EU appoints military attaché in mission in India

The European Union (EU) has posted a military attaché to its mission in India for the first time, reflecting an intensification of defence and security ties between the two sides following the grouping’s pivot to the Indo-Pacific in recent years.

The military attaché assumed his position in the EU delegation in New Delhi last week.

Notably, the EU currently has military attachés in fewer than 15 countries, and the grouping posted its first attaché to the US only in early 2020.

The development comes two years after the EU unveiled its strategy for the Indo-Pacific, a region perceived as crucial for the grouping since around 40% of the foreign trade of member states passes through the South China Sea.

Besides the shared concern of ensuring stability in the Indo-Pacific, intensified geopolitical competition in the region is putting a strain on trade and supply chains.

EU ambassador Hervé Delphin described the appointment of the military attaché as an investment that “will facilitate military-to-military contacts, not just military-to-diplomatic contacts”.

The EU has “moved as a global security and defence actor” to build more opportunities and to see what both sides can offer to each other.

When the proposal for posting a military attaché in India was mooted some years ago, the external affairs ministry backed it while the response from the defence ministry was not enthusiastic.

However, the situation changed following China’s aggressive actions across the region and the EU’s focus on the Indo-Pacific.

India and the EU conducted their first joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Guinea on October 24 to reinforce maritime security cooperation in the region.

The exercise followed the third India- EU maritime security dialogue in Brussels on October 5.