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‘Promoting peace and maintaining stability’: the evolution of the Bangladesh Navy April 15, 2013

Posted by aungsi in : Bangladesh, DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This article originally appeared in South Asia Defence and Strategic Review

As a Bay of Bengal littoral state Bangladesh has strong maritime interests. Increasingly, Bangladesh has recognised the importance of its maritime domain and the requirement to augment its Navy to secure and project its regional interests. Bangladesh Navy chief, Vice Admiral Zahir Uddin Ahmed spoke to Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe about the navy’s changing responsibilities, maritime security challenges, efforts to mitigate the effect of natural disasters and the need for naval diplomacy.

Vice Admiral Zahir Uddin Ahmed (right) and Vice Admiral Anil Chopra of the Eastern Naval Command, India. Source: http://indiannavy.nic.in/

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Australian military expands Indo-Pacific profile April 9, 2013

Posted by aungsi in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, South Asia - General , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This interview first appeared in The Diplomat on March 13, 2013

Emerging out of a decade of coalition military intervention in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is now focused on initiatives to engage the strategic Indo-Pacific region. General David Hurley, the chief of the ADF, spoke to Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe about defence cooperation with the United States, engagement with Asia-Pacific and South Pacific regions, the implementation of the Force Posture Review’s recommendations, initiatives to engage with the Indian Ocean region, and what Australia’s withdrawal from East Timor, Solomon Islands and Afghanistan ultimately means.

Source:

General David Hurley (Source: defence.gov.au)

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‘A continuum of security requirements’: The US Pacific Command and the rise of the Indian Ocean April 3, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, India, South Asia - General , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

As the US refocuses its attention to the Asia Pacific region, it is also seeking to augment its presence in the unstable and heavily contested Indian Ocean Region. Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, who commands the US Pacific Command, or PACOM, talked to Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe on the programme he is spearheading to reposition the US military footing towards the Indian Ocean and the revitalised strategy to engage South Asia and Australia.

How is the Indian Ocean of relevance to the US Asia Pacific rebalance?

Admiral Locklear: Whether the name is Indo-Pacific or something else, when I am sitting in my office looking at a pretty detailed chart of my entire jurisdiction, I view it as a continuum of security requirements, not broken down by historical perspectives of the different oceans. I think ‘one continuum’ is a good concept. However, it’s not just about the Indian Ocean. It’s about the connectivity of these large economies, the large core populations, and how things have to move.

Take that to the next level and you have the cyber commons and the space commons. Ships and airplanes travelling across the Indian Ocean, whether it be to the Arabian Gulf or through the Straits of Malacca, are critical for trade and flow of energy sources. The PACOM helps protect these routes.  (more…)

Pakistan: fallout over NATO supply route escalates May 29, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Afghanistan, DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, Pakistan , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

Although there has been recent progress in cross-border cooperation, the modalities of a revised agreement between Pakistan and the US to re-establish a NATO supply route, have escalated domestic and regional tensions.

On Friday last week, after six months of stand-off, Pakistan for the first time authorised a US supply convoy to pass into Afghanistan, with office supplies destined for Kabul. The symbolic cross-over, however, after months of ongoing tension, has not resulted in the recommencement of the NATO supply route, a goal much desired by the US.

Since the imposition of the blockade, US and NATO forces in Afghanistan have been compelled to use the Northern Distribution Network. This is a series of alternative, and more costly, supply routes that transit through the Caucasus, Central Asia and Russia. The US is also eager to resume the NATO supply route through Pakistan to facilitate the withdrawal of its forces and military equipment from Afghanistan by 2014.

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Pakistan’s 21st Century naval modernisation programme May 11, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This article first appeared here on the Future Directions International web site on 9 May 2012.

Background

In spite of progress being made to enhance bilateral ties, geopoltical rivalry between Pakistan and India continues to escalate. The most recent example was demonstrated by the launch of India’s Agni-5 nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile, which was closely followed by the launch Pakistan’s Hatf-4 Shaheen-1A nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile. While this strategic rivalry has been notable on land, escalation in the maritime domain has made Pakistan increasing concerned at India’s unprecedented plans to modernise its navy.

Pakistan navy Tariq class frigate

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Implications of India’s long-range missile capabilities May 4, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This post first appeared on Future Directions International on 2 May 2012.

Background

As the latest addition to India’s expanding arsenal, the launch of the Agni-5 long-range missile on 19 April is another step forward in the diversification of India’s nuclear strike capabilities. While India celebrates its technological achievement, the development of a nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile, with an estimated range of 5,000 kilometres or 3,100 miles, is likely to intensify strategic competition between Pakistan and China, which have viewed these developments with reservation.

Comment

Although senior Indian officials publicly say that the Agni-5 is for deterrence purposes only, India has a clear rationale behind the missile’s development, which is to: demonstrate its expanding strategic strike capabilities, impress the world’s major powers that possess intercontinental missiles and deliver a strong message to Pakistan and China. (more…)

Zardari-Singh dialogue: future implications April 14, 2012

Posted by auriolweigold in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sergei Desilva-Ranasinghe

This post first appeared on Future Directions International on 11 April 2012.

Background

In the first visit by a Pakistani President to India in seven years, President Asif Ali Zardari met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Sunday, 8 April to examine potential to reduce tensions and enhance frayed ties. In doing so, the twoleaders emphasised their respective desire to normalise bilateral ties, which has the prospect of heralding a new and perhaps radically different era in the years ahead.

Comment

Since 2004, India and Pakistan have held a series of high-level meetings with the aim of diminishing regional tensions. Despite the failings of the previous September 2008 meeting between President Zardari and PM Singh, where negotiations were suspended two months later after Pakistan-based Islamist militants were implicated in terrorist attacks against India.

Yet, in spite of these ongoing setbacks that have characterised inter-state relations, both countries have continued to pursue negotiations. Pakistan’s willingness to engage India by consolidating trading ties is seen by some commentators as a “paradigm shift” in the nation’s policy, which has also received the endorsement of the Pakistani military. Similarly, India has also chosen to continue negotiations in the face of continued extremist provocations and is equally open to enhancing economic co-operation and two-trade. (more…)

Pakistan and Russia seek enhanced cooperation March 24, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Afghanistan, DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Serge Desilva Ranasinghe

This post first appeared on Future Directions International on 21 March 2012.

Background

As part of its changing foreign policy focus, Pakistan’s rapprochement with Russia is one of its most significant attempts to shape the post-2014 geo-political order in Afghanistan. Islamabad is looking to alternative strategic partners to counterbalance India’s rising influence in Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Middle East and its own strained ties with the US. In this context, the recent visit to Moscow of Pakistani Foreign Minister Ms Hina Rabbani Khar on 7-9 February is symbolic of the rapidly transforming relationship between Islamabad and Moscow.

Comment

Such bilateral interaction is a significant departure from the acrimonious 1980s and 1990s, when Pakistan heavily supported the Afghan Mujahadeen against invading Russian forces in Afghanistan and accused Russia of covertly supporting Baluchi separatists. Similarly, Russia had also accused Pakistan of providing support to Islamist insurgents active in Chechnya and Tajikistan.

In Moscow, the Pakistani Foreign Minister relayed her country’s growing interest in developing stronger ties with Russia through trade and investment, especially in the areas of joint co-operation in Pakistan’s energy sector. The visit is indicative of the vastly improved bilateral relations between the two countries over the last decade. For example, according to the website of the Consulate-General of Russia in Karachi, two-way trade between Russia and Pakistan increased from a minute US$92 million in 2003, to US$441 million in 2006 and US$630 million in 2008.

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‘A third of the RAN is based in the Indian Ocean’ Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, Chief of the Royal Australian Navy March 14, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, South Asia - General , comments closed

Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe

An FDI Feature Interview first published on 12 March 2012

Key Points
–      One third of the RAN operates in the Indian Ocean.
–      HMAS Stirling, located in Western Australia, is the RAN’s largest base.
–      While the Asia-Pacific will continue to remain critically important, the Indian Ocean has markedly risen in importance to the RAN.

Summary

At a time of economic turbulence and escalating regional geopolitical challenges the Royal Australian Navy’s chief, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, recently spoke with Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe about the Navy’s ongoing commitments to maritime security in the Pacific Ocean, the increasing pre-eminence of the Indian Ocean, and the dynamics of the Australian defence department’s ongoing Force Posture Review.

Read this interview – Vice Admiral Ray Griggs,A Third of the RAN is in the Indian Ocean’

Another bead in the ‘string of pearls’?: interpreting Sri Lanka’s foreign policy realignment February 24, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, India, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Sergei De Silva-Ranasinghe

In this article, Sergei De Silva-Ranasinghe argues that India should be differentiated from the West in analysing Sri Lanka’s apparent drift towards a strategic relationship with China.  The West’s diminishing influence in relation to China should be seen as a manifestation of its overall decline.  Not so with India, which seeks to balance China’s involvement with Sri Lanka, and which also has a dynamic, on-going aid and trade relationship with the strategically placed island.  To read the article in Issue 19 of ChinaSecurity click here.