India to crank up military diplomacy by posting more officers abroad

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    India to crank up military diplomacy by posting more officers abroad - Times Of India

    NEW DELHI: India is expanding its military presence around the globe. No, it's not covertly establishing military bases or outposts overseas. Instead, New Delhi is slowly but steadily cranking up the number of its defence attaches or advisors (DAs) deployed abroad as part of its larger military diplomacy strategy.

    The endeavour is to post more DAs in Indian missions in hitherto-neglected but strategically crucial areas like the energy-rich Central Asia and Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as well as strengthen presence in countries like China.

    Defence ministry sources say the plan is to gradually create as many as 26 new DA posts over the next few years, even as several new "billets" abroad have already been "filled or approved" over the last several months.

    "By combining diplomatic and military tools, DAs can promote India's military and security interests. As our military-to-military engagement with countries around the world expands, it's important to post more uniformed officers with domain knowledge in Indian missions," said a source.

    With the world's second-largest standing Army, and a Navy and Air Force in the top five or six, India is also helping friendly countries in "capacity-building" of their armed forces. Much like Bhutan and Botswana, for instance, an Indian Army Training Team will soon also be based in Myanmar, where China has made deep strategic inroads.

    India now has 100 DAs posted in different countries, with 67 of them being from the Army. "Four new posts for Army officers have been approved in Nigeria, Norway, Azerbaijan and Papua New Guinea," said the source.

    Only the US, the UK and Russia have Indian DAs from all three Services till now. India is also going to post a naval attache (NA) to Beijing, even as it steps up its maritime engagement with countries in the IOR.

    India feels that its central location in the IOR, astride major commercial routes and energy lifelines like the Malacca Strait makes it a major stakeholder in the region's security and stability. "With defence minister A K Antony holding India has to be the 'net security provider' in the IOR, NAs have also recently been posted to countries like the Maldives and Myanmar," said the source.

    Similarly, with DAs already present in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, India is also focussing on other Central Asian countries like Turmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. "The Persian Gulf is another area where the military cooperation is going up," he said.

    "A DA can provide a fillip to the overall strategic relations with a country by being the main interface with the host country's military authorities. Apart from assisting the mission in security and protocol tasks, he also keeps an eye of the military technology available," he added.
     
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