The integrated deterrence approach

by Syeda Tahreem Bukhari

The centrepiece of the US National Defence Strategy 2022 is ‘Integrat­ed Deterrence’, which was debuted by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin. He termed it as a new approach to achieving deterrence. Its pur­pose was to avoid military con­frontation and make use of partners and allies as well as their capabilities in countering the adversaries. It incorporates both military and non-military tactics to deter adversaries.

As per Sasha Baker, Deputy Under Sec­retary of Defence for Policy, integrated deterrence is to incorporate all tools of national power and its allies and part­ners in countering the warfighting areas, and other domains of conflict. Dr Colin Kahl highlighted the major purpose be­hind “integrated deterrence”, saying it is to “integrate allies and partners that are the actual asymmetric advantage that the United States has over any other competitor or potential adversary”.

The alliance system is vital to integrat­ed deterrence, “The US has to engage with its allies and partners so that their rivals realise that they’re taking on a co­alition of nations who are dedicated to sustaining a rules-based international order, they’re taking on more than just the United States”.

To achieve this “integrated deter­rence”, the United States’ engagement with India is now accelerating. In the 2+2 ministerial dialogue held in April 2022 between the US and India, they signed a bilateral space situational awareness arrangement.

This will facilitate sharing of greater information and cooperation in space. Their information-sharing partnership is expanding across all the war-fight­ing areas. They show their willingness to launch new supply chain coopera­tion measures that would allow them to support each other’s priority De­fence requirements. On October 2020, the USA and India signed an agreement named “Basic Exchange and Coopera­tion Agreement” that would give India access to the US geospatial intelligence-satellite images and analyses.

The US government has shown its will­ingness to approve sales of drones to In­dia, including armed drones. Although the US has been reluctant to supply drones, particularly armed drones be­cause they were incorporated into the Missile Technology Control Regime by their officials. But now the US has shift­ed its policy to consider drones as air­craft rather than missiles.

Furthermore, the Quadrilateral Se­curity Dialogue (QUAD) was created to facilitate relief operations during the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. It comprised the US, India, Australia, and Japan. It was an informal dialogue be­tween the states about naval cooper­ation. Through this platform, they are now expanding from the Pacific Ocean to the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

To counter China’s growing influence in the South China Sea, the dialogue shifted towards a strategic partnership. The leaders of the QUAD member coun­tries decided to revive the group during the ASEAN summit after that the mem­ber countries resumed group naval exer­cises. The way these countries indulged in joint military exercises and naval drills led to the militarisation of the In­dian Ocean. The Malabar exercises of the US with QUAD member states were per­ceived by Australia as a military alliance that is militarizing the Indian Ocean and maritime trade.

China even lodges protests against these countries that QUAD is having an anti-China approach, which they nev­er admitted. The QUAD Alliance has in­stilled security dilemmas in South Asian regional states. Moreover, the Quadri­lateral Security Dialogue was perceived by Beijing as an “Asian NATO” and anti-China. The Chinese officials also high­lighted, “China believes that military co­operation between countries should be conducive to regional peace and stabili­ty, rather than contrary”.

India’s assumed sense of supremacy always remained an obstacle to achiev­ing regional strategic stability. The US-integrated deterrence revolves around the strategy of empowering India to counter China. This further aired the feelings of supremacy over the regional countries in India. The US-India agree­ments depict that the US is tilted to­wards India in regional disputes. Both China and Pakistan claimed that this ap­proach by the West is destabilizing the region. While the US and India consider it a deterrence against Pakistan and Chi­na. The integrated deterrence approach adopted by them is creating a securi­ty dilemma in the region and escalating threats to the strategic stability of the region as the two nuclear states are war­mongering in the region.

The Nuclear Deterrence that ex­ists between Pakistan and India is also threatened by the nuclear expan­sion designs of India. Nuclear weap­ons should not be taken as an option as such a war can never be won. Their aggressive military modernisation and theatre command are creating instabil­ity in the region. Moreover, India vot­ed against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) provisions in the Unit­ed Nations General Assembly and de­manded permanent membership of the Security Council.

They even expressed their willingness to start a nuclear test program soon. In­dia was also given NSG membership in 2008 which resulted in nuclear escala­tion. These developments raised con­cerns about the aggressive Indian ap­proach toward nuclear modernisation for arsenal purposes.

Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi also raised concerns about India not signing the CTBT resolution: “India’s motive is not supporting the CTBT provisions is due to India wanting to keep the option of nuclear testing, which would badly af­fect the strategic stability of South Asia”.

Greater strategic and nuclear stability in the region is in the interest of all the regional states. India’s assumed sense of supremacy is the hurdle in any efforts toward the strategic stability, develop­ment, and inclusiveness of the region on any platform like SAARC or ASEAN.

India is perceived as an important key ally of the US to counter China’s growing influence via an integrated deterrence strategy. With its hegemonic designs in the South Asian region and its efforts to isolate Pakistan at the international lev­el, it has adopted aggressive policies and a confrontational attitude towards the regional states.

This approach of India backfired as it would isolate India itself in the re­gion and instigate security dilemmas in neighbouring states.

Syeda Tahreem Bukhari

The writer is a research officer at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS), AJK

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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir