International Security in the Indian Ocean Region

The Indian Navy Talwar-class frigate INS Tarkash (F50) transits alongside the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during a passing exercise with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, Indian Ocean, March 2018

International Security in the Indian Ocean Region

Assessing strategic risks and policy responses

An increasingly uncertain Indian Ocean

Chinese military expansion in the Indian Ocean region poses strategic risks to the United States and its allies and partners. The South Asia Initiative at APARC is studying these challenges and their implications for policymakers and military planners in Washington and other like-minded capitals.

Research Focus

As the United States and its like-minded partners have embraced the concept of the Indo-Pacific, they have accepted the strategic significance of the Indian Ocean region. Strategic competition between the United States and China is more militarized and war-prone in the western Pacific, but the Indian Ocean will grow in importance as China’s power and influence continue to expand. Beijing recognizes the importance of the Indian Ocean because it relies on critical energy and trade routes through the ocean, and it has recently begun to expand its military presence in the region. Over time, China’s growing capabilities are likely to pose strategic risks to the United States and to its allies and partners, chiefly India.

While the Indian Ocean has recently grown in prominence, the precise nature of its associated strategic risks and policy responses remains understudied. In particular, how will China’s military expansion into the Indian Ocean affect the security interests of the United States, India, and their partners? And to what extent can these states, individually and collectively, use existing concepts of deterrence to protect their interests?

These research questions have theoretical relevance because the case of the contemporary Indian Ocean may challenge established concepts such as geopolitics and deterrence, which were based on particular historical and geographic contexts. They have even more policy relevance, as policymakers and military planners in Washington and other like-minded capitals seek to craft effective and affordable responses.

The South Asia initiative at APARC is addressing these issues through a stream of research on key priorities in the Indian Ocean. Recently published research evaluates how a denial strategy could mitigate strategic risks. Other research, in collaboration with the Australian National University, uses a novel analytic technique to challenge policy assumptions about the Indian Ocean. A grant from the Australian Defense Department involves APARC scholars analyzing how minilateral groupings such as the Quad could deter coercion in the region.

Lead Researcher

fsi_bio

Arzan Tarapore

South Asia Research Scholar
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fsi_bio

Arzan Tarapore

South Asia Research Scholar

Selected Media


On the AUKUS Security Pact, Five Eyes, and Global Britain
Conversation Six, September 24, 2021



Indo-Pacific and Quad vs. China
India Ahead News, September 17, 2021

Publications


Indian Ocean Strategic Futures
Asia Policy, July 2021

Building Strategic Leverage in the Indian Ocean Region
The Washington Quarterly, December 2020

Commentary
 

Three Dilemmas Facing the Indo-Pacific's Regional Order
Asia-Pacific Bulletin 563, June 29, 2021

India, China, and the Quad's Defining Test
ASPI Strategist, June 29, 2021

India Should Prioritize a Denial Strategy in the Indian Ocean
The Interpreter, February 2021

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