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Indian Ocean

War for dominance over the Indian Ocean & the Asian 'High Seas' and its impact on Pakistan's maritime interests. A comparative analysis of Pakistan Navy's operational readiness against traditional and emerging maritime threats.

By: Shahzad Masood Roomi

Whoever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean would be a prominent player on the international scene. This ocean is the key to the seven seas in the twenty-first century; the destiny of the world will be decided in these waters" US Navy strategist Rear Admiral Alfred Thayus Mahan (1840-1914) Whosoever can hold the sea has command of everything. Themistocles (524 - 460 B.C.) The 21st century is Asia's century. Not only in economic terms, as Asia has been playing a key role in the global economy since the last two decades, but more so in geo-political and geo-strategic terms. Asia is center stage of global politics making it the most dynamic and strategic military zone in the world. The US assumed the role of the world's sole super power and set the following strategic objectives for the next century to consolidate her control: 1. Defending Israel with religious fervor and zeal at any cost.

2. Capturing and controlling energy resources dotted across Africa, the Gulf and Central Asia. 3. Capturing and controlling strategic trade and energy corridors, both on land and sea in order to exploit the captured energy resources and to expand trade markets including weapons. 4. Destruction of the political model of Islam by defacing it as a violent philosophy. 5. Encirclement of China. 6. Encirclement of Russia. It may seem like an over stretched idea or a biased analysis of regional geopolitics, but by examining the abridgement of American wars in Asia after 9/11 vindicates the US intent to pursue these grand strategy objectives. Using terrorism and war on terror as frontage, the US successfully established its military footprint in the strategic nerve points across Asia. The Middle East, East Asia, Southeast Asia and Central

The entire US scheme of asserting itself in the whole of Eurasia and consequent conflicts, revolve around the littoral nations of the Indian Ocean. The strategic seaports dotted across Asia are going to play a decisive role in the coming years due to their multipurpose nature. These ports include Gawadar (Pakistan), Chennai (Madras; India), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Jakarta (Indonesia), Kolkata (Calcutta; India), Mumbai (Bombay; India), Richards Bay (South Africa) and Karachi (Pakistan). Some of these ports are critical choking points for the international sea line of communications while others are gateways to the land locked regions Therefore, the idea of controlling Eurasia intrinsically includes the Indian Ocean and the geography of its littoral nations as areas of interest for the US. Without controlling the Indian Ocean, it would remain impossible for any power to hold Africa and the Oceanic regions in her sway as well. Africa is another very important region for global players due to its vast energy resources and minerals, and a conflict of interests between China and the US is already visible in this region, both are desperate to cultivate political, economic and military interests from this region. The US have expanded its strategy of asserting control by igniting wars across the coastline of Somalia, under the faade of anti terrorism and anti-piracy missions. Apart from its strategic significance, the Indian Ocean is full of natural resources, making it a natural attraction for not only the US but for the regional players as well. Large reserves of hydrocarbons are being tapped in the offshore areas of Saudi Arabia, Iran, India and Western Australia. An estimated 40%

Asia, along with all land and sea trade as well as the energy corridors are areas of interest for the US. All these foreign policy objectives are actually different phases of one larger scheme of asserting the US control over the whole Eurasian region, with Africa and Oceania regions acting as peripheries. The Eurasian equation has two major components: First Europe and the Atlantic Ocean and then Asia and the Indian Ocean. With the inception of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, the European part of the Eurasian equation was solved. The Soviet empire was a major impediment for the US designs therefore, it was successfully eradicated in 1991. The accomplishment of her foreign policy goals has become a complex undertaking for the US due to the emergence of strong economies in Asia with divergent interests. This economic growth has been now transformed into investment in the respective militaries of every growing economy; China, Japan, South Korea, the Gulf States and India are the most apparent examples. Traditional rivalries between countries like China-Japan, India-Pakistan, IndiaChina, China-US over Taiwan, the US invasion in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rift between both Korean states, have reshaped the Asian security st architecture for the 21 century, where arms race, increased defence budgets and a desire for ubiquitous military presence in the Indian Ocean are dominant trends

Trading sea-lanes of the Indian Ocean and switching monsoon BRASSTACKS 04

of the world's offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean. This ocean is the super highway for trading oil and LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) from the Persian Gulf and theArabian Peninsula a region with world's 45% of total energy resources across the world. Protecting these sea-lanes is another factor contributing to the rise of regional naval powers, particularly India and China, the two countries whose energy needs depend on these sea-lanes. The Indian Ocean includes all of the major seas in the region: Andaman Sea, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Great Australian Bight, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Mozambique Channel, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Strait of Malacca and other tributary water bodies. The Indian Ocean is a 68.556 million sq km body of water between Africa, the Southern Ocean, Asia and Australia, with a coastline stretching to 66,526 km in total, shared by all littoral nations. Global powers have been scuffling against each other to control the Indian Ocean since the last 30 years. The Russians wanted to descend to the Arabian Sea in search of warm waters and now US/NATO want to climb up from the South in order to secure the vast energy resources in Central Asia. After the demise of the Soviet Union, the emergence of China as the next big economic and military might, has posed serious challenges to the US dominance, particularly when the latter is bogged down in two lost and protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a thinning economy back at home. Economically, the US is already dependent on China but in the military sphere, lingering expeditions by the United States provided China with an opportunity to modernize its military machinery including its Navy. According to an estimate by the American military analyst Robert D. Kaplan, within the next 15 years, the Chinese Navy would be operating more submarines than US Navy operates today. Likewise, in military aviation, China is leading the world with the greatest number of fighter jet projects run concurrently by any nation. Right now, China is working on a broad array of fighter jet models, ranging from the basic 4th generation fighters to advanced 5th generation stealth bomber fighters. But this emergence of China as a major power player must not be misconstrued as the end of US dominance. Despite economic strains and military humiliation in

Iraq and Afghanistan, the US is determined to achieve its strategic goals by waging dirty wars, using its political and diplomatic apparatus. The newly formed alliance with India, to counterweight China, is yet another embodiment of this undertaking. Apart from China, India has emerged as another important regional player with global ambitions and now is enhancing her power projection capabilities in the Indian Ocean. Currently, Indian Navy is the world's fifth largest naval force but it would take 3rd position, after China and US, within the next 15 years. This is the most disturbing statistic from Pakistan's maritime security point of view. Pakistan and India would never be at peace with each other, particularly since issues like Kashmir and Water have been lurking around to be solved since the last 64 years. The Newly found IndoUS strategic partnership is already haunting Pakistan's security interests as the US is providing India with state of the art weapon systems. On another axis, both RAW and CIA are working covertly on a plan of independent Baluchistan to capture the critical Gawadar port and its related trade and energy corridors leading towards Afghanistan and Central Asia. It is Pakistan's security dilemma that be it the Indian rivalry or the US partnership, both are detrimental to Pakistan. At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, it is evident that the contest for controlling the Indian Ocean and the Asian 'High Seas' has been initiated already. With the emergence of new stakeholders in the region the game is going to be more sinister and complex. Strategic understanding of the Indian Ocean is critical to analyze this multifaceted, ambitious and intriguing thrash-about.

The Contest, the Players & the Arena:

The geography of Indian Ocean and the littoral states can be divided strategically into five major categories. Whosoever would control these strategically important geographic locations would have all the trading sea-lanes under their control. a. Strategic water access ways and Choking Points: Connecting two seas through natural or artificial water bodies and the points where international trade can be blocked due to

include Socotra near HOA (Horn of Africa), Diego Garcia at the heart of the Indian Ocean South of India, Adaman and Nicobar in Bay of Bengal, Dhalak in Red Sea and state of Sri Lanka. The whole struggle for controlling the Indian Ocean revolves around these strategically important geographic vortexes. Therefore, they have become innately critical to the US, China and India, the three major naval forces in the Indian Ocean with ambitious designs. At present, the US Navy is the only blue water navy operational and backed by the US political force, divided into various US Naval fleets, each responsible for a specific Ocean or region. To capture the above-mentioned strategically important geographic points, the US is using CIA created ghost of terrorism to write the pretexts, under which the US military is expanding its areas of interest across the Indian Ocean. Unleash terrorism in a country and then go there to clean the mess! This is the undeclared US policy tactic in the 21st century and has worked perfectly in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, allowing the expansion of the US military footprint. The lastest in the series is the way the US has used the excuse of Somali pirates to capture all important Socotra island, strategically located at the opening of the Gulf of Aden. This will be the site for the fullfledged establishment of military bases, both airforce as well as naval.

constricted width of seaways. There are four crucial access waterways facilitating the international maritime trade, these are the Suez Canal in Egypt, Bab-el-Mandeb, Straits of Hormuz, and Straits of Malacca. b. Multi-purpose strategic ports: These ports serve both civilian and military purposes. Dual-purpose ports are vital national assets; Karachi port in Pakistan, Mumbai in India, Hambantota in Sri Lanka are some of the examples. c. International sea lines of communications: Sea lanes for trade of oil and LNG from Persian Gulf to US, China and India lie under this category. d.

Land based trade corridors connected to coastlines: Land trading routes connecting land locked regions to the international coastline. Ports of Gawadar and Charbahar are perhaps the only two ports in the entire region that serve as multipurpose seaports. Gawadar is the closet seaport for the Central Asian region, through Gawadar Chaman and Gawadar Torkhum corridors, and for Western China through Gawadar Khunjrab corridor. Socotra Island, Yemen New house of US Navyand Airforce in the Arabian Sea

e. Strategic Islands: Islands with naval installations, with the capability to interrupt maritime trade of any other nation. These

from the strait of Malacca. In the East Asian region, the US navy and air force have permanent bases in Japan and South Korea since the 1940's and 1950's, with more than 60,000 US troops deployed there permanently. These bases provide the US military with the opportunity to monitor the Pacific rim of the Indian Ocean and to keep the Chinese maritime developments under a constant check. This region is critical for the US as part of its policy to encircle China. Taiwan strait is a potential war theatre in the South China Sea. The US is supporting Taiwan's government with latest weapon systems but at the same time vows to support One China policy adopted by the communist party of China. US military bases and Training camps exist on the strategic Japanese island of Okinawa since World War II. Despite severe protests and demands from the Japanese public, the US is not willing to close all of its facilities on the island. The Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China conduct counter intelligence missions in the vicinity of the island on a regular basis as well. In April 2010, the Japanese authorities notified the detection of tens of Chinese intelligence-gathering ships and submarines near Okinawa. Moving towards Southeast Asia, Iran and Pakistan are

B-52 and B-2 Spirit stealth bombers on Diego Garcia

The US navy is already present in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Newly built naval and air force bases on Socotra island would enable the US to keep an eye on the Northern Arabian Sea and the Somalian peninsula at the same time. Coming towards the south, in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia support base, which was established in 1970's, was converted into a complete US airforce operational base in 2002, with B-52 and B-2 Spirit stealth bombers on it. This strategic move by the US military to have an operational base in the heart of the Indian Ocean has enabled the US airforce to launch bombardment missions anywhere in Asia. This base was used extensively during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Apart from that, this base provides the US Navy with an unchallenged grip over the Indian Ocean. Towards the East, strategically important Malacca strait is controlled and managed by the US Navy as well. The strait is the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, linking major Asian economies such as India, China, Japan and South Korea. It is interesting how the US mounted pressure on Malaysia to allow US maritime presence in the strait to protect them against threats of terrorism and piracy despite the fact that no evidenace of these terrorists and pirates were found in the strait. Another noticeable fact here is that the US announced the Malacca strait as a maritime danger zone, two years after an attack on a US navy destroyer, USS Cole, in the Gulf of Aden located thousands of miles away

US Bases on Okinawa island in the Pacific Ocean near China

two countries sharing the coastline of extreme strategic importance to the US policy goals in the region. It is only the Pakistani and Iranian ports that connect the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf to Central Asia, China and even to Europe through road/rail links. Gawadar is actually the port which connects Eurasia to the Indian Ocean through the Arabian Sea. US/NATO, India and Israel all want Gawadar, hence the whole of Baluchistan, to secede from Pakistan in order to prevent Chinese access to theArabian Sea and to secure the most reliable and the shortest corridor for the US/NATO forces to Afghanistan. On the other hand, the Chinese Navy is desperately looking for a friendly naval base. The US Navy already has exercised amphibious landing on Makran coastline in Baluchistan. Apart from it, In September 2009, Pakistani media was buzzed with stories of a potential base for 200 US marines at Gharo, Sindh. This conflict of interests has triggered a full blown dirty war in Baluchistan encompassing terrorism, ethnic violence and lingustic hatred as some of its main tactics. This is the most sinister aspect of the global great game! Adjacent to Gawadar, the Iranian Navy patrols the most critical choking points of world oil trade: The Strait of Hurmoz. According to the US Energy Information Administration, an average of about 15 tankers carrying 16.5 to 17 million barrels of crude oil normally pass through the strait every day, making it one of the world's most strategically important choke points. This represents 40% of the world's seaborne oil shipments, and 20% of all world shipments. Despite operating a brown water navy in a coastal defense role, Iran can create turmoil in global oil trade due to its control over the Strait of Hurmoz. Securing this important choking point is a natural strategic aim of the US. The US military might is suffering an economic backlash due to the protracted war on terror, forcing it to adapt new tactics to expand its maritime footprint in and around the Persian Gulf and theArabian Sea. The US, along with 26 other countries, has established Combined Military Force (CMF) to counter threats of Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea. This force is further divided into 3 task forces, each assigned to fight against terrorism, piracy and human trafficking. This arrangement has allowed the US

Navy to quietly expand its maritime area of interests to all the seaports and the coastlines belonging to respective littoral nations. The question remains that why the US is not helping its allies to build their own naval capabilities to deter these threats of terrorism and piracy according to their own maritime strategic vision and priorities instead of including their naval assets to these task forces? Now the US navy has unlimited and unristricted surveillance of seaports, naval bases and sea lanes in the region. Pakistan's Gawadar port and Makran coastline is extremely vital for China and Pakistan. Here theAmerican interests are on a head-on collision course with the Pakistani and Chinese interests, but amazingly Pakistan is still a partner in CMF, working mainly under US Navy's 5th fleet. Summerizing all this maneuvering, it is clear that the US is desperately working towards capturing all major strategic geographic points in the Indian Ocean in order to assert itself and to block the Chinese Dragon from entering the Indian Ocean. The US maritime strategy in context of securing important strategic geographic locations can be summerzied as under: a. The US Naval force projection capabilities and force repositioning guarantee that it can block any trade route if necessary and can force other countries like Iran to open a blocked water lane in case of hostilities. b. The US Navy is getting all regional navies combined under the CMF, expanding naval espionage and intelligence gathering to the entire Arabian sea coastline. It is also pressing to establish its footprint on strategically located seaports like Makran. c. All major choking points in and around Indian Ocean, other than the strait of Hurmoz, are controlled by the US Navy. d. The US Navy already had bases on strategic islands in the Indian Ocean, it is going to expand them to other islands in the future as well. e. Finally, the US is encircling Eurasia. It

Chinese Sea Line of Communication through the Malacca Strait established military bases on both sides of the Atlantic and the Pacific after World War II: The two oceans encompassing the whole of Eurasia from West and East. Now the US is advancing from South to North in the region by asserting itself in the Indian Ocean as well. Another very important geographic aspect of this US war for Eurasia, is the way it is affecting the social fabric of the Muslim nations dotted across the Indian Ocean coastline. The whole of the Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan and African Muslim nations like Somalia, Sudan and Bangladesh are in the eye of the storm due to the covert intrigues of the CIA and Mossad. The US policy of securing its interests in the region by redrawing the Middle East map revolves around the presence of the fear of terrorism, which is a brainchild of the CIA. The covert US agency's Special Activity Division (SAD) has created its assets in the region, particularly in Pakistan's tribal belt of FATA, to wreak havoc so that the US can later use this Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism as an excuse to invade more Muslim lands. Stunningly, the whole Middle East and Af-Pak region is in turmoil eversince

the US invaded Afghanistan. Now it is an established fact that the invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq were precursors to ignite sectarian wars across the Muslim heartland so that Greater Middle East can be redrawn. On the other hand, political philosphy of Islam (i.e system of Khilafah) has been destorted and devastated by the US sponsored assets like Al-Qaeda and TTP. After the US, China is the second major power player in the Indian Ocean, having the highest stakes. The Pakistani military establishment and China are aware of the US/NATO game plan for the Makran coastline and are working closely once again on the Gawadar port, whose control has been recently given back to the Chinese. In order to secure its oil supplies from the Persian Gulf, China has embarked on a strategy of building ports in friendly countries. In this regard, China has built a number of seaports along the Asian coastline: Gawadar, Hambentota, Chittagong, Coco islands in Maldives and a port in Myanmar (Burma). There is a real possibility that in future China will use these ports as naval bases away from the Chinese

shores for force projection in the Indian Ocean and declare its navy as a Blue Water Navy. But right now, Taiwan is a more important issue for China. All major Chinese Naval installations are concentrated along the Taiwan Strait. Certainly China cannot leave the ports she built away from home unguarded. The US is navigating in troubled waters of East China Sea and the Pacific, projecting its force and support for independent Taiwan. Not only this but the US is also supporting India to build its Naval strength to deter its Chinese counterpart. Major rivalry between the US and China began with an incident that occurred on 27th October 1994, when USS Kitty Hawk, a USN aircraft carrier, while on routine patrol in the international waters off the Yellow Sea, collided with a Chinese Han class nuclear submarine. In response, the United States dispatched an S-3 Viking antisubmarine patrol aircraft to screen the movements of the Han class submarine. China meanwhile had earlier ordered two F-6 fighter jets to tail and monitor the S-3. As the tension at sea built up, an American attach in Beijing was informed by the Chinese that China will take all necessary measures to defend its air and maritime space from being violated. This incident signalled China's intention to operate its navy in the high seas beyond its coastal waters an area that has been traditionally considered to be preserved by theAmericans. Apart from the Taiwan problem, the dependance of Chinese Sea Lines of Communications (SLOC) on the Malacca strait is a big potential threat. Despite having the world's second largest economy, China is dependent on imported raw material and oil. The Strait of Malacca is the most critical choking point in the Indian Ocean and unfortunately for China this is the biggest potential single point of failure for the Chinese oil supplies, which literally run the Chinese economic engine. Mokhzani Zubir and Mohammad Nizam Basiron at 'Centre for Maritime Security & Diplomacy Malaysia,' described the Chinese sensitivity regarding the Strait of Malacca in these words: Given its importance to China's economic survival it comes as no surprise when Beijing indicated that it is prepared to protect the shipping routes which are important to China's economy. This is bolstered by China's statement that China has strategic interests in these important sea routes and would use its

naval might to ensure that these sea- lanes remain open. Zhao Yuncheng, an expert from China's Institute of Contemporary International Relations, went even further and suggested that whoever controls the Straits of Malacca and the Indian Ocean could threaten China's oil supply route. His conclusions were echoed by President Hu Jiantao, who said that the Malacca-dilemma is the key to China's energy security. He hinted that several powers (the US included) have tried to enlarge their scope of influence in the Straits of Malacca by controlling or attempting to control navigation in the Straits of Malacca. Due to these problems, China is compelled to have a two-Oceans navy, and this is where China is heading now. The Chinese navy, backed by massive economy, is on its way to become the second largest navy in the world. Despite building an array of seaports along the coastline of friendly littoral nations, the Chinese SLOCs remain vulnerable at the moment and the Chinese navy is not in a position to assert itself in the Indian Ocean or even in the Arabian Sea, where the Indian navy, along with its US counterpart, is having control. This has forced China to declare its ports away from home to be declared as civilian and commercial only. India is the third major player in the Indian Ocean. With a large navy and ambitious aspirations, India is expanding her footprint not only in the Indian Ocean but also looking towards the Pacific as part of her Look East strategy. After 9/11, India became the biggest strategic partner for the US, and now both are working closely to deter the Chinese threat, but the Indians have their own maritime gameplan which confines not only to the Indian Ocean but encompasses the Pacific as well. The US would never like India to be that capable, but right now they have a common interest in the Indian Ocean as well as in the region. Contraction of its naval force, despite being a global super power, is disturbing for the US military. The surface fleet of the US navy is depleting while the Chinese and Indian Navies are expanding. To make up for this loss, the US has devised a regional strategy of forging

String of Pearls - Chinese built ports in the Indian Ocean and Nicobar & Andaman islands
maritime alliances with friendly countries, as part of its foreign policy. The subsequent military cooperation between India and the US has increased manifold since 9/11 and the navy is not an exception in this regard. The Indian ambitions of becoming a global power are nothing new. Post 9/11 geo-political and geostrategic milieu provided a conducive environment to India to pursue her global aspirations. Becoming a two-Ocean navy is a declared motto of the Indian naval forces. The Indian navy is going to become the world's 3rd largest navy from the world's 5th. Right now the Indian navy comprises of following strengths: In 2004, the Indian navy adopted a new aggressive doctrine and the following areas were identified as priorities for the Indian navy in the 21st century: a. Controlling the choke points, significant islands and trade routes in the Indian Ocean, theArabian Sea and in the Bay of Bengal. b. Inclusion of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca as legitimate area of interest for the first quarter of the 21st century. c. Transforming Indian navy into a threedimensional blue water force, having the potential to undertake significant assignments and roles on the surface, underwater, and in the air.

Just like the US maritime strategy for Indian Ocean, the Indian doctrine also focuses on acquiring the capability of choking trade by naval blockade of sea-lanes for China and Pakistan in the Arabian Sea. For the Indians, Chinese built seaports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Maldives are major concerns despite the repeated Chinese assurances that China has no intention of expanding its maritime presence in the Arabian Sea. The Indian military strategists named these Chinese bases as String of Pearls and declared it an attempt by China to encircle India. Though the Chinese-built ports in friendly countries, including Pakistan, have the potential to affect the balance of power in the Indian Ocean between China and India, but right now the Indian fear sounds more like a far cry from reality. India is exaggerating the Chinese threat out of proportion so that newer and latest weapons can be acquired from the US and the West in order to break the Chinese string of pearls with the help of the Indian naval metal chain, a term devised by some Indian experts for Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC) and the Indian bases on Nicobar and Andaman islands in the Bay of Bengal. An existing strength of 3000 troops has been increased to a division level force of 15000 troops. The most significant modification was to extend the existing airstrip so that the Indian Air force Su-30MKI fighter jet can land on these islands. In the East, in the Bay of Bengal, the Indian navy's main target is to deter Chinese investment on seaports built in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar by having the capacity to choke the Chinese oil trade.

Apart from that, the Indian navy is eying to operate in the Pacific and for this it needs massive power projection capability. This goal is further signified by an ambitious program designed to locally build aircraft carriers. The ANC is going to play a major role in achieving these goals . On the Western theatre, in the Arabian Sea, Indian naval ambitions have expanded farther from Pakistan. The Indian navy, even now has a massive power projection capability vis--vis its Pakistani equivalent due to a massive gap in qualitative and numerical terms. The Middle East, particularly the Persian Gulf and Africa, are among the Indian navy's long-term ambitions. The Indian navy has already established its electronic monitoring and listening stations in Madagascar and Maldives, deep into the Indian Ocean, far from Indian coastal precincts. Interestingly, the Israelis are also navigating through turbulent waters of the Indian Ocean and their presence in the Arabian Sea, along with Iranian and Pakistani maritime borders has been confirmed now. Israel established a secret logistics naval base on a strategic island of Dahalak, Eritrea, with US funding, close to Bab-e-Mandel in the Red Sea. Here the Israeli Dolphin Class submarines and Corvettes get supplies while entering into the Arabian Sea, where at least one Dolphin Class submarine, armed with Popeye Turbo, nuclear tipped cruise missiles, maintain her presence. This base was established after a secret agreement between the Israeli and Eritrean government in 1995. From this island, no vessel can traverse the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, undetected by the Israelis. This base proves that horn of Africa is also included into the area of interest. Involvement of all these major actors along with regional countries, the swath of the Indian Ocean is a maritime arena where these players are busy making new alliances and strategic repositioning of their naval assets, along with building new capabilities. Understanding all these facets of this struggle is important for putting the Pakistani maritime defenses and future threat assessment in a perspective.

Pakistan, the entire South Asian region has fallen into two camps with conflicting security interests. One is onboard with the US war on terror, a US recipe to expand her military footprint and push her grand objectives. The other group of nations wants to bring this US expansion in the region to a halt. China, Iran and North Korea do not want US presence in the region and in the Indian Ocean with power projection capability to undermine their interests, while on the other hand the Gulf countries and Pakistan are partners in US maritime task forces working under the US Navy's 5th fleet.

Though due to protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Navy is decreasing in number but increasing its effectiveness and lethality by incorporating the latest state of the art systems. At the end of the Cold War, the US Navy had a surface fleet strength of 600 ships which declined to 350 during the Clinton administration and now has decreased further to 289 ships. It is still a formidable force as it has 3,700 aircraft at its disposal across the globe. The Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea are monotired by the US Navy's 5th fleet, which was reactivated in 1995, after a hibernation of 48 years, bringing the USN at three ocean navy. It consists of two air craft carrier strike groups, along with a number of destroyers, attack submarines, amphibious landing ships and numbers of auxiliray ships, with its headquarters in Manama, Bahrain. The US Navy's 5th fleet comprises of various task forces, each responsible for dedicated tasks. 1 x Forward Deployed Carrier Strike Group ( having 2 aircraft carriers) 1 x Expeditionary Strike Group (having multiple amphibious land platforms) Task Force 52, mining/demining force Task Force 53, Logistics Force/Sealift Logistics Command Central, Military Sealift Command (MSC replenishment ships plus USN MH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters and C130 Hercules, C-9 Skytrain II and/or C-40 Clipper aircraft)

Balance of Naval Powers in the Indian Ocean :

In context of the ongoing struggle for controlling Eurasia after redrawing the Middle East, including

Task Force 58, Maritime Surveillance Force (Northern Persian Gulf) Task Force 59, Expeditionary Force/ Contingency Force (when required) The given map explains that the 5 fleet has a very small area of responsibility.

USS Harry S. Truman-Part of USN 5th Fleet Task Force 54, (dual-hatted as Task Force 74) Submarine Force Task Force 55, (Operation Iraqi Freedom: Constellation Carrier Strike Force; June 2003: mine clearing force) Task Force 56, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command force. Task Force 57, (dual-hatted as Task Force 72) Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (P-3 and EP-3 Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft) The Chinese Navy (PLAN) is the largest naval force in Asia but the quality of surface and sub surface fleet remains a crucial problem of Chinese Navy's efficacy. The Chinese Naval technology traditionally relied on Russian origin. China is just entering into modern warfare. Some of its home grown surface fleet ships proved their seaworthiness in the Gulf of Aden, where they sustained their operations for more than 120 days without any support from nearby bases. But it is certainly going to take a while before China can have a real force projection capability, particualry in the field of aircraft carriers, an area where even the Indian navy is superiror than the Chinese in terms of quality, quantity and experience. Currently the Chinese Naval strength is as under: Strength: Force Size : 255,000 Surface Force: Destroyer: 26 Frigate: 49 Large landing Ship: 27 Medium landing Ship: 31 Fast attack craft: 200+ Submarine * SSBN: 3

** SSGN: 5 7 (as per various reports) AOR of USN 5th Fleet


Chinese Ballistic Missile Submarine *** SSK: 56 Naval Aviation: Manpower: 26,000 Aircraft: 400-500 * (US Classification for Submarine Ship with Ballistic missile and Nuclear power) **( US Classification for Submarine Ship without Ballistic missile and Nuclear power) ***(US classfication for Submarine Ship without Ballistic missile and conventional power) PLAN recently started to induct advanced jet fighters. China is talking to the Russians for supplies of SU-33 ship borne fighters for the Chinese air craft carrier which is under construction. To strenghten its naval defenses in the South China Sea, the Chinese navy has built a naval submarine base on Hinanian island, capable of housing 20 submarines at a time. The Chinese Type 093 Han Class and Type 094 Jin Class ballistic missile submarines, belonging to Northern Fleet of PLAN have enabled it to project considerable power in the Pacific. The limited number of these submarines is a problem for PLAN but it would not remain so in the coming decade and construction of Hinanian base is yet another indication of the Chinese resolve of becoming a true blue water navy.

Iranian Navy's strength lies in its fleet of 13 submarines which also include Russian Kilo class diesel powered submarines. Despite suffering from major economic and military sanctions from the US after the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Iranian navy revised its structure in 1990's and adopted many new platforms of Russian, Chinese and North Korean origins. Right now, the Iranian navy has a limited power projection capability in the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea. According to latest news from Press TV Iran, the country is going to start an assembly line for home grown submarines. This is a significant development as Iran would be the first country in the Gulf to have such an assembly line.

The Indian navy executed a new doctrine immediately. New naval facilities were built on both Eastern and Western shores. The Indian passion of fighting a two-theater war against China and Pakistan is evident in its maritime strategic planning as well. The Indian Navy has undertaken a very robust strategy for building power projection capabilities. This includes: 1. Establishing new naval bases on home and foreign coastal lines. 2. Acquiring the latest surface and sub surface weapon systems. 3. Enhancing local ship / submarine building capabilities.

INS Vikramaditya undergoing massive refit in Russia and Russian MIG-29K 4. Bilateral / Multilateral naval exercises to enhance operational readiness. The first phase of this doctrine was completed in 2005 with the construction of a new larger naval base, INS Kadamba at Karwar in Karnataka. This port was envisioned in 1980 but was adopted only in 1999 under the project Seabird. This project was initiated to separate the Indian naval bases from its commercial ports. Apart from this, major naval bases of Indian navy exist in Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam and Kochi. Vishakhapatnam alone can provide berths for fifty vessels. The Indian naval ambitions are stretched to the entire swath of the Indian Ocean, from horn of Africa to the Pacific rim of the Indian Ocean, in the South China Sea. The Indian Navy is acquiring aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, Anti-ship missiles, amphibious landing docks and ship mounted theatre defense. Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) systems to project power as the region's only expeditionary naval force. The Indian target is to get three aircraft carriers operational till 2020. The Indian navy already operates an aircraft carrier INS Viraat, which received a major upgrade in 2006 when the Israeli Barak Anti-Missile System was installed. Supplementing this would be 44,500 tons INS Vikramaditya, ex-Russian Admiril Gorshkov aircraft carrier, with a capacity to house 16 state of the art Mig-29K ship borne fighters for carrying out strike and anti-ship missions. Currently, the Indian navy's air arm depends on the British Sea Harrier jets, which are getting old now. Mig-29K are latest variant in the

family and would be a tremendous boost in the Indian Navy's aviation arm, with its 1650 KM combat radius, Kh-31 and Kh-35 anti-ship and anti-radar missiles. By 2018, the Indian navy is expected to operate its home built 40,000 ton aircraft carrier, which would house 12 MIG-29K fighters for strike missions. This would be followed by a third aircraft carrier project in 50,000 ton class, fitted with catapult while the earlier models have been envisaged with STOBAR (Short take off barrier-arrested design). Along with its multiple carrier-operating ambitions, the Indian navy also has a very robust submarine program, which includes acquisition of both conventional and nuclear powered attack submarines. Unlike China and US, the Indian naval fleet has no ballistic missile submarine with it, but nuclear powered conventional submarine capability has been acquired with the help of Russian assistance. The Indian navy is going to operate the Russian nuclear powered submarine Akula-II, on a 10 years' lease, which would be commissioned in the Indian navy as INS Chakra. The Indian crew was trained at St. Petersburg in 2008, to operate nuclear powered submarines. This training helped the Indian navy in its own nuclear submarine project, Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), which has been going on secretively since the 1980's. The first ship, with the name INS Arihant, has been launched in 2009. Interestingly, the symbolic launch ceremony was held on 26th July, the day the Indian army celebrates as victory in the Kargil war. This symbolic gesture indicates the real intentions of the Indian navy regarding the future area of deployment of these submarines. The second Arihant class boat is under construction right now at Ship Building Centre (SBC), Vishakhapatnam.

In the conventional submarine arena, the Indian naval strength lies on 10 Russian built Kilo class submarines. These boats are armed with Klub antiship missiles and are considered as one of the quietist submarines in the world due their double hull architecture. Apart from that, the German Type 209 submarines are also part of the Indian navy. To maintain a modern submarine fleet, the Indian navy is in process of inducting 6 French Scorpene attack submarines and another follow up order of 6 will follow the induction of 6 more conventional attack submarines. India would acquire the latest variant of Exocet anti-ship missiles along with Scorpene submarines. Indian Navy's Sea King ASW helicopter Just like its sub-surface fleet, the Indian navy is going to induct the latest surface combatants in the fleet. Guided Missile Destroyers and frigates armed with BrahMos cruise missiles are the mainstay of Indian naval surface fleet. With the help of Russia, India has acquired the capabilities to produce 6000-8000 ton destroyers locally. The Russian firm Severnoye Design Bureau, helped India to build Delhi class destroyers, equipped with surface to air missile system like Barak-1 , Anti-ship missiles like Kh-35 (Range:130 Km) and SET-65E anti-submarine, active and passive homing torpedo. Apart from the existing destroyers, the Indian navy has a plan to build 8 new stealth guided missile Kolkata Class Destroyers, under program P-15A. The first ship was launched in 2006. The primary design goal of this new class of destroyers is to enhance the land attack capabilities of the Indian navy, with enhanced area defense role against any aerial attack with 48 Barak-8 and 32 Barak-1 SAMs. Each destroyer would have 16 BrahMos cruise missile launcher. The Indian naval build up also includes acquiring airborne surveillance, maritime patrol, and antisubmarine warfare (ASW) platforms. Right now, the Indian Naval aviation is using the Russian origin patrol aircrafts and anti-submarine helicopters, but it is going to be changed in the near future. The most significant upgrade in the Indian naval aviation, would be the induction of Boeing P-8I Poseidon multipurpose, maritime patrol platform. This induction would bring the Indian maritime surveillance and anti-submarine capabilities on par with the USN, owing to the fact that it is US Navy's next generation maritime surveillance platform. For strike missions, the Indian navy already has a large fleet of Tu-22M, SEPECAT Jaguar, Sukhoi SU-30 MKI and newly inducted MIG-29K. Jaguars' Sea Eagle missiles are to be replaced with more lethal Harpoon missiles. In the anti-submarine role, the Sea King, Ka-28 and the domestic built HAL Dhruv are used. After strengthening its surface, sub-surface fleets and naval aviation arm, the next aim of the Indian navy is to transform into an expeditionary naval force. For this purpose, the Indian navy has acquired 16,900 tons, Landing Platform Dock (LPD) from US in 2007, which was commissioned as INS Jalashva. Acquisition of second platform is under consideration while 4 more amphibious landing ships would be acquired from Russia. These platforms would enable the Indian navy marine force to land and capture other nation's coastline areas in a naval expedition. Analyzing this ambition leaves little doubt about the real intentions of the Indian navy. India cannot launch an expedition mission in the South China Sea while all major islands in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal are already under the Indian or US control, so naturally it leaves the seashores of Pakistan as potential targets of the Indian build up. Furthermore, the Indian maritime war preparations are in complete sync with a similar aggressive drive of modernization in the Indian army and air force under the grand Cold Start strategy, specifically devised against Pakistan. Pakistan army and air force have already taken a number of responsive measures to deter the Indian war ambitions under the Cold Start strategy, but the Pakistan Navy is clearly lagging behind in building adequate defenses. Unlike China and India, Pakistan

Navy is a very small force with only one role, seaward defense. But with the changed geo-political and geostrategic regional environment, it has become a compulsion for the Pakistan Navy to adopt a Sea Deterrent role. Pakistan has no ambition of regional power projection but India clearly does. Apart from the Indian threats, the way Pakistan has been portrayed as a source of international terrorism, in a ruthless and sinister media war and consequential warnings issued to Pakistan by the US administration, also demand a paradigm shift in the strategic thinking of Pakistan Navy's top brass, while carrying out threat assessment. Clearly, Pakistan's potential security threats have been expanded way beyond India. So enhancing its anti-ship, anti-submarine and subsurface warfare capabilities becomes intrinsically mandatory to deny sea control to any hostile entity. Unfortunately, the current strength of Pakistan Navy is not even adequate to fulfill its primary defense role let alone sea deterrence. This is dangerous to say the least.

Current naval strength of Pakistan is described above in a comparison to its Indian counterpart. Current one-sided balance of naval power proves that Pakistan Navy is not equipped to defend its harbors and seaports while concurrently making sure that its sea-lanes keep open. Traditionally, India has always enjoyed naval superiority, both in quality and quantity, over the Pakistan Navy after the 1965 war, when Pakistan held the Arabian Sea under its control by virtue of operating the only submarine (PNS Ghazi) at that time in the war but it changed soon as the Indian strategic planners realized their weaknesses and eradicated them. India was the first country in Asia to operate an aircraft carrier in 1971, though PN's submarine fleet was still a headache for the Indian navy, but once PNS Ghazi was sunk, the whole complexion of war changed dramatically. This detailed analysis of regional players draws the

Pakistan will have to change the current balance of maritime power in the Arabian sea in order to secure its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The current status is unacceptable and cannot warrant putting up a decent fight, before extinction let alone survival and victory. Pakistan navy is going to pay for the recent mismanagement of its acquisition programs. To adopt an effective sea denial role, some short and long term recommendations are given below:

above shown comparative picture of maritime balance of power in the Indian Ocean. Pakistan had to pay a heavy price in the 1971 war for not building adequate naval defenses. In East Pakistan, an area surrounded by India from three sides and having the Bay of Bengal on the fourth, the damage inflicted by the Indian navy and Indian Air Force on the Pakistan navy stood at seven gunboats, one minesweeper, two destroyers, three patrol crafts belonging to the coast guard, 18 cargo, supply and communication vessels and large scale damage inflicted on the naval base and docks in the coastal town of Karachi. Losses from both sides are depicted in the table below. Unfortunately, the current status of the Pakistan Naval procurement proves that no lesson was learnt from the 1971 war, particularly the way the deal of Type-214 submarine was ruined in 2008 under extremely suspicious circumstances. Likewise, opportunities of having Spruance Class destroyer, for fleet air defense role, were turned down in 2005, and recent reports about Pakistan Navy putting Turkish deal of Milgem Corvettes on an indefinite hold, are extremely annoying. 1. Ballistic missile and cruise missile capabilities are Pakistan's most lethal and reliable strength to counter balance India's naval build up in the Arabian Sea. Pakistan Naval Strategic Command must adopt surface-to-surface medium and short range ballistic missiles in a role against Indian navy's land based, fixed assets like naval bases, radar stations, dockyards and harbors. An attack on the main naval base like Mumbai or Cochin, during an event of war, can put a decisive philosophical scar on Indian navy's morale. Pakistan naval bombardment on Dawarka radar station during the 1965 war had sent a powerful and aggressive signal to the Indian navy. With a very small surface fleet, right now, Pakistan navy is in no position to undertake that kind of mission again in the near future, but ballistic missile capability enables Pakistan armed forces to strike at major Indian naval bases and harbors even preemptively, without putting its navy in harm's way. Land and air launched cruise missiles must be part of Navy's aggressive doctrine in order to attack enemy bases with


sheer lethality. China is using its DF-21 missiles in anti-ship missile role against larger ships like aircraft carriers. The bottom line is that Pakistan must step up the production of its medium range ballistic missiles and some of the units must be an integral part of the Navy's strategic force command with conventional warheads aimed at all major Indian naval bases. 2. Pakistan anti-ship capabilities, despite having lethal weapon systems like Harpoons and Exocet, are hindered due to limited numbers of surface and sub-surface launching platforms (i.e. ships and submarines).Anti-ship and anti-

conventional submarines in her naval fleet, while Pakistan's submarine fleet is depleting fast. Pakistan does not need any SSBN or SSGN even in the conventional submarine arena. Pakistan submarine fleet is the weakest link in naval defenses, with just 3 reliable and relatively modern Agosta 90-B submarines. Pakistan desperately needs to expand its submarine force to 12 advanced diesel, and half of them must be modern submarines built on proven technologies. Pakistan Navy could not execute the submarine acquisition plan devised by SMAP due to the malevolent intentions of compromised elements, both in the political and naval establishment. German build Type214 submarines were recommended after years of evaluation work. Prior to this, the deal of Agosta-90B in 1994, also met with charges of corruption and kickbacks, which proved true when investigated. An inquiry in France is underway in this regard. India is building its submarine fleet with conventional and nonconventional platforms, while Pakistani decision makers remain oblivious. It must be remembered that wars are fought with conventional weapons on submarines, not nuclear weapons. It is the duty of the conventionally armed submarines to advance and engage. Nuclear submarines avoid the conventional threats and wait in stealth for second strike capability. Pakistan needs more conventional submarines for active defense. Under the pressure of US, now Germany and France, both have backed out and Pakistan Navy has practically lost the opportunity to induct one of the most potent sub-surface platforms that could have provided Pakistan Navy with real sea denial capabilities vis--vis the Indian navy. But this damage can still be managed by acquiring the platform available, like German Type 209/Mod 1400 submarines from Turkey or second hand, but proven Agosta-70 platform can be acquired from Spain or Brazil. These platforms can be modified with modern combat suits and weapon systems. Type-209 is in use with 13 navies worldwide, so spares and

PAFs Mirage-V armed with AM-39 anti-ship missile

submarine are the two most critical roles for any navy in the world. The deficiency of sea bound platforms can be overcome by building a strong naval air arm in strike role. Pakistan Navy will have to add numbers of new squadrons of JF-17 thunder equipped with C802A missiles (Range: 180 KM). The current balance of naval aviation between Pakistan and India is heavily tilted in Indian favor. The current fleet of Mirage-V ROSE with AM-39 Exo cet ant i-ship mi ssi les, must be complemented by Thunders and C-802A combo. One major advantage of adding Thunders in naval role would be the economy of home grown solutions, allowing Pakistan to raise more squadrons of JF-17 Thunders in naval aviation. 3. Building an impregnable naval defense is not possible without having a robust and modern state of the art submarine fleet. India is adding all the latest conventional and nonBRASSTACKS 19

training would be no problem. Pak-China cooperation is very critical, as China remains the only reliable military partner of Pakistan. Pakistan Navy has no experience of using Chinese sub-surface platforms and as now Pakistan Navy is going to acquire the Chinese platform, Pakistan should request PLAN to detach some of its Song class submarines to train Pakistani sailors and officers. For any Chinese origin platform it must be ensured that it strictly meets the PN requirements. A joint venture program can serve best just like JF-17 Thunder did for PAF. Maritime defense pact with China is a must where we can allow China to have Naval bases on our shores to counterbalance hostile threats. Pakistan navy must also increase its naval cooperation with Iran, as Iran is entering into submarine building arena with Qaeem class submarines. Prior to that, Iran already has built Nahang 1 and Ghadir class submarines. On the geo-strategic level, Pakistan, China and Iran must form a maritime alliance as mutual interests converge in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. But to enter any such regional security arrangement, Pakistan will have to isolate herself from the US war on terror and Major Non-Nato Ally (MNNA) status given to Pakistan by the US. 4. Absence of area defense destroyers is another weak area of Pakistan navy, which needs to be strengthened on war footings. With induction of MIG-29Ks in the Indian navy it is necessary for Pakistan navy to have this crucial capability in order to prevent Indian naval aviation arm from establishing air superiority. In this regard, Chinese platform with HQ-9 SAM, based on proven Russian S-300, can be a good start. Pakistan navy personnel can work out with their Chinese counterparts to finalize specifications. 5. Pakistan must increase its cooperation with

Turkey in naval warfare. Recently, Turkey offered Pakistan navy with GENESIS system for Perry class frigate, which PN is going to acquire from the US. Pakistan navy must seal this important deal as GENESIS would provide some aerial defense capabilities to Pakistan navy surface fleet with its SM2 missile. Pakistan navy is also engaged with Turkey for Milgem corvette program, which is one of most critical programs right now to enhance the surface fleet capabilities.

Final Thoughts:
The current grim, noxious and precarious geostrategic environment in the region has threatened Pakistan's security interests like never before. Clash of interests among regional players is predominately outrageous, turning high seas, littoral nations across Asia and eventually the whole of Indian Ocean into an active battlefield, whereupon the Pakistan Navy looks extremely weak in surface, subsurface and naval aviation, keeping in mind India's ambitious naval build up in and around the Arabian Sea, both in qualitative and numerical terms. While the noose around Pakistan is being tightened on every axis of national security, Pakistan's political leadership and successive naval top brass remain obscure and debilitated while making critical decisions of inducting new maritime platforms in the Pakistan Navy. This indecisiveness could endanger the entire coastline of Pakistan. Due to lack of any strategic depth between Eastern and Western borders, the coastline, stretching from East to West, in the South cannot be left unguarded at any cost. Pakistan Navy is the most neglected arm of the armed forces at the moment. It is from this flank that Pakistan is most vulnerable. Those in government and in the establishment responsible for bringing about this dangerous state of affairs, are guilty of compromising Pakistan's security. In the time of war, the bravest sons of this nation, serving in the Navy, would needlessly be harmed for the blunders of the rulers today. We still have time to correct this dangerous imbalance, otherwise history neither forgets nor forgives !