The Indian Navy is all set to launch a major exercise in the Arabian Sea, in what is being seen as an effort to test its operational preparedness and try out new strategies. According to a Zee News report, a Naval spokesperson said that the exercise will give the Navy a chance to test the assets of the Mumbai-based Western Naval Command.
ANI has quoted him as saying, “With the withdrawal of the monsoon and improved sea conditions, this is the right time to test our operational preparedness, validate procedures and try out new strategies and concepts of naval operations.”
The exercise seems to be a display of the might of India’s blue water Navy and will live-firing drills, helicopter operations from ships, operational logistics and communication standard operating procedures (SOP) as the core of the exercise in order to improve operational skills and testing of training efficacy. The naval spokesperson said, “It is customary for the Navy to gear up for exercises and deployments immediately following the monsoon season, taking advantage of improved conditions at sea. This is the ideal time to fine-tune our deployment concepts, test communication plans, exercise contingencies at sea and validate our inputs towards better maritime domain awareness.”
This exercise is going to strongly assert the dominance of the Indian Navy in the Arabian Sea Region.
The Indian Navy already enjoys key presence in the region given its anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Moreover, the Indian Navy is also a part of the Operation Sankalp of the Gulf of Oman. This can be seen as yet another tough message to Pakistan given that India has already proved its dominance over Pakistan in the Arabian Sea after a massive deployment post the Balakot airstrikes. Future possibilities of an escalation between India and Pakistan cannot be ruled out. However, with a massive show of strength, the Indian Navy is going to make it clear that India enjoys a definite upper hand when it comes to dominance at sea. This is therefore going to serve as an element of larger strategic deterrence against India’s Western neighbour.
Pakistan had deployed its entire Navy at its coastline two days after the Indian Air Force bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror training camps in Balakot earlier this year. The Pakistan Navy was out in the Arabian Sea at the ports of Karachi, Ormara and Gwadar. The Indian Navy had also deployed its frontline assets. The naval build up had included an aircraft carrier, nuclear-powered attack submarines and several warships. Such was the effect of the Indian Navy’s deployment in the region that Pakistan decided to skip the maritime parade that marked the 70th Anniversary of the Chinese Navy.
While the Indian Navy was able to spare frontline assets for the maritime parade even after a build up in the Arabian Sea, Pakistan which was clearly on the backfoot could not manage even an ordinary warship. This exposed an abject deficiency in Pakistan’s naval capabilities when compared to India.
The exercise also comes as a strong message to China, which is eager to gain naval dominance in the region. China harbours longstanding ambitions of transforming its Navy into a blue-water Navy which is looking to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean Region by raising military or commercial points at strategically located islands to encircle India and contain Indian influence in the region in accordance with the ‘String of Pearls’ theory. Naval strength clearly constitutes the core of this strategy.
India has been able to effectively neutralise the Chinese strategy of jeopardising India’s standing in her own vicinity by building naval bases in the strategically located points of the Indian Ocean Region through vigorous counter measures. India has not shied away from expanding her presence and particularly in the recent past, it has shown great vigour in taking part in what can be described as emerging Sino-Indian competition for presence in the Indian Ocean Region.
Having already moved towards countering the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region, India is now displaying its naval strength in what can be seen as a show of strength and a message to China about who actually dominates the sea.