India: U.S. Completes Global Military Structure

10 September 2010

By Rick Rozoff

A September 8 report by a leading Canadian newspaper cited the Indian branch of the Deloitte consulting firm estimating the world’s second most populous nation plans to spend as much as $80 billion for its defense sector in the next five years.

It quoted an Indian journalist, Rahul Bedi, a contributor to Jane’s Defence Weekly, as stating “No one else is buying like India.” [1]

Earlier this year the authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) disclosed that India had become the world’s second-largest importer of weapons from 2005-2009, “importing 7% of the world’s arms exports.” Only China imported more weaponry, though that nation is slated to purchase less foreign arms, both aggregate and percentile, in the coming years and the largest foreign supplier of its weapons is a non-Western country, Russia.

During the five-year period mentioned above, Indian arms imports more than doubled from $1.04 billion in 2005 to $2.2 billion in 2009. Over the past 20 years Russia has been far and away the main provider of arms to India, as the Soviet Union had been in previous decades, though “The United States, currently India’s sixth-biggest arms supplier, seems likely to leapfrog to second position once New Delhi starts paying for a series of recent and ongoing acquisitions.” [2]

Those contracts include $1.1 billion for C-130J Super Hercules transport planes, $2.4 billion for Globemaster airlifters and $2 billion for P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft. (A version of Boeing’s Poseidon reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare Multimission Maritime Aircraft modified for Indian use.)

Reports in both the Russian and Chinese press speculate that when U.S. President Barack Obama visits India in November he “may secure $5 billion worth of arms sales,” a deal that “would make the US replace Russia as India’s biggest arms supplier” and “help India curb China’s rise.” [3]

The unprecedented weapons transactions could include “Patriot air defence batteries and Boeing mid-air refueling tankers.

“Observers point out that the role of India’s biggest arms supplier is shifting from Russia to the United States.” [4]

A Chinese news source added that Washington will also supply New Delhi with howitzers and that “the total cost of the deal may exceed $10 billion….”

The Economic Times of India disclosed in July that “talks are underway between Indian and US officials over a deal to sell 10 Boeing C-17 [Globemaster III] military transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF).”

Wang Mingzhi, a military strategist at the People’s Liberation Army Air Force Command College, warned “once India gets the C-17 transport aircraft, the mobility of its forces stationed along the border with China will be improved.” [5]

The C-17 carries a payload of 164,900 pounds for 2,400 miles and 100,300 pounds for 4,000 miles without refueling.

In late August the U.S. signed a $170 million deal to supply India with 24 Harpoon Block II advanced air-to-surface anti-ship missiles.

This February the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Obama administration, with a renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific region, intends to massively increase arms sales to both India and its nuclear rival Pakistan. U.S. military sales to Pakistan have risen to $3 billion a year and are expected to nearly double in 2011.

As for its neighbor, “India is one of the largest buyers of foreign-made munitions, with a long shopping list which includes warships, fighter jets, tanks and other weapons. Its defense budget is $30 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, a 70% increase from five years ago.” [6]

In January U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited India and later in the month Washington secured a deal to sell India 145 U.S. howitzers for $647 million.

“The Obama administration is trying to persuade New Delhi to buy American jet fighters instead [of Russian ones], a shift White House officials say would lead to closer military and political relations between India and the U.S. It would also be a bonanza for U.S. defense contractors, and [the White House] has dispatched senior officials such as Mr. Gates to New Delhi to deliver the message that Washington hopes India will choose American defense firms for major purchases in the years ahead.”

The Wall Street Journal quoted Tom Captain, vice chairman and Global and U.S. Aerospace & Defense director at Deloitte headquarters in New York, as claiming “For 2010 and 2011, India could well be the most important market in the world for defense contractors looking to make foreign military sales,” where Russian equipment accounts for about 70 percent of that currently in use.

Referring to India’s plans to spend $10 billion for 126 multirole combat aircraft, Captain added: “That’s the biggest deal in the world right now. If it goes to an American firm, that would be the final nail in the coffin in terms of India shifting its allegiance from Russia to the U.S.” [7]

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen was in the Indian capital on July 22-23 and met with Defence Minister AK Antony, Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik and other military leaders. As a local news agency divulged, “Mullen’s visit comes at a time when both sides are looking at expanding defence cooperation across a swathe of areas.

“The visit also coincides with intensified lobbying for the $10 billion contract for 126 fighters for the Indian Air Force (IAF).” [8]

The White House is negotiating new export control agreements with India to assist American arms firms to sell more high-technology weapons to the Asian nation.

At the top of the list of U.S. objectives in expanding military ties with India are replacing Russia as the country’s main arms supplier and the concomitant supplanting of Russian political influence, further tightening an Asian NATO around China [9] and weakening the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [10], all to ensure unimpeded American presence and domination in Eurasia.

After the end of the Cold War and the fragmentation of the Soviet Union, the Pentagon was given free rein to operate worldwide, including in parts of the planet hitherto inaccessible to U.S. troops and bases.

U.S. European Command, through the expansion of NATO membership and graduated partnership programs, has secured the Defense Department a prevalent role in almost all of Europe and the South Caucasus.

Central Command has extended its role from the Middle East to Central Asia and further into South Asia and the Indian Ocean.

On October 1, 2002 U.S. Northern Command was established to oversee North America from Mexico’s southern border to the Arctic Ocean. Six years later U.S. Africa Command was launched to subordinate 53 nations on and off the coasts of the continent to American military and geopolitical strategy.

In the past decade the Pentagon has deployed troops, military equipment and ordnance – in some instances missiles – to new locations in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region, the Middle East including the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, Central and South Asia, Northeast Africa and South America.

The final frontier is Asia from China to Iran, with those parts of it not covered by Central Command assigned to U.S. Pacific Command, the largest overseas military structure in the world. Its area of responsibility takes in India, China and 60 percent of the population of the Earth.

In the 1990s so-called neoconservatives and realists alike from Paul Wolfowitz to Zbigniew Brzezinski triumphed in the emergence of the U.S. as the first, uncontested and only international superpower – what its current head of state Barack Obama called the world’s sole military superpower in Oslo last December – and crafted plans to continue that unparalleled role into the indefinite future. What they agreed on was the need to guarantee that no other nation or group of nations rose to challenge American global supremacy, either on an international or a regional basis.

By regional was understood any part of the world. The most likely rivals would arise in Eurasia, the American geopoliticians warned. The ultimate nightmare for the imperial strategists was some version of what former Russian prime and foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov promoted as a strategic triangle of Russia, China and India.

An Indian commentary of approximately ten years ago described the U.S. counter-strategy as a policy of cultivating closer state-to-state relations with every nation in the world than any of those countries have with any other state, even their neighbors.

Thus the U.S. is arming India and Pakistan, regional military rivals possessing nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime, as it is deepening defense ties with other nations on both sides of local conflicts and disputes: Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, Greece and Turkey over Cyprus and the skies over the Aegean Sea, Croatia and Slovenia over the Adriatic coast, Serbia and Kosovo over the latter, recognized by almost two-thirds of United Nation member states as a province of the former, and so on.

As the American corporate consultant quoted earlier pointed out, the best way of transforming the foreign policy orientation of other countries and subordinating them to Washington’s global political agenda is by penetrating and gaining control over their armed forces.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Africa Command alone have provided the Pentagon mechanisms for initiating and consolidating bilateral military ties with over 100 of the world’s 192 nations (in the UN). NATO and AFRICOM have given the Pentagon a continent apiece. That is in addition to other, frequently older, military client states in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.

By supplying arms to those nations and eliminating traditional rivals for that role, Washington is laying the groundwork for integrating most every country in the world into its military network. Weapons sales are followed by instruction, maintenance, upgrade and field training agreements, with U.S. military personnel assigned to the purchasing nations.

Regional and other multinational air, naval, interceptor missile, armored and ground combat exercises and war games are held to test weapons in live-fire and other maneuvers and to provide the U.S. opportunities for simulated warfare against potential rivals’ equipment, tactics and warfighting doctrine.

Pilots, soldiers, marines and sailors, including special forces, from military client nations are provided training in their own countries, in the U.S. and in third countries to ensure weapons, deployment, command, communication and combat interoperability with the Pentagon for global missions.

This July the Reuters news agency reported that U.S. arms sales abroad could surge from $37.8 billion to $50 billion next year, an increase of almost one-third.

Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency – in charge of international financial and technical assistance, training and services and other military-to-military contacts – estimated a year ago “that weapons sales could reach a record $50 billion this year.” [11]

He added that U.S. arms sales have expanded from $8 billion ten years ago to $37.8 for the fiscal year ending this September 30 “and they are likely to continue growing in coming years….”

“Among the biggest potential arms deals on the table now are huge fighter jet competitions in India and Brazil, various modernization programs for Saudi Arabia, and continuing support for arms sales to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Lebanon.”

Wieringa was also cited applauding “a drive by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other departments to reform cumbersome U.S. export laws,” thus opening the floodgates for U.S. weapons sales throughout the world. [12]

Four years ago the New York Times documented that “A total of $21 billion in arms sales agreements were signed from September 2005 to September 2006, compared with $10.6 billion in the previous year,” according to Pentagon data. [13]

Nations that had never purchased American weaponry before and that only had negligible armed forces now offer lucrative prospects for American arms manufacturers. India is preeminent in the first category.

The weapons manufacturers’ wares are produced for – deadly – use and not for simple display, deterrence and (dubious) prestige.

Weapons sales are promoted through international arms shows and exhibitions, but more so through actual demonstrations. War games suit that purpose, but war itself does it to a greater degree.

The U.S. offered the world large-scale military hardware expositions in the three wars it launched in less than four years: Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.

The recent announcement that the U.S. will supply Saudi Arabia with a staggering $80 billion worth of arms in the next few years is paralleled by its plans to become India’s main arms provider.

Weapons transactions are inextricably connected with overall military integration, and since 2002 – immediately following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the Pentagon and its NATO allies moving into new military bases in that country, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – Washington began regular (annual) air, sea and land maneuvers with India of ever-increasing scope and intensity.

Last October 12-29 the U.S. Army participated in the latest and largest of Yudh Abhyas (“training for war”) war games held since 2004 with its Indian counterpart. Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2009 featured 1,000 troops, the U.S.’s Javelin anti-tank missile system and the first deployment of American Stryker armored combat vehicles outside the Afghan and Iraqi theaters of war. The Strykers were tested against Indian T-90 tanks, “currently the most modern tank[s] in service with the Russian Ground Forces and Naval Infantry.” [14]

The U.S. ambassador to India, Timothy Roemer, said of the military maneuvers: “The broadened and unprecedented scope of Yudh Abhyas stands as a testament to the growing people-to-people and military-to-military ties of the United States and India, one of the key pillars of the expanded U.S.-India strategic partnership.” [15]

The Pentagon showcased both the Strykers and the Javelin third generation anti-tank guided missiles during the biggest-ever joint U.S.-Indian ground combat exercises and not without the desired effect.

An American press agency disclosed on September 3 that “Russia has traditionally been India’s largest arms supplier but following evidence of the capabilities of U.S. military equipment during joint exercises with the Indian army, navy and air force, the Indian army decided to purchase several hundred Javelin anti-tank guided missiles, demonstrated during the war games….The Javelins were deployed for Indian forces for the first time in the Yudh Abhyas 09 joint military exercise in Babina, the largest war game that the two armies have had.” [16]

Last month the Times of India reported that “India will order a ‘large’ number of the quite-expensive Javelin ATGM systems from the US.

“The deal for the man-portable, fire-and-forget Javelin ATGM systems will once again be a direct government-to-government one under the American foreign military sales (FMS) programme, without any global multi-vendor competition.

“While the exact number of Javelin systems India will induct is yet to be
decided, it could well run into thousands. The Army, after all, has a shortfall of around 44,000 ATGMs of different types….” [17]

In July the Raytheon Company announced that India is evaluating the Patriot ground-based anti-ballistic missile system for purchase and deployment and that the U.S. had provided New Delhi with “classified” material on it recently. Sales of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missiles to India are reported to be on Barack Obama’s agenda during his November visit.

By acquiring them, India would join fellow Asia-Pacific nations Japan, South Korea and Taiwan as well as NATO members Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Greece and U.S. Middle East military clients Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Joseph Garrett, Raytheon vice president and deputy for Patriot programs, disclosed that “A number of exchanges have taken place between the government of India and the US and information has been given to India at the classified level.”

Patriots were “successfully used during both Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Patriot’s manufacturer Raytheon has said.” [18]

Seven consecutive years of Yudh Abhyas war games aren’t the only joint U.S.-Indian military exercises held each year of late. In fact they are full spectrum in their range.

Starting shortly after the end of the Cold War, Washington initiated joint Malabar naval exercises with India. Suspended after the latter’s nuclear tests in 1998, they resumed in 2002 and have grown in scale over the years.

Malabar 2002 included standard maritime maneuvers but also anti-submarine warfare exercises. The 2003 drills featured an American guided missile destroyer, a guided missile cruiser and a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine and two Indian guided missile frigates, a submarine and several aircraft which concentrated on anti-submarine warfare tactics.

2004 saw a continuation of anti-submarine drills and included a U.S. nuclear-powered fast attack submarine and anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft. The next year’s war games featured a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft supercarrier for the first time and included a 24-hour simulated “war at sea” with the two nations’ navies engaging in mock combat.

In 2006 an American expeditionary strike group (the USS Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group) consisting of over 6,500 U.S. Navy personnel, amphibious ships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines participated in the exercise for the first time. Also, with the inclusion of the Canadian navy the 2006 Malabar exercises expanded for the first time beyond the bilateral format of the preceding two years.

The next year was a watershed one in many respects. Malabar 2007 included 25 warships from five nations: In addition to the U.S. and India, participating countries were Australia, Japan and Singapore, at the time leading to suspicions of American plans to forge an Asian NATO.

The drills were held for the first time in the Bay of Bengal off India’s eastern coast, which further raised Chinese concerns, and extended into the Andaman Sea near the strategic Strait of Malacca.

The U.S. supplied 13 warships including the USS Nimitz nuclear supercarrier, the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, the USS Chicago nuclear submarine, two guided missile cruisers and six guided missile destroyers. Japan provided two destroyers, Singapore a frigate and Australia a frigate and a tanker.

Malabar 2008 returned to a bilateral context with the involvement of the USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group, a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine and a P-3 Orion anti-submarine plane.

4,000 personnel from three nations – the U.S., India and Japan – participated in last year’s exercise which included anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, air defense and live-fire gunnery training drills.

Malabar 2010 was conducted in April with ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel from the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, among which were a nuclear fast attack submarine, two guided missile destroyers, a guided missile cruiser, a guided missile frigate, Sea Hawk helicopters, anti-submarine aircraft and Navy SEALS.

The Pentagon hasn’t been content to exercise its troops and weapons on India’s soil and off its coasts. Starting in 2004 the U.S. has also led annual air combat maneuvers called Cope India.

The first series of bilateral aerial warfare exercises tested U.S. state-of-the-art F-15 Eagle fighters against Russian-made MiG-21, MiG-27, MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-30 opposite numbers along with French-made Mirage 200 fighters. The U.S. warplanes were consistently bested by their MiG-21 and Su-30 rivals.

The Cope India maneuvers, like comparable ones in Romania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe and the Red Flag air combat exercises in the U.S., provide the Pentagon an opportunity to engage and compete against advanced Russian military aircraft for use in real war scenarios in the future.

Cope India 2005 pitted American F-16 Fighting Falcons against India’s most advanced, largely Russian-produced, fighters in – for the first time in joint U.S.-Indian air exercises – a combat environment controlled by airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft.

The next year over 250 U.S. airmen stationed throughout the Pacific region accompanied F-16 Fighting Falcons to India for Cope India 2006. The F-16s were deployed against the most advanced fighter in the Indian Air Force’s arsenal, the Su-30 MKI (adapted from the Russian Su-30) as well as MiG-21, MiG-27, MiG-29 and Mirage 2000 fighters.

In 2008 an Indian Air Force contingent of eight Su-30 MKI fighters, two Russian-made in-flight refuellers, a Russian heavy lift transport aircraft and almost 250 airmen “winged their way halfway across the globe to the deserts of Nevada,” to participate in an Exercise Red Flag, held three or four times a year in Nevada and Alaska and “acknowledged to be the most advanced and professionally challenging fighter exercise conducted anywhere in the world.” [19]

The exercise marked several precedents: It included the largest single deployment of the Indian Air Force outside India. It was the first time that the air forces of nations not in NATO or those of major non-NATO allies – India and South Korea – participated in Red Flag air combat maneuvers. “It was also the first time that the SU30 MKI, a frontline combat aircraft of Russian design, made its appearance in the American skies and that too in a multi-national congregation.” [20]

India was elevated to the status of an American strategic military ally, on the level of a NATO partner, on June 28, 2005 when U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee signed the New Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship, in effect a ten-year defense pact.

India has become the convergence point for the U.S.-led NATO bloc moving from the west into Central and South Asia and the expansion of an Asia-Pacific NATO growing from its Japan-Australia-South Korea-Taiwan nucleus to absorb the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mongolia, New Zealand and the five former Soviet Central Asian republics – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – are to varying degrees being integrated into the structure as well.

India is also intended as a central locus for the U.S. global interceptor missile grid based on land and sea and in the air and space, linking deployments in Eastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, the South Caucasus and the Middle East to those in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Alaska, including the latter’s Aleutian Islands.

Moving the Asian giant into the Pentagon’s column will not only affect the balance of forces in Asia but throughout the world.

1) Toronto Star, September 8, 2010
2) Business Standard, March 18, 2010
3) Global Times, July 13, 2010

4) Voice of Russia, July 11, 2010

5) Global Times, July 13, 2010
6) Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2010
7) Ibid
8) Indo-Asian News Service, July 20, 2010
9) U.S. Expands Asian NATO To Contain And Confront China
Stop NATO, August 7, 2010

U.S. Expands Asian NATO Against China, Russia
Stop NATO, October 16, 2009

Australian Military Buildup And The Rise Of Asian NATO
Stop NATO, May 6, 2009

10) The Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Prospects For A Multipolar World
Stop NATO, May 21, 2009

11) Reuters, July 19, 2010
12) Ibid
13) New York Times, November 11, 2006
14) Wikipedia,
15) Embassy of the United States, New Delhi, India, October 19, 2009
16) United Press International, September 3, 2010
17) Times of India, August 17, 2010
18) Raytheon Company
Asia Pulse Data Source
July 23, 2010
19) Indian Defence Review, Vol 25.3 July-September 10 2008
20) Ibid




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