Fostering Shared Air Interests In The IOR: Geopolitical Cooperation, Complexities And Compulsions

1. Regionalism has gained unprecedented leverage in the present geopolitical context as resources sharing, capabilities pooling, and interoperability have provided opportunity for state and non-state actors to harmonize on national interests. This notion has gained credence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as the states in the littorals and the hinterland seek to consolidate their mutual interest in an era of economic downfall, geostrategic unpredictability, and protectionist policies. Further, it is pertinent recognize that this compendium of national and regional interests also translates into the air domain where militaries and other stakeholders are inclined to exploit congruences in fulfilling strategic objectives through mutual cooperation measures. For instance, combined military exercise, other confidence building measures, experience sharing sessions and other reciprocal operational and training initiatives buttress the interlinkage between stakeholders of the region. However, the conundrum of rise in regionalism is that great powers, regional powers, and leading contender states along with the presence of extra regional players create power struggles and conflicts, overt or latent they may be, where the developing states become partisan to blocs or are pushed to their brims to maintain neutrality. In addition, the presence of extra regional actors, despite being welcomed by regional states, increases the tensions between regional powers and global actors. Adding to the conundrum, the rise of multinational organizations and the role of transnational actors creates a complex labyrinth in the geopolitical paradigm that developing states must navigate to safeguards their national interests.

2. This phenomenon is inevitable in the IOR as members of different multi stakeholder platforms and multilateral and bilateral association between states accede nations to exploit all instruments of national power to prevail by exploring commonalities and facing the realities of conflicting interests. In the wake of the pandemic, the effects of the pandemic continue to be variables in the national security landscape with unpredictable outcomes that feed into the symbiotic relationship between the economic recession and omnipresent global crises. Furthermore, this notion is expounded within air space management in a complex environment where regional dimensions and national frontiers play a main role in defining national policies. Accordingly, axioms of air power for developing nations have metamorphosed into unprecedented levels as they grapple the outcomes of geopolitical fallout in the post-COVID world. Despite this volatile milieu, the regionalist approach in the IOR and beyond grants the developing states the opportunity to safeguard their interests not only in the air space but in maritime, economic, and geopolitical domains and gain support particularly from regional powers. As a result of this regional measures, states' proclivity towards expanding the horizons of shared air interests and fostering cooperation among all stakeholders. This is particularly essential for developing countries that are struggling to safeguard their strategies in air domain under the microscope of economic instability, remnants of the pandemic, dwindling human security and regional and transnational compulsions that continue to change the strategic architecture.

3. Sub-themes for CAS-2023 are as follows.

  • Sub theme 1: Air Space Management: Strategic Approaches - Air space design, control, and management in a complex environment of regional dimensions giving credence to the notions of managing the air space with special reference to regional conflicts and heeding to the perspectives of a developing nation.
  • Sub theme 2: Air Power: Challenges and Opportunities - Role of air power of developing nations in a complex geopolitical environment era and its impact along with the ensuing outcomes.
  • Sub theme 3: Human Security Dimension - Air power potential in ensuring human security for a resilient future that encompasses economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security under its mantle.
  • Sub theme 4: Socioeconomic Compulsions - Sustaining air power strategies for developing nations in the present scenarios of unprecedented political and economic challenges in the domestic and regional contexts.
  • Sub theme 5: Sustenance under VUCA - Inter-relationship between Air Forces in order to sustain air power capabilities in a regional security landscape of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
  • Sub theme 6: Regional Coherence and Interdependence - Air power augmentation of developing nations under the concept of regionalism and mutually beneficial cooperation through overcoming challenges.