Imagining an Indian National Security Strategy: the sum of its parts

Indian Army Sikh Light Infantry regiment
Author name: 
Medcalf, R
Journal title: 
Australian Journal of International Affairs

India’s power and interests continue to grow in the Indo-Pacific region and globally, yet its national security policymaking approaches have not kept pace. These may have been barely adequate for India’s twentieth-century experience as a regional power tending towards strategic restraint, but currently constrain India from being able to harness its considerable national capabilities to protect larger and more complex interests. This article identifies five key obstacles to a more coherent and effective approach to national security: lack of staffing depth in policy and intelligence; weak structures for ensuring inclusive consultation in policymaking; a disempowered military when it comes to strategic decisions; a lack of security expertise among civilian officials and politicians; and an absence of whole-of-government guidance in making and expressing policy. Many reforms are necessary, but two enabling early steps are identified and recommended: the creation of a Chief of Defence Staff position to elevate military coordination and authoritative input to policy, and the preparation of a National Security Strategy to define and guide overall policy.


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