Almost 20 years since the establishment of the ‘Quad’ – a key mechanism for linking India’s shared strategic interests with those of Australia, Japan, and the United States – India’s growing alignment with these countries is creating new possibilities for military cooperation.

In a new report from the United States Studies Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney, Dr Prakash Gopal, a lecturer at the University of Wollongong explores the possibility of developing a collective deterrence and defence framework within the Quad to buttress Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific.

“Australia and regional partners like India are breaking ground on new and more intentional forms of cooperation,” says USSC CEO Dr Michael Green of India and collective defence in the Indo-Pacific: Possibilities, prospects and challenges. “In this report, Dr Gopal explores the emerging role of India as a balancing power in a new multipolar regional order.”

The report details the historic shift in India’s security outlook, from its non-aligned stance during the Cold War and close relationship with Russia to its gradual alignment with the Australia, Japan, and the United States amid tensions with Pakistan and China.

It further delineates the possibilities of – and limits to – expanded Indian military engagement in the region given the country’s foreign policy history and geopolitical sensitivities.

Dr Gopal, a former Indian naval officer, workshops scenarios on how India could potentially respond to various conflicts in the region – including in the Taiwan Strait – depending on the extent to which its national interests are engaged. His report concludes with policy considerations for India’s Quad partners, including:

  • Developing shared military capabilities through cooperation in defence industry and research;
  • Developing a combined operational doctrine for the Indian Ocean Region through wargaming and tabletop exercises; and
  • Building a security agenda for the Quad.

The report is part of the USSC’s research initiative Indo-Pacific strategic futures: Multipolarity, alignment dynamics and collective defence, which examines how regional powers are adapting to a new multipolar strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific.

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