It is undeniable that South Asia cannot afford another weaponry race among nations in the wake of recent frictional events between India and Pakistan under continued aggression of present Indian regime. After S-400 deal, India is moving towards the acquisition of multi-layered missile defence system. Pakistan’s Foreign Office has rightly expressed concerns over United States’ recent approval of Integrated Air Defence Weapon System IADWS sale to India. Surely such a deal would fuel the offensive posturing of India and is likely to disturb the strategic balance in South Asia, precisely putting Pakistan into another security dilemma. Additionally, the regional dynamics do not allow any offensive state to continue with acquisition of latest weaponry and bringing an asymmetry to already volatile region.
The proposed Integrated Air Defence Weapon System IADWS with an estimated cost of US $1.87 billion,is currently deployed around the Washington DC.It comprises of launchers, targeting and guidance systems, advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) and Stinger missiles (shoulder-fired Man-Portable Air Defense System, which is relatively effective, lightweight, reusable launcher), 3D Sentinel radars, fire-distribution centers and command-and-control units. IADWS is the advanced form of National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS-II).
According to Delhi’s Air Defence Plan, the national capital is set to get a multi layered missile defence system similar to that of Washington. The NASAMS will form the innermost layer of the protection of Delhi, as per the proposed overall air defence plan of the national capital. The layer over the NASAMS will be formed by indigenous Aakash defence missile system with a 25-km range. The Russian S-400 systems, scheduled for delivery in the October 2020-April 2023 timeframe, will provide the second layer of protection. These are the highly automated and mobile S-400 systems, which will have missiles with interception ranges of 120, 200, 250 and 380 kms, backed by their associated battle-management system. It is followed by Barak-8 medium range surface-to-air missile systems, jointly developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries and Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO).The indigenous two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD), comprising of advance air defence (AAD) and Prithvi air defence (PAD) interceptor missiles, system being developed by DRDO will be the outermost layer of Delhi’s missile shield.
Sale of such sophisticated weapon system to India carries serious implications for Pakistan and will bring repercussions for the whole region. Beside cross border conventional and sub-conventional attacks lately, Indian political and military leadership has repeatedly threatened Pakistan with an intent to be more aggressive in the strategic and cyber domains. Acquisition of IADWS signals the future intensity of airspace violation by India as was done in the recent past (Balakot airstrikes).Pakistan’s foreign office also expressed its concern and warned the international community of possible false flag operation by India to divert attention from its real-time state-sponsored terrorism.
Rather than ensuring peace and stability, the air defence weapon system sale to India shows US’ unwillingness to keep the regional equilibrium intact. In complete disregard to this concern, both the US and India obstinately proclaim that the latter one intends using such defense articles and services to modernize its armed forces, and to expand its existing air defense architecture to counter threats posed by air attack. Nonetheless, it will strengthen the US-India strategic partnership. In other words, despite Indian government’s blatant aggression and adventurism, the US stands unconvinced of India’s potential to drag the region into a confrontational future. Furthermore, the major powers’ continued defense support to India indicates deliberate neglect of regional peace. With enhanced air defense capability, firstly India puts Pakistan under pressure of acquiring equitable technology. Secondly, with such advancement India is likely to become more belligerent towards its rival states which would increase the chances of warfighting that could eventually cross the threshold.
To prevent further destabilization of the region, Pakistan proposed a discussion on a strategic restraint regime for South Asia which includes the proposal to avoid the induction of weapons contributing towards lowering of nuclear threshold. With normalizing strategy and prompt resolve, Pakistan has responsibly prevented an escalation in the region despite Indian provocations. It is now international community’s responsibility to carry out an in-depth analysis of regional dynamics and trace frictional events between the two nuclear weapon states. Furthermore, major powers with their rational and responsible approach must ensure regional stability via unbiased and stabilizing initiatives which would encourage both parties to avoid escalation.
Does Turkey Plan Revenge for Al-Watiya Attack?
On Monday, July 6th, Turkish Defense Ministry declared that it plans to conduct large-scale military exercises. The Turkish Air Force’s F-16 fighter jets and KC-135 Stratotankers will perform in-flight refueling over the Mediterranean Sea, the statement published by the ministry said.
The statement was followed by a sudden announcement of NAVTEX drills by the Turkish Naval Forces that are also supposed to take place in the Mediterranean. The maritime exercises will be conducted off the Libyan coast in three different regions and are designated to prepare the navy forces for a potential war and to “prove Turkey’s ability to control the region by air and sea.” Eight naval vessels and 17 warplanes will participate in the drills.
The goal, the location, and the timing of the Turkish exercises bear particular importance in regards to the recent incident at the Al-Watiya air base in Libya. Unidentified planes targeted the Turkish troops deployed to Al-Watiya on the night of July 4, damaging and destroying a number of the Turkish air defense systems positioned at the base. Officials of the Government of National Accord (GNA) blamed the allies of the Libyan National Army (LNA) for the attack. Spokesman for the Volcano of Rage operation carried out by the GNA forces Abdul-Malek Al-Madini claimed that the air strikes were executed by Dassault Mirage fighters belonging to the United Arab Emirates, a major ally of the LNA. The attack evidently caught Ankara by surprise and made the Turkish authorities consider an option of resorting to the use of force against the LNA and its allies.
The timing and the location of the drills provide Turkey with an opportunity to strike the LNA military assets of strategical importance in the area. Turkey wants to send a message to its adversaries and to demonstrate its resolve to use force to protect its troops in Libya, believes Egyptian military analyst Samir Ragheb. Indeed, during his recent visit to Tripoli Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar met GNA officials and signed an agreement that granted Ankara the right of initiating direct military intervention in Libya and establishing military bases in the North African country.
Such provocative actions and statements are clear evidence of Turkey’s firm intent to use military force to achieve its goals in Libya. Should Ankara decide to strike the LNA, it will inevitably result in a new escalation of violence and will further exacerbate the already deteriorating security situation in the region.
A comparison of strategic doctrines
In principle it is not political choices that generate strategic doctrines. The opposite is true, if anything.
In the case of China, for example, it is very useful to study the evolution of recent strategic assumption and the most current military doctrines so as to later analyse political and even ideological changes.
Hence, which are China’s future and preferential battlefields? Which are the threats that the Chinese decision-makers regard as primary and what is their origin? What wars will China wage and fight? Indeed, inter alia, a strategic doctrine also answers these questions.
First and foremost, China’s military leadership has shifted the centre of gravity of its defence activities from the terrestrial centre of the country to the peripheries, hence mainly to the coasts and, ultimately, to China’s regional seas.
During the Cold War, China had adopted a defensive “all-out war”.
Currently the Chinese doctrine mainly concerns regional and limited wars, restrained both in time and space and in the use of force.
This means that currently China has not yet vast global interests to defend with a war. It will soon have them, however.
Moreover, currently the Chinese political and military decision-makers do not believe that – in the not too distant future – China will be involved in a global sea or territorial war.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has a full monopoly of force in China.
Moreover, the PLA does not depend directly on the Ministry of Defence, but only on the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The PLA’s high-ranking officers report directly to the CPC’s Central Military Commission and not to other entities. Hence they take orders only from it. The PLA’s Commander-in-Chief is the General Secretary of the CPC; the Defence Minister reports only to the State Council and the Central Military Commission is only a very powerful body of the CPC.
With specific reference to military spending, the latest data reports a PLA’s annual cost of 250 billion U.S. dollars while, for example, the U.S. military budget amounts to 649 billion U.S. dollars, again based on the latest data available.
The Chinese ground forces consist of 975,000 units, while the Navy of 240,000 and the Air Force of 395,000 units. The Strategic Missile Force uses 100,000 units, while the Strategic Support Force finally operates with 175,000 soldiers.
Other unspecified tasks and functions are performed by 150,000 soldiers and officers.
As to materials used and weapons – which are a strategic indication and not just a mere information item – the PLA has 70 intercontinental ballistic missiles and 162 bombers; 3,860 armoured combat vehicles for infantry; 6,740 tanks and 13,420 artillery pieces; 57 missiles for submarine launch; 1 aircraft carrier, as well as 82 frigates and cruisers; 4 amphibious ships; 1,966 tactical aircraft; 246 attack helicopters and, finally, 77 military satellites.
So far the PLA has deeply studied the example of the U.S. war in Iraq and hence of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).
This means a war fought above all with advanced technologies, communication networks and particularly with the highest-precision weapons and information technology.
Until the RMA adoption, China relied above all on the clear numerical superiority of its ground forces.
In other words, the Chinese military doctrine was based on the fight against a land invasion or an occupation but, after the Gulf War and the Iraqi war waged and led by the United States, China began to reduce the size of its ground forces so as to focus on more technologically advanced and better trained Forces.
Another key factor of Chinese military modernization has been Taiwan’s political status.
During the 1997 crisis, in fact, China did not succeed in discovering the way and extent of U.S. military engagement in the region.
It was after this failure that China began to produce anti-ship missiles, medium range ballistic missiles, A2 anti-ship missiles and other anti-access-area denial weapons, as well as cyber- and anti-satellite weapons.
As a whole, the People’s Republic of China has developed four military doctrines since 1949.
The doctrines developed before 1993, however, were all centred on the Maoist concept of “People’s War”, i.e. the “long-term People’s War”.
It was mainly based on maintaining the support of civilian population for the Armed Forces and on combining the efforts of the working class and of the “Red Army” led by the CPC.
The strategic goal of the “People’s War”was to force enemies to enter China’s large central area, where they would be besieged and then defeated, again by the combined effect of the working class and the Red Army.
In essence, the People’s War was aimed at being prolonged as much as possible and hence wearing and tearing the attackers.
Moreover, again according to Mao Zedong, the “long-term war” was based on three phases: strategic retreat, strategic stalemate and strategic counter-offensive.
With a view to completing these three phases, three types of Forces were needed: the regular army, the local forces and the guerrilla warfare forces.
However, there is no theory of political warfare – also outside Marxism – which does not envisage guerrilla warfare.
Towards the end of the Cold War, in 1980 China adopted the concept of the “People’s War under Modern Conditions”.
Again with the label of the Maoist “People’s War”, a war of defence was envisaged at various levels, which were already active at the borders, as well as far more offensive operations than those envisaged by the old “People’s War”.
In 1993 – almost at the end of the Cold War, in which Mao Zedong never believed – China adopted a new doctrine, called “Winning Local Wars under High-Tech Conditions”.
While initially thePLA was thinking about a war of defence against a land invasion, in the case of that doctrine the Chinese decision-makers imagined a peripheral war in high-tech conditions.
In other words, a defensive war against an attack by Taiwan, Japan, the United States or their regional allies.
And by the Russian Federation, as well. The Chinese doctrine was no longer defensive, as it even suggested a first strike, including a nuclear one, to immediately provide China with an advantage over the attacker.
The key concepts of the 1993 doctrine were the following: the “strategic frontier”, i.e. the limit beyond which you react, even with a nuclear salvo; “strategic deterrence”, which occurs when the enemy knows how China will react; “victory achieved through elite troops”, well beyond the old link between workers and the Red Army; “taking the initiative by striking first”; “victory over inferiority through superiority” – obviously of forces – and finally “quick battles to force quick resolution”.
A huge anthropological and cultural transformation, compared to the CPC’s political and military tradition.
No longer war of attrition, but quick war not designed to annihilate the enemy. Then strategic deterrence is considered, i.e. the use of nuclear weapons, as well as the new role – certainly scarcely “Maoist” and scarcely “people-based” – of the elite troops.
For Mao Zedong, at the core there was the “human sea” of his “People’s War”, not certainly the inequality between special forces and the rest of troops.
Moreover, there was another innovative aspect in the 1993 doctrine: the importance attached by China’s military decision-makers to the joint operations in its peripheries.
Reading between the lines, the CPC’s message was that, with the 1993 doctrine, China could solve the conflicts with its neighbouring countries by force.
The 2004 doctrine was called “Winning Local Wars with Informatised Warfare”.
The core of the issue was “IT and computerization”, which replaced the more generic term used in the 1993 doctrine of “High-Tech Conditions”.
Besides underlining again the importance of joint operations, as in 1993, the 2004 doctrine highlighted the consistent, orderly and stable flow of information between the various command and control centres and the military operating on the battlefield.
Therefore, since 2004 the core of the Chinese military reform has become the creation of a powerful command, control, communications, computers, intelligence and surveillance network (C4ISR).
The scenarios envisaged for the future war included, above all, the assault on the islands and the blockade of the islands, as well as counter-attack campaigns in border areas.
Finally, there is also a new Chinese military doctrine, which is largely still operational.
Released in 2014, it is called “Winning the Informatised Local Wars”.
The new Chinese “active defence” is based on it.
Although not radically changing the previous theories, the 2014 doctrine underlines the fundamental role of flexibility, mobility, joint operations, information dominance and precision raids.
The strategic direction remains the usual one: South-East Asia and Taiwan, i.e. China, tell us – between the lines – that a future and probable conflict for Taiwan will also involve the United States.
Furthermore, the 2014 doctrine carefully sets the issue of Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTV), such as rescue operations; counter-terrorism; maintaining political and social stability; protection of rights and interests; peacekeeping activities and international humanitarian assistance.
The Chinese PLA also distinguishes between MOOTW and Preparation for Military Struggle (PMS).
Therefore, incidentally, the primary goal is the war for conquering Taiwan, but the PLA is also preparing for regional wars in the South China Sea and Southeast Asia, while the current doctrine, from 2014 onwards, is a military theory linked to the solution of a “high-intensity conflict”.
The Chinese planners’ idea is a “war for the destruction of systems”, as was the case during the Gulf War in 1991 or the Kosovo one in 1999.
China currently implements the Effect Based Operation (EBO) criterion that the United States began to use in the mid-1990s.
The “war of systems” means that whoever wins paralyzes the enemies’ “system of systems”.
However, what would the United States do if it waged war against China? Most likely, it would start with operations on the Southern coast, with a view to decimating the Chinese Navy.
This would be followed by a U.S. attack against the Chinese command and control networks to prevent the PLA from striking back immediately.
In all likelihood, China would respond by using its artificial islands in the South China Sea and initially relying on information superiority, which would be followed by a joint operation against the U.S. fleet and later by a joint attack on one or many U.S. bases in the South China Sea.
Could India’s Diplomatic Outreaches Be a Success amid Heightened Border Tensions?
The India- China border scuffle at Galwan Valley on June 15, in which India lost its twenty servicemen of Assam rifles wing, marked a watershed moment in the Sino-Indian Relation. Although the tensions from unsettled borders prevail over for more than a decade, fatalities occur after long forty-five years, at the 3500km long Line of Actual Control (LAC). The LAC lies in between two Asian heavyweights endures undemarcated for more than half a century. Even though Beijing hasn’tyet formally confirmed casualties on their side, several international bureaus and Chinese state-backed Global Times have reported death toll on either side.
The recurrence of violence at LAC has lit a fuse in between two nuclear powers in the continent, exacerbating the mutual skepticism and long-drawn-out conflict of interests. The hostility has grabbed international attention, as both parties involved possess substantial political and economic leverage, along with highly sophisticated weapons in their arsenal. The European Union and United Nations have expressed concerns over the conflict escalation and have insisted to peacefully resolve the dispute.
The Trump administration has articulated a paradigm shift in favor of New Delhi, from the initial offer for mediation in May last and the support for a peaceful resolution, soon after the standoff turned deadly on 15 June. Since tensions skyrocket, New Delhi and Beijing are mounting up firepower on their side of LAC. India, anticipating a conflict escalation or even limited war at the double frontier, taking the threat from Pakistan into account, are exploring all diplomatic pathways to enhance its position in the standoff. Under the current circumstances, the outcome of these diplomatic outreaches assumes new criticality in New Delhi’s strategic designs aimed to keep the dragon at bay.
India’s Diplomatic Outreaches
The New Delhi has invigorated its diplomatic channels amid intensified border tensions. New Delhi wants to ensure the flow of weaponry from top suppliers, foreseeing a persistent battle at the LAC. Indian strategic circles also anticipate the possibility of a multi-front attack, considering the strategic partnership and all-weather alliance prevailing in between Islamabad and Beijing. Several agencies report that Islamabad plans to move around 20000 Pak soldiers to the Line of Control (LoC), coupling with the Chinese presence in the East.
Given this, the firepower up-gradation on a war footing is ever more vital for India. The defense minister, Rajnath Singh, called on Moscow to attend the 75th Victory Day parade of the USSR’s victory over Nazi Germany, has thrust upon the Kremlin administration to expedite the delivery of S-400 Air Defense System. Russia is the host country for the RIC meet and Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit (SCO) this year, offers plenty of occasions for bilateral engagement. Apart from this, the Indian Ambassador to Moscow, DB Venkatesh had a cellular conversation with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgolov on June 17 regarding the clash between both countries. Beijing has already integrated the same to its defense complex, becoming the first nation to move in this direction in 2014.
The New Delhi has scaled up its diplomatic engagement with Washington in the backdrop of growing border frictions with Beijing. Both nation’s threat perceptions about the PRC go in line with the other’s. The New Delhi has been briefing the border situation to Washington’s circles. New Delhi is well aware that the U.S. support is indispensable during the Chinese aggression. The unflinching support of the United States would boost Indian morale and would exert pressure on Beijing in an aggressive standoff. Besides this, the access to state-of-art weapons and defense equipment from Washington at the time of conflict escalation or limited war is of paramount significance for Indian forces to cope up with the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army. The Indian authorities are in attempts to speed up the supply of precision artillery weapons from the U.S.
The delivery of Rafale fighter jets from the French firm, Dassault Avionics, assumes top priority in Indian defense acquisition plans. France has reaffirmed its commitment to deliver the fighter jets on time in a conversation with the Defense minister Rajnath sigh and French defense minister Florence Parly. The initial transfer of four aircraft is expected by July end. The Indian leadership is leaving no stone unturned to raise the number of aircraft delivered in the first phase to six.
Jerusalem is another door for New Delhi to knock in time of watershed moments. Israel, during the 1999 Kargil skirmish, provided technical backstopping for IAF to integrate the Paveway Laser Guided Missiles into Mirage 2000 fighters. This technological advancement, with Israeli assistance, played a pivotal role in Indian success during the conflict. India, which has been Jerusalem’s top defense export destination, is actively going in pursuit of a SPIDER in service Air Defense System from the Jewish state.
Apart from this, the Indian external minister explained the border situation to his French foreign minister, Jean Yves Le Drian. The Indian secretary of foreign affairs, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, has also reached out to this French counterpart in a video conference. As part of these interactions, Paris has expressed its willingness to boost cooperation with India in the Western Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific. The New Delhi on similar lines has discussed the India-China Border scuffle with one another European power, Germany. The interaction took place between the German state secretary, Miguel Berger Friday, and India’s HV Shringla.
Outcomes of these Engagements
The outcomes of New Delhi’s diplomatic engagement would be a determining factor concerning the Indian aspirations to emerge victorious in its ongoing and future border strife with Beijing. The Indian endeavor to win the support of Moscow in any skirmish with Beijing is critical as it has a historic friendship with New Delhi and an ongoing economic and strategic partnership with Beijing. Taking the depth of its engagement with Beijing into account, the Kremlin does not want to get dragged into the India-China bilateral power rivalry. But at the same time, Russia has assured to hasten the delivery of weapons amid the worsening scenario at LAC.
Albeit the fact that both the New Delhi and Washington share common anxiety regarding the rise of China and its security implications, the extent to which the U.S. be willing to get involved in the India-China dispute remains contentious. The White House has reiterated its support to New Delhi in its border clash with Beijing. However, the Trump administration’s first response to the deadly standoff on 15th July sounds the alarm on the U.S.’s commitment to the Indian security concerns. Washington’s initial statement has been to find a peaceful settlement, taking a neutral stance. The U.S. could ensure the supply of arms and ammunition to New Delhi during the crisis.
Similarly, Israel, despite its increased economic interaction with PRC would supply sophisticated weapons to New Delhi. The enhanced cooperation with France would provide a booster to Indian initiatives to counter the Chinese naval dominance in IOR. Likewise, the mutual exchange with Berlin assumes greater importance for India as it would hold the presidentship of the EU for the next five years. The intensified interaction with the European powers would help to exert diplomatic pressure on Beijing to exercise restraints at Border.
The support from key allies is critical at this stage as New Delhi faces a huge engulf in firepower, both in terms of nuclear warheads and conventional power, with PRC. But, the extent of support that these countries be willing to provide is questionable. On these grounds, the strategic option before New Delhi seems to be limited, compelling New Delhi to sort out the situation, on its behalf to a great extent.
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