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Why India’s Latest Defence Agreement with the United States May Prove a Costly Bargain

undercover JIX

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Why India’s Latest Defence Agreement with the United States May Prove a Costly Bargain
The Modi government has simply not given thought to the implications signing BECA will have on war-preparedness at a time when external threats have multiplied.
Why India’s Latest Defence Agreement with the United States May Prove a Costly Bargain

External affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar and Defence minister Rajnath Singh with US counterparts, the secretaries of state and defense, Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper. Photo: Twitter/@MEAIndia .
Pravin Sawhney

Pravin Sawhney





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By signing the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), India has potentially mortgaged the digitised military capability of its three services – army, air force and navy – to the United States. If this sounds startling, it is.

Working in tandem with the Communication, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) signed in 2018, BECA too is much more than just “developing inter-operability” – i.e. the ability to fight together against a common enemy – as background briefings and media reports based on those briefings are fond of saying. As if that were not bad enough, through the twin-routes of datasets (given under BECA) and systems (given under COMCASA), India’s indigenous kill-chains (sensor-to-shooter networks working through a command centre) would potentially be under US control through its massive cyber capabilities.

What prompted the Modi government to take this mindlessly suicidal extreme step, considering India is neither a US military ally nor has it received any commitment that the US military would fight its wars? Tanvi Madan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, suggests the answer. On the eve of the BECA signing, she tweeted, “Arguably without Doklam and Ladakh crisis, India would not have got to yes on COMCASA or reportedly BECA.”
Ladakh India-China tensions Indian Air Force

An Indian Air Force’s Apache helicopter is seen in the Ladakh region, September 17, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui


The reality is India has cut off its nose to spite the Chinese by flaunting untested strategic ties with the US, in the hope that US geospatial intelligence and real-time images datasets would help the accuracy of India’s long range firepower comprising its cruise missiles, multi barrel rocket systems and probably the Russian S-400 air defence missile system once its joins the inventory.

By signing the ‘India-specific’ COMCASA, India was given highly encrypted classified security equipment, and by signing BECA, the US would share its military Geographic Information System (GIS) comprising topography, terrain and weather information for mission planning. India would also get US satellite imagery (data and video), GPS military resolutions and datasets from its airborne assets.


The huge volume of US datasets from diverse sensors would come to Indian command centres through the special COMCASA equipment. Since good quality, real-time datasets are the new ammunition of digitised warfare, this can be platformed quickly (perhaps using US-assisted Artificial Intelligence) to both the armed drones being procured from the US as well as other weapon platforms with the three services for precise stand-off firepower.

On the face of it, this would be great. But deep down, India has created space for the US to exercise widespread malafide activities on the cyber front, should it so decide. Malicious cyber activities do not happen only through cyberspace, but through systems too. These include computer software, embedded processors, routers, all wired and wireless transmission, controllers and so on. While systems are accessed through cyberspace, there are other paths that cyber warriors can use to introduce egregious errors into computer systems without using the internet.


For instance, America’s COMCASA equipment could have embedded cyber logic bombs. These are nano malware (malicious software) codes that start functioning when certain conditions are met, or outside instructions are given after months or even years. They could then start deleting datasets files or corrupt them inducing malfunctions in the kill-chain, leading to missiles going awry if not running amok. To be sure, the best ballistic, cruise or hypersonic missiles in the world depend on the robustness of the kill-chain supporting it. This explains why major power like US, China and Russia pay special attention to having cyber and electronic hardened kill-chains.

Since US (cyber) experts would be authorised COMCASA system users, they could corrupt datasets on command for as long as they want. Or there could be dataset poisoning; it could be falsified or corrupted. The US could even overwrite Indian short-range, point to point radio frequency connections by long-range high-powered signals from beyond physical parameters. Moreover, the US has developed impressive nano weapons capable of transiting through cyberspace to disrupt or destroy physical infrastructure.

A case is point is the world’s first known cyberweapon with nanotechnology – the Stuxnet computer worm used to attack Iran’s nuclear programme in 2010. The US was suspected to be behind this weapon, which linked the cyber domain with the physical one. The US has numerous cyber weapons, techniques and capabilities, including installing information mines, information reconnaissance, changing network data, dumping information garbage, disseminating propaganda, applying information deception, releasing clone information, establishing network spy stations and so on.

A magnifying glass is held in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in Berlin May 21, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski
It is no one’s case that the US is likely to carry out malfeasant cyber activities against India, a country it regards as its strategic ally. However, the important issue is capability and not intention. By signing COMCASA and BECA, the Modi government has given the US entry into the Indian military’s growing digitised space, something no nation other than a US military ally – all of whom have excellent indigenous cyber capabilities – would do.

The problems regarding interoperability would be no less. Given the centrality of data, the then US chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, General Martin Dempsey suggested in 2010 that the US Air Force should now use a ‘data to decision’ cycle rather than the traditional ‘sensor to shooter’ cycle that it does with its military allies through the Link-16 network. So, what is underway is the introduction of tactical cloud architecture to replace Link-16. Of 1970s vintage, Link-16 has limited bandwidth which can do only voice transmission, is complex to plan for each mission, has high latency and suffers from cyber and electronic vulnerabilities. Allied militaries – all of which have signed BECA and CISMOA (Communication, interoperability and security memorandum agreement, equivalent of the India-specific COMCASA) – which use the tactical cloud are thus tied in to fighting a common enemy.

After the signing of these ‘foundational’ military agreements, Indo-US joint exercises are now likely to graduate to advanced and operational manoeuvres from the tactical exercises thus far. The Indian defence forces would be introduced to and trained in new data-centric war concepts under cloud architecture.
So far, so good but the questions which remain unanswered are: What good are these advanced war concepts when the Indian forces would eventually fight with different war concepts, capabilities, and capacities? Will there be two sets of warfighting concepts, one when exercising with the US, and another when India prepares itself to fight with China and Pakistan?

Can India afford to divide its limited high-profile assets, especially in the absence of a vibrant defence industrial complex, to support its warfighting capabilities, on twin-training war concepts that are generations apart?

Has the Modi government even applied itself to the implications of signing BECA and the earlier COMCASA on war-preparedness at a time when external threats have multiplied?

Finally, all this would also not be lost on China and India’s friend, Russia – which still provides the bulk of Indian fighting platforms.

 

Kabira

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By signing the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), India has potentially mortgaged the digitised military capability of its three services – army, air force and navy – to the United States. If this sounds startling, it is.

Working in tandem with the Communication, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) signed in 2018, BECA too is much more than just “developing inter-operability” – i.e. the ability to fight together against a common enemy – as background briefings and media reports based on those briefings are fond of saying. As if that were not bad enough, through the twin-routes of datasets (given under BECA) and systems (given under COMCASA), India’s indigenous kill-chains (sensor-to-shooter networks working through a command centre) would potentially be under US control through its massive cyber capabilities.

What prompted the Modi government to take this mindlessly suicidal extreme step, considering India is neither a US military ally nor has it received any commitment that the US military would fight its wars? Tanvi Madan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, suggests the answer. On the eve of the BECA signing, she tweeted, “Arguably without Doklam and Ladakh crisis, India would not have got to yes on COMCASA or reportedly BECA.”

Ladakh India-China tensions Indian Air Force

An Indian Air Force’s Apache helicopter is seen in the Ladakh region, September 17, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui
The reality is India has cut off its nose to spite the Chinese by flaunting untested strategic ties with the US, in the hope that US geospatial intelligence and real-time images datasets would help the accuracy of India’s long range firepower comprising its cruise missiles, multi barrel rocket systems and probably the Russian S-400 air defence missile system once its joins the inventory.

By signing the ‘India-specific’ COMCASA, India was given highly encrypted classified security equipment, and by signing BECA, the US would share its military Geographic Information System (GIS) comprising topography, terrain and weather information for mission planning. India would also get US satellite imagery (data and video), GPS military resolutions and datasets from its airborne assets.

The huge volume of US datasets from diverse sensors would come to Indian command centres through the special COMCASA equipment. Since good quality, real-time datasets are the new ammunition of digitised warfare, this can be platformed quickly (perhaps using US-assisted Artificial Intelligence) to both the armed drones being procured from the US as well as other weapon platforms with the three services for precise stand-off firepower.

On the face of it, this would be great. But deep down, India has created space for the US to exercise widespread malafide activities on the cyber front, should it so decide. Malicious cyber activities do not happen only through cyberspace, but through systems too. These include computer software, embedded processors, routers, all wired and wireless transmission, controllers and so on. While systems are accessed through cyberspace, there are other paths that cyber warriors can use to introduce egregious errors into computer systems without using the internet.

Also read: Like Modi, Trump’s Plan to Count Citizens Raised Fears of Data Misuse

For instance, America’s COMCASA equipment could have embedded cyber logic bombs. These are nano malware (malicious software) codes that start functioning when certain conditions are met, or outside instructions are given after months or even years. They could then start deleting datasets files or corrupt them inducing malfunctions in the kill-chain, leading to missiles going awry if not running amok. To be sure, the best ballistic, cruise or hypersonic missiles in the world depend on the robustness of the kill-chain supporting it. This explains why major power like US, China and Russia pay special attention to having cyber and electronic hardened kill-chains.

Since US (cyber) experts would be authorised COMCASA system users, they could corrupt datasets on command for as long as they want. Or there could be dataset poisoning; it could be falsified or corrupted. The US could even overwrite Indian short-range, point to point radio frequency connections by long-range high-powered signals from beyond physical parameters. Moreover, the US has developed impressive nano weapons capable of transiting through cyberspace to disrupt or destroy physical infrastructure.

A case is point is the world’s first known cyberweapon with nanotechnology – the Stuxnet computer worm used to attack Iran’s nuclear programme in 2010. The US was suspected to be behind this weapon, which linked the cyber domain with the physical one. The US has numerous cyber weapons, techniques and capabilities, including installing information mines, information reconnaissance, changing network data, dumping information garbage, disseminating propaganda, applying information deception, releasing clone information, establishing network spy stations and so on.


A magnifying glass is held in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in Berlin May 21, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski
It is no one’s case that the US is likely to carry out malfeasant cyber activities against India, a country it regards as its strategic ally. However, the important issue is capability and not intention. By signing COMCASA and BECA, the Modi government has given the US entry into the Indian military’s growing digitised space, something no nation other than a US military ally – all of whom have excellent indigenous cyber capabilities – would do.

The problems regarding interoperability would be no less. Given the centrality of data, the then US chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, General Martin Dempsey suggested in 2010 that the US Air Force should now use a ‘data to decision’ cycle rather than the traditional ‘sensor to shooter’ cycle that it does with its military allies through the Link-16 network. So, what is underway is the introduction of tactical cloud architecture to replace Link-16. Of 1970s vintage, Link-16 has limited bandwidth which can do only voice transmission, is complex to plan for each mission, has high latency and suffers from cyber and electronic vulnerabilities. Allied militaries – all of which have signed BECA and CISMOA (Communication, interoperability and security memorandum agreement, equivalent of the India-specific COMCASA) – which use the tactical cloud are thus tied in to fighting a common enemy.

After the signing of these ‘foundational’ military agreements, Indo-US joint exercises are now likely to graduate to advanced and operational manoeuvres from the tactical exercises thus far. The Indian defence forces would be introduced to and trained in new data-centric war concepts under cloud architecture.

So far, so good but the questions which remain unanswered are: What good are these advanced war concepts when the Indian forces would eventually fight with different war concepts, capabilities, and capacities? Will there be two sets of warfighting concepts, one when exercising with the US, and another when India prepares itself to fight with China and Pakistan?

Can India afford to divide its limited high-profile assets, especially in the absence of a vibrant defence industrial complex, to support its warfighting capabilities, on twin-training war concepts that are generations apart?

Has the Modi government even applied itself to the implications of signing BECA and the earlier COMCASA on war-preparedness at a time when external threats have multiplied?

Finally, all this would also not be lost on China and India’s friend, Russia – which still provides the bulk of Indian fighting platforms.

Pravin Sawhney is editor of FORCE newsmagazine.

 

FOOLS_NIGHTMARE

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FEARS of open conflict in Asia have surged after the United States and India signed a new defence agreement that analysts claim is aimed at China.
Under the deal the two powers have agreed to share military intelligence and increase cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Relations between Beijing and both Washington and New Delhi have deteriorated sharply over the past few years.

As a result India, which traditionally avoided regional alliances, has been moving closer to the US.

In June 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops across the two countries contested border.The deal was agreed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who has been touring the region together with Defence Secretary Mark Esper.In total the two men will visit four countries in what Mr Pompeo said was a mission focused on the “threats” from China.


In response to the deal Mr Pompeo said: “Our leaders and our citizens see with increasing clarity that the CCP is no friend to democracy, the rule of law, transparency, nor to freedom of navigation, the foundation of a free and open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”
The CCP refers to the Chinese Communist Party which has ruled China as a dictatorship since winning a civil war in 1949.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Indian foreign minister, described its warming relationship with the United States as “exceptionally positive”.
The agreement was also welcomed by Mr Esper who made clear it is aimed at containing China.

He said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, particularly in light of increasing aggression and destabilizing activities by China.”

However, Beijing reacted angrily to the new accord accusing the US of dividing the region.
Speaking of Mike Pompeo, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, commented: “We urge him to abandon the Cold War and the zero-sum game mentality and stop sowing discord between China and regional countries as well as undermining the regional peace and stability.”

The deal signed on Tuesday had been under negotiation between the US and India for just under a decade.
However New Delhi had previously been reluctant to sign for fear of antagonising China.

Harsh Pant, director of studies at the New Delhi Observer Research Foundation, said India is looking to build alliances in response to growing Chinese assertiveness.
Speaking to Voice of America he said: “India has been very cautious in the past, but it is now taking a more categorical position.

“Basically, as China challenges India on its borders, New Delhi is now out in the open about aligning its priorities with the US and like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific.”
Mr Pant insisted the strengthened relationship will endure regardless of who wins next week’s presidential election.
He argued: “No one is questioning why this conversation is happening at this time because India is one area where there is perhaps more consensus between the two US presidential candidates than anywhere else.

“There is bipartisan support in Washington for strengthening ties with India.”

Mr Pompeo will go on to visit Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia on his Asian tour.

June’s border clash took place in the Galwan Valley along the disputed Indian-Chinese border.
As well as the Indian fatalities there were reports of Chinese casualties but Beijing has not publicly released the figure.

 

kankan326

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Indians hope the military pact with US would make India to repeat successes of European countries, Japan and S.Korea. Not possible cause things are different.

1)Back to 1940-1950, US was the world factory, biggest market and creditor. It dominated world economy. US was also a free trade supporter back then. Soviet Union however was a fake super power with feet of clay.

Today China is the world factory, biggest market, one of biggest creditors and free trade supporter. US still has some top notch industries(which unfortunately will never be transferred India) but overall is declining. US is the biggest debtor and Wall Street gambling center. US is also an enemy of free trade. In a word, US can not help India as much as it used to. Most investments from US will be financial investments(US itself wants factories back).

2) The pact itself is destructive. Soviet Union wanted to expand its power to all world. The hot spot areas in the Cold War were all outside its territory. Berlin, Eastern Europe, Cuba, Afghanistan etc. Military pacts signed by western countries in Cold War were all for defensive purpose. Only defensive pact will benefit each other. China is not Soviet Union. China is a peaceful country that hasn't shot one bullet to any country for 30 years. All hot spots related to China are border or water territory disputes. The new military pact with US is obviously aggressive one. Which will do more harm than good to US allies. What US wants is containing China by encouraging its allies to provoke China.

3) The pact will turn a soft and self-restraint China into a tough and hostile enemy of India. Which will end India’s prosperity. As I said China hasn’t shot one bullet in the last 30 years. Which is China’s fast economic growth period. China tried to avoid conflict with any country to make sure the economic growth not to be interrupted. India wants to gain economic aid from US at the cost of creating a big enemy. Not a good business.
 

hussain0216

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U.S wanted a puppet and lackey

And now it's got the biggest lackey of all in India

I think India managed to resist for a long time, but with China looming over it, it's been panicked into a relationship with the U.S that could be beneficial in some ways but ultimately always always ends up with what the U.S wants
 

Globenim

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It's truly the sign of a crumbling empire. Rather than with overconfidence we have to get used to more desperate moves to stall and survive.
 

obj 705A

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express.co is not a good news source, their titles are always so hyperbolic just to gain clicks. even if a politician just farts they will say "Trump has farted.. WWIII incoming".
 

Capt. Karnage

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FEARS of open conflict in Asia have surged after the United States and India signed a new defence agreement that analysts claim is aimed at China.
Under the deal the two powers have agreed to share military intelligence and increase cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Relations between Beijing and both Washington and New Delhi have deteriorated sharply over the past few years.

As a result India, which traditionally avoided regional alliances, has been moving closer to the US.

In June 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops across the two countries contested border.The deal was agreed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who has been touring the region together with Defence Secretary Mark Esper.In total the two men will visit four countries in what Mr Pompeo said was a mission focused on the “threats” from China.


In response to the deal Mr Pompeo said: “Our leaders and our citizens see with increasing clarity that the CCP is no friend to democracy, the rule of law, transparency, nor to freedom of navigation, the foundation of a free and open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”
The CCP refers to the Chinese Communist Party which has ruled China as a dictatorship since winning a civil war in 1949.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Indian foreign minister, described its warming relationship with the United States as “exceptionally positive”.
The agreement was also welcomed by Mr Esper who made clear it is aimed at containing China.

He said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, particularly in light of increasing aggression and destabilizing activities by China.”

However, Beijing reacted angrily to the new accord accusing the US of dividing the region.
Speaking of Mike Pompeo, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, commented: “We urge him to abandon the Cold War and the zero-sum game mentality and stop sowing discord between China and regional countries as well as undermining the regional peace and stability.”

The deal signed on Tuesday had been under negotiation between the US and India for just under a decade.
However New Delhi had previously been reluctant to sign for fear of antagonising China.

Harsh Pant, director of studies at the New Delhi Observer Research Foundation, said India is looking to build alliances in response to growing Chinese assertiveness.
Speaking to Voice of America he said: “India has been very cautious in the past, but it is now taking a more categorical position.

“Basically, as China challenges India on its borders, New Delhi is now out in the open about aligning its priorities with the US and like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific.”
Mr Pant insisted the strengthened relationship will endure regardless of who wins next week’s presidential election.
He argued: “No one is questioning why this conversation is happening at this time because India is one area where there is perhaps more consensus between the two US presidential candidates than anywhere else.

“There is bipartisan support in Washington for strengthening ties with India.”

Mr Pompeo will go on to visit Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia on his Asian tour.

June’s border clash took place in the Galwan Valley along the disputed Indian-Chinese border.
As well as the Indian fatalities there were reports of Chinese casualties but Beijing has not publicly released the figure.

Seriously dude stop spamming, particularly the Indian section.
 

CrazyZ

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BECA should improve India's ability to target in a strike scenario. Its a tacit admission that India is unable to effectively target with its own resources... as seen during the Balakat aggression. Result was an embarrassment with USA having to step in and bail out India.

Best way to retaliate is for a similar Sino-Pak treaty. Latest Chinese Sat resolution is excellent. It would greatly enhance PN's ability to target Indian surface ships in the Indian Ocean.
 

Hakikat ve Hikmet

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Indians hope the military pact with US would make India to repeat successes of European countries, Japan and S.Korea. Not possible cause things are different.

1)Back to 1940-1950, US was the world factory, biggest market and creditor. It dominated world economy. US was also a free trade supporter back then. Soviet Union however was a fake super power with feet of clay.

Today China is the world factory, biggest market, one of biggest creditors and free trade supporter. US still has some top notch industries(which unfortunately will never be transferred India) but overall is declining. US is the biggest debtor and Wall Street gambling center. US is also an enemy of free trade. In a word, US can not help India as much as it used to. Most investments from US will be financial investments(US itself wants factories back).

2) The pact itself is destructive. Soviet Union wanted to expand its power to all world. The hot spot areas in the Cold War were all outside its territory. Berlin, Eastern Europe, Cuba, Afghanistan etc. Military pacts signed by western countries in Cold War were all for defensive purpose. Only defensive pact will benefit each other. China is not Soviet Union. China is a peaceful country that hasn't shot one bullet to any country for 30 years. All hot spots related to China are border or water territory disputes. The new military pact with US is obviously aggressive one. Which will do more harm than good to US allies. What US wants is containing China by encouraging its allies to provoke China.

3) The pact will turn a soft and self-restraint China into a tough and hostile enemy of India. Which will end India’s prosperity. As I said China hasn’t shot one bullet in the last 30 years. Which is China’s fast economic growth period. China tried to avoid conflict with any country to make sure the economic growth not to be interrupted. India wants to gain economic aid from US at the cost of creating a big enemy. Not a good business.
The pact will turn a soft and self-restraint China into a tough and hostile enemy of India.

Pak couldn't have asked more from the Hindutva........
BECA should improve India's ability to target in a strike scenario. Its a tacit admission that India is unable to effectively target with its own resources... as seen during the Balakat aggression. Result was an embarrassment with USA having to step in and bail out India.

Best way to retaliate is for a similar Sino-Pak treaty. Latest Chinese Sat resolution is excellent. It would greatly enhance PN's ability to target Indian surface ships in the Indian Ocean.
IMHO the best is not to make anything public....
 

khansaheeb

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Secretary Pence should be name Secretary dollars or secretary for defense companies or chief money maker of the United states of America or best US salesman of the year. Got to give to them, pentagon and Pence make a great sales and marketing team.
 

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