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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame & the Tamil Eelam Struggle for Freedom > US - India - China - Sri Lanka - Pakistan: Matrix

INTERNATIONAL FRAME &
THE STRUGGLE for Tamil Eelam

US - India - China - Sri Lanka - Pakistan:  Matrix

[Comment by tamilnation.org The original title of the article by Rahul Bedi was "US marines to train Sri Lankan navy".  We have changed the title to "US - India - China - Sri Lanka - Pakistan:  Matrix" because we feel that that better reflects the uneasy balance of power that prevails in the Indian Ocean Region today - and which Rahul Bedi's well written article served to bring to the surface.  "In mathematics, a matrix (plural matrices) is a rectangular table of numbers or, more generally, a table consisting of abstract quantities that can be added and multiplied. Matrices can be added, multiplied, and decomposed in various ways, making them a key concept in linear algebra and matrix theory" - Wikipedia]

Rahul Bedi, 25 October 2006 http://www.nerve.in

" US Marines will conduct exercises with the Sri Lanka Navy later this month, deploying more than 1,000 personnel and support ships for amphibious and counter-insurgency manoeuvres with the aim of 'containing' growing Chinese presence in the region and to test its latest theories on 'littoral battle' without putting American soldiers at risk.... The US and India.. have long eyed with trepidation China's 'string of pearls' strategy in the Indian Ocean Region of clinching regional defence and security agreements to secure its mounting energy requirements, enhance its military profile from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea and significantly expand its presence and visibility in the area. 'With the US now India's most coveted ally, New Delhi is unlikely to object to Washington neatly tying up various strategic bonds to fully dominate the Asian region,' a senior Indian security officer said. In turn, India hopes to profit from its growing military relations with the US, he added..." Rahul Bedi

[Comment by tamilnation.org  But see also

1. India's Project Seabird and Indian Ocean's Balance of Power, PINR, 20 July 2005  " The dynamics of the region still call for a balance of power approach rather than a straight alliance...Washington has often touted the "natural alliance" between the two expansive, multi-ethnic democracies, but it is on military issues that India would most like to develop its relationship with the U.S... (Indian foreign policy) is to be assessed in light of two geopolitical triangles juxtaposing on the Indian Ocean's background: U.S.-India-China relations and China-Pakistan-India relations. In this complicated geopolitical configuration, New Delhi is not simply a partner of China or the United States: India is emerging as a major power that follows its own grand strategy in order to enhance its power and interests."

2. LTTE Attacks Galle Naval Base & US Cancels Joint Naval Exercise with Sri Lanka, 18 -20 October 2006]


US Marines will conduct exercises with the Sri Lanka Navy later this month, deploying more than 1,000 personnel and support ships for amphibious and counter-insurgency manoeuvres with the aim of 'containing' growing Chinese presence in the region and to test its latest theories on 'littoral battle' without putting American soldiers at risk.

Military sources said the joint exercises involving the 15 Marine Expeditionary Unit on the beaches in Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka are taking place where the Chinese plan on building oil and harbour facilities that were ravaged by the tsunami two years ago.

'Whilst the manoeuvres will put the Tamil Tigers on notice to engage seriously in the upcoming peace talks in Geneva, the location of the exercise clearly indicates that India too has signed off on the venture as a subtle warning to the Chinese not to unduly intrude upon the Indian Ocean Region (IOR),' Brigadier Arun Sahgal of the United Service Institution of India told IANS.

For Sri Lanka, however, US Marine training in amphibious warfare will equip its navy to counter the Sea Tigers, the world's only insurgent force with an aggressively operational naval wing that deploys custom-built boats which were launched in a suicide attack on the southern port of Galle Oct 18.

The US and India, however, have long eyed with trepidation China's 'string of pearls' strategy in the IOR of clinching regional defence and security agreements to secure its mounting energy requirements, enhance its military profile from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea and significantly expand its presence and visibility in the area.

Meeting with senior Indian military officials including the three Service Chiefs in New Delhi earlier this week, US Pacific Commander Admiral William J. Fallon conceded as much when he expressed concern over Beijing's military build up in the region.

But India and the US have frequently reiterated that their new-found strategic partnership is not aimed at countervailing China's proliferating military, especially naval expansion.

But Indian defence planners disagree.

They also claim that though India exercises limited influence in the region, it remains the dominant, albeit 'hesitant', naval power and consequently has been 'anointed' Washington's junior partner in the IOR.

The US along with other members of the Sri Lankan Donors Group, which assist with the country's post-tsunami rebuilding and in brokering peace talks between the government and the separatist Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE), have been known to frequently consult with India on Colombo-related security matters.

Washington has also long harboured a strategic interest in Sri Lanka, centred around eastern Trincomalee port, which it looks upon as a staging point for its naval assets stationed in and around its Diego Garcia base in the Indian Ocean.

And to gain access to the 'strategic jewel' that is Trincomalee, one of the world's biggest natural deep-sea harbours, the US has 'persuaded' India to step in as Washington's 'proxy' to extend its influence over the port without overtly arousing suspicion of superpower hegemony. Located on the busy East-West shipping route stretching from the Suez Canal to the Malacca Straits, Trincomalee controls the Indian Ocean.

Earlier, through a combination of diplomacy, bullying and astute bargaining, a paranoid India had for several decades managed to prevent outside powers - especially the US - from gaining access to Trincomalee.

During the Cold war years, the US had wanted to station a Voice of America transmitter in Sri Lanka as a precursor to using its warships using the harbour. But close Soviet-ally India steadfastly opposed any such move.

One of the key clauses of the 1987 accord that led to the deployment of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka to disarm the Tamil Tigers declared that Trincomalee - particularly its oil tanks, located around 20 km from the Indian coast - would not be controlled by any foreign power 'inimical' to India.

But after 9/11 things changed and even more so recently with India and the US strategically and militarily coming closer.

The US has acknowledged the Indian Navy as a 'stabilizing force' in IOR and wants a closer working relationship with it that includes arrangements to patrol the sea-lanes from the North Arabian Sea to the Malacca Straits off the Singapore coast.

Consequently, in a quiet, 35-year deal clinched with Sri Lanka - with US approval - the state-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) hammered out a Rs.200 million ($4.16 million) agreement in 2002 to refurbish the voluminous oil tanks at Trincomalee for the first time after World War II when British warships used it for refuelling.

Providing the entire operation protection at Trincomalee are US-trained Sri Lankan soldiers. Under Operation Balanced Style US, Sea Air Land Forces (SEALS) specialists have trained Sri Lankan army and navy personnel in security techniques to protect Trincomalee. Sri Lankan police teams have also attended anti-terrorism courses in the US with emphasis on bomb disposal and US military cooperation has also been quietly extended to the island's air force that operates a wide range of Israeli-made combat aircraft.

It is well known that the US Navy has long been looking for access to a strategically located South Asian port for its Fifth Fleet, established in 1996 for permanent deployment in the Indian Ocean to bolster the US Middle East Force, increasing in tactical and strategic importance after the Iraq invasion.

US missile strikes during the war in Afghanistan were executed, amongst others, by Fifth Fleet warships, clearly demonstrating America's ability to exercise military power against littoral states deep inland.

'With the US now India's most coveted ally, New Delhi is unlikely to object to Washington neatly tying up various strategic bonds to fully dominate the Asian region,' a senior Indian security officer said. In turn, India hopes to profit from its growing military relations with the US, he added.
 

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