DPG Policy Brief

Developments in the Indian Military-2023

This is the third in a series of annual assessments by the DPG Senior Faculty covering significant developments in 2023.

The India-China border situation in 2023 remained fragile, marked by heightened military presence and underlying tensions, as well as speeded-up infrastructure development along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). India's Border Roads Organisation remained focused on building roads and tunnels that will provide all-weather connectivity to the LAC.

Three rounds of Corps commander-level meetings took place in 2023, but there was no agreement to resolve the continuing standoff at Depsang and Demchok. Despite political level meetings on the margins of various multilateral events, there was no breakthrough regarding the situation at the LAC.

The February 2021 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) is essentially holding but under increasing pressure from deadly cross-border terrorist attacks.

The eruption of ethnic violence in Manipur in May has brought the management and security of the India-Myanmar border into focus, with the influx of refugees and the movement of militant groups based in Myanmar being seen as contributory factors in the outbreak of violence.

The ground was set for the raising of three Integrated Theatre Commands for the Indian military, which should materialise in 2024.

2023 marked a significant shift towards gender inclusivity in the Indian armed forces, providing women with more opportunities and responsibilities across various roles and ranks.

Military capability development continued. 2023 was named the Year of Transformation for the Indian Army. The Indian Navy’s launched new warships, with approval likely for a second indigenous aircraft carrier.  The Indian Air Force is proceeding with the procurement and induction of fighters as well as military transport aircraft.

2023 saw continued focus on indigenisation, with 75% of the defence capital procurement budget being earmarked for domestic industry in the financial year 2023-24. Defence exports reached an all-time high.

As we look ahead to 2024, the Indian military will continue to strengthen deterrence against any future Chinese attempts at military coercion and unilateral actions to change the status quo at the LAC.

Challenges to military capability development will persist, from budgetary allocations to indigenisation.  The adoption of cutting-edge technology will also require a substantial increase in R&D expenditure. The Indian military has been studying the lessons of the Ukraine war, and these should now find place in restructuring and modernisation proposals, as well as operational concepts for the optimum utilisation of disruptive technologies.

To read this Policy Brief Vol. IX, Issue 3, please click "Developments in the Indian Military-2023".