"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 - "...as 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.'
We'd prefer to discuss this after we learn more, rather than waste your time with elaborate theories spun out of nothing ("Orbat.com's military sources say..."). But the following points are immediately apparent.
For the new US administration, this offer would be heaven-sent and just making it would put the US Government in debt to the Indians - "your other friends/allies talked, we walked." The administration could turn around to to its own people, and say: "Americans, you complain we are carrying the Afghan burden by ourselves, now we have a partner."
At Orbat.com we've been constantly talking about the need for more manpower; well, here you have a whacking big increment of manpower. With US/Allied troops it takes one to 75% of what Orbat.com considers a minimum force if Afghanistan is to be won.
In one deft swoop, India forces the Americans to chose Delhi over Islamabad. To the Indians the constant US attempt to "balance" the two countries has been a source of serious blood pressure since the 1940s; obviously if the Americans accept it has to be India First from now on and Pakistan gets marginalized. Moreover, the Indians put America up the creek without the paddle regarding Pakistan: "what is it your so-called ally is doing, compared to what we are willing to do."
The devious cunning of the Indian move becomes more apparent when you consider if the US government refuses, the American people are going to get on the Government's case: "The Indians are offering and you're still sticking with those slimey two-timers the Pakistanis?"
For India, offering a huge contingent takes the pressure off the Indian government to act aggressively against Pakistan. India does not have a launch a single sortie against Pakistan to punish it for acting against India. Indian government can tell its own people: "What good will a pinprick do? The Israelis have been bashing up the Palestinians for two decades, and where are the results? What we are doing is to strike a hard blow at Pakistan without crossing the Pakistan border and getting beat up by everyone for provoking war."
Plus 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.
But right now a lot of American decision-makers do not care if Pakistan is offended because they see the latter has no interest in fighting the insurgents or helping the US against the Taliban. Once alternate supply routes are available, US can write off Pakistan and as a consequence, paradoxically, vastly increase its leverage in that country.
As for Pakistani/jihadi retaliation against India or the Indian contingent in Afghanistan, we've said before the Indians don't care. Their point is India is squarely in the sights of the jihadis: India is already under severe, sustained attack and unable to retaliate. As for the security of the Indian troops, that really is the last thing the Indians are concerned about. They want to go to Afghanistan to fight, not to protect their troops against suicide bombers.
Two other minor points in passing. By making this offer, India takes the wind out of Pakistan's sails because the latter has very successful turned the world's attention from the Bombay atrocity to getting the world to stop escalation between India and Pakistan. Every day that goes by, India has less diplomatic/geopolitical freedom to hit Pakistan. But if India has offered several divisions for Afghanistan, obviously the last thing the Indians are thinking of is attacking Pakistan - 3/4th of the Army troops (as opposed to the CI troops) India is earmarking for Afghanistan are from the three strike corps. So India undercuts Pakistani claims that Delhi is preparing to attack.
The second point we find interesting. PRC knows if Pakistan falls to the jihadis, Sinkiang is the next target. By offering to go to Afghanistan, India is directly helping Beijing. Which puts Beijing in a very awkward spot as India is a big rival for influence in Asia. Not only will Indians be helping PRC, if China does send troops to Afghanistan, Delhi will canoodle with Washington without competition from China. The Chinese will have no choice but to join the Afghan venture or lose influence in South and Central Asia, and with Washington.
To sum up: Orbat.com has been second to none in bashing the Government of India as incompetent and impotent. But with this offer, India has overnight changed the rules of game in South/Central Asia and struck a potentially fatal blow at Pakistan. In the end, this could become much, much bigger by an order of magnitude than breaking off East Pakistan in 1971."