Indian Navy silently tightens grip over Indian Ocean to counter China
As countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand keenly watch the outcome of the standoff at the Doklam in Bhutan between the Indian and Chinese armies; New Delhi has tasked the Indian Navy to silently spread its influence and further strengthen its grip over the Indian Ocean Region.
Besides, the immediate security concern, India’s stand on Doklam is also influenced by the message the outcome of stand-off will send to these neighbouring countries.For the last two and half months Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in face-off at the Doklam plateau in Bhutan. China wants to construct a road through the plateau. India objects to the road and has deployed army.
A LARGE-MULTI-LATERAL EXERCISE OF INDIAN OCEAN LITTORAL COUNTRIES
For the first time ever Bangladesh – which now heads the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) – with the help of India will be organising a large Naval exercise involving over a dozen countries.
The IONS is an India initiative to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region. The IONS was conceived by the UPA government to get “friendly” navies of the region together to counter the increased aggressiveness of China in the Indian Ocean region.
The exercise – likely to see participation from over a dozen countries – is likely to be held in the Bay of Bengal. The IONS platform had become dormant in the past-few years, “we have decided to revitalize the platform,” a senior Ministry of Defence official told India Today and added “a large exercise with the participation of several littoral countries sends a tacit but a clear message.”
REACHING OUT TO THE NEIGHBOURS
While China has been reaching out with big bucks, India has decided to take a more benign approach. Indian Navy is launching the Sambandh initiative – Naval officers and cadets from smaller countries that do not have big navies will now be welcome aboard INS Vikramaditya -India’s aircraft carrier- Kolkatta class destroyer- the state of the art stealth guided missile destroyer – INS Kalvari – Scorpene Class diesel- electric submarine etc.
“Cadets and officers of smaller navies will get flavour of blue-water navy and how big navies are organised,” a senior officer said. Cadets and officers from countries like Bangladesh, Kenya, Oman, Tanzania, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam etc will soon be on these platforms. South Block has already given its clearance to the initiative.
MOBILE TRAINING TEAM
Apart from the Sambandh initiate the Indian Navy is reaching out to the neighbourhood extending his training out-reach programme. Training teams of the Indian Navy will now be going to neighbouring countries.
“Many countries aren’t able to send their officers, cadets to a foreign country for training, this initiative will be plug that gap,” a senior officer said.
Each Mobile Training Team (MTT) will comprise 8 to 10 officers and can train more of officers at their home bases the officer added. Bangladesh has already asked India to set-up its submarine naval training school.
Earlier, India had trained a group of its submarine cadets at the Visakhapatnam based INS Satavahana. The Navy has been approached by the countries Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar for MTT.
MORE PERMANENT DEPLOYMENT OF INDIAN WARSHIPS
Indian Naval warships will now be permanently deployed at the Malacca Straits -the crucial strait connecting the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean linking major Asian economies such as India, China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea- and Indian warships will be more visible at Sunda Straits – a crucial passage that connects Indian Ocean to Eastern Asia.
About 70 per cent of the global trade by value passes through the Malacca and Sunda Straits.