The Indian Armed Forces

The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of India. It consists of four professional uniformed services: the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Indian Coast Guard. Additionally, the Indian Armed Forces are supported by several paramilitary organisations (Assam Rifles and Special Frontier Force) and various inter-service institutions such as the Strategic Forces Command. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Armed Forces are under the management of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which is led by the Union Cabinet Minister of Defense. With strength of over 1.3 million active personnel, it is world’s 3rd largest military forceand the largest standing volunteer army in the world.

The headquarters of the Indian Armed Forces is in New Delhi, the capital city of India.  India honours its armed forces and military personnel annually on Armed Forces Flag Day, 7 December. The Indian Armed Forces are the world’s largest arms importer, with Russia, Israel, and to some extent, France and United States being the primary foreign suppliers of military equipment.

The Armed Forces have six main tasks;

  • To assert the territorial integrity of India.
  • To defend the country if attacked by a foreign nation.
  • To send own amphibious warfare equipment to take the battle to enemy shores.
  • To follow the Cold Start doctrine, meaning that the Indian Armed Forces are able to quickly mobilise and take offensive actions without crossing the enemy’s nuclear-use threshold.
  •  To support the civil community in case of disasters (e.g. flooding).
  • To participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations in consonance with India’s commitment to the United Nations Charter.

Indian Army : The basic responsibility of the Army is to safeguard the territorial integrity of the nation against external aggression. The force is headed by the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. The Indian Army has seen military action during the First Kashmir War, Operation Polo, the Sino-Indian War, the Second Kashmir War, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Sri Lankan Civil War and the Kargil War. The Indian army has dedicated one brigade of troops to the UN’s standby arrangements. The Army is often required to assist the civil administration during internal security disturbances and in the maintenance of law and order, in organising relief operations during natural calamities like floods, earthquakes and cyclones and in the maintenance of essential services.

Indian Navy : The foundation of the modern Indian Navy was laid in the seventeenth century when the East India Company had established a maritime force, thereby graduating in time to the establishment of the Royal Indian Navy in 1934. With 58,350 men and women, including 7,000 personnel of Indian naval air arm, 1,200 Marine Commandos (MARCOS) and 1,000 personnel of the Sagar Prahari Bal, it is one of the world’s largest navy. The navy is under the command of the Chief of the naval staff – an Admiral. The Indian navy is deployed under three area commands, each headed by a flag officer. In recent years, the Indian Navy has undergone extensive modernization and expansion with an intention to increase its capabilities as a recognized blue-water navy. It is also only one of the six navies in the world that has nuclear capabilities. In addition it is in command of the BrahMos which is the fastest cruise missile in the world with speeds of 2.8 Mach.

Indian Airforce :  The Indian Air Force (IAF) today, having completed more than six decades of dedicated service to the nation, is a modern, technology-intensive force distinguished by its commitment to excellence and professionalism. The Indian Air Force was officially established on 8th October 1932, and on 1st April 1954. With the passage of time, the Indian Air Force undertook massive upgrading of its aircraft and equipments. In recent times however, India has manufactured its own aircraft, including the HAL Tejas, a 4th generation fighter, and the HAL Dhruv, a multi-role helicopter, which has been exported to several countries, including Israel, Burma, Nepal and Ecuador. India also maintains UAV squadrons which can be used to carry out ground attacks and aerial surveillance.

Indian Coast Guard : The Coast Guard (CG) was set up as an Armed Force of the Union in 1978 on recommendations of Rustamji Committee for preservation and protection of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The CG is responsible for keeping India’s EEZ measuring over 2.02 million sq. kms. under regular surveillance in order to prevent poaching/ smuggling and other illegal activities in the EEZ. The coast guard works closely with the Indian Navy and the Indian Customs Department, and is usually headed by a naval officer of the rank of Vice-Admiral.

The Primary duty of Indian Coast Guard is:

  • To protect our ocean and offshore wealth including Oil, Fish and Minerals.
  • Protect the artificial Islands and off-shore installations.
  • To assist Mariners in distress and safeguard life and property at sea
  • To enforce Maritime Laws with respect to sea, shipping, poaching, smuggling and narcotics.
  • To preserve marine environment and ecology and to protect rare species.
  • To collect scientific data
  • To assist Indian Navy during war situation

The Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence is responsible for the indigenous production of equipment used by the Indian Armed Forces. It comprises the 41 Indian Ordnance Factories under control of the Ordnance Factories Board and 8 Defence PSUs namely, HAL, BEL, BEML, BDL, MDL, GSL, GRSE and Midhani.

The Royal Indian Navy was first established by the British while much of India was under the control of the East India Company. The first Indian to be granted a commission was Sub Lieutenant D. N. Mukherji, who joined the Royal Indian Marine as an engineer officer in 1928.

The major commitments of the Indian Navy constitute patrol missions, anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, the ‘Singapore Indian Maritime Bilateral Exercise’ with the Republic of Singapore Navy in the Straits of Malacca, maintaining a military presence in Southeast Asias waters, and joint exercises with other countries, such as Brazil, South Africa, the United States and Japan, France (Varuna naval exercises), People’s Republic of China, the Russian Navy (INDRA naval exercises)

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