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India’s Naval Modernization: Implications for Indo-Pacific and South Asian Region

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India has instituted the strategy of Military modernization of its forces to achieve the geo-strategic objectives. In this regard India Navy is considered as central force to full fill the strategic goals of India; to emerge as a major global Player.

Traditionally, Indian navy remained Cinderella service due to Nehruvian continental mindset but now “Modernizing and Growing” are two significant elements to describe India Navy. Three significant arrangement are key drivers of Indian naval modernization: one is prevent the country’s coastline and expensive maritime area of economic interest, second is to full fill desired regional and global ambitions and third is protect sea lines that deals with India’s supplies and trade. To achieve these goals Indian Navy has adopted more offensive and assertive doctrine based on ‘sea power framework’ of Alfred Mahan.

India Naval strategy of 2004 is comprised of six significant principles; increasing spending, modernization, expanding infrastructure, conducting naval exercises, deployment in Indian Ocean Region, active Maritime diplomacy and Protecting SLOC. Whereas Indian maritime doctrine of 2009 defines six striking roles in Indian Naval Forces, remarkable elements are deterrence, protecting sea lines decisive military victory and protection from threat. The Naval Doctrine highlightson the importance ofenhance capabilities to influence warfare on land and development of forward power projection abilities. To achieve these objectives India’s defence spendings are increasing. 4.3% of total defence budget of 2016-2017 is allocated for Indian Navy: In total, 2921 billion was allocated to Navy which is around 17.4 per cent oftotal defence expenditure of India from 2005 to 2015 in nominalterms. It is significant to note that the annual growth rate of the Navy’s budget is around 15-18 per cent.

India is extensively modernizing its naval capacity, by acquiring a number of various modern vessels. Currently, Indian navy possesses quite an influx of manpower with an approximate total of 79,023 personnel and “a large fleet consisting of 2 aircraft carriers, 1GAH amphibious transport dock, 9 landing ship tanks, 14 frigates, 10 destroyers, 1 nuclear powered submarine and 14 conventionally powered submarines, 25 corvettes, 7 minesweeping vessels, 47 patrol vessels, 4 fleet tankers and various auxiliary vessels.” Though, the modernization is related more with enhancing the quality rather than the quantity; as it is replacing the older vessels with the advanced ones.

The qualitative and quantitative increase, doctrinal evolution and recent trends in the Indian Navy indicate that these development will posed various strategic implications on regional states and Indian Ocean region. Due to these trends region and Indian Ocean will experience new arrangement of strategic competition among regional states (India-Pakistan) and Great powers (U.S. and China). The strategic competition will increase the role of external powers in region and enhance the security dilemma in Ocean.

Secondly in recent era, Indo-Pacific Asia is very significant for trilateral regional competition: India-China, US-China and India-Pakistan. The bilateral rivalries among states are increasing the instability and disturbing the strategic equilibrium in region. Especially growing political and strategic partnership and Indo-U.S. nuclear deal is characterized as alliance to counter the emerging strategic partners: China and Pakistan. India is militarizing as well as nuclearizing the region to hold the chines claims regarding the ‘string of pearls’ strategy.  India naval developments and aspiration to nuclearize its Navy are not as troublesome for china as for deterrence equation in South Asia. The South Asian security landscape is already unstable due to India-Pakistan historical rivalry. India naval build-up and modernization in conventional and nuclear sphere is increasing asymmetry between India and Pakistan.The conventional asymmetry and defence production gap between both states has made Pakistan to adopt the doctrine of full-spectrum deterrence to ensure its security and the launch of Indian nuclear powered submarine this rivalry has entered in other regions such as in the Indian Ocean.

With changing regional scenarios and prevailing challenges, the South Asia Strategic balance and security is threatened by the India’s naval modernization plan. Militarization and Nuclearization of Indian naval forces has increased the Indian deterrence capability but disturbed the balance of power of region by instigating the security dilemma and increasing the arms race.

India’s Proactive strategies, renewed defense settlements and the military build-up force the Pakistan to take counter measures while balancing the strategic equilibrium at the same time; for the Pakistan is important to closely track Indian defense spending and modernization plan, as India remains the key threat to Pakistan’s security.

Asma Khalid is currently working as Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute and can be reached asmaakhalid_90[at]hotmail.com

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Defense

New Report: Export controls, human security and cyber-surveillance technology

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A new report released today from SIPRI, ‘Export controls, human security and cyber-surveillance technology: Examining the proposed changes to the EU Dual-use Regulation’.

The report seeks to inform discussions about the European Commission’s proposed ‘recast’ of the European Union Dual-use Regulation—the main regulatory instrument for EU member states’ controls on the trade in dual-use items.  The proposal, which is currently being examined by the European Parliament and Council of the European Union, is part of a review of the Regulation which was launched in 2011.

One of the most controversial aspects of the Commission’s proposal is a series of amendments to the Regulation that would give human rights, international humanitarian law (IHL) and terrorism a more central role in member states’ dual-use export controls and create an expanded set of controls on exports of so-called cyber-surveillance technology. Many of these aspects of the proposal have been broadly welcomed by the European Parliament and NGOs, which have been pushing for tighter EU controls on the trade in cyber-surveillance technology since 2011. However, other stakeholders—particularly the sections of EU industry affected by dual-export controls—have warned of the potential for confusion and unintended side-effects to be generated by the language used.

In order to provide context for these debates, the report outlines the existing relationship between human rights, international humanitarian law (IHL), terrorism and dual-use export controls and details the origins of the discussion about applying export controls to cyber-surveillance technology and describes the measures that have been adopted to date within the Wassenaar Arrangement and the EU. The report then analyses those aspects of the Commission’s proposal which are focused on human rights, IHL, terrorism and cyber-surveillance technology while also detailing the responses and alternative formulations put forward by key stakeholders. The report ends by presenting some conclusions and recommendations, focused particularly on the issues that should be addressed as the review process continues during 2018.

You can read the report here

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Nuclear Deterrence Equation in South Asia: Chess vs. Chess

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The supreme art of war is to subdue enemy without fighting: Sun Tzu

Deterrence equilibrium in South Asia serves as an assurance for peace and stability in the region. The strategic significance of nuclear weapon in the South Asian security equation is undeniable because these weapons reduce the chances of war and conflict between the belligerent states.  In South Asian security paradigm nuclear deterrence is viewed as more stable than conventional deterrence.Such as since the introduction of nuclear weapons, Pakistan has effectively deterred India’s aggression on various occasions. Therefore nuclear deterrence between India and Pakistan plays a vital role to maintain strategic stability in South Asia.

Since the inception of the nuclear age, the credible deterrence posture is defined as one which can enable a state to survive a preemptive first strike by its opponent but still retain sufficient nuclear weapons and delivery systems to deliver a second strike that can cause unacceptable level of damage tothe opponent.

Consequently, deterrence is a dynamic concept based on multiple inter-linked features including nuclear technology, doctrinal postures and international nuclear regimes. Change in the nuclear postures, sophisticated missile capabilities, shift in state’s nuclear policy, shifting security environment and access to nuclear related material, technology and infrastructure are the key features that can affect the deterrence posture and nature.

Apparently, nuclear doctrines of South Asian nuclear states are based on minimum credible deterrence. But Since 2003, statements by India’s nuclear strategists and officials have indicated that India is shifting its nuclear doctrine of ‘No First Use’ to ‘First-Use’. For instance, India’s former National Security Advisor, ShivshankarMenonarticulated in his book that ‘India might find it useful to strike first against an adversary poised to launch or that declared it would use its weapons’, this statement was a clear reference to Pakistan. However, India’s vague nuclear strategy and hints of doctrinal shiftare neither new nor surprising for Pakistan. For India’s nuclear history is full with such contradictory statement but such contradictory assertions are posing serious challenge to nuclear deterrence.

In contrast, Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine is Indian centric and aim’s to deter India’s aggression.Therefore in response to India’s shifting nuclear strategy and growing capabilities, Pakistan’s NCA has endorsed a“Full Spectrum Deterrence”. What is meant by full-spectrum? Lt. Gen Khalid Kidwai pointed out that Full Spectrum Deterrence policy guides the development of nuclear capability, which brings every Indian target into Pakistan’s striking range. Consequently, Pakistan is developing a “full spectrum of nuclear weapons in all three categories — strategic, operational and tactical, with full range coverage of the large Indian land mass and its outlying territories” including Nicobar and Andaman Islands. For developments of the command by India at these Islands will severely undermine the deterrence and regional strategic stability.

After the introduction of “India’s Cold Start Doctrine” and in response to growing conventional forces asymmetry, Pakistan has increased its reliance on nuclear weapons. Though, India tries to formulate alternative strategies around nuclear deterrence to achieve its regional and global strategic ambitions. However, Pakistan has countered the Indian technological and missile developments with calculated responses to uphold deterrence and strategic stability in the region. Such as, successful test of Multiple Independent Re-entry Targetable Vehicle (MIRV), Ababeel is a reliable measure against Indian Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system.Additionally, India’s testing of Agni IV and Agni V in year 2017 hasdemonstratedthat the development of low yieldNasar is a stabilizing addition to the prevailing deterrence equation.

Howeverin shifting regional security environment, arms race, vertical proliferation, war mongering mindset of political elites and absence of arms control regime is viewed as unavoidable challenge to deterrence equilibrium at tactical level as well as strategic level. India’s growing conventional and military capabilities, shifting nuclear strategy and aggressive policies have potential to disturb regional peace and stability but India is not willing to pay any heed to emerging challenges to deterrence. Therefore, Pakistan has adequately prepared itself to address the challenges of Indian aggression by maintaining credible nuclear deterrence and conventional defence.  Pakistan’s counter measures such as development of Nasr and Ababeel has thwarted India’s Cold Start Doctrine and Ballistic Missile Defence System because facing the instability and aggression is not an option.

To conclude, it is imperative for Pakistan to modernize its nuclear weapon to deter India from taking any offense against Pakistan. Accordingly, any compromise on its nuclear weapon advancement and modernization can be dangerous for regional stability and its own national security.

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Defense

How the Internet made nuclear war thinkable (again)

Rafal Rohozinski

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Nuclear weapons formed the basis of strategic stability between the nuclear superpowers for the past seventy years. The threat of instantaneous and mutual annihilation helped concentrate minds, including the establishment of clear and unambiguous “rules of the game” among the nuclear superpowers. States continued to compete, but competition was never allowed to compromise overall strategic stability.

Nuclear deterrence was based on a simple calculus. Once launched, nuclear weapons were nearly impossible to stop and even limited use would result in civilization ending consequences. In former US President Reagan’s words, nuclear war was “unthinkable”. The knowledge that entire nations could be obliterated was a sufficient guarantor of strategic stability based on Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

The shared confidence in MAD that underpinned the nuclear regime started changing during the 1990s. New research and development into anti-ballistic missile systems improved raised concerns over the durability of nuclear deterrence. Specifically, the Russian government interpreted the placement of radars and ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe as an existential threat to Russia’s nuclear deterrence capability, and not a bulwark against supposed rogue states as alleged by the US and its allies.

Even so, MAD survived into the early twenty first century, keeping the nuclear threat on the back-burner. Cooperation between the major nuclear powers to disarm also reached an all-time high. Both the US and Russia focused on reducing their nuclear stockpiles with admirable results. Working with the United Nations, the focus was on the threat of loose nukes, rather than a confrontation between nuclear-armed foes. Tensions, which persisted, were treated by all sides as manageable and negotiable.

All of this changed with the Internet. The Internet shares a coincidental heritage with the nuclear age. Indeed, it was conceived as a decentralized and distributed communications network that could survive a nuclear war and preserve a command and control. In the post Cold War era, its principal significance is not so much military as the news backbone of the global digital economy. These two worlds  –  the nuclear and the digital –  are now converging. They are also giving rise new risks, three of which stand out.

The first risk relates to bringing nuclear command-and-control systems into the digital age. The existing nuclear weapons infrastructure is for the most part analog and predates the Internet era. As Russian and US nuclear command and control systems are modernized over the next few years their dependence on digital technologies will increase. Modernization necessarily increases complexity – and complexity creates new possibilities for error.

The planet came perilously close to a nuclear exchange on several occasions over the past half century. A nuclear calamity was only averted by the courageous actions of men such as Lt Col. Stanislav Petrov, who in September 1983 deliberately ignored sensor data that falsely reported the Soviet Union under a massive nuclear attack from America. With nuclear command and control systems increasingly dependent on artificial intelligence, there are less opportunities for human intervention.

There are also the risks of hacking and digital manipulation. The Stuxnet case is a reminder that this possibility is more science than fiction. The implanting of malware designed to destroy Iran’s capacity to separate uranium demonstrated emphatically the utility and feasibility of strategic cyber attacks. Interventions designed to disrupt and destroy the command and control systems of nuclear weapons are the Internet equivalent of Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative. They dangerously entangle cyber warfare and nuclear stability. There are just 9 nuclear armed states, but over 140 countries are actively developing cyber warfare capabilities.

The second risk is that the world´s dependence on cyber actually increases the deterrence value of acquiring even a few nuclear weapons. Due to their blast, radioactive and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effects, nuclear weaponry is especially effective against states that are hyper-connected and reliant on digital technologies. They can disable and destroy electrical grids, data farms and computer and communication systems – wreaking havoc on everything from financial systems to water and food supplies.

A new suite of hydrogen bombs are being developed with the EMP impacts in mind. The weapons tested by North Korea are reportedly based on Russian design and intended to have an enhanced electromagnetic effects, a fact publicized by North Korea´s leadership. New research from Accenture strategy and Oxford Economics suggests that roughly 25% of all global GDP will be tied to the digital economy by 2020. The detonation of just one EMP in the upper atmosphere above North America or Western Europe could cripple their digital infrastructures for years. Even outgunned, North Korea is potentially holding world´s digital economy hostage.

The third risk is perhaps most unsettling risk is that nuclear first strikes are becoming thinkable as a viable option to stop the use of similar weapons by states like North Korea. Recall that nuclear deployment systems are based on electronics. These electronic systems may be resistant to offensive cyber attacks. It is not inconceivable that in a moment of crisis, EMP-enhanced nuclear weapons could be deployed to prevent a rogue nuclear state from launching its ballistic missiles. Such an action may even appear rational, or the lesser of two evils.

All of the risks outlined above are still hypothetical. But as the digital and nuclear worlds become increasingly entangled, reality is catching-up. The strategy of deterrence is being redefined and the implications are deeply worrying. The launch of cyber-attacks and precision nuclear strikes using EMP against the weapons systems of adversaries no longer seems as far-fetched as it once was. With nuclear war becoming thinkable again, we are clearly entering uncharted waters.

First published in our partner International Affairs

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