Combined coastal security exercise to last 48 hours

The second edition of the combined coastal security exercise, called Gemini, for revalidating the existing security apparatus of Kerala and Lakshadweep coasts, will be conducted for 48 hours from 6 a.m. on Thursday.

As in the previous editions, all coastal security stakeholders — including the Navy; Coast Guard; Coastal Police; Departments of Fisheries, Lighthouses and Light Ships, Customs, and Ports; the Intelligence Bureau (IB); and the fishing community — will mobilise their assets as part of the exercise to identify problem areas so as to plug the gaps.

Progressively integrating area-specific coastal security exercises (for instance, Kerala and Lakshadweep coasts used to witness separate half-yearly security drills called Triton and Neptune respectively), there would soon be combined exercises for western and eastern seaboards, which would further get amalgamated to form a single exercise along the entire 7,500-km coastline of the country, security sources told The Hindu.

From the next edition, the Kerala-Lakshadweep combined exercise would get an all-new name — ‘Theera Vetta’ (coastal hunt). The integrated exercise along the entire coastline in the offing would be ‘complex and dynamic.’

“It would be a daunting task to bring about operational synergy among agencies of coastal States and further ensure their coordination with central security organisations. It would also put to test the efficacy of such a huge network in tackling dynamic threats occurring concurrently at various States. But for that to happen, State agencies will have to standardise their capabilities, communication systems, and modes of operation,” said an official.

The forthcoming Kerala-Lakshadweep exercise — coordinated by the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) at the Southern Naval Command with the Coast Guard stations at Fort Kochi and Kavaratti monitoring regional coordination — would see a large number of hired fishing boats from far-off places being commandeered by personnel forming part of the inimical ‘red force’ to carry out simulated attacks at tourist places close to the coast.

The ability of the friendly ‘blue force’ to guard the coast against such attacks as also surprise incursions through inland waterways would be put to test during the exercise, said a source.