “unwritten” clause. No Indian in Afghanistan. I do not think, our CBM with Pakistan have reached a level, where they will allow this. Yes, they effectively hold a veto at the end of the day. The great US is helpless on the matter, due to geography and demographics of the Af-Pak region. We need to start small. Real small. Like allow non-military items to pass through Pakistan to reach Afghanistan and beyond.

    Like it or not, India is an island at present.

  3. NK says:

    Bharat Sir, in your assessment, how good is our overall intel in locating Paki nukes?

    Second, your article suggests 2 Indian cities for near certain extinction of Pak. Does it mean we have that many Fission nukes? We can’t be sure of our Fusion nukes.

    • Pakis usually talk of a US-Israeli-Indian condominium to identify the sites where their nuclear weapons are located and say, they fear, 70% of their forces are “mapped”. Hard to separate an Indian capability out if this. Except, for obvious reasons we have the best ground level humint, even as Israel and the US concentrate on their sensors and elint/techint prowess.

  4. Jagdish says:

    See this for how long did this latest drama last. BTW: The Air corridor was never shut.

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