18 In­dia Equips It­self to Deal With a More Dan­ger­ous Neigh­bor­hood

Global Asia - - CONTENTS - By Di­pankar Ban­er­jee

how the na­tion has been forced to re­spond to the pres­sure for mil­i­tary mod­ern­izatin.

Rapidly grow­ing pop­u­la­tions, strong eco­nomic growth, au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes and China’s sud­den rise are giv­ing rise to se­cu­rity anx­i­eties in Asia. ‘This has seen an in­cip­i­ent arms race in the re­gion, led by China. Where is this headed and what mo­ti­vates coun­tries to ac­quire arms at the ex­pense of de­vel­op­ment?’ asks re­tired In­dian Army Ma­jor Gen­eral Di­pankar Ban­er­jee. He ex­plains In­dia’s re­sponse to the pres­sure for mil­i­tary mod­ern­iza­tion. IN­DIA Presents an in­ter­est­ing study of why and how a na­tion mod­ern­izes its mil­i­tary and bal­ances its strate­gic con­cerns and na­tional in­ter­ests against limited re­sources and the many fi­nan­cial de­mands on a democ­racy. this in a rapidly chang­ing asia and the world, where the re­gion’s eco­nomic resur­gence is likely to be in in­creas­ing con­flict with China’s even faster rise.

to un­der­stand the chal­lenges of mod­ern­iz­ing In­dia’s mil­i­tary, it is nec­es­sary to briefly ex­am­ine re­cent his­tory. With in­de­pen­dence in 1947, the former Bri­tish In­dian army split into two parts — a third go­ing to Pakistan and the rest re­main­ing with In­dia. In­dia’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, Ma­hatma Gandhi and Jawa­har­lal nehru among oth­ers, se­ri­ously con­sid­ered whether to have an army at all. new Delhi had no ter­ri­to­rial claims on oth­ers and they could not vi­su­al­ize why another coun­try should be hos­tile to­ward a peace­ful na­tion like In­dia. the Pakistan-backed tribal at­tack in Kash­mir in 1947 set­tled that ques­tion, but mod­ern­iz­ing the mil­i­tary was still not on the agenda.

noth­ing changed for more than a decade. then in 1962, the In­dian army con­fronted China’s Peo­ple’s lib­er­a­tion army (Pla) in the hi­malayas with First World War weaponry, no cloth­ing for the ex­treme win­ter and high-al­ti­tude con­di­tions, limited doc­tri­nal ground­ing and lit­tle spe­cial train­ing. the pow­er­ful shock of de­feat com­pelled the na­tion to se­ri­ously re-ex­am­ine its de­fense pol­icy. the will to mod­ern­ize its armed forces has since not been in doubt, but the re­sources to do so have been scarce.

In­dia un­der nehru fol­lowed an in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy, of­ten de­fined as “non-align­ment.”

this pre­cluded join­ing any power bloc or mil­i­tary al­liance and re­lied on In­dia’s own re­sources and tech­nol­ogy to de­fend the coun­try and mod­ern­ize its armed forces. Progress was slow and halt­ing. But it was enough for In­dia to suc­cess­fully de­fend it­self against a Western-equipped Pakistan army in 1965 and lib­er­ate Bangladesh from a geno­ci­dal civil war in 1971. si­mul­ta­ne­ously, In­dia carved out a name for it­self since 1948 by par­tic­i­pat­ing in the largest num­ber of un peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions around the world. this was in ad­di­tion to coun­ter­ing nu­mer­ous in­sur­gen­cies within In­dia, demon­strat­ing the use of min­i­mum force and po­lit­i­cal ac­com­mo­da­tion to re­store or­der.

Much of this changed in 2014, when the new gov­ern­ment un­der the na­tion­al­ist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gave a fresh di­rec­tion to In­dia’s for­eign and se­cu­rity pol­icy. this was pos­si­ble only af­ter eco­nomic growth for nearly two-and-a-half decades since 1991 lifted much of the na­tion from poverty. sus­tain­ing and even in­creas­ing this rate of growth, as ex­pected, will see In­dia’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct in pur­chas­ing­power par­ity (PPP) terms be­come the third high­est in the world be­hind China and the us within two decades. By 2050, ac­cord­ing to some global pro­jec­tions, it could ex­ceed that of the us.

Prime Min­is­ter naren­dra Modi has now called on the na­tion to no longer be con­tent with a global role as an “emerg­ing power” or a “strate­gic bal­ancer,” hedg­ing its bets and keep­ing its op­tions open in­def­i­nitely. In­stead, his am­bi­tion is for In­dia to as­sume the role of a coun­try that has al­ready emerged as an in­de­pen­dent player on the world stage with the fol­low­ing changes in pol­icy: •A com­mit­ment to its im­me­di­ate neigh­bors on se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment through Project sa­gar (se­cu­rity and Growth for all in the Re­gion); • As­sur­ing the larger neigh­bor­hood that In­dia will be a “net se­cu­rity provider” against nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and wider se­cu­rity chal­lenges; • A com­mit­ment to part­ner with ma­jor coun­tries to main­tain a peace­ful and demo­cratic world or­der, help se­cure the global com­mons, pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and keep open vi­tal lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion at sea for free and open trade.

Mod­els of Mil­i­tary Mod­ern­iza­tion

there are two dis­tinct paths for an emerg­ing na­tion to mod­ern­ize its mil­i­tary. the more com­mon way is through a mil­i­tary al­liance or be­com­ing part of a se­cu­rity coali­tion. lead coun­tries within the al­liance then pro­vide their al­lies the bulk of mil­i­tary equip­ment and tech­nol­ogy and guide their doc­trine, strat­egy and train­ing.

the other way is for a na­tion to de­pend en­tirely on its own com­pe­tence and ca­pa­bil­ity. In­dia’s in­de­pen­dent for­eign and se­cu­rity pol­icy has pre­cluded the pos­si­bil­ity of join­ing an al­liance. In­stead, In­dia has adopted the path of self-re­liance. si­mul­ta­ne­ously, it ac­quired weapons and tech­nol­ogy on a case-by-case ba­sis as op­por­tu­ni­ties arose. In the ini­tial years, new Delhi de­pended on the soviet union, par­tic­u­larly for fighter air­craft, heli­copters, mis­siles, medium ar­tillery and tanks. to­day, though, In­dia reaches out much more widely, par­tic­u­larly to the us, France, Ger­many and Is­rael for tech­nol­ogy and ad­vanced weaponry.

Mo­tives for Mil­i­tary Mod­ern­iza­tion

In­dia’s de­fense plan­ning is based on its as­sess­ment of threats to its ter­ri­tory and its core val­ues and in­ter­ests. these are es­sen­tially four.

First is China to the north. In­dia shares with it a long bor­der across the hi­malayan moun­tain ranges that is dis­puted over its en­tire length and where the two coun­tries fought a war in 1962. though not an ac­tive bor­der to­day in the sense of reg­u­lar mil­i­tary en­gage­ments, it is still one where un­armed con­fronta­tions take place reg­u­larly. Forces re­main de­ployed over much of its

en­tire length of about 4,000 kilo­me­ters. a ma­jor 72-day stand­off took place in au­gust-oc­to­ber 2017 in the tri-junc­tion of the bor­ders of In­dia, Bhutan and China on the Dok­lam Plateau at an al­ti­tude of 13,000 ft.

China has the world’s largest armed forces, which are rapidly mod­ern­iz­ing and dra­mat­i­cally re­or­ga­niz­ing. It also has the third-largest nu­clear ar­se­nal in the world. Its navy is at­tempt­ing to breach the “first is­land chain” off the east asian con­ti­nen­tal main­land coast. It re­cently ac­quired one air­craft car­rier and plans to build at least another five fairly quickly. It has a large and rapidly ex­pand­ing sub­ma­rine force in­clud­ing bal­lis­tic mis­sile sub­marines (ss­bns). Its grow­ing air force has re­cently de­ployed a first-gen­er­a­tion stealth com­bat air­craft (J-20). Its ground forces are the largest in the world. Re­cent ac­qui­si­tions point to­ward ad­vanced space-based ca­pa­bil­i­ties, in­clud­ing anti-satel­lite weapons and a wide range and va­ri­ety of long-range bal­lis­tic and cruise mis­siles. China’s de­fense bud­get has been in­creas­ing an­nu­ally at an av­er­age rate of ap­prox­i­mately dou­ble dig­its and is to­day the sec­ond largest in the world af­ter the us.1 China’s mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­ity re­mains the prin­ci­pal chal­lenge to In­dian de­fense.

the sec­ond threat to In­dia arises from Pakistan. It has ini­ti­ated four con­ven­tional wars against In­dia in the last 70 years, the last one in Kargil in 1999. War in afghanistan since 1979 has trans­formed Pakistan into an Is­lamic state and it is to­day an epi­cen­ter for rad­i­cal re­li­gious ji­had. It has tar­geted Kash­mir since 1989, where it car­ries out a con­tin­u­ous proxy war. the line of Con­trol (loc) in Kash­mir is rou­tinely vi­o­lated by ter­ror­ists launch­ing at­tacks on In­dia. nu­mer­ous cross­bor­der at­tacks have been con­ducted against other parts of In­dia also, notably on the In­dian Par­lia­ment in Delhi in De­cem­ber 2001 and on an iconic Mumbai ho­tel in 2008. Pakistan’s close al­liance with China and re­ceipt of mil­i­tary, nu­clear and other tech­no­log­i­cal as­sis­tance from Bei­jing, has made the two a de-facto mil­i­tary al­liance.

the third chal­lenge for In­dia is in­ter­nal. to the chal­lenge of an ex­ist­ing left-wing armed move­ment and some fringe sep­a­ratist groups has been added Is­lamic rad­i­cal­ism. Orig­i­nat­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally, it is sup­ported and co-or­di­nated against In­dia from Pakistan. this has em­bold­ened Is­lamic state to de­clare In­dia as the new the­ater of war in its global ex­pan­sion. De­fense plan­ners in In­dia have thus to con­front a two-and-a-half­front threat sce­nario.2 Po­lice and cen­tral armed po­lice forces counter all in­ter­nal threats un­der the home Min­istry, with the reg­u­lar army called in dur­ing ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances.

the fourth threat is the larger chal­lenge from the oceans. In­dia faces the ara­bian sea and the Bay of Ben­gal on ei­ther side with the In­dian Ocean fur­ther south; link­ing up with the Pa­cific in the east. this re­al­ity has led to a new def­i­ni­tion of In­dia’s strate­gic en­vi­ron­ment as en­com­pass­ing the “Indo-pa­cific.” Given In­dia’s grow­ing pro­file as a trad­ing na­tion, its de­pen­dence on the seas has grown ex­po­nen­tially. Re­cent years have al­tered the strate­gic en­vi­ron­ment in the oceans around In­dia. Re­duced us pres­ence, pre­vi­ously seen in the re­gion as sta­bi­liz­ing, has been re­placed by China’s rapid mar­itime ex­pan­sion. Pi­rates in the Mid­dle east and in south­east asia add another se­cu­rity chal­lenge to In­dian com­merce.

Mil­i­tary doc­trine and strate­gies

ac­cord­ing to a 1980s Min­istry of De­fence direc­tive, In­dia’s mil­i­tary doc­trine is one of “dis­sua­sive de­ter­rence” against Pakistan and “dis­sua­sive de­fense” to­ward China. this en­tails a lin­ear de­fen­sive pos­ture close to the bor­der to dis­suade ingress. Im­me­di­ately be­hind are counter at­tack forces to re­store a sit­u­a­tion. De­ter­rence will be pro­vided by ma­jor of­fen­sive re­serves ca­pa­ble of pen­e­trat­ing deep in­side hos­tile ter­ri­tory. this

ex­ists in the plains against Pakistan. In­dia does not have this pos­ture against China, even though one strike corps of two divi­sions has been raised re­cently for this pur­pose.

Con­sid­er­ing China’s con­tin­ued nu­clear-weapons ca­pa­bil­ity since 1964, In­dia was left with no op­tion but to ac­quire nu­clear weapons for strate­gic de­ter­rence en­tirely through its own ef­forts. a se­ries of five tests of low- to medium-yield fis­sion bombs were con­ducted in May 1998. It has also in­dige­nously de­vel­oped mis­siles, from the short range Prithvi (150-350km) to the in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal agni (5,500km) and a few in be­tween. One is the BRAH­MOS cruise mis­sile de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Rus­sia, all ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing a nu­clear war­head. In­dia has adopted a nu­clear doc­trine of “no First use” and “no use” against a

Mil­i­tary mod­ern­iza­tion also in­cludes up­dat­ing doc­trines, train­ing and re­struc­tur­ing of the de­fense forces and a sup­port­ing mil­i­tary in­dus­try. All these are con­stantly un­der re­view and the In­dian armed forces have a large num­ber of mod­ern train­ing in­sti­tu­tions and es­tab­lish­ments fo­cus­ing on these ar­eas.

non-nu­clear state, and a de­clared pol­icy of “Min­i­mum Cred­i­ble De­ter­rence.” It en­sures an as­sured and ef­fec­tive sec­ond-strike ca­pa­bil­ity through air­craft, mis­siles and sub­ma­rine de­liv­ery sys­tems.

there were some dis­cus­sions in­ter­na­tion­ally re­gard­ing a pos­si­ble “Cold start” doc­trine in In­dia’s western sec­tor against Pakistan. this was sup­posed to be a pre-emp­tive at­tack by In­dia which might lead to early and pos­si­bly nu­clear war-fight­ing. In­dian au­thor­i­ties have strongly re­futed this. In­dia has not ini­ti­ated hos­tile op­er­a­tions against any ad­ver­sary in re­cent his­tory and is com­mit­ted not to do so. Be­sides, its nu­clear doc­trine is firmly one of “no first use,” where any change would not be sup­ported by its force struc­tures.

Mil­i­tary mod­ern­iza­tion also in­cludes up­dat­ing doc­trines, train­ing and re­struc­tur­ing of the de­fense forces and a sup­port­ing mil­i­tary in­dus­try. all these are con­stantly un­der re­view and the In­dian armed forces have a large num­ber of mod­ern train­ing in­sti­tu­tions and es­tab­lish­ments fo­cus­ing on these ar­eas. It pro­vides train­ing, sup­port and, if re­quired, weapons to all coun­tries in south asia (ex­cept Pakistan), some coun­tries in asia and se­lected coun­tries in africa. It has ex­change pro­grams and car­ries out joint mil­i­tary air, sea and land ex­er­cises with lead­ing coun­tries around the world, in­clud­ing the us, Rus­sia and China.

weapons ac­qui­si­tion and DE­VEL­OP­MENT

Weapons ac­qui­si­tions are based on a long-term in­te­grated per­spec­tive plan (LTIPP) of 15 years. the cur­rent plan ex­tends to 2027. Re­search and de­vel­op­ment for new equip­ment is a func­tion of the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) un­der the Min­istry of De­fence. It has a net­work of 52 lab­o­ra­to­ries, cov­er­ing aero­nau­tics, ar­ma­ments, elec­tron­ics and land-com­ca­pa­bil­ity

bat engi­neer­ing. Weapons and equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing is un­der­taken by the gov­ern­ment’s ord­nance fac­to­ries, 41 in num­ber, and nine large pub­lic-sec­tor un­der­tak­ings.

the 2018-19 de­fense bud­get is ap­prox­i­mately u$45 bil­lion, which is about 12 per­cent of cen­tral gov­ern­ment an­nual spend­ing and is a rise of 5.91 per­cent over the pre­vi­ous year. about one-third is meant for cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture for mod­ern­iza­tion and re­lated spend­ing. De­fense pen­sions are in ad­di­tion to this and ac­count for about 32 per­cent of the de­fense bud­get.3

limited funds are ac­tu­ally avail­able for ad­di­tional mod­ern­iza­tion, with ex­ist­ing con­trac­tual pay­ments tak­ing up most of the money. Per­son­nel and train­ing-re­lated costs re­flected in the rev­enue ex­pen­di­ture is in­creas­ing fast and takes up much of the de­fense bud­get.

the eight-year pe­riod of united Pro­gres­sive al­liance rule (upa) up to 2014 saw lit­tle ef­fort at mil­i­tary mod­ern­iza­tion. a stick­ler for rules, the pre­vi­ous de­fense min­is­ter was tasked to en­sure no cor­rup­tion in mil­i­tary deals and he en­sured as lit­tle ac­qui­si­tion as pos­si­ble. un­der the new BJP gov­ern­ment since May 2014, the cap­i­tal ac­qui­si­tion process re­ceived a ma­jor boost, as well as ef­forts to ac­cel­er­ate de­fense pro­cure­ment.

In­dia re­mains com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing a small ar­se­nal of low- to medium-yield nu­clear weapons for strate­gic de­ter­rence. ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tional es­ti­mates, it has about 140 weapons, which puts the num­ber be­low that of both China and Pakistan. In­dia launched the 6,000ton Ari­hant nu­clear-pow­ered bal­lis­tic-mis­sile sub­ma­rine (ssbn) in 2009, ca­pa­ble of nu­cle­ar­weapons de­liv­ery, which en­tered ser­vice in 2016. a sec­ond sub­ma­rine was launched the next year. a to­tal of three to six sub­marines may even­tu­ally be built. a wide ar­ray of op­tions are avail­able for land and aerial de­liv­ery of nu­clear weapons to en­sure strate­gic de­ter­rence.

Equip­ping ground forces

With a pop­u­la­tion of more than 1.2 bil­lion, In­dia has an in­fantry-heavy army, trained for con­ven­tional war un­der most ter­rain con­di­tions.

a mas­sive con­tract is likely to be awarded later this year for first ac­quir­ing and later man­u­fac­tur­ing mod­ern ri­fles, car­bines and light ma­chine guns. si­mul­ta­ne­ously, there are also ef­forts to equip in­di­vid­ual sol­diers for to­day’s bat­tle­field, in­clud­ing per­sonal com­bat gear. that this has to be done through ex­ter­nal pur­chases af­ter so many decades of in­di­g­e­niza­tion in de­fense man­u­fac­ture speaks poorly of In­dia’s de­fense in­dus­try.

Both In­dia’s main bat­tle tank and in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cle are due to be re­placed. the in­dige­nous ar­jun tank is fi­nally likely to be ac­cepted in large num­bers af­ter ma­jor mod­i­fi­ca­tions. the BMP 2 in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cle, with a 30mm can­non fir­ing Konkurs mis­siles with a range of 6km, will re­place the BMP 1. Medium-range ar­tillery has been an ur­gent re­quire­ment for a long time. a stop­gap pur­chase of some us M-177 how­itzers was made a few years ago. the Ord­nance Fac­tory has de­vel­oped an in­dige­nous 155mm (45 cal­iber) gun, the Dhanush, which is likely to later be the stan­dard medium ar­tillery for the army.

the army still has out­stand­ing re­quire­ments for low-level air de­fense and its own at­tack heli­copters, both es­sen­tial in mod­ern com­bat. these are likely to be early pri­or­i­ties for ac­qui­si­tion. si­mul­ta­ne­ously, given the ex­ten­sive num­ber of ter­ror­ist in­fil­tra­tions across the bor­der, the army will need com­pre­hen­sive elec­tronic sur­veil­lance and de­tec­tion sys­tems as well as night-fight­ing com­bat ca­pa­bil­i­ties, which are in ad­vanced stages of re­search in In­dia.

Naval Ex­pan­sion

De­spite more than 7,000km of coast­line, a to­tal of 1,197 is­lands and an ex­tended eco­nomic zone equal­ing two-thirds of its land area at 2.54 mil­lion

sq km, 12 ma­jor ports, 21 in­ter­me­di­ate ones and 164 mi­nor ones, the In­dian navy has tra­di­tion­ally been ne­glected. Due to other press­ing threats on land and in the air, which were more im­mi­nent, its bud­get al­lo­ca­tion has been the low­est. nev­er­the­less, In­dia has one of the largest navies in asia, which is fairly mod­ern and is manned by ex­pe­ri­enced, long-ser­vice sailors. Ma­jor ships in the in­ven­tory of the In­dian navy in­clude:

• 1 air­craft car­rier

• 1 am­phibi­ous trans­port dock

• 8 land­ing ships (tanks)

• 11 de­stroy­ers

• 14 frigates

• 1 nu­clear at­tack sub­ma­rine

• 1 bal­lis­tic mis­sile sub­ma­rine

• 4 mine coun­ter­mea­sure craft

• 14 con­ven­tional at­tack sub­marines

• 22 corvettes

• 4 fleet tankers and a num­ber of aux­il­iary ships.

On the face of it, this may seem sub­stan­tial. But given the ex­tent of its mar­itime re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, the large spread of ports and high main­te­nance needs, there is lit­tle ex­pe­di­tionary ca­pa­bil­ity.

the navy’s long-term plan calls for 198 war­ships by 2027, of which 120 should be “cap­i­tal war­ships.” the In­dian navy has 140 ves­sels to­day, of which barely half are cap­i­tal war­ships. an ef­fort is be­ing made to catch up and as of 2015, 41 ships were un­der con­struc­tion. the In­dian navy cur­rently has only one ssbn in ser­vice, the Ari­hant, and another is be­ing re­fit­ted, with four ss­bns to be ac­quired. as en­vis­aged in the 30-year sub­ma­rine-build­ing plan, con­struc­tion of six P-75 ves­sels based on the French scor­peneclass diesel-elec­tric sub­ma­rine is also in progress.

a Joint Work­ing Group on air­craft Car­rier tech­nol­ogy Co-op­er­a­tion was formed in Fe­bru­ary 2015 un­der the Indo-us De­fense tech­nol­ogy and trade Ini­tia­tive (Dtti) frame­work. this has emerged as a use­ful tool for ex­change of in­for­ma­tion in the niche field of air­craft car­rier tech­nol­ogy, with po­ten­tial fu­ture ben­e­fit to the In­dian navy, par­tic­u­larly in air­craft launch and re­cov­ery sys­tems. the In­dian navy’s avi­a­tion arm, mean­while, is likely to re­ceive MIG-29K, P-81 and hawk trainer air­craft, but it is short of heli­copters.

air force up­grad­ing

the In­dian air Force (IAF) is re­quired to have a strength of 44 squadrons to ful­fil its op­er­a­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. a re­duced min­i­mum is 39.5 squadrons. how­ever, all it can field to­day is around 32 squadrons. this short­fall re­flects the ex­tent to which ob­so­les­cence and the Iaf’s in­abil­ity to re­place its ag­ing air­craft in time has led to fleet at­tri­tion. to­day, the IAF has a wide range of fast jets, from the Rus­sian MIG 21, 27 and 29 to the Bri­tish-french Jaguar, French Mi­rage 2000, Rus­sian sukhoi su-30 Mk1 and the in­dige­nous te­jas; it will in­tro­duce the French-made Rafale fighter next year. ad­di­tional air­craft are ex­pected to join the fleet. a light fighter air­craft, per­haps the saab Gripen e/f or the lock­heed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 — and also a fifth-gen­er­a­tion stealth air­craft from Rus­sia later. the te­jas fighter is poised to re­place the ag­ing MIG 21, but its pro­duc­tion rate is still very slow. heavy­weight trans­port air­lift is pro­vided by the us­made C-130J su­per her­cules and C-17 Globe­mas­ter III. these are de­ployed in two squadrons, one each in the eastern and western sec­tor. Bids for ad­di­tional trans­port air­craft are likely to be placed soon to re­place In­dia’s 1950s-vin­tage hawker sid­de­ley hs 748 and Rus­sian an-32. at­tack heli­copters and medium-lift heli­copters are also be­ing ac­quired for di­rect com­bat-re­lated roles. Mean­while, in air de­fense, there is a pos­si­bil­ity that the Rus­sian s-400 anti-air­craft mis­sile sys­tem may be ac­quired. no deal has been signed yet. the ac­qui­si­tion of medium to light trans­port heli­copters from Rus­sia is also likely.

this ad hoc and piece­meal ac­qui­si­tion of air­craft has taken its toll on fleet main­te­nance, pi­lot train­ing and lo­gis­tics sup­port. With sev­eral air­craft reach­ing their life-cy­cle lim­its, the squadron strength may go down even fur­ther to 26 squadrons un­less dras­tic re­me­dial ac­tions are taken. the gap in de­fense ac­qui­si­tions un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment has par­tic­u­larly af­fected the air force ad­versely. While the IAF faces no chal­lenge from other air forces in the re­gion, the Pla air Force has been mod­ern­iz­ing rapidly. More im­por­tant, the IAF will ur­gently need air­fields and lo­gis­tics bases closer to the north­ern bor­ders in or­der to de­ploy its as­sets mean­ing­fully in that sec­tor.

the above out­line of ma­jor ac­qui­si­tions by In­dia’s three armed ser­vices re­flects a catch­ing up rather than a ma­jor en­hance­ment of mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­ity. Be­sides, this level of mod­ern­iza­tion does not al­low a mean­ing­ful force pro­jec­tion abroad. Other than the In­dian navy, the rest of the forces are es­sen­tially or­ga­nized for the de­fense of na­tional ter­ri­tory. Yet, in times of cri­sis else­where, such as in the Mal­dives in 1988, the In­dian Peace­keep­ing Force (IPKF) in sri lanka in 1987-90, the post-tsunami aid in south­east asia in 2004, or the earth­quake in nepal in 2015, it was the In­dian armed Forces that were the first re­spon­ders.

im­pact of Mod­ern­iza­tion in the indo-pa­cific

three prin­ci­pal con­flict sce­nar­ios con­tinue in the Indo-pa­cific. One, cen­tered around north Korea and its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity; the sec­ond, China’s poli­cies of ex­pand­ing and se­cur­ing the east and south China seas; and third, China’s pres­ence and dom­i­na­tion of the In­dian Ocean. Bei­jing is cen­tral to all three and its mil­i­tary mod­ern­iza­tion and weapons ac­qui­si­tions will play a cru­cial role in these re­gional hot spots. Mil­i­tary mod­ern- iza­tions in other coun­tries in asia are driven pri­mar­ily by these anx­i­eties.

the us mil­i­tary pres­ence had played a ma­jor sta­bi­liz­ing role in the past. now, both its will­ing­ness and its ca­pa­bil­ity are be­ing in­creas­ingly ques­tioned. the is­sue re­mains how quickly China de­vel­ops a force ca­pa­bil­ity to achieve its goals and whether re­gional pow­ers in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively can de­velop a ca­pa­bil­ity to de­ter ag­gres­sion. Co-op­er­a­tive ar­range­ments be­tween the us, Ja­pan, aus­tralia and In­dia are likely to be cru­cial in this re­gard.

In­dia re­mains com­mit­ted to se­cure its ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and con­trib­ute to the se­cu­rity of its im­me­di­ate neigh­bor­hood. It feels con­fi­dent to be able to do so with min­i­mal mil­i­tary mod­ern­iza­tion to en­hance its de­ter­rence prospects. Its land bor­der, though dis­puted, is sta­ble and nei­ther In­dia nor China wants a con­flict there.

the Indo-pa­cific re­gion is poised for ma­jor change. De­mo­graphic trans­for­ma­tions, eco­nomic growth, au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes, China’s sud­den rise and tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tions are lead­ing to se­cu­rity anx­i­eties that, in turn, have given rise to an in­cip­i­ent arms race in asia, led by China. this es­say has been an at­tempt to ex­plain, in the case of In­dia, where is this headed and what mo­ti­vates coun­tries to ac­quire arms at the ex­pense of de­vel­op­ment. While In­dia has a pol­icy that is en­tirely de­fen­sive, it can­not be in­dif­fer­ent to hap­pen­ings in its vicin­ity. Maj. gen. di­pankar ban­er­jee (re­tired) is the found­ing direc­tor of the in­sti­tute of peace and Con­flict stud­ies in New delhi. he pre­vi­ously served as the deputy direc­tor of in­dia’s in­sti­tute for de­fense stud­ies and anal­y­ses.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cambodia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.