India no longer hides its aspirations of playing an active political and security role in the Asia-Pacific. India is the world’s fourth largest spender on defence, following a 13.1 per cent increase in its 2016-17 defence budget, according to US research firm IHS Inc.
As per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2015, India overtook France in military spending and is fast approaching Britain, which is behind the US, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia. By the year 2020, India could emerge as the third-biggest country in terms of defence-related expenditure.
Poised to become one of the four largest military powers in the world, India currently has multiple military bases spread across the Indian sub-continent and the Indian Ocean region. Every base supports either a specific security goal or the overall regional stability. Military bases are conceived for training purposes, preparation and stockage of military equipment. They are not very well known in view of the fact that they are not open to the public at large.
Here is a list of India’s five international military bases:
1. Tajikistan – Farkhor Air Base, India’s first external military base
Farkhor Air Base is a military air base located near the town of Farkhor in Tajikistan, 130 kilometres south east of the capital Dushanbe. It is operated by the Indian Air Force in collaboration with the Tajikistan Air Force.
As a result of Pakistan banning Indian overflights, India started operating the Farkhor base in May 2002, with Russian acquiescence, to support Indian relief and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The Farkhor Air Base would give the Indian military the required depth and range in seeking a larger role in the Indian Subcontinent and is a tangible manifestation of India’s move to project its power in Central Asia, a policy goal formally enunciated in 2003–2004.
Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had raised concerns to the Tajik government of the fact that Indian planes if stationed they would be able reach Pakistan within minutes using the air base.
2. An air base in Surkhet, Nepal
It was reported that India was going to construct an air base in Surkhet for IAF’s operation. Military experts say an air-strip in Surkhet of Nepal will serve the Indian security interests in a much more enhanced manner.
A listening post of the Indian Navy started operations in 2007. A listening post is a forward position set up to obtain early warning of enemy movement.
India has helped Maldives set up radars on all 26 atolls for seamless coverage of approaching vessels and aircraft. They are networked with Indian Coastal Radar System.
To keep an eye on Chinese movements in the South China sea, India has berthing rights in Vietnam and regularly gives Port Calls. This would not only help give India a presence in the region, it also serves as a quid pro quo for the increasingly frequent Chinese forays into the Indian Ocean Rim (IOR).
Due to Vietnam’s difficult history with China, New Delhi is actively courting Vietnam with defense-related offers and infrastructure deals. Vietnam is often seen as a linchpin in India’s counter-encirclement and “Look East” policies.