India–Thailand Security Cooperation: Strengthening the Indo-Pacific Resolve

Published date01 April 2020
AuthorVivek Mishra,Mark Shawn Cogan
Date01 April 2020
Subject MatterResearch Articles
Security Cooperation:
Strengthening the
Indo-Pacific Resolve
Mark Shawn Cogan1
Vivek Mishra2,3
In the past , India’s resolve to connect with cou ntries furt her to its east ce n-
tred on its relation ship with ASE AN as a group and lacked a hol istic outlook
as it emphasised o n a lopsided approach th at left out the se curity dimensio n.
The bilateral rel ationship bet ween Bangkok and New Delh i marks an emergi ng
departure from t his past trend. I n the recent past , Thailand has e merged as a
bright spot in India’s vast arr ay of security relat ionships, wit h growing focus on
maritime security, counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, joint
patrols and exchange of personnel in training. Besides boosting interoperability,
increasing joint ac tions seek to marr y India’s Act East polic y with Thailand’s
Look West policy, both of which eme rged in the past de cade of the twenti -
eth century. Both cou ntries look to stre ngthening t heir resolve in the Indo -
Pacific, even a s the region’s stability g ets furthe r complicated by sharp ening
Great Power politics. This a rticle scrut inises the India –Thailand relationsh ip
from a security per spective and tests the compati bility of this emerging bilater al
relationship wit h a regional security architecture conce ptualisation in the Indo-
Pacific. A s such, this article seeks to fu lfil two important goals: f ill the literature
deficit in Indi a–Thailand relations that has of ten been eclipsed and subsequent ly
neglected by the over arching canvass of Ind ia–AS EAN relations a nd analyse
India–Thailand bi lateral relatio ns from the perspec tive of an emerging se curity
partners hip in the complex labyr inth of relationsh ips in the Indo- Pacific.
India, Thailand, BIMSTEC, security cooperation, military
1 College of Foreign Studies, Kansai Gaidai University, Osaka, Japan.
2 Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi, India.
3 Deputy Director, Kalinga Institute of Indo-Pacic Studies, Bhubaneswar, India.
Corresponding author:
Mark Shawn Cogan, College of Foreign Studies, Kansai Gaidai University, Osaka 573-1195, Japan.
Journal of Asian Security
and International Affairs
7(1) 36–56, 2020
The Author(s) 2020
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2347797020906651
Research Article
Cogan and Mishra 37
Recent political exchanges between India and Thailand have sparked a growing
economic and security partnership. India’s ‘Act East’ policy has been
complemented by Thailand’s ‘Act West’ policy in a merger of consequential
powers in the Andaman Sea. In addition to natural economic desires, New Delhi
and Bangkok share a host of national and regional security challenges, from the
formulation of a strategic response to China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific to
growing concerns about the spread of terrorism. Since the signing of a defence
cooperation memorandum of understanding in 2012, the two countries have
stepped up defence cooperation in the form of the Siam Maitree and Bay of
Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation
(BIMSTEC) joint military exercises. The Maitree exercises focused on drills and
procedures, involving counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations. The
joint military exercises shed light on the ongoing security collaboration between
Bangkok and New Delhi. Adversarial challenges from China and wider threats in
the Indian and Pacific Oceans act as a catalyst for further security cooperation
dialogue. Strategic impediments block India’s ultimate goals of increasing its
defence posture in the region, including the ability to control sea lines of
communication (SLOC) across the Andaman Sea. Further, numerous security
challenges threaten its ability to act as a provider of maritime security, including
the rise of piracy, terrorism and territorial disputes. For Prime Minister Narendra
Modi, the path to Indian security sector prominence leads through Southeast
Asia. India has been pushing to expand its influence in the region through a
number of economic and cultural initiatives. The lack of a regional defence
policy in ASEAN, however, means that India has to deal with each member state
individually. This article examines the emerging Indo-Thailand security
cooperation in the context of the Indo-Pacific security architecture.
Surveying and contributing to a sparse body of academic literature, this article
aims to cover traditional and non-traditional aspects of security cooperation
between the two countries in the Indo-Pacific region. We attempt to provide
clarity to the evolving Indo-Thai security cooperation space by highlighting a
perceptive increase in importance of the bilateral relationship, eclipsed earlier by
the broad canvas of India–ASEAN relations. Finally, we address specific issues of
security cooperation in traditional and non-traditional areas, especially in maritime
security and against the backdrop of a subtle Great Power rivalry between the
USA and China in the vast expanse that connects the two countries.
India–Thailand Bilateral Relations
The year 2017 marked the 70th anniversary of bilateral ties between India and
Thailand, a relationship that has been built on pragmatic cooperation, strategic
balancing and accommodation of rival powers, as well as well-intentioned cultural
and educational exchanges. Seven decades of India–Thailand relations began
with Indian independence in 1947, but they date back millennia. More than 2,000

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT