Sunday, September 16, 2012

India; Naval Interests:


Tiger panthera tigris
Public Domain Image of a Tiger 

 If you've been a reader you know that we are quite frankly fans of the Indian Navy. We think that they are capable, competent, right sized and trust worthy guardians of the Indian ocean. We believe the "Tigers" as we call them may be relied on to both operate within International law and to do everything within their considerable power to enforce the rule of international law in the Indian ocean. 

 We have a healthy respect for the people of India who have launched and support the Indian Navy at considerable expense at a time in their economic development when it would be very tempting to put all revenue in social welfare programs and demand protection from former colonial and global superpowers. That didn't happen, even in the Cold War when India wasn't emerging as the economic power that it is becoming today. Since independence, India has sacrificed to field the armed forces the nation  needs to live on its own terms in a very rough neighborhood. So when a retired Indian Admiral writes, we pay attention. If you have been following us for a while you also know the special trust and respect that we have for the U.S. Naval Institute.  That trust and respect is shared by naval professionals of all ranks in naval services around the world. So when a retired Indian Admiral writes to and in the U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE'S PROCEEDINGS we know that not only is the writer a person worth our attention, but that whatever he has written has drawn the interest of the Institute's editors and editorial board. Of all the competing naval reading material that crosses our desks, the PROCEEDINGS alone always gets careful cover to cover review each month, and then is retained..

 So, when retired Admiral Arun Prakash, Indian Navy had a letter published in the September 2012 PROCEEDINGS that directly addressed a subject that we recently followed in our "NEWS SECTION"  we knew we should  read, and analyze his correspondence.  We had "covered " India's development and tests of Agni V ballistic missile . You have to remember our disclaimer when it comes to news, however. We are not a news organization, we are more of an on line library. We simply scour the maritime specialty media and the world's news papers for headlines we feel the national media ignored but are of importance to the maritime world, or the world in general, but occurring in an under reported maritime environment. We started out as simply providing a maritime news "Cyber Reading Room" where site visitors could read the online versions of the world's English language maritime periodicals. Then we added  a global on line newspaper service link. After that, we began to notice that through our own daily correspondence  we were often aware of developing stories before they were in any English language publication. That's when we began our Headline Service. We alert our readers to important maritime stories that often are either completely ignored by the American general media or are picked up late in the game. We sometimes write opinion about such stories but WE DON"T WRITE NEWS STORIES. WE ARE NOT A NEWS GATHERING ORGANIZATION. WE LINK OUR READERS TO THE FIRST RELIABLE ENGLISH LANGUAGE VERSION OF THE STORY WE CAN FIND.

 So, when Admiral Prakash indicated that an article in the PROCEEDINGS by a highly respected author well known to PROCEEDINGS readers had some factual; errors concerning Agni V ballistic missile, we knew that some of the articles we had linked you to no doubt had the same of similar errors.   But Admiral Prakash's letter didn't stop with just technical corrections. He went to discuss a number of observations about the article and U.S. -India military relations worthy of note. The naval Institute like all human organizations isn't infallible but we have always been impressed with their forthrightness in correcting errors. 

 First lets look at the technical corrections. The range claimed by Indian scientist for the Agni V is 3,100 nautical miles or about 5,000 kilometers. Claims of a 10,000 kilometer range that have been reported in the media are based on an early Chinese news story that was inaccurate, but repeated by normally reliable news services. We linked our readers uncritically to these sources. The Admiral also pointed out that the Agni V will not benefit India's satellite-launch capability.

 Admiral Prakash then went on to address an assertion by the Naval Institute author he took issue with concerning India's first Indian built nuclear submarine. About that the Admiral noted.

    "The vessel's launch on 26 July 2009 was widely publicized by international media. This 6,000 ton SSBN will form the third leg of India's nuclear triad . She is currently undergoing a series of comprehensive system trials, including the firing up of the reactor, before she goes to sea and  is then commissioned as INS Arihant in 2013."

  We are pleased that in our posts on that submarine we did not express any doubts that the ship was on track for commissioning on schedule, or any doubts about its functionality. We don't believe that we directly linked to any articles that expressed doubt that the Indian Navy could in fact build and operate a nuclear SSBN submarine. About that we never had any doubt. We will not touch on Admiral Prakash's comments on prior U.S./ Pakistan operations that negatively impacted India in the past because we were not publishing in that time frame and so we have no need to comment except to say that they were very interesting and informative and, as always ,we urge readers to join the Institute and read the PROCEEDINGS religiously. This article can be found on page 84 of the September 2012 issue.

 Given the trust and confidence that we have in India as a well established democracy and an ethical state, and our confidence in the Indian Navy as a competent, formidable, and ethical navy, we'd simply like to echo the final observation of Admiral Prakash where he strongly endorsed the observation of the Institute's author :

  ....."that the United States is letting slip essential leverage by not offering high-tech military technology to India, a country with which it signed the unprecedented civil nuclear deal in 2007. Let me illustrate: While the USSR/Russia has, so far, entrusted India with two nuclear subs on lease, and will soon be transferring a modernized 45,000 ton aircraft carrier with  fourth generation fighters, the only piece of U.S. hardware in the Indian Navy today is the 44-year old USS Trenton now serving as the INS Jalashwa.".  

 India is nobody's lackey. They can't be bought. We have big interests in the Indian ocean but only one tiny outpost. It costs a fortune to be able to keep a naval force there sufficient for us to operate on our own.  While India is not a formal ally of the United States it is a stable democracy and an ethical state. We have nothing to fear as they assume the chief peace keeper role in the Indian Ocean. We should be forging closer relations. The Tiger may not have our back, but they are not on our back, and they definitely are on the beat as the neighborhood cop. We should be encouraging the growth of the Tiger Navy.

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