Next week, top Navy commanders will look at India’s maritime security and operational readiness, especially in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), where China and Pakistan are working together more and more. At the same time, India’s navy is doing its first trilateral exercise with Tanzania and Mozambique off the coast of east Africa.
Officials said on Saturday that the naval commanders’ meeting, which will take place from October 31 to November 3, will talk about “the dynamics of the geostrategic situation” in the IOR and the wider Indo-Pacific, as well as the Navy’s readiness to deal with it.
The conference comes after Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said, “China remains a formidable challenge and has increased its presence, not only along our land borders, but also in the maritime domain by using anti-piracy operations to normalise its naval presence” in the IOR.
China has the biggest navy in the world, with 355 warships and submarines. Over the past few years, its naval presence in the IOR has grown steadily. Then, after giving Pakistan fighters, missiles, and other military hardware and software, China is now giving Pakistan four advanced frigates and eight Yuan-class diesel-electric submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) for longer time spent underwater.
The Indian Navy said on Saturday that it wants to be “a combat-ready, credible, and cohesive force with an eye toward the future.” It also said that its operational tasks have grown a lot over the years.
“At the same time, the Navy’s reputation as the “preferred security partner” in the IOR has also grown. Commander Vivek Madhwal, a spokesman for the navy, said that the force is ready to deal with any threats to maritime security that come up in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) or elsewhere.
The first India-Mozambique-Tanzania trilateral exercise is now taking place off Dar es Salaam. This is part of a larger plan to strengthen military ties with Africa, where China has made huge strategic gains.
India is taking part in the exercise with the guided missile frigate INS Tarkash, a Chetak helicopter, and elite marine commandos (MARCOS). Commander Madhwal said, “The exercise has three main goals: to improve the ability to deal with common threats through training and sharing best practises, to improve interoperability, and to strengthen maritime cooperation.”
“The exercise shows India’s commitment to improving maritime security, working with its maritime neighbours in the IOR, and promoting SAGAR,” he said. SAGAR stands for “safety and growth for all in the region.”
Soon before the exercise, the India-Africa Defense Dialogue, which took place in Gandhinagar alongside the DefExpo, decided to look into new areas of overlap for defence engagements, such as capacity building, training, cyber security, maritime security, and counterterrorism.