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India can’t do a ‘Geronimo’

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Lt Gen Harwant Singh (retd).

Consequent to American operation ‘Geronimo,’ at Abbottabad in Pakistan to eliminate Osama bin Laden, many in civil society have been asking whether India can go ahead with a similar operation. ‘Geronimo’ involved painstaking intelligence work spread over many years, though the final ‘fine- tuning’ took seven months or so. Detailed intelligence work and application of cutting edge technology apart, it required an enormous amount of co-ordination among those in the higher echelons of the civil administration and military high command as well as with the one who was to control the mission. The entire planning was closely monitored by the Chiefs of Defence Staff, the CIA chief and the President himself, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

For months they worked on the plan, disseminating information strictly following the principle, ‘need to know’. A mock-up of the ‘Osama house’ would have been erected and an operation rehearsed a number of times by the designated team of helicopter crews and Seals, and the latter had otherwise been undergoing one of the most vigorous training schedules. Only then was it possible to complete the mission with clock-work precision. It was the President who had to take the final call and gave written orders.

Since intelligence is the most essential input for such an operation, can Indian intelligence agencies measure up to this basic requirement? Weaknesses of Indian intelligence have repeatedly surprised the nation, be it the Chinese road across Ladakh, the scale of aggression in 1962, and mass infiltration in 1965 in J and K followed by the attack in Chamb-Jorian. Kargil was a major intelligence failure and so was the attack on Parliament where there were security lapses too. It was repeated at Mumbai, in spite of some early leads. More recent are the cases of lists of terrorists in Pakistan and the CBI team arriving in Copenhangen with an out-dated warrant of arrest. The list is endless.

Accurate and actionable intelligence is fundamental to the success of covert operations, whereas it remains our weakest point. In fact, in the case of Indian intelligence agencies, it is not the case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing but the little finger not knowing whom the index finger, of the same hand, is fingering?

At the national level we have the NSG, especially trained and equipped for such operations. At Mumbai these commandos first took too long to arrive and later too long to complete the operation. Equally, are the NSG commandos equal to the job? Just recall the visuals of a commando holding his weapon well above his head and firing at supposedly some terrorists! This visual was repeatedly shown on the American TV, where we saw the drama unfold. The NSG was commanded by an army officer, invariably an ex-commando, but now it is a police officer with no ground-level experience of commando operations. Grabbing jobs, irrespective of the suitability of the appointee, is another feature of Indian setting.

There was no centralised control over the operation and the entire scene around Taj Hotel appeared one of a ‘circus,’ with apparently no one knowing what to do. The details of ammunition and grenades expended by the commandos in this action would give an idea of the operation and our suspicion of possible collateral damage.

Both the Indian Navy and the Indian Army have special forces which can carry out missions of the type conducted by the US naval Seals at Abbottabad. They are organised and trained for such missions and have the best of leadership. Quality of intelligence inputs apart, it is the joint operations where more than one service is to take part and then problems arise. There are major fault-lines in the field of coordination and meshing together of various aspects of such an operation between the two Services taking part in the operation. This lack of ‘joint-ship’ has been the bane of Indian defence forces, which essentially is the handiwork of the politic-bureaucratic combine. The policy of ‘divide and rule’, and ‘turf-tending’ over national interest has been the dominant feature of the Indian defence apparatus.

In the case of the Abbattobad raid, in spite of the complete integration of the defence forces in the United States, the Naval Seals had their own helicopters to ensure total involvement and commitment of those taking part in the operation. In the case of India, helicopters meant for carrying such troops are with the Indian Air Force rather than the Army! So, the total commitment required on the part of all those taking part in the operation will not measure up to the level required in an operation of the type conducted at Abbottabad. In fact, discord has often appeared when two Services had to operate together. It surfaced in rather an ugly form during the Kargil operations.

In the Indian political setting, a clear direction and the will to go for the kill will continue to be lacking. At Kargil, troops were told to carry out a ‘hot pursuit,’ but were forbidden to cross the Line of Control. This is when Pakistan had violated, on a very wide front and to great depth, India’s territorial integrity and the situation called for and justified a befitting response. However, India’s timid and inappropriate reaction resulted in frontal attacks up those impossible slopes, with avoidable casualties. Pakistan suffered no punishment for its blatant act of aggression. Consequent to attack on Indian Parliament, ‘Operation Parakaram’ kept the troops in their battle locations for months and ended in a fiasco. Indian reaction to these two incidents conveyed to Pakistan that it can take liberties with India and the latter carries no deterrence for the former. At the same time, it demonstrated that Indian political leadership will never have the stomach to order an operation of the ‘Geronimo’ type, no matter how provocative the action of the other country may be.

Civil society has suddenly woken up and is now seeking answers to searching questions on these issues, having closed its eyes and switched off its mind to national security issues all these decades. The inescapable fact is that the full potential of various components of the defence forces just cannot be realised without adopting the concepts of Chiefs of Defence Staff and “Theater Commands” along with the integration of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Services headquarters on the lines of the Pentagon. What has currently been carried out by way of amalgamation of Defence Headquarters with the MoD is a joke and a fraud on the nation. Yet civil society has remained a silent spectator. The Arun Singh Committee Report continues to gather dust, as it stands consigned to the archives of the Indian government.

Besides the above fault-lines in the Indian security establishment, it is the watertight compartments in which various organs of the state work. Foreign policy is evolved and practised in isolation of national security considerations and consultations. Intelligence agencies are never made accountable and have inadequate interaction with the defence Services.

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India – World Leader in Arms race

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ViewPoint

COPENHAGEN, Denmark-American think tanks, government officials and CIA have often accused Pakistan to be too India-fixated and have advised, even cajoled Pakistan to shift its forces from Indian border to the Afghan front to fight America’s losing war on terrorism.

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These anti-Pakistan lobbies often present India as a peace loving country, which has no designs and ill will towards Pakistan. These self-styled pundits as well as pro-Indian lobby in Pakistan should be ashamed of such a behavior and now think deep and hard about such a misguided discourse.

Here is why.

A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says that India accounted for 9% of all global weapons imports between 2006 and 2010. The study also shows that India has overtaken China to become the world’s largest importer of arms. As it was not enough, the report predicts that India will continue to be to the leading arms importer in the coming future, the report adds.

India’s present defense budget is a whopping $32.5 billion and it is looking to spend more than $50 billion over the next five years to modernize its armed forces, including a $10 billion deal to buy 126 new fighter jets. Last October, India announced that it would buy 250 to 300 advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter jets from Russia over the next 10 years. The deal, which could be worth up to $30 billion, is believed to be the largest in Indian records. Now it has decided to buy even more hardware by short-listing two European fighters and ruled out two US rivals for a key $11 billion military contract. (BBC News. 28 April 2011)

It is said by western experts that India’s increased spending on arms comes amid rising concerns about China’s growing power, and India’s traditional rivalry with neighboring Pakistan, with which is has fought three wars.

Well, we all know that India with all its weapons is no match for China. The billion-dollar question is this: Where will all these expensive and latest jetfighters be used? Not in Himalaya Mountains or in dogfights over Tibet.

Naturally, all this hardware would be used against Pakistan to fulfill the old Hindustani dream of Nehru, who, during the partition of British India and the independence of Pakistan very arrogantly remarked, “Let them have their Pakistan. It will come crawling back to Mother India in six months.”

2-Iran denounces US “nuclear threats”

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By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN, – Iran’s supreme leader denounced on Wednesday U.S. “nuclear threats” against the Islamic Republic, and its elite military force said it would stage war games in a waterway crucial for global oil supplies.

The Revolutionary Guards’ exercises in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz this week take place at a time of rising tension between Iran and the West, which fears Tehran’s nuclear programme is aimed at developing bombs. Iran denies the charge.

Iran has also reacted angrily to what is sees as U.S. President Barack Obama’s threat to attack it with nuclear arms.

Obama made clear this month that Iran and North Korea were excluded from new limits on the use of U.S. atomic weapons — something Tehran interpreted as a threat from a long-standing adversary.

“The international community should not let Obama get away with nuclear threats,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday.

“We will not allow America to renew its hellish dominance over Iran by using such threats,” he told a gathering of Iranian nurses, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported. Iran was a close U.S. ally before its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, also quoted by Fars, said three days of manoeuvres would start on Thursday and would show the Guards’ naval strength.

“Maintaining security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as the world’s key economic and energy routes, is the main goal of the war games,” he said. “This war game is not a threat for any friendly countries.”

Naval, air and ground forces from the Guards would take part, Fars said. The Islamic Republic’s armed forces often hold drills in an apparent bid to show their readiness to deter any military action by Israel or the United States, its arch foes.

“PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP”

Nicole Stracke, a researcher at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, said that with the “current threat to Iran increasing” the Guards were showing their capability and strength.

“The Revolutionary Guard is sending a message that we are ready and able to counter the threat,” Stracke said in an e-mail to Reuters. But she added the force regularly held such drills and they were unlikely to increase regional tension.

Washington is pushing for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions on Tehran over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear activities as demanded by the U.N. Security Council, including moves against members of the Guards.

Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal, has described Iran’s nuclear programme as a threat to its existence. Although it says it wants a diplomatic solution, Washington has also not ruled out military action.

Iran, a predominantly Shi’ite Muslim state, has said it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests in the region and Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz.

About 40 percent of the world’s traded oil leaves the Gulf region through the strategic narrows.

Salami made no reference to this in his comments, stressing Iran’s “efficient and constructive role” for Gulf security.

“Peace and friendship, security, tranquillity and mutual trust are the messages of this war game for neighbouring countries in the Persian Gulf region,” the general added.

Sunni-led Arab countries in the Gulf are concerned about spreading Iranian influence in the region and also share Western fears about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Cliff Kupchan, a director at Eurasia Group, said in a note on Wednesday that he still believed that Israel was unlikely to strike Iran, but “the risk will grow as prospects for successful sanctions diminish”. China and Russia, veto-wielding Security Council members, are reluctant to back tough sanctions on Iran. (Additional reporting by Ramin Mostafavi and Fredrik Dahl; writing by Fredrik Dahl;

The allure of a licence to kill

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Momin Iftikhar

The Indian media has recently reported that changes in the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will have to wait “until the army comes on board.” This is bad news for the bruised and battered population in the regions of Indian North East and the Indian Held Kashmir, where its longstanding invocation is the cause of immeasurable pain and tragedy among locals. The political pressure for its repeal is mounting but the Indian army, used to the convenience of Act which enables it to conduct no holds barred counter insurgency campaigns without accountability, simply does not want to let go of it; resisting efforts to even effect cosmetic modifications. The backlash to the draconian Act has been taking shape for a long time but the North Indian State of Manipur, where a conglomerate of 32 civil organisations called Apunba Lup has emerged to resist the tyranny of the Indian army, stands out in leading the crusade for the repeal of AFSPA – and with good reasons.
Assam Rifles, operating in the state, has come to be associated with a sustained spate of custodial torture, killings and incidents of rape. Some high profile forms of protests and a few gritty activists have made their contributions in focusing attention on the despicable the state of affairs in the insurgency infested regions of India. In July 2004, 12 Imas (mothers) stripped naked outside the Kangla Fort gate, where the headquarters of the Assam Rifles are located, were shouting: “Indian army come rape us all.” The women were attempting to draw attention to the abduction, rape and killing of Manorama Devi by the personnel of Assam Rifles. The photographs of the demonstration were too shocking to be printed by any of the mainstream media in India but the poignant protest did make its impact in delivering the stark message. In practical terms, though, little was achieved in clipping the Draconian powers of AFSPA; killers of the innocent political activist, despite identification, remained unpunished.
Another woman activist from Manipur, Irom Sharmila, has resorted to a most determined form of passive resistance for the abolition of AFSPA by remaining on a hunger strike for almost a decade. Her epic resistance began in November 2000 when 10 people were gunned down by the Indian security forces in Imphal in her presence. The Indian army has kept her alive through forced feeding through a nasal drip; declaring her hunger strike as an “attempted suicide.” The moment she is freed, she resorts to the hunger strike; courting arrest and then embarks again on a year-long spell of custodial forced feeding that come as a punishment for her attempt to take her own life. In a remarkable display of courage, the ritual of release and re-arrest has been repeated 16 times, without breaking her will to resist the AFSPA.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

April 2, 2010 at 7:41 am