The subterranean objectives of STA-1

Security Wise

James Mattis and Wilbur Ross Photos - 3 of 4

[Trump, to his left, General James Mattis, and Commerce Secretary William Ross]

The September 6 timeline for the 2×2 talks between the Indian and US foreign and defence ministers was approaching fast. This is a postponement of the July 6 meeting. Because of preoccupations of Washington at the time, the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in particular — whose agency conducts America’s foreign affairs — found on the eve of the visit by Messrs Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman to Washington in July that the Trump administration had not addressed the growing doubts and skepticism in Delhi, occasioned by possible CAATSA sanctions, about the advisability and benefits of getting close to the US which the American ambassador Kenneth Juster in Delhi had warned could become a stumbling block in 2×2 forum. So the two month period was sought by Pompeo to try and see what could be done to…

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If Imran Khan is PM, it will be hard line against India

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Image result for pics of shireen mazari and imran khan together

(Shireen Mazari on the right)

A leader is known by his/her advisers. The policies the leader is likely to pursue are telegraphed by what  these advisers may have said and written. Should the Pakistan Tehreeq-i-Insaaf (PTI) party win the general elections on Wednesday, July 26, Imran Khan will be installed as Prime Minister. Every one expects this will happen, considering he is the Pakistan Army’s candidate, as Nawaz Sharif once was, and that the ISI will ‘work’ the levers to obtain the desired result. In which case, the person to look out for is the irascible Shireen Mazari, a Pathan, who once threatened to take another female PTI party-mate to a tribal jirga for purveying falsehoods about her.

Mazari was Director-General of the Pakistan government funded thinktank, Institute of Strategic Studies, in Islamabad, in 2000-2008, and is PTI’s ‘Information secretary’ and advises Imran on foreign and defence affairs.  She may…

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What ails India’s defence forces

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Image result for pics of Indian tanks on maneuver

Size and brass buckle traditions are what the Indian military is known for internationally — third-largest army, fourth-largest air force, seventh-largest navy — and not for its quality, operational dexterity, or innovative use of technology.

Worse, it is growingly tainted by ‘big’ corruption — with uniformed officers in the defence ministry’s procurement loops partaking, along with their civilian counterparts, of the usual goodies on offer — ‘commissions’ channelled into secret offshore accounts, or bribery in kind such as foreign trips, shopping sprees in Paris, London, Stockholm, and ‘scholarships’ and ‘green card’/resident and work visas for progeny, etc. for facilitating deals for foreign armaments and hardware.

Very occasionally, due to sheer bad luck senior officers get caught with their hands in the till, as Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi was. The former air force chief was indicted by the CBI for taking a bribe from Italy’s AgustaWestland Company in a 2010 deal worth…

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New Delhi must reset its overt tilt to the US

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Image result for pics of Trump and Modi

(Friendship in fine fettle?)

Conflicting signals are emanating from Delhi. Washington cancelled the 2+2 talks scheduled for July 6 involving the foreign and defence ministers because it believed the BJP government was going off script. India indicated it would not compromise its ties with Russia and with Iran, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin elevating the bilateral relations at their May 21 “informal summit in Sochi to privileged special strategic partnership, several rungs above the plain strategic partnership with the US, and by the readying of alternative banking channels to pay for Iranian oil. But Delhi is also seeking waivers from CAATSA sanctions.

The sealing of the deal for the S-400 air defence system, the shortlisting of the St Petersburg-based Rubin submarine design bureau as foreign partner for the Navy’s Project 75i conventional submarine project, and reiterating Chabahar port as the linchpin of India’s geopolitical strategy…

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Reasons for not inviting Trump to India

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Image result for pics of trump and modi

(Two strongman buddies)

Returned from a summer holiday to read that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is contemplating inviting US President Donald J Trump as the chief guest for the 2019 Republic Day celebrations in the expectation that this will brighten his own and the ruling BJP’s prospects in the general elections to be held no later than May next year. Well, good luck! (Though what one hears everywhere in Delhi is that Modi will hold the national elections at the same time as the Rajasthan state polls in November this year to prevent the bad effects of the anticipated rout for the Raje regime there from cascading into disastrous general election results.)

Not sure who is advising Modi about inviting Trump. May be such thinking is the result of his own instincts, and the slight acquaintanceship he established with Trump in the two meets the two strongman leaders have had…

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Why the Tejas cost is high

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Image result for pics of tejas lca

(Tejas — up and away)

There has been some public handwringing over the unit cost of the Tejas LCA.  Most of it motivated, from the same quarters that had repeatedly doubted whether the aircraft would be other than a paper plane and, as the project progressed and began passing technical milestones, whether it would ever match up to specs and, when it began proving its druthers as a fighting platform, whether it would ever be an operationally fit aircraft — recall the then  CAS ACM PV Naik’s contemptuous dismissal of this home-grown fighter not that many years ago as “a three-legged cheetah”? — to now when there’s little doubt about the warplane’s bonafides — as it is a damn good combat aircraft that can give any import a run for India’s money. So these import-lovers and skeptics are toggling at the  comparative cost angle, per chance, to derail any which…

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What use is the Rafale and the French connection?

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Image result for pics of the rafale on factory floor

(Rafale being put together at the Dassault plant in Merignac)

Senior Air staff officers have, of late, been talking confidently of the combo of the 6,000 air defence missiles ordered as part of the S-400 system that India is buying from Russia and the Su-30MKI (hopefully upgraded to “super Sukhoi” configuration that will convert IAF’s Su-30 squadrons into a fleet of near FGFAs) as being more than sufficient to handle PLA Air Force (PLAAF) on the Tibet-Arunachal front. The front line role of the Sukhois against the stronger, more comprehensively capable adversary, China, raises the question of what good exactly the Rafale combat aircraft  in the force  will do.

It is the warplane the service hankered for and, with the BJP Govt acceding mindlessly to its demand, the country is finding that the deal comes with a bagful of troubles for the country, and for Modi. Have always maintained that…

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