Navy meet: Focus on China’s presence in Indian Ocean Region
India’s top naval commanders would deliberate and discuss strategic maritime matters, including ways to counter China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), during the four-day naval commanders’ conference that began in the capital on Monday, sources in the defence ministry said.
The naval commanders will also review performance of weapons and sensors and readiness of the Indian Navy platforms.
The sources said the commanders’ conference assumed greater significance amid the ongoing border standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh where the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have opened several fronts since April 2020 and is estimated to have taken over nearly 1,000sq km of India-claimed territory.
So far, India and China have held 15 rounds of military talks but the PLA is said to have refused to restore the pre-April 2020 status in eastern Ladakh and pressed India to accept the altered frontier created by the Chinese transgressions.
A defence ministry official said India was worried over China’s growing influence in the IOR. “The Chinese PLA has been taking assertive stance in the South China Sea and is challenging India’s domination in the region. The agenda during the conference include China’s increasing presence in the IOR,” the official said.
Apart from the navy’s overall operational preparedness, the conference will deliberate upon the dynamics of the geostrategic situation in the backdrop of the security scenario in the neighbourhood as well as changes emerging due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Since the violent clash with the Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley on June 15, 2020, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, the navy has significantly increased its deployment in the IOR, including warships and submarines.
The navy has been on an operational preparedness in the IOR and has stepped up surveillance amid China’s attempt to stake claim to large portions of the disputed South China Sea. The navy’s eastern fleet has also increased deployment of ships in the IOR around the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Besides, army and air force helicopters and fighter aircraft, the navy’s P-8I anti-submarine warfare aircraft are also flying in Ladakh to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance.
During the conference, defence minister Rajnath Singh and foreign minister S. Jaishankar will address and interact with the naval commanders on matters pertaining to national security.
The chiefs of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force will also interact with the naval commanders to address the convergence of the three services vis-à-vis a common operational environment.