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India Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Indian Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard; Defense Security Corps

Ministry of Home Affairs: Central Armed Police Forces (includes Assam Rifles, Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Security Guards, Sashastra Seema Bal) (2023)

note 1: the Defense Security Corps provides security for Ministry of Defense sites

note 2: the Border Security Force (BSF) is responsible for the Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh borders; the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB or Armed Border Force) guards the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders

note 3: the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) includes a Rapid Reaction Force (RAF) for riot control and the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA) for counter-insurgency operations 

note 4: the Assam Rifles are under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, while operational control falls under the Ministry of Defense (specifically the Indian Army)

note 5: the Territorial Army (TA) is a military reserve force composed of part-time volunteers who provide support services to the Indian Army; it is a part of the Regular Army with the role of relieving Regular Army units from static duties and assisting civil authorities with natural calamities and maintaining essential services in emergencies, as well as providing units for the Regular Army as required

Military expenditures

2% of GDP (2023 est.)
2.1% of GDP (2022 est.)
2.2% of GDP (2021 est.)
2.5% of GDP (2020 est.)
2.4% of GDP (2019 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 1.5 million active personnel (approximately 1.25 million Army; 65,000 Navy; 140,000 Air Force; 12,000 Coast Guard) (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the majority of the military's inventory consists of Russian- and Soviet-origin equipment; there is a smaller, but growing mix of Western and domestically produced arms; Russia continues to be the leading provider of arms to India, although in recent years India has increased acquisitions from other suppliers, including France, Israel, and the US; it is one of the world's largest importers of arms; India's defense industry is capable of producing a range of air, land, missile, and naval weapons systems for both domestic use and export; it also produces weapons systems under license (2023)

Military service age and obligation

ages vary by service, but generally 16.5-27 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription (2023)

note 1: in 2022, the Indian Government announced that it would begin recruiting 46,000 men aged 17.5-21 annually to serve on 4-year contracts under a process called the Agnipath scheme; at the end of their tenure, 25% would be retained for longer terms of service, while the remainder would be forced to leave the military, although some of those leaving would be eligible to serve in the Coast Guard, the Merchant Navy, civilian positions in the Ministry of Defense, and in the paramilitary forces of the Ministry of Home Affairs, such as the Central Armed Police Forces and Assam Rifles

note 2: as of 2023, women made up less than 1% of the Army, about 1% of the Air Force, and about 6% of the Navy 

note 3: the Indian military accepts citizens of Nepal and Bhutan; descendants of refugees from Tibet who arrived before 1962 and have resided permanently in India; peoples of Indian origin from nations such as Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India; eligible candidates from “friendly foreign nations” may apply to the Armed Forces Medical Services 

note 4: the British began to recruit Nepalese citizens (Gurkhas) into the East India Company Army during the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814-1816), and the Gurkhas subsequently were brought into the British Indian Army; following the partition of India in 1947, an agreement between Nepal, India, and Great Britain allowed for the transfer of the 10 regiments from the British Indian Army to the separate British and Indian armies; six regiments of Gurkhas (aka Gorkhas in India) regiments went to the new Indian Army; a seventh regiment was later added

Military deployments

1,800 Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); 200 Golan Heights (UNDOF); 675 Lebanon (UNIFIL); 2,300 South Sudan (UNMISS); 580 Sudan (UNISFA) (2023)

Military - note

the Indian military performs a variety of missions; it is primarily focused on China and Pakistan and territorial defense, while secondary missions include regional power projection, UN peacekeeping deployments, humanitarian operations, and support to internal security forces; it has fought in several significant conflicts and counterinsurgency operations since 1947 and regularly conducts large-scale exercises; the military may act internally under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) of 1958, an act of the Indian Parliament that granted special powers to put down separatist movements in "disturbed areas"; the AFSPA of 1958 and a virtually identical law, the Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Powers Act of 1990, have been in force since 1958 in parts of northeast India, and since 1990 in Jammu & Kashmir

the Army is organized into 14 operational corps; the basic field formations under the corps are approximately 40 armored, artillery, infantry, mechanized, or mountain infantry divisions; there are also a number of independent airborne, armored, and artillery brigades, as well as special operations forces; in 2023, the Army announced that it was reorganizing its operational corps and divisions into division-sized “integrated battle groups,” which the Army assessed would be more agile and flexible

the Navy is a blue water force that operates in seas stretching from the western Mediterranean to the Strait of Malacca and the western Pacific; it routinely conducts months-long deployments, exercises with other navies, and conducts a variety of missions such as counter-piracy, humanitarian, and naval diplomacy; its principal ships include two aircraft carriers, more than 50 destroyers, frigates, corvettes, and large patrol vessels, 16 attack submarines, and two nuclear-powered ballistic missile capable submarines; the Navy also has several combat aircraft and anti-submarine warfare helicopter squadrons, as well as a marine amphibious brigade and a marine commando force

the Air Force is one of the World’s largest with more than 600 British-, French-, Russian/Soviet-, and domestically produced combat aircraft, plus nearly 500 combat helicopters; the tri-service Strategic Forces Command manages all of India’s strategic missile forces 

the short 1962 Sino-India War left in place one of the World’s longest disputed international borders, resulting in occasional standoffs between Indian and Chinese security forces, including lethal clashes in 1975 and 2020; meanwhile, India and Pakistan have fought several conflicts since 1947, including the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 and the Indo-Pakistan and Bangladesh War of Independence of 1971, as well clashes over the disputed region of Kashmir (the First Kashmir War of 1947 and the 1999 Kargil Conflict); a fragile cease-fire in Kashmir was reached in 2003, revised in 2018, and reaffirmed in 2021, although the Line of Control remains contested, and India has accused Pakistan of backing armed separatists and terrorist organizations in Jammu and Kashmir where Indian forces have conducted counterinsurgency operations since the 1980s; in addition, India and Pakistan have battled over the Siachen Glacier of Kashmir, which was seized by India in 1984 with Pakistan attempting to retake the area at least three times between 1985 and 1995; despite a cease-fire, both sides continue to maintain a permanent military presence there with outposts at altitudes above 20,000 feet (over 6,000 meters) where most casualties are due to extreme weather and the hazards of operating in the high mountain terrain of the world’s highest conflict, including avalanches, exposure, and altitude sickness (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding India on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of India 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about India 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.