India and the link
The key source involved in decision making in India's security apparatus, Admiral Dennis Blair, then head of the US Pacific Command, was dispatched to New Delhi to present the US demands. The demands were fleet support for US military ships in Mumbai and Goa, 'stage-through' facility at Indian Air Force bases for US long range bombers and Indian ground troops in Afghanistan.
The demands were placed in the last week of November 2001 when Admiral Dennis Blair visited New Delhi and met the government top brass, including then defence minister George Fernandes, then national security advisor Brajesh Mishra and Admiral Sushil Kumar, then Naval chief and chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Blair's demands came after the US and the UK had started their war against terror in Afghanistan on October 7 to overthrow the Taliban regime that had refused to stop providing sanctuary to al Qaeda. Though Kabul had by then fallen, the decisive part of the war had only begun. Ten years on, the US operations in Afghanistan are still on.
The source said the three demands of Admiral Blair were placed before the cabinet committee on security chaired by PM Vajpayee, and attended by then home minister L K Advani, Fernandes, external affairs minister Jaswant Singh, Mishra and military chiefs.
The meeting saw at least two members of the CCS making "vigorous pitch" for accepting the three US demands. "They cited the global war on terror and wanted us to join without any conditions," the source said.
As the debate heated up, Vajpayee said, "Let's listen to our military chiefs" and turned to the three service chiefs. Admiral Kumar as the chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee took the opportunity to air the views of the three service chiefs and put forth the Force's opposition to US proposals. The counter argument was that US and its allies operations in Afghanistan did not enjoy UN mandate and also India had not declared war on Afghanistan.
The UN Security Council would approve the setting up of the International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan only on December 20 — almost a month after the NDA-led government debated the US request for military assistance.