Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Navy promoting Indian diplomatic objectives


The Indian Navy is doing a fantastic job that needs to be recognized.

The Times of India reports:

Navy set for war games on foreign shores
Rajat Pandit
[5 Dec, 2006 0046hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK]

NEW DELHI: The Navy now wants to take the 'battle' to the American, Russian and French shores. No, the Navy is not invading these countries. Instead, it's going to conduct intensive combat manoeuvres with their navies in their own backyards.

"After exercising with them off Kochi, Mumbai and Goa over the last few years, we thought we should send our frontline warships near their shores in 2007," said Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta.

Six Indian warships, including Delhi-class and Rajput-class guided missile destroyers, will be deployed towards 'east' from March onwards. Apart from 'touching' Japan, South Korea and China, they will take part in the Indo-US 'Malabar' exercise off Guam in the western Pacific Ocean in April, said Admiral Mehta.

The same warships will undertake combat exercises, code-named 'Indra', with Russian warships off Vladivostok. Then, in August-September, another group will head for the Gulf region and beyond, rounding it off with Indo-French 'Varuna' war games off the Red Sea.

This unprecedented overseas deployment by Navy blends in perfectly with its philosophy of building 'interoperability' and 'bridges of friendship' with foreign navies. "It will help if we need to operate against a common enemy in the future," said a senior officer.

The Navy, which now increasingly acts as a diplomatic instrument to further the country's political and geo-strategic objectives, will also use the opportunity to project power much beyond Indian shores.

"Constructive engagement is the Navy's principle weapon during peacetime. The idea is to enhance security, stability and tranquility in the entire Indian Ocean Region through constructive engagement of regional and extra-regional maritime states," said a senior officer.

Take US, for instance. The naval combat exercises with the American Navy have undergone a quantum jump in recent times, especially after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in 2001. Indian warships, in fact, even provided "escort" to over 20 American and other coalition ships carrying "high value" cargo across the Strait of Malacca between April and September 2002 in an operation code-named "Sagittarius".

Since then, the bilateral military cooperation has been on an upward trajectory. In the Malabar series, the Indian, US navies regularly practice aggressive interdiction manoeuvres and VBSS (visit, board, search, seizure) operations towards counter-terrorism actions on the high seas.




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