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Subcontinental Tightrope - U.S. Nod To Pakistan Angers India
The United States’ decision to grant Pakistan the status of a major non-NATO ally drew protests from India and threatened to unravel two years of Bush administration efforts to forge a new kind of relationship with the newest declared members of the world’s nuclear club.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell announced the addition of Pakistan to the ranks of Washington’s major non-NATO allies (MNNA) during a March 18 visit to Islamabad. Since 1987, America has granted the status to a dozen countries, allowing them to host U.S. military equipment stockpiles, buy used weapons, cooperate on Pentagon research and development efforts, and get faster processing of export control licenses.

Analysts and U.S. defense officials said the move had at least two motives: It allowed the U.S. to send military gear to help Pakistani troops hunt for Osama Bin Laden and Taliban, and it sent a public message of American support to shore up beleaguered Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Public opinion and elements of Musharraf’s own military have denounced his decision to send government troops into the country’s northwest provinces to support the U.S.-led war on terror

“This was very important from Pakistan’s point of view, given the great amount of criticism from all quarters,” said Mahnaz Ispahani, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York. “It had reached a point where the U.S. support for Musharraf has been questioned.”

U.S. State Department officials, congressional analysts and other experts in Washington see MNNA status high in symbolism and low in substance. It does not, for example, grant the kind of U.S. security guarantees that South Korea and Japan enjoy. But the decision blindsided defense officials in New Delhi, who were furious that Powell had not informed them of the plan and who subsequently rejected a U.S. offer to extend the same status to India.

“The U.S. secretary of state was in India just two days before his statement was made in Islamabad,” said an official of India’s Ministry of External Affairs on March 23. “While he was in India, there was much emphasis on India-U.S. strategic partnership. It is disappointing that he did not share with us this decision of the United States government.”

Indian analysts and defense officials alike fear that the move will lead to actual security guarantees by Washington for Islamabad, which they say would weaken New Delhi’s defense posture. One Defence Ministry official said planners are particularly worried that U.S troops might remain for years on Pakistani soil.

It might even lead to a permanent U.S. base in northwestern Baluchistan province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, said Nitin Mehta, a New Delhi-based analyst.

Indian officials were outraged that Washington would take such a step in the wake of January’s revelation that the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, A. Q. Khan, had spread nuclear-weapons technology to Iran and Libya. Musharraf has denied government complicity in this.

“Pakistan is cooperating with us on not only on counterterrorism but also on counterproliferation,” said Robert Joseph, who directs non-proliferation efforts in the White House’s National Security Council, when asked about the effect of Pakistan’s new status on U.S. non-proliferation goals.

White House Goals

For decades, Washington has walked a tightrope in subcontinental politics, where a strategic nod from the United States for one country was seen as a slap in the face of the other. But during the past two years, the Bush administration has been trying to wean officials in India and Pakistan from that view, a policy it calls dehyphenation.

“The major non-NATO ally status is a particular aspect of our relationship with Pakistan,” U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at a March 23 briefing. “We are consigning the hyphen to history so that we have different relationships with Pakistan and with India.”

The Pentagon general in charge of U.S. weapons sales even foreshadowed the move a month ago.

“We look forward to building a more robust relationship with Pakistan to help Pakistan pros-ecute the war on terror that threatens President Musharraf,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Tome Walters, who directs the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, said in a Feb. 24 interview in Singapore.

Walters said Pakistan was stepping up operations along the Afghan border and would need radios, night-vision devices, and other equipment. But the United States wants to ensure that the gear doesn’t end up in “caves quickly vacated by the Taliban.”

A U.S. embassy official in New Delhi said the MNNA status was meant to help Pakistan improve and upgrade its arsenal, including its F-16 jets, and was not intended to affect U.S.-India relations.

Pakistani Reaction

But old habits die hard.

A March 25 op-ed article in the Lahore, Pakistan-based Friday Times newspaper captured the prevailing sentiment there.

“The [Pakistan] government is euphoric; it is flaunting the reward in the face of political opposition, and of course it is quite happy to see New Delhi sulk over the whole thing,” wrote Ejaz Haider, the paper’s news editor and a former fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “The announcement does bolster General Pervez Musharraf within his own constituency, namely the military.”

A former adviser to Pakistan’s prime ministers said the new status sent the wrong message to the Pakistani military.

“They could see this as a signal that they can get away with” their old ways, of supporting the Taliban and terrorist elements on the sly, said Hussain Haqqani, who is currently a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

“It could lull Pakistan into thinking, ‘We can in a couple of years down the line be in a position to be military equals with India’” — by continuing to support militant groups in Kashmir, Haqqani said. In the past, support for these groups has helped Pakistan offset India’s quantitative military advantage in the disputed region.

And by appearing to strengthen the hand of Pakistan’s military, the move may slow efforts to democratize the country, he said.

India-U.S. Ties

Despite the announcement — and New Delhi’s alarmed reactions to it — India’s relationship with the United States is already far deeper than that the one an MNNA status confers. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee signed a memorandum of understanding Jan. 13, that would allow high-technology trade to flow more freely from the United States to India, particularly to help India’s civilian nuclear and space sectors.

“You can’t compare the scale of military, strategic, economic and intelligence and a whole range of conversations the U.S. administration has with India,” said Ispahani, the Council on Foreign Relations fellow. “It is on a completely different and substantive

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 5:04 PM


Surface-to-air-missile Akash test fired twice
India on Monday test fired surface-to-air missile Akash twice from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, about 13km from Balasore in Orissa, official sources said.

The indigenously built sophisticated medium range multi-target missiles were fired from separate mobile launchers at about 3.55 pm and 3.57 pm, respectively.

With a range of 25km, Akash is one of the five missiles currently under development by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

The DRDO is developing medium range anti-aircraft missile Akash and the Rajendra radar to build a reliable air defence shield. The state-of-the-art radar, Rajendra, can keep track of 64 aircraft simultaneously with various ranges.

The 650kg Akash missile is capable of carrying a 50kg payload and uses an integrated two-stage ramjet propulsion technology.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 4:59 PM


India and America today finished a joint Air Force exercise in Gwalior, in which the top pilots from the two countries matched their skills against each other.

While the all-powerful US Air Force had an easy run in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Indian top guns amazingly shot them out of the sky.

"They did very well, it's a very good group of pilots, a very good aircraft and overall I've been very impressed with the Indian Air Force," said Captain Dave Skalicky, US 19 Squadron.

Americans outflown

For the last ten days, five American F-15s have been faced off against Indian Sukhoi-30s, Mirage 2000s and MiG-21s in the skies above Gwalior.

NDTV has learned that the Indian flyers have out flown the Americans, right through the exercise.

On the first day all four American planes were shot down. Never once did the Indians come off second.

Amongst the American flyers, there is clearly respect for the Indians.

"They performed very well. I think in most cases they were equal to us, superior in some aspects. So it was a very good learning experience for both sides. It was a very tough scenario on all days, the pilot skill levels were also equal a lot of times. It felt like we were fighting ourselves, when we were fighting the Indian Air Force guys," said Captain Vogel, US 19 Squadron.

Testing tactics

This is more than just joint training. For both these air forces, it is an opportunity to test their tactics and flying skills against another country and to decide whether any changes need to be made.

The Indians had already made their changes after being beaten by the French Air Force last year.

And when these pilots go to Alaska later this year for another joint exercise, the Americans will have to prepare well for India's special brand of low technology.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 4:59 PM


Israel agrees to help India in submarine project
Israel has expressed willingness to cooperate with India in its nuclear submarine programme, Israeli defence sources said.

This understanding was reached during the visit of a high-level technical team from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) headed by the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister Dr V K Aatre, towards the end of last month, the sources said, adding that the matter was first raised during the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to New Delhi in September.

The development could possibly mean an end to Indo-Russian cooperation in this field as Israel raidly progresses towards becoming India's main source for defence procurements.

India had leased for three years a Soviet nuclear-powered attack submarine, INS "Chakra" in 1988, but returned it after the expiry of the lease.

It had, in 2000, announced new negotiations with Russia. India has been working since 1985 to develop an indigenously constructed nuclear-powered submarine with the Soviet Union and now Russia's help.

The DRDO team also reviewed other areas of cooperation already underway and an agreement was also reached towards exchange of scientists for training in each others country.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 3:53 PM


Only two countries in the world
There's something amusing about the debate that's been going on for the last four decades over the question of developing defense systems against ballistic missiles. The facts don't change, nor do they confuse the supporters of defense systems, who will always find reasons to continue investing tens of billions of dollars in advanced technologies that are dubious at best and almost certainly unnecessary.

That's what it was like last week at an international conference mounted by a company called International Quality and Productivity Center, which organizes conferences devoted to security matters. Once again it was made clear that there is no connection between the likelihood of a ballistic threat to the U.S. and the NATO countries in Europe, and the insistence by those who support ballistic missile defense systems on sticking to their traditional positions, which they aren't even ready to reexamine despite the far-reaching changes that have taken place since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Their main argument contends that because countries like North Korea are trying to develop long-range ballistic missiles, the U.S. should deploy a defense system to shoot down the North Korean missiles. The problem with that argument is that it is impossible to imagine a single logical scenario in which the ruler of North Korea - or Iran - decides to fire a nuclear missile at the U.S. or Britain, because it is obvious the U.S. would fire so many nuclear weapons in response, destroying them.

However, the supporters of ABM systems won't allow logic, facts and basic strategic analysis interfere with their way of thinking. Therefore in the last 15 years, the U.S. has allocated some $90 billion developing ABM systems, and as of now, still does not have a single operational system. In a study published in January, researchers from two major think tanks said the costs of American-developed defensive systems against missiles will reach the fantastic sum of somewhere between $800 billion and $1.2 trillion by 2025.

A large number of the lectures in London dealt with the issue that is troubling the administration. The Europeans, it seems, talk a lot about defense systems against missiles but, regrettably for the Americans, are not doing much abut it. No European country has yet begun practical development of a defense system against missiles. Most also evade real cooperation with the Americans, despite the permanent pressure by the administration on its NATO allies to do so.

However, while there are also elements in the security industries of Europe, as well as its parliaments and defense ministries, trying to push for anti-missile systems, the governments are still avoiding accepting the recommendations of John Boulton, the U.S. arms policy official, to develop their own systems, spending the enormous sums required. Already two years ago, British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon promised to conduct a serious debate on the issue of missile defense systems - but no such debate has taken place yet. Nor has one taken place in other countries.

The main reason for this is the differences in views between the U.S. and European governments regarding the nature of the ballistic threat. Most of the European intelligence agencies, like quite a few of the policymakers, do not regard ballistic missiles as a genuine threat and they are far more worried by the way terror is flourishing and the political instability on the southern and eastern borders of the continent.

"Even countries the U.S. calls the axis of evil won't just send missiles flying at Europe," explain European intelligence officials. "If they want to harm us, they'll use much simper and cheaper methods, like suitcase bombs and car bombs containing radioactive material or they could dock a ship containing a nuclear bomb in one of the hundreds of containers on board."

NATO, the military alliance between the U.S. and Europe, also hasn't made a single commitment to developing anti-missile defense systems. The disputes between the member states in the matter are so great that it's doubtful it will be possible to reach a decision on the issue.

What became apparent once again at the London conference is that ultimately there are only two countries in the world developing anti-missile defense systems - the world's only superpower, and Israel. The main difference between us and the Americans is that they can allocate all the money needed to develop unnecessary defense systems while we have to be very careful about major investments in projects that are dubious at best and that a simple strategic analysis shows are unnecessary.

But as opposed to the European states, where parliamentary committees investigate the ballistic threat and defense mechanisms against it, and even publish their reports and studies, the Knesset doesn't get involved in the defense establishment's decisions. Thus the Israeli missile defense system, the Arrow, continues to enjoy huge budgets and a wall-to-wall consensus, without anyone stopping for a minute and asking, like the little boy from the fable, whether perhaps it's all unnecessary.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 3:49 PM


The global defense industry is constantly shaping how borders are protected, wars are fought, terrorists are tracked and caught, and global security maintained. We aim to track news, policy, military exercises and strategic affairs between the world's largest democracies - India and the United States.

Given the vast interest and passion we have in this field, we decided to launch this blog to give visitors the ability to track these developments, exchange ideas and link to other sources of Information. Our primary sources and links can be found on the main page. Some of the pieces published herein our ours, otherwise it is reproduced from other sources (news, think-tanks or publications) to provide our readers the ability to interact and respond. The link to the original source can always be found under the article. Articles and op-ed pieces written by us include thoughts and opinions that are ours, not those of any government or political party. Last but not least, this blog is not-for-profit, nor is it financially supported by any corporation, entity or organization. It is purely to be used for informational purposes and not commercial and/or profit motives.

Thank you, Nik Khanna & Jango Unwalla

About The Blog
This blog focuses on current issues concerning defense and national security for the world's largest democracy - India. It is updated regularly providing readers with in-depth information on technology transfer, acquisitions, counter-terrorism, security and military collaboration and strategic dialogue between India and the United States. The site includes links to top defense policy & research institutes, think-tanks, military sites and research organizations.
Cooperative Cope Thunder
Nikhil and Jehangir wrote an exhaustive article about the Cooperative Cope Thunder joint event. Their article was publihed in Vayu magazine. Click on the link below to read the in-depth article with amazing pictures courtesy of mark Farmer at
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