Rakesh saar, good summary. At least you took the trouble to articulate your points. Some of mine:
Rakesh wrote:1) COMCASA will *NOT* divulge all our communications. As Karan Saar pointed out ---> we will have two sets of networks (one for Indian/Existing platforms and the other for COMCASA-equipped platforms).
While this is true, I don't know how practical it is to have two sets of communications equipment everywhere we have COMCASA equipment. Someone from the forces side is bound to write about this, let's see what their take is. One of my objections to this agreement is that I don't see a compelling for us to go to this trouble.
Rakesh wrote:2) Again as Karan Saar mentioned, It is going to be expensive and not easy. But the Indian Govt believes it can afford the cost and is worth the pain. And I do not believe this is a gamble by the GOI. The very fact that we did not sign the standard CISMOA agreement, clearly indicates that.
Fair enough. But I'd like to see the fine print before concluding anything. Let's also keep in mind that building a system that can bridge both is going to be almost impossible (I mentioned it in my post above). Even if we do, the reliability of such a system will be at the mercy of the Americans.
Rakesh wrote:3) Not all existing US-sourced platforms will necessarily have COMCASA equipment on board. So the existing C-17s, C-130s, P-8Is, etc are not necessarily required to have the equipment. If the Indian Armed Forces do not feel the need for the equipment, they simply will not put it on there. There is no compulsion to install or NOT to install COMCASA equipment. Signing the agreement - which has gone into immediate effect - means little, if the communication equipment is not installed.
4) Not all future US-sourced platforms will necessarily have COMCASA equipment on board either. So the upcoming CH-47s, AH-64s, second batch of C-130s, four additional P-8Is, the lone white tail C-17 may or may not have the equipment. Again, it is based on operational needs and not a fleet-wide installation of American platforms that serve (or will serve) in the Indian Armed Forces.
Somehow, I think it won't pan out like this. American gear is generally good (which is not the reason I oppose this agreement), so I expect we'll put it on all US sourced platforms.
Rakesh wrote:The main takeaway is COMCASA is a platform-specific agreement and not a blanket agreement. That is an important point to understand. So what equipment will be among the first to feature COMCASA-equipped communications? That platform has yet to be inducted and that platform will be armed Predator drones. That platform will serve as a game changer for the Indian Armed Forces, especially for the Army (i.e. striking terrorist camps) and the Navy. In addition, keeping track of Chinese boats in the Indian Ocean (something the Navy already does with elan), becomes much easier with CENTRIXS.
Let's try to understand what happens when the terrorist camp we want to strike (from our PoV, all of our western neighbour is a terrorist camp, isn't it) conflicts with American perception? The fact is, there are still a lot of people in the US establishment who have Pakistan's back for whatever reason, and we cannot assume that the Americans will be okay with whatever we do to secure our interests. More importantly, in such a scenario, what recourse do we have if the CENTRIXS access is suddenly cut off? There is some mumbling about legally-binding agreements, but you and I both know that it means jack-shite in the real world real-time use cases. If the Americans deem it fit, we will get access, else we won't. This agreement ensures that they hold all the cards.
Rakesh wrote:Now let us dispel the myth that a COMCASA-equipped platform cannot communicate with other platforms. Let me use a few examples.
Example 1 - Let us say CENTRIXS tracks a PLA boat in the Indian Ocean. Are the Indian Naval personnel who are monitoring the boat, using CENTRIXS, suddenly have a bout of Aphasia (the sudden loss of language or the inability to communicate)? They can very easily pass that info - via a secure Indian network which already exists in the form of INS Kattabomman in Tamil Nadu - to a P-8I, a destroyer or one of our own subs in the area to track her or even sink her (if required). The Indian Navy is already tracking Chinese boats in the Indian Ocean and INS Kattabomman plays a role in that.
This is more work, but doable. Agreed. My point is, what is the killer requirement on our horizon for us to do this extra work? As you say, we are already tracking Chinese boats with our own assets, and if they are not good enough, we should invest in them. This agreement to me seems like an easy way to suck our money and starve funds for investments into improving our own capabilities.
Rakesh wrote:Example 2 - Predator drones pick up terrorist camps near the border and need to be taken out. Can the Indian Army drone operator not pass on that info - over a secured Army network which already exists - to another unit in the Army, to carry out the task? So instead of using the missiles on the armed drone itself, perhaps the Army wants to send in special forces to complete the task? Or light up the camps using Pinaka rockets or ATAGS artillery?
Same point as the above: India and the US deep state have differing perceptions on who is a terrorist, so this will only limit our options. Worse, now we are at risk of divulging who we are tracking, as the gear could be sourced from the Americans.
Rakesh wrote:So the Americans will certainly be able to see what we are doing (in tracking targets) with COMCASA-sourced equipment. But how we choose to engage that target, will still remain behind a black curtain and of our choosing.
Do you not see the problem with this?
Rakesh wrote:The point is this ---> there is no inability on the part of Indian Armed Forces personnel (who are operating COMCASA-sourced equipment) to pass on location info to other units that do *NOT* operate COMCASA-sourced equipment. Where the bone of contention lies is can that info (of tracking targets using COMCASA-sourced equipment) be shared with a third party? Now the GOI has asked for an assurance from the US Govt that they will not do such a thing and the US Govt in turn has given the Pinocchio answer. And despite the expected Pinocchio response, the GOI has taken that scenario into consideration and feels the rewards outweigh the risks.
Just for my understanding, can you elaborate what this Pinocchio answer means?
Rakesh wrote:The other myth that needs to be dispelled is that US personnel will be present 24-7, wherever COMCASA-sourced equipment is used. The whole point of COMCASA (from the US side) is designed to circumvent that very requirement. They can easily snoop in (despite their assurances that they will not) sitting behind a desk - in the United States - if they wanted to. They do not have to be anywhere in India for that. So there will be no US personnel aboard a MH-60R or a P-8I to see what we are doing.
True. Pankajs-ji pointed out the language, and he is right. I will need to re-read the Korean agreement.
Rakesh wrote: What is required however, will be scheduled inspections to ensure that the COMCASA equipment has not been tampered with. Again, we only need to abide by that rule. So let them do their scheduled inspections and keep them happy.
How we have fallen, saar? Sure, the EUMA started it and not this agreement, but the fact that we are so casually talking about foreign inspections of our frontline assets shows the direction we are going towards. So much for our ambitions of being an independent pole in a multi-polar world.
Rakesh wrote:Also, folks please think about this carefully ----> Why did the US agree to COMCASA and not arm twist India to sign the standard CISMOA agreement? What makes it so eager for the Americans to agree to an Indian specific agreement? Between India and the US, who is equally (if not greater) wary of the Chinese? Why give us a waiver for CAATSA at all? Why did South Korea (who also face the Chinese threat and the North Korean threat) sign the standard CISMOA agreement and not a South Korea specific agreement? Why are the Americans not stopping supplies of the AH-64, CH-47, C-130, C-17, MH-60R, etc to India, like how they stopped the F-35 for Turkey who also bought the S-400? Do not be fooled by the standard line from a few on BRF ---> that in America lies India's salvation. The reality is otherwise.
What CAATSA waiver are you talking about? That so-called waiver requires the USG to certify that we are demonstrably moving away from sourcing Russian equipment, and it not a blanket waiver. So our foreign policy is sought to being influenced in the American direction. Same goes for Iranian oil. Also, there is no guarantee that some day in the future some senator with an itch in the wrong place will propose an amendment to withdraw this as well (or say we have to buy from Timbuktoo), and the US prez will simply posture about Congress doing something and his hands being tied. Net net, this CAATSA waiver is not set in stone. If this sounds far-fetched, please see the past actions of the US: they have a history of saying one thing and doing something else.
We have a tactical convergence at best with US interests w.r.t. China. But installing their gear on even some
of our frontline assets which enable them to track our activities in real time will give away enough hints about our strategic posture. We can try to hide this as much as possible, but it is impossible to be 100% certain that nothing important is divulged.