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Bhavya Sethi asked: In the wake of India's ascendancy in global affairs, does the Indian military need an expeditionary force on the lines of the US Marines?

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  • Guriqbal Singh Gill replies: An expeditionary force is a military unit designed to be deployed quickly to foreign territories to conduct operations in support of national interests. The US Marines are a prime example of an expeditionary force, with a primary mission to provide forward-deployed combat power in any part of the world. India's military, on the other hand, has a long history of territorial defence, and most of its military operations have been conducted within its borders. However, in recent years, India's strategic interests have expanded beyond its borders, and the country has become more involved in global affairs.

    India's growing geopolitical interests, coupled with the country's economic and military rise, suggest that an expeditionary force could be a valuable addition to the Indian military's capabilities. Such a force could be used to conduct a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping operations, counter-terrorism operations, and even limited military interventions. An expeditionary force could also help India build stronger relationships with other countries and demonstrate its commitment to regional and global security. It could enhance India's ability to respond rapidly to emerging security threats, such as those posed by non-state actors, transnational terrorism, and piracy.

    However, building an expeditionary force is not an easy task. It requires significant investment in training, equipment, and infrastructure, and it would likely take years to develop a capable and effective force. Moreover, India's military faces several other challenges, including modernization, organizational reform, and budget constraints. Another consideration is that India's strategic interests are primarily focused on its immediate neighbourhood, including the Indian Ocean Region, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

    Therefore, an expeditionary force may not be as critical to India's security as it is to the US. The decision to create such a force should be based on a careful assessment of India's strategic interests, military capabilities, and budget constraints. If India decides to move forward with the creation of an expeditionary force, it should do so with a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities involved.

    Posted on April 24, 2023

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.