New Delhi is positioning itself to meet the threat from China and be an effective security partner for the United States.
India’s strategic posture has been in a state of churn for several years now, compelling New Delhi to embark on the biggest military reorganization since the country’s founding in 1947. The South Asian giant is moving away from its historical focus on its western flank with nuclear rival Pakistan to focus on the much bigger challenges of dealing with the growing threat of conflict with China and building up its power projection capabilities in the Indian Ocean basin. The need to address these emerging challenges is the principal driver behind the Indian military’s move to establish three new tri-service theater commands – i.e., centers that involve all three branches of the military (the army, air force and navy). The sheer magnitude of the military restructuring, along with the usual bureaucratic inertia, means it will be many years before the process is completed – though the country’s rapid economic growth will help propel its defense capabilities in the years to come.
India is set to launch the first of three integrated theater commands next month when the country celebrates the 76th anniversary of its independence. According to Indian media reports, the Jaipur-based Southwestern Command will focus on the western border with Pakistan. A second Lucknow-based Northern Command will focus on the increasing threats from China along the Himalayan border. The Maritime Command, meanwhile, will be headquartered in Karwar, in the southwestern state of Karnataka, and will focus on defense of the southern coast as well as power projection capabilities in the Indian Ocean basin and beyond.
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