Category Archives: South Asia

The United States “Pivot to Asia”: It’s NATO way or the highway

Logo for the Chicago 2012 NATO Summit

By Stefano Santamato, Center for Transatlantic Security Studies

The closer we get to the NATO Summit in Chicago, next May 20 and 21, the more European Allies and Atlanticists become worried about the United States “pivot to Asia.”  This is producing a degree of questioning in Europe about US steadfastness that has few if any precedents.

Every speech, every statement, every policy memo by U.S. government officials is finely combed in search of references to NATO or to Europe. As regularly happens on the eve of every major NATO event, the “relevance” debate is dusted off the shelves of transatlantic opinion makers and think tanks. Word counts are run to calculate how many times the Alliance or the Old Continent are mentioned in US official documents and in the US media as if the sheer articulation of these names would equal interest, regard or significance. In doing so, however, we confuse relevance with visibility, substance with narrative, demonstrating an Atlanto-centric vision of the strategic environment that is no more.

To begin with, let us be clear on the difference between policy and slogans. While “pivot to Asia” is an effective and evocative catchphrase, it is not accurate in describing the evolution of the United States defense policy. The Strategic Guidance Review unveiled last January specifically refers to the necessity to “re-balance” towards the Asia-Pacific region. Webster dictionary’s definition of (re)balance is to “arrange so that one set of elements equals another”. Equals, not overtakes or replaces. Coincidentally, NATO is also the only alliance mentioned in a document that refers heavily to working with partners and allies. Hardly a verdict of irrelevance.

Truth to be told, many European Allies are more concerned about the risk of reduced U.S. leadership in NATO than of a reduced U.S. military presence on the Continent, itself now underway. After all, when it comes to wider security issues, the United States still remains the glue that keeps Europeans together. And make no mistake: the President of the United States is doubtless well aware of this fact, and in Chicago he will surely reiterate the U.S. commitment to Europe and the importance of NATO in substantive and no uncertain terms.

But Europeans should also realize that what the “pivot to Asia” may mean in terms of Europe’s lost geographical prominence could be more than compensated of in terms of relative weigh in the transatlantic relationship. There are at least four reasons why the United States’ increasing focus on the Asia-Pacific region is an opportunity for Europe to redefine the North Atlantic Alliance on the basis of shared missions and shared responsibilities, without renouncing the transatlantic security bond.

First, between failed North Korean missiles launches and the long-term military growth of China, most of the immediate geo-strategic challenges to the United States are still well-anchored to the arch spanning East Africa through the Middle-East to Central Asia. The only way that the United States can afford to pivot to Asia is to make sure that its European allies remain closer and more engaged than ever in these areas that remain of critical importance to the U.S.

Second, coalition operations in the past twenty years, from Desert Storm to Operation Unified Protector in Libya, demonstrate that the only way the United States and its partners – including from the Middle East and Asia – can operate together, is by following NATO doctrines, procedures, and standards. To move away from this template would be like trying to switch from digital to analog communications. It is always a feasible alternative, but at what cost in terms of efficiency and effectiveness?

Third, in an age of fiscal austerity, NATO’s education, training and exercise facilities and programs have the unique potential for maintaining, improving, and expanding allies’ and partners’ ability to work together, while minimizing or even zeroing new investment costs.

Fourth and possibly most important, Afghanistan teaches us that NATO is the only alliance in modern history that has demonstrated the capability for enduring over ten years of military conflict without falling apart politically – indeed, while and even attracting new partners.

For these and other reasons, NATO and its European members should not worry overmuch about the narrative of the United States’ pivot to Asia. Rather, they should welcome the substance of a strategic shift that will guarantee NATO’s continued relevance for years to come, not because of its geography or its place in the pecking order of U.S. priorities, but because of its ultimate proven value. After all, unless the United States adopts a doctrine of strict isolationism and military unilateralism, meeting its strategic needs indeed means the “NATO way or the highway;” — never mind if the Alliance is not a big topic in speeches or the media. Maybe, in fact, this quiet reality of its critical importance to the United States is exactly what NATO needs.


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US Military’s First Comprehensive Operational Energy Strategy Released

By Richard Andres, PhD; Christine Zaino, Research Assistant;
Kevin Ostlie, Research Assistant

Energy and Environmental Security Policy Program


For the first time, the Department of Defense (DoD) has published a comprehensive strategy for operational energy. Energy for the Warfighter: Operational Energy Strategy, published by the newly established Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs (ASD(OEPP)), was released last month. Initial reactions to the document were mixed: some welcomed the inaugural strategy, while others felt it lacked specific goals and performance measures. The criticisms, however, are misplaced. The strategy is an important and appropriate first step to improving and unifying DoD energy policy. The new strategy sets the stage for OEPP, mandated by Congress in 2009, to harmonize operational energy policy under an ASD-level office and allows greater opportunities for the military to act as a leader and first mover in the advancement of energy efficiency endeavors and technologies.

The Operational Energy Strategy (OES) focuses on operational energy use – “energy used by military forces in execution of their day-to-day missions.” This focus on operations rather than domestic installations is important because the Services—with the notable exception of the Marine Corps—have often placed greater emphasis on installations than operations.  The OES, on the other hand, attempts to “guide the Department of Defense in how to better use energy resources to support the Department’s operational needs and the Nation’s strategic energy security goals.” As the strategy points out, it is important that DoD align its energy policy with its core mission to ensure American security. Suboptimal energy use in the field contributes to vulnerabilities – more than 3000 military personnel were casualties of attacks on supply lines in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007. The volatility of energy prices and global competition for scarce energy resources like petroleum also underscores the need to reduce energy consumption. Operational energy took up 75% of all U.S. military energy used in 2009, making it a crucially important focus in energy planning.

Beyond increasing the Department’s focus on operations, the new strategy also plays an important role in helping to coordinate action across the Services. As the leader and underwriter of global security across “the five domains” – air, land, sea, space and cyberspace – the U.S. military relies on energy to achieve its core mission. Before the creation of OEPP, each branch of the military had established energy visions that were compatible, but rarely synchronized. The OES builds on existing approaches by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps but is unique in that it provides direction across the Department.

In terms of its content, the new Strategy lists “3 Principle Ways” to improve DoD energy policy. These include: “More Fight, Less Fuel,” which addresses reducing energy demand; “More Options, Less Risk,” which focuses on diversifying energy sources; and “More Capability, Less Cost,” which emphasizes that future planning on “force structure, posture and strategy” should be done with energy in mind. These are all compatible with the key points of the military’s energy vision. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps all focus on using energy more effectively in order to serve their national security mission by increasing efficiency and curtailing use when possible to reduce demand, securing access to energy supplies including the development of alternative sources, and looking to the future – “serv[ing] as a model to the nation,” being “resilient to any potential energy future,” inspiring “cultural change,” and “instilling a warrior ethos” that values energy as a weapon of war, respectively.

While the OES has been criticized as too vague, the document should be understood as the first piece in the overall energy plan. As the OEPP’s inaugural strategy issuance, it lays the groundwork necessary for future undertakings of the office. For the past few years, the Services have frequently replicated each other’s work and failed to field promising new technologies—often simply due to a lack of coordination between Services and between domestic institutions and warfighters.  Among other things, the OES will help to optimize energy initiatives across the Services by lowering the chances of duplication of efforts and by highlighting and filling in the gaps that have resulted from stovepiped programs. In addition to providing an overarching direction for DoD energy projects, merging these efforts under the responsibility of OEPP will provide a level of transparency in energy policy that has not been prevalent in DoD culture. The new strategy is a step toward treating energy with the same respect that is given to other tools of war. New energy initiatives across the Services and in the civilian world can be better leveraged under a coordinated energy strategy. Successes like the Marine Corps’ SPACES technology (backpack-portable solar power units that can recharge batteries, lightening a soldier’s load by 10 pounds or more, and reducing the need to resupply) and promising advances like the Navy’s 50/50 bio-fuel/JP-8 blend jet fuels are more likely to be shared and diffused throughout the Department under a unified strategy.

It will be important to see how OEPP builds upon the foundational Operational Energy Strategy with its forthcoming implementation plan. Intended to be released 90 days following the OES, the implementation plan is slated to contain a set of goals with performance measurements and timetables. The OES indicates that the two documents should move forward together to create both short-term and long-term visions for operational energy, while establishing a viable roadmap containing the concrete goals and processes necessary to drive operational energy to the more efficient, diversified, and less costly institution conceptualized by the OES. Hopefully the implementation plan will address the criticisms voiced about the vagueness of the strategy.

The emphasis on long-term goals in the OES is a signal from OEPP that new ways of thinking about energy won’t be institutionalized overnight. The framework presented in the strategy is designed to be incorporated into training and curricula at the senior-level service schools so energy considerations become one of the routine factors of everyday decisions, evidenced under the third theme, which aims to include energy considerations in all future planning and training. General David Petraeus emphasized this approach when he issued a memorandum to the U.S. forces in Afghanistan that encouraged commanders to be mindful of routine energy consumption and ordered them to make “energy-informed” decisions in order to prevent energy consumption from limiting combat capabilities. The OES encourages this kind of attitude from high-level commanders across all Services and operations.

Although it was released months after its initial due date, the timing of the OES’s release may in fact be advantageous. One of the pressing issues facing new Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is how to reduce the budget without reducing the capability and effectiveness of the U.S. military. Both Congress and President Obama have requested that DoD reduce expenditure both immediately and in the long-term, putting Panetta in a challenging situation. Finding more efficient, long-term energy solutions could become a significant factor in the budget equation. Given his energy conscious stances, Panetta is likely to make energy savings a high priority.

The release of the U.S. military’s first comprehensive Operational Energy Strategy will prove a valuable first step to increasing mission effectiveness in both the short and long terms. The forthcoming implementation plan is likely to do more. At the end of the day, what is most critical is that the new OEPP office acts as a coordinating force with and between the services that focuses on minimizing duplication, facilitating diffusion of new technology and techniques to the joint warfighting community and institutionalizing the Services’ successes.  All of this requires a light touch and an emphasis on the long game and the new strategy takes precisely this approach.

Dr. Richard B. Andres is Professor of National Security Strategy at the National War College and Chair of the Energy & Environmental Security Policy Program at National Defense University.

Christine Zaino is a Research Assistant with the Energy & Environmental Security Policy Program at National Defense University. She is currently pursuing her MA in International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.

Kevin Ostlie is a Research Assistant with the Energy & Environmental Security Policy Program at National Defense University. He is currently pursuing his MA in Public Policy, concentrating in International Security and Economic Policy, at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.


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Licensed To Be Killed: The Hidden Cost of War

By Frances Nobes, MA – Research Assistant, Kings College, England.

Contractors have been a constant feature in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both behind the scenes and in headline news. Just mentioning the name Blackwater brings to mind Vin Diesel look-alikes with aviator sunglasses and M-4s. However, these are not the only players on the contracting stage, nor are they an accurate representation of most contractors.

The use of contractors alongside military forces has never been more prolific than in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the Vietnam War, the United States employed contractors at a ratio of one contractor per 55 military personnel. In Iraq that statistic is 1:1, and in Afghanistan it is 1.43:1. According to congressional research service (CRS) reports, there are approximately 27,000 contract personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq providing private security alone, which represents 17% of the Department of Defense’s total contractor workforce of 160,000.

At the height of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, contractor numbers exceeded the military footprint on the ground. The variety of tasks which these contractors fulfill ranges from armed convoy escort, war-gaming, field training Iraqi and Afghan  troops and maintaining sophisticated weapons systems, to truck driving, catering and sanitation services.

Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan have been covered by the media, but it is often their scandals and incompetence that are reported. The tales of contractors killing innocent bystanders, terrorizing the local population and even the shooting of the Iraqi Vice-President’s bodyguard in a drunken brawl are well known. However, the number of contractors who have been killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan has been widely ignored. Perhaps the most memorable report regarding the death of contractors is the image of four Blackwater contractors whose bodies, after being burnt and dismembered, were hanged from a bridge in Fallujah, in 2004. Since this shocking incident, little has been reported regarding the overall number of casualties suffered by contracting firms.

By 2005, private military companies (i.e. those contractors providing direct military assistance to armed forces) had suffered an estimated 175 deaths and 900 wounded in Iraq, which was more than any single U.S. Army division and more than all the other coalition forces combined at that time. It was calculated that in the first two quarters of 2010 alone, contractor deaths represented 53% of all fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, between January and September 2010, more contractors died than U.S. soldiers.

Yet despite these shocking statistics, these figures are barely mentioned in media reports discussing the human cost of war. CRS calculated that in Afghanistan, private security company employees are 2.75 times more likely to be killed in action than uniformed personnel. This statistic rises to 8 times more likely to be killed if one considers private security contractors who provide mobile security services to DOD in Afghanistan. This statistic is both startling and practically unknown beyond the academic and research community.

Perhaps even more stunning than the figures themselves is the lack of certainty which surrounds them. The number of contractors who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan is largely underestimated. Many of these figures do not accurately reflect the number of people killed or injured, but only those which have resulted in insurance claims. Furthermore, these figures do not include subcontractors – i.e. local country nationals or third country nationals hired by contractors to conduct objectives within contracts. The U.S. Department of Defense has little to no transparency in this regard, and if these casualties were taken into account, the figures would be considerably higher than those stated here.

Unsurprisingly, private contractor firms are anxious not to disclose the number of employees who have been injured or killed on the job, and thus gathering reliable and accurate data is difficult at best. Furthermore, Peter Singer, author of the work Corporate Warriors, claims that the precise number of casualties is unavailable as “the Pentagon does not track nonmilitary casualties.”

As more members of the armed forces are killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the public awareness of their sacrifice increases. Soldiers are honored in death and praised for their bravery and selflessness, as they should be. Contractors, however, have no such ceremony attached to their demise.

All of this leads to one conclusion, contractor casualties are being ignored by the public and, more disturbingly, by the government. Which leaves us with one final, haunting question: at what point did it become acceptable for a country, which spreads the doctrine of democracy and freedom, to lose interest in who is dying for those rights?


Frances is a Research Assistant with the Center for Strategic Research at INSS, and also working as an intelligence analyst at the Sicuro Group. She is currently finishing her Masters in Intelligence and International Security at King’s College London. Her thesis is on the use of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also holds a Masters with Honors in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews. She has previously worked for the Governor of Maryland, at the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, and on the SAILS project.


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What Drives Iran?

By Judith Yaphe, PhD


For the United States, any consideration of Persian Gulf security must begin with Iran: its ambitions, perceptions, and behavior. For many in the West, Winston Churchill’s famous quip about the Soviet Union—being a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma—could apply equally well to Iran given its complex, opaque, and often turbulent politics. And yet the key to understanding Iran is to figure out what it sees when it looks in the mirror. What are the fundamental influences that shape Iran’s view of its role in the world?

The first, clearly, is Iranian nationalism. It is a means of unifying society while assuring territorial integrity and political power. The second is Islam, which is the country’s source of faith and ethical code. The third is Persia as the basis of its historical identity and cultural pride. Taken together, these factors and the aspirations they embody—to secure Iran’s territorial and political integrity while gaining acceptance of the regime’s legitimacy and the country’s status in international relationships more generally—are deeply rooted in Iranian society. But there is also a fourth, latter-day imperative that wields great influence over Iranian attitudes: the quest for strategic self-sufficiency.

Everywhere they look, Iran’s leaders see their country encircled by real and potential enemies—by Iraq, which used chemical weapons and missiles against Iran in their 8-year war; by the Gulf Arab states, which financed the Iraq War, host the U.S. military presence, and are seen as repressing their Shia communities; by Pakistan, which is occasionally involved in hostile skirmishes with Iran on their common border and has encouraged anti-Iranian activity in Afghanistan; and by Central Asia, once pro-Soviet, now a source of economic opportunity, sectarian risk, and host to U.S. military forces. Above all, the United States, a virtual neighbor since the occupation of Iraq in April 2003, and Israel are viewed as enemies: both threaten Iran’s nuclear achievements and deplore its efforts to derail any peace process between Israel and the Palestinians or Israel and Syria. Washington, in particular, is seen as keen to keep the Persian Gulf as its militarized zone, maintain pro-U.S. regimes in Baghdad and Kabul, and marginalize Iran.

Iran’s leaders—whether moderate Persian nationalists or conservative Islamists—view the world with a mix of confidence and trepidation. Regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum, they most likely share a common view of the threats to the homeland and the measures necessary to protect Iranian interests. This consensus also includes a strong, underlying sense that they may well have to fight alone, again—just as they did from 1980 to 1988—and that Iran must be able absolutely to defend itself without assistance. Thus, Tehran aspires to independence and self-sufficiency in both strategic and operational terms. It believes that it must build its own military industries, reconstitute a modern military force, and have minimal reliance upon foreign suppliers. It also seeks to acquire nuclear technology and, eventually, the wherewithal to produce nuclear weapons, probably as a cost-effective way to compensate for military weakness and relative strategic isolation.

The predicament that all this poses for Iran’s neighbors and the larger international community is not only how military self-sufficiency is defined by Tehran, but also how this self-sufficiency impulse plays into an already strong sense of Iranian exceptionalism—specifically, that the country is endowed with the natural right and historic destiny to dominate the greater Middle East as well as to lead the world’s Muslims.

Iran’s ambitions to be the preeminent power in its neighborhood are longstanding. The quest for regional hegemony began under the shahs and has been continued by the clerics of the Islamic Republic. Iranian foreign policy has always been designed to protect a nation and an empire that were long coveted by more powerful neighbors—Ottoman Turkey and tsarist Russia—and divided into spheres of influence by the great powers of the 20th century—the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the United States. Viewed through this historical prism, these ambitions have little to do with exporting its Islamic revolution or expanding its borders, although occasional reminders to the Gulf Arabs of the Shia and Persian-origin communities within their borders prompt those Sunni Arab–led states to recall their vulnerability.

Iran assumes it is by right the preeminent power in the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East region. It has the largest population, largest land mass, largest military, and oldest culture and civilization. It believes it is the economic engine of the region and the most innovative in application of science and technology. In the Iranian worldview, that “region” is more than the Gulf or Central Asia. It extends from Afghanistan through the Gulf, Iraq, Turkey, and the greater Middle East (especially anything affecting Syria, Lebanon, Palestinians, and Israel). As the preeminent power, Tehran expects to be consulted on all issues affecting the region, in much the same sense that Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad interpreted his and Syria’s role. Iran believes that all the roads to a U.S. exit strategy from Iraq, to a peace settlement in the Arab-Israeli context, and to stability in the Gulf run through Tehran. Without Iran, according to this view, the country’s leaders believe, there can be no peace, no resolution of conflict, and no “justice.”

Iran wants to expand its influence and authority in the region, but it is not interested in territorial expansion. Rather, it seeks to build its clout through a policy of aggressive outreach short of war—by building and backing support networks throughout the region; providing political support and economic assistance to key actors; bolstering trade and commercial ties with neighboring countries; and signing security and defense agreements. In implementing its policies, Iran operates on two intertwined principles that underwrite its ability to build networks of surrogates, intimidate opponents and critics, influence governments, and make foreign policy: the first of these is plausible deniability, and the second is deliberate ambiguity.

This post is an excerpt from Strategic Forum No. 237, “Challenges to Persian Gulf Security: How Should the United States Respond?”

The document in its entirety may be found here.

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Push for Democracy in the Middle East: Observations from Latin America?

By Alexandra Kerr and Wallace-Joseph Salvador, Research Interns
Western Hemisphere Studies, Center for Strategic Research


Two oppressive administrations have fallen and various other regimes throughout the Middle East face a massive public outcry for resignation. If this trend persists, the political landscape of one of the world’s traditional hotspots may be redefined. This is not the first time a region of the world has undergone social uprising after years of oppression and pushed for citizen empowerment through democratic reforms; Latin America is one such region.

Many societies in our hemisphere were once under authoritarian rule and are now governed by democratically elected leaders. This shift away from authoritarianism in Latin America, which began in the late 1970s and continued until 1990 with the fall of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, is comparable to what we are presently seeing in the Middle East. There are similarities between the aforementioned changes in these two regions that should be explored to help the United States better address present circumstances. Five observations from the Latin American experience are outlined below.

First, it is imperative for the United States to recognize that it cannot treat the Middle East in the same way that it treated Latin America during the Cold War. We are operating under different circumstances and what worked then will not work now.  Current events in the Middle East are not a result of democratic promotion as was the case in the Cold War era; instead, the general public arrived at their own consensus for self-empowerment. For this reason, the United States must approach these states as peers and emphasize that Washington wants to support their democratic initiatives, not dictate what we believe are the next appropriate steps as this will foster resentment because other countries may see it as an affront to their dignity and sovereignty.

Second, a pivotal aspect of ensuring democratic success in a post-authoritarian state is the functionality of social, economic, security, judicial and other institutions. The United States has learned from Latin America that it is more effective to focus on strengthening the capabilities of current government institutions rather than to create entirely new ones. Our interaction has the potential to do more harm than good, so the United States must recognize that democracy functions differently in every region of the world. For example, the judicial system is one of the foundations of democracy and an institution that often proves resistant to change. Judicial systems are influenced by local culture and society and, therefore, will not readily adopt Western approaches to jurisprudence. A complete overhaul of the judiciary would be ineffectual and because rapid reform is not realistic, gradual strategic reform to the existing system would prove much more effective. As current conditions in Latin America have shown, judicial systems are the weakest link in democratic institutions. Therefore, even 30 years after the region’s transition to democracy, policymakers must give greater attention and resources in order to truly strengthen the rule of law and judicial capabilities to achieve fully consolidated democracies.

Third, the United States should encourage that amnesty be granted for a period of time to the military leaders of the Middle East, as it was in Latin America, so that authoritarian regimes will be more likely to relinquish power. The goal is justice, not vengeance and the former comes in time.

Fourth, even decades after authoritarian rule in Latin America has ended, the general public has harbored a distrust of the military. In order to dispel this distrust and stop it from becoming in a problem in the Middle East there must be increased civilian involvement in national security matters and integration of the military into society. Soldiers are citizens too and it is vital that the public be reminded of this.

Fifth, the United States should not exaggerate the benefits of elections as we did in Latin America. Holding elections will not fix all of the country’s problems. However, it does provide citizens with the ability to hold elected officials accountable. 

This is an opportunity for the United States to take what it has learned in Latin America and approach newly democratizing nations in the Middle East in a more informed and effective way. The United States should support these movements for democratization as they find their way ahead. However, there should be no mistake; we cannot do this for them. It is central that the United States recognize that there are limits on what we can do.  The Cold War-era has ended and our foreign policy should change accordingly; we can no longer force state-actors to do as we wish. The United States needs to approach these transitional regimes as equals – supporting them will be more conducive to shaping a positive outcome in the region than preaching to them and criticizing their efforts.

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A New Twist on India’s ‘Cold Start’?

By Adelia Saunders, Research Intern, Center for Strategic Research


Is the Indian army’s new long-range plan, including a “mountain strike corps” along the Chinese border, simply an attempt to increase its offensive capabilities in disputed frontier areas? Or is it the revitalization of the controversial “Cold Start” doctrine?

In January 2011 Indian Army Chief V. K. Singh announced a new Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) for 2012-27 that would enhance the offensive capabilities of Indian forces deployed along the border with China. A new “mountain strike corps” would allow India to more rapidly counter Chinese incursions into disputed areas, part of  an ambitious plan to transform the Indian army into a more offensively-oriented “lethal, agile and networked force.” This announcement came just months after Singh assured reporters that India had abandoned “Cold Start”—a controversial military doctrine intended to give India the option of a rapid conventional strike in response to an attack by Pakistan or its proxies. Yet despite the LTIPP’s clear focus on China, the plan includes what Pakistan sees as some of the most provocative tenets of “Cold Start,” – and its impact on the region could be similarly destabilizing.

The Indian Army’s desire for a “Cold Start” capability dates back to the December 2001 terrorist attacks on India’s Parliament. India blamed the attacks on Pakistan-backed militants, and attempted a military response. But it took weeks move offensive forces from bases in the center of the country to the Pakistani border. In the meantime, the United States intervened with a diplomatic resolution that left many within India’s military establishment profoundly dissatisfied. With a “Cold Start” doctrine in place, Indian strategists argued, their forces would be able to quickly mount a punishing but limited invasion of Pakistani territory in a future crisis.

Unveiled in 2004, “Cold Start” was designed to allow three to five light “integrated battle groups” to launch a limited penetration of Pakistani territory within 72-96 hours of an attack. The doctrine has been blocked by internal political and logistical challenges and has never been implemented. It has also been a point of concern for U.S. officials, who’ve been buffeted by complaints from the Pakistani military, which sees “Cold Start” as a sign of aggressive Indian intent and a major reason why Pakistan’s armed forces cannot shift in greater mass from the Indian border to fight insurgents along the border with Afghanistan. In September, Indian Army Chief Singh formally denied the existence of “Cold Start.”

But Singh’s subsequent January announcement of the LTIPP seems to suggest that the spirit of family:Times New Roman;”“Cold Start” has survived the doctrine’s official repudiation. Like “Cold Start,” the LTIPP would require a dramatic overhaul of India’s military infrastructure to allow for rapid mobilization. This implies a significant reorientation of Indian military strategy from defense to limited offense. Presumably, the new mountain strike corps could be used to punish foreign aggression but not provoke nuclear escalation—a key assumption underpinning the “Cold Start” doctrine.

In a departure from “Cold Start’s” specific focus on Pakistan, Indian military officials say their new offensive capabilities would be directed at China. However, an important component of the LTIPP would allow India to quickly transfer troops and equipment from one mountain war zone to another, making it possible for India to fight both historical adversaries simultaneously. As a result, any increase in offensive capability along the Chinese border has implications for Indo-Pakistani stability.

So, while India’s Pakistan-centered “Cold Start” doctrine may have been shelved, the LTIPP’s emphasis on taking the fight to India’s adversaries will likely exacerbate an Indo-Pakistani security dilemma, just as “Cold Start” did. China’s reaction to news that India is bolstering attack forces along its border could also lead to a greater military build-up on the Chinese side, feeding into a regional arms race, adding incentives for nuclear proliferation, and increasing the chances of armed conflict. As India rises, its more agile military stance is not unnatural or unexpected—but it seems likely to have a destabilizing effect on a region already primed for conflict.

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