There has been a palpable decline in the standards of morals, ethics and values as observed by officers in the armed forces and the bond between officers and men has weakened.
By abstaining from voting on the global arms trade treaty, India has exposed the treaty’s loopholes in not addressing concerns about illegal transfer of arms to terrorist organisations, insurgents groups and other non-state actors.
The security deficit can be filled to a large extent by Afghanistan’s neighbours if they can be persuaded to accept the responsibility, including by contributing troops to a UN-mandated peacekeeping force.
The terrorist strike on Minhas airbase in Kamra on August 16, in which one Pakistani soldier and nine terrorists were killed, is but the latest manifestation of the state’s inability to protect even its vital military installations.
Unless the Central Asian states, China, India, Iran, Pakistan and Russia jointly contribute towards ensuring stability, Afghanistan is likely to fall to the Taliban again or even break up.
India’s intelligence co-ordination and assessment apparatus at the national level and counter-terrorism policies remain mired in the days of innocence.
India should seek a regional solution to the Afghan conflict, involving a regional force under a UN flag to provide a stable environment for governance and development till the Afghan National Army can take over.
Manpower costs are increasingly becoming unmanageable and are driving national security planners towards thinking creatively about what used to be called ‘affordable defence’.
The most important though understated aspect of Obama’s visit to India was the forward movement on almost all facets of defence cooperation.
Since the US and its allies have no additional troops to contribute for the fight against the radical extremist forces in Afghanistan, the net must be enlarged to include military contributions from Afghanistan’s regional neighbours, perhaps under a UN flag.