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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

From Today's Papers - 21 Jan 2015

Pak fortifies posts along border
Positions terrorists in forward areas facing Samba, Jammu sectors
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, January 20
Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit next week, Pakistan has also beefed up its posts with more men on the 198-km-long international border in the Jammu region.

Pakistan Rangers have also kept terrorists in civvies in some selected houses in forward villages on their side of the border.

The international border runs from Paharpur in Kathua to the Chicken Neck area of Akhnoor in Jammu district. Pakistan calls it a working boundary.

However, the BSF didn’t see any Pakistan army movement on the other side of the divide. “Pakistan Rangers have definitely increased their manpower in their posts on their side of the international border. Pakistani posts that had two to four men earlier now have six or even more Rangers. Technical intelligence didn’t suggest any Pakistan army movement on the other side so far,” a top BSF source told The Tribune.

He said in the wake of Obama’s visit, the Pakistan Rangers and the ISI had kept terrorists in areas facing Samba, Hiranagar, Arnia and Akhnoor sub-sectors.

“They (ultras) have been kept in civvies in some selected houses in forward villages of Pakistan opposite these sub-sectors and the Rangers are facilitating them,” he said.

In fact, these terrorists were moved into these villages during the recently held Assembly polls in the state, he added.

During the early January flare-up on the border, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and mastermind of Mumbai terror attacks Hafiz Saeed was seen in a Pakistani post opposite the Samba sector.

The source said that these villages were located some 3 or 4 km away from the Zero Line on the Pakistani side.

“Just a couple of days ago, a foot patrol of the BSF had observed three suspected militants in civvies, who had moved very close to the international border and were hiding behind the Pakistani embankment opposite Arnia. We had to use preventive fire to deal with them,” he said.

However, Intelligence inputs suggest that Pakistan may try to carry out terror attacks and try intrusion bids. To thwart its sinister plans, the BSF has been keeping a 24x7 vigil.

Yesterday, BSF Jammu Frontier, IG, RK Sharma had stated that the force had moved the reserves all along the sensitive border.
Chinook, Apache copters’ deal unlikely during Obama visit
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 20
The deal to acquire US-manufactured 47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and AH-64D Apache attack helicopters is unlikely to materialise during US President Barack Obama's January 24 visit.

The files to process the purchase of 15 of the 47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and 22 AH-64D Apache attack helicopters by the Indian Air Force (IAF) are still awaiting clearances from the finance wing of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The deal is estimated to cost US $2.5 billion (approx Rs 15,000 crore) to India.

Two more steps are to be completed before a contract can be signed with Boeing, the manufacturer of the copters. Once the MoD's finance wing clears it, the Finance Ministry will present the casebefore the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to take a call on it.

With five days to go for the scheduled meet between Modi and Obama, it seems unlikely that the contract can be inked for now. The two leaders may make a statement of intent for speeding up matter, but a final signing of a contract looks unlikely even as the cost negotiations have been completed.

Sources in the MoD said: "We are not working as per the timelines of high-profile visits such as Obama's as multi-billion dollar deals need due diligence and the observations, if any, recorded on file."

The deal to acquire two separate types of specialised helicopters — one used in attack role and the other for lifting heavy load — indicates a shift in New Delhi preferences for buying military equipment. At present, the IAF has been using Russian/Soviet-produced helicopters for these roles.
Army set to upgrade its communication network
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
About nine years after the Army set up its Army Wide Area Network (AWAN) to meet its requirements for futuristic network centric operations, it is now upgrading the facility _to overcome certain functional deficiencies and expand its reach.

Launched in February 2006, AWAN is a desktop-to-desktop- system connecting formations, units, training establishments and logistic installations across the country by providing secure exchange of information, including audio and video interface, directly from one user to another without intermediate manual handling.

The first phase of the system, according to a request for information floated by the army for upgradation, has limited reach and capability, which the proposed project seeks to enhance.

The system at present connects 175 centres. The upgrade envisions installing communication nodes at 300-500 locations pan India and this _number is expected to increase further.

While most of the modes would be static, a certain number would be mobile, vehicle mounted units to cater to operation requirements. All nodes would be manageable through a central control point and also be integrated with the army’s Combat Radio Net.

While the Army is seeking private participation in the venture for setting up the infrastructure, hardware and basic software, it has barred participation of any foreign firm or inspection of the facilities by any foreigner. Encryption units for secure transmission would be sources separately. The first phase of AWAN was also established as a turnkey project by the private sector.

The AWAN had replaced the Automatic Message Switching System which was introduced in the mid-1980s as it was unable _to meet the Army’s requirement due to its slow speed and technological obsolescence.
India-US defence ties grow with assertive Modi govt
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has continued the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's strategic policy of multi-alignment, pursuing close ties with each of the world's major power centres; leveraging each relationship with the combined weight of the others. Even so, New Delhi is nurturing some ties more carefully, especially those with the US and Japan - which have strategic and military components, as well as powerful economic drivers. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the chief guest at Republic Day last year, and US President Barack Obama will attend the parade in New Delhi this year.

The Washington-New Delhi embrace had already built up steam under the UPA, with US officials visiting India practically every week. However, former prime minister Manmohan Singh's administration carefully underplayed the engagement - largely due to opposition from within his party, especially from his defence minister, A K Antony. Influential US thinkers like Ashley Tellis complained: "The bilateral partnership is not going forward, only sideways."

That is in the past. Now the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, with a confident prime minister in the driving seat, has rebranded the US-India relationship with the vibrant symbolism of Narendra Modi's jamboree at Madison Square Garden in New York. This would only be enhanced next week by President Obama's two-hour appearance amid Indian throngs on January 26.
While the two governments engage across a plethora of issues, both see defence and security as holding the greatest promise for mutual benefit. So far, only intelligence cooperation has seen a real convergence, driven partly by the domain expertise of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Top Indian intelligence officials say there is an unprecedented level of intelligence sharing, including on topics that both sides earlier regarded as off-limits. New Delhi is especially pleased with information about India-focused groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

In contrast, defence cooperation has not achieved its potential. Both sides agree privately that China constitutes a common challenge. Yet, with New Delhi unwilling to align overtly with Washington, cooperation is couched in the rubric of humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) and "protection of the global commons", through counter-piracy missions and upholding the right to navigation through international waters.

Even so, US-India bilateral army, navy and air force exercises have grown in frequency, scope and sophistication. The US now does more exercises with India than with any other country, such as the annual Exercise Malabar that involves both navies. In 2007, the scope of Malabar had been vastly expanded with the additional participation of the Australian, Japanese and Singapore navies. After China expressed concern, New Delhi hastily reverted to a bilateral Malabar. But India again invited Japan in 2014 and appears likely to expand Malabar further.

The US-India equipment relationship has so far remained a buyer-seller one. Last February, Jane's Defence Group named the US as India's biggest arms supplier in 2013, supplanting Russia, France and Israel. Interpreting arms sales is an inexact science but various compilations, such as one by Dinshaw Mistry of the US-based East-West Center, concludes US sales have topped $9 billion over the past decade.

India's arms purchases of $400 million in 2001-2004 expanded during the 2005-2008 period to over $3.2 billion. This includes the USS Trenton, an amphibious ship, for $50 million, twenty General Electric F-404 engines for the Tejas fighter for $100 million, six C-130J Super Hercules special mission aircraft for almost $1 billion, and eight Boeing P-8I maritime control aircraft for $2.1 billion.

From 2009 to 2013, India's defence purchases from the US grew to $5.7 billion. These include 500 CBU-97 sensor-fuzed weapons for Jaguar aircraft for $250 million, 40 Harpoon anti-ship missiles for $370 million, six additional C-130J Hercules for about $1 billion and 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster-III transport aircraft for $4.12 billion.

Over the coming year or two, India could buy another $8.3 billion worth of US kit. In the procurement pipeline are 145 howitzers from BAE Systems for about $700 million, 22 Apache AH-64E attack helicopters for $1.4 billion. 275 F-125 aircraft engines for Jaguars for about $2 billion, 50 F-404 aircraft engines worth $250 million, four additional P-8I aircraft for $1 billion, 15 Chinook CH-47F heavy-lift helicopters for $1 billion, and six more C-17 transport aircraft for $2 billion.

Now Modi's Make in India campaign is reinforcing New Delhi's longstanding preference for co-manufacturing and co-developing weaponry, rather than simply buying equipment from the US. This faces structural constraints, given America's rigid export control regimes that condition technology transfer on close scrutiny and time-consuming permissions. To bridge this gap between New Delhi's and Washington's bureaucracies, and to jointly identify opportunities for defence cooperation, the two governments set up the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) in 2012, co-chaired by senior officials from both sides.

Though the DTTI was driven hard from Washington by the then deputy secretary of state, Ashley Carter, it achieved little due to the UPA defence ministry's reluctance to engage on this platform. National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon co-chaired DTTI from the Indian side, with the ministry playing almost no role.

Now, circumstances are again propitious for a rejuvenated DTTI. The India-friendly Ashley Carter has been named US Secretary of Defense, while the NDA government has named Secretary of Defence Production

G Mohan Kumar to co-chair the DTTI, alongside US Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Licensing Frank Kendall.

A highlight of Obama's visit could be the signing of a New Framework Defence Agreement between the two countries, which would be valid for a decade from mid-2015. The earlier agreement, signed in Washington in 2005, mandated 13 areas of cooperation, but the Pentagon believes New Delhi has stonewalled throughout. US negotiators are now trying to incorporate oversight and review mechanisms in the new framework agreement, so that cooperation targets can be set and monitored.
Are you ready, India?
It won't be all eye-candy for Barack Obama when he gazes down at the Rajpath from his VIP enclosure on January 26, or when he looks up to watch the flypast finale to India's Republic Day parade, a first time for any US president. He will see, and applaud, the huge US-made Super Hercules and Globemaster airlifters flying over the Rajpath, but the show-stealer of the day will be a flight of brand new Russian-made MiG-29K maritime jets, flown to date only by Indian and Russian pilots.

Ten years after Pranab Mukherjee, who will be Obama's host, signed a defence framework agreement as Manmohan Singh's defence minister with US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the US finds old rival Russia still dominating the Indian defence scene. The Americans, who began by selling a few weapon-locating radars for $200 million in 2003-04, have since sold ware worth more than $10 billion, including landing ship Jalashwa, 10 C-17 Globemasters, 12 C-130J Super Hercules and 8 P-8I anti-submarine aircraft, air-to-ground missiles and gear for special forces. Another bunch of deals, worth over $4 billion to sell 22 Apache attack choppers, 15 Chinook heavy-lift and 16 Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopters, is in the works.

Yet, the US has not got a single deal which could make India a long-term customer, no breakthrough deal like India's half-a-century-old MiG-21 buy. Not only did the 1961 MiG deal entail transfer of whole plant and technology for making in India the first supersonic fighters, then a global novelty, but it also spawned several decades-long service and maintenance contracts, and follow-on orders for MiG-21 Biz, MiG-23, MiG-25, MiG-27 and MiG-29. The trust that the one MiG deal built earned Russia hundreds of big and small deals for a huge array of military ware, and culminated in the unique joint development of the cruise missile BrahMos and supersecret technologies for Sukhoi-30MKI.

Though the US is fast catching up with Russia in dollar value of deals, it is yet to get a mascot order of the MiG kind. All of India's deals with the US have been off-the-shelf one-time purchases. They don't involve any follow-on orders, licensed production in India or co-production, future upgrade, technology transfer or even a long-term customer service. The deal for 126 fighter-jets, a long-term deal in which the Americans came in as serious contenders with their F-16 and F-18, did not go the US way either.

Not that they didn't try. The Pentagon's foreign military sales chief visited Delhi eight times in those two years to persuade India. The Americans had become so pestering that at one Army Day gathering, defence minister A.K. Antony publicly fended off ambassador Tim Roemer by asking him about Australia. The heartburn over the loss of the fighter deal cost Roemer his job, and took Indo-US ties to a new low.

The 2005 nuclear deal that Manmohan Singh signed with George W. Bush within a month of the Mukherjee-Rumsfeld defence agreement, too, has been a non-starter, thanks to a law made rigorous at the instance of the left parties and Narendra Modi's BJP, then in the opposition. The law makes foreign suppliers of equipment liable to pay damages in case of any accident in a plant operated by an Indian entity. As an India-born GE executive told THE WEEK, "the Americans felt cheated", after they had gone all the way to get global legitimacy for India's nuclear programme.

Such irritants could have still been talked out, but then came the Devyani Khobragade affair, and then the general elections in India, which prevented serious diplomacy.

The rise to power of a business-friendly Modi rekindled US hopes. Though his September visit to the US was sold by Modi's PR managers as a gallery event for the Indian community in the US, his foreign office mandarins managed to make it a 'working visit' (less than a state visit) where the "two leaders got to know each other," as Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh put it.

The visit, if nothing else, got the two sides to bury the Khobragade hatchet and got them talking. During the White House non-dinner (a Navratra-fasting Modi didn't eat), Modi laid bare his nuclear cards before Obama¯there was no way he could go back to Parliament and get a watered-down liability law.

But the two still needed each other. India needed US economic and strategic backing to stand up to China; the US needed India, along with Japan, Australia and other eastern allies, to 'act' in the east and keep China under check. India needed technology and capital; US companies needed manufacturing bases and markets. So get them to invest in his Make in India programme.

But then, the US, which had staked too much on the nuclear deal, wanted it desperately, at least to pacify the non-proliferation hawks in the US who have been carping that India got away with a very weak additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency, thanks to US support. The campaign was also getting personal for Obama. Comparisons were being made about how an exuberant Bush had charmed an intellectual but demure Manmohan Singh into the nuclear deal, but an intellectual Obama had failed to impress either Manmohan or an ebullient Modi.

Modi and Obama left the dinner after deciding to set up a contract group to discuss all nuclear-related issues, "including, but not limited to administrative issues, liability, technical issues, and licensing to facilitate the establishment of nuclear parks, including power plants with Westinghouse and GE-Hitachi technology".

By early November, Modi's PMO asked the foreign office about getting Obama as R-Day guest. The response that the foreign office got from Washington was clear: Obama didn't want a repeat of his 2010 visit, a photo op that had achieved nothing. There have to be deliverables this time.

Officials on both sides have since been furiously working to deliver. Though Secretary of State John Kerry indicated at his Vibrant Gujarat news conference on January 12 that talks are on four issues, indications are that there could be breakthroughs in two¯nuclear and defence¯and much progress in clean energy and climate change issues.

A team of actuaries in Mumbai had already been tasked by the atomic energy department to work on whether there could be insurance solutions to the nuclear impasse. At the contact group meeting on December 16, the Indian side proposed an insurance risk-cover pool of about $242 million, which would indemnify equipment suppliers in case of any accident. "We are working fast to address the concerns of suppliers," admitted Atomic Energy Commission Chairman R.K. Sinha. "We are working on a solution with the insurance companies." French power firm Areva, meanwhile, has cautiously welcomed the idea as an "encouraging signal".

THE PROBLEM, as the actuaries point out, is that the price of power generated from the multiple-insured reactors would be too high. Also, as strategic analyst Brigadier (retd) Gurmeet Kanwal pointed out, “With the fall in the crude oil prices, the price of nuclear energy is going to go up, making negotiations over nuclear energy difficult for every project under construction." Moreover, the bargaining power of the US has come down after Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his November visit to India, offered 12 more reactors.

The US, too, has upped its ante, insisting on bilateral safeguards in addition to the civil-military separation plan that India has submitted to the IAEA. Apparently, the US is not comfortable with a new fuel facility that India has built near Mysuru, but India insists that it has all the latitude to build any facility for its strategic purposes. Atomic energy experts believe that the objection is being raised only as a bargaining chip.

The bigger pie, as the US looks at it, would be in the military-strategic field. Interestingly, that is one field where both sides want to get closer but just can't, because of a host of historical and technological reasons. The Mukherjee-Rumsfeld agreement has now run for 10 years, and despite pious statements about partnerships, "we have been only in a buyer-seller relationship with the US," said defence industry expert Deba R. Mohanty. "But this time, India wants access to the technology for developing an advanced industry here. This is difficult to achieve."

There had been a bouquet of proposals from the US under the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative started by Shivshankar Menon, former national security adviser, and Ashton Carter, former US deputy secretary of defence (tipped to be the next defence secretary), but only the Javelin anti-tank missile programme has been taken up. More technology projects have been identified after Modi's visit. The three services have given the defence ministry a long list of technologies they would like to get from the US.

The list would be a "little disappointing to arms salesmen", since there are few complete weapons asked for, "but it actually offers the US several opportunities to make their MiG moment," said a ministry official. The wish is for engines, unmanned aerial vehicles, next-generation anti-tank missiles, ship guns and radars. "It shows that the services have faith in US technology, but not in the US as a supplier," said the official. They want India's Defence Research and Development Organisation and manufacturing companies to buy, acquire and further develop the technologies.

US assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs Puneet Talwar was in Delhi early December to discuss possibilities of co-production, co-development and technology transfer. "We have been discussing more than a dozen co-production and co-development projects," he told a gathering at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in Delhi. The main problem is the restrictive US laws which prevent any technology transfer, unless the buyer agrees to a host of agreements that cripple his freedom to use the equipment. Antony is said to have put up brave fights against US attempts to impose end-user conditions and in the process got a bad name as a deal-breaker.

The hope for the US companies is that they will be able to partner with Indian firms in Make in India programme, send integrated components and get them assembled into full-fledged systems in plants set up by their Indian partners. As much was admitted by Talwar. The DTTI, he said, "only complements the Make in India initiative". Said Air Vice Marshal (retd) Arvind Walia, the south Asia head of US helicopter-maker Sikorsky: "We have expressed our support for Modi's Make in India project. Recently we produced the 100th fully indigenous cabin for our S-92 helicopter. It has helped us also to cut our production cost."

Such programmes would involve very little transfer of technology, and thus would not violate the restrictive US laws on export of basic designs and drawings. Delegations led by Defence Production Secretary G. Mohan Kumar and Under Secretary Frank Kendall will meet on January 22 to finalise the DTTI.

Another area where breakthrough announcements are expected is clean energy and climate change. The Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology in Modi's own Ahmedabad has been chosen to be the focal point of PACE (Partnership to Advance Clean Energy), a programme mentioned in the Obama-Modi joint statement of September. IIM Ahmedabad, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur and other techno-schools hope to be part of the clean and efficient energy technology programmes. “Everyone in the IIT and the IIM circles is awaiting the Indo-US energy partnership to take off, but for some reason, we are stuck to the blackboard level. Nothing seems to be moving forward fast,” said Hardik Sangvi, an entrepreneur from IIM-A.

However, as former US ambassador to India Frank Wisner points out, the full spectrum of energy partnership will take off only after the nuclear partnership does. That will start a new strategic dialogue aimed at making India a lead partner in the US-dominated Asia-Pacific community. That much has been hinted when Obama, in his Brisbane G-20 speech, welcomed India into the Asia-Pacific.

The problem for India is: its spirit is willing, but physique is holding back. The other players in the region, be it old friend Russia or old rivals China or Pakistan, have signalled that they would finesse any Indian bid to join  any kind of grand, US-presided Asia-Pacific strategic partnership. There is nothing that Indian strategic planners dread more than a strategic ganging up by Russia, China and Pakistan. Putin's recent offer of military helicopters to Pakistan, breaching Russia's half-a-century-old vow not to arm Pakistan, is seen as a signal of his displeasure.

The picture thus emerging on the eve of Obama's MiG moment thus is not one of easy choices for India. Expectations in the US are swinging between extremes. "Modi is overcoming decades of Indian sensitivity over its foreign policy tradition of non-alignment. He's demonstrating that he is unafraid of the inevitable charge that he's leaning towards the US," wrote Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC. But the sight of Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov, whom the US calls an usurper and Moscow's stooge, in Putin's delegation to India poured cold water on such hopes. Indian officials have explained to Washington that his presence was a surprise to them, too, but Washington has not been convinced.

The choices are not easy for the US either. Despite all the Indian protestations, the US has made it clear that it cannot dump Pakistan, and has even offered it special military assistance, provoking a peeved Indian foreign office spokesman Syed Akbaruddin to say: "How the government of the United States of America decides to spend US tax-payers' money is entirely its prerogative." Similarly, after his effusive commitment to walk hand-in-hand (chalein, saath saath) with Modi at the Vibrant Gujarat jamboree, Kerry flew to Islamabad to smoothen the ruffled feathers there.

Pakistan has been signalling to the US against getting into any kind of deal with India behind its back. Pakistan, the US knows well, still holds the key to Afghanistan and the energy-rich central Asia. If Russia, China and Pakistan get together to 'manage' Afghanistan after the proposed US exit, that would be the end of American presence not only in central Asia, but even in the entire Middle East and the Islamic world. That would leave most of the resource-rich Asian landmass in Russian and Chinese hands with Pakistan plucking its fruits at will, while the US would be holding the oceans and their littoral.

And India? In the Indian Ocean deep waters.

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