Monday, December 29, 2008

India offers 120K troops for Afghanistan?

Via BRF, this note: (please read the whole note there, only salient points are presented here:

India offers US 120,000 troops for Afghanistan

Our trusty correspondent, Mandeep Singh Bajwa, informed us this morning that India has offered to send 120,000 troops to Afghanistan. Naturally we asked Mandeep "are we being used by the Indians in a psyops game to put pressure on Pakistan?" Not that the Government of India knows we exist, but in all the movies about the media the Editor always asks if the paper is being played.

Mandeep's answer, paraphrased, was this: "I don't know at what level the offer has been made, but the Indian Army and Air Force are down to identifying specific units, formations, and squadrons..." - details, as we said, at Long War Journal - " well as discussing a specific name for force commander, plus working on the details of pre-deployment training, so this is a lot more elaborate than needed for a psyops game.'

This is both a very risky but a potentially very rewarding move. Re: feasibility - I presume Indian supply routes will run through Iran, and this will require Iranian cooperation.

Will Indian soldiers in Afghanistan be specially at risk? I don't know.

What does such a move do? It eases the political pressure on the Indian government to strike directly at Pakistan. In addition,
India neatly destroys Pakistan's strategic depth objective. The Indians have been wanting to get into the act in Afghanistan for several years, because they know a Taliban government means more fundamentalist pressure on Pakistan and thereby on India. But the Americans have been refusing India help for fear of offending the Pakistanis. For India to get into Afghanistan in force is to again change the paradigm of Indian-Pakistani relations as happened in 1971 when India split East Bengal from Pakistan. For the last almost 40 years India's efforts to marginalize Pakistan have been stymied. If the US accepts the Indian offer, India gains hugely.

My assessment - strategically brilliant, but doable only if the tactical downsides can be addressed.