MARITIME SECURITY CHALLENGES AND NAVAL EXERCISES
Indian Navy and US Navy interact
- Chief of Naval Operations, US Navy visited India to consolidate bilateral naval relations between India and USA and also to explore new avenues for naval cooperation.
- Indian Navy and US Navy interact regularly at bilateral and multilateral forums and participate in maritime exercises such as MALABAR and RIMPAC.
- Regular Subject Matter Expert exchange also takes place between both the navies to institutionalise interoperability in various fields.
Major Indian Naval Exercises
- Exercise Group Sail 2019
- Exercise Group Sail was carried out with naval ships of Japan, Philippines and the United States of America in contested waters of the South China Seafrom 03 May to 09 May 19.
- IN Ships Kolkata and Shakti,two Indian naval ships joined their counterparts from the US, Japan, and the Philippines for exercise.
- The Group Sail was aimed to deepen the existing partnership and foster mutual understanding among participating navies.
- The ships undertook various exercises en route which included formation maneuvering, under way replenishment runs, cross-deck flying and exchange of sea riders.
- The group sail exercise showcased India’s commitment to operating with like-minded nations to ensure safe maritime environment through enhanced interoperability.
- Significance of the Exercise Group Sail
- It was aimed at deepening existing partnership and fostering mutual understanding among participating country’s navies.
- The exercise comes at a time when Chinese activity in the northern Indian Ocean has become a reason of concern for India.
- The presence of Chinese Naval power has been on the rise.
- China has opened its first overseas military facility in Djibouti and has also been investing heavily in infrastructure along Africa’s eastern coast as part of its ambitious OBOR initiative.
- This move underlined India’s commitment to working with partners to ensure safe and open sea lanes.
Exercise Cutlass Express 2019
- The annual multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express was held from 27 Jan to 06 Feb 2019.
- The exercise is aimed to improve law enforcement capacity, promote regional security and progress inter-operability between the armed forces of the participating nations for the purpose of interdicting illegal maritime activity in the Western Indian Ocean.
- Cutlass Express 2019 is sponsored by S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and is conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa.
- INS Trikand, a front-line warship of the Indian Navy participated in a multinational ‘Cutlass Express – 19’ training exercise.
- During the exercise, Naval, Coast Guard and Marine Police personnel from a number of East African countries were jointly trained by mentors from USA, India, and Netherlands, with support of international organisations.
- INS Trikand
- INS Trikand is a Russian built guided-missile stealth frigate. It is the last of the six stealthfrigates ordered from Russia.
- INS Trikand is equipped with a versatile range of sensors and weapons enabling her to address threats in all the three dimensions – air, surface and sub-surface.
- The ship is a part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet headquartered at Mumbai.
- NS Trikand (F51) is a Talwar class frigate of the Indian Navy.
- The Talwar class – A class of frigates designed and built by Russia for the Indian Navy.
Exercise Sea Vigil 2019
- The first coastal defence Exercise Sea Vigil, conducted by the Navy and Coast Guard, in close coordination with State Governments and Union Territories concluded today, 23 Jan 2019.
- It was the largest such exercise the country had ever witnessed in recent times and saw participation by more than 100 ships, aircraft and patrol boats manned and operated by various security agencies.
- Ten years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, India conducted its largest coastal defence drill, Exercise Sea Vigil.
- It aims to simultaneously activate the coastal security mechanism across all 13 coastal States and Union Territories.
- The Sea Vigil exercise was facilitated by the ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Shipping, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fisheries, Customs and state
- Multi agency audit and identification of gaps, shortfalls and incorporation of lessons learnt into Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are also the desired outcomes.
- Outcomes of Exercise Sea Vigil
- A multi-tiered patrol and surveillance mechanism with focus on technical surveillance and augmenting Maritime Domain Awareness through the coastal radar chain has been adopted.
- Post 26/11, the Navy was designated as the agency responsible for overall maritime security, including offshore and coastal security.
- The Coast Guard was designated as the agency responsible for coastal security in territorial waters.
- Real-time information sharing through the National Command Control Communication and Intelligence (NC3I) Network has been made in improving intelligence and operational coordination.
Theatre Level Readiness and Operational Exercise (TROPEX)
- Tropex is an inter-service military exercise involving the participation of the Indian Army, Air Force, Navy and the Coast Guard.
- TROPEX 19 had commenced with Tri-services Amphibious Exercise in the Andman& Nicobar Islands with the participation of Army and Air Force.
- The exercise generally commences at the beginning of each year and lasts a month.
- It is generally carried out in three phases:
- Independent workup phase
- Joint workup phase
- Tactical phase.
- The exercise is designed to test the combat readiness of the Indian naval units, as well as the Indian Air Force, Indian Army and the Indian Coast Guard.
- It also seeks to strengthen interoperability and joint operations in a complex environment.
- Naval cooperation between India and the United Kingdom is based on the long term strategic relationship between both countries.
- The bilateral KONKAN exercise provides a platform for the two Navies to periodically exercise at sea and in harbour, so as to build interoperability and share best practices.
- The naval exercise Konkan 18 was conducted from November 28 to December 6, 2018 off Goa with units participating fromboth the navies.
- The KONKAN series of exercises commenced in 2004, and since then has grown in scale.
- The thrust of the exercise was on Anti-Air warfare, Anti-Surface Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) and Seamanship Evolutions.
Exercise ‘Samudra Shakti 2018’
- The first-ever bilateral naval exercise ‘Samudra Shakti 2018’ was started between Indian & Indonesian Navy at the port of Surabaya in Indonesia from 12November 2018.
- The aim of the exercise is to strengthen bilateral relations, expand maritime co-operation, enhance interoperability and exchange best practices.
- This would progress to a Sea Phase which includes operations such as Joint Maneuvers, Helicopter Operations, Surface Warfare exercise, ASW exercise and Anti-Piracy exercises.
- The exercise aimed to promote India’s solidarity with Indonesia towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain and to strengthen existing bonds between the navies of the two nations.
Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise SIMBEX 2018
- The 25thedition of Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise was held from 10th to 21st November 2018 off Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.
- This year’s edition marks the Silver Jubilee of SIMBEX.
- It is an annual bilateral naval exercise.
- SIMBEX has progressed beyond its original emphasis on anti-submarine warfare to include elements of maritime security, anti-air and anti-surface warfare.
- The 2017 edition of the exercise was held off Singapore in the South China Sea.
- The number of missiles and torpedo firings were the largest the Indian Navy has undertaken with any foreign Navy till date.
- India-Singapore recent collaboration
- The two countries have vastly expanded their military cooperation in recent years under India’s Act East policy.
- In June 2018, on the side-lines of the Shangrila Dialogue, Prime Minister of both the countries inked many agreements including those under the ‘Defence and Strategic Partnership Sectors.’
- The two countries have signed a naval agreement which has a provision for mutual logistical support and gives India access to the Changi naval base.
Japan-India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) 2018
- The 3rd edition of Japan-India Maritime Exercise was held with the ships of Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy (IN) from 07 October 2018 at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
- JIMEX was started in January 2012 with special focus on Maritime Security Cooperation.
- The JIMEX series is designed to create better interoperability, ensure better understanding, and share best practices between the two navies.
- JIMEX-18 took place after a gap of five years and was demonstrative of the worsening maritime scenario in the Indo-Pacific and the greater coincidence of interests between New Delhi and Tokyo especially in the defense and security arena.
- The last JIMEX took place off the Chennai coast in December 2013.
Importance of the JIMEX
- The conduct of JIMEX-18 after five years is indicative of an upswing in the Indo-Japanese defence relations and the continued efforts to work closely to enhance safety and security of the global commons.
- It will help establishing rule based order on the Indian Ocean Region.
Exercise Kakadu 2018
- It is a multilateral regional maritime engagement exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Navy and supported by the Royal Australian Air Force.
- It is held biennially in Darwin and the Northern Australian Exercise Areas (NAXA).
- Exercise KAKADU, which started in 1993, is the premier multilateral regional maritime engagement exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Navy and supported by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
- The 14th edition of the exercise is going to be held in Darwin in 2018.
- Indian Navy’s participation in KAKADU 18 provides an excellent opportunity to engage with regional partners and undertake multinational maritime activities ranging from constabulary operations to high-end maritime warfare in a combined environment
- 25 different countries were participated in the Exercise.
- Indian ship Sahyadri is going to participate in this exercise.
- It is aimed at enhancing interoperability and development of common understanding of procedures for maritime operations.
Malabar Exercise 2018
- Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners.
- In 2018, the annual Malabar Exercise was held from 7th to 16th June 2018.
- It was conducted off the Guam coast in the Philippine Sea.
- This was the first time that the exercise was being held in US territory.
- The exercise was focused on at-sea and onshore training, maritime patrol, aircraft carrier operations, visit, board, reconnaissance operations, search and seizure operations, and professional exchanges.
- Malabar exercise kicked off in the year 1992, as a bilateral drill between India and U.S.
- In the year 2015, Japan became the permanent member of the Malabar exercise.
- The main aim of the exercise remained to address the shared security threat to maritime security in the Indo-Asia Pacific.
- Japan since 2007 have participated as a non-permanent member along with Australia and Singapore.
Importance of Malabar Exercise
- With China’s growing military strength and its increasing presence in the Indian Ocean, the Malabar exercise has become of greater importance.
- These naval interactions have provided the Indian Navy invaluable insights into the tactics, doctrines, warfare techniques and best practices of the US Navy.
- The three navies could derive mutual benefit from their diverse operational expertise.
- China’s initiative to establish its naval bases in the Indian Ocean, and frequent transit of PLA naval units through Indian waters, maritime cooperation deserve top priority.
- Trade-warfare, amphibious operations, maritime interception operations, anti-access concepts anddisaster relief are of equally importance.
- There is special focus on anti-submarine warfare operations in the backdrop of increasing submarine forays by the Chinese Navy.
- Malabar exercise comes at time of increased friction between China and US along with nations bordering resource rich South China Sea (SCS) as China is militarising reclaimed islands in it to further strengthen its claim.
- China always viewed Malabar with paranoid suspicion that India is colluding with the US in an attempt at “containment”.
- More than 80% of the world’s seaborne trade in oil transits through Indian Ocean.
- With China’s growing military strength and its increasing presence in the Indian Ocean, Malabar exercise has assumed greater importance.
- China’s fears have been aggravated with Japan being included and Australia keen to join as well.
- China had issued a statement to New Delhi questioning the intent behind the war games, which forced India to abandon the expansion.
Why India keeps Australia out of the MALABAR?
- Australia has been keen to join the games on a permanent basis, which has so far not fructified due to India’s reluctance.
- The India-U.S. cooperation was expanded to include Australia, Japan, and Singapore in multilateral official level security talks.
- The expansion of the Malabar exercises, which were already a security concern for China, led to vociferous protests from Beijing, which labeled the exercises as an “anti-China coalition.”
- Under pressure to maintain good relations with the growing economic giant, Australia withdrew from the fledgling Quadrilateral, involving the United States, India, Australia, and Japan.
- Australia’s withdrawal from the Quad in 2007 has left an impression in New Delhi that Canberra could do so again.