Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has appointed Major-General Uzi Dayan, head of Israel’s National Security Council and a former deputy chief of staff, to lead Israeli military mission in India, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military and intelligence sources.
The appointment is a secret one. Our sources report that Israel-India military exchanges have expanded to the point that a senior general is needed on the spot. His job is to oversee the most hypersensitive aspects of Israeli-Indian military and intelligence cooperation as an Indo-Pakistani war approaches threateningly. For the first time, Israel finds its arms trade and regional strategic interests caught up in a conflict outside the Middle East. Sharon ordered Dayan to stay in India as long as Indo-Pakistani military tensions remain high.
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources, Dayan, in an effort to keep his presence in New Delhi low-key, commutes continuously to other Asian countries, returning to India every few days. He acts as regional commander of the Israeli military presence, with responsibility for coordinating Israeli-Indian military and intelligence activities in the event of war. If one erupts, it will be up him to implement the secret Indian-Israeli strategic agreements on assistance in air, naval and ground combat as well as intelligence and electronic warfare cooperation.
The Israeli general will also have to decide whether to evacuate any of the more than 1,200 Israeli military personnel and Israel Military Industries engineers and technicians currently in India or, conversely, to summon reinforcements.
More than half of this number are stationed in the troubled Kashmir province. One group instructs Indian officers in the operation of the Arrow intercept missile’s Green Pine radar (see additional details in DEBKA-Net-Weekly No. 28, September 7, 2001), the most effective system in India’s arsenal for detecting the launch of a Pakistani nuclear-tipped missile.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources say India’s defense minister George Fernandes recently asked General Dayan to find out if a third Green Pine system was available, even on a year’s loan, for deployment south of New Delhi, across from Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Sindh provinces. This confronted Israel with a dilemma. While eager to become India’s top supplier of advanced weapons systems and enthusiastic about the developing bilateral relationship, Israel will be hard put to find a spare Green Pine system in its emergency anti-missile arsenal – even for tens of millions of dollars – given the perilous Middle East situation, current and potential. Israeli defense chiefs must prepare for a possible US military offensive against Iraq in the coming months bringing forth an Iraqi reprisal against Israeli targets. This radar system was developed as a vital component of Israel’s anti-missile defenses.
Israel will make its decision after checking first with Washington.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Washington and Jerusalem expect Sharon, when he meets President George W. Bush in the White House next Monday, June 10, to explore how far Israel may go with US consent to meet India’s military needs, in view of the fact that the wanted radar instrument is a component of the jointly developed US-Israeli Arrow missile interceptor.
If a third Green Pine delivery is cleared, Israel will have to assign another 150 to 250 engineers and technicians to accompany it to India, bringing the total number of Israeli military personnel in that country to more than 1,500.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources note that this group numbers, aside from the Green Pine operators in Kashmir, several dozen Israeli army electronic warfare experts, who are helping the Indian army set up six monitoring centers along the Line of Control for picking up movements of military forces, armed men and explosives on the Pakistani side and jamming Pakistan’s electronic surveillance instruments trained on Indian territory.
Across the border, Chinese electronic warfare experts are instructing Pakistani officers.
Indian and Israeli military experts, questioned by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources, say some of those Chinese specialists received their electronic warfare training from Israeli instructors in China. The sources rate Chinese electronic equipment as far inferior to India’s.
The Israeli presence in Kashmir also numbers a group of air force personnel who operate Israel-manufactured drones, as well as several dozen counter-terrorism experts. According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources, India is the only country to which Israel has sold drones capable of firing missiles and trained local operators in their use. The pilot-less aircraft can stay aloft for surveillance and interception missions up to 36 hours and penetrate as far as 800 km (500 miles) into Pakistan.
At air bases in western and northern India, Israeli air force flight and bombing instructors are teaching Indian pilots, especially reservists called up for duty, how to use smart bombs and advanced weapons systems correctly and effectively. India recently bought a large stock of “smart” air-to-ground missiles from Israel as well as from other countries, for the carpet-bombing of terror bases and Pakistani military bases in a full-scale war.
This heightened Israeli military presence in India is stoking one of Pakistan’s deepest forebodings. Recalling how Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor to extinction in 198, Pakistani leaders fear the Israeli air force will impart to a select group of Indian flight crews the most advanced methods for destroying atomic reactors and weapons depots. The Pakistani supreme command and military intelligence are in no doubt that Indian aviators have already received such training in Israel and from expert Israeli pilots spending long periods in India.
Iran appears to share this concern.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources say that, in mid-May, Iranian military intelligence asked Pakistan to verify information received that an Israeli bomber squadron had arrived in south India and may have been assigned to knocking out Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr, now in the last stages of construction by the Russians. According to this information, New Delhi may have given the Israeli squadron permission to take off from India on surveillance flights over Iran in exchange for Israel giving Indian pilots courses in special weapons and electronics systems for bombing a reactor.
Israel naval officers are also to be found in naval bases on India’s Arabian Sea coast. Under top-secret naval cooperation accords (see one of the most exclusive and detailed reports on this subject in DEBKA-Net-Weekly 12, May 12, 2001), Israel has supplied Indian with ship-to-ship and cruise missiles, along with instructors, that can hit strategic targets deep inside Pakistani territory. Another secret military cooperation agreement provides for a joint Indian-Israeli naval presence in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean approaches to the Persian Gulf.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources can disclose that Israel has secret, naval, air and electronic surveillance bases in the Red Sea Eritrean Dahlak archipelago, with long-range Boeing 707 AWACs planes based there, as well as a world-class Dolphin submarine or two. Our military sources believe Israel will put its aerial and naval intelligence capabilities at New Delhi’s disposal if a war contingency calls for Indian naval action in the northern Arabian Sea, where it has concentrated the bulk of its fleet.