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Beyond the hard power dimension, this regional space race has taken on many of the soft power characteristics of the competition between the U.

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Space technology in particular, being flashy and complex, often captures the most cache. Many of the feats that China and India are pursuing have already been achieved by the U. Yet the attraction power of spaceflight achievements is more lucrative than in the past, as private entities around the world face tighter competition and shorter timelines in launching satellites, and are therefore willing to bring their business to any nation that can demonstrate the ability to launch cargo safely and cheaply. The increased soft power borne out of a successful space program therefore is not only useful in the struggle for regional prestige, but also paves the way for increased economic success in a fast-growing industry.

Chinese space policy recognizes the benefits to hard and soft power from pursuing a space program, and is making strides in space capabilities accordingly. In terms of pure capabilities, the CNSA and military maintain superiority over their Indian counterparts, although India is making significant strides in a lower-cost space strategy that this paper will analyze in later paragraphs.

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The diagram on the next page makes clear the strength of the Chinese space program, as measured by operational satellites. Certainly there are innumerable other metrics by which to calculate space capabilities, and many aspects of a space program evade quantification altogether. The PLA has maintained this doctrine since , when strategists observed the U.

As China continues to develop and play a larger role in regional and international spheres, it is unlikely to slow down or change this space development strategy significantly. With specific importance to regional politics, Beijing has greatly increased its satellite involvement in the contested areas of the South China Sea, as well as in the East China Sea. This suggests the national government is prepared to engage in long-term operations in both these regions, and seeks to closely monitor the developments there.

Each of these increased capabilities demonstrates a clear pathway by which the Chinese space program opens the door for increased force projection in the region, in alignment with national goals. While Taiwanese seeds are most certainly not a military or economic tool, their political statement is quite clear.

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Given this context, what might be a reasonable potential pathway for increasing U. The current climate is quite frosty, so there simultaneously exists many possibilities, as well as many constraints. Due to concerns with security and technology- sharing, all NASA researchers are currently prohibited from working with Chinese citizens affiliated with a Chinese state enterprise or entity.

Power projection

This includes using funds to host Chinese visitors at NASA facilities, which has become a particularly contentious issue regarding academic conferences the organization hosts annually. This is illustrative of the general U. It is this concern that has even pushed U. This reality, taken with the heavy Chinese strategic emphasis on boosting technological capabilities, means that the U.

But this does not mean all opportunity for cooperation is lost. In fact, in light of greater tensions in other parts of the U. By cooperating on these issues, the U. Furthermore, there exists a current pathway by which this cooperation can grow European and Russian space agencies. The presence of the European and Russian space agencies as potential intermediaries furthers the possibility that such a collaboration could occur, and also decreases the risks the U.

The technology Americans use aboard the ISS is unlikely to be very different from that of other ISS member nations, especially because technology aboard the space station must be compatible with the ISS itself. An environment in which U. Already China has been aligning more with U. For example, last summer Beijing signed two agreements with the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs to help finance non-Chinese payloads and experiments on its future space station.

Pushing this trend further could simultaneously allow the U. These systems are also the basis upon which a nation can track anti-satellite weapons, and are thus crucial to defense capabilities and monitoring of other space powers. Except for the new 2, rupee note and a laissez-faire approach to reigning in nationalist rhetoric in the press, absent are broad proclamations about the importance of space capabilities for national defense, human achievement, scientific prowess, economic power, and global prestige.

If India can continue to develop technological abilities that put them more on par with Chinese assets, it is likely to grow increasingly public about the power implications for space technology. One interesting strategic approach which seems to distinguish the ISRO is its emphasis on budget-friendly approaches to space.

Furthermore, the success of this launch on relatively short timescales surprised Chinese space authorities, and thus garnered India more positive press and raised more eyebrows than would have been the case under a more traditional mission scheme. These factors have enabled a relatively frugal Indian approach that is unique among major space powers today, and represents a noticeable shift from the paradigm set under the Chinese and U. As the regional space race moves into the future, it is plausible that the U.

India could certainly benefit from more rapid development of its tracking technologies, and the U. Taken in a vacuum, collaboration between the two on technological ends would thus seem quite positive, and even natural. Already both nations are active in bilateral space cooperation, so further integration is not impossible. Yet in light of regional power politics, deep technological cooperation — particularly regarding space tracking capabilities — would be imprudent for the United States. Due to the current political climate between the U. This is also true against the backdrop of South China Sea involvement in which the U.

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Sep Disaster relief to Madagascar after Ambilobe bush-fires. At the forefront of the UN peacekeeping missions has been the Indian Army that has earned global acknowledgement for its impartial and professional conduct. Notwithstanding the encouraging trend-lines, in comparison to the other established and emerging maritime powers, India is still at a nascent phase in terms of optimising its OOA humanitarian role to meet geopolitical objectives. In India, doctrines on such a role, articulating the concept, intent and principles are conspicuous by their absence.

Also see, Enrica Bornstein. See, United Nations Treaty Series, vol. Why have the Indian defence forces — either collectively or through their single-Service doctrines — not been more articulate to fill the void at the national level? Is it a lack of synergy among agencies at the various levels of authority that is preventing India from drawing the intangible dividends of its proactive humanitarian approach in terms of strengthening its influence and favourable geopolitics? It examines the prevailing voids therein in terms of doctrines, organisation and capacity.


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However, but these are only brief collations of events, and do not state the national intent or approach, except in sporadic cases. This translates into the lack of consciousness among national policymakers and the agencies involved, particularly the maritime components of the Indian Armed Forces, and also the absence of a well-crafted national strategy.

This translates into the absence of a coherent national effort, such as in terms of capacity-building and the lack of synergy among the various agencies. If the Central Government decides to provide support to other countries affected by major disasters, the NEC deliberates on the appropriate measures, including those involving the Armed Forces. The DCMG discerns the contours of a developing crisis, and undertakes a detailed politico-military appreciation to formulate the most appropriate humanitarian response.

The defence forces are employed in major contingencies. As an essential provision of the Search and Rescue SAR Convention , that India ratified in , State parties were required to designate their respective single-point national coordinating authorities. This leads to a major inference: a clear single-point national authority can achieve much more than a distributed and, therefore, ambiguous authority. Other than specifically for SAR — wherein India was bound by an obligation imposed upon it by an international treaty — maritime affairs in India are not synergised by a single-point national authority.

Figure 4 - India's Search and Rescue Region SRR Joint-Services Level The conceptual void at the national level could have been offset to a considerable extent by a robust doctrinal articulation by the defence services, and a resultant joint- service strategy. However, the joint-Services organisation has fallen short. The reason is unlikely to be to maintain propriety in terms of superseding superior authority.

A joint maritime doctrine could have helped in a composite strategy, enabling a coordinated humanitarian relief effort. However, the Army has still not imbibed this concept. Also, since Army Engineers are often required for disaster-relief operations, the loading-plan of their vehicles and specialized equipment on amphibious and even strategic airlift platforms needs to be pre-established and known. However, the formulation of any such plan needs to be based on a joint doctrine. This has also helped project national soft power, towards improving relations and the regional maritime environment.

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Although the Indian Army upgraded the doctrine in , the revised version is for restricted circulation. However, the key impediment of synergy persists due to the lack of a joint maritime doctrine. The China Case For an alternative national perspective, it may be useful to examine the OOA humanitarian approach of another emerging contemporary maritime power. Notwithstanding the differing national priorities and approach, the case of China may be best suited for a comparison.

Like India, China is a developing country in the Indo-Pacific region that is on its way to becoming a major maritime power.

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See Minjiang Li ed. Ostensibly, the realisation occurred with the Indian Ocean tsunami relief-operations of This is widely believed to be a trigger for China to develop strategic airlift and sealift capacity for such OOA missions. China officially launched its indigenous Xian Y strategic heavy-lift aircraft project in ,32 and formally inducted it into the PLA Air Force a decade later in July So far, China is likely to have achieved its former objective at least — and quite successfully at that.

In , China evacuated about 36, of its citizens from Libya during the internal revolt in that country against the incumbent government. During the Yemen crisis in , PLA Navy warships deployed on counter-piracy mission in the nearby Gulf of Aden mission were appropriately redeployed and evacuated about people, including foreign nationals, from the port of Aden. Such an articulation should ideally form part of its national-security doctrine, and be steered by a single- point advisory authority on maritime including maritime-security affairs. Such a joint doctrine is essential to further synergise the OOA humanitarian functions of the various agencies involved.

This would help India develop and evolve a coherent maritime-security strategy to use its emerging OOA humanitarian role to meet its overarching national objectives.


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  • It is not within the scope of this paper to recommend the specific contents of the joint doctrine s , or the ensuing strategy. Nonetheless, it may be essential to address a few key aspects, as indicated in the succeeding paragraphs. Organisation and Plans The foremost of these is the organisational structure optimised for inter-agency coordination of the OOA humanitarian effort and planning.

    This is particularly relevant for capacities that transcend a single- Service requirement. A related aspect is the optimal utilisation of the existing capacities, such as those pertaining to sealift and airlift, which may also be fungible with military missions. Sealift Capacity For undertaking a major maritime disaster-relief mission, the need for large ships of the Landing Platform Dock LPD variety is inescapable. It is assessed that the IN would need to induct at least four LPDs to be able to cater for its amphibious tasks under its military role, along with meeting its OOA humanitarian role.

    Owing to their ability to land on small and makeshift runways and their short turnaround times, these platforms have been invaluable for OOA humanitarian missions. However, it must be noted that the primary purpose for which these were acquired was force-projection against China. Nonetheless, dispersed locations in peninsular India would need to be equipped with adequate aviation infrastructure, technical support, and stores — including fuel and standard HADR supplies — to enable them to function as airlift staging-posts with minimal loss of time.

    Such staging posts may also be necessary for aircraft or unmanned drones to undertake aerial reconnaissance for assessing the situation in the disaster affected area. During the tsunami relief-mission, the IN employed its hydrographic survey ships as hospital ships.