A The Russian invasion of Ukraine offers several lessons to the Quad countries.
Q What has been negligence on part of NATO ?
This article is admittedly written in hindsight, but there is a continuing thread to the western blunders in the approach to dealing with Moscow, particularly concerning Putin.
He has had a dramatic rise in the political hierarchy of Moscow, with many of his successes unexplained but for the strong behind-the-scenes backing of the FSB.
Unfortunately, it was ignored in the West, and particularly in Europe, which was busy with civilianising and militarily downgrading NATO.
The western leaders were overcome with hubris and dismantled the military intellectual content of NATO headquarters, reducing NATO forces to a rapid reaction force under the political control of a civilian secretary-general.
The West, therefore, failed to connect Putin’s invasion of Georgia with his continuing vision to fight the regime change in Ukraine in 2015.
Q What can Quad learn?
War in Indo-Pacific will be maritime war: War in the Indo-Pacific will be a maritime war fought in accordance with maritime strategy and space assets.
The greatest difference is that peaceful maritime reconnaissance is a legitimate activity with the help of which situational awareness can be built up, enabling the delivery of a crippling conventional first strike in the first stages of a possible conflict.
Avoid making Quad a diplomatic grouping: To call the Quad a “diplomatic grouping” is a catastrophic error.
Implication of calling Quad a diplomatic grouping: In actual fact, the Quad, is all about maritime domain awareness, underwater domain awareness, and information sharing — all of them purely naval activities, which need continuous communication (that is catered for), a command organisation and a secretariat, neither of which we have because Quad is a diplomatic grouping.
The military is trained to think structurally, cast future scenarios, do contingent planning, find alternatives and plan for victory. Diplomats have no such background.
Confusing Beijing by calling it a diplomatic grouping will certainly lead to a misunderstanding of the Quad nations’ resolve and possible Chinese adventurism.
Q What can be the Way forward ?
The Quad needs to be represented by the owners of the maritime assets used to obtain domain awareness and a staff with command communications and a depth of intellectual planning.
The great maritime strength of the Quad is its force of Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
Japan and the US are particularly rich in those resources.
India’s force of P-81s is substantial and with the help of Australia, a maritime domain awareness can be built up that denies the PLA navy the chance to hide in the vastness of the ocean.
The Indo-US communication agreement was presumably established to keep the four-nation search group on a common grid.
Quad meetings should be headed by naval officers, with diplomatic support.