2017,Defence Primer,January

Today’s capabilities, tomorrow’s conflicts

As India actively aspires to shape its security environment in South Asia and beyond, the future set of demands on the Indian military will be heavily influenced by its evolving global and regional environment. India is situated in a difficult neighbourhood where security threats are expected and predictable but can also be unexpected and unforeseen. Combined with the increasing need to project power in the extended neighbourhood, this extended threat spectrum posits a new challenge.

Future threats and conflicts cannot be won by copying past responses and older means of warfare. India’s current defence spending priorities are, however, heavily weighted towards traditional means of war-fighting and conventional modes of deterrence. Current postures favour large-scale conflict in the form of a “two-front war”— an almost negligible forward presence, limited lowerend and versatile assets, and a lack of strategically mobile forces — which leaves India with limited options in responding to contemporary limitedintensity operations, like missions such as noncombatant evacuation, disaster relief, small-scale raids, and combat search and rescue.

Budgetary constraints also mean that the armed forces will not be able to invest in technological solutions wholly to leapfrog their war-fighting capabilities. Adapting legacy platforms to the changing requirements and bringing innovations in war-fighting doctrines and strategies will be the key in dramatically increasing the range and precision of the Indian armed forces to observe, nominate, and prosecute targets.

The government and the armed forces need to prepare themselves for this challenge. The Defence Primer will lead off from the principal challenges to India — long, disputed, and militarised borders with Pakistan and China — and further explore visible technological and capability gaps vis-à-vis the ever-widening threat spectrum. It will also address India’s ambitions as net security provider in the Indian Ocean and the technological/ doctrinal innovations required for those capabilities.


Sushant Singh

Pushan Das