New Delhi: Senior commanders of the Indian navy are to discuss combat efficiency and readiness besides strategies to counter the increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean during a three day conclave starting on Tuesday.
The Indian navy’s mission-based deployments in the Indian Ocean Region, the optimal utilisation of its share of the defence budget by prioritising capital acquisitions and modernisation plans to bridge critical capability gaps will be some of the other subjects deliberated at the first of two such annual meetings.
Improving “teeth-to tail" ratio or the effective deployment of military personnel to support combat personnel, use of artificial intelligence, harnessing cutting-edge technologies will also be on the agenda, a statement from the Indian navy said.
“The new deployment philosophy, in furtherance of the prime minister’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), aims at sustained, peaceful and yet responsive presence of Indian naval ships in critical areas and choke points," the statement said.
The deliberations come against the backdrop of increased Chinese naval activity in the Indian Ocean region, seen as India’s traditional sphere of influence. The increased Chinese presence comes in the form of a deep-sea port it has constructed at Gwadar in southern Pakistan and the establishment of a naval base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
Chinese naval ships are also taking part in anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. In response, Indian naval ships have been making port calls across the Indian Ocean region as well as to countries in Southeast Asia—an area that China sees as its backyard.
Last month prime minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping met in the central Chinese city of Wuhan for a rare “informal summit" in which the two leaders discussed ways to improve cooperation between the two countries. One of the aims of the meet was to ensure that their areas of influence grow, two neighbours do not get into increased confrontation with each other, analysts say.
According to the Indian navy statement, the navy’s “focus over the past year has been on combat efficiency and material readiness" including the upkeep of its 131 ships and submarines’ fleet.
“Measures to ensure safety, continued training,and checks and balances on crew proficiency on-board its frontline warships will also be reviewed. An overhaul of the training standards of units by revamping the ‘Ship Operating Standards (SHOPS)’ is also underway," the statement added. Some 27ships and submarines are currently under construction in Indian shipyards, including the first aircraft carrier that is being indigenously built—‘Vikrant’.