India expands strategic presence; to have defence attaches in more countries in Africa

In a first, India will post defence attaches in several countries, with a focus on Africa, aimed at strengthening strategic ties and military diplomacy amid China’s increasing efforts to expand its influence in the African nations.

New Delhi will appoint new defence attaches in the African countries of Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, and Djibouti.

This decision is in line with India’s priority to expand its strategic engagement with the continent, news agency PTI reported.

This will be the second time that India will post an attaché for Djibouti, which holds maritime significance owing to being surrounded by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Many African countries have already expressed keen interest in obtaining Indian military platforms, equipment, and hardware, the PTI report added.

Furthermore, India will post defence attaches in the Philippines, Armenia, and Poland as well. New Delhi is also planning to rationalise its teams of military officials in its embassy in Moscow and high commission in London, PTI reported.

A few of the defence attaches posted in these nations are set to be deployed in other regions as part of the rationalisation process.

As many as 16 defence attaches from the Indian Army, the Navy, and the Air Force will assume their new positions soon, PTI reported.

India’s Growing Ties with Africa

Over the past few years, India has established itself at the forefront, flagging concerns, challenges and aspirations of the Global South or the developing nations, especially the African continent.

India’s relationship with Africa saw an upward tick amid China’s consistent efforts to expand its influence in Africa.

The induction of the 55-nation African Union as a permanent member of the G20 was seen as a major milestone in India’s presidency of the grouping of the 20 big economies of the world last year.

Last month, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that countries of the Global South feel for each other on several issues.

Addressing an event during his visit to Tokyo, the minister highlighted India’s leadership in the Global South and mentioned two meetings it convened to listen to various concerns of 125 countries, even as it bashed China for skipping those.

“On a lot of issues, these countries feel for each other.

The feeling has been intensified by Covid because many countries of the Global South felt that they were the last in the line to get the vaccine.

They even felt at the time when India became G20 President that their concerns were not even on the agenda of the G20,” Jaishankar said at the Nikkei Forum on the India-Japan partnership in Tokyo.

He further stated that the Global South does not consider it to be a “coincidence” that “it was under the Indian presidency that the African Union, which had long been promised a seat in the G20, got a seat”.

“So, the Global South believes us,” he said.

Bolstering Ties with Philippines, Poland, Armenia

India is also looking at further expanding defence ties with the Philippines against the increasing global concerns over China’s increasing military assertiveness in the South China Sea.

These two countries have also been witnessing a boost in their relationship over the past few years.

In January 2022, India sealed a $375 million deal with the Philippines for supplying three batteries of missiles, PTI reported.

India’s decision to appoint a defence attache in Armenia came as the country, located in the Caucasus region and a former Soviet member, shows keen interest in deepening ties with the Asian nation.

In 2023, arms deal to supply Indian military hardware including multi-barrel rocket launchers to Armenia was firmed up.

The decision to post a defence attache in Poland, a member of the European Union (EU), is reflective of India’s desire to expand two-way defence ties, PTI reported.

Last year, the EU posted a military attache to its mission in India for the first time.