The Indo-Pacific comprises most of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. For long, the Indian Navy has ensured that this very large oceanic realm, with its many choke points and seas, as well as vast and expansive littoral, remains open and secure for all those who wish to use this area for peaceful and legitimate purposes. As the focus of the world shifts to this region through ‘pivots’ and realignments, the Indian Navy continues to silently go about an onerous task that it has performed with aplomb, steadfast commitment and resilience.
The strategic attention of nations shifts either by economic interests or by threats posed to such interests. The focus of the world has now decisively shifted to the Indo-Pacific for some very compelling reasons. This region is presently the centre of global economic growth, vibrant trade and innovation, as also increasing prosperity. This attracts nations which wish to sell their products in large undeveloped markets, and those who want to source affordable talent and goods.
The Indo-Pacific is also witnessing many challenges to ‘Good Order’ at sea. These include an increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea, both military and otherwise, excessive and illegal fishing and exploitation of resources that rightfully belong to the nations that share EEZs and coastlines within the region, piracy and armed robbery, illegal migration, drug smuggling from the Makran coast and a thriving arms trade that threatens peace and stability in the region. These challenges have always existed, and, it is to the credit of the Indian Navy, the largest ‘Force for Good’ in the region, that these challenges have been met with resolve and not disrupted or denied freedom of the Seas.
In 2017, Indian Navy’s Commanders at their bi-annual meet in New Delhi, unveiled a plan to further improve the security of the region and meet new challenges posed by enhanced technological capabilities of inimical forces. The new ‘Mission-Based Deployment’ operating philosophy of the Navy envisaged a more robust and sustained presence by warships and aircraft in critical and vulnerable areas of the region. The plan was put into action by the end of 2017 and three years later, it has paid rich dividends to the Navy’s endeavours to be the Preferred Security Partner for nations in the region and be a force for peace, stability and equal opportunity for prosperity.
Whether it be the IOR, the Asia-Pacific or the Indo-Pacific, the Indian Navy has been tending this oceanic swath over the last half century with robust presence, nimble and agile responses. With increasing challenges to maritime security comes the need to increase presence and sustain it. Today, the Indian Navy is operating at a high operational tempo for which personnel and assets are deployed for prolonged periods, in difficult seas and conditions. This ‘Stretch’ is being mitigated through capacity development – more platforms, capability and technology, which the Navy seeks to achieve through carefully formulated acquisition plans under the Maritime Capability Perspective Plan, leapfrogging technology induction curves and improving synergy with other services.
Externally, the Indian Navy is seeking collaboration with friendly and like-minded nations with interests in the region. Back-to-back bilateral and multi-lateral exercises/ operations with the navies of USA, Russia, Japan, Australia, France, South Korea, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, Indonesia, Thailand and other nations of the region, is evidence that the global comity recognises the Indian Navy’s efforts of the past decades. The Indian Navy continues to work with these navies to maintain good order at sea and welcomes all like-minded partners to work together to keep the region open and free.
Joint Exercises, Coordinated Patrols, Information and Intelligence sharing, Logistics Support Agreements, pooling of resources such as the Information Fusion Centre-IOR (IFC-IOR), etc, are Indian Navy’s endeavours to ensure that the arduous task of keeping the seas secure is undertaken by committing forces and jointly deploying across the Indo-Pacific. The Indian Navy of today recognises its responsibility in this region and would continue to be the pillar around which a combined ‘Force for Good’ could be built, and deliver.
NAVY’S MULTI-MISSION DEPLOYEMNTS
INS Jalashwa: Highlighting India’s role as first responder in Indian Ocean Region, in consonance with PM’s vision of Security & Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), INS Jalashwa arrived at Port Anjouan Comoros carrying 1,000T relief material. This will be followed by port call in Madagascar.
INS Talwar: On 11 March, Indian Naval Ship (INS) Talwar, deployed for ‘Operation Sankalp’ in Gulf of Oman received a distress call from a stranded cargo ship MV Nayan, requesting for assistance. The cargo ship, on transit from UAE to Iraq, was adrift since 9 March owing to failure of its propulsion, power generation machinery and navigational equipment.
INS Kalpeni: Indian Navy’s INS Kalpeni & Dornier aircraft & Indonesian Navy’s Corvette KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda participated in Passage Exercise PASSEX (2nd in last two months) in Southern Indian Ocean.
INS Shardul: On the occasion of 53rd National Day of Mauritius, giving a befitting tribute to India-Mauritius relations, INS Shardul at Port Louis dressed overall, presented arms in a solemn Flag Hoisting ceremony to the tunes of national anthems of the two countries.
INS DARSHAK: India-Maldives major landmark was achievement for both MNDF & bilateral maritime cooperation with the first joint hydrographic survey of northern islands. This will have a positive impact on coastal zone management, navigation, fisheries, environment protection & economic growth.
The Survey was conducted under the MoU on Hydrography signed in June 2019. Hydrographic surveys will help chart Maldivian waters accurately which in turn will facilitate the ‘Blue Economy’ identified as 1st of the 5 priority sectors in the strategic action plan of government of Maldives.