Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How a U.S. Radar Station in the Negev Affects a Potential Israel-Iran Clash

By KARL VICK AND AARON J. KLEIN | –  7 hrs ago
On a desert hilltop in the remote southwest of Israel stands a compelling argument against any notion that the Jewish state will launch an attack on Iran without the United States. The discreet complex atop Mt. Keren is a U.S. military installation, and the 100 U.S. service members who staff it are the only foreign troops stationed in Israel. Most are guards; a few are support. The technicians are recognizable by the protective suits they wear to shield them from the extraordinary amounts of radiation generated by the no less extraordinary apparatus the base is built around.
The small, rectangular-shaped portable radar peeking around a concrete blast wall is so advanced it can see over the horizon, and so sensitive it can spot a softball tossed in the air from 2,900 miles away. (Tehran is a mere 1,000 miles away to the northwest.) On Mt. Keren, the X-band radar is indeed pointed northwest, toward Iran, where it could detect a Shahab-3 missile launched toward Israel just seconds into its flight -- and six to seven minutes earlier than Israel would know from its own radar, called Green Pine.
The extra time means a great deal. Six additional minutes increases by at least 60% the time Israeli officials would have to sound sirens that will send civilians scrambling into bomb shelters. It also substantially increases the chances of launching interceptors to knock down the incoming missile before it reaches Israel, hiking the likelihood its wreckage or warhead falls in, say, the wastes of the Jordanian desert rather than Israel's heavily populated coastal plain. And should the interceptor miss, the extra time might allow for the launch of a second one.
All this is possible, however, only if U.S. officials choose to share the information, because only Americans have eyes on the radar. And if it's difficult to imagine a U.S. commander-in-chief choosing to withhold an early warning that could save civilian lives of a close ally, both sides recognize that if the Iranian missiles were launched in retaliation for an Israeli air strike, the onus might be on the Israeli government that set such events in motion. In any event, military officials and outside analysts say that uncertainty can only inhibit any Israeli impulse to "go it alone."
The setting of the unmarked U.S. compound, in a stretch of desert barely five miles from the Egyptian border, captures the situation. The state-of-the-art radar is tucked into a landscape buzzing with Israeli military posts and training operations. Israeli infantry drill on broken ground to either side of the road approaching the hilltop installation, which is surrounded by a chain link fence and a yellow metal gate. The guards who come out to meet visitors are plainclothes members of the Israeli Ministry of Defense agency responsible for security at Israel's most sensitive sites, including the Dimona nuclear facility to the north.
Inside the wire, however, the chain of command is American. In the one-story building beside the radar, technically called the Army-Navy Transportable Surveillance Radar, or AN/TPY-2, the data flows first to technicians' readouts, then on to California, where the U.S. Missile Defense Agency also registers feeds from satellites and sea-borne sensors. If their computers recognize an ascending fireball as a hostile missile launch, U.S. commanders may pass the information to their Israeli counterparts.
The entire system is of course built on the assumption that they will. The American and Israeli militaries have meshed their missile defense systems so snugly that they operate a joint command center, located on an Israeli military base near Tel Aviv. The Arrow interceptor missile that would be launched to knock down the attack is itself a joint-effort of the Pentagon and the Kirya, as Israeli's defense headquarters is known. Come October, some 5,000 American troops will travel to Israel for their largest joint exercise ever, one constructed entirely around missile defense.
But the Israelis are keenly aware that, in this case, information is power, and Washington has the right to withhold it. "We share a lot, but there's a valve on the pipeline, and it's a one-way valve," says a Western military official involved in the program.
The workaday reality of the U.S. radar -- it has been operating since 2009 -- also undercuts the notion of Israel launching a surprise attack on Iran that would also take Washington unawares. Not only does it see all traffic at Israeli air bases, it would certainly detect any large scale or other unusual patterns, including preparations for a massive air assault. Allowing the Americans that capability was a trade-off Israeli officials conceded only grudgingly, as TIME reported when the radar installationwas announced in 2008.
"It's about the United States hugging the Israelis," says an American missile expert outside of government. The intense military cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem, which both sides agree is the closest it's ever been, not only helps assure Israel's security. It also tethers Israel's military to the Pentagon. Sometimes the benefits are frankly political: When Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system won the heart of the Israeli public by downing short-range rockets out of the Gaza Strip, sparing Israeli cities, Congress quickly authorized $200 million to purchase nine more.
But the X-band radar installation offers both obvious advantages and what one Israeli official termed "golden handcuffs."
"It's a very sophisticated, eye-watering type of system, with a very powerful capability of precision," says the U.S. missile expert. "It was an X-band radar which was used in Operation Burnt Frost when we shot down that satellite from an Aegis ship several years back that was in a low, decaying orbit. We didn't just hit a bullet with a bullet, we hit a spot on a bullet."
The Negev base was outfitted and staffed by the U.S. European Command, which covers Israel. "For security reasons we can't talk too much about that gadget," says Capt. John Ross, a EUCOM spokesman. Declining a TIME reporter's request to visit the facility, the command insted issued a statement that seems calculatingly bland, at least until the final sentence: "The United States and Israel have a long-standing partnership in addressing issues of regional and global security. Consistent with our partnership and with our commitment to the security of our partners in the region and around the world, and at the request of the Government of Israel, the U.S. military has deployed a defensive radar system to Israel to help maintain regional security and provide a useful deterrent to any missile attacks. The Army Navy Transportable Surveillance Radar (or AN/TPY-2) is considered to be one of the most powerful systems available to track medium- to long-range ballistic missiles. The AN/TPY-2 will remain U.S. owned and operated."

The Washington Post
China’s Economic Crisis
May 24 -- There has been much speculation about power struggles in China in the wake of the ouster of Bo Xilai, the powerful Communist Party boss of Chongqing who used populism, money and intrigue to rise to the top. Had he not been brought down this year — by a series of mistakes, revelations and bad luck — Bo might have rattled the technocratic-authoritarian system running the country. China might well survive its political crisis, but it faces a more immediate challenge: an economic crisis.
Every year for two decades, experts have told me that China’s economy was set to crash, felled by huge imbalances and policy errors. They would point to non-performing loans, bad banks, inefficient state-owned enterprises and real estate bubbles. Somehow, none of these has derailed China’s growth, which has averaged an astonishing 9.5 percent annually for three decades.
Ruchir Sharma, who runs Morgan Stanley’s Emerging Markets Fund, makes a different and more persuasive case in his new book, “Breakout Nations,” pointing not to China’s failures but to its successes: “China is on the verge of a natural slowdown that will change the global balance of power, from finance to politics, and take the wind out of many economies that are riding in its draft.” Evidence is accumulating to support his view.
China’s growth looks remarkable. But it isn’t unprecedented. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all grew close to 9 percent annually for about two decades and then started to slow. Many think that China’s fate will be like that of Japan, which crashed and slowed down in the 1990s and has yet to boom again. But the more realistic scenario is Japan in the 1970s, when the original Asian tiger’s growth slowed from 9 percent to about 6 percent. Korea and Taiwan followed similar trajectories. What caused these slowdowns? Success. In each case, the economy had produced a middle-income level. It becomes much more difficult to grow at a breakneck pace when you have a large economy and a middle-class society.
Sharma does the math: “In 1998, for China to grow its $1 trillion economy by 10 percent, it had to expand its economic activities by $100 billion and consume only 10 percent of the world’s industrial commodities — the raw materials that include everything from oil to copper and steel. In 2011, to grow its $5 trillion economy that fast, it needed to expand by $550 billion a year and suck in more than 30 percent of global commodity production.”
All the factors that pushed China forward have begun to wither. China became an urbanized country last year, with a majority of its people living in cities. The rate of urban migration has slowed to 5 million a year. This means that soon the famous “surplus labor pool” will be exhausted. This decade, only 5 million people will join China’s core workforce, down dramatically from 90 million in the previous decade. And thanks to the one-child policy, there are few Chinese to take the place of retiring workers.
Sharma’s picture is largely shared by the Chinese government. For years the leadership in Beijing has been preparing for a slowdown. Premier Wen Jiabao argued in 2008 that China’s economy was “unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable.” He sounded a similar note this week, calling for government measures to stimulate the economyIn some ways, China still has a lot of gunpowder in its arsenal. Its central bank can lower interest rates and the government can spend money. But even its firepower has limits. Sharma argues that on paper China’s debt to gross domestic product is a modest 30 percent but that when you add up the debt of Chinese corporations, many of which are government-owned, the numbers look alarming. The government will spend more on infrastructure but will get diminishing returns for these investments. Chinese consumers are spending more but — in a country with no safety nets and an aging population — saving rates will remain high.
Sharma predicts trouble for countries that have been buoyed by a booming China — from Australia to Brazil — as its demand for raw materials drops. He even predicts a decline in oil prices, which, coming on top of the shale boom, should worry oil-producing states everywhere. As for China, Sharma suggests that 6 percent growth should not worry the Chinese; these would be enviable rates for anyone else. The country is richer, so slower growth is more acceptable. 
But China’s authoritarian regime legitimizes itself by delivering high-octane growth. If that fades, China’s economic problems might turn into political ones.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

                         Afghanistan and Maharaja Ranjit Singh

The western media says no country has ever conquered Afghanistan, but the fact they conveniently forget is that not too long ago the Indians conquered and ruled Afghanistan, an episode of history that is carved into the recesses of the Afghan mind.
Story Begins:
If there’s one thing that the western media keeps parroting, it is the fairy tale that no power – from Alexander 2300 years ago to Britain in the 19th century or Russia 30 years ago – was able to conquer Afghanistan.
It reeks of ignorance, and reporters in western countries have exhibited a lot of that. Remember, this is the same bunch that swallowed the lie
that al-Qaeda was getting help from Iraq, when in reality Iraq under Saddam Hussein was the most secular country in West Asia.
But how could experienced and Pulitzer Prize winning writers ignore facts? Don’t they have armies of researchers at their beck and call? Newspapers
like the New York Times and The Guardian have excellent research departments that can dig out the region’s history. But they haven’t, which makes you wonder if they are whitewashing the facts – excuse the pun!
The fact is that just 180 years ago Maharajah Ranjit Singh (1799-1839), the Sikh ruler of Punjab, and his brilliant commander Hari Singh Nalwa, defeated the Afghans and the tribes of the Khyber Pass area. Had it not been for Ranjit Singh, Peshawar and the north-west frontier province of India (handed over to Pakistan in 1947 when India was divided) would have been part of Afghanistan today. Imagine an even bigger operating field for the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
But first a flashback to the past. Afghanistan had always been a part of India; it was called Gandhar, from which the modern Kandahar originates. It was a vibrant ancient Indian province that gave the world excellent art, architecture, literature and scientific knowledge. After Alexander’s ill-fated invasion in the 4th century BC, it became even more eclectic – a melting pot of Indian and Greek cultures, a world far removed from today’s Taliban infested badlands.
 It was an Indian province until 1735 when Nadir Shah of Iran emboldened by the weakness of India's latter Mughals ransacked Delhi. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Muslims were slaughtered in cold blood by the Persians. This was a highly opportunistic and reckless act because for the past 25 centuries India and Iran had respected each other’s borders, and though always a bit nervous of each other, the two empires never tried to subvert each other. But because of his greed Nadir Shah changed the equation. He annexed Afghanistan and asked the Indians to forget about ever getting it back.
 However, Ranjit Singh was not prepared to play according to the Persian script. Nadir Shah’s successor Ahmad Shah Abdali had been launching repeated raids into Punjab and Delhi. To check this Ranjit Singh decided to build a modern and powerful army with the employment of Frenchmen, Italians, Greeks, Russians, Germans and Austrians. In fact, two of the foreign officers who entered the maharaja’s service, Ventura and Allard, had served under Napoleon. Says historian Shiv Kumar Gupta: “All these officers were basically engaged by Ranjit Singh for modernization of his troops. He never put them in supreme command.”
 After conquering Multan in 1818 and Kashmir in 1819, Ranjit Singh led his legions across the Indus and took Dera Ghazi Khan in 1820 and Dera Ismail Khan in 1821. Alarmed, the Afghans called for a jehad under the leadership of Azim Khan Burkazi, the ruler of Kabul. A big Afghan army collected on the bank of the Kabul River at Naushehra, but Ranjit Singh won a decisive victory and the Afghans were dispersed in 1823. Peshawar was subdued in 1834.
 The Afghan and Pathans had always considered themselves superior to the Indians. They especially looked down upon Indian Muslims and contemptuously referred to them as Hindko. The fact that the Indians were superior in all respects – wealth, culture, literature, art – mattered little to them, as physical stature and lightness of skin was the only basis for this peacock-like strutting. Says historian Kirpal Singh, “The pride of the Afghans and Pathans was pricked for the first time as they had been defeated by the Sikhs whom they considered infidels. Undoubtedly, they were agitated and used to say Khalsa Hum
Khuda Shuda (Khalsa too has become believer of God).”
So how did Ranjit Singh manage to conquer such fierce mountain people? Mainly by using a blend of sustained aggression latter soothed by Indian
magnanimity. Of course, his biggest weapon was the scourge of the Afghans – Hari Singh, who in one battle defeated 20,000 Hazaras,
the same people who are today tormenting American and European forces.
 To defeat the cunning and fierce Hazaras on their treacherous home
turf was no mean feat but to do that with only 7000 men was the stuff of legend. Indeed, Hari Singh had become a legend. He realised that to dominate the warlike tribes, the Sikhs had to give them the same treatment the Afghans had given the Indians in the past. Says Kirpal Singh, “Hari Singh set up a very strong administration in the Peshawar valley. He levied a cess of Rs 4 per house on the Yusafzais. This cess was to be collected in cash or in kind. For its realization, personal household property could be appropriated. There was scarcely a village which was not burnt. In such awe were his visitations held that Nalwa’s name was used by Afghan mothers as a term of fright to hush their unruly children.”
 Though the spell of Afghan supremacy was broken, the region predominantly populated by turbulent and warlike Muslim tribes could not be securely held unless a large army was permanently stationed there. A force of 12,000 men was posted with Hari Singh to quell any sign of turbulence and to realize the revenue. “The terror of the name of the Khalsa resounded in the valley,” says Kirpal Singh. “Part of the city of Peshawar was burnt and the residence of the governor was razed to the ground.”
 Ranjit Singh ensured that the Afghans never again became a threat to India. These are the same people who massacred three British armies, and against whom the Americans and Pakistanis are now totally struggling. The wild tribes of Swat and Khyber were also tamed.
There are three reasons why Ranjit Singh won a decisive victory in Afghanistan and the northwest whereas the Western invasion is foundering.
Firstly, fierce tactics were followed by a period of liberal and secular rule. In fact, secularism was the defining character of Ranjit Singh’s rule. There was no state religion, and religious tolerance was an article of his faith. He refused to treat Muslims like second class citizens. Compare this with the strafing of wedding parties by US and European troops or the instance of Czech troops wearing Nazi uniforms.
 When his victorious army passed through the streets of Peshawar, the Maharajah issued strict instructions to his commanders to observe restraint in keeping with the Sikh tradition, not to damage any mosque, not to insult any woman and not to destroy any crops.
 Two, like the NATO forces in Afghanistan today, Ranjit Singh’s army was a coalition too. The Indian king’s forces were made up of Sikhs and Hindus, while the artillery almost fully comprised Muslims. Over half a dozen European nations are assisting US troops just as European specialists worked for Ranjit Singh. Also, perhaps for the first time in Indian history the Mazhabis, or 'untouchables', become a regular component of the army. (While betrayals, disunity and overconfidence had been the bane of Indian kingdoms throughout history, another key weakness was that only the warrior castes would do the fighting, which ruled out 80 per cent of others from fighting for their king. Even when in dire situations where tribes such as the Bhils were engaged to fight invaders, they were mostly given side roles.)
 However, Ranjit’s Singh’s forces worked with one united purpose and that was to secure the empire.
(About the author: Rakesh Krishnan is a features writer at Fairfax New Zealand. He has previously worked with Business world, India Today and Hindustan Times, and was news editor with the Financial Express, Delhi.)

A Personal Experience with General K S Thimayya  

By Colonel N.C. Cariappa
This article which I write on General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya, is a personal account that stretches back to 1926 when I was five years old till the date of his demise in December 1965. In 1925, my father Codanda Madaiah Cariappa was then stationed at Sivasamudram (near Mysore, Karnataka) and was in charge of the Hydro Electric Station, the first in Asia at that time. My mother did a lot of welfare work, which included looking after the families of the colony and starting of a cooperative store for the welfare of the families. Sivasamudram became internationally well known for its hydro electric power station, the waterfalls, and also for its Mahaseer fishing. In this connection, VVIPs like the Viceroy of India Lord Irwin, Field Marshal Lord Birdwood and a host of other dignitaries made their visit to 'Siva', and my parents entertained them all.
General Thimayya or Timmy, also more familiarly known by us as Dubbu, were old family friends. When he visited us, he used to come roaring into the colony, in his Ford car, with a couple of piglets strapped to the carrier of his car. In the evenings, he would drive my younger sister Bolly, my younger brother Bunny and myself at great speed and go around a huge tree located near Sivasamudram's famous landmark, twin waterfalls. On Christmas Day in 1926, there was a big party at the local club and we all left for the party including Dubbu. At the party, when everybody were enjoying themselves, one of the persons got up to sing. However his voice sounded a little better than a fog horn. Dubbu, in his enthusiasm to silence the singer, threw a potato at him which landed straight in his open mouth. There were roars of laughter amongst the revellers.
In 1926, after his commission as an officer in the Indian Army, he was posted to the Highland Light Infantry, then based at Bangalore. As the champion athlete of his Regiment, his fellow British officers wanted him to be a member of the Bangalore Club. However the recommendation of the British Officers were turned down by the Club's Committee, as at that time, no Indian could be a member. In protest, his fellow British Officers all resigned en-bloc from the club. In 1935, he married my elder sister Nina, who had returned to India after her education in France. In May 1935, his battalion was located at Quetta (present-day Pakistan) which suffered a devastating earthquake and Nina helped in comforting the homeless refugees of the earthquake. She was awarded the KAISER-I-HIND medal for her social work at the tender age of nineteen, the youngest to do so.
In 1941, I served as a Sepoy in the Regiment of Artillery at Muttra (today known as Mathura), a short distance from Agra. In 1942, I was selected for an Officers' Commission and did my training at the Royal Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun and was then later commissioned into the 19th Hyderabad Regimental Centre at Agra. Dubbu's younger brother Freddy (later killed in action in Jammu & Kashmir), a very great friend of mine, was also posted to Agra. We young officers were billeted in a huge house which had a large drawing cum dining room surrounded by four large bed rooms and bathrooms. Freddy and I stayed in one of those rooms and we had local servants who polished our shoes, saw to the upkeep of our uniforms and the washing of our linen. However the food in the officers' mess was insipid and we were getting fed up of eating it all the time. We young officers decided to have a party. There were ten of us. On a Saturday night, we went to the mess, nibbled at the food, said goodnight to Colonel Campbell who was surprised at our sudden departure. Our civilian bearers were told that they had to lay out a sumptuous meal of biryani, chicken, parotas, veggies and dancing girls (for which Agra was famous) for all of us, including the musicians as well. All of us, including the lovely dancing girls who were from Jaisalmer, the musicians, food and drink, and our bearers to act as servers, were having one whale of a time when at about 11 o'clock at night, Colonel Campbell and the Second-in-Command, Major Thimayya appeared.
Everything came to a standstill. The girls stopped singing and shaking their hips. The musicians were paralysed and we were frozen and thought to ourselves, "Now we have had it." Women were strictly forbidden to enter any Army bachelor quarters. Colonel Campbell asked as to why we were so silent, but there was not a single peep from any of us. He turned around to Dubbu and said, "Don't you think we should join them?" and Dubbu, ever ready for fun, agreed whole heartedly. We were so relieved and all of us had a blast that night, with the Colonel and the Major joining in, shaking their legs or dancing with the beautiful girls. The party got over at 2 o'clock in the morning, with Colonel Campbell and Dubbu having to stagger home, but not before we put them both in a tonga. The next time Dubbu and I met was in Rangoon, when he was on his way to Singapore to represent the Indian Army for the surrender of the Japanese. He was then a Brigadier with a DSO and a Mention-in-Despatches. From the surrender at Singapore, he went on to Manila, where he received the keys to the city. Later on, he was to command the 268th Indian Infantry Brigade as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan after the Second World War.
Dubbu was called back to India in 1947, as the partition of India was in progress, and was promoted to the rank of Major General. I too landed in India from Burma, whilst the partition riots were in full ferocity. I had to report to Army HQ in New Delhi for my posting orders, and was told that I was to report to Dubbu as his ADC in Jalandhar. Upon reaching Jalandhar, I stayed at the Officers Mess and waited for four days to report for duty. I was getting impatient doing nothing, and was longing to report back to my unit. On the fifth day, I received a message ordering me to report to Major General Thimayya at his residence immediately. A truck was waiting to collect me and I quickly hopped in and reported to the General. I saluted him and said, "Captain Cariappa reporting for duty as ADC Sir!" He then asked, "Who sent you as my ADC?" I replied, "Sir, I did not want to be an ADC. I am too senior for the job, and I should be with my battalion at this time with all the disturbances going in due to the massive flow of refugees from Pakistan and those also moving in great hordes from India." He then told me that I had to be his ADC for the moment and until he found a suitable replacement, I had to stay put. The official interview ended and then we sat down and chatted about our home affairs. During my stay as his ADC, nobody at the Divisional Headquarters knew we were related. It was always "Yes Sir" and "No Sir" with Dubbu and at my farewell party (after finding my replacement) where everyone knew the rest of my family, they were surprised to know that we were related.
Dubbu had two responsibilities. He was the GOC 4th Infantry Division and also of the Punjab Boundary Force, and he maintained direct, personal contact with his counterpart in Pakistan. He made frequent official visits of the border areas and led huge Muslim refugee columns to Pakistan and did the same with Indian refugee columns, by having them follow his vehicle along the route. He was tremendously popular and well respected on both sides, but that still did not stop the carnage between the citizens of India and Pakistan. The route was lined by the most ghastly sights and the stench of rotting human flesh in the thousands was unbearable. After completing that task in true 'Thimayya' fashion, he was posted as the Commandant of the Indian Military Academy and then later on as Quarter Master General (QMG) at Army HQ in New Delhi. In that post, he sorted out the 'Baniya System' that was prevalent in all units whereby the local contractor supplied all wants of the men in the matter of food, drink, cigarettes and civilian clothing. He stopped all contractors and units were made to run their own canteens with profits going to the unit itself. Today, it has become a very big organisation called the Canteen Department and is headed by a Major General, with all canteen items sold at a very cheap rate, the profits going to all units every year, some of which is used to finance officers, jawans and families who are in need of financial assistance and medical treatment.
In 1953, the United Nations appointed him as the Chairman of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission in Korea to solve the problem of the North and South Korean POWs. He was awarded the Padma Vibushan for his services rendered during his UN tenure, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and took over as the GOC Western Command and later on as the GOC Southern Command. After his retirement from the Indian Army, he was appointed as Commander of UN Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in July 1964. His old regiment, the Highland Light Infantry, was under his command and the young officers of the regiment were surprised when he went around mentioning the names of the soldiers he knew, as many of them were the sons of soldiers who had served with him early on in his army career. During his tenure as Commander of UNFICYP, he was called on by President Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and was told that he would be reinstated into the Indian Army and would be appointed as Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee. Unfortunately, he passed away before it could come into effect. Back in 1947, he was recommended by Admiral Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General and by Prime Minister Nehru to take over as the Army Chief, but Defence Minister Gopalaswamy Iyengar opposed it, as he said that Dubbu was very young (in his early forties) and his talent would be wasted if he had to retire after doing his tenure as Army Chief. On his death at Cyprus, the regiment that did the Honour Guard and sounded the last post was the Highland Light Infantry, the regiment that he first served in. The Government of Cyprus, named a road after him in their nation and published a stamp in his name.
The late Lieutenant General Harbaksh Singh, PVSM, VC (Retd.) who served under Dubbu in several military operations and as his staff officer later on, had this to say about Dubbu, "I had an exceptional opportunity to study General Thimayya not only as a soldier on the battlefield in Jammu & Kashmir, but also during peace time as his Principal Staff Officer, when he was Army Commander, Western Command. I was able to see him both as a military leader as well as a man. In his official dealings, he would not let his personal interests or prejudices weigh with him. Yet whether in office or outside, he was always relaxed, jovial, friendly and freely exuding goodwill and bonhomie. People were generally fond of him as a man. He was fond of the nicer things of life and was often seen enjoying himself in five-star hotels and restaurants in the metropolis of Delhi. He once told me, when he was COAS in Delhi, that one morning Panditji (Prime Minister Nehru) sent for him in his office, and obviously tutored by Intelligence Staff, suggested that he should not be seen at public places late at nights as it created a bad impression. To this he humorously replied, 'Panditji isn't that better than planning a coup in the middle of the night?' Panditji, I believe, laughed it off - such was his confidence in the General's integrity."
Dubbu's death was a great loss to our country and his achievements are sadly not lauded by our countrymen. Our people have not realised what an outstanding soldier and diplomat he was. A person who was loved by his soldiers and greatly respected in international circles. He always set a very high example of courage and steadfastness under the most dangerous conditions in the battlefield and that is why he was so loved and respected by all ranks under his command. He was undoubtedly a born leader of men, if there was one. He instantly won the confidence of his subordinates through his forthrightness, practical approach to problems and an even handed attitude to both his seniors and juniors alike. He had the knack of getting the best out of those who served under him and soon established his relationship with them as their hero. His greatest quality as a military leader was that he never sought credit for himself, but always gave it is to his subordinates, and that is why they were ready to do their best for him. His human relationship was the epitome of his popularity and general acceptance among the public. He was by nature generous and forgiving and he never thought ill of any one, nor was any one inimically inclined towards him, barring one or two of his contemporaries who were victims of professional jealously. As the old saying goes and is still very much valid, "A prophet has no value in his own country."

“India has to note that the United States has for years has militarily activated the Arabian Sea; the United States is now in the process of militarily activating the Bay of Bengal hitherto fore viewed by Indian policy establishment as exclusive military backwaters of India. The military connotations of such moves whether in complementary role to US strategies or even in terms of India’s independent strategic postures need to be seriously contemplated by India’s policy planners.”
Insightful. In view of the US foreign policy objectives in Afghanistan they have repeatedly asked India to go soft on Pakistan. Will history repeat itself with Bangladesh – India to make water and trade concessions to assist US foreign policy objectives!
By Dr Subhash Kapila 21/5/2012
United States foreign policy formulations are marked by a significant quintessential characteristic in that its drivers are predominantly strategic in nature and superseding any idealistic political fixations. This once again gets eminently reflected in the new American openings to Myanmar and Bangladesh in recent months.
Myanmar and Bangladesh rose to the fore in United States strategic calculus coincidently with US President Obama’s ‘strategic pivot to Asia’ and to Asia Pacific more specifically.
United States ‘strategic pivot’ to Asia Pacific stood underpinned by an American awakening after a decade of strategic neglect that China’s military rise and new aggressiveness now needed to be met by putting into place a China Containment Strategy. American policies of engagement and congagement with China had not worked.
United States policy planners on surveying the security architecture of their China Containment Strategy on their operational maps would have been struck by the stark fact that while East Asia and South East Asia to a limited extent served its strategic imperatives, it was the Eastern Flank of Asia Pacific that stood bare without any significant strategic presence or a strategic partnership.
The Eastern Flank of the Asia Pacific rested on three countries---Myanmar, Bangladesh and India. While the United States had a Strategic Partnership with India of sorts, there was no such linkage with Myanmar and Bangladesh. Notably, Myanmar in American military perceptions was a military-client state of China and Bangladesh too was indebted to China as countervailing power to India.
Strategically, it would be a strong American policy imperative to unloosen Myanmar and Bangladesh from their strategic linkages with China. Further, for successful implementation of the US strategic pivot to Asia and its corollary of China Containment Strategy, the American security architecture had to incorporate Myanmar and Bangladesh in that architecture.
Of the two, Myanmar has overwhelming military significance for US strategy as Myanmar has physical geographical contiguity with China in its northern and north-eastern confines. Furthermore China has made heavy strategic, military and political investments on Myanmar as part of its counter-containment strategies aimed at the United States.
United States strategic interests on Myanmar are for the very opposite reasons that drove China to woo and invest so heavily and win over Myanmar to its strategic fold.
The United States in a strategic partnership or in a strategically cooperative relationship with Myanmar would be able to deny China a land access to the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. US would be able to neutralise the carefully crafted overland oil pipelines grid from the Myanmar coast to South China. This was a Chinese military aim to outflank and avoid dependence on the Straits of Malacca for its oil supplies which could be blocked by the United States.
More significantly, the full consummation of a Myanmar-United States strategic relationship would facilitate eventually a second land foothold on continental Asia in addition to Vietnam which is similarly being wooed. Militarily at some time in the future, Myanmar’s Navy and Air Force bases could open up for use by United States as part of China Containment Strategy.
Bangladesh while not enjoying any geographical contiguity with China has what one could call strategic contiguity with China as countervailing power against India and also in the process having a Bangladesh-China Defence Cooperation Agreement.
Bangladesh figures in the strategic calculus of the United States militarily in the Navy and Air Force domains. In the United States China Containment Strategy, with Bangladesh strongly in its fold eventuality exists where the US Navy and US Air Force could use Bangladeshi bases.
Politically, our policy planners view offshore oil-blocks only in economic perspectives. But United States policy planners view these in strategic and military terms. The United States strategic formulations would be to deny to China access to and use of respective offshore oil-blocks of Myanmar and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal. It must be remembered that an important component of US China Containment Strategy would be the ‘energy strangulation’ of China.
Concluding, it needs to be highlighted that United States recent political moves towards Myanmar and Bangladesh were not motivated by Myanmar’s release of Aung San Syuu Kyi and democratic reforms or in Bangladesh the stamping down on Islamist terrorist organisations. These were political moves, more as political fig-leaves, to provide suitable cover for the U-turn in US policies especially in the case of Myanmar.
United States recent openings to Myanmar and Bangladesh have to be viewed in the long-term perspective as driven by US strategic imperatives to draw-in Myanmar and Bangladesh into the over-arching US China Containment Strategy as both Myanmar and Bangladesh were the missing dots on the Eastern Flank of the Asia Pacific security architecture of the United States.
India has to note that the United States has for years has militarily activated the Arabian Sea; the United States is now in the process of militarily activating the Bay of Bengal hitherto fore viewed by Indian policy establishment as exclusive military backwaters of India. The military connotations of such moves whether in complementary role to US strategies or even in terms of India’s independent strategic postures need to be seriously contemplated by India’s policy planners.
Warm Regards
sanjeev nayyar

China pursuing steady military build-up: Pentagon

By Dan De Luce | AFP –  2 hrs 19 mins ago
China is exploiting Western commercial technology, carrying out aggressive cyber espionage and buying more anti-ship missiles as part of a steady build-up of military power, the Pentagon said Friday.
Beijing is working to take advantage of "mostly US" defense-related technologies in the private sector as part of a long-running effort to modernize the country's armed forces and extend China's reach in the Asia-Pacific region, the Pentagon wrote in a report to Congress.
"One of the PRC's (People's Republic of China) stated national security objectives is to leverage legally and illegally acquired dual-use and military-related technologies to its advantage," it said.
And China, which has the world's second largest defense budget behind the United States, "openly espouses the need to exploit civilian technologies for use in its military modernization" and dual-use technology transfers could have a "substantial" cumulative effect in boosting the country's army.
The Pentagon warned that "interactions with Western aviation manufacturing firms may also inadvertently benefit China's defense aviation industry."
European aerospace giant Airbus opened a production line for the A320 aircraft in China in 2009. The Defense Department pledged to prevent exports of advanced technologies that could be diverted to China's military.
Echoing recent warnings from intelligence officials, the Pentagon blamed China for "many" of the world's cyber intrusions over the past year that have targeted US government and commercial networks, including companies "that directly support US defense programs," it said.
The report warned that "Chinese actors are the world's most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage," and predicted that those spying efforts would continue, posing "a growing and persistent threat to US economic security."
China's investments in cyber warfare were cause for "concern," said David Helvey, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia and Asia Pacific Security Affairs. Beijing was clearly "looking at ways to use cyber for offensive operations," Helvey told reporters, adding that there was no sign that China was ramping up digital activities.
The American military has long worried that China could potentially limit the reach of US naval ships in the western Pacific with new weapons, and the Pentagon report underlined those concerns, pointing to Beijing's growing arsenal of missiles.
"It is also acquiring and fielding greater numbers of conventional medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) to increase the range at which it can conduct precision strikes against land targets and naval ships, including aircraft carriers, operating far from China's shores beyond the first island chain," said the report.
China was pouring money into advanced air defenses, submarines, anti-satellite weapons as well as anti-ship missiles that could all be used to deny an adversary access to strategic areas, such as the South China Sea, the report said.
US strategists -- and some defense contractors -- often refer to the threat posed by China's so-called "carrier-killer" missiles but Helvey said the anti-ship weapons currently have "limited operational capability."
China's military budget officially reached $106 billion in 2012, an 11.2 percent increase. But the US report said China's defense budget does not include major expenditures such as improvements to nuclear forces or purchases of foreign-made weapons. Real defense spending amounts to $120 to $180 billion, the report said.
US military spending, however, still dwarfs Chinese investments, with the Pentagon's proposed budget for 2013 at more than $600 billion.
Despite a sustained increase in defense spending over the past decade, China had experienced setbacks with some satellite launches and ambitious projects to produce a fifth-generation fighter jet and modern aircraft carrier still faced challenges, the report said.
Although looking to expand its traditional missions to include counter-piracy and humanitarian efforts, the People's Liberation Army's top priority remained a possible conflict in the Taiwan Strait, with China focused on preventing the United States from intervening successfully in support of Taiwan, the report said.
The Siachen storyWhy Indian Army cannot withdraw from the glacierby Maharajakrishna Rasgotra
The Tribune, Chandigarh

The Tribune, Chandigarh
In July 1982, under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s direction, I had restarted the India-Pakistan Foreign Secretary’s talks which had remained stalled for over two years.  Before my departure for Islamabad the Prime Minister’s instructions to me were typically laconic: “Talk to them about everything they want to talk about, including Kashmir; what I want to know from you when you come back is whether there is a grain of sincerity in him”.
President Zia-ul-Haq had been making noises about wanting peace with India.  My very first meeting in Islamabad was with President Haq, who advised me to work out with his officials a Treaty of Peace and Friendship, including a No-war Pact.  Over the next two and a half years we did successfully negotiate such a treaty, but at the last minute under American advice, Pakistan backed off from signing it.  But I shall not dwell on that long story here.
On return from Pakistan, I told Prime Minister Gandhi that while my talks with the officials had gone off well, I could not really vouch for much sincerity on Zia-ul-Haq’s part.  For I had picked up information from other sources in Pakistan that many Kashmiris from both sides of the LOC were being trained by ISI agents for armed jihad in Kashmir at the end, in success or even failure, of the ongoing jihad in Afghanistan.  In another visit to Pakistan in 1983, I had heard some vague talk about the Pakistan army’s plans to extend its reach to the Karakorram Pass and link up Pakistan-occupied Baltistan with Chinese Occupied Aksai Chin inside J&K’s Laddakh region.  When I mentioned this to Prime Minister Gandhi she asked me to speak about this with some people in our Defence establishment, which I did.  Our Army already had information about some such schemes being hatched in Pakistan and was monitoring developments.
In early March 1984, I accompanied Prime Minister Gandhi to a meeting in the Defence Ministry’s high-security Map Room.  There were no more than six or eight other persons there, including the Defence Minister and the Chief of Army Staff.  On a large map were flagged the positions of the Pakistan army’s base – posts below the Saltoro Range, which constitutes the Siachen glacier’s western flank, and the routes the Pakistan army’s so-called “scientific” expeditions had been  treading in the region for the last one year or two.  Meanwhile, Pakistan’s two allies  – China  and the US — had been publishing maps showing the entire glaciated region up to the Karakorram Pass as territory under Pakistan’s control.  This was a blatant violation of the Cease-Fire Line (CFL) Agreement of July 1949.  Under that agreement the CFL from point NJ 9842 onwards was to run “north to the glaciers”, which would leave the larger part of the Siachen glacier and the region east of it in India.  Perhaps, the US and China viewed this as a sort of consolatory recompense for Pakistan’s losses in 1971.  
Particularly vexing for us was the thought that our two difficult neighbours, already in illegal occupation of large chunks of J&K territory, would link up to surround Central Ladakh on three sides within our own territory.  Such a juncture would give them dominance over the Shyok Valley and easy access to KhardungLa Pass, and from that vantage point their forces would threaten Leh, a mere half days’ march from the Pass.  The myth about Siachen, the  adjoining glaciated areas and the Karakorram Pass being of no strategic importance is a recent invention:  now that the region is secure, such myth  making comes easy.  Things looked very different to us when a clear danger loomed on the horizon.  
So, the Army was given the order to move in and prevent the Pakistan army from occupying any part of the Saltoro Ridge or the Siachen glacier. The risks were carefully weighed; the Pakistan army’s plans to gain territory and strategic advantage in Ladakh, by stratagem or stealth, had to be forestalled and defeated, and if that led to war, so be it.  The one post the Pakistan army had succeeded in occupying on the Saltoro Ridge was quickly removed, and   ever since no Pakistani soldier has been allowed to set foot on the Siachen glacier: a reality which Pakistan’s army and governments have assiduously kept away from their people.  
I was asked to be at that critical meeting, because I was to go to Islamabad a few weeks later to continue with the ongoing treaty negotiations.  Sure enough, General Zia-ul-Haq’s Chief of Staff, General Khalid Mahmud Arif, in a private meeting with me gently chided India saying that Siachen was Pakistan’s and what we were doing was not right!  I suitably rebutted his claim; the matter was not raised with me again, and there was not the least hint of the ongoing negotiations being broken or stalled. General Arif and I have remained good friends and have been engaged, poste-retirement, in the search for India-Pakistan peace and reconciliation in a forum called the Neemrana Initiative.
I am a firm believer in the mutual need of our two countries for peace, friendship and cooperation.  I also think that in view of the Pakistan army’s changing perception of India, New Delhi should creatively respond to Islamabad’s positive gestures. I think it is time for military leaders of the two countries to meet from time to time to inform each other of their respective security perceptions.  I also think Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should  now pay his long over-due visit to Islamabad.   Siachen does not appear to me as ripe for settlement just now, but a mutually satisfactory agreement on the Sir Creek is within easy reach. The visit should also be used to allay Pakistan’s suspicions and fears on water-related issues.
Scrutiny of the records of discussions surrounding the demarcation of the ceasefire line in 1949 will show that leaving the glaciated region as a ‘No-Man’s Land’ or an ‘International Peace Park’, etc, was never in anybody’s thoughts; for invariably always such areas become playgrounds for adventurers, spies and trouble makers.  It should also be remembered that the entire line that divides India and Pakistan in J&K  has resulted from armed conflicts followed by ceasefires.  That is what has happened in the Siachen region also.  In due course as this reality finds recognition in Pakistan, demilitarization of the region should become possible.  Meanwhile, if requested, we could even consider allowing genuine Pakistani scientific expeditions to the glacier.
After the recent tragedy in which Pakistan lost 150 soldiers in an avalanche, if its army wishes to withdraw from these treacherous heights, they should feel free to do so.  Prime Minister Singh can assure them that while the prevailing public opinion in India does not permit his government to agree to immediate withdrawal of the Indian Army from the Saltoro Ridge, it will not step beyond its present positions.n
The writer was India’s Foreign Secretary from 1982 to 1985.

Writing out the non-han

Philip Bowring
Philip Bowring | May 18, 2012,
The conflict between the Philippines and China over the Scarborough Shoal may appear at first sight a minor dispute over an uninhabitable rock and surrounding shallow waters. But it is hugely important because it encapsulates China's assumption that the histories of the non-Han peoples whose lands border two-thirds of the waters known in English as the South China Sea are irrelevant.

The Philippine case over Scarborough has been mostly presented as one of geography. The feature is 135 nautical miles from Luzon, the main Philippine island, and roughly 350 miles from the mainland of China and 300 miles from the tip of Taiwan. It is thus also well within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone.

China leapfrogs these incon- venient geographical truths to come up with justifications of its claims which can be applied to the whole South China Sea and thus justify the dotted line on map which vaguely defines them. This line has never been precisely delineated but comes well within the 200-mile limits of all the other countries, and close to Indonesia's gas-rich Natuna islands.

In the case of the Scarborough Shoal, its historical justification is that this rock and surrounding shallow water is mentioned in a Chinese map of the 13th century when China itself was under alien - Mongol - rule. The fact that a vessel from China had visited the shoal and recorded its existence has thus become one basis for its claim. Very similar pieces of history are trotted out to justify claims to other islands visited by ships from China. Likewise, China's assumption of hegemony is often based on the fact that foreign merchant ships had to pay taxes to trade with China.

History, however, shows that Chinese sailors were latecomers to the South China Sea, let alone to onward trade to the Indian Ocean. The seagoing history of the region, at least for the first millennium of the current era, was dominated by the ancestors of today's Indonesians, Malays, Filipinos and (less directly) Vietnamese. Thus, as China's own records reveal, when the 4th century Buddhist pilgrim Fa Hsien, went to Sri Lanka, he travelled from China to Sumatra and then on to Sri Lanka in Malay ships.

This was not the least surprising given that during this era of sea-going prowess, people from Indonesia were the first colonisers of the world's third largest island, Madagascar, some 4,000 miles away. (The Madagascan language and 50% of its human gene pool are of Malay origin.) This was a thousand years before the much-vaunted voyages of Chinese admiral Zheng He in the 15th century.

Malay seagoing prowess was to be overtaken by south Indians and Arabs, but they remained the premier sea-farers in Southeast Asia until well into the era of European dominance of the region. Indeed, the Malay-speaking Hindu (like much of Southeast Asia at that time) mercantile state of central Vietnam dominated South China Sea trade until the 15th century. The 10th century Arab traveller and geographer al-Masudi made reference to the "Cham Sea", and trade between Champa and Luzon was well established long before the Chinese drew their 13th century map. As Scarborough Shoal not only lies close to the Luzon coast but is on the direct route from Manila bay to the ancient Cham ports of Hoi An and Qui Nhon, it was known to the Malay sailors long ago.

All in all, the Chinese claim to have 'been there first' is like arguing that Europeans got to Australia before its aboriginal inhabitants. But given China's reluctance to acknowledge that Taiwan was Malay terri-tory until the arrival of European conquerors, and then of a surge of settlers from the mainland, such refusal to acknowledge the rights of other peoples is not surprising.
At times, China itself seems to recognise the flimsy basis of some of its historical claims. In the case of the Scarborough Shoal, it backs up its position by reference to the Treaty of Paris 1898 concluding the Spanish-American war and yielding Spanish sovereignty over the Philippine archipelago to the US. This did not mention the shoal but described a series of straight lines drawn on the map which left the shoal a few miles outside the 116E longitude defined by the treaty.

Given that China rejects "unequal treaties" imposed by western colonialists, it is remarkable to find it relying on one between two foreign powers conducted without any reference to the inhabitants of the Philippines. Vietnam can equally well claim all the Spratly Islands as inheritor of French claims over them.

For sure, China has the power to impose its will. But its aggressive stance towards the Philippines, so often seen as an especially weak state, has alerted others, including Japan, Russia and India as well as the US, to its long-term goal which is not ownership of a few rocks but strategic control of the whole sea, a vital waterway between northeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, the Gulf and Europe. The Scarborough Shoal is not just a petty dispute over some rocks. It is a wake-up call for many countries.
The writer is former editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review.
India fortifies its island defenses By Sudha Ramachandran

BANGALORE - The Indian Navy has commissioned a new base, Indian Naval Ship (INS) Dweeprakshak, in the Lakshadweep Islands. Located at Kavaratti, the island chain's capital, Dweeprakshak will provide the navy with a permanent and more robust presence in waters that are threatened by pirates.

The Lakshadweep archipelago (Lakshadweep means a hundred thousand islands in Sanskrit) consists of 36 islands, 12 atolls, three reefs and five submerged banks that are scattered in the
southern Arabian Sea, 200-400 kilometers off the southern Indian coastal state of Kerala.

Since 1980, the Indian Navy has operated a detachment in the Lakshadweep Islands. However, in December 2010 a Coast Guard district headquarters was commissioned at Kavaratti and a Coast Guard station was set up at Minicoy. A second Coast Guard station was set up at Androth Island in April this year.

The facilities at Lakshadweep have been scaled up now to a full-fledged naval base.

INS Dweeprakshak is India's sixth naval base and the fourth protecting the country's western flank. It is India's second base in island territories, the other being the base at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Dweeprakshak will come under the Southern Naval Command.

The decision to beef up India's naval muscle at Lakshadweep has its roots in security concerns in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 and the rising threat of pirate attacks in the Arabian Sea in recent years. Lakshadweep's strategic significance stems not only from its proximity to the Indian mainland but also, Nine Degree Channel - a 200-kilometer wide stretch of water through which much of the shipping between West Asia and South East Asia transits runs to the north of Minicoy, the southern-most of the islands.

The magnitude of India's concern over the safety of sea lanes can be gauged from the fact that over 97% percent of India's trade by volume and 75% by value is sea borne. The key role that the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean play in meeting its India's energy requirements is evident from the fact that 67% of this comes from the Persian Gulf and 17% from Africa.

Although the vulnerability of India's coast to terrorist infiltration and attacks became apparent in the early 1990s - the huge quantity of explosives used in the serial blasts in Mumbai in March 1993 was transported through the sea route - it was only after the terror attacks there in November 2008 that the India establishment began acting to secure the coasts - investigations revealed that Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives from Pakistan entered Mumbai undetected via the Arabian Sea. India has now put in place a maritime defense plan to secure its 7,516-km long coast line, including the island territories of Laskhadweep.

The infrastructure set up in Lakshadweep is essential not only to safeguard the Indian mainland from terrorist attacks but also to prevent terrorists from taking sanctuary on the islands. Of Lakshadweep's 36 islands, 26 are uninhabited. That makes them vulnerable to misuse by terrorists for sanctuary or as training bases. Such anxieties have grown in the wake of the growing religious extremism, reported jihadi activity and political instability in the Maldives, which lie to the south of Lakshadweep.

Besides, there is the threat of piracy to Indian and other shipping near India's waters. Anti-piracy operations by the multi-national task force in the Gulf of Aden created a "balloon effect", which resulted in pirate attacks shifting further afield into the middle of the Indian Ocean, even the seas near the Indian coastline. There have been a series of incidents in recent years involving piracy and trespassing in the vicinity of the Lakshadweep Islands.

In March 2010, for instance, pirates sought to hijack a Maltese ship 200 nautical miles off Lakshadweep Islands in India's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The attempt was foiled by the Indian Navy.

Then in May, eight Somali pirates were apprehended by the Indian navy off the Lakshadweep Islands. In November, two piracy attempts on container ships were successfully thwarted; one of the incidents happened just 150 nautical miles off Minicoy.

In December, a Bangladesh merchant ship was hijacked by Somalian pirates some 70 nautical miles from the Lakshadweep Islands. The same month an Indian warship on patrol apprehended an Iranian dhow with four Iranians and 15 Pakistanis on board some 300 nautical miles west of Lakshadweep's Bitra Island in India's EEZ. In November last year, a "mysterious" Iranian ship MV Assa that was reportedly armed was docked in the EEZ near Lakshadweep for around 40 days.

Surveillance and patrolling of the seas off the Lakshadweep Islands by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard have resulted in hundreds of pirates being apprehended over the past year. The setting up of a full-fledged naval base at Lakshadweep will substantially enhance India's capacity to ward off threats from pirates and terrorists.

India has deployed a warship in the Gulf of Aden as part of the multi-national anti-piracy force. It has stationed two warships in the central and eastern Arabian Sea "but in a flexible formation for redeployment on an as required basis", India Abroad News Service reported. Such efforts will be further strengthened by the base at Lakshadweep, which will have warships, aircraft and helicopters.

While the naval base will enhance the infrastructure and capacity of the coastal security network, the problems of India's coastal security seem rather basic and cannot be addressed by deploying more warships.

The flaws in the coastal security network were made visible rather dramatically during the turbulent monsoon months last year when unmanned ships slipped past radars and other high-tech "eyes" to drift undetected in Indian waters and ran aground at Mumbai's Juhu beach.

The first incident occurred on 12 June 2011, when a 9,000-ton cargo ship MV Wisdom that was headed to the Alang shipbreaking yard in Gujarat broke tow, and then drifted on to Juhu beach. Then on July 31, the 1,000-ton MV Pavit, which had been abandoned by its crew a month earlier near Oman, ran aground at Juhu beach. The 1,000-ton ship had drifted for over a hundred hours in India's territorial waters and slipped past a three-level coastal security network involving the navy, the coast guard and the coastal police before it crept up on to the beach.

These were not small fishing boats but massive vessels and that they could enter not just Indian waters but also ride right onto the coast undetected is a damning indictment of the coastal security network.

While analysts have focussed on the poor infrastructure in detailing the leaks in the coastal security network, it is the lack of communication and co-ordination between the navy, the coast guard and the coastal police that lies at the heart of its failures.

Consider the response to MV Pavit's advance onto the Indian coast. It appears that the ship was first sighted the previous night by a hotel manager looking at the sea through his binoculars. He alerted a police station at Juhu. A cop went to the beach but couldn't see the vessel. He did not pass on the information anyway to the Coast Guard.

The following morning, fishermen saw the vessel lurching towards the coast. The informed the police station, who again failed to alert the coast guard. When the cops finally informed the coast guard at around 8.30 am, the latter asked for the information to be faxed but the police station was not equipped with a fax machine. By then, MV Pavit had run aground at Juhu beach taking early morning joggers by surprise.

Very basic problems are causing the coastal security network to leak. These are problems that warships cannot fix.

According to Pushpita Das of the Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, the "problem lies not in the measures adopted but in the inadequate attention paid to the functioning of the system at the ground level where the actual action takes place".

The little "coordination or information sharing" taking place at present between the navy, the coast guard and the coastal police "is largely based on personal rapport between the concerned officers", she observes, calling for the institutionalization of this "rapport".

A new naval base with warships and aircraft is a fine idea for enhancing security in the seas. But there is only so much it can do to secure the coast.

Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore. She can be reached at