India and the United States have been militarily courting for the past two years, following a prolonged freeze in defense diplomacy and U.S. sanctions after India’s nuclear-weapons testing in 1998 . U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has recently returned from a three-day visit to India, his second trip this year. Mr. Carter discussed logistical requirements for U.S. Naval vessels in the region, digital mapping protocols, communications procedures, and the possibility of – someday – opening the framework for a military alliance.

India is not set to join any U.S. led maritime patrols in the South China Sea, despite a premature U.S. announcement India would in February. Fearing Chinese reprisals, India issued a sharp denial of any claim that their navy would patrol the South China Sea. Their concerns are valid, as China has a rising historical trend for claiming bordering lands; leaving India disturbed by their territorial dispute with China, which resulted in a 1962 war over a portion of the Himalayas. China’s, People’s Liberation Army Navy have also begun to maneuver freely throughout the Indian Ocean.

India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been seeking innovative ways to improve national defense without provoking China. The Chinese are the bold and unchallenged regional cynosure of power; boasting a gross-domestic-product, five times that of India. China’s national security policy sees India being boxed in and isolated as the PRC courts the various governments sitting on the sub-continents borders.

In fact, the current agreement reached with India through Secretary Carter was rephrased to demonstrate India’s resistance to seeming too comfortable with America. The agreement was reworded in order to not give an impression that India has deviated too far from the historical norm, a policy of non-alignment with super-powers, in this case, the United States.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter makes remarks during a joint press conference with Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar in New Dehli, India, April 12, 2016. Carter is visiting India to solidify the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter makes remarks during a joint press conference with Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar in New Dehli, India, April 12, 2016. Carter is visiting India to solidify the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)

U.S. arms could build an alliance

There are a few pull and push dynamics; one is arms. India has been the largest, global total arms importer for the past seven years, and holds the wallet of the world’s fourth largest defense budget. Traditionally, India has sought out Russia as it’s principle dealer, purchasing approximately $ 27 billion in Cold War surplus since 2006. The U.S. only obtained around $ 3 billion in sales to India throughout that same time period. The game is changing and may explain the sudden warming in U.S. relations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to shift arms procurement to Indian domestic development; that is with a little help from some friends – foreign groups may now own 49% of domestic Indian ventures, a 23% increase. Indian private firms are already opening the door to U.S. firms; BAE, Boeing and Lockheed Martin and these firms are meeting India’s demand for air and sea combat multipliers. Currently on the table is the groundwork for an Indian variant of the F-18 set to be produced in India. The arms produced within India with American cooperation could, theoretically keep India safe if it chooses to pursue an alliance with America.

US, Indian defense departments sign significant logistics agreement

Read Next: US, Indian defense departments sign significant logistics agreement

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter attends the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Innovation Roundtable Breakfast & Interaction in New Dehli, India, April 12, 2016. Carter is visiting India to solidify the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter attends the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Innovation Roundtable Breakfast & Interaction in New Dehli, India, April 12, 2016. Carter is visiting India to solidify the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)

India’s internal distrust of America

Although aspirations of an alliance through arms between America and India is on the rocks, with India’s intelligence-sphere; the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), Intelligence Bureau (IB), and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) all having decisive misgivings about America. Their principle concerns lay in the export of U.S. arms to Pakistan, which recently included the 2015 sale of F-16s to Pakistan. The sales were intended to promote regional security, with a focus on bolstering the security situation with Pakistan’s neighbor, Afghanistan – yet the perception in New Delhi is the sale was to their enemy, and that’s final.

Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris, is well aware of these elaborate factors and understands that if a partnership with India is to develop, that the U.S. will be responsible for shouldering the burdens. He is strategically hopeful that a U.S. – Indian alliance is possible, stating that an alliance could be: “arguably the defining partnership for America in the 21st century.” Albeit, the question remains; will we last this shotgun wedding, which appears to destined for a special syndication of the Jerry Springer show.

Despite these many complications, India has signed on for a joint naval exercise with America and Japan that is set for later this year in the Northen Philippine Sea, which is approximately 500 miles from the disputed South China Sea.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter walks with Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar as they tour Indian Naval Station Karwar as part of a visit to the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, April 11, 2016. Carter is visiting India to solidify the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.(Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter walks with Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar as they tour Indian Naval Station Karwar as part of a visit to the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, April 11, 2016. Carter is visiting India to solidify the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.(Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)

Intelligence officers may have defected to the West

Within India, a contest of artifice has already been set upon India and the U.S. relations, India’s Zee News initially reported:  “In a major setback for the country, three officers of India’s external spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) have ‘willingly’ disappeared. All these defections took place in last three months.  According to a report in the Sunday Guardian, all three of them are now likely to be in a large Western country, which has a history of accepting and facilitating such disappearances of Indian intelligence officers.”

The story, under the same address, has been slightly updated, yet remain vague. The implications of a “large Western nation” and the timing of U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s recent visit lays the groundwork for a case of; the devil is in the details. Although, who is the devil?

• It is not uncustomary for a short-sighted American attache, diplomat, or federal agent to piss upstream and pull some assets over to our side with a dick-move like this. If that’s what it is, I doubt anyone will be legitimately shocked.

• Meanwhile, the opportunity for regionally invested foreign intelligence services to act in their best national interest is at hand. China is clearly an opponent to any of advancement of any U.S. strategic postures in the region, especially with a diplomatic enemy, such as India. Russia is set to lose out on billions in lost revenue if the U.S. is successful in fostering the current logistical agreement with India. Advanced air and sea arms from the U.S. by far outpaces Cold War crap from Russia, just as well the U.S. pact to assist in the development of India’s indigenous arms production capabilities. Speculatively, it would not be difficult for an FIS to plant evidence suggesting U.S. involvement.

The sun sets after Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (not pictured) tours Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, India April 10, 2016. Carter is visiting India to solidify the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.(Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)
The sun sets at Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, India April 10, 2016. (Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)

• Most dangerously, the move could be from within the Indian intelligence-sphere, and from Reseach and Analysis Wing itself; RAW is responsible for India’s external security, a staunch critic of past U.S. sales to Pakistan, and a loud voice within Indian defense and politics. RAW is opposed to the notion that India should be involved in a larger geopolitical role – such as the regional security and allied functions suggested by America.

Diplomacy by way of intelligence intrigue

The performance of unknown intelligence agent meandering off with just enough information leaked about it to an English speaking news service falls within an intelligence services disinformation playbook. In fact, the three agents may have never existed at all, but on paper – invented for the sake of this leak to the media about their defection to” a larger Western nation.” Such a maneuver sows the seeds of distrust in India aginst the U.S., discredits U.S. officials, tightens internal Indian security and adds an element of distrust upon future U.S. visits.

Philippines strengthen relationship with Russia through intelligence, training

Read Next: Philippines strengthen relationship with Russia through intelligence, training

A simple set to explain this action, is as a feint, hence the limited and vague initial press release. A feint is plausible as a means to slow U.S. relations down in an offical-unoffically manner. The parallel gain from such a ploy effectively acts as a smokescreen against the foreign intelligence services looking at India.

The off-set fear factor created by RAW, the IB, or the JIC is a move as of yet, unknown but there was a need to publicize the defection of the three with limited details. A swift finger point to the West is tactically sound, as opposed to accusing an already diplomatically unstable nation in the region such as the PRC. The abuse of U.S. timing to cover the defection of their own to U.S. as opposed to their actual defection to a prospective regional aggressor. Such a move may not be geared against the U.S., but merely an effort to save face.

The likelihood of an abuse of U.S. timing to cover the defection of their own to U.S. as opposed to their actual defection to a prospective regional aggressor, like the PRC. Such a move may not be geared against the U.S., but merely an effort by Indian intelligence services to save face.

Actions like these are not uncommon for Indian intelligence and security services, who have become synonymous with zero accountability and no transparency, which often leverage the archaic legal and political system of India that lays systematically poised in favor of maximized government authority regards defense and security. The most prevalent example of these laws is found in an extremely active, 1885 law – the Indian Telegraph Act. Through this law, intelligence and security services operate via multifarious sub-agencies such as; Central Monitoring System (CMS), The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), and The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). All of which freely monitor all communications, under the 1885 law. Additionally, the Indian Congress has made all intelligence agencies and their subsidiaries, immune from judicial scrutiny and they are not governed by any form of Parliamentary oversight. Leaving Indian intelligence to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants.

A U.S. Navy H-60 arrives in Goa, India to transport Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to India Naval Station Karwar to visit the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya April 11 2016. Carter is visiting India to solidify the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.(Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)
A U.S. Navy H-60 arrives in Goa, India to transport Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to India Naval Station Karwar to visit the Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya April 11 2016. Carter is visiting India to solidify the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.(Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)

Comments, from SOFREP Editor-in-Cheif: Jack Murphy

SOFREP.com has also done an in-depth report on India’s intelligence services, including RAW.

If the purpose of an intelligence service is to inform their nation’s leaders and prevent them from being surprised, then the Sino-Indian war of 1962 was perhaps India’s worst intelligence failure. While Indian military leaders had assumed that Chinese forces would come from the north if they decided to invade what is now Arunachal Pradesh, the invasion force actually came from the East (Raman, 17). Chinese forces moved clandestinely through the Kachin state of Burma and over the Naga hills, which were unadministered by the Burmese government.

The move was not completely unanticipated as the Intelligence Bureau had observed an increase in mules, within the Kachin state, but policy-makers didn’t see this as sufficient reason for concern. The Chinese used the mules to transport war material from the Yunnan province in China, cutting through the ungoverned areas of Burma and launched their surprise attack. The war shook the Indian government and led to Indira Gandhi’s decision to split the external intelligence units within IB into their own agency, which came to be called the Research and Analysis Wing.

The RAW’s first director was an unassuming man named Rameshwar Nath Kao. Kao was selected for the job despite the complaints from others in the intelligence services of his lack of analytical and field experience because of Indira’s family relationship with Kao and because he had headed IB’s external intelligence division prior to RAW’s creation (Raman, 24). Kao was known to be a humble, low profile, and loyal gentlemen professional. British trained from the time he joined the Indian Police in 1940, Kao spent twenty years with IB until he was asked to head RAW.

Read the rest of the SOFREP report here.