Saturday, June 11, 2011

US' National Military Strategy 2011

I should have got this post earlier ... better late than never. The US released its National Military Strategy (NMS) on February 08, 2011. The document, released by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an update in seven years, has a lot of focus on Asia. This is no surprise given that this century is acknowledged as the Asian century. Asia is also at the centre for a variety of reasons -- economic growth, terrorism, proliferation of dangerous technologies or resource crunch or climate change woes.

Looking at Asia, detailed assessments and strategies are provided particularly for the war against terror in Afghanistan, the ongoing war in Iraq and China.

Asia has clearly overtaken Europe as the US priority area. The NMS states, "The Nation’s strategic priorities and interests will increasingly emanate from the Asia-Pacific region. The region's share of global wealth is growing, enabling increased military capabilities. This is causing the region’s security architecture to change rapidly, creating new challenges and opportunities for our national security and leadership. Though still underpinned by the US bilateral alliance system, Asia's security architecture is becoming a more complex mix of formal and informal multilateral relationships and expanded bilateral security ties among states."

The challenges faced in the domain of global commons -- air, sea, cyberspace -- is another area that has been paid sufficient attention in the NMS. It states, "Assured access to and freedom of maneuver within the global commons – shared areas of sea, air, and space – and globally connected domains such as cyberspace are being increasingly challenged by both state and non-state actors. States are developing anti-access and area-denial capabilities and strategies to constrain US and international freedom of action. These states are rapidly acquiring technologies, such as missiles and autonomous and remotely-piloted platforms that challenge our ability to project power from the global commons and increase our operational risk. Meanwhile, enabling and war-fighting domains of space and cyberspace are simultaneously more critical for our operations, yet more vulnerable to malicious actions. The space environment is becoming more congested, contested, and competitive. Some states are conducting or condoning cyber intrusions that foreshadow the growing threat in this globally connected domain." At the other end of it, "Non-state actors such as criminal organizations, traffickers, and terrorist groups find a nexus of interests in exploiting the commons."

As for the war against terror in Afghanistan, the NMS states, "The Nation’s strategic objective in this campaign is to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaida and its affiliates in Afghanistan and Pakistan and prevent their return to either country. Success requires the Joint Force to closely work with NATO, our coalition partners, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. We will continue to erode Taliban influence, work with the Afghan government to facilitate reintegration and reconciliation of former insurgents, continue to strengthen the capacity of Afghan security forces, and enable Pakistan to ultimately defeat al Qaida and its extremist allies." The document also notes that "The threat of violent extremism is not limited to South Central Asia. Groups such as Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Shabaab, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and others emanate from Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere around the globe. Terrorists’ abilities to remotely plan and coordinate attacks is growing, sometimes facilitated by global illicit trafficking routes, extending their operational reach while rendering targeting of their sanctuaries more difficult."

The NMS also notes while military strategy can be decisive, there has to be long-term viable strategies wherein "Military power complements economic development, governance, and rule of law – the true bedrocks of counterterrorism efforts. In the long run, violent ideologies are ultimately discredited and defeated when a secure population chooses to reject extremism and violence in favor of more peaceful pursuits."

On China, the NMS states the US objectives thus: "Our Nation seeks a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship with China that welcomes it to take on a responsible leadership role. To support this, the Joint Force seeks a deeper military-to-military relationship with China to expand areas of mutual interest and benefit, improve understanding, reduce misperception, and prevent miscalculation. We will promote common interests through China’s cooperation in countering piracy and proliferation of WMD, and using its influence with North Korea to preserve stability on the Korean peninsula." Having said that, there are issues of concern such as the military modernisation and some of the evolving strategies which are not conducive for a stable Asia. The NMS details to say, "We will continue to monitor carefully China’s military developments and the implications those developments have on the military balance in the Taiwan Strait. We remain concerned about the extent and strategic intent of China’s military modernization, and its assertiveness in space, cyberspace, in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea. To safeguard U.S. and partner nation interests, we will be prepared to demonstrate the will and commit the resources needed to oppose any nation’s actions that jeopardize access to and use of the global commons and cyberspace, or that threaten the security of our allies."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Move away from seeking technological solutions to geopolitical issues

Here's the link to the ORF report on the recent Nuclear Dialogue in Beijing, where I had a paper on Missile Defence & Strategic Stability.

Noting that one of the emerging issues in Asian security is missile defence and its impact on nuclear deterrence and strategic stability, Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan has suggested that States should move away from the trend of seeking technological solutions to geopolitical issues in order to strengthen regional stability.

Anyone interested in the full paper, I will be happy to mail you separately. For the full report, click here.

"Technologies and weapon systems can inadvertently contribute to accidents and misperceptions and thereby lead to unintended crises," Dr. Rajagopalan said in a paper
titled "Missile Defence and Strategic Stability" presented at an international conference on ’China and India Nuclear Doctrine and Dynamics’, organised by the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing on June 2 & 3.

Dr. Rajagopalan, a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, also suggested establishing certain ground rules in the area of missile defence that will help in reining the regional BMD programmes.

Dr. Rajagopalan said missile defence systems are not very effective. "There are serious limitations to how effectively BMD can protect its cities. For instance, in the case of India, BMD provide limited protection - to a few target locations. Protection against multiple missile attacks is something that India is still grappling with."

She said while "India’s BMD programme has been by and large an indigenous effort, there has been some foreign collaboration. More importantly, a potential collaboration between India and the US /Israel can fuel suspicion in the region contributing to the insecurity and instability dynamics in the region. China and Pakistan may not take kindly to such developments.

"China could potentially strengthen their nuclear, ICBM programmes, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, adding to the security-insecurity dilemma in the region. A strengthened China-Pakistan strengthened partnership could be a direct fall-out of this," Dr. Rajagopalan said in the paper, noting that analysts have cautioned that an Indian missile defence system would lead to China and Pakistan augmenting "their missile strike capabilities to maintain the strategic deterrence."

She said that in fact, an ineffective system or a system that is not fully developed will worsen and increases India’s vulnerabilities than strengthen its security.

Dr. Rajagopalan cautioned that a potential arms race in Asia is well within the realm of possibilities. "An Indian reaction to the Chinese test will touch off a response in Pakistan and a potential collaboration between China and Pakistan on nuclear, missile, and space matters is something that is likely to intensify the regional competition significantly. One has to look into the history to understand the China-Pakistan nuclear and missile cooperation. Outer space is the new domain for cooperation. China has agreed to strengthen their work on Pakistan’s satellite, which is currently being built in China, to be launched into orbit on August 14, 2011."

This conference was the second meeting wherein the Chinese were engaged in a bilateral with India on the nuclear subject. The first dialogue was organised by S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, earlier this year.