India’s defense minister declared the country’s intention to be able to project maritime force throughout the Indian Ocean, underscoring the shift toward a littoral-warfare capability.
About 40 percent of the world’s sea traffic passes through the Malacca Strait between Malaysia and Indonesia, including ships carrying oil from the Persian Gulf. Indian military strategists are concentrating on protecting the approaches to these sea lanes, which is the basis for India’s drive to become a major regional power in military terms as well.
This means that India is becoming a significant maritime player for two reasons — its geostrategic location and disposition astride the key Indian Ocean sea-lines, and its potent naval power. In case of a military conflict in the western Pacific [such as over Taiwan], all states involved in the conflict would like to either protect their own shipping or interdict the adversary’s ships, depending upon their capabilities.” said Gurupreet Khurana, an active Indian Navy commander
and defense analyst with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, a think tank here.
However, China is also extending its naval influence through the Indian Ocean region, seeking to protect its energy interests. India and China fought a brief conflict in 1962 over a border dispute that remains unresolved.
This possible clash of interests has military implications in India’s northern frontier. China is the major supplier of advanced weaponry, including missiles, to Pakistan. New Delhi’s unhappiness with Beijing’s military alliance with Islamabad has introduced a new element of uncertainty in the region.
The nuclear deal, growing ties with the United States and huge investments in India’s Navy to bolster maritime control in the Indian Ocean region will be the guiding elements of India’s future geopolitical strategy.
Source: Defense News