You are on page 1of 7

Indias 12 Steps To A World Class Navy Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett Dr. Barnett is a pro essor at the !.S.

Naval War Colle"e #NWC$% servin" as a senior strate"i& resear&her in the De&ision Strate"ies Department o the Center or Naval War are St'dies. (e than)s Pro essors Bradd (ayes and (an) *amradt% +ear Admiral Mi&hael M&Devitt% !SN #+et.$% and Dr. ,a-ren&e Modisett or their inp't to% and eed.a&) on% this arti&le. In /e.r'ary o this year% I had the pleas're o attendin" the Indian Navy0s irst1ever International /leet +evie- in M'm.ai% -here I made a presentation to a symposi'm a'dien&e o 12 Chie s o Naval Sta and do3ens o la" o i&ers rom an additional 14 Navies. This leet revie-% -hi&h -ent .y the motto 5Brid"es o /riendship%5 essentially -as the Indian Navy0s 5&omin" o't5 party a ter many years o .'ildin" 'p and moderni3in" its or&e str'&t're% mostly thro'"h orei"n p'r&hases. 6o' may as)% 5Comin" o't or -hat75 /ran)ly% that -as the real theme o the hi"h1 po-ered symposi'm% as -ell as o n'mero's dis&'ssions I had -ith Indian la" o i&ers% .oth a&tive and retired. In many -ays% this "rand &ele.ration -as the s-an son" or a "eneration o Indian admirals -ho propelled this on&e h'm.le &oastal or&e to its &'rrent hei"hts as the -orld0s o'rth1lar"est navy. Not only do they -ant the international &omm'nity to ta)e note and sho- some respe&t% .'t they also are loo)in" or some &lear sense o -here their Navy its in this messy post1Cold War se&'rity environment. /'t're Path-ays o the Indian Navy It is air to say that every Indian admiral I spo)e -ith represented his o-n s&hool o tho'"ht% .'t I sensed t-o .road strate"i& a&tions% -hi&h I d'. the Soviet S&hool and the British S&hool. This division re&alls not only the per&eived operational disparity .et-een the 8astern and Western leets #the ormer lon" &onsidered the 5+'ssian hal 5 o the Indian Navy9 the latter the 5British hal 5$ .'t also the di eren&e .et-een a land1oriented "reat po-er0s strate"i& employment o naval or&e and that o a sea1 oriented one. Not s'rprisin"ly% most o the British S&hool admirals I met had st'died at the !.S. Naval War Colle"e. Conversely% I &o'ld dis&'ss my love or +'ssian poetry 1 in the ori"inal 1 -ith those o the Soviet S&hool. I 'rther s'.divide ea&h s&hool into t-o -in"s: those admirals -ho .elieve the Indian ;&ean 5.elon"s5 to the Indian Navy #and not to any 5meddlesome o'tsiders%5 in&l'din" the !.S. Navy$ and those -ho .elieve the Indian Navy 5.elon"s5 to somethin" lar"er 1 typi&ally% the &olle&tive "ood o "lo.al maritime se&'rity. P'ttin" those t-o a<es to"ether% I see o'r 't're path-ays or the Indian Navy9 1. Minim'm1Deterrent Navy #Soviet S&hool = +e"ional /o&'s$. This is the -ea)est lon"1term o't&ome .e&a'se it rele"ates the Navy to an ad>'n&t to the Army and Air /or&e in India0s &ontin'in" n'&lear arms ra&e -ith Pa)istan. This tenden&y most re&ently is demonstrated in Ne- Delhi0s de&laration to remain 5e?'al5 to any

Pa)istani move to p't n'&lear missiles on its s'.marines #1$. +e&allin" the Soviet Navy0s .astion strate"y% this is a "o1no-here% do1little navy. 2. Sea1Denial Navy #Soviet S&hool = @lo.al Am.ition$. This is an anti1China navy that see)s to e<port an anti1a&&ess strate"y to the So'th China Sea. ,i)e the old Soviet leet% it o&'ses on anti1ship &apa.ilities -ith an emphasis on atta&) s'.marines. In its most a""ressive orm% it mi"ht .e &onstr'ed .y some as an anti1!.S. navy in terms o its modest &apa&ity or po-er pro>e&tion to-ard the Persian @'l . D'rin" the leet revie-0s inale% Indian naval &ommandos demonstrated their ?'i&)1stri)e s)ills .y plantin" e<plosive &har"es on three mo&) oil ri"s in M'm.ai0s Ba&) Bay. They demolished the plat orms to the deli"ht o the h'"e &ro-ds linin" the shore% providin" the AIP a'dien&e o orei"n admirals a none too s'.tle reminder o -here India resides% namely% ri"ht alon" the sea ro'te that &arries the ma>ority o the -orld0s ener"y tra i& rom the Middle 8ast to developin" Asia. 4. Sea ,ines o Comm'ni&ation1Sta.ility Navy #British S&hool = +e"ional /o&'s$. This is the polar opposite o the sea1denial navy% or it ta)es as its prime tas) the preservation o the Indian ;&ean as a sa e transit or "lo.al &ommer&e. This Indian Navy see)s to s'pplant the !.S. Navy as the re"ion0s sea1.ased ,eviathan% not so m'&h .e&a'se it -ants the !nited States o't% .'t .e&a'se India .elieves this is an appropriate re"ional se&'rity role or it to ill as its e&onomy emer"es. Another -ay to des&ri.e this navy is the 5Mini1Me Navy%5 or the Indian Navy0s re"ionali3ed version o the !.S. Navy 1 same ro'"h spread o &apa.ilities% >'st one1ei"hth the si3e. B. International Coalition Navy #British S&hool = @lo.al Am.ition$. This is the most am.itio's navy% or it ass'mes t-o )ey developments: #1$ a lessenin" o the land1 .ased rivalries -ith Pa)istan and China9 and #2$ a ar .i""er share o the Indian de ense .'d"et "oin" to the navy% -hi&h no- re&eives aro'nd 1CD. In a pra&ti&al sense% this is a 5ni&he navy%5 or India0s version o the &'rrent +oyal Navy: a pro1 international norms or&e that &an deploy -ith some "en'ine rea&h -hen &om.ined -ith the !.S. Navy in a m'ltinational naval &oalition. ;n the a&e o it% some nations mi"ht instin&tively ear an Indian Navy o s'&h &apa.ility% .'t s'&h a lon"1term development -o'ld si"nal a se&'re and &on ident Ne- Delhi loo)in" to do its part or "lo.al se&'rity maintenan&e. As a r'le% dan"ero's po-ers ield lar"e armies and air or&es% not lar"e navies. Whi&h navy India -ill end 'p -ith is anyone0s "'ess. Based on everythin" I heard in M'm.ai% stron" rationales e<ist -ithin the Indian Navy or ea&h o't&ome. B't &learly% or India to a&hieve a -orld1&lass navy% its leaders have to move .eyond vie-in" the leet as a s'pplemental tool in Ne- Delhi0s lon"1standin" rivalries -ith its nei"h.ors% to-ard an e<pansive se&'rity vision that ta)es into a&&o'nt the nation0s "lo.al e&onomi& stat's as an emer"in" in ormation1te&hnolo"y s'perpo-er. A 121Step Pro"ram or the Indian Navy India0s naval development has pro"ressed to -here its leaders need to elevate their vision .eyond -hat the or&e &an provide the &o'ntry in terms o se&'rity to the lar"er iss'e o -hat it &an provide the -orld in terms o sta.ility. I see this as a 121

step pro"ram% .orro-in" li.erally rom the sel 1help literat're so pop'lar today in the !nited States. In e e&t% the senior o i&ers o the Indian Navy need to: 1. Admit they are po-erless over the Army and Air /or&e in determinin" national se&'rity priorities. ;ver the years India0s .est and .ri"htest did not >oin the Navy9 there -ere a lot more opport'nities to la'n&h "lorio's military &areers in the north a"ainst either the Pa)istanis or the Chinese. B't even i the "ro'nd po'nders r'le the military roost% their de inition o national se&'rity is mostly internali3ed #-hat happens here$% -hereas the naval de inition sho'ld .e almost e<&l'sively e<ternali3ed #-hat happens over there$. By my s&orin"% India is not a le"itimate "reat po-er 'ntil it "enerates a s'rpl's o e<ternal se&'rity 1 .eyond -hat it needs to prote&t the &o'ntry rom o'tside atta&). ;n&e a&hieved% either Ne- Delhi mar)ets that s'rpl's e<ternally as a &olle&tive "ood or it ends 'p s&arin" the hell o't o the nei"h.ors. So let the Army and Air /or&e set India0s national se&'rity priorities% .'t the Navy needs to esta.lish India0s international se&'rity priorities .e&a'se only the Navy &an ma)e that sale. 2. Believe that a "reater po-er 1 "lo.ali3ation 1 &an elevate their or&e to strate"i& vision. As one Indian &ommander &omplained% 5We are strate"i& s'&)ersE5 What passes or "rand strate"y in the Indian military is nothin" more than 5FG* ta&ti&s 1 India0s lon"1simmerin"% hi"h1altit'de version o tren&h="'errilla -ar are -ith Pa)istan over the disp'ted Famm' G *ashmir re"ion. N'&leari3in" the leet on *ara&hi0s say1 so mi"ht seem the pr'dent tit or tat% .'t it hardly &onstit'tes a strate"i& naval vision -hen the leaders in yo'r ind'stry have lon" sin&e t'rned in their ta&ti&al n')es and loaded 'p on pre&ision1"'ided missiles. @lo.ali3ation is splinterin" the &on&ept o national se&'rity% "eneratin" ne- mar)ets or .oth s'pranational and s'.1national se&'rity% t-o ven'es in -hi&h naval or&es o er 'ni?'e response attri.'tes. Thro'"h its in ormation te&hnolo"y se&tor% India is .e&omin" a ma>or player in the pro&ess o "lo.ali3ation% sportin" more millionaires than any &o'ntry in the -orld #2$. At some point% it -ill .e as)ed to "ive somethin" .a&)% and a visionary internationalist navy -ill ans-er the mail ni&ely so lon" as it is "ood or somethin" other than h'mpin" lots o n')es aro'nd territorial -aters. 4. Ma)e a de&ision to t'rn their Navy operational o&'s to-ard in l'en&in" events ashore. I -as .oth "rati ied and ama3ed to hear so many Indian admirals re er to the !.S. Navy0s 1HH2 -hite paper% 5.../rom the Sea%5 as a "reat t'rnin" point in naval strate"y 1 "rati ied .e&a'se I had a small role in shapin" that do&'ment% ama3ed .e&a'se I al-ays had ass'med the Indians loo)ed more to @orsh)ov than Mahan. @ranted% there -as some -a<in" nostal"i& a.o't the 5spe&ta&'lar Soviet Navy%5 and more than a e- Indian admirals revealed .itterness a.o't Washin"ton0s e orts to 5demoni3e5 the Indian Navy .e&a'se o its old Soviet #and no- +'ssian$ ties. B't .y and lar"e the la"s revealed a real admiration or the !.S. Navy0s e ort to shi t rom a .l'e1-ater to a littoral o&'s. A&t'ally% it -as almost an envy% simply .e&a'se the !.S. Navy seems to )no- -hat it -ants to do on&e it "ains a&&ess to 5events ashore%5 and the Indians have not really made that &o"nitive leap. They )no- they -ant the &apa.ility9 they >'st are not s're yet ho- they -o'ld 'se it. A"ain% this is .e&a'se the Indian military a&ts as tho'"h se&'rity is somethin" they import% li)e so many +'ssian s'.s% not somethin" they e<port to the -orld.

B. Ma)e a sear&hin" and earless inventory o their la&) o involvement in re&ent international &oalitions. In his impressive symposi'm presentation% retired Indian Navy +ear Admiral *. +a>a Menon noted ho- the Indian Navy has avoided n'mero's opport'nities over the past "eneration to >oin m'ltinational maritime &oalitions in response to si"ni i&ant re"ional insta.ilities #e.".% tan)er -ars% Iran1Ira? War% Persian @'l War$% even tho'"h the Indian Army has lon" played a si"ni i&ant pea&e)eepin" role in !.N. operations. In short% he ar"'ed% the Indian Navy or ar too lon" has p'rs'ed an e<&essively narro- interpretation o the role o navies in re"ional and international se&'rity. As he -ryly stated% re"ional po-er is a lot li)e se< appeal: no matter ho- o ten India admires itsel in the mirror% it isn0t a re"ional po-er 'ntil o'tside po-ers re&o"ni3e it as s'&h. ;r as I -o'ld p't it% India seems less the re"ional po-er pre&isely .e&a'se it does not employ its Navy in the manner o a sea1.ased "reat po-er. A small po-er may have re"ional interests% .'t only a "reat po-er has re"ional responsi.ilities. C. Admit their mista)es in or&e str'&t're plannin". Despite the s&rappy "eni's o their pl'"1and1play approa&h to p'r&hases o orei"n plat orms and systems% the Indians have not made m'&h o a transition to a post1Cold War naval environment. As some yo'n"er o i&ers &omplained% the Indian Navy still remains ar more s'ited to the sort o open1sea ship .attles asso&iated -ith World War II than to the littoral1 o&'sed strate"ies o net-or)1&entri& -ar are. In a n'tshell% the Indian Navy remains an anti1ship missile in a &r'ise missile -orld. It tal)s a "ood "ame on in l'en&in" events ashore% .'t it &ontin'es to .'y or sea denial. B't may.e that is an inevita.le o't&ome rom p'r&hasin" the .'l) o yo'r naval plat orms rom the -orld0s "reat land po-er. 2. !nderstand they are a relatively yo'n" Navy% -ith the short&omin"s that &ome rom a la&) o international e<perien&e. I -as str'&) .y ho- many retired Indian la" o i&ers )ept re errin" to their Navy as yo'n"% or even adoles&ent. Despite a naval tradition "oin" .a&) to anti?'ity% Indian admirals -ill tell yo' that their .eloved instit'tion still has a lot o "ro-in" 'p to do. In their minds% it ta)es a &ent'ry to mat're a navy% so /e.r'ary0s "rand &ele.ration mar)ed >'st the ro'"h hal -ay point to -hat they dream the Indian Navy is &apa.le o .e&omin". I &o'ld not help .'t ima"ine the Indian Navy as a yo'n" man% a.andoned in his in an&y .y his ather #+oyal Navy$% or&ed to spend his yo'th -ith his e&&entri& a'nt #Soviet Navy$% -ho no- -ants to .rea) o't and see the -orld or himsel 1 or perhaps -ith his ri&h% -orld1-ise 'n&le #!.S. Navy$. And i that ma)es it so'nd li)e the Indian Navy has a &omple<% &on li&ted% almost love1hate relationship -ith all three navies% then it is an apt metaphor. I. 8<pand their national se&'rity paradi"m .eyond the 5sa&red soil syndrome.5 This is another "olden n'""et rom Admiral Menon% -ho des&ri.es this 5&'lt o the land or&es5 as stemmin" rom past -ars -ith China #1H22$ and Pa)istan #1H2C% 1HI1$. Stran"ely eno'"h% it is possi.le to ar"'e that no other state in the -orld sho'ld &are either more or less than India a.o't the san&tity o its .orders. ;n one hand% no nation has lost more land sin&e World War II #e.".% Pa)istan% Ban"ladesh$. ;n the other hand% no e&onomy today .etter demonstrates the 5death o distan&e5 asso&iated -ith in ormation te&hnolo"y 1 India prod'&es ro'"hly hal o the -orld0s so t-are% literally phonin" it in to the rest o the "lo.al e&onomy. In Ne- 6or) Times &ol'mnist Thomas /riedman0s le<i&on% India is at on&e a leadin" 5le<'s5 e&onomy

#i.e.% hi"h1te&hnolo"y prod'&er$ and a &lassi& 5olive tree5 so&iety #i.e.% still i"htin" over seemin"ly meanin"less .its o land$ #4$. @ranted% the sa&red soil syndrome is not "oin" to disappear anytime soon% .'t some strate"i& .alan&e is needed. And in the military -orld% s'&h vision &an &ome only rom the naval servi&e. J. Improve their relationships -ith all small littoral nei"h.ors. In many -ays the Indian Navy -o'ld li)e to s'pplant the !.S. Navy as the Indian ;&ean0s naval% net-or)in" ,eviathan 1 the tr'sted .i" .rother everyone &an t'rn to in moments o tro'.le. In some -ays% this -ill never happen. By de inition% any re"ion0s smaller po-ers -ant and need a distant riend -ho &an stand 'p to the nei"h.orhood .'lly% and or many small littoral states% India &omes &losest to ittin" that pe>orative title. /rom India0s perspe&tive% they0re damned i they do and damned i they don0t: i they try to a&t the part o re"ional he"emoni&% they -ill only s&are smaller po-ers into &loser relian&e on !.S. naval po-er% and yet in the a.sen&e o any prod'&tive inp't% India has a hard time demonstratin" to its nei"h.ors that it &an play a 'se 'l% leadin" role in ena.lin" re"ional se&'rity. In s'm% India possesses too lar"e a navy not to play a .i""er sta.ili3in" role in the Indian ;&ean 1 espe&ially as the -ater-ay0s role in -orld ener"y trans ers in&reases 1 .'t it needs to .'ild relationships o tr'st -ith its smaller nei"h.ors slo-ly over time. H. Ma)e some amends to re"ional rivals. The o.vio's &andidates here are Pa)istan and China% neither o -hi&h made it to the leet revie-% and that0s too .ad. Pa)istan -as not invited% and China re 'sed to &ome .e&a'se its ally -as e<&l'ded. India &an .'ild all the 5.rid"es o riendship5 it -ants a&ross Asia% .'t so lon" as those t-o &o'ntries remain ?'asi enemies or at least heated rivals it is hard to see India a&hievin" the sort o pro"ressive sta.ility1enhan&in" re"ional role it desires or its "ro-in" navy. And a"ain% that0s too .ad% or no o&ean is in need o strate"i& sta.ility more than the Indian ;&ean% -hi&h is ar"'a.ly the most n'&leari3ed o the seven seas #B$. 1K. Ma)e an inventory o the "lo.al maritime inse&'rities they need to play a more prominent role in red'&in". The Indians are ond o pointin" o't that not only do they sit astride the t-o most important &ommer&ial straits in the -orld #(orm'3 and Mala&&a$% .'t they also are sit'ated sma&) da. .et-een t-o o the most important nar&oti& &enters 1 the @olden Cres&ent to the West and the @olden Trian"le to the 8ast. Toss in the a&t that modern hi"h1seas pira&y is espe&ially &on&entrated in the Indian ;&ean and So'th China Sea% pl's all the overlappin" soverei"nty &laims in .oth% and yo' have a si3ea.le se&'rity a"enda or any -o'ld1.e re"ional naval po-er. And -hen yo' "et all those ho'ses in order% "et ready to ta&)le environmental dama"e% risin" o&ean levels% and altered -eather patterns. In s'm% India0s "ro-in" naval po-er &o'ld .e p't to "ood 'se a&ross a very .road ran"e o re"ional &olle&tive se&'rity needs. 11. See) an e<panded navy1to1navy relationship -ith the -orld0s sole military s'perpo-er. !.S. naval presen&e in the Indian ;&ean littoral isn0t "oin" a-ay anytime soon. There are simply too many states there that -ant the &olle&tive "ood the !.S. Navy is sellin"% and it is a tr'sted .rand -ith a lon"% solid rep'tation. I yo' loo) at !.S. naval &risis response over the past ?'arter1&ent'ry% it is apparent that this area is the Department o Navy0s operational &enter o "ravity. As ormer Indian orei"n se&retary F. N. Di<it &ommented a.o't in&reased !.S. naval presen&e in

so'th-est Asia ollo-in" the Persian @'l War: 5These are the a&ts o li e.5 India .e&omes a "en'ine naval re"ional po-er only in &on>'n&tion -ith the !.S. Navy 1 not in opposition to it% or even as a mar)eted alternative. The !.S. Navy is the Mi&roso t o -orld navies9 it simply sets too many operational standards and proto&ols to .e i"nored. 12. (avin" a&hieved this a-a)enin" rom the strate"i& isolation o the Cold War% &arry their ne- messa"e o internationalism to the -orld. This year0s International /leet +evie- -as a "reat start. The Indian naval leadership .ro'"ht me to this star1 st'dded "atherin" to 1 as one retired vi&e admiral p't it 1 5Say somethin" a.o't the 't're to the >'nior o i&ers in the .a&) o the hall.5 B't they also .ro'"ht me to M'm.ai% >'st as they .ro'"ht all those orei"n la" o i&ers% to impress 'pon me a sense o all they have a&&omplished in .'ildin" this navy over the past ive de&ades% and -hat they hope to do -ith it in the 't're. And I did "o a-ay impressed% not only -ith the Indian Navy% .'t also -ith the in&redi.le diversity% vi.ran&y% and am.ition that is today0s India. Why India Matters As noted diplomat Sashi Tharoor ar"'es% India is pro.a.ly 5the most important &o'ntry or the 't're o the -orld.5#C$ I "lo.ali3ation s'&&eeds in the !nited States or the 8'ropean !nion% no one -ill .e too s'rprised. A ter all% "lo.ali3ation demands less &han"e o these &o'ntries than it does o the -orld aro'nd them. And i "lo.ali3ation ails in China or +'ssia% many li)e-ise -ill .e 'ns'rprised% or it re?'ires m'&h &han"e rom .oth so&ieties 1 perhaps too m'&h too ?'i&)ly. B't -hether "lo.ali3ation s'&&eeds in India sho'ld interest >'st a.o't everyone aro'nd the -orld% or i "lo.ali3ation &an s'&&eed in a demo&rati& so&iety -here hal the pop'lation is illiterate and terri.ly impoverished% then it &an s'&&eed >'st a.o't any-here. Conversely% i it &annot s'&&eed in a ree1mar)et e&onomy that eat'res the -orld0s lar"est pool o in ormation te&hnolo"y -or)ers% there is little hope or m'&h o the -orld0s pop'lation. Not too lon" a"o% Se&retary o De ense Donald +'ms eld &hara&teri3ed India as a &o'ntry 5threatenin" other people% in&l'din" the !.S.% Western 8'rope and &o'ntries in West Asia.5 #2$ In my dealin"s -ith Wall Street as part o a Naval War Colle"e pro>e&t on "lo.ali3ation% I have spo)en -ith a n'm.er o inan&ial e<e&'tives a.o't India and its role in the "lo.al e&onomy% and I have o'nd ?'ite a di erent appre&iation there #I$. In a&t% .esides China% there is no &o'ntry in the -orld a.o't -hi&h there is s'&h a h'"e "ap .et-een ho- the !.S. se&'rity esta.lishment and the !.S. inan&ial esta.lishment vie- 1 respe&tively 1 the se&'rity 5threat5 and the e&onomi& 5opport'nity.5 India s' ers some pro o'nd military inse&'rities 1 the sort that o ten derail a so&iety0s .est attempts to open itsel to the o'tside -orld. The Indian Navy is the &o'ntry0s .est near1 and lon"1term instr'ment or positively assertin" itsel as a or&e or re"ional and "lo.al sta.ility. The B'sh administration needs to thin) serio'sly a.o't -hat sort o se&'rity relationship it -ants -ith India in the &omin" years. Dep'ty Se&retary o State +i&hard Armita"e0s May trip to Ne- Delhi -as a h'"e step in the ri"ht dire&tion% si"nalin" an easin" o the restri&tions on military &onta&ts imposed .y

the Clinton administration ollo-in" Indian n'&lear -eapons tests in 1HHJ. ,et0s hope it >'mp starts a ar .roader men' o strate"i& &ooperation.