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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/20/10

India: U.S. Completes Global Military Structure

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Malabar 2002 included standard maritime maneuvers but also anti-submarine warfare exercises. The 2003 drills featured an American guided missile destroyer, a guided missile cruiser and a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine and two Indian guided missile frigates, a submarine and several aircraft which concentrated on anti-submarine warfare tactics.

2004 saw a continuation of anti-submarine drills and included a U.S. nuclear-powered fast attack submarine and anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft. The next year's war games featured a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft supercarrier for the first time and included a 24-hour simulated "war at sea" with the two nations' navies engaging in mock combat.

In 2006 an American expeditionary strike group (the USS Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group) consisting of over 6,500 U.S. Navy personnel, amphibious ships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines participated in the exercise for the first time. Also, with the inclusion of the Canadian navy the 2006 Malabar exercises expanded for the first time beyond the bilateral format of the preceding two years.

The next year was a watershed one in many respects. Malabar 2007 included 25 warships from five nations: In addition to the U.S. and India, participating countries were Australia, Japan and Singapore, at the time leading to suspicions of American plans to forge an Asian NATO.

The drills were held for the first time in the Bay of Bengal off India's eastern coast, which further raised Chinese concerns, and extended into the Andaman Sea near the strategic Strait of Malacca.

The U.S. supplied 13 warships including the USS Nimitz nuclear supercarrier, the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, the USS Chicago nuclear submarine, two guided missile cruisers and six guided missile destroyers. Japan provided two destroyers, Singapore a frigate and Australia a frigate and a tanker.

Malabar 2008 returned to a bilateral context with the involvement of the USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group, a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine and a P-3 Orion anti-submarine plane.

4,000 personnel from three nations - the U.S., India and Japan - participated in last year's exercise which included anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, air defense and live-fire gunnery training drills.

Malabar 2010 was conducted in April with ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel from the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet, among which were a nuclear fast attack submarine, two guided missile destroyers, a guided missile cruiser, a guided missile frigate, Sea Hawk helicopters, anti-submarine aircraft and Navy SEALS.

The Pentagon hasn't been content to exercise its troops and weapons on India's soil and off its coasts. Starting in 2004 the U.S. has also led annual air combat maneuvers called Cope India.

The first series of bilateral aerial warfare exercises tested U.S. state-of-the-art F-15 Eagle fighters against Russian-made MiG-21, MiG-27, MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-30 opposite numbers along with French-made Mirage 200 fighters. The U.S. warplanes were consistently bested by their MiG-21 and Su-30 rivals.

The Cope India maneuvers, like comparable ones in Romania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe and the Red Flag air combat exercises in the U.S., provide the Pentagon an opportunity to engage and compete against advanced Russian military aircraft for use in real war scenarios in the future.

Cope India 2005 pitted American F-16 Fighting Falcons against India's most advanced, largely Russian-produced, fighters in - for the first time in joint U.S.-Indian air exercises - a combat environment controlled by airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft.

The next year over 250 U.S. airmen stationed throughout the Pacific region accompanied F-16 Fighting Falcons to India for Cope India 2006. The F-16s were deployed against the most advanced fighter in the Indian Air Force's arsenal, the Su-30 MKI (adapted from the Russian Su-30) as well as MiG-21, MiG-27, MiG-29 and Mirage 2000 fighters.

In 2008 an Indian Air Force contingent of eight Su-30 MKI fighters, two Russian-made in-flight refuellers, a Russian heavy lift transport aircraft and almost 250 airmen "winged their way halfway across the globe to the deserts of Nevada," to participate in an Exercise Red Flag, held three or four times a year in Nevada and Alaska and "acknowledged to be the most advanced and professionally challenging fighter exercise conducted anywhere in the world." [19]

The exercise marked several precedents: It included the largest single deployment of the Indian Air Force outside India. It was the first time that the air forces of nations not in NATO or those of major non-NATO allies - India and South Korea - participated in Red Flag air combat maneuvers. "It was also the first time that the SU30 MKI, a frontline combat aircraft of Russian design, made its appearance in the American skies and that too in a multi-national congregation." [20]

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/
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