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Why is India sending military attaches to African, other countries including Armenia, Philippines? EXPLAINED

For the first time, India will post defence attaches in several countries including Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Philippines, Armenia and Poland in line with its broader policy initiative to expand strategic ties with key regions, a move that comes amid renewed geopolitical rivalries.

Ajeet Kumar Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 New Delhi Updated on: April 17, 2024 11:17 IST
Indian military
Image Source : AP Representational Image

New Delhi: Amid renewed geopolitical rivalries, India, for the first time, will post defence attaches in several countries including Africa, Poland, Philippines and Poland. Besides, New Delhi is also planning to rationalise some of its defence attaches to smaller regions like Djibouti to shift its strategic ties with the countries that either remain untouched or do not have significant focus. According to the news agency PTI, India will post its defence officials in countries including Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Philippines, Armenia and Poland in line with its broader policy initiative to expand strategic ties with key regions. 

What is a defence attache?

A military attache or defence attache is a military expert or official from a military who is attached to a diplomatic mission, often an embassy. Usually, high-ranking military officers hold this post and retain a commission while serving on a diplomatic mission. The officer, sometimes, also acts as a communication channel between the two countries-- host and where an officer is posted. The officer is also entitled to mediate between the defence forces of the two nations. In the case of any defence deal, the officer can handle all nuances of bilateral engagements between the governments. 

Recently, New Delhi has also planned to appoint a new defence attache to Djibouti which would serve as a major maritime gateway around the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and is considered as a prized location for military bases. The news agency claimed that the new defence attache in Djibouti will be the second one to hold the post in the island nation.

Why India is expanding defence attaches in Africa?

The decision to appoint defence attaches in African countries like Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ivory Coast is in sync with New Delhi's priority to expand its strategic engagement with the African continent, one of the people told the news agency. Besides, several African countries have already expressed keen interest in procuring Indian military platforms, equipment and hardware. Hence, the attache will act as a mediator.

Notably, in recent years, India has been positioning itself as a leading voice, flagging concerns, challenges and aspirations of the Global South or the developing nations, especially the African continent.

Rationalisation process

It is also learnt that New Delhi is planning to rationalise the strength of its teams of military officials in its embassy in Moscow and high commission in London. A few of the defence attaches posted in these two countries are set to be deployed elsewhere as part of the rationalisation process that factored in various aspects of New Delhi’s foreign policy priorities and optimum use of manpower.

India's ties with the African continent have witnessed a major uptick amid China’s persistent efforts to expand its influence in the African countries. The induction of the 55-nation African Union as a permanent member of the G20 was seen as a major milestone of India’s presidency of the grouping of the world's 20 big economies in 2023.

How do the defence attaches fulfil India's desire to become a significant arms exporter?

India is looking at further expanding defence ties with the Philippines against the backdrop of growing global concerns over China's increasing military assertiveness in the South China Sea. The defence and strategic ties between India and the Philippines have been on an upswing in the last few years.

In January 2022, India sealed a USD 375 million deal with the Philippines to supply three batteries for the missile. The supplies of the missiles to the Southeast Asian country are set to begin soon, according to PTI.

The decision to appoint a defence attache in Armenia comes as the country in the Caucasus region shows deep interest in enhancing its defence relations with India. Last year, an arms deal to supply Indian military hardware including multi-barrel rocket launchers to Armenia was firmed up.

The deal came amid the Armenia-Azerbaijan clash over Nagorno-Karabakh. India’s decision to appoint a defence attache to Poland, which is a member of the European Union, is also being considered significant.

It is reflective of the desire to expand two-way defence ties, the people cited above said. Multiple media reports confirmed that New Delhi has already inked deals with the Asian country for Pinaka rockets, Akash missiles, ammunition and multi-barrel rocket launchers. Some of the weapons were already sent to Armenia. 

Last year, the European Union (EU) posted a military attache to its mission in India for the first time. A total of 16 defence attaches from the Indian Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force will shortly assume their new positions, the people cited above said.

Also Read: China boosts defence spending by 7.2 per cent: How does it compare to India's military expenditure?

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