Category Archives: Reports

Promise of Small Satellites for National Security

Promise of Small Satellites for National Security

Author: Rajaram Nagappa

To read the complete report click here

To cite: Nagappa, Rajaram. The Promise of Small Satellites for National Security. NIAS Report No. 33-2015. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, December 2015, available at http://isssp.in/promise-of-small-satellites-for-national-security/

Small Satellites

India is one of the few spacefaring nations having demonstrated capability in both launch vehicle and satellite domains. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) functioning under the Department of Space is the responsible agency and has established the capability to plan and implement end-to end missions. The main thrust of ISRO is aimed at carrying out satellite-based applications for societal benefits.

These include satellite missions for communication, earth observation, meteorology and regional navigation. ISRO also carries out scientific missions, deep space missions and offers commercial launch services. Technology improvements have been steadily incorporated and in the earth observation satellites, better than one metre resolution has been achieved. Because of the dual use nature of space applications, the security services in the country have derived information useful their purpose from the ISRO space programmes. 

Among the launch vehicles, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is operational and has a good track record. The Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) should also be reaching operational status shortly and while the GSLV Mk-3 is still in the development stage. ISRO is a civilian organisation and very rightly prioritizes its mandated tasks. Consequently, the space services currently do not cater to the needs of military space, which are evolving now. Though ISRO has the technical capability, there are capacity constraints in both satellite building and launch services.

Envisaged military space requirements will include exclusive communication satellites, electronic intelligence satellites (ELINT) and constellation of optical and radar imaging satellites for continuous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) activities. Small satellites are playing an important role in space applications. They are faster to build, are cost effective and better as they benefit from the use of latest technologies. Small satellite platforms can be adapted for military missions involving optical and radar imaging applications with good resolution as also for ELINT operations. Many examples of international practices bear this out. For increasing the launch frequency, a small satellite launch vehicle can be configured using stages of the Agni missiles and/or ISRO solid rocket stages. Such a launch vehicle would be capable of placing a satellite of mass 350 kg in a nearly circular 500 km polar orbit – quite adequate for military space missions.

The report surveys the small satellite capabilities to meet military space requirement. Use of available standard small satellite buses is suggested to cut down the development time. Major involvement of industry in both satellite and small launch vehicle realization and integration services is suggested to overcome the capacity constraint. It is also suggested that advantage be taken of mobility and different launch locations to carry out the flight missions.

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM: October 2015 Update

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile: October 2015 Update

Authors: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal

To read the complete report in PDF click here

Yaogan Oct 2015 UpdateWith the recent launches of the Yaogan 26 and Yaogan 27 satellites China has demonstrated its ability to routinely identify, locate and track an Aircraft Carrier Group (ACG) on the high seas. This space capability is an important component of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) System that China has set up.

The current operational satellite constellation consists of ELINT satellites, satellites carrying Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors as well as satellites carrying optical imaging sensors.

Based on the orbit characteristics, their local time of equatorial crossing and other related parameters, these satellites can be grouped into different categories that perform the various functions for identifying, locating and tracking the ACG.

Yaogan 9 (Yaogan 9A, 9B, 9C), Yaogan 16 (16A, 16B, 16C), Yaogan 17 (17A, 17B, 17C), Yaogan 20 (20A, 20B, 20C) and Yaogan25 (25A, 25B, 25C) are the five triplet cluster equipped with ELINT sensors that provide broad area surveillance over the Oceans. With a coverage radius of about 3500 Km, they provide the first coarse fix for identifying and locating an ACG in the Pacific Ocean. Yaogan 20 and Yaogan 25 may be replacements for the Yaogan 9 and the Yaogan 16 that may be nearing the end of their lives.

Yaogan 23, Yaogan 10, Yaogan 18, Yaogan 14 and Yaogan 21 are the current operational satellites carrying a SAR sensor. With Local times of crossing of 02 00, 06 00, 10 00, 14 00 hours and 1730 hours, they provide all weather as well as day and night imaging capabilities over the regions of interest.

The Yaogan 26 which had replaced the Yaogan 12 which in turn had replaced the Yaogan 5 has the orbital characteristics of a SAR mission but its local time of crossing is 10 30 AM. This is very close to the 10 00 hours crossing time of the Yaogan 18 SAR satellite. This could therefore be either a SAR mission or a high resolution optical imaging mission. From the orbit characteristics this may possibly carry a SAR.

Yaogan 11, Yaogan 4, Yaogan 24 and Yaogan 7 constitute the high resolution optical satellites in the current constellation. The sensors they carry may have resolutions of between 1 to 3 m. Their local times of crossing of 09 00, 11 00, 13 30, and 15 00 hours respectively ensure favourable illumination conditions for their imaging missions.

Yaogan 27, Yaogan 19, Yaogan 22 and Yaogan 15 satellites with local times of crossing of 09 30, 10 30, 13 30 and 14 30 hours respectively are optical imaging satellites with medium resolution (3 to 10 m) capabilities. They act as a broad area coverage complement for the SAR as well as the high resolution optical imaging satellites. Yaogan 27 is a replacement for the Yaogan 8 that may be nearing the end of its life.

Using typical sensor geometries and the two line orbital elements available from public sources the ability of the current constellation to identify, locate and track the ACG was simulated.

Assuming that any three of the ELINT clusters are operational at any given point in time the ELINT satellites typically make 18 contacts in a day with the moving target. The maximum period for which the target remains outside the reach of the ELINT satellites is about 90 minutes in a day.

The SAR and the optical imaging satellites together typically provide 24 satellite passes over the target. About 16 targeting opportunities, during which the uncertainty in the target’s location is less than 10 km, are available in a day.

The analysis and the simulation results suggest that China has in place an operational ASBM system that can identify, locate, track and destroy an Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific Ocean. This seems to be an important component of a larger Chinese Access and Area Denial Strategy focused around a conflict over Taiwan.

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM : January 2015 Update

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile: January 2015 Update

Authors: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal

To read the complete report in PDF click here

Yaogan Jan 2015With the recent launches of the Yaogan 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 satellites China has augmented its advanced space capabilities to routinely identify, locate and track an Aircraft Carrier Group (ACG) on the high seas. This space capability is an important component of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) System that China has set up.

The current operational satellite constellation consists of ELINT satellites, satellites carrying Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors as well as satellites carrying optical imaging sensors.

Based on the orbit characteristics, their local time of equatorial crossing and other related parameters, these satellites can be grouped into different categories that perform the various functions for identifying, locating and tracking the ACG.

Yaogan 9 (Yaogan 9A, 9B, 9C), Yaogan 16 (16A, 16B, 16C), Yaogan 17 (17A, 17B, 17C), Yaogan 20 (20A, 20B, 20C) and Yaogan25 (25A, 25B, 25C) are the five triplet cluster equipped with ELINT sensors that provide broad area surveillance over the Oceans. With a coverage radius of about 3500 Km, they provide the first coarse fix for identifying and locating an ACG in the Pacific Ocean. Yaogan 20 and Yaogan 25 may be replacements for the Yaogan 9 and the Yaogan 16 that may be nearing the end of their lives.

Yaogan 23, Yaogan 10, Yaogan 18, Yaogan 14 and Yaogan 21 are the current operational satellites carrying a SAR sensor. With Local times of crossing of 02 00, 06 00, 10 00, 14 00 hours and 1730 hours, they provide all weather as well as day and night imaging capabilities over the regions of interest.

Yaogan Satellite being launched (China TV Website)

Long March-2C rocket taking off with the Yaogan Satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (Source: China TV Website)

Yaogan 11, Yaogan 4, Yaogan 24 and Yaogan 7 constitute the high resolution optical satellites in the current constellation. The sensors they carry may have resolutions of between 1 to 3 m. Their local times of crossing of 09 00, 11 00, 13 30, and 15 00 hours respectively ensure favourable illumination conditions for their imaging missions.

Yaogan 8, Yaogan 19, Yaogan 22 and Yaogan 15 satellites with local times of crossing of 09 30, 10 30, 13 30 and 14 30 hours respectively are optical imaging satellites with medium resolution (3 to 10 m) capabilities. They act as a broad area coverage complement for the SAR as well as the high resolution optical imaging satellites.

The Yaogan 12 which replaced the Yaogan 5 has the orbital characteristics of a SAR mission but its local time of crossing is 10 30 AM. This is very close to the 10 00 hours crossing time of the Yaogan 18 SAR satellite. This could therefore be either a SAR mission or a high resolution optical imaging mission.

Using typical sensor geometries and the two line orbital elements available from public sources the ability of the current constellation to identify, locate and track the ACG was simulated.

Assuming that any three of the ELINT clusters are operational at any given point in time the ELINT satellites typically make 18 contacts in a day with the moving target. The maximum period for which the target remains outside the reach of the ELINT satellites is about 90 minutes in a day.

The SAR and the optical imaging satellites together typically provide 24 satellite passes over the target. About 16 targeting opportunities, during which the uncertainty in the target’s location is less than 10 km, are available in a day.

The analysis and the simulation results suggest that China has in place an operational ASBM system that can identify, locate, track and destroy an Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific Ocean. This seems to be an important component of a larger Chinese Access and Area Denial Strategy focused around a conflict over Taiwan.

Launch of Pakistani Shaheen-II (Hatf-VI) Ballistic Missile on November 13, 2014: An Analysis

Launch of Pakistani Shaheen-II (Hatf-VI) Ballistic Missile on November 13, 2014: An Analysis

Authors: Rajaram Nagappa, S. Chandrashekar, N. Ramani, Lalitha Sundaresan and Viswesh Rammohan
To read the complete report in PDF click here

shaheen II Nov 2014 launchA launch of the Shaheen II (Hatf-VI) ballistic missile was carried out by the Pakistan Army Strategic Forces Command on 13 November 2014. What is significant about this launch is that it is taking place after a gap of nearly six and half years. The last announced Shaheen-II launch had taken place on 19 and 21 April 2008. The range claimed in those flights was higher at 2000 km.

A related issue is that the launch was conducted over the Arabian Sea and the Notice to Mariners/Airmen issued in advance identified missile launch window and the coordinates of the impact zones. With the available information from open sources an analysis is carried out of this flight and where relevant comparison is carried out with the launch of April 2008.

Discussion

Based on available information, it would appear that the Shaheen-II launched on 13 November 2014 performed a successful flight. The Shaheen-II flight occurred after a gap of 6.5 years. The range of 1500 km indicated in the press release fits with the announced impact zones. The following questions come to mind:

  1. It is quite likely that the design range of the missile is only 1500 km. NAVAREA warnings for the 2008 flights are non-existent and therefore of it can be surmised that these flights were carried overland from Tilla Range. The 2000 km range claimed for these flights could therefore be overstated.
  2. If this is so, our estimate of the propellant and inert mass of the stage motors should also be wrong. If the propulsion parameters are overestimated by us, it would mean either a) the diameter of 1.4 m of the missile is in error or b) the design is not very efficiently carried out.
  3. Alternately, the propulsion parameters derived are nearly correct and the actual range of the missile is approximately 2133 km. A lofted trajectory was attempted in the November 2014 flight to get a lower range.
  4. Accepted practice is to qualify a missile system for its nominal performance. What is the reason therefore for trying a lofted trajectory, in a developmental mission, especially as there is no range constraint?
  5. The long interval in the resumption of the Shaheen-II flight is indicative of a major technical issue, which may have taken time to resolve.  
  6. The possibility of technical problem is corroborated by a recent report emanating from Hong Kong.
  7. Shaheen-II, unlike the other missiles in the Pakistani arsenal is a two-stage system. Design and performance issues could arise in respect of : (a) sequencing of staging events, (b) transfer of control at the end of first stage burn, (c) vehicle bending modes and structural design, (d) management of vehicle vibration – e.g. issues relating to control system/structure interaction, (e) thermal management of reentry heating to name a few. If the April 2008 flights had brought out any such inadequacies, the planning of the corrective action required, its realization and implementation could explain the long timespan in the resumption of the missile flight. It is possible that remedial action has not reflected in changes to the overall configuration and dimension and therefore is not discernible in the images of the flight vehicle.
  8. The changes may however, have impact on the inert mass of the vehicle and the throw weight, thus impacting the performance.
  9. Procedural issues, lack of priority or financial/resource constraints could also be causative factor for the delay.

In short, the long time gap can only be explained assuming that the Shaheen-II flight of April 2008 exhibited some major anomaly in one or more of the subsystems (e.g. issues relating to staging, control, vehicle flexibility and coupling effects, reentry thermo-structural) and it has taken Pakistan a long time to diagnose, correct (perhaps with Chinese help) and qualify the corrective measures. The corrective measures in turn may have impacted on the inert mass and consequently on the performance. Additionally, if the PSAC has also been incorporated, the development and qualification of such a system would have taken up time, besides adding mass to the missile throw weight.

Conclusion

The Shaheen – II flight. Of 13 November 2014 is analysed. A launch location west of Somniani range is identified and corroborated with assessment of the historical images. The flight over open areas of the Arabian Sea seems to be a logical outcome after the failure of Ghauri flight launched over land in November 2012. The range of the missile has been simulated and matched with the impact location given in the NAVAREA IX warnings. Though a lofted trajectory simulation shows good match with the known impact locations, reasons for justifying such a trajectory is elusive. Reasons for the long gap are difficult to explain in the absence of confirmatory data and can only be speculated to be a combination involving technology issues, correction, requalification and use of PSAC as well as availability of resources and priorities.

R&D on Rare Earth and Value Addition – The Indian Case

R&D on Rare Earth and Value Addition – The Indian Case

Authors: Lalitha Sundaresan and S. Chandrashekar

For the complete report (in PDF) click here
For earlier reports by ISSSP on the Rare Earth issue click here and here

R&D on RE CoverGlobal and Indian interest on the role of hi-tech materials for crafting strategies that furthers a country’s development and geopolitical interests has been on the increase lately. This renewed interest has come about from the various actions taken by China to establish a dominant position in the global Rare Earths (RE) industry and to leverage this position to further its global interests.

India has a fairly strong resource base in Rare Earths and with further exploration these can increase. It has also been engaged in mining and RE extraction activities for more than three decades. This makes it possible for India to become a fairly important player in the global RE industry.

In this connection a National Conference on Rare Earths Processing and Utilization- 2014 was held on May 2- 3, 2014 at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai. This was organized jointly by the Indian Institute of Metals, Mumbai Chapter, Rare Earth Association of India (REAI), and the Materials Research Society of India (MRSI), Mumbai Chapter.

In this brief we, the authors have examined the Abstracts of the conference proceedings and the papers presented at the conference to make a critical appraisal of the R&D conducted within India on RE and the relevance of this R&D for India’s development.

India-China Relations – An Introspection

India-China Relations – An Introspection

Author: Ambassador Saurabh Kumar, Adjunct Faculty, ISSSP, NIAS

To read the complete report in pdf click here

india-china picThe essay attempts a quick appraisal of India’s equation with China from a forward looking strategic standpoint, for charting the way ahead, in light of the ongoing visit of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping to India.

While the immediate task naturally is to work for early realisation of the potential through mutually beneficial diversification and intensification of ties, tapping all possible complementarities through imaginative arrangements and programmes, it is the political relationship that has naturally to be kept in focus as the driver, and determinant of the reach, of the former.

A summary review of political relations between the two countries identifies two features that deserve note:

(i) The fact of extreme volatility of the relationship – right from the start, and continuing to this day.

(ii) The fact that it is the Chinese diplomatic design (disposed towards generalities and formulations long on lofty rhetoric and abstractions that invariably lend themselves to conflicting interpretations and short on unambiguous specifics) that has been allowed to prevail in the corpus of Agreements/Communiques/Declarations/Statements issued over the years. An alternative, Indian template seeking to cast common understandings and shared agreements in tangible terms instead appears to have not even been imagined.

Two high points of the politico-diplomatic interaction of the two countries  – the 1954 Panchsheel  Agreement and the 2005 “Strategic and Cooperative Partnership” – are taken up, briefly, to illustrate the latter feature marking the relationship, namely of atmospherics projected by the official documents being allowed to run way ahead of substantive content.

 It is argued that the “strategic partnership” is just an empty shell. With a recommendation that infusion of some solid content into it is a question that should engage the Indian strategic establishment much more intensely, internally, than hitherto.

Also that the paradigm within which India-China relations have come to be conducted is lacking in balance, and therefore in need of a rejig.

In particular, the approach to the “boundary talks” of the Special Political Representatives  – the ‘three-stage road map’ (proceeding ‘top-down’ from abstract principles and parameters to specifics of territorial adjustments) being followed by the Special Political Representatives – is felt to be in need of a reversal (i.e. a ‘bottom-up’ one, beginning with a prior understanding on the specifics of the eventual boundary alignment evolved instead) in the light of the experience of four decades of ‘normalisation’ of relations (of inordinately, and endlessly, ‘delayed gratification’). A truly ‘political’ approach (entailing “negotiations”, not just “talks”, for coming to grips with the nitty gritty of a final settlement) is recommended to break out of the rut relations have got into over the last several years.

Revisiting Higher Defence Management in India

Revisiting Higher Defence Management in India

ISSSP Working Paper #2, August 2014

Author: Sadhavi Chauhan, Senior Research Fellow, ISSSP, NIAS

To read the complete report in pdf click here

Higher Defence Management

India’s regional security environment necessitates the country’s armed forces to remain at a heightened state of defence preparedness. While in the short run, increasing the defence budget and importing weapons are necessary and unavoidable; a holistic solution lies in strengthening India’s higher defence management.

Need for Greater Political Involvement in Military Issues

Active and regular interactions between the Prime Minister and the Service Chiefs is important. Such interactions will keep the political leadership abreast of military matters and will provide the Services with an ear for their demands and opinions regarding the country’s security.

Creation of a Specialised Bureaucracy

Given the absence of a hands-on approach by the political leaders in defence issues, decisions are largely left in the hands of the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence. Creation of a specialised bureaucratic cadre is crucial to link military imperatives with policy decisions. Furthermore, closer integration of the three Services with the Ministry of Defence will facilitate greater jointness and cooperation, thereby boosting overall synergy. 

Indigenisation and Services-DPSU Collaboration

Higher investment in military research and development (R&D) is needed to boost defence indigenisation. The effectiveness of India’s Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs) will be enhanced if the DPSUs and the Services work in collaboration to draw up standardised quality requirements for their defence weapons and systems. Regular interactions between the Services and the DPSUs, especially during the planning and implementation phases of projects are imperative. The Services need to give sufficient lead-time to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and DPSUs for their development-related efforts. Concurrently, the DPSUs need to offer realistic timelines for the planning and completion of projects, thereby enabling the military to plan their force structures and future acquisitions.

Emphasis on Capacity building

Complete indigenisation is neither possible nor desirable. The existence of defence lobby groups who continue to push for the ‘buy’ option is a reality, which cannot be brushed aside.  Unfortunately, it has been observed that even in cases where the defence R&D establishment has delivered, there is opposition to induction of a quality indigenous product like the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) into the Services. New Delhi needs to manoeuvre around such opposition to reduce its dependence on imports. The offset policy can play a crucial role in this respect, provided India manages to develop the wherewithal to absorb these technologies. Additionally, there is a need for India’s defence sector to ramp up the scale of its production facilities to meet domestic defence requirements in a short time and also cater to the international market by way of defence exports.

Boost Inter-Service Jointness

Inter-Service rivalries hamper the planning of a joint force structure, better inter-service coordination, drawing up of long term national procurement priorities, which in turn, impedes overall defence preparedness. The creation of the position of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will not only act as a crucial link between the three Services but also provide them with a ‘joint voice’.

The Way Forward

In order to strengthen India’s security apparatus, an emphasis needs to be laid on structural reorganisation and defence indegenisation rather than resorting to expanding military budgets and arms imports. Enhanced coordination between the three fulcrums of the higher defence structure, namely the politicians and the Services, the three Services, and the Services and the DPSUs/DRDO remains central to the strengthening of India’s defence preparedness.

Workshop Report – Asia-Pacific Power Dynamics: Strategic Implications & Options for India

Asia-Pacific Power Dynamics: Strategic Implications and Options for India

Authors: M. Mayilvaganan, Aditi Malhotra, Sadhavi Chauhan, and Viswesh R

To read the complete report click here

Executive Summary

report coverBackground: China’s rise, unresolved maritime disputes in Asia Pacific, and the US pivot to Asia have led to the re-emergence of Asia- Pacific as a strategically important region. This new found focus has created a growing need to understand the regional dynamics in a more nuanced way. Given this backdrop, the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme (ISSSP) of the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore has been engaged in a medium term project focusing on China. A primary objective of this project was to study the behaviour of regional countries in the face of a crisis in the Asia Pacific. As a part of this effort, ISSSP organised a workshop titled ‘Asia-Pacific Power Dynamics: Strategic Implications and Options for India’ on March 11, 2014.

Workshop Agenda & Methodology Validation: The agenda and the proceedings of the workshop were finalised through a number of stages. The first stage involved in-house discussions over potential trigger events that could spur a crisis in the Asia-Pacific. The second stage involved the identification of crisis events and possible scenarios along with the compilation of a database, which included relevant information of all the countries in the region. Finally, the agenda and programme for the workshop were decided upon through a validation exercise, held on August 20, 2013, which brought together area experts and scholars. The validation meetings concluded with a consensus on the trigger events that would facilitate the simulation exercise. It was also suggested that the workshop be preceded by a seminar where subject experts would reinforce the current baseline positions of the various countries of the region.

The Groups: The workshop was structured into five groups, keeping in mind the alliances and the major power blocks in the Asia-Pacific region. The first four groups comprised of China and its allies, US and its allies, ASEAN, and India. There was a fifth group, the Control, which included all the other countries, coordinated the events and documented the responses of the other four groups. The groups were made up of area experts hailing from the defence and diplomatic services, academics, and scholars.

Workshop Findings: The Workshop revealed the following strands of strategic thinking amongst the different groups:

The US

The workshop commenced with a baseline position wherein the US did not want to confront China but only deter it. However, the workshop exercise suggested that if the current tensions transform into a crisis that could escalate into a confrontation, the US will be willing to escalate the crisis and would not yield to Chinese threats.

  • The workshop revealed that the US maybe willing to reassert its dominance in the Asia-Pacific if needed; this was displayed by its assertive actions in the region.
  • As events progressed in the workshop, America’s stand transformed from deterrence to containment and eventually from containment to possible confrontation with China.
  • The responses also suggested that the US looks at the region as an integrated entity. Specifically, the US clubbed the East China and the South China Seas, and the Indian Ocean region as one domain, when dealing with China. Thereby, it hoped to invoke a multilateral response to the China threat. This was achieved by a strengthening of ties with its current regional allies (Japan, Korea), and seeking more allies in the South China Sea (Vietnam) and the Indian Ocean Region (India).
  • Although the US wanted India to be a part of its alliance, it was not willing to get involved in India’s bilateral issues with China.

China

  • Unlike the US, China did not view the Asia Pacific region as an integrated entity. Whether this was a conscious part of its strategy or whether it was an inherent flaw in the way they think remained unclear.
  • China’s treatment of regional and global issues seemed to reveal an absence of a clear link between them. Though Taiwan, the East China Sea and the South China Sea issues are all connected especially through geography, China chose to deal with them separately.
  • The divide and rule approach adopted by China was also revealed in its preferences for bilateral negotiations even though many of the maritime disputes in the region are multilateral ones.
  • China’s strengthening of its military and political partnerships with South Asian countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh were aimed to check India, which Beijing identified as a crucial US ally.
  • China’s responses highlighted its aspirations to attain parity with the US in a new bipolar world order, where it enjoys the same status and power that the erstwhile USSR commanded during the Cold War Era.

ASEAN

  • ASEAN’s responses to the events reflected the lack of unanimity amongst its member countries.
  • During crisis situations, ASEAN preferred to use diplomatic negotiations to defuse tensions.
  • The workshop reflected that ASEAN is interested in an enhanced US presence in the region that allows its members the luxury to trade with China, without the problem of political domination by China.
  • Though ASEAN seemed comfortable with the current power structure in the region, an unleashing of Japanese power seemed to have been a matter of grave concern to them. The group’s responses established that ASEAN was as concerned about Japan as it was about China. This is understandable since many of the member countries have been victims of Japanese aggression in the past.
  • Looking at the overall scenario, it can be inferred that ASEAN’s ability to respond in an affirmative manner remains restricted to diplomatic endeavours. Though individual members of ASEAN such as Vietnam or Cambodia could be important from the viewpoint of the US or China, the ASEAN collective did not seem to be a major force in a crisis escalation scenario in the region.

India

  • Throughout the crisis, India practiced strategic restraint and made conscious attempts to stay out of a China-US conflict.
  • India’s responses made it clear that it did not view crisis events in the South China Sea as important enough for it to take any actions.
  • The only time New Delhi contemplated military action was when its territorial interests were in peril.

Issues and Questions: The workshop raised a number of issues to be addressed in greater detail. These issues arise from the various assumptions that went into the formulation of the baseline positions, the trigger event for the crisis and other events that lead to crisis escalation.

  • Under what circumstances (that threaten its current dominant position) will the US move from a strategy of deterrence or containment of China towards a more aggressive posture of reasserting its dominance?
  • Is China’s current aggressive posture, which has transformed a number of neutral countries into potential adversaries, a part of a broader grand strategy? Or is it based on an ad hoc judgment of its interests by vested parties within the Chinese establishment?

As a corollary to the above, the following questions may also need more detailed investigation:

  • Do China’s actions in the region display a prioritisation of its interests? Would it help if China asserted its maritime territorial claims after it has resolved the Taiwan issue? By creating multiple adversaries in the Asia-Pacific, is China creating problems for itself?
  • Is the US approach of looking at the region as an integrated whole the right way to look at the problem?
  • Why does China continue to breach the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), even though it is a signatory to it? Is there some well thought component of a Chinese grand strategy behind some of its overtly irrational and inconsistent behaviour in the region?
  • Under what conditions will India play a more proactive role in an Asia-Pacific crisis?

For the Indian strategic community, there is an undoubted need to gain a deeper understanding of the evolving regional dynamics of the Asia-Pacific, as a result of China’s rise. ISSSP intends to conduct a series of workshops on this theme in the coming years. Future workshops would incorporate more countries and participants, in order to make the events, scenarios and proceedings more realistic and relevant.

Revamping India’s National Security Structure: Agenda for the Indian Government

Revamping India’s National Security Structure: Agenda for the Indian Government

ISSSP Working Paper #1, June 2014

Author: Arun Vishwanathan, Assistant Professor, NIAS

To read the complete report in pdf click here

Revamping India s National Security Structure-CoverThe 2014 elections for the Sixteenth Lok Sabha saw the Indian electorate delivering a positive, decisive mandate to a single party after a gap of almost three decades. An important area which is in need for urgent attention from the Narendra Modi-government is India’s national security structure. Despite past efforts at reform, India’s national security structure continues to be plagued by absence of coordination, turf battles and paucity of human resources. Many of these problems are symptomatic of systemic ills which therefore require a holistic relook.

In order for India to achieve its national interests it should be able to work in a coordinated fashion. This necessitates a holistic revamping of the existing national security apparatus and its workings. Putting in place a mechanism that develops long-term strategies and coordinates their execution is imperative as is and strengthening the National Security Advisor’s (NSA’s) support structure. In addition, such a revamp should also include reforms to the existing higher defence organisation and intelligence setup. This report will flag some of the important issues the incoming government needs to focus on in order to strengthen India’s national security architecture.

Need for a National Strategy

A national strategy is important for planning India’s economic trajectory, shaping the country’s foreign relations, planning its defence modernisation, improving its science and technology capabilities, resource planning, internal security and other such critical areas. Such a strategy would chalk out Indian priorities as a function of India’s aspirations, security challenges and available resources.

Strategic Think-Tank and Coordinating Mechanism

The National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) could be tasked with drawing up holistic medium to long-term strategies in various areas. The NSCS could also act as a coordinating mechanism which implements these strategies by bringing together various departments and ministries of the government.

Strengthen the NSA’s Support Structure

The National Security Advisor (NSA) is the fulcrum around which the NSC system operates. The NSA’s role has expanded over time. Thus it is important to expand the NSA’s core support structure. Also, for the NSA and the NSC system to be able to function effectively it must be able to draw upon and assimilate knowledge from multiple sources into a cogent national strategy.

Reforming the Higher Defence Organisation

A decision on the position of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is long overdue. The Chief of Defence Staff – regardless of what we choose to call the office – will foster inter-Service coordination in planning, execution of operations and in the force planning process. The system will ensure faster decision making during crises and provide a platform for inter-Service dispute resolution. Implementation of the system must address the drawbacks of the current system and evolve a purely ‘Indian’ solution keeping in mind the Indian situation and requirements.

Where to Begin?

The 2001 GoM Report on “Reforming the National Security System in pursuance of Kargil Review Committee Report” had recommended a comprehensive review of India’s national security mechanisms every five years. The exercise of revamping the existing National Security structure could be initiated with such a review.

Asia-Pacific Power Dynamics: Strategic Implications and Options for India

Asia-Pacific Power Dynamics: Strategic Implications and Options for India

Authors: M. Mayilvaganan, Aditi Malhotra, Viswesh R., and Sadhavi Chauhan

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Executive Summary

seminar coverIn the emerging geopolitical discourse today, the Asia-Pacific region has emerged as a major centre of geostrategic interest. Accompanying this change in perception is a change in scope, with strategists not just considering the typical Indian Ocean, but also the western, and sometimes even central Pacific Ocean. The Asia-Pacific ranges from East Africa to the western and central Pacific, including Japan and Australia. Asia-Pacific concept reflected a new reality shaped by the rise of China and India, a revitalized Japan, along with the continued primacy of the United States and also signifies the accelerating economic and security connections between the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean thus creating a single strategic system.

Based on the proceedings of the seminar, the following inferences on the behaviour and strategies of the major players in the Asia Pacific Region can be made.

China
  • China’s economic performance and its military modernization have made it a major power in the Asia Pacific Region.
  • Though there is a great deal of economic inter-dependence between China and the US, there is great trust deficit that spills over into the strategic and military domains. This has created a new Cold War type situation between the two countries.
  • There was agreement among the participants that China is behaving in an increasingly assertive and aggressive way with its neighbours in the region. This assertive behaviour is particularly prominent in the East and South China seas. This behaviour was directed not only at US allies but also at other countries in the region.
  • China’s aggressive behaviour seems to have the full support of the Party and the PLA. The PLA remains under the firm control of the Party. Participants felt that this assertive behaviour would continue.
  • China’s relations with prominent US allies such as Japan and Philippines have become significantly worse following a string of maritime incidents. Other countries such as Vietnam have also been subject to Chinese harassment.
  • China’s behaviour towards the ASEAN group of countries also suggests that it thinks it has a dominant power position.
  • There seems to be a gap between Chinese local bullying behaviour and the overall strategy that seems to advocate a more reasoned rise.
  • Participants described this variously as “psychological flux”, “muscular leadership” and “no clear sense of direction”.

The seminar proceedings raised a number of questions related to the motives behind China’s behaviour. Some questions are as follows:

  • Is China’s increased belligerence based on the premise that US power is on the decline and that it can now match the US at least in the region?
  • With the presence of “US pivot” and the notion of “Air Sea Battle,” does China believes that it has in place a strategy to deter the US from intervening in the region? or
  • Is the increasing assertiveness based on the belief that the US wants to deter China from bullying its neighbours but will not move towards containing China?
  • By implication does this mean that China does not take the “US pivot” and the “Air Sea Battle” as a hindrance to or a constraint on its actions? or
  • Is the Chinese behaviour a consequence of a gap between the local and global strategies or between the tactical and the strategic? What are or what could be the reasons for this gap? Or
  • Is China’s assertiveness a part of a well thought out integrated approach towards the eventual re-establishment of China’s dominant position in the region?
  • Though some participants raised the question of a new world order with China and the US as dominant power centres, the issue did not emerge as a major point deserving serious consideration.
United States

According to the seminar participants the recent US pivot to Asia Pacific region could be interpreted in many ways.

  • It can be seen as a move away from a dominant or hegemonic position towards a rebalancing position.
  • It can also be seen as a US response to contain a rising China. Many participants mentioned that this was the position that the Chinese were taking in response to the “US pivot” and the concept of “Air Sea Battle”.
  • There seemed to be a broad acceptance amongst the participants that the US actions were not aimed at containing China but rather directed towards deterring China’s bullying tactics.
  • The view that the US sees India as an important ally in its rebalancing strategy also seemed to find acceptance.
  • When the sessions on China and the US are viewed together, the seminar proceedings seemed to suggest ambiguities in both Chinese and American perceptions regarding each other’s motives and intentions in the Asia Pacific area. These grey areas could sow the seeds for future conflicts in the region.
Russia
  • Russia would like to remain relevant as a major power centre in the region. The mature status of the European markets for oil and gas, and the growth prospects for them in the Asia Pacific region (especially in China) will force Russia to look eastwards rather than westwards. If China’s response is positive especially in terms of economic investment in Russia’s eastern regions, Russia may not have any problems in sharing power with China, as a part of the new political order in the region.
  • Developments in Ukraine and their consequences will also move Russia closer towards China to counter the moves from NATO and the western alliance. A Sino-Russian alliance of sorts could well happen soon.
  • Japan
  • The seminar proceedings suggest that Japan is seriously worried about the rise of China and its increasing aggressive behaviour towards it. It is also worried about China’s power and influence over a nuclear and missile capable North Korea that can be used to threaten and coerce Japan.
  • Japan has responded to these developments by strengthening its alliance with the US. As a part of this alliance it will once again allow US bases to operate out of Japan.
  • It is also improving its defence capabilities and if the constitution can be amended it is signalling the setting up of a self-defence force for the country.
  • By signing security pacts with Australia and India it has also indicated its intentions to form alliances with other like-minded countries to counter China’s aggressive behaviour.
ASEAN Countries

The ASEAN as a collective body is divided on how it should deal with China’s increasing assertiveness. Some fall clearly within the Chinese camp while others fall within the US camp and many others would like to remain neutral.

  • Most of the approaches adopted by them to build integrated security architecture with all the major players in the region such as the EAS have not delivered any great results so far.
  • As a consequence, countries are pursuing their own approaches when dealing with this situation.
  • Cambodia and Laos appear to be closely linked to China.
  • Indonesia, the largest country of the ASEAN is trying to remain neutral by providing space to China but also seems to be worried about Chinese actions in waters close to it. It is looking new ways and means in dealing with these problems.
  • Malaysia like Indonesia originally favoured a security architecture that recognized China’s major role but after the spate of maritime incidents, it has moved along with the Philippines towards a multilateral code of conduct approach with the involvement of countries like the US and Japan.
  • Singapore and Thailand are trying to work out arrangements which would favour the continuity of trade with China but also enable them to be linked to a security umbrella under the US.
  • South Korea appears to be moving closer to China both in terms of trade and also because it believes that China can control North Korea. However, in case a major conflict breaks out, it might still look to the US to guarantee security.
  • Given this large variation in interests, it appears unlikely that a grand alliance against China can materialize, even under US leadership. However new security arrangements between countries with similar interests that may include other major powers are already beginning to emerge. This may be the trend for the next few years.
India
  • India does not have a clearly articulated strategy for dealing with developments in the Asia Pacific region including the rise of China. The articulation of such a strategy that includes both hard and soft power components came out as the top Indian priority.
  • Though Indian and US interests are increasingly aligned against China in many ways, India should not become a formal part of the US rebalance strategy. India should also make sure that it has the capabilities to deal with any problems with China on its own without having to depend on other countries.
  • India should continue to actively engage with China in all areas while continuing to be watchful about Chinese actions and intentions.
  • India needs to be proactive in its approach to the region especially with regard to the maritime domain. It must exploit emerging opportunities to send strong signals to all players, that it will preserve and protect its strategic interests. The absence of a clear ‘Look East’ strategy is currently hampering such efforts.
  • In spite of the many problems within ASEAN, India should continue to engage actively and constructively with it.
  • Apart from strengthening bilateral ties with countries like Russia India also needs to look at trilateral agreements with the countries to strengthen its strategic position.

 

Conducting Academic and Policy Research related to National and International Security Issues
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