US Landpower and an Indo-American Alliance

von Ralf Ostner

In the US Army War College Vol.48 No.1 Samir Tata published an programmatic article „US Landpower and an Indo-American Alliance“ (see link, page 95 ff.). Samir Tata is a foreign policy analyst. He previously served as an intelligence analyst with the National-Geospatial Intelligence Agency, a staff assistant to Senator Dianne Feinstein and a researcher with Middle East Institute, Atlantic Council and National Defense University.Samir Tata questions former Secretary of Defense Gate´s programmatic assumption, that in future US wars boots on the ground were not essential and that Navy and Airforce were the main contributors for such an war.

In his article Samir Tata questions this assumption, claims that China´s New Silkroad will create an alternative route for its energy supply which makes it independent from the maritime routes. In this case Offshore Controll and AirSeaBattle (ASB)/ JOAC wouldn´t be so important anymore. Therefore he proposes an Indo-American alliance which includes land power forces in the Himalay to enter Xinjiang and Tibet and to cut off China from its energy supply by pipelines and land transportation in case of such an event as a Sino-Indian or Sinoamerican war . Tata argues that the alliance between the USA, Japan and Australia was not sufficient to counter China by economic and man power in the future and that therefore an Indo-American alliance was precondition for the maintance of US interests in Asia.  Tata also has a blueprint for the draft for the operative part of such a treaty which mirrors the strong commitment incorporated in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization agreement:

„In the event of an armed attack by the People´s Republic of China against the Republic of India or the United States in any area under Indian and American administration or international waters or airspace in the Indian or Pacific Ocean regions, the attack shall be considered against both India and the United States, and consequently both parties agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the party so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the  other party, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed forces, to restore peace and security.“

Tata sees three main obstacles for such an Asian NATO. The nonalignment philosophy of India, Indian doubts about the reliability of the USA and the Sino-Indian trade relations. He doesn´t mention India´s  membership in the SCO and BRICS (especially after the G7 disaster and while China is speaking of the SCO and its „Shangahi Spirit“as „new model for global governance in a new era“in contrast to Trump´s deconstruction of the West), but thinks all these hindrances could be overcome. Firstly, China would pose a potential threat to both the USA and India in the future, the USA would be more reliable than an ever stronger China ( he doesn´t raise the question if Trump is perceived as reliable by India) and the Indian exports to China were just 3,6% of its total exports while the Indian exports to the USA amounted to 15,6% (let´s wait for the results of Trump´s trade war against the world and US allies and after China set up new freetrade zones and signs several bilateral and multilateral freetrade agreements, maybe with India). Therefore an Indo-.American alliance was a must for the future.

Accordingly the US Army should get prepared to fight Himalaya and land wars against China together with India. The question is if the author means his article serious or if it it just a desperate move of the US Army to find a new place and role within the US military branches which are enlarged by a Cybercommand and maybe a new Spaceforce. However the article addresses the problem that China is getting more independent from sea routes by its New Silkroad initiative, that Offshore Controll and Airseabattle might not work anymore and that the USA has to find a solution to cut off China from its silkroads in the event of a war. But prescision guided missiles on pipelines and trucks might substitute boots on the ground in the Himalaya.

The topic if the USA should build an alliance with India or even an Asian NATO is a hot debated issue.In an op-ed in the South Morning Post (25 Nov 2017 ) Cary Huang writes:

„US, Japan, Australia, India…is Quad the first step to an Asian Nato? (…)It’s more than just changing the name of the ‘Asia-Pacific’ to the ‘Indo-Pacific’ – the ‘Quad’ grouping of like-minded democracies has the potential to dramatically change the region’s security landscape.“

However, James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation has a different point of view- in his article „A strong US-Indian Partnership is our strategic interest “he argues:

„The U.S.-India relationship doesn’t fit well into either the category of friend or ally. What is driving strategic convergence between Washington and Delhi is Beijing. But the United States and India don’t need a treaty alliance. It is not about deferring to Indian sensibilities that may cling to the country’s nonalignment legacy, or crave strategic autonomy, or envision India as independent balancer in South Asia. No. There just isn’t a need for a defensive alliance to deal with China. No one is trying to deter or contain China. What is required is a regional structure to manage China’s disruptive influence in the region. Beijing is now attempting to rewrite international norms: threatening freedom of the commons, intimidating smaller regional powers and spreading corrupt practices. What Washington and Delhi have in common is not the desire to counter China per se, but a desire to foster peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific—and to deal with Beijing when it undermines that effort.“

Indian military analyst Major General Asthana, member of the Indian military think tank United Services Institute (USI)  answered this question in an interview with Global Review as follows:

  In my opinion India, as well as US will like to see a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific, with unrestrictive trade and observance of international laws/norms and global order in the region. Over-riding of UNCLOS and over-ruling of Permanent Court of Arbitration by China, its claim to be “Insurer of world order and peace” in the New Year message of President Xi Jinping in 2018, and trying to rewrite global norms which may not make sense to rest of the world outside China, exhibits hegemonic design. China’s aggressive posture is visible in incremental encroachment of features and converting them into islands in South China Sea, stretching its sovereignty claim as per its perception based on impractical historical logic will definitely push others together, who are directly or indirectly affected by it. In my opinion no one is trying to contain China, but China would be over ambitious if it thinks that the whole world will follow its dictate or sign on the dotted line laid by it. Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) may be at official level talks on sidelines of Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia Summits, to discuss regional and global cooperation in Manila, may be an old idea with limited scope today, but it signals thinking and talking about balancing China’s growing assertiveness. Malabar exercises, global use of word ‘Indo-Pacific’ instead of ‘Asia-Pacific’ (cutting out China from it), Asia- Africa Growth Corridor are some examples of it. Quad may not be a relevant balancer today, but it may become formal, relevant and powerful in future, in case Chinese stance continues to be aggressive.“

The Chinese military strategist Chen Guodong comments Samir Tata`s article as folows:

„What is the strategic motivation of Indian scholar Samir Tata? I can’t see it in this report. If Britain does not deliberately delineate a controversial borderline in the South Asian subcontinent, there will be no contradiction between China and India, and there will be no contradiction between India and Pakistan. In fact, there have been three wars between India and Pakistan, and a large-scale border war between India and China.

India’s national strength and national interests do not support India’s political ambitions. India should work to reduce conflicts with its neighbors. This report suggests that India is involved in an unknown conflict, which is not in India’s interest.

From a military perspective, the cost of long-range strikes is high, which is a disadvantage of India. The border between China and India is very close to major cities and industrial centers in India. China can use the tactical ballistic missiles and the J-20 stealth attack aircraft to hit the core area of ​​India. India lacks conventional attacks on China’s core regions.

China’s energy import routes are diversified. China’s huge investment in wind power, solar power, nuclear power and electric vehicles will greatly reduce its dependence on imported oil. Even on the Indian Ocean route, the range and hit accuracy of China’s second-generation anti-ship ballistic missile Dongfeng-26 can effectively protect Chinese merchant ships sailing in the Indian Ocean.

The strategic motivation of Indian scholar Samir Tata is chaotic.“

陈国栋

7月13日评论

印度学者Samir Tata的战略动机是什么?在这篇报告里看不出来。如果不是英国在南亚次大陆蓄意划定有争议的边界线,中国和印度就不会有任何矛盾,印度与巴基斯坦也不会有任何矛盾。事实上,印度与巴基斯坦之间发生了三次战争,印度与中国也发生过一次大规模边境战争。

印度的国家实力和国家利益都不支持印度的政治雄心。印度应该努力减少与邻国的矛盾。这篇报告建议印度卷入未知的冲突,这不符合印度的利益。

从军事角度,远程打击的成本高昂,这是印度的劣势。中国和印度的边境线距离印度的主要城市和工业中心很近。中国使用战术弹道导弹和歼-20隐形攻击机就可以重创印度核心区域。印度对中国的核心区域缺乏常规攻击手段。

中国的能源进口路线是多样化的。中国在风能发电、太阳能发电、核电、电动汽车上的巨大投资,将大幅度降低对进口石油的依赖。即使在印度洋航线,中国第二代反舰弹道导弹东风-26的射程和命中精度,可以有效保护航行在印度洋的中国商船。

印度学者Samir Tata的战略动机是混乱的。

I replied:

Dear Guodong,

it is interesting to see that Samir Tata is addressing the South Chinese Sea and the border conflict in the Himalaya as core common interest for an US-Indian alliance. As you said: This border issue can be resolved by diplomatic means and India´national military strength has many disadvantages compared to China`s military, especially in convential arms.However, what Tata is not addressing and what could become a source of tensions is the conflict about water resources between China and all the states dependent on the water resources of the Chinese Himalaya, including India.If China is using more water of the Himalaya/Tibet for its own purpose the other states might get in a difficult position. In my opionion US-Indian boots on the ground to cut off China´s pipelines in Xinjiang and the other two choke points is an illusion. Looks like the US Army War College has its own stand-up-comeidan in the person of Samir Tata. However the USA and India could support Uigur and Tibetan insurgents to destabilise these regions. However this wouldn´t be a big challenge for China as most of the Tibetans are more peaceful Buddhists who will selfimmolate themselve instead of taking up the arms (only the Rangzen Alliance is willing to do so) and in the case of Xinjiang the USA and India would be in danger that the insurgency would be an Islamist one which is not in their own interest.Therefore the ideas of Samir Tata are deeply flawed.Accordingto  the US Army should get prepared to fight Himalaya and land wars against China together with India. The question is if the author means his article serious or if it it just a desperate move of the US Army to find a new place and role within the US military branches which are enlarged by a Cybercommand and maybe a new Spaceforce. However the article addresses the problem that China is getting more independent from sea routes by its New Silkroad initiative, that Offshore Controll and Airseabattle might not work anymore and that the USA has to find a solution to cut off China from its silkroads in the event of a war. But prescision guided missiles on pipelines and trucks might substitute boots on the ground in the Himalaya.

Best wishes

Ralf“

 

Chen Guodong replied:

„Dear Ralf,
I really admire your erudition.Offense is the best defense.China has no conventional means of attacking the United States.The strategic initiative is in the hands of the United States.I am trying to change China’s strategic situation.The cost-effectiveness of long-range unmanned submarines is 16 times that of nuclear submarines and requires verification and testing.China can help Russia build large aircraft carriers.In exchange, Russia built a Yasen-class attack-type nuclear submarine for China.In this way, China has the ability to attack the United States.The United States will not dare to intervene in the Xinjiang and Tibet issues.
As for water resources, India is not short of water.Every flood season is flooding.India built a reservoir.Or, Indian families build large otters that save excess rain.
 
Best wishes
 
Chen“

 

The full article „US Landpower and an Indo-American Alliance“  is available at:
https://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pubs/parameters/issues/Spring_2018/Vol48No1.pdf



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