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Supreme command of India's armed forces--the third-largest in the world-- rests with the president, but actual responsibility for national defense lies with the cabinet committee for political affairs under the chairmanship of the prime minister. The minister of defense is responsible to parliament for all defense matters. India's military command structure has no joint defense staff or unified command apparatus. The ministry of defense provides administrative and operational control over the three services through their respective chiefs of staff. The armed forces have always been loyal to constitutional authority and maintain a tradition of non-involvement in political affairs.

The army numbers about 1.1 million personnel and fields 34 divisions. Designed primarily to defend the country's frontiers, the army has become heavily committed to internal security duties in Kashmir and the Northeast.

The navy is much smaller, but it is relatively well-armed among Indian Ocean navies, operating one aircraft carrier, 41 surface combatants, and 18 submarines. The fleet is aging, and replacement of ships and aircraft has not been adequately funded. India's coast guard is small and is organized along the lines of the U.S. Coast Guard. With India's long coastline and extensive Exclusive Economic Zone, the navy and coast guard work hard to patrol the waters dictated by India's economic and strategic interests.

The air force, the world's fourth largest, has over 600 combat aircraft and more than 500 transports and helicopters. The air force takes pride in its ability to fly low and fast, as well as to operate in the extremes of temperature and altitude ranging from the Thar Desert to the Siachen Glacier. The air force has enhanced the capability of its fighter force with the addition of the multi-role Sukhoi 30, and it hopes to replace much of its Mig-21 fleet with the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft currently under development.

Military branches: Army, Navy (including naval air arm), Air Force, various security or paramilitary forces (includes Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, and Rashtriya Rifles)

Military manpower - military age: 17 years of age

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 274,679,455 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 161,223,332 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 10,759,607 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $10.055 billion (FY00)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.5% (FY00)